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 crowd 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.

For more than two centuries, the keeping of the weights and measures for Scotland was committed to the care of the town of Lanark. The old act of the 20th June, 1617, bears, “in respect that the keeping and outgiving of the weights of old to the burrows and others, &c. was committed to the burgh of Lanark,” the “care of the weights” should be again intrusted to it. These olden national standards are still preserved, and bear the arms of the burgh, viz. a spread eagle with two heads.

– Gazetteer of Scotland, Lanark, pp.206-211.

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.

Montrose reaching the north bank of the Dee, proceeded immediately to Aberdeen, which he entered without opposition. So exasperated were Montrose’s followers at the repeated instances of devotedness shown by the inhabitants to the royal cause, that they proposed to raze, the town and set it on fire; but they were hindered from carrying their design into execution by the firmness of Montrose. The covenanters, however, treated the inhabitants very harshly, and imprisoned many who were suspected of having been concerned in opposing their passage across the Dee; but an end was put to these proceedings in consequence of intelligence being brought on the following day; viz., on the twentieth of June [1639], of the treaty of pacification which had been entered into between the king and his subjects at Berwick, upon the eighteenth of that month. On receipt of this news, Montrose sent a despatch to the earl of Seaforth, who was stationed with his army on the Spey, intimating the pacification, and desiring him to disband his army, with which order he instantly complied. 

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

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.

   Sir Charles Turner objected to the motion. He said it would be a revival of that barbarous feudal system which was almost abolished in Scotland. The Scots were undoubtedly a brave people, but the Highlanders carried that bravery to savage ferocity. They were not men whose violent passions ought to be trusted with arms; even in appearance they carried terror with them. Let one instance satisfy gentlemen;- In the rebellion 1745, three ragged Highlanders without breeches, frightened a whole English village out of their senses. If the empire is to be armed, I am for no partial armament – Let every man, without distinction, take his firelock – I hate that badge of slavery the red coat – Let every citizen have the means of defending his own fire-side – I am for no standing armies of any kind – A militia is a standing army, and a Highland militia the worst of standing army. 

   A few more gentlemen spoke; after which the motion was agreed to 

   The bill was afterwards brought in, and read a first time. 

   Upon the 20th of June [1782], a motion being made for the second reading. 

   The Secretary of War moved, “That it be an instruction to the Committee, that they so make provision in the said bill for enabling persons who have been sworn and inrolled to serve in the said militia, to enlist into other forces.” 

The Marquis of Graham declared his amazement at a clause of this kind being introduced when a Scots Militia was proposed. Was there ever such a measure proposed in regard to the English? Then why should the Scots submit to such an insult? Were they in having a Militia, to be used only as recruiting serjeants for the army? Let the English first set them the example, and I pledge myself the Scots will not be averse to follow it. That they stand in need of a Militia, no man will deny. If any man has a doubt of it, let him but consider for a moment how their coasts have been insulted by every petty privateer, and their towns attacked, without being able to defend themselves, and he will at once be convinced. If then the necessity is allowed, what shadow of a right has England to stand on better grounds than Scotland. He thought long ere this all invidious distinctions had ceased; should the bill be clogged with this filthy clause, he was certain Scotland would rather never have a Militia.

– Caledonian Mercury, 7th January, 1793.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1750-1800.

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.]

In the report of Convocation (June 20, 1861), a little error in punctuation caused the deliverance of one bishop to appear in the following startling form:- 

   “His contention (said the report) was that there was nothing in the Mosaic narrative; which was at variance with the discoveries of modern science.” 

What he meant of course was, not that there was nothing in the Mosaic narrative, but that in the Mosaic narrative, there was nothing at variance with science. 

– Book of Blunders, pp.16-19.


(From the Morning Journal.)

   It would be idle probably to inquire what views Mr Disraeli, as a statesman, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the leader of the House of Commons, entertains of the present status and future place of the ancient kingdom called Scotland in the British Empire. The truth is that statesmen, in this hurry scurry age of ours, think very little on such matters until they are forced upon their attention; and Scotland has been much too busy of late years multiplying her wealth, paying taxes, developing the Imperial revenue, and supporting far beyond her relative share the strength and prosperity of the United Kingdom, to have had much care for the exact adjustment of her political relations. We are a non-agitating, politically quiescent, and singularly modest people north of the Tweed. Mr Disraeli may be condoned, therefore, for having almost forgotten in his redistribution scheme that there is such a place as Scotland on the map of Great Britain. But the question is worthy of consideration, and cannot be consigned to oblivion, notwithstanding. What is Scotland, whence has she come, whither does she go? For one thing, it is quite clear from the Ministerial redistribution scheme that Scotland is not deemed in high quarters either a part of England, or part of a United Kingdom; but this flies in the face of the Treaty of Union, and the redistribution scheme may have been convinced without any reference to historical facts or international obligations. We are not included in the English Reform Scheme, and therefore would seem not to be a part of England. On the other hand, Mr Disraeli is of opinion that justice cannot be done to Scotland by taking anything from England, and so Scotland and England cannot be parts of a united kingdom. What the deuce, in these circumstances, can Scotland be? Is it a colony, a foreign dependency, a comet or a meteor, a ‘rebel’ North conquered but not yet reconstructed, a British Java yielding much to, but receiving nothing from the Sovereign State? Whatever Scotland may be, she is an excellent milch cow. there is no doubt about that. The revenue of Scotland paid into the national exchequer has increased by sixty-seven per cent. since 1832, while the revenue of England has increased only seventeen per cent. When taxes are to be imposed, or services are demanded, the Imperial Government knows no difference betwixt England and Scotland. The Tweed, which is almost ceasing to be a geographical, has long been totally disavowed as a fiscal boundary. Every new tax proposed in England is extended to Scotland as a matter of course, and from no tax or burden imposed on England has Scotland ever thought or dreamed of shrinking. She has a notion handed down through some generations that she joined England on equal terms, in circumstances of some glory and honour to herself, and when there was revenue to be raised or blood to be shed, she has never swerved from this sentiment of equality. On the contrary, always glad and proud when she accomplished more for the common partnership than England accomplished or could have accomplished for herself. The only fiscal distinction is when the Imperial Legislature thinks it expedient, for certain wise and moral reasons, lays a heavier burden on Scotland than would be borne in the present state of public morality in Scotland. Thus an excise duty is levied on the whisky of Scotland some three times greater than the duty of beer of England. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer can make money by the admission, he is quite willing to admit that Scotland is an entirely separate nation. When Scotland takes up this notion herself, and displays a pardonable pride in her ancient name, and in her treaty rights as an independent kingdom, all England scouts the assumption, and declares it to be absurd and ridiculous. When Scotland has anything to give, or any part to perform in the common cause and service of the Empire, England and she are one and indivisible; but when there is anything she is entitled to receive, when she has any right to assert, any power or privilege to claim, she is an alien and a hireling, and is thought well enough served with the crumbs which fall from the master’s table. The present question of representation goes to the root of all this contradiction of terms and all this practical injustice. Scotland is really a helot, and must remain a helot, if she cannot at this crisis make good her due share of representation in Parliament… The opinion of Mr Disraeli that Scotland should be redressed by the creation of entirely new seats does not concern us at all. This is a question for the House. Justice may be done in either way, since it is only because England has too many that Scotland can be said relatively to have too few…”

– Stirling Observer, Thursday 20th June, 1867.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1850-1875.


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