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26th of November

St Peter, martyr, bishop of Alecandria, 311. St Conrad, bishop of Constance, confessor, 976. St Nicon, surnamed Metanoite, confessor, 998. St Sylvester Gozzolini, abbot of Osimo, instituter of the Sylvestrin monks, 1267.

Born. – Sir James Ware, antiquary, 1594, Dublin.
Died. – John Spotswood or Spotiswood, archbishop of St Andrews, Scottish ecclesiastical historian, 1639; Philippe Quinault, tragic dramatist, 1688, Paris; Dr Joseph Black, eminent chemist, 1799, Edinburgh; John Loudoun Macadam, improver of roads, 1836; Marshall Soult, Duke of Dalmatia, 1850, Soult-Berg; Vincenz Priessnitz, founder of hydropathy, 1851, Graefenberg.


Though neither a soldier nor a statesman, and laying no claim to distinction on the score either of literary or scientific achievement, the practical abilities of Macadam have, nevertheless, added a word to the English language, and earned for him the tribute of a grateful remembrance as one of the most important of our public benefactors. The traveller as he bowls smoothly along the even and well-kept turn-pike road, whether in gig, stage-coach, or chaise, may bless fervently the memory of the great road-reformer of the nineteenth century, whose macadamised highways have tended so much to increase the comfort as well as diminish the dangers of vehicular locomotion. The means employed were of the simplest and most efficacious kind, and with an improvement on the original idea, have rendered the public roads throughout the British islands, if not superior, at least second to none in the world. 

John Loudoun Macadam was born at Ayr on the 21st September 1756. His father was a landed proprietor, who died when John was about fourteen, and the young man was thereupon sent to the office of an uncle, a merchant in New York. Here he remained for a number of years, and on the war of independence breaking out, established for himself a lucrative business as an agent for the sale of prizes. The termination of hostilities, however, in favour of the colonists, found him nearly penniless, and he returned to his native country. For some time after this he resided in the neighbourhood of Moffat, and subsequently removed to Sauchrie, in Ayrshire, where for thirteen years he acted as deputy-lieutenant of the county, and a member of the commission of the peace. Being here engaged in the capacity of trustee on certain roads, his mind was first led to revolve some scheme for a general amelioration of the system of highways throughout the kingdom, and he continued for many years tp study and experiment on the subject. Having been appointed, in 1798, agent for victualling the navy in the western ports of Great Britain, he took up his abode at Falmouth, but afterwards removed to Bristol. In 1815, he was appointed surveyor of the Bristol roads, and here he first seriously set himself to work to carry into actual operation the improvements which he had been pondering over for so many years. The main feature of his plan was to form a bed of fragments of stone – granite, whinstone, or basalt – none of which should be too large to pass through an iron ring two and a half inches in diameter. The stratum or bed of such materials was to be from six to twelve inches in thickness, and it was left to be brought into compactness and smoothness by the action of the vehicles passing over it. Though now approaching sixty years of age, Mr Macadam set himself with all energy to carry out this scheme, and before he died, he had the satisfaction of seeing his system of roadmaking generally adopted, though the only reward he reaped for his labours was a grant of £2000 from parliament, and the repayment of a large sum, amounting to several thousands more, which he proved before a committee of the House of Commons to have been expended by him from his own resources in perfecting his plan. He died at Moffat on 26th November 1836, in the eighty-first year of his age, leaving behind him the reputation of one of the most honourable and disinterested of men. 

The great drawback from the virtues of Mr Macadam’s plan, lies in the difficulty of obtaining a smooth surface. Without a firm substructure, the subjacent materials are apt to work up amongst those of the macadam bed. It is also found that carriages encounter a prodigious friction from these materials, until they have been somewhat beaten down; and that, even then, the wheels will be found to have left great longitudinal indentations or hollows, with rough ridges between, altogether at issue with true smoothness. The first objection was overcome by the great engineer Telford, who suggested a causewayed substructure as a basis for the bed of small stones. The second difficulty can be to a large extent overcome, by causing a heavy roller to pass in the first place over the bed of macadamised fragments, so as to jam them down into a compact cake, on which the carriages may then pass with comparative facility. But though this plan commends itself to the simplest common sense, and is very generally practised in France, the idea of its advantages seems never yet to have dawned upon the British intellect. Accordingly, the macadamised road is still, with us, a martyrdom to horses; and it is not too much to say, that the thoroughfares of London present, during a third part of all time, frictional difficulties ten times more than there is any just occasion for, and require four times the amount of renewal and expense which is strictly necessary.

On this Day in Other Sources.

After the Queen’s arrival at Craigmillar castle, her husband came to visit her, on the 26th of November; [1566,] and remained a week. The Queen was, meantime, in the hands of physicians, sick, and melancholy, as we learn, from the observant Le Croc. 

– Life of Mary, pp.136-151.

The new enquiry was opened, at Hampton court, when Cecil stated the mode of proceeding; threatened Mary with more strait imprisonment, and avowed the purpose of removing her to Tutbury. As he knew, from Knollys what she had in contemplation, with regard to Murray, he meant to meet her with menaces. It was not till the 26th of November, [1568,] that Murray, by various intrigues, was prevailed on, to give in his formal charge against the Scotish Queen. Lennox soon after came before the commissioners, and claimed justice against the Scotish Queen. The Queen of Scots’ commissioners, after receiving this accusation, gave in a representation; retorting the charge; desiring that their mistress might be admitted to Elizabeth’s presence, to defend her own innocence, and praying, that Murray, and his associates, might be arrested, as guilty murderers. Nothing could be more injudicious than this; as she submitted, if she had been received, to be tried, as a criminal, before a foreign power, that was not friendly to her. Elizabeth, in her usual manner, caused Murray, and his associates, to be reprehended, for giving in this charge, which Cecil, with her consent, had solicited. Elizabeth declined to receive Mary; and the English commissioners proceeded to receive Mary; and the English commissioners proceeded to receive Murray’s proofs, in support of his accusation. Meanwhile, Mary’s commissioners gave in a plan of reconcilement, which they proposed, as from themselves, before they proceeded to answer, than which, nothing could be more injudicious. Murray, and his associates, now made oath, as to the reality of finding of the gilt-box, with the letters, and Morton gave in, upon oath, a narrative of his manner of detecting the boxful of papers. They, also, proceeded to introduce witnesses, as well as a variety of papers, not one of which, in fair proceeding, ought to have been received, without great circumspection, particularly, Murray’s Journal, which is all falsehood, and calumny, Elizabeth’s commissioners, seeing so much of foul matter, in Murray’s fiction, forgery, and falsehood, as they said, approved greatly of her majesty’s refusal to admit the Scotish Queen to her presence. 

– Life of Mary, pp.206-234.

2581. Notes of Sermons and Lectures, principally preached at Glasgow. 1693-1702. 

These were taken down by John McGilchrist of Easter Possil, writer in Glasgow, who was “very accurate of the shorthand.” Amongst the preachers were Andrew Turner, minister of Erskine; Archibald Wallace, minister of Cardross; Neill Gillies, formerly minister of Cardross, afterwards of Glasgow; John McLaren of Glasgow and John Clark of Glasgow. At the end of the volume are MS. copies of the Dying Testimonies of James Renwick, John Kide, and John King. One of the sermons preached by David Brown at Erskine, on the occasion of the Congregational Fast, 26 November, 1700, occupies 17 closely-written pages. At the end the writer adds: “Night came on and I stopped wryting that the minister could not be followed after farder.” 

– Memorial Catalogue, Gallery 1.


Scottish Home Rule Association,

Edinburgh, November 25, 1889.

   SIR, – Before the echo of Lord Rosebery’s speech dies away, allow me to correct the astounding statement that the Union with England was not brought about by bribery and corruption. This argument he uses to enhance the claims of Ireland to precedence over Scotland, and thus for his own party ends deliberately falsifies history – a very strange procedure for a patriotic Scottish nobleman! I give you a list of the parties bribed, and may add that the Court of Session led by the Lord Chancellor was also bribed, the Lords Ordinary getting their salaries raised from £200 a year to £500 a year. – I am, &c.  


   A list of the parties bribed to betray their country:- Earl of Marchmont, £1104. 15s. 7d.; Earl of Cromarty, £300; Lord Preston Hall, £200; Lord Justice-Clerk, £200; Duke of Athole, £1000; Earl of Balcarres, £500; Earl of Dunmore, £200; Lord Anstruther, £300; Mr Stewart of Castle Stewart, £300; Lord Elphington, £200; Lord Fraser, £100; Lord Polwarth, £50; Mr John Campbell, £200; Earl of Findlater, £100; Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, £100; Earl of Glencairn, £100; Earl of Kintore, £200; John Muir, Provost of Ayr, £100; Lord Forbes, £50; Earl of Seafield, £490; Marquis of Tweeddale, £1000; Duke of Roxburghe, £500; Lord Elibank, £50; Lord Banff, £11; Major Cunningham, £100; to the messenger that brought down the Treaty of Union, £60; Sir William Sharp, £300; Patrick Coultrain, £25; Alex. Wedderburn, £75; to the Commissioners for Equipage and Daily Allowance, £12,325.”  

– The Scotsman, Tuesday 26th November, 1889.

– Treaty of Union Articles, Collection of Charles Waddie, AKA Thistledown’s, Correspondence.

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