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Perth, the Ancient Capital of Scotland
Chapter XXII

From the Rebellion of 1715 to the Rebellion of 1745 the only prominent event connected with Perth was what is known as the Secession Movement under Ebenezer Erskine, which began in 1732-33. Erskine denounced the principles of some of his •ecclesiastical brethren, and the matter came before the General Assembly on 3rd May, 1733. Erskine was heard in his defence, but there was a majority against him. He and three of his supporters were deposed, and in November they were loosed from their charges. They met with their friends at Gairney Bridge, near Kinross, on 15th December following, and formed themselves into a presbytery, as a body distinct from the Church of Scotland. The event created great excitement, not only in Perth, but all over Scotland. It was not till 1740 that they were fairly severed by a judicial act of the General Assembly from the Established Church. The body rapidly increased in numbers, and eventually they formed themselves into a Synod. Mr. William Wilson, one of the Perth ministers, and a pious and godly man, was prominent in this Secession, because he refused to recognise certain doctrines, and owing to the decision of the General Assembly he was, by the Magistrates, prohibited from occupying his pulpit The Magistrates having received the Moderator's letter on Sunday morning:— "They came to guard the church door, and when they saw their minister coming they shut the door upon him." Mr. Wilson:—"In the name of my Divine Master I demand admission into this temple." The demand was three times made and three times refused. The crowd, who sympathised with Wilson, were about to stone the authorities and force an entrance. Mr. Wilson:—"No violence, my friends; the Master whom I serve is the Prince of Peace." The Dean of the Glover Incorporation offered Wilson the Glover yard for the services of the day, which was accepted. Wilson was followed by an immense crowd, and the service was conducted with great solemnity. Another building was soon erected for this venerable and much-esteemed minister, and this was the foundation of the Wilson Church. There is an interesting entry in the Council Records regarding Wilson:—

The Commissary of St Andrews confirms Robert Watson of Sheillhill as executor dative to the late William Wilson, minister at Perth, on the nth January, 1742, in and to the sum of 282 13s. 4d. Scots, owing to the deceased by the town of Perth as the price of the victual stipend payable by them for crop and year 1740 omitted from deceased's testament by the executor, but now come to his knowledge. David Adamson, burgess of St. Andrews, became cautioner for the executor that this sum would be safe and forthcoming to those legally entitled to it

About this period Mr. Glas appeared on the scene. He was deposed from his church at Tealing in 1728, and 1733 he erected a church in Perth, which was the foundation of the Glasites,

In 1736 the navigation of the Tay occupied the attention of the Magistrates, who evidently discussed the matter with the Lord Advocate(Drummond). The points raised affected the trade of Perth considerably. There were no railways at that period, consequently the local traders were dependent on vessels coming up the river and discharging cargo at Perth harbour. The matter was intelligibly put in the following appeal from the Magistrates to the Government authorities:—

The fords and banks of the Tay near Perth having of late become much shallower, we have been obliged to unload our vessels at Newburgh, where there is a very commodious quay. But as both that and the one at Errol have been built since the Port of Perth was laid out by commission from the Exchequer in 1710, neither of these has been declared lawful for loading and unloading goods; and for that reason the Board of Customs have not authorised goods to be exported or imported at either place, but only at Perth. We cannot be on a footing with our neighbours unless we import our goods in vessels which come up to Perth; and if this inhibition is continued several vessels belonging to this place will be rendered useless and our merchants compelled to import their goods in small vessels or of unloading their goods at Dundee and be at the expense of carrying them from there and thereby be undersold by our neighbours and our trade ruined. We beg you will make such application to the Commissioners of Customs as you think proper for an order from the Treasury to allow the discharge of goods at Newburgh and Errol or alternatively that the Exchequer issue a new commission for the inspection of this place in order to declare Newburgh and Errol lawful quays of the district It is necessary that no privilege be granted these places that would involve the removal of the Custom House from Perth and perhaps drain the burgh of its principal traders. This permission to be restricted to vessels belonging to Perth and freighted by our merchants. For some years past the river has been taking a strange turn with a narrow unnavigable rapid channel. We must endeavour if possible to divert the current back to the old channel; and if the town is unable for the expense or if the fishery proprietors attempt to stop us, we might apply to the public for support We are, etc

There is reason to believe that the Custom House authorities complied with this proposal, as the Perth Custom House was not disturbed, and Newburgh and Errol were allowed to retain their status quo.

A list of the Justices of the Peace for the County of Perth for 1740 has been preserved, and as a contrast to the list of to-day we reproduce it as being a paper of considerable interest:—

It is recorded in 1740 that there was a great scarcity of provisions in Perth which obliged the Town Council to order from England 600 quarters of peas and 200 quarters of oats. 300 was borrowed from the Perth Old Bank to pay the same. The Council also ordered from London 17 in half-pence and 50 in farthings. Evidently small coin was then very scarce. The reason for this scarcity of provisions is not explained, but the condition of the Ancient Capital at that period was unsatisfactory, arising from the antagonism between the military and the inhabitants and the oppressive system of billeting, a state of matters which culminated in the Rebellion of 1745.


On Tuesday, 25th August, the Council gave a purse of forty guineas, to be run for on the South Inch by any horse not exceeding five years old, carrying ten stones, the best of three heats, each heat three miles. On Wednesday, 26th August, they gave a purse of thirty guineas for four-year-old horses carrying nine stones, the best of three heats, each heat two miles. On Friday, 28th August, they gave a purse of forty guineas for six-year-old horses carrying eleven stones, and the best of three one-mile heats. To enter three days before starting. An assembly took place every night, and a large public room was prepared where ladies and gentlemen dined and supped at the ordinary.

The following is a very curious incident in our local history, and is preserved without any explanation whatever. The communication is from the Lord Advocate, dated at Edinburgh, 7th September, 1743, and addressed to James Sibbald, keeper of the Tolbooth, Perth:—

The Justice Clerk on an information signed by me, granted warrant to arrest and incarcerate in the Tolbooth of Aberdeen, John Kennedy, Duncan and James Macgregor and others for theft committed in Aberdeenshire. But I know of no warrant obtained by me for imprisoning any of them in the Tolbooth of Perth. I was informed after they were apprehended that some of your Magistrates used the freedom of altering the warrant of the Justice Clerk and ordained the thieves to be imprisoned in Perth. Out of which by your neglect, as appears by a prerogative taken by the Magistrates, James Macgregor, the most guilty of them, after he had confessed the whole crime, was allowed to escape, and therefore both you and the Magistrates being answerable for the keeper of their gaol will be liable for damages to the gentlemen concerned. More than six months ago I acquainted your Magistrates that I was satisfied Kennedy and Duncan Macgregor should be liberated on bail, which I am told they offered; and it was unnecessary to detain them in prison. Had these thieves been carried to the prison of Aberdeen as the Justice Clerk's warrant demanded, none of them could have escaped, and that county had agreed to be at the expense of their trial and maintenance. But as that warrant was not obeyed and the thieves put in your Tolbooth in the midst of their friends without any warrant by me, you may ask payment of their aliment from whom you will, but I'll pay none of it nor take concern directly or indirectly with Kennedy and Duncan Macgregor's liberation. This you may communicate to the Magistrates and Justices of the Peace if you incline, as my answer.

There is a letter under date 4th April, 1744, from John Coutts, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, ancestor of the Baroness Burdett Coutts, to Patrick Crie, Provost of Perth. He had heard that a large cargo of linen and other goods, loaded by the townspeople on board of a vessel for London, had been unloaded since the declaration of war (with France) until the navigation could be rendered safer by convoys; and believing that Dundee and other ports might be in the same situation, he had called a meeting of the Convention of Burghs, and by their unanimous order had written to the agent at London to solicit from the Board of Admiralty ships to be stationed on their coast, and convoys for their shipping; also to the Lord Advocate (Robert Craigie of Glendoick) as a member of Committee, and to their own member. From this date the accounts of the town were authorised to be kept in sterling money in place of Scots.


On that memorable night in July, 1745, when Prince Charles Edward landed on Long Island in the Hebrides, he little thought what privations lay before him ere his mission could be accomplished. The Highland chiefs were very unwilling to raise the standard of rebellion, as they had grave doubts of success, and they had not forgotten Mar's management of 1715. Though they used all their eloquence to persuade the Prince to return to France, it was of no avail Eventually young Macdonald of Clanranald joined him, and thereafter others followed his example. The movement spread, and gradually a large number flocked to his standard. The Prince was a young man of remarkable personal attractions and fascinating address, and was well qualified to make an impression on all with whom he came in contact His rank and the romance of his adventure made him a favourite specially with the fair sex, to whom not a little of his success and his ultimate escape are due. When it became known that he meant to visit Perth and probably remain some time, the citizens became alarmed. He had arrived at Blair Castle, travelling from the Hebrides via Fort Augustus and Dalwhinnie, and had sent on Lord Nairne and Lochiel in front of him with 400 soldiers to proclaim him at Dunkeld. On the 3rd September, 1745, he entered Perth, of which he obtained undisputed possession. He wore a Stuart tartan dress trimmed with gold. He was accompanied by the Duke of Perth at the head of 200 men, Viscount Strathallan and his son, the Honourable William Murray, Laurence Oliphant of Gask and his son, Mercer of Aldie, John Roy Stewart, Robertson of Struan, and others. They repaired to the Mercat Cross of Perth and proclaimed the Chevalier de St George, his father, as King, with a warrant authorising the Prince to act as Regent in his absence. Laurence Oliphant was made deputy-governor of Perth. The house chosen as the temporary residence of the Prince was that of Lord Stormont, an antique house with a wooden front on the site now covered by the National Bank. It is recorded that the magistrates, town clerk, and some of the leading inhabitants, who were Royalists, left Perth and went to Edinburgh. The Prince remained eight days at Perth, and daily reviewed his troops on the North Inch. He was an early riser, and every morning wrote his despatches and drilled his troops. The Jacobites in Perth and neighbourhood got up a ball in honour of his visit, and it appears they were much insulted because he retired from the assembly when the first dance was over. On Sunday 8th September the Prince attended the Protestant service, when Mr. Armstrong, the preacher, took for his text Isaiah xiv. 1-2. The Prince had evidently spent all his money. When he arrived here he showed one of his friends his purse, which contained only a guinea, the last of 400 which he had brought from France. In the march from Glenfinnan he gave the chiefs what money they required to pay their men. While at Perth he proceeded to levy the cess and public revenue in name of his father, while those who were too timid to join his standard sent sums of money to aid his cause. The contribution exacted from Perth was 500, which was paid by the Corporation. The Prince left on the nth September, taking with him as prisoners of war Patrick Crie, late Provost, David Sandeman, and others; all of whom he set free at Auchterarder, on his way to Stirling and Edinburgh. How these citizens were captured we are not informed. At Dunblane the Prince remained on the night of the 12th. On the 13th he passed through Doune, and accepted the hospitality of Mr. Edmon-ston of Cambus. It would appear that the gentlewomen of the district had assembled to see him pass. He drew up before Edmonston House, and without alighting from his horse drank a glass of wine to the health of the fair ladies present When he had finished his wine, the ladies begged, in respectful terms, the honour of kissing his hand. This favour he granted with his usual grace, but Miss Clementina Edmonston thought she might obtain a much more satisfactory taste of Royalty, and made bold to ask permission to "pree his Royal Highness's mou'." The Prince did not at first understand this Scottish phrase, but it was no sooner explained to him than he took her in his arms and gave her a hearty kiss, to the no small vexation of the other ladies, who had contented themselves with so much less liberal a share of princely grace.1

On the 17th September the Prince arrived in Edinburgh, where he remained some time. At his balls, which were held in the picture gallery of Holyrood, he was careful to dress very elegantly, wearing on some occasions a habit of fine silk tartan with crimson velvet breeches, and at other times an English Court dress, with the Ribbon, Star, and order of the Garter. White ribbon and breast knots became conspicuous articles of female attire in private assemblies. The ladies showed considerable zeal in contributing plate and other articles for his use at Holyrood, and in raising pecuniary subsidies for him. Many a treasured necklace and repeater, many a jewel which had adorned successive generations of family beauties was at this time sold or pledged to raise a little money for the service of Prince Charlie. From Edinburgh the Prince's forces advanced to Preston, where, after a pitched battle, they defeated Sir John Cope, who commanded the King's troops. Their march south was interrupted by a report that the Duke of Cumberland at the head of an army was marching against them, and they returned to Scotland. On 30th October, the anniversary of King George II.'s birthday, while the Prince and his troops were in Edinburgh, a number of workmen, tradesmen, and a mob, about midday took possession of the church and steeple of Perth, and rang the bells. Oliphant, the Governor, ordered them to desist, but they refused, and rang the bells till midnight The mob made bonfires on the street, ordered the windows to be illuminated, and broke the windows of those who refused. Oliphant sent a party of soldiers to disperse the mob. The soldiers fired and wounded several of them, on which the mob rushed on the soldiers, disarmed and wounded several of them. After this the guards at all the town's gates took possession of the main guard, rung the fire bell, and drew about 200 persons to join their enterprise. They then sent a messenger to the Governor requesting him immediately to deliver up their arms and ammunition and to withdraw from the town. The Governor refused. A skirmish began at 2 a.m. and lasted three hours. The mob fired on the Council Chambers from the heads of the lanes, windows, and from behind stairs. Four of the mob were wounded, and one of the Governor's party was killed and three or four wounded. To prevent any similar outbreak, a hundred of the Prince's followers were added to the previous garrison. Cluny Macpherson joined the Prince, and in company with the Master of Lovat contributed 800 soldiers, which was a substantial addition to the reinforcements already at Perth. Great efforts were made to augment the Prince's forces. The total number at Perth amounted to 4,000, one half of whom were Highlanders. The Prince's followers now marched to Stirling, and his cause became so popular that his retinue there is reported to have been no less than 9,000. With this force the Prince gave battle on 17th January to the Royalists under Hawley at Falkirk, and after much fighting defeated them with great slaughter. It would appear that 500 of the Royalists were killed and 20 officers; while the Prince's loss was inconsiderable. The Prince returned to Stirling, thence to Dunblane and Crieff. He held a council of war at Ferntower, the seat of Sir David Baird, when it was resolved to put the army in two divisions, one chiefly composed of Highlanders to march direct north of the Highland Road, the other to proceed to Perth and go by the east coast to Montrose, Aberdeen, and Inverness. The same evening, 2nd February, Lord George Murray arrived at Perth from Ferntower with his division and went on to Atholl as directed. The Duke of Cumberland now arrived on the scene, and with his followers resolved to pursue the Prince. He reached Perth on 6th February, but the Prince and his followers had gone. When the Duke ascertained the actual state of matters he gave up the chase, but remained in Perth a few days and plundered the residences and carried away the effects of those known to be Jacobites. At this time a force of 5,000 Hessians arrived from Edinburgh under the Prince of Hesse, brother-in-law of the Duke. They remained at Perth for some years after the Rebellion, and encamped on the North Inch on the west side of the old Dunkeld Road, which then ran through the Inch at Balhousie. Shortly after this, viz., on 16th April, the battle of Culloden took place, when Prince Charlie and his forces through mismanagement were defeated. It may be said that with this event the Rebellion totally collapsed and the history of the Ancient Capital thereafter became "as dull as ditch-water." This Rebellion presented none of the features of that of 1715. Prince Charlie was admired by the Scottish people, and was a general favourite. In the Highlands he was strongly supported, and had every reason to believe that his cause would be triumphant Up to the date of the unfortunate battle of Culloden, both he and his supporters had great hopes of ultimate success. At Falkirk he defeated the Royalists, and all along the line he was successful. At Culloden his defeat was due not to any want of bravery on the part of his troops, but because of the foolish conduct of the Macdonalds, who refused to fight because they were placed on the left wing and not on the right, the place of honour. This defeat was an overwhelming calamity to the Prince, as his chances of success were for ever blighted. There was nothing left for him but to return to France, and leave the House of Hanover in undisputed possession of the throne. The accommodation for all these troops who were occupying the town during the Rebellion and after was quite inadequate, if we may judge from the Records of the time. Evidently the venerable Church of St John had to be utilised for the purpose, in proof of which we find the following one of many accounts lodged against the town:—

1746—The good town of Perth to John Anderson

1140 deals for soldiers to lie on in the kirk and meeting houses, and for the use of his Majesty's forces (839 returned) - 13 12 0

12 planks for gangways for boating the horses to cross the river......1 10 0

The town of Perth to John Blair, wright

Laying of seats in the churches with deals and levelling some of the lofts for the Duke's army to lie upon......5 0 0

The tacksmen of the Town's Fishings had a hard time of it It is recorded that on the 14th March, 1746, the whole of the fishing boats were ordered up to Perth by the military, and were detained there till the 24th, and the tacksmen were afterwards allowed to take them back. The fishers were strictly charged not to use them except from sunrise to sunset, which resolution was in force till 16th April. Again on the 1st July the boats were ordered to Perth to continue there for two days. On 25th July another order was issued for bringing the boats to Perth, which caused the fishers to give up work for the season. The tacksmen appealed to the town for compensation for their loss.

We come now to a famous incident—Lady Nairne's connection with this Rebellion. Her ladyship was a strong Jacobite, and what she did on this memorable occasion is one of the most interesting features of the rising of 1745. Among the depositions of the rebel prisoners, taken after all was over, we find the following, taken before the Sheriff at Perth, 18th March, 1746:—

Patrick M'Farlane deponed that on 31st October, early in the morning before he got out of bed, Andrew Forsyth, servant to Lady Nairne at Marie-hall, and James Bisset in Greenhaugh, came to him and stated that Lady Nairne ordered him immediately to meet with her other tenants at five mile house in order to go to Perth and assist in quelling a mob, and if he refused Forsyth and Bisset were to carry away his horses and black cattle to the Highlanders. On which the deponent got out of bed and went to the five mile house, where he found Lady Nairne's tenants convened. He also found there Mrs. May Nairne, daughter of Lady Nairne, and wife of Duncan Robertson, and Mrs. Mary and Mrs. Harriet Nairne, also daughters of Lady Nairne. He heard these ladies insisting on the tenants to go to Perth, which the tenants did. The leaders put white cockades into the bonnets of such of them as would allow them. Andrew Finlay said that Mrs. Mary and Mrs. Harriet Nairne came to his house on 31st October and ordered him instantly to go to Perth. He went same evening, and was obliged to join the rebel guard in the Council House and to take up arms. He was present when the guards fired on the townspeople, also when a Frenchman was shot dead by a bullet from the street William Watson said that on the 31st of October these ladies came to his house and ordered him and his neighbours instantly to repair to the House of Nairne. They did so, and the ladies ordered them to go to Perth and assist as a guard to Lord Strathallan. On he and his neighbours refusing to go, Mrs. Mary Nairne threatened to seize their whole bestial and send it to the Highlanders at Perth, on which he and his neighbours were obliged to go, and the rebels forced them to take up arms. Adam Robertson said that on 31st October a Frenchman came to Nairne House about one o'clock in the morning and roused the family out of bed After he had spoken to the three young ladies they came downstairs and told him that

the Frenchman told them that the townspeople of Perth had risen in a mob against Lord Strathallan, and he was in danger. The ladies ordered him and others to meet at the five mile house and go to Perth to assist in quelling the mob, which he did. Margaret Fordyce, servant to Lady Nairne, said that on 31st October she saw some of the men-servants carry to the five mile house several loaves of oat bread and several gallons of ale. William Boyd said that he told him and two others to go to Perth and join the rebels, but they refused They were ushered into Lady Nairne's bedroom, and her ladyship insisted on their going to Perth at once and joining the rebels. If they refused to go, she could hold the clans no longer from them. They agreed to go. John Fogo said that he was ordered by Lady Nairne to rouse twelve of the tenants to go to Perth and assist Lord Strathallan. He was called into her bedroom and requested to go to Perth. He was at the five mile house and saw the ladies putting white cockades in the tenants' bonnets. Andrew Finlay said that the Saturday evening before the King's birthday he and two others being sent for went to the House of Nairne and were shown into Lady Nairne's bedroom. He stood at the door and heard Lady Nairne ordering them to go to Perth and assist Lord Strathallan, failing which she would plunder all their goods and throw them to the door. John M'Ainsh, Crieff, said that as he was travelling from Stirling to Crieff he was intercepted and held a prisoner by Duncan M'Ainsh, servant to the Duke of Perth at Drummond Castle and two others, who took four letters from him, and after threatening him for carrying letters prejudicial to the Duke he was taken prisoner to Drummond Castle. The letters were then shown to the Duchess. Her ladyship said to him "it was not worth her while to punish him at present for carrying these letters, but that he and the other Crieff people were d------d Judases to their master, the Duke of Perth. He would be severely handled if he carried any more letters of that kind."

The papers in connection with the '45 include the declarations of twenty-three State prisoners taken between the 10th and the 15th of February, 1746, and examinations of 113 State prisoners committed at Perth from 21st April to 22nd July, 1746. Precognitions of witnesses from April to December, 1746. There is also an alphabetical list of State prisoners committed to the Tolbooth of Perth since 1st February, 1746. Among these were Sir James Kinloch Nevay, Lieutenant-Colonel in Lord Ogilvie's Regiment; and Messrs. Alexander and Charles Kinloch, captains in the same regiment; Lady Nairne and Lady Strathallan, who instigated persons to the Rebellion; Henry Clark, resi-denter in Edinburgh, Lieutenant and Adjutant of the Clan M'Intosh, who died in prison at Carlisle; John M'Naughton, watchmaker in Edinburgh, Perthshire squadron of the rebel army, who was said to have killed Colonel Gardiner— he denied the fact, but was executed at Carlisle; Alexander Dalmahoy, only son of Sir Alexander Dalmahoy; John Stewart of Balado, Kinross (who on his own confession was an officer in the rebel army in 1715), one of five persons at Carlisle not tried, and in hopes of being discharged for want of evidence. In 1746 the Duchess of Perth and Lady Strathallan are said to have been prisoners in Edinburgh Castle.

The effect of these proceedings was that the burgh was left destitute of local government, a state of matters that called for prompt attention. It was the duty of the inhabitants to take steps to have the town restored to its normal condition. From Michaelmas, 1745, to June, 1746, there were neither Magistrates nor Council. The annual election usually took place at Michaelmas, but the town being in possession of the Jacobites, no election took place in 1745. Certain of the inhabitants forwarded a petition to the King desiring him to order an election according to the ancient constitution, along with proper persons to carry it out This petition was reasonable, and came before the Court at Kensington on 28th May, 1746, when the following deliverance was given:—

Whereas the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General have reported that they have considered the same together with the order made by his late Majesty on 10th March, 1715, they are of opinion that his Majesty authorise the same persons who might have elected the Magistrates and Council at Michaelmas last had they not been prevented by the rebels to proceed to such election now or on a day to be named by his Majesty. His Majesty, taking into consideration the peace and good government of the burgh, hereby orders the Magistrates and Council who served for the past year to proceed on 9th June next to the election of a council for 1746 in same manner as they would have done but for the rebellion, and afterwards such elections to be continued according to the constitution.

The Magistrates at this period manifested a weakness for presenting addresses, as the following will show. They began with an address to the King:—

Perth, 10th June, 1746.

We, your Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, the Magistrates and Common Council of Perth, now that in your royal clemency we again enjoy our privileges as a royal burgh by your order in Council of 28th May last, authorising us to elect magistrates and councillors, according to our ancient constitution, by which we were deprived by the late horrid Rebellion. We beg leave, with hearts full of gratitude to Heaven, humbly to congratulate your Majesty on the blessed event of the crushing of that most wicked and audacious attempt of traitors against your Majesty's crown, and all that is valuable to your loyal subjects. When we reflect how those infatuated rebels, whom no oaths can bind nor money soften, were elated and their numbers increased by their success against some of your Majesty's troops at Preston, how they impudently and impiously construed the tempestuous winds and rain, which prevented their total overthrow by your Majesty's troops at Falkirk, as the interposition of Heaven on their behalf: and when we reflect how that great multitude of traitors, on the approach of our glorious deliverer, H.R.H. the Duke, at the head of your Majesty's troops, did retreat and fly before him, till in the near neighbourhood of these barbarous northern parts, where a spirit of much dis-loyality is chiefly cherished. He defeated them in battle, and we cannot but, with the atheism and infidelity of the age, observe the hand of God in this event; as thereby His Royal Highness, being in the heart of that rebellious country, has it more in his power to complete our deliverance and to prevent our fears of any after attempts of these silly fools of haughty France. May the Most High God, by whom kings reign, continue graciously to preserve your Majesty's person and government and the succession to the Crown of Britain in your illustrious house to the latest ages, for as the true interest of your Majesty and Royal Family and that of the people of Great Britain and Ireland are inseparable, both as to sacred and civil concerns, the stability of your Throne must fill our most enlarged wishes, and this shall ever be our prayer to God.

Patrick Crie, Provost.

The 11th of June, 1746, was a day to be remembered in the annals of the Ancient Capital, as an event of great importance took place on that occasion, the gift of Gowrie House and grounds by the Magistrates to the Duke of Cumberland in recognition of his having crushed the Rebellion by his victory of Culloden. It will be observed from what follows how careful the authorities were not to name Gowrie House, but merely to give the boundaries of the property. This is the Duke who was called the "bloody butcher" for the cruelties he committed at the close of this Rebellion:—

On the 11th June, 1746, in presence of Patrick Crie, Provost of Perth and others, compeered on the ground of the lodging, buildings, etc., after specified, Thomas Cockayne, Lieutenant - Colonel of Major-General Poultney's regiment of foot, John Mordaunt, Brigadier-General, as attorney for the Duke of Cumberland; and exhibited a disposition of 9th June current granted by the Magistrates of Perth, whereby they dispone to the said Duke and his heirs, etc, the lodgings, houses, buildings, gardens with the pertinents thereto, as follows:—all and whole these lodging, tenements, houses, buildings, cellars, vaults, areas, gardens, summer houses, walks, avenues, wells belonging to the town of Perth, and purchased by them from General David Leslie in 1659, lying within the burgh of Perth, and bounded by the Watergate and Speygate and east end of South Street on the west; the vennel from the Watergate to the Tay on the north; the Tay on the east, and the dock of the South Pier or shore of Perth on the south. Infeftment to be made and granted to the said William, Duke of Cumberland These things were so said and done on the ground of the said lodgings, as also stated in presence of Major Richard Ligard of General Poultney's regiment of foot, Brigadier Worge and Walter Miller, Patrick Murray and Thomas Drummond, writers in Perth.

This presentation was accompanied by the following addresses:-—

We, the Magistrates and Common Council of Perth, beg to express our gratitude for his Majesty's (your Royal father's) clemency in restoring to us our ancient privileges, and for your great goodness to us on this occasion; and at the same time to congratulate your Royal Highness on the happy event of your glorious success at the head of his Majesty's troops against a numerous army of rebels and traitors against whom and all other enemies of our gracious sovereign, King George, and the tranquillity of Europe: may God ever honour your Royal Highness with repeated successes, till you bring down the pride and arrogance of France, by whose infatuated fools the ruin of Britain has of late been threatened and attempted. As your Royal Highness was graciously pleased to do us the honour to accept of an absolute right from us to some houses and gardens as a testimony of our gratitude to you as the deliverer of our native country from misery, we beg leave to represent that when our elections were finished on the 9th current, we signed a deed of conveyance of the subject to your Royal Highness, and have this day, at the sight of Brigadier-General Mordaunt, expected your infeftment and investiture. Which writs, with a diploma giving the freedom of this corporation to your Royal Highness, we hope you will allow us to put in your hands before you leave Scotland. That the blessings of Heaven may always be showered plentifully on your Royal Highness and every other branch of your family is our earnest prayer. Signed at Perth nth June, 1746.

Patrick Crie, Provost

It is noticeable that at this important presentation the Duke of Cumberland was not present He appears to have been for the time at Fort Augustus. Amongst the archives of the town there is an account of the expenses of Provost Crie, Bailie Robert Robertson, John Robertson of Tulliebelton, and George Miller, town clerk, for their journey to Fort Augustus, with two servants and six horses, to present the address from the town of Perth to H.R.H. the Duke of Cumberland, amounting to 16 7s. 5d. sterling, disbursed by Tulliebelton in June, 1746, and discharged in November following. This was not the final disposal of this notable property, but each of its various transfers was always accompanied with a degree of mystery.

Immediately following this event, the Magistrates petitioned the Duke on another matter:—

That by the present embargo on shipping at Perth the whole inhabitants are in want of coals, the only materials there of firing for brewing, baking, and other necessary uses; they being the scarcer when every family provides themselves with coals by water via Firth of Forth. About 300 vessels are ordinarily discharged at Perth each summer. If your Royal Highness is not graciously pleased to give permission to a sufficient number of ships to sail from the Forth to Perth with coals till the inhabitants are sufficiently provided, the brewers and bakers will of necessity in a very few days be stopt; and his Majesty's troops and the inhabitants of the town must be deprived of the necessaries of life and thereby besides other inexpressible hardships his Majesty's excise revenue must be greatly diminished, and by the note signed by the collector herewith you will observe that the excise of malt and all within this town since your Royal Highness and the army marched into this country amounts to a very considerable sum. Your petitioners are willing to give what security you think proper that the vessels employed in the coal trade shall no way favour the screening or escape of rebels.

Notwithstanding the ample revenue of the town of Perth, the Magistrates of these days contrived to get the town involved pretty deeply in debt To accomplish this they had every opportunity, as they never rendered any account of their stewardship to the public Dinners and suppers were given on the most trifling occasions, and a reckless waste of money prevailed. If a tradesman was employed about any little job, it was made the subject of special visits by one or other of the Magistrates and some friends. There was an adjournment to the public-house, and if any one offered to pay their proportion of the reckoning the offended bailie would exclaim with an air of offended dignity: "What, sir, would ye presume to pay in the presence of a Magistrate! Put it to the town's account" In every case of pillory, whipping or hanging, a Magistrates' dinner was considered indispensable.1

The accounts for entertainments and suppers to the Magistrates were very numerous. Here is a specimen:—

The good town of Perth to James Beveridge.

The refreshment was charged twice a week by Beveridge; but he had no monopoly, for in addition to his twice a week bill, there were similar bills in the other taverns, all of which were paid out of that elastic source of revenue, the common good of the burgh.

The persistent occupation of the Ancient Capital by the military in the eighteenth century was destructive of all commercial prosperity, and was the main cause of the scarcity of food stuffs which then prevailed The Rebellions of 1715 and 1745 were very serious matters both for the authorities and the people, and particularly as these events were forced on the inhabitants and arose outwith their jurisdiction altogether. In these circumstances the prosecutions which then took place, and which we have already adverted to, were conspicuous for the bitterness of feeling and harshness which ruled the administration of the Magistrates in dealing with those who had honourably fought and lost their cause. One thing is noticeable, however, and that is, that the Magistrates for the time and the military very seldom quarrelled. During all these troubles there are only two or three instances on record. One we have already given. It would appear, however, that in 1750 General Wolfe and Provost Crie fell out as to the punishment of a soldier. The General entirely differed from the ruling of the Magistrates, and sent the Provost an indignant letter to the following effect:—

General Wolfe sends his compliments to Provost Crie, and desires him to consider whether the sentence of fine and imprisonment given against a soldier of the Royal Artillery be consistent with the 56th clause of the Mutiny Act The General further desires the Provost to consider whether defamation or scandal can properly be called criminal, or indeed whether a soldier can be guilty of such a fault as it has never yet been understood that they have it in their power to take from any man his good name, or to lessen his reputation. Further, an unlimited imprisonment for not paying a fine, of which if I mistake not a soldier is by law considered incapable, seems a very hard and severe sentence for a fault of the nature complained of, and is the utmost extent of the judicial authority. The General therefore begs to know from Provost Crie whether he is determined to adhere to this sentence of the court, and will keep the soldier in prison notwithstanding the impossibility of paying a fine: as in that case the General must take such steps as he thinks necessary for securing the prisoner's liberation, at least, in intending by this post to represent the affair to the commander-in-chief and receive his orders. The General thinks it right to remind the Provost that he understands the soldier to have been taken into custody by an order of the Bailie in the Provost's absence, and that without any notice given to the officer of artillery, or the commanding officer of the town; whereas they are usually applied to on such occasions, and the law directs that upon complaint made by the Civil Magistrate, the offender is to be given up for prosecution. The General does not dispute the right of the Civil Magistrate to apprehend any man within his jurisdiction, his own person not excepted; but he cannot help observing that this peremptory manner of arresting soldiers without the commanding officer's knowledge is a breach of good manners, and destructive of that harmony which should subsist between the civil and military authorities.

To this communication Provost Crie sent a judicious reply, maintaining and defending his position. He informed the General that a process for any criminal matter is brought before the Judge Ordinary by a private person against anyone, whether civil or military; it was not in the power of the Judge to refuse hearing and determining such process. In the present case the process brought before the Magistrates by Convener Buchan against Adam Hendry of the Royal Artillery for insulting him in the public street was of that nature. The Magistrates gave sentence after taking proof from both sides, and the officers of artillery were acquainted by the parties. No inferior Magistrate could reverse his own sentence after it had been extracted. The Provost was of opinion that the sentence against Adam Hendry was founded in law, and was no inconsistent with or contrary to any clause in the Mutiny Act No more was heard of this matter.

The following year the officers of General Wolfe's regiment were made burgesses at a supper in a local tavern, under the auspices of Provost Crie and John Robertson, Dean of Guild. Wolfe afterwards in 1759 became the famous hero of Quebec, where he fell mortally wounded while heroically leading his men to victory.

Before Quebec he charged the daring foe,
And quick as lightning struck the fatal blow,
By active valour made the day his own,
And lived to see the numerous foe o'erthrown.
—Lines on Wolfe.

In the history of the Oliphants there is a curious entry, under date 16th November, 1619. William Oliphant had a bitter feud with Edward Toshach, laird of Monzievaird, and he and some companions made an attack on Toshach, and killed him. David Malloch and Duncan Campbell, for assisting Toshach, were severely handled—the one having his hand cut off, and the other seriously hurt on the head. Oliphant was in the following terms summoned before the Lords: The 17th November is appointed to William Oliphant of Gask for his appearance before the Lords, to underlie the laws for the mutilating and dismembering of David Malloch. Notwithstanding the King's warrant, these are commanding you to continue the diet till 25th February, to allow Oliphant time for his defence—caution to be found for Oliphants appearance that day, and dispense with caution for his not appearing at this diet. The matter appears to have been continued from one diet to another until 12th March, 1623, when John Oliphant appeared as procurator for William Oliphant with the King's warrant to the Lords of the Secret Council ordering the diet to be deserted.

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