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EDINBURGH EPISODES, 1664-65. (FROM THE FOUNTAINHALL FOLIO.) Part 1. TOWN CLERK versus PROVOST., N. A. J. (Mar., 1895), pp.148-150.

1“ABOUT this tyme when the Toune was so strongly divided in tua contrary factions of merchants and trades2 was Sir Androw Ramsaye chosen Provest of Edenburgh: he after great paines tane by him and considerable indevers betuixt the 2, at last wholly suppressed the same, so that flame, which had almost spread over every individuall persone, was quenched. After that tyme their fell nothing out considerable in the toune (except the sale of the citadell3 by my Lord Lauderdale to the toune for which he got 6000lb Sterling) till the 17 of August 1664, tho the said Sir Androw’s paines was not wanting all this tyme in setling his majesties interest in relation to church affairs, thosse of the toune of Edenburgh being none of the peaceablest nor best set people to the present governement in the Kingdome: on the forsaid 17 day the Toune Counsell deposed Sir William Thomsone their clerk for his maleversation in his office; that same day he engagded all the Advocats that ware in toun, and raised presently a Summonds before the Lords of Session of Reduction of the act of deposition as contrary to the Decreitt arbitrall which appoints, at the electing or deposing of any Servants that hes offices or benefices of the toune, their be a full counsell, the haill Deacons of Crafts being called thereto tymously re integrâ to give their Speciall wote and consultation theirunto, which was not done with Sir William, and some other grounds, weirin after many hearings he succumbed, and the Lords fand the Toune Counsell their act upon the matter was just4 and that the existence of such a fault as was contained in his deposition was resolutor of his gift and did make his right to the place woid. In this pershuit he laboured to amuse the trades and to draw them to his pairty, as if it had bein something of their concernement, and prævailed on some of them to side with him by the means of John Milne Mr Masson (which 2 played to anothers hands) and they made such a Caballe in the City that forsooth none could be magistrats nor any bussines done but all of ther contryvance, and before they would let that mistery of iniquity fall to the ground they did hold it up by all ill arts imaginable. Their was nothing in Sir Williams busines that concerned the Trades, but on the contrare Sir William and John Mylne had so lorded over them that a considerable part of them complained that they had ruined many particular callings. And never ware any so vigilant as Sir William and his agents ware to load Sir Androw with all the calumneyes and reproaches their envy and malice could invent but they appeared to be meir inventions of his oune to every indifferent persone. And tho their was never so much profuse liberality used by any ever before (this being that which first inured the Advocats to great salaries) both with Advocats, and I fear likewayes with Lords, and great things promised to some if he should win his cause (and then the good toune behoved to have payed for all) and tho at the election of the magistrats in october 1664 he left no course unessayed to turne of the wholle Counsell that ware his ennemies, and particularly Sir Androw, and essaied to bribe Severalls, and in Speciall offered 100lb sterling for on woite which was proponed by the tounes Advocats at the bar who had also famous persones present to prove the same, but not so much as one word was replied to the contrarie of it; and tho nothing would satisfie him but to come in over the belly of all opposition; yet (as the Scots proverb goes) falsehood hes no feet and when providence takes once a running against ane old practitioner of treacherie it will never rest till it exalt truth and decrie falshood and make him fall in the ditch that he had digged for others. When the winter session 1665 was past and he saw their was no hopes of gaining his proces but great appearance to the contrare, he in March took up his proces fra the clerks and went out of toune with it, which the Lords declared to be a great injurie done to their court: and yet he was so impudent as to speak of his busines with confidence as if he had not been already foilʒed. But when the Provest had got the upper hand of Sir William their fell in another traverse that afflicted him not a litle, which was that by my Lord Rothes then Comissioner of the Clerk Registers power he was forced to accept of Mr Thomas Young for toune clerk (I have sein some letters that ware written in behalfe of Mr Archibald Wilkie to that place) who was equally as unpleasant to the Provest as Sir William had been. And it was merely to do Mr Thomas prejudice that Sir Androw at London in 1667 condeschended the office of clerkship should be burdened to Sir William Thomsone (who after he saw their was nought to be gained heir went for London and dealt most powerfully with my Lord Lauderdale by money, with the meanest of whosse servants he ordinarly conversed by drinking with them and giving them largely) with 4000 merks per annum during his lifetyme, to which I suppose he would not so easily have assented if he had forsein that Mr Thomas would have bruiked it so short while as he did. At this tyme did Sir Androw procuire from the King 200lb sterling a yeir annexed to the Provest of Edenburghs place for all tyme coming; he also reconciled My Lord Lauderdale and My Lord Midletoun: as also Lauderdale and St Androis.

N. A. J.”


1 As to this MS. See p. 78 supra. The passages here transcribed occur in the part “Number 3” of the MS. ff. 54-56.
2 See the article, p. 78 supra.
3 Of Leith. See Acts Parl. Scot. vii. 520. 
4 In Lord Fountainhall’s Historical Notices of Scottish Affairs (Bannatyne Club), i. p. 3, there is a reference to the plea between the “Toune of Edenburgh” and Sir William, in which the Lords “fand the cause of his deposition relevant.” 
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