28th of March

Saints Priscus, Malchus, and Alexander, of Cæsarea, in Palestine, martyrs, 280. St Sixtus III., Pope, 440. St Gontran, King of Burgundy, 593.

Died. – Pope Martin IV., 1285; Sanzio Raffaelle, painter, 1520, Rome; Jacques Callot, eminent engraver, 1636, Nanci; Wentzel Hollar, celebrated engraver, 1677, Westminster; Margaret Woffington, celebrated actress, 1760; Marquis de Condorcet, philosophical writer, 1794; General Sir Ralph Abercrombie, battle of Alexandria, 1801.


During a hundred and fifty years following the Reformation, Catholicism, as is well known, was generally treated by the law with great severity, insomuch that a trafficking priest found was liable to capital punishment for merely performing the rites of his religion. Nevertheless, even in the most rigorous times, there was always a number of priests concealed in the houses of the Catholic nobility and gentry, daring everything for the sake of what they thought their duty. The country-houses of the wealthy Catholics were in many instances provided with secret chambers, in which the priests lived concealed probably from all but the lord and lady of the mansion, and at the utmost one or two confidential domestics. It is to be presumed that a priest was rarely a permanent tenant of the Patmos provided for him, because usually these concealed apartments were so straitened and inconvenient that not even religious enthusiasm could reconcile any one long to occupy them. Yet we are made aware of an instance of a priest named Father Blackhall residing for a long series of years in the reign of Charles I. concealed in the house of the Viscountess Melgum, in the valley of the Dee, in Scotland.1

1  See his Memoirs, published by the Spalding Society.

On this Day in Other Sources.

On March 28, 1559, Mary of Guise, with a sorely diminished court, took up her residence in the fortress; she was received with every respect by Lord Erskine, who, as the holder of the Queen’s garrison, was strictly neutral between the contending parties. The Reformers were now in arms with the English auxiliaries, so the French, who had waged war through all Fife and the Lothians, were compelled to keep within the ramparts of Leith, the operations against which the fair Regent, though labouring under a mortal illness, which the cares of state had aggravated, watched daily from the summit of David’s Tower. Her illness, a virulent dropsical affection, increased.

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.32-47.

As soon as the kingdom was settled under Bruce, this monastery [of Dunfermline] was begun to be rebuilt, but probably never regained its former grandeur. According to Lindsay of Pitscottie, the abbey and its church were finally destroyed on the 28th of March, 1560. The last abbot was George Durie, of the family of Durie of that ilk, who held the office from 1530 till the destruction of the monastery. He died in 1572.

– Gazetteer of Scotland, pp.388-395.

Thus were the confederate lords outwitted. The Earl of Bothwell lost no time in raising a force for the queen’s protection, and on the 28th of March, [1566,] he escorted [Queen Mary] and her husband, [Darnley,] back to Edinburgh at the head of 2000 horsemen. Ruthven, Morton, and the other conspirators, who had been denounced by Darnley, fled to England. Moray and Bothwell were reconciled, and the former made his peace with the queen. Darnley, whose treachery was made fully evident, was shunned and hated by both parties. 

– A History of Scotland, Chapter XIV.

Seeing that after the foresaid murder, treason and parricide perpetrated and committed by them as has been said, in the said month of February, when our said dearest father had gone to sleep in the silence of night, the said James, earl of Bothwell, not ignorant that he was the principal conspirator, planner and doer of the foresaid abominable parricide, sought out all means and colours with which he could cover and hide his nefarious deed in his eagerness not to let the deed come to light according to the laws and customs of our realm. Dishonestly by effort and solicitation on 28 March just past he saw to it that letters were instructed at the instance of our advocates and on 29 March brought it about that our dearest grandfather Matthew [Stewart], earl of Lennox, lord Darnley, and all others of our lieges having or claiming to have interest, were to compear at the market cross and various other places on 12 April for a prosecution in the presence of our justice and our advocates, to assist in the prosecution of the foresaid case, with ratification that if they did not then our justice and his deputes would proceed in the administration of justice in the said case in accordance with the laws and custom of the realm.1

London Quarterly.

1  James VI: 1567, 15 December, Edinburgh, Parliament.

A correspondence ensued, between the Queen, and Lennox, which we may remember was thought somewhat frivolous, by the Queen’s ministers; as we have seen, from Kyllygrew’s letter to Cecil. This correspondence ended, however, when an order was made, by the Privy Council, on the 28th of March [1567,] for Bothwell’s trial, on the 12th of April, then next.

– Life of Mary, pp.155-184.

Kirkcaldy, whose services in France and elsewhere had won him the high reputation of being “the bravest soldier in Europe,” left nothing undone, amid the unsettled state of affairs, to strengthen his post. He raised and trained soldiers without opposition, seized all the provisions that were brought into Leith, and garrisoned St. Giles’s church, into the open spire of which he swung up cannon to keep the citizens in awe. This was on the 28th of March, 1571.

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.47-66.

Mar. 28 [1583.] – De Menainville remained for some time after. ‘Upon Thursday the 28th of March, commonly called Skyre Thursday, [he] called into his lodging thirteen poor men, and washed their feet according to the popish manner, whereat the people was greatly offended.’ – Cal.

– Domestic Annals, pp.81-98.

Mar. 28 [1612.] – Proceeding upon the principle that the smallest trait of industrial enterprise forms an interesting variety on the too ample details of barbarism, I remark with pleasure a letter of the king of this date, agreeing to the proposal lately brought before him by a Fleming – namely, to set up a work for the making of ‘brinston, vitreall, and allome’ in Scotland, on condition that he received a privilege excluding rivalry for the space of thirteen years. About the same time, one Archibald Campbell obtained a privilege to induce him ‘to bring in strangers to make red herrings.’ In June 1613, he petitioned that the king would grant him, by way of pension for his further encouragement, the fourteen lasts of herrings yearly paid to his majesty by the Earl of Argyll, ‘as the duty of the tack of the assize of herrings of those parts set to him,’ being of the value of £38 yearly. – M. S. P.

– Domestic Annals, pp.177-227.

In the careful fashion of that age, an account was kept of the boy’s expenses, from which I cannot resist giving a few extracts.

COMPT of MONEYIS debursit for clothes and utheris necessaris to my Lord of Lorne’s sone, beginnand the 26 of September 1633:-
1636. – Given to my Lord Lornes sone the 28 of March quhen he went to Rosneth, ane gold ring set with ane Turkiss stene, pryce
xx lib.                                 

– Sketches, pp.341-394.

War was resolved on, and with a noble ardour thousands of trained Scottish officers and soldiers, who had been pushing their fortune by the shores of the Elbe and the Rhine, in Sweden and Germany, came pouring home to enrol under the banner of the Covenant; a general attack was concerted on every fortress in Scotland; and the surprise of Edinburgh was undertaken by the commander of the army, Sir Alexander Leslie of Balgonie, Marshal of Sweden under Gustavus Adolphus – a soldier second to none in Europe.

This he achieved successfully on the evening of the 28th March [1638,] when he blew in the barrier gate with a petard. The Covenanters rushed through the Spur sword in hand, and the second gate fell before their sledge-hammers, and then Haldane of Gleneagles, the governor, gave up his sword. That night Leslie gave the Covenanting lords a banquet in the hall of the Castle, whereon they hoisted their blue standard with the motto, “For an oppressed kirk and broken Covenant.” Montrose’s regiment, 1,500 strong, replaced the garrison; Lord Balmerino was appointed governor, and many cavaliers were committed prisoners to his care, and remained there till the pacification of Berwick.

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.47-66.

Of the Mercurius Caledonius, only nine numbers were published, the last being dated March 28, 1661. It must be admitted that the style of composition and editorship was frivolous and foolish to a degree surprising even for that delirious period.

– Domestic Annals, pp.302-321.

Scottish Guardian, Glasgow, Friday 28th March 1856, p.3.


    Mysterious Death. – Yesterday morning, between two and three o’clock, the watchman at Whiteinch, Partick, heard moans of distress on the opposite side of the river at Govan. Having procured the assistance of another watchman, he rowed across the river, and found a man tossing about on the sand within a few feet of the water as if in great pain. The poor man died immediately upon being brought over to the north side of the river. No marks of violence could be observed upon the body, with the exception of a slight abrasion of the skin as if caused by a burn with boiling water. Deceased, who has not yet been recognised, was dressed in the garb of a mechanic.

Curious and Interesting Deaths.

Scotch Law and Sunday.

IT is not true that every one of the minor Scotch judges is a Sabbatarian hypocrite. MR. JOHN MACLAURIN, the Sheriff Substitute of Argyllshire, has shown himself capable, in a Sunday case, of pronouncing a judgment unbiassed by fanaticism. This learned gentleman, according to the Daily Scotsman, has delivered “an interlocutor and note” in actions of damages, brought by two Glasgow spirit dealers, travellers by the Emperor steamer on a Sunday, against two hotel-keepers in Dunoon, for refusing them admittance to their hotels on that day, “in consequence, as the innkeepers stated, of their being ordered by the local justices to refuse admittance to all travellers by the Emperor steamer on Sunday, under pain of losing their licence.” MR. MACLAURIN’s sentence awarded the plaintiffs £1 damages and expenses. It now remains for the defendants to bring their action against the local justices in consequence of whose tyrannical menaces they have been subjected to pecuniary loss, for which, MR. MACLAURIN will no doubt decide, they ought to be indemnified by those stupid and sanctimonious fellows. – March 28, 1857, p.121.

Punch’s Almanack 1857.

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