23rd of May

St Julia, martyr, 5th century. St Desiderius, Bishop of Langres, martyr, 411 (?). St Desiderius, bishop of Vienne, martyr, 612.

Born. – Dr William Hunter, 1718, Kilbride, Lanarkshire; Empress Catharine of Russia, 1729, Zerbst Castle, Germany.
Died. – Emperor Henry V., 1125, Utrecht; Jerome Savonarola, religious and political reformer and orator, burnt at Florence, 1498; Francis Algarotti (physical science), 1764, Pisa; Richard Lalor Sheil, poet, politician, 1851, Florence.

On this Day in Other Sources.

In [Ingelram’s] place [as Bishop of Glasgow] was elected Jocelin, Abbot of Melrose, 23rd of May [1174], at Perth.

– Historical Works, pp.19-38.

From writs extant at Perth which belonged to the Carthusian monastery there, it appears that a religious man, Dean John Ramsay of the House of the Valley of Virtue of the Carthusian Order, near the burgh of Perth, was Procurator for the said monastery, May 23, 1493. The procuratorship was a usual step to the dignity of Prior.

– Scots Lore, pp.293-307.

It will be recollected that the Committee of Estates in Scotland concluded a secret “engagement” with Charles in the Isle of Wight, by which, in consideration of his undertaking to subscribe the Covenant, the Committee agreed to commission and army to aid the king. In pursuance of this engagement the Committee proceeded to levy an army, and Glasgow was called upon to furnish a contingent. But Glasgow did not approve of this questionable alliance with the Cavaliers, and a majority of the magistrates, backed by the kirk-session, refused compliance, alleging as a reason that they were “not satisfied in their consciences concerning the lawfulness and necessity of this present “Engadgement.”1 But they suffered severely in consequence. They were thrown into prison, and deprived of their offices. Four regiments of horse and foot were sent to Glasgow, with orders to quarter solely on the disaffected magistrates and council, and on the members of the kirk-session; and so strictly was the order executed that each individual had to find board and lodging for ten, twenty, and in some instances as many as thirty soldiers. The defeat of the Engagers by Cromwell, his visit with his troops to Glasgow, when he lodged in Silvercraig’s house in the Saltmarket, his disputes with the clergy, and his interview with Zachary Boyd, the minister of the Barony parish – whose invectives against himself he punished by inviting him to dinner and inflicting on him a prayer of three hours’ duration – are incidents well known.

– Old Glasgow, pp.162-175.

1  Minute of Council, 23d May, 1648.

McUre’s John and James Wilkie were clearly different men from Mr. Stodart’s Sir John Wilkie of 1648, and Mr. Raine’s Sir John Wilkie, whose horse won the Berwick cup in 1654, for the Glasgow John and James were their contemporaries, the latter being served his mother’s heir in 1657.1

– Scots Lore, pp.141-148.

1  It is not unlikely he is the James Wilkie who appears among other burgesses of Glasgow in the Treasurer’s accounts on 23 May 1690, as being paid £6 for “rubbors(?) to the town’s use.” (Memorabilia.)

This [cookery] trade appears to have thriven, as some seventeen years afterwards we find “Margaret Hamiltone Widow” applying for leave “to keep ane common cookrie within this burgh,” and offering to pay a premium of fiftie merks Scots to the toune” for the permission. Her request is granted, and she is appointed “to have the freedome as ane burgess and gild brothers relict during her lifetyme as a widow.”1

– Old Glasgow, pp.276-289.

1  23d May, 1691.

4. WILLIAM HUNTER, M.D., of Long Calderwood, Lanarkshire.

Born at Long Calderwood, 23rd May, 1718; died in London, 30th March, 1783.

Physician and Surgeon. One of the most eminent teachers of anatomy of the last century; author of several celebrated works. Studied in Glasgow University, from 1731 to 1736; settled in London in 1741 as assistant to Dr. James Douglas, whom he shortly afterwards succeeded; and became physician to Queen Charlotte. Was the instructor, in anatomy, of his brother, John Hunter. By his will, of date 23rd July, 1781, he left the ultimate possession of his extensive and valuable museum and library, with a considerable sum of money, to the University of Glasgow. The collection was conveyed to Glasgow in 1807, and now, with many additions, constitutes the Hunterian Museum.

Memorial Catalogue, Gallery 1.

   During the war, in 1781, this coast was annoyed by a French privateer, named the Fearnought of Dunkirk, commanded by one Fall. On the evening of the 23d of May, he came to anchor in the bay of Arbroath, and fired a few shot into the town; after which he sent a flag of truce on shore, with the following letter: 

At sea, May twenty-third.   

   “Gentlemen, I send these two words to inform you, that I will have you to bring to the French colour, in less than a quarter of an hour, or I set the town on fire directly; such is the order of my master the king of France I am sent by. Send directly the mair and chiefs of the town to make some agreement with me, or I’ll make my duty. It is the will of yours. 

   “To Monsieurs Mair of the town called 

      Arbrought, or in his absence, to the 

      chief man after him, in Scotland.” 

   The worthy magistrates, with a view to gain time to arm the inhabitants, and send expresses for military aid in the true spirit of subtle diplomacy, gave an evasive answer to Monsieur Fall’s letter, reminding him that he had mentioned no terms of ransom, and begging he would do no injury to the town till he should hear from them again. Upon this Fall wrote a second letter to them in the following terms: 

At sea, eight o’clock in the afternoon.   

   “Gentlemen, I received just now your answer, by which you say I ask no terms. I thought it was useless, since I asked you to come aboard for agreement. But here are my terms; I will have £30,000 sterling at least, and 6 of the chiefs men of the town for otage. Be speedy, or I shoot your town away directly, and I set fire to it. I am, gentlemen, your servant. I sent some of my crew to you; but if some harm happens to them, you’ll be sure will hang up the main-yard all the preseners we have aboard. 

   “To Moosieurs the chiefs men of 

      Arbrought in Scotland.” 

   The magistrates having now got some of the inhabitants armed, and their courage further supported by the arrival of some military from Montrose, set Fall at defiance, and “ordered him to do his worst, for they would not give him a farthing.” Whereupon, says the worthy historian of this memorable transaction in the annals of Arbroath, terribly enraged, and no doubt greatly disappointed, he began a heavy fire upon the town, and continued it for a long time; but happily it did no harm, except knocking down some chimney-tops, and burning the fingers of those who took up his balls, which were heated.

– Gazetteer of Scotland, pp.48-51.

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