20th of September

St Eustachius and companions, martyrs, 2d century. St Agapetus, pope and confessor, 536.

Born. – Alexander the Great, Macedonian conqueror, 356 B.C., Pella; Emperor Antoninus Pius, 86 A.D.; Maria Paulina Bonaparte, sister of Napoleon, 1780, Ajaccio.
Died. – Lucius Crassus, orator, 91 B.C., Rome; Owen Glendower, Welsh patriot, 1415, Monnington; John Gruter, eminent scholar and critic, 1527, Heidelberg; Jerome Cardan, physician, 1576; Charles VI., emperor of Germany, 1740, Vienna; José Gaspar Rodríguez Francia, dictator of Paraguay, 1840.


One of the most voluminous authors that ever wrote, perhaps the ablest physician of his day, and certainly a man of the most decided and versatile genius, Jerome Cardan, or to designate him more properly by his Italian name, Girolamo Cardano, presents, in his singular history, a curious epitome of the sixteenth century, its eccentricities, energies, and modes of thought… 

In the middle of the sixteenth century, the regency of the kingdom of Scotland was held by James Hamilton, Earl of Arran, whose weak and vacillating disposition was very markedly controlled by his more decided and energetic brother John, abbot of Paisley, and afterwards archbishop of St Andrews. The health of the latter, whose course of life was by no means consonant to his ecclesiastical character, had for some years been in a declining condition, and he laboured under a ’periodic asthma.’ Benefiting apparently little by the ministration of his own physician, William Cassanate, a Frenchman, of Spanish extraction, settled in Edinburgh, Hamilton was recommended to consult the famous Cardan, who had now quitted Pavia for Milan. The suggestion was readily accepted by the archbishop, and a flattering letter was forthwith despatched by Cassanate to Italy, in which he besought Cardan to travel to Paris or at least to Lyon, where he would be met by the Archbishop Hamilton, who had resolved to make this journey for the sake of his health. Such an invitation happened to fall in with Jerome’s humour at the time, and he returned a favourable reply. The sum of two hundred crowns was paid him, in name of travelling expenses, by the archbishop’s messenger, and on 23d February 1552, he started on his journey across the Alps, taking the Simplon Pass into Switzerland, and proceeding from thence through Geneva to Lyon. At the latter town, he expected to meet either the archbishop of his physician, but neither made appearance, and he remained upwards of a month  in the place, where he reaped a golden harvest from the exercise of his profession of the healing art, nobles and distinguished persons eagerly pressing to him to avail themselves of his services. At last Cassanate arrived, bearing a letter from Archbishop Hamilton, in which that prelate, after apologising for his inability from cares of church and state to visit France at present, besought the learned Cardanus to give him the benefit of his professional skill, by extending his journey to Scotland. He further intimated that Cassanate would provide him with a safe-conduct, and also give him the security of any banker in Milan, for such suitable remuneration as might be agreed on. 

It was not without considerable difficulty that Cardan was prevailed on to enter on this new undertaking, as he entertained the perfectly natural belief that the archbishop had inveigled him so far on the way, knowing well that he would have absolutely refused to visit Scotland had he been invited to do so at Milan. However, a reluctant consent was at last given, and after receiving an additional guerdon of three hundred crowns, Cardan and Cassanate set out together on their journey northward. Having arrived at Paris, the travellers made a stay of a few weeks, during which the most flattering attentions were paid to Cardan, including a request from Henry II. that he would take up his abode with him as court-physician, but the MIlanese professor declined thus to expatriate himself. In like manner as he had practised at Lyon, however, he held numerous and crowded levees of patients, and realised large sums of money in shape of fees, Towards the end of May, he and  Cassanate quitted Paris, a place of which Cardan seems to have carried away no exalted opinion in point of cleanliness and salubrity. He suggests sarcastically, indeed, that its ancient name, Lutetia, may have been derived from dirt (lutum) which formed, in his opinion, one of the leading characteristics of the place. They then proceeded down the Seine to Rouen, of which our physician speaks in the most eulogistic terms, and from thence journeyed to Boulogne and Calais, where they took ship for London, and arrived there on 3d June. After a rest in the English metropolis of three days, they set out on their overland journey to Edinburgh, which they reached at the end of twenty-three days. 

From the end of June to the middle of September, Cardan remained in Edinburgh in attendance on Archbishop Hamilton, who seems to have benefited greatly by the prescriptions of his Italian doctor. A full account has been left us by the latter of the remedies employed and the regimen prescribed for his distinguished patient, much of which seems sufficiently absurd at the present day, but is, nevertheless, accompanied by numerous sensible and judicious injunctions. Among these were recommendations to use frequently the cold bath (the water to be poured from a pail or pitcher over the archiepiscopal head and shoulders), feather-beds and pillows to be avoided, a sufficient amount of sleep to be taken, moderation and regularity to be observed as regards meals, and the mind to be kept free from harassing cares. So sensible was Hamilton of the benefits which he had received from this treatment, that he would gladly have detained Cardan for a much longer period; but the latter was inexorable, being both impatient to return to his country and family, and unwilling to face the inclement skies of a Scottish winter. He, accordingly, quitted Edinburgh for London, after receiving from the archbishop the princely remuneration of eighteen hundred gold crowns, of which four hundred went to Cardan’s attendants. The subsequent history of the prelate, to whom a renewed lease of life had thus been granted, is well known to all readers of Scottish history. After endeavouring ineffectually to avert the change in religion and ecclesiastical establishments which shortly afterwards took place in the country, he became, on the arrival of Queen Mary in Scotland, one of her most favoured counsellors; and on her deposition and subsequent confinement in Loch Leven, an active member of that party which sought to reinstate her on the throne. Doomed to see all his hopes disappointed, he took refuge in Dumbarton Castle, and on the capture of that fortress by the government forces in 1571, was tried and condemned on the charge, among others, of participating in the murder of the Regent Murray. In pursuance of this sentence, Hamilton was ignominiously hanged in his pontifical robes on the common gibbet at Stirling, being both the last Roman Catholic primate of Scotland, and the first of its prelates to suffer capital punishment. 

The value of his contributions to mathematical science is still recognised, but most of his disquisitions on medicine and philosophy, which excited such attention in his own day, have long ago been completely forgotten. Of his personal character, it is not possible to speak very favourably, as he seems to have been loose in morals, and to have been imbued to an ample extent with all the objectionable tendencies of his time. but he appears to have been a kind and affectionate husband and parent, and a genial and agreeable companion, though his manners, like his person, are said to have been unprepossessing. Considering the misfortune of his birth, the defects of his education, and the period in which he lived, we may fairly give our tribute of admiration to his undoubted genius; and while making the most of the good points, cast the mantle of charity over the defects in the character of Jerome Cardan.


The instances are more numerous than most observers would suppose, of animals falling to the ground in the manner of rain, sometimes accompanied by real rain. On the 14th of April 1828, Major Forbes Mackenzie, of Fodderty, in Ross-shire, while walking in a field on his farm, saw a great portion of the ground covered with herring-fry, three to four inches in length, fresh and entire. the spot was three miles from the Firth of Dingwall. About two years afterwards, in the island of Islay, in Argyleshire, after a day of very heavy rain, the inhabitants were surprised to find a large number of small herrings strewed over the fields, perfectly fresh, and some of them alive. On another occasion, during a strong gale, herrings and other fish were carried from the Firth of Forth so far as Loch Leven, eight or ten miles distant. More recently, a Wick newspaper stated that, on a particular morning, a large quantity of herrings were found lying scattered in a garden about half a mile from the shore at that town. The peasants cooked and ate them – not without misgiving on the part of others as to the possibility of some Satanic agency having been concerned in the transfer of herrings to such a spot. 

How are these phenomena to be accounted for? There seems little doubt that winds, whirlwinds, and waterspouts are the chief source of their production. Waterspouts are not unknown in that portion of Ross-shire where the shower of herrings took place in 1828. The herring fall at Islay occurred after a day of very heavy rain; and that at Loch Leven during a strong gale from the Firth of Forth. the occurrence at Wick was attributed by the more intelligent inhabitants to a waterspout.

On this Day in Other Sources.

According to Dugdale, it was at “Turnebyrie, in Carryk,” 20th September, 1286, that a solemn compact was entered into between “Robert, the competitor with Baliol, for the throne of Scotland, designed Robert Brus, Lord of Annandale, with his son Robert Brus, Earl of Carryk, and his brother-in-law Thomas de Clare, Richard de Burgh, Earl of Ulster, James Stuard of Scotland, with several other Scottish nobles, to stand by each other, saving their allegiance to the King of England, and fidelity to him, who should gain the kingdom of Scotland by right of blood from King Alexander, then lately deceased.” 

– Scotland Illustrated, pp.122-124.

From the laird of Banff’s house, she proceeded, on the 20th of September [1562], to the Shiretown, where she slept; on the morrow she proceeded to Gight, the house of a Gordon, where she slept, in safety;.. 

– Life of Mary, pp.62-77.

THE following extracts are taken from a little book of sixteen leaves, which notes the Thane’s personal and travelling expenses from 20th September to 7th November 1591. The first three days’ expenses are given in full; afterwards only extracts.



   In Taylone the xx day of September 1591 resauit fra Johne Caldar  

ic merk     

   Item deliuerit to Makconchie Stronechormicheis man the same day, that brought the aquavytie  

vj s. viij d.

– Sketches, Appendix VIII.

In the same old catalogue one of the breviaries is described as being outside of the choir – chained, no doubt, for the use of the general public, few of whom probably were capable of taking advantage of it. Other books are mentioned as chained both in the choir and in the library. This collection is all now lost or scattered. In a minute of the town council of 20th September, 1660, Bailie Pollock reports “that he had gottin in from James Porter the thrie great Bybilles belongs to the kirks, and that they are now lying in the clarkes chamber.” But these were in all likelihood English versions belonging to a much later period – probably the first large folio of 1611, or other folio editions of the version now in use. 

– Old Glasgow, pp.104-116.

This obliged the magistrates to interfere again – not this time, however, to prohibit the ashpits, but to secure a free passage for the sewage water along the street. To effect this there is a minute of the town council, under date 20th September, 1666, which bears “that the syre in Trongait, on the north syde therof from Hutchesounes Hospitall to St. Tenowes burn, was levelled and maid once straight for covoyeing away the water that way, but now of lait divers persones, yea almost all who hes houses and killes narrest the said syre, casts in stra ilk ane foiragainst their awin land to mak fuilzie of, quhilk stops the passage of the water should goe that way, and jorgs wp so that filth and myre is made to be sein in the gutters quhilk is verie lothsome to the beholders; and the said Magistrats taking this to their wyse consideratioune, and being desyrous that that abuse should be remeided, they therfoir do heirby statut and ordaine that no maner of persones presume to do the lyk hereafter, but that everie heritor or tennant of the said lands narrest the syre keep the same frie ilk ane foir against themselfes for thair parts therof to the effect the passage of the watter be not gorged or impeided thereby.” 

But the nuisances mentioned were nothing to another of which we find the magistrates taking cognisance. What would be thought nowadays of the butchers using the sides of the most public streets in the city as the places for slaughtering cattle! The minute of the town council on this subject, 20th September 1666, speaks for itself:- “The same day forsuameikle as the Provest baillies and Counsell taking to their consideratioune that it had been the vse and custome of the fleshers of this burgh heirtofoir to slay and bluid the wholl bestiall they kill on the Hie street in Trongait on both sydes of the gait, quhilk is very lothsome to the beholders, and also raises ane filthie and noysome stink and flew to all mener of persones that passeth that way throw the king’s hie street, and is most unseinlie to be sein that the lyk should be done thereon; And the said Magistrats and Counsell vderstanding that the lyk is not done in no place within this kingdome or outwith the same in any weill governed citie,” therefore the fleshers are commanded “ilk ane of them to provyd houses in baksyds for the doeing thereof, as is done in Edinburgh and uthir weill governed cities, and that betwixt and the term of Witsunday next to come.” 

– Old Glasgow, pp.266-276.

Previous to the erection of the harbour, Greenock as well as other places on the Clyde appears to have prosecuted the herring fishing. “There were” says Crawford1 “about the year 1670, a Company erected, which employed a considerable stock of money for curing herring; and because His Majesty King Charles II, put in a share of the stock, they were called the Royal Company: they built a large warehouse at Greenock, and made that place the seat of their trade, where they had large cellars for keeping their salt and herring till exporting. By this erection, none, except that Company, were allowed to cure herring before the 20th day of September yearly; which being represented to the government as a very hard restraint upon the merchants: the said Company was dissolved in the year 1684. Their houses at Greenock being exposed to roup were purchased by the magistrates and town council of the City of Glasgow.” 

– Select Views, pp.103-114.

1  History of Renfrewshire, p. 13.

On Sept. 20, 1715, the Chevalier was proclaimed at the cross of Aberdeen; and on Sept. 27, 1745, the chamberlain of the ducal family of Gordon proclaimed the Pretender on the same spot.

– Gazetteer of Scotland, pp.3-11.

Though it is so long ago as [20th] September, 1722, since Lord Fountainhall died, a tradition of his residence has come down to the present time. “The mother of the late Mr. Gilbert Innes of Stow,” says Chambers, “was a daughter of his lordship’s son, Sir Andrew Lauder, and she used to describe to her children the visits she used to pay her venerable grandfather’s house, situated, as she said, where James’s Court now stands. She and her sister always went with their maid on the Saturday afternoons, and were shown into a room where the aged judge was sitting – a room covered with gilt leather, and containing many huge presses and cabinets, one of which was ornamented with a death’s head at the top. After amusing themselves for an hour or two with his lordship they used each to get a shilling from him, and retire… It is curious to think that the mother of a gentleman living in 1839 (for only then did Mrs. Innes of Stow leave this earthly scene) should have been familiar with a lawyer who entered at the bar soon after the Restoration (1668), and acted as counsel for the unfortunate Earl of Argyle in 1681 – a being of an age as different in every respect from the present as the wilds of North America are different from the long-practised lands of Lothian or Devonshire.” 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.94-102.

The battle of Preston Pans is apart from the history of Edinburgh; but there, on the 20th September [1745], the Highlanders, suffering under innumerable disadvantages, gained a signal victory, in a few minutes, over a well-disciplined and veteran army, sweeping it from the field in irretrievable confusion. The cavalry escaped by the speed of their horses, but all the infantry were killed or taken, with their colours, cannon, baggage, drums, and military chest containing £6,000. Charles, who, the night before the victory, slept in a little house still shown at Duddingston, bore his conquest with great moderation and modesty, even proposing to put the wounded – among whom was the Master of Torphichen, suffering from twenty sword wounds, of which he died – in Holyrood, but the Royal Infirmary was preferred, as the palace was required for the purposes of royalty. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.322-329.

   The only event of note in the history of the parish is the battle of Preston, fought in 1745. While, on the 16th of September, 1745, the heralds were proclaiming King James at the market-cross of Edinburgh, Sir John Cope was landing his troops at Dunbar. The landing was finished on Wednesday, the 17th of September; but the disembarkation of the artillery and stores was not completed till the 18th; but desirous of engaging the Highland army before the arrival of their expected reinforcements, Cope left Dunbar on the 19th, in the direction of Edinburgh, and halted on a field to the west of the town of Haddington, and 16 miles east from Edinburgh, on the evening of that day. Resuming his march on the morning of the 20th, along the high road to Preston, he halted his army, and formed his troops in order of battle, with his front to the west, on reaching the plain betwixt Seaton and Preston. His right extended towards the sea in the direction of Port-Seaton and his left towards the village of Preston. These dispositions had scarcely been taken when the whole of the Highland army appeared descending the heights in the direction of Tranent. On approaching Tranent, the Highlanders were received by the King’s troops with a vehement shout of defiance, which the Highlanders answered in a similar strain. About two o’clock in the afternoon the Highland army halted on an eminence called Birsley-Brae, about half-a-mile to the west of Tranent, and formed in order of battle about a mile from the royal forces. In the expectation that the Highlanders were advancing by the usual route through Musselburgh, Cope had taken up the position we have described, with his front to the west; but as soon as he observed the Highlanders on the heights upon his left, he changed his front to the south. This change of position, while it secured Cope better from attack, was not so well-calculated for safety as the first position was in the event of a defeat. On his right was the east wall of a park belonging to Erskine of Grange, which extended a considerable way from north to south, and still farther to the right was the village of Preston. The village of Seaton was on his left, and the village of Cockenzie and the sea in his rear. Almost immediately in front was a deep ditch filled with water, and a strong and thick hedge. Farther removed from the front, and between the two armies was a morass, the ends of which had been drained, and were intersected by numerous cuts. And on the more firm ground at the ends were several small enclosures, with hedges, dry stone-walls, and willow trees. As the Highlanders were in excellent spirits, and eager to close immediately with the enemy, Charles felt very desirous to comply with their wishes; but he soon ascertained that the passage across the morass would be extremely dangerous, if not altogether impracticable. 

   While his lieutenant-general was, in consequence of this information, planning a different mode of attack, the Prince himself was moving with a great part of his army towards Dolphinston on Cope’s right. Halting opposite Preston-tower he seemed to threaten that flank of the English general, who, thereupon, returned to his original position with his front to Preston, and his right towards the sea. Lord George Murray, considering that the only practicable mode of attacking Cope was by advancing from the east, now led-off part of the army through the village of Tranent, and sent notice to the Prince to follow him with the remainder as quickly as possible. After the Highland army had halted on the fields to the east of Tranent, a council of war was held, at which Lord George Murray proposed to attack the enemy at break of day. Charles was highly pleased with the proposal of the lieutenant-general, which also received the unanimous approbation of the council. A few piquets were placed around the bivouack, and the Highlanders, having wrapped themselves up in their plaids, lay down upon the ground to repose for the night. Charles, taking a sheaf of pease for a pillow, stretched himself upon the stubble, surrounded by his principal officers. When Cope observed Charles returning towards Tranent, he resumed his former position with his front to the south, having thus, in the course of a few hours, been obliged, by the unrestrained evolutions of the Highlanders, to shift his ground no less than four times. He now began to perceive that his situation was not so favourable as he had imagined, and that while the insurgents could move about at discretion, select their ground, and choose their time and mode of attack, he was cramped in his own movements and could act only on the defensive. To secure his army from surprise during the night, Cope placed advanced piquets of horse and foot along the side of the morass, extending nearly as far east as the village of Seaton. He, at the same time, sent his baggage and military chest down to Cockenzie; and as the night – that of Friday the 20th of September – was very cold, Cope ordered fires to be kindled along the front of his line, to keep his men warm. 

   In point of numbers, the army of Cope was rather inferior to that of Charles; but many of the Highlanders were badly armed, and some of them were without arms. The royal forces amounted altogether to about 2,300 men; but the number in the field was diminished to 2,100 by the separation of the baggage-guard which was sent to Cockenzie. The order of battle finally formed by Cope along the north side of the morass was as follows:- He drew up his foot in one line, in the centre of which were eight companies of Lascelles’s regiment, and two of Guise’s. On the right were five companies of Lee’s regiment, and on the left the regiment of Murray, with a number of recruits for different regiments at home and abroad. Two squadrons of Gardiner’s dragoons formed the right wing, and a similar number of Hamilton’s composed the left. The remaining squadron of each regiment was placed in the rear of its companions as a reserve. On the left of the army, near the waggon-road from Tranent to Cockenzie, were placed the artillery, consisting of six or seven pieces of cannon and four cohorns under the orders of Lieutenant-colonel Whiteford, and guarded by a company of Lee’s regiment, commanded by Captain Cochrane. Besides the regular troops there were some volunteers, consisting principally of small parties of the neighbouring tenantry, headed by their respective landlords. Some Seceders, actuated by religious zeal, had also placed themselves under the royal standard. Pursuant to the orders he had received, Lord Nairne left the position he had occupied during the night at the appointed hour, and rejoined the main body about three o’clock in the morning. Instead of continuing the order of march of the preceding night, it had been determined by the council of war to reverse it. The charge of this movement was intrusted to Colonel Ker. The Duke of Perth, who was to command the right wing, was at the head of the inverted column. He was attended by Hepburn of Keith, and by Robert Anderson, son of Anderson of Whitburgh, who, from his intimate knowledge of the morass, was sent forward to lead the way. A little in advance of the van, was a select party of 60 men doubly armed, under the command of Macdonald of Glenalladale, major of the regiment of Clanranald, whose appointed duty it was to seize the enemy’s baggage. The army proceeded in an easterly direction till near the farm of Ringan-head, when, turning to the left, they marched in a northerly direction through a small valley which intersects the farm. During the march the utmost silence was observed, not even a whisper being heard; and lest the trampling of horses might discover their advance, the few that were in the army were left behind. The ford or path across the morass was so narrow that the column – which marched three men abreast – had scarcely sufficient standing room; and the ground along it was so soft that many of the men were almost at every step up to the knees in mud. The path in question – which was about 200 paces to the west of the stone-bridge afterwards built across Seaton mill-dam – led to a small wooden-bridge thrown over the large ditch which ran through the morass from east to west. This bridge, and the continuation of the path on the north of it, were a little to the east of Cope’s left. From ignorance of the existence of this bridge, – from oversight, or from a supposition that the marsh was not passable in that quarter, – Cope had placed no guards in that direction, and the consequence was, that the Highland army, whose march across could here have been effectually stopped by a handful of men, passed the bridge and cleared the marsh without interruption. The Prince’s army was divided into two columns or lines, with an interval between them. After the first line had got out of the marsh, Lord George Murray sent the Chevalier Johnstone to hasten the march of the second, which was conducted by the Prince in person. At the remote end of the marsh there was a deep ditch, three or four feet broad, over which the men had to leap. In jumping across this ditch, Charles fell upon his knees on the other side, and was immediately raised by the Chevalier Johnstone, who says, that Charles looked as if he considered the accident a bad omen. As the column cleared the marsh, it continued its course towards the sea; but after the whole army had passed, it was ascertained that the Duke of Perth had inadvertently – not being able, from the darkness, to see the whole line – advanced too far with the front, and that a considerable gap had, in consequence, been left in the centre. The Duke being informed of this error, halted his men till joined by the rear. Hitherto the darkness had concealed the march of the Highlanders; but the morning was now about to dawn, and at the time the order to halt was given, some of Cope’s piquets stationed on his left, for the first time heard the tramp of the Highlanders. The Highlanders heard distinctly these advanced guards repeatedly call out, “Who is there?” No answer having been returned, the piquets gave the alarm, and the cry of “Cannons, cannons! Get ready the cannons, cannoniers!” resounded on Cope’s left wing. Charles instantly gave directions for attacking Cope before he should have time to change his position by opposing his front to that of the Highland army. It was not in compliance with any rule in military science that the order of march of the Highland army had been reversed; but in accordance with an established punctilio among the clans, which, for upwards of seven centuries had assigned the right wing, regarded as the post of honour, to the Macdonalds. As arranged at the council-of-war on the preceding evening, the army was drawn up in two lines. The first consisted of the regiments of Clanranald, Keppoch, Glengary, and Glencoe, under their respective chiefs. These regiments formed the right wing, which was commanded by the Duke of Perth. The Duke of Perth’s men and the Macgregors composed the centre; while the left wing, commanded by Lord George Murray, was formed of the Camerons under Lochiel, their chief, and the Stewarts of Appin commanded by Stewart of Ardshiel. The second line, which was to serve as a reserve, consisted of the Athole-men, the Robertsons of Strowan, and the Maclauchlans. This body was placed under the command of Lord Nairne. As soon as Cope received intelligence of the advance of the Highlanders, he gave orders to change his front to the east. Some confusion took place in carrying these orders into execution, from the advanced guards belonging to the foot not being able to find out the regiments to which they belonged, and who, in consequence, stationed themselves on the right of Lee’s five companies, and thereby prevented the two squadrons of Gardiner’s dragoons, which had been posted on the right of the line, from forming properly. For want of room, the squadron under Colonel Gardiner drew up behind that commanded by Lieutenant-colonel Whitney. In all other respects the disposition of each regiment was the same; but the artillery, which before the change had been on the left, and close to that wing, was now on the right somewhat farther from the line, and in front of Whitney’s squadron. 

   There was now no longer any impediment to prevent the armies from coming into collision; and if Cope had had the choice, he could not have selected ground more favourable for the operations of cavalry than that which lay between the two armies. It was a level cultivated field of considerable extent without bush or tree, and had just been cleared of its crop of grain. But unfortunately for the English general, the celerity with which the Highlanders commenced the attack prevented him from availing himself of this local advantage. The beams of the rising sun were just beginning to illuminate the horizon; but the mist which still hovered over the corn-fields prevented the two armies from seeing each other. Every thing being in readiness for advancing, the Highlanders took off their bonnets, and, placing themselves in an attitude of devotion, with upraised eyes uttered a short prayer. As the Highlanders had advanced considerably beyond the main ditch, Lord George Murray was apprehensive that Cope might turn the left flank, and to guard against such a contingency, he desired Lochiel, who was on the extreme left, to order his men in advancing to incline to the left. Lord George then ordered the left wing to advance, and sent an aid-de-camp to the Duke of Perth to request him to put the right in motion. The Highlanders moved with such rapidity that their ranks broke; to recover which, they halted once or twice before closing with the enemy. When Cope, at day-break, observed the first line of the Highland army formed in order of battle, at the distance of 200 paces from his position, he mistook it for bushes; but before it had advanced half-way, the rays of the rising sun bursting through the retiring mist showed the armies to each other. 

“Day opened in the orient sky 

With wintry aspect, dull and drear; 

On every leaf, while glitteringly 

The rimy hoar-frost did appear. 

The ocean was unseen, though near; 

And hazy shadows seem’d to draw, 

ln azure, with their mimic floods, 

A line above the Seaton woods, 

And round North Berwick Law.” 

The army of Cope at this time made a formidable appearance; and some of Charles’s officers were heard afterwards to declare, that when they first saw it, and compared the gallant appearance of the horse and foot, with their well-polished arms glittering in the sunbeams, with their own line broken into irregular clusters; they expected that the Highland army would be instantly defeated, and swept from the field. 

   The Highlanders continued to advance in profound silence. As the right wing marched straight forward without attending to the oblique movement of the Camerons to the left, a gap took place in the centre of the line. An attempt was made to fill it up with the second line, which was about fifty paces behind the first, but before this could be accomplished, the left wing, being the first to move, had advanced beyond the right of the line, and was now engaged with the enemy. By inclining to the left, the Camerons gained half the ground originally between them and the main ditch; but this movement brought them up directly opposite to Cope’s cannon. On approaching the cannon the Highlanders fired a few shots at the artillery guard, which alarmed an old gunner who had charge of the cannon, and his assistants, to such a degree that they fled, carrying the powder-flasks along with them. To check the advance of the Highlanders, Colonel Whiteford fired off five of the field-pieces with his own hand; but though their left seemed to recoil, they instantly resumed the rapid pace they had set out with. The artillery guard next fired a volley with as little effect. Observing the squadron of dragoons under Lieutenant-colonel Whitney advancing to charge them, the Camerons set up a loud shout, rushed past the cannon, and, after discharged a few shots at the dragoons, which killed several men, and wounded the lieutenant-colonel, flew upon them sword in hand. When assailed, the squadron was reeling to and fro from the fire; and the Highlanders following an order they had received, to strike at the noses of the horses without minding the riders, completed the disorder. In a moment the dragoons wheeled about, rode over the artillery guard, and fled followed by the guard. The Highlanders continuing to push forward without stopping to take prisoners, Colonel Gardiner was ordered to advance with his squadron, and charge the enemy. He accordingly went forward, encouraging his men to stand firm; but this squadron, before it had advanced many paces, experienced a similar reception with its companion, and followed the example which the other had just set. After the flight of the dragoons, the Highlanders advanced upon the infantry, who opened a fire from right to left, which went down the line as far as Murray’s regiment. They received this volley with a loud huzza, and throwing away their muskets, drew their swords and rushed upon the foot before they had time to reload their pieces. Confounded by the flight of the dragoons, and the furious onset of the Highlanders, the astonished infantry threw down their arms and took to their heels. Hamilton’s dragoons, who were stationed on Cope’s left, displayed even greater pusillanimity than their companions; for no sooner did they observe the squadrons on the right give way, than they turned their backs and fled without firing a single shot or drawing a sword. Murray’s regiment being thus left alone on the field, fired upon the Macdonalds who were advancing, and also fled. Thus, within a very few minutes after the action had commenced, the whole army of Cope was put to flight. With the exception of their fire, not the slightest resistance was made by horse or foot, and not a single bayonet was stained with blood. Such were the impetuosity and rapidity with which the first line of the Highlanders broke through Cope’s ranks, that they left numbers of his men in their rear, who attempted to rally behind them; but on seeing the second line coming up, they endeavoured to make their escape. Though the second line was not more than 50 paces behind the first, and was always running as fast as it could to over-take the first line, and near enough never to lose sight of it, yet such was the rapidity with which the battle was gained, that, according to the Chevalier Johnstone, who stood by the side of the Prince in the second line, he could see no other enemy on the field of battle than those who were lying on the ground killed and wounded. Unfortunately for the royal infantry, the walls of the enclosures about the village of Preston, which, from the position they took up on the preceding evening, formed their great security on their right, now that these park-walls were in their rear, operated as a barrier to their flight. Having disencumbered themselves of their arms to facilitate their escape, they had deprived themselves of their only means of defence, and driven as they were upon the walls of the enclosures, they would have all perished under the swords of the Highlanders, had not Charles and his officers strenuously exerted themselves to preserve the lives of their discomfited foes. The impetuosity of the attack, however, and the sudden flight of the royal army, allowed little leisure for the exercise of humanity; and before the carnage ceased several hundreds had fallen under the claymores of the Highlanders, and the ruthless scythes of the Macgregors. Armed with these deadly weapons, which were sharpened and fixed to poles from seven to eight feet long, to supply the place of other arms, this party mowed down the affrighted enemy, cut off the legs of the horses, and severed, it is said, the bodies of their riders in twain. Of the infantry of the royal army, about 170 only escaped. From a report made by their own sergeants and corporals, by order of Lord George Murray, between 1,600 and 1,700 prisoners, foot and cavalry, fell into the hands of the Highlanders, including about 70 officers. In this number were comprehended the baggage-guard stationed at Cockenzie, which amounted to 300 men, who, on learning the fate of the main body and the loss of their cannon, surrendered to the Camerons. The cannon and all the baggage of the royal army, together with the military chest, containing £4,000, fell into the hands of the victors. The greater part of the dragoons escaped by the two roads at the extremities of the park-wall, one of which passed by Colonel Gardiner’s house in the rear of their right, and the other on their left, to the north of Preston-house. In retiring towards these outlets, the dragoons, at the entreaties of their officers, halted once or twice, and faced about to meet the enemy; but as soon as the Highlanders came up and fired at them, they wheeled about and fled. Cope, who was by no means deficient in personal courage, assisted by the Earls of Home and Loudon, collected about 450 of the panic-struck dragoons on the west side of the village of Preston, and attempted to lead them back to the charge; but no entreaties could induce these cowards to advance, and the whistling of a few bullets discharged by some Highlanders near the village, so alarmed them that they instantly scampered off in a southerly direction, screening their heads behind their horses’ necks to avoid the bullets of the Highlanders. The general had no alternative but to gallop off with his men. He reached Coldstream, a town about 40 miles from the field of battle, that night; and entered Berwick next day.

   Among six of Cope’s officers who were killed was Colonel Gardiner, a veteran soldier who had served under the Duke of Marlborough, and whose character combined a strong religious feeling with the most undaunted courage. He had been decidedly opposed to the defensive system of Cope on the preceding evening, and had counselled the general not to lose a moment in attacking the Highlanders; but his advice was disregarded. Anticipating the fate which awaited him, he spent the greater part of the night in devotion, and resolved at all hazards to perform his duty. He was wounded at the first onset at the head of his dragoons; but disdaining to follow them in their retreat, he joined a small body of foot, which attempted to rally near the wall of his own garden, and while fighting at their head was cut down by the murderous Lochaber axe of a Macgregor, within a few yards of his own house. He was carried to the manse of Tranent in almost a lifeless state, where he expired within a few hours, and was interred in the north-west corner of the church of Tranent.1 Captain Brymer of Lee’s regiment, who appears to have participated in Gardiner’s opinion as to attacking the Highlanders, met a similar fate. Having been at the battle of Sheriffmuir, he was satisfied of the capbility of the Highlanders to contend with regular troops, and dreaded the result of an encounter if assailed by the Highlanders. When encamped at Haddington his brother-officers were in high spirits, and making light of the enemy; but Brymer viewed matters in a very different light. While reading one night in his tent he was accosted by Mr. Congalton of Congalton, his brother-in-law, who, observing him look pensive and grave, when all the other officers appeared so cheerful, inquired the reason. Brymer answered that the Highlanders were not to be despised, and that he was afraid his brother-officers would soon find that they had mistaken the character of the Highlanders, who would, to a certainty, attack the royal army, with a boldness which those only who had witnessed their prowess could have any idea of. These gloomy forebodings were not the result of an innate cowardice – for this officer was, as he showed, a brave man – but from a well-founded conviction that Cope’s men could not stand the onset of such a body of Highlanders as Charles had assembled. Brymer was killed, with his face to the enemy, disdaining to turn his back when that part of the line where he was stationed was broke in upon by the Highlanders. The loss on the side of the Highlanders was trifling. Four officers, and between 30 and 40 privates, were killed; and 5 or 6 officers, and between 70 and 80 privates, wounded. After the termination of the fight, the field of battle presented an appalling spectacle, rarely exhibited in the most bloody conflicts. As almost all the slain were cut down by the broadsword and the scythe, the ground was strewed with legs, arms, hands, noses, and mutilated bodies, while, from the deep gashes inflicted by these dreadful weapons, the field was literally soaked with gore. 

“Alas! that British might should wield 

Destruction o’er a British plain. 

That hands, ordain’d to bear the shield, 

Should bring the poison’d lance, to drain 

The life-blood from a brother’s vein, 

And steep paternal fields in gore! – 

Yet, Preston, such thy fray began; 

Thy marsh-collected waters ran 

Empurpled to the share.” 

– Gazetteer of Scotland, Prestonpans, pp.567-572.

In Train’s history of the Island, published by Mary Quiggin, 1845, at page 359, is this note:-  

“In a letter, dated 20th September 1844, from a highly respected correspondent in the Isle of Man, he says – ‘Are you aware that the septennial appearance of the island, said to be submerged in the sea by enchantment near Port Soderick, is expected about the end of this month?’ Though the spell by which this fancified island has been bound to the bottom of the ocean since the days of the great Fin McCoul, and its inhabitants transformed into blocks of granite, might, according to popular belief, be broke by placing a bible on any part of the enchanted land when at its original altitude above the waters of the deep, where it is permitted to remain only for the short space of thirty minutes. No person has yet had the hardihood to make the attempt, lest, in case of failure, the enchanter, in revenge, might cast his club over Mona also.” 

– Popular Tales, Volume 1, pp.xxiii-xxxviii.

James McKechnie VC

Janefield Cemetery 9

He was born to Colin and Jane McKechnie (née McGregor) and was married to Elizabeth McLean. McKechnie was 28 years old and a Sergeant in the Scots Fusilier Guards, Brit. It was during the Crimean War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC. On 20 September 1854 at the Battle of the Alma, Crimea, when the shot and fire from the batteries just in front of the battalion threw it into momentary disorder, it was forced out of its formation, becoming something of a huge triangle, with one corner pointing towards the enemy. A captain was carrying the Queen’s Colours which had the pole smashed and 20 bullet holes through the silk. Sergeant McKechnie held up his revolver and dashed forward, rallying the men round the Colours. He was wounded in the action. 

Glasgow’s Eastern Necropolis.

   “… The Glasgow Provost and merchants appear to have been princely in their hospitalities, and one likes to see this blending of commerce and science in social union and interest. But some zealous Glaswegians I see complain of a grievous heraldic insult from the English – the royal arms over the new Glasgow Post-Office are all wrong, or are to be wrong, the English arms and symbols taking precedence of the Scottish on the soil of Scotland, in violation of the treaty of Union. A bold insult just now, with so many of the heads of English families also on Scottish soil! Why does not fiery Glasgow send out spear and jack and sweep the pockpuddings into the donjon-keep until reparation be made?” 

– Inverness Courier, Thursday 20th September, 1855.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1850-1875.

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