15th of February

Saints Faustinus and Jovita, martyrs at Brescia, about 121. St Sigefride of York, apostle in Sweden, 1002.

Born. – Galilea Galilei, astronomer, 1564, Pisa; Louis XV. (of France), 1710. 
Died. – Oswy (of Northumbria), 670; Charles Andrew Vanloo, historical painter, 1765.


Among the many remarkable marriages on record, none are more curious than those in which the bridegroom has proved to be of the same sex as the bride. Last century there lived a woman who dressed in male attire, and was constantly going about captivating her sisters, and marrying them! In 1773 a woman went courting a woman, dressed as a man, and was very favourably received. The lady to whom these not very delicate attentions were paid was much older than the lover, but she was possessed of about a hundred pounds, and this was the attraction to her adventurous friend. But the intended treachery was discovered; and, as the original chronicler of the story says, ‘the old lady proved too knowing.’ A more extraordinary case than either of these was that of two women who lived together by mutual consent as man and wife for six-and-thirty years and the ‘wife,’ when on her death-bed, for the first time told her relatives the fact concerning her marriage. The writer in the Gentleman’s Magazine (1776) who records these circumstances, states that ‘both had been crossed in love when young, and had chosen this method to avoid further importunities.’ 

It is usually considered a noteworthy circumstance for a man or woman to have been married three times, but of old this number would have been thought little of. St Jerome mentions a widow that married her twenty-second husband, who in his turn had been married to twenty wives – surely an experienced couple! 

In Scotland, in the year 1749, there was married the ‘noted bachelor, W. Hamilton.’ He was so deformed that he was utterly unable to walk. The chronicler draws a startling portrait of the man: ‘His legs were drawn up to his ears, his arms were twisted backwards, and almost every member was out of joint.’ Added to these peculiarities, he was eighty years of age, and was obliged to be carried to church on men’s shoulders. Nevertheless, his bride was fair, and only twenty years of age! At the more recent marriage of a deaf and dumb young man at Greenock, the only singularity was in the company. The bridegroom, his three sisters, and two young men with them were all deaf and dumb. There is a case mentioned in Dodsley’s Annual Register of an ostler at a tavern in Spilsby who walked with his intended wife all the way to Gretna Green to get married – 240 miles. 

Some of the most remarkable marriages that have ever taken place are those in which the brides came to the altar partly, or in many cases entirely, divested of clothing. It was formerly a common notion that is a man married a woman en chemisette he was not liable for her debts; and in Notes and Queries there is an account by a clergyman of the celebration of such a marriage some few years ago. He tells us that, as nothing was said in the rubric about the woman’s dress, he did not think it right to refuse to perform the marriage service.

On this Day in Other Sources.

In the beginning of this year, 1489, the King calls a parliament of his estates at Perth, wherein, by an act, the slaughter of the King’s father, King James III., is laid on himself and his civil counsellors, and the present King and his adherents liberated of the same; of which particular act all foreign princes, allies of this crown, by ambassadors are advertised of, namely, the Pope, Emperor, Kings of France, Spain and Denmark, for clearing the aspersion fame had blundered both King and kingdom with, of patricide and killing of their King. 

In this same parliament of the 15th of February, likewise, it was enacted, that the King and his counsel, by his authority, should make all persons and parties within his realm, to be at friendship and concord;…

– Historical Works, pp.214-238.

There is an intensity in the contempt expressed in this work with the chisel which was not approached by the poet Dunbar with his pen, when he found a similar theme at the end of the fifteenth century for the concluding stanzas of his poem – The Dance of the Sevin Deidly Synnis.*

– Scots Lore, pp.341-364.

* ‘Dance of the Sevin Deidly Synnis.’ by William Dunbar: 
Off Februar the fyiftene nycht, 
Full lang befoir the dayis lycht, 
I lay in till a trance, 
And than I saw baith hevin and hell; 
Me thocht amangis the feyndis fell 
Mahoun gart cry ane dance 
Off schrewis that wer nevir schrevin, 
Aganis the feist of Fasternis Evin 
To mak thair observance. 
He bad gallandis ga graith a gyis 
And kast vp gamountis in the skyis, 
That last came out of France.

In the ensuing month meteorological signs even more alarming to the great Reformer took place. There were seen in the firmament (Feb. 15 and 18 [1564]), says he, ‘battles arrayit, spears and other weapons, and as it had been the joining of two armies. Thir things were not only observed, but also spoken and constantly affirmed by men of judgment and credit.’ Nevertheless, he adds, ‘the queen and our court made merry.’ 

The Reformer considered these appearances as declarations of divine wrath against the iniquity of the land. Most probably they were resolvable into a simple example of the aurora borealis.*

– Domestic Annals, pp.13-29. 

*  This event is recorded in ‘Balfour’s Historical Works‘. It took me a minute to find as it’s marked for the year 1529 in James V.’s reign:  
“In Agust, this same zeire, light candells appeire one the topes of the mountans, neir Stirling, befor the sune; and 2 battalions of armed men seeme to skirmishe, in order of batell, in the firmament, to the grate astonishment of maney thousands that did behold the same.”

The Queen soon removed, from Holyrood-house, to the castle of Edinburgh, where she existed, for some time, in apartments without the light of the sun; without air; and without comfort. The body of Darnley was embalmed, and on the evening of the 15th February, was interred in the royal tomb, by the side of the Queen’s father, James V. The ceremonies of the funeral were the fewer, says the bishop of Ross; as the great part of the Privy Council, who directed it, were protestants; and had interred their own parents, without any ceremonies.

– Life of Mary, pp.136-151.

On the 15th of February 1567, the Queen issued a precept to the Treasurer; directing him, in her own hand, to furnish her mourning, as under, which every reader must be glad to see, as a real curiosity, from the Register-house, at Edinburgh: 

Item. Of sarge of Florence to be ane goune, and ane cloik, mulis, and schuine, x elle and a half; 
It.      Of chamlothe of sylk to be ane velicotte, and ane vasquine, xvii elle and half; 
It.      Of Ormaise taffatis to lyne the bodeis and sclevis of the goune, and velicotte iiii elle; 
It.      Of black pladine v doubile elle; 
It.      Of treilie buccarem v elle;
It.      Of Camarage to be four curges xviii elle; 
It.      Of smalle holen claith to be curges x elle.  
Maister Robert Richartsoune, thesaurer; ze sall not faille to answer alle this aboune orders quhilk salle be allouit to zou in zour comptis keipand this our precepe, for zour varrand. Subscryvit vyt our hand, at Edinburcke, the xv of Februar 1566. 
     Marie R.

– Life of Mary, pp.151-155.

It gives a striking idea of the difficulty attending the transmission of intelligence in those days – in connection, it must be owned, in this instance, with the deceitful and stealthy conduct of Elizabeth – that Mary had been upwards of a fortnight dead before her son King James was fully apprised of the fact in Edinburgh. On the 15th [February, 1587], he received a message from Kerr of Cessford, the warden of the Borders, informing him that the English warden had just communicated to him this sad intelligence. Not believing it on this authority, the king went to hunt at Calder, but at the same time sent his secretary to Berwick to make inquiry. This gentleman returned on the 23d, with certain information of Mary’s death.

– Domestic Annals, pp.99-123.

The 15th of February [1593], the Earl of Angus, who had remained in Edinburgh castle a close prisoner since he was attached [to] Mr George [Carr]s depositions, escaped from [there];…

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

Under this last mentioned law, the earl of Caithness now sought to gratify his vengeance against the earl of Sutherland. Having represented to the archbishop of St Andrews and the clergy of Scotland, that the earl of Sutherland was a Catholic in private, he prevailed upon the bishops, with little difficulty, it is supposed, to acquaint the king thereof. His majesty, thereupon, issued a warrant against the earl of Sutherland, who was, in consequence, apprehended and imprisoned at St Andrews. The earl applied to the bishops for a month’s delay, namely, till the fifteenth day of February, sixteen hundred and fourteen, promising that, before that time, he would either give the church satisfaction, or surrender himself; but his application was refused by the High Commission of Scotland. Sir Alexander Gordon, the brother of the earl, being then in Edinburgh, immediately gave notice to his brother, Sir Robert Gordon, who was at the time in London, of the proceedings against their brother, the earl. Sir Robert having applied to his Majesty for the release of the earl for a time, that he might make up his mind on the subject of religion, and look after his affairs in the north, his Majesty granted a warrant for his liberation till the month of August following. On the expiration of the time, he returned to his confinement at St Andrews, from whence he was removed, on his own application, to the abbey of Holyrood house, where he remained till the month of March, sixteen hundred and fifteen, when he obtained leave to go home, “having,” says Sir Robert Gordon, “in some measure satisfied the church concerning his religion.”

– History of the Highlands, pp.257-286.

2576. Leaves from the Glasgow Presbytery Records.

These leaves, which relate to the years 1628, 1651, 1664, 1666, and 1709, were saved from the fire which destroyed the Tron Church and Session House, 15th February, 1793.

– Memorial Catalogue, Gallery 1.

[Walter Scott’s] Rob Roy, operatically dramatised, had already proved a marked success at Covent Garden, and it was now prepared for the Edinburgh Theatre, with an excellent cast and much new and, what was then deemed, valuable scenery. On the 15th of February, 1819, the play was first presented to the Edinburgh audience, and made one of the greatest hits in the annals of the Theatre Royal; and it was announced in the following day’s advertisements that the success had been so triumphant that it would be repeated “every evening till further notice;” yet it ran only forty-one nights consecutively, which seems trifling when compared with the run of many pieces in London.

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.348-352.

DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY NATURAL HISTORY AND ANTIQUARIAN SOCIETY (15th February [1895]). – A paper, entitled “A famous old battlefield,” was contributed by Mr. Alexander D. Murray, Newcastle. The battle referred to was that of Daegsastan, fought in 603, and recorded by Bede in his Ecclesiastical History and in the Saxon Chronicle. Dawston Rigg, in Liddesdale, was, said Mr. Murray, one of two places which were claimed as the site of the battle. The other claimant to the site was Dalston, near Carlisle. He thought modern antiquaries were more partial to Dawston Rigg than to the other, and in any case most certainly a great early battle had been fought on Dawston Rigg, and a halo of tradition always surrounded the locality.

– Scots Lore, pp.173-180.

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