Rev James Wallace wrote an important text in my research, important because of its antiquity, being published in 1684. However interesting his book might be, he doesn’t include personal information in it, which is a shame as a rather interesting incident befell him in 1681.
Edward Rhind was a weaver in Kirkwall who had committed a ‘grievous’ fault, for which he was under discpline. I’ve yet to get to the bottom of what this ‘fault’ might be… Rhind was called upon to do some public penance, but this didn’t give him any joy. He told the Bishop that he would rather “he would be hanged or shot before he would submit to such indignity.” Mercy me! What did this chap get up to, and what exactly did the Bishop have in mind for him? The mind boggles. This is the problem with research – particularly research carried out under a lockdown where you don’t have the access to the archives as you’d like – you are left mid-sensational story. Yes, I’ll get to the bottom of this story, but that doesn’t help me today. I want answers! I want instant gratification!
Anyway, to get back to our friend Rhind, it seems he was feeling particularly vengeful as he broke into Rev Wallace’s abode. I’ve not yet pinpointed where this particular residence might be as the fortunes (and existence) of the St Magnus Cathedral manse deserves a whole chapter to itself. Wallace was given a stipend of £24 per year in lieu of rent; £24 per year is worth roughly £4,000 today.
So, Rhind attacks Wallace, threatening to kill him. I imagine there was much shrieking, as Wallace’s neighbours came to his rescue. Unless it happened outside, or right inside the door, a substantial stone-built dwelling (as I imagine a Minister of the Cathedral must have), doesn’t transmit sound outside too well (unless you have a ghost as I do, who turns up the volume of your hifi to the max, and then you’re very aware of the racket from outside. I’m very glad sound doesn’t transmit too well, as I make a fair amount of racket when I practice the fiddle.). Rhind is apprehended and arrested.
Bailie David Moncrieff sentences Rhind to banishment from the county, although in the text I’m reading it says ‘country.’ I’m fairly sure a Bailie of Kirkwall doesn’t have the power to banish someone from the whole of Scotland, but you never know. Maybe Rhind will turn up again.