St Andrew’s Day – Andersmas

A Legend of St Andrew.

 

It is recorded that on Rood-day, the 14th of September, in the harvest of 1128, the weather being fine and beautiful, King David and his courtiers, after mass, left the Castle by that gate before which he was wont to dispense justice to his people, and issued forth to the chase in the wild country that lay around – for then over miles of the land now covered by the new and much of the old city, for ages into times unknown, the oak-trees of the primeval forest of Drumsheugh had shaken down their leaves and acorns upon the wild and now extinct animals of the chase. And here it may be mentioned that boars’ tusks of most enormous size were found in 1846 in the bank to the south of the half-moon battery, together with an iron axe, the skull and bones of a man.

On this Rood-day we are told that the king issued from the Castle contrary to the advice of his confessor, Alfwin, an Augustinian monk of great sanctity and learning, who reminded him that it was the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, and should be passed in devotion, not in hunting; but of this advice the king took no heed.

Amid the dense forest and in the ardour of the chase he became separated from his train, in “the vail that lyis to the eist fra the said castell,” and found himself at the foot of the stupendous crags, where, “under the shade of a leafy tree,” he was almost immediately assailed by a white stag of gigantic size, which had been maddened by the pursuit, “noys and dyn of bugillis,” and which, according to Bellenden, was now standing boldly at bay, and, with its branching antlers, put the life of the pious monarch in imminent jeopardy, as he and his horse were both borne to the ground.

With a short hunting-sword, while fruitlessly endeavouring to defend himself against the infuriated animal, there appeared – continues the legend – a silver cloud, from the centre of which there came forth a hand, which placed in that of David a sparkling cross of miraculous construction, in so far that the material of which it was composed could never be discovered. Scared by this interposition, the white stag fled down the hollow way between the hills, but was afterwards slain by Sir Gregan Crawford, whose crest, a stag’s head erased with a cross-crosslet between the antlers, is still borne by his descendants, the Crawfords of Kilbirnie, in memory of that eventful day in the forest of Drumsheugh.

Thoughtful, and oppressed with great awe, the king slowly wended his way through the forest to the Castle; but the wonder did not end there, for when, after a long vigil, the king slept, there appeared by his couch St. Andrew, the apostle of Scotland, surrounded by rays of glory, instructing him to found, upon the exact spot where he had been miraculously saved, a twelfth monastery for the canons regular of St. Augustine; and, in obedience to this vision, he built the noble abbey of Holyrood, “in the little valley between two mountains” – i.e., the Craigs and the Calton. Therein the marvellous cross was preserved till it was lost at a long subsequent period; but, in memory of St. David’s adventure on Rood-day, a stag’s head with a cross between the antlers is still borne as the arms of the Canongate. Alfwin was appointed first abbot, and left a glorious memory for many virtues.

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.21-26.

 

Events on His Day.

 

About the year 1600, James Chalmers, a macer before the Court of Session, acquired a right to the chapel, and in 1618 the Corporations of Wrights and Masons, known by the name of the United Incorporations of Mary’s Chapel, purchased this subject, “where they still possess, and where they hold meetings,” says Arnot, writing in 1779. 

In the Caledonian Mercury for 1736 we read that on St. Andrew’s Day the masters and wardens of forty masonic lodges met in St. Mary’s Chapel, and unanimously elected as their grand-master William Sinclair of Roslin, the representative of an ancient though reduced family, connected for several generations with Scottish freemasonry. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.246-252.

 

   “London, Decem. 1. Yesterday being St. Andrew’s Day (the Titular Saint of Scotland) the Natives of that Part of Great Britain wore the Cross of that Saint; and the Nobility of the Order of St. Andrew, or the Thistle, made their Appearance at Court in their Green Ribbans. We hear that his Majesty, who together with his Royal Highness the Prince, wore the Cross, is to create four new Knights of that Order. The Society of Scots Gentlemen, who meet here annually on this Day, had a Feast, as usually, and chose Mr. George Middleton their Master for the Year ensuing. The Knights of this Order used to meet, before the Union, at St. Andrew’s Town and Kirk. History is not certain when this Order began; but only, that the Scots have received St. Andrew for their Guardian ever since the 810, in the Reign of Hungus the Pict; when the said Hungus making War with Athlanstan King of England, saw in the Sky, the Night before the Battle, a bright Cross, like that on which St. Andrew suffered Martyrdom, and the Day proving successful to Hungus, he and his Confederate Achaius went bare-footed to the Kirk of St. Andrew’s, to return Thanks to GOD and his Apostle for their Victory; vowing, for themselves and their Posterity, always to use the said Cross in their Ensigns and Banners: Which has accordingly been observed by the Scots and Picts ever since; and hence, tis believed, the Order took its Rise.”  

– Caledonian Mercury, Tuesday 8th December, 1724. 
– Treaty of Union Articles, Articles 1700-1750. 

 

On this Day in Other Sources.

 

Of that Named for Him.

 

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THE city and royal burgh of St. Andrews stands upon a rocky height, rising about fifty feet above the level of the bay of the German ocean to which it gives name. In whatever way it is approached, whether from the sea or by land, St. Andrews, with its lofty though ruined towers, presents an imposing appearance. The city is about a mile in circumference, and contains three principal streets, – South-street, Market-street, and North-street, – which diverge from the Cathedral in a westerly direction, like spokes from the centre of a wheel, and are intersected at right angles, in various places, by a number of lanes or streets of smaller dimensions. The three principal streets, – especially South-street, which is the broadest, and best built, – have a noble though antiquated appearance, and are each ornamented by public buildings. In South-street are St. Mary’s college, the Madras college, and the Town-church; in Market-street, the Town-hall; and in North-street, the United college, with the chapel of St. Salvator, the Episcopal chapel, and the Secession chapel. At the west end of Market-street, between it and North-street, a fine street has been recently opened up, named after Dr. Bell, the founder of the Madras college; and at the west end of North-street, on a portion of the links, a row of elegant houses has been erected. West of the termination of South-street is a large suburb called Argyle. The principal streets are well-paved, cleanly kept, and, during winter, lighted with gas.

– Scotland Illustrated, pp.2-4.

 

My photos of St Andrews’ Cathedral & Castle.

 

The cathedral of St. Andrews, one of the greatest structures in Scotland, was founded about the year 1162. Its art belongs to a period of transition between the twelfth and the thirteenth centuries, while its plan shews the perfected arrangement of transepts and aisles…

The reputed relics of St. Andrew were brought to Scotland sometime between the years 731 and 761. The primacy was transferred from Abernethy to St. Andrews in 908. In the same year an assembly was held at the Moot-hill of Scone at which Bishop Cellach appeared, called the first bishop of St. Andrews. Fothad succeeded Cellach, but was expelled in 954. Malisius was bishop from 954 to 963. Doubtful notices then occur, until reference is made to Cellach who was bishop for twenty-five years (970 to 995). Alwyn was bishop from 1025 to 1028, and was succeeded by Maelduin, who was bishop for twenty-seven years – from 1028 to 1055. Tuthald was then bishop for four years. He was followed by Fothad, who saw the Norman Conquest and solemnised the marriage of Malcolm [IV. / Canmore] and [St.] Margaret [before she was canonised] in 1069. He died in 1093. After a fourteen years’ vacancy, the first bishop of the Margaretan church appears in 1107 in the person of Bishop Turgot. He was at the founding of Durham Cathedral, and he died there in 1115. Eadmer of Canterbury was succeeded by Bishop Robert, who was elected in 1128, established a priory at St. Andrews in 1144, and died in 1159…

It is probable that the Northumbrian clergy, when they came to this spot, dispossessed the Columban church and entered into possession of the old church on the crag. It would become the Cathedral of the see of St. Andrews in the year 908, and this dignity it doubtless retained until the time of Bishop Cellach, when the present church of St. Regulus was erected as more befitting the Bishop of Scotland. Bishop Arnold followed this example in 1162 by building the present cathedral. It is evident that St. Regulus Church must have served as the cathedral for the Margaretan Church for some sixty years. St. Andrews therefore, in all probability, presents the unique spectacle of three cathedral churches alongside of each other. It is known that the representatives of the Northumbrian church, with whom the name of Culdee is mysteriously associated, were allowed to retain possession of the old church on the crag. Here an independent position was maintained in a collegiate foundation, although under the shadow of the great cathedral, until the sixteenth century. It is recorded that when Bishop Robert died in 1159, after founding the new priory, he was buried in the “old church.” The old church must have been this church on the crag. It would be interesting if it could be proved which of these three churches was visited by the pilgrims who came to venerate the relics of St. Andrew…

Candida Casa 5

The latter-day name of this early church is known. It was called the Outer-kirk, or Cross-kirk; and it is possible to give a sketch drawing of it here. As mentioned above, the seal of the chapter of St. Andrews, of date 1450, presents an interesting view of the early church of St. Regulus. Two seals of Whithorn are preserved, and on both a picture of the old church appears. One of the seals is of the year 1613; the other, of which a drawing is given […], is probably, judging from the character of the lettering, of about the middle of the fifteenth century. It will be noticed that the tower stands between the very short chancel and nave. Its high pitched roof resembles that on the tower in the seal of St. Andrews. The pinnacles, and probably the upper part of the tower, are late works. The panel shewn in the base of the tower, extending upwards to the wall-head, is evidently intended to represent the deep recess between the chancel and nave, due to those parts of the building being broader than the tower. 

– Scots Lore, pp.192-210.

 

Principal Robertson, who was supposed to be friendly to Catholics, and defended them in the ensuing General Assembly, had his house attacked, his library nearly destroyed, and was obliged to take shelter among the troops in the castle. Dr. Hay, who now lies interred in an obscure churchyard, without a stone to mark his grave, was the last of the bishops in Blackfriars Wynd. The upper portion of the tenement he occupied was destroyed by fire in 1791. It was seven storeys in height, as appears by an account of the conflagration in the Scots Magazine for that year, which adds, “many poor families have lost their all. An old respectable citizen, above 80, was carried out during the fire. Happily, no lives were lost.” 

Nearly opposite to it was another large tenement, the upper storey of which was also long used as a Catholic chapel, and as such was dedicated to St. Andrew the Apostle of Scotland, until it was quitted, in 1813, for a more complete and ornate church, St. Mary’s in Broughton Street. After it was abandoned, “the interior of the chapel retained much of its original state till its demolition. The framework of the simple altar-piece still remained, though the rude painting of the patron saint of Scotland which originally filled it had disappeared, Humble as must have been the appearance of this chapel – even when furnished with every adjunct of Catholic ceremonial for Christmas or Easter festivals, aided by the imposing habits of the officiating priests that gathered round its little altar – yet men of high rank and ancient lineage were wont to assemble among the worshippers.” 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.258-266.

 

   “The hall was beautifully and appropriately decorated under the superintendence of George Lamb, Esq., one of the associates. At the east end, over the Chairman’s table, there were suspended two royal standards of Scotland on blue coloured staves, with yellow tops, and tassels of yellow. This portion of the hall was also tastefully decorated with wreaths of evergreens and flowers. Over the Croupier’s chair, at the west end, and above the gallery, a union ensign was suspended on the wall, with wreaths of evergreens. On the north and south sides of the hall, the great windows were draped overwith curtains of the newly-arranged Scottish rights’ tartan, which does much credit to the taste of Mr James McKissock, 81 Wilson Street, Glasgow, the maker. Suspended from the curtains, and hanging over between the windows, were tastefully-arranged floral wreaths. On the north side, the St Andrew’s Ensign was suspended from a flag-staff, coloured blue with yellow top. The St Andrew’s Ensign is the Standard of Scotland, with the union in the corner. The English have their St George’s Ensign, and Scotland has her equal right to display her St Andrew’s, when and where she wills. On the south side of the hall there was displayed the Standard of Scotland. It is unnecessary, on Scottish ground, to describe the standard of our country. It is to be regretted that it is not oftener seen; it was the flag of our forefathers, and their descendants should be proud of it and its many glorious associations. In front of the chair were the Royal Arms of Scotland painted on canvass, and the Arms of the Earl of Eglinton, and Duke of Montrose; and below, festoons of evergreens and heather, &c.”   

– Glasgow Sentinel, Saturday 7th October, 1854.
– Treaty of Union Articles, Articles 1850-1875.

 

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Covered with glass and secured in a strong iron cage, the [Scottish] regalia now lie on a white marble table in the crown-room, together with four other memorials of the House of Stuart, which belonged to the venerable Cardinal York, and were deposited there by order of King William in 1830. These are the golden collar of the Garter presented to James VI. by Elizabeth, with its appendage the George; the order of St. Andrew, cut on an onyx and having on the reverse the badge of the Thistle, which opens with a secret spring, revealing a beautiful miniature of Anne of Denmark, and, lastly, the ancient ruby ring which the kings of Scotland wore at their coronation. It was last used by the unhappy Charles I., and, after all its wanderings with his descendants, is now in its old receptacle, together with the crown, sceptre, sword of state, and the golden mace of Lord High Treasurer.

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– Old and New Edinburgh (1880), pp.66-79.

 

Coin from the RSH collection.

“The laigh-shop of Creech’s Land was last occupied by the Messrs. Hutchison, extensive traders, who, in the bad state of the copper coinage, when the halfpennies of George III. would not pass current in Scotland, produced a coinage of Edinburgh halfpennies in 1791 that were long universally received. On one side were the city arms and crest, boldly struck, surrounded by thistles, with the legend, Edinburgh Halfpenny; on the other, St. Andrew with his cross, and the national motto, Nemo me impune lacessit, which is freely and spiritedly rendered, “Ye daurna meddle wi’ me.” Since then they have gradually disappeared, and now are only to be found in numismatic collections.” 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.148-157.

 

“I am tired,” says Julius Leichton, “of hearing the Roman authors quoted, when the commencement of our civilization is spoken of, while nothing is said of the Celts, or of our obligation to them. It was not the Latins, it was the Gauls who were our first instructors. Aristotle declared that philosophy was derived by the Greeks from the Gauls, and not imparted to them. The Gauls were truly of sharp wit and apt to learn. So much did the Briton Celts excel in profound learning, that the youths of the continent came hitherto to study by a course of no less than twenty year’s probation.” (See Tacitus’s life of Agricola.) Read the same Roman historian’s admiration and description of the Caledonian Celts under the command of Corbred the Second, surnamed Galgacus and twenty-second King of Scotland, when they confronted the Roman army under the command of Agricola, at the foot of the Grampian hills, where a most sanguinary battle was fought; and though the Romans by stratagem gained a partial victory, and when Agricola proposed to pursue them, “No,” said Tacitus (his son-in-law) “be content that you have so many of the Roman soldiers to lead off the field that if you pursue the defeated Caledonians one league further, you shall not have one Roman soldier to guard your person going home. These are the most formidable, and bravest enemy that ever Rome had to confront, every one of them will die before they yield, they are true patriots, Agricola, make all haste to your strongholds or you are done.” So the Romans had to retrace their steps, and the Caledonians pursued them until the Romans were ultimately driven into the sea. Columba burned many of these Celtic records, yet many survived his ravages. St. Patrick burned one hundred and eighty-nine of those works at Tara, Ireland, all written in the Gaelic language, with a little mixture of Latin. Edward the First, of England, destroyed many of them, and after the ignoble union with England, what portion of them were preserved extant from these ravages, are now suppressed so as to deprive Scotland of their Celtic record and of the history of their grandfathers. I find thirty-seven of these records suppressed, and locked up in libraries where only a few favourites are admitted, and those say very little about them, except what they say to mutilate and violate them. To enumerate all the works in the Gaelic, Latin, and English language, now suppressed, would require more room or space than I can spare in this small narrative. Among these works, we find the ancient annals of Scotland; the Pictish Chronicle of high antiquity; the register of St. Andrew, beginning with 827, when that university was founded by the primitive Celtic christians of Scotland; the works of Nenius in the seventh century; the annals of Dunbarton, beginning with the Columbian period; the Chronicle of Melrose, partly written in Gaelic, and partly in Latin; the Obituary and Chartularly of Glasgow; the History of Scotland by Vermandus, Arch-Deacon of St. Andrew, in 1079, Hector Boethius, first principal of Aberdeen College, his history cut deep and is on that account abhorred by the English, (on the savage charge given by Edward the First to his no less savage son, to boil him after he was dead, and to carry his bones with him to frighten the Scots) – Boethius remarks that after he was boiled, “few would sup the broth.” The black book of Paisley, the last part of which is a continuation of Scots’ Chronicon [John Fordun’s ‘Scotichronicon’, completed by Walter Bower]. Also Lord Elibank’s Treatise on the Scottish League with France in the reign of Charlemange; and the vast collection of Scottish Annals collected by Sir James Balfour, still preserved, particularly his registers of Scone and Cambuskeneth, now locked up in the Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh, besides his history of Fergus the First to Charles the First; together with the Monastic Chronicles, under the appropriate title of Scottish Annals. 

– Gloomy Memories, pp.ii-xiii.

 

Wells were also used as divining-pools. By placing a wooden bowl softly on the surface of St Andrew’s Well (Isle of Lewis), and watching if it turned from or towards the sun; the latter being the favourable omen, the end of the illness could easily be known. 

– Book of Days (1886), July 1st.

 

There stood on the north side of the Castle Hill an ancient church, some vestiges of which were visible in Maitland’s time, in 1753, and which he supposed to have been dedicated to St. Andrew the patron of Scotland, and which he had seen referred to in a deed of gift of twenty merks yearly, Scottish money, to the Trinity altar therein, by Alexander Curor, vicar of Livingstone, 20th December, 1488. In June, 1754, when some workmen were levelling this portion of the Castle Hill, they discovered a subterranean chamber, fourteen feet square, wherein lay a crowned image of the Virgin, hewn of very white stone, two brass altar candlesticks, some trinkets, and a few ancient Scottish and French coins. By several remains of burnt matter and two large cannon balls being also found there, this edifice was supposed to have been demolished during some of the sieges undergone by the Castle since the invention of artillery. 

– Old and New Edinburgh (1880), pp.79-87.

 

“MR. FALLOW in the Antiquary this month usefully registers the characteristics of a degenerate form of miracle play in Yorkshire. Until a few years ago the Sword-Actors, as they were called, constituted a genuine local and traditional institution of the West Riding, where, however, their cult is now practically obsolete. They were caught in the act some fifteen years ago by the amateur photographer, and a motley show they now make when once more called before the curtain – pictorially – in the page of our contemporary. Everywhere the parochial drama has a severely restricted groove. These Yorkshire youths had but two favourite plays, the “Peace Egg” and the “Seven Champions,” in both of which St. George was the hero. St. Andrew, doubtless to stamp him as emphatically the Scottish Saint, carries a rampant lion on his shield. Nor does that heraldic emblem exhaust his indications of national preference. Not only does he wear a cap and feather and a plaid, but, if the dimness of the plate does not mislead, he has clothed his nether person in a truly marvellous but incompatible combination of a tartan kilt, with trousers!” 

– Scots Lore, pp.282-285.

 

BULWER has just delivered himself of one of his best firework orations, as the new Lord Rector of Glasgow. He glowingly counselled the young students to go forth into the world “with the lion of Scotland in their hearts, and the white cross of ST. ANDREW” – we forget where. Now, what could be nobler knight-errantry for these young Scotch lions crossed with ST. ANDREW, than to sally forth in search of the papers, the charters, and the burgh-seals carried from Scotland by EDWARD THE FIRST, and hidden in the closets, the store-rooms (much of the parchment covering the mouths of pickle-jars,) and the strong boxes of the Southron? The history of any one such knight duly attended by his SANCHO duly mounted, the faithful animal fed with the national thistle, would make a finer poem than the Faëry Queen, a more splendid prose epic than Don Quixotte. We make a present of the idea to PROFESSOR AYTOUN, who, should he condescend to adopt it, will for equal justice to Scotland and himself. EDWARD THE FIRST has long enough had it all his own way; and it is quite right that, even at this late hour, Scotland should bring the freebooter to the scratch. – January 31, 1857., p.42. 

Punch’s Almanack (1857).

 

 

A great debate fell out, this year, [1514,] between John Hepburn, Prior of St. Andrews, by his canons elected Archbishop, and Gavin Douglas, Bishop of Dunkeld, elected by the Queen Regent; but Hepburn possesses himself of St. Andrews castle… 

In the beginning of this year, 1515, at the earnest solicitation of the Queen Regent, with the Duke of Albany, with the French King, and he, with the Pope, Andrew Forman, Bishop of Moray, is confirmed Archbishop of St. Andrews… 

The 1st of May this year, [1517,] the Lord Governor [John, Duke of Albany] returns to France; and during his absence, commits the government to the Archbishops of St. Andrews [Andrew Forman] and Glasgow [James Beaton], and to the Earls of Huntly [Alexander Gordon], Argyll [Colin Campbell], Angus [Archibald Douglas] and Arran [James Hamilton]… 

In the month of June, this year, 1518, Gavin Dunbar, Clerk Register, and Archdea[co]n of St. Andrews, in place of Alexander Gordon, lately deceased, is advanced to the Bishopric of Aberdeen… 

About this time, [1522,] also, dies Andrew Forman, Archbishop of St. Andrews, and to him succeeds James [Beaton], Archbishop of Glasgow; and the King’s master, Gavin Dunbar, was preferred to the sea of Glasgow. He was a religious and learned prelate, thereafter he was Lord Chancellor of Scotland… 

This same year, [1525,] also, the Queen mother obtains sentence of divorce from her husband, the Earl of Angus, before the Legate and the official of the Metropolitan of St. Andrews; and shortly thereafter marries Henry Stewart, son to the Lord Avondale [Andrew Stewart], whom King James V. thereafter, to honour his mother, created Lord Methven, and master of the ordnance… 

This year, 1527, is Patrick Hamilton, Abbot of [Fearn], and [cousin] to the Earl of Arran [James Hamilton], burnt at St. Andrews, by the wicked and corrupt clergy there, for professing the gospel… 

The King, to please his nobility that wished him well, sends the Earl of Moray and David [Beaton], Abbot of Arbroath, (lately made a Cardinal by Pope Paul III., and Bishop of [Mirepoix] by the French King,) his ambassadors to suit for him the marriage of the Lady Mary, Duchess Dowager of Longueville, daughter to Claude of Lorraine, Duke of Guise, a very beautiful lady. This suit of the Scottish ambassadors pleased the French King and the [lady’s] parents exceedingly. The King hearing how all things went, sends over the Lord [Robert] Maxwell and [William Cunningham] the Master of Glencairn to conclude it, with the other ambassadors that were there before; the [said] marriage was solemnised by proxy, with great pomp, at Paris. She ships, and lands at Crail, in Fife, [on] the 19th day of June, this same year [1538]; from whence she went to St. Andrews, where the King meets her, and there accomplishes the marriage… 

The Queen is delivered, this year, [1539,] of a son, christened James. His godfathers were the Archbishop of St. Andrews [James Beaton], and Earl of Arran [James Hamilton]; and the Queen mother was his godmother… 

About the end of this year dies James [Beaton], Archbishop of St. Andrews; and to his sea succeeds, by the King’s donation, David [Beaton], Cardinal Bishop of [Mirepoix]… 

This year, [1540,] the Queen was brought to bed of another son, who was christened Arthur, and dies at Stirling the [eighth] day after he was christened; and this same week, also, dies Prince James, the King’s eldest son, at St. Andrews. 

– Historical Works, James V. (1513-1542).

 

Sep. 8 [1568]. – ‘Ane called James Dalgliesh, merchant, brought the pest in [to] Edinburgh.’ – D. O. 

According to custom in Edinburgh, when this dire visitor made his appearance, the families which proved to be infected were compelled to remove, with all their goods and furniture, out to the Burgh-moor, where they lodged in wretched huts hastily erected for their accommodation. They were allowed to be visited by their friends, in company with an officer, after eleven in the forenoon; any one going earlier was liable to be punished with death – as were those who concealed the pest in their houses. Their clothes were meanwhile purified by boiling in a large caldron erected in the open air, and their houses were ‘clengit’ by the proper officers. All these regulations were under the care of two citizens selected for the purpose, and called Bailies of the Muir; for each of whom, as for the cleansers and bearers of the dead, a gown of gray was made, with a white St Andrew’s cross before and behind, to distinguish them from other people. Another arrangement of the day was, ‘that there be made twa close biers, with four feet, coloured over with black, and [ane] white cross with ane bell to be hung upon the side of the said bier, whilk sall mak warning to the people.’ 

– Domestic Annals, pp.35-44.

 

William Bertraham, Provost of Edinburgh, [in 1481] with the whole community of the city, undertook to repay to the king of England the dowry of his daughter the Lady Cecil[y of York, for the broken marriage alliance with James VI.], and afterwards they fulfilled their obligations by repaying 6,000 merks to the Garter King-at-Arms. In acknowledgment of this loyal service James granted to the city the patent known as its “Golden Charter,” by which the provost and bailies were created sheriffs of their own boundaries, with other important privileges. Upon the craftsmen he also conferred a banner, said to have been made by the queen and her ladies, still preserved and known popularly as the “Blue Blanket,” and it was long the rallying point of the Burgher-guard in every war or civic broil. Thus, James VI., in the “Basilicon Doron,” points out to Prince Henry – “The craftsmen think we should be content with their work how bad soever it be; and if in anything they be controuled, up goes the Blue Blanket!”

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This banner, according to Kincaid, is of blue silk, with a white St. Andrew’s cross. It is swallow-tailed, measuring in length from the pole ten feet two inches, and in breadth six and a half feet. It bears a thistle crowned, with mottoes: “Fear God and honour the King with a long lyffe and a prosperous reigne;” and “And we that is Trades shall ever pray to be faithfull for the defence of his sacred Maiesties royal person till Death.” 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.32-47.

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