19th of April

St Ursmar, bishop and abbot, 713. St Leo IX., Pope, 1054.

Died. – King Robert II. of Scotland, 1390, Dundonald Castle, Ayrshire; Philip Melanchthon, German Protestant scholar, 1560, Wittenberg; Queen Christina, of Sweden, 1689, Rome; Jean Gallois, French scholar and critic, 1707; Professor Robert Jameson, naturalist, 1854, Edinburgh.

On this Day in Other Sources.

At the end of March 1562, Arran, with frantic inconsistency, charged Bothwell, with conspiring, with himself, and Gawin Hamilton, the commendator of Killvenning, to carry off the Queen to Dunbarton castle, and to slay her principal ministers. The charges were too serious to be quite disregarded. Bothwell, and Hamilton, were imprisoned. And Arran, being examined before the privy council, at St. Andrews, was soon discovered to be insane. He seems to have been sent to Edinburgh castle, to prevent further mischief from him: Such was the sad fate of the earliest lover of Mary, and of the proffered husband of Elizabeth! On the 19th of April, the privy council required the Duke, his father, to surrender Dunbarton castle to the Queen’s officer; a measure of precaution this, to which there could be no valid objection. 

– Life of Mary, pp.42-61.

A new conspiracy was now formed; to carry into full effect what had been left undone, by the old; that is, the old conspirators formed a new plot, to build another revolution upon the old grounds: Morton, and Maitland, were the chief, and active members of the former conspiracy, so were they of this; and as Murray was the concealed partner, but real gainer, by the former, so was he chief in this, though he was, in France, and obtained, by it, the vice-regal chair, the great object of all his aims. All the associate nobles, except Athol, and Mar, subscribed the writing, of the 19th-20th of April [1567]; declaring, Bothwell, fairly, and legally, acquitted; and recommending him, as the properest husband for the Queen; And, yet, this marriage was no sooner effected, than they denounced Bothwell, as the King’s murderer, and held forth the Queen’s marriage with him, as a proof, that she was privy to the murder. Like the foul fiend, they tempted, and deluded; and then, betrayed, and accused their sovereign. 

– Life of Mary, pp.155-184.

In the next letter written from Padua, and dated the 19th of April [1582], Crichton excuses himself for not having sent letters by the last courier, he having been at Codivio “attending to his soul”;1 and too far away from the Cornaros to write before the departure of the despatches. He again refers to Cornaro’s letters for further information, and concludes announcing his early return. Something must have happened to change his plans, however, for not until three weeks later do we find him reporting his arrival to Zibramonti. 

– Scots Lore, pp.181-192.

1 … per attendere all’anima…

During this age of general violence, the rights of women were, as a matter of course, little respected.* Abductions, both under the impulse of passion and from motives of cupidity, were frequent. The young Duke of Lennox, the cousin and favourite of the king, had contracted a violent attachment to Lady Sophia Ruthven, one of the numerous children left by the unfortunate Earl of Gowrie at his death in 1584. By the order of the king, the young lady was placed in seclusion at Easter Wemyss in Fife. The duke, crossing the Firth (April 19 [1591]), took the Lady Sophia out of the house where she lived, and ‘carried her away on his awn horse all the night, and on the morn married the said gentlewoman, contrair the ordinance of the kirk; whereat the king was greatly commoved.’ – Jo. Hist. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.124-176.

*  I urge you to check out just how very little women were thought of by the white, middle class, male writers of the 19th century, London-based, Punch magazine. Two articles in particular from May 23rd & 30th , 1857, during the discussion of the new Divorce Bill in parliament.

In May, 1592, Sophia Ruthven, the young Duchess of Lennox, was buried with great solemnity at the east end of the church. She was a daughter of the luckless Earl of Gowrie, who died in 1584, and was forcibly abducted from a house in Easter Wemyss, where she had been secluded to secure her from the violence of the Duke’s passion. But he carried her off on his own horse in the night, and married her in defiance of king and kirk. This was on the 19th of April, 1591, consequently she did not long survive her abduction. 

Old and New Edinburgh, pp.300-309.

Very different was the aspect of society at the time when the Edinburgh Gazette of 19th April, 1703, put forth the following advertisement:- 

“There is a boarding-school to be set up in Blackfriars Wynd, in Robinson’s Land, upon the west side of the Wynd, near the middle thereof, in the first door of the stair leading to the said land, against the latter end of May, or first of June next, when young ladies and gentlemen may have all sorts of breeding that is to be had in any part of Britain, and great care taken of their conversation.” 

Old and New Edinburgh, pp.258-266.

A vast mob followed [Charles Edward’s] coach, which passed through the Grassmarket, and quitted [Edinburgh] by the by the West Port, en route to Culloden, and “at mid-night on Saturday the 19th of April [1746] Viscount Bury, colonel of the 20th Regiment, aide-de-camp top the Duke of Cumberland, reined up his jaded horse at the Castle gate, bearer of a despatch to the Lieutenant-General, announcing the victory; and at two o’clock on the morning of Sunday a salute from the batteries informed the startled and anxious citizens that, quenched in blood on the Muir of Drummossie, the star of the Stuarts had sunk for ever.” 

Old and New Edinburgh, pp.329-334.




   SIR, – The Convention or Parliament of the Royal Burghs of Scotland meets in Edinburgh to-morrow (Tuesday), and it is understood that the re-institution of the office of Secretary of State for Scotland will there form a subject of discussion, and that a resolution will in all probability be passed calling upon Government to restore this office. Lest some of your readers may not be aware if the constitution of this convention, I will say a few words regarding it. 

   The Convention of Royal Burghs is one of the oldest institutions in Scotland, and was known in the reign of David I., in 1124, as the Curia Quator Burgorum, or Court of the Four Burghs. It retained this designation until 1405, when, by Act of the Parliament of James II., all the royal burghs were ordered to send commissioners, under a pecuniary penalty. The privileges of the convention were ratified and confirmed by succeeding monarchs, and also by the treaty of union between Scotland and England. It now meets annually in the metropolis, its sittings last for about two or three weeks, and are presided over by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh. There are 63 royal and 13 parliamentary burghs in Scotland, but the latter do not possess the privilege of representation in the convention. Each burgh is represented by one commissioner and one assessor. 

   The last Secretary of State for Scotland was the Marquis of Tweeddale, who resigned in 1746, and since that period the business of the office has been thrown on the Lord Advocate; but the multifarious duties this official has to perform render it impossible that he can properly attend to the peculiar interests of Scotland, which, owing to her increase in population and riches, with concomitants of legal, commercial, and criminal business, is completely overwhelming for one man who has other occupations to attend to. 

   The want of an official whose sole duty would be to attend to the legislative or political business of the country has long been felt as a grievance by the people of Scotland; and a great deal of the neglect and inattention on the part of the Government, of which they so universally complain, is mainly attributable to the non-existence of such an officer. It would, therefore, be gratifying to hear that the Convention of Burghs have passed a resolution urging upon the Government the necessity of a Secretary of State for Scotland. 

   The office of Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal has been allowed to remain vacant since the death of Lord Melville in 1851. Why it has been so, I am at a loss to explain, unless it is but one of the many oversights which the people of Scotland murmur at. Now, although there is no wish, even were it legal, as, by the terms of the articles of union, it is not, that this office should be abolished, yet few would think it necessary that so large a salary as 2,775l. should be attached to an office which is merely honorary, and one where there are no duties to perform. The fees payable upon documents passing this seal, together with the honour and privileges of the office, would be a sufficient inducement for a peer to accept its keepership. The salary might then be devoted to paying an official whose duties the prosperity and better government of Scotland render necessary. – I am, sir, yours faithfully,

*   *   *   *   *   *

   Monday, 18th April.” 

– Morning Post, Tuesday 19th April, 1853.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1850-1875.

One feature of the heart-harrowing case is the shocking and barbarous cruelty that was practised on this occasion upon the female portion of the evicted clan. Mr. D. Ross, in a letter addressed to the Right Hon. the Lord Advocate, Edinburgh, dated April 19, 1854, thus writes in reference to one of those clearances and evictions which had just then taken place under the authority of a certain Sheriff of the district, and by means of a body of policemen as executioners:- ‘The feeling on this subject, not only in the district, but in Sutherlandshire and Ross-shire is, among the great majority of people, one of universal condemnation of the Sheriff’s reckless conduct, and of indignation and disgust at the brutality of the policemen. Such, indeed, was the sad havoc made on these females on the banks of Carron, on the memorable 31st March last, that pools of blood were on the ground – that the grass and earth were dyed red with it – that the dogs of the district came and licked up the blood; and at last, such was the state of feeling of parties who went from a distance to see the field, that a party (it is understood by order or instructions from head-quarters) actually harrowed the ground during the night to hide the blood!’ 

– Gloomy Memories, pp.191-202.

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