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15th of November

St Eugenius, martyr, 275. St Malo or Maclou, first bishop of Aleth in Brittany, 565. St Leopold, Marquis of Austria, confessor, 1136. St Gertrude, virgin and abbess, 1292.

Born. – Sir William Herschel, astronomer, 1738, Hanover; John Caspar Lavater, physiognomist, 1741, Zurich.
Died. – Albertus Magnus, celebrated schoolman, 1280, Cologne; John Kepler, great astronomer, 1630, Ratisbon; James, Duke of Hamilton, killed in a duel in Hyde Park, 1712; Christopher Gluck, composer, 1787, Vienna; Count Rossi, minister of interior, Papal States, assassinated, 1848, Rome; Johanna Kinkel, German novelist and musician, 1858.


When Robert Carr or Ker, a young Scottish adventurer of the border-family of Ferniherst, established himself so rapidly in the good graces of his sovereign, rising suddenly to the most influential posts in the kingdom, Sir Thomas Overbury acted as his bosom-friend and counsellor, and furnished him with most useful and judicious advice as to the mode of comporting himself in the new and unwonted sphere in which he was thus placed. Carr unfortunately, however, cast his eyes on the Countess of Essex, the beautiful and fascinating daughter of the Earl of Suffolk, who had been married when a girl of thirteen to the Earl of Essex, son of the unfortunate favourite of Queen Elizabeth, and who himself afterwards became so noted in the reign of Charles I. as the commander of the parliamentary army. This object of illicit love was but too ready to respond to the addresses of Carr, now created Viscount Rochester, having, it is believed, owed much of the depravity of her disposition to the pernicious lessons of Mrs Turner, who lived as a dependent and companion to his daughter in the house of the Earl of Suffolk. This abandoned Mentor afterwards became the wife of a physician, at whose death, owing to the extravagant manner in which both she and her husband had lived, she was left in very straitened circumstances, and was only too glad to become again the confidante and advisor of the Countess of Essex in her amour with Rochester. Not content with the gratification of their unlawful passion, the guilty pair sought to legalise their connection by a marriage, to effect which it was of course necessary that the countess should, in the first place, obtain a divorce from her husband. Sir Thomas Overbury, who had hitherto concurred with and aided Rochester in his amour, now opposed the marriage-scheme, knowing the odium his pupil would excite by contracting such a union, and dreading also the influence which the countess’s relations, the Howards, would thereby obtain. He counselled Rochester strongly against thus committing himself, and enlarged, in rather emphatic terms, on the depraved character of his proposed wife. These speeches were reported by the infatuated favourite to the countess, who thereupon vowed the destruction of Overbury. First, she offered £1000 to Sir John Wood to murder the object of her resentment in a duel. Then Rochester and she concocted a scheme by which, on the favourite’s representation to King James [VI. & I.], Overbury, on the ground of having shewn contempt for the royal authority, was committed to the Tower, where he was detained a close prisoner under the guardianship of a new lieutenant, wholly in the interest of his enemies, who had procured the removal of the former governor of the fortress. 

Meantime a divorce had been instituted by the Countess of Essex against her husband, and a majority of the commission of divines and lawyers, appointed by the king to try the cause, was found servile enough to pronounce sentence of dissolution. The day before this deliverance was given, Sir Thomas Overbury died in the Tower, from an infectious disease, as was alleged, and was hastily and clandestinely buried. No doubt was entertained by the public that he had been poisoned; but the matter was passed over without investigation, and for some months Rochester, now Earl of Somerset, basked with the partner of his guilt in all the sunshine of fashion and royal favour. But the king’s fickle temper ere long caused his downfall. The presentation at court of a new minion, George Villiers, afterwards the celebrated Duke of Buckingham, effected such a change in the affections of the king as completely to supplant the old favourite, who was accordingly exposed unshielded to the machinations of his enemies, and the just indignation of the people. On a warrant from the Lord Chief-justice Coke, he and his wife were arrested for having occasioned the death of Sir Thomas Overbury, and along with them the parties of inferior rank who had acted as their accomplices. These were Mrs Turner; Elwes, the lieutenant of the Tower; Weston, the warder who had been intrusted with the immediate custody of the prisoner; and Franklin, an apothecary. The proofs adduced against them were sufficiently strong to insure their condemnation, and their own confessions left subsequently no doubt of their guilt. It appeared that Mrs Turner and the Countess of Somerset had had frequent consultations with a certain Dr Forman, a celebrated conjurer in Lambeth, who enjoyed a high reputation as a compounder of love-philtres, and was consulted in that capacity by many of the most fashionable ladies of this day. He died before the proceedings under notice were instituted, and it does not appear that he had any active concern in the murder of Overbury; but the fact of two of the accused parties having had dealings with a soi-disant wizard increased immensely the popular horror. As regards the perpetration of the murder, it was shewn that Mrs turner procured the poison from Franklin the apothecary, and handing it to the warder, Weston, the latter, under her instructions, and with the complicity of Elwes, the lieutenant of the Tower, administered it to the prisoner in small doses, in various kinds of food, and at different times, extending over a period of some months. 

The criminals were all executed at Tyburn. The enduring of the last penalty of the law by Mrs Turner, which took place on 15th November 1615, excited an immense interest. She had made herself famous in the fashionable world as the inventress of a yellow starch, and, in allusion to this circumstance, Lord Chief-justice Coke, who had already addressed her in sufficiently contumelious terms, telling her, categorically, that she had been guilty of the seven deadly sins, declared that as she was the inventor of yellow-starched ruffs and cuffs, so he hoped  that she would be the last by whom they would be worn. He, accordingly, gave strict orders that she should be hanged in that attire, which she had rendered so fashionable. This addition to the sentence was fully carried out; and the fair demon, Mrs Turner, on the day of her execution, came to the scaffold arrayed as if for some festive occasion, with her face rouged, and a ruff stiffened with yellow starch round her neck. Numerous persons of quality, ladies as well as gentlemen, went in their coaches to Tyburn to see the last of Mrs Turner. She made a very penitent end, and the object contemplated by the Lord Chief-justice was fully attained, as the yellow ruff was never more worn from that day. 

As already mentioned, the principle criminals, the Earl and Countess of Somerset, experienced no further penalty than an imprisonment of some years in the Tower. The partial pardon thus accorded to Carr, seems to have been extorted by fear from the king, who dreaded the revelation, by his former favourite, of some discreditable secret.


On 15th November 1712, a singularly ferocious and sanguinary duel was fought in Kensington Gardens. The keepers of Hyde Park, on the morning of that day, were alarmed by the clashing of swords, and rushing to the spot whence the sound proceeded, found two noblemen weltering in their blood. These were Lord Mohun, who was already dead, and the Duke of Hamilton, who expired in the course of a few minutes. Nor had the combat been limited to the principals alone. The seconds, Colonel Hamilton on the part of the duke, and General Macartney on that of Lord Mohun, had also crossed swords, and fought with desperate rancour. The former of these remained on the field, and was taken prisoner; but Macartney fled to the continent, from which, however, he afterwards returned, and submitted to trial. 

A prodigious ferment was occasioned by this duel, owing to the circumstance of the Duke of Hamilton being regarded as the head of the Jacobite party both in North and South Britain, whilst Lord Mohun was a zealous champion in the Whig interest. Neither of the men could lay claim to great admiration on the score of integrity or principle, and it is difficult, at the present day, to pronounce any decisive verdict in their case. What, however, seems to have originated merely in personal animosity was represented by the Tory party as a dastardly attempt on the part of their political opponents to inflict a vital wound on the Jacobite cause, then in the ascendant, by removing its great prop, who had just been appointed ambassador to the court of France, and was expected to leave London for Paris in the course of a few days. It was maintained that the duke had met foul-play at the hands of Macartney, by whose sword, and not that of Lord Mohun, he had been slain. But this allegation was never established by sufficient evidence, and the truth of the matter seems to be that both sets of antagonists, principals as well as seconds, were so transported by the virulence of personal enmity as to neglect all the laws both of the gladiatorial art and the duelling code, and engage each other with the fury of savages or wild beasts.

On this Day in Other Sources.

Edward, the eldest son of King Malcolm III, Prince of Scotland, in a conflict against the Northumbrians, being mortally wounded, [15th of November], the 3rd day after his father King Malcolm’s death, in 1093, departed this life, at Edwards-dyke, in Jedwood forest, and was interred in the Trinity Church of Dunfermline, before the altar of the Holy Cross. 

– Historical Works, pp.1-3.

The rebel prince, John of the Isles, with a numerous train of those wild Highland chieftains who followed his banner, and had supported him in his attempt to throw off his dependence, met the king at Inverness, and submitted to his authority. He engaged in the most solemn manner, for himself and his vassals, that they should yield themselves faithful and obedient subjects to David, their liege lord; and not only give due and prompt obedience to the ministers and officers of the king in suit and service, as well as in the payment of taxes and public burdens, but that they would coerce and put down all others, of whatever rank or degree, who dared to raise themselves in opposition to the royal authority, and would compel them either to submit, or would pursue and banish them from their territories: for the fulfilment of which obligation the lord of the Isles not only gave his own oath, under the penalty of forfeiting his whole principality if it was broken, but offered the high-steward, his father-in-law, as his security, and delivered his lawful son, Donald, his grandson, Angus, and his natural son, also named Donald, as hostages for the strict performance of the articles of the treaty.”1 The deed by which John of the Isles bound himself to the performance of these stipulations is dated fifteenth November, thirteen hundred and sixty-nine.2

– History of the Highlands, pp.144-162.

1  Tytler’s Hist. of Scotland, vol. ii. 185. Robertson’s Parliamentary Records, p. 115. 

2  Vide the Deed printed in the Appendix to Mr Tytler’s History, vol. ii. 

It may be fairly conjectured that Thane William’s public employments were the source of his prosperity. His building of the castle, large additions to the family estates, making a very opulent marriage for his heir,1 point him out as the person who raised the family to that position which it maintained, with little change, for several centuries. 

– Sketches, pp.395-436.

1  Alexander Sutherland of Dunbeath, who was married to Marion of the Isles, the daughter of Donald Lord of the Isles, had great estates in land, and other property very unusual for a Scotch gentleman of the fifteenth century. From his will, which has been preserved, we learn he had at least five sons, one of whom was Archdeacon of Caithness at the date of the will, and four daughters, of whom Marjory was married to William Earl of Orkney and Caithness, Lord Chancellor, and Mariot to the young Thane of Cawdor. The will, which bears date at Roslin, 15th November 1456, shows the wealth of the testator in corn, cattle, and money, and also in iron, and the large debts due to him. The bequest to the Thane’s lady is as follows:- “I geve and assignys to my douchtir Marion al the lave of my landis that I have undisponyt upon; and sa mony ky ald and yong as I have with Aytho Faurcharsone [40 ky] or with Mackay Renauch [24], and sa mony ky as scho aucht to have of Williame Polsonys ky.” He directs his body to be graved in the College kirk of Roslin, near where the Earl his son-in-law thinks to ly. He seems to have lived in the family with the Earl of Caithness, and he left a silver collar to Sir Gilbert the Haye, a versifier and translator of French metrical romances into Scotch, apparently his intimate friend. – Bannatyne Miscellany, III. 93.

The Governor now being returned, convocates the estates, and eloquently displays to them the affection and love of the French King and nation, vehemently persuading them with many weighty arguments, to war against England; and immediately he raises an army, and enters England, the 15th of November, this same year [1523]; hoping that the Earl of Surrey, then lying near Alnwick with 20,000 men, would give him battle; but the Earl had no such intention; neither would he [engage those] from whom nothing was to be gained but blows. Then lays the Duke [of Albany] siege to Wark castle. but in vain; and with the other half of his army, he spoils all Glendale and Northumberland, to the walls of Alnwick, and returns with a great [booty]. But shortly thereafter, by the Queen’s mediation with her brother, King Henry, there was a peace concluded between both kingdoms, to the no small honour of Albany, the Governor, whose valour had forced England and Surrey to a peace; but within less than half a year, Surrey returns near the border, and the [truce] begins to stagger and wear weak, by the mutual incursions of the borderers of both kingdoms. 

– Historical Works, pp.238-275.

This was followed by a proclamation.., charging all them of the name of Ruthven to pass out of the country, in [particular], Alexander, uncle by the father to the said Earl of Gowrie, and his two brothers; and on the 15th day of November, [1599,] they, with their servants and dependers, were all [forfeited]; and the same day, Sir Thomas Erskine was created Lord of Dirleton, John Ramsay and Hugh Harris knighted, and Sir Thomas Erskine’s footman made a gentleman;.. 

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

The only evidence I can find of any attempt to fortify the city was during the civil war, when the magistrates, for the protection of the town, ordered a trench or ditch to be made around it. The first notice of this which appears in the council records is under date 15th November, 1645, where “it is ordainit be the Committee of Estaites that fyve hundrethe bollis of meill be advancit for the vse of the people that cumis in to help to cast up the trinche about this citie, quhilk is to be payit out of som sowmes of monye the Provest is to receave for the vse of the publict; and becaus the meill can not be commodiouslie gottine, the said Provest Baillies and Counsell hes concludit to pay to everie man that cumis in to wirk, in satisfaction of the peck of meill ilk man sould have, conform to the act and ordinance of the said Committee.” 

– Old Glasgow, pp.162-175.

In the Nether Bow was the residence of James Sharp, who had been consecrated with great pomp at Westminster, as Archbishop of St. Andrews, on the 15th of November, 1661 – a prelate famous for his unrelenting persecution of the faithful adherents of the Covenant which followed his elevation, and justly increased the general odium of his character, and who perished under the hands of pitiless assassins on Magus Muir, in 1679. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.212-218.

The Verdict had found the two other women, Jean Baillie and Agnes McDonald, equally guilty [of being gypsies] with these three. But it being pled for them, “for delaying the pronouncing of Sentence against them, That they are at present with Child,” the Court appointed a jury of matrons to establish the truth or falsity of the plea. These having certified, on the following day, that the plea was in both cases just, the Lords of Justiciary postponed consideration of the verdict, as affecting them, until “the second Monday of November next to come”; the two women being carried back to prison. 

On the 15th of November, [1714,] “The Lords Justice Clerk and Commissioners of Justiciary, having considered the verdict of assyse returned” in the previous August, and there being now no innocent lives at stake, they, with relentless logic, condemned “the said Agnes McDonald and Jean Baillie to be taken to the Grass-mercat of Edinburgh, upon Wednesday the Twenty fourth day of November Instant, And there, betwixt the hours of two & four in the Afternoon, To be hanged by the necks upon a Gibbet until they be dead.” 

– Scots Lore, pp.30-35.

Jerome Stone a native of the county of Fife, and who had acquired a knowledge of the Gaelic language during some years’ residence in Dunkeld, where he kept a school, was the third person who collected several of the ancient poems of the Highlands, and was the first person who especially called public attention to the beauty of these poems in a letter which he addressed “To the Author of the Scots Magazine,”1 accompanied with a translation in rhyme of one of them, both of which appeared in that periodical in January, 1756.

– History of the Highlands, pp.36-59.

1  As the letter in question is curious, and displays considerable talent, it is here given entire:- 

DunkeldNov. 15th, 1755.    

   SIR, – Those who have any tolerable acquaintance with the Irish language must know, that there are a great number of poetical compositions in it, and some of them of very great antiquity, whose merit entitles them to an exemption from the unfortunate neglect, or rather abhorrence, to which ignorance has subjected that emphatic language in which they were composed. Several of these performances are to be met with, which, for sublimity of sentiment, nervousness of expression, and high spirited metaphor, are hardly to be equalled among the chief productions of the most cultivated nations. Others of them breathe such tenderness and simplicity, as must be affecting to every mind that is in the least tinctured with the softer passions of pity and humanity. Of this kind is the poem of which I here send you a translation. Your learned readers will easily discover the conformity there is betwixt the tale upon which it is built, and the story of Belerophon, as related by Homer; while it will be no small gratification to the curiosity of some, to see the different manner in which a subject of the same nature is handled by the great father of poetry and a Highland bard. It is hoped the uncommon turn of several expressions, and the seeming extravagance there is in some of the comparisons I have observed in the translation, will give no offence to such persons as can form a just notion of those compositions which are the productions of simple and unassisted genius, in which energy is always more sought after than neatness, and the strictness of connexion less adverted to than the design of moving the passions and affecting the heart. – I am &c. 

DICKSON’S CLOSE, numbered as 118, below the modern Niddry Street, gave access to a handsome and substantial edifice, supposed to be the work of that excellent artificer Robert Mylne, who built the modern portion of Holyrood and so many houses of an improved character in the city about the time of the Revolution. Its earlier occupants are unknown, but herein dwelt David Allan, known as the “Scottish Hogarth,” a historical painter of undoubted genius, who, on the death of Alexander Runciman, in 1786, was appointed director and master of the academy established by the board of trustees for manufacturers in Scotland. 

While resident in Dickson’s Close he published, in 1788, an edition of the “Gentle Shepherd,” with characteristic etchings, and, some time after, a collection of the most humorous old Scottish songs with similar drawings; these, with his illustrations of “The Cottar’s Saturday Night” and the satire, humour, and spirit of his other etchings in aquatinta, won him a high reputation as a successful delineator of character and nature. His drawing classes met in the old college, but he received private pupils at his house in Dickson’s Close after his marriage, on the 15th November, 1788. His terms were, as advertised in the Mercury, one guinea per month for three lessons in the week, which in those simple days would restrict his pupils to the wealthy and fashionable class of society. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.253-258.

On the night of Monday, the 15th of November, 1824, about ten o’clock, the cry of “Fire!” Was heard in the High Street, and it spread throughout the city from mouth to mouth; vast crowds came from all quarters rushing to the spot, and columns of smoke and flame were seen issuing from the second floor of a house at the head of the old Assembly Close, then occupied as a workshop by Kirkwood, a well-known engraver. The engines came promptly enough; but, from some unknown cause, an hour elapsed before they were in working order, and by that time the terrible element had raged with such fierceness and rapidity that, by eleven o’clock the upper portion of this tenement, including six storeys, forming the eastern division of a uniform pile of buildings, was one mass of roaring flames, which, as the breeze was from the south-west, turned them, as they burst from the gaping windows, in the direction of a house to the eastward, the strong gable of which saved it from the destruction which seemed imminent. 

Two tenements to the westward were less fortunate, and as, from the narrowness of the ancient close, it was impossible to work the engines, they soon were involved in one frightful and appalling blaze. Great fears were now entertained for the venerable Courant office; nor was it long before the fire seized on its upper storey, at the very time when some brave fellows got upon the roof of a tenement to the westward, and shouted to the firemen to give them a pipe, by which they could play upon the adjoining roof. But, owing either to their elevated position, or the roar of the gathering conflagration, the shouts of the crowd, and wailing of women and children, their cries were unheard for a time, until it was too late. The whole tenement was lost, together with extensive ranges of buildings in the old Fish Market and Assembly Closes, to which it was the means of communicating the flames. 

While these tall and stately edifices were yielding to destruction, the night grew calm and still, and the sparks emitted by the flames shot upwards as if spouted from a volcano, and descended like the thickest drift or snow-storm, affecting the respiration of all. A dusky, lurid red tinged the clouds, and the glare shone on the Castle walls, the rocks of the Calton, the beetling crags, and all the city spires. Scores of lofty chimneys, set on fire by the falling sparks, added to the growing horror of the scene; and for a considerable time the Tron Church was completely enveloped in this perilous shower of embers. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.183-191.

Glasgow Morning Journal, Monday 15th November 1858, p.7. 

   SINGULAR DEATH. – On Halloween, James Mitchell (King), residing in Sauchie, near Alloa, and a well-known servant of the Alloa Coal Company, was much annoyed by an unruly band of urchins knocking at the door of his dwelling. After going to bed, the disturbance continued, but Mitchell rose and went to the door in his night dress to remonstrate with the youths. While standing there for a moment, a boy threw a stone which struck Mitchell on the foot, but the blow, though painful at the time, was paid little attention to. In a day or two, however, the wound festered, and on Thursday last it was opened by the surgeon, when a quantity of matter was discharged. Serious symptoms immediately followed, and on Friday Mitchell died. He was at one time a porter at Alloa Shore in the service of the Alloa Steamboat Compny, and was generally respected for his kind and obliging manner. – Alloa Advertiser

Curious and Interesting Deaths.

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



AUG 1847 DIED 15 NOV 1876 

Glasgow’s Cathedral & City Necropolis.




Glasgow’s Cathedral & City Necropolis.

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