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Linlithgow

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

This edition is copyright © The Editors of the Gazetteer for Scotland, 2002-2014.

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Linlithgow (popularly Lithgow, formerly Linlithcu, Linlythku, Linliskeu, Linliscoth, Linlychku, and Lithcow; etymology uncertain), a royal and parliamentary burgh and the county town of Linlithgowshire, in the NW of the parish just described- It has a station on the Edinburgh and Glasgow branch of the North British railway system, and is by rail 17 ½ miles, and by road 16 miles, W of Edinburgh. In a straight line it is 3 miles S of Borrowstounness, 7 N by E of Bathgate, and 8 E of Falkirk.

History and Situation.—What the exact antiquity of the town may be is doubtful, though it must be considerable. The name is probably British, and tradition has it that there was an ancient British village on the site now occupied by the town, while Sibbald has preserved the story that the burgh was founded by King Achaius of doubtful memory, and that there was once a stone cross bearing the name of King Cay's stone, which was a corruption of King Achaius' stone. From similarity of -name, but seemingly without any other evidence, Camden and his followers identified the place with the Lindum of Ptolemy, but this is unquestionably wrong, though it is highly probable that there was a station here, and when the wall of Antoninus was the northern limit of the Roman power, the site afterwards occupied by the peel seems to have been the site of a Roman fort or station. Before the accession of David I. a chapel appears to have been erected on the promontory now occupied by the church and the palace, and this king granted to the priory of St Andrews the church with its chapels and lands as well within the burgh as without, and there was also a royal castle as well as a grange or manor near, for to the abbot and canons of Holyrood was granted the skins of all the sheep or cattle used at the castle or on the lands of the demesne of Linlithgow. The castle seems to have been erected to overlook and protect the royal manor, but whether it stood on the site afterwards occupied by the peel cannot now be ascertained. The mention of the burgh shows at all events that there was even then a considerable town which was a king's town in demesne, and had therefore all the privileges which were afterwards formally given by charter to royal burghs. After the death of Alexander III., and before a charter had been obtained, the town was governed by two bailies, John Raebuck and John de Mar, who, along with ten of the principal inhabitants, were compelled -in 1296 to swear fealty to Edward I. The rents or ` firms ' of the town had been let by the king to the community, and afterwards mortgaged by Alexander to the King of Norway as security and in payment of interest of part of the dowry of his daughter Margaret, married to Eric of Norway, only half of which had been paid. In the unsettled times that followed the death of the Maid of Norway, the interest does not seem to have been paid very regularly, for at two different dates writs of Edward I were addressed `prepositis de Linlithgow,' requiring the payment of £59, 2s. 1d. and of £7, 4s. 10d. respectively, as arrears due to the Norwegian King. In 1298 Edward I. marched through the town on his way to fight the battle of Falkirk, and in 1301 he took up his winter quarters here, and in that and the following year erected a new castle `mekill and stark,' part of which still remains at the NE corner of the present palace. This remained till 1313 in the hands of the English `stuffyt wele,' as Barbour has it -

'With Inglis,en, and wes reset
To thaim that, with armuris or met,
Fra Edynburgh waid to Strewelyn ga,
And fra Strewelynb agane alsua;
That till the countré did gret ill.'

In the summer of that year, however, a farmer in the neighbourhood named William Binnock or Bunnock, `a stout carle and a sture, and off him selff dour and hardy,' seeing how

'Hard the countré stad
Throw the gret force that it was then
Gouernyt, and led with Inglis men;'

determined to strike a blow for the freedom of his country. His opportunities were good, as he had been selected to supply the garrison with hay, and was frequently at the castle with his waggon. Having talked the matter over with as many of his friends as were willing to join in the enterprise, they determined that the attempt was to be made the next time hay was taken within the walls. A considerable number of men were placed in ambush near the gate the night before, and were to rush to his assistance as soon as they heard the shout of ` Call all, Call all.' On the top of the waggon itself, just covered with hay and nothing more, were concealed eight strong well armed men. He himself drove the waggon, and one of the stoutest of those who aided him accompanied him with a sharp axe. On his approach to the castle early in the morning, the warder at the gate knowing that the forage was expected, and seeing only the two men, apprehended no danger, and at once opened the gate. Just when the waggon was half through, the man with the hatchet cut the `soyme' or yoke, and the cart and load being thus left standing, the gates could not beshut, nor could the portcullis be lowered. At the same moment Binnock struck down the porter and shouted, ` Call all, Call all,' whereupon the men who had been concealed among the hay jumped down and attacked the guard, while his friends who had been posted in ambush rushed forward to his assistance, and in a very short time made themselves masters of the castle. King Robert rewarded Binnock `worthely' with a grant of land, and according to Barbour caused the castle itself to be destroyed, but probably the order extended only to the portions added by Edward, and consisting in all likelihood of a high outer wall with round towers at the corners. If it was entirely demolished, another must have been built very soon after, for in 1334 Edward Baliol transferred to Edward III. the constabulary, the town, and the castle of Linlithgow as part of the price paid for the assistance given him during his short lived usurpation. In 1366, possibly earlier, the burgh had a representative in the Scottish Parliament, while in 1368 it was determined that the Court of the Four Burghs - still existing as the Convention of Royal Burghs, though now sadly shorn of its former powers - which had formerly consisted of Edinburgh, Stirling, Berwick, and Roxburgh, should, so long as the two latter places remained in the hands of the English, consist of Edinburgh, Stirling, Linlithgow, and Lanark, which shows that the place had attained considerable size and importance. At this time too the town possessed the sole right of trade along the coast between the Cramond and the Avon, and the profit arising thence must have been considerable, for in 1369 the customs yielded to the royal chamberlain no less than £1403 which was more than any of the other burghs except Edinburgh, Aberdeen being next with £1100. The first of the Scottish Kings who made Linlithgow a favourite residence was Robert II., who frequently lived at the castle, and whom we find in 1386 granting to his son-in-law, Sir William Douglas, £300 sterling out of the great customs of Linlithgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, and Aberdeen, and also giving to other persons various pensions out of the burgh mails or great customs of Linlithgow. In 1388 he held a parliament here, and in 1389 he granted to the burgh the earliest charter now remaining in its archives, and by which the mails hitherto drawn by the royal chamberlain were granted to the community at an annual rent of £5. From the reign of Robert II. down to that of James VI. the castle and palace were very frequently visited by the court, and formed one of the ordinary royal residences, and so became the scene of many important national events. Under the Regent Albany and James I. the town was twice burned, first in 1411 and again in 1424, in the latter of which years the castle also was injured, and in 1425 the earlier portions of the present palace were begun. James II., at his marriage in 1449, settled on his bride, Mary of Gueldres, as her jointure, the lordship of Linlithgow and other lands, amounting in value to 10, 000 crowns; James III. also, at his marriage in 1468 to Margaret of Denmark, settled on her the palace of Linlithgow and the surrounding territory; and James IV., on his marriage with Margaret of England in 1503, gave her in dower the whole lordship of Linlithgow with the palace and its jurisdiction and privileges. In 1517 Stirling and his followers who had attempted to assassinate Meldrum of Binns on the road to Leith, fled to Linlithgow, `where they took the peel upon their heads to be their safeguard, thinking to defend themselves therein, ' but they were speedily pursued by De la Bastie, lieutenant to the Regent Albany, and captured after a short siege. The battle of Linlithgow Bridge in 1526 has been already noticed in connection with the parish. Sir James Hamilton, who so foully murdered the Earl of Lennox, was rewarded by Angus with the captaincy of the palace, and having, unlike most of Angus' followers, afterwards become a favourite of James V., he showed still more the faithlessness and atrocity of his nature by attempts, both in the palace of Linlithgow and in that of Holyrood, to assassinate the King.

In 1540 James V., by a special charter, empowered the town for the first time to add a provost to their magistracy; and in the same year, while Mary of Guise was delighting herself with the beauties and luxuries of Linlithgow Palace, Sir David Lindsay's satire of the three Estates was played before the king, queen, court, and townspeople, and was received with apparent satisfaction by all alike-a pretty sure sign as to how the wind was to blow in the coming Reformation storm. On 7 Dec. 1542, the unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots was born in the palace, and as James V. died at Falkland on the 13th of the same month, and his infant daughter succeeded to the throne, the place became, for the period thereafter during which the queen dowager and her child remained there, the centre of all the many political intrigues of the time. In 1543 convocations met here on 1 Oct., and again on 1 and 19 Dec.; and in 1552 a provincial council of the clergy was held. In 1559 the Earl of Argyll, Lord James Stewart, and John Knox, passed through Linlithgow on their celebrated march from Perth to Edinburgh, and demolished the monastic houses; and almost ten years later, Stewart, now the Earl of Murray, and regent, was to return and end his all too brief term of power, for on 20 Jan. 156970, while passing through Linlithgow on his way from Stirling to Edinburgh, the regent was shot by Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh. The old story was, that it was an act of private revenge for injury of the most cruel kind done to Hamilton's wife by some of Murray's friends; but that this is utterly false has been shown by Dr Hill Burton, and the well-planned scheme must be regarded as simply a political murder. Linlithgow was chosen because `the Hamiltons had a strong feudal influence in the surrounding district, and could thus make their preparations among themselves. The structure of the old Scots towns favoured such a deed. They were generally laid out in one narrow street, with gardens radiating outwards on either side. These the enemy might destroy, but the backs of the houses formed a sort of wall, and protected the actual town from invasion. The arrangement was conducive to health as well as protection, but it afforded opportunities for mischief, and frequently those concerned in street brawls could escape through their own houses into the open country. A house, belonging, according to the concurring testimony of contemporaries, to Archbishop Hamilton, was found to suit the purpose, as facing the principal street. Horses and all other means were read-y for escape westward into the chief territory of the Hamiltons, where they were absolute. There was a balcony in front, with hangings on it. Perhaps the citizens did honour to the occasion by displaying their finery, and this house appeared to be decorated like the others,' or it may be, as is told by an account parts of which at least are contemporary, that `upon the pavement of the said gallery [or balcony] he laid a feather-bed, and upon the window thereof he affixed black cloths, that his shadow might not be seen nor his feet heard when he went to or fro.' It is more likely, however, not, as black cloth would certainly have attracted attention, and warnings of danger had previously reached the regent, `but he was not a man easily flustered or alarmed, and gave no further heed to what was said, save that he thought it prudent to pass rapidly forward. In this, however, he was impeded by the crowd. The murderer had to deal with the delays and difficulties of the clumsy hackbut of the day, but he did his work to perfection. The bullet passed through the body between the waist and the thigh, and retained impetus enough to kill a horse near the regent's side.' He was carried to the palace hard by, where after a few hours all was over, and-the country stood once more face to face with anarchy. The Diurnal of Occurrents says that the house, which belonged to Bothwellhaugh's uncle, Archbishop Hamilton, `incontinent thairefter wes all utterlie burnt with fyre.' Its site is now occupied by the county court buildings, in the wall of which a bronze tablet commemorative of the event was inserted in 1875. It was designed by Sir Nöel Paton and executed by Mrs D. O. Hill, and bears a medallion portrait of Murray, taken from a painting at Holyrood, with the inscription: ` On the street opposite this tablet James Stewart, Earl of Murray, Regent of Scotland, was shot by James Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, on 20 January 1570. Erected in 1875. ' The hackbut with which the murder was committed is still preserved at Hamilton Palace; the assassin himself fled to France, and remained in voluntary exile. Some months after the deed, the English army, which entered Scotland to readjust the arrangements that the regent's death had unsettled, burnt the Duke of Chatelherault's house in Linlithgow, and threatened to destroy the whole town. It was also proposed during that distracted year to hold a parliament at Linlithgow, but Regent Lennox marching thither in October prevented the intended meeting. In 1584 the rents both of money and victual of the lordship of Linlithgow were appropriated for supporting Blackness Castle, and in 1585 a parliament was held in the town. At the king's marriage in 1592 the barony lands and palace were, according to former usage, given in dowry to his bride, the Princess Anne of Denmark. In 1596, during a popular tumult in Edinburgh, the `faithful town of Linlithgow' afforded refuge to Court, Privy Council, and Court of Session; and in 1603 it shared in the grief that arose from James's abandonment of his native palaces on his accession to the English crown, and when the king first revisited Scotland in 1617, and made his appearance at Linlithgow - the palace of which was then the residence of a Scottish sovereign for the last time - the inhabitants held high festival. James was met at the entrance to the town by James Wiseman, the burgh pedagogue, enclosed in a plaster figure resembling a lion, and was addressed by him in the following doggerel speech:

'Thrice royal sir, here do I you beseech,
Who art a lion, to hear a lion's speech;
A miracle, for since the days of Æsop
No lion, till those days, a voice dared raise up
To such a majesty! Then, king of men,
The king of beasts speaks to thee from his den,
who, though he now enclosed be in plaster,
When he was free, was Lithgow's wise schoolmaster.

Here in 1604 the trial of the leaders of the Aberdeen Assembly took place, and in 1606 and 1608 the Assemblies were held at which the modified episcopacy of this period was established. When Charles I. was at Edinburgh in 1633 ha intended to visit the town, and had the palace put in order for his reception, while the magistrates and council were quite in a fluster over preparations to do him honour. They ordered a thatched house in the Kirkgate to be slated, `as it was unseemly, and a disgrace to the toun;' and also, `considering how undecent it is to weir plaidis and blew bannetis, . . . statuit and ordanit, That no person, athir in burgh or landwart, weir ony banneteis nor plaidis during his Majesties remaining in this his ancient kingdome; And that none resort in the toune with bannettis or plaidis, under the paine of confiscation of thair plaidis and bannettis, and punichment of thair personne;' but something came in the way, and he never went, so that all their provisions, as well as their great care as to how the king's retinue was to be accommodated, `seeing the puir peipill hes not wharupon to sustain thame,' went for nought. During the troubles preceding the Covenant, the Privy Council and Law Courts again, in 1637, moved to Linlithgow, but either because they were still too near Edinburgh, or because they could get no suitable accommodation, they moved again almost at once to Stirling. In 1646, when the plague was raging in Edinburgh, the University classes were taught in Linlithgow church, and parliament sat in the hall of the palace for the last time. There was the usual outburst of somewhat dubious rejoicing over the Restoration; and two years later, on the anniversary rejoicings, the Covenant was publicly burned, seemingly principally at the instigation of Ramsay the minister, afterwards Bishop of Dunblane, and R. Mylne, then dean of guild - an act of which it is well to know that the community were afterwards ashamed, for in 1696 the council, after due search, declared that they could find in the minutes nothing ` appointing the same to be done,' and `that the Toun had noe hand in burning the Covenant, and any aspersion put upon the Toun thairanent to be false and calumnious.' The matter is thus described in a contemporary account: ` At the Mercat Cross was erected a crowne standing on an arch on four pillars. On the one side of the arch was placed a statue in form of an old hag, having the Covenant in her hands, with this superscription, " A glorious reformation; " and on the other side of the arch was placed another statue, in form of a Whigamuir, having the Remonstrance in his hand with this superscription, "No association with malignants;" and on the other side was drawn a Committee of Estates, with this superscription, "Ane act for delivering the king; " and on the left side was drawn a Commission of the Kirk, with this superscription, "Ane act of the west-kirk;" and on the top of the arch stood the Devil as ane angel, with this label in his mouth, "Stand to the cause;" and in the middle hung a table with this litany:

"From Covenanters with uplifted hands,
From remonstrators with associate bands.
From such committees as govern'd the nation.
From kirk-commissions, and their protestation,
Good Lord, deliver us."

Over the pillar at the arch beneath the Covenant were drawn kirk-stools, rocks, and reels; and over the pillar, beneath the Remonstrance, were drawn beechen cogs and spoons; and on the back of the arch was drawn Rebellion in a religious habit, with turned-up eyes, in her right hand "Lex, Rex," in her left a piece called "The causes of God's wrath;" round about her was lying all Acts of Parliament, of Committees of Estates, of General Assemblies, and of the Commissioners of the Kirk, with their protestations and declarations during the 22 years' Rebellion; above her was written this superscription, "Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft." At the drinking his Majesties health, fire was put to the frame, it turned it into ashes, and there appeared suddenly a table supported by two angels, and on the other side the dragon, the devil that fought with Michael the archangel, with this inscription:

"Great Britain's monarch on this day was born
And to his kingdoms hapily restor'd;
The queen's arriv'd, the mitre now is worn,
Let us rejoice, this day is from the Lord.
Fly hence, all traitors who did marr our peace;
Fly hence, schismatics who our church did rent;
Fly. covenanting, remonstrating race;
Let us rejoice that God this day hath sent." '

The town gave such sumptuous entertainment to the Duke of York, afterwards James II., when he was in Scotland, that it is said to have long felt the pressure of the debt incurred by its lavish expenditure on the occasion. Prince Charles Edward also was hospitably received on Sunday, 15 Sept. 1745, when the Palace Well was set a-running with wine; and on 13 Sept. 1842, the Queen and Prince Albert, returning from Perthshire to Edinburgh, passed through but did not stop.

Walter Simson, in his History of the Gipsies (2d ed., New York, 1878), has an interesting chapter on the Linlithgow tribe. About the middle of last century their chieftain, `Captain' M`Donald, was shot in an attempt at highway robbery. He was buried in the churchyard, and the `funeral was very respectable, being attended by the magistrates of Linlithgow and a number of the most genteel persons in the neighbourhood.' In 1770 his son and his son's brother-in-law were hanged at Linlithgow Bridge - the latest instance this where the `fame of being Egyptians' formed part of the indictment.

The trade of Linlithgow, arising from its charter rights along the coast, was, as we have seen, at one time very considerable, and this remained so till the 16th century, when it was seriously interfered with by the troubles of Queen Mary's reign, and those of the early part of that of James VI.; and still farther encroachment was made in the 17th century by the erection in 1615 of the lands of Grange into a barony

The town at one time possessed a considerable amount of property, including the common known as the Burghmuir, which seems to have been enclosed about 1675. The lands are now sold, but the Magistrates still annually ` ride the marches ' on the Tuesday of June following the second Thursday. The custom dates from at least 1541, when reference is made to it in the Court Book; and in the Town Charter of 1593, the community are confirmed in their lands ` as they have enjoyed and perambulated them in time past. ' Formerly the occasion was one of great splendour, each trade turning out with its banner, and every one who could command the loan of a horse appearing on horseback. The ` riding ' is now confined to a visit to Linlithgow Bridge, where the burgh mill stood at one time, and then to Blackness, the former port of the burgh, where on the Castlehill a head court is held, and all the town's vassals summoned to appear, which, however, they never do. A Bailie of Blackness is also appointed, but that is now a nominal office. The Town's Arms were formally confirmed by a grant from the Lyon King of Arms in 1673, and are `Azure the figure of the Archangell Michael with wings expanded, treading on the bellie of a Serpent lying with its tail fesswayes in base, all argent; the head of which he is pearcing through with a Spear in his dexter hand, and grasping with his sinister ane Inescutcheon charged with the Royall Armes of Scotland, the Motto being Collocet in coelis nos omnes vis Michaelis. And upon the reverse of the seall of the said Burgh is insculped in a field or, a Greyhound bitch sable, chained to ane Oak tree within ane loch proper.' The popular motto, however, is ` My fruit is fidelity to God and the King.' The burgh has a special tune known as `Lord Lithgow's March,' or `The Rock and the Wee Pickle Tow., The first title is from the Livingstones, who were Earls of Linlithgow and Callendar, and latterly keepers of the Palace. The title is now extinct, James, the fifth and last Earl, having been attainted for taking part in the rebellion of 1715. As a Member of the Court of Four Burghs, and subsequently by an Act of Parliament passed in 1621, Linlithgow was entrusted with the keeping of the standard peck and firlot, the latter for oats and barley, containing 31 Scotch pints or 3205 ½ cubic inches, and for wheat and pease 21 ¼ pints or 2197 1/3 cubic inches, the standard of the pint being 3 Scotch pounds of water taken from the Water of Leith. After the Union an attempt was made to take away the privilege, but it was successfully resisted by the burgh, though since the introduction of the imperial measures, the matter has ceased to be of more than mere antiquarian interest. The iron brand for the firlot is still to be seen in the council chamber, but the standard itself was unfortunately destroyed when the Town House was burned in 1847.

Site and Public Buildings.—None of the houses in the burgh can be older than the 15th century, but a number must date very nearly from that time, and though modern improvements are making great alterations here as elsewhere, the town has still an old-fashioned look. Its site is a hollow, the lowest part of which is occupied by Linlithgow Loch, which bounds the town on the N. The principal street extends from E to W for a little over ½ mile, and is fairly wide at the ends but narrow immediately to the W of the open space at the Cross. From the Cross a narrow street called the Kirkgate leads N to the church and palace, while at the E end High Street is continued to the NE by the Low Port, and eastwards by High East Port. At its W end is a portion known as West Port. The other streets are chiefly short lanes and narrow alleys, leading, in some instances, to straggling outskirts. At the different ports there were probably gates, but there was never any regular wall - the walls along the backs of the gardens, and then the backs of the houses themselves, being deemed sufficient for all ordinary defensive purposes. The Loch on the N is 150 feet above sea-level, and covers an extent of 102 acres, the extreme length being 6 ½ furlongs, and the width 2. It contains perch and eels, and may be fished by boat, on application to the representatives of the lessee, or from the banks free, or according to a decision given in the burgh court as early as 1552, ` The inhabitants within this burgh hes fishen the louch past memory of men without stop soe fare as they might wade with ane guad.' The greatest depth of the western half is 50 feet, and of the eastern half about 10 feet. On the N side, rising 50 feet above the loch, is a promontory on which are the ruins of Linlithgow Palace. The early castles on the site have been already noticed down to the time of Robert Bruce. Of that erected by Edward I., the only parts now remaining are portions of three towers at the NW corner - starting points for the flying buttresses by which the lofty E wall is here supported - and possibly part of the SW tower. The buildings as they now stand form a square of 168 feet from E to W, and 174 from N to S, while the court inside measures 91 feet from E to W, and 88 from N to S, and at each corner is a tower. The exterior looks heavy from the very large amount of dead wall and the small number of windows, but the fronts to the court are handsome and elegant, the ordinary appearance of the Scottish Baronial architecture being relieved by many features drawn from Continental sources. The whole structure, with the exception first noted, must be of later date than 1425, for the old palace or castle where the monarchs lived, from David II. downwards, suffered damage in the fire of 1424, when James I. brought home his Queen from England. Preparations seem to have been at once made to rebuild the whole, and in the course of the next six years £2440, 10s. 7 ½d. was expended, and work continued to be done throughout the rest of the reign of James I. and that of James II. The parts then erected seem to be about the SW corner, but they have since then probably undergone a good deal of alteration. The W side seems to have had, at one time, the wooden galleries in front which were characteristic of 15th century work. From 1451 to 1467 operations were pretty much at a stand-still, but in the latter year, James III., who `was much given to buildings and repairing of chappels, halls, and gardens,' brought his Queen here, and began to build again, and in the following year added considerably to the surrounding grounds. To his reign probably may be assigned the northern parts of the W side, and the original N side, which was afterwards removed. One of the rooms on the NW is shown as the bedroom of James III., and on two of the bosses in the groining of a closet opening off it are carved a stag lying under a tree, with the motto Belle a vous leule, which has been supposed to be old French for ` Fair be your rising.' In the time of James IV., the treasurer's accounts contain notices of many sums spent on the palace, and to this period may be assigned alterations on the N side at the towers, and probably the erection of the turret on the top of that to the NW, which is known as ` Queen Margaret's Bower, ' though it must be considered as somewhat doubtful whether she ever actually in this particular bower

` Ail lonely sat and wept the weary hour.'

The palace does not seem to have been very completely furnished, for the royal accounts contain entries of payments for the conveyance of `Arress claythes,' or tapestry, from Edinburgh, and an organ was also carried backwards and forwards. The floors were strewn with rushes, even on high occasions, for five shillings were paid ` for resschis to the Haw off Lythgow, the tyme of the Imbassatouris.' To James V., who was born here on 10 April 1512, the present form of a large part of the buildings is, however, due. He constructed the fine fountain in the centre of the quadrangle, and the detached gateway to the S, which then led into an enclosed court; altered the whole of the S side and the chapel very extensively; and probably also made alterations on the S and W sides. All this seems to have been done in preparation for his marriage, and though his first queen was destined never to see it, his labours were rewarded by the declaration of Mary of Guise, ` that she had never seen a more princely palace; ' and Sir David Lyndsay, in his Farewell of the Papingo, writes,

`Adew Lithgow, whose palyce of plesance
Micht be ane pattern in Portugall or France.'

It seems to have been a favourite residence with this monarch, and it was here that he was troubled by the vision which has been already noticed under Balwearie. In the time of James VI. several alterations were made on the W side, and the whole of the N side was rebuilt between 1617 and 1628. This was rendered necessary by the fall of the original buildings in 1607, but nothing seems to have been done till the king revisited Scotland in 1617. The style is well marked, and the design is often attributed to Inigo Jones, but as there was a royal master mason or architect for Scotland at this time William Wallace, the designer of Heriot's Hospital in Edinburgh - the work is more probably his. The centre fountain seems to have been damaged by the fall, as one part of it must be referred to this date. The walls of this portion have again become very much twisted, so that there seems to be some fate attached to this side. From this time onward the palace became little more than the occasional residence of the Earls of Livingstone, its keepers, except between 1651 and 1659, when it was occupied by a small garrison of Cromwell's soldiers; possibly even the great leader himself may have lived in it for a few days, as some of his letters are dated from Linlithgow. The eventful year 1745 found it in charge of a housekeeper, Mrs Glen Gordon, who seems to have been a stanch Jacobite, and to have given a cordial welcome to Prince Charles Edward. The next occupants were Hawley's dragoons, after their flight from Falkirk in 1746, and by them it was, either through carelessness or design, set on fire and completely ruined. Mrs Gordon went to the general to remonstrate as to the behaviour of the soldiers, and finding her complaints treated with indifference, is said to have taken her leave with the sarcastic remark, `A-weel, a-weel, I can rin frae fire as fast as ony General in the King's army.' Proposals to convert the buildings into a county courthouse and into a supplementary register house for Scotland were once made but abandoned, and the buildings and the park, which extends to 15 ½ acres, have been since 1848 cared for by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. The present entrance is on the S side; and on the ground-floor to the E of it are the guard-room, into which Regent Murray is said to have been at first carried, a bakehouse, and stables. In the E side are the old entrance, with guardhouse and dungeons on one side and the kitchens on the other. One of the vaults beneath the guard-room is known as the Lion's Den, whether from its lying below the Great Hall, known as the Lyon Chamber, or from its having been the actual den of a lion kept by some of the kings is uncertain. On the W side are vaulted chambers, probably intended for servants. On the first floor to the E of the S entrance is the chapel, and the whole of the E side is occupied by the Lyon Chamber, or parliament hall, a fine room, measuring 98½ feet long, 30 wide, and 35 high at the side walls. On the W side are the so called bedroom of James III. and the room where Queen Mary was born. The fountain in the centre of the quadrangle is now very much destroyed. The E entrance seems to have been made by James V, and the now empty niches ` were filled with statues of the Pope, to represent the Church; a knight to indicate the gentry; and a labouring man to symbolise the commons, each having a scroll above his head, on which were inscribed a few words of legend, now irretrievably lost. ' The group on the S side represented the Salutation of the Virgin, and these were originally brightly painted, and so late as 1629 payment was made for `painting and laying over with oyle cullour, and for gelting with gold the haill foir face' of the N side, and for `gelting and laying over with oyle cullour the Four Orderis above the utter yett '-i.e., the outer gate on the S side. These four orders were carved panels, with the badges of the four orders of knighthood that James V. held, viz.:-St Michael, the Golden Fleece, the Garter, and the Thistle. The sculptured panels at present occupying the upper part were placed there in 1848, and probably represent pretty nearly the original designs. The cannon in the palace grounds is a trophy of the Crimean war, and was brought from Bomarsund.

To the S of the palace is the parish church, of which Billings says that it is ` assuredly the most important specimen of an ancient parochial church now existing in Scotland, both as to dimensions and real architectural interest. ' We have already seen that there was a church here dedicated to St Michael as early as the reign of David I., and in the time of Alexander II., in 1242, there is word of a new church having been erected, and probably some parts of this are incorporated with the present building. In 1384 Robert II. contributed 26s. 8d. for the erection or repair of the church tower, and in 1424 the church was injured and considerably destroyed by the fire that reduced the town to ashes. A considerable portion of the present building, which is Scottish Decorated in style, probably dates from the time of James III., and the steeple at least seems to have been finished during his reign, for the open crown that once formed the finish at the top had a vane formed by a hen, with the points below marked by chickens, which is said to have been borrowed from a favourite device of James's-a hen with chickens under her wings, and the motto, Non dormit qui custodit; but many alterations and additions were made in the time of James V., between 1528 and 1536. On 29 June 1559 the Lords of the Congregation, on their march S from Perth, destroyed all the altars within the building, and all the images, except that of St Michael, which still remains. In 1646 the building was divided by partitions, by which chambers were formed for the accommodation of the university classes, moved from Edinburgh, as already noticed. In 1812 it was very extensively repaired, pews and galleries introduced, and a new roof and ceiling put in. The crown that formerly surmounted the tower, being thought so heavy as to endanger the entire structure, was taken down about 1821. ` The incorporated trades who, after the Reformation, had their-dues to the altarages changed into the upholding of the church windows, claimed a sort of vested interest in the building, and the shoemakers held for a time the privilege of holding the annual meeting for the election of their deacon in the south transept, known as St Katherine's aisle.' The part used as the parish church has more recently, in 187v1, had the whitewash removed and repairs made, and a fine organ has been introduced. There are about 1100 sittings. The total length of the building is 185 feet, and the width h05 across the transepts, while the height is about 90 feet. Internally the length is 146 feet, not including the apse, and the breadth 62 feet, exclusive of the transepts. The steeple contains three bells, the largest of which has the inscription, Lynlithgw villa me fecit. Vocor alma Maria. Domini Jacobi quarti tempore magnifici. Anno milemo quadringeno nonageno, with the royal arms, a copy of the old town seal, and a curious monogram. The next bell, recast in 1773, has on it the names of the founders, and copies of both sides of the old town seal. The third bell, which was recast in 1718, seems to have borne the name of Meg Duncan for a long time, as it has the inscription, Sicut quondu am Meg Dunean. The windows are noticeable for the great variety of design. The S transept contained an altar dedicated to St Katherine, and was the place where James IV. sat when he saw the apparition that warned him against his fatal expedition to England, an incident minutely chronicled by Pitscottie, and forming the basis of Sir David Lyndsay's tale in Marmion. There were in all twenty-four altarages, dedicated to different saints, but these were removed in 1559, and probably still further damage was done by Cromwell's dragoons, who used the church as a stable. The vestry contains a stone altarpiece, representing the betrayal and sufferings of Christ. The church anciently belonged to St Andrews priory, and was long served by perpetual vicars. John Laing, one of its vicars, rose in 1474 to be bishop of Glasgow, and George Crichton, another of them, became in 1500 abbot of Holyrood, and in 1522 bishop of Dunkeld.

An ancient chapel, dedicated to St Ninian, stood in the western part of the town, and on the S side, on the eminence still called Friars' Brae, was a Carmelite Friary, erected in 1290, and the third of this order in Scotland. Though it was in existence at the Reformation, no part now remains, but a well not far off is known as the Friars' Well- To the E was a Dominican Friary, some traces of which existed down to 1843, or later. To the SE was a hospitium, which is noticed as early as 1335, and seems to have been an almshouse, possibly a leperhouse. It was dedicated to St Mary Magdalene. It possessed considerable lands, which are said to have been in 1526 alienated by the then preceptor to Sir James Hamilton of Finnart. An almshouse existed, however, down to 1637. St Magdalene's cross, on the old fair ground, was where St Magdalene's distillery now stands.

The Town-hall is in High Street, at the corner of the Kirkgate, and may nowadays be counted a somewhat plain building. The original building was erected in 1668-70, after a design by John Mylne, the royal architect, with funds obtained by the charge of double customs, and from an additional fair, both privileges being granted after the Restoration, to compensate for losses sustained during the time of the Commonwealth. Great injury was done to it by fire in 1847, but it was restored in the following year, and the spire, originally added about 1678, renewed. A clock to replace the old one, destroyed by fire, was placed in position in 1857, funds being provided by public subscription. It was the first turret clock constructed in Scotland on the same principles as the Westminster clock, with a gravity escapement. Besides the town-hall proper, the building also contains the old sheriff-courtroom and the old prison. The council chamber contains a set of old Scottish weights and measures, and a portrait of Henry, the historian (1718-90), who bequeathed his library to the town. The county hall, behind the town-house, is a plain building with a large hall, containing portraits of the great Earl of Hopetoun (Raeburn), second in command under General Sir John Moore; of his brother, General Sir Alexander Hope (Watson-Gordon), long M. P. for the county; and of the late Earl of Rosebery. The new county buildings and courthouse are on the opposite side of High Street, a little to the W, and, as already mentioned, partly occupy the site of the house whence Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh fired his fatal shot. It is a plain building, erected in 1863-65, with ample accommodation for the county offices, etc. On the SE is the county police office, and to the S is the prison. Linlithgow has long been celebrated for its wells, according to the old rhyme, which says—

'Glasgow for bells,
Lithgow for wells.'

The most important of these is the Cross Well, close to the town-hall. When the first structure was raised here is uncertain, possibly about 1535, when the palace fountain was constructed. In 1628 it was repaired, having been at that time in decay, 'ane deid monument ' It was again repaired in 1659, as it had been destroyed by Cromwell's soldiers, but fell once more to decay, and had to be rebuilt again in 1807. The present structure is said to be a pretty exact imitation of the old one, and, according to tradition, was executed by a one-armed mason, who wielded a mallet fixed to the stump of his other arm. It has a number of curious figures, and the top is surmounted by a unicorn supporting the Scottish arms, -perhaps in imitation of that which the town council in 1633, in anticipation of the expected visit of Charles I., ordered to be executed and placed on the top of the market cross by John Ritchie, the mason who had rebuilt the well in 1628. The water comes from a spring ¼ mile to the S, near Friars' Brae. Of the other wells, known as the Lion Well, the Dog Well, and St Michael's Well, the latter, near the station, is the only one worthy of notice. It has a figure of St Michael, taken from one of the old Cross Wells, on the top, with the date 1720, and the inscription, ` St Michael is kinde to Strangers. ' A building, with an old square tower, near the railway station, is said to have belonged to the Knight-Templars, and afterwards to the Knights of St John. It is said to have been used as a mint in the time of James I., and possibly by the Lords of the Congregation, who, while here in 1559, meant to ` set up a coin, saying they shall coyne a good part of their plate for maintenance of the word of God and the wealth of Scotland.' *

The old Free church has been converted into a school, under the landward school board, and in its place a good Gothic building, with a spire of 100 feet, was erected in 1873-74 at a cost of about £2000. It contains 350 sittings. The East United Presbyterian church was built in 1805 for an Anti-burgher congregation formed in 1773, and the West United Presbyterian church in 1834 for a Burgher congregation formed in 1772. They contain 480 and 546 sittings respectively. The Congregational church, built in 1840 at a cost of £700, contains 390 sittings. There is also a Roman Catholic church, St Joseph's (1876; 250 sittings). The Burgh School is heard of in 1187. Ninian Winzet, who wrote controversial tracts against John Knox, and who ultimately became Abbot of the Scots College at Ratisbon, was rector from 1551 to 1561. One of his successors, Kirkwood, who was rector at the Revolution, wrote a satirical pamphlet against the town council (The History of the Twenty-seven Gods of Linlithgow), who had unjustly deprived him of office. The Earl of Stair and Colonel Gardiner were pupils of his.

Under the burgh school board are Linlithgow public and Douglas Cottage schools; and these, with accommodation for 330 and 48 pupils respectively, had in 1882 attendances of 388 and -33, and grants of £344, 9s. 8d. and £25, 3s. 6d.

Municipality, etc.—The town has a head post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, offices of the British Linen Company and Commercial banks-the latter a good building, and agencies of 26 insurance offices. The miscellaneous institutions include a gas company, bowling, bicycle, and curling clubs, a company of volunteers, a masonic hall, a mechanics' institute, a working-men's club, and a workmen's hall. The poorhouse, at the E end of the town, is a Scottish Baronial building, with good grounds. It was erected in 1854, at a cost of £9000, for Linlithgow Combination, consisting of the parishes of Abercorn, Bathgate, Borrowstounness, Carriden, Kirkliston, Linlithgow, Muiravonside, and Whitburn, and with accommodation for 230 paupers has an average of about 160 inmates. The town, which used to be governed by a council of 27-the Gods of Kirkwood's pamphlet-has had since 1v832 a provost, 3 bailies, a dean of guild, a treasurer, and 9 councillors, who are also under the General Police and Improvement Act (1862) police commissioners. The trade of Linlithgow, arising from its rights of commerce along the coast, was, as we have seen, at one time very considerable, and this remained so till the 16th century, when it was seriously interfered with by the troubles of Queen Mary's reign, and those of the early part of that of James VI. Still further encroachment was made in the 17th century by the erection, in 1615, of the lands of Grange into a barony, with the privileges of a free port; by the erection of Queensferry into a royal burgh in 1636; and by the erection of Borrowstounness into a burgh of regality in 1668. The council offered vigorous opposition to all these as encroachments on the town's privileges, and were so far successful, in the case of the first two, that freemen of Linlithgow were to have full use of the port of Grange without payment of custom, while all cargoes of merchandise were, on arrival, to be offered to the council and burgesses of Linlithgow at a certain fixed price, and on their refusal to buy were not to be offered to any one else for less; while after 1641 Queensferry agreed to make compensation of 10 merks every year to Linlithgow, besides which all burgesses and guild brethren of Linlithgow were to have the same privileges as at home, and twenty-four hours' notice was to be given to Linlithgow before any foreign cargo was sold. Borrowstounness, backed by the influence of the Duke of Hamilton, was more fortunate, as it got a charter of regality in spite of the opposition, and very shortly afterwards parliament decreed that burghs of regality should have the same trade privileges as royal burghs. In the middle of the 18th century there was a considerable linen manufacture, and Defoe, in the first edition of his Journey through Scotland, says that the whole town had ` a good face of business, ' while in a subsequent edition he says, ` the People look here as if they were busy and had something to do; whereas, in most Towns we pass'd through, they seemed as if they looked disconsolate for want of employment. The whole green, fronting the Lough or Lake, was cover'd with LinnenCloth, it being the bleeching Season, and I believe a Thousand Women and Children and not less, tending and managing the bleaching Business. ' The trade in lint and linen yarn, as well as those in damask, diaper, muslin, carpets, and stockings, are all now extinct. In the end of last century the staple industries were woolcombing, tanning, and shoemaking. The latter trades were probably introduced during the occupation of the palace by Cromwell's garrison, between 1651 and 1659, and during the wars in the end of last, and the beginning of the present, century they had a period of considerable vigour, as large quantities of shoes were supplied to the army. Tanning, currying, and shoemaking may still be looked on as the staple industries, and in or near the town are two paper-mills, two distilleries, a soap work, a glue work, and an agricultural implement work.

The sheriff courts for the county are held here every Tuesday and Friday during session, and a sheriff small debt court is held every Friday. A justice of peace small debt court is held on the first and third Tuesdays of every month, and quarter sessions on the first Tuesdays of March, May, and August, and the last Tuesday of October. Under an old charter, the jurisdiction of the magistrates extends for a mile along the roads all round, but it is only exercised within the burgh. Linlithgow unites with Falkirk, Airdrie, Hamilton, and Lanark in returning a member to serve in parliament. The weekly market is on Friday, and fairs are held on the Friday after the second Tuesday of January, the last Friday of February, the third Friday of April, the second Friday of June, the first Tuesday of August, and the first Friday of November. Valuation (1v875) £8837, (1884) £l2, 186, of which £1v351 was for the canal and railway. Pop. of parliamentary burgh (1811) 2557, (1831) 3187, (1861) 3843, (1871) 3690, (1881) 3913, of whom 1920 were males and 1993 females. Houses, 869.

See also Collie's The Palace of Linlithgow (Edinb. 1840), G. D. Gibb's Life and Times of Robert Gib, Lord of Carribee, Familiar and Master of the Stables to King James V. of Scotland, etc. (1874), and Waldie's History of the Town and Palace of Linlithgow (Linlithgow, 1st ed., 1858; 3d ed., 1879).

* In Cardonel's Numismata it is stated that the coins of James I struck here bear the words Villa de Linlithe, and that this is the only occasion on which the name of Linlithgow appears on a coin.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer


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