An essay upon the inscription of Macduff's crosse in Fyfe by I.C., 1678.

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An essay upon the inscription of Macduff's crosse in Fyfe by I.C., 1678.
Cunningham, James, d. 1697?
Edinburgh :: Printed by the heir of Andrew Anderson ...,

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Scotland -- Antiquities.
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"An essay upon the inscription of Macduff's crosse in Fyfe by I.C., 1678." In the digital collection Early English Books Online. University of Michigan Library Digital Collections. Accessed June 24, 2024.


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Antiquius quo quid est, hoc venerabilius▪

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The INSCRIPTION UPON MACDUFFS CROSS, Which stands above the NEWBƲRGH, near LƲNDORES, upon the Confines of STRATHERNE and FYFE.

Maldraradrum dragos Malairia largia largos Spalando spados sive nig fig knippite gnaros Lorea lauriscos lauringen louria luscos Et Coluburtos sic fit tibi bursea burtus Exitus et blaradrum sive lim sive lam sive labrum Propter maegidrim et hoc oblatum Accipe smeleridem super limpide lampida labrum.

THough I had this of an ingenious Gentleman, telling me he came by it from the Clerk of Crail, who informed, that several succeeding Clerks there, have, for a consi∣derable time, engrost this as a true Copy in their Books, to preserve it from utter perishing, for it is now quite worn off the stone, at least altogether illegible. But be it so recorded in Crail, Newburgh or elsewhere, yet with their good favour, scarcely can I judge this a true and exact Copy; whether the fault has lyen in the first Copiator from the stone, or from the Engraver, or partly both: For, none who knows the History of Mackbeth, Malcom Can∣more and Mackduff, will, I hope suppose, that such a King as Malcom Canmore, when he intended to witness a favour for Mackdaff's services, and such a subject as Mackduff, when he was willing to publish the royal Bounty of his Master, would upon the Cross of so famous a Sanct∣uery (as this was) have inscribed but non-sense. And though the true meaning and purport of the words be dark and abstruse to us, who now

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live at such a distance; yet I wonder why the learned Skeen should brand them as barbarous (I hope he only means unintelligible, and not nonsensical) For questionless they are (for what I have said) sig∣nificative, and I doubt not but to purpose; and most probably they were written, either to signifie the Priviledges given by King Macolm to Mackduff, with the benefits he enjoyed by virtue thereof, or the Im∣munities, Freedoms and Pardons indulged by, and conferred upon, that Girth, if not in a complicated sense, all of these together. So then, allowing them to signifie sense, which few men in a sober charity can well refuse; lets see (as far as we may) to what Language the words are best reducible, for to any single one they cannot: for, albeit the termination, flexion and construction I take to be most after the La∣tine, and that there be some Latine words intermixed, yet none will aver it all to be Latine; so to some other Language we must go, which is but one of two. Our old High-land or Irish tongue, or the Saxon: And as I hardly think it the High-land or Irish, as well, because I never, heard that brought under Roman Terminations, Constructions, or Declinations; So even those that would wrest it to that Language in some words, cannot follow it out in all, although they be seen in the Irish Tongue. And it is strange, none of our Highlanders, tho Scholars ever interprets it; therefore I much rather incline to deduce it (at least most of it) from the Saxon, which I hope will not seem strange to the Intelligent when he remembers what footing the Saxons had in this Isle, and how Malcome Canmore was not onely long an Exile at an English Saxon Court, but that he had interest in Northum∣berland, Cumberland, and Westmorland, which was but sometimes a Province of the West Saxons And as there came 10000 English Saxons then in with Sibardus the Kings Grand-father, so they must be but No∣vices in our Language, who do not find Vestiges of the Saxon in it almost every where. Taking then this Inscription to be Saxon (as to th main) aped in a Latine dress, as to the main, I say, for suppose some words might savour of a Danish, or old French Extract, it needs not import, since both are of a Teutonick Origine, aped, I say, in a Latine dress, whither from the fancie of the Authour, to make it to run the

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smoother with the nerlaced Latine in this his hexametrall compo∣sure, or from some inclination of King Malcome himself, of whom and of whose time, sayeth a grave Author, as now the English Court by reason of the abundance of Normands therein, became most to speak French, so the Scotish Court, because of the Queen and many English that came with her, began to speak English, I understand the English Saxon, the which language it would seem, King Malcome himself had before that learned, and now by reason of his Queen, did the more affect it; thus far he, where if I might be allowed a con∣jecture, perhaps this Sanctuary was granted at that pious Queens in∣treaty, and here inscribed with her native tongue for her greater ho∣nour, and the rather under a Latine Vizorn, to invite the Scots (of no language more studious then Latine) to some love and knowledge of the Saxon. And so let us now with allowance, to rectifie what Escapes may be in the Orthography, modestly examine the Words themselves; but lest I be thought to be too peremptory to impose my naked Conjectures, in a matter of such Antiquity, I shall bring my Voucers where I have them, with the probable Motives that prevail with me to such a sense, still leaving a just Liberty to all who can find out better.

First then (as the words ly in order) I take Maldraradrum to be a supposititious Genitive, in the plural number after the Greek way, from Maldra, Maldrus, the German Maldar, pro modio seu certa mensu∣ra frumentaria; and Spelman sayes, Maldri vocabulum est Alemanicum; and have we not to this day with us the Word Melder and a Melder of corn, and this Genitive Maldraradrum I construe with dragos, con∣joined with its Latine adjective Largos, and this Dragos I supose de∣izon'd a Roman from drach or drache of the Greek 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 manipulus 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 prehendo, manu arripio, Fut. 2. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, from which belike we have the words Draught (as applyed to Cups and Fish-netts) drag, draw, so that largos, dragos, maldraradrum, may signifie large quantities or measures of Corn, to be taken by some compulsive or distreinziable Force, as will I hope anon be sound agreeable with the rest of the Sentence.

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Malairia, I fancie here by wrong Orthography mis-written for mairia, Officium Majoris, Majoratus, Praefectura, sayes Spelman, (sufficiently known in the Burrowes Royal:) And does not our Skeen in his 15. Chap. of the Statutes of Alexander the Second, call the Earl of Fyfe, Marus Regis Comitatus de Fyfe, (whereof more anon) Miria, I take to be in the Ablative Case, for we must not here be tyed to the strict Rules of Metrical Quantities, or Grammatical Constructions.

Largia, mis-written I suppose for Lagslita, or Laghslita, by inadvertency or transposing of the Saxon Letters; yea, and the Saxons sometimes in their Capitals, plac'd Letters within Letters, and were somewhat odd in their Contractions and Abbreviations, especially in Monumental Inscriptions; Lagslita, Transgressio Legis, Legis violatae poena, proprie ruptio legis, seu mulcta pro transgressione legis, Lag & Lagh, Lex, & Slit, rupta, Vox Danica, & in Anglo-Da∣norum Legibus primum deprehensa, sayes Spelman; But what needs me cite Spelman, have we not the Phrase, ilk land has its Laugh, and is not the word Slit, as obvious as beneficial to every Taylor: Lag∣slita, I take to be in the Accusative Case, which must be supplied with the Preposition propter, and yet for all this the sentence is but mank without the help of a Verbe, which must be borrowed in knippite, written belike for knighthite, by placing the Roman p for the Saxon th, which yet may be excused; since Spelman finds that fault in the Transcriber of Canutus Laws, upon the word Thegen, or Pegen. Knighthite then, or Knippite, being a supposititious Verb, (for I know not the Saxon Constructions or Conjugations) after the Latine form, from the Saxon knight, or knyt, signifying famulus minister, may import as much as, Receive ye as my Ser∣vant or Deputie, and being joyned with Mairia, as my Lieutenant, (for so is yet a Maire within Burgh) so that famulus minister in this word here must be honourable, and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as it is in Theini, Theigni, Thani, who from Thien to serve, were but famuli mi∣nistri, and yet were those famuli Regni Barones, as Spelman notes. And thus the sentence may be expounded, Receive for your Service

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as my Lieutenant, and through and by virtue of your Office of Lieu∣tenantry, uplift and distreinzy large quantities and measures of Corn, for the Transgressions and Breach of the Laws, and why then should Skeen terme that Barbarous, who himself homologats the same sense in another Language, in that his above-cited Chapter of King Alexander the second, Intituled, De Forisfacturis levandis ab illis qui remanent ab xercitu, where in the marginal Gloss upon the 4. Para. speaking of the Earl of Fyfe, his words are, Et ille non sicut Comes, sed sicut Marus Regis Comitatus de Fyfe, ad rectitudines suas exi∣gendas: and does he not again, in his De Verborum significatione, in the word Clanmackduff, say out of Boettus, that amongst other Pri∣viledges, Mackduff and his Clan had the Priviledge and Right of a Regality; yea and does not the learned Spelman say, what was Gildwite to the English Saxons was Laghslite to the Danes, and and both forisfactura to the Normans, (amerciaments with us) where may be noticed the judicious exactness of the composer, in his pre∣fixing the general word Laghslita, to be amerciat by victual or corn; For Laghslitae, sayes one, anumerandae sunt mediis & levi∣oribus delict, quorum mulctae pietatis intuitu, & per misericordiam imponuntur. Nec graviora crimina, sayes another, inter Laghslitas simplices numerata aut levia, quaeque instar graviorum mulctata quis∣quam opinabitur. And so how methodically does here our old ver∣sificator proceed to faults and crimes of greater guilt, and more spe∣cial denomination yet for a while still under the Conduct of Knippite.

Sive gnaros spalando spados, I conjecture to signifie, whether such as are known cunning, or accustomed to want, or put away their Weapons of Warfare: the two first words being Latine, I hope will not be refused; the construction of spaland, I take to be a Gerund for an Infinitive, gnaros spalare a counterfeit Conjugation from an old French word, espaler to scatter, cast away, or spread abroad. Spados from espade or espadon, in the same language, a sword, and by a Metonymy, for any weapon. Neither needs it be strange that these Words are borrowed from the old French, which did depend upon the Teutonick and high German, as the modern does now more upon

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the Latin; and that wanting and away putting of weapons of warfare were with us reputed Crimes, and punished as such, see Skeen himself, in the 27 chap. of the first statutes of King Robert the Bruce, de arma∣turis pro guerra & poena corum quo eas non habent; Which is there said to be forfaulture, or escheate of all his goods, and in the last chap. of the same Statutes, entituled, Non licetrendere arma hostibus Regni: The punishment is loss of Life, and Limb, and all they can tyne to the Kng, which must be Goods. And it were but frivolous to alledge that these Statutes are log after the upsetting of Macduffs cross: For, how many things are punishable by the Common Law and pra∣ctick of the Kingdom, before they become Statutorie: And does not their coming under a Statute, imply a prior Custom? Yea, an who knows, but that after such a catastrophe as was at, and before, the Bruces coming to the Crown, they might be rather but revived, then original. And have not our subsequent Laws for Weapon-shawings been foun∣ded upon thir Customs, to prevent such inconveniences for the future?

Sive nig, And here we must return again to the Saxon, nig, For nighwite, the Syllable Wite, mulcta poena, being left out, which is sometime ordinarie (our Ancestors delighting much in Monosyl∣lables) and the rather allowable in this Metrical composure, nig or nigh contracted from nithing, Nidling or niderling; such as stay away from the host; For, sayes not Malmesberiensis, Jubet (scilicet ex) ut compatriotas advocent ad obsidionem venire, nisi siqui velin sub no∣mine Niderling, quod nequam sonat remanere, Angli qui nihil miserius putarent quam hjuse vocabuli dedecore aduri catervatim ad Regem, confluunt & invincibilem exercitum faciut And sayes not Matthew Paris, Ʋt ad obsidionem ventant jubet nisi velint sub nomine Nithing, recenseri▪ Angli qui nihil contumeliosius & vilius estimant, quam hujus∣modi ignominioso vocabulo &c. And does not Spelman deduce Nidling, à vocabulis Anglo Normanicis, Nid, id est, nidus & Ling pullus, ac si ignavi isti homines, qui in exercitum proficisci nolunt pullorum instar essent, qui de nido non audeant prodire domi latitantes & torpscentes. And have we not the above cited 15 chap. of our Alexander the se∣cond, entituled, De foris facturis levandis ab illis qui remanent ab ex∣ercitu

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Regis, Where the Earle of Fyfes priviledge is expresly reserved to him, qua marus Regis ad rectitudines suas exigendas; And wht be the pains and punishments of such as stay from, or desert the Kings Host, are they not sufficiently known, and freshly remembred by us to this day?

Fig for Figwie, Figwita, or Fyghtwita, the mulct of such as by fighting raises a fray, trouble, or disturbance in the Host, or perhaps more generally, mulcta Rixarum cum verberibus, vel ipsae pugnae and Ranulphus Cistrensis calls Fytwite, amerciamentum pro conflictu▪ And have we not a severe certification in a subsequent statute against such a raises a fray in the Host, 54 Act, 12. Par. Ja 2d. And is not the word Fight yt plain with us?

Lorea by wrong Orthographie▪ pro Lothea (I suppose) from the Saxon Hloth, Hlode, the Saxon aspiration being left out in the tran∣scribing as is ordinary, the Saxons having a peculiar way of fixing as∣pirations on their consonants, by ingrossing them with the same figure, as the Greeks in their 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and the R. here written for Th, the Saxon figure of both being apt to impose one for another, if not narrowly no∣ticed: Qui de Hloth suerat accusatus abneget per centum viginti Hidas, & sic emendet: hoc est, sayes Spelman, qui urmae illegitimae interfuisse arguitur, &c. And Hlothbota, mulcta ejus est qui turmae ilegitimae in∣tersuerit, Boe Saxonicum, compensatio emendatio; And have we not a phrase in some places, they clod together, from the Saxon Hlode, turma, and how far unlawful meetings and convocations of the Leige; have been, and yet still are troublesome to this Kingdom, these that run may read: And if this word be rightly deduced, it seems, our forefathers have very prudently here placed it among the thick of the Cryms, which makes me the rather admire, why so much noise hath in this our Age been made for suppressing them, as if unlawfull meetings had ne∣ver been thought a Cryme with us, till of late, I know some may incline to deduce this word from Lot, of the Saxon Hlot, sors, pars tributi sive solutionis alicujus quam inter alios quis tenetur praestare, sayes Splman; So that such would make the meaning here to be a gift or srender of all Unlaws or Escheats belonging to the King, and in that so often

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cited 15 chap. of the Statutes of Alexander the second, in the 5 parag. some ground may be there for such a conjecture from de Cavellis ve∣ro, &c. And some such priviledge is yet granted to the house of Argyle, in point of escheats (or unlaws for Crymes) which yet here I conceive sufficiently included in knigththite, mairi, and therefore likes best of the first exposition of the special Cryme of unlawfull Convocations, with liberty to the candid Reader to choose as he pleases.

Lauriscos, I suppose should be read Leudiscos, from leudis, leodis & leudum, quae verba dicuntur pro Wergildo, de capitis estimatione leudi soccisi scilicet de compositione quam aliter Weram & Wergildum, vocan. Leudis, vasallus, cliens, homo ligius, subditus: So leudiscos may signifie the amerciaments which were then due to the King by and at∣tour the Kinbote) for killing of a free Leidge. And that it was the custome among the Northern Nations, rather to amerciat then to take bloud for bloud, Hear Tacitus, Germani veteres & Aquilonares gentes, qui jugum pariter & leges omni Europae imposuere gravissima delicta ip∣saque homicidia pecuniis commutabant: And another saying, Poenarum enim ratio apud mediorum Saeculorum homines in mulctis, potius quam in sanguine sita fuit.

For lauringem, I willingly would read laricingin, Robbrie and theft, for thus with the n it is in the plural number from Laricinium, the French Larrecin, and both belike from the Latine Latrocinium, where sayes Spelman, Prisca Anglorum lex Larricinium divisit in majus & minus, the one with violence and force, the other without, the one in things of greater moment, the others of less: Hence the legal tearm Petit larcens, yet in use with the English.

Lauria, I would read lairia, for lairwite layrwit, or leirwite, Stu∣pri seu concubitus illegitimi mulcta in adulteros, fornicatores, virginum∣que corruptores animadversio (belike in thir lines a rape, as they are ex∣pounded relative to the Girth) from the Saxon lagan, concumbere legar, concubitor, & wie, quasi concubitoris mulcta. And sayes not clearly Spelman, Ad maneriorum dominos (nescio an ad omnes ex consuetudine) olim pertinuit jurisdictio de nativis suis (id est servis & ancillis) cor∣ruptis cognoscendi multamque delinquentibus, tam viris quam foeminis

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inferendi ad quosdam etiam non de his solum sed & de aliis quibuscunque intra dominium ipsorum sic peccantibus, and have we not yet the word Laire in Childbed Laire and others.

Luscos, I do not here take to be the Latine Luscus, but that the word should be rather written, liscos, for, or from Fliscos, the letter F, being lest out to make the line run the closser upon the letter L. Fliscos, Fugitivos, Fugitives, the words Flee, Flight, and Flisk, sufficiently known, as to flisk up and down here and there, as Fugitives use to do, who dare not well stay long in one place, all from, or in great affinitie with Leipa, Si quis à Domino suo sine licentia discedat, ut Leipa emendetur, which Spelman understands, de profugo.

Et Coloburtos, I read, Colovurtos, or yet rather Colovortos, or Colovertos: But like the Vowel u, is written in the third Syllable, to clinch the better by Bur, with the last word of the line: And every Bajane knows the affinitive betwixt the letters, B. and U. The significa∣tion however I take to be runawayes, such as run away from their co∣lours, and Culvertagium, I find a reproachful tearm of Cowardice, which Spelman thinks to come from Culvert a Dove, à columbina timi∣diatte, perhaps (as well, if not better) from vertere colobium: sure I am, we have the word Turn-coat, allusive to its sense; and may not our dis∣dainful word Collie derive its pedegree hence?

Sic fit tibi bursea burtus, and so through the amerciaments and unlaws of the above written Crymes, your purse shall be heavy, that is, your gains and advantage the greater, Bursea for Bursa, and is not the word Burthen, of known signification to the meanest? And thir a∣bove written words would I rather, at least more especially expound with a relation to the Regalitie, and its Priviledges, in favours of the Earle, yet not excluding some benefits of a Sanctuary to the transgres∣sours (upon a composition) as the Reader at his pleasure may best in∣cline to. But for my own part (with a just deference to better judge∣ments) as I should attribute the preceeding lines, rather to the Rega∣litie, so should I give the subsequent more to the Sanctuary.

Exitus et Blaradrum, would I read exitus et bladadrum, a gene∣tive, as Maldraradrum, from blade a weapon by which a mortal wound is or may be inflicted: Hence with us Blade, a sword, or sharp edged

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weapon, and with the Countreymen, to give a Blad, blaw, or after the English dialect, a blow, all (it would seem) from the Greek 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, laedo, And does not Spelman say, That the Saxons in their Language agreed with, and followed much more the Graecians, then the Romans.

Sive lim, whether on a limb, Sive lam, id est, Lath, Lith, ra Lit, the vowel i, commuted for a, and the letter m, fort, or th, It being usual for the Poets then, who were the Priests, to run much upon a let∣ter; and is it not given for a rule, literae ejusdem ordinis & organi inter se sunt permutabiles; And here Th, being consonans aspirata, is not so intirely and depress'dly a Mute, but that it may be changed for a liquid in a Saxon Poem. Limb, membrum cum sse Lith, articulus cum nervis. And is not Lath used for what is plyable by, with, or on some ligament.

Labrum, I take here to signifie life, by some Catechresis of the Author, allusive to the phrase, Our life is in our lip.

Propter magidrim▪ I would write, magidrin, Familias cognationis, seu cognatorum, from the Saxon maeg, Cognatus, sayes Spelman, the diph∣thong being abreviated to the vowel, (as is ordinary in the transcrib∣ing or compounds of that Language) mag, mage, or maghe, a kins∣man, or Cousin: whence we use the word maech, for affinis to this hour and Hired, hidre, or hider, which Verstegan interprets a Linage, a Family, hidrin, in the plural number: The Saxons making that by adding n, as we do now s, and leaving out the aspiration in the com∣position: Does not thus Magidrin better quadrat and agree with the pri∣viledge Skeen gives by that Girth, to the Clanmack-duffe, then to take propter for prope, as some would, and Magidrim for Mugdrim, because forsooth, the cross stands upon, or near a place of that name: But al∣lowing their conjecture, what sense or cohaesion can they make from this, their prope mugdrim? Yet a little to convince them, Dare they not rather think, their mugdrim bears that name from this magidrin, in the lines, and imports as much, as the land, or place lying beside, or about the cross, of the kindred. And seing there are yet the vestiges of some old buildings at mugdrim, Would it be any Heresie to think, that sometimes dwelt there an Overseer, to notice such as came to, and claimed the benefit of, the Sanctuarie? which Skeen sayes, was such to

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the Kindred of Mackduff, that when any Manslayer, being within the ninth degree of kin and bloud to Mackduffe, came to that cross, and gave nine Kye and a Colpindach, he was free of the slaughter committed by him. And thus hath our learned Skeen made us understand, hoc oblatum.

Accipe smeleridem, And for your Oblation, Receive an Oblivion, an Indemnitie, a Pardon; whence belike we yet have the word smeire, smeare, smore, as if a thing so covered over, by consequence may be presumed to be forgotten, or smeleris, smeleridis, (after the Greek way, as from Spelman, I have said, was but ordinarie with the Saxons) Quasi abstersio, detersio, purgatio, form 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, abstergo, detergo, purgo. I know some would have smeleridem, to signifie a kiss, from smeirikin, a word so used in some places: but sure, our Smeleridem here must import more otherwayes, Alas! this priviledge would prove to the man-slayer, but as in the proverb, A kiss and a drink of cold water: But because the conjecture came (as I heard) from a man of reverence and reading, let me ingross it thus, For this your offering or gift (to wit, of the kye) and by kissing of the Cross, receive ye an Oblivion.

Super limpide lampida labrum, sufficiently explained already, only I could have wisht they had come to my hand under a more Sax∣on Garb: limthite lamthita, the Saxon th, in the transcribing being often turned to b, d, or p, whether from the ignorance of the Saxon Character, or Euphoniae gratia, for good companies sake of the Words with which they are conjoyned: And that I had reason to reduce most of these Words to the Saxon, I now (from what I have said) referr to the Courteous Reader, and hope I shall not be judged unreasonable to think these Lines, as I got them, might be mis∣written in their Orthography, whether from the misunderstanding of the Saxon Character, if they were so ingraved, or (after so many Centuries) even of any other in which it might have been cut, since none who knows any thing, but knows it wants not its own difficulty to read but the Characters of an Age or two from our selves, be they written in Parchment, or ingraven in Brass or Stone: as for in∣stance, I shall not stick to say they be no small Clerks, whom I could hold upon a Wager, would they go to St. Andrews, they should hardly at the first View, read me distinctly, with one Breath, the In∣scription

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of Bishop Kennedies Tomb, in the Chappel of St. Salvators Colledge, though he died but in the Year, 1466. And seing I have heard several Copies and various Readings of these Lines (should I rather say of the Inscription upon this Cross) all differing amongst themselves, why may not I (seeing Skeen, of the two last which be∣ing most stuffe with Latine, might be thought most legible, sayes no more, then, that they appeared to be conform to that purpose) crave Leave to offer mine, which to the intelligent will not appear very dis∣sonant from the Coppy I have already here transcribed, and the less will the difference yet be, to any who knows the Saxon Character, yea, and what if in some Characters our Predecessours wrote not as the English? does not every Language have its Dialects differing some∣times in whole Syllabications, as in the Lettering, Writing, and Pronunciation, (not to speak of the Injuries of Weather in so long a Tract of time) so upon all Adventures, I willingly would rectifie and read my Copy thus,

Maldraradrum dragos Mairia laghslita largos Spalando spados sive nig fig knighthite gnaros Lothea leudiscos laricingen lairia liscos Et Colovurtos sic fit tibi bursia burtus Exitus et bladadrum sive lim sive lam sive labrum Propter magidrin et hoc oblatum Accipe smeleridem super limthide lamthida labrum.

And this my Reading with thir Orthographical Amendments, I submit to the discretion of the judicious, allowing any to use either the Roman p or the Saxon th, in what words I have here altered as they think fit, or shall agree best with their Ear and Fancy; And having already been so full upon every Word, I hope a closs interpreta∣tion needs not be here expected, because belike it may relish better, that (from what I have said) every man be his own Interpreter. Yet not too much to burden the Memory of the Reader, may I briefly para∣phrase it; for a verbatim Exposition here, as in all the old Tongues (and they say the Teutonick, whereof the Saxon is but a Branch, came with Twisco from Babel) would sound a little harsh, as well in respect of

Page 15

the idiotisms of the two languages, as that most of the Words are legal Terms, or relating thereto, and so will hardly allow a narrow and precise Exposition: and although the ground work be Saxon, yet appears it under a Latine Mask; therefore as I said, I crave pardon to Paraphrase it under one View thus,

Ye Earl of Fyfe, receive for your Services, as my Lieute∣tenant by Right of this Regality, large Measures of Victual or Corn, for the Transgressions of the Laws, as well from those as want or put away their Weapons of Warfare, as of such as stays away from or refuses to come to the Host, or those that raises Frayes or Disturbances therein, or from such as keep, haunt, and frequent unlawful Convocations; together with all Amercia∣ments due to me, for the slaughter of a free Leige, or for Rob∣bery and Theft, or for Adultery and Fornication within your Bounds, with the Unlaws of Fugitives, and the Penalties due by such Cowards as deserts the Host, or runs away from their Collours; thus shall your Gains be the greater. And yet further, to witness my kindness, I remit to those of your own Kindred, all issues of Wounds, be it of Limb, Lith, or Life, in swa far as for this Offering (to wit, of nine Kyne and a Queyoch) they shall be indemnified for Limb, Lith, or Life.

And thus have I adventured to read and explain this Old Inscrip∣tion, quae molta tenet anteiqua sepolta; and which, with Skeen's good Leave, I can no otherwise condemn for Barbarous, then that it is Saxon under a Latine Cover; where it would be remembred, that after the Goths and Vandals came into Italy, the Purity of the Ro∣man Tongue was at a loss, untill somewhat revived in the last Cen∣turie, and that the Poets about Malcome Canmore's time, were ordi∣narily the Priests, and those of no great Reading, and for the most part no great and exact Linguists, or so neat and closs in their Poesie; as witness that Composition of the Carmelite Frier's upon the bat∣tel of Bannockburn, some hundreds of years after the setting up of this Cross: And as this was one of, if not the oldest Regality in this

Page 16

Countrey, so by the Priviledges hereby granted, it will to any un∣derstanding man appear to be very great; whence belike we have that common Phrase, The Kingdom of Fife, (an Epithet given to no other Shire) as if Mackduff had enjoyed his Estate much after the way of Hugh Lupus (or more properly de Abrincis) in his Earldom of Chester, of whom it is said, he enjoyed that Earldom from his Uncle the Con∣queror, Adeo libere ad gladium, sicut ipse Rex tenebat totam Angliam ad Coronam; and yet I cannot affirm that Fife was ever a Palatinate; But sure the Priviledges of this Regality and Sanctuary were some∣what more then ordinary. And this our Mackduffs posterity continued in a line male till the dayes of King David the Bruce: for one of them I find Governour of Perth for the second Baliol, after the Battel of Duplin, for which, whether he was forfaulted, or that his Estate and Honours, through want of issue-male, went with a Daughter, I cannot positively averr: For, one William Earl of Fife I find a witness in a Charter, granted by King David 2d, to the Scrimzeour of Didupe, in the 29. year of his Reign, whom I conceive to be that William Ramsay said by Skeen to have been made Earl of Fife by King David, withall Priviledges, & cum Lege quae vocatur Clanmackduff, who might have married a Daughter of Earl Duncans, as well because he got all the old Priviledges confirmed to him▪ as that in the Scrimzeours Charter, he is placed before the Earle of March; It not being so probable that the King would have given the priviledges, and precedencie of the old Earles of Fyfe to a new Stranger, if he had not had an interest of bloud. And why should we too rashly conclude that noble Familie, whose predecessors had deserved so well of the Crown, extinct upon a fore∣faultour for holding the Town of Perth for the second Baliol: Since our Historian sayes no more, But that he was sent Prisoner to the Castle of Kildrummie, and that he makes him also a prisoner to the Baliol, with the Earles of Murray, Monteth, and others; who, as he sayes, after the battel of Duplin, were Rebus desperatis coacti jurare in verba Balioli.

Neither were the Bruce's too strick and severe in their forefaultours, (but upon great and singular provocations) studying rather to gain

Page 17

and reconcile the Subject by Indemnities, and Oblivions, then to exas∣perate them by too sharp punishments (especially when the Baliols had some pretence and shadow of Right) But what became of this William Ramsay, I cannot say; whether he was forefaulted, or whether through want of issue, the Earledom of Fyfe returned to the Crown, or whe∣ther he had a daughter who was married to Robert the Governour, who enjoyed the Estate and Honours of Fyfe: But if as full in its priviledges as the old Mackduffs, or William Ramsay, I dare not determine. But Skeen does positively tell us, that one Spence of Wormeston laid claim to, and enjoyed the priviledge of the Sanctuarie, upon his killing of one Kinninmonth, as being within the degrees of kindred to Mackduffe.

The Earle of Weems, and the Laird of Mackintosh speak themselves truely descended in a line Male from this our Mackduffe, by two of his sons; But since I have seen nothing in write, as I shall be tender of their honour, not doubting but that they are sufficiently able from good do∣cuments, to evince their assertions to any who may be concerned; So I hope, it shall give no offence, though I glance at what I have from Tradition. Mackintosh then (be he the elder or the younger bro∣ther) in his Mother Tongue calls himself to this very day, Maktosich Vichdhue, (that is, Filius Thani filii Duffi: the son of the Thane, who was the son of Duffe) whose Predecessor some three or four generati∣ons down from Mackduffe, was in the days of K. William the Lyon, by means of his Uncle Mackdonald of the Isles, matched to the Here∣trix of the Clanchattan, by whom he got the Lordship of Lochaber: the Jurisdiction or Stewartrie whereof, as the Laird of Mackintosh yet retains, so quarters he the coat of Mackduffe in the chief corner of his shield. The Earl of Weems (be he from the younger brother or elder) yet possesses for his Inheritance, a part of the old Mackduff's Estate in Fyfe: And whose Progenitor, Sir David Weems, Ambassador for the Maiden of Norway upon the death of K. Alexander the third, is by Bu∣chanan (nothing lavish of his Titles) styled, Equus Fifanus illustris. And doth not the Earle of Weems quarter also the Armes of the Earle of Fyfe, in his first and last Escutcheons.

But as upon conference, I have met with an objection or two, so in∣dulge

Page 18

me, Reader, I pray, for your fuller satisfaction, briefly here to repeat them with my answers: which (seing I leave every man to his own judgement) may I hope, be neither an impertinent, nor alto∣gether an unpleasant diversion.

First then, Was it alledged, That neither Mackintosh, nor Weems, give the Surname of Mackduffe: And what then? Will any pretender to the least knowledge of any Antiquity, or Reading, urge the arguement as conclusive, That therefore they are not of the same Stock, or Bloud; yea, even by a line Male But (not here to debate, whether at that time any other Surnames, then Patronymicks, were fixed to a Family or Progeny) Can there be a clearer deduction then Duffe, Mackduffe (who was the Thane) and Macktosich-Vichdhuie, or would the movers of this ob∣jection, put me upon the question, when surnames (as now in use) first setled amongst us? And what if that was not before, perhaps considerably after, the days of Macolm-Canmore (I wish those Dispu∣tants would be pleased to teach me, what were the surnames of the old Earles of Stra••••erne, Lennox, and Rosse) Yea, and does not the native exposition of Mackintsh, imply him begot en (and perchance he was of age too) ere Mackduffe was dignified with the tittle of Earle, and consequently, before the return of Malcolm Canmore, with whom (some say) first came in as well that order of Honour, as the customes of our surnames. And seing Weems was Mackintosh's Brother, might not he have been (and if elder surely, and even though the younger belike) in the same condition, begot before his father went to England, seing Bu∣chanan sayes of Mackbeth, that upon Mackduff's escape, in uxorem & li∣beros omnem iram effudit: The latitude whereof I leave to be measured by such, who can best fathom the passions of an exasperated Tyrant. But what if I should say, as Boetius observeth upon the Stuarts in a much later time, that it was customary with us (as yet somewhat it is with the second sons of Barons in France) for Cadets to quit the sur∣names, they might have from their Paternal Familie, and betake them∣selves and their posteritie to others, and most ordinarily to te names of their proper possessions (as Weems here, from that word signifying Caves, whereof there be no scarcity thereabout) and so much the more

Page 19

easily in this case, where the Paternal it self Mackduffe, is but a Patro∣nymick. Yet shall I not escape without a second Attacque, managed with I know not what confidence: To wit, That Mackduffes race, save in Mackintosh and Weems, continued not above a generation or two: Sure then, has our Buchanan exceedingly abus'd us; who all alongst, even down to the battel of Duplin, and the siege of Perth thereupon, writes them still Mackduff; his words in his ninth book, being, Mack∣duffus, Fifae Comes qui oppidum Balioli nomine tenuerat, and a little before that above-cited place, yet more particularly, Duncanus Mack∣duffus, Fifensis Comes (with others) apud Hostem captivus. And as all our Writers do unanimously rank this Duncan, the first Secular of the six Governours, after the death of K. Alexander the third, so have I my self read him, in a letter from the Parliament at Abirbrothock to the Pope, anno 1320. First of all named, and signing as Earle Primier of the Kingdom, where his seal yet appends fresh, four times bigger then any of the rest, with the Impresse as they Record the Armes in the books of Herauldrie for the old Earles of Fyfe, and as yet they are quar∣tered by Mackintosh and Weems. But thirdly, it is retorted upon me, that if the Earle of Weems, and Laird of Mackintosh, had been true Cadets in a line Male, then if the Mackduff of Fyfe had not been forefaulted, one or other of them would undoubtedly, as the nearest Heir Male, have faln to, and enjoy'd, if not the Estate, at least the Honours of Fyfe. But the starters of this doubt, would be pleased to remember the slip∣periness of its grounds; For are not Feudal Tailzies, and seclusive Pro∣visions to Heirs Male, of a far later date with us: And so might that Earledom as well in its Honours, as Fortune, have gone with a daugh∣ter (as heir of line) to William Ramsay, and by a grand, child to Robert Stuart: Yea, and who well knows in what terms our grants of honour, (if then in Malcom Canmor's dayes consigned to writ) were conceived, or if they reached Collaterals▪ And the Predecessors of the Earle of Weems and Laird of Mackintosh, having come off many generations be∣fore the Familie failed in the issue Male, the Honours might (the relation being remote) the more readily have been conveyed by a new Patent, with a Daughter or Oye in favours of some noble Minion, such

Page 20

as (belike was this William Ramsay, and) that Robert Stuart the Kings second son, who was sometimes Governour of Scotland, and Duke of Albanie, in the person of whose Son, Duke Murdoch, was that Earl∣dom forefaulted to the Crown, in the days of K. James the first, and not as yet given out again, none ever since injoying the Title and Dig∣nity of Earle of Fyfe.

But having thus far presumed upon, if not quite wearie your pa∣tience, in this so thornie and mistie affair; I must now, Courteous Reader, stand to the discretion of your Censure, where I shall allow you, That

Rebus in priscis, ad unguem haud est quaerenda veritas.

If on the other hand you will be pleased to grant me,

Fidum annalium genus, sunt pervetusta carmina.

And suffer me to conclude with what Skeen closeth the Preface to his De verborum significatione,

Si quid novisti rectius istis, Candidus imperti: si non, his utere mecum.

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