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Sketches of Early Scotch History
By Cosmo Innes (1861)


William Strahan, the publisher, writing to Robertson the historian in 1759, told him that "A History of Scotland is no very enticing title;" and Dugald Stewart, commenting upon that expression, adds—"The influence of Scottish associations, so far as it is favourable to antiquity, is confined to Scotchmen alone, and furnishes no resources to the writer who aspires to a place among the English classics. Nay, such is the effect of that provincial situation to which Scotland is now reduced, that the transactions of former ages are apt to convey to ourselves exaggerated conceptions of barbarism from the uncouth and degraded dialect in which they are recorded. To adapt the history of such a country to the present standard of British taste, it was necessary for the author, not only to excite an interest for names which to the majority of his readers were formerly indifferent or unknown, but, what was still more difficult, to unite in his portraits the truth of nature with the softenings of art, 'conquering,' as Livy expresses it, ' the rudeness of antiquity by the art of writing.'" [Stewart's Life of Robertson, written in 1796. Was it of accident or forethought that Stewart, in praising Robertson, omitted one of the alternatives which Livy makes historical writers propose to themselves—either to give events with greater accuracy, or to conquer the rudeness of antiquity by the art of writing?—"Aut in rebus certius aliguid alla-turos, aut scribendi arte rudem vetusta-tem superaturos." The first was certainly not the chief object of our great historians of the last century.] The elegant and profound philosopher concludes that it is necessary to "correct our common impressions concerning the ancient state of Scotland by translating not only the antiquated phraseology of our forefathers into a more modern idiom, but by translating (if I may use the expression) their antiquated fashions into the corresponding fashions of our own times."

We cannot doubt that Dugald Stewart expressed the opinion of the literary world of his day. Perhaps he overlooked some of the causes which produced such a state of feeling. It was not merely the dreaded provincialism that was to be overcome—the nervousness which Scotchmen like Hume and Robertson felt in writing English. The educated Scot of the middle of last century had something harder to meet than gibes for his misplaced shall and will, these and those. There was at that time a dislike amounting to hatred of Scotland and Scots (not indeed unreturned), which it would be easy to trace upwards through the most popular writers of England— through Johnson and Swift, to Lord Strafford and Clarendon, and back to the fierce ballads of the Edwardian wars. But just then the nation had scarcely recovered its temper, ruffled by the Scotch invasion, when the unpopularity of the Bute ministry re-kindled the feeling, which men like Wilkes and Churchill blew into flame; and perhaps the anti-Scotican rage was never fiercer than when the little band of Edinburgh writers claimed a hearing from English readers, a hundred years ago.

Much of the chief difficulty—the winning the ear of an English audience to Scotch history—was overcome by Robertson himself. He was skilful in selecting his period. He was a great master of the dignified style of history; and edition after edition of his History of Scotland was sold, [Andrew Strahan (son of his first editor) wrote to him on the 19th November 1792: "the fourteenth edition of your 'Scotland' will be published in the course of the winter; and we have the satisfaction of informing you, that if we judge by the sale of your writings, your literary reputation is daily increasing."] until England was saturated with that sweet flowing narrative of the most picturesque and tragical part of our national annals.

Hume and Adam Smith were fellow-soldiers in the enterprise, and many others, whose names would be higher, had they not lived among those giants; until it was no longer a reproach to a book to have Scotland for its subject or "Edinburgh" upon its title-page, Still, it was only the thinking people who were gained. The popular prejudice against Scotland—our condemnation in the world of fashion—lasted much longer. Scotchmen who are still writing, remember how carefully they used to guard against slips in their English—how it fettered their style and even their thoughts. Scotchmen not yet dead old, remember what pain it cost them to mix in English society for fear of the disgraceful detection. What young Scot on first going to public school or college in England forty years ago, had not to endure the suppressed laugh, the little jeer, for his Scotch Greek or his native Doric!

The change in feeling—in kindliness towards us, the rise of a certain enthusiasm for Scotland, had its commencement no doubt in the works of Walter Scott. His national poems first, and still more his prose pictures of Scotch life and manners, won the hearts of Englishmen; and those who remember the feeling of boyish shame of being detected as Scotch, must remember also the marvellous change which a few years of the spells of the great Magician wrought upon the people of both countries— upon the proud, self-confident Englishman, and the sensitive half-sulky Scot.

One other circumstance has tended more than may be at once seen, to turn the tide of English feeling. Along with the Scotch romances which have so imbued the present generation with a kindness for the country that gave them birth, came the rapidly growing taste for Scotch sport—for the adventurous, rough life of the Highland shooting and fishing lodge. Englishmen learnt to love the scene of their youthful sport, and English women could not but sympathize with the scene of that simple, Arcadian life which women of the higher classes can taste nowhere else. And so, from all these causes, I believe it has come to pass that books about Scotland, its history or its manners, even unimaginative serious books, are now read with patience by all but inveterate citizens of London.

It was in that belief that, twelve months ago I ventured, much doubting, to give to the public a volume about "Scotland in the Middle Ages." A large impression of that book has now been sold; and I am not without hope that the present volume, which comes lower down, and tries to join modern thought and customs to the mediaeval, may be as acceptable as its predecessor.

As in that previous volume, the substance of the present has been offered to a small portion of the public before, though not in its present shape. The matter of some of the chapters has been prefixed to works printed for the Bannatyne Club; that of others to Maitland Club and Spalding Club works. As I said with regard to my Lectures, they did not thereby achieve anything to be called publicity. The societies I have named, like the Roxburghe Club of England, undertake chiefly the printing of books which cannot be popular, but which it is desirable to preserve and make accessible to the student. As to numbers, the Bannatyne Club (now defunct) consisted of a hundred members; the Maitland has somewhat fewer; the Spalding Club, a Northern institution, is larger, reaches about three hundred. Of the members who receive the Club works, perhaps a dozen of each of the first two—it may be twenty of the last—turn over the books, cut a few leaves (though that is rather avoided), and then the large quartos sleep undisturbed on the library shelf. Occasionally a local newspaper, of more than usual intelligence, has dug something out of those square repulsive volumes; but I may say confidently, that to the world at large, to the reading public, even to the class who read history, the present volume is entirely new matter.

I venture to think such matter is worth knowing, and if the public is of the same opinion I am prepared to go to press with a similar one, embracing (1.) Some information on the old Scotch law of Marriage and Divorce; (2.) A sketch of the state of Society before and after the Reformation in Scotland; (3.) A chapter on old Scotch Topography and Statistics.

I have to express my obligation to the Marquis of Breadalbane, and to my lamented friend the late Earl of Cawdor, for allowing me to make public here the observations I had prefixed to collections of their family papers intended for a more limited circulation.

Edinburgh, January 1861.

Table of Contents

Chapter I

Church Organization

I. —The Parish,
Meaning of the word—Different causes of placing Churches— Foundation and Founder to be traced by various circumstances—Primeval Monasteries for instructing Teachers— Glasgow Inquest of 1116—-Proof of very ancient Endowments—Other traces of ancient Endowments—Abthanies— Monasteries before David I.—Revival of Christianity in the twelfth Century—English Settlers and their Settlements— Appropriation of Tithes to specific Churches—Creation of Parish—Ednam—Melrose—Subdivision of parishes—Wiston, Roberton, Crawford-john, Symington—Culter, on the Dee— Glen-Bucket, its Origin—Arndilly, Bucharm—Lamberton— Mother Churches and Chapels—Burghal Parishes, Edinburgh, Aberdeen—Stirling, Dunipace and Larbert—David I.'s revival of Monasteries—Parish Churches absorbed—Sources of Parochial History—-Records of the Bishopric-—of Religious Houses—Ancient valuations of Benefices—Taxation of Churches for the Crusades—Antiqua Taxatio—Verus valor—Baiamund's Roll.

The Cathedral

Bishopric of Glasgow,
Kentigern—The Interval till David I.— Ancient Possessions of the Church—Church dedicated, 1136—New Acquisitions-Successive Bishops—Origin of the City—Bishop Jocelin—Restoration of Church—Tithes given from Carrick and Lennox —Papal Dictation—Burgh oppressed by Eutherglen—Judicial combat used among Churchmen—General Collection for the fabric of the Church—Archdeaconries—The Use and Constitutions of Sarum adopted—Old boundaries of the Diocese— Edward I. at Glasgow—Reign of Robert I.—Bishop Robert Wishart—Bishop Lindsay—First Hamiltons—First Bridge over Clyde—Proofs of Legitimacy of Robert III.—Inventories of Jewels and Books—Bishop Lauder—Bishop Turnbull— University Founded—Glasgow an Archbishopric—Disputes with St. Andrews—Archbishop James Bethune—The Reformation—The City of Glasgow—The Bishop's Dwellings— One day of Old Glasgow.

Bishopric of Caithness,
Bishop Andrew—Bishop John mutilated—Bishop Adam—His murder—Bishop Gilbert de Moravia—His constitution of the Cathedral—Constitution of Lincoln adopted—The Chapter of Caithness—Scotch Cathedral society of old.

Bishopric of Aberdeen,
Its foundation—Monastery of Morthlach—Bishop William Elphinstone—Policy of the old church.

II.—The Monastery

Old feudal tenures—Scotch jurisprudence—Galloway customs— State of cultivation—Pasture—Forest—Game—Old boundaries—Old roads—Early spoken language—Prices of land and value of money—Old families extinct—Seals, Arms, Early Heraldry—The Monks as landowners and patrons— Fair play to the Monks.

Culdee foundation—Re-formed by Alexander I.—The fatal stone-—Coronations at Scone—Privileges of the Abbey— Duel, ordeal—The connexion of Scone with Caithness— Family of Ruthven.

Position of the Abbey—Foundation—Destroyed by Richard II.—The last Abbot, Mark Kerr—Abbey possessions—Early coal working—Rural affairs, pasture, granges, right of passage, the Abbey wool—The Vale of Lethan—Tombs in the Abbey—Queen Mary de Couci—Catharine Mortimer—Benefactions of the Douglases—The Lindesays—Abbey buildings —Original crypt remaining.

Abbey dedicated to Thomas-a-Becket—William the Lion its founder—Rapid acquisition of property—The Culdees of Abernethy—Lay appropriation of ancient Church endowments —Ancient customs—Judicial procedure—Military service— Extent—The Brecbennach and custody of the Abbey banner— Abthanies—Old names, Abbe, Falconar, Dempster—Domestic manners, hostelage in Stirling—Culdees—Forgotten Saints— Evidence of ancient bridges over the North Esk, the Tay, the Dee, the Spey—Abbey buildings—Offices of the Abbey—The dignity of the Abbot—Burgh of Arbroath—The Harbour— Fights of the Lindesays and Ogilvies—Tomb of William the Lion—Effigy of Thomas-a-Becket—Old customs—Banking —The schoolmaster—The Abbey advocate—Great Angus families extant and extinct.

Situation—Old Roxburgh—Population of the district—Character of the Borderers—Abbey changed from Selkirk to Kelso —Historical curiosities—Edward III.'s renunciation of the superiority of Scotland—Charter of John Balliol in the tenth year of his reign—The Douglas origin—Proxies to Parliament—Boundaries of the kingdoms; of the Bishoprics of Durham and Glasgow—Celibacy of the Clergy—Wycliffe's followers—Agricultural occupation of the Abbey lands—Rental of 1290—Sheep, cattle, and brood-mares—Steel-bow —Services of tenants—Multures—Rents—Military services —Character of the Monks—Abbey buildings—Destruction of Kelso—The Abbey defaced—Style of Architecture.

Earldom of Strathearn—The old Earls—See of Dunblane— The Earls the patrons—Foundation—Endowment of the Abbey—The Earldom a Palatinate—Annexed to the Crown —Arms of Strathearn.

Chapter II.

The University.

University founded 1450-1—Papal foundation and privileges —The University before the Reformation—Ruined—College after the Reformation—Andrew Melville's teaching—Its effects—Degree of M.A.—Wodrow's Graduation—Josiah Chorley at College—College in 1672—Laureation—Ceremonies—Thesis; Wodrow's, M'Laurin's: Hutchison's Inaugural Oration—Studies in 1712—The University in later times—University buildings—Places of meetings of old—The Faculty of Arts—Auld Pedagogy—The present fabric—The Mace—Old domestic economy of the College—Reid's account of University life.

Circumstances of the district—Early schools of Aberdeen— Scarcity of books — University founded 1494 — Bishop Elphinstone; the Events of his Life and his Character—Hector Boece, the first Principal—William Hay—Vaus—First Scotch printing—The Reformation—Conference on Doctrine —Purging of the University—Wandering Scotch scholars— Barclay, Florence Wilson, John Cameron, etc.— Principal Arbuthnot—The new foundation—The University in the seventeenth century—Bishop Patrick Forbes—The Aberdeen Doctors—-Cultivation spreading in Aberdeen—Secular learning—Gordon of Straloch—The Johnstons and the Poets— Raban's Printing-press—Aberdeen Academic prints and their dates— Universitas Carolina—Rowe, Principal—Collegiate Life—Changes of Life, and of Teaching—General University Court of Scotland—The College fabric—Benefactions— Mace; Seal; Bells; Spoons; Plate—Number of Students — Some degrees abolished—Reforms suggested—Union of the Universities of Aberdeen.

Chapter III.

Home Life.

Family Papers—Papers of the Family of Morton, Origin of Douglases—Early Members—William of Douglas— Bishop Bricius—Sir William of Liddesdale—Sir James of Dalkeith—Marriage of his Daughter with Hamilton—First Arms of Hamilton—Chapel of St. Nicholas of Dalkeith— Sir James's wills, the earliest Scotch wills extant—His alliances—The Regent Morton—Line of Lochleven—Excitement of a Charter hunt-—Early Letters of Correspondence unsatisfactory—Low range of Education—Danger of writing openly—Store of State Papers at Dalmahoy.

Breadalbane Papers,
The Black Book of Taymouth—Sketch of Family History— Black Colin of Rome—Sir Duncan; slain at Flodden— Colin built Balloch—Sir Duncan ; " Black Duncan of the cowl"—His rural improvements—Building of houses and bridges—Travels—Cultivates Literature—Romances, Poetry —Sir Colin—Fond of Latin, French, and Italian—Cultivates Art—A German painter—George Jamesone—Jame-sone's prices and speed of work—List of his works at Taymouth.

Chronicle of the Curate of Fortirgall—Record of the Weather —Notice of passing Events—Deaths of Rizzio, Darnley, Murray, Archbishop Hamilton, without comment—Last Entry, 1579.

Duncan Laideue's Testament—A satirical poem—Who was Duncan Laideus?—Account of the Poem—Extracts.

Bonds of Friendship —Deeds of Adoption—Fostering in the Highlands—Its purpose—Fostering of young Argyll with Glenorchy—Correspondence about him—Clan Customs— Early Highland Farming—Usual Provisions—Household Gear—Arms—Bows and Arrows—Jewels—Plate—Furniture—Pictures—Baron Court Law—Trees—Irrigation— Speats—Wolves—Antique Law, Cleansing by Compurgators —"Borch of Hamehald"—Superstition—Whisky—Rod-Fishing in 1632—The Country Arming in 1638—Kilchurn Castle—Hereditary Bards—The Deer Forest—Police of the Country—Ferry and Hostelry—Feud with the Clan Gregor —Aquavitae—Leases to Craftsmen, the smith, the dyker, the gardener—Stud of Brood Mares—Fowling by Dog and Net —Letters of Correspondence—James VI.—Venison and Game—The White Hind—Fir Seed and Planting—The Coygerach of Saint Fillan.

The Cawdor Papers,
Scotch Thanes—Their office and rank—First Thanes of Cawdor —Minority of James II.—The Earldom of Moray—Archibald Douglas, Earl of Moray, slain at Arkinholme, 1455— Thane William in Office at Court—Chamberlain beyond Spey—His Accounts in Exchequer—Domestic History of King James II.—The King comes to Moray—Lives at Elgin —Hunting at Darnaway—Cawdor Castle—Old Cawdor— The Hawthorn Tree—The present Castle built, 1454— Thane William the last male of the old race—Muriel the Heiress—The Campbells—Sir John—John Campbell of Cawdor murdered at Knepoch—Isla—Family Misfortunes— John the Fiar cognosced—Contracts for Building—Civil War—General pillage—Sir Hugh—Familiar Letters begin— The Knight's Education—Marries Lady Henrietta Stewart—Parliamentary Life in Edinburgh—Produce of Isla— Occupants of the hills, grouse, sheep, deer—Housekeeper's Commissions—Inverness merchant, general dealer, and banker —The Lady of Cawdor notable—Education of the Children —Girls' Schooling—The Library at the Castle—Persecuting Laws mitigated by neighbourly kindness—New Building Contracts—Essay on the Lord's Prayer—Sir Hugh's Correspondence with the Church Courts—Highland Dress—Political Opinions—Sir Hugh sends his Grandson to join Mar in 1715—His Death and Funeral—Report on the State of the Property, 1726-Notices of early Planting and Gardening—The Family change their residence to Wales-Cawdor as it is.

Kilravock Papers,
A little Pedigree—The Bysets and their Norman kindred— Hugh de Rose and Mary de Bosco—Large possessions— Early styles—Extent of 1295—Papers show steady progress of civilisation—Character of the family—Building of the tower, 1460—The ninth baron in prison—Gardening in 1536—The black baron, a remarkable person: of no party, yet trusted by all—William the eleventh baron, and Lilias Hay—Hugh, the twelfth—Mr. Hew, the historian's, conclusion—Seneca translated—The fourteenth baron at school; at Aberdeen; married to Margaret Innes—Religious correspondence—The fifteenth baron—The affair at Inverness in the '15—Young lady's school—Her marriage—Planting—Drinking — The library — The Baron settles at Coulmony — "Geddes" marries and settles at Kilravock, 1739—Betty Clephane—Dunrobin—Mr. Lewis—Peaceful occupations— Sport—Prince Charles Edward and the Duke of Cumberland at Kilravock in the '45—A Whig cup—Gardening—Fruit— Geddes a scholar—Critical in Greek—Reluctance to ask the Sheriffship—His music—Occupations out of doors—The Clephane brothers—Doctor Clephane—His early life and travels —His friends—Dr. Mead—David Hume—Settles in London —Success in his profession—His kindness to his relations— Letter of Elizabeth Rose to him—His last letter—His death —Dr. William Hunter's esteem for him—The Major—Lieutenant Arthur's letter from Quebec—Hon. General Caulfield —Mrs. Elizabeth Rose—Burns's visit—Hugh Miller's estimate of her—Branches of Kilravock—General love borne by them to the chief house—Stewart Rose—General Sir Hugh Rose—The old place.


I.—Preservation of the Records of the Bishopric of Glasgow (p. 29),
Scots College pillaged in the French Revolution—Abbe McPherson—Papers of Cardinal York—Information collected by Mr. Dennistoun—Adventures of Robert Watson.

II.—Oath of a Suffragan to his Archbishop (p. 63),
Henry Bishop-elect of Whithern takes the oath to the Archbishop of Glasgow, 1530—Terms of the Oath.

III.—Early Scotch (p. 109),
Reference to Scotland in the Middle Ages, p. 260.

IV.—Serfs: Colliers and Salters (pp. 125, 193), . .498 Fugitive Slaves—Their Gaelic Name—Early Serfs—Colliers and Salters—Stair's law—Erskine's—Hugh Miller's Account of a Collier Village-—Lord Cockburn's History of the Law of Colliers and Salters—Extract from Weekly Mercury, 1778.

V.—The Complaint of the Abbot of Arbroath, 1460-1470 (p. 170),
Written Pleading in Scotch against Encroachments of Lairds of Meldrum on the Abbey Lands of Tarves, etc.

VI.—Family Jewels and Valuables of Glenurchy, entailed, 1640 (p. 379),
Jewels—Plate—Arms and Armour—Beds and hangings— Arras—Damask linen—Holland—Pewter and tin—Pans and pots—Pictures—The Great Genealogy—Clocks—Organs— Harpsichords—Brewing Vessels—Furniture of Charter Room —Cattle—Mares—Cursours—Sheep—Chandlers.

VII.—Letters at Taymouth (p. 387),
Letter to the Keeper of Kilchurn, 1570—From the King, requesting game for the Baptism of Prince Henry. From Sir D. Murray—Eagles for Sport—a Horse from the Prince. From the Earl of Mar—Fox hunting—Earth clogs. From the Lord Treasurer—Venison and game for the King's visit, 1633. From John Dickson—Capercailzie—Valuables sent to the Highlands for Safety, 1651. From James VI.—The White Hind of Corrichiba. From Sir P. Murray—The same. From the King—The same. From Charles I.—Levying Bowmen for the French War, 1627. From the Lords of Council—Muster of Highlandmen in their country habit and Arms, .1633. From the Earl of Lauderdale—Fir seed— From the same. From the Marchioness of Hamilton—Planting Fir—Lord Lindsay, a great planter. From Jameson the Painter—From the same—His Prices —His Despatch. From William Bowie, the writer of the Black Booh—Account of his Pupils, 1619.

VIII. The Thane of Cawdor's Western Journey, 1591
(p. 414),Note of Expense in Travelling—In Taylone—Inverary—Dun-deraw—Lochgoilhead—The Carrick—Dunoon-—Ferry at Finlayston—At the Water of Leven—Dumbarton—Glasgow —Servants' Wages—Horse Corn and Bread—Lodging— Food—Drink—Payments to the Piper—Player on the Lute —Lowland Harper—Linlithgow—Edinburgh—Linlithgow —Stirling—Doune—Stirling—Leith—Stirling—Edinburgh, 7th November 1591.

IX. The Murder of John Campbell of Cawdor (p. 414),
Quarrel between Cawdor and Ardkinglas—Cawdor murdered—Ardkinglas accused as guilty—Uses Witchcraft—Threatened with torture, confesses, and accuses others as accomplices— Later, recalls his Declaration—Little weight to his Testimony—His mock Trial—Diet deserted.

X. How the Thane of Cawdor won Islay (p. 416),
Isla; of fabulous fertility; much coveted by the Western Highlanders—His claim over it sold by Angus M'Donald to Sir John Campbell of Cawdor—Angus dies—Isla seized by Antrim — Cawdor commissioned to recover it—Advice of Privy Council as to his proceeding—Royal Commission with power of fire and sword—Antrim's obligation to deliver up the Island— Royal approbation and indemnity—Sir James Macdonald escapes from the Castle of Edinburgh—Raises the Islesmen—Wins Isla and Kantyre—Defeated by Argyll —Sir James's adventures—Cawdor in full possession of Isla.

XI. Account of the Expenses of the Family op Cawdor about 1698 (p. 429),
Meal and Malt—Meat—Groceries—Wine and Brandy— Tobacco and Pipes—Bed and Table Linen—Dishes, &c.— Servants' Wages (including a Chaplain).

XII. Dr. Clephane's Journey to Kilravock, 1750 (p. 473),
Note of Miles— Leaves Scarborough—Helmsley—Northallerton—Rievaulx—Darlington—Durham—Newcastle — Tyne-mouth — Morpeth — Alnwic — Berwic — East Lothian — Edinburgh —-Dundee—Aberdeen — Bog-a-Gicht, miserably furnished—Elgin—A great deal of Building—Any Records? —Advantages of Moray.



The Coygerach (or Quigrich) of St. Fillan has emigrated to Canada, as mentioned in the text (p. 394). Dr. Daniel Wilson, Professor of History, at Toronto, the author of Pre-historic Annals of Scotland, who drew public attention to it in that valuable book, has been fortunate enough to disinter the actual relic in his new country. Dr. Wilson takes it for granted that it was the reliquary used for containing the arm of St. Fillan, and explains how it may have served that purpose. That supposition seems to me mistaken; and the drawing and description given by Dr. Wilson leave no doubt that, whatever may have become of the arm of the Saint and its case, the Coygerach was one of those rich crozier-heads so frequently met with in church treasuries in Catholic countries, many of which have had mysterious virtues attributed to them.

It is, says Dr. Wilson, a beautiful and elaborately wrought shepherd's crook, of silver gilt, wrought on a hollow core of copper, and measures nine and a quarter inches in height, and nearly seven and a half inches across from the point of the crook. The interlaced knot-work and other ornamentation is such as is well known on some of the silver and goldsmiths' work of early Italian work. The front is jewelled with a large oval crystal. Above this is a figure or bust of an ecclesiastic; while the lower end of the ridge terminates in the form of a snake's head, common on bronze relics of a late period.

The relic is now in the possession of Mr. Alexander Dewar, whose father carried it to Canada in 1818, and whose name, as well as the custody of the Coygerach, seems to mark him as a descendant of the Deores, the ancient custodiers.

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