31st of August

St Raymond Nonnatus, confessor, 1240. St Isabel, virgin, 1270.

Born. – Caius Cæsar Caligula, Roman emperor, 12 A.D., Antium
Died. – Etienne Pasquier, French jurist and historian, 1615, Paris; F. A. Danican (Phillidor), noted for his skill in chess-playing, 1795; Dr James Currie, biographer of Burns, 1805, Sidmouth.



On this day, in 1527, is dated the ‘ordinary’ of the corporation of weavers in Newcastle, in which, amongst other regulations, there is a strict one that no member should take a Scotsman to apprentice, or set any of that nation to work, under a penalty of forty shillings. To call a brother, ‘Scot’ or ‘mansworn,’ inferred a forfeit of 6s. 8d., ‘without nay forgiveness.’ – Brand’s Hist. of Newcastle

The superior ability of the Scottish nation, in the competitions of life, seems to have made an unusual impression on their Newcastle neighbours. To be serious – we can fortunately shew our freedom from national partiality by following up the above with an example of the like illiberality on the part of Scotland towards England. It consists of a sort of covenant entered into in the year 1752 by the drapers, mercers, milliners, &c., of Edinburgh, to cease dealing with commercial travellers from England – what were then called English Riders. ‘Considering’ – so runs the language of this document – ‘that the giving orders or commissions to English Riders (or clerks to English merchants), when they come to this city, tends greatly to the destruction of the wonted wholesale trade thereof, from which most of the towns in Scotland used to be furnished with goods, and that some of these English Riders not only enhances the said wholesale trade, but also corresponds with, and sells goods to private families and persons, at the same prices and rates as if to us in a wholesale way, and that their frequent journeys to this place are attended with high charges, which consequently must be laid on the cost of those goods we buy from them, and that we can be as well served in goods by a written commission by post (as little or no regard is had by them to the patterns or colours or goods which we order them to sent when they are here), therefore, and for the promoting of trade, we hereby voluntarily bind and oblige ourselves that, in no time coming, we shall give any personal order or commission for any goods we deal in to any English dealer, clerk, or rider whatever who shall come to Scotland.’ They add an obligation to have no dealings ‘with any people in England who shall make a practice of coming themselves or sending clerks or riders into Scotland.’ The penalty was to be two pounds two shillings for every breach of the obligations. 

This covenant was drawn out on a good sheet of vellum bearing a stamp, and which was to be duly registered, in order to give it validity at law against the obligations in case of infraction. It bears one hundred and fifty-four signatures, partly of men, generally in good and partly of women in bad holograph.1 It is endorsed, ‘Resolution and Agreement of the Merchants of Edinburgh for Discouraging English Riders from Coming into Scotland.’ 

This strange covenant, as it appears to us, seems to have made some noise, for, several months after its date, the following paragraph regarding it appeared in an English newspaper: ‘We hear from Scotland, that the trading people throughout that kingdom have agreed, by a general association, not to give any orders for the future to any English riders that may be sent among them by the English tradesmen. This resolution is owing to the unfair behaviour of the itinerants, whose constant practice it is to undermine and undersell each other, without procuring any benefit to the trading interest of the nation in general, by such behaviour; which, on the contrary, only tends to unsettle the course of business and destroy that connection and good understanding between people, who had better not deal together at all, than not do it with spirit and mutual confidence. It is said also that several towns in England have already copied this example.’ – London Daily Advertiser, January 27, 1753.

1  Amongst the male signatures are those of James Lindsay, Cleghorn and Livingston, David Inglis, Edward Caithness, Patrick Inglis, Hugh Hamilton, Adam Anderson, Murray and Lindsay, George Dunsmure, George Pitcairne, James Beveridge, Bertram and Williamson, Alexander Hepburn, Arbuthnott and Scott, James Stirling, Thomas Trotter, Junr., William Burn, Nicol Swan, Archibald McCoull, John Hope, Stuart and Wallace, Walter Hamilton, John Grieve, Oliver Tod. Several of these were wealthy citizens; some became magistrates. Amongst the female names are those of Katherine Ramsay and sisters, Peg Bowie, betty Murray, Christy Balfour, and many others thus familiarly expressed. The Misses Ramsay were milliners of great business, who ultimately realised some wealth, and built a handsome suburban villa, in which to spend their latter days.

On this Day in Other Sources.

The king had chosen the castle of Roxburgh as his residence for the time – a proof of the peace and confidence of that reign – and the queen was there preparing for her confinement. Many gifts conferred by Alexander II., and still more, his frequent residences at the Abbey, show his favour for Newbattle. It was an occasion to give rise to strong and solemn feelings of religion. On the last day of August 1241, the young queen, looking to her time of peril, and impressed with the frail tenure of life, bequeathed her body to be buried in the church of Newbattle; and in anticipation of the customary oblation, the king granted to God and the church of St Mary of Neubattle, and the monks there serving God, in free, pure, and perpetual alms, the vale of Lethan, from the head of the burn of Lethan, with all the streams that flow into it; and that specially for providing for the monks a “pittance” twice in the year, namely, one on St. Bartholomew’s day, the birth-day of the king, and another on the feast of the nativity of the Virgin, a high solemnity in her Cistercian church. 

– Sketches, pp.125-144.

The time was now at hand, when Mary’s mortifications were to begin, amidst slight attentions. On the 31st of August [1561], a banquet was given to the Queen, and her relations, by the city of Edinburgh, which had more show, than sincerity, in it. 

– Life of Mary, pp.42-61.

Of those expatriated Scots, scattered through the Universities of the Continent, Aberdeen had produced her share. Florence Wilson, who describes his native scenes by the banks of the Lossy, under the towers of Elgin, was equal to his friend Buchanan in easy graceful Latinity. He was a Greek scholar also, and taught Greek in 1540. But that part of his education could hardly be got at his native University. William Barclay, the great jurist – father of John, the author of the admirable romance the Argenis – David Chalmers of Ormond, besides multitudes of mere professors, kept up the reputation of King’s College abroad, while there were not wanting at home men of high name in literature, who owed their instruction to the Northern University. The depression, which is visible at the visitation of 1549, continued during the actual storm of the Reformation. In 1562, when Queen Mary made her northern progress, accompanied by the English ambassador, Randolph wrote from Aberdeen: “The Quene, in her progresse, is now come as far as Olde Aberdine, the Bishop’s seat, and where also the Universitie is, or at least, one college with fiftene or sixteen scollers.”1*

– Sketches, pp.254-324.

1  To Cecil, 31st Aug. 1562, in Chalmers’ Life of Ruddiman, p. 7, note. 
*  Mary’s Northern Tour is fully described, including Randolph’s letters to Elizabeth, in the chapter, ‘Of the Queen’s Tour into the North, and her Return.’

A subsequent order “ordains ane proclamatioune to be sent throw the toune commanding all maner of persones betwixt sextie and sextein to be in readiness with thair best armes, and to this effect to cum out presentlie with their several capitaines, with match, powder, and leid, and also to provyde themselfs with twentie dayes provisioune to march according as they sall get ordours under the paine of death.”1 A series of other warlike orders follow in rapid succession. All the ports are appointed to be guarded during the day as well as at night, and the officers of the burgh are appointed “to weir in tyme cuming everie man his sword and halbert.” The master of works is ordained to send to Holland for “sex scoir sword blads;” and “eight tun of beir” is ordered to be supplied “for outreiking” a ship of war called “the Kings Eight Whelpe” conform to an order of the Committee of Estates. It was a stirring time, and the affairs of the unhappy king were getting sorely complicated. 

– Old Glasgow, pp.162-175.

1  31st August, 1644.

   “Newcastle, Aug. 31 [1745]. On Sunday last General Blakeney and Col. Leighton went through this Town for the Camp at Sterling.

   A Letter dated the 24th Instant from a Person of Distinction in the North West of Scotland, to a Gentleman in this Town, says, Two Companies of St. Clair’s and Murray’s, going between Fort Augustus and Fort William, were attack’d by a Body of Highlanders. It was a bloody Battle; but the Soldiers having spent all their Ammunition, which was nine Charges, were attack’d in Front, Flank and Rear, and oblig’d to surrender Prisoners, after the Loss of a good Number on each Side. Capt. Scott was wounded in the Action, and since dead.

   Several private Letters from Edinburgh last Post to Gentlemen in Newcastle say, That several Copies of the Pretender’s Manifestoes have been seen there; one dated in 1743, when the last Invasion was intended; and the other in 1745, both sign’d by the Pretender; in which he declares his Son Regent for Scotland, disannuls the Union, takes off the Malt Tax, and promise to secure the Rights and Liberties of the People: That several Persons have sent Copies of the Manifestoes to the Magistrates of that City, not daring to keep them: That a Nobleman’s Brother is Standard Bearer to the Rebels: That, except the Macdonalds of Clanronald, of Knappoch, of Glengarry, and of Kinlochmoidart, the Camerons of Lochyell, and the Stuarts of Appin, there are none of the Clans in Person with the young Chevalier, but about 2500 of their Men, not all arm’d: And that General Cope would be up with the Rebels on the 27th or 28th Instant.”

– Stamford Mercury, Thursday 12th September, 1745.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1700-1750.


   THE rejection of the Local Government (Scotland) Bill by the Tory Peers, has caused some references to be made by the press, notably the Mail in a leader last week to the important part which the late Earl of Eglinton took at the formation of the ‘National Association for the Vindication of Scottish Rights.’ The Mail remarked – ‘The demand for the appointment of a responsible Scottish Minister was brought prominently forward more than thirty years ago by the influential Association presided over by the late Earl of Eglinton, who, unlike the other Scottish Tory Peers, was a noble-minded patriot, and never gave up to his party what was due to his own country.’ Few of the readers of the Herald now, I daresay, were privileged to witness the grand ovation which the Earl received, or had the pleasure of listening to the noble speech which he delivered then at the inauguration meeting in the City Hall of Glasgow. I recall the scene to my mind. The Hall was densely filled in all parts. Hundreds of ladies graced the meeting with their presence – probably the advocates of ‘Women’s Rights’ could not have brought together a larger number. The gathering, for intelligence and wealth, was perhaps one of the most remarkable that Glasgow and its neighbourhood could then produce. The Earl of Eglinton wore the insignia of the Order of the Thistle, and looked every inch a nobleman. We were all proud of him, as well as the speech he delivered on that memorable occasion. The arguments he used then for a responsible Minister for Scotland were just what are being used now, and his words are well worth quoting at this time of day. He said – ‘The object which we have in view, stripped on the one hand of the aspersions which have been cast upon it, and on the other of perhaps a little too zealous advocacy by some friends – the object is to preserve for Scotland her national rights, so far as consistent with united imperial and legislative and constitutional Government. For this object this movement has originated – for this object had this Association been formed, and for this object it will strive; but we will not be induced to go a step further.’ Speaking of himself, he said – ‘There is one thing I have endeavoured to do, and which, individually ought to be impressed on every person with whom we are associated – that is our express determination to preserve in all its integrity the union between Scotland and England. We will not be parties to sow discontent between two countries; but our opponents will not take us at our word – they either will not read what we say, or wilfully disbelieve what we assert. The union of the two countries is as firmly established as is the House of Hanover on the throne. I don’t believe that any sane man in Scotland would try to dissolve the union, any more than that he would seek to draw the sword for the Duke of Monmouth. I remember a short time ago of meeting a noble friend in Edinburgh, to whom I mentioned my regret that the recent investure of three Knights of the Thistle had not taken place at Holyrood. He said to me – ‘I am for upholding and cementing the union.’ I say, so am I for upholding and cementing the union by doing away with the inequalities that exist.’ The Earl was exceedingly happy in an appeal he made to his ‘fair audience,’ of whom he was pleased, he said, to see present so large a proportion. ‘I would appeal to them, and ask what would be their opinion of the husband who covered himself with ornaments, while he gave his wife none; who spent all the money on himself, and who did not even allow her her own pin-money; who constructed beautiful houses and parks for himself, with all sorts of defences, and gave her no protection. I am afraid the answer would not be complimentary to the gentleman in question. That was precisely the care as regards Scotland and England. We demand that our national feelings shall be respected, our national rights preserved, and the treaty of union adhered to. Now the first demand which we have to make is that we ought to have a Secretary of State for Scotland, instead of being left to the tender mercies of a Lord Advocate. We say that a lawyer who is a subordinate officer of the Ministry, and therefore is unable to plead our interests in Cabinet discussions – who has his own professional business to attend to, and is therefore unable to attend to ours – is not a fit person to undertake the management of the affairs of a populous, a thriving, and an energetic country. Then we say we are not properly represented in the Imperial Parliament – that we have a right to a considerable increase in the number of members. Then we complain that our palaces and our royal parks have been allowed to go to ruin, or our Crown lands are sold and the proceeds are thrown into the national treasury – but we are told that the Queen does not live at Holyrood. The Queen does not live at Hampton Court, but the palace there is kept up in a style worthy of the Sovereign of the nation. But what right have they or we to say that the Sovereign, who has shown no distaste for the northern part of her dominions, might not wish occasionally to hold her Court at Holyrood? But the Queen could not hold her Court at Holyrood. The palace, park, and neighbourhood is in such a state that the humblest of the Scottish gentry would not live there, except under the wholesome dread of the bailiff.’ Cockney journalists poked fun at the ‘tartan’ for such a movement, and pictured the Scots as a race who spoke Gaelic, wore kilts, and lived on thistles. Scotchmen in kilts! I have only seen the ‘garb’ once this year, and that was at Tighnabruich. Verily the wheels of the legislative chariot go at a slow pace, although much for which the late Earl of Eglinton contended, in his love for ‘puir auld Scotland,’ is now ‘within a measurable distance,’ notwithstanding the gibs and sneers of my Lord Salisbury.” 

– Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, Friday 31st August, 1883.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1875-1900.

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