18th of December

Saints Rufus and Zozimus, martyrs, 116. St Gatian, first bishop of Tours, confessor, about 300.

Born. – Prince Rupert, military commander, 1619, Prague
Died. – Robert Nanteuil, celebrated engraver, 1678, Paris; Veit Ludwig von Seekendorf, political and theological writer, 1692, Halle; Pierre Louis de Préville, celebrated French comedian, 1799; Johann Gottfried Von Herder, German theologian and philosopher, 1803; Dr Alexander Adam, eminent classic scholar and teacher, 1809, Edinburgh; General Lord Lynedoch, 1843, London.


A… tale is told of Daniel Burgess, the celebrated Nonconformist divine, at the beginning of the last [18th] century. Famous for the length of his pulpit harangues, and the quaintness of his illustrations, he was at one time declaiming with great vehemence against the sin of drunkenness, and in his ardour had fairly allowed the hour-glass to run out before bringing his discourse to a conclusion. Unable to arrest himself in the midst of his eloquence, he reversed the monitory horologe, and exclaimed, ‘Brethren, I have somewhat more to say on the nature and consequences of drunkenness, so let’s have the other glass – and then!‘ – the usual phrase adopted by topers at protracted sittings. 

Mr James Maidment, in his Third Book of Scottish Pasquils, has givena somewhat similar anecdote. ‘A humorous story,’ he observes, ‘has been preserved of one of the Earls of Airly, who entertained at his table a clergyman, who was to preach before the Commissioner next day. The glass circulated, perhaps, too freely; and whenever the divine attempted to rise, his lordship prevented him, saying: “Another glass – and then!” After conquering his lordship, his guest went home. The next day the latter selected as his text, “The wicked shall be punished and right airly!” Inspired by the subject, he was by no means sparing of his oratory, and the hour-glass was disregarded, although he was repeatedly warned by the precentor, who, in common with Lord Airly, thought the discourse rather lengthy. The latter soon knew why he was thus punished, by the reverend gentleman (when reminded) always exclaiming, not sotto voce, “Another glass – and then!” ’

On this Day in Other Sources.

These bells were not used exclusively at the altar services. They were also rung through the streets by the friars for the repose of the souls of the departed, especially of those who had been benefactors to the church; and we know that to this use Saint Mungo’s bell – as it was familiarly called – was put in Glasgow. There is preserved an indenture executed at Glasgow “the xviij day of the moneth of December in the yher of our Lord a thousand four hundreth fyftie and four yheris,” between “ane honorabyll man Johne Steuart the first provost that was in the citie of Glasgu on the ta part, and discreyt religious men frieris of Glasgu, and the covent of the samyn, on the tother part,” by which, in consideration of certain lands and tenements conveyed by Provost Steuart, “the saydis priour, covent, and their successouris” undertake to say certain masses at St. Katherine’s altar in the Cathedral for the soul of the donor, “and alsua, on the day of the discesse of the said Johne Steuart yherely, tyll ger Sant Mongouse bell be rungen throw the toun for the said Johnes sawle.” 

– Old Glasgow, pp.19-29.

The city of Glasgow, which we have seen founded and rising under the protection of its powerful prelates, had maintained a successful struggle with the neighbouring royal burghs of Rutherglen, Renfrew, and Dumbarton, even before the bishop’s acquisition of extended jurisdiction gave his city the privileges of a burgh of regality.1

– Sketches, pp.29-70.

1  Previous to 1450, Glasgow was simply a bishop’s burgh, or burgh of barony. In that year, the same in which he founded his University, Bishop William Turnbull obtained a charter of regality of his city and territory. The increased consequence of the magistrates is immediately apparent. An indenture between them and the friars preachers, dated 18th December 1454, runs in the name of “ane honorabyll mane John Steuart, the first provost that was in the cite of Glasgw.” – In archiv. Universit.*
*  For an indenture between Glasgow and the Friars Preachers, 13 years later in 1467, see the Scots’ Lore article, Friars Preachers in Glasgow, which includes the copy of the indenture itself from the ‘Memorial Catalogue of the Old Glasgow Exhibition 1894.

Dec. 18 [1577]. – ‘The Lord Somerville had often importuned the Lords of Session for a hearing in the Inner House [of a cause respecting lands, in which he was engaged against his relation, Somerville of Cambusnethan], but was still postponed by the moyen [means] and interest of the Laird of Cambusnethan and the Lady. At length he was advised to use this policy, by one who knew the temper and avarice of Morton, then Regent. This gentleman’s advice was, that the Lord Somerville should have his advocates in readiness, and his process in form, against the next day; timely in the morning, that he might not be prevented by other solicitors, he should wait upon the Regent in his own bed-chamber. And, whatever answer he should receive from the Regent, he desired my Lord Somerville not to be much concerned; but upon his taking leave, he should draw out his purse and make as though he intended to give the waiting-servants some money, and thereupon slip down his purse with the gold therein upon the table, and thereafter make quickly down-stairs, without taking notice of any cry that might come after him. The Lord Somerville punctually obeyed this gentleman’s direction and advice in all points. Timely the next morning with his principal advocate he was with the Regent, and informed him fully of his affair. It being the custom for noblemen and gentlemen at that time always to keep their money in purses, this the Lord Somerville draws out, as it were to take out a piece of money to give to the doorkeeper, and leaves it negligently upon the table. He went quickly down-stairs, and took no notice of the Regent’s still crying after him: “My lord, you have forgot your purse,” but went on still, until he came the length of the outer porch, now the Duke of Hamilton’s lodging, when a gentleman that attended the Regent came up, and told him that it was the Regent’s earnest desire that his lordship would be pleased to return and breakfast with him; which accordingly the Lord Somerville did, knowing weel that his project had taken effect. 

‘About ten o’clock, the Regent went to the house, which was the same which is now the Tolbooth Church, in coach. There was none with him but the Lord Boyd and the Lord Somerville. Cambusnethan, by accident, as the coach passed, was standing at Niddry’s Wynd head, and having inquired who was in it with the Regent, he was answered: “None but the Lord Somerville and the Lord Boyd;” upon which he struck his breast, and said: “This day my cause is lost;” and indeed it proved so; for about eleven hours, the 18th day of December 1577, this action was called and debated until twelve most contentiously by the advocates upon both sides… After the debate was closed, the interlocutor passed in my Lord Somerville’s favours… Thus ended that expensive plea betwixt the houses of Cowthally and Cambusnethan, after seven or eight years’ debate, and these lands of Lothian [Drum, Gilmerton, and Goodtrees] returned again to the Lords Somerville, when they had been fourscore years complete in the possession of the family of Cambusnethan.’ – M. of S. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.56-80.

Lady Jane Hamilton, youngest daughter of the Duke of Chatelherault, and Countess of the Earl of Eglinton, from whom she was divorced, in consequence of the parties standing in the fourth degree of consanguinity, who died at Edinburgh on the 18th of December, 1596, by her will, dated 9th of that month, bequeathed 100 merks to the Trinity College church, for a “buriall place” there. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.300-309.

On the 18th of December, 1599, George Sempill was presented to Killallan, and became its incumbent after the 16th of September, 1600. He was, however, discharged by the Synod “for causes and considerations knowin’ to them, and speciallie for a great mislyking that specialls of the paroch had of him.” He insisted, however, on getting his rights as minister of the parish. 

– Scots Lore, pp.253-259.

Sir Robert Crichton of Cluny went to attend morning-service at St Cuthbert’s Kirk, near Edinburgh, and had sat there a considerable time quietly, when he observed a boy belonging to the Earl of Tullibardine come to the door and look in. As the earl had before this time ‘sought both his land and life,’ he judged the boy to be a spy, and apprehended that some evil was designed to him. He therefore rose to go out, hoping peaceably to convey himself beyond the earl’s reach; but no sooner had he done so than three men of the king’s guard – all, be it remarked, bearing the name of Murray, being that of the earl – rose from a seat behind and showed a warrant for taking him. By their own confession, they had come to church for the purpose of lying in wait to take Sir Robert, though intending not to meddle with him till the end of the service. They now told him that they were willing to wait for him till the dismissal of the people, keeping him meanwhile in a chamber adjoining to the church, whereas if he went forth by himself he might get skaith, as there were several of the earl’s ‘folk’ in the kirkyard. Sir Robert, however, disdained to submit to this ignominious treatment; so he and his son, drawing their swords, prepared to offer resistance. Of course, a tumult took place in the church, ‘to the scandal of religion, and the great grief of the haill parochiners and others convenit at the sermon.’ 

The three guardsmen were ordered, for this offensive affair, to appear in the place of repentance in the church, and crave forgiveness of God and the people, while Sir Robert was committed to ward in the Tolbooth. – P. C. R. 

A few years later (December 18, 1623), we find the Council issuing a strict order against the use of captions in churches. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.177-227.

The winter of 1675-6 being singularly mild, was followed by a favourable spring, and there consequently was an abundant harvest. The characteristic mutability of our climate was, however, shown immediately after. There was a drought in later autumn, and about the 18th of December the temperature fell to an extraordinary degree, ‘the most aged never remembered the like. The birds fell down frae the air dead; the rats in numbers found dead; all liquors froze, even the strongest ale; and the distilled waters of apothecaries in warm rooms froze in whole, and the glasses broke.’ – Law

– Domestic Annals, pp.322-337.

[The following letter appeared in the Edinburgh Weekly Chronicle of the 18th Dec., 1841] 

MR. Editor, – Sir, the publication of Donald McLeod’s Letters, while it adds to your high reputation for independence, reflects in a double sense on a brother contemporary in the North; and I must say with Donald McLeod, that the Editor recently alluded to by him is ever to be found with “the powers that be.” He catches at any circumstance that affords an opportunity of lauding a lord or a laird, and he is always laying his blarney on their doors with a trowel; while his negative praise of the poorer natives is disgusting to those who really know them.

The subject of Donald’s letters leads me now to notice a removing, which I fear is too truly apprehended at the term of Whitsunday, in one of the remote glens of Ross-shire; and though not very extensive, it is of a very aggravated nature, inasmuch as the victims are not only able to keep their holdings, but are men of the most spotless character. These are chiefly the McCrie’s of Corryvuik, in Strathconan, a county now possessed by one of the wealthiest men in Scotland, but who, it would seem, feels but little solicitude about this portion of the dependants over whom Providence has placed him as guardian. The farm has been occupied for time immemorial by the progenitors of the present tenants, all of whom have lived upon it from infancy. They maintained their means and credit in the worst of times, and are fully stocked; – they have never been in arrears to the laird; – and it is believed that their names were never called in a court of law, either as suitors or defenders. They are known as the quiet, unobtrusive, primitive people of Corryvuik; and at a happier period of their lives, they were the pride of their proprietors (the ancient family of Fairburn), though they now feel, that the chain which bound them to their native soil and chiefs is snapped assunder for ever. 

– Gloomy Memories, pp.67-70.

“When calling attention recently to the decision of the House of Lords appointing the trust estate of the late Mr JOHN ORR EWING to be administered in Chancery, we expressed an opinion that the Court of Session would decline to acknowledge the authority of that decision and would disregard it. Lord FRASER, one of the ablest Judges of the Court of Session, as well as a high authority in the province of international law, has, in a judgment pronounced by him on Saturday last, given it with emphatic clearness as his opinion that the Court of Chancery is seeking to usurp powers for which no authority is to be found in the general principles of international law, and which are also directly contrary to the articles of the Treaty of Union between Scotland and England. Four of the five surviving residuary legatees of the late Mr ORR EWING, after the recent decision of the House of Lords had been pronounced, raised an action of declarator and interdict in the Court of Session against Mr ORR EWING’s trustees, seeking to have it declared that the estates and effects of the testator should be administered in Scotland under the authority and subject to the jurisdiction of the Scotch Courts, and praying that the trustees should be interdicted from removing the estate and effects, or the writs and titles thereof, furth of Scotland, and his Lord ship has pronounced an interlocutor giving effect to the conclusions of this action. He finds that the defenders (Mr ORR EWING’s trustees) are not entitled to place the trust estate under the control of the Court of Chancery, or to administer the same under the direction of that Court, or to place the estate beyond the control of the Scottish Courts. He finds that the trustees are not bound nor entitled to render any accounts of the estate under their charge to the Court of Chancery, nor to part with the custody of any of the writs, title-deeds, or evidents of the estate. He further interdicts the trustees from removing the trust estate, or any of the writs thereof, furth of Scotland or beyond the jurisdiction and control of the Scottish Courts, and from rendering any accounts of the estate to, or otherwise placing the administration thereof under the authority and control of, the Court of Chancery. Practically this judgment declares the recent decision of the House of Lords to be of no effect, and interdicts the trustees from yielding obedience to it. Probably this action will eventually be carried by appeal to the highest Court, and it will then be seen whether the House of Lords, sitting as the Supreme Court of Appeal for Scotland, is prepared to maintain the decision which the House of Lords, sitting as the supreme tribunal in the Chancery Division of the English Court, has pronounced. Lord FRASER has accompanied his judgment with a very full note of the reasons which have brought him to pronounce it; and whether the judgment in the long run be upheld or not the reasons adduced in support of it by the learned Judge seem to the non-legal mind both just and equitable. ‘It is perfectly clear,’ says his Lordship, ‘that if the practice of the Court of Chancery in England is inconsistent with international law, no Court of a foreign country is bound to respect it.’ When the Chancery suit in Mr ORR EWING’s trust was before the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice Sir GEORGE JESSEL, the late Master of the Rolls, objected to Scotland being considered as a foreign country, and described it as a foreign jurisdiction. Lord FRASER considers the distinction immaterial. ‘Scotland has a law different from that of England, and quoad that law it is an independent State, entitled to demand from England adherence to the rules of international law which determine the rights of natives of foreign States which may be made the subject of action in her Courts.’  

   Holding then, that in matters such as this England and Scotland are foreign States, his Lordship goes on to discuss very fully the rules of international law dealing with the case of a party who dies possessed of movable estate situated in different countries. He states it as a rule of the law of nations that an executor is not entitled to collect the estate of the deceased until his right to do so has been confirmed by the competent Court of every country where there is property to ingather… The application of this rule in the case of Mr ORR EWING’s trust would have been very simple. Mr ORR EWING died domiciled in Scotland, and nineteen-twentieths of his estate were situated in Scotland. His executors under the Scotch confirmation were the executors of the domicile. These same executors, acting in England under a grant of probate in their favour, were there acting only as ancillary executors. Their duty was simply to realise the estate in England, settle with the English creditors, and transfer any balance to Scotland, there to be administered by themselves as the executors of the domicile. This was exactly what the executors did. Before any proceedings were taken in the Court of Chancery at all the English estate had been realised, the English creditors settled with, and the balance over transferred to Scotland. It follows from this that if Lord FRASER is right in holding Scotland to be in matter of law a foreign State, and is also right in his reading of the rules of international law dealing with the case of a man dying possessed of personalty in different countries, then he is also right in holding that the Court of Chancery is unwarrantably seeking to exercise jurisdiction where it has none… If Mr ORR EWING’s trustees do not obey the orders of the Court of Chancery they may be committed to prison for contempt of Court. On the other hand, it is not possible for them to obey the orders of that Court without a breach of the interdict Lord FRASER has laid on them, and a wilful breach of interdict may in like manner be punished by imprisonment. What are the trustees to do? Resign, and leave lawyers and Judges to fight the question out?” 

– Dundee Advertiser, Tuesday 18th December, 1883.

Treaty of Union Articles, 1875-1900.

Tuesday 18 December 1888, p. 4.

“THE WALLACE SWORD. – Last night, at a meeting of the Custodiers of the National Wallace Monument, the CHAIRMAN (Provost Yellowlees) referred to the action taken by the Dumbarton Town Council in connection with the removal of this relic from Dumbarton Castle, and moved that it be remitted to a small committee, along with the clerk, to take such steps as might be necessary to secure the retention of the sword. This was agreed to. A design by the Master of Works of a case for the Wallace sword was approved of. The sword is to be placed on a stone table below the bust of Robert the Bruce. The offer by Provost Donald, Dunfermline, of a bust of David Livingstone was accepted.” 

“THE custodiers of the National Wallace Monument have appointed a committee to oppose any attempt by Dumbarton to regain possession of the Wallace sword.”

– Scots Lore, pp.280-282.

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