Events in Scottish History

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  1   April   1820   Placards which would start the Radical War of 1820, otherwise known as the Scottish Insurrection, were displayed in Glasgow.
  1   April       "April Fool's" day used to be known as "Hunt the Gowk" (a gowk is a cuckoo). Lost in antiquity some suggest origins in 16th century in France, when the new year was changed from 1 April to 1 January, and mocks those slow on the uptake of the change. In France the day's symbol is a fish.
  2   April   1593   A charter to found The  College of New Aberdeen, later Marischal College was issued by George Keith, the Fifth Earl Marischal of Scotland.  
  2   April       "Preen-Tail Day" or "Tailie Day" following All Fool's Day when paper tails were attached to the backs of unsuspecting people as a joke.
  3   April   1728   James Anderson, lawyer, historian, genealogist and antiquary, died.  
  3   April   1820  
The first day of the Radical War of 1820, otherwise known as the Scottish Insurrection. Work stopped and workers marched on the Carron Iron Works intent on seizing weapons
  4   April   1617  
John Napier of Merchiston, inventor of logarithms, died.
  4   April   1849   The Clydesdale Joint Stock Agricultural & Commercial Company was established "for the purpose of acquiring land in some suitable locality in the United States of America, in which to establish by means of the united capital and industry of its partners, a comfortable home for themselves and families, where they may follow a more simple, useful and rational mode of life than is found practicable in the complex and competition state of society, from which they have become anxious to retire.” The members were John Jack, James Love, John Craig, John McAndrews, James Shanks, James Gardner, Robertson Sinclair, John Davis and John Campbell."
See also Alexander Gardner

  4   April   1840   Reverend John Campbell, Missionary, died in South Africa.  
  5   April   1820  
The Striking Workers of the Radical War of 1820 on their way to the Carron Iron Works were attacked by Hussars at Bonnymuir.  The leaders were subsequently executed and many others convicted and transported to Australia as criminals.
  6   April   1320  
The Declaration of Arbroath was drawn up at Arbroath Abbey. It was a letter, in Latin, from the Scottish nobility to Pope John XXII asserting Scotland's independence and warning of their right to dethrone King Robert I should he "give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English."
The Declaration of Arbroath is said to have influenced the US Declaration of Independence in 1776.
  6   April


James Mill, the Scottish philosopher and historian was born. His son was the philosopher, John Stuart Mill.
  7   April   1718   Dr Hugh Blair, born in Edinburgh.  
  8   April   1783  
John Claudius Loudon, landscape gardener and architect, born at Cambuslang, Lanarkshire.
  9   April   1747  
Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat, beheaded at Tower Hill for his part in the Jacobite Rising of 1745, at the age of 80.  On the scaffold he encouraged his nervous executioner with the words "Cheer up thy heart man, I am not afraid. Why should you be? "
  10   April   1512  
James V born.
  10   April   1840   Alexander Nasmyth, Scots painter, died in Edinburgh.  
  11   April   1839    
John Galt, novelist,   died Greenock, Renfrewshire.
  12   April   1606 UF
The first Union Flag adopted as the Flag of Scotland, England (and Wales) initially a Royal flag and was first known as "the British Flag" or the "Flag of Britain". (The current version which incorporated Ireland dates from 1801).
12 April 1941 Plaque on Gatepost at Charles Murray Park, Alford, Aberdeenshire
Charles Murray, North East poet, died at Banchory, Aberdeenshire.
  13   April   1951  
The Stone taken from the Coronation chair in 1950 by Scottish Students was returned to Westminster, after having been found at Arbroath Abbey.
Is that Stone, now in the Perth Museum, the "Stone of Destiny"?
  13   April   1912  
King George V signed a Royal Warrant establishing the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) on 13th April 1912. The first Officer Commanding the RFC was General David Y Henderson (born Glasgow 11th August 1862), who took the Corps to France in 1914. 2012 marked the centenary of the founding of the Corps.
  14   April   1582  
Charter granted by James VI which would lead to the foundation of University of Edinburgh in 1583
  15   April   1641  
Sir Robert Sibbald, physician and geographer, born.
  15   April   1710  
William Cullen, physician, chemist and metallurgist, born.
  15   April   1714  
Adam Gib, Secessionist minister, born. (Other sources note 7th or 14th April but this is from his memorial at Greyfriars Churchyard)
  15   April   1746  
The Battle of Littleferry/Bonar Bridge/Skirmish at Golspie near Dunrobin, the Jacobite Earl of Cromartie's Regiment defeated by Sutherland Militia loyal to the Government.
  15   April   1865   Poet Walter Wingate born in Dalry, Ayrshire, author of "Sair Finger" and "Paper Kate".
  15   April   1877   Sir David Ross, philosopher, born in Thurso, Caithness.  
  16   April   1728  
Joseph Black MD born.  He was the first to identify CO
2, laying the foundation of modern chemistry.
  16   April   1746  
Battle of Culloden. Fought on Drummossie Moor near Culloden House, not an English Scottish Battle as often portrayed but the last battle for the Jacobite (exiled House of Stuart) Cause, with Scots on both sides. No Regiment has this as a Battle Honour.
  16   April   1953  
HM The Queen launches the Royal Yacht "BRITANNIA" at the John Brown & Co Shipyard, Clydebank.
  17   April   1850   James Thom, the Ayrshire Sculptor, died in New York.
Ref: The Every Day Book Of History And Chronology: Embracing The Anniversaries Of Memorable Persons And Events In Every Period And State Of The World, From The Creation To The Present Time (1858) Munsell, Joel ISBN: 0548583358
  18    April   1916    
Wing Commander Harbourne Mackay Stephen CBE, DSO, DFC*, RAF retd, born in Elgin. As a Spitfire Pilot in the Battle of Britain he destroyed 20 enemy aircraft.
  19   April   1390  
 Robert II, son of  Robert the Bruce's daughter, Marjorie, died.
  20   April   1851  
Young Tom Morris, golfer, born, St Andrews.
  20   April   1918  
Mora Agnes Dickson, author and artist, and later founder with husband Alec of Voluntary Service Overseas, born in Glasgow.
Ref: International Who's Who of Authors and Writers 2004 By Elizabeth Sleeman, ISBN:1857431790


  21   April   1671  
John Law, economist, Scottish monetary reformer and originator of the “Mississippi scheme” for the development of French territories in America, baptised.
  21   April   1838  
John Muir, America's most famous and influential naturalist and conservationist, and founder of the Sierra Club, born in Dunbar, East Lothian.
  21   April   1926  
The future HM Queen Elizabeth born.
22 April 1765 Rev James Grahame, poet and clergyman, born in Glasgow.
23 April 1124  The Great Seal of Alexander I
Alexander I died at Stirling Castle.
23 April 1661
 Charles II crowned at Westminster Abbey.
23 April 1781
General James Abercromby (also Abercombie) commander-in-chief of British Forces in North America in the French and Indian War, died.
24 April 1558
Mary Queen of Scots married the French Dauphin, François de Valois, at Notre Dame in Paris.
24 April 1633
Privy Council issues a Warrant to Sir David Hepburn to raise a regiment of 1,200 men to fight in French Service. Hepburn's Regiment later became The Royal Scots, the oldest regiment in the British Army and served for 373 Years before being merged into the new Royal Regiment of Scotland in 2006.
24 April 1882
Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, Commander of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, born Moffat, Dumfries and Galloway.
25 April 1058
Malcolm Canmore  crowned at Scone.
25 April 1710
James Ferguson, astronomer, fellow of the Royal Society, born.
25 April 1915
ANZAC Day which commemorates the landing of Australian and New Zealand (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) troops at Ari Burnu on the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915 marking the emergence of the young nations on the world stage and establishing a reputation for courage and determination that stands to this day. The main British Landings were at Cape Helles and Sedd-El-Bahr. The Lancashire Fusiliers famously won "six VCs before breakfast" at W Beach on April 25, and lost 164 men that day.
26 April 1854
Henry, Lord Cockburn,who campaigned to protect and improve the beauty of Edinburgh  died at his home near the City.
27 April 1650
The Battle of Carbisdale. The Marquis of Montrose's final Campaign, in the North of Scotland, came to an end when his Royalist force was surprised and overwhelmed by Colonel David Strachan.
27 April 1794
James Bruce, explorer, died at Larbert.


28 April 1842
Sir Charles Bell, surgeon, anatomist and physiologist died. His most notable achievements were his description of the exterior respiratory nerve ("Bell's nerve"), his discovery that lesion of the seventh facial nerve causes facial paralysis ("Bell's palsy"), and his demonstration of the motor function of anterior roots and the sensory function of dorsal roots in spinal nerves (the "Bell-Magendie law").
29 April 1667

John Arbuthnot, scholar and Fellow of the Royal Society, born or baptised.
30 April 1854
James Montgomery, the Scottish poet and hymn writer died. His hymns included 'Lift Up Your Heads Ye Gates of Brass'.





Updated 13/04/2024