Sunday, 24 March 2013

Jacobites of Strathearn - the'45 Put Into Perspective

Jacobites of Strathearn

                                                                  Charles Edward Stewart

"Butcher"  Cumberland 
The Union of 1707 between Scotland and England was highly unpopular with the vast majority of the population in Scotland. Several articles of the Act of Union agreement were economically favourable to landowners in Scotland, but failed to deliver any economic advantages to the majority of the population for over thirty years. Discontent was widespread and food riots occurred in the east coast burghs as the effects of famine were compounded by union taxes. Although the situation induced resistance to union-economics, it didn’t translate as universal support for the Jacobite cause of keeping the Stuarts on the throne in London. Many in Scotland now associated the Stuarts with Catholicism and suppression of the Protestant Kirk. The Union was designed to put an end to Jacobite hopes of a Stuart restoration by ensuring the German Hanoverian dynasty succeeded Queen Anne upon her death. However, the Stuarts did still command a lot of loyalty in Scotland, France and England - the British Union did inevitably re-ignite the Jacobite cause.

In 1708 the Jacobite claimant to the throne, the putative James VIII, and his French allies had attempted land in Scotland to incite a rising, but were foiled by adverse weather and outmanoeuvred by the Royal Navy. Six years later a motion in the House of Lords to dismantle the Union only just failed by four votes. Then, in the same year, Queen Anne died and was succeeded by George I of Hanover. The controversial question of succession intensified and the following year many nobles and Tories, disaffected with their lot within the union, rose in favour of a Stuart monarchy.

The 1715 Jacobite Rising

The ’15 rising was led by John Erskine, Earl of Mar  - a man who had voted for the Union originally and had been Secretary of State until 1714. He drew most of his support from north of the River Tay, in the north-east and Highlands of Scotland - areas where landowners had not benefited much from the Union and where Episcopalianism (which viewed the Stuarts as head of their church) was dominant.

However, the Earl of Mar proved to be no great military leader. He fought a badly commanded battle at Sheriffmuir, where the Jacobites outnumbered the Hanoverian forces under the Duke of Argyll by two to one, but failed to win a decisive victory. Not even the arrival and coronation of James Stuart as King James VIII could reverse Jacobite fortunes. Eventually the rising fizzled out when 6000 Dutch troops landed in support of the Hanoverian government and the forces of King James scattered under the pressure of bad leadership and lack of foreign aid.

Fortress Scotland: The Military Solution

The ‘15 led to the dismissal of the Duke of Argyll, the Government’s commander north of the border, after he complained that he had lost control of Scotland north of the River Forth and trusted few south of it. Argyll along with many other Scots viewed Jacobitism as a political problem which could be resolved through political means by persuading the Jacobite nobles of the benefits of a regime in London. The Government in London saw things differently, viewing Jacobitism as a military problem which required a military solution. Like Cromwell before them, they opted to garrison the Highlands, building barracks like Ruthven to quash further rebellion and constructing a system of roads and bridges, under the command of General Wade, in order to supply the new system of forts and allow the rapid deployment of troops. Wade oversaw the construction of over 250 miles of road and numerous bridges which are in use to this day. It was a hugely expensive operation which was scaled down by the early 1740’s when the Jacobite threat appeared to have receded, but it showed how seriously the House of Hanover took the Jacobite threat.

The 1745 Jacobite Rising

The final threat to the Union came with the 1745 Jacobite Rising when Charles Edward Stuart, or Bonnie Prince Charlie as he was known, disappointed at French unwillingness to invade in 1744, decided to finance his own rising. Initially it was a startling success, once again drawing most of its support from the north-east and the Highland clans. The Jacobite army rapidly broke out of the Highlands, capturing Edinburgh, courtesy of Wade’s roads, and advancing as far south as Derby in England. However, with no sign of French support, the army retreated back to their stronghold in the Highlands and was finally defeated at Culloden Moor near Inverness in 1746. Charles was  something  of  a 5 minute  wonder . He picked up the emotional support of the Highland and Lowland Jacobites who  would follow him without question . He failed to utilise the military genius  of Lord George Murray and  to tie in the necessary  support from across the Channel. His  choice of Drumossie Moor (Culloden ) as the  place  to face  the Hanoverian army was disastrous and allowed the somewhat psychopathic Cumberland his first and indeed only military victory .


The Stewart Dynasty had both the loyalty and the admiration  of the vast majority of the Scottish  population . On reflection it  has  become  clear  however that the behaviour and attitude of  many of the Stewarts monarchs  fell  well below  what the loyal populous  expected .Both Charles 1 and Charles ll were lacked a caring attitude  towards their people and were dogmatic and  self centred . The other Charles - Charles Edward Stewart better known a Bonnie Prince Charlie was undoubtedly a romantic  figure who left an indelible image in the history  books  of a swash buckling dare devil   who came close to upsetting  more than a few apple carts in a short period of time .

The  cause of Highland unrest in the 1740s  is well summarised  by historian Michael Lynch who wrote :

The real Highland problem in the 1740s already pointed the way towards the future and not the past; it was , as one  rent collector complained in 1744 about "the extaordinary poverty of the countrie, occasioned  by the death of cattle and scarcity of victuale ". The real crisis  was not  about law and order but  about economics ; the lack of cash for investment and estate improvement which would scar Highland history  for the next century and a half had already become obvious " .
Strathearn and its Jacobite  Tendency

Much has been  written ( particularly in the Victorian era )  regarding  Strathearn and its alleged support  for the anti Jacobite faction . There  are two  sources of mis -information which  have tended  to distort  what in fact , I believe  , was the  actual situation at the time . The burnings  of  Crieff and  the other  villages of Strathearn by the Jacobite forces after Sheriffmuir was well documented in various   articles   .These  were  based  mainly on the writings  of the Presbyterian Parish ministers  who were invariably of an anti Jacobite disposition and understandably tended  towards the Covenanter view point . Again our  local ministers  were found  guilty  of bias  when they came  to pen those superb Scottish Historical treasure chests with the  boring titles – The Statistical Accounts of Scotland . These  came in basically two volumes . The first written in the 1790s and the second in the 1840s , they cover all the  extant parishes in Scotland and were written usually by the  incumbent parish minister . Religious  bias  does  tend to percolate through  but in reality they are a superb account of  local interests in  two by gone eras . They can be read on line for no charge  by clicking on or just Googling “ Statistical Accounts “.

Many Strathearn men  joined  the Jacobite cause in the second uprising and I include  below  a brief  biography of some  of them mentioning  where they came from and indeed  what happened  to them after the disaster that was Culloden .The aftermath  of that bloody  encounter  has now been proven  to have been an early example of ethnic cleansing with the odious Duke of Cumberland exhibiting a brutality and purpose  which until comparatively recently has been air brushed out of the history books . Cumberland  was known as the “ Butcher “ and  such was the disdain felt in Scotland  for him that the plant known elsewhere as “ Sweet William “ was  here  termed “ Stinking Willie “.  The  following  soldiers and  the many , many others  have  not  been forgotten . This  information was obtained, amongst other sources ,  from the Muster Roll of Prince Charles Edward Stewart’s Army (1745 – 1746) and from  other sources in the public domain .

As a historian , I consider  my recounting of the past to be  fair and balanced . I believe I am genetically well placed to do this with a great grand mother on the maternal side whose  first language  was Gaelic coming from Kintyre Argyll and a great grand father  on the paternal side who was a woodman  from the West Riding of Yorkshire !

A dh’aindeoin gach ionnsaih a thugadh le namh

A choirichean priseil  a spuinneadh o’n Ghaidheal

Cha lassaich e ‘chaoidh gus am figh e a’bhuaidh

Thar gach mi-ruin is eucoir a dh’fhaodas a ruaig

Strathearn Men of the 1745

David Baxter : weaver in Murray of Niviland’s Factory, Crieff formerly of Cupar Fife. Duke of Perth’s Regiment . Imprisoned and transported 20 March1747 from Tilbury .

Dr James Binnievis : doctor of medicine aged 54 shipped on Margaret and Mary to Tilbury Possibly died there .

John Bourne : Ogilvy’s Regiment , 30 December 1745  in Carlisle Prison and Chester Castle  from Huntingtower  - cordwainer ( shoemaker ) . Taken at the capture of the town .

Robert Bresdie :  Resident of Muthill, pressed out by Lord Drummond but returned , now at home .

Donald Brown :Whitefield’s , Athol Brigade

John Bruce : Whitefield’ s, Athol Brigade

Donald Campbell : Aged 20 , herd to Dalchonzie , Lord G Murray’s Regiment, taken south in May 1746 on board Jane of Leith transported 31 March 1747  from Tilbury  to Jamaica  on St George or Carteret

James Campbell ( or McGregor ) : From Crieff, piper in Glengyle’s Regiment, imprisoned in Carlisle , pleaded guilty at his trial on 9 September 1746 and sentenced to death . He was reprieved sand tried to escape the night before  he was transported to Jamaica . Landed in Antigua .

Mungo Campbell : Ensign in Glengyle’s regiment , late soldier in Lord John Murray’s Regiment , Crieff. Imprisoned in Perth .

Ludovic Caw : Surgeon , Crieff, acted as surgeon  to Duke of Perth’s Regiment  and went with rebels , wherabouts unknown .

Duncan Comrie : Resident of Woodend of Mevie Parish of Comrie, carried arms  but pressed thereto , wherabouts unknown .

Alexander Cuming : Captain , Duke of Perth’s Regiment , sen. Farmer , Meikl Crichie , brother to Kinnimonth , Catholic , Miln of Drummond , Muthill , volunteer , taken prisoner  , discharged .

James Drummond : Comrie , carried  arms , said to be pressed  , now at home .

James Drummond : (Duke of Perth) , Lieutenant General Drummond , Muthill .Very active , died escaping  to France. Son of James , Duke of Perth , by his wife , Lady Jean Gordon, daughter  of George , Duke of Gordon . James the father was in the uprising of 1715 and escaped to France, resided there until 1730 when he died in Paris. Although attainted his son succeeded to the estates under a disposition executed by him in 1713 . On the arrival of Prince Charles at Perth in 1745, he was joined by the Duke of Perth who was appointed Lieutenant – General in conjunction with Lord George Murray . He and his following were conspicuous throughout the campaign .After Culloden, he embarked for France but died at sea on 11 May 1746, at the age of 33 .His younger and only brother , Lord John Drummond  was his heir ; he was an officer in the service of the King of France, for whom he raised the Regiment then called the Royal  Scots of which he was then Colonel .In November 1745, he arrived at Montrose with some French auxiliaries and a train of artillery for the service of the Chevalier whom  he joined  just before the Battle of Falkirk. After Culloden he returned to France and died in 1747 .

James Drummond : Lieutenant Colonel, Master of Strathallan, escaped .

James Drummond : Cochquillie, Muthill , volunteer , whereabouts not known .

John  Drummond : Drummond , Muthill ,  volunteer , now at home

John Drummond : Captain , Duke of Perth’s Regiment , Millinow  , Comrie , now lurking .

John Drummond :Aged 33 Drummond , Muthill, Valet  to the Duke of Perth, Duke of Perth’s Regiment , volunteer , imprisoned Inverness June 1746, shipped on Wallsgrave Aug 1746  to Tilbury Fort , discharged .

Peter ( or Patrick ) Drummond : Ensign ,Bellnae , Comrie, imprisoned 23 Mar 1746 in Stirling, discharged 17 May 1746 .

James Lockhart :Wright , Crieff, volunteer in some superior  station now lurking .

Allan MacDonald :Brewer , Crieff. Volunteer , whereabouts  unknown.

Alexander MacDonald : Dalchonzie ( Comrie ) ,Officer, Athol Brigade , killed Culloden.

John MacDonald :Brother of Alexander , Dalchonzie , Officer , Athol Brigade , killed Culloden .

John Macgregor :Labourer , Dundurn ( St Fillans ), Duke of Perth’s Regiment , taken after siege of Carlisle 30 December 1745, transported 22 April 1747 from Liverpool to Virginia on “ Johnson “, landed at Port Oxford  Maryland  5 August 1747 .

William Murray : Postmaster , Crieff, carried arms in some superior station , whereabouts unknown .

Laurence Oliphant : Captain , younger of Gask  , volunteer , Perthshire horse , whereabouts  unknown .

Laurence Oliphant : elder of Gask . The estates of the elder and younger were confiscated  but in 1753 Mrs Amelia Nairne , spouse  to Laurence Oliphant  , late of Gask  , was found  entitled  to her liferent of portions of the estate in terms of her marriage contract , in the event of her surviving  her  husband  . On February 1754 he is mentioned as deceased  . Carolina, daughter of the younger Lawrence was married to Lord Nairne   and is celebrated as writer of the “Laird of Cockpen “and other favourite songs.

James Oswald : From Tullibardine  , Lord John Drummond’s Regiment , imprisoned at Crieff  , 2 May 1746Perth , 12 May 1746 Stirling Castle , discharged  17 July 1747. “Gardener at Tullibardine . Witnesses  assert  that he marched  and did duty with the rebel army , wore the white cocked and bore arms “

Duncan Orr : aged 14  born 1733  weaver , 4’8” tall brown hair , sprightly , transported 5 May  1747 from Liverpool  to the Leeward Islands  on “ Veteran “liberated  by a French privateer  in Martinique  June 1747 .

James Riddoch : Drummond , Muthill , volunteer  now at home .

Aeneas Sinclair :  Comrie  , pressed  by rebels into their service , now at home.

James Stewart : Drummond  , Parish of Muthill  , volunteer , whereabouts  unknown

James Stewart : resident of  Cannband  , Comrie , carried  arms  but forced out  , now at home .

William Stewart: Drummond , Parish of Muthill , carried arms as a volunteer  , whereabouts  not known .

Strathallan, Lord  :Machony  Parish of Muthill  , whereabouts  not known .

George Taylor : Muthill  , Duke of Perth’s Regiment  imprisoned Muthill,  23 March 1746 Stirling , Edinburgh ,discharged  17 July 1747 . “ Hireman to Duke of Perth “ “ On Suspicion “ “ Witnesses declared  he was  seen driving  the rebels cannon  wearing the white cockade . After the Battle of Falkirk  was seen riding a horse  armed  with pistols  with a dragoon cloak about him “ .

The above  is only a small sample of those who chose  to follow the Jacobite cause in Strathearn – men  who believed in true loyalty and honour .

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Yes – These Are Really Strathearn Names !

Yes – These Are Really Strathearn Names !


                                                                              Ysenda Maxtone Graham

If one one Googles  “ Gorthy” ,one  comes  up with  a clutch of obscurities  who are in all probability enthusiastic  Facebookers  but  have without a doubt, little connection with the Strathearn place of that name  . You may of  course be fortunate to hit the name “ Gorthy Wood “ – now a Forestry Commission Scotland Wood , where  one can amble,  ad infinitum , and enjoy the pleasures  of rural Perthshire . There is however  a  much finite and exact  meaning to that old  word . Gorthy was a Barony of  Strathearn and is very much steeped in the history and story of our unique part  of Perthshire .

In the beginning of the 13th Century , then Estate of Gorthy was owned  by a Laird who bore the Christian name of Tristram  and used as a surname ( when surnames were not common ) – the designation of his lands – Gorthy- Tristram of Gorthy  . Many of his successors in the same line  for nearly 400 years after  were christened Tristram – a name which is  somewhat unusual in Scotland and  which  might rightly be referred  to as antipodal to the Scottish tradition ! If we look back into the  shadows of the past we might  well be  able  to ascertain whether this name originated  amongst  long forgotten Gorthies  or did it perhaps  originate through the choice of the long defunct Earls of Strathearn ?

I am somewhat obsessed  by that much ignored gem of Strathearn’s illustrious past – namely the Abbey of Inchaffray . An institution  which was so relevant in establishing our  proud heritage  but  which was sadly raped  by the insensitivity  of modern planners in cahoots with  blinkered or perhaps even devious politicians . Tristram of Gorthy appears as a witness to certain Charters of the Abbey . The Abbey was established  near his Castle and  he was one of the initial benefactors .The Charter  I refer to is undated  but worthy of  remembrance :

Let both the present and  future men know , that I , Tristram have given and granted , and in this my writing , have confirmed to God and to St John , the Apostle  of Inchaffray , and to the canons  who serve and shall serve God at that place , one croft of my territory of Eddardoeneth , which closely adjoins the pond of the mill house of Gorthy, toward the east .through the same divisions which Prior Malise held in his life, in free and continual gift , for the love of  God, and the salvation of my soul, to be kept  by him, and had and possessed from me and my heirs in freedom and quietness from all secular service , or servile work . The following are witnesses : - Abraham , Chaplain of the Lord of Strathearn ,and Arthur, his son ; Isacher,Chaplain of Fowlis , Lord Reginald , Canon of Strathearn, Henry and Tristram ; and William, Tristram’s son; and Tebald ; Foglias , Christina , wife of Tristram , and his daughter Anni; and many others .

This Charter was confirmed by Gilbert , Earl of Strathearn , prior  to his death in 1223. A further grant was made by Robert of Mefken ( Methven ) to the Abbot and Convent of Inchaffray  of “ two tofts and four acres of land in Kenandhem, otherwise called Dolpatrick “ ( Dalpatrick?? )

Let  me move on to the present . Those of you  who peruse the  ever bourgeoning Sunday supplements will,  no  doubt have stumbled across a very literate journalist  who goes  by the  somewhat unusual forename or Christian name of Ysenda .

Ysenda Maxtone Graham was born in 1962 and educated at The King’s School, Canterbury and Girton College, Cambridge. She has written widely for many newspapers and magazines, as features writer, book reviewer and columnist. She is the author of The Church Hesitant: A Portrait of the Church of England (published by Hodder & Stoughton); The Real Mrs Miniver (published by John Murray) which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Biography of the Year Award, 2002, and Mr Tibbits’s Catholic School, published by Slightly Foxed Editions in 2011, described by Rupert Christiansen as ‘a small but perfectly formed masterpiece’. This book sold out so quickly in its limited-edition hardback that it came out six weeks later as the first-ever Slightly Foxed paperback. She was a judge of the Whitbread Awards in 2003.She lives in London with her husband Michael and their three sons Toby, Charles and Francis.

The Maxtone Graham surname  perhaps gives a you a clue that Ysenda  is from that well known and  ancient line of Maxtone Grahams  whose presence at Cultoquhey spanned  many centuries in Strathearn . The forename of this eminent member of the Clan can be  found  lurking again in the Charters of that so neglected abbey

Ysenda, spouse of Earl Gilbert of Strathearn, by consent of the earl her lord, has given, granted, and established by her charter, to Inchaffray Abbey, five acres of land in her villa of Abercairney (PER), namely, that land which she perambulated in the presence of Sir Richard the knight and Geoffrey of Gask, her brothers, Henry and Tristram, sons of Tristram, William the earl’s clerk, and many others, in perpetual alms, free and quit from all service and secular exaction, with common pasture for 12 cows and two horses, and with all other easements pertaining to the same territory. Because she does not have her own seal, the seal of Bishop Abraham of Dunblane has been attached.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Bridgend and Crieff in the Early 19th Century

McNee's Jamary about 1900
My recent  piece on cock fighting in Crieff in the  early part of the 19th century proved an interesting look at  the way of  life  of yesteryear . The same little book “ Crieff in the Victorian Era “ contains  numerous  little gems . I have  singled out a brief essay looking at the Bridgend circa 1830s . Bridgend  was  very  much its own place in those days  and Bridgenders did  not consider themselves part  and parcel of the “ toon up the hill ” !As one  drives  south towards the bridge note the higgledy  piggy nature of the street scape  with  houses and cottages jutting out  at awkward  angles in total disregard  for a  uniform building line ! Many of these old cottages  still have  an appendage  at the rear which in days  gone by was  the loom shed – now transformed  by Ikea or its likes into  modern fitted kitchens ! This was a community dependant on weaving - initially wool, then  linen and then eventually cotton. The web – masters or  middle men such as the father of James MacRosty lived in  the “ up market  “ part of Bridgend  which  is  now named Earnbank Road . From Earnbank Road  there is a  narrow  winding access  to what was once the Earnvale Woollen Manufactory  erected  by James Mitchell from Comrie . This  was on the site of an old saw mill and was erected about 1860 according to Porteous . The use of  water power was significant as the Lade  was taken from the Weir at the top end of what is  now MacRosty Park  ( near the old Morgan’s Wood ) , and was used to power the machinery  before it  joined the Earn upstream from the  Bridge . The history of the building is  quite fascinating . A fire ravage its fabric  and it was rebuilt .  On the death of Mitchell it was rented out by Messrs McKenzie, Campbell & Co in 1877 . Just one year later, the mill was again burned down in somewhat strange circumstances, to be rebuilt yet again and eventually run by the spinning company R & H Hay from  Whins of Milton near Stirling . After closing it was eventually used as the head quarters of well known Crieff  landscape gardener and nursery man  , the late Derek Halley .

Another interesting little building in Bridgend is the wooden mission hall at the entrance to Park House Dairy . No doubt the good people of Bridgend resented the good intent of their Crieff neighbours!

What things were like in the early part of the 19th century is fascinatingly accounted in this little essay from “Crieff in the Victorian Era” :

A lovely cloud of dust – not of the crushed metal order – has its being  somewhere  about those parts of South Bridgend  where at present a prosperous jamary holds sway ;and, sweeping  over the bridge before a delightful summer’s breeze , curls and circles in the air and forms into any number of fantastic  looking shapes – the favourite representation  being the ponderous bows of the old Norse  warship . Before the breeze  has lost its playful  influence , the dust  reaches the Gallowhill , where it feels  the want of sufficient encouragement , and drops dead opposite  somebody’s door . The track of the phantom can be followed if one cares to do so , and if anyone  wants  to take a different route , he may be slipping off his shoes  and stockings  and rolling up his trousers  wade the Earn , and arrive at any desired  destination  on the other side , without let or hindrance . But in this ( past ) age  of achievement and advancement people hold no very decided superstitions  about the bridge- though it looks  as unstable  as a dromedary  in a travelling menagerie , and the usual custom is not to wade through  the water  but to go across the river in the manner  common to  later- day pedestrians .  ( It may be mentioned that the bridge referred to was rather a deformed  looking arrangement . Local historians of more or less importance  have endeavoured to solve the question of its deformity , but in giving a satisfactory answer they have all ignominiously failed . The fact is that  the disfigurement  was caused by a big Comrie earthquake which took place many years ago , before reporting became “ extraordinary “and before the extent of the upheavals was measured by the wavy movement of liquid ink in the office of the senior magistrate . The present bridge over the Earn  as built in 1868 .)

When one reaches the north side of the bridge and takes  a step or two up the hill he finds he has got at last to Crieff. I say at last , as anyone not acquainted  with the place  may not know exactly when he is in or out of it . Scattered  here and there , in various shapes and sizes , and facing in all directions are a few thatched houses , Some face north and south , while others are due east and west . \There is no interfering  Dean of Guild Court   to  instruct the peaceful householders  as to what is regular  or irregular , or to direct them  in the law  regarding oriels ; so they fix  their windows and their doors just where and how they please , and consult no one as to whether they have done right or wrong. Here indeed, the flag of freedom waves triumphantly. On the street side the grass grows for the benefit of about a dozen cows , and all manner of wild  flowers prosper in abundance .The seeds  from this wayside paradise flit hither and thither as the prevailing  winds direct , and when you see a fair exhibition of the cottage garden on the thatched roof , you know that Nature has been exceedingly kind in presenting her beauties unsolicited . Up near the chimneys  , which have their faces delightfully coloured with soot generated from the fumes of Auchnafree peats ,dandelions and poppies rear their heads  side by side with buttercups and bluebells , while along the rigging , grass grows in a healthy form , competing each year  for the highest blades .Somewhere about the gables , from which the rain has been running in streams on to the kitchen floor, the spaces are closely turfed , and heavy stones are added to keep the wind from doing further  damage . If the cow is at all  a cleanly beast – sometimes whether it is or not – it is permitted  to hang its  hat on the door  “ ben the hoose “ , and to bellow at its convenience ; but generally speaking , the animal is apportioned a room at the back , with a through entrance from the kitchen. The family pig – a lower animal- for reasons which need not  be stated is allotted a separate house in the yard, and there it grunts the the livelong day as it stares between the gaping spars at the green kail which grows temptingly outside . Sometimes it raises itself on its hind legs, with the usual grace, and looks over the top spar to admire the scenery and general crops in the garden .The trough , however slips out from below, and as the beast falls  back with a semi – summersault into three feet of filth an extra special grunt is foerth coming by way of expressing its contempt for “ sour grapes “ .

Further up the street you are in a nobbier community. A clay pipe and a few sample groceries denote a merchant’s shop, and if you find a shoe or two in the window you know this is a shoemakers. Here there is some attempt at decoration. The holes in the window panes are padded up with old shirts and trousers, red creepers try to climb the door posts and a bull finch chirps at the outer door . Up the street you may see some children playing with the dust; here and there dogs lie  basking in the sun , and occasionally a  busy weaver appears at his door to note the progress of the sun on its  journey west ward. Further up the hill, there a few better class houses . You know what that means . the addition of a chimney pot in a falling condition, and a sneck on the door which works every sixth trial. There is also an effort at white washing.

Here ,then ,is Crieff in which prosper a noble class of worthy and contented weavers , whose sons  may live to see their families grow up  brilliant  schollars , or to learnof their success as highly intelligent poachers .



Friday, 8 March 2013

Cock Fighting In Crieff -Big Crowds and Big Money In The 19th Century !



As  a collector  of the odd little  book or pamphlet , I never  cease  to enjoy what  was written  in days  gone by .  I procured a small booklet  many years  back from a local source  and  although  in a somewhat shabby condition, it is  full of   delightful little  cameos of the Crieff of yesteryear . Entitled “Crieff in the Victorian Era”  by “ Dixon “ it  is on par  with Macara for its colloquial and couthy  delights !Written in   wonderfully  descriptive  style it  has  stood  out in my thoughts  for  many a year .   The  following is a tale  concerning what was Strathearn’s  main sporting interest in the early part of the 19th Century . No it wasn’t football or golf  but  cock fighting . Not  acceptable in this day and age  and an undoubtedly cruel and somewhat barbaric past time , it  attracted much interest and following  in those  far off days . Cock fighting   was popular with the general public as it attracted a large amount of betting with considerable stake money going to the winning owner.  This little tale is not intended a s a defence  of the past  but  purely an historical account of what it was

like . It is  not generally known that cock fighting at one time  was a regular  feature in Crieff within the other wise staid sanctum  of the Weavers’ Hall in what is now Commissioner Street . Apologies to Rory Stewart of the Broich – I mentioned to him that this tale  was in Macara but was wrong !

Please note  that this tale is an historical account of something that occurred nearly two hundred  years ago in Crieff . I do not condone, support  or publicise cruel sports but as an historian find it incumbent to highlight  what did occur – be it now unacceptable in today’s society .

The Old Sporting Days

Good Queen Victoria the first is coronated . The bell rings , the folks cheer and do many other  things necessary for the occasion , and the day passes  amidst very satisfactory enthusiasm . But there is something which remains  to complete the day , and that something is on every- body’s  mind . It is a cock fight . to witness the encounter Lochlane , Strowan  and Monzievaird , Fowlis and  Monzie  send their hordes , who come partly on foot and partly in hay – carts .

For days past the young Queen and the cock fight have been discussed and re discussed in every  weaver’s shop , at every corner , at every farm , and on every road , and the money  at stake  being in proportion to the importance of the event , the names of the principal sportsmen  re upon everyone’s lips . All the country  roads swarm  with the heavy traffic , and people stagger forward in their hurry to reach the town . Carts , with their precious loads , rumble along ; farmers on horseback mingle with the crowd ;  and the cries and shouts of the  passengers make the merry clinking of the harness on the excited horses almost  sink into insignificance .

“ The Young Queen , “ “ Horrrah , Horrah “ , and the cries are kept up for miles along the road – only to be repeated and passed back with additional enthusiasm . Everywhere  friendship  and good fellowship prevail in honour of the great day . Before the sun sets   fight unparalleled  in interest  for miles a round  wil be fought and won .

King and Sharp have long been names notorious for cock fighting . The former – the owner of some gallant birds – belongs the Bridgend, and in an honest open fight , can produce birds to match anything in the district . The challenge was thrown out  by  Sharp of Crieff , whose shady practises were not by any mans unfamiliar to the ring , but whose name as a cunning breeder of first – class birds was well and widely known .Both finely – trained smugglers they had fallen out in a public- house near Amulree, and after the fight was announced  and the stakes were arranged , the news was spread abroad in all directions . It required no sporting newspaper then to intimate coming events .

A beautiful site for the encounter has been selected on the Broich estate ( the belief is that the Laird is ill in bed ) . And what a glorious afternoon! A cloudless sky extends  from the Grampians  to the Ochils  and the sinking sun shines  forth in all its lurid glory ; the gentle wind familiar  to June sighs peacefully  in every tree , and the roads are carpeted with the dust of many days . As the last rays of the sun strike  upon the valley the enormous crowd  begin to wend their way  in the direction of the Bridge ; and, crossing  the burn by a series of planks fixed for the occasion are soon in the neighbourhood of the ring . Closely they pack together, and those who are late in arriving, fill up the open space on the hillock behind , from which a splendid vies of the ring can be obtained . How many people there will be present it is difficult to estimate. But they form a mixed crowd. From every part of the district representatives are present and conversation is loud and vigorous on the prospects of the coming fight. Monzie men support Sharp because his mother is a M’Ara ; the Strowan contingent back King  because his sister is married  to the Laird’s coachman ; while the Fowlis men , actuated  by the same motives which impelled  the Ephesian idol makers  to shout – “ Great is Dianna , “ &c., range themselves on the side of Sharp ( Fowlis at this time  was the chief  centre of the riddle- making industry , and King being engaged in this trade in the Bridgend the position of the Fowlis  men is easily understood. ).

Here in this mighty throng what excitement prevails. The spectators behind press forward; those in front press back , and people  roar and cheer  as the names  of favourite sportsmen are shouted across the ring . Good – humoured banter passes  between  the men of Fowlis  and Bridgend – the later indulging in trade references  regarding the “ Celestial City “ and the riddle trade. Monzie  and Monzievaird remind each other of past tussles in the ring  and the hour  for the start comes  quickly upon them. As final preparations  are being made by the referee,, shouts of “ The Broich ,”  “ The Broich, “ are heard  from the top of the hillock , and at that moment the laird , who is a terror to the whole community , is  seen striding over the turnip field in the vicinity of the arena . The two principals secure their  birds , nd make their escape ; the referee remembering the fate of the old poacher , and knowing the dangers of entertaining the Broich preserves , takes to his heels , and the whole crowd follow suit at their utmost speed towards the public highway . Picture the scene if you can . Excited men , startled women , and terrified  children  trip and tumble in their anxiety to escape the clutches of the Laird , and panting  and gasping   like brewery horses , they reach the highway .

The Broich follows leisurely . As he walks  up the street  not even a dog is to be seen , the streets being deserted  as the ruins of Thebes . Doors are barred  and blinds  are drawn – such is the  fear inspired by the appearance of the Laird . Two hours  afterwards  the principals  and several supporters gather  round the Gallows Tree – on the Drummond estate and outside the jurisdiction of the Broich – and there preparatory arrangements  are made  for the fight being fought to the  bitter end . But the referee fails to put in an appearance. On a search being instituted he is found dead drunk round the corner, and the stakes lie in the nearest pub. And so ends the great battle.


Wednesday, 6 March 2013

What a " Relief " - a tale about our religious past and a forgotten Kirk that still stands!

                                              The first Episcopal Church in Lodge Street

The new Relief Kirk aka Crieff Primary School Dining Hall


Crieff's first Baptist Church
                                     The Relief Kirk as depicted in Porteous about 1910

Crieff's unknown buildings !
The Relief Kirk 2012
When future generations  study the social history of Strathearn and particularly the town of Crieff ,  one  specific  thing will no doubt  stand  out as being somewhat  different  from other parts of rural Scotland .  I refer specifically to the incredible  number of places of worship wide  scattered around with many located in the most surprising places. I am no expert in the ecclesiastical idiosyncrasies of our fore fathers but in  the course of a number of  years I have realised that much of what has  been written about the last few centuries fails  to stand up to scrutiny when  one applies the basics of historical analysis .

One associates  religious  discord  as being  a West of Scotland  phenomenon where the  clash of Christian ideologies has tarnished much of  both present and past . Strathearn historically can sadly compete on a similar scale and accounts of disruption and conflict abound throughout the tumultuous centuries that followed the Reformation. The troubles started in this airt in 1559 and had its roots in the Fair City of Perth when Knox ( who had  been ordained as a Catholic Priest) , preached in St Johns Church in the heart of the town . His sermon concerned his opinion about regarding the idolatry of the Mass. In it, Knox spoke of the odiousness of idolatry to God, of God's commandment to destroy all idols, and of the Mass as an abomination to God. Shortly after Knox finished the sermon, a priest attempted to serve a Mass in Perth, erecting an alter with an image upon it. A young boy, so taken back by the scene, cried, "This is intolerable! When God by His Word hath plainly damned idolatry, shall we stand and see it used in despite?" At this, the priest struck the young boy, who retaliated by throwing a stone and breaking the idol. Thereafter, the enraged crowd began breaking all that had to do with idolatry in the town. Tolerance was no longer an option

The multitude became so inflamed that the preachers, magistrates, and nobles could not contain them. Knox refers to this mob that destroyed not only the altar but also three Catholic monasteries in Perth as "the Rascal Multitude" Neither Knox nor the leaders in Perth incited the destruction of churches or monasteries. They believed that “ these remnants of idolatries should be peacefully converted and their churches used for the true and proper worship of God.”

The immediate  post Reformation format of the Scottish Kirk was essentially Episcopalian and not Presbyterian .Immediate post Reformation records  regarding the beliefs and attitudes of Crieff’s parish ministers paint an interesting picture as to what line the good citizens followed in pursuing their faith . Let  us  look briefly at  who these incumbents  were and in what they believed .

Ministers of Crieff Parish Church from the Reformation

1560 : Alexander Christie – Catholic Priest joined Reformed Church- reader in Monzievaird in  1567 .

1563 : Thomas Drummond – probably knew John Knox ( Heavenor )

1572 : Hugh Currie Rector of Crieff could have been Catholic  but pointed out  that titles such as Rector could date back to 1560 “ an elementary but not uncommon error  to believe  that there was any religious significance in the use of such titles .

Everyone  who held office  in the Church  in 1560  continued for the rest  of his life to be designated as he had been in 1560 “

1574 : William Drummond  began his ministry . Probably both William and Thomas  were connected  with Drummond Castle  . The Parish Ministers in those days   often were poor  relations of influential families . William was a contemporary of Andrew Melville At this time Church half Presbyterian and half Episcopalian

1592 : David Drummond was MA of Glasgow Gave up in 1636 and went to Ireland 

1635 : David Drummond ( nephew of  above ) an MA of St Andrews had been his uncle’s assistant . Son of James Drummond  , 5th Laird of Monzie – succeeded to lands of Kincardine and Trytoun and purchased  lands of Callander near Barvick.  These supplied considerable income from tiends towards his stipend .

1638 : National Covenant signed  pledging support  for Presbyterianism .David Drummond  supported  the  but when Civil war broke out he supported Royalists .Called  before Synod to answer charges  that he raised soldiers  for the royalist cause . Charge was proved  and sentence of deposition passed in 1649 . Appealed  but sentence  not lifted . Continued to preach and take stipend . Got  fed up and resigned in 1658 and  became Rector of Omagh in N Ireland .Later was murdered for unknown reason .

1658 : Gilbert Murray an MA of St Andrews succeeded . Claimed he had made  a pact with Drummond  to share the stipend . Presbytery raised matter but Murray  refused to appear  . Probably connected to Murrays of Ochtertyre . Trimmed his sails  according to the religious wind  ! At outset  was  a staunch Presbyterian but became an Episcopalian and allowed  to continue his ministry .

1682  : His son William Murray also an MA of St Andrews appointed  his colleague and successor . Proved  to be  convinced Episcopalian .Lord’s Prayer used in worship and the Doxology was sung by the congregation  and the Apostles’ Creed was repeated at Baptisms – all of these frowned upon by the Presbyterians of the time .

1688 : The “ Revolution”  brought William and Mary to the throne .Murray did  not  support them  and was deposed for reading part of Psalm 118 after the Jacobite victory at Killiecrankie  - “ This is the day God made , in it  we’ll joy triumphantly ”

1690 : Episcopacy  was overthrown and Presbyterianism established officially . Crieff  Church vacant for 9 years ( 1699 )

1699 : Appointment of John Drummond ( Glasgow University ) First problem  was when the Presbytery reported  “ horrid abuse  committed by some persons in the town of Crieff ,by their drinking King James’ health publicly at the Cross and abusing several inhabitants in the town .” Drummond  was asked  to draw up a list of offenders for the attention  of the Queen’s Advocate . Strict Presbyterianism had  arrived and Session Minutes  reflect the discipline  which now prevailed . It  notes “ the frequent profanation  of the Lord’s Day  by unnecessary walking  in the fields , idle talking , bearing of water . taking in of kail and the like “ Elders were asked  to “ take  strict notice  “ of such  infringements  with a view to discipline ” .

1754 : John  Drummond died

1755 : Succeeded by Thomas Stewart

1770 : Stewart suspended for life because of drunkenness which had been reported to them in 1763 .
Over two hundred years of resolute independence and free thinking against the national trend clearly indicates that here in the Strath , the reformed religion very much followed a pattern not dis similar to that of the pre Knox era ! Indeed  the great reformer  must  be blrling in his grave at the behavioural attitudes of the likes  William Murray and  the Drummonds !

As a card carrying member of the Kirk I find  the  outpourings  of the Victorian Presbyterians  totally unacceptable in  a context of today’s World and their distortions of the truth should be acknowledged without hesitation .

Enough of the rant ! Distortions of historical facts concerning matters such as politics and religion are a serious failing. Regrettably scholars of my generation  were subjected to these in a plenty .I recall in particular the attrocious  syllabi which were  presented to students in my vintage school days of yesteryear . Boring and pointless to the extreme they  put off countless numbers  with their failure to deal with matters closer  to home than Caesar’s Gallic Wars or indeed the Battle of Hastings !

I started this little essay with a promise to look at  some of the more obscure places of worship in and around Strathearn . Pictured  above are two buildings  with an interesting pedigree. The first in Lodge Street Crieff was the initial Episcopal Church in the town  before it moved to Perth Road  in a slightly older format than the present occupant ! The other  was , I believe the first Baptist Church in the town located at the junction of Church Street and Cornton Place . The third picture is probably a total mystery to most readers . It is a pic of the old Relief Kirk hidden in comparative obscurity between High Street and Addison Terrace . Last occupied as far back as the 1850s as a church it is a real microcosm of the past . The Relief Church was one of the many Seceder groups  to abandon the established Kirk in the 18th Century . The Crieff congregation were formed when, in 1782, a number of members  took exception to the doctrine  being preached by the incumbent minister the Rev Stirling and  departed  for the newly formed relief Church in Auchterarder . Perhaps it was a reflection on the attitude of the Crieff Kirk  but  Relief  numbers swelled and eventually they determined  to build their church in Crieff . Half an acre of ground was  bought at Gavelbeg near what was called the “ Bogle House “. It was not a great success  perhaps  for its distance  from the  centre of the town . Their  new minister John Baillie found himself  in conflict  with  his congregation  and a period of disharmony resulted in his departure  and  the  arrival of a fresh face in he Rev William Bell . The revitalised congregation determined  to move into the centre of the  town and land was purchased to the rear of Cook’s the saddlers ( oldies  will recall Charlie Farr who ran the business in the 1980s ) and what is now McNees , the excellent deli near the cancer shop . The church continued in this unlikely spot until 1856  under the guidance of the Rev John Martin . It was then decided  to move tpo larger premise  and  ground was purchased at the east end of Commissioner Street . The beautiful little church is  now the Crieff Primary School Dining Hall . But what of the little beut stuck between High Street and Addison Terrace ? Abandoned ! Doors  closed , land locked and forgotten! My pic  above shows  it as it stands in 2012 – a microcosm of the town’s somewhat tempestuous religious past !!