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13th of August

St Hippolytus, martyr, 252. St Cassian, martyr. St Radegundes, queen of France, 587.

Born. – Matthew Terrasson, jurist, 1669, Lyons; Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, eminent chemist, 1743, Paris
Died. – Tiberius II., Roman emperor, 582, Constantinople; Emperor Louis II., 875, Milan; Pope Sixtus IV., 1484; Henri Louis du Hamel, natural philosopher, 1782, Paris; Dr Gilbert Stuart, historian, 1786, Musselburgh.


Earthquakes are of very rare occurrence in the British Isles, or, at least, such as are of sufficient violence to attract attention. Scientific observers have not yet arrived at any very definite result as to the causes of these phenomena; but it is known that, when begin, they take the form of an earth-wave, propagated over a large area in a very small space of time. Observers in distant towns, frightened by what they see and hear, seldom can tell to a second, or even a minute, when these shocks occur; but if the times were accurately noted, it would probably be found that the shocks occur at consecutive instants along a line of country. Among the small number of recorded earthquakes in Great Britain, that of 1816 takes rather a notable place. At about eleven o’clock on the evening of the 13th of August, shocks were felt over nearly the whole north of Scotland. The Scottish newspapers gave accounts which, varying in detail, agreed in general results. From Aberdeen, a letter said: ‘Where we sat, the house was shaken to the foundation; the heaviest articles of furniture were moved; and a rumbling noise was heard, such as if some heavy bodies were rolling along the roof. In many houses the bells were set ringing, and the agitation of the wires continues visible for some time after the cessation of the shock. It has been described to us, by one who was in Lisbon at that time, as exactly resembling the commencement of the earthquake in that city on the 6th of June 1807.’ This Aberdeen letter states that the shock lasted only six seconds, and seemed to travel from south-south-east to north-north-west. A letter from Perth said: ‘Persons in bed felt a sensible agitation, or rather concussion, in an upward direction; and if the bed happened to be in contact with the wall, a lateral shock was also felt. In some houses, the chairs and tables moved backwards and forwards, and even the bells were set ringing. Birds in cages were thrown down from the sticks on which they were perched, and exhibited evident signs of fear.’ A writer at Montrose said: ‘The leaves of folding-tables were heard to rattle; the fire-irons rang against the fenders, bells in rooms and passages were set ringing, in many kitchens the cooking utensils and dishes made a noise, and next morning many of the doors were found difficult to open. One gentleman observed his bookcase move from the wall, and fall back again to it… Many leaped from bed, imagining their houses were falling; while others ran down stairs in great anxiety, supposing that some accident had happened in the lower part of their houses. In this neighbourhood, two excisemen, who were on the watch for smugglers, whom they expected in a certain direction, had lain down on the ground; and when the shock took place, one of them leaped up, calling to his companion: “There they are, for I feel the ground shaking under their horses’ feet.” ‘ Forres, Strathearn, Dingwall, the Carse of Gowrie, and other towns and districts, had a similar tale to tell. At Dunkeld, the liquor was shaken out of the glasses as a family sat at supper. At Dornoch, there was a mound crossing a narrow part of the Firth, with three arches at one end for small vesse4ls to go under; those arches were thrown down. At Inverness, women fainted, and many were seen in the streets almost naked, calling out that their children had been killed in their arms. Many houses were damaged, and almost the whole were forsaken by the inhabitants, who fled under an impression that a second shock might occur… The walls of many houses were rent from top to bottom, and several of the largest stones thrown down on the roof.’ One of the scared inhabitants declared, that ‘he was tossed in his bed, as he had never been tossed out at sea, for full five minutes;’ and other ludicrous misstatements of a similar kind were made. there is no evidence that any lives were lost.


Of all the country sports appertaining to the upper classes during the middle ages, hawking may be fairly considered as the most distinctively aristocratic. It was attended with great expense; its practice was overlaid with a jargon of terms, all necessary to be learned by the gentleman who would fit himself for the company of others in the field; and thus hawking, in the course of centuries, became a semi-science, to be acquired by a considerable amount of patience and study.

To be seen bearing a hawk on the hand, was to be seen in the true character of a gentleman; and the grade of the hawk-bearer was known also by the bird he bore. Thus, the gerfalcon was appropriated to a king; the falcon-gentle, to a prince; the falcon of the rock, to a duke; the peregrine-falcon, to an earl; the merlin, to a lady; and so on through the various ranks. The goshawk was permitted to the yeoman; the nobby, to a young man; while the ordinary serving-men were allowed to practise with the kestrel. Priests were permitted the sparrow-hawk, but the higher clergy were, of course, allowed to use the birds pertaining to their rank; and their love of the sport, and pride of display, are satirised by many writers of their own era. In a poem on the evil times of Edward II., preserved in the Auchenleck MS. (Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh), the author complains that –

‘These abbots and priors do again1 their rights,
 They ride with hawk and hound, and counterfeit knights.’

The constant connection of man and bird was in some degree necessitated, that it might know its master’s voice, and be sufficiently familiar with, and obedient to him. It was laid down as a rule in all old manuals of falconry, that the sportsman constantly attend to the bird, feed him, and train him daily; and very minute are the rules laid down by authors who have, like Dame Juliana Berners, written on field-sports. To part with the hawk, even in circumstances of the utmost extremity, was deemed highly ignominious; and by the ancient laws of France, a knight was forbidden to give up his sword and his hawk, even as the price of his ransom. 

The engraving [above], copied from a book on field-sports, published in 1614, and entitled A Jewell for Gentrie, gives us the full costume of a hawker, as well as a curious specimen of the fashion of the day. It represents James [VI.], as his majesty appeared in the field. He wears a high copatain hat and feather; a close-fitting jerkin, slashed and decorated with band of lace; his breeches are in the very height of fashion, stuffed and padded to an enormous extent about the hip, tapering toward the knee, and covered with lace and embroidery. To his girdle is hung the large purse in which the hawker carried the implements necessary to the sport, or the hood and jesses removed from the hawk, which was perched on the left hand. This hand was protected from the talons of the bird by being covered with a thick glove, often highly enriched with needle-work and spangles. In his right hand the king carries a staff, which was used to assist the bearer when following the flight of the hawk on foot, in leaping a rivulet or ditch. 

The dress of the hawk may now be described. It consisted of a close-fitting hood of leather or velvet, enriched with needle-work, and surmounted with a tuft of coloured feathers, for use as well as ornament, inasmuch as they assisted the hand in removing the hood when ‘the quarry’ (or birds for the hawk’s attack) came in sight. A series of leathern and silken straps were affixed to the legs, to train the hawk in short flights, and bring him back to hand; or to hold him there, and free him entirely for a course at the game, by means of the jesses and tyrrits or rings.

A small strap, fastened with rings of leather, passed round each leg of the hawk, just above the talons; they were termed bewets, and each of them had a bell attached. In a flight of hawks, it was so arranged that the different bells varied in tone, so that ‘a consort of sweet sounds’ might be produced. We engrave two specimens of hawk’s bells of mixed metal, which were found in the mud of the Thames, and are still sonorous, one being an octave under the other.

The practice of hawking appears to have suddenly declined in the early part of the seventeenth century. The expense and trouble of training the birds were great, and the improvement effected in firearms made shooting a more convenient and certain sport. Fowling-pieces of a light and elegant kind were manufactured, and to suit the tastes of the wealthy, were inlaid with gold and silver, or enriched by carving the stock with elaborate ornament in relief. ‘The art of shooting flying’ was cultivated with assiduity, giving novel interest to field-sports, and hawking lost its charm for ever.

1  That is, act against.

On this Day in Other Sources.

At Dunbarton castle, the Queen, who was, then, in the fifth year of her age, was delivered to Mons. De Breze, who had been sent by Henry II., to receive her. She was attended, by Lady Fleming, her relation, being the natural daughter of James IV. [Mary’s grandfather]: and, she was accompanied by her four Marys: These were her schoolfellows, and playmates, at present; they were designed, to be her attendants, and friends, through life; endeared to her, by the recollection of their youthful hours having been passed, in a happy communion together. They attended upon her, even after her marriage; and they returned with her to her distracted kingdom. Her two Governors, Lord Erskine, and Lord Livingston, continued to perform that trust, by attending her to France, with her two subordinate instructors, the Prior of Inchmahome, and the Parson of Balmaclellan. The Queen was, also, accompanied, by three natural brothers: Robert, commendator of Holyrood-house; by John, commendator of Coldingham; and above all, by the Lord James, the commendator of St. Andrews, who had a numerous attendance of writers, statesmen, and warriors, while he was not yet seventeen. The gallies of France, with those illustrious passengers, did not sail, from the Clyde, till towards the end of July 1548. This fleet arrived, at Brest, on the 13th of August 1548, after losing one of the gallies, which was taken, by an English ship. 

– Life of Mary, pp.9-15.

THE Scotish Queen, certainly arrived, at Brest, on the 13th of August 1548, whatever may have been, contrarily, said, by ignorance. 

– Life of Mary, pp.15-41.

By proclamation, the 13th day of August [1599], [those of the] name of Ruthven [were] inhibited to come near the King or court, within 10 miles, under the pain of treason; 

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

In later times the intimate relations which prevailed between Scotland and France were the cause of the introduction into the Scottish language of many words which are still retained, and which are unknown in the vernacular of England; such as jigot, ashet (assiette), caraffe, and many others; and in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries we have frequent examples, in stating sums or dates, of the use of French idiom. For example there is mention in our burgh records of a head court held at Glasgow on “the xix day of Januare, the ʒeir of God IMVclx “threttene yeirs” – the soixante treize of the French. In an entry in the council records (13th August, 1660) a sum is written “thrie scoir twelfe pounds.” In another minute mention is made of the occasion when the tanners “paises” their hides – that is, weighs them – from peser; and there are many other similar examples. 

– Old Glasgow, pp.56-68.

One James Corss, a native of the city, represents to the magistrates that having “studied the knowledge of mathematicks, and obtained ane competent knowledge thairin and vthir sciences thairto belonging, being naturallie adicted thairto from his infancie,” he desires to take up a school in the city “for teaching of their airtes and sciences in the vulgar native tongue quhilk hes not been done formerlie in this kingdome for want of encuragments thereto, and the tyes of birth and educatioune press him to mak the first proposells thereof to this his native toune.” Such an appeal was not to be resisted, and the magistrates grant the licence, and “promiss heirby to him their best encuragments…”1

– Old Glasgow, pp.276-289.

1  13th Aug. 1660.

Taken seriatim, the records of the Tolbooth contain volumes of entries made in the following brief fashion:- 


“- Aug. 13 [1662]. – Robert Reid for murder. His head struck from his body at the mercat cross.” 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.123-138.

Aug. 13 [1692]. – The boy carrying the post-bag on its last stage from England was robbed by ‘a person mounted on horseback with a sword about him, and another person on foot with a pistol in his hand, upon the highway from Haddington to Edinburgh, near that place thereof called Jock’s Lodge [a mile from town], about ten hours of the night.’ The robbers took ‘the packet or common mail with the horse whereon the boy rode.’ The Privy Council issued a proclamation, offering a reward of a hundred pounds for the apprehension of the offenders, with a free pardon to any one of them who should inform upon the rest. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.342-354.

When the French revolution threatened destruction to all records, and especially those of monarchy and the priesthood, the poor brethren of the Scots College were not found well fitted to resist the storm.1

– Sketches, Appendix I.

1  Alexander Gordon, then principal, writes to his friend, Andrew Lumisden, – “Will you believe that, since 13 August [1792], the Scots College has been twice filled with an armed banditti; and that the first time, I was conducted, surrounded by four national guards, to the Section, in order to take their new oath, which I absolutely refused to take. I consented to take oath that I would do nothing against their liberté egalité et proprietés, and that was all I would promise. I leave Paris for a time, because non tam timenda proscriptio quam universorum interitus; such is the rage of the parties that divide this devoted-to-ruin country. Your letter to Mr. D’Aubenton was sent. May all that is good attend you, my dear friend, and believe me unalterably yours.” – Letter among the Lumisden Papers in the possession of Mr. Dennistoun.

   “… We would caution our countrymen against the Irish system of complaint, and would have them to go to work in a steady and temperate manner. In the first place, let us seek to get an increase of members, when the proper time comes – that, we think, may be contended for as an act of simple justice. Let our representatives be well selected, and well schooled after they have been selected, and then our affairs will be vigilantly seen to. But let there be no mistake in deciding as to what constitutes fidelity to Scotch interests – we should be sorry if this movement were to degenerate into a dirty scramble for money grants, and a trumpery agitation for the revival of sinecures – it were but degradation in the extreme, if every time that England draws a shilling, and Ireland sixpence, Scotland should be bawling out for its twopence. This would never do – we must rather move on – and the best way to do this, is not to raise Scotland to the height of England and Ireland, but to bring them down to the level of Scotland. Let the policy of our representation be to refuse sternly all places, pensions, and grants to others, that are denied to us; and this on the ground that, as we have been able to get on without them, so may they. Let them thus start light-weighted with us in the race, and let there be a generous contention, whether John, Alexander, or Patrick, shall at their own charge, produce the best police, the best physicians, the best philosophers, the best sculptors, the best painters, the best citizens, the best everything. And this will be ‘Justice to Scotland.’ ”

   “Her Majesty, like the rest of her intelligent subjects, is, we doubt not, quite aware of the weight that is due to the solemn talk about the Treaty of Union and Act of Security, and can fully appreciate the patriotic zeal which is ever ready to produce antiquated sanctions for modern abuses. She is not likely, therefore, to be much alarmed by the forced and absurd construction which Dr. Macfarlane would put upon the Royal Oath. Fortunately for the relief of her conscience, the Treaty of Union, like the British Constitution itself, has, according to the enthusiastic supporters of both, been so often infringed already that there should be nothing to destroy.”

– Aberdeen Herald and General Advertiser, Saturday 13th August, 1853.

N.B. This vast difference in representation between England and Scotland meant that any vetoing of expenditure in England by the Scottish representatives would have been overwhelmingly rejected. This lends to the argument regarding the inequality within Westminster.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1850-1875.

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