13th of November

St Mitrius, martyr, beginning of 4th century. St Brice, bishop and confessor, 444. St Chillen or Killian, priest, 7th century. St Constant, 777. St Homobonus, merchant, confessor, 1197. St Didacus, confessor, 1463. St Stanislas Kostka, confessor, 1568.

 

Born. – St Augustine, bishop of Hippo, and father of the Church, 354, Tagaste, Numidia; Pelagius, celebrated antagonist of St Augustine, 354; Philip Beroaldus, the Elder, scholar and critic, 1450, Bologna
Died. – Justinian, Roman emperor, 565; Malcolm Canmore, king of Scotland, 1093, Alnwick, Northumberland; Thomas Erpenius, celebrated orientalist, 1624, Leyden; Sir John Forbes, eminent physician and medical writer, 1861, Whitchurch, near Reading.

 

SHOOTING-STARS.

During three successive years, from 1831 to 1833, the 13th of November was marked by a magnificent display of shooting or falling stars, those mysterious visitants to our globe respecting whose real nature and origin science is still so perplexed. The first of these brilliant exhibitions was witnessed off the coasts of Spain, and in the country bordering on the Ohio. The second is thus described by Captain Hammond of H.M.S. Restitution, who beheld it in the Red Sea, off Mocha. ‘From one o’clock A.M. till after daylight, there was a very unusual phenomenon in the heavens. It appeared like meteors bursting in every direction. The sky at the time was clear, the stars and moon bright, with streaks of light, and thin white clouds interspersed in the sky. On landing in the morning, I inquired of the Arabs if they had noticed the above. They said they had been observing it it most 9of the night. I asked them if ever the like had appeared before. The oldest of them replied that it had not.’ The area over which this phenomenon was seen extended from the Red Sea westwards to the Atlantic, and from Switzerland to the Mauritius. 

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But the most imposing display of shooting-stars on record occurred on the third of these occasions – that is, on 13th November 1833. It extended chiefly over the limits comprised between longitude 61o in the Atlantic, and 100o in Central Mexico, and from the latitude of the great lakes of North America, to the West Indies. From the appearance presented, it might be regarded as a grad and portentous display of nature’s fireworks. Seldom has a scene of greater or more awful sublimity been exhibited than at the Falls of Niagara on this memorable occasion, the two leading powers in nature, water and fire, engaging, as it were, in an emulative display of their grandeur. The awful roar of the cataract filled the mind of the spectator with an infinitely heightened sense of sublimity, when its waters were lightened up by the glare of the meteoric torrent in the sky. In many parts of the country, the people were terror-struck, imagining that the end of the world was come; whilst those whose education and vigour of mind prevented them from yielding to such terrors, were, nevertheless, vividly reminded of the grand description in the Apocalypse, ‘The stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig-tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.’

The most probably theory as to the nature of shooting-stars is, that they form part of the solar system, revolving round the sun in the same manner as the planetoids, but both infinitely smaller in size, and subject to great and irregular perturbations. The latter cause brings them not unfrequently within the limits of the earth’s atmosphere, on entering which they become luminous from the great heat produced by the sudden and violent compression which their transit occasions. Having thus approached the earth with great velocity, they are as rapidly again withdrawn from it into the realms of space. It is very possible, moreover, that the fiery showers which we have just described, may be the result of a multitude of these meteors encountering each other, whilst the aërolites, or actual meteoric substances, which occasionally fall to the surface of the earth, may be such of those bodies as have been brought so far within the influence of terrestrial gravity as to be rendered subject to its effects.

 

On this Day in Other Sources.

 

The Queen, with her suite, on the 13th of November, [1562,] set out, from Dundee, for Perth, where she remained till the 16th: 

– Life of Mary, 62-77.

 

Dunoon continued till about the commencement of the seventeenth century to be the occasional residence of the family of Argyll; and from hence it is known they granted charters to their vassals. The Rev. Mr. Campbell of Dunoon has in his possession a charter to one of his predecessors dated at Dunoon, the 13th day of November 1573, and witnessed by the principal heritors of the district of Cowal. After it ceased to be inhabited, the Castle was allowed to fall into a state of delapidation. 

– Select Views, pp.121-126.

 

Nov. 13 [1577]. – ‘This year, in the winter, appeared a terrible comet, the stern [star, forming the head] whereof was very great, and proceeding from it towards the east a long tail, in appearance of an ell and a half, like to a besom or scourge made of wands all fiery. It raise nightly in the south-west, not above a degree and a half ascending above the horizon, and continued about a sax weeks or twa month, and piece and piece wore away. The greatest effects whereof that out of our country we heard, was a great and mighty battle in Barbaria in Afric, wherein three kings were slain, with a huge multitude of people. And within the country the chasing away of the Hamiltons, &c.’ – Ja. Mel. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.65-80.

 

This year, came [Ludovic] Stewart, eldest son to [Esmé], Duke of Lennox, from France, and landed at Leith, the 13th day of November, [1583,] and immediately after his homecoming, Archibald, Earl of Angus, was confined a prisoner to Inverness. 

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

 

Nov. 13 [1650]. – At this distressing time, when the best part of the country was in the hands of foreign invaders, and the ancient monarchy of Scotland threatened with destruction, there occurred a calamitous event which must have been peculiarly bewailed. The palace of Holyrood being then in the occupation of a party of the English troops, took fire, and was in great part destroyed. The most interesting portion of the building – the north-west tower, containing the apartments of Queen Mary – was fortunately preserved; but the principal façade was laid in ruins, so that the general appearance was, on a restoration, much changed. About the same time, the English soldiery, for the sake of fuel, broke down the furniture of the University buildings, the High School, and of three churches – College, Greyfriars, and Lady Yester’s – besides the plenishing of many houses in town and country. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.278-301.

 

Corehouse appears to have been, during the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries, the property of a family of the name of Bannatyne. Lord Somerville, in his “Memorie of the Somervilles,” says the heads of the family were the chief of the name. The nobleman married a daughter of Bannatyne of Corehouse, during the civil wars in the reign of Charles I. Of this marriage he gives the following account. – “Young Cambusnethan1 having now laid asyde his armes, imployed his tyme in hunting and halking, but mostly in courting his mistress, untill the beginning of September, that that business was brought to a tryst att the Corseford boat, a passage upon Clyde, neer midway betwext the Corhouse and Cambusnethan. There was not much trysting in the matter, there being ane equality as to the persones, the portione offered, the present sustinance, joynter, and estate, that was to be secured to the heirs of the marriage. Neer two monthes efter the contracte, they were married by Mr. John Home, in Lesmahagoe Kirk, on the 13th November, 1651, the bryde being in the eighteinth year of her age, and the bridegroome in the nyneteinth. A matchlyer pair was not seen within the walles of that kirk this last century, nor a greater wedding, considering the great consternatione the countrey had been in for some few monthes preceding, for nobilitie and gentrie, ther being one marques, three earles, two lords, sexteine barons, and eight ministers, present at this solemnitie, but not one musitiane; they lyked yet better the bleetings of the calves of Dan and Bethell, the ministers’ long-winded, and sometimes nonsensical graces, litle to the purpose, than all musical instruments of the sanctuarie, att so solemne ane occasione, which, if it be lawful at all to have them, certainly it ought and should be upon a wedding day, for divertisement to the guests, that innocent recreation of musick and danceing, being much more warrantable, and a farre better exercise then drinking and smoakeing of tobacco, wherein these holy brethren of the presbyterean [persuasion] for the most part imployed themselves without any formall health or remembrance of their friends; a nod with ther head, or a sigh, with the turneing up of the whyte of the eye, served for that ceremoney.”2

– Select Views, pp.17-20.

1  The author of the “Memorie of the Somervilles” was so styled. Neither his father nor he ever assumed the title of Lord Somerville.
2  Memorie of the Somervilles, vol, 2, p. 459.

 

This fatal end of a brave and beloved brother provoked Kilravock so much, that he sent a message to the Magistrates of the town and to Sir John Mackenzie, requiring them either to surrender the town and castle, or to evacuate both of the garrisons kept in them, otherwise he would lay the whole town in ashes. The Magistrates and Governour, knowing Kilravock’s resolute spirit, and fearing his resentment, brought all the boats they could find up to the Bridge, and, under the covert of the night (November 13 [1715]) the Mackenzies evacuated the town and castle, and silently passed over to the Ross side. The Kilravock entered the town, took possession of the castle and Tolbooth, and placed a garrison in them, and was soon after joined by a body of the Frasers, and a battalion of the Grants from Strathspey. Thus was the recovery of that town (which is the key of the Highlands) out of the hands of the enemies of the Government, wholly owing to Kilravock, although others, in a pamphlet soon after, assumed the praise of it. And ’tis observable that this town was reduced by Kilravock on the 13 day of November, the same day on which the battle of Sherifmuir was fought, and on which the rebels in the town of Preston in England surrendered. After this, until the rebellion was fully quelled, Kilravock kept his men in arms, and secured the peace of the countrie around him. 

“From that time Kilravock chose to lead a private life, and to take no share in public affairs.” 

– Sketches, pp.437-490.

 

An act of hostility was committed by General Preston on the 21st September, when, overhearing some altercation in the dark at the West Port, where the Highland guard made some delay about admitting a lady in a coach drawn by six horses, he ordered three guns to be loaded with grape, depressed, and fired. Though aimed at random, the coach was pierced by several balls, and its fair occupant, Mrs. Cockburn, authoress of the modern version of the “Flowers of the Forest,” had a narrow escape, while William Earl of Dundonald, captain in Forbes’s Foot, who rode by her side, had his horse shot under him. At that moment, Mrs. Cockburn, who was returning from Ravelston, and who was a keen Whig, had in her pocket a burlesque parody on one of Prince Charles’s proclamations, to the air of “Clout the Cauldron.” 

Another hostile act was committed when the Highland army, now increased to double its first strength, was reviewed on the Links of Leith prior to the march for England, when the guns from the Argyle Battery compelled Charles to change the scene of his operations to the Links of Musselburgh, at a time when the Forth was completely blocked up by ships of war. On the 30th the Prince slept at Pinkie House, and “on the 31st he commenced his memorable invasion of England, with an army only six thousand in number, but one in rivalry and valour. They departed in three columns; at the head of the third Charles marched on foot, clad in the Highland garb, with his claymore in his hand, and a target slung over his left shoulder.” 

General Preston saluted with cannon the officers of State who returned to Edinburgh on the 13th November, [1745,] and hauled down his colours, which had been flying since the 16th of September. Guest then assumed the command, and was nobly rewarded, while Preston was consigned to neglect, and the humble memorial of his long service was laid in vain before the Duke of Cumberland. Thus he reaped no advantage from his loyal adherence to the House of Hanover, whose policy it was then to slight the Scots in every way. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.329-334.

 

1886. Fawn-coloured Satin Waistcoat, embroidered with gold and silver thread. Embroidered by Miss Helen McCall for her future husband, Mr. Andrew Thomson of Faskine, and worn by him at their marriage, 13th November, 1749. (See No. 1879.)

– Memorial Catalogue, Gallery 4.

 

From a notice in the Glasgow Mercury of 13th November, 1782, it appears that letters for London, despatched from the post-office in Glasgow on Saturdays, did not arrive in London till the morning of the following Thursday. At this time the post-office was in Prince’s Street, then called Gibson’s Wynd, and it consisted of three apartments. The front one measured about twelve feet square, and the two behind were mere pigeon-holes, not more than ten feet by six, one of these being the private room of the postmaster. The letter box fronted the street, and the place for delivery of letters was a small hole broken through the wall into the close, which was then a common thoroughfare entry to King Street.1 In 1787 the entire staff of the post-office in Glasgow consisted of five, of whom two were letter-carriers. 

– Old Glasgow, pp.289-299.

1  Glasgow Past and Present, vol. ii. p. 104.

 

In the sixth year of the 19th century Tweeddale House became the scene of a dark event “which ranks among the gossips of the Scottish capital with the Icon Basilikè, or the Man with the Iron Mask.” 

About five in the evening of the 13th of November, 1806, or an hour after sunset, a little girl whose family lived in the close, was sent by her mother with a kettle to get water for tea from the Fountain Well, and stumbling in the dark archway over something, found it to be William Begbie, the messenger of the British Linen Company Bank, a residenter in the town of Leith, where that bank was the first to establish a branch, in a house close to the upper drawbridge. On lights being brought, a knife was found in his heart, thrust up to the haft, so he bled to death without the power of uttering a word of explanation. Though a sentinel of the Guard was always on duty close by, yet he saw nothing of the event. 

It was found that he had been robbed of a package of notes, amounting in value to more than four thousand pounds, which he had been conveying from the Leith branch to the head office. The murder had been accomplished with the utmost deliberation, and the arrangements connected with it displayed care and calculation. The weapon used had a broad thin blade, carefully pointed, with soft paper wrapped round the hand in such a manner as to prevent any blood from reaching the person of the assassin, and thus leading to his detection. 

For his discovery five hundred guineas were offered in vain; in vain, too, was the city searched, while the roads were patrolled; and all the evidence attainable amounted to this:- “That Begbie, in proceeding up Leith Walk, had been accompanied by a ‘man,’ and that about the supposed time of the murder ‘a man’ had been seen by some children to run out of the close into the street, and down Leith Wynd… There was also reason to believe that the knife had been bought in a shop about two o’clock on the day of the murder, and that it had been afterwards ground upon a grinding-stone and smoothed upon a hone.” 

Many persons were arrested on suspicion, and one, a desperate character, was long detained in custody, but months passed on, and the assassination was ceasing to occupy public attention, when three men, in passing through the grounds of Bellevue (where now Drummond Place stands) in August, 1807, found in the cavity of an old wall, a roll of bank notes that seemed to have borne exposure to the weather. The roll was conveyed to Sheriff Clerk Rattray’s office, and found to contain £3,000 in large notes of the money taken from Begbie. The three men received £200 from the British Linen Company as the reward of their honesty, but no further light was thrown upon the murder, the actual perpetrator of which has never, to this hour, been discovered, though strong suspicions fell on a prisoner named Mackoull in 1822, after he was beyond the reach of the law. 

This man was tried and sentenced to death by the High Court of Justiciary in June, 1820, for robbery at the Paisley Union Bank, Glasgow, and was placed in the Calton gaol, where he was respited in August, and again in September, “during his majesty’s pleasure” (according to the Edinburgh Weekly Journal), and where he died about the end of the year. In a work published under the title of “The Life and Death of James Mackoull,” there was included a document by Mr. Denovan, the Bow Street Runner, whose object was to prove that Mackoull alias Moffat, was the assassin of Begbie, and his statements, which are curious, have thus been condensed by a local writer in 1865:- 

“Still, in the absence of legal proof, there is a mystery about this daring crime which lends a sort of romance to its daring perpetrator. Mr. Denovan discovered a man in Leith acting as a teacher, who in 1806 was a sailor-boy belonging to a ship then in the harbour. On the afternoon of the murder he was carrying up some smuggled article to a friend in Edinburgh, when he noticed ‘a tall man carrying a yellow coloured parcel under his arm, and a genteel man, dressed in a black coat, dogging him.’ He at once concluded that the man with the parcel was a smuggler, and the other a custom-house officer. Fearful of detection himself, he watched their manoeuvres with considerable interest. He lost sight of the parties for a short time, but when he came opposite to Tweeddale’s Close, he saw the (presumed) Custom House officer running out of it, with something under his coat. There can be no doubt that this was the murderer, and the description given coincided exactly with the appearance of Mackoull. Although the boy heard of the murder before he left Leith, he never thought of communicating what he had seen to the authorities; he was shortly after captured and carried to a French prison, where he remained for many years. Mackoull resided in Edinburgh from September, 1805, till the end of 1806, lodging very near the scene of the murder, and was a frequent visitor at the coffee-room of the Ship Tavern in Leith.”1

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.274-282.

1  “Traditions and Antiquities of Leith.”

 

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This struck me as particularly pretty Celtic cross. The inscription reads: 

TO THE MEMORY OF

WILLIAM GOVAN

BORN 28 OCTOBER 1796

DIED 13 NOVEMBER 1874

Glasgow’s Cathedral & City Necropolis.

One thought on “13th of November

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