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 commandfing 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.

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