17th of November

St Dionysius, archbishop of Alexandria, confessor, 265. St Gregory Thaumaturgus, bishop and confessor, 270. St Anian or Agnan, bishop of Orleans, confessor, 453. St Gregory, bishop of Tours, confessor, 596.


Born. – Vespasian, Roman emperor, 9 A.D.; Jean Antoine Nollet, natural philosopher, 1700, Pimpré, in Noyon; Louis XVIII. of France, 1755, Versailles; Marshal Macdonald, Duke of Tarentum, Bonapartist general, 1765, Sancerre.
Died. – Valentinian I., Roman emperor, 375; John Picus, Prince of Mirandola, linguist and miscellaneous writer, 1494, Florence; Nicolas Perrot d’Ablancourt, translator of the classics, 1664, Ablancourt; Alain Réné le Sage, author of Gil Blas, 1747, Boulogne-sur-Mer; Empress Catharine the Great of Russia, 1796, St Petersburg; Thomas, Lord Erskine, eminent pleader, 1823, Almondell, near Edinburgh.


On this Day in Other Sources.


The various accidents of state, this year, were both many, and some of them memorable; the most remarkable were, that [Margaret Douglas] the Countess of Bothwell was received to the King’s favour, the 17 of November, [1592.]

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.


Nov. 18 [1618]. – ‘About the midst of November, there appeared a prodigious comet in the morning, in the north-east, broad, and stretching with a large tail towards the north-west. It appeared fine and clear some few days in the beginning, and after became more dim and obscure, and vanished away at last in the north. This comet by appearance portended the wars of Germany, which began not long after, and continueth yet to this hour.’ – Cal

Dr Bembridge, ‘a very profound and learned mathematician,’ obliged the king with an account of this comet. He told him it was as far above the moon as the moon is above the earth, and not less than 2,300,000 English miles! Rushworth speaks of it as followed by, first, the Bohemian wars, then the German and Swedish, &c. ‘Dr Bembridge observed it to be vertical to London, and to pass over it in the morning; so it gave England and Scotland in their civil wars a sad wipe with its tail.’ – Foun. Hist. Ob. 

This notable comet was observed in Silesia, Rome, and Ispahan [in Iran]. From Skipton’s observations, Halley afterwards computed its orbit. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.177-227.


“ROBERT, EARL OF NITHSDALE, owner of the barony of Mearns, in Renfrewshire, being in financial straits, wrote on the 17th November, 1639, to his kinsman and creditor, Sir John Maxwell of Nether Pollok, that he was finding unexpected “difficultie in rayseing of moneyis for the safetie of my estate from Buckclewch.”* He, therefore, begged for a futher delay in the payment of sums he owed. “You will thairby,” he said, “be the means of saveing me from that imminent ruine which for the present my estate is exposed vnto in a more fearfull maner nor euer itt was since I was maister of itt.” And he went on to say that Sir John was to calculate how many years’ rents of the Mearns estate would be necessary to wipe off the indebtedness, intimating his willingness that Sir John should draw them until he paid himself, and should have as well “the present use of my house of the Mearns.” Three days afterwards, he repeated this proposal, saying, “You sall haue the rentes of that land of Mernis till you be fullie satisfied, the annual of the toun of Edinburghe beeing first peyed.” 

– Scots Lore, pp.160-165.

* U, v & w were interchangeable before spelling was regulated. The quotes in this passage are a good example of it. You’ll also notice words are pluralised with the use of “is” at the end, the “i” isn’t pronounced.


The theatre was opened in December, 1769, at the total expense of £5,000, and at the then rates of admission the house held £140. Its rival in the Canongate, when the prices were 2s. 6d., 1s. 6., and 1s., held from £70 to £80. 

The downfall of the bridge was the first difficulty with which Mr. Ross had to contend, as it cut off the only tolerable communication with the city; so there stood the theatre on the lonely slope, no New Town whatever beside it; only a straggling house or two at wide intervals; and the ladies and gentlemen obliged to come from the High Street by the way of Leith Wynd, or by Halkerston’s Wynd, which, in the slippery nights of winter, had to be thickly strewn with ashes, for the bearers of sedan chairs. Moreover, the house was often so indifferently lighted, that when a box was engaged by a gentleman he usually sent a pound or so of additional candles. 

Owing to these and other reasons Mr. Ross had two unsuccessful seasons. “The indifference of the company which the manager provided,” says Arnot, “gave little inducement to people at the expense of such disagreeable access to visit his theatre; but he loudly exclaimed in his own defence that good performers were so discouraged by the fall of the bridge that they would not engage with him, and his popularity not being equal to his merit as an actor, but rather proportioned to his indolence as a manager, he made but an unsuccessful campaign. The fact is,” adds Arnot, and his remark suits the present hour, “Edinburgh does not give encouragement to the stage proportionable to the populousness of the city.” 

Losing heart, Mr. Ross leased the house for three years to the celebrated Samuel Foote, patentee of the Haymarket Theatre, at 500 guineas per annum, and he was the first great theatrical star that ever appeared on the Edinburgh stage. Co-operating with Messrs. Woodward and Weston, and a good company, he opened the house for the next season, and, after paying the proprietor his rent, cleared £1,000. He opened it on the 17th of November, 1770, with his own comedy, entitled, The Commissary. “The audience was numerous and splendid, and the performance highly relished. The plays are regularly continued every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.”1

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.340-348.

1  Scots Mag., 1770.


Screenshot_2019-11-16 Settlement At Cui sai mono Inverness Courier Wednesday 17 November 1841 British Newspaper ArchiveA gentleman who makes a conspicuous figure in the proceedings against the people, is law-agent of Mr. Anderson, the lessee, from whose property the poor crofters were to be ejected; and C—l, the first officer sent to Durness, was employed by them. This C—l was an unqualified officer, but used as a convenient tool by his employers, and it was actually, as I am assured, this man who advised or suggested to the poor women and boys, in absence of the male adults, to kindle the fire, and lay hold on him, and compel him to consign his papers to the flames! – acting doubtless under the directions of his employers.

The next emissary sent was unqualified officer; qualified by having served an apprenticeship as a thief-catcher and w— chaser in the police establishment of Edinburgh, who, when he came in contact with the virtuous Durness women, behaved as he was wont to do among those of Anchor Close and Halkerston’s Wynd; and I am sorry to say some of the former were inhumanly and shamefully dealt with by him. – See Inverness Courier of 17th November [1841]. And here I am happy to be able in a great degree to exonerate that journal from the charge brought against it in former letters. The Editor has at last put the saddle on the right horse – namely, his first informers, the advisors and actors in the cruel and vindictive proceedings against the poor victims of oppression. 

– Inverness Courier, Nov., 17, 1841.

– Gloomy Memories, pp.65-66.


Necropolis 14.jpg





Glasgow’s Cathedral & City Necropolis.

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