11th of May

St Mammertus, Archbishop of Vienna, 477. St Maieul, abbot of Cluni, 994.

Born. – Peter Camper, anatomist, 1722, Leyden.
Died. – David I., King of Scots, 1153, Carlisle; Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Templars, burnt at Paris, 1310; Jules-Hardouin Mansard, architect of Versailles, 1708; Madame Récamier, 1849.


When the gale by which [Richard] Chancellor, in the Edward Bonadventure, was separated from the other ships, had moderated, he made the best of his way to the rendezvous at Wardhuus, where he waited some time for [Sir Hugh] Willoughby; but the latter not arriving, and the season being far advanced, he determined to push on by himself. From this course he was earnestly dissuaded by some ‘friendly Scottish men,’ whom, to his great surprise, he found at this distant and inhospitable place. But we are not surprised to find Scotchmen there at that time [1553], for the marriage of James III. with the daughter of Christian of Denmark opened up an early communication between Scotland and the extreme north of Europe. And among the Russian archives there is a notice of one David Coken (probably Cochran), a Scotch herald in the service of John, King of Denmark, who visited Russia, by way of the White Sea, three different times previous to 1502, half a century before it was known in England, by the result of Chancellor’s voyage, that Russia could be reached in that direction. Chancellor, however, did not listen to the ‘friendly Scottish men,’ ‘being steadfastly and immutably determined to bring that to pass which he had undertaken to do, or die the death.’ Soon after he met with some fishermen, from whom he learned that the adjacent country was called Moscovy, and that ‘one Juan Vasiliwich ruled far and wide in those places.’

Chancellor, in the Edward Bonadventure, returning from his third voyage, bringing with him a Russian ambassador and suite, and the Bona Esperanza and Bona Confidentia, rescued from the ice to be the agents of another disaster. Not one of the three reached England. The Edward Bonadventure was lost on the coast of Aberdeenshire; Chancellor, his son, and most of his crew perished, but the ambassador was miraculously saved.1 The Bona Confidentia was lost, with all her crew, on the coast of Norway; and the Esperanza was swallowed up by the ocean, time and place unknown.

1  Of this ambassador’s adventures and reception in England, an account is given in the present work, under 27th February.*
*  In Balfour’s ‘Historical Annals’ for Mary it is related that:  
“In February, this year, 1557, [Osep Napea] the Moscovian ambassador, in his journey to England, was [shipwrecked] on the coast of Scotland [at Pitsligo Bay]; he was kindly received and entertained by the Queen Regent, and conveyed by the Lord [Alexander] Home with 500 gentlemen to Berwick.”

On this Day in Other Sources.

It was, perhaps, some time before the province was reduced sufficiently to bear the experiment of another tithe-gathering bishop. At least, we hear of none intermediate between John (who is supposed to have died of the effects of his mutilation) and Adam, who was elected Bishop of Caithness on the nones of August 1213, and consecrated by the Bishop of St. Andrews on the day of St. Mamertus, the 11th of May 1214.1

He had been previously Abbot of Melrose. The Orkney Saga tells us, that no one knew the family of Bishop Adam, for he was a foundling exposed at a church door.2

– Sketches, pp.70-85. 

1  Chron. Mailr. 
2  In opposition to this statement, one authority makes Bishop Adam the son of King Alexander II., by his second wife, Queen Mary – a very glaring anachronism; but the note, is worth attention at all, may point either to another king or another bishop. – Erroll MS., quoting “An anonymous MS. History of Scotland, writ under James V., a copy of which is now in the King’s College, Aberdeen.”

There are few more interesting state papers than the letter of Robert the Bruce addressed to his son and his successors. Not contented with the proofs of his piety and regard for Melrose which he had already given in the munificent grants for the restoration of the building, ruined by continual wars, and for the personal comfort of the monks, the dying monarch bequeaths to his son the care and protection of that favoured house where he destined his heart to be buried. It is remarkable that this document bears date1 within a month of the king’s death, and it follows that his request to Douglas to convey his heart to the Holy Land was made still nearer his end. 

– Sketches, pp.91-121.

1  11th May 1329.

Mary of Guise, who for a time had seemed to favour the cause of the Reformation, now made a stand against it. She summoned certain preachers to answer for their conduct before the privy council at Stirling. Many of the nobles assembled at Perth to accompany them thither. The regent, in alarm, begged them not to come and she would withdraw the citations. They complied, but she did not keep her promise. The ministers’ names were called in court, and they, for non-appearance, were outlawed and proclaimed as rebels. News of this came to Perth, where many of the nobles and others were assembled to hear the newly arrived Knox preach and exhort. Next day, which was the 11th of May, [1559,] Knox preached a vehement sermon against idolatry. A priest thereafter attempted to say mass. A riot ensued, and the “rascal multitude,” as Knox called them, made a complete wreck of the monasteries and churches of Perth. 

Blackie's History of Scotland

– A History of Scotland, Chapter XIII. 

On this, Barbara Napier and her infernal companions, after regaling themselves with wine out of their sieves, landed, and proceeded in procession to North Berwick Kirk, where the devil awaited them in the pulpit, singing as they went –  

“Cummer go ye before, cummer go ye;
 Gif ye winna gang before, cummer let me.”

Sir James Melville gives us a most distinct account of the devil’s appearance on this auspicious occasion. His body was like iron; “his faice was terrible; his nose like the bek of an egle;” he had claws like those of a griffin on his hands and feet. He then called to roll to see that all were present, and all did him homage in a manner equally humiliating and indecorous, which does not admit of description here.  

All this absurdity being proved against Barbara Napier, she was sentenced, with many others, on the 11th of May, 1590, to be burnt “at the stake sett on the Castle Hill, with barrells, coales, heather, and powder;” but when the torch was about to be applied, pregnancy was alleged, according to “Calderwood’s Historie,” as a just and sufficient cause for staying proceedings; the execution was delayed, and ultimately the unfortunate creature was set at liberty by order of James VI. Now nothing remains of these Napiers but their tomb and burial-place on the north side of the choir of St. Giles’s. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.315-321.

May 11 [1602]. – Sir Thomas Kennedy of Colzean was this day murdered in the immediate neighbourhood of the town of Ayr. ‘He was ane very potentous man, and very wise. He had buildit ane proper house in the Cove [the mansion superseded by the present Colzean Castle], with very brave yards; and, by ane moyed and other, had conquest ane guid living.’ We have seen an attempt upon the life of this gentleman at Maybole, by Mure of Auchindrain, who subsequently was reconciled to him, and, for the confirmation of amity, caused his son to be married to Sir Thomas’s daughter. It nevertheless became in time apparent that Mure was the prime mover of this atrocious murder, the circumstances of which are thus related by the king’s advocate, Sir Thomas Hamilton. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.124-176.

Four months afterwards (May 11 [1661]), the ceremonial funeral of Montrose was performed with an amount of joyful display that rendered it a most singular affair. The bells rang all the time while the corpse of Montrose went to its final honourable resting-place in St Giles’s Cathedral. It was remarked that this was a funeral where the relatives of the deceased wore countenances of joy, while there were others, not related to him, who beheld it with sadness and gloom, or shrunk aside into holes and corners, not daring to look upon it. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.302-321.

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