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24th of April

Saints Beuve and Doda, of Rheims, 7th century. St Robert, of Chase-dieu, Auvergne, 1067. St Fidelis, martyr, 1622.

Died. – James Beaton, archbishop of Glasgow, 1603, Paris.

On this Day in Other Sources.

King Alexander I. departed this life at Stirling, 24th of April, 1124, and was interred one St. Mary’s day, at Dunfermline, before the high altar, near to his father, after he had reigned [as] King of Scotland [for] 17 years and 21 days. 

– Historical Works, pp.6-9.

The Scotish commissioners arriving, at Paris, in March, 1558, proceeded, immediately, to execute the great objects of the three Estates. They witnessed their Queen’s contract of marriage, on the 19th of April, and saw her married, to Francis, the Dauphin, in the church of Notre-Dame, on Sunday, the 24th of the same month. The King, and Queen of France honoured this solemnity with their presence; not without a great concourse of nobles, and a very crowded appearance of ambassadors. The Queen, immediately, saluted the Dauphin, as King of Scots; the Scotish commissioners imitated her example, and both were accompanied, in their salutations, by the loud acclaims of a numerous audience: These ceremonies were succeeded, by banquets of unbounded expense, and unexampled splendour. 

– Life of Mary, pp.15-41.

The Queen, on the 21st of April, set out, with her usual attendants, to visit her son, at Stirling; and, returning towards Edinburgh, on the 24th of the same month [1567], was seized, by Bothwell, at the head of 800 horsemen, near the Foulbriggs: And carried, forcibly, with Huntley, then Chancellor, Secretary Maitland, Sir James Melvill, and other attendants, to Dunbar castle. He there boasted, as we learn, from Melvill, and Lesley, that he would marry the Queen, who would, or who would not; yea, whether she herself would, or not. To act, and speak thus, Bothwell was emboldened, not only by his reliance on the engagement of his complotters; but, by the declaration of so many peers, and prelates, that they would defend his marriage. He now coerced the Queen, till she agreed to marry him. The Queen afterwards complained, feelingly, that while she remained, under his thraldom, in the castle of Dunbar, not a sword was drawn for her relief; but, after her marriage with him, owing to those causes, a thousand swords were drawn, to drive him, from the country, and to dethrone her. This intimation shews, sufficiently, that the unhappy Queen had been drawn, by matchless artifice, and force, into a snare, from which she could not escape. 

– Life of Mary, pp.155-184.

Mary, consequently, suffered in reputation, though whether she was aware of Bothwell’s guilt is to this day a matter of doubt; much less is it certain that she had, as has been suspected, a guilty knowledge of her husband’s death. 

Having procured the countenance of some of the nobility to his plans, Bothwell seized the queen near the river Almond (April 24 [1567]), and conducted her to his castle of Dunbar, where he kept her a prisoner, as was generally believed, by her own consent. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.30-34.

The foresaid James, earl of Bothwell and the foresaid persons plotted, treated, enquired and deliberated in their perpetration of these horrible, treasonable and nefarious crimes, and offered and demonstrated advice, help and assistance to the perpetrators and conspirators, so that he might more easily succeed in his nefarious, abominable and impious plot. To that effect, on 24 April [1567], with a large number of armed men, namely 1,000 armoured horsemen and others drawn up in hostile array, he set an ambush on the route of our dearest mother then queen of Scots while she was travelling from Linlithgow to our town of Edinburgh, suspecting that no harm would come to her from any of her subjects, least of all from the said earl of Bothwell since she had exhibited such offices of liberality and benevolence towards him as any prince could show and exhibit to a subject. With force and violence he treasonably apprehended her most noble person, cast violent hands on her, not allowing her to make her way peacefully to the town of Edinburgh, but committed the treasonable crime of kidnap upon her most noble person by apprehending our said dearest mother on the public highway, and taking her that night to the castle of Dunbar (which was then in his power), led her there and imprisoned and held her captive there for a period of 12 days or thereabouts. By force and violence, and under compulsion of the fear which can happen to the most constant of women, he forced her into a marriage contract with him as fast as he could. All of these things were thought through, discussed and deliberated by the said earl and the foresaid persons long before the time of the foresaid conspiracy and abominable parricide, notwithstanding that at that time the same James, earl of Bothwell had the honest lady Janet Gordon joined with him in lawful wedlock, and not divorced, and with no legal process planned or begun. Continuing and persevering in his nefarious and treasonable crimes and plans, he kept and detained the most noble person of our said dearest mother in close custody and under guard by force and violence with a band of his armed friends and retinue until 6 May last, when, accompanied by a large number of armed men, he took her to Edinburgh Castle (which was at the time in his power) and imprisoned her there. 

London Quarterly.

Some time after the departure of Montrose’s army to the south, the covenanters of the north appointed a committee meeting to be held at Turriff, upon Wednesday, the twenty-fourth of April, consisting of the Earls Marshal and Seaforth, the Lord Fraser, the Master of Forbes, and some of their kindred and friends. All persons within the diocese, who had not subscribed the covenant, were required to attend this meeting for the purpose of signing it, and failing compliance, their property was to be given up to indiscriminate plunder. As neither Lord Aboyne, the laird of Banff, nor any of their friends and kinsmen, had subscribed the covenant, nor meant to do so, they resolved to protect themselves from the threatened attack. A preliminary meeting of the heads of the northern covenanters was held on the twenty-second day of April, at Monymusk, where they learned of the rising of Lord Aboyne and his friends. This intelligence induced them to postpone the meeting at Turriff till the twenty-sixth of April [1639], by which day they expected to be joined by several gentlemen from Caithness, Sutherland, Ross, Moray, and other quarters. At another meeting, held by the same parties at Kintore, on the twenty-fourth of April, they postponed the proposed meeting at Turriff, sine die, and adjourned to Aberdeen; but as no notice had been sent of the postponement to the different covenanting districts in the north, about 1500 men assembled at the place of meeting on the twenty-sixth of April, and were quite astonished to find that the chiefs were absent.

– History of the Highlands, pp.314-341.

   “… The next point of one of the hon. and learned member’s arguments was a most important one, for if it were conceded then there was an end to the question. He contended the Irish parliament was not competent to pass the Union. Now see what follows from this admission – no act passed since 1800 was valid if this were admitted. Every act, in fact, was a nullity, and all the Irish members who sat in that house were mere usurpers, and ought to have been taken into custody by the Sergeant at Arms. If the Irish parliament were not competent to pass the Union, what becomes of the Catholic Emancipation Bill, of the Reform Bill, or of any one act passed by the Imperial parliament since the Union? (hear.) But it goes further. If the Irish parliament was not competent, then the Scotch parliament was in the same predicament, and every act passed since 1707 was a nullity. (Hear.) But that only showed how hard the hon. and learned gentleman was pushed for an argument. The argument, however, with respect to the competency was not new, hic non est meus sermo – it had been mooted by Mr. Plunkett and others; but he would throw all their arguments overboard, and look only to the law as it stood – to the interests of the people, and their duty as representatives of the people. He could describe all such arguments as vulgar trash, brought forward to bolster up a bad cause and give weight to what was intrinsically light as air. An attempt was made by some Scotch peers shortly after the Union to have their Union also repealed, and it was curious to compare the two attempts – that of the Earl of Findlater, and that of the hon. and learned member. That peer moved the repeal of the Union in 1713, on the ground that Scotland was more taxed than she ought to be. The hon. and learned member moved the repeal because Ireland had made a bad bargain, and the Earl of Findlater moved the repeal of the Union with Scotland because England had violated the bargain. What did the Duke of Argyll say on the occasion? There are his words:- 

   “If the Union is not dissolved no property would be left in the country, and Scotland would be the most miserable country on earth.” 

   Now he would ask, has this prophecy been fulfilled; had the Union with Scotland done good to that country or not? Was there a Scotchman out of a Scotch lunatic asylum, from the border to the Hebrides, who would deny the fact? Was there a Scotchman who, if you were to tell him that the country was too large to be a province, and that it would never be happy till it was an independent kingdom – was there a Scotchman to whom such a tale was told who would not get up an say, “Go to Banff.” (Laughter.) Another argument in favour of the Union was the utter impossibility for two countries united under one sovereign to go on with separate legislatures. Scotland and Ireland afforded sufficient proofs of this. Could Scotland – or he would rather say North Britain, for that was a better name, and he should be glad if Ireland were called West Britain – could North Britain have obtained the advantages she now enjoys with her own parliament? Could that parliament have abolished the clanships or heritable jurisdiction? The progress of education might have done much; but it would have been as impossible for the Scotch without the aid of the Imperial Parliament to abolish these, as for the Irish Parliament to abolish the penal statutes.” 

London Evening Standard, Thursday 24th April, 1834.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1800-1850.



   Andrew Fletcher gauged very correctly the depth of John Bull’s love for Ireland. The typical Englishman of the time made it a boast that his countrymen were the frankest and justest traders on the face of the earth. At the same time it was a cardinal article of his faith that if any profitable trade was in the possession of his neighbours it was his duty, as a patriot, to dispossess them of it. And such a policy was as loudly applauded when applied to Ireland as when applied to France and Spain. These turbulent people across St. George’s Channel had to be held in check by the sober wisdom of the Englishman. If, thought the English public, the conquering people relaxed the strictness of the reins, these impudent Irishmen might think of setting up for themselves, and of declaring themselves independent of England. It was in vain to speak of injustice to Ireland. The Englishmen had conquered the Irish, and that conquest conferred the right of using them at discretion. They had no sovereign rights, these Irish, and if they were allowed too much freedom they might break with this country, and set up an independent Government, to the ruin of this steady-going nation. If the nation were not ruined, it might at least be seriously handicapped, for Ireland lay more commodiously situated for trade, and had better harbours than England. With equal freedom and privileges, the Irish might carry away the English trade. All things considered, therefore, it was the safest way to keep Ireland dependent, and not give her a chance of setting up on her own account. Fletcher, it may be imagined, had no sympathy with this doctrine. On the contrary, he cordially sympathised with Ireland, and pleaded for justice being use towards her long before O’Connell poured forth his mellifluous oratory, or the British Parliament came forward with their tardy measures of redress. Justice, he maintained, was due from one nation to another, even in point of trade. It was true wisdom in any Government to encourage industry everywhere throughout its dominion, and to make it possible for men to enjoy the fruits of their own labour. He would not even admit the accuracy of the plea founded on the contention that Ireland had been conquered by England. To him it seemed that historical proof went to show that the relation of Ireland to England was that of a very strict union, rather than of a conquest. But even though it were admitted that the native Irish had been conquered, he argued that the English colony had never been subjected. Yet the English favoured that colony till they began to flourish and grow rich. That was a crime not to be tolerated. Englishmen could bear a people who continued poor, but when they began to acquire wealth, then was the occasion come for the exercise of rights acquired by conquest. This had been the consistent policy of England. He instanced the legislation with respect to tobacco planting, the woollen trade, and to commerce with the English plantations. And all this was done, continued Fletcher, to a nation ‘who affirm you have no shadow of right to make laws for them; that the power which the King’s Council has assumed was gotten by surprise; and that their first submission was founded on a treaty of  union, which now, on account of some rebellions suppressed, is called a conquest.’ The far better plan would, he said, be to have such a union between the three countries as he sketched out. Ireland and Scotland would then grow in wealth, and that increase would be in no way prejudicial to England. The English were afraid that Ireland would try to set up for herself; but the best way of bringing that about was for England to tempt and provoke her to do so by continuing to ill-use her as she had been doing for some centuries. No, he pleaded, it was a cowardly and oppressive thing to aim at keeping the Irish low and weak; for, he said, ‘the light of nature teaches that men ought not to use one another unjustly on any account, much less under the specious pretext of government.’ But this impetuous Scottish Radical saw he was preaching to the wind. Men had made up their minds that it was altogether unnecessary to give exact justice to other nations. the policy of judging of the interests of communities by the prejudices of those who lived near the seat of Government was to get full swing. Even at that early date he told Englishmen that there was trouble brewing for them in their own American colonies. He tried to show them that a policy of self-advantage would in the end be destructive of the prosperity of England itself.” 

– Newcastle Chronicle, Saturday 24th April, 1886.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1875-1900.

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