20th of April

St Serf or Servanus, of Scotland, 5th century. St Agnes of Monte Pulciano, 1317. St James of Sclavonia, 1485.


Died. – Prince Eugène of Savoy, military commander, 1736, Vienna; John Lewis Petit, ‘in his time the most renowned surgeon in Europe,’ 1760, Paris; John Mudie, miscellaneous writer, 1842, London.


On this Day in Other Sources.


Only three years afterwards, we meet the record of a very curious compact. On the 20th of April 1378, in the parish church of Perth, it was covenanted that Hugh de Ross, lord of Balyndolch, shall make to be brought within the diocese of Dunblane the Lady Johanna (or Jonet), the wife of Alexander de Moravia, at the next coming feast of St. John the Baptist, for which he is to have seven marks beforehand, and seven more when he intimates that he has performed his engagement; and the divorce being completed, he is to receive a similar sum; and the said Hugh promises to give his advice and assistance to the said divorce.1

– Sketches, pp.204-219.

1 The word in the original in deforciamentum. It may mean the forcible bringing of the lady within the jurisdiction.


In like manner the charter of James II. of 20th April, 1450, which raised the city from the rank of a burgh of barony to that of a burgh of regality, was in reality nothing more than an increase of power and dignity to the bishop. It is granted in favour of Bishop Turnbull, the founder of the university, and it confirms, not to the citizens, but to the bishop and his successors, “the city of Glasgow, barony of Glasgow, and lands commonly called Bishop forest, to be held by them of us in free pure and mere regality in fee and heritage for ever.”

– Old Glasgow, pp.83-98.


The cases in which the discipline of the church was invoked to redress acts of violence are numerous, and in the worst of them the delinquents are priests. On one occasion Sir John Carnwath, a priest, is accused of having violently carried off sub silentio noctis, during the first week in Lent, the daughter of John Smyth, in the parish of Linton.1 Another priest, Sir Bartholomew Blare – every priest had the prefix of “Sir” – is charged with “mutilating and dismembering” certain parishioners of Biggar in a conflict betwixt him and the said parishioners.2

– Old Glasgow, pp.189-215.

1 20th April, 1504, Lib. Protocol., No. 80.
2 Ibid., No. 356.


It is easy to see, that it was Murray’s faction, which brought the Queen into that snare, if we will only attend to a few circumstances. The King’s murder was plainly committed by Murray’s faction, with Bothwell for its cat’s-paw. Murray retired, from Scotland, to France, when he ought, as principal minister, to have remained, to protect the Queen, and her kingdom, from such hazards, and snares. Bothwell, when tried, was acquitted, by Murray’s faction, with Morton, and Maitland, two of his complotters, for Murray’s agents. Morton, and Maitland, acting, as such agents, obtained the declaration of the peers, and prelates, of the 20th of April [1567], in favour of Bothwell, which emboldened him, and deluded her. Maitland, who knew the whole details of the conspiracy, was plainly in the secret of the Queen’s arrestment, and coercion; attending upon her the while, to give her bad, not salutary advice.

– Life of Mary, pp.155-184.


Apr. 20 [1664]. – One James Elder, a baker in the Canongate, Edinburgh, was tried for usury. The witnesses deponed that they saw him receive eight per cent. from his debtor, and one of them deponed that he refused to accept six per cent. till he got two per cent. more. Being found guilty, his goods were escheat, and he ordered to find security that he would be ready to undergo any further punishment that might be inflicted upon him.

What was then, partly under religious feelings, regarded as a crime, has since come to be held as legitimate traffic; and it is not unworthy of remark that the Bank of England was, at the time of the preparation of this article (November 1857), charging two per cent. more on bills than that rate of interest which caused James Elder in 1664 to forfeit his whole possessions.

– Domestic Annals, pp. 302-321.


Apr. 20 [1694]. – Till this day, it could not be said that Great Britain had wholly submitted to William and Mary. For nearly three years past, one small part of it – situated within one-and-twenty miles of the capital of Scotland – had held out for King James; and it only now yielded upon good terms for the holders. This was the more remarkable, as the place was no ancestral castle, resting on the resources of a great lord, but, in reality, one _20180929_023922.JPG of the state fortresses, which fortune had thrown into the hands of a few bold spirits, having no sort of authority to take or retain possession of it.

The place in question was that singular natural curiosity, the islet of the Bass, situated a couple of miles off the coast of East Lothian, in the mouth of the Firth of Forth. As well known, while rising a column of pure trap straight out of the sea, it shelves down on one side to a low cliff, where there is a chain of fortifications, with a difficult landing-place underneath. the late government had employed this fortalice as a state-prison, chiefly for troublesome west-country clergymen.

– Domestic Annals, pp.342-354.


On 20th April, 1695, the council “appoints the thesaurer to have allowance in his own hands of 200 merks payed out be him as the price of ane hogsheid of wine given to a friend of this toun whom it is not fitt to name.”

– Old Glasgow, pp.215-237.


Apr. 20 [1697]. – The Privy Council, in terms of the 27th act of Queen Mary – rather a far way to go back for authority in such a matter – discharged all printers ‘to print or reprint any pamphlets, books, or others, relating to the government, or of immediate public concern, until the same be seen, revised, and examined by the Earls of Lauderdale and Annandale, the Lord Advocate, Lord Anstruther, and Sir John Maxwell of Pollock,’ under heavy penalties. – P. C. R.

– Domestic Annals, pp.355-378.


On the 20th of last April [1839,] a meeting of noblemen and gentlemen, connected with different districts of Scotland, was held in the British Hotel, Edinburgh, for the purpose of making inquiry into the misery and destitution prevailing in Scotland, and particularly in the Highlands, with a view to discover the causes and discuss means for meeting the prevailing evil. Gentlemen were appointed to make the necessary inquiry, and a committee named, with which these gentlemen were to communicate. At this meeting a Sutherlandshire proprietor made such representations regarding the inhabitants of that county, that, relying, I suppose, on his mere assertions, the proposed enquiry has never been carried into that district. Under these circumstances, I, who have been largely a sufferer, and a spectator of the sufferings of multitudes of my countrymen, would have felt myself deeply culpable if I kept silence, and did not take means to lay before the committee and the public the information of which I am possessed, to put the benevolent on their guard respecting the men who undertake to pervert, if they cannot stifle, the inquiry as to the causes and extent of distress in the shire of Sutherland.

– Gloomy Memories, pp.1-2.


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