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Perth, the Ancient Capital of Scotland
Chapter XII


On 1st December, 1666, a peremptory order was again given that all the inhabitants between sixteen and sixty appear on the North Inch in arms to attend the Magistrates on Wednesday at 10 a.m. Some months afterwards the Mercat Gross came up for consideration, when an order was issued to rebuild it, and make it equal to anything of the kind in Scotland An agreement was made with Robert Milne to build it for 200. Orders were also given to procure two gallons of French wine and glasses to drink from, and to pour upon the cross; bonfires were also ordered for the inauguration of the building. At the same time the Provost was ordered to ride over to William Lindsay of Auchterarder, and give him a call to be second minister of Perth. In 1668, an extraordinary order was given by the Council to seize horses, wherever they could be found, for the King's lieges. The Council at the same time authorised the nomination of persons to precognosce the millers, and to punish them according to their deserts, and to prescribe rules which they shall not in future transgress.

It also appears from the Council Records of 1668 that Provost Threipland was very jealous of his dignity. Patrick Hay of Pitfour was not ready with his obeisance when he met the Provost out of doors, and he did not lift his hat "to a man he did not respect." The Provost was irritated, and commissioned Bailie Orme to speak to Hay and tell him to behave himself in time to come to the Provost and Magistrates. That is to say, "to lift his cap when he comes by them or else go to the other side of the street, otherwise the Magistrates will take such course thereon as they see fit" Evidently Hay did the amende honorable, for we hear no more about this. The Council of that year made an agreement as to the yearly allowance to the precentor of the music school which was held in the house at the back of the new kirk, but the agreement is not given. The Council at the same time ordained Lord Gray to pay 40 for the seat in the lords' loft (St John's Church) for himself and family, and Sir William Stewart of Invernytie and his family to have a back seat in the loft for 20. In the following year proceedings were instituted in the case of Sir William Blair of Kinfauns, who had been apprehended for bringing to the town malt ground at outside mills, and the Great Charter was taken to Edinburgh for opinion thereupon. At this period the Magistrates seem to have been nominated by the Privy Council, and those suspected of being Covenanters disqualified. John Wylie, one of the teachers of the Grammar School, refusing to take the oath before the Presbytery, was cited before the Council, when he declared he had not had freedom to take the oath and test, and resigned his office.

The following year the Provost was sent to Edinburgh with an unusual commission. He was authorised to procure an able physician to reside in Perth, as also a schoolmaster; but we have no record of the result In 1670 the collector of assessment produced his accounts and roll of defaulters, and arms, and money, and was authorised to employ soldiers from Edinburgh Castle to recover the same and to pay them twelve shillings per day. In the matter of officers not putting decreets in execution, the Council ordered that when such is proved, the officers are to be taken to the Mercat Cross, their coats to be pulled off, their halberts to be taken from them, and themselves to be imprisoned during the Council's pleasure.

David Smythe, son-in-law of John Mercer, Town Clerk, who was elected to that office in 1623, was compelled by his father-in-law to request William Graham to be deputy clerk and assistant, on account of the Clerk's age. This request the Council refused, and suspended the Clerk for contumacy for refusing to deliver the Town Charters and other papers. Mercer was allowed to demit office. The Council paid him 1000 merks, and resolved that his successor should pay this sum.

There is an entry as to taking the late Dean of Guild's bed-fellow to prison for faults made out against her, and that the Dean did most furiously deforce the officer by menacing words and drawing his sword. No more is heard of this.

In 1671 the Council issued an order prohibiting horse-hirers from letting horses on the Sabbath day, under a penalty of forty shillings; and the following year they issued an order ordaining the Fiscal to serve for five years gratis in respect of sums due by him to the Corporation. They also gave orders to search out two able young men to officiate as doctors in the Grammar School, the present two not being sufficiently qualified.

On 16th November, 1673, the Council gave instructions to provide eight dishes of good meat, moor fowl and the like, and a puncheon of good wine, everything to be done to make the approaching visit of the Convention of Burghs splendid The whole Commissioners were to be made burgesses who are not such already. The Council further appointed Threipland to go to Edinburgh to buy wine for the Convention—the best to be obtained—also a puncheon of wine for the Communion. The sum of 345 was voted for this order. The Council at the same time ordered the Castle soldiers to be quartered on those who were absent in the three months, beginning with those of the greatest quality and able to pay. The people were afterwards displeased at Threipland's arrogant conduct, and at next election he lost the Provostship, and Patrick Hay was elected. Unfortunately, there was a rule that no member of the Craft could sit as a merchant Councillor, and only merchant Councillors could be Provost On this point, Hay was unseated, and Threipland was restored to his chair.

Threipland was in great indignation at the insult of being put out of the Provostship, and appealed the case to the Privy Council, who awarded him 20,000 Scots against the burgesses. This seems in the face of it a most unreasonable decision. Though Hay lost the Provostship, he was restored to it in 1677. Threipland, however, was again made Provost by James VII. There was no election ; he took the oath that he was a true Protestant and not a papist Some years afterwards, in 1689, he stood as a candidate for the Scottish Convention as member for Perth, but was unsuccessful. The records of 26th May, 1675, have a curious entry. An act was issued ordaining each of the inhabitants to have a bonfire opposite his own door, in commemoration of His Majesty's birth and restoration. If this order was obeyed, these fires must have been a spectacle. The Council at the same time deposed George Lumsden, tailor, from his office for abusing the Magistrates and drawing his dirk to William Stewart, Fingarth, whereby his life was in danger. His seat at the Council was declared vacant, and he himself was to remain prisoner till he found caution that Stewart and his family should not be molested in future. On 18th October, Bailie Craigdallie is requested to go to Edinburgh to report to the Privy Council the form and manner of last election, that the misrepresentations of Patrick Threipland may not be received by them as truth: Further, there was produced a letter sent to the Duke of Lauderdale and the Duke of Atholl as to ex-Provost Threipland having embezzled the common good, and now to be pursued therefor, but on 6th March following there was a decreet by the Lords reponing Threipland, and appointing the Magistrates, Dean of Guild, and Treasurer, The Council at the same time ordained the Postmaster to go to Edinburgh every Tuesday, and to have a house there for delivery of letters, and return every Friday afternoon. On February 7, 1681, there is an entry as to Henry Reid neglecting to furnish the town with intelligence, it not being convenient on account of his other business; the Provost to write him to continue till Whitsunday.

In 1680 there was a commission to Thomas Butter of the office of Town Clerk of Perth. The Council met, and being convened in a solemn manner, and taking full burden for the whole community, they elected and appointed Thomas Butter, lawful son of the deceased George Butter, of Clashbenny (of whose qualifications and good education they are assured), to the office of Common Clerk of the said burgh, ad vitam aut culpam, with all the emoluments pertaining to the said office, such as the deceased John Tais, the previous Clerk, or his predecessors enjoyed, or that may lawfully be due to him in the said office; and with power to appoint a depute or deputes to serve in his absence through sickness or otherwise. The commission states that he was formally appointed to the office by act of Council on 20th January, when the following conditions were imposed:—(1) that he should find caution for payment of 1,000 merks, bearing interest from Candlemas next (now past), at Candlemas, 1681, with this provision, that if he should die before Candlemas, 1681, he should not be liable for payment of the said principal sum, but only for the interest thereof till then; (2) that only 20 Scots be allowed to him yearly for chamber rent; and (3) that he should make no claim to be clerk to the Guildry of the burgh unless he shall be lawfully elected thereto, any practice to the contrary notwithstanding. He had not received his commission then, but this present deed bears the desire of the Council now to grant it It is not, however, signed, attested, or sealed. Butter died in 1687.

In a vacancy which occurred in 1683 the procedure was different, as will be seen from the following minute of the Town Council:—

We, the Provost, Magistrates, etc., of Perth, having right to present a minister to the kirk of the said burgh and there being a vacancy through the demission and translation of Alexander Ross; we being therefore all of one mind have agreed to nominate present and appoint Andrew Grant minister at the College Church of Edinburgh to the said Kirk of Perth during all the days of his life; giving and granting him so long as he remains minister the stipend of 600 usual money of Scotland (Scots) to be paid at Martinmas and Whitsunday by equal portions together with four chalders victual yearly between Yule and Candlemas, to be paid furth of the parsonage tiends of the parish. Humbly therefore desiring the most reverend fathers in God, Alexander Archbishop of St Andrews to authorise Andrew Grant with his grace's usual courtesy and testimonial of admission to the ministry and provision during his lifetime. (Here follow signatures of Magistrates, Councillors and Deacons of Crafts.)

There was no free election in 1686, not only the Magistrates but the Council being nominated by the King (James VII.), who by his letter of 20th September prohibited the Council to meet for the election of Magistrates until his pleasure should be known, the Magistrates and every member to solemnly take the test, which they all servilely did. In the former year the common jails of Scotland were so crowded with prisoners, on account of Argyll's invasion, that many were sent to Dunnottar, where they were confined in a loathsome dungeon till they were transported or executed. This was a period of great oppression in Scotland, the King on the one hand forcing episcopacy on the people, and on the other hand punishing them if they dared to hold conventicles to discuss the situation and defend themselves. In the midst of this movement the King, as already stated, reserved to himself the right to nominate and elect the Town Council of Perth or 1686, and he issued the following edict:—

Forasmuch as it has pleased the King's Majesty by letter dated 9th November to the Privy Council, signifying that he is now resolved to nominate and appoint the Magistrates and other councillors and Deacons of Crafts for the Burgh of Perth as under, being such as his Majesty judges to be most loyal and ready to promote his rule, and most forward to support the interest of the Burgh and he therefore authorises the Privy Council to that effect Therefore the Privy Council in pursuance of his Majesty's commands do hereby nominate and appoint—(here follows list of Council)—all which persons are hereby authorised to continue in their respective offices in said burgh and liberty thereof till Michaelmas next, and the said Lords appoint their entrance and admission to office to be on Friday 7th November next and recommend the Marquis of Atholl to be present, so that he may see his Majesty's Royal pleasure regularly and opportunely put into execution.

In 1703 the Town Council, who at that time controlled the Post Office, allowed 27 to James Dewar, postmaster, for postages, parliamentary news and gazettes; William Paton, writer, was to get the news letter from the Magistrates each Monday, and keep it for the inspection of the inhabitants, and not to give it out The Council also discussed the matter of a hangman for the town, and Lord James Drummond allowed them the use of Donald M'Ara, his executioner in Crieff, the Magistrates and Council undertaking to return him when required. Some years afterwards, in 1713, Lord Breadalbane's executioner, John M'Ewan, was granted to the town on an undertaking by the Magistrates to give the Earl the use of him at all times, and return him if required. The extent to which executions were carried in those days is not anywhere recorded, but that these two noblemen kept executioners or hangmen for their own exclusive use, and that the town of Perth had no less than three sets of gallows within the burgh, would seem to indicate, if not the insecurity of life at that period, at least that the number of executions was appalling.

In 1723, the Magistrates lost the power of trying cases of life and death. An officer of a regiment stationed in Perth made himself a pest to a dancing-school by his visits to a girl attending it. The master and he quarrelled, after which, meeting incidentally, they drew their swords, and the officer killed the master on the spot The Magistrates sentenced the officer to be hanged. His friends appealed to the London authorities for a pardon, and got it, but before they got to Perth the officer was executed. This led to an Act of Parliament, which ordained that no sentence of death should be executed north of the Forth under forty days.

In the same year street lamps were first erected in the burgh, and in 1728 the Magistrates ordered a water-plough from London for deepening the fords of the river. The treasurer was ordered to cut or carve a unicorn, to be fixed on the spire of the Cross where the old one was; also to take down the cock from the steeple, "as it has fallen down into the sockets, and is not turned by the wind, whereby the steeple and spire are in danger of ruin." In 1734 a committee was appointed to consider the enlarging of the Skinnergate, but the proposal ended in seven tenements only being demolished. The sum of 10 10s. was voted by the Council for encouraging the Horse Races to be run in September, towards making up 75, as three purses were to be run for. The following year they gave a fifteen guinea plate with the town's arms to be competed for at these races.

The Porteous Roll appears amongst the Burgh Archives, and gives a list of over 200 persons who must have been connected with that memorable riot In 1764 three ministers were appointed for St John's. The Magistrates and Council, aware that the number of the inhabitants in the town and parish who attended public worship in the Established Church had greatly increased, so that the two churches into which the parish was divided could not conveniently accommodate them, they resolved to have a third minister. In 1788, the town debt was 15,000. The town's salmon-fishings were at that period let for terms of three years. It was afterwards thought desirable to let them on a nineteen years' lease. The result was that the rent rose from 582 to 1010 per annum under this arrangement.

In concluding these tit-bits from the records, we come to a most remarkable event, the auditing of the town's accounts. Six of the councillors were appointed to conduct this audit, but they evidently quarrelled with the treasurer, refused to pass his accounts, rushed him by physical force into the Tolbooth, and fined him 20. It was altogether a ludicrous incident, and it is well told in the following official entry in the Privy Council Register:—

Holyrood, 27th August, 1577. —Anent our Sovereign Lord's letters raised at the instance of Andrew Ramsay, burgess of Perth, against Patrick Whitelaw, one of the bailies of the said burgh, Oliver Peebles, Dean of Guild, and certain others to the number of six persons being nominated to be auditors of the treasurer's accounts for several years bygone: appointed 15th March last, at which date the complainer at the desire of the Provost compeared and produced his accounts as treasurer from November 1567 to May following. The said auditors, by collusion among themselves would not receive the complainer's accounts. Seeing which, and that three of them had been treasurers before, and were to make their own accounts and cover over every one with another, distributing the common good each as he thought proper, the complainer assured them that he would declare their collusion to the Regent and Lords of the Secret Council: and cause each of these unlawful accounts to be audited again by neutral auditors, whereby one treasurer would not be auditor to another. And then immediately the said treasurer and Dean of Guild with their officers put violent hands on the complainer, rushed him into the Tolbooth without any warning, would take no bail, but detained him prisoner till the 29th of March last, and then to colour their oppressive conduct gave in their complaint, judicially alleging that the complainer had injured them and stopped their accounting: therefore desired him to be punished in person, deprived of his freedom, to pay 20 of fine and to be deprived for ever of holding office. Anent the charge given to Peebles and other alleged treasurers and intromitters with the Common Good these sixteen years by past, they to compear personally before the Regent and Lords of Secret Council to answer to this complaint, under pain of rebellion and putting to the horn, with certification if they fail, etc. Andrew Ramsay compeared personally, and the other persons also compeared. The Regent and Council willing to remove all occasion of sedition that may arise within the burgh, and the removing of faction furth thereof, ordained either of the said parties to nominate eight persons whom they thought suitable to be present with the Lords' Auditors at the re-auditing of the accounts of these treasurers for the aforesaid years. The Regent and Council ordain letters to be directed charging the foresaid persons who were treasurers, together with the other persons chosen for the hearing of the said audit to compear before the Lords' auditors at Edinburgh the 8th November next to audit of new their intromission with the Common Good under pain of rebellion and putting to the horn.

This incident shows how corrupt was the system of auditing in operation at that period. Every treasurer audited the accounts of his predecessor, dealt with the common good as suited his convenience, and evidently depended on the auditing being a mere farce.

{End of the Council Records.)


The Provosts of Perth were :—

From 1368 to 1500.—John Mercer, Laurence Spence, William Mercer, Andrew de Martyn, John de Pitscottie, Andrew Charteris, Robert Donyng, Andrew de Martyn, Richard de Strathearn, Alexander Bunch, Thomas Peebles, Robert Mercer, Walter Ireland, Patrick Wells,

From 1500 to 1600. — Patrick Wells, Robert Mercer, Andrew Charteris, John Charteris, Alexander Tyre, of Busbie; Andrew Bunch, Alexander Blair, John Donyng, Patrick Charteris, Alexander M'Breck, William, Lord Ruthven; Oliver Maxton, John Christison, William Patullo, Patrick, Lord Ruthven ; Patrick, Master of Ruthven; Sir William Murray, of Tullibardine ; William, Earl of Gowrie; John, Earl of Montrose; John, Earl of Atholl; James Hepburn, James, Earl of Gowrie; John, Earl of Gowrie.

From 1600 to 1700.—Sir David Murray, afterwards Lord Scone; James Adamson, Viscount Stormont, Alexander Peebles, Robert Arnot, Andrew Gray, Andrew Grant, Andrew Butter, John Paterson, Patrick Threipland, George Threipland, Archibald Christie, Andrew Jackson, Patrick Hay, Robert Lauder, John Glas, Robert Smyth, George Oliphant, James Cree, David Murray, Patrick Davidson.

From 1700 to 1800.—George Oliphant, Patrick Davidson, Alexander Robertson, James Cree, James Brown, William Austen, Robert Robertson, Patrick Hay, William Ferguson, Colin Brown, Patrick Crie, John Robertson, William Stuart, William Gray, John Stuart, Alexander Simpson, George Fechney, Thomas Marshall, William Alison, John Caw, Alexander Fechney, James Ramsay, Thomas Black, Thomas Hay Marshall Up to this time the Provost was elected annually.


A history of Perth would be incomplete without a chapter on the Ancient Craftsmen, who may be said to have composed the life of the city in the middle ages. The craftsmen and merchants were the two divisions of the burgesses, and in the matter of municipal authority they were always opposed to each other. The Merchant Guild was open to all burgesses until trade interests and certain Acts of Parliament led to the formation of Incorporations of Craftsmen. Nine such incorporations were formed in the fifteenth century. In 1424, the Scottish Parliament, which met at Perth, passed an Act declaring that every craft should have a Deacon and Council to govern and test all work made by craftsmen, so that the lieges be not defrauded. Up to 1469, the burgesses met in public and elected the provost, bailies, dean of guild, and other officers of the burgh. This plan seems to have become very unworkable, and another principle was adopted by which the new Council was annually elected by its predecessor. The nine deacons of incorporations usually secured a seat at the Council table, and in the Council records the Council is stated to have been the provost, bailies, councillors, and deacons of the crafts. A few years later, viz., at the beginning of the sixteenth century, there was not a craftsman in the Council except the deacons. At this period the Council is said to have been composed of what was called co-operate members (members who had an axe to grind), and this culminated in a serious appropriation of public property to private uses.

This again led to an order from the King ordaining the provost and bailies to select yearly four craftsmen of substance to sit at the Council in order to counteract what was going on. One of these was to have in his possession one of the keys of the closet in which the Common Seal of the burgh was kept; and another to have the key of the outer door where the chest stood, in order that the town's seal might not be put to any improper use. Curiously enough, this royal decree was simply disregarded. Craftsmen for some time had been a majority in the Council as against the merchants. In 1530, however, under William, Lord Ruthven, as Provost, the King's order was obeyed, and the result was to materially strengthen the hands of the craftsmen. The following year it was tried to put a craftsman in a bailie's chair. This move was successful, and John Balneaves was appointed. On account of the ill-feeling which followed the election, the opposition made choice of another set of magistrates. But the Lords of Council and Session declared such election illegal, and the magistrates of the previous year were reinstated. The Scottish Parliament in 1555 passed an Act discharging incorporations from electing deacons, and after that date a deacon could no longer be a member of Council, but two craftsmen were to be chosen by the magistrates in place of the deacons. In the following year an Act was passed by the Queen Regent, ordering the number of craftsmen to be the same as the number of merchants at the Council board, and a craftsman and a merchant to be in alternate years treasurer of the burgh. The Queen Regent further ordained that should any craftsman be refused admission to the Guildry, the Provost or any of the bailies was empowered to admit him.

In the reign of David I. (1124-53), foreign ships brought to Perth dyed cloths and articles for domestic use, and carried away wool and hides. The city being a seat of the Court whose residence was just outside the northern wall, there were wealthy buyers for the imports of the merchants. Skilled workmen from Flanders and Germany would appear to have settled down in Perth at that time. That well-known merchant, Henry Bald, goldsmith, had his booth at the east side of Skinnergate and High Street Jewels for the Court ladies and money in exchange were supplied by him. The house in which he lived had been granted him by King William for his public services. At Bald's death it was left to the monks of Scone. In the reign of Robert III. many of the merchants were in the habit of visiting Denmark, Holland, and France, carrying with them not only their own goods but those of their neighbours to sell in these countries. They also made purchases and freighted vessels to carry the same to Perth. The purchases consisted of dyed cloths, linen sheets, knives, soap, tar, wines, etc. The importing of wine was of such moment that a committee of wine tasters was annually elected. The exports from Perth harbour consisted of wool, hides, deer and other skins, and barrels of salmon. Anyone buying goods in the country before they were offered in town was liable in a heavy fine. The buying and selling of skins, dairy produce, poultry and eggs, had to be done in the open market

Wholesale buyers were not allowed to buy grain before eleven o'clock a.m., and no meal before twelve. No burgess who had his residence and booth in town was allowed to have a booth in the country. The rules of the Magistrates were very drastic. On Wednesdays and Saturdays burgesses could put their goods on trestles outside their booths, but on the other four days this was not allowed. On these days the passage between the eavesdrops of the doors had to be kept clean. The lines of shops stood some feet back from the line of the flats above them and thus a covered way was formed for passengers. On Saturdays business was carried on till midnight Trade was keen. Not only did the merchants stand at their doors and ask the passers-by "What do ye require?" but they would accost their neighbours' buyers, and induce them to come to their booths. It was usual for booths to be open on Sunday and for trade to be carried on in the town. In 1462, however, the Guildry passed a resolution forbidding merchants to buy or sell wool or skins on Sunday. And in 1504 the Guildry passed another resolution suppressing Sunday trading and ordaining all Guild brethren to attend the celebration of Holy Mass every Thursday. The bells were rung at 9 a.m. of that day, the brethren ordered to appear in church, join the procession following the eucharist round the church and hear devoutly the Mass. This service was, after the Reformation (1559), succeeded by public worship in the forenoon of Thursday till toward the close of the eighteenth century.

In 1531 the Guildry passed another resolution ordaining that when any of the brethren or their wives were laid aside by illness, the Sacrament was to be carried to their houses with two lighted torches in the procession, the expense to be borne by the Guildry. In the case of death the torches were to be kept burning beside the body till it was buried.

Various illustrations occur of the discipline of the Guildry. Thus John Rait was guilty of contemptuous disobedience to the deacon and brethren of the craft He was arrested and put in prison, besides being fined 30s., which sum to be paid before he came out On coming out he was to pass bareheaded before the deacon and brethren of craft through the Watergate and by the Southgate (South Street) to his own booth door, and there to ask God's and the deacon's forgiveness, all which had to be done before he was allowed to resume business. Again in 1608 John Jamieson had misbehaved with his tongue and "pointed a musket" at the deacon. He was tried by the craft and sentenced to pass with musket in hand bareheaded through the town and through the Rottenrow to the Mercat Cross, and there on his knees ask forgiveness: then down the gate and through the Watergate to his own booth door, and there on the "height of the causey" to ask forgiveness, and pay 6 in cash. If any other member should do the like he shall make a more humble appearance by passing through the town "sark alane, bare fittet," and pay 12 in cash. A gate penny was charged on market days for a stand on the street Midsummer and Andrewsmas markets were the chief days of trade. The deacon and his assistants went to all sellers of iron, pewter, and metal wares exhibited for sale, and received a payment for the privilege of the market

When the Pomarium grounds, which had been the orchard of the Carthusian Monastery, came to be built upon in the eighteenth century, many persons not freemen took up their abode there and carried on their calling. The incorporations raised actions against them for encroaching on their privileges, and the matter went to the Court of Session, when the dispute turned on the point whether the land was within the burgh. The Glover Incorporation, being the superior of Pomarium, came to the help of their feuars. After evidence had been led on both sides, the incorporations lost their case, as the ground was declared to be outside the burgh. It is recorded that the incorporations were careful to limit the number of masters in each art to the wants of the lieges, so that there might be no unprofitable competition. The members engaged in any one craft were at times consulted before a new member was admitted to the same craft Some were occasionally prevented from commencing business on their own account while their fathers lived.

The "Beautiful Order" was at that period instituted, by which the merchants were bound unitedly to vote for their party. The firstfruits of this system was a tyranny, which ended in the rebellion of half the merchant councillors, who, with the craftsmen, displaced Threipland in 1675. The merchants resolved to bind every Provost by an oath not to hold office longer than two years in succession.

The most notable contest between the contending parties occurred in 1740, when the craftsmen in Council, having been joined by three of the merchants, elected a Provost and Magistrates, who were not the nominees of the merchants. The validity of the election was tested. The Law Courts sustained the proceedings of the minority in the Council and the incorporations had to pay the costs.

In pre-Reformation times there must have been a great deal of life and activity in the Ancient Capital. The Incorporations had their festival days when there were great processions perambulating the town. Corpus Christi day, which fell after Whitsunday, was evidently the greatest of these festivals, and the elaborate nature of the performance indicates what an immense preparation there must have been to carry it out in all its various parts. The authorities evidently disapproved of these festivals as being hurtful to public morals, and they were ordered to be given up. Corpus Christi was annually kept in Perth and celebrated by all citizens —members of incorporations included This festival took the form of a dramatic performance of a Scripture scene, preceded by a huge procession through the streets, accompanied by the various incorporations, the consecrated host being carried in the centre. Each incorporation performed a play of its own. The day was the first Sunday after Whitsunday, and the church services on that day were followed by processions through the town. The mass bread was put into a silver box which a priest carried through the streets under a canopy, followed by priests in uniform. In presence of the canopy the town's people fell on their knees to do obeisance to the sacred casket In pre-Reformation times this festival was probably the greatest day of the year in Perth. Those who formed the dramatis persona also took part in the procession in their official robes, bearing their own special banners. The plays were performed in St John's Church, and in the religious houses. The characters represented in a play acted in 1518 by the Hammermen are recorded as follows:—

St. Eloy—The Marmadin.
The Devil—His Man—The Angel—And the Clerk.
St. Erasmus—The Cord Drawer—The King—The Three Tormentors.
The Bearer of the best Banner—The Bearer of the other Banner.
The Stool Bearer—The Devil's Chapman.
The Minstrels.

This play was meant to represent the fall of man. The same play appears to have been performed annually. The procession through the streets must have been an imposing spectacle. We get an intelligent description of it from a paper in the possession of the Perth Literary and Antiquarian Society:—

Preparation of pageant for the procession of Corpus Christi Day on which the glovers were to represent Adam and Eve with an angel bearing a sword before them; the wrights were to represent Cain and Abel with an altar and their offering; merchants and vintners Noah and the ravens in the Ark apparently in the habits of carpenters ;

the weavers represented Abraham and Isaac and their offering and altar. The smiths represented Pharaoh and his host, the skinners represented the children of Israel; the gold-smiths were to find the King of Edom (viz., one of the three kings). The coopers would represent shepherds with an angel singing "Gloria in Excelsis Deo Corpus Christi." Guilds were to find Christ in his passion with (Besides the Virgin, there was Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany and the widow of Nain; all three different persons, though they have been confounded with Mary Magdalene.) The tailors were to represent Pilate, with his robes and his wife clothed accordingly; the barbers Annas and Caiaphas; the merchants, the Prophets; and the butchers, the Tormentors."

The Bakers acted a play in honour of St Obert on 10th December annually, which was known as St Obert's Eve. This festival, however, was clearly of less importance than Corpus Christi. Crowds of persons perambulated the town in disguise on these occasions, dancing, piping, and excited by the beating of the drums, carrying lighted torches in their hands. One of the parties was clad in what was called the Devil's Coat, and impersonated the devil Another was mounted on a horse shod with men's shoes. This play, in spite of the Kirk Session, was annually performed up to 1588, when the Bakers resolved to give it up. But we live in a different age, and are content to regard these highly questionable exhibitions as relics of the past They, however, are not without interest to us as showing how our ancestors enjoyed themselves during pre-Reformation times, and by what peculiar laws and customs trade and commerce were then governed. It is evident that the greatest factor in the life of the inhabitants at that period was the administration of the Town Council, the appointment of its members, and the observance of its laws and ordinances. All burgesses belonged to the Guildry or the Crafts, and the formation of rules to guide these two bodies was a subject which gave rise to the most interminable discussions and dissensions. These do not appear to have taken end until the Convention of Burghs arrived on the scene, when a very judicious and discreet code of laws was adopted for the future government of the city.


It has always been supposed that important papers concerning Perth and Scone before the Reformation were domiciled in the Vatican Library ; but no substantial effort has ever been made to obtain access to them. Until recently these papers have as a matter of fact been quite inaccessible. By the friendly aid of the British Government and H. M. Stationery Office, the difficulties in the way are now being surmounted, and experts from the Record Office are now in Rome assorting these important papers in order to make them accessible and suitable for public inspection. Kalendars will be made up on the same principle as those at the Record Office, London, and the Register House, Edinburgh. The authorities at the Vatican are giving every assistance to help forward the work. We have made inquiry into the matter with the view of reproducing any official or other papers bearing on our own local history, so far as these could be obtained. We find that there are no papers concerning Perth or Scone earlier than 1198; nor, so far as yet discovered, is there anything after 1410. The papers affecting us are very few in number, and on the whole rather uninteresting and unimportant Between 1198 and 1400 the following are the papers connected with Perth and Scone:—

Kalendar of Papal Registry.

No. 1, dated 1207.—Litigation in which the Abbot of Scone is a judge.

No. 2, dated 1219.—Mandate to the Abbots of Cupar, Scone, and Dunfermline, to investigate and report to the Pope as to the life and conduct of the Bishop of Moray. (See p. 387.)

No. 3, dated 1220.—Mandate to the Abbot of Scone and others to grant dispensation to Thomas de Stirling to hold a plurality of offices.

No. 4, dated 1235.—Mandate to the Bishop of Moray and the Abbots of Arbroath and Scone in reference to a debt due by Patrick, the clerk.

No. 5, dated 1237.—(Gregory IX.)—Mandate to the Bishop of Dunkeld, the Abbot of Holyrood, and the Prior of Scone to collect the whole ecclesiastical income of Patrick, clerk of the Diocese of Glasgow, and pay it over to the Bishop and Chapter of Glasgow, until satisfaction is made, deducting reasonable expenses, he having, when their Proctor at Rome, defrauded them to the amount of over 1,800 merks, besides usuries and accessions.—5th April, Viterbo. (See below, p. 388.)

No. 6, dated 1237.—Mandate to the Bishops of Glasgow and Dunkeld in reference to the Bishopric of Dunblane, with power of transferring certain rents and tithes to the monastery of Canons Regular of St. John in the same diocese.

No. 7, dated 4th June, 1272.—Faculty to the Dean and Chapter of Caithness to elect a fit person to be Bishop, their election of Nicholas, Abbot of Scone, in the Diocese of St Andrews, having, on its being presented to the Pope by Mr. Henry de Nottingham, been cancelled on account of the Abbot's deplorable lack of learning. (See below, p. 389f.)

No. 8, dated 1273.—Mandate to the Bishops of Moray, Aberdeen, and Argyle to examine the merits of the Bishop elect of Caithness, viz., Archibald, Archdeacon of Moray.

No. 9, dated 1275.—Mandate to the Bishops of St. Andrews and Dunkeld to examine the election of the Bishop-elect of Brechin, the See being void by the death of Dean William, Bishop-elect, on which the Dean and Chapter appointed three of their number to take their votes, when William Cumyn, a Friar preacher (Professor of Theology at Perth), was chosen. They are to examine him, and consecrate him if they find him fit, taking his oath of fealty to the Pope. (See below, p. 390f)

No. 10, dated 1290.—The Monastery of Lindores has a toft in the burgh of Perth by the gift of the King.

No. 11, dated 1290.—Mandate to the Abbot of Scone to sit as judge in a case.

No. 12, dated 1306.—William Henry, Abbot of Scone, appointed by the Chapter of Caithness, along with another, to elect the Bishop.

No. 13, dated 1345.—Mandate to the Abbot of Scone in reference to John Peny, M.A.

No. 14, dated 1345.—Mandate to the Abbot of Scone about the church of Thanethas.

No. 15, dated 1412.—Andrew de Burnes, priest of the Diocese of Aberdeen, for the vicarage of Echt, on the presentation of the Abbot and Convent of Scone. Petition on his behalf granted.

No. 16, dated 1381.—Petition on behalf of Matthew de Cokborn, Canon Regular of Scone, for a benefice in the gift of the Abbot and Convent of Jedburgh, value 100 merks.

No. 17, dated 1410—Robert, Duke of Albany, on behalf of Richard de Mariton, canon of Scone, for the hospital of St. German, in the Diocese of St. Andrews, value 50. Granted.

Translations of the more important of these official documents are here appended :—

Honorius [III.], Bishop, etc., to the Abbots of Cupar, Scone, and Dunfermline, of the diocese of St. Andrews, greeting—

Our beloved sons, the Archdeacon and Chancellor of the Church of Moray, have written to tell us that their Bishop is intent only upon the milk and wool that he can obtain from the flock entrusted to him, and demands sometimes the eighth and sometimes the one-third part of their revenues at his own will. He extorts money from them in name of administration, although he discharges not the duty of visiting their churches. Further, unmindful of the fact that our Lord drove forth from the temple the sellers of doves, he not only takes money from those about to be ordained, but he even exacts and extorts it, sometimes heavily burdening them by frequent collections. And the money thus evilly obtained he dissipates and spends in luxuries, sometimes with harlots, his association with whom is matter of common report, while for a bribe he dissolves lawful wedlock, and indulges that which is unlawful, dispensing with the sins of the subjects, not for their penitence but for money. Upon which and other accounts he lies under such public scandal that he presents rather a savour of death unto death, than a savour of life unto life as he ought to do. And although the said Archdeacon and Chancellor have in their love frequently admonished him to lead a better life they have been able to effect nothing. Unwilling, therefore, to ignore this state of matters, we, by our apostolic writing, remit to your discretion, if you shall find the character of the foresaid Bishop harmful in the matters above-mentioned, to make careful inquiry regarding them, and that ye faithfully transmit to us, closed under your seals, both the results of your inquiry, and whatsoever the said Bishop may bring forward in his own defence, setting beforehand to the said Bishop a competent term for his presenting himself before us that he may be dealt with according to his deserts.—30th January, 1219. (Translated from Theater's Vetera Monumenta Hibernorum et Scotorum Historiam illustrantia, etc xxii. 9.)

Gregory [IX.] Bishop, etc., to the Bishop of Dunkeld, the Abbot of Holyrood and the Prior of Scone, of the diocese of St. Andrews, greeting

He has been informed by the Bishop and Chapter of Glasgow that Patrick, clerk of that diocese, who was appointed their procurator to act for them at Rome, had squandered the sum of eight thousand merks and involved the Church of Glasgow in other liabilities, which they may be compelled to satisfy, while he has done nothing for the good of the said church. Solicitous, therefore, for the welfare of the said church, he ordains them, if matters be so, to attach the entire church revenues of the said Patrick, and assign them by the apostolic authority to the foresaid Bishop and Chapter until such time as they shall have been fully paid of the money foresaid and satisfied therefrom for their losses and expenses; provided that where any of his benefices include the cure of souls they provide therefor by a competent vicar, and assign to him from the rents of the said church a suitable maintenance.—Viterbo, 5th April, 1237. (Translated and condensed from Theiner, op. cit.)

A. V. Reg. Vat. 37 (Gregorii X. Bullar. An. I. ad IV.), fol. 92, An. II, n. LIIII.—

To the Dean and Chapter of the Church of Caithness.

Your church having some time ago been deprived of the consolation of a Pastor, you did unanimously and harmoniously choose as your Bishop our beloved son Nicolas, Abbot of the Monastery of Scone of the diocese of St Andrews. But on representation being made to us on your behalf by our beloved son, Master Henry de Nottingham, priest, your Procurator, we have, by the advice of our brethren and in the interests of justice, annulled his election on the ground that the said Abbot was deficient in learning, a defect not to be tolerated in a Prelate. Willing, therefore, to do you a special favour in this matter, we accord to you, by these presents, free permission again to choose a fit and proper person as Bishop and Pastor.

Given at Rome, on the [second] day before the Nones of June, in the second year of our Pontificate [4th June, 1272. Gregory X. was consecrated 27th March, 1271].

Gregory [X] Bishop, etc., to his venerable brethren, the Bishops of St Andrews and Dunkeld, greeting

Although we are bound by our apostolic office to have a continual solicitude for all the churches, as having the general oversight of them, yet more especially do those which are immediately attached to the Holy See demand our most careful attention, that by such fruitful diligence they may be protected from injuries and their revenues, as given by the Lord by a salutary foresight, conserved. Forasmuch as the Dean and Chapter of Brechin have presented to us a petition setting forth that, the Church of Brechin, which belongs immediately to the said See, being by the death of William, Dean of Brechin, of good memory, who was elected to be Bishop of Brechin, destitute of episcopal oversight, they had summoned all persons who ought, should, or could have conveniently interest, upon a day previously appointed for the election, and proceeding by way of scrutiny by three trusty members of their college, unanimously chosen, who secretly and individually required the votes of each person, and, faithfully recording it in writing, thereafter published the results in the Chapter, having diligently scrutinised the votes. Whereupon the Dean of Brechin, who was one of the three, caused it to be published in his own name, and in the name of the members of the Chapter and each of the Canons, that their choice had unanimously fallen upon that religious man, Friar William Cumyn, of the order of Friars Preachers, a man of honourable life, fame, and con-versation, of lawful birth, mature age, skilled in letters, well known for integrity of life, and circumspect in matters both spiritual and temporal. Him, being at that time Regent of the Faculty of Theology in the house of the Friars Preachers of Perth, after imploring the grace of the Divine Spirit, they elected Bishop and Pastor of Brechin. They thereupon sent to us our beloved sons, Gottifred and Reginald, Canons of Brechin, to entreat that we would confirm their election of this person, and ordain some of the bishops of those parts to bestow the gift of consecration upon him. Although much occupied with great and important matters, because the business of this election presses, and we desire to gratify the wishes of the aforesaid church by a salutary provision, we ordain you, our brethren, to examine the circumstances of the foresaid election, taking notice of the persons who are known to have taken part therein, and if you are satisfied with the procedure, when our said brother shall have obtained permission from his own order to undertake the administration of the said church, you by the apostolic authority shall confirm the same, and confer upon him the gift of consecration, enjoining upon his subjects the showing to him due reverence and obedience. You are to associate with yourselves a third bishop from that kingdom, and to receive from the Bishop-elect the customary oath of allegiance to us and the Roman See in accordance with the form herewith sent The form of oath which he shall take ye shall transmit to us. If by any means this election should be annulled, ye shall see that the Church of Brechin is provided with a fit and proper person as its Bishop. . . . But if any mortal contingency befal either of you, the survivor, having associated with him two or three of the Bishops of those parts, shall faithfully carry out the above mandate concerning the foresaid Bishop-elect— Dated at Bellicadri, 9th June, 1275. (Translated and slightly condensed from Theiner, op. cit.)


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