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16th of December

St Ado, archbishop of Vienne, confessor, 875. St Alice or Adelaide, empress of Germany, 99.

Born. – Chrétien Guillaume Lamoignon de Malesherbes, minister and defender of Louis XVI., 1721, Paris; Bernard, Comte de Lacépède, eminent naturalist, 1756, Agen; Carl Maria Von Weber, composer of Der Freischütz, 1786, Eutin, in Holstein
Died. – Abbé Desfontaines, translator of Virgil and Horace, 1745; Thomas Pennant, naturalist, 1798, Downing, Flintshire; Antoine François de Fourcroy, distinguished French chemist, 1809; Wilhelm Grimm, writer of fairy tales, &c., 1859, Berlin.

On this Day in Other Sources.

Dec. 16 [1561]. – William Guild was convicted, notwithstanding his being a minor and of weak mind, of ‘the thieftous stealing and taking forth of the purse of Elizabeth Danielstone, the spouse of Niel Laing, of ane signet of gold, ane other signet of gold set with ane cornelian, ane gold ring set with ane great sapphire, ane other gold ring with ane sapphire formit like ane heart, ane gold ring set with ane turquois, ane small double gold ring set with ane diamond and ane ruby, ane auld angel-noble, and ane cusset ducat.’ – Pit. This account of the contents of Mrs Laing’s purse raises unexpected ideas as to the means and taste of the middle classes in 1561. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.13-29.

On the 16th of December [1568] the Scotish Queen’s commissioners gave in a proposal, that she might be allowed to retire to France, where she might live on her dower: She, and they, were no doubt disappointed, in the manner of her treatment, and in the mode of those proceedings: But, after such a charge against her, it was most injudicious, not to meet it, as soon as might be; and it was still more injudicious, to decline making any answer, after she had agreed to the advocation of this enquiry, without noticing the partiality of the proceedings. 

– Life of Mary, pp.206-234.

Dec. 16 [1613]. – The Privy Council of Scotland had this day under their consideration a subject which must have sent their minds back to the associations of an earlier and more romantic age. That custom among the people of the Scottish Border of going into Cheviot to hunt, which had led to the dismal tragedy narrated in the well-known ballad of Chevy Chase, was, it seems, still kept up. What was once the border of either country being now the middle of both in their so far united condition, the king felt the propriety of putting down a custom so apt to lead to bad blood between his English and Scottish subjects; and accordingly, his Council now ordered that the inhabitants of Roxburgh and Selkirk shires, of Liddesdale and Annandale, should cease their ancient practice of going into Tynedale, Redesdale, the fells of Cheviot and Kidland, for hunting and the cutting of wood, under pain of confiscation of their worldly goods. – P. C. R. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.177-277.

In 1642, on the departure of the Scottish troops to protect the Ulster colonists, and put down the rebellion in Ireland, a line of posts was established between Edinburgh and Port Patrick, where John McCaig, the postmaster, was allowed by the Privy Council to have a “post bark”; and in 1649 the posts were improved by Cromwell, who removed many, if not all the Scottish officials; and in 1654 the postage to England was lowered to 4d.; and to 2d. for a single letter within eighty miles. On the 16th of December, 1661. Charles II. reappointed Robert Muir “sole keeper of the letter-office in Edinburgh,” from which he had been dismissed by Cromwell, and £200 was given him to build a packet-boat for the Irish mail.    

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.353-358.

For a long time there were no pews in the churches in Glasgow, and when seats came to be provided they were free. They were first let in 1667, and one of the bailies and the master of work was appointed “to visit the haill seats and lay on the quantitie of mailles thairon.”1

– Old Glasgow, pp.189-215.

1  Minute of Council, 16th Dec. 1667.

   “This ‘Britain, not England’ petition, as it has been called, has been before the Scottish people individually for eleven months, and has now, we understand, been forwarded to Lord Balfour of Burleigh for presentation to Her Majesty. This effort at assertion of long dormant rights by the Scottish people has called forth the most idiotic and ill-considered vituperation from the pens of the Cockney writers in the London dailies, whose contempt for everything Scotch – except whisky, sport, and scenery – is only equalled by their antipathy to English provincialism. Still, the signing of the monster petition made gradual headway, and from being the butt of many a skit at first, it, as the months wore on, came to be regarded in a more serious light even by scoffers, some of whom, although occupying high places, did not at the last moment disdain to append their signatures. We in Buckie are very intimately acquainted with the many and varied uses of petitions, and the fishy manner in which it is possible to get up a signed petition, but, happily, in organising this Scottish national petition there was no personal element of inducement to sign it for private ends. Genuine as this expression of national opinion undoubtedly is, we do not suppose Her Majesty will take the trouble to verify the 104,647 signatures of Scottish people of all ranks, classes and conditions – in which, by the way, is included the contribution from Buckie – but there can be little doubt that the formidable document, with its marvellous collection of autographs, extending to 1430 yards in length, or more than three quarters of a mile, is hardly likely to be ignored by so august a personage as our beloved Queen, who has shown in many ways that she has a warm heart to dear auld Scotland… The petition is in every sense representative of the Scottish nation, for the signatures have been obtained for it, not only from every part of Scotland, but from Scotsmen in England, Ireland, Canada, United States, Australia, South Africa, India, and elsewhere. Every reform is now carried out by the power of the pen as a constitutional means of expressing national or local sentiment; and if a representative work of such magnitude as this under review does not attain its end, it would be difficult to conceive any other constitutional measure that would compass an end where this failed.”  

– Banffshire Advertiser, Thursday 16th December, 1897. 

Treaty of Union Articles, 1875-1900.







(Published by Request.)



   Do you suppose that, with any amount of Scottish popular representation in our present Imperial Parliament, the political views and wants of the Scottish people will, in the future, be any more regarded than they have been in the past?.. England enjoys Home Rule. If it is the right of England to enjoy Home Rule, it is equally the right of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales to do so likewise. The union of the two crowns of Scotland and England was all right. But the legislative union of the two countries, except for imperial purposes, was all wrong. It is this mischievous legislative union – some effects of which I have indicated – that the Scottish nation wish to have rectified by Home Rule, for without this they never can enjoy what we now know to be the best form of government. Yet none need it so desperately as bruised and bleeding Ireland. God grant that she may have it speedily. But what a farce it is that Scotland, with five sixths of her people and members Liberal or Radical, should be governed by English Tories and Whigs! How much longer is this comedy of errors, this burlesque of fair play, to be tolerated? I have not referred to the inequality of imperial taxation, of which this country has to complain. Scotland is frequently sneered at by the English for her comparative poverty. But, compared with England, Scotland is, year by year, overtaxed to the tune of three shillings and fivepence per head of population; or, in other words, six hundred thousand pounds annually, more than she should be. What aims should Scotsmen have in view in agitating for Home Rule? The following may be mentioned as amongst the principal:-  

   That Scotland may be allowed to manage her own affairs in her own way, on the principle that the people who know their own business best are the best people to manage it. 

   To preserve the national identity and history of Scotland and the individuality and patriotism of her people, and to rescue these from the doom evidently contemplated from an English quarter. Already Englishmen speak of Great Britain as the ‘English island,’ and everything declared in the Treaty of Union to be ‘British,’ such as the army, the navy, &c., they are now steadily appropriating as ‘English.’ Professors Freeman, Seely, and others are the leaders of this most aggressive school of English Philistinism – some ‘Scotch’ cockneys in the press and elsewhere helping them. 

   To effect such changes in the laws relating to land in Scotland as will make the use of that land not the intolerable monopoly of the few, but the common right of all. In speaking at Wednesbury a few days ago, Mr Mundella said – ‘The land laws must also be dealt with in such a manner that we should no longer see the spectacle presented in this country, which was to be witnessed nowhere else in Europe, of the land lying uncultivated for want of labour whilst labour was unemployed for want of land.’ 

   To have such an equitable redistribution of the arable, pasture, and waste lands of Scotland as will enable the greatest possible number of her agricultural and pastoral population to live and thrive on their own native soil. For this end the number of small farms, each sufficient to maintain in comfort an industrious family, must be greatly multiplied.  

   The total abolition of the Game Laws, as being a principal obstacle to this most desirable object; also all exclusive right to salmon, sea trout, and all other kinds of salt and freshwater fishing. 

   To secure the complete restitution of the millions of acres of common land of which the people of Scotland have been wrongfully deprived. 

   To secure to the manufacturing, trading, artizan and labouring classes of Scotland all the benefits accruing from a greatly increased and more prosperous country population. 

   To extend the principles of the Crofters Act, and to have these made applicable to leaseholders in Scotland. 

   To arrange for Scotland such a restoration of her educational system as that she can no longer be dragged down to the level of England in this respect. 

   To give Scotland complete control over her own intoxicating liquor traffic. 

   To secure a more equal incidence of local rates as between small farmers on the one hand and large farmers and landlords on the other. 

   To provide better and more decent accommodation for farm-servants (male and female), a better diet, shorter hours, and more holidays. 

   To make the law in Scotland and its administration, especially in the Highlands, more respectable, and, therefore, more to be respected, than is, unfortunately, the case at present. 

   To expedite and cheapen Scottish Parliamentary business in general, and particularly that embracing private bill legislation in connection with the construction of harbours, railways, and such like. 

   But what avails our appeal for these and other much needed reforms, or against the multitudinous and grave evils from which our country suffers, so long as the Imperial Parliament, as at present constituted, is, and will continue to be, dead against us?  

   We understand the disease. We know the remedy. It is Home Rule. Therefore, let us secure and apply it. (Cheers.)” 

– Northern Ensign and Weekly Gazette, Wednesday 26th January, 1887. 

– Treaty of Union Articles, What Home Rulers Were Demanding.

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