26th of September

Saints Cyprian and Justina, martyrs, 304. St Eusebius, pope and confessor, 310. St Colman Elo, abbot and confessor, 610. St Nilus the Younger, abbot, 1005.

Died. – Pope Clement VII. (Guilio de’ Medici), 1534; Richard Colley, Marquis Wellesley, statesman, and eldest brother of the Duke of Wellington, 1842, Kingston House, Brompton.


Manufacture of jam and jelly may now be said to form an undertaking of some importance in every Scottish household, occupying a position in the social scale above the humbles. To purchase their preserves at the confectioner’s, or to present to their guests sweetmeats, stored in those mendacious pots, which belie so egregiously the expectations entertained of them at first sight, in regard to cubic contents, would in the eyes of the generality of Scottish ladies (those of the old school at least), be held to indicate a sad lack of good housewifeship. Even when the household store was exhausted, as very frequently happens about the months of May or June, we have seen the proposal to remedy the deficiency by purchasing a supply from a shop rejected with scorn. 

The jelly-making season may be said to extend over three months – from the beginning of July to the end of September, beginning with strawberries and going out with apples and plums. Great care is exercised in the selection of a dry day for the operation, to insure the proper thickening of the boiled juice. As is well known, this last circumstance constitutes the most critical part of the process; and the obstinate syrup, resolutely refusing to coalesce, not unfrequently tries sadly the patience and temper. In such cases, there is no remedy but to boil the mixture over again with an additional supply of sugar, the grudging of which, by the way, is a fertile cause of the difficulties in getting the juice thoroughly inspissated. We have a vivid recollection of being once in a farmhouse, when the wife of a collier in the neighbourhood, whom the goodwife had endeavoured to initiate in the mysteries of jelly-making, making her appearance with a most woebegone countenance, and dolorous narrative of non-success. ‘I can mak naething o’ yon thing,’ she said with an expression of perfect helplessness; ‘it’s just stannin’ like dub-water!’ Whether she was enabled to get this unsatisfactory state of matters remedied, we are unable to say. 

Like washing-day, the manufacture of jam and jelly, whilst it lasts, entails a total disregard of the lords of the creation and their requirements, unless, indeed, as not frequently happens, the ‘men-folk’ of the family are pressed into the service as assistants. A huge pan of fruit and sugar is sometimes a difficult matter to convey to, and place properly on, the fire, and we have seen a great stalwart fellow, now an officer in her Majesty’s army, summoned from the parlour to the kitchen, to give his aid in accomplishing this domestic operation. Should a student be spending the recess in the country, during the summer, he is very likely to be pounced on by the ladies of the family to assist them in gathering and sorting the fruit, or snipping off its noses and stalks with a pair of scissors. Of course, in general, the young man is only too happy to avail himself of so favourable an opportunity for flirtation, where the companions of his toils are young, good-looking, and blessed with a fair share of juvenile spirits. 

The Book of Days is not a cookery-book, and, therefore, any directions or recipes in connection with jelly-making, would here be wholly out of place. Yet in connection with so familiar a custom of Scottish domestic life, we may allude to the difference of opinion prevalent among those versed in jam-lore, as to the proper time which should be allowed for the syrup remaining on the fire, after having reached the point of ebullition. Some recommend the space of twenty minutes, others half-an-hour, whilst a few, determined that the preserves shall be thoroughly subjected to the action of Vulcan, keep the pan bubbling away for three-quarters or even an entire hour. An esteemed relative of our own always insisted on this last period being allowed, with the result, it must be stated, sometimes of the jam becoming a veritable decoction, in which the original shape of the fruit could scarcely be recognised, whilst the substance itself became, after having cooled, so indurated as to be almost impracticable for any other use than as a lollipop. As her old servant was wont to declare, ‘she boiled the very judgment out o’t!’ 

In country places, besides the ordinary fruits of the garden, many of the wild products of the woods and fields are made use of in the manufacture of preserves. The bilberry or blaeberry, the barberry, and above all the bramble, are largely employed for this purpose; while in the Highlands and moorland districts, the cranberry, the whortleberry, and even the harsh and unsavoury berries of the rowan or mountain-ash are made into jam. On the shores of the Argyleshire lochs, where, from their sheltered position, the fuchsia grows with remarkable luxuriance, its berries are sometimes made into a very palatable compote. Bramble-gathering forms a favourite ploy amid the juvenile members of a Scottish family, and we have a very distinct recollection in connection therewith, of wild brakes where the purple fruit grew luxuriantly, amid ferns, hazel-nuts, and wild-raspberry bushes, with the invigorating brightness of a September sun overhead, and the brilliant varieties of a September foliage. Faces stained with livid hues, hands scratched with thorns and briers, and shoes and stockings drenched with ditch-water, are among the reminiscences of the joyous days of bramble-gathering. 

The inconvenient number of applications recorded by Mr Balwhidder, as having been made to his wife for the use of her brass jelly-pan, is quite consonant with the actual state of matters in a country town in Scotland in former times. These culinary conveniences being rare, the fortunate possessor of one was beset on all sides by her neighbours with requests for it, and if she were good-natured and unselfish, she ran a considerable risk of being entirely excluded herself from participation in its use. Now, however, that these utensils have become an appendage to every kitchen of the least pretension to gentility, such state of matters has come to be ranked fairly among the legendary reminiscences of the past. 

The institution of jelly and jam, as already observed, has experienced a much more extended development in North than in South Britain. In the former division of the island, the condiments in question are regarded as an indispensable appendage to every social tea-drinking, and are also invariably brought out on the occasion of any friend dropping in during the afternoon and remaining to partake of tea. To refrain from producing them, and allow the guest to make his evening repast on bread and butter, would be regarded as in the highest degree niggardly and inhospitable. When no stranger is present, these luxuries are rarely indulged in by the family – that is to say, during the week – but an exception always holds in the case of Sunday evening. On that occasion the children of a Scottish household expect to be regaled ad libitum with sweets, and the quantities of jelly then consumed in comparison with the rest of the week might form a curious question for statists. The Sunday-tea, too, is enjoyed with all the more relish that the previous dinner has been generally rather meagre, to avoid as much as possible the necessity of cooking on the Sabbath, and also somewhat hurried, being partaken of ‘between sermons,’ as the very short interval between the morning and afternoon services in termed in Scotland. Whatever may be said of the rigour of Sunday observance in the north, our recollections of the evening of that day are of the most pleasant description, and will doubtless be corroborated by the memories of many of our Scottish readers.

On this Day in Other Sources.

She rode forward to Aberdeen; without seeing Huntley’s Ghost: And went thence to Dunoter, where she remained a night: And thence proceeding along the coast road to Dundee, she there crossed the Tay into Fife; and diverging for a few days to St. Andrews, she returned to Edinburgh, about the 26th of September [1564], after an absence of two months. Randolph, in the meantime, had returned to London, and was sent back to the Scotish Queen, early in October. 

– Life of Mary, pp.78-98.

Equally did the session dictate to the town council, and even interfere in the nomination of the magistrates. on the 26th of September, 1587, they sent to the council on the day of the election “to request that in chusing the baillies men might be chosen that were fit for the office,” but they added judiciously “as near as possible.” 

– Old Glasgow, pp.189-215.



xxvj of September [1591] being Sonday. 

   Item giffin to yourself in the morneing in the kirkhaird to put in your nepiking end to the puire  

ij s.

   Item your collatioun that nycht at even upon Sonday in that same house, ane point wyne Sak  

x s.

   Item ane quart aill  

ij s.

   Item ane queyt braid  

viij d.

– Sketches, Appendix VIII.


To my loveing freind the Laird of Glenvrquhy.

     LOVING FREIND, – Accordeing to this othre lettre of my lordis, I will earnestlie desyire you to send heire my sonne, and to have him at your house in Glenvrquhy on Frayday at night the tuentie ane day of this instant preceislie, and I shall appoynt folkes to meitt him thair on Satterday in the morneing, for bringing him alonges heir. I hoipe ye wilbee cairfull to send sufficient company with him, and to cause prowyd some secure place be the way, quhar he may be that night he comes from you. So referring all to your cair, exspecteing assuredlie that ye will send him the tyme foirsaid, I rest your loveing freind, 


     Inverrarey, 14 Junii 1639.1

– Sketches, pp.341-394. 

1  In the careful fashion of that age, an account was kept of the boy’s expenses, from which I cannot resist giving a few extracts.
COMPT of MONEYIS debursit for clothes and utheris necessaris to my Lord of Lorne’s sone, beginnand the 26 of September 1633:-
Imprimis the xxvi of September to be ane coat to him iii ell and a half bread skarlet freise at v lib the ell, 
xvii lib x s.
Item iii quarter reid French steinyng at vii lib the ell, 
v lib v s.
Item ii ell Cambridg at lviii s the ell for ruffes, 
v lib xvi s.
Item ii ell of perling at 30 s the uther 33 s iiii d, 
iii lib iii s iiii d.
Item vi dusson reid silk buttons and iii quarteris of Poldavie, 
xxxiiii s.
Item vi ell of verie fyne stuff to be ane wylie coat to him at xxvi s 8 d the ell, 
viii lib.
Given to Johne Drummond taliour for making the clothes abone written, 
vi lib.  

Sep. 26 [1635]. – The pest was at this time at Cramond, near Edinburgh – supposed to have been introduced by a ship from the Low Countries, where the disease largely prevailed. The inhabitants were ordered to keep within their own parish, and two clengers from Newhaven were despatched to bury the dead and take all other needful steps to prevent the spread of infection. A strict order was issued to prevent the landing of people out of ships from Holland, or any intercourse with such vessels as might come into the Firth of Forth. 

During the ensuing year, the plague declared itself in London, Newcastle, and other towns in England, but hardly appeared in Scotland till November, when the towns of Preston, Prestonpans, and Musselburgh were slightly infected. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.228-256.

In 1684 a great fire occurred in Gallowgate, and in the absence of any efficient fire-engine the device was resorted to of taking wet hides and spreading them over the sides and thatched roofs of the adjacent houses to prevent the spread of the conflagration. Under the date 26th September, 1684, there is a minute of council ordering reparation to be made “to John Woddrop for the loss of his hydes that was taken out of his holes” for this purpose. 

– Old Glasgow, pp.68-80.

2154. [Gillies (Rev. John).] An Exhortation to the Inhabitants of the South Parish of Glasgow and the Hearers in the College Kirk. 1750.

Printed for John Orr. This was a periodical publication, and the first number is dated September 26th, 1750.

2641. An Exhortation to the Inhabitants of the South Parish of Glasgow [by John Gillies, minister]. No. 1, September 26, 1750, to No. 21, November 9, 1751.

Memorial Catalogue, Gallery 1.


Camden says, “The Britons called [Edinburgh Castle] Castel Mynedh Agneth – the maidens’ or virgins’ castle – because certain young maidens of the royal blood were kept there in old times.” The source of this oft-repeated story has probably been the assertion of Conchubhranus, that an Irish saint, or recluse, named Monena, late in the fifth century founded seven churches in Scotland, on the heights of Dun Edin, Dumbarton, and elsewhere. This may have been the St. Monena of Sliabh-Cuillin, who died in 518. The site of her edifice is supposed to be that now occupied by the present chapel of St. Margaret – the most ancient piece of masonry in the Scottish capital; and it is a curious circumstance, with special reference to the fable of the Pictish princesses, that close by it (as recorded in the Caledonian Mercury of 26th September, 1853), when some excavations were made, a number of human bones, apparently all of females, were found, together with the remains of several coffins. 

Old and New Edinburgh, pp.14-20.

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