30th of January

St Barsimæus, bishop and martyr, 2nd century. St Martina, virgin and martyr, 3rd century. St Aldegondes, virgin and abbess, 660. St Bathildes, queen of France, 680.

Born. – Charles Rollin, 1661, Paris; Walter Savage Landor, 1775. 
Died. – William Chillingworth, 1644; King Charles I., 1649; Dr John Robison, mechanical philosopher, 1805.


Though the anniversary of the execution of Charles I. is very justly no longer celebrated with religious ceremonies, one can scarcely on any occasion allow the day to pass without a feeling of pathetic interest in the subject. The meek behaviour of the King in his latter days, his tender interviews with his little children when parting with them for ever, the insults he bore so well, his calmness at the last on the scaffold, combine to make us think leniently of his arbitrary rule, his high-handed proceedings with Nonconformists, and even his falseness towards the various opposing parties he had to deal with. When we further take into account the piety of his meditations as exhibited in the Eikon Basilike, we can scarcely wonder that a very large proportion of the people, of his own generation, regarded him as a kind of martyr, and cherished his memory with the most affectionate regard. Of the highly inexpedient nature of the action, it is of no use to speak, as its consequences in causing retaliation and creating a reaction for arbitrary rule, are only too notorious.

Charles was put to death upon a scaffold raised in front of the Banqueting House, Whitehall. There is reason to believe that he was conducted to this sad stage through a window, from which the frame had been taken out, at the north extremity of the building near the gate. It was not so much elevated above the street, but that he could hear people weeping and praying for him below. A view of the dismal scene was taken at the time, engraved, and published in Holland, and of this a transcript is here presented.


The scaffold, as is well known, was graced that day by two executioners in masks; and as to the one who used the axe a question has arisen, who was he? The public seems to have been kept in ignorance on this point at the time; had it been otherwise, he could not have long escaped the daggers of the royalists/ Immediately after the Restoration, the Government made an effort to discover the masked headsman; but we do not learn that they ever succeeded. William Lilly, the famous astrologer, having dropped a hint that he knew something on the subject, was examined before a parliamentary committee at that time, and gave the following information:

“The next Sunday but one after Charles the First was beheaded, Robert Spavin, Secretary unto Lieutenant-General Cromwell, invited himself to dine with me, and brought Anthony Peirson and several others along with him to dinner. Their principal discourse all dinner-time was only, who it was that beheaded the King. One said it was the common hangman; another, Hugh Peters; others were nominated, but none concluded. Robert Spavin, so soon as dinner was done, took me to the south window. Saith he, “These are all mistaken; they have not named the man that did the fact: it was Lieutenant-Colonel Joyce. I was in the room when he fitted himself for the work – stood behind him when he did it – when done went in again with him. There’s no man knows this but my master (viz. Cromwell), Commissary Ireton, and myself.”

We have engraved two of the relics associated with this solemn event in our history. First is the Bible believed to have been used by Charles, just previous to his death, and which the King is said to have presented to Bishop Juxon, though this circumstance is not mentioned in any contemporaneous account of the execution.


Next is engraved the silver clock-watch, which had long been used by King Charles, and was given by him to Sir Thomas Herbert, on the morning of his execution.


The coffin of King Charles was seen in the reign of William III., on the vault being opened to receive one of the Princess Anne’s children. It remained unobserved, forgotten, and a matter of doubt for upwards of a century thereafter, till, in 1813, the vault had once more to be opened for the funeral of the Duchess of Brunswick. On the 1st of April, the day after the interment of that princess, the Prince Regent, the Duke of Cumberland, the Dean of Windsor, Sir Harry Halford, and two other gentlemen assembled at the vault, while a search was made for the remains of King Charles.


It is pleasanter to contemplate the feelings of tenderness and veneration than those of contempt and anger. We experience a relief in turning to look on the affectionate grief of those who, on however fallacious grounds, mourned for the royal martyr. It is understood that there were seven mourning rings distributed among the more intimate friends of the unfortunate king, and one of them was latterly in the possession of Horace Walpole at Strawberry Hill, being a gift to him from Lady Murray Elliott. The stone presents the profile of the king in miniature. On the obverse of this, within, is a death’s head, surmounting a crown, with a crown of glory above; flanked by the words, GLORIA – VANITAS; while round the interior runs the legend, Gloria Ang. Emigravit, Ja. the 30, 1648.


There are also extant several examples of a small silver case or locket, in the form of a heart, which may be presumed each to have been suspended near the heart of some devoted and tearful loyalist. In the example here presented, there is an engraved profile head of the king within, opposite to which, on the inside of the lid, is inscribed, ‘Prepared be to follow me, C.R.’ On one of the exterior sides is a heart struck through with arrows, and the legend, ‘I live and dy in loyaltye.’ On the other exterior side is an eye dropping tears, surmounted by ‘Quis temperet a lacrymis, January 30, 1648.’


On this Day in Other Sources.


Under such circumstances, and such power, [James Stuart] obtained, on the 30th of January, 1562, under the privy seal, the Queen’s grant of the earldom of Moray.

Life of Mary, pp.62-77.


Jan. 30 [1603]. – ‘Francis Mowbray brak ward out of the [Edinburgh] Castle, and he fell owir the wall and brak his craig [neck]. Thereafter, he was trailit to the gallows, and hangit; and thereafter he was quarterit, and his head and four quarters put on the four ports.’ 

In this brief manner Birrel narrates the sad end of a sprightly and gallant, though intemperate spirit. Francis Mowbray was a son of Sir John Mowbray of Barnbougle, an ancient house long since gone down to nothing. Francis himself was the friend and companion of Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch, the hero of the attack on Carlisle Castle in 1596. He had taken part in that exploit, but soon after got into trouble, in consequence of a quarrel with one William Schaw, whom he struck through with a rapier and killed. 

An Italian fencer named Daniel, residing in London, had denounced Mowbray to Elizabeth’s government as having undertaken to kill the king of Scots. Mowbray denied the accusation, and offered the combat. The two being sent down to Edinburgh, it was arranged that they should fight hand to hand in the great close of Holyroodhouse; but before the appointed day arrived, notice came from England that some witnesses had come forward who could prove the treason. On the 29th of January, Mowbray was confronted with the witnesses, whose evidence, however, was not considered conclusive. The two were placed in several apartments in Edinburgh Castle, the Italian occupying a room immediately above Mowbray. 

At eight o’clock in the evening of the 30th of January, being Sunday, Francis Mowbray was found dying at the foot of the Castle rock. It was stated that he had sewed his blankets together, and let himself down over the wall; but the line being too short, he fell, and mortally injured himself. The unfortunate man died in the course of the night. An attempt was made by some friends to raise a report that he had been thrown over the window; but this was believed by few. The authorities showed no hesitation about the matter; but, concluding on the guilt of the deceased, had his body dragged backwards through the streets to the bar of the Court of Justiciary, where sentence was duly passed against him. The corpse was then dealt with as Birrel relates. The superstitious remarked the verification of the fearful words of the deceased – that he might fall at his enemies’ feet, and become a spectacle to all Edinburgh. – Pit. Cal.

Domestic Annals, pp.124-176.


2372. Cockburn (William), Episcopal Minister. A Sermon upon the xxxth of January, 1713. Being the Anniversary Fast for the Martyrdom of the Blessed King Charles the First. Preached at Glasgow. Edinburgh, 1713.

Memorial Catalogue, Gallery 1.

   PROPOSAL for improving the Scotch Highlands, and for recovering the HERRING FISHERY from the Dutch.  

   AS his Majesty in his Speech from the Throne, has most graciously recommended to his Parliament, that if any farther Provisions should be found expedient, to render more effectual the good Laws lately made for the Security of the present Establishment, extinguishing the Spirit of Rebellion, and for better civilizing, improving, or reducing into Order any Part of the united Kingdom, they would seriously and early set about so good a Work; the following Extract from a Pamphlet, entitled An Enquiry into the Causes of the late Rebellion, &c. we doubt not may be agreeable to our Readers.  

   The Author, after proposing several Methods for extinguishing the Spirit of Rebellion in Scotland, and civilizing the Highlands and Western Islands of that Country, goes on thus:  

   ‘To this let me add, that in order to produce the desir’d Effect more early, we ought to endeavour to put the People of that Country into the Hot-bed of Trade and Manufactures, which might be done at a very small publick Expence, by improving some of the many natural Harbours they have in the West and North Highlands, and giving encouragement to Merchants and others to build Houses, and to set up a foreign Trade at those Ports. This would furnish the People with a convenient and ready Vend for any Manufactures they might set up; and the Increase of our Fisheries and Seamen would soon be a Compensation to the Publick for the Expence it had been put to.  

   Surely, the Fishing Trade upon our own Coasts deserves as much our Attention, as that upon the Coasts of North America. – Neither ought to be neglected; but if any Difference be made, it should be in favour of that upon our own Coasts;.. our Care of the American Fishery ought not to make us neglect that upon our own Coasts, particularly that of Herrings, which our neighbours the Dutch make such an Advantage of, and by which they maintain such a Number of Seamen. This Trade we can never recover but by erecting Ports upon the Northern and Western Coasts of Scotland, where the Herring Fishery Season first begins;..  

   Besides these and many other Advantages, it is evident, that a flourishing Trade upon the Western Coasts and Islands of Scotland would produce such a Resort of Strangers to that Country, and such a frequent Intercourse between the Inhabitants and those of the other Parts of the Island, as would in a few Years put an End to that Clannish Disposition which at present prevails among the People; and as the landed Gentlemen would then be all engaged in the Fishing Trade, and in a Way of improving their fortunes daily, it would not be easy to persuade them to join in any Plot or Rebellion; especially if proper Care was taken to have them educated in right Principles, and the Discontents of the People removed by repealing those disarming Laws, which have established such an invidious and galling Distinction between them and the rest of his Majesty’s Subjects. I mean only those Laws which seem to impress the Character of Disaffection upon the Soil, the Air, or Climate of certain Counties, as if every Man born in that Soil, Air, or Climate must necessarily be a Jacobite; for as to those Laws by which Papists and Nonjurors are to be disarmed, none of them ought to be repealed, but farther enforced, if possible.’  

   What is recommended by this Author is so reasonable, so necessary, and so apparent for the publick Good of the whole British Dominions, that it is surprising no Measures have been taken ever since the Union for making Ports or Harbours in the Western Islands, or upon the North West Coasts of Scotland, and for erecting Corporations or free Boroughs in that Part of the Country; especially as Mr Martin has long since, in his Description of the Western Islands of Scotland, so fully explain’d the many Advantages that might be reaped from making proper Improvements there.  

   If proper Care had been taken, and a little of the publick Money applied towards this End, presently after the Rebellion in 1715, certainly no second Rebellion would have happened in that Country; and the Expence, besides the Danger, which the Nation was brought into by the last Rebellion, must convince us, that a little of the publick Money would have been most profitably applied towards erecting some Harbours and free Towns in that Country.  

   But Safety and Saving are not the only Advantages we should have had from such an Improvement; From what this Author says, it is more than probable, that before this Time we should have had several Thousands of Men, and several Hundreds of Ships employed in the Fishing Trade upon those Coasts; and what an Addition this would have brought to our general Balance of Trade, what a Supply for our Navy, it is easy to imagine, but not easy to set Bounds to; because Trade would before now have been carried on at so cheap a Rate, that we might have engrossed the Fishing Trade of Europe.  

   When the Wisdom of a Nation happens to be guilty of such a palpable Neglect of national Interest as this must appear to be, one is apt to endeavour to find out the Cause; which may be suggested to be one of these two: Either that the Noblemen and Gentlemen of that Country choose rather that the People should be kept in Poverty, Ignorance, and a slavish Subjection to their Superiors, than that they should be put in a Way of enriching themselves, and being useful to their Country; or that some foreign Interests, or foreign Regards prevented our making a proper Use of those Advantages with which bountiful Nature has blessed this happy Island. Which of these two has hitherto been the Cause of this Neglect, is left to the Reader to determine; but if either of them should any longer prevail, it is evident, from what his Majesty has now recommended to his Parliament, that the Continuance of it will not lie at his Door.” 

– Newcastle Courant, 30th January, 1748.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1700-1750.


   This afternoon a deputation, consisting of representatives from the Edinburgh Town Council, the governors of the Merchant Company, and the directors of the Chamber of Commerce and Trade Protection Society, waited on Lord Rosebery and the Lord Advocate in their chambers, Parliament Square, with reference to the assumed jurisdiction by English courts over domiciled Scotchmen. Lord Provost Boyd introduced the deputation, saying that so far as he understood the matter, the practice, based upon an Act of Parliament entitled the Supreme Court of Judicature Act, 1875, was of a very questionable legality. It seemed to be in direct violation of the Act confirming the Treaty of Union, and they were of opinion that such a practice could only be warranted by some direct legislative express enactment, and which also should provide that writs of the Scottish supreme courts should in like manner run in England. Of course the present practice inflicted hardships upon the people of Scotland, but Mr Treasurer Harrison would address their lordships on that point, on behalf of the city, and also on behalf of the Trade Protection Society, of which he was chairman. – Mr Harrison said the Scotch were a practical people, or they probably would not have recalled the provisions of the Act of Union. The order adopted by the English judges evidently was never intended to oppress the Scotch but it soon began to press heavily on the people of Scotland. It was not long in operation before clever people in England found out that by making use of it they could oppress debtors against whom perhaps they had no very genuine claim, and induce them either to pay or compromise by the threat of being dragged into the English courts. A return to the House of Commons several years ago showed that out of 123 cases in which these judges’ orders had been put in force, there had been oppression in 120, and their experience was that the practice was going on still. The amount of costs was very much greater when an action was taken to England. He had statistics of several cases occurring within the past year showing the excessive costs of such cases. In one case £18 was required to recover £64 18s., and in another, where the account was £12 the costs were £68 12s. The proceedings complained of caused also undue delay, and except where resorted to for the purpose of extorting money were costly to both parties. They had, therefore, addressed themselves to their lordships with a view to getting a remedy to this state of matters applied.” 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Monday 30th January, 1882.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1875-1900.

THE demand made in these days upon our newspapers to supply us with reports of all important speeches within an hour or two of their delivery, and the consequent anxiety there is on an editor’s art to secure the manuscripts of such speeches, and have them ready in type beforehand, has led to some absurd blunders. Professor Blackie, at an Edinburgh banquet some time since, said he had never prepared a speech beforehand except once, and he thought the result would prevent his ever doing it again. He said – 

   “It was on the occasion of the Burn’s centenary. They came to me and said, ‘Blackie, we have you down for a speech.’ I looked at the programme, and saw I was down at the bottom as I am here. I said, ‘There is no use writing a speech. You have put my name at the bottom of the list, and by that time nobody will listen.’ ‘Nonsense,’ they said, ‘you must do it. It is a grand occasion, and you must make a grand speech; you must build it up architecturally like Cicero, Demosthenes, and the orators of old.’ (Laughter.) Like a good-natured fellow as I was – (renewed laughter) – I wrote out a long speech. Well, at the dinner, people soon got tired, and the most eloquent men were not listened to. When it came to my turn, I saw there was no chance; so I merely said, ‘I propose so and so; good bye,’ and sat down. But next day, there in all the papers was the great speech that I had never delivered a word of, – not only a whole column of type, but sprinkled with ‘hear, hears,’ ‘cheers,’ ‘hurrahs’ – (loud laughter) – and all that sort of thing. It was the greatest lie that ever was printed – (laughter) – and you will find it there, making me immortal to the end of the world, wherever the name of Burns is known.”*

– Book of Blunders, pp.83-89.

*  This could be the article Prof. Blackie was referring to, from the ‘Falkirk Herald,’ 30th January, 1886.

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