11th of April

St Leo the great, Pope, 461. St Antipas, martyr. St Maccai, abbot, 5th century (?). St Aid, abbot in Ireland.

 

Born. – David Hamilton, architect, 1768, Glasgow; Marshal Lannes, Duke of Montebello, 1769, Lectoure
Died. – Gaston de Foix, French warrior, 1512, Ravenna; Pope Gregory XIII., 1585; Stanislaus Poniatowski, last king of Poland, 1798, St Petersburg; John Galt, novelist and miscellaneous writer, 1839.

 

On this Day in Other Sources.

 

Apr. 11 [1574]. – A strange tragedy took place at the cross of Edinburgh. Robert Drummond, sometimes called Doctor Handie, who had been a great seeker and apprehender of papists, had been punished for adultery by exposure in the church and banishment from the city. Out of favour on account of his services against popery, he was pardoned and brought back; but being again found guilty of the same offence, he was condemned to exposure in the stocks at the cross, along with the companion of his crime; after which he was to be burnt in the cheek. While undergoing this punishment, ‘there being great science (?) of people about them, and the Doctor Handie being in ane great furie, said: “What wonder ye? I sall give you more occasion to wonder.” So, suddenly, he took his awn knife, wha strake himself three or four times fornent the heart, with whilk he departit. This done, the magistrates causit harl him in ane cart through the town, and the bloody knife borne behind in his hand; and on the morn harlit in the same manner to the gallows on the Burgh-muir, where he was buried.’ – D. O

– Domestic Annals, pp.56-80.

 

Tidings of William’s landing filled the Scottish Presbyterians with the wildest joy, and the magistrates of Edinburgh, who but two years before had been extravagant in their protestations to James VII., were among the first to welcome the invader; and the city filled fast with bands of jubilant revolutionists, rendering it unsafe for all of cavalier tenets to be within the walls. On the 11th of April, 1688, William and Mary were proclaimed at the cross king and queen of Scotland, after an illegally constituted Convention of the Estates, which was attended by only thirty representatives, declared that King James had forfeited all title to the crown, thus making a vacancy. 

Old and New Edinburgh, pp.47-66.

 

Apr. 11 [1693]. – A great number of the smaller lairds of Fife were Jacobite; among the rest, David Boswell of Balmouto. On the other hand, the Earl of Leven, one of the nobility of the county, stood high in office under the Revolution government. Besides a general quarrel with the earl on this ground, Balmouto had probably some private cause of offence to exasperate him; but on this point we only have conjecture. 

At the date noted, there was a horse-race at the county town, Cupar; and both gentlemen attended. It is alleged that Balmouto first waited near a house in the town where the earl was, in expectation of his coming forth, but afterwards went away to the race-ground. There, as the earl was quietly riding about, Balmouto came up to him behind his back, and struck him twice or thrice over the head and shoulders with a baton. On his lordship turning to defend himself, the assailant struck the horse on the face and caused it to rear dangerously. Balmouto then fired a pistol at the earl without effect, and was immediately seized by the bystanders, and prevented from doing further mischief. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.342-354.

 

   … The restrictive clauses of this bill, which seemed to savour of intimidation, offended the national pride of the Scots, and tended to alienate the minds of many from the proposed union. Unfortunately at this juncture an incident occurred which served to exasperate the mutual jealousies and animosities of both kingdoms. This was the gibbeting, by an infuriated mob whom the authorities had yielded to, of Captain Green and two of the crew of the Worcester, who were hung within high water-mark at Leith, on suspicion of having murdered the captain and crew of the Speedy Return on her voyage to the East Indies, in the service of the Darien Company. ‘There was,’ says Dr. Taylor, in his ‘History of Scotland,’ ‘afterwards good reason to believe that Captain Drummond, the man whom they had been accused of murdering, was still alive in India, after the fate of Green and his two unfortunate comrades was sealed.’ The rest of the crew of the Worcester, after being detained in prison, from the 11th of April, 1705, until the autumn of that year, were unconditionally set at liberty by the Privy Council, who considered the evidence on which they were convicted defective. 

   When these vents became known in England the indignation of the populace was raised to the highest pitch; and numerous handbills, tracts, and pamphlets, many of which are still preserved, helped to fan the flame of national resentment. Every enlightened patriot in both kingdoms deplored these animosities, which they regarded as but too probably a prelude to international hostilities; and Government, warned by the presages of the coming storm, now began to look upon an incorporating union as the only haven of safety for the vessel of the State. With a view to accomplish this desirable object. some changes were made in the Scottish administration. Tweeddale was again nominally placed at its head; but the Duke of Argyll, a young nobleman of great promise, was appointed Commissioner to open the next session of Parliament, with instructions to labour for the establishment of the same Protestant succession as in England, or, failing in that attempt, to endeavour to procure an Act for a treaty of union…

– Treaty of Union Articles, Factions Responsible for the Incorporating Union.

 

“THE SCOTTISH REGISTRATION GRIEVANCE.

   … The Government assured the country that the principles of justice and freedom, and protection to the weak and helpless against the aggressions of the strong, were the high motives which induced them to enter upon open hostilities with an opponent so powerful; and that the course to be pursued by them as the friends of the rights of nations appeared clear for the attainment of the laudable objects contemplated. The people of this country, in a season of comparative dearth, and in some respects of depression of trade and commerce, ungrudgingly poured forth of their resources into the public treasury for the purpose of protecting and preserving the rights of a nation whose interests were dear to them in little else than that freedom and justice were alike the inalienable birthright of nations and individuals. To the part the Scottish people have acted in this as in all former enterprises of the federal Government for a century and a-half, are they not entitled, as an integral part of the United Kingdom, to share equally in the privileges and powers which are enjoyed by those with whom they have stood on an equivalent footing in sacrifice, and which they can claim in virtue of our stipulated rights guaranteed by the Treaty of Union? If the combatants of one of the three portions of the kingdom have borne more than a due proportion of hardship in the late campaign, or sustained more appalling sacrifice of life than the others, these combatants belonged to Scotland! If any one portion has paid more dearly for the maintenance of the struggle than another, that portion is Scotland! Ought she then to be compelled still to occupy an inferior position in the administration of her own affairs? How is it that, as a people, we are subjected to certain taxing impositions, from which our neighbours south of the Tweed are exempted, and deprived from many lucrative grants from Government which they enjoy? We are not a conquered people, bound over to pay an annual tribute to an Imperial Government. Our protection is not more expensive than that of England or Ireland in proportion; and our demands upon the national exchequer for the regulation of our internal affairs are fewer and less exorbitant than theirs are. In these circumstances, it is, we confess, rather aggravating and unjust that we should be made a plaything in the hands of a stronger brother of the national family, and made to do service to one with whom we have entered upon mutual relationships to share in everything upon equal terms. It is to be hoped that the mental excitements and mutual sympathies occasioned by the activities of the war, and the lessons which its disclosures have afforded, will instinctively transfer the latent dissatisfaction of the people of Scotland into an earnest and irrepressible demand for the acquisition of all their national rights and privileges. Never was there a more favourable opportunity presented, and never were the people of this country in a better position for demanding equal rights and the concession of all reasonable reforms. If this opportunity be allowed to pass, and the grievances exposed by the war permitted to fall back into oblivion, our country may quietly repose during another forty years of peace under a burden of galling and indefensible hardships. 

   … Dr. BEGG’s lucid and practical letters, addressed to the people of Scotland, are fitted to concentrate public attention on two important subjects connected with the northern portion of her MAJESTY’s dominions, which specially exhibit the inequalities which subsist betwixt our laws and those of the sister kingdom. The first anomaly to which he refers is the present system of franchise registration in Scotland, which occasions to the various constituencies serious expense and inconvenience, from which out English neighbours are exempted. Every voter in Scotland, besides having the legal qualification of a ten-pound rent, must repair to whatever distance, in person or by deputy, to a registration clerk, and lodge his claim, with documentary evidence of right, at the same time paying half-a-crown; and then he must attend a registration court in like manner to substantiate and defend his claim before he can possibly be placed on the register of voters for the burgh or county, or exercise the distinguished franchise privilege. No matter how wealthy he may be, or how indisputable his right, the vexatious routine must be observed, and the tax paid, else he remains disqualified for a year. Moreover, this must be repeated each time he changes his residence, which is an event of frequent occurrence with many in our large towns. In England, on the contrary, the names of the voters in every parish and township are obtained by reference to the tax-collector’s books, and are annually prepared and published, without trouble or expense to the electors themselves; and the satisfactory result is, that when an election takes place, few are found to have withheld their votes – a result which forms a striking contrast to the bare half of the ten-pound voters in Scotland who are theoretically qualified to give their votes. 

   The other matter to which Dr. BEGG directs attention is the want of a franchise in Scotland similar to the English forty shilling freehold. This anomaly has been loudly complained of in all recent schemes of reform, and we think justly. Dr. BEGG says this English franchise ‘has been a great encouragement to working men to expend their savings in the purchase of property, instead of the beer-shop, and it has served to preserve the spirit of British liberty in the rural districts.’ If so, why should not Scotland participate in the advantages of a measure so beneficial? If the men who possess property in England to the value of two pounds annually be worthy of the franchise, there is no possible reason why a man in similar circumstances in Scotland should not enjoy the same right. We hope that the hearty response which the inauguration of these suggestions of the reverend advocate of political reform has met in all quarters will not be allowed to slumber until the manifestly reasonable demands have been laid before Parliament, and the results, if not at first attained, at least decidedly fostered towards an ultimate realisation at no distant period.” 

– Montrose, Arbroath and Brechin Review; and Forfar and Kincardineshire Advertiser, Friday 11th April, 1856.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1850-1875.

 

   … If the great Lexicographer had been present when this clause was accepted by the Scottish Commissioners and Parliament, there would probably have been less exuberant confidence in the fairness of ‘the Parliament of Great Britain.’ Beer – ‘two penny’ as it was called – seems, at the time of the Union, to have been the favourite beverage of the Scottish common people. But the unfair duty on malt imposed by the British Parliament turned the attention of Scotsmen to the ‘barley-bree.’ Breweries decreased and distilleries increased, until, at the time of the Crimean War, whisky had become the national drink of Scotland. The duty on malt and spirits had up to this time been so differentiated in England and Scotland as to secure a practical equality between the two countries. The war requiring an additional revenue, the first increase of duty – in 1854 – was imposed on malt and spirits in similar proportions. Next year, 1855, the beer-swilling Englishman began to grumble, and from that date, the additional duties required were imposed on spirits alone, the additional duty which had been imposed on malt being struck off when the war ended. 

   And thus it could be said in 1878 that ‘of the production of the 58,543,252 quarters of malt consumed in England, Scotland, and Ireland in making porter, ale, and beer, were charged at the same rate as whisky, it would yield to the revenue upwards of £44,000,000, instead of £8,000,000.’ ‘Why,’ it was asked by Mr. Orr Ewing in the House of Commons, on 11th April, 1878, ‘should this be? Why should spirits or alcohol in the form of ale, porter, or beer pay only one-sixth of the duty that it would have done for the same amount of alcohol in the form whisky? It is said that beer is less injurious to the morality of the people, but I deny this, and I assert that any man who drinks malt liquor to excess would suffer more than the man who drank whisky to excess, and I think all will admit that there are no more industrious, powerful, and law-abiding people than the Scotch.’ 

   In 1885, Mr. Childers, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, proposed to increase the tax against the Scotch and Irish by imposing an additional duty of 1s. per gallon on spirits, leaving the beer of England untouched. He, of course, hoped to carry his Budget by the overwhelming English vote, but, fortunately, the Scotch and Irish members, on that occasion, stood together, and the Liberal Government was turned out…

– Treaty of Union Articles, Financial Cost to Scotland of the Union.

 

“ABERDEEN JURIDICAL SOCIETY.

—————

ADDRESS BY SHERIFF GUTHRIE SMITH.

—————

   Before a large audience, Sheriff Guthrie Smith delivered the closing address of the Aberdeen Juridical Society, in Marischal College, last night, on the subject of ‘Scotland and the National Government.” Mr Charles Ruxton, the president of the Association, occupied the chair, and was accompanied on the platform by Sheriff Dove Wilson, Mr John Robertson, advocate; Mr Alexander Yeats, Depute Town-Clerk; and Mr F. T. Garden, advocate.

   Sheriff Smith, who was received with loud applause, said (after making some preliminary remarks) – Our jurisprudence, founded on very solid foundations, has been built up by many generations of lawyers and judges, representing at every period of our legal history the best intellect of their day, but no one pretends that it is incapable of further amendment. In this respect I believe the legal profession in Scotland has never failed to meet the just expectations of the public. Not merely have they assisted in promoting; in many instances the merit has been theirs of originating and suggesting measures for the improvement of our institutions. Henceforth full scope will be afforded for continuing in this path of public usefulness now that the management of Scottish business is to be removed from the Home Secretary, and committed to the charge of a responsible Minister of our own… I believe it will be found that the closer attachment of its different dependencies to the British Crown can be effected in no practical way except by a completer detachment from the central administration of purely local affairs, which are always best managed by those who have the requisite knowledge and the chief interest in seeing that they are properly attended to. For all this, I conceive we in Scotland have much cause for thankfulness. It will certainly tend to conserve our institutions, and it encourages us to go on with measures for making them more efficient, without the uneasy feeling that thereby we may be playing into the hands of those who would be pleased to see them ended rather than mended. Not many years ago, in some official quarters this feeling certainly did prevail. Scotland seemed to be of no account in the eyes of the Ministry of the day. The Lord Advocate, who occupied by himself a separate office of his own, with an appearance at least of independence, was removed to the Home Office, within hearing of the Secretary of State’s bell, and everything specially distinctive of Scotland was in danger of being swept away. Happily, however, the mood did not last long. Ministerial indifference, Parliamentary neglect, and official ignorance evoked a display of public feeling which has led to the settlement of the question of Scotch Administration by the reappointment of a Scottish Secretary with a power and authority which, if wisely used, cannot fail to be of great advantage to the country. The revival of this office recalls the circumstances under which the Treaty of Union was accomplished, and suggests the question which has often been put by despairing politicians – How the union with England has produced such opposite results in Ireland and Scotland? Having alluded to the well-known results in Ireland, and explained their causes, he went on to say – In Scotland, on the other hand, our condition at the time of the Union was altogether different. We had our own independent system of laws. Our king had become the English king, but for his Government in London we had small regard. We had an independent Legislature which had always faithfully reflected the spirit of the country. Between the two nations there was no real sympathy, and now that the desire was rising to found colonies and establish a foreign trade, England seemed less disposed than ever to promote or even to permit any schemes to be carried out which were likely to be to the advantage of this country. Accordingly, when the Darien scheme was started, the English merchants rose against it, and threw every possible obstacle in the way of its accomplishment. Probably, like many another sound enterprises, it was before its time, but we now can appreciate what immense advantages it would have conferred, both on these islands and the continent of America, if it had been allowed to succeed. It failed miserably, solely through the jealous opposition of the English, who were determined that the Scotch should have no lot or part with them, either in founding new settlements or in engaging in foreign commerce. Ultimately our richer and more powerful neighbour, possessing the ear of the Government in London, succeeded in their opposition, and the ruin of the Darien scheme, and practically, also, the ruin of the whole country, was complete. It was in these circumstances that, at the beginning of the century, the question of Union came to be discussed, the English scheming to get rid of their northern neighbour with its troublesome Parliament, and the Scotch prepared to sacrifice something of their independence in order to extend their trade, but never contemplating anything beyond a federal union. The prevailing feeling in the country may be gathered from the speech delivered by Mr John Spottiswoode at a meeting of the freeholders of Berwickshire, convened to choose a commissioner to represent them in the Parliament appointed to be held on 12th November 1702. ‘We cannot,’ he says, ‘fancy a more deplorable state than ours has been since King James the Sixth came to the throne of England. Our nation has been despised, our interests neglected both at home and abroad – our princes and statesmen under the influence of the English, who make us partake with them of the calamities of war, but we enjoy none of the conquests, and when peace is made we are not so much as named; so that the benefit of the treaties and leagues of commerce which we had before the year 1603 are lost, and we are more enthralled by the English than if we were conquered by them.’ He proceeds to indicate a wish for a union, ‘for as we are united in the head, we should likewise be united in the body;’ but ‘if that cannot be obtained without derogation to the dignity of this crown and country, it is necessary that measure be laid down for their entire disjunction after Her Majesty’s decease without issue.’ This idea, which was very generally entertained throughout Scotland at the time, was a masterly stroke of policy, and in the result secured for Scotland a union with England on terms far more favourable than would otherwise have been obtained. Having briefly delineated the events leading up to the passing of the English ‘Act of Settlement,’ the passing by the Scotch Parliament of the Act of Security, the subsequent passing of a counter Act by the English Parliament, and then the framing of the Treaty of Union. Sheriff Smith spoke of the rage and indignation of the people when the terms of the Treaty of Union came to be known, and referred to the petitions sent up by almost every town and parish to parliament protesting against the ratification of the proposed union. Nor was it, he added, difficult to show its apparent unfairness. In 1706, Scotland had a population of two millions, while that of England was really not six millions, and therefore of the 513 members which sat in the English House of Commons, we should have been allowed one-third, or about 170, instead of which it was proposed to give us only 30, a number increased at a later stage of the negotiations to 45. As regards the House of Lords, with its 500 English Peers, Scotland was to be allowed to send only 16. The hollowness of the argument that the treaty could not be legally violated was soon proved by events. By the Act of Union, the Scottish Privy Council had been left in existence as a necessary part of our separate Government. But in 1708 it was abolished by an Act ‘for rendering the union of the two kingdoms more complete,’ through the creation of one Privy Council for Great Britain. In 1713 the malt tax, which was first established in England in 1697, was extended to Scotland in the direct teeth of an Article of Union expressly prohibiting it. We still retained our Secretary of State for some years after the Union, but the Duke of Roxburgh, who then held the office, was dismissed, and Walpole sent down to Scotland Lord Islay, a brother of the Duke of Argyle, with general instructions to suppress the opposition to the measures of the English Cabinet. In a letter to Lord Islay Walpole discloses what was the intention of the Government with respect to the management of Scottish affairs. ‘It may not be improper,’ he says, ‘to acquaint you that the scheme is to put an end to the office of Scotch Secretary,’ and accordingly, although it was revived for a time in the person of Lord Selkirk in the year 1731, the office finally disappeared in 1746 with the resignation of Lord Tweeddale along with the rest of the Granville Cabinet. When the Pelham Ministry was formed it appears at one time to have been intended to appoint Duke of Argyle as Secretary; but the Duke of Cumberland, who since his successful suppression of the rebellion on the field of Culloden was allowed an authority in Scottish affairs out of all proportion to his abilities, and for which the disturbed state of the Highlands was the only excuse, gave his voice against it. The affairs of Scotland thus devolved upon the English Secretary of State for the Home Department, and naturally he took as his advisers the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor-General, and sometimes also the Lord Justice-Clerk. Then began with the rise of Henry Dundas, in 1766, the long reign of that family known as the Dundas Dynasty. he proved a very powerful Minister, and naturally attracted to his office of Lord Advocate many duties which were quite outside his proper official functions. The arrangement has so continued to this day; but it cannot be said that it has ever given satisfaction to the country, and no system can be satisfactory which makes the Lord Advocate a mere negotiorum gestor, obliged to take up official business which does not properly belong to him for no better reason than that the office of Secretary has for a century been allowed to remain vacant. The subject has been frequently mentioned in Parliament since the year 1855, and the revival and reappointment of a Scottish Minister, which is now in contemplation, may be described as one of those subjects on which men of all political parties are agreed… A deep love of Scotland, ‘our auld respectit mither,’ and of the memories ad associations which cluster round it, has come to be an important element in the formation of our national character. It is something more than a mere empty sentiment. To fully appreciate its force and value we have to go abroad and observe how much it influences Scotsmen in a new country, producing that marvellous capacity for getting on which makes them welcomed wherever they may go. In Australia and New Zealand, in Canada and the United States we find our countrymen occupying the foremost places, with apparently a special genius for all business connected with the handling of money. It is this fact, more than any feeling of the pride of race, which makes the preservation of our separate nationality a distinct gain to the rest of the Empire as well as to ourselves. As a shrewd American once observed to me when on a bright September day we sat on one of the slopes of the Rocky Mountains, surveying the splendid scene before us, and discussing the future of the Great Republic – the fact of a man’s being born and educated in Scotland was worth to him many thousand silver dollars, because everywhere is his nationality accepted as the proof and symbol of the qualities which command success. The restoration of a separate administration is therefore to be prized, because it secures to us for the future the Scotland of the past.” 

– Aberdeen Free Press, Saturday 11th April, 1885.

– Treaty of Union Articles, Short History of Events Surrounding the Treaty of Union.

 

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