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256                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.



In the course of these observations, a
subject of great interest and import­
ance now presents itself, the satisfac­
tory elucidation of which would require
many pages of careful and laborious
investigation : I mean the history and
constitution of the Ancient Parliament
of Scotland.

Long before the existence of the
word parliament, or the mention of
the three estates of the kingdom, in
our authentic histories or records, the
sovereign of Scotland, like every other
contemporary feudal monarch, was
accustomed to consult, on occasions
of solemnity and importance, with his
high council; consisting of the bishops
and abbots, the great officers of the
crown, and the most powerful nobles
and barons of the realm; but nothing
resembling a regular parliament is to
be found during the reigns of Alexan­
der the First, or of his brother David.
The bold and imperious character of
Alexander seems, indeed, to have
stretched the royal prerogative to the
utmost extent; and, from the few and
imperfect records of his short reign
which yet remain to us, he appears to
have been his own chief-councillor;
but it is more remarkable that we
look in vain for a parliament, or for
any solemn assembly of the estates of
the realm, under the long reign of

1 Barrington on the Statutes, pp. 247, 351.

David the First, although he has been
pronounced by Buchanan, an impar­
tial witness when kings are the sub­
ject, the most perfect model of a wise
and virtuous prince. Yet David was
undoubtedly a legislator; and on one
memorable occasion, the death of the
heir-apparent, his only son, Prince
Henry, he adopted the most solemn
measures for the regulation of the

It will, perhaps, be recollected by
the reader, that, under the reign of
Robert Bruce, when the death of the
young Steward rendered necessary
some new enactments regarding the
succession to the throne, a parliament
assembled, in which the entail of the
crown was solemnly settled upon Ro­
bert the Second and his descendants.
Now, David the First, in 1152, had
exactly the same task to perform as
Bruce in 1318. But the mode in
which it was executed was entirely
different. He called no parliament.
We do not even discover that he took
the advice of his royal council, or of
his nobility. But he assembled an
army, of which he gave the command
to one of the most powerful of his
nobles, and, delivering to him his infant
grandson, commanded him to march
through his dominions, and to proclaim
him heir to the crown;2 a circumstance
from which there arises a strong pre­
sumption that, at this period, a parlia­
ment was unknown in Scotland.

Neither do we find this great coun­
cil under the reign of his successor,
Malcolm the Fourth. Lord Hailes,
indeed, in his Annals has stated that
Malcolm, with the advice of his parlia­
ment, gave his sisters, Ada and Mar­
garet, in marriage to the Counts of
Holland and Brittany ; but the words
of Fordun, if accurately understood,
do not appear to bear such meaning,
and the conjecture which the same
author has added, in a note, is the
true sense :—“ Malcolmus subsidio
suorum et consilio,” implies nothing
more than that Malcolm, with the
“ assistance and advice of his nobles,”
married his sisters: the assistance
here spoken of was probably an aid or
Simeon Dunelm. p. 280.

ANCIENT STATE OF SCOTLAND.                           257

grant of money, given to the king to
make up the marriage portions of the
young princesses; but there is not the
slightest proof that a parliament was as­
sembled, during the reign of Malcolm,
upon this or any other occasion.1

In 1174, William the Lion, the suc­
cessor of Malcolm the Fourth, having
been taken prisoner by the English,
after a short confinement at Rich­
mond, was sent, by Henry the Second,
to a more secure and distant dungeon
at Falaise, in Normandy. The event
called for an immediate interference
of those upon whom the principal
management of the government de­
volved ; and it is well known that, in
the name of the nation, a disgraceful
transaction took place, by which the
king, with consent of the Scottish
barons and clergy, purchased his
liberty at the price of the independ­
ence of the country. The principal
fortresses of the kingdom, and some
of the highest barons of the realm,
were placed in the hands of the Eng­
lish king, as hostages for the perform­
ance of this treaty; yet this whole
transaction, which gave liberty to a
king, and extorted from the nobles an
acknowledgment of feudal superiority
in the English crown, was carried
through without a parliament.

Upon the accession of Richard the
First, that crusading monarch, anxious
to collect money for his expeditions
to the Holy Land, proposed to restore
to the same prince who had resigned
it the independence of the nation,
upon payment of ten thousand marks,
somewhat more than a hundred thou­
sand pounds of our present money.
This sum, we learn from authentic
evidence in the Cartulary of Scone,2
was collected by means of an aid grant­
ed by the clergy and the nobles ; and it
is remarkable that there is not the slight­
est mention of a parliament in the course
of the whole transaction. Not long be­
fore his death, the same monarch con­
cluded a peace with King John of Eng­
land ; by one of the articles of which he

1 Fordun a Goodal, book viii. chap. iv.
Hailes’ Annals, vol. i. p. 124, 8vo edition.

2 Cartulary of Scone, f. 10. Hailes’ Annals,
vol. i. p. 156.

engaged to pay to this prince the large
sum of fifteen thousand marks. This
could not be done without assistance :
and, when the term of settlement
arrived, “a great council,” says For-
dun, “ was held at Stirling, in which,
having requested an aid from his
nobility, they promised to contribute
ten thousand marks, besides the bur­
gesses of the kingdom, who agreed to
give him six thousand.”3 That this
was a national council, and not merely
a consultation of the king with his
great officers, is, I think, evident from
an expression of Benedictus Abbas,
when describing the consideration
given by William to a proposal of
Henry the Second, for a marriage be­
tween the Scottish prince and Ermin-
garde de Beaumont, as contrasted with
the words used by Fordun. “Rex,
habito cum familiaribus consilio, tan­
dem adquievit,” are the words used
by the first-mentioned historian ;4 and
they are essentially different from the
expression of Fordun.5 Yet, upon
what grounds shall we presume to
call this great council a parliament,
when no evidence remains to us that
the spiritual estate were assembled
at all, or that a single burgess or mer­
chant sat in the assembly, although
the royal burghs, as towns belonging
to the king, were obliged to contribute
their share in the public burden ?

We shall, I think, be confirmed in
this opinion by an examination of
some of the great public transactions
of the succeeding reign of Alexauder
the Second. Upon the marriage of
this monarch with an English princess,
Joan, the sister of Henry the Third,
it naturally happened that many in­
tricate discussions and grave and
material stipulations took place; yet
these, as well as the settlement of
the jointure of the princess, were
discussed, and finally concluded,
without the intervention of a parlia­
ment. And the same observation may
be made on the second marriage of
this prince with Mary de Couci.6 On

3 Fordun a Goodal, lib. viii. chap, lxxiii
vol. i. p. 529.
Benedictus Abbas, p. 44S.
Fordun a Goodal, vol. i. p. 529.
Math. Paris, p. 411. Ed. a Wats

258                                    HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.

another occasion, when Alexander, in
1224, levied an aid of ten thousand
pounds, for providing portions to his
sisters, it was granted, or rather im­
posed upon the nation, by the simple
order of the king, without the slightest
appearance of a meeting of the three
estates, or even of the council of the
king;l and although we are informed
by Fordun, that the same monarch,
immediately after his coronation, held
his parliament at Edinburgh, in which
he confirmed to the chancellor, con­
stable, and chamberlain, the same
high offices which they had enjoyed
under his father,2 the expression is so
vague, and the notice so brief, that
no certain inference can be deduced
from it. On the contrary, although
he was one of the wisest and most
popular of our early kings; although
statutes of his enactment have come
down to us, and his reign is fertile in
domestic troubles and in foreign war,
a careful examination of our authentic
historical records has failed to discover
a single instance, if we except the
above, in which a parliament was as­
sembled ; and the government appears
to have been entirely directed and
controlled by the will of the king, and
the advice and assistance of the great
officers of the crown.

Upon the accession of Alexander
the Third there was no change in this
respect. The important public mea­
sure of the marriage of their youthful
king with a daughter of Henry the
Third; the appointment of counsel­
lors, who were intrusted with the
management of the kingdom during
the minority of the sovereign; and the
frequent changes in the regency which
occurred in the stormy commence­
ment of this reign, were wholly carried
through without a parliament.3 But
we shall not wonder at this, when one

1  Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 53.

2  Ibid. vol. ii. p. 34.

3  Ibid. vol. ii. pp. 84, 85, 90, 91. In the year
1259, we find in Math. Paris, p. 844, Ed. a
Wats., that W. de Horton, a commissioner
from Henry the Third to the King of Scotland,
on his arrival in that country, found the king
and queen, and the nobility of the realm, as­
sembled inparliament; but of this parliament
we have no evidence in Fordun, or Winton, or
any authentic record. It was in all probability
a mere assembly of the court.

of the most important transactions of
his reign, the settlement of the dis­
putes with Norway, and the acquisi­
tion of the Western Isles, involving
an intricate and laborious treaty with
that kingdom, a grant of money, and
a yearly payment of a hundred marks,
was concluded entirely by the king.
The words, “ habito super hoc maturo
avisamento,” which are used by For-
dun, cannot, by the utmost ingenuity,
be construed into anything more than
a consultation between the king and
his council.4 The mode of considering
the expediency of any public measure
during this reign, appears to have been
by the king holding a council, or col­
loquy, with the officers of the crown,
and, probably, the most powerful of
the nobility. In the year 1264, when
the treaty with Norway was in agita­
tion, Alexander held two colloquies of
this kind at Edinburgh; and the ac­
counts of the Chamberlain inform us
that, on this occasion, the carcasses of
twenty-seven cows, six calves, and
fourscore of sheep, were sent to the
capital for the consumption of the
king’s household.5

On the death of the Prince of Scot­
land, and of his sister, the Queen of
Norway, events which left this mo­
narch with an infant grandchild as the
only heir to the crown, it became ne­
cessary, for the peace and welfare of
the kingdom, that there should be a
settlement of the succession; and it is
fortunate that, in two authentic his­
torians, we have a clear, although
exceedingly brief, account of this trans­
action. Winton informs us that Alex­
ander the Third “ caused make a great
gathering of the states at Scone;” and
by an original and contemporary re­
cord in Rymer, it is shewn that in this
“ gathering,” which took place on the
5th February 1283-4, the Scottish
nobles bound themselves by a solemn
oath to acknowledge Margaret, princess
of Norway, as their lawful queen, fail-

4 Fordun a Goodal vol. ii. p. 102.

5 “In viginti septem carcosiis vaccarum et
Vi. vacc. et. iiijxx. multonibus empt. ad ser-
vicium Dni Regis ad duo Colloquia que tene-
bantur apud Edinburgh, anno mcclxiv.”—
Chamberlains’ Accounts, vol. i. p. 52. Compo-
tum Vicecom. de Edinburgh, Temp. Alex. III.

ANCIENT STATE OF SCOTLAND.                           259

ing any children of the monarch then
on the throne, or of the Prince of Scot­
land deceased.1 The expressions used
by Fordun in describing the same as-
sembly denominate it a council of the
prelates and nobles of the realm.2 Nei­
ther of these historians makes use of
the word parliament in recording this
event; nor is there the slightest evi­
dence of the appearance of the repre­
sentatives of the burghs upon this
occasion; and, as Alexander the Third
died soon after, we must conclude that,
during his whole reign, there is no
evidence that a parliament, in the
sense in which that word was used in
England under Edward the First, ever
sat in Scotland.

Upon the death of this monarch,
and the subsequent calamities in which
the kingdom was involved by the am­
bition and injustice of Edward the
First, we begin to discern something
like the appearance of the great na­
tional council; and it is a remarkable
fact that, from the greatest and bit­
terest enemy who ever coped with this
country, we should have derived our
first ideas regarding a regular parlia­
ment, composed of the prelates, barons,
and representatives of the royal burghs.
But this, as may be naturally conjec­
tured, was not a sudden, but a gradual
change, of which the history is both
interesting and important.

Immediately after the death of Alex­
ander the Third, we are informed by
Winton that there was a meeting of
the estates of Scotland, who held a
parliament, in which they appointed
six regents to govern the kingdom. It
is to be observed that this is the first
time that the word parliament is used
by this historian; but unfortunately
no authentic record of its proceedings
has been preserved; and Fordun is
even silent as to its existence.3 With
regard, however, to a meeting of the
estates of Scotland, which, not long

1 Winton, vol. i. p. 397, and Rymer, vol. ii.
pp. 1091, and 582. Winton is in an error in
making this gathering of the states in 1285,
as it appears in the Fœdera to have been
held 5th February 1283-4.

2  Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 127.

3  Winton, vol. ii. p. 10. Fordun a Hearne,
p. 951.

after this, took place at Brigham, we
are fortunately not so much in the
dark; as the record of it is preserved,
and proves beyond a doubt the exact
constitution of the great national coun­
cil or parliament in 1289. It consisted
of the five guardians or regents, ten
bishops, twelve earls, twenty-three ab­
bots, eleven priors, and forty-eight
barons, who address themselves to Ed­
ward under the title of the Community
of Scotland; and it is certain that, in
this parliament held at Brigham, there
is no appearance of the representatives
of the burghs; an evident proof that,
although called upon frequently to
contribute their portion in the aids or
grants of money which the exigencies
of the kingdom required, they as yet
had no place in the national council,
and were not considered, in a legis­
lative light, as part of the community
of the realm.

In the treaty regarding the marriage
of the Prince of Wales and the Maiden
of Norway, which was concluded at
Brigham, one of the articles expressly
stipulates “that no parliament was
ever to be held without the boundaries
of Scotland;” but the deed itself throws
no light upon the composition of this
national council. The death of the
Princess of Scotland, and the bold and
unprincipled conduct of the English
monarch, have been already detailed;
and as the various conferences pre­
paratory to the decision of the great
question of the succession took place
in an English parliament, although
attended by the whole body of the
Scottish nobility, it would be unsound
to draw any inferences from this part
of our history illustrative of the con­
stitution of the ancient Scottish par­
liament; nor can we lay much stress
on a passage in Fordun,4 when he in­
forms us that the parliament of Scot­
land afterwards declared to Baliol that
he had been compelled to swear ho­
mage to Edward, “ inconsultis tribus
statibus regni.” It is material, how­
ever, to observe, that when Edward,
in the interval between the delivery
of the Scottish fortresses and the
production of the claims of the com-
Fordun a Goodal. vol. ii. p. 152.

260                                    HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.

petitors, took his progress through
Scotland for the purpose of exacting
a general homage, he called upon the
burgesses of the realm to come for­
ward and take the oaths of allegiance;
and that the first record in which we
find the names of this important class
in the community is an English deed,
and the first monarch who considered
their consent as a matter of public
consequence, an English sovereign.1

Upon the accession of Baliol to the
throne, we have seen the harshness
and intolerance with which he was
soon treated by his new master; and
it is worthy of remark that in the
parliament which was held by this un­
fortunate monarch immediately after
these indignities had been offered him,
there is the first authentic intimation
that the majores populi, or chiefs of
the people, formed a constituent part
of this assembly.2 This, therefore, is
the first great national council in the
history of our country which is truly
entitled to be called a parliament: the
first meeting of the estates, in which
the clergy, the nobility, and the repre­
sentatives or heads of the people, sat
in deliberation upon the affairs of the
country. It may, perhaps, be in the
recollection of the reader that its pro­
ceedings were of a bold and determined
description. They banished all English­
men from Scotland; seized and confis­
cated the estates of the Anglo-Scottish
nobles; compelled Baliol to renounce
his homage and fealty; and resolved
upon an immediate war with England.3
In addition to this, the same parlia­
ment negotiated a marriage between a
daughter of France and the eldest son
of their sovereign; and the public in­
strument which contains the treaty
entered into between France and Scot­
land upon this occasion affords another
proof that the towns and burghs had
arisen at this period into a considera­
tion to which till now they had been
strangers. In contains a clause which
provides that it shall be corroborated

1  Fœdera, vol. ii. p. 573. Prynne, pp.
502, 512.

2  Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 153. Heming-
ford, vol. i. p. 75, gives a different descrip­
tion as to the constitution of this parliament,
but I prefer Fordun’s authority.

3  History, supra, pp. 41, 42.

by the seals and the signatures, not
only of the prelates and nobles, but of
the “ communitatis villarum regni Sco-
tiœ,”—meaning, evidently, the royal
burghs of the kingdom.4 The ex­
pression in another part of the treaty
is, “ universitatis et communitatis nota-
biles regni”
which is equally clear
and definite. I venture, therefore, to
affirm, that as far as an examination
of the most authentic records which
have yet been discovered entitles us
to judge on the subject, the first ap­
pearance of the royal burghs, as an
integral part of the Scottish parlia­
ment, is to be found under the third
parliament of Baliol; and that we pro­
bably owe their admission into the
great national council to our bitter
enemy, Edward the First. Could we
discover the original record of this
important parliament, the question
would at once be set at rest; but the
expression of Fordun, and the positive
proof of the appearance of the burghs
in the treaty with the King of France,
appear to be conclusive upon the point.
In the long train of national calami­
ties which followed this alliance with
Philip we do not once meet with any
event which throws light upon the
constitution of our ancient parliament,
till the period when Edward, after the
death of Wallace and the surrender of
the castle of Stirling, in the premature
belief that his Scottish wars were
ended, proceeded to organise a final
settlement of his conquest. Upon
this occasion, the persons whom he
consulted were, the Bishop of Glasgow,
Robert Bruce, afterwards king, and
John de Mowbray. By their advice,
he issued an ordinance, directing that
the “ Community of Scotland,” mean­
ing the states of the realm, should as­
semble at Perth on the 28th of May
1305, in order to elect ten commis­
sioners, who were to repair to the
English parliament, which was to be
held at London. This number of ten
persons, who were vested with full
powers from the Scottish parliament,
was to include two bishops, two ab­
bots, two earls, two barons, and two
members to represent the “ Com-

4 Rymer’s Fœdera, vol. ii. p. 696.

ANCIENT STATE OF SCOTLAND.                        261

mune,” or community of burghs; a
clear and satisfactory proof that their
right to be represented in the great
national council was now distinctly
recognised, and that they stood in this
respect upon the same ground as the
two other estates of the kingdom.1
It is unfortunate that no authentic
record has come down to us of the pro­
ceedings of the Scottish parliament in
which these ten commissioners were
elected; but it may be presumed that
the representatives of the burghs sat
in the national council at Perth, and
elected the two commissioners who
were to appear for them in the Eng­
lish parliament at London. From this
period till the year immediately sub-
sequent to the battle of Bannockburn
no parliament sat in Scotland. Per­
haps it is more correct to say no
record of any has been preserved, be­
cause an important council of the
clergy which was held at Dundee, and
in which a solemn instrument was
drawn up respecting the succession to
the crown, gives us some ground for
supposing that about the same time
a meeting of the three estates had
taken place. In the year 1315, Bruce,
whose only child was a daughter, yet
unmarried, judging it prudent to settle
the succession, assembled a parlia­
ment at Ayr, on the 26th April 1315;
and we know, from the authentic evi­
dence of the instrument drawn up at
this time, that the heads of the com­
munities or burghs sat in this parlia­
ment, and affixed their seals to the
deed, along with the prelates, earls,
and barons who were convoked upon
this solemn occasion.2 No other
meaning can be given to the passage
which affirms that the prelates, earls,
barons, and heads of the communities
or royal burghs, “ majores communi-
tatis,” had appended their seals to the

The same observations may be made
Palgrave’s Parliamentary Writs, Intro­
ductory Chronological Abstract, p. 66.

2 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 258. Robert-
son’s Index to the Charters, Appendix, pp.
7, 8. The original deed is now lost, although
it appears to have been in the hands of Sir
James Balfour, who made the copy which
now exists amongst the Harleian Manuscripts,
No. 4694.

regarding the parliament which met at
Scone in the year 1318, after the death
of King Edward Bruce in Ireland;
in which it was deemed necessary, by
King Robert, to introduce some new
regulations regarding the same sub­
ject,—the succession to the crown.3
Of this assembly of the estates, as of
the former, no original record remains ;
but the presence of the “ communi­
ties " or burghs is proved by the copy
of the original deed, which is pre­
served amongst the Harleian Manu­
scripts. In like manner, strong evi­
dence is afforded by the famous letter
of remonstrance, which was addressed
to the Pope in the year 1320, that the
burghs were now considered as an in­
tegral part of the parliament. This
epistle was drawn up in a parliament
held at Aberbrothoc ; and, after enu­
merating in its exordium the names of
the prelates, earls, and most noted of
the barons present, it adds, the “ libere
tenentes ac tota communitas regni
Scotiæ.” 4

Hitherto, as far as the history of the
ancient parliament of Scotland has
been examined, we have been com­
pelled to be contented with such pas­
sages as afford, not indeed conclusive
evidence, but certainly strong pre­
sumptions, that from the period of the
reign of Baliol the representatives of
the burghs appear to have been ad­
mitted into the great national council.
But we have now reached the parlia­
ment which was held by Bruce at
Cambuskenneth in 1326; and although
the original record of this assembly of
the estates has perished, with many
other precious instruments which
might have thrown a flood of light
upon the obscure paths through which
we have been travelling, an indenture
has been preserved, which proves be­
yond a doubt that, besides the earls,
barons, and freeholders, or libere ten­
the representatives of the burghs
sat in this parliament, and formed the
third estate of the national council.5

3 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 290. Robert-
son’s Index, Appendix, p. 9.

4  Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 275.

5  This indenture is printed in Kames’ Law
Tracts, Appendix, No. 4. Fordun a Goodal,
vol. ii. p. 287.

262                                      HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.

The expressions of the historian For-
dun upon this occasion are different
from what he generally uses. “ In this
year,” says he, “ at Cambuskenneth,
the clergy of Scotland, with the earls,
barons, and whole body of the nobles,
along with the people there assembled,
took the oaths of allegiance and hom­
age to David, the son and heir of their
king.” On such an occasion, Bruce,
whose health was fast declining, would
be naturally desirous that the oaths to
his son and successor should be ten­
dered in the midst of a numerous and
solemn concourse of his people. It
may be presumed, therefore, on strong
grounds, that the chief men of every
burgh in the kingdom would be ad­
mitted into the parliament at Cam-

This is the last parliament of Bruce
regarding which we have any certain
account. There can be little doubt,
however, that a parliament was as­
sembled at Edinburgh, in which the
peace of Northampton, which for ever
secured the independence of the king­
dom, was debated on, and finally ad­
justed ; as we know that a treaty was
concluded at Edinburgh on the 17th of
March 1327, which was afterwards rati­
fied by Edward the Third at North­
ampton, on the 4th of May 1328. It
is satisfactory to find that the expres­
sions of this treaty clearly demonstrate
that the burghs had been consulted
in its formation. It is said to be con­
cluded with consent of the prelates,
earls, barons, and other heads of the
communities of the kingdom of Scot­

In that disgraceful parliament held
by Edward Baliol at Edinburgh, in
1333, in which this prince gave up the
independence of the nation, and, by a
solemn instrument, actually dismem­
bered the kingdom, and annexed a
great portion of its territory to Eng­
land, the burghs did not appear,2 an
exemption of which Scotland ought to
be proud. It is evident, indeed, from
the account of it preserved in the
original record in the Fcedera, that the
assembly was not so much a parlia-

1  Robertson’s Index, p. 103.

2  Rymer’s Fœdera, vol. iv. p. 590.

ment as a meeting of Baliol’s adhe­
rents, held under the direction and con­
trol of Geoffrey Scrope, chief justice of

From this period, for more than
twenty years, the history of the
country presents us with a frightful
picture of foreign and domestic war;
of the minority and captivity of the
sovereign ; and the intrigues and trea­
sons of the nobles : with the enemy
constantly at their gates, and fighting
daily for their existence as a people.
During all this time, no parliament
appears to have assembled ; and the
different regents who successively held
the reins of government were sum­
marily chosen by the voices of the
few nobles who continued to struggle
for their liberty.3 There is not pre­
served to us a single document from
which we can conclude that the pre­
lates, the barons, and the community
of burghs, ever consulted together
throughout all this disastrous period;
but, to this era of obscurity and dark­
ness, there succeeds a gleam of light,
which suddenly breaks in upon us in
the negotiations for the ransom of the
captive king, and sets the question as
to the constitution of the Scottish par­
liament in 1357 nearly at rest. In a
parliament held this year at Edin­
burgh, we know, from the original
instrument preserved in the Fœdera,4
that the representatives or delegates of
the seventeen royal burghs formed the
third estate in this great council; and
when the prelates and the barons chose
their respective commissioners to carry
through the final arrangement regard­
ing the restoration of their king, and
the payment of his ransom, the royal
burghs nominated, for the same end,

3  In Fordun, book xiii. chap, xxii., xxv.,
xxvii., there are notices of the election of the
Earl of Mar as regent, in a parliament held
at Perth, 1332, and of the same high office
being conferred, successively, on Sir Andrew
Moray of Bothwell, in the same calamitous
year, and on Archibald Douglas, in 1333 ;
but the times were full of war and trou­
ble, and all record of these elections has per­

4  Fœdera, vol. vi. pp. 43, 44, 45. It is evi­
dent, I think, that the royal burghs also sat
in the parliament held at Perth on the 17th
January 1356-7.

ANCIENT STATE OF SCOTLAND.                           263

eleven delegates, to whom ample
powers were intrusted.1

It would have been impossible in­
deed for the nation to have paid the
large ransom which was then exacted
by England without the assistance of
the class of the community which,
next to the clergy, possessed the
greatest command of ready money.
It is important to observe that, in
the record of the proceedings of this
national council, which may be said
to be the first Scottish parliament in
which there is unquestionable evidence
of the presence of the burghs as the
third estate, the expressions employed
in the instrument in Rymer are ex­
actly the same as those which I have
considered as demonstrative of the
presence of the royal burghs in the
parliaments of Baliol and Bruce. “ De
consensu et voluntate omnium com-
itum, procerum, et Baronum et Com-
munitates regni Scotiæ.”2

The records of the parliaments which
were held by David after his return to
his dominions in 1363, at Scone, being
mutilated and imperfect, we are only
able to say that the three estates were
present;3 but in the original record
of the parliament held at Perth in
1364, it is not only certain that the
representatives of the royal burghs
formed the third estate, but the
names of the worthy merchants who
filled this important situation have
been preserved.4 Again, in a parlia­
ment held at Scone on the 20th July
1366, we find it stated in the initiatory
clause that it consisted of those who
were summoned to the parliament of

1 Supra, p. 202.

2 The consideration into which the burghs
or the merchants of Scotland had arisen
during those tedious negotiations for David’s
liberty, which called for an immediate supply
of money, is evident from a deed in Rymer,
vol. v. p. 723, in which the clergy, nobles,
and merchants of Scotland gave their oaths
for the fulfilment of certain conditions. It,
is dated 1351. And again, in the abortive
treaty for the king’s ransom, which was con­
cluded in 1354, and which will be found in
Rymer, vol. v. p. 793, certain merchants and
burgesses of Aberdeen, Perth, Dundee, and
Edinburgh, became bound for the whole body
of the merchants of Scotland.

3 Robertson's Parliamentary Records, pp.
96, 100.

4 Ibid. p. 101.

the king according to ancient use and
wont—namely, the bishops, abbots,
priors, earls, barons, and free tenants,
who hold of the king in capite, and
certain burgesses who were summoned
from each burgh to attend at this
time, whilst, in a subsequent meeting
of the great national council in the
autumn of the year 1367, we find the
earliest appearance of those com­
mittees of parliament which became
afterwards so common, and, in all
probability, gave rise to the later in­
stitution of the Lords of the Articles.
It is stated that, in consequence of its
being held at this season, “ causa au-
certain persons had been
elected to hold the parliament, while
permission was given to the rest of the
members to return to their own busi­
ness.5 On this occasion thirteen bur­
gesses were chosen by their brethren;
the burghs of Edinburgh, Aberdeen,
Perth, Dundee, Montrose, and Had-
dington, each being represented by
two burgesses, and the burgh of Lin-
lithgow by a single delegate. The
expense and inconvenience occasioned
by a summons to attend as memberà
of the great national council are
apparent in the record of a parliament
which assembled at Scone, on the 12th
of June 1368, and of a second meeting
of the three estates, which took place
at Perth on the 6th of March of the
same year. In the firs the practice
of obtaining a leave of absence, and
sending commissioners in their place,
appears to be fully recognised ; and
in the second we find the same mea­
sure again adopted, which is above
alluded to, of making a selection of a
committee of certain members, to
whom the judicial business of the
parliament, and the task of deliberat­
ing upon the affairs of the country,
were intrusted, leave being given to
the rest of the members to take their
departure, and attend to their own

It has been already remarked,6 that,
in the last parliament of David the
Second, which was held at Perth on

5 Robertson’s Parliamentary Records, pp.
105, 108.
Supra, p. 229.

the 18th of February 1369, this new
practice of choosing committees of
parliament was carried to a dangerous
excess. To one of these committees,
composed of six members selected
from the clergy, fourteen from the
barons, and six from the burgesses,
was committed the decision of all
judicial pleas and complaints, which
belonged to the parliament; and to
the other, which included in its num-
bers the clergy and the barons alone,
was intrusted the consideration of cer-
tain special and secret affairs touching
the sovereign and the kingdom, which
it was thought expedient should be
discussed by them alone previous to
their coming to the knowledge of the
great council of the nation.1

I have endeavoured to trace the
history of the ancient constitution of
our Scottish parliament from the ear­
liest appearance of a national council
to the era of the full admission of the
burghs as a third estate. Guided in
our investigation by the sure light of
authentic records and muniments, or
of almost contemporary historians, we
have seen the earliest appearance of
the commons or burghs under Baliol;
their increased consequence in the
conclusion of the reign of Bruce; and
their certain and established right of
representation during the reign of
David the Second; and, in concluding
this division of our subject, it may be
remarked that the employment of the
great national council in a judicial as
well as a legislative capacity cannot
be traced to an earlier period than
the reign of this monarch.

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