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Perth, the Ancient Capital of Scotland
Chapter VIII

IN April, 1298, Edward held a Council of War at Carlisle, caused by Wallace's successes, at which a stratagem was resolved on to destroy a number of the Scottish nobles in the Barns or Barracks of Ayr. This cruel massacre is said to have taken place on 18th June following, when many of the nobles were treacherously put to death before they could defend themselves. These included Sir Reginald Crawford, Sir Bryce Blair of Blair, and many others. Wallace, on hearing of this, proceeded to Ayr with the determination to avenge the deed, and give the English a quid pro quo. He reached Ayr during the night with his devoted band, succeeded in setting fire to the Barns o' Ayr occupied by the English garrison, and it is said the entire occupants perished in the flames, Wallace and his party allowing no one to escape. In the morning Wallace and his band stood on the hill of Craigie, eight miles north of Ayr, and witnessed the fire, which was still burning. According to tradition, he exclaimed: "The Barns o' Ayr burn weel," and ever since, that hill and the estate on which it stands have been called "BarnweilL"

Knowing that Edward, who was in Flanders when the battle of Stirling Bridge took place, was personally on the march with a great army, Wallace made his arrangements to give battle to the English King. On 22nd July, 1298, the battle of Falkirk took place, when Wallace was totally defeated, and some of his most devoted followers slain. Both parties, unknown to each other, resolved to go to Perth, and the following characteristic note appears in Tytler: "Beginning to be in distress for provisions, the English pushed on to Perth, which they found already burned by the Scots themselves. They returned to Stirling, being unable to support themselves for want of provisions." This is a statement we are unable to confirm. For a considerable period Edward had had a garrison in Perth. Sir John Graham, the faithful companion of Wallace, was slain at this battle. Wallace, taking his dead body in his arms, is reported to have said: "My best brother that ever I had in the world, my sincere friend in my greatest need: in thee was wit, freedom and hardiness; truth, manhood and nobleness." He was interred at Falkirk, with the following epitaph on his tombstone: "Graham is buried here; slain in battle by the English. He was strong in mind and body, and was the faithful friend of Wallace." It seems evident that Edward's troops arrived at Perth from Falkirk before Wallace. In this second siege of Perth, of which we have no details, Wallace was ably assisted by Sir William Ruthven. Both disguised themselves as peasants, and got access to the town unknown to the garrison. Fordoun gives us a curious incident in connection with the second siege of Perth. He says Edward made liberal offers to Wallace to submit, and when some of Wallace's friends were endeavouring to persuade him, he with some emotion answered: "Oh, desolate Scotland ! too credulous of fair speeches, and not aware of the calamities that are coming upon you; if you were to judge as I do, you would not easily put your neck under a foreign yoke. When I was a boy the priest, my uncle, carefully inculcated upon me this proverb, which I then learned and have ever since kept in my mind,' I tell you a truth, liberty is the best of things. My son, never live under any slavish band.' Therefore I shortly declare that, if all others, the natives of Scotland, should obey the King of England, or if everyone of them were to part with the liberty which belongs to him, I and my associates will stand for the liberty of the kingdom, and, by God's assistance, will only obey the King (John Baliol) or his lieutenant." It is generally understood that after the battle of Falkirk, Wallace paid another visit to the French King, and that he and his party were received with distinguished honour. The time of their stay in Paris was chiefly occupied in persuading the King to afford aid to the Scottish monarch in establishing and maintaining his Crown. King Philip was willing to grant the request, but it does not appear that anything came of it

On 24th February, 1303, the English army, under John de Segrave, was surprised and defeated by the Scots at Roslin. This so enraged the English King that at the head of an immense army, commanded by himself and his son, he again entered Scotland. He came to Perth on this occasion, and penetrated as far north as Aberdeen and Banff. His journey was practically unopposed, as every place save Stirling and Brechin submitted to him.

In 1305 there was held an inquiry before Malise, Earl of Strathearn, and Sir Malcolm Drummond of Innerpeffray, deputy of John de Sandale, Chamberlain of Scotland, on certain articles affecting Michael de Miggel, by Gilbert and others who stated on oath that Miggel had been taken prisoner forcibly, against his will, by William Wallace: that he escaped once, but was followed and brought back by accomplices of Wallace, who, they said, was resolved to kill him for his flight: that he escaped another time but was again brought back a prisoner by force and hardly escaped death, some accomplices of Wallace's entreating for him, whereon he was told that if he tried to get away a third time he should die. Thus it appears he remained, through fear of death, and not by his own will This is an incident that shows how sharply Wallace looked after his men, certainly very necessary in those turbulent times.

William Ker of Kersland joined Wallace in 1296. He and Stephen of Ireland are said to have been the only two of Wallace's men who survived the battle of Elcho. Ker was the constant friend and companion of Wallace. In 1305, when Wallace was taken prisoner at Robroyston, William Ker only was with him. They were found both asleep, and Ker was unfortunately killed in the scuffle. Wallace was basely betrayed by Sir John Menteith, and was arraigned in Westminster on 23rd August as a traitor against the King of England. In mockery he was crowned with laurels at the trial, and was thirty days a prisoner before his execution. He maintained his unconquerable spirit to the last His heart was placed on London Bridge, his limbs sent to Scotland —his right leg to be put up at Perth, and his left at Aberdeen. It is said he was only thirty years of age at his death, and there seems no reason to doubt this.

William Bisset was one of the arbiters between the competitors for the Crown of Scotland in 1291. He was a friend of Wallace, and took an active part in the second siege of Perth. He was afterwards killed in battle by Sir John Siward. John Blair of Balthayock was a fellow-student with Wallace at Dundee, and a constant and devoted companion, and was entrusted with Wallace's confidential messages. He became a monk after Wallace's death, and changed his name to Arnold to avoid suspicion. Sir Neil Campbell of Lochow, ancestor of the Dukes of Argyll, attended the Dundee School with Wallace. He and Duncan M'Dougall of Lorn on one occasion sought Wallace's assistance against M'Fadzean, an Irishman who commanded an Irish regiment, to whom Edward had given their lands. Wallace, with the Campbells and M'Dougalls, defeated and killed M'Fadzean, and erected a monument on the hill of Craigmore, with M'Fadzean's head on the top of it, in memory of the victory.

Robert Bruce was crowned at Scone on 27th March, 1306, when a curious incident occurred. On the second day after the coronation the nobles were surprised at the sudden appearance of the Countess of Buchan, sister of the Earl of Fife, who claimed the honour of placing the King in the Chair, a right which belonged to her family. According to some English writers, Bruce not deeming his coronation complete because it was not performed by the Earl of Fife, to whose family it belonged by hereditary right, the Countess of Buchan, willing to satisfy Bruce's scruples and maintain the rights of their family, not only withdrew privately from the Earl of Buchan, her husband— being of the family of Comyn, he and the whole of that name were opposed to Bruce for the murder of John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch—but took along with her his war horses for Bruce's service, and crowned him at Scone with a little crown made for that purpose. By reason of this, Queen Margaret, wife of Edward, interceded for Bruce's pardon, which was granted.

Robert Bruce had four brothers: Edward, Earl of Carrick and King of Ireland, who fell at Dundalk in 1308; Thomas and Alexander, made prisoners at Lochryan, and executed by order of Edward I. at Carlisle, 1306-7; and Nigel, who surrendered at Kildrummy in 1306, and was beheaded. They all died without issue. The Countess of Buchan appears afterwards to have been apprehended by Edward I. for being engaged in conspiracies. She was cruelly imprisoned at Berwick in a cage specially made for the purpose, and in this she remained seven years, but was released by Edward II. on the death of his father. This cage was ordered to be so constructed "that the Countess may have therein the convenience of a decent chamber, yet all things shall be so well and surely ordered that no peril may arise respecting her secure custody; and the person into whose charge she may be committed shall be responsible, body for body, and he shall be allowed his reasonable charges."

Another melancholy entry under date 23rd October, 1297, says that the Sheriff of Warwick and Leicester is commanded to allow Isabella Comyn, Countess of Buchan, to fell underwood in the wood of Whitewick to the amount of 10 for her sustenance; on 7th November, 1306, further orders were issued for the Countesses of Carrick and Buchan, Marie and Christine the sisters, and Marjorie the daughter of Robert Bruce, and other Scottish prisoners, three of the ladies to be in cages. All this was under the tyrant Edward I., and this must have made more acute the animosity of Robert Bruce towards that despotic ruler. How these ladies got into his hands is not stated.


The first important enterprise of Bruce three months after his coronation was an attempt to seize Perth, which was then in the possession of an English garrison under the Earl of Pembroke. In this scheme Bruce was assisted by his brother Edward, Lennox, Atholl, David of Inchmartin, and many other of the nobles. Bruce sent a herald to challenge Pembroke to battle in the open field. Pembroke replied that he would do so on the morrow. Bruce, apparently satisfied with this answer, drew off his forces to the wood of Methven, six miles distant, where he proposed to remain for the night, but evidently took no precautions against surprise. Pembroke, it would appear, hearing of the whereabouts of the Scottish troops, drew out his forces from Perth at the close of the day, and completely surprised Bruce's followers, who were unprepared to resist with any effect. In the course of the skirmish Bruce was three times unhorsed, and was so nearly taken that the captor, Sir Phillip Mowbray, called out that he had taken the King, when Sir Christopher Seton felled him to the earth. Bruce was defeated, and he and his followers, numbering 500, retreated to the fastnesses of Atholl. It has been said that in this engagement Bruce committed several blunders. He made no provision against an immediate attack by Pembroke, and his quarters for the night were too near so vigilant a commander as Pembroke was; and he neglected the precautionary step of having guards, patrols, and outposts so arranged as to give instant notice of the enemy's approach. The death of Edward I. in July, 1307, inspired Bruce with new life, as Edward's son and successor was a weak man compared with his father. Four years after this Bruce considered the time had come for laying siege to Perth again, the town being still in the hands of the English. In 1308 there was a complaint by the burgesses of Perth that the Chamberlain of Scotland had deprived them of a rent belonging to the Bridge of Tay, and leased it to William Romaine; that they have not been repaid the costs of a "peille" and fosse which the late Chamberlain ordered them to make when Robert Bruce broke the peace; and that when he was crowned at Scone he put their bailiffs in prison and made them pay 54 of the King's rents for Whitsunday on pain of death, wherefor the Chamberlain levied 142 from their Commune. This would seem to mean that the Chamberlain took the rent of the Perth Bridge and leased it, the burgesses being due the expense of the fortifications made against Bruce; that Bruce compelled them to pay him 54, and the Chamberlain levied 142 on them in consequence. The following year Edmund of Hastings wrote to the King requesting a letter to the Chamberlain of Scotland to pay the garrison of Perth for the time of Aymer de Valence and Sir John de Bretagne, and that he himself, as warden of the garrison, should have full power over the town as he had in Sir Aymer's time: "there are 34 men-at-arms, 60 cross bowmen, and 80 archers in the town, and their pay is more than 20 weeks in arrear. Begs that no judge but an Englishman be appointed over the garrison, as it would be too much for them to be tried by Scotsmen during the war."

The town of Perth at this period was in a lamentable condition. It was occupied by an English garrison consisting, as already stated, of 174 men. The inhabitants were quite unable to expel the garrison, and quietly and meekly submitted to its rule, and, for anything we know, had these men billetted upon them. Stirring events, however, were to occur in the immediate future now that Robert Bruce had arrived on the scene. The first thing that happened was a scarcity of food stuffs, for the inhabitants could not be expected to lay in stores that would support themselves and an English garrison during a prolonged siege. We therefore find that on 30th October, 1308, a warrant was granted by the English King to the Bishop of Chichester, the Chancellor, to issue letters commanding the bailiffs of Yarmouth instantly to deliver to Sir John Maramaduke the provisions, armour, etc., belonging to Sir John and the burgesses of Perth, lately arrested in a vessel bound for Perth, some of which had been removed, and to assist her to join the fleet bound for Scotland, without loss of time. In the following year Sir Henry Beaumont was required to account for his fee of 3000 merks to himself and the garrison of sixty men-at-arms at Perth by the hands of Lady Isobel Vessey, his sister, and others. Sir Roger Mowbray was also to account for his fee of 300 merks while in garrison at Perth with Sir Henry Beaumont It is recorded that the King in 1312 commanded the collector of customs on wool and hides in Perth to pay the whole of these to William de Oliphant, Governor of the town, in satisfaction of the King's debt to him. The King also ordained the Sheriff of Lincoln to complete without delay certain stores bought by the late sheriff, but not yet sent to Scotland, viz., 200 quarters of wheat, 200 quarters of malt, 200 quarters of beans and peas, and 20 quarters of salt to the town of St John of Perth.


One of the greatest events in our local history is what is known as the fourth siege of Perth. This brilliant military achievement was undertaken and carried out by Robert Bruce in the winter months of 1311-12. The English garrison was commanded by William Oliphant of Gask, and Malise, Earl of Strathearn. Bruce felt that so long as an English garrison held his capital, it was a reproach to his courage and gallantry. He therefore resolved to attack Perth with his full strength, expel the garrison, and restore his countrymen to power. It was then a place of great strength, fortified by a strong wall having stone towers, and surrounded by a broad, deep moat full of water. According to some authorities, it could hardly have been reduced by open force. Bruce's troops lay several weeks before the town, maturing their plans. His first move was to demand immediate surrender on his own terms, which were promptly refused. Owing to the strength of the fortifications, the town defied all Bruce's efforts to reduce it Edward, hearing of this movement, ordered a fleet to sail to the Tay with troops for the help of the garrison. When these arrived, Bruce did not see his way to hazard a battle, and resolved to retire temporarily to the wood of Methven. Another writer states that his retirement was caused by fever breaking out among his troops, but this is not confirmed. Bruce resolved on a stratagem to effect his object He shortly after returned to the siege, having provided his troops with scaling ladders, and having learned at the same time that the ditch was fordable in one place, of which he had taken accurate notice. Marching under cover of night, he approached the walls, undiscovered by the garrison, who seem to have been entirely off their guard Favoured by the darkness of the night, he forded the ditch without being perceived, the water of which reached to his throat, himself carrying one of the ladders. He is said to have been the first person to enter the ditch, and the second to mount the walls after the ladders were applied. His troops followed him, having swam across, each soldier carrying a ladder. They scaled the walls, and were able to enter the town fully armed and without opposition. There chanced to be a French knight at this time serving with Bruce, who, on seeing the gallantry with which he passed the ditch, expressed his admiration in strong terms, and following suit, shared in the danger and glory of the enterprise. The town was taken, plundered, and partially burned. As the garrison made no resistance, Bruce gave orders to spare the lives of all who laid down their arms. The commanders of the garrison were made prisoners. Malise, Earl of Strathearn, is said to have been made captive by his own son, who served under Bruce; but he afterwards swore fealty to Bruce, and got back his estates. Bruce gave orders to dismantle the fortifications by throwing down the walls and filling up the ditch.

In the castle and in the stores of the merchants was found a supply of those things which the captors wanted most for the relief of their own necessities. The slaughter of the vanquished was humanely stayed as resistance ceased. Every Scotsman who had joined the English garrison was put to the sword. Though Bruce vanquished the English garrison and restored Perth to its independence, the efforts of Edward to subjugate the kingdom continued to be carried on with unabated energy. Bruce heroically struggled against Edward until in 1314 both fought it out at Bannockburn, when the independence of Scotland was secured and the English driven out of the country. This gave Bruce a period of uninterrupted peace. For some time before the advent of Bruce there was nothing but anarchy, but it is a singular fact that at this siege of Perth the son of Malise, Earl of Strathearn, should have fought in the ranks of Bruce, while his father and Oliphant, seeing all was lost, were compelled to surrender. What led these two Perthshire men to go over to the enemy was probably the disorganised condition of the country. Perth was sorely tried in these times; the town was small, and the population limited. The spirits of the people, however, were greatly revived when Robert Bruce on that memorable occasion led his undisciplined forces to victory. That was a night to be remembered in the annals of Perth. The scaling of the walls, the sudden and unexpected arrival of Bruce and his gallant supporters in the heart of the town at midnight, completely overwhelmed the garrison, who eventually became an easy prey to the invaders. It reminds us, in a smaller way, of Cyrus and the capture of Babylon.

Tytler's account of this siege is brief: "On his return, Bruce determined to besiege Perth, and sat down before it, but owing to the strength of the fortifications it defied for six weeks all the efforts of his army. It had been entrusted to the command of William Oliphant, to whom Edward, in alarm for so important a post, had promised to send speedy assistance; but a stratagem of the King's, well planned and daringly executed, gave Perth into the hands of the Scots before such help arrived The care of Edward had made Perth a place of great strength. It was fortified by a high wall, defended at intervals by stone towers, and surrounded by a broad, deep moat full of water. Bruce having carefully observed the place where the moat was shallowest, provided scaling ladders, struck his tents, and raised the siege. He then marched to a considerable distance, and having cheated the garrison into insecurity by an absence of eight days, he suddenly returned during the night and reached the walls undiscovered by the enemy. Bruce in person led his soldiers across the moat, bearing a ladder in his hand and armed at all points. The water reached his throat, but he felt his way with his spear, waded through in safety, and was the second person who fixed his ladder and mounted the wall."

It is recorded that about 1315 Beatrix of Perth, hostage of the town of St John to the King, beseeched him to take pity on her, she having lost her husband and all her worldly goods for his allegiance, and being an exile from Scotland for fear of her enemies. She complained that of the 124 lent by her to Edmund of Hastings, warden of Berwick, and Sir John Maramaduke, 20 whereof they had been ordained to pay her at the last Parliament at York, she had received nothing. (There is no date to this ancient document, and its endorsement is illegible) From the same period there is a warrant of the Treasury to pay Beatrix, widow of John of Perth, 10 granted in relief of her condition by the King's gift; and on 25th August, 1316, there is another warrant for 10 merks to Beatrix of Perth.

Shortly after this siege Bruce called a convention of the nobles, and demanded by what title they held their estates. Each drew his sword and exclaimed : "We carry our titles in our right hand." This reply silenced the King. These men resented his conduct, and secretly formed a conspiracy against him. The leaders were David of Brechin, the King's nephew, Lord Soulis, Governor of Berwick, and several others. The plot was discovered, and a meeting of what was afterwards called the Black Parliament was held at Scone in August, 1320, when these conspirators were ordered to be executed. Sir John Logie, Sir Gilbert Malherb, and Richard Brown, son of Sir John Brown, were drawn at the tails of horses through the streets of Perth to the place of execution, probably the Burghmuir, where they were hanged. Whether Brechin got off is not clear, but it is recorded that Lord Soulis and the Countess of Strathearn were condemned to perpetual imprisonment in connection with this conspiracy: a mysterious proceeding, seeing that Soulis turned King's evidence and disclosed the plot

In July, 1321, a provincial Council was held at Perth. The Scottish Parliament was then sitting at the same place. The subject debated was the exclusion of women from the succession to lands by the ancient law of Scotland The next pro vincial Council was held in Scone in 1324. In the Parliament held at Cambuskenneth on 15th July, 1326, when Bruce claimed money to meet the expenses of war, the tenth penny of all rents according to the Act of Alexander III. was granted by the earls and barons. In 1330 curious references to a lion appear in the public accounts, which seems to have been a pet of the warrior King. Its food for the year cost 6 13s. 4d. The costumars of Perth paid for the hire of a house for it, and for wages to its keeper, and a cage for it which cost 23s. of money of the time.

King Robert Bruce died at Cardross in 1329. His son, who became David II., was only five years old. Under the Act for the Settlement of the Crown, Randolph became Regent, but he died in 1332. The Scottish Parliament assembled at Perth, 2nd August, 1332, to elect a Regent to succeed Randolph, when Donald, Earl of Mar, nephew of the late King, was appointed Mar was not qualified for the post A curious entry appears in the Exchequer Rolls of this period. When King David was crowned at Scone in 1331 the expenses were considerable, and the burgesses of Perth contributed towards the banquet, swine, a boar, and five dozen lampreys, while the Bishop of St Andrews sent 6000 eels! According to a recent historian, this coronation was attended by ceremonies giving it a peculiar lustre. The anointing of the King for the first time in Scottish history was performed on this occasion by the Bishop of St Andrews under a special bull from the Court of Rome. In the eye of this Church, it conferred on the King's title a sacredness which no right of succession or civil ceremony could impart This ceremony was regarded as of great importance. The Bishop's remarkable contribution to the banquet indicates that festivities on a large scale must have taken place on the occasion, but we have no record of any details.

The memorable battle of Dupplin was fought in 1332 between the troops of Edward Baliol and the Scottish forces under the Earl of Mar, Regent under David II. This battle will always remain a mystery, for it is recorded that the Scottish troops were surprised while in a state of intoxication, and the whole army almost annihilated by the English. Baliol, whose strength has been estimated at 2,500, encamped at the Miller's Acre, near Forteviot, with the Earn in front; Mar, with 30,000, was encamped on the opposite side of the river; while the Earl of March, with 20,000 men, was encamped at Auchterarder. These numbers we have no means of verifying. No situation, the historian Hailes says, could be more perilous than that of Baliol. Within view of an army greatly superior to his own, and with the prospect of March following up the rear, he took the desperate resolution of crossing the river and attacking the Regent at midnight The Regent's forces had abandoned themselves to intemperance, and Mowbray, the English commander, coming unperceived upon them, made a great slaughter. In a moment all was confusion, and while those behind still pressed on, the foremost were thrown down and trodden under foot and suffocated One writer says, on examining the field, it was found that multitudes had perished without stroke of weapon, overridden by their own cavalry, suffocated by the pressure and weight of their armour, and trodden under foot by the fury with which the rear ranks had pressed on the front Among the slain were the Regent Mar; young Randolph, Earl of Moray; and Murdoch, Earl of Menteith. There seems to have been no generalship on either side. Baliol was a weak man, and nothing but the reason stated could explain his victory. It has been said that Mar refused to fight against Baliol, but this statement we think is incorrect. Next day, August 12, Baliol, without opposition, took possession of Perth. The remaining inhabitants were evidently paralysed by the wholesale slaughter of the previous day. It is of some importance to get the English King's version of this unfortunate engagement:—

After the battle of Dupplin, on nth August, 1332, Edward Baliol and his men consulted together, and considering that the relatives of those Scots slain at Dupplin would avenge them, Baliol resolved to seek some town, by fortifying which they might rest more safely; and immediately they passed to the town of St John, took it, and fortified the broken walls with stakes and boards. This fact being discovered, those who had escaped from the battle, having reunited and joined with their countrymen, besieged and beset the town, expecting the arrival of a certain John Crow of Berwick to assist them. The besieged directed chosen horsemen and some archers towards Meffen (Methven) to plunder; nor did they willingly cease for fear of the besiegers until they carried off a large booty. Likewise also they opened the course of the water running in the ditches of the town, which course had been stopped up from the enemy. Meanwhile the said John Crow, a very cruel pirate, preparing a fleet at Berwick, at the head of a thousand armed men, besides sailors, set sail, intending to besiege the occupants of St John's town; and he met the ships of the conquerors (the English), where they had landed, near Kinghorn, and set out to sea almost empty of mariners except 200. They considering that they were not able to meet so great a multitude, praying the divine assistance, and setting aside fear, with spread sails turned toward sea, they were compelled to take flight; which being heard, those who beset St John's town raised the siege and retired.

The Scots being dispersed, as stated, the conquerors committed St. John's town to the Earl of Fife, lately come to their peace, and swearing fealty to the same, and turning aside to Scone, certain Scottish nobles, bishops, and abbots with provincials who had submitted themselves, being summoned, the Bishop of Dunkeld crowned Edward Baliol with the regal diadem; where there happened what has rarely happened in such a solemnity, for all those who were present stood armed except their helmets. The necessity excused them, because the people and nobles turned to them from fear rather than affection, and thus it became him who had conquered the kingdom of Scotland with the strong hand of force to be crowned by armed men.1

On the 24th September Baliol was crowned at Scone, after which he retired to the south of Scotland, leaving his military commander, the Earl of Fife, in possession of Perth. A fortnight after his departure the town was again surprised, and the Earl of Fife and his family taken prisoners. The English historians say he betrayed the town, an exceedingly likely circumstance. This siege was conducted by the successors of those who fell at Dupplin, and shows that that disaster had not crushed the military spirit and courage of the people. It lasted three months, and was persistently fought out by the English garrison.

This was the fifth siege of Perth. It is reported that King David, a youth of ten years of age, and his young wife fled to France, where King Philip received them honourably. In the following year the battle of Halidon Hill took place, when it is believed several thousands of the Scots were slain because of their determination not to recognise Baliol as king. For Scotland and for Perth this was a very critical period. The disasters of Dupplin and Halidon Hill, whatever may have been the number killed, were enough to paralyse the nation, but the spirit of the people evidently was not to be crushed. In 1334 Baliol was at last acknowledged King by the Scottish Parliament, but this was not to last Though Perth had been wrested from the English in 1332, Edward was determined to have it restored; and in 1335 it is recorded that he attacked and took possession of it, and greatly fortified it, so as to defend it against the Scots; and as a proof of the tyranny of Edward, he compelled the abbacies of St. Andrews, Dunfermline, Lindores, Balmerino, Coupar, and Aberbrothock to pay the cost of these elaborate additions to the fortifications, and he placed a garrison in it under Sir Thomas Oughtred. This was the sixth siege; but again we have no details recorded. The new fortifications included three towers and three gates; there was a tower over each gate. Edward resided here for a short period, and eventually a treaty was concluded between parties. In the matter of the treaty, it is recorded that Alexander and Geoffrey Mowbray and others, having full powers from the Earl of Atholl and Robert the Steward of Scotland, concluded a treaty with Edward III. at Perth, 18th August, 1335. By this treaty it was provided that Atholl and the other barons and people of Scotland in submitting to the English King should receive pardon and have their lands secured. The liberties of the Scottish Church were to be preserved, and the laws and ancient usages of Scotland in the days of Alexander were to continue in force, and all offices to be held by natives of that kingdom. This was called the Treaty of Perth. Edward granted a special pardon to Atholl, restored him to his English estates, and appointed him Lieutenant of Scotland. Murray of Tullibardine was tried for treachery and executed at Perth. In the correspondence of this period we find a dispatch of great importance, written at Perth by Edward III., and addressed to the King of France. This letter, written at such a remote period, does the English King great credit:—

Very dear lord and kinsman, we have received at St. John's town in Scotland on 20th August [1335] your letters narrating that by authority of the Supreme Pontiff you have undertaken as captain [or to lead] a passage to the Holy Land in which you desire our company and you are willing most freely to put away all disputes which can hinder the said holy journey, also how the envoys of [King] David and the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Scotland have petitioned you and do earnestly beseech and request you that by reason of the leagues made by Charles King of France your predecessor and our uncle, with the predecessor and father of King David and also with the community and people of the Kingdom of Scotland, you should be willing to aid them in terms of the treaty which you cannot refuse on account of your honour. Therefore you have promised aid and relief to them. Likewise [your letters say] you for putting down all dissensions which can hinder the said passage and for the sake of peace and concord have caused your great council to confide to us this way, namely, that the Holy Father and you may be able to take order upon the said discords and you have besought us that we also would deign to consent to that plan. Very dear nephew and lord, as to the first point, may it please you to know that by immense labour and unmeasured pains, we have established a peace between us and the inhabitants of Scotland, which, God willing, shall be so observed that the journey to the Holy Land will in no wise be hindered because of dissensions between the kingdoms. As to the second point, namely, that you had promised aid to [King] David and the people of Scotland on account of treaties, it appears to us that, having regard to the ancient ties between the Kings of England and of France through affinity and nearness of blood and also because of our homage paid to you, you are bound to aid us more than others who are strangers and distant from you. Also, beloved nephew, as to the third point, that we ought to consent that the Holy Father and you may take order upon the said disputes and injuries, may it please you to know that, blessed be the Highest, the discords are pacified as is above stated, and they touch our crown and specially the rights of our kingdom which we are neither willing nor able to submit to the ordering or decree of any one, because the nobles and community of our realm, by the statutes and laws used of old, would not consent to it. Very dear nephew and lord, in all things touching yourself we shall always be ready to do you reason, as we ought—Given under our Privy Seal at St John's town in Scotland, 22nd day of August [1335]

On 12th September of this year a highly important paper was executed at Perth. It was an indenture between Edward Baliol and John of the Isles, whereby by the former granted the latter for his good service, the island of Islay, the lands of Kintyre, Knapdale, Gigha, and the half of Jura, Mull, Skye, Lewis, and Ardnamurchan, to be held by John and his heirs. The latter were to be liegemen to the King of Scots and harass his enemies continually when able. "And in security he has made his oath on the Holy Eucharist, chalice of the altar, and missal, and shall deliver if required as hostages his next cousin in minority, having as yet no lawful son and heir of his body. When he has such an heir, the King of Scots will be his godfather." In September, 1336, King Edward of England was in St John's Church, standing before the altar, when his brother John, Earl of Cornwall, a youth of twenty-one, arrived on the scene. The conduct of this youth exasperated the people, for he had' burned churches and wasted the country with fire and sword while the King was at peace with the people. The King remonstrated with him for his cruelties, and getting a haughty answer, stabbed him mortally with his dagger.

In 1335 there was a destructive visit of the plague, and Perth suffered severely, as did many other towns. One-third of the inhabitants are said to have died of it. Coming so soon after the unfortunate disasters of Dupplin and Halidon Hill, where so many of the inhabitants of Perth were slain, it was a double calamity on the people; Between 1512 and 1645 the plague unfortunately visited Perth four times, viz., 1512, 1585-7, 1608, 1645. It would appear from the statistical account that no less than 3,000 of the inhabitants died from the effects of it, besides many who died afterwards when its violence had subsided. This seems a very large proportion, when we consider that the population at that period was probably 6,000 or 7,00a We are not informed what period this 3,000 covers, but we believe it covered the whole four visits of the scourge. Many houses were shut up, and many went to ruin, while unaffected houses are said to have been inhabited by few. Some streets are stated to have been entirely destitute of population, and a cloud was thrown over the town, which took some years to remove; the inhabitants, being few in number, had no courage to carry on business. We are told from another source that the deaths from September, 1584, to August, 1585, the worst year of the plague, were no less than 1,427, but the writer quotes no authority.

On August 4, 1338, an agreement was entered into between Edward, Duke of Cornwall, Guardian of England, and Sir Thomas Oughtred, the English Governor of Perth, whereby the latter undertook to hold the town of Perth from that date till Easter, with 100 men-at-arms in the King's pay, besides 120 hobelars, half mounted and half on foot; also a well-found ship or barge at the King's cost, and vessels from Berwick, to transfer his men and horses to Perth, the King also providing all the munitions of war and provisions for the garrison, and keeping up the walls and ditches.


Robert, the Steward of Scotland, was appointed Regent, and he began his administration in 1338 by preparing for the siege of Perth. Perth had been the headquarters in Scotland of the English army for some time. As Baliol had chosen it for his usual residence, it was the seat of Government and a place of importance. There were, it is said, great obstacles to be overcome before the Scots could have any hope of winning a fortress which had every defence of art, and which, from its vicinity to the sea, maintained a constant intercourse with England. The town was vigorously besieged by the Scots under the Regent The English garrison defended themselves for four months, and as the Scots were about to retire they were reinforced by Douglas, Lord of Liddesdale, who arrived with five ships and men and provisions from France. For another month the siege was renewed with vigour. Douglas was severely wounded as he was scaling the walls. The Earl of Ross eventually drained away the water of the moat, which enabled the assailants to get near and drive the garrison from their works with the arrows and darts thrown from their engines. Sir Thomas Oughtred, seeing all hope was gone, surrendered on condition that the lives of the garrison would be spared, which was agreed to. This incident is very concisely put by Balfour:—"The Regent, Robert Stewart; William, Earl of Ross; Patrick, Earl of March; Maurice de Murray, Lord of Clydesdale; and William Keith, of Galston, take the town of Perth from the English and shortly lose it again."

One of the conditions of surrender was that Sir John Logie's son should be restored to his father's lands; and King David in consequence reconveyed Strathgartney to John Logie in 1344. The King had for his second wife Margaret of Logie, aunt of Annabella Drummond, Queen of Robert III. This Lady Margaret Logie conveyed Stobhall, Cargill, and Kinloch to her nephew, Malcolm Drummond. These estates were really obtained by gift from Queen Margaret, and have been in the possession of the Drummond family ever since.

After the surrender, a petition by Sir Thomas Oughtred was presented to the King and Council, showing that by the agreement between the Duke of Cornwall and himself he undertook the charge of the town of St John of Perth, and was to have for the garrison 3,500 quarters of wheat, 3,000 quarters of malt, 500 quarters of beans and peas, 1,500 quarters of oats, 48 tuns wine, 40 waughts of salt; but had got no part of these victuals save 300 quarters of wheat and malt, and 40 quarters beans from the county of Lincoln. The Chamberlain at Berwick failed to find shipping for his horses and people to Perth, and he had to find them himself, and pay 50 for freight of his own money, besides 20 to fit out the galley. He therefore begs to be relieved of his command as the conditions have not been kept, nor the wages of the master and forty men of the galley paid. This petition was disposed of with Spartan brevity: the Council promised to do what he asked, and requested him to hold his post until supplies reached him.

In 1340 Sir Thomas Oughtred was successful in getting his military stores, as there was issued on 1st May a warrant on the Exchequer for payment to him of the balance of his expenses for his garrison, wages, provisions, and galley, and a barge of war and their crews, up to 16th August, 1339, in all 1156.

In October, 1346, took place the battle of Neville's Cross in the north of England between King David, who, now twenty-two years of age, had taken upon himself the administration of the kingdom, and the English troops under Edward. David was totally defeated, wounded, and taken prisoner, and many of the Scots nobility slain. He was put in the Tower of London and kept there eleven years. His Consort, Queen Johanna, obtained liberty to visit him after he had been in captivity two years. At this date there is a brief entry on the record without details, viz., that the Earl of Ross this year caused to be murdered Reginald, Lord of the Isles, near the priory of Elcho.

In 1356 an important Parliament was held at Perth, when ambassadors were appointed to treat with the English for the liberation of the King, and they eventually succeeded. At a Parliament held at Scone, 1363, the King, who was now released, explained the conditions of peace agreed with Edward. He proposed in the event of his death that a son of the King of England should fill the Scottish Throne. If this was agreed to, the King of England would not again disturb Scotland, and the ransom which pressed so heavily upon them would be discharged. Parliament, notwithstanding its poverty and its inability to pay the ransom, stood aghast at this proposal, and responded: "We never will allow an Englishman to reign over us." In the same year a Conference was held at Perth between David and the English King, when twenty-eight articles were formulated and agreed to between them. Two of these were: The King after having been crowned King of England to come regularly to Scotland and to be crowned at Scone in the Royal chair, which is to be delivered up by the English; every Parliament concerning Scotland to be held either at Scone or some other place within the kingdom.

A Parliament was held at Perth, 13th January, 1364, to report on the proposed treaty between the two countries. To extricate the country from its difficulties they resolved to restore certain disinherited lords to their estates, and to give the youngest son of the King of England certain lands in Galloway which belonged to Baliol. If these conditions were not accepted by England, the heavy ransom agreed to by the King was to be paid, provided time was given to do so. The lords and barons agreed to ratify any treaty come to by the plenipotentiaries and the King of England. At this Parliament the members took an oath that they would put down any person who should infringe the resolutions they had come to, such person to be declared a rebel and be compelled to observe the agreement. There were present Walter, the High Steward; Sir John, Lord Kyle, afterwards Robert III.; the Earl of Ross; and Keith, Earl MarischaL Another Parliament was held at Perth the following year confirming these conditions of peace with England. This took place in the Dominican Monastery in presence of the King, when the result of the conferences between the Scotch and English commissioners regarding peace were anxiously debated. There were present the bishops of St. Andrews, Dunkeld, Moray, Brechin Whithorn; the Steward of Scotland; the Earls of Dunbar, Moray, and Douglas; and Keith, Earl Marischal, etc Edward insisted that Scotland, in the event of England being invaded, should assist him with forty men at arms, and sixty archers to serve in and be paid by England. The invasion, however, never took place. He ordered the Castles of Edinburgh, Perth, and Stirling to be fortified, which would indicate that the Castle of Perth was not entirely demolished by the flood of 1210.

At a Parliament held at Perth, March, 1368, the three estates on account of the inconvenience of the season and the dearness of provisions elected certain persons to convene Parliament, who were divided into two bodies: one to treat of the general affairs of the kingdom; the other to sit on appeals from the inferior courts. And in the following Parliament held at Perth, 18th February, 1369, such committees were appointed: the first on appeals, pleas and complaints; the second to treat and deliberate on secret and special affairs of the kingdom, previous to their being brought before Parliament These committees consisted of six clergy, fourteen barons and seven burgesses. In these arrangements we perceive the origin both of the Committee of Articles and of the establishment of a Supreme Court of Justice.

On March 18, 1370, the King, on the complaint of John Mercer and other Scottish merchants, ordered the Collectors of Customs at St Botolph and the Bailiff of Waynflete to receive their wool, hides, etc, shipped in Scotland for Flanders in the Magdeleyn, which had been wrecked off Waynflete, and had duly paid custom as attested by letters under the seal of David Bruce of Scotland.

On March 2, 1371, Parliament met at Scone under Robert II. Sheriffs and other judges were prohibited from asking or receiving presents from litigants of any part of the sums or matter in dispute. Acts were passed relating to the punishment of murder. Masterful beggars were ordered to be arrested, and in case of resistance, to be slain on the spot We do not, however, possess any evidence that, as regards the beggars, this Act was put in force.

In 1373 there was establised a Royal Mint at Perth for manufacturing the coinage, as well as one at Edinburgh, Thomas Strathearn being custos monete, Master of the Mint The chamberlain's account for 1373 shows that the King's seignorage at Perth was 174 13s. 8d. as against Edinburgh 28 5s. 4d. This important announcement is without detail in the official papers, and we are at a loss to know where in the ancient town of Perth this mint was situated, nor have we any date when it was removed to Edinburgh. The seignorage of the King was an ancient prerogative of the Crown, whereby it claimed a percentage on every ingot of gold and silver brought to the mint to be coined.

On October 18, 1377, the King of England, Richard II., commanded his clerk, Richard of Ravensor, to deliver John Mercer of Perth and his son, lately made prisoners, and then at Grimsby, to Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, for safe custody. On 24th November following, the King in a letter to Henry, Earl of Northumberland, signified that the cost of bringing John Mercer and his son and their servants from Grimsby to London was to be defrayed out of the Scottish goods captured at Grimsby

and at Hull, the same to be delivered to the Earl by indenture (agreement) with the merchants, mariners, and others in the vessels. A few days thereafter, viz., on 1st December, there was granted a safe conduct for Sir Patrick Graeme, knight, and John Mercer of St Johnstoun, to come before the Council and return, till 1st May, on the affairs of the kingdom. The same not to prejudice the re-entrance of John Mercer to the Castle of Alnwick at Pentecost next, nor the obligations by the Earl of Douglas, and other magnates of Scotland, for the said John Mercer. Pirates on the high seas in these days were very common, and no man was more harassed by them than John Mercer, whose ships were constantly going and returning from Perth to Flanders.

Robert II., after the fashion of his age, prepared his tombstone during his lifetime. It was brought by sea from England, was carved possibly at Edinburgh by the King's mason, one Nicholas Haen, was further embellished by Andrew, the painter, and finally carried from Holyrood to Leith, thence to Perth, and deposited in the Church of St John till required. Robert II. died in 1390. There is an entry of 6 13s. 4d. as payment for one stone from the church of St John for the tomb of Robert II., and further the small sum of four shillings for petty expenses in carrying the said stone to Scone. The funeral of the King was an expensive one, costing 682.

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