Coigerach

The Coigerach (crosier, though the word itself signifies pilgrim or stranger) of St. Fillan in the Museum of Scotland.
The Coigerach (crosier, though the word itself signifies pilgrim or stranger) of St. Fillan in the Museum of Scotland.

Among the charters of lands, were found some documents of a less common character, and affecting less substantial rights, viz., the privileges attached to the custody of a certain relic of St. Fillan. Fillan, the son of Kentigerna, was of old reverence in the valleys of Breadalbane, and his monastery in Glendochart was still of such consequence in the time of William the Lion, that the Abbot, whether then a churchman or secularised, was named among the magnates of power to support the operation of a particular law beyond the reach of common legal process. It was a century later that a relic of St. Fillan is said (by Boece) to have been the subject of a notable miracle, which Bruce turned to account for encouraging his soldiers at Bannockburn. The story may be received as evidence of the reverence paid to St. Fillan in the historian’s time. That it continued afterwards, we learn from the following documents, though, I fear, they shew that his relics were degraded to the purpose of tracing stolen goods. The particular one which forms the subject of these instruments, the Coygerach, was known within the present generation in the hands of the family of Jore or Dewar, who so early vindicated its possession. It is the head of a staff or crozier of a Bishop or mitred Abbot, of silver gilt, elaborately and elegantly ornamented with a sort of diapered chasing. It is described and figured in the Transactions of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Vol. III., p. 290; and in Dr. Wilson’s Archaeology of Scotland, p. 664.

Two of these documents have been printed before, but from imperfect and faulty copies. They are now given for the originals:–

I.

Hec Inquisitio facta apud Kandrochid xxii die mensis Aprilis, anno Domini millesimo quadringentesimo xxviii., coram Johanne de Spens de Perth, ballivo de Glendochirde, de et super autoritate et privilegijs cujusdam Reliquie Sancti Felani, que vulgariter dicitur Coygerach, per istos subscriptos, viz.: Karulum Cambell, Reginaldum Malcolmi, Donaldum M’Arthour, Cristinum Malcolmi, Johannem M’Nab, Patricium M’Nab, Johannem Alexandri M’Nab, Johannem Menzies, Duncanum Gregorii, Dugallum Gregory, Duncanum Elpine, Alexandrum M’Austillan, Nicolaum Gregorij, Johannem M’Callura, et Felanum Pauli, Qui jurati magno sacramento dicunt, Quod lator ipsius reliquie de Coygerach, qui Jore vulgariter dicitur, habere debut annuatim et hereditarie a quolibet inhabitante parochiam de Glendochirde, habente vel laborante mercatam terre, sive libere sive pro finna, dimidiam bollam farine, et de quolibet in dicta parochia habente dimidiam mercatam terre ut predicitur, libere vel pro firma, medium farine, et de quolibet in ista parochia habente quadraginta denariatas terre, dimidiam modij farine. Et si quivis alius inhabitans dictam parochiam magis quam mercatam terre haberet nihil magis solveret quam ordinatum fuit de una mercata terre. Et quod officium gerendi dictam reliquiam dabatur cuidam progenitori Finlai Jore latoris presentium hereditarie, per successorem Sancti Felani, cui officio idem Finlaius est verus et legittimus heres. Et quod ipsa privilegia usa fuerunt et habita in tempore Regis Roberti Bruys et in tempore omnium regum a tunc usque in hodiernum diem. Pro quibus commodis et privilegijs, prefati jurati dicunt quod si contigerit aliqua bona vel catalla rapta esse vel furata ab aliquo dictam parochiam de Glendochirde inhabitante, et is a quo ipsa bona vel catalla rapta essent vel furata, propter dubium sue persone vel inimicitias hostium, eadem bona vel catalla prosequi non auderet, tunc unum servum suum vel hominem mitteret ad eundem Jore de le Coygerach, cum quatuor denariis vel pare sotularum, cum victu prime noctis, et tunc idem Jore abinde suis proprijs expensis prosequetur dicta catalla ubicunque exinde sectum querere poterit infra regnum Scotie. Et hec universa per dictam iniquisitionem fuerunt inventa, anno, die, loco et mense predominates. In cujus rei testimonium sigillum Johannis de Spens ballivi antedicti presentibus est appensum, anno, die, et loco supradictis.

II.

Another Instrument, not hitherto printed, records that on the 9th of February 1468, Margaret de Striveling, lady of Glenurquha,–

In curia de Glendochyrt tenta apud Kandrocht Kilin per balivum ejusdem a Johanne M’Molcalum M’Gregour petiit firmas suas de terris de Coreheynan. Qui Johannes respondebat plane in facie prefate curie coram omnibus ibidem existentibus denegauit et dixit quod non accepit assedationem dictarum terrarum a dicta domina Margareta sed a Deore de Meser et quod non tenebatur in aliquas firmas de terminis elapsis quia solvit illas dicto Deor’ a quo accepit prefatas terras. Testibus, Colino Campbel de Glenurquhay milite, domino Mauricio M’Nachtag et domino Roberto M’Inayr, vicariis de Inchecadyn et Kilin, Johanne de Stirling, &c.

III.

LITERA PRO MALISEO DOIRE, COMMORAN’ IN STRAFULANE.

JAMES be the grace of God King of Scottis to all and sindri our liegis and subditis spirituale and temporale to quhois knaulege this our lettre salcum greting. Forsemekle as we haue undirstand that our servitour Malice Doire and his forebearis has had ane Relik of Sanct Fulane callit the Quegrith in keping of us and of oure progenitouris of maist nobill mynde quham God assolye sen the tyme of King Robert the Bruys and of before, and made nane obedience nor ansuere to na persoun spirituale nor temporale in ony thing concernyng the said haly Relik uthir wayis than is contenit in the auld infeftments thereof made and grantit be oure said progenitouris; We chairg you therefor strately and commandis that in tyme to cum ye and ilkane of you redily ansuere, intend and obey to the said Malise Doire in the peciable broiking joicing of the said Relik, and that ye na nain of you tak upon hand to compell nor distrenye him to mak obedience nor ansuere to you nor till ony uthir bot allenarly to us and oure successouris, according to the said infeftment and fundatioun of the said Relik, and siclike as wes uss and wount in the tyme of oure said progenitouris of maist nobill mynde of before; And that ye mak him nane impediment, letting nor distroublance in the passing with the said Relik throu the contre, as he and his forebearis wes wount to do; And that ye and ilk ane of you in oure name and autorite kepe him unthrallit, bot to remane in siclike fredome and liberte of the said Relik, like as is contenit in the said infeftment, undir all the hiest pane and charge that ye and ilk ane of you may amitt, and inrun anent us in that pairt. Gevin undir oure priue sele at Edinburgh this vj day of Julij, the yere of God jm iiijc lxxxvii yeris and of oure regnne the xxvij yere.

JAMES R.

The Coygerach of St. Fillan was long afterwards known in the Highlands of Perthshire. The last of these deeds was registered as a probative writ at Edinburgh, 1st November 1734 ; and M. Latocnaye, who made a tour in Britain in this notice of the 1795, gives notice of the Relic,– “Ayant vu l’annonce d’une fameuse relique, en la possession d’un paysan aux environs, nous avons demandé à la voir. Elle ressemble assez au haut bout d’une crosse d’évêque, et est d’argent doré. Le bon homme qui nous l’a montré, et qui gagne quelque pen d’argent avec elle, vraisemblablement pour augmenter notre intérêt, nous a dit très sérieusement, que quand les bestiaux étaient enragés, il suffisait de leur faire boire de l’eau passée par l’intérieur de sa relique; l’eau bouillone sur le champ quand le remède ne veut pas opérer, (d’où on pourrait conclure qu’il opère souvent,) et que l’on venait de plus de cent milles chercher de son eau. . . Quoiqu’il en soit, j’ai été charmé de trouver une relique parmi les Presbyteriens.”

The Relic, it is believed, has been for some years in Canada, but whether it retains its virtues in the New World is unknown.

— reproduced in Cosmo Nelson Innes’ Preface to The Black Book of Taymouth: with Other Papers from the Breadalbane Charter Room, Edinburgh, 1850.

Curator: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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