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Thistle II SP-1068 - History

Thistle II SP-1068 - History

Thistle II

(SP-1068: dp. 41 (gross); 1. 70'; b. 12'; dr. 4'0"
(aft); s. 13 mph.; cpl. 9; a. 1 3-pdr., 1 1-pdr.)

The second Thistle (SP-1068)—a wooden-hulled motor boat built in 1907 at Morris Heights, N.Y., by the New York Yacht, Launch & Engine Co.—was acquired by the Navy on free lease from Mr. William Emmerich of New York City on 17 August 1917 and was placed in commission on 26 December 1917. Thistle served in the 3d Naval District making patrols of the coast and harbors between New London, Conn., and Barnegat, N.J. However, during her brief service—less than a year—she proved unsuited for the mission required of her, and the Commandant, 3d Naval District, ordered her returned to her owner on 6 July 1918.

Ferguson Clan

Ferguson Clan Crest: Upon a chapeau, a bee on a thistle.

Ferguson Clan Motto: Dulcius Ex Asperis (Sweeter after difficulties).

Ferguson Clan History:
The Fergussons first appear in Kintyre, and Kilkerran, the name of the Clan Seat in Ayrshire, derives from St Ciaran, one of the twelve apostles of Ireland who landed at Dalruadhain in the 6th century. The Fergussons in Argyllshire claim descent from Fergus Mor mac Erc, King of Scots c.500. The Fergussons of Kilkerran in Ayrshire descend from Fergus, Lord of Galloway in the reigns of David I and Malcolm IV. The Fergussons of Craigdarroch in Dumfriesshire have a recorded history that dates from a Charter from David II in the 14th century.

By the 13th century, the name was widespread throughout the South West of Scotland. Sir John Fergusson of Kilkerran fought for the Royalist cause during the Civil War in the 17th century and his estates fell heavily into debt. His grandson, also Sir John, restored the family fortunes by becoming a successful lawyer, and his son, James, became a Judge of the Supreme Court, taking the legal honorarium of Lord Kilkerran.

The Fergussons of Dunfallandy, near Pitlochry in Perthshire, were Jacobite supporters who took part in both the 1715 and 1745 Uprisings. Other branches of the family include the Fergussons of Pitfour, one of whom became a High Court Judge in 1763. Ronald Fergusson of Raith, near Kirkcaldy in Fife, was Member of Parliament for Leith Burghs from 1886 to 1914, when he was appointed Governor General of Australia.

The poet Robert Fergusson (1750-74) was much admired by his near contemporary Robert Burns, who erected a monument to his memory in the Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh. Adam Ferguson (1723-1816) was Chaplain to the Black Watch and became Keeper of the Advocates Library in Edinburgh while writing extensively. Patrick Ferguson (1744-80) was inventor of the breach-loading rifle. Sir James Fergusson (1832-1907) was Governor General of South Australia from 1868-72 of New Zealand from 1872-4, and of Bombay, 1880-85. J.D. Fergusson (1874-1961) was a noted painter, based in Glasgow. Sir Bernard Fergusson, 1st Lord Ballantrae (1911 - 1980) was Governor General of New Zealand, 1962-67.

Places of Interest:
Kilkerran House, Maybole, Ayrshire. Seat of Chief of Clan Fergusson. Dundrennan Abbey, Kirkcudbright. established in 1142 by Fergus of Galloway. Today a ruin, it is maintained by Historic Scotland.

Surname distribution throughout Scotland: The Ferguson name is most common in the Hebrides, Ayrshire, Stirlingshire Glasgow City, Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, Lanarkshire and Perth and Kinross.

Associated family names (Septs): Fergus, Fergie, Ferries, Fergusson, Forgie, Keddie, Kiddie, MacAdie, MacFergus, MacKeddie, MacKerras, MacKersey.

Food Rationing in Wartime America

World War I
Following nearly three years of intense combat since the onset of World War I, America’s allies in Europe were facing starvation. Farms had either been transformed into battlefields or had been left to languish as agricultural workers were forced into warfare, and disruptions in transportation made the distribution of imported food extremely challenging. On August 10, 1917, shortly after the United States entered the war, the U.S. Food Administration was established to manage the wartime supply, conservation, distribution and transportation of food. Appointed head of the administration by President Woodrow Wilson, future-President Herbert Hoover developed a voluntary program that relied on Americans’ compassion and sense of patriotism to support the larger war effort.

In order to provide U.S. troops and allies with the sustenance required to maintain their strength and vitality, posters urging citizens to reduce their personal consumption of meat, wheat, fats and sugar were plastered throughout communities. Slogans such as 𠇏ood will win the war” compelled people to avoid wasting precious groceries and encouraged them to eat a multitude of fresh fruits and vegetables, which were too difficult to transport overseas. Likewise, promotions such as “Meatless Tuesdays” and “Wheatless Wednesdays” implored Americans to voluntarily modify their eating habits in order to increase shipments to the valiant soldiers defending our freedom.

To help families prepare meals without these former staples, local food boards were established to offer guidance, canning demonstrations and recipes with suitable replacements for the provisions that had become so limited. As a result of these conservation efforts, food shipments to Europe were doubled within a year, while consumption in America was reduced 15 percent between 1918 and 1919. Even after the war had ended, Hoover continued to organize shipments of food to the millions of people starving in central Europe as head of the American Relief Administration, earning him the nickname the “Great Humanitarian.”

World War II
Soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and America’s subsequent entrance into World War II, it became apparent that voluntary conservation on the home front was not going to suffice this time around. Restrictions on imported foods, limitations on the transportation of goods due to a shortage of rubber tires, and a diversion of agricultural harvests to soldiers overseas all contributed to the U.S. government’s decision to ration certain essential items. On January 30, 1942, the Emergency Price Control Act granted the Office of Price Administration (OPA) the authority to set price limits and ration food and other commodities in order to discourage hoarding and ensure the equitable distribution of scarce resources. By the spring, Americans were unable to purchase sugar without government-issued food coupons. Vouchers for coffee were introduced in November, and by March of 1943, meat, cheese, fats, canned fish, canned milk and other processed foods were added to the list of rationed provisions.

Every American was entitled to a series of war ration books filled with stamps that could be used to buy restricted items (along with payment), and within weeks of the first issuance, more than 91 percent of the U.S. population had registered to receive them. The OPA allotted a certain amount of points to each food item based on its availability, and customers were allowed to use 48 𠆋lue points’ to buy canned, bottled or dried foods, and 64 ‘red points’ to buy meat, fish and dairy each month—that is, if the items were in stock at the market. Due to changes in the supply and demand of various goods, the OPA periodically adjusted point values, which often further complicated an already complex system that required home cooks to plan well in advance to prepare meals.

Despite the fact that ration books were explicitly intended for the sole use by the named recipient, a barter system developed whereby people traded one type of stamp for another, and black markets began cropping up all over the country in which forged ration stamps or stolen items were illegally resold. By the end of the war, restrictions on processed foods and other goods like gasoline and fuel oil were lifted, but the rationing of sugar remained in effect until 1947.

Want to try out a ration recipe on your own?


Adapted from the “Sweets Without Sugar” pamphlet distributed by the Federal Food Board of New York in 1918.

Start to finish: Approximately 1 hour
Servings: 10

5 medium apples
1 ¼ cups bread crumbs
4 tablespoons of melted butter or cooking fat
¼ cup hot water
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
5 tablespoons dark corn syrup
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Grease a glass or ceramic baking dish and preheat oven to 350° F.

Pare the apples and cut them into thin slices. Toss the bread crumbs with the melted fat in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the hot water, lemon juice, corn syrup, salt and cinnamon together.

Distribute a third of the bread crumb mixture into the bottom of the greased dish and top with half of the sliced apples and half of the liquid. Repeat with another layer of bread crumbs, apples and liquid and top with the remaining bread crumbs. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

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The Fascinating, Regal History Behind Britain’s Swans

Queen of the United Kingdom Head of the Commonwealth Defender of the Faith Commander in Chief of the British Armed Forces Sovereign of the Most Noble Order of the Garter Sovereign of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle all titles held by Elizabeth II. Not included in this illustrious list is one of her lesser-used ones, the Seigneur of the Swans, a holdover from an era centuries ago when the (literally) regal avians denoted class, wealth and status. The strange and ancient relationship between the swan and the British crown manifests itself to this day in a tradition known as “Swan Upping.”

Some 40 miles west of London, the Queen’s Swan Uppers arrive at Mapledurham Lock on the River Thames. They’re traveling in traditional wooden rowing skiffs, each with three or four crewmen in smart blue or red blazers with royal insignia. Some have white swan feathers pushed into the peak of their caps. Royal pennants showing swans against blue and red backgrounds flutter from the boats. 

(Emily Cleaver)

The blue flags represent two of London’s ancient trade guilds, the Worshipful Companies of Dyers and Vintners. The guilds are some of the richest and most powerful organizations in London, and since at least the 15th century have been granted the right to own mute swans on the Thames.  (Mute swans have the elegantly curved necks, orange beaks and white feathers that most people think of when they picture swans.) The red flags are for the Queen’s Swan Warden, the man charged with counting all the mute swans on the Thames between Sunbury Lock in West London and Abingdon in Oxfordshire, a㻏-mile stretch of river that takes five days to navigate.

The traditional cry of: “All up!” goes up from one of the skiffs a female swan and her cygnets (baby swans) have been spotted gliding over the water. The boats maneuver to corral the birds towards the bank where Uppers, as the crew is known, jump out and grab them, restraining the adult’s powerful legs behind her so she can be examined.  The birds are counted, weighed and checked for injury and ownership marks. The Dyers and Vintners companies use rings to mark their birds, while the Crown’s swans are unmarked. Today, the practice serves as a conservation tool to track swan populations and the health of the Thames, but once upon a time it was the way in which the crown exerted its control over the swan population on the river.

Swans—who owns them, who breeds them and who eats them—is an issue for the British that has generated legal statutes, sparked courtroom battles and engaged town councils in bitter arguments since the Middle Ages. 

There is a legend that the mute swan was introduced to Britain by Richard I in the 12th century, who brought them back from his campaigns during the Crusades. Today, ornithologists believe the bird is probably native to the country, with archaeological evidence for the presence of swans dating back as far back as the late glacial period, 10,000 years ago.

Since ancient times, swans have been associated with tranquility and nobility, featuring in myths and stories around the world. Their high status is likely to have come about because of their perceived beauty and natural behavior they are solitary birds, strong and aggressively protective of their young but at the same time graceful and elegant on the water.

(Peter M CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Ask a local in a British pub about swans and you might well be told that the Queen owns all the swans in the country and that only she is allowed to eat them. This popular misconception, often repeated as common knowledge in the U.K., has a kernel of historical truth that tells the story of the swan as status symbol in Medieval England. 

Swans were luxury goods in Europe from at least the 12th century onward the Medieval equivalent of flashing a Rolex or driving a Lamborghini. Owning swans signaled nobility, along with flying a hawk, running hounds or riding a battle-trained destrier. Swans were eaten as a special dish at feasts, served as a centerpiece in their skin and feathers with a lump of blazing incense in the beak. They were particularly associated with Christmas, when they would be served in large numbers at royal feasts forty swans were ordered for Henry III’s Christmas celebrations in 1247 at Winchester, for example.

In 1496 the Secretary to the Venetian Ambassador wrote that it was “a truly beautiful thing to behold one or two thousand tame swans upon the River Thames”. A century later, during reign of Elizabeth I, German lawyer and travel writer Paul Hentzner described colonies of swans living “in great security, nobody daring to molest, much less kill, any of them, under penalty of a large fine.”

To protect swans as an exclusive commodity, in 1482 the crown ordained that only landowners of a certain income could keep the birds.  Ownership of swans was recorded by a code of marks nicked into the beak of the bird an intricate system of these ‘swan marks’ developed.  Only those who owned the right to use an official swan mark could own swans, and marks were restricted and expensive to purchase. Any swans that didn’t bear a mark were automatically the property of the crown. This effectively meant that only the monarch, wealthy landowners and some large institutions like trade guilds, cathedrals and universities could afford swan ownership.

Roll showing private swan marks, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire (The National Archives)

Local councils appointed swan collectors to round up wild swans to add to official flocks (the local equivalent of the royal ‘upping’) and held ‘Swanmoots’, specially convened swan courts that heard cases related to swan ownership. The penalties for ignoring or defacing swan marks were harsh. In�, the Order of Swannes, a legal document setting out the rules relating to the birds, recorded that “if any person do raze out, counterfeit or alter the mark of any swan [they …] shall suffer one year’s imprisonment.” There were similar tough sentences for stealing eggs or killing adult birds. 

The prestige of swan ownership went far beyond their appeal as a delicacy. They were impressive enough as the centerpiece of a feast, but a swan in itself was not particularly expensive. The real desirability came from the right to own swans at all, because purchasing a swan mark was so expensive. To have a “game” of swans elegantly sculling around the lake of your stately pile required funds and status.

The rules relating to swans prevented ordinary people from interacting with them at all, beyond being able to see them on the river. If you weren’t an officially recognized swan keeper it was forbidden to sell swans, to drive them away from your land, to mark them or even to hunt with dogs or lay nets and traps on the river at certain times of year in case swans were injured.

The right to own swans was granted to the Vintners and Dyers city livery companies in the 15th century. The exact reason for the dispensation has not been recorded, but it is likely to have been a sweetener to strengthen relationships between the crown and the powerful trade guilds.

Swan remained a delicacy eaten as part of Christmas celebrations right up until the 18th century, but even after that, it was still only legal to kill and eat a swan if it had a legitimate swan mark. As such, it remained a luxury for the rich. During the Victorian period, swan fell out of fashion as a dish, and by the 20th century was rarely eaten.

"Swan Upping on the Thames", from Henry Robert Robertson's Life on the Upper Thames, 1875. (Public Domain)

It took until 1998 for the law to change so it was no longer treasonous to eat a swan in the U.K. But as a native species, mute swans are now protected as wild birds under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act and under this law it is still illegal to keep or kill them.

For several decades swans were under threat from river pollution, dog attacks and increasing populations of predators like red kite and mink. From a population on the Thames of around 1,300 in the 1960s, numbers were down to just seven pairs of birds in 1985.  But conservation work such as bans on poisonous lead fishing weights and the clean up of the river Thames in recent years appears to be turning this decline around.

At Mapledurham Lock, waiting for the boats to continue their journey, the Queen’s Swan Marker David Barber says the count this year is positive.  “On the first day we counted 36 cygnets, and that’s double the amount on that day last year. Swan numbers are rising, and I put that down to the work we’re doing, talking to everyone from school children to fishing clubs to educate them about looking after swans.”

Although technically all unmarked swans on open water in the U.K. still belong to the crown, the Queen only exercises her swan ownership rights on this one stretch of the Thames. Likely, the reason is because historically only the swans near London were of practical use, and monitoring them is a labor-intensive activity.

The final count on the Thames this year came in at 134, a substantial increase on last year’s figure of 72. Swans still face threats from pollution, loss of riverside habitats and predators, but the signs are looking good that the population is returning to a healthy level, and that the birds will be a feature of the Thames for many more generations to come.

(Emily Cleaver)

John Knox was a Scottish priest who converted to Protestantism in the 1540s and fled into hiding and exile. In Geneva he befriended the French reformer John Calvin. On his return to Scotland he marched an army of followers into St Giles’ and preached there for the first time. The following week he was elected its minister and the building was stripped of its Catholic decoration.

The Scottish Parliament abolished papal authority in 1560 and decreed that Scotland was now a Protestant country. This was despite Scotland still having a Catholic queen, Mary Queen of Scots. St Giles’ 400 years as a Catholic church officially came to an end. Inside the building the stained-glass windows were removed and old church silver was melted down and sold to raise funds for redecoration. To read a more detailed account of the Reformation, click here.

Kings and Queens of Scotland

Kings and Queens of Scotland from 1005 to the Union of the Crowns in 1603, when James VI succeeded to the throne of England.

Celtic kings from the unification of Scotland

1005: Malcolm II (Mael Coluim II). He acquired the throne by killing Kenneth III (Cinaed III) of a rival royal dynasty. Attempted to expand his kingdom southwards with a notable victory at the Battle of Carham, Northumbria in 1018. He was driven north again in 1027 by Cnut, the Danish king of England. Malcolm died on 25th November 1034, according to one account of the time he was “killed fighting bandits”. Leaving no sons he named his grandson Duncan I, as his successor.

1034: Duncan I (Donnchad I). Succeeded his grandfather Malcolm II as King of the Scots. Invaded northern England and besieged Durham in 1039, but was met with a disastrous defeat. Duncan was killed during, or after, a battle at Bothganowan, near Elgin, on 15th August, 1040.

1040: Macbeth. Acquired the throne after defeating Duncan I in battle following years of family feuding. He was the first Scottish king to make a pilgrimage to Rome. A generous patron of the church it is thought he was buried at Iona, the traditional resting place of the kings of the Scots.

1057: Malcolm III Canmore (Mael Coluim III Cenn Mór). Succeeded to the throne after killing Macbeth and Macbeth’s stepson Lulach in an English-sponsored attack. William I (The Conqueror) invaded Scotland in 1072 and forced Malcolm to accept the Peace of Abernethy and become his vassal.

1093: Donald III Ban. Son of Duncan I he seized the throne from his brother Malcolm III and made the Anglo-Normans very unwelcome at his court. He was defeated and dethroned by his nephew Duncan II in May 1094

1094: Duncan II. Son of Malcolm III. In 1072 he had been sent to the court of William I as a hostage. With the help of an army supplied by William II (Rufus) he defeated his uncle Donald III Ban. His foreign supporters were detested. Donald engineered his murder on 12 November 1094.

1094: Donald III Ban (restored). In 1097 Donald was captured and blinded by another of his nephews, Edgar. A true Scottish nationalist, it is perhaps fitting that this would be the last king of the Scots who would be laid to rest by the Gaelic Monks at Iona.

1097: Edgar. Eldest son of Malcolm III. He had taken refuge in England when his parents died in 1093. Following the death of his half-brother Duncan II, he became the Anglo-Norman candidate for the Scottish throne. He defeated Donald III Ban with the aid of an army supplied by William II. Unmarried, he was buried at Dunfermline Priory in Fife. His sister married Henry I in 1100.

1107: Alexander I. The son of Malcolm III and his English wife St. Margaret. Succeeded his brother Edgar to the throne and continued the policy of ‘reforming’ the Scottish Church, building his new priory at Scone near Perth. He married the illegitimate daughter of Henry I. He died childless and was buried in Dunfermline.

1124: David I. The youngest son of Malcolm III and St. Margaret. A modernising king, responsible for transforming his kingdom largely by continuing the work of Anglicisation begun by his mother. He seems to have spent as much time in England as he did in Scotland. He was the first Scottish king to issue his own coins and he promoted the the development of towns at Edinburgh, Dunfermline, Perth, Stirling, Inverness and Aberdeen. By the end of his reign his lands extended over Newcastle and Carlisle. He was almost as rich and powerful as the king of England, and had attained an almost mythical status through a ‘Davidian’ revolution.

1153: Malcolm IV (Mael Coluim IV). Son of Henry of Northumbria. His grandfather David I persuaded the Scottish Chiefs to recognise Malcolm as his heir to the throne, and aged 12 he became king. Recognising ‘that the King of England had a better argument by reason of his much greater power’, Malcolm surrendered Cumbria and Northumbria to Henry II. He died unmarried and with reputation for chastity, hence his nickname ‘the Maiden’.

1165: William the Lion. Second son of Henry of Northumbria. After a failed attempt to invade Northumbria, William was captured by Henry II. In return for his release, William and other Scottish nobles had to swear allegiance to Henry and hand over sons as hostages. English garrisons were installed throughout Scotland. It was only in 1189 that William was able to recover Scottish independence in return for a payment of 10,000 marks. William’s reign witnessed the extension of royal authority northwards across the Moray Firth.

1214: Alexander II. Son of William the Lion. With the Anglo-Scottish agreement of 1217, he established a peace between the two kingdoms that would last for 80 years. The agreement was further cemented by his marriage to Henry III’s sister Joan in 1221. Renouncing his ancestral claim to Northumbria, the Anglo-Scottish border was finally established by the Tweed-Solway line.

1249: Alexander III. The son of Alexander II, he married Henry III’s daughter Margaret in 1251. Following the Battle of Largs against King Haakon of Norway in Oct. 1263, Alexander secured the western Highlands and Islands for the Scottish Crown. After the deaths of his sons, Alexander gained acceptance that his granddaughter Margaret should succeed him. He fell and was killed whilst riding along the cliffs of Kinghorn in Fife.

1286 – 90: Margaret, Maid of Norway. The only child of King Eric of Norway and Margaret, daughter of Alexander III. She became queen at the age of two, and was promptly betrothed to Edward, son of Edward I. She saw neither kingdom nor husband as she died aged 7 at Kirkwall on Orkney in September 1290. Her death caused the most serious crisis in Anglo-Scottish relations.

English domination

1292 – 96: John Balliol. Following the death of Margaret in 1290 no one person held the undisputed claim to be King of the Scots. No fewer than 13 ‘competitors’, or claimants eventually emerged. They agreed to recognise Edward I’s overlordship and to abide by his arbitration. Edward decided in favour of Balliol, who did have a strong claim with links back to William the Lion. Edward’s obvious manipulation of Balliol led the Scottish nobles to set up a Council of 12 in July 1295, as well as agreeing to an alliance with the King of France. Edward invaded, and after defeating Balliol at the Battle of Dunbar imprisoned him in the Tower of London. Balliol was eventually released into papal custody and ended his life in France.

1296 -1306: annexed to England

House of Bruce

1306: Robert I the Bruce. In 1306 at Greyfriars Church Dumfries, he murdered his only possible rival for the throne, John Comyn. He was excommunicated for this sacrilege, but was still crowned King of the Scots just a few months later.

Robert was defeated in his first two battles against the English and became a fugitive, hunted by both Comyn’s friends and the English. Whilst hiding in a room he is said to have watched a spider swing from one rafter to another, in an attempt to anchor it’s web. It failed six times, but at the seventh attempt, succeeded. Bruce took this to be an omen and resolved to struggle on. His decisive victory over Edward II‘s army at Bannockburn in 1314 finally won the freedom he had struggled for.

1329: David II. The only surviving legitimate son of Robert Bruce, he succeeded his father when only 5 years of age. He was the first Scottish king to be crowned and anointed. Whether he would be able to keep the crown was another matter, faced with the combined hostilities of John Balliol and the ‘Disinherited’, those Scottish landowners that Robert Bruce had disinherited following his victory at Bannockburn. David was for a while even sent to France for his own safe keeping. In support of his allegiance with France he invaded England in 1346, whilst Edward III was otherwise occupied with the siege of Calais. His army was intercepted by forces raised by the Archbishop of York. David was wounded and captured. He was later released after agreeing to pay a ransom of 1000,000 marks. David died unexpectedly and without an heir, while trying to divorce his second wife in order to marry his latest mistress.

House of Stuart (Stewart)

1371: Robert II. The son of Walter the Steward and Marjory, daughter of Robert Bruce. He was recognised the heir presumptive in 1318, but the birth of David II meant that he had to wait 50 years before he could become the first Stewart king at the age of 55. A poor and ineffective ruler with little interest in soldiering, he delegated responsibility for law and order to his sons. Meanwhile he resumed to his duties of producing heirs, fathering at least 21 children.

1390: Robert III. Upon succeeding to the throne he decided to take the name Robert rather than his given name John. As King, Robert III appears to have been as ineffective as his father Robert II. In 1406 he decided to send his eldest surviving son to France the boy was captured by the English and imprisoned in the Tower. Robert died the following month and, according to one source, asked to be buried in a midden (dunghill) as ‘the worst of kings and most wretched of men’.

1406: James I. After falling into English hands on his way to France in 1406, James was held a captive until 1424. Apparently his uncle, who also just happened to be Scotland’s governor, did little to negotiate his release. He was eventually released after agreeing to pay a 50,000 mark ransom. On his return to Scotland, he spent much of his time raising the money to pay off his ransom by imposing taxes, confiscating estates from nobles and clan chiefs. Needless to say, such actions made him few friends a group of conspirators broke into his bedchamber and murdered him.

1437: James II. Although king since the murder of his father when he was 7, it was following his marriage to Mary of Guelders that he actually assumed control. An aggressive and warlike king, he appears to have taken particular exception to the Livingstons and Black Douglases. Fascinated by those new fangled firearms, he was blown up and killed by one of his own siege guns whilst besieging Roxburgh.

1460: James III. At the tender age of 8, he was proclaimed king following the death of his father James II. Six years later he was kidnapped upon his return to power, he proclaimed his abductors, the Boyds, traitors. His attempt to make peace with the English by marrying his sister off to an English noble was somewhat scuppered when she was found to be already pregnant. He was killed at the Battle of Sauchieburn in Stirlingshire on 11 June 1488.

1488: James IV. The son of James III and Margaret of Denmark, he had grown up in the care of his mother at Stirling Castle. For his part in his father’s murder by the Scottish nobility at the Battle of Sauchieburn, he wore an iron belt next to skin as penitence for the rest of his life. To protect his borders he spent lavish sums on artillery and his navy. James led expeditions into the Highlands to assert royal authority and developed Edinburgh as his royal capital. He sought peace with England by marrying Henry VII’s daughter Margaret Tudor in 1503, an act that would ultimately unite the two kingdoms a century later. His immediate relationship with his brother-in-law deteriorated however when James invaded Northumberland. James was defeated and killed at Flodden, along with most of the leaders of Scottish society.

1513: James V. Still an infant at the time of his father’s death at Flodden, James’s early years were dominated by struggles between his English mother, Margaret Tudor and the Scottish nobles. Although king in name, James did not really start to gain control and rule the country until 1528. After that he slowly began to rebuild the shattered finances of the Crown, largely enriching the funds of the monarchy at the expense of the Church. Anglo-Scottish relationships once again descended into war when James failed to turn up for a scheduled meeting with Henry VIII at York in 1542. James apparently died of a nervous breakdown after hearing of the defeat of his forces following the Battle of Solway Moss.

1542: Mary Queen of Scots. Born just a week before her father King James V died. Mary was sent to France in 1548 to marry the Dauphin, the young French prince, in order to secure a Catholic alliance against England. In 1561, after he died still in his teens, Mary returned to Scotland. At this time Scotland was in the throes of the Reformation and a widening Protestant-Catholic split. A Protestant husband for Mary seemed the best chance for stability. Mary married her cousin Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, but it was not a success. Darnley became jealous of Mary’s secretary and favourite, David Riccio. He, together with others, murdered Riccio in front of Mary. She was six months pregnant at the time.

Her son, the future King James VI, was baptised into the Catholic faith at Stirling Castle. This caused alarm amongst the Protestants. Darnley later died in mysterious circumstances. Mary sought comfort in James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, and rumours abounded that she was pregnant by him. Mary and Bothwell married. The Lords of Congregation did not approve of the liaison and she was imprisoned in Leven Castle. Mary eventually escaped and fled to England. In Protestant England, Catholic Mary’s arrival provoked a political crisis for Queen Elizabeth I. After 19 years of imprisonment in various castles throughout England, Mary was found guilty of treason for plotting against Elizabeth and was beheaded at Fotheringhay.

1567: James VI and I. Became king aged just 13 months following the abdication of his mother. By his late teens he was already beginning to demonstrate political intelligence and diplomacy in order to control government.

He assumed real power in 1583, and quickly established a strong centralised authority. He married Anne of Denmark in 1589.

As the great-grandson of Margaret Tudor, he succeeded to the English throne when Elizabeth I died in 1603, thus ending the centuries-old Anglo-Scots border wars.

The birth of Scotland

10,000 BC

The Palaeolithic Era

The period of earliest known occupation of Scotland by man is from the Palaeolithic era &ndash also known as the Stone Age. Hunter-gatherers hunted for fish and wild animals and gathered fruit, nuts, plants, roots and shells.

3,000 BC

Neolithic Age

The earliest prehistoric tools found still surviving in Scotland date from 3000 BC &ndash during the Neolithic age Scotland was home to nomadic hunter-gatherers as well as the first farmers who built permanent dwellings. The remains of domestic and ritual buildings from this time make up The Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site. Visit UNESCO for more information.

124 AD

The Roman Empire

Scotland&rsquos recorded history began with the arrival of the Roman Empire. Despite building two impressive fortifications &ndash Hadrian&rsquos Wall to defend the northern border, and the Antonine Wall across Central Scotland to advance it forward &ndash the Romans never truly conquered Caledonia. Unable to defeat the Caledonians and Picts, the Romans eventually withdrew and over time retreated away from Britain. Much of the 60km Antonine Wall survives and it was inscribed as a World Heritage Site, one of six in Scotland, since 2004.

800 AD

Arrival of the Vikings
Vikings were accomplished seamen at this point in history, and around 800 AD they began migrating from Norway and Denmark, crossing the treacherous North Sea to trade and settle in Scotland. While Vikings began to settle in the west, the Picts were forging a new kingdom the Kingdom of Alba.

1040 AD

Macbeth rules Scotland
Immortalised forever in Shakespeare&rsquos fictitious retelling, Macbeth is perhaps one of the best-known early Scottish kings. Macbeth ruled as King of Alba from 1040 to his death in battle in 1057.

1100 AD

Becoming a feudal society
In the 12th century the Kingdom of Alba continued to grow and became a feudal society. The Treaty of Falaise, signed by William I, ushered in a period of relative peace in Scotland. During the reigns of Alexander II and then Alexander III, more land was turned over to agriculture, trade with the continent bolstered the economy and monasteries and abbeys grew and flourished around the country.


Milk thistle is considered safe in dosages of 420 mg/day orally in divided doses for up to 41 months.Milić 2013, Tamayo 2007 One source suggests daily doses of 12 to 15 g of dry fruits for dyspepsia and disorders of the biliary system, while an extract containing 200 to 400 mg/day of silymarin is considered effective in various liver disorders.van Wyk 2004

A dose of 140 mg of silymarin 3 times daily has been suggested for hepatic cirrhosis.Stolf 2017

S. marianum leaf extract 600 mg/day (200 mg capsules 3 times daily) given for 8 weeks was as effective as fluoxetine in adults with obsessive-compulsive disorder in a small study.Sayyah 2010

A phase 1 clinical study in prostate cancer patients determined a phase 2 dosage recommendation of silibinin (as Siliphos) 13 g/day orally in 3 divided doses.Flaig 2007, Ramasamy 2008

A preparation consisting of 150 mL of boiling water poured over 3.5 g of crushed milk thistle seed, steeped for 10 to 15 minutes, and given 3 to 4 times daily 30 minutes before meals has been suggested for digestive disorders.Blumenthal 2003 Consumption of silymarin in the form of tea may not be effective, as silymarin is poorly soluble in water.Awang 2009

A weed goes to war, and Michigan provides the ammunition

Late in World War II, the common milkweed was often the only thing that kept a downed aviator or soaking-wet sailor from slipping beneath the waves. The plant’s floss was used as the all-important filler for flotation devices.

In the early 20th century, the typical filler for life preservers was a material called “kapok.” A cottony fiber extracted from the pods of the ceiba tree, kapok was cultivated in the rainforests of Asia. America’s primary source for this material was the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia).

Then, in 1937, came Japan’s invasion of China, which initiated World War II in the Pacific. By the time the U.S. entered the war four years later, access to Asian kapok had been effectively cut off. A replacement for this critical material was needed to protect airmen and seamen from drowning. Cattail down, feathers, and “Bubblfil” (a plastic substance developed by Du Pont) were among the possibilities the military considered.

Dr. Boris Berkman (Courtesy of CRIA Images)

Enter Dr. Boris Berkman, a Chicago physician and inventor who was a champion of the milkweed, long considered a noxious weed to farmers. Berkman envisioned this plant as a new crop rivaling the soybean in usefulness. He suggested more than 20 uses for the plant’s stems, leaves, and pods: among them insulation, pressed board, oil, animal food, rayon, cellophane, dynamite, surgical dressing, and textile fibers. In his 1939 patent application for a milkweed gin to process the plant, he asserted that “milkweed is an American crop capable of producing untold benefits to the American farmer, and not subject to the uncertainties attending the importation of foreign raw materials.”

Milkweed floss as a filler for life preservers was another of his ideas. Berkman confidently proclaimed that the material was even better than kapok for the job, and could be processed more efficiently. He was invited to present his case before a congressional agriculture committee in March 1942. Extensive tests conducted by the U.S. Navy showed that a little over a pound of milkweed floss could keep a 150-pound man floating in the water for more than 40 hours. Based on the strength of this evidence, the federal government elevated the status of the weed to that of a wartime strategic material and quickly appropriated $225,000 to build a processing facility.

This would be the first factory of its kind in the world. The Navy contract initially called for 200,000 pounds of milkweed floss production in 1942, then increased its request by 100,000 pounds for other experimental uses. Such an endeavor would require harvesting over 2 million pounds of ripe milkweed pods. The spot chosen to host this ambitious project was in the milkweed-rich hills along the Lake Michigan shore.

Surveys conducted by representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had shown that the 12-county area surrounding the city of Petoskey was home to the “largest concentration of wild milkweed in the country.” Additionally, Petoskey was easily accessible by road, rail, and ship. All that was needed was a place to process the milkweed pods the government solved that problem by appropriating the buildings and grounds of the Preston Feather & Sons Lumber Company, located along the Pennsylvania Railroad switch track at Sheridan Street. This transaction occurred in August 1942.

Boris Berkman was named president and L.J. Lyon vice president and treasurer of the organization created to spearhead this effort. It was placed under the umbrella of War Hemp Industries, Inc., which in turn was part of the Commodity Credit Corporation and answerable to the USDA. A huge sign on the road-facing side of the Preston Feather complex summed up this pedigree under the heading of the “Milkweed Floss Corporation of America.”

Tooling the Processing Facility

It took a year before the processing plant could realize its full potential. A huge commercial oven was required to properly dry the pods. But the lack of iron and steel resources delayed its construction. Other machinery was still being tested by a manufacturer in Chicago. And a concrete addition had to be built to expand the lumberyard’s existing facilities to 50,000 square feet.

A temporary setup enabled the plant’s 80 employees to process the 1942 harvest. Then, in November 1943, the new machinery was finally installed and turned on. Running at top capacity, the Petoskey works contained seven milkweed gins and a full dryer unit. The temporary space was converted to dry pod storage and a business office was set up downtown in a former Michigan Bell building.

As described by Berkman, processing was broken down into five stages. First, bagged pods were sent through the dryer on a conveyor belt to remove excess moisture (60 percent by volume) at the rate of 1,000 bags per hour. They were then lifted to the second floor, where the contents of the bags were emptied by hand into a hopper feeding the gins below. There, the pods were gently crushed between two rubber-coated drums, an action that opened them along their natural seams. A horizontal drum, equipped with beater bars, further agitated the pods and released the floss, to be carried off by air current and deposited into a collecting-and-bagging chamber. The broken pod shells and seeds fell onto a perforated grate and were gravity-sifted into separate collecting bins.

Only two parts of the process required manual contact: opening the bags of dried pods and picking the pods. Pod picking, however, was the most crucial step and relied heavily on the labor of children as well as adults. The fact that this operation worked at all was testament to a civilian army encompassing people in 25 states and two Canadian provinces.

Milk Thistle and Mushroom Poisoning

If you’ve been fortunate to live in the parts of the US that were soggier than usually as of late – or unfortunate enough to have had flooding from hurricanes and tropical storms – then you’ve be noticing a tremendous burst of mushrooms.

For mycologists – mushroom enthusiasts – there are two classic chestnuts: “There are old mushroom collectors and bold mushrooms collectors, but there are no old, bold mushroom collectors.”

Or, in a more concise Croatian proverb, “All mushrooms are edible, but some only once.”

As such, this is the time of year that emergency rooms and regional poison centers begin to see a burst in poisonings from mushroom ingestion, due primarily to amateur misidentification of the fruiting bodies.

Just this past week, Jason McClure at Medscape Oncology News (free reg req’d) wrote about the unusual bloom of mushrooms in the northeastern US and the concomitant bloom of mushroom poisonings this fall.

But “mushroom poisoning” is an imprecise diagnosis for the ER physician. The constellation of symptoms caused by toxic mushrooms is as diverse as the colors and shapes of these wonders of nature. From another Medscape article on emergency management of mushroom poisoning by Dr. Rania Habal from the Emergency Medicine department of NYU:

Mushrooms are best classified by the physiologic and clinical effects of their poisons. The traditional time-based classification of mushrooms into an early/low toxicity group and a delayed/high toxicity group may be inadequate. Additionally, many mushroom syndromes develop soon after ingestion. For example, most of the neurotoxic syndromes, the Coprinus syndrome (ie, concomitant ingestion of alcohol and coprine), the immunoallergic and immunohemolytic syndromes, and most of the GI intoxications occur within the first 6 hours after ingestion.

Ingestions most likely to require intensive medical care involve mushrooms that contain cytotoxic substances such as amatoxin, gyromitrin, and orellanine. Mushrooms that contain involutin may cause a life-threatening immune-mediated hemolysis with hemoglobinuria and renal failure. Inhalation of spores of Lycoperdon species may result in bronchoalveolitis and respiratory failure that requires mechanical ventilation.

Mushrooms that contain the GI irritants psilocybin, ibotenic acid, muscimol, and muscarine may cause critical illness in specific groups of people (eg, young persons, elderly persons). Hallucinogenic mushrooms may also result in major trauma and require care in an intensive care setting. Lastly, coprine-containing mushrooms cause severe illness only when combined with alcohol (ie, Coprinus syndrome).

Among the poisonous mushrooms, Amanita phalloides is perhaps the most deadly. If you’ve spent any time in a biochemical laboratory you will have learned of the primary toxin of the mushroom, &alpha-amanitin. This potency of this toxin comes from its remarkably high affinity for RNA polymerase II, the primary RNA polymerase for making messages that are converted into proteins.

The challenge in treating &alpha-amanitin poisoning is that it has a relatively long half-life in the body because it is conjugated with glucuronic acid in the liver and secreted in the bile. But then microbes that normally inhabit our gut cleave the glucuronide sugar molecule off the toxin, released the toxic &alpha-amanitin.

Throughout the history of folk medicine in the Middle East and Europe, extracts of the seeds of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) were determined to have protective effects against liver toxins. I’m still not terribly pleased with understanding the history of how this came about but answering this question is one of my liberal arts pursuits. As an aside, I should make the disclosure that my laboratory and colleagues have been investigating the anticancer effects of compounds from milk thistle and still receive NIH funding to do so however, I do not (yet) study how milk thistle compounds prevent liver toxicity.

Nevertheless, milk thistle products are quite popular in Europe and the US for the general prevention of liver toxicity from statins, acetaminophen, and alcohol. Several of my friends have joked that one could make create a successful market for an alcoholic product containing milk thistle extract.

But one of the primary roadblocks in using milk thistle extracts or pure compounds for any indication is that the compounds have rather poor bioavailability. The seven major flavonolignans and one flavonoid in the typical extracts are very avidly conjugated by glucuronidation. In studies by collabortors at the University of Colorado, we now know that it takes daily doses of approximately 10-13 grams of milk thistle extract to achieve plasma concentrations consistent with known anticancer effects in vitro. It can be done, but it means taking much more than the typical 180 mg capsules you can buy at your local health food store.

However, an intravenous preparation of milk thistle extract has been available in Europe for over 20 years: Legalon SIL. This GMP-manufactured product is common to emergency rooms in Germany, France, and Belgium for the treatment of mushroom poisoning. The preparation is comprised of silybin A and silybin B – known collectively as silibinin – as a hemisuccinate that both improves the solubility and bioavailability of the compounds.

Two cases in the US – one in 2007 and another just this past month – have seen emergency IND approval of this European product. In 2007, Legalon was used to save four of five family members who had ingested Amanita phalloides while on a New Year’s Day picnic outside of Santa Cruz, California. And just last month, a team led by Dr. Jacqueline Laurin at Georgetown Medical Center successfully treated two men for accidental ingestion of Amanita. Georgetown is now an approved referral center for this IV prep of Legalon and their efforts were greatly assisted by the Santa Cruz team who handled the 2007 cases.

Less satisfying to me is the mechanism by which silybin A and silybin B protect the liver from the effects of RNA polymerase II inhibition by &alpha-amanitin. The literature to date seems to converge on the inhibition of toxin uptake into hepatocytes by silibinin. A German group led by Herbert de Groot in Essen, Germany, published a highly-cited 1996 paper proposing that inhibition of inflammatory mediator release from Kupffer cells (the macrophage of the liver) might partly account for the hepatoprotective effects of silibinin. More recent work continues to address the modulation of inflammation.

Regardless, we are now seeing legitimate use of a medicine from a herbal tradition being used in clinical situations where emergency IRB approval and IND status have been given to such a product. Certainly, these stories may be used by marketers to promote use of their oral milk thistle products. But, as I mentioned earlier, such effects required ingestion of large doses of capsules. Instead, I present this story to SBM readers to illustrate that amidst the wooful promotion of herbal therapies, a few gems exist and are most worthy of our scientific investigation.

Watch the video: ROYAL: Queen installs new Knights of the Thistle in Edinburgh 1952 (January 2022).