HONOURS FROM SCOTLAND

Heritable Usher of the White Rod of Scotland

The Inverneill Papers of 1791 (IP05 pages 357 and 358) note that Archibald Campbell of Inverneill paid £12,100 (or today, £677,963) to become a "Heritable Usher of the White Rod for Scotland." This returned an annual pension of £250 (that is, £13,569.53 today).

What is a "Heritable Usher of the White Rod for Scotland"?

One source, "Facts about Edinburgh" says that it is Scotland's equivalent to England's Black Rod, the gentleman who raps on the door of the House of Commons and demands entry on behalf of the monarch.

However, a more interesting - and much older - explanation is Martin Martin's story of an ancient custom of the chiefs of the western islands of Scotland:

"The formalities observed at the entrance of these chieftains upon the government of their clans were as follow:

A Heap of stones was erected in form of a pyramid, on the top of which the young chieftain was placed, his friends and followers standing in a circle round about him, his elevation signifying his authority over them, and their standing below their subjection to him. One of his principal friends delivered into his hands the sword worn by his father, and there was a WHITE ROD delivered to him likewise at the same time." (page 166, A Description of the Western Islands of Scotland)

According to Colin Campbell in his "Origins of the Campbells of Inverneill," Sir Archibald acquired this office by charter dated 2 July 1790 (Great Seal Register, C2/125, p 205). Further, Sir Archibald's nephew sold it to (Sir) Patrick Walker in 1806. (Footnote 26, page 70)

Thus, in 1829, during a procession honouring the Edinburgh home coming of the cannon, "Mons Meg" from England, among the escort was Sir Patrick Walker, in his role as "Usher of the White Rod."

The following page has a discussion of Campbell's Coat of Arms, and the Clan Tearlach.