Showing posts from June, 2012

The Rev. Dr David Malcom LL.D , academic, minister , teacher and forgotten poet of Madderty and Crieff ( 1763 – 1833 )

I have always admired College Buildings at the top end of East High Street partly because of its distinctive architecture but also on account if its unusual history . A story written by author and artist Constance Frederika Gordon Cumming many years ago relates that the building was built by a Dr Malcolm to “ educate medical students ” . Its later usage as a boarding school known as St Margaret’s College confuses matters even further ! Even in the present age of post codes and general anonymity Crieffites still refer to it as “ College Buildings ”. Who then was Dr Malcolm and to which “ college “ do we refer ? My investigation into Dr Malcolm begin in the confused mode ! I had received a copy of Perthshire in Bygone Days from a respected long established inhabitant of the town . I have become attuned to being the repository for a fascinating assortment of historical nick nacks and this one indeed proved quite fascinating . Published in 1879 ( Whittingham , London ) , …

David Mallet , Crieff poet and con man .

David Mallet (c. 1700- ), “Wi' haffit locks sae smooth and sleek, John look'd like ony ancient Greek.” History often treats individuals cruelly. The passage of time frequently pushes individuals out of our perspective into comparative obscurity. In the annals of Crieff, the name of David Mallett is now virtually forgotten. Mallett’s real surname was Malloch and it was only when resident in London did metropolitan pressure decide him to soften the pronunciation by changing it to the former. His origins seem to be in doubt. One school of thought claims he was the son of an innkeeper in Crieff born about 1700. Malloch’s Inn was the Pretoria of its day and indeed was located close to its modern counterpart. These Malloch’s were connected to Rob Roy and it was a favourite haunt of the outlaw when he visited the town on business during the Michaelmas Tryst. Malloch was educated in Crieff before moving on to Aberdeen and then to Edinburgh where after a short menial spell a…

The Story of Highland Toffee

Andrew McCowan ( 1874- 1951 ) is the person responsible for putting money in the pockets of generations of school dentists . The Muthill born entrepreneur moved from the Strath when in his teens to Falkirk and ended up founding the company famed for its Highland Toffee . That gooey bar in the wrapper with the big Highland cow beaming out at you ! Penny Dainties and other school day treats earned his fame and fortune . The oft repeated biographical tale of the boy born and brought up on the farm some four miles from Crieff does not properly reveal what was , to put it mildly , a chaotic early life . In the Victorian era , the morals of society were often focused on family life . Underneath the veneer of respectability lurked a two faced hypocrisy .Birth certificates were designed to ensure you were accurately labelled from infancy . The word “ illegitimate” was clearly included in the name column if the mother had been guilty of an indiscretion . Andrew was born in the village o…

Witchcraft in Strathearn - Part Two of Two

Witchcraft in Strathearn – Part Two of Two The following survey into witchcraft in Scotland in the 17th and 18th centuries was carried out some years back by the Department of History in Edinburgh Univrsity and makes interesting reading ! How many witches were there in Scotland ? A. We have identified a total number of 3,837 people who were accused of witchcraft in Scotland. 3,212 of these are named and there are a further 625 unnamed people or groups included in our database. This is not a complete figure (see How complete is the database?), but it is probably fairly accurate. Older accounts of the subject tended to produce much higher figures, such as 4,500 or 30,000. Sometimes these figures are still repeated, but they are based on speculation rather than detailed research. Usually they are given as figures for executions, making them even more misleading. Similarly, a figure of 9 million witches executed in Europe is sometimes given, when most scholars agree that it was about …

Witchcraft in Strathearn - Part One of Two

Witchcraft in Strathearn – Part One of Two The 17th century was a time in Scotland when the Kirk and the King , James the Vl were somewhat paranoiac about witches and witchcraft . In 1643. John Brughe, "the notorious Crook-of-Devon Warlock" had long been a terror to the Kinross district. It was proven at his trial that he had "met the devil at the Rumbling Brigg"; and that he and others had "met Satan thrice in the Kirkyard of Glendevon, and at such a time there had taken up there several dead corpses, one of them being a servant man named John Chyrystiesone, other corpses were taken up at the kirk of Muckhart and the flesh of one of the corpses was put in the byres of certain individuals to destroy their cattle “. For these, along with several other "horrid crimes" John was tried in Culross in November this year, and his "doom" was that he be "first strangled and then burnt," which was done, it seems, on the gallows knowe…

The Story of Transport in the Strath

Transport in the Strath The Roman occupation of Strathearn saw the construction of the first recognizable road system as the occupants in their established tradition built a road system to enable communication between their various outposts . The road over the Langside from Braco to Comrie connected the main camp at Ardoch with the Dalginross “ glen blocker “ . The Gask Ridge represented a frontier of forts and watch towers stretching from Ardoch to Bertha where lies modern Inveralmond . The Romans constructed a military road to connect these various outposts and these have been partially excavated as part of an ongoing research programme undertaken by Dr DW Wooliscroft and a team of archaeologists many of whom are from Liverpool University . Various excavations have been carried out to determine how these roads were constructed . Although construction techniques may have varied dependent on the location , the Parkneuk and Roundlaw sections of the Gask road indicated that the Rom…