15th of May

Saints Peter, Andrew, and companions, martyrs, 250. St Dympna, virgin, martyr, 7th century. St Genebrard, martyr, 7th century.

Born. – Cardinal Alberoni, Spanish minister, 1664, Placentia, Italy.
Died. – St Isidore, 1170, Madrid; Mademoiselle Champmêle, celebrated French actress, 1698; Alexander Cunningham, historian, 1737, London; Daniel O’Connell, 1847.

On this Day in Other Sources.

The gift of the valley of the Lethan to the Abbey is interesting. Alexander II. had married his second wife, Mary de Couci, on the 15th May 1239. His first marriage was childless. The hopes of the nation were fixed on the birth of an heir to the throne. The king had chosen the castle of Roxburgh as his residence for the time – a proof of the peace and confidence of that reign – and the queen was there preparing for her confinement. Many gifts conferred by Alexander II., and still more, his frequent residences at the Abbey, show his favour for Newbattle.

– Sketches, pp.125-144.

It happens that in contemporary writers the Abbey buildings are scarcely ever mentioned but to record their destruction. They were burnt by Richard in 1385. They were burnt again by the Earl of Hertford in 1544. “Upon the 15 day of May the horsmen raid to Newbottill and brynt it; and owersaw Dalkeith, be the moyane of George Dowglas; and brynt many uther tounes thairabout. Na skaith was done to any kirkis exxceptand thai distroyit the abbay of Newbottill.  And the same nycht thai returnit to Leith.”1

– Sketches, pp.125-144.

1  Pollock Chronicle.

In the midst of those intrigues Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, her cousin, son of the Earl of Lennox, came from England and paid her a visit at Wemyss Castle in Fife. His mother, Margaret Douglas, was a daughter of Henry VIII.’s sister Margaret, the widow of James IV., who, it will be remembered, married the Earl of Angus. He was the nearest prince of the blood in Queen Elizabeth’s court, and after the house of Hamilton heir to the Scottish crown. The queen fell in love with the handsome but foolish youth, and resolved to marry him. Darnley was a Catholic, and the Protestant lords felt that a crisis with respect to their influence and their religion was at hand. Moray and others of them opposed the marriage, and thereby fell into disfavour. Within three months of their first meeting at Wemyss Castle the intended marriage was announced to a secret council held at Stirling, 15th May, 1565

– A History of Scotland, Chapter XIV.

In this edifice (long used as a warehouse by Messrs. Clapperton and Co.) dwelt Adam, Bishop of Orkney, the same prelate who, at four in the morning of the 15th of May, 1567, performed in the chapel royal at Holyrood the fatal marriage ceremony which gave Bothwell possession of the unfortunate and then despairing Queen Mary. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.219-227.

On Thursday the 15th of May 1567, the Queen was married to the Duke of Orkney, by the bishop of Orkney, according to the new form, in the great hall of the palace, after sermon, and not in the chapel, as her marriage with Darnley had been. She now sent envoys to England, and to France, in order to communicate her marriage, and the reasons thereof; but, not the true ones, which are to be found, in the act of Parliament, attainting Bothwell. Yet such an enforced marriage could not be happy: and scarcely day passed, without brutish conduct on his part, and many a tear, on her’s. 


The series of their proceedings, for obtaining their ends, of dethroning the Queen, and crowing her son, appear to have been as follows: Immediately on the solemnisation of the Queen’s marriage, on the 15th of May, they spread their rumours, the disseminated their calumnies, they dispatched their letters to their partisans. 

– Life of Mary, pp.155-184.

[Bothwell] conducted [Queen Mary] to his castle of Dunbar, where he kept her a prisoner, as was generally believed, by her own consent. His wife being hastily divorced, he married the queen (May 15 [1567]), and thus seemed to have fully attained the object of his ambition; but the Protestant leaders rose in arms, took the queen away from him, and drove him into banishment. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.30-34.

The Queen did not stop, till she found herself in Dundreinnen abbey, near Kirkudbright, sixty miles, from the unfortunate field of Langside. After a slight repast, she held a consultation, on the question, what course she should next pursue. Her friends, strenuously, objected to England, as a country, where she could not expect any safety: yet, feeling the mortification of returning to France, as a fugitive, she resolved to trust to the recent kindnesses of her faithless cousin, rather than expose herself to the coarse malignity of the Queen-mother. This resolution, being thus unwisely taken, Lord Herries wrote, on Saturday, the 15th of May [1568], to Lowther, the deputy captain of Carlisle; informing him of the Queen’s misfortune; and desiring to know, if the Scotish Queen, should be reduced to the necessity, of seeking refuge, in England, she might come, safely, to Carlisle. Lowther wrote a doubtful answer; saying, that Lord Scroope, the warden of that march, was at London, to whom he had written; but, if the Queen should be pressed, by necessity, to pass the borders, he would meet, and protect her, till his mistress’s pleasure were known. 

– Life of Mary, pp.184-206.

Five batteries had been erected against [Sir William Kirkaldy] by the 15th of May [1573]. These were armed with thirty guns, including two enormous bombardes or 100-pounders, which were loaded by means of a crane; a great carthoun or 48-pounder; and many 18-pounders. There was also a movable battery of falcons. Under the Regent Morton, the first battery was on the high ground now occupied by the Heriot’s Hospital; the second, under Drury, opposed to St. Margaret’s Tower, was near the Lothian Road; the third, under Sir George Carey, and the fourth, under Sir Henry Lee, were somewhere near St. Cuthbert’s church; while the fifth, under Sir Thomas Sutton, was on the line of Princes Street, and faced King David’s Tower. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.47-66.

On the 15th day of May, this year [1587], the King being at Holyroodhouse, convened his [whole] nobility that had any quarrel [with one another], where he solemnly composed all their differences, and in his presence made them [embrace] one [another], and drink [together]; and to that end, that the [whole] realm might take the better notice that this was his majesty’s own proper work, he caused them [to] walk two and two, [holding each] others’ hands, from Holyroodhouse palace to the cross of Edinburgh, and the King himself with them, where they sat themselves down at a long table, to a banquet prepared for them by the city; at which there [were] solemn expressions of joy and reconciliation, with mutual embraces of one [another]; and his majesty, to crown that day’s work, drank to them all peace and happiness. This reconciliation of the nobility and diverse [members] of the gentry, was the greatest work, and happiest game that the King had played in all his reign [until now]

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

May [15, 1587]. – King James at this time attempted what Dr Robertson, with somewhat too much complaisance, calls a work worthy of a king. Many of his nobility were at feud with each other on account of past grievances. For example, Glammis bore deadly hatred against the Earl of Crawford, in consequence of the killing of his father by some of Crawford’s people at Stirling in 1578. With the Earl of Angus, whose piety and love of the clergy induced James to call him the Ministers’ King, it was sufficient ground of hostility against the Earl of Montrose that he had sat as chancellor on the jury which adjudged Morton to the Maiden. The Earls of Huntly and Marischal had some mutual grudge of their own, perhaps little intelligible to southern men. So it was with others. The nobility being now assembled at a convention, James, who never could check outrages amongst them by the sword of justice, did what a good-natured weak man could to induce them to be reconciled to each other, and call it peace when there was no peace. Assembling them all at a banquet in Holyrood on a Sunday he drank to them thrice, and solemnly called on them to maintain concord, threatening to be an enemy to him who should first disobey the injunction. Next day, after supper, then an early meal, and after ‘many scolls’ had been drunk to each other, he made them all march in procession ‘in their doublets’ up the Canongate, two and two, holding by each other’s hands, and each pair being a couple of reconciled enemies. He himself went in front, with Lord Hamilton on his right hand, and the Lord Chancellor Maitland on the left; next after, the Duke of Lennox and Lord Claud Hamilton; then Angus and Montrose, Huntly and Marischal, Crawford and the Master of Glammis. Coming to the Tolbooth, his majesty ordered all the prisoners for debt to be released. Thence he advanced to the picturesque old market-cross, covered with tapestry for the occasion, and where the magistrates had set out a long table well furnished with bread, wine, and sweetmeats. Amidst the blare of trumpets and the boom of cannon, the young monarch publicly drank to his nobles, wishing them peace and happiness, and made them all drink to each other. The people, long accustomed to sights of bloody contention, looked on with unspeakable joy, danced, broke into songs of mirth, and brought out all imaginable musical instruments to give additional, albeit discordant expression, to their happiness. All acknowledged that no such sight had ever been seen in Edinburgh. In the general transport, the gloomy gibbet, usually kept standing there in readiness, was cast down, as if it could never again be needed. Sweetmeats, and glasses from which toasts had been drunk, flew about both from the table of the feast and from the responsive parties on the forestairs. When all was done, the king and nobles returned in the same form as they had come. – Moy. Bir. Cal. H.K.J

– Domestic Annals, pp.99-123.

The 15th of May, this year [1600], in the General Assembly [held] at Burntisland, the King’s majesty, after an eloquent oration had to them, in presence of God, and before them all, he solemnly [vowed] to do justice to all his subjects without respect of persons, of [whatsoever] degree or quality. 

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

The choir [of Glasgow Cathedral] would probably be first repaired, but the western tower is specially treated as part of the structure which had fallen into decay.* Under date 15th May, 1624, there is a minute in these terms:- “The provest, baillies, and counsall ordanis that the laich steple of the Heich Kirk [the western tower] be theikit with leid.” 

– Old Glasgow, pp.104-116. 

*  I believe, after a look at a map of Glasgow to see if the Western Tower is what you’d be looking at from Castle st, that this is the same tower denoted as the “Square Tower – Now Removed” in the Thomas Fairbairn Lithograph 4th down on its page.

The successful issue of this trifling affair had a powerful effect on the minds of the victors, who forthwith marched on Aberdeen, which they entered on the fifteenth of May [1639]. They expelled the covenanters from the town, and were there joined by a body of men from the Braes of Mar under the command of Donald Farquharson of Tulliegarmouth, and the laird of Abergeldie, and by another party headed by James Grant, so long an outlaw, to the number of about 500 men. These men quartered themselves very freely upon the inhabitants, particularly on those who had declared for the covenant, and they plundered many gentlemen’s houses in the neighbourhood. The house of Durris, belonging to John Forbes of Lesslie, a great covenanter, received a visit from them. “There was (says Spalding) little plenishing left unconvoyed away befor their comeing. They gott good bear and ale, broke up girnells, and buke bannocks at good fyres, and drank merrily upon the laird’s best drink: syne carried away with them alse meikle victual as they could beir, which they could not gett eaten and destroyed; and syne removed from that to Echt, Skene, Monymusk, and other houses pertaining to the name of Forbes, all great covenanters. ”1 

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

1  Spalding, vol. i. p. 136. 

May 15 [1650]. – ‘The new Psalm-books were read and ordained to be sung through all the kingdom.’ – Nic. This was the translation of the Psalms which is still used by the Church of Scotland and all Presbyterian congregations in the kingdom. It was based on a homely version produced originally in 1643, by Francis Rous, a member of the long Parliament, who ultimately became provost of Eton, and died in 1658. What was rather odd, Rous was at this time joined to the Sectaries, against whom the Scotch Church entertained so bitter a feeling. It must be admitted that his version underwent great improvements in the hands of the committees of the General Assembly appointed for its revision. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.278-301.

After the battle of Dunbar [Sir Archibald Johnston Lord Warriston] was weak enough to accept office under the Protectorate, as Clerk Registrar; and after the death of Cromwell he acted as one of the Committee of Public Safety, when the feeble and timid Richard Cromwell withdrew from public life; and this last portion of his career, together with the mode in which he had prosecuted and persecuted the fallen Cavaliers, and refused to concur in the treaty of Breda, sealed his doom when the Restoration came. He was forfeited in exile and condemned to death on the 15th of May, 1651. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.219-227.

   “THE House having dispatched a great deal of private business, it was preparing to rise, when Lord George Gordon rose, and made a very long speech respecting the disposition of the people of Scotland, and described them as ripe for insurrection; affirmed that the inhabitants fit to bear arms, a few Roman Catholics excepted, were ready to resist the powers of government, and had invited him to be their leader or privy counsellor. 

   He stated the religious constitution of Scotland as rendered sacred against any law the Parliament of Great Britain might enact for its alteration. the preserving it free from any innovation whatever, unless the same was done by the joint consent of the Provincial Synods, and the people at large in their elective and corporate capacities, would be an actual breach of the fundamental conditions on which the union of the two kingdoms was entered into and confirmed; and that without such a previous consent of the people of Scotland, no power on earth was competent to interfere, or break into, or defeat, the conditions on which the union was to take effect. 

   This was the ground the people of Scotland took; they retained certain rights and privileges, which they deemed inherent and unalienable; such in particular was the religious establishment, and the municipal laws of that country, secured by the treaty and union. – They were an independent nation when they entered into that treaty, so was England; they had their laws and their religious establishment, which they deemed sacred; and he was certain Scotland would never submit to the arbitrary or oppressive acts of a British Parliament. They would prefer death to slavery, and perish with arms in their hands, or prevail in the contest. 

   He gave many instances of their bravery and love of freedom; and it could hardly be expected, that they would consent to be oppressed by any Prince, when they assisted in banishing one, and bringing another of their own royal line, the Stuarts, to the block. 

   He read a bundle of papers, which would fill a volume, consisting of letters, propositions, associations, proceedings of the Provincial Synods, &c. as part of his speech, in which there were many strong expressions; among the rest, a very long letter from the Secretary to a committee at Edinburgh, appointed to manage the intended opposition to any bill for giving a legal toleration to Roman Catholics in that part of the kingdom. He repeated frequently the readiness of his countrymen to take up arms; and in the course of a speech of upwards of two hours long, said a great many good things, a great many strange things, and made use of several expressions, for which in other times, as a reward for his zeal for his countrymen or fellow-subjects, he would have run a tolerable good chance to be complimented gratis with apartments in the Tower. 

   His Lordship at length made a motion, stating a resolution of a message delivered by Lord North from his Majesty, desiring the House to take the petition of his Scotch Roman Catholic subjects into consideration, and that the said message or communication was illegal, &c. No person appearing, however, to second it, the Speaker refused to read it, consequently no question could be put upon it. 

   This matter being got rid of, the order of the day was called for, and the House accordingly went into a committee of ways and means, when Lord North moved for the report of the late house tax, and then proposed the following one in its stead, which was unanimously agreed to, and is in substance as follows: “That there be laid on all inhabited houses, out-houses, yards, gardens, &c. 6d. in the pound from 5l. to 20l. rent per ann. 9d. in the pound for all houses from 20l.” 

Newcastle Chronicle, Saturday 15th May, 1779.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1750-1800.

2520. John Tait’s Directory for the City of Glasgow, Villages of Anderston, Calton and Gorbals; also for the Towns of Paisley, Greenock, Port-Glasgow, and Kilmarnock. From the 15th May, 1783, to the 15th May, 1784.

– Memorial Catalogue, Gallery 1.

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