23rd of August

Saints Claudius, Asterius, Neon, Domnina, and Theonilla, martyrs, 285. St Theonas, archbishop of Alexandria, 300. St Justinian, hermit and martyr, about 529. St Apollinaris Sidonius, confessor, bishop of Clermont, 482. St Eugenius, bishop in Ireland, 618. St Philip Beniti, confessor, 1285.

Born. – Louis XVI., king of France, 1754, Versailles; William Frederick I., king of the Netherlands, 1772; Friedrich Tiedemann, physiologist, 1781, Cassel.
Died. – Flavius Stilicho, great Roman general, beheaded at Ravenna, 408; Sir William Wallace, Scottish hero, 1305, executed at Smithfield, London; Jacques Vergier, poet and tale-writer, assassinated at Paris, 1720.


Edward I. of England having by craft and violence taken military possession of Scotland; the chief nobles of the land having submitted to him; it was left to a young gentleman of Renfrewshire, the celebrated William Wallace, to stand forth in defence of the expiring liberties of his country. He was, in some respects, well fitted to be a guerilla chief, being of lofty stature and hardy frame, patient of fatigue and hardship, frank in his manners, and liberal to his associates, while at the same time of sound judgment and a lover of truth and justice. The natural ascendancy of such qualities quickly put him at the head of large, though irregular forces, and he won an important victory at Stirling over some of Edward’s principal officers (Sept. 11, 1297). A month later, he and Andrew of Moray are found, under the title of Duces exercitus regni Scotiæ [the captains of the army of the Kingdom of Scotland], administering in national affairs – sending two eminent merchants to negotiate with the two Hanse towns of Lubeck and Hamburg. Next year, in a public document, Wallace appears by himself under the title of Custos regni Scotiæ [the guardian of the Kingdom of Scotland].* During this interval of authority, acting upon a cruel though perhaps unavoidable policy, he executed a complete devastation of the three northern counties of England, leaving them a mere wilderness. Edward led an army against him in person, and gaining a victory over him at Falkirk (July 22, 1298), dispersed his forces, and put an end to his power. 

While most of the considerable men submitted to the English monarch, Wallace proceeded to France, to make interest with its king, Philip the Fair, in behalf of Scotland. Philip gave him some encouragement, and furnished him (this fact has only of late become known) with a letter of recommendation to the pope. Afterwards, being glad to make peace with Edward for the sake of the recovery of his authority over Flanders, Philip entered into an agreement to deliver up the ex-governor of Scotland to his enemy. The fact, however, was not accomplished, and Wallace was able to return to his own country. Being there betrayed by Sir John Monteith into the hands of the English, he was led to London; subjected to a mock-trial at Westminster, as if he had been a traitor to his sovereign Edward I.; and, on the 23d of August 1305, put to a cruel death on Smithfield. 

The Scottish people have ever since cherished the memory of Wallace as the assertor of the liberties of their country – their great and ill-requited chief. What Tell is to the Swiss, and Washington to the Americans, Wallace is to them. It is true that he had little or no mercy for the English who fell into  his hands, and that he ravaged the north of England. If, however, the English put themselves into the position of robbers and oppressors in a country which did not belong to them, they were scarcely entitled to much mercy; and, certainly, at a time so rude as the close of the thirteenth century, they were not very likely to receive it.

*  See Balfour’s ‘Historical Works’, vol. 1, chapter Six Protectors or Governors. for more on this period of Scottish history with Wallace as Scotland’s Protector.

On this Day in Other Sources.

In 1301, when Edward I. was in Glasgow, endeavouring to bring the western shires of Scotland under his dominion, he was lodged in the convent of the Friars Preachers. It was probably the only place in the town capable of receiving the royal retinue, and like other buildings of the Dominicans it was no doubt richly furnished. Edward at this time was constant in his offerings at the high altar, and at the shrine of Kentigern, in the Cathedral, and the sums which he paid on these occasions are preserved, and also, in some instances, the occasion of the gifts. On the 23d of August, 1301, he offered seven shillings in honour of St. Bartholomew. Two days afterwards he offers the same sum in consequence of “good news which he had of the Lord Malcolm of Drumman, a Scottish knight, having been captured by the lord John of Segrave.” 

– Old Glasgow, pp.124-131.

The town of Abernethy is nearly in the centre of the parish, 3 miles west by south from Newburgh. It is a burgh of barony under Lord Douglas, coming in place of the earls of Angus. It has a charter from Archibald, Earl of Angus, Lord of Abernethy, dated August 23, 1476;…

– Gazetteer of Scotland, pp.15-18.

So departs the English army; and in their march homewards take Berwick, after the Scots had possessed it 21 years by [agreement], Sir Patrick Hepburn [Lord] of Hailes being captain thereof, 23rd day of August, this same year, 1482. 

– Historical Works, pp.189-214.

The 23rd of August this year, 1582, the King’s majesty, being in the castle of Ruthven, was kept there, [contrary to] his will, by William, Lord Ruthven, and certain other noblemen, his accomplices, and was constrained, by a warrant under his hand, after they had conducted him thence to [Stirling], to charge the Duke of Lennox, then at Edinburgh, to depart [from there], [either] to the castle of Dalkeith or of Arbroath, within 20 days to pass forth [from] Scotland to France, under the pain of treason. 

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

Alexander, his son, Master of Holyroodhouse, who died about the middle of the last century, ended the line of the family, of whom no relic now remains save the tomb of Bishop Adam, which still exists in Holyrood chapel. On the front of the third pillar from the east is a tablet with his arms – a chevron, between three trefoils slipped, with a crescent, and a very long inscription, the fist six lines of which run thus:- 

“Hic reconditus jacet nobilissimus vir 
Dominus Adamus Bothuelius, Episcopus, 
Orcadum et Zethlandiæ: Commendatorius Monasterii, 
Sancti Crucis; Senator et Consiliarius 
Regius: qui obiit anno ætatis suæ 67, 
23 die Mensis Augusti, Anno Domini 1593.”*

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.219-227.

*  Roughly translates as: 
“Here lies a man of noble treasure 
Bishop Adam Bothwell 
Orkney and Shetland: Monastery Commendator, 
Holy Cross; Senator, and Counselor 
Royal, who has died at the age of 67, 
23 day of the month of August, in the year of 1593.”

On the 23rd of [August, 1599], three of the Earl of Gowries servants were executed at Perth, Mr Thomas Cranston, George [Craigenvelt (the Butler)], and [John MacDuff] one Baron; likewise the [whole] friends, tutors, curators and children, pretending any right to the earldom of Gowrie, were summoned to [appear] before the parliament. 

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

After the first great fire the city procured a fire engine. The magistrates had heard that Edinburgh possessed one – probably the first that was in Scotland – and they sent a person to ascertain what sort of a thing it was – in the words of their minute, “to visite the engyne thair for slockening of fyre;”1 and being satisfied with the report they had one made for themselves. But it must have been a very primitive machine, and practically useless in such a conflagration as that which so soon again overtook them.

– Old Glasgow, pp.68-80.

1  23d August, 1656.

The summer of this year [1723] was remarked to be unusually dry and sultry, with little wind. the air seemed stagnant, and the water unwholesome. Vast abundance of flies resulted, and a bloody flux became prevalent. ‘In one quarter of the parish [of Eastwood, in Renfrewshire],’ says Wodrow, ‘I saw nineteen sick persons in one day [August 23], and all of them save one of the flux.’ ‘I have never seen so much sickness in East wood for twenty years.’ – Analecta

– Domestic Annals, pp.390-397.


William McGavin’s elaborate memorial reads:

the Memory
Merchant, Glasgow.
of the
&c. &c.
who died on the XXIII. of August,
aged Fifty-nine years.
Monument has been Erected
by his fellow Citizens.

Glasgow’s Cathedral & City Necropolis.

I had been wandering about Quickjok for a week, out on Vallespik frequently, searching for the Lapps, with the very glass which I had previously used to find a deer close to Clibric, which is but a small copy of the Lapland mountain.  

“Thursday, 23rd [August, 1850]. – Started to see the deer, with the priest and the Clockar, and Marcus, and the Lapp. The Lapp walked like a deer himself, aided by a very long birch pole, which he took from its hiding place in a fir tree. I had hard work to keep up with him. Marcus and the Priest were left behind. Once up through the forest, it was cutting cold, and we walked up to the ‘cota’ in two hours and a quarter. The deer was seen in the distance, like a brown speck on the shoulder of Vallespik; and with the glass I could make out that a small mortal and two dogs were driving them home. The cota is a permanent one, made in the shape of a sugar loaf, with birch sticks, and long flat stones and turf. There are two exactly alike, and each has a door, a mere narrow slit, opening to the west, and a hole in the roof to let out the smoke. I crept in, and found a girl of about fifteen, with very pretty eyes, sitting crouched up in a corner, and looking as scared as one of her own fawns. The priest said, that if we had come without our attendant genius, the small Lapp, she would have fainted, or run away to the hills. I began to sketch her, as she sat looking modest in her dark corner, and was rejoicing in the extreme stillness of my sitter, when, on looking up from some careful touch, I found that she had vanished through the door-way. I had to bribe her with bread and butter before she could be coaxed back. A tremendous row of shouting and barking outside now announced the arrival of the deer, so I let my sitter go, and off she ran as fast as she could. I followed more leisurely to the spot where the deer were gathered, on a stony hillside. There were only about 200; the rest had run off up wind on the way from the mountains, and all the other Lapps were off after them, leaving only my pretty sitter, the boy, and a small woman with bleared eyes, as ugly as sin, his sister. 

– Popular Tales, pp.xcii-civ.

   “Before the great battle of Trafalgar – as we are told – ‘Along the line the signal ran, “England expects that every man this day will do his duty.” ’ Among the British sailors were two Scotch chums from Paisley, who doubtless in their youth ‘paidled in the burn and pu’ed the gowans fine,’ the one named John and the other George. When the signal appeared it was too much for the Scottish Lion in the breast of one of them, who accosted his chum as follows:- ‘I say, Jock, what does Maister Nelson mean by saying England expects that every man this day will do his duty?’ To which his comrade replied in equal sang froid:- ‘Man, Geordie, ye’re a stupid chap. Maister Nelson kens fine that he needna tell Scotchmen to do their duty.’ Scottish honour was in this amply upheld. -I am, &c., 



– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Tuesday 23rd August, 1892.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1875-1900.

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