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Title: Oppressions of the Sixteenth Century in the Islands of Orkney and Zetland: From Original Documents
Author: Various
Language: English
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                                 OF THE

                           SIXTEENTH CENTURY

                           IN THE ISLANDS OF



                         PRINTED AT EDINBURGH:


                           THE MAITLAND CLUB.

                            JULY M.DCCC.LX.

                          THE MOST HONOURABLE

                   THE MARQUESS OF BREADALBANE, K.T.




















































                        PRESENTED TO THE MEMBERS
                                 OF THE

                             DAVID BALFOUR
                         BALFOUR AND TRENABIE.


                           TABLE OF CONTENTS.


 PREFACE                                                               v

 INTRODUCTION                                                         ix

   DECEMBER M.D.LXXV.                                                  1



   PATRICK EARL OF ORKNEY.  M.D.XCII.                                 99

 APPENDIX and GLOSSARY OF UNUSUAL WORDS                              105


THE following documents illustrative of the Oppressions of Orkney and
Zetland in the Sixteenth century, are now for the first time presented
to the public, and have been carefully transcribed from the original
MSS., 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 same
period, preserved among the very curious collection of Scottish State
Papers in the possession of the Right Honourable the Earl of Hopetown,
whose ancestor was Lord Advocate in the next reign, and I owe the
knowledge 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 printed from
the original MS., authenticated by the signature of the Royal
Commissioners, Mudy and Henderson. This curious State Paper was shown to
me about twenty years ago by a late Sheriff of Orkney, and I then made
two transcripts, one of which, with the original, I gave to him,
retaining the other, which, at one time, I feared might be the only
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,
to whom the Antiquaries of Scotland owe so large a debt of gratitude,
and to whose kindness I also am indebted for the opportunity of
collating my transcript with the Original.

III. _The Commission to Sir John Maitland, the Chancellor, and Sir Lewis
Bellenden, Justeis Clerk, and to Sir Patrik Ballentyne 1587_, to
“enquire into the complaints against Lord Robert Stewart, lait Erle of
Orkney, and James Stewart of Græmsay, his natural son,” is printed from
the original MS., authenticated by the signature of Andro Elleis, Clerk
to the Privy Council. This Commission was previously published in the
Antiquarian Magazine, October 1848, by Mr. George Petrie, the most
diligent and useful of Orkneyan Antiquaries, but by his kind permission
is again presented to the public in a form more lasting and accessible.

IV. _The Supplication to the Parliament be the Gentilmen of Orkney and
Zetland (1592)_, is printed from a _Doubill_ of the same period among my
own papers, and is inserted, not so much for the sake of any information
derivable from the statements of these _Udack_ pretenders to Odal[1]
rights, as to illustrate the ignorance which so rapidly effaced all Odal
traditions even in Orkney, and to share with others my enjoyment of the
pleasant “Measure for Measure” exhibited in the complaints of Laurence
Bruce as a victim of oppression.

Footnote 1:

  For etymological reasons, I prefer the terms ODAL and ODALLER to the
  more usual but less correct forms of UDAL and UDALLER.

I have endeavoured to elucidate a subject so interesting to my
countrymen, but so inaccurately understood even by those best acquainted
with the general history of Scotland, by prefixing some introductory
notices, adding an explanatory and etymological Glossary of unusual
terms, and appending the Complaints of the Orkneyans against David de
Meinars (Menzies of Weem) 1427, from the _Orcades_ of Torfæus, and 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 Odal Law,
Succession and Pedigree; of Things, Oaths, and Umbothskap; of the
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 rejection or
selection, where all seemed to me so interesting, have compelled me to
forego so large an addition to a volume already unduly extended.

BALFOUR, _31st December 1858_.


THE History of Orkney and Zetland is still to be written. There is no
part of the United Kingdom which possesses historical materials more
ample, or more early, 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 perhaps easier to estimate the
amount of attainable knowledge, than to fathom or fill up the depths of
inevitable ignorance, and I am far from pretending to supply this
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 of the North of Scotland, shall be applied to the
parallel subject of these not less interesting Islands. In my essay on a
theme so difficult both from its antiquity and its novelty, I shall
account it a sort of success, if my statements, omissions or mistakes,
shall tempt or provoke some more capable or more practised inquirer—more
earnest, and more honest in the search for truth, he cannot be.

What I now propose is, to give only such brief introductory notices as
may seem necessary to illustrate the ARTICLES, COMPLAINTS and other
documents, selected from the many Supplications, Petitions, Protests and
Memorials of the ill-used Islanders, not merely on account of the more
minute details which they contain of oppression and misrule, but for
their curious glimpses of social life in the far North, and the olden
time, and of the laws and customs of a day and district so near, and yet
so strange.

Placed on a salient point, dividing two oceans, flanking the two weakest
coasts of Britain, and confronting within a few hours’ sail, the mouths
of the Baltic and the Elbe—indented with fine harbours, easily made as
impregnable as any in Northern Europe, and never boomed like them by
half a-year of ice—with a soil of more than ordinary fertility, and a
sea-loving people, hardy, intelligent and enterprising—Orkney was well
adapted to become the vanguard of northern civilization and commerce.
The fostering liberality which has raised a Venice in the Baltic, might
easily have made of Orkney a garden or a granary, and of any one of its
score of harbours, the Valetta or Sebastapol of the Atlantic and German
Oceans. Perhaps with such a position and structure, soil and population,
it might even have become (under circumstances less repressive), the
powerful centre of an independent Hanseatic league, the check and
counterpoise of the usurped monarchy of the seas. But for nearly four
centuries, it has been mediatized into an overtaxed and overshadowed
dependency, and dragged in the rear of a political and commercial
system, in the advantages of which it has been grudgingly permitted to
share, but in whose reverses it has ever been made to suffer most
unequally; and the few who have cared to trace its history, have been
too much absorbed in the painful interest of its actual condition, to
indulge in speculations on what it might have been.

While these Islands were Scandinavian, if not independent, they had from
locality and circumstance some individual action, and a history; but
since they became an item of Scotland, and Scotland of the integer of
Britain, they have had no self-motion to record, but short episodes of
struggle, the spasms of a feverish nationality to be crushed as
rebellion against the dominant state. But their fate has been more hard
than that of most small nations, merged in another larger than
themselves. The ruling power had not only the usual interest in
profiting by union, repressing insubordination and veiling oppression,
but also (from its defective title) in suppressing its surreptitious
profits, lest others should estimate too well the value of Scotland’s
gain and Norway’s loss.

Since they were severed, more than three centuries ago, from the kindred
rule of Norway, their history has been a continuous tale of wrong and
oppression, of unscrupulous rapacity and unheeded complaint. RECEPI, NON
RAPUI, might have been the characteristic motto, as that shadowy
distinction between the merits of the thief and the receiver has been
the plea, of every government under which they have since been ruled or
misruled. Regarded as aliens, of no value beyond the revenue or plunder
which could be extorted from them, they have been granted, revoked,
annexed, re-granted, confiscated and re-annexed, with wearisome monotony
of torturing change. Five times have they been formally annexed to the
Crown by Act of Parliament, and fourteen times committed, in defiance of
such Acts, and without either protection or redress, to one needy and
rapacious courtier after another. Each Donatary or Tacksman, aware of
his precarious opportunity, took for granted all previous exactions, and
sought farther profit in some mine of advantage hitherto unwrought, till
the growing burden of extortion wrung from the Islanders a cry of
oppression too loud to be smothered, and then the government sometimes
disavowed or removed the indiscreet official, who could not conduct his
pillage with decorum. But in general it was blind to all such profitable
enormities, and deaf to all complaints, unless the complainer could give
interest to his case by charges of treason, of embezzlement of royal
revenues, or above all, of coquetting with the dangerous claims of
Norway. In such a case the oppressor became perhaps a victim, and was
forfeited, imprisoned or beheaded, not for oppressing the subject, but
for alarming the Crown. But every change was to the Islanders only a
change of tyrant, and their complaints served only to warn the new
Donatary of the rocks and shoals on which his predecessor had made
shipwreck of the thriving trade of robbery. The Crown might do justice
on the oppressor, but it invariably appropriated his plunder, and
adopted his profitable exactions, as prescribed rights, and precedents
for farther claims. LAURENCE BRUCE was removed—but his false Weights and
Measures still prevail. LORD ROBERT STEWART was imprisoned—but the
Doubled Teind was not reduced, nor the Escheited Land restored—both
still form part of the Estate of the Crown and its Donatary—and the
culprit was reponed, with higher powers, to wreak vengeance on his
accusers. EARL PATRICK was beheaded—but his feudal casualties and
illegal exactions and decreets were still enforced for the benefit of
future Donataries. The BISHOPRIC LANDS have been (in the language of the
New World) _annexed_ by the Crown, and sold to plant the parks of
London—but their chartered obligation to uphold all ecclesiastical
buildings has been transferred to the other landowners. The fictitious
Debt and Mortgage to WILLIAM EARL OF MORTON were cancelled—only to
enhance his powers, profits and peculations, by the sanction of a
surreptitious Act of the British Parliament. Other Scottish counties
were relieved of the “AULD EXTENT” when the new Cess was imposed; Orkney
and Zetland still pay both—to the Crown the British LAND TAX—to its
Donatary the SKAT of Norway.

The very enormity of such anomalies makes it hard to believe them
possible in a place and time so near our own, and harder still to
persuade the nineteenth century, in its self-complacent admiration of
the just and enlightened rule of Britain, that much of the evil still
exists uncorrected and unredressed in this the twenty-third year of
Queen Victoria.

On 8th September 1468, Christian I. of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, by
the CONTRACT OF MARRIAGE between his only daughter Margaret and James
III. of Scotland (after discharging the Annual of Norway, a tribute due
by Scotland for Man and the Hebrides), engaged to pay a dowry of 60,000
florins—viz. 10,000 before the young Queen’s departure, and for the
balance of 50,000, to pledge the islands of Orkney, to be held by the
Crown of Scotland until he or his successors, kings of Norway, should
redeem them by payment of that sum. In return, Christian stipulated for
certain jointure lands and terce to the Queen, if left a widow, or at
her option a payment of 120,000 florins, for 50,000 of which the
restitution of Orkney should be counted as a discharge. Only 2000 of the
presently promised 10,000 florins being paid, Zetland was also
impignorated for the balance of 8000 florins under the same conditions
(20th May 1469), and both groupes were thus mortgaged _sub firma
hypotheca et pignore_ for 58,000 FLORINS OF THE RHINE of 100 pence each,
or about £24,166, 13s. 4d. sterling.

Such was the important transaction on which Britain founds her
possession of these Islands, or, as they were generally styled, THE
COUNTRIES OF ORKNEY AND ZETLAND; and while some have found or fancied in
its terms, unusual safeguards for the laws and liberties of the
Islanders, others have distorted its plain meaning to impugn the right
of redemption, or, with even less honesty, have feigned, forged, or
uttered the forgery of a subsequent irredeemable Cession. But it was
neither less nor more than an IMPIGNORATION, such as Denmark’s
necessities had often forced her to make of States or dependencies which
she could not mean to cede in permanency, such as Funen, Sleswig, and
(more than once) the City and Castle of Copenhagen. A transaction so
usual required no such extraordinary clauses or safeguards. In its very
nature it implied only such a redeemable substitution of ownership as
was consistent with the unchanged integrity of the pledge, so that when
redeemed, it should return unaltered to its original owner. Even while
creating a new and temporary right for Scotland, it did not extinguish
the reversionary claims or present interest of Norway; for we find that
power making valid grants of kirk-lands (1490–1500), its officer, the
Lawman of Bergen, pronouncing valid decrees affecting Zetland (1485),
and the Scottish Parliament expressly recognising the ancient native
laws in the islands (1567) a century after the Impignoration. Most
Scottish historians, from Ferrerius and Buchanan downwards, assert as a
point of national honour the extinction of this Right of Redemption,
either by renunciation or prescription; but the first plea is disproved
by documentary evidence of two centuries of Danish demands and Scottish
evasions; and so late as 1668 (two centuries after the date of the
impignoration, and not two centuries from our own) the Plenipotentiaries
of Europe assembled at Breda, attested that the Right of Redemption was
unprescribed and imprescribable. Whether this Right be still vested in
Denmark, or transferred to Sweden with the Norwegian Crown, are
questions of the Law of Nations decided for the present by British
preponderance of metal—until perhaps some power, recognised by the grace
of Palmerston and Treaty of London as the future heir of Denmark, may
revive the claim with arms as cogent as his pleas and his inducements.

Every writer of Scottish history has recorded this Impignoration, Wadset
or Mortgage, as the basis of Britain’s right to the Orkney and Zetland
Islands, and some have narrated the attendant circumstances with more or
less honesty of investigation; but few have interrupted the flow of
their narrative to trace the political causes or social consequences of
that revolution, and still fewer to define the several rights and
interests of those affected by it as parties, subjects, governors, or

It is not difficult to perceive Scotland’s objects in seeking, not only
to be freed from the constant _casus belli_ of a degrading tribute,
disputed payments, and increasing arrears, but to acquire without cost a
valuable addition of territory long coveted, and to convert a cause of
weakness into a source of strength, by turning dangerous enemies into
disarmed and profitable subjects. All these objects were attained. There
was thenceforth peace between her and Scandinavia. After a few
struggles, the Islanders subsided in angry submission to the fraud and
rapacity of their new rulers; and to a nation impoverished like Scotland
by wars and misgovernment, Orkney proved in time a rich acquisition, if
we may estimate the wealth of the victim by the annual plunder of 3000
head of cattle, 5000 bolls of grain, 6280 stones of butter, and 700
gallons of oil, extorted for centuries in kind or in value from Orkney
alone, in addition to its proportion of the ordinary taxation of the
kingdom, and exclusive of the burdens of Zetland. But of this booty,
little was allowed by the unscrupulous collectors to reach the National
Exchequer, and the gain of the Scottish Crown bore no proportion to its
guilty greed.

The interest of the Danish Crown in this transaction is not so obvious.
It had long been an ordinary resource of its exhausted Treasury to
pledge or sell its States or dependencies, but always for a valuable
equivalent. But in this case, Christian surrendered a large and
undoubted claim, and ceded two valuable provinces for no consideration
except the personal contingency of the Queen’s jointure, frustrated by
her early death (1486). Perhaps, as Count of Oldenburg, even when
exalted to the throne of three kingdoms, he had still a German
gratification in embellishing his family tree with another royal
marriage. Perhaps, as a Dane, he was not unwilling to tear a gem from
the rival, though now united Crown of Norway. If so, he had his
reward—promises without fulfilment—alliance, which never ripened into
aid or subsidy, were all that he obtained for abandoning these kindred
colonies to the will of their ancient enemies, and four centuries of
continuous disaster, defection and decline, have shown if Denmark did
well or wisely in casting off subjects so bound by blood, habit, and
history to love whom she loved, and hate whom she hated.

William Sinclair, the last of the Orkneyar Jarls, had many objects to
gain in the transfer of the sovereignty of the Islands. More refined,
and less ignorant than the contemporary herd of nobles, who suspected
his studies of subjects unearthly and unholy, he could appreciate, even
with some pride, the cloudy romance of his ancestral Sagas; but a
foreigner by descent, if not by birth, he had few sympathies with the
Islanders. His efforts to extend and consolidate his power and estates
had offended the King, estranged the Odallers, and embroiled him with
the Bishop and the Lawman—his family partialities had awakened bitter
feud between him and his eldest son—and as the vassal and high dignitary
of two kings, ruling a province of the one, dangerously near the coast
of the other, he might easily become an object of suspicion or umbrage
to either or both. Indeed, clouds had already arisen between the
Scottish Earl and his Norwegian Suzerain, and the substantial splendour
of the dignities, titles, lands, and pensions of his Scottish
connection, outshone the shadowy jurisdictions and waning revenues of
his ancient Jarldom. With such and so many motives, he can hardly be
blamed for favouring or even suggesting a change which (when consummated
by the subsequent excambion) would release him from a position so
irksome and unsafe, enhance his Scottish influence, and aggrandize a
favourite son, by disinheriting an unloved heir of his Odal birthright.

William Tulloch, the Bishop of Orkney, was a Norwegian prelate, but a
Scottish priest; and if he had any doubts of transferring the spiritual
allegiance of his diocese from Drontheim to St. Andrews, they were
speedily relieved by his appointment as Confessor to the Queen, and
removed by a favourable Tack of the newly acquired demesne of the
Scottish Crown. Indeed the change was almost essential to his safety,
for his frauds and rapacity had provoked the Earl to seize and imprison
him; and he owed his liberty only to the express solicitation of the
Kings of Denmark and Scotland—with both of whom he had the address to
make a merit of his sufferings as a martyrdom for his devotion to their
incompatible interests. The warm commendations of Christian were so ably
seconded by the bishop’s services to James, that the Queen’s confessor
became successively Lord Privy Seal, Ambassador to England, and Bishop
of Moray.

But to the unfortunate subjects of this bargain of kings and princes,
the change was an evil unmixed, irremediable, and scarcely alleviated by
the hope of its temporary nature. Every interest was threatened, and
every feeling wounded, in such betrayal by their natural rulers into the
hands of hereditary enemies—exasperated by five centuries of mutual feud
and outrage—despised as an inferior race for easy defeats and long
subjugation—and hated still more as masters, foreign in blood, language,
customs, and laws. When Scotland writhes under her subjection to her
“auld enemies of England,” and complains of the jealous removal or
destruction of every historical record or monument of independence,
Orkney in its turn may smile to trace, in every mortification of its
first oppressor, a retributary transcript of its own.

Christian indeed made a form of consulting his Orkney subjects, through
their Lawman, before he cast them off, but the Lawman was soon
afterwards, if not then, the bought pensioner of Scotland, and his
opinion, even if conscientious, could no more express the mind of Orkney
than the dictum of the Speaker could bind the judgment of Britain and
her Parliament. It is true that there was in the Islands an anti-patriot
or Alien faction, consisting of the Earl, the Bishop, and their Scottish
dependants, who viewed the change as in every respect favourable to
their own interests, but especially as offering in Scotland a nearer and
more friendly centre of law and Court of Appeal than that of Bergen. But
to the Islanders in general, there was nothing in the Revolution more
galling to their pride, or more dangerous to their interests, than the
imminent conflict of Feudalism with their dearly cherished Odal laws. As
the last command of their native King, they paid their Skatt to Scotland
without remonstrance, almost without a murmur; but the coming shadow of
the first feudal grant which menaced the freedom of their Odal soil,
roused the long-suffering Odallers into rebellion, and the exterminating
victory of Summerdale gave Scottish Kings a lesson for another

To illustrate this conflict of legal systems in connection with the
documents now printed for the first time, I propose briefly to sketch
the TENURE, RIGHTS, and BURDENS OF LAND in Orkney and Zetland prior to
the Impignoration, and the alterations and encroachments made by
Scottish rulers and Scottish lawyers in the sixteenth century.

In the primitive form of Scandinavian society, without trade,
manufacture, or commerce, _land_ was the only wealth, its _ownership_
the sole foundation of power, privilege, or dignity. As no man could win
or hold possession without the strong arm to defend it, every landowner
was a warrior, every warrior a husbandman. King Sigurd Syr tended his
own hay harvest, and Sweyn of Gairsay and Thorkell Fostri swept the
coasts of Britain or Ireland, while the crop which they and their rovers
had sown grew ready for their reaping. The landed interest was
all-powerful, for all were classed according to their interest in land,
as _Free_ or _Un-free_. The _Freemen_ were the landowners, and as such,
members of the Althing or Council of Freemen, including all the
governing powers of the State, the King, Jarl, Bishop, Odallers, and
Odal-baarn. The _Un-free_ were those who, possessing no land, had no
political rights, including not only Slaves, the captives of war or
relics of the conquered Pechts, but Tenants and Dependents, personally
free. But as the interests of all were more or less affected by the
Impignoration and subsequent changes, the extent of the revolution may
be best estimated by a successive consideration of the nature of
ODH-AL-RÆD, of the system of THINGS and STEFNS, and of the condition,
rights and powers of the KING, JARL, and ODALLERS—freeborn Thingmen; of
the BISHOP, a Thingman by custom or courtesy; and finally, of the
UNFREE, Tenants and others, subjects not members of the Thing.

The Al-odh-ial or Odh-al holding was the only tenure of land recognized
in Scandinavian kingdoms. It was transmitted by Odin’s followers to
their offspring, as the dearest of those free institutions which
distinguished them from servile races, willing to hold their lands as
the gift of a master; and in the end of the ninth century, was
established in the Norwegian colonies of Orkney and Zetland as the rule
and safeguard of all property, right and privilege enjoyed or claimed by
king or subject. The Odal tenure, by simple _primal occupancy_, has been
so long and generally superseded by the more complex Feudal theory of
landed property, as the gift of the State or its chief, repaid by
service or payment, conveyed by Charter and Saisine, subject to
casualties and irritancies, and inherited by a single first-born heir by
grace of the Superior, that perhaps it is most easy to realize the Odal
idea as the absolute negation of every Feudal principle. The ODH-AL-RÆDI
or Right of Full Possession, was a tacit entail upon the Primal Occupant
and his Heirs, of the ODALSJORD won by his strong right hand, complete
without a written title, subject to no service, payment or casualty,
comprising every conceivable right of use, ownership and possession, and
at his death, constituting in each of his children an equal, tacit
title, inalienable while one Odal-born descendant should exist to claim
the inheritance. The courtly _Beneficium_ flowing from the Sovereign was
the human invention of kingcraft; the _Alodium_ in its grand simplicity
was a direct gift to man from his Maker, by the true _jus divinum_. Such
was the right of the Odaller; nor was that of the ODAL-BAARN a mere
future contingency, but a present patent of nobility and privilege, not
by writ or summons from a king, but by grace of God, and right of birth
as a FRIBORINN and THINGMAN. He might take service as a Væringr, Hirdman
or Husskarl, or till another’s land as Leigu-madr or Bolman—he might
even sink into a Thræll, like Olaf Tryggveson, or rise like him to be a
king, but his Odal-ræd was indelible. The throne was often filled or
shared on the simple but admitted plea of descent from the founder of
the kingdom, for the royal race was Odal-born to the Crown. The
succession of the Orkneyar Jarl might be divided or disputed by many
heirs; but though royal favour might aid, even royal power could not set
aside one claimant Odal-born to the Jarldom; and after a life of roving,
the Odal-born Væringr might seek rest by reclaiming from the stranger
his Odalsjord in Norway, Iceland or Orkney, alienated in his boyhood or

The present or contingent possession of land by Odal-ræd was thus the
foundation of every right or franchise; and in the infancy of Odal
society, no Law could be made or administered, no Tax imposed or levied,
and no Power assumed or exercised by King or Jarl, without the sanction
of the ALTHING or _Council of Freemen_, where King, Jarl, and Bishop,
Odaller and Odal-born, were all and equally THINGMEN.

The ALTHING was the simple prototype of a modern Parliament, but the
assembly was primary, not representative; and the Estates met and voted
together as in one Chamber. Whether assembled at stated times of Jol and
Vor, or summoned by King or Jarl for special causes, by passing from
hand to hand the Stefn-bod or Cross, the place of solemn meeting was the
great Domring of Stenness, the Thing-stod in Magnus Kirk, or the
Thingholm in Tingwall-vatn, under the Presidency of the LAWMAN OF
ORKNEY, or FOUD OF ZETLAND, the official Speakers of this Island
Parliament. The LAWMAN was the judge appointed (in the early vigour of
Odal independence) by the Thing, but afterwards by the King or Jarl, to
keep the BOOK OF THE LAWS, and to pronounce and ratify the Thing-Doms or
Decreets by the COMMON SEAL OF ORKNEY, of which he was the custodier.
The FOUD was originally the Collector of the King’s Skatt and Mulcts,
first appointed by King Sverrer on the confiscation of Zetland (1196);
but his duties were afterwards assimilated, but subordinate, to those of
the Lawman, and the salary of both was paid by an assessment called
Thing-för-kaup. The Thing and Thing-stod were sacred both to Christian
and Pagan, as a sanctuary where all forgot their feuds and met unarmed,
with a security which weapons could neither win nor maintain elsewhere.
Even the sentenced criminal was safe within its sacred Vebönd, and if he
could win against his pursuers the race of life and death to the nearest
Mör-steinn, Cross or Kirk, was presumed to have redeemed his life in
sight of God and man. Much of the procedure was conducted by reference
to the oath of the accused, and the Lawman’s oath, Saxter oath,
Hirdman’s oath, &c., differed only in their degree of solemnity and
number of compurgators. Besides the criminal penalties of death,
forfeiture, or unlaw to the Crown, damages civil or criminal might be
awarded, and accepted by the sufferers or their kin, with minute
scrupulosity of compensation; and contempt of Court was visited by the
additional infliction of a DOM-ROF. In early times, the Althing enacted
the laws which it administered, authorized and apportioned taxation, and
virtually held the keys of peace and war, by granting or withholding the
supplies; but having once compiled a BOOK OF THE LAWS, it seems to have
exercised its legislative functions but rarely, and, under the less
solemn name of LÖGTHING or LAWTING, to have restricted its consultations
to matters of general administration, finance, police and judicature.
THINGS of many other kinds and of inferior powers, summoned as occasion
arose, were named from their objects, functions, or place of meeting, as
the Leidar-Thing, Höf-Thing, or Huss-Thing, or sometimes styled
_Stefnar_ or _Citations_, as the Hirdman-Stefn or _Council of Warriors_.
Each Herad, Hrepp, Skathald or Parish, regulated its local
administration and assessments by a Herad-Stefn, Hreppa-mot or
Vard-thing, assembled on its Ward Hill or round its Mör-steinn, where
the Under-foud presided as the ruler’s representative, and the
Lögrettman watched the interests of the Commons, and guarded and applied
the Standards of weight and measure. A SCHYND or inquest of Thingmen,
sanctioned every Erffd or division of Odal heritage by its Skind-Bref or
Schynd-bill, and in later times, confirmed every alienation of
land-right by a similar document. Every three or four years the
Vard-thing, headed by its Under-foud, “rode the Hagra,” or perambulated
the march of the common, and exacted from all intruders on the Hagi or
Skathald a rent of Hagleyffi, or a subsidiary Toldber-Skatt, for the
benefit of the Heradsmen, Hreppsmen or Skat-brethren. Every seventh year
the accumulated offences of the district were visited by a Thing of
SKULDING or GRAND-REFF for correction of abuses, where every offence had
its appropriate SKULD or _Fine_. But no sentence affecting life or limb
could be pronounced, except by the Althing or Lawthing, and every
decision was founded on the principles of the venerated LÖG-BOK. This
BOOK OF THE LAWS was probably a selection from the early Norse codes of
the Gula-Thing and Frosta-Thing, and the later enactments of Sverrer,
Magnus Lagabæter, and Haken the Fifth, with such additions and
modifications as the circumstances of the Islands required, together
with a record of former Dooms and Decreets. It was guarded by the
Islanders with superstitious reverence, and the final abstraction of
their LAW BOOK and their COMMON SEAL was perhaps the most unpopular
accusation against Earl Patrick. His perversion of justice under its
pretended sanction, and the irreparable loss occasioned by its
disappearance, gave to the Scottish Crown an excuse for abrogating the
LAWS OF ORKNEY, which, after being acknowledged by frequent Acts of
Parliament, were finally abolished by an Order of the Privy Council in
1612. The Things, though formally abolished by Cromwell and the
submissive Convention, still continued at times to haunt their ancient
Dom-rings, but their power and spirit had vanished with the laws which
gave them life. The Thing was a mere Jury of Inquest, their Lawman a
Sheriff, their Underfoud a Baillie; and strange to say, what may be
called the last ghost of a Thing was (1691) called into a vampire
existence, to give with its expiring breath the shadow of a sanction to
the fraudulent Weights and Measures, against which its Odal fathers had

When Harold Harfagr (895) gave the conquered Jarldom of Orkney to
Rognvald of Mære, the father of Rollo of Normandy, waiving his royal
rights of Skatt and Lydskyld, he ostensibly reserved to his successors,
the KINGS OF NORWAY, little more than a nominal sovereignty. But the
royal rights and prerogatives, though dormant, were not the less real.
The same King Harold exacted from the Islands a heavy Mulct for the
death of his wayward son. King Erik Bloody-axe, and his wicked wife and
sons, seized both lands and Skatts as their own (939). One King Olaf
forced Christian Baptism on Sigurd Jarl and his men (995), and another
compelled Thorfinn, the most powerful of the Orkney Jarls, to
acknowledge himself as his Liegeman (1025). King Olaf Kyrre granted to
his new city of Bergen the Monopoly of the trade with Zetland (1072).
King Magnus Barefoot imprisoned the Jarls, and at his will resumed and
restored the Jarldom (1098). King Sverrer punished Harald Jarl for
rebellion by the Forfeiture of Zetland, and the Islanders by conditional
Confiscation of the Odal of all rebels (1196). King Hacon IV. asked no
leave of Magnus Jarl or his Odallers when he Valued and Taxed their
Urislands (1263). Hacon V. appropriated the Revenue during the Jarl’s
minority (1309), and Hacon VI. during disputed succession (1370); and
every royal Sea-king, who ravaged the coasts of Britain or Ireland,
mustered his fleet in the Orkneys, and received or enforced the Military
Service of the Jarls. Thus from time to time had the Kings exacted in
Orkney every royalty exigible in Norway, but at such long intervals,
that we are apt to regard each rare assertion as a usurpation or new
conquest, and to forget that Harald’s heirs were the Odal-born lords of
Orkney, entitled to all royal rights whensoever they had will or
strength to enforce them.

But when the adoption of primogeniture in the thirteenth century gave to
the Norwegian throne a stability and consistency unknown to Odal
succession, the royal claims became more exacting and more definite, as
the Jarls and other Thingmen became, by Odal division and contest, less
able to resist them. Harald Madadson’s adherence to an unsuccessful
faction was punished as rebellion; and the long intervals of anarchy,
the disputed successions which followed the deaths of Erlend IV. (1158),
and of each last male of the successive lines of Athol, Angus or
Stratherne, Jarls of Orkney, and the reference by the claimants and the
Islanders to royal arbitration, afforded to the Crown irresistible
opportunities of asserting and realizing its claims to possess by Royal
and hereditary right—1st, The actual Sovereignty of the Islands, the
Ownership of the Jarldom and consequent prerogative to grant or to
withhold investiture of any of the claimants; 2nd, A Jurisdiction
exclusive in some cases, and cumulative and appellative in all others;
3rd, The Skatt of all occupied Odal lands, with confiscation in case of
Skattfal or non-payment; and 4th, The Bota-Mali or Mulcts for homicide,
and other finable crimes, and the O-bota-mali or Forfeitures for crimes
not expiable by fine. Commissions during the King’s pleasure were
granted to the Earl, the Bishop, or some other officer specially
appointed as Governor, Custos, Foud or Lieutenant, to govern the Islands
and collect or farm the revenue; but under an express acknowledgment
that such temporary and _fiduciary_ powers and rights, however ample,
were given without prejudice to the King’s prerogative to bestow, resume
or reserve, all or any of them at his pleasure. It is probable that some
lands and Skats were always thus reserved and intrusted to several
hands; but on what grounds, or to what extent, it is useless to inquire,
since the Impignoration included every royal right in Orkney and
FORFEITS, and conveyed them UNDER REDEMPTION to the Crown of Scotland.

The JARL held not only the largest Odal lands in his Jarldom, but the
sovereign power in a secondary and delegated degree. None of these
rights, however, descended to him by the Odal-ræd, which constituted the
immemorial title of his subjects. The Odal of his fathers lay in the
Norwegian Jarldom of Mære. Rognvald became Jarl of Orkney (895), only by
the gift of King Harald Harfagr; and his successors owed their lands and
dignities to similar royal grants, and their powers to the sanction of
the Althing. But though only the Lydskylldr or Liegeman of the King, the
Orkneyar Jarl was not only exempted from the customary Lydskylld of
Norwegian Lendermen; but in consideration of exposure to piracy, was
permitted to retain the royal Skatt paid by the Odallers for the
exigencies of the Jarldom, and there was little to remind him of his own
subjection, unless when face to face with the King, nor of the Odallers’
independence, except their rare refusal to join him in a Viking-för.
When at home he passed, like the kings of Norway, from one Bordland, Böl
or _Guestquarter_ to another, receiving most of his revenues in kind for
the ordinary necessities of his household, and defraying his wasteful
hospitalities at the cost of his Saxon or Celtic neighbours impartially.
With the Skatt of the Odallers, and the Landskylld of his tenants, he
kept up a fleet of restless rovers, ever ready for a provident
Haust-Viking on the coasts of England, Scotland, or Ireland, for their
Jol-feasts and winter cheer, or a thrifty Vörviking, when their
exuberant carouses threatened a short supply of beeves and ale. At his
death, his Jarldom and its rights were divided, compromised or contested
by his heirs, till but one or two remained to enjoy the impoverished
inheritance. Nine generations of this Northman race of Rognvald had
ruled the Jarldom by a sort of prescriptive Odal-ræd, sometimes
extending their authority over half of Scotland and Ireland—sometimes
struggling for their insular domains—but in the twelfth century, the
growing power of the Scoto-Celtic Crown had shorn them of their southern
conquests of Moray, Ross, Inverness, Man, and the Hebrides. Erlend IV.,
the last heir male of his line, shared the Jarldom with St. Rognvald
(the first instance of succession through a female—the founder of
Kirkwall and its stately kirk, in honour of his maternal uncle Magnus
Jarl, the Saint and Martyr), and on their closely consecutive deaths
(1154–8), the sole succession devolved upon HARALD II., son of the
Countess Margaret of Orkney and the Scottish Earl Madad of Athol. Harald
Madadson was the founder of the shortest but most disastrous of Orkneyan
dynasties. By his opposition to the Birkbeinar revolution, which made
Sverrer Sovereign of Norway, Harald Jarl forfeited Zetland (1196), never
to be again formally or permanently united to Orkney; and after two wars
of mutual barbarity and reprisals, he was compelled to do homage to
William the Lion for all Cathnes to the Oikel (1198). His son JOHN OF
ATHOL, by his share in the death of Bishop Adam of Cathnes, forfeited
the southern portion of that province, the new county of Sutherland
(1222); and on his murder, for his Scottish disregard of the Odal claims
of his Orkneyan relatives (1231), his son-in-law MAGNUS II., son of
Gilbert Earl of Angus, was acknowledged Jarl of Orkney by Hacon IV. of
Norway, and of Cathnes by Alexander II. of Scotland. Five generations of
this race of ANGUS ruled Orkney and Cathnes during a century of unwonted
peace, arising from this double vassalage, the minorities and civil wars
which weakened both Norway and Scotland, and the treaties of matrimony
and commerce which united them. This calm was scarcely disturbed by the
last Northman Viking-storm, which swept over the Islands to expire at
Largs in the equinoctial gales of 1263, but which is memorable to Orkney
for the Survey of its Urislands, and the Deathbed of Hacon, the last of
the Sea-Kings. MAGNUS JARL III. had little difficulty in making his
peace with his royal namesake of Norway, for his lukewarm support of an
invasion so violent, and his grandson JOHN II. married a daughter of
King Erik of Norway. The prudence of Robert the Bruce, Hacon V., and the
young MAGNUS JARL V., hastened by mutual compensation and a new treaty
(1312) to restore peace, when Scottish pirates seized and held to ransom
Sir Berner Pess, the Norwegian Governor of the Islands during the Earl’s
nonage, and Orkney had retaliated by a similar outrage upon Patrick of
Mowat, a Scot—perhaps the first introduction of two names now common in
the Islands. During this period of comparatively peaceful intercourse,
many other Scottish names and fashions found entrance, and many
distinctive Scandinavian features disappeared in Orkney, though still
prevalent in Zetland, which was less exposed to Scottish influences. The
male line of ANGUS JARLS failed in MAGNUS V., and their curtailed
Jarldom passed by a female heir to the Scottish EARLS OF STRATHERNE, and
from them to their representatives, ALEXANDER DE ARTH, who inherited and
resigned the Earldom of Cathnes to Robert II. (1375–6), and HENRY LORD
SINCLAIR, whose homage as EARL OF ORKNEY was, after an interval of
disputed succession, accepted by Hacon VI. (2nd August 1379), but on
conditions which left to him little beyond the lands of his fathers.
Even their title, the only hereditary title permitted in Norway to a
subject not of the Blood Royal, was declared to be subject to the Royal
option of investiture. The Earl was to govern the Islands and enjoy
their revenues, but only under Norse laws, and during the King’s
pleasure; to keep in pay soldiers for the King’s service, but to make no
war, build no place of strength, make no contract with the Bishop, nor
sell nor impignorate any of his rights without the King’s consent; and
finally, to answer for his administration to the King’s Court at Bergen.
But the civil broils which preceded the Union of Calmar, and were
continued through the restless reign of Eric the Pomeranian, freed Earl
Henry from royal interference, and he ruled the Islands regally in his
Castle of Kirkwall, which he built without waiting for the King’s
consent, and with such strength and skill, that the witch-haunted mind
of the 17th century believed that only the devil himself could have been
its engineer and architect. His powers and rights were tacitly continued
to his son EARL HENRY II., whose little Court of Orkney was the most
elegant and refined in Europe, and adorned with the official services of
many proud Scottish nobles. To his enlightened guardianship was
committed the early education of the most accomplished prince of his
time—James I. of Scotland, the Zerbino of Ariosto; and half a century
before Columbus commenced his baffling search for a patron among the
sovereigns of Europe, the Venetian navigator Zenoni had been
commissioned by Earl Henry to retrace the footsteps of the early
Scandinavian discoverers of the Western World. On the death of Henry
II., the Foudrie of Zetland was conferred upon John Sinclair his brother
(1418); and during the nonage of his son, the Government of Orkney was
committed (1422), first to the Bishop Thomas Tulloch, then to the Chief
of the Scottish Clan Menzies, and again to the Bishop, till (on 10th
August 1434) William Sinclair was formally invested with the title, and
intrusted with the Government, subject to the same hard limitations as
his grandfather. WILLIAM, the last JARL OF ORKNEY, was the most liberal
patron of Scottish literature and art in his day. He was busied in the
endeavour to consolidate his power and increase his estates by purchase
and excambion, when the Impignoration opened to him a shorter and safer
way to gratify at once his ambition, his affection, and his hatred; and
with the same worldly wisdom which led him (1455) to prefer the
possession of Caithness to his claims on Nithsdale, he accepted (1471),
with the full consent of the King of Denmark, the lands and pension
offered by James III. as an ample equivalent for all that remained to
him of the ancient Jarldom of Orkney—viz., his title and his lands,
inherited or acquired.

The ancient estate of the Jarls lay scattered through every Island and
township of Orkney and Zetland, and consisted, 1st, of LANDS SET or
_leased_ to tenants on a three years’ tack, with a GERSOM or _fine_ at
each renewal, and an annual LANDSKYLLD, _landmail_ or _rent_, in
addition to the King’s Skatt, the Bishop’s Teind and other burdens,
local and general; 2nd, of the BORDLANDS or _Mensal farms_, with their
Böl and its enclosures, the occasional quarters of the Jarl in his
progresses of pastime or State Service, and on that account exempt from
Skatt, even when leased to husbandmen on the usual terms in other
respects; and, 3rd, of certain QUOYS and other lands added by Odallers
to their holdings, but not by odal-ræd, and therefore paying no Skatt,
but Landskylld and other burdens of tenant lands. The Earldom also
included CONQUEST or _acquired lands_, consisting, 1st, of lands added
by the later Earls by purchase or excambion; and, 2nd, of lands which
they had seized as _ultimi hæredes_, or confiscated for crime or
Skatfall. The tenants or tacksmen of the “auld” Earldom were a sort of
Rentallers with a prescriptive claim of renewal by law or custom, on
payment of the stated Gersom; but those of the Conquest lands were in
the far less favourable condition of removable tenants, with terms and
burdens at the landlord’s mercy. A small fee was expected by the Earl’s
bailiff, at each renewal or assedation, called for the Mainland
LAND-SETTER, and for the smaller islands EYSETTER-KAUP, and every tenant
was bound to _fure_ or ferry the Earl and his family, to bring peats to
his Castles of Birsay or Orphir, and perform other prædial services when
required. The payments were mostly made in kind, altering in form
according to the convenience, residence or non-residence of the
donatary, but weighed and measured by fixed and native standards. These
LANDS, MALES, GERSOMS and SERVICES, constituted the _jus comitatus_
which Earl William (1471) conveyed to the Crown of Scotland.

From the time of WILLIAM, by Romish consecration PRIMUS EPISCOPUS
ORCADUM (1136), the Bishops had a seat in the great Council of Freemen.
Whether this were at first their right as actual or presumed Odal-born
Freemen, a concession to their sacred office, or a priestly assumption,
their presence in the Thing was often salutary, sometimes to the Jarl,
sometimes to the Odaller, either as Councillors for the wisdom of the
serpent, or as peacemakers for the gentleness of the dove.

The earliest authorities testify as usual to the undainty
acquisitiveness of the Clergy, making profit alike of the weakness and
the wealth, the crimes and the penitence of all around them. Augmenting
and prospering by Gifts—such as those of the Odaller of Airland to the
Crosskirk of Stenness, of David of Rendall to St. Ninian, or of
Guidbrand of Quendal to the Vicar of Evie, for “a mass ilk Friday;” by
Confiscations—as of Baddi’s Lands for bloodshed in the Kirkyard; by
perpetuation of all liferent Donations; by pretended Excambion,
retaining their own land and seizing the promised equivalent; by
withholding their own Skatts and embezzling others, and by the
numberless oppressions of lawless strength against weak neighbours, the
Bishops advanced in wealth and power. In the quaint language of Bishop
Graham, “the old Bishopric of Orkney became a greate thing, and lay
_sparsim_ throughout the haill parochines of Orkney and Zetland. Besyde
his lands, he hade the teyndis of achtene kirks; his lands grew daily as
adulteries and incests increased in the countrey,” till they were
“estimat at the third part of the COUNTREYIS of old.” How or when the
Bishops were permitted to Tithe the lands and labour of the Islands is
uncertain; probably the building of Magnus Kirk, the Primus Episcopus,
and this impost were connected and coincident (1136); but its rigorous
exaction and arbitrary increase were probably too recent for popular
patience, when (in 1222) Bishop Adam was burned to death for doubling
the customary payment. Certain Skatts were probably granted among the
earliest provisions for religious uses, but the indiscriminate
appropriation of those of Church-lands and others probably commenced
when the Scottish Bishop, Thomas Tulloch, combined the powers and
opportunities of Bishop, Governor and Collector of Royal Revenues,
during the non-investiture of Earl William (1422–34). With possessions
so extensive, a jurisdiction over their own lands almost unlimited, and
an influence dreaded by all in this world, as all-prevailing in that
which is to come, the Bishop could cope with the waning power of the
Jarl as easily as other Prelates of the Scandinavian Church could defy
the Crown. Safe in his Palace of KIRKWALL or his stately Castle of
NOLTLAND (his _Land of Leisure_, his Episcopal _Buen Retiro_ or _Sans
Souci_), he was within his own domain as powerful for good or evil as
the Crown or its Donatary, but Orkney never tasted the full bitterness
of oppression, till the powers of both were united in such hands as
those of Bishop Thomas, or his kinsman and successor William Tulloch,
who filled the See at the date of the Impignoration, and was rewarded
for his supple usefulness by a favourable Tack of the Earldom and Royal
revenues. It was fatal to the interests and independence of Orkney,
that, at such a crisis of transition, the power to interpret and fix the
existing and future rights of parties should have been intrusted to such
an arbiter. His ambition as a Courtier, his interest as a Churchman, his
partiality as a Scotchman, and his education as a Canonist and feudal
lawyer, all united to bias his decision of the questions at stake
between the Scottish Crown and its Scandinavian subjects—between Feudal
principles and what were to him the barbarous anomalies of Odalism.
Able, subtle and plausible, he was equally conversant with every
stronghold of Feudal or Canon law, and every weak point in the Odal
system. Scotland could not have found a minister more skilful or less
scrupulous in turning its new acquisitions to advantage. If he somewhat
aggrandized his benefice at the cost of the Crown’s Estate intrusted to
him, he largely enriched both at the expense of the Odaller, on whom he
accumulated new burdens, teinds, services and escheats, with such
ingenuity, that his successors in oppression could hardly “better the
instruction” by one original idea of extortion—one impost which could
not be traced to some suggestive innovation of Bishop William.

The ODALLERS and ODAL-BORN were the COMMONS of Orkney and Zetland—the
constituted the numerical strength of the Althing. There is no class in
Europe exactly analogous to this—the ODALS-MADR, BONDI or
_Peasant-Noble_ of Orkney and of Norway—but perhaps the Hindustani
scholar might trace some curious parallels in the Tenures and treatment
of the landowners of Upper India. He was a Peasant, for he tilled his
own land, and claimed no distinction among his free neighbours; but he
was also Noble, for there was no hereditary order superior to his own—as
an ODALS-MADR with RŒDI, EIGN and SŒMD—_Master of his Household, his
Goods and his Honour_.[2] The King might wed the Odaller’s daughter or
match his own daughter to the Odal-born without disparagement, for he
himself was but the Odal-born of a larger Odal. The Jarl might be deemed
less free and therefore less noble, for he owed something to the grace
of a human superior. The Bondi in his Odal was _sui juris_, and in the
one-chambered Parliament of the Althing, had a vote and voice as
potential as King or Jarl, who often, when consulting the humour or will
of the Odallers, were bearded and thwarted by the independence of some
Thorkel Fostri, Magnus Havardson, or Sigurd of Westness. The King might
enforce the military service of the Jarl—the Odallers owned none to
either of them. Nothing short of actual invasion entitled the Jarl to
call them to arms by the Ward-fire, and with all their passion for the
sport of war, many a right and immunity they won or redeemed, as the
price of their consent to some foreign Viking-för.

Footnote 2:

  The three legal distinctions of Odal-rœd consisted of RŒDI,
  _dispensatio rei œconomici_; EIGN, _possessio_; and SŒMD, _honor_,
  _decus_—the “Royth, Ayning, and Saming,” so common in Orkneyan titles,
  and so puzzling to legal Antiquaries.

The ODALSJORD consisted of the TUN or _Town-land_ with its BOL (_Head
Bull_ or principal farm), enclosed by its TUN-GARDR (_hill dyke_), which
separated its GARTH (_Infield_) from its SŒTTUR or HAGI (_out pasture_
or _hill_). Every enclosure from the Sœttur became a QUI (_Quoy_), which
if encircled by an extension of the _Tun-gardr_, became a _Tumale_, or
if again abandoned to pasture, became a _Toft_. It is doubtful if these
later additions, the _Quoy_, _Tumale_ and _Toft_, enjoyed at any time
the same Odal immunities as the original possessions—the _Tun_, _Bol_
and _Garth_; but there is not a doubt that the first Odaller occupied
the _Tun_ and used the _Sœttur_ by the same Odal title, unwritten,
unburdened, inalienable, and divisible equally among the Odal-born. In
this division each _Garth_ or _Quoy_ might become the _Head Bull_ of a
new Odal, with the same Odal-ræd, a share of the Infield, and a
proportionate right to the common _Hagi_ or _Sœttur_, in which every
intruder paid to the _Tun_ a HAGA-LEYFI for leave to pasture. The union
of several towns constituted a HREPP or _Tribe_, with its local Court or
HREPPA-STEFN, the members being bound together as HREPPSMEN or
SKATTBRÆDER, sharing together the pasture of the MOAR or SKATT-HALD, and
the TOLL-BER-SKATT exacted from strangers; and a combination of such
_Hrepps_ or _Skat-halds_ formed a HERAD or THING, which in time became a
PARISH. But equal and independent as they were, each secondary Odal
retained a Suffragan regard for the primal Odalsjord, which gave name to
the _Tun_, _Hrepp_ or _Scat-hald_, and the Odaller of the _Garth_ or
_Quoy_ respected and acknowledged in the Odaller of the _Bol_ or _Bu_,
the HOFDING or Chief of the HREPP and SKAT-BRETHREN, as naturally as the
Tacksman and Bol-man felt their inferiority to both.

The Odaller owned no vassalage to King, Jarl, Lawman or Hofding, but
with characteristic love of system, and deference to lawful authority,
he yielded to each in his degree the obedience of a subject; not the
personal devotion of the Celtic Clansman to his kindred Chief, but the
federal subordination of a Gothic FRIBORINN to the Executive Presence of
those Laws to which he himself had consented as a Thingman. He owed
neither rent, duty, nor service for his Odalsjord, but as a subject and
Thingman he was liable to various assessments for the public service. Of
these the earliest and most important was the SKATTR or _Land Tax_,
first imposed by Harald Harfagr as a tribute from all the Occupied Lands
of his kingdom or colonies, towards the expenses of the State and
revenue of the King. LEDANGR or LEANGR, another Tax for public service
and naval equipment, was paid in Shetland (where the people and customs
have always been more purely Scandinavian), but not in Orkney. The
THING-FÖR-KAUP, the ancient fee of the Lawman for his duties at the
Thing, and the VOTN-TEL, or fee of the Underfoud for telling the votes
and summing up the evidence of the Vard-thing, were early assessments.
But when or how the Odallers submitted to the imposition of TEINDS is
doubtful—probably when St. Rognvald established a fitting hierarchy for
his new Cathedral in the twelfth century. The SKATT, TEYND, FÖR-KAUP,
VOTN-TEL and LEANGAR, were the only payments exigible from the Odaller,
though they severally became the foundation of every subsequent
exaction. The denominational proportion was permanent, but the amount
and form of payment was altered or augmented according to local
circumstances. Though nominally valued in Marks, Ures or Pennies, the
taxes of Zetland were paid in Wadmal, Oil or Fish, the produce of its
Skathalds, rocks and seas, and those of Orkney in Butter from its
pasture, with augmentations or commutations of Malt from its advancing
culture, all weighed and measured by native standards of Norwegian
origin, and apportioned by authority of the Thing according to the
ancient valuation of Hacon the Fourth (1263), which has strangely
subsisted for nearly six centuries without suggesting or affording to
Crown or Donatary an opportunity of oppressing the Islanders profitably.

It would be difficult to trace each successive change in the condition
of the Odallers, to tell how their Odals, impignorated to Torf-Einar
Jarl for their share of the Mulct for the slaughter of Halfdan Halœg
(930), were redeemed from Sigurd Jarl by their voluntary service in his
Irish wars (1014); or how, by the gift of a mark for each ploughland to
Jarl Rognvald’s stately Magnus-Kirk, they purchased an immunity from
confiscation (1130), which they forfeited by rebellion against King
Sverrer (1196). But Odal law and Odal influence declined more rapidly
and continuously with every succeeding race of Scottish Jarls, as each
Athol, Angus, Strathern and Sinclair, came attended by clansmen and
dependants, the ready tools of the fraud or violence of their chief; as
Scottish Bishops followed to the prey, lawyers rather than divines,
willing to instruct brute force with clerkly subtilty, and skilled in
the devil’s logic to warp even the Divine law into oppression. Even the
Lawman, once guardian of the common liberties, and still expounder of
the Book of the Laws, was generally some Scottish settler, some Cragy,
Hall or Irving, owners of Odal land, but not by Odal-ræd—who, ignorant
of Odal law, misinterpreted its principles, and misapplied its terms
according to Scottish ideas, and introduced written deeds and Scottish
forms, in feudal distrust of an undocumented title. Under such combined
influences of ignorance and interest, every generation saw some
principle modified, some right invaded. Thus each distribution of Odal
heritage came to need the sanction of a SHYND or DOOM OF ERFFD from the
Thing and Underfoud, equivalent to a Scottish service, and instead of an
equal share, the eldest son claimed the Head Bu, and each daughter was
restricted to half a son’s portion. The rights once inalienable from the
Odal-born, became the subject of Impignoration, of Forfeiture, of
Donation to the Church, and of Alienation on the ground or legal fiction
that the Odaller was too poor to retain, or the Odal-born to redeem
them. The legal term of Redemption was gradually shortened, and its
conditions made more stringent, till finally a modification of the
Shynd-bill in presence of the Thing was alone necessary to legalize the
purchase, sale, and transference, of almost every Odal right, to evade
the claims of the Odal-born, and to give to the Scottish purchaser the
un-odal security of a written title in his own language—a combined form
of Disposition and Sasine.

Six centuries of Odal sub-division had minutely intermingled the lands,
rights, and privileges of every Townland. At each succession the
Odalsjord was shared among the Odal-born, male and female—the Jarl
claimed for himself or for the Crown all lands forfeited and unredeemed,
and seized as _ultimus hæres_ every inheritance lapsed or unclaimed—the
Bishop asserted the Church’s rights to the gifts of the pious, a share
of the forfeits of the guilty, the teinds of all, and the _corban_
perpetuity of every indulgence once permitted to a Churchman—and
Scottish settlers claimed Odal lands and Odal rights by descent,
affinity, or purchase. Thus the Odalsjords and their vague and customary
pertinents were mixed in alternate patches, ridges or furrows, not only
with other Odals, but with the claims of Jarl, Bishop or settler, as
undefined, but more arbitrarily expansive. Even before the Odallers’
final change of masters, two centuries of such foreign and native
influence had prepared the way for such a revolution, by modifying his
privileges, altering his customs, and effacing much even of his own
memory of their origin and traditions. But his spirit was still
unbroken, he was still a Thingman, his order was still that of the
Gofugar and Gœdingar of the Sagas, the _proceres communitatis_, whose
wealth and influence pointed them out as the mark of the oppressor.
Their Odal lands, pertinents and immunities, were still the field whence
lawless power could reap a golden harvest, and more than a century of
Scottish oppression was still required to level the Peasant Noble of
Orkney with the Tacksman or Husbandman of the Earldom or Bishopric.

The only class which remains to be noticed as interested in the change
of sovereignty, is the _Unfree_—that large body possessing personal
freedom (for slavery had gone out with the Vikings) but no political
rights as Thingmen—the Tenants of the King, Jarl, Bishop or larger
Odallers. These were either BOLMEN, _tenants at will_, or LEIGU-MEN, _by
tack or assedation_, paying to the proprietor a LANDSKYLLD, _land mail
or rent_, and EYSETTER and LANDSETTER-KAUP, or its Scottish equivalent
of _grassum_, on each renewal of their tack—with all the other burdens
of Skatt, teind, &c., sometimes besides, sometimes included in their
land mail of money, grain, butter or live-stock, and certain prædial and
personal services of mills, peats, furing or ferrying, &c., mostly of
Scottish origin, and exigible according to the caprice or wants of their

Such were the condition and powers of Thing and Thingmen—such the land
rights of King, Jarl, Bishop and Odaller, at the date of the
Impignoration; and when Christian (28th May 1469) addressed a letter to
the Communities of Orkney and Zetland, desiring them to pay obedience
and Skatt to the King of Scots till redeemed by the King of Norway, he
no doubt intended, and his subjects hoped, that it was but a temporary
transfer of the sovereignty of the Islands, to return to his Crown
unblemished and unchanged, like his often pawned metropolis. But the
Scottish Government entertained very different views of the nature and
duration of its rights and powers; and from the first, no resource of
law or chicane was left untried to fortify and perpetuate its defective
and redeemable title. By a series of transactions (from 17th September
1470 to 16th May 1471), the Crown in exchange of certain lands in Fife,
and a pension of 40 merks, acquired from Earl William an irredeemable
title to the Earldom estate, and _jus Comitatus Orchadie_—an Act of
Parliament annexed to the Crown the “Erledome of Orknay and Lordship of
Schetland, nocht to be gevin away in time to cum to na persain or
persainis, excep alenarily to ane of the kingis sonnis of lauchful bed”
(20th February 1471), and the Archbishop of St. Andrews was despatched
to Rome, to invoke the solemn benediction of Pope Innocent VIII. on the
Impignoration and subsequent transactions, as the seal of Heaven’s
sanction upon the completed Revolution.

It is a strange ingratitude in Britain to abjure the Jurisdiction of the
Pope; while so many of her original titles rest solely on his
authority—improved perhaps by force, as in Wales—by fraud, as in
Orkney—or by a happy combination of both, as in Ireland.

The Scottish Crown had now a Redeemable title to the Sovereignty of the
Islands with the Skatts, Fines, Forfeits, and Jurisdictions of the Kings
of Norway under Wadset, for a principal of £24,166, 13s. 4d., and
subject of course to a Count and Reckoning for its intromissions, which
would show how soon and how often that sum has been paid—principal and
interest—by the Revenue drawn from the Islanders. It had also acquired
an Absolute and Irredeemable Property in the lands, males, and services
of the Earldom; but to the lands of the Bishop or Odallers it had no
other pretentions than those included or implied in the rights of
Sovereignty. To extend over these free domains the claims of Superiority
or Property, to confound the titles Redeemable and Irredeemable, and to
frustrate the power of Redemption by effacing all distinctive laws,
customs and tenures, required time, patience and adroitness in invading
rights and evading claims; and the gradual substitution of feudal for
odal law, and the degradation of the Scandinavian Countries of Orkney
and Zetland to a Scottish County and Lordship, was the stealthy process
of the next century and a half.

The absorption of the Bishopric and Kirklands (commenced without a
shadow of title, and in the infancy of public opinion) has been so slow,
silent and serpentine, that their final assimilation as British property
is an act of the present reign. The first advance bore the harmless form
of a courteous recognition of the Bishop’s rights by his new Sovereign,
in a charter of Regality (10th October 1490). The assumption of a
concurrent sanction of the Norwegian presentee of the Kirklands
(1491–2), was followed by the sole presentation (under Papal Sanction)
of a Commendator and Successor to the Bishop (8th April 1498), and
shortly afterward by the defiant appointment of an Archdean of Zetland,
with a protest against “the temerity and presumption” of the Danish
Presentee (8th January 1501–2), and in the civil feuds which long shook
the Norwegian throne the Scottish Patronage of the See of Orkney was
thenceforth undisputed. The right to dispose of the Church rents during
a vacancy (2nd March 1559), and to confirm the Feu Charters of Church
lands (1560), flowed naturally from the Charter of Regality; the Act of
Annexation (29th July 1587) seemed a necessary precaution against the
rapid spoliation of the Church; and the Excambion of Earldom and
Bishopric (4th October 1614), was too obviously beneficial to both to
look like usurpation. During the convulsions of Church and State in the
seventeenth Century, the Bishopric was repeatedly applied to secular
uses; but the final act of appropriation was that which established
Presbytery (22nd July 1689); the Church lands were vested in the
Scottish Exchequer, and ultimately transferred to the British Board of
Woods and Forests, by whom, in Imperial contempt of all nationalities,
Scandinavian or Scottish, the Orkney Bishopric has been sold (1854–56),
and the price expended in the adornment and luxury of London.

The attacks upon the rights and liberties of the Odaller required less
delicacy, and were conducted with less decorum, for he stood defenceless
in his isolation. All who might have made common cause with him had been
bribed into complicity against him; the Danish King, by promises; the
Earl, by grants and pensions; the Bishop, by present preferments and
future hopes; and even Kirkwall was seduced from native interests by its
erection into a Royal Scottish burgh (31st March 1486). The very name
and traditions of the Odalsmadr secluded him from the sympathies of the
Tacksmen or Tenants, a class more favoured by the higher powers because
more profitably open to arbitrary exaction. To reduce both to the same
level of easy oppression under form of law, was the first object of the
Government; and the first duty which the Scottish King imposed upon its
new subjects, the Earl and the Bishop, was the compilation of a RENTALE,
modified (with a difference) from the ancient SKATT BOOK, and embracing
all the lands and burdens of Orkney and Zetland, with a studied
confusion of Odaller and Tacksman, of Odal and Feudal, of Skatt and Land
male, aggravating every payment that had ever been made under any
circumstances, and adding every exaction, prestation, or service that
could be suggested by feudal lawyer or canonist. But however justly the
Odaller might complain of the new and heavy burthens of the Rentale, of
its abrogation of his rank, its evasion of his claims, invasion of his
rights, and imposition of degrading services, other secret and inherent
agencies, as hostile and less suspected, were working the downfal of the
Odal system. Like every human attempt to curb individual passions by
social laws, it had seen and outlived its day of usefulness; but every
creed is dear to those nurtured amid its influences, and a generation
which remembers the fanaticism of Whig and Tory, and still pants with
the contest of Protection and Free Trade, has no right to smile at the
long struggle of feudal prejudice or the longevity of Odal dotage.

The simple rules and forms of Odal law might suffice to define and guard
the rights of man as an individual, or even as a member of society in
its primeval or patriarchal form, of a few families scattered far apart,
with intervals of wild solitude, with the sea for their march, and the
mountain for their landmark. But as the rights and obligations of the
man and the family became complicated with those of the neighbour, the
citizen, or the subject, society soon outgrew this simple code. Each new
social element required some new modification; every change, as by an
inherent principle, tended to concentrate in the State, or its Head, the
rights and powers of the individual; the Odaller, whose free
institutions have taught freedom to the world, was cherishing a system
as fatal to liberty as that which he despised, and Feudalism in its
vigour was scarcely more favourable to the growth of despotic power than
Odal-ræd in its decay. In both the evil might have been checked, by
opposing to the invasions of tyranny the resistance of a powerful
aristocracy, of an influential middle class, or of the rival supremacy
of the Church. But when the Impignoration let loose the conflict of
legal systems upon Orkney, the Scandinavian Crown, by substituting
primogeniture for Odal succession, had grown so strong as to absorb the
powers and possessions of the Jarls, who had become the mere Lendermen
or Tacksmen of the Royal revenues. The Church, which more than once
nearly overmastered the Scandinavian Crown, was in Orkney its humble
_servus servorum_—more disposed to court its favour by servile
complicity, than to defy its wrath by an uncourtly defence of freedom.
The collective influence of the Thing was no defence—its free councils
and jurisdictions had been undermined by insidious innovation of forms
or terms, or finally uprooted by masterful violence. Successive
generations of Odal subdivision had so reduced the wealth and weight of
the middle class of Peasant Nobles, that it was but a question of time
when the heirs of the most influential Odaller should make an
infinitesimal sub-partition of the last zowsworth of his Odalsjord, and
sink into poverty, without means of independence or self-defence against
oppression or encroachment. Unfortunately, the peculiarities of his
rights long survived his power to defend them, complicating his
relations to his new feudal masters, and adding to his difficulties,
legal and illegal, that of instructing a foreign feudalist to plead his
cause before a foreign judge, whose decisions, forms and language, were
as strange to him as his laws, usages and terms, were barbarous and
uncouth to them. Eloquence was the most popular accomplishment of the
Odaller, and he was wont, as Thingman and Umbothsman, to discuss the
law, and defend the rights of himself and others—but he was overwhelmed
by legal principles which he did not know, in a language which he could
not speak; and he soon found that the vague and customary claims, and
unwritten tenure of his fathers, were no match for the defined rights
and pretensions of the pettiest neighbour possessing by the _litera
scripta_ of a feudal title, still less of the powerful Feudatory
claiming by Royal charters, and aided by the ingenuity of the
professional lawyer, trained and practised in the logic of the schools.
As if to insult the dearest prejudices of the Odaller, every feudal
aggression was held forth as a boon of reform, every change as an
amendment of his barbarous code, every abrogation of a cherished right
as the removal of an antiquated abuse—while the promised improvement was
but a delusion, and the new abuses were more burdensome than the old.

Left to itself therefore, Odalism must have decayed by the natural
development of its germs of self-destruction; but the mere decline of
the abstract principle, or even the impoverishment of the Odaller, were
no object to the Scottish Government, except as tending to its own
enrichment at his cost. To make present and growing profit of the
defects of the Odal title—to drive the possessor into the refuge of a
feudal tenure, and to obviate the Redemption by Scoticizing every law or
custom derived from the mother country, were now the objects of Scottish
policy, and an able agent was found in Bishop William Tulloch, who (27th
August 1472) undertook to collect the Revenues of the Crown for a
Commission of 20 per cent., and a tacit connivance in his unquestioned
appropriation of all “unconsidered trifles,” and in his extra
extortions, “ony maner of way,” beyond his Tack duty of £366, 13s. 4d.
Deeply embued with feudal prejudices, Tulloch affected to see no legal
principle in a code of customs so anti-feudal. Heritage, without
Superior or Vassal, Payment or Service, Charter or Sasine, or any of the
essentials of a valid feudal title, was to him a mere traditionary
usurpation, subversive of lawful order and authority. The Odaller was a
mere squatter, with, at best, a possessory title, liable to arbitrary
exaction limited only by his capacity to pay, and with prescriptive
custom as his only claim to differ from the annual Tenant or triennial
Tacksman. To obliterate all such distinctions, the lands of the Odaller
and Tenant were registered in one indiscriminate Rental, with a studied
confusion of rights Odal paying Skatt—and rights extra-Odal paying
land-male. The Thing-För-Kaup of the Odaller, and Gersomr of the Tenant,
were claimed as the nominal equivalent of the feudal Forcop and
Grassum—Skatt, Wattel, Leidangr, and every Odal tax without a feudal
synonyme, were exacted as a rent—every feudal claim or casualty without
an Odal name or equivalent custom, was imposed and extended to its full
feudal limits—while every Odal customary right of pasture, fishing, or
sea-beach, was limited, taxed or punished as a feudal purpresture. The
whole district was indiscriminately subjected to the prædial and
personal services formerly due by Tenants only, and new burdens of
Hawkhens, Balliatus, and Chettry, were laid on all by the arbitrary
authority of the Bishop, whose powers of excommunication, infamy, and
penal forfeiture, were infinitely enlarged by the rigour of canonical
rules and prohibitions, quite new in a Scandinavian diocese. Neither
could the unfortunate Orkneyan escape from this grinding tyranny by any
appeal. His oppressor ruled the Bishopric as Bishop, and the Earldom as
Tacksman, with regal powers—the Thing was divested of all criminal
jurisdiction—the Lawman was the stipendiary servant of the
Government—the Kirks were filled with Scottish Priests, the creatures of
the Bishop, as rapacious and pitiless as himself—the Odallers,
collectively or individually, were too poor to purchase, and too
powerless to command forbearance, favour, or justice—and what Donatary
was ever able to resist the combined temptations of plunder,
helplessness, and opportunity?

The Tack of Bishop Tulloch lasted for seven years, followed by six of
similarly irresponsible Episcopal rule under Bishop Andrew, the
presentee of John of Denmark and probably a Scandinavian. The
appointment of Henry Lord Sinclair as Tacksman of the Crown-lands in
Orkney (1485) and the recognition of Sir David Sinclair as the Danish
representative and Fowd of Zetland (1491), gave hope of better times.
After the tyranny of strangers, the Orkneyans were prepared to rejoice
in the return of kindred rulers, and Sir David was the son and Lord
Henry the grandson of their last Earl William. With the tastes and
accomplishments, and some of the vices of their time, the Sinclairs were
popular in the Islands, and favourites in the Courts of Denmark and
Scotland. They were in the main, just, humane, and generous, they
exposed unsparingly the rapacity and frauds of their Episcopal
predecessors, relaxed their intolerable imposts upon some of the
districts, redressed much individual injustice, and liberally relieved
the impoverished population. It was probably by their influence that an
Act of the Scottish Parliament (1503) to annul all foreign laws within
the realm, was so altered as to spare the native laws of Orkney and
Zetland. But the sapping process of Scoticizing every Orkneyan
institution, the interchange of names and things, Odal and Feudal,
without real equivalence, went on unchecked if not encouraged by the
Sinclairs. A comparison of their successive Rentals shows little change
in the names, nature, or amount of Odal payments, beyond the occasional
remission of some overcharge, or the record of some new escheat; but
there was a large increase of the total burdens of the country, chiefly
at the cost of the Tenant population. Their rule of half a century was
distinguished by no formal abolition of unjust innovations, no
restoration of Odal liberties and immunities; but by the ceaseless,
silent change of language, forms, and manners, traced perhaps in a
clause or word of some feudal parchment or mouldering Thing-doom.

From the death of Lord Sinclair at Flodden, his widow, Dame Margaret
Hepburn, held the Crown lands in Orkney and Zetland at a rent of £433,
6s. 8d., by successive Tacks for nearly 30 years without interruption,
but not without disturbance. The Odallers knew too well the evils of
alien rule; but a female ruler was a new indignity, and even in the
second year of her widowhood (1515) they had elected as their leader and
virtual Governor, James Sinclair the possessor (though illegitimate) of
most of the wealth of his family, and the inheritor (as a born and bred
Orkneyan) of all its popularity. On the plea of a general devastation by
the English fleet in Orkney and Zetland, they withheld Lady Margaret’s
Rents for three years (1523–5), forced her son Lord William to surrender
her castle of Kirkwall and escape into Caithness (1528), and on his
return next year with an army of Scots, defeated and took him prisoner
at Summerdale (7th June 1529), slew his ally, John Earl of Caithness,
with every man of his followers, beheaded Nicol Hall the Lawman, and
took forcible possession of the Islands. The Scottish invasion,
sanctioned as it was by the King’s Letters of Four Forms, cannot fairly
be attributed to the private ambition of Earl John or his allies. On the
other hand, it is equally improbable that Sinclair, the brother-in-law
of the Queen Dowager of Scotland, would have risked his Court interest
by heading an open rebellion against the King, or that the spirited and
sagacious James V. would have pardoned wilful and violent rebels, or
rewarded their leader with legitimation, lands and knighthood. The
subject is beset with difficulties, but the most probable conclusion is,
that the Orkneyans were deemed excusable in resisting to death a
combination of circumstances so formidable to their independence, as the
King’s reported purpose of giving a Feudal Lord to Odal Orkney, followed
by the alliance of the Donatrix with Earl John, the zealous feudalizer
of his own Earldom. James having asserted his dignity by renewing Lady
Sinclair’s rights and by signing the dreaded but ineffective Feu Charter
to his illegitimate brother, James Earl of Moray (1530–1), gave but one
more feudal Grant, and that was to Sir James Sinclair (1535). This Grant
containing every feudal right, and the first infraction of Odal
succession by a clause of single primogeniture, was perhaps the purchase
of the independence of the Odal leader—begged and accepted with a
selfish inconsistency, mournfully explained by his madness and suicide
within a year. But the King’s sagacity had found the pear not
ripe—Odalism was sick, but not dead—the project was deferred, and no
open attempt was renewed to feudalize the Islands for another

The visit of James V. (August 1540), was the only presence of a King in
Orkney since Hacon IV. came there to die (1263); for the dying Maid of
Norway was brought to its shores (1290), only to find a hasty but more
permanent rest in its Cathedral. Bishop Maxwell entertained the Royal
Guest, not in the ancient Palace which had sheltered the death-bed of
his Northman ancestor, but in the more modern Episcopal residence within
the City of Kirkwall, to which he had lately renewed its Burghal Charter
(8th February 1536), and where he is said to have held a Thing in the
very ancient tenement still dignified as the Parliament Close. He was
not hindered by the courtesies of the Bishop from seeing and correcting
his negligence or avarice, in leaving so many kirks and benefices
vacant, to the obvious increase of his own emoluments; and though there
was now no Sir James Sinclair to instruct or mislead him as to the wants
or wishes of Orkney, the shrewd King of the Commons saw and heard for
himself the value of the Islands—the danger of leaving them to
irresponsible and subaltern oppression—the undue profits of the
Donataries and the loss to his Crown and Revenue. At a time when the
gross Rental of his metropolitan County of Fife was only £1348, 10s., a
province yielding to the Donatary a Rental of £1382, 10s.—to the Bishop
£1251, 2s. 6d., and probably not less to the Odal Proprietors—was a
jewel of his Crown not to be lightly given or thrown away. All Grants or
Tacks of the Revenues and jurisdictions of Orkney and Zetland were
forthwith revoked, and the Islands re-annexed to the Crown _jure
coronæ_, to be henceforth inalienable except by Act of Parliament (10th
December 1540)—an exception and safeguard of Orkneyan liberties, as
specious as the former restriction to the legitimate Blood-Royal, and as
little regarded. Lady Sinclair’s powers were thus rescinded, and in
spite of her protest (10th September 1541), were committed at a fairer
Tack Duty of £2000 to the unfortunate Oliver Sinclair, as one who could
be trusted both by the King and the Islanders (20th April 1541). James
probably designed to carry out this policy of annexation by such
temporary Commissions to Lieutenants and Collectors responsible to
himself. There were many Odal grievances which he could not know, and
much hard injustice which he could not cure; but the public
administration of Orkney would probably have been much amended, had he
lived to give effect to his judicious plans of reform.

It has been shrewdly said, that Scotland possessed “the wisest laws in
Christendom, and the worst administered;” for the best intentions or the
sagest acts of King and Parliament might be frustrated by some flaw of
policy, expediency, or Court favour. Under the weak regency of Arran,
some claim to the Islands was urged by the Queen Dowager, who appointed
as her Lieutenant-Governor, first a Frenchman named Bonot, and
afterwards the Scottish Earl of Huntly. The struggle of the Queen,
Regent, and Cardinal Beaton, for the power to misrule Scotland, was
mimicked on a narrower field by the contests and law-suits between
Bonot, Huntly and Sinclair, for the possession of Orkney, and with
similar results. Government was in abeyance or abandoned to the local
authorities, if the term can be applied where nothing reigned except
disorder. Respites and pardons for murder and violence are for nearly
twenty years almost the sole records of the Islands. Even the regular
collection of the inevitable Rents and revenues of the Crown was so
completely interrupted, that the appointment of Mr. William Mudy as the
Queen’s Chamberlain (10th December 1561) was met as a usurpation, which
nearly cost his life at the hands of a mob of Churchmen and others, who
had been fattening on the arrears and disorder accumulated on the land
for a fearful reckoning under the harsh rule and evil days which were

The learned Bishop, Robert Reid, though he founded a school in his
Cathedral city, and made other attempts to tame his wild Diocese, was
driven to seek safer and easier duties elsewhere as a diplomatist and a
senator of the College of Justice. Adam Bothwell, his successor as
Bishop and as Judge, is only known to have once visited his See, from a
Feu Charter of Westray and Noltland Castle to his brother-in-law,
Gilbert Balfour (30th June 1560), remarkable as the first feudal Grant
since that to Sir James Sinclair, and the first of a series of Feus of
Kirklands, all containing the same insidious infraction of the equal
subdivision of Odal inheritance, in favour of a single eldest heir-male.

The wise policy of James V. to respect the native laws and liberties of
Orkney had been swept away by time; and the conflicting influences and
interests of the Reformation had surrounded his daughter with
Counsellors who thought only of turning to most profit the difficulties
of their Queen and country. Moray, as chief of the Reforming party, had
secured the lion’s share of the spoils of the Crown and Church for
himself and his brother-in-law Argyle, and their influence obtained for
his bastard brother, Lord Robert Stewart, a Feu Charter of the Islands
of Orkney and Zetland (26th May 1565), a gift exactly suited to his
character and capacity, as a sphere of safe and indefinite peculation,
unexposed to political dangers. This memorable grant was the first
express sanction of Tulloch’s policy of identifying the _libere
tenentes_, as the Odallers were styled, with the serf-like Rentaller of
the Scottish Crown, and was essentially as illegal as unjust—illegal,
because neither sanctioned by Parliament nor bestowed on a lawful
Prince, and unjust, because it disposed not only of the ancient Earldom,
Skatts, and actual property of the Crown, but of the Feudal Superiority,
Lands, and Services of the Odallers, which could be neither conveyed by
Norway, acquired by Scotland, nor bestowed upon a subject.

But their fate was still suspended for a little by accident or the
fluctuations of Court interest. The rise of Darnley was the fall of
Moray, and the cupidity of some new courtier searched out the inherent
flaw in Lord Robert’s title. His Government and Sheriffship were
conferred upon Gilbert Balfour of Westray, now Master of the Queen’s
Household (3rd January 1565–6), but subject to the native laws which
were again solemnly recognized by Parliament (6th December 1567), and
Lord Robert was partially consoled for his loss of Orkney by a grant of
the rich temporalities of the Abbey of Holyrood (16th April 1567).

In the same eventful year (12th May 1567) Queen Mary sought to grace her
last fatal nuptials, solemnized by Bishop Adam, with a wedding gift to
James Earl of Bothwell, of the Islands and Dukedom of Orkney—a
shortlived dignity of a month, forgotten in the immortal infamy of his
older title. On his flight from Carberry, he plunged like an angry
meteor from another sphere across his Northern Dukedom, leaving there,
as elsewhere, no traces but of evil. Baffled in Orkney by the opposition
of Balfour, his semi-piratical exactions in Zetland afforded the
precedent for the future annual burden of Ox-money, and he continued his
flight to Norway, chased like a hunted wolf by Bishop Adam, who, in the
new-born zeal of his pursuit of his fallen friend, was wrecked upon the
rock still named from his ship The Unicorn—the monument of his first and
last visit to his Northern Diocese—but the two Bothwells, Earl and
Bishop, have involved local history in a strange Comedy of Errors.

In the meantime, Lord Robert’s feu of Orkney (though not expressly
revoked) was presumed to have fallen by its own inherent nullity, and he
would probably never have resumed the attempt to make it effectual, but
for an opportunity of making it doubly profitable. Bishop Adam was a
Lord of Session, and had left the spiritual duties of his See to the
superintendent, Mr. James Annan, while he contented himself with
receiving its temporalities. By a mutually convenient exchange of these
temporalities for those of the Abbey of Holyrood (30th September 1568),
the Feuar of the Earldom of Orkney became also Commendator of the
Bishopric, with the combined powers of both, strengthened by the
countenance of his brother the Regent. To “stress the Odallers” was
henceforth the unchanging object of Lord Robert, by aggravating their
burdens in Weights and Measures of his own standard, increasing their
liabilities to Crown and Kirk in a Coinage of his own valuation,
multiplying the civil and criminal grounds of escheit and fine by
Enactments of his own, and finally, litigating the very title of the
impoverished Odal before Courts and Judges of his own appointment.

As Feuar of the Earldom, and Commendator of the Bishopric, he exercised
all the powers of an arbitrary landlord, by raising the rents to the
limits of the tenants’ endurance, with aggravations and breaches of the
triennial contract, feelingly detailed in the Complayntis. He oppressed
Churchmen and others into a compulsory surrender of their lands and
rights—suppressed the burghal liberties of Kirkwall and burned its
archives—aggravated the evils of Odal subdivision, by extending the
Sister’s part to a share even of the Head-Bu—abolished the little Odal
mills still traceable on every burn or VATN, and astricted all to his
own mills, with new Scottish burdens. Claiming the whole Commonties,
fisheries and sea-beach, he punished all use of them by native or
Stranger as a trespass—laid heavy Tolls and Customs on the numerous
fleet of Dutch fishermen and the Norwegian traders whose traffic to and
from the Islands interfered with his own monopoly, and found other
illicit profits in the sale of remissions for crimes, permissions for
single combat, and Licenses for exclusive traffic—in secret
encouragement and partnership with pirates, and in prohibiting
assistance to wrecks as an infringement of his pretended droits of
Admiralty. But a richer, if not a wider field for his cupidity, was
offered in the iniquitous grant of superiority over the _libere
tenentes_, and the power of subjecting the Odallers to all the lucrative
claims and casualties of feudal tenure. Every exaction of former Rentals
was enforced, every parish tax became a household or poll tax on each
parishioner, every occasional or special payment (such as Bothwell’s
forced contributions of sheep and oxen) was made an annual burden, every
service ever claimed from a tenant, and many new forms of Scottish
serfage, were laid upon the Odaller without appeal—for by the forfeiture
of Balfour the Sheriff, and gift of his escheit, Lord Robert was again
Sheriff and Foud, with power to call and pack the Lawthings with
creatures of his own, and to use or pervert the Law-book according to
his will or interest. By such pretended decrees, many Odallers were,
like Rendall of Gairsey, evicted without a chance of justice; some were
escheited for murder, theft, witchcraft, suicide, or “moving of a
march-stane,” others by the slower process of burdens or debts
accumulated till the arrear warranted Comprysing by him as creditor, or
Escheit as Superior—new enactments, new offences, new courts and new
fines, enriched the Sheriff and pillaged the Suitors. Not content with
multiplying the forms of exaction, with retrospective enforcement of
half a century of arrears, and compulsory second payment to himself of
sums already accounted for to the Royal Comptroller, he aggravated every
burden by adding a fourth to each standard of measure and weight,
replaced the inconvenient vigilance of the Law-rightmen by Weighers of
his own choice, and cried up or down the tariff and the coinage
according to his interest as buyer or as seller. To guard against appeal
or complaint, he enacted the penalty of death or escheit for crossing
Firth or ferry without his passport; and against any outbreak of native
despair, he was provided with a body of outlaws and broken men, living
at free quarters upon the plundered natives, and knowing no law except
the will of their present paymaster. Sea and land, Tack and teind, Court
and gibbet, Mint and Tron, Firth and Ferry, all were in the hands of the
Donatary. To such a power, supported by the public warrant of the Royal
Charter and the secret evidence of the Rentall, the Odaller had nothing
to oppose except the moral weight of ancient tradition, and a physical
force which had lost more by its divided poverty than it had gained by
increased numbers—and now the very Law-book and Thing of his Odal
fathers were made to doom away his liberties and his lands, in a strange
tongue, at the bidding of the Donatary.

For some years Lord Robert superintended the fleecing of the Islands
from the ancient Episcopal Palace of Kirkwall or from his lodge at
Dynrostness; but as a local habitation for his full-grown greatness, he
created at Birsa, the seat of the old Orkneyan Jarls, a large baronial
domain by special extirpation of the Odallers, and there, by the forced
labours of the natives, “without meat, drink or wages,” he built a
palace after the manner of Falkland, and inscribed it:


His vanity was mimicked at a humble distance by his brother and
villanous instrument, Cultmalindy, in his Zetland Castle of Muness, with
a doggrel motto of equal self-complacency—

              “List ye to knaw this building wha began—
              Laurence the Bruce he was that worthy man,
              Quha ernestlie his ayres and afspring prayis
              To help and not to hurt this wark alwayis.”

The ambition which is the infirmity of the noble, sometimes gives
boldness to the weak. To exchange the dependent and precarious
Possession of the Islands for Sovereignty, and restore in his own family
the ancient Jarldom, protected but not controlled by a nominal
dependence on a weak and distant Suzerain, was a prospect which might
almost have tempted a wiser, and excused a better man; and in 1572, Lord
Robert had made some progress in treason. The chances of success
warranted the risk. He was in possession of the field—besides a
considerable force of soldiers, he was sure of the support of a crowd of
followers and adventurers, dependent for their all on his favour and
success, and might even win the Islanders themselves to a war with
Scotland, by a pledge to restore those native laws and liberties, to the
abrogation of which they traced every grievance. On the other hand, the
Scottish King was an infant of five years old; the Government
precarious; the nation weakened and distracted by civil feuds; the only
power that could be sent against him, some one of the northern nobles,
all of dubious loyalty; and only one generation had passed since Orkney
had defied and defeated the whole available force of Scotland. Denmark
was as willing to countenance as Scotland was weak to oppose his
designs; and Lord Robert had every reason to hope that the revolution
would be effected by pens and treaties, not by swords and battles, if
his secret could be kept within his circle of stormy seas, prohibited
firths and guarded ferries.

But after all his precautions, one postern of his jealous fortress was
open, unguarded, and not commanded by himself. The larger Feudatories of
the Kirklands, Balfour of Munquhany, Bellenden and Mudy, owed him no
allegiance, and resented restrictions and encroachments from which they
suffered as well as the Odallers. It was probably by their influence
that the Articles of Indictment against the public enemy were enabled to
reach the ear of Morton the Regent. Heavy as was this catalogue of
oppressions, and those detailed in the Complaints of Sinclair of Aith
and other Zetlanders, they would probably have failed to rouse the
attention of the Scottish Government, had not Lord Robert’s dangerous
and treasonable practices with Denmark awakened the Regent’s cupidity by
the hopes of a profitable composition, or still more lucrative
confiscation of his grant and plunder. But the criminal was now summoned
to answer for his crimes, and warded in the Castle of Edinburgh, while
by Royal proclamation (31st January 1575–6), the ferries and Firth were
freed from his illegal restrictions; and during that year, a flood of
complaints and evidence from natives and Strangers poured in against
him. A Commission was issued (9th November 1576) to Mudy, the former
Chamberlain of Orkney, and Henderson, one of the King’s Pursuivants, to
examine witnesses on the spot as to his oppressions; and having finished
this portion of their examination during the month of February 1576–7,
they were further commissioned (24th April 1577) to inquire into the
charges of high treason, and it was only under a heavy Bailbond of
£10,000 by Lord Lyndsay, that Lord Robert was (5th August) removed from
the Castle of Edinburgh to a less strait prison in Linlithgow Palace. It
is easier to guess than to trace the secret influences by which he
escaped from such overwhelming evidence of treason and crime. Morton,
his enemy, was tottering to his fall—his friends Argyle and Lyndsay,
were rising into power and favour. On 30th January 1578–9, he was
allowed to revisit Orkney to prepare his defence, under heavy bail to
return for trial on 30th September, but no trial ensued; he probably
compounded for his head with his estate—his bailbond was cancelled by a
Royal Warrant, and the whole parade of Commissions and probations ended
in a temporary suspension of his powers in Orkney, without restitution
or redress to the aggrieved Odallers, who were again abandoned to the
ordinary misrule of the local collectors.

In the meantime, the Crown had given every encouragement to Scottish
settlers in Orkney by large and liberal feus of Kirklands and Earldom
(without any scrupulous reservation of Odal rights which might be
involved in the grants), on a Reddendo of the accumulated burdens
“according to the Rentale,” but often at a commutation temptingly
illusory. On the disgrace of Lord Robert, it seems to have been designed
to lure the Odallers, by similar terms, to accept of feudal confirmation
of their rights; for such a charter was granted to William Sinclair of
the (5th March 1578–9), for the expressed purpose, “_dare inhabitantibus
intra dictas patrias de Orkney et Shetland, bonam occasionem et exemplum
cognoscere et accipere suas securitates de nobis in simili modo_.” But
either the Odallers were jealous of such security—the Court unwilling to
spoil so promising a field of plunder—or Lord Robert had already
exhausted it by his exactions, suits and escheits; for few or none of
the Odal lands were at this time feued according to the Rentale.

On 18th January 1581, we find Lord Robert engaged in the congenial work
of safely insulting a fallen foe, and paying court to a rising
favourite, by assisting to convey the ex-Regent to his prison at
Dumbarton—and on 28th October 1581 he had his reward in a new
confirmation of his former grant of Orkney and Zetland erected into an
Earldom, with all those additional powers of Justiciary, Admiralty, &c.,
which he had been formerly charged with usurping without a warrant, and
(9th June 1585) another confirmation of the transaction with Bishop
Adam. Armed with these despotic powers, he returned to Orkney to
practise the lesson of his late escape, by finding some safer mode of
possessing himself of the Odal lands than the casualties and escheits of
a feudal Superior. In the quaint language of Bishop Graham, “Erle Robert
obteynit a feu of Orkney and Shetland, and yairupone intendit to stres
the Udillaris and augment a rental on these thair landis. He ceasit fra
it and found out ane uthir way to doe his turne. He was abbot of
Halyroodhouse, and Adame Bothwell then Bischope of Orknay. They made ane
excambione, and Erle Robert in these dayis was Bischope _in omnibus_,
and set his Rentale of teynds upon these Vdillandis above the availe,
yea triple above the availe.” As Justiciar he had instituted courts of
Perambulation to examine all titles in the Islands, and reduce all which
seemed feudally defective, including many Odal lands and undocumented
accessories, such as Quoys, Commons, &c., the use of which he punished
as encroachment on the rights of Crown or Mitre, united in himself. As
Bishop _in commendam_, he was titular of all teynds, untrammelled by any
fixed standard of collection, commutation or proportion, and thus he
menaced the harassed Odallers on all sides, till they gave up the
contest in despair. He set or feued the vacant lands to his own
dependents—but cultivation ceased, and the lessened produce warned him
that it was not his interest to pauperize or depopulate the Islands, and
he retraced his steps. Perhaps the change was but the completion of his
scheme for driving the Odallers into feudalism, and giving the sanction
of a new bargain to his multiplied and aggravated exactions. The
Perambulations being no longer useful, were abolished as illegal, and he
made a merit of renouncing the lands and pertinents of every Odaller who
should accept, in confirmation of his right, a feudal grant, paying
therefor all the accumulated burdens of Skatt, teind, &c., according to
the Rentale. So effectually had Earl Robert _stressed_ them, that most
of them accepted such feudal investitures, and the few who adhered to
their Odal tenure, had henceforth neither rights to defend, strength to
resist, nor wealth to tempt cupidity.

But the very profits of such rapacity at once prompted and justified the
resumption of a Grant so valuable and so abused. The Crown’s revenue
from the Orkneys had risen progressively within a century, from Lord
Sinclair’s Tack duty of £366, to Oliver Sinclair’s of £2000, which also
continued to be Lord Robert’s Feu-duty; but the Crown was too poor to
give away such an appanage without a larger share of the profits, and
James VI. on his majority, resolved to add to his revenue by resuming
the Islands, and to his popularity by affecting to commiserate their
misrule. By three Acts of Revocation, Annexation, and Dissolution (29th
July 1587), he annexed the Bishopric to the Crown, resumed the Earldom,
and re-granted it at a Duty of £4000 to his Chancellor Maitland and
Justice-Clerk Bellenden, whom (16th December) he commissioned to inquire
into the oppressions of “Lord Robert Stewart, lait Erle of Orknay.”

The result of their inquiry is not recorded, and it was probably dropped
when it had served its purpose of cloaking the transfer of a lucrative
grant from one courtier to another. There was probably as little
sincerity of motive in the renunciation of it by the new Donataries,
whose character forbids us to believe that they were sufferers from an
honest system of fair dealing with the natives. Probably their two
years’ experiment proved, that such a complex machinery of extortion
could only be kept in working order by the master hand of Lord Robert,
and to him, at a diminished duty of £2075, it was again committed by a
new charter (1st April 1589), renewed to him and his heir (11th March,
1591–2), and ratified by Parliament, to Patrick, Master of Orkney (5th
June) when Earl Robert had passed to his account—a master in the art of
extortion under colour of law.

In a quarter of a century he had raised his revenue from the Crown
estate from £6366, 10s. to £9016, and that of the Bishopric from £4381,
2s. 6d. to £9000, at conversions which doubled the total burden of
Orkney, besides what he could extract from the scatholds, rocks, and
seas of Zetland, and a large income from customs, tolls, wrecks, fines,
grassums, and other sources, which could not safely or conveniently be
entered in the rental. But this enormous increase of revenue bespoke no
improvement of the wealth or resources of the Islands. Their whole legal
burden at the Impignoration had been under £600, and the large balance
of produce was the lawful property of the Odallers or tenants. This
increase of rental, therefore, was but the stealthy transfer of this
balance from the subject to the ruler, even to the point of
confiscation, with a minimum of bare subsistence to the Ryot
cultivator—skatts, males and duties, were aggravated in weight, measure
and value, till the land could no longer produce enough to pay them, and
exorbitant conversions were charged for each deficiency, till the
accumulated debt gave pretext for seizure and eviction. The modern
improver of the waste finds in every furrow the traces of an earlier
tillage and the homes of a dense population; and contemporary rentals
testify, that even while the Donatary was exulting in such universal
appropriation, whole Districts, once tilled and enclosed, had been again
abandoned to the rush, the heather, or the sand flood, overwhelmed by
his new and intolerable burdens.

If any thing could have made more bitter the Orkneyan’s sense of
oppression, it must have been the baseness of the oppressor. Unlike his
brother Moray, whose public aims were lofty, and whose private life was
decorous, Earl Robert crawled and wriggled through desperate mazes of
legal difficulty, and through political storms which swept away
contemporaries more daring or less cowardly—his highest aim to steal
estates for his bastards, his boldest achievement to _stress_ an
Odaller. Both Earls were reputed sons of James V., but Moray’s mother
was the dark proud lady of Lochleven—the dam of Lord Robert, after his
birth, found a fitting mate in the Guidman of Cultmalindy, and in their
son, Lawrence Bruce, we find the worthy brother and accomplice of Earl
Robert, and with poetical justice, the victim of his successor. The
structure of his fortunes, reared by the Earl—wrong upon wrong, iniquity
upon iniquity—out of the ruins of hundreds, in twenty years of cool,
cautious, calculating system, was overthrown as speedily by the
spendthrift folly of a son worthy of such a father, the heir of all his
vices, with superadded contrasts of his own—crafty but headstrong—mean
but vain—rapacious but extravagant—luxurious but cruel to ferocity—an
unjust judge, an imperious ruler, and a traitorous subject—a faithless
husband and a heartless parent; but relieving the darkness of his
father’s memory by the deeper detestation of his own.

Earl Patrick succeeded to a fair inheritance, however heavily the
malison of a plundered people might lie upon his father’s soul. Within
the bounds of Orkney and Zetland the King was a name and not a power. As
Justiciar and Admiral, Donatary of the Crown Duties, Skatts, Males, and
Grassums, Tolls and Customs, Feuar of the Earldom, and Commendator of
the Bishopric, the Earl was master of all by land or sea. To an income
of about £56,000 (equal to the Royal Pension which nearly provoked a war
between James of Scotland and the stingy vixen of England), he added the
jointure of a wealthy bride, the widow of Sir Lewis Bellenden, his
father’s enemy; but all was not sufficient for his expenditure. His new
palace in Kirkwall, and Castle at Scalloway, were reared by the same
cheap oppression as his father’s residences of Birsa and Dunrossness;
but the lavish maintenance of four such establishments, his life of
riot, his retinue, body guard and trumpeters, and other affectations of
Sovereign state—his petty suits and petty wars, with damages and loss in
both, and his desperate struggles to support or redeem his credit at the
Scottish Court, plunged him into debts and difficulties inextricable
unless he could find another fortune where his father had found it.
There was not much to glean after the sweeping harvest of Earl Robert;
but if necessity could invent few new forms of exaction, it could
augment the old. His favourite adviser Harry Colville, the titular
Parson of Orphir, had been hunted by wild justice to a savage death on
the Noup of Nesting (1596), but the obsequious ingenuity of Dishington,
the Sheriff and Commissary, might suggest new bargains of convenient
dubiety, or discover some flaw or overlooked advantage in bygone
transactions. Higher land males and grassums were demanded from tenants
and tacksmen—Teinds were arbitrarily raised, or so collected, that all
were glad to compound or redeem at his own terms—Burdens already
commuted and paid under the general name of Feu-duties, were reimposed
and superadded to the amount of composition—Owners of Odal lands had
incurred non-entry or purpresture—the native Odaller, in unwitting
ignorance of casualties whose very names were new to him—Scottish
purchasers, like Lawrence Bruce and his co-Supplicants, in blind trust
of the Odal immunities which he had assisted to annul. The Earl
threatened both with fines or confiscation; and if we smile to find
Lawrence Bruce, in the disguise of an Odaller, pleading for Odal rights,
in total ignorance of Odal terms or traditions, and complaining of
falsehood, meanness, and tyranny so like his own, we can neither wonder
nor regret that such a representation did not avert the fate which he
deprecated. By a stringent exercise of his powers under the new
ratification by Parliament (5th June 1592), the Earl brought into his
mercy the Odallers, real and pretended; but fearing the consequences to
himself of excessive depopulation, he consented to suspend the dreaded
casualties, and renew the tenures by a mutual recognition as Superior
and Vassal. _The Uthell Buik of Orkney_ (16th March 1601–2) records
every Odal land as “feuit to the Udallers paying their Scatts and
Dewties according to the Rentale, with dew service usit and wount”—and
how profitable these new bargains were to the Earl’s revenue, is shown
by the important “Rentale pro Rege et Episcopo,” compiled about this
time by Dishington.

By the subserviency of the Sheriff and his subordinate staff of Things
(no longer composed of Odallers, but of Servants and Tenants), and by
the abuse or perversion of the Law Book, the Justiciar had no difficulty
in multiplying enactments, penalties and convictions for the most
trivial causes or impossible crimes. If evidence was insufficient, and
bodily torture had failed, confession was extorted by the agonies of the
victim’s dearest objects of affection, and the judicial murder was
consummated by gibbet, fire or water, on Thieves holm, or before the
window of the Earl’s hall. Confiscation for his benefit was the object
and consequence of every such conviction, and the Law Book when it had
served, and could no longer serve his purpose, disappeared for ever. His
droits and jurisdiction as Admiral were made equally profitable by means
equally nefarious. As Patron he appropriated all vacant benefices, or
sold them to his dependents, and as Lord Paramount, he claimed the sole
disposal of the commons, harbours, ferries and fisheries, even in the
ocean, and every other right not feudally secured.

But by his assumption of a more than kingly prerogative of arbitrary and
general Taxation, to the extent of 20,000 marks in 1594, and £40,000 in
1595–6, and by the addition of a third to every Standard of weight and
measure, and consequently to every Teind and Duty, he touched the
interests, and roused the active opposition of a class less patient and
more powerful than the Odaller, whom he had learned to coerce or crush
at pleasure—the larger Feuars of the Kirk lands, the old opponents of
his father. Confident in their Island strongholds and in their Crown
Charters, titulars of their own Teinds, with independent jurisdictions
and other rights as well defined as his own, and less precarious, they
opposed his usurpations, defied his power, retorted his injuries, and
even protected his victims. One after another he had long waged against
them a desultory war of law and violence. For the siege and capture of
Noltland Castle, and imprisonment of the Laird of Monquhannie (1592),
the Court of Session had punished him with escheit and heavy damages;
and in defiance of his edicts against suing in any Court beyond the
bounds of Orkney and Zetland, Mudy of Breckness, Bellenden of Evie, the
Goodman of Eday, and even his own brothers, had carried to the Supreme
Court similar complaints with similar results; and the Earl could only
vent his rage upon the servants who had convoyed their masters beyond
reach of his jurisdiction.

He had, however, influence to obtain another renewal of his grant (1st
March 1601), with powers and rights even more extensive, and in spite of
unanswerable evidence, Court favour had quashed at least one alarming
Bill of Indictment against him (1606). But even the unjust Judges of
Scotland were at last wearied by the continual coming of Complainers of
every kind, nation and degree, and at this crisis of his fate, he
provoked another powerful enemy to join in the combined attack which
ended in his ruin.

Earl Patrick had enjoyed the temporalities of the Bishopric for many
years undisturbed, but the appointment of James Law to the long vacant
See (28th February 1605–6), alarmed him for his possession, and he
hastened to secure it by new contracts with the Bishop, sanctioned by
the King as a temporary arrangement till he should redeem the Bishopric
by a rental of £3000 in England (17th November 1606). The Earl had never
shown much regard to an obligation, and now overwhelmed with debts, and
pressed by Creditors, he was unable, if willing, to fulfil his contract.
By unpunctuality, evasion, and insolent refusals, he drove the Bishop to
throw his great talents and commanding influence into the common cause
of his many enemies, and Law’s rank and character necessarily placed him
at their head. Even the Anglo-Scottish Court of James VI. could not
resist the Bishop’s just claims, well supported charges, and
representations of treason, misrule and inhuman oppression, and on 27th
December 1608, Earl Patrick was summoned to Edinburgh, to compear on 2nd
March “to answer to the Complaintis of the puir distressed people of
Orknay.” It is possible that Bishop Law was sincere in his sympathy for
the Earl’s victims; but his Rental of 1614 is as grasping as the worst
of its predecessors, and his own day of unlimited power was marked by no
redress or relaxation of the bonds of iniquity.

Earl Patrick’s subsequent fate, his long imprisonment, his base
repudiation of the son who had risked and lost life and all to serve and
save him, and his trials and execution for treason as a subject, not for
tyranny as a ruler, have been too amply illustrated elsewhere to need
notice here. The consequent forfeiture of the Earldom and annexation of
all the lands and rights in the Islands—the excambion and redistribution
of Orkney and Zetland into Earldom, Bishopric and Lordship, and the
final abrogation of the native laws—might give interest to this Sketch,
but would extend beyond its limits of time or subject. The demands of
Denmark, and evasions of Scotland, relative to the redemption and
restitution of the Islands, would also be a curious and cognate inquiry,
which, with many others of this unexhausted theme, must be left for a
future time and another hand. Each subsequent century has had its
characteristic type of oppressors, wrongs and victims, feudal, fiscal or
judicial. By no course of action, resistance or submission, could the
Islanders escape from legalized extortion. They gave Montrose 2000 men
and £40,000, and the Commonwealth exacted 300 Horse and £60,000 (1650).
Again, they raised another Regiment and Contribution for Charles II.
(1651); and he rewarded their loyalty and their sufferings by a further
exaction of £182,000, in 1662, and then surrendered the Islands to the
tender mercies of the Earl of Morton, the worst King Stork of all the

Could Britain prove the abandonment of one exaction, the redress of one
oppression, the restitution of one item of official plunder, she might
treat the complaints of Orkney and Zetland as bygone and antiquated
grievances. But she still enforces every exaction of Tulloch or the
Stewarts by a Standard even higher and heavier than theirs—still imposes
the double burden of British Cess and Norwegian Skatt with aggravations
unknown in Norway—still extorts the last farthing of her claims, just or
unjust, and pays her debts by a bankrupt’s composition, compelling a
discharge in full—and still appropriates the usurped Church property of
Orkney to secular and English uses, transferring its burdens to the
other Heritors, and claiming for its last relics the inapplicable
immunities of English Crown prerogative, first applied by the democratic
Government of Cromwell. The Islands are still robbed of their native
Laws, Things, and Jurisdictions, and subjected to foreign codes and
courts—while Zetland has of late been mocked with a fractional voice in
the British Parliament at the expense of the already nominal
representation of Orkney. While Britain parades her maternal care and
lavish liberality even to her distant dependencies, Orkney has been
neglected by every public officer except the Tax-gatherer. Unaided by
one penny of that public money which has enriched other Counties more
fortunate or more favoured, Orkney has been left to struggle alone
against its many difficulties, fiscal and physical. Twice has its right
to the income of its own State Property been officially recognized; once
by a Lease from George III., in trust for its public improvements (27th
July 1775), and again by a Treasury Warrant for the same purpose, from
George IV. (3rd March 1825)—but the first was diverted to the sole use
of the Lessee; and the second was evaded by a shuffle of Government
Offices, and repudiated on the lawyerly quibble that the British
Commissioners of Woods and Forests are not bound by the obligations of
the Scottish Exchequer. Instead of due protection in return for the
taxation and duty of subjects, a County which contributed 5000 seamen to
the British Navy, was denied one Gunboat to guard its own shores and
harbours from the repeated insolence of privateers.

Conscious that Orkney was but a pawn which might some day be redeemed by
the rightful owner, Scotland, like a temporary tenant, scourged the
precarious holding with unfair cropping and stinted outlay; and Britain,
her assignee, discovering its capacity to produce and to endure, has
followed the same profitable precedent of chronic hard usage. Unthrifty
greed has loaded the Land with unjust burdens and undue taxation, has
impoverished the Owners with unexpected claims and vexatious lawsuits,
has often forced back the cultivated acres into wilderness and driven
the cultivator to strive in freer lands for leave to live. But no
misrule has yet exhausted the fertility of the soil, or crushed the
energy, or worn out the patience of a people still struggling against an
evil destiny, but still amenable as ever even to the semblance of lawful
authority. Even though Scotland may have reduced Orkney to “the skeleton
of a departed country,” Britain has still found profit in gnawing the

                       ARTICLES AND INFORMATIONS

                                 BY THE



                          LORD ROBERT STUART.

                           DECEMBER M.D.LXXV.


FOLLOWS certain Articles and Informations of the wrangus usurpation of
the King’s Majesty’s authority, and oppression committed by Lord Robert
Stuart, fewar of Orkney and Zetland, as after follows—the whilk we take
in hand to prove, whilk haill points and articles concernis the King’s
Majestie in speciale.

In the first, the said Lord Robert, considering the manifest tyranny,
wrangis and oppression done by him, his deputes and servitors, of his
causing, upon the poor Inhabitants of Orkney and Zetland, and fearing
sometimes God’s judgements and just punishments to be poured upon him by
means of some righteous Regent of this realm, when it pleased God to
send quietness within the same. For subterfuge, and to avoid punishment
for his offence therefore, the said Lord Robert treasonably directed his
Maister Household, Gawin Elphingstone, and Henry Sinclair his
Chalmerchyld to the King of Denmark, with express commission under his
Great Seal and hand writt, to render to the King the supremacy and
dominion of the countreis of Orkney and Zetland, as free as they were of
auld annexed to the Crown of Denmark, and that upon sic condition as in
the said Commission was contained, whilk was done in the year of God
1572. According to the whilk the said Gawin passed to the King of
Denmark, and by virtue of his commission foresaid, obtained to the said
Lord Robert the said King’s confirmation and gift of the saids
countreis, and send the same to him thereafter with Hans Corsmay,
Bremer, enclosed in a bolt of Holland clayth, and als send ane Lawrence
Carnes to be Lawman, according to the said King’s direction.

2. Be inbringing of new laws and consuetudes, forgit of the laws of
Norway, never received of before in Orkney, and abrogation of the auld
laws and statutes of the realm, viz.—as in inbringing of Lawrence
Carnes, Lawman directed by the King of Denmark at the said Lord Robert’s
earnest sute, of abrogating of the laws as said is, but license of our
Sovereign Lord and his Majesty’s Regent; In making ane law in swyne
roitting, whilk will extend to the sum of fifteen hundreth dollars in
ane year, taen up in Zetland, bye Orkney; ane other law, that the
sisters should not be lowsed of their heid bull, with divers others; as
is notoriously known, whilk cannot be denied.

3. Be uptaking of the King’s Majesty’s customs, tolls, and victual of
Zetland but commission, and not contained in his infeftment, whilk now
extend yearly to five hundreth angels, whilk we tak to prove.

4. In compelling the Doggar boats and other fishers of this realm to pay
to him great toll and taxis bye auld use and wont, to wit, ilk boat ane
angel noble, ane hundreth fish, and twa bolls salt.

5. In usurping the office of Admiralty, in apprehending, imprisoning,
adjudging, iustefeing of alleged pirates, and uptaking of their escheat
goods, and sitting upon all seafaring actions: As he did in ships taken
by his household men and feallis, viz.—Patrick Blackattir, Mr. John
Hume, Edward Blackattir, Matthew Aikman, David Willie, James Corsby,
David Cathcart, Henry Balfoure, Robert Stevenson, with others divers,
pirates of Englishmen, to the number of nine great ships, laden with
precious gear, which will extend mair then ane hundreth thousand punds,
with twa English ships taken in Zetland—the ane of them keepit as yet to
his awn commodity, the other, after she was spuilzeit of her haile
goods, gear, and artaillerie, randerit again to the pirates,
notwithstanding they were condemned as common pirates; as is notoriously
known, and shall be proven.

6. Be partaking with the pirates, in furnishing and reking them to the
sea in piracy, with men, vituals, amunition, and receiving and
maintaining of their goods and gear reft in the piracy, and giving his
bond of maintenance to the maist part of the persons above written, sic
as Mr. John Hume, James Corsby, Edward Blackattir, Manis Moodie, with
others divers, whilk is notoriously known to the haill country, and
shall be proven and cannot be denied.

7. In taking of the King’s Officers of Arms and others, executors of his
Majesty’s letters and charges, in taking and putting of them in prison
and captivity, as he did to William Cuningham.

8. Be compelling of our Sovereign Lords free lieges to depart furth of
the country where they were borne, and dwell for the present in
banishment, but ony order of law, as he did to Mr. William Moodie, Manis
Moodie, Johne Gifford, Walter Spence, Ola Sinclair of Brow and his
bairns, William Sinclair of Voster, with many other divers, whilk cannot
be denied.

9. Be directing of precepts, charges, and proclamations absolutely in
his own name against the King’s Lieges, and giving sentences absolutely,
but trial or judicial cognition preceding, and usurping of ane princely
power in that behalf, and in all other his adois; and in special, where
he alleges himself to be as free Lord and Heritor of Orkney and Zetland
as the King of Scotland is in his own realm, or the Queen of England, or
the King of France in France, and maks his vante, that in case he be put
at by the King’s Majesty’s authority, to give the haill countrys into
the King of Denmark’s hands, whilk cannot be denied.

10. In oppressing the King’s Lieges of Orkney and Zetland, in compelling
them, by all order or law, to mak him and his haill household, to the
number of six or seven score, bankettis and great cheer on their awin
expenses, to the great hurt and wrack of the country be way of sorning
and oppression; as is notoriously known, and sall be preven with the
haill country.

11. Be making and setting of new takkis and gersswmes to the poor
lieges, and compelling them to pay to him great soums of money, far by
the auld order of the country, whilk will and sall wraik the haill
commons, gif sooner remeed be not put thereto.

12. In compelling the native men of the country to discharge and
quitclaim their heretage and possession, to eschew his tyranny; as he
did to Margaret Sinclair, Mr. Magnus Halcra, Oliver Sinclair of
Estaquhy, William Sinclair of Garsettar, Margaret Reid of Burgh, Hugh
Sinclair of Strolme with others divers, whilk cannot be denied.

13. In appropriating the common muires and pastures of Orkney, common of
before to the haill country, to himself in property, whereby he means to
oppress the country, and be way of purpresioun to escheat the haile
vuthall lands, as shall be pruven.

14. In disponing of benefices of the country, vacant at the King’s
Majesty’s gift, to sic as he pleases, be his privy gift and provision,
as he did in disponing the vicarage of Sanct Ola, the vicarage of Holm,
Vnst, Scatsta, Nesting, Waus, with others divers.

15. In stopping the burgesses of Kirkwall, being the King’s free
borough, to be free under all liberties, and to buy skin, hyde, butter,
oil, and sic wares in the country but his leave, and in making all sic
as he pleases to be free to use merchandise but the priviledge of the

16. In compelling beneficit men to sett their benefices to him,
otherwise leave the country, and in leding their teindis and taking up
their leving gif they withstand his desire, as he did to Mr. Alex^r
Thomson, be striken of him be William Hwme, suldart, after he come out
of the pulpit, Mr. James Maxwell, and other divers.

17. In usurping the office of Justicary but commission, he being but ane
simple Sheriff, in judging of persons of auld crimes, as theft,
slaughter, oppression, sic as he did William Wishart, being dead ane
year afore his entres, comdempnit him in effigy, and confiscat his haill
goods and gear, as it is notoriously known to the haill country of
Zetland, like as he did with divers, whilk sall be proven.

18. In uptaking of the wrak and waithe of the haill country of Orkney
and Zetland, but commission, not being contained in his infeftment,
whilk will extend sen his entres to better nor 10,000 merks, whilk sall
be proven.

19. In making of new acts and statutes be his awn authority, that nane
suld bring hame boittis to Zetland, nor sell them but according to his
act, whilk failzing, to be in my Lord’s will; and be reason that some of
the countrymen had broken the foresaid act, as he alleged, took fra thir
persons after following, xxiiii^{xx} of dollars, viz.—Jacob Tait,
Barthill Strang, David Scott, John Vides, Henry Spence, Peter Nisbet.

20. In alteration and changing of the auld weigh of the bismyre and
pondlar of Orkney, be making the same the fifth part mair nor it was of
before, to the utter wreck of the commonwealth of the country; as is
noterlie knawin by the haill countrie (except the beir pondler), whilk
sall be proven.

21. Be taking and pursuing the King’s free lieges furth of their awne
houses, under silence of night, and putting of their persons in prison,
beside despoliation of their haill goods and gear, as he did to William
Hacra, John Gifford, Mr. William Mowdie, Maniss Mowdie, Mr. Thomas
Beanston, John Alexander, Baillie of Stirling, Edward Sinclair of Eda,
with divers others.

22. In usurpation of our Sovereign Lord’s authority, be pardoning,
remitting, and forgiving of condempnit and convict persons, for recent
slaughter, theft, piracy, and sic capital crimes, as he did to John
Sutherland, —— Strachan, John Millar, John Murray in Zetland, Thomas
Boyane, wha slew ane Patrick Windren in my Lord’s awn presence, now at
his last being at Zetland, the said Thomas being taken and keepit
prisoner the space of six vulkis, was put to liberty, and sent to
Noroway; and sic like for theft, Alexander Sinclair in Stromness,
William Clowstne, with others divers; for piracy, Mr. John Hwme, James
Corsby, Alexir M^cCullach, Alexir Murray, with many others pardoned for

23. Be imprisoning and warding of our Sovereign Lord’s lieges within the
Castle of Kirkwell and Zairdis, but occasion or capital crime impute to
them, or trial had in their demerits, proceeding as he did to Mr.
William Moodie, Mr. Magnus Halcra, John Broun, John Jefert, James Bruce,
Alexir Bruce, William Grote, Hutcheoun Cromarty, with many divers
others, whilk cannot be denied.

24. In stopping of all ferries of the country to transport sic as he
pleased to stop, and be commanding, be ane proclamation, that nane suld
be suffirt to pass but his letter of licence and passport, in sic sort,
that neither marcheand nor countryman might pass or repass in Orkney and
Zetland but his licence and writ obtained be moyen or bribes. This Act
is keepit to this hour, that no complainers may resort to thay partes.

25. In making of ane law and statute, that no man shall come out of the
country of Orkney and Zetland to complain upon any wrang or oppression
done in judgement, or without, under the pains of escheating of the
haill lands, life, and goods, whilk shall be pruven.

26. In compelling the countrymen to pay to him their males, grassums,
and rests, whilk the Comptroller had received from them in the King’s
Majesty’s and his dearest Mother’s name, as Ola Sinclair and mony
others, as the country will testify.

27. In using of process of forefaultor upon deid men for capital crimes,
and in escheating their lands and goods after their decease, as he were
King, be way of forfeiture, as he did to Sir James Sinclair of Sandey,
Knicht, William Wischart in Zetland, Sir David Sinclair in Zetland, and
sua usurps to him the King’s Majesty’s authority in all forfeiture and
escheats of lands and goods.

28. In inbringing of Hieland men and broken men in the country of
Orkney, whilks were auld enemies and oppressors of the people of before,
and causing them to sorn, oppress, and spuilzie the country, specially
the Isle of Gramsay, and be stopping of countrymen to pursue them and
put them af the land, alleging they were his own men and fealls, as will
be pruven by the countrymen, whilk cannot be denied.

29. Be giving licence to men to fight singular combats, as he did to ane
Ninian Dowgall and Alex^r Bewemon, George Wallace and William Cullen,
Nichol Sinclair and Stevin ——, Gawin Elphingstone and Patrick Clark.

30. Be compelling the assizemen of the country to fyle and clenge
persons accused, at his pleasure; and gif they refused, be inputting of
his awn household and domestic servants, and suldarts, upon their
assize, and so condempnit innocent men at his private malice and desire,
as he did to William Grhame, William Toddrick, William Aires, James

31. In compelling the countrymen of Zetland to pay great composition for
the alleged resset of Matthew Sinclair, not being at the horne, attour
the soume of V^c dollars, viz.—Fra Robert Wishart, Walter Hill, Manis
M’Rechie, Ola Cumla, Magnus Reid.

32. In taking away suckin fra the auld vuthal mills of Orkney, whilk
were observit of before inviolate.

33. Be pronounciation of wrangus and false judgement and sentences
against the King’s Majesty’s lieges of the said country, and causing his
deputes thereafter to reduce and retreat the same, as he did to Andrew
Mowat, Mr. Robert Cheyene, and Andrew Hawick of Skatsta, and divers
others, and be the receiving fra the said Andrew Mowat sewen score of
angel nobles and ane chene of gold worth xl angels, and from Mr. Robert
Cheyne and Andrew Hawick ane hundreth angels, and that by the way of
brybrie for corrupting of justice.

As to the special points of oppression, reif, and spuilzie, eviction,
and sic wrangus dealings committed be the said Lord, by order of law,
against the Lieges and Inhabitants of the said countries, because the
same concerns divers persons in particular, and not doubting but they
will complain when as it shall please the Regent’s Grace to give them
place and free passing out of Orkney and Zetland be sea and land. But
the number of their complaints and        sall be very large, odious,
and fearful to be read, that sic tyranny and oppression suld be used
within any country. Reserving therefore the particulars thereof to be
declared at length by the saids persons heavily oppressed, when it sall
please the Regent’s Grace, be himself or his Commissioners, to tak trial
and inquisition in their behalf.

Item, the said Lord Robert, continuand in usurpation of the King’s
Majesty’s authority, and using baith of the charges of Admirality and
Justiciary, caused ane Court to be holden at Skalloway Banks in Zetland,
the        day of June 1574, and in the same gart call afore him Gilbert
M^cReich, David Leslie, James Leslie, Normand Leslie, brether, and
Robert Rotter, where they were accused and convict to the death in the
said Court for the spoliation of ane ship of Endein, lying in the King’s
waters within Zetland, in the parochine of Nesting, being driven in be
storm of wedder for life and death, whilk ship the foresaids persons
burdit under silence of night, and took furth of her 2000 Spanze ryallis
or thereby, with ane dozen boltis of Holland clayth, and her haill tows,
anchors, and sails, putten the same men and ship to the sea in a great
storm of wedder, of whom never word was gotten thereafter; and thir
persons above written being convicted of this cruel deed, the said Lord
pardoned them after they were holden twa hours at the gallows foot, and
ane tow about their neck, and received fra the said Gilbert M^cReich
therefore I^m of the said ryallis, and seven boltis of the said Holland
claith. Witnesses, Jn. Hamilton, Arthur Sinclair, Hugh Gordon, William
Halcrow, Henry Sinclair.

Item, the said Lord has raised the meal of fleshe to x θ. where it was
but iii ss. at his entries to Orkney, to the wrack of the haill country.

xvi December 1575.

                          (Signature effaced.)

                            THE COMPLAYNTIS

                                 OF THE



                      PROBATIOUNIS LED THAIRUPOUN.

                          FEBRUARY M.D.LXXVI.


AND First, The Generale Complayntis mentionat in thair commissioun, and
contenit in the Bill producit and giffen in be Arthour Sinclair of Ayth
befoir the Regentis Grace and Lordis of the Secreit Counsale contrair
LAURENCE BRUCE of Cultemalindie, Fowde of Zetland presentlie.

And Secundlie, Vther Complayntis, Generale and Particulare, not contenit
in the said Bill, bot presentit to the saidis Commissionaris at thair
cummyng in the cuntrie at thair seuerale Courtis as eftir followis—

      Regentis Grace and Secreit Counsale, be Arthour Sinclair of Ayth,
      heir eftir followis—

That quhair that eftir the cummyng of LORD ROBERT STEWART, fewar of
Orknay and Zetland, to the dominioun of the saidis cuntries, LAURENCE
BRUCE of Cultemalindie obtenit of him the office of Fowdrie of Zetland;
and schortlie eftir the said Laurence enterit to the possessioun of the
said office, he himselff, his servandis and complices in his name, of
his causing vsit sic diuers wrangis and extortiounis vpon ws contrair
the lawis and auld custome of the said Cuntrie: And specialie it was the
auld vse and custome of Zetland observit in all tymis bygane, that thair
was ane discreit man of ilk paroche, by the rest, callit The
Lawrichtman, quha mesurit oure dewitie, callit Wadmell, and weyit our
dewitie of buttir; and now the said Laurence hes causit ane of his awin
chesing to do the samyn contrair our lawis, to our grit hurt, Insamekle
that the said Laurence hes continualie sen his entrie, quhilk was in the
moneth of Maij or thairby, the zeir of God I^m v^c lxxj zeiris, vptaking
our landmale and dewitie, callit Wadmaill, with ane wrang mesour; swa
that for ilk thrie scoir cuttell quhilk we aught to have payit, he hes
compellit ws to pay ffour scoir cuttell wadmell, and swa hes augmentit
ws the fourt pairt of our dewitie.

  The Ferd and Fyft dayis of Februar _respective_, 1576, the
      Inhabitantis and Parochinaris of Tingwale, Quhytnes, and Weisdale,
      was ressauit, sworne, admittit, and examinit vpoun the Article
      aboue specifiit, quhais names followis—

                  Henrie Halcro, Vnder Fowde
                  Henrie Halcro, Officiar
                  Huchoun of Brankishammersland
                  Johannes of Brankishammersland
                  Thomas of Girdilsta
                  Erasmus of Watbustar
                  Laurence of Hammersland
                  John of Hammersland
                  Thomas of Wathsettar
                  Jacob of Linksettar
                  Magnus of Linksettar
                  Nichole of Balzesta
                  Gilbert Thomassoun
                  Nichole of Hammersland
                  John Twait of Hammersland
                  Thomas of Laxfirthe
                  Nichole of South Laxfirth
                  Jacob Tait
                  Williame Tait
                  James Leslie
                  John Gudlat
                  John Bondissoun
                  Olaw Bondissoun
                  Stephanus of Kebustar
                  Walter of Strand
                  Nichole Gudlait
                  Thomas Gudlait
                  Erasmus of Got
                  Laurence of Got
                  John Sclaitter in Got
                  Magnus Halcro
                  Malcolme Halcro
                  Robert of Weisgarth
                  Nichole of Lie
                  Magnus of Lie
                  Laurence of Daill
                  Erasmus of Daill
                  Nichole of Daill
                  Olaw of Fiche
                  Eirick in Ansta
                  John Andersoun in Vennerbrek
                  Nichole Ramsaye
                  Nichole Benedickssone
                  James of Scalloway
                  Magnus of Scalloway
                  John Hubert
                  John Michell
                  Robert Wilsoun
                  John Ross
                  David Thomsoun
                  Williame of Berrie
                  Johne Vmphra
                  Johne of Berrie
                  Nichole of Burwik
                  Nichole Thomassoun
                  Nichole Smyth
                  Thomas Yrrewing
                  Johne Lummisdaine
                  Erasmus of Garth
                  Cast Erasmussoun
                  Thomas in Northsettare
                  Magnus Peirsoun of Vstenes
                  Paule Magnussoun
                  Johne Hammer
                  Magnus of Howane
                  Nichole of Mayneland
                  Olaw Smyth of Brek
                  Nichole of Brek
                  Magnus of How
                  Thomas Marteinsoun
                  Johannes of How
                  Magnus Olawsoun in How
                  Robert Petirsoun in How
                  Magnus Tate now in Olagarth
                  Nichole in Browaland
                  Nichole in Eistthouss
                  Magnus Nichole in Stromness
                  Magnus Magnussoun in Wormadaill
                  Magnus Androissoun in Hugrasta
                  Magnus Nichole in Hugrasta
                  Stephin Zowtsoun in Dessabrek
                  James Sinclair in Cova
                  Martein in Huchsettar
                  Nichole of Cot
                  Magnus of Cot
                  Erasmus of Sound
                  Magnus of Sound
                  Magnus of Helliabuster
                  Andro of Helliabuster
                  Nichole of Helliabuster
                  Johne Benedicsoun of Stenswall
                  Magnus Mandeissoun of Tuslavoll
                  Ereik Magnussoun in Scarpagarth
                  David Huip in Wastoiff
                  Laurence Smyth in Hamragarth
                  Johne Magnussoun thair
                  Olaw in Housto in Weisdaile
                  Sowart in How
                  Magnus Guthreissoun in How
                  Olaw Magnussoun in How
                  Thomas Jacobsoun in Toft
                  Benedick in Overbustare
                  Thomas Benedickssoun in Overbustare
                  Olaw Jacobsoun in Overbustare
                  Magnus Paulsoun in Setir
                  Boun in Kirkgar
                  John Thomassoun in Kirgar
                  Laurence Johnsoun in Kirgar
                  Jacob of Scarrane
                  Magnus of Scarrane

Quhilk persounis, examinit upoun the Article foirsaid, deponis as eftir
followis all in ane voce, That thair hes not bein ane Lawrichtman in
thair parochin of Quhytnes, Tingwell, and Weisdale, sen the Laird of
Cultemalindeis last entres, quhilk was in the zeir of God I^m v^c lx
twelff zeiris; quhilk Lawrichtman of auld vse and consuetude was ane
necessar officiar in everie seuerale yle and paroche of the cuntrie,
chosin with the commoun consent and electioun of the Fowde and Commownis
to keip and giff attendence to the lawful and just cuttell; quhilk is
thair mesour or elwand quhairwith thai mett thair clayth, callit
Wadmell, quhilk is ane dewitie thai pay to the Kingis Maiestie for thair
scat and landmales zeirlie. And siclyk to keip the just wecht callit the
Bismeir, quhairupoun thair haill buttir, bayth of scat and landmales was
weyit, togidder with ane just Can quhairwith thai mesourit thair vlie
payit in scat to the King. With the quhilks cuttell, bismeir, and can,
the said Lawrichtman mesurit, met, and weyit the saidis dewiteis of
butter, wadmell, and vle fra the Commownis, and delyuerit the saimen to
the Fowdis, swa that bayth the Fowde and Commownis gat just mesour and
wecht without hurt, fraude, or gyle. And mairattour, it was ane pairt of
his office, as ane speciale man chosin for his discretioun and jugement,
to be Chancellar of the assyiss in all courtis, that quhair ony
difficill questioun come in hand, he schew the law, vse, and practik
thairupoun, and gaif the rest of the assyiss informatioun how to
decerne, and pronouncit the decreits, perqueyre, in defalt of scrybis;
and had ane ordinar stipende of the Commownis thairfoir, and was as ane
procuratour and defendar of thair richtis and commownwelth. And sensyne
thai haue had na Lawrichtman bot men of the Lairdis awin inputting to
vse the said office, quha with new cuttellis, bismeiris, and cannis maid
by the just met, mesour, and wecht, vsit of befoir, be the Lairdis
command and causing, hes hurt the Commownis grittumlie. And nocht onlie
be the saidis wrangus wechtis, mettis, and mesouris, bot alswa be the
handis that weyit and mesurit the saimen, and in speciale maist be the
hand, swa that of everie pact of wadmell, quhilk contenis thre scoir of
cuttellis, he tuik fra thame mair nor the just ten cuttellis, swa that
quhair he suld haue had bot thre scoir of cuttellis, he tuik fra thame
three scoir ten cuttellis.

  The Aught day of Februar, the zeir and place foirsaid, the
      Inhabitantis and Parochinaris of Brassay beand ressauit, sworne,
      and examinit vpoun the foirsaid First Article, quhais names

                      Erasmus of Kirkbustar
                      Gregor of Holme
                      John of Holme
                      Christopheir of Grindiscole
                      Magnus of Patafirth
                      Jacob of Vstensta
                      Nichole of Vstensta
                      Torwald of Hoversta
                      Magnus in Hoversta
                      Nichole in Hoversta
                      Johne in Hoversta
                      Johne Smyth
                      Erasmus in Keldibustar
                      Nichole of Crowasettar
                      Magnus in Howane
                      Magnus of Bowasettar
                      Magnus Leslie
                      Andro Leslie
                      Nichole in Garth
                      Sandie of Nossound
                      Magnus in Nossound
                      Magnus Johnsoun in Burgh
                      Duncane Inksettar
                      Olaw in Burgh
                      Erasmus in Burgh
                      Johne in Grymsettar
                      Andro in Grymsettar
                      Erasmus in Watbustair
                      Thomas of Kirkbustar

Thir foirsaid persounis examinit vpoun the First Article befoir writtin,
ar conforme to the formar deponaris anent the ressait of the wadmell be
the Laird of Cultemalindeis ressavearis; and farther, giff thair was na
mair tane of thame, be the cuttell and the handis, of wadmell, thair was
na less. And that of ane pack quhilk was of the wadmell of Weisdaile,
quhilk suld be bot thre scoir of cuttellis of just mesour, thair was
thre scoir and fyftein cuttellis tane, swa thair was fyftein mair nor
aneuche; as the mettar thairoff, Magnus Leslie, confessit in presence of
the Commissionaris; and the said Magnus and the haill Commownis
confessis that thai war compellit be the Laird and certane his servandis
beand present, to met sa largelie, and durst do na vtherwyiss for feir
of him; and thai afferme, that he ressauit with ane mesour fra the
Commownis, and delyuerit agane with ane less mesour to the merkat.

  The Nynt day of Februar, the zeir and place foirsaid, the Inhabitantis
      and Parochinaris of Nesting, Lunasting, Quhalsay, ressauit,
      sworne, and examinit upoun the foirsaid Article, quhais names

               Ereik in Vtrabustare
               Johannes in Hamnavo
               Nichole in Colafirth
               Henrie Foster
               Dauid in Sweining
               James in Swening
               Olaw in Tronasettar
               Adame in Vydlaw
               Robert Mackbayth thair
               Magnus in Gillisbrek
               Johannes thair
               Laurence in Garth
               Petrik thair
               Olaw in Kirkabustar
               Antonius thair
               Magnus in Kirkabustar
               Nichole of Neip
               Andro in Skalberrie
               Edwarde Kettill thair
               Johannes in Fluagar
               Gelis Kettill
               Antone Laurencesoun
               Johne in Grunzefirth
               George Olawssoun in Laxfirth
               Erasmus thair
               Williame Reid
               Thomas of Kirkabustar
               Laurence Thomassoun
               Magnus in Houssabustar
               Michael in Brattabustar
               Olaw Erasmussoun
               Andro Olaussoun in Sheldesta
               Andro Nicholsoun thair
               Williame Magnussoun
               Dauid Strang
               Edwarde Thomassoun in Garth
               Alaster Suthirland thair
               Symon and Magnus his sonnis, thair
               Alaster Strang in Aythiswyk
               Erasmus in Aswyk
               Alexr. Duff in Glaitness
               Christopheir Thomassoun thair
               Olaw Huchessoun thair
               Magnus in Raillisburgh
               William Gairoche in Vassie
               Christopheir Symyonesoun in Freasetter
               Henrie in Catfirth and Christopheir thair
               Magnus Huchesoun in Crowne
               Magnus in Flamesta

                       THE MEN OF QUHAILSAY

               Pole in Sca
               Magnus Petirsoun thair
               Magnus Laurencessoun thair
               Petir in Gardishouss
               James Suthirland
               George Work
               Robert Huntar
               Magnus Sandeissoun
               Magnus Matheisoun
               Erasmus in Hinksettar
               Jacob in Levasettar
               Dauid Watsoun in Clett
               George and Thomas Harwode thair
               Christopheir in Sandwyk
               Erasmus Bothwell
               Culbein of Sinbuster, sumtyme Lawrychtman
               Olaw in Morasettar
               Antone Culbeinsoun
               John Culbeinsoun
               Magnus in Neisthehouss
               Henrie Work thair
               Magnus Androissoun thair
               Magnus Petersoun thair
               Petir Thomassoun in Houle
               James Williamsoun in Houle
               William Huntar in Lie
               Magnus Olawssoun thair
               Olaw in Scheldasetter

Quhilkis persounis, inhabitaris of Nesting, Lunasting, and Quhailsay,
examinit vpoun the First Article, deponis anent the Lawrichtman, the
ressauing of thair wadmell, and the wrang done to thame thairintill,
conforme to the formar depositionaris in all thingis.

  The Ellewint day of Februar, the zeir and place foirsaid, the
      Inhabitantis of Goldberwyk, Quharf, Trondra, and Burray, beand
      ressauit, sworne, and examinit, vpoun the first foirsaid Article,
      quhais names followis—

                    Thomas of Grymbuster
                    Johne in Sound
                    Stephane in Sound
                    Erasmus in Sound
                    Robert Ballie thair
                    Martein in Sound
                    Magnus his brother, thair
                    Nicole of Vtrabustar
                    Magnus Nicholsoun in Crope
                    Magnus Nicholsoun in Soirtoun
                    Williame Swainssoun in Weyk
                    Johne Swainssoun thair
                    Andro in Satir
                    Swaine in Brindista
                    Nicholaus Magnussoun
                    Petrik Magnussoun


                    Magnus Nicholsoun in Cowasettar
                    Olaw Huchesoun in Eister Quharff
                    Olaw Nicholsoun thair
                    Nichole Johnsoun
                    Olaw Johnsoun
                    Olaw in Vpswall
                    Beriald Nicholsoun
                    Williame Petirsoun in Swening
                    William Johnsoun in Tow
                    Magnus in Vradale
                    Richart in Houle
                    Magnus Laurencesoun in Sound


                    Magnus Williamsoun
                    Olaw Laurencesoun
                    Huchoun of Trondra
                    Benedick Laurencessoun

                            BURRAY YLE.

                    Richart in Browsaclett
                    Dauid Sinclair in Hugoland
                    James of Northbustar
                    Sandie of Northbustar
                    Erasmus in Sinbustar
                    Thomas in Sinbustar
                    Laurence Dauidsoun in Myre
                    Robert in Clett
                    Magnus in Sandwyk
                    Magnus Kettill in Grunzesound
                    Nichole Ewmondsoun in Hugoland
                    Magnus of Burgh
                    Laurence and Gelis of Burgh
                    Magnus Symounesoun
                    Magnus Erasmussoun
                    Robert Nicholsoun
                    Laurence Magnussoun
                    Magnus in Brek
                    Olaw Magnussoun
                    Henrie Tailzour
                    Magnus Sandeissoun
                    Andro Jacobsoun
                    Erasmus Johnsoun in Papill

Thir foirsaidis persounis examinit vpon the First Article anent the
Lawrichtman and the ressait of the wadmell, ar conforme to thame that
hes deponit affoir; and affermis, giff thai tuik na mair of the wadmell
thai tuik na less, and that be the large and wrangus gripping of the
handis that mett the saimen, done at the Lairdis command; ffor quhan
thai complanit of him of the wrangus mett, he said, it was na velvat,
swa thai gat no vther remeid, bot quhan thai held the wadmell in thair
hand to haue gottin richt mett, thay wald giff thame ane straik on the
hand with the cuttell to gar thaim lat it gang.

  The Tuelft day of Februar, the zeir and place foirsaid, the
      Inhabitantis of the Skerries, of the Ylis of Zell, Fetlar, and
      Vnst, ressauit, sworne, and examinit vpon the First foirsaid
      Article, quhais naimes followis—


                    Magnus in Browarie
                    Halbart Magnussoun
                    Christopheir in Gaill
                    Erasmus Magnussoun
                    Magnus Clerk
                    Petir Olawsoun
                    Petir Nichollssoun
                    Ever in Skerries


                    Christiane in Satir
                    Nicholaus in Graven
                    Dauid Spence
                    Williame Spence
                    Nicolaus of Culzevo
                    Donald Fresour
                    William Olawssoun
                    Erasmus in Brek
                    Sewart of Bosta
                    Dauid of Burgh
                    Magnus Hacla
                    Gelis of Cowasetter
                    Swaine of Windass
                    Donald of Volista
                    Martein of Rago
                    Johne of Bowasetter
                    Michael of Garth
                    Salomon Scot
                    James of Vralie
                    Robert Fresour
                    Johne Fresour
                    Erasmus Laurencesoun
                    Olaw in Graven
                    Olaw in Quyon
                    James of Swairasetter
                    Magnus Nipiebak
                    Thomas of Kettilsetter
                    Magnus of Littilasetter
                    Erasmus in Airisdale
                    Machis in Howland
                    Laurence of Copasetter
                    Magnus in Sandfre
                    Garth Vlsta
                    Petir in Bega
                    Olaw in Cladoun
                    Nicholaus in Netherhoule
                    John in Burgh
                    Dauid Randell
                    Thomas in Scatlandishouss
                    Petir Nisbet
                    Thomas Cowpasetter


                    Edwarde of Odsta
                    Niniane in Sand
                    Stephane Vrie
                    Magnus Erasmussoun
                    Erasmus in Culbinstoft
                    Magnus in Muklagarth
                    Magnus Johnsoun
                    Magnus of Still
                    Sowart of Kirkhous
                    Williame Scot
                    Olaw Symonesoun
                    Thomas Blanx
                    Antonius in Ayth
                    Olaw in Hellyhous
                    Olaw in Nesthous
                    Olaw Suthirland
                    Magnus Burgar
                    Gavill in Toft
                    Nicholaus in Crocebustare
                    Olaw Gregoursoun
                    James Suthirland


                    Christopheir and Williame in Sca
                    Olaw of Kirkatoun
                    Phinne of Torwall
                    Olaw Vnderfeald
                    Nicholaus of Westerhous
                    Erasmus in Skega
                    Williame Smyth
                    John Coupland of Ska
                    Andro in Burrafirth
                    Williame in Magneland
                    Andro in Gardie
                    James in Geo
                    Symon in Gardie
                    Johane in Clogon
                    Olaw in Gardoun
                    Vryell in Bwanes
                    Pole in Maill
                    Walter Hall
                    Johne Phea
                    Magnus Snaburg
                    Laurence Hill
                    Walter Smyth
                    Antone Watbustare
                    Olaw in Lyn
                    Olaw in Crocebustare
                    Andro in Crocebustare
                    Gutrum Petrasetter
                    Johne Mowat of Sandwyk
                    Henrie Hay
                    Olaw in Hamroun
                    Petir in Clovacast
                    Magnus Rvnon
                    Williame Magnussoun
                    Williame Makriche
                    Waltir Moreissoun
                    Barthole Strang
                    Siluester Frangorde
                    Andro Farquhar
                    Magnus of Cathhouss
                    Williame of Langhouss
                    Henrie of Stoiff
                    Thomas of Bodoun

Thir persounis immediatlie aboue writtin examinit, affermis, all in ane
voce, concerning the Lawrichtman, the mesour, and the hand in the
intaking of the wadmell, conforme to thame that hes deponit of befoir
vpon the First Article.

  The Fourteint day of Februar, zeir and place foirsaid, the
      Inhabitantis of the parochin of Delting and Scatsta ressauit,
      sworne, and examinit vpon the First foirsaid Article, quhais names

                   Magnus of Howbinsettar
                   Thomas of Voxsettar
                   Olaw of Gonfirth
                   Paule of Gonfirth
                   Magnus in Barfensettare
                   Thomas of Flett
                   Olaw in Skewa
                   Petir of Kirkhouss
                   Angus in Voy
                   Nichole in Back
                   Nichole in Theon
                   Petray thair
                   Magnus of Clovagarth
                   Laurence in Lie
                   Johne in Sorsetter
                   Erasmus in Southirhouss
                   Elzen thair
                   Erasmus Youngar in Southirhouss
                   Magnus in Eisterscorde
                   Andro Hall
                   Erasmus of Gruting
                   Magnus of Sandgarth
                   Andro Peirsoun in Daill
                   Erasmus thair
                   Donald in Toft
                   Magnus of Gardoun
                   Laurence of Brek
                   Olaw of Collafirth
                   Olaw Cull
                   Symon of Outhallistoft
                   Thomas in Quhom
                   Andro Giffurde, Vnderfowde
                   Nichole Hardwall
                   Andro Hawick of Scattsta
                   Antonius of Grawen
                   Thomas Yrrewing
                   Thomas of Laxvo
                   Magnus of Laxvo
                   Jacob thair
                   Olaw of Neagarth
                   Erasmus of Stenswall
                   Williame of Bordigarth
                   Boun Yrrewing in Garth
                   Sewart in Caldbak
                   Nichole of Orquoy
                   Erasmus of Crogasetter
                   Andro thair
                   Olaw in Burgh
                   Melschor Culane
                   Petir in Neschon
                   John in Burness
                   Benedick thair
                   Erasmus, elder and younger, thair
                   Ereick in Burness
                   Laurence of Firth
                   John in Firth
                   Thomas in Swynasetter
                   Andro thair
                   Magnus thair
                   John Denone, Vicair

Thir persounis immediatlie aboue writtin, examinit vpon the First
Article, concerning the Laurichtman of this parochin, thai all afferme
that Nichole Hardwall was thair Laurichtman, bot in the Lairdis tyme he
gat na place to use his office, nor to delyver the wadmell as he aucht
to haue done, bot the Land causit vtheris of his awin chesing to met
their wadmell fra the Commownis; zit nevirtheless the Commownis war
compellit to pay the Laurichtman his accustomit fee zeirlie, albeit he
gat na place to do his office. Thai ar conforme to the formar deponaris
anent the wrang of the mettein of the wadmell, with this additioun, giff
ony of thame wantit ane cuttell of wadmell of his dewitie, the Laird
compellit thame to pay thairfoir twa schillingis Scottis; and giff thai
had ane cuttell attour thair dett vpon the end of their wob or mair, he
wad not giff that superplus of to thame, bot wald giff them twa s. for
ilk cuttell that thai had owr thair dett; and sum tyme wald tak it and
gif thame na thing thairfoir.

  The Fyfteint day of Februar, the zeir and place foirsaid, the
      Parochinaris of Northmaven ressauit, sworne, and examinit vpone
      the First foirsaid Article, quhais names followis—

               Laurence of Hagrasettare
               Olaw of Ylisburgh
               Magnus in Mangosettar
               Olaw Nebon
               Laurence of Gvnzesetter
               Olaw of Hammer
               Laurence of Orabustare
               Antonius in Vrafirth
               Magnus in Awsetter
               Thomas in Over Vre
               Thomas of Findeland
               Turberrie thair
               Olaw of Videfeild
               Laurence Tulloch of Westhouss
               Olaw of Sandwyk
               Thomas of Tangweyk
               Thomas of Stanehous
               Erasmus of Brekown
               Laurence thair
               Erasmus in Frangorde
               Magnus and Thomas of Grithouland
               Henrie and Magnus of Stow
               Gregorius of Lyascole
               Thomas of Vigginsgarth
               Androis of Vre
               Nichole, eldar and youngar, thair
               Johne of Awisgarth
               Thomas of Bravehouland
               Laurence of Mvrone
               Thomas of Hamnavoy
               Erasmus of Okcratoun
               Olaw Northhous in Occratoun
               Magnus in Sonderhous thair
               Thomas of Hekzevir thair
               Magnus of Vzea
               Olaw of Vzea
               Botulff in Vzea
               Erasmus thair
               Magnus, elder and younger, in Sandvo
               Johne of Bratbustare
               Bothwell of Sater
               John of Houle
               Gregorius, elder and younger, in Vsbister
               Johne of Fluagarth
               Johne of Burravo
               Christopheir thair
               James in Howland
               Erasmus in Caldsta
               Magnus thair
               Huchoun in Skelberry
               Bodwell, elder and zounger, in Houssettar
               Thomas in Colafirth
               Andro in Colafirth
               Magnus Tulloch in Hoxnasettar
               Thomas in Vnderfeald
               Olaw of Voe
               Nichole of Swynasettar
               Alexander M’Baythsoun
               Magnus in Quoyfirth
               John of Lyen
               Johannes of Howen
               Petir of Northweyk
               Magnus in Vstness
               Gilbert Portuiss in Hugoland
               Johne in Lunasettar
               Andro Robertsoun in Fiblasettar
               John Robertsoun in Nestasettar
               Magnus in Turvasettar
               John in Bardasettar
               Laurence and Andro in Gluss
               Gregorius and Olaw in Burroland
               Nicholaus in Clodasetter
               Olaw in Howle
               Gregorius in Toft in Sowlim
               Ereik and Johne in Sowlim
               Thomas in Lunnasettar

Thir persounis, Parochinaris of Northmaven, examinit; thai ar conforme
to the formar deponaris anent the wrangus ressait of the wadmell fra
thame be the Laird and his doaris; als thai grant that thai had ane
Lawrichtman, callit Dauid Tulloch, quha gat na leiff to vse his office,
quharthrow thai war grittumlie hurt.

  At Tingwall, the xvi day of Februar 1576. The Induellaris of the
      parochinaris of Wawiss, ressauit, sworne, and examinit vpon the
      foirsaid First Article, quhais names followis, with the pendicle
      thairoff callit Papa—

                       Laurence of Grunzevo
                       Magnus of Quhytisness
                       Olaw of Garmatwait
                       James Paulsoun
                       Magnus Erasmussoun
                       Symon Magnussoun
                       Johannes of Stennestwait
                       Christopheir Laurencesoun
                       Paule Watsoun
                       Magnus Watsoun
                       Magnus Jacobsoun
                       Johannes of Burroland
                       Nichole of Burroland
                       Andro Wischart
                       Nichole Flett
                       Nichole Thomassoun
                       Williame Voy
                       Christopheir Nicholsoun
                       Nichole Turbensoun in Brek
                       Johannes in Stannisland
                       Mr. Robert Chene
                       James of Swarvasettar
                       Nichole in Huvedigarth
                       Johne of Glen
                       Nichole Schewartsoun
                       Nichole Olawsoun
                       Jacob in Satir
                       Gelis and Thomas thair
                       Andro Fresur
                       Laurence in Torradaill
                       Laurence in Kinkavale
                       Andro and Johne Mudie
                       Nichole of Gossater
                       Vriale of Daill
                       Johannes of Hucsettar
                       Petir of Sunsquoy
                       Erasmus Andersoun
                       Erasmus Johnsoun
                       John Wischart
                       Magnus in Garth


                       Nichole Johnsoun
                       Olaw Christopheirsoun
                       James Christopheirsoun
                       Erasmus Androissoun
                       Boun Olawsoun
                       Erasmus Zoungar
                       Johne Magnussounun
                       William Erasmusson
                       Olaw Knodsoun
                       Johannes Erasmussoun
                       Andro Bowhous
                       Olaw Boll
                       Olaw Andersoun
                       Olaw Johnsoun
                       John Nicholsoun

Quhilkis persounis, immediatlie befoir writtin, examinit vpon the First
Article; thai ar agreeable concerning the Lawrichtman, and the vsing of
his office to the formar deponaris of Delting and Scattstay; and siclyk
anent the delyuering of the wadmell, in all poyntis.

  The xxj day of Februar, the zeir and place foirsaid, the Parochinaris
      of Sandsting and Aythsting, ressauit, sworne, and examinit vpon
      the First foirsaid Article, quhais names followis—

                   Magnus in Vnzefirth
                   Thomas and Henrie thair
                   Johne Wischart
                   Williame in Sater
                   Magnus and Olaw in Closta
                   Petir and Olaw in Vzeasound
                   Thomas in Ayththisness
                   Erasmus and Myches in Vphous
                   Olaw in Papay
                   Patrik in Burrafirth
                   Magnus Mowat
                   Magnus Reid
                   Benedict and Nichole in Howasetter
                   Magnus and Johne of Cumming
                   Olaw Twait in Northous
                   Petir Longascole
                   Andro in Kirkhous
                   John of Brek
                   Magnus Bigsetter
                   Laurence in Trusta
                   Henrie Sandsound
                   Magnus Halcro
                   Williame Bairfield
                   Magnus Michelsoun
                   Olaw and Thomas in Sand
                   John in Sunlasetter
                   Magnus and Paule of Skeld
                   Magnus Johnsoun
                   Petir Wischart
                   Williame of Skeld
                   Thomas Ryssie
                   Johne of Cultisweyk
                   Christopheir in Haistensetter
                   Magnus and Johannes in Sellivo
                   Johannes of Gruting
                   Johne Murray
                   Olaw Hugonsoun in Browaland
                   Johne Rolland thair

Thir persounis, immediatlie preceding, examminit, vpon the First Article
thai ar aggrieable in all things, conforme to the formar deponaris.

  The foirsaid xxj day of Februar, the zeir and place foirsaid. The
      Parochinaris of Dunrostnes, ressauit, sworne, and examinit vpon
      the First Article, quhais names followis—

                 Olaw Flattabustare
                 Williame and Erasmus thair
                 Erasmus of Ocraquoy
                 Magnus in Howkenasettar
                 Johannes of Blostoiff
                 Olaw Magnussoun
                 Olaw of Hellyness
                 Magnus Bramer
                 Magnus of Cutha
                 Ereik and Magnus of Goird
                 Olaw in Sterkagar
                 Magnus in Tow
                 Symone in Culbinisgarth
                 Swaine Eldegar
                 Williame in Brind
                 Hectour of Brind
                 Nichole of Clapwall
                 Brownie of Scarpagarth
                 Magnus of Wattisgarth
                 Magnus in Wastano
                 Olaw of Maill
                 Magnus of Maill
                 James Cloustane
                 Williame Hog
                 Thomas in Leabuttin
                 Olaw Smyth in Sand
                 Magnus Mowat of Burrowland
                 Andro of Howland
                 Thomas of Culzesettar
                 Antone in Cumlaweyk
                 Magnus in Viasettar
                 Johne Johnstoun in Hoisweyk
                 Magnus Tullo
                 Williame and Antone of Channerweyk
                 Magnus thair
                 Laurence Lesk in Gord
                 Thomas Antonissoun
                 Nichole Segarth
                 Magnus Mowat in Lavenweyk
                 Nichole Mowat thair
                 Claus and Olaw Haldensoun
                 Niniane and George of Clumming
                 Gawane of Longasettar
                 Magnus Trosweyk
                 Henrie in Outvo
                 Magnus in Skelberrie
                 Magnus Symondsoun
                 Olaw in Vo and Johne in Vo
                 Henrie and Williame Lesk
                 Henrie Mowat and James Mowat
                 Laurence Lesk
                 Laurence Sinclair
                 Johne Yrrewing
                 Johne Torquele
                 John Petirsoun
                 Johne Sclatter
                 Johne Sinclair
                 Magnus Lesk and Laurence Lesk
                 Ereik of Burroiss
                 Magnus Thomassoun
                 Henrie Thomassoun
                 Arling Johnsoun and Williame Johnsoun
                 Gregorius Olawsoun
                 Williame Pattisoun
                 John Smyth and Henrie Smyth
                 Williame and Symone of Loball
                 Leonarde Coupland and Gilbert Coupland
                 Magnus Erlingsoun
                 Maguns Nicholsoun
                 Johne Gybsoun
                 James of Brek
                 Arling of Bw
                 Johne and James Sinclair in Garth
                 Andro Cheild
                 Thomas Patoun
                 Olaw Magnussoun out of Mo
                 Olaw and Alaster Sutherland
                 William in Eistishouss
                 Magnus thair
                 Henrie Strang
                 Johne Cromertie
                 Orme and Andro of Quendale
                 Nichole Flett
                 Robert Scartane
                 Edward Sinclair in Town
                 Robert Archbauld
                 Johne Hendersoun
                 Thomas Bernissoun
                 Rull of Ringista
                 Andro Ringista
                 Thomas Ormissoun
                 Williame in Brek
                 Johne of Colsettar
                 Magnus Beindsoun in Backasettar
                 Nichole in Sunlasettar
                 Henrie in Noss
                 Stewin of Forvo
                 Thomas of Fuktoun
                 Williame Sinclair in Sater
                 Henrie Emlay
                 Matho Fuktoun
                 Magnus Greg and his sounis
                 Thomas in Mawik

Thir persounis immediatlie aboue writtin, examinit vpone the First
Article; thay ar conforme to the formar deponaris, with this additioun,
Erling of Bw, Lawrichtman of Dinnrosness hes testifeit, in presence of
the Commissionaris, that he broucht at dyuerss tymes, twa sindrie
cuttellis of just mesour, to haue delyuerit the wadmell of Dunrosness
thairupon, conforme to his office, bot the Laird of Cultemalindie
refusit outher to lat him met, or zit to lat the wadmell be mett with
his cuttell: Quhairfoir the said Lawrichtman, seing he was refusit, in
sing of the disobedience and wrang that was done, in presence of the
haill Commownis, he brak his cuttellis and requyrit the haill Commownis
witness heiroff.

      Regentis Grace and Secreit Counsale be Arthour Sinclair of Ayth,
      as eftir followis—

Secundlie, The said Laurence hes compellit us to pay the dewitie of our
buttir on his wecht, callit the Bismeyr, ffor ilk twelff lespund buttir
quhilk was payit of auld, fyftein lespundis, swa that we ar compellit to
pay the fyft pairt of our dewitie of buttir mair nor was ever payit of

  The foirsaidis Parochinaris of Tingwale, Quhytness and Weisdaill,
      sworne and examinit befoir the Commissionaris, day, zeir, and
      place foirsaid, vpon the Secund Article, deponis as followis—

Thay depone, that the thrie zeiris bypast, viz., J^m V^c Lxxij, Lxxiij,
and Lxxiiij zeiris, thair was tane fra thame be the Laird and his
weyaris, for everie just lespund quhilk extendis to xxiiij merkis, thay
tuik fra thame be wrang wechtis, and be the handis that weyit, thretty
merkis. Bot this last zeir of Lxxv zeiris crope, thai depone that thai
war relevit of the ane halff of the wrang wecht, swa that thai payit bot
xxvij merkis this last zeir for the lespund, quhilk was bot thre merkis
mair nor just of ilk lespund.

  The foirsaidis Parochinaris of Brassay, sworne and examinit befoir the
      saidis Commissionaris, day, zeir, and place foirsaid, vpon this
      Secund Article, deponis as followis—

Anent the ressait of thair butter, thai are conforme to the men of
Tingwall, Quhytness and Weisdale, formar deponaris vpon the said Secund
Article; with this additioune, Erasmus of Kirkbustare, quha was
Laurichman of Brassay in tyme of vmquhile Olaw Sinclair of Avera, Fowde
of Zetlande, testifyit in presence of the Commissionaris, that he
ressauit ane bismeyr, quhilk Williame Vrwing of Trondra maid, be the
haill consent bayth of the Fowde and Commownis of Zetland; quhilk
bismeyre he hes keipit neir xxx zeiris bypast, quhilk was haldin ane
just bismeyre, ay and quhill the Laird of Cultemalindie enterit Fowde;
bot sensyne the Laird hes refusit to ressaue ony buttir vpon that
bismeyre, but causit ane new bismeyre to be maid, transmonting sax,
sewin, or aucht merkis mair, betuixt the wecht and the hand that weyit,
nor that auld just bismeyre was; and he hes continewit sen his entress
to ressaue the buttir on that maner, except this last zeir, quhair in
the ressait of the buttir, he diminissit ane pairt of the wrang wecht to
the quantitie of twa or thre merkis of euery lespund that he had wount
to tak in the zeiris befoir, bot zit he come not to the just auld
wechtis be thre merkis at the leist, as the formar deponaris has
declarit. And als the foirsaidis parochinaris affermis, that the Laird
gart serse out the grittest bismeyre that was amang the Duchemen; and
quhan he had gottin the same, the quhilk was thre or four merkis mair
nor just, zit he wald not ressaue the buttir thairupoun, bot upon his
awin bismeyre, quhilk he had gart mak; quhilk was twa or thre merkis mar
of everie lespund nor the grittest bismeyre that was amangis the

  The foirsaidis Parochinaris of Nesting, Lunasting, Quhailsay,
      Skerreiss, Burray, Trondray, Quharff, Goldberwyk, Vnst, Fetlar,
      Zell, Delting, and Scatsta, Northmaven, Wawiss, Sandsting and
      Aythsting, and Dunrostnes, sworne and examinit befoir the saidis
      Commissionaris, dayis, zeir, and place befoir specifiet,
      respectiue, vpon the Secund Article, deponis as followis—

Thay all affirmis and aggreis anent the bismeyre and the ressait of the
buttir, and vpon the zeiris, conforme to the formar deponaris, wyth this
aditioune of the parochinaris of Burray, Quharff, and Goldberwyk, quha
affermit, that the man that weyit thair buttir durst do na vyther wayis
for feir of the Laird, because he stude besyde him all the tyme of the
weying: And wyth this additioune of the grittest nummer of the
parochinaris of Scatstay and Delting, quha deponit, that thai gat
nathing doune of the wrang wechtis the last zeir: And wyth this
additioune of the haill parochinaris of Northmaven aboue specifeit, quha
declarit, that Dauid Tulloch, thair Laurichtman, broucht his bismeyre
wyth him to the Duchemennis buyt at Gluss, till haue weyit the buttir
thairupoune to the Laird, according to the dewitie of his office, bot
the Laird wald not suffer him to do the saimen; and he said to the
Laird, It was ewill done that he wald not lat him wie the Commownis
buttir with the just bismeyre quhilk he had broucht with him thair, and
said it was not aneuche that he suld oppress the Commownis with ane
wrangus bismeyre; and because he spak tha wourdis to the Laird for the
rycht in favour of the Commownis, or ever the Laird wald luik on him
with patience, he gart him pay to him for the said speiche fyve
dolouris: And wyth this additioune of Magnus Reid of Ayth, quha producit
in presence of the Commissionaris and the haill Commownis of Sandsting,
Aythsting, and Dunrostness, ane letter under the commown seale of
Zetland, of the electioune of Nichole Ayth of that ilk, fader to the
said Magnus, to the office of Lawman-generale of all Zetland, quhilk is
of the dait, In the Ting holm of Tingwale, the xxvij day of July, in the
zeir of God J^m V^c xxxij zeires, togidder with ane bismeyre, quhilk the
said Lawman keipit and observit as ane just bismeyre all his dayis.
Lykas the said Magnus his sone, affermit, that he had keipit it sen his
said faderis deceiss, and was repute and haldin as ane just and attentik
wechte, and for verificatioune thairoff, the Fowdis merk and Lawmannis
merk war ingravit in the same; quhilk bismeyre beand conferrit with the
Lairdis bismeyre, quhilk he hes usit commounlie sen his entress, the
foirsaid Lardis bismeyre transcendis and surmontis the said Lawmannis
laufull bismeyre vpon the lespund wecht, aucht merkis mair nor just,
quhilk extendis to the third pairt of ane lespund, swa that the Laird
hes of the Commownis be hes bismeyre, of everie thre lespundis he
ressavis, he hes the fourt lespund attour the just wecht wranguslie; and
this was verifiit be the haill twa parochinaris aboue mentionat, befoir
the saidis Commissionaris.

      Regentis Grace and Lordis of Secreit Counsale, be Arthour Sinclair
      of Ayth, as eftir followis—

Thridlie, The said Laurence hes, sen hes entrie foirsaid, compellit ws
to pay our restis and dettis, and to delyuer to him silver zopindales
for twa gulliounis, quhair as the samyn hes commoune courss in tymes
bygane, and was ressauit for thre gudlingis be all Fowdis preceiding
this tua hundreth zeiris bygane.

  The haill Inhabitantis of Zetland befoir mentionat, sworne and
      examinit befoir the saidis Commissionaris, dayis, zeir, and place
      respective, foirsaid, vpon this Thrid Article, deponis as

Thay all in ane voce deponis, that the Laird of Cultemalindie tuik the
zopindale fra thame in payment of ony rest of dettis that thay war awand
to him, for twa gudlingis allanerlie, quhair as of befoir, it was ay
tane for thre gudlingis; and as zit the Duchemen will not giff ane
zopindaill bot for thre gudlingis wourth of wairis, and thay ar
compellit to giff it to him for twa gudlingis, swa hes rasit up vpon
thame the thrid mair of all detties and dewities quhilk thai haue not in
wairis, ffor the quhilk thay man pay monie, quhilk is the occasioune
that bayth kirkmen, merchandis, and vtheris traffeicand in the cuntrie,
will ressave the said zopindaillis and vther monie in na vther maner nor
the Laird ressaveis the samen; as alswa, the angell nobill, quhilk was
wount to be allowit in thair dettis for sax gudlingis, is now ressauit
fra thame for fyue gudlingis, quhairby thai ar gritlie opprest be the
Laird continualie sen his entres to the office. And als it is deponit be
the Inhabitaris of the North Yles of Zetland, viz.—of the Yles of Zell,
Fetlar, and Vnst, that [the] Laird tuik the zopindale fra the Duchemen,
quhilk lay within thair Yles, for tua gudlingis, and quhat wairis he
tuik fra thame againe, he compellit thame to tak the zopindale, in
payment thairoff, for thre gudlingis. And als it is deponit be the men
of Northmaven, that the Laird compellit all thame that wantit zopindales
or angel nobillis to pay thair restis with, to pay for ilk gudling
xxiiij s. Scottis, swa that for the dolour st. that suld haue bein thre
gudlingis, to thame allowit in dettis to thame be him bot for tua
gudlingis, thai payit xxxvj s. Scottis. And affoir his entres, the
gullioune was nevir bot vj s. Scottis, swa that, quhair in tymes bypast
the pryce of tua gudlingis was bot xij s. Scottis (to the quhilk pryce
of tua gudlingis the Laird hes put the haill dolour to quhair he
ressaues monie fra thame), notwithstanding, quhair thai uant the dolour,
he compellis thame to pay thairfoir xxxvj s. Scottis, quhilk is thryss
als mekle as thai war wount to pay of befoir.

      Regentis Grace and Lordis of Secreit Counsale, by Arthour Sinclair
      of Ayth, as eftir followis—

Ferdlie, the said Laurence hes compellit the Duchemen and vther
strangeairs resortand to the cuntrie of Zetland, be quham the haill
traffeck of the said cuntrie consistis, to pay him als meikle dewtie be
way of brybrie and extrordinar impostis, as thay war wount to pay of
befoir to our souerane Lord and his Fowdis for his Hieness toll and
custome; quhairthrow the saidis strangearis, quha furnist ws all
victuales, clayth, yrne, hemp, and vther necessaris, ar appeirand till
abstein fra traffeck in our said cuntrie, lykas the principall men of
thame hes ellis done, and that for the oppressioun committit vpon thame,
till our grit skayth, without remied be maid in tyme.

  The haill Inhabitaris of Zetland befoir mentionat, sworne and examint
      befoir the said Commissionaris, dayis, zeir, and plaice
      respective, foirsaid, vpon this Ferd Article, deponis as followis—

The haill Inhabitantis of Zetland befoir written, deponis concerning
this Fourt Article, that thay ar ignorant quhat the Laird hes gottin fra
the Duchemen attour the just toll, becaus they are not permittit to be
present at the delyverance thairoff, and ar not participant of the
samyn; bot in respect of the grit favor, liberteis, and permissiounis
that is grantit and permittit to the Duchemen be the Laird, zeirlie, sen
his entress, by auld consuetude and customes of the cuntrie, to the grit
hurt and damage of the puir Commownis of the cuntrie quhilk byis all
thingis necessairis concerning thair sustentatiouns fra the Duchemen, it
apperis, and is presumit, that the Laird ressaveis zeirlie gains and
commoditie fra thame according to the termis of the Ferd Article, and in
respect of the ressounis particularlie following—

And First, Quhair as it was and is the use, affoir that ony schip be
tholit, the cowp and pryce of the merchand wairis and geir is and aucht
to be sett be the Fowde, and certain honest descreit men of the cuntrie
quhilk knawis the lawis, consuetudes, and pryces, bayth of the
cuntrimenis wairis and merchandis strangearis resortand thair; the Laird
of Cultemalindie, sen his entrie to the Fowdrie, hes not observit the
auld order thairoff, bot hes alterit and brokin the cowp and pryces as
followis: that is to say, The pryces of the Duchemen and strangearis
geir is rasit hiear, contrair the auld use and custome; for the auld
lawfull pryce of the barrell of drinking beir was and suld be for thre
gudlingis of cuntrie wairis, sic as of fische, buttir, wadmell, or uther
cuntrie wairis; and the barrell of rymeill brannes of twelff lesspond
wecht, of the same pryce; bott sen the Laird enterit, the barrell of
beir is sett to four gudlingis, and the warst beir that they bring is
sett to three gudlingis and ane half; the barrale of branner meil,
quhilk was thre gudlingis of auld, now they gar thame pay thairfoir thre
gudlingis and ane half, and sumetyme four gudlingis: and zet the scayth
is not sa grit of the cowp setteing to the Commownis, as is the hurt
that thai have of the exorbitant gilding of the wairis; for quhair as
twelff gild keling and aucht gild ling suld mak the gudling, and was
evir in use to be tane fra thame for ane gudling, the Duchemen will not
ressaive fra thame less nor fourteen, fifteen, or saxteen gild keling,
and ten, elleven, or twelff gild ling for the gudling, and this is
continewalie usit sen the Lairdis entress, and for na complaynt that
thai can mak to him thai can have remeid thairoff, bot the Duchemen ar
ouirsein, and the cuntriemen opprest in maner foresaid, for lack of

Secundlie, The Commownis of the haill cuntrie complainis upon the
Duchemen, quhair as thai ar hevelie opprest be thair messuris and
wechtis; for the Duchemenis can that they tax the beir with, is litill
mair nor ane Scottis chappin, for the full of the quhilk they tak fra
the Commownis ane Dens schilling, quhilk is ane gild keling, bot the can
that they ressaive the ulie fra the Commownis with, is neir weill ane
Scottis quart, albeit they aucht bayth to be equal and alike of messour.

Thridlie, The Commownis ar hevelie opprest be the said Duchemen, as thai
affirme and deponis, be the bismeiris wrangusslie maid and markit, swa
that xxx merkis upon the small wechtis will scantlie mak furth ane
lesspund of the bismeire quhairupone the Commownis ressavis fra the
Duchemen; bot they ressave the Commownis wairis upon the grit wecht in
haill gudlingis, quhilk hinderis the Commownis of ilk gudling twelff
merkis; quhilk diminisses the fyft part of thair dewitie, quhairroff
they suld have allowance, be the wrang wecht; and thairby they pay the
fyft part attour thair dewities mair nor just.

Ferdlie, It is affirmit and deponit be the Inhabitantis of the North
Yles of Zetland, viz.—of Zell, Fetlair, and Unst, before mentionat, that
thai are extorsit be the Duchemen be the rasing of the pryces of thair
wairis, and diminissing of the pryces of the cuntrie wairis onlie in
defalt of the Laird, for the Commownis was wont to get in all tymes of
befoir the Lairdis entress, aucht cuttell of vnblicht carrott (?) for
ane gudling, bot now, sen his entress, thai gett bot sax cuttellis for
the gudling; lykwyiss the merk of copper of auld was sauld for twa
schillingis of wairis, and now thai tak four schillingis thairfoir; and
siclyk hes agmented the pryces of thair hemp and uther grayth: In
respect of the quhilk, it is supponit and presumit that the Laird gettis
gains fra the strangearis, to suffer and permit thame to use the
Commownis on this maner; for thai declair, that the shippis that lyis in
the Yles delyvirit to the Lairdis doaris, ilk schip halff ane last of
beir and meill certane zeiris, bot thai knaw not quhidder he maid
payment to the Duchemen or not thairfoir. Bot thai affirme that thai
hard the Duchemen say, that the Laird payit thame nathing thairfoir. And
als affermis, that the Duchemen schow thame that the Laird tuk the
zopindaill fra thame bot for twa gudlings, yet in payment of thair
wairis that he bought fra thame, he compellit thame to tak it again fra
him for thre gudlings.

      the Regentis Grace and Lordis of Secreit Counsale, be Arthour
      Sinclair of Ayth, upon LAURENCE BRUCE of Cultemalindie, as eftir

Fyftlie, The said Laurence, in his accustomit manner, efter his arryvale
in Zetland with fyfteen or saxteen armit men, comis to the housses of us
the inhabitantis of the said cuntrie, and remains thairintill quhill our
victuales and provisioun be spendit; compelling us to furnish him and
his cumpanie, for feir of grittar oppressioun, and swa depairtis bot
payment of ony expenss and chargeis maid be him and his dependaris to us
or ony of us, and that in manner of sorning and skafrie, to our uttar
wrak and heirschip, we beand for the maist pairt all lawboraris and

  The haill Inhabitaris of Zetland before mentionat, sworne and examinit
      befoir the saidis Commissionaris, dayis, zeir, and place
      respectivé foirsaid, upon the Fyft Article, deponis as followis—

Thay all depone in ane voce, That the Laird was never fewer nor twelff
personnis, by strangearis, boyis, and uthers, that convoyit his caryage,
quhilk was sustenit be the honest men of the cuntrie into thair housses,
quhen as he past athort the cuntrie; and was bankittit, and gat sic
cheir as thai micht furniss, and payit nevar any price for it; and
ofttymes the gudman of the houss, at thair departing, behuvit to propyne
the maister houshald, the cuik, and stewart, with sum gift; with this
additioun of the parochynairis of Nesting, that in Hervist was ane zeir,
the Laird with his companie beand in Margrat Reidis houss in Burgh,
quhen they had drukkin furth hir provisioun, thair was half ane barrell
of beir in Thomas of Kirkabustar’s hous quhilk pertenit to Johne
Magnussoun in Gounzefirth, and was put thair to keip be him, the Laird
gettand wit thairoff, send and gart bring the same to Margrat Reidis
houss to his provisioun, and gart publiss throw the parochin, that
quhatever he was that had ony dreinking beir, and heild and conselit the
same fra him, thair haill guiddis and geir suld be escheit, giff
knawlege might be had thairoff in ony tyme eftir. As for the halff
barrell that was tane, the awnar as zet has gottin na payment thairfoir.
And wyth this additioun of the parochinairis of Northmaven, that in sum
mennis housses, the Laird, with his companie, wald remane quhill he wald
dreink halff ane last of beir, and sumtyme mair; lyk as he did in Andro
Robertsoun’s, John Robertsoun’s, Magnus in Gluss, and Laurence in
Glusses housses, and wald repair to thame thre or four tymes in the
zeir. And the gudwyffes of the housse, nor thair servandis, gat na
entress in thair awin sellaris sa lang as he remanit.

      Regentis Grace and Lordis of the Secreit Counsale, be Arthour
      Sinclair of Ayth, upon LAURENCE BRUCE of Cultemalindie, as

Saxtlie, The said Laurence, contrair the custome of our said cuntrie and
lawis of this realme, hes at all tymes, sen his entrie, causit courtis
to be fensit and haldin within the feriat and cloiss tyme of hervist and
vacanis for his particular proffitt, quhairthrow we micht [not] wait
upon our hervist for winning of our cornis, hay, and vther necessars to
sustein us in tyme of winter. And lyikwyiss causit dyverss of his
servandis and suddartis, quhilk ar not natives nor indwelland men in our
cuntrie, to pass upone our assyses and inquestis, contrair our lawis and
customes, perverting thairthrow our haill lawis to his particulair

  The haill Inhabitaris of Zetland befoir mentionat, sworne and examinit
      befoir the saidis Commissionaris, dayis, zeir, and place
      respectivé foirsaid, upon this Saxt Article, deponis as followis—

And first, The men of Quhytnes and Weisdale anent this Saxt Article,
deponis, That the Laird held courtis alsweill in tyme of hervist as ony
uther tyme; and in speciale betuixt the Mariemessis, and at everie
court, he had twa or thre of his awin men, quha votit and decernit all
decreits at thair plessure, and wald gif the Commownis na place to vote
bot conforme to thame: Quhairas na men suld sit upon thair decreits bot
cuntriemen that kennis thair awin lawis, quhairthrow thair law was
wreistit to the Lairdis particular proffit, to the grit hurt of the
inhabitaris of the cuntrie; amang quham James Bruce sat upon the assyses
this last zeir in mony of all the courtis haldin in Zetland be the
Laird, notwithstanding, as thai wer informit, [he] was at the Kingis
horne and unrelaxit.

The men of Brassay ar conforme to the formar deponaris upon this Saxt
Article, with this additioun: At the last Lawting haldin in Scalloway,
quhilk is the heid court of the cuntrie, thai affirme that thair was
scarslie the ane halff of the assyiss cuntriemen, and thai gat na vote
in the decreits giffin furth; quhairfoir thai war on purpoiss to have
tane act that thai gaif na consent to the decreits decernit in that
court, bot for feir of the Laird thai stayit and durst not.

The men of Nesting, Lunasting, Quhailsay, and Skerreis, examinit upon
this Saxt Article, ar conform to the formar deponaris of Quhytnes and
Weisdale, with this additioun: Efter that my Lord Robert had past
throwout the parochinis of the cuntrie, and haldin his courtis, the
thing that my Lord had remittit and forgiffin, the Laird thaireftir
callit thame, and held courtis in Tingwall and Scalloway, and thair sett
his awin servandis and utheris of his chosin upon the assysses, sic as
James Bruce, Harie Bruce, and Thomas Boyne, sa lang as he was in his
service; and thair wald convict thame in sic sowmes as he thoucht gude,
haveand na respect to the lawis of the cuntrie nor gude conscience, bot
ony voit of the cuntriemen; and also decernit faltis that was giffin up
in Grandrie (quhilk is ane dittay giffin and tane up be ane privy
inquest), without any preiff led thairupon: and thai that gaiff up the
grandrie sat upon the assyiss, and in speciale Harie Bruce and Thomas
Boyne, quha was bayth the upgiffaris of the faltis, and but preiff or
witness sat upon the assyiss, and decernit upone the same. And for ane
tuilzie that Johne Smyth, officiar, maid in Williame Garyochis houss,
Edwarde of Garth, Williame Magnussoun in Beinsta, and the said Williame
Garryouche, war ilkane decernit in sax dolouris, quhilk thai war
compellit to pay to the Laird with rigor; and quhen thai requyrit the
clerk for ane copie of the decreit, and bad him ane zopindale and ane
halff for thair extract of the same, zet he wuld not draw it furth to
thame. And thai affirme all, that for na payment nor requeist that thai
can mak, the Lairdis clerk will not giff forth the extractis of the
decreitis, nor zet can thai have executioun thairupon, except it be for
the Lairdis awin particular proffit.

The men of Vnst, examinit upon this Saxt Article, agreis with Quhytnes
and Weisdale, with this additioun: Harie Bruce and Thomas Boyne beand
procurators, sumtyme efteir that thai have pursewit in ane actioun, hes
been permittit to sit upon the assyiss, and to decerne in the same
actioun that thai procurit in of befoir. And in speciale, in ane actioun
quhair Harie Bruce stude up and procurit for Barthole Strangis wyff, the
said Barthole beand furth of the cuntrie, and sche compellit to answer,
for na exceptioun of the law that sche culd propone thai wald desist,
bot procedit aganis her; quhairas of the law her husband suld have bein
callit, and not sche. And the said Harie unrequyrit of hir, takkand hir
procuratioun upon him, sat down agane upon the assyiss, and gaiff vote
contrair the actioun, for the quhilk he procurit; this proven be
certaine honest men of Vnst, viz.—Walter Smyth, Johne Coupland, Magnus
Cowhouse, Paule of Maill, with vtheris dyuerss.

      befoir the Regentis Grace and Lordis of the Secret Counsale, be
      Arthour Sinclair of Ayth, aganis Laurence Bruce of Cultemalindie,
      as followis—

Sewentlie, The said Laurence, under pretence and cullour of
nichtborhood, quhair the use was that the haill parochin, callit ane
Scathald, payit for the vnlaw of swyne worting, callit Swyne Ruting, xl
s., he hes compellit ilk man in the parochin to pay to him thairfoir
thre zowpundaleis throw the haill mayneland; quhilk extendit in ane zeir
in the mayneland by the Yles to thre hundreth zopindales, to our vttar
heirschip and wraik.

  The Inhabitaris of Zell, Fetlair, and Unst, befoir specifiit, sworne
      and examinit upon this Sewint Article, deponis as followis, that
      is to say—

In Unst there is xxi scatlandis, vtherwayis callit Scathaldis. The
Laird, haldand Court at Sca, in Unst, inquirit giff thair was ony swyne
ruting in that Yle. The ordour of punissing of swyne ruting be the law
of the cuntrie is this; Quhen ony man compleins upon hes nichtbor for
ruting up of his corne or his medo with the swyne, the assyiss, after
the probatioune and tryale tane of the scayth that is done to the
complenar, decernis him in amendis, outher of corne or gerss, according
to gude conscience, sa far as the scayth is provin; and giff it be the
Kingis land that is ruted, the unlaw of the law that fallis to the
sheriff is thre merkis Zetland payment, viz.—ane dolor; and gif it
pertain to the kirk or outhale men, the Kingis unlaw is the less. And
giff na man compleins upon swyne ruting, it aucht not to be tane up be
way of Granderie. Zet nevartheless, the Laird, contrair the law and
practik of the cuntrie, put it up as ane article of the Granderie. And
quhen the assyiss was requyrit to sit and decern thairupon, the haill
honest men of the Yle refusit and past of the assyiss; zet
notwithstanding, Thomas Boyne, the Lairdis awin man, with his clerk and
strangearis that was placit on the assyiss, maid furth ane decreit
thairupon, and decernit ilk scathald within the said Yle to pay to the
Laird thre dolors for the swyne ruting, quhilk the Laird gart poynd fra
the Commownis. For payment of the quhilk the puir Commownis was
compellit to sell thair ky to the Duchemen for half pryce, becaus thai
had na reddie silver. The soum that the Laird gat wranguslie thairthrow
in the said Yle, extendit to thre scoir thre dolors; quhilk scaythit the
Yle, be ressoun of the small pryce that thai gat for thair guddis to the
valor of ane hundreth dollors and mair, as thai tuik upon thair
conscience. And sic as had not ky to sell, war constranit to sell their
land out at the grund, to get silver to outred the said unlaw.

The Inhabitaris of Fetlar foirsaid ar conforme to the depositioun of
Unst; and thai grant and confessis that thai have payit for ten
scatlandis contenit in their Yle, in the same maner as Unst hes done, to
the Laird for the swyne ruting, but dome or law xxx dolors; and for lack
of reddie monie was constranit to sell thair guddis and landis far
within the worth, lyk as the men of Unst hes deponit.

The Inhabitaris of Zell, knawand that the Laird wald have had ane dome
of thaim of swyne ruting at his Court haldin thair, supponit to be na
better handlit nor the other twa Yles was, they war faine to aggrie with
him, in case he suld have put thame to ane grittar Intendment; swa that
for ellevin scathaldis that is within that Yle, thai payit him xxxii
dolors: And giff the Laird causit ony dome to be maid thairupoun, the
men of the Yle that sat upon the assyiss affirmis, that thai consentit
nevar thairto.

The Parochinaris of Dunrosnes, sworne and examinit upon this Sewint
Article, deponis, That thair was not ane in that parochin, puir nor
riche, that had samikle as ane gryiss, and culd not quyt the samen of
swyne ruting, bot he was poyndit for thre zopindalis; quhairas thai
allege, that thai ar grittumlie wrangit by the rest of Zetland, for in
uther parochinis and yles he tuik bot for everie scathald thre dolors,
bot in this parochin he gart everie man particularlie pay thre dolors;
and for payment thairoff their gudis and geir war comprysit, meikle
inwith the avale, quhilk was to thair double hurt; and the sowme that
the Laird gat furth of the said parochin, for this unlaw of swyne
ruting, is calculat amangis thame to extend to ane hundreth and four

The Parochinaris of Delting and Scatstay, Burray, Trondray, Quharff, and
Godberwyk, sworne and examinit upon this Sewint Article, deponis, That
becaus thai hard wourd of the exorbitent unlawis that was tane up in
utheris parochinis, sic as Unst, Zell, Fetlar, and Dunrostnes, foir feir
thairoff thai slew thair haill swyne, quhen thai war out of ply, that
they suld not be unlawit thairfoir; quhilk has done them grait scayth.

The Parochinaris of Tingwale, sworne and examinit heirupon, deponis,
That thair was na swyne haldin with thame, except Erasmus of Watbustar,
and Laurence of Hammersland, quha for twa gryseis that they had,
componit and payit betwixt thame ane dolor thairfoir to the Laird.

The Inhabitaris of Brassay, sworne and examinit thairupon, deponis, That
for feir of the rigorus handling that thai hard tell was usit upon their
nichtbouris be the Laird, thai had slain doune all thair swyne; except
Nichole Johnstoun of Congasettar, quha for ane swyne quhilk he had that
did na harme to any nichtbour, his kow was tane, at comand of the Laird,
be Andro Giffurde, and sald, and the pryce thairoff delyvirit to the
Laird, na dome nor law passand thairupon.

      befoir the Regentis Grace and Lordis of the Secreit Counsale, be
      Arthour Sinclair of Ayth, aganis Laurence Bruce of Cultemalindie,
      as followis—

Auchtlie, The said Laurence continuand in his oppressioun, quhairas be
the auld custome of our said cuntrie that for breiking of nichtbourheid,
the haill parochin, callit the Scattald, payit fyve gudlingis, now he
compellit ilk man in the parochin to pay for the said unlaw, fyve
gudlingis, quhilk will extend to grit sowmes, to the grit hurt of us,
the Inhabitantis of the cuntrie.

  The Parochinaris of Quhytnes and Weisdale, Nesting, Lunasting, and
      Quhailsay, examinit and sworne upon this Aucht Article, deponis—

That the ordor is, amangis nichtbouris that dwellis within ane scathald,
gif ane brute be rasit upon thame, and the faltor cannot be found out,
quhen thai ar all put to acquittance, and quha that failzeis to be quyt,
becummis convict in ane domeraw, to be payit amang sa mony as is unquyt
coniunctlie, ilk man his pairt; neuirtheless, thir parochinaris deponis,
That the Laird in his last Court, haldin at Quhytnes, chargit ten
houshaldis for scoulding, that is to say, for ane sclander and brute
that was rasit upon sum of the town, quham thai culd not get knawlege
off, to quyt thame of scheip that wantit. Quhilk acquittance was ordanit
be Olaw Sinclair, Fowde of Zetland for the tyme, and lay deid and
sleipit, quhill now in Hervest 1576; at quhilk tyme the Laird of
Cultemalindie waknit the samyn, and tuik fra everilk ane of the ten
houshaldis fyve gudlingis, quhilk is the haill sowme of ane domeraw,
extending in the haill to fiftie gudlingis; quhairas the haill ten
houshaldis aucht and suld have payit bot fyve gudlingis amangis thame
all, giff thai had failzied acquittance: Off quham sum was on lyve, and
sum was deid, zet he gart the airis of thame that was deid mak payment.
The names of the ten houshaldis are—Jacob in Scairane, Thomas of
Girdilsta, Hutchain of Branxhammersland, Erasmus of Watbustar, Nichole
of Catfirth, Henrie of Catfirth, Magnus of Crown, Ereik of Strandfurde,
Magnus Andersoun, Erasmus of Wathsettar. The men of Nesting, anent this
Article, deponis, That the officiar pundit everie ane of thir foirsaid
persounis for ane domeraw, and tuik of thame attour that to himselff of
ilk man, ij s. Scottis. And thai affirme that thair is twa of the ten
lyand under the danger of punding, and not poyndit as zett for this

      Regentis Grace, and Lordis of the Secreit Counsale, be Arthour
      Sinclair of Ayth, aganis LAURENCE BRUCE of Cultemalindie, as

Last of all, the said Laurence hes continewalie, sen hes entrie in our
said cuntrie, zeirlie, and ilk zeir, usit to tak up dittayis, usit
justice courtis, callit be us Grandraiffes, quhilk was never usit of
befoir, bot ilk sewin zeir, thairthrow oppressing us with all kynd of
tyranie and wrang, and compelling us to giff and delyver to him our
gudis and substance in grit quantitie, in sic sort, that we ar
altogidder put to grit povertie and heirschip; swa that thair is na
natioun under grittar slaverie and oppressioun be the meins foirsaid nor
we ar, and will be compellit to leiff our cuntrie desolat of the pepill
and laboraris, to seik our habitatioun in sum forane natioun, without
your Grace and Lordships provyd sum haistie remeid.

All the Inhabitaris of Zetland foirsaid, ressauit and sworne, and
examinit befoir the Commissionaris, deponis all in ane voce upon this
Last and Nynt Article, That the same is trew, and affirmis, that not
onlie the Laird tuik up the Granderie zeirlie, bot at ilk Court that he
held, bayth in the Mayneland and Yles. And for the better understanding
of this terme of Granderie, thai defyne the samyn to be ane law,
quhairby ane previe dittay of all faltis and crymes committit or done
contrair the comown law, quhilk suld be tane up be ane generale inqueist
of the maist honest men of ilk paroche and yle ans in the sewin zeir,
giff neid be, and na oftar. Bott the Laird, sen hes entres, hes abusit
this law be the continewale and daylie using thairoff at everie Court
haldin be him; be the quhilk not onlie is the criminale persounis
punissit, bot alswa the innocent are grivouslie wrangit and opprest

First, Be the frequent using of the samyn, contra the custome and
consuetude of the cuntrie.

Secundlie, That the said previe dittay beand tane, he will permit na
probatioun to be led thairupon, but the parteis indytit ar haldin
convict, ewin as probatioun had bein led and ressauit thairupon.

Thridlie, The dittay quhilk suld have been giffin up be ane generale
inqueist of honest men, is tane up be him and his clerkis in previe
maner, of the parteis enemeis and ewilwillaris; quhairthrow sum are
spulzeit of thair haill gudis and geir, and of thair honestie and fame,
and vther sum componis with him, for feir of thair lyff, at his plessur.

Ferdlie, Thair is ane branche of this law of Granderie, callit Sculding,
that is to say, ane brute or sclander of thift, pykrie, or sic uther
crymes, rasit by the deid of ane single persoun in ane parochin or yle,
quhairoff na probatioun can be had quha is the committar thairoff, in
that case the haill nichtbouris within that pairt of the parochin or yle
are generalie put under acquittance of the said brute; and swa quhen
they cum to offer thair acquittance, it is ofter refusit nor resavit be
the Laird; and giff this first acquittance beis not admittit nor
ressavit be the Laird, thai pay thair unlaw thairfoir to him, and than
ar thai put to the second hiear acquittance. Quhilk seindill or never is
ressavit be the Laird, be ressoun the first less acquittance was not
ressavit nor admittit, and swa ar thai pundit for falzeing of the second
acquittance in the tripill of the first unlaw, and syn put to the hieast
and last acquittance; quhairin, giff thai failzie and beis not quyt,
thair haill guddis and geir ar confiscat, or ellis thai man compone
thairfoir with him, and swa the multitude of innocent persounis ar
punist wranguslie for the offense of ane trespasser; and becaus this law
of Granderie is ane meins and way to spulzie honist men of thair
substance, thairfoir he usis it the ofter at everie Court zeirlie haldin
be him in the cuntrie.

  HEIR ENDIS THE GENERALE COMPLAYNTIS, giffin in in Bill befoir the
      Regentis Grace and Secreit Counsale, be Arthour Sinclair of Ayth,
      aganis LAURENCE BRUCE of Cultemalindie, and the Probatiounis led
      AND PARTICULAR, not contenit in the said Bill, bot giffin up to
      the foirsaid Commissionaris be the Inhabitaris of Zetland within
      specifeit, efter thair arryving in Zetland; with thair
      probatiounis led thairupon, place, zeir, month, and dayis
      respectivé above specifiit.

In the first, Thair is ane dewitie, callit Leanger, quhilk the Comownis
of Zetland payis zeirlie, followand thair wadmell, quhilk extendis to
four Dence quhytis, or ane calff skin, with everie xxiiij cutteill of
wadmell. Bot the Laird, sen his entress, hes compellit thame to pay to
him, throw the haill cuntrie, for everie Dence quhyt, quhilk is thre
halfpennies Scottis, ane babie, or ellis ane calff skin, quhilk is four
tymes alsmikle as they war in use to pay befoir his entress: Quhilk
thing, be ressoun of the uniuersalitie and pretendit perpetuitie, is ane
intollerable oppressioun.

The quhilk new impost and oppressioun, the haill number of the
Inhabitaris of Zetland within specifiit, ressauit and sworne the dayis
respectivé befoir rehersit, hes testifiit, deponit, and verifiit to be
of treuth, and ar all in ane voce thairupon conforme.

Secundlie, The haill Comownis within specifiit, ressauit, sworne, and
admittit upon the complaynt of the wrangus ressait of the ule, proponit
be the auld Lawrichtmen of the cuntrie, deponis, That according to the
use and consuetude of the cuntrie, ane just Bramer barrell, quhairin
thair ulie is ressavit, suld contain na less nor xlviii cannis of ulie:
Quhilk can suld be largear of quantitie nor the content of liquor that
is put thairin, and suld be markit with ane plowk on ilk syde, within
the superior part, under the mouth thairoff: Quhilk plowkis is the just
messor of the can that the ulie suld be fild to, and not transcend the
samyn; and quhen thai fill it to be put in the barrell, it suld stand
upon ane just ewin erd, and fild quhill the plowkis swome equalie, and
na hiear. Bot now, sen the Lairdis entress, he hes maid his can sa grit
with the quhilk he ressavis the ulie, swa that xxxiv cannis, or xxxvi at
the maist, fillis the barrell, and that be ressoun his can wantand
plowkis, quhen it is fild is not set ewin upon the erd, as it suld be,
bot in ane tummell standand in the bung of the barrell; and swa they
fill the can at ilk tyme, quhill it rin our neir ane copfull or thairby,
quhilk passis in the barrell with the canfull; and swa be the wrang
messor and wrangus hand ressavand, thai ar opprest and spulzeit attour
the ferd part of thair righteous ulie dett, or thairby.

Thridlie, The auld Lawrichtmen of the cuntrie compleinit, quhair the
Fowdis of the cuntrie furnist, in tymes bygane, the barrales that
ressavit the butter and ulie quhilk the Comownis payit, or ellis, quhen
thai causit the Comownis furniss any barrales of thair awin to that
effect, the Fowdis gaiff thame allowance and payit thame thairfoir. Bot
now the Laird of Cultemalindie, sen his cumming to the office of
Fowdrie, hes compellit thame zeirlie to furniss barrales upon thair awin
expenss, without ony maner of allowance, or payment of the haill butter
and ulie that thai pay in dewitie to the King zeirlie; quhairintill the
Comownis ar gritlie hurt and opprest as affoir. The haill Comownis of
Zetland within contenit, ressauit and sworne the dayis respectivé befoir
rehersit, hes testifiit, verifiit, and deponit this Complaynt and
Article to be of trewth, all in ane voce.

Ferdlie, It was hevelie lamentit and complenit be the said auld
Lawrichtmen of the cuntrie of Zetland, that quhair the Laird of
Cultemalindie, sen his entres, hes rasit ane new exactioun upon the
cuntrie, quhilk was never tane of befoir be na Fowde, of certane oxin
and scheip zeirlie furth of ilk parochin at the tyme of the haldin of
the lawting. The Inhabitaris of the cuntrie within contenit, ressauit
and sworne the dayis respectivé before rehersit, examinit upon this
Article, deponis as followis—

And first, The Parochinaris of Quhytnes and Weisdale testifiis, that the
Laird compellit the men of this parochin to pay ilk zeir of twa zeiris
to him, quhen he com to Tingwall or Scalloway, ane ox and twelff scheip,
and the uther twa last zeiris thai payit bot sax scheip; quhilk wrang
custome is broucht up be him upon thame of new, and was never upon thame
of befoir.

The Parochinaris of Brassay, concerning this Article, testifiis, that
the Laird causit thame to pay to him ilk zeir, sen hes entres, ane ox
and twelff scheip, by geiss, hennis, fische, buttir, and eggis, but ony
payment or allowance thairfoir, except this last zeir, quhairintill he
requyrit na sic thing of thame for nocht; quhilk was never ane dewitie
of befoir, but rasit be him, and gart poyind thair gudis for payment of
the samyn.

The Parochinaris foirsaid of Nesting, Lunasting, Quhailsay, and
Skerreis, declaris, that the Laird compellit thame to pay ilk zeir, sen
his entres (except this last zeir), ane ox and xxiiii scheip, quhilk is
ane wrang custome and ane grit oppressioun, for thai gat na payment
thairfoir; and that it was never in use in ony tyme preceding to be
payit, nowthir to Fowdis nor vtheris, that had charge and care our the
cuntrie of Zetland.

The Parochinaris of Burray, Quharff, Trondra, and Godberwyk, affirmis,
that the Laird tuik of thame, ilk zeir of twa zeir, ane ox and twelff
scheip, quhilk was ane wrang custome, and was never in use to be tane
affoir in ony mannis tyme.

The Inhabitaris of Zell affirmis, that ilk zeir of thre zeiris the Laird
hes causit thame pay to him ane ox and twelff scheip; and Unst affirmis
thai payit in lykwyiss as Zell. And Fetlair testifiis, that the first
zeir of the Lairdis entres, thai payit to him ane ox and twelff scheip;
the second zeir, ane kow and twelff scheip; and the third zeir, becaus
the deid come amang the gudis of the Yle, he relevit thame of the ox,
and tuik bot twelff scheip: Quhilk extortioun and wrangus custome the
Laird layde doun this last zeir, feirand giff he continewit in it, that
he wald be complenit upon.

The Inhabitaris of Delting and Scatsta affirmis, that the Laird causit
thame, ilk zeir of thre zeiris, to pay him ane ox and twelff scheip
furth of their parochin, quhilk was never in use to be tane of thame of
befoir. Northmaven affirmis, thai payit conforme to Delting of oxin and
scheip. Wawis testifiis, thai payit in thre zeir thre oxin and thre
doissoun of scheip. Sandsting and Aythsting testifiis, that in twa
zeiris, the Laird causit thame to pay to him, ilk zeir thairoff, ane ox
and twelff scheip; the third zeir, becaus thai had not ane ox to giff
him, he tuik xxiiii scheip of thame; and the last zeir, he tuik certain
scheip of thame, to the number of sax, sevin, or aucht, and promisit
payment thairfoir, bot as zet is unpayit.

The Inhabitaris of Dunrosnes declaris, that the Laird tuik fra thame ilk
zeir of thre zeiris, ane ox and twelff scheip, bot the last zeir he tuik
nathing thairoff fra thame.

Fyftlie, It was complenit be the said auld Lawrichtmen, that the Laird
had compellit the haill countrie of Zetland to pay to him ane taxatioun
in the first zeir of his last entres, allegeand that it was to sustein
his suddartis upon. And thai that wuld not pay the samyn, he poyndit
thair gudis and geir thairfoir, and giff thai maid obstacle, thai war
dung be the officiaris, and thair geir tane fra thame thairfoir; amang
quhom ane honest man, callit Andro Michelsoun, dwelland in Hollibustar,
tennent to the Kingis Grace, was dung be the officiar, Harie Bruce,
becaus he wald have stayit his geir fra poynding for the said taxatioun.

  The haill Inhabitaris of Zetland within mentionat, ressauit, sworne,
      and admittit, zeir, place, and dayis respectivé before said, hes
      testifiit upon this Article of the Taxatioun, as followis—

Quhytnes and Weisdale, being bot puir fischarmen, payit in the said
taxatioun twelff dolouris and ane halff. Brassay, beand bot to the
number of xxx puir fischaris, payit contrair thair will, in the said
taxatioun, twelff dolouris. Nesting, Lunasting, Quhailsay, and Skerreis,
payit in this taxatioun threttie dolors, nevertheless thai war
constrenit, as thai affirme, to feid the Lairdis suddartis all the tyme
thai war in the said cuntrie. Tingwall affermis, that the Laird and his
servand Harie Bruce, tuik in this parochin for this taxatioun, fiftie
dolouris. Burray, Trondra, Quharff and Goldberwyk, affermis, that the
Laird gart this puir parochin pay in this taxatioun, twentie dolouris;
and war nocht David Clerk of the Brintyland and vtheris, merchandis,
lent and fristit thame the dolouris, thair ky and oxin had been poyndit
thairfoir, to thair utter wrak. Zell payit in this taxatioun to the
Laird thre scoir of dolouris. Unst payit to the Laird, be the handis of
Barthole Strang and Thomas Cowtis, in this taxatioun, fyve scoir of
dolouris. Fetlair payit heirintill be the handis of James Sutherland,
till Andro Mowat, quha ressavit in the Lardis name twentie dolouris.
Delting and Scatsta payit in this taxt to the Laird, elewin pund
Scottis. Northmaven, this parochin hes giffen up particularlie, be ilk
man in our name, quhat thai payit, quhilk beand calculat befoir the
Commissionaris, extendit that this parochin payit to thre scoir four
dolouris. Wawis affermis, that thai payit to the Laird in this taxation,
threttie dolouris. Sandsting and Aythsting declaris, that the Laird had
fra thame in this taxatioun, threttie-four dolouris. Dunrosnes affermis,
that thai payit to the Laird in this taxatioun, thre scoir of dolouris.

Saxtlie, It was complenit be the said auld Lawrichtmen, that quhair for
ilk thre zeiris gerssowme of ane last of land, thai war wont to pay fyve
dolouris, quhilk is callit the Eistercowp and Landsettertoun; but now
sen the Laird began to be Chamberlaine, he has tane for ilk last of land
sewin dolouris and ane halff, quhilk is of everie last of land within
Zetland, in thre zeiris, twa dolouris and ane halff dolour mair nor
richt, or ever was payit of befoir, quhilk extendis everie thre zeir to
thre hundreth dolouris and better, of new augmentatiounis of gerssowmes.

The haill Inhabitaris of Zetland befoir mentionat, sworne and examinit
upon this Article, zeir, place, and dayis respectivé affoirsaid, hes
testifiit this Article to be of trewth; and notwithstanding of this new
augmentatioun of gerssowmes, thai got not the takkis kepit and observit
quhill all zeiris that thai haue payit for be outrun. For quhair as thai
haue payit twa gerssowmes in maner foirsaid, for sax zeir takkis, he
will not suffer thame to bruik the last saxt zeir, bot compellis thame
at the begynning thairoff, to tak new takkis agane, and pay new
gerssowmes, and swa makkis the last zeir of the formar assedatioun to be
the first zeir of thair new assedatioun; and swa thai pay dowbill
gerssowmes for ane zeir, togedder with the wrangus augmentatioun

Sewintlie, It was complenit be the saidis auld Lawrichtmen, that quhair
it is the use and consuetude of the cuntrie quhen ony man or woman
deceissis, haveand landis, gudis, or geir, to be divydit amangis the
airis, the Underfowde (quhilk is the baillie of the parochin or yle),
accumpanyt with certane honest nichtboris, cummand to the principall
houss quhair the persoun deceissit, callit the Heidbull, for making of
the divisioun of the said airschip, callit ane Scheind, gat for his fee
of the haill gudis nyne schilling Dense, quhilk is sax schilling
Scottis, or thairby. But now sen the Lairdis entres, he hes dischargit
the Underfowdis of thair offices and fee in that case, and hes tane in
place of the said nyne schillingis Dense, ane sax schilling ox, quhilk
is the maist sufficient ox that can be had, to him selff of everie
persounis gudis that deceissis.

The haill Inhabitaris of Zetland above specifiit, sworne and examinit
upon this Article, all in ane voce deponis the same to be trew; and in
particular, Laurence of Air, personalie present befoir the
Commissionaris, testifiit be his haill nichtboris, that quhen his fader
Olaw of Eister Scail deceissit, the Laird compellit him to pay ane ox
pryce, viz.—thre dolouris, for his scheind fee.

Auchtlie, It is lamentit and complenit be the auld Lawrichtmen of the
cuntrie, that quhair the Inhabitaris of the cuntrie are hevelie and
exorbitantlie opprest sen the Lairdis entres to the office of Fowdrie,
in wrangus taking up of unlawis of the absentis fra courtis, not beand
summound nor dempt thairto, bot onlie callit upon the stembirth, thair
lawfull sonzeis oft tymes repellit; for of the law and practik of the
cuntrie, the absent fra the Lawting, aucht and suld be unlawit in xl s.,
quhilk was payit in Olaw Sinclair’s tyme with twa dolouris. This Lawting
is the principall court haldin in the cuntrie in the haill zeir, to the
quhilk all men aucht to cum, bayth Mayneland and Yles, that hes land and
heritage or grit takkis of the King. Bot the Laird in his tyme hes tane
up, without respect of persounis, of all absentis fra the Lawting, for
the said xl s. thre dolouris and ane gudling. And quhair currant courtis
was haldin be the Fowde in ony parochin or yle, the absentis therefra
war unlawit in four merk Zetland payment, quhilk was payit with saxteen
shillings Scottis in Olaw Sinclair’s tyme. Bot now the Laird compellis
thame to pay twa dolouris thairfoir. The haill Inhabitantis aboue
specifiit, ressauit, sworne, and examinit upon this Article, deponis the
same to be of veritie.

Nyntlie, It is hevelie lamentit be the said auld Lawrichtmen, that
quhair the Laird of Cultemalindie, sen his cuming in the cuntrie, hes
grevouslie opprest thame be flitting and furing his servandis and gudis,
bayth be see and land, throu his our frequent travelling, and pairtlie
throw transporting of him, his servandis and gudis be see, in langar
distance and space nor use and wount was befoir, with the perill of
thair lyveis, and without meit and drink, or payment thairfoir.

  The haill Inhabitaris above specifiit, ressauit, sworne, and admittit,
      zeir, place, and dayis respectivé beforesaid, deponis and
      testifiis this Article to be trew, as particularlie followis—

First, The men of Brassay foresaid, deponis, quhen the Laird passis in
threw the cuntrie (quhilk he dois our oft) he causis warne all the
Parochinaris to cum with thair horss and boitis to fure him. And albeit
that thair cum horss and botis sufficient to staik him and his cumpanie,
zet gif ony man beis absent with thair horss or boit, he causis poynd
thame for xl s. Zetland payment, for the quhilk he takis up thre
dolouris, but dome or law. And this Yle of Brassay complenis that the
Laird compellit thame this last zeir to transpoirt his gudis, extending
to thre lastis of butter and vther geir, fra the Yle of Brassay to
Swounburgh, quhilk is twentie myles of seagait, upon thair awin
expensis, but ony allowance or payment; quhilk thai never war in use to
do of befoir to ony Fowde, and was in danger of thair lyveis in thair

The Parochinaris beneith Tingwall, that is to say, betwixt Tingwall and
Scalloway, ar complaynters on the Laird: Quhair as he compellis thame to
fure him, his servandis, gudis, and geir, ferdar be twelff myle of see,
nor ever thai war wount in uther Fowdis tyme to do; and quhair as thai
war bot thrysse in the zeir wount with flitting and furing, and gat
allowance and payment thairfoir, now he compellis thame continewalie to
flit and fure him and his geir as he hes ado, but ony payment or
allowance; quhairthrow thair boitis ar brokin and thame selffis put to
uttar wrak. And sicklyk thir Parochinaris of Tingwall complenis upon the
Laird, quha compellis thame to flit the haill gudis, baith of King and
Bishop, of the North Yles, that cummis to Laxfurde fra the same, to
Scalloway; Quhair as thai war never chargit thairwith of befoir, bot was
weill payit for the same. But now giff thai refuse to carie ane barrell,
thai ar compellit to pay xl s. to the Laird, quhilk is tane up fra thame
in thre zopindales and ane halff.

Burray, Quharff, and Goldberwyk, and Trondray, deponis, anent the furing
of the Laird, his cumpanie and gudis, and unlawis uptaking thairfoir,
thai ar conforme to Brassay; affirmand, that thai ar compellit till
leiff thair lynes in the sey, and to flit and fure by use and wount, but
ony maner of allowance, or meit or drink, giff they suld die for hungar.
And mairattour, thai complein upon the Laird and his doaris, that at ane
tyme quhen certane boitis of Burray, Goldberwyk, Quhairff and Trondra,
war lyand at Havera at fisching, the Laird send his servandis fra
Scalloway to thame, and tuik fra everie boit, but payment making, twa
fisches, ane keilling and ane ling, quhilk was done upon ane Tysday, and
upon Setterday thairafter, they cummand with thair fische to Scalloway
to thair merchandis, the Lairdis servandis tuik agane fra ilk boit twa
fische, keilling and ling, and wald giff nathing thairfoir, the number
of the boitis that the fische was tane fra, war ten or twelff. And the
boitis of Burray and Trondray, at sundrie vther tymes, cumand to
Scalloway, war spulzeit of thair fische be thame. And giff thair had
bein bot twa fische in the boit, thai wuld have ane of thame.

Delting and Scatsta declaris, that quhair thai war in use and wount of
befoir to pay thair scatt and landmales of butter and ulie at Laxfurde,
bot thir twa or thre zeiris sen the Lairdis entress, he hes causit this
parochin to bring thair butter and ulie to Northmaven; and thair
ressavis and packis, and thairefter compellis thame to transpoirt the
same, or samekle vther mens gudis thairfra to Laxfurde, quilk is xxx
myles or thairby of dangerus passage of seis, and gettis nether payment,
allowance, meit nor dreink thairfoir. And the Commownis desyris to be
relevit of this oppressioun for Goddis saik.

Northmaven concerning this Article, deponis, That the Laird causit ane
croce pass throw thair parochin to warne boitis to flit him and his
companie our to Zell fra Collafirth; and becaus the boitis come not sa
sone as he desyrit, he directit furth his precept, but ony tryale
taking, or dome or law passand thairupon, and causit poynd thair
persounis following, viz.—Laurence of Gluss ane angell nobill, ane
curchie quhilk cost twa gudlings, with ane pair of wovin hoiss; not the
less this man was present thair, reddie to flit and fuir upon his
nichtbouris boit, as his nichtbouris testifiit. Lykwyis, Johne in
Barrasettar had his boit present to serve, zet he was poyndit, and payit
twa zopindales to the Laird. Gregorius in Burrowland had his ox prysit
thairfoir, and to releiff him, payit twa dolouris to the Laird. Williame
in Clodasettar for the same, payit alsmikle wadmell of gud clayth,
quhilk suld have bein his wyff ane kirtill, with hir curchie, because he
had na vther geir. Olaw in Houle for the same payit ane horss. Into the
grund betwixt Collafirth and Lyen, thair is fyve sindrie houshaldis,
quhairoff thair was twa widois quha had thair hussbandis perissit upon
the see aucht or nyne dayis of befoir, quha wantit servandis; zet the
Laird gart poynd thame, the ane wantit her kow, and the vther wantit
alsmekle clayth as extendit to ane kowis pryce: Quhilk twa women for
povertie scalit thair housses, and had never ane houss of thair awin
sensyn. Magnus in Quyfirth, quha flittit the Laird and his servandis
twyiss that day our the firth, becaus he was not sa sone reddie in the
morning as thai wald, or he was cummit hame fra the last flitting, his
kow was tane, and to freith her, he behuvit to pay twa dolouris. Johne
in Lyen, quha had his horss and his boy flittand the Laird that day, zit
neuirtheles his kow was tane for ever away be the Lairdis servandis.
Nichol in Swynasettar haveand his horss and boy with the Laird that day
in lykwyiss, zet his kow was tane fra him for ever. Johne Oxnasettar,
for the same, was compellit to pay twa dolouris to the Laird. Thomas in
Colafirth, for the same, had his kow poyndit be the Lairdis officiars,
and wantit her for evir. Andro in Colafirth siclyk wantit his kow

The Parochinaris of Wais, concerning this Article, deponis, that quhen
the Laird come throw thair parochin, giff the werst boy that was in his
companie gat not ane horss to ryde upon, the Laird wald gar thame that
refusit pay xl s. thairfoir of Zetland payment. And the Lairdis boyis
that buir gunnis or vther grayth, compellit the honest mennis servandis,
and giff thai had na servandis, compellit thame selffis to beir the
gunnis and grayth, sa far as thai had to pass. Magnus Erasmussoun in
Kirkagairth, and James Bie in Stopness, complenis upon the Laird,
quhairas he causit thame to fuire frae Wais to Papay at Burray, certane
lammis, quhairoff twa deit be the way, for the quhilk the Laird gart
thame pay twa lammis agane. And becaus thai zeid not at the first
charge, he poyndit fra ilk ane of thame ane kow.

Dunrosnes deponis anent the unlawis for flitting and fuiring with horss
and boitis, within thair parochin, that the Laird causit poynd thir men
following, albeit at thair horss was ridden with his companie,
viz.—Magnus of Watbustar was poyndit and payit thre dolouris and halff
ane gudling. Olaw in Clapwall was poyndit and payit thre dolouris and
halff ane gudling. Magnus in Wastous was poyndit and payit twa dolouris
and halff ane gudling. Erasmus of Flattabustar was poyndit and payit
thre dolouris and halff ane gudling. Olaw of Flattabustar was poyndit
and payit thre dolours and half ane gudling.

Tenthlie, It is complenit be the foirsaidis auld Lawrichtmen, that
quhair affoir the Lairdis entres, be the law and consuetude of the
cuntrie, the unlaw of blude, efter the quantitie of the hurt, was dempt
be the discretioun of the assyiss, the twa part to the pairtie, and the
thrid to the sheriff. But sen the Laird was Fowde, he hes gart decerne
the unlaw to the sheriff, and nathing to the partie. And giff ony thing
be dempt to the partie for the blude, thai get na payment thairoff, nor
can get out the decretis to obtein the same be, for na payment fra his
clerkis. nowther in actiounnis of blude nor na vther actiounis ciuile or
criminaile, without grit difficultie. And attour, it is hevelie
compleint be the said Lawrichtmen, that quhen and how oft the Laird
depairtis furth of the cuntrie toward the south, he leiffis na depute
nor deputis behind him to minister justice in the cuntrie, and to keip
gude rewill and ordor thairin till his returning, bot dischargeis all
underfowdis in thair particular parochinis, of executioun of thair
offices, until his returning, as said is. The quhilk Article and
Complaynt the haill multitude of the Commownis above specifiit,
ressauit, sworne, and examinit, deponis to be of veritie.

Ellewintlie, It is lamentit be the said auld Lawrichtmen, that quhairas
of the law and consuetude of the cuntrie in all tyme precedand the
Lairdis entres, the Comownis payit thair dewities, callit Wattill, upone
thair Lawrichtmanis bismeyre, be ane nummer and calculatioun callit
merkis. Quhairas the Laird now compellis thame to pay the same in
gudlin-taill upon the Dutche bismeyre, quhilk is thre or four merkis
mair nor just; and swa of everie sewin merkis of wattill that thai pay
in dewitie, thair is nyne schillings Dense mair tane fra thame nor thai
aucht to pay. Quhilk alswa provin be the foirsaid Comownis.

Twelftlie, It is lamentit be the said Lawrichtmen, that quhairas befoir
the Lairdis entres in the office of Fowdrie, gif the Duchemen lay upon
ony grund, and held buyth thairon, the man that aucht the grund, or had
the same for dewitie paying, was wount to gett for the grundleiff ane
barrell of beir, or ellis ane barrell of meill. But sen the Lairdis
cumming, he has tane the same to him selff, and will giff thame na
recompenss thairfoir. And siclyk, quhair affoir the Lairdis cumming, at
the cowp settein of everie schip and merchannis wairis thairoff, it was
the use that the Comownis of that pairt or yle gat ane cowp barrell of
beir at the said cowpsetting. Bot the Laird, sen his entres, at dyvers
places and tymes, hes dispenst with the Duchemen thairfoir, and causit
the Comownis to want the said cowp barrell. And how oft that ever thai
have gottin it, quhen the beir was drunkin, the Laird tuik the tume tre
to him selff, quhilk was ay the Comownis awin of befoir. Quhilk
compleint the Comownis foirsaid hes proven to be of trouth.

Item, Quhair as the haill Comownis of the cuntrie, quhair thai wantit
servandis, and culd get nane to fee in the yle or parochin quhair thai
dwelt, throw derth and scarssness thairoff, in that case thai had
libertie to pass to vther yles and parochinis of the cuntrie quhair
aboundance and sufficient number of servandis was, and fee servandis to
thair lawbour all tyme befoir the Lairdis cumming thair.
Notwithstanding, sen his cumming to the office, he has inhibit thame,
under pecuniare panes, to do the same, to thair grit hurt and scayth.
And quhair thai contraveine his said inhibitioun, he takkis up the said
pane with all rigor; lyk as he did to James Spence, indwellar in Zell,
becaus he past furth of Zell to Fetlair, and feit ane servand thair, and
broucht him hame with him, and fra tyme the work come in hand, the
servand was tane fra him, and he compellit to pay to the Laird thre
dolouris thairfoir. This provin be Edwarde Odsta in Fetlair, Williame
Magnusson in Unst, Williame Spence, and David Spence in Zell, quha
affirmes that thai saw the silver delyverit in Magnus Nubiebakis zairde
in Zell.

Item, It is complenit be the maist part of the Comownis of Zetland, that
thai ar oppressit and wranguslie handilit be the Kirkmen and thair
factoris, and specialie in the paying of thair corne teynd; that quhair
thai wount of auld use and custome to pay for thair corne teynt,
equivalent thairoff in fresche fische or hard butter, ulie, or sic vther
mony wourthis as thai might furniss, because of the scarsitie of cornis,
quhilk thai payit zeirlie in maner foirsaid. Quhill laitlie that new
vicaris and factoris are placit in the cuntrie, sic as James Hay, Mr.
William Lauder, Barthol Strang, Andro Giffart, quha hes abolesit and put
away the auld use and consuetude of payment in maner foirsaid, and
compellis thame now to pay butter and ulie allenarly upoun the grit and
new augmentit weyis and messouris, or ellis pryces according to thair
plessure, quairthrow thai ar hevely hurt and dammageit zeirlie.
Thairfoir thai desyir that thai be brocht to the former use of payment,
or ellis to ressaive fra thaim zeirlie, at dew tyme, thair corne teynd
itself in the scheiff. And gif thai refuse to do that, that thai may
have libertie to teynd thair cornis be honest men, and sett it aseid,
and intromitt with their awin stok.

  HEIREFTIR THE PARTICULAR COMPLEINTIS followis, giffin in befoir the
      Commissionaris, place, zeir, and dayis respective before

In the first, the Comownis of Fetlair—to wit, Nicholaus Patersoun in
Crocebustare, Magnus Spailman, Olaw Gregoriussoun, John
Patersoun—complenis upon the Laird, qua tuik fra thame for ane pece of
see-drewin tre, of twa faddoumis lenth, estemit be estimatioun and
valour of nyne s. allanerlie, the sowmes respective following, quhai
nowther summond, callit, nor dempt. First, Nicholaus Patersoun foirsaid,
was poyndit and compellit to pay fyve dolouris to the Laird; his brother
Johne in Crocebustare was compellit to pay aucht dolouris. Magnus
Spailman was compellit to pay aucht dolouris. Olaw Gregorsoun and his
twa brotheris war compellit to pay amang thame nyne dolouris. This
cleirlie provin be the haill rest of the nichtbors of the Yle foirsaid.

Item, The Comownis of Fetlair efter following, hevelie menis and
complenis, that quhair thair haill sustentatiounis and lyvis fude
(specialie in the tyme of winter, quhen thai dar not travell to far seis
in fisching, for storms of weder upon thair small scaffis) consistis on
thair fisching within the bayis and soundis adjacent to the said Yle;
and quhair thai had libertie in all tymes precedand the Lairdis entres
to the office of Fowdrie, to fisch thair but interruptioun or impediment
of all Fowdis, his predecessoris, with small lyne, gritlyne, or
handlyne, at thair electioun and plessour. Notwithstanding the Laird of
Cultemalindie, in this present zeir of 1576 zeir of God, hes tane fra
the persounis following, the sowmis of monie respective heirefter
specifeit, because thai usit thair auld use and consuetude of fisching
in the places foirsaid in the tyme of winter, quhen thai micht not
travell to far seis. That is to say, fra Magnus Burgar and his boitmen
fyve gudlinis, Magnus Gregorsoun and his cumpanie fyve gudlings, Johne
of Northdaill and his boitmen fyve gudlinis, Thomas of Vailzie and his
companie fyve gudlinis; Thomas Navar and his mairow fyve gudlinis,
Ninian of Sandis boit fyve gudlinis, John of Burghis boit fyve gudlinis,
Nichole Scot in Snaburgh fyve gudlinis, Edwarde of Odstais boit fyve
gudlinis, David Frakasettaris boit fyve gudlinis, Stephane in Ureis boit
fyve gudlinis, and Patrik of Ureis boit fyve gudlinis; quhilk fyve
gudlinis is ay payit be twa dolouris and ane halff, or than ane angell
nobill, and bot twa or thre puire men at the maist in ilk boit that
payit the said unlawis. And hes maid ane new statute for all tyme
cumming, that nane sall fische thair in tyme of winter, with small lyne
or grit lyne, under the pane of pecuniar sowmes. And swa sen the makking
of the said act, na man dar fische thair, and it stud thame on thair
lyveis fude. This provin be the residew of the said Yle befoir

Item, It is complenit anent ane unlawful inovation and custome raisit up
be the Laird, sen his cumming in the cuntrie, upon certane the
inhabitaris of Zetland, quha had schippis of thair awin, and travalit
thairwith to Noroway, and broucht hame tymber and boitis to furneis the
cuntrie for the payment; the Laird allegeand that thair was ane act maid
that nane suld sell boitis nor tymber bot upone ane certifeit pryce, and
allegeand that thai had brokin the said act in selling deirar thair
boitis and tymber to the Comownis nor the said allegit act proportit.
And the persounis heirefter following affirmis, that thair was never ane
act maid, at the leist was never intimeit to thame. Notwithstanding the
Laird compellit thame to pay to him, in name of penaltie and
transgressioun of his said allegit act, the sowmes of monie following,
without dome or law—to wit, fra Peter Neisbett twelff dolouris, fra
Henrie Spence nyne dolouris, and fra Johne of Windeis ane barrell of
buttir, pryce thre angell nobillis and ane halff. This provin be the
haill nichtbors foirsaid of the saidis thre Yles of Fetlair, Unst and
Zell, to be of veritie.

Item, Johne Fresser, indwellar in ane litill yle, callit Hoscasay,
appropriat to the Fowdrie of Zell, haveand twa merkland in heritage in
the Yle of Fetlair, and becaus he was absent fra ane court haldin be the
Laird in Fetlair, and gat na warning thairto, nor zet was he in use to
anssuer thair, bot at the court of Zell. Nevertheless the Laird tuik his
ox fra him thairfoir, na dome or law giffin furth thairupoun. This
confessit and affirmit to be of trouth be the haill inhabitantis of
Fetlair and Zell foirsaid, before the Commissionaris.

Item, Henrie Spence in Zell, had ane servand, quhat at his masteris
comand past to his masteris scheip cruiff, and markit his masteris
lambis upon his merk. And of eventime thair was ane lamb of the vicaris
in the cruiff, quhilk lamb the servand unwittandlie markit upon his
masteris merk; and immediatlie thairefter he perseiveand that it was the
vicaris lamb, schow him thairoff, and offert to the vicair ane unmarkit
lamb thairfoir; and this was done xxx zeirs syn or thairby, quhen Olaw
Sinclair was Fowde; the said Olaw thairefter cummand to the Yle, gettand
knowlege of the same, tuik tryale thairoff, and fand that it was done of
negligence ignorantlie, and thairfoir remittit it. Nevertheless the
Laird enterand to the Fowdrie, and gettand knawlege thairoff, compellit
the said Henrie to giff to him thairfoir, threttie dolouris, but dome or
law. This provin to be trew be the haill Comownis foirsaid of the Yle of
Zell, present befoir the Commissionaris.

Item, Nicholaus of Culzevo, and Garth of Ulsta, complenis upon the
Laird, that at his first entrie, he compellit thame to tak the office of
Underfowdrie of Zell upon thame conjointlie, and gart the said Nicholaus
giff him thairfoir sax dolouris, and the said Garth ane silver spune
quhilk coist him aucht gudlinis; notwithstanding, quhen ever thai held
court or decreit in executioun of thair office, thai war dischargit by
my Lord of the office; and immediatlie efter thair discharge, thai past
to the Laird, and desyrit to have had thair zopindaleis and silver spune
agane, quhilk he refusit. Bot the zeiris thaireftir, be offerit to mak
thame Underfowdis, quhilk thai refusit, because of the first discharge,
swa that thai want the silver and spune as zet, and can get na
recompense thairoff.

Item, lykwyiss Edwarde of Odsta, indwellaire in Fetlair, complenis upon
the Laird, that he wald have compellit him till have acceptit the office
of Underfowdrie of Fetlair upon him, quhilk he refusit, becaus he was
not qualifeit thairfoir; and to eschew the Lairdis yre in refusing of
the same, till have his favor, and be relevit of the said office, he
gart the said Edward giff him ane ox. Thir twa concerning the office of
Underfowdrie provin befoir the saidis Commissionaris be the nichtboris
of the saidis Yles befoir specifeit.

Item, Olaw in Hellzness, indwellar in Fetlair, haiffand licence of his
nichtbouris to pasture his gudis in his gerss, tedderit sum gudis of his
thairintill; and the Underfowde cummand by upon accident, persavit his
gudis in his nichtbouris grund, maid arreistment upon thame, na
intimatioun thairoff maid to the said Olaw that aucht the gudis, nor zet
to his servandis that kepit thame; and the Laird gettand knawlege that
thair was arreistment maid, but calling or pursewing of the said Olaw
thairfoir, and na dome nor law passand thairupoun, poyndit him, and
compellit him to pay fyve dolouris for the said pretendit arreistment.

Item, Magnus Johnsoun in Uredaill, Williame Johnsoun in Tow, Erasmus in
Sinbustar, Gelis in Burgh, Magnus Erasmussoun, indwellaris in Burray,
and Margrett Yirewing, ane puir wedo, indwellare in Trondra, complenis
upon the Laird and his officiar, James Espline, quhay at his cumand hes
chargit ilk ane of thame to pay thre dolouris to the Laird, becaus thai
came not to cast peitis, till ane rewme callit Papill. And they
allegeand that thai war never in use of sic service, nor was not callit
ordorlie, nor dempt in the said pane, thairfoir refusit to anssuer the
said officiar thairoff. Nevertheless, by order of law, the said James
Espline, at the Lairdis comand, has poyndit fra the said Magnus
Johnsoun, Williame Johnsoun, and Erasmus in Sinbuster, fra ilk ane of
thame, thre zopindales, and the vther thre ar lyand under the daunger of
poynding for alsmekle, ilk person. And the foirsaid persounis hes provin
be the rest of the nichtbouris of the said Yle of Burray within written,
that thai ar poyndit in maner foirsaid, and als hes causit to call
certaine of the assyiss that the Laird had upon his Court to declair
giff sic thingis was dempt be thame or not, befoir the Commissionaris,
viz.—Swaine in Brindista, Marten in Sound, Magnus in Sound, John
Thomassoun in Sound, Nichole Hutchissoun in Eister Quhairff, Nichole
Swainsoun in Utrabustar, Magnus in Uradaill, Olaw Yirewing in Troindra,
David Sinclair in Hugoland, James Sinclair in Northbustar, Robert in
Clett, Richart Sinclair in Branxaclett, Magnus Symoundsoun in Burgh, and
Magnus in Brek: Quha beand sworne upon thair grit aythis, deponit, that
thai never voted anent the unlaw foirsaid of peitis casting, nor had
never decreit, pronouncit, nor red thairupon.

Item, Christopheir Johnsoun beand giffin up in ane Granderie in
Northmaven, for the allegeit uptaking of ane pece see-drewin tre, he
beand than, at the upgiffin thairoff, dwelland in Delting, ane vther
parochin: For the quhilk causs it was referred to the Court haldin in
Delting be the Laird. And at the Lairdis cumming thair, the said
Christopheir beand callit thairfoir in Court, was decernit to quyt him
thairoff with the Lawricht ayth. The maner quhairoff is, the sheriff
sall chois ane honest nichtbour that knawis his lyff, and him selff ane
vther to stand on ilk hand of him; and first, he sall quyt him selff be
his ayth, and than the vther twa ar requyrit giff thai will sweir that
it is ane trew ayth that he has maid: Giff thai afferme it trew, than is
he quyt. Bot giff thai or any of thame refuiss, than of the law for
samonie as refusis him, he man pay ane merk Zetland payment, quhilk is
the third part of ane dolour. And becaus this Christopheir was furth of
his awin parochin, quhair the allegeit deid was done, and culd get na
acquittance in the parochin quhair he thair dwelt, desyrit to be
refferrit hame to Northmaven quhair he dwelt of befoir, to the quhilk
the Laird wuld not condescend. And giff he had failzit acquittance, and
had had na excuiss thairfoir, zet he suld have payit na mair bot twa
gudlingis of the law, quhilk at the hieast is xvi s. Scottis. Bot the
Laird by all ordor of justice, compellit him to pay sax dolouris
thairfoir. And this provin be the nichtbouris foirsaid of Delting.

Item, Olaw in Yllisburgh, being on the sei in his boit, fand ane fische
callit ane Homeir, quhilk he drew to the land upon his awin heritable
grund, and tuik furth the liver thairoff, and made it in ulie, for the
fische thairoff ganis for naething. The Laird gettand wit thairoff, he
callit him in the Court thairoff in Nesting, in this present zeir of
[God] 1576 zeiris, and layde him to the law thair; and siclyk at ane
vther Court thairefter, haldin in Nesting; and in bayth the Courtis he
was decernit free, and nathing dempt to the Laird thairfoir, as thai
that sat upon the assyiss declarit. Zet nevertheless the Laird causit
his officiar, James Espline, to poynd sewin ky of the said Olawis
thairfoir, and for releiff of thame, he was constreinit to giff to the
Laird four angell nobillis, or ellis to have wantit his ky. This provin
be the haill number of the thre parochinis foirsaid.

Item, Nicholaus Johnsoun beand upon the assyiss in ane Court haldin at
Sandness this last zeir efter Lammess, said to Harie Bruce, that quhen
he votit upon the assyiss, he had mair mynd to wyn geir nor he had of
his saull. And Harie Bruce takand witness of his speiking, summound him
to the Varding, to underlie the law for the same, and pursewit the man,
swa that he was glayde to aggrie with him, and be quyt of his cummar,
and gaif him sax gudlinis. And swa the honest men of the cuntrie that is
upon the assyiss dar not voit bot as the Lairdis men requyris thame. And
this provin be the haill nichtbouris of Papay.

Item, Anent the complaynt giffin in be Magnus in Quhytnes in Wawiss,
upon the Laird of Cultemalindie, that quhair he compellit him to tak
certane land agains his will, efter that his takkis was run furth, and
becaus he wuld not wone the land, the said Laird causit Laurence of
Grunzevo cum till hous, and poynd fra him twa oxin and ane kow. Quhilk
oxen war prysit to nyne dolouris and the kow to ane dolour. And becaus
he was indigent of silver (except ane dolour that he had, quhairwith he
lousit the kow), the oxen was tane fra him for ever, swa he wantit at
that tyme the sowme of ten dolouris be plaine oppressioun, this present
zeir 1576 zeiris. And this provin be the haill parochin of Wawiss within

Item, It is hevelie lamentit and complenit be Magnus Leslie of Ayth,
upon Laurence Bruce of Cultemalindie, his servandis and complices, that
quhair thai come to his houss of Ayth in Brassay, in the month of
Januar, the zeir of God I^m V^{ct} lx        zeiris, he beand in his
awin houss with his wyff, servandis and bairnis, under sylence of nicht,
his wyff beand bot aucht dayis efter her delyverance lyand in chyldbed
lair, and thair put him selff, his wyff, bairnis, and servandis furth of
the houss and biggingis; and placit his servandis and suddartis thairin
under his principall captain, Thomas Boyne, quha was the slaar of
Alexander Duff in Strabogie, and of Patrik Wynrahame in Zetland, to the
number of xv or xvi suddartis and boyis, quha remanit still at the said
houss als lang as the Laird was in the cuntrie, be the space of nyne or
ten dayis; and in the meyntyme speindit and waistit his meit, dreink,
fische and flesche, buttir and cheis, and all vther provisioun that was
within his houss. And at thair depairting, spulzeit and away tuik with
thame fra his houss and feildis that was thairin, or that thai culd
appreheind, that is to say, twa barralis of new aill, and ane half
barrell of auld aill, ane barrell of malt of nyne setteins wecht, ane
barrell of ait meill, and ane hogheid of beir meill, foir lesspundis of
butter ryndit with hinnie, two coigges full with vther four lesspundis
of salt butter, aucht lesspundis of talloun, fyve scoir of maid candill,
extending to twa lesspundis of talloun, sewin reistit muttounis, ane
reistit swyne, that coist twa lesspundis of butter, tane and spulzeit
furth of his ness be thame xv wedderis, sax gryiss, sax or sewin foulis
that was gangand about the houss, ane ox quhilk thai slew, quhilk coist
foir dolouris, ane barrell of salt beiff, with certane hard fische, xvi
elnis of keltar, ane pair of dowbill blankettis, ane covering of ane
bed, ane dublitt of cramesie of the said Magnus, ane black cowal quhilk
coist ane crowne of the Sonne, thre cristale stains set in silver, of
the Dutch fassoun, ane kettill of copper, ane cag with twelff pundis of
saip, with thre flahattis of came, certain tyn cannis and tiem stoupis,
half ane barkit hyde, ane cag with certane hunnie in it, and this by
crusis, piggis, stalis, coppis and bikkaris, togidder with all his
servandis clothing, sic as cassies, breikis, doublatis. And attour all
this, or ever the Laird wuld suffer him to returne hame agane to his
awin houss, he compellit him to borrow fra his nichtbouris twentie
dolouris, quhilk Harie Bruce ressavit fra him at the Lairdis comand. And
quhen he, his wyff, barnis, and servandis returnit to thair awin house,
thair was na maner of meit, dreink, clothing, nor vther geir left to
sustein thame, quhill he behovit to borrow fra his nichtbouris wyff ane
lesspund of meill to sustain his wyff and barnis on. Mairattour, the
said Magnus complenis upon the said Laird, that quhair he had ane
steding, callit Sater, lying in Brassay, of four merk and ane half land
perteining to the Kingis Grace, quhilk he possessit xxiv zeirs or
thairby, for the quhilk he had payit males, gerssowmes, and all
dewities, conforme to the rentale thairfoir, lykas he had payit for the
gerssowm thairoff to the Laird in the lxxii zeiris of God, for the thre
zeiris thairefter to rin, twa dolouris: nevertheless, quhen he had
gottin bot ane zeiris crope thairoff, he put him furth of the same, and
tuik new gerssowm fra his broder, Andro Leslie, thairfoir, ejectand the
said Magnus and enterand his said brother thairto, quhilk he hes wantit
sensyne, to his grit dammage and scayth; desyris that the Regentis Grace
and Lordis of Secreit Counsale wuld causs him be recompensit of his
scaythis above writtin.

This complaynt is provin to be of treuth in all pointes, be John Smyth,
Magnus Lawrencesoun, Christopheir in Grindiscall, Thomas in Kirkbustar,
Duncane Inksettar, Erasmus Robertsoun, and John Robertsoun, with the
rest of the inhabitaris of Brassay. Bot thai ar incertane of the geir
and quantitie thairoff befoir specifeit, contenit in his houss the tyme
foirsaid, bot thai knaw perfytlie, that thai usit all that was thairin
at thair plessure, and at thair depairting, left nathing thairin but
bair wallis.

Item, Ane Bill of Complaynt giffin in be Andro Hawyk of Scatstay, upon
the said Laurence Bruce, as the particulair thairoff beiris in it selff.

Item, Ane Bill of Complaynt giffin in be Barthole Strang of Voisgarth,
aganis the Laird, as the tennour of the same beirs in it selff.

Item, Ane Complaynt giffin in be Andro Fairlie upon the Laird, as the
Bill thairoff proportis in it selff.

Item, Ane Complaynt giffin in be Gawane Gadie, as his Bill maid
thairupon proportis.

Item, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


In the first, The said Arthour complenis upon the Laird of
Cultemalindie, that quhair he haveand commissioun of . . . to sett thre
zeirs takkis of the landis perteining to the Lordis of Noroway, and
kirklandis within the boundis of Zetland, and to ressave the males and
dewities thairoff indurand the saidis thre zeiris; nevertheless, the
said Laurence hes compellit the Comownis of Wawis to delyver to him the
wadmell of anno lx fyftein zeiris dewities of the saidis landis, quhilk
was inwith the saidis thre zeiris of the saidis Arthouris takkis, and
thairthrow hes violentlie ejected him fra his possessioun, nowther
schawand commission, powar, nor charge to do the same to the tennentis
nor compleinar foirsaid. Quhilk is cleirlie provin, that the Laird has
intromittit thairwith, as said is, be Christopheir Laurenceson,
lawrichtman, Johne Mudie, Andro Mudie, indwellaris in Wawiss, Williame
Phip, reidar at Wawiss, with the utheris parochinaris of Wawiss, befoir

Item, The said Arthour complenis upon the said Laird, that quhair he
send his officear, John Smyth, with the Underfowde of Dunrosness, callit
John Smyth, and allegeand Olaw Langescole to be awand him ane lesspund
of butter, for the quhilk he causit thame to tak away ane kow of the
said Arthouris: And efter the said Olaw Langescole past to the Laird,
and maid payment to him for the said lesspund of butter, and desyrit to
have had hame the kow to Arthour agane; quhilk the Laird refusit to
delyver, bot immediatlie gart slaa hir, and eit hir, becaus sche was
fat. This complaynt is provin to be of veritie be the said Johne Smyth,
underfowde of Dunrosness, Gilbert Coupland, Olaw in Langascole, John
Lestoun, with sundrie vthers of the parochin of Dunrosness.

Siclyk, The said Arthour complenis agains the said Laird, that quhair he
and his foirbeairs hes had the tak and rowme of the land lyand in the
parochin of Dunrosness, extending to xxxii merk land, with auchtein merk
land in Ayth, quhilk landis payit never gerssowme in na mannis tyme
befoir the Lairdis entress in the said cuntrie, and that be ressoun the
same was and is unit, and payit with the land males zeirlie;
nevertheless the said Laird hes comprysit the said Arthouris ky and oxin
to the avale of auchtein angel nobillis for sax zeiris wrangus gerssowme
thairoff, by and attour the zeirlie males and gerssowmis unit and annext
and payit togidder as said is, but any decreit of law, or consent of the
said Arthour had thairto, to his grit hurt and scayth. This complaynt
provin be Gilbert Coupland and John Smyth, underfowdis of Dunrosness,
James in Brek, and Matho Sutherland, with vther dyuers of the parochin
of Dunrosness.

Mairattour, the said Arthour complenis upon the said Laird; quhairas he
haiffand the heritable titill of the landis of Sanct Ninian’s Yle, lyand
within the parochin of Dunrosness, sett the samyn to his tennent,
Laurence Lesk, for males and dewtie paying usit and wount, the said
Laird, but ony titill or richt, send his clerk, Robert Zule, and John
Smyth, underfowde foirsaid, to the said Yle, quhair the said Laurence
dwellis, in this last symmer 1576, and thair compellit and perforce
causit him to pay to thame, in the said Lairdis name, the males and
dewities of the said Yle of the crop and zeir of God 1575 zeiris,
extending to fyve angell nobillis; and thairthrow spulzeit him of the
said males and dewities, aganis equitie and richt. It is provin be the
said Johne Smyth and Gilbert Coupland, underfowdis of Dunrosness, quha
was at the delyverance thairoff, and be the said Laurence Lesk, that
payit the same, and vtheris in the said parochin, dwelland thairabout,
that the Laird causit his clerk and underfowde intromitt with the same,
as said is.

Item, The said Arthour hes producit ane Bill of Complaynt, quhilk, as he
affermis, was presentit befoir to the Regentis Grace in Edinburgh,
aganis the said Laird, quhairof the tennor followis—

“MY LORD REGENT, Unto zour Grace maist humblie menis and complenis I
zour servitour, Arthour Sinclair of Ayth in Zetland, upon Laurence Bruce
in Cultemalindie, That quhair, in the month of Apryle last bypast, efter
I had remanit certaine space in thir partis of this realme, in doing my
lefull affairis and bussiness, I past hame to my native cuntrie,
beleveand na harme nor scayth to have bein done to me be ony persoun.
Nochttheless the said Laurence, upon the auchteint day of July next
thairefter, come, accompanit with ane grit number of armit men, to the
bankis of Scalloway, in Zetland, quhair I was for the tyme, on sett
purpoise to have invadit and pursewit me for my slauchter; and causit
sundrie of his servandis, to that effect, ly at wait for me in the hie
way; quhairoff I beand advertissit by sum of my awin fryndis, was
constranit, for feir of my lyff, to pass bak agane fra the schoir to ane
place four myle thairfra, callit Quhytness. And the said Laurence beand
certifeit thairoff, and findand him self disappoyntit of his first
wickit interpryiss, rageand in his malice, and thirstand for my blude,
come, accompanit as said is, to the dwelling houss of Magnus How,
underfowde of Quhytness, bodin in feir of weir, with pistollatis,
swourdis, daggis, and vtheris waponnis invasive; and thair serst and
soucht me at twelff houris in the nicht, for my slauchter; lyk as thai
had slane me indeid, giff I had chancit to have bein thair for the tyme:
Committand thairthrow maist crewale and manifest oppressioun, aganis all
law and order of justice, &c., as at mair lenth is contenit in the said

Efter the production of the quhilk, the said Arthour, for probatioun of
the samyn, producit at Tingwall, the fourteenth day of February 1576,
the witnesses efter following—

And first, Andro Hawyk in Scatsta, of the age of xl zeiris or thairby,
unmareit, ressauit, sworne, and examinit upon the poyntis contenit in
the formar bill, anent the invading of Arthour Sinclair be the Laird of
Cultemalindie and his complices, deponis the first part of the bill to
be trew, _causam scientiæ reddens_, because the said deponar was present
the time contenit in the bill, in companie with the said Arthour, quhair
as he saw James Bruce, accompaniit with xi or xii men of the Lairdis
(him selff beand in Johne Umphrais houss at the bankis also), about
aucht or nyne houris affoir none; quhair Arthour Sinclair and his
cumpanie met with the Archden of Zetland, and James Hathrew, burges of
Edinburgh, quha bad the said Arthour eschew the Laird of Cultemalindie
and his cumpanie, or ellis thai wuld set upon him or his depairting
furth of Scalloway. Nevertheless Arthour passit forward; and James
Hathrew seand that James Bruce and the Lairdis servandis war cummand
forward upon Arthour, the said James Hathrew past to James Bruce, and
tuik ane grip of him be the hand, and stoppit him to gang fordwart. And
the deponar sayis, that ilk ane of them that was with James Bruce had
thair pistollatis in thair handis, reddie to schuit: And in the meyntyme
Arthour past by, and eschewit thame at that tyme in Scalloway. Depones,
_Plus nescit in causa, nisi ex relatione fidedignorum_.

William Sinclair, sone to umquhill Henrie Sinclair of Stroholme, of the
age of xviij zeiris or thairby, ressauit, sworne, and examinit, deponis
upon the first part of the complaynt within writtin, conforme to Andro
Hawyk _in omnibus, eandem causam scientiæ reddens_. Examinit upon the
second part, tuiching the Lairdis cumming to How in Quhytness, deponis,
that he was with Arthour that nicht in Stroholme, and hard tell the
maner how that the Laird and his servandis come to Magnus Howis houss,
under sylence of nicht, to seik Arthour. And deponis, how that thre of
the Lardis servandis come to Stroholme that same nicht, and enterit in
the hall thairoff, and sperit at the women servandis (efter that Arthour
and the deponar was past to thair bed togidder) quhair thai lay, quha
tauld that thai lay in the barne. And efter that thai sperit quhat syde
of the bed that Arthour lay on; and thair eftir departit and zeid thair
way; _et plus nescit in causa, nisi ex relatione fidedignorum_.

Henrie Halcro, officiar, indwellar in Scalloway, is conforme to Andro
Hawyk; and deponis mairattour, that he saw the number foirsaid of men
with James Bruce, and sum of thame puttand on thair knapscais, and
prepairand thame for tuilzie, quhen thai saw Arthour at the bankis of
Scalloway. And that the Laird in the meyntyme was in John Umphrais houss
thair, at the banx.

Malcolme Halcro in Walsettar, of the age of xxiij zeiris or thairby, ane
honest marreit man, ressauit, sworne, and examinit upon the first part
of the bill, deponis, that he saw the Laird of Cultemalindie, his
servandis and cumpanie, past to Scalloway to persew Arthour Sinclair.
Bot he hard the Archden of Zetland and utheris famous men say, had not
bein James Hathrew, thair had bein slauchter betwixt the Laird of
Cultemalindie and Arthour in Scalloway banx. And ferdar he knawis not of
the first part. Examinit upon the second pairt of the complaynt, he
deponis, that the Laird sowpit in Henrie Halcrois houss, and efter
suppar, his bed beand maid thair, and him selff reddie to have past to
the samyn, ane fallow, callit Meikle Johne, cuik to the Laird, come to
him affoir the dore, and said to him, Sir, ar ze passand to zour bed,
and Arthour Sinclair proposit to invade zou this nicht, quha will gar
zou walk quhen ze suld sleip; and is in Quhytness in reddines to cum
upone zou? Than the Laird answerit and said, Giff it be swa, I had
rather waikin him or he suld walkin me. And than incontinent the Laird,
James Bruce, Alexander Kinkayde, and vtheris his servandis, to the
number of ten or twelff men, beand enarmit presentlie with daggis,
swordis and culveringis, depairtit fra Henrie Halcrois houss, towart
Magnus Howis houss in Quhytness. And Arthour Sinclair not beand thair,
returnit agane, about the dawing of the day, to Henrie Halcrois houss,
to his bed. And he deponis, that the Lairds men enterit in Magnus Howis
houss, and licht candillis, quhilk he saw gangand in and out. And he
deponis, that he saw Magnus of How and his wyff, Gartro Paulis douchter,
cum furth sark allane, followand the Lairdis servandis, and telland
thame that Arthour was not thair.

Gartro Paulis douchter, Magnus in Howis wyff, of the age of lx zeiris
and mair, ane honest woman, ressauit, deponis conforme upon the secund
part of the complaynt to the deponar immediatlie above writtin. And
mairattour, that quhen sche come furth of her awin houss, followand the
Lairdis servandis, that was within hir house, seikand Arthour, that sche
saw the Laird him selff standand besyde the kaill zairde, and hard the
Lardis servandis say to the Laird, Arthour is not heir.

Nichole Magnassoun, ane husbandman of xl zeiries or thairby, ressauit,
sworne, and examinit, deponis, that he was passand to the see twa houris
affoir day. Quhair he met sax or seiven servandis of the Lairdis passand
to the foirsaid houss. It was sa mirk that he culd not ken the Laird be
ane vther man. Thairfoir he knawis not giff he was in that companie or
not. But quhen he come fra the see agane, the gud man of the houss and
the haill familie of Magnus of How tailed him that the Laird and his
serwandis had bein thair, seikand Arthour Sinclair.

Thomas Marteynsoun, ane youth of twentie zeiris of age, or thairby,
_solutim_, ressauit, sworne, and examinit, deponis, that he was lyand
sleipand in his awin bed in his awin houss, quhilk is ane part of the
lugeing of Magnus of How . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . to the houss
quhair . . . . and drawin swourdis in thair handis, and come till his
bedsyde and wakint him, and gart him ryss incontinent, and wuld not
suffer him put on his sark befoir he raiss, and said till him, Knave,
can thow not tell quhair Arthour Sinclair lyis? And he said, he saw him
not within ane twelfmonth bypast. And thai said agane, Knaiff, thow
knawis he come heir zistrein? He answerit, Be my pairt of hewen, I
nowther saw him nor hard him. And he affirmis, that incontinent thai
tuik Robert Petersoun, and gart him beir the candill aganis his will,
throw the haill lugeing, fra houss to houss, with drawin swourdis in
thair handis, and soucht Arthour Sinclair, and sperit ay efter him. Ane
of the mennis names that had the drawin swourdis, was callit Lang Johne,
the Lairdis cuik, and the vther man he kend not. Thay wald not lat him
gang furth with thame, thairfoir he saw not the Laird, nor rest of his
companie, except thir twa foirsaid.

Henrie Halcro in Southsetter, underfowde of Tingwale, ane mareit man of
xlviij zeiris of age or thairby, of gude fame, ressauit, sworne, and
examinit, deponis, that the Laird sowpit that nicht in his houss, and
depairtit fra the samyn. And is conforme to his broder, Malcolme Halcro,
to the Lairdis and his servandis passing our the dyk to the hill toward
Quhytness, and that he was in purpoiss to pass thair, to seik Arthour
Sinclair, to invade him with bodelie harme, _et cetera nescit nisi ex
relatione aliorum_, because he past not with him to Quhytness. Bot
knawis that the Laird and his companie returnit to his houss in the
morning, about day licht, quhair he sleipit ane whyle in the bed
preparit to him at his departing. Bot the Lairdis servandis tauld him
that the Laird and thai soucht Arthour in Quhytness that nicht, and gat
him not.

Commissionaris within expremit, CONTRAIR LAURENCE BRUCE OF
CULTEMALINDIE, quhais probatiounnes precedis, Zet thair remanis ane grit
number of PARTICULAR COMPLAYNTIS not contenit nor written in the process
of this buik, bot in the Particular Complayntis and Billis writtin and
giffin in be the particular persounnis complenaris thairintill contenit.
As sum complaintis and billis giffin in be the Yles of Unst, Zell,
agains Williame Sinclair of Underhoule, sone of umquhill Olaw Sinclair
of Avera. Sum complayntis and billis zet aganis the Laird of
Cultemalindie. Sum complayntis and billis aganis the Kirkmen of the
cuntrie. Sum aganis Harie Bruce and James Bruce. Sum aganis Robert
Sinclair of Ness, and mony uther complayntis of ciuile actiounis, throw
lack of executioun of justice: As at mair lenth is contenit in the
particular billis and wrytingis maid thairupoun, and giffin in to the
said Commissionaris, to be reportit be thame to the Regentis Grace and
Secreit Counsale, quhilk the saidis Commissionaris hes omittit out of
this buik, becaus thai . . . . . . by the parties compleinant.

Upone the twelff day of Februar, the zeir and place foirsaid, the haill
multitude and number of the Comownis of Unst war examinit, quhilk
complenit upone the said Williame Sinclair of Underhoule, compeirit
befoir Maister Williame Mudy of Brekness, and Williame Hendersoun,
Dingwall pursevant, commissionaris, etc., quhilk maid fayth all in ane
voce, and alswa severalie the halie evangelis tuichit, be thair grit
aythis, that thai feirit and dred bodelie harme to be done to thame be
the said Williame, in respect and contemplatioun of thair particular and
singular complayntis of oppressioun maid be thame to the said
Commissionaris agains him. And thairfoir desyrit the saidis
Commissionaris to causs the said Williame Sinclair find unto thame
cautioun of lawborroiss of bodelie harme, that thai micht be scaythless
and harmless at the handis of the said Williame, according to justice.

Upone the fyfteint day of the said month the Commissionaris foirsaidis,
in respect of the premissis, chargit the said Williame Sinclair,
personalie apprehendit within the Archeden of Zetlandis lugeing in
Tingwall, in presence of Barthole Strang of Voisstgairth, Mr. Williame
Lawder, Vicair of Zell, Andro Hawik of Scatstay, Johne Denone, Vicair of
Delting, &c., to find sowertie and lawborrois to the Parochinaris of
Unst above writtin in speciall and in generale nominat to the said
Williame, of bodelie harme; and that be ressoun thai had maid fayth, the
halie evangelis tuichit, that thai dreid him bodelie harme for the
caussis above specifiit. The quhilk to do the said Williame denyit and
refusit, and depairtit without lawborrois and sowertie fund be him to
thame than and sen syne. Lat the Regentis Grace and Lordis of Secreit
Counsale find remeid heirupoun, as thai think expedient.

It is to be callit to remembrance, that efter the Laird of Cultemalindie
last depairting out of Zetland, he causit Robert Zule, court clerk to
him, with certane vtheris his servandis as witnesses, to pass throw all
the Yles and parochins of the cuntrie, with ane testimoniale in wryt, of
what tennor and forme it is uncertane to the maist part of thame that
put thair markis thairto, becaus thai culd not reid nor wryt. Zet
notwithstanding, the said Robert Zule persuadit ane number of the
Comownis, ruid, rusticall, ignorant and barbar peple, partlie be feir
and minacing, partlie be ignorance, to subscrybe and put thair markis to
the said testimoniale. The quhilk doingis maid to the Commissionaris at
the tryale of the veritie of the oppressiounis and complayntis writtin
in this buik, grit impediment in the begynning, be ressoun that the said
personnis that subscribit and put thair markis to the said testimonial
for defence of the samyn, not only refusit to declare the veritie thame
selffis of the foirsaid complayntis and oppressiouns, bot alswa
corruptit the rest of thair nechtboris that thai suld not declair the
veritie, but rathir justifie that testimoniale with thaim.

  The Commissionaris perseving and understanding the said impediment,
      corruptioun, and seductioun, chargit all thais that had
      subscreyvit and put thair mark to the said testimoniale, to
      depairt asyde, and remove thame furth of the cumpanie and presence
      of the remanent that had not subscreyvit and markit the said
      testimoniale, quhill thai war all examinat that had not ado

And swa the remanent multitude beand finalie examinit, and the matter
thairoff brought to ane end, the Commissionaris causit call affoir thame
the personnis following, that had subscryvit or markit the said
testimoniale, and reid unto thame the generale and particular
depositiouns of the haill multitude preceding, examinit upon the
Generale and Particular Complayntis; and requyrit thame efter the
audience thairoff, quhidder thai wald stand to the commoun and generale
depositiounis and testificatiounis of the remanent multitude of the
cuntremen ressauit befoir the Commissionaris, or to the narrative
contenit in the foirsaid testimoniale be thame subscryvit and markit.
The names of the personnis that subscryvit and markit the said
testimoniale, that come affoir the said Commissionaris, Peter in Bega,
within the parochin of Zell, Edwarde of Odsta, Nichole Patersoun in
Crocebustar, and James Sutherland, underfowde of Fetlair, indwellaris of
Fetlair. Nichole Hardwell, and Nichole Johnsoun, in name of his fader
Johannes of Caldbak, and Thomas Urwing, indwellaris the parochin of
Delting, Walter Hill, for him selff, and in name of John Ferquhair,
indwellaris in Unst, Christopheir Laurenceson, lawrichtman, indwellar in
the parochin of Wais, Johne of Murray, underfowde of Sandsting and
Aythsting, for him selff, and in name of his gudefather, Turberie
Steinzdaill, Patrik in Collafirth, Magnus in Sillivo, and Johne in
Sillivo, indwellaris in the parochin Sandsting and Aythsting, Johne
Smyth and Gilbert Coupland, underfowdis of Dunrosness, for thame
selffis, and in name and behalff of Williame of Flattabustar, and
Nichole . . of Aythsetter, Hendrie Halcro, underfowde of Tingwall, for
him selff, and in name and behalff of his gudefather, Thomas Johnsoun in
Laxfurde, and Jacob Tait indwellaris in Tingwall parochin, James
Sinclair in Northbustar, Erasmus Johnsoun in Papill, Henrie Tailzar and
Magnus in Brek, indwellars in Burray, quhilks . . requyrit in maner
foirsaid eftir thair knawlege of . . . . foirsaid, and of the veritie
thairoff . . . . . exceptioun or excusatione . . . . . thingis contenit
in the foirsaid testimoniale . . . . . dissonant and . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. the depositiouns of the remanent multitude of the Comownis
pre-examinit upoun the Generale and Particular Complayntis, and ratifiit
and approvit the said depositiouns to be of veritie. And protestit that
thair subscriptioun and marking of the foirsaid testimoniale suld not be
hurtfull, nocive, nor prejudiciall to thame, in case that the said
testimoniale suld appeir to be contrair the foirsaid depositioun, in
respect that thai, or the maist part of thame, war ignorant and
unleterit, and culd nowther wryt nor reid. And utheris had na mark bot
sic as Robert Zule maid of new in their names, and was all persuadit be
compulsioun and feir, out of ane lawting and comown assemblie of the
haill cuntrie, as thai depone suld have bein in sic casis, bot done
pryvatlie be pryvat persounnis in pryvat places, unsworne, to declair
the veritie, bot as it war _rogatus rogo_.

Item, fynalye, becaus the hail Comownis and Inhabitantis of Zetland hes
beine in tymes bygane, lyk as thai ar instantly, grevuslye rubbit,
oppressit, and spoliat of thair gudis and substance, be sic men as hes
borne and beiris authoritie and offices above thame, sic as
chalmerlanis, fowdis, underfowdis, officiaris and utheris, prevat
personis, bangstaris, pairtlie throw wrangus meit, messur, and handling
of thair dewities in the ressait thairof, pairtlie be wrangus and
negligent ministratioun of justice, and pairtlie be wanting of lauful
Lawrichtmen and Lawmen, quhilk the said cuntrie was wount to haiff, and
hes never gottin na relief thairoff, bot at sic tymes as the supreme
authoritie sendis Commissionaris to the said cuntrie, to tak tryall of
thair estaitt and conditioun for the tyme, quhilk thing thay lament hes
bein ouer lang betuix. Secundly, becaus the inhabitantis foirsaid are
puir men, and may not thairfoir, throw laik of expenss, travell to the
far pairtis of the realm of Scotland, quhar the courtis existis, to
lament thair oppressiouns and injuris, the distance of the way being so
remote and far of the sey. Thairfoir it is desyrit be thame that the
Regentis Grace and the Nobilitie may mak ane publick and perpetual
ordinance amang the actis of Parliament, that ewerie fourth or fyft
zeir, giff neid beis, . . . . . . . . . and send to Zetland affoir the
. . . . . and conditioun of the inhabitaris thairof . . . . . offensis
done to thaim . . . . and servandis beirand care and charge over thame,
and utheris privat persounis, cuntriemen and strangearis, sic as
Duchemen and Inglismen resorting and frequentyng in the said cuntrie,
zeirlie giffand and committand power to the saidis Commissionaris to
depois, destitute, and depryve all sic officiars beirand rule above
thame fra thair chargeis and offices, as sall be fund culpable, and
gilteous in the premissis, and throw thair demeritis sall be fund
worthie of deprevatioun and destitutioun of thair offices, quhatsomever
estait, conditioun, or degrie that thay be of, with satisfactioun to the
opprest: and to creat of new, and input in thair plaiceis sufficient men
of knawledge, godlie of conversatiounis and lyff, freyndis to the
cuntrie men, makyng confidence within the cuntrie; quhomto the opprest
as oft as necessitie requyris, may haif recourss for impetratioun of
justice. This the foirsaid haill inhabitaris of Zetland desyris the
Regentis Grace and the foirsaid Nobilitie, to perform for Goddis saik,
and the zeil thai beir to justice, according to the dewitie of thair
commissioun under God.

                                          Maister WILLIAM MUDY of
                                            Brekness, Commissionare to
                                            the process within written,
                                            with my hand.

                                          WILLIAME HENDERSONE, Dingwal
                                            Pursewant, Commissionar to
                                            the process foresaid, with
                                            my hand.

  The Copie of THE COMPLAYNT quhilk was givin in befoir THE REGENTIS
      Grace, be ARTHOUR SINCLAIR of Ayth, contrair the Laird of

“MY LORD REGENT. Unto your Grace and Lordis of Secreit Counsale, humlie
meins and lamentablie schewis I zour servitour, Arthour Sinclair of
Ayth, for myself, and in nam and behalf of the remanent Gentilmen and
Commonis and Inhabitantis of Zetland, That quhair that efter the cuming
of Lord Robert Stewart, feware of Orkney and Zetland, to the dominioun
of the saidis cuntreis, Laurence Bruce of Colpmalindy obtenit of him the
office of Fowdrie of Zetland. And schortlie efter the said Laurence
enterit to the possession of the said office, he himself, his servandis
and complices in his name, of his causing, vsit sic divers wrangis and
extortionis upoun us, contrair the lawis and auld custume of the said
cuntrie; and specialie, it was the auld use and custume of Zetland,
observit in all tymes bygane, that thair was ane discreit man of ilk
parroche, by the rest, callit the Lawrichtman, quha meisourit our
dewitie, callit Wadmaill, and weyit our dewitie of butter. And now the
said Laurence hes causit ane of his awin chesing to do the same,
contrair our lawis, to our grite hurt, in samekill that the said
Laurence hes continewalie, sen his entrie thairto in the month of May or
thairby, the zeir of God I^M V^c lxxi zeiris, uptaking land maill and
dewitie, callit Wadmaill, with ane wrang messour, swa that for ilk thre
scoir Cuttell quhilk we aucht to haif pait, he hes compellit us to pay
four scoir cuttell wadmaill, and swa hes augmentit us the fourt part of
our dewitie.

“Secundlie, The said Laurence hes compellit us to pay the dewitie of our
butter, on his wecht callit the Bismar for ilk tuelff lespound butter
quilk was pait of auld, fyvetene lespund, swa that we are compellit to
pay the fyvt part of our dewitie of butter mair nor ever was pait of

“Thirdlie, The said Laurence hes, sen his entrie foirsaid, compellit us
to pay our restis and dettis, and deliver him siluer zoupindaillis for
twa gudlingis, quhair as the same hes common courss in tymes by gane,
and was ressauit for thre gudlingis be all fouldis preceding this twa
hundreth zeiris bygane.

“Fourtlie, The said Laurence hes compellit the Duchemen and otheris
strangearis resortand to the cuntrie of Zetland, be quhome the haill
trafique of the said cuntrie consistis, to pay him alsmikle dewitie, be
way of brybrie and extraordinar impostis, as they wer wont to pay of
befoir to our Souerane Lord and his Fowldis, for his Hienes toll and
custume. Quhairthrow the said straingearis qua furnissit us all
victuallis, clayth, irne, hemp and vtheris necessars, are appeirand to
absteine fra trafique in our said cuntrie, lyik as the principall men of
thame hes els done, and that for the oppressioun committit upoun thame,
to our grite scayth, without remeid be maid in tyme:

“Fyiftlie, In his accustomed maner, efter his arryvaill in Zetland, with
fyfteine or sexteine armit men, cummis to the housses of us the
Inhabitantis of the said cuntrie, and remanis thairintill quhill our
victualis and provisiounis be speindit, compelling us to furneis him and
his company, for feir of grittar oppressiouns; and swa depairtis but
paiment of any expenssis and chargis maid be him and his dependaris to
us or ony of us, and that in maner of sorning and skafrie, to our wrak
and heirschip, we beand for the maist pairt all lawbouraris and

“Sextlie, The said Laurence, contrair the custume of our said cuntrie,
and lawis of this realme, hes at all tymes sen his entrie, causit
courtis to be fencit and haldin within the feriat and cloiss tyme of
hervist and vacance, for his particular profit: quhairthrow we micht not
wait upoun our hervist, for winning of our cornis, hay, and uther
necessaris to sustene us in tyme of winter: and lyikwyiss causit diverss
of his servandis and suddartis, quhilk ar not native nor indwelland men
of our cuntrie, to pass upon our assysses and inqueistis, contrair our
lawis and custumes, perverting thairthrow our haill lawis to his
particular comoditie.

“Sevintlie, The said Laurence, under pretence and cullour of
nechtbourheid, quhair the use was that the haill parrochine, callit ane
Skattell, pait for the unlaw of swyne worting, callit Swyne Rutting, xl
s., he hes compellit ilk man in the parrochine to pay to him thairfoir
thre zoupindaillis throw the haill Mayanland, quilk extendit in ane zeir
in the Mayinland by the Yles to thre hundreth zoupindaillis, to our
utter hership and wraik.

“Auchtlie, The said Laurence contenand in his oppressioun, quhair as be
the auld custume of our saidis cuntrie, that for breking of
nechtborheid, the haill parrochine, callit the Skattell, payit fyve
gudlingis, now he compellit ilk man in the parrochine to pay for the
said unlaw fyve gudlingis, quhilk will extend to grite sowmes, to the
grite hurt of us the inhabitantis of the cuntrie.

“Last of all, the said Laurence hes continewallie sen his entrie in our
said cuntrie, zeirlie and ilk zeir, usit to tak up dittayis, usit
justice courtis, callit be us Grandraffis, quhilk was never usit of
befoir bot ilk sevin zeir, thairthrow oppressing us with all kynde of
tirrannie and wrang, and compelling us to gif and deliver to him our
guidis and substance in grite quantitie, in sic sort that we ar
altogidder put to grite povertie and herschip, swa that thair is na
natioun under gritter slavrie and oppressioun be the meins foirsaidis
nor we ar, and will be compellit to leif our cuntrie desolat of the
pepill and lawbouraris, to seik our habitatioun in sum framit natioun,
without your Grace and Lordschips provyde sum haisty remeid.

“And we havand given in thir our poyntis of oppressioun and divers
utheris to our Maister, Lord Robert Stewart, and the same being provin
be us, the said Lord, of conscience, gaif the said Laurence vii^{ct}
merkis for his twa zeiris tak of the said fowdrie, to relief us of his
tiranny, quhilk was in anno lxxi zeiris.

“Beseikand heirfoir your Grace and Lordschips, for the reward of God, to
haif consideratioun of the premisses, and seeing we ar altogidder
depauperat, and hes not to susteine our expens to cum heirto to
complaine, that your Grace and Lordschips will tak sic order heiranent
that we may heirefter be relevit of sik tirranny and oppressioun, and
may dwall under the obedience of our Soverane Lord, as our predecessour
hes done in tyme bypast, conforme to the custume of our said cuntrie,
and lawis of this realme.

  “According to equitie and justice: And your Graces and Lordschips
      answer humlie we beseik.”

MUDY of Breknes, and WILLIAME HENDERSON, Dingwall Pursevant, to takk
tryale of enormiteis of Zetland.

“JAMES, be the grace of God, King of Scottis, to all and sundrie our
liegis and subdittis quhais knawlege thir our letteris sal cum, greting:
Forsamekill as We and our richt traist cousing JAMES ERLE OF MORTOUN,
Lord Dalkeith, Regent to ws, our realme and liegis, are informed of mony
hich attemptis, inordinat oppressiounis, and new exactionis dalie
committit upoun our peicabill and obedient subiectis, the Inhabitantis
of our cuntrie of Zetland, Quhilkis dwelling sa far distant frome our
residence and seit of iustice, can not alwyiss compeir and haif access
and mak thair Complaintis, nether can the treuth of the same Complayntis
be tryit in the south pairtis of our realme, without putting of a grite
number of our subiectis, inhabitantis of the said cuntrie that
necessarlie requiris to be inquirit and examinat, to greit and havie
travaill and expenss: For relief quhairoff and ease of our saidis
subiectis, wit ze Ws, with avise of our said Regent, to have gevin,
grantit, and committit, and be thir our letteris gevis, grantis, and
committis to our weilbelovittis, MAISTER WILLIAME MUDY of Breknes, and
WILLIAME HENDERSOUN, Dingwall pursevant, coniunctlie, our full power,
expres bidding and command, to repair in the said cuntrie of Zetland,
and thair in our name and auctoritie, to inquire and try the trewth of
the saidis Complayntis of the inhabitantis maid to us and our said
Regent, or to be presentit to our saidis Commissionaris, at thair
passing in the said cuntrie, in form of dittay, or be examinatioun of
credibill and honest witnesses, quhais names salbe gevin in bill, and to
that effect be thair awin precept to summound sik personis as thai sall
think expedient, to compeir befoir thame, alsweil to gif up thair
complaintis and dittay, as to declair the trewth in sic thingis as salbe
inquirit of thame, at thair cuming, ilk persoun under the pains of ten
punds money, the personis . . . pursewand the unlaw for the said
persoun, and for the same . . . to poind and to distrenzie, and that
thai report thair full findingis in the saidis matteris with all speid
and diligence to our said Regent, to the effect that reformation may be
givin to the saidis enormiteis, to the ease and satisfactioun of the
saidis Compleineris, and weill and quietnes of our said cuntrie in tyme
cuming. Quhairfoir we command and charge the said Mr. William Mudy and
Williame Hendersoun, that thai accept this our commissioun in and upon
thame, incontinent efter the presenting of the same to thame, and that
indelatlie, and with all possibill expeditioun thairefter proceid to the
executioun thairof, efter the forme and tennor of the same, alswell in
taking of the said executioun and tryall, as in reporting of that quhilk
thei sall try and find out, as thei and ether of thame will answer to
ws, vpoun thair obedience, at thair vttermaist charge and apparrell, and
under all hiast pane, charge, and offence that thai may commit and inrin
aganis our Maiestie in that behalf. Given under our Signet, and
subscrivit be our said Cousing and Regent: At Dalkeith, the ix day of
November, and of our regnne the Tent zeir 1576.”

  The Copie of the REGENTIS GRACE LETTER send to MR. WILLIAME MUDY and
      WILLIAME HENDERSON to the effect within contenit—


                “For the furthering of Justice, and halding in of the
trauaill and expensses of the subjectis of that cuntrie, quhilkis ar
requirit to be examinat vpoun the declaratioun of the attemptatis and
disorderis committit thair, We have grantit and maid commissioun to zow,
to inquire and try the treuth of the Complaintis of the inhabitantis
maid to Ws, quhilk commissioun tending to sa guide and necessar a
purpoiss, We desyre you to accept in and upon you, and according
thairto, with all diligence pas to the executioun thairof, efter the
forme and tennor of the saime, alsweill tuiching the tryall of the
attemptatis and disordaris, as reporting of that quhilk ye sall try and
find out to Ws, that we may caus ordour may be put to the same, to the
ease and satisfactioun of the . . . and quietnes of that cuntrie. Als ze
. . . and us verray acceptabill . . . the ix day of” . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . .

(_The last two lines of this page are much worn, and the latter words

                             THE COMMISSION

                        BY KING JAMES THE SIXTH

                     TO THE CHANCELLOR AND OTHERS,

                                 TO TRY

                           LORD ROBERT STUART

                            FOR OPPRESSION.



  The first Commissione derect to the Chanseler, the Justeis Clark, and
      Sir Patrick Ballentyne.

“JAMES, be the grace of God, King of Scottis, To our trustie and
weilbelouit Counsallouris, S^r Johne Maitlande of Thirlstane Kny^t, o^r
Chancellar, and S^r Lues Bellenden of Auchnoule Kny^t, Clerk of o^r
Justiciarie, Oure Sheriffs and Justices of Orknay and Zetland, and your
deputtis, and To o^r louittis        messengeris o^r Sheriffis in that
pairt, coniunctlie and seuerallie, speciallie constitute, greting,
Forsamekill as it is humlie menit and lamentablie complenit to us be our
louittis Magnus Irwing and Gilbert Irwing, lauchful sones and aires of
umq^{le} James Irving of Saba, in Orknay, upone our cousing LORD ROBERT
STEWART, lait Erle of Orknay, That quhar thar said umq^{le} father,
(LAWMAN OF ORKNAY for the tyme) and his predecessors hes bruikit and
joisit peciablie the saids landis of Saba, extending to nyne penyland,
liand in the parochin of Sanct Androis, w^tin o^r Sherefdome and
Maneland of Orknay, as thair proper heritage, bruikit and possessit be
thame and thair predecessors but impediment thir sevinscoir yeiris w^t
the mair bigane, Quhill that laitlie within thir sex yeiris, or thairby,
the said Lord Robert wranguslie and masterfullie reft fra the saids
complenaris thair saidis proper landis and heritage, and hes intrusit
himselff maist iniustlie in posessioun of the samyn, but ony ordour of
law, bot be sic tyrannie and oppressioun as he comounlie uses w^tin the
said cuntrie. Lyk as he hes reft and spulzeit diuerss of the wthallmen
and heretors of the said cuntrie of Orknay and Zetland of thair proper
heritaige, and hes appropriat the samyn to himselff, being baith Juge
and pairtie, be manifest oppressioun and tyrrannie. And sicklyk the said
Lord Robert be the meanis forsaidis hes eiected the said Gilbert furthe
of his thrie halfpennyland of Horrie, lyand w^tin the said parochin, and
pertening to him in heritaige, and hes maist wranguslie intrusit himself
and William Irwing his tennent in his name in possessioun of the saids
landis of Saba and Horrie, Quha hes maist iniustlie occupeit and uptakin
the haill proffittis thairof continuallie sen the saids complenaris
eiection y^rfra. And alsua the said Lord Robert hes wranguslie eiectit
the said Gilbert furthe of his mark and halfmarkland, liand in Dedall,
pertening alsua to him in heritaige; as alsua the said Lord Robert hes
maist wranguslie and violentlie eiectit and output the said Gilbert fra
his possessioun of three penyland in Breks, thrie halfpeny land in
Midhous, thrie penyland in Hortisso, and thrie halfpeny land in
Ochilsat^r, extending altogidder to nyne penyland, lyand in the
parochynis of Deirnes and Holme, o^r Sh^reffdome and mainland of Orknay,
Quhairof he and his predecessors war in peciabill possessioun thir mony
yeiris, and hes takis to rin as yit of the samyn. And as yit the said
Lord Robert wranguslie reteins, bruiks, and w^thaldis the saids
compleinaris proper landis, heritaige, takis, rowmes and possessiouns
respective abovewrittin, and hes maist wranguslie and tyrranouslie
demolischit and cassin down thair haill housses and biggings being
thairupoun, extending to auchtene housses, and hes alsua wranguslie,
violentlie and m^rfully spulzeit and away takin the saids complenaris
haill insicht plenissing and gudis being w^tin the saids housses, the
damaige and skaith sustenit be the saids complenaris in casting down of
the saids housses and spoliatioun of thair insicht and gudis being
thairintill estimat to fyve hundrethe markis. And sicklyk the said Lord
Robert and James Stewart, his son naturall, at his comand, be the space
of twelff yeiris sensyne or thairby wranguslie spulzeit, and away tuik
fra the said Gilbert Irwing furthe of his hous in Saba aucht barrellis
ulie, price of the barrell xiii ℔ vi s. and viii d., than pertening to
the said Gilbert as his awin proper guidis and geir, and being than in
his possessioun. And alsua the said Lord Robert restis awand to the said
Gilbert the sowme of sevinscoir ten pundis as for the fraucht of ane
thowsand daillis brocht be him furthe of Norroway to Orknay, and
intromittit w^t be the said Lord Robert be the space of thrie yeiris
sensyne, and he promisit to haue maid the said Gilbert payment of the
said fraucht: And becaus ye saids complenaris socht redress of the
wrangis and oppressiones above vritten done to thame be the said Lord
Robert at his awin hand, being baith Juge and pairtie, quha refusit to
do thame ony reasoune theirfore; And in respect thai are drevin to
extreme povertie, and hawing na uther refuge under God but to complene
to us, the said Lord Robert suspecting the same, and that uther puir
pepill that be havellie oppressit be his tyrranie in lykmaner wald
complene to us thairupon, he thairfore hes cloisit all the ferries and
passages, that nane of the said cuntrie may have access to us for that
effect; and alsua threttynit to tak and hang the saids complenaris,
becaus thai said that they wald complene to us. And the said Lord
Robert, at the depairting of the said Gilbert, hes wranguslie and
wiolentlie spulzeit, reft, and away takin his haill insicht guds,
plenissing, cornes and cattell, and hes put his wyff and aucht bairnes
to beggarie: and he for saifftie of his awin lyff wes compellit in this
instant moneth of December to tak the stormie and tempesteous seyis of
Orknay and Pentland Firthe in ane small fischer boit, and be Godis
prouidence, hes cumit heir to mak his said grievous complaint to us, lyk
as mony utheris in that cuntrie wald doe in cais they mycht have access
to us to that effect as is allegit. OURE WILL IS HEIRFORE, and we
chairge you, our Shereffis and Iustices forsaidis, and your deputtis
       and commandis, that incontinent thir o^r l^{rs} sene ye pas, and
in oure name and aut^{tie} call baith the saidis pairties befoir yow,
and tak cognitioun upoune the saids actionis of eiectioun, spoliatioun,
dettis, and wrangous intromissiouns with the saids complenaris landis
and gudis above specefeit, as they sall libell, and gif the premissis
sal be fund to be of veritie, That ye enter and repossess the saids
complen^{ris} agane to thair saids properties, heritaiges, takis and
possessiouns above vrettin, keip and defend thame tharintill, and in
peciabill possessioun thairof, ay and quhill they be lauchfullie callit
and ordourlie put thairfra be the law, And that ye remowe, eiect, and
output the p^{nt} possessors and occupiaris of the samyn thairfra, wnder
the paine of rebellioun and putting of yow to o^r horne, w^t
certificatioun and ye failzie o^r signittis letres sal be direct
simpliciter to put yow thairto, and that ye preceid and do iustice
thairupone according to the lawis, admittand to baith the saidis parteis
thair just and lauchfull defenssis. Attoure that ye, oure officiaris of
armis, pas and in our name and aut^{tie} comand and chairge the saids
Lord Robert, James Stewart of Gramesay, his sone, and thair complices,
To find sufficient cautioun and sourtie to the saidis complenaris, That
thai, thair wyffis, bairnis, seruands, lands, heritaiges, stedings,
cornes, cattell and guds, sal be harmeless and skaithless of the saidis
Lord Robert, his sone, thair complices, and all that thai may lat in tym
cuming, Under the paine of twa thowsand punds, and that ye chairge thame
heirto personallie gif they can be apprehendit, and failzeing thairof be
oppin proclamatioun at the mercat croce of o^r burghe of Kirkwall, To
cum and find the said sourtie to yow w^tin sex dayis nixt efter they be
chairgit be yow thairto, Wnder the pane of rebellioun and putting of
thame to o^r horne. And gif thai failzie thairintill, the saids sex
dayis being bipast, That ye incontinent thairefter denunce the
dissobeyaris or rebellis, and put thame to o^r horne and escheit, and
inbring all thair moveabill gudis to our use, for thair contemptioun.
And als that ye comand and chairge our saids Shereffis and Justices, and
thair deputtis, to proceid and do sumar Justice to the saids
complen^{ris} againes the said Lord Robert and his complices upone the
actiouns of spoliatioun, eiectioun, dettis and wrangus intromissioun
above specefeit, as accordis to iustice, as thai will ansuer to us upon
thair obedience according to Justice. The q^{lk} to do we commit to you
coniuctlie and seuerallie o^r full power, Be thir our l^{ris},
deliuering thame be yow deulie execut and indorsit againe to the beirar.
Gewin under our signet, At Dalkeith the xvi day of December, and of our
Reigne the twentie ane zeir 1587.

    “_Ex deliberatione Dominorum Secreti Concilii._

                         “ANDRO ELLEIS, _Sec._”

                      A SUPPLICATION TO PARLIAMENT


                       LAWRENCE BRUCE AND OTHERS


                        PATRICK EARL OF ORKNEY.



“My Lord Commissioner and Lordis of Articles of thir present parliament,
Unto your Grace and Lordships humblie meines and shewis We zour
Servitoris Lawrence Bruce of Cultmalindy, Henrie Sinclair of Towquoy,
William Irving of Saba, Robert Sinclair of Camstane, Thomas Cheyne of
Walay, William Bruce of Cimbister, John Sinclair of Tobe, and Magnus
Cromartie of Caray, ffor our selff and in name of the remanent Our
Sowerane Lordis gwid subjectis heritable possessoris of the Udack Lands
in Orknay and Yetland, That quhair Patrick, Earle of Orknay, Vpon some
sinister informatioun made be him that the haill Vdack Lands in Orknay
and Yetland wer fallin in Nonentrie, hes therupon and upon some other
unlawfull groundis purchasit ane Infeftment of our saidis landis, and is
myndit to seek the approbatioun and confirmatioun theroff in thir
present Parliament, That therby being claid in the warrand and
authoritie of ane Act of Parliament, he may summarlie, but forme
prosceiss of law, posses him selffe in our haill landis and intruse
himselffe therintill. Albeit (we doubt not) give your Grace and
Lordships vnderstood the nature of our Vdach landis, and the forme and
maner of ther halding, no sick confirmatioun wald be grantit to the said
Erle. For it is of truth, That quhan the landis of Orknay and Yetland
wer under the Crowne of the Kingis of Norroway for the tyme, the Vdach
landis were repute as ane pairt of the propertie of the Crown, and the
possessoris of the earledome bruikit the samin; but charter or seasing,
as heritable rentalleris of the propertie of the Crown, for payment of
ther Scattis, callit in our language the fewduties, and at the deceiss
of the possessor and rentaller, the entrie of the aires followed be ane
breiff of divisioun, callit in Denmark and Norroway ane Shownd Bill, and
is putt in executioun be the Sheriff and his deputis, Quhilk forme of
halding hes been inviolablie keeped sensyne, alswell during the tyme of
the Kingis of Denmark, as sen ther landis fell to the Crowne of
Scotland, and we and our predecessoris of thir Vdach landis haiff been
in continwall possession theroff according to the tenor of the halding
abovewrettin ffirst esteablished in Norroway, allowit in Denmark and
imbracit and ressauit be ane inviolable custome in this kingdome thir
ffyve agis bygane and mair, and thair wes nevir any questioun moved
against the forme of our haldingis, and the constant and inviolable
custome of sa mony ages, without any interruptioun or process intendit
against us or our predecessoris, will never suffer us to fall under the
compas of nonentrie. And giff the Sowerane Princis of thir kingdome for
the tyme had mislykit of the forme of our halding, as not agriable to
the lawes or customes of this kingdome, ther is no question bot be the
authoritie of ane lawe (all parteis being heared) thay wald have altered
and changit the forme of our haldingis, and putt us in suretie be ane
new established forme: bot so far hes the Princes of this Kingdome been
from quarrelling of the nature of our haldingis, as by taking hold and
making thair advantage upon everie failzie quhilk hapnit and fell out
against the conditioun of our halding, thay have approven and allowit
our said haldingis. For it is ane prouisioun and conditioun in our
haldingis, that the non payment of owr dewties for thrie termis togidder
forfaltis our right and possessioun, quherby it is fallen out that many
of the Vdach landis hes fallen in his Majesteis handis upon this
occation.—AND FARDER it is of veritie that quhan this pretendit
Infeftment was first purchast be the said Earle, We finding our selffes
thairin to be very heavilie grieved and prejudgit, we cam unto him and
assured him that we wald complaine and seek reparatioun from his
Majestie, and he fearing (be law) he could not maintaine that pretendit
right of his to be gwid, he promeist to us to discharge the samin give
we wald pay to him the soumes of money advancit be him in purchasing
theirof, quhilk we did. AND FARDER it is of trewth that ther is some
Lordis in Noroway and Denmark quha bruikis sundrie of the Vdach landis
in Yetland eftir the same forme of halding, quhais halding the said
Earle hes nawayes quarrelled and hes omitted ther landis out of his
Infeftment, and hes only taine him to us whome he thinkis to owircrow at
his pleasur, AND SWA we being his Majesteis proper rentalleris, we ought
not to be in ane worse conditioun nor strangeirs are, and giff this
confirmatioun sall passe throw, it will samickle the mair stur up the
said Earle in most violent courses againis us, and prepaires our utter
wndoeing and wrack. HEIRFOR we most humblie beseek your Grace and
Lordschips that no seek confirmation passe to the said Earle in this
present Parliament, and that we may have ane act past in our favoris,
declairing the pretendit infeftment purchast be the said Earle of our
said Vdach Landis, shall nowayes prejudge ws in our heritable
possessionis, and that the samin sall be na farder extendit bot to our
fewdewties, quhilk we are content to pay to him or to any othir his
Majestie pleis appoint, And giff it sall pleis his Majestie and your
Lordschipis to alter the forme of our haldingis and to make the samine
agreable to the forme of this kingdome, We most humblie beseek your
Lordschipis that it be declairit be Act of this present Parliament, that
we sall be preferrit to our rowmes and possessionis, and that securities
be made to ws of the samine, we doing therfor accordingly, and your
answir humblie We beseek. Etc.”

  The Supplication abovewrettin was given to the Lordis of the Articles
      of the Parliament, haldin at Edinbroughe be King James 6, Parl.
      12, anno 1592, in the quhilk Parliament ane Ratificatioun was made
      to Patrick Erle of Orknay of the Erledome theroff in ane unprinted

  The forsaid Erledome was ratified of befor to Robert Earle of Orknay
      in the 7 Parl., haldin at Edinbrough be King James 6, anno 1581.


                            APPENDIX.—No. I.

Extracted and Corrected from the ORCADES _seu_ RERUM ORCADENSIUM
HISTORIÆ, _Auctore_ THORMODO TORFÆO. _Havniæ_, 1697, p. 179.

I. Cum adversi frugibus anni affligerent terram, PUBLICO-que CONCILIO
(ipsius quoque Davidis consensu) decretum esset, ne frumentum
efferretur, sed indigenis tolerabili pretio venderetur, nihilominus
ipsum Præsidem quatuor navibus frumentum in Scotiam avexisse, et
antequam hæc constitutio facta esset, quinque aut sex naves frugibus
onustas alio amandasse, maximo insularum damno.

II. Peregrinos præterea invexisse, qui plebi universæ, etiam iis qui
judicia administrabant, admodum graves hospitiis se magnis civium damnis
et molestiis violenter ingessissent.

III. PUBLICUM TERRÆ SIGILLUM, invito Supremo juris Præfecto abstulisse,
contraque leges et consuetudines obsignandis quæ libuit adhibuisse;
cumque vir quidam Nobilis nomine Christianus Ellingeflet (LINKLETT)
expostularet, præposterè SIGNACULUM GENTIS in abusum trahi, magnam eum
pecuniæ jacturam fecisse. Cum autem Comes accederet, postularetque idem
ad obsignandum Testimonium, quo jus suum in Orcades a marjoribus per
ordinem successionis ad se delatum, monstraret et afferreret, simulque
ut quidam indigenarum Nobiliores secum ad Serenissimum Regem ejusque
senatum transfretare permitterentur, ad statum publicum declarandum,
verumque de jure suo testimonium ferendum, neque SIGNACULUM, neque
comites ullos, præter Thomam Sinclerum et Archidiaconum Hialtlandiæ,
duosque famulos indigenas impetrasse.

IV. Anno proximo ex quo Comes in Dania apud Serenissimum Regem moratus
esset, cum prædictus David eo profecturus esset, universos eum insularum
incolas convocatos, de testimonio vitæ apud eos transactæ solicitasse,
idque scriptis ad Clementissimum Regem eique traditis literis
obtinuisse, ea conditione ut Viri primæ Nobilitatis viginti quatuor eum
ad Regem sequerentur, quos (cives nequaquam dubitarent) si eo
pervenissent, tum de commodis Regis, tum etiam administratione Davidis
Regem informaturos; verum itinere a Davide prohibitos, domi remansisse,
solum profectum, Sigillum Gentis secum avexisse, nemine Nobilium

V. Regiæ monetæ valorem adeo minuisse, ut uni Scotico duos regios nummos
æquari juberet, idque tantisper, donec tantum non omnem regionem monetâ
exhausisset. Cum autem Thomas Sinclerus novissimè e Daniâ rediisset, in
eundum valorem eam restituisse quem in Norvegia obtinuit, idque publicè
promulgasse, quod et hodie teneat.

VI. Nec parum incolis nocuisse mulctarum Regi Comitique debitarum
(præter legum privilegiorumque aut reformationum regulas), rigidas

VII. SUPREMI INSULARUM JUDICIS, quem _Nomophylacem_ (LAWMAN) appellant,
uxorem, ejusque propinquos accusasse, quod is bis comprehensus in Turrim
(carcerem) conjectus fuerit, talibus ex causis. Quarum prima, quod Jon
de Baddi Nomophylacis minister et propinquus, repetivisset equum suum a
Michæle Magio (MENZIES?) Davidis propinquo, qui eo invito eum (aliò
profecturus) abstulisset, ea de causa Nomophylacem in Plateâ
Kyrkinvogensi (_The_ DOM PLATZ _of Kirkwall_, _now_ BROAD STREET)
incedentom apprehensum Turri (BISHOP’S TOWER) inclusisse, sed postquam
dimisisset peregrinos Catanesenses, in domum ejus immissos, templum
offringi fecisse et quæcunque ibi continebantur evihi singula quæ in
domo erant, magna parvaque corrumpi, nullo omnino excepto. Captum denuo
Nomophylacem in Turrim conjecisse, tantùm quod ei SIGILLUM TERRÆ ad
obsignanda quæcunque volebat tradere recusasset, ibique tam diu
detenuisse, donec se ei addixisset, uxorque ejus SIGILLUM et CODICEM
LEGUM altari Divi Magni imposuisset. Exinde prædictum Davidem SIGILLUM
et CODICEM in suam custodiam assumpsisse, aliumque Nomophylacem
constituisse, qui id officium ægrè assumpsisset.

VIII. Quo tempore Supremum Judicem Turri incluserat, alium quoque
Nobilem indigenam simul in carcerem, contra Leges et sine causâ,

IX. Jonem Loggium (LOGY) accusasse, se quoque eidem carceri mancipatum,
quod requisitum Sigillum negaret sibi, nisi ad custodiendum, commissum

X. Thomam Sinclerum mandatarium Comitis expostulasse cum Davide, quod de
canonibus annuis Comitis à morte patris ejus et anno qui præcessit, ad
octo Libras Anglicas acceperit, præter alia, id quod Comes ad
Clementissimum Regem accusare decreverit.

XI. Ipsum quoque Thomam Sinclerum suo propriæ nomine questum, quod
postquam literis Regiis munitus esset, quibus eum Rex, ejus ministros,
bona navem et quæcunque ejus essent, in suam regiam protectionem
receperat, nihilominus famulum suum Davidem Smid (SMITH) comprehensum,
ad sanguinem usque intra suam domum verberatum, inque infima Turris
detrusum, ibique compedibus injectis, in reditum suum ê Scotia detentum
fuisse. Se vero, cum primum in Orcades reverterit, interponentibus se
bonis viris, statim domum suam cum suis rediisse, ibique ad finem diei
permansisse, quo tunc Johannes Kroge (CRAIGIE) filiusque sororis ejus,
cum pluribus aliis se accessisse suasisseque, ut in Templum (_Kirk of_
ST. MAGNUS) aut aliò profugeret, ni cum suis incendio perire mallet; quò
cùm se recepisset, ad jura Templi literasque tutelæ regiæ quas simul
exhibuerit, nequiequam provocasse; tandem clam elapsum, Clementissimi
Regis suisque amicis collectis, postulasse, ut in gratiam Regis, se ab
oppressione vindicarent, legum pro se suisque præsidia sæpius
inclamasse. His comitatum, ubi ad Templum rediisset, suosque ministros
inde exemisset, cæsum esse sororis suæ filium. Inde interponente se
Nomophylace cum aliis Primariis Viris, litem istam ita compositam, ut
datis ab utraque parte prædibus, causam omnem Regis aut Comitis judicio
decidendam committerent; cavisse prædibus Thomam duodecim, Davidem
nullo. Cumque ille in Scotiam rediisset, Comitem decessisse; quo
côgnito, Davidem prædibus istis duodecim triginta sex libras Anglicas
expressisse, omnemque dilationem, quoad simul judicio Regis senatusque
sisterentur, abnuisse. His ita ordinatis, eos qui Thomæ Sinclero ad Ædem
Sacram protectoriis literis Regis conservandis adhæserant, octuaginta
Libris Anglicis et quinquaginta solidis multasse; fuisse autem qui
Davidis Thomæque verba exceperant, cum Thomas ad Legis et judicis
sententiam provocaret, nimirum Nicolaum Myrium (MUIR), Dominum
Laurentium, Dominum Johannem Canonicum, Wilhelmum de Hedal (HEDDLE),
Alexandrium de Suderlandia, Johannem de Krage (CRAIGIE), Wilhelmum
Yrving (IRVING), Wilhelmum Flet (FLETT), Adamum de Nestegaard,
Christiamum de Ellingeklat (LINKLETT) multosque alios terræ istius Bonos
viros, et presbyteros et laicos.

XII. Wilhelmum quoque Bressium (BRASS), sine ullo juridico processu,
nedum criminis alicujus convictum, compedibus constrinxisse, tantùm quòd
ad colloquium cum Comite in Scotiam profectus esset.

XIII. Cùm plebs de Rognvaldzö (South Ronaldsey) Præsidi provinciæ suæ
quereretur, de Scotorum quos Feros (WILD HIGHLANDERS) appellant, nimiâ,
sibique commissationibus aliisque molestiis, gravi frequentatione;
professa se mori malle, quàm tantis identidem injuriis vexari,
respondisse Davidem, ‘Non omnes eos uno eodemque die morituros, singulis
tamen ‘diebus quoad is iis præesset, aliquos.’’

XIV. Davidem Meynerum Henricho Garoch (GARRIOCH) duas selibras Anglicas
abstulisse, quod prædicto Thomæ in Regii diplomatis autoritate
vindicanda adhæreret.

XV. Joni Simonis filio undecim solidos Anglicos, eodem die abstulisse.

XVI. Malcun Jonis (MALCOLM JOHNSON) etiam questum, nave se bonisque
aliis, pretio ducentorum nobliorum, sine actione juris spoliasse.

XVII. Prædictum Davidem Jonem Jonis filium, comprehendi curasse, adque
livorem et sanguinem contusum in Turrim conjecisse, eique unam naviculam
sex scalmorum, pretio duarum Librarum Anglicarum, emuuxisse, cum
pluribus aliis bonis sine causâ.

XVIII. Nauclerum Thomam Brun questum, conjectum se à Davide in Turrim,
quòd ad primum nuncium eum non accessisset.

XIX. Et cum David novissime ex Dania rediisset, onustam mercibus
prædicti Thomæ navem arripuisse, inque Scotiam se invito misisse, ibique
similagine pretio viginti quatuor nobliorum eum spoliasse,
detenuisseque, maximam partem hiemis, cujus exitu cum domum navigasset
navis, mercium nautarumque aliquot jacturam fecerit.

XX. Jonem Loggium quiritatum, exutum se a Davide ex prædictæ navis
vectura decem cadis (tounas vocat) hordeo, octo similagine refertis,
octo cupis pice uno ferro distentis, undecim mensuris ceræ quas LAPIDES
appellant, viginti sex lebetibus magnis parvisque, duabus stateris,
duobus molegis malluviis, centum et octo libris cannabis, sex cantharis
stanneis, undecim albarum et rubrarum patinarum decadibus, quæ simul in
summam viginti sex librarum Anglicarum ascenderint.

XXI. Prædictum Davidem Andreæ Jonis ex eadem nave sex lebetes, pretio
sex nobliorum, eripuisse.

XXII. Præfatum Davidem Nicolaum Jonis (NICOL JOHNSON) spoliari fecisse
quadraginta solidis Anglicanis, in auro et argento, eo quod se Thomæ
Sinclero conjunxisset, Clementissimique Regis diplomati satisfecisset;
ad leges se sed frustra provocasse.

XXIII. Patricio Thyrgelsonio duas vaccas, bovemque castratum, eadem de
causa ademptum.

XXIV. Jonem Fif in Turrim conjectum, compedibus ferreis duriter
constrinxisse, vigintique nobliis mulctasse, sine juris processu, tantum
quod dixisset Comitem esse ad comitatum Orcadensem illo jure potiorem,
essetque Comiti sanguine junctus.

XXV. Joni Blatto (FLETT?) quinquaginta marcas Anglicas de nocte
eripuisse, quod in mandatis regiis vindicandis, cum Thoma Sinclero unum
fecisset; eum quoque leges judiciumque implorasse, sed nullo successu.

XXVI. Wilhelmun Graa (GRAY) conquestum, se ab eo coactum ad
transmittendam navem suam ad insulam in mari longè dissitam, Solsker
(SOULIS SKERRY) dictam, sub minis exilii, cumquenavi duos fratres suos
minorennes et octo alios indigenas imposuisset; omnes cum ea periisse;
navem cum armentis mercibusque quindecim marcis Anglicis æstimatam.

XXVII. Samsonem Vilhelmi filium (WILLIAMSON) deplorasse, se Templo
violenter ereptum, damnatorum in morem vinctum, protinus capitis
supplicio à Davide destinatum, ni Canonici cum uxore ejus
intercessissent. Expressos tamen sibi unum et quinquaginta solidos
Anglicos, sine juris processu, sine judicio, tantum quod imputaret sibi,
quod ministrum suum vulnerasset; se legibus crimen diluere volentem, non

XXVIII. Paridem Lutzit (LOUTTIT) professum esse, se quoque inclusum
Turri, coercitum ferreis compedibus, tribus integris diebus ac noctibus;
liberationem deinde impendio decem marcarum signatarum constitisse,
inobservato se nullius criminis convictum, tantum quod a Thoma Sinclero
dependens, Regis mandatis velificari studuerit.

XXIX. Prædictum mandatum Paridi inter recitandum, a Davide ereptum,
referente, ‘se tales Literas in alium sermonem translatus, octodecim
denariis Anglicis in Dania ‘emere posse;’ retenuisse deinde, et in eum
diem quo hæc querela instituta est, retinere.’

XXX. Thomæ Bimsoni (BEENSON) unam et viginti marcas Anglicas, inauditâ
causâ, eripuisse.

XXXI. Inaudita quoque causâ, sine judicio, contra leges Magno de
Jennelandia (MAINLAND?) duodecim cados hordeo plenos, viginti quatuor
solidorum Anglicorum pretio erepuisse.

XXXII. Wilhelmum Geredsonium (GARSON) ejusque equos in Turrim
conjecisse, sine legitimo processu, tantum quod Thomæ Regiique mandati
partes susceperit, tredecim marcis Anglicis liberationem emercari

XXXIII. Eadem de causa Sanderum Brunum (SAUNDERS BROWN) de nocte viginti
septem marcis Anglicis spoliasse.

XXXIV. Et prædicti Sanderi ministrum undecim marcis Anglicis, ejusdem
intentati criminis prætextu.

XXXV. Dominum Nicolaum Myrium (MUIR) et Dominum Laurentium, Canonicos,
questos esse, quod sigillum capituli arcâ quæ in penetrali Templi
stetit, eximisset, præterque semestre detenuisset; quid scribi illoque
obsignari fecerit non sibi constitisse.

Multo plura esse quæ ad Clementissimum Dominum suum Regem de gestis
Davidis Meyneri, illatisque ab eo populo Orcadensi damnis, scribi
possent, necessariaque essent; sed molem ejus criminum, longamque
seriem, in præsens se exponere nequisse; tantum in horum capitum firmius
testimonium, majoremque securitatem, Terræ suæ Populique Sigillo has
literas obsignatas, etiam sigillis Reverendi probique viri Wilhelmi
Thurgilssonii Regionis nomophylacis, Kolbeini Flæt (FLETT) Jonis Magni
filii (MANSON) et Wilhelmi Urving (IRVING) confirmatas.

                           APPENDIX.—No. II.


The earliest Survey and Valuation of Orkney (1263) was the
counterpart—perhaps the pattern—of the AULD EXTENT of Scotland made by
Alexander III. somewhat later and subsequently to his intimate relations
with Norway. It was to the Islanders an event of such importance, that
history and tradition have combined to commemorate its date, place, and
circumstances with picturesque minuteness. It was on St. Martin’s day
1263 that Hacon IV., in an upper chamber of Bishop Henry’s palace in
Kirkwall, lay down to die of a broken heart and mortified ambition. But
the cares of royalty followed him even to his deathbed; his troops and
seamen, the relics of the storm and battle at Largs, were starving and
houseless; and in the absence of Magnus Jarl III., he issued orders to
divide the whole occupied lands of Orkney and Zetland into MARKLANDS
containing 8 EYRISLANDS or URISLANDS, each of which should find quarters
and supplies for a Hofding and a fixed number of men, probably in
proportion to the Skatts formerly paid.

In the comparatively fertile and populous Orkneys, more minute
subdivision soon became necessary; and some Scottish Jarl divided each
Norse Urisland into the Scottish denominations of 18 Pennylands, and
each pennyland into 4 Farthings or Merks, or (in some districts) into 6
Uriscops or Mæliscops, and finally into 10 Yowsworths, to suit the
excessive partition of Odal heritage. Though the Mark is still the vague
denomination of land measure in Zetland, as being sufficiently minute
for its large tracts of comparatively valueless waste, even there it has
been found convenient to estimate the unequal value of the Markland by
Pennies, and to apportion its Skathald, Skatt, and Landskylld to the
number of Pennies ascribed to each Mark, an alteration traditionally
attributed to English valuators under a commercial Treaty between
England and Norway—perhaps that of 1431. From the confusion of terms of
value, weight, and size,—of Mark and Merk—of Peningr and Penny—of
Urisland and Uriscop—of Marklands in Zetland of 4, 8, and 12 pennies per
mark—and of Pennylands in Orkney of 3, 4, 5⅛, and 8 merks to the
penny—so many difficulties beset this subject, that I rejoice that I am
not required to attempt their solution; for the denominations of
land-value still exist as fixed by Hacon’s Survey, practically
undisputed by subjects or rulers—neither the ground of oppression nor
the cause of complaint.

This Survey was probably grounded partly on traditions of taxation, as
early as the Norwegian Conquest, and partly upon the _Matricula Regis_,
King Sverrer’s Register of the Odals confiscated under penal terms of
redemption (1196)—and from its results was compiled the first LIBER
CENSUS, or SKATT BOOK of Orkney and Zetland, the authentic Statement of
the extent of each Odal Tun then in occupation, and of its STENT or
proportion of Butter Skatt. As population increased, each _Tun_ or
subdivision thereof paid for its enlarged area of cultivation a Malt
Skatt also, marking at once the advance from pasture and the increase of
culture; and the old _Liber Census_ was from time to time replaced as
out of date, by a new and more complete record of such changes. The only
specimen extant is a copy of the SKATT OF ZETLAND, compiled by one of
the Sinclair Earls, without a date, but so ancient that the scribe of
the fifteenth century apologises for the illegible writing and uncouth
terms, as unintelligible even to himself. This Skatt Book distinguishes
each Thing; describes the extent of each Tun in Marks of so many pennies
per mark; and under distinct heads charges against each possession its
Odal-Skatt and Leangr, or Tenant’s Land-male of wadmæl, oil, or fish—or
sometimes both Odal and Tenant burdens; probably because such lands,
though formerly Odal, had fallen by confiscation to the King or Earl,
and been set to a tacksman, subject to both the old and new exactions.
But though it thus records a few _land-males_ (showing the small extent
of land in Zetland under tacksmen), the Skatt Book seems to have been a
fair and distinct statement of National Taxation, unblemished by the
studied confusion of tax and rent, of Odal and Feudal terms, which
rendered its successor, the Rental, so oppressive to the Odaller. Like
the Doomsday Book of another Northman race, the Skatt Book was the
simple Record of the revenue and rule of taxation—its successor, the
Scottish Rental, claimed to be also the substitute for a written title,
the limit of every claim, the standard of every burden, the authority
for every exaction; but compiled in secret, and jealously closed against
public inspection, it rather favoured the claims of the ruler than
secured the rights of the subject. The first duty imposed by James III.
upon his new vassals, the Earl and Bishop of Orkney, was the compilation
of such a rental, including not only the land-males or rents of his own
newly acquired Earldom, and of the Church lands, but also the whole
Skatts and other Odal taxes of the Skatt Book, exigible from the lands
of free Odallers. The “AULD PARCHMENT RENTAL,” Earl William’s last
legacy of spite against the Bishop and the Odallers, has unfortunately
been lost, but it is evident from other authorities that he revenged
himself on the Churchman by pitiless exposure of his fraud and rapacity,
and on the Laymen, by suggesting the close similarity and easy identity
of Odal and Tenant rights and burdens. The same fate has overtaken the
Rental prepared by Bishop William Tulloch, partly for the Crown’s
instruction, partly in self-defence against the Earl’s accusations of
_Skatts abstracted_ and _lands gripped_, and other encroachments during
the Lieutenancy of Bishop Thomas and himself. Of these conflicting
Rentals, and their mutually truthful recriminations of embezzlement and
oppression, much may be learned from the succeeding Rentals of Henry
Lord Sinclair, of which the earliest was prepared in 1492, more than
twenty years after the Impignoration, and therefore affording ample time
for such Crown officers as Bishop Tulloch to alter every land right in
the Islands. Accordingly, this Rental shows an aggravation of the
number, nature, and amount of the Odaller’s burdens, and a studied
confusion of his rights with those of the Tacksman of the Crown or Kirk.
Thus, the Odal lands are charged with the ancient Skatt, but this is
sometimes doubled and paid both to King and Bishop. The FÖR-KAUP is no
longer the fee of the Lawman (whose salary of £12 is charged against the
Crown in the tacksman’s account), but under the feudal name of _Forcop_
is again exacted from the Odaller as a _triennial grassum_ for the use
of the once free and common pasture. The _Votn-tel_ is entered under the
corrupted name of _Wattel_; but in despair of its lost Norse meaning,
the fancy of the Feudalist has explained it as a tax for holy water, or
for the good offices of some saintly lady whose profitable virtues had
outlived her name; while its ancient purpose of the Underfoud’s fee, is
again supplied by the _Balliatus_, a new impost on the parish. Another
parish burden of _Hawkhens for the King’s falcons_ is first mentioned in
the _compota_ of Bishops William and Andrew (1478–9), and first charged
in this Rental, where the Escheits of Moveables and Heritage are entered
as an ordinary item of revenue, under the suggestive name of “Chetry.”
The purely Scottish claims of Wrack and Waith (which in time ripened
into the full Droits of Admiralty and the Leges Forestarum) were new and
violent invasions of the Odal freedom of hunting, fishing, and
sea-beach; and every occasional or temporary payment once paid became a
tax for ever.

The several exactions may be classed in the order in which they are
named in the Rental. 1st. Odal; 2nd. Tenant; and 3rd. District or
Parochial Burdens.

The Odal payments consisted of—

  1st. STENT, the Butter Skatt assessed by ancient valuation in
      proportion to the pennylands.

  2nd. BUTTER SKATT, _præter the Stent_, an obviously unwarranted and
      often large increase of the tax—generally as much more.

  3rd. MALT SKATT.


  5th. FORCOP, already explained, but of such arbitrary and unequal
      exaction as fully to warrant the definition of Dufresne, “FORCOP,
      _Forcapium, exactio, tributum haud debitum, per vim et contra jus

  6th. WATTEL, the Fee of the Underfoud, paid or estimated in grain.

The Land-male or Rent of Tenants or Tacksmen consisted of—

  1st. COST, or victual—generally paid in a commutation of two-thirds of
      malt, one-third of meal.

  2nd. FLESH—paid in cattle or live stock, at a conventional estimate of
      2 or 3 head to each Last of nominal quantity.

  3rd. PENNYWORTHS—an equivalent in grain, butter, oil, or other produce
      of the lands, in case of deficiency of the other payments.

The parochial exactions (all of Scottish origin) are summed up with a
quaint acknowledgment of omnivorous rapacity; “And all this _supra_, is
_præter_ the Skattmarts, Wrack, Waith, Hawkhens, Chetry, Balliatus, and
uthir profittis and Revenues that may happen ony maner of way.”

The relative share of the Odaller and Tenant in these new parish burdens
is not expressed, but both must have looked back with regret to the
worst of their ancient rulers, and watched with dismay the rising tide
of Scottish oppression which was slowly but inevitably sapping their
rights and overwhelming their liberties.

Of the taxes, rents, and assessments of the Rental, only a very small
part was payable in money, and every coinage seems to have been current,
though at an exchange often and arbitrarily fluctuating.

The rest of the _Debts and Duties_, as they were called, were paid in
kind or produce, and measured by the PUNDAR and BYSMAR—the CAN and
BARRELL—the CUTTEL and PACK—the native Standards and Instruments
respectively of weight, capacity, and extent. The correctness and
uniformity of these instruments was guarded with jealous care by the
Thingmen, and the Wardthing of every Parish elected a LÖGRETTMAN or
LAWRIGHTMAN to watch the measuring of its debts or duties by the
Underfoud, and to take charge of its Standards, which were from time to
time compared and corrected in presence of the Thing, by reference to a
Common Standard of each kind of instrument of mensuration. Each of these
common Standards was more solemnly authenticated by the Common Seal, or
the signature or mark of the Lawman, by authority of the Lawthing, and
severally kept by one of the Lawrightmen of four different districts,
honoured by law or custom with their custody. This system of inspection,
counter-checks, and separate guardianship, effectually precluded
fraudulent or ignorant tampering with the Weights and Measures of the
country, till virtually cancelled by the violence of the Donatary and
his agents in superseding the Lawrightmen.

Of measurement by weight the instruments were—1st, The PUNDAR or
PUNDLAR, identical with the Steelyard or _Statera_, and of two kinds—the
MALT PUNDAR for weighing Malt and other bulky articles, and the _Bere
Pundar_ for Bere only, using the same weights, but each a third less
than the same denomination on the Malt Pundar; and 2ndly, the BYSMAR, on
which were weighed the butter and other articles requiring more minute
mensuration. The following figures will explain the form of the Pundar
and Bysmar better than description, and show their liability to error
and fraud, and the consequent necessity for the jealous watch of the
Lawrightman upon the weigher’s crafty hand.


The first is a facsimile of the woodcut which occurs in the original
edition of the _Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus_, of Olaus
Magnus, Archbishop of Upsala, p. 468, Romæ, 1555, folio. The other is
copied from _The General Grievances and Oppression of the Isles of
Orkney and Shetland_ (by James Mackenzie), p. 19. Edinb. 1750, 8vo.:
Both cuts are figured in Dr. Hibbert’s Shetland.

The weights in use were—

         8 Eyrar or Ounces = 1 Mark of half a pound
        24 Marks           = 1 Lispund, Span, Setteen, or Stone.
         6 Lispunds        = 1 Meil.
        24 Meils           = 1 Last.

[Illustration: Bysmer Pundar]

Of measurement by capacity, the instruments were the Can or KANNA of
Norway, and the Barrel or BARIEL of fifteen Lispunds.

          48 Cans of Oil or 15 Lispunds of Butter = 1 Barrel.
          12 Barrels, 180 Lispunds, or 576 Cans   = 1 Last.

Of measurement by extent the only instrument was the CUTTEL or ALIN, a
wooden rod of the length of the Scottish Ell. The Cuttel of Wadmæl
became in Zetland the general measure of value, standard of barter, and
substitute for a current coinage; 6 Cuttels being equivalent to an EYRIR
or _ounce_ of land taxation, and 6 score or a _large hundred_ of Cuttels
being the standard price of an ox or six sheep.

        6 Cuttels = 1 Gudling or Gullioun—10 Gulliouns = 1 Pack.

The standards of weight and measure were unchanged till Earl Robert, by
raising the weight of the fundamental Mark from 8 to 10 ounces, added in
the same proportion of one-fifth to every other denomination—and by
increasing the Gudling from 6 to 8 Cuttels, he added one-fourth to every
Pack of Zetland Wadmæl. Earl Patrick increased the Mark to 12 ounces,
thus adding one-third to every Lispund, Meil, and Last; and subsequent
Donataries improved the profitable example by aggravating the Mark to 20
ounces, and thus boldly achieving an increase of 250 per cent. upon
every denomination of weight or measure. The only apparent exception was
the Barrel, which, being a vehicle of foreign export, could not be
enlarged, and consequently could only contain 10 of these aggravated
Lispunds instead of 15 of the normal size; but the balance was charged
in _loose Lispunds_ of similar overweight.

There is no authentic statement of the revenues of James III. as
Sovereign and as Earl of Orkney, but assuming and deducting a rise
during the Episcopal Tacks proportioned to that which appears between
the first and second Rentals of Lord Sinclair, the Skatts and Land-males
of the Crown may be approximately stated at between £500 and £600.

Their progressive increase during the sixteenth century may be more
minutely estimated by a comparison of Lord Sinclair’s Rentals
(1492–1502) with that of Earl Patrick (1600–1), and an unerring tariff
of current prices is found in the Rentals themselves, or in the
contemporary Rolls of the Scottish Exchequer. The last Rental of Lord
Sinclair stands thus—

 1502. _Scat Butter_—1312 Lispunds at 1s. per
         Lispund                                   £82  0  0
       _Scat Malt_—60 Lasts at £3, 6s. 8d.         200  0  0
       _Forcöp_ (the exact amount of the
         Lawman’s fee, £12)                         12  0  0
       _Wattel_—12 Lasts                            40  0  0
                                                   ——— —— ——
                  Total Odal Payments                         £334  0  0

       _Butter_, 24 Barrels (360 Lispunds)         £22 10  0
       _Cost_ (or Grain Rent), 88 Lasts            293  6  8
       _Flesh_, 59 Lasts (118 oxen at 13s. 4d.
         per head)                                  78 13  4
       —— 32 salted Marts at the same price         21  6  8
       _Hawkhens_, 440 at 6d                            7
                                                        6  8
                                                   ——— —— ——
              Total Land males of Earldom                      423  3  4
                                                               ——— —— ——
             Total Crown’s Scats and Males                    £757  3  4
                                                              ==== == ==

These revenues, with the unrentalled profits of Wrack, Waith, Chetry,
Balliatus, &c., were farmed by Tulloch and other tacksmen, at a rent or
Tack duty varying from £366 to £466, till James V. (1540) ascertained by
personal investigation, that under the most liberal tack, a duty of
£2000 was not too high for the increased value of official perquisites,
and the higher prices of conversion, which had raised the Crown’s Rental
as follows—

 1540. _Butter_ at £3 per Barrel                  £262 10  0
       _Malt_ at £5 per Last                       300  0  0
       _Wattel_ at £5 per Last                      60  0  0
       _Forcop_ as before                           12  0  0
                                                   ——— —— ——
                  Total Odal payments                         £634 10  0

       _Butter_                                    £72  0  0
       _Cost_                                      440  0  0
       _Flesh_ (150 cattle at £1, 10s. per head)   225  0  0
       _Hawkhens_ at 6d.                            11  0  0
                                                   ——— —— ——
                   Total Land males                            748  0  0
                                                              ———— —— ——
                  Total Crown Rental                         £1382 10  0
                                                             ===== == ==

The same Tack duty of £2000 was paid by Lord Robert Stewart as a
Feu-duty; and in 1568, the first year of his actual exercise of power,
the higher prices of conversion had raised the Crown Rental to the
following value, without increase of quantity:—

 1568. _Butter_, 87½ Barrels (at £9 per barrel)   £787 10  0
       _Malt_, 60 Lasts (at £30 per last)         1800  0  0
       _Wattel_, 12 Lasts (£360), _Forcop_ (£12)   372  0  0
                                                   ——— —— ——
                  Total Odal payments                        £2959 10  0

       _Butter_, 24 barrels                       £216  0  0
       _Cost_, 88 Lasts                           2640  0  0
       _Flesh_, 59 Lasts (at £7, 4s.)              424 16  0
       —— _Marts_, 32 (at £3, 12s.)                115  4  0
       _Hawkhens_, 440 (at 6d.)                     11  0  0
                                                   ——— —— ——
              Total Land males of Earldom                     3407  0  0
                                                             ————— —— ——
           Total first Rental of Earl Robert                 £6366 10  0
                                                             ===== == ==

On his disgrace (1587) and the new grant to Chancellor Maitland and
Bellenden on an increased duty of £4000, the Rental, as stated in their
Charter, was found to have been raised to the following quantity and
value, without distinction of Skatt or Land male.

  1587.  _Butter_, 1458 Lispunds (at 12s.)                    £874 16  0
         _Grain_, 189 Lasts (at £30)                          5670  0  0
         _Flesh_, 91 Lasts (at £7, 4s.)                        605  6  0
         _Money_, in lieu of Forcop and Skatt Silver           109  0  0
                                                             ————— —— ——
             Total (acknowledged) Rental of the Crown        £7259  2  0
                                                             ===== == ==

But this numerical statement of quantities no longer expressed the
actual burdens of Orkney. Earl Robert’s increase of the weights and
measures had added a fifth to every nominal Mark, Lispund, Meil, or Last
in the Rental, and when he was reinstated (1589) (compounding at a
reduced Feu-duty of £2075), the quantities and value actually paid under
the nominal Rental amounted to—

  1589.  _Butter_, 1822½ Lispunds (at 12s.)                  £1093 10  0
         _Grain_, 236½ Lasts (at £30)                         7095  0  0
         _Flesh_, 113¾ Lasts (at £7, 4s.)                      818  8  0
         _Money_ in lieu of Forcop and Skatt Silver            109  0  0
                                                             ————— —— ——
                   Total Crown Rental in Orkney              £9015 18  0
                                                             ===== == ==

Accordingly Earl Robert’s final Rental, although the articles of payment
differ in arrangement and commutation, amounts, at the former
conversions, to nearly the same sum and value:

  1592.  _Butter_, 87½ Barrels at £9 per Barrel               £787 10  0
         _Do._ loose, 791½ Lispunds at 12s. per Lispund        474 18  0
         _Grain_, 227 Lasts at £30 per Last                   6810  0  0
         _Flesh_, 97½ Lasts at £7, 4s. per Last                702  0  0
         _Hawkhens and other Poultry_, 3242 at 6d.              81  1  0
         _Swine_, 3 at £1, 16s.                                  5  8  0
         _Peats, Rabbit-Skins_, and other minor articles        10 10  0
         _Money_, in lieu of _Forcop_ and _Skatt Silver_       144 13  0
                                                             ————— —— ——
                 Total last Rental of Earl Robert            £9016  0  0
                                                             ===== == ==

Thus showing an increase of quantities and value since his first audit
of 1569 amounting to—

         _Butter_, 431½ Lispunds at 12s.                      £258 18  0
         _Grain_, 67 Lasts at £30                             2010  0  0
         _Flesh_, 22½ Lasts at £7, 4s.                         161 10  0
         _Poultry, swine_, and minor articles                   85 19  0
         _Money_                                               132 13  0
                                                             ————— —— ——
            Total augmentation of Rental by Earl Robert      £2649  0  0
                                                             ===== == ==

If to this aggravation of the Rental we add his revenue from Tolls,
Customs, Droits, Escheat and triennial Grassums, and consider the forced
labour, the diminished area of cultivation, and the doubled penal
conversions for every deficiency of these impossible quantities, we may
estimate the income of Earl Robert and the misery of the Islanders;
though the _Rentale pro Rege et Episcopo_ (1592–1600), which exhibits
the numerical increase of exaction, is silent as to his aggravation of
the Weights and Measures.

This addition of a fifth to every actual payment was augmented to a
third by Earl Patrick’s similar aggravation of the Mark to 12 ounces;
and increased penal conversions were exacted for all arrears, rests, or
unpaid balance of duties beyond what the Islands could produce, till
their actual burdens thus aggravated, and valued at the current averages
of conversion, amounted to—

  1600.  _Butter_, 87½ Barrels at £20                       £1,750  0  0
         _Do._ loose, 1055 Lispunds at £2                    2,110  0  0
         _Grain_, 306 Lasts at £60                          18,360  0  0
         _Flesh_, 130½ Lasts at £16                          2,088  0  8
         _Swine_, 3 at £4                                       12  0  0
         _Hawkhens_, &c., 3242 at 1s.                          162  2  0
         _Peats_, &c., about                                    23  5  0
         _Money_                                               144 13  0
                                                             ————— —— ——
                Total Crown Rental of Earl Patrick         £25,650  0  0
                                                             ===== == ==

But besides this large revenue, and that derived from the Grassums,
Droits, Tolls, Customs, Fines, and other unrentalled, unacknowledged,
and unestimated perquisites, to the amount of about £6000 more, the
Stewart Earls were also Commendators of the Estates of the Church, to
which they proved no less dutiful as nursing fathers during their
possession of about half a century. The Rental of the Bishopric at the
Impignoration or beginning of the sixteenth century cannot be
ascertained, but at the time of James V.’s visit, the articles composing
the Church Rental (as shortly afterwards attested, and valued at the
prices of the period), amounted to the following sums and quantities:—

  1540.  _Butter_, 180½ Barrels at £3                         £541 10  0
         _Grain_, 79 Lasts at £5                               395  0  0
         _Flesh_, 12½ Lasts at £3                               37 10  0
         _Marts_, 4 at £1, 10s.                                  6  0  0
         _Hawkhens_, 217 at 6d.                                  5  8  6
         _Swine_, 2 at 15s.                                      1 10  0
         _Wax, Peats_, &c., about                               13  1  6
         _Silver_                                              251  2  6
                                                             ————— —— ——
            Total Rents and Teinds of Bishopric in 1540      £1251  2  6
                                                             ===== == ==

These quantities were officially attested by Bishop Adam in 1561, and in
1568 (the date of his first contract with Lord Robert), amounted at the
current prices to the value and quantity following, viz.—

  1568.  _Butter_ at £9 per Barrel                           £1624 10  0
         _Grain_ at £30 per Last                              2370  0  0
         _Flesh_ at £7, 4s.                                     90  0  0
         _Marts_ at £3, 12s.                                    14  8  0
         _Hawkhens_                                              5  8  6
         _Swine_ at £1, 16s.                                     3 12  0
         _Wax_, &c.                                             22  1  6
         _Silver_                                              251  2  6
                                                             ————— —— ——
                               Total                         £4381  2  6
                                                             ===== == ==

These articles, the amount of the Bishopric Rental at Earl Robert’s
entry, he increased to the following quantities at the same conversion:—

  1587.  _Butter_, 73½ Barrels at £9                          £661 13  0
         _Do._, 136 Lispunds 21 Marks at 12s.                   82  2  6
         _Grain_, 189 Lasts, 20 Meils, 5 Set^{ns}, at £30     5696  0 10
         _Flesh_, 84 Lasts, 18 Meils, 2 Set^{ns}, at £7,
           4s.                                                 610 10  0
         _Poultry_, 1046                                        26  3  0
         _Wax_, &c.                                             24  6  6
         _Silver_                                              299  7  2
                                                             ————— —— ——
                               Total                         £7400  0  0
                                                             ===== == ==

which by his aggravation of one-fifth of every weight and measure,
actually represented the following quantities and value at his death,

  1592.  _Butter_ in Barrels (unchanged)                      £661 10  0
         _Do._, Loose, 171 Lispunds at 12s                     102 12  0
         _Grain_, 237⅓ Lasts at £30                           7120  0  0
         _Flesh_, 105 Lasts 22 Meils at £7, 4s.                762 12  0
         _Poultry_                                              26  3  0
         _Wax_, &c.                                             27 15 10
         _Silver_                                              299  7  2
                                                             ————— —— ——
                               Total                         £9000  0  0
                                                             ===== == ==

Earl Patrick’s aggravation of one-third in like manner raised the actual
quantities paid from the Bishopric in the same proportion, and at the
current prices of conversion, to the following value:—

         _Butter_, 73½ Barrels at £20 per Barrel            £1,470  0  0
         _Do._, 182 Lispunds at £2 per Lispund                 364  0  0
         _Grain_, 253 at £60 per Last                       15,180  0  0
         _Flesh_, 113 Lasts at £16 per Last                  1,808  0  0
         _Poultry_, 1046 at 1s. each                            52  6  0
         _Swine_, 2 at £4                                        8  0  0
         _Wax_, &c., about                                      33  6 10
         _Money_                                               299  7  2
                                                             ————— —— ——
                         Total Bishopric.                  £19,215  0  0
                                                             ===== == ==

The following Abstract of the results of these Tables will exhibit
briefly the progressive increase of the burdens of Orkney during the
sixteenth century—

 1502. Crown Rental                                           £757  3  4

 1540. By a rise of prices—
          Crown                                £1382 10  0
          Bishopric                             1251  2  6

           Rental at the visit of James V.   ——————— —— ——    2633 12  6

 1568. By a farther rise of prices—
          Crown                                £6366 10  0
          Bishopric                             4381  2  6
          Lord Robert Stewart’s first Rental ——————— —— —— £10,747 12  6

 1592. By a rise of quantity, weight, and
          Crown                                £9016  0  0
          Bishopric                             9000  0  0
              Earl Robert’s final Rental     ——————— —— ——  18,016  0  0

 1600. By farther rise of quantity, weight,
         and price—
          Crown                              £25,650  0  0
          Bishopric                           19,215  0  0
           Earl Patrick’s Rental of Orkney   ——————— —— ——  44,865  0  0

I am not aware of any authentic Rental of the burdens of Zetland during
the sixteenth century, except the statement in the Charter to Maitland
and Bellenden (1587), and the Comptroller’s Accounts (1588), after
twenty years of Earl Robert’s aggravations of weight, measure, and
value, when a third had been added to the contents of every Pack of
Wadmæl and Lispund of Fat-gude at arbitrary conversions in a coinage as
arbitrary. The nominal quantities (for which the Donatary compounded
with the Royal Comptroller at £400) are there stated as follows:—

         _Wadmæl_, 167 Packs (of 60 Cuttels) at 6d. per
           Cuttel                                             £250 10  0
         _Butter_ and _Oil_, 1530 Lispunds at 12s. per
           Lispund                                             918  0  0
         _Wattel_, commuted at 105 Dollars at 30s. each        157 10  0
         _Tolls_, &c., 120 Angel-Nobles (at £4) and 20
           Dollars                                             510  0  0
                                                             ————— —— ——
           Total Rental accounted for by the Donataries      £1836  0  0
                                                             ===== == ==

But by the augmented Weight, Measure, and Price, the burdens actually
extorted from the Lordship of Zetland were raised (exclusive of Ox-money
and other unacknowledged exactions) to the amount and value of—

         _Wadmæl_, 167 Packs (of 80 Cuttels) at 2s. per
           Cuttel                                            £1336  0  0
         _Butter_, 2040 Lispunds at 18s. 8d.                  1904  0  0
         _Wattel_, 105 Dollars at 36s. each, with other
           augmentations                                       210  0  0
         _Tolls_, &c.                                         2000  0  0
                                                             ————— —— ——
                  Total actual burdens of Zetland            £5450  0  0
                                                             ===== == ==

From these Abstracts of the Revenues of the Crown Estate and Bishopric
of Orkney and of the Lordship of Zetland, the income drawn from the
Islands by Earl Patrick, exclusive of a multitude of unacknowledged
exactions, may be approximately stated thus—

 Orkney—   Crown Skatts, Duties, and
             Males                        £25,650  0  0
           Bishopric Rents and Teinds      19,215  0  0
           Tolls, Customs, Admiralty,
             Justiciary, &c. (about)        6,000  0  0
            Total Revenue of Orkney.      ——————— —— ——    £50,865  0  0
 Zetland—  Skatts, Males, Tolls, &c.                         5,450  0  0
                                                           ——————— —— ——
             Total Revenues of Earl
                     Patrick                            [3]£56,315  0  0

Footnote 3:

  About £5000 Sterling—a princely revenue in those days, when the
  general scarcity of coin, and poverty of kings and kingdoms had been
  met by a debasement of the coinage gradual and universal; but in
  Scotland so rapid, that the £ Scots, equivalent to the £ English in
  1366, was worth only 8s. in 1468—6s. 8d. in 1540—3s. 4d. in 1568—and
  1s. 8d. in 1600.

The peculation of subsequent Donataries, by the fraudulent increase,
fluctuation, and complexity of the Standards of Weight and Measure, and
consequent augmentation of the burdens of Orkney to the amount of 3000
Cattle, 5000 Bolls of Grain, 6218 Lispunds or Stones of Butter, and 700
Gallons of Oil, became (1750) the subject of the memorable PUNDLAR
PROCESS. To the various Memorials and Pleadings in that suit I must
refer for more minute details, as the whole difficult subject is there
discussed and exhausted, but in a form too long for insertion, and too
intricate for condensation. The evidence was complete, that the Crown
Donataries had for two centuries persistently, fraudulently, and
enormously increased the legal weights and measures of the Islands. But
after the Pursuers had been driven to incur the expense of this
elaborate proof, a decision was given against them on the merely
preliminary plea of prescription, to the disgrace of a corrupt or
partial Court. With such Judges even the specific evidence of date,
place, and person, now added by the complaints, might have had little
weight; perhaps they might have obsequiously convicted the Zetland
witnesses against Lawrence Bruce, of Conspiracy against “that worthy

                       GLOSSARY OF UNUSUAL WORDS.


  ANGEL, An English gold coin = 10s. sterling.

  ARFF, AYRFFE, N. ERFFD, _hereditas_, _heredium_, Heritage, succession.

  AYNING, N. EIGN, _possessio_, The Ownership of an Odaller.

  BABIE, BAWBEE, A coin = 1/2d. sterling, but varying from 3d. to 6d.

  BAILLIE, An official appointed by the Donatary to perform the
      functions of the ancient Under-fowd, especially in guarding the
      interests of the Crown.

  BALLIATUS, A parochial assessment for the Baillie’s salary, in
      addition to the ancient WATTEL, appropriated by the Donatary.

  BARREL, N. BARIEL, A measure of quantity = 15 Lispunds.

  BERE, _hordeum hexastichon_, A species of Barley, of six rows of


  BOLMAN, N. BU-MADR, _rusticus_, _inquilinus_, A husbandman, a yearly
      tenant or tenant at will.

  BONDER, N. BONDI, BONDE, _paterfamilias_, _colonus_, An Odaller.

  BORD-LAND, N. BORD, _mensa_, _cibus_, The guest quarters of the King
      or Jarl, and therefore exempt from skatt.

  BOTA-MALI, (N.) Offences expiable by compensation or damages to the
      injured party, or by Mulcts shared between him and the Crown,
      which derived no small part of its revenue from this source and
      from the OBOTA-MALI (_quod vide_).

  BULL, N. BOL, BU, _prædium nobile_, The principal farm of the
      ODALSJORD; sometimes called HEAD BULL, N. HOFD-BU, or CHEMISPLACE,
      Dan. HJEMS, _domus_.

  CAN, N. KANNA, A measure = 1/45 of a Barrel.

  CHETTRY, Revenue arising from the Scottish Casualty of Escheit.

  COMMONTY. Each TUN possessed its own SŒTTUR or Infield Common; each
      Skat-hald or Hrepp, its HAGI or Hill Pasture, shared exclusively
      by the HREPPISMEN of its TUNS; and each HERAD its MOAR, common to
      every HREPP and TUN of that VARD THING, but to none else.

  COST, Grain Rent, generally commuted at ⅓ of Meal and ⅔ of Malt or of
      raw grain.

  CUTTEL, ELL, N. ALIN, _ulna_, A measuring rod of the length of a
      Scottish Ell, used in Zetland as the fundamental unit of Length
      and of Valuation. A Cuttel of Wadmæl long bore a Standard value of
      6d. Scots—6 cuttels being equal to an EYRIE or “Ure” of Valuation;
      20 Cuttels = to a sheep, and six score or a “Large Hundred” to an
      ox. The value of the cuttel was raised to 2 shillings by Earl

  DOLLAR, A silver coin = 50d. sterling, but varying from 30s. to 40s.

  DOMERA, DOMERAL, N. DOM-ROF, _mulcta eorum qui judicia contemnunt_, A
      fine for contempt of court.

  DONATARY, A grantee of the Crown’s Skatts, Males, and Duties.

  EYSTERCOP, AUSTERCUP, N. EY-SETTR-KAUP, _merces insulæ conducendæ_, A
      fine paid every third year at each renewal of the Tack or Setting
      of the smaller islets—afterwards assumed to be equivalent to the
      Scottish _Grassum_; and still later both burdens were sometimes
      exacted in Zetland.

  FATGUDE, a term used in Zetland for the Butter or Oil paid to the

  FLESH, Rent paid in Cattle, generally estimated by Weight, 15 MEILS =
      an ox, 10 MEILS = a cow, 4 MEILS = a sheep. But this valuation
      rose and fell according to the caprice of the Donatary.

  FLORIN OF THE RHINE, A German gold coin = 2 dollars, also a Money of
      account = 100d. sterling.

  FORCOP, N. THING-FÖR-KAUP, _itineris forensis merces_, The Lawman’s
      salary for the Thing circuits; afterwards charged by the Donatary,
      first against the Crown, and again against the parishes on various
      pretexts, sometimes of Odal usage, sometimes of feudal claim; but
      according to Dufresne, “FORCAPIUM, _Exactio, Tributum haud
      debitum, per vim et contra jus captum._”

  FOUD, N. FOGETI, Dan. FOGUD, _quæstor Regius_, Collector of the King’s
      Skatt, Skyllds, Mulcts, etc., afterwards Chief Judge, and
      ultimately Sheriff of the Foudries of Zetland.

  GARTH, N. GARDR, _prædium nobile_, A portion of Odalsjord.

  GŒDINGR (N.) _Locuples_—GOFUGR, _nobilis, venerandus_—HOFDINGR,
      _procer, magnas_, terms applied in the Sagas to the Odaller,
      expressive of his superior wealth, dignity, and powers.

  GRANDRIE, GRANDORIE, N. GRAND-ROF, _noxarum castigatio_, A septennial
      Court to abate nuisances and punish local abuses.

  GUDLING, GULLION, A measure of quantity = 6 cuttels, or ⅒ of a pack of
      Wadmæl, but afterwards raised to 8 cuttels.

  GUEST-QUARTERS, The occasional residence of the King or Jarl as guest
      of the HUSBONDI, whose BORDLAND was exempt from Skatt on that

  HAGI, (N.) Dan. GRASMARK, _pascua_, Hill pasture, common to a TUN
      HOG-LEAVE, N. HAGA-LEYFI, _permissio pascuendi_—HAG-RA, _facultas
      pascuendi_—RIDING THE HAGRA, perambulation of the Marches of the

  HAWK-HENS, A general parochial burden of “poultry to feed the King’s
      falcons” taken in the islands; first exacted by Bishop William
      Tulloch (in addition to the new Scottish burden of Kanefowls,
      exigible from tenants only), and still occasionally demanded by
      the Queen’s Falconer.

  HERAD, (N.) _districtus montibus et mari terminatus_, A district
      containing several Hrepps or Skathalds, with their several Tuns or
      Rooms, and a MOAR common to them all.

      _congressus militum_.

  HOMER, HOEMOTHER, Sunfish, or Basking Shark.

  HREPP, (N.) _tribus_, The Community of HREPPMEN, or Skatt brethren
      possessing a SKATHALD, with common pasture in the MOAR, and a
      share of the Tulberskatt exacted from intruders not entitled to
      pasture there.

  HUSS-BONDI, (N.) _paterfamilias_—HUSS-KARL, _domesticus, operarius_.

  JOL, (N.) _natalitia Christi, initium Aquarii_, Yule or Christmas.

  LANDSETTERCOP, N. LAND-SETTR KAUP, _merces conductionis_, A fee or
      fine on letting or reletting a farm.

  LANDSKYLD, Dan. LAND-SKYLLD, N. LAND-SKULLD, Scot. Landmale, _debitum
      quod locator fundi debet domino præstare, locarium, redditus
      prædianus_, The rent of a farm.

  LAST, N. LÆST, _mensura oneris nautici_, A measure = 12 Barrels; also
      a weight = 24 Meils.

  LAW-BOOK, N. LÖG-BOK, _codex legum_, Book of Laws.

  LAWMAN, N. LÖG-MADR, _nomophylax_, The President of the Althing,
      Keeper and Expounder of the Law-book, and Chief Judge of Orkney,
      anciently paid by the assessment of FÖRKAUP, and afterwards by the
      Scottish Government, and ultimately abolished or merged in the
      office of Sheriff.

  LAWRIGHTMAN, N. LÖG-RETTA-MADR, _scabinus_, An Official chosen by the
      Vard-Thing, and charged with the custody and application of the
      Standards of Weight and Measure, and the general interests of the
      Herad or Parish, especially in the Law-thing, where he acted as
      Assessor of the Lawman or Foud. The name was latterly given to the
      inferior local umpires of minor questions of Scandal, Marches, or
      breaches of the Sheep Acts, more correctly called RANCELMEN.

  LÆANGER, N. LEDANGR, _contributio in præsidium patriæ_, A Tax paid in

  LEIGUMADR, (N.) _conductor prædii_, A Tenant farmer under a formal
      Tack of Assedation, generally for three years, but renewable on
      payment of Grassum, LANDSETTR or EYSETTR-COP.

  LISPUND, LESPUND, LESCHPUND (idem ac SETTEEN q. vide), A Weight = 24
      Marks, or ⅙ of a Meil, or 1/15 of a Barrel; gradually raised by
      the donataries from 12 to 18 ℔ Scots measure.

  MARK, N. MÖRK, _bes, sonulibru, octo unciæ_, A weight = 8 ounces or
      1/24 of a Lispund or Setteen, gradually raised to 20 ounces; also
      a Land-Measure, not of extent, but of valuation proportioned to
      the taxation, and regulating both rights and burdens.

  MEIL, N. MÆLIR, A Weight = 6 Lespunds, or 1/24 of a Last.

  MERK, A Scottish coin = 13s. 4d. or ⅔ of a Pound Scots.

  MŒLISCOP, A local Land-measure = ⅙ of a pennyland.

  MUIR, Islandic MOAR, _ericetum_, Heath pasture, common to all the
      Skathalds and Hrepps of a Herad.

  MUIR STANE, N. MOAR STENN, The idol, afterwards (till lately) the
      THINGSTOD of a HERAD, or Vard-Thing.

  NOBLE, ANGEL-NOBLE, An English gold coin = 10 shillings sterling.

  NONENTRY, A Scottish Feudal casualty.

  O-BOTA-MALI, (N.) _crimen ære non expiabile_, Crime inferring death,
      exile, or forfeiture to the King.

  ODAL, N. ODAL, _allodium, prædium hereditarium_, The estate of an
      Odaller; quasi ODH-AL _plena possessio_.

  ODAL-BORN, N. ODAL-BORINN, _natus ad heredium avitum, viz., rectâ
      lineâ a primo occupante_.

  ODALRED, N. ODH-AL-RÆDI, _jus plenæ possessionis a primo occupante_.

  ODALLER, ODALSMADR, _dominus allodialis_, The Free possessor of an

  ODALSJORD, (N.) _prædium hereditarium_.

  OX-MONEY and SHEEP-MONEY, Exactions in Zetland, grounded upon the
      provisions furnished to Bothwell.

  PACK, N. PACKI, A quantity of Wadmæl = 10 Gudlings.

  PLOWK, Scot. A plug or pin.

  PUNDLAR, N. PUNDARI, _statera_, An instrument of Weight of two kinds,
      viz., the Malt-pundlar for Lispunds, Meils, and Lasts of Malt—1
      Last = 24 Meils = 144 Lispunds; and the Bere-pundlar for Bere
      only, but estimating the Last as containing 36 Meils, or one-third
      more than the Malt-pundlar, according to a conventional proportion
      of raw to dried grain.

  PURPRESION, PURPRESTURE, A feudal casualty of forfeiture or fine for
      encroachment on the rights of the Overlord.

  QUOY, N. QUI, _area circumsepta_, An enclosure.

  RENTALS OF ORKNEY, Records of the Odaller’s Skatts, Tenants’ Males,
      Vassal’s Feu-duties, and Parish burdens, chargeable by the
      Donatary or Chamberlain.

  ROOM, N. RUM, _locus_, The same in Zetland as TUN in Orkney.

  ROTHE, ROYTH, N. RŒDI, _dispensatio rei œconomicæ_, The Odaller’s
      Conditions and Rights as master of his own house—ROITHISMEN and
      ROTHISMEN’S SONS, Odallers and Odalborn.

  SAMYNG, N. SŒMD, _honos, decus_, An Odaller’s Rank and Dignity as a
      free-born Thingman.

  SCHYND, SCHOIND, SCHOWND, N. SKYND, Dan. SKJON, _ratio_, An Inquest of
      Thingmen to examine, sanction, and confirm all procedure
      respecting the Succession, Impignoration, or Alienation of
      Heritage; anciently by a _vivâ voce_ doom, but frequently (after
      the accession of the Scottish Jarls) by a SKYND-BREF or “Schynd

  SCOULDING, N. SKULLD, _debitum, crimen, mulcta_, A Thing for civil
      debts, damages, and fines for minor offences.

  SET, N. SETTR, _pactio_, An agreement, the letting of land.

  SETTEEN, SETTING, N. SETTUNGR, _sextans_, A weight = 24 marks, or ⅙ of
      a Meil, _idem ac_ LISPUND _et_ SPAN.

  SETTER, N. SŒTTUR, The infield pasture of a TUN.

  SKAT, N. SKATTR, _vectigal, tributum_, The Tax upon all land occupied
      by Odal-red, for the support of the Crown, and expense of
      government—SKATT-BRETHREN, N. SKAT-BRŒDIR, Members of the same
      Skathald, called also HREPPISMEN—SKAT-FAL, (N.) Failure for two
      years to pay Skatt, punished by confiscation, unless
      redeemed—SKATTALD, N. SKAT-HALD, A district or HREPP containing
      several TUNS or ROOMS, with an exclusive HAGI, and a share in the
      MOAR of the HERAD.

  SKYLD, LAND-SKYLD, Dan. LAND-SKYLD, A Tenant’s Rent, as opposed to
      SKATTR, Odaller’s Tax.

  SKYLLING or QUHYT, A Danish coin = 1½d. Scots, afterwards raised to
      6d. by Earl Robert.

  SPAN, idem ac LESPUND.

  STEFN, (N.) _citatio_, A Summons, afterwards a Court or Assembly.

  STEMBOD, N. STEFN-BOD, _signum citationis_, A symbol of citation,
      being a Staff for ordinary Meetings, an Arrow for matters of
      urgency or haste, an Axe for a Court of Justice, and a Cross for
      Ecclesiastical or Religious affairs.

  STENT, N. STEND, _stare, equivalere_, The amount of Butter Skatt
      legally due by each ODAL-TUN.

  TACK, A Lease of a farm, sometimes of a considerable district, or
      sometimes even of the whole Earldom, or Bishopric—TACKSMAN, the
      holder of such a lease. The term is generally applied to the
      Farmers of the Crown Rents and Revenues.

  THING, (N.) _comitia_, An Assembly, Parliament, or Court of Freemen.

      AL-THING, _forum universale_, A general Assemblage of all

      HERADS-THING or STEFN, A district Meeting of HERADSMEN.

      HIRDMANS-THING or STEFN, A Council of Warriors.

      HOF-THING, _consultatio de rebus sacris_.

      HUSS-THING, _consultatio de rebus domesticis_.

      LAW-THING, A Court of Law—LEIDAR-THING, A War Council.

      VARD-THING, HREPPAMOT or HREPPA STEFN, An Assembly of the
      Skatt-brethren of a Hrepp or Skathald.

  THING-STOD (N.) _locus comitiorum_.

  THRÆLL, (N.) _servus_, A slave.

  TOFT, N. TOMT, _area domus vacua_, Land once tilled but abandoned.

  TOWN, N. TUN, _viridarium, pratum_, The original ODALSJORD of a Primal
      Occupant or LAND-NAMA-MADR, possessing its own exclusive SŒTTUR, a
      share of the HAGI, and rights of commonty in the MOAR.

  TUMALE, Scot., Land enclosed from the common pasture, and tilled; but
      not included in the original ODAL-TUN.

  TULBERSKATT, N. TOLD-BŒR-SKATT, A fine or rent exacted by the
      Vard-Thing from unentitled intruders on the MOAR of its HERAD.

  TUN-GARDR, (N.) _sepimentum viridarii_, Hill-dyke.

  UMBOTHSMAN, N. UMBODS MADR, _procurator, mandatarius_, An agent,
      procurator, for-Speaker, or advocate.

  UNDER-FOUD, An Official in every parish of Zetland, with local duties
      and powers similar to those of the Head Foud, especially in
      representing and watching the interest of the Government, latterly
      superseded by the _Bailie_.

  URE ORE, N. EYRIR, _uncia_, An ounce, the fundamental unit of all
      Orkneyan mensuration, being 1/8th of a Mark. URISLAND, A
      denomination of Land Value = 1/8th of a Mark of Land, or 18

  VATN, (N.) _aqua, lacus_.

  VIKINGR, (N.) _pirata_. VIKING (N.) _piratica_. HAUST- or VOR-VIKING,
      an Autumnal or Spring expedition.

  VŒ-BOND, (N.) _sepimentum dicasterii_, tutela pacis publicæ, Anciently
      the cord which encircled the Thing-stod, and the rupture of which
      dissolved the meeting—from its peculiar sanctity it came to
      signify an Asylum or Sanctuary.

  VŒRINGR, (N.) _miles Nordmannus Imperatoris Græci_.

  WARD HILL, WART HILL, N. VARDI, _strues lapidum_, The hill on which
      the beacon was lighted to give warning of approaching danger.

  WATTEL, WATTLE, N. VOTTR-TEL, _testes numerare_, The ancient
      assessment for the salary of the Under-foud for summing up the
      evidence at the VARD-THING, afterwards a perquisite of the
      Baillie, in addition to the Balliatus.

  ZOPINDALE, YOWPINDAL, A silver coin = 15 shillings Scots in 1541, but
      raised by Earl Robert to 20 shillings in 1572.

  ZOWISWORTH, YOWISWORTH, COWSWORTH, a proportion of Odal-land = 1/10th
      of a pennyland.


          UNUSUAL WORDS.”

  In the Introduction—

  P. xix, line 7, for “LEIGN-MADR,” read “LEIGU-MADR.”

  P. xxxv, line 10, for “Leign-men,” read “Leigu-men.”

  P. xli, line 3, _dele_ the comma after “rights,” and read “of rights

  P. xli, line 8, _dele_ the comma after “casualty.”

  P. xli, line 28, for “the Crown,” read “the Crown-lands.”

  P. xliii, line 21, for “Few,” read “Feu.”

  P. 8, line 21, for “In stopping of all ferries of the country, to
          transport sic as he pleased, to stop and” &c., read “In
          stopping of all ferries of the country to transport sic as he
          pleased to stop, and” &c.

  P. 10, line 4, for “countryman,” read “countrymen.”

  P. 16, line 2, for “office be himselff,” read “office, he himselff.”

  P. 34, line 5, for “wadwell,” read “wadmell.”

 P. 38, lines 19, 20, 21, 24,│
 ... 46, line 7,             │
 ... 58, lines 23, 27,       │
 ... 59, line 29,            │for “babeis,” read “s.” a contraction for
                             │  shillings.
 ... 60, line 13,            │
 ... 62, line 11.            │
 ... 70, line 11, and        │
 ... 88, line 5,             │

  P. 77, lines 7, 25, for “reddendo,” read “reddens.”

                                THE END.


                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES

 1. P. 130, made all corrections noted in the Errata.
 2. P. 28, changed “elder and zounger” to “elder and younger”.
 3. Silently corrected typographical errors in punctuation.
 4. Retained anachronistic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings as
 5. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.

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