1745 Mr. McLaurin’s Journal of what passed relating to the Defence of Edinburgh from Monday Septemr. 2d. till monday Septemr.
This journal describes Colin MacLaurin’s efforts to defend Edinburgh against the Jacobite Army, which includes his McLaurin cousins in the Stewart of Appin Clan Regiment. Transcription by Patrick McLaurin
The Accounts from the North becoming more and more unfavourable, above Twenty Gentlemen of known good affection to his Majesty and the Government mett at Mrs. Clarks who agreed to apply to the Lord Provost that he would give Orders for putting the Town in as good a state of Defence as possible with all expedition. It was Complained of in this meeting that an Application which had been made the week before to his Lordship had not mett with due encouragement but that the persons who waited on his Lordship and their Zeal had been Rediculed and made the subject of Insipid Jokes, The Company Resolved that whatever discouragements they might be meet with from those who duty was to have Animated them they should meet frequently and Promote to the utmost of their power whatever might Tend to the Defence of the Town, In the meantime they appointed two of their number. B [aili] - e S [tuar] - t. and Mr. M [c] -- L [auri] --n to wait on the Provost next morning with a general Instruction to beg he would see to the Defence of the town and offer their assistance, and three particular Instructions :- 1. That he would order the making Molds (or Calms) for Bullets, it having been found on Tryall that all in the shops had been bought up of late by ladies who had been sent for them. 2. That the Sluice of the North loch by which the water Issues from it should be shut and secured, that it might fill up. 3. That they should Propose to his Lordship the making a Distinction betwixt the Inhabitants of known good affection and such as were Suspected when he came to entrust them with the Towns Arms and take proper measures that the City should not be in danger from within as in 1715. Ld. Provost gave a satisfactory answer to the first two of these, But as to the third he did not give the satisfaction desired, but after a good deal of reasoning he said that if the Town came to be attacked he would so far make a distinction as to Entrust the Towns Arms with the most substantiall Burghers and this was all could be obtained from him, He said that if 1000 men had a mind to get into this Town he could not see how they could hinder them, In answer to this the number of Trades:lads in Edinburgh, or the Gentlemen who would Associate to save the Town, the unskillfullness the Highlanders had always shewn in attacking ston walls, their want of Artilary and being ill armed with the assistance that would be got from the Dragoons in all probability, were urged, It was Insisted our doing something was requisite to save the Reputation of the Town to Devert the Enemy from coming this way and to raise a Spirit in the Country, To this he Answered that to pretend to do when we could do little was to expose us to Redicule, other Discouraging Expressions were used but at the end he said he would be glad of advice from sensible Burghers and have regard to it
Little materiall passed till Septr 5. when the same Company with some addition of other Gentlemen mett at the same place, And now the danger appearing more imminent they entered into an Association as Volunteers to serve for the Defence of the place at the hazard of their Lives and Fortunes under the direction of the Lord Provost This was signed by all present and by 200 before twelve next day They appointed some of their number to present this to the Lord Provost to desire they might be allowed to choose their Officers and that he would apply to Genll. Guest for Arms to them. They were likeways ordered to Entreat that the Parapet of the Wall might be cleared which in many places had been slop't up with Stone and Lime to prevent smuggling that stairs should be made for getting up to it at proper distances that Cannon should be got from the Ships to be placed on the Flanks and gates.
The Ld. Provost Declared now and always afterwards that he would Insist on the priviledges of his Office & did not leave the Nomination of the Officers to the Volunteers but allowed them to make up a List of 30 or 40 or more from which he would choose them, He walked with some of the Magistrats and Volunteers about a part of the Wall, he said then he could not see but if 2000 had a mind to get into the Town they must succeed, After looking at a part of the Wall he desired Mr. M - L -- n one of the Volunteers to take the trouble to make a Plan of it which he promised to do.
It was thought proper to draw up an Article of News concerning the Association to Encourage others to Join and rouse the Lethargisk Spirit of the Countrey, After it was written it was thought decent and dutyfull to show it to the Provost that "this Proposall was accepted by the Lord Provost" were altered by him. He would have it that the Lord Provost Accquiesced in this Proposall" This alteration was much regreted by those who were Sincerely Zealous in this Cause being sensible that in so Criticall a time more than Accquies was requisite in the Magistrats to Animate the Burghers and foreseeing as it happened that the Trades would not be warm when the Magistrats were so cool The Volunteers however soon rose to 400, the expences of the works proposed were much talked and complained of at this time and afterwards.
The Plan of the wall was made ready and presented to the Councill at 6. a clock, the weak places were pointed out and what was most necessary to be done proposed The Lord Provost desired an Estimate might be made of the expence But it was answered that could not easiely be done and would require time It was Proposed the Flanks should be first taken care of as the time which the Rebells would take to come to Edinburgh was uncertain, That the doing as much as we could did not hinder Capitulating if necessary That there was a double chance for Releif either from Sir John Cope or the Dutch so that Holding out one day or two might save the Toun, But that dispatch was necessary above all things and all the workmen that could be got ought to be employed.
The Workmen Cleared a part of the Parapet but the number was very small for this day and indeed for the whole week till Septr. 15. Of this Complaints were made every night but to little or no purpose Sometimes there were only two dozen when there ought to have been as many hundreds for now the Rebells were at Perth. It was round that the Parapet when cleared was too narrow in several places and that it was necessary to add to it by Scaffolding, This was done in some places but so few men were employed that in others it was not executed.
The work went on but slowly some of the Embrazures on the Flanks, for the Cannon and in the Curtains for the Musketeers were opened.
A Scheme of what was most necessary to be done was drawn up by a volunteer above mentioned and shewn to Generall Guest and at his desire to an old Officer of the Dragoons being approved by him It was presented to the Ld. Provsot It was insisted that a High house which rakes a part of the wall near the Potteraw should be possessed by a party and a Communication made from the wall to the house to releive or bring off the men as occasion might require, but this tho' much Insisted on was not yielded till September 16 when Capt. Murray approved of it and then tho' it was begun there was not time to finish it.
Unhappily at this time the Elections of their Deacons so much imployed the Trades that few came to work on the Wall and it never appeared that after repeated Complaints proper authority was imployed to oblige them to work in this time of the greatest danger.
Some Cannon were got from Ships and it having been earnestly Reecomended to the Lord Provost that some hand Grenades should be got and the City Guard and volunteers taught to use them a message was sent to the Generall and by him to the Castle but it was answered that they had not above 200 and could not spare them, Afterwards however one of the Volunteers Surprised that there should be so few in such a Garison so well provided with Stores made a visit to the Castle and was told by the Storekeeper that he had five times that number and was desired to tell the Provost that he had 200 at his service if he had a mind for them The message was delivered but the Grenades never appeared We found 23 that had lain in a Chest since 1715 in the Touns Armory but they were never examined.
A Ditch that had been ordered at Wallaces Tower had been carried on right for some time but was afterwards by some mistake or bad advice cast on the wrong side of the Dike, This day this was stopt and a Remedy proposed but not execute for want of time.
The work went on slowly.
The day of the Election of the Deacons there was very little done on the Wall, the Deacons could not be got some houses in St. Marys wynd that had large windows into the Toun were shewn to some Magistrats and afterwards to the Provost but no orders were given about them This day the Carriages of the Cannon were Examined and any necessary Reparations ordered.
Little work on the Walls and Scaffoldings, The Cannon were all proved and the Shot got ready.
The Ld. Provost brought Capt. Murray to Toun to give his advice, and not till this day he ordered some works within the Gates which were begun immediatly, There was more men imployed this day than ever before and everybody seemed to Exert themselves, But the Ld. Provost having never named the Field Officers to the Volunteers they were now nine Independant Companys and upon a motion to go out with Collonell Gardiner they unhappily divided in oppinion which produced some heat amongst them A most unlucky signall was pitched on to Call them to their Arms, the Ringing of the Fire Bell which never fails to raise a Pannick in Edinburgh This happened in time of Divine Service, the Churches Dismissed in Confusion and Terror and this was the first appearance of Fear in the place and this signal ought not to have been proposed or allowed by the Magistrats in such a time the Rebells not being far from us.
This day most of the Cannon were carried to the Flanks and in this as much regard as possible was had to the weakest places so that there were three on St. Marys Wynd which raked it. About Six one of the Volunteers with the chief of the Bombardiers came to the Provost to have an Order to Load them, he kept them waiting till eight, and then desired another to sign the order for him, They begun, tho in the night, But after they came to the Bristol port they were obliged to wait from half and hour after ten till near one for want of a Centinell to place on the Loaded Gun tho they sent messages for Centinals to the Guard and Councill This put a stop to their progress that night, The Guns were all loaded with small shott and as they Flanked the Curtains and Gates it was the more dangerous to leave them without Centinells. During all that time while the rest of the Wall was guarded and All is well was heard go round regularly there were no Centinells on Bristol port to the west port but on or two below.
The works went on cheerfully till four or five at night - a work was thrown up to defend the Pass to Montresag. Some Gates were built up, some more Cannon were got and carried to the Bastions and Gates, we were told that only five Gunners were got at one a clock but were promised that pains should be taken to get more.
Betwixt two and three a clock some Burghers were said to be carrying about a Petition to the Magistrats for Subscriptions Praying the Toun should Capitulate. The Alarm being great at the West port the Guns there were Loaded and the other works pressed on so that they were almost finished when an Account came that a meeting in the New Church had agreed to Capitulate, One of the Volunteers called for the Provost to know what was to be done to the Cannon, but was told that his Lordship had not time to speak to him The Call of All is well did not go round the Wall this night as the former and the Toun seem'd to be quite of it Defence The Volunteers delivered their Arms into the Castle. Copied by Patrick McLaurin a transcript of Colin MacLaurin’s Diary’
After Edinburgh fell Colin wrote the Rev. John Hill, where he described the Rebels as ‘Cloved Hoof’
“I shall only say, that while a pack’d meeting, assembled bya Signal unknown to the Honest part of the Town, agreed to capitulate; the Volunteers the Best part of the Inhabitants were in Duty elsewhere. For my part, I was loading the Cannon, and knew nothing of waht pass’d till all was over. After this Revolution they neither stood to their Arms in order to obtain good terms; nor did they deliver the Town’s Arms into the Castle, but suffer’d them to fall into the hands of the Enemy”.
“We have neither Law not Gospel at Edinburgh. No Courts are kept; no Churches assemble; nor have we Colleges. Tho’ their Officers from a Political Goodness endeavour to prevent disorders, the ‘Cloven Hoof’ appeard early, and they pilfer and rob in and about the Town, whither the Whole Body has now got from the Camp.”
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