11th of June

St Barnabas, the Apostle, 1st century. St Tochumra [Kilmore], Virgin, of Ireland. Another Tochumra [Tuam], Virgin.

Died. – Duc de Vendôme, French commander, 1712; Dr William Robertson, historian, 1793, Edinburgh; Dugald Stewart (moral philosophy), 1828, Edinburgh; Rev. Dr Alexander Crombie (educational works), 1842, London.

On this Day in Other Sources.

On the 11th of June, 1291, the Castle of Edinburgh and all the strongholds in the Lowlands were unwisely and unwarily put into the hands of the craft Plantagenet by the grasping and numerous claimants, on the ridiculous pretence that the subject in dispute should be placed in the power of the umpire; and the governors of the various fortresses, on finding that the four nobles who had been appointed guardians of the realm till the dispute was adjusted had basely abandoned Scotland to her fate, they, too, quietly gave up their trusts to Edward, who (according to Prynne’s “History”) appointed Sir Radulf Basset de Drayton governor of Edinburgh Castle, with a garrison of English soldiers. According to Holinshed he personally took this Castle after a fifteen days’ siege with his warlike engines. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.21-26.

King James then seeing no way to pacify his enraged subjects, now up in arms against him, all in a fury marches from Stirling, [contrary to] the [advice] of [those] with him, till that [George Gordon] Earl of Huntly should have come up with his forces. So accompanied with [William Graham] the Duke of Montrose, the Earls of Glencairn [Cuthbert Cunningham], Atholl [John Stewart], and Menteith [Alexander Graham], with the Lords Ruthven, Boyd, and Maxwell, where they [engage in battle] the adverse party at a village, within 2 miles of Stirling, called Bannockburn; between whom there was a cruel battle, the 11th day of June this year, 1488, wherein King James [III.] was killed, in the 29th year of his reign. After the battle, his body was carried to the monastery of Cambuskenneth [near] by. 

– Historical Works, pp.189-214.

The Baron assuredly had a long imprisonment in the king’s prison, where he had to pay a “board” to the keeper; and the discharges of Sir George Stirling of Glorat, “capitane of the castle of Dunbartane,” are carefully treasured at Kilravock. While in durance, the poor captive’s thoughts had turned to his own tower, and he found occupation in making plans for his gardens on the banks of the Nairn. He procured the services of a gardener, a burgess of Paisley, who had perhaps learnt the gentle craft in the Abbey gardens, and who entered into a very formal contract, after this manner:- 

At the Castell of Dumberton, 11 June 1536. – Thom Daueson and ane servand man with him is comyn man and servand for all his life to the said Huchon (Hugh Rose), and sall werk and lawbour his yardis, gardingis, orchardis, ayles, heggings, and stankis, and all werkis pertening to ane gardner to do, of the best fassoun may be devisit. He and his man are to have such wages as may sustene them honestlye, as use is to be gevin for sic craftis-men. 

– Sketches, pp.437-490.

About this same time [11th of June, 1552], likewise, in Edinburgh, in the Regent’s own house, the Lord [Robert] Sempill stabs to death [William Crichton] the Lord Sanquhar; for which he [would have] lost his head, if the earnest entreaty of his friends, and satisfaction to the Crichtons had not been given. 

– Historical Works, pp.275-340.

This success seems to have induced the insurgents to assume the powers of government. They issued a proclamation, on the 11th of June [1567]; stating with their usual falsehood, and disingenuity, that the Queen being detained in captivity, was neither able to govern her realm, nor to try the murder of her husband, the nobility, and council, command all the subjects, and the citizens of Edinburgh to assist, in delivering the Queen, in preserving the Prince, and in punishing the murderers of the King: They, moreover, commanded the lords of session to sit, notwithstanding the present enterprize, under the pain of being deemed the murderers of the King. Had the nobles, and council, come thus forward a month sooner, there had been some sense, and some spirit, in their proceeding: But, the Queen was not, at present, in captivity; she was not disabled from governing her realm, as we have seen; and the supposed murderer of her husband had been tried and acquitted, by the chiefs of the insurgents; while the Prince was in their own keeping. Had the chiefs of the law arrested the principal insurgents, they had immortalized themselves: But, alas! the Scots, – wha had wi’ Wallace bled, were now no more. 

– Life of Mary, pp.155-184.

About the 11th of June [1567], this same year, the most part of the nobility [rise up] in arms against the Queen, for the murder of her husband, and her marriage with his murderer, Bothwell; and with displayed banner marched against them to Borthwick castle, where they then were all that stood for her arms; and at Carberry hill did the two armies [engage in battle], where the Queen’s army was [defeated] and routed, and she herself taken prisoner, on the 15th day of the same month. She was brought to Edinburgh, and lodged in [Simon Preston] the Laird of Craigmillar’s house, the provost of the town. From this battle fled the now Duke of Orkney, with all his company; and immediately departed the kingdom, and never returned [there] again. 

– Historical Works, pp.275-340.

Burghley, in the usual style of his policy, sent commissioners, soon after the execution of Norfolk, to accuse the Scotish Queen of certain matters, with which she may be charged. 

This measure was communicated, by Elizabeth, to Shrewsbury, on the 11th of June 1572. There was a more elaborate epistle written to the Scottish Queen; informing her of the same measure; and that both houses of Parliament had earnestly petitioned her that measures might be taken against that Queen, as a person, continually, employed, in schemes to deprive Elizabeth of her crown, and to foment rebellion, in England: The Queen of Scots was now required to answer the questions which would be put to her, by the royal commissioners, plainly, and not give way to frivolous answers, which, she was told, would only injure her cause. 

The Scotish Queen might have said, generally, if I be such a character, as you describe, send me a passport, to carry me out of England: She, undoubtedly, protested against the jurisdiction of the Queen of England, and against the authority of her commissioners, to demand answers of her. 

– Life of Mary, pp.251-260.

June. 11 [1581]. – An entry in the Lord Treasurer’s books reveals the mood of the gay king and his courtiers, nine days after the bloody end of Morton. It is Sunday, and James is residing with the Duke of Lennox at Dalkeith Castle. He attends the parish church within the town, and, after service, returns, with two pipers playing before him.1

– Domestic Annals, pp.81-98.

1  ‘Item, to ane pyper and ane young boy his sone that playit in Dalkeytht upon Sonday the xj day of Junii, fra the kirk to the castell befoir his Hienes… xxs.’

June 11 [1618]. – The Privy Council was informed of ‘an abuse lately taken up by a number of young boys and pages, servants to noblemen, barons, and gentlemen.’ It was represented that these persons, ‘whenever they fund ony boy newly enterit in service, or pagerie, as they term it, lay hands upon him, and impose upon him [the payment of] some certain pieces of gold, to be spent in drinking, riot, and excess, for receiving of him in their society and brotherheid.’ It was further alleged that, ‘if ony of thir new enterit boys refuse to condescend to them this point, they do then shamefully misuse them, awaiting all occasions to harm and disgrace them;’ so that many open disturbances were the consequence. The Council issued a proclamation against these practices, threatening heavy punishment to all who might be guilty of the like in future. – P. C. R

– Domestic Annals, pp.177-227.

By an earlier minute all the town’s officers, as well as the drummers and piper, are appointed to be dressed in “coit, brekis, and hoiss of red kairsey claithe.” On one occasion, where an order is made for new uniforms, the quantity of cloth allowed to each is fixed at “fyfe eln;” but “becaus Andro Stark, Wm. Letham, Rob. Wilsoun, elder, and Robt. Glasgw ar biggar nor the rest of bodie, to ilk ane of thame half ane eln mair.” The clothes are all “to be maid be thair selfs in jupe fassoun.”1

– Old Glasgow, pp.215-237.

1  11th June, 1625.

Scotsman Article Relating to WALLACE‘S SWORD transcribed directly: 

Tuesday 11th June 1889, p. 5.


IT is more than probable that comparatively few of the reader of the Scotsman are acquainted with a very notable work the first volume of which appeared some few years ago from the pen of a still more notable writer – namely, the renowned Hajee Abdulah. 

The title of the work is the “Book of the Sword.” The cunning writer, with infinite skill and conceit peculiar to himself, has traced the history of what he quaintly terms “The White Arm” in all ages; and describes every species of sword, or knife, from the cowardly and eminently treacherous Wag-nuch [same as Wagh nakha/Bagh Nakh?] of the Mahratta chief, which, under the semblance of an affectionate embrace, is pressed with the keenness and sharpness of a tiger’s claws into the very innermost sources of life, to the open and straightforward “two-handed” weapon of our own country. 

When the Hajee Abdulah – better known, perhaps, as the explorer of the gold mines of Midian, the African traveller, the Mecca pilgrim, the interpreter of the poet Camoens, and of the “Thousand Nights and a Night,” [A Thousand and One Nights]   

“Bright music from the world where shadows are,”

and as Sir Richard Burton was preparing materials for his second volume, the present writer was called on to furnish details of certain Scottish weapons of note worthy of a place in such good company. 

Amongst others that seemed worthy of attention was the famed sword of Sir William Wallace preserved at Dumbarton Castle. It so happened that there was in the writer’s hands at the moment exact drawings, to scale, with dimensions annexed, of the “twa-handed” weapon kept at Dumbarton. These, as stated in a letter to Sir Brooke Boothby at the time – that is, in 1814 – were made by Tobiss Smollett, grand-nephew of the celebrated author of that name, or, at all events, under his personal superintendence. These details were required for the guidance of the sculptor entrusted with the preparation of the colossal statue of Wallace still to be seen in the neighbourhood of Melrose. Tracings of these drawings were made and sent to Trieste, where Sir R. F. Burton was Consul, along with such further notes as seemed likely to be of use. 

For instance, the historian of Dumbartonshire, Mr J. Irving, writing on this subject, calls attention to the fact that at the present day there are many difficulties in the way of proving that this old weapon can rightly establish an ownership so illustrious. Still it appears that mention was made of the weapon so far back as the year 1505. When King James IV. visited Dumbarton the following entry of an item of expenditure was made in the books of the Lord Treasurer, under date 8th December:- 

          “For bynding of ane riding sword and rappeyer and binding of Wallass sword with cordis of silk, and new bilt and plomet, new skabbard, and new belt to the said sword, xxvj. sb.” 

Further, it appears that in the year 1644, towards the end of May, when Provost Sempill entered anew on the guardianship of the Castle he gave a certificate in which he owns to having found and taken over amongst other things – “In Wallace Tower… ane auld twa-handed sword, without a scabbard.” “No doubt,” adds the historian, “the Wallace sword.” (See Dennistoun’s MSS. Ad. Library.) 

The following is a very exact description of the sword shown at Dumbarton Castle some years ago.

          “It measures from point to point four feet eleven and half inches, the handle being one foot two inches, and the blade itself three feet nine inches. It varies in breadth from two inches and a quarter at the guard to three quarters of an inch at the point, and weighs six pounds. It has been welded in two places, and is believed to have lost each time from six to eight inches in length. The scabbard and silk binding are now among the things that were.” 

This was in the year 1860. About the same period a chatty writer, who, issuing from the from the dreary streets of Glasgow, described in pleasant letters, entitled “Days at the Coast,” the sights that met his view “down the water,” amongst other things the “ferly” of Dumbarton. “In truth,” he says, “a gigantic blade… Large as the blade alluded to is now, it has been somewhat curtailed. A considerable fragment has been broken off the point. All signs of the fracture were obliterated, however, when it was taken to the Tower of London in 1825. With the intention of preserving it among the curiosities of that fortress… it was deemed expedient to restore it to its former and present resting-place.” 

Such were the items of description made up in a packet for dispatch to the Hajee Abdulah with the drawings aforementioned. But just on the point of dispatch the following foot-note from no less an authority than Black’s “Tourist’s Guide” met the eye of the reporter. It seems that “by direction from the War Office the sword called ‘Wallace’s Sword’ is no longer to be exhibited at Dumbarton Castle as such, it having been shown that the date of the sword could not be earlier than the time of Edward IV.” In honesty this pithy postscript had to be added to the other notes, and left for Sir R. F. Burton to deal with as he should see fit. In due course came a gracious message of thanks from Trieste. It had not escaped the eye of the author of the “White Arm” that by some curious oversight, or still more curious copying on the part of Tobias Smollett, junior, the two drawings which claimed to show the sculptor the two sides of the broken weapon could by no possible theory be made to agree as regards the details of scroll work forming the hilt. The right-hand view of the hilt and blade formed the subject of one drawing, and the left-hand view of these was shown in another. It seemed impracticable without a comparison with the original to say where the apparent error lay. 

As I have said, the second volume of this unique and entertaining work, though long looked for, has not yet seen the light of day, and I know not what use, if any, Sir Richard Burton has made of the facts faithfully reported. But within the last few months attention has once more been drawn to this questionable weapon. At a meeting of the Municipal Authorities, I believe, of Stirling it was solemnly and formally handed over for safe keeping in the tower called Wallace’s Monument, with appropriate patriotic speeches and so on. I think the present representative of the family of Ellerslie was induced to take part in the function, so that nothing was omitted to lend eclat to the occasion. Now, one or two things strike one as curious in connection with this matter. In the proceedings connected with the depositing of the sword in Wallace’s Monument, so far as I remember, the Dumbarton folk made little or no appearance. Had they considered the old weapon to be what was so plainly asserted of it at Stirling – namely, the “white” though shattered “arm” which bore a part so noble in the deliverance of our country from foreign oppression, and established our independence as a nation, it is hardly possible to think that they, shrewd folk as they are, would have been willing to let such an ornament to their town and castle go without apparently any consideration, valuable or otherwise. 

Further, I do not remember to have read of any reference to the detractive paragraph from the War Office being made or refuted in the course of the proceedings at Stirling. As for the history, private or other, of the weapon under discussion further than I have given in the notes sent to Sir R. F. Burton, I am no better than one of the “parcel of ignorant ignoramuses” prettily alluded to by an Irish counsel at a recent Dublin trial. But it will be seen that I am in an awkward position, indeed in a somewhat unenviable predicament, with the conscious presence of the “white arm” always before me, except that the Hajee Abdulah is a maitre d’armes breveté, and that he, and the only other holder of that patent with whom I am acquainted, an excellent old parish minister of the Church of Scotland, who, besides the coup de jarnac and other cunning devices with the sword, taught his pupil how to give up his life, as a Christian gentleman should, before the walls of Delhi, are models of gentleness and forbearance. But for these considerations, my position is not quite a desirable one. For if there be reasons why the fame against this weapon is unfounded, I ought to know, and communicate them without loss of time before I am called to account for furnishing defective details on a subject of considerable interest to all Scotsmen. 

Moreover, the tourist season is already upon us, coming, as such things usually do, from across the Atlantic, and promises to be one of unusual severity. And if “Black” and the War Office be indeed speaking the very truth, our American cousins and other visitors should know it, and the Wallace Monument, which has already been purged of “ginger beer” and other incongruities, should equally be cleared of questionable “nicknackets” with which we cannot afford to associate the name of our national hero, and make him ridiculous. So let the truth be spoken by those in a position to do so, and Mephistophales put to shame.” 

– Scots Lore, pp.280-282.

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