Two Oransay Grave-slabs

Slabs at Oransay, Argyll, Plate LX, Sculptured Stones of Scotland, Vol. 2, 1856.

PLATE LX.
AT ORANSAY.

The slabs on this Plate are selected from the many examples within the ruined church here.

The one represents an abbot1 in his rich ecclesiastical vestments, with one hand lifted up in the act of benediction, and the other holding his staff.

Grave-slab at Oransay Priory; photo credit: Andreas G. Wolff.

The other pourtrays a man in armour. Two figures, apparently ecclesiastics, are engaged in buckling on his Spurs. The sculpture of this slab is in high relief. One of the figures on the pillar may represent St. Michael and the Dragon.

1 Sir Donald MacDuffie, Conventual Prior of Oransay, d. 1554/5.


Grave-slab of Domhnall MacDubhtaich, Conventual Prior of Oransay (1538-1554/5); photo credit: Carron Brown.

[HIC] IACET D(OMI)N(U)S DONALLDUS / MACDUFFIE PRIO[R (CON)VEN/TUALIS DE O[RR]ANSAY QUI / OBIIT AN(N)O MDL-
“Here lies Sir Donald MacDuffie, Conventual Prior of Oransay, who died in the year 155-”

[This tombstone was originally in the mural recess of the MacPhie chapel, with the foot towards the east. He was appointed Prior by authority of the Pope in April 1538 and died in 1554; he had probably been in ill-health since an application had been made to permit him to retire, and since his gravestone was able to be prepared with confidence in advance.]

(http://www.colonsay.info/text/ORONRIPweb.pdf)

Get Directions

Plates from The Heraldry of the Campbells, Volume II

Plate VII. from G. Harvey Johnston, The Heraldry of the Campbells, Vol. II, Edinburgh, 1921.
Plate VII. from G. Harvey Johnston, The Heraldry of the Campbells, Vol. II, Edinburgh, 1921.
Plate V. from G. Harvey Johnston, The Heraldry of the Campbells, Vol. II, Edinburgh, 1921.
Plate VI. from G. Harvey Johnston, The Heraldry of the Campbells, Vol. II, Edinburgh, 1921.

Breadalbane Mausoleum c. 1880

J. V. Royaume-Uni, Breadalbane Mausoleum, Finlarig Castle, c. 1880; albumen print, 19 cm x 29 cm.
Ruins of the Breadalbane Mausoleum, Finlarig Castle.
Get Directions

Ane Papisticall Manner

Sess., 5th December ultimo, 1567.

Anent the complaint given in against my Lady Argyle, declaring how sche once being at the table of the Lord Jesus and professing his Evangell, had revolted therefrae, in giving her assistance and presence to the baptizing of the king in ane papisticall manner. The said lady being present, grantit that she had offended to the Eternall God, and been ane sclander to the Kirk in committing the premises and therefore willingly submitted herself to the discipline of the Kirk and discretionne of them. Therefore, the Kirk ordaines the said lady to make publick repentance in the Chapell Royall of Stirling, upon ane Sonday in tyme of preaching ; and this to be done at sick tyme as the Kirk hereafter shall appoint to the Superintendant of Lowthiane provyding alwayes it be before the next Assembly.

Booke of the Universall Kirk, p. 73.

Haisted with Expeditioune

[to the Captain of Dunstaffnage]

Loving Cusin,

Sieing the bark is come heir with the meal I desire now that you send onelie about threttie seckis alongis in Auchnabrekis boat and lat all the rest remaine till my farder ordours. In the meantime haist heir all the amunitione, powder, lead and matches that come fra Glenurquhy and send back this boatt of Macleanis with it and send some trustie man with it and some of the sojouris that are coming up to guard it. And lat it be haisted with expeditioune. Iff this overtake Auchnabrekis boatt lat the amunition be sent on hir. And howsoevir you shall not faill to haist both McCleanis boat and your awine sax oared boat with all possible diligence. And so I rest, your loving Coosen,

ARGYLL.

Inverlochie, last Jan. 1645.

After the writing hereof I have stayed yor awine boatt and so send the amunition in the reddiest boatt.

Bruce’s Siege of Dunstaffnage

Ground plan of Dunstaffnage Castle, from MacGibbon, David, The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, Vol. I, Edinburgh: D. Douglas, 1887.

Courtyard of Dunstaffnage Castle, from MacGibbon, David, The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, Vol. I, Edinburgh: D. Douglas, 1887.
West elevation of Dunstaffnage Castle, from MacGibbon, David, The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, Vol. I, Edinburgh: D. Douglas, 1887.
Plan of battlements of Dunstaffnage Castle, from MacGibbon, David, The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, Vol. I, Edinburgh: D. Douglas, 1887.

De conflictu regis Roberti contra Ergadienses

Eodem anno [1308] infra octavas Ascencionis beatae Virginis Mariae idem rex Ergadiensis devicit in medio Ergadiae et totam terram sibi subegit, ducem eorum nomine Alexandrum de Argadia fugientem ad castrum de Dunstafinch per aliquod tempus inibi obsedit, qui eidem regi Castrum reddidit et sibi homagium facere recusans, dato salvo conductu sibi et omnibus secum recedere volentibus in Angliam fugit et ibidem debitum naturae persolvit.

John of Fordun, Chronica Gentis Scotorum, cxxvi.

The king that stout wes stark and bauld
Till Dunstaffynch rycht sturdely
A sege set and besily
Assaylit the castell it to get,
And in schort tym he has thaim set
In swilk thrang that tharin war than
That magre tharis he it wan,
And ane gud wardane tharin set
And betaucht hym bath men and met
Sua that he lang tyme thar mycht be
Magre thaim all off that countre.

John Barbour, The Brus, x. 112-122.

Plates from Nisbet’s System of Heraldry (Vol. II)

— Alexander Nisbet, A System of Heraldry (A New Edition), Volume II, Edinburgh: Wm. Blackwood, 1816.

Plates from Nisbet’s System of Heraldry (Vol. I)

— Alexander Nisbet, A System of Heraldry (A New Edition), Volume I, Edinburgh: Wm. Blackwood, 1816.

Flame of God

St. Bride by John McKirdy Duncan; 1913; National Galleries of Scotland (Scotland); tempera on canvas.

ST. BRIGET OF THE SHORES

I have heard many names of St. Briget, most beloved of Gaelic saints, with whom the month of February is identified . . . the month of “Bride min, gentle St. Bride” . . . Brighid boidheach Muime Chriosd, Bride the Beautiful, Christ’s Foster Mother . . . but there are three so less common that many even of my readers familiar with the Highland West may not know them. These are “the Fair Woman of February,” “St. Bride of the Kindly Fire,” and “St. Bride (or Briget) of the Shores.” They are of the Isles, and may be heard in some of the sgeulachdan gàidhealach, or Gaelic tales, still told among seafaring and hill folk, where the curse of cheap ignoble periodicals is unknown and books are rare. True, in several of the isles . . . Colonsay, Tiree, the Outer Hebrides . . . “St. Bride of the Shores” is not infrequent in songs and seasonal hymns, for when her signals are seen along the grey beaches, on the sandy machars, by the meadow path, the glen-track, the white shore-road, the islanders know that the new year is disclosed at last, that food, warmth, and gladness are coming out of the south. As “the Fair Woman of February,” though whatever other designation St. Bride goes by, she is often revealed. Her humble yellow fires are lit among the grasses, on the shore-ways, during this month. Everywhere in the Gaelic lands “Candlemas-Queen ” is honoured at this time. Am Fheill Bhride, the Festival of St. Briget, was till recently a festival of joy throughout the west, from the Highland Line to the last weedy shores of Barra or the Lews: in the isles and in the remote Highlands, still is.

It is an old tale, this association of St. Briget with February. It goes further back than the days of the monkish chroniclers who first attempted to put the disguise of verbal Christian raiment on the most widely-loved and revered beings of the ancient Gaelic pantheon. Long before the maiden Brigida (whether of Ireland or Scotland matters little) made her fame as a “daughter of God”; long before to Colum in Iona or to Patrick “the great Cleric” in Ireland “Holy St. Bride” revealed in a vision the service she had done to Mary and the Child in far-away Bethlehem in the East; before ever the first bell of Christ was heard by startled Druids coming across the hills and forest lands of Gaul, the Gaels worshipped a Brighde or Bride, goddess of women, of fire, of poetry. When, to-day, a Gaelic islesman alludes to Briget of the Songs, or when a woman of South Uist prays to Good St. Bride to bless the empty cradle that is soon to be filled, or when a shennachie or teller of tales speaks of an oath taken by Briget of the Flame, they refer, though probably unconsciously, to a far older Brighid than do they who speak with loving familiarity of Muime Chriosd, Christ’s Foster Mother, or Brighid – nam – Bratta, St. Bride of the Mantle. They refer to one who in the dim, far-off days of the forgotten pagan world of our ancestors was a noble and great goddess. They refer to one to whom the women of the Gael went with offerings and prayers, as went the women of ancient Hellas to the temples of Aphrodite, as went the Syrian women to the altars of Astarte, as went the women of Egypt to the milk-fed shrines of Isis. They refer to one whom the Druids held in honour as a torch bearer of the eternal light, a Daughter of the Morning, who held sunrise in one hand as a little yellow flame, and in the other held the red flower of fire without which men would be as the beasts who live in caves and holes, or as the dark Fomor who have their habitations in cloud and wind and the wilderness. They refer to one whom the bards and singers revered as mistress of their craft, she whose breath was a flame, and that flame song: she whose secret name was fire and whose inmost soul was radiant air, she therefore who was the divine impersonation of the divine thing she stood for. Poetry.

“St. Bride of the Kindly Fire,” of whom one may hear to-day as “oh, just Bhrighde mìn Muim (gentle St. Bride the Foster Mother), she herself an’ no other,” is she, that ancient goddess, whom our ancestors saw lighting the torches of sunrise on the brows of hills, or thrusting the quenchless flame above the horizons of the sea: whom the Druids hailed with hymns at the turn of the year, when, in the season we call February, the firstcomers of the advancing Spring are to be seen on the grey land or on the grey wave or by the grey shores: whom every poet, from the humblest wandering singer to Oisin of the Songs, from Oisin of the Songs to Angus Og on the rainbow or to Midir of the Underworld, blessed, because of the flame she put in the heart of poets as well as the red life she put in the flame that springs from wood and peat. None forgot that she was the daughter of the ancient God of the Earth, but greater than he, because in him there was but earth and water, whereas in her veins ran the elements of air and fire. Was she not born at sunrise? On the day she reached womanhood did not the house wherein she dwelled become wrapped in a flame which consumed it not, though the crown of that flame licked the high unburning roof of Heaven? In that hour when, her ancient divinity relinquished and she reborn a Christian saint, she took the white veil, did not a column of golden light rise from her head till no eyes could follow it? In that moment when she died from earth, having taken mortality upon her so as to know a divine resurrection to a new and still more enduring Country of the Immortal, were there not wings of fire seen flashing along all the shores of the west and upon the summits of all Gaelic hills? And how could one forget that at any time she had but to bend above the dead, and her breath would quicken, and a pulse would come back into the still heart, and what was dust would arise and be once more glad.

The Fair Woman of February is still loved, still revered. Few remember the last fading traditions of her ancient greatness: few, even, know that she lived before the coming of the Cross: but all love her, because of her service to Mary in Her travail and to the newborn Child, and because she looks with eyes of love into every cradle and puts the hand of peace on the troubled hearts of women: and all delight in her return to the world after the ninety days of the winter-sleep, when her heralds are manifest.

Poem by Winifred Mary Letts.

What, then, are the insignia of St. Briget of the Shores? They are simple. They are the dandelion, the lamb, and the sea-bird, popularly called the oyster-opener. From time immemorial, this humble, familiar yellow plant of the wayside has been identified with St. Bride. To this day shepherds, on Am Fheill Bhrighde, are wont to hear among the mists the crying of innumerable young lambs, and this without the bleating of ewes, and so by that token know that Holy St. Bride has passed by, coming earthward with her flock of the countless lambs soon to be born on all the hillsides and pastures of the world. Fisherfolk on the shores of the west and on the far isles have gladdened at the first prolonged repetitive whistle of the oyster-opener, for its advent means that the hosts of the good fish are moving towards the welcoming coasts once more, that the wind of the south is unloosened, that greenness will creep to the grass, that birds will seek the bushes, that song will come to them, and that everywhere a new gladness will be abroad. By these signs is St. Briget of the Shores known. One, perhaps, must live in the remote places, and where wind and cloud, rain and tempest, great tides and uprising floods are the common companions of day and night, in order to realise the joy with which things so simple are welcomed. To see the bright sunsweet face of the dandelion once more— an dealan Dhé, the little flame of God, am bearnan Bhrighde, St. Bride’s forerunner— what a joy this is. It comes into the grass like a sunray. Often before the new green is in the blade it flaunts its bright laughter in the sere bent. It will lie in ditches and stare at the sun. It will climb broken walls, and lean from nooks and corners. It will come close to the sands and rocks, sometimes will even join company with the sea-pink, though it cannot find footing where later the bind-weed and the horned poppy, those children of the seawind who love to be near and yet shrink from the spray of the salt wave, defy wind and rain. It is worthier the name “Traveller’s Joy” than the wild clematis of the autumnal hedgerows: for its bright yellow leaps at one from the roadside like a smile, and its homeliness is pleasant as the gladness of playing children.

It is a herald of Spring that precedes even the first loud flute-like calls of the missel-thrush. When snow is still on the track of the three winds of the north it is, by the wayside, a glad companion. Soon it will be everywhere. Before long the milk-white sheen of the daisy and the moon-daisy, the green-gold of the tansy, the pale gold of the gorse and the broom, the yellow of the primrose and wild colchicum, of the cowslip and buttercup, of the copse-loving celandine and meadow-rejoicing crowsfoot, all these yellows of first spring will soon be abroad: but the dandelion comes first. I have known days when, after midwinter, one could go a mile and catch never a glimpse of this bright comrade of the ways, and then suddenly see one or two or three, and rejoice forthwith as though at the first blossom on the blackthorn, at the first wild-roses, at the first swallow, at the first thrilling bells of the cuckoo. We are so apt to lose the old delight in familiar humble things. So apt to ignore what is by the way, just because it is by the way. I recall a dour old lowland gardener in a loch-and-hill-set region of Argyll, who, having listened to exclamations of delight at a rainbow, muttered, “Weel, I juist think naethin ava’ o’ thon rainbows . . . ye can see one whenever ye tak the trouble to look for them hereaboots.” He saw them daily, or so frequently that for him all beauty and strangeness had faded from these sudden evanescent Children of Beauty. Beauty has only to be perceptible to give an immediate joy, and it is no paradoxical extravagance to say that one may receive the thrilling communication from “the little flame of God” by the homely roadside as well as from these leaning towers built of air and water which a mysterious alchemy reveals to us on the cloudy deserts of heaven. “Man is surprised,” Emerson says, “to find that things near and familiar are not less beautiful and wondrous than things remote.” Certainly no Gaelic lover of St. Bride’s Flower, of the Flower of February, but rejoices to see its welcome face after the snow and sleet of winter have first sullenly receded, if only for a time, and to know that St. Bride of the Shores wears it at her breast, and that when she throws it broadcast the world is become a green place again and the quickening sunlight a gladsome reality.

In these desolate far isles where life is so hard, where the grey winds from the north and east prevail for weeks at a time on the grey tempestuous seas, and where so much depends on such small things— a little drift- wood, a few heaps of peat, a few shoal of fish now of one kind now of another, a few cartloads of seaweed, a rejoicing sound is that in truth when the Gille-Bhride is heard crying along the shores. Who that has heard its rapid whirling cry as it darts from haunt to haunt but will recognise its own testimony to being “Servant of Breed” (the common pronunciation of the Gaelic Brighid or Bride)— for does it not cry over and over again with swift incessant iterance, Gilly-breed, gilly-breed, gilly-breed, gilly-breed, gilly-breed.

White may my milking be,
White as thee;
Thy face is white, thy neck is white,
Thy hands are white, thy feet are white.
For thy sweet soul is shining bright—
O dear to me,
O dear to see,
St. Briget White!

Yellow may my butter be,
Firm, and round:
Thy breasts are sweet.
Firm, round, and sweet,
So may my butter be:
So may my butter be, O
Briget Sweet!
Safe thy way is, safe, O
Safe, St. Bride:
May my kye come home at even,
None be fallin’, none be leavin’,
Dusky even, breath-sweet even,
Here, as there, where O
St. Bride thou
Keepest tryst with God in heav’n,
Seest the angels bow
And souls be shriven—
Here, as there, ’tis breath-sweet even
Far and wide—
Singeth thy little maid
Safe in thy shade
Briget, Bride!

When the first lambs appear, many are the invocations among the Irish and Hebridean Gaels to good St. Bride. At the hearth-side, too, the women, carding wool, knitting, telling tales, singing songs, dreaming— these know her whether they name her in thought, or have forgotten what was dear wisdom to their mothers of old. She leans over cradles, and when babies smile they have seen her face. When the cra’thull swings in the twilight, the slow rhythm, which is music in the mother’s ear, is the quiet clapping of her hushing hands. St. Bride, too, loves the byres or the pastures when the kye are milked, though now she is no longer ” the Woman of February,” but simply “good St. Bride of the yellow hair.”

— Fiona MacLeod (William Sharp), The Works of “Fiona MacLeod” (Uniform Edition), Volume VI, arranged by Mrs. William Sharp, London, William Heinemann, 1910.

Seals of the Burghs of Argyll

Seal of the Royal Burgh of Campbeltown, Argyll.

CAMPBELTOWN is built on what was originally the seat of the Dalriadan monarchy. About the middle of the third century Cormac, King of Ireland, quelled a dispute which had arisen between two tribes, and during this civil war Cormac’s cousin, Cairbre-Riada, conquered a district in the north-east of Ireland, which he called Dalriada, or the portion of Riada. About 503 A.D. the three sons of Erc, the then King of Dalriada, named respectively Loarn, Fergus, and Angus, settled a colony on the promontory of Cantyre, which was effected by peaceful means. These three chiefs then each took possession of a separate territory. Fergus took Cantyre, Loarn took what is now known as the district of Lorne, and Angus is said to have taken possession of Isla. When Campbeltown was the seat of the Dalriadan monarchy it bore the name of Dalruadhain. In the sixth century St. Ciarnan landed here, and lived in a cave known as Cove-a-Chiarnan. He became the patron saint of all Cantyre or Kintyre, and having founded a church at Dalruadhain, the place became known as Chille-a-Chiarnan, which has been modernised to Kilkerran. After this the Macdonalds of the Isles took Kilkerran for a capital, built a castle, and rebuilt the town, calling it Kinlochkerran, which means the head of Ciarnan’s Loch. It is said that King James IV. built the castle, and called it his “new castle of Kilkerane in Kintyre.” He seemed to have resided here in 1498. King James V. had many conflicts with the Macdonalds, and as he was unable to subdue them, he granted the place to the Campbells of Argyle, and they, after many fierce struggles, almost depopulated it. On account of this grant the place once more changed its name, and has since been known as Campbeltown.

The town was erected into a Royal Burgh in 1700, and the charter states that this was done at the desire of Archibald, the tenth Earl of Argyll, who was made Duke of Argyll in the following year. Previous to this it had been a Burgh of Barony, and the charter quotes a charter of King James VI., which ordained that “for the better entertaining and continuing of civility and policy within the Hielandes and lies,” . . . “that there be erected and builded within the bounds thereof, three burghes and burrowetowns, in the maist conuenient and commodious partes meet for the samen; to wit, ane in Kintyre, another in Lochaber, and the third in the Lewis.”

The Seal of the Burgh of Campbeltown is as follows: A shield divided into four. In the first quarter a castle; the second quarter gyronny of eight; the third quarter a lymphad, with sail furled and oars in action; and in the fourth quarter a fret. Beneath is the motto, “Ignavis precibus fortuna repugnat,” meaning “Fate is deaf to idle prayers.”

The castle represents the old castle of Campbeltown, the site of which is now occupied by the parish church, which was built in 1780.

The gyronny of eight is the armorial bearings of the Clan Campbell. Nisbet speaks of the gyronny as follows: “The giron is a French word which signifies the lap—one sitting with knees apart if line drawn from one knee to the other the space within makes a giron with the point in gremio. So all girons are of a triangular or conal form, broad at one end and sharp at the other. The first is at the sides of the shield, and the other ends at the naval, or centre point of the shield. They are said to represent triangular pieces of stuff, commonly called gussets, placed in garments and women’s smokes, to make them wide below and narrow above.  . . . This armorial figure is frequent in armorial bearings in Europe, and . . . has its rise in armouries from the robes, gowns, and coats of armour used by the ancients.”

The lymphad, an old-fashioned ship with one mast and oars, is the armorial bearings of the ancient House of Lorne, because in ancient times the Island chiefs held their lands under the tenure of providing one or more ships for the use of the sovereign.

The fret sable is the armorial bearings of Baron Tollemache. At the time of the erection of the Burgh, Lady Elizabeth Tollemache was the wife of the then Earl of Argyll, and the device was adopted by the Burgh in compliment to her. The fret is a figure composed of a narrow saltire or cross and a mascle, which are interlaced. Nisbet says that the mascle “is a lozenge voided of the field—i.e., with the centre cut out. Heralds make it represent different things—the eye or ring to fasten a coat of mail. Others the mesh of a net; others mirrors.” And regarding the fret, he says: “Mr Thomas Crawford, in the fragments of his ‘Manuscript of Heraldry,’ . . . says the fret is . . . a badge of fastness and fidelity, like a knot or tie of ribbons . . . is called by some English heralds the herald’s love-knot, because it is devised by them as an armorial bearing.” In Seton’s “Heraldry” it is said that the origin of the lozenge has been variously accounted for, and Sylvanus Morgan says that while the form of the shield was taken from Adam’s spade, that of the lozenge was derived from Eve’s spindle.

Seal of the Royal Burgh of Inveraray, Argyll.

THE earliest notice of Inverary is in a charter dated 8th May 1472 granted to Colin, first Earl of Argyll, erecting Inverary, or “Inoureyra” as it is there spelt, into a Burgh of Barony. It takes its name from being situated “on the Aray,” and Queen Mary in 1554 “for policie to be hade within this realme, and increasing of vertue within the samyn, created the burgh of the Innerrara a free royal burgh forever—appointed Archibald, Earl of Ergile, customer of the burgh for life, and gave power to the Provost, Baillies, Councillors, community and inhabitants to build a pretorium for the administration of justice.” This “pretorium” was used till about 1754, and was the first of the kind in Argyleshire. Then another court house and prison were built, which is now used by the Chamberlain of Argyll as an office. The town obtained another charter from King Charles I. in 1648.

The Seal bears in the centre a shield, with horizontal wavy lines representing the sea, and with five herrings swimming into a net which is shown suspended at one side. Above the shield is the name Inverary, and surrounding the lower part, the motto “Semper tibi pendeat halec” which may be freely translated “May the fish sauce always be ready for you.”

As the principal industry of the Burgh is the herring fishing in Lochfyne, the design speaks for itself, and is intended to represent a net set in the loch with herrings entering it.

The motto, however, requires a word of explanation, as it seems to refer to the fishing industry being the most important of all industries, and the Lochfyne herrings being the finest of all fish. The Latin word halec or alec is translated in dictionaries as “the sediment of a costly fish sauce called garum; and the meaning of garum is given as “a thick sauce-fish sauce.” This garum was much used by the Romans in almost all their dishes, and seems to have been very expensive. It is said that the most esteemed was that which came from Antipolis and Dalmatia, but Horace praises that made at Byzance, and says that it was considered the best as well as the most expensive. Pliny says that garum is a liquid of a very exquisite nature made from the intestines of fish, and several parts which would otherwise be discarded. These are macerated in salt, and, he says, garum is, in fact, the result of their putrefaction. He also remarks that it was originally prepared from a fish called “garos” by the Greeks. He then proceeds to speak of “alec” which, he says, is the refuse of garum, or its dregs when imperfectly strained. He also tells us that in course of time this alec became a great object of luxury, and that an infinite number of different kinds of it were made, and he adds that garum also became much improved, and was made to resemble the colour of old honied wine, and that it was so pleasantly flavoured as to admit of being drunk as a beverage. Possibly the Romans knew the delicacy of the Lochfyne herrings, and from their indulgence in them, or the alec made from them, the motto may have originated.

From time immemorial this part of Lochfyne has been celebrated for its herrings, and the “Old Statistical Account” says that the harbour of Inverary was anciently called Slochk Ichopper, meaning a Gullet where vessels bought or bartered for fish, and it goes on to say that “anciently the French merchants used to come and barter their wines for herrings, as there is a point of land, about 3 miles south of Inverary, still called the Frenchman’s point; and the tradition of the country is that it was to that particular spot the herrings were in use to be brought, in order to be cured and sold.”

Seal of the Burgh of Lochgilphead, Argyll.

LOCHGILPHEAD came under the provisions of the various previous Police Acts in 1858, and under the Burgh Police Act of 1892 adopted as the Common Seal a design illustrative of the fishing industries of the place. The Seal is—On a shield an anchor with a cable, and across the anchor and in front is a herring. The whole is encircled by a cable. Beneath, as the motto, is the Gaelic word “Dochas” meaning “Hope.”

Loch Gilp, at the “head” of which the town is situated, is said to take its name from the Gaelic Gilb meaning a chisel, from the shape of the loch bearing a fancied resemblance to that tool.

Seal of the Burgh of Oban, Argyll.

THE “Old Statistical Account” tells us that about 1714 the first house of any consequence was erected in Oban by a trading company of Renfrew, which used it as a storeroom. In 1736 a custom-house was erected “Oban being reckoned a proper place for clearing out vessels for the herring fishery.” About 1774 “there were from 20 to 30 vessels registered at Oban which were chiefly employed in the fisheries; but from the decrease of that trade on the N.-W. coast the number of vessels is now much smaller.” In 1811 it was erected into a Burgh of Barony in favour of the Duke of Argyll. But the Court of Session afterwards set this charter aside, and another charter was granted in 1820 in favour of the Duke of Argyll and Mr Campbell of Combie. The town was made a Parliamentary Burgh in 1833.

The Seal of the Burgh is a shield in the base of which is a representation of the galley of Lorn with oars in action, and beneath, in the sea, a fish swimming. In the left hand chief is a lion rampant, the Scottish Arms; and in the right hand chief the Campbell Gyronny. The motto beneath “Air aghart” is in old Celtic characters, and is the Gaelic for “Forward.” The fish refers to the nature of the industry long carried on by the inhabitants of the town before it became famous as a watering-place.

Seal of the Burgh of Dunoon, Argyll.

DUNOON adopted the Lindsay Act of 1862 in that year, and, under the provisions of the Burgh Police Act of 1892, took the following device as the Common Seal of the Burgh.

The lower division of the shield on the Seal bears a representation of the ancient Castle of Dunoon, beneath the shadow of which the town of Old Dunoon arose. The old castle, which crowned a rocky headland between the east and west bays, takes one back into the dark mists of antiquity. Some antiquarians think it was founded by remote Dalriadic chieftains in the early years of the sixth century, and, later on, to have been a stronghold of Scandinavian rovers. Some allege that it was at one time a nunnery, and that the name of the town comes from the Gaelic Dun-no-oigh, meaning “the house of the virgins.” But the origin of the name is uncertain, though Buchanan derives it from the Gaelic dun, a castle, and nuadh, new, and calls it Novio-dunum.

From the reign of Malcolm Canmore the castle was the seat of the Lord High Stewards of Scotland, and when King Robert II., son of Walter Stewart, and grandson of King Robert Bruce, came to the throne, it became a Royal palace, and was placed under the hereditary keepership of the Campbells of Lochow, the ancestors of the Dukes of Argyll. As they lived in it, their vassals and attendants had houses built in the neighbourhood for them to reside in, which houses were the origin of the town, and the ferry between this place and Greenock gave an additional importance to it. Part of the feudal tenure by which one of the proprietors in the vicinity holds his lands is that of maintaining this ferry across the Clyde.

The castle seemed to have covered an acre of ground, and to have had three towers. By Royal charter of 1472, Colin, Earl of Argyll, Lorne, and Campbell, obtained certain lands round the Castle of Dunoon. These lands he held of the crown for a white rose, shown at the bottom of the Seal. In 1544 the castle was besieged and taken by the Earl of Lennox, who had desired to be Regent during the infancy of Mary Queen of Scots, and on 26th July 1563 Queen Mary herself visited it. In 1646 it was the scene of a cruel atrocity perpetrated by the Campbells on the Lamonts of Cowal and Bute. Thirty-six of these were conveyed from the houses of Escog and Castle-Toward to the village of Dunoon and hanged on an ash tree at the kirkyard. “Insomuch that the Lord from heaven did declare His wrath and displeasure by striking the said tree immediately thereafter, so that the whole leaves fell from it, and the tree withered, which, being cut down, there sprang out of the very heart of the root thereof a spring like unto blood purpling up, and that for several years till the said murderers or their favourers did cause howk out the root.” After this the castle was utterly neglected and fell to ruin. Its stones were taken to build neighbouring cottages, and now its outline can hardly be traced, but it is believed there are a vast number of vaults underground.

The upper division of the shield bears a steamboat, indicating that the town received a new lease of life by the introduction of steamers on the Clyde. The shield is surrounded by Scotch thistles, and the recently added motto, “Forward,” shows that continuous prosperity is looked for.

Seal of the Burgh of Tobermory, Mull, Argyll.

TOBERMORY, in the island of Mull, was founded in 1788 by “The British Society for extending the Fisheries and improving the Sea coasts of the Kingdom.” In 1875 it adopted the Lindsay Act, and under the Burgh Police Act of 1892 designed a Common Seal as follows:—

On a background of thistles a shield divided into four. The first quarter bears a representation of the Virgin and Child, the Virgin being the patron saint of the Burgh, hence the origin of the name from the Gaelic Tobar Moire, the Well of the Virgin Mary. This was originally a fountain which, in the days of popery, was dedicated to the Virgin. In the second quarter is a dolphin spouting water; in the third, an ancient galley with flags on the mast and at the stern; and in the fourth, a fish, probably a herring. These three latter devices are emblematic of the scheme for the foundation of the town, and its subsequent development as a fishing centre.

Regarding the dolphin, we are told by Nisbet: “The dolphin is taken for the King of Fishes . . . for his strength and swiftness in the pursuit of other fishes his prey, and is said to be an admirer of men, so as to be humane, and a lover of music, for which he is often used in arms and devices. Ulysses is said by Aldrovandus to have carried the dolphin on his shield. . . . Hopingius says, that Ulysses carried the dolphin on his shield and signet-ring, upon the account of that creature’s humanity for saving his son Telemachus when he fell into the sea.”

The motto “Ceartas” is a Gaelic word, meaning justice or equity.

— Porteous, Alexander, The Town Council Seals of Scotland; Historical, Legendary and Heraldic, Edinburgh: W. & A. K. Johnson, 1906.

A Pack of Hypocrites

WHERE are the days that we have seen,
When Phœbus shone fu’ bright, man,
Days when fu’ merry we have been,
When every one had right man;
Now gloomy clouds do overshade,
And spread wide over a’, man,
Ill boding comets blaze o’er head,
O whirry whigs awa’, man.

Now ill appears with face fu’ bare,
‘Mong high and low degree, man,
And great confusion every where,
Which every day we see, man;
A blind man’s chosen for a guide,
If they get not a fa’ man,
There’s none needs wonder if they slide,
O whirry whigs awa’, man.

We are divided as you see,
A sad and dreadful thing, man,
‘Twixt malice, pride, and presbytery,
And Satan leads the ring, man:
Our nation’s under misery,
And slavery with a’ man,
Yet deaf’d with din of liberty,
O whirry whigs awa’, man.

Our decent gowns are all put down,
Dare scarcely now be seen, man,
Geneva frocks take up their room,
Entitled to the tiends, man;
Who cant and speak the most discreet,
And say they love the law, man,
Yet are a pack of hypocrites,
O whirry whigs awa’, man.

Of primitive simplicity,
Which in our church was left, man,
Of truth and peace with prelacy,
Alas! we are bereft, man;
Instead of true humility,
And unity with a’ man,
Confusion’s mither presbytery,
Now spawns her brats thro’ a’ man.

The Lord’s prayer and the creed,
With glore to trinity, man,
New start-ups all these things exclude
And call them popery, man,
Rebellion’s horn they loudly tout,
With whinning tone and bla, man,
And leave the means of grace without;
O whirry whigs awa’, man.

Yet creed and Lord’s prayer too,
The true blue folks of old, man,
Ye know believed to be true,
And promised to hold, man.
But having proved false to God,
Traitors to kings with a’, man,
They never by their word abode;
O whirry whigs awa’, man.

Continue reading “A Pack of Hypocrites”

Objects of Charitie: Beggars’ Badges

Scottish beggars’ badges.

BEGGARS’ BADGES. One of the earliest references to the regulation of begging in Scotland is an Act of the Scottish Parliament, 1424, c. 25, which prohibited from begging disorderly persons fit to work, and granted permission to the poor to continue begging under certain regulations, such poor being identified by the permission of a badge or token. Among other Acts bearing on this question was one passed in 1672, which provided that when the contributions at church proved insufficient to maintain the poor, deserving paupers should be supplied with badges or tickets entitling them to ask alms in their own parishes. An English Act bearing on this subject is Act 5 and 6, Edward VI., c. 2, whereby the poor might be licensed to beg, and such as were licensed were to “weare openly upon him bothe on the breast and the back of his uttermost garment some notable badge or token.”

Badges were usually of lead, but were occasionally of brass, copper, or mixed metal. In modern times they were sometimes of cardboard, having suitable words printed thereon.

They are designated badges, blazons, tickets, testimonials, and such like. In connection with this subject it may be remarked that the ordinary bedesmen had embroidered on the sleeve of their gown the cognisance or badge of their founder.

It is in the eighteenth century that mention is most frequently made of badges, but in the Session record of Stow we find, so early as 1635, that £3 was paid for badges to the poor. In Dumfries the wearers of such tokens were known as “badgers.”

The entries in the minutes of the Kirk Session of Keith may be taken as one of the most illustrative of this subject among northern parishes :—

(1) “1730, June 26. The Session met in pursuance of an act of the J. P.’s of this shire for clearing this county of vagabonds, &c., and for taking care of the poor of the parish, each parish being oblidged to maintain their own poor. The Session resolve that the poor in the parish who are natives get bages, tokens, or testimonials when required. Those not born parishioners, but had been for twenty or thirty years in the parish, the Session refer their case to a fuller meeting. Those lately fallen into the parish the Session refer till it be seen what other parishes do.”

(2) “1741. Paid of coarse copper for badges 4s stg. To making the badges 18s.”

(3) “1742, May 25. The Session met with Alexander Grant of Tochieneil, factor to the Earl of Findlater and Seafield, and Thomas Innes of Muiryfold, factor to Lord Braco, as also several other gentlemen and heads of families, who taking to their serious consideration the state of the poor of the parish, agreeable to what is done in other parishes in this County, and the roll of those who are or pretend to be poor in this parish, being considered there were several who were either Highlanders lately come into the parish, or idlers having youth and strength and supposed to be able to maintain themselves, who were ordered to be cancelled; but those who were inborn poor, and others who had spent their strength and substance in the parish, and also such as were real objects of charity, were ordered to be enrolled, but at the same time it was enacted that all those enrolled poor should dispone their whole goods and gear to the Session for the use of the poor of this parish, or sign the disposition underwritten before they receive badges to beg, which badges, being provided by the Session, were produced by the clerk, being some coarse brass or coper found among the collections melted and formed into little badges with the word KEITH upon them, and a particular number for each, which were seen and approven, and further they ordained that the parish be divided into six parts, and that the begging poor do take a part of the parish to beg in for each day of the week, as follows :” &c.

(4) “1789, February 9th. Paid for 36 blazons for the poor of this parish, 12s.”

(5) ” 1815, August 18. By cash to Mr. Kynoch for a stamp for making badges for the poor, 4s. By cash to Mr. Kynoch for lead and stamping 55 badges, 7s. 6d.”

(6) “1826. Paid for sacramental tokens and badges for the poor —”

(7) “1827, Feb. 16. The moderator stated to the meeting [of Heritors and others concerned in the management of the Poor’s Funds] that in consequence of a great number of vagrants coming to this place and settling in it, it was a great injury to the poor of the parish, and that he would be happy if measures could be concerted to put a stop to such a practice. It was agreed that Badges should be made for the poor of the parish, and that all the Badges should be numbered. April 15. List of persons to whom badges are to be given, 29 in all, of whom 4 are men and 25 women. Mr. Kynoch was appointed to make the badges.”

(8) “1839, November 15. A meeting of the Heritors of this parish [Keith] agreed that badges be given to the deserving poor who are already in the practice of begging.”

A few extracts may be given in reference to other parishes :—

Huntly.—” 1742, May 19. The Session take under consideration the Act of the Justice of Peace in the county of Aberdeen at the Quarter Sessions in December last with respect to the poor, and likewise the regulations agreed upon by the Presbytery of Strathbogie. They take a list of the poor of the parish of Huntly, and divide the same into six divisions, and appoint the poor of these divisions to beg within the bounds thereof, and a constable for each division for taking care that the Acts of the Justice of Peace relative to beggars be duly observed. Blaisons are appointed to be given to all the beggars.” [These were 34 in number, excluding the town’s beggars.]

Huntly.—”1789. Paid for 36 blazons for the poor of this parish.”

The Huntly badge shown in the illustration is a heavy mass of lead, ol oval shape, and upwards of two inches in length.

Rothiemay.—”1660, May 6. Concerning giving of tokens to the poor of the parish to be advysed with the gentlemen, &c., of the parish.”

Rothiemay.—”1839, Nov. 15. The heritors agree that badges be given to the deserving poor who are already in the practice of begging.”

Mortlach.—1815. The Keith Session allow their poor to beg within the parish, and grant them tickets for that purpose.

Grange.—1688. “An Act made by the Session that no beggar without the pariochin be supplied, and that all within the pariochin that ar objects of charitie shall have tokens whereby they may be known, and non others to be served. The travellers among the poor being asked if they were willing to have tokens, refused all unanimously.”

Grange.— 1730. “Paid for 15 medals inscribed GRANGE, 15s. Sc. for the travelling poor.”

Grange.—1742. “Badges appointed by the Heritors and Session to be given to the begging poor. Paid to George Symon for the badges £1 16s.”

Grange.—1840. “Paid for printing badges 2s. od.” These badges are of cardboard. A specimen, in the possession of the present writer, bears the words: “Permit — to beg through the parish of Grange. J. M. Innes, Heritor.”

Bayndie.—1814. The Session give metal badges, with the name of the parish inscribed thereon, to three mendicants, whom they consider proper objects for receiving the charity of their fellow-parishioners.

Rathven.—1730. “The heretors appointed badges of lead, stamped with ‘R — N,’ to be given to the poor to travel through the parish for supply, also ordained that none else get badges but the listed poor.”

Banff.—1742. To serve the burgh’s own poor, and to keep out stranger beggars, it was ordained “that there be a list made of all necessitous and depauperate persons within this burgh, and that badges of lead be made out, and delivered to them by the direction of the magistrates, for allowing them to begg every Saturday throw the town, but at no other time, and that stranger beggars be imprisoned, or punished as the law directs.” Also “that if any burgess serve, or resett, any begging poor, except those above mentioned, and at the time above exprest, they shall pay a penalty of 20s. Sc., the one half payable to the informer, the other half to be applyed for the use of the poor.”

Banff.—1742. “Paid Robert Davidson, smith, £4 Sc., for making badges to the poor,” &c.

Banff.—1775. “The bailies report eight persons to obtain badges. The inhabitants are ordered not to set houses to, or harbour persons who have not any visible way to maintain themselves.”

On referring to the illustration, it will be observed that some of the badges have holes, whereby they could be sewed on to the badger’s “uttermost garment.” Of the badges figured, those of Huntly, Boharm, and Ecclesgreig (St. Cyrus), are from the collection of the present writer, the others, except that of Montrose, are figured from rough sketches of specimens contained in the collection of the late Mr. Rae.

W. CRAMOND.