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Oppressions of the Sixteenth Century in the Islands of Orkney and Zetland_ From Original Documents

Oppressions of the Sixteenth Century in the Islands of Orkney and Zetland_ From Original Documents
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Author: Various
Title: Oppressions of the Sixteenth Century in the Islands of Orkney and Zetland_ From Original Documents
Release Date: 2019-02-27
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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Transcriber’s Note:

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.

OPPRESSIONS
 
OF THE
 
SIXTEENTH CENTURY
 
IN THE ISLANDS OF
 
ORKNEY AND ZETLAND:
 
FROM
 
ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS.

PRINTED AT EDINBURGH:
MDCCCLIX.
THE MAITLAND CLUB.
JULY M.DCCC.LX.
THE MOST HONOURABLE
THE MARQUESS OF BREADALBANE, K.T.
President.
 
HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF ARGYLL.
 
DAVID BALFOUR, ESQ.
 
BERIAH BOTFIELD, ESQ., M.P.
 
HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH AND QUEENSBERRY, K.G.
 
ANDREW BUCHANAN, ESQ.
 
THOMAS BUCHANAN, ESQ.
 
WALTER BUCHANAN, ESQ., M.P.
 
ALEXANDER CAMPBELL, ESQ.
10
HUMPHRY WALTER CAMPBELL, ESQ.
 
JAMES T. GIBSON CRAIG, ESQ.
 
DAVID DREGHORN, ESQ.
 
WILLIAM JAMES DUNCAN, ESQ.
 
THE LIBRARY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH.
 
WILLIAM EUING, ESQ.
 
ALEXANDER S. FINLAY, ESQ., M.P.
 
THE REVEREND WILLIAM FLEMING, D.D.
 
JOHN GORDON, ESQ.
 
JAMES WYLLIE GUILD, ESQ.
20
HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF HAMILTON AND BRANDON.
 
WILLIAM HILL, ESQ.
 
HONOURABLE JAMES IVORY, LORD IVORY.
 
JOHN CLARK KENNEDY, ESQ.
 
GEORGE RITCHIE KINLOCH, ESQ.
 
JOHN GARDINER KINNEAR, ESQ. [SECRETARY.]
 
THE REVEREND MATTHEW LEISHMAN, D.D.
 
THE REVEREND LAURENCE LOCKHART, D.D.
 
JAMES LUCAS, ESQ.
 
ALEXANDER BENNETT M’GRIGOR, ESQ.
30
JOHN WHITEFOORD MACKENZIE, ESQ.
 
SIR JOHN MAXWELL, BART.
 
JAMES PATRICK MUIRHEAD, ESQ.
 
SIR ANDREW ORR.
 
ALEXANDER OSWALD, ESQ.
 
JOHN MICMICHAN PAGAN, ESQ., M.D.
 
WILLIAM PATRICK, ESQ.
 
THE QUÆSTOR OF THE LIBRARY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW.
 
JOHN RICHARDSON, ESQ., LL.B.
40
JOSEPH ROBERTSON, ESQ.
 
WILLIAM ROBERTSON, ESQ.
 
ROBERT SAWERS, ESQ.
 
THE REVEREND HEW SCOTT.
 
JAMES Y. SIMPSON, ESQ., M.D.
 
WILLIAM SMITH, ESQ.
 
WILLIAM SMYTHE, ESQ.
 
MOSES STEVEN, ESQ.
 
WILLIAM STIRLING, ESQ., M.P.
50
JOHN STRANG, ESQ., LL.D.
 
ALEXANDER STRATHERN, ESQ.
 
ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL SWINTON, ESQ.
 
ADAM URQUHART, ESQ.
PRESENTED TO THE MEMBERS
OF THE
MAITLAND AND ABBOTSFORD CLUBS,
BY
DAVID BALFOUR
OF
BALFOUR AND TRENABIE.

TABLE OF CONTENTS.

Page
 
Preface v
 
Introduction ix
 
Articles and Informations by the Inhabitants of Orkney and Zetland, of the Oppressions committed by Lord Robert Stuart. December m.d.lxxv. 1
 
The Complayntis of the Commownis and Inhabitantis of Zetland, and Probatiounis led thairupon. February m.d.lxxvi. 13
 
The Commission by King James the Sixth to the Chancellor and others, to try Lord Robert Stuart for Oppression. m.d.lxxxvii. 93
 
A Supplication to Parliament by Lawrence Bruce and others, against Patrick Earl of Orkney. m.d.xcii. 99
 
Appendix and Glossary of Unusual Words 105
v

PREFACE.

The following documents illustrative of the Oppressions of Orkney andZetland in the Sixteenth century, are now for the first time presentedto the public, and have been carefully transcribed from the originalMSS., or from contemporary and authentic copies.

I. The First Articlis given in against Lord Robert Stuart of Orkney,16th December 1575, are printed from an official copy of the sameperiod, preserved among the very curious collection of Scottish StatePapers in the possession of the Right Honourable the Earl of Hopetown,whose ancestor was Lord Advocate in the next reign, and I owe theknowledge of its existence to the information and courtesy of Mr.Joseph Robertson of the Register House.

II. The Complaintis and Probatiounis of the Inhabitantis of Zetland,against Laurence Bruce of Cultmalindy (February 1576), are printedfrom the original MS., authenticated by the signature of the RoyalCommissioners, Mudy and Henderson. This curious State Paper wasshown to me about twenty years ago by a late Sheriff of Orkney, andI then made two transcripts, one of which, with the original, I gaveto him, retaining the other, which, at one time, I feared might be theonly existing copy of so interesting a document. On his death the MS.disappeared till 1856, when it was offered for sale to Mr. David Laing,vito whom the Antiquaries of Scotland owe so large a debt of gratitude,and to whose kindness I also am indebted for the opportunity ofcollating my transcript with the Original.

III. The Commission to Sir John Maitland, the Chancellor, and SirLewis Bellenden, Justeis Clerk, and to Sir Patrik Ballentyne 1587, to“enquire into the complaints against Lord Robert Stewart, lait Erleof Orkney, and James Stewart of Græmsay, his natural son,” isprinted from the original MS., authenticated by the signature of AndroElleis, Clerk to the Privy Council. This Commission was previouslypublished in the Antiquarian Magazine, October 1848, by Mr. GeorgePetrie, the most diligent and useful of Orkneyan Antiquaries, but byhis kind permission is again presented to the public in a form morelasting and accessible.

IV. The Supplication to the Parliament be the Gentilmen of Orkneyand Zetland (1592), is printed from a Doubill of the same periodamong my own papers, and is inserted, not so much for the sake ofany information derivable from the statements of these Udack pretendersto Odal[1] rights, as to illustrate the ignorance which so rapidlyeffaced all Odal traditions even in Orkney, and to share with othersmy enjoyment of the pleasant “Measure for Measure” exhibited inthe complaints of Laurence Bruce as a victim of oppression.

1. For etymological reasons, I prefer the terms Odal and Odaller to the more usual but lesscorrect forms of Udal and Udaller.

I have endeavoured to elucidate a subject so interesting to mycountrymen, but so inaccurately understood even by those best acquaintedwith the general history of Scotland, by prefixing some introductorynotices, adding an explanatory and etymological Glossary ofunusual terms, and appending the Complaints of the Orkneyans againstDavid de Meinars (Menzies of Weem) 1427, from the Orcades of Torfæus,viiand a Sketch of the early Survey and Valuation, Rentals, Weights,and Measures of the Islands.

I had intended to add a number of documents illustrative of OdalLaw, Succession and Pedigree; of Things, Oaths, and Umbothskap; ofthe Conveyance, Assedation, Impignoration, and Redemption of Land;of the Transition from Norse to Scottish law, language and thought;and of the Oppressions and Assumptions of the Stewart Earls of Orkney.But the growing mass of such materials, and the difficulty of rejectionor selection, where all seemed to me so interesting, have compelled meto forego so large an addition to a volume already unduly extended.

Balfour, 31st December 1858.

ix

INTRODUCTION.

The History of Orkney and Zetland is still to be written. There is no part ofthe United Kingdom which possesses historical materials more ample, or moreearly, and none so little known as these, the last acquired of the British Isles.But where the sources of information are so scattered and inaccessible, it is perhapseasier to estimate the amount of attainable knowledge, than to fathom orfill up the depths of inevitable ignorance, and I am far from pretending to supplythis desideratum. I still hope to see it in abler hands, when the same research,learning and acumen, which have done so much to elucidate the Celtic history ofthe North of Scotland, shall be applied to the parallel subject of these not lessinteresting Islands. In my essay on a theme so difficult both from its antiquityand its novelty, I shall account it a sort of success, if my statements, omissionsor mistakes, shall tempt or provoke some more capable or more practised inquirer—moreearnest, and more honest in the search for truth, he cannot be.

What I now propose is, to give only such brief introductory notices as mayseem necessary to illustrate the Articles, Complaints and other documents,selected from the many Supplications, Petitions, Protests and Memorials of theill-used Islanders, not merely on account of the more minute

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