23rd of March

St Victorian, proconsul of Carthage, and others, martyrs, 484. St Alphonsus Turibius, Archybishop of Lima, 1606.


Born. – Pierre Simon Laplace, French savant, author of Mécanique Céleste, 1749, Beaumont-en-Ange
Died. – Peter the Cruel, king of Castile, 1369; Pope Julius III., 1556; Justus Lipsius eminent historical writer, 1606, Louvain; Paul, Emperor of Russia, assassinated, 1801, St Petersburg; Augustus frederick Kotzebue, German dramatist, 1819, assassinated at Mannheim; Carl Maria von Weber, German musical composer, 1829, London.



Medical men see more strange things, perhaps, than any other persons. They are repeatedly called upon to grapple with difficulties, concerning which there is no definite line of treatment generally recognised; or to treat exceptional cases, in which the usual course of proceeding cannot with safety be adopted. If it were required to name the articles which a woman would not be likely to swallow, a brass padlock might certainly claim a place in the list; and we can well imagine that a surgeon would find his ingenuity taxed to grapple with such a case. An instance of this kind took place in Edinburgh in 1837; as recorded in the local journals, the particulars were as follows: On the 23d of March, the surgeons at the Royal Infirmary were called upon to attend to a critical case. About the middle of February, a woman, while engaged in some pleasantry, put into her mouth a small brass padlock, about an inch and two-thirds in length, and rather more than an inch in breadth. To her consternation, it slipped down her throat. fear of distressing her friends led her to conceal the fact. She took an emetic, but without effect; and for twenty-four hours she was in great pain, with a sensation of suffocation in the throat. She then got better, and for more than a month suffered but little pain. Renewed symptoms of inconvenience led her to apply to the Infirmary. One of the professors believed the story she told; others deemed it incredible; and nothing immediately was done. When, however, pain, vomiting, and a sense of suffocation returned, Dr James Johnson, hospital-assistant to Professor Lizars, was called upon suddenly to attend to her. He saw that either the padlock must be extracted, or the woman would die. An instrument was devised for the purpose by Mr Macleod, a surgical instrument maker; and, partly by the skill of the operator, partly by the ingenious formation of the instrument, the strange mouthful was extracted from the throat. The woman recovered.


On this Day in Other Sources.


We gather from its contents that the writer was a McGregor, acknowledging McGregor of Glensthrae for his chief; that he was a priest, and “said his first mann” at Whitsunday 1531; that he came to the cure of Fortirgall at Beltane 1532; and that he spent the remainder of his life in that neighbourhood. He records chiefly the obits and funerals of Fortirgall and Inchaddin, though mixed with such as interested him of the passing events of the Highlands, and of the public affairs of the country. He records that he began to sow oats in the Borllin of Fortirgall on 23d March of each of the years 1575 and 1576; 

– Sketches, pp.341-394.


March 23 [1619.] – It had been a custom of the congregations in Edinburgh to hold a meeting on the Tuesday before the administration of the communion. ‘If anything was amiss in the lives, doctrines, or any part of the office of their pastors, every man had liberty to show wherein they were offended; and if anything was found amiss, the pastors promised to amend it. If they had anything likewise to object against the congregation, it was likewise heard, and amendment was promised. If there was any variance among neighbours, pains were taken to make reconciliation, that so both pastors and people might communicate in love at the banquet of love.’ On the present occasion, the affair had much the character of a modern public meeting, and the people stood boldly up to their pastors, arguing against the innovations of worship now about to be introduced, particularly kneeling at the sacrament. – Cal

– Domestic Annals, pp.177-227.


Mr. Williamson, king’s messenger for Scotland, traced the Deacon from point to point till he reached Dover, where after an eighteen days’ pursuit he disappeared; but by a sort of fatuity, often evinced by persons similarly situated, he gave clues to his own discovery. He remained in London till the 23rd of March [1787.] He took his passage on board the Leith smack Endeavour for that port, disguised as an old man in bad health, and under the name of John Dixon; but on getting out of the Thames, according to some previous arrangement, he was landed at Flushing, and from thence reached Ostend. On board the smack he was rash enough to give in charge of a Mr. Geddes letters addressed to three persons in Edinburgh, one of whom was his favourite mistress in Cant’s Close. Geddes, full of suspicion, on reaching Leith gave the documents to the authorities. Mr. Williamson was once more on his track, and discovered him in Amsterdam, through the treachery of an Irishman named Daly, when he was on the eve of his departure for America;.. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.112-118.

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