TEACHERS IN DOLLAR ACADEMY IN MY SCHOOL DAYS.
I WILL now give the names of the teachers in the Academy when
I was at school.
Mr. James Walker, English teacher; Mr. Charles Mtlntosh, Mr.
Walker's assistant; Mr. Peter Steven, writing and arithmetic;
Mr. Power, Mr. Steven's assistant;
Mr. William Tennant
(afterwards Professor in St. Andrews, and Author of Anster
Fair), Latin, Greek, and Hebrew; Mr. Balfour, Mr. Tennant's
assistant; Mr. David Gray (afterwards Professor in Aberdeen),
mathematics; Mr. Thomas Martin, teacher of geography, and
librarian to the Institution; Mr. Patrick Syme, drawing; Mr.
Gerlach, French, German, etc.; Mrs. Brydie, sewing mistress;
Miss Spittal, Mrs. Brydie's assistant; Mr. Thomas Russell,
infant teacher; Mr. Gibson (a very worthy man), janitor.
THE OLD CHURCH OF DOLLAR - REV. DR. MYLNE, ETC.
About the year 1841 the old Established Church ceased to be
used as a place of worship, the present handsome church being
then erected. The old church (we learn from the Statistical
Account of Scotland) was rebuilt in the year 1775, and was
considered a very neat little church. I have a distinct
recollection of this old building, in which the late Dr. Mylne
for upwards of twenty-five years preached; and give herewith a
rough sketch of its internal arrangements—the front of the
gallery, and two of the seats in it, being in dotted lines. I
have also given a few of the names of those to whom the seats
Robert Forrester was precentor in the old church from as far
back as I can recollect, till its close; and John Christie was
beadle. There was a square seat in the front of the west
gallery, where the Honourable David Erskine, of Broomrig (now
Mr. Leishman's house), and his family sat; while the
corresponding seat in the east gallery was occupied by Mr.
Haig's family of Dollarfield.
Mr. Erskine (the grandfather of the present Earl of Mar and
Kellie) was very short of stature, and blind; but Mrs. Erskine
was a tall, fine-looking lady, and their family were generally
tall. Charles attended Dollar Academy for a number of years;
but Colonel Erskine, his eldest brother (afterwards Earl of
Mar and Kellie), never resided in Dollar.
The communion was observed in those days only once a year, and
some folks seemed to think that by 'showing face' in the
church on those occasions, and attending on all the 'preaching
days' (as they were called)—the. Fast-day, Saturday, and
Monday—they were giving quite enough attention to the concerns
of eternity. They 'prepared' themselves for the sacrament,
and, after it was past, thought no more, apparently, about
these things, till next year again, as they were never seen in
church till the next communion season. I recollect well of
some such who sat near our seat in the low church, on whom we
could thus calculate of being sure to see in church at least
once a year. On those sacramental occasions a tent was
generally erected in the churchyard, and preaching was carried
on in it and in the church at the same time. People went long
distances to attend sacraments, and great gatherings were
often to be seen around the tents. The Fast-day was looked
upon as of quite as solemn a nature as the Sabbath, and for
any one to be seen doing any kind of work on that day, was
sufficient to stamp him at once 'as a regular heathen,' and
quite a proper subject to be taken before the session. (The
old session records of Tihicoultry can tell some most amusing
stories in regard to this; and very probably those of Dollar,
and most other places in Scotland, can do the same. A man was
taken before the session in Tillicoultry for putting his horse
into his cart on the Fast-day, and pleaded as his excuse that
he quite forgot it was the Fast-day.
About the year 1640, when Mr. Carmichael was minister of
Markinch, great stress seems to have been laid on special days
of fasting, and almost every month the people were called upon
'to bewail] their own sinnes, and ye sinnes of ye land;' and
so sacred were those days considered, that the people were
forbidden to 'think their own thoughts, or do their own deeds'
upon them. From the session records of this parish, I give the
following extracts as a specimen of the reasons given for
those frequent days of fasting :-
'6th January 1644.—Collected by David Dalrymple, and James
Wilsone. . . . (being ane preperation to an fast), for ye
causes following: Imprimo, To bewaill our own sinnes, and ye
sinnes of ye land. 2. That God would grant ane end to ye
distractions of England and distractions of Ireland. 3. That
He wauld grant ane prosperous
success to ye Parliament of England and Convention of Divines
mett ther, and our Commissioners present with them. 4. That
God would grant an prosperous success to our armie intending
to goe to England.'
'27th October 1644.—This day was appointed
to be ane day of humiiatione. . . . We have great reason to be
humbled in a solemne manner by fasting and prayer, becaus we
see ye anger of God is kindled against us in ane extraordinary
way, as is evidently seen and felt- 1. By slow progress of ye
much-wished wark of reformatione. 2. Bye long continuance of
thois bloodie and unnatural warres within this kingdom. 3. By
this Unhappie division betwixt the king and his subjects,
fomented by ye popishe and prelaticall faction with their
adherents and nialignantis. 4. By ye breach aireadie maid by a
contemptible crew, naked and unarmed, upon our dear brethren
in Stratherne, Fyffe, Aberdene, and other parts in ye north,
with effusion of much Christian blood, and spoyling of goodis,
whereby many honest women are made desolat widowis, many
children fatherless, and whole families brought to extreme
povertie. We are turned back in ye day off battell, and fled
as ye Israelites before Ai, so we fled before a base, unarmed,
and inconsiderable enemie.'
'21st September 1645.—The whilk day was ane
thanksgiving for the happie victorie obtained by
LievtenantGenerall David Leslie against James Grahame,
sometyme Earl of Montross, and his rebellis at Philip-Haugh,
neir Jedburch, upon ye 13th of September 1645.'
When referring to the observance of
Fast-days—special and sacramental—in days of old, it may not
be out of place here to give an amusing incident, showing the
rigidly strict way the Sabbath was kept in some houses not
long ago. A young gentleman of our own neighbourbood paid a
visit, when a little boy, to the manse on a Sabbath-day, and
to his great horror the minister's dog —a brisk little frisky
thing—was romping about through the house, enjoying itself, as
dogs will do, even on the Sabbath-day, when the question was
at once asked by my' young hopeful,' 'Why does yer dog play on
the Sabbath-day?' to which the minister's lady replied, 'Oh,
you know, James, the dog doesn't know any better.' 'A-weel
(says Jamie) if it wis in oor hoose it wid be gard ken' (made
Dr. Mylne didn't trouble himself much about
composing sermons; for having, apparently, a good stock when
he came to Dollar, he made them 'stand him in good stead'
during the whole of his sojourn there. So much was this the
case, that I think nearly the whole of his congregation would
be able to repeat the most of them from end to end. I
recollect well of an amusing story in connection with this. A
worthy old lady from Auchterarder (Mrs. Dewar, a cousin of my
father's) was paying us a visit, and heard the Doctor lecture
on a favourite theme of his, 'The Ten Virgins.' Coming back
some ten years afterwards, the Doctor again lectured on the
same subject, and very naturally and simply the good old lady
asked, Does Dr. Mylne always preach on "The Ten Virgins"?'
The worthy Doctor seemed to begin at the
top of his pile of sermons, and went regularly down to the
bottom; and when that was reached, turned them upside down,
and repeated the process over again; and so on, year after
year, till the end of his days.
AN OLD LADY'S OPINION OF WHAT CONSTITUTED
A good story is told of two worthy old
dames of Dollar, one of whom I remember well, which shows the
idea that some folks had in those days of what constituted 'a
Christian.' The worthy ladies were gossiping one day on the
character of one of their neighbours (a well-known man in
Dollar), and took opposite views as to his being 'a
Christian;' when one of them 'clinched' the argument by
exclaiming, 'Him a Christian! na, na, he's no that, for he
never pits siller in the plate.' (This is a good hint to the
late Dr. William Anderson's 10 d. to the score' sort.)
For a number of years after Dollar Academy
was commenced, the kirk-session was often composed of a very
few members, and for some time previous to the year 1826, of
only two, viz. Robert Smith, a shoemaker, and a James
Christie, who were seldom consulted by Dr. Mylne about the
affairs of the Institution; so that during that time he was
virtually the sole ruler in everything connected with it, and,
as almost invariably happens when too much power is left in
the hands of one man, he ruled with a very high hand. He
expelled scholars for the most trivial offences, and issued
some very arbitrary decrees. As a specimen of the latter, I
subjoin the following correspondence, which will explain
From MR. M'KELVIE to DR. MYLNE.
'DOLLAR, 24th July 1826.
'REV. SIR,—Having heard some surmises that
it is your intention, after the coming vacation, to prevent
persons keeping boarders in Dollar from engaging young men of
the Secession Church as tutors, and being unable to learn the
truth of these surmises, I have taken the liberty of writing
you, to request that you would make me aware, by letter or
otherwise, if such really be your intention. Your doing so
will confer a favour, as it will enable me to make such
arrangements as your determination may require.
'I have been informed that you have come to
the above resolution in consequence of a report having reached
you that the Stirling Secession Presbytery hesitated to grant
Mr. Skinner licence, because he attended on your ministry. I
was present when Mr. S. was licensed, and think it a duty I
owe to that gentleman, and to the Presbytery, to say that such
a subject was never once alluded to.—I am, etc.,
[This Mr. M'Kelvie (afterwards Dr. M'Kelvie)
was the much-esteemed minister of Balgeddie for thirty- four
years (from 1829 till 1863), and author of the Annals and
Statistics of the U. P. Church; and of The Life and
Vindication of Michael Bruce.]
DR. MYLE's Answer.
'DR. MYLNE begs to acknowledge the receipt
of Mr. M'Kelvie's note, and expresses his regret that, owing
to his being from home, and the pressure of some urgent
business, it has not been in his power to reply to it sooner.
'it is quite true that the Trustees of
M'Nab's Legacy have determined, that after the vacation all
persons taking the charge of the pupils attending M'Nab's
School must set their pupils the example of attending the
Parish Church. It amounts to the same thing whether the
absence of the tutors from the Parish Church be the result of
their own choice, or an act of obedience to the orders of
'As to what actually passed in the
Presbytery of the Secession Church, the Trustees of M'Nab's
Legacy have no right to know, neither is it any concern of
theirs; for whatever happened on the occasion alluded to,
cannot affect the general question.
'Dollar Manse, 28th July 1826.'
On inquiry being made at the Doctor's two
elders about the issuing of this order, it was found that they
had never been consulted in the matter, and were quite opposed
to it; and when taken to task about this, the Doctor frankly
confessed that he never thought of consulting them about
anything in connection with the Academy; but that he always,
nevertheless, issued his mandates in the name of 'the
Trustees;' and that, in this instance, he had just acted
according to his usual practice.
This state of matters caused much
discontent throughout the parish, and finally led to a
movement being set on foot to get the Doctor to appoint a
number of new elders, to act along with him in the management
of the Trust. The first to move in the matter was Captain
Pinkerton, who waited on Captain Porteous, to ascertain his
views about the existing state of things; and both together
called on Dr. Elliot; and all the three were of one opinion,
that something must be done at once to prevent the Academy
Those three, then, commenced an agitation
in Dollar, which, after a number of meetings of the
inhabitants had been held, and an extensive correspondence had
taken place, finally compelled Dr. Mylne to appoint a number
of new elders; and on Sabbath the 12th of November 1826, the
following gentlemen were inducted into office:—Messrs.
Craufurd Tait of Harviestoun; John Tait (sheriff); William
Haig, Doliarfield; James Haig, Dollarfield; William Clark,
Dollarbeg; John M'Arthur Muir, Hilifoot; Robert Kirk, Dollar;
and William Gibson, Dollar. [Mr. William Gibson (the writer's
father) was, after a time, appointed secretary and treasurer,
and continued so till his death.]
This large accession to the number of the
Trustees took the responsibility off Dr. Mylne's head to a
great extent; and although it did not altogether allay the
strong feeling that had been raised up against him by many of
his acts, it was a great improvement upon the old régime. The
new Trustees did not, however, find their new berths 'a bed of
roses;' for a feeling had been stirred up amongst a number of
the folks that M'Nab's Legacy should have been divided amongst
them; and this was carried to such an extent, that an action
was actually raised in the Court of Session against the
Trustees, concluding for the modest sum of £70,000. This,
however, by the energy of Dr. Mylne and his able body of
Trustees, was speedily defeated, and the noble. Institution,
with all its benefits, secured to Dollar. A Mr. George
Somerville, of the New Town (who had some legal knowledge),
took a very active part in this 'law plea,' and was ever
afterwards spoken of in connection with it.
Notwithstanding the assistance of such a
large number of Trustees, a good deal of grumbling was still
kept up in the parish about the management of the Trust; and,
to put an end to this, Dr. Mylne finally resolved to petition
Parliament to get a Board of Trustees appointed on a new
basis; and an Act was accordingly got in 1847, constituting a
new Board, as follows: The parish minister and only four of
his session were now to be Trustees, those four to be chosen
by the session, and to continue for life. Two members of the
Stirling Presbytery, and two representative members for the
parishioners of Dollar—chosen every five years—were now to be
Trustees; and any gentleman possessed of £200 annual income
from heritable property in the county of Clackmannan, and
paying taxes in the parish of Dollar, is eligible for being a
Trustee. The Principal of the University of Edinburgh, the
Lord-Lieutenant, Vice-Lieutenant, Convener, and Sheriff of the
county of Clackmannan, and the patron of the parish of Dollar,
are also Trustees.
Dr. Mylne was a man of great talent, and
was the author of several educational books of intrinsic
value; amongst others, an excellent English Grammar, an
elementary book on Astronomy, questions on the histories of
England, of Greece, and of Rome; and he was also a contributor
to the Encyclopaedia Britannica when it was brought out.
The Doctor was short of stature, very
stout, of a ruddy complexion, and wore a dark wig, which made
him look younger than he really was. An excellent portrait of
him is to be seen in the Trustees' room of the Institution,
presented by Mrs. Edinonstone (Mrs. Mylne's residuary
legatee), through Mr. Haig of Dollar- field.
From the long intimacy that existed between
Sheriff Tait and Dr. Mylne, the sheriff should have been able
to form a pretty correct opinion of him; and in a lecture on
'Dollar,'—delivered by the sheriff in 1867, —he says of him,
'that although he had a quick and irascible temper, he had
under it all a kind heart;' in charity, therefore, to the old
Doctor, let us hope the sheriff's estimate of him was correct.
He died in 1856, aged eighty-one years, in the forty-first
year of his ministry.
My father's burying-ground is right in
front of the west door of the old church, and there lie the
remains of my Grandfather and Grandmother Gibson, Uncle James,
my father and mother, and five of their family— my eldest
sister, Jeanie (Mrs. Daigleish), having been buried in
The interior of the old church is now, I
find, turned into a large tomb. The old Doctor lies right
under where the pulpit was, in which he so long preached. Mr.
and Mrs. Martin of Springfield are buried under their old seat
in the gallery. Mr. Peter Stalker's burying-ground is exactly
where the Wrights of Gate- side and Mr. Wardlaw's family used
to sit. Mr. Brown's is where my father's seat was.
I may here give one or two facts regarding
Dollar, as recorded in the Statistical Account of Scotland,
written by the Rev. Mr. Watson in the year 1792. The
population of Dollar at that time was 510. The poor of the
parish were supported by the church-door collections; and,
taking the average of a number of years, cost £21 annually.
Mr. Watson says, 'There have been no beggars in this parish in
the memory of man.' Average number of poor on the roll, 9.
'Mr. John M'Arbrea, the parish
schoolmaster, teaches English, Latin, Writing, Arithmetic,
etc., and is much respected. His fixed salary is only £100
Scotch, but he draws the interest of 560 merks Scotch of sunk
money, besides perquisites as precentor and session-clerk,'
etc. He was appointed parish teacher in 1763, and died in
March 1820, aged eighty-four years.
In this Statistical Account the Devon is
called the Dovan, but I think it must have been about this
time its name was changed; for the Rev. Mr. Osborne, in the
first part of his Statistical Account of Tillicoultry Parish,
calls it also the Dovan, but in the latter part the Devon. Mr.
Watson says that in harvest time sea-trouts of from 2 lbs. to
4 lbs. weight are killed in the Devon; and in the season,
salmon from 5 lbs. to 20 lbs. 'About twenty to thirty years
ago, salmon were found in Dovan in great plenty; but, from the
illegal and murderous manner of killing them with spears,
their numbers of late have greatly decreased.'
coal-works were being carried on at that time in Dollar
parish, two belonging to the Duke of Argyle, and one to Lord
Alva. Mr. Watson says, 'Ironstone is also found in different
parts of the parish, and said to be of very excellent quality.
It is working at present by the Dovan Company, who are now
erecting a public work at Sauchie, some miles to the westward,
in the parish of Clackmannan.'
'Paterfamilias' with large families would
rejoice to see those grand old days of cheap provisions back
again. Butcher meat sold at from 3d. to 4d. per lb., Dutch
weight; a good hen for from 9d. to is.; eggs, 3d. to 4d. per
dozen; butter, 6d. per lb.; cheese, 3d. But while the price of
provisions would please, the rate of wages, I am afraid, would
be decidedly objected to; and, all things considered, we would
be ready to think that we are just as well as we are. Wages of
women at out-door work, 6d. per day, at harvest time 10d. per
day, without provisions; ploughmen, £6 yearly; women servants,
£2, 10s. yearly; a mason's wage, is. 8d. to 2s. per day; a
joiner's, is. 6d. to is. 8d.; a tailor's, 8d.; a slater's, 2s.
The Academy having been opened in 1820, my
father's family all had the advantage of being educated there,
under some of the best teachers, perhaps, that have ever been
Mr. Walker, who—as I have already said—was
the first English master in the Academy, was a most excellent
teacher, and a strict disciplinarian, and continued for a very
long time the much-respected master in this department of the
Academy. He could give a very effective 'paumie,' and we had a
most wholesome dread of his tawse, and endeavoured, of course,
to merit their acquaintance as seldom as possible, by having
our lessons thoroughly well prepared. He was, at the same
time, a most kind and affectionate man, and possessed the
affection and esteem of all his pupils.
He was twice married, and had a very large
family, ten of whom (two daughters and a son, of the first
marriage; and two daughters and five sons, of the second)
predeceased him; and his memorial-stone in the old churchyard
shows how very heavily he and his partners in life had been
bereaved. His widow and Miss Walker only are now resident in
Dollar; and only one son, Mr. Andrew, survives of the second
Miss Walker, James, and Isabella (Mrs.
Middleton) were my school companions. William (who was
considerably older than I) and James have been long settled in
Mr. Walker died in 1871, aged eighty-four
Mr. Steven was a very worthy man, and one
of the best writers, I believe, in Britain. The scholars used
to take their prizes to him to get their names written on
them, and many books throughout the world —possessed by old
pupils of the Academy, from every clime—can still bear
testimony to the beauty of his writing. The ornamental
'specimens' (which he pencilled) of the scholars, for
exhibition on the examination days, and which were afterwards
inked by them, were fine examples of his great gift in
ornamental penmanship; and the walls of many a room are still
adorned by fine framed specimens of these; but perhaps no
finer example of his beautiful work can be seen anywhere than
in Dollar old churchyard. When the Academy was building in
1819, one of the masons, named David Millar, was fatally
injured, and died shortly afterwards; and his master, Thomas
Beattie, the contractor for the work, erected a stone to his
memory, near the east side of the old burying-ground, the
lettering and ornamental work on which had been designed by
Mr. Steven. I was never told so; but on taking a walk through
the churchyard one day with my brother, and on coming to this
stone, I at once said, 'That's Mr. Steven;' there could be no
He was a most enthusiastic curler, and my
father and he had many a night of it on the Academy garden
pond, with a lantern at each tee. He died in 1855, aged
Margaret, his eldest daughter, was married
to Mr. Maxton, a civil engineer.
Anne married Mr. Peter Stalker; and Jane
was married to Dr. Lindsay.
Miss Clarke (the second Mrs. Steven's
sister) was an accomplished musician, and was for a long
period the principal music teacher in Dollar.
Mr. Tennant, teacher of Latin, Greek, and
Hebrew, lived in Devongrove. He was a most amiable man, and a
very learned scholar. He was very lame, and used two crutches,
and had a long walk daily to school. Miss Tennant, his sister,
who kept house for him, was one of the most amiable creatures
that ever lived, and was a great favourite with everybody; and
it must have added greatly to her brother's comfort having
such a kind and affectionate sister to take charge of his
Mr. Thomas Martin, teacher of geography,
and librarian to the Academy, built and lived in Springfield,
at present owned and occupied by Mrs. Driver and her family.
Large additions have been made to it by the present owner.
Mr. Gerlach, the French teacher, was a
Swiss, and a very violent-tempered man, and the scholars
generally were so much afraid of him that many didn't go to
his class at all (myself amongst the rest); and hence, to my
great loss now, I never learned French, which I miss very
much. I recollect he was very anxious to learn Scotch, and
used to talk to the scholars on the road; and when he heard
any thoroughly broad Scotch word, would repeat it after them,
and ask what it meant.
Mr. Syme, the drawing-master, was a man of
great taste, and a most successful teacher. Landscapes and
flowers were his forte, and figures and faces were seldom or
ever taught by him. I have still some of my attempts at
landscapes, in water-colours, when under him.
Mr. Gray, who taught mathematics, was a
very talented man, and there was no class in the Academy I
enjoyed more than his.
Mrs. Brydie, and Miss Spittal, her
assistant, were most efficient teachers in their own
department, and were both very much respected by all in
Dollar. There were few evening parties of young folks but Miss
Spittal formed one of them.
Mr. Thomas Russell (now of Clackmannan),
who taught the infant school, was a most admirable teacher of
the young. Full of spirit, and abounding in anecdotes, and
naturally 'cut out' for the training of a large number of
children, it was quite a treat to witness an examination of
his young charge. He married the eldest daughter of a
well-known and old-established merchant of the New Town—Mr.
Mr. Power was a fine-looking young man, and
a great favourite in Dollar. Mr. Balfour was very much liked
by all Mr. Tennant's scholars.
The parish school, which was situated
immediately below the old parish church, was conducted by Mr.
Peter M'Laren; but his situation was quite a sinecure, as,
when the Academy opened, his school was almost deserted.
Parish teachers, however, were secure for life in their
situations, and he continued in it till his death.
Mr. George Rennie (a native of Alva, and
well known along the foot of the Ochils) visited Dollar every
year, and conducted singing classes. Mr. Rennie was blind, but
had a wonderful gift of knowing people from the sound of their
voices. He was a good singer, and was always ready and willing
to assist at any concert in the district when his services
were asked; and his name was very frequently to be seen on the
programme on such occasions.
Mr. Christie (who belonged to Kincardine)
was the principal dancing-master in those days, and held his
classes in the large public room of the Big Toll-house. He
visited Dollar regularly for a long series of years.
From the roll-book of the late Mr. Walker,
English teacher, I am enabled (through the kindness of Miss
Walker) to give the names of those in my class in the month of
April 1831. They are as follows:-
The following are the names of some of the
boys attending the Academy at the same time as myself, those
residing in the district being given first:-
For a great many years a silver-handled
penknife was presented annually by a gentleman as a prize for
the best writer in the Academy; and I have put an asterisk at
the names of the accomplished eight who gained this
distinguished honour, viz. John Drysdale, Harviestoun; Robert
Wright, Gateside, Dollar; John, James, and Paul Forrester,
Dollar; Adam Carmichael, Dollar; and Campbell Taylor, Castle
Campbell. I have only been able to ascertain the name of one
boarder who gained this distinguished honour, viz. James
Ronald from Kirkcaldy (now of Newport), but doubtless some of
the others would gain it also. One of the Messrs. Hogg, of
Valleyfield, has been mentioned—by an old schoolfellow —as one
of the successful competitors, but as he had left the Academy
before my day, I cannot vouch for the correctness of this.
Could the biographies of all on these two
lists of names be written, they would, I have no doubt, form a
series of very interesting volumes, exemplifying in many
instances the truth of the old adage, 'that truth is often
stranger than fiction.'
As a specimen of the arbitrary conduct of
the Rev. Dr. Mylne, Robert and William M'Leish (now of
Tillicoultry), Sons of John M'Leish (who took an active part,
along with a great many of the inhabitants, in opposing the
Doctor in some of his schemes), were refused admission into
the Academy, and had, for a time, to walk all the way to
Muckart to attend school; and when they attended a
night-school in Dollar, under the auspices of the Trustees of
the Academy, they were charged fees, while the other parish
boys got this education free.
THE REV. DR. WYLLIE.
Dollar had in those days for one of its
ministers a gentleman whose fame as an author has now become
'world-wide,' the Rev. Dr. Wyllie. His church (generally
called 'The Auld Licht'), situated to the east of Cairn- park
Street, has now been turned into two dwelling- houses, and is
known by the name of Mayfield. He married Miss Gray, sister of
Mr. Gray, the mathematical teacher.
I recollect well of an amusing incident in
connection with the Doctor's church, which showed how
tenaciously old folks cling to antiquated customs, and how any
innovation ip looked on with so much suspicion. In early
times, when education was not so general as it is now, and
very many were unable to read, it was the custom for
precentors to read every line of the psalm before singing it;
and this had evidently got to be considered as essential in
singing the praises of the sanctuary. Well, at an evening
service one night, a stranger precentor was leading the
praise, and lie couldn't, it seemed, do this, but sang
straight on without reading, or, as it was called in those
days, singing 'run-line;' when, after he had got one verse
finished in this heretical style, a great commotion was
observed at the head of one of the seats right in front of the
pulpit, and a good old lady of the old town was seen crushing
out past the rest of the folks in the seat, and hurried down
the long passage as fast as her legs could carry her, and,
after getting the door opened, dashed it to behind her with
all her might, to show her indignation at such open profanity
in her 'ain gude Auld Licht Kirk.' What a fine neighbour she
would have made to a certain Free Church divine of the present
day! It is really wonderful how he ever allowed 'run- line' to
It would have been very amusing to have
seen the effect of an organ on this old lady in Dollar Church,
could it have been got to start, unexpectedly, to accompany
the precentor in the praise. If 'run-line' was bad, the organ
would have been something dreadful, and nothing less than a
fit of hysterics could have been looked for. But, indeed, we
need scarcely be surprised that this would have been the
result fifty years ago, when we think that the consequences
would almost certainly be the same to a good many 'reverend
auld wives' and their followers of the present day; for no
matter although David used all sorts of instruments in the
service of the sanctuary, and that there are instruments in
heaven (Rev. xiv. 2), Your 'Use-and-Wont' man says no such
thing as an organ must be thought of, for it is both
'unscriptural' and 'sinful' to do so. I am convinced, however,
that this old prejudice against the aid of an organ or
harmonium in singing God's praise, will in course of time die
out, in the same way as that which at one time existed against
singing 'run-line.' Just think of one of our great doctors of
divinity of the present day prohibiting his hearers, wherever
he preaches, from standing when singing God's praise, because
the old antiquated custom was to sit! So much for prejudice
In his Annals and Statistics of the UP.
Church, Dr. M'Kelvie tells us that so determined was the
opposition to the introduction of singing 'run-line,' that
congregations were split up by it, and that the persons
seceding on this account from the churches in the parishes of
Tough and Johnshaven were so numerous as to form congregations
If our ' Purity of Worship Association' of
the present day had existed in those days, we would have found
it fighting against the innovation of 'run-line' with all the
pertinacious bigotry of some of its leaders, and making
themselves, as at present, the 'laughing-stock' of the greater
portion of the community.
ORIGIN OF THE NAME OF CAIRNPARK IN DOLLAR.
I have just learned, in the course of my
present inquiries, that at the beginning of this century
Dollar was possessed of an object of very great interest, but
which unfortunately was entirely removed about the year 1806
or 1807. This was nothing less than a great pyramid (well, it
was not quite so big as the famous one of Egypt, but still it
was a great pile) which had evidently been erected to
commemorate some great battle, or the death of some celebrated
warrior; and it certainly is very much to be regretted that it
should have been removed. This was an immense cairn of stones,
some thirty feet high, and as many square at the base; and the
park in which it stood took its name from it—Cairnpark; and
the street leading up to the Academy also got its name—Cairnpark
Street—from its being made through this park. It will scarcely
be believed, yet it is nevertheless true, that this ancient
and interesting cairn was removed for the ignoble purpose of
being broken into road- metal for the new turnpike road that
was then being constructed along the foot of the Ochils. By
whose orders it was removed I cannot say; but the late Mr.
William Blackwood, of the New Town, superintended its removal,
and kept a correct note of the cart-loads that were in it, and
found they amounted to the astonishing number of one thousand!
When the bottom was reached, there were
found in the centre of it a number of ancient clay urns,
showing that this immense cairn was a thing of great
antiquity, and connected with some important event, and, had
it been allowed to remain, would have been an object of
interest second only to Castle Campbell itself, and an
additional attraction to the ancient town of Dollar. The Rev.
Mr. Watson got possession of some of the urns, but what became
of them is not now known.
The street in which Mayfield now stands had
then only the one one-storied house (Mrs. M'Lean's) and Park
House (where the late Mrs. Kirk and family then lived) to the
east of the church, and the entrance to it from the east was
at the end of Park House, from the back road. It was not till
Dr. Arnot built the house to the east of Park House, that the
street was opened up to the burn-side. With the exception of
Dr. Wyllie's church, the one-storied house referred to, and
Park House, there were no houses to the east of Cairn- park
Street but those on Bridge Street—all being green fields.
The corner park, where Mr. Gibb's house and
garden now stand, used to be unenclosed, and a near cut was
generally taken across it, from Bridge Street to the
burn-side. It was in this open field we used to have glorious
'bonfires' on the King's birthday.
OLD FAMILIES OF DOLLAR, ETC.
I will now refer shortly to one of the most
influential and highly-respected families of Dollar—the Haigs
of Dollarfield. With the exception of the wool mill, Dollar
bleachfield was the only other public work in Dollar, and a
great number of the inhabitants got employment at it. I have a
very distinct recollection of the worthy founder of those
prosperous works (which were commenced. in 1787), William Haig,
Esq. (the present Mr. Haig's grandfather), who was a man of
sterling worth, and highly respected by the whole community of
Dollar. He was a justice of the peace for the county of
Clackmannan. Mrs. Haig, also, who was a most amiable, kind,
motherly lady, I remember very well. Mr. Haig died in 1834,
and Mrs. Haig in 1849.
Mr. James Haig, their eldest son, died in
1832, and left a widow to lament his early death, who was very
much respected in Dollar, but who has for long been
non-resident in it.
I cannot bring Mr. James Haig's appearance
to my recollection, but Mr. Robert Haig (the present Mr.
Haig's father) 1 remember very well. He was a most excellent
man, and had at heart all that concerned the best interests of
the inhabitants of Dollar. Besides being a Trustee of Dollar
Academy, be was a justice of the peace, and Deputy-Lieutenant
of the county of Clackmannan. He died in 1854. Mrs. Robert
Haig (a lady much esteemed by all) predeceased her husband by
seventeen years; she died in 1837.
Of Miss Haig, who died in 1869, and Miss
Mary Ann Haig, who died in 1873 (aunts of the present Mr. Haig),
it would be impossible for me to speak too highly, for two
more excellent ladies could not be found anywhere. Their many
acts of kindness will be long remembered in Dollar.
Mr. Haig is proprietor of the fine estates
of Glensherup and Dollarfield.
I will only mention one place of amusement
connected with my school days, that will be fondly remembered
by every one who has attended Dollar Academy, and which is
still cherished as a favourite place of resort by the present
generation, and that is 'The Dead Waters '—a large field
immediately below Devon Grove (the late Professor Tennant's
house), that was flooded every winter, and where skating,
curling, and every sort of ice amusements were carried on. The
quickest road to it, and the one we generally took, was
through 'The Scott's Plantain,' along by the side of the
'Quarrel Burn,' the stream which is used for flooding this
In the Old Town, the next two-storied house
to my father's on the north was occupied for a very long time
by the Misses Young (three sisters), who were very much
respected in Dollar; and their brother, Mr. George Young, and
family, were prominent members of our community, and highly
esteemed by every one. Miss Isabella Young, Mr. George's
daughter, is the only one who now represents this worthy
family in Dollar. The Misses Young's garden adjoined my
father's to the north.
At the head of the old town lived Mr. John
Mathie (generally called 'Provost Mathie'), a very worthy,
good old man, who lived to the long age of ninety-six years.
Although in my young days Dollar was not ruled by a provost
and magistrates, it had been at one time, and for a very long
period, under a provost and baron baiies; and, counting from
his time, Mr. Mathie's ancestors had been provost, in
succession, for three hundred years. Although at that time,
therefore, he was not invested with the powers of a chief
magistrate, the old title was still kept up, and even
descended to one of his Sons. As long as he was able, he used
to pay daily visits to my father's shop, and I remember him
Amongst the last of those who acted as
baron baffles in the end of last century, when Castle Campbell
was still in the possession of the Duke of Argyle, three of
them lived till just before my day, and one of them ('Old
Hillie') I used to hear often spoken of. Their names are as
John Marshall, farmer.
John Drysdale, flesher.
John Drysdale was at one time proprietor of
Hillfoot, and hence got the name of 'Old Hillie.' He resided
latterly in the open square, to the north of my father's house
in Dollar, and it was known in those days as 'hue's Close.'
'Deacon Gibson' (William—a well- known man in Dollar) lived
also in this square. James Lawson (a son of Emily Gibson's)
lived in the house at the east side of the square, on the
rising ground, and at the junction of the two streets.
An amusing story used to be told about one
of the Provost's daughters—Jenny. A Willie Rutherford and she
courted each other for thirty years; and when at last they got
married, Jenny used to say 'that her marriage came on her a'
in a dunt.' What Jenny would have considered a leisurely
courtship, it is really hard to say, but most folks would have
considered the time she took ample..
Opposite my father's house were the Cross
Keys Inn and the house of John Blackwood, the celebrated
fiddler, This John Blackwood had three brothers, who were,
along with himself, famous throughout the country as violin
players, and were taken far and near to balls and dances of
all kinds. John, James, and Robert played the violin, and Tom
the violoncello; and for Scotch reels and strathspeys, this
band could not be excelled by any one in the country. The 'Blackwoods
of Dollar' were as well known and celebrated in those days as
'Adams' band' is at the present time. Their musical talent
has, I learn, descended to the second and third generations.
Thomas and Robert ('Ebony'), Sons of John (both resident in
Canada), have inherited their father's gift, and are both good
violin players. John also (resident in Dollar)--a son of
Thomas (one of the famous band)—plays, I understand, very
well; and Thomas (resident in Hawick)—a grandson of John's—is
an excellent player.
While referring to the Blackwoods, it may
not be out of place here to relate a story I have heard about
a celebrated fiddler who lived in Dollar long before my time,
and from whom, very likely, the Blackwoods may have got their
first lessons in fiddling. In the end of last century, the
Duke of Argyle invited a number of famous fiddlers to a
competition in his town mansion in Edinburgh (Argyle House),
when a goodly number made their appearance, and amongst the
rest, one Johnnie Cook, from Dollar.
To prevent any partiality, the fiddlers
were arranged behind a screen, and each in his turn played
some tunes before a large audience. After all had performed,
the first prize was unanimously awarded to Johnnie Cook, and
resulted in a large sum of money being subscribed for him on
the spot; and he came- back to Dollar with a goodly sum in his
pocket. The question then with Johnnie was, in what way could
he best invest his newly - acquired wealth? and thinking, no
doubt, that land was safer than any other investment (banks
and other companies often coming to grief), he bought a field
to the east of the old town of Dollar with it, which was at
once dubbed by the good folks of Dollar, Fiddlefield; and by
this name it continues to be known to the present day.
That this Johnnie Cook must have been
considered no unimportant personage in Dollar, may be gathered
from a story told of John Orr, a well-known old pensioner in
Dollar in my young days. When John landed, with his regiment,
in Egypt, about the year 1800, he found one David Lambert,
another Dollar man, there before him; and being anxious, no
doubt, to communicate the most startling bit of news he had
brought with him, he at once asked Lambert 'if he had heard
the news.' When told he had heard nothing, the great and
important event was then made known to him—not that Napoleon
Bonaparte was killed, but that 'Johnnie Cook, the fiddler, was
dead.' We can picture to ourselves the two worthies mingling
their tears together over the termination of the life of so
celebrated a man, and thinking, no doubt, that the glory of
Dollar had departed.
John Orr and Lambert were under the command
of Sir Ralph Abercrombie, and would, no doubt, take part in
the great battle of Alexandria, fought on March 21, 1801, when
the British gained such a signal victory over the French, and
let Napoleon see what sort of stuff British troops were made
When John Orr came home from the war, he
astonished the good folks of Dollar with his wonderful stories
about Egypt—about there being three crops in the year, etc.;
and I remember well how the boys used to run after the old
pensioner, and tease him, by shouting his name two or three
times, and then adding, 'Three crops in Egypt;' which
invariably roused his ire to the highest pitch, and would have
led to broken bones had they not got out of his way.
When John was asked any question that he
was not quite sure about, he was never much at a loss for an
answer. On being asked, one day, if he ever saw the Pyramids
when in Egypt, he at once replied, 'Oh yes; we took them
John, it seems, had been a sore grief to
Mr. M'Arbrea when at his school, and used to play truant and
all sorts of tricks; and on one occasion, when things had
reached a crisis, his mother had to be sent for. To the
dominic's surprise, Mrs. Orr brought a rope in her hand, and
seeing little hope, I suppose, of reformation, she handed it
to Mr. M'Arbrea, and told him to hang him with it, and if he
wouldn't do it, another would. It seems, however, that when it
'came to the scratch' John had got round his mother's heart in
some way, for the dreadful threat was not carried into
execution, and he was spared to serve his King and his
THE HORSE-SHOE, AND WESTERN SUBURBS OF
On entering Dollar from the wes.t, the
first house approached was a rather peculiar one—a substantial
one-storied house, with a very wide door, in the shape of a
horse-shoe, which was built by Mr. Tait, of Harviestoun, for a
smithy, and carried on as such for many a year. It was a
well-known landmark, on account of its peculiarly-shaped door,
and was always spoken of (and still is by the old inhabitants
of Dollar) as 'The Horse-Shoe.' Harviestoun Villa now occupies
The next house on the high
road—Belmont--was for a long period occupied by Dr. Elliot's
widow and family, and Miss Elliot was one of the sprightliest
and most spirited young ladies of our Dollar society. There
were four sons and five daughters—William, Alexander, John,
Henry, Margaret, Helen, Jane, Jemima, and Louisa. The Doctor
died in 1834.
Captain Porteous' house, Mount Devon, comes
next. I cannot recall the Captain to memory; but Mrs. and Miss
Porteous and Tom will always be associated in my memory with
this house. Miss Porteous was a very superior young lady, and
lived for a long time in the house alone, after her mother's
death. She married a Mr. Beveridge. Thomas commenced business
in Glasgow, but died when quite a young man, leaving a widow
and young family to mourn his early death. He was a very
pushing young man, and, had he been spared, would have soon
taken a prominent position amongst the successful merchants of
The present occupants of the cottage below
Mount Devon (Belville)—Mr. William and Miss Drysdale are
associated with my earliest recollections of Harviestoun
Castle, and the home farm adjoining it, where the family so
long resided. I do not recollect much of Mr. Drysdale, their
father (who was so long factor for Mr. Tait); but Mrs.
Drysdale, who survived her husband for twenty-three years, was
a most kind, amiable lady, and much esteemed by every one who
knew her. On the death of his father in 1843, Mr. William
succeeded to the factorship, and acted in that capacity till
the estate passed out of the hands of the Globe Insurance
Company. Two brothers, Robert and Adam, went to the West
Indies, and died there—Robert in 1835, and Adam in 1839. Mr.
John died in Belville Cottage in 1860. Mr. James Drysdale,
banker, Stirling, is the youngest brother.
An amusing story is told of a goat and
gander that were long amongst Mrs. Drysdale's collection, of
live stock at Harviestoun. A strong and lasting attachment
sprang up between the two; and wherever Nannie was to be seen,
there was the gander, his natural companions, the geese,
being, in a most ungentlemanly way, invariably 'left out in
When Mrs. Drysdale and family left
Harviestoun, and took up their residence in Belville Cottage,
the goat and gander were made a present of to Mr. Henderson,
of the Castle Campbell Hotel in Dollar; and the same strong
attachment continued between the two as before, the goat never
being seen anywhere without his companion. Well, one Sabbath
day this worthy couple took it into their heads that they
would like to hear what kind of a preacher the Rev. Mr.
Craigie was; and just as the congregation in the Established
Church had nearly all assembled, and the advent of the
minister into the pulpit was momentarily looked for, who
should march slowly along one of the passages, but Nannie and
his companion the gander, and, in order to make sure of
hearing well, went right up the pulpit stair, and apparently
were bent on getting into the pulpit itself.
As may be readily imagined, the arrival of
such unexpected and distinguished visitors created the
greatest excitement and amusement in the church—to all except
the poor beadle, who seemed to view the situation of affairs
in absolute dismay. What was to be done? The gander was known
to be of a very pugnacious disposition, and resented at once
the slightest interference with his companion; and for any
stranger to have attempted to forcibly eject Nannie would have
been 8heer madness. The church officer was fairly at his wits'
end what to do, when fortunately Mr. William Drysdale (who
happened to be in church) came to the rescue. Rising out of
his seat, he approached the worthy couple, and calling the
goat by name, told it to follow him. Remembering its old
master thoroughly well, it at once obeyed his order, and the
two were quietly walked out of the church, to the no little
amusement and great relief of all concerned. How to explain
the very singular and strong attachment that existed between
these two, I must leave to some of my ornithological friends,
who are more skilled in these matters than I am.
What subsequently became of them is not
recorded in history; but we must be left to suppose that,
after reaching a good old age, they both died a natural death,
faithfully attached to each other to the last.
Mrs. Hynd, Dollar, informs me that she was
present in the Established Church when this most ludicrous
scene took place, and it really was a most amusing spectacle.
Broomrig, the next house in order, was in
my young days occupied by a Mrs. Young and family; and Robert,
one of her sons, was a class - fellow of mine. Miss Young got
married at a very early age to an Edinburgh gentleman. It was
after they left that it was then occupied by the Honourable
David Erskine and family. There was only the centre house at
that time—the extensive additions to and adjoining it having
since been made by the present proprietor—James Leishman, Esq.
Devonside HOuse (so long occupied by Mrs.
M'Callum and family) comes next, which was built by a Captain
Pinkerton, a stout, military - looking man, with pure white
hair. Miss Pinkerton - a nice young girl of fifteen—was cut
off after a few hours' illness, in the year 1833. Mrs.
Pinkerton died in 1835.
Devongrove—close to the Dead Waters—and
Springfield have been referred to already. Mr. and Mrs. Martin
had no family; and I recollect well of them sitting in the
front square seat of the west gallery of the old church (along
with the Honourable David Erskine and family), right above
where they now lie buried.
Woodcot was built by the late Dr. Walker,
uncle of the present doctor, who was for a very long period
the principal medical man of the district, and was considered
a man of great skill, and very much esteemed. He died in the
The centre house of Helen Place was for a
considerable time occupied by Mr. Bell (son-in-law of the late
Mrs. Duncanson of Sheardale, as an educational establishment
(styled by him Broomfield Academy), and a very large number
attended his classes there. He commenced this establishment
after resigning his situation in Dollar Academy of
mathematical teacher. He had a large number of boarders, and
two of them are very distinctly impressed on my memory as
spirited young boys - Charles Davis and Henry Ogilvie. In what
part of the world, I wonder, will those two be now? or are
they—like so many, so very many, of my school companions—in
Between Helen Place and the old toll-bar
there were, for many a long day, only the one one-storied
house at the east end of Charlotte Place (Mr. William
M'Leish's), and the cottage on the west of the other end of
it. This cottage was built by a Mr. Mallach, manager in Dollar
Bleachfield, and it was always spoken of as 'Mallach's
Cottage.' By and by the fine two-storied house to the west of
it (Viewfield) was built by a Mrs. Allan, for herself and
large family, after leaving the farm of Dollar Bank, which
they had occupied for a considerable time. This large and
highly-respected family occupied for long a very prominent
place in our Dollar society, and many happy evenings I have
spent in their house. Mrs. Allan was a most hospitable, kind
lady, and very much esteemed by every one; and some of the
happiest days of my youth are associated with her and her
worthy family. Their names were as follows: Thomas, John,
Dalhousie, Adam, William, Elizabeth, Janet, Helen (Mrs.
Beveridge), Ann (Mrs. Grieve), Alison (Mrs Bath- gate),
Christina (Mrs. Drysdale), Mary (Mrs. Wilson), Eliza, and Jane
Darling—fourteen in all. Three only of this large family now
remain, viz. Mrs. Bathgate, Miss Eliza, and Miss Jeanie, the
last only being now resident in Dollar. Mrs. Allan died at
Liverpool (where Mrs. Wilson resided) in 1847.
The first occupant of Castle Campbell Hotel
that I remember of was Mr. Alexander Henderson, grandfather of
Mr. Henderson, writer, Alloa. Mrs. Henderson was a sister of
Provost Foreman's of Stirling, and a very worthy lady. After
Mr. Henderson's death, it was for a considerable period
carried on by his son-in-law, Mr. John Robertson; and, after
his death, by Mr. John Henderson, son of old Mr. Henderson.
GLOOMHILL AND HILLFOOT, ETC.
Very many of my Saturday afternoons (we had
to go to school on Saturday forenoon in those days) were spent
up at Gloomhill farmhouse with Alick and Johnnie Scott, my
school companions, where we used to have some rare fun with
old Mr. Robert Cram's donkey, which, though the most docile
and serviceable of creatures to its venerable master, knew
thoroughly well how to tumble off troublesome boys; and many a
good header' we got from it.
Mr. John Scott's family consisted of
four—Grace, Alexander, John, and Marion. Grace married a Mr.
Currer of Ardross, an extensive and successful farmer in the
neighbourhood of Elie, Fife. Alexander is settled in
Stratford, Ontario, Upper Canada, and his family are grown up
and getting on well in the world. John was drowned in
Australia, on December 23, 1853.; and Miss Scott alone is now
left in Dollar. Mr. Scott was overseer on Hillfoot estate.
Mr. Peter Cram, merchant, New Town, and Mr.
David Cram, Alloa, are sons of old Mr. Cram, who was tenant of
the hill farm of Hiilfoot—JQhn M'Arthur Moir, Esq., being at
that time the proprietor of the estate of Hillfoot. No finer
view of Dollar and Castle Campbell can be got anywhere than
from the top of Gloomhill.
When I was at school, Mr. Moir was a
widower, and his sister Miss Moir kept house for him. Four
nephews of the name of M'Queen lived with him for a number of
years, and attended Dollar Academy, viz. Andrew, John,
Archibald, and Daniel. They were bright, lively, nice-dispositioned
There being no poor law in existence in
those days, the only public way of raising money for the
maintenance of the poor was the collections at the Established
Church doors. The plate at the old church of Dollar stood a
few yards out from the session-house door, so as to be
convenient for the folks in passing; while the elder stood in
the door. These collections not being required for the support
of the minister, a good many people passed the plate without
giving anything; and when it was Mr. Moir's turn to stand, and
he saw people passing without giving, whom he knew were very
well able to give, and who generally bowed to him in passing,
he was not slack in reminding them of their duty, and used to
bawl out to them, 'Mind the plate, mind the plate, never mind
me!' to the great amusement of the bystanders and the no
little confusion of the party addressed. One worthy man, still
living in Dollar, I heard one day thus addressed by name, and
he went away into the church looking anything but comfortable.
Mr. Moir was an artist of considerable
skill, and I recollect well of him taking a sketch one day, in
the Academy grounds, of The Banks and Dollar Hill, and in the
course of his picture was putting in a paling at a very quick
rate; when, turning round to a number of us boys who were
looking on, he asked, 'Do you think you could drive in paling
stobs as fast as that?' which of course put us all into good
humour, and caused great merriment, which was just what Mr.
Moir wanted, as he always enjoyed a good laugh. He was a good-
hearted, kind landlord, and, in addition to his estate of
Ilillfoot, was proprietor of the fine estate of Milton, at
Dunoon. He was a justice of the peace for the county of
Clackmannan, and being one of the elders in the Established
Church, was, as already stated, a trustee of Dollar Academy.
He died at Hhifoot on December 17, 1871, aged seventy-three
The session-house of the old church still
stands to the south of the entrance gate.
Mr. Alexander Stalker (father of Mr. Peter
Stalker, who was so long and so well known in Dollar) carried
on the wright trade in the old town. He lived in the
two-storied house almost opposite the present Lorne Tavern;
and his workshop was in the one-storied house adjoining, now
turned, into a dwelling-house. His family consisted of
five—Isabella, Peter, Jane, Margaret, and Agnes (Mrs. Hynd).
The first house on the left-hand side, on
entering the cart-road to the Castle, was a well-known house
in Dollar, and amongst the farmers around—the smithy and
dwelling-house of Andrew Sharp, senior. His son Andrew was in
business with his father, but was married, and lived in the
house next the Castle wood, and close to the Broomie Knowe.
This smithy was a great resort of the youths of the village,
and many an hour I have sat by the smithy fire and looked on
at the red-hot bars being hammered away. Old Andrew, who was
very fond of a joke, quite alarmed my good old grandmother one
day by telling her, when getting a refreshment, and when about
to turn over his glass, that her whisky 'was on the turn.'
Any notice of the old town of Dollar as it
existed fifty years ago would be incomplete without referring
to a very harmless 'character' we had amongst us, who was well
known, and made welcome to every house in Dollar—Robbie Guild.
Nothing delighted Robbie more than to get a book (particularly
the Bible) to read, and a most amusing job he made of it. One
of his peculiarities was that, when reading, he could not get
past certain words, and would repeat and re-repeat the half of
a sentence a dozen of times over before he could make out to
finish it, which was very amusing; and of course Robbie was
often asked to read. The same sort of difficulty occurred to
him when walking about. He would stop suddenly for a
considerable time, then lift the offending stone or bit of
straw, and carry it to the side of the road, and when the
obstacle was removed would then proceed on his way. When
teased by boys, he occasionally got into a great fury, and was
then (as any one would have been) rather dangerous; but when
let alone, he was of a mild and harmless disposition, and was
kindly treated by every one in Dollar.
Another well-known ' character' in those
days was Willie Stewart, who was sadly teased by the boys, and
his life made very miserable by some of them. Willie used to
go messages, and do many little jobs for a number of families,
and was very frequently on the road, and was thus much exposed
to his tormentors. He had a strong burr, and I think the boys
liked to hear Willie 'burring' out his remonstrances. He was a
simple, good-hearted body, and it was a great shame to see the
way he was often abused.
He hadn't—as an auld Scotch saying goes—'
enough o' the dell in him, to keep the deil aff him,' for had
he given some of them a good sound thrashing some day, he
would soon have put a stop to it. But Willie would rather run
when he could, than fight, and tried always to get out of
their way. When the scholars were going home from the Academy
one night, Willie was heard saying to himself, 'Therre thae
rroyd laddies comin' again; I'll awa' up to the high rroad,
and no' be tormented be them.'
Mr. Wilson, baker, carried on a prosperous
business in the Old Town, from which he retired a good many
years ago. He married the eldest daughter of Mr. John Swan,
merchant, New Town.
The other members of Mr. Swan's family were
Mary, Jessie, Helen (first Mrs. Robert Shiells, Neenah,
America), and Archibald, who were all among my school
companions. Mrs. Wilson, Mary, and Jessie are still in Dollar,
but Archibald has been long settled in America.
Mr. Robert Kirk (one of the Trustees of the
Academy) was a very worthy man, and much respected in Dollar.
He carried on the wright trade, and at the same time had a
shop in the south street of the Old Town. Besides a son who
died when young, he had other four of a family—Margaret, John,
Thomas, and Catherine. Miss Kirk alone now survives.
I might fill a volume were I to go in
detail over all the old families of Dollar, but will finish my
list by simply mentioning one or two others.
Dr. Martin's family—Gilbert, William,
James, Anne, etc. The Doctor died in Malta in 1843.
Dr. Arnot's family—David, Henry, Robert,
Alfred, and Margaret (Mrs. Wilson). The Doctor died in 1842,
Late Mrs. Kirk's family, Park
House—Elizabeth (Mrs. James Kirk, Tullibody), Catherine (Mrs.
Robert Wright, Greenock), Thomas, and John.
Mrs. Kid's family—Helen, Jane (Mrs. M'Nair),
John, Alexander, Thomas, and Adam. They lived in the first
house to the east of the New Club House, which is now joined
to the large block of new buildings, but stood at that time by
Mrs. Burns' family, of the Old Town—Eliza
(first Mrs. Peter Stalker), Ann, and John. Mrs. Burns died in
1850, and John in 1848. Her husband died in 1827.
The principal grocers in the New Town fifty
years ago were Mr. Hugh Munro and Mr, John Swan. Mr. Charles
Lawson was the only draper.
There was no regular post office in Dollar
at that time, but Mr. Robert Forrester (who then lived in
Cairnpark Street) received the, letters into his house, and
carried them to the post office in Alloa, and brought back the
letters from there on his return. The first post-master
appointed to Dollar was Mr. John Philip, in 1830; and when he
died in 1838, his daughter, Miss Philip, succeeded him, and
continued post-mistress till her death. Their post office was
in the house close to the old toll-bar.