The History of Clackmannan

This book, written by Clackmannan church minister Dr. T. Crouther Gordon, and published in 1936, covers the history of Clackmannan - once the county town of Clackmannanshire - through to the mid 1930's. It visits several sources, including Kirk session records and statistical account material.

The Rev. T. Crouther Gordon, Ph.D., D.F.C., B.D.
with a foreword by

The Right Honourable


Clackmannanshire, perhaps on account of its diminutive size, has not hitherto attracted the attention of the historian in any great degree.

Yet, as Dr. Crouther Gordon points out, the geographical situation of the county on the estuary of the Forth is such as to have ensured for it a stirring part in the march of history. Not only must the succeeding waves of invasion from north and east have passed over its shores, but the geography of Forth and Clyde afforded a natural northern limit for the Roman invasion from the south, and within a very few miles lie the sites of several of the decisive battles of more modern history.

The story of the Old County Town, therefore, with its ancient stronghold, for centuries a royal dwelling-place, and with its even more ancient associations sacred and pagan, offers a rich mine of information to the industrious investigator. Great credit is due to the author for the thoroughness of his research, and for the way in which he has traced the story of Church and State as they have reacted one on the other and on the fortunes of the place and people. Of special interest is Dr. Gordon’s analysis of the place-name. His verdict on that vexed question is one that carries conviction to the unlearned, and, it may be hoped, will be found equally acceptable by the philological student.

The book is of absorbing interest to everyone with local connections, and amply deserves to fulfil the aspiration of its author, namely, that it may serve as one stone in a wider historical edifice.

Brucefield, September, 1936.


No history of Clackmannan exists, nor has any attempt ever been made to tell the story of the county, and this is a sufficient justification for the appearance of this volume. Before the story of a shire can be written, the well-authenticated history of its county town must first be told, and only when each unit contributes its historical data can the full and real history of Scotland be attempted. These pages, then, constitute a serious attempt to provide the material for a completer history of our country.

A pioneer who enters an uncultivated field of history is faced with the initial difficulty of finding his sources, and in the present instance it has involved tapping every available source of knowledge. A glance at the foot-notes will reveal the authorities used in the compiling of the work, and pains have been taken to see that each statement of fact is documented. The Register of the Great Seal, the Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer, The Scottish Documents in the Records Office, The Exchequer Rolls, The Register of the Privy Council, The Papal Calendars, The Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, have all been laid under contribution, while for the Sheriffdom of the county itself the invaluable brochure of Mr. James Wallace has proved quite indispensable.

The purpose of this preface, however, is to acknowledge the writer’s debt to all who have helped in even the smallest way to the accomplishment of the task. The members of the Historical Department in the Register House, Edinburgh, have proved exceptionally courteous and painstaking, and helped me willingly to discover fresh and valuable data. Mr. Edward Croft Murray of the British Museum traced for me the hitherto unknown sketch of Clackmannan Tower by Farington, and the Director kindly gave his consent to the reproducing of same.

Lord Balfour of Burleigh has shewn great kindness in offering the resources of Kennet library, and in giving wise counsel on various chapters. The Earl of Mar and Kellie also has shewn a stimulating interest in the work as it proceeded by lending me books and discussing details.

Messrs. Millar & Lang Ltd., of Glasgow, have most graciously allowed me to use their artistic reproduction of the Tower. Others whose help has been most valuable are Mrs. Clark of Tower House, and Mr. Alex. R. Syme, J .P., of Erskine House. Most of all, I must say it was the generous and gracious heart of Miss Kate Whitehead of Tower House that opened up the way for the publication of this volume, and without her it could not even have been attempted.

Lastly, my wife is to be thanked for carefully correcting the proofs and preparing the Index, two very tiresome tasks.


The Manse of Clackmannan,
31st October, 1936.


The name of a place is always more than a mere name.
It is not seldom the explanation of a place, sometimes it is a description of a place, and quite often it runs back through the history of the centuries like a lighted torch. The old and authentic place-names were never arbitrary but arose in a perfectly natural way, and this fact is found to throw light on early history and the conditions that obtained in former times. Indeed, a name is often the only link that binds us to a remote past, and fragile and intangible though it be, it reminds us of the unbroken chain that joins the succeeding generations of men. In these days of rapid change, when links with the past are being snapped on every side, it is not a bad thing that the names of places still endure as silver strands that guide us back and illuminate the past.

The name of Clackmannan is too strong and resounding to escape for long the attentions of the linguistic scholar. It has the added importance, moreover, of being not only the name of an ancient and royal town, but of being also the name of a county of Scotland. The name itself, also, has an intriguing look about it, and arouses speculation. Thus Professor W. J. Watson, W. F. Skene, and A. O. Anderson, have all tried to explain the term, and each, it will be seen, has something of value to say. But before dealing with the scholarly side of the question, it is worth while to recall the popular legend on the point. And here, let it be said, legend is not to be taken as a species of falsehood. Genuine local legend has led archaeologists, both in Palestine and at home, to most valuable and confirmatory finds, and so far from being a tissue of lies, it may become, in the hands of a skilful and patient scholar, the very stuff of history.

The local legend, then, is this.
When King Robert the Bruce was residing at the Castle of Clackmannan he went out one day to hunt, presumably, in the famous Forest of Clackmannan, and while out he lost his glove. He sent his famous knight, Sir James Douglas to look for the glove, directing him to the brae on the south side of the town, where at the stone or clach he was to "look aboot" for the glove or mannan. The brae is called to this day “Lookabootye” brae, and the town is called Clackmannan. The stone concerned is said to be the very stone which now surmounts the plinth at the Mercat Cross.

None will deny that the tale is highly original.
How it could have been deliberately invented is difficult to see. The background is historically accurate, for The Bruce did reside in Clackmannan in 1327 A.D., when he issued a charter to Andrew of Moravia, designated “apud Clackmannane,” not to mention other occasions. But what precisely have we to make of it?

There may be no objection to taking the story as the explanation of both the stone and the name Lookabootye, but as showing the origin of the name Clackmannan it breaks down completely. Indeed, as long ago as 1871 it was pointed out that the town had its name many years before the time of The Bruce, and at present we can trace the name as far back as the reign of Malcolm IV. (c.1141-1165), who, while he resided in Clackmannan gave “to the Abbott of Dunfermline and the monastery, the toft e croft in my villa of Clacman . . . (signed) T. Walto, cancell, Ric de moreuill, Randolph de Sut . . . Apud Clacman.” The story fails, therefore, as an explanation of the name of the place, but we shall see later on that it does not fail as an explanation of the stone itself.

There was, however, a different kind of origin adduced among the more cultured savants of the eighteenth and nineteenth century, and this finds expression in the Statistical Account of Scotland, in the chapter on Clackmannan parish, written by the Rev. Dr. Robert Moodie in 1795.
It runs thus:-

“Clackmannan, signifies Kirk Town or village of Annan, from a well-known Gaelic word, and Annand, the original name of the family of Annandale. In the beginning of the 12th century, one of the first of the Bruces who settled in Scotland married Agnes Annand, heir to the Lordship of Annandale; and soon after that period, the Bruces were in possession of Clackmannan: so that there is little doubt of this being the origin of the name.”

In 1842 the Rev. Peter Balfour wrote the second Statistical Account of Clackmannan, in which he simply quotes the words of Dr. Moodie on the origin of the name, adding that the case had been “plausibly stated.” From this We may deduce that Mr. Balfour accepted this explanation of the term, and that it was the recognised one in learned circles.

This solution breaks down, like the former one, under the argument of history.
The Bruces came into England with William the Conqueror, and it was at least two generations later before the marriage with Agnes of Annandale took place. In the meanwhile, the name of Clackmannan appears as we have seen in the twelfth century, in the reign of Alexander III., in the year 1143 and in the year 1195. It is clear that if the name was in use before the Bruces arrived in the district, then they had no connection with its origin.

A greater difficulty confronts this explanation in deriving the term mannan from annand. While the “d” might be a changeable factor that tended to disappear with usage, the addition of the “m” is on philological grounds most unlikely. The “m” is a vital element of the term, as can be seen as far back as the eighth century A.D., when the Annals of Ulster call the district Manau. The theory, therefore, which at first sight seems plausible, becomes so weighted with difficulties that it too breaks down.

The widely accepted explanation, sponsored by modern writers, derives mannan from the ancient name of the district, which lay north and south of the head of the Forth. “The name Clackmannan,” as Day says, “is of Gaelic origin, Clachan signifies the stones, and, being frequently used of the stones which mark a burial ground, it came to signify the church, and finally the kirkton or village. Clackmannan, or Clachan-Mannan, is generally accepted as meaning the stone circle, or village, of the ancient district called Manann, which lay at the head of the Forth estuary. Stirling, and the valleys focussed at Stirling, were the essential parts of the district, which extended towards the hills to boundaries, not precisely known, and probably always indefinite. Slamannan - signifying the moor of Manann - is the name of a village and parish some four miles south of Falkirk. What may be termed the ‘nodality’ of Stirling made it more and more the geographical centre of the district and so the greater part of Manann came to be called Stirlingshire.”

Such a connection is supported by the fact that an almost contemporary Anglo-Saxon historian of the eighth century, in his description of Scotland, states that the district at the head of the Firth of Forth went by the name of Manan. This may be quite true, and yet it only half answers the question at issue, for what we are in search of is the meaning of “mannan,” and this only moves the problem one stage further back. The term must have a quite definite and specific reference at once enlightening and reasonable.

Another and quite serious effort in this direction must be noted, before our conclusion is stated. This was written in 1889, and delivered before the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland by Mr. Peter Miller, F.S.A.(Scot.) :—

"The prefix 'Clack' means a stone. 'Manac', a monk, is Irish, and 'Manach' is Gaelic, so that the meaning of this name-word is simply the 'monk's stone,' or 'the stone of the monks'... When the name was applied to this dun or castle it is impossible to say. It is situated on an eminence or hill of considerable elevation above the level of the Forth and the surrounding country. In all probability in prehistoric times and before the introduction of Christianity into Pictland, this stone may have formed an altar or sacrificial stone, dedicated to some heathen deity, whereat our Pagan ancestors worshipped long before the introduction of Christianity. It is well known that the monks, the apostles of the Christian faith, preached and taught the people at their old altars - the stones or kirks of Pagan times."

The article from which these sentences are taken is the most thorough discussion of the point, but it is vitiated by two improbable assumptions. In the first place, the “manec” occurs but twice out of dozens of occurrences in the ancient charters, and these references are not the earliest.
In the second place, it is almost certain that the name did not start with the visit of the first monks, but goes much further back into Pictish times.
In addition, there must have been a population, to whom the monks preached, and if so the place must have had a name already, but the changing of a name, especially in primitive times when custom and habit counted for so much, was almost unknown.
Nor is there any trace of a monastery at Clackmannan. For these reasons this interesting explanation fails to convince.

Now, so far, there has been unanimity as to the meaning of Clack — it means “stone.” With regard to the second half of the word, the most reasonable suggestion has been that it designated an area of land round the upper reaches of the Forth, and this, we have seen, is on the authority of an eighth century writer. It is necessary to remember, however, that these early tribes tended to identify their gods with their land, for the value of a god was measured by his power to defend his land, and when this name is linked with a stone, a religious meaning of some kind is almost certainly to be imputed. In early times stones were regarded not as gods, but as the places where the god might reside, and thus were sacred, as is evidenced by the Black Stone at Mecca, which is kissed to the present day by pious Moslems. Professor Watson is probably, therefore, on the right track when he states that the name really means the goddess of Manau. This stone was, then, a sacred stone connected with a deity of some kind. As to what kind of divinity Manau was, a happy light is thrown by a recent writer, who derives Clackmannan from “Manannan, who in Celtic mythology was first the sea, and then the sea-god, who drives his chariot over the crested waves.” There is no doubt that the Man in Isle of Man comes from the same source, as does also Dalmeny, and it is obvious that in these the god was connected with the sea. Slamannan, however, like Clackmannan, has no apparent contact with the sea, and yet this does not present difficulty, for we have to remember that in primitive times the land lay much lower than it does to-day, so that the sea must have stretched practically to both these places not so very long ago. Indeed, Geikie says that the land has risen considerably since Roman times, while Sir Charles Lyall estimates it at 25 feet. The sand beaches which lie at present at the foot of the Tower Hill of Clackmannan prove such a contention beyond reasonable doubt.

Another writer, with considerable evidence in his favour, assumes that the present 50 feet contour line on the Ordnance Chart was in Agricola’s time the level of the sea, and on this assumption he can explain several baffling obscurities in Tacitus’ Life of Agricola.

So far as Clackmannan is concerned, two points deserve attention.
The sea was originally nearer the town and the stone was originally nearer the sea. In the time of Thomas Boston, for instance (1696-1699), the water reached half-way across the Carse, for Boston stayed at the ferryman’s house, the site of which is still remembered locally, and in that house he met his wife. At that point, therefore, the water must have been deep enough to float a ferry as late as the seventeenth century. Then the local lore has to be heeded, for it states quite specifically that the stone was brought from the Lookabootye Brae, a detail in the story which would have been very quickly dropped had there not been solid fact behind it, for the tendency of legend would have been to associate the stone rather with the Mercat Cross, where it is at present, rather than with a spot a quarter of a mile distant. The question arises: Why should such value have been placed upon a stone, situated so far from the centre of the county town?

It is answered by two facts.
Firstly, the stone in its original position at the Lookabootye Brae was probably at the verge of the waters of the Forth, for in the Middle Ages we know from ancient charters that the Inch of Ferryton was then an island, and if so, the shore must have lain at the foot of the Brae. This position for the stone agrees with the derivation of its name, Mannan, as coming from the sea-god or sea-goddess. The second fact to be noted is that at the Brae there is a site called Chapelhill, where a well still exists and where traces have been found of the foundations of an ancient building. We know that the pre-Reformation Church of Clackmannan had more than one chapel attached to it, and if Kilbagie was the site of one dedicated to St. Begha, Chapelhill was obviously the position of another. In addition to this, the well-known fact must be recalled that the earliest Christian missionaries selected spots sacred in the pagan religion as suitable places for planting the new faith, thus retaining the hallowed associations, while purifying the old superstitions. Such seems to be what happened at Chapelhill. The black stone, lying near the shore of the Forth, when it resembled an inland lake, was regarded as a dwelling-place of the spirit of the water, a thing to be respected and revered, inspiring the reverence and devotion of the Picts, and then when a missionary, perhaps St. Begha or St.Serf arrived and preached a fresh idea of the Deity the old religious habits of the people influenced the building of a chapel on the same spot, nor did the interest in the old symbol of deity die out, for the stone was for generations, and, indeed, still is, the most jealously guarded possession of the community. If The Bruce had anything important to do with the stone and the name, as the old legend seems to indicate, it was probably the removing of the stone from its place at the Brae to the more central position at the Mercat Cross of Clackmannan.

The origin of the name, then, appears to us to be this.
The old Celtic sea-god became associated with this district in pre-Christian times, because the area was largely under water, and his name Manau was applied to the country around. He was specially associated with this black piece of whinstone, and the stone became an object of worship, under the name of the Stone of Manau. Despite the arrival of Christianity the name persisted in its Celtic form and gave the name Clackmannan not only to the village but to the surrounding country. When the Waters of the Forth had receded to the bed of the river, and the old superstition had died, the stone was removed to a more central position in the town, thus symbolising more dramatically the origin of the name.

Such an explanation places the most competent modern authorities in the right. It allows for J. P. Day’s explanation, which is the same as that of the authority who writes in the volume of the Ancient Monuments Commission, namely that the name was that of a district of the upper Forth, although the latter writer makes the grave error of mistaking the upright pillar of ‘whinstone for the Clack-mannan, when it is really the top stone that is original. Our view places also Prof. Watson and Dr. Frank Knight in the right, for it traces the name a stage further back in history to the name of the god.

And thus Clackmannan got its name.


If the earth has been evolving for millions of years, and if man is but a late arrival on the scene, we have no means of knowing the early story of the world. When those mighty glacial changes took place, which shaped our mountains, rivers and valleys, no human beings were present to write down what they saw, and so we are very ignorant of what the world was like at the beginning. Scientists have set themselves the gigantic task of finding out the early condition of things, and with infinite patience and Wonderful penetration, they have made the rocks tell us what books could never do. The rocks, rightly understood, can tell how the climate changed from intense cold to intense heat, and they prove that the sea at one time reached far up the highest mountains. Fossils of fishes, found in a rocky mountain side, indicate how high the sea must have come in the days of long ago. What has been made clear by the geologist is that changes were continually taking place in the surface of the earth, but it is equally clear that so far as Scotland is concerned these changes were not cataclysmic but slow and gradual. Indeed, no one doubts, in the light of modern knowledge, that each of these changes took thousands of years to effect, and in point of fact, changes are still being effected before our eyes, only with such slowness that we short-lived creatures cannot perceive them. Three great periods have been distinguished by scientists, the Palaeozoic Age, when life was in its earliest forms, the Mesozoic Age, when reptile life abounded on the earth, and the Cainozoic Age, when life became more complicated and advanced. Although Scotland can boast high mountains, this is due not so much to direct volcanic action as to the influence of the weather and of nature, which has disintegrated the strata of rocks, and so the much harder rocks, created by eruptions of the earth, have remained bold and upstanding to form what we call hills and mountains. The valley of the Forth and Clyde was in the old Red Sandstone times completely covered with water, but through this water, from the interior of the earth came quantities of lava, which formed layers on the surface of the earth, and so formed the Sidlaws, the Pentlands and the Ochils. This process caused a geological fault along the line of the Menstrie to Dollar road, for the igneous or volcanic Ochils come to an abrupt and steep stop just there, while the different type of rocks that abutt on them are displaced, the displacement such as it is going down to a depth of 10,000 feet. It is due to this fault being where it is, that the soil around Clackmannan is what it is, and that the coal is so plentiful and so accessible. This great fracture in the crust of the earth has had a far-reaching influence on the history of Clackmannan.

Now, just before man appeared the whole of Britain was under a great sheet of ice, much as the Polar regions are at present, and this ice worked its way steadily southwards, taking with it a great amount of earth and gravel and smoothing much of the volcanic rock in its progress. Eventually, under changed climatic conditions, the great mass of ice slowly melted, leaving beneath it the vast deposits of soil and other material it had been carrying with it, and it is this soil which to-day covers the rocks of Clackmannan. As a result of this Glacial Period we find great cavities hollowed out on quite high altitudes and in lower altitudes great drifts of gravel, sand and bog. With the advent of man and his agricultural implements, the bogs have been drained and so disappeared, with sometimes only a name left behind, as for instance in Bogside, on the outskirt of the parish of Clackmannan. It was probably one of these minor glaciers, which on its southward course, hollowed out the valley of the Black Devon, or the “Litil Dovan” as it is called in the old charters.

Once the Glacial Period was over, the climate and general physical conditions allowed of the development of higher life, and anthropoids were able to sustain themselves and multiply. These earliest forerunners of mankind, belonging to the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age, have left many traces of their existence in the countries of Europe and Asia, in the form of sharp knives, flaked from flint cores, and in certain instances we possess skulls, fossilised as in the case of the Galilee Skull, which indicate the precise shape and cast of the heads of these early ancestors. Although the writer has himself discovered thousands of such knives in a Palestinian Cave, dating to 20,000 years B.C., yet curiously enough not a single evidence has been left in Scotland of Paleolithic Man. Neither bone, nor skull, nor flint found here can be accurately dated as of that period, and this has led to the generally accepted opinion that the men of that Age did not inhabit Scotland.

The remains, which archaeologists have come upon, belong to the Neolithic or New Stone Age, and these consist of cairns for the burial of the dead, containing skeletons, urns, vessels, axe-heads and arrow-heads. These Neoliths are calculated to have lived about 5,000 years ago. It will be seen that the amount of material available for the reconstruction of that period is quite considerable. These cairns, for instance, shew that the men of that day understood the technique of building with stones, and they had faced the problem of how to roof a building and solved it. Such cairns, found from Galloway in the south to Orkney in the north, were composed of one and sometimes two chambers, with a well-constructed passage at the entrance. From the contents of the graves it is clear that they held definite religious views about the future life. From the round-bottomed urns, characteristic of the period, and from the skilfully artistic flaking of the flint arrow-heads, we can be certain that this people lived a comparatively leisured life and that the aesthetic gift was highly developed. With their short sturdy build, and long, narrow skulls they must have resembled the dark-haired people of Wales and the Scottish Highlands. They sustained themselves in their small communities, chiefly by hunting and fishing, so that the Ochils and the Forest of Clackmannan, and the Forth and Devon rivers must have been the rendezvous of a considerable Neolithic population.

These people, however, were gradually forced to retire into the fastnesses of the hills before the arrival of another race, more advanced in culture and civilisation. It is contended, by Prof. Bryce for instance,[in Sepulchral Remains of Arran] that the new arrivals were immigrants, who found their way to Scotland from the Continent across the North Sea. They were short in stature, like the Neoliths, but were round-headed rather than long-headed, and dark in appearance. They had a distinct advantage over their predecessors in that they had secured the secret for bronze, and with this they were able to develop industry, and particularly agriculture. They were skilful in the making of urns, and one reason for believing that they came from the Continent is that the beaker urn, so often found in their remains in Scotland, can be traced to Central Europe. They continued to use cairns for burials, but at times they burned their dead, and in addition they possessed and used gold, jet, and amber. A highly developed sense of beauty can be proved from their swords, spears and daggers, not to mention the work of the smith, carpenter and goldsmith. Their most distinct gift to posterity is the circle of standing stones to be found all over Scotland. The finest sample is at Stennes, in Orkney. What the precise purpose of these circles was, has never been clearly proved, but it would be strange if both religion and death were not closely connected with them.

But the people who used bronze had themselves to give way before a fresh invasion, which took place not long before the Christian Era. The immigrants were Celts, and they were able to maintain themselves as masters of the land not only into the Roman period in Scotland, but also into medieval and modern times. Indeed, it has been estimated that 80 per cent. of the population of Scotland is at the present day Celtic. The Celts lived in lake dwellings, developing the uses of the canoe. When they did settle on dry ground they constructed those brochs, which evolved later into the round towers, erected as a defence against the Norsemen. Their houses were made of earth, achieving thus a greater measure of comfort. They exhibited also an advance in art and culture, for whereas the men of the Bronze Age had carried out their finer work in straight lines, these men introduced spiral curves, being able in the making of armlets to introduce the form of the coiled serpent. They frequently represented animals on their articles of craftsmanship, and bronze hand mirrors have been found alongside definitely Roman pieces of work. Some of these men, therefore, must have witnessed the march of Agricola, the construction of the great wall of Lollius Urbicus in 150 A.D., and fought for or against the great Roman legions.

These Celts, however, were not left in undisputed possession of Scotland, for a second immigration took place, and this time it was a wave of Celts who belonged to the Gaelic-speaking branch of the race. They came to be known as the Britonnic Celts, and so strong and aggressive were they that they were able to push the previous occupants of the land into the North and West, and they compelled such as remained to do their servile work. The Picts, the typical inhabitants of the Highlands, may be taken as a branch of the Celts. Indeed, the study of these racial movements confirms the view that Scotland, like Britain as a whole, has been always subject to waves of invasion from the East in historic and prehistoric times. The Celts, the Danes, the Anglo-Saxons, the Norsemen, and even in a minor degree the Flemings in the reign of David I., have all come from the East, and this may be taken as the explanation of the great difference between East Coast and West Coast people in Scotland to-day. It is reasonable to suppose that the characteristics of the people of Clackmannan will have more affinity with the staid and phlegmatic Norseman and Dane than with the volatile and enthusiastic Celt.

The area around Clackmannan was, in those days, peculiarly well suited to men of the Iron Age. The rich Carse, which nowadays produces fields of waving golden grain, was without doubt at that time lying under the waters of the Forth, but the water was not so deep as to prevent the building of lake villages. It is worthy of note that one of the farms on the Carse is called to the present day “The Inch,” that is “The Island.” Such a community would also be protected from sudden attack by the nearness of the Tower Hill of Clackmannan, which commands the finest view of the surrounding country. A guard stationed on the top of this strategic knoll could give many hours’ warning of the approaching enemy. Without question it is this hill which has dominated the entire history of the town. It drew to its high security those early dwellers who sought freedom from sudden assault. It attracted the first messengers of the Christian faith, and because of its commanding site it was chosen as a place of worship by both the Celtic and the Roman Churches. It was made a royal residence for more than two centuries, simply because of its high and secure position, so that the king, with a chain of strong places about him in Sauchie Tower, Tulliallan Castle, Alloa Tower and Airth Tower was practically impregnable. With such a regal stronghold crowning the eminence, men and women gathered round its doors and formed the typical medieval burgh, for help was always at hand in the hour of need, and protection was waiting behind the gates of the king’s castle. And so new meaning came into the Words of the old faith, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.”

If the old Celtic Picts never used these words, their thoughts were the same when they saw the ships of Agricola in the Forth.


From times when men as yet were unskilled in the recording of their deeds, we pass as with a single stride to the age of written history and cultured literature. While the natives of Scotland were struggling against nature to extort sustenance from an unwilling soil, and shrinking from the tempest behind comfortless walls, the sons of the Mediterranean basin had awakened to the beauty and the joy of life, and seizing the reigns of power and conquest, had not only imposed their will upon the world, but had made Europe contribute to their luxury and culture. At the very time when the Celtic Picts were fashioning implements and adorning spears, the élite of Rome were fashioning phrases and adorning spas. The grandeur that was Rome was felt in Britain, and men are still discovering evidences of the time, when legions from Italy and the Rhine tramped the long lanes of England, or stood on guard at one of the chains of forts, which kept the Caledonians at bay.

The Roman occupation of this island has left an ineffaceable mark upon the institutions and roadways, not to mention points of great strategic importance. The names of places alone are proof of this. And yet if there is one fact more than another about which scholars and archaeologists are unanimous, it is that this mighty influence never passed beyond the line of the Forth and Clyde. It is true that between Hadrian’s Wall and Agricola’s Wall the grip of Rome was neither so prolonged nor so firm as in southern parts, but it was there and it has left its mark, while north of the Forth the country remained as if the name of Rome had never stirred a soldier's breast.

It would seem, then, that we may not look for much historical material, bearing upon the Roman influence upon a place like Clackmannan. It is too much to expect that, when so much of Latin history and literature has been lost, references to this obscure spot should have been preserved. And yet this ancient point of vantage overlooks the Forth towards the south, and commands a view of the very land where Lollius Urbicus built his fortifications, and looks right across to Camelon, the most important of Roman camps.

Now, the excavations at Camelon have revealed the interesting fact that even before the Romans held it, this was the site of a strong Pictish fort, so that the full credit of the military eye must go to the vanquished and not to the victor. And yet the remains at Camelon make it plain beyond all doubting that this was one of the key positions on the line of the Forth and Clyde, and being the last of the chain of forts was also the strongest. The real interest centres round the generalship of Agricola, and for this our one source of information is the Life of Tacitus, his son-in-law. The topography of Tacitus might be called the battlefield of classical literature, for each scholar has read him in his own way and made his “Camelodunum” fit his own little pet theory. The usual view has been that Tacitus knew next to nothing about Scotland, and his descriptions cannot be made to fit the Scotland that we know.

One fact is admitted by all, that the Bodotria mentioned by Tacitus is the arm of the sea, which we know as the Forth. But, of course, it was a very much different Forth from the one we know to-day. Camelon was then on the edge of the waters of the Forth and was a Roman sea-port. It is worth remembering that in 1560 A.D. an anchor was dug up at Carron. Agricola, in the sixth year of his office, launched a fleet of ships against the “tribes beyond Bodotria,” and these, scouring the Fife and Clackmannan coast-line, worked hand in hand with the army. If Agricola’s centre was Camelon, and he desired to reach the heart of Caledonia, his most obvious point of disembarkation would be the creek or inlet of Clackmannan. In those days, when the waters of the Forth were from 25 to 50 feet higher than to-day, this would have been situated behind the Tower Hill, where the bed of the Black Devon lies. "He then marched along an old road from Clackmannan, round the head of the Devon fjord, via the old Fossoway and across the Ochils, down another ancient but well-known road, which even to-day retains the name then conferred on it, the Glen of the Eagles." If the old name of Fife, Rossia or Rossa can be identified with the Boresti of Tacitus, it is clear that Agricola brought his troops back after the Battle of Mons Grampius to some point not very far from the Clackmannan Inlet. Boece says that “even the Fifeshire (Clackmannan) lassies derided and mocked the soldiers of Rome, on their return from this victory, for which Agricola took hostages to secure re-embarkation,” but of course, Boece must be taken with a grain of salt.

A good case can be made out, however, for Agricola’s landing under the shelter of the hill of Clackmannan, and it is no mere fable that the inhabitants of the place may have seen the Roman Eagle moving steadily up the valley of the Devon, and their hearts have thrilled to the march of the men that moved the world. Not many days passed, and the legions reappeared, eager to retreat to their winter quarters, half-doubting their vaunted victory.

And so passed the pageant of Rome.

The next figure that crosses the scene is no Roman general, with his clattering chariots, but a solitary Christian saint. For six centuries have passed since Agricola governed the land, and many changes have taken place. The land has risen and the sea has retreated some distance from the foot of the Tower Hill. Constant communication and commerce flows between both sides of the Forth. Men are better clothed and better housed. The old Druidical faith is dying, and the better spirits are looking for a fresh religion. They hear whispers of simple, homeless men, who wander the country, talking of a God called Christ, and they know that many in the West have accepted the new faith. They are curious, for hearsay tells them how these apostles of the new religion go about without weapons and without homes, proclaiming the superiority of their God. Then one day about 650 A.D. a woman appears in the district and tells them about this marvellous Jesus, about his miracles and his resurrection.

She is no common woman this.

Her very features tell of an aristocratic birth, for she is indeed the daughter of an Irish prince. Suffering is marked on her brow, for, unhappy in her human love, she endured hardships and wanderings rather than give her hand - where her heart was not - to the son of the King of Norway. After a rough voyage across the North Sea, she put herself under the care of the kindly St. Aidan, and he gave her a colony of nuns for her charge. This work she executed for a time, but her restless spirit drove her forth to spread her religion, and so leaving her charge to St. Hilda, she planted holy chapels in England and the south of Scotland. After founding one at Kirkby-Bega or St. Bees in Cumberland, she came at last to a little burn on the edge of the barony of Clackmannan, and there planted a little Christian sanctuary, which down through the centuries has come to be known as Kilbagie, or the Wood of St. Begha. Kilbagie has become famous for many things, as the source of the best Scotch whisky, as the birth-place of the first threshing mill, and now as a great paper-producing centre, but before all these it must rank as the sacred spot where the beacon light of the new faith was first lit, for it was there that the brave and gentle lady of Christ St. Begha held forth the word of life.*

* See Dr. Frank Knight's Archaeological Light on the Early Christianising of Scotland. Vol. 11., p. 118.

But this lovely picture of peace and faith is only an interlude in the bloody centuries. If we are right in piecing together the scattered fragments of history, the Plain of Mano was the scene of a terrible fight just about 60 years after the preaching of the pious saint. At this time the Saxons were finding their way across the rough waters of the North Sea, and probably under racial pressure from the Continent, came plundering the coasts of Scotland. An estuary like the Forth was an opening not to be missed, and so the Picts and the Saxons came into continual conflict. But the Saxons were a strong and daring people and it called for all the forces of Prince and tribe to repel the attacks. In the year 710 A.D. an Anglo-Saxon chronicle tells how one of the leading men, an alderman called Bertfrid, fought a battle against the Picts, between Avon and Carron. The south side of the Forth appears to have been a spot where invader and native came to grips, and we may safely assume that the place lying between the Avon and the Carron was but a short distance from the waters of the Forth, for the Picts were wise enough not to allow the enemy time or space to entrench himself or choose his battle ground. It is significant that the chronicler does not venture to connect the name of the battlefield with Mano, although Slamannan was not far away.

It is incredible that the north side of the river escaped the ravages of the Anglo-Saxons. Such wild, unscrupulous raiders were not likely to draw a line where their expeditions were to stop, and curiously enough there is preserved in the pages of the Annals of Ulster a compact statement, regarding a fight that took place in the year 711 A.D. in the plain of Mano:-

“A slaughter of the Picts in the Plain of Mano (was made) by the Saxons, and there Finguine, son of Deleroith, fell by premature death.”*

* Early Sources of Scottish History. Vol. 1, p. 213.

The vital point here is the position of “the plain of Mano.” Skene made the mistake of supposing that it must lie between the two rivers named on the south side of the Forth, but it has been pointed out that Mano or Manau extended very much further than this. Indeed, if geographical boundaries count for anything, the true centre of Mano must have been on the north side, or the shire of the name could never have arisen, where in fact it has arisen. This is conceded by A.O. Anderson, who states that “Mano is Clackmannanshire with an extension south of the Forth,” and if so, then the plain must lie not far from the centre of Mano, that is on the north side. Such a plain can still be distinguished, running from a point a little north of the Tower Hill towards and beyond where Alloa now stands, and if the Saxons came in their ships up "the creek of the Black Devon, as the Romans did before them, they would naturally disembark at one end of this very plain.

This contention is confirmed by what has been found on this comparatively level ground. A stone standing 8 feet 3 inches high can be seen still in the grounds of Alloa Park, some 150 yards south of the Alloa to Clackmannan Road. The local legend, which is not necessarily wrong, is that this was the site of a Pictish battle, and certainly about 1770, while digging in a ditch nearby, many human remains were found. Here is what Dr. Daniel Wilson writes of it:-

"On a rising ground about half a mile to the east of the town of Alloa, called Hawkhill, is a large upright block of sandstone, sculptured with a cross. It measures ten and a quarter feet in height, though little more than seven feet are visible above ground. A similar cross is cut on both sides, as is not uncommon with such simple memorials. During the progress of agricultural operations in the immediate vicinity of the ancient cross, in the spring of 1829, Mr. Robert Bald, C.E., an intelligent Scottish antiquary, obtained permission from the Earl of Mar to make some excavations around it, when about 9 feet north of the monumental stone a rude cist was found, constructed of unhewn sandstone, measuring only 3 feet in length, and at each end of the cover, on the under side, a simple cross was cut. The lines which formed the crosses were not rudely executed, but straight and uniform, and evidently finished with care, though the slab itself was unusually rude and amorphous. The cist lay east and West, and contained nothing but human bones greatly decayed . . . . Here we possess a singularly interesting example of the union of Christian and Pagan sepulchral rites: the cist lay east and west according to the early Christian custom, yet constructed of the old circumscribed dimensions, and of the rude but durable materials in use for ages before the new faith had superseded the aboriginal Pagan creeds."

If We accept the general statement that by 650 A.D. Scotland had been more or less evangelised, and remembering, in any case, that St. Begha had passed this way in that same period, then the Picts who fell in the battle of 711 A.D. were just passing out of the old religion into Christianity, and so the union of Christian and Pagan rites in the burial is happily explained. Another writer, unaware of the extract given above from the Annals of Ulster, has laboured to show that some royal personage, a Pict of the name of Brude residing in the old royal castle of Clackmannan, fell and was buried, where the stone stands. Now, the old chronicle confirms Mr. Peter Miller’s accurate conjecture, for though the name Finguine may not be identified with Brude, nor even with the name Gaberston, the youth was obviously high-born if not actually of royal lineage.

By the evidence of the Ulster Annals, therefore, by the proximity of Clackmannan Castle as a place of defence, by the local legend, and by the actual remains and Stone at Hawkhill, it is as historically certain as we have a right to expect, that in 711 A.D. a bloody battle took place near the stone between the Picts and the Anglo-Saxons, and in the prime of life young Finguine, the son of Deleroith, fell amid the slaughter. There, too, on the scene of his last - perhaps also his first - fight, he was buried with Christian rites.

There - in the twilight - where the cattle
Are lowing home across the fields,
The beaten warriors left the battle
Dead on the clansmen’s wicker shields.
Darkness follows that twilight.
The blanket of night falls on the scene.
Castle and chapel are lost to human ken.

And yet the grief in the heart of Deleroith had still its edge, when another messenger of the Cross arrived, blazing afresh the trail for his Master. St. Serf (c.750), whose centre of operations was at Culross, awakened the hearts of men around the valley of the Devon, and planted churches and chapels to keep awake the flame of faith. One great distinction between the Celtic Church and that of Rome was that the former dedicated churches to living saints while the latter dedicated churches only to dead saints. The dedication of such churches as those at Alva, Tullibody, Tillicoultry, and Clackmannan to St. Serf may be taken as an indication that the saint himself visited those places, and the dedication goes back to the period of his life. In any case, it may be roundly stated that so far as Clackmannan itself is concerned, its real Christian life began with him, and he almost certainly chose the site, where the present noble edifice stands, as the place for his church. If so, we must conclude that he had a remarkably good eye for position, since the commanding eminence and structure may be seen for miles north and south. It can hardly be that the site of the sacred spot has changed in the centuries, for the churchyard has surrounded it from old times, and we know that at Culross the same saint is mentioned as founding not only a church but also a cemetery. A man of God with such a powerful personality as St. Serf undoubtedly had, could not have failed to see the strategic religious position held by the village of Clackmannan, and he knew well the words of his Master, that “a city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.”

What change was effected by the coming of St. Serf?
Did he weave a magic wand and all was different?

“The process of Christian leavening,” says Professor Mackinnon, “Was very slow and imperfect. Nevertheless, the change from Paganism to Christianity provided the moral and spiritual conditions of social progress, and was the beginning of a real advance in civilisation. The Christian civilisation thus planted throughout the land was Celtic in character, and this character it retained down to the days of Queen Margaret in the second half of the eleventh century. The Celtic Church of Pictland ultimately, in the beginning of the eighth century, adopted the Roman usages in the matter of the celebration of Easter and the tonsure over which Celt and Saxon had disputed so tenaciously in the second half of the seventh. By the middle of the ninth it appears to have adopted the episcopal system of government.”

It must have been about the middle of the ninth century, when royalty became identified with this region, for if we combine the name Kennet with the Royal Park, the Royal Rock, the Royal Seat, and the Royal Castle, we are forced back at least to Kenneth, son of Alpin (834-854), if not further. It is curious and interesting that as late as the year 1696 the saintly and scholarly Thomas Boston calls it Kenneth, and not Kennet. It appears that the nearness of Clackmannan forest, with its fine hunting facilities, and the safe defence of the castle, made the place very attractive to one of Kenneth’s calibre. Certainly, the people around the castle must have looked on many a hunting scene, and not a few taken part in the chase. If there was not much of regal splendour about the king’s entourage, they were seeing a shade more of court life than probably any other villagers in Scotland. If we want to know just what they saw, some sentences of Dr. Anderson will tell us:-

“We learn from a comparison of all the different representations, that the horsemen of that period rode without spurs or stirrups, cropped the manes and tails of their horses, used snaffle bridles with check rings and ornamental rosettes, and sat upon peaked saddle-cloths; that, when journeying on horseback, armed, they wore a kilt-like dress, falling below mid-thigh, and a plaid across the shoulders; that they used long-bows in war and cross-bows in hunting; that their swords were long, broad-bladed, double-edged, obtusely pointed weapons, with triangular pommels and straight guards; that their spears had long lozenge-shaped heads, while their bucklers were round and furnished with bosses; that when journeying on foot, they wore trews or tight-fitting nether garments and a plaid loosely wrapped round the body, or a tight jerkin with sleeves and belt around the waist; that they wore their hair long, flowing and curly, sometimes with peaked beards, at other times with moustaches and shaven cheeks and chin; that they used covered chariots or two-wheeled carriages, with poles for draught by two horses, the driver sitting on a seat over the pole, the wheels having ornamental spokes; that they used chairs with side arms and high curved backs, sometimes ornamented with heads of animals; that their boats had high prows and stern posts; that the long dresses of the ecclesiastics were richly embroidered; that they walked in loose, short boots, and carried croziers and book satchels.”*

* Scotland in Early Christian Times (1881).

To the end of the first millennium these were the ways and the habits of the Scot, but before long solid castles were to arise, at once the refuge and the terror of the people, and mighty barons were to hold courts that vied with royalty in splendour. And so, when the thousand years were told, a new world was waiting to be born.


The first mention of the name of Clackmannan in an authentic historical document occurs in a charter granted by Malcolm Fourth (c.1141-1165) to the Abbot and Monastery of Dunfermline, giving to them “the toft e croft in my town of Clacman.” No precise date is attached to this valuable document, but “apud Clacman” is written on it. From this it is clear that the town on the hill was a royal residence of the kings of Scotland, and that Malcolm actually did live there. These ancient charters were issued only by the king, and he must have been personally present at the spot whence the charter was issued. The expression “my town,” also, makes it clear that the dwellings on the hill belonged to the king, and that he regarded it as one of his own personal residences. That Malcolm possessed more than the King’s Seat Hill, the site of the Castle, is proved by the fact that at some time during his reign he gifted the mill (molendinum) of Clackmannan to Cambuskenneth Abbey. This mill was worth ten merks per year, and was probably gifted with a view to maintaining a vicar at the church of Clackmannan, for ten merks, according to Coulton, was the cost of maintaining such a cleric. At any rate the mill, which was probably situated on the Black Devon at or near What is now known as Parkmill (the King's Park Mill), was gifted to this Abbey, and so a lucrative and powerful weapon was placed in the hands of the Church. It must be remembered that in medieval times a mill was exceedingly valuable property, because the owner compelled all his tenants to bring their grain to his mill, and to no other. The burgesses of Paisley, for instance, were bound to bring all their corn to the Abbey Mill, and so were “thirled” to it. Those who took their corn to another mill were forced to pay a fine of 100s. The mill gifted by Malcolm to Cambuskenneth was one that he built for his own needs, while residing in Clackmannan, and of course it would continue to grind the royal corn during the whole period when the place was a royal residence. This is clearly indicated by a charter of Alexander III. (1241-1285) giving to Cambuskenneth “our mill of Clacmannan, 10 merks each year,” which points to the fact that the Abbey simply took the revenue, leaving the mill to be managed by others.

It is easy to see why Malcolm chose this hill-town as a royal residence.
Living the chequered and dangerous life he did, his first requisite was a place where he would be immune from sudden attack. The crown of the hill commands a panoramic view of the countryside for miles around, and the “Litil Dovan,” as it was called, provides a defence against attackers from the West. To the North and East stretched the stately and royal Forest of Clackmannan, convenient for the erection of strong buildings and the providing of fuel. The salt-pans at Kennet were close at hand, and salmon from the Forth could be laid daily on the royal table. Here then was a site pre-eminently fitted to be the home of kings and princes.

Malcolm, of course, could not risk living in an undefended house. Indeed, his first duty was to construct a strongly defended area, where the people of the town, in times of alarm, might gather and live in comparative safety. Indeed, it was just because of the security afforded by the castle that the town or burgh rose near it. And so it is still possible for the eye to trace the area on the top of the King’s Seat Hill, which was barricaded and strengthened to act as the royal castle of Clackmannan.

It was a very different castle that stood there in the time of Malcolm from what stands there to-day. Indeed, the castle as a feature of Scottish life, “came over with the Conqueror in 1066.”*

* The Medieval Castle in Scotland, W. Mackay Mackenzie, Ch. 1.

It is the special characteristic of the middle ages, the inevitable result of the feudal system. This earlier type of castle was built not of stone, but of earth and timber, and goes by the name of the “Mote and Bailey ” castle. Now, there can be no doubt that the first castle of Clackmannan was of this kind, because until the War of Independence no other kind of castle was known. Indeed, the Bruces constructed every one of their castles in Annandale of earth and timber. “Till the War of Independence most of the Scottish gentry were housed in castles of timber, and a steadily decreasing number of them through more than a century thereafter.” According to the “Romance of Fergus,” which is the only contemporary description of a Scottish castle of the late twelfth or early thirteenth century, it was constructed of hurdles, probably of wattle and clay. “On the highest part of the rock was a tower, which was not made of stone and lime, but of clay alone, without battlements and crenellations.” It is quite certain that the castle occupied a height, either natural or artificially made; round this mound a deep ditch was dug, and higher up on the crest of the hill squared timbers were built, while wooden towers as shelters and look-outs were placed nearby and inside this stockade. Overlooking all, and well within the barricade was built the main wooden house or citadel, the last refuge in time of siege. In size and form the old “Mote and Bailey” castle would strike one as resembling a modern battleship, the wooden towers comparing with the gun-turrets, and the main citadel comparing with the main control-tower. And though made only of wood, it would look just as formidable to the people of that day, as a battleship does to us.

Such, then, was the kind of place that Malcolm and his successors inhabited until the 14th century, and it was round this “Mote and Bailey” castle that the life of the country revolved. Under its shelter lived the common folks and serfs, and if the king was himself not in residence his sheriff acted as his military agent, the collector of the royal revenues, and the King’s Deputy. Indeed, “the office (of Sheriff) was rooted in the royal castle.” “The fact that so many of our shires derive their name from the principal town, in which town was the royal castle, with the sheriff as keeper, is another corollary from the same relationship.“ At such an early time the industry and commerce of the country was but poorly developed, and yet, under the safe protection of the Crown, buying and selling was done, and thus there began, under the shadow of Clackmannan Castle, the annual fair, which came to be called St. Bartholomew's Fair. In medieval times the market or fair was an event of vital importance, and the monopoly of it was highly coveted. Indeed, as we shall see later, it came to be a matter of acute controversy. But the burgh of Clackmannan arose, like other burghs, because all buying and selling in the district had to be carried through under the eyes of its strong place of defence, and the authority for holding such a market carried with it no little profit and power.

The economic condition of the district must have undergone some change between the time of Malcolm Fourth and Alexander Third (1241-1285), because the latter king seems to have withdrawn “the mill of Clacmannan” from the possession of Cambuskenneth Abbey, giving in exchange a payment of ten merks each year. Perhaps the mill was not being efficiently worked, perhaps it placed too much power in the hands of the church, or perhaps the church preferred the money to the labour and worry of working the mill. We do know that the payment of ten merks was sufficient to maintain a curate in the parish, and that there was a curate in Clackmannan about that time is proved by a deed of gift of the church of Kirkintilloch by W., son of Thoraldi, the sheriff of Stirling, for the witness to this deed was R(obert), curate of Clackmannan. It should not be forgotten that, while the curate was supplied probably from the Abbey, the whole tone and temper of the church was Celtic and not Roman. The religion derived from Iona and not from Rome, which meant that its genius was native, its learning was richer, and its art was original and beautiful. Not till 1249 A.D. was the church of Clackmannan dedicated by a Roman Bishop. and before that date it was definitely a Culdee or Celtic establishment.

The halcyon days for the Church, however, had begun when David came to the throne. Aided and encouraged by Margaret, this pious monarch endowed the various religious houses throughout the country, and did more than any other single person to complete the Romanization of the Celtic Church. It should not be forgotten that three great streams of influence were running through Scottish life at this period. Feudalism as a great economic system was brought over by William the Conqueror in 1066 A.D., for he “parcelled out the land he had conquered to barons or tenants, all owing allegiance to him personally.” Gradually the great nobles arose, each with followers, who likewise owed them allegiance, and so there evolved the inevitable lowest class, who went by the name and shared the life of serfs or slaves. It is curious that in the history of Clackmannan the evidence should be so clear as to the existence of serfs, for there exists a charter in which David I. greets his bishops, earls, sheriffs, servants, “and gilleserfis of Clackmannan.” Prof. Watson says, “the exact position held by these ‘servants of St. Serf’ is not clear, beyond that they had an interest in the subject of the grant - the common of the wood of Clackmannan.” These seem to have been men in religious orders of some kind, and since St. Serf is the patron saint of the whole district, they may have resolved themselves into a kind of brotherhood, cherishing a life and status of their own, just as did the Roman followers of St. Benedict and St. Francis. They appear, at any rate, despite their rank of “gille,” to have retained certain definite rights and privileges. The second stream of influence was the Romanizing of the Scottish Church, and this again is reflected in the story of the district, for begun in the-year 1147 A.D., the Abbey of Cambuskenneth could boast of no less than 28 churches under its control. This meant that these great Papal religious organisations were robbing the little parish churches of their teinds and possessions, and the grip of Rome became tighter and tighter. It resulted, likewise, in the territorial work of the church being neglected, for even in those cases where an Abbey undertook to supply religious ordinances in a parish, whose teinds or wealth it appropriated, such a monk had no interest in the people of the parish, and often was quite uneducated and incapable of conducting the Latin services. The third tendency was that of endowing the church, and this David I. promoted to the point of imperilling the wealth of Scotland. He was a true son of Mother Church, for up and down the length and breadth of his kingdom he made the church so strong in wealth and social prestige, that only a cataclysm like the Reformation could dislodge it. This is proved by what he did in the parish of his royal residence, for according to the Cambuskenneth manuscript, he granted to that Abbey, to the Abbot and Convent, the church of Clackmannan, with its chapels, along with forty acres of land. This charter was confirmed by William the Lion and Malcolm IV. It is clear, also that besides possessing the church, the Abbey possessed also the teinds of the parish. In the twentieth century such a policy of wholesale endowment appears to be doubtful wisdom, and yet in the twelfth century these strong and active abbeys, where men lived in poverty and piety, were the bright spots of Christianity, the only evidence of a virile and self-sacrificing religion. These were, indeed, the pioneers of religious revival, and as such were welcomed by the king. Such endowment ensured that the church would stand the shock of a prolonged and weakening war of Independence against England, and enabled the Scottish clergy as a whole to stand four-square against the invader.

There is no charter surviving to prove that King David I. resided at any time in the Castle of Clackmannan, although it is clear from his grants that he still cherished his possessions in the town. With William the Lion it is very different,* for we are in the happy position of having first-hand proof of his having resided several times in the Castle.

* It was while at Clackmannan between 1165 and 1178 that William the Lion granted a charter of land to the Provosts and burgesses of Inverkeithing, p. 3 of Stephens Inverkeithing.

In the Camperdown Charter Chest there is a charter, granted by William the Lion, to Roger of Haden of the land of Frande in Glen Devon, to be dated somewhere between 1190 and 1199 A.D. Its terms are as follows:-

“Wm. King of Scots, makes known that he has granted to Roger de Haden, the whole of Frande in Glendevin by its right marches, and with all its pertinents, to be held by him of the King and his heirs, for the service of a knight. He also warrants the said land to him and his heirs as that which he has given to him for his service.

apud Clacmanan.”

While such a document places it beyond doubt that the King lived in his royal residence at Clackmannan at that period, it serves to shew also that William was running his kingdom on distinctively feudal lines. The “service of a knight” involved taking the field, with all forces under his command, for a period of 40 days each year. Thus William bound his nobles to him with specific obligations, leaving them to deal with their tenants in a similar fashion, and the result of such a policy was to unify the country, under the leadership and domination of the king. It is no secret as to where William learned such a policy. He was captured at Alnwick in 1174 A.D., by the English, and had a close contact with the Norman system of government. From this experience can be dated the strong tendency of William to bring Scotland into line with England, so far as social and economic organisation was concerned. Indeed, as early as 1170 a charter shews that serfs were part and parcel of the land, where they worked. The idea of the king was clearly to fashion a system of government, identical with that of England, and to develop the Scottish nation on these lines.
This he undoubtedly achieved.

William, realising, no doubt, the value of the church’s aid in his difficult task, confirmed the charter of David I. giving the church of Clackmannan and 40 acres to Cambuskenneth Abbey, for Pope Celestine III., in a bull of 1195 A.D., mentions this fact.

while we know that William was visiting his royal castle on November 9th, 1204, and that he issued a charter on that day, witnessed to by his Chancellor, Archdeacon, Chaplain, Constable and Butler, the most exciting and memorable visit that he paid was in June, 1195. We are fortunate to possess the details of a political crisis, in which the whole kingdom was involved. It began with the illness of the king, and led on to a serious split between the leading nobles as to the succession.
Let Roger Hoveden tell it in his own words:-

"In the same year (1195) William, King of Scots, fell ill in his will, which is called Clackmannan, and determined that Otto, son of Henry Duke of Saxony, and nephew of King Richard of England, should succeed him in the kingdom of Scotland; in such wise that this Otto should take with the kingdom his first-born daughter to wife.

"And although the king had many who consented in this to his will, yet Earl Patrick (of Dunbar) and many others opposed it, saying that they would not receive his daughter as queen; because it was not the custom of that kingdom that a woman should have the kingdom so long as there was a brother or nephew in his family who could have the kingdom by right.

"And shortly afterwards through God’s mercy the king of Scots recovered from that infirmity; continuing in the same purpose which he had of marrying his daughter with the kingdom to the aforesaid Otto."

This human document shews how perplexed the king was, as indeed were all the kings of this period, regarding the succession to the throne. William’s problem was that while he had daughters, he had no son to succeed him, and he sought to ensure the throne for his blood in this bold fashion. The opposition of the nobles on the ground of Scottish custom illustrates the complexity of the succession question, a complexity which led straight to the suzereignty of Edward I. and the long War of Independence.

Roger Hoveden’s statement about the illness of William the Lion at Clackmannan Castle is exceedingly valuable and illuminating. It turned out that the king’s anxiety about the succession was premature, for shortly after this a boy was born to him, who became Alexander II. The interesting point to note is that Clackmannan was in 1195 the storm centre of Scotland, the rendezvous of the Scottish nobility and virtually the “nursing-home” of the king. The fresh air of the Tower Hill, with its fine southern, sunny exposure brought him round to vigour and health again, and lengthened his life by some nineteen years. Little wonder that William returned again and again to the clean breezes of the Castle to recruit his health.*

* 1 On Nov. 9, 1204 A.D., etc. See Scot. Doc. in Records Office. Vol. II. p. 422.
The curate of Clackmannan in 1195 A.D. was one by the name of Robert who is probably the Robert who was King's chaplain on 27th March. 1226, A.D. See Register of Cambuskenneth P.176.

Earl Patrick, who appears in the picture as a “die-hard,” seems to have had no compunction in facing the royal displeasure. He was no doubt perfectly right in resisting the king’s daughter as queen, according to ancient Scottish custom, and in this he was well supported by his brother nobles. Such an interlude of opposition illustrates how limited was the power of the throne, and how easily the royal line might have been in a different family. At the end of his life the same Earl Patrick appears in the light of history in a somewhat less heroic role. By 1232 A.D. Patrick was tottering to the grave, where he knew he had to meet a greater and more terrible king than William the Lion, and the Melrose Chronicler tells us how he prepared to meet Him:-

“Patrick, the venerable Earl of Dunbar, invited his sons and daughters, his kinsmen and his neighbours to spend the festival of our Lord’s Nativity happily together. When four days had been thus occupied, he was seized with a severe illness, whereupon he summoned the Abbot of Melrose, his friend and kinsman, and received extreme unction and the dress of a monk at his hands.” This was a common practice; a man who thus took the habit on or near his deathbed was called monachus ad succurendum; one might almost translate it nowadays “an S.0.S. monk.” So Dunbar went the way of all flesh, firm in the faith of his fathers, armed with all the spiritual weapons of the Church.

And if Scotland as a whole turned with inquiring eyes to the royal castle on the hill in the year 1195 A.D., the eagle eye of the Papacy was no less keen. Pope Celestine III. in the very same year was issuing a bull, in which, with his eye no doubt on events at Clackmannan, he introduces a reference to the fact that Carnbuskenneth Abbey possessed the perquisites of Clackmannan Church, its chapels, and forty acres of land. This historical datum, while of value in itself, reflects also the amazing sensitiveness of the Roman Church to national and political issues even in far-away Scotland. Thus the twelfth century closed with the searchlight of history on Clackmannan.

The dawn of the thirteenth century brought far-reaching influences to play upon the wakening mind of the Scots. The Norman Conquest, which had overwhelmed as with a storm the ways and habits of the southern Englishman, slowly invaded the north of the island, and the result was that now a strong Anglo-Norman influence began to focus on Scotland. As the result of William’s Norman leanings, the royal and baronial castles took after the Norman model, and stone slowly replaced timber in the construction of churches, cathedrals and monasteries. The old familiar broch gradually disappeared, and in its place rose the “mote and bailey” castle, which was introduced by William the Conqueror himself. During the progress of this century, indeed, stone castles arose, such as Kildrummie, Bothwell, and Lochmaben, although the practice was not common until well on into the following century. The castle was a place of strong defence, and because of its protection there arose around it the agricultural burgh, the typical institution of the middle ages. The monks were keen farmers, who employed serfs and tenants to cultivate their ground, and in Clackmannan where a large royal Forest adjoined, serfs were freely employed to clear the trees, to till the soil, to fish the rivers, and to help with the royal hunts.

The plough used by the Scots at that time was drawn by twelve oxen, a very cumbersome and unsatisfactory implement of agriculture. “The ordinary method of medieval cultivation was what was called in Scotland run-rig. In England, when David I. introduced the monks into Scotland, these strips had commonly got into great disorder according to modern ideas. In process of time by inheritance or by purchase, they were not only subdivided, sometimes into small fractions, but also widely dispersed. . .the run-rig system imposed a great deal of uniformity and self-repression. All tenants had to plant the same crop; and after harvest, the village cattle and fowls were let loose over the stubble of the whole tilled lands indiscriminately.” It seems clear that this run-rig system was productive of a strong and independent character in the agriculturalists, and Dr. Coulton argues that this explains why serfdom was practically dead in Scotland by the end of the fourteenth century.”

If vegetables were unfashionable for the table in those early days, thus causing leprosy throughout the land, mills and breweries sprung up everywhere, and the urgent needs of the population were amply met. Under the Norman régime prosperity spread, and bishops and abbots were able to erect cathedrals and churches, first in the Norman and then in the Gothic style, under the skill and genius of foreign craftsmen, who bound themselves into close and sometimes arrogant guilds. A comparison with England, indeed, at the opening of the thirteenth century, shews that the Scottish Church had advanced further than her sister south of the border, for “the earliest statutes of the Scottish Church, of this same thirteenth century, struggled to ensure ‘sufficient maintenance’ for the vicars and prescribed a minimum of £6. 13s. 4d. net, at a time when a good many English vicarages were worth only half that sum.” It has to be remembered that a man, who at that time had £15 in land was rich enough to bear the honour of knighthood.

Nor did the royal interest in the Castle and Town of Clackmannan lapse during this new period, for Alexander II. paid a visit in 1231, when he issued a charter, granting the lands of Culbract in Fife to the Abbey of Balmerino. This is evidence that the great wave of monasticism was still spreading over the land, and that the king was anxious to establish these settlements as centres of vital religion. The town of Clackmannan itself, which from the first was a royal possession, was gradually parcelled out to different nobles, and a gift of land at some time had been made to the family of Sir Geoffrey by the king. In any case, We see in Clackmannan that not only royalty but also the nobility indulged in gifts to the Church, for on the 24th of February, 1236, Sir Geoffrey gifted to the sacrist of Scone a portion of land in the town of Clackmannan, which he had received from Alexander II. Thus it came about not only that the church acquired land and property directly and indirectly from the crown, but also that this land was often far removed from the benefitting ecclesiastical centre.

Other evidence has survived which proves that changes were taking place in the life of the country at this time. Law is the first essential of an ordered community, and already David I. had provided for assizers or jurymen, while he also enacted: -

“The king has statute also that no man ought to thole judgment from a less person than from his peers, that is to say, an Earl by Earls, Baron by Barons, vavasour by vavasours, burgess by burgesses, but a less person may be judged by a higher person, and not a higher by a lesser person.”*

* The Sheriffdom of Clackmannan, James Wallace, p. 13.

The jury consisted of twelve or more persons, and was, of course, presided over by the sheriff. In 1248 Alexander lI., feeling that the legal machinery called for some readjustment, insisted that “assizers of life and limb shall consist of leal men of good fame holding free by charter.” During this time, too, the number of jurymen came to be fixed definitely at fifteen.

The age was, indeed, rapidly becoming an age of class distinctions, and this was felt not only in the world of law, but also in the sphere of industry and commerce. The guilds of craftsmen and traders, in view of the social classes, could not fail to protect themselves by asserting their own class-consciousness, and so they developed into a powerful corporation, which exercised a tyrannous monopoly over the industrial life of the country. So pretentious did these various guilds become that in 1249 they actually enacted that, in order to maintain the dignity of guild membership each person must possess a “decent” horse. Although such an animal at that time must have cost at least forty shillings, the guild law imposed the penalty of a fine on all members who did not conform. The interesting feature is not the power of the guild, which indeed is a matter of common knowledge, but the acute sense of its own dignity. It was the reply of the middle class to the claims of the nobility.

But if the nobility and the middle class were anxious to preserve their dignities and privileges, the Church did not lag one whit behind them. At this very period, indeed, in the middle of the thirteenth century, churchmen were hurrying about the countryside, dedicating new churches. On the 24th August, 1249, David de Bernham, the Bishop of St. Andrews, consecrated the church at Clackmannan to St. Serf. A church had stood in Clackmannan for centuries before this, and St. Serf had been the recognised founder of it. The Roman recognition of the old Celtic saint was somewhat belated, but probably a new building had been erected at this time, and it required the presence of the bishop to do honour to the occasion. The great likelihood is, in view of the introduction of stone into building construction at this time, that the building which Bishop David dedicated was the first stone erection to be made, and was thus an event of great moment. But beyond any local reason, this was a choice opportunity for the church to display its dignity, and we can imagine the riot of colour in the dull medieval town, as the long procession of dignitaries perambulated the sacred precincts of the church, and a splash of scarlet lit up the sombre glory of the altar.

Now, by reading between the lines, we can know that something like a building fever seemed to attack the folks in the district, for only a few years after the completion of the church of St. Serf, alterations were made in the Castle itself, as if stone were being gradually introduced there also. Sometime before 1264 A.D. a charter was issued by Roger de Quencey, the Constable of Scotland, in the following terms:-

“Charter whereby Roger de Quencey. constable of Scotland, grants to Nicholas de Clacmanan, the King’s Brewer, for homage and for service, and for two marks sterling, which he gave to the granter in grassum the whole land of the constabulary in Clacmanan, with the pertinents in toft and croft: to be holden of the granter and his heirs or assignees to the grantee and his heirs or assignees or to whomsoever he shall grant, sell or bequeath the same, on the condition that the said Nicholas shall build on the land near the castle a stable for 12 horses for the granter or his heirs, whensoever it shall happen that he or they shall stay there, and when the granter shall have granted to the said Nicholas woodleave he shall build on the said land at the granter’s expense a chamber 40 feet long and 24 feet wide, with garderobe and private chamber, likewise for the use of the granter when he comes to stay there, giving yearly to the granter and his heir 4 shillings of silver, 2 shillings at the Feast of Pentecost, and 2 shillings at the Feast of St. Martin.

Witnesses :
Sir Richard de Wyk
Sir Robert de Hereford
Sir Philip de Chetewind, Knights.
John de Kindeloch
Sal de Seton
William de Fassinton
Robert de Trafford
Roger de Trafford
Clerks to the granter et aliis.”*

* Calendar of Charters, Register House, Vol. 1-, No. 54.
In 1265 A.D. the Mill of Clackmannan was exchanged by the church for 20 marks a year. See Register of Cambuskenneth. p. 297.

This extremely valuable document is preserved in the Register House in Edinburgh, and from the signatures appended it is certain that it must have been drawn up before the year 1264. Its value lies not so much in itself, as in the inferences that may be legitimately drawn from it. The castle was still a royal residence, and contained a royal brewery. The Constable of Scotland, having in the course of his duty to visit Clackmannan repeatedly, reckoned it would be better to have a good, solid and warm house to live in than enjoy the perquisites of the constabulary, and so bargained them away for a new house, in close proximity to the castle, and for a stable for 12 horses, which indicates that he must have carried with him a considerable retinue. The Forest of Clackmannan must have been rich in good trees, for no limit was placed on Nicholas in the way of wood. Incidentally, the King’s Brewer must have been rather important if he could have executed such a comparatively large order. The provision of a garde-robe and private chamber indicates, also, that the standard of Norman comfort was being accepted in Scotland. By the fourteenth or fifteenth century these garde-robes were to be found in every castle or tower worthy of the name, and they are carefully preserved in the Tower at the present moment. This charter reveals, also, that the royal town was producing its own class, and from now onwards we find that men are designated simply by the name of the town, as here, Nicholas de Clacmanan, and again in 1311 two archers in the Muster Roll at Roxburgh are styled “William and Richard of Clakmanan.” So the work of building and re-building went on, and under the strong and able rule of Alexander III. the country advanced in comfort, culture and prosperity.

The mention of stone buildings in Clackmannan brings us at once to the storm-centre of our history, namely the date when the oldest part of the present castle was built. There are at least three distinct portions of the present building. Regarding the northern half of the building, the outstanding authority states:-

“Here we have, first, the original rectangular keep of the fourteenth century, 24 feet by 18 feet internally, with walls 6 feet thick. The entrance seems to have been on the ground level, with a straight stair in the thickness of the wall, leading to the hall of the first floor. Over this is the upper hall, with private rooms on the floor above, and an attic room in the roof for the garrison, entering from the battlements. These have bold corbels, but no machicolations. In the thick walls there are the usual chambers for garderobes, and deep recesses for windows with stone seats.”

The latest expert opinion is that of the writer in the volume of the Ancient Monuments Commission dealing with the antiquities of Clackmannan:-

“The oldest portion is the lower half of the north end, which is part of an oblong tower, dating probably from the late 14th century.”

It is to be noted that he places no date on this earliest portion, while of course the difference between the lower and upper portions of the northern tower has quite escaped the eagle eyes of MacGibbon and Ross.

We would, therefore, hazard the suggestion that if the northern tower as a whole has to be placed in the fourteenth century, this lower portion which must have been built considerably earlier was erected at the time when the new stables were made and the new house for the Constable of Scotland, and some time after the new church was dedicated by David de Bernham. The mention of garde-robes at such an early date in both the constable’s house and the castle is not perhaps without significance. The presence of a stone structure at Clackmannan would explain also why King Robert sought shelter there, for we know that all his castles in Annandale were of wood. If stone was used for churches in the thirteenth century - and this is a fact - it is unthinkable that a royal residence like that of the Castle of Clackmannan would be built entirely of wood, and since no architectural expert contradicts us, we would date the lower half of the northern tower in the last quarter of the thirteenth century. But the introduction of the stone tower meant the end of the old “mote and bailey” castle, and so our chapter comes to an end.


The change over from the older type of wooden tower to the newer and stronger structure of solid stone made Clackmannan a much more tempting dwelling-place for kings. The days of the War of Independence were coming, when only stone could hope to resist the attack of both English and Scots, and even stone failed. Although kings had resided here for generations, it was only during the period when the southern enemy over-ran the country that such a strategic fort came to be seen at its true value.

The mysterious and tragic death of the Maid of Norway in 1290 A.D., plunged Scotland into the throes of political turmoil. The question of the succession divided the country into those who favoured Baliol and those who favoured Bruce, and the wise-heads invited Edward I. to arbitrate on the issues. But Edward had been watching events with a keen eye for several years. He it was who had arranged the marriage of The Maid with his own son, and it was unfortunate both for Edward and for Scotland that the marriage did not take place. Edward snatched his opportunity, and calling the various competitors to Norham on May 10th, 1291, he compelled them to acknowledge him as Lord Paramount of the Kingdom of Scotland, and to admit his suzerainty over Scotland.

In all there were thirteen competitors for the crown.
“It is remarkable,” says Sir Herbert Maxwell, “as shewing how complete was the Norman ascendancy in the ancient land of the Gael and the Pict, that although all these thirteen competitors for the throne of Scotland claimed in virtue of descent from daughters or sisters of Scottish kings (except King Eric, who founded on being the heir of his own daughter), only one, Patrick Galythly, was indeed a native Scot.” In reality, of course, the crown lay between Baliol and Bruce.

Meantime, the competitors agreed to surrender the Kingdom to Edward including its fortresses, on the pretext that he could not bestow a kingdom he did not possess, and so on the 11th of June Edward secured seisine of Scotland and its royal castles until two months after his arbitrament.

Now, Clackmannan was, of course, a royal castle and technically Edward I. was the lord of the castle from 1291 until the day in 1306 when Bruce was crowned King of Scotland at Scone. And, indeed, it so happens that evidence survives which proves that Edward exercised his rights over Clackmannan in both of these years. On the 15th of August, 1291, only two months after he assumed suzerainty, he issued a “command to Alan, the Bishop of Caithness, Chancellor of Scotland, by a writ to the keeper of the Forest of Clacmannan to give Friar Brian de Jaye, preceptor of the soldiery of the Temple in Scotland, four oaks fit for timber.” These knights of the Temple were a military order, founded in 1119 A.D. to protect pilgrims going to the Holy Sepulchre, and were distinguished by their white mantles, symbolic of purity, emblazoned with the red cross, the ensign of the Church’s champions. At home in Europe the houses of the Templars were used as strongholds for the royal treasure, and the order became wealthy through being the “great international financiers and bankers of the age.” Although in this very year the Knights of the Temple were driven from Acre and their métier in the East was ended, their power was immense in the West. It would appear, therefore, that Edward I., by his generosity with the oaks of Clackmannan Forest, was more intent upon securing his royal treasury in Scotland than on endowing an order of the Church from a purely religious motive. The command of the King indicates that he was expecting to mulct poor Scotland of not a little of its wealth. At any rate, he was not long, after his assumption of power, in making free with the solid timbers of Clackmannan.

The Hammer of the Scots was, however, after a bigger prize than timber, and before long his forces over-ran Scotland, so that by the year 1303 A.D., every castle in Scotland was actually in his hands. While the War of Independence retarded the progress of Scotland grievously, this influx of English knights with their higher standard of comfort brought changes in the castles, which they occupied. The royal palaces of that time, for instance, had their walls neatly plastered, and the halls and rooms were made warm and comfortable by cloth or arras being hung all round. Rushes were scattered upon the stone floors, and we know from the inventory of Bruce’s palace at Cardross that glass windows were in common use. There can be no doubt that the Castle of Clackmannan was in the hands of the English at this time, nor would it be strange if they introduced new features into the furnishings if not into the fabric of the place.

A year later Edward was to shew that he had more than a passing interest in the place, for on March 3rd, 1304, he sent a letter to Sir Alexander of Abernethy, apparently from Kinghorn, urging him to watch all the passages of the Forth for Sir William Wallace, to refuse him all terms of peace except unconditional surrender, “and to find William Bysset our Sheriff of Clackmannan to assist the said watch, if you see it to be necessary.” Indeed, if the king was at Kinghorn, planning the capture of Wallace, it is almost certain that he must himself have stopped at Clackmannan Castle on his way through. His plans fell through, in any case, for it was not till 1305 that Wallace fell into his hands. There is ground for believing that the Sheriff of Clackmannan was not a very willing tool of the English king, for the next year, shortly after the 15th September, 1305, Sir Malcolm de Innerpeffer was appointed to succeed Sir William Bysset as Sheriff by Act of Parliament at Westminster. Sir Malcolm, however, pleased his lord no better and was removed within a year,* being followed by Henry of Annand.

* Wallace's Sheriffdom of Clackmannan, p. 42. Loyalty to Bruce is reflected in Clackmannan’s laird signing the Bond in the spring of 1306. See A. M. Mackenzie’s Robert Bruce, King of Scots, p. 168.

These changes shew that Edward was concerned about the loyalty of such a strategic point in the centre of Scotland, and during this year he sent messengers many times to the sheriff with royal letters. We know that Robert Doget carried a communication on April 6th, 1304, and his expenses amounted to twelve pence, while on the 7th of September another king’s messenger took “consimilia brevia” to the same sheriff, at the more economical cost of eight pence. Ade Pratli was evidently more expeditious than Doget, or perhaps more honest!

At this time the Forest of Clackmannan must have been at its best, and because of its proximity there arose in the royal town a guild of carpenters, who, doubtless, prided themselves on the fact that they were royal carpenters. They must have been outstandingly good workmen, and there must have been a strong community of them, because in May of this same year a party of 13 of them were despatched to Stirling to do carpentry work there. Now Edward began the siege of Stirling Castle on the 22nd April and continued it until it fell on the 24th July, so that these carpenters were engaged on making and repairing the catapults and engines that attacked the castle. No doubt, with their brother-carpenters from York they had a hand in the construction of Edward’s great war engine called "The War-Wolf" They worked for three days and they were paid fourpence per day. It was no doubt a peculiar role for them to appear in, and the work, if not the pay, could have given them small satisfaction.

But Edward was determined that the rich resources of the royal forest should not lie untapped, for on the 18th October, 1305, he commanded William de Bevercote, the Chancellor of Scotland, to supply to the Prior and Convent of St. Andrews twenty oaks fit for timber, in order that the priory houses might be repaired. It is clear that the English king, even while residing at Westminster, was not forgetting Clackmannan, and it argues something for the extent of the forest, when so much good oak could be spared for such an unmilitary purpose as a priory house. In addition to this, also, Edward renewed the charter of King David, “granting common in the wood of Clacmanec” to the Prior of Mai and the friars. The point to note with regard to the renewal of this old charter is that it still is addressed to the "Gilleserfs of Clacmanec," an indication that this peculiar privileged body, probably by this time a close local corporation, was still in existence.

It is quite probable that round about this time the northern portion of the Tower of Clackmannan was erected. We have seen reason to believe that the lower half was already built in the last quarter of the thirteenth century. Both MacGibbon and Ross and the Ancient Monuments expert agree in placing this northern tower in the fourteenth century, and the former disclose the interesting information that the Tour du Pont at Villeneuve in France bears a remarkably close resemblance to it. Now, this Tour can be accurately dated in the year 1307, and considering the strong cultural and architectural bonds that united France and England, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the English occupation of Clackmannan was marked by the heightening and completion of the northern Tower. Even though Bruce occupied the Tower before Bannockburn - and there is no proof of this - he was more notorious as a destroyer than as a builder of castles, and even those that he did build in the south-west were made of wood. In the absence of definite data, therefore, we feel that this period is the most likely for this piece of constructive work.

From this period onwards to the great event of 1314, when Scotland won her laurels and independence, a few figures flit about the stage of history with the Tower as a constant background. On September 17th, 1307, Henry of “Clacmanan” appears as a juror in an inquisition into compensation of one year’s rent of his wife’s land of Tolybotheuille, a claim which is granted by the court. Henry must have been placed in a rather delicate predicament by his personal interest in the matter, or perhaps he was blunt and straight enough to vote unblushingly for his own side! It was a rough age, and its sense of justice was rough too.

In the year 1311 Edward II. roused himself sufficiently to order a Muster Roll of the forces in Scottish castles and it is worth while to note that two men from Clackmannan appear in the list of troops at Roxburgh Castle. These men were archers, and from the manner of the entry one would assume that they formed a part of the regular garrison of the Tower, and this is confirmed by the presence of the attic, already mentioned, in the roof of the northern tower, with an exit on to the battlements. At this period the English must have moved their forces about Scotland, for we find that in the next year the said William of “Clacmanan” was at Stirling, and there is a record that his horse was included in the muster of horses there, and was valued at 10 marcs “liardum pomele.” This William was a person of some importance, for after surviving the Battle of Bannockburn, he appears on the 9th of January, 1316, at the High Altar of Dunfermline as a witness to the homage done by Duncan Earl of Fife to Robert of Crail for the lands of Cluny, which were held by the Abbey. These figures brighten the darkness that settled upon Scotland, making the darkness, perhaps, appear more visible, until the hot summer day of June, when the English broke and fled before the Scots, never to threaten the life of the nation again.

It is curious that no mention survives of The Bruce ever dwelling in the Castle before the Battle of Bannockburn, and the simplest explanation is that it did not come into his hands until then. There is a legend that he occupied the place just before the battle, and Sir Herbert Maxwell repeats it, but there is no contemporary evidence to prove this. When the evidence is forthcoming we shall be happy to accept it. On the other hand, it is quite certain that the victor of Bannockburn lost some time in enjoying the security and comfort of the Castle, for he was not living there till 1323. W. Downing Bruce affirms that this was a favourite spot with the King, and that he was buried at Dunfermline to be within sight of the upstanding Castle of Clackmannan. This is not unlikely, for the adjacent Forest would be an attraction to a man of such energy and hunting skill, and doubtless with an abundance of timber at the door the place would be well and finely furnished. Doubtless on his way to and from Culross in 1322, he stopped for a time at his own royal residence. Certainly, just two years before his death, on the 22nd July, 1327, to be precise, the weary king recruited his health on the Tower hill, but even here he was not freed from the cares of state, for he issued a charter on this very date in favour of Andrew of Moravia, knight. The strenuous years of fighting were beginning to tell, and the prematurely aged king retired to Cardross, where with the recurrence of his old skin disease, he died. In due course the body of the great monarch was borne across Scotland to lie in the Abbey of Dunfermline, and in its progress it passed by the Tower on the hill, and from the battlements and windows, we may be sure, tear-filled eyes watched the sad procession along the winding road and over the hill, and many waved a last good-bye to the Liberator of Scotland.

Now is the stately column broke,
The beacon light is quenched in smoke,
The trumpet’s silvery voice is still,
The warder silent on the hill.

But Clackmannan’s royal days were not yet finished. Indeed, before the end of that same year the Chamberlain of Scotland, Sir Robert of Peebles, arrived and settled accounts there on behalf of the king. These accounts dealt with the period from the 26th June to the 9th of December, and the sheriff is entered as having given £19 on behalf of peace, while £19. 11s. was collected for the same purpose from the farms. One of the provisions of the Treaty of Northampton was that the King of the Scots was to pay £20,000 to the English for damage done by the Scots in England, the payment to be in three instalments, payable on the anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.

So Clackmannan, if it knew the rigours of war, knew also the price of peace.
This same Sir Robert of Peebles enjoyed the confidence of the old king, no less than David, for he was present at Clackmannan in 1326 when John de Lany gave up his accounts as Constable of Tarbart, and as Chamberlain he discharged him.

The new king, a mere boy, soon followed his Chamberlain to the Castle, for on the 2nd of February, 1331 A.D., he was living there, and wrote a letter to Edward III. in these terms:-

“David, King of Scots, to the King. Acknowledges receipt at Clakmanan on the previous day of his letter on the affairs of Thomas de Wake and Henry de Beaumont, knights, but as his council was not there, he has assigned to the bearers of the letter the 18th of March next at Berwick-on-Tweed, to deliberate on their business with his Council. Clakmanan, 2nd February, 2nd of his reign.”

David was obviously anxious to forget the cares of state when he came, for he left his Council behind him, and the preparations made for his visit, as revealed by the royal accounts, indicate that he regarded the place with special favour. A large stock of fuel was got in, the gardens were carefully tended, the victual store was well filled, meal and salt were ordered, silver was sent from Aberdeen, and herrings at a cost of 13s. 4d. were despatched from Crail “per unam batellam.” Even the vicar of the parish, whose perquisites were withheld, was mollified by an indemnity of eight bolls of grain. And so John Clerk, who was responsible for the victuals of the castle, was able to face his royal lord with an easy mind when he crossed the threshold in 1331.

It is to be feared that David did not long enjoy the peace and plenty he had planned, for Edward III. came north in 1333 and captured every castle and fortified place from Edinburgh to Aberdeen. It is certain, therefore, that Clackmannan fell again into English hands, if only for a short time, and David was chased away from his log fires and Crail herrings.

During this troubled period, however, the local affairs were not neglected, even though royalty was absent for the most part. The Bruce had seen to it that a sheriff was appointed to look after the interests of justice and peace, and his choice had fallen on Sir John Stirling of Kerse, who exercised the office until he died in 1347 or 1348. His daughter carried the office with her to Sir John Menteith, the grandson of the alleged betrayer of Wallace, and he after acting as sheriff for ten years, was appointed along with his wife to the office on 25th January, 1357. He was perhaps a little dilatory in the discharge of his financial duties, for he took eleven years to render his accounts to the Exchequer, but this did not prejudice his prestige, for the office remained in the Menteith family for nearly three hundred years.

And if law and order were maintained in that troubled century, so also were the ordinances of religion. We have seen that in 1330 the vicar was indemnified for damages to his income, but it is likely that he survived his harsh treatment, for a vacancy occurred in the parish in 1350, caused probably by the death of the said vicar. At any rate, a new vicar had to be instituted in that year, and we are fortunate in knowing exactly how the institution took place. The church was in the diocese of St. Andrews, and it was therefore the duty of the Dean of Fife to institute the new vicar, but the revenues of the vicar had been granted by the bishop to Abbot Adam of Cambuskenneth to make good the losses suffered there by pillage. The Abbot was, therefore, the vicar of Clackmannan, although, of course, he deputised his work to an underling. The facts are:-

“On the 22nd of August, 1350, a precept was granted by Brice, Dean of Fife, to the Rector of Torry, stating that he was so occupied with the affairs of the Lord Bishop as to be unable to give to Adam, Abbot of Cambuskenneth institution into the vicarage of Clackmannan, and entreating the Rector to go personally to the vicarage with Adam the Abbot, and in his stead to give him institution therein. Abbot Adam also obtained from William Landale, Bishop of St. Andrews, a precept, dated at Lochleven 22nd August, 1350, of the vicarage of Clackmannan, for the purpose of relieving the Abbey from the loss which it had sustained through wicked men. The Dean of Fife was charged by that precept to give the Abbot institution and corporal possession of the fruits, rents, etc., of the vicarage. Adam died before the year 1361, when Gilbert was Abbot.”

The lawlessness which results from war accounts for the plundering of the abbey, and to Landale it was reasonable that the revenues of the parish should be diverted to repair such loss. He did not foresee, of course, that the precedent was bad, nor that the abbey would petition the Pope to retain these for all time. The institution of a new vicar, while evidently not a matter of importance to the Dean of Fife, was vital to Abbot Adam and his monks, and doubtless the humble folks who lived beneath the shadow of the royal castle crowded into the church to watch with wondering eyes the ceremony of the institution. And so, while royal couriers mounted the Tower Hill on their caparisoned steeds, churchmen in all their sacerdotal pomp brought colour and dignity into the life of the parish. It transpires later, in 1379 A.D., that it was the tithes, etc., which were thus appropriated by the abbey, going under the name of “rectory,” for in that year the Pope is asked to give also the “vicarage,” an extra sum of 15 marks per year, to the abbey. Thus stage by stage the wealth of the parish was filched away to maintain the monks of the abbey, and the souls of the people were left uncared and untended.

The Castle, however, was not always to be a royal abode, and its days of regal splendour were drawing to a close. It had survived the long war with England, and in the piping times of peace that followed it must have increased in comfort and prestige. The king continued to hold his Court here as late as 1358, for in that year Sir Thomas de Murray, or Moravia, Lord of Bothkennar, granted to Sir Robert Stewart, his cousin, the barony of Shanbody, to be held of Thomas de Moravia and his heirs, “for service at the King’s Court of C1ackmannan.” But Stewart could have appeared only once or twice at Court, for in the very next year, on the 9th December, 1359, King David, by a charter, which he issued from Perth, handed over “the Castle and Baronie of Clackmannan” to his kinsman, “dilecto consanguineo,” Robert Bruce. Other lands must have gone with the charter, for in the Acts of Parliament of 1363 Robert de Bruce appears as the proprietor of Kennet, and on the 20th October, 1365, King David gave Bruce the lands of “Grassmynston, Gartlove, Carse, La Park Meadow, Crage Roy, etc.” On 17th January, 1367, the Bruce property was increased by the addition of the lands of Rate, “for service of three suits at King’s Court at Perth.” Thus the royal interest in the ancient town and Castle ended, and it passed to a collateral line of Bruces.

It seems strange that at the very time when the throne was threatened by a strong nobility, the king should have disposed of one of his most strategic forts. Days were coming when even royal blood was counted cheap, when a Douglas, or a Moray might have seized the reins of power, when a safe retreat like Clackmannan was too priceless to part with. And yet David handed over to other hands one of his strongest defences. The explanation is clear only when we recall that David was captured by the English at the foolish battle of Neville’s Cross in 1346, that he was a prisoner for eleven years, and that his ransom, when he was released in 1357, was fixed at 100,000 merks sterling. Although the payments were to be spread over a period of ten years, it was found that Scotland was too poor to raise this colossal sum. The king was, indeed, in such sore straits that he sent to Rome to ask for a tenth of the income of the Scottish Church, to help towards the payment of his ransom. We will let the chronicler tell it in his own words:-

“In the year 1359, David, king of Scotland, sent his ambassadors - namely, the Lord Robert of Erskine and Norman of Leslie, esquire, with some other men of standing - to the Apostolic See, in order to beg a tenth of all the income and rents of the whole Scottish Church, in aid of the payment of his ransom, whereto he had lately become bound towards the king of England. This prayer the sovereign Pontiff kindly granted - for three years only; Provided, however, the king did not demand or ask for more from the clergy of his kingdom, as far as his whole ransom was concerned. So the above-named messengers, thus bounteously sped with papal bulls addressed to the clergy of Scotland upon this same matter, went home again merrily. Nevertheless, when so much had been got, all the lands and temporalities held from the king, or otherwise, by Churchmen, were, by that king’s directions, made to contribute, together with the barons and other freeholders of the kingdom - though the clergy made a strong stand against this.”

It is clear that the king was in dire straits for money for his ransom, and this is the explanation of his disposing of Clackmannan Castle, and with it, no doubt, the sword and casque of the great Bruce himself. Such a prize was not to be missed, and another Bruce was ready to step in and pay the price. David was a weak and foolish king, but he was always a king, and when he parted with this royal residence of his, he took his royal splendour with him.
It was no longer the castle of kings.

The last clear and definite evidence, which establishes the presence of royalty in Clackmannan Castle, is found in a charter of 1399, issued by King Robert III., probably from Clackmannan. It is worth noting that this charter gives to Thomas Erskine the barony of Alloa and the Forest of Clackmannan, “with ane taillie and regality.” In fact, however, it remains doubtful whether Robert III. dwelt in person in the Tower, because, as is well known, he was suffering from a horse’s kick, and in this very year his elder son David had to be appointed lieutenant of the kingdom in his place. It is not unlikely, therefore, that it was David, Duke of Rothesay, who occupied the castle for a brief period in that year.

This was definitely the last flutter of royalty that stirred the placid air of the castle hall.


When the Castle passed out of the hands of David, it was a good rather than a bad thing for the town. He was proving such a worthless, not to say expensive ruler that the common people were glad to see the last of him, and by passing into the hands of a strong, local landlord; who evinced a keen interest in the welfare of the community, the town stood to gain immeasurably by the change. The Bruces, who thus appear for the first time in this part of the country, were directly related to the crown, and, if cousins of the king, as some would interpret “consanguineo,” they carried a much more virile strain in their blood. They would thus be the direct descendants of Sir Robert de Bruce, Lord of Annandale, who was with Baliol a competitor for the Crown of Scotland. With the addition of such a family, the fine flower of the Norman aristocracy, the interests of the old town and the surrounding district were secure.

Nor, just because the king was no longer present, did the countryside fail in its duty to the crown. On the contrary, we are certain that it maintained its contribution for the common weal, and also for the ransom that lay on the head of the monarch. John of Annand and William of Norton, officials in the royal service, called at the Castle of Clackmannan on the 21st of April, 1360, and there collected from the sheriff, Sir John Menteith, the dues of the community to the crown. Nor was this any mere spurt, under the stress of national emergency, for the royal Chamberlain acknowledged that in 1365 he received from Sir John the sum of £3 6s. 8d. as coming from the Sheriffdom, and again in 1366 he repeats the entry. Indeed, as years went on the sum increased, until in 1373 John of Annand returned to collect no less a sum than £29 7s. The expenses in connection therewith, however, amounted to the large sum of £21 18s. 9d., so that what went into the royal coffers was only £7 8s. 3d. Rather annoying, no doubt, to John of Annand! In view of the fact that the sheriff’s fee alone was £5, perhaps the expenses were as low as possible! Nine years later the Chamberlain received another handsome contribution of £29 4s. from the sheriff, in this case probably William, the son of the late Sir John Menteith. These facts indicate that the royal exchequer was not suffering unduly, and considering both the value of money and the small area concerned the contribution must be regarded as handsome.

The change in the ownership of the Castle coincided with a change in the abbacy of Cambuskenneth, for Adam, who figured in the ceremony of 1350 at Clackmannan Church, was no longer Abbot, and another, Gilbert, about the year 1361 had taken his place. This change in the vicar called for another little religious procession, another prolonged Latin service, and another wearisome legal interpretation, within the precincts of the parish church. Once again an abbot of Cambuskenneth stands to take the vows as vicar of the little town, and the onlookers well know that he is far too busy a man to care a straw for the souls around him. They know he will go back to his abbey, and send some little mumbling canon now and then to read through the Latin service, or even some ignorant monk who stumbles over every second word.

As a matter of fact, Gilbert did not enjoy the perquisites of the parish for very long. He was succeded by a certain Maurice de Strathern as vicar of Clackmannan, and even he had gone in and out of the vicarage before the 17th of October, 1379. Maurice figures somewhat, not only in local, but also in world history, for his name flourishes in even the Papal Register. It all happened through Maurice being promoted by Pope Gregory XI. from the vicarage of Clackmannan, and presumably the abbacy of Cambuskenneth, to the archdeaconry of Dunblane. The situation is made plain in the petition addressed to Anti-Pope Clement VII., who resided at Avignon, by the abbey authorities, and dated 17th October, 1379:-

“Appropriation to the Augustinian Abbot and convent of St, Mary’s, Cambuskenneth, of the vicarage of Clacmanan, in the diocese of St. Andrews, value 10 marks, of their patronage, the rectory of which is already appropriated to them. Gregory XI. reserved all vicarages and other benefices, with or without cure, void through provisions made by him of arch-deaconries, dignities, personatus, offices, and other benefices soever; after which the said vicarage became void through the promotion by that pope of Maurice de Strathern to the archdeaconry of Dunblane (See Cal. Pet. 1. 556, 559) and had not yet been disposed of by Gregory when he died. The present pope confirmed the reservation of such benefices reserved by his predecessor and not disposed of afterwards. The petition of the said abbot and convent stated that their monastery had suffered from constant wars, their chalices, books and other altar ornaments and other goods having been stolen, and their bell-tower struck by lightning, whereby the choir is greatly ruined. They are to depute one of their canons to serve the vicarage.”

When we recall that in 1350 the same reasons were adduced to the Bishop of St. Andrews, they appear, after some thirty years to be somewhat tarnished and unconvincing. The effect on the Pope was heightened by a touch of lightning and a crashing belfry, and his heart must have melted, for in February of the following year, after pointing out that the value of the Vicarage was not ten but fifteen marks, he confirmed it perpetually to the abbey. One wonders whether the wily monk that drew up the document made a clerical error in good faith, or whether, by minimising the value of the vicarage, he hoped to secure the required sanction more easily. But the Pope was not to be hoodwinked! He obviously knew the value of every benefice precisely.

In this very connection, it is worthy of note that the State marched along with the Church, even in those troubled times. The vacancy in the vicarage of Clackmannan, following upon the transfer of Strathern to Dunblane, was somewhat prolonged - a circumstance that played neatly into the hands of the Papacy, which received the income from vacant benefices - for in 1381 it had not yet been filled, and the king himself, Robert II., petitioned the Apostolic See to appoint Fergus Brune (more likely a misreading for Bruce) to the vacant church of Clackmannan. On the 17th of July, 1381, this petition was granted, although, curiously enough, a second petition of the same year in the same terms was cancelled. The probability is that the second petition was more or less of a “reminder” of the first, and when the first was granted the second was necessarily cancelled. In any case, this throws an interesting sidelight upon how vacancies were filled in the old days, and illustrates the modus operandi of the king. Thus Church and State acted and re-acted upon each other.

These little favours were, of course, not all on the one side. The old charters granted to the Church had at each accession to be renewed, and in 1391 the new king, Robert III., showed his appreciation of the Church’s goodness by re-affirming an old grant to the Monastery of the Holy Cross of Edinburgh :—

"Precipio eciam omnibus ministris meis et forestariis de Strivelyne syre et de Clacmanant, quod abbas et conventus habeant liberam potestatem in omnibus nemoribus meis et forestis capiendi tantum de materia quantum eis placuerit et voluerint ad edificacionem ecclesie sue et domormn suarum, etc.”

The Forest was evidently still rich in good timber, and the young king did not spare it for a monastery so far away as Edinburgh. It is likely, too, that the wood, which was secured in the time of David when the charter was first granted, required extensive renewing, and so the need would be urgent enough. The terms of the grant, it should be noted, are limited only by the wishes of the abbot.

The first years of the Bruces in Clackmannan saw them expanding and developing. They started off in 1359 with the castle and manor, Wester Kennet, Garlet and other places; by 1363 Robert Bruce owns Kennet, and by 30th October, 1365, he has acquired Grassmyston, Gartlove, Carse, La Park Meadow and Crage Roy. When he died, therefore, in 1390, this Sir Robert de Bruce was the virtual lord and laird of the district, and he left three sons, one who continued the succession, a second who founded the Airth line of Bruces, and a third who became Bishop of Glasgow and Lord High Chancellor of Scotland. There must have been another son, however, for in the year before his death, on the 2nd May, 1389, to be precise, Sir Robert de Bruce gave to this son Thomas the lands of Wester Kennet “for good services and for payment to his father of a silver penny yearly.” Here we come upon the origin of the two branches of the Bruces, that of Clackmannan, which ended in 1772 with the death of Henry Bruce in Clackmannan Castle on the 8th of July, and that of Kennet that survives and flourishes to the present day. This separation of the estate of Kennet from that of Clackmannan, never again to be united, was confirmed and legalised ten years later by a Crown Charter, dated 18th February, 1399. This charter of Resignation and Confirmation was issued by Robert III., and simply ratified the former charter of Sir Robert de Bruce. Later, in the sixteenth century there developed the Bruces of the Green, who like the Bruces of the Garlet were destined to be re-absorbed into the greater line of Kennet or to drift beyond any local contact, but it has been the Kennet branch that has remained rooted in the soil, flourished and multiplied, and proved the glory of the race.

During the years which followed the War of Independence Scotland suffered the rigours of exhaustion both in manpower and in economic resources. It is safe to say that the country was set back for more than a century, and the cultural contacts which might have developed both England and Scotland were impossible. In place of the obvious and sensible alliance, there was substituted the disastrous friendliness with France, which, persisting through several centuries, plunged Scotsmen into the shame of Neville’s Cross and the agonies of Flodden, and finally hurled the Stuarts from their throne. True, during the fifteenth century French influence played on Scottish life, but it could hardly be described as a healthy and congenial influence, and in any case it touched only a thin stratum of the aristocracy. It was no doubt through this channel that changes slowly took place in the life of the country. Grates came into common use, beds were adorned with silk, tapestry of all kinds was in great demand, and blankets and linen sheets came into vogue. But if comfort was increasing for the upper classes, the middle and lower classes must have felt the yoke of law somewhat irksome, for their lives were circumscribed with petty restrictions, the result of short-sighted and narrow legislation.
Professor Mackinnon writes:-

“The life of the people was strictly regulated throughout these centuries. How they should dress, how amuse themselves, how much they were to eat, where to lodge while travelling, were, for instance, prescribed by the legislature. Thus we read in an act of James I.’s reign that travellers on horse or foot are to lodge in the hostelries in burghs or on the highways, and not with their friends to the detriment of the proprietors thereof, under penalty of a fine of forty shillings to the king. Early closing of taverns is the subject of another act, it being 'ordained that no man in burghs be found in taverns at wine, ale or beer after the stroke of nine o’clock and the bell that shall be rung in the said burgh.' The bailies shall put all delinquents in the king’s prison under penalty of a shilling for each case of neglect. A fine is laid on the playing of football and golf, in James the Second’s reign, in order to encourage shooting with the bow (Wapinschaw) at each parish church on Sundays, the penalty of neglect being 2d., ‘to be given to them that come to the bowmark to drink.’"

The choice of the ladies in the matter of dress was also limited, for only the wives of bailies and councillors could display silk, scarlet or fur, while ordinary women were compelled to wear on their heads short kerchiefs with small hoods. The cost of dress was limited to forty pence in all, and working folks could wear only grey with a change to blue, green or red on a holiday. Women were forbidden to go to church or market with a kerchief over the face. The very food was limited, although on the generous side, for an archbishop or earl was confined to eight courses of meat, a dean to six, a baron to four and a burgess to three. Although restricted, the dress of the fifteenth century was not ungainly. It comprised the gown, the doublet and the hose. The gown reached from the shoulders almost to the ground, and was sometimes relieved by a girdle, and required about five yards of double-width silk, satin or damask. The short gown, sometimes worn, stretched only to the knee, while the hunting gown was even shorter. A cape was also worn, which with a bonnet of French cut, lent a dash of smartness to the turnout of the Scots gentleman. In this same century, also, people ceased sleeping in their day clothes, and favoured the use of night-gowns.

It is interesting to recall that food was remarkably cheap at this time. An ox fetched only £1, a hogshead of herrings cost 32s., 100 haddocks could be got for 3s., and a whole salmon could realise no more than this; but sugar made up for this cheapness by rising to 2s. per pound. Ale was the popular drink of the period, although as the century wore on beer was imported from Germany, but whisky was regarded more as a drug than a beverage. Claret was the favourite wine of the wealthy, although France, Spain and the Levant contributed to their cellars.

The lighter side of life was not neglected in this period.
High and low had their amusements, and there were always the great occasions of the Christian year, which provided jollity. A peculiar feature of the time was the enthusiasm for plays, which although often concerned with sacred themes abounded in fun and frolic. Minstrels provided the music, and choristers and priests acted the parts. These mystery plays developed, of course, from the acting of the Passion by the priests at Easter, but it became popular with the people, and so full of parody and banter that the church had to exclude these displays from the churchyards. The fact that each tradesman contributed his skill in the execution of the show roused enormous interest, and the whole project brought colour and interest into the humdrum life of the medieval town-dweller. At home the people played dice, cards and backgammon. Out of doors the better class hunted and hawked, while the common folks indulged in golf, football or tennis. It is against the background of such general social conditions that we have to view the events of Clackmannan during the fifteenth century.

The fortunes of the town were presided over, at the opening of that century, by a grandson of the original Sir Robert, by name Sir David, who in the Cambuskennth chronicle is designated as a soldier. In these rough, unsettled times, when a laird was bound to give service to the crown, it was hardly possible to be other than a soldier, and by marrying the daughter of Stewart of Lorn, Sir David came into touch with the wild clans of the west. His military interests, however, did not preclude his good wishes for the Church, for on the 6th of October, 1406, he presented the mill of Clackmannan to the Augustinian monastery of Cambuskenneth. It will be recalled that this mill was gifted some two hundred years before by Malcolm Fourth to the same abbey. The mill was working away steadily in 1357, for the sheriff acknowledges that it paid him Two Pounds for that Whitsun Term. Doubtless, Sir Robert Bruce acquired the mill, along with the castle and manor, in 1359, and it lay with Sir David to present it again to the Church. There is just time for the Church to be conscious of its loss of the mill in 1359 and to set its machinery in motion to secure its re-presentation, by 1406. We may take it that Sir David Bruce was tolerably well-disposed towards religion, if he made such a gift to the abbey.

The position of the parish church itself is not too clear at this period. By 1381, we know, it was entirely in the hands of the abbot of Cambuskenneth, and one might presume that so it remained until the days of the Reformation. Although in the diocese of St. Andrews, all that the bishop had to do with it was to authorise the institution of the new abbot as vicar. But there is a document dated 1409 which says, “Henry, by divine mercy, bishop of St. Andrews to the chaplain of the parish church of Clakmannane.“ This Henry was, of course, Bishop Wardlaw, who two years later made himself famous by founding the University of St. Andrews. The document is really a process to compel the laird of Alloa to carry out needful repairs to the church of Clackmannan, failing which no ecclesiastic would “celebrate divine things” either in the church, or the chapel or the oratory of the parish. Sir Thomas Erskine had contended (15th May, 1401) that the Abbot of Cambuskenneth, as the perpetual vicar of Clackmannan, ought to supply a priest for the chapel of Alloa. If St. Andrews and Cambuskenneth came in for some benefit from the ancient town, Dunfermline was not forgotten. At one time the residence of kings, this city had always been the centre of religious life, and through the middle ages nourished the monastic ideal within the walls of the time-honoured monastery. The church of the abbey was completed by 1250 A.D., but as time passed the styles of architecture changed from the Romanesque to the Gothic, and various alterations were made in the church to harmonise with this change. “The subsequent rebuilding of the north-west tower, as well as of the two adjoining bays of the nave-arcade and of the vaults of the corresponding bays of the north aisle, and the addition of a porch in front of the Romanesque north door can all be ascribed with certainty to Richard de Bothwell, Abbot from 1446 to 1482, since the arms of Bothwell appear on one of the tower buttresses, on the north porch, and on the vault of the aisle.” What happened is clear. Bothwell, when he was appointed Abbot in 1446 set about the task of “modernising” his abbey church, but found that to achieve his purpose he would require a goodly supply of stout timber. He knew that the royal Forest stretched westwards across the moor to Clackmannan, and both the quality of timber and the easiness of access appealed to him. Application is made to the Crown in the approved manner, and on the 22nd of March, 1450, while James II. is residing in Edinburgh, he grants a charter to the Abbot and monks of Dunfermline monastery, authorising them to take from the Forest of Clackmannan all the wood they require for building and for fires. So Bothwell carried on happily with his repairing and rebuilding, and the monks warmed themselves at their log fires, all at the expense of the Forest and the ancient town of Clackmannan.

Nor was this all that accrued to the Abbey of Dunfermline at this time.
If royalty could deign to confer gifts on the Benedictines, it was equally worthy and gracious in the common people. There were evidently pious hearts among the rank and file of the town, whose desire was to see the promotion of a religion that involved poverty, chastity and obedience. At this very time there lived in Clackmannan a working mason, who believed sincerely in Holy Mother Church, and who proved his faith by a gift of land to the abbey, in the following terms:-

“12th July, 1456, William, mason of Clackma-a, gives to Dunfermline Abbey the whole croft, called Ditschecroft, adjoining ppe. villa de Clakmana in Wynde on the west side, and a small croft on the east side, and another piece Smediland ex parte australi, and the north Wynde of Clakmana on the north side, etc.”

It is possible that we have here the first reference to the old “smiddy,” which until recently was situated on the south side of the hill. Places of such value to an agricultural community and such centres of local news were wont to be stationary for centuries, and if we are right in this identification, it means that the local “smiddy” carried on in the same spot for something like four centuries. The upheaval at the Reformation, however, would sever the connection of the blacksmith’s shop with the Abbey of Dunfermline.

Nor was the Abbot of the Benedictines the only person with a stake in the Burgh of Barony of Clackmannan. As far away as Edinburgh the eyes of churchmen were fixed on the little town on the hill, for some kind soul had gifted or bequeathed to the Church of St. Andrew in the Capital a piece of ground there, carrying with it certain perquistes. It was a church, as a matter of fact, which had an interest in many unlikely spots throughout the country, and this was only one of its many possessions.

Fearing that with such varied and scattered interests, some of them might be prejudiced, the authorities sought the sanction and protection of the king, and James III. on the 12th of August, 1471, ratified the privileges and possessions of the Church of St. Andrew in, among other places, “toftam de Clakmanen cum pertinentiis.” And so the Church at large, entrenched behind the royal mandate, bridled the possessions of Clackmannan to its purpose.

Meantime other events took place that had a bearing on the fortunes of the place.
In 1428 an Act was passed by Parliament, the County Franchise Act, which required this place to send one commissioner to Parliament - other counties were allowed two - which commissioner was to be paid not by Parliament but by the shire, and he was elected, not of course by popular vote, but by the head court, presumably the Sheriff Court, of the shire. We may therefore visualise the court meeting on the steps of the old mercat cross, more or less as it is to-day, and there choosing the man who should sit in Parliament for them. James I. was determined to have a representative body of law-makers.

A change took place in the lordship of the castle and town in 1473, probably through the death of Sir John Bruce, for on the 26th of March of that year the king conceded to the heir, Sir David, the lands of the barony, although curiously enough he withheld the lands of the barony of Rate. Later, however, on the 11th September, 1479, James IV. granted the lands of Rate to Sir David Bruce, who was probably the same person.*

* Register of Great Seal under dates. His second son Edward (1505-1565) was the father of Baron Kinloss, the progenitor of the Earls of Elgin. See Scots Peerage.

There is just the suggestion behind this that the blood relationship that bound the throne and the Bruces was being forgotten, and such an impression is confirmed by the rise into favour of an adjacent noble family, namely the Erskines of Alloa, for in 1489, on the 12th of August, James III. conceded to Alexander Erskine, the heir of Lord Erskine, the barony and regality of Alway (Alloa), and in addition the Forest of Clackmannan. The geographical connection would have been with the county town rather than with Alloa, and it speaks something for the increasing power of the Alloa house that such an important royal possession as the Forest was placed in their hands.

Meanwhile, the worthy Sheriff was going through deep waters.
Sir William Menteith, although he possessed the estates of West Kerse and Alva, became involved in the murder of Sir John Bruce of Airth, and fearing that he might lose his property, he conveyed it to John Schaw of Sauchie. The Lords of Council took a serious view of the murder, and after effecting an understanding between the families, they compelled those implicated in the affair to “come to the Market Cross of Edinburgh in their linen clothes with bare swords in their hands and ask the said Robert and his friends forgiveness of the death of the said John as the manner is used thereof and to remit to them the rancour of their hearts and shall for the soul of the said John seek or gar seek the four head pilgrimages of Scotland and there say mass for the soul, and further, the said Robert Bruce shall within twenty days next to come enter one priest to sing in the kirk of Airth for the space of two years. The said Robert paying one half of his fee and the said Archibald of Menteith the other half. The which two years being past the said Robert shall gar one priest sing in the same kirk for the said soul.” Ultimately, Sir William Menteith received back his lands from Schaw and James on Sept. 25th, 1489, reappointed him Sheriff.

But the feuds between Bruces and Menteiths had been preceded by the rivalry that divided James III. from his intriguing brother the Duke of Albany. With all the envy of a younger brother, Albany strained himself to grasp the reins of office, and became so strong that he could challenge the power of the king. In 1479 he was captured and placed in the Castle in the Capital, but with great daring he made good his escape to Dunbar Castle, and here the Forest of Clackmannan comes into notice. The king determined to lay siege to Dunbar, and for this purpose he called on the resources of the timber of the Forest.

Foresters were commanded to cut the trees down and shape them so that these may be used “for necessary measures against the Castle of Dunbar.“ True, the bold Albany escaped and made his appearance before the French Court by September of that year, and even though the design of the king miscarried, it is interesting to feel that the old royal town, one of the homes of the kingly breed, played its part in supporting the siege and driving the supplanter from the country.

What Scotland was like at the close of the fifteenth century is revealed to us in the impressions of Ayala, who was the ambassador of King Ferdinand at the court of James IV. “The people are indeed poor and not too industrious, being prone to war, internal or foreign. But there has been a great improvement in its prosperity under the present king, of whom he gives a very flattering estimate. He grows enthusiastic over the abundance of fish, of wild and garden fruits, suitable to the climate, the quality of the corn, which grows as high as his girdle, though more land might be cultivated. The people are handsome, strong and courageous, well-dressed, and very hospitable to foreigners, whilst much given to ostentation and spending everything to keep up appearances. Like Aeneas he was charmed by the ladies, who “are really honest”, though very bold, very good-looking and graceful, and wearing a headdress which is the handsomest in the world. The towns and villages are populous; the houses of the well-to-do good, all built of hewn stone with excellent doors, glass windows, a great number of chimneys, and ancestral furniture of the same type as that found in Italy, Spain and France. The people are very partial to France and to things French, and the higher classes are leavened by French culture . . . . all the young gentlemen who have no property go to France, and are well-received there, and therefore the French are liked." Although through debasement of the coinage of the realm the value of the Scots pound had fallen to something like six shillings, there was a measure of solid prosperity in the country, for some farmers owned as many as ten thousand sheep, and strongholds that had disappeared during the War of Independence took shape once more as almost impregnable keeps.

This is precisely what happened at the Castle of Clackmannan.
During the fourteenth century only the northern half was in existence, but in the expansive days that followed, the Bruces felt the accommodation too limited, and, no doubt with an eye on the family prestige, the southern and more imposing half of the tower was constructed. This meant more accessible and commodious kitchen premises, and the addition of very excellent and commanding bedrooms, besides turrets and battlements which if not highly useful were certainly impressive and pleasing:

“In the fifteenth century this accommodation, i.e., the north tower, was found to be too limited, and the south wing was then added. The entrance to the keep seems then to have been made by a door in the re-entering angle on the first floor level, with a passage cut through the south wall to the hall. The new wing provided the additional accommodation, which was now found requisite, viz., a kitchen on the first floor, a private room on the second floor adjoining the upper or private hall, and bedrooms on the upper floors. The fireplace of the private room is fine, and by its style, together with other evidences, fixes the date of this wing towards the end of the fifteenth century. It should also be noticed that there is a wash-hand basin, with a drain to the outside, in the east wall of the hall, a feature which is to be found at Sauchie and other castles of various periods. It is remarkable and quite unusual that the wing added should be carried, as in this case, higher than the original tower. The corbels and machicolations of the parapet, with the rounded angles of the addition, are well-preserved and have a fine effect, and it is worthy of notice that these corbels and open machicolations, which are often regarded as archaic features, here belong to the more recent part of the building.”

This last statement gives point to the remark of Dr. Mackay Mackenzie, regarding the machicolated parapet of Clackmannan Tower:-

“It is even probable that a machicolated crown to a tower, or breastwork on a well, meant in the few cases we have in Scotland, little more than an imposing show, a bit of feudal bravery."

Nevertheless, we must not forget that those times were troublous, life was cheap, the arm of justice was neither strong nor far-reaching, and the Tower was the only place of refuge and security in the surrounding country, so that the additional command of an approaching enemy which these machicolations afforded may at times have proved most welcome. Such a state of things tended to glorify the local baron, who was more or less always present, at the expense of the king who was seldom or never seen by the rank and file. Thus, with a reconstructed and improved Castle crowning the hill, the sixteenth century dawned in a blaze of pride and prestige, and Sir David, as he viewed his self-contained barony from the height of the parapet, was monarch of all he surveyed.


Scotland was badly in need of reform.
The steady advance in prosperity that had been made in the fifteenth century was arrested later by the minorities of James V. and Queen Mary. The old sage said, “Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child,” and Scotland was to feel the truth of this. Disorder appeared in the public affairs of the country, life was distinctly unsafe, and oppression in its most aggravating forms stampeded the country. Neither the College of Justice nor the Court of Session, instituted during this troubled period, could stop the robbery and injustice. Nor was it merely in matters social and civil that the atmosphere changed. With the turn of the century, we sense a chill in the religious world, and in place of the steady flow of benefactions that had distinguished the past, there is a sullen suspicion of the great edifice of the medieval Church, a silent contempt for the ecclesiastics who manoeuvred its revenues, and an open criticism of the lives of the clergy. John Major fulminates against the over-endowment of religious houses, Boece derides the gluttony and drunkenness of his contemporaries, and Sir David Lindsay, urging “justice, policy and peace,” lashes the nation from king to peasant with the whip of his satire. When we add to the picture the broken hearts that cried over Flodden, it is plain that this had to be an age either of reform or rebellion.
In the strange ways of history it was both.

The changes that took place in the little county town, though not spectacular nor historic, are a sufficiently interesting mirror of the national life. Here we can catch glimpses of the working of the king’s machinery of government, with royal messengers and proclamations from the Mercat Cross, instructions to the sheriff, levies of men to fight the country’s battles, the building of a Tolbooth for the more efficient execution of Justice, and the supplanting of the old rotting Roman church by enthusiastic preachers of the pure gospel.

The dividing up of estates and lands provides material for the reconstruction of the events of this period, and the changing over of property, while tiresome in its legal technicalities, often yields facts of first-class historical value. In 1501, for instance, John Millar of Clackmannan secures lands and house adjoining “le Grene de Clakmannan” - notice the French influence on the language of the deed - with “two ruby roses as double blench duties.” This helps us to date the emergence of the Bruces of the Green, an offshoot of the Bruces of Clackmannan, and it indicates the breaking up of the old estates of this family. This is confirmed by the fact that on the 6th of November, 1536, David Bruce of the Green acts as a witness to a precept of sasine. The mention of the two ruby roses, also, provides that quaint touch of the romantic, the inexpensive symbol of a generous overlord, who asked but a beautiful flower as the token of his rights.

The ill-fated James who fell at Flodden had, also, several contacts with the ancient seat of his race. The Erskines were coming to the fore during these days, and each king increased their power and possessions. On the 22nd of April, 1502, for instance, the king confirmed them in the possession of “Alway, with the island called the island of Clakmannane, and the ground on the east side of the Litil Dovane.” This is, presumably, what is known as “The Inch of Ferryton” at the present day, still in the possession of the Erskines, and the term would lead us to infer that at that time the waters of the Forth reached and surrounded this area. If so, then the labour of taking timber from the Forest, as commanded by James IV., would be considerably lessened, for the king had a closer contact with the place than merely signing a charter; he had to pay money out of the royal treasury. In Feby., 1504, he sent to Clackmannan for wrights, the cost of the messenger being three shillings; he paid fourteen shillings to men in the town to take the timber down to the water, and three months later, ordering more wood, he had to pay twenty-eight shillings “in drinksilver” at “The Poll of Clackmannan ” - now the Pow, of course - to those who carted the timber and to the marines “that tursit it to Leith.” The cost of horses, carts and carters for five days amounted in February to 25/ 10d. It is not clear for what purpose the timber was used, but we know that James was keen on raising the prestige of his country in the eyes of Europe, and it is likely he wanted to improve the buildings of the capital. It should be noted that the famous old Forest was maintaining its reputation, and still able to meet the royal demands, while the town that had produced carpenters for Edward precisely two centuries before was still able in 1504 to yield its complement of Wrights. Perhaps the royal treasurer hoped to recoup some of the money he had spent in Clackmannan, for the following year he despatched a messenger, by the name of Beg, to the district to summon certain persons who had found a hoard of money. It was, no doubt, the old story that whatever did not belong to anybody in particular belonged to the king. It was, perhaps, as fair a way of dealing with the matter as any other that could be devised, and the town did not suffer unduly, for the very next year the king’s heart melted at the story of a poor wife of the place, who was left a widow.

The entry in the Accounts is brief but graphic:-

“1506. To ane wif of Clackmannane hed his(sic) husband dede, quhilk was ane sawer in Lochmaben, Ten shillings.”

Doubtless the worthy workman had moved to the county town with a prospect of more work, or he had gone under the king’s direction, who thus felt a responsibility for his death. It is refreshing to see that James had a heart that could feel for other’s woes.

That year death visited not only the humble home of the sawer from Lochmaben, but climbed up through the window of the noble Castle and called home Sir David the lord of the barony and lands of Clackmannan. Grief echoed through the rooms of the Tower, and churchmen hurried about to ensure solemn and impressive obsequies. But the wailing died away, and in due course the son and heir entered into the inheritance of his fathers. It was an inheritance grown greater by the efforts of his father, for, as we have seen, the old Sir David probably added the handsome southern wing, and other improvements to his mansion. This is indicated when, on the 3rd of February, 1506, James IV. confirmed to young Sir David the lands and barony of Clakmannane, “with the castle and fortalice and annexes there to.” The mention of “fortalice,” which emphatically does not appear in previous charters, is exceedingly valuable, for it helps to fix the date of the outwork, which, as can be seen at the present day, connected the moat with the main building. A portion of the wall is still standing, and points to this part having been the barbican of the castle. The word barbican is clearly derived from the Arabic bab-elkhanah (the door of the khan), and was a feature of fortress architecture which developed during the siege warfare of the Crusades, and thus became incorporated into Western castles in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Such an interesting oriental origin lies behind the ruins of the barbican that stand to-day on the Tower Hill.

But this detail in the charter of 1506 has further implications.
It throws doubt on the dating to be found in the Ancient Monument Commission’s plan of the Tower, for there it is shaded to indicate that the barbican was not built till the 16th-17th centuries! Now, it is certain that this was built before 1506 and most probably in the last quarter of the fifteenth century, thus belonging to the same period as the south wing. Datings derived from architecture exclusively have to be accepted with the very greatest caution.

Following upon the issue of this fresh charter by James IV., an interesting ceremony took place in Clackmannan, which might have taken place many a time before, but which somehow only on this occasion is noticed by the chronicler. On the 6th March - that is, about a month after the granting of the charter - Sir David Bruce and the Abbot of Cambuskenneth together made a perambulation and division of the forty acres of the land of Clackmannan, which belonged to the abbey. The symbolism of these two dignitaries traversing together the boundaries of the sacred and the secular is typically medieval, and not without its wisdom and beauty. It indicated also the union of the two great halves of human life. It was a custom that evidently prevailed in the days when donations of lands were made to the church.
As Dr. Coulton points out:-

“At St. Andrews, one of the earliest donations to the priory was consecrated by a solemn procession; St. Regulus the missionary paced seven times round the land, followed by the king and his nobles on foot; ‘and thus’ (writes the chronicler) ‘they consecrated the place to God and fortified it with the protection of the king’s peace.’”

In the disillusioned days of the sixteenth century the little ceremony had probably a purely legal and utilitarian purpose, and young Sir David carried it through to avoid complications with the church later. It was at any rate rather fine that at the beginning of his lordship the laird and the abbot should march shoulder to shoulder.*

* Matters were not so happy with Gilbert Brady of Sauchie, who had refused to pay teinds on the coal there on 4th Feby., 1510. See Register of Cambuskenneth, p. 87.

James, as we know, fell at Flodden in 1513, fighting gallantly to the last. Scotland was plunged not only into a genuine grief, but into a regency more prolonged and embittering, during which the child-king was the pawn between the opposing factions of the country. This makes it all the more difficult to say what part was played by young Bruce of the Castle, and how we have to interpret the facts. In the Lord High Treasurer’s Accounts there is an entry, which at once arouses our curiosity :-

"1515, 16th day of Dec., Robert Hart, officer, for to pass with ane letter of summons upon the Laird of Clackmannan at the King's instance for the taking of Charles Denestoune cabdene of Inchegarvy, for his expenses . . . . 14/-.”

Inchgarvie is an island in the Forth, on which rests one of the piers of the Forth Bridge, and in order to erect this pier the builders had to remove the ruins of an old state prison. This was one of the most important places of confinement in the sixteenth century, and the Captain of Inchgarvie was obviously a “key man” in those days when each party planned the imprisonment of the other. The Duke of Albany, therefore acting as regent for his young nephew of three years of age, calls upon Sir David Bruce, as he no doubt called on the other lairds around the Forth, to lay hands on the recalcitrant captain of Inchgarvie. We have the right to assume, from this, that Bruce enjoyed the favour of the powerful party in the state, and indeed it is not improbable that his help was effective, for on the 18th of April, 1517, Albany gave him the right to hold the yearly Fair at the Feast of St. Bartholomew in the following terms: “ . . . We gevis and grantis to him and his airis that they have and bruke ilk yeir perpetualie within the said town of Clakmannane common fairis in the feast of Sanct Bartilmo and be the octavis of the samin, with all tholoneis, etc., and that all our lieges and utheris that plesis tocum with their merchandice and gudis to the said fairis have free and sure passage to and fra the samin but ony stop or impediment to be made by our schireff of Clakmannane or ony utheris . . .” Although this was a feather in the cap of Bruce, since the holding of the Fair generally went with the sheriffdom, it gave rise to trouble later, which only the Privy Council was able to cope with. The Mentieths, the hereditary sheriffs, had their reply to make to this slight and although James V. confirmed this charter on the 18th of September, 1543, by the 26th of October of the same year he gave the same right of holding the Fair to Sir William Menteith. Such a complication could only end in feuds and strife. When Queen Mary on 8th July, 1565, gave John Menteith the same rights, the quarrel became more acute, and the Privy Council, on the 22nd of August, 1569, when the case came before them, solved the problem in the usual noncommittal way of councils by depriving both Menteith and Bruce from holding the Fair. We have no record of the feud ever having been composed, and it was not until the Menteith family became extinct in the next century and Charles II. made Sir Henry Bruce the hereditary sheriff in 1669 that peace was again restored and the anomaly abolished.

The middle half of this century was an exciting time for Scotland, for political and religious currents met in a vortex of conspiracies and confusions. This unsettled and perilous state of the country is reflected in the succession of royal messengers that hurry back and forward to Clackmannan with the royal mandates, either calling up the footbands, or summoning the lords to convene at Edinburgh, or commandeering pioneers from the town to help in the building of a fort at Inchkeith. The faithful Robert Hart posts away to the sheriff in 1522 with a letter to be read from the steps of the Mercat Cross, assuring all those who come forward to fight in the footband that they shall be free for two months from service; John Anderson arrives with a letter under signet, warning the outer guard of Clackmannan to be ready; James Bissait delivers a letter direct from the king, dated 20th May, 1527, enclosing three letters for three lords, commanding them to meet at Edinburgh with all their retinues on the 15th of June “to ride on the thieves.” Later, a letter is read from the Cross, charging all lords, lairds, barons and “landit men” to go to St. Andrews for the “fifth quarter,” a place that was ringing still with the murder of both Patrick Hamilton and Cardinal Beaton in 1546. Grimmer still was the summons that arrived by Alex. Cunningham the following year, charging the inhabitants of Clackmannan to come forward to support the Governor of the Kingdom, the Earl of Arran, who was gathering his forces to meet the English. If any went to fight under Arran’s standard they had a poor chance of ever seeing the Tower again,* for the Scots were defeated at the battle of Pinkie.

* Robert, the Master of Erskine, from Alloa House, was one who was killed at Pinkie.

It is clear that the rank and file had lost faith in the government of Mary of Lorraine and her proteges, for even when the English menace was removed and in 1558 men were summoned from the old Mercat Cross to meet at Duns on the 29th June, provided with 20 days victuals, and later to meet at Lauder with 10 days’ victuals, so poor was the response that the raid, presumably upon England, could not take place and another letter was sent to summon “certain persons within the sheriffdom of Clackmannan to underlie the law for abiding from the army and raid to have convenit at Duns and Langton 1st and 2nd April last, to compear before the Justice on the 26th day of July at Clackmannan.” In the troubled state of the country, it is hard to see how full punishment could have been meted out to those who refused the royal command.

During this time, indeed, the voice of Knox was resounding through Scotland, and under his sturdy influence the friends of England and Protestantism were gaining in numbers and power. When the fair Mary arrived from France in 1561, it was to face a nation in upheaval, and a preacher of the people who would be neither cowed by her pride nor charmed by her witchery. Her fate was to make blunder after blunder with the Scottish people, until she had bartered away every feeling of loyalty and she was left at last in the hands of her enemy to die like a felon on the block. Her first days in Scotland were days of gaiety and joy, for the people roused themselves to respond to the winsomeness of her smile and the beauty of her form and features. She had not been a month in her kingdom, when she set out on a visit to the central counties, and on the 15th of September she passed under the ancient and royal Castle of Clackmannan, on her road from Stirling to Culross and Lochleven. It is likely that the good Sir Robert provided refreshment for his queen in the middle of that autumn day, and well he might, for had she not confirmed his father David "equitis aurati"* in his barony ten years before this, and then transferred to himself “for good Services the barony of Clakmanen, cum annexis, terras dominicales, turre et fortalicio, villam de Clakmanen cum molendino ”?

* Register of Great Seal. Feby. 12, 1551, Mary erected the town into a free burgh of barony in favour of Robert Bruce, grandson and heir of Robert Bruce of Clackmannan. See Arms of Baronial and Police Burghs of Scotland, by Bute, Stevenson and Lonsdale.

We have the right to say, therefore, that the Bruces had stood by the throne in these troubled days, and when Mary crossed the drawbridge of the Tower in 1561 she passed into the household of a friend and a loyal subject. But Bruce was her friend not only in the halcyon days of her reign, but also when the darkness gathered thick about her in her island exile on Lochleven. The story of her dismal and disastrous marriages need not be retold, nor how she alienated the best and brightest spirits of her age, but mention must be made of her daring escape from her prison on the evening of the 2nd May, 1568, for quick on the wake of this adventure the name of Clackmannan shines out like a star in the gloom of Mary’s midnight. Six days after her escape her adherents signed the following bond at Hamilton:-

“The subscribers, considering that it has pleased God to put to liberty their sovereign lady the Queen, forth of the hands of her disobedient and unnatural subjects, who have presumed to hold her most noble person in prison for ‘their awin prehemenance and particulareteis, menassand and boistand from tyme to tyme to take her magesteis lyfe maist unjustlie from hir, expres aganis all lovable law of God and man,’ for which they render thanks and hearty praise, bind themselves to serve and obey her with their bodies, lands, goods, friends, etc., against the said unnatural subjects, to the setting forth of her authority, honour, commonweal of the realm and lieges, to their uttermost power, to their lives, and bind themselves to refer all bypast and future actions or grudges amongst them to the commandment of their said sovereign lady and the lords of her Council.”

As the excited and disillusioned queen scanned the names appended to this cheering document, she must have noted among the barons’ signatures that of “Clakmanen,” and the name brought comfort to her soul. This bond was powerless to save the fortunes of Mary that crashed irretrievably at Langside, but failure cannot cloud the glory of that unswerving loyalty of “Clakmanen” nor defeat rob him of his fine and noble deed.

Nor did the flight of Mary bring to an end the series of excited proclamations from the steps of the Mercat Cross. The place of proclamation that had been used by the servants of Mary was used also by the Lords of the Congregation for a precisely opposite purpose. In May, 1570, there remained a section of the country, who stubbornly pinned their faith in Mary, and the sheriff stood on the steps of the Cross and called for a levy of men to march against this dangerous minority, and in November of the same year, so bold had the border thieves become, it was necessary to summon the help of all good citizens in the same way to suppress them. The Reforming Party, indeed, became so strong and self-confident that by 1572 it was able to proclaim from the Cross of Clackmannan that every man between the ages of 16 and 60 must meet the Regent at Glasgow on the 26th of June “with 15 days’ victuals to resist the traitors of the Kingdom, on pain of tinsall of lyff, landis and guidis.” Proclamations were again repeated in 1577, but this time 40 days’ food was to be taken and also “palyeonis to ly in the feildis.”

While the Cross was, naturally, the place where the call to fight fell on the ears of the community, it was also the place where less dreadful news was heard. The appointment of a new sheriff was announced there, and injunctions governing the civil life of the community were read from there. It is explicitly stated, for instance, on the 5th of December, 1551, that the government’s proclamation must be declaimed from the Cross: “Queen, Governor, Lords of the Privy Council send a proclamation to the sheriff of Clakmanen, to be made at the Mercat Cross, that none shall by (buy) wine, white or claret, at more than 10d. per pint, on pain of confiscation of all movable goods.” There was at this time a great increase in the varieties of wine obtainable, and this was a move by the reigning powers to ensure that the home trade would not suffer by the glut on the market. It was a simple, indeed a crude, way of dealing with a delicate economic situation, a situation that most probably resolved itself in the end.

It is worth while to observe that changes were taking place in the personnel and possessions of the town during this period of upheaval. Complications were arising before the beginning of the century about the ownership of land in the area of the burgh, and a special sheriff court had to be held at Kennet to defend Mrs. David Bruce "against Gilbert Brady, for troubling her in the peaceable possession of a headrigg of land, the grass of a ward, the grass of a forebank at Kemketland, and others." Later on, on 23rd April, 1537, one of these Bradys, belonging to Easter Kennet, surrendered lands and rents which belonged to him in the town to Edward Bruce, in exchange for money that David Bruce had given to him in his hour of need.” Even among the Bruces themselves complications arose, and this very century was ushered in by a case that was brought before the Lords of the Council, for in April, 1498, David Bruce, nephew and heir apparent to David Bruce of Clackmannan, brought an action against David Bruce of Clackmannan and David Bruce, his second son, “for wrongous alienation of the lands and barony of Clackmannan, with the pertinences lying in the sheriffdom of Perth.” The seal of procutory was challenged on the ground that it was not the proper seal. The case does not seem to have been decided and the only echo we hear is that Sir William Scot of Balweary, knight, as curator at lites to David Bruce the pursuer turned sick.

This same Edward Bruce deserves a word in passing.
He comes again into the picture on the 20th July, 1533, for on that date James V. gives him protection in his lands and possessions “for services on the English Embassy.” He was apparently a man with a definite flair for diplomacy, and this flair becomes a definite genius in his son of the same name, who, after serving as ambassador to England in 1598, accompanied Lord Mar in 1601 to convince England of the rights of James to the throne. So successful was he in this that he was created Baron Kinloss in 1602, and the succession of James to the throne of England proved the most peaceful in history.

The family division of the Bruces must have been patched up in some way before the middle of the century, however, for on 20th July, 1545, Sir David Bruce handed over to David Bruce, Jr., of Kennet, a tenement and two crofts of land in the town, and this was witnessed to by David Bruce of the Green. This is not the only indication that the family of Kennet were in sore straits for a letter of Reversion, dated 20th July, 1569, shews that Bruce was in debt to Blackadder of Tulliallan to the extent of two sums of 800 merks each, these sums to be paid within the Parish Kirk of Clackmannan “on a Sunday forenoon, during the time of prayers.“ The sky brightened, fortunately, for the family before the end of the century, for the eldest son in 1599, while in his marriage contract he signed away the half of the Tower Wester Kennet, Manse, place, orchards and coal, received the handsome tocher of 3,500 merks.

During this formative period in the story of Scotland, however, the most fundamental reform was in the religious habits of the people. At the beginning the old church, entrenched behind three hundred years of endowments and prestige held sway and, unheeding the rumbling of prophetic voices sank lower into sloth and indolence. At the end the people had created a new church and were directing its policy and sustaining its enthusiasm. A portent of coming disaster to the old institution can be felt in Clackmannan itself, for in 1545 just on the eve of the Reformation, young John Bruce is charged with literally stealing the teinds, shares, etc, of the lands of "Grasmerston," which belonged really to the Abbey of Cambuskenneth. It was a black day for the old church when Abbot Alexander had to raise legal action to retrieve the just and lawful dues of his abbey. Not the strongest nobleman in the land would have dared to do this in the days gone by, and it illustrates into what contempt the Church had fallen. We may well believe that when in in 1560 Knox re-organised the church, abolishing papal and prelatical authority and jurisdiction, young Bruce made no protest. The violence of the religious turmoil left the buildings of the old church neglected and and unused, and it was this neglect rather than deliberate destruction -apart from image breaking - which accounts for the ruin of these buildings to-day. The authority of the preachers, with their power of boycotting (excommunication), became a theocracy. The supernatural claims of these pulpiteers to dominance in matters public or private were the main cause of a century of war and tumult. The Preachers became, what the nobles had been, the opponents of authority; the Stuarts were to break them and be broken on them till 1688. In the hands of the ministers a Calvinism more Calvinistic than Calvin’s was the bitter foe of freedom of life, of conscience, and of religious tolerance. On the other hand, unlike the corrupt clergy whom they dispossessed, they were almost invariably men of pure and holy life; stainless in honour; incorruptible by money; poor and self-sacrificing; and were not infrequently learned in the original languages of the scriptures. Many were thought to be possessed of powers of healing and of prediction; in fact, a belief in their supernormal gifts, like those of Catholic saints, was part of the basis of their prestige. The lower classes, bullied by sabbatarianism and deprived of the old revels, were restive and hostile; but the educated middle class was with the preachers; so were many lesser country gentry; and the nobles, securing the spoils of the church, were acquiescent.” Allowing for Andrew Lang’s little prejudices, this may be taken as the situation up and down the land in 1560.

In these circumstances, the arrival of John White in the parish in 1562 as the settled reader and exhorter of the church would be a matter of real concern to the rank and file. There would be little of a struggle with the remnant of the old Church, for they saw little of the monks or abbot of Cambuskenneth, and to have a preacher of their very own, who lived amongst them and inspired them with his enthusiasm, must have pleased them immensely. It is most likely that he conducted his public worship along the lines indicated by John Knox in his Liturgy and used the old building as his church, but he would not, of course, enjoy the perquisites of the old Church. He lived almost certainly on the freewill offerings of the congregaton. He remained for four years, building up the people in the Reformed faith, and when he left he was followed in 1567 by Walter Millar, described as “exhorter” simply. Millar had the somewhat difficult task of supervising the souls not only of Clackmannan but also of Culross, and for this impossible task he was rewarded with the sum of 40 merks per year. This, at any rate, is the stipend with which he is credited in the Register of Ministers, but it is more than probable that the brighter spirits of his extended parish saw he was not actually in want. What is of real interest is that by 1567, evidently, the teinds had been somewhat stabilised, so as to permit of a fixed sum being allocated to the preacher, where a portion of these 40 merks came from is revealed by the Charge of the Temporality of Kirk Lands, where an entry relating to this parish runs:-

“Abbey of Scone: Item: the compter chargis him with the feu-deute of all and sindrie the abbottis landis or croft lyand in the town of Clakmanane, callit the Stewartis Bank, set in few to Gilbert Couston younger extending yeirlie to 6/8.”

This appears to be the piece of ground, which Sir Geoffrey, after receiving it from Alexander II. gifted to the sacrist of Scone on the 24th February, 1236. The sum may not be large, but the pedigree is long!

How long Millar was able to subsist on the 40 merks we do not know exactly, but he must have moved to a more lucrative place before the 2nd June, 1573, for on that date Patrick Layng witnesses a testament as the minister of Clackmannan. Later in 1574 he is designed as “reader,” as also in 1580. Layng, too, made his stay short, for James Dalmahoy is described as the minister in 1576, and he was evidently the minister until 1585. Dalmahoy is assigned a stipend of £71 with the Kirk land, which is to be paid out of the wealth of the Abbey of Cambuskenneth by the taxmen or parishioners of their five kirks, viz., Clackmannan, Tullibody, Cambuskenneth, Tillicoultry and Alva. This same Dalmahoy began his ministeral career as an exhorter at Cambuskenneth, having been a dean there in its Augustinian days, and later in 1574 he was appointed a reader there. His duties seem to have taken him away from Clackmannan, and it is indeed doubtful if he lived there at all, as he had the choice of five places to live in, and so a reader was appointed, by name Thomas Myll, whose stipend was fixed at £16 with Kirkland, to be paid out of the third of Cambuskenneth. It is likely that the minister was carrying out Knox’s idea of the superintendent, and a very useful idea it was in the days when competent preachers and ministers were exceedingly scarce.

These early ministries were amazingly short, for a new incumbent appears in Clackmannan in 1585, Alexander Wallace by name, a graduate of the university, and he after a ministry of five years moved on to Fossoway. Indeed, it appears that there was a kind of exchange between the ministers of Fossoway and Clackmannan, for Richard Wright came from Fossoway to Clackmannan in 1591. This preacher, who began a ministry of 35 years in the parish, had been actually a reader in the Chapel Royal from 1574 to 1580, and he seems to have had the ear of the throne, for Charles I. presented his son Edward to the parish in succession to his father in 1626. The religious life of the burgh and district seems to have moved smoothly on during these years, and the people settled down to the new religious regime without feeling the loss of the old. Even though the first fine flush of the Reformation was waning, and royal patronage again lifted its head, religion was a clean and pure thing, to which men raised their eyes with hope.

And yet, if the reform of religion effected no spectacular and public change in the town, the century was to see, before it closed, a notable and impressive change in the ways of justice. The sheriff for generations had held his court at the Mercat Cross, under the canopy of heaven, exposed to all the rigours of the northern climate, and in addition he was compelled to retain all malefactors, awaiting justice, within his own house, a troublesome, unpleasant and indeed dangerous procedure. Such inconvenience was accentuated by Clackmannan being “the head burgh of the said sheriffdom," and by the fact that the sheriff, a Menteith of Kerse, lived outside the shire. Throughout the country tolbooths had been built in each sheriffdom, and Clackmannan was on the point of being neglected, when William Menteith presented a petition to Parliament for the “biggan” of a tolbooth, and this was granted on the 29th of April, 1592. It was to be “where courts may be holden, justice administered, and malefactors and transgressors may be kept and warded until justice may be administered upon them according to their demerits." The site chosen was “upon the common high street thereof, by wast the Croce where the same may maist commodiously stand and be best spared.” This direction is a little confusing, because the Cross stands to the west of the Tolbooth to the present day, and not the Tolbooth to the west of the Cross. Either the site originally chosen was altered to the east side of the Croce, or the expression has changed in its meaning, which is more probable. The cost of the building was calculated to amount to £284, and this money was to be raised by taxing the whole lands of the sheriffdom. And so Clackmannan watched rising before its eyes the walls of the house of justice, and the majesty of the law increased in its estimation. Law and order were ensured throughout the burgh, and so impressive did this means of justice appear to the inhabitants that when the Court-house was opened the witnesses protested against giving their evidence “behind closed doors.” But these early fears fled, and the Tolbooth continued to dispense justice for 200 years, before its glories and triumphs were transferred to the adjoining rising town of Alloa. But the steeple still rears its head high into the air, and the old bell, gifted by Sir Laurence Dundas in 1765, still rings out over the county town each night.*

* It is worth noting that Lady Clackmannan, presumably the wife of Sir Robert Bruce, was appointed a Maid of Honour to Prince Henry at Stirling Castle, 19th Feby., 1593. See Mar and Kellle Papers, Vol I., p.41.

It must have been at this period, also, that Bruce of Clackmannan built the fine baronial mansion, that was once attached to the Tower. It stood on the western side of the Tower and with its fine turrets and crow's foot steps it was a worthy residence for the laird. It was this building and not the Tower which was the real residence of Bruce. This fine pile has now completely vanished, not a stone remaining, only the disappointing and trifling Renascence doorway of the Tower itself being left to tell the tale. Farrington’s sketch gives a capital idea of the baronial mansion.


The seventeenth century was in some respects the most vital and exciting in our history. It witnessed changes of the most profound character in the life and institutions of the people, and the nation as a whole was a very much different entity at its close from what it was at its opening. During its chequered progress the crowns of England and Scotland were made one, thus ending the old hesitation between a French and an English alliance, but the years that followed were to see that crown rolling in the dust, and Cromwell riding triumphantly over the heads of royalty. The stiff-necked Stuart dynasty were to be given a second chance, only to throw it also away, and after a bloodless escape another king and his queen ruled in their place with greater wisdom and more compromising tact. So the century saw not only rebellion and civil war, a commonwealth and restoration, but also abrupt and determined changes in the monarch himself. And if the changes were kaleidoscopic in politics, they were no less so in religion. The Church was finding its feet, after the turmoil of the Reformation, and had still before it its ultimate constitution. After breathless alternations between Episcopacy and Presbyterianism, relieved only by the austere Puritanism of Cromwell, William at last established the Church broad-based on the suffrage and support of the people. If it turned out to be a church more powerful and a shade too tyrannical, it was nevertheless strong for the best moral welfare of the nation, energetic in the repression of wickedness, pure in the lives of its clergy, and increasingly eager to proclaim the gospel to the world.
The century had vitally changed the Church.

These national movements, though enacted far from the burgh on the Tower Hill, had yet repercussions there and in other county towns, and in the most curious and unsuspected ways the bigger affairs of the outside world wrought changes in quiet country places. In 1652-4, for instance, Cromwell waged his Dutch War, which had the immediate result of closing English ports, and so a certain Mr. Marjoribanks, an Edinburgh merchant, seeing his opportunity, paid £1,666 13s. 4d. a year for the right of working the coal at Kennet. From this time may be dated the thorough working of the coal of the district on a large and profit-making scale. It is hardly to be doubted, also, that the Commission on Manufactures of 1597, by developing the woollen industry, brought prosperity to the sheep farmers of the Ochils and originated the mills of the Hillfoots.

The same century witnessed also changes in the fortunes of the noble houses. The Bruces of Clackmannan maintained their dignity and allied their fortunes with that of Charles I., suffering with him in his suffering. So strongly Jacobite was the house, that David Bruce on 28th April, 1693, was fined £200 Scots for refusing to take the oath to William. In the same year the glory of the house was eclipsed by his having to sign a trust deed to his creditors. The House of Mar was likewise Jacobite in its sympathies, and it is clear that in the Cromwellian period it suffered some losses, particularly the Island and Forest of Clackmannan. Mar, it will be remembered, had rendered a signal service to James VI. when he accompanied Edward Bruce on 1601 to England and convinced the leaders of England that James was the lawful heir to the English crown. The king was not insensible of this debt, and while at Greenwich on the 10th June, 1610, he conceded to John, Earl of Mar, “for ambassadorial services,” among much else, “the ecclesiastical lands of Clackmannan and Tullibody.”

There is no reasonable doubt that these were the lands which belonged to the church of Clackmannan in the pre-Reformation days, having been gifted by David I. It is clear, moreover, from Sir Henry Bruce's Charter, that these forty acres formed a part of what is now Craigrie farmlands, and it is equally clear that this land passed from the one noble house to the other before the end of the century, and finally passed into the hands of the Dundases. Here, it would appear, is a fine example of how property, losing its owners in the fall of the Roman Church, passed into the royal hands, and from there changed hands twice within a century. Such changes both in the property and fortunes of nobles’ houses distinguished the seventeenth century.

The first event we have to note illustrates how closely identified were both law and the church in those post-Reformation days. "1st June, 1604. Letter of Reversion by Margaret Balfour, relict of Alexander Menteith of Gogar, binding herself on payment of £200 Scots, within the parish Kirk of Clakmannane, to resign in favour of David Balfour, fiar of Powhous, an annual rent of £20 Scots, due to her from his lands of Powhous, or any part thereof, in the parish of Logy and sherifdom of Clakmannane.”

While the idea of transacting money business inside the very House of God may appear to our minds to be repellant, in those days of scanty social intercourse the kirk was a point of constant contact, public worship was the one public occasion of the week and legal witnesses were not hard to find among the congregation. Indeed, there is something attractive in the ordinary affairs of life being carried through within the sacred precincts of the church, as if even the handing over of money can be a pious and hallowed deed. Other occasions arose, however, when the sanction of religion was dispensed with in the transactions of the law, and the laird of the burgh stood surety instead of the deity. An angry quarrel broke out between Patrick Blacader of Mylnehillis and a son of Johne Gib, the King’s servitor, in which Blacader seems to have assaulted young Gib, and threatened to repeat it. This was doubly serious in that he attacked a member of the royal household, and that it was viewed seriously is proved by the matter being brought before the Privy Council. Sir Robert Bruce was laird and it is probable that the accused was in his service, for a surety of two thousand merks was exacted from Bruce for the good conduct of Blacader, particularly that he would not harm James Gib. This surety, which was exacted on the 3rd January, 1607, implies that the method of settling disputes was rough and ready and the arm of the law was short. Even the worthy laird, who stood before the Privy Council to assure them of the good conduct of the irrepressible Blacader, was not too fine a gentleman to lift his own hands to vindicate his honour, and, indeed, so obstreperous did he turn out to be that on the 8th of July, 1613, he found himself inside the Castle of Edinburgh a prisoner in bonds. His fault was that he had shewn contempt for the Council at the very Council House Door, and heaped indignity on it, uttering threatening language against Partick Bruce of Fingask, who must have been a member of the Privy Council. One may conclude that his imprisonment was merely an effective way of cooling his ardour. As a matter of fact, none knew better than the Council and the King that the Laird of Clackmannan was a worthy pillar of constituted authority and justice, nor indeed could his incarceration have lasted long, for he was actually created a Justice of the Peace on the 20th of August, 1623. The royal favour, moreover, had already been shewn to Bruce and to his eldest son, on the 7th of February, 1607, when James “conceded to D. Robert Bruce and his eldest son the grounds and barony of Clackmannan. cum fortalicio, cum castris, advocatione ecclesiarum beneficiorum, capellanarianum, etc.”

Although royal charters continually granted to the Bruces of Clackmannan the lands of the barony, it has to be clearly understood that there still remained royal property in the burgh. Indeed, when we remember that by this time Wester Kennet, Easter Kennet, Shanbody and The Green had all been divided off from the original patrimony, the barony could have included little more than the lands round about the Tower Hill. James VI., at any rate, when he desired to recognise the thirty years of splendid service rendered to him by Lord Scone, fell back on his old possessions in the burgh, and among other gifts included “tenements and lands in Clackmannan.“ It is doubtful if the aged, noble would travel so far from his own seat to inspect the royal gift; the likelihood is that it represented for him merely some slight increase in his annual income. Even in royal charters the definitions of land and property are so vague that no map could be constructed shewing the ownership of each croft and tenement. The most exact type of charter resembles that granted to John Hay, of Easter Kennet, dated the 24th February, 1614, “confirming a garden and large land in the free town of Clackmannan, on the east part of the church thereof.” While illustrating the baffling disarray of these little properties, this proves that Easter Kennet ownership came right into the heart of the town, and must have been disjoined from the barony at some time. The confusion was still greater when a year later James gave to John, Earl of Mar, Lord Erskine, the churches of Tullibody and Clackmannan, with the power of calling the minister, but not the church of Alloway. This would seem to be in conflict with the right granted Sir Robert Bruce in 1607 of calling the minister of Clackmannan, unless Mar’s right referred only to the chapel at Sauchie, which was in the parish. With the kirklands and the church in his possession the Earl of Mar must have had a good say in the affairs of the old burgh of Clackmannan. On the 3rd of February, 1620, these kirklands were confirmed again, probably on the occasion of a new Lord Erskine succeeding to the title, and also the ancient island of Clackmannan, together with a small piece of land in the town. The star of Mar was in the ascendant.

The fortunes of the house of Mar did not rise alone, for the income of the minister of the parish appears to have improved greatly from the thin times of Walter Millar, who enjoyed a beggarly 40 merks per year. According to the official roll of 1614-1615, the Reverend Richard Wright, the minister of Clackmannan received the following stipend :-

“40 bolls victual, namely
12 bolls of meal.
12 bolls of beire.
1 Chalder of quhet oats.

300 marks money.

The vicarage of the baronies of Clackmannan, Sauchie, and Shanbody, with manse and glebe, to be paid out of the readiest fruits and rents of the abbacy of Cambuskenneth by the Earl of Mar, his heirs and successors, and others, intromittors with the fruits and rents of the said abbacy.”

This is a very considerable improvement within the first fifty years after the Reformation, and it is illuminating also, because it shews how both the king and the house of Mar maintained the rights of the parish in the defunct abbey, and conserved its interests effectually. It is clear that the Earl of Mar was strictly honourable in handling the abbey property and passing it on to the Clackmannan Church. While the explanation lies chiefly in the integrity of Lord Erskine, it is worth recalling that Richard Wright had been in close contact with James as Reader in the Chapel Royal, and these were days when a whisper in the ear of the king could echo in a corner of the kingdom. It is true that the stipend of the cleric could scarcely be designated as princely, and yet it compared favourably with the average incomes in the manses of Scotland at that time.

But if the house of Mar and the minister of the parish were prospering, the officers of justice were finding it difficult enough to hold their own. John Scobie was the sheriffs officers in 1617, and he encountered such opposition in the discharge of his duties that the matter was brought before the Privy Council, who viewed it in the following light :—

“January, 1617, John Scobie complains that as one of the sheriff-officers of Clakmannane he went to poind the readiest goods of David Bigholme in Banchrie for a debt to Andro McBeane in Cambus Mill. On 21st May he poinded a young ‘quoy,’ and having comprisit it at £6, offered it to the said David. On his refusal he took the animal towards Clakmannane. David roused his son, and gave him a sword, with which he ‘hocht the poore beist.’”

The offence could not but be deemed serious, but one must confess that the provocation was extreme. David was taken to Edinburgh, brought before the Council, and then committed to the Tolbooth. This little transcript from the life of the times, tells us the average price of a young heifer and indicates there was a market for selling cattle in the county town, and even though Scobie might have been armed with a proper warrant for his poinding, we feel our sympathies going out to the Bigholmes. There is ground for believing that the same Scobie was a shade too truculent in the discharge of his duties, for he met with an even warmer reception nearer home. On the 1st October, 1623, he complained to the Privy Council that one day, while supervising the shearers of his sheep, John Napier of Shanbody came forward and struck him with a great rod upon the head, face and shoulder, cutting the bridge of his nose. The reason for this violence was that Scobie had apprehended Napier’s brother-in-law, James Stewart of Rosyth. The Council, of course, had to uphold its representative, and Napier was denounced as a rebel, but Scobie, we suspect, had just met in Napier someone more than a match for his truculence.

While this case was pending, the sheriff was commissioned to hold courts within the Tolbooth of Clakmannane, “and try Angus Johnnesoun and Thomas McKewne, two common and notorious thieves, who were lately apprehended in the sheriffdom of Clakmannane, with the fang of two stollin horsse, taken by them from the lands of Milne of Gask, belonging to Lord Oliphant.” Five months later James Foirman and his son were apprehended with the fang of five stolen sheep upon them, and tried accordingly. Unfortunately, we have no record of the sentences passed on these prisoners, but if it was not whipping and hanging it was probably banishment from the realm. The Laird of Clackmannan, though differing from the Council in 1613 rather violently, and though not himself the sheriff, upheld the arms of justice in this matter we may depend, for we know that he attended Parliament in Holyroodhouse on the 22nd June, 1617, and he was created a Justice of the Peace of Clackmannan and Stirling on the 20th of August, 1623. This is not speculation, since the safety of the highway from Stirling to Culross was placed in the joint hands of Bruce and Sir John Preston on the 28th of May, 1627. Such an injunction by the Council reminds us of the danger attached to travelling even on the king’s highway, and measures an advance both in the value of human life and the efficiency of justice. Bruce of the Tower, it is certain, did his best to make the robbers of the highway tremble at the majesty of law.

And yet there was an amazing lack of respect for the law, which existed side by side with the most brutal punishments. It was comparatively easy to evade the officers of the law, but pity the man who was caught! An amusing incident of 1629 is recorded, which places the custodian of the law in a ludicrous position and compels us to give the palm to the thief :-

“29th Jany., 1629. In the action by Patrick Moresoun against William Dryisdaill portioner of Wester Sheardell, for the restoration to him of ‘certain evidents and writs, alledgit to have been in his hous in Clackmannane, and to have beene tane away by the said William, when as the said Patrick was in his bed and had layed the same writts under his hat upon his chamber boord ': the pursuer compeared not, whereupon the said William Dryisdaill protested that being now personally present and needy to answer the charge, it should not be further proceeded in without new summons and the payment of his expenses, which protest the Lords admitted.”

What lies between the lines here indicates that the worthy Sheriff-clerk was careless with his papers, and Drysdale was too clever for him. A year before this date the sheriff-clerk had complained that the thief had lodged with him, and while everyone was sleeping in the house he stole through all the papers that were lying beside the slumbering clerk, until he found a bond he himself had just granted to a collier in Sauchie for 200 merks. “The said Wm. most unhonestly took up the same bond, and opened my door, and quietly conveyed himself away forth with the same bond”; the sheriff-clerk concluding quite accurately, “the like of which treacherous deed has not been heretofore heard of in a country subject to law and justice.” The reverend heads of the Privy Councillors must have shaken with merriment, when they noticed that Morison had not the effrontery to press his charge. His hat was a poor protection for all his papers from such a night walker as Drysdale, and the Council would have asked him some awkward questions. So the thief walks off the stage with his head in the air!

Such a case was, however, becoming increasingly rare, for all the evidence goes to shew that the reins of authority were being tightened up, and in each sphere the power of the law was beginning to touch every man. The king’s determination to improve the trade and industry of the country was felt in the arrival in the town of Clackmannan of a barker and cordiner one day in the spring of 1620. It had been decided by the Privy Council that twelve cordiners were to be brought from England to teach the Scots “the true and upright form of tanning,” and one of these was instructed to reside in the burgh for a period. What kind of reception he got when he arrived is not recorded, but he would always have the protection of the sheriff and his officers, and no doubt the worthy Bruce in the Castle approved of his presence. It was rather tactless to tell the important people of the county town that they did not know the right way of tanning, but doubtless the Englishman learned this to his cost before he was long in the place. Whatever the practical result of the venture - and the sensible workmen of the burgh would soon learn whatever new he had to teach - the idea was a sound one and deserved success.

This move was followed up by a change in the Punishment of profiteering maltmen. In the reign of James VI. a statutory price had been fixed for the price of malt by Act of Parliament, and those who broke the law were summoned to Edinburgh to be tried. It was found, however, that the law was broken so frequently, and so many witnesses and offenders had to be transported to Edinburgh, that expenses mounted enormously, and so it was ordained that maltmen who offended against this law would in future be brought before the Commissioner (Robert Murray), who would summarily deal with them. This devolution of the central authority, while against the temper and mind of the government, was found to be unavoidable, and it appears in other departments of the national life.

Charles I. had not long ascended the throne, when he ordered that men would meet at stated times for military drill and the practice of arms, and as a result of the Council’s order, the sheriff stood on the steps of the Mercat Cross, one summer’s day in 1627, and proclaimed that a wapinschaw would be held on the 7th of August. This was the time of St. Bartholomew’s Fair, and the coincidence would be a happy one. But behind it we see the strengthening of the central authority, an authority that was to be bent and broken before the close of the century. It is doubtful if the wapinschaw was the success anticipated, because on the 20th December, of the same year the sheriff was instructed to find out the number and quality of the fencible persons in the parish in conjunction with the parish minister. Charles was early shewing his view of the clergy as an appendage of the crown, and he imposed on them a duty, which neither they nor their parishioners would very much relish. One is struck by the spectacle of the parish minister estimating the soldierly qualities of the gallants of the town. Perhaps Charles, having just presented Edward Wright, M.A. to the living, and because of his father having been a Reader in the Chapel Royal, counted on him as an out and out King's man, but in this he went far astray, for Wright was later a member of the historic Assembly of 1638, and in 1641 was called to the ministry of Glasgow Cathedral. It is most probable, indeed, that he was the Edward Wright, Principal of the College of Glasgow, who in 1671 petitioned the Privy Council regarding Isobel Browne. If so, we may take it that Wright followed the instinct of the Church at large, when he refused to go beyond reasonable limits in his loyalty to the crown.

It is very doubtful, also, if the king increased his popularity with the people of the parish, when he pursued his journey from Stirling to Dunfermline in the summer of 1633. An order was issued that the baggage of the entourage was to be conveyed by each community in turn, and Clackmannan was called upon to supply no less than 80 horses, with William Anderson and Robert Whyte acting as constables. Even although the royal procession created somewhat of an impression as it moved through the old burgh, the ultimate result of such a heavy demand on the resources of the district must have been a trail of suppressed resentment. Such an exercise of the royal prerogative was too obvious and too selfish to escape the notice of even humble folks.

One of the problems of that age and century was the idler and beggar.
The sheriff, we know, had certain powers to try idle men, masterful beggars and gipsies, but the Council became alarmed at the increase of those useless members of the community, and on 3rd August, 1629, it commissioned the Earl of Nithsdale to "ascertain the names of all idle and masterless persons in the kingdom, with a view to their being levied for the service of the King of Denmark." Although serfdom may nominally have disappeared from the land by the end of the fifteenth century, it seems but one remove from serfdom to press “masterless” men into the wars of a foreign prince. The beggar would be inclined to plead, and with no little justification, that whether he was “masterful” or “masterless” he was made to suffer!

If the government was alive to the menace of too many useless idlers, it was equally anxious to develop the harbours of the country and so open up fresh trade and commerce. The Council shewed a commendable energy in exploring the possibilities of the Forth as a waterway for traffic, and so keen was it to find out the navigable limits of the river that the worthy bailies of Burntisland, Kirkcaldy and Dysart were commissioned to prepare a report on the various depths of the water. During the early summer of 1635, therefore, these civic magnates might have been seen sailing steadily up the tortuous windings of the Forth, sounding here and there, and composing their report. They spent no little time at Kennetpans and Clackmannan Pow, and provided interesting and valuable information. Among other things they reported:-

“From Johne Yaird’s nuik* till they come to Clakmannan pow they found it a little shalder nor it wes in former times, but yet little or no great difference.”

* It is clear from Session Records, 5th July, 1697, that this is another name for Kennetpans.

“From Clakmannan pow and Alloway pow nairest to Clakmannan they found ane banke in the middle part of the river that wes dry at the low water and at spring stream tide.”

If they had been allowed more time they would have discovered a unique feature in the tides of the river, for the presence of a “leaky tide” has been noted here by more than one writer. Dr. Moodie describes it and says that “it happens always in good weather during the neap tides; and sometimes also during the spring tides, if the weather be uncommonly fine. When the water has flowed for three hours, it then runs back for about an hour and a half, nearly as far as when it began to flow. It returns immediately, and flows during another hour and a half to the same height it was at before: and this change takes place both in the flood and ebb tides. So that there are actually double the number of tides in this river that are to be found anywhere else.” The same feature is noticed again in 1842 in the same words by the Reverend Peter Balfour, and no later than 1933 a ship went aground in the river near Stirling through ignorance of this curious phenomenon. But the bailies worked well, and to some advantage, for at that time a very brisk trade was carried on between the ports of the Forth and the Low Countries. As the war with Holland shewed, the commerce of Scotland was closely linked up with the Continent, and so long as England placed tariff barriers on Scottish goods it was easier to trade with Holland than with England. But this overseas trade, while industrially helpful, brought with it certain risks to the health of the country, and the echo of the popular fear can be heard behind the injunctions of the Privy Council, issued on the 29th of September, 1635. Sir Robert Bruce and his son were appointed Commissioners “to prevent ships from the Low Countries quietly laying their plague stricken ashore, and so causing the spread of the plague.” One can picture a ship, stealing up under cover of the dark alongside the shore, and a small-boat pushing towards the beach, while the sailors lift out a helpless form and lay him close beside some little house, Where a worthy ploughman is sleeping. What is the surprise of the family when they rise to find a strange fellow at their door, far gone with the ravages of the fell disease! And so the Laird keeps a close look-out along the shore, lest the terrible plague break out in Clackmannan.

But an outbreak of a very different kind was threatening the kingdom as a whole, which was not without its effect on the life of the ancient town. Charles I. found himself lord of two lands, which differed in many ways, and not least in the vital matter of religion. It was his cherished wish that one system of religion should unite both England and Scotland, and holding the Erastian view, he planned to re-institute bishops into the simple Presbyterian church in Scotland, as the most effective way of governing it. To this end Laud was his ready tool, and together they prepared a new Service Book, more advanced in doctrine than even that of England, and when this was used on the 23rd of July, 1637, in St. Giles’ Cathedral, the anger and resentment of Scotland broke all bonds, and the king was set at defiance. It is one of the remarkable situations in history that a people, which in 1533 could acclaim Charles as their great and glorious king, could in 1637 defy his dearest desire. When it was clear to the Privy Council in Edinburgh that the whole of the country was inflamed against the policy of the king, they despatched messengers to London to effect some compromise, but all the Stuart stupidity in him rose to banish the thought. Petitions came pouring into the Chamber of the Council from every quarter, protesting against the outrageous Book of Service, and to the honour of Clackmannan be it stated that the worthy Edward Wright, though presented to the living by the king in 1626, signed his name to such a petition in September of the fateful year. At the desire of the General Assembly, and in view of the enraged and united people, the Council ordered that the old Confession of Faith of 1580, establishing Protestantism, should be signed again by the nation, and also a General Band to maintain the true religion and the King’s Majestie.

Nothing is more touching than the cruel incongruity of these loyal Scots, Who, while pledging their life’s blood to thwart the policy of their king, promised also to support and serve him. Only a one-idea-ed tyrant could have trampled upon the affections and loyalty of such people, and Charles was just such a tyrant. It was a great and thrilling hour in Scottish story for the high-born and the low crowded to Greyfriars to sign the deed, and soon the Council appointed Commissioners throughout the land to superintend the signing. The Earl of Mar, Sir Robert Bruce and Sir Thomas Hope of Cars were given the charge of Clackmannan, and men and women came crowding to the Cross on the 24th of September, 1638, to renew their faith in the reformed religion, and re-pledge their devotion to Charles. It illustrates the hopeless blindness of the Stuart that men like Wright, the parish minister, and Sir Robert Bruce, who just two years before had been created Justices of the Peace, and therefore pillars of his dynasty were now found arrayed against him. He might instal Sir William Livingston as sheriff - now that the Menteiths were extinct - and then Sir Thomas Hope, the able and ambitious lawyer, only to find that within three weeks Hope was helping with the signing of the National Covenant. The activities of the summer culminated in the uproarious and determined Assembly in Glasgow Cathedral in November, and here again the passion for religious liberty in the old burgh of Clackmannan was represented by the worthy minister of the parish, Edward Wright. It is a matter of common knowledge how Charles by his high-handed autocracy incensed both countries against him, until the divinity that hedged his kingship could not ward off the hands of his enemies, and with that mysterious word “Remember” he brought his life to an end on the scaffold.

Now, the disastrous policy of Charles had its effect upon the life of the nation, and this can be seen in the rapid changes that took place in the ownership of land. The Erskines in 1642 had received from the royal hands the benefice and Vicarage of Clackmannan and Robert Bruce, a feuer, had secured Easter Kennet without prejudice to the stipend of the minister and the price of the communion elements, but after Charles was executed the Keepers assumed the right of granting charters, and changes were more drastic and unexpected. The Island of Clackmannan, for instance, and the Forest, which for generations had been in the house of Mar, and the barony of Alloway were handed over to James Crechton, in 1649, and the following year a certain Francis Hermon of London - a nobody - acquired both the island and the sheriffdom while Clackmannan itself, with kirklands of Tullibody, was disposed of for 30,000 merks to James Drummond. In this charter of the Keepers the town is called “Ord,” a curious and otherwise unknown name for the burgh. By the end of the next year the Island, the Forest, the Mill and the Meadow changed hands to William Murray on payment to Lord Erskine of £24,610 and £1,230 for the sheriff-fee of Clackmannan and Stirling, and from Murray it passed to John Spence of Blair. In 1662 a certain Thomas Dawling bought the rents and emoluments of all the churches of Clackmannan “with its pendicle called the church and chapel of Alloway,” and in 1664 a bold creature called Alexander Milne was appointed to succeed the Earl of Mar, undertaking to render the same services.

On the other side of the town property was changing hands almost as quickly. Just when the tension of religious feeling was at breaking point and the Covenant was being signed, the Bruces of both Clackmannan and Wester Kennet were buying from David Hay, the son of the Session Clerk, the property of Craigtown for the sum of 16,000 merks. It is worth while to mention that in acquiring this they undertook to pay also their proportion for the Minister and Reader of the parish, "and also to furnish several chalders of pow-wood yearly for the use of the pans of the said David Hay, and also in regard to the coal in the said lands." This would appear a large commitment, but the Bruces must have seen a likely purchaser coming along, for within six months they disposed of Craigtown for the handsome sum of 24,000 merks, which appears even for those days to have been pretty good business! Stuart of Rosyth was the buyer, and it is to be hoped he did not regret the bargain. On the strength of this good deal, Bruce of Clackmannan was able to buy from lord Kilpont Easter Kennet with the manor place, an acre of land, the tenement called Baxter's Land, etc. for 10,000 merks, while Bruce of Wester Kennet acquired Shanbody from Stewart of Rosyth on the 11th of August, 1647. Bruce of Kennet signalised his old age by giving the little estate of Garlet, with teinds and 3 acres, and pasturage for 16 cows to his second lawful son Alexander Bruce, thus establishing a new branch of the family. Shortly afterwards, at a great age, Robert Bruce died, carrying with him the credit of improving the family fortunes and extending the estate of Kennet to more or less its present size.

Unfortunately, the story of the Clackmannan Bruces is not quite so happy.
Robert Bruce seems not to have died before 1642, for his disposition, which incidentally mentions the local bridge as "St. Mary's Brig" and not "Mary Bridge,"» is dated the 6th July of that year. Sir Henry who followed was a man of character, so much so, indeed, that when the sheriffdom was resigned by Sir Alexander Hope in 1666, he was appointed to succeed, and he thus acquired the cherished rights and perquisites of holding the markets and fairs in the burgh, the markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and the Fairs on June 15th and August 7th or thereabouts.*

* The day of the Fair was changed in 1663 by Act of Parliament. VII., 465. Wallace’s Sher. of Clack., p. 98.

It must have been particularly satisfying to Sir Henry that the sheriffdom was at last in the hands of a Bruce, for it had been the hereditary right of the Menteiths for generations since the time of David II., and had, indeed, been abolished in this sense by Cromwell during the Commonwealth.*

* Bruce took a fruitless interest in repairing Tullibody Bridge in 1665. Acts Parl. Scot., VII., app. 97.

And yet even with the fees of the sheriffdom and the duties of the Fairs Sir Henry, through his large and extravagant tastes, was unable to build up the family fortunes. When he died in 1674 his son David was served heir to him, and he gave up his testament dative on the 10th September, 1675, to John Buchanan, the sheriff-depute of Clackmannan, shewing that he possessed:-

3,500 chalders of coals.
£8,000 free money.

and he owed :-
£1,333 6s. 8d. for funeral, drugs and medicine.

The assets and the liabilities, both, strike one as extraordinarily even amounts, and by their very neatness arouse one’s suspicions. Certainly young David’s own suspicions were soon aroused, for his father’s affairs were left in the wildest possible confusion, so wild and so confused that in 1693 he was compelled to sign a trust deed himself. Perhaps his indiscreet adherence to the falling star of the Stuart dynasty prejudiced his prospects, and this combined with the loss of the sheriffdom and the failure of his coal mines in Sauchie and Clackmannan roused his creditors to such a pitch of fury that they made to lay violent hands on him, and were only restrained by an Act of Parliament. Where some of his wealth wen to is indicated by the Sheriff-depute of Robert Stewart, who "fined the heall inhabitants within the town of Clackmannan and green thereof in five pounds Scots each of them for stealing and resetting of coall contra to several Acts of Court thereanent . . .” It is good to learn that there were twenty-one righteous people in the city, who were exempted from the fine, the Schoolmaster having an honourable first place. One looks in vain for the name of the parish minister among the honest folk.
His good name is saved by the fact he did not exist.
The church was vacant at this time.

Stewart, whose father was Sir Robert of Tillicoultry, held a court in Clackmannan on the 30th September, 1698, presented his commission, admitted procurators and officers, swore in Wm. Morrison as Clerk, and without trying any cases he brought his one and only court to an end. A blank of twelve years follows, when no record was taken of how the court was conducted, or who acted as sheriff, until in 1708, Col. William Dalrymple bought the sheriffdom, along with the estate of Clackmannan from the creditors of David Bruce.

If the government of Charles affected the estates of the district, it profoundly moved the religion and life of the common people. His insistence on the episcopal system produced a violent reaction, so that the grip of the church became stronger until in 1648 the Assembly was able to ordain that every elder was to have certain bounds, which he was to visit every month, and to report scandals and abuses to the session. We shall see that these instructions were faithfully carried out in the town of Clackmannan. Even after Charles was executed, and his son fell heir to both his troubles and his Erastianism, the people were called upon to form themselves into a militia, with the Laird of Clackmannan as their head. Even with this matters did not run smoothly, for a quarrel arose between John Nicolson of Tillicoultry and Major Bruce, the former claiming that since he was supplying the horses, he should have the command. Charles II. had, no doubt, his eye fixed on the rebellion that was brewing in the west, for two years before, on 21st November, 1666, he had been compelled to order the heritors of Clackmannan to enlist under General Dalziel to resist the rising in the south-west.

It is very doubtful if there was any enthusiasm for the royal cause, nor would the rank and file relish the demand that followed in a few years for 500 men to be levied from Scotland for the navy, and the town had to supply one, who was to be “uplifted out of the place.”

The life of Clackmannan during the seventeenth century can be seen from a quite different angle, if we peruse the records of the Kirk Session. These records begin in 1627, and the very first entry of 7th June reveals a body of men that were anxious for the spiritual welfare of their community, since they not only imposed a fine of 6s. 8d. on those who had no reasonable excuse for absence from church, but they despatched the elders who took up the collection to look round the town during the time of sermon and round up the absentees. On the 22nd July “it was ordainit that whosoever should receive any stranger for to remain in their house without a testimonial brought from the parish they were last in should be under the pain of fortie shilling. Here we have an insight into the strong territorial system of the church in those days, and a little imagination will shew that by this means the church was able to apply remarkable pressure on recalcitrant members. There was thus no escape from the discipline of the Kirk Session, for wherever the culprit went he was faced with the same machinery of the Church. We are accustomed to think that the period of Charles I. was gay with all the ease and elegance of the cavalier spirit, and yet on the 6th January, 1628, a man and his wife, who were caught winnowing corn on the Sabbath, were sentenced to make their public repentance before the congregation and pay 13s. 4d.

Some of the faults that brought a member before the court strike the modern mind as harmless and innocent, but of course they are to be regarded in the light of the serious view of the Sabbath and the Church. Playing before and after the sermon was punished on 29th April, 1649, while drinking ale and selling ale during the time of the sermon were both punished on 26th May, 1650. For “gathering nuts,” for “Shaking a Plum tree,” and for “flyting” on the Sabbath, Clackmannan folks were hailed before the Session and made to repent and pay fines. It is clear there was a great amount of “flyting ” practised at that time, both on Sabbaths and week-days, and some of the expressions used are reported with an almost shocking fidelity. Troubles arose over the stealing of a broom, calling a woman a witch, erecting a headstone over a tomb, and all such were brought to the Session for judgment. One particularly awkward kind of situation was where, after a proclamation of marriage had been made, the lady changed her mind. This was, indeed, so common that the Session compelled intending couples to place a deposit of 12s. Scots in the hands of the Box-Master. The incident in Crockett’s “Stickit Minister” does not belong entirely to the world of the fictitious, for Marion Waterston on the 27th Sept., 1674, changed her mind too, after the banns had been proclaimed, and her deposit went into the box for the poor.
Little comfort for the disappointed bridegroom!

This poor box was, as a matter of fact, one of the important institutions of the community. It was augmented from various sources. First, there was the ordinary collection of the congregation, for of course the stipend was supposed to have been paid regularly to the minister from the teinds, and the church was maintained in its fabric by the heritors. All the fines for breaking the law of the church, the fee for erecting a headstone, each shilling for ringing the great kirk bell at a burial, the charges on the various mortcloths of the Session, all went to swell the coffers of the box. Besides this, gifts were often made directly as by Robert Bruce of Kennet, who presented 100 merks for this object on June 28th, 1674.

And the box needed all these sources of revenue, for the demands upon it were heavy. In days when no parish relief was available, no insurance scheme in force, and no old age pension payable, the infirm and unfortunate looked to the kirk and did not look in vain. A poor blind woman gets four shillings, on 15th September, 1639, twenty shillings are given for the prisoners at Algiers on November 30th, 1680, and poor Anna C1arkston’s heart must have leaped when she heard that the Session were presenting her with four nice new cups to adorn her cupboard, and replace her old basin with a clean, spotless new one. In addition to such sundry allocations, there was a regular list of pensioners, who benefitted by the box, so that we may be sure very few lived in actual poverty. It was reported to the Kirk Session, for instance, that on the 3rd April, 1687, there were only five poor people in the parish. The Privy Council, indeed, were not above making demands upon these financial resources, for on 12th February, 1688, in obedience to an Act of Council, a contribution of four shillings was sent for the repairing of the pier at Anstruther. The seventeenth century must have been a period of comparative prosperity, for the sum in the Poor Box steadily increased throughout that period until on July 3rd, 1687, there were £137 Scots in it, and bonds to the value of 620 merks Scots. Whatever faults the church of that day portrayed, and these faults have been well advertised by the modern reactionaries, it cannot be denied the golden virtue of personal and understanding charity.

Reading between the lines of these records, it is interesting to notice how the church changed with the changing conditions of the century. While never flinching in applying its discipline without discrimination to laird and cotter, the ecclesiastical system was able to change from the mild episcopalianism of Charles I. to the rigid presbyterian order of Cromwell’s time, and again to the rabid and yet easy-going rule of the Restoration, to be at last established by law on the democratic basis of the people’s will. When James Forsyth came from Bothkennar on the 10th September, 1673 to be minister at Clackmannan, he was “presented by Sir Henrie Bruce of Clackmannan” and was “instituted to the foresaid Church of Clackmannan and the ministrie there.” Be it noted that he was not inducted by the Presbytery, but this did not hinder his zeal in modernising affairs in the parish. Within a few months he enhanced the pulpit with a fine new green cloth, adorned with silk fringes, costing 16s., had stimulated the interest of Bruce of Kennet in the kirk, had stopped drinking during the sermon time, and had created an elder the Master of the Box to be answerable to the Session for all transactions. Even soldiers in the Clackmannan Company of the Militia who were as far as Glasgow he followed up and visited with the Session’s rebuke and punishment. Soon he found that the seats of the church were rotting, and the heritors were called upon to face the expense of new pews. Then arose the problem of allocating these box pews, for the Earl of Mar, the Laird of Clackmannan, the Laird of Kennet, Major Bruce and Alexander Bruce of the Garlet (called “Garland,” by the way) had all to be satisfied first, and then the other heritors and feuars afterwards. Between the inevitable worry of such allocations, and the wearisome task of administering church discipline, Forsyth seems to have grown tired, for in 1687 he was translated to St. Ninians, and was followed by Daniel Urquhart. The political complexion of Forsyth can be seen from a minute of the Kirk Session, dated the 9th of August, 1685:—

"Session convened: the which day Thanksgiving Sermon is publicly intimate to be on Thursday nit for the late national deliverance from the unnatural invasion and ingrate rebellion of the late Earle of Argyle and his treacherous adherents and conspirators against the life of his presente Majestie James the 7th.”

James ascended the throne in February, and it is clear from this that the Argyle-Monmouth insurrection had evoked a national expression of loyalty. The nation had still to discover that his coronation assurances were worthless, and the brutality of Jeffrey’s sentences alienated its sympathy. Still Forsyth persisted in celebrating the birthday of the King by a special service and sermon on the 14th of October in both 1685 and 1686, while Urquhart, not to be out-done by the Jacobite sympathies of his forerunner, read the Act Contra Slanderers the following year from the pulpit and preached a special sermon on James VII. Urquhart knew as little as did James that William of Orange had actually completed his arrangements for landing at Torbay at that very moment. But when the new king and queen came, the parish minister of Clackmannan was not unduly perturbed. He carried on as merrily proclaiming with joy the accession of William and Mary, and preached as passionately on giving thanks to God for the new king as he had on the old one. It is well known that William settled the government of the church in Scotland in 1690, and each minister was anxiously waiting to see whether it would be episcopalian or presbyterian. Urquhart held on till 1690 at least, and seemed to be popular, for his Sabbath collections mounted to 59 shillings, a figure far in excess of former days. The records of the Session close on the 30th March of that year, and when they re-open in 1696 it is to minute the complaint of the Session Clerk that the Laird of Clackmannan had burnt the precious minutes covering these six years:-

“August 3, 1696. The said day Mr. William Smith being called before them compeared, and being asked by the Moderator for the Registers of the Session, answered he never had any but Minutes. The Moderator craved that he might deliver up those to him to be visited, who replyed, the Laird of Clackmannan had them, he was asked how he came to give them to the Laird of Clackmannan, answered that the Laird of Clackmannan took them surreptitiously out of his studie and burnt them when he was at Edinburgh as a witness for Mr. Daniel Urquhart: upon which the Session appointed two of their number Thomas Brown and William Patone to go with the said Mr. Smith to the Laird to enquire for the said Minutes, who returned answer that the Laird said he had burnt them. The Session ended with prayer.”

The Session might have ended with shock instead of prayer, had they realised the crime of the Laird! Presumably the records engrossed some unsavoury details about the Laird, but he had no right to lay hands on them, still less to commit them to the flames. David Bruce did an ill turn to Clackmannan and to the science of history when he made that gap in its long and honourable story. Nevertheless, although the records fail us, we know from the statement of a tutor at Kennet, that Urquhart was the episcopal incumbent up till March, 1696, when he was brought before the Synod in Edinburgh, and either for Jacobite sympathies or something worse, was deprived of the parish. Nor was he the only one to object to the change of government and the Settlement. The Laird was obviously with him, the Church Treasurer had nothing to hand over to the new office-bearers, and Thomas Brown had to report that there was no Church Communion Plate. That some resentment existed in the town against the change over from Episcopacy is proved by a case of cursing that was brought before the Kirk Session:-

“19 March, 1699. This day Janet Barron being accused of cursing was cited together with the witnesses, viz., Janet Young and Margaret Hardie, she being called, compeared, and being interrogate if she was at any time guilty of cursing the people of God in a malicious manner, answered negatively. Janet Young and Margaret Hardie being called compeared and being sworn etc., Declared that they heard her curse all the Presbyterians, and that she had seen a vision of their ruine and the like, but did not remember the particular expressions, they being about the change of government. She was rebuked and admonished.”

And yet although a few might have cherished a lingering love for James and Episcopacy, Mr. Robert Gourlay of Tillicoultry had no difficulty in gathering a Session round him, and keeping the congregation on an even keel for the period of the vacancy. During these four years he maintained the discipline of the Church, and although a few women went to the curate at Dollar for baptism for their children, his fairness of mind and mediating temper won the hearts of the folk, so that men who came into the Session as enemies, shook hands before him, and went out as friends. In the carrying on of the ministry of the gospel he was helped by the Rev. John Turnbull of Alloa, who in his Diary records that he preached at Clackmannan on the 5th September, 1697. But the congregation was interested more in that young tutor at Kennet. Each time he mounted the pulpit he made their hearts burn with his scorching prophetic piety, and soon he set the best minds of the Scottish breed pouring over his eloquent words for more than a hundred years.


One day in 1696, when the March wind was whistling down the valley of the Forth, a young man stood at the door of Kennet House and announced he had brought Andrew Fletcher with him from Edinburgh. The boy of nine, straight from the high school in Edinburgh, was probably dressed in the smart silk breeches, long hose and buckled shoes of the period; the tutor would wear the rough homespun of the faithful Scottish workman, for his father was a cooper in the southern town of Duns. His sallow, dyspeptic complexion and serious face betokened a solemn calling and a constant struggle to repress his ready wit. The pupil was a stepson of Lieut.-Col. James Bruce, sixth of Kennet, an erstwhile lieutenant of Argyle’s in his premature rebellion of 1685, and a henchman of William of Orange. Mrs. Bruce, his mother, a daughter of Lord Mersington, was first the wife of Fletcher of Aberlady, and young Andrew was taken to Kennet to be under motherly care and special tuition. The care and the tuition were alike fated to be ineffective, for he died before he reached twenty-three.

The young tutor of twenty was destined to be world famous and his printed word to be pondered by the cottar and the courtier. For a hundred and fifty years Boston’s Fourfold State surmounted the Family Bible in every honourable home, his name was a household word, and his memory was a sweet influence in Scottish religious life.

And so this ancient and royal town, which enrols kings and poets among its immortals, opened its door not only to a tutor but a saint. Not, of course, the ordinary orthodox type of saint - penniless, passionless and patriarchal - but a saint of Scotland, the fine blossom of its persecutions, the quintessence of its century of suffering. He was, indeed, the precise reverse of the old Catholic saint, for he was neither poor, nor celibate, nor obedient. He enjoyed a good stipend, he married and had a large family.
He repudiated the policy of his Church more than once.
But he was a saint, in the richest and grandest meaning of the term: he made God real to countless souls.

Now, it is well worth while pausing for a little over the visit of Boston to Clackmannan, and this for several reasons. His Diary is the only full and intimate record we possess of any individual who has ever lived in the parish. This is to say that we know more about him, in a personal and emotional way, than we know of any other inhabitant, and this alone makes his stay historic. But, in addition, we discover a curious and very interesting reaction in Boston to the place and the people and the church life, and this reaction indicates valuable historical data, which cannot be neglected. The physical stare of the people and their spiritual deadness awed and frightened the young preacher. If, also, Boston dwells fully on the attitude of the people, the reaction of the people - so faithful is his Diary - becomes just as apparent, and so altogether a close-up portrait of the youthful and ardent preacher is worth attempting.

The cooper of Duns was a man of strong convictions, and in that age of fitful loyalties, he stood four-square against the pretensions of Prelacy. Indeed, he had to suffer for his firm adherence to Presbyterian principles, and not only endured the loss of this world’s gear but lay in the darkness of Duns prison. His wife offered £50 Scots for his release, but the sheriff-depute was impregnable, and meantime the little Thomas lay in prison with his father to keep him company. These days ended, but the impression did not end, for in the later years when Boston refused to take the Oath of Abjuration the darkness of Duns prison shadowed his life like a cloud. The young lad was fortunate in having the schoolmistress lodging with his mother, for with his quick mind he made such rapid strides in learning that before he was seven he not only read but loved and pondered over the Bible. On this foundation he built a quite astounding structure of knowledge, for in the sequestered study of Simprin he was able to retain his grip of the original Hebrew and Greek of the Scriptures, to elaborate a theory of the Hebrew accents - a most complicated and baffling subject - which he composed in elegant Latin, and to cultivate an acquaintance with Dutch. Those who enjoy deriding the stalwarts of yesterday's religion must remember that their fine fervour was born not of ignorance but of knowledge.

They were learned men.
As a boy Boston was preserved from much of the viler side of Scottish common life, although, good psychologist that he was, he measured the terrible harm wrought on a child’s mind by the sight of indecency. At eight he went to the grammar school, where his only relaxation from hard study was to muster and command his school-fellows like a captain his company of troops. He “kept the kirk punctually,” listening to the Episcopalian clergy, but neither the sermon nor the church gripped him, until in his twelfth year at Newton of Whitsome, Henry Erskine, the father of the immortal pair, wakened him into spiritual life. So sensitive did his soul become that to his last days he was tortured with the memory of playing nine-pins on a Sunday on the top of Duns Law. So keen was the lad on hearing the great Erskine, that summer and winter he trod the lightsome way to Rivelaw, and waded the Blackwater many a time in frosty weather. This impression on his soul was deepened by two other lads of his school joining him frequently in prayer, reading and discussion on the higher things, and led to his starting a time-table for his praying. He confesses that this, so far from being a help was a definite hindrance, making him almost hate the prayer life.
Its only good was to warn him of the peril of such mechanical religion.
The natural seriousness of the boy’s mind was not much abated by the sight of a decayed body in the churchyard, which adjoined his school, These preoccupations, a trifle morbid perhaps for a lad so young, did not injure his intellectual attainments, for he says: “And before I left school (at thirteen and a half), I generally saw no Roman author but what I found myself in some capacity to turn into English.“

Such a good linguist was obviously fitted for an academic career, and the cooper of Duns wanted sorely to put his laddie to college. Boston's mother was a pale colourless person, for whom he can find no word of praise. Her death, just at this sensitive age in his youth, affected him little. His failure to be engaged as manservant to Dr. Rule, Principal of Edinburgh College, carrying with it the chance of a college education for nothing, affected him much more deeply. He tried to redeem this slack period by writing legal documents for a notary public and reading the Roman historian Justin, and meanwhile his father, risking all - like many a Scottish father - on the education of his son, determined to send him to college and pay the cost. Little did he know when he chid his son of 16 for his expensive education, that his name would not be the cooper of Duns but the father of Thomas Boston. Nor did a student ever live more sparingly, so sparingly that hunger made him faint not once or twice, even into his Clackmannan period. Old John Boston never spent £11 to better purpose than this, for it paid the College and Professors’ fees and upkeep for three years, and allowed Thomas to graduate on the 9th of July, 1694.

With a presbytery bursary of the value of £80*, the lad at the age of 18, pushed on to the study of theology under the great and brilliant Professor George Campbell, whose teaching together with a richer diet prepared Boston for the ministry.

* £1 Scots was worth only 1s.8d. Sterling.

When his curriculum was completed he did a little tutoring in philosophy, and then after quick alternations of hope and despair secured the post of teacher in the parish school of Glencairn, his salary to be 100 merks per year.*

* One merk was worth only 1s 1 1/3d. Sterling.

Although much against the grain, he went to teach there, but after a month gladly accepted the chance of a tutoring post, through his school-chum, Murray. Giving the schoolboys back their money, he posted back to Edinburgh, where he took young Fletcher in charge. Glencairn has to be thanked for one thing: there Boston started his marvellous diary. This is the young tutor who arrived at Kennet that bleak March day.

His work was simple and easy enough.
The teaching was done at the grammar school of Clackmannan by William Smith, a stout old Jacobite, Whose leanings towards James brought him deposition from the Session Clerkship. The wily William felt the blow, for on the 30th January, 1701, he approached the reverend Session, disowning his loyalty to the late government and "acknowledging the present government of the Church as the only government instituted by Christ." Boston could have had little in common with such a slippery person, and despatched the servant to take Fletcher to school, he himself dropping into the class to shew his interest. Later in the year he tutored young Alexander Bruce, the soldier heir of Kennet, who in 1714 married Lord Balfour of Burleigh’s second daughter, and so brought this title to Kennet, though not till 1869. James Bruce, the younger brother, first learned from Boston and became later the Master of the Mint. Even so, the young pale-faced tutor found time to study, to cultivate the friendship of Turnbull of Alloa and Buchanan of Tulliallan, and to strike contact with the local worthies of religion.

Boston conceived, however, in the style of his day that his duties went further than this.
The Laird of Kennet was absent on military service, and the Mistress, too, was seldom there, so that Thomas took on himself the charge of souls. He swept into the orbit of his responsibility not only the family but also the whole staff of servants, and here he had a harder nut to crack. “Accordingly,” he solemnly records, “I kept up family worship, catechised the servants, pressed the careless to secret prayer, reproved and warned against sinful practises, and earnestly endeavoured the reformation of the vicious.” Thus before ever he was either licensed or ordained the bold Thomas had taken upon himself the mantle of the prophet. The staff of Kennet, however, had its own effective reply to these attacks, for some of the unrepentant led a counter-attack not against his arguments but against his stomach, and headed by the housekeeper, who played a discreditably two-faced role, they cut his rations. Indeed, the servants gave the tutor such a warm time of it that he was glad to start writing discourses, under the tuition of Turnbull and Buchanan, with a view to being licensed. This turn of events rather suited the local Presbytery, for they were very anxious to settle such an outstanding man as Boston in the district, preachers and scholars at that time being uncommonly scarce. Then, Colonel Erskine, the Governor of Stirling Castle, was anxious to secure the services of Boston at this time. “But Kennet,” he says, "shewed an unwillingness to part with me; in which I believe he was very ingenuous, being a man that had some good thing rooted in him tho’ frequently overtopped.” But neither of these proposals materialised.

Meanwhile, the young saint was making those near him as uncomfortable as usual. Dissatisfied with his hearing from the servants, he appealed to Caesar, or rather Mrs. Bruce, and called upon her either to stop her servants cursing and banning, or dismiss them. But poor Mrs. Bruce had enough household worries, and while assuring him of her best intentions, she knew that the term was coming on, when all her staff might leave in a body. So she sold the pass by parting with the two who espoused the good cause of Boston and of God! The young prophet protested, but he could not be angry with the charmingly civil reply of the accomplished Mrs. Bruce. He held on, reproving the unrepentant, from a sheer sense of duty, “and although it prevailed not according to my desire, yet by the good hand of God fencing me, my struggle had an awe with it, and was not openly treated with contempt.”

In their own cunning way the servants smiled on his face but frowned on his back, and the dreamy young saint was not so dreamy as to be unaware of this. The hypocrisy of the women touched him on the raw. But he had his hours of victory too. He writes:-

“I remember that one Saturday’s night they had set on a fire in the hall for drying their clothes they had been washing, not to be removed till the Sabbath was over. Grieved with this as a profanation of the Lord’s day, I spoke to the gentlewoman, who, insinuating that she had not done without orders what she had done, refused to remove them; whereupon I spoke to the lady, who soon caused remove the clothes and dispose of them otherwise.”

It was now the turn of the servants to squirm, and this interference with their household duties - surely the unforgivable sin in a woman’s eyes - must have riled them to the point of open rebellion. But Boston was undismayed. Indeed, his courage was equal to more than this. He advanced from the servants of the hall, to the lady in the drawing-room, his sheer sense of duty, no doubt, urging him on. He heard, one Sunday morning that his pupil, the bold Andrew Fletcher, lay in bed and rebelled against going to church at Clackmannan. “I went and enquired into the matter,” he says, “and he was caused to rise out of his bed; both the mother and son went to church that day.”
A relish of satisfaction lies in those last two words!
The man of God had seen to their souls’ needs.

In truth, the saint had spread disaffection throughout the establishment, and like most saints, had been stirring up trouble. This, coupled with his nebulous duties in the house, caused a reaction so acute that he sensed his usefulness was ended. When he saw that no likelihood remained of his being engaged for another year, he anticipated matters by writing to Col. Bruce on the 25th of January, 1697, giving notice. Boston was both frank and sensitive, whatever else he was; he admitted he was useless and felt he was obnoxious to the people of Kennet, and shewing the letter to Mrs. Bruce, who with her habitual civility “quarrelled nothing in it,” he sent it off, and immediately burst into song :-

The Lord shall help and them deliver,
He shall them free and save,
From wicked men; because in Him
Their confidence they have.
-Psalm 37. 40.

The load had fallen from his heart, and he “prayed cheerfully,” for he felt that having crossed “that troublous sea” he was now in sight of the shore. Time moved with leaden feet for the next four weeks - it always does on such painful occasions - and few farewells have been happier than that on the steps of Kennet House on the 22nd of February. With a sense of utter relief the young sallow-faced tutor stepped down the drive.

It was a bitter, disillusioning time for the young preacher a saint.
He found opposition, plain, blunt and unbending, to the rules of the higher life, he fell into some thirty shillings of debt and he took fits of fainting and vomiting. It was, as he says, a time of much trouble to him. But looking back he confesses it was "a thriving time for my soul." He learned then the virtue of secret fasting and the power of prayer. His self-examination led him to draw up a list of his own sins: not a bad practice, and better than the commoner one of cataloguing other people's sins. He writes:-

"There I had some Bethels where I met with God, the remembrance whereof hath many times been useful and refreshful to me, particularly a place under a tree in Kennet orchard, where Jan. 21, 1697, I vowed the vow and anointed the pillar. That day was a public fast-day, and the night before, the family being called together, I laid before them the causes of the fast, and thereto added the sins of the family which I condescended on particularly, desiring them to search their own hearts for other particulars, in order to our due humiliation. After sermons, going to the Garlet to visit a sick woman, I was moved as I passed by the orchard to go to prayer there; and being helped of the Lord, I did there solemnly covenant with God under a tree with two great boughs coming from the root, a little north-west from a kind of ditch in the eastern part of the orchard."

Boston was no botanist, and it being in the dead of winter he paid no heed to the kind of tree he knelt under - although he was very precise for a man engaged in prayer! - but the local people who shrewdly detected his genius knew it was a pear tree and for many a day it was regarded with special interest and reverence. The Rev. Peter Balfour tells us that while prayers could not arrest its decay, the Laird of Kennet, Robert Bruce, Esq., about 1840, planned to make a chest of it to contain the papers of the Stirling Presbytery, and so bequeath to posterity some link with a Scottish saint, but the rot had gone too far and the worthy project failed.

And yet, with all his pontifical manner, the young man learned from his experience.
Indeed, he regarded Kennet to his last days as another - and very necessary - school than Edinburgh College, where he was prepared for his great career. He learned how to take charge of souls, he dropped his bashful ways and struck out boldly, regardless of social distinctions, he experienced the support of God in dealing plainly with people’s sins, and through discussions and arguments his personality developed so that he could assert himself in public. He learned not to alienate the sympathy of those whom he wanted to help. Altogether, then, Boston gained just as much as Kennet did by the mutual contact.

But if he was unpopular at Kennet, he was in some demand in Clackmannan. So deeply did he impress the worthy elders of the kirk that when they heard he was leaving the district they made a move to retain him, and promised to take a room in the town on his behalf and see to his wants. It was suggested also, by Turnbull of Alloa Kirk and Buchanan of Tulliallan that the presbytery should license Boston and so make him available for a call. Nor was Thomas averse to this, for he actually attended the presbytery two days later in Stirling, secured their testimonial allowing him to return to Duns, and promised to return if circumstances would permit. He rode back through Clackmannan, making for Edinburgh, and, crossing the Forth, landed at Leith, where the cursing and swearing made him keener than ever to settle down to the good work of the Gospel. At Edinburgh he received his salary for the year, £5 11s. ld. sterling. While there The heard of a vacant school at Penpont, which would relieve him of financial worries, while he passed his trials for licence in his native presbytery. So he posted home to Duns, knowing that he would be maintained there even though he had no money. In due course, on the 15th June, 1697, after passing all examinations, Thomas Boston was licensed as a probationer of the Church. He proved on the whole a competent scholar, and the only weak part of his exegesis was omitted by the presbytery, which he felt was a Divine stroke! “By the time I had come the length of what I reckoned myself least master of,” he says, “I was called to deliver it; but withal by the kind conduct of Providence, when I was coming on to that part of it, they stopt me,” It raises a fine point on the nature of Providence!

The young probationer started off on his preaching career with great gusto.
He shewed plenty of the old prophetic fire, adopting "a rousing strain, and would fain have set fire to the devil’s nest." His first text was, “Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver,” and one can see the young soul of Boston flaming up in indignation and flaying the trembling listeners. So fiery was his exhortation that he was dubbed by the alarmed heritors “a railer,” and he himself, as he looked back to his first efforts at preaching from the mature calmness of old age, saw that this boldness was a cloak to cover his natural timidity. The parish of Foulden was vacant at this time, and Boston who frequently occupied the pulpit there, was highly favoured as a candidate. All that was required was the concurrence of Lord Ross of Hawkhead, and Boston was advised by all his friends and the presbytery to go to Paisley to see Lord Ross, whose consent had already been indicated. But here Boston dug his heels into the ground and refused to go. He had preached before the people several times, and if Lord Ross had heard him, well and good. But to go seeking the charge he “could never digest.” It smacked too much of self-seeking, of submitting to the abhorred principle of patronage, and of lowering the sacred office. The patron, a very decent man, abhorred just as heartily appointing a minister whom he had never seen; so Boston was allowed to go his way.

Meanwhile there was a minor upheaval in the house of the cooper of Duns.
The probationer’s return had cut across his father’s purpose to enter into marriage a second time, and by annexing one of the rooms of the small house as his study he no doubt cramped the style of the worthy tradesman. It is to be feared there was not much love lost between father and son, and things came to a height when he ordered Thomas to supper during his private devotions. Hot words followed, and the son refused to eat his meat any longer.
After this he maintained himself.
While too proud to engineer a call, the young preacher had his heart set on the splendid parish of Abbey St. Bathans, where the stipend was a stout 700 merks, a beautiful manse and an ideally peaceful sphere of work. “But,” he says, “I smarted for the loose I foolishly had given to my heart upon it.” An influential heritor, also a minister, secured the call for himself! Each door being closed, therefore, in his native corner, Boston despite intermittent attacks of fainting and a debt of £25 Scots, made for the ancient and royal town of Clackmannan, in hopes of an appointment to a church in the presbytery of Stirling.

It was, of course, not to Kennet House he went. These days were done. He was invited and re-invited, but steadily refused. He had no eye on the parish, which was vacant at this time. He had his eye rather on someone who came to stay with Thomas Brown of Ferryton, and he made his lodging there. It is amusing to notice how in that age of repression Boston tells us everything about his stay except the most important fact, that he was mightily in love with Katherine Brown, a sister-in-law of the worthy Thomas Brown. Reading these minute and matter of fact pages of his diary one would never suspect that romance was lurking behind them. It really started in the Kennet days, for the young tutor got to know the shrewd and influential elder of the kirk then, and with him he remained during all his stay in the parish, which extended to nearly a year. This same Brown was a figure in the church life. He was a stalwart when the gospel revived in 1696, and indeed the Browns were there in “Ferritown” as early as 1622, for a charter of that year is signed by Richard Wright, the minister of the parish, and Edward Brown of Ferritown or Ferryton. Thomas had taken a leading part in trying to recover the Session Minutes, he had been appointed Session Treasurer, which he resigned on 22nd August, 1697, and he had gone to Edinburgh to present a call from Clackmannan Church to the Rev. Thomas Hog of Camphire, which call was not sustained.

As a matter of fact, Boston was in a favoured position, since Airth, Dollar and Clackmannan were all vacant charges when he arrived, and most of his Sundays were spent in preaching in either one or other of these places. Then started the usual manoeuvring. First Carnock learned of the qualities of the young probationer, and even after he refused to go to Saline and occupy the Rev. John Wylie’s pulpit - who afterwards was himself minister of Clackmannan - they sent two elders to Ferryton to interview him “with a view.” He left the matter open, and later the presbytery closed it by refusing to let him go and preach.

On the 21st of August, 1698, he went to assist Frazer of Brea with his communion at Culross, where he met George Mair, a sweet and gracious spirit, more reasonable than his times, who in 1700 was to marry Boston and later himself become minister of Tulliallan. A few days after that communion Boston braced himself to ask Katherine Brown the crucial question of her life.
Nor was it quite for him a plunge in the dark.
Her father was a doctor, who had lived at Barhill near Culross, and she was quite famous throughout the Forest as an expert in medicines. He admits that when he saw her for the first time on 3rd March, 1697, the day he left for Edinburgh, "something struck with me." Even while at Kennet he had "heard a very savoury report of her," and as if to clinch the matter she arrived at Ferryton just after Boston arrived in July 1698, and was in time to nurse him through a period of weakness and faintings. She administered boiled Wormwood in linen bags and applied them to his stomach, and afterwards when congestion developed she prescribed Lucatellus' balsam. The sombre saint was struck by her piety, her beauty and her cheerful nature, and he reckoned she would be useful in seeing to his delicate health. He was a shrewd saint, for indeed he long outlived his wife!

And yet the moment after he had asked her hand his doubts began. He wondered if God approved of his choice. He regretted not having prayed oftener about it. He saw no prospect of marriage, since he had no money and no charge. But soon the mists roll away and his love was unbounded.
Katherine had her own doubts too, and was indeed not a little perplexed about the proposal of marriage, since it was all so indefinite.
Nor did their courtship run too smoothly.
There was a moment, in fact, when it looked as "if that design should be blown up," through Boston’s Preaching at Clackmannan on a Sunday he had promised to clinch the affair with Katherine. It was a lover’s quarrel, which the worthy lover took as a stricture upon his haste in proposing! Sure enough, however, on the 17th of July, 1700, they were married, and after thirty years of married life Boston could write this eulogy of his wife:-

“A woman of great worth, whom I therefore passionately loved, and inwardly honoured; a stately, beautiful and comely personage; truly pious and fearing the Lord; of an evenly temper patient in our common tribulations, and under her personal distresses; a woman of bright natural parts, an uncommon stock of prudence; of a quick and lively apprehension of things she applied herself to; great presence of mind in surprising incidents, sagacious and acute in discerning the qualities of persons, and therefore not easily imposed upon; modest and grave in her deportment, but naturally cheerful; wise and affable in conversation, having a good faculty at speaking, and expressing herself with assurance; endowed with singular dexterity in dictating of letters; being a pattern of frugality, and wise management of household affairs, therefore entirely committed to her; well-fitted for and careful of the virtuous education of her children; remarkably useful to the countryside, both in the Mers and in the Forest, thro’ her skill in physic and surgery, which in many instances, a peculiar blessing appeared to be commanded from heaven; and finally a crown to me in my public station and appearances.”

What an ideal minister’s wife!
Little wonder that Boston’s communion tokens rose from 60 to 777 during twenty-one years in Ettrick with a power like this behind him. For a man like Boston to write such an eulogy so unqualified is a tribute in itself. No wonder, when her health was in danger, he went “with a trembling heart to the pulpit.” She was moreover a covenanted daughter of God, a transcript of her covenant being still extant. In addition, she was a help to her husband by the portion of this world’s gear that she brought with her to her new home. Altogether, then, Clackmannan was good to Thomas Boston in this, if in nothing else, that it gave him a perfect wife.

We have still to see this great man in his two great roles, as at preacher and as a writer. He could not be hid in a place like Clackmannan, and with the church vacant and his living with the foremost elder, it was certain he would be asked to preach. The harvest was very bad, and the sins of the nation were equally bad so the Church called for a fast-day, which was fixed for 11th September, 1698. And on that day Boston mounted the pulpit steps of the old kirk of Clackmannan, bright and draught-proof with its new glass windows. But the worshipping people looked through other windows that day, for the fiery young preacher opened for them the windows into their souls, so that some were angry, and some were sad, and some were humiliated. As Boston strolled down the Lookabootye Brae to the Ferryton, with the sense that God had helped him, some went home with curses in their hearts and others rejoiced that God had sent them a prophet. While the preacher lay on his back that night, easier than he had done for months, though tired and weary, worthy elders went from house to house talking freely about the chance of chaining this Boanerges to the crying needs of the parish. But the heritors were not quite so keen on such a young spitfire, more especially when they noticed that the bold preacher when in the pulpit omitted to bow first to the chief heritors, nor would he fraternise with them on the Sunday evenings. While the Session was dealing nominally with young brides who changed their minds at the last minute, or short-tempered crofters who beat children among their crops, actually there was a cleavage developing between themselves and the heritors over the matter of giving Boston a call. He, poor man, was distressed about it, and protested against such a course, but this made the elders keener than ever, and the Laird of Kennet fed the fire by asking the presbytery to allow the young preacher the pulpit for three Sundays, in order that all the parish might hear him. Boston thought of asking his disjunction certificate and clearing off to Nithsdale, but was at last prevailed on to preach for two Sundays. At this juncture a call was on the point of being made out to him by the congregation of Carnock, but when he heard of this and of how it lacked unanimity, he politely declined it.

The forefront of the hostility came from Alexander Inglis, a local tyrant, whose name is coupled with that of Colonel Dalrymple as sheriff, in the charter dated 1708, and whom Boston designates as the “tacksman of the estate of Clackmannan, whose coal-grieve he was.” Inglis must have acted as sheriff for on 4th July, 1701, the Session applied to him to have a woman removed out of the parish, who had been guilty of resetting stolen goods. At anyrate he had a say in the matter of a call, and he had the suspicion that Boston had seen the sermon notes of Frazer of Brea and was delivering these to the simple folk of Clackmanan.
So little was he capable of judging his man!!!

But Inglis was not alone.
Kennet at first sided against Boston, but when he knew better he felt Boston would be an asset to the community. Others were not so frank and fair. After he had preached at Clackmannan on October 27th, and when it was mooted that Dollar was about to give him a call, he heard that the town gossip was against him, that they objected to his “railing,” that some were vexed and “one in a rage went out of the church.” The young man was sorry to think that his preaching was so stormed at, but his heart was cheered by falling back on the old Psalmist,

For I have borne reproach for thee,
My face is hid with shame,
To brethren strange, to mother’s sons
An alien I became.

Psalm 69, 7.

and this he sang at family worship that night. A subtler move came from a minister, John Forrester, in the presbytery, who urged Boston to accept a call to a northern station, and when he refused on the score of his fragile health, Forrester moved in the court that “brethren should deal prudently with the causes of the fast (of 4th January, 1699),” meaning, of course, the outspoken applications of young Boston. These incidents convinced Thomas that Clackmannan was not the place for him, and made him view with greater hopes the advances that came from Dollar. There again, however, he was doomed to disappointment, for the Earl of Argyle presented John Gray, who remained there till 1745. The same kind of thing happened in Airth, until the fiery probationer saw door after door shutting against, him, and he had to make for his calf country before he secured an effective call.

He had, of course, his grains of comfort.
He tells of how one ill-tempered fellow, Alard Fithie in Powside of Clackmannan, went into high dudgeon about his sermon of 11th September on the fast-day. Indeed, we know from the Session Records that Fithie was brought before the Clackmannan Session for riding after James Dove and beating him to the effusion of his blood. Fithie was coming from hearing the curate at Dollar, being evidently a rabid episcopalian. The charge was that of breaking the Lord’s Day, but it might have been that of breaking the man’s head. It stands to the lasting credit of the Session that before it was finished with Alard Fithie on the 10th February, 1698, he was shaking hands with Dove in front of the Session. Fithie was clearly an obstreperous kind of fellow, but over him Boston had his hour of victory, for he writes of January, 1699:-

“That month also it was observed that one Alard Fithie in Powside of Clackmannan, who being enraged at my sermons at Clackmannan, September 11, was wont to go out of the parish after, when I preached in it, was then broken and obliged to leave the parish, it not being known whether he had fled.”

We can see the smile breaking upon the sallow and solemn face of the vindicated prophet and hear a chuckle breaking the silence of the preacher’s study!

But the most lasting piece of work that Boston did while in Clackmannan was neither tutoring nor preaching. Although he felt a failure at teaching and a prince at preaching, he is remembered for none of these things. It was when he sat quietly on the 6th of January of that year and began to browse over the full meaning of fishing for men that he did his best. While staying at Ferryton he penned his charming Soliloquy on the Art of Man-Fishing, and he describes its beginning thus:—

“During the remaining time that I continued at Ferrytown, I wrote a Soliloquy on the Art of Man-Fishing, which was never finished but is in retentis. The occasion thereof was this. Jan. 6, 1699, reading in secret my heart was touched with Matt. 4. 19, ‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’ My soul cried out for accomplishing of that to me, and I was very desirous to know how I might follow Christ so as to become a fisher of men; and for my own instruction in that point, I addrest myself to the consideration of it in that manner. And indeed, it was much in my heart these days not to preach the wisdom of mine own heart or produce of my own gifts; but to depend on the Lord for light, that I might, if I could have reached it, been able to say of every word, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ That scribble gives an idea of the then temper of my spirit, and the trying circumstances I then found myself in, being everywhere scared at by some.”

It is clear that the Soliloquy arose from the bitter and cold reception he got from the parish, and the phrase “being everywhere scared at by some” suggests a concerted action to freeze him out of the church and pulpit. This sense of frustration and defeat appears on almost every page. When he begins to write he asks, “O my soul . . . Why does my preaching so little good?” In the middle of it he writes, “I love His work, and am glad when it thrives (Roms. 1.8.), though, alas! there is little ground for such gladness now.” And again, “This is a time of mourning for preachers of the gospel, for people are strangely hardened.” And before he finishes, with an eye no doubt on the Church of Clackmannan, he warns his soul, “Beware of preaching smoothly upon the account of getting a call from any parish.”

But besides this first disappointment, Boston had a spiritual genius, which would in any event have shewn itself in literature. Indeed, for a lad of twenty-three this little book is incredible. It reveals, as Dr. G. H. Morrison says, “how lofty his conceptions of the preacher’s art and office were.”

Clearly the youth who wrote this was seriously determined to be a preacher, and a preacher of no mean order. To some it may read a trifle solemn and morose for a high-spirited lad, but the root of the matter is all there. The Soliloquy is marvellous, likewise, for its minute analysis of the preacher’s task, both in its perils and in its opportunities, all being worked out with amazing skill within the limits of the fisherman’s world. So deftly and subtly does Boston work out the implications of his spiritual ideas that one fails to notice any limitations whatever. The points he makes have all the richness and depth of a mature divine, and although written some two hundred years ago they lack nothing in point, appositeness and thrust at the present day.
He was from the start a master in matters of the soul.

As literature, the Soliloquy portrays two strong features. In its pages, more than in the Sermons of the Fourfold State, the writer’s flair for the striking phrase appears. Some of these linger in the mind long after the book is closed, and if quaint and unusual they are always pungent and to the point. The other feature is a simple and readable style, which at times rises to rhythm and beauty. It must be recalled that most of the writing of that period was long-winded, involved and obscure. Ornate and pompous language was the symbol of learning and culture, and especially in religion writing was stereotyped and lifeless. In unconscious contrast to this, Boston smites us to life with his strong and telling sentences, and never at any point in the Soliloquy is the thought obscure. Clear and simple words, understandable by all, express in fluent periods clear and simple ideas. And so by an artistic fusion of the striking phrase with the smooth and limpid sentence, this lad of parts wrought out the loveliest little classic of Scottish piety. Night after night, through the early spring of 1699, he hammered out point after point, and the oily crusie at his head smoked away to suffocation. The lamp, with its smoke and smell has vanished, but the clear, fresh thoughts endure and survive in their spiritual sublimity.


Since the Revolution Settlement of 1688 the religious life of the community was largely in abeyance. Urquhart’s ministry closed under a cloud, and it was only after some years that the vacancy was filled by the translation of the Rev. John Wylie from Saline on 23rd April, 1700. The souls of the parish during the long interregnum experienced little spiritual fire in the pulpit except when Boston appeared to scorch their easy ways. But it was a promising opening for both Clackmannan and for the century, for Wylie was an outstanding personality and he soon made his presence felt with count and cotter alike. He was but five days in office when he “dressed down” the Session and urged them to “be circumspect in their dailie walk, in all manner of holy conversation,” while the beadle must have wondered what was happening when he was charged “to live holylie and circumspectly, to be sober, to read, sing and pray in his family,” and, “if he was found drunk, he would be no more beadle.” If George Reid was hurt by such insinuations he was mollified the next day for he was given thirty shillings Scots as the price of a new pair of shoes. It was, indeed, but poor recompense to the beadle, because he had to do much trudging about the parish, delivering the letters and doing the business of the Session.

The minister freshened matters up by adorning the mort cloth with a new fringe and lining to the velvet, so that the poor might be buried with a last flicker of glory; by getting Robert Millar, a smith in the town, to fix a lock to the east door of the kirkyard at a cost of eight shillings Scots; and the poor were further tended by being supplied with written badges and finally with coffins from the hand of Thomas White, the wright, at the modest figure of 10, 20 and 40 shillings Scots. It is interesting to observe that the price of a pair of shoes was about the same price as a coffin! The poor being thus cared for, in the true tradition of the Scottish Church, Wylie turned to the demands of the church itself. Thomas Brown of Ferrytown handed over what was left of the old paraphernalia of the church, as follows:-

7 old irregular Minute Books.
Scroll of Baptisms, irregular.
A Bible, large quarto.
A Sandglass.
2 Holland Cloths for Communion Plates.
2 Linen Cloths for Baptism.
1 Pewter Bason for Baptism.
4 Pewter Cups for Sacrament.

Equipped thus with a Bible to preach from, a sandglass to measure the length of the sermon, and vessels for the Sacraments, the minister set the elders to watch the “change-houses” to see that no drinking went on during the time of public worship, and he enhanced the pulpit with a new canopy at a cost of £20. An echo of the canopy is heard some nine months later when the wright in Alloa who erected it claims more than the sum agreed, but the worthy elders of Clackmannan were not to be browbeaten into paying more than the contract and “considering the work, judged that he had been sufficiently paid.”

The usual cases of drunkenness, blasphemy and assault were soon brought before the Session, and their hands were full, but they were able to look beyond the town and attend to the educational needs of Sauchie, for they appointed James Dickie as schoolmaster there and gave him a good start on the unpromising work in that small village by presenting him with Six Pounds Scots. Young lads in Clackmannan were catered for by receiving copies of the New Testament, which the minister ordered on from William Adam, bookbinder in Culross. The educational work of the Session was capped when they re-appointed William Smith, the erstwhile Clerk and Schoolmaster to his old post, for Smith said that he had learned the error of his ways, and so far from leaning towards the late government, now declared boldly that Presbyterianism was the only government left by Jesus Christ. The Session took up its business with a strong hand, and it was needed. Couples anxious to secure a throughstone in the kirk-yard were prepared to creep among the graves by night and strike off the Bruce arms, others brewed their wort on Sundays, sailors from the Pow made the town rowdy on the Lord’s Day, latewakes and penny weddings were rife, promiscuous dancing at weddings was on the increase, and finally David Bruce of Clackmannan and James Bruce of Kennet came under the condign displeasure of the church. The Laird of Clackmannan was publicly excommunicated by order of the Presbytery from the pulpit of the parish, although the reasons are not stated.

Such drastic action relieved the Session of a delicate task, nor did it fail to bear fruit, for by August 28th, 1704, so far had the Laird gone “to the Devil ” (cf. the text of Mr. John Logan’s excommunicating sermon), that he craved the personal protection of Parliament from his enemies and creditors. But the excommunication proved a count in the charges against the Laird of Kennet, for on the 25th January, 1704, he was hailed before the Session because he went searching in the town of Clackmannan for a bride on the 13th of August, 1702, because he feasted with the excommunicated Laird of Clackmannan, because he maltreated one of the elders who went to confer with him, and because he rose and went out of church when the minister applied scriptural threatenings against drinking. It was a long and tedious affair, and only the majesty of the Presbytery could humble the heart of Kennet, who on the 21st of February, 1705, came to the Session and shook hands with the minister in token of reconciliation. If it was a triumph for the Kirk, it was an even finer triumph for Kennet. But it will be seen that every restraint was needed to keep the peace and preserve the moral law. Money fines, the “jogs,“ and the stool of repentance had their own horrors, and often during a Session meeting the magistrate, Alex. Inglis, would be called in, while even the sheriff himself was summoned to carry out the sentence of the law. Added to its moral and spiritual responsibilities, the Session was called on by the government to undertake the tiresome task of collecting monies for the building of harbours and bridges by voluntary collections. Eyemouth, Lossiemouth and Banff harbours all received help, as did also the distressed inhabitants in Leith, while £16. 5s. 6d. Scots was sent to repair the St. Leonard’s College at St. Andrews, and £10 Scots was collected to effect the release of John Thomson, “a slave in Algiers.“*

* 18th April. 1704. The Barony of Clackmannan in 1700 offered to pay a tax for the privilege of the communication of trade. See Acts of Parliament of Scot., X. App. 138a.

Even the occult sciences came within the purview of the staid elders of the kirk, and three cases are mentioned. On 20th January, 1702:-

“William Anderson confessed his guilt, and that it was a sin to consult a Dumbie, which he did, but was sett on by evil counsell . . . . the Session’s mind was that seeing it is an universal custome in Sauchie ground and country about, to consult Dumbies, and he being ignorant of the sin, and this being his first fault, and being the first arraigned for this fault in the congregation, they thought that a sessional rebuke, and his humbling himself on his knees before God in presence of the session might be a sufficient censure . . . .”

The people of Sauchie were evidently at one with the people of Christ’s time in thinking that some peculiar spirit resided in a person who was unable to speak. That the medieval mind obtained in the parish is proved by the activities of Margaret McArthur, whose devices smatter very much of witchcraft. A man Scobie had died, and his death was regarded as due to the failure of a charm prescribed by the lady in question. The nephew of the deceased Scobie swore before the Session that he went up to a south-flowing well at “Grasmestoun” farm to wash his uncle for two nights in the water of the well and to throw powders over him, and there he saw a black man coming to them from Kersehill, while a branded cat came out of the corn, at which the cattle squealed, “that the black man followed them down nigh to the walkmiln at Dovan as they were returning home to Clackmannan, and that they heard a terrible noise like the noise of coaches, and that the said James Scobie fell in the water . . . and that his falling into Dovan water was the reason why he was not cured.” Margaret had instructed the superstitous Scobie to speak neither going nor coming, but the spell was broken by the water of the Dovan supervening on the limpid well of “Grasmeston.” This same Scobie seems to have been susceptible of witches’ influence, for he appeared before the Session on the 18th April, 1704, and swore that "he saw George Bruce bite Jean Reid through the nose, and say, ‘Now I defie all the devils and witches in Clackmannan to have power over me, now I have drawn blood of you.’" More than Scobie, evidently, believed "that there were witches and devils in the town, although there was hardly any need to prove it by biting a woman’s nose! The third case is a happy explanation of how some people saw devils and ghosts in those hard eighteenth century days - and nights. Isobell Lothian, on the 14th December, 1708, was censured by the Session for going through the town with a white shirt on her in the night time, personating a ghost. Her defence was that “she did ignorantly upon a wager, and that she had no design of personating anybody, and that she came no further than the port, and presently returned, and was sorry for giving offence.” Such a practical joke was enough to bolster the belief in devils and witches for another dozen years, but in its own quiet way the Session set the machinery in motion that made such beliefs untenable.

The school at Sauchie was under way, while by 1703 James Clow had been installed as the master at Forestmill school and received four merks (£2. 13s. 4d.) from the Session for his housemeal. By 1711 Clow had been succeeded by John Colt as schoolmaster there, which shews that the good work went on, while in Allaleckie another school was carried on by a certain James Ure, who, on 28th November, 1710, received Four Pounds Scots, plus his housemeal, from the Session as his maintenance.

These facts indicate that whatever may be the theories of rationalists about the identity of religion and superstition, in the parish of Clackmannan there was a profound conviction in the leaders of the church that progress could only lie along the road of a thorough education, and the Session was prepared to subsidise schools at Sauchie, Forestmill, Allaleckie and Clackmannan itself to bring the light of knowledge to the parishioners. It reflects no little credit on the Minister and his henchmen.

Other matters, however, claimed the minds of the elders.
The old pewter communion cups in use in the days of episcopacy were unsuitable, and at Sacrament time cups had to be borrowed, so to preserve its self-respect the Session asked Mr. Wylie to send for two solid silver cups to the silversmith in Edinburgh, and these cost the large sum of £121. 12s. Scots. In the following year two more were acquired, which are still in use at the present time, sanctified by 230 years of holy service. These were the days of course, when the Sacrament was a great and prolonged occasion, and a team of preachers thundered on through several days of spiritual exercises. The Thursday Fast-day was a public and solemn holiday, and when it came to the actual dispensing of the Sacrament the small parish church was much too limited, and the large congregations were accommodated in the open air. Temporary communion tables and forms were erected by Thomas Whyte, the local wright, while Harry Craich, the smith in Wellmyre, famous for his troublesome Jacobite wife, supplied the Sturdy nails. Later, spurred by the rivalry of Alloa, they equipped themselves with a timber tent, which was simply erected and dismantled each communion season. The venue of the Sacrament seems to have been variable, for at one time it was to “be erected on Tuesday on the foot of Mr. Bruce’s acre,” while some eight years later the tent was "to be set up at the foot of the ridges on the North side of the Town, on the little Green there." Wherever the sacred site was, the tokens were duly given out to the heads of families, the elders kept a watchful eye on the morals of their districts, and censures were meted out to the careless and the wayward.
And so the Sacrament was a worthy and auspicious occasion for the people of the town.

But in the early years of the hard eighteenth century events were taking place outside of the small town, which were destined to have profound influence on its future. Of some the quiet folks were conscious; of some they were totally unconscious. When the King of Scotland became also the King of England in 1603, little change was foreshadowed or felt in the life of the average Scot, who assumed if anything a patronising air to the Englishman, for had he not provided him with his king? But the union of the two parliaments in 1707 was a very different affair. The failure of the Darien scheme, which involved so much loss to Scotsmen, was blamed on the English, and the suggestion in 1702 of union with England on palpably unequal terms enraged Scottish sentiment so much that an open demand was made for the dividing of the crowns. Only the grim determination of the Scot, expressed in the Act of Security of 1703, secured the appointment of a joint commission to thrash out equitable terms of union in April, 1706. “On its decision hung the destiny of Great Britain and the British Empire.” The union was duly effected the following year, but the true indication of popular feeling can be gauged best from the echoes as they appear in the pages of the Session’s business for 28th October, 1706:-

“This day the Minister representing that this Church and nation according to the present establishment was in great hazard by reason of a treaty that is presently under the consideration of the Parliament, the Session thought fit that they should meet on Friday next for prayer and supplication to our Merciful God that He may guide the Parliament in that affair, so as what is feared may be prevented.”

But the work of the elders involved more than praying, for an address of protest was drawn up and subscribed by the whole parish, and within three months this was ready to be forwarded to no less august a body than the Parliament itself. Proof of the sincerity of the people is that the Session instructed the Treasurer “to give fourteen pound and a groat, which is the value of a guinea, to be given to my Lord Register with the address subscribed by this parish, and sent to the Parliament against the Union, which is under their consideration at the time.” There are those who think that it would have been better for Scotland to-day had the prayer of the worthy elders been answered. There are those who thank God it was never answered.

But none can blame the simple Scots in the quiet country places, whose one fear was that their hard-won religious freedom might be filched from their grasp. The terms of Union were at last thrashed out, very different indeed from those originally planned by the southern commissioners, and the loyalty of the Minister is shewed by the fact that within a year he was acting on a proclamation to call in the silver money to the Mint, where it was to be re-minted with a British stamp. Whatever silver money was in the Box was sent on to the Mint, and so in more senses than one, the die was cast. Not without alarms and fears, the two nations came nearer and nearer, and by welding together formed the base and foundation for the mighty Empire of the twentieth century. In the same year that the union of the two countries was effected, another event took place outside of Clackmannan, which was destined some centuries later to have repercussions on the title of the Bruces.

On the 6th of August, 1714, the House of Kennet became united with that of Burleigh through the marriage of Alexander Bruce and Mary, the second daughter of Robert, fifth Lord Balfour of Burleigh. Burleigh was a fine medieval castle, closely resembling that of Clackmannan, situated in the parish of Orwell, near Milnathort, and although its ancient grandeur was undiminished there was a touch of sadness in its halls. Truth to tell, the young Master of Burleigh had fled the country in an attempt to escape justice - and a successful attempt too. When the young heir had scarcely reached twenty years of age he fell madly in love with the governess of his younger sisters, a young lady Janet Thomson by name, who was actually the niece of the Reverend Andrew Thomson, the minister of Orwell Parish. The match was frowned upon by his father, and in order to cool the ardour of love the young Master was despatched abroad for a prolonged holiday of travel, while the governess was dismissed. But love was not to be thwarted, for before the young lover left for the Continent he warned his sweetheart that if she married another in his absence he would take the life of whoever married her.

he could not have treated either his affection or his threat very seriously, for we find from the parish register of Orwell that on the 17th November, 1705, she gave her name for proclamation of marriage, that on the three following Sundays she was duly proclaimed, November 18th and 25th, and December 2nd, while on the 6th December she was actually married to Henry Stenhouse, the schoolmaster of Inverkeithing. More than a year passed before the young Master of Burleigh returned, but instead of his love abating in the interval it had mounted to an almost uncontrollable pitch, and the news that the very thing he most feared had actually taken place, roused him to a frenzy of jealousy. On Wednesday the 9th of April, 1707, he swept out of Burleigh Castle with a few retainers, and clattered into Inverkeithing while the market was progressing. It was a strange meeting when Stenhouse and Burleigh confronted each other outside the schoolhouse, for neither had ever seen the other before. The one with his night-gown and quiet demeanour and a firm belief in the power of knowledge faced the gallant young scion of a noble house, whose word was as good as his bond. Hot words were bandied, and in the burning frenzy of baffled love, young Burleigh flashed out his pistol and fired.
Two bullets passed through the left shoulder of the teacher.
He would have fired again to make sure, but the crowd now gathered, and wheeling his horse he galloped out of the town. It is said that in order to confuse the mob he waved his sword as he galloped and exclaimed: “Hold the deserter!”

When the schoolmaster succumbed to his wounds on the 21st of April, 1707, a cry for justice arose and the young Burleigh had to seek a place of hiding. For two whole years he was successful, and eluded all attempts to capture him. One of his favourite retreats was the hollow trunk of an ash tree, which became known to later days as "Burleigh's Hole." At last, however, he was brought before the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh on 28th July, 1709, and the jury’s verdict is surely one of the strangest ever recorded. They found that the prisoner fired a pistol at the deceased, but it was not proven “that the said wounds were given by the shot of the pistol discharged by the said Robert, Master of Burleigh.”*

* Two physicians and three surgeons attended Stenhouse.

On the 29th November, 1709, however, the prisoner was sentenced to be beheaded at the Cross of Edinburgh on 6th January, 1710.*

* The Kirk Session of Inverkeithing and Town Council advanced 300 merks to Mrs. Stenhouse to assist in the pursuit and prosecution, Inver. Kirk Sess. Records, Aug, 5, 1707.

And now enters the romance of the story.
His mother and sisters set to work to secure his escape, for they knew that no time had to be lost. It was plotted that a large trunk should be removed from the prison by a porter, with none other than the Master inside it.
The plot worked well.
The trunk reached the High Street without any hitch, but when the porter reached the Netherbrow he felt he was due some refreshment for his Herculean effort, and planting the trunk on the causeway he entered the first tavern. But the Master now found himself standing on his head, and from this uncomfortable posture he cried to be relieved. The cry ruined the plot, and the Master was trundled back again to prison.

But woman’s wit was not yet ended.
Just before the fateful day when the “Scottish Maiden” was to do its last work for justice, the prisoner’s mother and two sisters were permitted to see him, and having secured complete privacy by means of some well disposed half-crowns, Margaret, the elder sister, played the heroine of the piece. She exchanged clothes with her brother, who, dressed up as the third lady of the party, was able to leave the prison without question or molestation. In order to delay the discovery of the escape as much as possible, Margaret fastened the prison door from the inside, and it was some time before the warders were able to gain entrance and expose the plot. By then it was too late to re-capture the Master, and it was useless to detain the young lady, dressed up in her brother’s clothes. So Margaret went her way, having tasted enough excitement for one lifetime, and lived the quiet life of a retiring spinster, until at the age of eighty-four she died and was buried in Canongate Church, Edinburgh.

The Master fled the country, and kept out of the clutches of the law, but his heart was still in Scotland and with his loved ones, nor did he forget the splendid heroism that saved his own head. While abroad he indited the following poem to his sister, a unique effort, surely, in the art of poesy:-

“Dear sister, I want words fitt to express,
Thy daring love, which made you change your dress,
And nobly to put on my clothes and shape,
To save from death and favour my escape;
And thought nothing hard, nor ought a stain,
To save thy brother, though the worst of men.
Fear not, the queen thy courage will approve,
She feels like you no boy’s fraternal love.
May she, O may she, emulate that thing,
And from Exile her Royal Brother bring.”*

* “Jacobite Relics ” in possession of James Maidment, Advocate, Edinburgh. The Editor of the 1769 edition of De Foe’s Tour tells us that he frequently conversed with Burleigh, who “became a very sober, grave man, and detested the crime he had been guilty of.” Stephen’s Inverkeithing, p. 394.

If these touching lines indicate the artistic temperament of young Burleigh, no less than his heartfelt gratitude, they shew also the loyalty that he felt towards the Stuart dynasty. The last lines seem to point to a deep affection between the Queen of England and the Old Pretender and they express clearly Burleigh’s fervent hope that James Edward would be called back to the throne. Such a hope the young Master tried to realise in the succeeding years, for he returned to his native land in 1714 and was present at the meeting at Lochmaben on the 24th May, when the Pretender’s health was publicly drunk at the Cross.

Although his father had died in 1713 and his younger sister married Bruce of Kennet in August, 1714, he threw himself into the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 under the Earl of Mar, and it was because of his part in this that, with eighteen other Scottish peers, he was attainted by Act 1., Geo. I., cap. 43.*

* His estate of £677 a year was forfeited to the Crown.

After this his life seems to have been a series of wanderings in exile, until he died in September, 1757, and he was buried in Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh.

The link in all this with Clackmannan is that young Burleigh’s sister Mary married the laird of Kennet, and since neither the attainted Lord Balfour nor his sister Margaret married, the title would have descended to Robert, the eighth of Kennet had it not been attainted. This attainder was reversed in 1869, so that while the present Lord Balfour of Burleigh is suo jure the eleventh holder of the title, he is actually only the seventh who has been so designated.

Exactly five months after Alexander Bruce of Kennet was married he was ordained an elder in the kirk of Clackmannan, and within a year he was back into the soldier’s life, for in 1715 he was appointed a major in a regiment that was raised in Glasgow to meet the menace of the Fifteen Rebellion. Mrs. Bruce, during the anxious months of the insurrection, must have been like many another noblewoman of Scotland, who had kith and kin on both sides of the struggle. The Mistress of Kennet must have spent many a sleepless night, fearing lest a battle would mean the loss of both her husband and her brother. The rebellion was, fortunately, short, sharp and decisive, for Sheriffmuir put an end to the campaign of Mar, and soon Kennet returned to his home, where his son Robert was born in 1718, a son and heir that was destined to be not only Sheriff of Clackmannan, but also a Lord of Justiciary under the title of Lord Kennet.

But the rebellion disturbed the peace of the common folks no less than of the distinguished, and indeed it is a remarkable fact that while the much more sanguine campaign of the Forty-Five Rebellion left no echo in the local records, the insurrection of Mar disturbed the equanimity of the Kirk Session not once but many times.

That trouble was brewing in Scotland was evident from the arrival of Henry Nesmith in the town of Clackmannan, but the suspicions of the people were allayed when he produced a pass to prove that he was a bona fide "souldier." The presence of Argyle in Stirling, which he held with a small garrison against any attempt of Mar, is echoed in a squabble of women, brought before the Session, when one was asserted to have been “put along the Bridge of Sterline with fifteen drums.” This was evidently considered the height of disgrace, to be “put out of the town, with the touch of the drum.” Several characters in the district were outspoken Jacobites. George Scotland, for instance, drank unblushingly to the health of the Pretender, and called him "King James," for which the kirk rebuked him.*

* 13th Decr., 1716. Young Bruce of Kennet had been drilling secretly in a malt barn in the Grassmarket of Edinburgh, with many others, to fight the Pretender. June, 1714. See Mar and Kellie Papers, p. 502.

Another pronounced Jacobite was the wife of Harry Craich, the blacksmith at Wellmyre. Five days before the Battle of Sheriffmuir, the soldiers passed her house, and possibly some of them stopped to sharpen their weapons at the “smiddy.” At any rate the visit of the soldiers was too much for Isobell Duncanson, for she invoked the Devil against them as they passed. Nor did her advocacy of King James wane with time, for some two years later, on 21st May, 1717, she openly proclaimed: “The Devil be in them that will not drink the Earl of Mar’s health.” “The Session, considering the temper and disposition of the woman, thought fit to pass her with a sessional rebuke.” Others were quite definitely rebels “out in the Fifteen,” such as John Younger of Ferrytown, who seeking Baptism for his child, was willing to confess to the “sin of rebellion against God and King George,” but stubbornly refused to go on his knees. Another case was that of George Bruce, a lastmaker in Clackmannan, who on returning to the town after the Rebellion to resume his work, was reported to the authorities by the Rev. Mr. Mair of Tulliallan. Soldiers accordingly came from Stirling and carried him off, but not without some protest from the women folk, one of whom stoutly declared that “George Bruce went out of the town an honester man than Mr. Mair came into it.”

That the pressure of the kirk was steadily and increasingly on the side of the status quo, and for quite obvious presbyterian reasons, is proved by its proclamations and resolutions. If it was a little premature in celebrating a day of Public Thanksgiving “for King George his safe and comfortable accession to the crown” on 20th January, 1715, it could quite fervently offer thanksgiving in 1716 “for Deliverance from the late Rebellion.” The Session spoke the last word on the matter, when on 16th December, 1716, it decided that all who were in rebellion in 1715 would require to ask God’s pardon before receiving sealing ordinances either for themselves or their children.

Others besides the elders rallied to the side of the government, for civilians in the town formed themselves into a civic guard, which being supplied with arms was prepared to defend the place against the insurgents. If some of these worthy pillars of constituted authority overdrank themselves, they had a good excuse to place before the Session, for had they not been searching the country through the coldness and darkness of the night to lay hands on the arms necessary to defend the town? By the beginning of 1716, also, we have proof that Dutch soldiers were quartered in Clackmannan, which may be easily explained by the large number of ships that plied between The Pow of Clackmannan and the Low Countries, and also by the proximity of Alloa Park, the seat of the Earl of Mar.

One more echo, this time of the Battle of Sheriffmuir, will complete what we hear of the “Fifteen” through the Session records. A weaver in Sauchie complained to the Session that it had been said "that he felled a wounded man with a stone in the field of Battel, the 14th November last, the day after the fight at Sheriffmoor."

The local tailor in Clackmannan and the minister’s man both swore that they saw the weaver on the battlefield attending to the wounded man till he expired, but they denied seeing him do any injury. The real point is that after the news of the battle reached the parish there was a rush of sightseers to the scene, foremost among whom was the worthy tailor and the servant of the minister.

A peep inside the Tower of Clackmannan at this time is very interesting, and this is made possible by the fact that Sir David Bruce of Clackmannan, who died in 1712, left a Testament Dative, which details all his possessions in the Tower.*

* Register House, Edinburgh. Four iron and two brass guns, seized in the time of Charles II. to defend Blackness Castle, belonged to David Bruce, for which he never received compensation. See Mar and Kellie Papers, p.485

Apart from the Brewhouse, there was a Tower Vault, containing “1 long table, 8 dozen bottles, 1 8-gallon barrel, 3 half anchors, 1 empty hamper, 1 old stool and 2 old gantries. In the Laigh Hall were old hangings, with gilt-leather strips, 24 maps, 26 pictures, 1 clock and case, 5 nodding boyes and 1 picture of the Royal Oak with armaments. In the Little Laigh Room, commonly called the Baron’s Room, there were two Timber Presses, one Box Bed and one Standing Bed with hangings. In the Ladies’ Room were Feather Pillows and lemon coloured hangings to a Four-Stooped Bed and Cover. In the High South Room were one Large Bed, hung with dark curtains, and a straw pallias, four White Linen Window Curtains, 44 Pictures and 11 Glass Pictures. The Laird’s Closet contained 15 Books, a Bed, a Speaking Trumpet, a Pistol and some Napery. In the Large Upper Hall, were 13 Maps, 12 Caesars - 6s. a-piece - 23 small Pictures with Frames and 25 wanting Frames, 2 large Pictures with Frames - £6 each - one Marble Table, Cane Chairs, a Wainscott Table, one Old Sword and one Map or Tree of Family. In the little Room off the Laird‘s Room there were 26 Pictures, with other Maps, Beds and Bedding and Curtains for the windows. In the Summer House in the Yard there was a Carpet Resting Chair, while the School-Chamber contained such lumber as a Form, a Tub, an Old Table, and an Old Meikle Wheel.” The inventory concludes with Chairs and Bedding in the Room at the Wardrobe Door.

* Testament Dative in Register House, Edinburgh. It should be noted that there is no mention of the Sword and Helmet of the great Bruce.

These are interesting details. The anchors or ankers recall vividly the fact that much Dutch liquor came up the waters of the Forth to the Pow of Clackmannan. The large number of pictures is surprising, 158 excluding maps, and the small number of books is almost as remarkable. The picture of “The Royal Oak with armaments” suggests that this was a ship, with its complement of guns and marines, and perhaps this may throw light on the origin of the hotel that goes by this name in the town of Clackmannan at present. It is a trifling disappointing that the only weapons of war in this grand old Tower comprised an old sword and a pistol. The Family Tree is, of course, the one which remained in the Tower, when Mrs. Bruce died there at the end of the century, and which she bequeathed to the Elgin branch of the family. It is now at Broomhall, and has recently returned from London after undergoing a process of cleaning.

Other facts about the Tower may be gleaned from an interesting case that came before the Kirk Session on the 2nd August, 1719. The doors were secured by heavy bars. The hall was on the bottom floor. Two special rooms were the Red Room and the Green Room, doubtless because these were the prevailing colour schemes, and the Red Room was “My Lady’s Bedroom.” In addition to this a visitor to the town in the year 1722 has left a short but valuable description of it in the following words:-

“Upon the west end of the town is situate the Castle or Tour of Clackmanan (built by Robert Bruce, first Earl of Annandale and afterward King of Scotland, now pertaining to Henry Bruce, Laird of Clackmanan descended of the same race) upon a large hight called the King’s Seat Hill, very pleasant for sight and air. About half a mile south of the town is a harbour for shipping of the coall that are there in great plenty, belonging to Col. Wm. Dalrymple Of Glenmuir. The Kirk stands in the midle of the town”

Alexander Rait, who wrote this account, was too busy, doubtless, to see the life of the place from the inside. He was hardly aware that the worthy minister, the Rev. John Wylie, was writing a courteous letter to Lord Grange of Alloa Park, cheering him on to maintain the rights of the kirk to appoint its own minister, apart from the influence of the heritors.*

* Dated 8th May, 1721, in Alloa House Papers.

Against the movement in the Assembly to set up collegiate sessions, with powers over individual kirk sessions, Wylie steadfastly set his face, for this was a blow to the power of the presbytery, and he carried his session with him in his protest.*

* Clack. Sess. Records, 14th March, 1721.

Without much spectacular appeal, indeed, the good and kindly work of the kirk went on. The sick were assisted, as when a gardener in town was paid £4 Scots for healing the arm of Agnes Graham, an orphan, “which was twice broke,” (5th Nov. 1717) or as when Robert Stirling, the smith in “Linmiln,” was given a guinea and a half to pay the surgeon from Stirling who cured his wife of blindness. (5th Nov. 1725) A certain Matthew Roger, a native of Bo’ness, was captured by the Turks and taken a prisoner to Algiers. He was ill-treated and his wife was in poverty, and the worthy elders of the town sent £14 Scots to help to pay for his ransom. (1st Nov. 1722) Sometimes charity began much nearer home, for the Session Clerk was in difficulties at this time, and enjoyed the same liberal measure of assistance. Indeed, he appears to have been a thriftless sort of fellow, for although on one occasion the minister dwelt so touchingly on his plight that the Session “being affected with his condition,” granted him a gift of £20 Scots from the Box, when he came back a second time within three years for help he was merely granted a loan. (17th Aug. 1722) A movement was started at this time for the building of a bridge at “Linmiln,” and collections were asked for this purpose from the surrounding parishes, while in Clackmannan the collection was actually announced on 23rd February, 1725. Nor was it financial assistance alone that was rendered by the kirk, for it is worth noting that on the 17th March, 1727, “two elders went and prayed over John and Helen, who were lying dying at Bonhard.”

Nor was the restraining hand of the kirk slackened during this period, although it is clear that discipline was becoming more difficult to maintain. It took all the firmness of Brigadier Bruce of Kennet to hold some of the culprits in awe, and more than once a constable had to be sent to hail an offender before the Session. A disturbing factor in the tone of the community was the presence of “the Gray Dragoons that lay in Alloa” in 1726,” and in addition the ease with which the disobedient could hie off to the “curate” for irregular marriage or slip away to attend on other congregations was destructive of the monopoly and power of the kirk session. The elders called upon the civil power of the sheriff and the sheriff more often evaded or refused to interfere. This reluctance on the part of the sheriff to execute the law is explained by his own habits, for one night in a house in the town he helped to drink four chopen of ale and a gill or two of brandy with Janet Hutchen, and then the record states with disarming accuracy, “the sheriff gave her one kiss.” The sheriff referred to would not, of course, be Colonel William Dalrymple, but a depute appointed by him. But although the secular arm proved thus a broken reed, the kirk still took its high ground. It looked with hostility on the habit of taking a stroll on the Tower Hill after the service, a pleasant and to us very harmless relaxation on a Sunday.

“It was represented to the Session that there are several in this Town that profane the Sabbath by going out in companies after divine service and walk towards the King’s Seat Hill. They therefore appoint that two elders each Sabbath go to the King’s Seat Hill in order to know who these are that so transgress.”*

* Clack. Session Records, 20th March 1716.

Just as sacred as the Sabbath was the Fast Day, and the profaning of this was just as serious an offence in the eyes of the elders. A whale made its way up the Forth as far as Longannet Point on 16th December, 1720, and there disported itself to the amusement of the onlookers. From Culross, Kincardine and Clackmannan the crowds rushed down to watch it, but the four women and three men who disregarded the Fast Day in Clackmannan were summoned to atone for their sin. It is not surprising that the worthy minister had great difficulty in convincing them of their sin, finally “holding forth the terrible threatening, Isaiah, Ch. 22, vv. 12-14.” If the sheriff failed to sober the thoughts of the people, other fears came to the rescue. At the end of 1720 a plague broke out in France with such desolating effects that not only France but all Britain became terrified, and the godly became convinced it was the punishment of God for national sins. A national fast was called by the kirk, which strove to drive home the sense of sin, and this shadow of terror must have hung over the people of Scotland for at least a year, because on the 12th December, 1721, another fast was proclaimed, this time by the King, “for the threatened Judgment of the Plague!" These must have been dark and fearful days for men who knew neither the cause nor the cure nor the preventative of plague. The danger of the plague took two years to pass, and it was not until the 7th May, 1723, that the kirk felt free to celebrate the deliverance of the land from the awful punishment of the disease.

But if God withheld his chastisement in some cases, there were other cases where the Session saw clearly the condign punishment of the wicked. The gauger of the town was cited to appear before the Presbytery on a serious charge, and while his case was pending he died. It is clear the elders believed that God had taken the matter out of their hands, for it is significantly recorded, “The Lord has remarkably removed Robert Myles, Gauger in this place, by death; his process before the Presbytery has now fallen.” The mention of a gauger points to a distillery, and this is confirmed later in 1757 by the names of two excisemen of Clackmannan being referred to, Gilbert Ogilvie and his successor, Alex Miller. In addition to this officer in the town, others were stationed at Kennetpans and Powside. Mr. Thomson was a salt officer at Powside in 1718, and he had occasion to defend the good name of his wife before the Session. Both he and his wife had come from Carrendin. Mr. Steel was the salt officer at Kennetpans in the same year, and he comes into the light of history to defend not his wife’s name but his own, for he was charged with drunkenness. The utmost evidence that could be produced, however, was that he had “whistled as he returned from Tulliallan Kirk.” This was serious enough to the godly of those days, but from what we know of Steel it is highly probable that he continued to whistle despite the Session.

Besides liquor and salt as commodities in the industrial life of the community, it is to be noted that shipbuilding was also carried on, and so noted were the builders of the parish that their fame spread as far south as Newcastle. The laying of keels and building of boats was carried out by these workmen not only at the Forth, but they were sometimes sent off to lay keels in other parts, and were absent as long as two years. In the first quarter of the eighteenth century, also, the coal of the district was being worked, and the Kennet coal was extracted “level free,” as Dr. Moodie says. In 1726 the mining was stopped, but it was resumed again in 1759, and at the end of the century there was actually a small fire engine operating the seams. Whether or not the gauger mentioned in 1713 was attached to Kilbagie we do not know, for there was more than one distillery in the parish, but we do know that of the 6,000 tons of coal extracted yearly from the Kennet seams, the most part was used in the manufacture of whisky. The rest was either shipped to Leith or used for domestic purposes.

The estate of Brucefield comes at this time into the limelight, so far as local records are concerned.*

* Along with Kilbagie and the Garlet, Brucefield made up the old Barony of Shanbody. Half of the lands of the mains of Shanbody were given by Sir David Stewart of Rosyth to his daughter Margaret on Sept 15. 1473. Acta. Dom. Con., xiv., 113.

The first reference is one dated 25th June, 1723, in which “Mr. Bruce of Brucefield” is deputed to attend the Presbytery of Stirling on behalf of Clackmannan Kirk. This estate was, of course, outwith the limits of the Session’s jurisdiction, and this may account for the complete lack of references to it previous to this period. Now that a scion of the Bruces was an elder of the kirk, in addition, of course, to Brlgadier Bruce of Kennet, the tendency would be for Brucefield to bulk more prominently in the records. In this way we know that on the 22nd May, 1724, one of the servants at Brucefield was called Nicolas Cousine and that he came from Alloa some two years before that date, while another one, presumably a maid in the house, called Isobell Galloway, came from Logie on the 23rd August. It appears that Mr. Bruce of Brucefield was not only a keen churchman, but a zealous Presbytery elder. One case shews the firmness of his character, for when a certain widow in the town refused to appear before the Session, he despatched a constable to fetch her, and soon she was standing before the elders. In December, 1725, however, Mr. Bruce was obliged to go and reside in Edinburgh, and had to resign his position in the kirk. Although he was not residing there, the house must have been occupied, for Marjorie Lawson was a maid there in the following May. Nor was the contact with the kirk broken, for Mr. Bruce had a bond of 500 merks with the Session, and towards the discharge of this he paid £15 Scots the following April. It appears that his absence in Edinburgh was not very prolonged, because in September, 1727, he is back again in Brucefield as Presbytery elder, and he is definitely named as Alexander Bruce of Brucefield.

After a ministry of remarkable power and efficiency, extending over a period of 28 years, during which he stimulated the interest and zeal of laird and cottar in the things of the Kingdom of God, the Reverend John Wylie was laid to rest on the 25th June, 1728, and thereafter the Session set their hand to the delicate and important task of selecting a successor. In this work the foremost and most zealous was Alexander Bruce, who prosecuted the case before the Presbytery. That Alexander Bruce was a man of God is suggested by the fact that he retained at Brucefield the services of a chaplain. This chaplain, John Adam by name, was given a certificate, presumably on leaving the district, on 27th February, 1730. When it is recalled that Mr. Bruce of Brucefield was instrumental in bringing Henry Adam to Clackmannan as the new minister, there is some ground for believing that John was probably a younger brother of his, who was engaged at Brucefield with a view "to broadening his experience. But Henry Adam was not destined for a long ministry, because on the 4th October, 1737, he presided for the last time over his Session, when the only business was the appointing of Mr. Bruce as Synod elder, and within five days the minister was dead.

The vacancy extended to a period of three and a half years, during which time the Presbytery superintended the ordinances of religion in the district. The Session met only intermittently, sometimes only once in six months, and even then transacted only routine business. At last, on the 21st January, 1741, John Haly was ordained, but it is clear that in the interregnum the kirk had lost some ground. The people were evading the Session’s ruling regarding laying a deposit on proclamations by being married irregularly, and the ruling had to be revised. The old firmness with cases of moral delinquency also, was gone, and a much more lenient method had to be adopted. Mr. Haly, however, strengthened the hands of the Session by ordaining Mr. Robert Bruce, younger of Kennet, as an elder in 1745, but from now onwards the peril of the secession lifted its head, and the court of the kirk was faced with delicate cases where people who belonged to seceding bodies tried to avoid rebukes and punishments. There was even a case where a certain Henry and Ebenezer Thomson, Who were seceders, claimed seats in the parish kirk, “immediately contiguous to the west end of the Earle of Dumfries his rail,” but the claim was not allowed, although their servants were permitted to use the seat, since they were members of the kirk. The monies of the kirk, too, were in danger of being used to help farmers to buy horses, until the Session forbad such use, and very soon the entire Poor Box money was placed into the safe and capable hands of the Laird of Kennet. Brucefield does not emerge again into the light until 1756, when a certain George Matthew is mentioned as the gardener there, but no further reference is made to Alexander Bruce. By the year 1761 however, the estate had passed into the hands of Mr. Abercrombie, for his overseer at Brucefield is referred to, John Colquhun by name.*

* It was still in hands of the Abercrombies in 1795.

This was the James Abercrombie who in 1775 bequeathed £5 sterling to the poor of the parish, a legacy that was handed over by Alexander Abercrombie, writer in Edinburgh. Later, of course, Brucefield reverted into the hands of the Bruces of Kennet, and is now in process of restoration to its former glory.

In the middle of the eighteenth century the life of the county town was not much changed from earlier days, although to the discerning eye signs were not wanting that the old régime was breaking up. Not only was it more difficult for the kirk to keep its iron grip on the conduct of the people, so much so that it had to hand over hopeless cases to the civil judge (March 26th, 1756), but also the trade and industry of the place developed and created a new mentality and outlook. In 1755 the population of the entire parish, which, of course, included Sauchie, numbered 1,913, but forty years later Dr. Moodie places the population at 2,528, shewing an increase of 615. Although the press-gang visited the town in 1757 and 1765* and carried some eligibles into the ranks of the forces, it affected little the drift of population towards Clackmannan, for in addition to the time-honoured trade of weaving there was a fresh opening up of the cherry and splint coal seams in 1765, and the distilleries at Kilbagie and Kennetpans were phenomenally busy.

* Dec. 6th, 1757. and Sept. 6th. 1765.

And so Clackmannan stepped into the age of science and industry.


The concluding decades of the eighteenth century stand by themselves in the story of Clackmannan. They shine out clearly because a few of the immortals lend their brilliance to the scene as they pass under the shadow of the historic old Tower. Joseph Farington the diarist and artist, Dr. Jamieson of dictionary fame, the incomparable Robert Burns himself all fell under the spell of the ancient palace of The Bruce, and not less of the charm of the irresistible Katherine Bruce, who as hostess of the grand old keep revived its royal glories. It was as if the ancient splendours of Clackmannan Castle returned for a little to brighten its latter end, and as if the immortals that added gaiety to its pristine grandeur came back again to gild and glorify its hoary age.

One afternoon in July, 1766, a tall, slightly-built youth of twenty might have been seen ambling along the Kinross road, making towards Alloa, perched on the back of a timid pony. His long neck looked angular against a pathetically narrow chest, and his white and shining skin contrasted with the flushy redness of his cheek. His yellowish hair displayed a furtive curl. On he Journeyed until he came to the crossing of the little Devon, and there the timid beast, unaccustomed probably to fording streams, took fright and left its rider in the water. In this soaked and uncomfortable condition Michael Bruce made his entry into the little village of Forest Mill. He was put straight to bed in the house of a Mr. Mill, his appointed host during the time he was to be schoolmaster of the village. Next day he started on his work of teaching.

Of the village we know very little.
It is stated that it was called the Thieves’ Mill because of its wild and Perilous loneliness, but Dr. Moodie is more accurate when he states that it derives from the time when farmers were thirled to the lord’s mill with consequent excesses. A hundred years ago it went usually by the simple name of “The Thieves.” In any case there was a grinding mill in ruins there until within living memory, and no better place could have been chosen for a mill than in this quiet little valley of the Devon. Biographers of Bruce have vied with each other to deride the bleakness of the spot some of them blaming its climate for the early death of the poet, and yet no one who has seen the heather purpling the hillside there on an August afternoon could deride its beauty and its peace. If Michael called them “unfertile wilds and nameless deserts, unpoetic ground,” he did so in dark December, and when the short summer of his life was over, but another poet, whose morning of life broke on the same scene, could write :-

Ye woodlands and valleys o’ auld Forestmill,
How aft, in sweet fancy, I wander thee still,
When Spring’s budding blossom encircled my brow,
And youth’s fairy visions decked ilka green knowe.*

* By James Westwood, in James Beveridge’s Poets of Clackmannanshire, p. 126.

The school to which Bruce came had a chequered career.
We can trace it fitfully through the records of the Kirk Session of Clackmannan. On the 4th December, 1711, John Colt, having been selected by the parents as a suitable person to teach “their bairns,” was given £4 Scots for housemeal in “The Forrest.” This makes it clear that the parents had agreed to remunerate the teacher, but the kirk gave his housemeal. This precedent was followed in 1718 when a certain James Paterson was given the same amount, but Paterson fared better the year following for he was given forty shillings Scots extra to make up for the quarterly payments of the scholars that were in arrears. James Wright succeeded Paterson before 13th October, 1724, for on that date the kirk session gave him a loan of £12 Scots, and so poor evidently was the remuneration of the school that the following year it discharged Wright of his bill.

No more is known of the school until the curtain lifts again on the dingy and damp little cottage in 1766, with the pale-skinned teacher impressing the Rule of Three on the rustic children. It is said that the school was worth £12 Scots a year to Bruce, which, combined with the unpleasant feeling at his Gairney Bridge school, induced him to come. Of course, Michael was no teacher, nor was it his profession. He was set on being a preacher of the Burgher persuasion, and besides having graduated in Arts in Edinburgh University, had just completed the first stage of his theological training under Professor Swanston at the Kinross College. It is true that he had applied to be taken as a philosophical scholar in the Anti-Burgher Classes at Alloa, with a view to securing a teaching, post in the vicinity, but the Synod were not disposed to accept him, and so Michael turned his eyes elsewhere. He had reached his somewhat uncertain position in life, through his own thrift and application, the sacrifice of his father and the generous help of David Arnot of Portmoak, and so he had struggled through university life with an increasing bent towards creative literature. He had tried his hand at the popular literary exercise of turning passages of Scripture into poetry, which came to be called “Paraphrases,” and it is said that at the choir practices at Portmoak his compositions were an improvement on the doggerel verses usually sung to the Psalm tunes.*

* A typical verse used locally was:-
“On Mary Brig’ I sat and wept,
Clackmannan I thocht on,
John Grumley had guid ale to sell.
But money I had none.”

Sung to “Coleshill." Kindly supplied by Mr. Robert Kirk of Alloa.

In this he followed the example of Doddridge, whose version of Genesis 28, 20-22, he re-polished and improved to become the famous Second Paraphrase of Christendom. This was a literary line close to the heart of the young student, and he pursued it until no less than eleven of his compositions found their way into the collection of Scottish Paraphrases. In his university days, too, Bruce followed the Poetic Muse assiduously, and produced one of his profoundest poems, entitled “The Last Day,” in which deep spiritual insight is combined with a Miltonic monumental style. For a time this ardent poet laboured to educate some youths in the village of Gairney Bridge, but now he sought employment at Forest Mill, as a stepping stone towards the Church.

The actual building, where Bruce taught his scholars, was a single room with mud walls, a low roof and earthen floor, elevated slightly above the main road from Kinross to Alloa, and forms at the present day the central part of the block of school buildings. But the comfort and beauty of the present school were entirely absent in Bruce’s day. The cold winds blew across the moor and drove the rain into the room, so that the earthen floor became a slough of mud, where the teacher had to sit through the dreary hours of the day, shivering and coughing at his work. His landlady’s daughter tried to improve matters by having planks of wood placed across the floor so that the teacher might cross the room without sinking into the mud. She also put boards where he stood, and, warmed the school with a fire. A letter, which he wrote to Arnot of Portmoak on the 28th July, 1766, illustrates his reaction to his new surroundings. He confesses that although he had high hopes of the place, his hopes were shattered. “I expected to be happy here, but I am not.” Comforting himself with the truth that anticipation of anything is always better than the realisation, and that matters might be much worse, his endeavour, he says, is to please God, his fellow-creatures and himself. Even in teaching “a dozen blockheads for bread” he may be happier than the affluent pleasure-seeker, besotted in his vice. Although “things are not very well in this world, but they are pretty well,” still, by the end of July, Bruce had been long enough away from the shores of Lochleven to long for another vision of them, and so there welled up in his poetic nature that loveliest and sweetest of his poems of the same name. By the time he wrote to Arnot he must have made some way with it, for he had chosen the title, planned the dedication, and was busy each week adding two lines, blotting out six and altering eight. At this speed, one suspects, they poem would very soon have been blotted out of existence, but this must have been poetic licence, for he ultimately did produce his masterpiece, and probably before he left Forest Mill. The complete plan of the poem, although not worked out in July, became clear shortly afterwards. If the ravages of phthisis first made their appearances at Forest Mill, if the discomfort and bleakness of the spot weighed upon his spirit, he turned his disadvantages to good account. Of the poet it is said,

If he but can,
A homeless man.
Turn suffering into songs divine,
That poet’s life is still divine,
His life is still divine.*

* W.H. Davies, Poems, p.200.

And certainly Bruce turned his sufferings into songs divine, for out of his lonely exile he struck flashes of insight and phrases of power that haunt the memory and stir the imagination. He complains in a letter to David Pearson that he leads a melancholy life in the village, and while not fond of company he realises it is not good for a man to be alone, “and here I have no company but what is worse than solitude. If I had not a lively imagination, I believe I should fall into a state of stupidity and delirium. I have some evening scholars, the attending of whom, though few, so fatigues me that the rest of the night I am quite dull and low-spirited.” In the midst of these long days of double toil, and living as it were in a world apart, far from kindred poetic spirits, Bruce coined such lines as these:-

“The Twilight trembles o’er the misty hills,
Trinkling with dews; and whilst the bird of day
Tunes his ethereal note and wakes the wood,
Bright with the crimson curtains of the morn.”

He tells how the “piteous redbreast plained, sole-sitting on the bough,” and how the blackbird “warbled his liquid lay.” The fair Levina had a virgin-eye “lucid and lovely as the morning star.” To this poor, homesick youth appeared the “islands of the blest”;

“Where hand in hand,
Eternal Spring and Autumn rule the year,
And Love and Joy lead on immortal youth.”

Nor is the love motif absent from the piece.
The ardent hunter discovers the Naiad of the Vale and looks at her “in all the silent eloquence of love.”
The fixing of the wedding day,

“opened to his eyes
An age of gold, the heaven of happiness,
That lovers in their lucid moments dream.”

And so the tale runs out its stirring length, but Michael cannot refrain from revealing his own pathetic plight at the close:-

“Thus sung the youth amid unfertile wilds,
And nameless deserts, unpoetic ground,
Far from his friends he strayed, recording thus
The dear remembrance of his native fields,
To cheer the tedious night; while slow disease
Preyed on his vitals, and the blasts
Of dark December shook his humble cot.”

We are thus in the happy position of knowing almost to a day when this unique masterpiece was started by the poet and when it was completed. A few lines had been written by the 28th July, 1766, and it was completed by the end of December of the same year. On the 10th December Bruce intended to be at Kinross the following Sabbath, but this must have been merely a short visit, for we find that he wrote a letter from Forest Mill on the 24th December.

It was the custom of Bruce while teaching at Forest Mill to indulge in a stroll in the mornings, and he explains in a letter to David Pearson, how that he sat on an eminence, probably the hill where stands the farm of Hazleyshaw to-day, and prompted by reading Job 9, 23 from his Latin Bible - “Now my days are passing away as the swift ships” - he saw a vision of ships, as on the Forth below him, and found that they were taking on passengers bound for eternity. Religion, Virtue and Pleasure all offer themselves as pilots, and in a heedless moment the poet embarks with pleasure, but with a few others he jumps overboard before the storm overtakes Pleasure and swims for Religion, where he is finally saved. The letter is valuable, not for the laboured analogy of the River of Life, but because it throws light on the habits of the poet during his stay in the village, and makes it practically certain that he cast eyes on the burgh on the hill and the ancient and impressive Castle of Clackmannan.

In another letter to the same friend, dated December 24th Bruce explains how he met a drunken man on the road, so far gone in liquor that he lay his full length on the ground, and when the emaciated teacher lifted him on to his legs he could only utter a few garbled platitudes. He calls him “a very fool.” The only other letter from Forest Mill, of which we have trace, is to the same friend describing a visit the poet made to St. Serf’s Island during the previous summer, and recording Bruce’s annoyance at the lack of antiquarian interest shewn by the cattlemen who were with him, and who refused to wait until he had examined the ruins of the monastery. The letter, which is dated December, but which gives no precise day, states that the poem “Lochleven” is now finished.

It has been suggested that the “Elegy in Spring” was written by Bruce during his stay in Forest Mill, but the evidence which is so conclusive in the case of “Lochleven” is not forthcoming here. Grosart probably started the idea by referring to Forest Mill as “the ‘wild’ of his ‘Elegy in Spring’,” when as a matter of simple fact the word “wild” does not occur in that poem in connection with a definite place. It is true that he begins his letter which describes his vision of the Forth with a verse almost identical with the 19th verse of “The Elegy,” and as the latter belongs undoubtedly to this period one might assume the poem does also. But this may have been the first draft of a verse which later was incorporated into a more ambitious piece, and we must remember that “The Elegy” betrays a more advanced stage of disease and depression than we find then in his work. In addition, “The Elegy” was obviously written in spring, and it is pretty certain that Bruce had left his school before spring arrived in 1767. The most we may claim is that the poem began its sad life while the poet was within sight of Clackmannan.

But the wearying labours of instilling knowledge into the children of the village, besides the extra toil of the evening class, when doubtless more difficult youths came for instruction, were telling heavily on the exhausted frame of Michael. During all this time, too, he was bending, every mental energy to the creation of his great masterpiece, which could not but deplete his reserves of strength. He saw clearly that the work of the school was daily becoming more impossible, and ere the year had well-nigh begun he started off for home. It is stated that he walked all the way to Turfhills, the farm near Kinross which was the home of his dear friend Henderson, and there he waited for a little, hoping that the change would improve his health. But home was calling in his heart, and he pushed on to Kinnesswood.
His days were numbered and he knew it.
These spring days of 1767 are almost too pathetic to dwell upon. He fought his battle manfully with the Dark Angel and, as if enamoured, slipped silently away with Him on the 5th of July.

And so we see the last of the pale and tender-hearted poet dragging one foot after the other up the road past the Heather Inn, and down to the Ramshorn, or Mar’s Entry as the gypsies used to call it, and on past Blairingone to Powmill and the Crook of Devon. With many a rest by the wayside, and deep foreboding in his heart, who can blame him if he tried to forget the past and lived only for the smile of his mother at the cottage door of his home?

But if the sweet and artistic Michael slips out of the limelight of history, another character of a very different stamp takes his place and fills a less glorious role. This was a man of the soil, a desperate fellow and a political intriguer. Lord Sands, in his brilliant little volume,* establishes the fact that a Jacobite spy, who in 1745 ran between the Duke of Perth in Scotland and Bonnie Prince Charlie in France, was precisely the same man who on the 4th September, 1767, arrived at Clackmannan during the last day of the St. Bartholomew’s Fair from the house of Dunimarle at Culross.

* John Blaw, Jacobite and Criminal, by Christopher Johnston (Blackwood, 1916).

There were Jacobites enough about Clackmannan in the earlier Rebellion of ’Fifteen, but the district seems to have been moved to support the government at the time of the ’Forty-Five. Indeed, by a happy reference of Alexander Carlyle, we know that a contingent of men banded themselves together from around the burgh and marched to Edinburgh to strengthen the hands of the loyalists. Through the words of the biographer we can see their heartsome entry into the capital, Just when everyone’s heart was shaken with tear. On Saturday the 14th September, 1745, the worthy minister of Inveresk, forgetting his peaceful calling, was busy preparing the city against attack, "when there arrived in town Bruce of Kennet, with a considerable number of Volunteers, above 100 from his country . . . . this increased the strength and added to the courage of the loyal inhabitants."*

* Autobiography of Dr. Alexander Carlyle, p.124. The Bruce was probably Robert Bruce, the young advocate, who became Lord Kennet in 1764.

And in point of fact, the same John Blaw came from a stout Presbyterian line, one of them having been a noted Covenanter. There is no explanation of this decided Jacobite leaning in Blaw, but that the Duke of Perth sent him in February, 1745, to the Prince in Paris is quite certain. His mission was to urge that a supply of broadswords be despatched to Scotland for the use of the rebels, but these were to be unmounted as the French mounts were not suitable to the Highlanders. Blaw arrived also with the proposal to purchase a ship, to organise the capture of Edinburgh, and to lay hands on some money when the hour struck. After a stay of six weeks, during which time he was called to Versailles for an interview with the French Foreign Minister, probably d'Argenson, Blaw made for Scotland with messages from the Prince, promising broad swords, and help from France, a letter to Murray of Broughton, and a secret code to operate between Blaw himself and the Prince. Getting home to Scotland was not quite so easy for the spy, for both Louis XIV. and his championship of the Stuarts were dead.

"Sometime about the beginning of March" says Blaw, "I left Paris for my return and difficulty enough I had to get back to Holland, having both armies to go through as I had come through them in my going to Paris in time of war is a task I would not undertake again. But by the Providence of God I in a manner miraculously escaped falling in bad hands and got safe back to Scotland and delivered my answer to the Duke of Perth about the first of May, but was unfortunately taken prisoner the the 5th June, along with Sir Hector (Maclean) and we were both carried up to London where we were detained for nigh two years and a half in different prisons. Some moneths of that time I was thrown against the thieves and pick-pockets in Newgate in double irons, the marks of which I carry about with me to this day and not one farthing I had from the government for my subsistence tho’ I was a State prisoner all the time, and was at last dismissed without ever bringing me to trial or to tell me for what they so used me. O the blest liberty and property of England!“

Blaw, as a matter of fact, was arrested in Edinburgh at 3 o’clock in the morning of 5th June, along with Sir Hector Maclean, by a certain George Durie of Grange, an interfering and ambitious sort of fellow, and promptly placed in the city Tolbooth, being suspected of starting at 4 o’clock that same morning to send the Fiery Cross through the Highlands.
Nor had Blaw any cause for complaint.
He had been well warned by Murray of Broughton to keep out of the capital, as suspicion would fall on him, and these warnings he disregarded. He seemed to have no sense of the seriousness of his treason, so that instead of being grateful for his release in 1747, he girds at having had no trial. Mercy was wasted on him, and Lord Sands, taking all the facts into account, concludes with this unflattering estimate, “He was apparently a neglectful father, an unsatisfactory husband, a defaulting debtor and in deep poverty.”

That Clackmannan Fair was an important occasion of buying and selling in the eighteenth century is indicated by the fact that in 1767 one party came the seven miles from Dunimarle, and another, William Cairns and his son, came from Nether Kinnedder, just as long a road, to be at the St. Bartholomew’s Fair. Horses, cattle, linen, woollens, hardware and haberdashery were all exposed for sale, and business was brisk in the old market town. If Cairns had lived the quiet life of a farmer, unsuspecting excitement and danger, Blaw during his seventy odd years of existence had tasted thrills enough, and whether he knew it or not, was soon to taste more. In any case, neither of these men was destined to retrace his steps alive.

In the market town of Clackmannan, and if one oral tradition is to be believed in a house still standing in the Main Street, a vintner and merchant called John Henderson carried on an ale-house, which on this Friday afternoon at 5 o’clock, the 4th September, was busy with customers who sought refreshment. John and Helen his wife, besides two maids were fully occupied supplying their patrons when William Cairns and his son John entered and stepped through to the back kitchen, where Blaw was already seated at a table, in a recessed window. Evidence was led in the trial to shew that Blaw harboured a certain hatred against Cairns, on the ground that Cairns had cheated him in “proofing his corn” and his son had stolen fruit from his orchard at Culross. It is clear that the meeting in the ale-house was unfriendly, and soon developed under the influence of hot words till Blaw was heard to call them “scundrells,” to which they retorted “liar.” Dr. Irvine Robertson stated that a tradition handed down through three generations of blacksmiths, Drysdales of Wellmyre, recalls “when a man from Culross who owned an orchard there came to Clackmannan in search of a man who had been robbing his orchard, that the Culross man sharpened his knife upon a grindstone at the smiddy door, and then went into the town of Clackmannan, found the thief, quarrelled with him, and stabbed him.” This tradition points to previous malice, the main point in the Crown’s case, and it is supported by the evidence of George Law, who swore that the previous year Blaw had said to him that Cairns and his son “deserved a prick, and that if they had been in France they would have been hanged”. Besides providing an echo of Blaw’s Jacobite experiences, this would seem to point to intention in the mind of Blaw, although Lord Sands takes the view that a modern jury would not sustain the alleged proofs of malice.“

In any case, Blaw slipped his knife out of his pocket, as if finding money for his drink, and opening it underneath the table, he leaned forward and pricked young John underneath the left breast, who immediately feeling the pain leaned back against the wall and exclaimed that he was stabbed. His father, protesting against stabbing his son before his eyes, was in the act of rising when Blaw applied the point of the knife to what must have been his stomach. A scuffle ensued in which Cairns, the father, overpowered Blaw and reached for a fire-iron to fell him, but Mrs. Henderson snatched them from his reach, and as he was beginning to feel the effects of his wound he staggered towards the street, where, however, he was unable to stand, and was thus helped back again to the house and laid in a bed, while a doctor was called. Although the son appeared to be the more severely wounded of the two, the father sunk quickly into unconsciousness, and when Dr. Haig arrived from Alloa at ten minutes to seven he was past all aid, and passed away at seven o’clock, succumbing probably to an internal haemorrhage.

In the meanwhile Blaw seems to have been as much stunned as the people in the ale-house, for he continued to sit at a table in the back kitchen until the constable arrived to arrest him. The constable was not, of course, a regular policeman, but was one of those appointed by the Justice under the Act of 1661 and was paid out of the fines imposed, and in this case he was Robert Meiklejohn, a brewer in Alloa, and also a feuar in Clackmannan. The constable hied Blaw off to the Clackmannan Tolbooth, not a very great distance, and handed him over to Robert Lindsay, the jailer, for safe custody. Blaw was so tightly bound with ropes that Meiklejohn was for slackening them out of pity, but a bystander, Philp, would hear nothing of taking such a risk.

The prisoner was not long in the Tolbooth when the constable returned to tell him that William Cairns had died. That same night Lord Kennet, who probably walked over to the gaol from the House of Kennet, issued a Warrant for Blaw’s imprisonment, and when the prisoner was brought before him took his Declaration. At ten o’clock that same night one of the maids in the ale-house found the blood-stained penknife underneath the table in the kitchen, and having handed it over to Thomas Henderson, son of the innkeeper, it was given to the constable who sealed it up as evidence for the trial. On the 29th of the same month of September, Blaw, having been taken to Stirling and tried before the Court of Justiciary and found guilty of the murder of William Cairns (John Cairns having so completely recovered from his wound as to give evidence at the trial), Lord Kames sentenced Blaw to be fed on bread and water till the 30th October, “and upon that day to be taken furth of the Tolbooth of Stirling, and carried to the common place of execution, and then and there betwixt the hours of two o’clock and four o’clock in the afternoon, to be hanged by the neck by the hands of the common executioner upon a gibbet until he be dead.” “Lord Kames,” says George Charles, “before passing the awful sentence was observed to shed tears, and when addressing the prisoner said that what made the task the more painful was that they had been class-fellows. Blaw complained of the shortness of the time allowed him to live, to which the judge replied that the time was long, very long, compared to that which he gave.”*

* Charles, an Alloa bookseller, published in 1817, “History of Transactions in Scotland, 1715-16 and 1745-6.”

Although the sentence was duly carried out on the appointed day, and the body was handed over to Blaw’s relatives for burial, the rumour quickly started that Blaw was not actually dead, but that he was resuscitated, and a dummy was placed in the coffin in his stead. Down to within living memory it was asserted that the hangman used a rope which did not throttle the prisoner, and that Blaw afterwards escaped to Holland. But Clackmannan never saw him again, and if the truth be told it had no desire to see him.

The poor fare of bread and water accorded to John Blaw reminds us that the eighteenth century was a pitiless one for the offender. The “jougs” were humiliating enough, but for sheep-stealing in 1699 Robert Livingstone was sentenced “To be stripped naked of his clothes, and scourged by the hand of the hangman through the whole town of Clackmannan with one of the sheep's heads and four feet hanging about his neck, and thereafter banished out of the said shire. . .” In 1713 pains were taken that everyone in the town knew the regulations governing the resetting of coals, and the notice of the sheriff, Colonel Dalrymple, was “published by tuck of drum at the Cross and through the toun of Clackmannan, that none may pretend ignorance.”

A brother and sister, Lothian by name, were in 1733 found guilty of stealing shirts belonging to the sheriffs wife, and the punishment is surely the cruellest on record, namely, that they were both to be “scourged by the hands of a hangman from the head to the foot of the town of Clackmannan, on two separate days on February, between one and two o’clock in the afternoon. . . . Thereafter to be burned upon the cheek with the mark of the shire, and then be banished the shire”. But Dalrymple did not long inflict such penalties, for he died in 1742, and shortly afterwards heritable jurisdictions were abolished in 1748.

After this a change took place in the ownership of the estate of Clackmannan, and Sir Laurence Dundas, the founder of the Zetland family, appears as the new owner. Dundas, indeed, had married the sister of Robert Bruce, Lord Kennet, and it was doubtless this link with the district which induced him to come forward and procure the ancient patrimony of the Bruces, after it had fallen into stranger’s hands. Sir Laurence was a Commissary General and Contractor to the army, and he amassed a great fortune. His ownership may be dated by the fact that there is an inscription on the bell of the old steeple of Clackmannan bearing these words: “Given to the town of Clackmannan by Sir Laurence Dundas, Baronet, 1765.”*

* According to Minute of Sale Wm. Earl of Dumfries and Stair sold the estate to Sir Laurence Dundas in Dec. 1762.

This establishes both the ownership and the generosity of the Dundases, and it is further confirmed by the ordination on the 9th of September, 1772, of the Rev. Robert Buchanan to the parish of Clackmannan, who was presented by Sir Laurence. In the same year he spent money in improving the Pow of Clackmannan, where the Black Devon enters the Forth, and this creek which had formerly been crooked he straightened out and deepened, so that its usefulness was greatly increased.

The same year saw the snapping of the last link with the direct line of Bruces, stretching back to 1359, in the death of Henry Bruce at Clackmannan Tower. If, as Dr. Moodie says, Henry Bruce was the last laird of Clackmannan, then Sir Laurence Dundas perhaps allowed him possession until 1772 - his gift of the town bell being an outsider’s gift - in which case his presentation of the minister would have been his first act as laird. In any case, he was called upon to exercise his prerogative of presentation sooner than he expected, because Robert Buchanan died of fever in 1777, and on the second occasion he presented the Rev. Thomas Oswald, though not without obstinate opposition from a section of the parishioners. And yet Oswald was a gifted minister, had filled the important charge of Crown Court Church in London, and was a considerable landowner. “He was a person of middle size, rather corpulent and of a dark complexion.” The opposition delayed the settlement for more than a year, and the resentment aroused smouldered for ten years, to burst into flame when the next Minister was presented.

Oswald was hardly two years in the parish when the ancient practice of salmon fishing on the Forth at Kennetpans came to an end. The days had been when salmon was so plentiful that farm-servants had to provide against it appearing in the daily menu, and it was actually sold at Kennetpans at 1d. per pound before the fishing stopped in 1780.

Besides the fishing industry, Kennetpans boasted of a thriving trade in whisky, for the distillery there under the Steins vied with that of Kilbagie not far off in driving the London distillers off the market. That was an interesting episode in the long struggle - not yet ended - between the interests of Scotland and London. At this time the duty on spirits was so high that most people in Scotland either smuggled in their spirits or kept their own stills, so that the market for Kilbagie and Kennetpans was confined to London, where although the duty was more than a shilling higher, their Whisky sold briskly. Despite a law of 1784, which reduced the London duty by half, the trade of Clackmannan liquor soared in London, and although in 1786 another tax of 30s. per gallon per year was imposed on every still in Scotland, besides 2s. extra on every gallon going into London, still the sales of whisky soared. The London distillers became alarmed, and roused the Treasury, who imposed another 6d. on the gallon and doubled the still tax to £3 per gallon in 1788. Clearly business under these terms was impossible, and so Kilbagie whisky became scarce on the London market. This was a great pity for the Treasury, because no less than 60,000 bolls of corn were used every year at Kilbagie alone, 7,000 black cattle were fed and supplied to Glasgow and Edinburgh, and the excise duty paid by both distilleries was greater than the whole land tax of Scotland. Even in 1795 the duty paid was about £8,000 sterling.

At Kennetpans there was a unique engine, constructed by Bolton and Watt, the first of its kind in Scotland, while at Kilbagie there was a specially constructed canal, connecting it with the Forth for imports and exports, and a threshing mill, which figures in history as the pioneer of all others. Even in 1795 there were cases of thirlage in Clackmannan district, but Dr. Moodie points out that the development of the mill, constructed by George Meikle at Kilbagie, driven by Water and threshing 8 to 10 bolls per hour, would permit even a small farmer with thirty acres to thresh his own grain. By this time, indeed, mills of this type were being constructed in England, while orders arrived from some of the northern kingdoms of Europe. There were nine in the parish of Clackmannan, varying in cost from £25 to £60 sterling. It was Stein who commissioned Meikle of Alloa, probably under the direction of his father, Andrew Meikle of Houston Mill, East Lothian, to erect the mill in 1787, and only the finest brass and iron brought from Sweden was used in its construction. W. Downing Bruce, a cadet of the House of Bruce, who later went out to Jamaica as Judge and died there, purchased Kilbagie in 1857 and dismantled the mill, but he claimed that Meikle’s brain evolved not only the simple thresher, but also the shaking and winnowing machinery. Others dispute this, and suggest that these latter were later improvements, but in any case Meikle deserves the credit of the invention and Clackmannan has a little of the reflected glory.

In agricultural affairs, indeed, the district was making rapid strides.
Fifty acres of good soil, besides much old salt-grass land, were reclaimed for cultivation by the energetic measures of Mr. Erskine of Mar, who in 1776 reconstructed a wall of turf, eight feet high, and 1,380 yards long, running alongside the Forth between Clackmannan Pow and Kennetpans. It took six months to complete and cost £786.

Lord Dundas followed suit on his property, and went one better, because after constructing the wall he made a Waggon road on top of it, so that ships, too large to sail up to the Pow, might be supplied with coal. This method of advancing the interests of agriculture coincided with a keener interest shewm by the farmers themselves, for about 1785 the Clackmannanshire Farmer Club was started, with the result that ploughing matches, boasting Of some fifty candidates, were held each year, and the worthy minister of Clackmannan, claims that when in 1790 forty-nine two-horse ploughs turned over both his glebe and farm, that was a record in the history of the country.

One of the first winners of the silver medal for ploughing was a local man called Alexander Vertue, who havin been sent for by the King to demonstrate before royalty at Windsor in the summer of 1793, did not hesitate to take his own plough with him. The result delighted His Majesty and it was understood that Vertue would begin work at Windsor the next morning. But when morning came, owing doubtless to covert jealousy, Vertue was asked to leave his plough, was recouped for his trouble, and shewn the way back again to Scotland. The silver medal, his sole remaining joy, is fortunately still in existence, and despite the scurvy treatment of Vertue at Windsor the Club went on prosperously, stimulating the interest of sons of the soil.

As if by deliberation, it was precisely at this time that Scotland’s supreme son of the soil, Robert Burns, set foot in Clackmannan. The summer of 1787 was full of halcyon days for the immortal bard. Had he not swept into Edinburgh heralded by the praises of his Kilmarnock Edition? Were the literati of the capital not charmed to lionise him at their dinner tables? The patronising Duchess of Gordon made her drawing-room a stage where the ploughman poet, unruffled and natural, displayed his brilliant talents. It must have resembled a dream for this struggling crofter of Ayrshire, and when the profits from his volume of poems came pouring in, he could think of no better way to use them than to tour his native land. Thus it came about that in June, seeking fresh fields for his Muse to glorify, Burns toured in the West, touching Loch Lomond and Inveraray. He confessed that he “had fixed on nothing with respect to the serious business of life,” but was “just as usual, a rhyming, Mason-making, raking, aimless, idle fellow.” This tour brought him into the County of Clackmannan, for he made a special point of visiting the mother and sisters of his bosom friend, Gavin Hamilton, the attorney of Mauchline, who at this time were staying at Harvieston. He was so attracted to one of the sisters, Charlotte, that he indited his verses on the “clear-winding Devon” to her some time later. Mrs. Hamilton was acting as housekeeper to Mr. John Tait of Harvieston, he having been left a widower through the death of Mrs. Hamilton’s sister. It is known that Burns wrote some fourteen letters to Charlotte, besides immortalising her in his well-known poem, and some would have us believe that the bard was a serious competitor for her hand. At all events, Burns was back at Harvieston by the middle of August, trailing behind him another of his motley and mysterious fellow-travellers, Dr. Adair of Harrogate. On this occasion, however, the man of medicine was more successful as a lover than the man of rhyme, for Adair sought and secured the hand of the lovely Charlotte, who in time became Mrs. Adair. On the next occasion when Burns visited Harvieston, about a fortnight later and not with Dr. Adair but with Nicol the schoolmaster, he went to visit Rumbling Bridge and the Cauldron Linn with a party from the house, but he remained silent and unimpressed with the scenery.*

* David Beveridge’s “Between the Ochils and the Forth,” p. 300.

Being crossed in love did not suit Rabbie.

But it was on this second visit of Burns to Harvieston on the 26th of August, that he rode over with Dr. Adair to the Tower of Clackmannan to call on Mrs. Katherine Bruce. The place where Mrs. Bruce lived must have been falling into a state of disrepair although she occupied not only the original and ancient Tower, but also the “palatium” or mansion, which for many a day had been built on to the west side. Some eight years later the tower and house are described as fast crumbling into ruins, and exhibiting a sad spectacle of human grandeur, and they afforded only “a very comfortless dwelling to a common ploughman.” Lockhart’s description of the visit is to the brief side:-

“At Clackmannan Tower, the Poet’s Jacobitism procured him a hearty welcome from the ancient lady of the place, who gloried in considering herself as a lineal descendant of Robert Bruce. She bestowed on Burns what knighthood the touch of the hero’s sword could confer, and delighted him by giving as her toast after dinner, ‘Hooki, uncos’ - away strangers.”

The biographer explains in a footnote that this expression is “A shepherd’s cry when strange sheep mingle with the flock.” The account of Dr. Adair himself is fortunately a much fuller one, and it has the added value of being that of an eye-witness and a trained mind. It is as follows:-

“A visit to Mrs. Bruce of Clackmannan, a lady above ninety, the lineal descendant of that race which gave the Scottish throne its brightest ornament, interested his feelings more powerfully. . .. This venerable dame with characteristic dignity, informed me, on my observing that I believed she was descended from the family of Robert Bruce, that Robert Bruce was sprung from her family. Though deprived of speech by a paralytic affection, she preserved her hospitality and urbanity. She was in possession of the hero’s helmet and two-handed sword, with which she conferred on Burns and myself the honour of knighthood, remarking that she had a better right to confer that title than some people. You will, of course, conclude that the old lady's political tenets were as Jacobitical as the Poet's, a conformity which contributed not a little to the cordiality of our reception and entertainment. She gave as her first toast after dinner, Awa uncos, or Away with the strangers. Who these strangers were you will readily understand. Mrs. Adair - ‘the bonniest flower on the banks of the Devon’ forsooth - corrects me by saying it should be, Hooi or Hooi uncos, a sound used by shepherds to direct their dogs to drive away the sheep.”*

* The Book of Robert Burns, Vol. II., p. 333. The Jacobite tendencies of the House of Clackmannan are confirmed from the fact that Mrs. Henry Bruce's own husband was a rebel in the ‘Forty-Five, and his name appears on a list of rebels, whom it was proposed should be attainted, see “Prisoners of the '45,” Vol. I. p 81. There is no evidence of the Attainder being actually executed on him. On the 22nd January, 1747, however, he was arrested while trying to escape to Holland from Leith on board a small boat, the "Fortrose." He was furnished with a pass under an assumed name, signed by the Lord Advocate and the Lord Justice Clerk, see state papers Dom., 120-52, page 58.

John Ramsay of Ochtertyre adds a few more details in his picture of Mrs. Bruce, which is worth repeating :-

“With a very moderate income she has for many years, both in her husband’s time and in her widowhood, seen a great deal of good company in her house, besides giving plentifully to her indigent neighbours. Her plain, hearty meals, seasoned with kindness and care, are more pleasing to a sentimental guest than the studied refinements of the vain and the luxurious. She never changed her fashions, but adhered strictly to the maxims and economies that prevailed in her younger days; and in her home there is no waste, nor any of those modish innovations, which straiten other people, without having any show. When on the borders of four-score she used to rise at six in the morning to see that everything was in order.”

Such a remarkable woman must have warmed the heart of the poet, and together with the beverage of Kilbagie made him forget his unrequited affection. No wonder it is said, though with scant historical evidence, that when the national bard knelt on one knee and administered to her hand the kiss of farewell, the handsome old dame, with a twinkle in her eye, remarked, “What ails ye wi’ my mou’?” Burns was not the gallant to disdain such invitations, and yet neither was he so dull as to miss the humour of it. Perhaps as he jumped on his beast, and clattered down the High Street he looked back and waved a kiss of profound devotion to the last of the brilliant Bruces.

But if Burns passed on, Katherine Bruce remained, and continued to welcome the notabilities of her day. John Jamieson, that meticulous lexicographer of the Scottish Language, when quite a young man was brought to the Tower and introduced to the lady there, who conferred on him, too, the honour of knighthood with the sword of Bruce. Doubtless, too, when Joseph Farington, R.A., arrived at the Tower on the 15th September, 1788, to make three sketches from the Tower Hill and the King’s Seat, he was invited inside the impressive dwelling-house, and accorded a royal welcome. And when at last on the 4th November, 1791, the grand old lady accidentally fell and succumbed, she was found to have provided that the cherished sword and helmet, together with a valuable tree of the Bruce family, should be handed over to the Elgins of Broomhall, who have carefully preserved them to the present day. There is a chain of local evidence to shew that after Mrs. Bruce died her residence was put into the care of a keeper, and that the keeper and his son after him continued to live in the Tower in somewhat uncomfortable quarters. Although at present it is "unoccupied, through the interest and munificence of the Marquis of Zetland the building has been repaired and preserved, so that it is now possible to reach the topmost balustrade without difficulty, and secure a magnificent view of the surrounding country.

Some months after Burns said good-bye to his kindly hostess, however, the parish minister of Clackmannan died. Thomas Oswald had not completed ten years in the parish, when he died on the 2nd December, 1787, and his death was the beginning of religious dissension. It will be recalled that Sir Laurence Dundas thrust him into the charge in the face of stout opposition, and this opposition came forward at his death to see that the assistant, a certain Mr. Moffatt, should succeed to the parish. These were the days when the rights of the titled gentry were being challenged and the ambitious slogans of the French Revolution, then about to break out, were in the air. The most irritating prerogative of the laird was the right to present a minister to a parish, without respect to the wishes of the people. This right was perfectly fair and just, since it was the laird and not the people who found the stipend, and normally the laird was a far more competent judge of ability in a minister than the average crofter or worker, but people devoted to the interest of the Church desired to have a voice in the choice of their pastor.

In Clackmannan Sir Thomas Dundas passed by the favoured one of the people and presented Robert Moodie, shewing in this his superior judgment and discrimination, for he turned out to be one of the finest parish ministers of Scotland, struggling on in the labours of his ministry until he was blind, and dying crowned with honours. The young and ambitious assistant, when his adherents sought to form a separate congregation, led them to believe he would be their minister, and then he disappears from the scene and is heard of no more.

The experience of nine years before, when the Presbytery, Synod and Assembly supported the patron, taught the dissentients that it was useless to contest the settlement of Mr. Moodie in the courts of the Church. A movement started to form a separate congregation, with the object of selecting its own minister, and yet remaining within the Church of Scotland, and the dissentients were on good terms with the brethren they had left. Indeed, inter-communion existed for a time after the separation, particularly while the separatists worshipped on the green, where the Erskine Manse later stood.*

* Now called Erskine House, the property of Alex. R. Syme, Esq., J.P., late Preses of the Erskine Church.

In due course, the 180 members, roughly a third of the old parish congregation, applied to the Relief Presbytery of St. Ninian’s on 19th February, 17 88, for “the supply of sermon,” calling themselves “the forming congregation of Clackmannan,” and meanwhile they proceeded to erect their church on a piece of ground granted by Bailie Andrew Peat at the corner of North Street and the Dovan Wynd or Kirk Wynd. The leaders in this movement were John Dow, the schoolmaster, the shoemaker, the gardener and the butcher. A certain Mr. Thomson of Beith declined a call on the 1st January, 1789, but on the first Sunday of the new year the church, now built and completed, was opened for worship, with this designation on the stone:-

“This Relief House was built at the expense of this congregation, Anne Dom. 1788."

The preacher was the Rev. David Lindsay, who must have impressed his hearers, for he received the call and was duly ordained on 3rd February, 1789. Lindsay did not minister, of course, to all the dissenters in the town, for 59 went to the Burgher and 51 to the Anti-Burgher Churches in Alloa. Nevertheless, the new minister stirred up some interest, for it is said that the church was too small for the ordination ceremony, which had to be carried out in the open air on the Green, which once was called Mallison’s Mealing. Lindsay was an interesting and scholarly person, although not popular as a preacher. He had been a teacher in his earlier days, while a member of the Established Church at Dumbarton, and carried on a school at Old Kilpatrick, to which he attracted young men of parts from all over the country, his forte being the Classics. He started a long and cultured ministry in the county town extending over forty-six years.

The Clackmannan of 1795 is, by a happy chance, almost as well known to us as the town of to-day, and the contemporary evidence of the parish minister makes us appreciate the progress we have made since then. The main street was broad and regular but the houses wretched and mean. The Tolbooth and Court House were still standing, and although in a dilapidated condition the sheriff sometimes held his court there until as late as 1822. If some twenty years before this John Blaw was safely incarcerated here, there must have been at least one apartment of the Tolbooth comparatively wind and water tight, even though the rest was “a heap of ruins! and a nuisance to the public.” At the Tolbooth the fiars prices were annually struck and there also the member of parliament was elected. There were 117 houses with 639 people in them, not a few of whom reached 80 and some actually 90 years of age. Nevertheless, disease carried off its toll of victims. Dysentry broke out in 1785 after a hot summer and a sudden fall of rain, and carried off more than twenty grown-up people in the town alone, for which Dr. Moodie blames the dirty streets, where, he says, “Before every door is a dunghill, on which every species of nuisance is thrown, without the least regard to decency and cleanliness; so that the infection spreads with rapid progress.” Another outbreak, this time of nervous fever in 1789, carried off some of the strongest men in the place. Ignorance of inoculation and of the proper treatment of infection helped to spread disease.

The pows of Kennetpans and Clackmannan were thriving little harbours, handling large consignments of coal and whisky, although the larger ships had to beware of the leaky tide. Some 7,000 tons of Clackmannan coal and about 2,000 tons of Kennet coal were exported annually. In the former case a water-mill, driven by a canal of water* led from the upper reaches of the Little Devon kept the mine dry, while in the latter a fire engine was installed.

* This water-mill seems to have been in use in 1699 (11th Nov.) according to the remarques of Francis Masterton of Parkmill. See Miscellany of Scottish History Society. Vol I., p.474.

Men, women and children all worked in the carrying of the coal, and the sketch drawn by John Clerk of Eldin at this period shews the women with their baskets, toiling up the incline to the surface with their loads. Wooden shovels were used, some of which have recently been recovered, and the writer possesses a fine specimen of a woman’s clay pipe, dainty and petit, glorying still in the ornamentation of the Prince of Wales feathers on the bowl, found in an old working of the Clackmannan mine. The schoolmaster, now Thomas Nairn, since John Dow seceded in 1788, was “passing rich on forty pounds a year,” his exact salary “exclusive of the school wages and a good house and garden.” A school was established at each of the three collieries, and these were maintained chiefly by the subscriptions of the scholars, one of the masters receiving actually £50 a year. The chief heritors were Lord Dundas, Mr. Erskine of Mar, Mr. Bruce of Kennet, Lord Cathcart, Mr. Abercromby of Brucefield, and Lord Alva of the Court of Session, all of whom were more than a little interested in Clackmannan Church by the fact that this old church was falling rapidly into ruin. It was a mean dilapidated building, which evolved into a cruciform design, not by any love for ecclesiastical art but purely by the addition of galleries and side seats to meet increasing needs. It must have been very small indeed for the present church was built round it while it was still standing, and it must have been very old, for in 1795 it was “in a very ruinous state.”

Although by the end of the century the Tower had ceased to be used as a residence, and the estate house of the town was in ruins, it was understood that Lord Dundas was on the point of erecting a suitable dwelling close to the old Tower. The Manse, built in 1740 on a commanding site with a splendid southern exposure, was enhanced with two Adams fireplaces, and glories still in one of the finest panoramic views of the Forth in the whole county. There still remained at Hartshaw, the hunting seat of the Stewarts of Rosyth in the old days, some vestiges of the splendid Tower, equal in size and dignity, it is said, to the Tower of Sauchie, and although the proprietor at the beginning of the eighteenth century pulled down this tower to build a mill and some farm houses, there still survived the ancient coat of arms of the Stewarts.*

* Stat. Acct. 1795, Vol. XIV.. pp. 641/2. Elizabeth Stewart married John Bruce of Clackmannan and died some time after 20th October, 1474, and Sir David Stewart of Rosyth acquired the lands of Easter Kennet in 1458. Marion Herries, the widow of Sir David, married as her second husband Sir David Bruce of Clackmannan, and died in May, 1505. See Dr. William Stephen’s History of Inverkeithing and Rosyth, p. 185.

But if some buildings were dismantled others were erected, and 1795 was marked by the erection of the finest mansion in the whole parish, for in that year Mr. Bruce of Kennet completed the building of the new Kennet House to the design of Mr. Harrison of Lancaster, a residence of simple but dignified proportions, commanding a splendid southern view, and still the pride of the parish.

If Clackmannan lamented the lack of a ferry across the Forth at the Pow and the shockingly bad state of the public thoroughfares, it boasted unblushingly of one youth who fell the terrifying height of 75 1/2 feet from the lower balustrade of the Tower and who walked home unruffled, and of another youth who fell 70 feet below the ground to the bottom of an old coal-pit and was little the worse. If the century drawing to a close was a tough, hard one - and it certainly was - it is comforting to know that the stuff of youth was just as tough and hard.

And so Clackmannan stepped into the expansive and changeful years of the nineteenth century.


For three centuries Clackmannan had been a place of royal residence, and since 1551* a free Burgh of Barony, and the famous and infamous alike had trod its cobbled wynds.

* 12th Feby., 1551. Register of the Great Seal.

These days of splendour were to pass before the onward sweep of the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century, for while the little county town has been left untroubled on the hill, its size and wealth have been eclipsed completely by the thriving, busy industries of Alloa. It is perhaps just as well that when the dark, black hand of commerce descended upon the land, it should have chosen a place without ancient historical associations and romance, except for the glory of the House of Mar, and thus preserved into modern days the medieval simplicities, the old world peace, the ancient and antique red-tiled houses and the majestic Tower of Clackmannan.

Not that Alloa sprang up like a mushroom in a night.
On the contrary, the development of the woollen industry has been the work of well over a hundred years. It was said in 1813 that the Mill was remarkable for its smallness, while in 1837 there were no more than 80 people employed there,* but so rapidly did the market and sales expand that the little county town felt, and felt quite justly, that Alloa was outdistancing it in the race for importance. When in 1822 the Sheriff Court was finally removed into Alloa, the last legal dignities of the old-fashioned town vanished.

* J. Lothian’s Alloa, p. 14.

The ghost of former days returned when a new monarch ascended the throne, for then the Royal Proclamation was affixed to the Mercat Cross of Clackmannan in due and ancient style. Nevertheless, from the angle of the progressive, go-ahead world of industry the town was eclipsed.

We must hasten to affirm, however, that an interesting and vivid life went on in the old loans and wynds of the place. The population steadily increased, the mines on the Carse were busy supplying coal to the numerous ships that sailed into the Pow and Kennetpans, and a large new mill was erected on the banks of the Black Devon, while the distillery activities of Kilbagie were succeeded by the new and flourishing paper mills of Mr. J. A. Weir. In addition to this, it should be recalled that Kennet became, as the century advanced, a place of peace and pilgrimage for the renowned and the great, for the late Lord Balfour of Burleigh, outstanding alike in Church and State, kept open house for premier and preacher, for statesman and orator.

This sense of eclipse, it is worth noting, creeps into the local records in subtle and suggestive ways. The old days of Spartan discipline in church courts was obviously gone, for in the case of even grave moral offences in 1800 the session could exact only a humble 50s. as a penalty. The wealthier offenders in grand Olympian style might close the affair with a Ten Pound cheque, but the grip of the old days was gone, for good and for ill. Though strengthened by the accession of Mr. Burnett Bruce, the Advocate, and determined to hail even the Procurator-Fiscal from Alloa before its bar, still the church felt its power was in eclipse. It saw dimly at first and more clearly as the century advanced that the principle of penalty and smarting discipline was powerless to preserve the moral tone of the community. Cases might occur, of course, where sentiments of ordinary humanity cried out for justice, as when a little baby was left behind the gate of the Manse, exposed for several hours to inclement wintry weather. The mother, reaching Loanside, divulged her cruel deed. The father, oblivious of it all, was treading the wooden deck of a ship of war, seeking for the ships of Napoleon, Even here, however, the worthy elders could only hand over the repentant woman to the sheriff, who housed her safely in the gaol of Alloa. It is doubtful, also, if the Reverend Dr. Robert Moodie was anxious to increase the asperities of human life, for he himself was entering into his long Gethsemane. He was compelled to ask the session for a burying-ground, “enclosed by a wall a little to the west of the North gate and the lairs to the west on the outside of the said ground.” Elizabeth, his little child, was dying. After a few years the grave was opened again, twice indeed in the same year, and in it he laid his sparkling little girl of just 12 and a little toddling laddie of 3.*

* See Tombstone in Clackmannan Churchyard. It is said that once when being worried by his creditors, he delivered a sermon on the text, Mt, 18,26, "Have patience and I will pay thee all."

In the next few years the worthy Doctor was involved in legal difficulties, chiefly, it is reported, concerning unjust taxation, and he had to undergo the rigours of imprisonment. There is an ominous gap in the records of the Kirk Session between the 17th July, 1816, and the 6th August, 1820. A delightful detail has been handed down that when the people of the parish knew of his release from Stirling they went in a body with a coach to meet him. Somewhere about Alloa they came upon their long-lost minister, and unhitching the horse the men took to the traces themselves, and with Dr. Moodie comfortably seated inside, they arrived in great style at Clackmannan. It is not impossible that the legal troubles arose through the erection of the new church. The minister had complained as far back as 1795 that the church was a disgrace, and not without much energy and perseverance did he succeed in starting the machinery to build a new one. The old one must have stood from Reformation times, and even so was perhaps only a patched-up affair, with lofts added to what had been a medieval building. One old sketch by John Clerk of Eldin shews that a steeple in the typical style of Sir Christopher Wren, surmounted the church, but this could hardly have been original. The work of building a new church presented certain difficulties. A much more commodious place was demanded, for it is certain that the previous building was exceedingly small. A unique plan was adopted.

The old church was allowed to stand and be used while the new foundations and walls were being constructed outside it, after which the old building was dismantled and disappeared. This is proved by the fact that beneath the floor of the present church there are graves, which previously had been situated outside the former building. The heritors of a century ago have to be thanked for a magnificent structure, carried out on graceful Gothic lines, and rising in stately lines against the sky, from whatever angle it be seen. The belfry, like the beacon of the shire, points the mind of far-off beholders to things unearthly and sublime. It was not a catastrophe that the heritors, either from economy or from puritanism left the interior unadorned and white, for it leaves the modern church architect a fresh field for expressing the new aesthetic needs of the religious sense. No florid Victorian scheme has to be jettisoned to make way for the simpler beauties of craftsmanship and skill. So the stately pile rose before the eyes of the people, and while the workmen were busy roofing the new edifice, in the third week of June, 1815, the news of Waterloo was brought to Clackmannan. The completion of the church, therefore, was a kind of double joy to the minister, and he needed it, for his bright young son John at the early age of 21 died.

This youth had had a brilliant career at the Military Academy of Edinburgh and was commissioned by the Duke of York for service in the Army, thus following his uncle Captain William Maclean of the 40th Foot. The laudation on the tombstone is very flattering: “He was a brave and noble-minded youth, of a sound understanding and possessing many able and engaging qualities, which endeared him to his companions and to all Who knew him. His whole character gave the fairest promise to his country and his friends of future fame, had it pleased Heaven to prolong his days.” Three years later Mrs. Moodie herself passed away, and the minister, turned blind and now growing frail, took another helpmate in 1830 to lighten his old age. After a long and fruitful ministry he died on the 30th April, 1832.

The shout of the Chartists might have been heard throughout the land as the spirit of the worthy Doctor passed away, bringing in a new age. And truly that old world had its charm. Kilbagie was busy with its distillers and coopers, as the local records testify, the mill at Hartshaw was working away under the hand of William Dickie, at Loanside the hard-working miners kept two inns busy - The Muckle Maiden and The Little Maiden - and if these men recoiled at times from the hardship of working in, the bottom of disagreeable mines, the hardship was lessened by the presence of women working alongside them.*

* 3rd Dec., 1820. On 19th April, 1813, Clackmannan Friendly Fund Society started, and on 4th August, 1825, the Kennet Equitable Society to provide for funeral expenses at death, but regular soldiers and miners were excluded. See Extinct Clackmannanshire Societies, J. Lothian, pp. 5/6.

Little wonder that the women sought comfort now and then in lighting up their neat little clay pipes of tobacco, and with their hard clogs and wooden shovels toiling hour after hour in the darkness of the mine. If the fellowship of work developed occasionally into a more affectionate relationship, as it certainly did, no one could blame the toilers. Nor was money too plentiful in the hands of the workers, for although John Anderson of Port-Glasgow left £90 sterling to the Session for the benefit of the poor, the non-essentials of life were expensive. A letter arrived at the Post Office one day in 1826, but it was priced so highly that the poor woman, to whom it was addressed had a sorry task to raise the money to pay for it. The shipping activities at the Pow and Kennetpans went on apace, and if the adjacent port of Kincardine is a safe guide there were many sailing boats anchored in the river. An old pamphlet of 1823, printed by Lothian of Alloa, indicates that the ships of Kincardine were insured by contract for the large sum of over £100,000, and as many as 90 ships are named along with the names of their owners.*

* See “Alloa Advertiser," 4th Aug., 1923.

Many of these ships, we know, loaded their cargo of coals at the Pow and Kennetpans and delivered them at most of the East Coast harbours. No wonder that the sea lured more than one lad from Clackmannan, and if one, as we have seen, was serving on the Lower Deck during the Napoleonic Wars, another one, young Laurence Dundas Bruce from Kennet, was serving as a “middy” in the Ward Room. Although but 17 years of age when he died in 1817, young Bruce was surely one of the most favoured sons of history, for he was actually serving on the “Bellerophon ” on the 15th of July, 1815, when the great Napoleon mounted the deck and made the historic surrender before his very eyes. The young “middy,” it is said, graced the occasion by pulling off the boatswain’s moustache on the quarter-deck, but the occasion was none the less historic for that.*

* Plaque in Church of Clackmannan. See "Reminiscences of the Emperor Napoleon" by a Midshipman of the Bellerophon, p.218, published by Bells Bradfute, Edinburgh, 1837.

Two facts belonging to this period illustrate the trend of events.
For over 500 years the sheriff had held his court in the town of Clackmannan, but the Tolbooth had now fallen in ruins, and it is doubtful if the Court could have been held there. Certainly the gaol had been removed to Alloa, and in addition it was a troublesome and pointless arrangement that brought the offenders out to the little county town to be tried and sentenced. The last court was held on the 21st of January, 1822, and when that court ended a long and interesting and romantic chapter of history was ended also.*

* See Sheriff Court Records, Alloa.

Not without some anguish and regret must the people have watched the disappearance of the majesty and pomp of law.

This feeling of regret, not to say this sense of inferiority, must have made the inhabitants guard more jealously than hitherto the symbols of its grandeur. Efforts were made more than once to have the famous “Stone of Mannan ” removed from the Market Cross to Alloa, but these were stoutly resisted by local sentiment.

In 1829 Robert Bruce of Kennet was ordained an elder of the Kirk, and he brought with him to the office a fine loyalty and a unique experience. He had served in the Grenadier Guards, and had fought in the Peninsula and at Waterloo. He had sat for four years in the House of Commons, and he it was who first made serious claim to the title of Lord Balfour of Burleigh, a claim that was allowed some five years after he died. Such a man was capable of measuring the calibre of the new minister, whom Sir Laurence Dundas presented to the parish on the 27th September, 1832. This was none other than Dr. John Fleming, the most eminent zoologist of his day, who besides five important volumes on scientific subjects, wrote also some 129 contributions to learning. Little wonder that Clackmannan could not hold him for more than two years, for in 1834 he was made the Professor of Natural Philosophy in King’s College, Aberdeen, and after the Disruption he became Professor of Natural Science in the New College, Edinburgh. Such an intellectual giant must have raised the prestige of the church, and it is clear that the laird and the minister worked hand in hand, and both were determined that Clackmannan should cherish its rights and possessions. They put their minds together, and planned to place the ancient Stone in a safe position. Having chosen a suitably shaped plinth from among the large boulders at the Abbey Craig at Causewayhead, they put the task of removing this mass of rock into the capable hands of Mr. Francis Horne, the famous vat-builder of Clackmannan, who with twenty stout horses and many willing helpers, set it up at the Cross. Then having seen that the Stone of Mannan was clamped together with iron bars and a hole made for a flag-staff the sacred and valuable emblem of authority was hoisted on to the top of the plinth, where it rests to this day. That this took place in 1833 is indicated by an authority, who wrote in 1889 - not very long after the event — and also by the file of the “Stirling Journal” for 27th June, 1834, where it states that on the anniversary of Bannockburn the Tower of Clackmannan was bedecked with a flag bearing the words “Scotland is Free,” and another flag with the Scottish Arms was hoisted on the Stone of Mannan.
This preservation of the ancient and emblematic Stone is significant.
It is the reaction of the town to the crude and cruel encroachments of industrialism.

Changes were taking place, meanwhile, in the Relief Church, for David Lindsay, who by his learning built up a cultured congregation, died after a protracted illness, just a fortnight after Dr. Fleming had left the parish. James A. Miller, who succeeded to the charge on Christmas Day, 1834, inaugurated an era of trouble, for although after three years he claimed that the numbers had increased by one-third, there was a debt of £70 on the property, nor was there any manse. The Presbytery when applied to for help, promptly told them to help themselves first, after which it would try to assist them. The minister and people were so divided that the superior court had to counsel forbearance and kindness, and so acute did the difference become that Mr. Miller proclaimed from the pulpit that he would have nothing more to do with them. Even when on 1st of June, 1841, the young preacher left the town, matters were not at an end, for he pressed a claim for money still due to him, and this claim prejudiced the congregation just at the very meeting when they sought William Brown as their new minister. Not that Mr. Brown appeared in the light of treasure trove, because he too was faced with trouble, for Kelso presbytery was calling him to book for defaming his last congregation. Altogether it was a pretty kettle of fish! Nor were these early fears unrealised, for the stipend had to be reduced by £10 to £65, and although the debt was wiped out, there were only 80 working-class members left in the congregation in 1849. The stipend sank to £50 and the congregation to 60, and in addition the minister fell into protracted sickness, which together with general depression led him to demit office on the 2nd of April, 1867. Had it not been for the peculiarly winning qualities of the new pastor, the Rev. Andrew Whyte, M.A., the Relief cause would have died in the town, but so happy was he to be near the centre of Scotland, after having spent fourteen years in South Ronaldshay, that new heart came to the people, the stipend shot up to £120 and the membership soared to 200.

Within a couple of years a fine new manse was erected, at a cost of £810, and the little congregation raised by itself no less than £510 of this sum. Even in Mr. Brown’s ministry, unpropitious though it was, £200 had been spent on alterations and improvements of the church, and Professor John Eadie preached on the occasion of the re-opening on 8th June, 1856. What a stout and self-sacrificing set of Christians these were!

The same Andrew Whyte was not without his cross in Clackmannan, and it was a cross that seemed to grow heavier as the years gathered on his head, turning his hair white and crowning him with a halo of saintliness that only suffering could fashion. His two bright boys, just 16 and 18, went off one Saturday morning for a skate on one of the shallow ponds of the Carse along with young John Bayne, but changing their minds, as boys will, they made off for Gartmorn Dam, which at a cost of some £3,000 in 1867 had been developed into an extensive loch to supply Alloa with a constant supply of water. The report is that one slipped through the ice, when the second went to his assistance, and as he disappeared from view the third tried to lend a hand, until all three were lost. Far into that long, dark, dreary February night they sought for the lifeless bodies, and a darker Sunday morning never dawned in the town than when the cart came rumbling up the Wynd with its sad and silent load. Nearly sixty years have passed and men still talk of that tragedy with bated breath. Through such a vale of suffering did Andrew Whyte come with a heart more tender and a faith more strong, and who can wonder that his face still haunts the holy chamber of many a heart with sweetness and grace. With quiet heroism and loyalty Andrew Whyte stood at his post, and died there on 19th November, 1895. The short and inspiring ministry of the Rev. T. B. Hogarth lifted the congregation in both hope and finance, and there were many sorry hearts when he left for the blossoming suburb of Milngavie. A last effort was made to retain him by increasing his stipend, but he went. At this time the Union of the Free and the United Presbyterian Churches was approaching realisation, and the time was thought ripe for joining the two such churches in Clackmannan. The two presbyteries seemed favourably disposed, but when it came to handling the two congregations the difficulties were insurmountable and the attempt at union had to be abandoned.*

* And yet 30 years later three separate congregations came together as one.

This opened the way for the ordination of the Rev. Hugh Carmichael, M.A., who, curiously enough, was connected with Milngavie, the very place to which Mr. Hogarth had been translated, and incidentally this ordination at Clackmannan on the 24th of October, 1900, proved to be the last that was ever carried through in the old United Presbyterian Church of Scotland. For over 30 years Mr. Carmichael piloted his loyal people through changing times and the difficult War years, and shepherded them faithfully and lovingly, until without the loss of a single member, they entered into the larger fold of a single and united congregation in 1932. But we must go back now to 1835, when the Rev. Peter Balfour was presented to the parish by Laurence, Lord Dundas. It must be confessed that if the system of patronage were tested by Clackmannan it would triumphantly survive, for not once was a really incompetent person chosen to fill the pulpit, and in this case as in so many others a truly outstanding person was selected. After two short ministries, one at Evie and the other at Tealing, he began his twenty-seven years of labour in the county town with ripe experience and more than a common share of culture. He was tall and slim, imposing both in stature and character, and of all the prominent preachers of the parish he was the one whose joy was freest from sorrow. His wife and family all long survived him, and crowned him with happiness. He was exceedingly fond of trees and flowers, and the garden, ever a comfort and inspiration to the preacher, he extended and glorified with a rich choice of trees. He has left an enduring memorial in his lucid and vivid account of the state of the Town in 1842, and not less creditable to him was the erection of Sauchie Church, a fine and imposing structure designed to meet the spiritual needs of the rapidly increasing workers at Newtonshaw and Devonside. It speaks volumes for the energy and ideals of the young pastor that the 1800 souls in the north-west of the parish weighed on his mind and soul, and the first task he set before himself was to supply them with convenient religious ordinances. It was no easy matter in those days to start a new congregation, to instil fresh loyalties, and to find money for an adequate place of worship, but let Mr. Balfour speak for himself :-

“In the north-west division of the parish, there is a population of 1800, whose average distance from the parish church is more than three miles. The writer, feeling deeply conscious of his utter inability to do anything like justice to a population of about 5000, scattered over a surface of 19 square miles, set himself to the task of endeavouring to raise money for the erection of an Extension Church in the north-west division of the parish. By the Divine Blessing on the exertions which were employed by himself and others, funds for the purpose were at length realised, and the new church will be finished by the beginning of January, 1842. The writer now entertains the cheering hope of seeing ere long an ordained minister labouring in the new parish of Sauchie and of being thereby himself enabled to concentrate his exertions on a somewhat manageable field.”

This is the perfect parish minister speaking, with a keen sense of duty and a large and penetrating vision. Just as worthily as Wren in St. Paul’s so might the spirit of Peter Balfour say in Sauchie Church, “If you seek my memorial, look around you.”

The Clackmannan of a century ago is depicted faithfully in the pages of the Statistical Account, and although the writer has the guidance of the previous account by Dr. Moodie in 1795, he provides valuable data for his own period and conditions. The system of embankments alongside the Forth, for instance, which in its beginning thrilled the heart of Moodie, is now developed to such a complete degree that a stretch of sixteen miles of banking links up Stirling and Kincardine on the north side, thus bringing innumerable acres of fine land under cultivation. It is clear, also, that the coal seams were being worked in a much more thorough fashion than ever before, and the wise and worthy minister, rather than attempt scientific themes beyond him, allowed James Wilson, the manager of the Clackmannan Coal Works, to explain the work of the different collieries. The whole eleven seams of coal were being worked by the five concerns, Clackmannan, Devon, Kennet and Gartary, and Alloa Coal Companies, and were contained in a space of 110 fathoms, though separated from each other by sandstone, shale, clay and iron-stone. The daily output was 500 tons, 200 of which were used for melting iron at the Devon works, while 300 were shipped to different parts of Scotland and the Continent. More than 500 people found employment in working, transporting and shipping it, and the price per ton was the exceedingly modest one of Five Shillings. It was believed at that time that the seams had been worked for about two hundred years, and it was reckoned, since the greater part of the coal remained, that it would last for another two hundred. Although, as we have noticed, the high London tariffs affected the whisky industry of the district in a very adverse fashion at the end of the eighteenth century, it is worth noting that in 1842 the work at Kilbagie was going merrily on. The stills and buildings covered an area of almost seven acres, the whole of which was guarded by a stout wall. As many as 700 cattle were fed there, and something like 850 acres of land were under the cultivation of the distillery, which still marketed its commodity chiefly in London. In addition to Kilbagie there was another distillery, situated at Clackmannan, but it could not compare in size with the world famous Kilbagie, and its market was confined to Scotland. An illustration of how industries vanish, without leaving a trace behind is found not only in distilling but also in the extensive brickwork, which flourished in Clackmannan a hundred years ago. because all that is left to-day is the name of “Pottery,” enjoyed by a short row of red-tiled houses, now gone, running down towards the “Mary Brig’” at the Black Devon.

Agriculture, then as now, absorbed a steady number of workers, whose average yearly wage was £12 12/-, besides 6 1/2 bolls of oatmeal, and each day an allowance of one Scotch pint of milk. A brisk sale of barley pertained through the adjacent breweries of Alloa and the local distilleries. It is in treating of cattle, in particular, that the parish minister enters with zest into his description, for culling from his own experience of milking cows, he asserts that the yield in summer time amounted to 10 and 12 Scotch pints per day. Besides quarrying operations at Craigrie, the Black Devon and Sauchie, amounting in all to an annual value of £300, it is worth pointing out that some people were engaged in weaving woollen fabrics, not for the Alloa Mill, but for manufacturers in Alva and Tillicoultry, while some women were actually engaged in sewing work for business houses in Glasgow, the remnant, no doubt, of the tambouring school started in the town in 1795 by Glasgow men. This effort to develop tambouring, along with the attempt to teach village boys how to weave with a fly shuttle, seems to have quite failed, for it is stated that “the earnings from this source are now most lamentably small,” and the “females ” connected with it have to maintain themselves by field-labour and the preparing of bark.

It is interesting to note that the work of sound education went on apace in the district, and that no less than seven day-schools were functioning. The chief one was, of course, the parish school in the town, the teacher of which was also the session-clerk and the clerk to the heritors, whose income was “highly respectable.” Kennet was well-favoured with a handsome school and master’s house, built by the Laird of Kennet, with an endowment and a very neat garden. The master’s wife gave a helping hand in the work of educating the girls of the village, and altogether a sound grounding was given in the usual branches of knowledge, but Mr. and Mrs. Bruce saw to it that scriptural knowledge was a very special feature of the discipline, and they too, whenever they saw signs of exceptional brilliance, nurtured and directed it into higher channels of service in the outside world. In 1847 a new teacher of the name of Whitecross came to Kennet, and remained there till he died in 1855. A man of genuine piety, Whitecross gained fame as the author of those once popular books, “Whitecross’s Anecdotes, illustrative of the Shorter Catechism and of the Holy Scriptures.“ Linking up not with Clackmannan Church but with the Rev. Peter Macdowall of Alloa, Mr. Whitecross and his family “trudged four miles every Sunday to get a sight of his beautiful, loving face.” One little daughter of 15 years of age was attending a Ladies’ School in Alloa, walking the long distance each day. After teaching for a time in the school of her aunt in Liverpool, Helen went out to Mexico as companion to the wife of a wealthy merchant in Mazatlan. After this thrilling and delightful experience, she returned to act as governess to the late Lord Balfour of Burleigh and his sister. Finally she sailed for Adelaide as the wife of a distinguished minister there, the Rev. James Lyall, and after a life of noble service in the church, died in 1902. Perhaps Margaret, the other sister, was even more famous, because in 1864 she married the world-renowned missionary, Dr. John G. Paton, whose feats of heroism and romance in the New Hebrides have become legends and epics of missionary zeal. Behind the exploits and the unflinching faith of that pioneer of Christianity we can see the bright little girl of Kennet Village and the home of holy zeal in which she lived. The other schools at Devonside, Westfield, Forest Mill and Newton Shaw never produced such fine flowers of piety and evangelical fervour as Kennet, although they each fulfilled a noble function.

It is worth recording also that Sauchie in 1842 belonged to the Earl of Mansfield, Clackmannan to the Earl of Zetland, Brucefield belonged to the Rt. Hon. Lord Abercromby, eldest son of the renowned Sir Ralph, Aberdona was in the hands of James Erskine, grandson of Lord Alva, and John Stein lived at Kennetpans.

The town boasted of two libraries, one for the rich and one for the poor, but there was little thirst for knowledge. If the thirst for liquor was much stronger and was well catered for by the numerous public-houses, an improvement was noticeable in the drinking habits of the people, while in matters of dress, cleanliness, food and general comfort a great advance could be registered. The blazing fires that warmed all the houses of the town, through the abundance of coal, was, and still is, a feature that struck the outsider very favourably.

The worthy minister could hardly have laid down his pen, when the rumblings of controversy in religion sounded in his ears. It developed into an issue between the civil and spiritual powers, and soon, in 1843, the great catastrophe of the Disruption overtook the Church. Actually, Clackmannan had fought its fight in 1788 on this same question, as a result of which the Relief Church was born, but so deep did the cleavage sink into the hearts of the people, that a fresh cause was started in the town, under the burning zeal of Mrs. Bruce of Kennet, and by 1845 a beautiful little church was built and the Free Kirk called its first minister, the Rev. John McMillan. A man of substance and sense, Francis Horne, worked loyally for the upbuilding of both church and congregation, and was ably helped by his young nephew, James Clark. Later on, too, the Weirs of Kilbagie gave of their devotion and wealth to the cause, and altogether it was an enthusiastic and happy little band that kept the flag of freedom flying amid the winds of controversy. The presiding genius was undoubtedly Mrs. Bruce, who never spared herself in the cause of the church. Her kinswoman, Miss Hamilton, gifted a church to Clydebank Free congregation, but owing to indisposition she could not lay the foundation stone, so Mrs. Bruce performed this ceremony in her stead with her usual modesty and charm. It is remembered yet that every Sunday morning the Kennet waggonette came swinging along the main road towards the town bearing Mrs. Bruce to the gate of the little Free Kirk, and continuing up the hill to the Auld Kirk with the worthy elder and Laird of Kennet.

It shews how deep the religious cleavage went into the soul of Scotland, when a great house like that of the Bruces was divided, and yet it shews also that the cleavage was not complete, for out of Kennet arose a son, who, combining the two high ideals of his home, glimpsed the vision of a church both national and free and marched steadily forward to realise it. Besides more modest gifts, such as the entire Communion linen, Mrs. Bruce gave ungrudgingly to her church, and her dearest wish was to see the living of the minister secured for all time. This large demand she bequeathed to her son, when she died on the 11th of April, 1885, and he promptly fulfilled the demand on 30th January, 1886, by drawing up a Declaration of Trust, ensuring a definite income to the Rev. James Drummond and his successors in office. This minister succeeded the Rev. John McMillan in 1855 and exercised a potent spiritual influence for almost 40 years, one of the longest ministries ever exercised in Clackmannan. Like others he had his own heavy crosses to carry, but years brought maturity and richness to his character, and his white flowing locks formed a patriarchal sight in the streets of the town. Latterly he succumbed to the frailties of old age, and in 1894 a Junior Colleague was appointed in the person of the Rev. Walter M. Ure, a young probationer of promise. After ten years of unflagging service he, too, fell into a decline, and lingered on for three years or so ere he died. During this difficult period the work of the ministry was carried on by the Rev. David Guthrie, and so efficiently and acceptably to the people that when the church became vacant the locum tenens was asked to become the minister. For twenty-six years he maintained a high pulpit level, and in unpropitious times kept his flock intact and happy, so that its accession was a source of strength to the larger spiritual life of the community.

The main social and religious life, however, was in neither the Relief nor the Free church, but flowed broadly and powerfully in the time-honoured channel of the old and historic church on the Hill. For twenty-seven years Mr. Balfour laboured faithfully in teaching and preaching, and his tall, perpendicular form was to be seen each day moving in and out of the homes of the people. He was partnered in life by a woman, who, besides the culture and knowledge of the teaching profession, brought to her new life wit and sense and personal charm that re-appeared in the children of the manse. The most distinguished child of the manse, John Blair Balfour, was born there on 11th July, 1837, and choosing the law as his profession, won honours as the Dux of Edinburgh Academy in 1855, a master of Greek Iambics, an outstanding student in Arts and Law in the University, and when he passed as advocate in 1861, he was assured of success. Within ten years he had built a practice which yielded the highest income of any member of the legal profession in Edinburgh, and his legal opinion was ardently sought after. In 1880 he was made Solicitor-General by Mr. Gladstone, for he had always espoused the Liberal cause, and soon he was sent to Westminster for Clackmannan and Kinross, a constituency that continued to support him for nineteen years. Though dubbed an "aristocratic Whig" his progress was unchecked, for the following year he was made Lord Advocate, which office he held intermittently until 1899, when he was made a Lord of the Court of Session. In 1902 he was made Baron Kinross of Glasclune. He was very popular as a politician, and the echo of his triumphal progress through the constituency in the great Gladstonian campaigns remains in the pages of the local press, and in the memory of many people still alive. His secret was neither passionate political conviction nor penetrating legal and logical acumen, but an unfailing courtesy, an unerring tact, and a conscientious desire to help both high and low with his legal knowledge. He never forgot the people of Clackmannan, and lavished his sage advice on them free, gratis and for nothing. “Among the choice gifts bestowed upon him at his birth was a peculiar sweetness of disposition, which it seemed all but impossible to ruffle.” And they never forgot that that birth took place at their door, in the manse on the hill.

In 1862 the Rev. John Gilchrist succeeded to the parish, having ministered at Orwell and Dunbog for some twenty years. Previous ministries perhaps took the edge off his enjoyment of the work in Clackmannan and while there are not a few who boast of his having baptised them into the Christian Church, his labour of fifteen years, while effective and useful, has not left the profound impression of others. If he cherished a love for the quaint old quiet town on the slope of the Hill, his wife, it is said, did not share such a love, and in the end he died and was buried in Edinburgh on the 7th of February, 1877. By a happy coincidence when the Rev. Alexander Irvine Robertson came from the West Church of Aberdeen to succeed him, the Laird of Kennet was just two years his senior, so that the stage was set for one of the happiest and most remarkable combination of talents in Scotland. The manse of Blair Atholl was a good beginning for anyone, and particularly for the son of Dr. Irvine, who when he had completed his training in St. Andrews University and Edinburgh, consolidated his studies for a year at Morven, learning his apprenticeship in preaching at Clunie from 1871 to 1874, tried out his physical powers in the most taxing parish in Aberdeen, and finally under the aegis of Lord Balfour of Burleigh, settled down for his most notable ministry in the ancient and historic manse of Clackmannan. At first a depleted physical condition made it necessary for the new minister to winter abroad, but gradually his powers returned in full measure so that the life of the place, under the sweep of his expanding and commanding personality, developed and deepened. He served strong and sustained meat at his diets of worship, and while inspiring a wholesome awe in the frivolous, he was tender as a child at heart. He drew no distinction between his own flock and others when his powerful influence was sought after, and on the very day when his fatal “shock” first appeared, he had travelled all the way from Loch Awe to Edinburgh and back, just to speak a word of recommendation for a member of the Erskine Church. For forty-nine years he maintained a powerful ministry, and his name and memory form the most potent ministerial influence in the community. A lingering illness made it necessary for the Rev. R. A. Agnew, M.A., to follow him, and after eleven years of devoted and self-sacrificing service designed to smooth away the difference of congregational ethos, Mr. Agnew was translated to Cardross in 1932.

The feature of public life for half a century in Clackmannan was the combined power of laird and minister. It was said that between them they ran the whole life of the place, and if so, then it must be said they ran it well. The minister admired the laird and the laird stood by the minister, so that the church exerted an almost unexampled influence and uplift. In joining the kirk session in 1874 Alexander Hugh Bruce, sixth Lord Balfour of Burleigh, was following the example of many of his forbears, whose lives were ever his inspiration. It is noticeable that since Thomas Boston set his stamp upon Kennet in 1696 Kennet produced elders for Clackmannan Kirk, and perhaps the saintly influence of Helen Whitecross, the erstwhile governess, left its mark on the mind of the new elder. Fresh from Eton and Oxford, which never succeeded in robbing him of his love for Scotland and its Church, he entered the political and religious life of his country with zest and sincere passion. He made a profound impression in both spheres, and if he was accused of being an autocrat it was because he knew from experience that the best committee is a committee of one. He was one of the most favoured confidants of Queen Victoria, and acted with conspicuous success as Secretary of State for Scotland, from 1895 to 1903. He was no blind puppet of the old Tory Party, but could stand almost alone before the House of Lords, and his enquiry into the Fairfield Strike during the Great War shewed his sympathy with the working classes in the Clyde area.

He was, as well, the ideal Churchman.
His home at Kennet was beautiful, the atmosphere upright and idealistic, the kirk was dear to him, so dear that he would travel from London to take his place on the session, and nothing pleased him better than to entertain the great preachers of Victoriana, Spurgeon, MacLaren, Parker and Farrar, who invariably preached in Clackmannan Church on the Sabbath morning. His distinguished lay visitors, including the redoubtable Mr. Andrew Carnegie, without fail helped to fill the Kennet pew. But the master passion of Lord Balfour was to unify the church life of Scotland. His first speech in the Assembly was on this theme, and the union of 1900 awakened fresh hope in his heart, and as the new century advanced the vision became clearer and clearer, until with almost his last breath in the Assembly of 1921 he outlined with lofty eloquence the blazing glory of a united Church as if he were looking on the seamless robe of Christ. But like Moses he was not permitted to enter into the Promised Land of his dreams. He died on 6th July, 1921.

In 1857 Kilbagie House changed hands, for it was then purchased by Mr. W. Downing Bruce, the male representative of the Garlet branch of the Bruces, which traces its descent to Alexander, the third son of Robert Bruce of Wester Kennet, who, born about 1600, died in 1664. This Bruce had a pugnacious and pedantic strain in him, for besides being at loggerheads with the Laird of Kennet, he dashed into a trivial controversy in the pages of the “North British Agriculturist” with all the heat and verbosity that one associates with theology. He was a capable lawyer, however, and while at Kilbagie he compiled a brochure entitled “Collections for a History of Clackmannanshire,” rather a misnomer for what are actually most valuable extracts from the Balfour of Burleigh Chest of family papers.*

* The only copies available are in the Advocates’ Library in Edinburgh, and among the papers of Lord Balfour of Burleigh.

After a meteoric burst into the public life of the community, he returned to London and finally was appointed Justice in Jamaica, where after some twenty years he died. His son, Captain Bruce, died while in command of the H.M.S. “Galatea” in 1901.

Increased prosperity during the century made certain improvements possible. Francis Horne came forward in 1865 and presented the Tolbooth Steeple with a fine new clock, fitted with a skilful mechanical device for automatic lighting.*

* The inventor was dismissed when he had finished his apprenticeship, says legend!

The community was so touched by this act of liberality, for it cost the donor a round hundred pounds to carry it through, that an illuminated address was presented to him the following year in the name of the citizens of Clackmannan.

In 1867 Gartmorn Dam was reconstructed, and the Alloa Mill bought up much ground in the old part of Alloa in order to further develop their trade and output, and, it is said, drove a good bargain in the matter. Kennetpans House was occupied at this time by Mr. Sword, and later in 1871 by Mr. Neil Sutherland, while the harbour seems to have maintained its trade with remarkable persistence, glorying in the name of a “seaport.” In 1867 there was a cart-race there between Annie Aitken and John Ainsley. In 1869 the Earl of Zetland paid a memorable visit to the ancient and royal town, and a splendid reception was accorded to both him and the people of the place on the lawns of Kennet by Lord and Lady Balfour. It was not easy for Lord Zetland to retain close touch with the tenants of the Clackmannan Estate, when there was no residence in the near neighbourhood, and this was an unique opportunity of their coming together. With something like 300 guests this must have presented one of the finest spectacles for many a day. 1871 saw changes at Kennetpans for, we are informed, the great distillery was turned into a large factory for the making of chemical fertilisers, and it is rather unfortunate that the projectors were just a little ahead of their times, for nowadays there is a world-wide market for such material. At any rate nothing came of the venture and to-day the great walls speak sadly of the mighty days that seem gone for ever.

But if one project failed another succeeded.
In 1876, a subsidiary factory was built on the bank of the Black Devon, to deal with the heavier wools of Messrs. Patons & Sons. This building was completed in 1876, and during August of that year the machinery was installed into it. The construction of this mill, is quite unlike that of Alloa, and different from the typical Scottish mill. It was, in fact, an exact copy of the normal Lancashire mill, and is perhaps none the worse of that. In any case, the presence of the mill in the town has brought steady work to some hundreds of people, and lifted a load of worry from many a home, since the work is comparatively pleasant and has proved remarkably constant.

Another step forward in the social life was registered on the 13th of November, 1887, for Lady Balfour of Burleigh on that date laid the foundation stone of the Public Hall. The idea originated at Kennet, and was forwarded to realisation by the efforts of Mr. Thomson Paton and Lord Zetland. At the large and representative gathering Lord Balfour expressed the hope that a fine frontage would be added, with Reading Room, Library, etc., and it is pleasing to record that his dream has been more than realised. In 1892 a fine New Pavilion was opened for the Bowling Club, and three years later Lawn Tennis at Chapelhill were prepared. And thus it was that the amenities of Clackmannan were increased.

The first decade of the twentieth century was remarkable for little, apart from the fuller development of commerce and industry. Considering that coal had been extracted from the area for some three hundred years at least, it is pleasing to note that the major type of accident has been quite absent. Nevertheless on the 6th of February 1906, a dark cloud hung over the homes of Clackmannan, for it was reported that five men were entombed in Pretoria, or what is now called, Tullygarth Pit. Curiously enough the victims all bore the same name of Forsyth, and four of the five were called Alex., there being two fathers and two sons. For a time all hope was gone, but so pluckily did the rescuers work that after a few days they came within knocking distance, and soon afterwards the district nurse, Miss McCallum, was able to slide hot Bovril down a plank into the black, flooded hole where the men were lying. The news spread like wildfire that the men were alive and safe, and Lady Balfour was afterwards fond of saying that she never saw anything so fine as on that occaision. The bell of the parish church rung out merrily calling the whole people to thank the Almighty for such a deliverance, and up streamed lord and miner, lady and servant to the House of God. The church was packed with worshippers whose hearts were brimming over with unspeakable joy, and they sang as they had never sang before. Later a sum of £155 was raised, so that £10 was presented to each of the victims, while the 57 rescuers each each received a gold medal. It was a happy function that took place in April of the same year, when Lord Mar presided and Lady Balfour made the presentations.
And so the shadow lifted.

But it lifted only for a little.
For from 1910 the clouds of war threatened to gather, and at last in August, 1914, they burst. The youths of Clackmannan answered the call, and fifty-three of them offered up the supreme sacrifice. Their names are carved in stone on an elegant memorial that adorns the western entrance into the town, and it faces the north, where the sun never rises or sets. “To the innermost hearts of their own land they are known,” and more than in the large city their names and memories are known and cherished. As each passed it was like a personal blow. But no name gathers up such bitter regret, such wounded hopes, to itself as that of Robert Bruce, the Master of Burleigh.

He was a possession not only of Kennet but of the whole town, and when he fell at Le Cateau on the 26th of August, 1914, the light went out of many a home beside Kennet. “Bobby Bruce,” as he was called by his beloved Argylls, was a seasoned soldier, although but thirty-four, for he had roughed it through the South African campaign under French, had endured the rigours of India, and in 1912 with the rank of Bimbashi in the Egyptian Army, he helped to subdue turbulent tribes at the sources of the Nile. The next year he was awarded the Order of the Medjidi for his work on the Delimiting Commission on Sudan and Uganda. Altogether before 1914 he held four medals and five clasps. Little wonder that his name remains in the regiment as a legend to the present day, and in the mess, stories are told of how he disappeared into the Himalayas to return weeks later as the perfect Tibetan priest, of how he quoted unblushingly the tactical theories of military experts to his unsuspecting examiner, of how in the hopeless confusion of Le Cateau, disdaining surrender, he fought to the end like a lion, and like a hero died. None more buoyant than he ever stepped out of Kennet and none more welcome stepped into the humble homes of the poor. At home with both King and cottar, he was popular in every sphere, for humour and courage met and mingled in his noble nature.

He leaves a white unbroken glory, a gathered radiance,
A width, a shining peace, under the night.

When the sixth Lord Balfour died in 1921, therefore, it was his second son George who succeeded to the title, and the succession is secured in his son, Robert, the Master of Burleigh.

Two major changes have taken place in Clackmannan since these stirring days of war. A new town has arisen to the east of the old and quaint houses, and far from the shadow of the majestic Royal Tower. If these terrace houses bear the monotonous stamp of modernity upon them, and contrast unfavourably with the sweet and clean little red-tiled houses of High Street, they profess to be more hygienic, and life is sweeter to most people than even beauty and antiquity.

The final change is for the better, and is one of harmony and peace.
The old religious feuds and antipathies were laid away on the 27th of July, 1932, for on that day the three separate congregations of Clackmannan became one united and harmonious people of God. The way was paved for this happy event by the translation of the Rev. R. A. Agnew to Cardross, and the resignations of the Rev. Hugh Carmichael and the Rev. David Guthrie, so that the new congregation was able to call a new minister of its own hearing and choosing. Each congregation that day met in its own church, hallowed by long and gracious and precious memories, and at a given time each streamed out to mix and mingle in the open street, and then as one single stream they moved into the ample space of the old Parish Church, that spot so sacred to centuries of believers, so noble in proportions, so precious with the dust of village fathers and stones “all over grey wi’ moss.” A thrill went through the crowded fane as each one took the seat he wished, none daring to forbid, and as the Moderator of the Presbytery, the late Rev. Dr. J. M. Witherow of Bridge of Allan, unfolded with golden eloquence the glory of their act, each soul knew well the page of history was turning. The wounds of a century and a half were closed and healed, and three gleaming strands of Scottish religion, each with its own colour and its own brilliance, have been woven into a richer and stronger tissue to cover the soul of the royal town with holiness and peace.

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