THE wild joy with which the people of England hailed the close of anarchy and military tyranny in the restoration of Charles II. to the throne, was fully participated in Scotland by a small loyalist party. The bulk of the community were also made happy by the event, for they were pleased to see the monarchy restored, accompanied as the event was by the revivial of their national independence; but the general happiness was mixed with anxiety regarding the fate of their favourite Church, to which they had long been accustomed to consider all other institutions as subordinate.
Very naturally, the men of high rank who had done and suffered most for the cause of monarchy in the late evil days were appointed to be at the head of affairs in Scotland. The Earl of Glencairn, chief of the guerrilla resistance to Cromwell in 1653, was made Chancellor. Major-general Middleton, who had finally commanded in that insurrection, and was now promoted to the peerage as Earl of Middleton, was appointed to be his majesty’s commissioner to parliament. The Earls of Crawford and Lauderdale, Presbyterian monarchists of 1650-1, who had since suffered a ten years’ imprisonment in England, were made respectively Lord Treasurer and Secretary of State. With them came a host of inferior officials, all more or less under a sense of suffering through over-zealous Presbyterianism, and mostly eager to repair their broken fortunes at the expense of their enemies. At the same time, the Courts of Session and Justiciary were reconstructed, in place of the English judicatories which had sat for the last eight years.
The vengeance of the new government fell only on those who had carried the Presbyterian views to a disloyal extreme, or who had complied with Cromwell. The chief victim was the Marquis of Argyll, who no doubt had placed the crown on the king’s head at Scone in 1651, but who had also been the prime leader in nearly all those movements subsequent to 1638, which had been so destructive to the interests of royalty.
The one great subject remaining for consideration was the Church – how was it to be settled? The moderate or Resolutionist party in the Church, being the great majority, had sent Mr James Sharpe, minister of Crail, to represent their interests in the little body of men surrounding the king at his return from the continent. But Mr Sharpe proved unable to resist the contagion of feeling to which he was exposed; he was induced to consent to the restoration of prelacy, and to take the position of primate. The Presbyterians considered themselves as betrayed by their own representative. The bishops of 1638 being all dead but one, and he unable to travel, Sharpe and three other Presbyterian clergymen received the rite of consecration in London, and, returning, imparted it to the other bishops in Holyrood Church. In May 1662, an act of the Estates formally reconstituted the Church on the Episcopal model; the bulk of the people quietly submitting to what they could not resist, while the more earnest regarded it as a desertion of Christ’s own standard, calculated to bring down judgments upon the land.
The new Church had scarcely been constituted, when the unwiseness of the step might have easily been seen. The clergy generally, but especially in the south-western counties, showed their unwillingness to give up their collective powers into the hands of the bishops. On a precipitate edict of the Archbishop of Glasgow, calling on the ministers of his province who had been inducted since 1649 to take out new presentations from the patrons, and receive collation from their bishops, three hundred and fifty, being a third of the entire Church, resigned their cures. The people of those parishes were commanded under heavy pains to attend the regular church, however odious the new minister might be to them. Even to go to the church of some neighbouring parish where there was still one of the old clergy officiating, was forbidden under the like penalties. Finally, bodies of soldiery were sent to raise the fines, or to exact free quarters till the fines were paid. These soldiers would enter the churches of the old Presbyterian clergy yet in possession of their pulpits, noting such of the congregation as could not swear that they belonged to the parish, taking the money from their pockets, or stripping them of articles of wearing apparel, as a punishment for their breach of law. In some districts, where a very earnest feeling of religion prevailed, the people were harassed and impoverished to a degree that made them anxious to leave their native country.
Middleton’s administration came to a sudden close in 1663, in consequence of an intrigue against Lauderdale; and the latter noble then succeeded to the chief power. Although he had been a Presbyterian, and was not originally in favour of setting up the Episcopal Church, his rule brought no relief. Still, there was a certain leniency in high quarters, till Sharpe, in order to secure unfaltering severity, obtained the erection of a court of commission, in which the prelates should have chief sway. Then came a mercilessness greater than before. The doings of the soldiery were such as to produce an approach to desolation in certain districts. Ministers, for merely performing worship in their own houses, were thrown into vile prisons, or banished to half-desert islands. Even to give charity to any of the proscribed clergy was declared to be a crime. When the war with Holland commenced in the spring of 1665, it was feared that there would be an insurrection in the west of Scotland, and the whole district was consequently disarmed. Nevertheless, in November of the ensuing year, the extreme severity of the soldiery under Sir James Turner occasioned a partial resistance at Dalry, in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, and in a little time a small body of insurgents was collected. Marching through Ayrshire, their numbers increased to about two thousand, and they then turned towards Edinburgh, where they expected considerable accessions. It was a hasty and ill-considered affair, springing merely from the sense of intolerable suffering. The government, having a small standing army at its disposal, was at no moment in the least danger. About nine hundred poor half-armed peasants made a final stand at Rullion Green, on the eastern skirts of the Pentland Hills, where they were attacked by a strong body of dragoons under Sir Thomas Dalyell, routed, and dispersed (November 28, 1666). Many were killed on the field and in the pursuit, and eighteen were afterwards executed in Edinburgh. Several of these were previously tortured to extort confession, the instrument used being a loose frame of wood called the Boot, into which wedges were driven so as to crush the limb of the prisoner. Thirty-five more were executed in the country, not without some difficulty to the authorities, as the executioners generally refused to exercise their profession against such culprits.
Soon after this time, the extreme severity of the government in Scotland made itself heard of and felt at court, and orders were sent down for the adoption of gentler measures. In 1668, a milder rule was established under the Earl of Tweeddale, who would at once have proceeded to grant some ‘indulgence’ to the Presbyterians, but for an attempt being made to shoot Archbishop Sharpe, as he was about to step into his carriage in Edinburgh. As it was, the Indulgence was granted next year, and consisted in permitting such of the extruded clergy as had lived peaceably to return to their parishes when a vacancy occurred, receiving the whole temporalities if they should take collation from the bishops; and where they did not, to be allowed the use of the manse and glebe; further, allowing four hundred merks per annum to all outed ministers, while unpresented to charges, provided they had lived peaceably, and would agree to do so in future. This was in reality a measure of greater generosity than the Presbyterian Church had ever extended to dissenters; yet it was not attended with much good.
Sep. 13. – The Letter-office at Edinburgh was in 1649 under the care of Mr John Mean, a merchant noted throughout the reign of Charles I. for his zeal as a Presbyterian; which, however, had not forbidden him to be also a strenuous loyalist. Latterly, the same function had been bestowed upon Messrs Mew and Barringer, who, from their names, may be supposed to have been Englishmen, friends of the Cromwellian rule. At the date now noted, the king bestowed the office upon Robert Mean, superseding the two above-mentioned officials, and the Committee of Estates accordingly inducted him, ‘requiring the postmaster of Haddington to direct the packets constantly from time to time to the said Robert Mean, and cause the same to be delivered to him at Edinburgh.’ – R. C. E.
Sep. 28. – William Woodcock, ‘late officer in Leith,’ was this day licensed by the magistrates of Edinburgh to set up ‘ane hackney-coach, for service of his majesty’s lieges, betwixt Leith and Edinburgh.’ The hire up and down for a single person was to be a shilling; and if the person engaging the carriage chose to wait for one or two persons more to accompany him, the same fare was to be sufficient. ‘If any mae nor three, each man to pay four shillings Scots [fourpence sterling] for their hire; and the persons coming up to Edinburgh, to light at the foot of Leith Wynd, for the steyness [steepness] thereof.’ This arrangement was not to prevent Woodcock from ‘serving others going to and from the country to other places, as he and they can agree.’
Jan. 7. – By order of the king, the magistracy of Edinburgh raised the trunk of the Marquis of Montrose from under the gallows on the Burgh-moor, in presence of a great number of nobles, gentlemen, and others, who expressed the most lively interest in the scene.¹ This relic being wrapped in ‘curious cloths’ and put into a coffin, was carried along under a velvet canopy to the Tolbooth, the nobles and gentry attending on horseback, while many thousands followed on foot, colours at the same time flying, drums beating, trumpets sounding, muskets cracking, and cannon roaring from the Castle. At the Tolbooth, the head of the Great Marquis, which had grinned there for ten years, was taken reverentially down, ‘some bowing, some kneeling, some kissing it,’ and deposited in its proper place in the coffin, ‘with great acclamations of joy,’ the trumpets, drums, and cannon giving all possible éclat to the act. The coffin was then carried in solemn procession to the Palace, to rest till a proper funeral ceremony should be ordered. While the ‘excommnicat traitor’ of 1650 was thus treated, the triumphant and all-powerful noble of that time, the Marquis of Argyll, was a prisoner in the Castle, waiting a doom which was precisely to resemble that of Montrose, excepting in some particulars of inhumanity, which vengeful loyalty could not descend to.
The Presbyterian historians, however, have taken care to chronicle that the Laird of Gorthie, who took the head off the spike, died within a few hours, and the Laird of Pitcur, one of Montrose’s great adherents, went to bed in health, and was found dead next morning. This was a mysterious circumstance, which would probably be cleared up if we had a return of the quantity of brandy which Gorthie and Pitcur had drunk on the occasion. ‘Such was the testimony of honour Heaven was pleased,’ says worthy Mr Kirkton, ‘to allow Montrose’s pompous funerals.’
The four members of Montrose were also recovered from the four towns, Glasgow, Perth, Stirling, and Aberdeen, to which they had been severally sent for ignominious exhibition; and these being now placed in the coffin, the body was complete as far as circumstances permitted, excepting that the heart remained in the silver case where Lady Napier had enshrined it, and in which it continued to be preserved, under the care of the Napier family, till the period of the French Revolution.
Four months afterwards (May 11), the ceremonial funeral of Montrose was performed with an amount of joyful display that rendered it a most singular affair. The bells rang all the time while the corpse of Montrose went to its final honourable resting-place in St Giles’s Cathedral. It was remarked that this was a funeral where the relatives of the deceased wore countenances of joy, while there were others, not related to him, who beheld it with sadness and gloom, or shrunk aside into holes and corners, not daring to look upon it.
Jan. 8. – This day appeared the first number of the first original newspaper attempted in Scotland. It was a small weekly sheet, entitled Mercurius Caledonius;** comprising the Affairs now in Agitation in Scotland, with a Survey of Foreign Intelligence. The editor was Thomas Sydserf, or Saint Serf, son of a former bishop of Galloway, who was soon after promoted to the see of Orkney. Principal Bailie alludes to this ‘diurnaler’ in bitter terms – ‘a very rascal, a profane atheistical papist, as some count him;’ the truth being that he was an Episcopalian loyalist of merely a somewhat extravagant type. Little is known of his previous history, beyond his having borne arms under Montrose, and published in London in 1658 a translation from the French under the title of Entertainments of the Cours, or Academicall Conversations, dedicated to the young Marquis of Montrose. Of the Mercurius Caledonius, only nine numbers were published, the last being dated March 28, 1661. It must be admitted that the style of composition and editorship was frivolous and foolish to a degree surprising even for that delirious period.
Mar. – Horse-races were now performed every Saturday on the sands of Leith. they are regularly chronicled amongst the foolish lucubrations of Mercurius Caledonius; as, for example, thus: ‘Our accustomed recreations on the sands of Leith was much hindered because of a furious storm of wind, accompanied with a thick snow; yet we have had some noble gamesters that were so constant at their sport as would not forbear a designed horse-match. It was a providence the wind was from the sea; otherwise they had run a hazard either of drowning or splitting upon Inchkeith! This tempest was nothing inferior to that which was lately in Caithness, where a bark of fifty ton was blown five furlongs into the land, and would have gone further if it had not been arrested by the steepness of a large promontory.’
In the ensuing month, there were races at Cupar in Fife, where the Lairds of Philiphaugh and Stobbs, and Powrie-Fotheringham appear to have been the principal gentlemen who brought horses to the ground. A large silver cup, of the value of £18, formed the chief prize. These Cupar races were repeated annually. It is said they had been first instituted in 1621. – Lam.
May 27. – ‘At two afternoon, the Marquis of Argyll was brought forth of the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, fra the whilk he was conveyed by the magistrates to the place of execution; the town being all in arms, and the life-guard mounted on horseback, with their carabines and drawn swords. The marquis, having come to the scaffold, with sundry of his friends in murning apparel, he made a large speech; after whilk and a short prayer, he committed himself to the block. His head was stricken from his body, and affixed upon the head of the Tolbooth, where the Marquis of Montrose[‘s] was affixed of before. It was thought great favour that he was not drawn and quartered.’ – Nic.
Aug. 17. – This day, John Ray, the eminent naturalist, entered Scotland for a short excursion. In the Itineraries which he has left, he gives, besides zoological observations, some notes on general matters. ‘The Scots, generally (that is, the poorer sort), wear, the men blue bonnets on their heads, and some russet; the women only white linen, which hangs down their backs as if a napkin were pinned about them. When they go abroad, none of them wear hats, but a party-coloured blanket which they call a plaid, over their heads and shoulders. The women, generally, to us seemed none of the handsomest. They are not very cleanly in their houses, and but sluttish in dressing their meat. Their way of washing linen is to tuck up their coats, and tread them with their feet in a tub. They have a custom to make up the fronts of their houses, even in their principal towns, with fir-boards nailed one over another, in which are often made many round holes or windows to put out their heads [called shots or shot-windows]. In the best Scottish houses, even the king’s palaces, the windows are not glazed throughout, but the upper part only; the lower have two wooden shuts or folds to open at pleasure and admit the fresh air. The Scots cannot endure to hear their country or countrymen spoken against. They have neither good bread, cheese, or drink. They cannot make them, nor will they learn. their butter is very indifferent, and one would wonder how they could contrive to make it so bad. They use much pottage, made of coal-wort, which they call keal, sometimes broth of decorticated barley. The ordinary country houses are pitiful cots, built of stone, and covered with turves, having in them but one room, many of them no chimneys, the windows very small holes, and not glazed. In the most stately and fashionable houses in great towns, instead of ceiling, they cover the chambers with fir-boards, nailed on the roof within side. They have rarely any bellows or warming-pans. It is the manner in some places there to lay on but one sheet as large as two, turned up from the feet upwards. The ground in the valleys and plains bears good corn, but especially beer-barley, or bigge, and oats, but rarely wheat and rye. We observed little or no fallow-grounds in Scotland; some layed ground we say which they manured with sea-wreck (sea-weeds). The people seem to be very lazy, at least the men, and may be frequently observed to plough in their cloaks. It is the fashion of them to wear cloaks when they go abroad, especially on Sundays. They lay out most they are worth in clothes, and a fellow that hath scarce ten groats besides to help himself with, you shall see him come out of his smoky cottage clad like a gentleman.’*
This was a year of uncommon abundance, in both grain and fruit, ‘the like never seen heretofore.’ ‘The streets of Edinburgh were filled full of all sorts of fruits… sold exceeding cheap.’ – Nic.
Oct. 15. – Died, the Earl of Balcarres, a boy. ‘The lady his mother caused open him, and in his heart was found a notched stone, the bigness of one’s five fingers, Dr Martin and John Gourlay [apothecary] being present at his embalming.’ – Lam.
Nov. – The clergymen of Edinburgh, five in number, were all displaced for nonconformity to the new Episcopal rule, excepting one, Mr Robert Lowrie, who consequently obtained the name of the Nest Egg. He became Dean of Edinburgh. The inhabitants of the city, not relishing the new ministers, began to desert the churches and go to worship elsewhere. At the same time, the Monday’s sermon, which had for some years been in use, was discontinued.
Mar. – ‘There was ane lioness brought to Edinburgh with ane lamb in its company, with whom she did feed and live; wha did embrace the lamb in her arms, as gif it had been her awn birth.’ – Nic.
‘This year was a very plentiful year of corns and stone-fruit,’ and the ensuing winter was ‘exceeding fair and warm weather, without any frost or snow.’ – Nic.
Jan. – This month and the succeeding, there were many robberies throughout the country, and even in the streets and closes of Edinburgh, ‘occasioned by the poverty of the land, and heavy burdens pressing upon the people; the haill money of the kingdom being spent by the frequent resort of our Scotsmen at the court of England.’ – Nic.
Apr. 20. – One James Elder, a baker in the Canongate, Edinburgh, was tried for usury. The witnesses deponed that they saw him receive eight per cent. from his debtor, and one of them deponed that he refused to accept six per cent. till he got two per cent. more. Being found guilty, his goods were escheat, and he ordered to find security that he would be ready to undergo any further punishment that might be inflicted upon him.
What was then, partly under religious feelings, regarded as a crime, has since come to be held as legitimate traffic; and it is not unworthy of remark that the Bank of England was, at the time of the preparation of this article (November 1857), charging two per cent. more on bills than that rate of interest which caused James Elder in 1664 to forfeit his whole possessions.
July 15. – The Earl of Leven, a young man, grandson of the great commander, ended his life in a manner characteristic of this mad-merry time. ‘He died of a high fever, after a large carouse with the Earl of Dundee at Edinburgh and the Queensferry. Some say that, in crossing, they drank sea-water one to another, and, after their landing, sack.’ A funeral sermon was preached for him, on the text, ‘Our life is but a vapour, &c.,’ being ‘the first funeral sermon that hath been preached in Fife these twenty-four years last past, or more.’ – Lam.
This year, like the two preceding, was remarkable for abundance of the fruits of the earth. ‘Much corn cuttit down in July… the cherries sold at twelve pennies Scots [that is, one penny sterling] the hundred.’ Great penury nevertheless complained of. – Nic.
Dec. – ‘There appeared nightly, frae four hours in the morning till daylight, ane fiery comet, tending in our sight frae the south-east to the north-west, and seen in our horizon betwixt Arthur’s Seat and Pichtland [Pentland] Hills, with ane tail terrible to the beholders… This comet, in the head, was, in our sight, the breadth of ane reasonable man’s hand, and sprang out in the tail the length of five or six ells.’ – Nic. It ‘began to appear about three o’clock in the morning, very terrible in its first apparition; after that, it appeared at evening. It was a star of a more dim and bluish apparition (like a candle dying out) than the rest of the stars, with a long train of lightning from it, sometimes a fathom and a half in appearance, sometimes shorter.’ – Lam.
About the end of this year, Sharpe, Archbishop of St Andrews, purchased the lands of Scotscraig, a good estate in Fife, at 95,000 merks or thereby (about £5540). In the spring of 1669, he made a further purchase of the lands of Strathtyrum, near St Andrews, for about 27,000 merks. These doings argue the lucrative nature of the preferments for which Sharpe, as his brethren believed, had sold his party and his conscience. He had a brother William, who was at the same time rising in prosperity, and who, in 1665, bought the lands of West Newton, near Musselburgh, now called Stonyhill, at 27,000 merks. This William Sharpe was knighted by the Commissioner Lauderdale in 1669.
Feb. – In the latter part of this month, for several days, ‘there appeared in the clear light of day, even at twelve, one, and two o’clock, and also in the haill afternoon, ane fiery blazing star in the firmament. This star continued and increased daily and nightly thereafter, by the space of many weeks, sometimes having a great brugh [a halo] about it like the moon.’ – Nic.
Snow had begun at Christmas 1664, and it lay upon the ground till the 14th of March this year – a storm of which the like had not been seen for many years before. – Nic. ‘Some began to say there would hardly be any seed-time at all this year; but it pleased the Lord, out of His gracious goodness, on a sudden to send seasonable weather for the seed-time, so that in many places the oat seed was sooner done this year [than] in many years formerly; for the long frost made the ground very free, and the husbandmen, for the most part, affirmed they never saw the ground easier to labour.’ Many sheep perished during the storm, and the frost was severe enough to kill the broom and whins in many places. – Lam.
Apr. – We get some idea of the expense of building at this time, from the sum at which Robert Mylne, master-mason in Edinburgh, undertook to erect a hospital at the kirk-town of Largo. It was a house of fourteen fire-rooms and a public hall; each room containing a bed, a closet, and a loom; besides which there was a stone bridge at the entry, and a gardener’s house, two stories high. ‘Some say he was to have for the work, being complete, 9000 merks [£506], and if it was found weel done, 500 merks more.’ – Lam. In 1661, according to the same diarist, when some mason-work was executed at Lundie, in Fife, the master had tenpence a day, and the other men ninepence, ‘and all their diet in the house.’
Nov. – Another good harvest, ‘whilk was the cause that a number of fee’d servants, both men and women, did marry at Martinmas, by way of penny-bridals, both within the town of Edinburgh and other parts of the country.’ – Nic.
Jan. 1. – Although the preceding had been, according to Nicoll, ‘a dangerous, cruel, and bloody year,’ and though at this time an order stood forbidding commerce with the plague-stricken south, yet, ‘upon the 1st day of January 1666, there was as much drinking and carousing as in former times.’
Apr. 12. – At a horse-race at Cupar, ‘the Lord Lithgow and the Lord Carnegie, after cups, there passed some words betwixt them, and about night they drew off from the rest, on the hill towards Tarbet Broom, and drew their swords one at another, till at last Carnegie gave Lithgow a sore wound. While this was noised abroad, divers of the nobility and others there present did ride to stop them; among whom was the Earl of Wemyss, who, labouring to ride in betwixt the parties, had both his own horse under him and his man’s horse thrust through by them, while they were drawing one at another, so that both the horses died; also one of Lord Melville’s horses was hurt, and the Lord Newark had one of his servants ridden down also and hurt. At night they were both put under arrest by his majesty’s commissioner [the Earl of Rothes] at Cupar, in their several quarters.’ – Lam.
Sep. – Another excellent harvest was secured in Scotland, and very early. – Nic.
The defeat of the insurgents at Rullion Green (November 28), and the subsequent execution of upwards of fifty persons, made it a dreary yet exciting time. ‘I have,’ says Wodrow, the Presbyterian historian, ‘met with several prodigies seen in the air about this time; and persons who lived then, of good information, have left behind them a very strange public passage, that several people about Pittenweem made faith upon, that the night after the battle, and after some of these [subsequent] executions, they heard the voice of a multitude about Gilston Mount praising and singing psalms with the sweetest melody imaginable.’
Jan. 31. – Heretofore there had been only an irregular transmission of letters by means of foot-messengers between Edinburgh and Aberdeen, and in the latter city there had been ‘long experience of the prejudice sustained, not only by the said burgh of Aberdeen, but by the nobility, gentry, and others in the north country, by the miscarrying of missive letters, and by the not timous delivery and receiving returns of the samen.’ It was now thought that there ought to be a constant post at Aberdeen, whereby ‘every man might have their letters delivered and answers returned at certain diets and times.’ It was therefore arranged, with the consent of Patrick Graham of Inchbrakie, his majesty’s postmaster-general, that Lieutenant John Wales should establish a regular horse-post at Aberdeen, to carry letters to Edinburgh every Wednesday and Friday, returning every Tuesday and Thursday in the afternoon; every single letter to pay 2s., and every double letter 4s., every packet 5s. per ounce (in all cases Scots money). All other posts were discharged. Two years later (January 28, 1669), Inverness became sensible of a need for the same accommodation, though on a humbler footing.
June. – Mr William Douglas, son of the deceased Laird of Whittinghame, was executed for his concern in an unfortunate duel, in which Sir James Home of Eccles was killed. The affair took it origin in a quarrel in tavern in Edinburgh, ‘after excessive drinking.’ – Lam.
There was a great drouth this summer, so that the grass was burned up, and the victual whitened before the middle of July, and ripened at the end of that month. – Lam.
May 22. – The town of Kilmarnock was wholly destroyed by an accidental fire, ‘wherethrough about sexscore families are set to the fields destitute both of goods and houses’ – indeed, ‘in a condition of starving.’ Matters were the worse for them, by reason that they, ‘being all poor tradesmen, and having no other means of livelihood but their daily employment,’ had some time before been reduced to ‘great misery and affliction,’ in consequence of the quartering upon them of a great party of the king’s forces, when these were sent to the west to prevent a rebellion. Under the sanction of the Privy Council, a collection was made at the parish churches for the succour of these poor people.
The event is chiefly worthy of notice as marking the smallness of Kilmarnock in those days, when as yet there was no such thing as manufacturing industry in the country. A hundred and twenty families speaks to a population of between five and six hundred. [In 1881, this industrious town contained 24,978 inhabitants within the parliamentary boundaries.]
In April 1669, a fire broke out at midnight in the town of Cupar (Fife), and spread so fast and with such violence, that ‘above the number of twenty considerable families being asleep in bed, did, unclothed with their apparel, with great difficulty escape their swelling-houses,’ which were consumed with their entire contents. Thus, not only were these people, with their many young children, ‘ruined and reduced to begging,’ but ‘a great part of that ancient burgh, being the head burgh of the shire, [was] annihilat and turned to desolation.’ On a petition, the Privy Council ordered a charitable collection in Fife and the adjacent counties ‘for the relief of the poor indigent families of the said ancient burgh.’
July 11. – ‘Saturday, in the evening, as the Archbishop of St Andrews and Bishop of Orkney were going abroad, the archbishop being in his coach, and the other stepping in, a wicked fellow standing behind the coach did shoot the Bishop of Orkney beneath his right hand; which broke his left arm a little above the wrist with five balls.’ So wrote the Privy Council to the king. – P. C. R. The assassin was a preacher named James Mitchell,’ a weak scholar,’ according to Kirkton, but whom Wodrow describes as ‘a youth of much zeal and piety.’
A pleasant year as to weather, and a great crop – nothing better in either respect these sixty years past. – Lam.
Aug. 24. – The marriage-day of the unfortunate Bride of Baldoon. The story of this lady has been related with all the graces of fiction in Scott’s tale of the Bride of Lammermoor; but in its actual circumstances it is sufficiently impressive. She was the Honourable Janet Dalrymple, daughter of the first Lord Stair. While still in girlish years, the young lady contracted a passionate attachment for Lord Rutherford, the distant relative and heir of Andrew Rutherford, Earl of Teviot. The young nobleman returned this affection, and the pair plighted their troth in the usual manner, by parting a coin between them, and imprecating evil upon whoever should withdraw from or violate the compact. But this alliance did not suit the views of the parents, whether from deficient fortune in the young lord, or from contrarious politics, does not appear. They favoured a new suitor who appeared in the person of David Dunbar, younger of Baldoon in Wigtownshire.
On learning that Dunbar was advancing in his suit, Lord Rutherford wrote to his mistress to remind her of her engagement; but received an answer from her mother, to the effect that she was now sensible of the error she had committed in entering into an engagement unsanctioned by the parental authority; and this engagement it was not her intention to fulfil. The lover refused to take an answer which did not come directly from his mistress, and insisted on an interview. It took place, but in the presence of the mother, a woman whom public report represented as master of her husband and whole family, and indebted for this influence to witchcraft, though for no reason that can be discerned beyond her uncommon talents and force of character. It may readily be supposed that even the resources of love would be of poor avail against the skill and resolution of such a person. When Rutherford was introduced he found her ready to meet his arguments with what was then an unanswerable defence, a text of Scripture (Numbers, xxx. 2-5), clearly absolving a woman from a bond entered into in her youth, if her father shall disallow her fulfilment of it, and promising that, in that case, ‘the Lord shall forgive her.’ The poor girl herself sat mute and overwhelmed, while the lover vainly pleaded against the application of this text; and the scene ended with her surrender of her portion of the broken coin, and his flying distracted from the house, after telling her that she would be a world’s wonder from what she had done and was yet to do.
The union with young Baldoon went on, but entirely under the management of the mother, for it is inconceivable that the young man could have pressed his suit, if he had known the extent to which the bride was under constraint. The wedding was celebrated, as was customary in those days, in the presence of the relatives of both parties, and with great festivity; but the bride remained like one lost in a reverie, and who only moves and acts mechanically. A younger brother lived long enough to state to a lady, who communicated the fact to Sir Walter Scott, that he had the duty of carrying her on horseback behind him to church, and he remembered that the hand with which she clasped his waist was ‘cold and damp as marble.’ ‘Full of his new dress, and the part he acted in the procession, the circumstance, which he long afterwards remembered with bitter sorrow and compunction, made no impression on him at the time.’
In the evening, the newly-wedded pair retired to their chamber, while the merry-making still proceeded in the hall. The room had been locked, and the key taken possession of by the brideman, to prevent any of the unseemly frolics which, it would seem, were sometimes played off on such occasions. But suddenly there was heard to proceed from the bridal chamber a loud and piercing outcry, followed by dismal groans. On its being opened, the alarmed company found the bridegroom weltering in his blood on the threshold, and the bride cowering in a corner of the chimney, with with no covering but her shift, and that dabbled in gore. She told them ‘to take up their bonny bridegroom.’ It was evident she was insane, and the general belief was that she had frantically stabbed her husband. From that moment, she made no other rational communications, but pined away and died in less than three weeks. Young Baldoon recovered, but would never enter into explanations regarding the tragic occurrence. Perhaps it is this mystery alone which has given rise to the favourite belief of the many descendants of Lord Stair, that the wound was not inflicted by their unhappy relative, but by Lord Rutherford, who, they say, secreted himself in the chamber beforehand, and escaped afterwards by a window. This notion seems to us contrary to all probability, not merely because the conception of such an act was too gross for a man of rank even in that day, but because, had it been acted on, something must have come of it, either in the way of private revenge or of procedure before a criminal court. The idea was prevalent at the time; but it may be classed, we think, with another recorded by the credulous Law, that the poor bride was taken from her bed and harled through the house by spirits.
David Dunbar is described, in an elegy by Mr Andro Simpson, as a most respectable country gentleman, an agricultural improver, and yet of studious habits. He died by a fall from his horse while riding between Leith and Edinburgh in 1682, and was interred in Holyrood Chapel. Lord Rutherford is stated in the Peerage to have died childless in 1685.
Nov. – Robert Donaldson, of Birdstown in Campsie, being in Edinburgh on business, fell into the company of one Thomas Scott, an English Borderer, who travelled in the equipage of a gentleman. Scott, learning that Donaldson possessed money, pretended an errand to Glasgow, and so accompanied him on his way home. The two dined at Falkirk together, and then set forward, Donaldson inviting Scott to spend the night with him at his house. Just as they were turned off the main road into that leading to Donaldson’s house, Scott gave his travelling companion a stab in the neck with his rapier, and thrust him to the ground, where he cut his throat. Donaldson was, it seems, a strong man, and might have defended himself, if he had not been taken by surprise and encumbered with his cloak, which was buttoned down and heavy with rain. Scott carried off the horse and money of his victim.
Donaldson’s servants went in search of the murderer, and had gone many miles in his track when they came up to a carrier wearing their master’s hood. When the man was interrogated, he said that he had got the hood from a person now riding on in advance, near Haddington. They soon came up with the said rider, and laid hands on him. He being struck with a panic fear, confessed his guilt, for which he was soon after hanged in Edinburgh. – Law.
Sep. The Marquis of Douglas, a young man, after being engaged for marriage with the daughter of one Widow Jack, a taverner at Perth, was wedded at Alloa House to Lady Barbara Erskine, daughter of the Earl of Mar. – Lam.
This was an unfortunate marriage for the lady. The marquis, a man of profligate conduct, was subsequently led by his factor, Lowrie of Blackwood (said to have been a rejected suitor of the lady), to suspect his marchioness of infidelity, and they were consequently separated, after she had borne him one child. The sorrows of the Marchioness of Douglas were described in a popular ballad of the day, some verses of which constitute the favourite song of Waly, Waly!
‘O wherefore should I busk my head,
Or wherefore should I kaim my hair,
Since my true love has me forsook,
And says he’ll never love me mair.
Now Arthur’s Seat shall be my bed,
The sheets shall ne’er be pressed by me,
St Anton’s Well shall be my drink,
Since my true love’s forsaken me.
O Martinmas wind, when wilt thou blaw,
And shake the green leaf aff the tree?
O gentle death, when wilt thou come,
And take a life that wearies me?’
The prose reality of all this was, that the marchioness by-and-by obtained a decree of the Privy Council, allowing her a provision out of her husband’s estate.
The marquis, by a subsequent marriage, was the father of the semi-mad Duke of Douglas and of the celebrated Lady Jane Douglas.
Feb. 26. – From the commencement of the religious troubles in 1638, the Privy Council Record gives comparatively few of those notices of new manufactures attempted in Scotland, or proposed to be introduced by strangers, for which the previous thirty years of peace were so remarkable. Amidst endless notices of religious persecution, it gives an agreeable surprise, at the date noted, to light upon an application from Philip Vander Straten, a native of Bruges, for the benefit of naturalisation and freedom of working and trafficking, while embarking a considerable sum of money in a work at Kelso ‘for dressing and refining of wool.’ The petition was at once complied with. – P. C. R.