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Weekly Mailing List Archives
28th September 2007

It's your Electric Scotland newsletter meaning the weekend is nearly here :-)

You can view what's new this week on Electric Scotland at and you can unsubscribe to this newsletter by clicking on the link at the foot of this newsletter.

See our Calendar of Scottish Events around the world at 

Electric Scotland News
Scotland on TV
2007 Fall Colloquium at Uni of Guelph
The Flag in the Wind
The Scottish Nation
New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
The Misty Valley (A children's story)
Clan Newsletters
Poetry and Stories
Good Words - Edited by the Rev Norman MacLeod
Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland in 1876
Book of Scottish Story
Reminiscences of Old Scots Folk
History of the County of Bruce

Was told about a survey being conducted in the Scottish American community in the USA so thought I'd pass on details about it....

On behalf of the Scottish American community, the Illinois Saint Andrew Society has commissioned Campbell Rinker, a specialist independent Marketing Research Company that serves the not-for-profit sector, to conduct a survey in order to find out why people join, give to or attend events of Scottish-American organizations. Campbell Rinker will present the results of this survey at the Scottish North American Leadership Conference 26-28 October 2007.

This survey has about twenty questions and will take just a few minutes to complete. You will be able to complete the survey through Sunday October 6 2007. Your responses will be completely confidential and presented only in aggregate form. No one will contact you about your answers. Please encourage your friends in the Scottish American community to take part in this important survey. Your views will help our Scottish organization be more relevant and responsive to the needs of our members and friends.

Please take a moment to click on this link to the Scottish American Survey and share your thoughts:

I might add that I went and completed it and noted it does ask for your zip code. In other words it wouldn't take a postal code. When you do complete the questionnaire they do also ask if you'd complete a few more questions.

I am intending to visit the Fall meeting at the University of Gueph... providing I wake up in time as it's a good 2 hour drive to get there. I'm told over 100 have already booked their place for the meeting so we might even get to 200 on the day :-)

Was in Toronto this week Friday through to Tuesday and got a promotion to Knight Commander (KCTJ) and we all enjoyed an after investiture banquet at the Royal Canadian Military Institute. And talking about food I went out with Harold Nelson and Yanus to an Armenian restuarant and then the next day with Nola Crew and Frank Chen to a Chinese restuarant. Harold and I also took in an Indian curry and so we travelled the world through the food we ate :-)

I plan to start the 4 volume "History of Ulster, From the Earliest Times to the Present Day" by Ramsay Colles published in 1919 next week.

Some of the stories in here are just parts of a larger story so do check out the site for the full versions. You can always find the link in our "What's New" section at the link at the top of this newsletter and pick up poems and stories sent into us during the week from Donna, Margo, Stan, John and others.

Scotland on TV
Visit their site at

So much for autumn being the season of 'mists and mellow fruitfulness' - at the moment it feels like we've gone straight into winter. Still, perhaps we should try warming ourselves up with a ‘wee dram'. The making of malt whisky is something we've been following on Scotland on TV. There's a new episode about to be added - all about distillation and you can find all the episodes at

And talking of food and drink, we've pulled together all of our Scottish Recipes (from home cooks, as well as chefs from some of the best restaurants in Scotland). You can find them all on one page, where each video recipe has a printable version alongside it. Click on this link here and you can see for yourself

So, after all those calories, it's high time for serious exercise! Bring on Scottish Backhold – an historic form of wrestling which originated here in Scotland. The sport is said to be the fighting style which Rob Roy and the MacGregor Clan would have used. We sent video reporter Nigel off to find out more. Mind you, Scotland on TV boss Helen wasn't amused when she discovered that not only did Nigel go along to film it, he took part in it too! (But that's bosses for you!) You'll find the video in the Sport channel

What's that you said? How’s Nigel? Well he was walking rather gingerly around the office the next day, but seems to have recovered now.

This weeks Flag is compiled by Ian Goldie where he is mostly speaking about other political

In Peter's cultural section he talks about books...

This month saw the 500th anniversary (15 September 1507) of the granting of a patent by James IV, King of Scots, to Androw Myllar and Walter Chepman authorising them to set up a printing press in Edinburgh – the first in Scotland. The earliest known output from their press – ‘The Complaint of the Black Knight – is dated 4 April 1508. The National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Printing Archival Trust is jointly promoting the 500th anniversary of this publication in 2008. Please visit for details of the preparation of many events which will be held throughout Scotland to celebrate this historic publication.

The printed word has played a long history in Scotland with the establishment of many leading publishers. Writers such as literary figures from the past Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson down to present day writers such as William McIllvaney and Ian Rankin have provided us with a wealth of reading material. Book reading continues to play a prominent part in Scottish life with Book Festivals proving to very popular. The largest such festival is the August Edinburgh Book Festival but the second largest takes place in the much smaller burgh of Wigtown. Now in its 9th year the Wigtown Festival takes place in Scotland’s officially recognised National Book Town from today Friday 28 September to Sunday 7 October 2007. Tonight the Opening Address will be given by Northern Ireland’s First Minister Rev Ian Paisley in the Wigtown Festival Marquee. The First Minister and a host of Irish writers will reflect this year’s festival theme of peace in Northern Ireland. Visit for full details of this popular festival.

Wigtown was chosen in 1997 as Scotland’s National Book Town from a leet which included Dalmellington, Dunblane, Gatehouse-of-Fleet, Moffat, Strathaven and the winning town, Wigtown, a royal burgh from at least 1292 now houses some thirty book related businesses with new and second-hand books galore.

Wigtown was the county town of Wigtownshire which before local government reorganisation formed the extreme south-west corner of Scotland with a coastline of 120 miles. But this week’s recipe – Pot Roast of Lamb – looks to the rural area of the county, which was most famous for dairy farming, but like the all areas of Scotland had its share of sheep.

Pot Roast of Lamb

Ingredients: 2 lbs neck end lamb, trimmed and cut into bite sized chunks; 2 tbs olive oil; 2 large onions, chopped; 1 clove of garlic, chopped; 1 tin of tomatoes; 1 lb flour; 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary; 1 tin of haricot beans; vegetable stock; salt and pepper

Method: Put half the flour into a plastic bag with the salt and pepper, and add the lamb, shaking until each piece is well coated. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil until smoking, then add the lamb in small batches, making sure each piece has been well browned. Remove the lamb, add more olive oil, then fry the onions and garlic, add the rest of the flour, making sure it has absorbed all the oil. Stir in the stock gradually, making sure the mixture is smooth and free of lumps. Add the tomatoes and bring back to a simmer, then add the lamb and haricot beans. Cook in a covered casserole at 150 degrees for two to three hours. Serve with new potatoes and peas

You can read the Flag, listen to the Scots Language, enjoy the Scots Wit and lots more at

The Scottish Nation
My thanks to Lora for transcribing these volumes for us.

Finished the J's with Jolly and Jones and onto the K's with Kay, Keill and Keith.

Here is how the account of Keith starts...

KEITH, a surname said to be derived from the German tribe of the Catti, which, about the period of the downfall of the Roman empire, inhabited what is now the electorate of Hesse Cassel, the sovereign of which, among other old titles, was called princeps Cattorum. On being driven from their country, a portion of them, in the first century, are traditionally stated to have landed on the coast of Caithness, the most remote and northern district on the mainland of Scotland, to which they gave their name. They are also said to have given their name to the clan Chattan.

In all the accounts of the origin of the Keiths it is recorded that in 1010 Robert, the chief of the Catti, in a great victory which Malcolm II. obtained over the Danes at Barrie in Forfarshire, slew, with his own hand, Camus their leader, when the king, dipping his fingers in the blood of the fallen general, drew three perpendicular strokes on the upper part of Robert’s shield, whence his descendants bear three pallets, gules, on a chief. Malcolm also created him heritable great marischal of Scotland, and bestowed on him several lands in East Lothian, still called Keith, the ancient name Catti, in process of time changed to Keithi and Keycht, being at length softened into Keith. According to Sir Robert Sibbald, (Hist. of Fife, p. 94, edit. 1803,) he also got the isle of Inchkeith in the Firth of Forth, which likewise took its name from him. Their alleged descent from the Catti appears to be only one of the fictions of the early chroniclers. The name Keith seems to be the British Caeth, ‘confined or narrow,’ and is supposed to allude to the strait channel hemmed in by the steep banks of Keith water. It is certain that the descendant of Robert, in the reign of David I., Herveus, son of Warin, possessed half of the district of Keith in East Lothian, which was called from him Keith Hervei, and afterwards Keith Marischal. He was a witness to charters of David I., particularly to that of his grant of Annandale to Robert de Burs. His son, Herveus de Keith, king’s marischal under Malcolm IV. and William I., witnessed several charters of the latter, from 1189 to 1196. He had a son, Malcolm de Keith, witness to a donation to the monastery of Kelso in 1185, who predeceased him, leaving two sons, Philip and David.

Philip, the elder son, great marischal of Scotland, succeeded his grandfather, and died before 1220. By his marriage with Eda, granddaughter and heiress of Symon Fraser of Keith Hundeby, (now Humbie) proprietor of the other half of the district of Keith, he acquired the whole barony of that name.

His son, Herveus de Keith, and his uncle David, acted as joint marischals of Scotland at the marriage of Alexander II. and the princess Joan of England, at York, on 15th June 1220. He died soon after 1242. His son, Sir John de Keith, great marischal of Scotland, died before 1270.

Towards the close of the 13th century persons of the name of Keith had become very numerous in Scotland. One of them, Sir William Keith of Galston in Ayrshire, in 1318, when the Scots surprised Berwick, and a number of the garrison and inhabitants had made a sally from the castle, repulsed them with great valour. In 1330 he was one of the knights who accompanied the Douglas to Spain on his expedition to Palestine, with the heart of Robert the Bruce. Three years later, he commanded in Berwick, and in 1335, was ambassador to England; but the following year he was killed at the siege of Stirling.

Sir John de Keith’s grandson, (the son of his eldest son,) Sir Robert de Keith, great marischal of Scotland, was one of the most illustrious knights of his day. In 1300 he was a prisoner in Cumberland, and in 1305 one of the commissioners chosen by the Scots people for the settlement of the government, as well as appointed a justiciary beyond the Forth. On 26th October 1305, he was one of the guardians of Scotland. In 1308 he joined the standard of Bruce, and distinguished himself at the battle of Inverury, where Comyn of Badenoch was defeated, for which he got a grant of several lands, and particularly a royal seat in Aberdeenshire, called Hall Forest. In 1314, on the approach of the English army under Edward II., to Falkirk, previous to the battle of Bannockburn, Sir Robert Keith and Sir James Douglas were despatched by Bruce to reconnoitre them upon their march. In the battle which followed he had the command of a strong body of cavalry. In Scott’s ‘Lord of the Isles,’ after describing Bruce’s battle array and the position of the right wing under Edward Bruce, he says,

“Behind them, screened by sheltering wood,
The gallant Keith lord marshal stood;
His men-at-arms bear mace and lance,
And plumes that wave, and helms that glance.”

To Sir Robert Keith was committed the important charge of attacking the English archers, which he did so effectually, by making a circuit to the right, and assailing them in flank, that he threw them into disorder, creating a confusing from which the English army never recovered, and thus contributing greatly to the signal victory which secured the throne to the heroic Bruce. He was one of the magnates Scotiae, who signed the famous letter to the Pope in 1320, asserting the independence of Scotland. He was one of the commissioners to treat with the English, and a guarantee of the truce concluded with them in 1323. He had from Robert the Bruce a charter of the lands of Keith Marischal, of the office of great marischal of Scotland, &c., to himself and his nearest heirs male, bearing the name and arms of Keith, dated at Berwick-on-Tweed, 7th November 1324; and so high did he stand in the confidence of that monarch, that, in April 1326, he was nominated one of the commissioners to ratify an alliance with the French king, Charles le Bel, at Corbeuil, but does not seem to have gone to France. He witnessed charters of Robert the Bruce in 1328 and 1329, and was slain at the fatal battle of Dupplin, 12th August 1332, when Edward Baliol surprised the royal army under the earl of Mar, and put it to a complete rout. He had a son, Sir John de Keith, who died before his father, leaving a son, Robert, who succeeded his grandfather, and besides being great marischal, was also sheriff of Aberdeen. He fell at the battle of Durham, 17th October 1346, where Edward de Keith and Edmund de Keith, brothers, belonging to a different family, were also slain.

You can read the rest of this entry at

You can read the other entries at 

New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
Have made a start at this huge publication which will likely be with us for a few years. The first volume I am dealing with is the one on Aberdeen. There are some 85 parishes in this volume and a write up on each.

This week have added...

Parish of Peterhead at

Here is how the account of Peterhead starts in relation to its Civil History...

Peterhead is mentioned in various acts of the Scottish Parliament. The original charter of erection has been published. It is a very distinct deed, and shows the commencement of the burgh of barony, and the vocations of the original inhabitants.

Account of the Parish.—The late Dr William Laing, of the Episcopal chapel of Peterhead, published, in 1793, "An Account of Peterhead, its mineral wells, air, and neighborhood." The Statistical Account of Dr Moir was published in 1795. In 1815, the late James Arbuthnot, Junior, Esq. published "An Historical Account of Peterhead, from the earliest period to the present time, comprehending tin account of its trade, shipping, commerce, and manufactures; mineral wells, baths, &c. with an Appendix containing a copy of the charter of erection," &c. In 1819, Mr Peter Buchan published "Annals of Peterhead," containing the same information as Mr Arbuthnot's account, with such additional matter as he had been able to collect.

Historical Notices.—The Earls Marischall had their chief residence at Inverugie Castle, on the opposite side of the Ugie, in the parish of St Fergus; but a large portion of the parish of Peterhead was embraced in their estates. It would be out of place here to enter into a historical account of that ancient family, which will be found in the general history of Scotland. The founder of Peterhead was also the founder of Marischall College, Aberdeen. The last Earl forfeited his estates in 1715, in consequence of his adherence to the family of Stuart. The Pretender landed at Peterhead in December 1715. The inhabitants were attached to the Marischall family, and in general embraced their views; and, in consequence, they on that occasion espoused the claims of the house of Stuart.

There have been six Presbyterian ministers since the Revolution, viz. Mr Guthrie, Mr Brown, Mr Farquhar, Mr Walker, Dr George Moir, and the present incumbent, Mr Donald. Two of them, Mr Brown and Mr Farquhar, left Peterhead, and were settled, the former at Belhelvie, and the other at Chapel of Garioch.

Land-owners—The present heritors of the parish are, the Governors of the Merchant Maiden Hospital of Edinburgh; Mrs Gordon of Boddam and Sandford; George Skelton of Invernettie Lodge; George Arbuthnot of Invernettie; William Arbuth-not of Dens and Downie-hills; Dr Cruickshank of Little Cock-law; George Mudie of Meethill; Thomas Arbuthnot of part of Meethill; James Sangster, part of Invernettie; Kenneth M'In-tosh, part of Invernettie; Charles Brand, part of Invernettie; William Donaldson of Cowhills; William Gamack, part of Invernettie; Robert Arbuthnot of Mount Pleasant and Blackhouse; George Walker of Balmoor; Mrs Walker's Trustees, part of Balmoor; Robert Walker, Senior, Grange; Robert Walker, Junior, Richmond; Alexander Stuart, Coplandshill; the Heirs of James Hutchison of Richmond; the Trust-Disponees of Mrs Hay Mudie of Meikle Cocklaw; the Trustees of the late Peter Hay of Hayfield; James Shirras of Berryhill; Robert Mayor of Windy-hills; the Heirs of James Reid of Ellishill; and Roderick Gray, part of Blackhill.

Antiquities.-—There are two old castles in the parish, Ravens-crag and Boddam. Ravenscrag, in the barony of Torterston, is said to have belonged to the family of Keith, who afterwards acquired the lands of Inverugie by marriage. It is a fine ruin and specimen of an old baronial castle. The walls are in some places eleven feet thick. It is supposed to have been built in the eleventh or twelfth century. Boddam Castle was the residence of a branch of the Marischall family: but it is not so ancient as Ravenscrag. Within the last twenty years various antiquities have been discovered within the parish of Peterhead and its immediate neighbourhood. On the estate of Cairngall, in the adjoining parish of Longside, two oak coffins or chests were discovered on removing a tumulus of moss. One of them was entire, the other was not. They had been hollowed out of solid trees, and measured each seven feet by two feet. The sides were parallel, and the ends were rounded, and had two projecting knobs to facilitate their carriage. The bark of the trees of which they had been formed remained on them, and was in the most perfect state of preservation. No vestige of bones was found in either of them. They had been covered over with slabs of wood, and lay east and west, which indicated they had been used as coffins; but the absence of bones or other human remains is difficult to be accounted for. In the parish of Cruden, in a little hill, about four feet below its apex, a stone crypt or sarcophagus was discovered, containing a considerable portion of two human skeletons; the one that of an adult, the other of a young person, perhaps of twelve or thirteen years of age; and also part of the skeleton of a dog; two clay urns, (a larger and a lesser one,) rudely ornamented with bars or hoops scratched around the outside of them; seven flint arrow points; two flint knives, (one of them considerably worn); a polished stone about four and one-fourth inches in length, neatly drilled through its four corners, and slightly concave on the one side, and convex on the other. It is probable the polished stone had been applied to the centre of the bow, to secure a more accurate discharge of the arrow. A neck chain and battle-axe were dug out of a tumulus near to the place in the parish of Cruden, where it is supposed that Malcolm II. and Canute fought a severe battle, and where many tumuli were formerly to be seen. The neck chain is formed of jet and amber. The jet beads retain their original polish. The lower bead measures about four inches, the others from two and a half inches to one inch. These beads were separated from one another by little formless masses of amber, covered with a brown crust; but otherwise the amber was unchanged, unless that it may have been more brittle. The battle-axe is formed of black flint. It is about seven inches long, and is less heavy than those generally found; most of which are formed of granulated stones, and are larger and weightier than the one above alluded to. The necklace had no doubt adorned the person of some Scandinavian chief.

A pewter flagon, of no inelegant shape, and capable of holding nearly a Scotch pint, was discovered in cutting a deep water course through a peat bog. The metal was considerably oxidized. From the form of the flagon antiquaries suppose it to have been in use about the time of James IV. or V. of Scotland. A small shot of malleable iron was dug out near the base of Ravenscrag Castle. It is one inch and three-quarters in diameter, and is the second one found near the same place. It is supposed that it had been discharged from a wall-piece, and that the wall-piece had been fired from the Castle of Inverugie, on the opposite side of the river. These antiquities are noticed here in consequence of having been investigated by Mr Arbuthnot, and a record of them preserved in his musuem.

You can read the rest of this account at

On the index page of this volume you can see a list of the 85 parishes and also a map at

The Misty Valley
By Margo Fallis

A new children's story from Margo which is in three books and is a Halloween story which of course comes in at an appropriate time of the year :-)

We have now completed the first book and made a start at the second which you can read at

Clan Newsletters
Added the Clan Leslie newsletter for Oct, Nov, Dec 2007 at

Got in some additional Clan History of the Clan Montgomery at

Added the 24th September 2007 Update for the Scottish Clans DNA Project at

Poems and Stories
John sent in a doggerel, Fan Fashed .... When Stressed at

Got in a gardening article, 2007, A Lazy Gardening Year at

Donna sent in an article about Actress Kateri Walker Tries to Save Old Native American Boarding School at

Donna sent in an article, Bulldozer, Not Bull Dozer, A Sleeping Bull at

Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Kent, Ontario.
Kindly typed in for us by Nola Crewe

Leitch, Daniel at
McKenzie, Murdoch at

Other biographies of this area can be read at

Good Words - 1860 Edition
Edited by Rev. Norman MacLeod

You should note that as this is a weekly publication you'll find larger articles are continued week by week.

This week have added articles on...

A Visit to the Irish Poor (Pages 105-106)
Lady Sommervilles Maidens (Pages 107-110)
Doctor Sparrow (Pages 110-111)
The Christian's God Paid the Debt (Page 112)
"I did this for Thee! What hast Thou done for Me?" (Page 112)

Here is Doctor Sparrow for you to read here...


I DO not mean a doctor whose name was Sparrow, but a sparrow who was called doctor, yea, doctor of divinity, and that by a very competent judge and authority, even by Martinus Luther, to whom the Germans almost invariably give the title of Teacher, and who, doubtless, may stand for a whole faculty. When the great Wittenberg Reformer saw once a sparrow, (history does not record whether it was in summer or on a snowy winter's day,) he exclaimed: "Thou art my dear doctor of divinity, for thou teachest me God's power, and goodness, and wisdom, and His wonderful providence." No doubt, he thought of Christ's words: "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father." And again: "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them."

I have read a very plain and forcible exposition of these words, illustrating Luther's thought, that the sparrow is a dear doctor of divinity. I read it in a devotional work, written by a Roman Catholic priest in the south of Germany. Thou wilt not detect any Popery in it, but perhaps the homelieness and quaint humour may appear strange to thee; it is their way, and I am not sure but that, if kept within certain bounds, it is permissible, and sometimes useful. The preacher says:—

Just look at the sparrow; you would think he was a very insignificant creature, with his plain coat, and short leather pantaloons, He cannot sing beautifully, has a small brain, and little sense or skill. Other birds go on travel, and see strange countries, but he remains summer and winter in the village. Other birds build beautiful nests, artful in their way, as the greenfinch and the swallow, but he, instead of building for himself, intrudes into other honest people's houses. And because he does not understand anything, and is not able to sing, people think nothing of him whatever, and don't feel their conscience burdened when they have killed him. And yet I never heard that a sparrow died of melancholy, or committed suicide, or was troubled with care and anxiety for the future. And he is right, for though he is but a clown as compared to the swallow, and men sell him for half a farthing, yet there is One who cares for him, and gives him, day by day, what he needs. You think this a trifle, but let us just calculate the expenses of a sparrow.

1. His aliment. He requires his breakfast and dinner every day, though it be but a few grains of wheat, or an incautious beetle, or a sausage of a caterpillar. And in winter, when the snow has been falling for days, and everything is white, the little sparrow is hungry as usual, and. begins to lift up his voice, unmusical as it is, and wants his daily bread. Where is he to get it ? He cannot dig, and to beg he is ashamed, and for the little that is to be gathered here and there, there is such lively competition; the finch and goldhammer, and the greedy raven, are all stronger than he. Yet, notwithstanding all these difficulties, the sparrow is not allowed to starve a single day of the year; nay, he is so free from care, that he is quite giddy and gay.

2. Clothing. The sparrow is just like other folk, he likes to be dressed according to the newest fashion. And there is no child dressed better by his mother than our friend. Warm in winter, and not too hot in summer. Has he not a tail-coat with brown stripes? Does he not parade in short silken trousers, like a courtier or one of the superior clergy? Has he not beautiful half-boots of red morocco, and are they not brushed and shining, though he has no valet? And did you never look at the velvet-cap on his head? His dress does not lose its colour, though he does not trouble himself with a parasol or umbrella. In spring and autumn he gets new clothes; in spring he loses the thick winter feathers, and in autumn the light summer's dress. He throws his old clothes away; he does not sell them to the Jew, scorns such an idea, for he is as gay as a young comedian. Why, a coachman or servant gets a livery but once in two years, but the sparrow twice in one year, and has neither to drive nor serve. And how everything fits him! He looks very differently from the shopkeeper, whose new coat has been spoilt by the Parisian tailor in our village, or the soldier, who must wear a uniform not made for him; his clothes fit as if he had been born in them; and yet he is only a sparrow, and among friends and brothers worth only half a farthing.

3. His education. Such a sparrow has, by nature, a weak and unsteady head, and, as is the case with some students, no patience and perseverance. For this reason, he is extremely ignorant. But he requires wisdom; for the cat, the owl, the marten, the hens, the boys, are all after him, as if he was a gipsy and vagabond.

Now, who teaches him to defend himself against these enemies, so superior to him in talent? God himself is his teacher, and has given him his instructions: when a man or boy approaches, even within ten feet, then fly away; a cat you may allow to come a little nearer, but don't take your eye from her; but a hen, who interferes with you when they strew corn, you need not mind at all, only leap a little to one side.

And now, think not that I have been merely trying to amuse you, but my intention is very serious. God, who has created heaven, and earth, and the sea, has made all things full of beauty, in order that men and angels should consider and admire it. For the whole visible world is a large Bible, full of parables, allegories, and doctrines, and everything in it has its deep significance.

The stars of heaven, the beautiful white cloud in the dark-blue sky, the evening red, the storm, and the gentle breath of blossom-fragrance in the morning, the summer sun like a sea of fire, and the still stars in clear winter's night, the roll of the thunder, and the chirp of the cricket—in all this' there is more than the eye sees and the ear hears. And the dark mountain forest, and the sturdy oak, and the poplar near the mill-stream, the hedge of thorns, the vine and the cornfield, the flowers of the field, the modest violet and fragrant rose— these are not merely for man's use and pleasure, but letters of a mysterious, wonderful work, written by God, and they express Divine thoughts. And the roe with its gentle eyes, the nightingale in the wood, the lizard and the hornbeetle, the blind-worm and the tiny midges; all living things are not merely to eat, and drink, and. grow, and die—they are living, walking, and flying writings of the Creator. They were written before there were men to read them, in order that after man's creation, he might immediately begin to learn and spell, as you have seen a schoolmaster write on the black board before the children assembled, so as not to lose any time, but to be able to begin his instructions at once.

But men have lost by sin their understanding of this language, and think that what exists is merely for food, and fuel, and clothing. Therefore God sent His own Son into the world, even Him by whom all things were made; and Jesus is our teacher, shewing us the way to spell, and read, and understand God's writing.

Do not wonder that the Saviour uses such common illustrations. What the Father thought worthy of creation, the Son thought worthy of exposition. So be not too proud to learn from the sparrow, and believe that God is both able and willing to care for the least of His creatures, and to help them in all their troubles, and to provide for all their wants!

You can read the other articles at

Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland
Am adding a variety of articles from this publication and this week have included...

Manual of Agriculture. This is from the 1877 edition and is yet another huge account. Here is how it starts...

Chapter I.—Introduction.

Agriculture, literally, tillage of the ground, is both a science and an art: a science, in so far as its principles are co-extensive with those of chemistry and the cognate physical sciences; an art, in the intelligent direction of these principles to the practical end of best developing the food-producing properties of the soil. The importance of founding the practice of this art in this country upon a more thorough and widely diffused knowledge of its scientific principles will be granted, when it is stated on the best authority, that by a generally thorough cultivation of the soil the annual agricultural products of Great Britain might be doubled in quantity. And it is a fact, that we annually import food from other countries to the value of L.80,000,000 sterling, which fact may, undoubtedly, increase commerce and beget the comity of nations; but at the same time it might leave us in a hazardous position in the event of a sudden political emergency. Agriculture is the oldest of the arts; for we may rest assured that Adam delved, however problematical may be the question whether "Eve span." Amongst the ancient Egyptians, and later, under the Roman Empire, its practice attained a high measure of success, but it rested on a merely empirical basis. Not before the present century has any general scientific knowledge of the laws of nature, which regulate the art, characterised its numerous professors.

Whatever may be the varieties of soil and climate—and these, together with the subsidiary circumstances of available human labour and of markets, may be said to determine the particular mode of agriculture suitable for any locality,—the great fundamental laws, in conformity with which alone is truly successful practice possible, are comprised in the physical sciences following:—viz., Chemistry, Botany, Geology, Animal Physiology, and Meteorology. The last, to reverse the order, under the simple name of "weather," is a subject of interest, scientific or otherwise, to every farmer. It teaches a system of forecast of weather changes. Forewarning is forearming; and by adjusting farm operations accordingly, great loss is avoided. Animal Physiology treats of the bodily structure and the functions of the bodily organs of our domesticated animals; and in that department of it we earn the general treatment best fitted to ensure their healthy procreation and profitable development. Geology has to do with the formation and nature of the Earth's crust, the forces which have been at work in preparing it for its present condition, and those at present affecting its modification. In its relation to agriculture, it reveals to the farmer the various compositions of soils, and their derivation, and it gives him practical hints upon drainage operations. Botany, in its bearing upon agriculture, teaches the systematic classification of the various plants scattered over the face of the globe, their native localities, the variety of soil and climate best suited to the cultivation and growth of individual plants, and their internal structure, and modes of reproduction and growth. Chemistry—the grammar, so to speak, of all the physical sciences—acquaints us with the primary original materials of earth, air, and water, and consequently of all animal and vegetable life. As being the most fundamental of all the physical sciences bearing upon agriculture, its consideration in that relation comes naturally first.

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Book of Scottish Story
Kindly sent in to us by John Henderson

The Book of Scottish Story
Historical, Humorous, Legendary, Imaginative
by Standard Scottish Writers Published by Thomas D. Morison, 1896

This week we have the stories of...

How I won the Laird's Daughter by Daniel Gorrie
Moss-Side by Professor Wilson

Here is how Moss-Side starts...

Gilbert Ainslie was a poor man; and he had been a poor man all the days of his life, which were not few, for his thin hair was now waxing gray. He had been born and bred on the small moorland farm which he now occupied; and he hoped to die there, as his father and grandfather had done before him, leaving a family just above the more bitter wants of this world. Labour, hard and unremitting, had been his lot in life; but, although sometimes severely tried, he had never repined; and through all the mist and gloom, and even the storms that had assailed him, he had lived on from year to year in that calm and resigned contentment which unconsciously cheers the hearthstone of the blameless poor. With his own hands he had ploughed, sowed, and reaped his often scanty harvest, assisted, as they grew up, by three sons, who, even in boyhood, were happy to work along with their father in the fields. Out of doors or in, Gilbert Ainslie was never idle. The spade, the shears, the plough-shaft, the sickle, and the flail, all came readily to hands that grasped them well; and not a morsel of food was eaten under his roof, or a garment worn there, that was not honestly, severely, nobly earned. Gilbert Ainslie was a slave, but it was for them he loved with a sober and deep affection. The thraldom under which he lived God had imposed, and it only served to give his character a shade of silent gravity, but not austere; to make his smiles fewer, but more heartfelt; to calm his soul at grace before and after meals, and to kindle it in morning and evening prayer.

There is no need to tell the character of the wife of such a man. Meek and thoughtful, yet gladsome and gay withal, her heaven was in her house; and her gentler and weaker hands helped to bar the door against want. Of ten children that had been born to them, they had lost three; and as they had fed, clothed, and educated them respectably, so did they give them who died a respectable funeral. The living did not grudge to give up, for a while, some of their daily comforts for the sake of the dead ; and bought, with the little sums which their industry had saved, decent mournings, worn on Sabbath, and then carefully laid by. Of the seven that survived, two sons and a daughter were farm-servants in the neighbourhood, while two daughters and two sons remained at home, growing, or grown up, a small, happy, hard-working household. Many cottages are there in Scotland like Moss-side, and many such humble and virtuous cottagers as were now beneath its roof of straw. The eye of the passing traveller may mark them, or mark them not, but they stand peacefully in thousands over all the land; and most beautiful do they make it, through all its wide valleys and narrow glens— its low holms, encircled by the rocky walls of some bonny burn—its green mounts, elated with their little crowning groves of plane-trees—its yellow corn-fields—its bare pastoral hill-sides, and all its heathy moors, on whose black bosom lie shining or concealed glades of excessive verdure, inhabited by flowers, and visited only by the far-flying bees. Moss-side was not beautiful to a careless or hasty eye; but, when looked on and surveyed, it seemed a pleasant dwelling. Its roof, overgrown with grass and moss, was almost as green as the ground out of which its weather-stained walls appeared to grow. The moss behind it was separated from a little garden, by a narrow slip of arable land, the dark colour of which showed that it had been won from the wild by patient industry, and by patient industry retained. It required a bright sunny day to make Moss-side fair, but then it was fair indeed; and when the little brown moorland birds were singing their short songs among the rushes and the heather, or a lark, perhaps lured thither by some green barley-field for its undisturbed nest, rose ringing all over the enlivened solitude, the little bleak farm smiled like the paradise of poverty, sad and affecting in its lone and extreme simplicity. The boys and girls had made some plots of flowers among the vegetables that the little garden supplied for their homely meals; pinks and carnations, brought from walled gardens of rich men farther down in the cultivated strath, grew here with somewhat diminished lustre; a bright show of tulips had a strange beauty in the midst of that moorland ; and the smell of roses mixed well with that of the clover, the beautiful fair clover that loves the soil and the air of Scotland, and gives the rich and balmy milk to the poor man's lips.

You can read the rest of this story at

The index page of the book where you can read the other stories is at

Reminiscences of Old Scots Folk
By T. Ratcliffe Barnett (1913)

I might add there are a number of interesting wee colour pictures in this publication. As it says in the book title...


I have now completed this book with...

Chapter XVII - The Laird's Loft
Chapter XVIII - The Daft Days
Chapter XIX - An Old Coaching Inn
Chapter XX - The Grey Mother
Chapter XXI - The Hinmost Sleep

Here is how "The Laird's Loft" starts...

GREAT PRIDE OUGHT EVERY SCOT TO have in the village of his birth, and to the auld-farrant, steep-braed village of Kilbarchan my mind and heart go back whenever I think of the laird's loft.

The old parish kirk stands still at the bieldy back of the town, with the graves of gentles and simples all about it. But it is stripped of all its ancient glory, for a brand-new house of God has been built but a stone's-throw from it; and as I look at the kirk of 1724, with its quaint tower, its old ivy-covered outside stair, and its little-paned windows winking in the sun, I am minded that this is the true successor of that cell of St. Barchan, Bishop and Confessor, which Walter Fitz-Alan, High Steward of Scotland, gave to the Abbey of Paisley in the days which are now hiding ahint a whole gowpen of centuries.

In this old kirk, with its ancient pews and galleries, the thing that struck the eye of childhood was the ken-speckle wooden shields, emblazoned with the arms of the great families of the district. These shields were hung over the front of the three galleries, where the local lairds had their seats. I can see them yet, after all these years, in this and in many another old country parish kirk in Scotland—the great wide, room-like gallery pew, with table and chairs all set out in a row, and a little door at the back of the loft where the Lord of the Lairdship could enter and leave with his family whenever he liked. To that door at the back of the laird's loft the little stone iron-railed outside stair led up, and close by the found of the stone stair in the kirk-yard was the laird's own family vault, so that when he climbed the stair to his own loft on a Sunday he was aye minded of man's mortality, and of his own in particular.

For there were many namely lairds who sat in the lairds' lofts in the old kirk of Kilbarchan: the Knoxes of Ranfurly, out of whose ancient family came John Knox himself, the great Reformer of the Kirk, and Andrew Knox, who took the other side, and became a Bishop of the Isles; the Dundonald family, with the Hamiltons of Holmhead and Crawfords of Auchinames; Napiers of Milliken, of the old stock of Napier of Merchiston, famed as landed gentry from the time of Alexander the Third, and in later days for logarithmic inventions ; Wallace of Elderslie; Houston of Johnstone; Cunninghame of Craigends—all the seancient lords and lairds in olden times had their faith confirmed in Kilbarchan kirk, and hung their escutcheons over the front of their lofts in the old galleries. To the bairns of a past generation it whiles seemed unfair that the high folks in the lofts should have these bonny painted panels all to themselves, for a few of the old armorial shields still remained. But the laird's loft, like everything old in this ancient land, was but the grand consummation of what had taken centuries to grow out of a very modest beginning.

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You can get to the index page where you'll find the other stories to read at

The History of Bruce County
By Norman Robertson, published in 1906

This week sees us adding histories of the various townships and villages...

Township of Amabel
Township of Albemarle
Township of Eastnor
Township of Lindsay
Township of St. Edmund

Which you can see at

Here is how the "Township of Amabel " chapter starts...

"Amabel''—''Named after Lady Amabel, sister of Lord Bury and wife of Sir Edmund W. Head—Lord Bury seems to have imposed his family names on the peninsula"—"Nothing but Names."

Extract from the Report or County Valuators, 1879.

"Amabel.—There is a considerable amount of ordinary land on the south side of this township, the north side is mostly rock, interspersed with lakes and swamps; the east end is wet, sandy land; the west end sandy hills. It has a considerable amount of village property. Its average price is $11.58."

Extract from the Report of County Valuators, 1901.

"This is the most southern township of what is now known as the Bruce Indian Peninsula. While there are a number of very good farms in this township, the large majority are the reverse. There is a great deal of rock from the 10th concession north, and thousands of acres are almost valueless, indeed, as you will observe by our figures, that a large number of lots are set down as of no use whatever at present, and no prospective value. The northwestern part is sand and considerable of it hilly; it is almost unproductive and has a deserted appearance. A great many of the small habitations being unoccupied, people have existed on these lots so long as the timber lasted, after which they got up and left them. We see no bright future for this section.

"There are a few hundred acres about two miles south-west of Wiarton as good as any we have come across in the county. The soil of the southern half of the township is fairly good, but a great deal of it is hilly, and roads are hard to make on this account. Amabel is well watered, the Sauble River enters at the south-east and merges with the waters of Lake Huron at the north-west. There are a number of other small streams that give an abundant supply for stock, etc.

"The rate per acre for this township is $13.26; of this sum the village property amounts to $1.21 per acre."

Following the chapter on the Indian Peninsula it seems appropriate, in taking up the history of each municipality in the county separately, to commence with those situated in the Peninsula; which arrangement the author will proceed to carry out, commencing with the most southerly of them, the township of Amabel.

As stated in the preceding chapter, this township was surveyed in 1855, and the lands therein offered for sale, September 2nd, 1856, by auction at Owen Sound. Unfortunately for the development of the township, large tracts of land were purchased at this sale by speculators, with the result that it was a long time before the effects were overcome of the mistaken policy which had permitted lands to be sold without conditions of actual settlement being attached.

David Forsyth is credited with being the first settler in the town-ship, he having squatted on some land near Elsinore before the Land Sale. The next settler was James Allen, [James Allen came from the north of Ireland in 1832, when a boy six years of age, with his parents, who settled in Peterboro' County. In 1850 he moved to the county of Grey and was reeve of the township of Holland for a year or so. As stated above, he settled in Amabel in April, 1857. He took an active part in municipal affairs, filling the office of reeve of the united townships of Amabel and Albemarle for the years 1867, 1868, 1869, and after the separation of the townships was reeve of Amabel from 1870 to 1879, inclusive, and also for the years 1884, 1886, and 1887. The fact that for sixteen years he filled the highest position in the township tells its own tale as to the merits and popularity of Mr. Allen. He died April 4th, 1895, aged 69.] who settled on lots 9 and 10, concession A, in April, 1857. The village of Allenford which developed there preserves the name of its founder. The settlement of the township along the south and south-eastern parts was made as rapidly as could be expected when remembering that large blocks of land were held by speculators.

The first to take up land in the vicinity of Colpoy's Bay was William Bull, [Mr. Bull was a native of Essex, England, where he was born September 17th, 1823. He came to this country in early life and was married at Ottawa, in 1844, to Ann Barward. Moving to the county of Perth, he first tried his hand at farming, giving it up to teach school at Mitchell, and later at Owen Sound. In the spring of 1857 he settled near Colpoy's Bay, on the twenty-fifth concession of Amabel, the pioneer settler of that part of the township. Mr. Bull was the first clerk and treasurer of Amabel, filling the first-named office for nineteen years, from 1861 to 1879, and the office of treasurer from 1861 to 1867. The Government engaged Mr. Bull to make the first revaluation of lands in the peninsula. In 1882 Mr. Bull received the appointment of Indian Agent at Cape Croker, which office he held until the time of his death, which occurred May 17th, 1884.] who settled in the spring of 1857 north of Wiarton, on the boundary line betwixt Amabel and Albemarle.

In the fall of the same year he had as a neighbor Alexander Greig, who settled on lot 14, concession 25. As he was one of the first to settle in that part of the township, and as his experience was also that of many who settled in that vicinity, the following narrative, based on a sketch written by himself some years prior to his death, is here given: Alexander Greig was born in Scotland in 1832 and came out to Canada with his bride in 1857. He was present at the Land Sale held at Owen Sound in September, 1857, and purchased the lands he subsequently occupied, both in Amabel and Albemarle. Going back to Collingwood, where his household effects were, and securing necessary supplies, he and his wife sailed from there by schooner for Colpoy's Bay. Great was his surprise and disappointment to find, on his arrival, that Wiarton existed only in name. Finding a deserted surveyor's shanty, the women of his party were placed therein for shelter. The only settler in the locality was William Bull, but as he was absent when Mr. Greig and party arrived, the place seemed "a lone, vast wilderness." Following the surveyor's blaze they were enabled to locate their lots. That fall they assisted Mr. Bull in taking up his crop of potatoes, which service Mr. Bull reciprocated by assisting them to cut a road through the bush to their lots. Owing to his inexperience as a woodsman, it took four or five weeks to construct their first shanty.

Some time in the month of October, Ludwick Spragge and his father came in a boat from Owen Sound to Mr. Bull's to fetch his bride to Owen Sound to be married. Mr. Greig took passage with them, with the purpose of securing a stock of supplies for the winter. The return party consisted of Messrs. Greig, Bull, Andrew Horn and William Patton. An overloaded boat and heavy weather resulted in their being shipwrecked on the Keppel side of Colpoy's Bay, and in losing nearly everything they had purchased. Not to be daunted, and also forced by the necessities of the case, Messrs. Bull and Greig built a boat and started in November on a second trip to Owen Sound. They again met with very severe weather, which severely tested their frail craft and their seamanship, and placed them in danger of a second shipwreck. However, they returned to the bay in safety, and by Christmas were comfortably settled for the winter. A big hemlock stood back of the shanty they had erected; a severe storm which visited them about this time threatened to fling to earth this monarch of the forest, and the household were filled with dread lest it should fall on and crush their dwelling. As soon as the weather calmed we started, said Mr. Greig, to "beaver" the hemlock. It was the first big tree any of us had attempted to cut down, and so we worked all around it just as a beaver would do, until it was about to fall. We were beginning to congratulate ourselves as to the result of our labors, feeling sure it would clear the shanty; but as fate would have it, as it fell it struck a stout sapling, which diverted its fall so that it struck the roof of our shanty, breaking it in but doing no damage to the walls. After this accident the house could never be made comfortable, and we had to build another one.

That winter we made a contract with Hugh and William McKenzie to chop five acres. The result was a good object lesson in the work of a backwoodsman. They took us along and showed us how to fell a tree, how to trim off and pile the brush so as to make it fit for burning, besides other things every skilled. woodsman should know. The trees then felled were, says Mr. Greig, the first large trees I ever saw cut down with an axe. By the following midsummer eleven acres were ready for logging, and in the fall of 1858 Mr. Greig thrashed with a flail twenty-five bushels of wheat and ground the same in a coffee mill. The first assessor, T. Roberts, made his rounds in May, 1859. Mr. Greig's assessment was $200 real, and personal property nil. In 1861 he took thirty bushels of wheat to Owen Sound by boat, but to his great disappointment there was no market for it there. He could not sell it for either cash or trade, and had to leave it at a mill to be ground into flour.

The County Council did something that year in opening up the county line, and shortly after a market for grain was established at Owen Sound. About this time a flour mill was erected by Ludwick Kribs at Colpoy's Bay. Unfortunately it lacked a smut machine; as a consequence the flour there ground was mixed with particles of smut, and the bread made from it looked as if it were varnished with black lead. No ill results, however, followed the eating of it. It was in the early sixties before Mr. Greig received cash for any produce grown on his farm, an experience common to all in the early settlement days. After the many hardships endured and overcome Mr. Greig passed away, some forty-five years after he had settled on his bush farm.

The following are the names of those who are credited with having entered the township in the first year of its settlement: James Allen, Thomas Knox and John Griffin, in the vicinity of Allenford; David Forsyth, near Elsinore; James Howe, William Burwash, William Carson, Isaiah Wilmont, John Murray, Andrew and Angus Mcintosh and James Rushton, near Chesley Lake; William Simpson and Henry Lewis, at Parkhead; and as neighbors of Alexander Greig, on the north boundary, William Bull, F. Thompson, Andrew Home, William Patton and James Henderson. The early settlers who came in shortly afterwards were: William White, John and Ed. Loucks, Andrew Kidd, R. Rutherford, Joseph M. Gunn, E. Webster, Thomas Ireland, John Aikens, Robert Fraser, Thomas Cascaden, Edward E. Bolton, Thomas Innis, James Montgomery, S. Nelson, S. Burrows, George Wain, [George Wain was drowned while crossing the Saugeen River on the ice. He was collector of taxes; his roll went with him into the river, and also the team and its load. Weeks after his body and the roll were found. This sad event occurred April, 1864.] Donald McLeod, James Mason, B. Evans, P. Arnott, William Evans, H. Kirkland, E. Blakely, D. Berry, W. Driffel, P. Anderson, Peter Brown, Robert Davis, William Sharp [First postmaster at Allenford.] and Thomas Askin.

The settlement of Amabel Township has been by no means rapid, as the following census returns show: In 1861 the population was 182, in 1871 it was 1,805, in 1881 the number was 3,046; this rose in 1891 to 3,890, but in 1901 a decrease is shown, the population being only 3,587. The paucity of the population throughout the Indian Peninsula for some years after being open for settlement is evidenced by the fact that at the general election of 1867 the only polling booth north of Arran on the Peninsula was at Parkhead.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

And that's all for now and hope you all have a good weekend :-)


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