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

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black domino, again appeared, and, with other aid, stretched
the bodies on the block, then, taking aim with his uplifted axe,
after several strokes severed their heads from their bodies ;
and, holding them up, mumbled out the words with consider-
able trepidation " This is the head of a traitor ; this is the
head of another traitor," and then threw them from him to
the coffin underneath. The vast assembly shuddered and
groaned at this, and then began slowly to disperse.


On 20th July, 1847, the remains of Hardie and Baird were
exhumed from their graves at Stirling, and carried to Sighthill
Cemetery, Glasgow.

" Shades of the slaughtered ! shall the blood
Spilt on the block be ever dim?
Behold ! the blushing crimson flood
Hath called for vengeance unto Him !
Your tears and agony and sighs
Have risen entreating to the skies ;
And lo ! your last exulting hymn,
In dying tones, 'mid tumult sung,
In Heaven's high palaces hath rung."

At a later period, an attack having been made on the memory
of General Graham, Lieut. -Governor of Stirling Castle, for
alleged cruelty to Hardie and Baird and the other prisoners,
and this attack indirectly including Major Peddie, the Fort-
Major, whose duty it was first to receive the prisoners and see
after their safety or supervision, much indignation was felt
at these accusations against General Graham, and the most
unwarrantable ones (by implication) against Major Peddie, be-
cause, amongst the last words of Hardie and Baird on the
scaffold, they desired the Sheriff attending their execution " to
express to General Graham and Major Peddie our sense of
gratitude for the humanity and attention which they have
always shown to us." This led to the following interesting
letter from Major Peddie

Stirling Castle, 8th March, 1859.

My Dear Sir, The perusal of your very graphic " Old
Reminiscences " has given me much gratification, and has quite
refreshed my recollection of the stirring events you so well
narrate. They will be new and surprising to the present
generation of Glasgow people. My present intrusion is caused
by your promise of giving an account of the conflict at Bonny-
muir; and to speak of the gallant and humane conduct of
Lieutenant Edward Hodgson, of the 10th Hussars, who com-
manded the party. Although he had seen Baird and others
deliberately aim and fire at himself, he cantered up to the wall.
Baird took a stone from the wall to dress his flint. The Lieu-


tenant had his horse killed under him as he leaped over, his
sergeant severely wounded, but he succeeded in capturing the
whole party. The only wound then inflicted was a severe
sabre cut on the frontal bone of a powerful man, Alexander
Hart. A lad, Alexander Johnston, escaped into a morass, and
fired his pistol as fast as ever he could load ; when the brave
and generous officer, Hodgson, perceived it, he shouted out to
his troops, " Save the life of that spirited young boy! "

In my former letter I alluded to the general bearing of Baird.
When he was brought into the Castle, he stepped from amongst
the other prisoners, and, addressing me, said, " Sir, if there is
to be any severity exercised towards us, let it be on me. I am
their leader, and have caused them being here. I hope that
I alone may suffer." He added, " They have not had much to
eat since they left Glasgow. I beg you will be kind enough
to order food for them." Throughout he never shrank from
the position he then assumed. I send you a copy of a song sent
me by Allan Murchie, one of the prisoners, of which he was not
a little vain, and which the respited prisoners sang with great

Thanking you for your former kindness, which I highly
appreciate, believe me, my dear sir, your faithfully,


To Peter M'Kenzie, Esq., Glasgow.


(By One of the Condemned).

' Although our lives were ventured fair
To free our friends from toil and care,
The British troops we dint to dare,
And wish'd them a' good mornin'.

It's with three cheers we welcom'd them
Upon the Muir or Bonny Plain,
It was our rights for them to gain
Caused us to fight that mornin'.


With pikes and guns we did engage ;
With lion's courage did we rage
For liberty or slavery's badge
Caus'd us to fight that mornin'.

But some of us did not stand true,
Which caus'd the troops them to pursue,
And still it makes us here to rue
That e'er we fought that mornin'.

But happy we a' ha'e been
Since ever that we left the Green,
Although strong prisons we ha'e seen
Since we fought that mornin'.

We're a' condemned for to dee,
And weel ye ken that's no' a lee,
Or banish' d far across the sea
For fightin' on that mornin'.

If mercy to us shall be shown
From Royal George's kingly crown,
We will receive't without a frown,
And sail the seas some mornin'.

Mercy to us has now been shown
From Royal George's noble crown,
And we're prepared, without a frown
To see South Wales some mornin'."


Prisoner in Stirling Castle, 1820.

An Incident at the Trial of Baird and



At one important stage of the trial, Serjeant Hullock, in all
his fury against the prisoners, attempted to browbeat Francis
Jeffrey, the eloquent and high-minded counsel, who generously
undertook to lead the defence without fee or reward. Jeffrey
had objected to the appearance of Hullock in the case at all,


contending that as this was a Scottish case, no English barrister
had a right to conduct it. The Court, however, decided other-
wise, ruling that as Scottish counsel were heard at the bar of
the House of Lords, so Mr Jeffrey could be heard even in cases
of treason at York. Be that as it may, Hullock went on rather
defiantly against Jeffrey ; and what will hardly be credited
now-a-days, the Lords Commissioners interdicted and pro-
hibited the press from printing any of the evidence, or any of
the speeches of counsel, till the whole of the trials were over,
and that under "the most severe punishment." Mr Serjeant
Hullock, at some stinging observation of Mr Jeffrey, lost com-
mand of his temper, and again replied insultingly. Jeffrey sat
down, knitting his brows, and called for note paper to be
brought to him instantly. Ronald Macdonald of Staffa and
lona was at that moment sitting in Court. He was, in fact,
Sheriff of the county of Stirling, and then attending to his
official duties in that Court. He was a keen Tory, but had a
warm heart, and great regard for Jeffrey personally. His
Highland blood became aroused on behalf of Jeffrey at one part
of Hullock's assault ; so he quickly wrote, and threw across
the table of the bar to Jeffrey, a note to this effect "Challenge

the ; I'll be your second, anywhere out of this county."

Jeffrey leaped across the table and grasped the hand of Staffa.
The Court in a moment saw what was going to take place : a
duel, undoubtedly, at the end of that awful trial. But the
Lord President interposed ; and Hullock was made to apologise
to Jeffrey, which he did with all the frankness of an English-
man. They became afterwards the warmest friends.

Execution of " Scatters."

Alexander Millar, " Scatters," a cooper to trade, but who
did not work, and was a determined poacher, was tried, con-
victed, and hanged in Broad Street, for the murder of William
Jarvie, Wester Shieldyard, Denny, on 2nd November, 1836.
The name " Scatters " was given him from the manner in
which he loaded his gun, so that the pellets spread in a greater
degree when the gun was fired. His agility was wonderful,


and a wall was shown at Denny, about 7 feet high, which he
had been seen on one occasion to clear several times. On
another occasion, on urgent business, he accomplished a
journey from a part of Stirlingshire to Greenock, a distance of
47- miles, in the marvellously short space of eight hours, or
about six miles an hour. Millar's sole talk while lying under
sentence of death was about his running feats, and he men-
tioned to a gentleman who had called to see him, that if the
authorities would take him down to the Bridge, and give him
a couple of yards start, he would allow them to catch him if
they could.

He was 19^ years of age, but his callousness may be shown
by an incident which occurred. The joiner who was to make his
coffin desired to see him, and the governor of the jail, not wish-
ing to hurt the poor fellow's feelings, asked him to measure
a pane of glass that was broken in the window. " Oh," said
Millar, " there's no use for that way in bringing him in ; I
know what he wants ; I will stretch myself out, and let him
measure me for my last garment." When asked if the joyous
shouting of a number of children attending a school in the
vicinity of the jail annoyed him, he answered, " No ; " he liked
the sports of children, and wished he was like them, as all their
cares were fled when their food and play were secured. He was
hanged on 8th April, 1837. While Rev. Mr Leitch engaged in
prayer, Millar was observed to get his shoes unloosened, which
he kicked with great force into the street. An old woman in
Denny, whom he accused of being a witch, had, on one occasion,
told him that he would die with his shoes on, and he wished to
frustrate the prophecy.

Execution of Allan Mair.

Allan Mair, a white-haired old man, was well-known in the
county of Stirling. He had been brought up to farming, but
his temper became such that those who trespassed upon his
farm at once ran if they saw " the auld deil and his dug." He
wasted most of his means in raising trespass actions against
neighbours, but, poor and hated as he was, the parish granted


him a small allowance in the twilight of his life. Like most
bad men, Mair acted as a fiend towards his wife, who was a
doited auld body, at the time of this tale 85, while Mair was
84. He thrashed her almost daily, locking the door before he
started this work.

On Sunday, 14th May, 1843, the pair were residing at
Candie-End, Muiravonside, and Mair, after night had closed in,
began beating his wife, her cries being heard by neighbours,
who, as the cries died away to groans, whispered, " There's
dathe in the auld body's cup noo." Some one informed the
police, and the old man was apprehended.

On 19th September, the Circuit Court was held in Stirling.
On being asked by Lord Moncrieff " Are you guilty or not
guilty ?" Mair rose, and, with a shake in his voice, shouted
"Ma lord, I'm I'm no' guilty; in fac', I deny the name o't !
It wasna me that did it, as true's Goad's in heeveii! It was
Sandy Nimmo that cam' in at the bole and did it ! Noo, that's
as true as ye are there, ma lord !"

Evidence having been led at great length, showing the revolt-
ing cruelty of the wretch, one of the witnesses stating that the
fiend was never known to have spoken a kind word, the fore-
man of the jury said in a trembling voice " Our unanimous
verdict is that the panel is guilty of murder as libelled." His
lordship then said " Allan Mair, your case has been calmly
and deliberately considered before a jury of your country-

" Ay, a fine set o' men !"

" What's that you say, sir ?"

" Ay, I'm just saying that they are a fine set o' men!"

" The unanimous verdict," continued the judge, " they have
returned is that they find you guilty of the awful crime of

Sentence of death was then passed, the execution being fixed
for 4th October. The old man stamped his feet, glared at the
jury, and as he passed out a deep curse burst from his throat.

On the morning of his execution Mair, stiff, wearied, and
anxious, rose and dressed himself as best he could. He looked
up at the barred window, and as he saw some birds he groaned,


"Oh, that thae birds could bear my soul aloft! But I am
afraid it is to hell I am going!"

At that moment Rev. Mr Stark entered and asked how he

" Feel, sir ! I canna tell ye hoo I feel ! I canna think that
in twa 'oors' time I'll be lying on the braid o' my back a deid
man! Oh, sir! I suppose there's nae ither o't ? Eh? Speak!
Nae paurdon has come?"

And as the minister shook his head tears ran down the
seamed face of the old man.

" Brother," said the minister, " try and improve the little
time you have in this world by accepting the words of Him
with whom pardon lies. Remember He has said, " Though
your sins be as scarlet, yet you shall be made whiter than the
snow.' "

" Ay ! ay ! but I'm ower black to be made white," and a look
of terror was in his face.

" No ! no ! There is no sin too heinous for our Heavenly
Father to forgive! Don't you acknowledge your transgres-
sion, brother?"

"I suppose sae! I suppose sae! Whit 'oor is't?" he asked,
turning to the jailer.

" Half -past seven."

" Then the hangman will be here in a wee-ock ! Dae ye
think they'd let me speak on the scaffold ?"

" Would it be wise ?" asked the clergyman, sad of heart, for
he now began to think that his ministrations had been of little
avail. " O brother ! remember it is death you have to
meet ! Remember that there is yet time at this last half-hour
to come to Him who can blot out all sin !"

"Ay! ay!" groaned the prisoner. "That's what the Guid
Buik says! Then then I'll try to think I'm I'm gaun to
heaven ; " and he cried like a child, between his sobs exclaiming
" Oh whit an injustice ! Whit an injustice to a puir, white-
haired auld man!"

The cell door just then creaked, and the hangman stepped

" Now, sir!" he said in a cold voice, " get up till I bind you!"

"Whit! whit!" gasped the old man, and he quaked with


terror as he looked up at the executioner. " Are ye come
already for me?"

" Yes, and the time is short ! Get up, please, and let me
bind you!"

The jailers lifted him up, but he could not stand.

"This is very awkward," said the hangman; "how am I to
get him to the scaffold?"

"Ay, that's the question," hissed the old man between his
chattering teeth. " Deil a fit will I walk to my dathe !"

" Then you'll be carried," said the executioner. Extra jailers
were summoned, and the old man was half carried to the Court
Room. The spectacle was most saddening. There the jailers
allowed the hoary-headed man to sit. The Rev. Mr Leitch,
who had joined the company, was almost bereft of speech, but,
mastering his excitement, gave out the two first stanzas of the
51st Psalm, and as he glanced at the prisoner before commenc-
ing to sing, his heart almost sank, for the old man's teeth were
set hard, and there was a look as black as a thunder cloud on
his face. "Oh let us sing these words!" burst from the
minister's throat, and turning away his head, he sang in a
quivering voice

After Thy loving kindness, Lord,

Have mercy upon me ;
For Thy compassions great, blot out

All mine iniquity.

Me cleanse from sin, and thoroughly wash

From mine iniquity ;
For my transgressions I confess,

My sin I ever see.

But the prisoner's lips were sealed. The executioner now
stepped forward, and said, " This is the last I'll bind you with,"
and as the strap tightened, the old man cried,

" Augh, man, ye needna dae't sae ticht ! I'm no' gaun to
offer ony reseestance! My only wish is that it was a' by."

For the first time he glared at the crowd, endeavoured to
rise, but could not, and from his lips there came a curse. Then
the hangman tried to slip white gloves on his hands, but Mair
hoarsely cried, "Naw! naw!"


An arm chair was procured, and the jailers carried him under
the drop. Just as the hangman was placing the noose round
his neck, Mair cried,

" Let me speak to the crood ! I've something to say to
them. People, wan an' a', listen to me ! I caw upon the hale
company o' ye, great as it is, and mair especially those wha
cam' frae my ain parish, to listen to what I ha'e to say, as I've
no' been gien a single opportunity ever since I was grippit and
ludged in jile to prove that my innocence was as clear as the

noonday sun! The minister o' the parish invented lees

lees against me! He took them to the poopit, brocht them
into his examination, and even brocht them to my
cell efter I was condemned, and upbraided me wi' them!
The constable that took me wudna alloo me to bring awa' ony
papers frae my hoose which micht ha'e spoken in my favour.
The Fiscal and Sheriff in Fa'kirk prevented me frae proving my
innocence. They wudna alloo me to bring witnesses wha could
easily ha'e cleared me frae the crime wi' which I am unjustly
charged, and as unjustly condemned. They wudna even alloo
me to write a bit letter to thae witnesses, and I declare that for
thae reasons I am quite certain that Goad frae heevin' will rain
doon fire and brimstane upon them and destroy them! For
that reason I apply a' that is contained in the hunner an' ninth
psalm against them. Thase Nimmos, thase folks wha leeved
in the east door, and were the richt guilty perties, foreswore
themsel's, and brocht me to the place I am now in, to be
punished as a murderer! Folks, yin an' a', mind I'm nae
murderer ! I ne'er committed murder, and I say it as a deein'
man wha is juist aboot to pass into the presence o' my Goad!
I say again I was condemned by the lees o' the minister, by the
injustice o' a sheriff and fiscal, and by the perjury o' the wit-
nesses. I trust for their conduct that a' thase parties shall be
owertaen by the vengeance o' Goad, and sent into everlasting
damnation ! The witnesses wha spoke against me I curse them
a' wi' the curses in the hunner and ninth psalm. Each an' a'
o' them spoke against me wi' a lying tongue ! They compassed
me aboot wi' words o' hatred, and focht against me withoot a
cause! They ha'e rewarded toe evil for good. Set Thou a
wicked man ower them, and Haud on a wee, hangman, till


I'm dune ! and let Satan staun at their richt hauiv ! Let
their days be few ; let their children be faitherless ; let their

weans be continually vagabonds and

The surging crowd became indignant, and out of angry
throats came the shouts " Dispatch him ! Awa' wi' him !
Got o' the world wi' him!" and the officials, fearing delay
would be dangerous, nodded to the hangman to do his duty.
He drew the white cap over the culprit's face, and as it passed
his mouth the people standing by heard the words " Let them
be clothed in shame! I curse them a', a', a'." The bolt was
drawn, Allan Mair was hanging by the neck. The open-
mouthed crowd were hoarse with cheering ; but the tumult
suddenly ceased. They were awe-struck. The hanged man
had raised his hand to the back of his neck. He had next
seized the rope and was trying to save himself. " Good God!"
cried the people, " he's burst his bands asunder, and means to
save himself!" The hangman drew away the man's hand,
pulled his legs, and amidst a guttural sound from his lips, and
a yell from the excited crowd, Allan Mair's head fell to the
side, and he was dead.



LTHOUGH Stirling has played a by no means un-
important part so far as civic matters are concerned,
we do not propose to chronicle all such events, but
content ourselves with recording the doings attend-
ant upon a few of the more prominent which took place half-a-
ceutury or so ago, and which, on that account, are apt to be

The New Bridge.

The foundation-stone of the New Bridge was laid with much
pride, pomp, and circumstance, with all the usual parade and
formality of masonic honours, and amid the plaudits of thou-
sands of spectators, on the 8th September, 1831. The building
was executed by Mr Mathieson, from a design by Robert
Stevenson, Esq., civil engineer.

Queen's Coronation and Laying of
Foundation Stone of Corn Exchange.

On the 5th July, 1838, the coronation of Her Majesty Queen
Victoria was celebrated, a procession being formed at the
Esplanade, which started amidst a salvo of guns from the Castle
batteries. Proceeding through the principal streets of the
town to the Corn Exchange, the foundation-stone was laid by
Provost Galbraith, copies of " The Stirling Observer " and


" Stirling Journal," with the coins of the realm, being placed
in the cavity. Dinners took place in Gibb's Inn, presided over
by Mr Chrystal, senior; in the Royal Hotel, Mr Steel, Dean
of Guild, presiding ; the Royal Arch Masons dined in Stirling's
Coffee House, Bow Street ; the High Constables in the Eagle
Inn, Captain James Henderson, chairman, and Mr George
Mouat, croupier; and the Provost, Magistrates, and Town
Council in the Guild Hall. Bonfires were lit in Broad Street
and King Street.

The Queen's Visit in 1842.

13th September.

On the occasion of Her Majesty's first visit to Scotland, she
was accompanied by the Prince Consort, and it having been
arranged to include Stirling in the programme of visits on the
way south, every preparation was made to give the Royal
visitors a cordial welcome to the ancient abode of Her
Majesty's ancestors. Believing that a detailed account of the
events connected with Her Majesty's visit will be perused with
interest, we have here reproduced an abridged report of the
proceedings. At every place manifestations of loyalty were
abundant, and as the Royal party approached Stirling it was
seen that the demonstrations were as joyous as they had been
anywhere else.


The inhabitants of Dunblane were not a whit behind their
neighbours in giving proofs of their loyalty and affection to-
wards their young Queen and her Consort. A flag was hoisted
on the top of the Cathedral spire ; a very handsome arch,
erected by Mr Stirling of Kippendavie, at the entrance to
Dunblane ; at the gateway of Holme Hill, the residence of
Mrs Moray, sen., of Abercairney, there was also a very tasteful
arch ; and at Anchorfield several banners were displayed. The
Cathedral bells commenced ringing from an early hour, and


continued at intervals until Her Majesty had entered Stirling-

Along the road by Dunblane and Bridge of Allan, triumphal
arches, flags, &c., were to be seen at every conspicuous spot;
felled trees were planted opposite the doors of cottages, and
evergreens ornamented every door and window. There was
also an arch at St. Blane's Rood, at the entry to Kippenross.
The Royal party drove rapidly past the almost princely
residence of Keir, when, just at the spot where the splendid
scenery of this quarter first opens upon the view, another arch
had been erected with an appropriate inscription, and here Mr
Stirling of Keir, the lord of the manor, at the end of his beauti-
ful avenue, waited on horseback to receive Her Majesty.
Close by were drawn up the people connected with Deanston
Works, to the number of 1,500, almost every second person
carrying a small flag or coloured pennon, the females at one
end of the line and the males at the other, with the band of
the establishment in the centre. Passing these, at the march
of the counties of Perth and Stirling was the Sheriff of Perth-
shire, ready to confide Her Majesty to the care of the Sheriff
and Lieutenancy of Stirlingshire, who were there on horseback
to escort her onwards. Besides Mr Handyside, the Sheriff,
there were present Mr Murray of Polmaise, Vice-Lieutenant ;
Sir Michael Bruce, Bart, of Stenhouse ; Sir Gilbert Stirling,
Bart, of Larbert ; Mr Forbes of Callendar, M.P. ; Mr John-
stone of Alva, Deputy-Lieutenants, in their uniform ; Mr A.
C. Maitland, in the rich full dress of the Queen's Bodyguard;
Sir Henry Seton-Steuart, and many other gentlemen of the

At Bridge of Allan there were three arches one at Philp's
Inn, one at the Toll, and one at the Reading-Room, where was
suspended a gilded bee-hive, with a busy bee with gold body
and silver wings, and the motto, " How doth our good Queen
bee improve each shining hour." When the Royal party came
in sight of Airthrey, the seat of Lord Abercromby, Lord-
Lieutenant of the county, a small battery, which his lordship
had erected upon an eminence within his policy, gave intima-
tion to the longing myriads in Stirling of the approach of Her
Majesty and suite. At Airthrey Lodge there were two fine


arches, one of which, being composed of silver fir, and forty-
five feet high, had a particularly fine effect. Here Lord Aber-
cromby had placed himself to see Her Majesty pass, being
totally unfit for any active exertion. The party then rolled
quickly along by Causewayhead, and when near the Bridge the
cortege stopped and changed horses. At this spot a number

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