12th of April

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.’

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.

As for the earl of Huntly, he was summoned at the instance of the Lord of St Colme, brother of the deceased earl of Moray, to stand trial. He accordingly appeared at Edinburgh and offered to abide the result of a trial by his peers, and in the mean time was committed a prisoner to the castle of Blackness on the twelfth day of March fifteen hundred and ninety-one, till the peers should assemble to try him. On giving sufficient surety, however, that he would appear and stand trial on receiving six days’ notice to that effect, he was released by the king on the twentieth day of the same month. 

– History of the Highlands, pp.213-232.

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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