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Annals of Dunfermline
A.D. 1701 - 1801 - Part 1

  1701.—DUNFERMLINE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE 18TH CENTURY.—At the beginning of the 18th Century, the Old Nave of the Abbey continued to be used as a Parish Kirk (the only Kirk in the Parish).   For several years there had been no legally ordained minister to conduct the worship.  Rev. Hugh Kemp was ordained to the First charge on May, 1701.  Population of the burgh estimated at 2000; of the burgh and Parish, about 5000.  Sir James Halket, Bart., of Pitfirrane, Provost.  “Much distress and poverty prevailed,” trade being excessively depressed.  The ale trade, however, appears to have been doing a good business.  There were eight breweries in the town, and “Dumfarlin yale” was in “high repute everywhere;” but, in consequence of dull trade and “great scarcity of siller,” not a few had to bewail their inability to purchase a draught of it.  The following now-nearly-forgotten lines appear to refer to this period:--

“As I sat near the Spittel crosshead,
Dumfarlin I thocht on,
An; o’ its guid broon ale ta sell,
But siller I had none!”
(Lines from an “Old Dunfermline Song.”)

According to several nots there were at this period “a great many houses in Dunfermline that had timber-built second and third storeys, with heather and furze roofs.”  “The timber storeys were reached by means of uncouth stone stairs of every imaginable shape.”  These stairs, on each side of the street, “projected so far into the street, that they nearly met in some places, leaving a narrow way in the middle of the street for the traffic.  Below these stairs there were bunks in which swine, fowls, and dogs were kept.  At these stair foots immense middens were piled up, which were most offensive, especially in hot weather after a fall of rain.  These remarks apply to all the streets in the town.”  The High Street had only two streets proceeding out of it to the north, viz., the Kirkgate.”  “The Tron Burn ran down, uncovered, in front of the houses on the east side of the Collier Raw (Bruce Street) and along the foot of the High Street, and a little way down the Kirkgate, where it was led under a house, and re-appeared in the Maygate.”  Such was Dunfermline at the beginning of the 18th century.  (From old MS. notes.)

  MASON LODGE.—Gift of a Brass Square.—In the Masons’ Register of date January 8, 1701, an entry notifies that “James Somerville did Gift to ye Ludge ane brass square for the use of ye Ludge, for which gift ye Quorum [of Masons present] quits his sons enterie money being Six Ponds and ordains ye Deacon to be dischared yr of.”

  COSTUMES, &C.—At this period, “the men in this quarter (West of Fife) wore bonnets and plaids instead of cloaks.  The women wore plaids when abroad or at church; those of them of the humbler class generally went about barefooted.”  Meals—“Oaten cakes and bannocks, toasted on an iron girdle above the fire, or on an iron toaster before it, were the principal sort of bread in use; baker’s bread was but scantily used.”  (A Warril. Trav.”  and other works.)

  PROVERTY OF THE BURGH.—About the beginning of the year (1701), the funds of the Burgh were so very inconsiderable that the magistrates and Council applied for pecuniary aid to the Convention of Royal Burghs.  The petition for aid is prefixed by a short but sad statement regarding the position the Burgh was then in, viz., “The common good of the Burgh at the highest amounted to about £993 Scots (£82 15s. sterg.) per annum, besides the local rent;” that there was little or no trade, except a little malting; that the houses were so ruinous and decayed, and, those of them that did stand, so ill-possessed, that the inhabitants when racked to the highest were unable to pay £300 Scots of assessment a-year (£25 sterling); that the common good, assessment and all (except the coal,) amounted only to £1293 (£107 15s. sterling); that as to their coal they were frequently put to as much expense by it as they had profit, and that although their coal-rent came in free, they would be superexpended in above 700 or 800 merks (about £43 sterling), which already had, and daily did, increase their debt.  (Representation and Petition in Dunf. Charter Chest; Fernie’s Hist. Dunf. pp. 11, 12, and 135, &c.)

  THE MARKET-CROSS in need of Repairs.—“22 March, 1701:  This day the counsell approved of Thomas Mitchell, theasurer, his paying four pounds to James Mercer, for helping the croce.”  (Burgh Records.)

  DUNFERMLINE CHURCH was vacant from 1795 to 1701.  (Presb. Records.)

  MR. HUGH KEMP translated from Forgan, 1st May, 1701, to the First Charge of Dunfermline Church.  (Chalmer’s Hist. Dunf. vol. p. 416.)

THE REV. MR. GRAME’S FINAL DEPOSAL.—The Rev. Mr. Grame, Minister (Episcopalian) of the First Charge of the Kirk of Dunfermline, was deposed in 1696; but in consequence of the anomalous state of things at this period, had been allowed to officiate till June, 1701, when he was finally deposed.  He was deposed for contempt of the authority of the Synod, and for his “contemptuous carriage in preaching,” &c.  He was also accused before the Synod for not taking any notice of the Quakers in the parish of Dunfermline!  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 424, 425.)

  MEETING-HOUSE.—It would seem that from 1601 to 1705 the Presbyterian Congregation met for worship one half of the Sabbath in the Parish Church, and the Episcopalians in a meeting-house, the latter body claiming and occupying the church on the other diet.  Mr. Kemp and Mr. Graham would thus preach alternately forenoon and afternoon.  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 427.)  Where was this meeting-house situated?—In the Queen’s House, adjacent to the Kirk on the west, or in the large room of the Marquis of Tweeddale’s House, foot of Kirkgate, west side?

  PITTENCRIEFF ESTATE.—Colonel John Forbes was proprietor of Pittencrieff this year.  (Old Charter-Writ.)

  A NEW FAIR, granted by Act of Parliament, to be held yearly in Dunfermline, on the second Wednesday of January.  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 475.)

  THE DRUMMER AND THE PIPER’S DUTIES.—“13th Augt., 1701.  The said day the ocunsell statute and ordained that in all time coming after the day heirof, the pyper go throu the toun precisely by six at night, and the drum at seven a cloak; thereafter that the bell ring at eight and ten at night, both summer and winter; and that the drum go by four in the morning, yt the bell ring at five a cloak, and ye pyper do againe at six and ordained this form to be observed punctually in all time coming.”  (Burgh Records.)

  A DEAD MAN FOUND IN THE MUIR.—Seven Pints of Ale given for bringing him to Dunfermline.—“7th August.  The said day the counsel approved the baillies ordering the thesaurer to give seven pints of ale to some persons for bringing in a man who died in the town muir.”  (Burgh Records.)

  THE LAST SPECIMEN OF A DISTRICT WITCH.—According to the Torryburn Parish Records of 1701, Lilias Adie, the witch, died in Dunfermline prison, and was thrown into a hole dug for her near high water mark at Torryburn.  Some of her remains were discovered in 1862.  The late Joseph Paton, Esq., Wooer’s Alley, had her skull in his collection of curiosities.

  1702.—WEAVING.—Early in the year 1702, a weaver of the name of Inglis wove a shirt in the loom.  It was made of unbleached coarse linen yarn, and is now in a very dilapidated state.  Some artist, “unknown to fame.” Has made some rude paintings on it, apparently appropriate to the trade, which has spoiled it very much.  This ingenious specimen of weaving now is, and has been for some years past, in the possession of the writer.  (See An. Dunf. dates 1808, 1813, &c.; also Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 379.)

  THE QUEEN’S PROCLAMATION—Perquisites to Officials.—“21 March, 1702:  The said day the counsel ordained David Wilson to give to the officers, puper, and drummer, unto each of them a shilling sterling for their attendance at the queen’s proclamation.”  (Burgh Records.)  This proclamation refers to that of Anne, daughter of James II., who ascended the throne on *th March, 1702, on the demise of William III.

  ELIZABETH HALKET and the poem of “Hardy-knute.”—Elizabeth Halket, second daughter of Sir Charles Halket, of Pitfirrane, is supposed to have composed the celebrated war-poem of “Hardy-knute,” about the year 1702.  (Finlay’s Domestic Ballads, &c.; see also An. Dunf. date 1262, 1719, 1727.)

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—Sir James Halket, of Pitfirrane, was re-elected Provost, Oct. 6, 1701.

   DUNFERMLINE RACES AND PRIZE SADDLE.—“16th July, 1702:  The said day the counsel ordained the thesaurer to put out a saddle on the toun’s account, to be ridden on the morn after July mercat, betwixt the toungreen and buckieburn, back and fore, ye imput; each horse Ilib. 10s., the horse not to be above 5lib. sterling value, and ordained the thesaurer also to buy a bonnet and a pair of stockings, to be exposed for a foot-race on his same ground immediately after the horse race with ribbons to the bonnet.”  (Burgh Records.)

  COMMISSIONER TO PARLIAMENT.—Sir James Halket, Provost, was elected to be the commissioner for the Burgh in Parliament, 17th September.  (Burgh Records.)

  THE EAST AND CROSSWYND PORTS IN A RUINOUS STATE.—“August 22, 1702: The counsel ordained the thesaurer to cause mind the east and crocewynd ports with all expedition, they now being ruinous and like to fall.”  (Burgh Records.)

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—Sir James Halket was re-elected Provost of the Burgh on 5th October.  (Burgh Records.)

  THE CATTLE MARKET.—The Cattle Market, which had hitherto been held in the Netherton, was, by Act of Town Council, removed on 14th November to Collier Row and Rotten Row—(Burgh Records)—much against “the will and pleasure of the inhabitants.””

  1703.—EDUCATION—Opposition to Private Schools.—“13th Feb, 1703: The said day Mr. Patrick Dykes, master of the Grammar School, Dunf:  having given in a complaint to the counsel, representing that Hohn Anderson and Thomas Hanna had at their own hand Sett up private Schools in this town, contrary to several acts of the town counsel, and to Mr. Dykes great discouragement; Therefore, the counsel unanimously discharge the said John Anderson and Thomas Hanna and oyr persons qtsoever to sett up schools within the territories of this burgh, and teach any male children hereafter, accept such as shall be under seven years of age, and that under the paine of twentie pound scots, toties quoties—the one-half  of the fine to ye town, and the other half to ye schoolmaster and doctor.”  (Burgh Records.)

  EPISCOPALIANS of Dunfermline get the use of one of the Abbey Vaults for Worship.--The “meeting house” referred to under date 1701, appears to have been unsuitable.  The Episcopalians, through Mr. Logan, one of their members, solicited Lord Yester to give the use of one of his vaults in the Abbey to worship in, which his Lordship readily granted.  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 427.)

  IRON WEIGHTS for the burgh to be got from Holland.—“16th Sept. 1703: The said day the counsel ordains the thesaurer to send to Holland for 12 stand of trone yetling weights, consisting of a Stone, a half-pound, a quarter, 2 pound, and 1 pound each stand.”  (Burgh Records.)

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—Sir James Halket re-elected Provost 11th October.  (Burgh Records.)

  THE FLESHERS and Blown Meat.—“13th Nov. 1703: The said day the magistrates and counselors discharged and by thir prsnt discharges all fleshers either freemen or strangers in any time coming within the territories of this burgh to blaw sheep, lambs or calfs, or to expose such blawn meat for seall under the pain of forfeiting each beast blawn as said is, and fourteen shillings scots of fine besides, and also discharges all other manner of working of sheeps, calfs or lambs under the paine of fourteen shillings for each wrought calf or sheep, and 40s. for each wrought lamb, and also discharges all manner of cutting or carving of kine or oxen, except only on fliep or ye soulders and one squint cutt on one of the hinder legs, and also all cutting of sheep except an even in score in ye shoulder and a fliep in ye rumpell, and yt under the paine of six shillings 8d. for each cutt in a sheep and 40s. for each cutt in a lamb.  And ordains the baillies to give one-half of yr fines to ye poor of ye toun and ye oyr half to ye poor of ye trade yt need.”  (Burgh Records.)

  THE SPITTAL BRIDGE IN RUINS.—“11 Dec. 1703: Ordains the baillies to take some skill’d men to visit the Case of the Spittle bridge, in order to repair the ruins of it.”  This useful bridge was not rebuilt until the end of the year 1706, when “ye shyre was content to give sixty pounds and ye toun 40lib.”  (Burgh Records.)

  1704.—NEW BURGESSES AND “MARCH STONES.”—“10 June, 1704: That day the counsel statute and ordained that all persons who shall bereafter be admitted burgesses yt ye freemen’s sons or not shall before yr admission be obliged to give bond to put in a new large march stone payment of yr burges dues, and yt even gratis burgesses shall be liable to this act as soon as they shall settle their residence within this burgh.”  (Burgh Records.)

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—Sir James Halket was re-elected Provost of the burgh, 9th October, 1704.  (Burgh Records.)

  FOOT MANTLE AND THE PROVOST.—“29 Nov. 1704: This day the magistrates and toun counsellers having taken to their consideration the extraordinary charges that the family of Pitfirrane has frequently been at on the toun’s account, and particularly the great expense that Sir James Halket, our provost, has of late been putt to for the honour of the toun in providing a foot-mantle at the riding of the parliament, and that the provost has gifted the said foot-mantle to the toun;  Therefore ye sd  magistrates and toun counsellers did and hereby do make offer to ye sd Mir James of ye heall bygone annual rents of ye prsnt sum of 3000 mks due by him to the toun , conform to his father’s bond, the same extending betwixt Lambmas, 1698 (fra which terms ye sds annual rents are due), and martinmas last, 1704, to ye sum of six hundred and ninety pounds scots, and of which annual rents resting preceeding the term of martns last ye sd magistrates and toun counsellers do unanimously discharge ye sd Sir James Halket now and for ever.  Also, ye sd day ye magistrates and toun counsellers ordered a press to be made for ye keeping of ye sd foot-mantle, and ordains James Pringle to keep it.  Sic Subtur., JER. COWIE.”  (Burgh Records.)

  DOCTOR OF THE GRAMMAR SCHOOL ELECTED.—“27th Dec., 1704:  This day the counsel unanimously elected Mr. Thomas Anderson to be doctor of the grammar school, in place of peetir Kennedie, latelie decased, and appointed a corum of the counsel to install him at two a clock afternoon, and desired the ministers to be invited to be present.”  (Burgh Records)  Doctor, as here applied, means second master, or assistant to the master of the school.  It is an old designation. 

  MASON LODGE.—“27th Dec., 1704:  By a pluaralitie of voices, Continueous James Mudie, Deacon, and John Stavin, Warden for ane yeir to come.”  (Masons’ Register.)

  QUEEN’S PRESENTATION TO FIRST CHARGE OF ABBEY CHURCH.—The First Charge, under the Queen’s presentation, was reported in the Presbytery Records of 25th April, 1705, to have been vacant from Candlemas, 1693, to Martinmas, 1700.

  1705.—PROVOST HALKET KILLED by a fall from his horse.—Sir James Halket of Pitfirrane, Provost, was killed in March this year (1705), by a fall from his horse.  “The baronetcy, in consequence, became extinct, but he was succeeded in the estate of Pitfirrane by his eldest sister Janet, who intermarried with Sir Peter Wedderburn of Gosford (created a baronet of Nova Scotia in 1697), who was obliged to assume the name and arms of Halket of Pitfirrane.”  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 298.)

  MR. HUGH KEMP demitted his charge in Dunfermline Church in consequence of his having accepted a call from Carnbee, to which he was translated.  (Fernie’s Hist. Dunf. p. 35.)

  THE PROVINCIAL SYNOD OF FIFE assembled in Dunfermline Church, 22nd March, 1705.  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 436.)

  EAST PORT ordered to be repaired.—“22nd May, 1705:  This day the counsel ordained James Meldrome to cause repair the east port.”  (Burgh Records.)

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—In consequence of the death of the late Provost, a new Provost was wlwcted.  “25th June, 1705:  This day Sir Peter Halket compeared persnlie before ye counsel, and his instructions insert in ye book of ye date of his election.  He gave his promise and word of honour to obey them, and qtoyr instructions ye counsel should fra time to time give him.”  Sir Peter Halket was re-elected Provost at the usual annual elections on 8th October, 1705.  (Burgh Rec.)

  COCK-FIGHTING was “one of the popular amusements” about this period in Dunfermline, as elsewhere.  The barbarous sport of cockfighting was introduced into Dunfermline on the day before Yule, in 1705, when the auld kirk-yard was selected for the field of action; a great crowd attended.  Afterwards, when “The Queen’s House” became uninhabited, the fights were held in one of the large rooms in that old building on Auld Handsel Mondays.  “Admission, front seats, 6d,; second seats, 3d.; and Id. For back seats.”  These fights appear to have been abolished about 1797, but were afterwards revived for a short period.  (MSS., Tradition, &c.)

  1706.—DUNFERMLINE CHURCH-YARD TO BE PROTECTED BY GATES.—“23d Feb., 1706:  This day the counsell appointed David Wilson to build up what of the kirkyeard are ruinous, and put yeats on the entry’s, in respect that the heritors have condescended that it be allowed in the first end of the touns proportion of the reparation of the church, and that both heritors, toun consell, and session, have appointed the bellman, who possesses the grass, to uphold it in time coming.”  (Burgh Records.)  There were at this period two entries into the Kirkyard, but without gates.  The new gates, then erected, were situate as follows:  A large massive gateway on the site of the present entrance facing Kirkgate.  The other one was erected in the Kirkyard Wall, near the foot of St. Catherine’s Wynd; This gate was removed and the entrance filled up in 1823.  At the same time a new gateway was built facing the Kirkgate, on the site of the old one.  (See also An. Dunf. date 1823.)

  PITREAVIE WILDERNESS.—An old MS. note mentions that “the wilderness way of planting” was introduced into Scotland about the year 1699, and that a great many acres were planted with trees on “the wilderness system at Pitreavie;”  hence the origin of “Pitreavie Wilderness”—a name no extenct in 1878.  (See also Chambers’s Gazetteer of Scotland, Article “Haddingtonshire,” p. 518.)

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—Sir Peter Halket re-elected provost of the Burgh, 5th October.  (Burgh Records.)

  CURSERS AND SWEARERS” TO BE SEIZED BY THE SEIZERS.—“23d October, 1706:  This day the counsell instructed the constables to sease all cursers and swearers, and all that  shall be found committing ryots either by night or day and ordains ye balillies to give ye constable apprehender a shilling for his pains of ye first end of ye fine; also, to informanent all vagabonds who come to reside in ye toun without testificals.”

  OPPOSITION TO THE UNION BETWEEN SCOTLAND AND ENGLAND.—The Magistrates and Town Council, with the greater part of the inhabitants of Dunfermline, were “bitterly opposed to the Union,” and, in consequence, sent a letter to Sir Peter Halket, their member in the Scottish Parliament, to vote and protest against it.  The following are copies of the Council minutes regarding “the matter”:--“4th Nov., 1706:  That day the counsell signed a letter to Sir Peter Halker, their commissioner to the parliament, instructing and requiring him to vote against and protest against ye union, and elected ye deacon converner to go and deliver ye letter, and get ane answer.” “6th Nov., 1706—That day the counsel having got a letter fra Sir Peeter Halket that he was content to give in ane address fra the counsel ordain an address to be frawn up to be pnted to ye parliament, and commissionat ye clerk to go over and deliver it to Sir peeter, and to wait on till ye address be presented.”  (Burgh Records, Nov. 4th and 6th, 1706.)  The writer has in his possession one of these printed on a sheet of strong paper 17 3/4x15 inches.  In order to preserve the ocntects of such a remarkable document, it is here reproduced, viz.:--


The Humble Address of the Magistrates, Town-Council, Merchants, Deacons of Crafts, and others, Tradesmen and Inhabitants of the Burgh of Dunlermling:--

We the Magistrates, Town Council, Merchants, Deacons of Crafts, and other Tradesmen and Inhabitants within the Burgh of Dunfermling underscribing:  Having seen and Considered the Articles of the Union agreed upon by the Commissioners for the Kingdom of Scotland and England, in which they have agreed:  That Scotland and England be united into one Kingdom, and that the United Kingdom shall be Represented by one and the same Parliament:  And seeing it does not evidently appear that such an incorporating Union, as is contained in the said Articles, is contrary to the Honour, Fundamental Laws, and Constitution of this Kingdom, Claim of Right and Rights and Privileges of the burrows and Church Government, as by Law Established:  And that the same is destructive to the true interest of this Nation:  Therefore, We humbly beseech Your Grace, and the Honourable Estates, and do confidently expect that you will not allow any such Incorporating Union; but that you will Support and Preserve entire the Sovereignty and Independency of this Crown and Kingdom, and the Rights and Privileges of Parliament, which have been so valiantly maintained by our Heroick Ancestors for near 2000 yeirs;  That the same may be transmitted to succeeding Generations, as they have been conveyed to us; and we will heartily concur with you for Supporting and Maintaining our Sovereignty and Independency with our Lives and Fortunes conform to the Laws of the Nation—

James Richardson   Robert Donald   Andrew Hepburn   Alexander Coventry   Thomas Hanna   James Henderson   John Jamison   William Hodge   Alexander Couper   John Horn   James Kellock   James Wardlaw   Robert Bauld   James Hall   James Richardson   James French   John Wilkie

James Law   David Black   Thomas Wilson   John Cunninghame   Adam Stevinson   William Anderson   James Smith

William Ker   John Anderson   Robert Adamson   Robert Drysdale   James Buist   Robert Ferguson   George Crawford   James Legat   John Buntine  

John Wilson, Deacon   James Wilson   John Stark   Patrick Hutton   James Trunbull   David Marres   James Wilson   Charles Kirk   Andrew Wilson   William Kirk   Thomas Drysdale   Thomas Richardson   Alexander Douglas   John Gotterson   John Black   John Williamson   William Wilson  David Dalglish   John Ker   Andrew Wilson   James Shortlands   John Wilson   John Wilson, alter   Robert Gotterson   Robert Wilson   Robert Strachan   Robert buist   John Durham   Robert Dalgleish   Adam Robertson   Andrew Young   Robert Black   Robert Stark   Thomas Bain   Magnus Malcolm   Robert Inch   George Pullans   William Beanny   Robert Mackeraigh   John Inglis  John Mackeraigh

John Main, Deacon   Andrew Wilson   John Simpson   John Potter George Walker   George Walls  Thomas French   Thomas Bonnar   John Henderson   James Henderson   John Mair   James Kirk   Patrick Thomson   William Hutton   James French   Thomas Richardson

James Signet   Charles Young   David Hunter James Sumervel   David Purvis   William Murgain  

Andrew Duncan, Deacon   George Stewart   John Young   Andrew Main  

John Hodge, Deacon   James Cusin   Robert Kirk   John Belfrage   Thomas Beverage   Thomas Beverage   George Philip   William Taylor   William Welwood   John Burly   Andrew Belfrage

David Adie, Baillie   David Adie, yr., Baillie   Jerome Cowie, Dean of Guild   William Wilson, Treasurer   David Wilson, Counsellor   John Cowie, Counsellor   James Meldrum, Coun.   Laurence Henderson , Counseller   William Inglis, Coun.   William Findlay, Coun.   William Young, Coun.   James Walls, Coun.

William Black   Hendry Elder   Robert Anderson   John Hart   John Belfour   William Wilson   Thomas Mitchel   Andrew Polland   Robert Adie   Charles Chambers   John Hay   Patrick Clow   Joseph Kirk   John Couper   William Wilson  Robert Robison   James Dick   David Gray   George Christie   John Watson   Patrick Currie   John Brown   John Allan   James Pringle   John bethon   Robert Wilson   David Meldrum   Robert Walker

Ego Andreas Symson, Notarius Publicus a scriba dicto de Dumferling, speciali mandato, Davidis Sands, Gulielmi Pierson, Jacobi Band, &c.; Gulielmi Robertson Fabrorum Ferrariorum in dicto Burgo ac Roberti Wellwood, Andreæ Smeitton, Jacobi Wilson, Calceariorum in dicto Burgo, &c.; Joannis Rea, Jacobi Beannie, Tomæ Wilson, Joannis Hepburn, &c.; Jacobi Mappertoun, Sartorum in dicto Burgo, &c,; Eduardi Ovenwhyt, Andreæ Meanny, &c.; Joannis beanny, Fabrorum Murariorum ibidem, ac Petri Nigrew, Alexandri Grieve, Roberti Crawford, Joannis Broun, Andreæ Morrice, Roberti Durham, Gulielmi Kirk, Andreæ Chrystie, Jacobi Walker, Gulielmus Walker, Davidis Chrystie, Gulielmi Eason, Jacobi Broun, &c,; Joannis Thomson Fabrorum Lignariorum, &c,’ Gulielmi Cusin Lanioris in dicto Burgo pro ilis omnibus scribere nescien tibus specialiter requistus subscribo,


  LITERATURE,--Dr. Steedman (surgeon), Dunfermline, published this year “A Treatise on Astronomy,” explaining the general Phenomena of the Heavenly Bodies, and the Theory of the Tides,  Published at Edinburgh, 1706, at Is.  (Title Page.)

  1707.—THE “UNION QUESTION” and Discontent.—Sir Peter Halket, of Pitfirrane, Provost of Dunfermline and Burgh Commissioner to Parliament, was pressingly charged by the burgh to deliver their Address to Parliament, and to vote against the Union.  This he solemnly promised to do.  He in due time presented the Address, but voted for the Union!  This inconsistency and want of moral rectitude in the Provost “caused a wide-spread spirit of discontent an dill-will against him.”  It is said that “his conduct gave so great offence to the council and inhabitants that Sir Peter did not show face in Dunfermline for twelve months afterwards.”  (Mercer’s History Dunf. p. 96; Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 279.)  If this really happened, it is singular that the Town Council, on the first election of Provost thereafter, re-elected him to be their Provost, and continued to do so for twenty-seven years.

  The Act of Union was “a great and glorious act” for both contries, but the good deed was not accomplished without a blemish.  A great many of the Burgh Commissioners or Representatives had a price, it would appear, and such were secured, to vote in favour of the Union, and “considerable personal advantages held out to them besides.”  It has been supposed that “Sir Peter had been threatened by those high in power, the granters of privileges, that if he did not vote in favour of the Union, his coal privileges would not be renewed, and thus Sir Peter, perhaps against his better inclinations, was forced to vote contrary to his promise.”  Thirty-three burghs voted for the Union and twenty-nine against it.  (Marshall’s “History of the Union,” and other works.)

  CROWN RATIFICATION OF COAL PRIVILEGES TO SIR PETER HALKET.—From a remote period, the family of Pitfirrane had a government privilege of exporting their coals to foreign parts free of all duty whatever.  This privilege was renewed by Queen Anne on 21st December, 1706, and was ratified in the United Parliament, London, on March 21st, 1707 (see also Annals, date 1788).  It will be observed that the renewed “Pitirrane coal privilege” is dated 21st December, 1706, shortly before “the Union became an accomplished fact,” and the Crown ratification of it three months after the renewal.  (See Crown Charters; Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 21, &c.)

  THE CUSTOMS, &C., OF FOUR OF THE FAIRS TO BE ROUPED.—“23rd April, 1707:  This day the counsell ordains the customes of ye foure old fairs—laddle of the meall tron, and small customes—to be rouped on Wednesday next, and declaires ye July and October faires free of a custom for a year.”  (Burgh Rec.)  The “ladle” was a small one; the “holder of it” had the power of dipping it into every sack-mouth containing meal that was exposed for sale, and to “put the ladle-fu’ into his own private bag.”  (Tradition, and MS.)

  THE RACE SADDLE.—“4th Aug.:  The said day warrants the treasurer to pay the sadler 6 pounds for ye sadle ridden at July mercat last.”  (Burgh Rec.)

  A COMPASS FOR THE COAL HEUGH.—“29th Augt.:  The counsell appoints the thesaurer to buy a good compass for the use of the heugh.”  (Burgh Rec.)

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—“8 Oct. 1707:  The said day the grand counsell re-elected Sir Peter Halket Provost; David Adie, yr and David Wilson, baillies.  (Burgh Rec.)

  THE LATE FISCAL’S SALARY AND THE FOOT-MANTLE.—“11TH Oct. 1707:  The counsell warranated Wm. Wilsone to pay Helen Broun, four pound ten, P. in compleat payment of her husbands fiscall  cellary till michaelmas next; including his service for keeping the carpet on ye seat in the Kirk:  Also, ordains, a foot gar to be made at ye officers seat in the [Kirk?] for holding ye carpet and ye officer to keep it.”  (Burgh Rec.)

  1708.—GREAT SNOW-STORM.—Several old accounts refer to this snow-storm.  It continued without intermission for eight days; the streets in some place were 12 to 20 feet deep in snow.  The followed a frost which continued for nearly three months.  (Notes on Dunf.)

  DUNFERMLINE PALACE.—Fall of the North Gable and Roof.—According to several old MS. notes, “the Palace, previous to this period, had been long neglected, and suffered to become ruinous,” and “early in the year 1708, the north gable wall and part of the front wall fell, along with the greater part of the roof;” henceforward it became an utter ruin.

“So fades, so perishes, grows dim, and dies,
all that the world is proud of.”

Probably the great snow-storm and frost of this year hastened the fall of the Palace wall and gable.  (MSS. And Tradition; also Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 99.)

  SEAL OF CAUSE TO THE WEAVERS.—“18th May, 1708:  This day the counsell granted a new gift, or Seal of Cause, to the Weavers.”  (Burgh Records.)  This Seal of Cause, as well as similar documents, occupy 2 or 3 pp. folio of the Records. 

  ANCIENT BURIAL CUSTOM ABOLISHED.—“22 April, 1708:  The whch day the counsell taking to their consideration yt it has beena n ancient custome of the burgh at burials to invite ye magistrates, counsell and oyr burgers up to ye burials immediately before lifting of ye corps and yt ye sd custome is both uneasie to the people who must wait a long time on ye street till ye magistrates come out, and besides makes a confusion when too many people goes up to the buriall house, considering yt ye best burgh in the nation has left of yt custome, and the counsell yr for, for avoiding confusion and observing more decency at such occasions, have and hereby, do resolve and enact, yt in all time coming, no magistrate, counsellor, or burgar (tho invited) go up to ye buriall house immediately before lifting of ye corps in time coming, except they be near relations of the defunct.”  (Burgh Rec.)

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—“11th October, 1708:  The said day the grand counsell, continued and re-elected Sir Peter Halket Provost.”  (Burgh Records.)

  NEW WEIGHTS AND MEASURES TO BE BOUGHT.—“20TH Nov. 1708:  The counsell commissionat baillie Wilsone to go to Edinburgh to procure a letter fra ye provost of Ed. To Lithgou, Lanark, and Stirline for ye new english standard of weights and measures and if he procure ym. to go to ye sd touns and receive them and pay yr dues.”  (Burgh Records.)

  BRASS JUGS AND ELL-MEASURE FOR USE OF THE BURGH.—“29th Nov. 1708:  Ordains baillie Wilsone to writ to deacon Inglis at Edinburgh to cast two brass jugs for ye use of this burgh, and to get stamped by ye dean of gild of Edinburgh’s stamp:  Also, orders Adam Stevinson to make a iron eln and yard, according to the english standard, and it to be sent to Edinburgh there to get the dean of Gild’s stamp.”  (Burgh Records.)  “Adam Stevinson’s charge for his job, including the irons for lettering, was ten shillings.”  Are these weights, measures, jugs, &c., still in existence?

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