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Weekly Mailing List Archives
9th November 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
New Advertiser in the Scottish Travel Trade
Scotland on TV
The Flag in the Wind
The Scottish Nation
New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
Good Words - Edited by the Rev Norman MacLeod
Hamish McWallace and the Leprechaun Treasure
Clan Information
Poetry and Stories
Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland in 1876
Book of Scottish Story
History of Ulster
A fisherman’s Reflections on a beautiful but troubled world
Ocean to Ocean, Fleming's Expedition Through Canada in 1872
Sketches of Early Scotch History (New Book)
Historic Places to go in Scotland - Grampian
Knights Templar Brussels Declaration
Sir James Hector

I forgot to mention in my last newsletter that we'd got up the November issue of Beth's Newfangled Family Tree which you can read at

Am I having fun getting my notebook computer into Canada. I got in a letter from Quebec customs saying my computer was there and I need to complete a B15 and pay applicable taxes. So... I had to drive up to Sarnia to do all that. Having done that I emailed the documents to them only to find out they didn't get them. So as I don't have a fax I ended up emailing it to Nola in Toronto and she kindly faxed it to them for me. I now have confirmation they received the fax so hopefully that means I'll get it next week sometime. So that will be around 2.5 months since I ordered it <sigh>.

Those of you that enjoyed Linda Fabiani's weekly diary from the Scottish Parliament should note that now she is a member of the Government she is apparently not allowed to do a public diary. We hope to get a new member of parliament starting with us soon.

I added my Canadian Journal for September/October which you can see at

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.

New Advertiser
We have another new advertiser from Scotland and here is a wee intro they've sent in...

Hello to all Electric Scotland visitors... we are happy to be placing our advert on Electric Scotland, the premier Scottish History site on the web. We are a Scottish company providing the largest listing of Scottish Bed & Breakfast accommodation and what's more we don't charge a booking fee and guarantee the lowest prices!

We are Edinburgh University graduates who started this business to help promote visits to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Our founder, Ed Austin, wanted to promote the Highlands and Islands as a tourism destination but found it hard to find good bed and breakfast accommodation and so the business started.

Today we have greatly expanded our business to all of Scotland and now include Guest Houses, Self catering and Inns. And so if you are looking to touch base with the real people of Scotland then we're here to help. Looking to enjoy a McEwan 80/- ale or a Tenants Lager then we'll find you an Inn where you can enjoy those beers. Just tell us what you're looking for and we'll do our best to help.

You can book online 24/7 and we always offer a personal service.

Should you be visiting Scotland to research your roots and are looking for a good B & B to stay at then if you can't find what you are looking for on our site drop us a note. We'll do our very best to find you good accommodation within a short distance from your area.

Just email me and I'll do as much as I can to assist you.

And so we look forward to hearing from you and being of service.


PS. You can call us direct in Edinburgh on +44 (0)131 228 2550 anytime during UK office hours (0900-1800) and we will be happy to help you! You can visit us at

So there you have it... lots of interesting information to view :-)

Scotland on TV
Visit their site at

Glasgow’s Central Station – a proud witness to Glasgow’s past and present.

Paul Lyons, Control and Information Officer at Glasgow’s Central Station, certainly knows the history of the place he works in! He has at his fingertips a wealth of information about the station’s colourful past - so much so that Scotland on TV has been desperate to get Paul on camera on for weeks.

Well, we’ve done it. Paul gave us such a wealth of information that we’ve decided to turn the interview into a mini-series and the first episode is now ready for viewing.

So, to wet your appetite….Built in 1879, there is much more to Glasgow Central Station than just the rail connection.

- John Fitzgerald Kennedy gave his first official speech at the Station's Manager's Office when he was just 17 years old

- the first long-distance television pictures were transmitted to the Central Hotel in the station by John Logie Baird on the 24th of May 1927

- the station’s glass roof comprises 48,000 panes of glass and is believed to be the biggest glass roof in the world

The history of Glasgow’s Central station is much more than the story of one station – it’s the story of Scotland too! See for yourself by clicking the link below!

Electric Scotland Note: The link is actually to a video about Castle Fraser. By the time I'd noticed it the ScotlandOnTV folks were away for the night.

This weeks Flag is compiled by Richard Thomson and amongst other stories is one about how Scotland gets to celebrate St. Andrews Day.

In Peter's cultural section there is additional commentary about St. Andrews Day....

This feature welcomed the proposal by Alex Salmond while in opposition that Scotland should have a Winter Festival running from St Andrew’s Day (30 November) through Hogmanay (31 December) to Burns’ Day (25 January). Now in power as First Minister Alex Salmond has turned his proposal into reality and the Scottish Government will promote a festival which at the very least will brighten up the worst of the winter months. Alex Salmond launched the initiative at St Margaret’s Primary School last week and said of St Andrew’s Day –

“St Andrew’s Day is a celebration of Scotland at home and abroad. It is a chance to enjoy the multicultural Scotland we have become. But it’s more than an excuse for a party – it’s an opportunity to celebrate our history and talents. You would have to have the most enormous Scottish cringe to believe there is anything wrong with celebrating your own nationality while respecting others. People in Scotland and across the world celebrate their nationality while respecting other people’s identity. It is part of being a self-confident country.”

The new Winter Festival was immediately welcomed by tourism bosses in Scotland who rightly saw it as an opportunity to increase visitor numbers and help boost the economy. Gavin Ellis, chairman of the British Hospitality Association, asserted –

“Any efforts to promote Scotland as a must-do destination in the perceived off-season is to be viewed as a positive move.”

There was, as could be expected in Scotland, some negative reaction from the usual suspects. The suggestion of anything positively Scottish immediately sends a shiver up the collective spine of the Labour opposition in Scotland but over-all the weight of opinion lies with the SNP Scottish Government. The Winter Festival incorporating three important dates in the Scottish calendar should prove to be a winner.

Colder days should be the norm by the time we reach St Andrew’s Day and we welcome the Winter Festival with an appropriate hot dish. Cream of Onion Soup, including Scotland’s favourite food ingredient oatmeal, should help us thole the cold and let us enjoy the many events on offer.

Cream of Onion Soup

Ingredients: 1 large onion, chopped; 1 tablespoon butter or oil; 2 tablespoons medium oatmeal; 500 ml (1 pint) chicken or vegetable stock; 250 ml (1/2 pint) semi-skimmed milk; seasoning

Method: Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the onion and cook until soft but not brown. Add oatmeal and seasoning and cook for a few minutes. Add the stock slowly, stirring all the time. Bring to the boil, cover then simmer for 30 minutes. Liquidise until smooth. Add the milk and heat through. Serve garnished with parsley.

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.

We finished the K's with Kynninmond and now onto the L's with Laidlaw, Lamberton, Lamond and Leith

Here is the account of Lamond / Lamont...

LAMOND, or LAMONT, the name of a small clan of great antiquity in Argyleshire, included under the name of Siol Eachern, and supposed to have been originally of the same race as the Macdougall Campbells of Craignish. According to Highland tradition, the Lamonts were the most ancient proprietors of Cowal, and the Stewarts, the Maclachlans, and the Campbells obtained their possessions in the district by marriage with daughters of that family. Their chief, Lamont of Lamont, has still a portion of their ancient inheritance. The ancestor of the Lamonts is traced by Skene to Angus Macrory, who is said to have been lord of Bute, whose granddaughter, Jean, married in 1242, Alexander, the high steward of Scotland. Between 1230 and 1246 Duncan, son of Ferchar, and his nephew, ‘Laumanus,’ son of Malcolm, granted to the monks of Paisley the lands which they and their predecessors held at Kilmun, and also the church of Killinan or St. Finan, now Kilfinan, which grants were, in 1270, confirmed by Engus, the son of Duncan, and in 1295 by Malcolm, the son and heir of ‘Laumanus.’ In 1456 John Lamond was bailie of Cowal, and in 1466 John Lamond of that ilk and the monks of Paisley had a controversy relative to the right of patronage to the church of St. Finan, when the former renounced it only on the production of the charters granted by his ancestors, but with respect to the lands of Kilfinan it is expressly stated that these lands had belonged to the ancestors of John Lamont; hence, it is evident that the ‘Laumanus’ mentioned in the previous deed must have been one of the number, if not indeed the founder and chief of the family. “From Laumanus,” says Mr. Skene, “the clan appear to have taken the name of Maclaman or Lamond, and previous to Laumanus they unquestionably bore the name of Macerachar and clan ic Earchar. There is one peculiarity connected with the Lamonds, that although by no means a powerful clan, their genealogy can be proved by charters, at a time when most other Highland families are obliged to have recourse to tradition, and the genealogies of their ancient sennaches; but their antiquity could not protect the Lamonds from the encroachments of the Campbells, by whom they were soon reduced to as small a portion of their original possessions in Lower Cowal, as the other Argyleshire clans had been of theirs.” [Skene’s Highlanders, vol. ii., part 2, chap. 4.] About 1463 the lands belonging to Lamont of that ilk fell to the crown by reason of non-entry, and for nearly a century were held by a branch of the family, known as the Lamonts of Inveria. Smibert says, “For the name of Lamont we must either conclude that it originated in some chief of the hills (De Le-Mont) who had gained celebrity in his day and generation, or that it is simply a version of Lomond, near to which lake they dwelt.” [Clans of Scotland, p. 34.]

According to Nisbet, the clan Lamont were originally from Ireland, but whether they sprung from the Dalriadic colony, or from a still earlier race in Cowal, it is certain that they possessed, at a very early period, the superiority of the district. Their name continued to be the prevailing one, till the middle of the 17th century. In June 1646, certain chiefs of the clan Campbell in the vicinity of Dunoon castle, determined upon obtaining the ascendency, took advantage of the feuds and disorders of the period, to wage a war of extermination against the Lamonts. The massacre of the latter by the Campbells, that year, formed one of the charges against the marquis of Argyle in 1661, although he does not seem to have been any party to it. On his arrest at the Restoration, and arrival in Edinburgh, the Laird of Lamont presented a supplication to parliament, craving warrant to cite the marquis and some others, to appear and answer for crimes committed by him and them as specified in the bill given in. His indictment bore that certain of his clan having besieged and forced to a surrender the houses of Toward (the old castle of Toward, now a ruin, being the residence of the chief of the clan Lamont) and Escog, then the property of Sir James Lamont, and having violated the terms of the capitulation on which the surrender was made, “did most treacherously, perfidiously, and traitorously fetter and bind the hands of near two hundred persons of the said Sir James’ friends and followers,” and after detaining them prisoners for several days “in great torment and misery,” did, “after plundering and robbing all that was within and about the said house, most barbarously, cruelly, and inhumanly, murder several, young and old, yea, and sucking children, some of them not one month old.” And again, “The said persons, defendants or one or others of them, contrary to the foresaid capitulations, our laws and acts of parliament, most treacherously and perfidiously did carry the whole people who were in the said houses of Escog and Towart, in boats to the village of Dunoon, and there most cruelly, treacherously, and perfidiously cause hang upon none tree near the number of thirty-six persons, most of them being special gentleman of the name of Lamont, and vassals to the said Sir James.”

An interesting tradition is recorded of one of the lairds of Lamont, who had unfortunately killed, in a sudden quarrel, the son of MacGregor of Glenstrae, taking refuge in the house of the latter, and claiming his protection, which was readily granted, he being ignorant that he was the slayer of his son. On being informed, he escorted him in safety to his own people. When the MacGregors were proscribed, and the aged chief of Glenstrae had become a wanderer, Lamont hastened to protect him and his family, and received them into his house.

Archibald James Lamont, Esq. of Ard Lamont, chief of the clan, born in 1818, son of Major-General John Lamont, m. 1st, Adelaide, daughter of James Hewitt Massy Dawson, Esq.; issue, a daughter; 2dly, Harriet, daughter of Col. Alexander Campbell of Possil; issue, a son, John-Henry, born in 1854, and 4 daughters.

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 Monymusk at
Parish of Meldrum at

Here is a bit about the Antiquities of Meldrum...

Antiquities.—The foundations of a small private chapel, built during the establishment of the Roman Catholic religion in this country, are to be seen on a farm in this parish, which for that reason still retains the name of Chapelhouse. They are surrounded by a place of interment, in which there is the appearance of many graves; and two bodies have been buried there within the memory of the present generation. The baptismal font, (or what tradition declares to be such) remains, and a well inclosed with rude mason-work, which we are given to understand from the same source, was formerly dedicated to the Virgin; it is called to this day the Lady well. During the prevalence of Popery, St Natha-lin was reckoned the tutelary saint of this district. There was a tradition, that when a dreadful pestilence raged in the country, St Nathalin prayed fervently that it might be averted from this parish, going round it on his knees; and the fatal disease never entered within it. A day called St Nathalin's day was for a long period observed in honour of the supposed benefactor,— a proof of the powerful influence of superstition over the mind. Several persons yet alive recollect that, in their early years, St Nathalin's day was still so far attended to that no work was performed on it throughout the parish. Until a very late period, a market-day was held in Old Meldrum annually in the month of January, which was called Nathalin's fair.

About half a mile from the ruins of the chapel lately alluded to, there was found by labourers employed in repairing a road a few years ago, a rude enclosure of stones about 3½ feet under ground; two long stones formed the sides, and two short ones the ends of the enclosure, and the whole was covered by one large broad stone. The space enclosed was 4 feet by 2 feet 6 inches, and it contained an earthen urn, a human scull, and some of the bones of the extremities. Two urns of a similar nature were discovered in the same neighbourhood, not enclosed by stones, but deposited under a rough pavement. The remains of a Roman encampment existed until lately on the farm of Bethelnie; they have now been levelled and the ground is ploughed. The encampment was a very small one, and could only have given lodgement to a detachment from the army. There is still a place of interment at Bethelnie, where the church of this parish formerly stood. Several families have their burial ground in it, and the sepulchral vault belonging to the proprietors of Meldrum is there. The present church is supposed to have been erected about the year 1684; it is consequently an old building, and has an antiquated appearance. In the immediate vicinity of Old Meldrum, there is a place of worship belonging to the Scottish Episcopalians, and in the town, there is another belonging to the members of the United Secession. The town-house and town-hall of Old Meldrum are respectable-looking buildings, sufficiently adapted to the size of the place. The House of Meldrum, which is about a mile distant from Old Meldrum, is a large and elegant mansion, well sheltered and ornamented with wood.

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

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...

Love (168)
A Journey by Sinai to Syria (Pages 169-171)
Latimer in the Pulpit (Pages 172-174)
Faith's Question (Pages 174-175)
Good Words for Every Day of the Year (175-176)

Also added two interesting article from the 1875 edition...

Mary Somerville and
A Legend of Mull

Here is how the account of Mary Somerville starts...

BURNTISLAND lies pleasantly on the northern slope of the Firth of Forth—a place of easy retreat in summer-time for the busy citizens of Edinburgh. Its Links, or commons, sweep away in a long line down the coast, with great patches of furze, that here and there, in due season, gladden the eye with gleams of bright colour. The pressure of modern life has hardly improved it, save perhaps in the matter of tourist accommodation. The railway now disturbs the quiet of the Links, and lines of new houses have sprung up here and there, while picturesque old cottages have disappeared. But some eighty years ago it must have been a very desirable spot to dwell in. Aberdour woods lie not far off; there are other attractive spots within a short walk, notwithstanding that trees are scarce; and Edinburgh, seen across a silver strip of firth —seeming far withdrawn if the sun's heat has brought a misty glow into the atmosphere— tells of easy access to a great centre, and, by curious suggestion, adds to the repose and serenity of the little watering-place.

It was here that one of the most remarkable women of this century spent her strangely inquiring girlhood, meeting with little sympathy where her nature most deeply craved it, her greedy instincts undivined by those nearly related to her ; but still forming herself, all unconsciously, amidst backward circumstances, for the doing of a great work. Mary Somerville owed much to Mary Fairfax—the little girl who wandered all alone by the beach collecting shells, or played among the furze on the Links, or attended to her birds and pets, reflecting all the while on the oddities of character she met with, the sternness of the creed she had been taught at the kirk and the "catechizings," and longing for something she knew not what, which neither her home—-which was a right good one—nor her school had as yet supplied to her; while she would stand gazing for hours, on clear cold nights, at her window watching the stars, whose mysteries she was one day to render clear to others. In these days, to be able to read and write and cast up accounts was deemed even by the elite as fair education for a woman, and not otherwise did Mary Fairfax's parents view it. How she gradually got light from the most unexpected points, and, quietly availing herself of it, was ready for the next piece of good fortune that befell her, is only equalled in interest by the sedate satisfaction which she found in the performance of the ordinary duties of her lot. Her life is in this way all of one piece —hearty, homely, patient, yet aspiring;—the "rights of woman," as claiming to study what is not usually regarded as lying within a woman's sphere, if there be true taste and capacity, and the utmost faithfulness to domestic duties, completely reconciled in it.

She was born in December, 1780, and was the daughter of William Fairfax, a naval officer, who had shown rare capacity in several engagements, and who, for his decision in the action off Camperdown under Admiral Duncan, received the honour of knighthood. He was truly but unobtrusively religious. Once, in a severe storm in Yarmouth Roads, having done all that was possible for the safety of the ship, he went to bed. "His cabin door did not shut closely, from the rolling of the ship, and the man who was sentry that night told my mother afterwards, that when he saw my father on his knees praying, he thought it would soon be all over with him; then seeing him go to bed and fall asleep, he felt no more fear." During Fairfax's absence at sea Burntisland was the permanent place of abode for his wife and children. The deep hold which the quaint, kindly ways of the primitive people took upon little Mary's memory, and the affectionate manner in which she records them in her journal, show how much her imagination must have been touched by the details of her daily girlish life. She naively tells us how ladies still span their own flax; how the passing bell was rung at any death; how penny-weddings were common affairs among the poorer orders; how men and old women of the lower classes smoked tobacco in short pipes, and even young ladies took snuff; and how gaberlunzies, with blue coat and tin badge, still wandered from door to door begging, and carrying with them gossip and news. This gives us a suggestive glimpse:—

"My mother taught me to read the Bible, and to say my prayers morning and evening; otherwise she allowed me to grow up a wild creature. When I was seven or eight years old I began to be useful, for I pulled the fruit for preserving; shelled the peas and beans, fed the poultry, and looked after the dairy, for we kept a cow."

You can read the rest of this account at

You can read the other articles at

Hamish McWallace and the Leprechaun Treasure
by Laura Lagana

We are now on Chapter 10 of this book which you can read at

Clan Information
Added the Dunardry Heritage Association Newsletter for Fall 2007 at

Added the Nov/Dec 2007 newsletter of the Utley Family at

Poetry and Stories
Got in a poem, The Enchantress by William Smith which you can read at

John sent in a doggerel, Twa Speens Spoon, at

and another one, Ma Wee Johnny, at

Added an article about Turning of the Bull Monument which has connections with the Clan Turnbull which you can read at

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

On the Cheviot Breed of Sheep
On the Old and Remarkable Ash Tree in Scotland

Here is how the On the Old and Remarkable Ash Tree in Scotland article starts...

Continuing the catalogue of old and remarkable forest trees in Scotland, initiated by the Highland and Agricultural Society last year, by an exhaustive report on the Spanish chestnuts (Castanca Vesca) of the country at the present day, the subject of this—the second chapter of the hitherto imperfectly written literature and record of our old trees—is the Ash. Probably next to the sycamore, if not equally with it, no tree has been more generally planted in Scotland than the ash (Fraxinus excelsior). By many it is considered to be indigenous to the country. Loudon evidently thought so; but another authority repudiated the idea, and based his conclusions upon the circumstance, that in no instance have any traces of the remains of ash trees been found in any of the peat-bogs or morasses from which, from time to time, roots and stumps of former sylva have been exhumed, nor in any deep excavations made in other soils, nor in the timbers of old buildings in Scotland. This argument, however, is easily met by the objection, that in none of such situations is it the least likely that ash tree timber would be found. In the first place, it is well known that in peat-bog soil or wet morasses ash will not grow; in the next place, the nature of the tree is to throw out shallow or surface-feeding roots, so that it could not be looked for in deep excavations; and, as to its use for constructive purposes, its wood is quite unsuited for such purposes, and too valuable for use in other respects, as, for example, for agricultural implements and tools, to admit of its being used for beams of houses. It may therefore be safely assumed that the ash is one of our indigenous forest trees in Scotland, as, from the earliest records, we find it in use, both as supplying material for the deadly instruments of warfare, and for the peaceful implements of agriculture.

In former times, curious superstitions were attached to this tree. The Scandinavians introduced the ash into their mythology, and their Edda represents the court of the gods as held under a mighty ash, whose summit reaches to heaven, while its branches overshadow the entire earth, and its roots penetrate to the infernal regions. Serpents are twined round its trunk. Man, according to the Edda, was formed from the wood of the ash tree. Pliny and Dioscorides both notice it as being repugnant to serpents, and as a cure for their bite. In our own land, at no remote period, country people had a superstition, that if they split young ash trees, and made ruptured children pass through the cleft, they would be cured. A curious tree is figured in " The Gentleman's Magazine " for 1804, p. 909, which was said to have been so used. It grew near Birmingham, and showed two trunks, parted, and quite distinct, at a short distance from the root, and afterwards joined again. It had been split to cure rupture in a child of a neighbouring farmer, and it is supposed that the two parts thus separated became covered with bark, and so formed two trunks at this point. Trees so used were preserved with great care, for the belief was, that if the tree was felled the rupture returned, mortified, and killed the person formerly cured! Probably the "Glammis" tree at Castle Huntly, in Perthshire, which is noticed in Dr Walker's "Catalogue of Old Trees," was a tree so used,—the word "glammis," in north country dialect, signifying "pincers" or tongs. This tree, from inquiry, is now gone. In 1812 it measured at 3 feet from the ground, 17 feet in circumference; and at the root, 27 feet. It fell of natural decay in 1864. Another superstition in regard to the ash, consisted in boring a hole in a branch and enclosing within it a living shrew mouse; so prepared the branch was used to thrash cattle afflicted with cramp or lameness, both of which were laid to the charge of the unfortunate mouse, and a cure was thereby supposed to be effected!

You can read the rest of this article at

You can get to the other articles at

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 Warden of the Marches and here is how it starts...

A Traditionary Story of Annandale

The predatory incursions of the Scots and English borderers, on each other's territories, arc known to every one in the least acquainted with either the written or traditional history of his country. These were sometimes made by armed and numerous bodies, and it was not uncommon for a band of marauders to take advantage of a thick fog or a dark night for plundering or driving away the cattle, with which they soon escaped over the border, where they were generally secure. Such incursions were so frequent and distressing to the peaceable and well-disposed inhabitants that they complained loudly to their respective governments ; in consequence of which some one of the powerful nobles residing on the borders was invested with authority to suppress these depredations, under the title of Warden of the Marches. His duty was to protect the frontier, and alarm the country by firing the beacons which were placed on the heights, where they could be seen at a great distance, as a warning to the people to drive away their cattle, and, collecting in a body, either to repel or pursue the invaders, as circumstances might require. The wardens also possessed a discretionary power in such matters as came under their jurisdiction. The proper discharge of this important trust required vigilance, courage, and fidelity, but it was sometimes committed to improper hands, and consequently the duty was very improperly performed. In the reign of James V. one of these wardens was Sir John Charteris of Amisfield, near Dumfries, a brave but haughty man, who sometimes forgot his important trust so far as to sacrifice his public duties to his private interests. George Maxwell was a young and respectable farmer in Annandale, who had frequently been active in repressing the petty incursions to which that quarter of the country was exposed. Having thereby rendered himself par-ticulany obnoxious to the English borderers, a strong party was formed, which succeeded in despoiling him, by plundering his house and driving away his whole live stock. At the head of a large party he pursued and overtook the "spoil-encumbered foe;" a fierce and bloody contest ensued, in which George fell the victim of a former feud, leaving his widow, Marion, in poverty, with her son Wallace, an only child in the tenth year of his age. By the liberality of her neighbours, the widow was replaced in a small farm, but by subsequent incursions she was reduced to such poverty that she occupied a small cottage, with a cow, which the kindness of a neighbouring farmer permitted to pasture on his fields. This, with the industry and filial affection of her son, now in his twentieth year, enabled her to live with a degree of comfort and contented resignation.

With a manly and athletic form, Wallace Maxwell inherited the courage of his father, and the patriotic ardour of the chieftain after whom he had been named ; and Wallace had been heard to declare, that although he could not expect to free his country from the incursions of the English borderers, he trusted he should yet be able to take ample vengeance for the untimely death of his father.

But although his own private wrongs and those of his country had a powerful influence on the mind of Wallace Maxwell, yet his heart was susceptible of a far loftier passion.

His fine manly form and graceful bearing had attractions for many a rural fair; and he would have found no difficulty in matching with youthful beauty considerably above his own humble station. But his affections were fixed on Mary Morrison, a maiden as poor in worldly wealth as himself; but nature had been more than usually indulgent to her in a handsome person and fine features; and, what was of infinitely more value, her heart was imbued with virtuous principles, and her mind better cultivated than could have been expected from her station in life. To these accomplishments were superadded a native dignity, tempered with modesty, and a most winning sweetness of manner. Mary was the daughter of a man who had seen better days; but he was ruined by the incursions of the English borderers ; and both he and her mother dying soon after, Mary was left a helpless orphan in the twentieth year of her age. Her beauty procured her many admirers; and her unprotected state (for she had no relations in Annandalc) left her exposed to the insidious temptations of unprincipled villainy; but they soon discovered that neither flattery, bribes, nor the fairest promises, had the slightest influence on her spotless mind. There were many, however, who sincerely loved her, and made most honourable proposals; among whom was Wallace Maxwell, perhaps the poorest of her admirers, but who succeeded in gaining her esteem and affection. Mary and he were fellow-servants to the farmer from whom his mother had her cottage; and, on account of the troublesome state of the country, Wallace slept every night in his mother's house as her guardian and protector. Mary and he were about the same age, both in the bloom of youthful beauty ; but both had discrimination to look beyond external attractions; and, although they might be said to live in the light of each other's eyes, reason convinced them that the time was yet distant when it would be prudent to consummate that union which was the dearest object of their wishes.

You can read the rest of this story at

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

The History of Ulster
From the Earliest Times to the Present Day by Ramsay Colles (1919)

This week have completed Volume I with

Essex in Ulster
"Scotching" the Scot
The New Earl of Tyrone
State of Ulster: Civil and Military

Here is how the chapter "Scotching" the Scot starts...

Ulster, which in Shane O'Neill's lifetime and in that of his father had occupied the stage and been in the full glare of the footlights, now retired for a season into humdrum respectability, suffering no doubt from "that dull stagnation of the soul content". As some may assert with Walter Savage Landor that Ireland never was contented, we may point out that Ulster is referred to, not Ireland.

But the serenity of Ulster reigned only on the surface, for below, the fierce desire for freedom, though pent up, simmered and occasionally boiled over. Stirred to the depths by the horrors of Rathlin and the betrayal of Sir Brian MacPhelim, Hugh O'Donnell ajid Turlogh Lynnagh wrote in 1575-6 imploring help from Spain, and might have received some but that Philip was no longer enthusiastic on the subject of Ireland. The first messenger sent by the Irish chiefs to the King of Spain was caught by the English and hanged. The second, a friar, managed to make his way to Madrid and presented their petition. Something might have come of this, but Philip II was ever slow-moving; and O'Neill, getting tired of waiting, wrote to the Council suggesting that if he could get help from them to destroy the Scots in Antrim he would suppress the enthusiasm of his wife (formerly Lady Agnes Campbell) for the cause of Mary Queen of Scots.

It must be remembered that during this period of comparative peace in Ulster the south and west were in a turmoil. Every ill that can result from feeble governing was flourishing, and massacres, murders, pillagings, burnings, and cattle- driving were the order of the day. Sidney himself, when paying his visitation, seemed to rejoice over the hangings and the drawing and quartering, the slaying by "pressing to death", as well as the more orthodox methods of execution. In executing at Kilkenny some thirty-six malefactors, he congratulated himself on the fact that some of them were "good ones"; and in hanging "a blackamoor and two witches" for treason, he remarks that he put them to death, "by natural law, for that he found no law to try them by in the realm". It is not strange that such severity encouraged rebellion. The yoke was too grievous to be borne. It is not necessary here to do more than mention the Desmond rebellion, and the picture arises before the eye of the student of Irish history of horrible and revolting and protracted conflicts.

From these we may turn to view events passing at the time in Ulster. As the most peaceful years that the province had known passed, the ruler of Ireland had been from time to time changed. Sidney, who departed in 1578, was succeeded by Sir William Drury as Lord Justice, who, dying in September, 1579, was succeeded by Sir William Pelham. In 1580 Lord Grey de Wilton was Lord Deputy, and in 1582 Adam Loftus, Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Chancellor, and Sir Henry Wallop were Lord Justices. Their "love of justice" is seen in their carrying out of it before leaving office. In September, 1583, a priest named Hurley appeared in Drogheda, bringing with him letters of induction from the Pope, as Archbishop of Cashel. He was making his way to Kilkenny when he was seized, and on being searched secret letters were found on him. They were undirected but appeared to be addressed to Catholics of the Pale. This was sufficient. The man must confess or be tortured into a confession; and tortured he was, the method adopted being "to toast his feet against the fire with hot boots" into which melted resin had been poured. Reflection on this deed, though painful, is somewhat, but not entirely, mitigated by recalling the fact that Hurley had been resident in Rome, and had been a member of the Inquisition. The hot boots searing the unfortunate young archbishop's conscience as well as his feet, he confessed, and it was decided to execute him. Therefore, on the iQth June, 1584, the Knight Marshal at Dublin received his warrant "to do execution upon him, which accordingly was performed, and thereby the realm rid of a pestilent member". Sir John Perrot, who arrived in time for the execution, had been appointed Lord Deputy in succession to Lord Grey de Wilton, and in taking office made a speech to the people in which he assured them that as "the natural-born subjects of her Majesty they were as dear to her as her own people".

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The rest of the chapters can be read at

A fisherman’s Reflections on a beautiful but troubled world
By David B. Thomson

We are getting a lot of interest in this book and this week we've added chapters on...

Chapter 11 - The Philippines
Chapter 12 - Europe
Chapter 13 - Arabia and South Asia
Chapter 13a - The Sub-Continent of South Asia
Chapter 14 - Israel
Chapter 15 - West Africa and Southern Africa

Here is how the Chapter on Israel starts...

My knowledge of Israel came largely from Biblical history, and was short on modern events. When the geography and history of a land is learned only in church and Sunday school, it does tend to have an air of unreality about it. I believe for most of us, it takes a personal visit to the region to make the facts alive and relevant. Along with many distant observers, however, I did think the creation of a Jewish state was an amazing thing. How a people could retain their faith, language, customs and ethnicity during nineteen centuries of dispersal in other lands, is a historical wonder. But I do not interpret their current possession of the land as signifying that they have a divine right to treat the Palestine people in an unjust way. None of my Israeli friends think that either. Israel has a right to exist and to defend itself, but the Arab residents of Palestine also have a right to a home, to a future, to security and to peace. That truth should not be obscured by the terrorist murders by suicide bombers, or the shelling of Palestine homes and villages by the Israeli army. Arabs and Israelis are brothers, and ultimately there has to be reconciliation.

The portrayal of Jewish people in English literature has been mixed, yet nearly all the books with characters of that race, reflect the way they have been vilified and persecuted, and been subject to injustice. Shakespeare’s Shylock evokes both sympathy and dislike, yet students of the works of the bard of Avon usually identify him as the real hero of The Merchant of Venice. Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe portrays the beautiful but tragic Jessica, suffering in consequence of her race and her religion. She has been described as the most noble character in that romantic tale. Charles Dicken’s Fagin, in Oliver Twist, is a despicable figure for the most part, though a pathetic creature at the end. Some have argued that he is balanced by the brutal Englishman Bill Sykes. But then, Sykes is one of many English characters, while Fagin is the only Jewish person in the book. I read each of those works while at school, but remained largely unaware of the anti-semitic undertones they reflected. I could never understand the anti-semitism of Christian persons since in my albeit simple understanding of theology, all of mankind were guilty of the betrayal and death of Christ, and, after all, Jesus was a Jew in every sense of the word.

I think I must have been about ten years old when I first came across the horrors of the Holocaust perpetrated on the Jewish people by Hitler and his Nazis. My parents had gone off for a whole day, which was unusual for them, and my grandmother was looking after us and preparing the tea. The weather being cold and wet, I sought relief from boredom in the books in the ‘front room’ bookcase. One volume I found, Lest We Forget, was a large pictorial record of the concentration camps with photographs of the surviving inmates and the heaps of dead bodies as discovered by the allied troops on their arrival in 1945 at Auschwitz, Belsen, Buchenwald, Dachau and other dreadful extermination camps.. The images have haunted me ever since. I gazed at every picture and became physically sick, but said nothing to other family members. My grandmother could not understand why that evening I declined a meal that I would normally have enjoyed.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The rest of the chapters can be read at

Ocean to Ocean, Fleming's Expedition Through Canada in 1872
by The Revd. George M. Grant (1873).

As some of you may know Sandford Fleming, a Scot, was the chief engineer for the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway and this book is a diary of his survey of the line. Quite apart from being a Scot this is a most interesting account and I hope you'll enjoy reading it.

We have added three chapters this week...

Chapter VII - From Fort Edmonton to the River Athabasca
Chapter VIII - The Rocky Mountains
Chapter IX - Yellow Head Pass to the North Thompson River

Here is how the account of The Rocky Mountains starts...

September 10th.—The Athabasca fell six inches during the night. Got away from camp at 7.30 A.M., and for two hours had a delightful ride to Prairie River. The trail ran along a terrace of shingle or alluvial flats, and was free from fallen timber and muskegs. Most of the flowers were out of blossom, but in the spring and summer these open meadow-like places must be gay with anemones, roses, vetches, and a great variety of compositae—none of which were now in bloom, except a light-blue aster that had accompanied us from the North Saskatchewan, and all the way through the wooded country. The burnt ground shewed a brilliant crimson flower from which red ink is made, and which we had seen on the Matawan.

Few, however, thought of plants to-day or of anything but the mountains that stood in massive grandeur, thirty miles ahead, but on account of the morning light, in which every point came out clear, seemingly just on the other side of each new patch of wood or bit of prairie before us.

They rose bold and abrupt five or six thousand feet from the wooded country at their feet,—the western verge of the plains, the elevation of which was over three thousand feet additional above the sea,—and formed in long unbroken line across our path, save where cleft in the centre down to their very feet, by the chasm that the Athabasca, long ago forced, or found for itself. "There are no Rocky Mountains" has been the remark of many a disappointed traveller by the Union and Central Pacific Railways. The remark will never be made by those who travel on the Canadian Pacific ; there was no ambiguity about these being mountains, nor about where they commenced. The line was defined, and the scarp as clear, as if they had been hewn and chiselled for a fortification. The summits on one side of the Athabasca were serrated, looking sharp as the teeth of a saw; on the other, the Roche à Myette, immediately behind the first line, reared a great solid unbroken cube, two thousand feet high, a "forehead bare," twenty times higher than Ben An's; and, before and beyond it, away to the south and west, extended ranges with bold summits and sides scooped deep, and corries far down, where formerly, the wood buffalo, and the elk, and now the moose, bighorn, and bear find shelter. There was nothing fantastic about their forms. Everything was imposing. And these too were ours, an inheritance as precious, if not as plentiful in corn and milk, as the vast rich plains they guarded. For mountains elevate the mind, and give an inspiration of courage and dignity to the hardy races who own them, and who breathe their atmosphere.

For the strength of the hills we bless thee
Our God, our fathers' God.
Thou hast made our spirits mighty
With the touch of the mountain sod.

The scent had its effect on the whole party. As we wound in long Indian file along the sinuous trail, that led across grassy bas-fonds under the shadow of the mountains that were still a day's journey distant, not a word was heard nor a cry to the horses for the first half-hour. Valad led the way, clad friar-like in blue hooded capote which he wore all regardless of the fact that the sun was shining; Brown next, in rugged miner costume half-leathern half-woollen, and Beaupré in the same with a touch of colour added ; the Chief and the Doctor in their yellow moose-hide jackets; even Terry, who of late invariably brought up the rear, ceased to howl "git up out o' that" to the unfortunate animal he sat upon, dropped his stick, and put his pipe in his waistcoat pocket. He had seen Vesuvius, the Himalayas and the Hill of Howth, but they were "nauthin to this." Before us, at times, a grove of dark green spruce, and, beyond the sombre wood, the infinitely more sombre grey of the mountains; where the wood had been burnt, the bare blackened poles seemed to be only a screen hung before, half revealing, half concealing, what was beyond. The mountains dwarfed and relieved everything else. There was less snow than had appeared yesterday, the explanation being that the first and least elevated mountain range only was before us now that we were near, whereas, when at a greater distance, many of the higher summits beyond were visible.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

You can read this book at

Sketches of Early Scotch History
By Cosmo Innes (1861)

Our thanks to Alan McKenzie for scanning in this book for us.

Here is what the Preface has to say...

William Strahan, the publisher, writing to Robertson the historian in 1759, told him that "A History of Scotland is no very enticing title;" and Dugald Stewart, commenting upon that expression, adds—"The influence of Scottish associations, so far as it is favourable to antiquity, is confined to Scotchmen alone, and furnishes no resources to the writer who aspires to a place among the English classics. Nay, such is the effect of that provincial situation to which Scotland is now reduced, that the transactions of former ages are apt to convey to ourselves exaggerated conceptions of barbarism from the uncouth and degraded dialect in which they are recorded. To adapt the history of such a country to the present standard of British taste, it was necessary for the author, not only to excite an interest for names which to the majority of his readers were formerly indifferent or unknown, but, what was still more difficult, to unite in his portraits the truth of nature with the softenings of art, 'conquering,' as Livy expresses it, ' the rudeness of antiquity by the art of writing.'" [Stewart's Life of Robertson, written in 1796. Was it of accident or forethought that Stewart, in praising Robertson, omitted one of the alternatives which Livy makes historical writers propose to themselves—either to give events with greater accuracy, or to conquer the rudeness of antiquity by the art of writing?—"Aut in rebus certius aliguid alla-turos, aut scribendi arte rudem vetusta-tem superaturos." The first was certainly not the chief object of our great historians of the last century.] The elegant and profound philosopher concludes that it is necessary to "correct our common impressions concerning the ancient state of Scotland by translating not only the antiquated phraseology of our forefathers into a more modern idiom, but by translating (if I may use the expression) their antiquated fashions into the corresponding fashions of our own times."

We cannot doubt that Dugald Stewart expressed the opinion of the literary world of his day. Perhaps he overlooked some of the causes which produced such a state of feeling. It was not merely the dreaded provincialism that was to be overcome—the nervousness which Scotchmen like Hume and Robertson felt in writing English. The educated Scot of the middle of last century had something harder to meet than gibes for his misplaced shall and will, these and those. There was at that time a dislike amounting to hatred of Scotland and Scots (not indeed unreturned), which it would be easy to trace upwards through the most popular writers of England— through Johnson and Swift, to Lord Strafford and Clarendon, and back to the fierce ballads of the Edwardian wars. But just then the nation had scarcely recovered its temper, ruffled by the Scotch invasion, when the unpopularity of the Bute ministry re-kindled the feeling, which men like Wilkes and Churchill blew into flame; and perhaps the anti-Scotican rage was never fiercer than when the little band of Edinburgh writers claimed a hearing from English readers, a hundred years ago.

Much of the chief difficulty—the winning the ear of an English audience to Scotch history—was overcome by Robertson himself. He was skilful in selecting his period. He was a great master of the dignified style of history; and edition after edition of his History of Scotland was sold, [Andrew Strahan (son of his first editor) wrote to him on the 19th November 1792: "the fourteenth edition of your 'Scotland' will be published in the course of the winter; and we have the satisfaction of informing you, that if we judge by the sale of your writings, your literary reputation is daily increasing."] until England was saturated with that sweet flowing narrative of the most picturesque and tragical part of our national annals.

Hume and Adam Smith were fellow-soldiers in the enterprise, and many others, whose names would be higher, had they not lived among those giants; until it was no longer a reproach to a book to have Scotland for its subject or "Edinburgh" upon its title-page, Still, it was only the thinking people who were gained. The popular prejudice against Scotland—our condemnation in the world of fashion—lasted much longer. Scotchmen who are still writing, remember how carefully they used to guard against slips in their English—how it fettered their style and even their thoughts. Scotchmen not yet dead old, remember what pain it cost them to mix in English society for fear of the disgraceful detection. What young Scot on first going to public school or college in England forty years ago, had not to endure the suppressed laugh, the little jeer, for his Scotch Greek or his native Doric!

The change in feeling—in kindliness towards us, the rise of a certain enthusiasm for Scotland, had its commencement no doubt in the works of Walter Scott. His national poems first, and still more his prose pictures of Scotch life and manners, won the hearts of Englishmen; and those who remember the feeling of boyish shame of being detected as Scotch, must remember also the marvellous change which a few years of the spells of the great Magician wrought upon the people of both countries— upon the proud, self-confident Englishman, and the sensitive half-sulky Scot.

One other circumstance has tended more than may be at once seen, to turn the tide of English feeling. Along with the Scotch romances which have so imbued the present generation with a kindness for the country that gave them birth, came the rapidly growing taste for Scotch sport—for the adventurous, rough life of the Highland shooting and fishing lodge. Englishmen learnt to love the scene of their youthful sport, and English women could not but sympathize with the scene of that simple, Arcadian life which women of the higher classes can taste nowhere else. And so, from all these causes, I believe it has come to pass that books about Scotland, its history or its manners, even unimaginative serious books, are now read with patience by all but inveterate citizens of London.

It was in that belief that, twelve months ago I ventured, much doubting, to give to the public a volume about "Scotland in the Middle Ages." A large impression of that book has now been sold; and I am not without hope that the present volume, which comes lower down, and tries to join modern thought and customs to the mediaeval, may be as acceptable as its predecessor.

As in that previous volume, the substance of the present has been offered to a small portion of the public before, though not in its present shape. The matter of some of the chapters has been prefixed to works printed for the Bannatyne Club; that of others to Maitland Club and Spalding Club works. As I said with regard to my Lectures, they did not thereby achieve anything to be called publicity. The societies I have named, like the Roxburghe Club of England, undertake chiefly the printing of books which cannot be popular, but which it is desirable to preserve and make accessible to the student. As to numbers, the Bannatyne Club (now defunct) consisted of a hundred members; the Maitland has somewhat fewer; the Spalding Club, a Northern institution, is larger, reaches about three hundred. Of the members who receive the Club works, perhaps a dozen of each of the first two—it may be twenty of the last—turn over the books, cut a few leaves (though that is rather avoided), and then the large quartos sleep undisturbed on the library shelf. Occasionally a local newspaper, of more than usual intelligence, has dug something out of those square repulsive volumes; but I may say confidently, that to the world at large, to the reading public, even to the class who read history, the present volume is entirely new matter.

I venture to think such matter is worth knowing, and if the public is of the same opinion I am prepared to go to press with a similar one, embracing (1.) Some information on the old Scotch law of Marriage and Divorce; (2.) A sketch of the state of Society before and after the Reformation in Scotland; (3.) A chapter on old Scotch Topography and Statistics.

I have to express my obligation to the Marquis of Breadalbane, and to my lamented friend the late Earl of Cawdor, for allowing me to make public here the observations I had prefixed to collections of their family papers intended for a more limited circulation.

Edinburgh, January 1861.

This book is being posted up as .pdf files and the index page of the book with the first two chapters can be found at

Historic Places to go in Scotland - Grampian
Over a couple of years now we've added greatly to this page and our thanks go to Stan Bruce (The Bard of Banff) for sending in so many pictures and adding to our list of historic places. This week Stan has sent in a few new places along with pictures and even a .pdf file containing many heraldic pictures from St Medden's Kirk.

You can visit this page at

Knights Templar Brussels Declaration
When I attended the Windsor Priory Investiture on Saturday I was provided with a copy of this declaration which I thought you might find of interest. You can see this at

Sir James Hector
Ranald McIntyre read an article about Sir James Hector who did much fine work in Canada and New Zealand and noted I didn't appear to have anything about him on the site and so he scanned in the article from the Daily Mail and sent in over. I know have it up on the site at

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


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