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5th December 2008

Alastair McIntyreElectric Scotland's Weekly Email Newsletter

Electric Scotland - The No.1 Scottish History Site Aois - The Celtic Community
The Electric Scotland Article Service

Dear Friend

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

Electric Scotland News
The Flag in the Wind
The Scottish Nation
Poetry and Stories
New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
Book of Scottish Story
History of Glasgow
The Scottish Historical Review
The Concise Household Encyclopaedia
Sketches of North Carolina
John Knox, A Biography
Scientists and Inventors from Scots in America
Robert Burns - The Lassies (New Book)
Beth's New Fangled Family Tree

Been away in Toronto for a couple of days and was able to pick up some of these haggis pies that Mrs Bridges makes. They are like Scotch Pies but with haggis, neeps and tatties and are very good :-)


Was delighted to get in some pictures and some information on the old days in Glen Etive. My thanks to Robert Allan for sending them in and you can see the pictures at


I was also told about a new build in Scotland, The Tower of Craigietocher, which is being built by Phill Plevey. We're going to follow the project until it is completed and to start off we have two drawings showing what it will look like and also some photos of how the project is going to date. You can see this 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 or on our site menu.

This weeks Flag is compiled by Jennifer Dunn. Jemmifer is reflecting on credit card debt in this issue.

In Peter's cultural section he's telling us about the Daft Days...

December sees once again the approach of The Daft Days (24 December to 6 January) and its great highlight, in Scottish terms, which is Hogmanay (31 December). There is great debate over how the last day in the year gained that name in Scotland, most answers lean towards a French connection, but there is no doubt that it has played a significant part in Scottish life over many centuries. But why, for example in Burghead on the Moray Firth, is Hogmanay not celebrated until the 11th of January? It all goes back to 1752 when the Westminster Government decided to harmonise Britain’s calendar with the continental Gregorian one, which required eleven days to be dropped from the calendar. Consequently eleven days were simply drooped from the calendar in September of that year. The public were incensed and calls were made to be given back the eleven days which they felt had been stolen from them. In many areas people just ignored the government decree and stuck with the Old Style calendar – hence in Burghead their New Year Clavie burning is still held on the old date.

Burghead and its fire-burning ceremony is a reminder of how important fire was to our fore-bears as a sign of renewal. Fire continued to play a large part in welcoming the New Year up to the first quarter of the 20th century and in towns and villages bone-fires were a common sight the length and breadth of Scotland. Nowadays fire ceremonies can still be enjoyed in Biggar, Comrie and Stonehaven on 31 December, and as noted eleven days later in Burghead.

Another Hogmanay tradition was to supply a hugh copper kettle of Het Pint, basically mulled ale, which was carried through the streets for the benefit of revellers. Our recipe this week is non-alcoholic but is like Het Pint, a warming refreshment, and in its own right another Hogmanay tradition. Ginger Wine is a great favourite of bairns of all ages and it packs a punch but without the fear of a hangover!

Ginger Wine or Cordial

Ingredients: 2oz (50g) root ginger; 2 lemons; 2 oranges; 1 gallon (3.8 litres) water; 3 1/2 lbs (1.5 kg) sugar; small pinch of cayenne pepper

Method: Break the ginger up, .and boil it with one gallon of water and the rind of the oranges and lemons. Add a small pinch of cayenne pepper during boiling. Strain the liquid into a container holding the sugar. Add the juice of the lemons and oranges. Strain and bottle, Makes approximately one gallon – if you wish a milder brew use rather less ginger and miss out the cayenne pepper.

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

we've got another diary entry from Christina McKelvie MSP at

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

We're now onto the W's with Willison, Willock, Wilson, Winram and Wintoun this week.

An interesting account of Wilson which includes a number of people of that name. Here is the first Wilson mentioned...

WILSON, FLORENCE, known among contemporary scholars by his Latin name of Florentius Volusenus, a learned writer of the sixteenth century, was born on the banks of the Lossie, near Elgin, about 1500. He was educated in his native place, and prosecuted his adademical studies in the university of King’s college, Aberdeen. Repairing afterwards to England, his talents recommended him to the notice of Cardinal Wolsey, who appointed him preceptor to his nephew, and he accompanied the latter to Paris, where he went for his education. On Wolsey’s death, in 1530, Wilson lost his pupil, but he soon after found another patron in the learned Cardinal de Bellai, archbishop of Paris. Intending to proceed to Rome with this prelate, he travelled with him as far as Avignon, where he was seized with an illness, which caused him to be left behind, and prevented his father journey.

Having neither money nor friends, he resolved to apply to the celebrated Cardinal Sadolet, bishop of Carpentras; and, arriving at his house at night, was readily admitted into his library, where the bishop was then engaged at his studies. Wilson’s skill in the learned languages strongly prepossessed the cardinal in his favour, and he procured for him the appointment of teacher of Greek and Latin in the public school of Carpentras. During the time that he held this situation, he composed his excellent dialogue, ‘De Animi Tranquillitate,’ first printed at Leyden, by Gryphius, in 1543. In this work, which displays throughout a vast compass of learning, and an intimate acquaintance with all the Greek and Latin classics, there are interspersed several little pieces of Latin poetry of his own composition, which in elegance are little inferior to the production of his contemporary Buchanan.

About 1546, after residing at Carpentras for ten years, Wilson felt a strong desire to revisit Scotland, and accordingly set out on his return home; but was taken ill on the road, and died at Vienne in Dauphiny about 1547. He maintained a high character for learning in the age in which he lived, and Buchanan paid a tribute to his genius and virtues in an epigram which he wrote upon his death.

You can read the rest of this account at

You can read all these entries at

Clan and Family Information
Got in the Jan, Feb, Mar 2009 newsletter from the Clan Leslie Society of New Zealand & Australia at

Got in the December newsletter of Clan Munro of Australia which you can see at

Poetry and Stories
Another poem from John Henderson called "Auld Mac" which you can read at

We also have some new poems and articles from Donna, Alastair and others in our Article Service at

I might add that I post up a story or two each week about things happening in Scotland.

New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
We have now added the Parish of Dunsyre to the Lanark volume. Here is a bit from it...

Historical Notices.—Many distinguished characters have been proprietors in this parish. So early as the year 1147, William de Sommerville, the third of that noble family, afterwards Lord Sommerville, married Margaret, daughter of Gualter, who is designed of Newbigging, and Lord of Dunsyre. Sir Patrick Hepburn of Hales was, during his father's life, designed of Dunsyre, in the year 1450, who, on account of his great merit and fortune, was by King James III. created a Baron or Lord of Parliament, ante ,annum 1456. Adam Second Lord Hales succeeded his father, during whose life lie had been designed Adam Hepburn of Dunsyre. His successors were created Earls of Bothwell on the 5th of October 1488, and the last of the family was created Duke of Orkney by Queen Mary, whom he had afterwards the honour to marry.

Archibald the Sixth Earl of Angus exchanged his castle and lands of hermitage in Liddesdale, with Hepburn Earl of Bothwell, for the castle of Bothwell in Clydesdale; and hence this property fell into the hands of the Douglases. It has since belonged to various individuals.

Sir Norman Macdonald Lockhart of Lee and Carnwath, Baronet, is now proprietor of almost the whole parish. The valuation of the parish, as fixed in 1733, amounted to L. 1450 Scots money; of which Sir Norman Lockhart has L.1383, 13s. 4d., and the remainder L. 66, 6s. 8d. belongs to the Rev. Mr Aiton, which was bequeathed by the late Rev. Mr Bowie, minister of Dolphin-ton, to the minister serving the cure of that parish.

You can read this account at

The index page for the New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845) can be found at

Book of Scottish Story
Our thanks to John Henderson for sending this in for us.

This week have added...

The Unlucky Top Boots

This is chapter 1 of a 2 chapter story and here is how it starts...

Top Boots, as everybody must have remarked, are now [1833] nearly altogether out of fashion. Their race is all but extinct. An occasional pair may indeed still be seen encasing the brawny legs of a stout elderly country gentleman on a market day, or on the occasion of a flying visit to the metropolis; but with this exception, and with probably that of some hale obstinate bachelor octogenarian, who, in full recollection of the impression which his top boots had made on the public mind some fifty years since, still persists in thrusting his shrivelled shanks into the boots of his youth ;—we say, with the first positive, and the last probable exception, this highly respectable-looking, and somewhat flashy, article of dress has entirely disappeared.

Time was, however, and we recollect it well, when matters stood far otherwise with top boots. We have a distinct vision of numberless pairs Hitting before our eyes, through the mazes of the various thoroughfares of the city; but, alas ! they have vanished, one after another, like stars before the light of approaching day. Rest to their ‘soles’ - they are now gathered to their fathers—their brightness is extinguished—their glory is gone. The Conqueror of Waterloo hath conquered them also. The top boots have fallen before the Wellingtons!

We have said that we recollect when it was otherwise with top boots, and so we do. We recollect when a pair of top boots was a great object of ambition with the young, whose worldly prosperity was all yet to come—whose means of indulging in such little vanities of the flesh were yet to be acquired. To them a pair of top boots was a sort of land-mark in the voyage of life; a palpable, prominent, and desirable object to be attained; a sort of Cape Horn to be doubled. Nor were they less objects of ambition at the time we speak of—say about 40 years since—to the more advanced, whose circumstances required a long previous hint to prepare for such an event as the purchase of a pair of top boots. In short, top boots were the rage of the day. The apprentice, the moment he got "out" of his time, got "into" his top boots. The first thing the young grocer did was to get a pair of top boots. No lover then went to woo his mistress but in top boots, or at least if he did, the chance was, that he would go to very little purpose. The buckishly-inclined mechanic, too, hoarded his superfluous earnings until they reached the height of a pair of top boots, in which to entomb his lower limbs. Although their visits now, as we have already hinted, are "few and far between," we have seen the day when, instead of being but occasionally seen, like solitary points of light as they are now, on the dusky street, they converted it by their numbers into an absolute ‘via lactea’,—a perfect galaxy of white leather,—or shot, frequent, pale, and flitting, like northern streamers, through the dark tide of humanity as it strolled along.

You can read the rest of this at

The other stories can be read at

The History of Glasgow
By Robert Renwick LL.D. and Sir John Lindsay L.D. in 3 volumes (1921)

We are now onto the final 3rd volume and added this week are the following chapters...

Chapter XXI
The Year of the Great Frost

Chapter XXII
The Elzevirs of Scotland and the Foulis Academy

Chapter XXIII
Certain Benefactions

Chapter XXIV
Prince Charles Edward and Glasgow

Chapter XXV
The Rise of Banking and the Deepening of the Clyde

Chapter XXVI
The First Glasgow Strikes, Trade Unions, Fire Brigade, and Theatres

Here is how Chapter XXII starts...

JOHN GIBSON, in his History of Glasgow, after recounting how the printing of books was first begun in the city in 1638 by George Anderson, and how Robert Sanders settled here about 1661, and, followed by his son, carried on a printing business till after 1730, says there was no good printing in Glasgow till 1735, when Robert Urie began the production of books "in a very good taste and manner." He adds, "How far it has been improved since that time the many elegant and splendid editions of books in different languages, printed by Robert and Andrew Foulis, who began in 1740, are a sufficient testimony." [History, p. 245.]

The progress of printing was of course dependent to a considerable extent upon progress in the art of typefounding. This art also was late in coming to Glasgow. The pioneer of typefounding in Scotland was Peter Rae, minister of Kirkbride. At his press in that quiet parish, and afterwards in Dumfries, Rae printed some sixteen works, including a "History of the Rebellion of 1715." He was followed by James Duncan, letter-founder in Glasgow, who has already been mentioned in these pages, and who, with his family, continued to print and sell books in the city for something like a century.

According to the Burgh Records, "James Duncan, printer and type-maker," was appointed "the toun's printer" in October 1719. Duncan printed many chapbooks, as well as Dougal Graham's rhyming chronicle of " the '45," the first and second editions of which are much sought after. [Dougal Graham was of course himself a printer, issuing from his press a series of chapbooks, mostly of his own writing, which, coarse but vivid, reflected the rustic life of his time, and enjoyed an enormous popularity. For the authorship of these he has been called the Scottish Rabelais.] A departure on a higher and more artistic level was made, however, by Alexander Wilson, Professor of Astronomy in Glasgow University. Beginning to practise the craft of type-founding in his native city of St. Andrews about 1740, Wilson removed shortly afterwards to Camlachie, then a village near Glasgow, and the types produced there by him and his sons attained before long a European reputation. His "Scotch type" was spoken of throughout the kingdom as a sine qua non for excellence of printing, and in France was known as the "style Ecossais." In Glasgow itself his services to printing were recognized by the Town Council, which made him a burgess " upon account of his great ingenuity in typefounding, by which printing has been advanced in this city within these few years to a great degree of perfection." [Burgh Records, 3rd Oct. 1757; Cleland's Annals, ii. 467; Coutts' list. University of Glasgow, p. 230.] He was also appointed "Type-founder to the University."

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The index page of the book is at

The Scottish Historical Review
I have added a couple more articles from these publications...

Sir Archibald Lawrie's Charter Collections
BORN at 48 West Nile Street, Glasgow, 8th September, 1837, oldest child of Professor James Adair Lawrie, M.D., and of Janet Finlay of The Moss, the future Sir Archibald Campbell Lawrie was fated to win high distinction as an advocate, judge and historical scholar.

St. Helena in 1817
THE following account of a short visit to St. Helena is extracted from a MS. diary which was purchased at the recent sale of the Ardpatrick Library.

You can read these articles at

The Concise Household Encyclopaedia
This week have added...

Four more pages which include, Chest of Drawers, Chesterfield Sofa, Chestnut (Spanish), Chestnut: The Wood, Chestnut: In Cookery, Cheval Glass, Cheviot Cloth, Chewing Gum, Chianti, Chicken.

You can see these at

The index page for this publication is at

Sketches of North Carolina
Historical and Biographical, illustrative of the Principles of a portion of her Early Settlers by Rev. William Henry Foote (1846)

We've now added several more chapters to this book...

Chapter XIII - Hugh M'Aden and the Churches in Duplin, New Hanover and Caswell
The first Presbyterian Minister that visited North Carolina. Missionaries sent by the Synod. The oldest Presbyterian Congregation in the State in Duplin. The Welsh Tract. Their position on the Map. M'Aden's parentage, &c. DPADEN'S JOURNAL. The earliest Missionary Journal in Carolina that has been preserved. Passes through Berkeley and Frederick Counties in 'Virginia. Stops at Opecquon. Stays some time in Augusta. Visits John Brown of Providence. Keeps a day of Fasting on Timber Ridge. At Forks of James River receives news of Braddock's Defeat. Crosses the mountain and goes to Mr. Henry's Congregation. Enters North Carolina. Commences his Mission proper. Visits Eno and Tar River. Returns to Eno. Goes to the Hawfield, to the Buffalo Settlement. Goes to the Yadkin. Crosses Yadkin and passes slowly on to Sugar Creek. Sets off for South Carolina. Lodges out for the first time. Destitution in the upper part of South Carolina. Retraces his steps to the Yadkin, and then turns down the country towards the Cape Fear. Visits the Scotch settlements. Goes to Wilmington. Goes to the Welsh Tract, and is detained by their entreaties. Visits Goshen. Calls made out for him from Goshen and the Welsh Tract. Sets out for home. Meets Governor Dobbs. Crosses Pamtico. Goes to the Red Banks. Stops at Fishing Creek. Goes to Nutbush. Revisits Hico, Hawfields and the Eno. Journal ends abruptly and leaves him at McMessaer on James River. M'Aden's labors as Pastor in North Carolina. His residence in Duplin. Removes to Caswell. Extract from letter from Dr. M'Aden. House plundered by the British Army. Place of Burial. Churches in Duplin and New Hanover after his removal. Rev. Messrs. Dr. Robinson, Mr. Stanford, Mr. Hatch, Mr. McIver. Mr. James Tate; his visits up Black River; his character. William Bingham. Colin Lindsey; difficulties removes; suspended; his wife. Rev. Robert Tate. M'Aden's places of Preaching while residing in Caswell. Formation of Upper, Middle, and Lower Hico. Bethany or Rattlesnake. A Preaching place in Pittsylvania. The Bell family.

Chapter XIV - Church of Sugar Creek: Its First Minister, Alexander Craighhead
The third Minister in Carolina. His ancestry. Rev. Thomas Craighead. First Ecclesiastical notice of Alexander Craighead, in connexion with Mr. John Paul. They adopt the Confession. Mr. Craighead's manner of preaching. Gets into difficulties with his brethren. Defends himself. Case carried up to Synod. He withdraws with the New Brunswick Presbytery. Removes to Virginia. A Member of Hanover Presbytery. Flies from Virginia and is settled in Carolina. Here ends his days, 1776. His love of Liberty. His Pamphlet. His situation in Mecklenburg. Sows THE SEEDS OF THE MIECKLENBURG DECLARATION. The Settlement of this Upper country. The two tides of Emigration. The line of settlement. Location of Sugar Creek Meeting House. THE PARENT OF THE SEVEN CONGREGATIONS. The Prairies. Extent of the Congregations. The bounds of the SEVEN settled in 1764. A visit to the old grave-yard. Craighead's Grave. His Family. Joseph, Alexander. Grave-yard at the Brick Church S. C. Caldwell; his Services, Character and Manner. The Alexanders. Their Emigration. Lord Stirling. Mrs. Jackson and her son. Buford's Defeat. Mrs. Flinn. Neighboring Localities.

Chapter XV - Hopewell and the Records of the Convention
Situation of Hopewell. Capt. Bradley. General Davidson. John M'Knitt Alexander. Settlement of the Country. Anecdote of Alexander and Dr. Flinn. State of Society. The papers of the Convention. Judge Cameron's Statement. Reasons for the temporary obscurity of the Convention. The Convention called in question. Dr. Alexander vindicates it. Testimony of different persons; Dr. Hunter, General Graham, and Major Davidson, and Dr. Cummins, and Mr. Jack, and Col. Polk, of Raleigh. Obituary of Dr. H. M'Knitt Alexander. Rules of Union between the Churches of Hopewell and Sugar Creek in 1793.

Chapter XVI - The Rev. Henry Pattillo and the Churches in Orange and Granville
Mr. Davies becomes acquainted with Pattillo. Mr. Pattillo goes to reside with him. His reasons for commencing a journal. Extracts from it; his birth; becomes a merchant's clerk; removes to Virginia; commences teaching school; his religious convictions; oral meditations; an error; his desire to preach the Gospel; his Licensure; How sustained while preparing for the Ministry; his house struck with lightning. Extracts from Records of Hanover Presbytery. Goes to Hawfields, N. C., 1765. Removes to Granville, 1771. Member of Provincial Congress, 1775. Extracts from the records of Provincial Congress. The Churches in Granville. First Sacrament. Anecdote of Tennant. Extract from a Will made 1782. Act of the Congregations. Mr. Pattillo's marriage; his College Degree; his writings and publications; his death. Extract from Mr. Lacey's funeral sermon. Extract from a letter respecting his death. His successors, John Matthews, M. Currie and S. L. Graham. Origin of Congregations of Hawfields and Eno. Visits of Missionaries; M'Aden's visit in 1755 and '56; Mr. Debou, William Hodges, William Paisley. FIRST CAMP MEETINGS IN THE SOUTHERN STATES. Mr. E. B. Currie, Samuel Paisley; other supplies. Death of John Paisley. The Regulators not ignorant people.

Chapter XVII - David Caldwell, D.D., and the Churches in Orange
Unusual time of Ministerial services. Birth and parentage of Dr. Caldwell. His admission to the Church. Takes his degree in College at the age of thirty-six. Prepares for the ministry. His frankness and perseverance. Extract from minutes of Synod of New York and New Jersey. The Congregation of Buffalo. Caldwell visits Carolina. Alamance organized. Mr. Caldwvell's commission as Missionary. Is ordained July, 1765; installed, 1768; married, 1766; opens a Classical School; his'success in educating youth. Mrs. Caldwell's influence. Revivals in his school. He practises Medicine. Is a close student. Orange Presbyter • formed. The character of the Regulators. Mr. Caldwell's intercourse with them. His suflerings in the war. His labors and influence after the Revolution. Section of the Constitution. Harmonizes with Dr. Brevard in his paper of 1775. Public favor seeks him. Appointment of Clerk of a Court. His sermon during the last war with England. Degree of D.D. conferred on him by the University of N. C. His death. Death of Mrs. Caldwell. Their Burial-place. Dilly Paine, or the Tradition about Mrs. Paisley.

Chapter XVIII - New Providence and its Ministers
Situation of New Providence. Few manuscripts left. Wallis' grave. First Minister of Providence. His nephew. W. R. Davie, Major and Colonel. Rev. Robert Henry. Articles of agreement with Clear Creek. Thomas Reese. The sufferings of the Congregation. James Wallis' birth and education. His contest with Infidelity. The character of the Revolutionary soldiers in Mecklenburg and Upper Carolina. Anecdote of old Mr. Alexander. The discussion about the Bible. An Infidel Debating Society. Cause of dissatisfaction about Psalmody; a division follows. Great Camp Meeting. He teaches a Classical School Is made Trustee of the University. Sharon set off as a Church.

You can read the rest of these at

John Knox, A Biography
By D. MacMillan M.A. (1905)

Now making progress on this biography with several chapters up this week...

Chapter I - Early Years

Chapter II - Beginning of Mission

Chapter III - St. Andrews and the Galleys

Chapter IV - Religious Views

Chapter V - In England

Chapter VI - Friendships

Here is how Chapter VI starts...

WE have seen the influence that Knox had upon the Church of England. The form which the Reformation took in that country was not a little due to him. It may be true that his arrival on the scene was too late to give it that cast which he himself chiefly favoured, and which he was afterwards able to impose upon the Church of Scotland; all the same, he impressed the leaders of Church and State at the time with his personality, and introduced certain features into the doctrine and ritual of the Church of England that have characterised it ever since.

But it may be asked in turn if England had no influence upon Knox. It should never be forgotten that he spent five years of the best part of his life in that country, and that the next five years were passed on the Continent, but in ministering to an English congregation. The experience which he gained as a consequence was most valuable, and stood him in good stead in after years when he had to carry through the Reformation in his own country. But there are those who think that that experience was not the only benefit which he received from England and Englishmen. They imagine that his natural asperity was somewhat softened by fellowship with men and women who belonged to an older civilisation, and that the amenity of life which prevailed in the sister country across the border toned down his innate tendency to sharpness of temper and harshness of judgment.

This, of course, is very flattering to England, and not very complimentary to Knox. We fail to see the truth of it. Knox's character was all of a piece. The friendships which figure prominently in his life at that time, and which were made immediately after his appearance in England, show that by nature he was not the rough, rude, self-contained man that some imagine him to have been ; for beneath a rugged exterior there was a depth of affection and tenderness which drew to him those who felt the need of support and comfort while waging the battle of life.

It may appear singular that his English friends were for the most part women. His relations toward them form one of the most charming features of his life. Knox before and after this time had many men friends, but his attitude towards them was quite different from that which existed between him and his women friends. The men joined with the Reformer in the great public work which the times demanded. Their friendship was largely a matter of intellectual and political sympathy, but his relations to women were quite different. They looked to him for spiritual comfort and leaned upon him for religious support, and this is all the more remarkable because, in his First Blast against the Monstruous Regiment of Women, he is not slack in declaring his poor opinion of the gentler sex. "Women," he said in that remarkable and imprudent production, "women are weak, frail, impatient, feeble, and foolish"; and yet he in turn would seem to have leaned upon women and to have found them the most helpful of friends. The truth is that in Knox's case, as in that of many others, the head and heart were at war, and his practice was better than his belief

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The other chapters can be read at

Scientists and Inventors
Another chapter from "The Scots in America".

Here is how this chapter starts...

IT would be singular if a country whose genius gave to the world the art of logarithms, the steam engine, the knowledge of chloroform, illuminating gas, and a host of other universally renowned inventions, discoveries, and appliances would not be represented in scientific pursuits and the higher mechanical sciences in America. We specify higher mechanical because what might be termed actual mechanical work can have no share in our inquiries. Scotch mechanics are found all over the country, and are generally held in the highest regard for their thorough mastery over their work, their intelligent manipulation of details, their readiness to grasp new ideas, even when they do not evolve them, and their conscientious devotion to whatever matter may be in hand. There is not a railway machine shop in America, or iron shipbuilding establishment, where Scotch mechanics may not be found. The same, in fact, might be said of every extensive mechanical establishment on the continent. Into the story of this great army of toilers, hard at work, every (lay doing something that is to aid in the further development of the country's resources or comforts, we cannot enter. We must perforce confine ourselves to the higher departments of science—to examples selected from among what may be called professional workers.

Without at all attempting to take away from any one the credit of being the first to make the science of telegraphy a success, we must claim that the first publicly to express the idea that electricity could be so utilized was a Scotsman who ended his days in Virginia. This was Charles Morrison, a native of Greenock. Very little is known about his life history beyond the fact that he was a surgeon by profession, a man of extreme modesty, and that, unable to make a living in Scotland, he crossed over to Virginia and died there. Many efforts have been made in America and Scotland to discover some additional information about his life and death, but without avail. His claim to have demonstrated that electricity could be utilized for conveying intelligence is based upon a letter which he sent from Renfrew to the Scots Magazine, and which appeared in that once famous periodical in 1753. The essential portion of the letter is as follows:

You can read the rest of this at

Robert Burns - The Lassies
By George Scott Walker

Some wee time ago George gave me permission to scan in this book and make it available on the site. I have at last managed to get the time to do this and so the entire book is now availabke for downloading as a 15.5Mb pdf file.

Here is the book summary to read here...

Was Robert Burns the philanderer and rake he was purported to be? Or was he simply a common man of his time when it came to the female sex? In Robert Burns - The Lassies George Scott Wilkie looks at the letters, poems and songs that Burns penned in praise (and sometimes not!) of the women in his short yet remarkable life. This is a revealing collection portraying over 80 women from his first romantic stirring at 15 to his encounter with a haughty laird's daughter, through some of the women who fathered his children to the delectable, yet unattainable Clarinda and beyond. Burns wrote a great deal to or about women. Some of this took the form of love poems or songs, intended to sway the heart of whoever had caught his eye, some in honour of a more casual acquaintance whose beauty or talents had impressed him in some way. But he also wrote compositions simply as a form of saying thank you for gifts or hospitality that he had received and occasionally he railed against women who had spurned or ignored him. Robert Burns - The Lassies is a collection of all these musings, and each one is accompanied with the background to Burns' relationship with the woman in question. This is an essential part of any bookshelf on Scotland's national bard.

GEORGE SCOTT WILKIE became a fan of Burns as a Leith schoolboy and has retained his passion for the bard throughout his adult life. He is the author of Select Works of Robert Burns and Understanding Robert Burns. He wrote the screenplay for Scotfilms 'In search of Robert Burns' presented by James Cosmo. He is retired and lives near Cambridge.

You can download the book at

Beth's New Fangled Family Tree
The December issue is now available but only Part 1 at time of writing. Hopefully Part 2 will be available in the next 24 hours. Beth did send Part 2 to me but I didn't receive it so have emailed her and so hopefully it will come in later tonight or tomorrow.

You can read the December issue at

And that's it for this week and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend :-)


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