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History of the Burgh of Dumfries
Chapter XXXV


WHEN such explosive materials as these existed, it required but a trifling incident to fire the train. In November, 1666, the flames of insurrection broke forth in Galloway under such unpremeditated circumstances as we are about to describe. On the 13th of that month, a party of Turner's soldiers, stationed at St. John's Clachan of Dalry, in the hilly region of Glenkens, confiscated a patch of corn belonging to a poor old man named Grier, and threatened him with personal maltreatment unless he paid the balance of church fines with which he was charged. At this juncture, four Covenanting refugees entered the village in search of food-one of them Mr. M'Lellan of Barscobe, who had been subjected to much persecution for conscience' sake. They felt much sympathy for their fellow-sufferer, but, smothering their feelings, withdrew to a small change-house, [The house in which they sat is still standing, but was partially rebuilt a few years ago; it was called Midtown. John Gordon then occupied it as a kind of tavern. Mr. Train says: "My friend, Mr. John M`Culloch of New Galloway, kindly procured from the proprietor for me one of the old rafters, of which I intend to make some articles of vertu." - History of Galloway, vol. ii., p. 158.] where, soon after, tidings reached them that the soldiers, carrying their menaces into effect, had stripped Grier naked in his own house, with the intention of subjecting him to torture, by setting him on a red-hot gridiron.

The four wanderers could remain patient no longer: hurrying to the old man's house, they remonstrated with the soldiers, who told them to mind their own business, and not to interfere, or it might be worse for them. After a brief altercation, several country people entered, and began to remove the bandages with which Grier's arms were fastened. The soldiers then drew their swords, and wounded two of them; upon which one of the latter retaliated by firing a pistol, loaded with a piece of tobacco pipe for bullet. A general fight, of short duration, ensued, terminating in the defeat of the troopers, who were all made prisoners and disarmed. What to do next became a matter for serious consideration. There was another party of ten or twelve soldiers at the neighbouring village of Balmaclellan; and, lest they should resort to reprisals, some of the country people set off early next morning, and made the whole of the soldiers captive, except one man, who offered resistance, and was killed. The outbreak was carried to its second stage, for the purpose of securing the safety of those accidentally led to engage in it: but if they now dispersed, they would certainly be pursued by the merciless soldiery belonging to the rest of Turner's force; and if they should succeed in escaping, the district would be subjected to such vengeful devastation as was fearful to contemplate. These reflections induced M`Lellan and his comrades to unfurl boldly the flag of insurrection. They were joined by another gentleman of the district, Mr. Neilson of Corsack, by Mr. Alexander Robertson, son of an outed minister, by Mr. Andrew Gray, an Edinburgh merchant, who happened to be in the district at the time; and these, the leaders of the movement, easily succeeded in raising a considerable force, the rural population all round being ripe for insurrection.

A council of war was held, at which a march on Dumfries, for the purpose of surprising Sir James Turner, was resolved upon; the place of rendezvous being fixed at Irongray Church, about six miles distant from the town. With wonderful secrecy and despatch, due notices were given and acted upon; and on the day after the casual skirmish at Dalry, a force of two hundred infantry and fifty horsemen mustered at the appointed place; the blue banner of the Covenant, the ensign of rebellion against the Government-rather, we should say, of righteous resistance to a tyrannical faction-flying above their small but resolute ranks. Gray-who seems to have been a fussy, pretentious gentleman, without any real regard for the cause with which he was prominently mixed up-was appointed leader of the little host. Starting from Irongray Church soon after sunrise on the 15th, they marched quietly on their appointed way, reaching the Bridgend of Dumfries about ten o'clock in the morning. Sir James Turner has sometimes been spoken of as a model soldier: yet though rumours of the insurrection had reached him, he appears to have made no preparations for meeting it, even when it was rolling to his very door; and, strange to say, though in the midst of a warlike people, who bore him no good-will, he had not, on this critical occasion, a solitary sentinel posted at the entrance of the town from Galloway.

Accordingly, when Captain Gray and his men reached the place where the populous burgh of Maxwelton now stands, they were agreeably surprised at finding the bridge unguarded, and the road to the headquarters of the renegade "malignant" open before them. Matters being in such a favourable train, it was thought best to allow the foot soldiers to remain outside, while a party of the horse rode across to pay the compliments of the morning to Sir James. Corsack and Robertson were entrusted with this delicate and perilous duty. Followed by several others, about half-past eight o'clock they crossed the bridge, passed up Friars' Vennel, and then down to Turner's lodgings, in Bailie Finnie's house, High Street. Aroused too late by the ring of the horses' hoofs upon the pavement, he rose in great alarm, ran in his night-dress [Sir James Turner's Memoirs, p. 148.] to the window, and, seeing an armed band below, exclaimed, "Quarters! gentlemen, quarters! and there shall be no resistance!" "Quarters you shall have," said Corsack, "on the word of a gentleman, if you surrender at once without resistance." "Quarters he shall have none!" said Gray, who now came up; and, suiting the action to the words, he presented a carabine at Turner; and had not Corsack, who was the real leader of the enterprise, interposed, the unscrupulous agent of the Government would have been instantly sent to his account. One soldier only, as at Balmaclellan, resisted, and died of the wounds he received; all the others giving themselves quietly up, according to the example and orders of their commander.

According to Turner's own statement, no more than thirteen of his men were in town at the time, the rest being quartered in the country on persons who "refused to give obedience to church ordinances." "Some few of my sogers," he adds, "were taken in their lodgings. They [the insurgents] looked for Master Chalmers, the Parson of Drumfries, but found him not, yet did they bring away his horse." [Sir J. Turner's Memoirs, p. 149]

There was great rejoicing in Dumfries on account of this overthrow of the tyrant captain and his troop. "He had," says Gabriel Scruple, "been reigning [there] like a king, and, lifted up in pride, with insolence and cruelty over the poor people;" and it is no wonder that, to signalize his degradation, they, as the same authority informs us, "set him on a low beast, without his vest-raiment, and carried him through the town in a despicable manner." It says much for the forbearance of the insurgents and the people of the Burgh, that Sir James Turner received no worse treatment than was involved in this pardonable exhibition of him in his new character. They then held a meeting at the Cross, where the leaders explained and vindicated their conduct; and to show that it was not the monarchy, nor the King, but his despotic ministers, against whom they had taken up arms, they expressed aloud their devoted attachment to his Majesty's person-a sentiment that was readily responded to with cheers by the listening crowd.

The Town Council of Dumfries had seen with horror the capture of the Government troops and the occupation of the Burgh by an insurgent band; and they too convened a meeting, differing very much in character, however, from the exuberant one outside. To think that their loyal town had been the scene of such a scandalous insult to the dominant powers, and that their sycophantic selves might be implicated in the disgrace and its consequences ! The very idea of such an affront upon the State, and such a stain upon their own escutcheon, was intolerable. Dismal faces and troubled shakings of the head were seen, lugubrious regrets and sad misgivings were expressed, at this conclave of the Burgh magnates; and, before it broke up, it was resolved to send Bailie Stephen Irving to Edinburgh, [Town Council Minutes; and Wodrow, vol. ii., p. 19.] for the double purpose of acquainting the Privy Council with what had occurred, and putting the best possible face on their own connection with it. Late on the following evening (the 16th) the magistrates announced to Lauderdale and his colleagues that a Covenanting rebellion had broken out, headed by Neilson of Corsack, M'Lellan of Barscobe, M'Cartney of Blaiket, Alexander Robertson, son of a conventicle preacher, and the notorious Nonconformist, James Callum, glover in Dumfries; that Dumfries was in the hands of the triumphant insurgents, greatly to the sorrow of its loyal lieges and their rulers; and that, in order to crush the audacious traitors, decisive measures would have to be promptly resolved upon. This was astounding intelligence indeed: alarm was the first emotion that prevailed among the Privy Councillors; rage followed; then incontrollable fury, that found vent in a resolution, which was speedily put in force, to exact a fearful measure of revenge.

Meanwhile the insurgents, now numbering three hundred, marched from Dumfries to the Church of Glencairn, situated at a distance of fifteen miles on the west bank of the Nith; and on the 16th they re-entered Dalry, still carrying with them their prisoners. Here, as we learn from Turner himself, Hugh Henderson, the outed minister of Dumfries, in the spirit of genuine Christian charity, returned good for evil to the man by whom he had been harshly maltreated. Mr. Henderson had taken refuge in the neighbourhood, and hearing of what had occurred, got permission from Gray to entertain Sir James at dinner, and even pleaded, though without success, that he should be set at liberty. "Though he and I," says Turner, "be of different persuasions, yet I will say that he entertained me with very reall kindnes." [Memoirs, p. 152.] A beautiful trait of character is thus presented, which those who take delight in disparaging the Nonconformist clergy of this period would do well to study. At Dalry, we also learn from Turner, Captain Gray, the "By-ends " of the movement, gave his men the slip: "for the day before he had sent away the money and other baggage, which he had got from me; and thinking he had sped well enough, resolved to retire himself before the fire grew hotter."

When the Edinburgh Covenanters heard of the rising at Dalry, many deemed it premature; but the general opinion was, that since it had Occurred it ought to be supported. Not a few of them accordingly made common cause with their insurgent brethren; and among other men of note who joined them in the west country were Lieutenant-Colonel Wallace, who had earned distinction in the civil wars; Maxwell of Monreith in Galloway; John Welsh, [Grandson of the still more celebrated John Welsh, who took a leading part in opposing the Prelatical encroachments of James VI.] the outed minister of Irongray; and two other preachers also well known-William Veitch, afterwards minister of Dumfries, and Hugh M'Kail of Ochiltree. The somewhat irregular host was properly organized; Colonel Wallace was appointed commander; and a resolution was adopted to march towards the capital, with the view of calling out their friends there in greater force, and, if possible, of making a powerful demonstration against the Government. Continuing their journey during a protracted storm, they passed through Cumnock and Muirkirk, arriving at Douglas on the 24th of November, where a council was held, at which it was conclusively resolved to proceed with the enterprise at all hazards.

At Douglas another question was debated : whether the persecuting chief, delivered by Providence into their hands, should not be put to death. The propriety and duty of thus dealing with Turner were vehemently insisted upon by the more violent of the leaders; whilst Corsack and others contended as stoutly that his life ought to be spared. Sir James, as we learn from his own account of the matter, had a narrow escape. "That night," he says, "a councell or committee was keepd, where it was concluded that nixt morning, the Covenant should be renewd and sworne. And the question was, whether immediatlie after they should put me to death; they who were for it pretended ane article of the Covenant obliged thorn to bring all malignants to condigne punishment. Bot it was resolved that I sould not dy so soone, bot endeavors sould be used to gaine me. All this was told me by one of my intelligencers before two of the clocke nixt morning. Yet I have heard since, that it was formallie put to the vote whether I sould die presentlie, or be delayed, and that delay was carried in the councell by one vote onlie." Even after the insurgent army had been pelted by the elements, it made a creditable appearance in the eyes of Turner, military martinet though he was, and by no means anxious to present a flattering picture of his captors. "The horsemen," he tells us, "were armed for most part with sword and pistoll, some onlie with suords; the foot with musket, pike, sith, forke, and suord; and some with staves, great and long. There [at Douglas] I saw two of their troops skirmish against other two (for in foure troopes their cavallerie was divided), which I confess they did handsomelie to my great admiration. I wondered at the agilitie of both horse and rider, and to see them keepe troope so well, and how they had comd to that great perfection in so short a time." He closes his verdict by saying: "I never saw lustier fellows than these foot were, or better marchers; for though I was appointed to stay in the car, and notwithstanding these inconveniences [of darkness and tempest], yet I saw few or none of them straggle." [Memoirs, p. 167.]

It is not necessary that we should follow the various steps of these bold, devoted men. Their enterprise was one of the most daring of that adventurous day. Forlorn and desperate it proved ; but had they received even a moderate degree of support from their suffering fellow-countrymen, the issue might have been more favourable, and "from Fate's dark book a leaf been torn." For their unpremeditated outbreak the country was not prepared. Arrived at Lanark, numerous recruits joined them, swelling their ranks to two thousand men or more: but when the vicinity of Edinburgh was reached, they had to lament numerous desertions; and, what was worse, they found the gates of the city barred against them, and no friends hurrying from it to hail their approach. In this dilemma they learned that General Dalziel was following rapidly on their track; and in the dead of' night, faint with hunger and fatigue, heart-sore with disappointment, the wandering host, retreating to the Pentland hills, encamped on the elevated table-land of Rullion Green, there to "dree" what fortune had in store for them. Defeat, death by the sword and on the scaffold, were in the cup. The insurgents did not now amount to more than nine hundred, and they had suffered much in condition as well as in numbers, being, as a contemporary described them, "pitifully bad appointed-neither saddle nor bridle, pistol or sword, amongst the ten men of them; baggage-horses, some whereof not worth forty shillings. ... They are mighty weary with marching. [Robert Mein's (postmaster of Edinburgh) report to Government, quoted iii the Fifty Years' Struggle, p. 166.] They were encountered on the 28th of November by Dalziel, at the head of three thousand soldiers, and, after a gallant resistance, in which they thoroughly repelled several headlong charges, were put to the rout, fifty of them falling on the unequal field, and about one hundred and thirty surrendering as prisoners, on receiving a promise that their lives would be spared. But the scaffold was set up, and Sharpe resolved that it should not be cheated out of its anticipated victims.

The insurgents who spared Sir James Turner's life had no such mercy meted out to them. Twenty were adjudged to death at Edinburgh: and "all of them," says Mein, "died adhering to the Covenant, declaring they never intended in the least any rebellion; and all of them prayed most fervently for his Majesty's interest, and against his enemies." Amongst the sufferers were the heroic Mr. Neilson of Corsack, and the pious and accomplished Hugh M'Kail, who died on the scaffold in the true spirit of martyrs; and their constancy and devotedness were emulated by "a cloud of witnesses," executed on account of their being connected, some of them very remotely, with the Pentland rising. No fewer than thirty-five were hanged or shot in various parts of the country, in addition to those executed in Edinburgh; a large proportion of them being natives of Nithsdale or Galloway, as many rude memorials, scattered over our moorlands, hill-sides, and churchyards, still attest. .

On the 30th of December, 1666, the obsequious Town Council of Dumfries met for the purpose of receiving orders for the disposal of two poor fugitives from Pentland, who, on returning to their native district, had been tracked, caught, and tried at the instance of the Government. It need scarcely be added, that they were convicted and doomed to death. A justiciary court-or rather a military tribunal, presided over by Lieutenant-General Drummond-had been held at Ayr, where these two prisoners, with ten others, were capitally sentenced; [Town Council Minutes; also. Wodrow, vol. ii., p. 53.] and as they had been captured within the jurisdiction of the Dumfries magistrates, to them was assigned the duty of carrying the sentence into effect. The orders from the court enjoined the authorities "to sie their sentence for hanging the persounes, and affixing of the heides and right armes of Jon Grier in Ffour-merk-land, and William Welsch in Carsfairne, upon the eminenest pairts of this Burgh;" and this mandate having been communicated by the magistrates to the Council, the latter "condescendit that the bridge-port is the fittest place quhereupon that the heids and armes should be affixed; and therfoir appoynted them to be affixed on that place." [Town Council Minutes] Martyred the two men were, as a matter of course; and we can find no trace of the Dumfries authorities being troubled with any " compunctious visitings" on the subject, though we doubt not the inhabitants generally pitied and honoured these poor victims of oppression. And when, in pursuance of their sentence, their heads and right arms were pilloried on the bridge, the gory spectacle would be viewed by many a tearful eye, and elicit many a burst of indignation.

When the severed relics of the sufferers had wasted for several weeks in the wintry air, a rumour reached the authorities that a design had been formed for removing them. How the honourable gentlemen must have been shocked by this report! They intended the bridge-port exhibition to tell with salutary terror on the people far and near, to teach them that the exercise of free thought, and resistance to "the powers that be," were treasons rightly involving death, and that there was no safety for the subject, except in entire submission to the decrees of the Privy Council; and yet, in daring contempt of these lessons, the silent teachers of their truthfulness were threatened with removal ! Lest the menace should be carried into effect, the Town Council directed application to be made to the Earl of Lauderdale, to allow the martyrs' heads and arms to be transferred to the top of the tolbooth, for their better security, and thus to disappoint the "disloyall persounes," who, it was feared, would "take them away under cloudes of night, to the prejudice of this burgh." [Town Council Minutes.] Prejudice of the Burgh, indeed! Alas for the time when the honour or credit of the town was thought to be bound up in the safe retention of those ghastly mementoes of the tyrant's persecuting rage!

When other and happier days came round, the real feeling of the townspeople towards the two sufferers expressed itself in the erection of memorial stones over their honoured remains in St. Michael's churchyard; and till this day an interest is felt in the humble tombs of Welsh and Grier, or Grierson, which vies in depth with that awakened by the proud mausoleum reared beside them, above the dust of the national poet-the poet who, in one of his best moods, after reading a narrative of the Persecution in Galloway, penned the well-known lines:

"The The Solemn League and Covenant
Cost Scotland blood, cost Scotland tears;
But it sealed freedom's sacred cause:
If thou'rt a slave, indulge thy sneers!"

On the 9th of May, 1668, a royal proclamation was issued for the apprehension of about one hundred outstanding "rebels," sixteen of whom belonged to the Shire of Dumfries. The name of Mr. James Callum, glover, appears upon the list. He seems to have been a devoted, consistent, and courageous Covenanter. How terribly lie suffered for conscience' sake, is shown in the following affecting extract from Wodrow's "History:" - "James Callum, merchant in Dumfries, was forfeited some time after Pentland, but his being there was never proven; he was indeed present, being dwelling in the town, at the taking of Sir James Turner; but no other guilt was ever made out against him, but mere nonconformity. In the years 1662 and 1663, for refusing to hear the curates, he paid, for a year's space, forty pence every Monday for himself and wife. He underwent much trouble, and several imprisonments, for his Parliament-fine-five hundred merks-and paid the half of it, and fifteen pounds sterling riding-money, and more by far than the other half in expenses, and clerk's fees to get his discharge. Sir James Turner, before Pentland, exacted considerable sums of money from him. When he was declared rebel, most unjustly, after Pentland, he left the kingdom, and was seven years in the East Indies. At his return he was taken by Claverhouse, and imprisoned at Dumfries fourteen months, and at Edinburgh a year and a half; after which he was banished to Carolina, where he died. When the accounts of this came home, his wife and daughters at Dumfries were attacked for nonconformity, and spoiled of any thing they had, and forced to wander up and down in the hills and mountains for three years and a half" [Wodrow, vol, ii., p. 79]

At the close of the same disastrous year (1668) the inhabitants of the Burgh were required by the Council to subscribe a statement, declaring that they "deteste and abhor the rebellioune laitly broken out in Galloway and in other places in the West;" that they will not, in any way whatever, assist or intercommune with those concerned in it; and that they were ready to venture their "lives and fortounes against thes traitors, for suppressing their horrid traysone and rebellioune." Every one was required to sign this declaration, it being intimated that refusers would be looked upon as sympathizers with the insurrection, and as such be proceeded against according to law. [Town Council Minutes.]

When the insurrectionary outbreak had been thoroughly suppressed, and the vengeance of the Government been sated, Lauderdale, under the influence of what seemed to be a conciliatory whim, cashiered Sir James Turner, Sir William Bannatyne, and other military tools, who had become odious to the common people, and sought to propitiate the Presbyterian ministers by getting the Privy Council to pass the Indulgence, in virtue of which those who still refused to receive collation from the bishops might be reinstated in their manses and glebes, with a royal annuity instead of stipends, on condition hat they would restrict their preaching to their own parishes, and submit to State control in other ecclesiastical matters. There is every reason to believe that these proposals were devised for the purpose of dividing the Covenanters, and thus weakening them, and for forming part of a plan by which Scotland was to be kept quiet, whilst preparations were being made by the Duke of York, Charles's brother and heir, to re-establish Roman Catholicism in both kingdoms, should a favourable opportunity for doing so arise. Many ministers accepted the Indulgence: between those who scorned it and the Government a wider gulf than ever was formed; and Lauderdale found, in their rejection of the measure, a motive and a pretext for increased severity towards the frequenters of conventicles. During the lull produced by his temporary moderation, he hastened on the formation of a militia in Scotland, in order that he might foreclose other rebellious outbreaks, and be ready in time of need to give the despotic Romanizing party of England a helping hand.

We find numerous traces in the Dumfries County Records of the steps taken at this period to raise the quota of men required from the Shire and its various towns, and otherwise provide for the maintenance of the military despotism wielded by Lauderdale and his colleagues. The chief agents in the business were the Commissioners of Excise, as county gentlemen when acting in their corporate capacity were then styled. A meeting of the Dumfriesshire Commissioners was held at Thornhill on January 28th, 1668, at which two Acts of the Privy Council were read and adopted, regulating the way the parishes, twelve miles round the County town, were to provide hay and straw for a troop of fifty horse stationed there. The supply for each horse was fixed at sixteen pounds of hay or eighteen pounds of straw in the twenty-four hours; and it was provided that "in case the country people will not sell the same, the Commissioners were to constrain [Minutes of the Commissioners] them." At another meeting, held in Dumfries on the 24th of September following, the Earl of Annandale read his Majesty's instruction regarding the establishment of a militia regiment in the County, consisting of eight hundred foot and eighty-eight horse (afterwards reduced to seven hundred foot and seventy-seven horse), of which he had been appointed colonel, and Drumlanrig lieutenant-colonel, These instructions were chiefly as follows:-All the commissioned officers were to be nominated by the colonel and lieutenantcolonel, and were to sign the declaration against the Covenants; the colours, drums, and trumpets were to be provided at the expense of the Shire; the foot were to be armed with muskets having a bore for sixteen balls to the pound, " which may be had of Alex. and Robt. Mills, merchants in Lithgow, at eight merks a piece," and with pikes fifteen feet long, "which may be had in the country, good and cheap, made by Alex. Hay, the king's bow-maker in the Cannon-gate;" two-thirds of the men in each company were to be musketeers, the rest pikesmen; the horsemen were to be sufficiently mounted and armed with swords and pistols at the expense of the heritors; and those soldiers who removed from their parishes without leave of their officers were to he fined or imprisoned, or both. Much difficulty was experienced in getting some of the parishes to co-operate. Though each minister, with "three discreet men" to assist him, was ordered to make up a roll of all the fencible men in his parish, and though afterwards a committee of Commissioners was appointed for a like purpose in each Presbytery, the lists produced were manifestly defective: till at length, on the 30th of December, the baffled Commissioners resolved to apply for special assistance to the Privy Council; which having been given, the rolls were rendered rather more complete. To determine the proportion of men to be raised by the burghs, was the next duty of the Commissioners. They met for this purpose on the 22nd of April, 1669, and resolved that Dumfries should be required to provide forty men, Sanquhar and Annan four each, and Lochmaben three; leaving the rest to be raised in the rural districts, at the rate of one man for each three hundred merks of rent. [Minutes of the Commissioners.]

By the Parliament of 1672, increased measures of repression were directed against conventicles. More soldiers were therefore needed ; and accordingly, on the 20th of March of that year, the Dumfriesshire Commissioners of Excise received a letter from the Privy Council enjoining the heritors of the County and the magistrates of its burghs to raise forty-one men, as their proportion of 1000 required to be levied in the kingdom for his Majesty's service. A committee, with Robert, Lord Maxwell, as preses, was appointed to put the matter into shape; who reported next day that the Burgh of Dumfries would have to "outreik " and provide two men, also "the twentieth part of a third man," for assisting the burghs of Annan, Sanquhar, and Lochmaben, who were to raise said third man on receiving such fractional support; and that the remaining thirty-eight soldiers were to be provided by the County at the rate of fifty merks for each. The report was approved of; and at a subsequent meeting the Commissioners resolved that there should be expended on each man £24 Scots, to furnish him with a good blue cloth coat, well lined with sufficient white stuff or serge, a pair of double-soled shoes, a pair of stockings, a black hat, two shirts, two cravats, an "honest" pair of breeches, and an inner coat: a goodly outfit, certainly, for forty shillings sterling - money going a far way at this period of our history. It was also arranged that the men were to meet on the 21st of April at Locharbridge-hill, a common place for military gatherings, and then march to the town of Leith. [Minutes of the Commissioners.] As time rolled slowly on, the hills around Dumfries became more than ever the haunt of the persecuted Covenanters; and the Government, instead of sending away troops from it, felt the necessity of placing a large force in the town.

The Commissioners, on the 5th of August, 1675, were honoured with a visit from the Earl of Queensberry, Lord Chancellor of Scotland, who, being also one of themselves, attended to assist in the discussion of the following letter, subscribed by him and fourteen other members of the Privy Council:-"We have emitted an act appointing garrisones to be in divers places, particularly at the Castle of Dumfries, in which there is to be fifty foot and twelve horsemen, who are ordered against the 6th of August to be at the said place. We have ordered you to convene any three or four of the Commissioners of Excise of the Shire of Drumfreis, and have appoynted you and your depute, with the said Commissioners, and Captain Dalziel, who has the command of said garrisone, to sight the said Castle of Drumfries, and see the same be made ready to receive the garrisone against the said day; also that you and the said Commissioners cause furnish the said garrison with bedding, potts, pans, coal, and candle, as is ordinar; and sett prices upon the hay, straw, and come for the horse; and caus carry in, and delyver to the soldiers and the garrisone, such quantities as shall be necessary for the horses, upon payment of the said prices. We expect your ready obedience, and ordain you to return an account of your dilligence between and the 10th of Aug. next." [Minutes of the Comiiiissioners.]

The order thus given to "sight" the old Castle, enables us to get a slight glimpse of its condition in the middle of the seventeenth century. It was all but demolished, as we have seen, by the Earl of Sussex and Lord Scrope, in 1570; with the consolatory qualifications, however, that the defective stories contained "dales lying there to repair them," and that the vaults and first story over them would supply ample accommodation for a greater garrison than the one for which quarters were required. A misunderstanding arose as to the sources from which the soldiers were to be maintained, whereby the preparations for their reception were delayed; and the Privy Council, losing temper, sent letters of horning to the tantalized Commissioners, ordering them to proceed at once, and draw upon the revenue of the Excise for the support of the troops. Thereupon the Commissioners, on the 14th of September, ordered their collector to supply, for the garrison, 499 ells of plaiding for thirty-one beds, at 5s. Scots per ell; coverlets uniform, at £82 19s.; "harden" uniform, at £84; for every eight soldiers a five-quart pot, at £4 each; six pans, two quarts each; three quart stoups, and six cups; thirty load of peats weekly, at 2s. per load; and seven lbs. of candle weekly, at 5s. per lb. A report was received at the same meeting, to the effect that £80 Scots would make the roof water-tight; and the business was finished by a resolution "advising the collector, with the magistrates of Dumfries," to see the horsemen sufficiently provided with corn, hay, and straw, at the ordinary rates. In all these warlike preparations the gentlemen of the Shire were well assisted by the Burgh authorities; the latter of whom, in June, 1667, gave directions to store up "pouder and leid" in the Castle; to place "all the gunes and partizanes" there; "that thair be 24 men and a captaine upon the gaird every night thair, according to the order and row sett doun be the provest and baillies; as also that the toun ports be with all expeditioun put up, and that thair be four scoir or a hundredth pykes maid for the toune’s uyseis."

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