17th of December

St Olympias, widow, about 410. St Begga, widow and abbess, 698.

Born. – Gabrielle Emilie, Marquise du Chastelet, translator of Newton’s Principia, 1706; Ludwig Beethoven, eminent composer, 1770, Bonn
Died. – Simon Bolivar, liberator of South America, 1831, Carthagena; Kaspar Hauser, mysterious foundling, from the stroke of an assassin on the 14th, 1833, Anspach, Bavaria; Maria Louisa, archduchess of Parma (ex-empress of the French), 1847, Parma.

On this Day in Other Sources.

The 17th day of [December, 1332], John Randolph, Earl of Moray, [Sir] Archibald Douglas, brother to noble Sir James, and Simon Fraser, with 1000 men, overthrew Edward Balliol and his whole army, in a battle near the town of Irvine. In it he liberated Alexander Bruce [died at Halidon Hill], Earl of Carrick and Galloway, whom Edward had constrained to follow him at Annan. In this conflict, Edward Balliol himself escaped by flight; yet he left dead on the place 1500 common soldiers, with Sir John Mowbray, Sir Walter [& Thomas] Comyn, and Sir Richard Kirby, knights,.. 

– Historical Works, pp.104-124.

Elphinstone was nominated Bishop of Aberdeen in the autumn of 1483.1 According to his biographer, he went on an embassy to France before that time; for, though he gives no date, he tells us it was to Louis XI., who died in that year, and adds, that his first bishopric was the reward for his service in it. 

– Sketches, pp.254-324.

1   Apparently between 14th October and 20th November. His consecration took place between 17th December 1487 and April 1488.

In the chapel of Stirling castle, was the Prince baptised, on Tuesday, the 17th of December 1566. Every thing was done, at the solemnity, according to the form of the Roman Catholick church. The Prince was held up, at the font, by the Countess of Argyle, under a commission from Elizabeth, as her representative. And the Archbishop of St. Andrews did administer the baptism, with the usual ceremonies of the Roman church. Neither the Earl of Bedford, Elizabeth’s representative, nor any of the Scotish nobility of the new form, entered into the chapel, but stood, without the door. After the rites were all performed, the child’s name, and titles, were thrice proclaimed, by the heralds, under sound of trumpet, Charles James, James Charles. It was the Queen’s pleasure, as we learn, from Le Croc, that he should bear the name of James, as all the good kings of Scotland had the same name, and the name of Charles, being the name of the King of France. Then did the music begin; and after it had continued for some time, the Prince was again conveyed to his apartment. The Countess of Argyle, by thus representing the English Queen, at this ceremony, gave offence to the reformed church, and was obliged to do penance, for her sin. The reformed nobility, by standing, without the door, avoided this scandal. And Bedford, by imitating their example, cannot be said, to have been present at the ceremony, as Elizabeth’s gossip, though he had come so far, for the purpose of ceremony. Thus nearly allied to folly is fanaticism! 

– Life of Mary, pp.136-151.

Dec. 17 [1566]. – The young prince was baptised at Stirling Castle, and named Charles James. The preparations in apparel and decorations were magnificent beyond everything of the kind hitherto known. ‘The said prince was borne out of his chalmer to the chapel by the French ambassador, my Lady of Argyle, cummer for the Queen of England by commission, and Monsieur La Croc for the Duke of Savoy. All the barons and gentlemen bore prickets of wax, wha stood in rank on ilk side, frae the prince’s chalmer door to the said chapel. Next the French ambassador, and great serge of wax by the Earl of Athole, the salt-vat by the Earl of Eglintoun, the cude by the Lord Semple, the basin and laver by the Lord Ross; and at the chapel door, the prince was receivit by my Lord Sanct Androis, with staff, mitre, cross, and the rest. The prince was baptisit in the said font’ [which was ‘twa stane wecht, of fine gold,’ a gift from Queen Elizabeth], ‘and their solemnities endit by near five hours afternoon, with singing and playing on organs.’ – D. O. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.30-34.

On the 17th of December, [1566,] the young prince, [James VI.,] was baptized at Stirling. It was thought strange that Darnley, though living in the castle, was not present at the ceremony, and that Bothwell should be called upon to do the honours of the occasion and direct the ceremonial. Through the influence of Bothwell, Moray, and others, all the murderers of Rizzio were pardoned, except George Douglas and Ker of Faudonside. 

– A History of Scotland, Chapter XIV. 

On the 17th day of December, this year, [1592,] the ministers of Edinburgh raised the people in a tumult against some courtiers, for which the King departed the town to Perth, and there cited the ministers and magistrates of Edinburgh to [appear in court]; but the King’s goodness, and the common purse of Edinburgh, pacified that storm. 

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

The 17th day of December, this year, [1596,] a great tumult was raised in Edinburgh, by the factious ministers and commons, against the Octavians. Some poor courtiers, for effectuating their own ends, stirs up the ministers, whom they had informed that the Octavians had counselled the King to countenance the Popish Lords, and such as were Romishly disposed; then, without more, was the Blue Blanket advanced, and a factious citizen, named Edward Johnstone, becomes leader to the rabble multitude, and [cries], the sword of God and Gideon, against the coutiers, enemies to his truth. This tumult in Edinburgh moved the King to remove thence all the seats of justice, and inhibit the exercise therof in that town, by his proclamation, the 18th of this same month. The King summons the provost and bailies of Edinburgh to take and apprehend their preachers and ministers, and exhibit them to justice, and causes diverse noblemen guard the ports of the city. 


The King’s majesty, by several proclamations,.. , commands the Session to sit at Perth, the first of February, and the provost, bailies, deacons of crafts [in] Edinburgh, to enter their persons in ward in Perth, that same day, there to abide trial for their tumultuous behaviours [on] the 17th of December last; and that any minister that speaks against this King and his privy counsel, be pulled out of the pulpit, and punished; and the heirs that [do] not put this same proclamation in practise against them, to [forfeit] to the King life, lands and goods. 

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

Dec. 17 [1599]. – Till this time, the new year legally held in Scotland was that pitched upon in the sixth century by Dionysius Exiguus when he introduced the Christian era – the 25th of March, or day of the Annunciation. King James, probably looking upon the approaching year 1600 as the beginning of a new century, thought it would be a good occasion for bringing Scotland into a conformity with other countries in respect of New-year’s Day. There was therefore passed this day at Holyrood an act of Privy Council, in which it is set forth that ‘in all other weel-governit commonwealths and countries, the year begins yearly upon the first of January, commonly called New-year’s Day, and that this realm only is different frae all others in the count and reckoning of the years;’ for which reason they ordained that, in all time coming, Scotland shall conform to this usage, and that the next first of January shall be the first day of the year of God 1600.*

– Domestic Annals, pp.124-176.

*  This is why dates between January and March have the year designated as 1546-7, as Robert Chambers himself does throughout this book. George Chalmers does it throughout his ‘Life of Mary, Queen of Scots‘ too. Chambers also writes in his ‘Book of Days’ (1886) for the month of January,
“Although, however, there was a general popular regard to the 1st of January as the beginning of the year, the ancient Jewish year, which opened with the 25th of March, continued long to have a legal position in Christian countries. In England, it was not till 1752 that the 1st of January became the initial day of the legal, as it had long been of the popular year. Before that time, it was customary to set down dates between the 1st of January and the 24th of March inclusive, thus: January 30, 1648-9: meaning, that popularly the year was 1649, but legally 1648. In Scotland, this desirable change was made by a decree of James VI. in privy council, in the year 1600. It was effected in France in 1564; in Holland, Protestant Germany, and Russia, in 1700; and in Sweden in 1753.”

About two miles to the south-west of Edinburgh, on the slope of the Craiglockhart Hill, there is a mansion called Craig House, of the period of James VI., and which in that time belonged to a branch of the old family of Kincaid. On the 17th of December 1600, John Kincaid of Craig House, attended by a party of friends and servants, all ‘bodin in feir of weir, with swords, secrets, and other weapons,’ came to the village of Water of Leith, also closely adjacent to Edinburgh, and there attacked the house of Bailie John Johnston, ‘where Isobel Hutcheon, widow, was in sober, quiet, and peaceable manner for the time, dreading nae evil, harm, injury, or pursuit of ony persons, but to have lived under God’s peace and our sovereign lord’s.’ Kincaid ‘violently and forcibly brak up the doors of the said dwelling-house, entered therein, and pat violent hands on the said Isobel’s person, took her captive, reft, ravished and took her away with him to his place of Craig House; where he deteined her, while [till] his majesty being upon the fields, accompanied with John, Earl of Mar, Sir John Ramsay, and divers others, his hieness’ servants, to follow him, and relieve her furth of his hands. Wha having come to his place of Craig House, and requiring for her relief, he refusit to grant the same, while [till] they menaced to bring his majesty about his said house and raise fire therein; and sae compellit him to relieve her. 

Kincaid underwent trial for this outrage,.. , and his doom was ordered by the king to be a fine of 2500 merks, payable ‘to us and our treasurer’ – ‘as also he sall deliver to us and our treasurer his brown horse.’ – Pit. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.124-176.

2621. Letter from the Earl of Glencairn to Provost Cochrane stating that the Rebels were in full march towards Scotland. Stirling, 17th December, 1745.

– Memorial Catalogue, Gallery 1.

Bailie David Willox

Janefield Cemetery 30

David Willox was born on the 3rd June, 1845, in what was then the rural village of Parkhead, but now included within the boundaries of Glasgow. His father was a handloom weaver. David Willox, went to work in Miller’s print works, Springfield Road, where he received three shillings a week. He later worked as a foreman at Beardmore’s Parkhead Forge, before going on to establish his own chemical works. Mr. Willox enjoyed reading books and was known to borrow books wherever he could get them. He went on to occupy a seat at the Council Board, Mr. Willox sat for the Whitevale or 4th Ward, which included Parkhead. As an author, but still more as a poet, Mr. Willox has attained a considerable literary position. He was the author of Reminiscences Of Parkhead Its People And Pastimes, which provides a valuable insight into the history of Parkhead. David Willox was part of the British bowling team that played against the Ontario Bowling Association in 1905. And was a member of Belvidere Bowling Club. He died on the 17th December 1927 aged 82 years old. 

Glasgow’s Eastern Necropolis, Janefield Cemetery.

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