12th of April – Easter Sunday (2020)

St Victor, of Braga, martyr. St Julius, Pope, 352. St Sabas, the Goth, martyr, 372. St Zeno, bishop of Verona, 380.


Born. – Henry Clay, American statesman, 1777.
Died. – Seneca, Roman philosopher, ordered to death by Nero, 65, Rome; Jacques-Benique Bossuet, Bishop of Cordan,, orator, philosopher, and historian, 1704, Meaux; Dr George Cheyne, eminent physician, 1742, Bath; Pietro Metastasio, Italian poet, 1782, Vienna.



Dr George Cheyne, a physician of considerable eminence in his day, was born in Aberdeenshire, and educated at Edinburgh under the celebrated Doctor Pitcairne. After a youth passed in severe study and prudent abstinence, Cheyne came to London, with the determination of entering on practice. On his first arrival, being a stranger, and having to make friends, he was compelled to conform to the general style of life, which was to be described as free. The consequence of the sudden change from abstemiousness to epicurean indulgence, was, that Cheyne increased daily in bulk, swelling to such an enormous size, that he weighed no less than thirty-two stones; and was compelled to have the whole side of his carriage made open to receive him. With this increase of size came its natural concomitants, shortness of breath, habitual lethargy, and a crowd of nervous and scorbutic symptoms. In this deplorable condition, having vainly exhausted the powers of medicine, he determined to try a milk and vegetable diet, the good effects of which speedily appeared. His size was reduced almost to a third; and he recovered his strength, activity, and cheerfulness, with the perfect use of all his faculties. And by a regular adherence to a milk and vegetable regime, he lived to a good age, dying at Bath in his seventy-second year. He wrote several works that were well received by the medical and scientific world, two of which – An Essay on Health and Long Life, and The English Malady, or a Treatise of Nervous Diseases, – contained the results of his own experience, and, as may be supposed, met with considerable ridicule from the free-living doctors and critics of the day. On the publication of the first work, Winter, a well-known physician of the period, addressed the following epigram to Cheyne:

‘Tell me from whom, fat-headed Scot, 
 Thou didst thy system learn; 
From Hippocrate thou hadst it not, 
 Nor Celsus, nor Pitcairne.


Suppose we own that milk is good, 
 And say the same of grass; 
The one for babes is only food, 
 The other for an ass.


Doctor! one new prescription try, 
 (A friend’s advice forgive;) 
Eat grass, reduce thyself, and die, 
 Thy patients then may live.’ 

To which Cheyne made the following reply:

‘My system, doctor, is my own, 
 No tutor I pretend; 
My blunders hurt myself alone, 
 But yours your dearest friend.


Were you to milk and straw confined, 
 Thrice happy might you be; 
Perhaps you might regain your mind, 
 And from your wit get free.


I can’t your kind prescription try, 
 But heartily forgive; 
‘Tis natural you should wish me die, 
 That you yourself may live.’



Easter, the anniversary of our Lord’s resurrection from the dead, is one of the three great festivals of the Christian year, – the other two being Christmas and Whitsuntide. From the earliest period of Christianity down to the present day, it has always been celebrated by believers with the greatest joy, and accounted the Queen of Festivals. In primitive times it was usual for Christians to salute each other on the morning of this day by exclaiming, ‘Christ is risen;’ to which the person saluted replied, ‘Christ is risen indeed,’ or else, ‘And hath appeared unto Simon;’ – a custom still retained in the Greek Church.

The common name of this festival in the East was the Paschal Feast, because kept at the same time as the Pascha, or Jewish passover, and in some measure succeeding to it. In the sixth of the Ancyran Canons it is called the Great Day. Our own name Easter is derived, as some suppose, from Eostre, the name of a Saxon deity, whose feast was celebrated every year in the spring, about the same time as the Christian festival – the name being retained when the character of the feast was changed; or, as others suppose, from Oster, which signifies rising. If the latter supposition be correct, Easter is in name, as well as reality, the feast of the resurrection.

Though there has never been any difference of opinion in the Christian church as to why Easter is kept, there has been a good deal as to when it ought to be kept. It is one of the moveable feasts; that is, it is not fixed to one particular day – like Christmas Day, e.g., which is always kept on the 25th of December – but moves backwards or forwards according as the full moon next after the vernal equinox falls nearer or further from the equinox. The rule given at the beginning of the Prayer-book to find Easter is this: ‘Easter-day is always the first Sunday after the full moon which happens upon or next after the twenty-first day of March; and if the full moon happens upon a Sunday, Easter-day is the Sunday after.’

The paschal controversy, which for a tie divided Christendom, grew out of a diversity of custom. The churches of Asia Minor, among whom were many Judaizing Christians, kept their paschal feast on the same day as the Jews kept their passover; i.e. on the 14th of Nisan, the Jewish month corresponding to our March or April. But the churches of the West, remembering that our Lord’s resurrection took place on the Sunday, kept their festival on the Sunday following the 14th of Nisan. By this means they hoped not only to commemorate the resurrection on the say on which it actually occurred, but also to distinguish themselves more effectually from the Jews. For a time this difference was borne with mutual forbearance and charity. And when disputes began to arise, we find that Polycarp, the venerable bishop of Smyrna, when on a visit to Rome, took the opportunity of conferring with Anicetas, bishop of that city, upon the question. Polycarp pleaded the practice of St Philip and St John, with the latter of whom he had lived, conversed, and joined in its celebration; while Anicetas adduced the practice of St Peter and St Paul. Concession came from neither side, and so the matter dropped; but the two bishops continued in Christian friendship and concord. This was about A.D. 158.

Towards the end of the century, however, Victor, bishop of Rome, resolved on compelling the Eastern churches to conform to the Western practice, and wrote an imperious letter to the prelates of Asia, commanding them to keep the festival of Easter at the time observed by the Western churches. They very naturally resented such an interference, and declared their resolution to keep Easter at the time they had been accustomed to do. The dispute henceforward gathered strength, and was the source of much bitterness during the next century. The East was divided from the West, and all who, after the example of the Asiatics, kept Easter-day on the 14th, whether that day were Sunday or not, were styled Quartodecimans by those who adopted the Roman custom.


One cause of this strife was the imperfection of the Jewish calendar. The ordinary year of the Jews consisted of 12 lunar months of 291/2 days each, or of 29 and 30 days alternately; that is, of 354 days. To make up the 11 days’ deficiency, they intercalated a thirteenth month of 30 days every third year. But even then they would be in advance of the true time without other intercalations; so that they often kept their passover before the vernal equinox. But the Western Christians considered the vernal equinox the commencement of the natural year, and objected to a mode of reckoning which might sometimes cause them to hold their paschal feast twice in one year and omit it altogether the next. To obviate this, the fifth of the apostolic canons decreed that, ‘If any bishop, priest, or deacon, celebrated the Holy Feast of Easter before the vernal equinox, as the Jews do, let him be deposed.’

At the beginning of the fourth century, matters had gone to such a length, that the Emperor Constantine thought it his duty to take steps to allay the controversy, and to insure uniformity of practice for the future. For this purpose, he got a canon passed in the great Œcumenical Council of Nice (A.D. 325), ‘That everywhere the great feast of Easter should be observed upon one and the same day; and that not the day of the Jewish passover, but, as had been generally observed, upon the Sunday afterwards. And to prevent all future disputes as to the time, the following rules were also laid down:

  1. ‘That the twenty-first day of March shall be accounted the vernal equinox.’
  2. ‘That the full moon happening upon or next after the twenty-first of March, shall be taken for the full moon of Nisan.’
  3. ‘That the Lord’s-day next following that full moon be Easter-day.’
  4. ‘But if the full moon happen upon a Sunday, Easter-day shall be the Sunday after.’

On Easter-day depend all the moveable feasts and fasts throughout the year. The nine Sundays before, and the eight following after, are all dependent upon it, and form, as it were, a bodyguard to this Queen of Festivals. The nine preceding are the six Sundays in Lent, Quinquagesima, Sexagesima, and Septuagesima; the eight following are the five Sundays after Easter, the Sunday after Ascension Day, Whit Sunday, and Trinity Sunday.


Easter in Other Sources.


RODERICK MORISON, commonly called “An Clarsair dall,” the Blind Harper, a native of Lewis, was born in the year 1646, and died at an advanced age. His Gaelic is altogether free from English words and idioms, but is less ancient in structure than that of Mackay, the blind piper. Drinking is mentioned, but the kind of drink is not named. The word stóp, stoup, occurs. The following terms relating to the Christian religion are found:- La Caisge, Easter Day; “Seachduin na Ceusda,” the week of the Crucifixion; “Dhireadh aCharbhais,” the end of Lent; and these mark the existence of Catholicism.

– Popular Tales, Volume 4, pp.180-197.


Birch branches, primroses, and other flowers, were placed upon the dresser, tar was put upon the cattle, snails were put upon a table under a dish, and were expected to write the first letter of a lover’s name, holes were dug in the ground and fortunes foretold from the kind of animals which were found in them. People used to get up early on the morning of Easter Sunday and go to the tops of hills before sunrise, in the full belief that they would “see the sun take three leaps, and whirl round like a mill wheel” for joy, which seems to be a mixture of Paganism and Christianity. the ram, the hawk, the lion of Manus, and all that tribe of mythological beings may be derived from astronomical symbols, and those of Egypt and the far East may perhaps explain those on the sculptured stones of Scotland.

– Popular Tales, Volume 4, pp.286-299.


It is common in the Highlands now to speak of the “wheel” of the sun, and it was the custom not long ago to ascend some high hill on Easter Sunday to see the sun rise, and “whirl round like a mill wheel, and give three leaps.” But a peasant of a practical turn of mind rebuked a friend, saying –

“Fool! And dost thou think to see the sun rise from these, when she rises beyond Edinburgh, and so many hills as there are in the way?”

– Popular Tales, Volume 4, pp.348-369.


The burgh [St. Andrews] owes its origin to a college of Culdees early founded here. In the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth centuries, the city attained its highest point of wealth and commercial importance. During this period a yearly fair or great market – called the Senzie market, commencing in the second week of Easter, and continuing for fifteen days – was held within the quadrangle of the Priory, to which resorted merchants from most of the trading kingdoms of Europe, and, on some occasions, from 200 to 300 vessels have entered the harbour. The destruction of the religious houses, and the general want of security to property arising from civil commotion, reduced St. Andrews from its high estate.

– Scotland Illustrated, pp.2-4.


The Queen had, a small establishment of singers. Melvill informs us, that the Queen had three valets of her chamber, who sung three parts, and wanted a bass, to sing the fourth part: And Rizzio being recommended to the Queen, as a person fit to make the fourth, in concert, was drawn in, sometimes, to sing with the other valets. Before the reformation, organs were the common instruments of music, in churches. In 1559 and 1560, the organs were, generally, destroyed as profane. Those in the chapel royal, within Stirling castle, were saved; as the mob could not reach them, with their polluted hands. A pair of organs, which had been recently purchased, for the chapel of Holyrood-house, were saved, by the master of works. In December 1562, Randolph intimated to Cecil, that one of the Queen’s priests had been assaulted, in a dark night: and, he added, that her musicians, both Scots, and French, refused to play, and sing, at her mass, and evensong, upon Christmas-day: thus, continued he, is her poor soul so troubled, for the preservation of her silly mass, that she knoweth not, where to turn herself, for defence of it. In April 1565, the Queen spent her Easter, at Stirling: and, besides the organs, she had a band of music, which gave offence to those, who were, as silly as Randolph, in being offended, at the Queen’s mode of worship, which was agreeable to ancient practice, and the established law. In April 1565, said Randolph to Cecil, your honour shall know for certain, that greater triumph, there was never, in any time of most popery, than was this Easter, at the resurrection, and at her high mass: organs were wont to be the common music; she wanted now, neither trumpet, drum, nor fife, bagpipe, nor tabor… The Queen acted, wisely, in tolerating her subjects, to worship the supreme Being, in their own way. But, the tolerated were those, who persecuted the Queen, because she worshipped God, with more ceremony, and more pomp, than their ignorance approved, or their uncharitableness could allow. We have lived to see some attempts made, to restore the organ to the church of Scotland, while musick of the highest order is admired, in the metropolis of that ancient kingdom.

– Life of Mary, pp.42-61.


The Queen kept her Easter, which happened on the 14th of April, in the castle. But, she had little solace, and less hilarity, with Darnley, whose conduct, in Rizzio’s assassination, she was completely acquainted with: And, as he had thus shewn, his own, and his father’s purpose, to have been, to seize her sceptre, it was not easy to remove her jealousy of his future conduct. He soon after rode to Stirling, with a dozen horse; meaning to have treated with Argyle, and Murray: But, the Queen sent Robert Melvill, to warn those nobles, not to deal with him; so that he was disappointed of his purpose, whatever it were. The Queen, soon after, recalled Murray, and Argyle, to court, when she endeavoured, to promote a general reconcilement among the nobles; as we have seen. But, the Queen never could be persuaded, that she was endeavouring to perform impossibilities: she could not be made to believe, even after Murray’s rebellion, and Murray’s conspiracy, with Darnley, Lennox, the whole officers of state, and many able, and vigorous characters, that he was capable of conspiring against her; that he had an overpowering faction; and that his ambition was, constantly, aiming at interests of his own, quite distinct from hers; and that he, invariably, courted Elizabeth, but never his sister: The influence of Murray over Mary, as it was not to be described, so can it only be compared to the singular influence of the rattlesnake over its prey: She could not resist it. The discords, between her, and her husband, created town-talk, at Edinburgh, and at London, during some months, as we learn, from Cecil’s correspondents. They became reconciled, about the middle of June: But, such a reconcilement, between such personages, could not be sincere, or of long endurance.

– Life of Mary, pp.127-136.


Previous to this nearly the whole, probably, of the Strathclyde Britons, as well as the entire nation of the Picts, had conformed to Rome, and there is evidence of Sedulius having been at Rome in 721. But the movement towards Rome was resisted by the Columban community till the year 717, when they were expelled from Iona. They were the last to disappear of the Celtic communities, and they were replaced by monks who adopted the canonical observance of Easter and the coronal mode of tonsure. The breaking up of the monastic church and the introduction of a secular clergy followed. Early in the ninth century the supremacy exercised from Iona came to an end. In Ireland it was transferred to Kells, and in Scotland to Dunkeld, but the supremacy of the Columban Church remained, and the Abbot of Dunkeld was placed at the head of the Pictish Church.

– Old Glasgow, pp.31-37.


About Easter this same year [1210], died at Cramond, in Midlothian, Richard, Bishop of Dunkeld, and was interred at the abbey of St. Columba’s, in the Isle of Inchcolm; and in June thereafter, was Sir Thomas [de] Colville apprehended [unjustly] at Edinburgh, and committed by the King to close prison for his rebellion.

– Historical Works, pp.19-38.


Robert Gourlay’s house passed from the possession of Sir Thomas Hope and Lord Aberuchill into that of Sir George Lockhart (the great legal and political rival of Sir George Mackenzie), Lord President of the Session in 1685, and doomed to fall a victim to private revenge. Chiesly of Dalry, an unsuccessful litigant, enraged at the president for assigning a small aliment of £93 out of his estate – a fine one south-westward of the city – to his wife, from whom we must suppose he was separated, swore to have vengeance. He was perhaps not quite sane; but anyway, he was a man of violent and ungovernable passions. Six months before the event we are about to relate he told Sir James Stewart, an advocate, when in London, that he was “determined to go to Scotland before Candlemas and kill the president!” “The very imagination of such a thing,” said Sir James, “is a sin before God.” “Leave God and me alone,” was the fierce response, “we have many things to reckon betwixt us, and we will reckon this too!” The Lord President was warned of his open threats, but unfortunately took no heed of them. On Easter Sunday, the 31st of March, 1689, the assassin loaded his pistols, and went to the choir of St. Giles’s church, from whence he dogged him home to the Old Bank Close, and though accompanied by Lord Castlehill and Mr. Daniel Lockhart, shot him in the back just as he was about to enter his house – the old one whose history we have traced. Lady Lockhart – aunt of the famous Duke of Wharton – was confined to her bed with illness, but sprang up on hearing the pistol-shot; and on learning what had occurred, rushed forth in her night-dress and assisted to convey in the victim, who was laid on two chairs, and instantly expired. The ball had passed out at the left breast. Chiesly was instantly seized. “I am not wont to do things by halves,” said he, grimly and boastfully; “and now I have taught the president how to do justice!” He was put to the torture to discover if he had any accomplices; and as he had been taken red hand, he was on Monday sentenced to death by Sir Magnus Price, Provost of the city, without much formality, according to Father Hay, and on a hurdle he was dragged to the Cross, where his right hand was struck off when alive; then he was hanged in chains at Drumsheugh, says another account; between the city and Leith at the Gallowlee, according to a third, with the pistol tied to his neck. His right hand was nailed on the West Port. The manor house of Dalry, latterly the property of Kirkpatrick, of Allisland, was after this alleged to be haunted, and no servant therein would venture, after dark, alone into the back kitchen, as a tradition existed that his body – which his relations had unchained and carried off, sword in hand, under cloud of night – was buried somewhere near that apartment. “On repairing the garden-wall at a later period,” says Dr. Wilson, “an old stone seat which stood in a recess of the wall had to be removed, and underneath was found a skeleton entire, except the bones of the right hand – without doubt the remains of the assassin, that had secretly been brought thither from the Gallowlee.” But Dr. Chambers also writes of a skeleton, found a century after, “when removing the hearth-stone of a cottage in Dalry Park, with the remains of a pistol near the situation of the neck. No doubt was entertained that these were the remains of Chiesly, huddled into this place of concealment, probably in the course of the night in which they had been abstracted from the gallows.” This pistol is still preserved.

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.112-118.


Under the shadow of that cross have been transacted many deeds of real horror, more than we can enumerate here – but a few may suffice. There, in 1563, Sir James Tarbat, a Roman Catholic priest, was pilloried in his vestments, with a chalice bound to his hands, and, as Knox has it, was served by the mob with “his Easter eggs,” till he was pelted to death. There died Sir William Kirkaldy, hanged “with his face to the sun” (as Knox curiously predicted before his own death), for the execution took place at four in the afternoon, when the sun was in the west (Calderwood); and there, in time to come, died his enemy Morton. There died Montrose and many of his cavalier comrades, amid every ignominy that could be inflicted upon them; and the two Argyles, father and son. An incredible number of real and imaginary criminals have rendered up their lives on that fatal spot, and among the not least interesting of the former we may mention Gilderoy, or “the red-haired lad,” whose real name was Patrick Macgregor, and who, with ten other caterans, accused of cattle-lifting and many wild pranks on the shores of Loch Lomond, when brought to Edinburgh, were drawn backwards on a hurdle to the cross, on the 27th of July, 1636, and there hanged – Gilderoy and John Forbes suffering on a higher gallows than the rest, and, further, having their heads and hands struck off, to be affixed to the city gates. Gilderoy, we need scarcely add, has obtained a high ballad fame. There is a broadside of the time, containing a lament to him written by his mistress, in rude verses, not altogether without some pathos; one verse runs thus:-

“My love he was as brave a man
As ever Scotland bred,
Descended from a highland clan,
A catheran to his trade.
No woman then or woman-kind
Had ever greater joy,
Than we two when we lived alone,
I and my Gilderoy!”

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.148-157.


Mr Campbell, who has himself spoken Gaelic from his childhood, went systematically upon story-hunting tours, as other men engaged by other sciences set out upon botanical or geological excursions. His specimens were of a kind to be got only by the skilful. Thus we are told how he went at Easter,

“To a Highland district, near the lowlands, where a gamekeeper had marked down a lot of tale-tellers, and I was soon convinced that there was plenty of game, though hard to get.

The difficulty may be worth some explanation, for it exists elsewhere, and hears on the collection of tales everywhere. Highland peasants and fishermen, especially those dwelling near the lowlands, are shy and proud, and even more peculiarly sensitive to ridicule than peasants elsewhere. Many have a lurking belief in the truth of the stories which they tell, and a rooted conviction that any one with a better education will laugh at the belief, and the story, and the narrator and his language, if he should be weak enough to venture on English, and betray his knowledge of Sgeultachd and his creed. He cannot imagine that any one out of his own class can possibly be amused by his frivolous pastimes. No one ever has hitherto. He sees every year a summer flood of tourists of all nations pouring through his lochs and glens, but he knows as little of them as they know of him. The shoal of herrings that enter Loch Fyne know as much of the dun-deer on the hill-side, as Londoners and Highland peasants know of each other. Each gets an occasional peep at the other as the deer may see the herrings capering on the loch – each affects the other slowly but surely, as the herrings do drive away the wild deer by attracting men to catch them; but the want of a common language here as elsewhere, keeps Highlands and Lowlands, Celt and Saxon, as clearly separate as oil and water in the same glass.

The first step, then, towards the acquisition of a story is to establish confidence. It may be that the would-be collector sees before him a strapping lad dressed in the garb of a west country fisherman – a rough blue bonnet, jacket, and trousers. He steps out and ranges up alongside. The Highlander glances from under his bushy eyebrows, and sees with his sharp grey eyes that the new comer is a stranger; he looks rather like a Saxon; Highland curiosity is strong, and he longs to ask whence he comes; but politeness is stronger, and it would be uncivil to begin questioning at once. So with a nervous kick of one foot, and a quick shy glance, the fisherman jerks out, ‘”It’s a fine day.” “Tha n’ latha briagh” (The day is fine) replies the stranger; and as he speaks, the whole face and manner of his companion change as if by magic; doubt and hesitation, suspicion and curiosity, become simple wonder; his eyes and his heart open wide at the sound of his native tongue, and he exclaims, “You have Gaelic!” “You will take my excuse by your leave, but what part of the Gaeldom are you from?” And then having found out all that is to be discovered, the ice broken, and confidence established, it oozes out gradually that the fisherman knows a story, and after much persuasion he tells it, while he rows the gentleman who can talk Gaelic across a Highland loch. At parting, he adds that he has told it only to please a “Gael,” and that he would not have said one word to a Gall (stranger). But the man who is fluent in his boat, is shy and awkward when set down to repeat his story for transcribing, and it is only when set with one of his neighbours whom he knows, that his story is got on paper.

Or it may be an old dame in a tall white mutch with a broad black silk band, a red cloak, and clean white apron. She is seventy, and can walk ten miles; she has known all the neighbouring families for generations. If you can claim cousinship with any, she is your friend; but she will praise the ancestors and tell of the adventures of Rob Roy the Gregorach, the last of the freebooters. “But Mary can you say Murachag and Mionachag?” “Huch! My dear, that is an ursgeul that is nonsense. The Good Being bless you, I knew your grandmother, “ etc. Etc. So one must rest contented with the fact that old Mary knows one tale, and probably many more, which a week’s persuasion might perhaps extract.”

Literary Examiner London, December 8th 1860., Review of ‘Popular Tales of the West Highlands‘, John F. Campbell.


Associated Words from Jamieson’s Scottish Dictionary.


LAIF SOUNDAY, LEIF SOUNDAY, LAW SONDAY. The name of a certain holiday. Acts Ja. V. Laif Sounday is undoubtedly q. “Loaf-Sunday.” Law Sunday must be between the end of March and Whitsunday.

PAYS, PAS, PASE, PASCE, PASK, PASCH, s. Easter; pron. As pace, S. B. Elsewhere as peace. Wyntown. – Moes. G. Pascha, A.S. pasche, &c. Id.

PAYS-EGGS. Eggs dyed of various colours, given to children to amuse themselves with at the time of Easter, S. – Dan. Paaske-egg, coloured eggs; Belg. Pasch-eyeren, ova paschalia.

PAYSYAD, s. A contemptuous term for a female who has nothing new to appear in at Easter; originating from the custom which prevails among Episcopalians, of having a new dress for this festival, S. B. From Pays, and perhaps yad, an old mare.

PEICE. The Fest of Piece, Pasch, or Easter. Acts Mary. V. PAYS.

PESSE PIE. Apparently a pie baked for Easter. Jacobite Relics. V. PAYS, PAS, &c.


On this Day in Other Sources.


When the Accounts relating to the reign of James IV. are reached – embracing the decade 1488 to 1498 – we find three payments to “Ross Herald” between 1488 and 1489, and one on 8th May, 1490, to “Johne the Ross.” If the 1490 entry refers to John Ramsay as “the Ross” herald, which I think it does, it must have been the last he received from the household treasurer, for the Exchequer Rolls of the same year chronicle his decease.1

– Scots Lore, pp.293-307. 

1  In the Exchequer Rolls, vol. x., we find “A.D. 1490, et quondam Ross heraldo de terris de Cullessy sibi alias concessis de dictis duobus annis j celdra, &c.,” and in the appendix in the Rental, “In Quarterium de Lindoris – Cullessy… assedatur Johan. Knollis pro terminis ut supra per mortem quondam Ross heraldi.” Knollis’ right to Cullessy was challenged by Sir Wm. Cumming, Marchmond Herald, who had obtained a royal precept soon after his colleague’s death, and litigation ensued. Knollis was found to have an indefeasible right under his tack from the Ross Herald, for the unexpired period; but on 12th April, 1507, Marchmont came to his own. The proceedings are narrated at some length, but the family name of the Ross Herald is unfortunately not given, only his official name. Vide Acta Dom. Conc. voce Culessey.


The 12th of April, this year [1525], the ambassadors return from England, and the Earl of Cassilis makes a full [account] to the King and counsel of their negotiation with England, and their concluding of a peace to last for three years and three months; and how that the motion [about] the marriage had been slighted by them, a purpose to elude King Henry’s 3 unreasonable demands. 

– Historical Works, pp.238-275.


This same year [1550], there was a peace treated and concluded at Boulogne, [between] the Scots, French and English; [David Panter], Bishop of Ross, for the Scots, [Gaspard de Coligny, Seigneur de Châtillon] for the French, and for the English [John Russell] the Earl of Bedford. This peace was published the 12th day of April. The young Lord [John] Erskine, and Henry [Sinclair], Dean of Glasgow, [go as] ambassadors to England, and see the peace signed and sworn; and from thence to Flanders, where they likewise conclude a peace. 

– Historical Works, pp.275-340.


The Duke, perceiving that the Queen mother had obtained the general consent of the nobility, resigned his charge, at the Parliament of April 1554, which passed, in his favour, an act of exoneration. The dowager Queen was now Regent, from the 12th of April 1554: But, the Duke’s prodigality left her a debt of 30,000l. which, in the period of five years, her usual prudence completely satisfied. With less providence, she not only changed the character, but the persons, of the administration of the Scotish government. 

– Life of Mary, pp.15-41.


Dishonestly by effort and solicitation on 28 March just past [James, earl of Bothwell] 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 [1567] 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. These summonses were neither just nor lawful, not only against the laws and daily practice of our realm, but also with 15 days between the date of execution of the said letters and the said 12 April it is very clear that there were scarcely ten or twelve days to use for inspection of the same. None the less the said James, earl of Bothwell – not lawfully summoned nor put under caution to submit to the law for the said treasonable and abominable murder and parricide, but by his methods and efforts – on the twelfth day brought it about that he was subjected to factfinding, assize and examination by his friends’ questioning and attention, while our dearest grandfather and others having interest did not have the legal notice or enough time, or the postponements required by law and the custom of our realm, to gather their friends and discuss the indictment and consider as is usual and customary other indications from similar cases, to prepare for an enquiry or assize involving people who were not suspects… Further, the foresaid James, earl of Bothwell, immediately after the foresaid treasonable and nefarious parricide perpetrated by him as has been said, knowingly and willingly hid and concealed it, and welcomed, protected and kept with him the late William Blackadder, John Hepburn, called of Bolton, John Hay, younger, of Tallo, Paris […], .the Frenchman, Patrick Wilson, James Ormiston of that Ilk, Robert Ormiston, his uncle, and others who were executors and perpetrators of the said cruel, treasonable and abominable murder, parricide and fire, and paid them, allocated pay to them for the perpetration of such a nefarious and treasonable parricide, knowing them to be perpetrators of the said nefarious crime, and knowingly and willingly after its commission continuously welcomed at least the majority of them into his household, guarded and kept them, assisting them in their treasonable, nefarious and abominable crimes, chiefly in the parricide committed on the most noble person of our said late and dearest father, and the hiding and concealment of the same, and above all on the said 12 April after as has been said, in his own way and contrary to the rule of law, the said James, earl of Bothwell was cleared and acquitted of the treasonable murder and parricide of our late dearest father, by a letter of his own called a cartella signed by himself and judicially delivered, he pitted himself against a noble gentleman who had in no way been defamed who had dared to assert that he [Bothwell] was guilty of the abominable crime and was duelling with him, and according to the law. 

London Quarterly.


The burgh records contain many notices as to drillings and the raising of armed levies, and of “stents” imposed on the town to meet the expense. In 1589 the magistrates, on the requisition of James VI., raised a company of “fyftie hagbutteris to await on his Majesties service “in the north.”1

– Old Glasgow, pp.162-175. 

1  12th and 19th April, 1589.


Probably the Liddesdale thief had incurred more guilt in England than ten lives would have expiated. Yet what was this to Buccleuch? To him the case was simply that of a retainer betrayed while on his master’s business and assurance. If the affair had a public or national aspect, it was that of a Scottish subject maltreated, to the dishonour of his sovereign and country. Having in vain used remonstrances with Lord Scrope, both by himself and through the king’s representations to the English ambassador, he resolved at last, as himself has expressed it, ‘to attempt the simple recovery of the prisoner in sae moderate ane fashion as was possible to him.’ 

Bucceluch’s moderate proceeding consisted in the assembling of two hundred armed and mounted retainers at the tower of Morton, an hour before sunset of the 12th of April [1596]. He had arranged that no head of any house should be of the number, but all younger brothers, that the consequences might be the less likely to damage his following; but, nevertheless, three lairds had insisted on taking part in the enterprise. Passing silently across the Border, they came to Carlisle about the middle of the night. A select party of eighty then made an attempt to scale the walls of the castle; but their ladders proving too short, it was found necessary to break in by force through a postern on the west side. Two dozen men having got in, six were left to guard the passage, while the remaining eighteen passed on to Willie’s chamber, broke it up, and released the prisoner. All this was done without encountering any resistance except from a few watchmen, who were easily ‘dung on their backs’ (that is, thrown down). As a signal of their success, the party within the castle sounded their trumpet ‘mightily.’ Hearing this, Buccleuch raised a loud clamour amongst his horsemen on the green. At the same time, the bell of the castle began to sound, a beacon-fire was kindled on the top of the house, the great bell of the cathedral was rung in correspondence, the watch-bell of the Moot-hall joined the throng of sounds, and, to crown all, the drum began to rattle through the streets of the city. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.124-176.


Under the liberal administration of Cromwell, too, Scotland generally – hating him though she did – could not but acknowledge the advantages she possessed in perfect freedom of commerce. A Scotch vessel was then at liberty to carry a Scotch cargo to Barbadoes and to bring the sugar of Barbadoes into the port of London.1

– Old Glasgow, pp.239-248. 

1  Ordinance in Council, 12th April, 1654.


After this two individuals were appointed whose duty it was “to keip the beggars aff the casy,” each of them to carry a staff “having the tounes armes therupon.”1 This order is repeated, but apparently without effect, as more stringent orders on the subject are issued. A distinction is made, however, between the common beggars who are strangers, and those who are “weill knowne to have bein borne within the towne.” The latter are to be tolerated, but, “to the effect they may be the better knowne, appoynts ane badge with the tounes armes thereon to be maid and given to each one who is suffered to begg.” 

– Old Glasgow, pp.289-299. 

1  12th April, 1662.


Apr. 12 [1666]. – At a horse-race at Cupar, ‘the Lord Lithgow and the Lord Carnegie, after cups, there passed some words betwixt them, and about night they drew off from the rest, on the hill towards Tarbet Broom, and drew their swords one at another, till at last Carnegie gave Lithgow a sore wound. While this was noised abroad, divers of the nobility and others there present did ride to stop them; among whom was the Earl of Wemyss, who, labouring to ride in betwixt the parties, had both his own horse under him and his man’s horse thrust through by them, while they were drawing one at another, so that both the horses died; also one of Lord Melville’s horses was hurt, and the Lord Newark had one of his servants ridden down also and hurt. At night they were both put under arrest by his majesty’s commissioner [the Earl of Rothes] at Cupar, in their several quarters.’ – Lam

– Domestic Annals, pp.302-321.


James Watson, a printer of eminence, started the Edinburgh Courant in 1705, which only attained its fifty-fifth number, and in 1706 the Scots Courant. The whole of the local notices in the first-named paper are most meagre, and are as follows:- 

THAT the Lands of Pirnatown, lying within the Regality of Stow, and Sheriffdom of Midlothian, are to be exposed to a voluntar Roup and Sale, in the House of James Gibson, Writer, living in the Advocats Closs, opposite to the Old-Kirk-Style, on Thursday the 12th. day of April next 1705, betwixt the hours of 2 and 5 in the Afternoon; whoever has a mind to bid for the same, may see an exact and compleat Progress of the Writs of the said Lands, in the hands of William Wilson, one of the Under Clerks to the Session. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.282-290.


The first mention of fire insurance in the burgh records occurs in 1726, and the notice is interesting. The magistrates, “considering that there is an agreement signed by several of the heritors within the burgh for a mutual insurance of tenements and houses by losses by fire, do agree that the towns corner house at the cross by likeways insured.”1

– Old Glasgow, pp.289-299. 

1  Ibid., 12th April, 1726.


“DUMFRIESSHIRE AND GALLOWAY ANTIQUARIAN SOCIETY (12th April [1895]). – Mr. J. W. Whitelaw read notes on Incidents in Nithsdale during the ’45, the staple of which was drawn from the correspondence between the Duke of Queensberry and his Commissioner, James Ferguson, younger, of Craigdarroch. The letters, in draft, belong to Captain Cutler Ferguson of Craigdarroch. They contain much interesting material regarding the beginnings of the rebellion, and about the conduct of the Highland army during its stay in Dumfries and at Drumlanrig during the retreat. 

– Scots Lore, pp.286-292.

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