4th of April

St Isidore, bishop of Seville, 606. St Plato, abbot, 813.

Died. – St Ambrose, 397, Milan; Pope Nicolas IV., 1292; Simon Episcopius (Bischop), Dutch theological writer, 1643, Amsterdam; Oliver Goldsmith, poet and miscellaneous writer, 1774, Temple, London; Lalande, French mathematician, 1807; Andrea Massena, Duke of Rivoli, Marshal of France, 1817, Ruel; Rev. John Campbell, missionary to South Africa, 1840.


Such of our ancestors as possessed rank and wealth had a very arbitrary mode of arranging the alliances of their children. So late as the reign of James [VI.], the disposal of a young orphan heiress lay with the monarch on the throne, by whom it was generally deputed to some favourite possessed of sons to whom the marriage might be important. The union of the ward to a son of that person, or some other person chosen by him, was then inevitable. No one, hardly even the young persons themselves, appear even to have entertained a doubt that this arrangement was all in the natural and legitimate course of things. The subordination of the young in all respects to their seniors was, indeed, one of the most remarkable peculiarities of social life two or three centuries ago.


James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, used to relate with much humorous relish an anecdote of the author of The Excursion. At a meeting in the house of Professor Wilson, on Windermere, in the autumn of 1817, where Wordsworth, Hogg, and several other poets were present, the evening became distinguished by a remarkably brilliant bow of the nature of the aurora borealis across the heavens. The party came out to see it, and looked on for some time in admiration. Hogg remarked, ‘It is a triumphal arch got up to celebrate this meeting of the poets.’ He afterwards heard the future poet-laureate whispering unconsciously to himself – ‘Poets – poets! what does the fellow mean? Where are they?’ In his conception there was but one poet present.1

1 The writer oftener than once heard James Hogg relate this story.

On this Day in Other Sources.

King Robert III. hearing of the taking of his only son, James, by the English, being at supper in his castle of Rothesay, in the Isle of Bute, was so surprised with grief and sorrow of heart, that he expired within a few hours thereafter, on the 4th day of April [1404], being Palm Sunday, in the 16th year of his reign; and was solemnly interred at Paisley abbey.

– Historical Works, pp.133-144.

That in the same fortress [Dundonald Castle], his mild but unfortunate son and successor, Robert III., occasionally resided, may be fairly assumed from the supplies provided for the royal family here. Irvine was the nearest sea-port to Dundonald, and only a few miles distant from it, and there is extant a Compotum of 1396, – in which it is stated, that there was paid to the burgesses of Irvine, in different instalments, for the use of the house of “our Lord the King,” for goods in vessels and other utensils, ordered by the king’s letters under his own seal, £13 3s. 4d.; and to the officers of the king’s house, for their services for that year, £23 18s. 8d. There is another, of the bailies of Irwyn, A. 1398, for money paid for the proper use of “our Lord the King.” This good prince terminated his unhappy reign, April 4th, 1406. According to Pinkerton, this event took place “at the castle of Rothesay in Bute.” In this he is supported by the account given by the continuator of Fordun, and by Skene in his ‘Table of all the Kinges of Scotland.’ But Ruddiman, David Macpherson, and others, give the preference to Wyntoun’s testimony, who says that he died at Dundonald.

– Scotland Illustrated, pp.153-154.

Beside the door which entered under the west window of the church (now the library) [at Aberdeen University], is inscribed –

per serenissimum illustrissimum ac invictissimum J. 4. R.
quarto nonas aprilis anno millesimo et quingentesimo
hoc insigne collegium latomi inteperunt edificare.

– Sketches, pp.254-324.

The Lord James arrived, on the morrow: and, faithfully, promising to serve her to the utmost of his power, assured her, that the whole Scotish nation would obey her, without the aid of foreign force: he appears, even now, to have gained an ascendency over the Queen, which he never lost, after all his aims at her crown: He meantime asked for the earldom of Murray, which she gave him reason to expect; when she became restored to her legitimate government. He seems to have returned somewhat disappointed: He arrived, at Paris, on the 4th of April, 1561, and left it on the 4th of May. As the Lord James was thus playing a double game, between Mary, and Elizabeth, for his own interest, he returned, through London, where he might consult with Cecil, to whom he recommended, as it is said, on sufficient authority, to intercept the Scotish Queen, on her voyage to Scotland.

– Life of Mary, pp.15-41.

[Mary] rode to Falkland. At this noble seat of her progenitors, she remained till the 4th of April, when she made an excursion to St. Andrews. She returned to Falkirk, on the 6th, where she remained till the 16th, when she again repaired to Perth, the favourite seat of James I., who was there assassinated: And here she remained till the end of April [1564], except that she visited Ruthven, on the 25th. She now remained, at Perth, till beyond the middle of May, when she returned to Edinburgh; as we know from the Privy-seal Register.

– Life of Mary, pp.78-98.

The 4th day of April in this year, 1571, the castle of [Dumbarton] being kept against the King’s authority by John Hamilton, Archbishop of St. Andrews, brother to the Duke of [Châtellerault], and the Lord [John] Fleming, captain thereof, who escaped by a [small exit], and shipped himself for France; but the Archbishop, the castle being [rendered], was taken prisoner, brought to [Stirling], and there, on the 7th day of the same month, hanged on a gallows.

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

Much inconvenience being found from the great distance of the parish church, John Shaw of Greenock obtained in 1589, a charter from the king, authorising him to build a church for the accommodation of the tenants and inhabitants of his lands of Greenock, Finnart, and Spangock; and he and they were exempted from any further attendance at their “auld parish kirk” of Innerkip, and from all taxations or imposts for upholding the same. This grant was ratified in parliament in 1592.1 At the time of this grant there was no mention of any town on the barony of Greenock; the inhabitants are described as the “puir pepill duelling vpon his lands and heritage, qlks ar all fischers and of a ressonable nowmer.”

The proprietor having obtained this charter, erected a church and manse, and set apart a piece of ground as a church yard. On the 4th of April 1592, the Synod of Glasgow, authorised the burying of the dead in the new kirk yard of Greenock.2

– Select Views, pp.103-114.

1 Acts Parl. vol. iii. p. 549.
2 Caledonia, vol. Iii. p. 845.

At Aberdeen, Montrose was joined the same day by Lord Fraser, the master of Forbes, the laird of Dalgettie, the tutor of Pitsligo, the Earl Marshall’s men in Buchan, with several other gentlemen and their tenants, dependants and servants, to the number of two thousand, an addition which augmented Montrose’s army to nine thousand men. Leaving the earl of Kintore, with fifteen hundred men, to keep possession of Aberdeen, Montrose marched the same day towards Kintore, where he encamped that night. Halting all Sunday, he proceeded, on the Monday, to Inverury, where he again pitched his camp. The marquis of Huntly grew alarmed at this sudden and unexpected movement, and thought it now full time to treat with such a formidable foe, for his personal safety. He, therefore, despatched Robert Gordon of Straloch and Doctor Gordon, an Aberdeen physician, to Montrose’s camp, to request an interview. The marquis proposed to meet him on a moor near Blackhall, about two miles from the camp, with eleven attendants each, with no arms but a single sword at their side. After consulting with Field Marshall Leslie, and the other officers, Montrose agreed to meet the marquis, on Thursday the fourth of April [1639], at the place mentioned. The parties accordingly met. Among the eleven who attended the marquis were his son James, Lord Aboyne, and the Lord Oliphant. The Lords Elcho and Cowper were of the party who attended Montrose. After the usual salutation, they both alighted, and entered into conversation, but coming to no understanding, they adjourned the conference till the following morning, when the marquis signed a writing substantially the same as the covenant, and obliged himself to make his friends, tenants, and servants to subscribe the covenant.1 The marquis, after this arrangement, went to Strathbogie, and Montrose returned with his army to Aberdeen, the following day. 

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

1  Guthrie’s Memoirs, p. 46. Lond. 1702. Spalding, vol. i. p. 113. 

2179. Demetrius Phalereus. ΔHMHTPIOΥ ΦAΛEPEΩΣ πϵρì EPMHNEIAΣ. Demetrii Phalerei de Elocutione. 1743.

The first Greek book printed in Glasgow. It was published on 4th April, 1743, as appears by an advertisement in the Glasgow Journal of that date.

– Memorial Catalogue, Gallery 1.

Burn’s ‘Dedication’, from the Edinburgh Edition, 1787:

A Scottish Bard, proud of the name, and whose highest ambition is to sing in his Country’s service – where shall he so properly look for patronage as to the illustrious Names of his native Land; those who bear the honours and inherit the virtues of their Ancestors? The Poetic Genius of my Country found me as the prophetic bard Elijah did Elisha – at the plough, and threw her inspiring mantle over me. She bade me sing the loves, the joys, the rural scenes and rural pleasures of my natal Soil, in my native tongue: I tuned my wild, artless notes, as she inspired. She whispered me to come to this ancient metropolis of Caledonia, and lay my Songs under your honoured protection: I now obey her dictates.
Though much indebted to your goodness, I do not approach you, my Lords and Gentlemen, in the usual style of dedication, to thank you for past favours; that path is so hackneyed by prostituted Learning, that honest Rusticity is ashamed of it. Nor do I present this Address with the venal soul of a servile Author, looking for a continuation of those favours: I was bred to the Plough, and am independent. I come to claim the common Scottish name with you, my illustrious Countrymen; and to tell the world that I glory in the title. I come to congratulate my Country, that the blood of her ancient heroes still runs uncontaminated; and that from your courage, knowledge, and public spirit, she may expect protection, wealth, and liberty. In the last place, I come to proffer my warmest wishes to the Great Fountain of Honour, the Monarch of the Universe, for your welfare and happiness.
When you go forth to waken the Echoes, in the ancient and favourite amusement of your Forefathers, may Pleasure ever be of your party; and may Social-joy await your return! When harassed in courts or camps with the jostlings of bad men and bad measures, may the honest consciousness of injured Worth attend your return to your native Seats; and may Domestic Happiness, with a smiling welcome, meet you at your gates! May Corruption shrink at your kindling, indignant glance; and may tyranny in the Ruler and licentiousness in the People equally find you an inexorable foe!
I have the honour to be, with the sincerest gratitude and highest respect,
Your most devoted, humble Servant,
EDINBURGH, April 4, 1787. – (v.1, pp.4-6.)

Robert Burns.


Edinburgh, April 3, 1890.

SIR, – Lord Rosebery last night, in reference to Scottish Home Rule, made use of these words – ‘There is a question promoted very much to my left: the question of Scottish Home Rule. That is a question which does not altogether meet with the unanimous response of the Liberal Party, and yet it is a question of great importance, and, if adopted by the Liberal party, would become a question of extraordinary importance.’ The only meaning that can be put on these words is, that, as far as the leaders are concerned, Home Rule for Scotland has no place in their programme. This is exactly what we have been saying all along, and have come in for no little abuse for daring to whisper such a sentiment. Home Rule for Scotland was to follow Home Rule for Ireland, and one step at a time was true policy – so said the rank and file of the party – but no responsible statesman ever endorsed such a policy. The whole burden of their speeches is, ‘Help us to give Ireland Home Rule, and then we will get on with the work of the British Empire.’ If they mean to give Home Rule to Scotland, why can’t they say so in plain terms? The matter of time will not disturb us; that is for the Government of the day to determine. We never had any objections to Ireland’s bill being read first, but if passed without safeguards being given to Scotland, in the present temper of the leaders, Scotland will never see Home Rule. When Ireland gets her own Parliament you lose the vote of the Irish members, even if retained in the Imperial Parliament, for Scotland never entered into a Treaty of Union with Ireland. It was nearly a hundred years after before Ireland joined Britain; and once in possession of a Parliament of her own, the right of Ireland to vote on a question between England and Scotland would lapse. It is clear, then, that Scotland’s only safety lies in refusing her consent to any partial settlement of this grave constitutional change that does not safeguard her national independence. Some ignorantly suppose this can’t be done in one comprehensive measure, and say what would suit Ireland would not suit Scotland. This confusion of ideas springs from mistaking the measures passed by an assembly with the form of such assembly. All constitutional governments are very much alike in the machinery of Parliament; but the bills passed by each Assembly are adapted to the wants of each nation. Let us suppose that four separate bills are needed for the United Kingdom, and that Ireland’s is to be passed first. No one will object to that, provided it does not come into force until the other bills are passed. For Scotsmen to consent to any other settlement of the question would be to betray their country, and be an act of wilful stupidity. – I am, &c.


– The Scotsman, Friday 4th April, 1890.

– Treaty of Union Articles, Collection of Charles Waddie AKA Thistledown.