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25th of April – St Mark’s Day

St Mark, evangelist [68?]. St Anianus, second bishop of Alexandria [86?]. St Phæbadius, bishop of Agen, after 392. St Manghold or Macallius, of Isle of Man, 6th century.

Died. – Torquato Tasso, Italian poet, 1595, Rome; James Hay, Earl of Carlisle, statesman, 1636; Dr Patrick Colquhoun, writer on police and social improvements, 1820.


Among the wonderful things believed in by our ancestors were instances of long-protracted fasts. 

About the year 1531, one John Scott, a Teviotdale man, attracted attention in Scotland by his apparent possession of the ability to fast for many days at a time. Archbishop Spottiswood gives an account of him. ‘This man,’ says the historian, ‘having succumbed in a plea at law, and knwoig himself unable to pay that wherein he was adjudged, took sanctuary in the abbey of Holyrood-house, where, out of a deep displeasure, he abstained from all meat and drink the space of thirty or forty days together. Public rumour bringing this about, the king would have it put to trial, and to that effect, shutting him up in a private room within the Castle of Edinburgh, whereunto no man had access, he caused a little bread and water to be set by him, which he was found not to have tasted in the space of thirty-two days. This proof given of his abstinence, he was dimitted, and coming forth into the street half naked, made a speech to the people that flocked about him, wherein he professed to do all this by the help of the Blessed Virgin, and that he could fast as long as he pleased. Many did take it for a miracle, esteeming him a person of singular holiness; others thought him to be frantic and mad; so as in a short time he came to be neglected, and thereupon leaving the country, went to Rome, where he gave the like proof to Pope Clement the Seventh. 

‘From Rome he came to Venice, apparelled with holy vestures, such as the priests use when they say mass, and carrying in his hand a testimonial of his abstinence under the Pope’s seal. He gave there the like proof, and was allowed some fifty ducats to make his expense towards the Holy Sepulchre, which he pretended to visit. This voyage he performed, and then returned home, bringing with him some palm-tree leaves and a scripful of stones, which he said were a part of the pillar to which our Saviour was tied when he was scourged; and coming by London, went up into the pulpit in St Paul’s churchyard, where he cast forth many speeches against the divorce of King Henry from Katherine his queen, inveighing bitterly against him for his defection from the Roman see, and thereupon was thrust into prison, in which he continued fifty days fasting.’ 

John Scott, the faster, is alluded to by his relative Scott of Satchells, an old soldier of the German wars, who, about 1688, drew up a strange rhyming chronicle of the genealogies of the Scotts and other Border families, which he published, and of which a new edition appeared at Hawick in 1784. The author plainly tells that he was 

‘———- ane that can write nane 
But just the letters of his name.’

and accordingly his verses are far from being either elegant in form or clear in meaning. Yet we can gather from him that the faster was John Scott of Borthwick, son of Walter Scott, of the family of Buccleuch, since ennobled. 

Hearne states (Lelands Itinerary, vi., preface) that the story of John Scott, the fasting-man, was investigated with great care by Signor Albergati, of Bononia, and set down by him in a paper which is preserved, and of which he prints a copy. The learned signor affirms that he himself took strict means of testing the verity of Scott’s fasting power during the space of eleven days in his own house, and no fallacy was detected. He put the man into clothes of his own, locked him up, kept the key himself, and did not allow meat or drink to come near him. He ends the document, which is dated the 1st of September 1532, with a solemn protestation of its truthfulness.

On this Day in Other Sources.

KING MALCOLM III, surnamed Canmore, was crowned at Scone, on St. Marks day, in the month of April, about the 3rd year of the reign of the [Holy Roman] Emperor Henry the third, in 1057. 

– Historical Works, pp.1-3.

Mary effected her escape from [Lochleven] castle, by the aid of a young relation of the family. A previous attempt, made on the 25th of April [1567], had been discovered, and George Douglas, the younger son of Sir Robert, was expelled the castle for being concerned in it. Nothing daunted, however, she still meditated her escape; and George Douglas, continuing to hover in the neighbourhood, was enabled to keep up a correspondence with her, and with others in the castle. “There was in the castle,” says Sir Walter Scott in a note to ‘The Abbot,’ “a lad, named William Douglas, some relation probably of the baron, and about eighteen years old. This youth proved as accessible to Queen Mary’s prayers and promises as the brother of his patron George Douglas.” This young man stole the keys of the castle from the table where they lay, while his lord was at supper. “He let the Queen and a waiting-woman out of the apartment where they were secured, and out of the door itself, embarked with them in a small skiff, and rowed them to the shore. To prevent instant pursuit, he, for precaution’s sake, locked the iron grated door of the tower, and threw the keys into the lake. They found George Douglas and the Queen’s servant, Beaton, waiting for them, and Lord Seyton and James Hamilton or Orbieston in attendance, at the head of a party of faithful followers, with whom they fled to Niddrie castle, and from thence to Hamilton.” 

Scotland Illustrated, pp.15-17.

Sir William Drury, in direct violation of the Treaty of Blois, which declared “that no foreign troops should enter Scotland,” at the head of the old bands of Berwick, about 1,500 men, marched for Edinburgh. A trumpeter, on the 25th of April [1573], summoned Kirkaldy to surrender; but he replied by hoisting, in place of the St. Andrew’s ensign, a red flag on David’s Tower as a token of resistance to the last. 

Old and New Edinburgh, pp.47-66.

John Hamilton, younger of Preston, and another, are charged for a “sclandeir offerit to ye kirk and presbiterie of Glasgow be ye hurting dome be yame of Robert Hamilton of Silveston and Andro Hamilton of Letthame in ye effusion of yair bluid wpone ane Sondaye eftir nwn amangis ye middis of ye pepill cuming fra ye hie kirk at ye wynd heid of Glasgw immediatelie eftir ye preeching.”1

Old Glasgow, pp.189-215. 

1  25th April, 1598.

In the following year [Lady Glenorchy] executed a deed, which declared that the managers of the Orphan Hospital should have liberty (upon asking it in proper time) to employ a preacher occasionally in her chapel, if it was not otherwise employed, and to apply the collections made on these occasions in behalf of the hospital. On the edifice being finished, she addressed the following letter to the Moderator of the Presbytery of Edinburgh:-  

  “Edin., April 25th, 1774.  
  “REVEREND SIR, – It is a general complaint that the churches of this city which belong to the Establishment are not proportioned to the number of inhabitants. Many who are willing to pay for seats cannot obtain them; and no space is left for the poor, but the remotest areas, where few of those who find room to stand can get within hearing of any ordinary voice. I have thought it my duty to employ part of that substance with which God has been pleased to entrust me in building a chapel within the Orphan House Park, in which a considerable number of our communion who at present are altogether unprovided may enjoy the benefit of the same ordinances which are dispensed in the parish churches, and where I hope to have the pleasure of accommodating some hundreds of poor people who have long been shut out from one of the best and to some of them the only means of instruction in the principles of our holy religion.  
  “The chapel will soon be ready to receive a congregation, and it is my intention to have it supplied with a minister of approved character and abilities, who will give sufficient security for his soundness in the faith and loyalty to Government.  
  “It will give me pleasure to be informed that the Presbytery approve of my design, and that it will be agreeable to them that I should ask occasional supply from such ministers and probationers as I am acquainted with, till a congregation be formed and supplied with a stated minister. – I am, Rev. Sir, &c.  

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.359-363.

– April 25, 1857., p.164.



   The attention of Parliament has been drawn this week by Mr McLaren and other northern representatives to certain flagrant examples of the injustice that is habitually done to Scotland by the present Government. It is an old story that Scotland pays a much larger sum into the national treasury, and receives a much smaller sum in return, than either England or Ireland. We remember this fact being brought out with singular force upwards of twenty years ago in an article contributed to a now defunct Glasgow journal by Professor David Masson; but in spite of the Scottish Rights Movement, in connection with which Mr Masson wrote his article, and all the subsequent efforts in the same direction, the evil has been aggravated rather than lessened during the intervening years, and the present Government has lost no opportunity of intensifying the injustice. For auditing the Poor Law accounts in England and Wales the Government pay £10,000; but in Scotland the local boards have to bear this expense themselves. England gets no less than £210,650 for medical officers’ salaries in connection with the working of the Poor Law; but Scotland gets only £10,200. While the whole cost of the County Court Buildings in England is defrayed from the Imperial Exchequer, only one-half of the expense of the Scottish Sheriff Court Houses is paid from that source – the other half being contributed by the local ratepayers. While £18,723 is the total sum given to the Scottish Board of Supervision, the Irish Board costs the country £127,000, an increase of £50,000 since 1873. Our Register Office, after paying all expenses, sends a clear profit of £5,000 to the Treasury; the Irish Office, on the contrary, costs the Government nearly £38,000 per annum, and never sends a shilling to the Exchequer. Yet Mr Cross, the model Tory Home Secretary, and the great friend of Scotland, has had the effrontery to take away the salary from the Scottish Lord-Clerk Register. The editor of the London Gazette and the other persons in the office of that print receive salaries amounting to £2,178; the total of the salaries paid to the editor of the Edinburgh Gazette and the other officials connected with that journal is £300, and this in spite of the fact that the paper yields an annual profit of £3,388. The Scottish Education Board, which cost only £3,500 a year, has been abolished; but the Irish Board, which costs £22,000, is continued, and at the very moment when the Scottish Board was being extinguished a second Board was instituted in Ireland to take charge of the higher education, with two commissioners at a salary of £1,000 a year each These are only a few items taken from a monstrous catalogue of wrongs, inflicted upon this part of the United Kingdom, and against which our representatives in Parliament have never yet protested with sufficient vigour, though we ought, perhaps, to except Mr McLaren from censure, seeing that he at least has done the utmost that lay in his power to get the evil remedied. But the Member for Edinburgh has certainly not been supported as he deserved to be by the other representatives from the North, too many of whom are either incompetent or lazy, or both. We observe that a fresh injustice to Scotland is threatened by a bill which has recently passed through committee, and which will probably be enrolled on the statute book before many days have elapsed. We refer to the Ancient Monuments Bill. This measure affects Scotland as well as England; yet its administration is to be solely vested in the Trustees of the British Museum. Surely the force of English impudence can no farther go. We are glad to see that a memorial has been issued by Lord Lothian on behalf of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, in which it is urged that the proper body to be entrusted with the administration of the new law north of the Tweed is the Board of Trustees for Manufactures in Scotland. Such a body as the Trustees of the British Museum, from the very fact that their duty compels them to act for (what we may call) a foreign institution, are not likely, we think, to discharge that difficult and delicate duty so well as a Scottish body such as the Trustees of Manufactures, who possess the qualifications of being a public and permanent body and also of being in intimate relations with the National Society of Antiquaries, and are officially charged with the custody of the National Museum of Scottish Antiquities. Many of the monuments in Scotland which fall under the scope of the bill, such as the inscribed and sculptured stones, are movable, and the Society of Antiquaries has from time to time secured the protection and preservation of many of these by inducing proprietors to present them to the National Museum, and from proprietors of most of the other monuments in Scotland it has received donations of antiquities which are preserved there along with the others. The Society has also made arrangements of a more or less permanent character for the preservation of monuments which are not movable. The Board has thus already established relations with the proprietors of the monuments to be preserved. It possesses their confidence, and having at command the society’s intimate knowledge of the monuments, is in every respect well-fitted to accomplish the objects contemplated in this bill, so far as Scotland is concerned. The Board of Trustees for Manufactures, which owes its origin to the Treaty of Union, and was first appointed in 1727, is also vested under the Act of Parliament with the trust of the National Gallery of Scotland, and the Gallery of Ancient Sculpture in the Royal Institution. We can only express a hope that our representatives in Parliament will do their duty in this matter, and that they will insist on the amendment of the measure that is proposed in the memorial subscribed by Lord Lothian.” 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, 25th April, 1879.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1875-1900.

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