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Borrowstounness and District
Chapter IV. What the Privy Council Registers Reveal. Period 1549-1668

1. Kinneil and the Fort on Inchkeith: Carriden Man, Keeper of Haven of Bo'ness, 1565: Saltmaking an Early Industry: Regulations as to Salt Export—2. Protective Measures Concerning Plague: The Mercat Cross, Kinneil: Opposition from Linlithgow—3. The Royal Visit of 1617—4. Attempt to Evade Customs: Restrictions Regarding Coal Exportation: The Troubles of Roger Duncanson, Coalmaster—5. Threatened Invasion by Spain—6. Plague Precautions of 1635: A Bellicose Gentleman—7. Regulation of Coal Supply and Charges : An Echo of Commonwealth: A Re-edified Kirk Seat—8. Extraordinary Rioting at Caldwall of Grange—9. Peremptory Measures Anent Plague—10. Linlithgow Magistrates in Trouble—11. The "Clenging" of Goods and Vessels : Letters of Marque: The Old Roadways of Borrowstounness.


The Privy Council of Scotland was practically the executive body of the Scots Parliament. It was a very excellent institution, as its Acts and minute-books show. The scope of its business embraced nearly every kind of question—civil, criminal, and administrative. Particular attention was paid to measures to preserve the peace, and to regulations for preventing the country from being infested by plague and pestilence. The registers of this important Council naturally contain much of historical value concerning all parts of Scotland. There are many things of very considerable local interest. Instead of giving the local complaints and supplications in all their quaint detail, we now refer to them in short narratives, and only give the original phrasing when specially interesting.

On 22nd June, 1549,1 the Council Ordered Kinneil (no word yet of Bo'ness), as one of "the borrowis on the sydes of Forth and great tonnes and throuchfares that lyis within tua myles to the coist of the samen," to send its quota of men to assist in building a fort on Inchkeith for resisting the old enemies of England. It appears the number of "pioneers," as they were termed, needed to assist in the work was 400, and that they were to get 2s. per day (Scots).

We find the first reference to Bo'ness on 19th October, 1565.1 It indicates the beginning of life at the port. On this date the Council appointed Patrick Cruming of Carriddin "keeper of the haven of Borrowistounness, and all the bounds betwixt the same and Blakness for watching the passage of any of the enemies of their Majesties." This gentleman's name we have also noticed in connection with the ownership of certain land in Wester Carriden. He is there designed as "Patrick Crumbie in Carriden, first janitor to the then Queen's Majesty."

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries both shores of the Firth of Forth were studded with salt pans, and a big export trade was developed. Locally there are references to Kinneil pans, or the Duke's pans, situated in the vicinity of the present slaughter-house at Corbiehall; to the Grange pans —the pans connected with Grange estate; to Bonhard pans— connected apparently with the estate of Bonhard, but situated on the Carriden shore near the present tollhouse; and to Caris pans, evidently the pans on Carriden estate, situated a few hundred yards to the east of the present Burnfoot.

The local and other saltmasters had for some time prior to 13th October, 1573, exported very largely. So much so that the lieges could only procure what salt they desired for home use at a ridiculously high price. They complained to the Council, and an order was pronounced prohibiting the export of salt for three years. The panmasters then complained that they could not live if the export were altogether stopped.

and they offered to supply the natives with what salt they required at 8s. the boll, if liberty was granted them to export the rest. This was agreed to by the Council. Fulfilment of the agreement was delayed by the panmasters of Culross, Kinneil, and some other places. On this being reported, the Lords ordained proclamation to these panmasters to be made in the neighbouring towns of Stirling and Linlithgow, ordaining them to sell, and the lieges to buy the said salt at not more than 8s. the boll—the former to open their cellars and girnels to that effect at once, otherwise their lordships would force them, or, as it is put, "make open doors."

It would appear that the saltmasters resented the order, and honoured it more in the breach than in the observance, because on 20th September2 of the next year, the Lords ordained that their proclamation be again made, and among other places, at the Mercat Cross of Borrowstounness.

The salt exportation question was again brought up during the administration of Regent Morton. The panmasters of Borrowstounness, Culross, and Fordell, on 10th January, 1574-5,3humbly offered the Regent and Council that of every going pan in these places three bolls of salt, Kirkcaldy measure, would be delivered to such person as should have the commission of the Council to receive the same at 10s. the boll under a penalty of three bolls for each boll wanting. This was to continue till 25th February, and such salt was for the service of the country. A few days later an order was pronounced directing the panmasters of "Barrestounes" and others to compear before the Council and receive their commissions for furnishing and disposing of their salt.


On 20th September, 1580, proclamation was to be made at, among other places, "the Mercat Crose of Kynneill," against the landing of the passengers of a plague-infected ship which had arrived in the Firth of Forth.

We find evidence, on 29th September, 1601,5 of what we think is the first of several very natural attempts on the part of the royal burgh of Linlithgow to prevent the seaport of Bo'ness from developing into a rival of the county town, and particularly of its seaport of Blackness.

On this date a complaint was tabled by the Provost, Bailies, Council, and community of Linlithgow against the town of Borrowstounness. A Signature, the narrative states, had been presented to His Majesty in name of James, Earl of Arran,6and John Marquis of Hamilton, his tutor, for erecting the town of Borrowstounness, alleged by the complainers to be within a mile of the port of Blackness, into a burgh of barony, and his Highness had subscribed the same. The signature granted to Borrowstounness, among other privileges, the liberties of "ane frie port of packing, peilling, lossing, laidning, and selling of staple wairis, sic as skynis, hydis, woll, wyne, wax, and all uther kynd of merchandice and wairis usit to be sould and bocht within any burgh Regale within this realm, with all customes and ankerages belonging to a port and heaven of a frie burgh." This, Linlithgow pleaded, was to the ''grite wrak and decay of thair burgh end heaven (Blackness) quhilk is biggit and repairit be thame for saiftie of schipis and boittis upoun thair grit expensses." The provost and bailies of Linlithgow appeared personally, and the signature was produced. The lords ordained it to be expede through the Register and Seals till the pursuers be warned and heard to the contrary.

What resulted does not appear to be recorded. Apparently Borrowstounness was made a port, notwithstanding the protest, for we find that on 27th April, 1602, the Privy Council discharged it from being a port along with numerous other places because of the smuggling that went on.

The year 1617 was a busy and exciting one for the Privy Council. That year James VI. visited Scotland for the first time after leaving to ascend the throne of England in 1603. Nowadays, with railways, royal trains, and motor cars, a royal tour in Scotland causes little or no upheaval in the daily round of the people. In these days it was the very opposite. The visit took place in June, and comprised a fortnight's hunting in the north of Scotland, chiefly in the Kingdom of Fife, a stay of a week or two at Holyrood, and among other places visits to Stirling, Perth, and St. Andrews. We are concerned here only with the journey from Holyrood to Stirling. The chief work of the Privy Council was that of making arrangements for the carriage of His Majesty's luggage, including a great quantity of silver plate for the use of His Majesty during his stay in Scotland. Meeting after meeting was held, and the reports of these detail the preparations in the different sheriffdoms concerned justices also appointed two general constables for the whole sheriffdom, "quho sal be answerable to the Maister of the cariage that the constablis in the particular parrocheis foirsaidis sail haif the horsse of the parrocheis in reddynes at the tymes and placeis to be appointed."

The special constables and number of horses from our district are referred to thus—"That is to say, in the parrochynnis of Kynneill and Carribdin quhair Richard Bryce, Officiair of Kynneill; James Wilsoun, Officiair in Carribdin, David Galbraith, in Kynneill; and Johnne Hendersoun, in Murehous, ar Constablis, fourescoir horsse."

A part of the luggage was to be lifted at "Haliruidhous" upon Saturday, 28th June, and to be carried from there to Stirling, and the remainder was to be taken upon Monday, the last day of June. The parishes were all to obey their special constables; and they in turn were to answer and obey the two general constables for the whole shire. The parishes and constables jointly were directed to "caus the nomber of horsse abone written, sufficientlie providit with all furnitour necessair fer cariage, to be send in dew and laughfull tyme the saidis dayis about the brek of daye to the pallice of Haliruidhous and thair to lift his Majestie's cariage and to carye the same thairfra to the said burgh of Striviling."

Payment was to be made to the owners of the horses; but if any failed to appear as appointed, there was to be a fine of ''sax pundis for everie horsse that salbe absent, and warding of the ownaris for the space of ane month."

Particulars of the great receptions accorded the King on this occasion in Leith, Edinburgh, and elsewhere, with copies of the speeches and poems delivered will be found in the Edinburgh volume of 1618 called "The Muses Welcome" William Drummond, of Hawthornden, wrote one of the poems for the occasion in ryhvming heroics" entitled "Forth Feasting: A panegyricke to the King." It is put first in the volume among all the literary relics of the King's visit. Subjoined are a few of the opening lines. The river Forth is supposed to be speaking them—

Anne, Duchess of Hamilton. {Photographed by permission from a painting in Hamilton Palace.)

What blustering noise now interrupts my sleep?
What echoing shouts thus cleave my crystal deep,
And call me hence from out my watery Court?
What melody, what sounds of joy and sport,
Be these here hailed from every neighbor Spring?
With what wild rumours all the mountains ring,
Which in unusual pomp on tiptoes stand,
And full of wonder overlook the land?
Whence come these glittering throngs, these meteors bright,
These golden people set unto my sight?

It should be noted in connection with this Royal visit that James, second Marquis of Hamilton, and proprietor and superior of Kinneil and Bo'ness, took a prominent part in it, being in attendance on the King the whole time. He was then a young man, and held in high esteem by his Sovereign. On the King's southward journey the Marquis entertained him for two days at Hamilton Palace.


On 14th December, 1620, the Council disposed of complaint at the instance of the King's Advocate against Gabriel Rankine, younger, John Johnstoun, William Damahoy, and Gilbert Lothiane, all merchant burgesses of Edinburgh. They were charged with having by themselves or their factors packed a great quantity of merchant gear in trunks and coffers at a port in Flanders. They there found a Flemish ship coming to this country for coals, and resolved " to mak thair advantage of that occasiouiie and to send hame thair guidis in the said ship thinking thairby that trunkis, kistis, and cofferis wald be concealed and that they would releive thamselffis of his Majesteis Customes." The goods were taken on board, and on the ship arriving at "Barristounnes" the "searchers" and "customaris" in attendance there desired the merchants to make a lawful entry of their gear and to open their trunks and coffers in order that the goods "might have been sighted and some course and ordour tane for the assureance of his Majesteis customes." The defenders, however, not only refused to do so, but quietly removed their cargo, and so defrauded His Majesty of his customs. Gabriel and Gilbert appeared personally before the Council, and the former was found guilty and ordered into the ward in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh. Gilbert was assoilzied on his own oath of verity, and the two absent defenders were denounced rebels.

A proclamation was made by the Council on 29th November, 1621,8 for remedy of the sufferings of the lieges owing to the extreme scarcity of coal or other fuel, and ordained that the owners of coal-heughs on both sides of the water of Forth should let the lieges be first served with coal expeditiously and at the old prices before the foreign dealers frequenting the Forth for coal should be served therewith. Notwithstanding this, we find that on 12th February, 1622, they had before them the complaint of George Mairtyne, George Harper, John Law, James Gib, elder, and David Hirrene, all of Borrowstounness, against Roger Duncanson, tacksman and owner of the coal and coal-heugh of Borrowstounness, for having ignored the above proclamation. They narrated that, having gone to Duncanson, " and earnestly desired him to sell them their lading of coals at the ordinary price and measure, he not only wrongouslie refusit to do the same and preferrit strangeris unto thame, but he highted the pryce of his coillis ane mark upoun the chalder and hes maid ane grite chang and alteratioun in his measure diminishing the same verrie far." Patrick Glen (not before named) appearing personally for himself and the other pursuers, and the defender being also present, the lords found the complaint not sufficiently proved and assoilzied the defender.

On 27th February, 1623, the same Roger Duncanson, designed merchant-burgess of Edinburgh, complained that on 24th October last, as he was riding from Leith to Bo'ness alone and unarmed, about the business of his coal-heughs, John

Houston followed him from Leith on horseback, and having overtaken him at Ecclymure, drew his whinger to kill him. Duncanson took the whinger from him, and then Houston struck him with his "nieve" and a stick. Houston swore he did nothing of the kind, and was acquitted.

Again we find a petiton by Roger Duncanson, in which he narrates that he for many years at great expense erected and maintained works for keeping out the water, in so much that by the daily attention required the revenue had never exceeded the outlay. That when at last he hoped to have found some profit, David Kerse and Archibald Liddell " pierced a strong wall and bulwork " he had erected for keeping out the water, which thus gaining entrance had drowned nine of the best heads of the heugh. For long he could make no discovery of those who did the mischief. In course of time, however, information came out, and Kerse, fearing lest one Mungo Adie would give evidence against him, made an attack upon him (Adie) with a whinger in the petitioner's chamber "on a Sabbath night at ten o'clock two days ago, and has since lain in wait for him with a sword." He craved the citation of Kerse and Liddell, and this was ordered to be done. There is no record of the result of the complaint.


On 17th June, 1623,11 the Council desired proclamation to be made at the Mercat Cross of Borrowstounness •against throwing ballast into the Forth above Queensferry indiscriminately. Eight years later proclamation was again ordered to be made at, among other places, "the mercat croce of Borowstounnesse" to the same effect.

A minute of date 1st April, 1625,12 runs—"It has pleasit God to visite the toune of Borrowstounes with some little infection of the contagious seeknes of the pest, whilk (in respect of the confused multitude of poore people within the same) may haif some forder growth and progress" Therefore Sir John Hamilton, of Grange, and Mr. Alexander Hamilton, of Kinglass, are appointed special justices within the said town and parishes of Kinneil and Carriden to take measures to prevent its spreading. They are empowered to hold Courts and punish transgressors of their Acts.

It was reported to the Council on 4th October, 1625,13 that a Dunkirk barque, pretending to be a Hollander come for coals, was then lying about Caribden, and had been along the whole coast of the Forth on both sides plumbing the water. Commission was therefore given to Sir John Hamilton, of Grange, and Alexander Bruce to seize the ship and send the skipper to Edinburgh for examination.

On 11th July, 1626, owing to a threatened invasion by Spain, the burghs on the Firth, including Borrowstounness, were ordered to send commissioners to confer with the Council and to say what they were prepared to do in the manning of a navy for defence of the coasts. The commissioners compeared on 25th July, and stated that they could not do anything. Owing to the long peace the best of their ships were either sold or absent on voyages, nothing but small, unarmed barques remaining. As for the sailors, the most of them belonged to Fife and were at the fishing in the Isles. They would not return till September. In connection with the same matter the bailies of Bo'ness were, on 23rd August,15ordered to send six mariners out of this town towards the Scottish contingent for H.M. Navy. By 20th September they had not done so, and the Council ordered a charge of horning to be directed against them to do it.

The Council had news, on 14th November, 1626,17 of a "Flemis" ship in Leith harbour which was said to have contained implements for making counterfeit coin. These, it was reported, had now been transferred to another " Flemis " ship lying about Caribden with the view to being taken out of the kingdom. Order was then given to H.M. Customs at Caribden to board that ship and make search for these implements, and if found to send them to the Council.

In the report afterwards18 made the ship was given out to be a Holland ship driven back by contrary winds. Search had been duly carried out, but nothing found.

Relative to another royal visit to Linlithgow and Stirling —that of Charles I. in 1633—we find the Council as usual made all arrangements for the conveyance of His Majesty's baggage. These were similar to those made in 1617, only now we find "carts and wains" stipulated for in addition to horses. The local order ran—"For the Parishes of Kinneil and Caribden, James Gib, in Kinneill Kers, Richard Bryce, officer of Kinneill, and Thomas Napier, officer of Caribdin ar appointed Constablis and ar to provide from the inhabitants eighty horses with carts and wains."


The low countries being infected with the plague, the Council, on 29th September, 1635,19 proceeded to take means for preventing ships from thence entering Scottish ports till they were known to be clean. The committee appointed by the Council to see their orders carried out in Borrowstounness and Caribden were Sir John Hamilton of Grange, James Hamilton, his eldest son, Walter Cornwall of Bonhard, William Drummond of Rickartoun, Thomas Dalyell of Binns, Mr. Alexander Hamilton of Kinglass, John Hamilton, Chamberlain of Kinneil, the Provost and Bailies of Linlithgow, and Sir John Hamilton, Younger of Bargaine.

Some Holland ships having gone up the Firth, on 4th November, towards Caribden to discharge their cargoes and get coals, the Lords ordain that the goods in the ship of which George Henderson is skipper and those in the other Flemish ships shall be returned therein to the low countries. They, however, allowed John Maill and his wife and all other native passengers to come ashore and bring their kists and clothes with them, where they are to be 4 closed up and sett apart in loodges to abide there tryall for the space of "sax weeks." The Lords further directed the magistrates of Linlithgow and Borrowstounness to provide lodges for them, and '' to see thame handle thair kists and cloathes and to be cleanged." The said passengers were not to violate the orders of the magistrates on pain of death. Coals were to be supplied to the ships, but the carriers to the ships' sides were not to enter the ships.

On 12th November, 1635,21 Alexander Downie, merchant burgess of Edinburgh, explained to the Council he had some tarred tackling in a ship of Rotterdam, lying at Borrowstoune, to which the Council had given permission to receive coals. Downie urged the tackling was not a thing likely to carry infection, and craved delivery of it. The Lords remitted the matter to the discretion of the local Commissioners.

Report was made on 7th June, 1636,22 concerning one Alexander Park, merchant burgess of Linlithgow. He five weeks before had loaded a ship with grain at Rotterdam which eight days ago had arrived at Borrowstounness. The ship was free from sickness, but the Commissioners refused to allow the grain to be unloaded. It was heating, and would soon spoil, and Park supplicated the Council's permission to land it. The Lords permitted the ship's company and such workmen as the magistrates of Linlithgow should think fit to discharge the cargo and store the grain in some lofts and other convenient places at Blackness or Caribdin to preserve it from spoiling. The ship's company and workmen were to remain apart by themselves with the grain till such time as the magistrates should prescribe their trial.

John Gordon of Innermerkie was charged, on 8th September, to "betake himself" to prison at Blackness. It was complained of him that he frequented public places openly, and in particular it was said "he repairs publicly to Borrowstounness market and fairs wearing his hagbut and pistols."

On 19th April, 1642,24Thomas Mure, merchant in Edinburgh, complained that "certain goods and spicery" with iron ware which he had shipped at Amsterdam in Robert Mitchell's ship of Bo'ness had been with said ship put under arrest, and he craved delivery. The Lords directed delivery to be given on his finding caution to the arresters.


On 19th October, 1643,25 a committee was appointed for visiting the whole coal-heughs of Linlithgowshire to determine the amount to be supplied by each for the use of the shire. Sir William Dick of Braid declared his willingness to supply from the coal of Caribdin his just proportion. He was then lessee of the coalfield.

General complaint made, on 9th November, by two burghs against the coalmasters for exporting their coal, insufficiently supplying the country, and keeping the price too high. Charge was given the coalmasters to answer. The Lords fixed the prices at which the coal was to be sold at the different places, "and the chalder of coals at Caribdin, Grange, Bonhard, and Borrowstoun, quhilk is the double of Alloway measure to be sold at six pounds, and the land laid, being ane measure of ane water boll at six shillings." (The Alloa chalder is £3. Sir George Preston of Valliefield's measure is more than double that of Bo'ness, and four and a half times that of Alloa, and he is to charge £12 the chalder.)

Oliver Cromwell's chief agent in Scotland was General Monk. He and some of his colleagues were rewarded, or rewarded themselves, with the lands of several of those nobles whose estates the Protector had been pleased to declare forfeited to the Commonwealth. An echo of this period was heard on 16th February, 1665, when the Duke of Hamilton presented to the Council a report on behalf of the Commissioners who had some time previously been appointed "to consider the claims of such persons as were forfeited by the late usurpers." They had considered, among others, the claims made by Duchess Anne and himself for relief from certain payments of interest and annual rents which were demanded from them by several persons, but which, owing to the seizure of their estates for eight years in the time of the Commonwealth (from which estates these sums were due), they did not consider they should be called upon to pay. The Commissioners agreed with them, and reported accordingly. The Duke and Duchess were heavy sufferers in that time, and, among others, Kinneil and its belongings, coal, salt, &c., were seized by General Monk, who would not relinquish them until he got payment therefor. The whole furniture of Kinneil House was carried off by the English.

The Council, on 16th January, 1662,28 had to deal with a night attack at Kinneil Church. That day Sir John Fletcher, Knight, His Majesty's Advocate, and Mr. William Crauford, portioner of Kinneill, complained against David Murray, farmer in Borrowstoun; David Murray, younger, his son; James Hardy, maltman, there; George Mitchell, smith, there; George Mitchell, younger, his son, there; Archibald Gib, farmer, there; Alexander Hardy, younger, farmer, there; James Brown, coalier, there; James Hardy, weaver in Borrowstoun; and Janet Aitkinheid, there. Crauford and his predecessors had been in peaceful possession of a seat in the Parish Church of Kinneil past all memory of man. The complaint narrates that the seat had lately been "re-edified " by him, and that he had continued to possess same until the above defenders " having casten off all fear of God and reverence and respect to His Majesty's authority and laws on . . .

January instant entered the said kirk in a violent and tumultuarie maner under silence and cloud of night, being armed with swords, staffes, axes, and such lyke weapons, resolving to have the lyfe of any person that should offer to resist them, and most violentlie and unwarrantablie with axes and other instruments of purpose prepared, destroyed and cutted the said dask all in pieces."

Parties being cited, and the complainer compearing, but none of the defenders, the Lords ordained the latter to be put to the horn and escheated.


On 8th April, 1668, the Lords had to deal with two very serious complaints.

The complainers were Dame Christian Forrester, Lady Grange, widow of Sir James Hamilton of Grange, and Mr. John Wauch, minister of Borrestounnesse, "now her spouse." Mr. Wauch was the first minister of Bo'ness after it was disjoined from Kinneil. Evidently he had been a widower, with a family, when he espoused Lady Grange. The two, at any rate, conceived a vigorous destructive policy for " redding things up " at the Caldwall. The complaint states that the predecessors and authors of the complainers had beyond the memory of man been in possession of the lands and barony of Grange, coal heughs thereof, sinks, watergangs, and levels of the same, and particularly "of ane levell wrought diverse years ago by Sir George and Elexander Bruces, tacksmen of the coall of Grange, and the Lairds of Grange runing throw that pairt of the said lands called the Caldwall." And that on a certain recent date James Riddell, merchant, indweller in Leith, and present tacksman of the coal works of Kinglassie, "without any warrand or order of law accompanyed with Hendrie Measson, his oversman; Thomas Measson, William Measson, Alexander Whyt, Thomas Brown, Thomas Cairns, Arthur Cairns, Alexander Cairns, and Andrew Patoun, coal-heughers; Alexander Henderson, his coall grieve; John Harvie, cairter; William Ker in the Nesse, and diverse others, their complices, all boddin and provydit with spades, shovels, and other materialls, did in ane tumultuary maner come to the ground of the said lands of Grange called the Caldwall, and by force and violence entered to the digging and casting up of the said levell; off which ryott and oppression the said Lady Grange haveing gotten notice she accompanied with some few servants, haveing in ane peaceable maner gone to the place and offered to make interruption, the fornamed persons did most cruelly assault them and beat and stroak some of her servants to the effusion of ther blood and perill and hazard of ther lyves," and for which they craved the offenders ought to be punished.

There was a counter complaint at the instance of the said James Riddell, who is designed as merchant in Leith, and heritable proprietor of the lands, coal, and saltworks of Kinglassie, which gives another version of the disturbance. He and his authors since the year 1638 had been in peaceable possession of "ane levell and water passage throw the lands of Grange frae Munsholl coall to the sea, conform to ane right and disposition made by umquhile Sir James Hamiltoun of Grange, with consent of Dame Christian Forrester, his spous, and Alexander Bruce of Alva, to John Hamiltoun of Kinglassie, his author, dated the 8th of April, 1638, off wh. water course k level the said John Hamiltoun, his author, continued in peaceable possession untill the year 1650; that the said coall works were destroyed, ruined, and drowned by the English; att which tyme he, being unable of himself to recover the saids coall works, did engadge the said complainer to erect & sett up the same agayn; & the said compleaner, out of affection to the mantinance of trade, haveing erected agayne the said coall works with great trouble & in draneing of water, setting doune of sinks, running of levells & water courses maintaining the wayes & passages & enjynes belonging thereto, expended above the soume of fourescore thousand merkes; & conforme to the forsaid disposition, haveing entered to <fe continued in possession of the forsaid levell thei twelve years past being the only mean wherby the said coall may be dryed & made profitable without stop or interruption, till about Lambus last Mr. Johne Wauch, present spouse to the said Dame Christian Forrester, Lady Grange, out of meer malice and envye, without any warrand or order of law, did att his owne hand stop & dame up the said levell & water course. Against which violence the said compleaner then protested & took instruments. And now in the spring season the said compleaner, with some of his servants, in a peaceable maner being goeing about the clearing of the said water passage, without fear of any hazard or prejudice, true it is that upon the twentie-eight of March last bypast the persons underwritten, viz., the said Dame Christian Forrester, Sara Wauch, in Grange Place; Rachel! Wauch, Issobell Wauch, Margaret Baillie, Henrieta Baillie, Andrew Allan, in Grangepans; Johne Johnson, bellman; Johne Love, officer; Robert Adam, in Kinneill; Johne Pollock, coal hewer to Grange; Thomas Davie, James Cairns, Robert Wilson, Johne Browne, the barne; James Robinson and John Mutter, coal hewers, there; Robert Mitchell, footman to Mr. John Wauch; Matthew Riddock, William Dishington, James Anderson, Alexander Cowie, Johne Boyd and Johne Patoun, salters; Isobell Wyllie, Christian Gibson, wyf to Johne Campble; Margaret Drysdaill, Agnes Dick, coall bearers; Margaret Ritchie, salt bearer; Robert Baillie, Salter; Catherin Miller, wyf to Edward Hodg, coall bearer; and Agnas Davie, wyf to John Porteous, of the specially causing, sending, hunding out, and direction of the said Mr. John Wauch, all boddin in fear of wear, airmed with swords, staffs, stones, battons, and other weapons invasive, did in ane violent and hostile manner fall upon the said compleaner (Riddell) and his servants, and gave them many bauch and blae stroaks to the perill and hazard of thir lyves and effusion of their blood in great quantity, by which rable and multitud of wicked and insolent persons they were necessitate to flee for safetie, who, notwithstanding of the violence done to the saids compleaners, a great multitud of them, and especially fyve or sex woman of the said Mr. Johne Wauch, his family, did persew them most cruely and unchristianly, and trew att them above the number of fyve hundreth stones to the great hazard of ther lyves, and by God's providence very narrowlie escaped, as instruments taken upon the civill behaviour and cariage of the said compleaner and his servants and of the forsaid insolence and violence produced bears. By which bangstry and oppression not only is the said compleaner in hazard to be ruined in his private fortune and estate, the publick trade and commerce greatlie prejudged, and the customs bullion and other publick dueties impaired, bot above the number of fyve hundreth poor persons, who, these twelve years bypast have had ther only lyvlihead by the saids works, are in hazard to be starved and famished. Wherefor in all justice, equity, and reason the said Mr. Johne Wauch ought not onlie be decerned to make and keep open the said levell in all tyme comeing to the effect that the said compleaner may have the use and benefite thereof for draining of his saids coallworks as he has formerlie been in possession conforme to his just rights, and to make payment to him of the damage sustained by him throw the said oppression, bot otherwayes exemplary punished in his person and goods to the terror of others to committ and doe the lyke in tyme comeing." Charge having been given to both parties, and both compearing personally, the Lords, having heard the complaints and answers, granted commission to the Earls of Linlithgow and Kincairdin, " with thair first conveiniency to visite the levell in debate and to hear both parties thereanent; and, if they find cause, with power to examine witnesses upon oath for clearing the whole mater lybelled, and to endeavour to agree the pairties, or otherwayes to report the next Councill day."

The Commissioners had presumably managed to "agree the pairties," for the minutes contain no further reference to the matter.


The plague raged with so great virulence in Holland, and the trade of this kingdom with that country was so great that the Council had once more to take the strictest precautions by the issue of peremptory orders and proclamations to prevent the disease being carried to this country. The following entries give us some idea of how these measures were carried out locally.

On 22nd December, 1663,30 the Lords were informed that, notwithstanding their orders prohibiting ships from Holland entering any of the harbours or ports of Scotland until they had lain in quarantine for forty days, several ships, after being debarred from entering the harbours of Queensferry and Borrowstounness, had landed at Grange and other places betwixt the said two ports to the endangering of the country. Therefore the Lords gave "warrand, power, and command to the magistrattes of Linlithgow and Queensferrie, and to my Lord Duke Hamilton and his baylie of Kinneil, or any of them, to debar and stop the entry of all shipes, or landing of persons and goods from Holland at any place betwixt the saids two ports of Queensferrie and Borrowstounnesse."

On 2nd February, 1664, they considered a petition byAndro Burnsyd, John Dumore, and Robert Allan, shipmasters in Borrowstounness; Thomas Fleming, Edward Hodge, and Andro Duncan, shipmasters in Grangpannes, craving for a relaxation of the prohibition. In support they stated that upon information from Sir William Davidson, Conservatour in Holland, and Mr. John Hog, Minister at Rotterdam, together with his elders, the plague was much arrested in Amsterdam, and that there was no infection for the present in Rotterdam. The Lords in this case ordained that the quarantine should only be "Threttie dayes after they come to the porte." The magistrates of Linlithgow and Queensferry and the Duke of Hamilton's bailie were to see the quarantine punctually observed " by making of the said shipmasters and their company keip themselves within ship boord in the road, setting of watches for that purpose, and preser ving of such other orders as they should think expedient."

The Lords gave warrant and command on 16th February, 1664,32 to the magistrates of Queensferry, the Laird of Grange, and the Duke's bailie, or any of them, to arrest several Dutch skippers, whose names are not given, for refusing obedience to the orders, and, as the complaint asserts, had "landed at Cuff about Pannes, and doe at their pleasure goe abroad in severall places of the countrey." When seized they were to be "Shutt up and keipt close " until the forty days' quarantine expired, "and in the meantyme the saills and roes to be taken from their mastes."

On 23rd February, 1664,33 Major Robert Hamilton, the Duke's bailie, reported that John Umphra (Humphrey), skipper in Borrowstounness, had asked permission to store his goods in cellars till the quarantine expired, and as he (the bailie) could not comply until he had warrant for so doing from the Council he craved accordingly. The Major was authorised to allow the skipper "to liver his goods and put them in sellars by themselves till the expiry of the time of trial," and the Earl of Linlithgow was recommended to see this done.

Information was supplied the Council on 14th July, 1664,34that two Dutch ships and other two ships, one belonging to one Duncan and the other to one Weightman, were loading goods contrary to the orders prescribed by the Acts of Council, "and doe most contumaciously refuse to be hindered or stopped by those having power from the Councill." The Council therefore commanded and ordained the ships to go out of the harbour and port of Borrowstounness within forty-eight hours, after intimation, "and if they disobey and remove not within the said space the lords doe give warrand and command to Major Hamilton, the Lord Duke Hamiltounnes baylie, to fyre and burn the saids shipes."

The Lords were also informed that same day that five ships had lately arrived at Grangepans or Borrowstounness, and were there loading contrary to the orders of Council. These were also commanded and ordained "to goe to sea and remove from these places within twenty-four hours after intimation; and in case they doe not give obedience, the said lords gives warrant and command to the Lord Duke Hamiltoun's baylie to sett fyre to the shipes and burn them."


The Lords of the Privy Council, on 17th August, 1664,35ordained that "Gavin Marshall, merchand in Linlithgow, be sett at liberty out of the Tolbuith of Borrowstounnesse, and recommended Major Hamiltoun, the Lord Duke Hamiltoune's baylie, to take sufficient caution for the appearance of the said Gavin before the Councill upon Tuesday nixt under the pains of ane hundredth lib. stg." A feasible explanation of the cause of Marshall's imprisonment is furnished at the sederunt of the Council a fortnight later—6th September36—when Robert Mill, bailie of Linlithgow, Alexander Mill, and Gavin Marshall, bailies there, and Hamiltoun of Grange, were all summoned to appear to answer for loading a Dutch ship with coal in contravention of the Council's order. These persons appeared, also Major Robert Hamiltoun, bailie of Kinneil, to whom the execution of the orders of the Council were entrusted. The Lords found that the said Alexander and Robert Mills and Gavin Marshall had transgressed, as they well knew, of the orders of the Council. They, therefore, ordained them to enter the Tolbooth of Edinburgh as prisoners during their Lordships' pleasure, and to pay 200 merks to the said Major Hamiltoun for the charges and expense he had been put to in the execution of the Council's orders. The contravention in this case was all the more flagrant and inexcusable inasmuch as the bailies of Linlithgow were, as we have seen, among the special Commissioners appointed by the Council to see that their orders for the prevention of the plague were duly carried out.

On 3rd November, 1664,37 Major Robert Hamilton petitioned the Council for guidance "anent thrie severall ships lately come from Holland & Zealand, and driven in upon the port of Borrowstounesse by the stresse of weather." A petition, in name of the three skippers, George Cassills, Alexander Drysdale, and Thomas Knox, and also in name of several merchants and the owners thereof, "desiring a warrant for coming ashore and livering the goods in the said ships," seems also to have been presented at the same time. The Council remitted this to the Earl of Linlithgow, Lord Bellenden, Lord Lie, and Sir Robert Murray, with power to them or any two of them to call the parties interested before them, "and to hear if they can offer any proposalls anent the livering of the saids shipes and landing of the persons therein, which may secure the country from danger, and to make report to the Councill."

A week after the report of above special committee was given in as follows:—"As to the said Geo. Cassills' ship, she may be allowed to land, and both the persons and goods may be putt in Sir Walter Seatoun's houses and girnells in Borrowstounness, or such houses in the said place as he shall appoint, where they may be keipt through the space prescryved by the Councill's Act by a guard of souldiers consisting of such a number as the Lord Commissioner His Grace shall appoint; and in the meantime both the ship and goods may be clenged (cleansed) by clengers, and the magistrates of Edinburgh may appoint some honest man to sie that the said clengers doe their duety; and as to the charges of keiping of the guard and clenging of the ship it is our opinion that the same be proportioned betwixt the merchands and skippers and owners, at the sight of Sir Walter Seatoun and the Dean of Guild of Edinburgh, and that the merchands pay the whole charges for clenging of the goods. And, as for the two ships belonging to Alexr. Drysdale and Thomas Knox, it is our opinion that the men may come ashore and be kept through the ordinar tyme in such houses as Ma jour Hamilton shall provyd for them by a guard of souldiers to be maintained upon the charges of the merchands, skippers, and owners, which charges may be proportioned in maner above sett down.

"As for the goods—being only iron and barrells of ayle— the same may be clenged by being pott in the sea for the space of thrie tydes, which Ma jour Hamilton may be appointed to sie done accordingly."

The Council approved of this report, and ordained that the suggestions made therein be carried out, with this addition, that such of the goods as could not be cleansed, be burned and destroyed; and that after the cleansing of the goods the whole persons on board—passengers and others—be kept till they abide the ordinary trial or quarantine of forty days. Further, the Council made another remit to the Reporting Committee, this time " to call before them the magistrates of Edinburgh, and advise them seriously to have great care in cleansing the said goods."


On 22nd December, 1664,38 Robert Allan, skipper in Borrowstounness, supplicated the Council, and explained that he had lately come from Rotterdam "in ane small heuker belonging to Thomas Burnet, in Aberdeen, wherewith there is ane Glasgow merchand only, ane towmaker, with his wyfe and chyld and some merchand goods, such as iron, meather, and the lyk whereof there can be no hazard of infection, neither is there any suspition at Rotterdam, the pestilence there being, by the mercy of God, nearly wholly gone." He therefore desired warrant to set the passengers and goods ashore. The Lords granted same, Major Hamilton, as usual, to provide houses for the goods and persons, and see the goods cleansed, and set guards at the petitioners' expense.

The same year we find the Council ordering the Earl of Linlithgow to levy men to meet the wants of the Royal Navy— "Six men out of Cuffaboutpannes and Grange, and thirty-four men out of Borrowstounness."

The Lords considered supplication, on 7th February, 1665,39by James Peacock, skipper of the good ship called the "Love of Enster"; Robert Craufurd, merchant of Linlithgow, and the rest of the merchants, owners of the goods in the said ship. The petition explained that on 15th December last the said James Peacock "sett sail from Rotterdam, and throw ane great tempest of storm was constrained to goe in to Skaerburgh, in England, where he continued the space of thrie weikes, or thairby, not having the occasion or opportunity of fair wind and weather. Thereafter he removed, and upon the eleventh of January last he arryved at Borrowstounnesse, where the ship hath ever since lyen, not entered or disloadened be reason of ane late proclamation." The petitioners craved that, as the ship was altogether free from any hazard of infection, she might be permitted to enter and unload. The Lords granted licence to unload the vessel, and to the Collector of Custom or his deputes to receive an entry thereof and goods therein.

About same date Thomas Burnett, merchant of Aberdeen, and Robert Allan, skipper, explained that they had lately come to the port of Borrowstounness about their lawful affairs with a little vessel belonging to them. They further explained that it was their intention " to goe back to Aberdeen and some other necessar places," but that they were detained by Major Hamiltoun upon pretext of the late Act of Council, even although they had offered caution conform to the tenor of the said Act. Liberty was craved to sail. It was granted— Hamilton to see that sufficient caution was received.

On 12th July, 1666,40 the Council directed Commissions for "privat men of warr " against the French King, King of Denmark, and States of the United Provinces in favour of Captain Jon Black, of the "Thistle"; Captain Alexander Allan, of the "Christian," of Borrowstounness; and Captain Jon Brown, of the "Lamb."

Blackness Castle.
(From a pen and ink sketch by the late John Paris, Bo'ness, taken from an old print of the Castle looking west.)

The following interesting supplication concerning the old roadways of Borrowstounness was submitted to a meeting of the Privy Council on 19th November, 1668,41 by Robert Hamilton, chamberlain to William and Anna, Duke and Duchess of Hamilton, at Kinneil:—"There is within the lands and barony of Kinneill a high common way and passage from Borrowstounes towards Linlithgow and Borrowstoune, and those wayes, southward; and from Borrowstounes to Kinneill, westward, which of necessitie must be calsayed for the ease and accommodation of horse and others comeing and goeing there throw, otherwayes the samen, being so deep, will become altogether impassible, wh. will heavilie tend to the hurt and prejudice of the inhabitants within the said lands and baronie." Crave was made for the imposition of a custom or tax, "seing that the calsayeing of the said highwayes will be ane considerable expense and charge wh. the inhabitants of the said baronie are not able to undergoe and bear altogether." The Lords, on consideration thereof, granted warrant to the petitioner, and those having commission from him, "to exact for each loadned horse, each head of cattle, and everie ten sheip four pennies, and for everie loadned cairt eight pennies Scots money wh. shall happen to pass or repass from Borrowstounes to Borrowstoun, Kinneill, or Linlithgow, the wayes forsaids, and that during the space of fyve yeirs following the date of this presents."

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