JAMES V.—THE GOODMAN OF BALLENGIECH
Like his father, James IV., James v. was fond of travel
ling about in disguise among his people. Dressed very
plainly, and calling himself the Goodman of Ballengiech,
he used to wander about quite alone, often having strange
One day while walking alone, he was attacked by four
or five men near Cramond Bridge. James at once drew
his sword, and defended himself, but although he was a
splendid swordsman, one against five was a very unequal
fight. Fortunately, however, a farm labourer was thresh
ing corn in a barn near. Hearing the noise, he ran out
with his flail in his hand. A flail is a tool with which
people used to thresh corn before ways of doing it by
steam were invented. Seeing one man fighting against
five, the labourer ran to his help, and so well did he lay
about him with his flail, that the five very soon ran away.
The labourer then took the King into the barn to rest.
James was hot and dusty, and he asked the man for a
basin of water and a towel, so that he might wash his
hands. This the man brought, and while the King
washed and rested, he talked to the man, asking him
questions about himself.
The man told James that his name was Jock
Howieson, and that he was a labourer on the farm of
Braehead which belonged to the King.
290 SCOTLAND’S STORY
‘ Well, Jock,’ said James, ‘ if you could have a wish,
what would you like best in all the world ? ’
‘ I would like to have the farm on which I work, for
my very own,’ said Jock. ‘ And who may you be ? ‘ he
‘ I am the Goodman of Ballengiech,’ said James. ‘ I
have a small post at the palace of Holyrood. If you
would like to see some of the fine rooms, come next
Sunday and I will show them to you. You have saved
my life this day, and I will willingly do what I can to
give you pleasure.’
Jock was delighted at the idea of seeing the palace,
and said good-bye to his new friend, assuring him that he
would come on Sunday.
When the day came, Jock dressed himself in his best,
and set out for the palace. Arriving at the gate, he asked
for the Goodman of Ballengiech, as he had been told to
do. The King had given orders that any one asking for
the Goodman should at once be brought to him. Jock,
who was feeling rather shy at the great house, and all the
finely dressed people he saw, was very glad when he
met his friend.
James led Jock through all the grandest rooms of the
palace. He was very much astonished at all he saw, and
he amused the King by some of his remarks.
‘Now,’ said James, after Jock had seen everything
there was to see, ‘ would you like to see the King ? ’
‘That would I,’ replied Jock, ‘if he would not be
‘ Oh, you need have no fear. I can assure you he will
not be angry,’ replied James.
‘But how shall I know which is the King ?’ asked
Jock. ‘ There will be so many grand nobles around
THE GOODMAN OF BALLENGIECH 291
‘ Easily enough,’ said James. ‘ All the others will take
off their hats, only the King will wear his.’
The King then led Jock into a great hall where many
of the knights and nobles of the court were gathered
together. He was rather frightened at so many grand
people, but still he looked eagerly round for the King.
‘ I cannot see the King,’ he whispered at last to James.
‘ I told you that you would know him by his wearing
his hat,’ replied James, smiling.
Again Jock looked all round. At last his eyes came
back to his friend. He was wearing his hat I So was
Jock, for with his country manners he had forgotten to
take it off. Jock stared at the Goodman for a minute,
then slowly he said, ‘ It must be either you or I that is
the King then, for we are the only two that are wearing
The King and the courtiers laughed at Jock‘s funny
way of putting it, and Jock was very much astonished to
find that the man he had been talking with in such an
easy, friendly manner, was the great King of whom he had
heard so much.
James gave Jock the farm of Braehead as a reward for
his bravery. In return, James asked that Jock, and his
sons after him, should always be ready to present the King
with a basin of water and a towel, whenever he passed by
Cramond Bridge, in memory of the day on which Jock
had fought so bravely. This Jock readily promised, and
went home feeling very happy.
Ever since then, Braehead has belonged to the Howie-
sons, and nearly three hundred years after, when George
IV. came to Edinburgh, Jock Howieson’s descendant
appeared before the King, carrying a silver basin and ewer
and a beautiful towel, that he might perform the cere
mony by right of which he held his lands.
But first, if you want to come back to Scotland's History and Legends again, just add www.historyandlegends.com to your bookmarks or favorites now! Then you'll find it easy!
Also, please consider sharing our Scottish History and Legends website with your online friends.
Copyright © 2000-present Donald Urquhart. All Rights Reserved. Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners. Use of this Web site constitutes acceptance of our legal disclaimer.