12th of December

Saints Epimachus, Alexander, and others, martyrs, 250. St Corentin, bishop and confessor, 5th century. St Columba, abbot in Ireland, 548. St Finian, or Finan, confessor, bishop of Clonard, in Ireland, 6th century. St Cormac, abbot in Ireland. St Valery, abbot, 622. St Colman, abbot in Ireland, 659.

Born. – Nicholas Sanson, geographer, 1599, Abbeville; Archduchess Maria Louisa, second wife of Napoleon, 1791.
Died. – Darius Nothus, of Persia, 405 B.C.

On this Day in Other Sources.

The abbey of Lincluden is said to have been founded by Uchtred, son of Fergus, lord of Galloway, about the year 1164, for a sisterhood of Benedictine nuns.1 Of this early structure only a few stones remain, half buried in the grass, in the north aisle of the nave. On the abbey coming into the possession of Archibald (the Grim), third earl of Douglas, and lord of Galloway, towards the end of the fourteenth century, he transformed it into a collegiate church for twelve canons,2 Elias being the first provost.3 Douglas died on the 12th December, 1400, and was buried in the church erected by him at Bothwell.4

– Scots Lore, pp.307-316.

1  McDowall, Chronicles of Lincluden, p. 17.
2  Ibid. p. 51. McDowall appears to have no historical basis for his theory that Douglas wrongfully seized the abbey and lands.
3  Ibid. p. 54. The provost is referred to in a document dated 13th June, 1404.
4  Fraser’s Book of Douglas, vol. i. p. 498. It has passed into a commonplace that Bothwell Church was founded on the 10th October, 1398 (Book of Douglas, vol. i. p. 350). It may have been dedicated on that day. The sculptured stone which lies on the floor of this church has been strangely overlooked. It is the grave-slab of Moray, the builder of Bothwell Castle, and the founder evidently of an earlier church than that erected by Douglas.

Morton being out of power and in danger of his life, Auchinleck no longer had influence at council or in court. He, moreover, stood in no small personal danger from his many enemies. As he was walking on the High Street of Edinburgh (Dec. 12 [1580]), he was beset at a passage near St Giles’s Church by William Bickerton of Casch and four other gentlemen, who assailed him with bended pistols, by one of which he was shot through the body, after which he was left for dead. This was thought to be done in revenge for an attack by him upon Archibald, the brother of William Bickerton. The assailants were all found guilty of the slaughterous attempt, but without the aggravation of its being done within three-quarters of a mile of the king’s person, seeing that ‘the king’s majesty was furth at the hunting, the time of the committing thereof.’ – Pit. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.81-98.

This fall in the rent [in 1646] was doubtless occasioned by the existence in the town of the plague which, according to the representations by the whole tacksmen of the mills, ladles, tron, and bridge on 12th December, had deprived them of their duties…1

– Scots Lore, pp.15-29.   

1 Council Records, ii. 108. The visitation of the pest at this time happened after the taking of Newcastle by the Scottish Army in October, 1644, and rapidly spread with deadly results over the country during the following year. It had reached Glasgow before November, and on the 5th of that month quartermasters were appointed, and the infected were either shut up in their houses or sent out to the muir at some distance from the town. It seems not to have entirely disappeared till October, 1647.

[Cromwell] threw up batteries at Heriot’s Hospital, which was full of his wounded; on the north bank of the loch, and the stone bartisan of Davidson’s house on the Castle Hill. He hanged in view of the Castle, a poor old gardener who had supplied Dundas with some information; and during these operations, Nicoll, the diarist, records that there were many slain, “both be schot of canoun and musket, as weell Scottis as Inglische.” Though the garrison received a good supply of provisions, by the bravery of Captain Augustine, a German soldier of fortune who served in the Scottish army, and who hewed a passage into the fortress through Cromwell’s guards, at the head of 120 horse, Dundas, when tampered with, was cold in his defence. Cromwell pressed the siege with vigour. He mustered colliers from the adjacent country, and forced them, under fire, to work at a mine on the south side, near the new Castle road, where it can still be seen in the freestone rock. Dundas, a traitor from the first, now lost all heart, and came to terms with Cromwell, to whom he capitulated on the 12th of December, 1650.1

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.47-66.

1  The articles of the treaty and the list of the captured guns are given at length in Balfour’s “Annals.”

In 1681 the Earl of Argyle was committed to the Castle for the third time for declining the oath required by the obnoxious Test Act as Commissioner of the Scottish Treasury; and on the 12th of December an assize brought in their verdict, by the Marquis of Montrose, his hereditary foe, finding him guilty “of treason and leasing telling,” for which he received the sentence of death. His guards in the Castle were doubled, while additional troops were marched into the city to enforce order. He despatched a messenger to Charles II. seeking mercy, but the warrant had been hastened. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.47-66.

The other venerable alley referred to, Beith’s Wynd, when greatly dilapidated by time, was nearly destroyed by two fires, which occurred in 1786 and 1788. The former, on the 12th December, broke out near Henderson’s stairs, and raged with great violence for many hours, but by the assistance of the Town Guard and others it was suppressed, yet not before many families were burnt out. The Parliament House and the Advocates’ Library were both in imminent peril, and the danger appeared so great, that the Court of Session did not sit that day, and preparations were made for the speedy removal of all records. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.118-123.

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