9th of April

Roman captives, martyrs in Persia, 362. St Mary of Egypt, 5th century. Massylitan martyrs in Africa. St Eupsychius, martyr. St Dotto, abbot in Orkney, 6th century. St Waltrude, 686. St Gautier, abbot in Limousin, 1130.

Born. – Fisher Ames, American statesman, President of Harvard College, 1758, Dedham, Massachusetts
Died. – Constantine II., Roman emperor, assassinated, 340; Zenon, Emperor of the East, 491; Pope Constantine, 715; Gabrielle d’Estrées (‘La Belle Gabrielle’), 1599; Simon, Lord Lovat, beheaded, 1747; Christian Wolf, philosophical writer, 1754, Halle; Jacques Necker, French financial minister (1788), 1804, Geneva.

On this Day in Other Sources.

James I. returned to Scotland on the 9th April, 1424,1 and was murdered in 1436.2

– Scots Lore, pp.341-364.

1 Ex. Rolls, iv. pref. lxxxvi.  
2 Ibid. iv. pref. clxxii.

On the 9th of April [1567], the Earl of Murray, with the Queen’s leave, set out for France; as he could not remain any longer, in Scotland, with propriety; considering his engagements, with the conspirators

– Life of Mary, pp.151-155.

On the 9th of April [1567], having obtained the Queen’s permission, Murray set out, from Edinburgh to France; taking his journey through England. Abroad, he seems to have had no business; but, at home, he had much business, critical, as the moment was; and speedily as the Parliament was to meet. 

– Life of Mary, pp.155-184.

From the epoch of all those conspiracies, at Michaelmas 1566, Murray was intimately acquainted with the various plots; as the chief advantage of them was to result to him. When he set out, for France, on the 9th of April [1567], he was perfectly aware of what was in contemplation. From the moment, that Morton, and other guilty nobles, drew their swords, at Stirling, for dethroning the Queen, and crowning her infant son, Murray’s elevation was the great end; and the conspirators, constantly informed him of their progress; solicited his return; and refused, to act with Thorkmorton, as ambassador, till Murray’s arrival. His influence, and his energy, in Scotland, were sufficiently known, in France. He was even induced to swear to the King of France, and to the Queen’s uncles, that he would set the Queen, at liberty, on his return, and restore her to her dignity. 

– Life of Mary, pp.184-206.

April 9, 1574. – ‘Alexander Curry and Marion Smith, spouses, are found in the wrang for troublance done by them to Margaret Hunter, in casting down of two pair of sheets, tamping them in the gutter, and striking of the said Margaret.’ Surety is given that Alexander and Marion shall in future abstain from striking each other; and ‘gif they flyte, to be brankit‘ – that is, invested with the king of iron bridle, with a tongue retroverted into the mouth, of which a description has already been given. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.56-80.

Major Weir, “after a life characterised externally by all the graces of devotion, but polluted in secret by crimes of the most revolting nature, and which little needed the addition of wizardry to excite the horror of living men, fell into a severe sickness, which affected his mind so much that he made open and voluntary confession of all his wickedness.”  

According to Professor Sinclair, the major had made a compact with the devil, who of course outwitted his victim. The fiend had promised, it was said, to keep him scatheless from all peril, but a single “burn;” hence the accidental naming of a man named Burn, by the sentinels at the Nether Bow Port, when he visited them as commander of the Guard, cast him into a fit of terror; and on another occasion, finding Libberton Burn before him, was sufficient to make him turn back trembling.  

His sick-bed confession, when he was now verging on his seventieth year, seemed at first so incredible that Sir Andrew Ramsay of Abbotshall, who was Lord Provost from 1662 to 1673, refused for a time to order his arrest. Eventually, however, the major, his sister (the partner of one of his crimes), and the black magical staff, were all taken into custody and lodged in the Tolbooth.  

The staff was secured by the express request of his sister, and local superstition still records how it was wont to perform all the major’s errands for any article he wanted from the neighbouring shops; that it answered the door when “the pin was tirled,” and preceded him in the capacity of a link-boy at night in the Lawnmarket. In his house several sums of money in dollars were found wrapped up in pieces of cloth. A fragment of the latter, on being thrown on the fire by the bailie in charge, went up the wide chimney with an explosion like a cannon, while the dollars, when the magistrate took them home, flew about in such a fashion that the demolition of his house seemed imminent.  

While in prison he confessed, without scruple, that he had been guilty of crimes alike possible and impossible. Stung to madness my conscience, the unfortunate wretch seemed to feel some comfort in sharing his misdeeds with the devil, yet he refused to address himself to Heaven for pardon. To all who urged him to pray, he answered by wild screams. “Torment me no more – I am tortured enough already!” was his constant cry; and he declined to see a clergyman of any creed, saying, according to “Law’s Memorials,” that “his condemnation was sealed; and since he was to go to the devil, he did not wish to anger him!” 

When asked by the minister of Ormiston if he had ever seen the devil, he answered, “that any fealling he ever hade of him was in the dark.”  

He and his sister were tried on the 9th of April, 1670, before the Justiciary Court; he was sentenced to be strangled and burned [the usual punishment for witchcraft in Scotland], between Edinburgh and Leith, and his sister Grizel (called Jean by some), to be hanged in the Grassmarket. 

When his neck was encircled by the fatal rope at the place of execution, and the fire that was to consume his body – the “burn” to which, as the people said the devil had lured him – he was bid to say, “Lord, be merciful to me!” But he only replied fiercely and mournfully, “Let me alone – I will not; I have lived as a beast and must die like a beast.” When his lifeless body fell from the stake into the flaming pyre beneath, his favourite stick, which (according to Ravaillac Redivivus) “was all of one piece of thornwood, with a crooked head,” and without the aid of which he could perform nothing, was cast in also, and it was remarked by the spectators that it gave extraordinary twistings and writhings, and was as long in burning as the major himself. 

Old and New Edinburgh, pp.309-315.

According to the Courant of April 9th, 1724, the denizens of the High Street, and other greater thoroughfares, were startled by “a bank” of drums, beating up for recruits for the King of Prussia’s gigantic regiment of Grenadiers. Two guineas as bounty were offered, and many tall fellows were enlisted. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.198-203.

Lady Eleanor was happier as Countess of Stair than she had ever been as Viscountess Primrose; but the Earl had one failing – a common one enough among gentlemen in those days – a disposition to indulge in the bottle, and then his temper was by no means improved; thus, on coming home he more than once treated the Countess with violence. Once – we regret to record it of so heroic a soldier – when transported beyond the bounds of reason, he gave her a blow on the face with such severity as to draw blood; and then, all unconscious of what he had done, fell asleep. Poor Lady Stair, overwhelmed by such an insult, and recalling perhaps much that she had endured with Lord Primrose, made no attempt to bind up the wound, but threw herself on the sofa, and wept and bled till morning dawned. When the Earl awoke, her bloody and dishevelled aspect filled him with horror and dismay. “What has happened? How came you to be thus?” He exclaimed. She told him of his conduct over-night, which filled him with shame – such shame and compunction, that he made a vow never again to take any species of drink, unless it had first passed through her hands; and this vow he kept religiously till the day of his death, which took place on the 9th April, 1747, at Queensberry House in the Canongate, when he was in his seventy-fifth year. 

Old and New Edinburgh, pp.102-111.

An Act to reduce the Allowance on Spirits made from Malt only in Scotland and Ireland. 

[9th April 1832.]

– Acts Relating to Scotland, William IV., Chapter XXIX.






   … Not many days ago the House voted 1,750,000l. for barracks, but not a single farthing of that sum was allocated to Scotland. The hon. member concluded by moving ‘that, in the opinion of this House, the practice of billeting soldiers of the militia and of the line in Scotland upon private families is injurious to the comfort and discipline of the men, as well as oppressive to the people; and that it is the duty of the Government to take means permanently to abolish the grievance.’

   Mr. JOHN McGREGOR regretted that any allusion should have been made to the Treaty of Union of Scotland with England. Since that period two rebellions had occurred in Scotland, but the memory of which the loyalty of the people had subsequently effaced. During, however, such a period it became necessary to adopt a different system in Scotland from that which prevailed in England and Ireland. But at the present time nothing was more obnoxious to the people of Scotland than the billeting system in that country. Although he could not expect the system to be immediately altered, yet he did hope that it would be ultimately changed, and assimilated to that which was pursued in England and Ireland. 

   Mr. Ellice (Coventry) was aware that this system of billeting was felt to be a great grievance by the people of Scotland; but he begged the House to consider how any attempt to remedy it in the way in which his hon. friend below him had suggested would be perceived by the public in England, and especially how it would press upon the public purse of the united kingdom…” 

– Evening Mail, Wednesday 9th April, 1856.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1850-1875.

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