30th of May

St Felix, pope and martyr, 274. St Maguil, recluse in Picardy, about 685. St Ferdinand III., first king of Castile and Leon in union, 1252.

Born. – Peter the Great, of Russia, 1672, Moscow
Died. – St Hubert, 727, Ardennes; Jerome of Prague, religious reformer, burnt at Constance, 1416; Joan d’Arc, burnt at Rouen, 1431; Charles IX. of France, 1574, Vincennes; Peter Paul Rubens, painter, 1640; Alexander Pope,* poet, 1744, Twickenham; Voltaire, 1778, Paris.
*  My historical interest began with the Classical Greece of Homer. To that end I obtained a couple of volumes of his translation of the Iliad, one of which includes a map of Homer’s Greece.

On this Day in Other Sources.

The [30th of May], this year, 1546, David [Beaton], the proud Cardinal and Archbishop of St. Andrews, is stabbed in his own castle at St. Andrews, by Norman Leslie [Master of Rothes], son to George [Leslie], Earl of Rothes, John Leslie his uncle, William Kirkcaldy of Grange, and their [accomplices]. They were shortly thereafter declared traitors. They keep St. Andrews castle, and the Regent besieges it in vain; the Cardinal’s killers being aided by King Henry of England. 

– Historical Works, pp.275-340.

On the 30th May, 1667, the batteries of the Castle returned the salute of the English fleet, which came to anchor in the roads under the pennant of Sir Jeremiah Smythe, who came thither in quest of the Dutch fleet, which had been bombarding Burntisland. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.47-66.

The sheriff-substitute was a man of acknowledged probity, but from the representations he had previously received, was considered unfavourable to the cause of the people. On examining the witnesses, however, a case of such enormity was made out as induced him to use some strong expressions contained in a letter to Lord Stafford, which I here subjoin, and which, with some false allegations, were urged against him on the trial, so that, under the direction of the court, the advocate-depute passed from his evidence on the grounds of malice and unduly expressed opinion, and thus Mr. McKid’s important testimony was lost. On the whole, this case furnishes an instance of successful chicanery, undue influence, and the “glorious uncertainty of Law.”  


KIRKTOWN P. GOLSPIE, 30th May; 1815,

   My Lord, – I conceive it a duty I owe to your Lordship, to address you upon the present occasion, and a more distressing task I have seldom had to perform.  

   Your Lordship knows, that in summer last, an humble petition, subscribed by a number of tenants on Mr. Sellar’s sheep farm in Farr and Kildonan, was presented to Lady Stafford, complaining of various acts of injury, cruelty and oppression, alleged to have been committed upon their persons and property, by Mr. Sellar, in the spring and summer of that year.  

   To this complaint, her Ladyship, upon the 22nd of July last, was graciously pleased to return an answer in writing. In it, her Ladyship, with her usual candour and justice, with much propriety observes, “That if any person on the estate shall receive any illegal treatment, she will never consider it as hostile to her if they have recourse to legal redress, as a most secure way to receive the justice which she always desires they should have on every occasion.” Her Ladyship also intimates, “That she had communicated the complaint to Mr. Sellar, that he may make proper inquiry and answer to her.”  

   It would appear, however, that Mr. Sellar still refused, or delayed, to afford that redress to the removed tenants to which they conceived themselves entitled, which emboldened them to approach Earl Gower with a complaint, similar to the one they had presented to Lady Stafford.  

   To this complaint his Lordship graciously condescended, under date 8th February last, to return such an answer as might have been expected from his Lordship. His Lordship says that he has communicated the contents to your Lordship and Lady Stafford, who as his Lordship nobly expresses himself, “Are desirous, that the tenants should know, that it is always their wish that justice should be impartially administered.” His Lordship then adds, that he has sent the petition, with directions to Mr. Young, that proper steps should be taken for laying the business before the sheriff-depute; and that the petitioners would therefore be assisted by Mr. Young, if they desired it, in having the precognition taken before the sheriff-depute, according to their petition.  

   Soon after receipt of Earl Gower’s letter, it would appear that a copy of the petition, with his Lordship’s answer, had been transmitted to the sheriff-depute by the tenants. Mr. Cranstoun, in answer, upon 30th March last, says, “that if the tenants mean to take a precognition immediately, it will proceed before the sheriff-substitute, as my engagement will not permit me to be in Sutherland until the month of July.”  

   In consequence of these proceedings, on an express injunction from his Majesty’s advocate-depute, and a similar one from the sheriff-depute, I was compelled to enter upon an investigation of the complaints.  

   With this view I was induced to go into Strathnaver, where, at considerable personal inconvenience and expense, and with much patient perseverance, I examined about forty evidences upon the allegations stated in the tenants’ petition; and it is with the deepest regret I have to inform your Lordship, that a more numerous catalogue of crimes, perpetrated by an individual, has seldom disgraced any country, or sullied the pages of a precognition in Scotland.  

   This being the case, the laws of the country imperiously call upon me to order Mr. Sellar to be arrested and incarcerated, in order for trial, and before this reaches your Lordship this preparatory legal step must be put in execution.  

   No person can more sincerely regret the cause, nor more feelingly lament the effect, than I do; but your Lordship knows well, and as Earl Gower very properly observed, “Justice should be impartially administered.”  

   I have, in confidence, stated verbally to Mr. Young my fears upon this distressing subject, and I now take the liberty of stating my sentiments also to your Lordship, in confidence.  

   The crimes of which Mr. Sellar stands accused are, –  

  1. Wilful fire-raising; by having set on fire, and reduced to ashes, a poor man’s whole premises, including dwelling-house, barn, kilns, sheep-cot, attended with most aggravating circumstances of cruelty, if not murder.

  2. Throwing down and demolishing a mill, also a capital crime.

  3. Setting fire to and burning the tenants’ heath pasture, before the legal term of removal.

  4. Throwing down and demolishing houses, whereby the lives of sundry aged and bed-ridden persons were endangered, if not actually lost.

  5. Throwing down and demolishing barns, kilns, sheep-cots, &c., to the great hurt and prejudice of the owners.

  6. Innumerable other charges of lesser importance swell the list.

   I subjoin a copy of Mr. Cranstoun’s letter to me upon this subject, for your Lordship’s information, and have the honour to be, &c.   



– Gloomy Memories, pp.10-12.

A Jolly Gardener’s Garden.

THE Glasgow Mail contains a statement that an old gentleman, who cultivates a model farm in the neighbourhood of Govan, has been trying the experiment of irrigating garden plants with whiskey, successfully; though our Caledonian contemporary does not explain what is the nature of the alteration or improvement which has resulted in the cabbages and cauliflowers that have been treated with this new form of liquid manure. On the animal economy whiskey is apt to produce the effect of seediness; and perhaps it will also occasion a tendency to run to seed in the vegetable economy, if there can be any economy in vegetables, which, to denote a Scotch practice by an Irish form of expression, are watered with whiskey. If the plants have too much whiskey given them, perhaps they will not grow straight; the eyes of the potatoes may be affected; and all greens and other herbs may be seized with a shakiness of leaf, like that which is natural to the leaves of the asp, but which, in the case of the garden-stuff, the teetotallers will all concur in declaring to be delirium tremens. Possibly, one effect of whiskey upon vegetables will be that of preserving them; at any rate, that spirituous fluid may be expected to make them – if it does not keep them – fresh. – May 30, 1857., p.220.

[This is in fact not just Punch nonsense. The Glasgow Mail did in fact run this story which was then picked up by papers Britain-wide]


   “THE OBSERVATORY MUSEUM. – Among the articles deposited in the museum during the month are three old prints with reference to the Treaty of Union, from Mrs J. Hutchinson, Townhead of Mouswald. The first is the copy of a memorial containing ‘Instructions by the Barons and freeholders of the County of Dumfries’ to the members of the Scottish Parliament from that county to oppose the then proposed Treaty, and is dated 29th October, 1706; the second is an account of the burning of the Articles of Union at Dumfries two months later; and the third gives the names of the members who voted in the division at the passing of the Treaty on the 16th of January in the following year…” 

– Dumfries and Galloway Standard, Wednesday 30th May, 1883.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1875-1900.

Leave a Reply