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Annals of Dunfermline
A.D. 1701 - 1801 - Part 4

   1724.—THE TOWN GUARD “A NOISY AND RECKLESS SET.”—“18 Jan. 1724:  The said day John Reid, mason, gave in a petition to the council, representing he and his tenents above ye guardhouse in ye meall mercat were much incommoded by the noise made by the guards kept yr and yt lately a gun had accidentally been discharged and ye ball had gone up through ye floor.  The council taking ys to consideration they in order to prevent ye like inconvenience in time coming ordered ye guardhouse to be plaistered and yt it be rammed closs with betwixt ye plaister and the floor.”  (Burgh Rec.)

  THE SUB-COMMITTEE OF BURGHS MEET IN DUNFERMLINE.—“23RD Sept. 1724:  The sd day ye council ordained the baillies, convener and Capt. Halket to wait on  ye sub-committee of burrows now sitting here, and propose to ym some queries now drawn up and cause ye thesaurer pay yr dinner.   (Burgh Records.)  At this meeting an explanation of the Act or Set, or Decreet-Arbitral, was given by the sub-committee to the magistrates, &c., as pronounced by the Annual Committee of the Convention of Royal Burghs, on 13th July, 1724.  In accordance with the Decreet-Arbitral, the Town Council were elected as follow:--

  On the Thursday immediately preceding the term of Michaelmas, the ordinary council convene and appoint the Incorporations to assemble, and each of them to make a leet, or list of four, of the most sufficient craftsman of their respective crafts, burgesses and freemen of the burgh, bearing scot and lot there; and to deliver these lets, the same day to the provost, or eldest magistrate in the place for the time.

  On the Friday, the leet of four is laid before the council, who elect two out of each, and remit the leet of two to each incorporation, appointing them to elect one of the two as their deacon for the ensuing year.

  On the Saturday, the Town Council elect two new merchant councilors, and two craftsmen, either as two new trades; councilors, or in the character of two old ones.  Immediately after this, the eight newly-chosen deacons are presented to council as duly elected; such of the old deacons as have not been re-elected are removed, and the new ones admitted members of council. 

  On the Monday, the ordinary and extraordinary members of council, consisting of twenty-six, elect out of the merchants of the council (exclusively of the two new merchant councilors) a provost, two baillies, a dean of guild and a treasurer; and old provost, two old baillies, and old dean of guild, and an old treasurer, for the ensuing year.  Then two merchant councilors, who have not been elected to any office or character, and two old trades; councilors, are removed in order that the ordinary administration of the affairs of the burgh may be vested in a council of twenty two persons only.  (See Burgh Records for such elections.)  They are very curious; the lets are reckoned by strokes of the pen, and in whole “resemble the teeth of a comb,” as a writer has remarked.  It will be observed that there are duplicate provosts, duplicate baillies, &c.  Such “duplicates” existed long before the present Act (Decreet-Arbitral), and it is not improbable that the title of “Lord Provost” arose out of such duplicates—thus the new provost (head provost_ would be the dominus, or ruling provost; hence Lord Provost.  The Act of Decreet-Arbitral continued in force from 1724 till 1833, when it was superseded by the Municipal Act of the Reform Bill of 1833.  In Dunfermline there were the following incorporated trades given in their usual order, viz., Smiths, Weavers, Wrights, Tailors, Shoemakers, Baxters, Masons, and Fleshers.  (See Fernie’s Hist. Dunf. pp. 23, 24.)

  ELECTION OF PROVOST, &c.—“28 Sept. 1714:  The sd day of ye sds magistrates and town councilors, ordinar and extraordinary, did, and hereby doe elect and choose ye sd Peter Halket provost; Mr. John Walker and Wm. Wilson, masterer, baillies; Robt. Walker, dean of gild; John Wilson merchant, theasurer; Capt. Peter Halket, old provost; Jerom Cowie and David Sands, old baillies; John Hutton, old dean of gild; and Alex. Veatch, old theasurer: &c.  (Burgh Records.)  It is probable that when the new or head provost was absent, the next in dignity—the old provost—would take the chair and preside. 

  1725.—WEAVING FRAUDS, &C.—“13TH Feb., 1725:  The which day ye magistrates and town council taking to yr consideration ye great frauds committed in making of linen damask, dornack, tyckings, and Congall’s contrar to and in manifest contempt of ye many excellent laws for regulating ye same, and yt these frauds must of necessity ruin so profitable a munugacture to ye great loss of  ye nation in gnrall, of this place in partular if a speedy remedy be not provided.  Therefore ye magistrates and town council unanimously resolved and agreed yt for preventing and obviating these frauds in time coming, we will this year and in all times coming put ye laws into execution agt all who shall commit such frauds or abuses either by working unsufficient cloath or of ill sorted yarn, or by bleaching ye sd cloath or yarn qrof it is made with lyme,” &c.  (Burgh Records.)

  THE MALT TAX.—An old MS. Note states that “the malt tax bill was ill receivit be malsterers of Dunfemrling, who were to a man against it.”  It was also unfavourably received in most other burghs.

  THE MINISTERS OF DUNFERMLINE AND THE MARQUIS OF TWEEDDALE.—The Minister of Dunfermline opposed the right of the Marquis of Tweeddale to appoint a Reader to Dunfermline Church.  The controversy between them went to so great a length as to prevent the dispensation of the Lord’s Supper this year.  The case was taken to the Court of Session, when a decreet was given in favour of the Marquis’s claim.  The ministers and the Marquis were unfriendly until 1734 (nine years!) when a reconciliation took place.  (Kirk Ses. Rec.)

  FREEMAN WEAVER.—In the Dunfermline Weaver’s MS. Minute Book, under date August 25, 1725, there is the following entry:--“The which day David Moreson younger was made freeman with the weavers, and gave his oath of fidelity as use and custom is.”  (See An. Dunf. dates 1596 and 1683 for Note on MS. Minute Book.)

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—Sir Peter Halket was re-elected Provost, 27th September, 1725.  (Burgh Records.)

  STEREOTYPING.—The art of stereotyping, or the casting in metal of pages of type, was invented about this period by William Ged of Baldridge, near Dunfermline.  Ged at an early age left Bladridge for Edinburgh, where he served an apprenticeship to the jewellery business, and afterwards commenced jeweler on his own account, “with a strong predilection for Printing.”  The casts of two of his pages of Sallust are to be seen in the Antiquarian Museum, Edinburgh.  (See Museum Catal. P. 81, No. 39; and Cham. Trad. Edin. For notice of his supposed sisters, see An. Dunf. date 1758.)

  THE DRINKING CUSTOMS AT ELECTIONS.—11th Dec. 1725:  “The sd day ye counsel resolved and enacted yt in all tims coming yr be no drinking out ye common good on ye seall days of ye elections excepting allennarly on ye day yt ye magistrates are elected, on qlk day ye council may spend twelve pounds Scots and no more.  And ordains ye head court hereafter to be kept on  ye sd munday on qlk ye magistrates are chosen.”  (Burgh Records.) 

  1726.—BUTTER AND CHEESE—Arbitrary Laws.—“30th April:  The sd day ye magistrates and town council statute and ordaind yt no person nor persons (not inhabitants) of ye burgh presume in any time coming to sell any butter or cheese on fair-days, or on ye weekly mercat days, viz., Wednesday and Friday; and also yt no inhabitant buy butter or cheese on ye sd days except at ye tron ye ordinar mercat place, under ye pain of two pounds Scots, for said failing and yrin buy or sell, toties quoties, and intimates this to be intimate by touk of drum.”  (Burgh Records.)

  FALL OF THE EAST GABLE OF THE CHOIR OF THE ABBEY.—According to two MS. Notes, “the east gable of the Choir of the Abbey fell into the Syther-Kirkyard in 1726 in the harvest time.”  After the destruction of the Choir in 1560 the area came to be used as a burying-ground; and as the Psaltery, or Singing, had been conducted on this area “in the days of the Abbey,” it received the name of “the Psaltery”; afterwards contracted to “ Salter,” and , in later times, “Sither-Kirkyard,” which was its name as late as 1821.  The name is now worn out. 

  LITERATURE.—A small work was published this year, by Rev. Ralph Erskine, entitled, “The Happy Congregation; or, the Gathering of the People to Shiloh.”  Edin., 12mo, 1726

  PROVOST OF DUNFEMRLINE.—“26th Sept., 1726:  The said day ye magistrates and town councillers, ordinary and extraordinary, re-elected Sir Peter Halket of Pitfirrane provost.”  (Burgh Records.)

  “CHURCH BELLS CRACK’D.”—An old Note states that the “bell-stocks gave way at the end of this year, and the bells falling with them, broke them, and so rendered them useless.”

  MASON LODGE.—A “Ludge of Dunfemrline Masons was holden by David Bald, Deacon, and Robert Bald, Warden, and remnant brethren, in Wm. Flockhart’s house, Dunfermline, 27 Dec., 1726, regarding Sundries.”  (Mason’s Register.)

  1727.—DEATH OF ELIZABETH HALKET, reputed Authoress of the Ballad, “Hardy-Knute.”—She was married in 1696 to Sir Henry Wardlaw of Pitreavie, and according to Fernie, was interred in the Pitreavie burying-vault, on the south east angle of the Auld Kirk.  (See Fernie’s Hist. Dunf. p. 105; also, An. Dunf. dates 1263, 1616, 1702, 1719, &c.)

  It would appear from the following extract from an old title-deed, which the writer in 1855 received from the late Mr. Souter, writer, Dunfermline, the Elizabeth Halket at one time (during the latter period of her widowhood) resided at the head of the Cross Wynd, Dunfermline:--“All and haill that tenement of land and houses within the libertie of ye burgh of Dunfermlyne, upon the east side of the Wynde, called ye Cross Wynde, purchased by the sayd deceasit Robert Anderson from David Wilsone, which was formerly ruinous, and lately rebuilt by the deceasit Robert Anderson, which tenement was lately possessed by Dame Elizabeth Halket, relict of Sir Henry Wardlaw of Pitreavie.”  Date of title-deed, 30th June, 1736.  This talented lady, for some years previous to her decease, resided in an old house which stood in the north-west corner, at the top of Cross Wynd.  After her decease in 1727, the old property was purchased by Mr. Robert Anderson, who removed the ruinous house, and built the present one on its site.  There is stone on the front wall of this (second) house, which bears the initials, “R. A.—E. M.” and date “1727,” being the initials of Robert Anderson and that of his wife, and the date when the present house was built, as noted in the foregoing title-deed.  “Probably Elizabeth Halket died in the old house, top of Cross Wynd.”

  DRUMMER OF PIPER DISMISSED.—“16TH Jan., 1727:  The council considering yt ye drummer and pyper were negligent in their office, and went rarely through ye toun notwithstanding seavl reproofs, yrfor deprived ym both of yr offices.”

  PROCLAMATION OF GEORGE II.—“King George II. Was by the Provost, Magistrates, and council proclaimed King of Great Britain, &c., at the Cross, June 25th.”  (Old MS.)

  A HAUTBOY APPOINTED INSTEAD OF A PIPER.—The Town Council and inhabitants appear to have been fond of noisy music in those days—daily ringing of bells, “tuck of drum,” and groaning bagpipes.  Now, here is another functionary elected to make a great noise, viz., “Houtboy.”  “24th July, 1727:  The sd day ye counsel agreed yt ye toun shall have no pyper But a hautboy in place yr oh, and elected Wm. Ferguson to by ye touns hautboy, and yt he have three pounds sterling of yearly cellary, to commence fra ye 24th day of June last.”  (Burgh Rec.)

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—Sir Peter Halket of Pitfirrane was re-elected Provost.  (Burgh Records, Oct. 2, 1727.)

  SCHOOL KEPT IN THE QUEEN’S HOUSE.—At this period Mr. Francis Paterson kept “a promiscuous school for boys and girls in the large room above the gate-way of Queen Ann of Denmark’s House, adjacent to the west side of the Kirk Steeple.”  (MS. Note.)

  1728.—ACT IN FAVOUR OF INCORPORATION OF TAILORS—“10TH June, 1728:  The council hereby grant to the corporation of Tailors the priviledge of exacting six pennies Scots for each chapman’s stand in the liblerties of the town, in which there shall be any tailor work exposed to sale, Declaring always that made gloves are not comprehended in this Act, and for which the Corporation can exact no box penney.”  (Burgh Records.)

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—Sir Peter Halket of Pitfirrane re-elected provost.  (Burgh Records, 30th Sept. 1728.)

  THE CHURCH UNDERGOING REPAIRS.—“In 1728, the church, the steeple, and the church bells, being in need of repairs, estimates of the expenses were given in to the heritors and town council.  James Noble, slater, undertook to make the roof of the kirk sufficient, with blue and grey slates, for 58 merks Scots.  Other estimates were accepted (sums not mentioned) for repairing the point of the steeple, the ceiling above the area of the kirk, the porch-door, and the loft below the bells.”—“October 13th, 1728:  This day the cock was set upon the steeple by the hands of David Inglis Wright.”  “October 28th:  The repairs being finished (except the bells), and visited by neutral tradesmen, were found sufficient.  The tradesmen’s accounts were all paid, when the repairs were approved of, the expenses amounting to £647 is. 10d. Scots (near £54 Sterg.)  The two bells being both crakt, were cas anew at Edinburgh.  The big bell (Queen Anne’s donation) weighed 14 cwt..”  (MS. Journal of David Inglis: also, vide Mercer’s Hist. Dunf. pp. 179-180.)

  The following inscription, in raised Roman letters, is round the outside of “the bell mouth.”


  The barge bell is ornamented with a scroll; the small bell has the representation of a boar-hunt on it—each boar being pursued by two mena dn dogs, while a man stands in front with a long pole or spear in his hand pointing to the hunt.  Dimensions of the Bells.—The large bell, on which the clock-hammer strikes the hour, is 2 feet 9 ½ inches over the mouth (8 ¾ feet full in circumference.)  The height of this bell is 2 feet.  The small bell is 2 feet 7 ½  inches over the mouth (or 8 ¼ feet circumference), and is also 2 feet high.  (An. Dunf. date 1720.) 

  THE MASON’S REGISTER.—In the Masons’ Register of this date there are the two following entries:--“Payed to Wm. Flockhart, St. John’s Day, 1728, £15 18s. Scots; item, payed the Clerk’s fee sd day, £4--£19 18s.  (Oldest MS. Of Mason’s Register.)

  SULD KIRK STEEPLE MEASUREMENTS, &c.—In David Inglis’s MS. Journal are the following measures of objects connected with the Auld Kirk at this period, viz.—“The height of the steeple from the bottom to the top, is 198 foots; the length of the stalk, or prick upon which the cock stands, is fifteen foot long; four foots within the steeple; eleven foots above the steeple—viz., from the point of the steeple to the first glove, three foots; from the second small globe to the iron cross two foots and an half; from the iron cross to the cock, two foots and an half.  The cock is just a yard long, and one foot and half thick; so that from and an half foot; This added to the 190 foots, makes the steeple from the ground to the upper part of the tope of the steeple, is 24 foots, besides the stalk.  The little bell holes are five foots high, two foots wide.”  Note.—From the foundation of the Steeple to the top point of stone work is only 156 feet; these measures are too much—they are to each other as 156 to 200 1/2.  (See Mercer’s Hist. Dunf. p. 180.)

  1729.—NO COMMISSIONER TO BE SENT TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY.—The council agreed that both the acts of Council anent the electing of Robert Blackwood and James Thomson, and resolved to send no Commissioner to the General Assembly this year, and the said two acts were accordingly expunged in presence of the council.  (Burgh Records; 19th March, 1729.)

  MUSIC MASTER AND READER.—“27th Nov., 1729:  Which day the council considering that the offices of Music Master and Reader in the church are both vacant, and that it will be for the interest of the town that these two offices be united in the person of one man.  Also, understanding that the Marquis of Tweeddale is willing to present any person that the council is satisfied with and agreeable to the kirk-session.  The council appointed the two baillies and Charles Chalmer to wait upon the Kirk-session and intreat them to concur with the town to find out a man that is sufficiently qualified for both these offices, and that they would join with the town council in desiring the Marquis of Tweeddale to allow the town to advertise it in the Gazett.  (Burgh Records.)

  TREES PLANTED IN THE VICINITY OF THE PALACE.—According to an old note, trees were planted on the north of the Sheeling Hill (Heugh Mills), in front of the west wall of the Palace, and all the way north to the Tower Hill; also many were planted on the old floor of the Palace.

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—Sir Peter Halket of Pitfirrane re-elected Provost.  (Burgh Records; 29th Sept., 1729.)

  THE GUILDRY’S COLOURS.—“At a meeting of Guildry held in October, 1729, it was remarked that their colours are entirely torn and useless; they appoint the Dean of Guild and David Morris to buy a stand of new colours of silk.”  (Guildry Records.)

  ANCIENT SOCIETY OF GARDENERS.—Thomas, Lord Erskine, elected Chancellor of the Society.  (Gardner’s Records.)

    1730.—THE SCHOLARS’ LOFT, &C.—“The council orders the Dean of Guild, John Scotland, and William Flockart to meet with Mr. Bayne and Mr. Hart, and commune with them about their drawing rent for the Seats of the Scholars loft, and anent their not allowing the Scholars to sit according to their seniority.”  (Burgh Records, 12th Jan. 1730.)

  “EXAMINABLE PERSONS IN THE PARISH.”—The ministers of Dunfermline, the Reverends Ralph Erskine and Wardlaw, computed that in 1730 there were 6000 examinable persons in the parish, and made efforts, without success, to have two other churches in different parts of the parish.  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 431.)   This appears to be a large number of examinable persons in the parish in1730; there were only 5000 persons in the parish in 1713.

  GRASS GROWING ON THE HIGH STREET.—An old MS. Note states that in 1730 “the ‘hie gaite’ was o’ergrown with grass in some places, and that ‘kie’ and hourses were to be seen feeding thereon.”  Fernie, at p.135 of Hist. Dunf. has a note somewhat similar.  He says, “In 1791 or 2 some of the inhabitants recollected the time when the cadgers, or strangers who sold fish, were in the practice of allowing their horses to graze along the sides of the High Street, eastward of the Cross.”

  A COAL AND CAUSEY MEALL DISPUTE.—During a great part of this year “there raged a coal and causey toll war between the council of Dunf. and the Laird of Garvock.”  (See Burgh Records, April till August, 1730.)

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—Sir Peter Halket of Pitfirrane was re-elected Provost.  (Burgh Records, 28th Sept., 1730.)

  NEW ROAD TO KIRKCALDY.—“The council considering that seeing the town had got the liberty of a way along the south side of their parks, and on the east side so far as Garvock’s ground goes, they therefore resolved to turn the high way along the south side of the town green; and because it cannot be a good way unless it be mended, they empower the baillies to employ men to call rubbish justices to peace to get the sd way declaired the high way from the town to Kirkcaldy.”  (Burgh Records, 7th Oct., 1730.)  Previous to this period the high way to Kirkcaldy “went along from the foot of the Witch-loan by the north of the town green.”

  FRENCH PRINT OF DUNFERMLINE.—a French published view of Dunfermline was issued this year, entitled, ”Vue de la Villa et de l’Abbaye Dunfermline,” ie,. “View of the Town and the Abbey of Dunfermline,”  We have a copy of this rare view.  It appears to have been reduced from Sleizer’s “View of Dunfermline.”  (See Annals, date 1690; also Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. ii. p. 124, for a view which was engraven from this one.)

  MORTIFICIATIONS—Charity Distributed.—“6th Dec., 1730:  The said day the council distribut in charity the annual rent of the following mortifications:--David Brown’s, 200 merks; Wm. Brown’s, 100 merks, John Honeyman’s, 100 merks; the town’s half of Mr. Graham’s, 600 merks, 300 merks; Wm. Brown’s £35 Scots; John Walker’s, 50 merks—for one year, to Martinmas, 1730, being twenty-six pounds sixteen shillings Scots, with £30 Scots as a part of the Music Master’s cellary, extending to £56.16shillings Scots.”  Although it is understood that many of these mortifications are now unknown, yet it is pleasant to record the names of the worthy benefactors.  (Burgh Records.)

  1731.—THE KIRK BELLS, &C.—“The Council appointed the baillies, Dean of Guild, Conveener, and Clerk to wait upon the presbytery this day and consent to the Stent to be laid on by the presbytery for what yet is resting of the price of the bells and reparations of the Kirk.”  (Burgh Records, 24th March, 1731; see also An. Dunf. date 1728.)

  STATIONER.—There was a stationer in Dunfermline as early as this period, named Henry Moubray—the first on record in Dunfermline.  (Guildry Records, June, 1731.)

  BLEACHFIELD—The King’s Park.—“9th July, 1731:  Which day it was represented to the council by Thomas Cusine, Deacon of the Weavers, that the manufacturers of linen Cloath in this town were under a great disadvantage by reason of a want of a bleatching field, and that the fittest place about the town for that was the King’s Park [the Abbey Park.]  The council having considered the said representation, appointed Baillie Wilsone to write to the Marquis of Tweeddale in name of the council and desire that his Lordship would be pleased to allow the town as much ground in that park as will serve for a bleatching field, and that his Lordship would use his interest with the tenent to quit his tack of that piece of ground, and appoints the baillies to represent  the sd affair to the trustees that they would use their interest with the Marquis to procure it.”  (Burgh Rec.)

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—Sir Peter Halket of Pitfirrane was re-elected Provost.  (Burgh Records, 27th Sept., 1731.)

  EXHIBITION OF A SCRIPTURAL PAINTING.—Several notes state that “a man came to Dunfermline in the summer of this year with a very large picture of the Saviour on the Cross, and charged one penny each to see it.  Great crowds went to see it in the large room of the Queen’s house during the week it was exhibited.”  Probably this may have been a picture which had been hung up above the high altar of some great church before 1559.

  ESCAPE OF PRISONERS FROM THE TOLBOOTH, &C.—“The council considering that of late severall prisoners have escaped out of the tollbooth, and the other low prisons—They empower the Baillies to cause make a machine fit for securing prisoners, and to employ smiths to make it.”  (Burgh Records, 7th Dec., 1731.)  This machine was made a kind of iron cage, which became a terror to the law breakers and the unruly. 

  POTATOES.—An old note states that potatoes were introduced into the west of Fife this year, and that they were first set in a garden on the south side of the Netherton.

  1732.—EXECUTION OF JAMES RANSAY AT TOP OF WITCHLOAN ROAD.—James Ramsay of Lambhill in Perthshir, his brother Andrew, his sister Helen and her husband, Andrew Hutson, in Pliverhall, of Drumtuthell, near Dunfermline, were tried by the Regality Court of Dumfermline in February, 1732, for cattle stealing, &c.  The Judges at the trial were James Dewar of Lassodie, Captain Peter Halket, younger of Pitfirrane, and Henry Wellwood of Garvock, and a jury of fifteen.  The following notes regarding Ramsay’s apprehension and execution are from the Burgh Records:-

            “James and Andrew Ramsay, after a long and violent resistance, were apprehended with a hut in Pitconochie, dean-park, in the barony of Pitfirrane,  The place where the hut stood, on a small eminence, was much covered with whins and broom to screen it from observation.  In the hut there were found a quantity of straw, two pairs of blankets, a bee-hive with some honey in it, the foot of a sheep, raw, a timber-plate, with mutton-collops, a cap which contained honey, and in which there were large lumps of fat, and livers, and also the lead of a window.”

  The crimes which the Jury found proven against James Ramsay were, the stealing four oxen and a quey from John Carswell, tenant in South Cults, in the parish of Saline, and a bee-hive out of the gardens of Pitfirrane.  The Sentence of the Court is dated 8th February, 1732, and so far as it relates to James Ramsay, was as follows:-

            “The Judges of the Courts of Justiciary and Regality of Dumfermline having considered the foregoing verdict of Assyze, of the date 5th current, returned against James Ramsay, Andrew Ramsay, Andrew Hutson and Helen Ramsay pannells:  They in respect whereof, by the mouth of John Cummin, dempster of court—Decern and Adjudge the sd James Ramsay to be taken fra the tollbooth of Dunfermline upon Wednesday being the twenty second day of March next to come, to that place of the common Muir of Dunfermline, called the witch Loan; and there betwixt the hours of two and four o’clock afternoon of the said day to be hanged by the neck upon a gibbet, till he be dead.  And ordains all his moveable goods and gear to be escheat and inbrought for the use of the ffiscal of court.  Which is pronounced for Doom.”  (Regality Records, and Fernie’s Hist. Dunf.  pp. 170-172.)

  In the Caledonian Mercury newspaper for 11th February, 1732, there is the following paragraph regarding this trial, &c.:-

            “Dunfermline, February 8th, 1732.—This day was finished here a very tedious trial of four gypses (or gypses habit and repute), strollers, or vagabonds, which lasted between 18 and 19 hours, by the honoured Captain Halkett, James Dewar of Lassodie, and Henry Wellwood of Garvock—deputies of the most Honourable the Marquis of Tweeddale, as hereditary bailie of the justiciary and regality courts of Dunfermline; when on a full and plain proof James Ramsay, one of the gang, was sentenced to be hanged the 22d March next; and the other three to be whipped the first Wednesday of each month, for one half year, and afterwards to be banished the regality for ever.”  (!!!)

            “James Ramsay has, since his sentence was pronounced, confessed to the Rev. Mr. Ralph Erskine that he stole the four oxen and young cow—one of the branches of the indictment.  During his confinement in prison the Rev. Ralph Erskine frequently visited Ramsay for spiritual advice and consolation; he also went with him to his place of execution, soothing his mind, and offered up a fervent prayer in his behalf to the fountain of mercy, as he was turned off.”

  The following extract is from the Burgh Records of 15th March, 1732:-

            “The said day the baillies acquainted the council that they had this day received a letter from James Dewar of Lassody, and Henry Wellwood of Garvock, two of the baillies deputes of the regality of Dunfermline, signifying to them that they heard that some of the members of the council are making some difficulty anent the obeying the dead warrant, directed to the magistrates, in consequence of the sd baillies deputes their sentence pronounced against James Ramsay on the 8th of February last; and in order to obviate any inconveniences thereanent, they desire the magistrates to see the said sentence put into execution in the usual manner.  And thereby declare that by their former dead warrant, they meant not to bring any new hardship or burden on the burgh of Dunfermline further than what the law and practice of his burgh requires, nor thereby to invalidate the baillie heretable of the regality his right in cases of that nature.  And they desire the magistrates to send their guard to the execution—which guard they will pay.  The council having considered the import of the said letter, agreed to grant to the baillies of the regality the favour of the militia to guard James Ramsay at his execution. And accordingly appointed the baillies to cause raise the militia for that purpose on Wednesday next being the day of the execution.”  (22nd March.)

  So far as is known, this was the last execution that took place in Dunfermline or neighbourhood.  In the year 1827, when some parts of “the Witch-loan” were being leveled, Ramsay’s grave was opened; his decayed bones were lifted, but they were re-interred in deeper earth on the same spot.  (MS. Note.)

  “THE HANGMAN’S PLEDGE OF FIDELITY.”—“27th May, 1732:  The said day John Cummin the hangman lodged in the hands of John Lindsay town thesaurer fourty pounds Scots, as a pledge of his fidelity.  And the council hereby promise to pay annual rent for the said fourty pounds from Whytsunday last during the said John Cummins life, upon this express condition that if the said John Cummin shall at any time hereafter refuse to execute any sentence of the baillies, or of the baillies of the regality, or baillies of Innerkeithing, or desert the place, in either of which cases, the said John Cummin shall forfeit the sd sum and annual rent there of that shall be resting, upon which provision the said sum is lodged by him in the towns hands.”

  DUNFERMLINE WEAVERS—Bleachfield—“Retaliation Act!”—In the Weaver’s MS. Minute Book there is the following curious but pugnacious entry relative to their struggles to obtain a site for a bleachfield, &c.:--“March 31st, 1732  The which day David Moresin, Deacon, and Remanent members of the Incorporation of Weavers, being Conveened within the Session-House of Dunfermline (Kirk) and having taken to their consideration the great hardships they labour under for want of a Bleachfield, and finding that the most Commodious place for Bleaching about this place is the King’s Park’s commonly called the Abbey Yeards, which place they found they by no means coud obtain, notwithstanding they had made the most reasonable proposals to  Alexander Miller, tenant on the heugh-mills, possessor of the park, who rejected all proposals both of rent and entry of grassum made to him.”  Now comes “the Retaliation Act,” which gives a glimpse of “the age and body of the times,: by showing how, sometimes, “our ancient forefathers agreed wi’ the laird” when he became obstreperous:--“They (the weavers) there fore, hereby statute enact and ordain, that no member of their incorporation shall drink ale after the tenth of Aprile next to come, either publickly or privately that is made by the sd Alexander Miller, under the penalty of one pound Scots to be payed to the trades box by each person who drink ale mad eof the malt grind as aforsd, and the trade ordains the Deacon to insert this their act and to sign the same in their name by their unanimous consent and vote, and the sd fine to be payed for each times Totes quoties.

                                                “Signed.  DA. MORISONE, Deacon.”

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—Sir Peter Halket of Pitfirrane was re-elected Provost.  (Burgh Records.)

  THE BLEACHFIELD—A GIFT OF £200.—“Bailie Wilson informed the councill that Mr. Hugh Forbes advocate desired him to acquaint ye council that the ‘Trustees and Commissioners for improvement of Manufactures’ had agreed to allow the town two hundred pounds sterling to enable them to prepare the Bleachfield.”  (Burgh Records, 26th Dec., 1732.)

  WHEAT MILL.—“ The council unanimously agreed to sub-set that ruinous house on the east side of the Abbay Sables to the Corporation of Bakers in order to build yr on a miln for grinding of wheat, allennarly with ye use of the water when going and the liberty of winnowing and drying wheat in the Abbay Close.”  (Burgh Rec., 26th Dec., 1732.)  The lower of the mills is now called the “Heugh Mills.”   “Abbey Close,” the space for forty yards north of the archway of the Pends.

  CUTLER.—William Steedman commenced business in Dunfermline as a cutler.  He was made a free burgess.  (Burgh Records, 11th Nov., 1732.)  This is the first named Dunfermline “cutler, or whitler,” on record.

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