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A Highland Family Saga

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A Highland Family Saga


Introduction
I recently publisheda blogabout my great grand uncle – Dugald McFarlaneand howhewas, by necessity,forcedtoemigrateto Victoria in Southern Australia on an assisted passage .It is often assumedthat theterriblepotato faminewhich hit Ireland in the late 1840s was acomparatively localisedhappening . Not so – the blight that hit the potato crop extended throughout much of Northern Europe. Scotland – and the Highlands in particular , hadbeen subjectto astring ofdisasters affecting many of itsinhabitants ever sincethe cessation of the Jacobite Uprising  (or the ’45as it was generally known ). The virtual genocide instigatedby Cumberland wasboth savage , merciless and a viciousover reaction against a Clan systemwhich was an integral part of everyday life . Thiswas followedby the Clearances- when sheep becamemorerelevantthan their two leggedfellow occupantsof the GĂ idhealtachd. The Famine of the 1840s was the culmination of those difficult times. Mass emigrati…

Who were the Culdees and why were they in Muthill ?

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1900 pic of Muthill Parish Church1. Culdees in Muthill


I have  a particular interest in the religious  sect  known as the Culdees . I lived for a number of years in an old  stone  house in Muthill called “ Little Culdees ” It had been built circa 1790 using stones from the remnants of Culdees Castle in what is now the farm and estate of the Maitland Gardners . A somewhat be- turreted idiosyncratic dwelling located over a flowing burn and distinctive  but with its  stone slabbed flooring perhaps the coldest house I have  ever lived in !


" Little Culdees " from a painting by my old friend the late Norman Aiton of Muthill

Who then were the Culdees ?  Culdees were holy men who loved solitude and lived by the labour of their hands. Gradually they came together in a community, still occupying separate cells, still much alone and in communion with God  but meeting in the refectory and in the church, and giving obedience to a comm…

Strageath Mill and Churchyard

Comrie of Old

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Comrie of Old

Drove leaving Comrie




Looking at the Parish of Comrie in the 1792/93 Account, we note that the staple industry is linen yarn  " of which a great quantity is spun and sold each year. With the money which this yarn brings,most of the farmers pay a great part of their rents.This yarn sells at about 2/4 d per spindle " (i.e. about 11 pence in present currency ). Very much a cottage industry, the small farmers or cottars produced a variety of cloths to suit their needs. The lint was spun into a yarn and from that a cloth was produced . The finer cloth was made into men and women's shirts whilst the coarser was turned into " sailors jackets and trousers ". Comrie in the 18th century was a Highland village unlike its near neighbour Crieff some seven miles to the east . The women of the Parish produced a great quantity of  " plaiden cloth " and a considerable quantity of tartan from which they made plaids and hose . The Account tells us …