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Annals of Dunfermline
A.D. 1801 - 1901 - Part 1


1801.—BEGINNING OF THE 19TH CENTURY.—At the beginning of last century there was only one church in Dunfermline—the Parish Church. At the commencement of the 19th century, there were no less than ten churches and meeting-houses in the town, viz., "The Auld Kirk," "The Secession Kirk," "The Chapel Kirk," "The Relief Kirk," "The Cameroman Kirk," "The Tabernacle," "The Independents," "The Antiburgher Kirk," "The Auld-Light Kirk," and "Baptist Kirk," served by eleven ministers. The congregations in the aggregate amounted to about 4550. Mr. James Moodie was Provost of the Burgh. (MS. Note.) Schools in the Burgh, 14; in the Burgh and Parish, 22; manufacturers of table linen, 26; weavers, about 800; wrights in the Burgh, 88; smiths, 57; shoemakers, 51; masons, 41 bakers, 20; tailors, 47, fleshers, 9. For population table, see April, 1801.

DEARTH.—"The great dearth continues; much distress in Dunfermline in consequence; prices of everything continue to rise; a deal of sickness also prevails, which two calamities distract the minds of the inhabitants very greatly." (MS. Note.)

CENSUS.—The first Government Census was taken in April, 1801. The following is the statement of the population, &c., in the town and parish of Dunfermline:—

Population of the town and suburbs, . . . 5,484
Population of the town and parish. Males, 4,671
Females, 5,309,
Families, ........ 2,339
Inhabited houses in the parish, .... 1,498
Inhabited houses in the town,..... 705
(Fernie’s Hist. Dunf. p. 5)

A PUBLIC KITCHEN Established in the Flesh-market.—-The Town Council subscribed £10 to its funds, (Burgh Records.) Great crowds of starving' people flock to the kitchen. (MS. Note.)

THE CROSSGATES CONGREGATION.—"A small congregation of Seceders formed at the Crossgates this year" [1801]. (MS. Note; Femie's Hist. Dunf. p. 38; see An. Dunf. date 1803.)

SEWING SCHOOL.—"The first Sewing School in Dunfermline was established by Mrs. Houston, Woodhead Street, in 1801." She was well patronized; she got up for the school boys of the period "the glorious worsted ba's." (MS.)

THE RACES.—"The Town Council subscribe ten guineas toward the races, to be run for over the Town's course in autumn next."

FIRE ENGINES.—"The Council took into consideration the propriety of having one or more fire engines for extinguishing fire. The Sun Fire and Dundee offices agree to give Twenty Guineas each;  the Council agree to subscribe a like sum." (Burgh Records; see An, Dunf. date 1810.)

FIFE HUNT.—"The meet this year finished with a grand dinner and ball in the town house, at which the famous Niel Gow and his Son discoursed fiddle-music in grand stile." (MS. Note.) These Fife Hunt dinners were given up about this period.

GREAT THUNDER STORM IN JUNE THIS YEAR.—"Some of the ruins in the Psalter Church yard were thrown down, and the tracing work in one of the windows of the ruins tumbled out." (MS. Note.)

ST. MARGARET'S DISTILLERY "began its operations in 1801 on a more extensive scale." (MS, Note; see An. Dunf. date 1782.)

PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—James Moodie, Esq., re-elected Provost." (Burgh Records; Sept., 1801.)

MILITARY FUNERAL.—"A corporal soldier died in the Horse Market [East High Street]; his gun, coat, &c., were placed on his coffin. The company of soldiers then marched to the grave, playing ' The Dead March in Saul;' the drums, fifes, &c., were covered with crape. After the coffin was lowered into the grave, guns were fired over it.   Upwards of 2000 persons on the street during the funeral procession." This, it appears, was the first military funeral witnessed in Dunfermline, and made "a mighty noise in town and country." (MS. Note.)

A BANK BROKEN INTO BY BURGLARS.—The Bank of Scotland, then situated at the west end of Bridge Street, Dunfermline (Charles Hunt, manager), was broken into in November, 1801. "The night of its occurrence was remarkably boisterous—wind, rain, and sleet, and intensely dark, which so far favoured the luck of the evildoers. About £102 was carried off; a kind of panic occurred, and great sensation caused in Fife and elsewhere." It was ascertained some years afterwards, that the robber was a person named M'Coull, a house painter, who had for some time found employment in the town. Probably this is the same Mackoull who, in November, 1806, murdered William Begbie, the porter of the British Linen Company's Bank, Tweeddale House, Canongate, and then robbed the Bank of.£4392. (Chambers's Traditions of Edinburgh, edit. 1847, pp. 262, 268.)

1802.—DEARTH.—"The year begins with no abatement of the dreadful dearth.  Bakers are not allowed to sell bread until it is 24 hours old ; and, by a local order made some months ago, are obliged to stamp on their bread the letters 'H' and 'W,' in large characters, to denote ' Household' bread and ' Wheaten' bread. Meal at 3s, 9d. per peck." (MS. Note.)

STONE COFFIN FOUND in the Psalter Churchyard.—Early in 1802, whilst a grave was being dug "in the Psalter Kirkyard, the gravedigger's spade struck against a huge stone. After being cleared, it was found to be a Stone Coffin, upwards of six feet in length, in which were human bones, much decayed. Round about the coffin were found pieces of finely-carved marble, some of the pieces being gilt," (MS. Note; also Sib. Hist. Fife, p. 298.) This must have been one of the royal tombs. It is to be regretted that the locus of this " find " has not been given.

PRINTING.—Mr. Andrew Angus, merchant, commenced printing with a small printing-press made under his directions by a townsman. (MS. Note.)

EARTHQUAKES.—" Two very smart shocks of an Earthquake occurred early on Sabbath morning, June 8th, which made many to start out of their beds, and run into the streets—the houses in Bridge Street especially.  The furniture in the houses moved; pictures hung on the walls rattled, and dishes in shelves were thrown down and broken." (MS. Note, and Newspapers of the period.)

INDEPENDENT CONGREGATION.—In the year 1802, a new Independent Congregation was formed, chiefly by some active members, who belonged to "Dale's Independents," and who worshipped in the "Tabernacle," Woodhead Street. This new body ceased to exist in 1807, when most of" them Joined the Baptists. (MS. Note; see also An, Dunf. date 1779.)

THE KING'S BIRTHDAY.—A correspondent of ours, in a foreign land, a native of Dunfermline (long ago), often sent us interesting notes regarding " Dunfermline in the olden time." One of his notes, now before us, is a graphic one, referring to the "Glorious 4th of June, when George the Third was king" [in 1802.] As it is likely to be a fair specimen of the doings on all the King's Birthdays when the third George was king, we will, for the benefit of the younger portion of our readers, give the long note entire. It may some day find a place in Strutt's "Sports and Pastimes" Our correspondent in his letter to us (dated in 1833), says :—

  "I was a young man when I left Dunfermline. The last King's Birthday I enjoyed in the good old grey toon was on 4th June, 1802. The first indications of a coming King's Birthday in Dunfermline were to be seen a week or so before the great went, when the laddies in pairs ran about the streets in the evenings with backets, big boxes, and sacks, begging coals for the baelfires [bonfires], and on the day before the Day droves of youngsters might be seen in the country round about cutting broom, whins, and flourishing branches for decorations in the town, supplied in abundance from Broomhead, Garvock Hill, Urquhart Cutts, &c.,while others got supplies of ' flowers of the season.' At an early hour on the King's Birth Day strings of these flowers were in a great many places stretched across the street, from window to window, with flowered-girds depending from them beautifully decorated. These decorated girds or hoops were also suspended from windows in the streets, so much so, that several streets were flowered from end to end. The time that the street-flowering was going on, the balefire sites were determined on, and little hillocks of coal were deposited at the places chosen (about a dozen of places). Then they were fired and set on blaze, and during the day from these fires were thrown squeebs. Cannons were fired; old keys, also, were not only converted into firers, but even marrow-bones did duty, and until stopped, the bottle, half filled with chuckie-stanes and poother was held in high repute. All the 'live long day' touch-paper, pee-eo-ies, &c., were the game of the small fry. The town's flags were thrust out of the Town-House windows early in the morning, also the flags of the incorporated trades out of the Deacons' windows. During the glorious day the Auld Kirk and Tolbooth bells were rung at intervals, and in the evening for at least three hours. The volunteers fired volleys during the day in the Bowling-Green. The Provost, Magistrates, and Town-Council marched to the Cross and drank the king's health—many of them tossing their glasses up in the air. In the evening the Council-Room was filled with the Town-Council and their friends, doing every justice to foreign and British spirits. This closed the entertainments of the day, and with the outsiders two hours' squeebing and display of sky-rockets at the Cannon, amid huzzas, closed the King's Birth Day in Dunfermline in the year of Grace. 1802." (W. D., &c.)

MAY GATE.—A piece of ground adjoining the May Gate was purposed to be bought, by public subscription, to allow of that street being widened. To this laudable project the Council subscribed ten guineas. (Burgh Records, June.)

PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—James Moodie, Esq., re-elected Provost, Sept., 1802. (Burgh Records.)

HARVEST—Bad and Late.—There was "great murmuring in the town. It was expected that the harvest would be an abundant one, and the severe pressure of the dearth thereby relieved or removed." (MS. Note.)

1803.—SOUTH CHAPEL STREET.—"This very convenient New Road or Street, now called by some the Chapel Road and Chapel Street, was fully opened up and causwayed in Jan., 1803 [see 1800.] The street takes up from the High Street direct to John Reid, the teacher's school, at the top of the Rottenrow.  Previously the site of the street was composed of two closes, full of old buildings, somewhat similar to the other two closes fifty yards to the east." (MS. Note.)   It would be a great improvement if a wide street were to be carried to the east end of Maygate, from the High Street, directly opposite to South Chapel Street. (See An. Dunf. date 1878, for " Randolph Street.")

WEAVING—Mr. Bonnarr's Patent.—In the year 1803, Mr. Bonnar, weaver, Dunfermline, made an important discovery "in the art of loom-mounting," and for which he obtained a patent, which was then known as 'the patent or comb draw-loom. " It consisted of a number of iron combs, wrought as levers, and catching the harness or the upright cords upon the loom, by little pieces of wire with nobs on them, as the combs ascended." In consequence of disputes about encroachments on this invention, the town, from the estimation in which they held the invention, purchased the patent from Mr. Bonnar for £600, including law expenses. (MS. Note; Chat. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 357.) 

PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—James Moodie, Esq., re-elected Provost, Sept. 1803. (Burgh Records.)
   
GREAT RAIN.—Baldridge-Burn Bridge was carried away by the violent force of the current of water in the burn." The streets of the town were flooded. "Barrels, boxes, stools, &c., might be seen rushing past in the stream." (MS. Note.) 

POST OFFICE AND STAMP REVENUES.—Post Office Revenue, £654 10s.; Stamp Revenue, £725.  (P. 0. Report; MS. Note.)

1804.— RECRUITING FOR THE ARMY,—" The company of soldiers stationed in Dunfermline began early in this year to rattle on their drums and play on their fifes for recruits, in consequence of Bonaparte's threatened invasion. The recruiting officer, in the parades through the streets, made halts, especially on the market-days, and thus addressed the crowd:—' Come, my lads, and be gentlemen. Plenty of money will be taken in French towns; and you'll never want hills of beef, mountains of potatoes, and rivers of whiskey!'" (MS. Note.)

BRICK WORK.—"In 1804 a pretty extensive Brick Work was established in the fit-paith [Woodhead Street] by William Chalmers, builder." (MS. Note.)

NATTES' VIEW OF DUNFERMLINE ABBEY, &c,—Early in the year 1804 John Claude Nattes published his "Scotia Depicta," an oblong folio, containing a great many large views of castles, churches, mansions, &c., in Scotland. No. 13 of the series is entitled, "Dunfermline Abbey and Mill." The engraving is 10 in. by 71/4 in.  It was drawn by J. C. Nattes, and engraved by Fittler. The view is taken from the S.E., near the Upper Mill wheel on the brae.  The view, a rather inaccurate one, shows the upper part of the Pends and Frater's Hall, with the Auld Kirk Steeple in the background. On the right are seen several houses. The great mass of smoke from an adjoining boiling-house obscures a large portion of the view. In the foreground is the Upper Mill and Wheel. The short description appended to the view states that it was taken in 1799.

LECTURES ON NATURAL HISTORY AND CHEMISTRY.—In a Town Council Minute of 30th June, "Provost Moodie reports that he had been applied to by a gentleman of the name of Davidson, Lecturer upon Natural History and Chemistry, for the use of one of the rooms in the Town house, to deliver a course of Lectures, which the Council agree to give him, and authorize the Magistrates to grant accordingly."  This was the afterward celebrated Dr. Davidson, medical    practitioner, Dunfermline, and who, in 1812, was chosen Professor of Natural History in Marischall College, Aberdeen. (MS.)

THE VOLUNTEERS.—The Dunfermline Volunteers became very active early in 1804, calling upon the inhabitants to enrol themselves in the corps, as a "French invasion was iminent," "Great uneasiness and much bustle prevailed; drilling went on daily in the Bowling Green, now the South Churchyard, where immense crowds assembled, and sometimes the lash was inflicted on the unruly and disorderly. The following lines were in circulation this year in Dunfermline; they appear to be similar to those sung in other places, with local names introduced to suit the Dunfermline worthies" (MSS.):—

" Hey Volunteers, are ye waken yet?
Ho! jolly lads, are ye ready yet?
Are ye up? are ye drest? will ye all do your best
To fight Bonaparte in the morning?

"Now, brave Volunteers, be it day, be it night,
When the Signal is given * that the French are in sight,
You must haste with your brethren in arms to unite
To fight Bonaparte in the morning.

"Then one brave Captain Stark shall foremost be seen,
To lead on the corps, and to fight for renown;
To protect all that's dear, from the cot to the crown,
And heat Bonaparte in the morning.

"Hey, Colonel Moodie, are ye waken yet?
Ho ! Andrew Adie, are ye ready yet?
Your knapsacks to fill—gie your canteens a fill—
And we'll beat Bonaparte in the morning.

"And. should the Usurper in truth reach our shore,
We quickly shall march, and our cannons shall roar,
And we'll soon let him see we have grape-shot in store
To salute Bonaparte in the morning.

"And when by the favour of Heaven on our arms,
We have conquered our foes, and are free'd from alarms,
With joy we'll return to our wives and our bairns,
When we've beat Bonaparte in the morning.

"Then each jolly lad shall be met by his lass,
With a smile on her cheek, and a joyful caress;
And then shall the corps drink a full glowing glass
In remembrance of that glorious morning.

* A false alarm was given about this time, by the lighting up of a beacon-fire on some one of the hills in the south of Scotland, which caused beacon after beacon to be lighted up. The alarm reached Dunfermline about mid-night, the "brave volunteers" got drest, resolved to do their best, to meet Bonaparte that morning. Some of the "braves'' were actually on march, when word came to them, on the road to the Ferry, that it was a false alarm.

"And now when we've met, let us drink to our king,
May his life be prolonged, may he happily reign;
May lie always command an artillery train
Fit to guard all our rights night and morning. 

"Let us drink to the Earl, the patron of our train,
And to Gillespie, from whom our practice we gain;
And to his men who assist and take.so much pains
To instruct as at drill in the morning."

The following is a list: of some of the men of renown in the Dunfermline Volunteer Corps of 1804:—

" Provost Moodie was Lieutentant-Colonel; Andrew Adie, Captain;
Robert Stark, Brucefield, Captain; Mr. Bowes, Supervision Captain; Robert
Fleming, Manuf., Lieutenant; David Beveridge, Merch., ditto; William
Bereridge, ditto and paymaster; Will. Henderson (the tuip) play'd the
Symbols; Will. Walls and James Simpson, drummers; David Paton, Bass-
drummer; Edward Weir, plaisterer. Bugler; W. Thomson, vintner, Ho-Boy
(hautboy); Thomas Gillespie, drum-major; James Stenhouse of Grange and
John Stenhouse, brewers, were flag-bearers." (MS. Note.)

If there are any of the "old warriors of 1804" still alive, as we hope there are, this song and these names will recall to their memories the "doings, the stir, and loud hazzas of these bygane times," and cheer them up.

BRANCH OF BRITISH LINEN COMPANY'S BANK established in Dunfermline on 30th.August, 1804.

CROSSGATES. — The Rev. John Alien was ordained the first minister of the Secession Church in Crossgates on 29th Aug., 1804.

PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—James Moodie, Esq., Dunfermline, re-elected Provost. (Burgh Records, Sept., 1804.)

PRINTING, &c.—Mr. John Miller, bookseller, commenced business, corner of Abbey Park Place, Dunfermline, and erected a large Dutch Printing Press for carrying on the printing business in all its branches." (MS. Note.)

POST-OFFICE AND STAMP REVENUES.—The revenue derived from the Post-Office, Dunfermline, in 1804, was about £650; and from Stamps, £744 4s. (Fernie's Hist. Dunf, pp. 53, 54.)

MARRIAGES, BAPTISMS, AND DEATHS.—Between Nov., 1803, and Nov., 1804, there were 77 marriages, 314 baptisms, and 200 deaths in Dunfermline Parish. (Fernie's Hist, Dunf. pp, 5, 6.)

WEAVING—Philp’s Improvement on Bonnar's Patent (see An. Dunf. date 1803).—Mr. John Philp, weaver, &c., Dunfermline, improved so much on "Bonnar's Combs," that one comb instead of two was sufficient for this part of the weaving art. (MS.)

THEATRICALS IN THE TOWN-HOUSE.—"About the end of the year 1804, a company of comedians came to Dunfermline, and applied to the authorities for the court-room in the town-house to perform in; 'the unco guid' opposed the application with great fury, but the dogged perseverance of the performers at last prevailed; they got the use of the town-house for a short period, and met with great success." (MS. Note.)

1805.—WATER— Private Water-Pipes.—Early in 1805 intimation was made by the Water Committee to the public, that, by complying with their conditions they might introduce water into their houses by private pipes. A great many provided themselves with the useful accommodation. (Fernie's Hist. Dunf. p. 14.)

FRIENDLY SOCIETIES.—The Townhill and the Berrylaw Friendly Societies established in 1805. (Fernie's Hist. Dunf, p. 52.)

ADMIRAL MITCHELL (of the Hill) raised to the rank of Admiral of the Blue in 1805. (See An. Dunf. 1794-1806.)

SCOTTISH BAPTISTS.—A small congregation of Scottish Baptists formed in Dunfermline in 1805, having disjoined themselves from the congregation of Independents in Woodhead Street; their place of meeting was in the Union Lodge Room, west end of Bridge Street. (Vide An. Dunf. date 1841.)

THE KING'S BIRTHDAY.—The Town Council resolve to hold the King's birthday by walking in procession to the Cross, and drinking his Majesty's health, accompanied by the town's band, &c. (MS.)

THE VOLUNTEERS.—An Old MS. Note by J. A. alludes to the constant drilling practised in the Bowling Green at this period, and to the flogging of the recruits belonging to the regular army, who were tied to the large tree which stood at the back of the kirk on the centre walk. The cries of many of them, while being flogged, were heard in the Kirkgate and High Street, and produced most uncomfortable feelings amongst the inhabitants.

PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—James Moodie, Esq., Dunfermline, re-elected Provost. {Burgh Records, Sept, 1805.)

THE AULD KIRK STEEPLE WEATHERCOCK.—"A townsman, J. M., a volunteer, took aim at the weathercock, and sent a ball through its neck; when the first high wind blew after that, the cock made its first trial at producing melancholy sounds, which both astonished and alarmed the inhabitants. Great crowds gathered in the Kirkgate and the Kirkyard; the cause of 'the waesome soond' was discovered, and the nerves of the serious were soothed. The bullet-hole continued during high winds to sing out its melancholy strains unti! 1847, when the hole was filled up." (MS. Note, Chal. Hist, Dunf.)

DUNFERMLINE ILLUMINATED— Death of Lord Nelson.—The sad news of the death of Britain's great ”sea hero," Lord Nelson, in the hour of victory, appears to have reached Dunfermline in the beginning of November, 1805, which caused deep sorrow. His great victory at Trafalgar was honoured by a general illumination. Jacob Hannay, a weaver in Pittencrieff Street, had two of his windows illuminated; the one window with white candles for the victory obtained, the other window had in it black candles, " mourning candles," for the death of  the hero! (MS. Note.)

POSTAL AND STAMP REVENUES,—Postal revenue, £750; stamp revenue, £1182 [inter 1804-1805]. (Fernie's Hisf. Dunf. pp. 53, 54.)


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