Moments in my eBook Library — 17 — a Scottish family byway

Looks impressive, eh!

You will find that under the surname Christison.

And here as you have seen more than once before is my grandfather, Roy Hampton Christison, as a young child in the late 1880s.

My cousin Ray Hampton Christison has written an excellent history of Roy’s father, John Hampton Christison, with detailed background. I received a copy in 2020. In that book Ray mentions that the Christisons are part of Clan Farquarson.

Just the other day Ray posted on Facebook some music — a lone piper at this cairn by the River Dee, not far from Balmoral — where once, according to possible but not certain story, great-grandfather John (on the cover of Ray’s book) danced, perhaps before Queen Victoria.

According to this Farquarson site:

The Clan Farquharson existed primarily along the River Dee in the western portion of Aberdeenshire. Yet it was active in the northeast parishes of Perthshire, the Strathdee parishes of western Aberdeenshire, the Strathdon parishes of western Aberdeenshire, and the northwestern parishes of Angus. 

Throughout its history it was a fierce protector of the Stuart Dynasty in Scotland, including after it was supplanted as the royal family of Scotland and then the United Kingdom.

One of the most common question for non-native Scots is how to pronounce Farquharson. The closest way to pronounce the Clan name is “farkerson.”  

It so happens that I have an 1875 2-volume history of the clans and regiments of Scotland in my eBook Library — as you might expect!

Here is the title page — a screenshot on my laptop of it sitting over the Rampant Scotland account of the Farquarsons.

My Calibre eBook reader is of course searchable and this background to the famous Battle of Culloden (1746) says:

Each clan had a stated place of rendezvous, where they met at the call of their chief. When an emergency arose for an immediate meeting from the incursions of a hostile clan, the cross or tarie, or fiery-cross, was immediately despatched through the territories of the clan. This signal consisted of two pieces of wood placed in the form of a cross. One of the ends of the horizontal piece was either burnt or burning, and a piece of linen or white cloth stained with blood was suspended from the other end. Two men, each with a cross in his hand, were despatched by the chief in different directions, who kept running with great speed, shouting the war-cry of the tribe, and naming the place of rendezvous, if different from the usual place of meeting. The cross was delivered from hand to hand, and as each fresh bearer ran at full speed, the clan assembled with great celerity. General Stewart says, that one of the latest instances of the fiery-cross being used, was in 1745 by Lord Breadalbane, when it went round Loch Tay, a distance of thirty-two miles, in three hours, to raise his people and prevent their joining the rebels, but with less effect than in 1715 when it went the same round, and when 500 men assembled in a few hours, under the command of the Laird of Glenlyon, to join the Earl of Mar.

Every clan had its own war-cry, (called in Scottish slogan,) to which every clansman answered. It served as a watch-word in cases of sudden alarm, in the confusion of combat, or in the darkness of the night. The clans were also distinguished by a particular badge, or by the peculiar arrangements or sets of the different colours of the tartan, which will be fully noticed when we come to treat of the history of the clans.

When a clan went upon any expedition they were much influenced by omens. If they met an armed man they believed that good was portended. If they observed a deer, fox, hare, or any other four-footed beast of game, and did not succeed in killing it, they prognosticated evil. If a woman barefooted crossed the road before them, they seized her and drew blood from her forehead.

The Cuid-Oidhche, or night’s provision, was paid by many tenants to the chief; and in hunting or going on an expedition, the tenant who lived near the hill was bound to furnish the master and his followers a night’s entertainment, with brawn for his dogs.

There are no sufficient data to enable us to estimate correctly the number of fighting men which the clans could bring at any time into the field; but a general idea may be formed of their strength in 1745, from the following statement of the respective forces of the clans as taken from the memorial supposed to be drawn up by the Lord President Forbes of Culloden, for the information of government. It is to be observed, however, that besides the clans here mentioned, there were many independent gentlemen, as General Stewart observes, who had many followers, but being what were called broken names, or small tribes, are omitted.

Argyle, 3000
Breadalbane, 1000
Lochnell and other chieftains of the Campbells, 1000
Macleans, 500
Maclauchlans, 200
Stewart of Appin, 300
Macdougals, 200
Stewart of Grandtully, 300
Clan Gregor, 700
Duke of Athol, 3000
Farquarsons, 500
Duke of Gordon, 300
Grant of Grant, 850
Mackintosh, 800
Macphersons, 400
Frasers, 900
Grant of Glenmorriston, 150
Chisholms, 200
Duke of Perth, 300
Seaforth, 1000
Cromarty, Scatwell, Gairloch, and other chieftains of the Mackenzies, 1500
Laird of Menzies, 300
Munros, 300
Rosses, 500
Sutherland, 2000
Mackays, 800
Sinclairs, 1100
Macdonald of Slate, 700
Macdonald of Clanronald, 700
Macdonell of Glengary, 500
Macdonell of Keppoch, 300
Macdonald of Glencoe, 130
Robertsons, 200
Camerons, 800
M’Kinnon, 200
Macleod, 700
The Duke of Montrose, Earls of Bute and Moray, Macfarlanes, M’Neils of Barra, M’Nabs, M’Naughtons, Lamonts, &c. &c. 5600
——–
31,930

Which is not to suggest any Christison was there…. But it is exciting stuff.

Balmoral Castle — from the 1875 clan history in my eBook Library.

Wikipedia has a Farquarson page.

Cousin Ray also posted this on his Facebook:

Moments in my eBook Library — 14 —  more random choices

Do note that thanks to the tag eBook moments you can see this series as a separate chain of posts.

The first takes us back again to World War 1 and Australia in a lavishly illustrated book that would have sold well back in 1919 I’m sure.

Indeed there is more to this book than I had realised: “Many contributors, includes a record of the ‘achievements the horsemen of Australia, and of the Flying Corps, and the Anzac Section of the Imperial Camel Corps.  These books were given as gifts by Australian Light Horse soldiers and are now quite rare and sought after. Includes 2 folding panoramas of the fields of battle for Richon le Zion, and Beersheba.”

Preface
“Australia in Palestine” should prove of great interest to the people of Australia, and especially to those whose lives have been spent outside the great cities, for it includes a record of the achievements of their “very own”—the horsemen of Australia, and of the Flying Corps and the Anzac Section of the Imperial Camel Corps, which were recruited from them, and co-operated with them in the greatest war yet known to history.

The Australian Light Horseman—and under this name I include the Field and Signal Engineers and Medical Services connected with him, who come from the same stock—is of a type peculiarly his own and has no counterpart that I know of except in his New Zealand brother. His fearlessness, initiative and endurance, and his adaptability to almost any task, are due to the adventurous life he leads in his own country, where he has been accustomed to long hours in the saddle, day and night, and to facing danger of all sorts from his earliest youth. Perhaps these qualities are inherited from his pioneer parents. His invariable good humour under the most adverse conditions comes from the good-fellowship and camaraderie which exists in the free and open life of the Australian Bush. His chivalry comes from the same source, and it is one of his strongest points. In other words, the life he has been accustomed to lead has fitted him to become, with training and discipline, second to no cavalry soldier in the world.

As far as Australia is concerned, the Palestine Campaign may be said to have commenced with the crossing of the Suez Canal by the Anzac Mounted Division at Kantara on the 23rd April, 1916, to re-occupy Romani and the western end of the Katia Oasis Area. The mounted troops of Australia and New Zealand had already proved their extraordinary adaptability to circumstances as infantrymen in the hard school of Gallipoli, but it yet remained for them to show their value as cavalry. The occupation of Romani was followed by long and trying marches in the Desert of Sinai, during the hottest summer known in Egypt for many years, after an elusive enemy who did not appear in any force until July, 1916, when he advanced on Romani preparatory to his second attack on the Suez Canal. The disastrous defeat inflicted on the Turkish arms at Romani, and the pursuit which followed, not only demonstrated the inestimable value of the horsemen of Australasia as cavalrymen, but opened the way for the advance to the Eastern Frontier of Egypt which ended the enemy’s menace to Egypt. The systematic advance of the British Force from Romani to the Egyptian Border was covered by Australian and New Zealand horsemen, British Yeomanry and the Imperial Camel Corps, ably assisted by the reconnaissance of the R.F.C. and Australian Flying Corps. The victories of Magdhaba and Rafa completely cleared the enemy from Egyptian territory and opened the way for our advance into Palestine. The operations which began with the capture of Beersheba and concluded with the capture of Damascus and Aleppo, and eventually led to the complete surrender of the Turkish Forces, are dealt with in this volume, and I will say no more of them than that the brilliant part in those operations played by the Australian and New Zealand mounted troops has more than upheld the reputation they established on the battlefield of Romani.

The splendid record of the 1st Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps speaks for itself. It was formed in Egypt and has grown with the campaign to a state of efficiency which places it second to none of the same arm.

The casualties in action in this campaign have been light compared with the results achieved. In a very large measure this was due to the dash of the troops, which saved heavy losses on many occasions; but many brave fellows have given their lives through diseases contracted in areas which the exigencies of the service required to be occupied and fought in.

Before concluding, I would like to say a word for the Medical Services, which have endured the same hardships as the combatant arms, and always performed their duties cheerfully and efficiently under the most adverse conditions.

The great re-enactment of Beersheba filmed in 1940 in the Cronulla sand hills! Directed by Charles Chauvel, the nephew of General Sir Harry Chauvel who led the Australian Light Horse Brigade.

History of other eras may be found in the next two random books.

That name intrigued me!

That Short History of Scotland is by a writer very famous in his day, Andrew Lang, whose work is still well worth looking at. There is web site devoted to him.

The next book is also by someone famous in his day — Sir Walter Besant. There is a memorial to him in St Paul’s Cathedral.

There are many magazines and journals to be found on Project Gutenberg which often publishes individual items of note. From this 1926 magazine they chose a D H Lawrence story.

THE LAST LAUGH
by D. H. Lawrence
Author of “Women in Love”

There was a little snow on the ground, and the church clock had just struck midnight. Hampstead in the night of winter for once was looking pretty, with clean, white earth and lamps for moon, and dark sky above the lamps.

A confused little sound of voices, a gleam of hidden yellow light. And then the garden door of a tall, dark Georgian house suddenly opened, and three people confusedly emerged. A girl in a dark-blue coat and fur turban, very erect; a fellow with a little dispatch case, slouching; a thin man with a red beard, bareheaded, peering out of the gateway down the hill that swung in a curve downward toward London.

“Look at it! A new world!” cried the man in the beard ironically, as he stood on the step and peered out.

“No, Lorenzo! It’s only whitewash!” cried the young man in the overcoat. His voice was handsome, resonant, plangent, with a weary, sardonic touch.

As he turned back, his face was dark in shadow.

The girl with the erect, alert head, like a bird, turned back to the two men.

“What was that?” she asked, in her quick, quiet voice….

Finally a writer very popular in the early to mid 20th century: W Somerset Maugham.

Shuggie Bain — I have lived other lives…

On Facebook I said this is one of the best novels I have ever read, and that was when I was only half-way through. Now I have finished it I have not changed my mind. “You have probably noticed that I like this book, troubling as it is. In reading it you find yourself living the lives… Or I do…”

There is any number of reviews out there — I will let you find them for yourselves. Most of them are positive. Similarly the ordinary readers on goodreads trot out the maximum stars, with some exceptions — one of whom is someone I know through other connections, whose opinion I respect.

I am of course not the son of an alcoholic mother, nor have I ever been to Glasgow, lived in a desolate coal-mining village after the mine has closed, lived in Thatcher’s Britain, or ever aspired to be a hairdresser… But on the other hand there were so many resonances. I will leave those who know me to guess what some of them might be! I will say however that as a 10-year-old in Sutherland I did find myself pretty much in the position of looking after my mother who was bedridden for some time with a thrombosis in the leg, as I cooked the family dinners… And there were some interactions at Sutherland Primary School: the accounts of playing soccer seemed very familiar.

There are also many excellent videos featuring Douglas Stuart and the novel. Here are two — the first just 15 minutes, the second 52 minutes — but with a writer I greatly admire, Colm Toibin.

For the novel of course, but also for both of those interviews — for the wisdom and humanity of all three. Such rare qualities, it seems sometimes, these days!

Extra:

Good review, but she fails to pick where Shuggie Bain ended up in the Booker!

Christisons

My mother before her marriage was Jean Christison, her father Roy Hampton Christison Senior. There are many stories about these and other Christisons on my blogs, especially a systematic gathering of them here. My cousin Ray Hampton Christison has written an excellent biography of our colourful great-grandfather, John Hampton Christison, who was born in Scotland.

Just appearing in the Project Gutenberg list is this volume:

And were you to visit Old College in the University of Edinburgh you would find this impressive bust:

Sir Robert Christison, 1st Baronet (18 July 1797 – 27 January 1882)

Aside from his major work in toxicology — apparently he tested his ideas on poisons by administering doses to himself — he was President of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh and also President of the British Medical Association. He was Physician to Queen Victoria in Scotland. He was a medical expert witness in the trial of the notorious purveyors of stolen corpses, Burke and Hare.

The Baronetcy passed on to three successors, the 4th Baronet dying at the age of 100 in 1993. The title is now extinct. That 4th Baronet was an important figure in World War 2.

From the Wikipedia biography:

During the Second Arakan Offensive in February 1944, XV Corps advanced southwards. A Japanese attempt to outflank and isolate elements of the Corps failed when the 7th Indian Infantry Division held off the attacks and the Corps’ administrative area–the “Admin Box”–successfully fought off attacks by the Japanese 55th Division (Battle of the Admin Box). This was the first time in the Second World War that a British army had defeated the Japanese in a land battle. XV Corps was withdrawn on 22 March to assist the allied defence of Imphal. In December 1944 Christison and his fellow corps commanders, Lieutenant-Generals Montagu Stopford and Geoffry Scoones, were knighted and invested as Knights Commander of the Order of the British Empire by the viceroy Lord Wavell at a ceremony at Imphal in front of the Scottish, Gurkha and Punjab regiments. Slim was knighted and invested as Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath at the same occasion.

In 1945, Christison assumed temporary command of the Fourteenth Army and also deputised for Slim as Commander of Allied Land Forces, South East Asia when Slim was on leave, reverting to XV Corps on Slim’s return. Christison led XV Corps into Rangoon in May of that year.

In September 1945 Christison deputised for Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten as commander of South East Asia Command, and took the surrender of the Japanese Seventh Area Army and Japanese South Sea Fleet at Singapore on 3 September. From 1946, Christison was Allied Commander of forces in Indonesia. In November, Christison’s troops were involved in a full-scale battle to suppress pro-Independence Indonesian soldiers and militia in Surabaya.

Well, that last bit… It has to be remembered in that context that pro-Independence Indonesian fighters (including Sukarno) had sided with the Japanese against the Dutch — not hard to see why of course. Christison in the 1950s and 1960s was Secretary of the Scottish Education Department.

Am I related to all these distinguished Christisons?

I do recall Grandpa Roy sometime in the late 50s or early 60s receiving an enquiry from Scotland relating to the Baronetcy, which was due to lapse on the 4th Baronet’s death — though as we have noted he put that event off for quite some time, outliving Grandpa Roy by 30 years! But no, as Ray so ably shows in his biography of John Hampton Christison, you need to go back to the 17th century before you find a connection. So yes, we are family, but no, our Christisons were much more humble.

A nephew of Sir Robert was a noted pastoralist pioneer in Queensland, somewhat in advance of many of his peers when it came to relations with Aboriginal people. See the National Museum’s account of Lammermoor Station.

Before they were forcibly removed from their country, Christison took a keen interest in the Yirandali, collecting cultural artefacts which he later donated to the British Museum. His wife, Mary, took numerous photographs of the Yirandali.

Christison’s daughter Mary Montgomerie Bennett, who became a writer and activist for Aboriginal rights, captioned the photographs and later gave these photos and other objects to the British Museum.

These objects and images are a link to a time when the Yirandali practised their culture on their own country. Today, although still denied access to parts of their homeland, they continue to practice their culture through hunting, fishing, art and storytelling.

See also the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Christison’s treatment of the Dalleburra tribe in this region set an example for relations with Aboriginals that shines out of the past to his credit. From their ranks came his trusted companion, Barney. He acquired adjoining land and named it Cameron Downs. There he built a huge dam, Lake Cameron, on Landsborough Creek. The track he blazed over the ranges from Bowen to his holdings for wool teams to follow was known for a decade as ‘Christison’s Trail’. Floods and drought took their toll but in 1870 he overlanded 7000 sheep more than 1500 miles (2414 km) to Victoria where they sold for 6s. 9d. a head.

Recent eBooks — 2

Here is another just out from ANU Press. I stored it because I am curious about it, and as I said I did at age 7 want to be a scientist! So in fact I do read a bit in such areas.

$60 printed or eBook free again!

Cooperative Evolution offers a fresh account of evolution consistent with Charles Darwin’s own account of a cooperative, inter-connected, buzzing and ever-changing world. Told in accessible language, treating evolutionary change as a cooperative enterprise brings some surprising shifts from the traditional emphasis on the dominance of competition.

The book covers many evolutionary changes reconsidered as cooperation. These include the cooperative origins of life, evolution as a spiral rather than a ladder or tree, humans as a part of natural systems rather than the purpose, relationships between natural and social change, and the role of the individual in adaptive radiation onto new ground. The story concludes with a projection of human evolution from the past into the future.

‘Environmental studies courses have needed a book like Cooperative Evolution for a long time. It is a boon for those teaching the complexity of the evolutionary story.’
— Dr John A. Harris, BSc(Hons) MSc PhD, School of Environmental Science, University of Canberra

‘As a regenerative, holistic-thinking farmer I daily witness the results of cooperative evolution as the seasons unfold. A pleasure to read, Cooperative Evolution gives entry to recent thinking on evolutionary processes.’
— David Marsh, MSA, ‘Allendale’, Boorowa, New South Wales, 2018 National Individual Landcarer Award recipient

‘This book is an engaging new look at ideas about evolution as we know it today. In the hands of two eminent biologists, it presents an approachable yet challenging argument. I heartily recommend it.’
— Emeritus Professor Sue Stocklmayer AO, BSc MSc PhD, Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, The Australian National University

Looking forward to getting into that.

The next one is from Project Gutenberg, and is just a delight — lovely to look at. And very short!

By P. N. Boxer and Dorothy Woollard, originlly 1920. Here is one sketch. I think you will know the building.

Finally, also from Project Gutenberg, a book I will never read, but will browse in, partly because of my past membership of — indeed Eldership in at 21! — the Presbyterian Church. Historically this is important, but at the moment it is its language which appeals to me. It eschews London in favour of Edinburgh when it comes to dialect.

That, people, is

THE BOOKE

OF THE

UNIVERSALL KIRK OF SCOTLAND:

WHEREIN

THE HEADIS AND CONCLUSIONIS

DEVYSIT BE THE MINISTERS AND COMMISSIONARIS OF THE
PARTICULAR KIRKS THEREOF, ARE SPECIALLY
EXPRESSED AND CONTAINED.

EDITED BY

ALEXANDER PETERKIN, ESQ.

LATE SHERIFF-SUBSTITUTE OF ORKNEY.

…and published M.DCCC.XXXIX. which I believe is 1839. Now for a gobbet:

May 29, 1561.

The whilk day, touching the sclander taken be the horrible fault and impietie committed within this burgh under silence of night be Marquies Dalbuife and his Colleagues, in breaking up of Cuthbert Ramsay his ʒetts and doors, and searching and seeking of his daughter in Law to oppress her, as appeared: It is thought good be the whole Kirk that ane Supplicatione be made and given in to the Queen’s Majestie, in name of the Professors of the Evangell, and the persons before nominat present the samen, to seek the answer thereof: the forme of the Supplication followeth:—

To the Q. Majestie, her Secret and Great Councill, her G. faithful and obedient subjects, Professors of Christ Jesus his holy Evangell, wishes the Spirit of Righteousness and Judgement.

The fear of God conceaved of his holy word, the naturall and unfained Love we bear unto your G. the dewtie quhilk we owe unto our Countrey, and terrible threatenings quhilk our God pronunces against every realme and citie in the quhilks horrible crimes are openly committed, and then be the Committers obstinatly defended, compel us, an great part of your subjects, humbly to crave of your G. upright and trew Judgement against sick persones as hes done what in them lyes to kindle God’s wrath against this realme. The impietie be them committed is so hainous and so horrible, that as it was a fact most vyle and rare to be heard of within this realme, principallie within the bounds of citie, so should we think ourselves guiltie of the samen if negligently, or yet for worldly fear, we pass it over with silence, and therefore your Grace may not think that we require any thing. All that we crave, open malefactors condignly to be punished, But that whilk God hes commanded us to crave, and has also commanded your G. to give to every one of your subjects; ffor be this Link hes God knitt together the Prince and the people, That as he commands honor, fear, and obedience to be given to the Powers established be him, so does he in express words command and declare what thing the Prince aught unto the subjects, To witt, that as he is the Minister of God his word, bearing the Sword for vengeance to be taken on evil doers, and for the defence of peaceable and quiet men, swa ought he to draw the samen without all partialitie swa oft as in God his name he is required thereto. Seeing so it is, Madame, that this crime so recently committed, and that in the eyes of your haill realme now presently assembled, is so hainous, ffor who heretofore hath heard within the bounds of Edinburgh, ʒetts and houses under silence of night bruised up, houses ryped, and that with hostilitie seeking ane woman, as appeared, to oppress her:—Seeing, we say, this crime is so hainous, That all godlie men fear not only God’s sair displeasure to fall upon you and your whole realme, But also that sick libertie breed contempt, and in the end seditione, if remeed in tyme be not goodlie provyded, quhilk in our Judgement is possible, if severe punishment be not execute for the cryme committed. Therefore, we most humbly beseech your Grace that, all affection laid aside, ye declare yourselfe so upright in this case that ye may give evident demonstratione to all your subjects, that the fear of God, joyned with the love of common tranquillitie, have principall seat and dominion in your Grace’s heart. This further, Madam, of conscience we speak, that as your G. in God his name does crave of us obedience, quhilk to render in all things lawful we are most willing, swa in the samen name doe we, the whole Professors of Christ’s Evangell within this realme, crave of you and of your Councill sharp punishment of this cryme, and for performance thereof, that, without all delay, the principall actor of this most hainous cryme, and the persewars of this pretended villanie may be called before the Chief Justice of this realme to suffer ane assyse, and to be punished according to the Lawes of the samen, and your G. answer we most humbly beseek.

Did you get all that? I think Mary Queen of Scots is being roundly told what’s what….
Mary, Queen of Scots

In fact I think I have discovered what that was all about — perhaps! It is complicated by the fact that Mary was still in France in May 1561, her husband, Francis II, the King of France, having recently died. She arrived back in Scotland in August. (She was 18, by the way, in May 1561.)

Here is what may have been the “the horrible fault and impietie committed within this burgh under silence of night” referred to by the General Assembly of the Kirk held on 27-29 May 1561.

A custom, dating far back in Catholic times, prevailed in Edinburgh in unchecked luxuriance down almost to the time of the Reformation. It consisted in a set of unruly dramatic games, called Robin Hood, the Abbot of Unreason, and the Queen of May, which were enacted every year in the floral month just mentioned. The interest felt by the populace in these whimsical merry-makings was intense: At the approach of May, they assembled and chose some respectable individuals of their number, very grave and reverend citizens perhaps, to act the parts of Robin Hood and Little John, of the Lord of Inobedience, or the Abbot of Unreason, and ‘make sports and jocosities’ for them. If the chosen actors felt it inconsistent with their tastes, gravity, or engagements, to don a fantastic dress, caper and dance, and incite their neighbours to do the like, they could only be excused on paying a fine. On the appointed day, always a Sunday or holiday, the people assembled in their best attire and in military array, and marched in blithe procession to some neighbouring field, where the fitting preparations had been made for their amusement. Robin Hood and Little John robbed bishops, fought with pinners, and contended in archery among themselves, as they had done in reality two centuries before. The Abbot of Unreason kicked up his heels and played antics like a modern pantaloon. The popular relish for all this was such as can scarcely now be credited. ‘A learned prelate [Latimer] preaching before Edward VI., observes, that he once came to a town upon a holiday, and gave information on the evening before of his design to preach. But next day when he came to the church, he found the door locked. He tarried half an hour ere the key could be found, and instead of a willing audience, some one told him: “This is a busy day with us; we cannot hear you. It is Robin Hood’s day. The parish are gone abroad to gather for Robin Hood. I pray you let [hinder] them not.” I was fain (says the bishop) to give place to Robin Hood. I thought my rochet should have been regarded, though I were not; but it would not serve. It was fain to give place to Robin Hood’s men.’

Such were the Robin Hood plays of Catholic and unthinking times. By and by, when the Reformation approached, they were found to be disorderly and discreditable, and an act of parliament was passed against them. Still, while the upper and more serious classes frowned, the common sort of people loved the sport too much to resign it without a struggle. It came to be one of the first difficulties of the men who had carried through the Reformation, how to wrestle the people out of their love of the May-games.

In April 1561, one George Dune was chosen in Edinburgh as Robin Hood and Lord of Inobedience, and on Sunday the 12th of May, he and a great number of other persons came riotously into the city, with an ensign and arms in their hands, in disregard of both the act of parliament and an act of the town-council. Notwithstanding an effort of the magistrates to turn them back, they passed to the Castle Hill, and thence returned at their own pleasure. For this offence a cordiner’s servant, named James Gillon, was condemned to be hanged on the 21st of July. — Source: Domestic Annals of Scotland.

Such punishment was presumably what the Assembly was asking of the Queen. And who was Cuthbert Ramsay, whose “ʒetts and doors” were broken by a mob “searching and seeking of his daughter in Law to oppress [rape?*] her“? Well, according to this:

*Indeed oppress did have that meaning, according to my ancient but beloved 3rd edition of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary.

The Ramsays of Dalhousie figure large in Scots history. And there is of course a ballad, known variously as “Mary Hamilton” or “The Four Maries”, which is uncertain when it comes to historicity, but does date from the 16th century most likely.

Last night there were four Maries;
Tonight there’ll be but three:
There was Mary Beaton and Mary Seton
And Mary Carmichael and me.

The song may not have had anything at all to do with Mary, Queen of Scots — but it is lovely anyway! And Joan Baez!

The following does, though it too takes quite a few liberties, I am told. But it certainly captures the viewer! Even if Mary and Elizabeth in fact never met!

Such are the sometimes pointless, but unfailingly interesting, byways my Calibre eBook library can take me down. Back in the 60s at Sydney Uni I used to pass many an hour reading all sorts of irrelevant stuff in the Fisher Library book stacks. Fun, in a nerdish kind of way, but now I do it on my laptop.