Burns Night

Scottish poet Robert Burns was born on the 25th of January, 1759.

The date is celebrated in Scotland and by the Scottish diaspora as Burns Night.

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On this day: the first assassination by a firearm

James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray. 1561.

A detail of a 1561 painting of the Regent.

The first recorded assassination by firearm happened in Scotland on the 23rd of January, 1570. James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray and Regent of Scotland was killed at Linlithgow Palace.

Miles Birket Foster painting Linlithgow Palace Victorian era

Miles Birket Foster’s 19th century painting of Linlithgow Palace

The assassin was James Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, a supporter of Mary, Queen of Scots.

James Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh and Woodhouselee (died 1581) was a Scottish supporter of Mary, Queen of Scots, who assassinated James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray, Regent of Scotland, in January 1570.

A nineteenth century depiction of the killing.

Some accounts of the execution were recorded centuries after it happened, making some facts a little bit unclear.

One version states that Lady Mondegreen was killed by a second shot, but this is a myth.

On this day: the last execution for blasphemy in Britain

On the 8th of January, 1697, Scottish student Thomas Aikenhead was hanged for blasphemy. He was the last person in Britain to be executed for the crime, and was eighteen at the time.

An old print illustrating the gallows in Edinburgh in the Grassmarket.

The gallows at Grassmarket in Edinburgh.

Aikenhead was put on trial in Edinburgh and found guilty in December the year before. He was hanged at 2pm.

This final execution for blasphemy came 85 years after the final person was burnt for heresy.

On this day: the Tay Bridge Disaster

Catastrophe_du_pont_sur_le_Tay_-_1879_-_IllustrationContemporary illustration of the search after the disaster.

At 7:13pm on the 28th of December, 1879, the Tay Rail Bridge in Scotland collapsed as a train passed over it.

Photograph of fallen girders after collapse of part of the first Tay Bridge. 1879 or 1880.

The collapsed bridge, photographed in either 1879 or 1880.

Everyone on board was killed. Only forty-six bodies were recovered, but judging by tickets sold for the journey, over seventy are thought to have died.

Original_Tay_Bridge_before_the_1879_collapseOriginal Tay Bridge before the collapse, seen from the north eith 1878 or 1879.

The bridge photographed shortly before the disaster.

The weather had been terrible at the time, and as the train proceeded onto the bridge there was a bright flash of light before the train disappeared, falling into the river below. The signalman at the other end did not comprehend what had happened and at first refused to believe the train had crashed.

North British Railway locomotive 224, recovered from the water after the Tay Bridge disaster. Originally issued as a postcard captioned Old Tay Bridge Disaster, 1879 The Engine. 1880.

The locomotive was retrieved from the river and put back into use. It is photographed above in 1880.

On this day: Mary, Queen of Scots married.

Mary, Queen of Scots married her second husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley at Holyrood Abbey on the 29th of July 1565. The marriage was not a happy one, and Darnley was murdered in February 1567. He was twenty-one when he died.

Mary, Queen of Scots, and her second husband Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, parents of King James VI of Scotland, later King James I of England.