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Old faces, old places and old stories of Stirling (Volume 1) online

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ever, along with the Artisan Company which had in the
meantime been formed present at the Review in the^Queen's :'
Park, Edinburgh, in 1860. A Highland Compan^as after-
wards formed, but after many vicissitudes, it was amalgamated
with the 2nd, or Artisan Company.

An Artillery Corps, which has always been a success in Stir- ^
ling, was formed later, of which the late Provost Murrie was

The Volunteer movement becoming popular so rapidly, not
a few of the youth of Stirling became imbued with a martial
spirit, and this, fanned no doubt to some extent by the sight
of their seniors drilling in the quadrangle of the High School
the janitor of which, Sergeant Anderson, was the first instruc-
tor led speedily to the formation of the Stirling High School
Cadet Corps, who, in uniform tunic and glengarry, and carry-
ing dummy rifles took part, amongst the public bodies of ,
Stirling, in the procession at the laying of the foundation-stone
of the National Wallace Monument on 24th June, 1861.

The Douglas Room Fire.

Shortly after 11 o'clock on Sabbath night, 18th November,

1855, amidst a drizzling rain, smoke was seen rising from the

quarters in Stirling Castle occupied by the officers of the 90th

(Stirlingshire) Regiment of Militia. On the cause being dis-



covered, 'Sergeant-Major Veitch, of the 42nd Regiment,
ordered the bugler to sound the alarm, and in a short time
hundreds of men were on the spot, some of the Berwickshire
Artillery (then in the Castle) being the first to enter the burn-
ing building, but had no success in staying the progress of the
fire, the flames by this time lighting up the quadrangle. The
Castle engine was manned by willing hands, but the fire still
raged with' fury, and it did not add to the comfort of those
present to know that within eight or ten yards of the burning
building the regimental gunpowder magazine was situated,
containing five or six barrels of gunpowder, while about fifty
or sixty yards off stood the principal magazine, containing some
eight hundred barrels. Fort-Major Peddie and Gunner Harmer
(who died some time after from the effect of injuries received)
who had charge of the gunpowder magazine, were speedily on
the spot, and unremitting in their exertions as to every pre-
caution against such a dreadful danger.

About half-past 12 the town engine also commenced to play
on the flames, one of the brigade, James Gentles, taking a
conspicuous part, and placing himself in positions of extreme
peril. Between 1 and 2 o'clock the fire was raging fiercely, and
spread rapidly to the contiguous apartments. About this time
Lieutenant Dawson, one of the officers of the Berwickshire
Artillery, ascended to the roof by a ladder, cut away some of
the connecting beams, and after coming down procured a relay
of men and used every exertion to save the Douglas Room.
For a long time the flames hovered around this ancient room,
so surrounded with historical associations, but, unfortunately,
it was completely burned. As the fire extended, holes were
broken in the roof, and water poured through to cool the
adjoining walls. It was intimated that a box of valuable
jewellery, the property of Ensign Boyd, of the Stirlingshire
Militia, was in one of the rooms, and a private of that regi-
ment, who was formerly a slater in Edinburgh, volunteered to
save the property. In the most daring manner he passed
through the smoke and flames to the spot indicated, and
succeeded in his purpose, his face, however, being scorched
during his progress. A large portion of the roof fell in about
3 o'clock, at which time the flames were seen for many miles


around, and at 5 the remaining portion fell. What was known
as the Governor's House in all, some eighteen apartments
was completely gutted, and was, in fact, a ruin. Ensign
Fowkes, who lost all his belongings, including a considerable
sum of money, was afterwards named " Guy Fowkes," as it
was said the fire had originated in his quarters, and some of
the other officers were in a similar plight. The mess plate of
the Stirlingshire Militia was fused and lost, and, besides the
building, one thousand pounds worth of private property was
destroyed. The fire was subdued about 8 o'clock on Monday

A Brave Fellow.

In a preceding page, under the heading of " Some Orra
Folk," reference is made to "Tickler" Lyon, a member of a
family bearing one of the most ancient names to be found in
the parish registers of Stirling. There were two families of
them, known respectively as the " White " and the " Black "
Lyons. The latter have now died out, and the last male repre-
sentative of the " White " Lyons accompanied a draft to the
Crimea in 1854. A few months before he had enlisted in
the 42nd Royal Highlanders, and naturally wished to see some
service. He, therefore, requested to be allowed to join the
service company of his regiment, then before Sebastopol, but
on being reminded that he was only a recruit, and that his tuni
would come by and bye, the pluck of the young "Tick" was
fairly roused, and vented itself in something like the following
address to his superiors

" Sir, although only a recruit, I am an old soldier. The
' White ' Lyons of Stirling have long been celebrated for
bravery in the field. One of my forefathers, along with seven
stalwart sons, joined the standard of the Earl of Mar in 1715,
and the old man was the only one of them that left the field of
Sheriffmuir with his life. In 1745 the ' White ' Lyons took part
with ' Bonnie Prince Charlie ; ' one was caught and hanged in
Carlisle ; another was banished to the plantations ; some
suffered imprison* ient and torture from festering wounds ;


while others escaped to their homes. A Lyon will never dis-
grace the colours of the Royal Highlanders. Please to put
down my name, sir, as I mean what I say."

His appeal, so well enforced, was irresistible : James got a
slap on the shoulder, and an approving look from both Ser-
geant-Major and Doctor, had the satisfaction of seeing his
name added to the number forming the draft, and was told to
go and make himself comfortable.

11 The Roosh."

Many still alive will recollect " The Roosh," but few are
aware of how he became a soldier. Neilson, who was well-
known in Stirling, and belonged to the stable interest for some
time, when on a " spree," and reduced to an empty pocket,
made use of a ruse of his own, and offered to enlist. Her
Majesty's shilling was the Alladin's lamp for him, and his
height being just under the standard, an hour or two saw him
a free man again, the shilling being, as matter of course,
" melted." On one of these occasions the shilling was accepted
with great pleasure, but on his proceeding to the Orderly-room
for test of height with all the confidence of a man who knows
what he is about, bump came poor " Roosh's " head against the
arm which he used to pass under with all freedom. " Am I
growing yet ? " exclaimed the bewildered soldier, for such he
now was to all intents and purposes. " The Roosh " was a cute
fellow, but he had not taken into account the lowering of the
standard from 5 ft. 6 in. to 5 ft. 4 in. during the Crimean War.

Stirling Claims Garibaldi.

In 1859, Stirling was put forward as being the birth-place of
the Italian patriot, Garibaldi. A correspondent of the Glas-
gow "Bulletin" stated that James Anderson, a pensioner of
the 42nd, had informed him, while on an angling excursion on
the banks of the Allan, that " his grandfather, James Garrow,
was a shoemaker at the Auld Brig o' Stirling, who often



mended my shoes ; and his son, Bauldy, 'listed in our regiment,
and was present at many a' hard battle alang wi' mysel'. He
got a severe wound at Toulouse, and, under the care of a pretty
Italian girl, a servant to a noble family, got quite recovered of
the bullet, but not so easily of the wound made by her dark
eyes. They were married, and had one child. Ere I left
France he went, along with the family, to Italy. They could
never call him Garrow, but Garibaldi, and his son, I am certain,
is the present great commander."



LTHOUGH Stirling is quite on a par with other
places, so far as petty misdemeanours are concerned,
in the matter of serious crime we have every reason
for congratulation, as for a long period no offence of
a grave character has called for the attention of the authorities,
or stirred the community. A glance at the " Stirling Burgh
Records " brings before the reader various offences and crimes,
and the punishments meted out to criminals ; but, although
like offences prevail to a greater or less extent at the present
day, the sentences imposed are by no means so severe as those
therein noted. For instance, we read of certain persons hav-
ing been " in amerciament of bloud and trublance ; " of another
(a woman, Marioun Ray) " amerciat for trubling of Agnes
Hendersoun, calland hir theiff, landlowpair, and that scho suld
lay the pynt stoup on hir cheftis ; ordanis for penitioun that
thair be maid ane standand gest furth fra the heid of the tol-
buitht, with ane pillie, ane tow and ane creile, and scho be put
in the creile and hyng thair during the will of the provest and
baillies ; " and " William Duchok, amerciat for trubling Merione
Aikman," is, among other things, adjudged " to drink wattir
xxiiij houris becaus he wes drunkin quhen he missaid hir."
Then we have accounts of " pykars," or thieves ; " resettars of
pykry ; " " common flyttars," " common lieris," booth-breakers,
" idle and sturdye vagaboundis and common pykeris and evill
levaris," and amongst the punishments awarded are the follow-
ing, viz., for theft, to have their " lugis nalit to the trone;"
to " byrne hir cheek and banis hir the toun ; " to be " hangit


quhill he war deid ; " and, for a repetition of the offence, certain
criminals were " to be drownit without further accusatioun ; ''
and rogues and vagabonds were to be " scurgit through the
toune, and burnt on the shoulder, exiled and banisht this burgh
and libertie thairof for ever; and gif ever ony of the saidis
persouns be fund agane thairin to be hangit or drowned, but
assyse or dome of law." The following has been culled as an
example of what prevailed during the period spoken of as

" The Good Old Times."

Upon the twilt day of August, 1579, William Trumbell and
William Scot were hanged at the Cross of Stirling " for making
certain ballates, quhilkis were thocht liable to saw discord
amongis the iiobilitie, and this was thocht aiie new preparative,
seing none had been execut for the like before. Notwith-
standing quhearof in the shailing of the pepill from the
execution, there were ten or twelff inventive and despytful
letters fund in process, tending mickle to the dispraise of the
Erie of Mortum and his predecessouris."

Coming to a more recent period, we have an account of

The Last Public Whipping in Stirling.

Friday, the 2nd of July, 1830, was a day to be remembered
in the history of Stirling. The early part of the day was
occupied by the civic authorities in proclaiming His Gracious
Majesty King William IV. as the sovereign of these realms, and
the next duty was to see the sentence of law carried into effect
against two notable offenders, named M'Kenzie and Ord, who
had been convicted before the Sheriff-Depute of Stirlingshire,
for an atrocious assault, on the 28th November, 1829, on the
person of Alexander Baird, wright, Stirling ; and also cruelly
assaulting, on the 30th of the same month, William Ward,
Sergeant of the Town Guard. The Magistrates had taken the
precaution of swearing in a hundred special constables, in-
structing them to be present during the punishment of the
culprits, and to co-operate with the High Constables.


At half-past 1 the High Constables met at the Court House
in Broad Street in obedience to the order of the Magistrates,
and on the roll being called by Captain Robertson, not one was
found absent. The special constables met in the same room,
when both parties moved into Broad Street, where they were
separated into four divisions, forming a hollow square. The
first division was under the care of the first lieutenant, Mr
Henderson ; the right of the treasurer, Mr Smith ; the left of
the secretary, Mr George Mouat ; and the rear of the second
lieutenant, Mr James Drummond. Captain Robertson took
his station in the centre, and ably superintended the move-
ments of the whole body. At 2 o'clock the criminals were
brought from the jail, and attached to a cart within the square
formed by the constables. The crowd in Broad Street was
estimated at between four and five thousand people, who
pressed excessively on the authorities, but by the exertion of
the constables such a barrier was formed as completely pre-
vented any interruption to the sentence being carried out.

The prisoners were to receive thirty-six lashes each, the first
twelve in front of the Court House, which were duly inflicted ;
the procession then moved down Baker Street to the foot of
Bank Street, where the second punishment was served ; it
then moved down to King Street, where, in front of the
Athenasum, the remaining portion was inflicted, and the
criminals were returned to the jail by way of Spittal Street.
The Magistrates, Sheriff-Substitute, and other civil authorities
attended at the several stations to see that the sentence was
fully and properly carried into effect. On the return of the
constables and officials to the Court House, the Sheriff-
Substitute addressed Captain Robertson, complimenting that
gentleman and the entire body of constables in the warmest
terms for the excellent arrangements they had made in sup-
porting the public authorities on this and on every other
occasion when their services were required, and expressed a
hope that the determination they had shown to preserve the
peace of the burgh would have the eftect of preventing such
outrages in the future.

The punishment did not seem to produce much effect upon
the minds of these young but hardened offenders, who, during


the whole proceedings, exhibited such a want of moral feeling
and sense of shame as could scarcely have been expected in such
youthful criminals. The spectators conducted themselves with
much propriety, showing no disposition to riot, and seeming to
regard the criminals with much astonishment. Such a punish-
ment had not been inflicted in Stirling for many years previous
to this time, and it is gratifying to be able to record that no
such punishment has since disgraced our local annals.

44 Drumming Out" of Women.

One of the most remarkable sights ever witnessed in Stir-
ling was the " drumming out " of some loose women from the
town in the year 1848. Some days previously the Town
Officers were securing and having the women confined in the
guard-house (there were no police in Stirling in those days).
When all had been secured, the Provost, Magistrates, and High
Constables paraded in Broad Street, and were formed into
processional order, the Town Officers with their halberts going
first, then the Provost and Magistrates, and after them the
High Constables in open order, with the " fairies " (their aprons
over their heads, and weeping very bitterly) within their ranks.
After them came Isaac Spyron, the town drummer, who, when-
ever the procession started, began a long roll on his drum,
continued at intervals as they walked at dead march pace down
town to the beginning of Melville Terrace, where they were
ordered to " flit," but by the time the Magistrates had reached
Dalgleish Court, Baker Street, on their return, the mournful
maidens were leaping over the upturned earth where the work-
men were engaged in laying the water pipes, screaming and
laughing in the forefront.

A Magistrate in a Fix.

One morning in September, 1850, sometime about the " wee
short hour ayont the twal," Janet Richardson, better known
as "Milk Jenny," was apprehended, along with a male com-


piminii. accused of disturbing the neighbours, and other out-
rageous conduct, and on being brought to the guard-house a
feat of considerable difficulty, as Jenny was somewhat cantan-
kerous she deposited a pledge of 5s. as a warrant that she
would appear in the hour of cause. The hour came and so did
Jenny ; the charge was fully substantiated, and she was
amerced in a fine of 10s., besides all expenses. With the
apparent intention of depositing the fine in the hands of the
sitting Magistrate (Bailie Steel), Jenny moved round the
wooden barricade of the dock, the officers present making room
for her most gallantly. A few moments, however, showed that
Jenny had other intentions than of paying the fine in the legal
coin of the realm : she had evidently adopted, with a slight
alteration, the remarkable expression of another heroine :

" To-morrow for paying, to-day for revenge,"

and ere any one could interfere, she flew at the bailie, as an
eye-witness expressed it, " just like a terrier at a badger."
Now began the row comical. The bailie, with all the calmness
which his critical situation permitted him to exercise, was hold-
ing his dog, which accompanied him to the bench, lest it might
inflict summary punishment on the Amazonian Jenny, who
was thus defying the law on its very throne ; and the officers
and other attendants of the Court endeavouring to subdue the
virago, a regular melee ensued, in which numerous bites,
scratches, both long and deep, and other minor wounds were
given and received. Numbers at last prevailed, and Janet,
with arms and legs securely strapped, was consigned to limbo,
to await her trial for assaulting a Magistrate, and showing so
" striking " contempt of court.

Execution of Baird and Hardie.

The carrying out of the sentence adjudged on these notable
men occasioned, as may well be imagined, no small amount of
interest, not only in Stirling, but throughout the greater part
of the country, as well on account of the attendant circum-


stances as of the crime with which they were charged. It is
recorded that from the period of their condemnation they were
almost daily attended (in Stirling Castle, where they were con-
fined) by the Rev. Mr Bruce, the Rev. Dr Wright, and Mi-
Small of Stirling ; and by the Rev. Mr Heugh, Back o' Toun
Kirk. But such was the rapid advancement they had made
in the Christian life that some of those gentlemen acknow-
ledged they visited the prisoners rather to learn thaw
communicate instruction, rather to witness the triumph of
divine faith than to perform any extraneous service.

It was the wish of the prisoners to spend their last night on
earth in private prayer, but some of their relatives had ex-
pressed desire to spend the night along with them. This
request being complied with, the night was spent in reading
portions of the Scripture, in prayer, and conversation ; and so
cool and collected were the prisoners nay, so cheerful and
happy did they seem to be that they were more like saints
made perfect in bliss than men about to undergo ignominious
death. Hardie desired to know from his relatives whether
they had prepared a strong coffin to take his body to Glasgow,
and even examined his winding-sheet, which he discovered they
had brought with them from Glasgow.

About 4 in the morning, the two men lay down in bed to-
gether, and slept soundly till 6. At that hour, agreeably to
their own request, they were awakened, washed and dressed
themselves, and engaged in singing the first four verses of the
51st Paraphrase ; Baird reading from the 15th chapter of 1st
Corinthians. He then engaged in an agony of prayer, the pur-
port of which was that the Almighty would strengthen their
faith, and stand by them at the approaching trying hour.
This was probably one of the most powerful, comprehensive,
and affecting prayers ever offered up. The reverend gentle-
men, who had now entered the cells and heard it, could not
repress their emotion nor subdue their tears.

At 1 o'clock (the execution being fixed for 2) they requested
to be allowed, as they passed to the scaffold, to take a glimpse
of those taken with them at Bonnymuir, and to bid them a last
farewell. This scene was touching in the extreme. Some
eighteen or twenty youths were grouped around the windows


of their prison, and both Hardie and Baird addressed them in
most affectionate and endearing terms, assuring them that,
though suffering, they were not evil-doers ; and that the cause
for which they suffered would sooner or later prevail. After
this they were all permitted to embrace each other, and it was
with considerable difficulty that some of them were torn away
from that sad and solemn embrace.

Immediately after this Hardie and Baird were conducted to
the Castle gates, where the hurdle was in waiting to receive
them, and drive them to the place of execution in Broad Street,
which street, and all near it, was crowded to excess, the gallows
being surrounded by a body of military, consisting of the 13th
Regiment of Foot and a troop of the 7th Dragoon Guards, the
guns of Stirling Castle pointing almost directly down upon
them from the ancient ramparts. When the prisoners were
taken from the hurdle to mount the scaffold, they chanted
together the first four verses of the last Hymn. Hardie walked
nimbly to the scaffold ; and looking up, exclaimed, " Hail,
messenger of eternal rest!" Baird followed, and for a few
moments both knelt together in prayer. They then addressed
the assembled and excited multitude, greater by far than any
ever seen before at an execution in Stirling. Baird took
speech first in hand. These were his words, as he stood erect
upon the scaffold :

" Friends and countrymen I dare say you will expect me to
say something to you of the cause which has brought me here ;
but on that I do not mean to say much, only that what I have
hitherto done, and which has brought me here, was for the
cause of truth and justice. I declare I never gave my assent
to anything inconsistent with truth and justice. What I would
particularly direct your attention to is, to that God who is
Judge of all mankind, and of all human actions, and to Jesus
Christ, the Saviour of men. I have never hurt any one, I have
always led an innocent life, and as that is well-known to those
who know me, I shall say no more about it. I am not afraid of
the appearance of this scaffold, or of my own mangled body,
when I think of the innocent Jesus, whose own body was nailed
to the cross, and through whose merits I hope for forgiveness."


Hardie then stepped forward, and in the most dignified tone,
reciprocated the sentiments of his companion, Baird. He was
adding the following words in a commanding voice, amidst
breathless silence, " My dear friends I declare before my God,
I believe I die a martyr in the cause of truth and justice," when
at these expressions a shout of applause was set up by the
vast excited multitude. The military instantly prepared as if
for action, the dragoons unsheathed and brandished their
swords; many of the audience screamed, and, struck with
terror, fled. The scaffold itself became almost a moving mass
of excitement. Hardie was interrupted in the middle of his
address. The Sheriff (Ronald Macdonald of Staffa) ran up to
him on the boards of the scaffold, and told him plainly that
he could no longer permit him to continue haranguing the
audience in that manner ; and if he persisted, that he (the
Sheriff) would instantly command the executioner to do his
duty. Hardie, on this, civilly bowed, and said, " My friends,
I hope none of you have been hurt by this exhibition. Please,
after it is over, go quietly home and read your Bibles, and
remember the fate of Hardie and Baird. ' He then kissed his
companion, Baird ; they shook each other by the hand, so far
as" their bonds permitted them ; and, as they had previously
and mutually arranged between themselves, Hardie took now
the signal, a white cambric handkerchief, into his hands, and
drawing nearer, if possible, to the side of Baird, he uttered, in
a firm, calm voice, the words, "Oh death, where is thy sting?
Oh grave, where is thy victory ?" and at the last expression,
dropped the signal. -The bolt fell, and the last moving sight
of them was swinging together, and momentarily and convul-
sively attempting to catch each other again by the hands, but
in vain. After the lapse of half-an-hour, the executioner, in his

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Online LibraryWilliam DrysdaleOld faces, old places and old stories of Stirling (Volume 1) → online text (page 15 of 25)