15th of March

St Abraham, hermit of Mesopotamia, and his niece, St Mary, 4th century. St Zachary, Pope, 752. St Leocritia, of Cordova, virgin, martyr, 859.

Born. – Theophilus Bonet, eminent Genevese physician, 1620; Jean Barbeyrac, eminent jurist, 1674, Beziers; General Andrew Jackson, 1767. 
Died. – Julius Cæsar, assassinated, B.C. 44, Rome; Sir Theodore Mayerne, physician to James VI. and Charles I., 1655, Chelsea; John Earl of Loudon, Chancellor of Scotland, 1663; Otto Kotzebue, navigator, 1846; Cardinal Mezzofanti, extraordinary linguist, 1849.


It may amuse the reader to glance over a small collection of the final expressions of remarkable persons, as these are communicated by biographers and historians. In most instances, the authorities are given, along with such explanations as may be presumed to be necessary. 

KING JAMES V. OF SCOTLAND. ‘It came with a lass, and it will go with one!’ 

Alluding to the intelligence brought to him that his wife was delivered of a daughter, the heiress of the crown, and to the fact of the crown having come into his family by the daughter of King Robert Bruce. 

CARDINAL BEATON (assassinated 1546). ‘Fy, fy, all is gone!’ 

‘And so he (James Melvin) stroke him twyse or thrise trowght him with a stog sweard; and so he fell; never word heard out of his mouth, but “I am a preast, I am a preast: fy, fy, all is gone!” ‘ – Knox’s Hist. Reformation in Scot., edit. 1846, i. 177. 

BURNS. ‘That scoundrel, Matthew Penn!’ 

The solicitor who had written to him about a debt, and inspired the poor poet with fears of a jail. 

SIR JOHN MOORE. ‘Stanhope, remember me to your sister.’ 

Addressed to one of his aides-de-camp, the Hon. Captain Stanhope, son of the Earl of Stanhope. The person referred to was the celebrated Lady Hester Stanhope. – Life of Sir John Moore, by his brother, James Carrick Moore

DR ADAM, Rector of the High School of Edinburgh, 1809. ‘It grows dark, boys; you may go.’ 

The venerable teacher thought he was exercising his class in Buchanan’s Psalms, his usual practice on a Monday. The delirium ended with these words. 

SIR WALTER SCOTT. ‘God bless you all!’ 

To his family, surrounding his death-bed. 


‘Upon our inquiring how he felt, he said he was “happy.” ‘ – Life by his Son

EDWARD IRVING. ‘If I die, I die unto the Lord. Amen!’ – Oliphant’s Life of Edward Irving


To Mrs Forbes, who inquired as he was dying if he still knew her. – Memoir of Edward Forbes by George Wilson, &c

In many instances the matter referred to is trivial, in some surprisingly so. In others, there is only an allusion to what was passing at the moment. In few is there any great thought. Some express only the enfeebled mind. Perhaps the most striking is that of Dr Adam of the Edinburgh High School, for it reveals in fact what dying is – a darkening and fading away of the faculties. There is, however, this general lesson to be derived from the expressions of the dying, that there is usually a calmness and absence of strong sensation of any kind at the last moment. On this point, we quote a short passage from the Quarterly Review

‘The pain of dying must be distinguished from the pain of the previous disease; for when life ebbs, sensibility declines. As death is the final extinction of corporeal feelings, so numbness increases as death comes on. The prostration of disease, like healthful fatigue, engenders a growing stupor – a sensation of subsiding softly into a coveted repose. The transition resembles what might be seen in those lofty mountains, whose sides exhibiting every climate in regular gradation, vegetation luxuriates at their base, and dwindles in the approach to the regions of snow, till its feeblest manifestation is repressed by the cold. The so-called agony can never be more formidable than when the brain is the last to go, and the mind preserves to the end a rational cognizance of the state of the body. Yet persons thus situated commonly attest that there are few things in life less painful than the close. “If I had strength enough to hold a pen,” said William Hunter, “I would write how easy and delightful it is to die.” “If this be dying,” said the niece of Newton, of Olney, “it is a pleasant thing to die;” “the very expression,” adds her uncle, “which another friend of mine made use of on her death-bed a few years ago.” The same words have so often been uttered under similar circumstances, that we could fill pages with instances which are only varied by the name of the speaker. “If this be dying,” said Lady Glenorchy, “it is the easiest thing imaginable.” “I thought that dying had been more difficult,” said Louis XIV. “I did not suppose it was so sweet to die,” said Francis Suarez, the Spanish theologian. An agreeable surprise was the prevailing sentiment with them all. They expected the stream to terminate in the dash of the torrent, and they found it was losing itself in the gentlest current.’

On this Day in  Other Sources.

This year, a peace is concluded [between] the Scottish, English and French. The articles concluded on were: 

Firstly, That the French King and Scottish Queen should not carry the arms of England and Ireland on any [of] the household stuff, or entitle themselves in their letters and patents. 

Secondly, That the kingdom of Scotland shall be governed by 12 Scots noblemen; 7 of them to be chosen by the Queen, and 5 by the country. 

Thirdly, That all injuries be [in the] past and put in oblivion, [between] the 15th of March 1558, and the first of August 1560. 

Fouthly, That all that had been during the troubles injured in their title, dignities and goodnes, be restored, and that no Frenchman [stay] in Scotland hereafter. 

Fifthly, That if the nobility pleased, they should slight the fortifications of Leith, and those against Dunbar castle, that were [being built]

Sixthly, That all Frenchmen depart Scotland home to France within 20 days, except two companies of foot to keep Inchkeith and Dunbar castle, and they, notwithstanding, to be subject to the Scottish counsel. 

– Historical Works, pp.275-340.

Murray left the court, where he could not well remain, after entering into such an association, on the 15th of March [1565,] which, plainly, led on to civil war. 

– Life of Mary, pp.98-126.

Adam Bruntfield, brother of the deceased, ‘allegit that James Carmichael had slaiun his brother by treason, having promisit to meet him hand to hand, and had brought others with him to his slaughter, and therefore was a traitor. The other stood to his denial, and they baith seyit [tried] their moyen [influence] at his majesty’s hands for ane license to fecht, whilk with great difficulty was granted by his grace.’ They met (March 15, [1597]) on Barnbougle Sands or Links, near Cramond Island, in the presence of a great multitude, and with the Duke of Lennox, the Laird of Buccleuch, Sir James Sandilands, and Lord Sinclair, to act as judges. ‘The one was clothes in blue taffeta, the other in red sattin.’ Carmichael, who was ‘as able a like man as was living,’ seemed at first to have great advantage over Adam Bruntfield, who was ‘but ane young man, and of mean stature;’ and at the first encounter he struck Adam on the loin. To the surprise of all, however, Bruntfield ‘strikes him in the craig [throat], and syne loups aboon him, and gives him sundry straiks with his dagger, and sae slays him. Adam Bruntfield is convoyit to Edinburgh with great triumph as ane victorious captain; and the other borne in deid.’ – Bir. Pa. And. C. K. Sc. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.124-176.


– Scots Lore, pp.78-84. 

[Lady Yester’s] munificence might well have warranted the bestowal upon her of the epithet “Lady Bountiful,” and it is little wonder that in the second half of the 17th century, whilst her memory was still fresh, the industrious compiler of “A Perfect Inventar of all the pious donationes since the dayes of King Ja: the first,” when at the close of his compilation he came to record Lady Yester’s charitable gifts, departed from his rule of merely cataloguing bequests, and wrote a brief but comprehensive and generous biography…
1 She built a kirk neer to þe hie Schole in Edr And bestowed toward þe building þerof 1000 lib wt 5000 mks for þe use of þe minister at þe sd church And a Litle befor her death She caused Joyne þerto ane Little Isle for þe use of þe minister wher she Lyes interred into ane Tomb in þe wall wt this inscrip’ne  
It is needles to erect a marball Tomb,  
The dayly bread vat for þe hungry womb.  
And bread of Lyfe thy bounty hath provydit,  
ffor hungry Soules all tymes to be divydit  
Wold Lasting monuments shall reare  
That shall Endure till Chryst himselfe appeare.  
Pos’d wes her lyfe prepared her happy end,  
Nothing in either wes wtout comend.  
Let be the Care of all vat Live heireftir  
To Live and dye like Margaret Lady Yester.  
Who departed þis Lyfe at Edr 15 March 1647 aged 75.  
Mors patet hora Latet Spes altera vitæ.  
And upone her throwgh Stone neir þerto is this Inscription following:-   
     Hic Jacet Margareta Ker filia Marci comitis de Louthian maritata primo D: Jacobo Hay de Yester Eo defunto D: Andreæ Ker Juniori de Jedburgh quæ postquam in templa hospitalia Scholas et alios pios usus hic et alibi munifiventissime Expedisset ædem vicinam cultui divinis suis sumptibus Extrui Curavit et 2000 mercas pro structura ædis et Salario Ministri Ejusdem Impendit Obiit 15 Martij, ætatis 75.  
     [Here lies Margaret Ker, daughter of Mark count of Louthian first married D: James Hay of Yester then D: Andrew Ker younger from Jedburgh After the temples, hospitals schools and other religious uses this and other nearby temple to worship God in their glorious provisions and costs extra [Curavit] 2000 marks for the building of the temple and  ministers salary the same charges Died 15 March, at age 75.]

Hackney-coaches are said to have been introduced in Glasgow in the middle of the seventeenth century, but if so they disappeared again. Under date 15th March, 1673, the council “refers to the provest, and to thame he pleases to tak with him, to settle and agrie with ane coachman for serving the toune with haikna coaches the best way they can.” What came of this does not appear, but for a long time there were few if any coaches in Glasgow, either private or for hire. 

– Old Glasgow, pp.289-299.

‘This is the burying place belonging to Provest James Bell’s heirs portioners. 1734. Within this tomb lye the remains of ..; also of Alexander Wylie, who died March 15th 1793, aged 67 years.’ 

– Scots Lore, pp.141-148.

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