Ratification of an act of secret council in favour of [Master George Lauder], laird of the Bass

2Forasmuch as our sovereign lord, with advice of the lords of his highness's secret council, by special act and ordinance thereof, made upon 21 January 1583 [1584], understanding how profitable the gannets and other fowls which frequent, repair and make nests within the Isle of Bass yearly are to the common welfare of this realm and whole lieges of the same, and how hurtful the slaying and destroying thereof is to the whole subjects of this realm, made and constituted Master George Lauder of the Bass, his heirs and assignees and successor lairds of the Bass, his highness's commissioners, to take and apprehend all and whatsoever person or persons who happen to slay any of the said geese or other kind of fowls and birds, and to administer justice upon them according to the law, likewise at more length is contained in the said act of secret council of the date foresaid; which act, our said sovereign lord, with express advice and consent of the estates of this present parliament, ratify and approve in all points, clauses, articles and conditions therein contained after the form and tenor of the same in all points; and decree and ordain the same to be inserted herein as an act made in this present parliament, and the same to stand as a perpetual law, statute and ordinance, and to be put to due execution against the contraveners thereof in all points perpetually in all time coming, of the which act the tenor follows:

At Holyroodhouse, 21 January 1583 [1584]. Forasmuch as the king's majesty and lords of secret council, understanding that by the special benefit and provision of God the gannets and other profitable fowl that frequent and repair in the Isle of the Bass and have their nests and nutriment therein and bring forth yearly their birds and fowl in great quantity and number, and almost in no other part of this realm, to the great well and commodity of the whole subjects of this realm dwelling next adjacent thereto, so that reason, good order and policy requires that the benefit which God has placed in a realm for the welfare of the whole inhabitants thereof, should not by certain private and envious persons be impeded and destroyed, as in actual fact the inhabitants of the countries of Fife and Angus and other parts of the north lying adjacent to the sea coast, as also the seamen of Fisherrow, Acheson's Haven salt-pans, North Berwick, Dunbar, Skateraw, Eyemouth and other sea towns on the south side of Forth, ceases not presently, likewise they have not ceased these diverse years bygone to slay and destroy the said gannets by casting of nets and hooks with bait and barbs to draw and lure the old gannets to the boats wherein the said persons and mariners are, and then to take and slay the said gannets for no other benefit or commodity of them but for their feathers only, for the said gannets when they depart from the said isle, as they do continually once in the year, are old and lean, unable for any man's meat, as also when they return once in the year home again to the said isle are unable to the nourishment of any person, and so the said old gannets being so yearly slain and destroyed as said is, they are made unable to hatch young birds and geese apt for the nutriment of the subjects of this realm, and will not desist and cease therefrom unless his highness and his council put remedy thereto; for which his majesty, with advice of the said lords of his secret council, for staunching of the like wrong in time coming, has ordained and ordains all skippers and mariners of ships or boats and other persons whatsoever users of such means, engine and invention for destroying and slaying of the said fowl and gannets, to be called and convened before the bailies of Dunbar, or other judges to be deputed by Master George Lauder of the Bass, and his successor lairds of the Bass, which judges the said lords, by this ratification, give them power to make and depute as often as need be, for whom they shall be held to answer, to sit and hold courts within Edinburgh, Dunbar or any other town or place, for taking examination in the said cause, and to call and convene the said persons before the said judges. And if they be found culpable of the said crimes, to discern the contraveners, the fault being proven by reputable witnesses, each one of them in the pain of £20 as often as is necessary, the one half thereof to be employed to his majesty, and payment thereof to his majesty's treasurer in his name to make, and the other half to the said Master George and his successors to apply. And in case the persons whom shall happen to be convened as said is be unable and unwilling to pay the said pecuniary pains, to decree that their persons are to be warded within the place of the Bass or any other part where the said Master George or his said successors shall please, during the space of one year thereafter, upon their own expenses, with full power and commission to the said judges to direct precepts in their own names for calling and convening of the said persons before them, and poinding of the goods and gear of the contraveners for the foresaid sum, as also for summoning of witnesses, each person under the pain of £10, the absents to amerce, adjudge and fine in the said sum; and for the same by their own precepts likewise to poind and distrenzie to be applied as is above-mentioned, clerks, servants, dempsters and all other officers and members of court needful to make, create, substitute and ordain; for which the said laird of the Bass shall be held to answer, and generally all and sundry other things to do, exercise and use, which in the premises and for the execution thereof is necessarily required to be done, firm and stable holding and for to hold all and whatsoever things the said judges shall lawfully do herein, decreeing, ordaining and declaring, by this ratification, that the decreets to be given and pronounced by the said judges shall have the like strength, force and effect for poinding of the goods and gear of the contraveners of this ratification as the decreet of any other judge within this realm. And that letters be directed for intimation and publication hereof by open proclamation at the market crosses of Dundee, Arbroath, Montrose, St Andrews, Crail, Anstruther, Pittenweem, St Monans, Wemyss, Dysart, Kirkcaldy, Kinghorn, Burntisland, Aberdour, Inverkeithing and other sea towns on the north side of Forth, as also in the towns and harbours of South [Queens]ferry, Cramond, Leith, Fisherrow, Salt Pans of Preston, North Berwick, Dunbar, Skateraw, Eyemouth and other places needful, through which none pretend ignorance of the same, and to command and charge all our sovereign lord's lieges to concur, fortify and assist the said judges in the execution of the premises, and to do nor attempt nothing to their hindrance as they, and each one of them, will answer to his majesty upon their obedience and at their utmost charge and peril. Extracted from the books of acts of the privy council of our supreme lord and king etc.

  1. NAS, PA2/14, ff.62r-63r.
  2. Written in margin: 'P'.