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Aberdeen festivals

Festivals
Locality Aberdeen
Vicinity c. 150 km NNE of Edinburgh
Coordinates 57.1525, -2.11
Adm. div. Aberdeenshire
Began 1508
Ended 1565
Events Processions, participants in green and yellow, w. bows and arrows, led by Robin Hood and Little John (in May and/or summer?); riding through town on St Nicholas Day, Nov. 6, w. participants appropriately dressed, led by Robin Hood and Little John, previously called Abbot and Prior of Bonaccord; procession led by Robin Hood and Little John on all Sundays in May; citizens in trouble with civic authorities over Robin Hood and Little John event (in May).
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Aberdeen.
Woolmanhill, where the election of the abbot and prior of bonaccord took place / Wikimedia Commons.
The Crabstane at which the followers of the abbot of bonaccord were to meet (in 1539) / Colin Smith, from Geograph via Mediawiki Commons.

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2016-01-25. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2017-02-12.

Records

8th May 1508
The said day It was statut and ordanit be þe Alderman baillies & counsale þat ale personis þat are abill within þis burgħ salbe reddy with þar arrayment maid in grene and ȝalow bowis Arrowis brasſs And all vþer conuenient thingis according þarto to paſs with Robyne hvyd & litile Iohnne all tymes convenient þarto quhen þai be Requirit be þe saidez Robyne & litile Iohne eftir þe tenour of þe statutis & proclamatiouñ maide be þe prouoistis baillies & counsaill obefor And gif ony of the said personis happinnis to failȝe in ony poynt befor writyne sal pay fourty schillingis vnforgevin And sall nocht breuk nor Ioiſs tak fischeing nor land of þe said burgħ[1]


17th Nov. 1508
The said day the Prouoist bailȝeis counsaill & comminte of þe said burgħ representand the haill body of the samyne warnit be the hand bell &1 circualie1 Inquerit1 ale in ane voice concordand2 Riplie auisit for þe auld Rit and lovabiłe consuetud of þe said burgħ vsit and perseuerit all tymes bigane past memor of mañ in þe honour of þar glorious patrouñ sanct nicholace statut and ordanit þat all personis burges nichbouris and Inhabitaris burges sonnys habill to Rid to decor and honour þe towne in þar array conveniant þarto sall Rid withRobert huyd and litile Iohne quhilk was callit in ȝeris bipast Abbot and priour of Bonacord one euery Sanct Nicholas day throw the towne as wse and wont has bene quheñ þai war warnit be þe said Robert huyd or litile Iohnne or ony ane of thame And gif ony man haffand takis of watteris fischeingis landis or ony pensiouñ or proffitt of þe towne habile to Rid beand warnit be þe saidez Robert huyd or litile iohnne forsaid and will nocht Ryd and beis conuikit þairintill be ane suorne assiſs of þe said burgħ sall tyne þar takis pensionis and proffitis þat þai haue of þe said burgħ & salbe secludit removit & vtirlie expellit fra ale takis pensionis proffitis quhatsumeuer þai haue of þe said burgħ in tyme tocum without ressonabłe cauſs schawin & proponit to þe prouoist bailȝeis counsaill Robene and litile Iohne obefor and be considerit be thame to be lauchful Impedment and excuſs quharthrow þai mycht nocht Rid And the personis havand na takis [p. 138:] of þe said burght beand warnit be the said robert hyud or litile Iohnne & will nocht rid sall pay xxti schillingis to Sanct nicholace werk & viij đ to þe bailȝeis vnlaw vnforgevin[1]


15th May 1517
The said day þe bailȝeis Robert huyd & litiłe Iohnne chosin be þe townñ continewit þe inobedientis & ȝoung3 þat wald nocht paſs with thame to sanct devinnis eftir þe tenour of þe proclamaciouñ & statut maid be þe townñ apouñ þar gud bering And warnit þaim oppinlie in iugment of new to obſserue & keip þe said proclamaciouñ and pas with þe saidez Robert & Iohn all þe sondais of may & vther tymes quheñ þai be warnit for honour of þe townñ And quhar contempnis & wil nocht pas þai being in þe townñ without resonabile caus or licence askit to pay ane vnlaw of viij š vnforgevin & to be accusit for breking of commoñ ordinance[2]


11th May 1565
The said day henry merdchell Is convickit for being in conventioun with his colleggis in making of robin huid & litill Iohnne aganis þe act of parliament & contemptioune of þe prowest baillies & charge gewin be the belman at thair command Quhairfor he was commandit to sit doune vpoune his kneis And ask þe prowest & baillies & consell forgifnes of þe said offens And gif eu er he beis convickit for sic offens in tym cuming to be baneist of þis toune[3]


14th May 1565
The said day Iohnne kelo belman maid faytht in Iugement that he at command of þe prowest and baillies past oñ setterday was vij daiſß viz þe v day of maij & oñ setterday last was viz þe xij day of maij throw all the rewis and gettis of this toune be oppin voce And maid inhibitioune to all burges men craftismen & all vtheris inhabitantis & induellaris of þe said toune That nane of thame tak vpone hand to mak ony conventioune with taburne plaing on pype or fedill or haue anseingȝes to convene þe quenis legis in chesing of robin huid litill Iohnne abbot of ressoune quene of maij or siclyk to contraveyne þe statutis of parliament or mak ony tumult scism or conventione
The said day Iames masar lourens mathow guild thoma huntayr & androw wysman war conuickit for þe cumyng throw þe toune vpon sonday last wes eftir none with ane menstrall playand befor þaim throw þe gallowgett In contemptioune of þe townis actis & proclamationis maid obefor & breaking of þe actis of parliament & contravening of þe samen quhairfor þai war put In amercia- [p. 154:] ment of court and war ordanit to remane In þe tolbuth quhill þai find souerte for fulfilling and satisfeing of þe emendis to be modifyt be þe consall[4]


18th May 1565
[Minute on the 'dischargeing of masaris guild wysman & huntaris fredome.'][5]


28th May 1565
[The whole town was summoned and the above statute was explained to them.]
[The provost has been to Edinburgh in connection with the above "enormiteis" and reads the following letter from the Queen]:

Marie be the grace of god queyne of scottis, To the provest and ballies of þe burgh of abirdene greting fforsamekill as be þe complaint laitlie maid to ws in ȝour name we haue vnderstand quhow certane seditious personis craftismen cutlaris baxteris saidlers swerdslipparis cordinaris blaksmythis goldsmythis cowparis barboris and vþeris within our said burght prowokit to a certane bauld raschnes throw þe publicatioune of our lettrez laitlie grantit in fauoris of þe honest craftismen of our borrowis hes in thair maner schakine of all debtfull obedience aught to ȝow our maiestratis And contemptuuslie and malignantlie refusis to obey þe louabill actis and constitutionis maid be ȝow for keiping of our said burght in decent ordour and quietnes As alsua expreslie contrar the tennor of our actis of parliament hes arrogantlie attemptit in this instant moneth of maij to elect amangis thame selffis Robene hude and Litil Iohnne And to mak oppine convocatioun in weirlyk maner alsweill oñ the sabbaoth as vþeris prophane dayis Tending as appeiris to na thing vþer bot a plane seditioune and wproar and witht tyme to aspure vnto farther Licentious libertie gif thair temerarius attemptatis be nocht quiklie repressit [Their punishment is approved by the Queen. She commands them also to pass immediately to the Market Cross and command all craftsmen to obey the laws of town and parliament under pain of loss of freedom . . . At Stirling, 23rd May 1565.][5]


9th July 1565
[The craftsmen assure the authorities 'þat thai menit no evill nor ȝit did ony thing in contemptioun of the maiestratis of this burght.' They 'obleist thame selffis to abstene fra sic enormiteis in tym cuming' and were restored to freedom.][6]

Source notes

Italics as in printed source.
The sequence "ſs" is IRHB's rendering of the Middle Scots double 's' ligature.
IRHB's brackets.
P. 137, 8th May. 1508: Marginal note: "Bonacord".[1]
P. 137, 17th Nov. 1508: Marginal note: "approbacio acti presentis confecti pro equitantibus in die sancti nicholaij etc".[1]
P. 137 n. 1: "A.C.R. (Spald. Club.) omits". Cf. p. 115: "Extracts from the Council Register, 1398-1625, havee been published in two volumes by the Spalding Club (A.C.R., Spald. Club)".
P. 137 n. 2: "Ibid., 'considerand.'"
P. 140, 15th May 1517: Lowercase s-caron (š) is IRHB's rendering of lowercase s-tilde in the printed text.
P. 140 n. 3: "'men' omitted".
P. 140, marginal note: "ȝong men Robin & litile Iohnñ".
P. 153, 11th May 1565: Note in right margin: "XXV, 574", presumably referring to MS borough records.
P. 153, 14th May 1565: Note in right margin: "577", presumably referring to MS borough records. IRHB's brackets.
P. 154, 18th May 1565: Note in left margin: "580", presumably referring to MS borough records. Brackets as in printed source.
P. 154, 28th May 1565: Note in left margin against date: "588", presumably referring to MS borough records. Below this, marginal note from MS: "The quenis Lettres vpoun craftismen". P. 154, 9th July 1565: Note in right margin: "621", presumably referring to MS borough records. Brackets as in printed source.

IRHB comments

The abbot of bonaccord first figures in the record in 1440 and again in 1445, 1448, 1453 (first mention of the prior), 1456, 1457, 1477, 1485, 1486, 1492, 1493, 1495, 1497, 1499, 1500, 1501 (abbot and prior elected on May Day at Woolmanhill), 1504, 1504/1505, 1505, 1506, 1507 (all young men to ride with abbot and prior on all holidays). 1508, 1509, 1510, 1511, 1515, 1516, 1519, 1522, 1523, 1525, 1527, 1528, 1531 ("Abbatis out of ressouñ"), 1531, 1533, 1535 (the young men to wear green coats for abbot of bonaccord events), 1538 (entertainments include dancing), 1538/39, 1539 (all able-bodied young men to meet the lords of bonaccord at the Crabstane or the churchyard every Sunday, holiday and other "neidfull tymez"). 1540, 1540/41, 1542, 1545, 1548, 1550, 1552, 1552/53, 1553 (too many sumptuous banquets in the past; there is only to be three banquets, "vpouñ þe senȝe day þe first sonday of may and ane Iunion [...] vpouñ tuisday eftir pasche day"; lords of bonaccord to arrange "dansſs farsſs playis & gamis"), 1553/54, 1554/55, 1562 (organisers of procession "to þe wood to bring in symmer vpoun þe first sonday of maij" in trouble with local authorities, one losing his freedom and being expelled)[7]

From the 1550's, during the Reformation period, the abbot and prior of bonaccord are referred to instead as lords of bonaccord. The Crabstane, formerly a boundary mark at Craibstone Croft near Hardgate, still exists. Above it is a plaque stating that it was a "boundary stone of lands belonging to John Crab, Baillie of the Burgh in 1314" (see photo on this page).[8] A passage in the record of 17 Nov. 1508 strongly suggests that the abbot and prior of bonaccord were from then on to be replaced by Robin Hood and Little John, but the abundance of later entries relating to the abbot and prior or lords of bonaccord shows clearly that this was not in fact what happened. As late as 1609, a fiddler named William Stewart was warned to refrain from "his wounted superstitioun, in playing & singing the Sondayes of Maij, in the morning."[9]

Lists and gazetteers

Printed sources

Background

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Mill, Anna Jean. Mediæval Plays in Scotland: Thesis Submitted for the Degree of Ph.D. of the University of St. Andrews, July 1924 (St Andrews University Publications, No. XXIV) (Edinburgh and London, 1927), p. 137.
  2. Mill, Anna Jean. Mediæval Plays in Scotland: Thesis Submitted for the Degree of Ph.D. of the University of St. Andrews, July 1924 (St Andrews University Publications, No. XXIV) (Edinburgh and London, 1927), p. 140.
  3. Mill, Anna Jean. Mediæval Plays in Scotland: Thesis Submitted for the Degree of Ph.D. of the University of St. Andrews, July 1924 (St Andrews University Publications, No. XXIV) (Edinburgh and London, 1927), p. 153.
  4. Mill, Anna Jean. Mediæval Plays in Scotland: Thesis Submitted for the Degree of Ph.D. of the University of St. Andrews, July 1924 (St Andrews University Publications, No. XXIV) (Edinburgh and London, 1927), pp. 153-54.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Mill, Anna Jean. Mediæval Plays in Scotland: Thesis Submitted for the Degree of Ph.D. of the University of St. Andrews, July 1924 (St Andrews University Publications, No. XXIV) (Edinburgh and London, 1927), p. 154.
  6. Mill, Anna Jean. Mediæval Plays in Scotland: Thesis Submitted for the Degree of Ph.D. of the University of St. Andrews, July 1924 (St Andrews University Publications, No. XXIV) (Edinburgh and London, 1927), p. 155.
  7. Mill, Anna Jean. Mediæval Plays in Scotland: Thesis Submitted for the Degree of Ph.D. of the University of St. Andrews, July 1924 (St Andrews University Publications, No. XXIV) (Edinburgh and London, 1927), pp. 115-16, 131-36, 138-53.
  8. Crabstane of Aberdeen.
  9. Mill, Anna Jean. Mediæval Plays in Scotland: Thesis Submitted for the Degree of Ph.D. of the University of St. Andrews, July 1924 (St Andrews University Publications, No. XXIV) (Edinburgh and London, 1927), p. 164.