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TITLE
The Great Charter or 'Golden Charter', granted by James VI, 1592 (Back)
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_2010_022_02
PLACENAME
Inverness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona
DATE OF IMAGE
1 January 1592
PERIOD
1590s
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
1047
KEYWORDS
charters
legal
law
documents
land rights
property rights
seals
burghs
The Great Charter or 'Golden Charter', granted by James VI, 1592 (Back)

'The Great Charter', also known as 'The Golden Charter' was granted by James VI at Holyrood, January 1st, 1592. The charter is dated 1591, but the year in Scotland did not start on January 1st until 1600; officially a year began on March 25th (Lady Day) after Christmas, so January 1st 1591 is actually January 1st 1592.

The image shows the back of the document.

The image is of the original Latin document. A Scots version was also produced (See GB1796_2003_131_03_A-C) which may be contemporary with the original Latin charter, or may have been copied at a later date.

The charter confirms all previous royal grants made to the burgh by William I, Alexander II, David II, James I, James IV and Mary, Queen of Scots, and sets in perpetual feu to the Provost, Baillies and Community of the burgh all the territories and common lands (including fishings on the Ness) pertaining to the burgh. The common lands of the feu included Drakies, with its forest (in the Middle Ages a forest was not necessarily wooded, but was often rough grazing and moorland used by the burgesses for heather for thatching or peat for building and fuel), the Merkinch, Barnhills, Claypotts (perhaps an indication of a local pottery industry), Mylnefield, the Carse and the Carnelawis (with its boundary at the burn of Killodin or Culloden).

Other boundaries are given, including march or boundary stones existing between the lands of Culcabock and the common lands of the burgh, as well as a confirmation to the burgh of the Kingsmills with all rights and multures (a fee for grinding grain at a mill payable to the lord or owner).

The fishings of the burgh on the Ness were also confirmed to the burgh - fishing was an important part of the burgh's revenues and was jealously guarded from outsiders. Fishing was permitted from November 10th yearly. The diet of the time with its meatless days and fastings also meant the fish was an important part of the townsfolk's diet and underlines the importance of the town's cruives (fishing stances) to its inhabitants. The ferry of Kessock is confirmed to the town, with its potential for revenue, as well as rights to have a ferry on Loch Ness.

One of the more important aspects of 'The Golden Charter' is its grant of markets and fairs to the burgh. Two market days weekly were granted - Wednesday and Saturday (perhaps a relic of pre-reformation practice as Saturdays were dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary), where cloth and 'Staple Goods' such as wine, salt and wax could be sold by the freemen burgesses of Inverness to outsiders. Indications of a wider, more international trade come with the eight yearly fairs granted to Inverness - here merchants and traders from all over Scotland, and beyond (Inverness's 18th century records show wide trading links to the Netherlands, England, Germany, France, Spain and Portugal) would come to buy and sell, no doubt giving the burgesses a view of the wider world outside the Highlands, and providing luxury goods for them and for their customers outwith the burgh. This may be why Inverness's coat of arms contains a camel and elephant - perhaps representing trading links with the east.

Other trading privileges were granted to the burgh, including that of no ship, boat etc., being allowed to land wine, salt, timber and fish between the burgh and Tarbatness, confirming the burgh's monopoly of overseas trade. This was to the detriment of Tain, Thurso, Rosemarkie, Fortrose, Dornoch and Wick, whose inhabitants were supposed to trade abroad only through Inverness, and which would lead in the future to constant complaints from these burghs to the Convention of Royal Burghs.

In Charles Fraser-Mackintosh's 1875 publication, 'Invernessiana: Contributions Toward a History of the Town and Parish of Inverness, from 1160 to 1599' (pp 254-261), The Golden Charter is translated from the original Latin thus:

[For a glossary of some of the terms used in the Inverness burgh documents please follow the link towards the foot of this page]

TRANSCRIPTION

'James, by the Grace of God, King of Scots, to all good men of this whole land, both cleric and laic: Greeting: Be it known that we, after our lawful and perfect age, complete of twenty-five years, and our general and last revocation, considering the ancient erection of our burgh of Inverness, by our famous progenitors of happy memory, into a free burgh of the Kingdom, and seriously examining the long antiquity, the good and pleasant situation of our said burgh, and that by the industry thereof, and the inhabitants therein to beyond sea, commerce, negotiation, and navigation, and merchandizing of the free burgesses of our said burgh, the Revenues of our Crown are augmented, our Kingdom increased and brought to utility, and understanding our said burgh on every side to be environed with great, troublesome, and rebellious tribes or clans, tending to the detriment of our Kingdom, and discommoding of our Crown, and that it may be better preserved to us and our successors, for all time coming, that our said burgh, and all the donations of lands, patrimonies, revenues, liberties, privileges, profits, commodities, and casualties granted to our said burgh, and to the Provost, aldermen, bailies, councillors, burgesses, and community of the same, and to their successors, may be observed and defended, and may be adorned and augmented with more ample liberties, patrimonies, and revenues; therefore, these things moving us, and for several other reasonable causes and considerations, moving our mind by our own sure knowledge and proper motions, with advice and express consent and assent of our faithful and beloved Counsellor, John Lord Thirlstane, our Chancellor; Sir Robert Melville of Murdocarne, Knight, our Treasurer: John Cockburn of Ormiston, Knight, our Justice Clerk; David Seaton of Parbooth, Ruler of our Accounts, and Mr Robert Douglas, Provost of Lincludine, our Collector-General and Treasurer of our new augmentations; have ratified and approved, and for us and our successors perpetually confirmed, and by the tenor of our present charter, we ratify and approve, and for us and our successors perpetually confirm, all and sundry the charters, confirmations, infeftments, rights, titles, securities, letters, writings, evidents, donations, concessions, commodities, liberties, emoluments, and privileges, contained in the same, made, given, granted, and confirmed, by us and our famous Progenitors, being Kings and Queens of this our Kingdom for the time, to our foresaid burgh, and the Provost, Aldermen, Bailies, Councillors, Burgesses, and community of the same, and to their successors of whatsomever forms, tenors, or giftings, the saids charters, infeftments, confirmations, rights, titles, securities, letters, writs and evidents, donations, concessions, commodities, liberties, immunities, and privileges contained in the same, made, given, granted, and confirmed by us and our famous progenitors of happy memory, King William, King Alexander, King David, and King James the First, Kings of Scotland, for the time, to our said burgh, and to the Provost, Aldermen, Bailies, Councillors, Burgesses, and community of the same, and to their successors of the same, and moreover, the charter and confirmation lately made and granted by our famous great-grandfather of blessed memory, King James the Fourth of that name, likewise the charter made and granted in favour of Divine Service, and of the ministers of the Word of God, and the Hospital to mutilated poor ones and afflicted persons, and orphans and infants destitute of parents within our said burgh, by our late beloved mother of good memory, Mary Queen of Scots, with advice of the Lords of her Secret Council, to the Provost, Bailies, Councillors, and community of our said burgh, and to their successors for ever: Moreover, the lands, tenements, houses, edifices, churches, chapels, orchards, gardens, acres, crofts, mills, fishings, yearly revenues, fruits, places, mansions, profits, commodities, gifts, churchyards, duties, alms, burial-places, anniversaries, and all others mentioned in the said charter of the date the 21st day of the month of April, the year of our Lord 1567, and of the reign of our foresaid late beloved mother, the 25th year: And we will and grant, and for us and our successors perpetually do enact and ordain that the said generality shall nowise hurt, offend, or bring prejudice to the said speciality, and that the said speciality shall not derogate, hurt, or give prejudice to the said generality, and that this our present approbation, ratification, and confirmation of the premises shall be for time coming so good, valid, and sufficient in itself in all respects, and of so great value, strength, and sufficiency, to our said burgh of Inverness, the Provost, Aldermen, Bailies, Councillors, Burgesses, and community thereof, and to their successors, as if gifts, charters, infeftments, confirmations, rights, titles, securities, letters, writs, and evidents, had been particularly confirmed by us and her in our present charter and confirmation, word by word, at length inserted and incorporated, notwithstanding that by reason of plurality, multitude, length, and prolixity of the same, they need nowise be inserted or incorporated, according to this and other defects whatsomever, for us and our successors dispense by these presents: Moreover, we with advice, express consent and assent of our foresaid councillors, without hurt, derogation, or prejudice of our foresaid former charters, infeftments, confirmations, rights, titles, securities, letters, writs and evidents, donations, concessions, liberties, commodities, immunities, privileges, and others contained in the same above-mentioned, but in the greater corroboration of the same, of new we bestow, and in perpetual feu-duty set, and for us and our successors, perpetually confirm to the Provost, Bailies, Councillors, Burgesses, and community of our said burgh of Inverness, and to their successors for ever:

All and haill our said burgh of Inverness, the lands, territories, and commodities of the same, and all and sundry the lands, houses, tenements, edifices, churches, chapels, chaplainaries, orchards, temples, gardens, acres, tofts, crofts, mills, multures, fishings and fishing places of salmon and other fish, as well in salt as in fresh water, the yearly revenues, fruits, places, mansions, manors, woods, forests, profits, dues, commodities, churchyards, duties, alms, burial-places, anniversaries, commonties, immunities, liberties, and all others whatsoever, as well ecclesiastical as secular, as well contained and mentioned in the foresaid charters, infeftments, confirmations, rights, titles, securities, letters, writs, evidents, donations and concessions respectively, as those that are lying in the said burgh of Inverness, or in the territory, parish, commonty, and liberty of the same, with all and sundry of their own tenants, tenandries, and feu-holders, servants, fruits, commodities, duties, concessions, parts, pendicles, privileges, and pertinents whatsomever: As also, all the lands of Drakies and forest of the same, and the lands of Merkinch, with the common pasturage pertaining to the same of old, called the Burgh Haugh, lying betwixt the hill and the water, with the parks and woods betwixt the top of the said hill and the said Haugh, together with all the lands of the said burgh of Inverness, called the Barnhills, Claypots, mill and fields, and the common lands called the Carse; and the lands called the Carn-laws, bounded and divided as follows, viz., beginning at the burn called Altnahernrush, now called the burn of Culloden, entering into the sea at the north, which burn ascends to a burn called Altnacreich at the south-east, and from that as wind and weather shears to a knowe called Knocknacruich called Carnivantiarn at the south-west, and from that as the same passes to Glastanereich, which marches to the barony of Dalcross at the south, and the said lands of Drakies at the north, and from the said Glastanereich north-west to a well or fountain called Toburdonich, and even west the brae Bruichmor-caltine to a knowe called Knockgat at the south-west, and therefrom to a burn which divides Lord Lovat's lands, called the Easter Leys, and the common lands of our said burgh at the west, and as the said burn lineally winds from the south divides the lands of Culcabock at the west, and the lands of Knockintinnel at the east, and from thence certain march stones are put betwixt the foresaid lands of Culcabock and the common lands of our said burgh of Inverness, and as the same is lineally descended to a burn called Altmurnach at the north, and passing to the sea at the north-east, as also all and haill the common muir of our said burgh: ... [Continued on Part 2, GB1796_2010_022_01_B]

Accession Number: INVMG 2010.022

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The Great Charter or 'Golden Charter', granted by James VI, 1592 (Back)

INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona

1590s

charters; legal; law; documents; land rights; property rights; seals; burghs

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Inverness Burgh Documents (2)

'The Great Charter', also known as 'The Golden Charter' was granted by James VI at Holyrood, January 1st, 1592. The charter is dated 1591, but the year in Scotland did not start on January 1st until 1600; officially a year began on March 25th (Lady Day) after Christmas, so January 1st 1591 is actually January 1st 1592.<br /> <br /> The image shows the back of the document.<br /> <br /> The image is of the original Latin document. A Scots version was also produced (See GB1796_2003_131_03_A-C) which may be contemporary with the original Latin charter, or may have been copied at a later date.<br /> <br /> The charter confirms all previous royal grants made to the burgh by William I, Alexander II, David II, James I, James IV and Mary, Queen of Scots, and sets in perpetual feu to the Provost, Baillies and Community of the burgh all the territories and common lands (including fishings on the Ness) pertaining to the burgh. The common lands of the feu included Drakies, with its forest (in the Middle Ages a forest was not necessarily wooded, but was often rough grazing and moorland used by the burgesses for heather for thatching or peat for building and fuel), the Merkinch, Barnhills, Claypotts (perhaps an indication of a local pottery industry), Mylnefield, the Carse and the Carnelawis (with its boundary at the burn of Killodin or Culloden). <br /> <br /> Other boundaries are given, including march or boundary stones existing between the lands of Culcabock and the common lands of the burgh, as well as a confirmation to the burgh of the Kingsmills with all rights and multures (a fee for grinding grain at a mill payable to the lord or owner).<br /> <br /> The fishings of the burgh on the Ness were also confirmed to the burgh - fishing was an important part of the burgh's revenues and was jealously guarded from outsiders. Fishing was permitted from November 10th yearly. The diet of the time with its meatless days and fastings also meant the fish was an important part of the townsfolk's diet and underlines the importance of the town's cruives (fishing stances) to its inhabitants. The ferry of Kessock is confirmed to the town, with its potential for revenue, as well as rights to have a ferry on Loch Ness.<br /> <br /> One of the more important aspects of 'The Golden Charter' is its grant of markets and fairs to the burgh. Two market days weekly were granted - Wednesday and Saturday (perhaps a relic of pre-reformation practice as Saturdays were dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary), where cloth and 'Staple Goods' such as wine, salt and wax could be sold by the freemen burgesses of Inverness to outsiders. Indications of a wider, more international trade come with the eight yearly fairs granted to Inverness - here merchants and traders from all over Scotland, and beyond (Inverness's 18th century records show wide trading links to the Netherlands, England, Germany, France, Spain and Portugal) would come to buy and sell, no doubt giving the burgesses a view of the wider world outside the Highlands, and providing luxury goods for them and for their customers outwith the burgh. This may be why Inverness's coat of arms contains a camel and elephant - perhaps representing trading links with the east.<br /> <br /> Other trading privileges were granted to the burgh, including that of no ship, boat etc., being allowed to land wine, salt, timber and fish between the burgh and Tarbatness, confirming the burgh's monopoly of overseas trade. This was to the detriment of Tain, Thurso, Rosemarkie, Fortrose, Dornoch and Wick, whose inhabitants were supposed to trade abroad only through Inverness, and which would lead in the future to constant complaints from these burghs to the Convention of Royal Burghs.<br /> <br /> In Charles Fraser-Mackintosh's 1875 publication, 'Invernessiana: Contributions Toward a History of the Town and Parish of Inverness, from 1160 to 1599' (pp 254-261), The Golden Charter is translated from the original Latin thus:<br /> <br /> [For a glossary of some of the terms used in the Inverness burgh documents please follow the link towards the foot of this page]<br /> <br /> TRANSCRIPTION<br /> <br /> 'James, by the Grace of God, King of Scots, to all good men of this whole land, both cleric and laic: Greeting: Be it known that we, after our lawful and perfect age, complete of twenty-five years, and our general and last revocation, considering the ancient erection of our burgh of Inverness, by our famous progenitors of happy memory, into a free burgh of the Kingdom, and seriously examining the long antiquity, the good and pleasant situation of our said burgh, and that by the industry thereof, and the inhabitants therein to beyond sea, commerce, negotiation, and navigation, and merchandizing of the free burgesses of our said burgh, the Revenues of our Crown are augmented, our Kingdom increased and brought to utility, and understanding our said burgh on every side to be environed with great, troublesome, and rebellious tribes or clans, tending to the detriment of our Kingdom, and discommoding of our Crown, and that it may be better preserved to us and our successors, for all time coming, that our said burgh, and all the donations of lands, patrimonies, revenues, liberties, privileges, profits, commodities, and casualties granted to our said burgh, and to the Provost, aldermen, bailies, councillors, burgesses, and community of the same, and to their successors, may be observed and defended, and may be adorned and augmented with more ample liberties, patrimonies, and revenues; therefore, these things moving us, and for several other reasonable causes and considerations, moving our mind by our own sure knowledge and proper motions, with advice and express consent and assent of our faithful and beloved Counsellor, John Lord Thirlstane, our Chancellor; Sir Robert Melville of Murdocarne, Knight, our Treasurer: John Cockburn of Ormiston, Knight, our Justice Clerk; David Seaton of Parbooth, Ruler of our Accounts, and Mr Robert Douglas, Provost of Lincludine, our Collector-General and Treasurer of our new augmentations; have ratified and approved, and for us and our successors perpetually confirmed, and by the tenor of our present charter, we ratify and approve, and for us and our successors perpetually confirm, all and sundry the charters, confirmations, infeftments, rights, titles, securities, letters, writings, evidents, donations, concessions, commodities, liberties, emoluments, and privileges, contained in the same, made, given, granted, and confirmed, by us and our famous Progenitors, being Kings and Queens of this our Kingdom for the time, to our foresaid burgh, and the Provost, Aldermen, Bailies, Councillors, Burgesses, and community of the same, and to their successors of whatsomever forms, tenors, or giftings, the saids charters, infeftments, confirmations, rights, titles, securities, letters, writs and evidents, donations, concessions, commodities, liberties, immunities, and privileges contained in the same, made, given, granted, and confirmed by us and our famous progenitors of happy memory, King William, King Alexander, King David, and King James the First, Kings of Scotland, for the time, to our said burgh, and to the Provost, Aldermen, Bailies, Councillors, Burgesses, and community of the same, and to their successors of the same, and moreover, the charter and confirmation lately made and granted by our famous great-grandfather of blessed memory, King James the Fourth of that name, likewise the charter made and granted in favour of Divine Service, and of the ministers of the Word of God, and the Hospital to mutilated poor ones and afflicted persons, and orphans and infants destitute of parents within our said burgh, by our late beloved mother of good memory, Mary Queen of Scots, with advice of the Lords of her Secret Council, to the Provost, Bailies, Councillors, and community of our said burgh, and to their successors for ever: Moreover, the lands, tenements, houses, edifices, churches, chapels, orchards, gardens, acres, crofts, mills, fishings, yearly revenues, fruits, places, mansions, profits, commodities, gifts, churchyards, duties, alms, burial-places, anniversaries, and all others mentioned in the said charter of the date the 21st day of the month of April, the year of our Lord 1567, and of the reign of our foresaid late beloved mother, the 25th year: And we will and grant, and for us and our successors perpetually do enact and ordain that the said generality shall nowise hurt, offend, or bring prejudice to the said speciality, and that the said speciality shall not derogate, hurt, or give prejudice to the said generality, and that this our present approbation, ratification, and confirmation of the premises shall be for time coming so good, valid, and sufficient in itself in all respects, and of so great value, strength, and sufficiency, to our said burgh of Inverness, the Provost, Aldermen, Bailies, Councillors, Burgesses, and community thereof, and to their successors, as if gifts, charters, infeftments, confirmations, rights, titles, securities, letters, writs, and evidents, had been particularly confirmed by us and her in our present charter and confirmation, word by word, at length inserted and incorporated, notwithstanding that by reason of plurality, multitude, length, and prolixity of the same, they need nowise be inserted or incorporated, according to this and other defects whatsomever, for us and our successors dispense by these presents: Moreover, we with advice, express consent and assent of our foresaid councillors, without hurt, derogation, or prejudice of our foresaid former charters, infeftments, confirmations, rights, titles, securities, letters, writs and evidents, donations, concessions, liberties, commodities, immunities, privileges, and others contained in the same above-mentioned, but in the greater corroboration of the same, of new we bestow, and in perpetual feu-duty set, and for us and our successors, perpetually confirm to the Provost, Bailies, Councillors, Burgesses, and community of our said burgh of Inverness, and to their successors for ever:<br /> <br /> All and haill our said burgh of Inverness, the lands, territories, and commodities of the same, and all and sundry the lands, houses, tenements, edifices, churches, chapels, chaplainaries, orchards, temples, gardens, acres, tofts, crofts, mills, multures, fishings and fishing places of salmon and other fish, as well in salt as in fresh water, the yearly revenues, fruits, places, mansions, manors, woods, forests, profits, dues, commodities, churchyards, duties, alms, burial-places, anniversaries, commonties, immunities, liberties, and all others whatsoever, as well ecclesiastical as secular, as well contained and mentioned in the foresaid charters, infeftments, confirmations, rights, titles, securities, letters, writs, evidents, donations and concessions respectively, as those that are lying in the said burgh of Inverness, or in the territory, parish, commonty, and liberty of the same, with all and sundry of their own tenants, tenandries, and feu-holders, servants, fruits, commodities, duties, concessions, parts, pendicles, privileges, and pertinents whatsomever: As also, all the lands of Drakies and forest of the same, and the lands of Merkinch, with the common pasturage pertaining to the same of old, called the Burgh Haugh, lying betwixt the hill and the water, with the parks and woods betwixt the top of the said hill and the said Haugh, together with all the lands of the said burgh of Inverness, called the Barnhills, Claypots, mill and fields, and the common lands called the Carse; and the lands called the Carn-laws, bounded and divided as follows, viz., beginning at the burn called Altnahernrush, now called the burn of Culloden, entering into the sea at the north, which burn ascends to a burn called Altnacreich at the south-east, and from that as wind and weather shears to a knowe called Knocknacruich called Carnivantiarn at the south-west, and from that as the same passes to Glastanereich, which marches to the barony of Dalcross at the south, and the said lands of Drakies at the north, and from the said Glastanereich north-west to a well or fountain called Toburdonich, and even west the brae Bruichmor-caltine to a knowe called Knockgat at the south-west, and therefrom to a burn which divides Lord Lovat's lands, called the Easter Leys, and the common lands of our said burgh at the west, and as the said burn lineally winds from the south divides the lands of Culcabock at the west, and the lands of Knockintinnel at the east, and from thence certain march stones are put betwixt the foresaid lands of Culcabock and the common lands of our said burgh of Inverness, and as the same is lineally descended to a burn called Altmurnach at the north, and passing to the sea at the north-east, as also all and haill the common muir of our said burgh: ... [Continued on Part 2, GB1796_2010_022_01_B]<br /> <br /> Accession Number: INVMG 2010.022 <br /> <br /> <a href="http://www.ambaile.org.uk/?service=asset&action=show_zoom_window_popup&language=en&asset=708&location=grid&asset_list=19947,708&basket_item_id=undefined" target=”_blank”>Glossary</a>