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15th of December

St Eusebius, bishop of Vercelli, 371.

Born. – Jerome Bonaparte, youngest brother of Napoleon, 1784, Ajaccio.
Died. – Timoleon, liberator of Syracuse, 337 B.C.; Pope John VIII., 82 A.D.; George Adam Struvius, jurist, 1692, Jena; Jean Baptiste Carrier, revolutionary terrorist, guillotined, 1794; David Don, botanist, 1841, London; Leon Faucher, eminent French statesman and publicist, 1854, Marseille.

On this Day in Other Sources.

The noblemen that returned from England, report what had passed between them and King Henry. He calls a parliament at Edinburgh, the 15 day of December, this same year, [1543,] to advise [about] the business; but fearing that Cardinal [Beaton] would oppose the business, him first they imprison in Dalkeith castle, and thereafter confines him to his own castle of St. Andrews. In this parliament was the institution of the College of Justice, and payment of the contribution granted to them, ratified. 

– Historical Works, pp.275-340.

[Moray] ruled with a firm hand. The command of Edinburgh Castle was taken from Balfour, whom he distrusted, and given Kirkaldy of Grange. On the 15th of December a Parliament was held, and the acts passed in 1560 for the abolition of Popery, and the establishment of the Protestant Church, which Queen Mary had always refused to sanction,1 were ratified, and an amnesty for political offences was granted to all who would conform to the new government.  

– A History of Scotland, Chapter XV. 

1  To make her seem super sectarian some historians like to “forget” Mary passed an Act of Toleration, allowing her subjects to worship their god in whatever way they saw fit. Literally a sweeping allowance to worship whatever faith appealed to her subjects;
“The same Queen, who is charged, by Robertson, with attempting to suppress the reformed discipline, with the aid of the bishops, passed a law; renouncing all foreign jurisdiction, in ecclesiastical affairs; giving toleration to all her subjects to worship God, in their own way; and engaging to give some additional privileges: By the first clause, the papal jurisdiction was renounced, by the second, a toleration was established; and by the third, some other points were promised, which might have led to a liturgy, which was the only thing wanting, to form a complete reformation, in a parliamentary mode. Yet, are there writers, so besotted with prejudice, as to say, that nothing was done, in the Parliament of April 1567, concerning religion.” – From Darnley’s Murder to the Queen’s Dethronement.
Nothing said over how restrictive, prejudicial and sectarian the laws abolishing Catholicism were to the percentage of the population who still practised the faith of their ancestors.

It was easy to send the Lord James as lieutenant to the borders; it was still more easy, to recal letters of marque, which had induced piracies, and created complaints: but it was impossible to preserve any amicable relation with foreign states, while the secretary of state betrayed the Queen: or, to preserve domestic quiet, while the preachers invited the people to revolt. 

To prevent some of those inconveniences, a convention, instead of a parliament, was called, on the 15th of December 1561. Yet, it acted with the same confidence, as if it had been a constitutional legislature. 

– Life of Mary, pp.42-61.

Such was the violence of Murray’s government, as regent; evincing, that usurpation ends, generally, in tyranny. The Regent’s expedition to the southern borders, where he was attended, by Morton, is a proof of this: On pretence of punishing the border thieves, they made an expedition to the south, in order to chastise several respectable gentlemen, who were not favourable, either to the late usurpation, or to the viceregal government. There were large districts, and some towns, who were extremely dissatisfied with this guilty revolution, and the corrupt result: Dumfries would not suffer the herald to proclaim the regent within its limits. There was, during the autumn of 1567, a considerable ferment within the realm; owing to the narrow ground, on which had been founded the late revolution. Murray endeavoured, with some success, to mollify the Hamiltons, and their connexions, against the meeting of parliament, on the 15th of December 1567. Neither Elizabeth, nor the French, were better satisfied with Murray, and his faction, who knew, however, that Cecil would protect them from the English, and they feared not the French. 


The great object, which induced the calling of the parliament, on the 15th of December 1567, was to legalize the revolution, which had placed the Queen in prison, and her son upon her throne. The regent, and his followers, did not, as we have seen, feel quite easy, either at home or abroad. And measures were taken, by the ruling powers, to bring as great a number of partizans, into parliament, as possible. 


The parliament of December 1567, which attainted Bothwell of the murder of her husband, declared him guilty of treason, on three heads; (1) that he had arrested the Queen’s person on the road; (2) that he had carried her, forcibly, to his castle of Dunbar; and (3) that he had coerced her to agree to marry him; and on those three grounds the Parliament forfeited Bothwell: But, the Parliament, incidentally, freed the Queen of any guilt; because she could not be guilty, if those three facts were true. Such, then, were the two justifications, which Murray and his faction set up, for themselves; supposititious letters, which they did not produce, and a marriage, which they themselves enabled Bothwell to effect, by coercion, rather than consent: Yet, such justification did they resolve to brush through the subsequent Parliament; trusting that there would be no objections; and that their assertions would be received, as gospel. 

Buchanan supposed, with the most egregious blunder, that the Parliament met on the 25th of August, instead of the 15th of December; and insisted, that this assembly was so numerous, that no one could remember such a concourse. Keith charges this writer with two wretched defects, inaccuracy, and infidelity, which are the more reprehensible, says he, as this historian was then at Edinburgh: But, Keith did not advert, with sufficient precision, that Buchanan wrote falsehood, deliberately, for the purpose of deception. The question between them, as to the members, in the Parliament, of April, and of December 1567, may be settled, in the following manner, from the Parliamentary record: The Parliament of April had the greatest number of nobles, and other respectable men: The Parliament of December had the greatest number of representatives, from towns, who had been studiously summoned, as ignorant zealots, who were most capable of any impressions, whatever diligence may have been used, by the Regent, to bring voters into his first Parliament. Yet, was it supported, by armed men. 

– Life of Mary, pp.184-206.

The 15th of December, this year, [1567,] to which day the Regent calls a parliament of the estates of the kingdom to [be held] at Edinburgh; at which [Archibald Campbell] the Earl of Argyll did bear a sword, [George Gordon] Huntly the sceptre, and [Archibald Douglas] Angus (a youth about the age of 14 years) the crown. At this parliament, that long lasting debate [between] the towns of Perth and Dundee [about] the 2nd place of precidency among the burghs, did begin. In this parliament, likewise, was the Earl of Moray’s regency ratified; and James Hepburn, Duke of Orkney, Marquis of Fife, Earl Bothwell and Lord Hailes, with [John Cockburn] the Laird of Ormiston, and diverse others of the King’s murderers, were all [forfeited]

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

Dec. 15 [1567]. – An act of parliament was passed to prevent horses being exported, it being found that so many had lately been taken to Bordeaux and other places abroad, as to cause ‘great skaith’ by the raising of prices at home. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.35-44.

The which day Master Robert Crichton, advocate to our sovereign lord, presented of new this instant day a summons of treason, given under the testimonial of the great seal, duly executed and endorsed, of the which the tenor follows: 

James, by the grace of God, king of Scots, sends greeting to our beloved lyon king of arms, Islay, Albany, Ross, Rothesay, Snowdon, Marchmont, heralds, Thomas Crichton, William Bryson, William Purves, Hector Troop, key-keepers, Ormond, Bute, Unicorn, Carrick, pursuivants, William Barrie, Gavin Ramsay, Thomas Barrie, George Dickson, messengers, and each of them, our sheriffs in that part. We instruct and command that you summon lawfully before witnesses James [Hepburn], earl of Bothwell, James Ormiston of that Ilk, Robert, alias Hob Ormiston, his father, [John Hay, younger, of Tallo, John Hepburn, called of Bolton, Sir Patrick Hepburn of Whitecastle, Patrick Whitelaw of that Ilk], Patrick Wilson, brother of Adam Wilson, burgess of Haddington, [Adam Murray], William Murray, brothers, Andrew Kerr [younger, of Greenhead, Walter Kerr, Robert Kerr, his brother, John Turnbull of Gaithouscot], Simon Armstrong, called Wanton Sim, Paris, the Frenchman, [Sir James Cockburn of Skirling, Sir Alexander Hepburn of Whitsome, Master George Halkett, John Cockburn, parson of Dolphinton, brother of the said James Cockburn of Skirling, Master Donald Fraser, archdeacon of Ross, Alexander Haitlie, natural son of John Haitlie of Mellerstain, John Haitlie, lawful son of the said laird of Mellerstain, William Edmonston, son of the parson of Fawlie, Hugh Cockburn, brother of the laird of Skirling, George Brown of Coilston, […] Wauchope, laird of Niddrie, John Somerville, brother of the laird of Somerville, Alexander Cunningham, brother of the laird of Glengarnock, Patrick Hepburn of Fortoun, George Carkettle, son of John Carkettle of Markle, Robert Hepburn, John Hepburn, sons of the laird of Waughton, Henry Spence, brother of the laird of Wormiston, Walter Ogilvie, brother of the laird of Clova, […] Muir of Caldwell, younger, Walter Kerr of Dolphinton, John Hepburn, son of the late parson of Dalry, Andrew Kerr of Hirsell, William Ormiston, called ‘with the head’, Robert Hume of Heuch, Ferdinand Hume of Broomhouse, Henry Haitlie, younger, of Mellerstain, Patrick [Hepburn], bishop of Moray, Adam Hepburn of Ballinhard, his son, George Hepburn, parson of Dalry, also his son, Patrick Hepburn, parson of Kinnoir, also his son, James Innes of Drany, […] Kinnaird of Culbin, Sir Nicholas Tulloch, vicar of Ruthven, Michael Tulloch, his brother, Master Magnus Halcro of Burgh, Master William Moodie, John Mowat of […], Thomas Tulloch of Fluris, Robert Sinclair, son of the late Edward Sinclair of Fluris, Patrick Hepburn of Waughton, Patrick Hepburn, his son and heir apparent, Adam Hepburn of Smeaton, William Hepburn of Gilmerton, William Newton of that Ilk, John Newton, his son and heir apparent, Master Thomas Hepburn, parson of Oldhamstocks], personally if you can conveniently have their presence in person and otherwise at their places of habitation or by publication at the market crosses of our burghs of Edinburgh, Haddington, Jedburgh, Peebles, Duns, Lauder, Fife, Perth, Elgin, Forres and Inverness and other necessary places, if they live or stay outwith our realm or have no fixed abode therein at the said market crosses on notice of 60 days, in such a way that this kind of summons could reach their ears and notice, that they compear before us or our beloved kinsman James, earl of Moray, lord Abernethy etc., regent of our realm, or our justice, on 19 December next to come, in our next parliament beginning in Edinburgh on Monday 15th of the foresaid month of December, at the hour of causes, with continuation of days, to respond to us and our said kinsman the regent of our realm or our justice in our foresaid parliament, for their treasonable conspiracy, oathtaking, plotting, treating and execution in regard to the unspeakable and detestable murder and parricide of our late dearest father Henry [Stewart, lord Darnley], most noble king of Scots and lawful spouse of our dearest mother Mary, queen of Scots, in the months of January and February just past, and also for their treasonable and unspeakable killing of him with their servants William Taylor and Andrew MacKeg in the silence of night in their dwelling at the church of St-Mary-in-the-Field [Kirk o’ Field] near our burgh of Edinburgh on 10 February at about 2 o’clock in the morning, and also for their treasonable interception of the most noble person of our dearest mother Mary, queen of Scots on her way between Linlithgow and the town of Edinburgh beside the bridges called ‘Foull Briggs’, approaching her with 1,000 armed horsemen kitted out for war, in May 1567, and for their treasonable and violent imprisonment of the most noble person of our dearest mother in our castle of Dunbar and their detention of her in the said castle for a period of 12 days, thus committing the unspeakable crime of kidnap on her noble person; also for art and part, and the plotting, favour and assistance offered and demonstrated by them and any of them to the said treasonable conspirators in their foresaid unspeakable and treasonable deeds, and for their concealing and hiding of the same, and their communicating, welcoming, protection and favour offered and demonstrated to them in the foresaid treasonable conspiracies and crimes, after the unspeakable perpetration of the said treasonable crimes, and after they were denounced rebels at the horn and fugitives from the law for those reasons, and especially in our burghs and places of Elgin, Forres, Spynie and various other places in Moray, Orkney and other parts of our realm, and for the said James, earl of Bothwell’s presence and that of other persons in the castle and fortress of Dunbar, and their treasonable support, fortifying and keeping of the said castle with mercenaries, guns, gunpowder and other armaments and materials against us, our royal authority and the regent of our realm in the months of July, August and September just past, notwithstanding that the foresaid persons had been requested on the strength of our letters to hand over the said castle to us and to others in our name, and rejecting our instructions and requirements they treasonably refused to hand over the said castle to us, and to our regent in our name, but treasonably continued to keep it, as they do at present. Seeing that after the foresaid murder, treason and parricide perpetrated and committed by them as has been said, in the said month of February, when our said dearest father had gone to sleep in the silence of night, the said James, earl of Bothwell, not ignorant that he was the principal conspirator, planner and doer of the foresaid abominable parricide, sought out all means and colours with which he could cover and hide his nefarious deed in his eagerness not to let the deed come to light according to the laws and customs of our realm. Dishonestly by effort and solicitation on 28 March just past he saw to it that letters were instructed at the instance of our advocates and on 29 March brought it about that our dearest grandfather Matthew [Stewart], earl of Lennox, lord Darnley, and all others of our lieges having or claiming to have interest, were to compear at the market cross and various other places on 12 April for a prosecution in the presence of our justice and our advocates, to assist in the prosecution of the foresaid case, with ratification that if they did not then our justice and his deputes would proceed in the administration of justice in the said case in accordance with the laws and custom of the realm. These summonses were neither just nor lawful, not only against the laws and daily practice of our realm, but also with 15 days between the date of execution of the said letters and the said 12 April it is very clear that there were scarcely ten or twelve days to use for inspection of the same. None the less the said James, earl of Bothwell – not lawfully summoned nor put under caution to submit to the law for the said treasonable and abominable murder and parricide, but by his methods and efforts – on the twelfth day brought it about that he was subjected to factfinding, assize and examination by his friends’ questioning and attention, while our dearest grandfather and others having interest did not have the legal notice or enough time, or the postponements required by law and the custom of our realm, to gather their friends and discuss the indictment and consider as is usual and customary other indications from similar cases, to prepare for an enquiry or assize involving people who were not suspects. Also, our foresaid dearest grandfather in such a short space of time was not able to gather his friends and discuss things with them, in such a serious case, and without them he was unable, and did not dare, to compear for the prosecution of the foresaid treasonable and abominable parricide while the said James, earl of Bothwell was there, with his friends and retinue who accompanied him and took part in the said crime, who had met him in large numbers in the said burgh of Edinburgh on the said day to that effect, ready armed. And so our dearest grandfather instructed Robert Cunningham, armed with a sufficient mandate, to excuse in the presence of our justice, on the said day and in the said place, the absence of his master on account of lack of time in the foresaid summons, declaring that he could not in such a short time gather his friends and retinue for his honour and the preservation of life, in consideration of such a powerful opponent who was surrounded by such a large number of retinue and friends. So he asked for an appropriate day to be assigned for him for the prosecution of the said case, as the magnitude and gravity of the case demanded. By the manoeuvres, efforts and lobbying of the said James, earl of Bothwell, this was denied, and none the less the said justice subjected the foresaid case to factgathering, enquiry or assize with no one present for the prosecution of the indictment as normal or even sworn in. And thus, under cover of a pretence of purgation of the said earl James of the said unspeakable and treasonable parricide, against the laws, equity and daily practice of this realm, he appeared to avoid the punishment due for such a horrible and unspeakable crime, although the truth of the matter is most clearly that the said James, earl of Bothwell and his accomplices took part and assisted in the perpetration and commission of the foresaid treasonable and nefarious murder and parricide at the time and in the place specified above, and treasonably committed a conflagration at the same time and in the said place with a great quantity of gunpowder, by the force of which the entire hospice was lifted into the air at the foresaid time, and this not without great scandal to our realm and all inhabitants thereof. Further, the foresaid James, earl of Bothwell, immediately after the foresaid treasonable and nefarious parricide perpetrated by him as has been said, knowingly and willingly hid and concealed it, and welcomed, protected and kept with him the late William Blackadder, John Hepburn, called of Bolton, John Hay, younger, of Tallo, Paris […], .the Frenchman, Patrick Wilson, James Ormiston of that Ilk, Robert Ormiston, his uncle, and others who were executors and perpetrators of the said cruel, treasonable and abominable murder, parricide and fire, and paid them, allocated pay to them for the perpetration of such a nefarious and treasonable parricide, knowing them to be perpetrators of the said nefarious crime, and knowingly and willingly after its commission continuously welcomed at least the majority of them into his household, guarded and kept them, assisting them in their treasonable, nefarious and abominable crimes, chiefly in the parricide committed on the most noble person of our said late and dearest father, and the hiding and concealment of the same, and above all on the said 12 April after as has been said, in his own way and contrary to the rule of law, the said James, earl of Bothwell was cleared and acquitted of the treasonable murder and parricide of our late dearest father, by a letter of his own called a cartella signed by himself and judicially delivered, he pitted himself against a noble gentleman who had in no way been defamed who had dared to assert that he [Bothwell] was guilty of the abominable crime and was duelling with him, and according to the law. This notwithstanding, the same James, earl of Bothwell refused on 15 June to take issue with the noble baron and lord of our parliament on this appeal, drawing down on himself the charge of defeat by ordeal. The foresaid James, earl of Bothwell and the foresaid persons plotted, treated, enquired and deliberated in their perpetration of these horrible, treasonable and nefarious crimes, and offered and demonstrated advice, help and assistance to the perpetrators and conspirators, so that he might more easily succeed in his nefarious, abominable and impious plot. To that effect, on 24 April past, with a large number of armed men, namely 1,000 armoured horsemen and others drawn up in hostile array, he set an ambush on the route of our dearest mother then queen of Scots while she was travelling from Linlithgow to our town of Edinburgh, suspecting that no harm would come to her from any of her subjects, least of all from the said earl of Bothwell since she had exhibited such offices of liberality and benevolence towards him as any prince could show and exhibit to a subject. With force and violence he treasonably apprehended her most noble person, cast violent hands on her, not allowing her to make her way peacefully to the town of Edinburgh, but committed the treasonable crime of kidnap upon her most noble person by apprehending our said dearest mother on the public highway, and taking her that night to the castle of Dunbar (which was then in his power), led her there and imprisoned and held her captive there for a period of 12 days or thereabouts. By force and violence, and under compulsion of the fear which can happen to the most constant of women, he forced her into a marriage contract with him as fast as he could. All of these things were thought through, discussed and deliberated by the said earl and the foresaid persons long before the time of the foresaid conspiracy and abominable parricide, notwithstanding that at that time the same James, earl of Bothwell had the honest lady Janet Gordon joined with him in lawful wedlock, and not divorced, and with no legal process planned or begun. Continuing and persevering in his nefarious and treasonable crimes and plans, he kept and detained the most noble person of our said dearest mother in close custody and under guard by force and violence with a band of his armed friends and retinue until 6 May last, when, accompanied by a large number of armed men, he took her to Edinburgh Castle (which was at the time in his power) and imprisoned her there. He forced her to remain there until the 11th of the same month, when, accompanied by a large number of armed men as has been said, he took her to our palace of Holyroodhouse, the better to provide cover for his treasonable and nefarious deeds and plans. Within four days he forced her to marry him, and thus under cover of a pretended deed and a mock wedding he used her most noble person and the governance of our realm in accordance with his abominable and detestable appetite. [Besides, the said James, earl of Bothwell, as one who considered nothing out of bounds, along with the foresaid persons, and so that he could use and enjoy the governance of this realm and the most noble person of our said dearest mother, in the said month of April, took prisoner and imprisoned in the said castle of Dunbar for 10 days or so our beloved councillors George [Huntly], earl of Huntly, our chancellor, William Maitland of Lethington, younger, secretary of our privy council and session, lords, when he said he wanted a discussion with them, and they had no suspicion. He forced them to agree, or at least to say that they agreed, to support all his treasonable and nefarious deeds, especially the sham marriage of him and our said dearest mother. Thereby he most manifestly incurred the charge of lese-majesty, taking to himself the royal authority when our councillors had not been called together or arrested for any crime, and having no commission to do so]. And for many other crimes and treasonable transgressions perpetrated treasonably and unlawfully by the forenamed persons and any of them against us, our regent and our realm on the same day and in the same place they are to present and show themselves. And in this regard they are to await and subject themselves to our justice and that of our parliament according to the laws of our realm, namely the said persons, for seeing that they and any of them have on the basis of the foregoing incurred the crime of lese-majesty as it is decreed and declared by us and by the decreet of the three estates of our realm, and therefore their goods, both immovable and movable, lands and offices and everything else relating to them are forfeit to us and remain with us in perpetuity as our property, and their persons suffer the penalty of treason and of the ultimate punishment inflicted by the laws of our realm. Further, it is necessary for them to answer in respect of the foregoing and submit to the law. It is intimated to the forementioned persons and to any of them that whether they has compeared on the said day and in the said place, with continuation of days, or not, nevertheless our said regent and justice shall proceed in regard to the foregoing, in line with justice. Also, you shall hand over the present letter, duly executed and endorsed, to their bearer. Also you who have had executed these writs in person are to be on the said day in the said place, in the presence of ourselves or our said regent and justice, bearing with you written proof of your summons in relation to the foregoing, or witnesses themselves. To carry this out, we give full authority to you, and to whomsoever of you, our sheriffs in this regard, jointly and separately. Given under testimony of our great seal, at Edinburgh on 1 October in the year of the Lord 1567, and in the first year of our reign. [James VI: 1567, 15 December, Edinburgh, Parliament.] 

London Quarterly Review.

In a house which had its entrance from the east side of the wynd, but the windows of which opened to the Canongate, there long resided two maiden ladies of the now extinct house of Traquair – the Ladies Barbara and Margaret Stuart – twin sisters, the children of Charles fourth Earl of Traquair (who died in 1741), and his Countess, Mary Maxwell, of the noble house of Nithsdale. The last of these two, Lady Barbara, died on the 15th of December, 1794, and they were among some of the last of note who lingered in the Old Town. “They drew out their innocent lives in this place,” says Robert Chambers, “where latterly one of their favourite amusements was to make dolls, and little beds for them to lie on – a practice not quite uncommon in days long gone by, being to some degree followed by Queen Mary.”  

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.297-300.

According to a privately-printed memoir of Mr. Charles Maclaren, who for thirty years (1817-47) was editor of the Scotsman, it was in the year 1816 that the idea of starting an independent newspaper in Edinburgh originated. The political influences which overspread Scotland after the close of the long war had permeated society, and the ruling powers carried their repressive effects into every sphere of action. Hence the local press was very abject, without courage enough to expose any abuse, however flagrant, if in doing so there was any risk of giving offence in high quarters; and the time had come when a free organ was necessary for Scotland. It was calculated that if only 300 subscribers were obtained the project would have a chance of success, and Mr. Maclaren, with Mr. William Ritchie, were to be joint editors. The leading article of the first number appeared on the 25th of January, 1817, and was from the pen of Charles Maclaren, who, during Mr. Ritchie’s absence on the continent, found a valuable coadjutor in Mr. John Ramsay McCulloch, afterwards the eminent statist and economist, who temporarily assumed the office of responsible editor of the infant journal. Mr. Maclaren having become a clerk in the Custom-house, it was deemed unwise that he should be known as the editor of an opposition journal. 

At this time the paper consisted of eight pages, less than half the size of the present page, and the price was 10d. – 6d. for the paper and 4d. of stamp duty. From the latest news columns of the number for 25th of January, some idea, says Mr. Bremner, of the time occupied in the transmission of intelligence in 1817 may be gleaned; the latest from London was the 22nd; from Paris, January 15th; and from New York, December 15th. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.282-290.

Midway up South Gray’s Close, a tall turreted mansion, with a tolerably good garden long attached to it, and having an entrance from Hyndford’s Close, was the town residence of the Earls of Selkirk – there, at least in 1742, resided Dunbar, fourth Earl (eldest son of Basil Hamilton, of Baldoon), who resumed the name of Douglas on his succeeding to the honours of Selkirk. He married a grand-daughter of Thomas, Earl of Haddington, and had ten children, one of whom, Lord Daer, on attaining manhood, became, at the commencement of the French Revolution, an adherent of that movement and a “Friend of the People;” and deeming the article of the Union with England, on which was founded the exclusion of the eldest sons of Scottish peers from representing their native country in Parliament, and from voting at elections there, injurious, insulting, and incorrectly interpreted, he determined to try the question; but decisions were given against him in the Court of Session and House of Lords. He pre-deceased his father, who died in 1799. 

The next occupant of that old house was Dr. Daniel Rutherford, professor of botany, and said to be the first discoverer or inventor of gas. For his thesis, on taking his degree of M.D. at the University of Edinburgh in 1772, he chose a chemical subject, De Aëre Mephitico, which, from the originality of its views, obtained the highest encomiums from Dr. Black. In this dissertation he demonstrated, though without explaining its properties, “the existence of a peculiar air, or new gaseous fluid, to which some eminent modern philosophers have given the name of azote, and others of nitrogen.” 

That Dr. Rutherford first discovered this gas is now generally admitted; and, as Bower remarks in his “History of the University of Edinburgh,” the reputation of his discovery being speedily spread through Europe, his character as a chemist of the first eminence was firmly established. He died suddenly on the 15th of December, 1819, in his seventy-first year, and it was somewhat remarkable that one of his sisters died two days after him, on the 17th, and another, the excellent mother of Sir Walter Scott, within seven days of the latter, viz., on the 24th of the same month, and that none of the three knew of the death of the other, so cumbrous were the postal arrangements of those days. “Sir Walter Scott, who,” says Robert Chambers, “being a nephew of that gentleman, was often in the house in his young days, communicated to me a curious circumstance connected with it. It appears that the house immediately adjacent was not furnished with a stair wide enough to allow of a coffin being carried down in decent fashion. It had, therefore, what the Scottish law calls a servitude upon Dr. Rutherford’s house, conferring the perpetual liberty of bringing the deceased inmates through a passage into that house, and down its stair into the lane,” thus affording another curious example of how confined and narrow were the abodes of the ancient citizens. It was latterly the priest’s house of St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic church, and was beautifully restored by the late Dr. Marshall, but is now demolished.   

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.266-274.

The extremely ornamental monument to the right is dedicated to: 



15TH DEC. 1851 

Aged 55 Years. 

Fallen is the curtain – the last scene is o’er: 

The favourite actor treads life’s stage no more. 

Oft lavish plaudits from the crowd he drew, 

And laughing eyes confess’d his humour true. 

Here fond affection rears this sculpted stone 

For virtues not enacted but his own – 

A constancy unshaken unto death. 

A truth unswerving and a christian’s faith. 

Who knew him best have cause to mourn him most: 

Oh weep the man more than the actor lost. 

Unnumber’d parts he play’d yet to the end, 

His best were those of Husband, Father, Friend. 

Glasgow Cathedral and City Necropolis.


   In the Waterloo Rooms, Glasgow, last night, the Rev. David Macrae, Dundee, delivered an address under the auspices of the Glasgow Junior Liberal Association, his subject being ‘Home Rule and Scottish Rights.’ There was a large attendance. Mr William Jacks, ex-M.P. for Leith, occupied the chair. The Chairman said he believed that a measure of Home Rule for Scotland could be brought forward, which would be not only practicable, but consistent with retaining our full representation in the Imperial House of Parliament, and consistent also with making the voice of Scotland, as of yore, powerful in influencing the destinies of the Empire. (Applause.)  

   The Rev. Mr Macrae said there were some people who thought ministers should not interfere in politics. They were to be quite free to deal with sinners of Bible times, but not with those in the present day. They must not say a word about those who turned pasture land into wilderness for sport, and drove the landless people into acts of violence to keep themselves, their wives, and their little ones from starvation. If that was their religion, they needed another; if that was Christianity, they needed to have Christianity born again into the spirit of Christ. (Applause.) These were times, it seemed to him, when every man, whether minister or beadle, needed to be a politician. Perhaps no nation of its size had more reason to be proud of its nationality than Scotland had. (Applause.) After emphatically protesting against the use in State of documents, school books, and public speeches, of the words England and English, where Britain and British should be used, as stipulated in the Treaty of Union, Mr Macrae said the maintenance of the Imperial names was indispensable to the maintenance of national honour and national rights. He strongly advocated Home Rule for Scotland. If Scotland had been managing her own affairs we should not have seen half of the Highlands turned into deer forests. We should not have seen three hundred square miles of country locked up for one man’s sport, while the hardy population were forced to the verge of starvation, or driven out of the country, because, forsooth, there was no room for them there. If Scotland had been managing her own affairs, there never would have been a crofter and cottar question such as they had before them at present, or the question, had it arisen, would have been settled long since with regard more to justice and humanity than they were likely to see in its settlement under existing circumstances. (Applause.) Referring to Ireland, he pointed out the injustices to which that country had been subjected by the British Government in the past, and expressed the hope that Home Rule would ere long be established in that country. (Applause.)  

   Resolutions were passed expressing the opinion that a Legislature should be established, sitting in Scotland, with full control over all purely Scotch questions, and with an Executive Government responsible to it and the Crown; resenting as a direct violation of the Treaty of Union and an outrage on Scottish national sentiment the growing practice of using the terms England and English instead of Britain and British; and appealing to all who desire to foster the principle of British unity and brotherhood to make an immediate and resolute stand against this mischievous attempt to Anglicise the United Kingdom, and treat the other nationalities as mere provinces or dependencies of England.”  

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Thursday 15th December, 1887.

– Treaty of Union Articles, Collection of The Rev. David Macrae.

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