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.

Duncan Campbell, 4th Laird of Glenorchy

Sir Duncan Campbell, 4th Laird of Glenorchy.
Sir Duncan Campbell, 4th Laird of Glenorchy.

Duncane Campbell, eldast and lauchfull sone to the foirsaid Sir Colene, succedit fourt laird of Glenvrqhuay.

The said Duncane mareit Mariory [Elizabeth] Colquhoun, dochtir to the laird of Lus, on quhome he begatt ane sone, quha deit in his minoritie.

The foirsaid Duncane levit laird be the space off threttene yeiris, keping all things left to him be his worthy predicessouris.

He departit this lyffe in the castell of Glenvrquhay the 5 of September 1536.

And was honorablie bureit in the chapell foirsaid of Finlarg.

The Black Book of Taymouth.

The Laird of Achallader and MacIntyre

Ruin of Achallader Castle. The castle formerly rose to three storeys and a garret, well defended by shot-holes. Now only two walls, one with a trace of corbelling, remain, sheltering the farm buildings of Achallader Farm.
Ruin of Achallader Castle. The castle formerly rose to three storeys and a garret, well defended by shot-holes. Now only two walls, one with a trace of corbelling, remain, sheltering the farm buildings of Achallader Farm.

DUNCAN BÀN was forester in the upper part of Glenlochy (Gleann-lòcha). Achallader removed him thence, and put a friend of his own in his place. The bard was of course much offended, and consequently composed a bitter satirical song to his successor. This offended Achallader, who was resolved somehow to punish Duncan for it. Duncan Bàn attended Killin (Cillfhinn) fair, and Achallader saw him, struck him hard with his staff, and said to him —

“Make a song to that!”

“Well, Sir Achallader,” rejoined the bard, “I will do that, sir, as you have asked me to do so.”

Achallader was a thin, slender, ill-favoured, ill-formed man, and he squinted. Duncan sang extemporarily the following song:–

“Bha mi latha ‘siubhal sraid,
‘S fhuair mi tàmailt ro mhòr;
‘S ann o fhear na h-amhaich caoile —
‘S e Iain claon an Achaidh-mhòir.
“I was one day walking a street,
And a great insult I received;
‘Twas from the man of the thin neck —
Squint-eyed John of Achamore!
Fear crot-shuileach — haothaill-hothainn
Fear geoc-shuileach — hòthaill eo:
Gur coltach thu — haothaill-hothainn
Ri crochadair — hòthaill ò.”
A skew-eyed fellow — hooill-hothin —
A wry-eyed fellow — hohill yaw:
How like is he — hooill-hothin —
To a hangman — hohill aw.”

Written down as given by Catherine MacFarlane already mentioned.

HECTOR MACLEAN.

BALLYGRANT, ISLAY, November 23, 1883.

— Supplied by Mr. Hector MacLean, Ballygrant, Islay; Lord Archibald Campbell’s Records of Argyll (1885).

A Story of Taymouth or Balloch

The village of Kenmore, Perth and Kinross, located on Loch Tay and by the emergence of the River Tay, taken from the Black Rock viewpoint.
The village of Kenmore, Perth and Kinross, located on Loch Tay and by the emergence of the River Tay, taken from the Black Rock viewpoint.

IN the reign of James I., an island at the east end of Loch Tay (Loch Tatha) was chosen for the site of a nunnery. The nuns vowed in presence of a priest that they had not and would not have anything to do with a man. It was one of the Stewarts of Atholl who had the superintendence of the island. He was very severe on people, and had the power of sentencing to death any one who should anger him.

There was a hollow called Lag-na-casgairt (Slaughter Hollow), where he was wont to hang or behead those whom he sentenced to death; and there was a pool called the Black Pool, in the river Tay, where he was in the habit of drowning some. It seemed to him that the island of the nuns was too near the land, and that the water between the island and land was so shallow that men might at times walk from land to it. He therefore resolved to build a wall across the river Tay to deepen Loch Tay, and he imposed a tax on the tenantry of the country that every one of them should individually have to come for a certain number of days in the year and carry stones to put a wall across the river; and were a traveller passing the way, Stewart imposed on him a tax to carry a stone to help the erection of the wall.

It happened that a son of the laird of Glenurchy, whose name was Dugald, was passing the way, and he had a servant along with him. Both he and his servant were riding. Dugald was informed that he should have to carry a stone and put it in the wall. Dugald was haughty, and he refused. He was put off his horse; still he refused to carry the stone to the wall. He was consequently taken to Slaughter Hollow, and there beheaded.

The servant returned home after this catastrophe, and told what had been done to Dugald. In about a year thereafter, another son of the knight of Glenurchy, named Duncan, went the way of Taymouth. When he had reached the same place, he was told that he should have to carry a stone and put it in the wall. Duncan stopped and inquired what was the reason that such a tax was imposed on passers-by.

He was told. He said he would put a stone in it; and when he had put the stone in the wall, he said that if Stewart wished he would stay for a space to work at the wall — that it was a very fine thing.

Immediate consent was granted him to stay, and thanks given him. So Black Duncan and his gillie stayed to work at the wall. Duncan was exceedingly good at choosing his speech, and he and the other men who were working at the wall became very much attached to one another. He understood that they were tired of Stewart, on account of his severity. One day a man was to be hanged at Taymouth for no other reason than that Stewart had got angry with him; and the workmen were sorry for this man. Black Duncan said to them, “It is your own fault when you would permit this.”

One of the workmen replied, “What can we do?  It is he who has the power in the country and we cannot stand against him.”

Duncan said, “Are there not so many of you? and were you to be faithful to one another, could you not do to him as he does to those with whom he becomes angry?”

The workmen then asked Duncan, “Would you do that yourself?”

“Yes I would,” answered Black Duncan, “were you to stand true to me.”

They said, “We will stand true to you;” and they made a covenant with each other.

When Stewart had commanded the other men to go with the condemned man to hang him, Duncan Campbell said, “Why should we hang a guiltless man? Let us catch Stewart himself and hang him.”

So Black Duncan Campbell went first and seized Stewart. The rest followed his example, and so Stewart himself was hung; and it was a source of consolation to the people of the country that they had got quit of the bad man.

Black Duncan himself took possession of the land which Stewart had, and he let land to the men. He was not hard on them with the rents. They were therefore true to him, and he was allowed to keep possession of the land. They named the place where Dugald had crossed the river to be hanged, “Dugald’s Crossing.”

The nuns who abode in the island of the Garden (Eilean a’ ghàraidh), which is near Taymouth, got to land once a-year on the 26th of July; and there was a fair, called the “Fair of the Holy Women,” held opposite to the island, and the holy women had permission to go to the fair to sell any work which they had to sell. But it happened at a certain time that a man called Mac-an-Rùsgaich (Mackinrooskich), son of the stripper, got into the island by a boat, and was clad in woman’s clothes. He stayed in the island till he saw his own time for going. The abbot who had the care of the nuns was subsequently harder on them than formerly, and none of them could get to land off the island to attend the fair. They made up with one another (settled or conspired) that they would flee; so they fled.

It was to the upland of Acharn that they fled. When they were at the top precipice, they sat for a while to take the last view of the island in which they had been, and that place was thenceforth named the “Woman’s Watch.” They separated then from one another, and every one went to her own home. So a ditty was composed to them beginning with the words:–

Red-haired Duncan’s a holy women,
They ascended up the hillside.

No nuns were thereafter kept in the island of the Garden. After the nuns had left the island the Campbells made a dwelling-place for themselves in the island.

Killin and Loch Tay, with Ben Lawers on the left, taken from a short distance up Sron a Chlachain.
Killin and Loch Tay, with Ben Lawers on the left, taken from a short distance up Sron a Chlachain.

It was at Kenmore (An Ceannamhor) at Taymouth, that it was customary to hold the Court of the country; but after the Campbells had obtained possession of the land of Taymouth, it was held at Killin (Cillfhinn), which was a more suitable place for the purpose. A great number of gentlemen were wont to come to the Court, and they were short of stables at the inn for their horses.

The land about Killin belonged to MacNab of Kinell (Cinneala) — and also the land at that end of Loch Tay — at that time.

One day that the knight of Glenurchy was at Court at Killin he said to MacNab, “I wish you would sell me a bit of land at Finlarig, that I might have a place where to tie my horse when I come to the Court of Killin.”

MacNab refused at first; but after the knight had for a short time pressed his request, MacNab asked him, “How much land do you seek?”

“Were I to get the length and breadth of a thong,” rejoined the knight, “that would suffice.”

It seemed to MacNab that so much would be but a small bit, and he named the price for which he would sell such a bit of land; and the knight took MacNab at his word. He got a hide as large as could be found in the country. He got a good shoemaker, and made him begin at the border of the hide and cut it in one thong about the thickness of a latchet. He went to Finlarig, got MacNab himself to be present, and he measured the length of the thong in one direction, across which he measured its length again (sic). So he got a large piece of land for a small price. This was the commencement of the Campbells getting into the land of MacNab; but by little and little they got the whole thereof.

— From the Dewar MSS. Given to the Editor by Lord Lorne, for whom and the Duke of Argyll the tales were collected in 1870-1871. Translated by Mr. Hector MacLean, Islay; Lord Archibald Campbell’s Records of Argyll (1885).