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Perth, the Ancient Capital of Scotland
Chapter VII

We have no record of any parliaments being held at Perth before the reign of Alexander I., who ascended the throne in 1107, and during his reign held three parliaments, viz., in 1107, 1115, 1121. In the reign of his brother David I., five parliaments were held, viz., 1124-28-47-50-53. In the reign of William the Lion, brother of Malcolm IV., no less than twenty-five parliaments or national councils were held They took place between 1165 and 1211, and were held at Perth, Scone, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Lanark, Stirling, Clackmannan, Haddington, Musselburgh, Kinghorn, Alyth, Selkirk, and Forfar. In the reign of Alexander II. there were sixteen parliaments or national councils at Perth, Scone, Edinburgh, Stirling, Forfar, and Roxburgh, between 1214 and 1248. In the reign of Alexander III. there were eighteen between 1249-1285 at Perth, Scone, Edinburgh, Stirling, Roxburgh, and Cupar. Under Queen Margaret, Maid of Norway, one parliament, 16th March, 1286. Under John Baliol, six parliaments—Scone, Stirling, Dunfermline, Torwood, Torphichen, 1292-1301. Under Robert Bruce twenty-four parliaments, 1306-1328, at Scone, Dundee, Inverness, Cambuskenneth, Ayr, Stirling, Berwick, Aberbrothock, Glasgow, and Holyrood. Under David II. no less than thirty-nine parliaments or councils, 1329-1370, at Perth, Kinross, Scone, Dairsie, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh (mostly Perth and Scone). Under Robert II. sixteen parliaments, Scone, Perth, Stirling, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Linlithgow, 1370- 1390. Under Robert III. fifteen parliaments—Scone, Perth, Edinburgh, Stirling, Linlithgow, 1390-1406. Under James I. nine parliaments, all at Perth (except one at Inverkeithing), in 1406-1424. It will be observed that these parliaments or national councils were not always held in the Ancient Capital, but doubtless the explanation is that they were held where it was at the time most convenient for the King. The majority were presumably held at Perth, but the business done in no way affects our local history beyond what we have given in the pages of this work.

There was no material change in the Constitution of Scotland during the reigns of the two Alexanders. The parliament assembled by John Baliol at Scone on 9th February, 1292, was probably the first of the national councils of Scotland which bore that name. In the famous parliament of Cambuskenneth, on 15th July, 1326, when Bruce demanded money to pay the expenses of the war and the necessities of the State, the tenth penny of all rents was granted him. In the parliament at Perth in February, 1369, two committees were appointed, the one for appeals, pleas, and complaints; the other for special and secret affairs of the kingdom. The office of Sheriff was introduced in the reign of David I. There are no extant statutes which the collectors of early Scottish laws have assigned to any sovereign previous to the reign of David I. The laws of the Burghs are the earliest collected body of the laws of Scotland of which we have any mention. The constitutions of many burghs were made in the reign of William the Lion. Although we have no statutes, we have charters {vide Meikleour), as far back as Malcolm IV.


This engagement is recorded as having taken place in 980, but too far back in history to afford us any detailed record. The reigning sovereign of that period was Kenneth IV., son of Malcolm I., and great grandson of Kenneth M'Alpin. During the tenth century, Scotland suffered much from the incursions of the Danes. For many years they infested the western seaboard as pirates, stealing and destroying whatever they could lay their hands on. They eventually found their way to the east of Scotland, landed a body of so-called troops at the north of the river Esk, ravaged the country with fire and sword as far as the Firth of Tay, and afterwards, as is recorded, laid siege to Perth. What happened at Perth we have no means of knowing, but Kenneth, who was at that time living in Stirling Castle, assembled his forces and prepared to attack them. On his way from Stirling to Luncarty he encamped on Moncreiffe Hill. Kenneth led his troops in person, while the Danes, it is recorded, fought with determination. Kenneth's troops were like to be defeated when, it is said, Hay, a neighbouring farmer, with his two sons, came to the rescue, posted themselves in a narrow pass, stopped the fugitives, killed many of them, and turned the tide of battle. The Danes were overpowered and fled, and very many of both sides were left dead on the field, including the Danish king. Kenneth is said to have been a prince of great ambition, energy, and ability, who, by his victory at Vacornar in 973, brought the kingdom of the Britons of Strathclyde to an end and joined it to his other dominions. At this battle Malcolm, Prince of Cumberland, commanded the right wing of the Scottish army, and Duncan, Marmoer of Atholl, the left The tumuli on the spot show with sufficient distinctness the true site of this memorable conflict Many of these have been levelled, and have disclosed human bones, with broken swords, spears, and bridles. The story of Hay and his two sons at the battle of Luncarty is, we think, a fable. In 1770 Mr. Sandeman discovered six or seven tumuli at Luncarty in the ground which he levelled for his bleachfield. In one large mound were found skeletons almost entire, not more than 2 feet below the surface. In this place some rough stones were laid together in the form of a coffin, in which were found human bones, as also the bones and teeth of horses. A jaw-bone full of fresh teeth was found and taken to Edinburgh. A short distance from this eight mounds were discovered, and a large unpolished stone supposed to mark the grave of the Danish king who fell on that occasion. In the same place a handle and blade of a sword were found. It is unfortunate that we have no authentic details of this battle, and this fact has afforded an opportunity to some writers to deny that such an engagement ever took place. It is impossible, we think, to defend that position. Whether the battle took place in 980 or, as some writers say, in 972 is uncertain. In the latter year the Danes would appear to have attacked the Castle of Perth, with what success is not recorded.

The story of the Hays has been widely current as what a modern author calls "a touching example of the simple manners of a primitive people." Chalmers says: "The narrative of the battle of Luncarty is so artless and circumstantial as given in Bellenden's Boece that there is nothing superior to it for simplicity and minuteness in Lord Berners' Froissart" Heraldry has embalmed the story in the achievement of the family of Errol, held to be the descendants of the stalwart ploughman. Hay got the gift, tradition says, of as much land as a falcon could fly over without perching, and the King assigned three shields or escutcheons for the arms of the family, to show that the father and two sons had been the three fortunate Shields of Scotland. The story of the Hays cannot be verified. The Earl of Errol bears for a crest a falcon, and his supporters are two men in country habits holding the yoke of a plough over their shoulders, with this motto, Serva jugum in allusion to their origin. An eminent historian, who does not believe there ever was a battle of Luncarty, but thinks it an invention of Boece, gives these extracts as the foundation of his belief. They are not conclusive, find we must consider what evidence there is against the theory of the learned writer. The battlefield is to this day pointed out, and accumulations of human bones have been discovered there. If there were no battle where did these bones come from ? And if the armorial bearings of the Earl of Errol are founded on a traditional battle, that would have been determined long ago by scientific inquiry. It therefore seems impossible to support the theory laid down by Dr. Hill Burton on arguments which do not touch on what is contained in that standard authority, the Douglas Peerage.


In the eleventh century, 1031-1056, Duncan, grandson of Malcolm II., ascended the throne. In order to put down an insurrection he raised an army, and gave the command to Macbeth, who subdued the rebels, beheaded their leader Macdonald, and sent his head to the King, who was residing in the Castle at Perth. Macbeth shortly after murdered the King in order that he might ascend the throne. He was in due course crowned at Scone, and during his reign made some very salutary laws. His nobles eventually got very tired of him, and fears for his life made him build a castle at Dunsinane Hill as a place of defence. All the thanes of the kingdom were required to assist with the materials for building. Macduff, Thane of Fife, declined, but fear of Macbeth compelled him to take refuge in England. The English king came to the rescue, and provided Macduff with military help, and Macbeth was eventually slain after he had reigned seventeen years. Duncan and Macbeth were grandsons of Malcolm II., by his two daughters, Beatrix, mother of Duncan, and Donada, mother of Macbeth. This story forms such an important episode in Scottish history that we may extend the details.

Macbeth invited King Duncan to visit him at Inverness, where he and his lady received the King and his retinue with much appearance of joy, and made a great feast About the middle of the night the King desired to go to his apartment, and Macbeth conducted him to a fine room which had been prepared for him. It was the custom in these barbarous times that, wherever the King slept, two armed men slept in the same chamber for the King's protection. Lady Macbeth had made these two guards drink a great deal of wine, and had besides put some drugs into the liquor, so that when they went to the King's apartment they both fell asleep, and slept so soundly that nothing could awaken them. Macbeth entered the King's bedroom at 2 A.M. and stabbed the King while asleep, who instantly died. He then put the bloody dagger into the hands of the sleeping guards, and daubed their faces with blood so that it might appear they had done the deed. In the morning the nobles, finding that the King did not appear, went to his room, where they found the King lying dead, and the guards fast asleep, with their dirks covered with blood. Macbeth appeared as if more enraged than the nobles at the outrage, and, drawing his sword, instantly killed the two guards. The King's two sons, Malcolm (Malcolm Canmore) and Donald Bane, were amongst the nobles, and when they saw what had occurred they immediately fled. Macbeth then took possession of the kingdom, and was crowned at Scone. Macduff, Thane of Fife, who was among the nobles at Macbeth's Castle at Dunsinane, quarrelled with Macbeth, and fled to his Castle of Kennoway, in Fife. Macbeth pursued him, but Macduff was too far ahead to be caught. He ordered his wife to shut the gates of the Castle, draw up the drawbridge, and refuse to allow the King or his soldiers to enter. The King immediately arrived, and demanded of Lady Macduff to surrender the Castle, and deliver up her husband Lady Macduff, who was a woman of great courage, planted herself on the balcony of the Castle, and looking haughtily and contemptuously at the King, who was standing before the gates, said, in a loud and excited voice: "Do you see yon white sail upon the sea? Yonder goes Macduff to the Court of England. You will never see him again till he comes back with Prince Malcolm to pull you down from the throne and put you to death. You will never put your yoke on the Thane of Fife." Macbeth made no reply. As time went on Macbeth found that the thanes preferred Malcolm, and he therefore shut himself up in his Castle of Dunsinane, where he thought himself safe. By this time Malcolm and Macduff were come as far as Birnam, where they encamped with their forces. Macduff advised that every soldier should cut down the bough of a tree and carry it in his hand, that the enemy might not be able to see how many were coming against them. Macbeth's sentinels, who stood on the Castle wall, informed the King that the wood of Birnam was moving towards Dunsinane. Macbeth's followers began to leave him; but depending on his own bravery, he sallied out at the head of a few devoted adherents. He was killed after a furious resistance, fighting hand to hand with Macduff in the thick of the battle. Malcolm (known as Malcolm Canmore) then ascended the throne. He rewarded Macduff by declaring that his descendants should lead the vanguard of the Scottish army in battle, and place the crown on the King's head at the Coronation. This is an incident in Malcolm's history which has a local connection with Perth.

In 1070 Malcolm married Princess Margaret, daughter of Edward of Hungary, and heir-apparent to the English throne. Malcolm was forty-seven, and Margaret twenty-four years of age. During their early years in the Castle of Perth, they resolved to found the Church and Abbey of Dunfermline, the future place of sepulture of the Scottish kings. In 1074 Queen Margaret enriched the Abbey with jewels, and vessels of gold and silver, and gave it a magnificent cross set in diamonds. Malcolm granted it a foundation charter. Margaret had six sons. Three of these, Edgar, Alexander I., and David I. all reigned in succession. In 1184 Dunkeld Cathedral became the property of Dunfermline Abbey. In 1296 Edward I. arrived at the Abbey, and remained there some days. In 1303 Edward I. and his Queen arrived and spent the winter. At this visit he carried away the Coronation Stone at Scone, and on his departure from Dunfermline burned the magnificent Abbey. It was restored, but at the Reformation it was completely destroyed by the Reformers, and the royal tomb and monuments were thrown down. The following royal personages were interred at Dunfermline: Malcolm and Queen Margaret; their son Edward; Donald III.; Edgar; Alexander I. and his queen; David I.; Malcolm IV.; Alexander III. and his queen; their sons, David and Alexander ; Robert Bruce and his queen; Christian, sister of Robert Bruce, and Matilda, daughter of Bruce; David II.; Robert, Duke of Albany; Annabella Drummond, queen of Robert II.; Robert Stewart, Regent of Scotland.

The era of Malcolm Canmore seems to have been marked by a great political revolution which has been ascribed to his own connection with England, and the multitudes of English settlers who flocked in during this and the following reign, and rapidly obtained influence and property in the kingdom. The whole law and form of procedure in Scotland assume from this period an English character. The succession to the crown, as well as the tenure of property, was stamped with a feudal impress, and the connection between the sovereign and his vassals and councillors seems gradually to have taken the same shape which we find in the early constitution of other feudal kingdoms.

At the beginning of the Scoto-Saxon period the language of Scotland, excepting the Lothians, was Gaelic Malcolm Canmore spoke the English language as well as his own. So also did Edgar, Alexander I., and David I. The English language began to be introduced under Henry III., who was contemporary with Alexander I. and II. Witnesses to the charters or King Edgar and Alexander had no surnames. These began under David L, and were not universal in Scotland till the close of the thirteenth century.

According to Florence of Worcester, not a very reliable authority, William the Conqueror, in 1072, entered Scotland with an army, penetrated as far as Abernethy (an important place at that period), and there received the homage of Malcolm Canmore. If William the Conqueror entered Scotland by the East Marshes, as is reported by some writers, Abernethy must be sought for in that direction. William, like a wise general, would keep as near to the sea coast as possible. It is remarkable that Edward I. conquered Scotland without departing four miles from the coast Hence it follows that the natural place for an interview between the two kings was at the mouth of a river. It is by no means certain that this meeting took place at Abernethy. It is, in fact, highly improbable. Early writers call the place Abernithice, Abernitici, Abrenitici. One writer says Abernethy lies distant from any route which so prudent a commander as William would have taken on an expedition against Scotland. He might, indeed, have been at Abernethy had he invaded Scotland by sea and landed in the Firth of Tay, but of this there is no indication. Another writer believes that by Abernethy was meant Berwick, while Goodall conjectures that Abernethy may be a place at the confluence of the Nith and Solway, or Edinburgh. We are inclined to believe that while a conference took place between these two famous rulers, the place of meeting in all probability was Berwick.

In the reign of David I. (1124) an extensive forest covered the district from Scone to Cargill, and there was another great forest at Methven. In almost every county these forests covered immense tracts of ground and were called royal forests, and were part of the patrimony of the Crown. The country was at that period overrun with wild animals, such as the wolf, the wild bear, the bison, and the stag. On one occasion (1261) the King directed the keeper of the forest of Selkirk to deliver thirty stags to the Archbishop of St Andrews, and twenty to the Bishop of Glasgow. Perthshire was well covered with forests, and Wallace and Bruce frequently defended themselves by the aid of them. It is recorded that Bruce caught the disease of which he died in one of them.

From all accounts, sorcery and witchcraft were common at that period, and notwithstanding that the punishment was death, they continued to grow. A modern writer says that for the supposed detection of sorcery trial by water was occasionally resorted to. This was occasionally granted to the great Abbeys as a prerogative of jurisdiction. Such a privilege was by Alexander I. bestowed on the Abbey of Scone; the place of trial being a small island in the Tay, half-way between the Abbey and the Bridge of Perth. In the witches' pool persons suspected of sorcery were thrown, wrapt up in a sheet, with their thumbs and great toes fastened together. When the body floated the water of baptism was held to reject the accused, who was consequently pronounced guilty. Those who sank were absolved of censure, but no attempt was made to restore them to life. The small island referred to is evidently what is called the Woody Island, which is situated half-way between Perth and Scone, in the heart of the river. The Records of the Abbey of Scone, where we might expect to find the details of the drowning of the witches and the trials by water at the Woody Island, were burned with the Abbey at the Reformation. A portion of the Bay of St Andrews was known in these times as the witches' lake. Witchcraft was common in Scotland in the middle ages, and under orders of the authorities many of the unfortunate creatures were put to death. That Perth was a commercial and shipping town as far back as 1128 is evident from a charter of David I. to the Abbey of Holyrood House, in which he gives the monks 100 shillings out of his small tithes there, or from the duties arising out of the first merchant ship which might arrive in the port of Perth. In 1140 he granted to the Abbey of Dunfermline one mansion in the burgh of Perth, and the Church of Perth, and a mansion which pertains to the Church; also annually 5 marks silver for their vestments out of the first ships that came to Stirling and Perth, also certain fishings at Perth. David's grandson, Malcolm IV., succeeded him, and was crowned at Scone. In 1160 he convened a National Council at Perth—the first Convention of Estates at Perth of which there is any record At this Council was arranged the marriage of his sisters, Margaret and Ada. The attachment of Malcolm to the Court of England excited the jealousy of the Scots. Hearing of this he hastened home and assembled his Parliament at Perth. Ferquhard, Earl of Strathearn, and five other earls, for some unknown reason, conspired to seize him. They assaulted the Castle of Perth, where he had taken refuge, but were repulsed. The clergy interposed and reconciled parties. This incident is much more fully referred to by Robertson.

An event took place which led to the policy, inaugurated by David I., of feudalising the seven Earldoms being resumed by Malcolm, and carried out by his successor. This was the attack made upon the King by six of the old Celtic earls, as above stated, but the record of it which we have received is very imperfect Skene adds: "An expression in the Orkneyinga saga would lead us to infer that the object of the six earls was to put up the young son of William Fitz-Duncan, who was usually called the boy of Egremont, and as grandson of King Duncan, the eldest son of Malcolm III., had a direct claim to the throne." Robertson, who calls this event the "Conspiracy of Perth," says that a veil of deep mystery enshrouds the proceedings of the conspirators. Malcolm was holding his Court at Perth soon after his return from France, when the confederates suddenly surrounded the city, intending either to secure the person of the King, and dictate their own terms, or to place his brother William on the throne. None of the race of Malcolm Canmore ever failed in the hour of danger, and the young King displayed in this crisis all the hereditary courage of his family. Promptly assuming the offensive, he at once attacked the conspirators, drove them from the field, and following up his first success, led an army into Galloway, with the determination of crushing the insurrection at its source.

Malcolm IV. was succeeded by his brother, William the Lion, who was crowned at Scone in 1165. Before his reign we find no mention of public taxes imposed by the National Council. The old prescriptive regal dues were still exacted. In 1166 King William held an assembly at Perth, at which there was an important discussion on the controversy between the choristers of Durham and Croyland. King William lived in the Castle of Perth, a building said to have been almost totally destroyed by the great flood of 1210 He also occasionally resided at Stirling Castle. During his reign he identified himself greatly with the life of the inhabitants and the general prosperity of the town. He had two daughters, who were married to two of the sons of King John of England In 1179-80 a National Council in his name was held at Perth, when the Earl of Atholl granted the church of Moulin to the Abbey of Dunfermline. King William was a patron of the fine arts, and is believed to have been a man of cultivated taste in advance of his time. We are informed that the west entrance of the magnificent abbey of Aberbrothock, founded by him in 1178, has an exceedingly rich and beautiful Scottish doorway of the period, presenting in its details the blending of forms derived both from the Romanesque and First pointed styles. The entire building furnishes an interesting example of the peculiarities of early Scottish Gothic The pleasing effect of the structure can only be judged of when seen in situ,

The capture of William the Lion by the English is a prominent incident in Scottish history. The Scottish forces had been in England, and were returning home. A small contingent of the English army overtook King William and sixty horsemen at Alnwick in Northumberland, while they were engaged tilting. The tilting party was composed of the King and his attendants, who paid no attention to the approach of a band of horsemen, mistaking them for some of their own troops until they were close upon them. The King, exclaiming "Now will it be seen who is a true knight," dashed at once against the enemy in a very reckless manner. His horse was immediately shot, and before he could disentangle himself he was promptly captured by the attacking party. Several of his escort immediately surrendered. He was taken to Newcastle, thence to Richmond Castle in Yorkshire to be detained as a military prisoner. Ere a fortnight had elapsed, Henry, the English King, had him removed to Northampton with his legs tied under the body of a horse, and in this degrading position he was presented to Henry. King William was thereafter sent to Falaise in Normandy as a prisoner of war, where he lay in fetters for five months, until the terms of peace with England were arranged. These terms were that he was to be Henry's vassal. Earl David, his brother, and the other nobles were to become liegemen to the English Crown; the Scottish Church was to acknowledge its subjection to the Church of England, the latter to possess all rights exercised by the former; Earl David and twenty-one barons were to remain as hostages until the castles of Edinburgh, Stirling, Berwick, Roxburgh, and Jedburgh were surrendered, and each nobleman was to give up his son or next heir as a pledge for the due performance of the treaty after his release. This meant the surrender of Scottish independence. On the execution of this treaty William was released. A few months after this, or in the summer of 1190, William and his nobles met King Henry of York, and confirmed what was called the Treaty of Falaise. For fifteen years it remained in full force or until the death of the English King.

Regarding the situation of the Ancient Capital, there is a Ruthven charter dated 1200, in the reign of William the Lion, from Walter, son of Alan, one of the Ruthvens, to the Abbey of Scone conveying "that whole land which Suane, the son of Thor, my grandfather, gave to them in Tibbermuir according to its marches, viz., in the King's well in the street which comes from Perth and leads to the present village." This well is two miles from Perth. It is said that if Perth had then been situated two miles up the river, and on the north of the Almond, the road from it to Tibbermuir would have had quite a different direction.

In 1201, the first Ecclesiastical Council was held in Perth in the Church of St John. It was presided over by the Cardinal John de Salerno. Pope Innocent II. sent William the Lion presents, a sword set with precious stones, and a purple hat shaped like a diadem. This Council decreed that all men should cease from their secular occupations on Saturday at noon, and not resume until Monday morning. At the sound of the bell every person was to go to service. This was ratified by the Scottish Parliament A writer of the time, not devoid of humour, says of the Cardinal: "John ate not flesh, neither drank wine nor strong drink, nor anything wherewith he might be drunken: howbeit he thirsted after gold and silver!"

The real golden age of Scotland—the time of peace with England, of plenty in the land, of law and justice—was the period of a full century following the treaty between William the Lion and Richard Coeur de Lion, comprehending the reign of William, and the long reigns of the second and third Alexanders.1

The inhabitants of Perth were much indebted to William the Lion for many special privileges. We find from the official records, that by his orders no stranger merchant, of whatsoever nation, could buy or sell any kind of merchandise without the burgh, but within the burgh exclusively, and chiefly to merchants and from ships pertaining to merchants of the burgh. No stranger merchant arriving with ships and merchandise was allowed to cut cloth or sell in pennyworths, but in greater quantities, and that within the burgh and to the merchants of the burgh. And if any stranger merchant was found doing the contrary he was to be apprehended by the servants of the guild and punished as a breaker of the King's protection. But a more curious ordinance is what was called the assize of water: "This is the King's assize of waters made at Perth by Earls, Barons and Judges of Scotland on the Wednesday next before the feast of St Margaret: That the mid stream is to be free as much as a swine three years old, well fed is of length, so that neither the gronzie nor the tail may win till ony side. And the water is to be free so that no man there shall take fish from the Saturday at even till Monday at sun rise."

And still more curious is his law of Byrthensak : "Of Byrthensak, that is to say if the theft of a calf or a ram was made as a man may bear on his back there is no court to be held; but he that is lord of the land where the thief is caught shall have the sheep or the calf to be forfeited and the thief is to be 'weil dungyn' (well thrashed) or his ear to be shorn. To do so there shall be got two leal men. No man is to be hanged for less price than for two sheep, of the which each must be worth sixteenpence. In the matter of mills and multures, the King ordains that if any be wont to pass in private to another mill with his corn without leave of the miller and he be taken to the landlord's servant (factor), the landlord shall have half the horse and the miller the sack and corn. When the King comes into any county the judges of that county are to come to him the first night It is not lawful for them to pass from the King's Court before the King pass from the county unless by license of the King. Also the King has ordained that if any judge pass out of the King's Court without leave he shall give the King eight kye for the forfeit"

One of the chief acts in the reign of William the Lion was his famous Charter to the town of Perth, dated in 1210. Though this Charter is reproduced in the Acts of the Scottish Parliament and in the Town

Council Register in Latin, no English translation has ever been given to the public. Considering the remarkable nature of this ancient document, we have had it specially translated for this work. It is the oldest Charter that is to be found in the archives of the Ancient Capital. Though 700 years old, it must be regarded as an ingenious, well-conceived, and shrewd paper, and would do no discredit to the enlightened legislation of the present day. It is in every way a valuable document, of which any municipal corporation might be proud. It must not be forgotten that William the Lion took a much greater interest in the Ancient Capital than any other of the early kings. [From the use of the lion rampant on his seal he was known as William the Lion.] He was a ruler whose policy was "peace and prosperity," "peace with honour," and who spent his life in Perth, and warmly interested himself in the life of the people and in the welfare and prosperity of the burgh. Such a man will always receive honourable mention in connection with the history of Perth.

William, by the Grace of God King of Scots, to all good men both clergy and laity, greeting. I absolutely forbid any foreign merchant within the county of Perth outside my burgh of Perth to sell or buy anything contrary to my prohibition, but a foreign merchant may come with his wares to my burgh of Perth, and there sell them and exchange his money. But if any foreign merchant contrary to this order of mine be found in the county of Perth buying or selling anything, he may be arrested till I express my good pleasure in regard to him. Moreover, I absolutely forbid any foreign merchant to cut his cloth for sale in my burgh of Perth except from Ascension Day till the Bonds of St. Peter, within which period I will that they themselves cut their cloths for sale in the market-place of Perth and there buy and sell their cloths and other wares in common with my burgesses as my dominican burgesses do according to my instructions.

Moreover, I command that all who reside in my burgh of Perth and wish to trade with my burgesses, trade with them in the market-place with a view to paying my taxes whatever sort of men they may be. Moreover, I forbid anyone to keep a tavern in any town within the county of Perth except where a person of knightly degree is lord of the manor and resides in it, and that he shall have only one single tavern. I also grant to my burgesses of Perth permission to have their own merchant guild except the fullers and the weavers. Moreover, I absolutely forbid anyone residing within my burgh of Perth in the county of Perth to make dyed or mixed cloth within the county of Perth or to cause anyone to make it except my burgesses of Perth who are in the merchant guild, and who share the payment of my taxes with my burgesses, excepting those who have their own charter granting this liberty (thus far). So I absolutely forbid anyone in the county of Perth to presume to make dyed or shorn cloth contrary to my full permission. But if any dyed or shorn cloth be made contrary to this order I instruct my officer at Perth to take such cloth, as far as possible, and then act according to the custom which was in the time of my grandfather King David. I also rightly grant my sure protection to all those who bring to Perth wood and timber. So I forbid anyone to molest them in buying or selling it after they have come within a league of Perth. Moreover, I grant to them these privileges and rights and confirm them by this my charter. Moreover, I absolutely forbid any foreigner without my burgh of Perth to buy or sell hides or wool except in my burgh of Perth.

Witnesses—Prince David my brother; Philip of Valoni my chamberlain; Robert of Loudon my son; William Cumyn; William of Boscus; Hugo, my clerk of the Seal; Alexander, Viscount of Stirling; Henry, son of Prince David; Roger (de) Mortimer; David Marshall; John of Stirling.

At Stirling on the 10th day of October.

In early times the fishing of salmon belonged to the Crown, and could not be enjoyed by any subject without a special grant by charter, though a right of salmon fishing followed a general grant of fishing after forty years' prescription. David I. gave to the Abbey of Holyrood a right to have one draw of a net for salmon; and in 1160 the Abbey of Scone had two nets in the Tay. By a law of William the Lion the midstream of all salmon rivers " was free for the length of a three-year-old pig" (see p. 214). In the reign of Alexander III. salmon might be fished in all waters except those flowing into the sea. No one could fish for salmon from Saturday night till sunrise on Monday, nor a "forbidden time," under an old penalty. Offenders against the salmon fishing laws were liable to forty days' imprisonment Those thrice convicted suffered death. It was also forbidden to catch salmon in nets at mill dams, salmon fry at lades or dams, and red fish at any time.

The first tax of which we have any actual record was imposed in 1190 to assist William the Lion in paying off the 10,000 merks, which he agreed to pay to Richard I. of England to obtain the discharge of the Treaty of Falaise already referred to.

In 1196 William was seized with an alarming illness at Clackmannan, and in immediate expectation of death, assembled his nobles, declaring as his successor Otho of Saxony, a son of Henry the Lion, and subsequently Emperor of Germany, on the stipulation that the prince should marry his daughter Margaret The King, however, recovered, and his proposal fell to the ground. Three years afterwards his son Alexander was born. His two daughters were married to English barons.

It has been said that Perth was founded by William the Lion, a statement that is without foundation. He gave orders to replace the property swept away by the flood of 1210; but as he died in 1214, or four years afterwards, it is evident he could not have rebuilt much of the town. His funeral took place on 8th December, 1214, and we are informed that David, Earl of Huntingdon, came from Scone to Perth, with the young king, Alexander II., to attend the funeral of his brother, King William, whose remains were brought from Stirling to be buried at Aberbrothock. He met the cortege in the middle of the Perth Bridge, where he alighted from his horse, and though he was much overcome by the death of his brother, and feeble in body from the infirmity of age, he took one of the arms of the bier upon his shoulder, and so proceeded with the other nobles to the end of the Bridge, where a cross was ordered to be erected in commemoration of the event, and of his loyalty and affection to King William.

In 1237, King Henry III. of England and Alexander II. met at York. Otho, the Pope's legate, was also present, and expressed his intention of visiting Scotland, to which Alexander replied: "I do not remember ever to have seen, in my dominions, a legate from the Pope; neither is his presence necessary with us, for hitherto the condition of our Church is prosperous. The King, my father, and my other predecessors, never admitted a legate into Scotland; neither will I, while I retain my authority. You have the reputation of being a holy man, and therefore, should you visit Scotland, I counsel you to beware, for lawless and bloodthirsty savages dwell in my dominions. I myself am not able to keep them in subjection. You may have heard how they lately made an attempt on my person, and sought to expel me from my kingdom. Were they to restrain you, my authority would not restrain thcm." After this clever speech from the young King, the legate decided not to visit Scotland.

In 1242, a General Council of the Church was convened at Perth, which was attended by the King, his earls and barons, and the Code of Canons then agreed to was ratified. The King enjoined the knights and barons under severe penalties to abstain from injuring the clergy, or encroaching on the customary privileges of the Church. In 1246, some Perth merchants got into trouble abroad, and the King guaranteed King Henry III. that he would satisfy the merchants of Bordeaux about the feast of St Michael, for all debts that they could show to be due by his men of Perth. The officers at Lynn were commanded to deliver all the arrested vessels and goods belonging to the said men of Perth.

Alexander III. (son of Alexander II.) was a great lover of outdoor recreation. When he moved in peace he was accompanied by his hawks and hounds. Forfar and Glamis were ancient demesnes of the Crown. In 1263 the Sheriff of Forfar stated as part of the expenses of the year eight and a half chalders of corn consumed by the King's falcons in twenty-nine weeks; four chalders for the food of seven puppies and their dam; twenty-four chalders for the King's horses; and four and a half for the wild boars. Are we to conclude from the last that the native wild boar of the Caledonian Forest had become extinct or. scarce in Strathmore, and that a supply was reared for sport? In 1264 took place the romantic marriage of the parents of King Robert Bruce. The young Countess of Carrick went out hunting one day with her squires and handmaidens, and met a gallant knight riding across country, the son of the Lord of Annandale. When greetings had been exchanged, she desired him to stay and hunt and walk about, and with her own hand made him pull up, and eventually brought him to her Castle of Turnberry. After remaining there a fortnight he took the Countess to wife; while the friends of both parties knew nothing about it, nor had the King's consent been obtained. The common report in the country was that she had seized—by force as it were —this youth for her husband. When this came to King Alexander's ears, he took the Castle of Turnberry, and made all her other lands and possessions be acknowledged as in his hands, because she had wedded Robert Bruce without consulting his Majesty. By means of friends and a certain sum of money Bruce gained the King's favour, and got back the whole domain. This exploit, Lord Hailes remarks, is rather that of a widow than a virgin; but the accounts of the Sheriff of Ayr for 1264-65 show that in these years the lady's ward was in the hands of the Earl of Buchan, and therefore that she was at least not a widow of mature years, but hardly above twenty-six when the encounter took place.

In 1265 Alexander III. held an assembly in Perth to receive an envoy from the King of Norway. On the 2nd July of the following year another assembly was held at Perth of a very important character. It was agreed, as the result of a war that broke out between Haco, King of Norway, and Alexander, that Norway should cede to Scotland all right over the Hebrides and the Isle of Man, and generally over the Western Islands. In a Council held at Perth in 1269, attended by the King and chief barons of the kingdom, the Abbot of Melrose and most of his brethren were solemnly excommunicated. These men had violated the peace of the territory of Wedale, had assaulted some houses belonging to the Bishop of St Andrews, had murdered an ecclesiastic, and wounded many others. In 1275 an emissary of the Pope held a Council in Perth. The object was to collect the tenth of all ecclesiastical benefits for relief of the Holy Land. The clergy paid the tenth upon oath and under the terror of excommunication. In 1281 we have the following entry recorded: "Contract of marriage between Eric, King of Norway, and Margaret, daughter of Alexander, King of Scots. Roxburgh, Feast of St. James the Apostle, 1281"

"Scriptum cirographatum apud Berwick duplicatum: Sed alteram eorum fait missum in Norwegians : Sed fuit reportatum et submersum cum Nunciis Regis."

The assembly of nobles at Scone who acknowledged the Maid of Norway in 1283 consisted of thirteen earls and fourteen knights and barons. The little maid, the issue of the marriage, died in September, 1290, on her way to Scotland.

In 1284 Alexander III. wrote the King of England, and thanked him for a long course of benefits and for his sympathy, which had afforded him comfort in the troubles he had sustained and still felt through the death of his beloved son. He reminded the King of England that though death had carried off all of his blood, one yet remained, the child of his dearest daughter, the late Queen of Norway, now the heir-apparent of Scotland Much good might yet be in store for them, and death only could dissolve their league of unity.

In 1292 there is an entry in the calendar which will be read with interest The King commands the Sheriff of Kent to value and deliver the goods and chattels of the late Isabel, Countess of Atholl, to her husband, Alexander Baliol, who has given security for her debts. The valuation on oath of Roger Gusing and thirteen others states that there were in the Manor of Chileham two cart-horses each worth ten shillings, twelve stots each worth four shillings, thirty-two cows each worth four shillings, thirty-three swine each worth one shilling, two sows each worth one shilling and fourpence, ten pigs each worth sixpence, forty-one sheep each worth eightpence, ten lambs each worth fourpence, forty-three acres, sown with wheat, each worth three shillings and fourpence, thirty-five acres barley each worth two shillings, forty acres peas and vetches one shilling and eightpence, twenty-one acres oats one shilling and fourpence per quarter. Same are all delivered to Alexander Baliol. Valuation Seals appended.

The death of the Maid of Norway, the determination of Edward I. to profit by that event, his self-appointment as Lord Superior of Scotland in order to select his own nominee for the Crown, his selection of John Baliol over the head of Robert Bruce, and the refusal of the Scottish people to concur with his procedure, were the events which followed on the Norham Conference of 1291 and its protracted adjournments and negotiations. Edward, in 1291, declared war, and the English troops invaded Scotland by seizing Berwick and advancing to Edinburgh. Thence, with the King at their head, they advanced to Perth and Scone, arriving in the middle of June, where Edward kept the feast of the nativity of St John the Baptist with circumstances of high feudal solemnity, regaling his friends, creating new knights, and solacing himself and his barons. Some writers say that it was on this visit that Edward carried away the Stone of Destiny and what MSS. he could lay his hands on He then went north by Montrose, Aberdeen, and Elgin, and returned to London.

Robert Bruce and John Comyn of Badenoch, the "Red Comyn," were at this period competitors for the Crown. Comyn was BalioPs nephew. Bruce was determined to relieve his countrymen from the bondage of the English King. Bruce and Comyn had an interview, when Comyn proposed to resign in Brace's favour, on certain conditions, all his pretensions to the Crown. A contract to this effect was made, profound secrecy sworn to, and Bruce returned to the English Court. Some time after this, he was advised to make his escape, as Comyn had sent a copy of the contract to Edward and advised him to slay Bruce. Bruce posted down to Scotland and intercepted a letter sent by Comyn to Edward. This letter confirmed Comyn's treachery. He rode to Dumfries, found Comyn at his prayers in the Greyfriars' Church, showed him the letter, and charged him with treachery. As the conversation became fiercer and fiercer, Bruce drew his dagger and dealt Comyn a fatal blow. When he came out and joined his friends, they saw that something was amiss. Bruce said there was something much amiss, for he feared he had slain Comyn. Thereupon one of his followers named Kirkpatrick said: "I mak siccar," and, entering the church, slew the wounded man outright Comyn's uncle was killed beside him.


Edward I. issued a writ to the Bishop of St. Andrews and others intimating that he had appointed the abbots of Dunfermline and Holyrood and others to examine the charters and other papers in Edinburgh Castle and elsewhere, and to deposit them in a place to be assigned. This writ is dated at Berwick, 1291, and indicates what great care the King had of the records of Scotland. The MSS. in Edinburgh were removed to Berwick ten days after the date of that letter, and Sir Joseph Ayliffe shows that "an inventory of the Scottish Records at the time of their being brought to London by Edward I. had been strangely misapprehended, an error that has caused much confusion. It was a document of a very different character, being a schedule of all the bulls, charters, and other muniments in the Treasury at Edinburgh on Michaelmas Day, 1282, three years before the death of Alexander III., which, being inspected under that King's order, were ordered to be preserved in that place, together with sundry letters and papers relating to Scottish affairs, put into boxes, coffers, and bags, and secured under seal. Whatever became of these, it is pretty certain that nothing but the mere inventory ever reached the English Exchequer. It is to be presumed rather than asserted that the muniments of Scotland, delivered by inventory to Sir Alexander Baliol, Chamberlain on behalf of King John at Roxburgh Castle, after King John's Coronation in 1292, and then found in Edinburgh Castle, and delivered in a similar manner to Sir Hugh Cressingham, treasurer at Berwick, on 16th September, 1296, may have included those already referred to as extant in 1282. Those papers comprised in all probability the entire public muniments of Scotland during the greater part of the thirteenth century, and possibly earlier, and are a loss to be ever deplored. There is not a particle of evidence that any were ever transferred to England, still less that any were destroyed by the great Edward, whose anxiety was rather to discover than to suppress writings, as is clear from his many writs to the religious houses commanding search to be made for evidence in support of his claim of superiority.

At this momentous period Sir William Wallace came forward with the determination to deliver his country. He was a young man of extraordinary physical power and physical endurance, and from all accounts must have been between twenty and thirty years of age. During his short but brilliant career he was much identified with Perth, where he achieved some of his most heroic deeds. He was the second son of Sir Malcolm and Lady Wallace of Elderslie, near Paisley, a family that was then well known in the west of Scotland. His mother was one of the Crawfords of Loudoun, a very old family. His maternal uncle was Crawford, laird of Kilspindie. Wallace and his mother, we are informed, went there for safety from the English, Wallace having begun his pranks when he was a boy of fifteen or sixteen. From Kilspindie he went to school in Dundee, for what period is not recorded. His father and elder brother were at this period killed by the English at Loudoun Hill, near Kilmarnock, and this incident he appears never to have forgotten. His uncle, Sir Hugh Crawford, was Sheriff of Ayrshire. Wallace went to reside with the Sheriff at Crosbie Castle for a short period. In April, 1296, he went to fish in the water of Irvine, and is reported to have slain two Englishmen on this occasion evidently because of the death of his father. After this he raised a band of fifty men to harass the English, who were then laying waste Scotland. His uncle, the Sheriff, persuaded him to give this up, which he did for a short time. In September following, however, he resumed his depredations, and among these he is reported to have killed some Englishmen on his way to Glasgow, for no other reason than that he was determined to put the English out of Scotland, where he considered they had no business. He then fled to Lennox Castle, where sixty volunteers joined him. Thereafter he marched to Stirling, thence to Methven wood, which for a time became his rendezvous. With some of his men, he is reported to have entered Perth in disguise, where they remained unknown for several days. His object was to ascertain the strength and condition of the English garrison, in order that he might make his arrangements for an attack upon it, and for a siege of the town.

Wallace's movements at this date, 1296, are very imperfectly recorded, but it seems highly probable that after this visit to Perth he went over to France to consult the French King. We are informed that on his return from France he landed above the mouth of the Earn, and ordered a ship to be sunk in the narrow passage to prevent the English ships from sailing up the river. With about twenty men, among whom was Thomas de Longueville, the French pirate whom he captured on his voyage to France, he came to Elcho Park. Crawford, the laird of Elcho, was a cousin of Wallace, and presumably a grandson of the laird of Kilspindie. Crawford and his wife, at great trouble to themselves, concealed Wallace and his followers for some little time. His whereabouts, however, became known, and an engagement between him and an English contingent took place at Elcho Park in November, 1296. It would appear that Crawford fought with Wallace in this skirmish, was wounded, and it is said was carried off the field by Wallace himself.

Fawdon, said to be a singular character, also aided Wallace against the English at Elcho Park. The battle continued along the north side of the Earn. Fawdon stood still near the Castle of Dupplin, saying he was spent with fighting and would not move farther. Wallace, suspecting his fidelity, and provoked by his obstinacy, struck off his head. When Wallace arrived that night at the House of Gask he was much troubled in mind, as the ghost of Fawdon is reported to have appeared before him. A few days afterwards he returned to Perth from Methven wood, where he had gone after the battle of Elcho, disguised as a priest, to visit a fair maid whose acquaintance he had made. She had undertaken to betray him to the English, but repented and warned him of his danger. On this he assumed feminine dress, given him by the woman, and managed to escape to Elcho Castle. Two English soldiers having heard of his presence, when they saw they were duped, pursued him as far as the South Inch and probably beyond it; but he turned on them, and evidently slew them both without much difficulty.

This incident, coming to the ears of Heron, the English governor of Perth, created some surprise, and orders were immediately given to secure Wallace. This task was given to Sir James Butler, chief officer under Heron, and we are informed that while Sir James and his force were leisurely pursuing their way to Kinclaven the following morning, he was suddenly attacked by Wallace and his devoted band. Wallace personally encountered Butler and slew him, and Butler's force immediately fled. Wallace pursued them as far as Kinclaven Castle, and most of them were put to death. There were very few occupants in Kinclaven Castle, which became an easy prize to the victors. It was well equipped with money and stores, and Wallace, having seized these and secured them in a place of safety in the neighbourhood, set fire to the Castle, and burned it to the ground. Sir Gerald Heron, the English governor of Perth, hearing of this unexpected defeat, despatched Sir John Butler, son of Sir James, with a force of 1,000 men in pursuit of Wallace. Both parties met in the neighbourhood of Kinclaven, when a severe skirmish took place, both sides maintaining their ground. Wallace and his band eventually found their way to Cargill wood, where they were able to defend themselves, after which they went on to the wood of Methven.

The Elcho property evidently passed out of the hands of the Crawfords shortly after, for in the reign of Robert Bruce it was the property of Alexander, Lord Abernethy. David Lindsay of Glenesk, ancestor of the Earls of Crawford, and his mother, Catherine Abernethy, a co-heiress of Alexander, founded a nunnery about a mile north from Elcho Castle, in a piece of ground which belonged to the monastery of Dunfermline. The nunnery stood at Orchard Neuk on the south bank of the Tay, about a mile nearer Perth than Elcho Castle, and existed some centuries before the Reformation.

In July following, Wallace assembled his forces in Clydesdale and totally defeated the English army near Biggar. On the nth September, 1297, he achieved the most heroic act of his life by defeating the English army at Stirling Bridge, thanks to the remarkable ingenuity and stratagem he manifested on that occasion. After this victory he was proclaimed Governor of Scotland, which title was recognised by the Scottish Parliament of 1298 as follows: "William Wallace, Knight, Governor of the Kingdom of Scotland, and leader of its armies, in name of the Excellent Prince, John Baliol, by the grace of God, the illustrious King of Scotland, and by the consent of the community of the same." Sir Andrew Moray, Lord of Bothwell, a brave officer and an early associate of Wallace, was the only person of note on the side of the Scots who was killed at Stirling Bridge. His representatives are the Morays of Abercairny.

From December, 1297, Wallace resided at Gillsbank near Lanark, where he fell in love with and married Maria, daughter of Hugh Braidwood of Lamington. She is described as an amiable and high-principled lady. Hyslop, Sheriff of Lanark, besought her to marry his son; but Wallace, having seen her in his expeditions, made proposals of marriage to her, which were accepted. She bore him a daughter, but shortly after the birth of the child, having deceived those who were pursuing her husband, she was actually put to death by them. This child married a Mr. Schaw, from whom, says a chronicler, many godly men have descended. Afterwards a descendant of hers was married to Sir William Baillie of Hoprig, East Lothian, ancestor of the Baillies of Lamington. Their descendant, Henrietta, heiress to the same estate, was married to Robert Dundas of Arniston, president of the College of Justice. Their daughter Elizabeth, heiress of Lamington, and lineal representative of the daughter of Wallace, was married to Admiral Sir John Lockhart Ross, who at one time was M.P. for Lanarkshire.


It can hardly be said that the siege of Perth in 1297 was in reality the first siege, because the Danes undoubtedly laid siege to the town in the tenth century, and we have no means of knowing what occurred between that time and the advent of Wallace. The first siege of Perth was early in 1297, when Wallace resolved to attack and remove the English garrison, and relieve the town from bondage. He made his preparations, and he had a band of devoted followers sufficient to warrant him undertaking so great and perilous an enterprise. He was accompanied by Sir John Ramsay of Auchterhouse and Sir John Graham, two very devoted friends. Ramsay joined him in 1296 with sixty followers, and was engaged with him in various enterprises. At that period the population of the town was small, but its central position and its being the ancient capital made it of great importance to the English King. On this occasion Wallace's plan of operations was to surround the town, fill the fosse which surrounded the fortifications with earth and stone, and place trees across so as to enable his men to get an easy passage to the wall. The siege on these lines was deliberately and skilfully carried out. Ramsay and Graham attacked the Turret Bridge, which stood where High Street and Methven Street meet, while Wallace with his men scaled the wall, and immediately entered the town unobserved. It is recorded that a great slaughter took place, estimated by some writers at 1,000, by others at 2,000; but this is, we think, overstated. We have no intimation as to what was the duration of this siege, but so daring an adventure overwhelmed the garrison, as they were quite unprepared for it The result filled Edward with dismay. Sir John Stewart, the governor, escaped for his life, while a great deal of booty fell to the victors. Wallace substituted his own garrison for that of the English, but whether he appointed Sir John Ramsay or Sir William Ruthven governor is certainly not clear. Sir William Ruthven with thirty men joined Wallace at this engagement, and fought with determined energy. Whatever may be the number slain, there was evidently a great slaughter of the English. For this heroic behaviour Ruthven was made Sheriff of Perth.

In 1304 we get a glimpse of the extravagant living of those in authority. The papers in the State paper office inform us that the following represents one week's supply to the Prince of Wales by the controller of the Royal household. The town was at this period in the hands of the English King:—Total cost for the week, 99. Endorsed "on the Friday of the Lord's nativity, there dined with the Prince the Earls of Lancaster, Warwick, Atholl, Strathearn, and others." There were taken from the King's stores 8 loaves, 40 lambs, 20 Aberdeens, 11 swans, 2 crows, and 5 casks of the King's wine. Another week the same company dined with the Prince. The supplies from the King's stores were, 3600 herrings, 156 stoke fish, 5 bushels salt, 3 gallons oil, gallon honey, 1 gallons vinegar, gallon vergas, 2 casks or cisterces of wine, 9 quarters oats, 36 lbs. wax.

It is not stated where these festivities took place, but there is every probability that it was in the Castle at Perth. There was great scarcity of food at that time, as well as scarcity of money. The King's stores were in all probability at Berwick, for we are informed that boats carrying stores sailed frequently between Berwick and Perth, until Scotland's independence was secured at Bannockburn in 1314.

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