Patrick Lyon Strathmore.

The book of record, a diary written by Patrick first earl of Strathmore and other documents relating to Glamis castle, 1684-1689 online

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Online LibraryPatrick Lyon StrathmoreThe book of record, a diary written by Patrick first earl of Strathmore and other documents relating to Glamis castle, 1684-1689 → online text (page 3 of 22)
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appears once in the Rolls of the Parliaments of William and
Mary under date 18th April 1693. About this time Lord
Strathmore made the draft of a deed in which, after setting
forth the many difficulties which had beset his progress
through life, and all the many blessings for which he had
to be thankful, in consideration whereof he resolved to build
four 'lodges' near the Kirktoun of Glamis for the use of
four aged men of his own surname if they could be found, and,
failing them, to such decayed tenants as had been reduced to
want not through their own fault, to each of whom he
intended to mortify yearly four bolls of oatmeal and 25 merks
Scots money, with 'a new whyt coloured wid cloath coat
lyned with blew serge once every thrie years.** His purpose
was that these four men should attend the Parish Church, and
' wait alwayes at the Church door when we goe there, and at
their own dores whenever we shall have occasion to pass by, if
they be not imployed abroad. . . . And that they shall be
holden (if sickness and infirmity do not hinder) to repair everie
day, once at the twalt-hour of the day to our buriall place
(whereof a key shall be given to each incomer), and a forme of
prayer to be read by them by turns, by such of them as can
read, and if they cannot read, that they learn the same by
heart.' His lordship's intention seems never to have been
carried out, and it remains merely in the form of a draft. He
died on 15th May 1695, in the fifty-third year of his age, and
was buried in the family vault at Glamis.

The character of the Earl of Strathmore may be easily de-
duced from the Booh of Record. He was apparently a man of
strict integrity and uprightness, with a profound respect for the
honour of his ancestors and a deep sense of his responsibility to
posterity. Succeeding in his youth to an estate heavily weighted
with debt, he managed, through a long course of economy and
self-denial, not only to relieve his successors of the burden he


had inherited, but to leave to them an estate greatly enhanced
in value, and two castles which will bear favourable comparison
with any others of the time. He was just without penurious-
ness, generous with discretion, affectionate in the family circle,
and tender and true to his friends and relatives. There are
two portraits of Lord Strathmore and a marble bust at Glamis
Castle, and to the student of physiognomy these show the
features of a mild and amiable man, more fitted, perhaps, to
shine in the court than on the field, and greater as a politician
than as a warrior. His own description of his character is
amply borne out by the facts which he relates in the course of
his narrative. ' By Divine providence, which I may rather
ascrive it to then out of any choise of my owne, being then so
young and of no experience, I did then begin, and still have
continued, with just and equall dealings to all men. I never
defrauded the poor, nor had I ever any favour or ease
from those who were powerful!, allwayes acknowledging my
father's bonds when I saw them. And I hope, by the mercie
of God, founding againe my familie upon the pillar of justice,
I shall be able to transmitt a good pairt of my estate with much
less of incumbrance and debt thenT found att my entrie thereto.'
It is not possible to read the simple story of his career which
he has narrated, without feeling that he was in an eminent
degree one worthy of the esteem of his own posterity and of

The Book of Record as Illustrating the Social
Condition of Scotland.

In examining the Bool; of Record the first point which
strikes the reader is the extreme scarcity of money at the
period. Though the estate which Lord Strathmore inherited
was one of the largest in Scotland at the time, the revenue
derived from it was seldom available for the direct payment of
debts in current coin. According to his own statement, the


estate which his grandfather left was valued at 560 chalders
victual and 100 merks annual rent. But through mismanage-
ment, extravagance, and especially through the ' woful cau-
tionries ' which his father had undertaken, the debts upon
the estate, when he came into it, amounted to ^£^400,000. By
careful financing and rigid economy Lord Strathmore suc-
ceeded in reducing the debt to c£'175,400, but the interest
upon this sum in 1684 was an annual charge upon the estate
of £10,5^4^. The rate of interest upon the whole of the bor-
rowed money was 6 per cent. ; and when it is remembered that
the most of the rents were paid in kind, and had to be sold in
the market to procure ready money, it will be seen that the
payment of this heavy annual charge must have been a great
burden. During the six years between 1678 and 1684 Lord
Strathmore succeeded in clearing off debts to the amount of
«£'99,866, 13s. 4d., and this was at the time when he was most
busily engaged with the reconstruction of Castle Lyon and
Glamis Castle. To accomplish this stupendous task Lord
Strathmore must have had a faculty for finance far exceeding
many of his contemporaries. A modern actuary might find
much instruction from the study of the clear and business-like
way in which he has set down his debts, and the methods he
took for liquidating them.

One of the principal difficulties in the financial system of the
time arose from the frequent assignation of debts from one
party to another. Bills and Bonds were then negotiable as the
only substitute for a paper currency, but the incidence of this
system often told severely upon the original debtor. The
granter of a bond might have a verbal agreement with the
holder of it that he was not to be pressed for payment within
a certain time ; but the necessities of the holder may have
compelled him to assign this bond to a third party, who was
under no obligation to delay the claim for payment. It is
easy to see how a bond like this getting into circulation might
come into the hands of an enemy, who would find in it an


opportunity for revenging himself upon the granter by de-
manding instant payment. A peculiar instance of this is
shown by Lord Strathmore's own family experience. After the
death of his father, his mother kept a strict note of all the
money which she expended for him out of her own liferent,
intending, as he suggests, to claim for this money in the event
of his dying without issue. She married the Earl of Linlith-
gow, however, and after her death, that nobleman, whose treat-
ment of the young Earl was extremely cruel, compelled the
repayment of all this money, and claimed upon the estate,
though still under curators, for a debt to which he had only a
secondary right (see page 17). Many other circumstances of
the same kind will be found throughout the volume, and the
value of the Book of Record is considerable because of the
clear manner in which this method of assigning debts is shown
to have brought about the ruin of many families. This is an
aspect of the social life of the times which has not received
due attention from historians of Scotland.

The two principal methods then employed for raising money
were the pledging of land as security, or the assigning of the
value of so many ploughs for the liquidation of the principal
sum and interest. As an instance of the former, the transac-
tion 6f Lord Strathmore with the Earl of Linlithgow, described
on page 15, may be examined. When Lord Strathmore pur-
chased some superiorities from the Earl of Crauford he
borrowed ,£'1333, 6s. 8d. from Lord Linlithgow. Shortly
afterwards, when Linlithgow married Lord Strathmore's
mother, he preferred a claim for the money she had expended
during her widowhood in the manner already referred to. To
meet this charge, which amounted to d£^l 4,666, 13s. 4d., Lord
Strathmore was compelled to pledge the lands of Cardean and
the third part of Lenross, and thus run the risk of losing a
large portion of the most valuable lands in his estate. Fortu-
nately he was able to clear off the debt shortly afterwards ; but
the fact that he was necessitated to make such an arrangement


shows how difficult it was to obtain money on any save herit-
able security. It is interesting to notice that Lord Strathmore
had frequent money transactions with Provost Coutts of Mon-
trose, who was the direct ancestor of the late Thomas Coutts,
the famous banker of London.

With very few exceptions, the whole rental of Lord Strath-
more's estate was paid to him in kind, and the values of
various farms were expressed more frequently under the form
of their produce than in current coiti. The Byreflat in Long-
forgan paid a rental of ' ten bolls of bear, besyds the teind
sheave drawne.' The Templebank of Thorntoun paid an
annual duty of 8 bolls bear, 8 bolls meal, and 12 poultry.
These are examples of the yearly farm-rents exacted ; but the
entry-money had to be paid in coin. The factors appointed
for the administration of the different portions of the estate
received the grain paid in name of rent, and stored it ; and the
proprietor paid his debts by giving an order to one of the
factors to deliver grain to the value of the amount charged
against him. In many cases this must have been a most in-
convenient method of payment, as it threw the onus of selling
the grain upon the creditor, and its frequent use shows in a
remarkable way the great scarcity of ready money throughout
the kingdom. In short, it was a survival of the old system of
barter which was in vogue in very early times. Another strik-
ing proof of the lack of a circulating medium is afforded by
the way in which tradesmen's accounts were paid. Andrew
Wright, the ingenious rural joiner at Glamis, who did much
of the reconstruction work at Lord Strathmore''s two castles,
was paid in this manner. He received the farm of Byreflat at
an agreed price, and was allowed to make up the cost of it by
work spread over a number of years. The agreements with
the masons and paviours always contained the stipulation that
so much was to be paid in money, and so much in meal. A
memorandum contained in a bundle of accounts relating to
the mason work at Glamis exhibits the usual form of agree-


ment, and may be here quoted, as showing the relations be-
tween employer and employed at that time : —

'At Glamis the 15th of Aprile, 1685. — After communing
with the four messons here at Glammis such is their shameless
greed and unthankfulness albeit of all the work and employ-
ment they have had of me these many years past, in which
they have gotten mony a pound and penie, I find that they
demande for laying the walk about the inner court with stone
upon edge verie exorbitant, it being no less than eight pounds
and ane firlot of meall for the rood, which would come to a
most extraordinar and exorbitant wage — but that I, consider-
ing that I have noe such thing to doe againe, have con-
descended to give them eight marks, and ane firlot of meall
for each rood, but that if I fynd any part of it worse done
then that is alredie, or that they presume soe much as on
stone upon its back unless it be more than a foot thick, I ll
withdraw at least the one half of the price, but if it be well
done they shall be well paid — only this — since I give them so
liberally there^s a little peice of wall from the corner of the
door which is to goe in to that eastmost gate house, which
most be taken down and rebuild by them in bounty to me,
for it is but a verie small matter if they had the good manners
not to grudge when more than reason is offered — but that I
observe there designe is upon task work to take it always soe
as that they may have wages thereby and a third part more ;
and for to give them daily wages, that is a thing which I'll
doe no more in all my life, for no master is able to subsist
by soe doing, unless they resolve to build themselves out of

On page 64 an agreement with the masons of Glamis for
building a closet within the charter-room is recorded, the price
being ^50 Scots, and 4 bolls meal. The two masons at Castle
Lyon were paid partly in money and partly in meal for the
work of building the wall round the plantation at Castle
Lyon (see page 80), and it is very seldom that a payment is


recorded as being made to tradesmen wholly in money. The
system of giving bounties on the completion of work was
frequently adopted. From the above quotation it will be seen
that Lord Strathmore expected some extra work to be done
for him gratis as a bounty. On the other hand, George
Ramsay, slater, received ;i£*94 Scots ' for dressing the roofe of
the house of Cossens, and for theicking the new byres and sheep
cott att my barns of Castle Lyon,^ together with three bolls 1
firlot, 2 pecks of meal as bounty. One of the customs of the
labouring classes, which was then dying out, but did not dis-
appear entirely before the present century began, is alluded to
on page 80. From April till the middle of October, the work-
ing day was from 5 a.m. till 7 p.m., the breakfast hour being
from 8 till 9 a.m., dinner from 12 to 1.30 p.m., the half hour
from 4 to 4.30 p.m. being allotted to what was called the ' four
hours drink."* Against the latter custom Lord Strathmore
rebelled, and he thus alludes to it : 'I chuse much rather to
pay a very full and competent pryce to all kind of workmen
than to be in use of waisting meall and malt and allowing
them morning drink and four hours w«^ was the custom long
ago : but that I have worn it out of use, finding too tho. it
was much, yet these kind of cattell being in use of it con-
sidered it very litle.' Though inclined to deal fairly with his
workmen. Lord Strathmore found himself sometimes imposed
upon, and the acute observations which he makes regarding
workmen on page 93 shows his attitude towards the work-
people in his employment : ' Though I hold it as a rule to
agree w* workmen so as not to have the trouble of feeding
them, for in some cases if they know off no imploy* elsewhere
they prolong the work for the benefit of having ther meat
bound to their mouth, yet such as thes painters and the more
ingenious sort of craftsmen coming from places at a distance,
ther is a necessity of being liberall that way; and ev'ne of
masons and wrights wher a man has much adoe, it is expedient
to have a headsman over the rest who must also have some-


thing of this nature done to them. Tho. ev'ne its frequently
losed that is done that way, for they are apt enow to receive
the favour w*out any rebatement of the pryce of ther work.
And the only way not to be cheated is to have no work.'

The ordinary work of the farm was at that time accomplished
partly by oxen and partly by horses. Though breeding was
not then so thoroughly understood as now, Lord Strathmore
was ahead of some of his contemporaries in this respect, and
his cattle account on page 63 is a suggestive one. He had
then a hundred oxen, besides cows and young cattle, several of
the oxen being utilised in the plough. Some idea of the price
of horses is afforded by the later entries in the Book oj* Record,
from which it appears that a dun gelding for riding cost ^6*18,
a saddle horse cost £% sterling, and a cart horse £^ sterling.

The value of grain during the years 1684 to 1689 may be
ascertained from the entries referring to sales made by Lord
Strathmore. Oats ranged at from £^ to £4i per boll. Bear
(barley) was sold at from £^ to ^5, 6s. 8d. per boll, the latter
price being charged for home grain sold to the brewers at
Glamis. In dealing with the Glamis brewers, his Lordship
had a peculiar custom for which it is difficult to account, and
which he thus refers to : — ' I usually sell a quantity of bear
more or less to my own brewars everie year at 13 sh. 4d. of
the boll att least more than the current rate, . . . the price
accorded on with those in and about the toune of Glammiss is
five pond six shill. eight pennies per boll, and those few of
them who paid readiest money hes 13 sh. 8d. of ease in the
boll w^^ is yet six shilling eight pennies more then the current
pryce in common mercats."* The price of meal does not vary
throughout the period covered hy \he Booh of Record, being
quoted at £^ per boll. Wheat rules at £Q per boll, though
on one occasion, after a scanty crop. Lord Strathmore sold
200 bolls in Glasgow at ^£^8, 6s. 8d. per boll. Taking these
prices as the current rates in the markets of the time, we may
easily calculate the stipend of the minister of Longforgan as


detailed in the Book of Record. It was as follows : — 5 bolls
wheat, 46 bolls bear, and 44 bolls oats, which would amount
in money value to nearly <^350.

The rent roll of Lord Strathmore as given on pages 46-49
may be thus summarised : —

The Narrow Circle ofGlamis.

260 bolls bear.
160 bolls meal.
.^1160 money.

David Lyon's Factorage at Glamis.
800 bolls meal.
£^Qm, 13s. 4d. money.

253 bolls bear.
394 bolls meal.
^^2240 money.
Yarn and poultry.

Little Blair.
20 bolls bear.
44 bolls meal.
16 bolls, 2 firlots oats.
£1M, 18s. money.

127 bolls bear.
160 bolls meal.
^3569, 17s. 4d. money.

Lordship of Lyon.

276 bolls wheat.

225 bolls bear.

62 bolls oats.

230 bolls meal.


36 bolls peas.
i^l200 money.


176 bolls 3 firlots bear.
7 bolls meal.
15 bolls oats.
^403, 13s. 2d. money.

Malthoiise at Glamis.
Annual rent, i?33, 6s. 8d.

It is worthy of notice, that in this rent roll the greatest
variety of grain is obtained from the fertile fields in the Carse
of Gowrie. In connection with this subject, attention may
be directed to the remark which the author makes on
page 17 with reference to the valuation of property for pur-
poses of taxation. His father seems to have left the manage-
ment of his affairs very much in the hands of his servants, and
they, through vanity, thinking thereby to increase the im-
portance of their master, entered the valuation of his rental
much above the real sum. The result proved disastrous to
Lord Strathmore, for as the taxes increased, and were exacted
upon an overstated rental, he had to pay a sum out of pro-
portion to that contributed by his neighbours.

Many curious items of information are to be gathered from
the Booli: of Record. In the matter of forestry, Lord Strath-
more was in advance of his time. On page 32, he gives
prudent advice as to the planting of new timber, both for
decorative purposes and as a source of income. He calculates
that the timber planted in his time at Castle Lyon would
come to be worth from £Q to £\^ per tree, ' but reckoning
them all but att three pond the piece will aryse to a sowme
exceeding the worth of the heretage of ane equal yearlie rent
to it.' Alluding to the ground at Glamis Castle, he writes
about ' the old chattered and decayed trees w«^ surrounded


the house, yet there were not many, and the most of these
that were, were to the southward, a comon mistake of our
ancestors, whereas reasonably any thickets or planting that are
about any man's house ought rather to be upon the north,
northeast, and northwest.' His reformation in the plantations
at Glamis did not meet with the approval of the ' commons
who have a naturall aversione to all maner of planting, and
when young timber is sett be sure they doe not faill in the
night time to cut even att the root the prettiest and straightest
tree's for stav's or plough goads.'

Amongst the miscellaneous items of information the follow-
ing may be referred to. A tun of French wine cost £21^.
Taking the tun as equal to four hogsheads, or 252 gallons, this
would make the price of it a little over d^l, 4s. 8d. per gallon.
On the occasion of the marriage of his niece to the son of Lord
Tarbet, Lord Strathmore paid £66, 13s. 4d. for ' a parsell of
dry sweetmeats,' which are distinguished from the ' wet sweet-
meatts ' that Lady Strathmore had in her store-room. There
is some caustic humour in the remark he makes as to the
account rendered by a Dundee apothecary. * I have payed
Robert Stratone, the apothecary, his acct. of 123 lib., which
is long owing, and such accts. are ridiculous, and I pray God
help them who have occassione to be much in there books, since
ther drogs and pastiles are sett doune under such strange names
and unknown marks that they cannot be weell controlled.' On
page 95, where Lord Strathmore alludes to his purchase of
silver-plate that had belonged to the Earl of Perth, he quotes
the current value of silver at £S, 4s. per ounce, to which he
adds 6s. per ounce on condition that the Perth crest is removed
and the Strathmore crest engraved in its place. On the same
page he notes the price which he paid for a cabinet for his
' fyne bed-chamber,' a large looking-glass for the dining-room,
a table, and two glasses, all of which cost ^£^80 sterling.
Wheels for stone-carts, which were strangely enough purchased
in St. Andrews, cost d^4 the set. For 100 deals purchased


from a Dundee timber merchant ' for the use of the church *"
he paid ^38, and 30 twelve-ell trees used for building purposes
were charged £1 each. The price of coal brought by water to
the Burn mouth of Invergowrie for the supply of Castle Lyon
is quoted at £^Q, 13s. 4d. per chalder, equal to £1, 13s. 4d.
per boll. The Book will well repay the careful consideration
of every one interested in the social life of Scotland two
hundred years ago.

Contract for Artistic Work at Glamis Castle.

The refined taste of Lord Strathmore led him to make pro-
vision for the internal decoration of Glamis Castle after he had
completed the alterations on the exterior. For this purpose
he employed the Dutch artist Jacob de Wet, who had come to
this country with his fellow-countryman, Jan Van Santvoort,
the carver, for the purpose of executing some of the ornamental
work at Holyrood Palace. It is not easy to tell the precise
nature of the work which Santvoort did at Glamis, but it pro-
bably consisted of some of the carved chimney-pieces, and the
picture frames which were made whilst he was at the Castle,
and it is likely that the stone carving of the Royal Arms
and the bust of Patrick, first Earl of Kinghorne, which is
placed in a niche over the main door, were executed by him.
On 23d February, 1684, there was ' paid to the Dutch carver,
Jan Van Sant Voort," the sum of o^394, and it is very likely
that for such an amount he had also carved the two life-sized
gladiators and the satyrs and lions which adorn the two prin-
cipal gates. The work of De Wet at Holyrood was begun in
1674, and was somewhat miscellaneous in character. Some-
times he was employed painting chimney-pieces in marble
colour, at other times depicting ' peices of historic ' for the
King's chamber, or designing the Coats-of-Arms for the stone-
carvers. Tradition has vainly attempted to fix the odium of
inventing the Holyrood 'Gallery of Kings' upon George


Jamesone of Aberdeen, but it is now indubitable that these
* paltry forgeries '' were the productions of this Dutch artist.
De Wet^s work at Holyrood was completed in 1686, and the
contract betwixt him and the Earl of Strathmore was
dated 18th January, 1688. The details are precisely laid
down, and De Wet undertook to execute the whole of the
work for c£*90 sterling, one half ' to be payed at such times as
he shall call or have occasione for it at any time during the
work, provyding that before the payt. of the full half three
pairts of foure of the whole work be done, and the oyr. equall
half of the sowmes so agreed on shall be thankfullie payd at
liis finishing and perfecting the same."* He was also to have
his bed and board at the Castle whilst employed on the work,
although there was no time stated for its completion. The
Earl was to prepare the roof of the Chapel and of the dining-
room, and such panels of the side- walls as were to be decorated
with pictures, and was also to provide oil-colours, cloth, and
canvas, where these were required. Before the end of 1688,
De Wet had received the whole sum included in his bar-
gain, as the dorso of the original contract contains a full
discharge for the ^^90 sterling, dated 17th November in that
year. After this time, however, he sent in a detailed account,
bringing up the sum claimed by him to c^'lSO, 3s. ster-
ling, deducting therefrom c£*lll, 2s. 2d., and leaving a
balance due by the Earl of .£'39. This account, with the
characteristic remarks of Lord Strathmore upon the various

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Online LibraryPatrick Lyon StrathmoreThe book of record, a diary written by Patrick first earl of Strathmore and other documents relating to Glamis castle, 1684-1689 → online text (page 3 of 22)