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

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it would appear that on more than one occasion they
failed to have sufficient bread for the wants of the
inhabitants, as in 1526 it is recorded that one " Duncan
Darow, dekin of the baxtaris, was fundin in ane fait becaus
the gud toune wanttit bred, and he is to be punist tharfor or
ellis fynd ane faltour." Some months later, Willie Dik, deacon
of the bakers, appeared to have some difficulty in enforcing the
regulation, and was granted the services of one of the town
officers for the purpose of arresting any baker who had less
than 6s. worth of bread in his shop on the afternoon of the
market-day (which, by the way, was Saturday). Willie Dik
also promised the Provost and Bailies that " the twa penny lafe
be 20 mice gud and sufficient stoufe and weil bakin," and that
he would bring defaulters before them in order that they
might be punished. No bread was to be allowed out of the
bakehouse until a bailie and the deacon had weighed and
examined it. " The laiff of quheit breid, of gud and sufficient
stuff," was to be 14 ounces in weight, and sold for 12d., and
as the price of wheat rose or fell, the Council were to regulate
the price of the loaf accordingly. The

Oatcake Bakers

had also their prices fixed for them, as well as the number who
were privileged to engage in the occupation. The cakes were
"to be sufficient stoufe, and hald the woucht,'' and when the
peck of meal is coft at 6d., the penny cake was to be "ane
pund wecht, and sa afferand the woucht of the cake as the
meal is saild." At one time the bread bakers complained that
there were several persons who were not free to dwell nor
trade in the burgh who were disposing of oatcakes, to the
injury of their trade. Oatcakes seem to have been in greater
favour then than now, but the bakers gained their point, and
these parties were prohibited from baking or selling the cakes.
Passing to


Ale Dealers,

we find that no person was to sell ale dearer than 16d. the
gallon, or be fined 7s. A proclamation was made at the Cross
that " na broustar " was to sell ale dearer than 12d. the gallon,
" under the pane of the first fait 8s. unforgivin, the nixt fait,
16s., the third fait the dingin fourcht the calderun bodim,
brekin of the brewin loumes (utensils), and expelin of the
persoun or persouns committeris and brekaris of this statut
brewin for aiie year." On one occasion the Burgh Court found
two women, Marion Norton and Marion Bruce, guilty of break-
ing this statute, and they appear to have been admonished,
and warned that next offence would incur a fine of 40s., pr else
they would " ding out the fat bodim, and deil the brewin at
the cors " that is, knock out the bottom of the vat or cask,
and divide the ale at the Cross. Later, one Margaret Alexan-
der confessed to breaking the law in this respect, and was fined
5. She seems at the same time to have been free with her
tongue, as she was publicly admonished in Council, and warned
that she would be put in the braiiks next time she so offended.
Every brewer was required, as soon as the ale was ready, to
send for the bailie of that part of the town, who, along with
two sworn cunneis (or tasters), tasted the ale, and put upon it
the price at which it was to be sold ; and, should he sell the
ale before this was done he was to be fined 40s.

The Ten o'clock Movement

is no new thing, it would appear, as in 1608 it was ordained
that " na browstare (or ale-house keeper), oystlare, nor ventare
of wymie or meitt, sell ather drink or meitt, nor resaitte ony
person within their housis after the said hour, under the pane
foirsaid." At the same Council meeting, "The provost,
bailies, and counsall of this burgh, haifing consideratioune that
thair is sindrie persones, induellares of this burgh, quha sittis
up, under cloude of nicht, drinking and playing in uther mennis
houssis and disabusing thame selfis, to the offence of God and


evill exemple of nychtbouris; thairfoir it is statut and ordinit
that na person nor personnis, induellaris within this burgh, nor
utheris resorting thairto, tak upoun hand fra this furthe to
sit up drinking or playing or walking on the strettis efter ten
houris at even."

We might cite examples of the regulations affecting other
trades, but must content ourselves with the foregoing.

Offences Against the Person.

As in the present day, drink at the period under notice was
apt to set the tongue loose, one example being that of one
William Duchok, who, for " troubling " a Mrs Cairns, and call-
ing her names, was ordained to " sit down on his knees in plane
court, and ask her forgiveness," at the same time saying his
" tongue had leid on her." On account of his having " been
drunk when he missaid her," he was to drink water 24 hours.

There is a record of several differences having taken place
between men, as, for instance, where " Jamie Moffat, tailor,
was in amerciament of blood and trublance of Sande Duncan,
tailor ; and Sande Duncan was in amerciament for the trub-
lance committit and doune upon Jame Moffat ; " Sande Duncan
being at the same time " in amerciament for the desobaissance
of James Lam, seriand," or officer. But the females crop up
more frequently as offenders. In 1545 one woman was con-
victed of " slandering " another by calling her " a notable thief "
and other names, and the punishment adjudged upon her was
that she was to " stand in irons at the will of the provost and
bailies, then pass to the place where she said the evil word,
and sit down on her knees and ask forgiveness, and say,
Tongue you leid." If she again offended in a similar manner,
she was " to be banished out of the town."

The custom which prevails among rowdy women of the pre-
sent day of pulling each other's hair seems to have been pre-
valent in the times to which we refer, as a report is given of
a woman named Katherine Jack, an ale-house keeper, who,
besides being guilty of " slander and assault " by striking her


servant, Elspeth Mukart, was also charged with " rifing of her
hair and casting her to the earth, and for molesting and troub-
ling her by her evil language, calling her thief and other
names." For this offence she was ordained to " pas to the
merket croce this nixt Settirday (which was market-day at that
period) at x houris and ane quhite wand in hir hand, and ask
Elspet Mukkart forgifnes." Another woman, of the name of
Agnes Henderson, who had been circulating " calumnies " re-
garding a certain Annabell Graham, was ordered " to pas apoii
Sonday nixtocum befoir the procession, sark alane, and ane
walx candill in hir hand, and offer the samyu to the Rude
lycht " (that is, light the candle on the altar of the Holy Rood),
and say to her tongue that it " leid " when it gave utterance
to the slanders she was charged with. She was thereafter to
go to Mrs Graham and ask her forgiveness. Agnes was again
in trouble twelve months afterwards, by maligning Marion
Ray, and was ordered to go and ask her forgiveness, and repeat
the formula, " Toung you leid on hir." At the same court,
this Marion Ray was convicted of " troubling William Cun-
ningame with hir trublus words, and calling Henry Thomson,
Sclaverand Henry, and also trubling Agnes Henderson."
Marion was to " sit down on her knees and ask their forgive-
ness, say, Tongue you leid on them," and thereafter remain
in ward in the tolbooth " with the clasps and calvill of iron
locked iipon her for 24 hours." Two years later, in 1547,
Marion and Agnes had another outbreak, Marion this time
being adjudged the offender, calling the other " thief, land-
lowpar," and other names, besides saying she " suld lay the
pynt stoup on hir cheftis." Marion seems to have been such
a frequent and great offender, that possibly all the customary
punishments had been tried upon her without avail, and it was
therefore ordained " for penitiouii that thair be maid ane
stand and gest furth fro the heid of the tolboitht, with ane
pillie (or pulley), ane tow and ane creile (rope and basket), and
scho be put in the creile and hyng thair during the will of the
provest and baillies."



Offences Against Property.

Turning to thieves, or " pykars," in the volume from which
we have borrowed these extracts, there are not a few reports of
such, as well as of resetting. In 1520 it is stated that at a court
held on 1st October, Jenne Murra was found to be a common
" resettar of pykry." Fergus M'Cummy's wife, "Willie M'Lel-
lan, alias Barker, and his wife were found to be common
" pycaris " or thieves. Marion Cant and Besse Crawfourd were
found to be " common flyttars," or scolds.

Thieves appear to have been pretty sharply dealt with in the
times under notice, and we select several instances which
may serve as examples. " William Browin and James Duncan-
soun, apprehendit with pykrie, ordainit to hafe thair lugis
nalit to the trone, and be banist the toun." Another notorious
thief, named John Fischair, alias Blynk, after confessing to the
stealing of a varied assortment of articles from several places
during the night, was " adjudgit to be nalit his lug to the trone,
and to be cuttit the hale lug, ane merk on his cheik, and to be
scurgit throw the toun and banist furth of the touin and schir,
undir the pain of deid." Another way of marking thieves was
on the cheek by burning. In 1547 the assize found " Jonet
Wrycht ane pykar and apprehendit with saip, lynt and ane
scheit, etc., and ordaiiis to byrne hir cheik and banis hir the
touin." In 1555 a batch of thieves, some of whom had been
previously put out of the town, were convicted of stealing a
web of cloth, and " it wes adjugit that ane lug salbe tane fra ilk
ane of the men and the said Maddyis cheik brunt with the burn-
ing irn ; and thairefter the saidis personis banist the town and
schyre of Striveling, onder the pane of hanging, in all tyme

In 1556, Jonet Donaldsoiie was found to be "a woman of
evill conditionis " and "had committit syndry pykris," and her
husband having apparently previously become surety for her
good behaviour, the judgment agreed upon was that if she
again offended, he was to have " divorce " pronounced against
her, and she was to be banished from the town for ever. At


the same time she took oath not to offend, either by theft or
" pykry," nor wilfully or fraudulently breaking any locks.

One Robe Patonsoun seems to have been a notorious house
or " booth breaker," although it is not stated what sentence
was passed upon him. He was convicted, and afterwards con-
fessed to " the brekin of Agnes Langis bouit, and for the brekin
of Allexander Watson bouit, and the brekin of Thorn Jarva
bouit, and the brekin of William Wyeissis bouit, and the brekin
of Thorn M'Calpyis bouit, and the brekin of William Cossour
sellar, and for the brekin of divers and syndry sellaris and
baeruis, and for the thiftuis steillin of diveris and syndry mer-
chandice and uder stoufe, that is to say, blak clayth, quhit
clayth, lynnyn clayth, holand clayth, hardin, sewin silk, pep-
per, saferin, bartane cammes, woull, yanie, walx, quhit breid,
aiell, flour, bair, benis, salt salmond, salt byief, and dyvers
and syndry uder gair." These he was charged with stealing,
and he further confessed to having stolen " ane coultyr of ane
ploucht, ane kee of ane pyp lok, aiie kee of ane throucht lok
and thre croukit irnis." He further confessed how he had
disposed of the articles.

Capital Punishment.

The extreme penalty of the law was meted out in some cases,
" hanging and drowning " being the modes adopted. We hear
sometimes the expression, hanged for horse-stealing. Here it
is. For " the thyftuis steilling of twa maris out of the laudis
of Corntoun, Ritschart Brown was convicted, and doume was
gifin on him to be hangit quhill he war deid." He at the
same time confessed " that he staw ane mair fra Robe Lam
and ane blak hors out of the Cobiltoun." Robe Murra and
Jame Mur, for having " thiftusly stowin ane gryne clok, ij
syourds, ane sertane of sarkis, courcheis and colaris, vij pair
of schoun, ane pair of hois, and aiie buklar," sentence was
given that they " sould be tane to the Galhous and hangit
quhil tha war deid." Nycoll Harrower, being " accusit of the
thifteous steling of aue blak hors and brekin of our Soverane


Ladyis persoun," he also was ordained to be hanged. Johne
Burn, for the thiftuis steling and conseling of ane brown meir,
perteniug to Marioun Dik, was also ordained to be hanged.
" Gilbert Coltuar, for the thiftuis steling and conseling of ane
meir fra Johne Flyming, and j silver spunis fra Johne Symp-
soun, was adiugit to be tane to gallows and hangit quhill he be
deid." " Marioun Lamb, being takin reid hand with ane
Spanyie cloik of David Nochell, of hir awin fre will oblist hir,
and ever scho war fundin faltand in thift, scho salbe drownit
without other dome or law." Jonet Duche, for theft of wool,
was to be banished the town, and if she ventured in again she
was " to be drownit without further accusatioun."

The last case of theft we shall cite in full, as it deals with
another class, of whom we might have also said a good deal,
that of

Rogues and Vagabonds.

It is as follows : " James Ramsay, creillman, son to John
Ramsay, borne besyde Breichaii, Marion Straittoun, his spows,
Jeilles Leslie, borne in Steanhyve, and John Lyndsay, his son,
borne in Largs, being accusit be John Adamsone, procuratour
fiscal of this burgh, Jeillis Lennox and others, for the thiftous
and wrangous stealling, resetting, and intrometting with and
awaye taking fra the said Geillis Lennox, and others, of cer-
tane of thair guids, geir, in sicht and plenneising, claithes,
pleydes, and utheris, perteining to them, quhairof ane certaine
pairt of the said gear was gotten againe fra sindrie hands as
being sauld be the said creillman his wyffe, of his knawledge
and command, to the saids persouns or layed in pledge to them,
and uther pairt of the said geir was apprehendit and found
with the said creillman and the said Geillis Leslie and hir son
at the time of their apprehensioun ; and the said creillman
ganging throw the countrey lyke ane iydle vagabound with ane
tumbe creill on his bak and nathing fund thairin to sell ; and
the said Geilles Leslie and hir sone haunting and resorting
thair companye and ludging, eating and drinking with them,
wha confessit the bying fra the said creillman and his wyffe twa


cuttis and some yeirne and twa single pleydis, quhilk apper-
autlie was all stollene gear ; and everie ane of the said persouns
ar fund and tryet be their awen confessiouns and thair
depositiouns that they ar common lieris and to varye everie ane
of them fra utheris in their depositiouns, for the quhilk they
aucht to be punishit in thair persouns in exampell of utheris.
Being tried by an assize of fifteen persons, convictis the said
James Ramsay and his spous as idle and sturdye vagaboundis
and common pykeris and evill levaris, and the said Jeillis
Leslie, and John Lindsay, his sone, as iydle vagaboundis and
hanteris and resorteris in the saidis evill cumpanye and societie.
And thairfoir the judges ordanis the said James Ramsay, creill-
man, to be scurgit through the toune to the Barrasyett and
thair brunt on the shoulder; and the said creillmans wyffe
and the uther twa persouns foirsaidis to be exiled and banisht
this burgh and libertie thairof for ever ; and gif ever ony of
the saids persouns be fund agane thairin to be hangit or
drowned, but assyse or dome of law."

We might easily extend this paper by citing numerous in-
teresting items, such as that any " person bringing stoufe to
sell in the town " such as the craftsmen therein dealt in " was to
pay a penny on the mercat day for help of Goddis service to be
done in the parocht Kirk, in honor of God, the blissit Virgin,
Sanct Loye, and all sanctis." This appears to be the begin-
ning of what we know as Burgh Customs.

No inhabitants were to let their houses to vagabonds under
a penalty of 5 ; no swine were to be allowed to go loose about
the town ; no person was to wash clothes in the Town Burn
" within the Barrasyet or aboun, for fylin of the bourn, undir
the pane of viij s, unforgivin and brekin of the weschal that tha
AVOUS with." Later, a certain place was fixed, no clothes or
other things to be washed " abone Robert Patersone's wash
hous, under the pane of v li. and brakin of their tubbes." Ser-
vants were to have their kists unlocked at all times ; no horses
nor kye were to be allowed to pasture in the Kirk yaird ; and
the members of Council were to " keip secreit what sail be
revealit thair."

We might also have spoken of the Pest, and the regulations
regarding it, and the changing of the market-day from Satur-


day to Friday, with a view to the better keeping of the
Sabbath, but will close with a few references to matters relat-
ing to


On 28th November, 1608, " The counsell, convenit, statut
and ordinit that all quhatsumevir persones, duelland within
this burgh or perochine thairof, quha salhappin to be proclamit
for marriage contractit betuix thame, sal mak thair brythellis
and banquetis within this burgh fra this furth; and gif they
falyie, being proclamit within the peroche Kirk of this burgh,
be the miniesteris thairof, and mak thair brythellis outwith
the said burgh, in that cais the pairtie or pairties that sal-
happiu to contravene sail pay to the toun the soume of tuentie
pundis money ; provyding alwayis that this act be onlie ex-
tendit aganes the men and women quha salhappin to be joyned
in marriage baith duelland within this burgh or perochine
thairof ; and gif ony persone duelland within this burgh marie
ane outland woman, in that cais it is statute and ordinite that
it sail nocht be lesum to him to desyre any ma persones
nychtbouris of the said burgh nor tuentie persones, and gif- it
be fund or tryed that he dois in the contrair, in that cais he
sail pey to the toun the soume of ten pundis ; and willis the
Kirk, befoir they grant testimoniall, to tak ane paud thairfoir.
Lykeas, gif ony outland man marry any woman duelland within
this burgh, in that cais the brythell or banquet salbe maid
within this burgh, and gif the woman contravene thairintill,
in that cais sail pey uther xx pundis, and willis that befoir ony
testimoniall be grantit be the minister or redder, or yit that
marriage be solemnizite, that they tak ane pand for the said
soume." That was certainly " keeping oor am fish guts for oor
ain sea-maws."

In view of the prevalence of plague in the burgh, the Coun-
cil prohibited large gatherings of people at marriages, " except
thre or four with ilk pairtie," and ordered that the Kirk
Session be asked to make the same regulation. Blackmailing,
or laying on the prices on the occasion of marriages, was
practised then, as now, and the Council, " Taking to considera-
tioun the abuse used be the nychtbouris and inhabitautis of this


burgh in taking tuelf shilling for a brythell lawing, they have
dischairgit that any nichtbour or inhabitant take moir heir-
eftir for a brythell lawing than sex shilling aucht penneis." 1

Having thus given our readers these glimpses of commercial
and social life in Stirling in the olden time, which we believe
will be considered as of no little interest, we have to say,

In Conclusion,

that in a work of this nature it is exceedingly difficult to know
where to call a halt, and we might have gone on quoting and
narrating at great length. But as that would have extended
the volume beyond the limits we set ourselves, we must rest
content for the present. As others have found, so also has it
been our experience, that a vast field lies to the hand of any
one who feels inclined to make research amongst the historical
or other associations which have gathered around the City of
the Rock, and, in bidding our readers adieu, we trust they
will have at least as much pleasure in the perusal of the fore-
going pages as we have had in their preparation.

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