[Gazetteer of Scotland Contents]
FIFESHIRE,1 a county forming the eastern portion of the central district of Scotland, being nearly in the middle of the great basin, of which the primitive mountain-ranges of the Lammermuirs on the south, and the Grampians on the north, constitute the boundaries. Its form is peninsular, being enclosed on three sides by sea, – by the German ocean [North Sea] on the east; and by the friths of Tay and Forth on the north and south; on the west it is bounded by the shires of Perth, Clackmannan, and Kinross, the last of which it almost encloses, except on the west and north-west, where it joins Perthshire. The western boundary – the line of which is very irregular – is about 23 miles from its extreme point on the Tay to the corresponding southern point on the Forth. The county gradually contracts to the eastward, and finally terminates in a narrow projecting headland at Fifeness, which runs out into the German ocean, and where a beacon has been erected for the protection of coasting-vessels. The greatest length from east to west, along the shore of the Forth, is 41 miles; about the centre, in the same direction, from St Andrews to Loch Leven, it is 23½ miles; the northern range, from Ferry-Port-on-Craig to the small stream at Mugdrum which falls into the Tay, is 18 miles. Its breadth across the centre, from Balambreich point on the north, to Leven on the south, is 14 miles. The southern coast is, for the most part, indented by small rocky bays with corresponding projecting headlands; but along the banks of the Tay, the grounds slope gently towards the beach, and are generally cultivated to the river’s edge. Along the north-eastern shore, towards St. Andrews, it presents one large plain, terminating in a flat beach of sand containing a considerable number of broken shells. The shore in this direction, and generally onwards to Kingsbarns and Crail, becomes extremely rocky: the outcrop of the sandstone running in the form of long narrow dykes into the sea, and rising into considerable mural cliffs towards the land. – According to Sir John Sinclair’s General Report of Scotland, the number of cultivated acres in this county, about 25 years ago, was 209,226 and of uncultivated, 89,664. Playfair estimates the superficies at 500 square miles, of which about four-fifths are arable. Macculloch, in his ‘Statistical Account the British Empire,’ [Vol. I. p. 292,] estimates the total area at 300,800 acres. In the ‘Penny Cyclopedia,’ the area is stated at 322,560 acres.
The general surface partakes more of the gentle, undulating outline of the middle districts of England, than of those bolder and more striking aspects of Nature which characterize the scenery of Caledonia. The Ochils, which skirt its northern boundary, and the Lomonds, which run nearly parallel to the Ochils, divide the county into three well-defined districts, which – as will be afterwards described – correspond to three equally marked subordinate geognostic formations. These two ranges of hills – which attain their greatest elevation towards the west – are separated by the intervening and finely-wooded valley of Stratheden, in the centre of which the county-town of Cupar is beautifully situated. The ground, on the south of the Lomonds, stretches out in a broad uneven surface towards the Forth; eastwards, there rises an elevated table-land, which forms what is characteristically termed ‘the Muirs of Fife,’ but which gradually merges in the rich and extensive plains, locally designated ‘the East Neuk,’ comprising an extent several parishes. – The Ochils consist of a chain of trap-hills, extending through a course of upwards of 50 miles, gently rising on the south bank of the Tay above feryy-Port-on-Craig, to about 400 feet, and attaining at the western extremity, in Bencleugh and Dalmyatt, an elevation of nearly 3,000 feet above the level of the sea. The saddle-shape, the round-back, and the conical peak, are severally developed in the course of this range; but only in a few instances – as Craig-sparrow, Clatchart, and Craig-in-Crune – do the hills present an abrupt, precipitous front; so that, for the most part, they are either cultivated to the summit, or covered with a rich carpeting of excellent pasturage. Towards the south-eastern district, they break up into several parallel ridges, or small mountain-arms – some of them completely detached – which, with extensive tracts of fertile corn-fields intervening, form an extremely pleasing and diversified contour of country. The whole is intersected by innumerable valleys, some of which form lateral passes into the adjacent plains of Stratheden and Strathearn; and one of them, commencing near the eastern shore, traverses the county as far as Newburgh, in a line almost parallel with the principal chain, when, after a contracted course varying from a few hundred yards to half-a-mile in breadth, it opens suddenly upon the extensive basin in which the loch of Lindores is contained. A little to the westward, on the verge of Strathearn, and near to the celebrated cross of Macduff, the poet still thus glowingly describes the prospect:-
——————————————— You do gaze –
Strangers are wont to do so – on the prospect.
Yon is the Tay, rolled down from Highland hills,
That rests his waves, after so rude a race,
In the fair plains of Gowrie. – Further westward,
Proud Stirling rises. – Yonder to the east
Dundee, the gift of God, and fair Montrose;
And still more northward, lie the ancient towers
Scott‘s Macduff‘s Cross.
Besides the Tay and Forth, which traverse the confines of this county, there are three rivers of comparatively small dimensions, but of considerable mercantile importance, which flow through the district. These are the Eden, which takes its rise near western extremity of the shire, in the parish Strathmiglo, and, after a course of about 18 miles through the entire extent of the valley, falls into sea at the Guard-bridge, near the bay of St. Andrews; the Leven, which issues from the loch of same name, and runs along the southern escarpment of the Lomonds; and the Orr, which rises in south-west corner of the county, and joins the Leven a few miles to the north of Largo bay, into which they pour their united waters: see articles EDEN, LEVEN, and ORR. The portion of the county traversed by the Orr is neither fertile nor interesting; but the vale that is irrigated by the Leven is extremely picturesque; the windings – which are short, abrupt, and frequent – expose unexpectedly to the traveller’s eye scattered cottages along the sides of the river, bleachfields, mansion-houses, villages, and coal-works, giving to the whole an extremely lively and animated outline. In addition to these rivers, there are several streams, which, from the shortness of their course, and the small quantity of water they discharge into the sea, do not seem entitled to any particular notice. – The lochs connected with the county are, Loch Fitty, Loch Gelly, Loch Leven, Loch Mill, the Black Loch, Lindores, and Kilconquhar: all of which are well-stocked with pike and perch, and some of them with excellent trout; and generally they are frequented by various species of wild fowl, while their banks are adorned with innumerable tribes of the flowering aquatic plants. Perhaps, however, the most interesting feature, as connected with the general contour and surface of this county, are the Lomonds, which – though described in a separate article – in giving a description of Fife, it would be improper altogether to omit. The eye of the painter Wilkie has often rested with delight upon their fine outline – “mine own blue Lomonds,” he calls them; and seen from every spot and corner of the shire, towering majestically above all the surrounding heights they unquestionably form a grand and interesting object. This ridge consists of an elevated table-land, about 4 miles in length, completely insulated from the neighbouring hills, and has a gentle and gradual slope towards the south, but on the north the acclivity is precipitous and rocky, and springs immediately from the valley of Stratheden to the height of 800 or 900 feet. Two lofty comical peaks surmount both extremities of the ridge, rising, one of them to the additional height of 666, and the other to about 821 feet – thus making what is termed the East law 1,466, and the West law 1,721 feet above the level of the sea. Overlooking the whole county, and the two noble rivers by which it is almost encompassed, with the German ocean to the east, the towers of Stirling and “the lofty Ben-Lomond” to the west, the rugged, serrated outline of the Grampians to the north, and the extensive plains of the Lothians, begirt by the Pentlands and Lammermuirs to the south – the prospect from either summit of these twin hills may vie with any in the kingdom, presenting at once to the eye whatever is necessary to form the beautiful, the picturesque, or the sublime: see THE LOMONDS. Some of the objects in the immediate vicinity give additional interest to the scene; the palace of Falkland, which lies at the base of the East Peak, is still a place of considerable attraction, and presents no mean specimen of the architectural taste of other days: see FALKLAND. Loch Leven washes the sloping defiles of the other, where, in the middle of the deep blue lake, may still be observed the ruins of the castle in which the unfortunate Mary Stuart was imprisoned by her subjects: see LOCH LEVEN.
The county of Fife, from the one extremity to the other, is exclusively connected with the independent coal-formation of Werner, and, in his view of the science of geology, the associated strata belong, one and all of them, to the floetz class of rocks. According to the more prevailing notions of recent times, and in conformity with which the terms are less connected with theoretic views, they may be characterized by the appellation of the medial or carboniferous order. The rocks connected with the coal-formation in Fife – proceeding in the descending series – are sandstone, slate clay, bituminous shale, clay-iron-stone, coal, limestone, yellow sandstone, limestone, and old red sandstone. Irregularly mixed up with these, the various members of the trap family are also to be found throughout the length and breadth of the district. The old red sandstone rocks of Fifeshire are of comparatively limited extent, and are almost exclusively confined to its northern division. Some very interesting appearances and sections of the yellow sandstone, along with strata of the coal-field, may be observed in Dura-Den, – a beautiful serpentine valley, which intersects the range of hills from south to north, through which a considerable stream flows, joining the Eden at Dairsie church. – Mountain limestone, as it occurs in Fife, forms a kind of crescent around the out-crop of the coal field, ranging from the south-west extremity of the county at Broomhall, and passing through the parish of Cleish towards the Lomonds, where it attains an elevation of 1,100 feet above the level of the sea. Its course towards the east is by Forther, Cults, Ceres, Ladadda, Mount Melville, and, after a considerable interruption here, it next emerges at Randerston in the parish of Kingsbarns, on the south-east confines of the county. Between the bounding line now traced and the frith of Forth on the south, this limestone may be considered as occupying much of the intermediate district, although it has only been brought to the surface, and rendered available for practical purposes, in a few localities along the southern shore: these are at Seafield, Tyrie, Innertiel, Raith, Chapel, and Pittenweem. Besides this bed – which is properly termed the carboniferous – there is another of more limited extent, included among the coal strata, and which, for the sake of distinction, has been termed the upper limestone. From Pettycur to Inverkeithing, the stratified rocks are much intersected and disturbed by those of an igneous origin; and here the student in geology may have boundless scope in which to exercise his imagination as to the ancient condition of things along this interesting coast. The limestone, shale, and sandstone, abound with organic remains, many of which are peculiar to this district. – The coal-metals of Fifeshire are chiefly distinguished by the proportion of bitumen which they yield. Two varieties occur, – the common or caking-coal, which yields about 40 per cent. of bitumen, and emits a considerable quantity of smoke in burning; and the parrot or cannel-coal, which affords about 20 per cent. of bitumen. The former has a splintery, imperfect, conchoidal fracture, and swells in burning; the latter burns with a bright flame, and, generally, during the operation of combustion, decrepitates, and flies into small angular fragments. It is now almost universally employed in the manufacture of gas, and brings, in consequence of its comparative scarceness and the great consumption of that new element of light, much higher prices than any other species of coal. The north out-crop of the coal-measures is towards the Lomonds, Cults, and Drumcarro hills, no portion of this useful mineral having been found beyond this range; but towards the south and west districts of the shire it is most abundantly distributed, sometimes in basins of inconsiderable extent, and in other localities in outstretching continuous beds of indefinite dimensions. Beginning at the west of Fife, and proceeding eastwards, the following coal-works are at present in operation, viz.:- at Torry, Blair, Elgin, Wellwood, Protis, Hallbeath, Crossgates, Fordel, Donibristle, Dundonald, Keltie, Beath, Rashes, Lochgelly, Kippledrae, Cluny, Dunnikier, Dysart, Orr-Bridge, Balbirnie, Rothesfield, Wemyss, Drummochy, Lundin Mill, Grange, Rires, Balcarres, St. Monance, Pittenweem, Kellie, Gilmerton, Largoward, Bungs, Fallfield, Lathockar, Cairlhurlie, Teasess, Ceres, Drumcarro, Kilmux, Carriston, Clatto, and Burnturk. At these different coal-fields there are 62 pits open, and upwards of 2,500 men and boys employed. The extent of surface occupied by the coal metals varies from 6 to about 9 miles in breadth; from Torry to Pittenweem, the south-eastern point of the basin, is 35 miles; and from Blairadam to Drumcarro, along the line of the northern out-crop, is 22 miles. There is thus an area of rather more than 200 square miles included within the coal-field of Fife. Beds of parrot or cannel-coal occur generally in the upper series of the coal-deposits, at Torry, Dysart, Fall-field, Clatto, Teasess, Burnturk, and Kippledrae. At the latter locality there are two seams, separated by a thin layer of shale, and whose average thickness is about 5 feet. It is the thickest deposit of the kind in the island of Great Britain which has as yet been met with. Besides the parrot, a vertical section of a coal-basin frequently exhibits upwards of twenty different seams of the black or common coal used for domestic purposes. These seams vary from a foot to 20 feet in thickness. – Basalt occupies almost exclusively the southern boundary of the shire, along the shores of the Forth, where, at Queensferry, Pettycur, Orchil near Auchtertool, Kincraig hill, Earls-ferry-point, and several other localities to the eastward, it exhibits beautiful specimens of the columnar structure, consisting of small, sometimes of larger, pentagonal masses jointed into one another with the most perfect symmetry and order. Clinkstone generally forms the cap or highest portion of the Ochil ridge, but by no means uniformly so. The Lomonds are capped with greenstone and amygdaloid. Largo law is composed of a greyish-black compact basaltic clinkstone, likewise Hall-hill-craig, and Craighall rock. Between Kincraig and Earls-ferry-point, in a small bay of not more than a mile in extent, the whole series of trappean rocks may be observed, arranged in no systematic order, and scarcely distinguishable at their lines of junction from each other. – The county is partly intersected on the west by the valley of Glen Farg, which opens into Strathearn; here the prevailing rocks are claystone, highly indurated and of a variegated yellow and brownish-red colour; and amygdaloid, which is extremely vesicular, containing cavities from an inch to a quarter of an inch in diameter, and which are filled with green earth, chalcedony, calcareous spar, analcime, quartz, and zeolites. Veins of carbonate of barytes, and carbonate of lime traverse the hills here in every direction, varying from an inch to several feet in thickness, and exhibiting beautiful specimens of crystallization. – Alluvium is confined almost to the north-west section of the county, and the valley of Stratheden, and at a few places along the banks of the Leven and Orr. – The district intervening between Ferry-port-on-Craig and St. Andrews furnishes the only example, in the county, of sand-drift, which, although considerable in extent, does not attain in any part of the line an elevation of more than 40 to 50 feet. Peat-moss exists in greater abundance, and occupies generally the highest table-land in the district: Brunshiels towards the east, and Mossmorran situated in the south-western division, are the most extensive. Mossmorran is about 1,200 acres in extent, and in some places about 25 feet in depth. It abounds with adders, some of which are three feet in length. – In Stratheden there are extensive accumulations of diluvium. From the church of Collessie to the river Eden, and through a range of several miles to the east and west, the bottom of the valley is filled to an unknown depth with the debris of the old red sandstone, generally consisting of small gravelly fragments. The high table-land at Mugdrum, near Newburgh, is composed entirely of diluvium, as well as the sloping ground on which the town stands. The valley, which commences at the rock of Clatchart, and stretches eastwards, is filled with the same; and to the combined action of the currents which swept along the northern and southern acclivities of the Ochils – through the valleys of Stratheden, Lindores, and the Tay – we would be disposed to ascribe those vast accumulations of sand and gravel which occur on the western confines of the parishes of Leuchars and Forgan. This county furnishes two interesting examples of sub-marine forests, which are both situated in this deposit, the one at Largo bay, and the other at Flisk. They are placed within the limits of the tide, and are covered at high water to the depth of nearly 10 feet. They consist of the roots of trees, imbedded in a peat-moss which rests upon a bed of clay of unknown depth.
Anciently this county was of much greater extent than it now is. Under the names of Fife, and Fothrik, or Forthrif,2 the whole tract of land lying between the rivers and friths of Forth and Tay appears to have been comprehended; including, besides what now constitutes the county, Monteith, the lordship of Strathearn, Clackmannanshire, the shire of Kinross, and that portion of Perthshire which borders on the Forth. From the great extent and value of this district, and from its forming so important a portion of the Pictish dominions, it unquestionably received, at an early period, its popular appellation of ‘the Kingdom of Fife,’ – a name still fondly cherished by its sons, especially those to whom distance renders still more dear the place of their nativity. At different periods, the extent of ‘the kingdom’ was diminished; and so early as 1426, the district of Kinross was formed into a distinct county. In the time of Buchanan – who wrote towards the end of the following century – the county seems to have been reduced nearly to its present dimensions. “The rest of the country,” says he, speaking of this district, “the ambition of man has divided into several stewartries, as the stewartry of Clackmannan, of Culross, and of Kinross.” A farther dismemberment, however, took place in 1685, when the parishes of Portmoak, Cleish, and Tullibole, were disjoined from Fife, and with some lands separated from Perthshire, incorporated with the shire of Kinross. – The sheriff-depute is judge-ordinary of the county, and has two substitutes; one of whom holds courts at Cupar, the county-town, and the other at Dunfermline. Formerly there was only one sheriff-substitute, and the courts were held at Cupar for the whole county; but the great distance of Dunfermline, and its importance as a manufacturing town, led to the division of the county into two districts, the eastern and western, and the appointment of a substitute for each. By a recent act, the sheriff is authorized to hold circuits through the county for the decision of small debts: for which purpose courts are held on certain fixed days at St. Andrews, Kirkcaldy, Colinsburgh, Auchtermuchty, and Newburgh. The justices-of-the-peace hold courts of petty sessions at stated intervals, or when business requires it; and quarter-sessions, where appeals are heard from the petty session, four times in the year, in the months of March, May, August, and October. They also hold courts under the small debt act, for the recovery of sums under £5 sterling; and for public convenience, the county is divided into districts, courts being held at Cupar, Auchtermuchty, St. Andrews, Anstruther, and Colinsburgh, Kirkcaldy, and Dunfermline. The commissary of the commissariat of Fife also holds his courts at Cupar; but the jurisdiction of this officer is now exceedingly reduced from what it once was. – The county contains eighteen royal burghs, the magistrates of which possess, within the bounds of their several royalties, a civil jurisdiction much the same as that of the judge-ordinary of the shire. There are besides, several burghs-of-barony, the bailies of which possess a very limited civil jurisdiction, and have the power of punishing assaults, batteries, and such like crimes committed within the barony. – Among the more important of the courts now abolished, were that of the steward of the stewartry of Fife, held heritably by the Duke of Athole, and in compensation for which he claimed and obtained the sum of £1,200 sterling at its abolition; that of the bailie of the regality of Dunfermline, for which the Marquis of Tweeddale received £2,672 7s. sterling; that of the bailie of the regality of St. Andrews, for which the Earl of Crawford received £3,000 sterling; that of the regality of Aberdour, for which the Earl of Morton received £93 2s. sterling; that of the regality of Pittenweem, for which Sir John Anstruther of Anstruther obtained £202 15s. 8d. sterling; that of the regality of Lindores, for which Antonia Barclay of Collerny, and Mr. Harry Barclay, her husband, obtained £215 sterling; and the regality of Balmerinoch, which was not valued, as it was forfeited to the Crown by the accession of Lord Balmerinoch to the rebellion in 1745. It is obvious, therefore, that in ancient times the inhabitants of Fife were well provided with courts of law, whatever they may have been with regard to the administration of justice. – This county is represented in parliament by one member. The constituency, in 1839, was 2,967; in 1840, 3,006. For convenience at elections, the county has been divided into different districts, and the polling-places for these districts are Cupar, St. Andrews, Crail, Auchtermuchty, Kirkcaldy, and Dunfermline. Before the Union, in 1707, this county sent four members to the Scottish parliament. Two sets of royal burghs within this county also send a member each to parliament. By the reform bill, Cupar, St. Andrews, Easter and Wester Anstruther, Pittenweem, Kilrenny, and Crail, elect one member; Kirkcaldy, Dysart, Kinghorn, and Bruntisland, elect another; and Dunfermline and Inverkeithing are conjoined with the Stirling district of burghs in the election of a third. The total constituency of these burghs, independent of that for the county, is about 2,000. This county, therefore, has its fair share in the representation of Scotland in the British parliament.3
The county contains sixty-one quoad civilia parishes, distributed into four presbyteries, and which together form the provincial synod of Fife, viz:-
Cupar Presbytery. Crail
Moonzie Kirkcaldy Presbytery.
Criech Sconie or Leven
St. Andrews Presbytery. Abbotshall
St. Andrews Wemyss
St. Leonards Ballingray
Cameron Dunfermline Presbytery.
Forgan or St. Fillans Saline
Abercromby or St. Monance Dalgetty
Anstruther, Easter Beath
Anstruther, Wester Carnock
Besides these sixty-one parishes, a portion of the parish of Abernethy, and part of the parish of Arngask, are in the shire of Fife, though in the presbytery of Perth. The presbytery of Kirkcaldy includes, besides the parishes in Fife, the parish of Portmoak, which is in Kinross-shire. The presbytery of Dunfermline includes three parishes in Kinross-shire – Cleish, Orwell, and Kinross, and the parish of Culross, which is in Perthshire. The several presbyteries meet regularly at their respective seats of Cupar, St. Andrews, Kirkcaldy, and Dunfermline; and the synod meets alternately at Cupar and Kirkcaldy, and occasionally at St. Andrews and Dunfermline. The number of recently erected quoad sacra parishes within the synod of Fife, is twelve. – The number of parochial schools, in 1834, was 55, attended by about 4,000 children; of schools not parochial, 223, attended by 10,000 children.
As Fife is remarkable for the number of its royal burghs, its burghs-of-barony, and its populous villages, so is it also for the number of its landed proprietors. This seems to have attracted the notice of Pennant, the tourist, who is quite enthusiastic in his description of the county. “Permit me,” says he, “to take a review of the Peninsula of Fife, a county so populous, that, excepting the environs of London, scarcely one in South Britain can vie with it: fertile in soil, abundant in cattle, happy in collieries, in iron-stone, in lime and freestone; blest in manufactures; the property remarkably well divided, – none exceedingly powerful to distress, and often depopulate a county, – most of the fortunes of a useful mediocrity. The number of towns is, perhaps unparalleled in an equal tract of coast; for the whole shore from Crail to Culross, about 40 English miles, is one continued chain of towns and villages.”4 Such is the account given of Fife by a celebrated English tourist 68 years ago; and, so far as regards the number of the landed proprietors, the division of the property, and the number of the towns and villages, it is still applicable. But if Pennant so much admired the agriculture and the manufactures of that period, how much more would his admiration be increased could he perceive the state of improvement to which they have now attained! The valued rent of the county is £363,464 13s. 4d. Scots,5 proportioned among the different districts in the following manner:-
Cupar £ 93,535 13 4 Scots.
St. Andrews 126,013 0 0
Kirkcaldy 87,664 16 8
Dunfermline 56,250 13 4
The annual value of real property in the county in 1815, according to the last return for the property-tax, was £405,770 sterling. Taking this at twenty years’ purchase as the average for the whole, the value of the heritable property in the county at that time would be, according to this return, £8,115,400. In 1811, the land rent was estimated at £335,290. – The population of Fife appears to be upon the increase, though not so rapidly as in some other parts of Scotland. In 1801, the total population was 93,743; in 1811, it was 101,272; in 1821, 114,550; and in 1831, 128,800. The rate of increase during these periods was 8 per cent. for the first, 13 per cent. for the second, and 12 per cent. for the third. If we take a medium between the first and last of these rates, say 10 per cent. as the increase since 1831, we may consider the population at present as amounting to 141,680; but this is probably too much for the general average throughout the county, as although it may have been much greater in some places, in other parishes the population may be considered as almost stationary.
The progress of agriculture in Fife has been very great since the end of the 18th century. About four-fifths of the county is considered as arable land; and it is at present under the management of intelligent, active, and judicious agriculturists. Indeed, the agriculture of the county is behind no other, and far in advance of that of many of the counties of Scotland. Previous to 1790, the farmers generally lived in low smoky houses, badly lighted, and having no other divisions but those made by the large wooden bedsteads, which formed what was called a but and a ben. The offices were then also, as was to be expected, mean and deficient in the extreme. The farmers of that period wanted, in many instances, the capital, as they were deficient in the intelligence and energy, to engage in and effect profitable improvements. All this, however, is now happily altered. The agriculturists of the present day are, with little exception, all capitalists; and, from their more enlarged education and higher intelligence, are enabled to adopt every improvement in the management of their land, and to take advantage of every new market which the general improvement of modern times has opened up to them. The farm-houses are now all of a superior description, and the farm-offices are, many of them, models for convenience. Drainage has been conducted in Fife on a very extensive scale, and the appearance of the county has, in consequence, been greatly improved, while its productions have been increased and benefited in quality. Several pretty extensive lochs and marshes, which were formerly profitless to the proprietor, have been completely drained, and the ground they occupied put under tillage. Furrow-draining, where thought necessary, has been adopted, and is in many instances still extending with great advantage. The old breed of horses, which was small and unsightly, and ill-fitted for either draught or saddle, has almost entirely disappeared; and the breed of horses now used for agricultural purposes will vie, either in power or appearance, with those used in any county in Scotland. The Fife breed of cattle has long been celebrated both for feeding and for the dairy; but it is to be regretted, that injudicious crossing has, in many instances, injured instead of improving this excellent breed of cattle.6 The evil, however, has been ascertained, and exertions are making to encourage the cultivation of the pure native breed. The increased cultivation of turnips has greatly increased the feeding of sheep which are generally allowed to eat off the crop, to the advantage of the land, and the profit of the agriculturist. The cultivation of oats is more extensive in Fife than that of any other sort of grain. Oats are better suited both to the soil and climate; and oatmeal is the principal article of food among the middle and lower classes. The quantity of land annually sown with this kind of grain, cannot be computed at less than 30,000 acres; and, in general, it turns out a very profitable crop. Barley is cultivated in Fife to a very considerable extent, and more so now than at any former period, The vast number of distilleries, both here and in Perthshire and Clackmannanshire, insure a ready market to the grower; and the consequent high price is a strong inducement to the farmer to sow every field with barley that will produce any thing like a crop. The long-eared barley, with two rows, is universally cultivated on all lands which lie low and warm, and are under an improved state of husbandry. It produces larger grain, and of a better quality, than the common bear; and being stronger and harder in the straw, is not so apt to lodge. Wheat appears to have been anciently more generally cultivated in Fifeshire than at a later period. In the statements of the revenues of some of the old monasteries, it appears that wheat was delivered as rent by the farmers, – produced, no doubt, from lands upon which, half-a-century ago, nobody would have attempted to rear a crop of that kind. During the last forty years, however, the cultivation of wheat has been rapidly extending, and has uniformly kept pace with the improvements in agriculture. Many parts of the county are well-adapted for this valuable grain, and crops of wheat are frequently reared here equal to any produced in the richest counties of England. Beans and pease are cultivated to the extent of 6,000 acres annually. Potatoes may be said to constitute one-third part of the food of the common people in Scotland for eight months in the year. On every farm in Fife a considerable quantity is planted, both for family-use and for sale. As this county abounds in small towns and villages, a much greater quantity, in proportion, is raised in their immediate vicinity than upon farms that are more remote. Many farmers, too, are in the habit of letting small portions of land to such villagers as have none of their own. This is a most beneficial practice. The land being let only for one season, and well-manured with ashes and street-soil, or with dung when it can be got, is thus properly cleaned, brings the farmer a good rent, and prepares the soil for a succeeding crop. The quantity of land annually under potatoes cannot be less than 7,000 acres. Turnips are general all over the county, except in the immediate vicinity of villages, where they are exposed to the depredations of juvenile intruders. Few counties in Scotland, at one time, cultivated more flax than Fife; but the almost universal adoption of cotton-goods has, in a great measure, abolished the practice, excepting a small patch annually to supply family deficiencies. Nay, some proprietors, from an opinion that flax is an impoverishing crop, because it yields no manure for the ground, have introduced clauses into their leases prohibiting no more to be sown than is merely necessary for the farmer’s family. On almost every farm, rye grass, and red and white clovers are cultivated; and strong, heavy crops of hay are produced in suitable seasons.
One great advantage possessed by the Fife agriculturists over those of more inland counties, is, that there is not a farm in the county 10 miles distant from a sea-port. They have, therefore, the important benefit of water-carriage, and are enabled, with ease, to send their produce to Edinburgh, Glasgow, or London. The introduction of steam-navigation has also been of great advantage; and the execution of the projected railway from Kinghorn to Ferry-port-on-Craig, with minor branches, will greatly benefit the whole county. The size of the farms ranges from 50 to 500 acres. The lands, with the exception of grass parks within gentlemen’s enclosures, are all let on lease, usually for 19 years. The rents, where paid in money, are various, rising from £1 to £5, and in some few localities higher; but in many instances now, a grain-rent is paid, regulated by the fiar-prices of the county, which are fixed yearly by the sheriff. It is to be regretted that thorn hedges are not so prevalent for enclosure, as in some other counties: stone walls being more extensively used, and being preferred for this purpose, though neither possessing the beauty nor affording the warmth of the other. Farm-yard dung is an important manure; and a straw-yard is considered as a most valuable appendage to a farm-yard; but bone-dust is coming into general use, and mills for grinding the bones have been erected in different parts of the county. Swine are fed to a considerable extent, not only by the farmers, but by the villagers; of late years they have been purchased by dealers or agents, slaughtered, and sent by steam to the London market. Rabbits are in many places protected, and their skins yield a considerable revenue. The quantity of pigeons is quite unexampled elsewhere. It has been calculated that the county of Fife contains nearly three hundred dovecots. This may be accounted for by the great number of proprietors in the county who have each erected a dovecot near his mansion. – The climate of Fife is accounted unfavourable for the production of the larger fruits. There are, however, within the county, many extensive and elegant gardens where these are reared in great perfection; but few gardens are rented for the purpose of exposing their produce to the public. In the vicinity of Kirkcaldy about 20 acres are occupied in this way. No natural wood is to be found in Fife, excepting some trifling spots unworthy of particular notice. Around the mansion-houses of proprietors some small plantations of ash, elm, fir, lime, and oak are to be seen, particularly on the estates of Rankeillor, Craigrothie, and a few others. As the want of shelter is one of the chief inconveniences under which their court labours, and as it is much exposed to winds from the east, north-east, and south-east, the utmost attention ought to be paid to this mode of improvement. Indeed, proprietors, sensible of this, have of late years begun to plant tracts of barren ground, and divide commons; and the most beneficial effects to the county may at no distant period be expected to result from these operations.
The principal manufacture in Fife has long been that of linen, which, from small beginnings, has gradually increased to its present great importance. Many mills have been erected – and these are still increasing – for the spinning of tow and flax into different qualities of yarn. The cloths woven are of various kinds; sail-cloth, bed-ticking, brown linen, dowlas, duck, checks, shirting, and table-linen. The damask manufacture of Dunfermline is probably unequalled in the world, for the beauty of its design, and the skill with which it is executed. The cotton-manufacture has never been an object of the expenditure of capital in this county; but many workmen are employed in this manufacture for Glasgow houses. Iron-founding and the making of machinery is carried on in different places. Salt is still manufactured in the county, though not to the extent it formerly was. The tanning of leather is also carried on in two or three localities. Bricks and tiles are made for local use; and earthenware and china manufactured to some extent. Coach-building is likewise carried on. There are breweries in almost every village for the manufacture of beer, and at some of these strong ale of good quality is made. There are three pretty extensive distilleries, which afford the farmer a ready market for his barley. Ship-building also forms a part of the trade of the county.
The weights and measures of this county, before the act for the equalization of these, were Tron, reckoning 16 Scots Troy lbs. to the stone, and 20 Troy ozs. to the lb., for wool, butter, cheese, hides, and other home-productions. Dutch for butcher-meat – except in Kirkcaldy presbytery, where Tron was used – meal, foreign flax, and hemp, iron and Dutch goods. Avoirdupois for groceries. The stone of flax was 22 lbs. avoirdupois. The measure for wheat, pease, and beans, was a firlot, containing 2274.888 cubic inches; or 1 fir. 3 mutchkins standard-measure, being 35.29 per cent. better. For oats, barley, and malt, the firlot containing 3308.928 cubic inches; and was 1 firlot 1 pint, or 3.225 per cent. better than the standard. Home-made woollen cloth sold by the ell of 37⅛ inches.
In concluding this general summary of the county of Fife, we shall lay before our readers the opinion of Mr. Hill, the commissioner for inspecting prisons in Scotland, on the state of crime in this shire. “There is,” he says, “but little crime at present in Fifeshire, and much less than formerly. The most common offences at this time are assaults, and other disturbances of the peace, and petty thefts. These offences are committed chiefly by young persons between the age of 12 and 30, most whom are inhabitants of the county. It is observed, that there are but few regular farm-servants among the offenders. The most serious offences are committed by vagrants and other strangers. Almost all the assaults arise from drunkenness; and this, including the desire to obtain the means of indulgence in drunkenness, is the cause of many of the thefts. Such of the parents of the criminals as are known are most of them of bad character, or are at least neglectful of their children. In the western district it was stated, that many of the young thieves are orphans, and that, as a class, the criminals there are inferior to others in education and intelligence. Among the offences that have become less common than formerly, are housebreaking, forgery, and child-murder. On the other hand, there have been some violent disturbances at the elections lately, which did not occur formerly.” The law-commissioners were so much struck with the paucity of crime in Fifeshire, that they applied to the sheriff for information on the subject, and this led to an application to the sheriff-substitute of the eastern division, for an account of the preventive police, which had been organized under his direction. This police was established at the time of the cholera; and, in the first instance, extended to the Cupar district only. Its object was to rid the place of vagrants, in order to prevent the introduction of the cholera; and it worked so efficiently; that between 300 and 400 vagrants were either removed or prevented from entering in the course of one month. The inhabitants of the other parts of the county, desirous of partaking in the advantages of these arrangements, applied to Mr. Jamieson for his assistance, and at their request, he organized a preventive police for the whole county, and this has continued in operation ever since. There are in all about 20 men, including the superintendent, and the total cost is rather more than £600 sterling a-year, which sum is paid from the county-rates. Mr. Jamieson considers the present force insufficient for the full development of the plan, but it has been calculated that even on its present footing, the police effects a saving to the county of £10,000 sterling a-year: estimating the cost of each vagrant, in his alternate character of a beggar and a thief, at one shilling a-day only. In confirmation of the general belief that much of the crime is committed by vagrants, it may be stated that, with every diminution of the number of vagrants in Fifeshire, there has been a reduction in the amount of crime.
The aboriginal inhabitants of Fife were Celts; and here, as in other parts of Europe, the names of the more remarkable natural features of the country, as well as of most of the towns, demonstrate the fact. At the period of the Roman invasion, the peninsula between the Forth and the Tay was inhabited by the Horestii, one of those tribes who peopled ancient Caledonia. The district inhabited by this tribe included the modern shires of Fife, Clackmannan, and Kinross, the eastern part of Strathearn, and the country lying westward of the Tay as far as the river Brand. It does not appear that the Horestii had any towns within the bounds of what now constitutes Fife. Their chief towns were Alauna, Lindum on the river Allan, and Victoria on the river Earn; and here the Romans afterwards had stations on the great military way which led north-east towards Ptoroton or Burghhead, on the Murray frith. Hill forts, however, were numerous, all over the county, and the remains of several of these are still to be traced, On Dunearn hill there was a British fort of great strength, which soon yielded to the art of the Romans. Upon Carneil hill, near Carnock, the Horestii had another fort, which had in all probability been in possession of the Romans, as in 1774, upon opening some tumuli on the hill, several urns were found containing Roman coins. About 1½ mile north from Carnock there was a fort on a hill called Craigluscar; and 3 miles north-north-west there was one on Saline hill, and another at no great distance below. The situation of several others can also still be traced on the heights in the northern part of the parish of Strathmiglo, as well as on the hills near Newburgh.
In the year 78 of the Christian era, Agricola took the command of the Roman provinces in Britain. The year 79 he appears chiefly to have spent in subduing and endeavouring to civilize portions of the south. In the year 80, he left Mancunium – the Manchester of the present time – with the intention of penetrating into the north by the western coast. Having overrun the whole of this country between the Solway and the friths of Clyde and Forth, he began to turn his attention to the countries lying to the north of the Forth. He ordered his fleet to survey the northern shores of the Forth, and to sound the harbours; and setting out with his army, crossed the frith at its most contracted part now known as Queensferry. He thus in the year 83 entered the country of the Horestii. The Caledonian Britons from the higher regions, aware of the object of the Roman general, began offensive operations by attacking the forts which Agricola left behind him; and in doing so, created considerable terror in their enemies. Agricola being informed that it was the intention of the Caledonians to attack him on all sides, in a country with which he was unacquainted, divided his army into three divisions. It seems probable that with one of these divisions he marched to Carnock, near which are still to be traced the remains of two Roman military stations. From thence he pushed forward the 9th legion to Loch Orr, about 2 miles from Loch Leven. Here the Romans pitched their camp, having two ranges of hills in front, the Cleish range on their left, and Bennarty hill on their right.7 In his operations in Fife, and in securing his various stations in that country, Agricola spent the remaining portion of the year 83; the commencement of the succeeding year was occupied in obtaining information of the movements of his enemies, and the nature of the country he was about to invade. During this period, he was supplied with provisions from his fleet upon the Forth; and by means of it had regular communication with his garrisons on the opposite shore. In the summer of the year 84, Agricola left the country of the Horestii, on his proposed expedition to the north, sending his fleet round the coast for the purpose of alarming his enemies. He appears in his march to have followed the course of the Devon, and turning from Glendevon to the right, through the opening in the Ochil hills, to have passed through Gleneagles. Proceeding between Blackford and Auchterarder, he advanced towards the Grampians, which he had seen at a distance as he defiled through the Ochils. Marching onward to the moor of Ardoch, he came upon the Caledonian army within the territory of the Damnii. The Caledonians, who were thus encamped at the foot of the Grampians, amounted to 30,000 men, under the command of Galgacus, – a general who seems well-entitled to all the praise which Tacitus has bestowed upon him. Here an obstinate battle ensued, in which the greatest bravery was displayed on both sides. Night alone put an end to the engagement, but the victory fell to the side of discipline and skill. The Caledonians retired into the distant recesses of their nearly impervious country; and Agricola, unable to make any important use of the victory he had obtained, led his army back to the borders of the country of the Horestii. Taking hostages from them for their future tranquillity, he conducted his troops into winter-quarters on the south of the Forth. His navy he ordered to sail round the island, ostensibly on a voyage of discovery, but no doubt also with the view of intimidation. Having sailed as far as Richborough, the fleet returned to the Forth to winter. Thus ended the campaigns of Agricola in Britain. In the proceedings, in connection with the different Roman invasions of Caledonia, the early inhabitants of Fife bore their part, first under the name of Horestii, and afterwards under that of Vecturiones, a tribe of the people called Picts.
The history of the Picts extends from 446, the period at which the Romans left Britain, till 843, when their government was overthrown by the Scots. The kingdom of the Picts seem to have extended throughout the whole of the eastern coast, and the central portion of Scotland, north of the Roman wall; and in the north to have reached from sea to sea. The county of Fife, and the lower portion of Perthshire and Angus, formed the most important portion of their territory; and here it was more extensively peopled than in the more central or northern parts. Their capital appears originally to have been at Forteviot in Strathearn; and afterwards at Abernethy on the borders of the county of Fife. The Picts were instructed in the truths of Christianity by Columba, towards the close of the 6th century. Ternan is said to have been the first bishop among the Picts, and to have resided at Abernethy, the Pictish capital. Columba, having instituted a monastery of Culdees in the island of Iona, which he had received for that purpose from the Pictish king, set the example of forming such monastic societies throughout different parts of North Britain. About the year 700, the island in Loch Leven was bestowed on St. Serf, and the Culdees residing there and serving God. Setting aside the fable of St, Regulus having landed at St. Andrews, about the year 365, as a monkish legend, there is absolute certainty that the Culdees had a settlement there in the 9th century; and such was the fame they had attained in the 10th century, that Constantine III. took up his residence among them, and died in 943, a member, or according to Winton, abbot of their monastery. At Dunfermline there was an early Culdee establishment formed, as there was also at Kirkcaldy; and, according to Winton, Bridei, the son of Derili, founded one at Culross, about the year 700. St. Serf, we are informed by Winton, resided here for many years before he went to Loch Leven; and by the same authority we are informed that he afterwards went there, where he died and was buried. Here St. Mungo, the supposed founder of the see of Glasgow, was for some time a disciple, previous to his removing to the West. There was another society of Culdees at Portmoak, near Loch Leven.
The union of the Scots and Picts brought the whole of Pictavia, and of course Fife, under the government of the Scottish kings. In 881 the Danes entered the Forth, and made a descent upon the shores of Fife. There they were bravely encountered by Constantine, who was, however, unfortunately killed near Crail. During the reign of Kenneth III., the Danes entered the Tay with a numerous fleet, their object appearing to be the plunder of Forteviot or Dunkeld. Kenneth, with such chiefs as he could hastily collect together, met them at Luncarty, near Perth, where a furious conflict ensued. The right wing of the Scottish army was commanded by Malcolm, the Tanist, and Prince of Cumberland; the left by Duncan, the Maormor of Athol; while the centre was led by Kenneth himself. The contest was long and doubtful. The two wings of the Scottish army at first gave way before the Danes; but rallying behind the centre, they renewed the fight, and the Danes in their turn were compelled to yield. The result of this well-fought field freed for a time the shores of the Tay and Forth from the formidable foes who had so long infested them. Their incursions were renewed, however, during subsequent reigns. Indeed tradition even yet recollects with horror the various conflicts which the inhabitants of Fife had from time to time to maintain with the Danish rovers; and the Statistical accounts inform us that the skeletons, which have been on various occasions found upon the shore, from the river Leven to the eastern extremity of Largo bay, are regarded by the people the remains of the heroes who fell in these conflicts. During the reign of Duncan, who had ascended the Scottish throne in 1033, Sueno, king of Norway, said to have invaded Fife, and a sharp fight attended with considerable slaughter took place, in which the Norwegians obtained the victory. Some auxiliaries, under his brother Knute, are said to have arrived at Kinghorn, where they were vanquished by Banquo, Thane of Lochaber, many of their leaders slain, and the rest compelled to fly to their ships. These statements, however, are the invention of Boethius, and were unknown to Fordun, who preceded him. The short reign of Duncan is known to have been but little disturbed with foreign invasion, and Banquo, the thane of Lochaber, is a character unknown in real history. He is indebted to Boethius for his existence, and to Shakspeare for the celebrity which he has attained. Duncan was assassinated at Bothgowanan, near Elgin, by Macbeth,8 the Maormor of Ross.
After an arduous struggle of two years, Malcolm ascended the throne of his father Duncan; and was for some time occupied in rewarding those who had supported him in his efforts, and in gaining over those who had opposed him. We are told of his bounty to Macduff, who rendered him such signal service; but of its extent we have no direct evidence. It appears certain, however, that in very early times, the Maormors or Earls of Fife were entitled, 1st, to place the king of Scotland on the inaugural stone; 2d, to lead the van of the king’s army into battle; and, 3d, to enjoy the privilege of a sanctuary to the clan Macduff. During the reign of Edward the Confessor, Malcolm seems to have cultivated peace with England, while he had yet but a slight hold of the affections of his people; and in 1059 he is said even to have paid Edward a visit. In 1066 Tostig, the brother of Harold, found safety with Malcolm, after flying from Stanford-bridge; and in 1068 Edgar Ætheling with his sister Margaret, sought the same shelter from the cruelty of William the Norman. Shortly after her arrival Malcolm married this lady; and thus formed a connexion with the royal blood of the Saxon kings of England: see article DUNFERMLINE. Malcolm III., who had resided long in England, gave great encouragement to the settlement of Saxons in his dominions. His queen unquestionably brought several of her relations and domestics with her; the cruel policy of William the Conqueror drove many Saxons to seek refuge in Scotland; and Malcolm, during his incursions into Northumberland and Durham, carried away so many young men and women captive, that we are informed by an English historian, “that for many years they were to be found in every Scottish village, nay, in every Scottish hovel.” It must not be supposed, however, that this attempt at Saxon colonization had any great influence among the Celtic people of Scotland; for it appears that, at Malcolm’s death, great numbers of these strangers were driven from the country. It was during the subsequent reigns of Malcolm’s sons, and their immediate successors, that the Saxons and Normans began effectually to press back the Celtic people; and to introduce new manners and customs, and new laws. There is every reason to believe that during the reign of Malcolm, the east coast of Scotland had begun to enjoy the advantage of some trading intercourse with foreign nations, as he is said to have imported rich dresses for himself and his nobles. Agriculture, however, was yet in a rude state; and, notwithstanding that the forests of Scotland had been extensively destroyed by the Romans, they still covered large tracts in every district. In Fife the principal forests were those of Cardenie, Eweth, and Black-Ironside. From these the proprietors received a considerable source of revenue in the noble timber which they contained, and the deer and other animals of the chase with which they abounded. In many instances, however, large portions of the forests had been cleared, and brought under cultivation; but the savage animals which still infested the country, – the wolf, the bear, the wild boar, and the bison, – must have often proved destructive enemies to the husbandman.
The origin of the division of Scotland into counties or shires is not very distinctly marked; and indeed it appears to have taken place at different periods in the various districts of the country. The title of Earl, which was long associated with the jurisdiction of a county, is of Saxon origin; and could not therefore have been introduced until after the Saxon colonization had been pretty extensive. During Celtic times, the different divisions of the country appear to have been governed by chiefs, under the title of Maormor; and accordingly we have the Maormors of Ross, of Strathearn, of Moray, and of Fife. In subsequent times, these titles gave place to the Saxon title of Earl; and in imitation of the Saxon divisions, the shire was gradually introduced. Macduff, who lent his powerful assistance to Malcolm Canmore, is alleged to have been the 1st Earl of Fife: but it would be absurd to suppose that he, a Celtic chief, was ever designated by this Saxon title. He was Maormor of the district; and must have been a nobleman of great power and influence. The period of Macduff’s death is unknown; but he was succeeded, it is said, by his son Dufagan, who flourished in the reign of Alexander I., although many doubt his existence. Constantine succeeded, and has been styled by genealogists 3d Earl. He is said to have died in 1129, about five years after the accession of David I. to the throne. To Constantine succeeded his eldest son, Gillimichel Macduff, of whom Sibbald says, that he has found him witnessing many charters of David. He died in 1139. The next lord of this district is Duncan, who is said to have witnessed charters of David I. and Malcolm IV. In 1152, when Earl Henry died, Malcolm, his eldest son, who was then in his 11th year, was sent by his grandfather, in a solemn progress, under the guardianship of the Earl of Fife. David I. died in 1153, and Earl Duncan in the following year; after he had performed for the youthful Malcolm the ceremony of placing him on the inaugural stone, at his coronation. Duncan was succeeded by his son Duncan II., who is often named in charters of Malcolm IV. and William. He was, in 1175, associated with Richard Cumyn, who was invested with the office of Justiciarius Scotiæ, and married Ada, the niece of the king; with her he received the lands of Strathmiglo, Falkland, Kettle, and Rathillet in Fife, and of Strathbran in Perthshire. He died about 1203, so that he held the office of justiciary for 28 years. Malcolm, his son, married Matilda, daughter to the Earl of Strathearn, and received with her the lands of Glendevon, Carnbo, Adie, and Fossaway. It is during the reign of William that we first hear of a sheriff of Fife. Sheriffs appear south of the Forth in the reigns of Alexander I. and David I.; but it would appear that sheriffdoms had now begun to extend north of that river, and David de Wemyss is the first sheriff of Fife of whom we have any account.
“In the 17th year of Alexander III.,” says Hector Boethius, “there happened a most extraordinary inundation of the sea, especially on the firths of the Forth and Tay, which involved in a common destruction many towns and villages, and the inhabitants and their herds.” He is supported in his account of this deluge by Fordun, who mentions that it occurred on the evening of the feast of the 11,000 virgins [21st of October]. “A great wind,” he says, “arose from the north, and overwhelmed many houses and villages between the Tay and the Tweed. There never was such a deluge since the times of Noah, as appears from its traces at this day.”
Colbanus succeeded, in 1266, to the earldom of Fife, and died in 1270, leaving a son, Duncan, only eight years of age. After the death of Alexander III., who left his kingdom to his grand-daughter, the infant daughter of Eric, King of Norway, a regency was appointed in 1286, to govern the kingdom; and of these Duncan Earl of Fife, the son of Colbanus, now come of age, was named one. He did not long, however, fill his important office, for he was assassinated on the 25th of September, 1288, at a place called Petpollock, by Sir Patrick Abernethy and Sir Walter Percy, who had been instigated to the deed by Sir William Abermethy. At the coronation of Baliol, the Earl of Fife was still a minor, in consequence of which he could not perform the usual ceremony of placing the new king on the regal stone at Scone. He was thus saved the degradation of installing a king who had betrayed his country, and who, for the sake of attaining the Crown, had compromised the independence of an ancient kingdom. During the reign of Baliol, Johannes de Valloniis was sheriff of the county of Fife. In 1298, Edward having returned from Flanders, summoned the Scottish barons to attend a parliament at York, – an order which they had the spirit to refuse to obey. The consequence was the invasion of Scotland, both by sea and land, and the immediate landing of a body of English on the northern coast of Fife. These, however, were attacked by Wallace on the 12th of June, and completely defeated in the forest of Black-Ironside, or Earnside, near Lindores. In this battle Sir Duncan Balfour, Sheriff of Fife, who with the men of the county had joined Wallace, was killed. This Sir Duncan Balfour would appear to have succeeded Johannes de Valloniis, who held the office under Baliol. Immediately after the battle of Falkirk, Edward sent a division of his army across the Forth, into the shires of Clackmannan and Fife, which ravaged the country and burned the villages in the course of its destructive march. Fife, in consequence of the resistance made at Falkirk by Macduff and his vassals, was particularly obnoxious, and was delivered over to military execution. In the words of Hardyne, all was “clene brent.” The city of St. Andrews was deserted by its inhabitants, and delivered over to the flames. In 1303, Edward having been freed from those foreign wars which for several years had divided his attention, again turned his whole energies against Scotland. He marched a powerful army into the north, which the Scots were utterly unable to oppose. On his return, he arrived at Dunfermline on the 11th of December, where he was joined by his queen, and remained, making visits to different places in the country, during the remainder of the winter. “In that place,” says Matthew of Westminster, an English historian, “there was an abbey of the Benedictine order, a building so spacious that three sovereigns, with all their retinue, might have been lodged conveniently within its precincts.” Edward, with savage ferocity, caused his soldiers utterly to destroy the splendid buildings of this monastery.
A feeble show of resistance had till now been kept up by Comyn the governor; but he also was at length compelled to submit. At Strathore in Fife – obviously some place on the Ore water – he met with the earls of Pembroke and Ulster, and Sir Henry Percy, when a solemn negociation was entered into. The number of those who joined the standard of Bruce was but few. The bishop of St. Andrews, however, and Robert Wishart, bishop of Glasgow, were among the first to give the example. Bruce proceeded immediately to Scone, where, upon the 27th of March, 1306, he was solemnly crowned by Lamberton. On the second day after the coronation, and before Bruce and his adherents had left Scone, they were surprised by the sudden arrival of Isabella, Countess of Buchan, the sister of the Earl of Fife, who immediately claimed the privilege of placing the king on the inaugural chair. This right, as has been stated, had belonged to the earls of Fife from the time of Malcolm Canmore; but the young Earl, though now of age, was of the English party, and at the court of Edward. His sister, therefore, a romantic and high-spirited woman, leaving her husband, joined Bruce, and claimed the privilege of her family. This ancient solemnity was of too much consequence in the eyes of the people for Bruce to refuse the lady’s request; and accordingly, he was a second time installed in the sacred chair, by the hands of the Countess. Duncan, during the memorable year in which his sister maintained the ancient privilege of her race, was married to Mary de Monthermer, niece to Edward. He is styled by Sibbald the 12th earl; but it is obvious that this is a mistake, and that he should, even according to his computation, have only been the 11th. The Duncan whom Sibbald styles the 11th, it has been demonstrated by Lord Hailes, never could have existed. In 1317, Edward fitted out a fleet, and sailing into the frith of Forth, landed his troops at Donnybristle in Fife. The fighting men of the county would appear at this time to have still been with Douglas, who was then ravaging the English borders; for a general panic was created by this invasion, and the sheriff of the county had great difficulty in gathering together a force of 500 cavalry. With these he made an attempt to repel the invasion, but, intimidated by the superior numbers of the enemy, the sheriff’s soldiers disgracefully took to flight. A spirited churchman, however, Sinclair, Bishop of Dunkeld, who had, like others of his time, as much of the soldier as the ecclesiastic about him, received notice of this desertion. Putting himself at the head of sixty of his servants, and with nothing ecclesiastical in his dress except a linen frock or rochet cast over his armour, he threw himself on horseback, and rode off to meet the fugitives. “Whither are you flying?” said he, addressing their leaders, when he came among them. “Ye are recreant knights, and ought to have your spurs hacked off!” He then seized a spear from the nearest soldier, and calling out, “Turn for shame! let all who love Scotland follow me!” he furiously charged the English. Encouraged by his brave example, the Fifemen instantly rallied, and the attack was renewed. The English, who had not yet completed their landing, speedily gave way, and were driven back to their ships with the loss of 500 men, besides many who were drowned by the swamping of one of the vessels. On his return from Ireland, Bruce highly commended the spirit which Sinclair had shown, and declared that he should be his own bishop. Under the appellation of the king’s bishop, this brave churchman was long afterwards affectionately remembered by his countrymen.9 A son was born to the king at Dunfermline on the 5th of March, 1323, who, after a long minority, succeeded his father as David II. The poets of the time foretold of this prince, that, like his illustrious father, he would prove a man strong in arms, “who would hold his warlike revels amid the gardens of England;” a compliment which, however, it might flatter the royal parents at the time, was unfortunately not destined to be prophetic. During the period of the invasion of England in 1327, under Randolph, Earl of Moray, and Sir James Douglas, the Earl of Pembroke landed in Fife, and stormed the castle of Leuchars. In 1329, the great Bruce, now broken down, not so much from age as from the effects of the labours and fatigues he had encountered during the early part of his varied career, died at Cardross; and was buried with great state and solemnity under the pavement of the choir in the Abbey-church of Dunfermline. A rich and splendid marble monument which had been made at Paris was erected over the grave. At the battle of Halidon-hill the Earl of Fife had again changed sides, and with his vassals fought in defence of his country. The carnage among the Scots at this battle was immense; and the probability is that the Earl of Fife was killed here. Sibbald says he was killed in 1332, but this is obviously a mistake, as he was taken prisoner at Dupplin moor, and again at Perth in that year. He was succeeded by his son Duncan, who was the last Earl of Fife, in the male line of their great ancestor Macduff. Notwithstanding the state to which the country was reduced after the defeat at Halidon-hill, several fortresses were still held out for David Bruce, and among these the castle of Loch Leven in Kinross, which was governed by Allan de Vipont. The Scottish regents, the Earl of Moray, and Douglas the knight of Liddisdale, encouraged by the successes they had gained, in 1335 called a parliament to meet at Dairsie in Fife. This strong castle, which was the residence of the bailies of the regality of St. Andrews, and which had been built or greatly strengthened by Lamberton, bishop of that see, was selected by the regents, not only from its security but from its retired situation, for the seat of this parliament, from the deliberations and resolutions of which great expectations were formed. It was attended by many powerful Scottish barons, but the overweening pride and ambition of the Earl of Athol embroiled its deliberations, and kindled animosities among the leaders. The Earl of Athol having made his pacification with Edward, was appointed regent under Baliol; but the few brave men who still maintained their independence, made choice of Sir Andrew Murray of Bothwell, the companion of Wallace, as their leader, and by him the Earl of Athol was attacked and slain. A parliament was then held at Dunfermline, at which Sir Andrew was unanimously chosen regent. On learning these events, Edward again invaded Scotland, wasting the country wherever he went; and for the purpose of more effectually keeping down the spirit of resistance, he maintained a powerful fleet in the frith of Forth, as well as on the east and west coasts. Sir Andrew Murray, upon Edward’s departure, issued from his fastnesses, and several of the castles in possession of the English were wrested from them; among these were the castle of St. Andrews and the tower of Falkland. Assisted by the earls of Fife and March, the regent made himself master of both the town and castle of St. Andrews, after a siege of three weeks. In 1338, Scotland lost one of her best and truest supporters. The regent, now advanced in years, and worn-out with the fatigues of the constant warfare in which he had been engaged, died, and was buried in the abbey of Dunfermline, where Bruce and Randolph had been already interred. The command of the Scottish army now fell upon the Steward; and shortly afterwards he obtained, by the treachery of its defender, possession of the castle of Cupar, which the late regent had in vain attempted by force. By the exertions of the Steward the English were driven from the country, with the exception of some of the places of strength; and taking advantage of a short peace, he used every endeavour for the re-establishment of order and the distribution of justice. Industry began to revive, and by 1341, Bower says, the kingdom began to breathe anew: the husbandman was again seen at the plough, and the priest at the altar. In 1371, David died in the castle of Edinburgh; and the Steward ascended the throne under the title of Robert II. Betwixt 1353 and 1356, Duncan, Earl of Fife, died. He had been liberated from his imprisonment in England, previous to 1350, in which year, in fulfilment of a vow which he had previously made, he mortified the church of Auchtermuchty, to the monastery of Lindores. He was succeeded in his lands and honours by his daughter Isabella, who first married William Ramsay, who appears as Earl of Fife in 1356, having no doubt been created so on his marriage with the Countess. Her second husband was Walter Stuart, second son of Robert II. by Elizabeth More, daughter of More of Rowallan; and, for a third husband, she had Thomas Bisset, to whom David II. gives a charter in the thirty-fourth year of his reign, 1362, granting to him and his heirs male by Isabella, his Countess, the earldom of Fife, with all its pertinents. The Countess had no children by any of these three husbands, and appears, in consequence, to have been prevailed upon to resign the earldom of Fife to Robert Stuart, brother to her second husband, who was Earl of Menteith in right of his wife, and afterwards Duke of Albany, and regent of the kingdom during the absence of James I. During the early part of the reign of David II. we find John de Balfour, sheriff of Fife; and about 1360 David de Wemyss held that office. Up to this period, and indeed for fifty years afterwards, the sheriff held his courts in the open air, upon what was formerly called the Cam-hill, now the Moot-hill, at Cupar.
Robert II., the first of the family of Stewart who ascended the throne, was crowned king of Scotland in March 1371, with great solemnity, by the archbishop of St. Andrews. The male line of the ancient earls of Fife having, as already mentioned, become extinct; and Robert, the second son of the king, having succeeded to the earldom by agreement with the heiress of the last Earl Duncan, it is probable that the ancient ceremony of placing the king on the inaugural stone, which had arisen from the privileges granted by Malcolm Canmore to Macduff, was now omitted for the first time. In 1385, France, anxious to attack England on her own ground, sent an expedition to Scotland under John de Vienne, Admiral of France, for the purpose of co-operating with the Scots. This experienced leader arrived in the Forth with 1,000 knights, esquires, and men-at-arms, the flower of the French army, besides a body of cross-bowmen and common soldiers, forming altogether an army of 2,000 men. He carried also with him 1,400 suits of armour for the Scottish knights, and 50,000 francs of gold, to be paid on his arrival to King Robert and his nobles. The French men were warmly welcomed by the Scottish barons; and every endeavour made to accommodate them with lodgings. This, however, was impossible to be effected in Edinburgh, and many of them were therefore lodged in Dunfermline, and other towns on both sides of the Forth. Loud and grievous outcries arose, in consequence, from the burgesses, farmers, and yeomen of Fife and the Lothians; and this dissatisfaction was increased by the behaviour of the French, who assumed a superiority of demeanour which the Scots could not tolerate. Various methods were adopted by the men of Fife and their neighbours on the other side of the Forth to get quit of their guests. All this is described by Froissart in his usual graphic and pleasant manner. “What evil spirit hath brought you here?” said the Scottish burgesses and peasantry to their unwelcome allies. “Who sent for you? Cannot we maintain our war with England well enough without your help? Pack up your goods and begone, for no good will be done as long as ye are here! We neither understand you, nor you us. We cannot communicate together; and in a short time we shall be completely rifled and eaten up by such troops of locusts. What signifies a war with England? The English never occasioned such mischief as ye do. They burned our houses, it is true; but that was all; and with four or five stakes, and plenty of green boughs to cover them, they were rebuilt almost as soon as they were destroyed.” The French, however, were ill-treated by deeds as well as words. The country-people rose upon them, attacked and cut off their foraging parties; and before a month, a hundred of their men were slain, till at length none of them ventured to leave their lodgings. The Earl of Fife, accompanied by the Earl of Douglas, and by Archibald, Lord of Galloway, made an incursion at the head of 30,000 men across the Solway, and plundered the rich district of Cockermouth and the adjacent parts of Westmoreland, returning with great booty. King Robert was fifty-five years of age at his coronation; and at that time had lost much of the spirit of enterprise which he had possessed in his younger days. With his age, his indolence and his dislike to business increased, till at length the necessity of appointing a regent became apparent. John, Earl of Carrick, the heir to the Crown, had received a severe injury by a kick from a horse, and from bodily weakness was unable to execute the duties of such an office. The Earl of Fife, the king’s second son, was therefore – more of necessity than choice – appointed regent of the kingdom in a parliament which was held at Edinburgh in 1389; and the king most willingly gave up farther interference in public affairs. The regent was an ambitious and designing man; and seems to have possessed a deep selfishness, which, if its objects were attained, scrupled little as to the means used for the purpose of attaining them. Agriculture seems to have been in a very deplorable condition in Scotland during the greater part of Robert’s reign; a fact which may be attributed to the frequent interruptions of labour by foreign invasion, and the havoc which necessarily attended the march of even a Scottish army through the country. The isolated situation of Fife, however, must have caused it to suffer less in this respect than the fertile districts lying on the south side of the Forth, which were on all occasions exposed to both the invading and defending armies. Commerce was on the increase; and the trade from the towns on the east coast with Flanders was conducted with enterprise and activity. A Scottish merchant of this reign, named Mercer, who had occasion for some time to reside in France, was in consequence of his great wealth admitted to the confidence and favour of the French sovereign. The cargo of a Scottish ship taken by the English was valued at 7,000 marks, – a very extraordinary sum when the period is considered. The home-manufactures, we learn from Froissart, who travelled in the country, were at this time in a very low condition; but this was to be expected, from the same causes which depressed agriculture. The principal exports still continued to be wool, hides, skins, and wool fells.
Robert III., who was crowned in August, 1390, and who possessed much of the character of his father, continued to intrust his brother, the Earl of Fife, with the government of the kingdom. At a parliament held at Perth in April, 1398, the king created his eldest son David, Earl of Carrick, Duke of Rothsay, and his brother, the Earl of Fife, Duke of Albany.10 Rothsay, now past his twentieth year, did not long submit to be governed by, or kept under the control of his uncle, Albany; and, before a year had expired, Albany was removed from the government, by a parliament held at Perth, and the Duke of Rothsay appointed regent in his stead, under the direction of a council of which Albany formed one. For the success which crowned this scheme, the unfortunate Duke of Rothsay was destined soon to pay very dearly; and the county of Fife was to be made the scene of an occurrence which, for barbarous cruelty, was totally unexampled even amid the “great and horrible destructions, herschips, burning, and slaughter,” which the acts of parliament that appointed him regent declare to have been so common at this time. This was the plot which ended in the cruel death of that unhappy prince, at FALKLAND: which see. Albany was chosen regent by a parliament which assembled at Perth in 1407, – a declaration having been first made, that the Crown belonged of right to James, Earl of Carrick, then a captive in England, who was their lawful king. Peace with England was an important object with the regent; and although this proceeded from selfish motives, the period of quiet which ensued was extremely beneficial to Scotland.
The intercourse with England which was now going on, led to an attempt to propagate in Scotland the doctrines of Wycliffe the English reformer; and the flames of religious persecution were now to be kindled by the supporters of the Catholic faith. An English priest, named John Resby, appeared in Scotland in 1407, and was very active in propagating the doctrines of the reformer. For some time he remained unnoticed, but at length the truth, the boldness, and the novelty of his opinions roused the fears of the clergy. He was seized by Lawrence, abbot of Lindores, an eminent doctor of theology, and imprisoned at St. Andrews; after which he was brought before a council of the clergy, where this inquisitor was the presiding judge. He was accused of holding forty different heretical opinions; amongst which were, – his denying the Pope to be the vicar of Christ, or the successor of St. Peter, and that none could claim to be so who a wicked life, – and a contemptuous opinion of utility of penances and auricular confession. Resby was considered by the people an excellent preacher, but his eloquence had little effect on his judges. His written opinions, and the arguments with he supported them, were triumphantly confuted by Lawrence of Lindores; and this brave and good advocate for the truth and simplicity of the doctrines of Christ was condemned to the flames, and delivered over to the secular power for punishment. He was burned at Perth, with all his books and writings, in the year 1408. This is the first example of martyrdom for religious opinions in the history of the Scottish church; and it was followed by the usual effects of such exhibitions – increased zeal on the part those who had adopted the denounced opinions. The regent had encouraged the persecution of Resby; and it is not unlikely that among the opinions of this reformer, there were some which regarded the origin and nature of the power of the civil magistrate and the rights of the people, which were disagreeable to his ears. In 1411, the university of St. Andrews was founded by the learned and worthy prelate Henry Wardlaw, Bishop of that see. To this good man belongs the immortal honour of having founded the first university in his native country- of being, as it were, the father of the infant literature of Scotland. The lady Doverguil, the wife of John Baliol, had established Baliol college in the University Oxford, in the 13th century; and a Bishop of Moray had instituted the Scots college at Paris in 1326. It was reserved, however, for the enlightened understanding of Henry Wardlaw to afford the means of education to his youthful countrymen, without their being under the necessity of visiting foreign countries for the purpose of obtaining it. The names the first professors have been preserved, and are worthy of being here repeated. Lawrence of Lindores – whose zeal for the Catholic faith has so recently been noticed – explained the fourth book of the Sentences of Peter Lombard. Richard Cornel, Archdeacon of Lothian, John Litstar, Canon of St. Andrews, John Sheviz, Official of St. Andrews, and William Stevens, afterwards Bishop of Dunblane, expounded the doctrines of the canon law, from its simplest elements to its most profound speculations. John Gill, William Fowles, and William Crosier, delivered lectures on philosophy and logic. These learned persons began their labours in 1411; but it was not till 1413, that the university received the full sanction and authority of the Pope.
James and his queen were crowned at Scone in 1424; nor was the ancient ceremony of placing him on the inaugural stone omitted. This was performed by the late governor, Murdoch, Duke of Albany, as Earl of Fife. Henry Wardlaw, Bishop of St. Andrews, the faithful prelate to whom his early education had been committed, had the satisfaction of anointing his royal master with the consecrated oil, and placing the crown upon his head. Soon after this, the Duke of Albany, his second son Alexander, and his father-in-law, the aged Earl of Lennox, were tried, found guilty, and executed on that fatal eminence in front of Stirling castle, popularly called the Heading-hill. The earldom of Fife, with all its manors and castles, were forfeited to the Crown; and the castle of Falkland, which had been so long a principal residence of the ancient race of Macduff, now became a royal palace. – Notwithstanding the martyrdom of Resby, and the laws passed by James, at the instigation of the clergy, against heretics and Lollards, there were still many who secretly held these opinions. This seems to have become known to the citizens of Prague, who had adopted the tenets of Wickliffe; and they became desirous of opening up an intercourse with their brethren in Scotland. They accordingly sent for this purpose Paul Crawar, a Bohemian; he was a physician, and came to Scotland with letters which spoke highly of his eminence in his art. Undaunted by the fate of Resby, he seized every opportunity of disseminating the genuine declarations of the Bible, and of attacking the erroneous doctrines of the established church. Lawrence of Lindores, the arch-inquisitor, immediately arraigned him before his court, and entered into a laboured refutation of his doctrines; but in Crawar he found a courageous and acute opponent. Deeply read in the sacred Scriptures, and having the power of quick and appropriate quotation, he was skilful in debate, and the inquisitor found the discussion no easy task. The Bible, Crawar maintained, ought to be freely communicated to the people; in a temporal kingdom, he argued, the civil ruler should be above the spiritual power, and magistrates have a right to try and punish delinquent ecclesiastics and prelates. He declared purgatory to be a fable, – the efficacy of pilgrimages an imposition, – the power of the keys, the doctrine of transubstantiation, and the ceremony of absolution, – delusions and inventions of man. In the celebration of the Lord’s supper, he and his adherents had departed entirely from the gorgeous and unmeaning ceremonies of the established church, and performed it with greater simplicity. Lawrence of Lindores, although he might be unable to confute, found no difficulty in his way in bringing to trial, and condemning the Bohemian physician; and as he refused to renounce his opinions, he was burned at St. Andrews, giving up his life for the truth with cheerful yet subdued resolution.
Kennedy, Bishop of St. Andrews, who had been the careful guardian, and afterwards the wise counsellor of James II., was intrusted with the chief management of affairs after his death; and certainly the choice could not have fallen on one better fitted for the task, either from probity, talents, or experience. But his death, which had been preceded by that of the queen-mother, left the kingdom again, exposed to turbulence and misrule. This prelate was in every respect a remarkable man; his charity was munificent, active, and discriminating; and his religion as little tinctured with bigotry or superstition as the times in which he lived would allow. His zeal for literature was amply made apparent by the noble college (St. Salvator’s) which he founded at St. Andrews in 1456, and which he very richly endowed out of his revenues. Patrick Graham, the uterine brother of Kennedy, a worthy man, and a prelate of primitive simplicity, was chosen to succeed him; but this was opposed by the Boyds, and by Sheviz, the archdeacon of St. Andrews, a talented, but unprincipled man, who had obtained great influence over the royal mind by his skill in judicial astrology. Sheviz procured him to be declared insane, and obtained the custody of his person. He was confined first in Inchcolm, and afterwards in the castle of Loch Leven, where he died, whereupon Sheviz received the object of his guilty ambition, in being promoted to the vacant see. – Scotland, during a great part of the reign of James III., enjoyed the advantage of peace with England but in 1480, a squadron of English ships appeared in the frith of Forth. These were bravely attacked, and repulsed by Andrew Wood, then of Leith, who was now beginning to rise into eminence. This great naval commander had previously rendered many services to James, both by sea and land, in peace and in war; for on the 18th of March, 1483, he received from the king a charter under the great seal, which on these grounds, and in particular for his eminent services in the defence of Dunbarton, when the English came to besiege it, granted to him and his heirs in fee, the lands and village of Largo in Fife. This charter was confirmed by James IV. in 1497. Among other barons who rallied round the standard of James III. on the revolt of the nobles, was David, Lord Lindsay of the Byres, a veteran commander great talent and loyalty, who had served in the French wars. He appeared with a body of 3,000 footmen and 1,000 horse, which he had assembled in Fife and Angus, – the latter forming the principal chivalry of these counties. In the battle which followed, and which was fought on the celebrated field of Bamnockburn, in June 1488, these levies, under the Earl of Crawford, formed the centre-division of the army, which was commanded by the king in person. The army of James was much inferior in numbers to that of his opponents, yet they fought with bravery and determination. Their efforts, however, were vain, they were finally defeated, and the unfortunate monarch was obliged to seek safety in flight. Falling from his horse, he was much bruised by the weight of his armour, and was carried into a miller’s cottage at a hamlet called Milton, where he was basely murdered, it is said, by a priest in the service of Lord Gray, one of the rebel lords. Wood refused for a time to give in his adherence to James IV. This, however, he at length did; and he ultimately became as loyal a servant and as great a favourite with the son, as he had previously been with the father. In the first parliament which met after the accession of James IV., a new arrangement was made for the preservation of the peace of the country, under which the care of the county of Fife was committed to Lord Lindsay of the Byres, and the sheriff of the county. The reign of James IV. was certainly the most brilliant period in the history of Scotland while a separate kingdom. The king patronised the useful arts and sciences, and in particular, navigation, which had hitherto been rather neglected by the Scottish monarchs. In the latter he was no doubt both assisted and encouraged by his brave commander, the knight of Largo, who had already done much to render the Scottish flag respected, and was destined still farther to increase its fame. England had begun to claim the naval pre-eminence it has now so long held, and its privateers had often made the trade of Scotland feel their power. Indeed the ships of England appear often to have entered the frith of Forth, and even there to have captured and plundered Scottish merchantmen.11 The success which had uniformly attended the naval enterprises of Wood, appears to have excited in James an ambition for possessing a fleet which should render Scotland more powerful at sea than she had ever been under her previous kings. Yet, although he used every exertion for this purpose, he was not always successful in his endeavours, nor in the means which he employed. Utility was sometimes sacrificed to splendour, and certainly never more evidently than in the building of a ship, called the Great Michael, of such enormous dimensions that Francis I. and Henry VIII. laboured in vain to imitate it.12
The Scottish kings had always maintained their right to nominate to vacant sees and abbacies, notwithstanding the Papal pretensions to this power. But the minority of James V. seems to have occasioned applications to Leo X., who then occupied the papal chair, with regard to the vacant benefice of St. Andrews. The queen-dowager supported the claim of her own relation, Gawin Douglas, afterwards bishop of Dunkeld, and one of the early ornaments of Scottish literature. His servants had seized possession of the archiepiscopal castle at St. Andrews, and he for a brief period maintained that fortress. The chapter of St. Andrews met, in the mean time, and elected Hepburn, the Prior, to the office, who immediately besieged the castle, and being favoured by most of the nobility, gained possession of it. The Earl of Angus, who favoured the claim of his kinsman, the excellent Douglas, set off with 200 horse to rescue this important fortress from the archbishop-elect; but he was too late in arriving, and Hepburn for a short time held the castle, and nominally the rank of primate of Scotland. To put an end to this unseemly dispute, the Duke of Albany obtained the dignity to be conferred on Andrew Forman, Bishop of Moray, an artful and avaricious prelate. In 1522 the see of St. Andrews became vacant by the death of Archbishop Forman, and James Beaton, the Bishop of Glasgow, who had been chancellor of the kingdom, received the appointment. In September, 1526, the Douglases having defeated their opponents at Linlithgow, advanced into Fife, and pillaged the abbey of Dunfermline, and afterwards the castle of St. Andrews; but the Archbishop had fled. “They could not find the Bishop,” says Lindsay of Pitscottie, “for he was keeping sheep on Bogrian-knowe, with shepherd’s clothes upon him, like as he had been a shepherd himself.” By gifts, however – which his wealth well-enabled him to bestow – the primate of St. Andrews effected an apparent reconciliation with Angus; and at the festival of Christmas, in 1527, he entertained the king, the queen-dowager, Angus, and others of the Douglas party, at his castle of St. Andrews. There, says Lindsay, he “made them great cheer and merriness, and gave them great gifts of gold and silver, with fair halkneys and other gifts of tacks and steedings, that they would desire of him, that he might pacify their wrath therewith, and obtain their favours. So the king tarried there a while quiet, and used hawking and hunting upon the water of Eden.” – When, in 1538, a second marriage was contracted betwixt James V. and Mary of Guise, daughter of the Duke of Guise, and widow of the Duke of Longueville, conducted by an admiral of France and the Lord Maxwell, this princess left her native shores, and landed at Balcomie, near Fifeness, from which she proceeded on horseback, towards St. Andrews, where the king, with many of his nobles, was then residing. Hearing of her arrival, he immediately rode forth to meet her, accompanied by his nobles, several dignified clergymen, and many barons, lairds, and gentlemen, all magnificently dressed. A splendid pageant had been prepared, after the quaint fashion of the times, by Sir David Lindsay of the Mount, the Lord-lyon, in honour of her. At the abbey gate a triumphal arch was erected, beneath which she had to pass; and above it was a painting representing a cloud. On her approach the cloud opened, “and there appeared,” says Lindsay of Pitscottie, “a fair lady most like an angel, having the keys of Scotland in her hands, and delivered them to the queen, in sign and token that all the hearts of Scotland were open to receive her Grace.” An oration was then delivered to her by Sir David Lindsay, “instructing her,” says the same curious historian, “to love her God, obey her husband, and keep herself chaste, according to God’s will and commandments.” She then passed on to the palace, which had been prepared for her, and “which was well decored against her coming.” The ceremonies of religion were not wanting on this great occasion. High mass was performed in the church: several bishops, abbots, priors, monks, friars, and canons-regular assisting at the ceremony. The queen dined with the king in the palace where he had been residing, and the remaining part of the day was spent in festivity and mirth. Next morning, the queen made a progress through the city, and examined the cathedral, the monasteries, and the three colleges. The provost and “the honest burgesses” were introduced to her, and she was attended, as on the former day, by the king, the nobles, and the gentry who had come to welcome her. After the marriage-ceremony had been performed with great pomp, the day was again spent in amusement; and the festivities were continued at St. Andrews for forty days. In the mornings the amusements were, jousting in the lists, archery, hunting, and hawking; and in the evenings, dancing, singing, masking, and plays. In little more than a year after this festive occasion, James Beaton, the proud prelate of St. Andrews, and the determined enemy of the Reformation, died. But this proved no respite to the persecution of the reformers; for he was succeeded in his office by his nephew David Beaton, who perished at last by the hands of the avenger of blood, as related in the article ST ANDREWS.
The length of time which the murderers of Beaton had been enabled to hold out the castle of St. Andrews against the regent, and the armistice which they had secured for themselves, had a very favourable effect on the progress of the Reformation, as it enabled them to afford protection to several of the Protestant preachers. Among these John Rough, originally a monk, had acted as chaplain to the garrison, and was met there by John Knox, the great apostle of the Reformation, when he visited the castle after the conclusion of the armistice. It was here that, on the suggestion of Rough, Knox was first called to the ministry, and first began publicly to deliver his addresses on the antichristian nature of the Papal power. Sir David Lindsay of the Mount, and Henry Balnaves of Halhill, were among the eminent reformers, who, although innocent of any connection with the death of the Cardinal, had been forced to seek refuge in the castle. Sir David’s tragedy of Cardinal Beaton is said by Chalmers to have been written in 1546, and the probability is, that it was written in the castle. In 1559 John Knox made a preaching-tour in Fifeshire. He preached at Crail, and, as at Perth, the effect of his discourse was, that the people pulled down the altars, images, and all other monuments of idolatry in the town. At Anstruther his preaching produced the same effect; and he then determined that the cathedral of Saint Andrews should be the next theatre of his exertions. The Archbishop, with 100 men-at-arms, threatened to destroy him if he made the attempt. The Regent with her French troops was Falkland, a distance of about 18 miles. His friends, therefore, afraid for his safety, endeavoured to persuade him against the attempt; but neither threats, danger, nor friendship could prevail. He declared that he could not in conscience decline preaching, and that he would preach, whatever the result might be. The Archbishop, fearing the result, left the city on the morning of the day on which Knox had determined to preach, and proceeded to Falkland to the Regent, that he might represent to her the necessity of effectually resisting the lawless proceedings of the enemies of the church. Before the evening of that day the fervid eloquence of Knox had its usual effect. All classes of the people, even the very magistrates, were excited; and the most magnificent of cathedrals, already time hallowed, and on which the wealth of provinces had been expended, was laid in ruins. The other churches were also deprived of their ornaments and decorations, and the monasteries of the Franciscans and Dominicans destroyed. The Regent, although not altogether reconciled to the Archbishop, listened with interest to the account he gave of the excesses which had been committed; and the necessity of exertions being made to repress farther outrage, produced a reconciliation between them. To anticipate the Congregation – who had not yet called together the force they had so lately dismissed – the Regent immediately issued a mandate for collecting her own troops, and sent messengers to the adherents of the government in Fife, requesting them to assemble with their followers at Cupar. The lords of the Congregation were equally urgent in their measures. Earnest representations were despatched to their friends for assistance; and they instantly marched for Cupar, although only attended by a hundred cavalry, and the same number of infantry. No time was lost by their adherents in flying to their aid, and by the following morning they were joined by an army of three thousand men, many of whom had come from distant counties. Lord Ruthven brought to them all the men he could possibly muster; the Earl of Rothes, hereditary sheriff of Fife, declared in their favour; the towns of St. Andrews and Dundee sent their most effective men; and Cupar poured forth its population to defend itself and aid the general cause. An army had also been collected by the Regent at Falkland, which marching from thence early on the morning of the 13th June, 1559, encamped upon an eminence in the neighbourhood of Cupar, called the Garliebank. The Congregation stationed their troops – the command of which had been assigned to Halyburton, the provost of Dundee – on the high ground called Cupar-muir, to the west of the town; and so posted their ordnance as to command the surrounding country. Their little army was disposed so as to appear to the best advantage, and to consist of a greater force than it really did. Lord Ruthven with the cavalry formed the van; the main body, commanded by the other lords, and consisting of troops collected in Fife, Angus, Mearns, and the Lothians, formed the centre. The rear was composed of the burgesses of Dundee, St. Andrews, and Cupar. Behind them, at some distance, the servants and followers of the camp were so placed as to give them the appearance of an auxiliary band. The army of the Regent consisted of 2,000 Frenchmen, under D’Oysel, and about 1,000 native soldiers, commanded by the Duke of Chatelherault. The small river Eden, winding through the low marshy ground which divided the eminences on which they were respectively stationed, separated the two armies, which for some time during the morning were rendered almost invisible to each other by a thick fog which rose from the river and marshy ground. The commanders of the royal force, when they left Falkland, had had no idea that they would meet with opposition; and were therefore much astonished when they learned the strength of the army the lords of the Congregation had brought against them, and the skilfully selected position which it occupied. A truce for eight days was after considerable discussion agreed to, on the condition that the French troops – with the exception of a small number who had lain for some time in the towns of Dysart, Kirkcaldy, and Kinghorn – should immediately be transported into Lothian; and that, before the expiration of the eight days, the Regent should send certain noblemen to St. Andrews, to adjust finally with the lords of the Congregation the articles of an effectual peace. This truce, made at Garliebank, was subscribed by the Duke of Chatelherault and D’Oysel, for the Regent; and the Regent so far kept her word on this occasion that she sent her French troops and artillery across the Forth; but the reformers waited in vain at St. Andrews for the appearance of the commissioners. During this time the Protestant inhabitants of Perth endured the greatest sufferings from the garrison which had been left there. The Regent was respectfully but earnestly requested to withdraw this garrison, according to her previous agreement to do so, but no attention was paid to the request. It was therefore resolved to expel the garrison by force, and thus to relieve the inhabitants of the fair city. The lords of the Congregation buckled on their armour; and again the men of Fife, Angus, Mearns, and Strathearn, formed an army, and, in the month of June, marched upon Perth. The Earl of Huntly, chancellor of the kingdom, now hastened to entreat the lords to delay besieging the town for a few days; but he was told that it would not be delayed even an hour; and that if one single Protestant should be killed in the assault, the garrison should be put indiscriminately to the sword. The garrison were twice summoned to surrender, but they refused to do so; and the batteries of the Congregation were opened upon the town. At last the garrison offered to surrender within twelve hours, upon condition that they were allowed to retire with military honours. These terms were accepted, and the town was thus restored to its liberties, and the exercise of the reformed religion, without blood being shed. Excited by this success, and learning that the Bishop of Moray, against whom they had a peculiar dislike, on account of his activity in bringing Walter Mill to the stake, was at Scone, a number of the reformers went to that abbey to express by acts of violence their feelings toward him. The leaders used every exertion to preserve the building in which so many of the Scottish kings had been crowned, but in vain. Even the eloquence of Knox, who here exerted himself to preserve the buildings, was unavailing. The palace and abbey were destroyed; and while the flames were ascending, an old woman was heard to exclaim:- “See now, the judgments of God are just! No authority is able to save where He will punish.”
A Frenchman, of the name of Chatelard, a gentleman, a soldier, a scholar, and a poet, had visited Scotland in the train of Mons. d’Amville, at the time of Mary’s arrival from France. After his return to his own country, he had thought proper again to visit Scotland, where he arrived in November, 1562; and as he had letters from several of her friends and relations, he was well received by the Queen. He continued at court till the 12th of February, 1562-3, when he was discovered concealed in the Queen’s bed-chamber, having his sword and dagger with him. The circumstance was concealed from the Queen till the morning, but on learning it, she commanded him to leave the court; and immediately afterwards she left Edinburgh for Dunfermline, where she remained all night. On the 14th she went to Bruntisland, where she slept. Chatelard, notwithstanding the commands of the Queen, followed her to Fife, and arrived in Bruntisland the same day. On her retiring to her chamber for the night, Chatelard forced his way in immediately after her, and presented himself before her, for the purpose, as he said, of clearing himself from the imputation made against him for his previous conduct. The Queen instantly called out for help, and the Earl of Murray entered. Mary, in her agitation, desired Murray to put his dagger into him, but he ordered him into confinement, reserving him to be punished in due course of law. The chancellor, the justice-clerk, and other counsellors, were sent for from Edinburgh, and a few days afterwards the wretched man was tried and condemned at St. Andrews. On the 22d of February he was executed there, “reading over on the scaffold,” says Brantome, “Ronsard’s Hymn on Death, as the only preparation for the fatal stroke.” During the time of this trial and execution, Mary resided at St. Andrews. She had left Bruntisland for Falkland the day after the occurrence with Chatelard. On the 16th she dined at Cupar, and the same evening proceeded to St. Andrews, where she remained till the 18th of March. While there she was much grieved at hearing of the assassination of her uncle, the Duke of Guise; and to relieve her melancholy she went to Falkland, where she enjoyed the sports of the field for some days, after which she returned to St. Andrews, dining at Cupar both in going and returning. Leaving St. Andrews she returned to Falkland on the 3d of April, where, as well as at Lochleven, she spent some time in hunting and hawking. On the 15th of April, 1563, she left Lochleven, and dining at Strathhenry, rode to Falkland. Next day she dined at Newark, and in the evening she proceeded to Cupar, where she remained all night. In the afternoon of the 17th, she left Cupar for St. Andrews, where she continued to reside till the 16th of May. A great part of her train then left her, and proceeded to Edinburgh, by Kinghorn. She left St. Andrews the same day, and slept at Cupar, from whence she proceeded next day to the neighbourhood of Markinch, where she dined. She passed the night at Bruntisland, and in the morning crossed to Leith, and from thence came to Edinburgh, after an absence of nearly four months. In January, 1564-5, Mary passed over to Fife, where she amused herself with her usual sports, sometimes at Falkland, and sometimes at St. Andrews. In the month of February she was followed by Randolph to St. Andrews, who again attempted to renew the proposal of the marriage with Leicester. Of her manner of life at this time a very particular account has been preserved in a letter from Randolph to his mistress. “Her Grace lodged,” he says, “in a merchant’s house; her train were very few; and there was small repair from any part.” She invited Randolph to dine and sup at her table while he remained, so that his opportunities of observation were very particular. After he had continued to attend her for some days, he at length broached the subject he had in charge from his mistress; but Mary appears, with much skill and tact, to have evaded the subject. “I sent for you to be merry,” said she to the wily diplomatist, “and to see how like a Bourgeois-wife I live, with my little troop; and you will interrupt our pastime with your great and grave matters. I pray you, Sir, if you be weary here, return home to Edinburgh, and keep your gravity and great embassade until the Queen come thither; for, I assure you, you shall not get her here, nor I know not myself where she is become; you see neither cloth of estate, nor such appearance, that you may think that there is a Queen here; nor, I would not that you should think, that I am she at St. Andrews, that I was at Edinburgh.” He farther describes her as passing her time in agreeable and lively conversation; and in riding out after dinner. Finding nothing could be made of his residence at St. Andrews, Randolph returned to Edinburgh, and about this time the young Lord Darnley also arrived there. Mary also left St. Andrews on the 11th of February, and next day came to Lundy, on the south coast of Fife. On the 13th she rode to Wemyss, then the residence of the Earl of Murray; and three days after, Lord Darnley learning where she was, crossed the Forth, and for the first time visited her there. He seems to have been well received by her, and was lodged in the castle. “Her majesty,” says Sir James Melville, [Memoirs, p. 111,] “took very well with him, and said, that he was the properest and best-proportioned long man that ever she had seen.” Darnley remained some days at Wemyss castle.
After Mary’s surrender at Carberry she was sent a prisoner to Lochleven castle, the residence of William Douglas, the brother uterine of Murray, and the presumptive heir of Morton. She was conveyed to her place of confinement by the Lords Ruthven and Lindsay of the Byres, under an armed escort, and placed under the surveillance of the brother of Murray, whence she effected her escape on the 2d of May, 1568: see article LOCH LEVEN.
James VI. seems to have been suspicious of the attention paid to his Queen by the Earl of Murray, the heir of the late Regent, a young nobleman of great promise, and who was popularly styled “the Bonny Earl of Murray.” Under the pretence that he was suspected of having aided Bothwell in his attempt upon the palace, Huntly who was the enemy of Murray, surrounded his house of Donnibristle in the month of February, 1592, and set it on fire. Some of the followers of Murray were put to death, and others yielded. The unfortunate Earl himself fled toward the shore, intending to cross the Forth in a boat; but he was overtaken by a determined assassin, Gordon of Buckie, who wounded him desperately in the face. The Earl had just strength left to say with a last effort of expiring vanity, “Ye have spoiled a better face than your own!” when he died. Whilst James was employed in diplomatic endeavours to strengthen his right to succeed Elizabeth, and at a time when all parties concurred in promoting his interest, when the church had ceased to interfere with the exercise of his authority, and when the feuds among the nobility were gradually subsiding, an incident occurred, which has never properly been explained, and which had nearly deprived the king of his life, and involved the whole island in civil war. This was what has been called the Gowrie conspiracy, the principal actors in which, were the Earl of Gowrie, and his brother Alexander Ruthven, sons of that Earl of Gowrie who was put to death in 1584 for treason. It has been very generally disputed whether any plot existed against the king. The clergy at the time expressed more than doubts upon the subject; and did not hesitate to charge James with a plot against the Ruthvens. What motive the young men could have to destroy the king, has been a question often asked; and it has been equally often said, that if a plot indeed existed on their part, it was one of the worst constructed upon record. James himself published a narrative of the circumstances which occurred, and the following account is the substance of his statements. On the 5th of August, 1600, he was at his palace of Falkland, enjoying his favourite amusement of hunting. At an early hour in the morning he had mounted, with his suite, and was proceeding in search of game, when he met Alexander Ruthven, who with great confusion but earnestness manner informed him that he had seized a suspicious fellow, who had under his cloak a large pot full money, and that he had detained him for his Majesty’s examination. To one so needy as James always was, money was an irresistible bait; besides that he conceived the person to be an agent of the pope or the king of Spain. Though not altogether satisfied, he was persuaded by his informer to ride without attendants to the Earl of Gowrie’s house at Perth, where the bearer of the treasure was alleged to be kept in custody. They entered the castle by a private way, and ascended a dark staircase to a small obscure room, where they found a man standing, armed at all points. Ruthven now suddenly altered his behaviour, and told the king that as he had slain his father, he must now die to expiate the offence. James reasoned with him, defended his conduct, and so far staggered his opponent, that he left the room; but he soon returned, denouncing death to the king, and, endeavouring to tie his hands, held a dagger at his breast. The armed man who had been reasoned by the king into an agony of terror, stood trembling by, when James, exerting his utmost strength, over-powered Ruthven, and gained a window, whence he called to his attendants, who forced their way in, relieved the king, and put both the Earl of Gowrie and his brother to death. Such was the tale told by the king, but it met with slow and unwilling belief. The Ruthvens are represented as talented and learned young men, of popular and engaging manners. The Earl was looked upon as rising to be the head of the popular party, and was beloved by all, especially by the clergy, who cordially disliked James for his exertions to curb the unconstitutional power which they had assumed. With great difficulty the clergy were persuaded to publish from their pulpits the king’s narrative of the plot; but at length all acquiesced except Robert Bruce, who had been honoured with officiating at the coronation of the queen. That sturdy and implacable demagogue, in spite of all the king’s arguments, absolutely refused his assent to the royal tale, and was banished into England for his scepticism. Parliament was more courtly in its powers of belief, and immediately proceeded to attaint and forfeit the estates of the Ruthvens; declaring the name to be infamous, and appointing an annual day of thanksgiving to be held for the king’s escape.
The accession of James VI. to the crown of England, and the removal of the court to London, by weakening the connection with France, and causing the nobility and gentry to reside much in London, gave a new blow to the prosperity of Scotland, and more especially to Fife, and the rest of the eastern coast. The rebellion against Charles gave rise to a protracted struggle, during the continuance of which, neither trade, manufactures, nor agriculture, could flourish. In the dissensions thus created, the inhabitants of Fife took an active part, and had their own share of the calamities which ensued. The fatal battle of Kilsyth was most injurious to this county. “Three regiments from Fife,” says Dr. Adamson, in his notes to Sibbald’s History, “perished almost to a man. Most of the principal traders, and shipmasters, with their seamen, besides a multitude of the people of all classes, were engaged in that most disastrous enterprise.” The tyranny of Charles II., and James VII., and their attempt to force Episcopacy on the Scottish nation, created an accumulation of misery in Fife, as well as in other counties of Scotland, which must have prevented the possibility of any attempt to improve commerce, or encourage manufactures. The Revolution of 1688 might have been expected to produce a favourable change, yet, it did not do so. A long-continued and severe famine quickly followed, and exhausted almost every resource the country possessed. The imposition of duties ruined the trade with England in malt; and the same cause destroyed the trade which had been carried on in salt. The still existing ruins of malt-barns and steeps, and of salt-pans, show the extent of the injury these impositions here produced. The jealousy of the merchants of England, and the favour shown them by the government of William III., was an additional injury, and an additional preventative to Scotch exertion. At the commencement of the 18th century, this jealousy had a most ruinous effect on an already nearly ruined country; for to its existence must, in a great measure, be attributed the utter failure of the Darien expedition. To this splendid conception of founding a colony at the isthmus of Darien, Scotland looked for a source of wealth, and the means of restoring her ruined fortunes. Every family of respectability in Fife and in the other mid-land and southern counties of Scotland was involved in this ill-fated adventure, and its total failure spread misery and dismay throughout the land. Such were some of the causes which, after the death of James IV., not only prevented any farther increase in the prosperity Scotland had enjoyed during his reign; but which may be said, until comparatively recent times, by gradual degrees to have almost entirely annihilated the trade and commerce of Fife and the eastern coast; whilst in the west country these causes retarded the commercial efforts of the people, and for a length of time rendered the prospect of success in any branch of industry apparently hopeless.
17 thoughts on “Fifeshire, pp.535-552.”