Historical Accounts of the Loss of the Ferry in 1633

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Summary of descriptions of the sinking of King Charles I's
baggage boat on 10th July 1633

Compiled by Gill Paterson


1. The Historical Works of Sir James Balfour
2. British Library: MS Harley 4707
3. John Spalding: The History of the Troubles and Memorable Transactions in Scotland, 1624-1645
4. John Row: The Historie of the Kirk of Scotland, M.D.LVIII.-M.DC.XXXVII, 1830
5. John Rushworth: 'Historical Collections: 1633'
6. Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, of the Reign of Charles I
7. Traquair House

The Historical Works of Sir James Balfour

    James Balfour was an historian and herald whose writings included Annals of the History of Scotland. He was created Lyon King of Arms (a court office that regulated royal ceremony and heraldry) and knighted in 1630. He played a key role in the arrangements for Charles I’s Scottish coronation in 1633, at which he was present. His Annals of Scotland include many details of the coronation journey from London to Edinburgh, the coronation ceremony in Edinburgh, and the King’s stay in Scotland. They include the following description of the sinking of the baggage boat:


    From pages 201-2:



2. British Library: MS Harley 4707

    ‘A brief note of rare things hapned in Scotland since the taking of King James the first prisoner taken be English Men’, ff 59r – 61v.


    Transcribed by Helen Wyld, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh.


    The note includes events from the 15th century on, and ends with a long description of Charles I’'s coronation ceremony. A description of this MS in the Henry Bradshaw Society’s publication on the coronations of Charles I (Christopher Wordsworth, The Manner of the Coronation of King Charles the First of England: At Westminster, 2 Feb., 1626, London, 1892) notes that on the back of this document there is a note identifying it as ‘Simpson’s histor. Notes concern. Scotl. Anecdotes of Jam. I. Coronat. of Charles I.’, and that it is a carelessly made early 18 century copy of an earlier document. It is unclear who Simpson was. The document could also be earlier than stated in the Henry Bradshaw Society volume.


    From the document:


    '…. from ffalkland to brunteland by the which he come thr fra over the water a greate pairt he sailled in his owne Schip and thrafter tooke him to his Schips boat with 8 men that rowit her wer[?] with him but the marques of Hamiltoun my Lord of L[??]land with few[?] some others Trew it is that when his Matie tooke the firthe was betwixt nyne and ten it was appearance of ane pleasant day but be his Matie was a Schort Space off land There arose ane greate tempest and that betwixt twelf and ane efternoone sua th.r was ane boate casting away having thrin of men about the number of 28 persounes bothe Scotis and English who was Servants to his matie or at least to his matie dependers also there was in the said boate tua trunkes wherein there was muche of his maties silver vessel. The names of the men according to o.r Knowledge viz Mr Napeir ane Scottisman borne Servito.r to the Duike of Lennox; Lues Somervell ane of his Maties Ushers for the tyme and Servito to the Lord Erskine Alex.r Hay Clerk to his Maties pantrie Johne brown and his brother with tua uther pertor[?] boyis and ane man of Sergeant bowies with tua Englishmen of the silver [skullerie?] with the English men of the pasterie ane Inglishe man Clerk to the Duik of Lennox – Kitching Robert Schortus baillie of dunbar and clerk of the maister -housholds Kitching This his Maties cuming over the water was upoun the tent day of July before mentioned Trew it is he saw the boate peryshe before his owin eyes and desirit thame to pray to the Lord to…'

3. John Spalding: The History of the Troubles and Memorable Transactions in Scotland, 1624-1645

    John Spalding was a lawyer, residing in Aberdeen. For many years he acted as clerk to the consistorial court for the diocese; and his office, the records of which were burnt in 1721, was within the precincts of the old cathedral of St. Machar. The latest trace of him occurs in a notarial document in his own handwriting, dated 30 Jan. 1663. Spalding was the author of a valuable annalistic History of the Troubles and Memorable Transactions in Scotland between 1624 and 1645. This is a simple narrative of current events, interspersed with copies of documents which no doubt came into Spalding's hands in his official capacity.

    '…the King…cam bak to Brunt iland, schippit, camover the water and saiflie lodgit in the Abbay that nicht. Bot as he is on the water, in his awin sicht thair perishit ane boit following efter him, hauing within hir about 35 personis of English and Scotis , his owne domestik servitouris, and tuo only escaipit with thair lyves. His ma jesties silver plait and houshold stuff perishit with the rest. A pitiful sicht no doubt to the King and the haill beholders, whairof the like was never sein ane boit to perish betuixt Brunt Island and Leith in ane fair symmeris day, but storme of wether, being the tent of July.''



4. John Row: The Historie of the Kirk of Scotland, M.D.LVIII.-M.DC.XXXVII, 1830

    By John Row, Minister at Carnock, with additions and illustrations by his sons, printed for the  Maitland Club M.DCCC.XLI.I

    Ref: https://books.google.co.uk/     NB: searched under the book title + Bruntiland. The description is on pages156-7.


    Mr John Row was baptised in 1568 and died in 1646. He was Minister of Carnock, Dunfermline, from 1592. So the following extract was written by a person who was alive in 1633, living near Dunfermline, although possibly not attending the Coronation events.

    '..and turning to Edinburgh out of Falkland, he came to Bruntiland and past over
    Leith in a
    pinnage of his oune; but the day being somewhat tempestuous
    many going over the water at that
    tyme, ane litle boat, quherein ther wer

    Englishmen, the King’s servants, and rich coffers, wer drouned
    in sight of the
    King’s pinnage, which made the King melancholious
    that night.'


5. John Rushworth: Historical Collections, 1633

    The Arch-Bishop of Canterburies Diary for the Year 1633.

    William Laud was elevated from being Bishop of London to Archbishop of Canterbury by Charles I in 1633. He accompanied King Charles to Scotland, but his itinerary was slightly different from the King so he was not with him on July 10th.


      On the 13th of May, being Munday, I set out of London to attend King Charles into Scotland.

      July 1. Monday I went over Forth to Brunt Island.

      July 9. Tuesday to Linlithgow, and so to Edenburgh.

      July 10. Wednesday, his Majesties dangerous passage from Brunt-Island to Edenburgh.

      July 11. Thursday I began my Journey from Edenburgh towards London.


    Also included in Rushworth’s Historical Collections:

      Wednesday the 10, the King with his Nobles and Retinue, took Boat at Brunt-Island to come to Leith (being 7 Miles over) in a calm Season about the mid day. But presently after the Boats put to Sea, arose a violent Storm and Tempest, (though none at Land) to the great hazard of His Majesty, and many others; the King passing to a Ship, a Man of War of his in the Road, with much difficulty, weathered it, quit his former Boat, and took the Ship and Boat to Leith, and there Landed after great Danger; one of the Boats in the King's Presence being over-set, or turned over, perished with the King's Plate, and near 20 Persons, of which number were one Lewis Somervell and Alexander Naper, who had the charge of the Silver Plate and Vessels, and 3 Persons were saved sitting upon the Keile coming in to Shoar upmost.



6. Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, of the Reign of Charles I

    Edited by John Bruce, William Douglas Hamilton, Mrs. Sophia Crawford Lomas.

    https://books.google.co.uk/     NB: searched under July 11 Edinburgh.







7. Traquair House

    Extract from replies to Burghs' objections to May Island Lighthouse Committee 1636 (quoted in 'A King’s Treasure Lost' by Howard J. Murray):

    '….the casting away in 1633 of above 50 of his Majesty’s domestics with 100,000 l. [100,000 pounds] in goods, through negligence.' 


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