8th of January

St Apollinaris, the apologist, bishop, 175; St Lucian, of Beauvais, martyr, 290; St Nathalan, bishop, confessor, 452; St Severinus, abbot, 482; St Gudula, virgin, 712; St Pega, virgin, about 719; St Vulsin, bishop, confessor, 973.

Died. – Galileo Galilei, 1642; John Earl of Stair, 1707; Sir Thomas Burnet, 1753; John Baskerville, printer, 1775; Sir William Draper, 1787.



The Earl of Stair above cited was eldest son of James Dalrymple, Viscount Stair, the President of the Court of Session in Scotland, and the greatest lawyer whom that country has produced. This first earl, as Sir John Dalrymple, was one of three persons of importance chosen to offer the crown of Scotland to William and Mary at the Revolution. As Secretary of State for Scotland, he was the prime instrument in causing the Massacre of Glencoe, which covered his name with infamy, and did not leave that of his royal master untarnished. He was greatly instrumental in bringing about the union of Scotland with England, though he did not live to see it effected. His son, the second earl, as ambassador to France in the time of the regency of Orleans, was of immense service in defeating the intrigues of the Stuarts, and preserving the crown for the Hanover dynasty.

The remarkable talents and vigour of three generations of one family on the Whig side, not to speak of sundry offshoots of the tree in eminent official situations, rendered the Dalrymples a vexation of no small magnitude to the Tory party in Scotland. It appears to have been with reference to them, that the Nine of Diamonds got the name of the Curse of Scotland; this card bearing a resemblance to the nine lozenges, or, arranged saltire-wise on their armorial coat. Various other reasons have, indeed, been suggested for this expression – as that, the game of Comète being introduced by Mary of Lorraine (alternatively by James, Duke of York) into the court at Holyrood, the Nine of Diamonds, being the winning card, got this name in consequence of the number of courtiers ruined by it; that in the game of Pope Joan, the Nine of Diamonds is the Pope – a personage whom the Scotch Presbyterians considered as a curse; that diamonds imply royalty, and every ninth king of Scotland was a curse to his country: all of them most lame and unsatisfactory suggestions, in comparison with the simple and obvious idea of a witty reference to a set of detested but powerful statesmen, through the medium of their coat of arms. Another supposition, that the Duke of Cumberland wrote his inhuman orders at Culloden on the back of the Nine of Diamonds, is negatived by the fact, that a caricature of the earlier date of October 21, 1745, represents the young chevalier attempting to lead a herd of bulls, laden with papal curses, excommunications, &c., across the Tweed, with the Nine of Diamonds lying before them.


There are several newspapers in Europe which have lived two hundred years or more – papers that have appeared regularly, with few or no interruptions, amid wars, tumults, plagues, famines, commercial troubles, fires, disasters of innumerable kinds, national and private. It is a grand thing to be able to point to a complete series of such a newspaper; for in it is to be found a record, however humble and imperfect, of the history of the world for that long period. The proprietors may well make a holiday-festival of the day when such a bi-centenary is completed. A festival of this kind was held at Haarlem on the 8th of January, 1856, when the Haarlem Courant completed its 200th year of publication.


If it were any part of our purpose here to mention the names of newspapers which have existed for a longer period than one century and a half, we should have to make out a pretty large list. Claims have been put forward in this respect for the Lincoln, Rutland, and Stamford Mercury, the Scotch Postman, the Scotch Mercury, the Dublin News-Letter, the Dublin Gazette, Pue’s Occurrences, Faulkner’s Journal, and many others, some still existing, others extinct. The Edinburgh Evening Courant has, we believe, never ceased to appear thrice a week (latterly daily) since the 15th of December 1718; and its rival, the Caledonian Mercury, now incorporated with the Weekly Scotsman, was but by two years less venerable. Saunders’s News-Letter, now stopped, had a vitality in Dublin of about one hundred and thirty years.

In or about the year 1711, the town-council of Glasgow kept a news-writer for a weekly ‘letter.’ A collection of such letters was afterwards found in Glammis Castle. During the time of Ben Jonson, and down to a later period, there were many news-writers living in London, some of them unemployed military men, who sought about in every quarter for news. Some would visit the vicinity of the Court, some the Exchange, some Westminster Hall, some (old) St Paul’s – the nave of which was, in those days, a famous resort for gossips. All that they could pick up was carried to certain offices, where they or other writers digested the news, and made it sufficient to fill a sheet of a certain size.


There is a game called golf, almost peculiar to Scotland, though also frequently played upon Blackheath, involving the use of a small, hard, elastic ball, which is driven from point to point with a variety of wooden and iron clubs. In the north, it is played for the most part upon downs (or links) near the sea, where there is usually abundance of rabbits. One of the troubles of the golf-player is the little hole which the rabbit makes in the sward, in its first efforts at a burrow; this is commonly called a rabbit’s scrape, or simply a scrape. When the ball gets into a scrape, it can scarcely be played. The rules of most golfing fraternities, accordingly, include one indicating what is allowable to the player when he gets into a scrape. Here, and here alone, as far as it is known to the writer, has the phrase a direct and intelligible meaning. It seems, therefore, allowable to surmise that this phrase has originated amongst the golfing societies of the north, and in time spread to the rest of the public.

On this Day from Other Sources.


The church legend records how Saint Nathalan averted a raging pestilence from his church of Buthelny by the fervency of his prayers. Long after the legend was banished from the popular mind, and the very name of Nathalan forgotten, the parishioners of Buthelny kept the eighth of January (Saint Nathalan’s day) as a feast, on which they did no work.

Sketches, pp.1-28.


[Malcolm IV.’s] son Edgar, a prince of talent and valour, recovered the throne by his sword, and took up his residence in the Castle of Edinburgh, where he had seen his mother expire, and whence he, too, passed away, on the 8th of January, 1107. The register of the Priory of St. Andrews, in recording his demise, has these words:-Mortuus in Dun-Edin, est sepultus in Dunfermling.”

On his death-bed he bequeathed that part of Cumberland which the kings of Scotland possessed to his younger brother David. Alexander I., surnamed “the Fierce,” eldest brother of the latter, was disposed to dispute the validity of this donation; but perceiving that David had won over the English barons to his interest, he acquiesced in this partial dismemberment of the kingdom.

Old and New Edinburgh p.19.


But to return to the kirk session. Previous to the Restoration it would appear that certain pictures and crucifixes, saved from the general destruction, still remained in the High Church, and no doubt many such were to be found in the houses of those who adhered to the proscribed faith. By an act of an Assembly held at Aberdeen in 1640, it was ordered that all these should be removed, and the execution of this order naturally fell to the magistrates. But either they were slow to execute it, or the kirk session did not choose to wait for them, and accordingly we find the session issuing an order on the magistrates to take the necessary steps. “The session enacted that the Magistrates will cause all monuments of idolatry to be taken down and destroyed viz. all superstitious pictures crucifixes &c. both in private houses and in the Hie Kirk;” and the magistrates appear to have acted on the mandate and made the search. But it had not been very successful, as next day it was reported that they found only three that could be called so viz. the five wounds of Christ, the Holy Lamb, and Quintigerne ora pro nobis.”1

Old Glasgow, pp.189-215.

1  8th January, 1641.


Jan. 8. [1661] – 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.

Domestic Annals, pp.302-321.


The Church of Bothwell, which stands in the immediate vicinity of the village, is of great antiquity. It was in 1390 converted into a collegiate church, for a provost and eight chaplains, or prebends, by Archibald the Grim, the first of the Douglases who possessed the Lordship of Bothwell. For this purpose, he added a choir to the church, and conferred on the establishment revenues sufficient for its support. The oldest portion of the building can still be easily distinguished from the addition made at this time. This Earl died in February, 1400-1, and was buried in the church of Bothwell. His daughter Marjory was in the same year, in the church of Bothwell, married to the Duke of Rothsay, Prince of Scotland, son of Robert III. This occurred in an evil hour for the happiness and safety of that unfortunate prince. By a charter to Anne, Duchess of Hamilton, dated 8th January, 1665, the name, title, and office of the prebends and prebendaries of the church were suppressed, and their rights and revenues were confirmed to the Duchess as Patroness.

Select Views, pp.47-52.


Thomas Aikenhead, a youth of eighteen, ‘son to the deceest James Aikenhead, chirurgeon in Edinburgh,’ was now tried by the High Court of Justiciary for breach of the 21st act of the first parliament of Charles II., ‘against the crime of blasphemy,’ which act had been ratified by the 11th act of the fifth session of the parliament of the present reign. It was alleged in the indictment that the young man had, for twelvemonth past, been accustomed to speak of theology as ‘a rhapsody of feigned and ill-invented nonsense,’ calling the Old Testament Ezra’s Fables, and the New the history of the Imposter Christ, further ‘cursing Moses, Ezra, and Jesus, and all men of that sort.’ ‘Likeas,’ pursued this document, ‘you reject the mystery of the blessed Trinity, and say it is not worth any man’s refutation, and you also scoff at the mystery of the incarnation of Jesus Christ… as to the doctrine of redemption by Jesus, you say it is a proud and presumptuous device… you also deny spirits… and you have maintained that God, the world, and nature are but one thing, and that the world was from eternity… You have said that you hoped to see Christianity greatly weakened, and that you are confident it will in a short time be utterly extirpat. 

Aikenhead, though impenitent at first, no sooner received this indictment in prison, than he endeavoured to stop proceedings by addressing to the Lords of Justiciary ‘a petition and retraction,’ in which he professed the utmost abhorrence of the expressions attributed to him, saying he trembled even to repeat them to himself, and further avowing his firm faith in the gospel, in the immortality of the soul, in the doctrine of the Trinity, and in the divine authority of Scripture. 

The jury nevertheless unanimously found it proven ‘that the panel, Thomas Aikenhead, has railed against the first person, and also cursed and railed our blessed Lord, the second person, of the holy Trinity.’ They further found ‘the other crimes libelled proven – namely, the denying the incarnation of our Saviour, the holy Trinity, and scoffing at the Holy Scriptures.’ Wherefore the judges ‘decern and adjudge the said Thomas Aikenhead to be taken to the Gallowlee, betwixt Leith and Edinburgh, upon Friday the eighth day of January [1697] next to come, and there to be hanged on a gibbet till he be dead, and his body to be interred at the foot of the gallows.’

Domestic Annals, pp.355-378.



   The monthly meeting of the Dundee School Board was held yesterday – Provost Moncur presiding. There were also present – Revs. Dr Grant, Dean Nicolson, Messrs Dunlop, Legge, Troup, Inglis, Macrae, Hamilton, Clapperton, and Holder, Bailies Hunter and Doig, Messrs Smith and Macdonald.  


   Mr MACRAE then moved the adoption of the following motion:-  

   ‘That the Board regrets to find in so many of the school histories submitted for its inspection, even those issued by Scottish publishers, that the terms ‘England’ and ‘English’ are so often used, as if they were proper equivalents for the terms ‘Britain’ and ‘British;’ that the Board appoints a Committee to correspond on this subject with the publishers especially of the books used in its own schools, and to confer with the teachers under the Board as to the best means of having this objectionable and blundering misuse of our national names corrected.’  

   Mr Macrae, in supporting the motion, said that English people were slow to understand why the Scottish people should object to Britain being spoken of as ‘England.’ Yet none would be quicker than English people to resent this very treatment if applied to themselves. If circumstances were reversed, and England and the rest of the empire were being called not ‘Britain’ but ‘Scotland;’ the Government called ‘the Scottish Government;’ the army ‘the Scottish army,’ and so on, none would be quicker to protest than the English. And rightly too. They would understand then that it is no trifling thing for a nation to be robbed of a glorious name and a glorious history. Under the name of ‘Britain,’ England comes as well as Scotland, with all her noble history and inspiring tradition. This would be lost to England under the name of ‘Scotland;’ and Scottish history with all its inspiration is lost under the name of ‘England.’ Thoughtless people cried down the question as a mere matter of sentiment. But sentiment is a powerful force; and no man who knows anything of human nature would disregard it, or overlook the importance of enlisting it on the side of loyalty and against disloyalty and discontent. Some people said Irish disloyalty now-a-days was mere sentiment; but it required 30,000 bayonets to keep that sentiment from bursting out into civil war. Scotland is different from Ireland. But Scottish loyalty will perceptibly cool if the name of ‘Britain,’ in which Scotland has her historic place, is to be set aside, and ‘England’ substituted. We owe no loyalty to England, and never did. Our loyalty is due solely to the British Crown and the British Government. but the question was not one of mere sentiment. It was one of the rights guaranteed in the Treaty of Union between the two countries – the very first article in which set forth that the United Kingdom was to be called not England or Scotland, but Great Britain. In face of this, the united name was being set aside, and ‘England’ substituted. Here it was even in the histories issued by Scottish publishers, and was being introduced into their schools in Dundee. ‘The History of Scotland’ ended as was proper enough with the Union, but instead of the history of the United Kingdom beginning, it was thereafter the ‘History of England,’ with Scotland taken in. the lion and the lamb had lain down together, but the lamb was inside of the lion. (Great laughter.) The British throne was ‘the English throne,’ Gladstone, ‘the Prime Minister of England,’ and so on. When action against this practice was proposed some said it was no use fighting against what was now a custom. But if the custom was a bad one, they were there for the very purpose of fighting against it. And it had become the custom just because so many Scottish newspapers, and Scottish M.P.s, and Scottish publishers, and public Boards like their own conformed to it, or at least allowed their national rights to be taken from them without even a protest. It was the Scottish people themselves, not the English that were to blame. England would not trouble herself if the defrauded parties made no complaint. Had Ireland rested content with English landlordism there never would have been a Land Act. Had Scotland been content six hundred years ago to be counted a part of England there never would have been a Scottish name or a Scottish nation. But some said, ‘We may call the empire “British,” but we have still to use the English language.’ But using the English language did not turn Scotchmen into Englishmen. The Americans used the English language, so did the negroes in the Southern States, but that did not make them Englishmen. The Belgians spoke French, but that did not make them French people. The Swiss spoke French, but that did not turn Switzerland into a part of France. Still it was said, ‘You have to put up with an anomaly.’ British people speak the English language.’ But the practice condemned by the motion, instead of doing away with the anomaly, increased it a hundred fold. ‘Britain’ and ‘British’ are the terms used in all official documents, even when M.P.s and newspapers used ‘England’ and ‘English’ in speaking of them. People may speak of ‘English’ money, but every coin contradicts the error, stamped as it is with the name, not of England, but of Britain. In the histories before them, this use of ‘England’ for Britain led to the most absurd anomalies. Mr Macrae then quoted numerous passages in illustration, in which the terms ‘British’ and ‘English’ were absurdly mixed up – the ‘English troops’ of one sentence, re-appearing as ‘British infantry’ in the next, and so on. But some said, ‘Britain still leaves out Ireland.’ But so did ‘England;’ and ‘England’ leaves out Scotland also. It was an odd way of excusing one injustice to add it to another. Besides, ‘Britain’ was a term applying naturally to Ireland, in ways that ‘England’ did not. The Irish etymologically had a better right to be called British than either the English or the lowland Scotch. Ireland had also, as well as England and Scotland, her place in the expression, ‘The British Islands.’ If Ireland could not be included in Britain, still less could she be included in ‘England,’ which was but a part of Britain, unless a part could contain more than the whole. As for Irish feeling, if Ireland objected to be called a part of Britain, she would object ten times more to be called a part of ‘England,’ the name of England recalling what ‘Britain’ did not, hateful memories of conquest and centuries of misrule and oppression. Any argument therefore against counting Ireland into ‘Britain’ applied with redoubled force against counting it into ‘England.’ Mr Macrae hope the Board would adopt his motion. If it hung back it would, in his opinion, fail in its duty, both as a School Board which ought not to sanction historical blunders in its books, and as a Scottish Board which should refuse to assist in this perversion of Scottish history.”  

– Dundee Courier, Tuesday 8th January, 1884.

– Treaty of Union Articles, Collection of the Rev. David Macrae.

Then there are many articles just mulling over the “monster petition” and it’s request and the varying sides of the issue which amounted to; “We’re Scottish and, therefore, British not Scottish and, therefore, English,” and, “You speak English, therefore, you shouldn’t mind being called English.” As it’s been so succinctly put previously; 

“The Swiss spoke French, but that did not turn Switzerland into a part of France.” 

– Dundee Courier, Tuesday 8th January, 1884.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1875-1900.

One thought on “8th of January

Leave a Reply