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Annals of Dunfermline

A great many years have elapsed since the writer began to collect materials for the ANNALS OF DUNFERMLINE, his native city. His object was to arrange events and notanda in chronological order, as he was convinced that a much clearer conception of the rise and progress of a town would be obtained under such an arrangement, than by the method usually adopted in compiling such works.

The writer never had the slightest idea of publishing his notanda. They were written for his own private use for reference. On showing them to a number of his archaeological and other friends, they expressed perhaps a too favourable opinion of their contents, and strongly urged him to pass them through the press. For some years he refused to do so, but their continued solicitations overcame his opposition, and he resolved to prepare his collection for publication.

The materials composing the ANNALS have been collected chiefly from original sources—from the Chartularies of Scottish Abbeys and religious houses—from the early and modern "Histories of Scotland"—from various scarce topographical and similar works—from the manuscript Records of the Burgh, the Guildry, the Regality, and the Parish—from Charters in the Burgh Charter Chest—from the Journals of several of the Incorporated Trades of the Burgh—from Title-Deeds of old houses—from old and modem Magazines and Newspapers, and from letters written by old inhabitants. A list of the works consulted by the writer for the ANNALS will be found at the end of the Addenda.

It is not to be expected that a work, consisting of such a large mass of heterogeneous materials, drawn from such a variety of sources, which are in many instances conflicting, can be entirely free from slips of the pen. The ANNALS would require to go, like other similar works, through several editions to get the Errata cleared away, and the Omissa filled in. It is to be hoped, however, that any errata that may be discovered will be found unimportant.

Now that the work is in type, it will be seen that the ANNALS commence with the year 1069—the earliest authentic date referring to Dunfermline; and that they come down to the end of the year 1878—thus extending over the wide space of about 809 years. Between the first date and the middle of the sixteenth century many blank spaces will be observed, in several instances there are considerable stretches of time without any recorded fact. Such gaps could not be bridged over for want of authentic details. After the middle of the sixteenth century, incidents, notanda, etc., occur for yearly entries, and, as time flows on nearer to our day, they increase in such numbers that many of the later dates will be found charged with numerous and varied details. To the general reader many of the notanda may appear to be of little importance, but, by the natives of "the old grey city" and the western district of Fife, they will, it is hoped, be appreciated. To readers who wish for further and fuller information regarding any of the entries, ample references are given, naming the work, the volume, and the page from which they were extracted, also the Appendix and the Addenda at the end of the work contain full particulars of many interesting events, etc., referred to in the Annals, which will be useful to the reader.

Numerous engravings, many of them never before published, embellish the ANNALS as illustrations of "Dunfermline in the olden time." To local readers, it is to be hoped, they will be interesting; and, to the outside public who are strangers to the locality, they will be serviceable as "graphic helps" to the letter-press descriptions in the text. It may be mentioned here, that during the progress of the work through the press, Mr. Tweed, our publisher, resolved to increase the number of illustrations. He has, therefore at considerable expense added ten engavings to the original list, viz., four Sculptured Stones at pp. 266, 297, 301 and 437; View of the Palace Ruins, p. 408; Rev. Ralph Erskine’s Kirk, p. 438; the Antiburgher Kirk, p. 521; the Guildhall, p. 577, View of the City of Dunfermline, p. 1, and the Frontispiece.

Many of the kind friends who rendered the writer assistance when the ANNALS were commenced have long since passed away. Their memories are held by him in such sacred remembrance, that he feels it to be a duty, as well as a gratification to himself, to record their names, viz., Rev. George Bell Brand, Andrew Mercer, Rev. Henry Fergus, Archibald Haxton, James Morris, Alexander Kilgour, John Bonnar, Joseph N. Paton, John S. Soutar, Rev. Peter Chalmers, D. D., David Birrell, Laurence Wilson, and David Laurie; and the names of those who resided at a distance, His Eminence Cardinal Wiseman, Rev. C. Holahan (Sub-Prior of St Edmund’s College, Douay, France), the Rev. T. Hesking (Valladolid, Spain), David D. Black, Brechin, and David Laing, LL.D., Edinburgh, lately deoeased.

Among those who have rendered the writer valuable assistance during the progress of the ANNALS through the press, his special thanks are due to the Provost, Magistrates, and Town Council of the Burgh, for allowing him the free use of their Records; to Mr. John Landale, Town Clerk, and to Mr. William Simpson, solicitor, for transcripts of, and extracts from, old charters, etc.; to Mr. George Robertson, for archaeological notes, drawings of sculptured and lettered stones, and of other local objects, engravings from several of which illustrate the ANNALS; to Mr. George Birrell, for interesting notanda; to Mr. Robert Steedman for memoranda connected with the statistics of Dunfermline; to Mr. George Stuart, for extracts from several old Burgh minutes; to Rev. Wm. Barrack LL.D., late Rector of Dollar Institution, now Rector of Kelvinside Academy, Glasgow, for his translations of several old charters, deeds, etc., and other literary assistance; and. to the Rev. William Ross, LLD., Bridge of Allan, for historical notes relating to the Burgh and its vacinity.

The writer now closes his work, and once more expresses his cordial thanks to all who have in any way assisted him with THE ANNALS OF DUNFERMLINE.

Astral Villa, Muchart, Perthshire
December 3rd, 1878.

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