13th of July

St Analectus, martyr, 2d century. St Eugenius, bishop of Cartage, and his companions, martyrs, 505. St Turiaf, Turiave or Thivisiau, bishop of Dol, in Brittany, about 749.

Born. – Regnier de Graaf, 1641, Schoenhaven, in Holland
Died. – Pope John III., 573; Emperor Henry II., 1024; Du Guesclin, constable of France, illustrious warrior, 1380, Châteauneuf-Randon; Jean Paul Marat, French Revolutionary leader and writer, 1793, Paris.


If a grave is open on Sunday, there will be another dug in the week. 

This I believe to be a very narrowly limited superstition, as Sunday is generally a favourite day for funerals among the poor. I have, however, met with it in one parish, where Sunday funerals are the exception, and I recollect one instance in particular. A woman coming down from church, and observing an open grave, remarked: ‘Ah, there will be somebody else wanting a grave before the week is out!’ Strangely enough (the population of the place was then under a thousand), her words came true, and the grave was dug for her

If a corpse does not stiffen after death, or if the rigor mortis disappears before burial, it is a sign that there will be a death in the family before the end of the year. 

In the case if a child of my own, every joint of the corpse was as flexible as in life. I was perplexed at this, thinking that perhaps the little fellow might, after all, be in a trance. While I was considering the matter, I perceived a bystander looking very grave, and evidently having something on her mind. On asking her what she wished to say, I received for answer that, though she did not put any faith in it herself, yet people did say that such a thing was the sign of another death in the family within the twelvemonth. 

If every remnant of Christmas decoration is not cleared out of church before Candlemas-day (the Purification, February 2), there will be a death that year in the family occupying the pew where a leaf or berry is left. 

An old lady (now dead) whom I knew, was so persuaded of the truth of this superstition, that she would not be contented to leave the clearing of her pew to the constituted authorities, but used to send her servant on Candlemas-eve to see that her own seat at anyrate was thoroughly freed from danger. 

Fires and candles also afford presages of death. Coffins flying out of the former, and winding-sheets guttering down from the latter. A winding-sheet is produced from a candle, if, after it has guttered, the strip, which has run down, instead of being absorbed into the general tallow, remains unmelted: if, under these circumstances, it curls over away from the flame, it is a presage of death to the person in whose direction it points. 

Coffins out of the fire are hollow oblong cinders spirted from it, and are a sign of a coming death in the family. I have seen cinders, which have flown out of the fire, picked up and examined to see what they presaged; for coffins are not the only things that are thus produced. If the cinder, instead of being oblong, is oval, it is a cradle, and predicts the advent of a baby; while, if it is round, it is a purse, and means prosperity. 

The howling of a dog at night under the window of a sick-room, is looked upon as a warning of death’s being near. 

Perhaps there may be some truth in this notion. Everybody knows the peculiar odour which frequently precedes death, and it is possible that the acute nose of the dog may perceive this, and that it may render him uneasy: but the same can hardly be alleged in favour of this notion, that the screech of an owl flying past signifies the same, for, if the owl did scent death, and was in hopes of prey, it is not unlikely that it would screech, and so give notice of its presence. 

   Suffolk.                                                                                                                                   C. W. J. 

On this Day in Other Sources.

THE [13th] of July, in this same year, 1249, was King Alexander III solemnly crowned at Scone. 

– Historical Works, pp.57-77.

The church judicatory, whose duty it is, to promote peace on earth, dispersed letters to the principal nobles, and appointed commissioners, to enforce the request of the assembly, for joining the secret council, whose object was to promote true religion, by abolishing papistry; “seeing that God, at this present, has begun to tread down Satan [the Queen] under foot.” And, in order to bring enthusiasm to their aid, the assembly appointed a public fast, to be held, in Edinburgh; beginning on Sunday, the 13th of July [1567], and ending, on Sunday the 20th of the same month. Yet, few, or none of the nobles paid any attention to this call; and only some of the freeholders, who were heated, by fanaticism, came, in any numbers, to Edinburgh; to fast, with Buchanan, the calumniator, and to pray, with Morton, the murderer.  

– Life of Mary, pp.155-184.

July 13 [1608]. – We hear at this time of one of the last attempts to settle a dispute by regular combat; and it is the more remarkable, as several persons were concerned on each side. On the one part stood ‘the Lord Sinclair, David Seton of Parbroth, and John Sinclair elder and John Sinclair younger, sons to the said Lord Sinclair;’ on the other were George Martin of Cardone and his three sons. A mutual challenge had passed between the parties, ‘with special designation of time, place, form, and manner of the combat,’ and the rencontre would have, to all appearance, taken place, had not some neighbours interfered to prevent it. The parties were summoned before the Privy Council, to answer for their conduct. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.177.227.

In July, 1650, Wemyss Castle was visited by Charles II. who spent a day in it; and on the 13th of July, 1657, he again slept a night at the castle. 

– Scotland Illustrated, pp.82-84.

July 13 [1697]. – James Hamilton, keeper of the Canongate Tolbooth, gave in a humble petition to the Privy Council, setting forth that ‘for a long while bygone’ he has ‘kept and maintained a great many persons provided for recruiting the army in Flanders.’ In this last spring, ‘the prisoners became so tumultuous and rebellious, that they combined together and assassinat the petitioner’s servants, and wounded them, and took the keys from them, and destroyed the bread, ale, and brandy that was in the cellar, to the value of eight pounds sterling.’ ‘Seeing the petitioner’s due as formerly is two shillings Scots per night for himself, and twelve pennies Scots for the servants for each person,’ in respect whereof he was ‘liable for ane aliment of twenty merks monthly to the poor, besides the expense of a great many servants,’ payment was ordered to him of £837, 17s. for house-dues for the recruits, during a certain term, and £107, 8s. for damages done by the mutiny. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.355-378.

Scotsman Articles Relating to WALLACE‘S SWORD transcribed directly: 

Wednesday 13 July 1825, p. 5.  

“A patriotic correspondent, indignant at the idea of the sword of Wallace being removed to London, asks if it be not the property of the people of Scotland as much as the regalia; and if the public officers are not culpable in allowing it to be removed out of the kingdom?” 

Scots Lore, pp.280-282.

   Until lately great inconvenience was experienced from the want of a sufficient supply of water. Some of the inhabitants drew it from public and private wells, and from barrels and cisterns into which rain was conveyed from the roofs of houses; while many others purchased water from persons who made a trade of carting it along the streets in large barrels, and selling it at the rate of one penny for ten gallons; the water thus sold being partly filtered from the river, and partly procured from wells and springs in the neighbourhood. In 1825 a company was formed, and an act of parliament obtained, for raising water from the river; but objections by the proprietors of the Sacel and Seedhill mills, to the abstraction of water without an amount of compensation to which the company were unable or unwilling to agree, caused the scheme to be abandoned. A few years afterwards an ingenious and much respected towns-man, James Kerr, M.D., after a laborious examination of the Gleniffer-hills, called the attention of the public to the practicability of procuring from thence an ample supply of the desired element, by the interception of the drainage and the formation of a reservoir at Stanely. The scheme having been approved of, a capital of £40,000 was speedily subscribed, and in 1835 an act of parliament for carrying the scheme into effect was obtained. The works were commenced in 1836; were opened on 13th July, 1838; and have since been in full operation. Perhaps there are none in Britain so perfect in design, and so beautifully and substantially executed. 

– Gazetteer of Scotland, Paisley, pp.477-487.



   In noticing the petition from Scotland praying that the United Kingdom shall not be called ‘England,’ Scotland being thus ignored, a London contemporary makes the following rather smart, if somewhat ‘Cocknified’ remarks:-  

   Geographers tell us of certain islands which, after forming a landmark to the mariner for centuries, begin in course of time, to sink beneath the waters, and at last leave no trace of their existence. An ancient kingdom, with traditions, a history, a character, and a creed, is, positively for the last time, about to disappear from mortal eye. On the map, it is true, Scotland has still a well-defined boundary; to Parliament she still sends representatives; to England she still despatches troops of invaders who spoil the Philistines; and wherever the sounds of controversy are heard, her musical accent falls pleasantly on the ear. But all these manifestations of vitality are deceptive. Scotland is doomed. Slowly but surely she is sinking beneath the waters of the English ocean. Her history, her legends, her heroes, her exploits, her prejudices, her theology, her language, her very existence, are all gradually fading into nothingness. In a little while only her topmasts will be visible above the waves, with Dr Guthrie on the cross-trees pronouncing the funeral oration; and Mr Cook will doubtless organise excursions to the Bass Rock to see the old kingdom make the final plunge. The news, we are aware, may start some people on both sides of the Tweed. Neither Daniel, nor St. John, nor Dr Cumming seems to have predicted so speedy a termination to Scottish history. Yet the fiat of destruction has gone forth; Professor Blackie has said so; P. Yule, major-general, London, has echoed the cry; and the country of Wallace and Bruce, Knox and Chalmers, Burns and Scott, can be saved from extinction only by a special Act of Parliament. Let us congratulate Lord Derby. He is coming into office in the nick of time. With the assistance of Lord Elcho, he may rescue an ancient kingdom from oblivion, and build himself a name that will endure when Ben Lomond shall be no more. Though momentous in its consequences, the feat is simple. He has but to decree that any Peer or Commoner who shall ignore the nationality of Scotland, by speaking of the United Kingdom as England, shall be condemned to listen to three Scotch sermons, of three hours; length, on predestination and reprobation, during each Sunday for twelve calendar months. that warning, we anticipate, will be an effectual call to repentance; should it fail, nothing will succeed, and Scotland is lost for ever.  

   Such is the burden of a memorial presented to her most gracious Majesty by certain citizens belonging to the ‘ancient kingdom’ of Scotland. We have taken the liberty of translating their language into plain English, since it bears traces of the confusing though inspiring influence of their national beverage. We trust, however, that in the operation the prayer has lost no force; for we are keenly alive to its immense importance. Though polite, it is plain; and the petitioners do not scruple to accuse her Majesty’s Ministers, the Parliament, the Press, and the English people of high treason. By the Treaty of Union, it was ‘solemnly contracted’ that the two countries should respectively cease to exist as separate States, and should become one United Kingdom, ‘under the name of Great Britain.’ Scotland had fought long to preserve her independence and nationality, and had, on the whole, succeeded: is it bearable, therefore, that only two hundred years after her union with the larger country, she should condescend to wear that country’s name? For what did Bruce fight, for what did Knox denounce Erastianism, for what did Jenny Geddes hurl her cutty stool if all Scotland’s past is to be forgotten, and the country included under the name of England, as if it were no better than Yorkshire or Ireland? Yet- the fact is undeniable – many statesmen, legislators, and authors habitually use the contemptuous appelation. Nay, when British and French fleets met at Portsmouth last year, the Duke of Somerset so far forgot his duty as to commit the unconstitutional sin. Nor does that error measure the intensity of the indictment. Royalty itself would not be exempt from blame, were it true that Royalty could do any wrong. Into the mouth of the Queen herself her Majesty’s Ministers were, on a recent occasion, so reckless as to introduce the treasonable form of speech; making her refer to the ‘meeting of the fleets of France and England’ – as if Scotland had no existence, as if no treaty of union had ever been framed, as if no whisky and no Calvinism had kept alive the Scottish nationality! And what is the consequence? Why, first of all, the ‘ignorant and the unthinking’ – in other words, all who do not regard Edinburgh as the first of cities, Burns as the first of poets, and Candlish as the first of theologians – form a false conception of the character of the Union, and the position held in that bond by the ‘ancient kingdom’ of Scotland. The custom is ‘dishonouring towards Scotland; injurious to her interests, social, political, and material; and offensive to the feelings of Scotsmen.’ It must be stopped. Sovereign, ministers, journalists, and after-dinner orators must be careful to say ‘Great Britain’ when they mean Scotland. If not they must be punished. And if they are not punished Scotland will soon disappear so completely from sight that the highest attic in the High-street of Edinburgh will be lost to the gaze of admiring Southrons.” 

– Buchan Observer and East Aberdeenshire Advertiser, Friday 13th July, 1866.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1850-1875.

Glasgow Evening Post, Saturday 13th July 1867, p.4. 


   A STRANGE DEATH. – A strange death is recorded this week of a young clerk, apparently poisoned by the bad atmosphere of a small telegraph -office room, ill-ventilated, and with four gas-burners, of which “all the clerks had complained.” This is only a rapid and compressed view of a tragedy constantly being worked out more slowly in work-rooms and offices, and approximately imitated by the poisoning and illness due to the bad ventilation of our gaslit theatres, churches, and ball-rooms. – British Medical Journal. 

Curious and Interesting Deaths.

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