This Day in May


Painting showing all the Ministers who left Church of Scotland to form the Free Church of Scotland.
May 18 1843.

Here is a snapshot of historical events which took place in the month of May, with links to pages with further information, where available on the Web.

May 1
Beltane's Day - ancient fire festival celebrating start of summer.

May 1 1522
England declared war on both Scotland and France.

May 1 1690
Battle of Cromdale, Jacobites defeated by government troops.

May 1 1707
Act of Union of English and Scottish parliaments proclaimed.

May 1 1873
Missionary and explorer David Livingstone died.

May 1 1966
First civil aircraft (a Handley-Page Herald which had left Renfrew airport six minutes earlier) landed at Glasgow airport at Abbotsinch, formerly HMS Sanderling, a Royal Naval Air Station.

May 2 1316
Edward Bruce, brother of King Robert the Bruce, crowned High King of All Ireland.

May 2 1424
King James I crowned at Scone.

May 2 1568
Mary Queen of Scots escaped from Loch Leven castle.

May 2 1901
Glasgow International Exhibition in Kelvingrove opened.

May 2 1933
The story of the Loch Ness Monster first appeared in the press, starting off a long-running debate on whether or not some unknown animal or fish inhabits the murky depths of the loch.

May 2 1959
The first nuclear power station in Scotland, at Chapelcross, opened.

May 2 1963
Rootes car factory opens at Linwood, making the Hillman Imp.

May 3 1557
John Knox began the Reformation in Scotland.

May 3 1926
General Strike began at midnight, the first in British history. It lasted until 12 May.

May 4 1645
Marquis of Montrose victorious at Battle of Auldearn.

May 4 1658
General George Monk proclaimed the Protectorate at Mercat Cross.

May 4 1949
Twelve girls died in a fire at Grafton's fashion store in Glasgow.

May 5 1646
King Charles I surrenders to Lord Leven and was later passed to the Parliamentary forces.

May 5 1758
James Taylor who developed the steamboat was born.

May 5 1975
The "Scottish Daily News", the first workers' co-operative national newspaper was published.

May 6 1870
Sir James Young Simpson advocate of chloroform, died.

May 6 1941
Last major bombing attack on the Clyde area by the Luftwaffe; Greenock was badly hit with 280 dead.

May 6 1959
Icelandic gunboats fired live rounds at British fishing trawlers, many of them from Scottish ports, during the "Cod War" over fishing rights.

May 6 1999
Election for the new Scottish Parliament. Results were Labour 56, SNP 35, Conservatives 18, Liberal Democrats 16, Greens 1, Scottish Socialists 1, Independent 1.

May 7 1544
Earl of Hereford invaded Scotland on behalf of Henry VIII in an attempt to force the Scots to agree to the marriage of Mary to Henry's son, Edward. This is known as the "Rough Wooing".

May 7 1890
James Naysmith, engineer and inventor of steam hammer, died

May 7 1906
Historian Henry Gray Graham, author of "Social Life of Scotland in the 18th Century" died.

May 8 1945
Victory-in-Europe Day, end of World War II in Europe.

May 8 1701
Scottish-born pirate "Captain" William Kidd tried for piracy at London's Old Bailey. He was hanged on 23 May.

May 9 1943
Viscount Cunningham, British admiral and C in C in the Mediterranean, issued his command "Sink, burn and destroy; let nothing pass".

May 9 1860
J M Barrie, author of "Peter Pan" born

May 9 1918
John MacLean, socialist revolutionary, first Soviet Consul in Britain in 1917, honorary president of the first Congress of Soviets, tried in the High Court for sedition.

May 9 1957
A spectacular blaze at Bell's Brae, Edinburgh, destroyed the premises of one of Britain's largest theatrical costumiers; around 90,000 costumes were lost.

May 10 1307
Battle of Loudon Hill, near Darvel. King Robert I comprehensively defeated English forces under de Valence.

May 10 1809
Andrew Bell, co-founder of Encyclopaedia Britannica with Colin MacFarquhar, died.

May 10 1810
Rev Henry Duncan opened the world's first savings bank in Ruthwell, near Dumfries.

May 10 1850
Sir Thomas Lipton, founder of the Lipton's grocery chain who was a millionaire by the age of 30, was born in Glasgow.

May 10 1941
Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy, descended by parachute into Scotland at Eaglesham.

May 10 1967
Breath tests for motorists suspected of drinking and driving introduced under the Road Safety Act.

May 12 563
Community of Iona founded by Colum Cille (St Columba) from Ireland.

May 12 1725
The Black Watch regiment was commissioned under General Wade to police the Highlands.

May 12 1937
Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth took place at Westminster Abbey.

May 12 1994
Rt Hon John Smith, leader of the Labour Party died.

May 13 1568
Mary, Queen of Scots, defeated at Battle of Langside.

May 13 1995
Alison Hargreave, a 33-year-old mother of two from Spean Bridge became the first woman to climb Mount Everest solo and without oxygen. She died three years later while descending K2, the world's second-highest mountain.

May 13 1999
Donald Dewar elected as First Minister of the new Scottish Parliament.

May 14 1752
Colin Campbell of Glenure, known as the "Red Fox", and a notorious presecutor of Jacobites after Culloden, was shot in Appin. Alan Breck (later made famous in Robert Louis Stevenson's "Kidnapped" and "Catriona") was accused (though no evidence was ever put forward) and fled to France. James Stewart (a friend of Red Fox) was arrested and was found guilty, despite a lack evidence, by a jury in Inveraray, presided over by the Duke of Argyll.

May 14 1754
St Andrews Society of Golfers constituted. In 1834 it became the Royal and Ancient Golf Club.

May 14 1771
Industrialist and social reformer Robert Owen born.

May 15 1567
Mary, Queen of Scots, married Earl of Bothwell at 4am.

May 15 1800
King George III escaped two assassination attempts in one day. In Hyde Park, London, a bullet intended for him hit a man standing alongside. Later, at the Drury Lane Theatre, two bullets missed him and hit the wooden panel behind him. His assailant was found to be insane.

May 15 1887
Poet and critic Edwin Muir born.

May 16 1568
Mary Queen of Scots sailed from Port Mary across the Solway Firth to exile in England.

May 16 1763
Biographer James Boswell met Samuel Johnson for the first time.

May 16 1791
James Boswell's "Life of Johnson" published.

May 16 1975
Local Government (Scotland) Act (1974) came into force and the 33 counties and four city councils were replaced by nine regional, 53 district and three islands councils.

May 16 1990
British Steel announced the closure of the hot strip mill at Ravenscraig with the loss of 770 jobs.

May 17 1532
King James V established paid judges to sit as the Court of Session, the highest civil court in Scotland.

May 17 1870
David Octavius Hill, painter and pioneer photographer, died.

May 17 1938
The Marquess of Bute sold half of the city of Cardiff for £20 million, at that time the biggest-ever British property deal.

May 18 1313
Robert the Bruce invades Isle of Man.

May 18 1843
Break up of Church of Scotland and formation of Free Church of Scotland.

May 18 1939
Cosmo cinema in Rose Street, Glasgow opened its doors for the first time. Now the Glasgow Film Theatre, it is now the oldest active cinema in the city.

May 18 1960
Real Madrid beat Eintracht-Frankfurt 7-3 at Hampden Park, Glasgow, to win the European Cup for the 5th year in succession.

May 19 1795
Death in Auchinleck of James Boswell, biographer of Dr Johnston.

May 20 685
Battle of Dunnichen (also known as Nechtansmere), south of Forfar in Angus, as a result of which the Picts stopped the advance northwards of the Angles of Northumbria.

May 20 1303
France and England make peace, releasing forces to attack Scotland.

May 20 1747
Edinburgh-born James Lind began a controlled experiment which demonstrated that citrus fruits could prevent scurvy, a disease contracted by sailors on long voyages. The lime juice which eventually became standard issue to British sailors gave rise to the term "limey" as a name for British overseas.

May 21 1650
James Graham, Marquis of Montrose, executed at Mercat Cross, Edinburgh.

May 21 1916
Clocks and watches went forward for one hour as the Daylight Savings Act brought in "British Summer Time" for the first time.

May 21 1983
TSB Bank Scotland (now Lloyds TSB Scotland) formed.

May 22 1611
King James VI introduced the title "baronet" for the first time. This is the lowest hereditary titled order.

May 22 1859
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes, born of Irish parents in Edinburgh.

May 22 1915
Britain's worst train disaster at Quintinshill (near Gretna Green) in which three trains collided, with the loss of 227 lives. A troop train carrying the Seventh Royal Scots Regiment hit a stationary train and the night express from London then hit the wreckage. Two signalmen were later jailed.

May 23 1867
Archibald Alison, historian, died.

May 24 1153
King David I died at Carlisle and Malcolm IV crowned at Scone.

May 24 1819
The future Queen Victoria was born.

May 24 1852
Robert Cunningham Graham born. Son of a Scottish laird, he organised the Scottish Labour Party with Kier Hardie, wrote over 30 travel books and was elected first president of the Scottish National Party.

May 24 1916
Conscription to the armed forces began for the first time.

May 24 1928
Actor and comedian Stanley Baxter born.

May 24 1972
Rangers win the European Cup Winners' Cup in Barcelona.

May 25 1726
First circulating library opened in Edinburgh.

May 25 1713
John Stuart, Earl of Bute, Britain's first Scottish Prime Minister, born.

May 25 1909
Oscar Slater found guilty of murder.

May 25 1967
Celtic Football Club won European Cup.

May 25 1971
Invergordon aluminium works starts production.

May 26 1424
The parliament convened by King James I approved the arrest of a number of the Scottish nobility - and also banned the playing of football.

May 26 1909
Birth of football player, coach and manager Sir Matt Busby . He was manager of Manchester United Football Club 1945-69, winner of European Cup 1968.

May 26 1914
Actor Archie Duncan (known for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes) born Glasgow.

May 26 1950
Petrol rationing, introduced during WW2, was ended.

May 26 1995
In the opening game of their Rugby World Cup programme, Scotland defeated Ivory Coast 89-0. Skipper Gavin Hastings scored a world record 44 points.

May 27 1936
Maiden voyage of liner Queen Mary.

May 28 1503
Papal Bull signed by Pope Alexander VI confirming the marriage of King James IV and Margaret Tudor and the "Treaty of Everlasting Peace" between Scotland and England.

May 28 1841
Seven church ministers of the Presbytery of Strathbogie were removed from their posts by the General assembly of the Church of Scotland for obeying civil rather than ecclesiastical law.

May 28 1887
73 miners were killed in a firedamp explosion at Udston Colliery, Lanarkshire.

May 28 1905
Construction of the King's Theatre in Edinburgh commences.

May 28 1937
National Government formed under the leadership of Neville Chamberlain.

May 29 1630
King Charles II born.

May 29 1660
King Charles II returned to England. Royal Oak Day.

May 29 1687
Order of the Thistle founded by King James VII.

May 30 1291
Claimants to the Scottish throne met King Edward I of England at Norham on Tweed to resolve succession.

May 30 1546
David Beaton, Archbishop of St Andrews, assassinated.

May 30 1847
Death of Thomas Chalmers, first Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland.

May 31 1367
King Robert III married Annabel Drummond.

May 31 1727
The Royal Bank of Scotland was formed from a company of debenture holders.

May 31 1962
Gaumont cinema in Edinburgh destroyed by fire.

Return to Timeline Index

Where else would you like to go in Scotland?

Separator line