Archery, pp.308-324.

[Scottish National Memorials Contents]

   NEITHER for sport, hunting, nor warfare, did the Bow and Arrow at any period occupy in Scotland the popular position it enjoyed in England, nor have we north of the Tweed the romantic legends which attest the pride of the people in the feats of their bowmen, a pride based on records of the marvellous skill of English archers, and of the many victories they owed principally to the use of their favourite weapon. In Scotland archery exercises were from time to time enjoined as military duties under severe penalties, and it is clear that so long as the bow was at all useful as a military weapon, practice with it was more regarded as a penal duty than as a popular recreation. So early as the time of William the Lion, it was ordained that all between the ages of 16 and 60 should provide themselves with arms in accordance with their position, among the weapons enumerated being ‘ane bow and arrowes.’ In the reign of James I. (1424) it was decreed by the Scottish Parliament ‘that all men busk thame to be archaris fra thai be twelf yeris of elde’ and ‘bow markes’ were to be made ‘speciallie neare to paroche kirkes, quhairin upon halie dayes men may come and at the leaste schutte thrise about.’ By the same statute the playing at ‘fute-ball’ was prohibited under the penalty of ‘fiftie schillings.’ At short intervals thereafter such legislative enactments ordaining the practice of ‘schuttin,’ and prohibiting the indulgence in ‘fute-ball, golfe, and uther sic unprofitabell sport’ were renewed; but these decrees do not appear to have met with any considerable success in either the one or other direction. In the reign of James IV. (1491) we meet with the last statute which rendered foot-ball, golf, etc., illegal, and which ordained that ‘bowis and schuttin be hanted, and bow markis maid therefor ordainit in ilk parochin, under the pane of fourtie schillinges, to be raisit be the shireffe and bailies foresaid.’ 

   Archery was a favourite pastime of Mary Queen of Scots. There is a notice in one of the inventories of her moveables of a velvet glove which she used when shooting at the butts. In April 1562 Randolph writes to Cecil from St. Andrews, how the Queen and the Master of Lindsay shot at the butts in her privy garden, against Mary Livingston and the Earl of Murray. In February 1567 Drury writes to Cecil from St. Andrews how the Queen and Bothwell won a dinner at Tranent in a shooting-match against the Earl of Huntly and Lord Seton. The Queen had butts in her south garden at Holyrood. 

   King James VI. approved of archery. ‘As for the chesse,’ he says, ‘I think it ouer fonde because it is oner wise and philosophicke a follie,’ but he recommends ‘archery, palle maille, and suche like faire and pleasant field games.’ 

   Although archery did not take root and flourish spontaneously in Scotland, we have to this day traces of the weaponschawings which were officially ordained but popularly neglected. The Ancient Society of Kilwinning Archers claims to be able to trace their practice with more or less regularity in their parish for about 400 years. The tradition of the Royal Company of Archers represents it as the body which was formed by James I. for enforcing his decree in favour of archery throughout the realm, and also as having acted as the body-guard of James IV. at Flodden. The official records of the Company do not however countenance the tradition. These bear that, under its present constitution at least, it has existed only since 1676, when, with the approbation of the Scottish Privy Council, it was formed to revive ‘the noble and usefull recreation of archery,’ which for many years had been neglected. But the Musselburgh Arrow, now in the possession of the Royal Company, is of much older date. It has medals attached to it, dating as far back as 1603, and several undated ones supposed to be older. It is thus the earliest of all the Scottish memorials of archery. The medals of the St. Andrews University Competition go back to 1618, and the Aberdeen Silver Arrow dates from 1679. 

   THE MUSSELBURGH ARROW. This is the oldest and from an antiquarian point of view the most valuable of all the prizes shot for by the Royal Company of Archers. Although it has been practically in the possession of the Company for the last two centuries, there can be little doubt that the ‘honest toun’ of Musselburgh instituted the prize with the direct object of promoting the sport of archery among the bowmen of the district. The giving of such prizes was common among the burghs in Scotland. Peebles, Kelso, Selkirk, Stirling, and many other towns all gave prizes of this description. It would appear to have been the custom of the Royal Company to send some of their number to compete for these public prizes, and it is remarkable that with one exception since 1676 this arrow has always been gained by a member of that body. Previous to that date the prize would seem to have been open to all comers. Unfortunately the names of the winners during the earlier years can only be surmised, as simply the arms and initials are engraved on the medals, and in some cases even that clew to their identity does not exist. In 1667 the arrow was won by ‘His Majesties bower, Alexander Hay,’ which confirms the supposition that up to that date at any rate it was open to all competitors. But it would appear that the Royal Company did not look with favour upon open competitions, for in 1676, when the Company as it at present exists was founded, we find among their first list of rules that ‘nane shall be licensed to arch within the said city of Edinburgh and suburbs thereof, but such as shall list themselves and be entered in the said Company.’ Evidently the spirit of monopoly which manifested itself in the protective character of the regulations of the guilds and incorporations of that time was not confined to the sphere of trade, but extended to that of amusement also. 

   The shooting for this arrow was not attended with the same amount of ceremony which was a marked feature of the competitions held for the Edinburgh prizes. The attendance of a band of music was evidently uncommon, for in 1714 it is recorded in the records that there was paid this year 10s. for hautboys and 4s. 3d. for a piper for playing before the Company: but it was ordered that after this there was to be no music at any public meeting unless ordered by the Council. 

   In August 1724 a muster of sixty-eight turned out at a march on the occasion of shooting for this arrow when the Duke of Hamilton – the newly appointed Captain-General – gained the prize. The custom apparently prevailed that when the first officer did the Company the honour of shooting with them, the prize was by courtesy allowed to fall to him. 

   It was not until 1748 that uniform was worn at this competition. 

   The original arrow is short, measuring only 10 ⅛ inches in length, and the first medals attached to it are proportionately small. One of the earliest, without name, date, or inscription, is in the form of a bell,1 such as is commonly attached to a dog’s collar or a child’s rattle. With this exception the outline or form of the earliest medals down to the end of the seventeenth century, is confined to two designs – a fancy-shaped shield of heraldic character, and a plain oval. The workmanship of them is exceedingly simple, as they are merely pierced from a piece of flat plate. Their decoration is with few exceptions produced by engraving: its general design is in all cases simple. On the one side is the coat-of-arms with the initials of the winner, and on the other a figure, most frequently an archer. On three of the medals (one dated 1608, see Fig. 211; another 1611, and the other undated) (see Fig. 212) there are engraved cupids drawing the bow. 

   Another undated medal in gold (see Figs. 213 and 214) bears the curious device of a man’s head and on the other side has the following lines:- 

‘When Androse was a man 

He could not be peal’d,2 

At the auld sport he wan 

When Androse was a man. 

Bot now he nether may nor can, 

Alas! he is fail’d, 

When Androse was a man 

He could not be paled.’ 

   The most popular device from 1603 (the first medal which is dated) to 1733 was the figure of an archer. A number of these medals with the dates attached are figured on the next page. Some of them, as for instance those dated 1643 and 1661, are quaint in appearance, but crude in execution: others, again, have been executed by some of the famous picture-engravers of the time, who have in some instances appended their names to their work. Besides serving merely as devices for the medals, these engravings furnish an idea of the costume of the archers about that time. In some medals more than a single figure is introduced. On that dated 1702 a group is engraved in which one archer is represented – as if confident in his success that day – saying to his competitors ‘Hodie mihi.’ (See Fig. 215.) 

   The engraving of inscriptions was not customary, as has already been noted, until the middle of the seventeenth century, when it appears to have become general, as many examples are still to be found where the arms and initials on tombstones, communion cups, etc., serve the purposes of identification. The shape of the shields in these medals was also a common one at that time for armorial bearings. But in 1649 Robert Dobie of Stonyhill succeeded in winning the arrow for the third time in succession, when by the rules of the competition it became his own property. This was the first time such a feat had been accomplished, and he seems to have thought it sufficiently important to record it on the medal. The engraving of this inscription reveals the curious fact that the craftsmen of that period were more conversant with heraldic charges than with the formation of letters. The arms are fairly well cut: the inscription is simply barbarous. (See Figs. 229 and 230.) 

   Robert Dobie did not retain the arrow, but we are informed in the burgh records that ‘for ye love and affection borne be him to ye weell and standing of this burch be giftet and gave bak agane ye said silver arrow to Johne Calderwood, present baillie, in name and behalf of ye baillies, counsell, and communitie of ye same burch to be keepit and used be thame at thair pleasour in time coming.’ 

   The plainest medal in the whole collection bears the shortest inscription, ‘Willm Bayllie, Merchant in Eden,’ and has neither arms, device, nor even the date. 

   Up to 1704 the medals continued to be of moderate size, never exceeding 2 ½ or 3 inches in length, but in this year the arrow was won by an Edinburgh goldsmith, Colin Mackenzie, who, possibly from his connection with the trade, signalised the event by adding a large medal 4 ½ inches long. His example was speedily followed by his successors till the large size of 6 inches in length was reached in 1749. 

   The increasing number of medals, as well as the difficulty of attaching the larger ones to the small arrow, must have been felt inconvenient. This may possibly have been the reason which caused Adam Coult, the winner of the arrow in 1713, to present a large silver arrow in place of the usual medal. 

   With the enlarged size of the medals, the elaborateness of the devices and the length of the inscriptions increased in proportion, and in the period between 1704 and 1749 are found the finest medals in the whole collection. 

   Many of their devices are curious. The most interesting is engraved on the medal of Lieut.-Colonel John Cunynghame (1749). (See Fig. 231.) It represents what is known as papingo or popinjay shooting. This consisted in shooting at a bird tied to the top of a pole. This sport is of most ancient origin. Allusion is made to it in Homer when it formed one of the sports in the funeral games following the death of Patroclus. Below the scene on the medal are engraved the lines- 

‘With generous warmth thus antient Heroes glow, 

T’attain the highest Honours of the Bow, 

Our Scotish Archers, equal thirst of Praise, 

Inspires, by equal deeds, their fame to raise.’ 

   On four of the medals are engraved inscriptions in Latin verse from the pen of Thomas Kincaid, who is styled in the preface to Pitcairn’s Poems ‘vir supra sortem doctus et literis humanioribus bene instructus.’ One of these, on the medal of John Bayne 1705, may be quoted as an example:- 



Sagittandi palmam referente 

BANUS vetusto stemmate Nobilis 

ET MARTE et ARTE est, ut genere inclytus 

Virtutibus vere decorus 

Viribus ingenioq. pollens 

Nullus sagittis figere Doctior 

Seu Meta longe, seu sita sit prope 

Sic Dextera fœlice certans 

MARTIS et ARTIS Alumnus audit 

Scotos Pharetris qui Celebres regat 

Quos Buchanannus laudibus evehit 

Huc adsit, Heroumque priscum 

Clara dabit documenta BANUS 

posuit sodalis pharetratus 

                                               T. K. 


   One other inscription is noteworthy. In 1711 George Drummond won the arrow for the third time in succession, and he records the fact on his medal in the following terms: ‘George Drummond, Merchant in Edinr, Haveing won this Silver Arrow three times successively, and thereby according to Antient custome become Proprietor thereof Doeth of his free goodwill with advyce of the Royall company of Archers gift the same to the Town of Musselburgh To remaine with them as a perpetuall testimonie of his Respect to the said town and for the encourageing of Archers in all time comeing Conforme to ane agreement past betwixt the Magistrats of the said town and the said George Drummond recorded in their books and publicke Records of ye date 18 day of July 1711.’ 

   Only two other archers besides Robert Dobie and George Drummond have won this prize three times in succession, and these are Dr. Lowis in 1720, 1721, and 1722, and Sir Patrick Walker in 1816, 1817, and 1818. 

   This fact that during three centuries the arrow has only been won by four individuals three times successively, leads to the inference that the element of chance must enter considerably into the sport. At any rate many of the archers seem to have thought this. On the medal of 1633 the legend ‘NON ARS SED FATA DEDERE’ encircles the figure. (See Fig. 232.) 

   Mr. G. Drummond on winning the arrow for the second time in 1673, engraved above the archer on 

the medal the legend: ‘ARS FELIX CUI FATA FAVENT.’ (See Fig. 233.) On the medal of 1680 (see Fig. 234) the same thought is more briefly expressed by an equally fortunate archer, for on a scroll issuing from the mouth of the figure is inscribed the single word ‘Chance.’ 

   On the medal of 1702 Mr. William Dundas – possibly considering his success a mere accident, adds to the inscription: ‘The race is not to the swift, nor the batall to the strong.’ (See Fig. 235.) 

   On the medal of 1626 (see Fig. 236) there occurs a curious expression which recalls the shouts of the spectators when a knight at the tournament made a successful point. ‘A Valifurd A Valifurd,’ is engraved on each side of the figure of the archer, and this may possibly have been the acclamation which greeted this victorious bowman on winning the arrow. 

   After the middle of the eighteenth century the medals became less in size, and lost their distinctive character. Neither their inscriptions nor devices call for special mention. 

   In 1886 the medals were removed from the two arrows to which they had been so long attached, and were suspended from a silver spiral centre-piece. 

   In 1889 there were in all 186 medals3 attached to this arrow. [A. J. S. B.] 

(944) Lent by the ROYAL COMPANY OF ARCHERS. 

   THE EDINBURGH ARROW. In 1709 the Magistrates of Edinburgh presented to the Royal Company of Archers the prize of a Silver Arrow, which was to be shot for annually. (See Figs. 237 and 238.) 

   It is similar in design to the larger Musselburgh Arrow. 

   It was first competed for on the 27th June 1709 at Leith Links, when it was won by David Drummond, advocate. The victory is recorded in Latin verse on the reverse of the medal. (See Fig. 238.) 

   The parades which the Royal Company held from time to lime for the shooting for this arrow were the most imposing of any of their turns-out. 

   The one in 1714 was conducted on a scale of more than usual importance. A subscription of a crown was to be exacted from every archer in town. A pair of colours – which up to this time the Company do not seem to have possessed – were ordered to be procured. A committee was appointed to adjust the bill of fare. A march through Edinburgh to Leith was determined on instead of the usual assembly at the tavern door at the latter place, and a fine of one pound ten shillings Scots was to be imposed on all who should be absent at the assembling. On the 14th of June (the day appointed) the Royal Company assembled, and on their march through the streets of Edinburgh they were accompanied by the Magistrates, and saluted by the various guards which they passed. The town of Leith also held holiday for the occasion, and the ships in the harbour displayed their flags and fired their guns. This unusual display had the effect of adding considerably to the membership of the Royal Company. 

   In 1715 the Edinburgh Arrow was not shot for. It was the custom to proclaim the competition ‘by tuck of drum’ and for the town officer to carry the Arrow with him during the proclamation. The Magistrates declined for this year to expose the Arrow for competition, probably on account of the disturbed state of the country and the strong Jacobite feelings of the Royal Company. 

   The Arrow was not shot for up to 1726, and the reason for this appears to have been that the Town Council had withdrawn the usual premium of £5 to the winner, and there had also arisen some dispute as to its custody. The misunderstanding was cleared up in 1726, and the turn-out on that occasion was one of more than usual magnificence, and is minutely described in the minutes. 

   In 1734, on the representation of some of the officers and the Town Council of Edinburgh, the place of shooting for this Arrow was changed from Leith to Bruntsfield Links. 

   In 1742 another public parade was held which is notable from the fact that after the usual dinner subsequent to the shooting, ‘they concluded the evening with great mirth, and a splendid assembly for the ladies, at which the archers danced in their habits, the Right Honourable the Earl of Wigtoun having begun the Ball.’ 

   After 1742 this competition was shorn of much of its glory. The archers were, however, always escorted by a company of soldiers or a detachment of the Town Guard. It was the custom for this Arrow to be carried by the officer through the town some time previous to the meeting. In 1750 it was ordered so to be carried, and the last time it is alluded to is in 1792, when the practice was discontinued on account of riots in the city. About the end of last century the place of shooting was changed from Bruntsfield Links to the Meadows, where it is still shot for. 

   At the time when this prize was instituted the archers were in the habit of attaching medals of an unusually large size to their arrows, as may be seen on comparing the medals of the Musselburgh Arrow about this period. Indeed, to so large a size did these medals attain – the largest being 9 inches in length – that Lord Wemyss designates the one he attached in 1714 ‘a plate,’ and the name is not inappropriate. 

   Between 1709 and 1715 six large silver medals were added, and they are perhaps the finest and most characteristic of all the medals belonging to the Royal Company of Archers. The first is that of David Drummond (1709: 7 3⁄16 inches in length). It has on both sides an embossed border of laurel leaves, with scroll ornaments at the top and bottom (See Figs. 237 and 238). On the obverse is engraved the coat-of-arms, and the inscription, ‘Mr. David Drummond, Advocat, did win this Arrow the 27 of June 1709,’ and on the reverse some lines in Latin verse from the pens of Thomas Kincaid and Dr. Archibald Pitcairn. 

   The second is that of William Neilson (1710: 8 inches in length). It is similar in design to the former, and has engraved on the obverse the coat-of-arms and the inscription, ‘William Neilson, Merd in Edr, did win this Arrow att Leith the 12 day of lune 1710.’ 

   The third is that of Thomas Kincaid (1711: 9 1⁄16 inches in length). It has on both sides an embossed border of laurel leaves, with Scottish thistles and roses at the top and bottom, which is surmounted above with a shield emblazoned with a lion rampant within a double tressure. Engraved on the one side immediately above the lion is the motto, ‘Omnia dat qui justa negat,’ and on the other side, ‘nee Numina desunt.’ On the obverse are engraved the coat-of-arms and the inscription, ‘Thomas Kincaid Esqr did win this Arrow at Leith the 18 day of June 1711’; and on the reverse five verses of Latin Alcaics (Fig. 239). 

   The fourth, which is similar in general design to the first, is that of James Cockburn (1713: 8 inches in length). It bears the maker’s mark of Patrick Murray, who was admitted a goldsmith in 1701. On the obverse are engraved the coat-of-arms and the inscription, ‘James Cockburn, Esqr Secretary to the Generall & Commander in cheif of her Majesties forces in North Britain won this Arrow the 8 of June 1713.’

   The fifth is that of the Earl of Wemyss (1714: 7 9⁄16 inches in length). It is different in design from the others, the border being made of a moulded silver wire, surmounted above with a pierced scroll ornament. On the obverse (Fig. 240) are engraved the coat-of-arms and the inscription, ‘The right Honble David Earl of Wemyss Lord Elcho Vice Admiral of North Britain & Lieutenant to the Royal Company of Archers Did win this Silver Arrow at Leith the Fourteenth day of June One thousand Seaven hundered and fourteen years In presence of Fifty-four of the said Company of Archers and Appended this Plate.’ On the reveree there is engraved a curious scene (Fig. 241), surmounted by a ribbon bearing the motto, ‘ME GLORIA NON PRÆDA TRAHIT,’ evidently intended to indicate the peaceful ambition of the winner. 

   The sixth is that of Alexander Congalton (1715: 7 ½ inches in length). In design it is almost exactly the same as the last medal; but it is only engraved with the coat-of-arms and the inscription, ‘Alexr Congalton Merchand in Edr Won this Arrow at Leith the 13 day of June 1715.’ 

   The other medals attached to this Arrow are of gold, and are very much smaller in size. The larger number of them are oval in form, and have engraved the coat-of-arms or crest on the one side and the inscription on the other side. There is not much either in their design or in their execution to call for special remark. 

   In 1871 the medals were removed from the Arrow and suspended on a spiral silver stand, the larger badges being hung on the ebonised stand below. In 1889 there were attached to this arrow six silver and one hundred and sixty-two gold medals. [A. J. S. B.] 

(945) Lent by the ROYAL COMPANY OF ARCHERS. 

   THE SILVER BOWL. In 1720 the Council of the Royal Company of Archers, having decided that it was desirable to have an annual prize, recommended several of their members to consider what the prize should be, and the method and time of shooting. 

   The result of their deliberations appears from a minute of 30th May 1720. ‘The Councill ordains the Thesaurer to order a Punch-Bowll to be made to the value of twenty pounds sterling or thereby, as ane annuall pryze to be shot for by the Royall Company at rovers only, upon such a day and manner as the Councill shall determine: which pryze is to be returned by the gainer to the Thesaurer within ten moneths with his badge affixed thereto, not exceeding the value of two guineas, either of gold or silver, in the option of the gainer. And the Thesaurer for the time is to pay him in premium ffyve pounds sterling upon the return of the Bowll.’ 

   The Bowl was accordingly made, and the bill for its manufacture amounted to £22, 13s. 9d. It bears the Edinburgh Hallmark for the year 1719-20, and was made by William Ged, a goldsmith in Edinburgh, who was also a member of the Royal Company, which he joined in 1714. 

   On one side of the bowl is engraved the common seal of the Company, and on the opposite side the reverse of the seal: and between those, on one side the figure of Saint Andrew, and on the other the following inscription: ‘Edr 20 June 1720. – The Councill of the Royal Company of Archers, viz. Mr. David Drummond, Præses, Thomas Kincaid, John Nairn, James Ross, Robert Lowis, John Lowis, John Carnegy, George Drummond, Treasr, Wm Murray & James Lowis, Clerks Ordered this piece of Plate to be furnish’d out of the Stock of the Company & to be shot for as an annual Prize at Rovers by the said Royal Company as the Councill for the time shall appoint.’ 

   In November 1720 the Bowl received an interesting addition. At that time Sir John Areskine of Alva received his diploma, ‘and made offer to the Company of as much silver taken out of his mines of Alva as would make a spoon for the Punch-bowl.’ The spoon or ladle was accordingly made. It bears no Hall-mark, but has engraved on the rim of the bowl the following inscription:- ‘Regiæ Sagittariorum Cohorti Ex fodinis suis Argenteis donavit Johanes Areskinus ab Alva Eq: Auratus die Decem 20 1720.’ 

   In 1751 the circumference of the bowl proving too small to admit of any more badges being affixed, it was enlarged by Ebenezer Oliphant, goldsmith in Edinburgh, at a cost of £9, 7s. 2d. 

   The competition for this prize was originally held on Leith Links: but Bruntsfield Links proved more convenient, and the competitions were held there till they were changed to the Meadows. (The Silver Bowl is figured in Mr. Paul’s History of the Royal Company of Archers.) [A. J. S. B.] 

(946) Lent by the ROYAL COMPANY OF ARCHERS. 

   THE SELKIRK ARROW. Very little is known of the early history of this prize. The arrow itself, which is of silver, measures 11 ¾ inches in length, and has no inscription. There are attached to it (up to 1889) twenty-three silver medals, which along with the arrow weigh 20 oz. 10 dwt. Nine of these date from 1660 to 1674. 

   There is a striking similarity, almost amounting to uniformity, in the forms and general appearance of these badges. They differ in their design and in the character of the engraving from all the medals attached to the other arrows of the Royal Company. The majority of them indeed seem to have come from the hand of one goldsmith, who in all probability both made and engraved them. This would almost lead to the inference that Selkirk, in common with many other Scottish Burghs at that period, possessed local goldsmiths of its own. The reverses of six of the medals are identical, and consist merely of a drawn bow with an arrow fixed ready for discharging. 

   Four of the most characteristic are here reproduced (see Figs. 242, 243, and 244, 245, 246, and 247):- 

   From 1674 till 1818 the arrow was not shot for. It was recovered principally through the exertions of Sir Walter Scott and Sir Patrick Walker, who found that it had been delivered to a bailie of the Council early in the eighteenth century to keep for the town’s use, and that its existence had been quite forgotten. 

   In 1818 took place the first shooting by the Royal Company for this arrow, in consequence of an invitation from the magistrates of Selkirk. 

   The following is the account of the proceedings as given in the minutes, and transcribed in Mr. J. Balfour Paul’s History of the Royal Company of Archers:- 

   Having reached Selkirk in two coaches-and-four, ‘The magistrates and trades, with their respective colours displayed, accompanied the Royal Company to a field at the bridge over the Ettrick: the ground was very unfavourable, and at the first end there were nine arrows broken: it was also a very high wind. 

   ‘The shooting, notwithstanding, was very creditable to the Royal Company, and appeared highly gratifying to an immense concourse of people of all classes, assembled upon the occasion to witness this novel weaponshawing. 

   ‘Mr. Charles Nairn gained the prize, which was carried by the town’s officer before him, as victor, to the Tontine – the procession returning in the same order as at first. The arrow was borne upon a long staff decorated gaily with the finest flowers. 

   ‘The magistrates conferred the freedom of Selkirk upon all the members of the Royal Company who were present (at dinner) observing all the ceremonies of the birse – (a singular custom is observed at conferring the freedom of the burgh of Selkirk; four or five bristles, such as are used by shoemakers, are attached to the seal of the burgess-ticket; these the new-made burgess must dip in his wine in token of respect for the ‘Souters of Selkirk’) – and exhibiting the colours which were brought off by the Souters from the fatal field of Flodden, which were religiously touched by all of us.’ 

   Some misunderstanding seems to have arisen between the Magistrates of Selkirk and the Royal Company in 1835, in consequence of the Magistrates desiring to throw open the competition to persons who were not members of the Royal Company. The Selkirk authorities demanded that the arrow should be returned to them; and although the Council considered that the Royal Company had an undoubted right to retain it until the next period of shooting for it, they gave it up to avoid unpleasant discussion, and ordered that the prize should be omitted in future from the annual roster. 

   It was not again shot for by the Royal Company till 1868, from which period frequent competitions have been held. [A. J. S. B.] 

(947) Lent by the ROYAL COMPANY OF ARCHERS. 

   PEEBLES ARROW. This is one of the prizes which were originally given by many of the Scottish burghs for the promotion of the sport of archery in their locality. This arrow is of silver, and measures 17 inches in length. It bears the inscription, ‘PRESENTIT • BE • lAMES WILLIAMSONE • PROVIST • OF • PIBLIS.’ This was the same James Williamson who signed the National Covenant and Confession of Faith in 1638. 

   There are attached to it in all (up to 1889) 40 silver medals, which, along with the arrow, weigh 26 oz. 2 dwt. Four of these belong to the seventeenth century. 

   The oldest medal bears the date 1628 (see Figs. 248 and 249); but it will be apparent even to a casual observer that one of the figures has been altered by an unskilled hand. Nevertheless the altered figure seems to have originally been a 2, and the design of the medal corresponds exactly with those of a similar date attached to the Musselburgh Arrow. 

   The other three seventeenth-century medals are dated 1661, 1663, and 1664. 

   That of 1663 bears the name of Alexr. Hay, ‘bower to his majestie,’ who also won the Musselburgh arrow in 1667. 

   The medal of 1664 is the most curious. (See Figs. 250 and 251.) It bears the following inscription:- ‘Robert Childers trumpetter and sadler to the king and the good tune of Edinburgh, and below this the following lines:- 

‘Content I am with all my 🖤 

That he haue this for his disert 

That gines the same whit eur he be 

By his skil of archerie.’ 

   For upwards of a hundred years the arrow was not shot for; of this Dr. William Chambers, in his History of Peeblesshire (1864), gives the following probable explanation:- ‘According to the account of an aged person in Peebles, the Silver Arrow was found concealed in the wall of the building latterly occupied by the Town Council when some remains of that edifice (formerly the Chapel of the Virgin) were removed about 1780. The conclusion to be formed is, that the town Treasurer had concealed the Arrow in the wall of the Council Chamber4 at the commencement of the religious troubles in Scotland – 1675 – and that its hiding-place being forgotten, it only came accidentally to light when the building was finally removed more than a hundred years afterwards.’ 

   The first mention of the Arrow in the records of the Royal Company occurs on the 12th July 1784, when Mr. Alexander, the Provost of Peebles, dined with the Archers. He brought with him this old silver arrow. The Council, it is stated, ‘desirous that so ancient a prize should be revived and shot for annually, signified their wishes that Provost Alexander do mention their inclinations to his brethren of the Town Council of Peebles with regard thereto, and inform (the Council) of their resolutions upon the matter.’ 

   In 1786 the Peebles Arrow was first shot for by the Royal Company, when seven archers competed for it. In 1803, when the Company again shot for the Arrow, Mungo Park, the famous African traveller, dined with them. He was at that time practising as a surgeon in Peebles, where, however, he did not long remain, for in 1806 he left for Africa on that eventful expedition from which he never returned. It was the custom of the Royal Company to shoot for the Peebles and Selkirk Arrows on one excursion. In 1823, when on such a tour, it is related that they were received with the greatest hospitality at Peebles: the dinner and wines were pronounced ‘excellent,’ and the Provost kindly gave the party a ‘bottomless riddle to induce them to come soon back again.’ 

   Although the number of medals attached to this arrow is not large, there is considerable variety in the pattern, and many of the medals, while simply made, are interesting as indications of the taste of the period. 

   Three of them are reproduced as examples. (See Figs. 252, 253, and 254.) 

   That the Peebles Arrow is not shot for annually may be accounted for by the distance of Peebles from Edinburgh, and also by the fact that it is one of four Arrows connected with Scottish county towns, to one of which the Royal Company of Archers makes an annual expedition. [A. J. S. B.] 

(948) Lent by the ROYAL COMPANY OF ARCHERS. 

   THE BIGGAR JUG. This is a handsome silver claret-jug ten inches in height. The body is spaced off into a number of ornamental shields, on which the winners’ names are engraved. On the centre is engraved the inscription, ‘Presented to the Royal Company of Archers, Queen’s Body Guard for Scotland, by Ladies and Gentlemen resident in the neighbourhood of Biggar, 23rd Sept. 1852.’ It has been shot for ten times since its institution. [A. J. S. B.] 

(949) Lent by the ROYAL COMPANY OF ARCHERS. 

   THE HOPETOUN ROYAL COMMEMORATION PRIZE. This prize was presented by the Earl of Hopetoun in 1823, in commemoration of the visit of George IV. to Scotland the previous year, when the Company had for the first time the honour of acting as bodyguard to the King. 

   It consists of a large silver vase, on which is annually engraved the name of the winner, and a gold medal, which is worn by the victor during the period he holds the prize. 

   It was originally appointed to be shot for on the 23d of April, St. George’s Day, and the day on which the birthday of George IV. was usually observed. Of late years the date of shooting has varied a little. 

   It has been shot for every year since it was presented. [A. J. S. B.] 

(951) Lent by the ROYAL COMPANY OF ARCHERS. 

   THE DALHOUSIE SWORD, presented by the Earl of Dalhousie, Captain-General of the Royal Company in 1834. It is an Oriental sabre, with a scabbard and handle of silver gilt, magnificently jewelled with turquoises. [A. J. S. B.] 

(950) Lent by the ROYAL COMPANY OF ARCHERS. 

   ANCIENT UNIFORM of the Royal Company of Archers, consisting of Coat and Short Trews of Royal Stewart Tartan, as worn between 1714 and 1789. 

(952) Lent by the ROYAL COMPANY OF ARCHERS. 


(954, 955, 956, 957, 958) Lent by the ROYAL COMPANY OF ARCHERS. 

   No. 1. A yew bow, backed with ash, dated on the back 1650, which belonged to Mr. Bisset of Lessendrum, in Aberdeenshire. Backed bows were first made in the end of the sixteenth century by the Kelsals of Manchester. 

   No. 2. This bow is said to have been used at the Battle of Flodden, 1513. It was presented by Colonel Ferguson of Huntly Burn to Mr. Peter Muir, the veteran Bow-maker of the Royal Company, and by him has been presented to the Royal Company. It was long preserved in a country house near Flodden Field. Its strength is estimated at from 80 to 90 lbs. 

   No. 3. This Bow was presented to the Royal Company by the Earl of Aylesford, Lord Warden of the Woodmen of Arden, on the occasion of his being received into the Royal Company in the year 1788. It was made about the beginning of the sixteenth century. 

   No. 4. Bow made by Grant, who, for a long period during the latter part of last century, was Bow-maker to the Royal Company.5 This Bow was the property of Mr. Alexander Wallace, Banker in Edinburgh (who was admitted a member in 1776), and it is recorded that Lord Aylesford offered him for it the sum of fifty guineas, which was refused. The Bow afterwards came into the possession of Dr. Thomas Spens, who presented it to the Royal Company in 1840. 

   No. 5. This Bow is remarkable for the perfection of the piece of yew of which it is made. It belonged to an old family in Fife, and by them was given to Dr. Nathaniel Spens, whose son, Dr. Thomas Spens, presented it to the Royal Company in 1840. It was probably made towards the end of last [18th] century. 

   SILVER BOW AND ARROWS, and 1 Gold and 117 Silver Medals attached, belonging to ‘The Ancient Society of Kilwinning Archers.’ These medals were presented by the various Captain-Generals. The oldest bears date 1697. Archery, although it has at several times for a few years fallen into desuetude, has been practised in Kilwinning for more than 400 years. (See Fig. 255.) 



   The following is a list of the medals attached to the bow and arrows, with the names of the Captain-Generals and the year of their presentation:- 

David Mure, 1697, 1723. and 1724 Capt. Robt. Davidson,  1789 
William Baillie, 1698, 1706, 1713, and 1732 Robert Morrice,  1790 
Hugh McBryde, 1714 John Bannatyne, 1792 
David Logan, 1716 David Boyle, 1793 
Hugh Morie, 1719 Geo. Vanbrugh Brown, 1794 
David Logan, 1720 Hugh Baillie, 1795 
Alex. Baillie, 1725 James Hunter, 1796 
Thomas Craford, 1726 Right Hon. Lord Montgomerie, 1797 
Arthur Martin, 1728 Robert Glasgow, 1800 
John Warner, 1730 Wm. Blair, 1801 
Right Hon. the Earl of Eglintoune,  1731 The Earl of Glasgow,  1802 
Patrick Warner, 1733 Col. John Boyle, 1803 
John Dunlop, 1734 Alex. Miller, 1804 
James Montgomerie, 1735 Oliver Jamieson, 1805 
Walter Hamilton, 1736 Chas. S. Macalister, 1806 
Thomas Reid, 1737 Major Henry Vansittar White, 1807 
William Cunninghame, 1738 Wm. Boyle, 1809 
Pat. Montgomerie, 1739 John Muir, 1810 
Robert Kerr, 1740 Patrick Warner, 1813 
Robert Reid, 1741 James Crichton, 1814 
John Hamilton, 1742 Patrick Warner, 1818 
Will. Sommerwill, 1743 D. K. Sandford, 1825 
Arch. Stevenson, 1744 Hon. Archd. Earl of Eglinton, 1826 
Alex. Crawford, 1746 Patrick Boyle, 1827 
John Crauford, 1747 Hon. R. Rolle, 1829 
James Buchanan, 1748 D. S. Buchanan, 1830 
James Campbell, 1749 Capt. J. Charles Blair, 1831 
Jo. Mongomery, 1750 William Miller, 1832 
William Dunlop, 1751 Charles Lamb, 1833 
Alex. Miller,  1752 James Macalister, 1834 
Robt. Barclay, 1753 Capt. James Kerr, 1835 
James Dalrymple, 1754 James Reid, 1837 
Capt. Thos. Boyd, 1755 Robert Knox, 1840 
Gavin Ralston, 1756 John Boyle Gray, 1841 
Robt. Gemmill, 1757 William Cochran Patrick, 1842 
Wm. Ferguson, 1762 Archibald Thomas Boyle, 1843 
William Reid, 1763 Chas. Greenshields Reid, 1844 
John Reid, jr., 1764 Benjamin William Dods, 1845 
Andrew Kelly, 1765 Hugh Montgomerie, 1846 
James Hadow, 1766 John A. Macrae, 1847 
Robt. Reid, 1767 John Finlay. 1848 
William Ballantine, 1768 George Johnston, 1849 
James Brown, 1769 James Finnie, 1850 
Alex. Mitchell, 1770 Wm. Finnie and Gavin Gemmell, 1852 
John Arnot, 1771 Gavin Gemmell and Robt. Gilkson, Junr.,  1853 
John Wilson, 1773 James Hannan, 1854 
William Kelso, 1774 John Speir, 1855 
Thomas Grant, 1777 Archd. Finnie, 1857 
Alex. Hamilton, 1778 John Crichton, 1858 
Captain Frances Russell, 1779 Andrew Scott, 1859 
Thomas Arthur, 1780 Wm. Brown, Junr., 1860 
Col. Hugh Montgomery, 1781 John Smith, 1861 
David Thomson, Junr., 1782 Hugh Montgomerie, 1863 
William Crawford, 1783 Thomas Campbell, 1864 
Major Craufurd, 1784 Henry Monteith Hannan, 1865 
Chas. Crookshanks, 1785 James Hutton Watkins, 1866 
Robt. Reid, 1786 Wm. James Smith Neill, 1869 
Dr. Wm. Hamilton, 1787 Medal with no inscription.  
William Paterson, 1788   

   SILVER-GILT ARCHER’S ARROW-HOLDER AND BELT, set with Carbuncles. Presented to the Irvine Archers by the Earl of Eglinton and Winton, 1842. 



   THREE SILVER ARROWS AND 70 SILVER MEDALS belonging to the University of St. Andrews. The arrows were shot for annually by the students of St. Salvator’s and St. Leonard’s Colleges, and the winner attached to the arrow a medal bearing his name, coat-of-arms, motto, and the date of his success. As the medals were suffering seriously from rubbing against one another, they were detached and hung as they now are in two glazed cases. The earliest medal (the smallest) is dated 1618: one bearing the Lorne Gallery upon it was placed by the Marquis of Argyle in 1623; and one was placed in 1628 by his great rival the Marquis of Montrose when a student sixteen years old at St. Andrews. The scratches on it are said to have been made by students of a later date having strong Covenanting leanings. There is a break of about forty years between 1628-1675 during the troublous times. The last medal was placed by the Earl of Elgin in 1751. Lyon (History of St. Andrews, ii. 201-3) gives a list of the names of the winners of the arrows, with their mottoes and the years of their success. He notes that many of the winners belonged to the foremost families of the country at a time ‘when the university was more frequented by young men of rank than it is now’ [1843]. 

(963, 964) Lent by the UNITED COLLEGE OF ST. ANDREWS. 

   SILVER ARROW, 1679, a prize formerly contended for by a fraternity of Bowmen, Aberdeen. According to Kennedy (Annals of Aberdeen, ii. 110) the students of the University competed annually for this arrow. 

(986) Lent by the UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN. 

1  A bell, it may be noted, was the earliest form of a horse-racing trophy, when, before cups were offered as prizes, a winning horse used to ‘bear off the bell.’ The Silver Bell of Lanark was made in Edinburgh about the year 1608-10, and has a badge attached to it dated 1628. A similar antiquity is claimed for the Paisley Bells. In England there are two bells known as the Carlisle Bells, which were given in Queen Elizabeth’s time to the corporation of Carlisle by Lady Dacre, the wife of Sir William Dacre, the governor of that city. The smaller of the two is engraved with the date 1599, and the larger one is undated. 

2  ‘Pealed’ is the old Scotch for ‘equalled.’ 

3  A list of Ihe winners of the Musselburgh Arrow, Edinburgh Arrow, Silver Bowl, Selkirk Arrow, Peebles Arrow, Biggar Jug, Hopetoun Royal Commemoration Prize, Dalhousie Sword, will be found in The History of the Royal Company of Archers, by James Balfour Paul. From that work, published by William Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh, 1875, much of our information has been derived. 

4  Burgh trophies seem to have been peculiarly liable to the contingency of being stored away, and their existence forgotten. The silver bell of Lanark, a horse-racing trophy, remained locked up in the repositories of the Council Chambers at Lanark between 1661 and 1852. 

5  In Williamson’s Directory for the City of Edinburgh, etc., 1773-1774, we find: ‘Grant, Thomas, and Son, bowers, Nether -bow.’ 

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