21st of May

St Hospitius, recluse in Provence, 881. St Felix of Cantalicio, 1587.

Born. – Philip II. of Spain, 1527, Valladolid.
Died. – James Graham, Marquis of Montrose, 1650, Edinburgh; Cornelius Tromp, Dutch admiral, 1691, Amsterdam; Jacques Maboul, French Preacher, 1723, Aeth.

On this Day in Other Sources.

A village undoubtedly existed here previous to the year 1197, for in that year a new town and a castle were erected by William the Lyon. The Chronicle of Melrose under that year says, “Factum est novum oppidum inter Don et Ar;” which certainly implies that a town or village had formerly stood there. A few years afterwards the same sovereign granted a charter to the inhabitants erecting the town into a royal burgh. The charter is dated at Lanark the 21st May, without a year, but from the witnesses it would appear to have been granted between 1202 and 1207. 

– Select Views, pp.153-158.

The 21st of May, 1424, King James the First, with his Queen, Jean, were solemnly crowned at Scone. 

– Historical Works, pp.153-166.

James of Scotland, while a captive in England, had fallen in love with Jane Beaufort, daughter of the Earl of Somerset, uncle of Henry V. The English king approved of his choice for he thought that an alliance of the Scottish king with the English royal family would tend to make friendship between the two countries. It was agreed that the marriage should take place, and that James should be set at liberty on giving hostages to pay £40,000 for his maintenance during his captivity. Of this sum £10,000 was remitted as the queen’s marriage portion. Henry V. died in 1422, but the treaty for the marriage and liberation of the King of Scots was carried out under the regency of the Duke of Bedford. James accordingly returned to Scotland with his queen, and was crowned at Scone on the 21st of May, 1424.

– A History of Scotland, Chapter VII.

As a rule the Scottish people were all trained to arms. An act of James I. (1426), which was passed in a time of perfect peace, enacts that all merchants should import some armour and arms with their cargoes. In Glasgow – encouraged by the bishops and by the men of rank, many of them soldiers, who officiated as provosts – the people were early trained to military habits. Previous to the Union they had their “weapon schaws.” There were “buttis” in the Gallowmuir for “exerceiss when schutting,”1 and where for a long time regular drillings were held; and repeatedly the city raised troops and sent them to the field. 

– Old Glasgow, pp.162-175. 

1  Burgh Records, 21st May, 1625.

This answer of the Earl Marshal had the desired effect; but although the Gordons agreed to disband their army, the Highlanders, who had come down to the lowlands in quest of plunder, could not be induced to recross the mountains till they should collect a sufficient quantity of spoil. The army was accordingly disbanded on the twenty-first of May, and the barons went to Aberdeen, there to spend a few days. The depredations of the Highlanders upon the properties of the covenanters were thereafter carried on to such an extent, that they complained to the Earl Marshal, who immediately assembled a body of men out of Angus and the Mearns, with which he entered Aberdeen on the twenty-third of May. The barons thereupon made a precipitate retreat. Two days thereafter, the earl was joined by Montrose, at the head of 4000 men, an addition which, with other accessions, made the whole force assembled at Aberdeen, exceed 6000. 

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

May 21 [1650]. – The Marquis of Montrose, taken in an unsuccessful attempt to restore the king without the ceremony of the Covenant, was hanged in Edinburgh on a gibbet thirty feet high. The heroic firmness displayed at his death harmonised well with the gallantry exhibited in his short but brilliant career. It affords a striking idea of the taste of men of the highest rank in that age, that the Marquis of Argyll appeared on a balcony to see him driven on the hangman’s hurdle to the prison from which he was two days after to walk to the gallows, and that Lord Lorne took post at a window near the scaffold, to see the body cut to pieces after death. The head being stuck on the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, and the limbs sent for exhibition over the ports of Glasgow, Perth, Stirling, and Aberdeen, Charles II. was compelled to behold those ghastly relics of the most loyal of his subjects, when, less than a month after, he progressed through the country. If Montrose had died free of excommunication, his body would have been given to his friends; as matters stood, it was inhumed beneath a gibbet at the Burgh-moor. There was, however, a female heart that secretly wept for the untimely end of the Great Marquis. His niece, Lady Napier, sent men by night, who dug up the body and stole away the heart; and this relic she consigned to a steel case made out of the hero’s sword, which again she inclosed in a gold filigree box, which had been presented by a doge of Venice to her husband’s grandfather, the inventor of the logarithms. It will be found that, after the Restoration, when it became the fate of Argyll and others to atone by their blood for the severities inflicted on Montrose, the remains of the culprit of 1650 were gathered together and treated with a funeral that might have been honourable to a king.* The heart and its case were, however, retained in the possession of the Napier family for several generations, and only were lost sight of amidst the confusions of the French Revolution. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.278-301. 

*  The details of the ceremony attending the exhumation of the Marquis of Montrose, along with Sir William Hay of Dalgetty, are faithfully recounted in the first edition of the ‘Mercurius Caledonius’ in 1661.

By the contract, the bridge was to consist of five arches, three of 27 feet span, and two of 20 each; the four piers to be 13 feet 6 inches thick in the body. There were to be two abutments, 8 feet thick, with wing walls and parapets; those on the west to terminate at Mylne’s Square; those on the east to be carried no farther than Shearer’s Land. The length from the north to the south pedestal on the west side to be 1,134 feet, with 40 feet between the parapets; but 50 to be between them from the north end of the south abutment to the north end of Mylne’s Square. This difference is apparent on the bridge to the present day. 


So actively and diligently did Mr. [William] Mylne set about his work, that by the midsummer of 1769 the arches were all completed, the keystone of the first of the three larger ones “was struck on Saturday, May 21, 1768.” 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.334-340.

   “The Magistrates and Council will thus have the satisfaction of knowing that the precedence to which Edinburgh is entitled as the capital of Scotland under the Treaty of Union, and which has been recognised on the only two occasions on which that question has ever been previously raised – namely, at the State funeral of the Duke of Wellington and at the opening of the International Exhibition of 1862 – has now, after full investigation, been officially recognised at the presentation of the addresses to the Prince and Princess of Wales. The Lord Provost feels satisfied that in this matter the capital of Scotland has only got the position to which it is in every view fully and fairly entitled; and now that the question has been formally decided, he wishes to say that, while he has acted throughout this matter with the determination to uphold the rightful position of Scotland and of Edinburgh, he has deprecated the introduction into the discussion of any personal feeling, or elements calculated to give rise to irritation. The question is one purely of order and right, involving no comparisons between the cities of Edinburgh and Dublin which can derogate in the slightest degree from feelings of mutual respect and good-will.” 

– Caledonian Mercury, Thursday 21st May, 1863.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1850-1875.

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