27th of October

St Frumentius, apostle of Ethiopia, bishop and confessor, 4th century. St Abban, abbot in Ireland, about 500. St Elesbaan, king of Ethiopia, confessor, 6th century.

Born. – Dr Andrew Combe, eminent physiologist, 1797, Edinburgh.
Died. – Marcus Junius Brutus, assassin of Julius Cæsar, 42 B.C., Philippi; Pope Eugenius II., 827; Michael Servetus, burned for heresy at Geneva, 1553; Rev. John Thomson, landscape-painter, 1840, Duddingston, near Edinburgh; Madame Ida Pfeiffer, celebrated traveller, 1858, Vienna.

On this Day in Other Sources.

One peculiar case with which the presbytery dealt was that of Mr. George Semple, minister of Killellan, who was accused by John Hutcheson, one of the bailies of Paisley, that “he had ane book of Mr. Michael Scotts of unlawful airtes; that he saw him buy Albertus Magnus; that he heard him speak of sundrie vnlawful conceits;” and, to crown all, that “he hard tell that he made ballads and sonnets.”1 There are among ourselves some clerical gentlemen who collect curious books, and even some who write poetry, with whom it would have fared ill had they lived in those days. There were other charges against Mr. George, but the result of the trial is not stated. 

– Old Glasgow, pp.189-215.

1  27th Oct. 1613.

For a long time the magistrates paid an allowance or annual pension to a “chirurgian” for the benefit of the poorer class of citizens, and among the practitioners thus subsidized was “Mr. Petir Lou,”* a name well known in the medical history of the city, of whom mention has already been made. The amount paid to this gentleman appears in a minute of the town council in 1608: “Gifen to Mr. Petir Lou chyrurgin for his pensioun addettit be the toun to him liiij£ vis. viijd.” (£4, 8s. 10d.) Subsequently the city paid also for the services of a physician, but this practice was discontinued in 1684, at a time when the finances of the burgh were at a very low ebb. The minute on the subject is curious: “27 October. The said day the Magistrats and counsell considering the sad condition the toun is in throw the great debt they are resting, it is theirfoir concludit that the toun shall make use of no persone as the touns physitian or chirugian in time coming, and if any person who is unwell, and deserves to be cured, wpon their applicatioun to any of the Magistrats they are empowered to recommend them to any physitian they shall think fitt.” Apparently they had not been particular as to who they employed in cases which they thought deserving of cure, as in the same year in which they discontinued the employment of a “chirurgian” there is an entry in the records of a payment “to the mountebank for cutting off umqll Archibald Bogles leg.” The mountebank was paid for this service “60 lib” (£5), a sufficiently liberal fee considering that his patient, being described as deceased, had probably died under his hands.

Old Glasgow, pp.215-237.

*  Peter Lowe is mentioned in Article Nos. 25 and 27 of Gallery 1 of the ‘Memorial Catalogue of the Old Glasgow Exhibition 1894.’

But although the magistrates, as a rule, dispensed even-handed justice, they undoubtedly did so in many instances in a very arbitrary way, and with little regard to constitutional forms. To such an extent had this come to be carried by the magistrates who came into power after the Restoration, that it became a public scandal, and in 1684 we find the following minute by their successors: “The same day the Magistrats and counsell considering the great clamour made be the tounes people by the abuses committed be the lait Magistrats these few yeirs past by decerning severall persones to pay debts and soumes of money to others, and extorting and exacting fynes from several of them, without vsing ane probatioune or decerning any formall sentence against them in public court, far contrair to the law and pratique of the burgh: for remeid therof it is enacted and concluded that in tyme cuming none of the Magistrats within the burgh, Baillie of Gorballs, nor Watter baillie, shall have power to fyne any persone except by conveining the transgressors in a public court.”1

– Old Glasgow, pp.215-237.

1  27th October, 1684.

Under this patronage Mr. Macpherson set out on his literary journey to the Highlands in the year 1760; and during his tour he transmitted from time to time to Dr. Blair and his other literary friends, accounts of his progress in collecting, from many different and remote parts, all the remains he could find of ancient Gaelic poetry, either in writing or by oral tradition. In the course of his journey he wrote two letters to the Rev. James McLagan, formerly minister of Amalrie, afterwards of Blair in Athole, which, as they throw much light on the subject of these poems, and particularly on the much contested question, whether Macpherson ever collected any manuscripts, are given entire. The first of these letters is dated from Ruthven, 27th October, 1760, and is as follows:- 

   “REV. SIR, – You perhaps have heard, that I am employed to make a collection of the ancient poetry in the Gaelic. I have already traversed most of the Isles, and gathered all worth notice in that quarter. I intend a journey to Mull and the coast of Argyle, to enlarge my collection. 

   “By letters from Edinburgh, as well as gentlemen of your acquaintance, I am informed, that you have a good collection of poems of the kind I want. It would be, therefore, very obliging should you transmit me them as soon as convenient, that my book might be rendered more complete, and more for the honour of our old poetry. Traditions are uncertain; poetry delivered down from memory must lose considerably; and it is a matter of surprise to me, how we have now any of the beauties of our ancient Gaelic poetry remaining. 

   “Your collection, I am informed, is pure, as you have taken pains to restore the style. I shall not make any apology for this trouble, as it will be for the honour of our ancestors, how many of their pieces of genius will be brought to light. I have met with a number of old manuscripts in my travels; the poetical part of them I have endeavoured to secure. 

   “If any of that kind falls within your hearing, I beg it of you, to have them in sight. 

   “I shall probably do myself the pleasure of waiting on you before I return to Edinburgh. Your correspondence in the meantime will be very agreeable. You will excuse this trouble from an entire stranger, and believe me, &c. 

(Signed)                                                 James McPherson.    

   “Inform me of what you can of the tradition of the poems: direct to me by Edinburgh and Ruthven, inclosed to Mr. Macpherson, postmaster here.” 

– History of the Highands, pp.36-59.

Since my last, I have received communications from correspondents on whom I can rely, which, I need scarcely say, give a very different colour to the proceedings from what appears in the Courier, emanating, as it evidently does, from the party inflicting the injury. The first notice in that paper represents the conduct of the poor natives in the blackest aspect, while the latter, that of the 27th October, [1841,] is calculated to mislead the public in another way, by representing them as sensible of their errors, and acknowledging the justice of the severities practiced upon them. 

The Courier says, “we are happy to learn that the excitement that led to the disturbance by Mr. Anderson’s tenants in Durness had subsided, and that the people are quiet, peaceful, and fully sensible of the illegality and unjustifiable nature of their proceedings. The Sheriff addressed the people in a powerful speech, with an effect which had the best consequences. They soon made written communications to the Sheriff and Mr. Anderson, stating their contrition, and soliciting forgiveness; promising to remove voluntarily in May next, if permitted in the meantime to remain and occupy their houses. An agreement on this footing was then happily accomplished, which, while it vindicates the law, tempers justice with mercy. Subsequently, Mr. Napier, Advocate-Depute, arrived at the place to conduct the investigation,” &c. 

Latterly the Courier says, 

“The clergyman of the parish convinced the people, and Mr. Lumsden, the Sheriff, addressed them on the serious nature of their late proceedings; this induced them to petition Mr. Anderson, their landlord, asking his forgiveness; and he has allowed them to remain till May next. We trust something will be done in the interval for the poor homeless Mountaineers.” This is the subdued, though contemptuous tone of the Courier, owing doubtless to the noble and impartial conduct of the Advocate-Depute, Mr. Napier, who in conducting the investigation, found, notwithstanding the virulent and railing accusations brought by those who had driven the poor people to madness, that their conduct was  very different from what it had been represented. The Courier, in his first article, called for the military “to vindicate the law” by shedding the blood of the Sutherland rebels; but now calls them “poor homeless mountaineers.” His crocodile tears accord ill with the former virulence of him and his employers, and we have to thank Mr. Napier for the change. The local authorities who assisted at the precognition did the utmost that malice could suggest to exasperate that gentleman against the people, but he went through the case in his own way, probing it to the bottom, and qualifying their rage by his coolness and impartiality. 

Notwithstanding a series of injuries and provocations unparalleled, this is the first time the poor Sutherlanders, so famous in their happier days for defending their country and its laws, have been led to transgress; and I hope when the day of trial comes, the very worst of them will be found “more sinned against than sinning.” It is to be lamented that the law has been violated by the oppressors of this people, under colour of law! The poor victims, simple, ignorant, and heart-broken, have men of wealth, talent, and influence, for their opponents and accusers – the very individuals who have been the authors of all their woes, are now their vindictive persecutors – against the combination of landlords, factors, and other officials, there is none to espouse their cause. One of my correspondents says, the only gentleman who seemed to take any interest in the people’s cause was ordered by the Sheriff Lumsden out of his presence. 

– Gloomy Memories, pp.56-59.

Glasgow Morning Journal, 27th October 1865, p.2. 




   On Wednesday night or early yesterday morning Janet Fowler or Simpson, wife of Mr Simpson, farmer, Banks, Inverkip Glen, died suddenly in a cab under peculiar and mysterious circumstances. the facts, as far as we have gathered them, are these:-  Mrs Simpson had been in Glasgow on Wednesday on business, and on returning home with the 7 p.m. train from Glasgow, she got out at Port Glasgow by mistake for Greenock, se being somewhat intoxicated. The train left before she was recalled to herself, and she set out on foot for Greenock. At the foot of Barr’s Brae the attention of the police was called to her, as she was showing signs of intoxication. One of the constables named John McDonald, who was lately a gamekeeper, at once recognised her, and along with his neighbour constable, Donald Anderson, assisted her into a cab standing close at hand. They proceeded to the police station with her, and knowing her respectability got Mrs Howden to make her a cup of strong tea. She recovered herself after the tea; and about 9 o’clock Superintendant Howden sent her to the Queen’s Hotel, the two constables accompanying her. She was then able to walk herself. The men afterwards returned to the station, and stated they had left hr in the hotel for the night. Mr Howden heard nothing further of her till yesterday morning, when it was reported to him that she had died on the road home in a cab, while in the company of Constable McDonald. An investigation was thereupon set on foot, when it was ascertained that after McDonald had reported having fulfilled his mission, a girl from the hotel called him from his beat about 10 o’clock to go and see Mrs Simpson. He went there and found her determined to go home. She was proposing to walk, but McDonald ordered a cab from the Black Bull stables. The cab, driven by James Andrews, arrived at a quarter to eleven o’clock. McDonald got inside, along with Mrs Simpson, and they proceeded on the Banks Farm, by Greenock. In passing along Hamilton Street they stopped at the Buck’s Head Inn, and got three glasses of whisky – one to each. Mr Brodie spoke to Mrs Simpson. She seemed at that time all right. The cab then proceeded to its destination, as far as the Isle of Mull, about three miles out of Greenock. At this point the road to the farm strikes off the Inverkip turnpike, and is nearly a mile in length and mostly very steep. the driver, seeing the steepness of the road, and being unacquainted with it, refused to go further. McDonald wanted Mrs Simpson to go out and walk the rest of the way home, but, as he says, she refused, and said she would rather return to the Buck’s Head Inn. In these circumstances the cab was put about and returned to Greenock. It drew up at the Buck’s Head shortly after one o’clock. McDonald tried to rouse up the host, but failing, drove to the Police Office. From the police books here we find that, at 1.30, a cab drove up to the office, and a Port-Glasgow constable requested them to lodge a woman who had got drink, and gave some of the above facts. On the sergeant going to the door to help her out he discovered that she was dead. The constable expressed surprise at the discovery. The body of the poor woman was thereupon ordered to be conveyed in the cab to the Infirmary. Deceased was about 50 years of age. She was a strong, clever woman, but has come through considerable mental trouble. About 20 years ago she kept a grocery shop in Inverkip Street, but Mr Simpson becoming a tenant of Banks about 1846 she took charge there, and managed the work well. A son of theirs met his death some five or six years ago from the accidental discharge of a gun his brother was using. Shortly after that distressing event another of their children died from being scalded with a boiling pot tumbling over it. Over a year ago she got one of her legs broken, and has not since been the same woman, being at times addicted to drinking rather freely. It is said her son was at the Greenock station up till 10 o’clock waiting for her. the sad affair has caused much sympathy with Mr Simpson and the family. We understand Constable McDonald has been arrested in the meantime, pending the inquiry by the County Fiscal. 

Curious and Interesting Deaths.

[N.B. This Constable was later found not to have been guilty of having had a hand in her death.]

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