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 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.

   “… At the time of the union with Scotland the revenue of that country was 120,000l., and now it was 4,000,000l.; yet they were told that not one additional member should be given to Scotland; for that was the practical, necessary, and inevitable effect of the hon. general’s proposition. (Hear.) Therefore, the house must negative the motion, not merely the friends of the bill, but Scottish members, who had the interests of the representation of Scotland at heart, who would not dare to go back to their constituents after voting against the increase of Scotch representation, as they must do if they supported the gallant general. If he (Mr. Fergusson) supposed that what he asked was against the interests of England, he would not ask it; but was he to be told that Glasgow, with 148,000 inhabitants, was to be without representatives, when Gratton was represented? There was a view of this question which he had never seen stated. There had been a complaint for the last 50 years of the influence of the Crown. That influence was now dead and gone, (hear, hear,) the Duke of Wellington had done this: he thanked him for it.” 

Evening Mail, Wednesday 20th April, 1831.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1800-1850.

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.


   SIR, – Will you allow me to make some observations on this question. To accomplish such an object has been the aim of our leaders ever since we came into life, and we had hoped that either by ourselves or by amalgamation with an existing paper, with our numbers and the literary abilities which we possess that aim would have been realised long ago. In your letter to me you seem to think that the difficulties do not lie with the financial section of the venture. I only wish that I could see eye to eye with you, for I have no fear of the literary talent being short, if the paper we identified ourselves with made Home Rule All Round its leading political Confession of Faith. We have on our roll of membership at home and abroad sufficient talent to maintain our principles on that score for a long time to come. But you can readily understand how disgusting it is to an unselfish patriotic mind, after furnishing a thoroughly just and ethical article in favour of Home Rule, probably to a paper which styles itself Liberal, to find in next day’s issue a slashing abusive defamatory article, with scarcely an attempt at reasonable argument, and when the patriotic writer replies, his reply is, without assigning a cause, thrown into the waste basket. Had our cause an organ whose special object was to promote the principle of Local Self-Government to each national division of the Empire, we would have no fear of lying slanderers. In point of fact, it would be our interest to encourage the vapourings of such defamers. The fact is, the Fourth Estate of the un-written Constitution has descended very much to a mere trade. It furnishes its columns with materials that pay best, indifferent as regards truth and consistency or the promotion of national rights. In this stage of our political history it has practically come to this, that our professorial politicians who are endowed with the largest amount of wealth command the biggest turn-over in the trade. This unsatisfactory state of constitutional Government may be expected to continue so long as the absurdity of a hereditary legislature has power to make or prevent making the laws, unless events bequeath to us another Cromwell suited to the times… 

   Does it not appear to you that such important questions, being strictly Scottish, as the Scottish Church, the Scottish Licensing, the Scottish Fishing and Land laws, would be more in harmony with Scottish national rights and justice if let alone to be dealt with by a purely Scottish Legislature. I have never been able to see by what law of equity, we Scots should presume to force upon Englishmen and Irishmen our democratic or contracted views upon either of the above questions, and vice versa, those two nations ought to leave us to frame our regulations upon all such local matters as may appear to us to be most conducive to our national characteristics and welfare. 

   England enjoys Home Rule already. Not only so, but she rules at her will the home affairs of the other three nations which compose Great Britain and Ireland. Any abstraction from the present system would lessen her sway over these nationalities. Parnell struck upon the only possible course which is likely to make John Bull susceptible to reason and justice – viz., get possession of a weapon which will prevent John from getting his own home affairs ruled. It is very much to be regretted that we Scots, chiefly arising out of religious differences, cannot see our way to go hand in hand with Ireland in the work of promoting Home Rule. If Mr Gladstone had framed his Bill on the principle of Home Rule all round, and stuck to it, it would have been an Act which would have immortalised him throughout the whole British-speaking race; but he is not sound on real Home Rule. His object was to get rid of Irish opposition both at home and in America. He cared nothing for the freedom of his own countrymen, who have been worse used as a nation than has Ireland, notwithstanding we have a solemn Treaty of Union for the protection of our national rights and interests. We are tremendously over-taxed as compared with either England or Ireland. You will remember that in the Local Government Act for Scotland the power of the English vote thrust down the throats of our Scots members twelve clauses of purely Scottish local affairs which large majorities of the Scots voted against. Can an educated, free-born country be expected to peacefully submit to this. We, who are proud of our fought-for independence, surely are justified in complaining of such treatment. I have never met with a Scottish Home Ruler, and I have been one all my life, who has any wish or idea of breaking up the Imperial Union; at the same time, although I lived in England a quarter of a century, I have no desire to be ruled by Englishmen. Let us work together harmoniously in all Imperial affairs, but in all purely Scottish affairs, rely on it, our safest course is to manage them ourselves at home in our own way. – I am, &c., 


Chairman of Executive Committee,  

Scottish Home Rule Association,  

   Newton Grange House, Newbattle.

   April 16th, 1896.”

– Perthshire Advertiser, Monday 20th April, 1896.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1875-1900.

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