6th of December – St Nicholas’ Day

St Theophilus, bishop of Antioch, confessor, 190. St Nicholas, confessor, archbishop of Myra, 342. Saints Dionysia, Dativa, Aemilianus, Boniface, Leontin, Tertius, and Majoricus, martyrs, 484. St Peter Paschal, bishop and martyr, 1300.

Born. – Baldassarre Castiglione, diplomatist and man of letters, 1478, Casatico, near Mantua; Sir David Baird, hero of Seringapatam, 1757, Newbyth, Scotland.
Died. – Otho II., Emperor of Germany, 983, Rome; Alphonso I. of Portugal, 1185, Coimbra; Pope Clement VI., 1352, Avignon; Florent Carton Dancourt, comic dramatist, 1726.

On this Day in Other Sources.

The 6th of December this same year, [1214,] Alexander, King William’s son, was, by the nobility and others, conveyed to Scone, and there solemnly crowned; at whose coronation assisted William del Bois, the Lord Chancellor; Walter [Capellanus], Bishop of Glasgow, and Robert [Capellanus], [Bishop] elect of Ross; David, Earl of Huntingdon, the King’s uncle, almost broken with age; together with the Earls of Atholl, Angus, Menteith, Buchan, &c. 

– Historical Works, pp.38-57.

The 6th of December, this year, [1352,] Pope Clement VI. departs this life at Avignon; and to him succeeds [Étienne Aubert], Cardinal of Ostia, a Limousin, by the name of Innocent VI. 

– Historical Works, pp.104-124.

ON the south side of this great thoroughfare and immediately opposite to the City Guard House, stood the famous Black Turnpike. It occupied the ground westward of the Tron church, and now left vacant as the entrance to Hunter’s Square. It is described as a magnificent edifice by Maitland, and one that, if not disfigured by one of those timber fronts (of the days of James IV.), would be the most sumptuous building perhaps in Edinburgh. But, like many others, it had rather a painful history. [See view, p. 136.] 


“A principal proprietor of this building,” says Maitland, “has been pleased to show me a deed wherein George Robertson of Lochart, burgess of Edinburgh, built the said tenement, which refutes the idle story of its being built by Kenneth III.” The above-mentioned deed is dated Dec. 6, 1461, and, in the year 1508, the same author relates that James IV. empowered the Edinburghers to farm or let the Burghmuir, which they immediately cleared of wood; and in order to encourage people to buy this wood; the Town Council enacted that all persons might extend the fronts of their houses seven feet into the street, whereby the High Street was reduced fourteen feet in breadth, and the appearance of the houses much injured. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.204-212.

Meanwhile, the Scotish King was not easy, when he learned, that the guilty axe of Elizabeth hung over his mother’s head, by the slender thread of that Queen’s duplicity. He was surrounded by Scotish traitors, and by English spies, when not yet one and twenty. And he was thus induced to think, that Elizabeth, in deciding the fate of a hated rival, would regard his feelings, more than her own sensations of dread, and hatred. While the fate of his mother was yet suspended, the ministers of Edinburgh, on his application, refused, to pray for her, according to their usual contempt, in that age for gospel charity. From this denial, he probably saw, what he had to trust to, if he were to give greater vent to his revenge, than his policy; and he, certainly, felt his own imbecility, amid such a collision of parties, and prostitution of principles. On the 6th of December, [1587,] two days, after the proclamation of his mother’s condemnation, he dispatched a numerous deputation of ambassadors, “to endeavour to stop the proceedings against the Queen, his mother.” 

A month almost elapsed, after the event, before King James, distinctly, knew, that his mother had died by a stroke of Elizabeth’s vengeance, with a resolution worthy of her rank, with an affectionate remembrance of him, and with a just regard to her native kingdom. Elizabeth, meanwhile, wrote him a soothing, but fallacious letter, by Robert Cary, her kinsman; wherein she wished the King of Scots, to understand, that this lamentable accident had happened, contrary to her intention. Of Elizabeth’s real design, there can be no doubt: We see but too plainly, that her object was to cause the Queen of Scots to be, privately, assassinated, rather than publicly executed, in Davison’s narrative, and still more, in the letter of her two secretaries, Walsingham and Davison, to Paulet and Drury, urging them to perform the guilty deed. The King refused to receive her envoy, which indicated, that he disbelieved her gross simulation, as did her own ministers, and the civilized world. She sent, however, the sentence against Davison, which was only an aggravation of her guilt; and what was of more importance, as it was of more use, she communicated to the King, the opinion of the judges; affirming that the sentence against his mother would not prejudice his title to the succession, which awaited him. 

– Life of Mary, pp.304-328.

This year ended with the Lord [John] Maxwell’s slaughter by [James] the Laird of Johnstone, [on] the 6th of this month of December [1593]; and [Walter Ker] the Laird of Cessford’s combat with the traitor Bothwell, who fought [2] against 2, the 11th day of this same month.

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

On the 6th of December 1601, the Laird of Bargeny had occasion to go to Ayr on business. Along with him rode his brother and the Laird of Benand – the two leaders in the affair of the kiln – and ten or twelve other horsemen. Passing within a quarter of a mile of Cassillis Castle and not stopping to pay their respects to the earl, they thus violated one of the most sacred of the social laws then existing. Lord Cassillis could interpret it into nothing but the grossest insult. He was the more enraged, knowing that Bargeny’s two principal companions had lately lain in wait for his life. He immediately took measures for gathering his friends about him, and sent spies to Ayr to apprise him of all Bargeny’s movements. 

After spending four or five days in Ayr, Bargeny proposed to return to his own house, much against the advice of his friends, who feared dangers by the way. Setting out with a company of about eighty on horseback, in the midst of a dense snowstorm, he made a halt at the Bridge of Doon – that place since made so famous from another cause – and there addressed his people, protesting that he sought no quarrel with Lord Cassillis, but expressing his hope that, is attacked, they would stand around him and do their duty as became men of honour. They all assured him that they would die in his defence. He then divided his train into two parties, and riding on, at the Lady Cross met the earl, who came out of Maybole with fully two hundred men. Being all ready to meet, the ane on the Teind knowe, and the other on the next, within the shot of ane musket, they began to flyte [use despiteful language towards each other]. 

The Laird of Bargeny, anxious still to avoid fighting if possible, led off his men along the side of a bog; but the Cassillis party came by the other side and met him at the bottom. He then made a dash forward across a ditch, with Muir of Auchindrain, his page, and three other gentlemen, but, not being supported by any others, found himself outnumbered by the enemy. A brief conflict took place, in which the laird and his friends unhorsed, and another sore hurt. He himself, though but one of his friends remained, was not daunted, but rode rapidly into the ranks of the enemy. He was instantly set upon by a host of the earl’s friends, who strake at him with swords and bore him back by sheer force. At that moment, one John Dick, who had formerly received benefits at his hands, thrust a lance through his throat and stopped his breath. The poor gentleman was then borne off by his horse towards such of his party as still stood their ground, and fell at their feet. The skirmish being now at an end, they were allowed to conduct him away from the field, taking his first to a barn at a place called Dingham, then to Maybole, and finally to Ayr, where he soon after died, being but twenty-five years of age, leaving a widow and two children to bewail his bloody end. 

The procedure consequent on this sad tragedy is very notable. The Countess of Cassillis rose immediately to court, to intercede for James’s favour towards her lord. With the help of the Laird of Colzean, she contrived to obtain an act of Council, making the earl’s part in the late conflict ‘good service to the king’ – the pretext being that, in the opposite party, was Thomas Kennedy, Bargeny’s brother, a denounced rebel. A partial contemporary adds: ‘The ten thousand merks given to the treasurer was what did the turn.’ 

‘The Lady Bargeny rade to Edinburgh and made her complent to the king and queen, but was little better, or least but heard; for she was compellit to buy the ward of her son, and to give thirteen thousand merks for the same.’ It is alleged that she afterwards used all the means she could to take the life of Lord Cassillis, in revenge for her husband’s death. She died in 1605. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.124-176.

It has been doubted how old the practice of rod-fishing is. On the 6th December 1632, his father becomes caution for Duncan Campbell in Creit garrow, that he shall not burn a blaze, shoot a waspe, nor put out a wand on the water of Tay.1

– Sketches, pp.341-394.

1  The “blazing” the water, or killing salmon when drawn by the light of fires within sight and reach, is still too well known in the upper Highlands. A “waspe” spear is the same as the “leister” of the border Highlands. The wand or rod-fishing was, I hope, “put out” with fly.

Through this building there is a narrow alley named Blair’s Close – so narrow indeed, that amid the brightest sunshine there is never in it more than twilight – giving access to an open court, at the first angle of which is a handsome Gothic doorway, surmounted by an ogee arch, within which, is a large coronet, supported by two deerhounds, well known features in the Gordon arms. Local tradition universally affirms this mansion to have been the residence of the duke of that title, which was bestowed on the house of Huntly in 1684; but the edifice in question evidently belongs to an anterior age; and the old tradition was proved to be correct, when in a disposition (now in possession of the City Improvement Commission) by Sir Robert Baird to his son William, dated 1694, he describes it as “all and hail, that my lodging in the Castle Hill of Edinburgh, formerly possessed by the Duchess of Gordon.”


The latter was Lady Elizabeth Howard, daughter of the Duke of Norfolk and wife of Duke George, who so gallantly defended the Castle against the troops of William of Orange; during the lifetime of the duke she retired to a Belgian convent, but afterwards returned to the old mansion in Edinburgh, where she frequently resided till her death, which took place at the abbey in 1732, sixteen years after that of the duke at Leith. The internal fittings of the mansion are in many respects unchanged since its occupation by the duchess. It is wood–panelled throughout, and one large room which overlooks the Esplanade is decorated with elaborate carvings, and with a large painting over the mantelpiece the production of Norrie, a famous house-decorator of the eighteenth century, whose genius for landscapes entitles him to a place among Scottish painters. An explosion of gunpowder which took place in the basement of the house in 1811, attended with serious loss of life, destroyed utterly the ancient Gothic fireplace, which was very beautiful in its design. 

This house is mentioned in the “Diurnal of Occurrents” as being, in 1570, the residence of Patrick Edgar; and after it passed from the Gordons it was possessed by the family of Newbyth, who resided in it for several generations, and therein, on the 6th December, 1757, was born the gallant Sir David Baird, Bart., the hero of Seringapatam and conqueror of Tippoo Saib; and therein he was educated and brought up. Returning years after, he visited the place of his birth, which had long since passed into other hands. Chambers relates that the individual then occupying the house received the veteran hero with great respect, and, after showing him through it, ushered him into the little garden behind, where some boys were engaged in mischievously throwing cabbage stalks at the chimneys of the Grassmarket. On one going plump down a vent they set up a shout of joy. Sir David laughed, and entreated the father of the lads “not to be too angry; he and his brother,” he added with some emotion, “when living here at the same age, had indulged in precisely the same amusement, the chimneys then, as now, being so provokingly open to attacks, that there was no resisting the temptation.” From the Bairds of Newbyth the house passed to the Browns of Greenbank, and from them, Brown’s Close, where the modern entrance to it is situated, derives its name.

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.87-94.

   The town of Auchterarder was once, perhaps, of greater note. It was a royal burgh, and sent a member to parliament; and a great number of the houses hold burgage to this day. How it came to lose its privileges is not certainly known. It consists of one street above a mile long. Besides six fairs every year, – viz. on the last Tuesday of March, the first Thursday of May, and in each of the harvest-months, – there has been a yearly tryst held here in the beginning of October, since the year 1781, at which there has been always a great show of black cattle, previous to the tryst at Falkirk. Another fair is held on December 6th.

– Gazetteer of Scotland, pp.74-75.


St Stephen’s Works, Edinburgh, December 5, 1884.  

   SIR, – Your correspondent ‘A Scotch Liberal’ seems to think Berwick-on-Tweed is a Scottish town. If he inquires into the matter, however, he will find that it is an English town, under the English law, and in no way connected with Scotland but in sentiment. His reference to the Treaty of Union I don’t understand. Perhaps it would be as wise to say as little on that subject as possible, as under the Treaty we are only entitled to forty-five members.  

   I hear so many strange references to the Treaty of Union that I rub my eyes and wonder if I have ever read that precious document. It is not a treaty that the Scots have much reason to be proud of, but it would be well for the people of Scotland if they studied it a little more, if for no other reason than that it would prevent some people from referring to a page of history they have never read.  

   Public opinion is slowly but surely awakening in Scotland to the fact that Scotland cannot be governed properly from London. The latest exposure of the educational muddle is opening our eyes to the ignorance, arrogance, and conceit of our Cockney rulers. May each loyal Scot earnestly pray that the rule of such blockheads may soon come to a close. – I am, &c.  


– The Scotsman, Saturday 6th December, 1884.

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



Newton Grange House, Mid-Lothian,  

December 5, 1887.  

   SIR, – It appears to me that the ‘Radical Unionist’ proves exactly what we Scottish Home Rulers complain of, and what is set forth in the manifesto to which he refers. We desire a Union, not an obliteration; we desire that in all Imperial questions the different nationalities will be all blended into one British nation, and in local matters each shall have the management of its own affairs. It is of no use for ‘Radical Unionist’ or for anybody else to stuff down the throats of Scotsmen of the present day that this has been the object and practice of English statesmen since the Union of 1707. Why, the very last foreign treaty made by the Imperial Government is entered on the Rolls of Parliament as being between England and the other contracting Power. Where, let me ask, is the British nation here that the Unionist is ‘willing to defend at all hazards?’ She legally is not named in the treaty. It would not be difficult to direct attention to scores of similar bumptious errors of spoken and written phraseology in direct antagonism to the Treaty of Union, and unless we Scots are prepared to blot from history the noble deeds of our forefathers, and to forfeit any claim in the history of the future of our race, as it appears to me, the present is the time for the nation as one man to unite and demand that Scotsmen alone shall manage the domestic or local affairs of Scotland.  

   The present Treaty of Union, shamefully onesided as it is, has been pusillanimously broken and defaced by the stronger party to that treaty. There must be no facilities for similar infringements in our amended Union. Our Church, education, justices, and taxation for local purposes must be exclusively under the control of Scotsmen. That piece of bunkum speech which we are having dunned in our ears from almost every Englishman who addresses a Scottish audience, that Scotland has only to say to the English Parliament what she wants, and she will get it, won’t go down now. We know that the very opposite is the fact, and indeed in an assembly where everything is decided by majority of votes, it must be so, seeing that Scotland has only 72 votes to England’s 465. This is the point where your Radical Unionist correspondent is himself labouring under a delusion, and if he will spend a session at Westminster and attend the House when Scottish questions are being submitted, he will very soon come to know that Scotland is ruled entirely by England, the same as a German brass band overrules the music coming from a penny whistle. – I am, &c.,  


– Scotsman, Tuesday 6th December, 1887.

Treaty of Union Articles, 1875-1900.


Scottish Home Rule Association,  

79 Princes Street, Edinburgh, December 5, 1894.  

   SIR, – I have read Mr Burnet’s able letter on the above subject with the greatest interest. The attention is again drawn of our too complaisant countrymen to a policy that is steadily being pursued by the legal profession in England – viz., to make the law of Scotland subordinate to that of England. I have been acquainted with a large number of English lawyers for over thirty years, and I cannot call to mind one who did not think it an injustice that there should be any separate code of laws in Scotland at all. The English Judges simply act in accordance with the traditions of their profession.  

   The one error Scottish defendants make over and over again is appearing in an English Court at all. When served with an English writ they should apply to the Court of Session for protection by interdict. The protection of Scotsmen from the interference of the English Courts was secured to us by the 19th article of the Treaty of Union, and in the celebrated Orr-Ewing case this article was admitted to be a portion of international law, and was so upheld by the House of Lords. The Judgment Extension Act referred to cannot supersede the above article in the Treaty of Union, for such is not subject to review by the British Parliament, but is expressly reserved. It is high time this matter was settled once for all, and the only way to put a stop to it is for our Courts to tell the English they may pass any judgments they like, but that they will refuse to enforce them. – I am, &c.  


– The Scotsman, Thursday 6th December, 1894.

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

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