30th of March

St John Climacus, the Scholastic, abbot of Mount Sinai, 605. St Zozimus, Bishop of Syracuse, 660. St Regulus (or Rieul), Bishop of Senlis.

Born. – Sir Henry Wotton, Provost of Eton College, and poetical and prose writer, 1568, Broughton Hall, Kent; Francis Pilatre de Rozier, aëronaut, 1756, Metz.
Died. – Phocion, Athenian general and statesman, B.C. 317; Sebastian de Vauban, military engineer (fortification), 1707, Paris; Dr William Hunter, 1783, Windmill-street, St James’s; James Morier, traveller and novelist, 1849.


One of Wotton’s acquaintances was Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, and there can be little doubt that Wotton was, some way or another, implicated in the rash plot of that unfortunate nobleman. For when Essex was sent to the Tower, as a step so far on his way to the scaffold, Wotton thought it prudent, ‘very quickly and as privately, to glide through Kent unto Dover,’ and, with the aid of a fishing-boat, to place himself on the shores of France. He soon after reached Florence, where he was taken notice of by Ferdinand de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, who sent him, under the feigned name of Octavio Baldi, on a secret mission to James VI. of Scotland. The object of this mission had reference to James’s succession to the English throne, and a plot to poison him, said to be entered into by some Jesuits. After remaining three months in Scotland, Wotton returned to Italy, but soon after, hearing of the death of Elizabeth, he waited on the King at London. ‘Ha,’ said James, when he observed him at Court, ‘there is my old friend Signor Octavio Baldi.’ The assembled courtiers, among whom was Wotton’s brother, stared in confusion, none of them being aware of his mission to Scotland. ‘Come forward and kneel, Signor Octavio Baldi,’ said the king; who, on Wotton obeying, gave him the accolade, saying, ‘Arise, Sir Henry Wotton.’ James, as from his character may readily be supposed, highly enjoyed the state of mystification the courtiers were thrown into by the unexpected scene. Immediately after, Wotton received the appointment of ambassador to the city of Venice.


It was on the 30th of March 1639, that the Scottish covenanting army, under the Marquis of Montrose, marched into Aberdeen, in order to put down a reactionary movement for the king and episcopacy which had been raised in that city. The day proved a fine one, and therefore favourable for the march of the troops, a fact which occasioned a thankful surprise in the friends of the Covenant, since it was one of the Borrowed Days, which usually are ill. One of their clergy alluded to this in the pulpit, as a miraculous dispensation of Providence in favour of the good cause.

The Borrowed Days are the three last of March. The popular notion is, that they were borrowed by March from April, with a view to the destruction of a parcel of unoffending young sheep – a purpose, however, in which March was not successful. The whole affair is conveyed in a rhyme thus given at the firesides of the Scottish peasantry:-

‘March said to Aperill, 
 I see three hoggs upon a hill, 
 And if you’ll lend me dayes three, 
 I’ll find a way to make them dee. 
 The first o’ them was wind and weet, 
 The second o’ them was snaw and sleet, 
 The third o’ them was sic a freeze, 
 It froze the birds’ nebs to the trees: 
 When the three days were past and gane, 
 The three silly hoggs came hirpling hame.’ 

Sir Thomas Browne, in his Vulgar Errors, alludes to this popular fiction, remarking, ‘It is usual to ascribe unto March certain Borrowed Daies from April.’ But it is of much greater antiquity than the time of Browne. In the curious book entitled the Complaynt of Scotland, printed in 1548, occurs the following passage:- ‘There eftir i entrit in ane grene forest, to contempill the tender yong frutes of grene treis, becaus the borial blastis of the thre borouing dais of Marche hed chaissit fragrant flureise of evyrie frut-tree far athourt the fieldis.’ Nor is this all, for there is an ancient calendar of the church of Rome often quoted by Brand, in which allusion is made to ‘the rustic fable concerning the nature of the month [March]; the rustic names of six days which shall follow in April, or may be last in March.’

No one has yet pretended fully to explain the origin or meaning of this fable. Most probably, in our opinion, it has taken its rise in the observation of a certain character of weather prevailing about the close of March, somewhat different from what the season justifies one of those many wintry relapses which belong to the nature of a British spring. this idea we deem to be supported by Mrs. Grant’s account of a similar superstition in the Highlands:- ‘The Faoilteach, or those first days of February, serve many poetical purposes in the Highlands. They are said to have been borrowed for some purpose by February from January, who was bribed by February with three young sheep. These three days, by Highland reckoning, occur between the 11th and 15th of February; and it is accounted a most favourable prognostic for the ensuing year that they should be as stormy as possible. If these days should be fair, then there is no more good weather to be expected through the spring. Hence the Faoilteach is used to signify the very ultimatum of bad weather.’ – Superstitions of the Highlanders, ii. 217.

On this Day in Other Sources.

Darnley, following the Queen to Stirling, was taken with the measles, which hung about him till the 30th [March, 1565], when the Queen’s solicitude, about his health, was observed by malignant eyes. 

– Life of Mary, pp.98-126.

Mar. 30 [1625.] – The news of the death of King James – which occurred on the 27th of March – reached Edinburgh on the 30th at the outbreak of a storm of extraordinary violence which raged along the whole coast, destroying much shipping and throwing down several harbours. ‘The water raise above the harbour of Leith, and ran into the houses of the town; yea, the boats and barks within the same floated so above the shore, that some of them were cast away upon the sides of the houses; and great ships therein could not be keepit, with all their anchors and cables, from doing great skaith, ilk ane to ane other, whereof the like was never heard tell of in our days.’ – Jo. Hist

– Domestic Annals, pp.177-227.

Montrose had, about this time, received a commission from the Tables, as the boards of representatives, chosen respectively by the nobility, county gentry, clergy, and inhabitants of the burghs, were called, to raise a body of troops for the service of the covenanters, and he now proceeded to embody them with extraordinary promptitude. Within one month, he collected a force of about three thousand horse and foot, from the counties of Fife, Forfar, and Perth, and put them into a complete state of military discipline. Being joined by the forces under General Leslie, he marched upon Aberdeen, which he entered, without opposition, on the thirtieth of March, the marquis of Huntly having abandoned the town on his approach. Some idea of the well-appointed state of this army may be formed from the curious description of Spalding, who says, that “upon the morne, being Saturday, they came in order of battell, weill armed, both on horse and foot, ilk horseman having five shot at the least, with ane carabine in his hand, two pistols by his sydes, and other two at his saddell toir; the pikemen in their ranks, with pike and sword; the musketiers in their ranks, with musket, musket-staffe, bandelier, sword, powder, ball, and match; ilk company, both on horse and foot, had their captains, lieutenants, ensignes, serjeants, and other officers and commanders, all for the most part in buff coats, and in goodly order. They had five colours or ensignes; whereof the earl of Montrose had one, haveing this motto, ‘FOR RELIGION, THE COVENANT, AND THE COUNTRIE;’ the earle of Marischall had one, the earle of Kinghorne had one, and the town of Dundie had two.

– History of the Highlands, pp.314-341.

4. WILLIAM HUNTER, M.D., of Long Calderwood, Lanarkshire.

Born at Long Calderwood, 23rd May, 1718; died in London, 30th March, 1783. 

Physician and Surgeon. One of the most eminent teachers of anatomy of the last century; author of several celebrated works. Studied in Glasgow University, from 1731 to 1736; settled in London in 1741 as assistant to Dr. James Douglas, whom he shortly afterwards succeeded; and became physician to Queen Charlotte. Was the instructor, in anatomy, of his brother, John Hunter. By his will, of date 23rd July, 1781, he left the ultimate possession of his extensive and valuable museum and library, with a considerable sum of money, to the University of Glasgow. The collection was conveyed to Glasgow in 1807, and now, with many additions, constitutes the Hunterian Museum.

– Memorial Catalogue, Gallery 1.

In July, 1753, the last of those who were tried for loyalty to the House of Stuart was placed in the Castle – Archibald Macdonald, son of the aged Cole Macdonald of Barrisdale, who died a captive there in 1750. Arraigned as a traitor, this unfortunate gentleman behaved with great dignity before the court; he admitted that he was the person accused, but boldly denied the treason, and asserted his loyalty to his lawful king. “On the 30th March he was condemned to die; but the vengeance of the Government had already been glutted, and after receiving various successive reprieves, young Barrisdale was released, and permitted to return to the Western Isles.” 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.66-79.

Soon after receipt of Earl Gower’s letter, it would appear that a copy of the petition, with his Lordship’s answer, had been transmitted to the sheriff-depute by the tenants. Mr. Cranstoun, in answer, upon 30th March [1815], says, “that if the tenants mean to take a precognition immediately, it will proceed before the sheriff-substitute, as my engagement will not permit me to be in Sutherland until the month of July.”  

In consequence of these proceedings, on an express injunction from his Majesty’s advocate-depute, and a similar one from the sheriff-depute, I was compelled to enter upon an investigation of the complaints.  

With this view I was induced to go into Strathnaver, where, at considerable personal inconvenience and expense, and with much patient perseverance, I examined about forty evidences upon the allegations stated in the tenants’ petition; and it is with the deepest regret I have to inform your Lordship, that a more numerous catalogue of crimes, perpetrated by an individual, has seldom disgraced any country, or sullied the pages of a precognition in Scotland. 

– Gloomy Memories, pp.10-12.

Angus having got notice of the rev. gentleman’s designs, had a memorial drawn up and presented to her Grace the late Duchess, who, in answer, gave orders to the factor to the effect that, if Angus Campbell was to be removed for the convenience of Mr. McKenzie, he should be provided with another lot of land equally as good as the one he possessed. But, like all the other good promised by her Grace, this was disregarded as soon as she turned her back; the process of removal was carried on, and to punish Angus for having applied to her, he was dealt with in the following manner, as stated in a memorial to his Grace the present Duke, dated 30th March, 1840.

In his absence, a messenger-at-arms with a party, came from Dornoch to his house, and ejected his wife and family; and having flung out their effects, locked the doors of the dwelling house, offices, &c., and carried the keys to the safe keeping of the rev. Mr. McKenzie, for his own behoof. These proceedings were a sufficient warning to all neighbours not to afford shelter or relief to the victims; hence the poor woman had to wander about, sheltering her family as well as she could in severe weather, till her husband’s arrival. When Angus came home, he had recourse to an expedient which annoyed his reverence very much; he erected a booth on his own ground in the church-yard and on the tomb of his father, and in this solitary abode he kindled a fire, endeavouring to shelter and comfort his distressed family, and showing a determination to remain, notwithstanding the wrath and threatenings of the minister and factors. But as they did not think it prudent to expel him thence by force, they thought of a stratagem which succeeded. They spoke him fair, and agreed to allow him to resume his former possession, if he would pay the expenses (£4 13s) incurred in ejecting him. The poor man consented, but no sooner had he paid the money than he was turned out again, and good care taken this time to keep him out of the church-yard. He had then to betake himself to the open fields, where he remained with his family, till his wife was seized with an alarming trouble, when some charitable friend at last ventured to afford him a temporary covering; but no distress could soften the heart of his reverence, so as to make him relent. 

– Gloomy Memories, pp.67-70.



   At the last meeting of our Town-Council, Bailie Brown Douglas made a motion, and which was unanimously carried, to the effect, that it be remitted to the Lord Provost’s Committee to consider whether there had been any unwarrantable changes lately made in the quartering of the Royal arms of Scotland with those of Great Britain, as displayed on public buildings and otherwise in Scotland, and if satisfied that these alleged encroachments have been made on the privileges of Scotland, then to petition Her Majesty, or take the other necessary measures for remeid of the wrong. Some may consider it as immaterial, and involving no substantial matter how those devices are arranged. We differ widely from that idea, holding, on the contrary, this interference with the national emblems of Scotland to be an apt indication of that neglect and indifference on the part of the Government towards the interests of Scotland to which Bailie Brown Douglas refers. After the union of the two Crowns, and when the Scotch were more jealous of their privileges than they appear to have been a century later, the Royal arms of Scotland, when quartered with those of Great Britain, this being the emblem of the union, invariably had precedence of the latter. This was a recognition of the distinct nationality of Scotland. The treaty of union took effect, but Scotland did not merge into England any more than England into Scotland. Each retained their special rights and prerogative under that treaty, so far as these were considered not incompatible with the federal policy, and all which was provided for by the treaty. The Crown still adorned the unicorn, affording a figure that Scotland was a kingdom, but the Royal arms are now displayed in Scotland in certain instances with the unicorn minus the crown, though the lion, the supporter of England, never appears without that fitting badge of sovereignty on his head.  

   The learned Bailie, as we may here truly say, however, adduces another instance of the encroachment on the privileges of Scotland, which might entail severe practical consequences on all concerned if the law was properly enforced. He ascertained that the last commission of the Justices of the Peace sent to Edinburgh bore the Great Seal of England instead of the Great Seal of Scotland, whereas the 24th clause of the Act of Union laid down in effect, That the Seal of Scotland, after the Union, be always kept and made use of in all things relative to private rights, commissions, offices, &c., within that kingdom. The Earl of Selkirk is the Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland, and he has his deputy and substitute. If, then, the Lord Keeper and his insignia are thrown aside, and the Great Seal kept by the English Lord Chancellor substituted, that high functionary, qua the head of the Court of Chancery, having no jurisdiction in Scotland, are the commissions thus sealed valid and effectual in Scotland? This is a question that might soon come to be tried, and unless an act of the Imperial Parliament could be produced, giving the Great Seal of England that authority within Scotland, the commissions so stamped would be void, and those holding them, of course, would be found to have been acting without power. If this flaw could be made out, it would afford another illustration of that aggression on Scottish rights which has been silently advancing.  

   If there are parties who are disposed, without reflecting on the subject, to smile at this zeal to retain the Ancient prerogatives as guaranteed to Scotland by the act of Union, even to the quartering of the Royal arms – we may simply ask them how they would relish a proposition to put down our Supreme Courts (as certain have been already allowed to be put down), and transfer the supreme jurisdiction to Westminster Hall? There would be nothing so incongruous in that idea, however startling it might appear, if we were to try it by what has been already done, and most supinely tolerated. It is the legitimate end of the beginning that has been made, and we again say, obsta principiis. – Caledonian Mercury. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Wednesday 30th March, 1853.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1850-1875.

“… The union of the Crowns on the head of James the First of England was of comparatively small account on the union of the nations. Cromwell’s union in 1654 would have effected infinitely more than the union of the Crowns in 1603 by means of its far-seeing and significant provision that free-trade should be established between the two countries. But with the Restoration came the Navigation Act, and its deplorable repeal of that beneficent provision. The savagely restrictive and shamelessly selfish policy of England in the domain of trade during the latter half of the seventeenth century goaded Scotland almost to madness; and while there were at present whispers in the air that the first effect of granting Home Rule to Ireland would be that she would establish as against England a protective policy, it was well that it should be remembered that it was mainly the existence of such a policy on the part of England that convinced statesmen of the absolute necessity of a legislative union between England and Scotland. Had England not appealed alike to the interest and patriotism of her poorer neighbour, by conceding her every desire in matters of trade, Scotland, soured by the hapless failure of the Darien scheme, and inflamed by the cruelty of a commercial oppression which bound her rising in chains, would have rejected union at the point of the sword. To consent to it without these terms would have been to accept, in a more insidious form, that which at Bannockburn she had resisted with conspicuous success, and so it came about that upon these terms the union of the Parliaments of 1707 was effected. No doubt an ultra patriotic party remained, and the cry for repeal was one of those which could be used with effect to beguile patriotism into rebellion in the ‘15 and ‘45, and this union, too, had to be sealed with blood. The two facts which stood over against one another in marked historical contrast were undoubtedly Bannockburn and Culloden. The object of both was one; but as Bannockburn aimed at unity by the subjugation of the little kingdom, and the cruel overthrow of the race of Scottish kings, so Culloden, not so bloody, but as cruel, had a kindlier message and a more enduring result for both the nations in whose history it closed and began an epoch. The kingdoms were incorporated; neither was incorporated. He had dwelt upon this commercial aspect of the Union in order to enforce one consideration upon their minds, namely, that whatever view they inclined to adopt upon the general question of Home Rule for Scotland, they should at least be agreed that if Home Rule were a step towards legislation which would make Scotland in matters of trade the enemy of England, they should reject such Home Rule. The question of trade was but an illustration; for he might put the proposition more broadly to them, that if Home Rule. whether for Scotland or for Ireland, was inconsistent with common action where international interests were involved, then again they should reject it. But to his mind the whole question of Home Rule could be, and ought to be, treated as one which was in no way inconsistent with the unity of the Empire and with legislative and imperial control. If municipalities and counties could and were, may not separate nations also be entrusted with the control of their internal affairs? It was the question stated thus and limited thus, by the results of experience and history that he thought it very worthy of calm and full consideration. The question need not be considered alarming, for, as was too seldom remembered, it was almost directly raised within the four corners of the Treaty of Union itself. The eighteenth article was in these terms:  

   That the laws concerning the regulation of trade, customs, and such excises to which Scotland is by virtue of this Treaty to be liable, be the same in Scotland from and after the Union as in England; and that all other laws in use within the Kingdom of Scotland do after the Union and notwithstanding thereof, remain in the same force as before (except such as are contrary to or are inconsistent with this Treaty), but alterable by the Parliament of Great Britain; with this difference betwixt the laws concerning public right, policy, and civil government, and those which concern private right, that the laws which concern public right, policy, and civil governments may be made the same throughout the whole United Kingdom, but that no alteration be made in laws which concern private right except for the evident utility of the subjects within Scotland.  

   The distinction thus early taken between public right suitable for the determination by a united Parliament, and private right, which was to be governed by its ‘evident utility for the subjects within Scotland,’ shed a flood of light upon the whole problem. It was assumed by the Treaty of Union itself that there must, in questions affecting Scotland alone, be some consideration other than the mere vote of a British Parliament; and this safeguard was accordingly introduced in the interests of the lesser kingdom. Before leaving the subject of the terms of union, he might be permitted to recall the fact which stood in so startling contrast to those of the union between England and Ireland – namely, that the whole fabric of the Scottish judicial system was kept separate and entire. Looking at the matter again, from its executive and administrative side, it was seen that the ordinary units of local government, the burgh and the county, were insufficient in the management of Scottish national affairs; and thus there were formed a variety of central authorities – such as the Scottish Prison Board, the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses, the Board of Supervision, the Scottish Board of Lunacy, and the Scottish Fishery Board – whose existence was a standing testimony to the insufficiency of any system by which the administration of all British affairs could be centralised in London. That such boards were not of greater value might be due to their non-representative character, and was unquestionably also largely owing to the fact that they were hampered on the right hand and on the left by the constant necessity of setting in motion those wheels which revolved so leisurely in the Government offices in London. The defects of this administrative scheme were largely due to the fact that, separated from it, there remained in England the entire system of Scottish legislation, and that while the distance was long and time was short, these boards were so largely go-betweens. The question of Home Rule for Scotland, therefore, proved upon examination to be not so extensive and far less alarming than was commonly supposed; for in Scotland there was at present a considerable instalment of administrative autonomy, and there was and always had been judicial autonomy in satisfactory completeness; and it would be the mere complement of these to place alongside of them, and over precisely the same national area, a system of legislative home rule. Besides this legislative home rule was in precise accord with the spirit of the Union between England and Scotland. Next, considering the question from the point of view of Parliament itself, Mr Shaw directed attention to the increased and increasing burden of work falling upon Parliament – work which was beyond the power of any single assembly. The question had so arisen as to whether this Imperial Parliament could continue to be three local Parliaments, over and above; and if Ireland had a question to put on that subject, Scotland, too, might let her voice be heard. Was it out the question, for instance, that over every great development of Scottish enterprise requiring the sanction of a private bill, there should hang as a terror that uncertainty and ruinous expense which were involved in a contest before London Parliamentary Committees? It seemed hardly doubtful that this scandalous clog upon the industry and prosperity of the Scottish people entailed upon Scotland the enormous burden of about £200,000 per annum; whereas, were a judicious local system introduced, £130,000 would be absolutely saved, and the remaining £70,000 would be spent within Scotland, instead of finding its way into English pockets. Another and unquestionably serious and grave result of the block of business, arising out of the immensity of labour thus continued to the lot of one assembly, is one which it was quite in vain for them any longer to blink – namely, that violence comes to be as effective a mode as, if not a more effective mode than any other of securing the attention and interposition of Parliament. It would be a day of rejoicing not only for these three kingdoms, but for the British Empire, when this enormous evil was abated; and he humbly suggested that its abatement could by no means be more effectively secured than by relieving the Imperial Parliament of its distinctively English, Scottish, and Irish business, and leaving it free to attend to its imperial concerns… Mr Shaw renewed his deprecation of centralisation, and, alluding to the appointment of a Secretary for Scotland, said he frankly owned that he looked upon the concession of a secretaryship as far less in itself than in what it had begun. The institution of that office was but a fringe of the greater change – the wider, more comprehensive, and more radical reform – to which, with increasing constancy, the eyes of Scotsmen were turned. If the concession of a secretaryship were not a concession in the direction of Home Rule, and if they did not frankly accept it as such, it might turn out that in it there was little to be thankful for and much to fear. A strict centralisation, plus a secretaryship, might succeed in producing a Scottish administration with not a little family likeness to Dublin Castle, and with as much love lost between it and the Scottish nation, as there was between the Castle government and the inhabitants of the Emerald Isle.”  

– Scotsman, Tuesday 30th March, 1886.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1875-1900.

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