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Annals of Dunfermline
A.D. 1501 - 1601 - Part 3

1566.—ST. CATHERINE’S CHAPEL-YARD and Castle Burn, &c.—In a deed of resignation by Mr. Richardson, before mentioned, in favour of Mr. John Wellwood (who is styled Senior Officer of the Lordship of Dunfermline), dated 1566, the above-named places are noticed thus:--“All and whole our Garden or Orchard, commonly called St. Catherine’s Yard, with the pigeon-house built thereon, and all its pertinents, inter ‘torrentem fortalitii,’ between the tower or fortalice burn on the west, and the mansion or Chapel of St. Catherine on the east, and the garden of William Durie on the north, and the common road on the south.  (MS. Regist. of Chart. Register House, Edin.; Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. pp. 159, 160.)  This refers to the Old Chapel of St. Catherine, of date 1327, and was bounded on the east by a line running along the back of the houses in the lower part of St. Catherine’s Wynd (west of the Church Steeple), on the south by the public road (now the private road to Pittencrieff House), and on the west by the margin of the Tower Burn.  (See Annals 1327, and Appendix.)

  ST. CATHERINE’S YARD AND DOVECOT let on Feu Charter to Allan Cowts, Chamberlain of the Abbey, by a grant from Sir John Angus, Almoner of the Abbey, with the consent of the Commendator.  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 160.)

  RESIGNATION OF ABBEY LANDS, near Dunfermline.—John Wellwood, Senior Officer of the Regality of Dunfermline, had resigned to him by Robert Richardson, half of the lands of Touch, Forrester-leys, and the seventh part of Grange or East Barns.  Laurence Wellwood got “half mill of Touch and hail lands of Wester Baldridge.  Thomas Wellwood received the coal and coalheuch of Wester Baldridge.  Katharine Halkett and others, the lands of Pitliver, Breadleys, and Mill thereof,” &c.  (Vide Print. Regist. Dunf. Appendix, and Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 250.)  The Barns here alluded to is probably the same as “Low’s Barns,” half a mile east of Dunfermline.  If so, it would appear that its original name was “The Grange,” one of the Abbey Granges.

  ST. MARGARET’S LANDS.—The lands of St. Margaret Stane were this year given over to Alexander Galrig.  Two-sevenths parts of the lands of Grange and Grassmuirlands were given to Allan Cowts, Chamberlain; and one-quarter part of the land of North Tod was given to Robert and William Stanhouse, Thomas Smyth, and Adam Brown.  (Regist. of “Infeod et Alien”; Regist. Dunf. pp. 489, 490.)

  1567.—THE Commendator of Dunfermline Abbey appointed a “Lord of the Articles” this year.  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 200.)

  THE Commendator of Dunfermline Abbey was one of those who signed the “Bond of Association,” after the resignation of Queen May, at Edinburgh, in July of this year.  (Crawfurd’s Officers of State, p. 442.)

  THE Commendator of Dunfermline Abbey went to Stirling on July, 29th, 1567, to attend the Coronation of King James VI. (who was then about 13 months old).  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 200.)

  CORONATION OF KING JAMES VI.—At the end of vol. ii. of the Burgh Records of Dunfermline there is the following entry on the fly-leaf.  “Regis Coronatio.—The coronation and inauguratioun of our Souirane James, be ye grace of God, King of Scotis, the sext of zat name, was maid and solempnizat the xxix day of July ye yeir of God Javj.v°.lxvij (29th July, 1567), and in the sameyn yeir upoun ye xv day of December.  Ratefeit and approvit in Pr’liament haldyn at Edinburgh.”  (Dunf. Burgh Records, vol. ii.)

  1568.—QUEEN MARY’S FLIGHT from Lochleven Castle.—On May 2nd, 1568, Queen Mary escaped from Lochleven Castle.  She, in her flight (to Niddry Castle, in West Lothian), accompanied by Lord Seaton and others, passed through the eastern part of the parish of Dunfermline, if not through Dunfermline itself.  (Old MS Note; Histories of Scotland, &c.)

  THE Commendator of Dunfermline Abbey appointed an “Ordinary Lord of Session,” 2nd June, 1568.  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 200.)

  PITFIRRANE CHARTER, regarding Silver Plate.—In the Charter Chest of Pitfirrane there is a deed “Writ-warrand by Queen Mary, to the treasurer to desist from craving our silver platis, resting in his handes, fra oure servitour Mr. George Hacket.  Dated at Bolltoun, 19th Sept. 1568.  At the top there is the word Regina, and at the left corner Marie R.”  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 527.)

  1569.—FEU-TACK of the Abbey lands, which are designated as “haill acres and croft lands” near the burgh of Dunfermline, given to Allan Cowts of Bowhill, the Abbey Chamberlain.  (MS Regist. of Tacks and Teinds, Register House, Edin.)

  THE Commendator of Dunfermline protests against any inquiry being made into the character or conduct of Queen Mary, “because such would necessarily tend to her dishonour, and prove them exceedingly ungrateful.  (Signed) James (Regent) Morton; Patrick Lindsay, Ad. Orchard, Dunfermling.  Westminster, Nov. 26, 1569,” (Mait. Hist. Scot. vol. i. p. 1053.)

  THE Commendator of Dunfermline Abbey is sent by Regent Murray with letters to the English Court regarding Queen Mary.  (Maitland’s Hist. Scot, vol. ii. p. 1090.)

  1570.—THE Commendator of Dunfermline Abbey appointed Secretary of State.—Robert Pitcairn, Commendator of Dunfermline Abbey, succeeded the celebrated Maitland, of Lethington, as Secretary of State for Scotland.  (Crawford’s Officers of State, pp. 442, 443; Acts Par. Scot., &c.)

  PASSPORT, from Queen Elizabeth to the Commendator of Dunfermline to return to Scotland from England, dated 31st May, is still extant and in good condition in the Charter Chest at Pitfirrane, near Dunfermline.  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 528.)

  REPAIRS OF THE NAVE OF THE ABBEY.—It would appear from an old Note, and also from the Hutton MS. in the Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh, that “a commencement was made about the year 1570 to repair several parts of the nave of the Abbey Church” (which had been destroyed in 1560).  Sir Robert Drummond of Carnock, or “Dominus Drummond,” as he is called in old writs, being Master of Works (master mason) to the King, was director of the repairs,  (See Annals, 1563.)

  1571.—SECRETARY PITCAIRN, Commendator of Dunfermline Abbey, was this year appointed one of the commissioners to treat with Queen Elizabeth regarding Mary Queen of Scots, and to contract a league offensive and defensive.  (Stuart’s Hist. Scot. vol. ii. pp. 77, 78, &c.)

  MR. ROBERT RICHARDSON, Prior of Sanct Marie Ile, died this year.  He had many of the feu-farms of Dunfermline in his charge between 1563 and 1571.  (See Annals, 1563.)

  THE FABLES of “Maister Robert Henryson,” of Dunfermline, in the Harleian MS., are dated 1571.

  MR. DAVID FERGUSON, Minister of Dunfermline, preached his “famous sermon” at Leith, on 13th January, 1571.


befoir the Regent and Nobilitie, vpon a part
of the third Chapter of the Prophet Malachi, in
the Kirk of Leith, at the tyme of the Generall
Assemblie on Sonday the 13. of Januarie.
Anno 1571. be Dauid Fergusone,
Minister of the Evengell, at


Imprentit at Sanctandrois be Robert Lekpreuik,
Anno. Do. M.D.LXXII.

This “famous sermon” was printed at St. Andrews in August, 1572, and is dedicated as follows:--


Lord Erskin, and Regent to the King’s Majestie, his Realme
and Liegis, your humbill subject DAUID FERGUSON,
Wischis the fauour and lufe of God throuch
Christ our Savior, togidder with
prosperous Gouernament
and all felicitie.

“The famous reformer, John Knox, was in ecstasies with this sermon.”  The following note from the great reformer, written about three months before his death, is subjoined to the sermon:--“John Knox, with my dead hand, but glaid heart, praising God that of his mercy he levis suche light to his Kirk on this desolatioun”  (Fernie’s Hist. Dunf. pp. 30, 152, 167, where the reader will find copious “Excerpts from the Sermon”’  also Laing’s “Tracts by David Ferguson, Minister of Dunfermline,” pp. 55-88.)

  1572.—DAVID FERGUSON, Minister of Dunfermline and the Chapter at St. Andrews.—The minister of Dunfermline was one of 21 persons nominated to form the Chapter, or Assembly of the Archbishop of St. Andrew’s Assessors, to represent the Chapter for election of the Archbishop and for spiritual affairs, without prejudging the Old Convent during their lifetime in things temporal.  (Cald. Hist. Ch. Scot.)

  ROSYTHE CASTLE “SPOILZED.”—“Upon the xv. Day of April, 1572, the suddartis of the Blackness past ovir the wattir in ane bott, and spoulzeit the touns on the coist syid, and als wan the houssis of Rysith (Rosythe Castle), quhairin thai gat greit ritches and came without hurt to (the said) Blackness.”  (Diurnal of Occurrences, p. 292.)

  THE ABBEY SLATER’S PENSION.—This year there is an entry of “Alex. Colville’s gift of pensioun for ye office of Sklattarie of the Abbey.”  (Print. Regist. Dunf. p. 476.)

  MR. DAVID FERGUSON, Minister of Dunfermline.—His stipend for the charges of Dunfermline and Rosythe amounts to viij. xx [8 score lib or £160] amd xl lib mair sen Nov. 1572.  (Mait. Club Regist. of Stipends, p. 26.)  Another account has the following entries:--“Dunfermline, Carnock, Beath,--David Ferguson’s stipend to be payable as follows out of the thirds of Scotland, well xiiij z qy bolls beir at . . . . . .  xxvd viij,” &c.  “Mr. John Christeson, reider at Dunfermling, his stipend xl lib, to be paid as follows: the thrids of the vicarage thereof xx merckis, and out of the thrids of Dunfermline, be the Abbotes, Chamerlain, takkisman, or parochinar of Dunfermling xx merkis.”  (MS. For. Ad. Lib. Edin. 1574; Regist. Stipends, &c.)

  1573.—DAVID FERGUSON, Minister of Dunfermline, elected Moderator of the General Assembly, March, 1573.  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 310.)

  THE SCHOOLMASTERS OF DUNFERMLINE.—How Appointed, &c.—John Henryson, Notary and Schoolmaster of Dunfermline, in a legal document dated 13th October, 1573, notifies that he is the “Master of the Grammer Schole within the Abbay of Dunfermling, that quhair he and his predecessours hes continewit maisters and teachearis of youth in letters and doctrine to thair grit commoditie within the said schole past memor of man.”  Not doubt this John would be a descendant of Robert Henryson, schoolmaster and poet (1470-1499).  It is therefore given in full in the Appenidx M.

  1574.—THE LANDS OF LOCHEND OR LUSCAR, evicte, near Dunfermline, confirmed by Charter, from the Commendator of the Abbey, to James Dury.  (Regist. Infeod. Et Ap. Print. Regist. Dunf. p. 477.)

  JOHN DURIE and the Bishops.—Mr. John Durie, “the learned Monk of Dunfermline,” but now an eminent preacher of the Protestant faith, this year began his active crusade against the bishops.  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 307; see Annals, 1563.)

  1575.—GEORGE YOUNG, and Proof Sheets of English Translation of the Bible.—About the end of this year “Mr. George Young, servant to the Lord Abbot of Dunfermline, was, with the consent of the General Assembly, employed by Bassandyne and Arbuthnot, printers, in correcting the proof-sheets of the first edition of the Geneve translation of the Bible ever printed in Scotland; folio; price, sheets, £4 13ss, 6d.”  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 511, &c.)

  1576.—THE SUNDAY PLAY in the Abbey Church, Dunfermline, Prohibited.—“The Assembly (of the Church) refuses to give libertie to the Bailzie of Dunfermling to play upon the Sunday afternoon ane certaine play qwhilk is not made upon the canonicall parts of the Scripture.”  (Booke of the Universal Kirk of Scot. p. 159.)

  ROBERT PITCAIRN, Commendator of Dunfermline, appears to have resided frequently in the Friars’ House, May Gate, Dunfermline, about this period.  It would probably be about this time that he got the curious, old-lettered “advice-stane” placed over the door of this residence, viz.:--

That is—

“Since word in thrall, and thought is free,
Keep well thy tongue, I counsel thee.”

This lintel stone is 6 feet 4 inches in length by 11 inches in breadth.  This house in May Gate has been for about 200 years known as the “Abbot’s-house,” in consequence of Pitcairn having made it his residence during his brief sojournings in Dunfermline on the business of the dissolved Abbey.  Anciently, the house appears to have been a Friary—probably a convent of Blackfriars—and may date back into the thirteenth century.  It has undergone many alterations, but its cruciform plan may still be traced.  The door-way in May Gate appears to be struck out in the lower part of the north transept.  A plot of ground adjacent, on the east, is noticed in an old Charter as the Frears’ Yard (the Friars’ Yard, or Garden), undoubtedly the garden of this Convent of Friars.  There was a Convent of Greyfriars near Brucefield House, St. Leonards; and in an old Charter, the Franciscan Garden is noticed.  In both instances the names or designations of these Convents have long outlived the names of the Friaries after which they were called.

  1577.—BURIAL OF THE YOUNG LAIRD OF ROSYTHE in the Kirk of Dunfermline, against the Statutes of General Assembly.—The following extracts regarding this affair are taken from The Booke of the Universal Kirk of Scotland, pp. 165, 166, viz.:--

  “Anent the complaint made by David Fergusone vpon Mr. James M’Gill, Clerk of Register, to the zong Laird of Rossyth, that against the actis of the Kirk they causit burie the vmquhill Laird of Rossyth in the Kirk of Dumfermling, albeit the said David made them foirsein of the said act, the Kirk ordainit Johne Durie to warn the Clerk Register to answer heirto, the first of May nixt to come.”

  “1 May.—The Clerk Register beand present, declared that the Proveist and baillies of Dunfermling agriet to burie the said Laird of Rossyth in the Kirk; that he was not the cause thereof, submittand himselfe allwayes to the judgment of the Kirk, if any offence be found done by him.” 

  “No farther notice appears to have been minuted regarding this fray, so it is likely that his remains would be allowed to rest in peace—R.I.P.”  (See also Annals, date 1660.)

  MARRIAGE OF ROBERT PITCAIRN, Commendator of Dunfermline.—This marriage was not conducted according to the Act of the General Assembly of 1565.  The Reader who conducted the rites of the marriage was censured, with deprivation of his office, by the Assembly.  Calderwood, in his Historical Church of Scotland, vol. viii. p. 386, regarding this matter, says:--“James Blaikwood, Reader at Sawline, near Dunfermline, for celebrating the marriage betwixt the Commendator of Dunfermling and his wife without testimonial of the minister of the parish where they made residence, was found guiltie of transgressing the Act made the 27th day of December, 1565:  Therefore, the Assemblie decerned that the paines thereof, viz., deprivatioun from office, and losse of his stipend, be inflicted upon him and other paines as the Generall Assemblies all thereafter thinke meete to be enjoyned.”  Pitcairn was a clever and powerful man, and would get poor Blaikwood reinstated in his office of “Reader” at Saline.

  A PENSION CONFERRED ON MR. JOHN DURIE, once a Monk of Dunfermline.—Pitcairn, in his “Criminal Trails,” page 436, has the following note:--“March 16th, 1577.—John Durie, Minister of Christis Evangell, sumtyme ane of y conventuall Brethren of the Abbacy of Dumfermling, and Joshua, his son, got a pensioun of £66 13s. 4d. for their lives, in lieu of his habeit silver, and other dues, from Robert Pitcairne, Commendator of Dunfermling,” which was afterwards confirmed by King James VI>

  1578.—BURGH RECORDS.—The third volume of “Dunfermline Burgh Records” begins with date 1578, and extends to 1580.  As the second volume ends with 1575, and the third volume begins with 1578, there appears to be a lost volume here, viz., 1575-1578, regarding which years there are no existing notes.

  DAVID FERGUSON, Minister of Dunfermline, was this year (in October) again elected Moderator of the General Assembly.  (Fernie’s Hist. Dunf. p. 30.  See also Annals, date 1573.)

  CITY OF DUNFERMLINE.—Bsihop Lesslie (or Dr. John Lesslie) published his History fo Scotland at Rome in 1578.  In referring to the Church at Dunfermline, he says—“Templum CIVITATE Dunfermilingensi Magnifice Suis impensis extructum, Sanctissimæ Trinitati dicavit.”

  COPY OF LETTER FROM KING JAMES VI. to the “Laird of Pitfirrane.”—“Traist freend we greit zou weill.  Vpoun knawlege had be ws of the conveying of sum  of our nobilitie and vtheris in armes, apperandile to troubill the present estate, we have takin occasioun to wryte to zow and vtheris our trusty subjectis Desyring zow effectuuslie that ze faill not the zour freindis seruantis and dependaris weill bodin in feir of weare to be at ws heir with all possibill diligence prouidit to remane and serue as ze salbe commandit for the space of xv dayis as ze uill report our speciall thankis and do ws pleasure.  Thus we commit zou to God frome our castell fo Striueling the xxviij day of July 1578.—(Signed) JAMES R.; G. Buchanan.—To our traist friend the Laird of Pitferan.”  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 527.)

  1579.—THE REMAINS OF THE EARL OF ATHOL, arrive in Dunfermline.—“Upon the sevent of July (1579) the corpse of the Earl of Athol, being convoyit to Dumblane, wes carried forth thairof the direct way to Dunfermline, where they remained that night.  Upon the morn (8 Jul.) they passed for Edinburgh, and entered him in St. Giles’ Kirk.”  (Chambers’ Dom. An. Scot. vol. i. p. 124.)

  MAYOR, OR SERJEANT OF DUNFERMLINE REGALITY INSTITUTED.—The heritable office of “Mayor,” or “Serjeant,” afterwards named Provost, or head officer of the Regality of Dunfermline, was created this year.  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. pp. 259, 260.)

  DECREET, Assoilzieing the Conventual Brethren of Dumfermline.—Although Mr. Richardson resigned the greater part of the Abbey lands in . . . , it would appear that he ahd retained for himself and niece, Alison Richardson, a brother-german of the Commendator, Mr. JohnPitcairn, of Forther, and creditor of this lady and her uncle, applied for and obtained, from the Lords of Council, on the 24th July, 1579, ”an decreet, assoilzieing the Conventual brethren, but ordaining letters to be direct simpliciter, charging the keeparis and haiforis of the common seill of the said Abbey, to append the same to the said two Charters,” &c.  (Chalmers’s History of Dunfermline, vol. i. p. 252, &c.)

  1580.—HERITABLE BAILIE of Dunfermline Regality Instituted.—This office was created this year by the Commendator and Convent on 15th November, and bestowed on David Durie of Dunfermline, probably a relative of Abbot Dury.  (Chalmers’s Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 256, &c.)  The Heritable Bailie was infeft in office on receipt of a rod in open court.  Their fee was a certain quantity of oatmeal from the West Mill of Kirkcaldy, and from the greater number of the vassals yearly, with 40s. Scots, of the feu-duty payable out of the lands of Touch.  In the printed Register of Dunfermline, page 470, he is styled “Dominus de Dury,” confirmed in “officio ballivi.”  Dominus Dury resigned his office into the hands of Queen Anne in 1596.

  THE “SHAKING FO THE MASTER OF GRAY’S HOUSE,” and David Ferguson, Minister of Dunfermline.—“It being reported to the King that  the  Master of Gray, his house did shake and rock in the night as with an earthquake, and the King [then 14 years old] interrogated David Ferguson, Minister of Dunfermline, what he thought it could mean, that that  house alone should shake and totter, he answered, ‘Sir, why should not the Devil rock his awn bairns?’  The minister of Dunfermline wa s very ready-witted man.”  (Row’s Hist. Kirk of Scot.)  This refers to the same “Master of Gray” who became Commendator of the Abbey in 1584.

  THE SHRINES OF ST. MARGARET AND ST, DAVID, as also the Sepulchres of Bruce and Randolph watched by Monks.—In 1580 a few Benedictines of Dunfermline, with doors bolted and barred, kept watch in their choir by the Shrines of St. Margaret and St. David and the Sepulchres of Bruce and Randolph.  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. ii. p. 271, &c.)

  BURHG RECORDS.—The fourth volume of Dunfermline Burgh Records begins in 1580, and reaches to 1591.

  1581.—ROYAL CELLAR AT LIMEKILNS.—An old house at Limekilns, near Dunfermline, has date 1581 on it.  Tradition makes it a Royal Cellar for receiving the King’s “goods, wines,” &c., previous to their being dispatched to Dunfermline.  If Robert Pitcairn, Commendator of Dunfermline, died in Limekilns in 1584, it is unlikely that he died in some one of the apartments of this house; besides having a “Royal Cellar,” it would have suitable apartments above it.  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 389.)

  THE PRESBYTERY OF DUNFERMLINE INSTITUTED THIS YEAR.—The following is a list of placed declared by the General Assembly to be “within its bounds”:--Carnock, Innerkeithing, Rossythe, Auchterderan, Ballingarie, Aberdour, Dalgater, Auchtertuil, Kirkaldie, Kingorne (Easter), Kingorne (Wester), Dysert, Wemyss, Methell, Kinglassie, Culrosse, Crumbie, Torrie, Saline, Cleish, Muckart, Dolor, Glendovan.”  (Booke af the Universal Kirk of Scotland, p. 218.)  Extent about 28 miles from east to west, with an average breadth of twelve miles from north to south.

  CONFESSION OF FAITH Subscribed at Dunfermline.—The second “Confession of Faith,” called “Craig’s Confession,” was subscribed at Dunfermline by King James BI. And all his household, and also by “other nobility and the lieges there,” on 28th January, 1581.  (Calderwood’s Hist. Ch. Scot.; Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 268.)

  1582.—THE REGALITY COURT OF DUNFERMLINE.—Previous to the Reformation (q560), this Regality Court appears to have been held in the Chapter-house of the Abbey, the records of which of this Court; perhaps it was in abeyance during the first twenty years after the Reformation.  The oldest extant volume of the Court begins with 1582.

  FEU-TACK of the Teinds of Pittencrieff and Clune given to John Wemyss of Pittencrieff.  (Regist. Tacks and Teinds, MS., Gen. Regist. House, Edin.)

  FREMELINODUNUM.—The celebrated George Buchanan published his History of Scotland in 1582.  In his History he gives “Fermelinodunum” as the Latin name of Dunfermline, with slight alterations in the orthography.  Such a designation is used by various authors.  Buchanan is the first authors.  Buchanan is the first author who used it.  (See also Annals, dates 1584 and 1589.  In the same work he designates Dunfermline Civitas Dunfermilingensis, “the City of Dunfermline.”  Alluding to the Church or Abbey, Buchanan says—“Templum in CIVITATE Dunfermilingensi”—that is, “The Church in the City of Dunfermline.”  (See Annals, dates 1578, 1589, 1714, 1856, and Addenda.)

  1583.—REGALITY COURT and “Andro Stewart, Vagabond.”—Andrew Stewart, “vagabond,” was tried by the Regality Court of Dunfermline and sentenced to be “brunt on the richt schoulder with the common markin yron of Dunfermling,” the “scourged and banisched.”  (Dunf. Regality Records for 1583; Dal. Mon. Antiq. pp. 19, &c.)

  ROBER PITCAIRN, Commendator of Dunfermline, Imprisoned in Lochleven Castle.—Robert Pitcairn, Commendator of Dunfermline, was concerned in “the Raid of Ruthven.”  He was arrested for treason this year, and imprisoned in Lochleven Castle.  Calderwood, referring to this, says of Pitcairn, “Coming to Court, and suspecting no harm, he wes carried captive to Lochlevin.”

  RELEASE OF PITCAIRN.—“The Abbot of Dunfermline (the Commendator) was sett at livertie out of Lochleven Castell, upon the 23rd day of September, upon caution to remain in Dunfermline, and five or six myle about it, under the pain of ten thousand pounds.”  (Calder. Ch. Scot. p. 141.)

  FLIGHT OF PITCAIRN TO ENGLAND.—Sir James Melvill states that “Pitcairn, in order to secure the favour of Colonel Stuart, then Captain of the Guard, gave him a purse of gold at 4 pounds the piece, which pieces the Colonel distributed to so many of the guard, who bored them, and set them like targets upon their knapsacks, and the purse was borne on a spear-point like an ensign.”  Shortly after this, according to Spottiswoode, he fled to England, and returned to Dunfermline.  (Ac. Senat. Col. Just. Pp. 139, 140.)

  KING JAMES VI. VISITS DUNFERMLINE.—“The Kings’s Majesty took a resolution to pass out of Edinburhg on the 20th day of May, 1583.  He passed that night at Linlithgow, where he remained till the 1st June, and then went to Dunfermling, accompanied by the Earls of Argle, Angus, Montrose, Bothwell, Marischal, and Marr.”  On 2nd June, Colonel Stewart, ambassador, returned from England, and presented himself to his Majesty at Dunfermling, where his highness was for the time.  (Moyse’s Memoirs, pp. 78, 79.)

  1584.—ROBERT PITCAIRN, Commendator of Dunfermline Abbey, returns to Scotland.—It would appear that Pitcairn, shortly after his arrival in England, went to Flanders, and when there, finding himself getting seriously unwell, he, by petition, was allowed to return to Scotland, Limekilns, near Dunfermline, being allotted to him as his place of residence.  Calderwood, in his History of Scotland, notes, “Upon the 12th day of September (1584) the Abbot (Commendator) of Dunfermling came out of Flanders sick.  With the Colonel’s wife, he obtained license to remain in Lynekylnes, near Dunfermline,”  Shortly after his arrival in Limekilns he became worse, and, to be near medical treatment, he was allowed to remove to his official residence in Dunfermline.

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—George Halket, Esq., of Pitfirrane (“the Laird of Pitfirrnae”), ˙

  THE PEST, OR PLAGUE, IN DUFNERMLINE.—The pest or plague, was in Dunfermline from September 15th, 1584, to May 20th, 1585; a great many in the town and parish die.  This scourge appears to have visited a great many places in Scotland this year.  It raged with severity in towns north of the Forth.  (Histories of Scotland; Burgh Records. &c.)

  ROBERT PITCAIRN, the First Commendator of Dunfermline, Archdeacon of St. Andrews, and Secretary of State for Scotland, died, aged 64, on the 18th October, 1584, and was interred in the north-east angle of the nave of the Abbey.  (Spottis. Hist. Ch. Scot.)  From preceding notes referring to him, it will be seen that he was a very important personage in his day.  His later years, however, were clouded with many trials.  On his tomb in the Abbey nave is the following inscription:--


1584 ˙ 18 ˙ OCTOB ˙ ÆTATIS ˙ 64.


  To Lord Robert Pitcairn, Abbot of Dunfermline, Archdeacon of St. Andrews, Royal Legate, and his Majesty’s Private Secretary.  Here is interred, in a plain urn, the hero Robert Pitcairn, the hope and pillar of his country, whom virtue, gravity worthy of a generous heart, and fidelity with true peity, adorn.  After various changes of life, he now, with the mass of his body left behind, proceeds in spirit to Elysium; for he died in the year 1585, on the 18th October, aged 64.


“In this small grave here lies his country’s hope,
Robert Pitcairn, its confidence and prop;
Grave, gen’rous, loyal, virtuous, and true,
With all the gifts, kind stars him did endue;
From various fleetings of this life, his clay
Left here, his soul to heaven made its way.”
Monteith’s Theatre of Mortality, p. 209.

As the pest, or plague, was raging in Dunfermline at this period, it is probable that he, in his frail state of health, was attacked by the scourge, and may thus have hastened his death.

  COMMENDATORSHIP OF DUNFERMLINE ABBEY.—Through the influence of the Earl of Arran, Patrick Gray (the Master of Gray) was appointed Commendator of Dunfermline Abbey (Second Commendator.)  (Maitland’s Hist. Scot. vol. ii. p. 1180; Chalmers’s Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 202.)

  1585.—COMMENDATOR OF DUNFERMLINE ABBEY.—The Master of Gray’s election to the Commendatorship of Dunfermline Abbey was, by a Crown grant, and confirmed and ratified by Parliament in December, 1585.  (Acts if Parliament, vol. ii. p. 412; Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 202.)

  THE KING and Two Danish Ambassadors in Dunfermline.—“Upon the 12th day of June there arrived in the Firth of Forth tow ambassadors from the King of Denmark, equal in commission, and a third, who was called a doctor of the law, three very proper and will-attired men after their own country fashion.  They landed at Leith upon the day thereafter, being Sunday, and were in train four score persons or thereby, and about twelve of them adorned with golden chains.  Upon the 14th day of the said month, his Majesty, as he had appointed before, passed from Holyrood House to Dunfermling, desiring that the said Danish ambassadors should meet him there, where they should have presence and hearing of their embassy.  The English ambassador accompanied his Majesty to Dunfermling.  Within four or five days thereafter, the Danish ambassadors had audience of his Majesty in the great hall of Dunfermling, where, in the hearing of the whole persons there present, they delivered their commission in the Latin tongue, the purpose of which was to desire the redemption of Orkney and Zetland, which they alleged to be their King’s and mortgaged under a reversion containing a certain sum of Money, which they offered to lay down presently for loosing of the same.  Within a certain space thereafter, at St. Andrews, his Majesty, with the advice of his Council, gave them this answer:  That he had no certainty whether their proposition was of truth or not; but that he should search out and enquire the truth of the same, and return his answer by one of his own people, whom he should send to Denmark against the spring of the year,” &c.  The ambassadors’ errand proved null and void.

  KING JAMES AGAIN IN DUNFERMLIINE.—The King returned from St. Andrews and Falkland some time before the end of June.  “About the last of June the King’s Majesty past from Dunfermling to Falkland, and from thence to St. Andrews.”  (Moyse’s “Memoirs of the Affairs of Scotland,” pp. 96, 97, 98.)

  THE PLAGUE, which had been “raging in Dunfermline” for the last eight months, had disappeared, and the town was reported to “clean of the pest.”

  A MEETING OF THE CLERGY, which had been ordained to be held in Dunfermline, Frustrated; Town Ports Shut, &c.—Calderwood, in his History of the Church of Scotland, pp. 186, 187, states that this year, “a Parliament was appointed to be holden (in Dunfermline) in December.  Warning was made by the Moderator of the former Assembly to the brethren and the ministrie, to convene in Dunfermline before the time appointed by the Parliament. There was no other town at that time so convenient by reason of the pest in the principal burghs, which began to relent after the return of the banished lords and ministers.  The brethren repaired from all parts to Dunfermline upon the 23rd November; but the Ports of the town were shut by direction of the Laird of Pitfirrane, Provost at the time, alleging that he had the King’s express command to do so.  The brethren , so many as might conveniently, met in the fields, and appointed to meet again in Linlithgow before the time of the Parliament.”

  Connected with this “act of the Provost,” there is a curious note in Melville’s Diary, pp. 151, 152, viz.:--“About the end of November (1585) warning was made, according to the order of the Kirk, be the last Moderator athort the country, to the brethren to “conveen’ in General Assembly (conform to custom before the Parliament at Dunfermline, na vther meit town being free of the pest.  The brethren frequentlie furth of all parts resorting thither, the ports of the town was closet vpon them be the Provost for the time, the Laird of Pitfirren, alleging he had the King’s command so to do; therefore, the brethren commending that wrang to God, the righteous Judge, the righteous Judge, convenit sa mony as might in the fields, and comforting themselves mutually in God, appointed to meet in Linlithgow certain days before the Parliament.   But God within few years peyit that laird and provost his hire for that piece of service, when, for the halding out of His servants from keiping His Assemblie in that toun, He made his awin house to spew him out; for on a day, in the morning, he was fallen out of a window of his awin house of Pitfirren, three or four house hight; whether by a melancholy despair, casting himself, or by violence of unkind guests lodged within, God knaws; for being taken up, his speech was not so sensible as to declare it, but within few hours after deit.”

  TIME OF OPENING AND SHUTTING THE TOWN PORTS, OR YETTS.—In the foregoing, notice is taken of the shutting of the ports of Dunfermline, to keep out from the town and intended meeting of the clergy.  The usual routine of the daily opening and closing of the town ports may here be noted.  The town ports were opened in the morning by two sergeants or officers at five o’clock, and shut in the evening by the same officials, on the ringing of the curfew bell at eight o’clock.  The ringing of the curfew bell continued to be observed in Dunfermline until 1844, when it was disused, and began to be rung at six o’clock evening, to suit factory hours.  The curfew bell was as institution in Dunfermline for some hundreds of years.

  1586.—PATRICK GRAY, Commendator of Dunfermline, and Sir Robert Melville, were sent as ambassadors to England to “intercede for the life of Queen Mary” (the Queen-Mother).  They left on Dec, 18th.  (Mary “was tried and convicted of conspiracy against the Queen of England” on October 14th, 1586, at Fotheringay Castle.)  These worthies returned on February 7th, declaring that they had no assurance of the Queen’s life, &c.

  “THE BUIK WITH ANE QUHYT COVERING, BEGYNNAND 1586.”—Such is the title of one of the Abbey Books of Charters, in MS. Vol. ii. (Print. Regist. Dunf. p. 484.)

  1587.—BANQUET AT DUNFERMLINE.—King James VI., in April this year, was entertained at a banquet in Dunfermline, given by the Earl of Huntly.  Several matters happened uncongenial to the King (at this banquet), which irritated him much.  Moyse, in his Memoirs, says:--“The King, being mightily irritated, took sudden journey out of Dunfermling to Burleigh.  Four or five days afterwards he came back to Dunfermling, and next day passed to Kinneil,” &c.

  REGALITY COURT and “Hew Watt, Vagabond.”—Hugh, Watt, vagabond, was tried by the Regality Court of Dunfermline for stealing cattle.  He was found guilty, and condemned “to be haget to the deith on Baldrie’s  gallows, or ellis drownit at wil of the judges.”  (Dunf. Regist. Court Rec. 1587.)  Baldridge Gallows was “a stationary one,” and “aye ready.”  It occupied a spot called “Gallows Bank,” near or on the site of the present school, about a mile north of Dunfermline.  The lairds of these days had private gallows.  Hew must have stolen the cattle from the Laird of Baldridge, and on being condemned, was hanged on Baldrie’s” private gallows.  (Reg. Rec.)  

  PATRICK GRAY Dismissed from the Commendatorship of Dunfermline Abbey, in consequence of his alleged treason in the case of Queen Mary, and other malpractices.  He was Second Commendator of Dunfermline.  (Moyse’s “Memoirs of the Affairs of Scotland, &e.)

  GEORGE GORDON, Earl of Huntly, obtained letters patent, under the Great Seal, granting to him the dissolved Abbacy of Dunfermline, 26th May, 1587 (Wood’s Peerage, p. 650), as successor to the disgraced Master of Gray, &c.  Calderwood, in his Hist. Ch. Scot.  vol. iv. p. 661, says—“The Abbacie of Dunfermline givin to the Erle of Huntlie, to the which he resorting bringeth with him flocks of Papists, Jesuits, and excommunicated Papists, such as Mr. James Gordoun, Mr. William Crichtoun, the Laird of Fentrie,” &c.

  PATRICK GRAY, Late Commendator of Dunfermline, Banished.—The late Commendator was accused of various points of treason –of consenting to the death on Mary, &c.—in consequence of which he was committed on 20th August, 1587, to the Castle of Edinburgh.  Afterwards, when tried, his life and estates were declared to be forfeited.  His life was spared on condition of his banishing himself to “foreign parts.”  He went to Italy, and resided there for several years.  He succeeded his father in the Peerage in 1609, and died in 1612.  (Wood’s Peerage, p. 671; Moyse’s Mem. p. 123, &c.)

  HENRY PITCAIRN elected Commendator of the Remanent Abbacie, pro temp., with the consent of such of the Convent as remained.  (Murray’s Laws and Acts of Parliament.)  This is the Fourth and last Commendator of Dunfermline Abbacy.  (See Annals Dunf. date 1593.)

  THE RIGHTS AND TITLES of “The Master of Gray” to Dunfermline Abbacy Annulled.—An Act “annulling the richts and title of Dunfermline, maid be the Master of Gray,” passed in Parliament, held at Edinburgh, 29th July, 1587.

  THE TEMPORALITIES OF DUNFERMLINE ABBEY, WITH A FEW EXCEPTIONS, ANNEXED TO THE CROWN.—King James VI., and his Three Estates of Parliament, finding that there was not a sufficient revenue to support the dignity of the Crown, and considering how much lands, &c., the Crown had in former day s bestowed on the Church, “resolved to strip the Chruch in general of most of its lands, and add them to the Crown.”  An Act to this effect was this year passed by the Estates,  That portion which refers to Dunfermline spoliation is as follows:--

  “The landes and lordshippes of Mussel-burhg quhilks of before pertained to the Abbacie of Dunfermling; quhilks landes and lordshippes are disposed to diverse persons, as their particular infeftment bears:  And als excepted thehail remenent landes of the Abbay of Dunfermling, declared as zit to abide with the said Abbay, in the same estait quharin they then were, and are not comprehended in the annexation foresaid, but to remain with the said Abbay quhil forder order be taken:  As alswa excepted fourth of the said annexation of Kirk landes to the Crown.”  (Murray’s “Laws and Acts of Parliament,”vol. i. p. 524.)

The exceptions—

  “And mair attour, it is speciallie provided, that notwithstanding of the temporalities of benefices to the Crown, zit the Conventual brethren of the Abbay of Dunfermling sall na wayes be prejudged and hurt anent the Livings, Portions, Pensions, Zairds, and dewties of the said Abbay:  Bot that they and everie ane of them may peaceablie bruik joyis and uplift their portions, pensions, livings, zairds, and dewties of the same Abbay, during thair lifetime:  Conforme to thair giftes, special assignation thereof, and to OUR SOVERAINE LORD’S ratification and confirmationthereupon in all poyntes.—Edin. 29 July, 1587.”  (Murray’s “Laws and Acts of Parliament,” vol. i. p. 253.)

  Note.—The Earl of Lauderdale obtained at this period the superiority of the of the town of Musselburgh, when dismembered from Dunfermline Abbacy by the General Annexation Act.  In this family’s possession it remained until 1709, when it was purchased by the Duke of Buccleuch.

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