I GIVE the Abbot’s pleading as it stands in the Black Book of Arbroath. The spelling, of course, is of the scribe of that register, writing about the end of the fifteenth century. The time of the Complaint itself is between 1460 and 1470:-
“Querela domini Malcomi abbatis in parliamento ac in consilio cleri tento apud Perth aduersus dominum de Meldrum penes terras vocatas Cautey in baronia nostra de Tarwas iacentes per dominos de Meldrum a monasterio iniuste ablatas et sibi damnabiliter appropriatas.*
“Nobille and prepotent lordis and honorabile and virschypful schyris. We Malcom abbot of Arbroath and conuent of the samen religios men infefte in donatioun of landis and kirkys with outheris possessionis gyfyn to the sayd abbay in almus be nobyll and deuote prynces king Willyem our fundator his successoris and sic lyk be honorabile lordis and baronis of gud mynd . quhilkis landis and possessionis mortificat to the said place be the forsad fundatoris lordis and baronis ar confeirmyt be diuers haly faderis papis of Rome and be byschopys of diuers dioces . quhilkis confirmationis contenis in thaim gret terribile and dreidfull sentens of excommunicatioun apone all thaim quhatsumewyr thai be that brekkys the said mortificatioun of the said possessionis and that vrangwaysle away takkys appropreys or analeys of the said abbais landis or possessionis be the forsad donatoris gyfyne to God Almychty our Lady and tyll Sanct Thomas patrone of the said place . quhilkis landis and possessionis has beyn brukyt in pace and tranquilite be the said place and our predecessoris beyownd al memor of man quhill now in thir dais part of ewyl myndit personis wythout the dredor of God or rememmorans of the dampnatioun of thar sawlys wrangis and tribulis ws and our pwr tenentis in peciable possessioun of part of our landis in owr baronye of Terwas . And in speciale we meyn ws lanmentabile ontyll your nobile lordschypis quhow we ar greitly hurt in our possessionis and propyr landis of the townys of Arquhorty and Cragy pertenyng to ws bath in propirte and in commoun and principale betuix the said twa townys and the town of Kylbleyn the quhilk land in ane part is callyt on the new Caute quhilk nayme it gat as we weyll knaw in defraude of ws and of owr pwr men tenentis of the said twa townis . quhilk ma be weyll consideryt be this resoun . Lang tyme afor was discord and debait betuix owr baronry of Tarwas and the baronry of Fyndyhark quhilk is now callit Meldrum . thar outuarat bordoyris with the landis of Kylbleyn and Ordonedrane as lauchfull posessoris of the samen landis . quhilk landis of Kilbleyn the abbot and conuent for the tyme gaif owr thar claem to the lard that than was callyt Philip of Findark for his seruice quhilk he promittit for hym and his that we suld onuexit be in the lawe of the landis and to be gud nychtbowr to ws and tyl owr men in tyme to cum for ewyr . Alsua honorabile lordis eftyr the decisioun of the debatis betuix thir twa baronys on ylk syd it stude in greit tranquilite and paes and rest quhen Kynbleyn was gyfyn owr be ws to the said lard of Meldrum veill to the space of iic yeiris and mair quhill now in this dais in memor of man com thar ane officeman quhilk was ane commoun smyth and seruand bath to the baronye of Taruas and Meldrum . quhilk commoun smyth duelt sumtyme in owr land of Carnbrogy and had his officehows in that land callit Cautey quhilk smyth had nocht thar ane yard nor croft bot that smyde . the said smyde was bygyt be that smyth in the tyme of Vilyam of Meldrum than lard of the sam . anbd becauss that tyme in thai tua baronys vas few men of reputatioun bot the said lard of Meldrum the sad smyth callyt hym his man for to manteym hyme in seruice and office of the cwntray that otheris suld nocht nor crofte bot callit hyme his man alanerly for quhy he had nane land in tha partis to gyf hym of resoun becaus it was decidit of befor as said is . and now sensyne in contemptioun of God and haly kirk in greit daynger of thar saulis and in hurt and preiudice of the place of Arbroth and ws the lardis of Meldrum has gart eyre and saw owr said landis of Cauty by all resoun or apperans of ony clame titule or rycht thartyll . Alsua ane othyr resoun . Yowr lordscipis sal onderstand had owr land now callit Caute beyn the lard of Meldrumis he had gyfyn it tyll his secund bruthir quhen he gaif the landis of Kenbleyn . bot his consciens arguit hym the contrare becaus it vas nocht his land be nane apperans be this resoun . our marchis thatwas than betuix the tua bwrnis held the burne wpe to the woud of Kyngude as of the wast part and than was wythin ws and owr barony Ordyndrane and Kilbleyn the quhilkis we gaif owr at the compositious for his gud seruice and gud nychtbourschype as said is quhylk landis he gaif to his secund bruthir as is forsaid . and frathynfurth eftyr that compositioun was decidit betuix ws and Kylbleyn be thyr marchis . that is to say . begynnand at the burne that gays fra Auchquhorty quhar that the strype fallys in the said burne and swa ascendand wp betuix the landis of Kilbleyn and the moss betix the hard and the naysch and ewyn sowth owr to the burn of owr landis of Carnbrogy . Alsua pleis it yowr lordschypis to be rememorat the vrangus occupatioun of owr said landis of Caute was mowyt and begwn on this vay . For seruice of owr landis and aisiament of the said smyth owr predecessoris owrlukyt and tholyt the smyth tyll byg ane smyde in the moss becaus of his colys and fuell that was necessar to his office to be woung in tyme of yeir . the said smyth vas callit Ade of Caute and in skorne with the nychtbowris vas callit lard of Caute in derisioun becaus he sett in the myddys of ane cauld moss and throw that skorne the land was callit Caulty . and becaus he was callit swa lard of Cauty quhoubeit it was bot for derisioun owr predecessoris thynkand it onkyndle tyll thole ane nominatioun of lardschipe of sic ane man in the said Caute without rycht or resoun thai remowit and pwt the said smith fra the said place for dreid that percais the smith or ony of his suld eftyr be process of tyme pretend ony claim of rycht tyll the said landis . than this smyth passit to the lard of Meldrum tyl haue his assistens tyl be in contrary owr predecessoris wyllis haldyn in possessioun of the said officehows . and swa it vas . for the said lard tuk the said Ade in mantemyn and the land be the tope and gart eyr and saw the said land and appropry it tyl hyme . than we menyt ws of that vrang to owr bailye for the time callyt Philip of Dunbrek . quhilk baillye passit to the said land and straik the sommys in twa and hewyt the plwche . than eftyr that the land lay long onoccupyt . quhilk interruptioun maid be the said bailye is weill knawyn tyl diuers of yowr lordschypis and als tyll mony of the eldayst mene in the cuntrey . Eftyr the deceiss of this lard of Meldrum succedit tyll hyme ane othir lard and largly begwd quhar his predecessor lefte . eryt and labourit the said land . and maid habitatioun tharon because thar vas nane to argwn nor tyll mak resistans tharin . for deyn Valter Panter that tym vas ane auld man and resignyt the abbacy tyll anr deyn Richard Guthre quhilk was nocht actiue nor gaif intendens for remeid of sic vrangis dwne to the haly place . and swa the place and we sustenis thir vrangys in this said landis and sic lyk in mony owthyr placys schath and hurt we haif and dredys tyll susteyn mar dampnache eftyreart bot gyf yowr lordschypis put remeid heirintyll . Herfor we deyn Malcom abbot of the said abbay and conuent of the samen beseikys and prays your nobylle lordschipys for the luf of God tyl intend auisytly tyll owr said complaynt and to consider diligentle the skathys costys and gret vexationis we and the said place sustenis in the persut of diuers vrangis dwne to ws and the said place in diuers partis within the rewm and mast special in the forsaid landis callit Caulte quhilkis our predecessoris has iosyt and brukyt peceabile ii hundreth yeirys befor thir days has our propyr pastur to the said tua townis.
“Supradicta querimonia habetur in quondam veteri registro papireo.”**