Friday, October 31, 2014

1685 - The Mercat Cross

[This is part of  a series of articles on the year 1685.  You might want to read the Overview first.]

June 30, 1685

On this day Archibald Campbell, the 9th Earl of Argyll, was led from the Laigh Council House to the Mercat Cross of Edinburgh.  This was the normal site for public business including executions.  The Maiden had been moved out of storage and quickly erected atop an elevated platform for all to see.

Artist's rendering of the Maiden.
As would be expected a large crowd gathered.  Many of Argyll's fellow rebels were imprisoned within earshot in the Edinburgh Tolbooth.  They listened to the hubbub outside.  The Canongate prisoners, a few blocks down the road at Canongate Tolbooth, were also aware of the execution and its timing.  But other than the noise of onlookers headed in that direction and the distant din of the masses trying to talk above the roar of the crowd they could not get the real sense of the local drama.

Argyll climbed the steps to the Maiden.  He knelt, embraced the device, uttered " Lord Jesus, receive
me into Thy glory" three times, raised his hand as a signal to the executioner, and it was over.

Mercat Cross  From wikipedia:  "A mercat cross is the Scots name for the market cross found frequently in Scottish towns, cities and villages where historically the right to hold a regular market or fair was granted by the monarch, a bishop or a baron. It therefore served a secular purpose as a symbol of authority, and was an indication of a burgh's relative prosperity."  The Mercat Cross of Edinburgh was first granted before 1365.  It became the spot for all major public events.

The Rothemayus map of Edinburgh of about 1647 gives a great feel for the location of various sites along the Royal mile in 1685 when Argyll was executed and Robert Campbell sat in the Canongate Tolbooth.

Mercat Cross today
Pavers indicate location of Mercat Cross in 1685.  Royal Mile is on the right leading to the Castle.  Straight ahead in the monument of Adam Smith.  On the left is the back of St. Giles Cathedral.  On the very left a sliver of the current Mercat Cross is visible.

1685 - The Canongate Tolbooth and the Declaration of Robert Campbell

[This is part of  a series of articles on the year 1685.  You might want to read the Overview first.]

June 22, 1685

By this date the rebels who had been imprisoned at the Glasgow tolbooth, had been moved to various prisons in the Edinburgh area.  On this date the "declarations" of  "the prisoners sent from Glasgow" were entered into the records of the Privy Council of Scotland.  Robert Campbell, a tenant of Kildalvan, his two brothers, and his father were among them.  Robert Campbell is the grandfather of the subject of this blog, Joel Campbell.

Canongate Tolbooth today

The Canongate prison was a relatively good place to be locked up.  The Historian Hugo Arnot wrote in 1777,  "Debtors of the better sort are commonly taken to this prison, which is well aired, has some decent rooms, and is kept tolerably clean."

From additional signage:  "This building, completed in 1591, replaced an earlier tolbooth known to have been in existence by 1477.  It acted as the focal point of local affairs in the burgh of Canongate until 1856.  The main entrance to the building was on the first floor, and at this level was a large chamber, used as a courtroom and as a meeting-place for the burgh council.  The remainder of the building was used as a prison until 1848."
Declarations of Canongate Prisoners of June 22, 1685 in the The Register of the Privy Council of Scotland:
 "Archibald Campbell in Glenderule in Kildalvans land confesses he wes with the rebells but prest and wes in company with Kildalvin his master and declares that Elandgreg keept the garisone of Eland Greg; declares that Melforts sone Alexander Campbell and a son of Auchtaharlie wes at the takeing of the declarant and his thre sones and forceing them out to the rebells; owns the kings authoritie; declares that he and his sones were the first that made away from the rebells before they were disipat but before they took armes they were keept prisoners five days before they would lift armes."
"John Campbell in Kildalvills lands declares that his father and his uther two brether was taken by the rebells in the fields and caryed away with the deponent himselfe when they were hyding their goods; declares that they were keept with a guard in the night tyme in case they had run away and they durst not goe away in the day tyme for fear of being shott; declares he was seven or eight dayes in the rebells company before the break, and was apprehended by Carsburne in his way home; declares a sone of McNeall of Melfoord that aprehended the declarant and took him away by force and prayes for the King and ownes his authority."  [note there was a "poor young boy" named John Campbell that was a declarant appearing immediately after the declaration of Archibald, but not related and not to be confused with this John.]
"Robert Campbell, sone to Archbald Campbell in Kiltalvien, and declares that he saw Kildalven in Allencraig and he separet the night before the defeate from Argyles forces, and that he ownes the Kings authority."
There is no recorded declaration for David Campbell who is believed to be the third son. 

Mock up of prison cell in the Peoples Museum at Canongate.
Signage above portal:  "Old Tolbooth Wynd"
Looking up the Royal Mile.  Canongate Tolbooth tower and clock on right.
Old painting of the Canongate Tolbooth
Canongate photo from 1870s

Also see this 1647 map credited to Rothemayus.  Canongate tolbooth is No. 32.  It is easily identified by the steps from the 1st floor that lead down to the street.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

1685 - Kildalvan - A small historic village on a hillside above the River Ruel - Part 2

June 12, 1685

[This is part of  a series of articles on the year 1685.  You might want to read the Overview first.]

This is the second of two posts on Kildalvan.  First Post.  More on Glendaruel.

Kildalvan sits on the western slope of Glendaruel.  The major part of the village was on a small flat "step" on the hill.  It was also bounded by two streams on its north and south edges.

The blue map pin indicates the area of Kildalvan.  Note the streams below and above the pin which seem to bound the village structures.  Also note that the isoclines are not as close near the village indicating a relative flat "step" between two steeper  parts of the hill.
The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) has mapped some of the village and described it as follows:
"This is one of a series of settlements at an elevation of about 100m on the NW slope of Glendaruel. Limestone from the hill above was burnt in a small kiln 250m to the NE, at the early chapel that gave its name to the township, and the lower slopes retain semi-natural oak and ash woodland which continues further up the streams and was of economic value in the 18th century.
There are remains of extensive rig-cultivation below a large turf dyke which runs NE to the chapel site, and the upland grazings extended to the watershed 1.8km to the NW. The main settlement was on the NE bank of an unnamed burn[stream], with a smaller group of buildings to the SW. The former is itself divided into two groups by a track curving from a ford on the burn to the arable ground on the NE.
The upper group comprises a three-unit building, 24m by 5.8m over 0.8m drystone walls, whose upper (NW) two unit, revetted into the slope, are probably original despite a considerable difference in floor-level, and two small byres or stores revetted into the slope on the N. There is a stone-revetted garden or stackyard between the track and a building, and a smaller turf-walled enclosure SE of the main building.
A circular corn-drying kiln and an open-ended shed were situated at the edge of the steep slope to the burn, SW of the building, and a second kiln occupied a similar position about 80m further upstream. Both kilns measure about 2m in internal diameter, but are much overgrown. The principal building in the lower group is again of three units, measuring 15m by 6m over 1m walls, but the upper of the walls forming a narrow central room is probably inserted; a narrower annexe was added against the SE-wall. A very ruinous outbuilding appears to have been contracted in length, and 6m from its SE wall there is a boulder bearing a series of cupmarks and two basins, the larger 0.23m in diameter by 0.13m in depth.
The lower outbuilding, 30m SE of the principal one, is very ruinous and overgrown, but from its original position on an isolated knoll it may have been a winnowing-barn.
Another building near the bur[n], 14m by 6m over all, is much reduced and turf-grown, and may have been an early building from which stone has been robbed.
The SW group includes two buildings and several turf-walled enclosures, with a track from the ford and others to a higher NW terrace. The lower building, 12m by 5.5m over all, is very ruinous except at the SE end, and was probably a dwelling, robbed to form a byre or shed. The other building stands to a height of 1.5m but has no features except a door in the NW end-wall, leading into an annexe against the hillside. A well-built stone enclosure, shown on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Argyllshire 1869, sheet clxii) as a sheepfold, abuts this building to the SW, and it was probably an older structure adapted for sheep-farming in the 19th century.
The lands of Kildalvan were first recorded, in Lamont ownership, in 1491, and seven years later they were acquired by the 2nd Earl of Argyll, whose descendant in 1604 granted them to Archibald Campbell notary. The property continued to be held by a family of Campbell lairds until the second half of the 18th century, when Lachlan Campbell of Kildalvan was described as 'mariner in Greenock' and in 1780 he sold it to John Campbell of Glendaruel, retaining the tenancy. The settlement was probably abandoned in the first half of the 19th century, and is shown as ruinous on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map.
RCAHMS 1988 A township comprising seven unroofed buildings, a sheepfold, a field-system and head-dyke is depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Argyllshire 1869, sheet clxii). Two unroofed buildings, some lengths of dyke and the sheepfold are shown on the current edition of the OS 1:10000 map (1979). " (see
Despite this detailed description and a village plan map of Kildalvan, I had a hard time finding many of these structures due to the overgrowth.
Go here to see the RCAHMS village plan
I climbed the hill following the path of either farm implements or herd animals.  On either side of me was often impassably high grass.  Even where I walked it was very grassy and soon my shoes were soaking wet from rain water still clinging to the blades of grass.  My GPS told me that finally I should be standing where the chapel of Kildalvan had been.  It was not what I expected.  It was right against a sharp drop off down to a stream out of which were growing trees and other dense foliage.
Trees indicate the path of the stream that runs past the site of the Chapel where I am standing.  Note the dense foliage in the gully of the stream and the tall grass where I stand.
Foundation of chapel appears to go right to edge of drop off down to stream.  The grass covers the foundation and the foliage is sticking up from the steep drop off to the stream.
This is looking South from the Chapel at the "flat step" between the two streams.  The main part of the village is at the other end of this flat area.
A view of the eastern side of Glendaruel from the Kildalvan Chapel on the western side.
There were very few stones or walls that would indicate a building at the site of the chapel.  The only indication of a structure was a depression in the middle of a built up area, 

I walked along the "flat" area to the south to find the main ruins of the village.  The RCAHMS write-up seems to indicate that the flat area may not be natural, rather was a diked area.  The picture below show the break in the incline of the hill.

The hill climbs steadily, then levels out.  The level area is where a slight ridge is seen and the long grass starts.  An old dike?
As I got close to the southern stream, there was a natural path of stone that dropped down to the water.

Looking up the natural stone path from the stream.
The southern bounding stream at the end of the natural stone path.  There was plenty of quartz along this route.
The southern stream.  Not large, but would have been excellent for drinking water.
Not far from there were the major stone structures that still remain of Kildalvan.

Stone ruins at Kildalvan.
Stone ruins at Kildalvan.  Note thickness of wall.  The rock on the right is quartz.

Stone ruins at Kildalvan.
Stone wall at Kildalvan almost hidden by tall ferns.

On June 13, 1685 after the rebel army had headed eastward towards Loch Striven, the village of Kildalvan sat absent of its leading men.  The remaining family members knew from the long history of Scottish conflicts that it was likely their men would never return.   Robert Campbell, his brother , and his father were all with the rebels.  They would never return.  Their trailing family members were left widowed and orphaned.

1685 - Kildalvan - A small historic village on a hillside above the River Ruel - Part 1

June 12, 1685

[This is part of  a series of articles on the year 1685.  You might want to read the Overview first.]

On about this day, my seventh great grandfather, Robert Campbell, left the Ruel River Valley and his native village of Kildalvan, never to see them again.  In fact, no descendant would return to the village for centuries.  By the time they did, the village was long uninhabited, in ruins, and covered with undergrowth.

A few days earlier, the Clan Chief, Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll had arrived in the valley.  This would be his final stop in recruiting from his loyal clansmen before his rebel army marched east towards Glasgow.  Robert marched with them.  You can read more about this valley known as "Glendaruel" in an earlier blog.

Glendaruel was a river valley.  Many other valleys in the Highlands of Scotland contained fresh or sea water lakes.  The Ruel River is not large and may not have been a great source of fish which was a predominant industry in other neighboring valleys with lakes.  The soil was rocky with few remaining trees.  What soil existed was soggy from multiple rivulets that cascaded at frequent intervals down the valley slopes.

Cowal Peninsula and Glendaruel.   Kildalvan is located at the purple pin on the west side of the valley.
Glendaruel runs north to south.  Near the river the land flattens.  The marshy bottoms were (and still are) excellent grazing areas for livestock.  The wet ground and frequent flooding were likely reasons that the ancient inhabitants of Kildalvan built it farther up on the hillside.

I say "ancient inhabitants" for two reasons.  The first is the presence of "cup-stones."  Although these have not been dated they often have origins thousands of years B.C.

RCAHMS map show location of "Cup-marked Stone."
Cup-stone at Kildalvan
This type of rock art in Scotland is thought to have used quartz as the engraving tool.  There is certainly plenty of quart at the Kildalvan site.

Piece of quartz from Kildalvan site.
The second reason I say "ancient" is the association of its name with early Christianity.  "Kil" is the celtic word for church and there is evidence for a chapel at this site.  Kildalvan was in the parish of "Kil"modan and there is still a chapel on that site today just a short hike down the valley.  Kilmodan was founded by St. Modan around 600 AD and it is likely that the Kildalvan chapel dates to that same period.

A one lane road winds along the west side of the river up the valley.  In the pastures on the river side of the road roam cattle and sheep.  On the opposite side of the road tall grasses and brush cover the hillside.  Sheep graze here also and deer rest on beds of the tall grass.

I parked near a cattle grate where a stream passes under the road, then started up the hill in search of the tiny village where my ancestors had perhaps lived for centuries.
Looking up Glendaruel.  Pastures then the river is on the right.  Kildalvan is up the hill to the left.
Picture Tour of Kildalvan

Monday, October 27, 2014

Robert Erskine's Map of "The Fort at Nicoll's Point" - December 1777

Robert Erskine was the General Manager of the Ringwood Ironworks in the Hudson Highlands when his mapmaking skills were called upon by the Continental Army.  His commission as Geographer and Surveyor-General to the American Army is dated July 27, 1777 but in November, George Washington was still asking Erskine when he thought he would "be able to enter upon any of the duties of the office of which I spoke to you about last summer."  This secrecy around the undertaking hints at its strategic importance to the Commander in Chief.

Small section of Erskine map.  Entire map is on-line at NYHS.
Erskine's response from Ringwood on November 24th, 1777 was that it was his resolve to start in the Spring of 1778 and devote his whole time to it.  He then added, "Meanwhile I have the satisfaction of giving some part of my time now to the public service; Govr. Clinton having accepted of my assistance at New Windsor; where I have been taking Surveys and Levels of the ground near the Chevaux-de-Frise, for a Fort; which is erecting under the direction of the French Engineer Your Excellency sent to Fort Montgomery.  I am happy to assist a gentleman of skill in his profession, from whom much of the art of practical Engineering many be learnt, and I shall return to the North River again in a few days to finish some surveys at New Windsor, Forts Constitution, Montgomery, etc." [See prior blog on Chevaux-de-Frise.]

In Robert Erskine's own index of maps, Number 1 D is the map of "Nichol's Hill, N. Rr.;Butter Hill &c."  The soldiers of that day called it "The Fort at Nicoll's Point."  This map is undoubted one of the first of his many historic maps that were used by General George Washington and the Continental Army.

The map can be seen in the digital works of the New York Historical Society.  The map location of "Nicoll's Point" today can be seen at this link.

In November of 1777 the lower Hudson Valley was still in shock over the October 6th destruction of their Forts Montgomery and Clinton and the harassment of their shores as the British fleet sailed up the Hudson enroute to the burning of the city of Kingston.  The capture of General Burgoyne's army further north at Saratoga was of little consolation.

Almost immediately upon the departure of the British fleet, river obstructions were being rebuilt or new ones planned.  Strangely enough, one obstruction of early focus was the fort and chevaux-de-frise at Nicoll's Point.  "Strange" because it had failed totally in obstructing the British fleet.  The fort's cannon were ineffective and the fleet sailed right through the sunken hull-piercers.  For more on the chevaux-de-frise go here:

As evidenced by the map of Erskine, the fort was substantial and involved the work of several militia companies.  The British would never put this fortification to the test.  In fact, its usefulness would be eliminated by the imposing West Point obstruction that would be in place just six months later.

From pension records we know that many of the local militia worked on this fort in November and December of 1777.  John McMichael, a private in the Ulster county militia company of Telford, was called up "for (the) purpose of erecting a fortification at Nicol's Point near New Windsor." Similarly Christian Rockefeller of Hanover was also called up. Andrew Wilson of Hanover was only sixteen when he served at Nicoll's Pt in Capt Conklin's company as a substitute for Jacob Laurence.  Christian Young testified that he had  "marched to Newburgh and spent the "fore part of the winter" constructing a Chevaux deFrise at that place."  Samuel Crawford of Hanover similarly testified that in November 1777 he served with Capt Telford's company of militia for 2 months, "engaged in building forts at a place in the county of Orange on said North River called Nichol's Point and was quartered in a barn belonging to one Leonard Nichols where he spent Christmas day."   In this service he was a substitute for James Kidd (Kidd was his Uncle, "a man of wealth in feeble health and was in the habit of procuring substitutes to do his militia duty").

Many of the Campbells were living in the area of Capt Conklin's company mentioned above.  His company was called the West Newburgh company and he appears to have recruited from those living in eastern Hanover.  Joel is listed in a muster roll of exempts in Conklin's company in 1779.  My searches for pay records, pension records, musters, and diaries from the fort's construction have revealed very little.  There is certainly nothing that would exclude Joel, his brothers, nephews, or sons from having been a part of this construction.  In fact, it is very likely that some of them had a hand in building the fortifications and/or the chevaux-de-frise.

The original map is at the New York Historical Society, but only a photostat negative is available to researchers.  Because the on-line version is hard to read, I have included some of the map annotations below.  My clarifications are in []s.

"No. 1 D
Nichol's Hill, North Rr [Hudson River]
Butter Hill [Now Storm King Mountain], &c."

Home on the left:  "Squire Nicolls"  [Presumably where Samuel Crawford and other militia spent Christmas Day.]
At Bottom: "Murderers Creek"
The Point: "Plumb point"
To the Right:  "North River"
Below the compass symbol:  "Due North"
Top right:  "Wood land upon & round the slope of Nicols Hill is 34 1/2 acres"

Bottom Right:
"Scale  20 inches to a mile
4 chains is an inch [a chain is 22 yards]
Surveyed December 1777 by
Robt Erskine FRS"