19th of July

St Macrina, virgin, 379. St Arsenius, anchoret, 449. St Symmachus, pope and confessor, 514. St Vincent de Paul, founder of the Lazarites, confessor, 1660.

Born. – Conrad Vorstius, or Vorst, celebrated German divine, 1569, Cologne
Died. – Professor John Playfair, writings in natural philosophy, geology, &c., 1819, Edinburgh; Iturbide, Mexican leader, shot at Padillo, 1824.


July 19, 1333, is the date of a remarkable battle between the Scots and English at Halidon Hill. Stowe’s account of the conflict if picturesque and interesting, though not in every particular to be depended on. The youthful Edward III. had laid siege to Berwick; and a large Scottish army, animated, doubtless, by recollections of Bannockburn, came to relieve the town. ‘At length,’ says Stowe, ‘the two armies appointed to fight, and setting out upon Haildon Hill [near Berwick], there cometh forth of the Scots camp a certain stout champion of great stature, who, for a fact by him done, was called Turnbull. He, standing in the midst between the two armies, challenged all the Englishmen, any one, to fight with him a combat. At length Robert Venale, knight, a Norfolk-man, requesting licence of the king, being armed, with his sword drawn, marcheth toward the champion, meeting by the way a certain black mastiff dog, which waited on the champion, whom with his sword he suddenly strake, and cut him off at his loins; at the sight whereof the master of the dog slain was much abashed, and in his battle more wary and fearful; whose left hand and head also afterward this worthy knight cut off. After this combat both the armies met, but they fighting scarce half an hour, certain of the Scots being slain, they closed their army (which was in three) all in one battle; but at length flying, the king followed them, taking and chasing them into lakes and pits for the space of five miles.’ The honest chronicler sets down the loss of the Scots infantry on this occasion at 35,000, besides 1300 horsemen, being more than ten times the loss of the British at Waterloo. Such exaggerations are common among the old chroniclers, and historian generally, before the days of statistics. More probably, the slain on the side of the vanquished did not exceed two thousand. It will be heard with some surprise, that there is preserved a song, in the English language, written at the time upon this victory of King Edward. It appears as one of a series, composed upon the king’s wars, by one Lawrence Minot, of whom nothing else is known.1 It opens with a strain of exultation over the fallen pride of the Scots, and then proceeds to a kind of recital of facts –

‘A little fro that foresaid town [Berwick], 
     Halidon Hill, that is the name, 
 There was crackèd many a crown 
     Of wild Scots,2 and als of tame.3
 There was their banner borne all down, 
     To mak sic boast they war’ to blame; 
 But, nevertheless, ay are they boune 
     To wait England with sorrow and shame.
 Shame they have, as I hear say; 
     At Dundee now is done their dance; 
 And went they must another way, 
     Even through Flanders into France. 
 On Philip Valois fast cry they, 
     There for to dwell, and him avance; 
 And nothing list them than of play, 
     Sin’ them is tide this sary chance.
 This sary chance is them betide, 
     For they were false and wonder fell; 
 For cursed caitiffs are they kid, 
     And full of treason, sooth to tell. 
 Sir John the Cumin had they hid, 
     In haly kirk they did him quell;4
 And therefore many a Scottis bride 
     With dole are dight that they must dwell.’

The bard then changes to another strain, in which he joyfully proclaims how King Edward had revenged Bannockburn:

‘Scots out of Berwick and of Aberdeen, 
 At the Bannockburn war ye too keen; 
 There slew ye many saikless, as it was seen, 
 And now has King Edward wroken it, I ween: 
     It is wroken, I ween, weel worth the while, 
     War it with the Scots, for they are full of guile.
 Where are the Scots of St John’s town? 
 The boast of your banner is beaten all down; 
 When ye boasting will bide, Sir Edward is boune 
 For to kindle you care, and crack your crown; 
     He has cracked your crown, well worth the while; 
     Shame betide the Scots, for they are full of guile.’
1  See Political Poems and Songs relating to English History. Published under direction of the Master of the Rolls. 1859. Vol. i. 
2  Highlanders. 
3  Lowlanders. 
 4  Alluding to the murder of Cumin by Robert Bruce in the Greyfriars’ Church at Dumfries.

On this Day in Other Sources.

The 19th day of July, this year [1374], died that famous poet, Francesco Petrarca [Petrarch], the restorer of the Latin tongue from barbarism, and the glory of the Italian and Etruscan language, aged 70 years. 

– Historical Works, pp.124-133.

In 1457, the Thane of Cawdor and Mr. Thomas Carmichael, canon of Moray, held jointly the office of King’s chamberlains beyond Spey, and rendered their accounts of the whole income and expense connected with the Crown property of that district, at Linlithgow, on the 19th of July of that year. 

– Sketches, pp.395-436.

The insurgents had promptly assembled their followers, and had even cut off the communication, between the capital and the more western districts: But, their pretences of religion, when they were opposing a marriage, were not felt, by their countrymen. The Queen’s marriage with Darnley was fit in itself, and beneficial to the nation. No one considered, that the presumptive title of the Duke to the throne, or that the spurious claims of Murray, ought to stand in the way of the Queen’s marriage. Her whole conduct, like her predecessor, Duncan, had been so gracious, that she enjoyed the public confidence: And when she summoned her barons and people, to assemble around her, they obeyed her summons, with alacrity: So many of the nobles, and gentry, and their followers, arrived at Edinburgh, on the 19th, 20th, and 21st of July [1565], that she found herself at the head of a force, which the rebels could not resist. 

– Life of Mary, pp.98-126.


970. Letter from King Charles II. to the Magistrates of the town of Glasgow, asking them to send him thirty sufficient carters and twenty workmen for the service of the train of artillery, and also eight carts with their furnishings. Royal Camp, near Larbert, 19th July, 1651. Superscribed by the King.

– Memorial Catalogue, Gallery 4.

Turn to a common business letter of 19th July 1677:- The Thane has now been married fifteen years; has a family growing up; has served in Parliament; has just returned from a visit to his western estates; and is leading the life of a country gentleman and magistrate at the castle of his forefathers. The letter is addressed to his “Loving friend,” and one whom northern barons like to consider their loving friend – William Duff, merchant in Inverness. 

– Sketches, pp.395-436.

But, before the trial of the main portion of the gang, two young gypsies, John Kerr and Helen Yorkstoun, aged respectively nineteen and twenty, were tried “for the crimes of theft, housebreaking, sorning, and of being gypsies,” and especially “of being guilty actors art and part” in the [burglaries] at Pilmour, Smeaton, and Gilmerton. When arrested in a house at the Abbey of Haddington, and brought before the local justices, they had confessed their guilt. Yet, curiously enough, the five witnesses for the prosecution in their trial at Edinburgh (on 19th July [1714]) professed absolute ignorance of anything against them, and the jury having returned a verdict of “not proven,” the prisoners were “assoilized” and dismissed from the bar. Immediately thereafter, however, the Queen’s Advocate presented a petition for their detention in prison until the trial of the rest of the gang, “having shrewd suspicion of their withdrawing of themselves and so disappoint the said tryal, they being material witnesses”; which petition was duly granted. From this and subsequent events, it seems clear that these two young gypsies had been promised an acquittal if they would give evidence tending to incriminate their leaders; and that they had yielded to the temptation. 

– Scots Lore, pp.30-35.

   “We hear the following Inscriptions were upon the Sword taken from the Earl of Cromarty, (one of the Rebel Lords in the Tower) and presented to Gen. St. Clair just before he set out for Portsmouth, viz. G-d preserve King J—-s the VIIIth of S——d, on one Side; and Prosperity to Scotland, and no Union, on the other: But these being eraz’d out, the following Words were put in their Place, God preserve King George the IId, King of Great Britain, &c. on one Side; and on the other, Prosperity to England and Scotland.” 

– Newcastle Courant, Saturday 19th July, 1746.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1700-1750.

Shortly after this ([on 19th of] July 1833) his Grace the first (and late) Duke of Sutherland, who had been some time in bad health, breathed his last in Dunrobin Castle, and was interred with great pomp in the family burying-place in the cathedral of Dornoch. The day of his funeral was ordered to be kept as a fast-day by all the tenantry, under penalty of the highest displeasure of those in authority, though it was just then herring-fishing season, when much depended on a day. Still this was a minor hardship. The next year a project was set on foot, by the same parties who formerly got up the expensive family ornaments presented to her Grace, to raise a monument to the late Duke. Exactly similar measures were resorted to, to make the small tenantry – those who had benefitted by the large sums he and the Duchess had lavished for their accommodation; but the poor small tenantry, what had been done for them? While the ministers, factors, and new tenantry, were rich and luxurious, basking in the sunshine of favour and prosperity, the miseries and oppressions of the natives remain unabated; they were emphatically in the shade, and certainly had little for which to be grateful to those whose abuse of power had brought them to such a pass – who had drained their cup of every thing that could sweeten life, and left only 

“A mass of sordid lees behind!”

– Gloomy Memories, pp.32-35.

One thought on “19th of July

Leave a Reply