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Perth, the Ancient Capital of Scotland
Chapter XVIII

We now approach a momentous crisis in the history of the Ancient Capital: the arrival, in 1651, of Cromwell and his chosen band of well-disciplined troops. If we except the inexcusable acts of vandalism of which Cromwell was guilty, we shall find his rule and the principles which governed his action a vast improvement on anything that Perth had experienced from the Stuarts for at least one hundred years. The Protector was a man of great force of character, a humane, not a cruel man, and whatever he decided to do he did it fearless of consequences. The inhabitants of the Ancient Capital experienced no cruelty from him, but they never could be reconciled to the demolition of property which characterised his visit, particularly the disgraceful conduct of his troops in removing the stones from Greyfriars burying-ground to aid in the erection of his citadel. Cromwell, who was now in Scotland, resolved to attack Perth, and the inhabitants hearing of this and becoming alarmed assembled on the 6th July on the South Inch and discussed the situation. The result of the discussion was that they chose 100 men, who were instructed to proceed to Burntisland to watch Cromwell's movements. These men were immediately despatched. They proceeded to Burntisland, thence to Dunfermline, at which latter place no less than 3,000 men joined them. A fortnight after the meeting on the South Inch, or on 20th July, Cromwell, it is recorded, overtook them at Inverkeithing, where a sanguinary and disastrous engage-ment evidently took place. Though Cromwell's forces were small in number, they seem to have had no difficulty in annihilating the troops from Perth and Dunfermline. It is recorded that no less than 1,600 were killed and 1,200 taken prisoners, only a very few being able to make their escape. Andrew Butter, Dean of Guild, commanded the Perth forces, and John Davidson, a notable citizen who escaped, was lieutenant Cromwell then advanced with his troops from Inverkeithing to Perth, halting one night at FordeL In a day or two he arrived at Perth and found the gates shut John Davidson ordered carts to drive up and down the streets and a drum to beat continually so as to deceive the English guards, and it so far succeeded. Eventually, however, the town was summoned to surrender, the Protector offering honourable terms, which were accepted and the gates thrown open. The Provost, Andrew Grant, attended the English officers, and conducted them to John Davidson's house. After supper Cromwell asked the Provost how in his defenceless position he proposed to keep him at the gates. The Provost replied that they meant to try and hold out until they knew that the King was in England. Andrew Reid, a wealthy citizen, was here introduced to Cromwell, to whom he presented the bond granted to him by King Charles. Cromwell returned it with a smile, and said he had nothing to do with it, he was neither Charles nor his executor; to which Reid replied rather hastily, "If your Excellency is neither king nor executor, you are surely a vicious intermeddler." Cromwell took the remark in good part, and with a smile, turning to the company, declared he had never before met with such rudeness, no one had ever dared to address him in that manner before. Reid, who was a courageous fellow, and must be admired for his pluck, was fortunate in getting off. If he had made the same speech to a Stuart, he would have lost his head. It is a curious fact that after the Protector left Davidson's house the side wall fell down, and Davidson, who had a vein of humour, wished it had fallen a quarter of an hour earlier, even though he had disappeared in the ruins. Davidson was a lawyer, procurator fiscal, and a rich man. He was also a scholar, and translated some of the town's Charters. Some copies written with his own hand, and with gilded capitals or initials, are amongst the papers of the Incorporated Trades.

Cromwell in his official report regarding Perth said:—

Wherefore, leaving with Major Harrison about 3,000 horse and dragoons, we marched to St Johnstoun, and lying one day before it, we had it surrendered to us, during which time we had some intelligence of the enemy marching southward, but doubting it might be true, we left a garrison in St Johnstoun, and sent General Monk with 5,000 men to Stirling to redeem that place, and by it to put your affairs into a good position in Scotland.

Cromwell found in St Johnstoun four pieces of ordnance, with abundance of arms, ammunition and provisions, and left in it a garrison of one regiment of horse, another of foot and four troops of dragoons. The next trouble the citizens had to face was the maintenance of Cromwell's troops. The Magistrates ordered the Treasurer to provide meat and drink for 200 men of Cromwell's army. About this time took place the battle of Worcester, fought by the Scots under Charles against Cromwell. The Scots were totally defeated, and Charles made his escape to France. The government of Cromwell was by no means agreeable to the community of Perth. The support of the military became intolerable, and a petition from the inhabitants was eventually presented to him. Disapproval was expressed at the demolition of houses and other buildings by the army, on which Cromwell intimated that indemnity would be granted. Proclamation was made that those who declared their adherence to the Protector's Government by a certain date would be pardoned, and that a fine would be imposed on every parish and presbytery if they failed to report those who did not, as these would be held as in a state of rebellion, and have their property confiscated. The petition presented by the inhabitants said:—

We have long laboured in the furnace of unnatural contests and divisions, and have become bettered neither towards God nor our neighbour, and therefore the Lord has written in bloody characters our guilt and punishment so that he that runneth may read. But whilst our miseries increased, so did our curses, the want of love and charity to sympathise with our suffering brethren in their disgrace; and distress hath like a contagious plague overpowered this nation, in which we desire to vindicate God's glory and justice by a humble confession. Therefore we humbly pray that your Highness would be graciously pleased to enlarge the favours of free pardon and protection, without fine or compensation, when we humbly conceive them to be persons of as much civility and peaceable disposition as any in the land: which undoubtedly will prove the most effectual means of re-engaging our affections and theirs in a joyful return of thankfulness and submissive obedience to the Commonwealth under your Highness's Government

At this very crisis the matter of the Scottish National Records seems to have occupied the attention of the Protector. After the surrender of Stirling Castle at this date, Cromwell despatched to the Tower of London the whole of these Records. According to the Acts of the Scottish Parliament, they amounted to 1,600 registers and other papers. These were distinct from 1,600 volumes of private registers which had already been returned to Edinburgh Castle. Considerable discussion took place in the English Parliament about the custody of these important papers, and additional accommodation was ordered to be fitted up at the Tower for their reception, and to be under the jurisdiction of the Master of the Rolls. Six years after this these Records were ordered to be returned to Scotland, and on 18th September, 1657, the English Parliamentary Records contain the following entry: "That the Commissioners of the Admiralty are authorised and required to appoint a suitable vessel to receive and carry into Scotland the Books and Records ordered to be sent there from the Tower of London." These Books and Records were afterwards shipped from Gravesend in a vessel that unfortunately was totally lost in a violent storm; and although the papers were in whole or in part thrown into another vessel, this second vessel, bound for Burntisland, also shared the same fate, and was wrecked with its whole cargo. And so these Records carried away by Cromwell were irretrievably lost, although we are informed that several parcels of them were recovered, particularly those of Parliament and of the Secret Council. This was a national calamity for the Scottish nation that was beyond all hope of redemption. At the meeting of the Scottish Parliament held at Edinburgh nth May, 1661, it is recorded in connection with this matter that Parliament having discussed the conduct of Major Fletcher, captain of the Eagle, as concerning these hogsheads and cases wherein the public records of the kingdom were, and which were put into the vessel to be carried to Scotland, finds by the depositions of witnesses who were in the ship that if a great part of the hogsheads had not either been thrown overboard or put into another vessel the ship, in all probability from the violence of the storm, had immediately perished. Major Fletcher, therefore, had put above four score cases full of the Registers into another vessel bound for Burntisland, called the Elizabeth, of which John Menzies was master, and which ship has since perished with these eighty-five cases of Records on board. Major Fletcher was exonerated by Parliament, having done his utmost to preserve the Registers. It was found by the trial and deposition of witnesses that John Young, who was the officer in attendance on these Registers, did not consent to the taking of them out of the one ship and putting them into another, and he was also exonerated and declared free of any responsibility.

Cromwell erected his citadel at Perth, on the east side of the South Inch, a little below Greyfriars burying-ground. This vast building was a square, each side being 266 feet in length. The north wall ran parellel to Greyfriars burying-ground, and extended from the river to the site of Marshall Place. There was a bastion at each corner. It was surrounded with strong earthen ramparts and a deep moat filled with water. The walls of the Greyfriars, said to have been six or seven quarters high, were demolished, and between 200 and 300 tombstones carried away to be used as building material for the citadel Opposite to it they built a pier for loading and unloading of vessels. It is further recorded that no less than 140 houses were pulled down, also the hospital, the Grammar School, the stone pillars and abutments of the bridge, besides kilns and cobbles—all for building material The surface of the two Inches was carried off to help to build the ramparts. The families rendered homeless had to be provided for by the town. The inhabitants were under military control, and could not help themselves.

In 1654 one of Colonel Daniell's men was hanged at Perth, having been caught on his way to Atholl, and some days afterwards another was hanged, having also been on his way to Atholl Evidently during that period martial law prevailed.

The erection of the citadel which included stabling for 200 horses, was attended with great trouble, and was a source of much dissatisfaction to the inhabitants. As an illustration of this, we have the following letter of Colonel Daniell, Governor of Perth, to the Lord Provost, of date 3rd November, 1657:—

I am informed that there is a suit depending between William Wallace of Edinburgh, and Alexander Jackson, baker, Perth, concerning the malt barns, kiln and coble called the Temple land, being part of the suburbs of Perth. At the request of Jackson, I hereby certify the Lords Commissioners at Edinburgh, that the said malt barns, etc., were pulled down by order of the Lord Protector for the safety of the garrison of St. Johnstoun in 1651; when the same building with the rest of the suburbs at the west end of St Johnstoun were pulled down, the greatest part of the stones were made use of for the citadel

We seem to have nothing recorded regarding the citadel during the ten years it stood on the South Inch. The Commonwealth lasted till Cromwell's death in 1658. His death at such a time was a great calamity, for he was a man of excellent administrative powers, and he was soon to be succeeded by probably the weakest man who ever sat on the throne. He was interred in Westminster Abbey, but a brutal and disgusting event happened on 30th January, 1661, when his tomb was broken open, his body exhumed, hanged at Tyburn, and thrown into a hole. This was by the authority of Charles II. and his English clergy, and shows to what extent religious fanaticism was carried in these days, not to speak of the relentless cruelty which characterised the later Stuarts as regards those who opposed them. The course of events brought Charles II. back to England in 1660, and the Town Council of Perth, pretending to be pleased with the return of this reckless youth to the throne, made him a gift of Gowrie House and grounds. In 1661, Charles granted a Charter under the Great Seal in favour of the Council of the citadel, with all its arms and ammunition, in consideration of their faithful services to him and his progenitors, and for losses sustained by the demolition of property for its erection. Sir George Kinnaird of Rossie (ancestor of Lord Kinnaird) was instructed, with consent of the Magistrates, to take it down. A share of the stones was to be given to Mercer of Aldie for his services to the town, and to encourage him to build. High prices were obtained at the sale, and after the sale of the guns and cannon the burgh treasurer bought the lot for 4,000 merks and resold it in retail Notwithstanding the Charter of Charles gifting the citadel to the town, it turned out that his Majesty's exchequer could not afford the gift, and he compelled the town to pay the sum of 366 16s. 4d. as its nominal value. After all the privations the town had come through on Cromwell's account, this exaction was ill advised, and it will be of importance to see how it was brought about The Town Council, on 14th January, 1662, sent a petition to the Exchequer on the subject It was brief and mysterious:—

The Provost, bailies and Council of the burgh of Perth, to the Commissioners of Exchequer, shewing: That the most part of the stones wherewith the citadel was built were the stones of the eleven great arches, pillars and supports of our demolished bridge: above a third part of the burgh, and of the stones of the sepulchres and wall of our burial-place (Greyfriars) and of the Spey tower, hospital, and Grammar School And that his Majesty, in consideration of the losses of the burgh and great sufferings thereof, has been pleased to give, grant and dispone the citadel to the burgh of Perth .... as the said gift bears. The petitioners desire their losses and sufferings to be seriously considered, and hope that the Lords may put such an easy composition upon our signature of the said citadel as they think fit, and find the condition of the burgh to merit

Edinburgh, 16th January, 1662.

The Lords ordain the composition already put upon the signatures above mentioned to be paid, with certification that if not satisfied presently, the Lords will make it greater.

Bellenden, J.P.D.

After this arbitrary letter of Bellenden, the Magistrates on 18th December, 1663, got discharge:—

James Stansfield, burgess in Edinburgh, granting him to have received from Patrick Threipland, merchant in Perth, on behalf of Andrew Butter, Provost, William Jackson, Alexander Rankin, William Sharp and Patrick Bell, bailies, in name of the Council and community of Perth, the sum of 366 16s. 4d. sterling, as the proportion which his Majesty's letter of 4th June appointed the grantee of Perth citadel to pay for the satisfaction of the English workmen concerned in the building of Leith citadel. The Magistrates having now paid the money to James Stansfield, he having power from the workmen and having given caution to the Duke of Albemarle to make the money forthcoming, duly exonerates the Magistrates of Perth of said sum and also of all claim the workmen may pretend to have in the said citadel.

The Scottish Parliament which met in 1662 rescinded the Acts passed in 1633 in favour of Presbyterianism; passed an Act for the establishment of Episcopacy, and declared the National Covenant and Solemn League and Covenant to be unlawful, null and void. The Town Council of Perth at Michaelmas made the following declaration:—

We, the Provost, Magistrates, etc, sincerely affirm and declare that we judge it unlawful in subjects, on pretence of Reformation or any other pretence, to enter into leagues and covenants, or to take up arms against the King; and that all these gatherings, convocations, and erecting and keeping Council Tables that were used at the beginning for the carrying on of the late troubles were unlawful and seditious ; and particularly that those oaths whereof the one was called the National Covenant, as it was sworn and explained in 1638 and thereafter, and the other entitled a Solemn League and Covenant, were and are in themselves unlawful oaths, and were taken by and imposed upon the subjects of this kingdom against the fundamental laws and liberties of the same; and that there lieth no obligation on us or any subject from the said oaths to attempt any change of Government either in Church or State as now established by the laws of the kingdom.

This is an announcement that, in the opinion of the Magistrates, was demanded by the circumstances of the times. It was a great responsibility to be a magistrate in those days, and it was impossible to concur with the policy of the Protector and approve of that of Charles II. Charles personally set little store by churches, but the occupation of the Throne of England meant that he should support Episcopacy, which he did. He had no right to expect the people of Scotland to follow, and he was afterwards made to realise this. Among the sufferers for nonconformity in Perth in these times (for being Presbyterians, in fact) were—Lord Ruthven, fined in 4,600 Scots; Oliphant of Gask, 6,000; Blair of Kinfauns, 4,600; James Duncan, 2,000 merks, for being present at a conventicle at Bridge of Earn; Patrick Hay of Leys, 1,000 merks, for being present at a conventicle at Glendoick; Andrew Drummond of Megginch, 500, because his wife was present at a conventicle, and his son John, a merchant in Perth, was imprisoned till his father should pay the fine; Alexander Christie and Thomas Keltie, merchants in Perth, were fined in 600 merks each for attending conventicles, and were also put in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, and many other burgesses in Perth suffered the like punishment In 1684 the Kirk-Session of Perth summoned a large number of persons before them for the crime of attending conventicles.

In these times the Oliphants of Gask were much identified with the life of Perth, and in the civil wars and tumults that prevailed they were not slow to take their part, several of them, indeed, coming to the front as leaders. In 1665 Laurence Oliphant was a prisoner of war, and on 15th September, Lord Rothes, writing from Holyrood to the Provost, said: "On sight hereof, you are to set at liberty Laurence Oliphant of Gask, in respect that he has paid the first moiety of his fine, and this shall be your warrant"

The latter half of the seventeenth century was full of trouble so far as Perth is concerned, and it was not surprising that the Magistrates should be reminded of their oath of allegiance at municipal elections. The Lords of the Privy Council, on 13th September, 1678, ordained that they shall have no right to their office until they have subscribed the same; that every person who shall enter on office before doing so, is to be punished as a usurper of the King's authority and his place be given to another. The Lords, in terms of Acts of Parliament, required the Magistrates and Council of Perth at their next election publicly to take the oath of allegiance and sign the Declaration appointed to be taken of them and of all persons in public trust The Magistrates were to return to the Clerks of Council betwixt and the second Thursday of November such Declaration duly signed, with the names of any who delay or refuse to sign the same, certifying if they fail to do so they shall be proceeded against as contraveners of the said Acts of Parliament and punished accordingly. Great dissatisfaction continued to exist respecting the compulsory imposition of Episcopacy on the people. The King and his Privy Council had no respect for men's consciences, and freedom of opinion was unknown. This persecution increased conventicles. Presbyterian ministers who had been driven from their parishes and whose pulpits were supplied with Episcopal curates were received at these meetings. The laird of Balhousie was severely fined for attending a meeting at Glencarse. One of the ministers who lived sometime in Perth and conducted conventicles was Alexander Moncrieff, the rejected minister of Scoonie, and grandfather of Alexander Moncrieff, first minister of the Secession Church, Abernethy. Moncrieff was ordered by the Privy Council to be seized as a noted keeper of conventicles at Perth, but he got notice of this and escaped.

The suppression of conventicles was undoubtedly carried out in a very oppressive manner by the local authorities. Mr. James Mercer, tutor to the laird of Megginch, was prohibited from leaving Perth while the young laird and two merchants were taken prisoners in Edinburgh. The two merchants were fined 500 merks Scotch each. But more extraordinary still, George Hay of Balhousie was brought before Lord Lauderdale for having a Presbyterian minister whom he kept as his chaplain. He was fined in 27,000 merks. It was said that this money was given to the Earl of Atholl to pay the expenses incurred by him in entertaining Lauderdale. The Marquis of Tullibardine was one of the King's Secretaries of State. On 29th March, 1680, the Provost and Dean of Guild were desired by the inhabitants to communicate with him, so as to induce him to put a stop if possible to these proceedings; and failing his doing so, the Provost was to appeal to the Edinburgh authorities. Tullibardine, however, agreed to suspend proceedings for three months, and in the meantime he and the Magistrates were to arrange to debate the matter before the Lords of Session. From this period to the Revolution of 1688 was a time of great distress in Scotland, on account of the persistent attempts to force a religion on the people that they did not want, and to wholesale persecution and slaughter of Covenanters or Presbyterians for no other reason than that they would not surrender their opinions. Many of the prosecutions and executions were carried out by Lauderdale, who made himself the King's lieutenant in this discreditable business.

An election account of the period incurred by Sir Patrick Threipland of Fingask, as a curiosity of the time, will be read with interest by posterity:—

Account owing by the burgh of Perth to Sir Patrick Murray Threipland of Fingask, Provost

In the matter of the teinds the Magistrates, as patrons of St John's Church, were sometimes greatly troubled and put to considerable expense. In 1680 letters of horning to compel payment were issued against Robert Lundy, Provost of Perth, and the other Magistrates by John, Earl of Tweeddale. The charge included 46s. of feu duty of the Great College Yard, 46s. for Lord Ruthven's House, and 120 Scots teind or tack duty for the teinds of Perth. The Magistrates were summoned before the Lords of Council and Session, and in their defence stated that they were wrongously and unwarrantably charged for this matter as they had hitherto paid it to the hospital, and they desired their lordships to declare who was to get the duty in future. They further said, "We being patrons of the Church of Perth have a right to the teinds within the parish, and to the teind tack duties of the same as our gift of patronage granted to us by James VI. and Queen Anne, and our charter of confirmation." The Magistrates offered to find caution for the amount, pending their lordship's summary, the pursuer "to appear before them, bringing with him the letters of horning, with the ground and warrants of the claim thereof to be shown and considered, and to hear and see the same suspended, and in the meantime to suspend the action pro forma according to justice." It does not appear what was the result of this action. In 1683 the Magistrates were nominated and appointed by the Privy Council, and every suspected person was disqualified. Several were cited before the Kirk-Session for attending conventicles, and handed over to the civil magistrate for punishment

In 1685 Charles II., under whom all these vexatious proceedings took place, died, and his brother, James VII., succeeded him. Under James persecutions became more numerous and severe. To be found reading the Bible or with a Bible in one's possession, going to, or coming from church, was punished with death. The Town Council of Perth were prohibited from meeting for the election of Magistrates until his Majesty's pleasure should be known. The Earl of Atholl was appointed to attend in the Council House when the Magistrates and Council took the test No books were allowed to be printed without the consent of the Chancellor, the Earl of Perth, and articles could not be inserted in newspapers without the permission of the bishop or a member of the Privy Council. Various persons were imprisoned for publishing books denouncing Popery, while Catholics were allowed to circulate books indiscriminately.

In the Record office at Perth there is a document of this period of considerable importance (specially transcribed for this work). It is the oath of allegiance to James VII., sworn and signed by the Commissioners of Supply for Perthshire; and from its peculiar terms is an interesting and historical paper, and of much value as a local relic. Such an elaborate oath would not be entertained in our day:—

The Oath of Allegiance, Supremacy, Declaration and Test signed by the Commissioners of Supply of Perthshire, to James the Seventh, 1686.

We, the noblemen and gentlemen, Commissioners of Supply for the shire of Perth, appointed by the twelfth Act of his Majesty's first parliament, do for testifying our lawful obedience to our most gracious sovereign, James the Seventh, affirm, testify and declare that we acknowledge our said sovereign as the only supreme governor of this kingdom, over all persons and in all causes, and that no foreign prince, power, state or person, civil or ecclesiastical, hath any jurisdiction, power, or superiority over the same ; and therefore utterly renounce and forsake all foreign power and jurisdiction, and shall to our utmost power defend, assist and maintain his Majesty's jurisdiction, as we shall answer to God. (Follows the acknowledgment of his Majesty's prerogative.)

Forasmuch as the Estates of Parliament, by their several Acts of the nth and 25th January last, have in recognition of his Majesty's just right declared that it is an inherent privilege of the Crown, and an undoubted part of the Royal prerogative of the kings of this kingdom to have the sole choice and appointment of the officers of estate, Privy Councillors and Lords of Session, that the power of calling, holding and dissolving of parliaments and all conventions, and meetings of the Estates, doth solely rest with the King, and that as no parliament can be lawfully kept without his special warrant and presence, so no acts nor statutes passed in any parliament can be binding, or have the authority and force of laws, without the special approbation of his Majesty or his Commissioner; that the power of arms, making of peace and war, and making of treaties and leagues with foreign princes or states, or at home by the subjects among themselves, doth properly rest with the King, his heirs and successors, and is their undoubted right, and that it is high treason for the subjects of this kingdom to rise or continue in arms, to maintain any forts or garrisons, to make peace or war, or to make any treaties or leagues with foreigners or among themselves, without his Majesty's authority; that it is unlawful for subjects to convene or assemble themselves for holding of Councils, conventions and assemblies, to treat, consult and determine in any matters of State, civil and ecclesiastic, or to make leagues or bonds, upon whatsoever colour or pretence, without his Majesty's special consent and approbation; that the League and Covenant and all treaties following thereupon, and acts or deeds that do or may relate thereto are not obligatory, nor do they infer any obligation upon this kingdom or the subjects thereof, to meddle or interpose by arms, or any seditious way in anything concerning the religion and government of the churches in England and Ireland, or in what may concern the administration of his Majesty's Government; and that none of his Majesty's subjects should presume upon any pretext whatever to require the renewing or swearing of the said League and Covenant, or of any other covenants or public oaths concerning the government of the Church or Kingdom; and that none offer to renew or swear the same without his Majesty's warrant and approbation. We conform to the Acts of Parliament aforesaid, and declare that we acknowledge His Majesty's royal prerogative, right, and power in all particulars, and in the manner aforementioned ; and we heartily give our consent thereto, by these presents, subscribed by us. (Follows the declaration appointed to be signed, also signatures.)

The reign of James VII. lasted four years, when on 4th April, 1689, the Convention Parliament or Estates of Parliament declared he had forfeited his right to the Crown (by his despotic conduct), and thereupon very properly deposed him. On the arrival of the Prince of Orange some months before this, the Covenanters flocked to his standard. This alarmed the Catholic supporters of James. The Chancellor fled, but Atholl turned round and joined King William. The Duke of Hamilton became the head of the Presbyterians, but Graham of Claverhouse remained firm to the King. The citizens of Perth gave in their adhesion to the new government, and at the Town Council meeting of February 18, 1689, the following proclamation of the Prince of Orange was recorded. It would be difficult to express in words the gratification which was felt throughout Scotland, and particularly at Perth, on the arrival of this distinguished stranger, who was destined to introduce a new economy, and to afford the people an amount of civil and religious liberty which was denied them by the despotic rule of James VI. and his successors on the throne:—

Whereas the Lords and gentlemen of the Kingdom of Scotland met at Whitehall at our desire to advise what is to be done for securing the Protestant religion and restoring the laws and liberties of that kingdom. According to our declarations we have, for the attaining of these ends, called a meeting of the Estates to be held at Edinburgh in March next Being desirous to do everything that may tend to the public good and happiness of that kingdom, we have fixed the said meeting for the 14th day of March. We do therefore require you on the receipt of this letter to make intimation of the same on the first mercat day at the Cross of the royal Burgh of Perth in the usual manner. And to appoint a day, at least five days after the said intimation, for the whole burgesses to meet and choose their commissioners for the meeting of the Estates on 14th March. A copy of this letter and of your intimation containing date of election to be affixed on the Mercat Cross: the burgesses and commissioners being Protestants without any other exception or limitation. Given at St James's, 5th February, 1689.

Sic Subscribitur

William of Orange.

To the Town Clerk of Perth:

And for giving all due obedience to the foresaid letter and commission intimation is hereby given to the burgesses of Perth being Protestants that the day of election of Commissioners is appointed for Thursday, the last day of July, and that they timeously convene the said day so that they may enter on the election by 9 a.m. and proceed conform to his Highness the Prince of Orange's letter. Direct to me on all points whereby publicly intimating the same the 22nd February, 1689, as being the first mercat day after receipt hereof, so that none may pretend ignorance.

Sic Subscribitur

Laurence Oliphant.

Some time after the Town Council of Perth signed the following oath of allegiance to King William and Queen Mary, under date 18th August, 1690 :—

Curia burgi de Perth tenta intra dictum burgum decimo octavo die mensis Augusti Anno Domini, millesimo sexcentessimo nonagesimo per prepositum et ballivos ejusdem burgi.

Curia legitime affirmata.

The Magistrates and Town Council of Perth with their Clerk, Clerk Depute, and Procurator Fiscal, in obedience to the proclamation of their Majesties' Privy Council, ordaining all persons in public trust to sign the certificate and assurance underwritten to their Majesties, of the date the 4th August instant, this has accordingly been done as underwritten, whereof the tenor follows, 'We, the provost, magistrates, and council of the burgh of Perth, do in the sincerity of heart assert, acknowledge and declare their Majesties, King William and Queen Marie, as the only lawful, undoubted sovereigns, King and Queen of Scotland, as well de jure as de facto, and in the exercise of the government And therefore we sincerely and faithfully promise and engage that we will with heart and hand, life and goods, maintain and defend their Majesties' title and government against the ' late King James, his adherents, and all other enemies, who either by open or secret attempts shall disturb or disquiet their Majesties in the exercise thereof.'

[Here follow the signatures of the Magistrates, Deacons and Council, who sign in presence of the Earl of Argyle.]


This building stretched across the High Street where the staircase of the new Council Chambers now stands. For a public edifice it was of plain construction. It formed a barrier towards the river on the side of the East Bridge port, having two archways which could be shut up and defended in times of danger. Its removal opened up that part of the town to further improvement On 18th June, 1694, the magistrates were authorised to agree with wrights, masons, and others respecting a new Council House on the north shore, and to do the same for 7,000 merks, On 21st September following, a contract was entered into with William Milne, wright at Dupplin, on these terms. A protest was taken against the work by Provost Oliphant and his supporters; and the Deacon of the Wrights also protested against William Milne being employed before he was entered a freeman. This retarded the work till the Magistrates got a decreet from the Privy Council of date 25th March, 1695. One of their lordships' reasons for granting the request was the Council having to meet in the session-house of the Kirk. Towards the end of 1696 the building was completed, and a characteristic entry appears in the record. The Council ordered a large table and carpet for the same, and if the carpet could not be procured in Edinburgh, to send to London for it; also three dozen good rash-bottomed leather chairs. They also ordered a landscape to be painted above the chimney-piece. All this was praiseworthy, and indicates improvement in the education and personnel of the Council. The old staircase, known as the "braid stair," was removed, and a circular tower or staircase erected. These buildings have recently been replaced by the present handsome and commodious buildings, which will stand for generations to come.

A scheme of great importance was discussed from August, 1697, to May, 1698, by the Provost and Magistrates of Perth and the University court of St Andrews, with the approval of the Earl of Tulli-bardine, principal Secretary of State for Scotland. This was no less a proposal than the transference of St. Andrews University to Perth, the erection at Perth of university buildings, and the transference of the staff. The proposal arose from the languishing condition of St. Andrews and from its being in a very remote and isolated position, and not a place for attracting students. The reasons for the proposal were ably set forth in the letter of Sir Patrick Hume to the Earl of Tullibardine:—

Edinburgh, 3rd September, 1697.—This day I met the Lord Advocate concerning the matter of the university, and we considered the foundations of the several colleges and are both of opinion that there is nothing in them nor in law to hinder, but that if the King thinks fit a university may be transferred from St Andrews, and settled in another place where it may be more convenient for the interest of the nation, and that the King may do it by Charter under the Great Seal, but the thing being new and of great weight, we apprehend your lordship would not solely take the responsibility of advising the King, nor would the King incline to do it without legal advice. What we have advised is that there should be reasons drawn showing that in law the university may be transferred to another place, and that it is most fit and convenient, and for the interest of the nation that it should be settled in Perth. These reasons are that St Andrews is a remote point of land lying at an outside, and living there is dearer than at other places. On these and other grounds the university had of late years considerably decayed. Whereas the town of Perth is very near the centre of the kingdom, and living is as cheap there as any where else, and being inland people have greater conveniences of sending their children there than to a remote place like St Andrews. Perth being near to the Highlands, gentlemen there will have greater facilities for sending their children, and it may tend much to the civilising of the country that the university is settled in Perth. It is important that the universities should be situated at an equal distance from each other. As Edinburgh is at an equal distance from Glasgow, so the University of St Andrews should be at an equal distance from Edinburgh. One of the reasons why it is so decayed is because it is too near Edinburgh, whereas if settled at Perth it would be at an equal distance from Edinburgh, and Aberdeen would be at an equal distance from Perth. These reasons will be more fully sent to your Lordship afterwards, and they may be given in with a petition to the King in which his Majesty may write to the Council that they may take the advice of the officers of State, and such lawyers as the King shall name, how far legally the College may be translated to another place, and whether it be not convenient, and for the interest of the Realm that it be settled at Perth. If the King is advised in the affirmative, he may give a Charter under the Great Seal which may be confirmed by Parliament

The Earl of Tullibardine to the Provost of Perth,
16, 1698.

I wonder that the town of Perth and the University of St Andrews have not yet come to a settlement as to the removal of the University to Perth, which would prove so great an advantage to the town. I hope the town will go as far as they can to accommodate them—the King grant the order for removal, which order I will endeavour to procure, after you have acquainted me that all is settled.—I am, etc.,


Extract Minute of Town Council, February 29, 1698.

The Council having heard the letter of Lord Tullibardine, signifying that he wondered that the University and the town of Perth had not yet come to a settlement, which was considered by them together with a letter from the masters of the University, dated 12th January last In compliance with that letter they appoint Bailies Davidson, Ramsay, and the Convener to meet with the masters of the University at Newburgh on Tuesday to discuss the transference of the said University. At the Newburgh meeting the Commissioners stated that they had a commission from their constituents to assure the masters of the University that they shall make them heartily welcome; and that for their encouragement they shall make that great lodging whereof they are heritable custodiers situate next the Speygate Port to be for the university's service, with the yards and pertinents thereof, and likewise they shall have the sum of 20,000 merks in readiness for defraying the expense of the rest of the buildings of the said university, which, together with the lodging, may be estimated worth 80,000 merks. Yet they are sensible that this will be found insufficient for building of three several colleges as they are at present at St Andrews. Therefore, and for the better expediting of the work, they desire to be informed by the masters of the university how many chambers and rooms will be required for accommodating each of the three colleges. On being informed of this, they will take advice what sum it will require over and above what they propose, that they may address the King's Majesty for obtaining a public grant for expediting so good and so public a work. Second.— That the offer that was made by the university of the vacant seats of the new college may be forthcoming according to the submission at Huntingtower. Third.—That in case the transference shall take effect, and the university be accommodated in Perth, the whole buildings, yards, and others belonging to the university shall be given to the town of Perth to recompense them for their expense in this matter.

The retirement from office of Lord Tullibardine at the time when the correspondence drops, seems to have been the only cause why the matter was not carried out and why there is not at present a university in Perth rather than at St Andrews. It is singular that a proposition of so great importance to Perth should have been allowed to drop in so mysterious a manner without cause assigned. In many respects this was unfortunate, for no more central place could have been found than Perth. The carrying out of the scheme would have had a material effect on the city and its inhabitants, and on its commercial and general prosperity. The attitude of the Town Council was very creditable. The correspondence does them much honour, and manifests a spirit of liberality and appreciation that was equal to the great scheme they had in hand, and this at a time when a narrower policy might have been expected to prevail.

The Magistrates and Town Council resolved, in 1701, to present the following loyal address to King William. The arrival of William created immense excitement:—

We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, having the honour at this time to represent your Majesty's royal burgh of Perth, that for the antiquity thereof, and other privileges, it has been honoured by your loyal ancestors, is ranked the second burgh of this your ancient kingdom. Having under our consideration that this burgh has never been behind others in witnessing their zeal for religion and loyalty, but rather before them, as is evident from that famous instance of defending the Protestant religion, laws, and liberties against the French in the reign of Queen Mary, in which action they exhibited such wonderful courage and valour that it is remembered to their credit to this day.

We cannot then allow ourselves to degenerate so far from the noble steps of our ancestors as to neglect this opportunity of joining with others of your Majesty's dutiful subjects in witnessing the deep sense we have of the great deliverance from Popery [and slavery] whereof the King of kings hath made your Majesty the royal and glorious instrument; of the great blessings of the free exercise of our religion, laws and liberties which we enjoy under your Majesty's happy and auspicious reign ; and feeling the unparalleled injustice of the French King in causing to be proclaimed the pretended Prince of Wales, King of this and your Majesty's other dominions contrary to all right and faith. Wherefore in just indignation at this proceeding, we humbly crave leave to assure your Majesty that we will constantly adhere to you as our only rightful and undoubted sovereign, and to the utmost of our power defend your royal person and support your government against the pretended Prince of Wales, and all others your Majesty's enemies without exception. Signed at Perth the 8th day of December 1701, by your Majesty's most faithful, most loyal and most dutiful subjects and servants. (Here follow the signatures.)

The dismissal of Robert Graham from the Town Clerkship in 1716 was followed by considerable discussion as to who was to be his successor. The Council eventually appointed James Richardson, and entered the following deliverance on the Record:—

Be it known to all men by these presents; we, the Provost, Bailies, Dean of Guild, Treasurer, Council, and Deacons of Crafts of the burgh of Perth subscribing: Forasmuch as the principal clerkship of the burgh is now vacant, and become in our hands and at our gift and disposal, through the dismissal of Robert Graham, lately Town Clerk; and in being satisfied with the qualifications of James Richardson, Sheriff Clerk Depute of Perth, and having confidence in him that he will faithfully exercise and discharge the said office, therefore we have given and granted, and by these presents we, for ourselves and successors in office, give and grant to James Richardson the office of Town Clerk and all its emoluments, fees, and casualties thereof during his lifetime, he not committing a crime worthy of deprivation; with power to him to use and exercise the said office as fully and truly in all respects as any other principal clerk of the town used to do. Without prejudice, nevertheless, to George Miller, Clerk Depute of one fifth part of the fees and emoluments of said office during his serving as Clerk Depute as the same are provided to him by an Act of the Town Council dated 24th day of September last. Consenting for more security to the registration hereof in the books of Council and Session or others competent therein to remain for conservation. Constitute for that effect Charles Tawse, notary in Perth. . . . our procurator. In witness whereof, these presents written by the said George Miller are subscribed at Perth the 31st December, 1716, before Patrick Reoch, writer in Perth, and the said George Miller. (Here follow the signatures of the Council.)

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