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Perth, the Ancient Capital of Scotland
Chapter XVII

There seems to be no doubt that what is known as Witchcraft touched its highest point in the seventeenth century, and gradually thereafter died a natural death. Its ramifications penetrated far and near. It was essentially an age of superstition. Education was in its infancy, and the people, especially the authorities, appear to have been at times terror-stricken, so much so, that every unfortunate creature who was charged with the crime suffered death. The punishment was greater than the offence, and had it happened in our own day, it is very probable the prisoner would have been dismissed with an admonition. Among the first executions at Perth for the crime of witchcraft was that of three unfortunate creatures, who, in 1598, were burned on the South Inch, betwixt the butts. Their names were—Janet Robertson, Marian M'Cash, and Betty Ireland. In order that the reader may have some idea of what constituted one of these trials, we give the following report of one which took place before the Kirk Session of Perth in 1723:—

Compeared Margaret Harmscleugh charged with sorcery. She was asked if Robert Christie's daughter, at Huntingtower Mill, came to her with meal and beef to seek help to their cow. She denied it Asked if some years since the cow of Patrick Paton had her milk taken from her by sorcery. She denied. Asked if she cured John Hay in Logie-almond, whom all the country knew was witched. She said she cured him. The only cure she used was washing him with south running water, and smearing him with swine seam. Isobel Miller deponed that on one occasion her brother was knocked down, and deprived of the use of his legs and arms. After the physician had given him up, Margaret cured him by a bath of "agrimonie" and black sheep greese. Margaret admitted this. Mrs. Christina Mason deponed that she lay sick for eight weeks, when she sent for Margaret, as she thought she was at the point of death, and craved her help. Margaret said to the messenger, " Truth, she shall not die of that ill," and promised to cure her. She came over and ordered south-running water from the Tay; bearer to be dumb going and returning, and to hold the mouth of the vessel to the north. She washed her with this water, and afterwards made a bath of gril meal. After this, the fire, which was burning without any visible means, vanished in a black smoke. The woman Mason immediately recovered, arose, and supped with the said Margaret, but gave her no pay. After supper, Margaret having departed, the disease returned, and Hepburn was sick as before. On the morrow Margaret returned, and used again her former cures, and received a shirt and pair of shoes. Having crossed the four nooks of the door with her hands, she departed, and Hepburn was restored to health. Margaret admitted the meeting with Hepburn, but denied that she cast the disease upon her. Asked if she had any other instructor, she answered, " None but the Lord Jesus Christ" Patrick Paton deponed that one time when his daughter was drinking with Margaret, she was asked from whom she learned all her wit, and she replied that "many years since there came a man to her, clad in gold, and put his thumb in her hand, and bid her ask what she would and it would be granted her." Margaret admitted this. Same day Harry Drummond and bis wife deponed that after a quarrel with Margaret she did them "skaith." One morning the new ale was working, and Margaret arrived to request some draft They refused, and she went out muttering some words, and then immediately the ale sunk to the bottom and was all as black as pitch and as bitter as soot. And so it fared with five or six brewings thereafter. Nothing prospered with them till he being advised by one who was reputed to be a witch went on his knees before Margaret and asked his gear again. Margaret denied the ill-doing, but granted there was a quarrel and that Drummond asked his gear at her. Drummond and his wife swore solemnly that the ill they got was done by Margaret The same day Margaret Kinloch, spouse of Constantius Hynd, deponed that John Jackson, her son-in-law, having a pig belonging to Margaret Harmscleugh, was witched by her both in his person and goods. Margaret Kinloch and her daughter were therefore obliged to crave on their knees John Jackson's health from her, or, as she herself said, from the devil. Patrick Paton deponed that Andrew Lorraine of Myreside told Margaret his cow was gone yeld and the milk was taken from her, and craved that by her help it might be restored. He paid her a fee of five shillings. She then directed him to buy a firlot of draff, and when she had muttered some words over it she sent him home and bade him cut the cow in the ear and mix the blood of it with the draff, which he did, and the cow gave milk as usual. This deposition Margaret confessed,. and said there was no ill in that.

Isobel Haldane, charged before the Session with witchcraft; asked if she had any conversation with the fairies; replied that ten years since, when she was lying in bed she was taken forth, whether it was by God or by the devil she knew not She was carried to a hillside. The hill opened and she entered. She stayed there three days, when a man with a grey beard came to her and brought her forth again. John Riach deponed that Margaret Buchanan, wife of David Randie, being well in health and at her ordinary work, the said Isobel came to her and said, " Make you ready for death, for before Fastense'en you shall be taken away." And so it happened, for before that term the woman died. Isobel being asked how she knew the term of the woman's life, replied that she enquired at the man with the grey beard, and he told her. Stephen Roy in Muirton deponed that Isobel Haldane having stolen some bere from the Mill of Balhousie, he followed her and brought her back again. She clapped him on the shoulder saying, "Go thy way, thou shalt not win thyself a bannock of bread for a year and a day," and so it came to pass, for he dwined away and was heavily diseased.

Again, in 1715, Margaret Ogilvy, wife of James Johnston, soldier, was apprehended on suspicion of witchcraft and theft The Magistrates ordained her to be banished from the town and never to return under pain of being scourged and burned. Elizabeth, daughter of John Murray of Strathbogie, believed to be guilty of witchcraft, was ordained to be banished from the town and not to return under a penalty of being scourged round the town and burned, and that she be instantly put out at the Highgate port Sarah, widow of James Johnson, Auchenbowie, was apprehended on suspicion, but declared she only came to see her brother, who was a prisoner. The Magistrates disbelieving her, ordered her to depart from the town never to return under a penalty of being scourged and burned, and to be instantly put out at the North Inch port The Session having obtained commissions from Parliament, directed the civil magistrates to try these women for witchcraft. They were tried and condemned to death, and on 21st July were executed on the North Inch, Perth, and their bodies thereafter burned. Witchcraft, it has been said, flourished for four centuries, and in the reign of Queen Mary an Act was passed branding it as a crime against the laws of the realm. Notwithstanding this stringent measure, it still grew apace. The witches belonged to the lowest ranks, and it must be admitted some of their pranks were wonderful. As they were supposed to be in league with the devil, the clergy were determined to put them down, and eventually succeeded. In the Long Parliament of 1640 under Charles I., which sat ten months, it is said 3,000 witches were executed in England and Scotland. This number, we think, is overstated. On the return from Denmark of James VI., no less than thirty witches were executed on the Castle Hill, Edinburgh. "The witches demanded of the devil why he had such a hatred of the King, and he answered, as is alleged, that the King was the greatest enemy he had in the world." The last execution took place in 1722. Happily we live in an age when witchcraft is no longer taken seriously, but during the long period of its existence in Scotland it created and kept alive an amount of terrorism among the people that eventually became intolerable. It was thoroughly believed in by all those ignorant persons who professed it, as well as by those who had received quondam benefits by its unlawful practices.

A great event of the time was the memorable visit of Charles I. to Perth. On the 8th July, 1633, he was received with great ceremony at the entry to the South Inch, by the Provost (Robert Arnot of Benchils) Magistrates and others, and an address was presented to him. He sat on horseback and patiently listened to it, after which the young men, clad in red and white specially for the occasion, conveyed him to Gowrie House, then the residence of the Lord Chancellor, the Earl of KinnoulL Next day he attended Divine service, after which he returned to Gowrie House and sat on the garden wall in front of the river to witness an entertainment On the river was a floating stage of timber clad round with birks, upon which, for his Majesty's amusement, thirteen of the Glovers, with green caps, silver strings, red ribbons, white shoes, and bells about their legs, with rapiers in their hands, danced a sword dance with many difficult knots, five being under and five above their shoulders, three of them dancing through their feet, drinking wine and breaking glasses. The King's visit created, as might be expected, great excitement among the inhabitants. The Town Council ordered forty fed oxen to be used for the King's entertainment; the best houses were kept for Englishmen and the malt barns were given up for stables. The sword dance or Morrice dance took place on the Tay; the Provost used his best rapier and the Magistrates white staves. These dances afforded a brilliant entertainment, and the Royal visit came off with great eclat. The Glover Incorporation still possess the dress of one of the Morrice dancers used on that occasion.

This curious robe was made of fawn-coloured silk in the form of a tunic, with trappings of bright green and red satin. The sleeves, etc., were slashed, and on the intermediate spaces were fixed 252 small globular bells on pieces of leather, made to fasten to various parts of the body. What is remarkable about these bells is the perfect intonation of each set, and the regular musical intervals between the tones of the various clusters. The twelve bells on each piece of leather are of various sizes, yet all combining to form one perfect intonation in concord with the leading note of the set The performer could thus produce, if not a tune, at least a pleasing and musical chime, according as he regulated with skill the movements of his body—giving by it pleasure to the skilful, as well as amusement to the vulgar. The last time this dress was used was on the 6th September, 1842, when a member of the craft figured in it on a small platform in Princes Street, on the occasion of Queen Victoria's visit to the town. The Morrice dance by a skilful performer is most attractive and entertaining.

Some time after this, Charles and Archbishop Laud prescribed new forms of prayer for public worship, and without the authority of Parliament or the General Assembly, they imposed on the country in 1637 a Church Service Book and Ecclesiastical canons. This gave offence to the burgesses, and at a meeting of the Convention of Burghs in Edinburgh, the Covenant, as a bond of union in defence of their religion, laws, and liberties, was prepared. The Presbyterians or Covenanters who opposed this liturgy were led by the Earl of Montrose.

The General Assembly of the Church sat at Glasgow on 22nd November, 1638, at which the Covenanters carried all before them. The Acts of Assemblies since 1605 were rescinded, and the Five Articles of Perth abolished. The National League and Covenant was approved of, Episcopacy condemned, and bishops deposed. This Assembly sat no less than twenty-six days, and great excitement prevailed all over Scotland. It was dissolved by Alexander Henderson, the moderator. The Covenanters took up arms to support these resolutions, and the greatest enthusiasm was manifested. The inhabitants of Perth were active in the movement, and the Town Council ordered one hundred muskets, sixty pikes, and a commissioner was appointed to go to Dundee, Arbroath, and Montrose, to purchase military stores. The King prepared to invade Scotland and assert his prerogative. The Marquis of Montrose was despatched to Aberdeen in the cause of the covenant, and part of his force was 100 men supplied with a fortnight's provisions and ammunition from the merchants and craftsmen of Perth. The Council passed a resolution requiring every fourth man in the town to join the army. The movement cost the town 19,748 Scots money. The King raised an army of 20,000 men to fight the Covenanters, and the Marquis of Hamilton under orders from the King appeared in the Forth with ships and soldiers, but 140 men were immediately sent from Perth to prevent his landing. Charles and the Covenanters eventually compromised matters by referring their troubles to the General Assembly. The Assembly met on 12th August, 1639, and Parliament on 31st August and both confirmed the Glasgow resolutions. Charles, however, would not agree to the proceedings of Parliament, but considered it a scheme to under-mine his authority, and prepared for war. The Covenanters; who were determined to carry their point, immediately crossed the Tweed, advanced as far as the Tyne, and attacked and totally defeated the King's troops. Negotiations followed, and eventually Charles agreed to the stipulations of the Covenanters. Montrose was dissatisfied, and went over to the side of the King. He was a determined man, and when in England he prevailed, it is reported, on nineteen noblemen to sign a bond agreeing to support the King.

In a tavern in Perth, an important dialogue on the state of affairs took place in 1641, between Montrose, Robert Murray, minister of Methven, and John Robertson, minister of Perth. Montrose, who at the time was living with Lord Stormont at Scone, complained that he was calumniated and slandered. Murray asked why he subscribed the bond that was contrary to the covenant, to which he said it was not contrary to, but for the covenant Murray asked why it was done in private "any bond that had been for the covenant might have been avoided."

Montrose—"We saw some men taking particular courses contrary to the cause and covenant, and therefore we behoved to strengthen ourselves for the maintenance thereof by that bond."

Murray"How does that appear?"

Montrose—"There are some for changing the form of Government. There has been a motion for deposing the King, another for setting up a dictator, and another for placing a general within the country as there is one without This was left and another course taken for making a triumvirate to rule north of the Forth and two south of the Forth."

Murray—"These things seem very strange, for we have neither heard, thought, nor dreamt of such a thing, and there is no likelihood thereof."

Montrose—"Tis true, and to accomplish the last point there was a bond offered to me to be subscribed before the army crossed the Tweed for establishing a particular man beyond the Forth, by whom the subjects were to be in fealty and fidelity; but I refused to subscribe it, and would rather die than do so. These things are of my own knowledge. There are ten or twelve who will bear witness. Argyle was the one named to rule north of the Forth, and it was he who spoke of the deposing of the King."

Murray—"These things are strange. I cannot believe them. They seem to be very unlikely."

Montrose—"I might accuse them, but will not do so until first I have cleared myself before the Parliament and General Assembly."

Murray—"Was it your intention that Parliament should meet in November (1640) in order to revise the Acts of Parliament made in June; or to call them in question that so his Majesty might get a ground of complaint against these to our commissioners, who are endeavouring to publish same in his Majesty's name."

Montrose—"I desired Parliament to sit, but not for that object It was that they might add to the committee, for many able men are left out who might strengthen it if they were in it"

Murray—"Had you reason to question these?"

Montrose—"I had not, for I subscribed them, and I would maintain them with my blood."

And so this dialogue terminated.

From 1641 there is nothing of great importance till we come to the battle of Tibbermore. This engagement took place in 1644 between the King's troops, led by Montrose against the Covenanters. It was fought on Lamberkin Moor on Cultmalundie farm, near Perth. The Covenanters were, to a large extent, composed of the inhabitants of Perth. On both sides the troops were undisciplined, the Covenanters especially so. The rendezvous of Montrose was Blair Atholl. In company with Patrick Graeme of Inchbrakie, he went there from Tullybelton. On arrival at Blair, he was met by an Irish contingent, under Alexander M'Donald, numbering 1,200 men. These men had landed at Mull a few days previously. At Blair the Highlanders numbered 800, so that Montrose had a force of 2,000 rank and file. Montrose marched via Weem and Glenalmond to Tibbermore, and at the Hill of Buchanty he was joined by the Menteith men, who numbered 1,000. This gave him a force of something like 3,000, against 5,000 of the Covenanters. Lord Elcho, who was at Perth with the Covenanters, hearing of the advance of Montrose, sallied out to meet him and to give him battle. The two armies met at Tibbermore, and at once prepared for action. Lord Elcho led the right wing of his troops, Sir James Scott of Rossie, an experienced soldier, the left, and the Earl of Tullibardine the main body. Montrose drew up his forces in one long line, three men deep. The Irish contingent formed the centre, and the Highlanders the two wings, armed with swords, Lochaber axes, and long clubs. Montrose himself led his own right wing. The Covenanters' horse fled, it is said, at the first onset, being overpowered by a shower of stones, but probably, it is also said, by the treachery of Lords Drummond and Oliphant These two nobles, after the affair was over, joined Montrose, but the details of their treachery have been carefully excluded from the record. The flight of the horse was followed by great confusion throughout the entire Covenanting forces; in short, a panic ensued, Lord Elcho's troops making for Perth en masse. Very few, if any, were killed on the battlefield, but 400, or nearly so, were massacred in the pursuit, or died of fright Among the killed were Patrick Oliphant of Bachilton, George Halyburton of Culross, and David Grant, captain of the Perth men. It is said on good authority that Lord Drummond's treachery was the cause of Elcho's defeat. Montrose the same night entered and took possession of Perth, where he levied a subsidy of 9,000 merks, and stipulated for free quarters for his army for four days. He then went to Dundee, but it refused to surrender; and he pushed on to Aberdeen, as he knew Argyll was pursuing him.

In a field near the old Castle of Pitheavlis there is a memorial stone erected where many of the Covenanters fell. It is evident that this was one of the most unfortunate calamities that befel the town; and the Government of the day must have been surprised at the Magistrates for such cowardly behaviour. The conduct of the inhabitants in running away was undoubtedly the result of a panic The local clergy, George Halyburton and John Robertson, who evidently considered themselves censured by the Government, were determined they would not lie under such a reproach. They got up an able defence and sent it to the Privy Council The defence said :—

If the people of Perth be blamed for anything, it must be either for what they did render or because the terms of rendering were not honest and honourable, or because the attitude of the people was bad after the entry of the enemy. The strength of the town was not in their walls or inhabitants, but in the friends who were in the field, and being so shamefully defeated did so dishearten the inhabitants that they could not exert the very natural act of moving, let alone resolute reason. That miserable flight was in its suddenness and unexpectedness as the clap of judgment. Our men were very few, not extending to six score. We had in the field a company of musketeers (under Captain Grant, who was killed) which for the most part fled, suspecting that the town would become a prey to the enemy's cruelty. A third part of the town fled at the first report of the enemy's victory. Our friends in Fife and Strathearn who came to us were either unwilling or unable to assist us. The truth of this is proved, for the Provost with a minister, going along the streets with a trumpet three times, could not make up as many as would guard three ports, let be five, as also the walls and ports of the town. It is said that the Fife men offered to assist us. There were seen twelve or thereabout unarmed men, and some of them drunk, come to the Provost in the porch of the kirk, offering themselves to serve. So small a number could not be trusted. They were unable who came in, being fore fainted and bursted with running, insomuch that nine or ten died in town that night without any wound. An overwhelming fear overtook them in the face of such a cruel enemy. Many cast themselves into cellars, expecting the enemy's approach. The Provost came into one house amongst many, where there were a number lying panting, and desired them to rise in their own defence, to which they replied that they would rather die than fight more. They had cast away all their arms by the way, and there were none in town to spare. In town we had no ammunition, for Dundee refused it Our enemies, who before the fight were naked, without weapons, ammunition, or cannon, and unable to lay siege to the town, by the flight of our friends were clothed, got abundance of arms and ammunition and six pieces of cannon. On the north Atholl was an enemy; on the east Angus, on the report of the defeat, disbanded, and a few of them fled to Dundee. We knew not if Argyll had come from the Highlands. The first friends we saw was on the eleventh day after the fight The town was scarce of provisions. The hounds of hell were drawn up before our ports deeply bathed in blood, routed with hideous cries for more. There was not one man from Fife to give us counsel save one who is a useless member of society. Nor was there a man of the committee of Perthshire save Balhousie. After consideration and viewing the consequences, the razing of the City, the loss of all our means and the massacring of our own persons, we thought of surrender if we could have our consciences and our covenants preserved entire. If the enemy would meddle with these the ministers gave counsel to lose life and all which was approved by the Town Council as per their letter to Montrose. In the meantime a letter came from Montrose desiring us to join the Royalists. We answered if he meant civil obedience we would join them ; but if he meant to encroach on our consciences, or to make us break any point of our covenant, we should not do so, lest God should be provoked and moved to bring down a heavier judgment than He had done that day on us. The articles proposed were: That the town should not be urged with anything against their conscience or against the two covenants, and that the town should not be plundered or rifled; that no Irish should get entry to the town; that friends and neighbours should have a pass safely to go to their own homes. Two things proposed to be considered were whether the rendering of the field or the town was most disgraceful and prejudicial to the cause and country. The town surrendering saved the effusion of blood, but the field surrendering was the cause of much blood, ten only being killed standing, all the rest flying.

This defence contains the best and most reliable description of the battle that we possess. It was evidently not a battle, but rather a case of butchery, " ten men killed standing, all the rest flying." The numbers engaged—400 Royalists and 5,000 Covenanters—we think is quite incorrect. The defence is pitiable and touching, and gives us a side-light into the condition of Perth at that period. And what became of this large army of Covenanters if 400 out of 5,000 were killed? We should think 1,000 or 1,500 in place of 5,000 Covenanters would be nearer the truth. Their ostensible object was to defend Perth, but they did not return, as Montrose was in possession of the town, and held it for a week unopposed. It was only when notice of Argyll being on his track with 1,000 men became known that Montrose sacked the town and then escaped with his troops. As an illustration of abject helplessness "there was not a man from Fife to give us counsel save one who is a useless member of society." Of all the sieges of Perth, and it has passed through several, this must be put down as probably the most humiliating.

On 24th July, 1645, a Covenanting Parliament was held at Perth, at which it is said some tyrannical enactments were sanctioned against the Royalists. Troops assembled under General Baillie, who led the Covenanters. Montrose, who led the Royalists, was joined by the Earl of Aboyne, and both encamped with their forces in Methven Wood. Baillie meant to harass Montrose, but the latter, with his troops, forded the Almond, and got off before Baillie had time to overtake them. After this event, it was resolved to have the fortifications of Perth rebuilt, as we find from the following despatch preserved in the archives of the town :—

St. Andrews, 10th February, 1646.
The Committee of the Estates ordain the General Commissary or his deputies to deliver to the Magistrates of Perth 400 bolls meal, to be distributed among the inhabitants who have been, and are to be, employed in completing the fortifications.

The famine which prevailed that year was more severe than is generally recognised. A deputation consisting of Alexander Rollo, minister of Perth, and David Scharp, burgess, appears to have visited certain burghs in the west of Scotland and solicited help for the poor. In a local work on antiquities we find the following entry:—

Receipt by the Commissioners of Perth to the treasurer of Irvine for contribution of 90 Scots for the help of the poor of Perth in time of pestilence, 1646. The Commissioners from Perth for acquainting the burgh with the lamentable condition thereof by the pestilence, and for seeking support for the poor thereof, have received from John Davidson, treasurer to the Session of Irvine, the sum of 90 Scots. —Irvine, 1st December, 1646.

The next momentous event was the execution in 1649 of Charles I. for his false and tyrannical administration and for being the cause of the unsettled condition of the kingdom. His son, Charles II., was proclaimed king in July, 1650, at the Mercat Cross of Edinburgh, having first signed the Covenant on the 15th of that month. He was known to be a youth without force of character, unfit to be a king, albeit proclaimed with much hesitation. After this event, he went to Falkland Palace, and on 23rd July he went to Perth for one night, where he and his escort were hospitably entertained in the house of General Leslie. An address on behalf of the people was presented to him by George Halyburton, one of the local ministers. After dinner, His Majesty went to the summer-house on the river, a favourite place for entertainments, where there was a table covered with dessert of all kinds. There the Provost on his knees presented to His Majesty his burgess ticket, and another to the Duke of Buckingham. His Majesty then wrote his signature and motto in the Guildry Incorporation Book:—"Charles II., nemo me impune lacessit." This book is now preserved in a box, on the lid of which is inscribed:—"This box, formed from a rafter of the old house in Curfew Row, the residence of Simon Glover, by tradition father of the Fair Maid of Perth, incloses the venerable Guild book containing the Records of the Guildry Incorporation of Perth for a period of 119 years before the unfortunate battle of Flodden,and also the genuine autograph and mottoes of James VI., Queen Victoria and Prince Albert"

The Covenanters at this time were vigorous, and Charles had some doubts of his own safety. He left Perth next day for Dundee, Cortachy and Edinburgh. On the 3rd September, Cromwell, who had arrived in Scotland with an army estimated at 16,000, fought a pitched battle against the Scots at Dunbar, and defeated them. General Leslie, who commanded, was taken prisoner.

In the matter of the maintenance of the King's Life Guard the town of Perth was much interested, as will be seen:—

Perth, 17th October, 1650.—The Committee of Estates having considered the report of the Committee on Bills concerning the petition of the town of Perth as to the danger they have been at in maintaining six score soldiers of the King's Life Guard since the middle of August last, at the rate of six shillings Scots each per day, which was an unsupportable burden, and therefore craving to be freed thereof. Being desirous to grant to the town of Perth all the ease that is possible, do therefore command the Commissary General and his deputies to lay up in magazine within the town 100 bolls of meal out of the first and readiest meal belonging to the public, and to give thereof two pounds daily to each of the soldiers ; and ordains the inhabitants to give to each of the soldiers a pint of ale, or two shillings Scots to buy the same daily during the same space ; or otherwise ordains the inhabitants to accept of the two pounds of meal for each soldier. Also to afford the soldiers in the houses where they are quartered such entertainment as they take to themselves, or give each soldier six shillings per day as they have done formerly, the inhabitants to entertain the officers with such entertainment as they take to themselves or otherwise, the officers to maintain the same condition regarding entertainment as they do at present The Committee declare that the pint of ale or two shillings therefor, and the entertainment of officers, wherewith the town is burdened, shall be allowed to them in their maintenance.

C. W. Henderson.

We are informed by a well-known writer that on 25th October his Majesty wrote Lord Ogilvie to come to Perth, and that that nobleman had a long interview with the King in the summer-house on the water, Lord Dunfermline only being present The King pointed out to him that if they did not lay down their arms presently it would both ruin him and them without recourse. The coronation of the King was under the direction of the committee of Estates, and in the expectation of a vast concourse of people who would arrive to take part in the rejoicings an official order was issued that no more than four shillings be charged for a gentleman's bed per night, and two shillings for a servant's, the transgressing landlord to pay one hundred pounds Scots. The King, who evidently had not much courage, ran away so as to be out of the reach of the Covenanters, but he was advised to return, which he did, and attended the meeting of Parliament on 26th November, and expressed regret for what he had done. This Parliament appointed two fasts to be observed previous to the coronation —one for contempt of the gospel; another for the sins of the King, his family, and nobility. It must be admitted that this was a remarkable edict of the Scottish Parliament, and a proof that the King was entirely under their control.

The ceremony of the coronation of Charles II. was fixed to take place on the 1st January, 1651, at Scone. This appears to have been the last coronation of the Scottish kings there. Charles was seated in a chair of state under a canopy, by the Earl of Angus. The nobles, with the Commissioners of Barons and Burghs, were introduced and presented to the King, after which the Earl of Loudoun, Lord Chancellor, said:—

Sir, your good subjects desire that you may be crowned as the righteous and lawful heir of the crown of this kingdom; that you would maintain religion as it is presently professed and established conform to the National Covenant and to the League and Covenant, and according to your declaration in Dunfermline in August last; also that you would be graciously pleased to receive them under your protection, to govern them by the laws of the kingdom, and to defend them in their rights and liberties. Offering themselves in the most humble manner to your Majesty with their vow to bestow land, life, and whatever else is in their power for the maintenance of religion, for the safety of your Majesty's person and maintenance of your crown which they entreat you to accept, and pray Almighty God that for many years you may happily enjoy the same.

The King answered:—

I do esteem the affection of my good people more than the crown of many kingdoms, and shall be ready by God's assistance to bestow my life in their defence, wishing to live no longer than I may see religion and this kingdom flourish in all happiness.

Thereafter, the company adjourned to the church of Scone. The spurs, sword, sceptre and crown were carried respectively by Eglinton, Rothes, Crawford and Argyle, Argyle heading the procession, while the King walked between the great Constable and the great Marischal under a canopy of crimson velvet supported by six earls' sons, his train borne by four lords. This was probably the grandest procession that ever bad taken place in Scone. The church was fitted up for the occasion with benches for the members of Parliament. In the centre a platform was erected twenty-four feet square and six feet high, and on this the throne was placed. The sermon was preached by Robert Douglas, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, a strong presbyterian, from the words "And he brought forth the King's son and put the crown upon him and gave him the testimony: and they made him King and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, God save the King." The preacher addressing the King at the close said:—

Many doubt of your reality in the Covenant: let your sincerity and your reality be evidenced by your steadfastness and constancy: for many like your ancestor have begun well but have not been constant: take warning from the example before you, let it be laid to heart, requite not faithful men's kindness with persecution, yea, requite not the Lord so who hath preserved you to this time and is setting a crown upon your head. Requite not the Lord with apostasy and defection from a sworn Covenant

The King thereupon took the coronation oath, and the nobility the oath of allegiance. The proceedings were closed by an address to the King, the nobles and the people, the minister solemnly admonishing them to respect the vows they had that day taken upon themselves. The King was evidently not very plentiful of money. It is recorded that he was unable to pay the coronation expenses, 40,000 merks, until Andrew Reid, a Perth merchant, advanced the sum on receiving the King's bond. This, however, was nothing extraordinary, for his father and grandfather and the other members of his family were always in want of money. We have no evidence that Charles ever identified himself with the prosperity or local government of Perth.

It is not surprising, looking to the weak administration of the kingdom, that the drastic laws ordained by William the Lion and confirmed by subsequent kings should be occasionally violated. The laws which governed craftsmen and merchants in the production and in the buying and selling of goods and merchandise were very exclusive; men belonging to these two classes in the burgh must be free burgesses, and so far as we can gather from the records this law was very strictly enforced. Notwithstanding this the law was frequently violated during the troublous and lawless times of Charles II., and these illegal transactions (men buying and selling who were not burgesses), deprived the King of part of his revenue. The matter was serious enough to be taken up by the Convention of Burghs, and they issued an ordinance on the subject:—

We are informed that on 14th May, 1651, letters of horning were issued by William Brown, agent for the Convention of Burghs, and Andrew Butter, Dean of Guild of Perth, pointing out that James VI. and the Estates of Parliament ratified all Acts, Decrees; and Privileges granted to free Royal Burghs, and in consideration of the daily injury sustained by the burgesses (who bear the local burdens) by the continued increase of unlawful traders living in divers parts of the country and are not burgesses and bear none of the burdens, keep open booths, and buy and sell merchandise. It was ordained that these persons shall desist from this traffic. Yet a great many persons, chapmen and others, daily engage in this trade, keep open booths, and frequent fairs and markets, buy and sell wine, wax, silk, hides, skins and other goods, and also unlicensed craftsmen daily work and use their craft and take the commodities thereof due to freemen. Thereby the burgh of Perth is "wrecked and harried," and his Majesty defrauded of the duties and customs of the said staple goods. Charge is therefore hereby given commanding all such persons to desist from such illegal practices, and to find caution for their future obedience within ten days after being charged so to do; and if they disobey to put them to the horn.

One of the most extraordinary and humorous incidents in the history of the Synod of Perth and Stirling occurred in 1652. What gave rise to it was the prohibition of certain Presbyterian ministers from preaching. These men resented the interference of the King in matters of religion, and in his forcing of Episcopacy upon the people; consequently the religious feeling of the time was destructive of all peace and harmony in the Church.

Under date 25th June, 1652, Judge Whitelock of London wrote in his diary as follows:—

Letters of the Synod's meeting at Perth and citing the ministers and people who had expressed a dislike of their heavenly government, that the men being got out of the way their wives resolved to answer for them; and on the day of appearance the women with good clubs in their hands came and besieged the hall where the ministers sat The ministers sent one of their number to treat with the women, and he very injudiciously threatening them with excommunication they seized him, thrashed him, kept him prisoner, and sent a party of sixty who chased the rest of the clergy, bruised their bodies sorely, took all their baggage and twelve horses. One of the ministers who escaped, and after a mile's running taking every person for an enemy, meeting a soldier fell on his knees asking quarter. The soldier knowing nothing of the matter asked what he meant The women having seized the Synod clerk, beat him unmercifully with clubs until he foreswore his office. Thirteen of the ministers rallied about four miles from the place of meeting, and voted that the place should never more have a Synod assembled in it but be accursed, and although in 1638-9 the godly women were called up for stoning the bishops, now matters were changed and the whole sex should be esteemed wicked.

From this account it would appear that the Synod had met at Perth, that many other persons as well as ministers had been summoned to answer for the dislike they had expressed respecting Presbyterian government; that in Perth 120 women armed were allowed to assault the Synod; that some members of Synod having afterwards assembled in another place voted and resolved that the town should be accursed; that no meeting of Synod should afterwards be held in it, and because of the violence of these women the whole sex should be esteemed wicked, was an extraordinary state of matters.

The Synod's register of that period has recently been discovered. It is recorded there, however, that this famous meeting in 1652 took place at Dunning. To satisfy some of the members, the meeting next day was at Aberuthven, when they appointed the next meeting to be held at Dunning. The Synod in due course met there three months after. It being reported that there was a scandal committed by some deposed ministers, who, contrary to the Act of General Assembly, had preached and intruded themselves on the ministry, and being informed that George Muschet and John Graham do preach being deposed, the Synod ordained summonses to be issued against them to compear at Dunning the following day at two p.m., and appointed the clerk to subscribe the summons in name of the Assembly. Muschet, minister of Dunning, and Graham, minister of Aberuthven and Auchterarder, had been deposed for "malignancy." The Synod met the following day at Dunning, at ten a.m., and as they were going to church there came from Aberuthven a multitude of women with clubs (some men being among them clad in women's clothes), of whom John Graham's wife was the leader. She walked up to the church, closed the kirk door, and violently opposed the ministers entering the church. The ministers forming the Synod retired to a private house, but it was too small, and they adjourned to the street for the purpose of holding their meeting. Violence was immediately offered by the band of women, who attacked and soundly beat the ministers, pursued them, took from them their cloaks, and from some their horses, and the ministers escaped with great difficulty, excepting those who were able to run. The ministers thereupon agreed to hold the Synod at Forgandenny, at which place they were unmolested.

It was some years after this when the subject of the Papacy occupied the attention of the Town Council. Bailie Deas of that period held strong views on the subject, and he had evidently made up his mind to purge the Council of Papacy. He entered a protest that all the members of Council should purge themselves of Popery, and that none should continue in office but such as were true Protestants. Sir Patrick Threipland gave his oath in presence of the Council as he should answer to God that he had always been a true Protestant, and should never become a Papist This protest put the Council in confusion, as James Stewart, late Dean of Guild, threatened and accused the Provost and Bailie Deas of desiring him to purge himself of Popery when he said he heard Bailie Deas confess that sixteen years ago he took Mass at London, and since that time he had been frequently at Popish worship, particularly last summer at Stobhall; and before that time and since at the Abbey of Holyrood; and in London last summer, on pretence of going to the baths, he had been introduced to the King by Father Peters; and that he had brought from London by sea, in the vessel in which Bailie Threipland and he were passengers, two Popish priests whom he attended to Edinburgh, and delivered to the Lord Chancellor. On this and other grounds they urged him to purge himself of being a Papist or demit office, which he declined until he saw a warrant to that effect, and then he would answer it This speech silenced the Council, and the matter dropped.

In 1662 we have recorded the following proposition by Charles II., put before the Pope for the reunion of England, Scotland, and Ireland, with the Apostolic and Roman See:—Especially he declares that he detests the deplorable schism and heretical teaching introduced by Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and others, wicked men of like sort, for he knows by bitter experience and better than any one else in his dominions, how great are the evils which have been introduced by the so-called Reformation, which ought rather to be called "Deformation."

In May, 1698, John Graham of Claverhouse came unexpectedly upon the town of Perth, where he made some prisoners, seized a number of horses, and appropriated 9,000 merks of the King's cess and excise. From Perth he marched to Dundee, but the citizens there shut the gates against him. He afterwards proceeded to Blair Atholl, where he was reinforced with 2,500 men. General Mackay being at Perth, hasted to meet him and give him battle, with 3,000 men and two troops of horse. Marching through the Pass of Killiecrankie, he found Claverhouse with his army posted on an eminence ready to attack him as he emerged from that dangerous defile. Mackay drew up his men in line three deep, having a narrow plain before them. Claverhouse arranged his army according to their clans on the opposite eminence. Mackay was, however, defeated, and his force thrown into confusion by the rush of Claverhouse's men, but two of his regiments fortunately stood unbroken. Claverhouse rode at full speed to push on the Macdonalds to victory, and as he was doing so a random shot struck him below the armpit, and he fell mortally wounded.

After the Revolution of 1689 that unfortunate venture the Darien Scheme was launched. It was a company composed of many of the leading citizens of Perth for trading between this country and India and Africa, as also for colonising purposes. The Magistrates and traders subscribed 2,000, a large sum in these days, while 400,000 was the aggregate subscribed by Scotsmen. Parliament in 1695 conferred various privileges on the company, and the people believed there were bright prospects before them. But the English and Dutch East India Companies and King William opposed it The Company sent out various trading expeditions, but they encountered great opposition and great hardships. The result was that all their capital eventually was lost, and many of the shareholders ruined. There are those in Perth at this date whose ancestors were victims of this mismanaged and unfortunate concern.


The Guildry Incorporation was established for the protection and supervision of local commerce, and for the maintenance of the exclusive restrictions conferred on them by the early kings. These restrictions will be understood by a perusal of the Charter of William the Lion. The trade and commerce of the burgh at that time was large and prosperous, and afforded plenty of scope for active supervision. Violation of these restrictions was of frequent occurrence, and was severely punished, while the administration of the Guildry, from all accounts, was notable for its scrupulous observance of the powers and privileges conferred by Royal Charter. The Guildry Incorporation is supposed to date from the erection of Perth into a Royal Burgh, and to have been, from that time forward, a constituent part of the burgh and community. In the Charter of William the Lion of 1210, he granted authority to the burgesses of Perth to have a merchant Guild, and prohibited the manufacture of dyed or shorn cloth within the county—but only to those who were merchant Guild brethren. The next Charter was granted by Robert Bruce in 1316, and related particularly to the Guildry of Perth, but it has unfortunately been lost It is referred to in the Town's great Charter. It conferred considerable privileges on the merchant Guild. It was confirmed by Charter of David II. of 10th April, 1365. Robert III., by his two Charters, dated 2nd February and 10th May, 1398, conferred on the Guildry certain powers to prevent forestalling, and by one dated 1st March, 1406, confirmation was made to the Town Council and Dean of Guild of certain statutes, ordinances, etc. The James VI. Charter of 1600 confirmed previous charters. The Guildry Incorporation is of ancient origin, evidently co-eval with the Town Council itself. Regarding the mode of election of the Dean of Guild in early times, we are not positively informed, but the election of Magistrates and Council up to 1469 was annually by a poll of the whole burgesses. By the Act of 1469, the old Council was in future to choose the new. This might be called the termination of the representative form of election, and the adoption of the exclusive principle, at that time common. By this change the Town Council, in course of time, not only assumed the whole power, including that of the Guildry, in making laws, constitutions and ordinances, but arrogated to themselves the management of the Guildry and the Guildry funds, and in doing so disclaimed all responsibility to the Guildry or any other authority. The trades felt long and severely the effect of what the merchant majority in the Council called the " beautiful order." It was not until after a struggle of some years that the Guildry Incorporation succeeded in recovering from the Town Council the management of their finances; albeit the Council continued to hold unlimited sway over the Guildry until about the end of the eighteenth century. The Council's administration of the finances was discreditable, and involved the Guildry in considerable debt; but the Guildry in course of time recouped themselves, and after severing their connection with the Council gradually became a flourishing institution. The Guildry found it a difficult matter to recover their political privileges, or even the power to elect their own Dean of Guild or his Council. The act of 1469 deprived the Guildry of their right to choose their representatives to the Council by authorising the old Council to elect the new, The Town Council took advantage of the power given by the act, and not only elected the Dean of Guild but ordered the Provost and three bailies to be members of the Dean's Council, and the town clerk to be ex officio clerk to the Guildry. This latter point was not enforced. The Provost and three bailies have ever since sat as ex officio members of the Guild Court The Guildry on various occasions, but in vain, protested against this arrangement The quarrel between the Guildry and the Council as to who should elect the dean was referred to a committee, who reported that the Guildry had full power from its Charters to elect their own dean, and that they ought to do so. The Guildry adopted this report, and at once elected the dean. The Magistrates objected, and appealed to the Court of Session in 1815 by a petition of suspension and interdict It would appear that from the time the Guildry took the management of their affairs and finances from the Town Council a spirit of animosity had prevailed between them. This feeling was allowed to go so far that candidates for the Town Council were required to be decided about the rights of the Guildry, and were taken bound to consider these rights as subordinate to the Town Council before they were accepted as suitable candidates. The Court of Session granted suspension and interdict, and then followed a ludicrous scene in the history of the Incorporation The town clerk, Robert Peddie, had received the interdict He renounced his connection with the Wright Incorporation, and became a member of the Guildry by paying up the dues as a stranger. This move was to enable him to support the Council at Guildry meetings. A general meeting of the Guildry was held to consider the report as to their rights and privileges. On the report being read, Peddie got up and stated that he had a paper which as a notary public he was called on and would insist on reading. He was informed that as a notary public he had no business to be there, and the meeting emphatically declined to hear him. Despite the voice of the meeting, he excitedly demanded to be heard. The meeting deprecated in the strongest manner his title to speak one word in any other capacity than as a member of the Guildry. Peddie would not be put down, and disregarded the ruling of the chair. He persisted in reading the paper, though ordered to sit down, or be expelled from the meeting. He afterwards said his paper was a bill of suspension and interdict from the Supreme Court

This interdict formed the subject of litigation, and was obtained, they said, without their knowledge, and on misrepresentations. The Guildry, on the case again coming up, disclaimed any intention of disregarding the authority of the law, and denied having received any legal notice of the interdict, expressing indignation at the unwarrantable and insulting conduct of Peddie in attempting to intimate it and intimidate them. What the end of this quarrel was, or whether it was dropped by mutual consent, is not recorded. The Guildry evidently had the best of it, for to this day they elect their own dean. Coming down to 1827, the Guildry again appear to have got into trouble over the purchase of certain properties, and prepared a memorial for the opinion of Counsel. This document pointed out that the Guildry had subsisted as a corporate body from time immemorial. In the earliest preserved records of the city commencing in 1465, the name of the Dean of Guild appeared in the list of Magistrates, and the Guildry themselves were in possession of records showing that as far back as 1453 they existed and had meetings in this corporate capacity. At what time or by whom their original charter of constitution was granted is unknown, and they are now in possession of no deed of any description affording the information. About 1737 the Guildry purchased Craigma-kerran estate, and they hold heritable property in Perth. The income averages about 1,300 per annum, which is expended on weekly pensioners, and on the upkeep and management of their various properties. The primary object, however, for which the Guildry was established has long since passed away, and its function now is pretty much one of benevolence and philanthropy.

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