2nd of October

The Feast of the Holy Angel-Guardians. St Leodegarius or Leger, bishop and martyr, 678.

Born. – Cardinal Charles Borromeo, editor of the Noctes Vaticanæ, 1538, Arona; The Chevalier d’Eon, celebrated adventurer and pretended female, 1728, Tonnerre, Burgundy.
Died. – Aristotle, great Greek philosopher, 322 B.C., Chalcis; Thomas Thomson, legal and literary antiquary, 1852, Edinburgh.


Ritson had no patience for looseness of diction or assertion; and an amusing anecdote of this is given by Sir Walter Scott, who was intimate with him. He had visited Sir Walter at his cottage near Lasswade, and, in the course of conversation, spoke of the remains of the Roman Wall in the border counties as not above a foot or two in height, on the authority of some friend at Hexham. Sir Walter assured him, that near Gilsland ‘it was high enough for the fall to break a man’s neck.’ Ritson took a formal note, visited the spot afterwards, and then wrote to say he had tested the assertion, and thought it accurate. ‘I immediately saw,’ says Sir Walter, ‘what a risk I had been in, for you may believe I had no idea of being taken quite so literally.’ 


Sir Walter Scott said of Ritson, ‘he had an honesty of principle about him, which, if it went to ridiculous extremities, was still respectable from the soundness of the foundation. I don’t believe the world could have made Ritson say the thing he did not think.’ Surtees adds, ‘that excessive aspiration after absolute and exact verity, I verily believe, was one cause of that unfortunate asperity with which he treated some most respectable contemporaries.’ In Ritson, then, we may study the evil effects of a narrowed view of truth itself, when combined with an irritable temper. Hated as a critic, while respected as a scholar, he rendered himself unnecessarily an object of dislike and aversion, whilst with a little more suavity he might have fulfilled his mission equally well. To him we are undoubtedly indebted for a more exact rendering of our ancient authors, which has guarded them from that loose editorship which was Ritson’s abomination. His name and works, therefore, take an important place in literary history. His personal errors, and their consequences, should also be a warning to such critics as needlessly turn their pens to poniards, and their ink to gall.

On this Day in Other Sources.

A small hill called Margaret’s-Law, having been opened in 1772, in search of materials for enclosures, was found to be an artificial accumulation of stones, amounting to 15,000 cart-loads, and having in its centre five stone-coffins with human skulls and bones, and earthen urns, which were believed to have been there since the battle of Largs. The grand antiquities of the parish are memorials of this battle, fought on the 2d October, 1263, between Haco of Norway, and Alexander Ill. of Scotland. Haco, to enforce his claims on the sovereignty of the Hebrides, sailed up the frith of Clyde with a numerous fleet and army, and anchored in the sound between the coast and the Cumbrays. Alexander had used every stratagem to gain time, and at length lay encamped, with about 1,500 well-appointed cavalry, and a numerous host of inferior soldiery, on the heights behind Largs overlooking the sea. On the night preceding the 2d October, Haco suffered fearful damage from a powerful storm blowing right up the frith and sound upon his fleet, and, in the morning, was obliged, while most of his forces were either drowned or struggling for the preservation of his remaining ships, to effect an embarrassed landing with a dispirited band only about 900 in number. Instantly confronted with the fresh and strong force of Alexander, part of the Norwegian little army was driven back into the sea, and part retired sword in hand, and fighting all the way, to a place a little below Kelburn. A few more of the Norwegians having landed, the apparently overpowering force of Alexander was resisted in a continuous fight, till the cloud of night sheltered Haco’s little shattered remnant, and allowed them to withdraw to their ships. Haco got leave from the Scottish king peacefully to inter his numerous followers who had fallen; and, in a few days afterwards, he collected the relics of his fleet, and sailed away to Orkney, there to die in December under the pressure of his sorrow. The chief scene of the contest is supposed to have been a large plain southward of the village of Largs, still presenting a recumbent stone 10 feet long, which once stood upright, and is believed to have been placed over the grave of a chieftain; and vestiges of cairns and tumuli formed, as is said, over pits into which the bodies of the slain were thrown. Within the parish of Dalry, immediately beyond the south-east boundary of Largs, is a farm called Camphill, where the Scottish army are said to have encamped previous to the engagement. Between that place and the village of Largs, is Routdon-burn, having on its bank a cairn in which a stone-coffin was found, and supposed to have received its name of Routdon or Routdane, from having been the place where a detachment of Haco’s army were routed. Some way down the burn is Burly-gate; nearer the sea, in the Earl of Glasgow’s plantations, is Killing-craig; and farther to the south is Kepping-burn, where, it is said, a number of the fleeing Norwegians were met by Sir Robert Boyd, ancestor of the Earls of Kilmarnock, afterwards the tried friend of Robert Bruce, and put to the sword.

– Gazetteer of Scotland, Largs, pp.225-227.

Oct. 2 [1561]. – Before the queen had been settled for many weeks in her capital, the new-born zeal of the people against the old religion found vent in a way that showed in how little danger she was of being spoilt by complaisance on the part of her subjects. The provost of Edinburgh, Archibald Douglas, with the bailies and council, ‘causit ane proclamation to be proclaimit at the Cross of Edinburgh, commanding and charging all and sundry monks, friars, priests, and all others papists and profane persons, to pass furth of Edinburgh within twenty-four hours, under the pain of burning of disobeyers upon the cheek and harling of them through the town upon ane cart. At the whilk proclamation, the queen’s grace was very commovit.’ – D. O. She had, after all, sufficient influence to cause the provost and bailies to be degraded from their offices for this act of zeal. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.13-29.



The second of October being Satterday.

   Item giffin to the smyth for your broun geldin schone 

xiij s. iiij d.

– Sketches, Appendix VIII.

Having so far succeeded, the ministers, instigated by the Queen of England, now entreated the king to send the earl of Argyle, a youth of nineteen years of age, in the pay of queen Elizabeth, with an army against the Catholic earls. The king, still yielding to necessity, complied, and Argyle having collected a force of about twelve thousand men, entered Badenoch and laid siege to the castle of Ruthven, on the twenty-seventh day of September, fifteen hundred and ninety-four. He was accompanied in this expedition by the earl of Athol, Sir Lauchlan Maclean with some of his islanders, the chief of the Mackintoshes, the laird of Grant, the Clan-Gregor, Macneil of Barra with all their friends and dependents, together with the whole of the Campbells, and a variety of others whom a thirst for plunder or malice towards the Gordons had induced to join the earl of Argyle’s standard. The castle of Ruthven was so well defended by the Clan-Pherson, who were the earl of Huntly’s vassals, that Argyle was obliged to give up the siege. He then marched through Strathspey, and encamped at Drummin, upon the river Avon, on the second day of October, from whence he issued orders to Lord Forbes, the Frasers, the Dunbars, the Clan-Kenzie, the Irvings, the Ogilvies, the Leslies, and other tribes and clans in the north, to join his standard with all convenient speed. 

– History of the Highlands, pp.213-232.

The 2nd of October, this year [1603], the notorious thief and rebel, Alister MacGregor, Laird of Glenstrae, who had escaped [John Campbell] the Laird of Ardkinlas’ hands, was taken by Archibald [Campbell], Earl of Argyll, who (before he would yield) had promised to him to convoy him safe out of Scottish ground; to perform which promise, he caused some servants [to] convey him to Berwick, and be south [of] it some miles, and bring him back again to Edinburgh, where he was hanged, with many of his kindred,.. 

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

Oct. 2 [1603]. – Campbell of Ardkinlas, set on by the Earl of Argyll, exerted himself to capture Macgregor of Glenstrae, who for some months had been under ban of the government on account of the slaughterous conflict of Glenfruin. He called Macgregor to a banquet in his house, which stands within a loch, and there made no scruple to lay hold of the unfortunate chieftain. Being immediately after put into a boat, under a guard of five men, to be conducted to the Earl of Argyll, Macgregor contrived to get his hands loose, struck down the guardsman nearest him, and leaping into the water, swam to land unharmed. 

Some time after, the Earl of Argyll sent a message to Macgregor, desiring him to come and confer with him, under promise to let him go free if they should not come to an agreement. He ‘came with the Earl of Argyll to Edinburgh’.., ‘with eighteen mae of his friends.’ The remainder of the transaction is narrated by the diarist Birrel. Macgregor ‘was convoyit to Berwick by the guard, conform to the earl’s promise; for he promised to put him out of Scots grund. Sae he keepit ane Hielandman’s promise, in respect he sent the guard to convoy him out of Scots grund; but they were not directed to part with him, but to fetch him back again… He came at even again to Edinburgh, and upon the 20 day, he was hangit at the Cross, and eleven mae of his friends and name, upon ane gallows; himself being chief, he was hangit his awn height above the rest of his friends.’ 

– Domestic Annals, pp.177-227.

In the same year “a perfyt catallog” was ordered to be made up “of the haill names of the persons within this burgh able for weir,” and certain days were fixed for drilling. Three years later, as the troubles thickened, every one capable of bearing arms was called out. In that year – 1643 – Charles I. issued a proclamation for “putting of this haill kingdome on ane present postoure of war,” and the magistrates of Glasgow ordered that “in everie ane of the four quarters of the toun everie man be in readiness at all tymes with sufficient armes and that they use and exerce the same;” and directions are given as to this and officers appointed.1

– Old Glasgow, pp.162-175.

1  Minute of Council, 2d October, 1643.

Our burgh records contain but few notices of the prison discipline in the old tolbooths of Glasgow; but one curious incident may be quoted which illustrates the relations subsisting between the jailers and their prisoners. In the year 1666 an individual called “Johne Rowat merchand,” held the office of jailer of the Tolbooth at the Cross, and one of his prisoners – committed for what cause is not stated – was “the Laird of Branshoyle.” John had some dispute with his prisoner, which he ended by putting him in irons. Possibly the laird deserved it, but he had friends who brought the matter before the magistrates, and the jailer lost his place. He applied to be reponed, and his supplication and apology is recorded in the council minutes. After stating his appointment to the office of “keiper to their Lordships tolbuith quhilk he hes attendit theis divers yeares bygane,” it proceeds thus: “And laitlie ane of the prisoners therein, the Laird of Branshoyle, haveing far exceeded the bounds of ane prisoner towards the supplicant, his keiper, trew it is that in ane passioune the supplicant did exceid his power and commissioune, in laying him in the irones, for the quhilk he is very sore grieved from the bottom of his heart, albeit he was heighlie provocked therto: And trewlie he dar say that he hes dearlie payit for it, for with the anger he took at that time he hes never sensyne bein quyt of ane most cruell collick and gravell, quhairby he was very lyklie to have lost his lyfe and is not ʒit fullie quyt of it.” He then acknowledges the justice of his dismissal, and craves the council to pitie him at this tyme seing their Lordships know he hes lived honestlie heirtofoir, and come of honest and ancient parents within this burgh, besyde that he is awand fyfe thowsand marks and hes the burdone of four motherles childerin; and that your Lordships wald be pleased to readmitt the supplicant againe to his charge, and be the grace of God the lyk should never be sein in him againe.”1 He was reponed, but he lost his place again soon afterwards for allowing a prisoner to escape. 

– Old Glasgow, pp.140-150.

1  Burgh Records, 2d October, 1666.


   At Wednesday night’s ‘Social’ in the Gilfillan Memorial, Mr Macrae lectured before a large audience on ‘Scottish National Rights.’ As Scotchmen, he said, they were proud of their nationality, and with good reason. Froude had declared that three small nations had made deep marks in the fields of time – Judea, Greece, and Scotland. Scotland had done good work in the world; and her history was a fountain of perpetual inspiration to her children both at home and abroad. There was nothing selfish about her patriotism. It carried with it a sense of responsibility and fraternity. Love of home was a nursery for the larger sentiment of patriotism, and patriotism was a nursery for the still larger sentiment of international fraternity and the brotherhood of man. If Scotland sacrificed her national life and her sense of national honour and self-respect, she would be less worthy of the respect of other nations. He wished to call attention to two things that were inflicting deadly injury on that national life, and that needed to be resolutely and strenuously fought against. One was the evil of centralisation; the other was the practice of submitting to have Scotland spoken of as part of England, thus surrendering at one stroke Scotland’s claim to national existence, and therefore to national rights. Speaking on this point, he said that names were vital things. They were the landmarks and fingerposts of history. Why had Scotland made it an indispensable condition to union with England that the united name should be – not England, but ‘Great Britain?’ Why did she postpone the union until England accepted this condition? Because it enshrined a great historic truth, and put England’s seal to the fact that after centuries of conflict Scotland remained unconquered, and entered the union a free and independent nation to form along with England a still larger nationality under the name of Great Britain… Encouraged by the cowardly acquiescence of the Scottish members of Parliament, the Government had introduced the name of ‘England’ into the New Hebrides and Burmah Treaties, instead of the term required by the treaties of union between England and Scotland, and between Great Britain and Ireland. It was high time that Scotland looked to her rights.”  

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Thursday 2nd October 1890. 

Treaty of Union Articles, 1875-1900.

   “I understand your able writer proposes to proceed with the history of most of the Scottish Earldoms. When he arrives at the period of the 16th century. I hope he will endeavour to write a separate history of Lord Kellie’s alleged new title of Mar, with documentary proofs of its creation and career; but I fear he will find this a somewhat difficult task, or it would surely have been published before the year of grace 1896!

   Perhaps some day we shall be enlightened as to why the authorities for the ‘Decreet of Ranking’ in 1606 failed to rank, and were ignorant of an Earldom of Mar of only forty years’ standing, on Lord Kellie’s assumption; why the Erskine family never held or claimed that alleged new peerage till 1875; in what manner was it attainted, or restored from the Jacobite attainder? and by what authority a London Committee for ‘Privileges’ can call into existence a new Scottish Earldom, not on the ‘Union Roll’ of authentic Peerages in 1707, while by the Treaty of Union the Crown and Parliament are precluded from creating a Scottish Peerage? These are questions into which an inquiry has been persistently refused. – Yours, &c.,


   Blaragie, Kingussie, October 2nd, 1896.”

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1875-1900.

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