4th of November

Saints Vitalis and Agricola, martyrs, about 304. St Joannicius, abbot, 845. St Clarus, martyr, 894. St Emeric, Hungarian prince, 11th century. St Charles Borromeo, cardinal, archbishop of Milan, and confessor, 1584.


Born. – James Montgomery, poet, 1771, Irvine, Ayrshire.
Died. – Josiah Tucker, D.D., dean of Gloucester, political economist, 1799; Paul Delaroche, celebrated painter, 1856, Paris.


On this Day in Other Sources.


This year, 1443, passed away without any matter worthy of commemoration, save that the Governor called a parliament to be held at Stirling, the 4th of November; wherein the troublers and molesters of churchmen, in the peaceable enjoying of their goods, are ordained to be punished by all judges, as persons excommunicated, until either by restitution they make their peace, or obtain absolution, in form of law, from their curse. 

– Historical Works, pp.166-189.


‘The pest brake up in harvest in Leith, by opening up of some old kists, and in Edinburgh about the 4th of November [1587]. It continued in these two towns this winter till Candlemas.’ – Cal. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.99-123.


Nov. 4 [1611]. – The Privy Council was at this time obliged to renew former acts against Night-walkers of the city of Edinburgh – namely, idle and debauched persons who went about the streets during the night in the indulgence of wild humours, and sometimes committing heinous crimes. If it be borne in mind that there was at that time no system of lighting for the streets of the city, but that after twilight all was sunk in Cimmerian darkness, saving for the occasional light of the moon and stars, the reader will be the better able to appreciate the state of things revealed by this public act. The Council ordered that no persons of any estate whatsoever presume hereafter to remain on the streets ‘after the ringing of the ten-hour bell at night.’ The magistrates were also ordained to appoint some persons to guard the streets, and apprehend all whom they might find there after the hour stated. – P. C. R. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.177-227.


After the two great fires the houses erected within the burgh were more carefully constructed, and the magistrates appear to have again given premiums to encourage a better kind of building. A fund had been raised to assist those whose houses were burned, called at the time “the brunt moneye,” and we find a grant made to one John Dainziell, the amount being limited to 400 pounds Scots, “if he build his windowes with daills in Saltmercat,” but he is to have 600 pounds “if he build them with stone.”1

– Old Glasgow, pp.68-80.

1  4th November, 1671.


The first half of the eighteenth century was a period of stagnation in Scotland. If the University of Glasgow partook of the general lethargy of that half century,1 it shared also in the energy and progress that marked the next age of Scotch history. To prove this, it is enough to point to the names that made Glasgow famous in the past hundred years, omitting those still alive. No other school of learning within so short a period can boast of an array of teachers like Cullen and Black in chemistry and medicine; Hutchison, Reid, Adam Smith in mental philosophy; Moore, Young, and Sandford in Greek literature; John Millar and Jardine in what may be called the art of education. To add to the distinction conferred by her great masters, the University of Glasgow, within the same period, has had the singular fortune of producing the printing press of Foulis, and being the birthplace of the discoveries and inventions of James Watt.2

– Sketches, pp.220-253.

1  It will scarcely save the University from this charge, that the Faculty was vigorous enough to stop the “design by a gentleman from England to give a course of experimental philosophy in the city,” – being “of opinion that the encouraging of the said design was neither for the interest nor reputation of the University.” – November 4, 1725.
2  This time, it was “the Trades” of Glasgow who stood by their exclusive privileges, and would have strangled in their birth the inventions which have benefitted their city even more than the rest of the world; but “the University interfered, made a grant in favour of young Watt of a small room in their own buildings, permitted him to establish a shop, and honoured him with the title of their mathematical instrument maker.” – Arago’s ‘Eloge of James Watt,’ translated by J. P. Muirhead, 1839, p.11. That little shop in the College buildings “became a sort of academy, whither all the learned of Glasgow resorted to discuss points of the greatest nicety in art, science, and literature.” – Ibid., p.13. It was there that Watt mended the model of Newcomen’s steam-engine, and thus gave his mind to improve the application of steam as a motive power. How much turned upon the patching of that toy! I believe the little model repaired by James Watt is still preserved with affectionate reverence.


So late as 1795 a petition was presented to the magistrates praying for the removal of all hay stacks in the Trongate, but it was unsuccessful.1 It had been said, however, and it is in all likelihood true, that to the space which these dunghills and stacks and rubbish occupied in front of the houses we owe in part the exceptional breadth of the Trongate. The booths or “crames” for merchandise which projected from the houses, contributed also to secure the present breadth of this fine street. 

– Old Glasgow, pp.266-276.

1  Burgh Records, 4th Nov. 1795.

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