The Ayr Manuscript
This manuscript, of the age of Robert I (1306-1329), appears to have belonged, in the fifteenth century, to the Burgh of Ayr, or perhaps to the Clerk of the Council or Guildry of that burgh – read more about the manuscript below.
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Notes adapted from the introduction to volume 1 of The Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, edd C Innes and T Thomson, at pp 179-181.
This manuscript, of the age of Robert I (1306-1329), appears to have belonged, in the fifteenth century, to the Burgh of Ayr, or perhaps to the Clerk of the Council or Guildry of that burgh. Of its latter history nothing is known. It was purchased at a book-stall in Ayr, in the year 1824, by Mr Ebenezer Thomson, one of the masters in the Ayr Academy, from whom it was acquired for the General Register House (now the National Archives of Scotland) at Edinburgh.
It is an octavo volume, still in old oak boards, containing 83 leaves of vellum, 8 inches high by 51/2 inches wide, written, with the exception of some manifest interpolations, in a fine and uniform hand, of the early half of the 14th century, with red initial letters and titles. The volume, in its original shape, has consisted of six quires or fasciculi, each numbered on the outer leaf; of which markings five still remain. The first quire (fol 9-19) contains only nine leaves, one having been cut away; the second (fol 20-29) ten; the third and fourth, each sixteen (fol 30-61); the fifth ten, and the sixth (fol 62-83) of which the outer leaf probably containing the number, is gone, now consists of twelve.
Besides the appearance of the writing, several circumstances tend to fix the era of this manuscript:- The statutes of Robert I are given simply as ‘statuta facta per Regem Robertum’, without the distinction of “primum” or ‘de Brus’, as usually occurs after the accession of another Robert had rendered it necessary to distinguish the sovereigns. Numerous chapters of statutes and customs, which the writer clearly ascribes to the reign of David I, are entitled “Assise Regis David” without other distinction, which must probably have been used, if, in the
writer’s time, two kings of that name had been known.
No later sovereign is alluded to, and no laws or customs known to be later than the reign of Robert I are given. The weight of the currency, as stated in the ‘Assise de ponderibus’ and in those for regulating the weight of bread, corresponds exactly with the state of the money in the reign of Robert I. There is no mention of the compilations called ‘Regiam Majestatem’ and ‘Quoniam Attachiamenta’, except in one or two marginal notes, in a hand later by a century than that of the writer of the text; evidence of a negative kind that these works were first compiled in the latter part of the reign of Robert I, or even later.