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Perth, the Ancient Capital of Scotland
Chapter XX

The Ancient Capital of Scotland and the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 were very closely allied: in short, Perth and Perthshire may be said to have been the seat of the movement, which culminated in the battle of Sheriffmuir. It is fair to the Jacobites to say that they were inefficiently officered, were in reality destitute of capable officers, and came to grief from two outstanding causes—the hopeless weakness of the Chevalier, and the incapability of the Earl of Mar, who never should have been in the responsible position which he held.

On the death of Queen Anne, George I. was proclaimed King, and Parliament offered a premium for the capture of the Pretender (the Chevalier de St George, eldest son of James VII.). The possession of Perth was regarded as of great importance, not only from its central situation, but because it was the Ancient Capital. Public opinion was much divided between George and the Chevalier. The Magistrates and Council declared for King George, took up arms, and made an appeal for support It is said 400 men came from Atholl, 400 militia from Fife, 250 men from Lord Strathmore, and 4,000 from Lord Huntly, while the Earl Marischal sent 80 horse. These were commanded by the Earl of Argyll The Earl of Mar, who commanded the Jacobites, would appear to have marched from Braemar to Perth, via Dunkeld, and to have proclaimed the Chevalier along the route, specially at Moulinarn, near Pitlochry, where he was joined by 500 men under the Marquis of Tullibardine. Colonel John Hay of Cromlix, brother of Lord Kinnoull, and a strong Jacobite, commanded a detachment of 200 horse. He arrived at Perth on 16th September, entered the town without opposition, and proclaimed the Chevalier at the Mercat Cross as the lawful King of the Realm. For his courageous conduct he was appointed governor of Perth, pro tempore, with instructions to defend the town to the last extremity, and to expel those who refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Chevalier. Colonel Hay was met by a flat refusal on the part of the Magistrates to have anything to do with the interests of the Chevalier, and they at once fled. With the promptitude of a military officer Colonel Hay took advice, and on 21st September, five days after his arrival, he issued the following proclamation:—

We, Colonel John Hay of Cromlix, Governor of the town of Perth, having warrant and commission from John, Earl of Mar, Commander-in-Chief of his Majesty's forces in Scotland. Forasmuch as the Provost and Magistrates of Perth have refused and declined to act in their office of Magistrates and partly deserted the town: therefore and to the effect that his Majesty's service may not be retarded, nor the burgh of Perth left destitute of Magistrates; I by these presents nominate and appoint Patrick Davidson, late provost of Perth; Patrick Hay, lawful son to the deceased Patrick Hay, late provost there; James Smythe, chirurgeon apothecary in Perth, and Nathaniel Fyfe and Mark Wood, merchants there, as commissioners to supply the place of Magistrates in Perth and overseers and managers of the common good thereof, until Magistrates and other officers be duly and regularly chosen. With full power to the same commissioners to act and do everything relating to his Majesty's interest and the common good of the burgh as fully and freely in all respects as any provost and magistrates of the same ever could do, or that I may do myself; hereby requiring and commanding the whole burgesses and inhabitants to give all due respect, deference and obedience to the said commissioners, their orders and commands; certifying those who do the contrary that they shall be proceeded against as disobedient to his Majesty's authority. Given under my hand and seal at Perth the 21st day of September, 1715.

John Hay.

The same day Colonel Hay, who was badly in want of horses, wrote to Colonel Oliphant:—

By virtue of a commission from John, Earl of Mar, commander of his Majesty's forces in Scotland, these are ordering and empowering you forthwith to repair to the House of Rossie Oliphant in the Ochils and there seize what horses and arms, etc., you should find fit for his Majesty's service, and bring them to Perth to be employed that way. And this shall be your warrant Mar on his journey to Perth received great additions to his followers, and by this means had a force of 5,000 when he arrived at Perth on 22nd September. On the same day the Honourable James Murray, son of Lord Stormont, arrived at Perth with letters from the Chevalier to the Earl of Mar assuring him of support and of the Chevalier's presence immediately. An incident occurred in the midst of these movements. The Earl of Sutherland, who opposed the Jacobites, had a vessel from Leith with arms and ammunition from Edinburgh Castle lying at Burntisland. Mar, hearing of that, at once despatched his aide de camp from Perth with 400 horse and 400 foot, each trooper having a foot soldier mounted behind him. These men entered Burntisland at midnight unperceived, seized the vessel, also a smaller one, and removed their cargoes to Perth. This was of importance to Mar, as it increased his complete stand of arms to 420; but he was in great straits for money, and he issued orders for the collection of the land tax or cess, a tax which was rated on landward property at 20s. sterling per 100 Scots of rent This money was meanwhile to be borrowed from the burgesses for the use of the army, pledging the public credit for repayment with interest The official order on the burgh signed by Mar ran thus:—

Our sovereign Lord James VIII. having been pleased to entrust me with the direction of his affairs, and the command of his forces in Scotland, and it being absolutely necessary to raise money for their support and maintenance: these are therefore in his name requiring and commanding you the Lord Provost, bailies, and Town Council of Perth to raise by levying six months cess extending to the sum of 250 4s. 6d., sterling money to be provided in the usual manner, and paid in to James Freeman collector, appointed for that end, on Thursday next the 6th day of October betwixt the hours of 10 and 12 in the forenoon, with certification that if you fail therein you will be quartered upon and poinded; and I ordain these presents to be published at the mercat cross of Perth that none may pretend ignorance. Given at the camp at Perth the 4th day of October, 1715.

It is evident that the inhabitants of Perth in 1715 had to face great hardships, the quartering of the soldiers, the siege of the town, the want of provisions, and now this arbitrary ordinance requiring a large sum of money to be paid down within a week. Lord Mar was better at raising money than marshalling soldiers in the battlefield. It seems a curious thing that the author of this ordinance manifested such indecision at Sheriffmuir as to lose a victory which could have been so easily achieved.

Colonel Hay apprehended and imprisoned the leading Royalists immediately after his arrival. These men were doubtless acting under the influence of Provost Austen, who ran away accompanied by the bailies. In proof of this, Provost Austen became security for them; and Colonel Hay, who allowed them out on bail, required Austen to first sign the following Bond of Caution, dated 30th September, 1715. This was essential under the circumstances.

Forasmuch as James Austen, merchant, late bailie in Perth, James Austen, merchant there, his son, John Lindsay, merchant, and John Nimmo, maltman, Archibald Brough, writer, James M'Michael, Robert Melville, and David Taylor, merchant, Henry Brown, glover, and Patrick Smith, flesher, were all on Tuesday last till 20th September incarcerated within the Tolbooth of Perth by order of Colonel John Hay of Cromlix, governor of Perth; and seeing that at my request Colonel Hay was pleased to release the foresaid persons furth of the Tolbooth upon my granting to him the securely underwritten:—Therefore I hereby bind and oblige me as cautioner to the said Colonel John Hay, that the above named persons shall hereafter carry and behave themselves peaceably and discreetly, and not remove themselves furth of this burgh without leave asked and given, and that they and each of them shall return again to prison when desired under a penalty of 10 sterling to be paid by me for each of them in case of failure. The above named persons hereby bind and oblige themselves to free and relieve William Austen of his, as above written, and of all cost and damage he may sustain thereby in time coming, and for the better security we are content, and consent that these presents be registered in the books of council and session. William Austen.

Provost Austen died 4th August, 1723, and is said to have been greatly respected. He was a promoter of trade, especially of the linen manufacture. His father, Thomas Austen, came from England with Cromwell and settled at Perth. After the Restoration his energy and enterprise greatly developed the trade and navigation of the port of Perth.

Both belligerents had the command of a printing press, and for a little each leader endeavoured to counteract the proclamation of the other, assuring the people that his master was the only genuine King and any other was an impostor. The chief occupation of the army was in levying taxes and raising recruits. Mar, who had arranged to form a junction with his own followers south of the Forth, left Perth in charge of General Balfour, broke up his camp and proceeded to Auchterarder. Evidently Captain Hay accompanied him. On the 3rd October, just after

the burgh election, it was resolved by the Jacobites who had command of the town to raise eighty men, to be divided into two companies. The Provost was to command the one and the Dean of Guild the other, and in the meantime to serve on Lord Drummond's company. The men were to be raised by the Guildry and by the Trades, eight men to be selected from each, and those soliciting to be entitled to their freedom. The official order for this was given by the Magistrates at a meeting on 10th October, when the Council resolved that these men be levied for serving his Majesty in two companies, exclusive of sergeants, corporals, and drums. The two companies, whenever occasion offered, to join any battalion that should come to the army from the Royal burghs in Scotland, and in case they be incorporated in any other quarter they would join the Royal burghs and take the precedency. The Provost having declared that he was most willing to go with the army, it was agreed that he command the first company, and by a plurality of votes it was agreed that the Dean of Guild command the second. It was resolved that 20s. sterling be paid to those who accepted the burgess-ship, and 40s. to those who are already burgesses.

Shortly after this a request was made to the Earl of Mar by the Jacobite Magistrates:

From the duty and affection we owe to his Majesty and our zeal for his service, we have levied two companies of foot, as will appear by the returns to be laid before your Lordship. Which two companies have subsisted upon the proper charge of the town these four weeks. And now the expense being too heavy for the burgh, we beg your Lordship to give directions for their being put upon the establishment for pay with the rest of the army.

The Magistrates were quite justified in making this request, as at that period the common good of the burgh was very small and practically unable to meet the demand upon it.

On the 7th November, the Committee of Intelligence of the army issued an order ordaining Alexander Robertson to give a bond to the Magistrates to depart from the town between this and Thursday following, to reside at Dundee under a penalty of 150 sterling, and to remain there until further orders from the Magistrates. George Faichney was also required to give a bond in terms of Bailie Reoch's instructions. Alexander Robertson was Provost of Perth in 1704 and 1705. Evidently he and Faichney were Royalists who caused trouble.

It was not until Sunday, 13th of November, that both parties drew up their lines on Sheriffmuir. Mar's forces advanced in four columns, while Argyle advanced in two columns flanked by dragoons. A height intervened between the antagonist forces, and both met almost unexpectedly on the ridge of the hill, being at some points within pistol shot before they knew of each other's presence. In forming line of battle so hastily, confusion arose on both sides. The Highlanders forced their way in every direction, dispersing the extreme wing of Argyle's troops with great slaughter. Argyle, with his right wing consisting of six squadrons of horse and five battalions of foot, attacked Mar's left wing, dislodged them from their position, and pressed them back to the river Allan. Frequently during their flight did they attempt to rally, but were as often borne down by the weight of the English cavalry. It was in one of these charges that the young Earl of Strathmore was slain while attempting to rally his regiment The Earl of Panmure was wounded and taken prisoner, but was rescued by his brother, Henry Maule.

Argyll pursued Mar's vanquished wing for three miles, and captured their baggage. Argyll had the greatest number of prisoners, but suffered a greater loss in killed than the Jacobites, although to the latter the battle on the whole was unfavourable. Great numbers of the Highlanders left the field without leave, no less than 4,000 being amissing the evening of the battle. A large number of Perthshire lairds were engaged in this unfortunate affair. Mar led his troops back to Perth, where they arrived next morning. The peculiar nature of the ground at Sheriffmuir explains one source of confusion, viz., the two armies being unable to see each other until they had almost met hand to hand. It is said that 800 of the Jacobites fell and 600 of the Royalists. Mar had 10,000 men against Argyll's 4,000, and had he been a capable general he would have scored a victory, although it is said his men were inferior to those on the other side. Argyll was reinforced shortly after by 6,000 Dutch troops. On 22nd December Mar and the Earl Marischal with an escort of thirty went to meet the Chevalier on his arrival at Peterhead from Dunkirk. They were late, and found him at Fetteresso at the Earl Marischal's residence. Early in January, after visiting Aberdeen, he proceeded on his journey, and in due course made his public entry into Dundee with an escort of 300 horse. On his way to Perth he visited Castle Huntly, then went to Sir David Murray Threipland's of Fingask, where he dined and spent the night (7th January, 1716). This must have been a joyful day for that distinguished Jacobite family. Great preparations had been made to receive the royal guest with all due honour.

When the King cam' to Fingask
To see Sir David and his lady,
A cod's head weel made wi' sauce
Took a hunner pund to mak it ready.

On Sunday he arrived at Scone Palace, and the following day made his public entry into Perth, when an address was presented to him by the Jacobites who held the town. He returned to Scone in the evening, when he endeavoured to form a Privy Council. It is recorded that from Scone he issued six proclamations—one for a general thanks-giving for his safe arrival; one requesting the ministers to pray for him in the churches; one establishing the currency of foreign coin; one ordering a meeting of the Convention of Estates; one ordering all fencible men from sixteen to twenty to join his standard; and another fixing 23rd January for his coronation. These proclamations were of little avail, as the Jacobites began to see that their prospects were becoming discouraging. It is also recorded that when the Chevalier came to Perth he began to inquire as to the state of the army, and when he had done so, he felt much disappointed, and thought himself betrayed. He wished to see the little kings and their armies, as he called the Clans. When he found who they were, he was disagreeably surprised. Those who came with him told the Earl of Mar that they were all betrayed. "They were made to believe that the whole Kingdom was in arms and on their side, or that they were masters of the greater part of it, that they wanted no men, only money, arms, and officers, that the English troops were embarrassed, and that Argyll was not to come from Stirling. Whereas, in truth, they were in no manner of position."

The rumour immediately arose that the Chevalier would be obliged to quit the enterprise with dishonour. His words were few; his behaviour and temper always composed. When at Scone he did not seem anxious to be crowned. He never appeared with cheerfulness and vigour to animate his followers. An officer wrote to the press at the time that the Chevalier was mortified to find that his supporters were inferior to those of the Royalists, but he had the bad grace to manifest his own state of feeling in presence of the military, and this disheartened them. This writer goes on to say, "Some of our men ruffled the great men in the open streets of Perth by calling them cowards, and told them they betrayed the Chevalier in place of advising him." One man threatened them if they offered to decline fighting. "Why,what would you have us to do?" said he. "Do?" said the Highlander, "what did you call us to take arms for; was it to run away ? What did the Chevalier come here for; was it to see his people butchered by hangmen, and not strike a blow for their lives? Let us die like men, and not like dogs!" "What can we do?" says the other. "Let us have a council of war," says the soldier, and let all the officers speak their minds freely, the Chevalier being present, and if he agrees not to fight, we most submit" An edict was issued for the destruction, by fire, of Aucbterarder and villages in that district, and between Stirling and Perth, so that they might give no quarter to Argyll's army. This edict was carried into effect by the Jacobites

Things began to be very disorderly and tumultuous according to this same writer, and "we knew not what it might have ended in if some more discreet than the rest bad not interposed, who satisfied the soldiery by telling them there would be a great council in the evening, that the Chevalier desired that all who were his friends would acquiesce in such measures as should be resolved on; that if it was advisable to put it to the test, the Chevalier would take his fate with his faithful friends. If it was otherwise advised he should do as they should direct" Accordingly a council was held on the 29th January at which there was a great deal of debate, and the meeting was continued on the following night, when the fatal resolution of giving up their cause was taken on the same unhappy day that the grandfather of the Chevalier was beheaded at the gate of his palace in London. At this meeting the Chevalier spoke briefly, stating that they were met to consider the present situation of affairs, and to resolve what was to be done; he had ordered everything to be laid before them, and desired that every man would truly express his mind. The Earl of Mar then addressed the meeting in a speech that was greatly wanting in military courage and destitute of anything that could inspire the Highlanders to go forth and fight the opposition. He concluded:—

It was now to be considered whether they were in a condition to maintain themselves in their present situation, and if so the army might be disposed in such manner as it might act with the greatest vigour and most to their advantage; and if not that, the retreat might be appointed in such manner as the enemy might be least able to annoy them, and that they might prevent the hurry and discredit that such things are usually attended with, and that the Chevalier might be secure and the troops kept together so as not to be insulted or obliged to halt by the enemy's horse, and so compel a general battle whether they thought fit or not, in which case they would be obliged to fight at a disadvantage, and the enemy obtain a cheaper victory than if they were obliged to attack them where they now were.

On the conclusion of this speech a Highland officer said:—

I am ashamed to repeat what I hear in the streets, and what the town is full of, viz., that we are met here to resolve to run away like cowards from an enemy whom we have once already seen in the field like men. I am persuaded there is not a man amongst the troops I have the honour to command, but would rather fight and be killed than turn back and escape. I beseech your lordship to consider whether we shall retreat If we flee to the coast, have we ships to carry us out to sea; if we turn to the hills, can we subsist ? How much less terrible is death in the field than in a ditch, and how much rather had all our people die sword in hand than starve in the mountains? I am of opinion as our few cannon may be placed, and as some of our men may be posted, we may not only defend the town, but post the rest of our forces so that they should not be able to attack the one or the other without the greatest disadvantage and the probability of being ruined. If they cannot attack us sword in hand, we know very well they cannot lie before the place; the severity of the weather will make it insufferable, and they will not pretend to it I do not therefore see the least reason for retreating.

Other speeches followed, and the debate was again adjourned till next day, when Mar opened the proceedings by informing his audience that it was not a question of the ability of the soldiers, but one to consider the situation of their affairs in general, and that there were many reasons which made it inconvenient to make public all the circumstances of their affairs, and those especially which made it necessary to retreat It was evident they were come to a crisis in which it was advisable not only to retreat, but to put an end to the design for a time; this not to be communicated to the army lest it should too much discourage the troops. This speech greatly surprised the audience, who were much disappointed. It was reported to the Chevalier that some of the chief of those who had appeared in arms in his support had entered into a conspiracy to go over to the opposition, and also to seize the person of the Chevalier and deliver him to Argyll. The result of this disloyalty and of Mar's speeches was that the Chevalier's forces broke up that very day, and the same night 800 men returned to their homes in the Atholl country.

Argyll with his 6,000 Dutch troops left Stirling for Perth with the object of taking it and annihilating the Chevalier's supporters. The news of his approach was received with dismay, and he promptly resolved to escape for his life. He went from Scone to Perth the night before, and passed the night with Hay the Provost who was a Jacobite. Next morning the Jacobite forces left Perth for Dundee, the Chevalier, accompanied by Mar, going to Montrose; and getting a boat there, specially provided for them, they escaped to Flanders, leaving the troops to shift for themselves. The troops speedily dispersed, and when General Gordon, who commanded in Mar's absence, reached Aberdeen he had only a small contingent left, and these dispersed. Meantime, Argyll had arrived at Auchterarder, which he found had been burned by the Jacobites. He then proceeded to Perth and found it evacuated, and he took possession. Next day he went to Dundee in pursuit of the rebels, and the following day reached Arbroath, but finding they had dispersed he gave up the chase; and so this rebellion ignominiously terminated. It must be admitted that the result of it was a great disappointment to the Jacobites, but no other result was possible in the circumstances. It was a poor wretched affair from beginning to end. Mar, so long as he had no opposition, did well enough, as his journey from Braemar to Perth shows; but he was sadly wanting in military skill, and in those great qualities which make a good commander.

Four days after Sheriffmuir the Earl of Mar in a letter to Oliphant of Gask said:

We have got about 1,200 of their arms and 200 prisoners. We hear they have a good many officers; and I am sure all their foot except two regiments that scarcely had a shot fired at them are soundly mauled. Our loss is very inconsiderable. . . . I am sure none of their prisoners with us can complain of their treatment, but I hear it is otherwise with most of our people they have, which will oblige us to alter our way with theirs. Lord Panmure was wounded after he was taken prisoner, and Lord Hay told him their could be no parole taken from a rebel. Poor Lord Strathmore was killed when he was prisoner and begging quarter, which is something horrid. We hear Lord Hay is ill wounded, and some of our people who were prisoners and got off tell that they saw and spoke with Argyll, and that he was disguised in a black wig and big blue coat. I hope your friends who are prisoners fare well and also those elsewhere. Mar.

In a letter two days later from an officer in King George's army, the writer says :-

This is the most grievous letter I have ever had occasion to write, and I should wish it might be the last, for we have never seen such a sight as has come to Stirling this day. Our army was in Dunblane all last night and to-day. About twelve o'clock on the 13th there was a most bloody engagement, which continued an hour and a half about one and a half miles above Dunblane. The enemy did such action that the like was never heard of. Mar's army came in a whole body in the front of our army and fought the most part of all our Foot, whole regiments as they were advancing to battle. The Scots Greys did go most valiantly and go through all the enemy's several times with the Duke at their head, which did all the damage the enemy sustained. All the wounded came into town, some wanting arms, and some legs, and bloody heads—the most dismal sight ever I saw. I cannot express what crying was in this place, very many officers wounded, soldiers wanting their arms and clothes, officers the same. General Wightman was killed, and what was left of his regiment were obliged to throw down their arms. General Evans was killed: Lord Forfar and most of his regiment, and a great number of Scots Greys were killed. In short, I cannot mention all, but by a most certain account we have lost five regiments. There is about 1,000 of other men killed, also the Earl Marischal. We have got no prisoners in as yet but one gentleman of 1,000 a year. Lords Haddington and Lauderdale are missing; horse and servants came home, but neither of them. The d------d treacherous rascals had no compassion on the very women who were there, but killed them down like dogs.

The Chevalier, on his departure from Scotland, wrote Laurence Oliphant of Gask a long letter explaining his policy, in which he said:—

The dismal prospects I found on my arrival did not discourage me. . . . Since that time, affairs have grown daily worse. Many friends were slow of declaring, and the defeat at Preston and securing many noblemen deprived us of all succour from the South, and the vast inequality betwixt us and the enemy made our retreat from Perth unavoidable. To have stood would only have served to sacrifice you all without any possibility of success; but however necessary the retreat was, it put our affairs in a most desperate condition. I could not behold the extremity we were reduced to without the utmost grief and concern, less on my account than yours. Your safety and welfare were, I may say with truth, my only view, and towards the providing for that, all my thoughts were bent, and I resolved not to let your zeal carry you so far as to result in your ruin. I considered there was no hope of retrieving our affairs, therefore the whole business was to secure your lives. I looked on my remaining among you not only as useless but as destructive to you, and therefore my stay would only have served to involve you in greater difficulty. . . . Nothing less than positive command could prevail on the Earl of Mar to accompany me on this occasion. Though his desire was to remain with you and share your misfortunes, his probity and experience made his presence absolutely necessary with me, obliging me to leave you, but with the view not only of your own welfare, but of obtaining such help as might effectually relieve you, full of hopes that the justice of the cause which has been so gloriously supported by you will not for ever be abandoned by Providence, who has hitherto never abandoned me. To my last moment I shall retain that sense of gratitude, affection, and fatherly tenderness toward you which you so justly deserve from me, for I can say with truth that your misfortunes are more heavy upon me than my own, and that I desire happiness only to make you share with me in it At the close of the Rebellion, those citizens of Perth having the town's arms in their custody delivered them up, in obedience to an order from the Magistrates; and it is noteworthy that in May, 1724, the Council appointed the treasurer to repair the roof of the Council House, and sell these arms in order to defray the charge for repairs. An inventory of the roup has been preserved, containing large and small arms and brass guns, pikes, old swords, flints, legar chests, saddles, tents, beds and bedding, clothes, timber, and a box with old papers—the whole amounting to the value of 274 7s. Scots.

The Jacobites being defeated, it was the duty of the Royalists to take steps to punish those citizens who had taken part with the rebels. Shortly after the battle we find the Magistrates had already begun these prosecutions.

James Walker was accused of disposing of his master's horse and the clock bag entrusted to him at the battle of Sheriffmuir, Sunday 13th current: Acknowledges he received a horse that day from his master and a clock bag of the Laird of Methven in which he was informed there was money. Declares he fell from the horse at the part where the army drew up that morning and the horse ran off. He carried the clock a part of the way on his shoulder till some Highlanders took it from him. He seized a horse and crossed the Allan above the bridge of Kinbuck and held straight to Drummond Castle. He found his way to the boat of Kinclaven by twilight He then crossed the Tay and came to his father's house at Scone.

A few weeks afterwards, or early in 1716, the next man to be tried was Joseph Taylor, blacksmith in Perth, who was Deacon of the Trades, and sat in council with the rebel Magistrates during the Rebellion, and was captain of a company of rebels and went with them to Sheriffmuir. He was committed to prison on the 27th March without any information being given against him. The suspension of the Act for preventing wrongous imprisonment was not then determined, but the special offence charged against him was that on the 16th September he not only rose in arms himself but instigated and stirred up several of the members of the Incorporations, and was very active with those of the rebels who surprised and took the town and maltreated the Magistrates: and thereafter took it upon him to be a member of the Jacobite Town Council who usurped the management of the town. That Council appointed him captain of the company that was made up in the town to serve in the Rebellion, and he exacted from the treasurer pay for his regiment and gave discharge therefor. With that company he marched to the battle of Sheriffmuir on 13th November, and afterwards continued in arms with the rebels until they dispersed, when he was apprehended and brought before the Magistrates at Perth, who committed him to prison. His punishment is not recorded.

Some stirring events succeeded the fall of the Chevalier and the collapse of the Jacobites. Provost Austen, who ran away on the arrival of the Jacobite forces, was replaced in the provostship in April, 1716. In September following (Michaelmas) he lost the provostship, very probably for political reasons, and Robert Robertson, jr., was appointed, with an entirely new set of Magistrates.

We now come to the closing chapter of this unfortunate Rebellion—the position of the Jacobite citizens who took an active part in it and the treatment they experienced from the law officers of the Crown. The most prominent citizen dealt with was Patrick Davidson, who on four occasions was elected Provost of Perth—1698-99, 1702-3, but who retired from office in 1704. When the Magistrates fled in 1715, Colonel Hay elected a fresh lot, who were for the time called commissioners until the Rebellion was over. The head of these was Provost Davidson, but from some unexplained cause Provost Hay was the acting Magistrate for the period.

On the 2nd September, 1716, Austen wrote the Lord Justice Clerk in the following terms:—

My Lord,—This day I received yours of the 27th. John M'Leish, William Hutton, and Charles Elder are to come over in charge of a guard. George Threipland and four others had each of them given me a bond of caution to present themselves to your Lordship at your lodgings in Edinburgh on Monday next under a penalty of 100 sterling each. John M'Niven is out of town; John Whyte is sick, for whom I shall either send over a doctor's certificate or himself. I have taken up also Patrick Wilson, who, I think, can bear as good evidence as any of them, for having been in the place during the Rebellion till the Pretender came to Scone, where Wilson served as master of the household while the Pretender was there. He hath also found bail for 100 to wait on your Lordship on Monday. Our Magistrates and the honest people of Perth are ready on all occasions to lay themselves out for the service of the Government, and heartily wish prosperity to your Lordship and family as doth, my Lord, your humble servant, William Austen.

The Magistrates on 10th September issued the following summons against Davidson and others:—

For suppressing tumults it is ordained that no one presume to make any convocation or assembly, put on armour or weapons without the sovereign's or magistrates' license under pain of death. The burgesses undertake to be true and loyal to the King. But true it is that the persons afterwards named:— Patrick Davidson, etc. (about 100 names) having shaken off the fear of God, regard for his Majesty's laws and constitution of the burgh, their duty and obedience to the magistrates and the sacred tie and obligation of their oath, did rebel within the said burgh and against the community thereof; usurped the authority of the King's officers, made tumults, conventions and assemblies within the burgh, assumed weapons, refused to assist and concur with the magistrates for settling of tumults; and convened and assembled themselves together without license of his Majesty—a violation of the Acts of Parliament and laws of the burgh; in so far as on 16th September 1715 they assembled themselves in arms in the burgh of Perth and received a great number of armed men into the town and with them invaded the magistrates and other burgesses who were guarding the town against danger. After they had disarmed and put several indignities on the magistrates, thrust them from their office, and made and detained them prisoners during their pleasure; set up in the town their own form of government by appointing a governor and manager which they chose out of their own number. Afterwards they made up a Council and elected a set of magistrates and other officers and exercised that usurped power for the space of four months. The premises being proven, the aforenamed persons have forfaulted, demitted, and have lost their burgess-ship and freedom in the burgh and all right, interest, and benefit belonging thereto. The defenders ought to be severely punished in their persons and goods and expelled and banished from Perth, and ordained never again to reside therein under a penalty of . In his Majesty's name and authority we charge the whole defenders above named to appear before us in the burgh court to be held within the Tolbooth of Perth on 11th September instant in order to see the charges verified and proven, and being proven to hear themselves discerned and proceeded against by decreet of Court according to law.

Perth, 11tk September, 1716.—The offenders, the rebels, appeared before the Provost and Magistrates for trial. After evidence was led, the court found that they—Patrick Hay and others—called a pretended Council meeting which was sufficiently proven. In that Council Patrick Hay was chosen pretended Provost, Mark Wood, Dean of Guild, Nathaniel Fyffe, James Smith, John Young, and James Sweller, bailies, John Gourlay, treasurer, and thirteen councillors, whose names are given. These persons accepted the office of magistrates and councillors respectively, and sat and voted in these pretended councils. The court found it proven that these persons were aiding and abetting, art and part, with the rebels. That such of them as were burgesses had broken their burgess oath, and the condition on which they were admitted to the freedom and privilege of the burgh. Therefore the said burgesses had forfeited and lost their burgess-ship and all right, interest, and benefit in the burgh. The court discharged Patrick Hay and others, or any of those who had fled out of the town, from ever again returning thereto or residing therein under the penalty after mentioned. The whole other persons against whom the libel is proven to remove furth of the burgh of Perth betwixt and the term of Martinmas next in this present year, and never to return or reside therein after the said term; Each person under a penalty of 200 pounds Scots money. The court ordained publication to be made at the Mercat Cross of Perth that none pretend ignorance, and ordained the burgess ticket of each of the said burgesses to be torn at the Mercat Cross of Perth this day.

William Austen, Provost
W. Fergusson, Bailie
Thomas Scott,   "
Francis Colville,
Patrick Read.

In another summons by the Procurator-Fiscal against Davidson and others, dated 14th September,

1716, it is stated that the complainer had obtained decreet affirmed by the Lords of Council and Session. It was declared that Davidson, for the reason stated in the decreet, had lost his burgess-ship and freedom of the burgh, and was discharged from residing there under a penalty of 200 Scots. On the 19th April, 1717, the complainer obtained another decreet, the Magistrates finding that he had disregarded the sentence of 14th September, and had thereby incurred a penalty of 200 Scots. The Lords ordained him to make payment to complainer, Davidson, it was stated, continued to reside in Perth, and openly frequented the streets and public places.

It is a curious fact that the matter seems to have dropped at this stage, for we hear no more about it until 1718, when on 21st January of that year information was lodged by the Magistrates of Perth and the Procurator-Fiscal against James Smith and others, late burgesses. These in September, 1715, entered, it is stated, into an unlawful combination to rise in arms against the Magistrates of the burgh, not only to turn them out of office by force and violence, but to seize and imprison them and deliver up the town to a body of armed men with whom these burgesses were in correspondence, who, as afterwards appeared, were to declare for the Chevalier and to maintain the town for his service.

When the Rebellion was fully suppressed, and the town restored to a peaceable state, the Magistrates judged it proper for preserving peace and preventing the control of the town from falling into the hands of the rebels, that those burgesses who had broken their allegiance should be deprived of their freedom as burgesses, and discharged from the town, that it might be out of their power in time coming to weaken the hands of the Magistrates, or set up others in their place, which they had no reason to doubt they would attempt to do on the first opportunity. After proof the Magistrates gave sentence depriving them of their freedom as burgesses, ordering their burgess tickets to be destroyed, and discharging them from the burgh for all time. The defenders immediately applied for suspension and reduction of the sentence.

The advocate for the town, in pleading the case at great length before the Lords, concluded :—

Upon the whole the sentence appears both to be formal, just, and necessary for securing the peace of the burgh, and for preventing the Magistrates and those who are well affected to His Majesty's government from being trodden upon by disloyalty. It is a kind of insult to the Government for these suspenders, who don't deny they were aware of the facts, to pretend that they will have the sentence reversed ; nor can it be reversed without giving great encouragement to the enemies of the King. Therefore it is hoped your Lordships will find the letters in order and sustain the decreet, and when the suspenders give reason to believe their disposition changed, and that they have an inclination to behave themselves peaceably within the burgh, and as becomes them, then the Magistrates will not be refractory, with consent of the community, to give of new the privilege of burgess-ship to such as may deserve it But until such a disposition appear, it is not just that they should be replaced, nor consistent with the interests of society.

Robert Dundas.

The case of the defenders came again before the Lords of Session on the 9th February following (1718), in the shape of a petition by several inhabitants (Jacobites), addressed to their Lordships. It went on to say :—

That the Magistrates decerned by forfaulting us of our burgess-ship and freedom, and expelled and banished us from the town, ordaining us not to return or reside there under a penalty of 200. The proceedings of the Magistrates have been very extraordinary. There were no less than ninety persons who, by this decreet, have undergone the common doom of forfeiting burgess-ship and banishment from the burgh, and the greatest part of these are of the race of the best burgesses and heads of families, so that, upon a reasonable computation, there are at least 400 or 500 persons whom it will touch in its consequences, whereby the burgh will be much depopulated, and unquestionably must be hurtful to the remaining burgesses, as well as to the Magistrates themselves ; for there can be no greater cause of poverty and want in any place than the decrease of inhabitants. It may be thought strange that there should be a necessity for us to insist on a reduction of the decreet after His Majesty's act of indemnity, who pardoned the greatest offences committed against his person and Government, that these injuries already done by subjects to others should be pushed to an extremity, and even contrary to the interest of those who prosecute their own living. His Majesty's example was worthy of imitation, and since the Magistrates have disregarded the King as a pattern, it is hoped your Lordships will the more exactly enquire into the validity of their decreet and form of procedure. In the present case it is plain that the Magistrates were prosecuting a humorous and groundless revenge against us, to which we must add that the crimes charged were of a serious nature and the penalties extensive. By the custom which has so long prevailed, causes of so great importance have always been tried before the Supreme Court of Justiciary, where no person has reason to doubt of obtaining justice. It is with respect submitted that where such crimes are charged involving forfeiture of burgess-ship and banishment from the burgh, supposing the Magistrates competent judges, they ought to have proceeded in a legal manner by a precognition of burgesses and inhabitants of the place. If the action of the rebels were not purely criminal, there is no other that deserves that name.

Another set of rebels came before the Lords of Session with the following petition, dated 24th February, 1718, in name of James Smith and others against the Magistrates. This petition stated:—

That in the suspension and reduction at our instance of a decreet by the Magistrates depriving us of our burgess-ship and banishing us from the town, your Lordships appointed divers hearings on the point whether probation on a criminal libel could be led in absence and your Lordships found for the Magistrates.

The case for the rebels was exhaustively debated before the Lords by Duncan Forbes of Culloden, advocate, Edinburgh, and he concluded his learned speech in the following words:—

Our adversaries have been at some pains to improve our late misfortunes against us, but since the King has been graciously pleased to publish his act of free grace, we consider ourselves as covered thereby from all the insults of our fellow subjects and entitled to the rights and privileges of free lieges. It is one of the fundamental laws of the kingdom that subjects accused of crimes cannot have proof brought against them in absence. Wherefore we conclude that by your Lordship's justice in applying the laws, the sanctuary of the distressed and the common security of a free people, we ought to be relieved from the illegal arbitrary sentence pronounced against us by the Magistrates of Perth.

In the case of the proposed suspension and reduction of Provost Davidson's sentence, the Magistrates lodged the following answers:—

The case of Davidson and his accomplices is well known. That they were the first who broke out in open rebellion against his Majesty in 1715: that they brought unparalleled hardships upon their own lawful Magistrates at that time and during the course of the Rebellion: that the Magistrates found it a necessary part of their duty to put the public laws and statutes of the burgh in execution against them, declaring that they had forfeited their burgess-ship and discharging them from returning to the burgh—the peace whereof they had disturbed in a remarkable manner—under the penalty of 200 Scots. The Magistrates gave orders to summon Davidson in April, 1718, and having convicted him of a contravention of their sentence by the depositions of famous witnesses, they decerned him to pay the Fiscal the penalty of 200. They delayed charging him to make payment till now, when they are threatened with an invasion and a new rebellion, and have good reason to believe that Davidson and his accomplices will, at this juncture, use their utmost efforts to delude the inhabitants to act the same game over again unless they are prevented. The Magistrates humbly believe your lordships will not be ready to grant a suspension, as the consequences may be so dangerous to the peace of the burgh. The suspender thinks the Magistrates were not competent judges because he did not reside within their jurisdiction at the time of the citation in April, 1718. The decreet bears that he was cited at his dwelling-house in Perth, and there is proof that he contravened the sentence of the Magistrates. He had, and still has, his dwelling-house in the burgh.

The next men to be attacked for their opposition to King George were certain of the clergy—the Episcopal clergy. They were carefully watched, and those who did not pray for King George were subjected to prosecution. Thomas Murray, Episcopal preacher at Baledgarno, in manifest contempt of the decreet and sentence pronounced against him by the Sheriff of Perth fining him in 20 sterling for performing divine service without praying for King George and the Royal Family, and in open defiance of the laws of the Realm, continued to exercise the ministerial function without praying for his Majesty, He was also charged with celebrating the Sacrament in his church at Baledgamo, preaching on the Friday before and on the Sunday preceding to a considerable body of disaffected people, known and avowed enemies of the Government, without praying for his Majesty; also on 4th February he married at Newtyle, Henry Crawford, younger of Monorgan, clandestinely without proclamation of banns, to the daughter of James Paton, late minister of Kettins, Crawford being under scandal and contumacious to the discipline of the Church. It does not appear what was the result of this prosecution.

In this Rebellion the Magistrates of Perth played a conspicuous part: one set ran away and another set replaced them. After it was all over the Jacobite Magistrates or some of them had to pay the penalty, and Provost Davidson in particular was subjected to unreasonable persecution. For some time after the war, these summonses of rebels were abundant, and both town and county must have been in a lively condition. The battle of Sheriffmuir practically finished the Rebellion, but there was no reason whatever why it should have done so. Mar remained in Perth for some time quiescent, and on 22nd December he, in company with the Earl Marischal, went north, as already stated, to meet the Chevalier on his arrival in Scotland. Early in January he reached Perth, and the most remarkable thing that occurred during his brief stay was the convention of Jacobites which assembled on 29th January, and the business, which was of serious moment, seems to have been spread over three nights. This meeting (reported in the Spottiswoode Miscellany) discussed the situation, and evidently the debate became animated. The Highlanders also expressed their opinion in strong language, denounced Mar's management of the Rebellion, and entirely disapproved of his policy. That nobleman made an unsatisfactory defence, and showed in the most unmistakable manner his weakness as the commander-in-chief. This attitude of Mar, and specially his timid and ridiculous observations, had a depressing effect on the Chevalier, and induced him to sist procedure. Had he been a courageous man, he would have backed up the Highlanders, put Mar aside, and taken the command of the troops himself. There was a large following of Jacobite troops full of enthusiasm in his cause, and a courageous and judicious commander would have led them to victory. But the Chevalier failed to rise to the occasion and foolishly threw in his lot with Mar. It is seldom we see such weakness in the championship of a great cause. The Chevalier's wavering character is pretty well illustrated in his letter to Colonel Oliphant On the other hand Argyll was an able commander, and his Dutch contingent appears to have overwhelmed Mar and the Chevalier, and to have practically settled the Rebellion. The Stuart cause was lost not because it was vanquished, but because it was for the moment annihilated in the house of its friends. The Stuart Kings were not absolutely a noble race of men. The first four Jameses did their part creditably, but the second four and the Charleses, discreditably. There was something ludicrous in the Chevalier going out to Scone, issuing six proclamations, and then escaping for his life before the ink was quite dry. It was well he escaped, as if he had become King he would have brought the country into trouble. He and Mar, occupying as they did so high a position, were bound to set the people an example, and they ought to have stood their ground and taken the consequences. Had they died, sword in hand, their memory would have been cherished, and the Jacobite cause would have achieved a distinguished place in the annals of history.

As far as the town of Perth is concerned, this Rebellion had one redeeming feature: there was no bloodshed. It was a time of keen and violent political excitement, when all classes of the people, including the law officers of the Crown, ranged themselves on one or other of the two sides. When the time arrived for prosecuting the vanquished, it is noticeable that there were eminent counsel in Edinburgh on both sides to defend their clients before the Lords. No more eminent lawyers could be found in that or any subsequent age than Duncan Forbes of Culloden and Robert Dundas.

The anarchy which reigned in the Ancient Capital was almost beyond the power of the law to put down, and the only explanation of the foolish and utterly inadequate administration of the town after Sheriffmuir is evidently the fanaticism and excitement of the time. No generous sentiments were manifested by the victors, and the prosecutions and persecution which followed are discreditable in a very high degree to the Magistrates and Council who resumed office after all was over.


A curious entry on this subject appears on the record, the peculiar circumstances of the time having doubtless led up to the King's resolution. It would appear that the criminal courts were insufficient for administering justice. The King appointed a Court of Justiciary to be held in Perth, and ordained certain of his qualified officials to preside. This Court was to grant remission to those unable to undergo punishment, but the King having been informed that the people of the Highlands, through the long troubles during the Rebellion of the clan Gregor and others, could not well abide the King's laws—no criminal Justice Court having been held here for twenty-nine years—he had resolved to pardon them for past offences, so that they might find caution to satisfy those offended and abstain from such offences in future. Those who would not accept this offer were declared fugitives and rebels, and at the mercy of those who might apprehend them or bring them to justice. Those landlords were to be punished as resetters of thieves, and put to assize conform to the laws of the realm. The King enjoined rebels to appear for discharge, otherwise their corn and goods would be confiscated and sold. The lieges were certified that the King appointed his Court of Justiciary to be held within the Tolbooth of Perth on the-----day of February next, with continuation of days as a second court, for persons arrested for this present court who have not compeered. These courts have continued down to the present time.

In 1719 an application was made to the Magistrates on behalf of the Duke of Atholl for the loan of the town's hangman for Logierait Provost Austen received the following letter, dated Huntingtower, 18th October, 1719, from the Duke's steward:— "Since I was with you I have had a letter from the Duke of Atholl desiring me to write you to allow the hangman of your town to go to Logierait and execute two thieves condemned, and lying prisoners there, and that you will deliver him to Alexander Mitchell, his Grace's Chamberlain, who will bail him and send some men to guard him up the country. I doubt not but your lordship will comply with this."

Provost Austen was evidently a personality in his day. He was re-elected Provost in 1718, 1719, and 1722. We would have thought that seven years having elapsed since the Rebellion, feeling about it would have died down. Not so, however, for in 1722 he and the Town Council sent King George an effusive address in the following terms:—

We, your Majesty's most dutiful, most loyal subjects, the Magistrates, Town Council, and chief inhabitants of the burgh of Perth, beg leave humbly to congratulate your Majesty upon the happy discovery of the wicked and hellish conspiracy against your person and government in favour of a Popish Pretender: wherein we adore the goodness of God for His watchful care over your Majesty and your dominions.

This place having been the seat of the late unnatural rebellion, none of your Majesty's subjects can have a more lively sense of the direful effects of such traitorous insurrections, and of the wisdom of the measures formerly taken by your Majesty, and the happy success of your arms in suppressing them. We cannot but declare our detestation and abhorrence of the treasonable and perfidious practice of such as are restless in plotting the subversion of your government and the ruining of the Protestant religion, our civil liberties, and everything that is valuable to us, notwithstanding the great clemency and equity of your Majesty's Administration, and after God, in His wonderful providence, has several times remarkably baffled their best concerted designs. We take this occasion of repeating our firm resolution faithfully to adhere to your Majesty as our only lawful and rightful sovereign in opposition to the Pretender and all his adherents, and to stand up in the defence of your government to the utmost of our power, being fully convinced that under God, the maintenance of our valuable privileges, both sacred and civil, and particularly the interest of our present Church Establishment, depend upon the preservation of your Majesty's person, and the succession to the Crown in your Royal Family.

That your Majesty may be long continued for a rich blessing to all your subjects, for the safety of the Protestant interest, both at home and abroad: that you may be preserved from all the attempts of your treacherous and malicious enemies: that the succession may be continued to your august family to latest posterity, and that, after a long and prosperous reign upon earth, you may inherit an eternal crown hereafter in Heaven is and shall be the prayer of (here follow the signatures of the Provost and Magistrates and others).

The matter of a public library for the town, to be got up jointly by the Town Council and the Presbytery of Perth, was this year the subject of much discussion. Proposals were drawn up by a joint committee and approved, 27th March, 1723. It was provided by the scheme:—

That the town and the Presbytery of Perth shall have an equal share in the management of the library, and that on the part of the town, the Provost, Bailies, Dean of Guild, and Convener of the Trades for the time, shall be directors; and that the Presbytery make choice of the same number to represent them, and the convener shall be chosen out of the directors for the town, and those for the Presbytery.

The town and the Presbytery shall each contribute liberally for promoting the scheme, either by giving books, or money for buying them, and they shall assist in obtaining the help of others in advancing this work, and shall keep a record of the library in which the names of the benefactors shall be entered, together with what has been advanced by them, either of money or books.

No Director shall be entitled to borrow a book but such as pay at least five shillings to be applied for the purchase of books, excepting always probationers and students in divinity and philosophy.

All lenders shall pay for each book in folio that they borrow, five shillings Scots, and for every lesser book one shilling money foresaid, to be applied to the use of the Library, and this to continue until such time as the directors shall find a salary to the Keeper.

Those who borrow a book, living in the burgh, shall return it within six weeks, and those in the country shall return the book within eight weeks, and if anyone in town keep the book for more than six weeks, he shall be charged six shillings Scots for a book in folio, and four shillings for all lesser volumes. And such like with respect to those living in the country who shall keep books beyond eight weeks shall pay as aforesaid, and if any shall keep a book three months they shall pay for each book of the sizes mentioned double of what they pay for the space of six and eight weeks. None shall keep a book above a quarter of a year at farthest. And if any book shall be visibly damaged, the borrower shall be obliged to repair the same as the directors shall appoint

The directors shall be accountable to their constituents, and shall have no power to make any other regulations without their advice. Every member of presbytery may have recourse to the presbytery for redress of any grievance. Citizens only shall be directors.

From some reason not recorded this very laudable scheme appears to have fallen through. It is of considerable interest to us to know that so general a desire for books was prevalent in the burgh so far back as 1723. These rules, considering the circumstances of the time, are liberal, and show a very scholarly grasp of the subject by the promoters.

Passing on to the year 1729, we come to a remarkable event in the history of the Perth Town Council This was the great Monastery litigation case which, after passing through the Civil and Ecclesiastical Courts of Scotland, was carried to the House of Lords. It was an action of Reduction and Declarator brought by the Presbytery of Perth as representing the ministers, the Kirk Session, and masters of the Hospital, against the Magistrates and Town Council, to oblige them to produce the titles by which they possessed the lands of the Blackfriars and Charterhouse, and for having the said titles declared null and void, and to have the Presbytery's rights to those lands established. The Magistrates and Council were also to account for the rents of those lands and feus during the preceding forty years, the period they had held them. The case was very protracted, extending over some years, and the official papers and print were voluminous. The Magistrates vigorously defended themselves, and by their legal proceedings involved the town in heavy expenses. The House of Lords decerned against the town and in favour of the clergy and the Hospital; a decision that was of a serious nature on account of the large sum of money (2,000) the town became liable for, and which they were decerned to pay over. Neither before nor since has the town been involved in such a protracted and expensive litigation.

Laurence Oliphant of Gask was in arms for King James VIII. in 1715, and his father being alive his estate was preserved. When Prince Charles Edward landed in 1745, Oliphant and his only son joined him at Perth. Oliphant was made lieutenant-colonel of the Perthshire Horse, and his son was made captain in the same regiment, and aide-de-camp to the Prince. When the Prince marched into England, Oliphant was appointed Governor of Perth. He raised money and paid for three months the recruits, who daily arrived and eventually numbered 2,500 Highlanders, and who joined the Prince before the battle of Falkirk. After Culloden (April 16, 1746) Oliphant and his son escaped to the mountains, where they hid themselves for fully six months, and then were enabled to get on board a ship which conveyed them to Sweden.

My enemies search for my den,
Like wolves keen to destroy;
Rebuke, O Lord, these wicked men.
And save Thy poor John Roy.
—John Roy Stewart's Hymn.

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