Sunday, 18 December 2016

Christmas Bonus: Towels Out The Window, a Variant

The following clipping comes from the Dundee Courier, dated 27th December 1900.  Although this is a fairly local paper to Glamis, the story seems  syndicated, hence the mention of  the Morning Leader. Note the variant in the tale:  other versions state that Lord Strathmore came home unexpectedly the same day and that the 'towels at the window' ruse did not extend overnight.  Note also the inference that the Bowes-Lyons appear to have been talking down the legend to the press, an effort at legend dampening which didn't in any way quash the growing body of folklore.

Christmas is the appropriate season to report on ghosts and chronicle their doings, and the Glamis ghost has always been one of the most interesting, socially and psychologically.  Therefore it may be a matter of disappointment to many to hear that the gloom which hung so long over Glamis Castle, in Forfarshire, has lifted.  Members of the family assert that it is now like an ordinary great Scottish house, and the wing from which sounds and groans were always said to issue is now in common use and normally quiet.
   What the mystery was none ever knew except the owner, the steward, and the heir, who was told when he reached his majority.  The most generally believed in theory was of a monster – a kind of Frankenstein – kept hidden in the haunted wing of the castle, who presumably is now dead.  An attempt was made to penetrate this mystery some years ago, says the London Morning Leader, when, it is said, Lady Strathmore laughingly suggested to her guests one night at dinner that each one  should hang a towel out of his or her window the next morning, the inference being that the window which did not show one of these would be the window of the haunted room.  The next morning the towels were hung out, to the great annoyance of Lord Strathmore, who ordered the servants to take them in at once, and expressed himself severely on what he termed a breach of courtesy and hospitality.  The party broke up, and the mystery remained as great as before.  

Friday, 16 December 2016

Outis, Notes & Queries, 1908

   Who is Outis?  Quite literally, Nobody.  

   When  Odysseus was battling the Cyclops Polyphemus, and put out the monster’s eye, he said his name was ΟΥΤΙΣ, meaning ‘No-one’.  The other Cyclopes responded to the agonised shrieks of their compatriot and asked who had hurt him.  ‘No-one,’ he said, so they went off again and Odysseus escaped to fight another day.  ΟΥΤΙΣ has ever since been a handy pseudonym for someone who wished to be discreet about their true identity.  So, its English form of Outis was used as ‘Anon’ by the author of a piece about Glamis Castle which appeared in Notes and Queries in 1908.  The article is by no means original and contains nothing outside the 'norm' or Glamis legends, but its content is instructive to the extent by which it shows these tales had been crystallised by the very beginning of the 20th century and thereafter taken (and endlessly regurgitated) as 'fact'.

Many readers of ‘N. & Q.’ have doubtless heard of the ‘Mystery of Glamis.’  It was told to the present writer some sixty years ago, when he was a boy, and it made a great impression on him.  He heard the legend related quite recently, in nearly the same words.  The story was, and is, that in the Castle of Glamis, the celebrated old castle of the Earls of Strathmore, is a secret chamber.,  In this chamber is confined a monster, who is the rightful heir to the title and property, but who is so unpresentable that it is necessary to keep him out of sight and out of possession.  The secret is supposed to be known to three persons only – the Earl of Strathmore, his heir and the manager of the estate.  This terrible secret is said to have a depressing effect on the holder of the title (who, if the legend were exact, would not be in possession lawfully of either title or property) and on his heir. When the legend of my childhood was recently repeated in my hearing, I ventured to suggest that the Earl of Strathmore, at the time I heard the story, was about seventy years of age, and the reputed monster, in order to have a claim superior to his brother’s, must have been still older than the one who bore the title of Earl.  As in captivity the monster would have had difficulties in producing a legitimate monster to carry on the legend, it was improbable that there could now survive any imprisoned monster whose presence and claim would exercise a depressing effect on the present holder of the title.  This view, however, received little support from my audience, the general verdict being that the legend was so well-established and interesting that it was almost impious to attempt to explain it away. It was also advanced, as evidence against my view, that a member of the family had recently stated that the mystery was ‘the same as ever,’ and that, therefore, the monster must still exist.  Although nearly every one who has ever been to Glamis, and many who have never been there, are generally believed to be able to speak with authority regarding the monster, the family are known to discourage the many embroidered editions of the legend to which the public have held so pertinaciously, and they are in no way responsible for this long lived myth. On re-reading lately Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft,’ I came upon a passage in a letter written in 1830, which would seem to help to explain the Mystery of Glamis.  I sent this to ‘N. & Q.’ at the risk of being impeached for trying to spoil a good legend, which has long been popular public property. It will be borne in mind that, in addition to the monster, the salient points in the mystery are the secret chamber, and the secret known to only the holder of the title, his heir, and the third person – the family lawyer or manager.  Now this is what Sir Walter wrote on the subject nearly eighty years ago: ‘I have been myself at two periods of my life, distant from each other, engaged in scenes favourable to that degree of superstitious awe which my countrymen expressively call being eerie.’ ‘On the first of these occasions I was only nineteen or twenty years old, when I happened to pass a night in the magnificent old baronial Castle of Glamis, the hereditary seat of the Earls of Strathmore.  The hoary pile contains much in its appearance, and in the traditions connected with it, impressive to the imagination.  It was the scene of the murder of a Scottish King of great antiquity – not indeed the gracious Duncan, with whom the name naturally associates itself, but Malcolm the Second. It contains also a curious monument of the peril of feudal times, being a secret chamber, the entrance of which, by the law or custom of the family, must only be known to three persons at once, viz. the Earl of Strathmore, his heir apparent, and any third person they may take into their confidence.  The extreme antiquity of the building is vouched by the thickness of the walls, and the wild and straggling arrangement of the accommodation within doors.’ Thus we have here the greater part of the legend as popular with the public – the mystery; the secret chamber known only to the Earl, his heir, and a third person taken into confidence; and the secret preserved from generation to generation by the law or custom of the family.  The monster does not, indeed, find a place in Sir Walter Scott’s account, but this may have been provided later by some one with the aid of superstitious awe called ‘being eerie,’ in the place so favourable thereto. The chamber, like that known in one or two other ancient buildings, probably led to a secret exit, to be used as a means of escape in case of danger.  The thickness of the walls, and the arrangement of the accommodation as described, would much favour the provision of such a secret chamber and passage.  And if existing conditions be as suggested, then a member of the family may with perfect accuracy have recently assured an inquirer that the Mystery of Glamis was now even the same as ever. 

Saturday, 3 December 2016

The Englishman Who Knew Too Much?

Strange chap, James Wentworth Day (1899-1983), by my standards at least (and I do not pretend not to be odd myself).  Certainly to be admired as a prolific writer with a profound love of his country and  his native region of East Anglia, he was an arch traditionalist, an ardent countryman and a right wing Tory.  His type is both profoundly old fashioned and absolutely enduring.  He had an interest in the supernatural and was staunchly behind the Royal Family.  Both these facets of character stood him in good stead when he wrote a book about the family of the Queen Mother, snappily called The Queen Mother’s Family Story (first published 1967; revised edition 1979).

James Wentworth-Day

   More than a mere fawning filler filled volume on the Scottish antecedents of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the volume offers a thoughtful, though selective, exploration of events concerning the family of Glamis.  He also interviewed several members of the Strathmore family, as detailed below.  Some of his omissions are peculiar, to my eyes.  There is a good chapter on the involvement of the Bowes-Lyon family supporting the Jacobites in the rebellions of 1715 and 1745, for instance.  But strangely he does not mention the extraordinary story of the murder of Lord Strathmore in 1728.  It was not because he despised lurid historical drama, since he lavishly documented the melodramatic soap opera concerning Lady Mary Eleanor Bowes and her psychopathic lover Andrew Robinson.  (Four entire chapters are devoted to this sad saga.)

Instances of Second Sight.

  In my previous post I mentioned a story about the early 18th century earl, John, 4th Earl of Strathmore, who was told that his four sons would all be earls by a man he met on the road.  John stated that he hoped they would not be, because the prediction necessarily meant that at least three of his sons would die premature deaths.  And so it happened.  Wentworth Day’s book has a story which is strangely analagous to the previous prognostication.  Some time around 1907, when the future Queen Elizabeth and her sister were playing on the road in the village of Glamis, a gypsy or tinker woman told her fortune:  ‘You shall be a queen and the mother of a queen.’  A story about her siblings in the same chapter suggests that abnormal insight was also demonstrated within her own family.  Fergus Bowes-Lyon had been killed in the First World War and the next eldest brother, Michael, was reported dead.  Another brother, David, insisted, despite the evidence that Michael was not dead and accurately reported ‘seeing’ him convalesce in a large house somewhere, which eventually proved to be true.

   The meat of the matter, as far as the folklore of Glamis is concerned, comes in Chapter 11 of the book, which is entitled ‘The “Monster” of Glamis’, and it deserves to be examined in detail.  The chapter covers the broad spectrum of myths:

The  Household ‘Beardie’ Legend.

 The author repeats the fallacy that the ghost of the old knight seen in the 19th century represents the 4th Earl of Crawford, when of course he died as a relatively young man, even by medieval standards. Although Wentworth Day summarises the written authorities  such as Lord Halifax about the legend, he also gives the established view of the Glamis household.  So, he gives the tour guide type summary of the tale given to him by Timothy Patrick, 16th Earl of Strathmore.  The earl showed the author an uninhabited room in a tower, replete with trap door.  This version says that the Lord Glamis of the day threw Beardie down the stairs as the result of a gambling quarrel.  Beardie  demanded someone else gamble with him, but the chaplain forbade it.  He swore that, if no man would play with him, he would dice with the Devil.  Cue appearance of the Unspeakable One.  An inquisitive butler put his eyeto the keyhole of the room where man and Satan gambled and his eyes was seared yellow.  Beardie died five years later. 
The 16th Earl of Strathmore

   Regarding the Monster legend, the earl told the author that that he believed the secret of the ‘hidden heir’ died with his father (Patrick, 15th earl, who died in 1949), or with his own brother. Wentworth-Day was also told by Sir David Bowes-Lyon of the story of the mysterious Jack the Runner who races across the castle lawns on moonlit nights. 

   Further to the earl’s rather bland take on the tale, there was the added testimony of his ‘apple-cheeked Australian born cook’, Florence Foster.   Said cook told Wentworth Day, ‘I’ve heard them [Devil and the Earl of Crawford] rattle the dice, stamp and swear.’  She had also heard someone (was it Beardie, though, or someone else?) knock three times on her bedroom door, but no-one was there.  And she lay in bed afterwards shaking with fear. (Other sources state that the cook reported the same story to a newspaper in 1957.)

Mrs Maclagan’s Story

   Wentworth Day also includes what he describes as a hand-written copy of the account of Mrs Maclagan, previously published at length (though not word for word apparently) in The Ghost Book of Lord Halifax.  While the Maclagan account in Halifax occupies many pages, the verbatim account in The Queen Mother’s Family Story  runs to a disappointing two paragraphs.  Here the story related is confined to the tall, cloaked figure seen by Dr Nicholson, Dean of Brechin, in ‘Earl Patrick’s Room’.  The Dean met Dr Forbes, Bishop of Brechin, in Glamis the following year, along with the Provost of Perth.  He Provost told the Dean he had seen the same figure in the same room.  Forbes offered to exorcise it, but the 13th Earl of Strathmore was too afraid to sanction it. 

Lady Granville’s Gossip

  The writer asked Lady Granville, an elder sister of the Queen Mother (Rose Leveson-Gower, Countess Granville born Rose Constance Bowes-Lyon, 1890 – 1967), who was apparently at Glamis when he visited.  She told him that children often woke at night screaming in the upper storeys, saying a huge bearded man leant over them  All furniture was cleared out of that particular room twelve years previously and nobody now slept there (nor in the Hangman’s Chamber).

   Lady Granville authoritatively told Wentworth-Day that her parents [Claude, 14th earl and his wife]would never allow the children to discuss the matter of the Monster.  Claude and the 13th earl, also Claude, ‘refused absolutely to discuss it’.  This, as we have seen elsewhere (and will examine again in the future), runs counter to some others’ version of what the Strathmore family in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was prepared to say. Lady Granville also told Wentworth-Day that she had seen the Grey Lady in St Michael’s Chapel (and the earl said the same thing).  Other revelations were the bloodstain that used to be seen on the floor of King Malcolm’s Room (until boarded up by Rose’s mother), and an unseen ghost which  pulled the sheets off the bed in a room.  It was once a bedroom, but the haunting prompted it to be converted and it was later the Queen Mother’s Bathroom.

Lady Granville

The Monster of Glamis:  a Lurid Version

   Wentworth-Day steps up a gear to describe the ‘Monster’ of Glamis, which he does with obvious relish.  According to his take on the story,  he vaguely states that some time over a century previously a seriously deformed boy – ‘shaped like an egg’ – was born into the family and kept untyil adulthood in the castle.  He states that the Monster was housed in the Secret Room constructed by the Earl of Strathmore in 1684.  But there are two problems with this theory:  firstly, the cited evidence of The Book of Record written by Earl Patrick in the late 17th century hardly conclusively records ‘a man with a passion for secret hiding-places’ as supposed; secondly, why was this supposedly Secret Room constructed?  Had it lain idle and empty – in wait as it were – from the late 17th century until the early/mid 19th century when the Monster took up its tenancy?

   Physically, the deformed boy had an exceptionally strong body, but underdeveloped arms and legs.  The heir to the earldom was shown the wretched captive when he came of age.  The child lived to an immense age and an un-named admiral told the author that he lived until 1921.

  Departing from other versions, Wentworth-Day states that four people at a time (not three) knew of the secret of the Monster at any one time:  the earl, his heir, the family lawyer, and the estate factor

The Factors of Glamis:  Proctors and Ralstons

   James Wentworth-Day quite rightly states the the office of estate factor at Glamis was passed down through only two families from 1765 to the 1940s, the Ralstons and the Proctors.  Peter Proctor served from 1765 to 1815, succeeded by his son, David, who died in 1860.  Then came Andrew Ralston (factor for fifty-two years), follwed by his son Gavin Ralston.

   The author does not mention it, but the first Proctor was the amiable gentleman who welcomed the young Walter Scott to Glamis and got him so ‘fou’ with wine that he went on the wrong road when he departed.  The Proctors were an old family in the parish, Jacobite minded like the Lyons, and a Peter Proctor, recorded as a workman from Glen Ogilvy, is recorded as having fought with the rebel army in the ’45.  In the parish records (dated 5th August 1832) we find the reference to another likely family relative:  ‘Francis Proctor and his wife Isabel Isles...were rebuked for the sin of antenuptial fornication & rebuked from church scandal.’  Another member of the extended family was Robert Proctor, Writer to the Signet, son of Patrick Proctor, writer at Glamis Castle, who died 5th January 1823.

   Andrew Ralston (1831-1914) is a better known figure, and it was he who allegedly told a Countess that she was better off not knowing the secret of the Monster of Glamis.  The other well-known anecdote is that he refused to stay one night under the castle room, but insisted on workmen digging a path through snow drifts one night so he could reach his own home.  (This house was probably the Glamis House or New House near the village.)  Wentworth-Day follows tradition by stating this first Ralston was dour and ‘hard-headed’, though much respected, as was his son Gavin Ralston (1870-1951). Andrew married Jane Wallace and raised six children in Glamis, including Andrew Ralston (1866-1926), who was factor to the Earl of Hopetoun.  Another son, William Henry Ralston (1863-1943), was employed by the Strathmore family on their English estates.  Other sons were Claude Lyon Ralston (born 1867), who worked for a time for the Earl of Airlie, and Charles Ralston (born 1864), an employee of the Duke of Buccleuch.   

Gavin Ralston and the future Queen Mother

The Paul Bloomfield Version

   Following a length summary of Lord Halifax’s  stories from The Ghost Book, Wentworth-Day turns to the theories presented by the journalist Paul Bloomfield.  The key points here are as follows: the real Monster was the son of Thomas, Lord Glamis, the son and heir of Thomas, 11th earl.  This Lord Glamis married Charlotte Grimstead on 21st December 1820.  Their first recorded son was Thomas George, who became the 12th earl, born 22nd September 1822.  Bloomfield speculates that there was another son born before this child.  He cites Douglas’s Scots Peerage which states that Thomas and Charlotte had a son who was born on 21st October 1821 and who died the same day.  Cockayne’s  Complete Peerage states the same, but give the date as 18th October 1821.

Which Earls Knew?  Shane Leslie and Sir David Bowes-Lyon

   Wentworth-Day follows other accounts by saying that the Monster was long lived, but the 14th earl Claude George was not told of the secret when he attained his majority on 14th  March 1876. 
   Sir Shane Leslie (1885-1971) wrote Wentworth-Day a letter which stated that Pat Lyon was the last family member to know about the secret, plus Abbot Oswald (David) Hunter-Blair (1853-1939) had two interesting theories about the family Monster, which Leslie unfortunately never recorded.

   Last word should be given to Sir David who told the author that a great amount of rubbish was written about Glamis in the Victorian era.  ‘Most of them seized on the monster as a peg and then thought up the most unutterable bosh.’

Sunday, 30 October 2016

The Murder of the Earl of Strathmore in 1728

The Strathmore family’s affiliation with the deposed House of Stuart  brought them great sorrow in the 18th century and though they avoided the forfeiture and ruin suffered by many other noble families in Scotland who allied themselves to that forlorn cause, the price paid was great.  John Lyon, 4th Earl of Strathmore (more properly 2nd Earl of Strathmore and 4th Earl of Kinghorn), died in 1712 and his four sons each succeeded him in turn.  The eldest two died unnatural and premature deaths:  John Lyon, 5th earl, died on the Jacobite side at the Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715 and his brother Charles, 6th earl, was cut down in his prime in a street in Forfar by a man who was his friend.

The 6th Earl of Strathmore, d. 1728.

   The bare facts about the killing in the county town are these.  On Thursday 9th May 1728 there was a funeral held in the town for the daughter of Patrick Carnegie, 2nd  Lord Lour.  Among those who were present in Forfar was the Earl of Strathmore, his kinsman  John Lyon of Brigton and James Carnegie, the laird of Finavon (who was a cousin of the deceased and a grandson of David, 2nd Earl of Northesk).  During an afternoon of drinking around taverns and the houses of acquaintances, there was some antagonism between Lyon of Brigton and Carnegie of Finavon.  Finavon was physically knocked into a gutter or drain by Brigton.  Covered in filth, enraged and severely under the influence of liquor, Carnegie drew his sword and went for Lyon.  But, instead of reaching his antagonist, his sword ran through the Earl of Strathmore.  Two wounds were received.  Strathmore was grievously wounded and died of his injuries on the following Saturday.  Carnegie of Finavon was duly detained and charged with murder, appearing before the Justiciary Court in Edinburgh on 25th July.

   There was no doubt that Carnegie of Finavon had struck Strathmore and that his argument was with Lyon of Brigton who had undoubtedly severely provoked Carnegie.  It was an admitted fact that James Carnegie was extremely drunk, another contributory factor to the violence. 
    The immediate reaction among the people of Angus was scandal and outrage, well captured  in an anonymous missive sent a week later (later published as A Letter from a Gentleman in Forfar, to his Friend at Edinburgh’).

SIR, Forfar, May 16th, 1728.
ACCORDING to your Desire, I have sent you an Account of the lamentable Catastrophe, which happen'd on Thursday the 9th of May instant, which has filled all the Kingdom with an universal Regret ; and this Part of it with the utmost Grief and Confusion imaginable, which is to be seen in the Faces young and old, all over the Country ; the Fact is as follows,
On Thursday being the 9th Instant, several of the neighbouring Gentlemen were invited to this Place to a Burial, and among the rest the Earl of Strathmore, Carnegie of Finhaven, and Mr. Lyon of Brigton; after the Burial was over, a great many of the Gentlemen; among whom were these three before mentioned, went to a Tavern, where after they had been there some Time, Finhaven and Brigton fell a quarrelling, as some say, concerning the Lady Kinfawns, whose Brother Finhaven is; and others say it was about the Marriage of a Daughter of Finhaven's to a young Gentleman in this Country ; but however that be, Finhaven went to take his Horse, and had one foot in the Stirup, as his Servants say, when Brigton attack'd him, and threw him in a Mire, where he had certainly perish'd, had not his Servants come to his Rescue, together with the deceast Earl; Finhaven was no sooner recover'd, and his Servants endeavouring to make clean his Cloaths, but he drew his Sword; and the Earl stepping in to prevent any Mischief that might happen, received from Finhaven a mortal Wound, about an Inch below his Navel, which wounded his Puddings in three Parts, and went quite throrow his Body. His Lordship, after he received the Wound, spoke little till Saturday's Night he called for his Lady, endeavouring to comfort her, and grasping her Hand, he died about 12 a Clock that Night. This is the unfortunate End of this universally beloved Nobleman, whose rare Qualities render'd him an Ornament to his Country, a Pattern of Youth, and the Admiration of all that knew him.

             I am Yours, &

     Finavon soon found himself locked up in the tolbooth of Edinburgh, facing the death penalty.  Those pressing the murder charge were the dead man’s widow Susan (or Susanna) Lyon and his brother James, who now became 7th Earl of Strathmore.  The king’s advocate in the case was the formidable Duncan Forbes of Culloden.  James Carnegie was charged that , ‘without the least Colour or Cause or Provocation ...[he had attacked] the said deceast Earl, who had no Weapon in his Hand, and did basely and feloniously murder and kill him, by giving him a Wound therewith in the Belly, some Inches above the Navel, which, by following the thrust with a second Push, went through the Intestines and the Back, a little lower that where the said Weapon entred the Belly...’

   Finavon defended himself by claiming , of course, that it was an accident, that he had been drunk, and that Lyon of Brigton had severely provoked him.  The accused stated that he ‘had all due Regard, Respect and Kindness for his Lordship [Strathmore], that I ever had for any Man.  I had the Misfortune that Day to be mortally drunk, for which I beg GOD’s Pardon... I do not remember what happened... if it shall appear that I was the unlucky Person who wounded the Earl, I protest, before GOD, I would much rather that a Sword had been sheathed in my own Bowels.’  Carnegie was ably defended by Robert Dundas of Arniston.

   The court had heard that the accused, along with the earl and some others had dines after the funeral at Carnegie of Lour’s house in Forfar.  This party that left there included Finavon and Strathmore, along with David, Lord Rosehill (another Carnegie relative of Finavon’s), Thomas Lyon and John Lyon of Brigton, plus Strathmore’s brother Thomas.  At a tavern named ‘Clerk Dickson’s’, the group ‘drunk pretty plentifully’ and Carnegie of Finavon was frankly ‘overtaken with too much Liquor’.  It was at stage that the trouble began to foment.  Brigton began to niggle at Finavon – ‘bearing hard’ upon him – and tried to antagonise him. Strathmore then led the others to the lodgings of his Lady Auchterhouse (James Carnegie’s sister,  Margaret, widow of Patrick Lyon, uncle of the Earl of Strathmore), and it was here that things further got out of hand.  Lyon of Brigton goaded Carnegie about his family affairs, his debts, and also allegedly pinched the lady’s arm.
    When the group were back on the street, at the place called Bridge-stone near the Shambles, close to 9 pm, Carnegie rebuked his antagonist:  ‘Sir, tho’ you be a Gentleman, you are uncivil.’ (Another witness thought one of Carnegie’s servants uttered this.)

   Brigton bodily threw the drunken Carnegie into the kennel, the deep gutter or ditch at the side of the road – which was 2 feet deep and presented a danger of drowning - and stood there, with his arms folded, laughing at him.  As soon as Carnegie was helped out of the gutter (by William Macgleish, a servant of Lord Strathmore) he drew his sword and ran towards Lyon at a staggering pace.  His enemy ran towards the Earl of Strathmore, whose back was to him, and attempted to draw out the earl’s sword.  At that instant, Carnegie approached and tried to push Lyon and then the earl shoved his kinsman aside and was wounded by the thrust of Carnegie’s sword.  It was alleged by Finavon’s lawyers that the reason Lyon of Brigton had no sword of his own was that ‘the known Ferocity of his character and behaviour, is such, that the Country Gentlemen of his Acquaintance decline to keep Company with him if he wear any Armes...’

   One witness at the trial, Robert Hepburn, a hammerman in Forfar, confirmed the push by Brigton and sword drawing by Finavon.  Hepburn also stated that Strathmore pushed Brigton aside and took some steps forward and tried to embrace the advancing figure of Carnegie with open arms.  The two men came together, then the earl stood aside and lifted up his shirt; then he said three times that he was wounded and fell to the ground.  Other swords were drawn by others in the party.  While another bystander, a maltman named Thomas Adam, went to assist the stricken nobleman, and either Lord Rosehill or Thomas Lyon forcefully twisted the weapon out of James Carnegie’s hand. (Rosehill himself said it was Thomas Lyon who disarmed Carnegie.)  Nobody attempted to apprehend the assailant as he calmly walked away at a slow pace towards the house of Lady Auchterhouse; although Rosehill stated that Carnegie actually ran to his sister’s door. Andrew Douglas, another witness, told the court that Thomas Lyon and Carnegie engaged in some swordplay after the mortal wounding of Strathmore, but no blows were struck and soon Lyon twisted the other’s sword out of his grasp.   Others claimed that the assailant was chased by armed men to his sister’s.
   A servant name John Ferrier who was watering his master’s horse saw the drinking part spill out of Lady Auchterhouse’s dwelling.  John Lyon of Brigton was overheard haranguing Carnegie of Finavon, evidently continuing an argument from inside.

   ‘You must give me an answer to my question,’ Lyon was demanding Carnegie.  The question was about whether Finavon would give his daughter in marriage to Lord Rosehill.  When Finavon answered no, Brigton then asked if he would drink a bottle of wine and if he would drink to the health of the King?  Finavon again said no.  Brigton then grabbed him and threw him into the gutter, shouting, ‘Go and be damned, and your King George, whom you love so well.’

   What the witness did not state, but what was well known, was that James Carnegie was notoriously regarded as a turncoat who had changed allegiance from the Jacobites to the Hanoverians.  He had switched sides nor from personal belief, but because he had allegedly been offered a massive bribe .  Even more scandalously he had deserted the Jacobite army in the middle of the Battle of Sheriffmuir, running from the field of conflict.  Feelings ran high on this subject, so soon after the ‘rebellion’ of 1715.  In that conflict not only had the earl’s brother, the previous earl died, but so had Patrick Lyon of Auchterhouse, Carnegie’s brother-in-law (who also died at the Battle of Sheriffmuir).   So this sly mention of the Hanoverian King George doubtless enraged Carnegie of Finavon.

   Following Carnegie to his sister’s house, some of men came with drawn swords and dragged the laird into a room where they locked him in until the burgh baillie came to arrest him.  A great mob had gathered outside the house of Lady Auchterhouse by the time that the baillie, named David Cauty, arrived.  He went to the house of  the burgh clerk Mr Dickson, where the wounded earl had been carried, then went back to the Auchterhouse property.  A certain Fletcher of Ballinshoe was adament that he wanted to smash the door in, but Cauty talked him down and also relieved Thomas Lyon and Brigton of their swords.  Although Lady Auchterhouse and her servants denied that Finavon was there, Cauty found him and took him along to the town gaol.  There Carnegie of Finavon fell into anguish and said ‘that he deserved to be hanged for wounding such a worthy Earl...’   Cauty claimed that he had heard Carnegie state there was some grudge or misunderstanding between himself and Strathmore, though matters had improved recently and it was not a factor in the recent violence.  This disagreement was confirmed by Alexander Binnie, Provost of Forfar, who stated that Carnegie informed him  that the dispute had been about a process of bastardy which was being dealt with by the Court of Session. 

   The ill-feeling between Finavon and Strathmore was confirmed by Charles Carnegie, Lord Lour, who affirmed it had been going on for two years.  He believed, however, that the dispute arose from a business deal between the two men concerning some meal.  Thomas Crichton, an apothecary from Dundee, had been urgently summoned to attend the stricken earl in Forfar and realised immediately that the injuries were likely mortal.  He gave testimony that Strathmore admitted he thought the attack was intended for his relative Brigton and not himself.  But there was one circumstance he could not account for:  that after the sword entered his body, Finavon pressed it forward, until the body of it went right through his and the two men were therefore face to face. 

   It was perhaps unsurprising that Margaret Carnegie, Lady Auchterhouse,  gave a fairly positive picture of her brother’s conduct.  There was no dispute between Finavon and Strathmore, although her brother was admittedly drunk.  Brigton manhandled Carnegie of Finavon several times and asked him if he would not give one of his daughters to Rosehill?  there were snide comments about Carnegie's lack of a son also.  He further taunted him by saying if he were a young man and if Finavon refused one of his daughters, ‘he would maul him...’ 

    At the trial in Edinburgh, Dundas was such an intelligent advocate that he managed to set a precedent in Scots Law by the power of persuasion and precedent and event persuaded his opponent, Duncan Forbes, to study Hebrew to better understand the examples he had cited.  By ancient precedent, and overturning more recent practice, the power of duties to find  an accused party guilt or not guilty was re-instated, disregarding the recent alternatives of proven and not-proven.  As a result, the system in Scotland was blessed – or cursed – with the current triple choice of guilty, not guilty, and not proven.

   But was James Carnegie of Finavon in fact guilty of murder or manslaughter?  There was bad blood between himself and Strathmore.  In truth, he had been provoked, he was mortally drunk.  But, then there was the question about his character and the question about whether he had stabbed Strathmore once or twice.  Additionally, there is  is the haunting image of the unarmed Earl of Strathmore approaching this enraged and drunken friend with his arms open wide and receiving a sword wound (or two) which passed right through his body.  By his own account, the earl stated that there was a pause after that brutal first stroke and then Finavon brutally drove the blade home to its hilt – and the two men were brought less than inches apart.  Despite these doubts, Finavon walked free from the proceedings.  The jury had decided by a majority of twelve to three on his innocence.

   Here's how the Newgate Calendar reported the event:

MR. Carnegie was a gentleman of fortune, whose estate being contiguous to that of Charles, Earl of Strathmore, a considerable degree of intimacy subsisted between the parties, which was increased by the similarity of their political sentiments, both of them being favourers of the claims of the Pretender.  Lady Auchterhouse, who was sister to Mr. Carnegie, having invited some of the neighbouring gentry to visit her, there went among the rest John Lyon, Esq. a young gentleman who paid his addresses to another sister of Mr. Carnegie. Mr. Lyon's view in this visit was to ask Carnegie's consent to the match; but this the latter absolutely refused, and treated Lyon with so much asperity, that a quarrel ensued, and swords were drawn by both parties. The Earl of Strathmore, anxious to prevent bloodshed, exerted all his influence to reconcile the contending parties; and at length so far succeeded, that all animosity seemed to have subsided, and the company sat down and drank together, as if no quarrel had arisen.  The conversation now took a political turn; and, as the company were of different sentiments, high words of altercation arose; and the King and the Pretender were abused in a manner equally illiberal.  At length the passions of the parties were so inflamed that they had recourse to blows; and some of them quitting the house, among whom were Lyon and Carnegie, the former pushed the latter on the ground, which enraged him so much that he arose and drew his sword; but Lyon had consulted his safety by flight. Carnegie followed him a little way, but, falling in the pursuit, was lifted up by some of the company; when, turning about with the fury of a madman, he ran his sword into the body of Lord Strathmore.   This melancholy event had no sooner taken place than the company returned to Lady Auchterhouse's, except the Earl of Strathmore, who was carried home by his servants, and died, after languishing two days. A neighbouring magistrate, being informed of what had happened, went to the house and demanded the gentlemen's swords, which were delivered: but Mr. Carnegie having been concealed under some flax in an outhouse, it was required that Lady Auchterhouse should tell where he was, which she did; and the magistrate, having received his sword, sent him to the prison of Forfar.         Some weeks afterwards he was removed, to be tried before the Court of Justiciary at Edinburgh, which is somewhat similar to our Court of King's Bench in England. [Note: There are no grand juries in Scotland; the king's advocate draws the indictment. The judges determine if the crime be capital; and the fact is tried by a petty jury.]  It was fully proved upon the trial, that Lyon had behaved in the most insulting manner to Carnegie, who did not draw his sword till he had been pushed down, as above mentioned. It was likewise proved, that Lord Strathmore had lived on terms of the utmost friendship with Mr. Carnegie; and that, on other occasions, when the latter had been insulted by Lyon, the earl had protected him.  A witness swore that Mr. Carnegie had proposed Lady Strathmore's health when in company, and that he sat next the earl. It was sworn also that Carnegie, since his confinement, had regretted the melancholy issue of the quarrel, as it had deprived him of one of his most valuable friends, and a person whom he could have had no thought of injuring.  Another evidence deposed that the behaviour of Mr. Lyon to Mr. Carnegie was insupportably aggravating; that he pushed him on the breast, and otherwise ill-treated him; and that he had seized Lady Auchterhouse by the hand, and struck it so violently on the table, that she cried out through the extremity of pain.            On the other hand, one of Lord Strathmore's servants swore that Mr. Carnegie stabbed his master twice in the belly; but the surgeon who examined the wound gave a more favourable account of the matter than the servant.  The trial lasted a considerable time, when the jury, considering on the whole matter, gave a verdict that the prisoner was Not Guilty. These transactions took place in the month of July, 1728.
   In the final analysis, Carnegie of Finavon was certainly not guilty of premeditated murder, although the ferocity with which he drove his weapon home and the allegation that the Earl of Strathmore allegedly received two wounds would suggest that he was guilty of manslaughter at the least.  Finavon died peacefully in 1764 and his estate passed to his son (by his second marriage), and thence out of Carnegie hands through the marriage of that son’s daughter.

  A story about premonition was told in the Dundee Magazine for January 1800 about John Lyon, the fourth earl who died in 1712:An old man being in company with the earl, who had his four sons with him, his lordship, in conversation, said, ‘Are not these four pretty boys?’ To which the old man replied, ‘Yes, but they will be all earls, my lord, all earls.’ The earl said, he would be sorry if he were sure that such would be the case. The old man again affirmed that it would be so, and added, ‘God help the poor when Thomas comes to be earl.’ This was literally accomplished in the year 1740, when scarcity and dearth threatened famine in the land.
The same story from The Book of Scottish Anecdote.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Original Source: Violet Tweedale tells of a Unique Ghost?

   Violet Tweedale (1862-1936) was quite possibly the kind of Scotswoman who are not made any more.  Born as Violet Chambers, she was a member of the famous Edinburgh publishing family and became a novelist, short-story writer, spiritualist, member of the renowned occult society the Order of the Golden Dawn.  She was also a theosophist, traveller, philanthropist and more.  Her book Ghosts I Have Seen (1919), from which the passed below is culled, is a thoughtful and intelligent exploration of the interaction of the supernatural on this plane.  Her length account, quoted in full below, occupies ten pages of her book (pp. 165-74), and is a unique and complex tale.
   Who is the Tudor styled lady spotted here and what is the unnamed entity which converses with the distinctly un-psychic Lord Wynford?  We will possibly never know.
   Captain Eric Streatfield (of the Gordon Highlanders), mentioned in the account, died of consumption in South Africa in 1902.  Lord Wynford was William Draper Montague Best, 3rd baron Wynford.  His wife was another Scot, born Caroline Eliza Baillie, daughter of Evan Baillie of Dochfour.

   At that period the great topic of conversation amongst ghost-hunters was Glamis Castle, the most celebrated of all haunted houses. No ghost book is ever considered complete without reference to this celebrated Castle, and the story usually narrated is, that in the secret room some abnormal horror lived, and that the heir, Lord Glamis, and the factor, had to be told of its existence by the Earl of Strathmore in person. This information was of so terrible a nature that it changed not only the lives of those two men, but even their personal appearance. They grew aged and haggard in a single night.  This story was readily discussed in old days by members of the Strathmore family, who were just as keen as outsiders were to probe the mystery. To-day it is universally believed that the monstrosity is at last laid to rest, and that though other ghosts still walk the Castle, the worst has departed forever.  I went one afternoon to see the Wynfords in the hotel in which they stayed whilst in Scotland, and found Lady Reay with them. She was a wonderful woman in her way, and preserved her youth up till very late in life. Lord Wynford was not present, and Lady Wynford at once greeted me by exclaiming, "We are going to stay at Glamis next week, and Lady Reay has been there and seen a ghost."

   "But not the ghost," admitted Lady Reay.
   "Then what did you see? " I inquired.  She then told the following story, which has a sequel :  " I had been in the Castle for three nights and much to my satisfaction seen absolutely nothing.  We were a very cheery party, and every one was frightfully thrilled and nervously expectant, but we were very careful not to breathe the word ' ghost ' before our host and hostess.  "On the fourth night I was awakened by a moaning sound in my room, and I opened my eyes. The room was in total darkness, but I saw something very bright near the door. I shut my eyes instantly, and pulled the bedclothes over my head in a paroxysm of fear.  I longed to light my candles, but didn't dare, and the moaning continued, and I thought I should go quite mad.
    "At last I ventured to peep out again. I saw a woman dressed exactly like Mary Tudor, in her pictures,
and she was wandering round the walls, flinging herself against them, like a bird against the bars of a cage, and beating her hands upon the walls, and all the time she moaned horribly. I'm sure she was the ghost of a mad woman. Her face and form were lit up exactly like a picture thrown upon a magic lantern screen, and every detail of her dress was clearly defined.
   "Luckily she never looked at me, or I should have screamed, and I thought of Lord and Lady I. sleeping in the next room to mine, and wondered how I could reach them. I was really too terrified to move, and the ghost kept more or less to that part of the room where the door was situated.
    "I must have lain there awake for two or three  hours, sometimes with my head buried under the clothes, sometimes peeping out, when at last the moaning suddenly stopped. I opened my eyes.  Thank God, I was alone. The ghost had departed. 
   " I lay with wide open eyes till daybreak. Then the first thing I did was to run to the mirror to see if my hair had turned white. Mercifully it hadn't, but I looked an awful wreck. 
   " I told just a few people what I had seen, and contrived to get a wire sent me before lunch. Early in the afternoon I was on the way to Edinburgh."  Such was the story Lady Reay related.  Thirteen years later Captain Eric Streatfield, who was a nephew of Lord Strathmore, and an intimate  friend of my husband, told me exactly the same story. He was a boy of six at the time, when the lady of Tudor days appeared moaning in his room, and he said he would never forget the misery of the night he passed. He was very much interested in hearing that Lady Reay had gone through the same experience.  He told me another extraordinary story.  Whilst, as a school boy, he was visiting at Glamis Castle with his parents, he noticed that they began to behave in rather a peculiar manner. They were often consulting alone with one another, and constantly scanning the sky from their bedroom window, which adjoined his. For two or three days this sort of thing went on, and he caught queer fragments of conversation whispered between them, such as, " It doesn't always happen. We might be spared this year, the power must die out some day."  At last one evening his father called him into his room, where his mother stood by the open window.  In his hand his father held an open watch.  His mother bade him look out, and tell them what sort of night it was. He replied that it was fine, and still and cold, and the stars were beginning to appear.
His father then said, "We want you to take particular note of the weather, for in another moment
you may witness a remarkable change. Probably you will see a furious tempest."  Eric could not make head or tail of this. He wondered if his parents had gone mad, but glancing at his mother he noticed that she looked strangely pale and anxious.  Then the storm burst, with such terrific suddenness and fury that it terrified him. A howling tempest, accompanied by blinding lightning and deafening thunder, rushed down upon them from an absolutely clear sky. His mother knelt down by the bed, and he thought that she was praying.  When Eric asked for an explanation he was told that when he was grown up one would be given him.  Unfortunately the moment never came. An aunt had told him that the storm was peculiarly to do with Glamis, and was something that could not be explained.  Lord and Lady Wynford paid their visit to Glamis, and I looked forward eagerly to their return in a week's time. I went to see them the day after their arrival back again, and was met by Lady Wynford alone. Before I could question her she began to
speak of the visit.  " I don't want you even to mention the word Glamis to Wynford," she said very gravely. "He's had a great shock, and he's in a very queer state of mind."  She paused, and I ventured to ask, " But what sort of shock? "  Then she gave me the following account : —
"Wynford and I occupied adjoining bedrooms.  We were having a delightful time. Glorious weather,  and a lot of very pleasant people. I really forgot all about there being any ghost. We were out all day, and very sleepy at night, and I never heard or saw a thing that was unusual.
"Two nights before we left something happened to Wynford. He came into my room and awakened me at seven o'clock in the morning. He was fully dressed, and he looked dreadfully upset and serious.  He said he had something to tell me, and he wished to get it over, and then he would try not to think of it any more. I was certain then that he had seen or heard something terrible, and I waited with the greatest impatience for him to continue. He seemed confronted
with some great difficulty, but after a long pause he said —
   " ' You know that I have always disbelieved in the supernatural. I have never believed that God would permit such things to come to pass as I have heard lightly described. I was wrong. Such awful experiences are possible. I know it to my own cost, and I pray God I may never pass such a night again as that which I have just come through. I have not slept for a moment. I feel I must tell you this, in fact, it is necessary that I tell you, because I am going to extract a promise from you. A promise that you will never mention in my hearing the name of this house, or the terrible subject with which its name is connected.'
"I was speechless for a few minutes with perplexed amazement. I had never heard Wynford
speak like that, nor had I ever seen him so terribly upset.  " But,' I said at last, aren't you going to tell me what has so unnerved you ? " He began pacing up and down the room. * Good
God, no,' he exclaimed, ' I couldn't even begin to tell you. I have no words that would have any
meaning or expression. Don't you understand, there is no language to convey such happenings from one to the other. They are seen, felt, heard! They cannot be uttered. There are some things on earth I know of now, that may not be related to the spoken word. Perhaps between a man and his God, but not even between you and me.'  " We were silent again for some minutes, during
which he continued to pace the room, his head drooped on his breast. I was really seriously alarmed. I even feared for his reason, and I couldn't form the smallest conjecture as to what had been the nature of his  experiences. I was quite convinced of one thing.  What he had seen was no ordinary ghost, like Lady Reay's Tudor Lady. She might have amazed him, but it required something much more terrible and awe-inspiring to have reduced him to such a condition of mental misery and desolation.  " I wanted to comfort him, to sympathize with him, but something about him held me at arm's length.  It was his soul that was suffering, and with his soul a man must wrestle alone. I felt that his deep religious  convictions of a lifetime had been violentl}' dislocated, for all I knew shattered entirely, and I felt profound compassion for him. I may have had doubts, on many points. I confess to being a worldly skeptic, but Wynford's faith has always been so pure and childlike, and I have striven never to jar him on religious subjects. Now I feel as if somehow, everything that he has ever had has been taken away from him.
   " At last I said, * Don't you think we had better leave to-day? We can easily make some excuse.'
   " He stopped and looked straight at me, so strangely.
   " ' No, I can't leave to-day. I must stay another night here. There is something I must do. Now will you give me your promise never to mention this subject to me again? We may not be alone together again to-day. I want to get it over. Promise.'
   " I gave him my promise at once. I dared not have opposed him. I was horribly frightened. He went out of the room at once, and I lay thinking and shivering with dread. ' What was it he had to do? Why could we not leave to-day ? ' It was all so mysterious.
   " Well ! the day passed in an ordinary manner, and if Wynford was more grave than usual I don't thinkany one noticed it. Then came the night I so dreaded.Of course I didn't sleep at first, I was too anxious, and I heard him come up to his room half an hour after I did. The door between our rooms was closed,b and I lay awake listening intently. I heard him moving about; I supposed he was undressing, and his man never sits up for him. Then after a time there were occasional creaks which I knew came from an armchair, and I knew that he had not gone to bed.
   " I suppose I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I was aware of was Wynford's voice. He was speaking to some one, and seemed to be in the middle of a conversation. When he ceased speaking I strained my ears to catch a reply. I could hear no words, only his voice. Then a reply did come, and it simply froze the blood in my body, and I felt bathed in ice, and had to put my finger between my teeth, they chattered so horribly.  " The reply was a hoarse whisper, a sort of rasping, grating undertone, that was not so much a whisper as an inability to speak in any other voice. There was something almost inhuman in those harsh, vibrating, yet husky words, spoken too low for me to catch.  I knew at once that no guest, no member of the family, spoke like that, and I could not conceive that it could be a servant. What could Wynford have to say to any servant of Lord Strathmore?
   " A clock somewhere in the Castle struck three.  No; I was certain that the presence with him, whatever else it might be, was no human being dwelling tinder the roof of Glamis.

   "At times they seemed to hold an argument; sometimes Wynford's voice was sharp and decisive,
at other times it was utterly weary and despondent.  I dreaded what the effect might be upon him of this awful night, but I could do nothing but lie shivering in bed, and pray for the morning.
   " How long it went on for I can't say, but the conviction came to me suddenly that Wynford had
begun to pray. His voice was raised, and now and again I fancied I could hear words. The rasping
whisper came now only in short, sharp interjections or expostulations, I don't know which. The even flow of Wynford's words went quietly on, and I began to be certain that he was praying for the being who spoke with that terrible whisper. It occurred to me that he might even be trying to exorcise some unclean spirit.
   " At last a silence fell. Wynford stopped praying, and I hoped that the terrible interview was
at an end. Then it began again, and for quite an hour the prayers went on, with long periods of silence in between. I heard no more of the terrible, husky whisper.
" I fell asleep again and did not awake till my maid brought me early tea. No sooner had she gone
than Wynford entered, fully dressed. Though he looked desperately tired and wan, he seemed quite composed, and as if some weight had been removed from off him. He said he was going for a stroll before breakfast, and, of course, I remembered my promise and put no questions. I have come to the conclusion that a hundred people may stay any length of time at Glamis and see or hear nothing. The hundred and first may receive such a shock to the nervous system that he never really recovers from it."
Such was the mysterious story that Lady Wynford unfolded. I saw her husband the next day, but beyond being graver than usual in his manner I detected no difference in him. He never referred, even in the most indirect way, to his visit, but he must have inferred by my silence that I had been warned not to mention the subject. Many others must, however, have done so, for every one, who at that period passed a night under Glamis Castle roof, was eagerly questioned by friends and acquaintances on their return.  The only occasion on which I visited Glamis was on the night of a ball, given in honor of the Crown Prince of Sweden. The curiosity of the guests was held in check by servants being stationed at certain doors, and entrances to corridors and staircases, to
inform rude explorers that they could not pass. It is hard to believe that such a course of action was necessary, but I personally watched little parties being turned back towards the ballroom and sittingout-rooms, showing that intense curiosity may even prove stronger than good breeding.
What Wynford saw that night will never be known, but one fact remains. It left so deep an impression upon him that he 'was never the same man again.  He became graver and more wrapped up in his own thoughts month by month, and the change that ended in his death his wife attributed to those nights passed in Glamis Castle.

Monday, 29 August 2016

The Stain That Cannot Be Washed Away, or The Stain That Never Was?

When a king dies violently, the ripples of repercussion echo down the ages, even beyond the end of his blood line.  Such was the case with Malcolm II, King of Scots, reputed to have been slaughtered against enemies unknown in the vicinity of Glamis in the year 1034.  Nearby Pictish stones were once, wrongly, believed, to commemorate his brutal murder and the subsequent drowning of his executioners in Forfar Loch.  There was a room within the castle said to be the place where he died.  But why was there a ‘King Malcolm’s Room’ when the actual king perished several centuries before there could have been an actual castle on this site.  Okay, apologists for the legend will forgive the misunderstanding by swearing that the room so called within the building actually stands on the site (approximately?  exactly?) where the royal expired.   Okay, but what about the further garbled detail that a stair-well down which the unfortunate king was thrown was retained when the castle was remodelled in the early modern era?


   Consider the indelible blood stain which is said to have so perturbed a later owner of Glamis that he had the offending floor re-laid.  Spilt blood that will not be removed is a commonplace in folklore and points to an act that was not merely wrongful, but supernaturally designated to be so important that it is not allowed to be forgotten.  In the earliest times it may be that these stains were made specifically by the blood of either saints or rulers who were also touched by divinity.  But in later centuries such traditions became semi-secularised to the extent that a famous murder, and specifically a killing which was notoriously unjust, could be sanctioned by heaven to have a permanent memorial.  One example is the mark left on the floor at Holyrood House where poor, hapless David Rizzio was done to death.  These bloodstains are commonplace throughout Britain.  In a house in Meifod, Powys, there were two dark marks pointed out as the bloody footprints of a murdered who had killed someone there.  Fyvie Castle in Aberdeenshire has its gruesome stains, as does Cotehele House in Cornwall, plus Tadworth Court and numerous other places.  The cleaning regimen in centuries past was poorly served by inadequate chemical detergents.

   At some stage, probably during the 18th or 19th centuries, the inhabitants of Glamis Castle apparently elaborated these stories, which makes one wonder about the cottage industry of myth making possibly behind all the other ghost and monster stories which existed within the house.  In the magazine ‘Willis’s Current Notes’ (March 1855, p. 19) the author, ‘A.J.’ (almost certainly the local historian Andrew Jervise) cites an elaboration of the tradition, given by the English author Howitt, that the very four-poster bed in which King Malcolm breathed his last was still proudly displayed within the room at Glamis Castle.    The author casts doubt on the veracity of this tradition and also upon the assertion that one monogram on the walls of the castle represented the initials of King Malcolm.  In fact, he confirms that the initials are actually those of John, Earl of Kinghorne, and his spouse, Margaret Erskine, 3rd daughter of the Earl of Mar.