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8th May 2009

Alastair McIntyreElectric Scotland's Weekly Email Newsletter

Electric Scotland - The No.1 Scottish History Site The Aois Community brings you message forums and lots of community services
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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. In the event the link is not clickable simply copy and paste the link into your browser.

See our Calendar of Scottish Events around the world and add your own at

Electric Scotland News
The Flag in the Wind
Clans and Family Information
Poetry and Stories
Book of Scottish Story
The Concise Household Encyclopaedia
Social Life in Scotland
The Writings of John Muir
Fraser's Scottish Annual
Robert Burns Lives!
Among the Forrest Trees
Alberta, Past and Present, Historical and Biographical
The Scottish Church (New Book)

I was away in Toronto this week attending the ordination of Nola Crewe on the Sunday and then taking my first meeting of the Scottish Studies Society as President on the Tuesday and then back home on the Wednesday.


Has fun the previous Friday when a car ran into my home and knocked down the brick pillar that holds up the porch. You can see some pictures of this at


We have a new advertiser, FamilyTreeDNA, who are the largest such organisation and have also been selected as the official DNA tester for the Scottish Gathering this year. You can learn more about them at

They of course don't do just Scottish names but they certainly have a load of Scottish clan and surname projects on the go.


And another new advertiser, this time for Hotels around the world. We are trying this out in the header of our site index page. I'd appreciate your feedback on this one as to whether you'd find it useful or not and if you do then I might put it across the site.

Essentially this advertiser allows you to search across all the major hotel sites to find the best prices for hotels anywhere in the world. This means if you were looking for an hotel in New York, Toronto, London, Glasgow, etc. then just enter the details and it will come up with various options for you. To try it out just go to our index page at 

It just struck me that many of you travel all over the place and so this might be a useful service to offer.

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 who talks about it being exam time in Scotland and also about Scotland being the base for all submarines in the UK.

We don't have Peter's cultural section this week and dare say we'll learn more about this in due course.

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

Christina McKelvie MSP's Weekly diary is available at

Clans and Family Information
We have been informed of two new web sites for the name Martin which you can get to at

Poetry and Stories
John sent in another poem this week...

"Flichty Jean" at

You can also read other stories in our Article Service and even add your own at

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

This week have added the 2nd and final chapter of...

Richard Sinclair; or, the Poor Prodigal
by Thomas Aird

Here is how it starts...

With the calmness almost of despair, when the closing eve took away his chance of seeing any more stray passengers that day, the poor youth groped his way to his marble slab, and again sat down with a strange vacuity of heart, as if it would refuse further thought of his dismal situation. A new fear came over him, however, when daylight thickened at the grated window of his low room, and the white marbles grew dark around him. And not without creeping horror did he remember that from this very aisle it was that old Johnny Hogg, a former sexton, was said to have seen a strange vile animal issue forth one moonlight night, run to a neighbouring stream, and after lapping a little, hurry back, trotting over the blue graves, and slinking through beneath the table stones, as if afraid of being shut out from its dull, fat haunt. Hurriedly, yet with keen inspection, was young Sinclair fascinated to look around him over the dim floor ; and while the horrid apprehension came over him, that he was just on the point of seeing the two eyes of the gloating beast, white and muddy from its unhallowed surfeits, he drew up his feet on the slab on which he sat, lest it should crawl over them. A thousand tales—true to boyish impressions—crowded on his mind; and by this rapid movement of sympathetic associations, enough of itself, while it lasts, to make the stoutest heart nervous, and from the irritation of his body from other causes, so much was his mind startled from its propriety that he thought he heard the devil ranging through the empty pews of the church; and there seemed to flash before his eyes a thousand hurrying shapes, condemned and fretted ghosts of malignant aspect, that cannot rest in their wormy graves, and milky-curdled babes of untimely birth, that are buried in twilights, never to see the sun.

Soon, however, these silly fears went off, and the tangible evil of his situation again stood forth, and drove him to renew his cries for assistance, and his attacks upon the door, ere he should be quite enfeebled by hunger and disease. Again he had to sit down, after spending his strength in vain.

The rest of this chapter can be read at

The other stories can be read at

The Concise Household Encyclopaedia
Added four more pages including, Cricket, Crinoline, Cripple, Crochet, Crock, Crockery, Crocus, Croquet, Croquette, Crossbanding, Cross Cut Saw, Cross-Eye, Cross Garnet Hinge.

You can read about these at

Social Life in Scotland
From Early to Recent Times by Rev. Charles Rogers in 3 volumes (1884)

Now on the third and final volume of this publication with...

Chapter XXI.
Demons and Apparitions

Here is how this chapter starts...

IN popular phraseology the devil was "Nick" or "Old Nick," a term derived from niken or necken, a Danish word which signifies to destroy. To his special emissaries, the sorcerers, " Old Nick " was, as we have shown, supposed to appear in a variety of forms, generally in the likeness of the lower animals. He was believed to choose shapes conformable to his errands. Distracted by persecution, and with their imaginations excited by their untoward surroundings, the adherents of the Covenant were led to fancy that Satan pursued them in corporeal forms. Under the dim twilight he seemed to cross their path in the mountain correi, in the lonesome cavern, or in other solitary places. Alexander Peden, the prophet of the Covenant, was supposed to have personally encountered the devil in a cave. Between the devil and two Covenanters occurred a conflict in the Forest of Ettrick. On the Moffat Water, in a wild ravine, Halbert Dobson and David Dun, two proscribed Presbyterians, had constructed a hiding-place. Here the devil appeared to them in the aspect of a marauder; but he was, on being assailed with their Bibles, compelled to flee, leaving behind him a bundle of hides. Hence the lines:

Little ken'd the wirrikowI
What the Covenant would do;
What o' faith, and what o' pen,
What o' might and what o' men,
Or he had never shown his face,
His reekit rags an' riven toes,
To men o' nieik an' men o' mense,
For Hab Dob and Davie Din
Dan the deil oure Dob's Linn.

Weir' quo he, an' ' weir' quo he,
Haud the Bible til his e'e;
Ding him oure, or thrash him doun,
He's a fause, deceitfu' loon.'
Then he oure him, an' he oure him,
Ike oure him, an' he oure him
Habby held him griff and grim,
Davie thrash him hip an' line';
Till like a bunch o' basket skins
Doun fell Satan oure the Linns."

John Graham of Claverhouse was regarded as a personal ally of the Evil One, who had shown him the secret of becoming bullet-proof. But they had prepared a preternatural defiance to leaden shot only, which becoming known to one in the opposing army, he at the battle of Killiecrankie discharged from his firelock at the Jacobite leader a silver button. And thus he fell mortally wounded.

During the months of February, March, and April 1695, the house of Andrew Jackie, mason at Ring-croft, in the parish of Rerrick, and Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, was a scene of commotion. Into the house, by an invisible hand, were thrown stones and missiles of all sorts. Voices were heard uttering fierce adjurations. Missives were found scattered about inscribed with blood. Members of the household were beaten with invisible rods, and dragged about roughly. '1'1he neighbouring clergy assembled, and in a written narrative certified as to the strange proceedings. The cause remained undiscovered.

You can read lots more from this chapter at

You can get to the index page of the book at

The Writings of John Muir
Now completed Volume 4 - The Mountains of California - with...

Chapter VII. The Glacier Meadows
Chapter VIII. The Forests
Chapter IX. The Douglas Squirrel
Chapter X. A Wind-Storm in the Forests
Chapter XI. The River Floods

Here is how the chapter VIII starts...

THE coniferous forests of the Sierra are the grandest and most beautiful in the world, and grow in a delightful climate on the most interesting and accessible of mountain ranges, yet strange to say they are not well known. More than sixty years ago David Douglas, an enthusiastic botanist and tree-lover, wandered alone through fine sections of the sugar pine and silver fir woods wild with delight. A few years later, other botanists made short journeys from the coast into the lower woods. Then came the wonderful multitude of miners into the foothill zone, mostly blind with gold-dust, soon followed by "sheepmen," who, with wool over their eyes, chased their flocks through all the forest belts from one end of the range to the other. Then the Yosemite Valley was discovered, and thousands of admiring tourists passed through sections of the lower and middle zones on their way to that wonderful park, and gained fine glimpses of the sugar pines and silver firs along the edges of dusty trails and roads. But few, indeed, strong and free with eyes undimmed with care, have gone far enough and lived long enough with the trees to gain anything like a loving conception of their grandeur and significance as manifested in the harmonies of their distribution and varying aspects throughout the seasons, as they stand arrayed in their winter garb rejoicing in storms, putting forth their fresh leaves in the spring while steaming with resiny fragrance, receiving the thundershowers of summer, or reposing heavy-laden with ripe cones in the rich sun-gold of autumn. For knowledge of this kind one must dwell with the trees and grow with them, without any reference to time in the almanac sense.

The distribution of the general forest in belts is readily perceived. These, as we have seen, extend in regular order from one extremity of the range to the other; and however dense and somber they may appear in general views, neither on the rocky heights nor down in the leafiest hollows will you find anything to remind you of the dank, malarial selvas of the Amazon and Orinoco, with their "boundless contiguity of shade," the monotonous uniformity of the deodar forests of the Himalaya, the Black Forest of Europe, or the dense dark woods of Douglas spruce where rolls the Oregon. The giant pines, and firs, and sequoias hold their arms open to the sunlight, rising above one another on the mountain benches, marshaled in glorious array, giving forth the utmost expression of grandeur and beauty with inexhaustible variety and harmony.

The inviting openness of the Sierra woods is one of their most distinguishing characteristics. The trees of all the species stand more or less apart in groves, or in small, irregular groups, enabling one to find a way nearly everywhere, along sunny colonnades and through openings that have a smooth, parklike surface, strewn with brown needles and burs. Now you cross a wild garden, now a meadow, now a ferny, willowy stream; and ever and anon you emerge from all the groves and flowers upon some granite pavement or high, bare ridge commanding superb views above the waving sea of evergreens far and near.

One would experience but little difficulty in riding on horseback through the successive belts all the way up to the storm-beaten fringes of the icy peaks. The deep canons, however, that extend from the axis of the range, cut the belts more or less completely into sections, and prevent the mounted traveler from tracing them lengthwise.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

We have also made a start on the 5th volume

Chapter XII. Sierra Thunderstorms
Chapter XIII. The Water-Ouzel

The rest of the chapters can be read at

Fraser's Scottish Annual
These are articles from the 1900 - 1904 issues of Fraser's Scottish Annual. This week we've added...

The Fifth Earl of Selkirk and His Canadian Settlements
Good Life, Long Life
Scots' Laws
Queen's University, Kingston
A Great Scottish Fur Trader
Oh, For The Hills!
An Exile of Thrums

Here is how the article on "An Exile of Thrums" starts...


Or did misfortune's bitter storms
Around thee blaw, around thee blaw;
Thy bield should be my bosom,
To share it a', to share it a'."

OUR first knowledge of the new girl in the kitchen was the unwelcome news that as she had displaced her kneecap, we, the boarders, would have to accept with resignation any diminution in the quality of attendance, or the quantity of the menu which our landlady might consider necessary under the circumstances. I have called her the new girl, I should have said new woman but that I feared the reader might think I meant the new woman who is going the round of the newspapers. The girl in the kitchen as I became aware later was probably sixty and certainly Scotch :also a dauntless old woman, which last named characteristic is a quality not only indisseverably connected with the names of Baroness Nairne, Elizabeth Blackwell, Jennie Geddes, Janet Hamilton and Flora Macdonald, but with that more insignificant host who are only Scottish mothers. And when one remembers the value which Scottish women have always placed upon education, their appreciation of the vast responsibilities and exaltitude of the maternal privilege,—their perfect confidence in their right to have a finger in the political—which was almost always the religious— pie of their country, the conviction arises that the newness of the new woman is after all only an attempt to attain that strength of character which seems to be inherent in the native born Scotchwoman.

To return to the point, after only three days' trial the new girl fell and displaced her kneecap.

Knowing how little time and. sympathy the somewhat shrewish head of the house had at her disposal I tapped at the new girl's door to ask if there was anything I could do. It was then I first became aware that the girl was quite an elderly woman. Her grey hair brushed smoothly back under her plain nightcap—decently apparelled in every particular she lay there amid the most forlorn surroundings - a sonsy, motherly, patient old soul.

"Is there anything I can do?" I asked.

"Naething, thank ye, mem, I'm no what ye cud ca' ill. I hae slipt ma kneecap and there's naething to be dune but tae lie here till't mends."

"Have you had a doctor?"

"Aye, Maistress Pairsons (one of the boarders) insistit on sendin' her doctor. He's been attendin' the wee fellow that's doon wi' the croup. So she said t'wad be nae trouble for'm to luik at ma knee. I thocht I'd juist glen it a bit twest but he tells me I've slipt the kneecap."

"That is too bad."

"It micht hae been waur," she responded cheerfully. "Hooaiver I wiz juist thinkin' Dauvit wad be distractit if he knew I viz lyin' in a strange place, no able to pit a foot aneath me. Dauvit—yon's my man."

"Oh?" If I pumped her it was with only the faintest rising inflection.

"Aye. I left him on the fairmaway up in Muskokay—did ye hear tell o' a place call't Bracebridgefar away ayont that."

My surprise being visible she vent on, by no means garrulously, but as if under the pressure of some motive which drove her to explanations and confidences she would not, in other circumstances, have entered into with a mere stranger.

The rest of this article can be read at

The other articles can be read at

Robert Burns Lives!
By Frank Shaw

Ae Fond Kiss, A Speech by Dr. James W. Flannery

As you read the next couple of paragraphs, you will understand my joy in bringing you this speech by distinguished Emory University professor, Dr. James W. Flannery. I know Jim as a fellow member of the Atlanta Burns Club. He is a multi-talented man, and it only takes a few minutes in his presence to learn he is as humble as he is gifted.

Known as “Irish-America’s Renaissance Man”, Jim is a singer, producer, stage director, scholar and critic with an international reputation as a specialist in the dramatic work of William Butler Yeats. His productions of fifteen of Yeats’s plays at the Abbey Theatre’s Yeats International Theatre Festival won critical acclaim and established Yeats’s reputation as one of the seminal figures in modern drama. Flannery has also achieved distinction as a singer, particularly as one of the foremost interpreters of the amhrán mór, or classical “high song” tradition of Ireland. His book/recording, Dear Harp of My Country: the Irish Melodies of Thomas Moore, is considered the definitive work on this central figure in the history of Irish literature and music.

Winship Professor of the Arts and Humanities at Emory University, Flannery is also the director of the W. B. Yeats Foundation, which produces a regular series of public events in Atlanta concerned with Irish culture, including the highly popular Atlanta Celtic Christmas Concert now in its seventeenth season. Regularly named one of the “Top 100” Irish-Americans by Irish America Magazine, he is listed in Who’s Who in America and is the recipient of a Georgia Governor’s Award in the Humanities for his promotion of a wider understanding of the cultural traditions of the Celtic lands and their contribution to the American South.

It is my pleasure to welcome Jim to the pages of Robert Burns Lives! (FRS: 4.28.09)

You can read this speach at

And you can read other articles in this Robert Burns Lives! series at

Among the Forrest Trees
or How the Bushman Family got their Homes, by being a book of facts and incidents of pioneering life in Upper Canada, arranged in the form of a story, by Rev. Joseph H. Hilts (1888)

We have several more chapters up now...

Chapter I - Found by Surveyors
Commencing Life - The Little Shanty - Sylvan Lake - Sunday - Morning Alone with Nature and with God.

Chapter II - The Road Makers
Deer and Wolves -Solitude - Housekeeping - Mr. Root's Proposal - The Travoy - The Toggled Chain.

Chapter III - House-Building
The Dinner - Poetic Effusions - A Reminiscence - Wants to be a Poet - A Surprise.

Chapter IV - A Partner Found
John 'Makes a Discovery - Asking Consent - Coming Home - Squire Myrtle - A Glad Mother.

Chapter V - An Old-Time Wedding
Blunders - Practical Courting - A Wedding - Sister Betsy - A Thrilling Tale - A Plucky Boy.

Chapter VI - Talk About Wolves
Treed by Wolves - Good Luck - Wolf Scalps and Bread - Chasing the Deer - The Last Race.

Chapter VII - Some Oral History
The United Empire Loyalists - The Gourley Trial - A Befogged Jury - A Harsh Verdict - A Cruel Sentence.

Chapter VIII - Preparing to Move
William Briars - Life's Realities - Friendly - Offerings - Betsy's Poetry - The Old Man's Story - Little Bright Eyes.

Chapter IX - Homeward Bound
Migratory Waves - Moses Moosewood's Resolve - Picture of a Court - Take a Gun Along - A Mother's Vision.

Chapter X - Some White Gipsies
A Witch Story - Backwoods Welcome - Housekeeping - Exploring the Premises - Forest Aristocrats.

Here is a bit from Chapter 5...

CLEVER men sometimes do silly things when they undertake to hunt a wife. A man may show good judgment in all the ordinary affairs of life, and yet he may act more like a lunatic than anything else when he goes courting.

The reason of this may be found in the false estimate which men sometimes make of woman's character and position. If a man looks upon a woman as being inferior to himself, he will likely assume an air of superiority over her, that will set her against him, and drive her from him.

And on the other hand, if he looks on her as an angel, done up in skirts and corsets, he will act the part of a cringing weakling, and in this way he calls out contempt where he wishes to gain esteem, and provokes aversion where he hopes to awaken love.

If this man would counsel with his mother or his sister they would tell him that a woman never can respect what she despises, nor love what she stands in dread of.

John Bushman was a sensible young man. He did not estimate woman to be either better or worse than himself. He simply treated her as his equal—nothing more, nothing less. As a natural consequence, he had the respect of his lady friends.

But there was one of the number that had a stronger feeling towards him than simple respect. This one was little Mary Myrtle, whose image John so unexpectedly discovered that day that he looked into his heart when on his way home. We call her little, not because she was so very small, but from a habit that nearly every one got into when Mary was a child. It was done to distinguish her from an aunt of the same name, who was a young woman when she was an infant.

John had not as yet said anything to her about becoming Mrs. Bushman, although, like an honest, manly man, he had asked her parents' consent to do so.

Mrs. Myrtle said to Mary the next morning after the interview recorded at the close of the last chapter, John Bushman asked your father and me if he might try and persuade you to go with him to the bush as his wife. What do you think of that?

"Did you tell hint he might? " demurely asked the young lady.

What else could we tell him? he is all right himself, and we cannot expect to keep you always. Will he have a very difficult task?" said the mother, with a mischievous twinkle in her eye.

"I do not think so," was the candid reply.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The other chapters can be read at

Alberta, Past and Present, Historical and Biographical
By John Blue, B.A. (1924)

We know have several chapters up...

First Period 1751 - 1811

Chapter I
Early Explorers—Fur Traders
Chapter II
Explorers and Fur Traders (Continued)

Second Period 1811 - 1821

Chapter III
Rival Fur Companies—Selkirk Purchase— Names of Chief Factors—Chief Traders

Third Period 1821 - 1824

Chapter IV
The Council of Rupert's Land—Settlement of Retired Employes
Chapter V
George Simpson
Chapter VI
Further Exploration and Travel
Chapter VII
Political History of the North West Territories and Alberta From 1867-1905
Chapter VIII
Political History of Alberta-1905-1921
Chapter IX
Autonomy, The Alberta Act and the Constitution

Here is how Chapter III starts...

The history of the ten years from 1811 to 1821 is concerned with the bitter and bloody rivalry of the two big fur companies,— The North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company. The struggle commenced on the Red River with the establishment of the Selkirk settlement and spread to Athabasca, the richest fur region in the whole North-West. Lord Selkirk had become the controlling shareholder in the Hudson's Bay Co., and launched his Red River colonization scheme in opposition to Sir Alexander Mackenzie, John Inglis, Edward Ellice and other Nor'Westers who held Hudson's Bay Company stock. Mackenzie advised the Nor'West partners to buy the controlling interests in the Hudson's Bay Company but Simon McGillivray thought it was easier to fight their opponents or divide the territory, and proposed that the Hudson's Bay Company should restrict their operations to the Hudson's Bay area and allow the North West Company the freedom of the Athabaska and Saskatchewan and Red River districts. Selkirk, however, had obtained high legal opinion on the legality of the Hudson's Bay Charter and believed that the Company had exclusive rights, territorial and otherwise, throughout the Hudson's Bay area and the entire North-West. He therefore saw no reason for sharing with others what he thought belonged exclusively to himself.

Had the Nor-Westers taken the advice of Mackenzie the conflict of violence and plunder would have been avoided and the course of events materially changed. The first conflict arose out of Selkirk's attempt to oust the North West Company from the immense land grant he had secured from the Hudson's Bay Company along the Red River, 116,000 square miles comprising Manitoba and a large portion of what is now the State of Minnesota. It soon became a life and death struggle for the control of the fur trade of the entire North-West. Acting on the advice of experienced Canadians in the western fur trade, like Colin Robertson and John Clarke, Selkirk decided to adopt new methods and employ Canadians instead of Orkney men in the service of the Company. Both Robertson and Clarke were old Nor'Westers. Robertson had been at Fort Augustus with Macdonald of Garth in the early days, but quarrelling with that haughty bourgeois he stepped out of the North West Fort and readily obtained employment at the Hudson's Bay Company Post, a gunshot away. He was just the man for Selkirk,—brave, resourceful, an experienced trader and traveller, and burning with hatred against his former employers. Clarke was known as "Fighting John Clarke." He left the service of the North West Company in 1810 and joined the Astor Expedition to the mouth of the Columbia. After the purchase of that enterprise by the Nor'Westers he then took service with the Hudson's Bay Company. For the first time in the history of the fur trade, the Nor'Westers were to be opposed by men as skilled in dealing with the natives, as daring and resourceful in means of attack and defense, in a vast region where neither form of government nor law or order had been established. "The Lords of the Lakes and Forests" were to be challenged for the supremacy of the North-West.

When Selkirk purchased his 116,000 square miles, he deemed himself as much the owner of the soil in fee simple, as the homesteader of today who obtains his patent from the Crown, and as legally empowered to resist and oust all trespassers. "With respect to our rights of landed property, that is universally considered as clear and quite unquestionable," he wrote to Miles McDonnell, June 30th, 1813. He was determined that the North West Company should not obtain any prescriptive right by unmolested occupation. "The North West Company must be compelled to quit my lands, especially my posts at the Forks," he wrote on March 31st, 1816. "You must give them solemn warning that the land belongs to the Hudson's Bay Company. They should be treated as poachers. We are so fully advised of the unimpeachable validity of these rights of property, there can be no scruple in enforcing them when you have the physical means." The Nor'Westeis, who regarded themselves as the lineal descendants of the French in the Interior, were ready to answer the challenge of physical means. They had occupied the country before the Hudson's Bay traders and claimed it by title of prior occupation. Now they were eager to doubly confirm that title by conquest.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The rest of the chapters can be read at

The Scottish Church
From Earliest Times to 1881, By W. Chambers (1881)

Our thanks go to John Henderson for sending this into us.

These are a series of lectures gives about various aspects of the Church in Scotland and also starts with a History of St. Giles Cathedral Church.

We have up the history of St Giles as well as the first lecture which can be read at

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


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