11th of November – Martinmas

St Mennas, martyr, about 304. St Martin, bishop of Tours, confessor, 397.

Born. – John Albert Fabricus, scholar and editor, 1668, Leipsic; Firmin Abauzit, celebrated man of learning, 1679, Uzès, in Languedoc; Marie Francois Xavier Bichat, eminent French anatomist, 1771, Thoirette; Dr. John Abercrombie, physician and author, 1781, Aberdeen.
Died. – Jean Sylvain Bailly, eminent astronomer, guillotined at Paris, 1793.


St Martin, the son of a Roman military tribune, was born at Sabaria, in Hungary, about 316. From his earliest infancy, he was remarkable for mildness of disposition; yet he was obliged to become a soldier, a profession most uncongenial to his natural character. After several years’ service, he retired into solitude, from whence he was withdrawn, by being elected bishop of Tours, in the year 374. The zeal and piety he displayed in this office were most exemplary. He converted the whole of his diocese to Christianity, overthrowing the ancient pagan temples, and erecting churches in their stead. From the great success of his pious endeavours, Martin has been styled the Apostle of the Gauls; and, being the first confessor to whom the Latin Church offered public prayers, he is distinguished as the father of that church. In remembrance of his original profession, he is also frequently denominated the Soldier Saint. 

The principal legend, connected with St Martin, forms the subject of our illustration, which represents the saint, when a soldier, dividing his cloak with a poor naked beggar, whom he found perishing with cold at the gate of Amiens. This cloak, being most miraculously preserved, long formed one of the holiest and most valued relics of France; when war was declared, it was carried before the French monarchs, as a sacred banner, and never failed to assure a certain victory. The oratory in which this cloak or cape – in French, chape – was preserved, acquired, in consequence, the name of chapelle, the person intrusted with its care being termed chapelain: and thus, according to Collin de Plancy, our words chapel and chaplain are derived. The canons of St Martin of Tours and St Gratian had a lawsuit, for sixty years, about a sleeve of this cloak, each claiming it as their property. The Count Larochefoucalt, at last, put an end to the proceedings, by sacrilegiously committing the contested relic to the flames.

On this Day in Other Sources.

This year, 1280, Prince Alexander, King Alexander III.’s eldest son, at Roxburgh, the Sunday after St. Martin’s day [11th of November], was solemnly married to [Guy] the Earl of Flanders’ daughter [Margaret], with great feasting and triumph. 

– Historical Works, pp.57-77.

The year 1417, Otto Colonna is created Pope, the 11th of November; then after his creation, he was named Martin V., so was the schism quite taken away out of the Roman church. 

– Historical Works, 144-152.

On the 11th [November, 1566], she departed from Kelso, with design to view Berwick, when she was followed, by her court, and the country, consisting of 800, or 1000 horsemen. Proceeding, by Langton, and Wedderburn, she threw her eyes on the 15th, from Halidonhill, on Berwick. She thence, went to Coldingham, and thence passed to Dunbar, where she remained, a day or two. On this agreeable journey, she met with an accident, which was not attended with much consequence: When Sir John Forster, one of the wardens of the Borders, with the other officers of Berwick, came out, to offer their respects to the Scotish Queen, Sir John’s horse reared, and in coming down, struck the Queen’s thigh. 

– Life of Mary, pp.136-151.

The time was now come when Morton was to be rewarded for all his murders, and his treasons. He already had received the estate of Whitlaw, who was forfeited, without law. On the 11th of November 1567, he was restored, by Murray, to the office of chancellor, which was taken from Huntley. After the forfeiture of Bothwell, “his foul complotter in the horrid deed,” the regent conferred on Morton the office of great admiral of Scotland, the office of high sheriff of the shires of Edinburgh, and Hadington, was given him by Lenox, in fee, and heritage: Morton enjoyed all those lands, and offices till his forfeiture, for the King’s murder, in 1581. Such were the villanies of that age, which remain to be detected, by the present! 

– Life of Mary, pp.184-206.

It was while resident here that Knox’s enemies are said – for there is little proof of the statement – to have put a price upon his head, and that his most faithful friends were under the necessity of keeping watch around it during the night, and of appointing a guard for the protection of his person at times when he went abroad. When under danger of hostility from the queen’s garrison in the Castle, in the spring of 1571, McCrie tells us that “one evening a musket-ball was fired in at his window and lodged in the roof of the apartment in which he was sitting. It happened that he sat at the time in a different part of the room from that which he had been accustomed to occupy, otherwise the ball, from the direction it took, must have struck him.” 

It was probably after this that he retreated for a time to St. Andrews, but he returned to his manse in the end of August, 1572, while Kirkaldy was still vigorously defending the fortress for his exiled queen. 

His bodily infirmities now increased daily, and on the 11th of November he was attacked with a cough which confined him to bed. 

Two days before that he had conducted the services at the induction of his colleague, Mr. James Lawson, in St. Giles’s, and though he was greatly debilitated, he performed the important duties that devolved upon him with something of his wonted fire and energy to those who heard him for the last time. He then came down from the pulpit, and leaning on his staff, and supported by his faithful secretary, Richard Bannatyne (one account says by his wife), he walked slowly down the street to his own house, accompanied by the whole congregation, watching, for the last time, his feeble steps. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.212-218.

This was the celebrated Star of Tycho, so called because Tycho Brahé made it the subject of observation. The Danish astronomer is known to have first observed it a few days before the date assigned by Holinshed – namely, on the 11th of November, [1572,] while taking an evening walk in the fields. From the suddenness of its appearance and its very great brightness, he suspected that his sense was deceived, and was only convinced he saw truly when he found some peasants gazing at the imposing stranger with as much astonishment as himself. It has been regarded as an example of a class of stars which move in periods between remote and comparatively near points in space; and as there was a similar object seen in 945 and 1264, it was supposed that the period of this star was somewhat over 300 years. But ‘the period of 300 years, which Goodriche conjectured, has been reduced by Kiell and Pigot to 150 years.’ 

– Domestic Annals, pp.56-80.

Nov. – Another good harvest, ‘whilk was the cause that a number of fee’d servants, both men and women, did marry at Martinmas, [11th of November, 1665,] by way of penny-bridals, both within the town of Edinburgh and other parts of the country.’ – Nic

– Domestic Annals, 302-321.

The palace was assailed, the chapel royal sacked; and the Duke of Gordon, on finding that the rabble, drunk and maddened by wine and spirits found in the cellars of cavalier families who had fled, were wantonly firing on his sentinels, drew up the drawbridge, to cut off all communication with the city; but finding that his soldiers were divided in their religious and political opinions, and that a revolt was impending, he called a council of officers to frustrate the attempt; and the Lieutenant-Governor, Colonel John Winram, of Liberton and the Inch House, Colonel of the Scots Foot Guards in 1683, undertook to watch the men, forty-four of whom it was deemed necessary to strip of their uniforms and expel from the fortress. In their place came thirty Highlanders, on the 11th of November, and soon after forty-five more, under Gordon of Midstrath. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.47-66.

Our sovereign lord and lady the king and queen’s majesties, considering that before the year 1669 there was no law empowering the lords of justiciary to forfeit in absence for treason or any other crime but, on the contrary, by the 90th act, parliament 11th, King James VI, of the year 1587, it is statute, declared and ordained that the whole accusation, reasoning, writs, witnesses and other probation and instruction whatsoever of the crime should be alleged, reasoned and deduced to the assize in the presence of the party accused in face of judgement and not otherwise. And therefore, their majesties, with advice and consent of the estates of parliament, declare that all sentences pronounced by the justice court in absence of the accused for treason or any other crime before the year 1669 were from the beginning null and void, and hereby restore all persons or their representatives so forfeited by the justices by way of justice, and particularly the representatives of [William] Muir of Caldwell, […] Kerr of Kersland and Mr William Veitch, minister of the Gospel, which shall be as valid and effectual to all intents and purposes as if they had a special act of parliament reducing these forfeitures. And hereby rescind the act of parliament in the year 1669 in so far as it ratifies these forfeitures, and allow the foresaid persons to apply to the commission named by the act of parliament rescinding fines and forfeitures for claiming of bygones preceding Martinmas [11 November] 1688 conforming to that act. [William II and Mary II: 1690, 15 April, Edinburgh, Parliament.]

London Quarterly Review.

On another occasion a teacher of dancing applies for permission to exercise his art; but this was a matter in regard to which the magistrates – looking probably to the state of morals at the time – thought that more caution was required, and accordingly leave is given only “under the provisions and conditions underwritten.” These are, “that he shall behave himself soberly, teach at seasonable hours, keep no balls, and that he shall so order his teaching that ther shall be noe promiscuous dancing of young men and young women together, bot that each sex shall be taught by themselves, and that the one sex shall be dismissed and be out of his house before the other enter therin: And, if he transgress in any of these poynts the Magistrats to putt him out of this burgh.”1

– Old Glasgow, pp.276-289.

1  11th November, 1700.

2639. The Glasgow Courant. Containing the Occurences Both at Home and Abroad.

Nos. 1 to 67, November, 11-14, 1715, to April 28-May 1, 1716. 

Printed for R. T. & R. Johnston. With No. 4 the title was changed to “The West-Country Intelligence, containing the News,” &c. Printed and are to be sold by Robert Johnston. This is the earliest Glasgow newspaper. Its size is a small quarto. 

– Memorial Catalogue, Gallery 1.

Nov. 11 [1723]. – A number of people proceeding from Galashiels and its neighbourhood to attend a fair at Melrose, and crossing the Tweed in a ferry-boat at Nether Barnsford, near what afterwards became Abbotsford, were thrown by the oversetting of the boat into the water, then in flood, and eighteen of them drowned. A boy named Williamson, son of a tradesman in Galashiels, was preserved in a wonderful way. Thrown at first to the bottom of the river, he caught a man by the hair of his head, and was thus enabled to rise to the surface. There he was kept afloat by grasping, first, a bundle of lint, and then a sackful of gray cloth, letting go each in succession as it became saturated with water. Then a deal from the ‘lofting’ of the boat came near him, and he grasped it firmly below his breast. Meanwhile he was moving rapidly down the stream. there was a place where formerly a bridge had been, and where three piers yet stood in the water. It was with difficulty he got through one of the spaces, and over a cascade on the lower side of the bridge. Sometimes, thrown on his back, he was under water for thirty or forty yards, but he never let go the deal. At length, after going considerably more than a mile in this manner, he was taken up by the West-house boat, the manager of which had been warned of his coming, and of his possible preservation, by a ploughman mounted on a horse, which, escaping from the overset boat, had swum ashore in time to admit of this rapid and dexterous movement. – Caledonian Mercury

– Domestic Annals, pp.390-397.

Even Mr. Loch in his before-mentioned work, has been constrained to admit the extreme distress of the people. He says, (page 76,) “Their wretchedness was so great, that after pawning everything they possessed, to the fishermen on the coast, such as had no cattle were reduced to come down from the hills in hundreds, for the purpose of gathering cockles on the shore. Those who lived in the more remote situations of the country were obliged to subsist upon broth made of nettles, thickened with a little oatmeal. Those who had cattle had recourse to the still more wretched expedient of bleeding them, and mixing the blood with oatmeal, which they afterwards cut into slices and fried. Those who had a little money, came down and slept all night upon the beach, in order to watch the boats returning from the fishing, that they might be in time to obtain a part of what had been caught.” This gentleman, however, omits to mention, the share he had in bringing things to such a pass, and also that, at the same time, he had armed constables stationed at Littleferry, the only place where shell-fish were to be found, to prevent the people from gathering them. In his next page he gives an exaggerated account of the relief afforded by the proprietors. I shall not copy his mis-statements, but proceed to say what that relief, so ostentatiously put forth, really consisted of. As to his assertion that “£3,000 had been given by way of loan to those who had cattle,” I look upon it to be a fabrication, or, if the money really was sent by the noble proprietors, it must have been retained by those entrusted with its distribution; for, to my knowledge, it never came to the hands of any small tenants. There was, indeed, a considerable quantity of meal sent, though far from enough to afford effectual relief, but this meal represented to be given in charity, was charged at the following Martinmas [November 11th] term, at the rate of 50s. per boll.* Payment was rigorously exacted, and those who had cattle were obliged to give them up for that purpose, but this latter part of the story was never sent to the newspapers, and Mr. Loch has also forgotten to mention it! There was a considerable quantity of medicine given to the ministers for distribution for which no charge was made, and this was the whole amount of relief afforded.

– Gloomy Memories, pp.12-15.

*  1 bol = 4 firlots; 1 firlot = 4 pecks; 1 peck = approx. 12 lbs; so 1 bol = approx. 192 lbs.

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