20th of June – St Fillan’s Day

St Silverius, pope and martyr, 538. St Gobain, priest and martyr, 7th century. St Bain, Bishop of Terouanne, or St Omer, about 711.


Born. – Dr Adam Ferguson, historian, 1723, Logierait, Perthshire
Died. – Charles Coffin, French poet, 1749; Charles Frederick Abel, musical composer, 1787; William IV., King of Great Britain, 1837, Windsor.



The scaffold has had its code of etiquette. When the Duke of Hamilton, Earl of Holland, and Lord Capel were beheaded, they were brought to the block one by one, according to their rank – the duke first, earl next, and baron last. When Capel was going to address the crows with his hat on, he was told to take it off, such being the custom of the scaffold. At a later period, the Earl of Kilmarnock, waiving his right with graceful politeness, offered Lord Balmerino the sad precedence; but the sheriffs objected, saying they could not permit the established etiquette to be infringed.* With the lower orders, however, there was less ceremony. 

The ghastly implements of the executioner have been recognised in heraldry. A grandee of Spain bears in his coat-armour a ladder with a gibbet. The wheel, block, and axe, the rack, and other implements of torture are borne by several German houses of distinction; and the Scottish family of Dalziel bear sable a hanged man with his arms extended argent; formerly, as the herald informs us, ‘they carried him hanging on a gallows.’


On this day in Other Sources.


There was a St. Fillan who flourished in the sixth century, and gave name to the village of St. Fillans in Comrie parish, Perthshire. He is described as of Rath-Erenn (i.e., the fort of the Earn), now Dundurn, near St. Fillans. His festival was held on the 20th June. 

– Scots Lore, pp.253-259.


The Fillan of the sixth century, disciple of St. Ailbe, who gave his name to the site at the south end of Loch Earn, was commemorated on the 20th of June; but the St. Fillan’s Fair at Killallan was held in January. 

– Scots Lore, pp.286-292.


In May this same year, comes [Archibald Douglas] the [Count] of Longueville and Marquis of Saluzzo, ambassadors from Charles VII,, of France, to demand the Lady Margaret, (now of age,) the King’s eldest daughter, to be sent over to her husband Louis [XI], the Dauphin, as also to renew the ancient amity between the two crowns. Immediately the King commands all to be in readiness; so that [by] the 20th of June [1435],* William Sinclair, Earl of Orkney, Lord Admiral of Scotland, had 46 good ships in readiness to transport Lady Margaret and her train. 

– Historical Works, pp.153-166. 

*  Barbe, in his ‘Margaret of Scotland and the Dauphin Louis,..’ (1917), suggests they left for France on the 27th of March, 1436. arriving towards the end of April.


A parliament [was held] by the Queen Regent, at Edinburgh, the 20th of the month of June, this year [1555]. In it was the revocation of the Queen ratified, and ordained to be published, which was [signed] with her hand, at Fontainebleau, in France this same year, that none eat flesh in Lent, but [by] license; that procuratories, and instruments of resignation, be sealed and [signed]; that all notaries, in time coming be examined and admitted by the Lords of Session, and their protocols marked; that no staple commodity, such as wool, be carried into England; that the wood of Falkland be cut, and [enclosed] again; that no goldsmith, under the pain of death, make any silver work under the goodness of 11 penny fine; and lastly, that none speak evil of the Queen Regent’s grace, or of Frenchmen, the Christian King’s subjects: with diverse other acts of less public concernment. 

– Historical Works, pp.275-340.


We are now arrived, by the foregoing progress, at the 20th of June 1567, the epoch of the supposed discovery of a boxful of love letters, from the Queen to Bothwell; from a married woman to a married man, from a wife, who wished to save her husband, to a conspirator, who was leagued to murder him. 


Such, then, are the previous facts, and circumstances, to the discovery, on the 20th of June 1567, of a boxful of love letters, from the Queen to Bothwell. Morton, the conspirator, asserted, that he had arrested one Dalgleish, a servant of Bothwell, carrying this box, from Sir James Balfour, the governor of Edinburgh castle, to Bothwell, at Dunbar. But, none of the contemporary writers mention when, and where, Dalgleish was arrested, with that box. 


In all the consultations of the insurgent nobles, from the 20th of June till the 4th of December 1567, there is not the least intimation, of any box, letters, in any of the public papers. In the rebellious bond, which was entered into, for crowing the Queen’s son, and supporting his government, there is not any insinuation that any letters of the Queen had been found, which would have been so apposite; neither is there any charge. The noble insurgents chose to have, for their ruler, a boy thirteen months old, who had neither title nor ability, rather than his mother, who had the right, and competency. But, though those miscreants made no direct charge against their sovereign, they shaped their criminations of Bothwell, in such a manner, as to raise insinuations, as well as popular clamour, against her. If such letters, then, had come into their power, on the 20th of June, they would have certainly converted such insinuations into direct charges; as the foundation of their future measures: This they would have done, rather than suffer their commitment, to stand on vague, and unmeaning assertion. As they forged a letter, to justify her commitment to Lochleven castle, this example shows, that they had not any scruples, to adopt similar means, to justify themselves, and to charge the Queen. The next difficulty, which occurred to the noble insurgents, in their career of usurpation, was to obtain the Queen’s resignation of her crown, to effect which, they used artifices, threats, and violences: but, if the letters had been in their hands, at the end of July, they had only to produce them, to obtain their purpose. Their purpose of forging such letters seems to have, only, been men, within their contemplation; and would have been executed, if their artifices, threats, and violences, had not obtained her resignation. 

– Life of Mary, pp.155-184.


Her private letters, written, and signed, and sent by her to Bothwell, were the only proofs, which they now brought against her: But, where, and when, and how, were those interesting letters found? Morton, the falsifier, averred, that not far from Edinburgh castle, on the 20th of June then passed, he had intercepted Bothwell’s servant, Dalgleish, bearing a gilt box, full of the Queen’s private letters, from Sir James Balfour, the governor of Edinburgh castle, to Bothwell, at Dunbar. Such is the averment of this falsifier; this assassin of Rizzio; this murderer of the King. Dalgleish was still alive; Was he sent for, and examined? No. Was he examined when taken? No. 


Like the Privy Council, the Parliament now declared, that every thing done, by the insurgent nobles, to the Queen’s person, and property, was owing to the Queen’s own fault: In so far as, by divers private letters, written wholly with her own hand, [but not subscribed by her, as the act of Privy Council stated] and sent by her to Earl Bothwell, the chief murderer of her husband; and, by her pretended marriage with him, soon after, she appeared to be privy, and active, in the murder of her husband. Such, then, is the substance of this act of indemnity, which is exactly the same, as the indemnities stated, in the act of Privy Council; only the Queen’s letters, which formed the great justification, both of her imprisonment, and the justification of those, who imprisoned her, in the act of council was written, and signed, by her; but in this act, the letters are stated to be only written by her. Those important epistles were said, by themselves, to have been detected, by Morton, on the 20th of June 1567: But, what justified Morton, and his guilty associates, when they made the Queen a prisoner, on the 15th of June, upon her joining those nobles, on terms, which they instantly violated? what justified those nobles, when they imprisoned, the Queen, on the 16th of June, in Lochleven castle? The answer must be, that they had no justification; as we might, indeed, infer, from the inanity of the warrant of commitment. The chief justification, we see, was the Queen’s letters, whether written, and signed, or written only, by her, they could not tell; but, it is of more importance to enquire, what steps were ever taken to fortify the assertion of such a notorious falsifier, as Morton? The answer must be, that no steps were hitherto taken, to support Morton’s assertion, on which both the Privy Council, and the Parliament, relied without any inquiry. The letters, as we have seen, were not produced, in the Privy Council, on the 4th of the current month: We shall, immediately, perceive, that they were not laid before the Parliament. The act is quite silent, on this important point: It contains no recital, that the letters were laid before the house, or were ever seen, by any of the members. De non apparentibus, et non existentibus eadem est ratio: What does not appear, in nature, or art, or in policy, must be supposed, not to exist. The coincidence of the two acts of Privy Council and of Parliament, in their silence, on this important head, is satisfactory proof, that the Queen’s supposititious letters, were not laid before either.  

It seems now to be pretty apparent, that those supposititious letters were never shown, in Scotland, where they could have been detected. They were shown, however, in England. And the Queen, no sooner heard, that her opponents had such letters, in their possession, than she ordered her commissioners to protest, most solemnly, that she had never written such letters; that there were several persons, in Scotland, who could counterfeit her writing. Here, then, have we the Queen’s solemn denial, with probability, opposed to Morton’s falsehood, and Maitland’s forgery, with improbability. The four first letters, in Goodalls’ series, were said to be written, from Glasgow, in January 1567, while the Queen was elsewhere, if we may credit public records, rather than unauthorized assertions. The period chosen, for forging such supposititious letters, was the very moment, when, being reconciled to her husband, she went to Glasgow, to bring him to Edinburgh. We may thus perceive, then, that the four letters, which were supposed to be sent, from Glasgow, were obvious forgeries. 

– Life of Mary, pp.184-206.


On the 20th of June, 1610, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh exhibited to his Council two gowns, one black, the other red, trimmed with sable, the gift of King James, as patterns of the robes to be worn by him and the bailies of the city. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.198-203.


June 20 [1623]. – ‘… the king’s picture in the hall of the palace of Linlithgow fell… and brake in pieces. The like befell the king of France’s picture, in that same place, six weeks before his death.’ – Cal

– Domestic Annals, pp.177-227.


The charter of William the Lyon was confirmed in 1223 by Alexander II, and again by David II in 1367. The various immunities and privileges conferred upon the burgh [of Ayr] by these charters, received an ample confirmation by an act of Charles I, and the estates of parliament, 20th June, 1632. 

– Select Views, pp.153-158.


In 1674 the citizens were favoured by the residence among them of a certain “Mistres Cumyng mistres of maners;” but this lady, finding that she was not sufficiently appreciated, threatened to leave the town, a calamity which the magistrates thought would prove so “prejudiciall to this place, and in particular to theis who hes young weomen to breid therin,” that they undertook to pay her “ane hundreth marks yeirlie in all tyme coming to pay her houss maill so long as shoe keepes a school and teaches childerin as formerlie.”1 Some thirty years afterwards a charge appears in the city accounts of a pension paid “to a schoolmistress for teaching young gentlewomen.” 

– Old Glasgow, pp.276-289. 

1  20th June, 1674.


Romance of the Highlands.

OUR old acquaintance, the Dumfries Courier, relates the following wonderful story:- 

“CUNNING OF THE FOX. – A gentleman in the Highlands sends us the following note:- A gamekeeper on the estate near Lochawe, who had been annoyed by the depredation of foxes, discovered a kennel in a glen at the side of a small loch. While watching one evening for the appearance of the tenants, he observed a brace of wild ducks floating on the loch. In a little a fox was seen approaching the water side with cautious steps. On reaching it, he picked up a bunch of heather and placed it in his mouth, so as to cover his head; then slipping into the water, and immersing all but his nose, he floated slowly and quietly down to where the birds were quacking out delight in fancied security, seeing nothing near them but a bunch of weed. In due time, he neared the ducks, dropped the heather and substituted a bird, with which he returned to the loch side, and was making off to his young with the prize when—” 

“Come, I say, now, nonsense!” will be the mental exclamation of nine hundred thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine of our million readers, on reaching this point of our Scotch contemporary’s transparent romance. The conclusion, however, of that tale is still more incredible than the part preceding; too incredible even for fiction. The fox, as above related, was making off to his young with the duck, when— 

“The keeper, who had noted all his movements, closed them by the discharge of his double barrel.” 

The idea of shooting a fox! As if any Briton, north or south, could be capable of such an act! The statement that a fox was the victim of such a monstrous atrocity, is a fitting clincher to the legend of his miraculous cunning. Country gentlemen need not waste their indignation on the anonymous Highland keeper. Reynard was shot with no double-barrel: by no more deadly projectile than the shaft of an editorial long bow. – June 20, 1857., p.243. 


[This is interesting as we can go to YouTube and see multitudes of differing species attracting their prey in all kinds of incredibly intelligent ways, e.g., the bird that drops a wee bit of bread continuously into the water until a fish comes up for it, at which point it becomes the bird’s dinner. Also this was just at the end of the Highland Clearances so the idea that a keeper/factor would be capable of inhumanely throwing humans out their homes and off their land but not shoot an animal he considered to be a pest is ridiculous. Not to mention fox-hunting is really still a pastime of the English aristocracy they’re determined, at the moment, to end the laws against.]

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