5th of January

St Simeon Stylites, 459; St Telesphorus, seventh bishop of Rome, 128; St Syncletica (4th century?), virgin.

Born. – Dr Benjamin Rush, 1745, Philadelphia; Thomas Pringle, traveller and poet, 1789.
Died. – Catharine de’ Medici, Queen of France, 1589; James Merrick, 1769, Reading; John Howie, author of The Scots Worthies, 1793; Marshal Radetsky, 1858.


was author of a book of great popularity in Scotland, entitled the Scots Worthies, being a homely but perspicuous and pathetic account of a select number of persons who suffered for ‘the covenanted work of Reformation’ during the reigns of the last Stuarts. Howie was a simple-minded Ayrshire moorland farmer, dwelling in a lonely cot amongst bogs, in the parish of Fenwick, a place which his ancestors had possessed ever since the persecuting time, and which continued at a recent period to be occupied by his descendants. His great-grandfather was one of the persecuted people, and many of the unfortunate brethren had received shelter in the house when they did not know where else to lay their head. One friend, Captain Paton, in Meadowhead, when executed at Edinburgh in 1684, handed down his bible from the scaffold to his wife, and it soon after came into the hands of the Howies, who still preserve it. The captain’s sword, a flag for the parish of Fenwick, carried at Bothwell Bridge, a drum believed to have been used there, and a variety of manuscripts left by covenanting divines, were all preserved along with the captain’s bible, and rendered the house a museum of Presbyterian antiquities. People of great eminence have pilgrimised to Lochgoin to see the home of John Howie and his collection of curiosities, and generally have come away acknowledging the singular interest attaching to both. The simple worth, primitive manners, and strenuous faith of the elderly sons and daughters of John Howie, by whom the little farm was managed, formed a curious study in themselves. Visitors also fondly lingered in the little room, constituting the only one besides the kitchen, which formed at once the parlour and study of the author of the Worthies; also over a bower in the little cabbage-garden, where John used to spend hours – nay, days – in religious exercises, and where, he tells us, he formally subscribed a covenant with God on the 10th of June 1785. A stone in the parish churchyard records the death of the great-grandfather in 1691, and of the grandfather in 1755, the latter being ninety years old, and among the last survivors of those who had gone through the fire of persecution. John Howie wrote a memoir of himself, which no doubt contains something one cannot but smile at, as does his other work also. Yet there is so much pure-hearted earnestness in the man’s writings, that they cannot be read without a certain respect. The Howies of Lochgoin may be said to have formed a monument of the religious feelings and ways of a long by-past age, protracted into modern times. We see in them and their cot a specimen of the world of the century before the last. It is to be feared that in a few more years both the physical and the moral features of the place will be entirely changed.

On This Day from Other Sources.


The Lord [James] Fleming, younger than any of the rest, did bear it out longer, and out of hope to recover of it, he caused himself to be transported to Paris, where, notwithstanding, he died the 5th of January, in the following year [1559].  

Historical Works, pp.275-340.


Jan. 5. [1568] – It may somewhat modify the views generally taken of the destruction of relics of the ancient religion under the Protestant governments succeeding the Reformation, that John Lockhart of Bar was denounced rebel at this time for conveying John Macbrair forth of the castle of Hamilton, and ‘for down-casting of images in the kirk of Ayr and other places.’  

Domestic Annals, pp.35-44.


On the 5th January 1576-7, the work of the Bible was still in hand, and we have then a complaint made to the Regent by ‘Salomon Kerknett of Magdeburg, composer of wark of the Bible,’ to the effect that Thomas Bassendyne had refused since the 23d of December bypast, to pay him the weekly wages of 49s., agreed upon between them when he was engaged in Flanders. The Regent, finding the complaint just, ordered Bassendyne to pay Kerknett his arrears, and continue paying him at the same rate till the work should be finished. 

Six days later, a more serious complaint was made against Bassendyne – namely, by Alexander Arbuthnot, that he would not deliver to Alexander, as he had contracted to do, the printing-house and the Bible, so far as printed, ‘wherethrough the wark lies idle, to the great hurt of the commonweal of the realm.’ The Regent, having heard parties, and being ripely advised by the Lords of the Council, ordered that Bassendyne should deliver the printing-house and Bible to Alexander Arbuthnot before the end of the month. – P. C. R.

Such were the difficulties which stood in the way of the first edition of the Bible printed in Scotland.  

Domestic Annals, pp.56-80.


Jan. 5. [1609] – ‘… the wind did blow so boisterously, that the like was not heard in the memory of man. Houses in burgh and land were thrown down with the violence of it; trees rooted up, corn-stacks and hay-stacks blown away. Some men passing over bridges were driven over violently and killed. The wind continued vehement many days and weeks, even till mid-March, howbeit not in the same measure that it blowed this day.’ – Cal.  

Domestic Annals, pp.177-227.


Jan. [5. 1700] – A case of a singular character was brought before the Court of Justiciary. In the preceding July, a boy named John Douglas, son of Douglas of Dornock, attending the school of Moffat, was chastised by his teacher, Mr Robert Carmichael, with such extreme severity that he died on the spot. The master is described in the indictment as beating and dragging the boy, and giving his three lashings without intermission, so that when ‘let down’ for the third time, he ‘could only weakly struggle along to his seat, and never spoke more, but breathed out his last, and was carried dying, if not dead, out of the school.’ Carmichael fled, and kept out of sight for some weeks, ‘but by the providence of God was discovered and seized.’ 

‘The Lords decerned the said Mr Robert to be taken from the Tolbooth of Edinburgh by the hangman under a sure guard to the middle of the Landmarket, and there lashed by seven severe stripes then to be carried down to the Cross, and there severely lashed by six sharp stripes; and then to be carried to the Fountain Well, to be severely lashed by five stripes; and then to be carried back by the hangman to the Tolbooth. Likeas, the Lords banish the said Mr Robert furth of this kingdom, never to return thereto under all highest pains.’  

Domestic Annals, pp.355-378.


Jan. 5. [1720] – ‘All persons [in Edinburgh] desirous to learn the French tongue’ were apprised, by an advertisement in the Edinburgh Courant, that ‘there is a Frenchman lately come to this city who will teach at a reasonable price.’ This would imply that there was no native French teacher in Edinburgh previously.  

Domestic Annals, pp.390-397.


   “Dr MACGREGOR – Seeing the difficulty Scotchmen find in getting redress of their grievances in this House, may I ask the Lord-Advocate whether he does not think the time has now come when Scotland might resume control of her own affairs. (Laughter.)  

   No answer was returned to this question.”  

– Glasgow Herald, Friday 5th January, 1894.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1875-1900.

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