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TITLE
Charter of Confirmation by Mary, Queen of Scots, 1546 (Back)
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_2002_164_02
PLACENAME
Inverness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona
DATE OF IMAGE
19 March 1546
PERIOD
1540s
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
941
KEYWORDS
charters
legal
law
documents
land rights
property rights
seals
burghs
Charter of Confirmation by Mary, Queen of Scots, 1546 (Back)

This statute, issued by the provost, magistrates, and town council of Inverness, received royal confirmation by Mary, Queen of Scots on 3 May 1546. At the time, Mary was only three years old and issued her charter of confirmation under her great seal, with advice, consent, and authority of her tutor, the Protector and Governor of the Kingdom, James, Earl of Arran.

The image shows the back of the document.

The original document is dated 19 March 1545 but the year would actually have been 1546. Until 1600, the year in Scotland began on 25 March and therefore years would carry over into what we today would consider to be the following year. Mary's Great Seal, appended to this document, is in the renaissance style, and was cast for her shortly after she became queen on the death of her father James V, on 14 December 1542.

The statute protects the heritable rights of the free burgesses of Inverness. According to 'Records of Inverness', 1911, vol I, edited by Wm. Mackay & H.C. Boyd, p lxiii,

'It was one of the rules of the Burgh Laws that no person might be a burgess who was not possessed of a rood of land within the burgh ... the magistrates and councillors were time after time called upon to give their great oath not to admit anyone to the freedom of the Burgh or the benefits of the guild without the necessary rood. Clannit men and strangers not being merchants were also excluded, and so were such as did not make their daily habitation within the Burgh.'

The rights of a freeman of Inverness could be passed on to his remaining family. Widows of burgesses had certain claims to their late husband's holding - a reason for the burgh community to be concerned about remarriage, particularly when it involved someone from outside the town who could potentially alienate the holdings and rights from existing heirs. Rights to inherit property were not just restricted to elder sons. If a burgess's only child was female she had the same rights and was able to pass on the rights of burgess-ship and guild membership to her husband. Outside the burgh, the community also possessed common lands of considerable extent and value - rights to which were jealously guarded by the burgh community. The practice of 'scot, lot, watch, wake and ward' was to pay a local tax and share the duties and obligations of a burgess, which included protecting the burgh from unfreemen and 'clannit' neighbours.

In Charles Fraser-Mackintosh's 1875 publication, 'Invernessiana: Contributions Toward a History of the Town and Parish of Inverness, from 1160 to 1599' (pp 220-221), the document 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]

'The nineteenth day of March, the year of God, one thousand five hundred and forty-five years, We, John Cuthbert, Provost of Inverness: Gilbert Hay, Alexr. Duff, John McGillewe, baillies of the same: Alexr. Baillie, William Cuthbert, James Cuthbert, Jasper Vaus, James Dempster, William Robertson, Thomas Vaus, younger, Thomas Vaus, elder, Martin Vaus, Alexr. Paterson, Richard Copland, Matthew Paterson, Thomas Fleming, Nichol Ker, James Merchant, and William Cumming, burgesses of the said burgh, and the remanent of the Council and community of the said burgh, gathered and congregated in the Tolbooth of the said burgh of Inverness, for sundry matters and business concerning our common weal, and in special touching the great hurt and skaith which have been this long time bygone used through indrawing of outlandish men of great clans not able nor qualified to use merchandice nor make daily residence, nor policy, nor any manner of bigging within the said Burgh, but allenarly to brook and possess the profit of the common tacks and steadings of the said burgh, and the profits thereof to be spent and used outwith the said burgh at their pleasure, contrary to the statutes and acts of burghs, nor any good cause done for the weal of the said burgh for the said tacks and steadings; which outlandish men and great clans have by divers and sundry sinister ways purchased their freedoms through solicitation and labours of great clanned men, and others adjacent to the said burgh, by reason that the widows within the said burgh have brooked and possessed the common tacks and steadings of the same, after the decease of their husbands wherethrough the saids tacks and steadings, are possessed and brooked by outlandish men of great clans by reason of their interest with the said widows, wherethrough the neighbours, children, and native-men of the said burgh who were, and are able to use merchandice, policy, and other virtues concerning the weal of the said burgh, are put from the tacks, and steadings, and native rowmes thereof, through the which they must of necessity and of main force pass to other parts to dwell, wherethrough all virtue and merchandice within the said burgh are abused, ceased, and decayed, nor the said burgh able to serve our Sovereign Lady, nor her lieges, at times necessary: Herefor, and for sundry other reasonable causes and considerations moving us, we, the saids Provost, Baillies, Council, with the advice of the foresaid community, Statute, Decern, and Ordain that no widow shall have, nor brook any tacks or steadings in time coming within the said burgh, burrowage and liberty thereof, of the old manner, by reason of the decease of their husbands, but the same to be brooked, enjoyed, occupied and possessed in all times coming by the heirs male lawfully gotten, or to be gotten, by the neighbours' own bodies, possessors of the saids tacks and steadings instantly, and no others' heirs male, and never in time coming to be brooked, used, nor possessed by any widow of the old manner, by reason of their husband's decease; Providing always that the heirs male of the saids neighbours gotten, or to be gotten, of their own bodies, be thought qualified by the Provost and Baillies and their Council for the time, to scott, lott, walk, and ward with the rest of the neighbours of the said burgh, paying their duties for the saids tacks and steadings, conform to the old rental; and shall make continual and daily residence for the most part of the year within the same, except they be in their lawful merchandice, errands, and business concerning the winning of their living, or of the said burgh, or else to have no place to enter, brook nor possess any of the saids burgh tacks, nor steadings, notwithstanding this constitution, decreet, and act foresaid: And, failing of the heirs male, gotten, or to be gotten, of the saids neighbours' own bodies, as said is, the Provost, Baillies, and Council, with them for the time, shall dispone the same to other neighbours worthy and qualified therefor, as they think cause, for the weal of the said burgh: And if any of the saids neighbours' heirs male, gotten or to be gotten, as said is, happens to be young at the time of the decease of their fathers, or others to whom they ought to succeed, then, and in that case, the nearest of the father's kin being (a) free man and indweller within the said burgh, be thought worthy, qualified, and responsible by the saids neighbours, shall intromit with his tacks and steadings, being within age unto the time when the pupil and child be of perfect and lawful age, and shall make count of the profit thereof once in the year to the saids Provost, Baillies, and Council for the time, that it may be known by them that the said profit be put to the utility of the said pupil and child, and decoration and policy of the said burgh: In witness of the which thing to this our statute, decreet, act, and ordinance above written, made by us, registered in our common book, and extracted at our command, by our common scribe and clerk, and subscribed by us and him, our common seal is hung, at our foresaid Tolbooth, day, month and year above-written.'

Accession Number: INVMG 2002.164

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Charter of Confirmation by Mary, Queen of Scots, 1546 (Back)

INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona

1540s

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

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Inverness Burgh Documents (2)

This statute, issued by the provost, magistrates, and town council of Inverness, received royal confirmation by Mary, Queen of Scots on 3 May 1546. At the time, Mary was only three years old and issued her charter of confirmation under her great seal, with advice, consent, and authority of her tutor, the Protector and Governor of the Kingdom, James, Earl of Arran.<br /> <br /> The image shows the back of the document.<br /> <br /> The original document is dated 19 March 1545 but the year would actually have been 1546. Until 1600, the year in Scotland began on 25 March and therefore years would carry over into what we today would consider to be the following year. Mary's Great Seal, appended to this document, is in the renaissance style, and was cast for her shortly after she became queen on the death of her father James V, on 14 December 1542.<br /> <br /> The statute protects the heritable rights of the free burgesses of Inverness. According to 'Records of Inverness', 1911, vol I, edited by Wm. Mackay & H.C. Boyd, p lxiii,<br /> <br /> 'It was one of the rules of the Burgh Laws that no person might be a burgess who was not possessed of a rood of land within the burgh ... the magistrates and councillors were time after time called upon to give their great oath not to admit anyone to the freedom of the Burgh or the benefits of the guild without the necessary rood. Clannit men and strangers not being merchants were also excluded, and so were such as did not make their daily habitation within the Burgh.'<br /> <br /> The rights of a freeman of Inverness could be passed on to his remaining family. Widows of burgesses had certain claims to their late husband's holding - a reason for the burgh community to be concerned about remarriage, particularly when it involved someone from outside the town who could potentially alienate the holdings and rights from existing heirs. Rights to inherit property were not just restricted to elder sons. If a burgess's only child was female she had the same rights and was able to pass on the rights of burgess-ship and guild membership to her husband. Outside the burgh, the community also possessed common lands of considerable extent and value - rights to which were jealously guarded by the burgh community. The practice of 'scot, lot, watch, wake and ward' was to pay a local tax and share the duties and obligations of a burgess, which included protecting the burgh from unfreemen and 'clannit' neighbours.<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 220-221), the document 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 /> 'The nineteenth day of March, the year of God, one thousand five hundred and forty-five years, We, John Cuthbert, Provost of Inverness: Gilbert Hay, Alexr. Duff, John McGillewe, baillies of the same: Alexr. Baillie, William Cuthbert, James Cuthbert, Jasper Vaus, James Dempster, William Robertson, Thomas Vaus, younger, Thomas Vaus, elder, Martin Vaus, Alexr. Paterson, Richard Copland, Matthew Paterson, Thomas Fleming, Nichol Ker, James Merchant, and William Cumming, burgesses of the said burgh, and the remanent of the Council and community of the said burgh, gathered and congregated in the Tolbooth of the said burgh of Inverness, for sundry matters and business concerning our common weal, and in special touching the great hurt and skaith which have been this long time bygone used through indrawing of outlandish men of great clans not able nor qualified to use merchandice nor make daily residence, nor policy, nor any manner of bigging within the said Burgh, but allenarly to brook and possess the profit of the common tacks and steadings of the said burgh, and the profits thereof to be spent and used outwith the said burgh at their pleasure, contrary to the statutes and acts of burghs, nor any good cause done for the weal of the said burgh for the said tacks and steadings; which outlandish men and great clans have by divers and sundry sinister ways purchased their freedoms through solicitation and labours of great clanned men, and others adjacent to the said burgh, by reason that the widows within the said burgh have brooked and possessed the common tacks and steadings of the same, after the decease of their husbands wherethrough the saids tacks and steadings, are possessed and brooked by outlandish men of great clans by reason of their interest with the said widows, wherethrough the neighbours, children, and native-men of the said burgh who were, and are able to use merchandice, policy, and other virtues concerning the weal of the said burgh, are put from the tacks, and steadings, and native rowmes thereof, through the which they must of necessity and of main force pass to other parts to dwell, wherethrough all virtue and merchandice within the said burgh are abused, ceased, and decayed, nor the said burgh able to serve our Sovereign Lady, nor her lieges, at times necessary: Herefor, and for sundry other reasonable causes and considerations moving us, we, the saids Provost, Baillies, Council, with the advice of the foresaid community, Statute, Decern, and Ordain that no widow shall have, nor brook any tacks or steadings in time coming within the said burgh, burrowage and liberty thereof, of the old manner, by reason of the decease of their husbands, but the same to be brooked, enjoyed, occupied and possessed in all times coming by the heirs male lawfully gotten, or to be gotten, by the neighbours' own bodies, possessors of the saids tacks and steadings instantly, and no others' heirs male, and never in time coming to be brooked, used, nor possessed by any widow of the old manner, by reason of their husband's decease; Providing always that the heirs male of the saids neighbours gotten, or to be gotten, of their own bodies, be thought qualified by the Provost and Baillies and their Council for the time, to scott, lott, walk, and ward with the rest of the neighbours of the said burgh, paying their duties for the saids tacks and steadings, conform to the old rental; and shall make continual and daily residence for the most part of the year within the same, except they be in their lawful merchandice, errands, and business concerning the winning of their living, or of the said burgh, or else to have no place to enter, brook nor possess any of the saids burgh tacks, nor steadings, notwithstanding this constitution, decreet, and act foresaid: And, failing of the heirs male, gotten, or to be gotten, of the saids neighbours' own bodies, as said is, the Provost, Baillies, and Council, with them for the time, shall dispone the same to other neighbours worthy and qualified therefor, as they think cause, for the weal of the said burgh: And if any of the saids neighbours' heirs male, gotten or to be gotten, as said is, happens to be young at the time of the decease of their fathers, or others to whom they ought to succeed, then, and in that case, the nearest of the father's kin being (a) free man and indweller within the said burgh, be thought worthy, qualified, and responsible by the saids neighbours, shall intromit with his tacks and steadings, being within age unto the time when the pupil and child be of perfect and lawful age, and shall make count of the profit thereof once in the year to the saids Provost, Baillies, and Council for the time, that it may be known by them that the said profit be put to the utility of the said pupil and child, and decoration and policy of the said burgh: In witness of the which thing to this our statute, decreet, act, and ordinance above written, made by us, registered in our common book, and extracted at our command, by our common scribe and clerk, and subscribed by us and him, our common seal is hung, at our foresaid Tolbooth, day, month and year above-written.'<br /> <br /> Accession Number: INVMG 2002.164 <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>