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Annals of Dunfermline
A.D. 1801 - 1901 - Part 6


1819.—NUMBER OF LOOMS—Estimated Value.— About the beginning of the year 1819, it was ascertained, by "a careful count out," that there were 1507 looms in the pariah of Dunfermline; out of the parish, namely, in Carnock, Cairneyhill, Torryburn, &c., united, there were 142 looms. Total, 1649 looms, "dependent on the Dunfermline trade," the estimated value of which, united, was , £120,000 stg. (MS. Note; see also Chal. Hist Dunf. vol. i. p. 376.)

FLESH MARKET.—The Flesh-Market, erected between the High Street and Queen Ann Street, was closed this year for want of support. It had for many years been declining, and at last no one but Johnie Barrowman, the flesher, stood in it with flesh for sale. (MS.)

SANCTUARY HOUSE, MAYGATE.—This old house, with large "vaulted entrance," was the Sanctuary, or house of refuge for debtors, malefactors, &c., and belonged to the Abbey. It was removed in the summer of 1819. It stood on the north side of the Maygate, nearly opposite to the Maygate Chapel. The following view of the Sanctuary is from a water-colour taken by the late Mr. Andrew Mercer shortly before it was removed to make way for modern improvements.

 

THE DEBT OF THE BURGH OF DUNFERMLINE in November, 1819, was found to amount to $20,401 4s. 10d. (MS)

PRECENTOR OF THE ABBEY CHURCH, &c.--The Offices of Song School, and Precentor of the Abbey Chruch were, in 1819, conferred on Mr. James Rankine, of Glasgow, by the usual partons of these offices.  (MS. Note; also Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 41.)

REMAINS OF KING ROBERT THE BRUCE RE-ENTOMBED 5th November, 1819.--The remains of King Robert the Bruce, which were accidentally discovered in the forenoon of 17th February, 1818,  were re-entombed on 5th November, 1819.  The remains, during the interval--626 days--were guarded during the night by relays of the town's constables. The following are a few notanda relative to this memorable event:—

  Dr. Gregory, of Edinburgh, had been consulted regarding the best method of securing the remains from future decay.  He recommended the Barons of the Exchequer to pour melted pitch on the remains, which was done—five barrels of pitch (about 1500 Ibs.) being employed for that purpose. The new lead coffin was very large—almost 7 ft. long by 2 ft. 8 in, broad at the shoulders, and 2 ft. 4 in. deep. At the ceremony of the re-entombment were the Barons of the Exchequer, the King's Remembrancer, Dr. Gregory, Dr. Munro, Mr, Scoular, sculptor, Edinburgh, the Provost, Magistrates, Heritors, and other gentlemen of Dunfermline and neighbourhood. Mr. Scoular made a plaster cast of the Bruce's head previous to the pitching process. The King's Remembrancer, Sir Henry Jardine, in the works which he afterwards published regarding the re-entombment, says :—

  In the coffin was first poured melted pitch, to the depth of 4 inches, and then the following articles were deposited :—

Barbour's Life of Bruce, 4th ed., 1714. (Given by Dr. Jamieson.) Lord Hailes' Annals of Scotland. 2 vols. 8vo. Kerr's History of the Reign of King Robert the Bruce. 2 vols. 8vo. 1811. The History of Dunfermline, by the Rev. John Fernie. 8vo. 1815. The Edinburgh Almanack and Directory for 1819.

With a variety of the Edinburgh newspapers of the day, together with the following coins of the reign of his Majesty, King George the Third ;—

GOLD COINS SILVER COINS

One Guinea,..........................1788               Crown Piece……………1819

One Half do...........................1791               One Half do…………   .1816

One Do. do............................1802               One Do. Do…………….1819

One Sovereign,.....................1817                 One Shilling……………1816

One Half do,..........................1817                One Do………………….1819

One Seven Shilling Piece,...1810                   One Do…………………1787

One Quarter Guinea.                                     One Six Pence…………..1787

                                                                   One Do………………….1816

                                                                   One Do………………….1819

The coins were first put into a small copper-box, and then enclosed in one of lead; and all the other articles (books, &c.) were enclosed in leaden boxes closely secured.

 

  The Skeleton was then placed upon the top of the leaden coffin, resting upon the wooden board by which it had been raised ; and, in order to gratify the curiosity of an immense crowd of people who had assembled outside the church, the south and north doors of the church were thrown open, and the people were allowed to enter by the south door, passing along the side of the vault, and retiring by the north, which they did in the most decent and orderly manner.

 

  As soon as the public curiosity was gratified, the vault was levelled to the floor, which was also taken up and laid level, and upon the top of it was placed a bed of bricks laid in mortar, on which, and in the exact situation in which the skeleton was found, the new leaden coffin was placed, and the body carefully deposited in it. It was then filled up within two inches of the top with melted pitch, and the top soldered on.

  The following represents the cover or lid of the leaden coffin containing the remains.  It is copied from that given in The Kings Remembrancer's Report. The name, KING ROBERT BRUCE, and the dates, 1329, 1819, referring to the year of the king's death, and that of his re-entombment, are in raised letters on the lid :—

KING • ROBERT • BRUGE

1329

1819

  The sides of the vault were then built up with bricks, the whole arched over, and a strong wall 18 inches thick was built all round the brick-work. (See Report of the Kings .Remembrancer Relative to the Tomb and Skeleton of King Robert the Bruce, published at Edinburgh in 1821, pp. 39-43 ; see also the Histories of Dunfermline.) The site of this vault, containing the remains of King Robert the Bruce, is under the pulpit-stair of the present Abbey Church.

 

  At the time of the re-entombment of "The Bruce," the new church walls were about seven feet high all round. It was resolved, shortly after the discovery of the remains, to have the new walls raised to this height in order to keep back the pressure of the crowd at the re-entombment, hence the cause of the 626 days elapsing between the discovery and the re-interment. Dr, Gregory, in his letter to the Barons of the Exchequer already alluded to, says—"If Prince Posterity shall insist upon seeing the King's remains in 10,000 or 20,000 years hence, he will find it hard work to pick him out of his shell." We should think that the chemistry in these our days would suggest some other method of "preservation" than by means of melted pitch, and as efficacious. This re-entombment in a pitch shroud was " for many years the theme of conversation in Dunfermline and throughout Scotland."  (MS. Note.)

  Another note may here be given as it will touch a sympathetic chord in the bosoms of many still alive, viz., "After the re-entombment of the King, a great deal of wasted patches of pitch were scattered around the site of the tomb. Much of it was permitted to be taken away for the purpose of turning into flambeaus for New-Year and Hansel mornings; and accordingly, New-Year's morning and Auld-Hansel-Monday morning of 1820 were ushered in by hundreds of flambeaus, carried through the streets by 'the boys of the period.' This unusual 'blazing turn-out' was looked upon as an honour done to the memory of the glorious King Robert the Brace." The writer was one of the torch-bearers on the occasion !

 

  The late Dr. Gregory composed an elegant Latin inscription for a tomb then proposed to be erected over the remains of the great King, of which the following is a translation :—

  "Here, amidst the. ruins of the old, in building a new Church, in the year 1818, the  grave of Robert Bruce, King of Scots, of immortal memory, being accidentally opened, and his remains recognised by sure tokens, with pious duly were again committed to the earth by the people of this town. A distant generation, 489 years after his death, erected this monument to that great hero and excellent King, who, with matchless valour in war, and wisdom in peace, by his own energy and perserving exertions, re-established the almost ruined and hopeless state of Scotland, long cruelly oppressed by an inveterate and powerful enemy, and happily avenged the oppression, and restored the ancient liberty and glory of his country"

(Taken from Dr. Gregory's Manuscript Translation of 1819; see also An. Dunf. date 1330 ; Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. pp. 138, 152.)

PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—Major David Wilson, of Dunfermline, re-elected Provost, Sept., 1819. (Burgh Records.)

LITERATURE.—" Dunfermline Abbey: A Poem, with Historical Notes and Illustrations. By Andrew Mercer. Dunfermline, printed and sold by J. Miller. 1819," This is a small 12 mo volume of 184 pages; the greater part is in poetry, the concluding part is in prose. It is an excellent little work, now out of print. According to the conclusion of its preface, it was published on the 4th June, 1819. The author begins with "The Hunt," and makes the result of it account for the origin of the name Dunfermline. Afterwards he continues in Sections, viz., "The Monastery Founded,"—" The Culdees,"—" Utility of Monasteries,"—"The Storm,"—"St. Margaret's Hope;'—-The Marriage,"—"The Epithalamium,"—"Queen Margaret,"—"Alexander First,"—"David First,"—"The Requiem,"— "Alexander Third,"— "Destruction of the Abbey,"—" Robert Bruce,"—"Henryson,"—"The Reformation,"—"The Ruins;'—"Prospect from the Church,"—Historical Illustrations, in prose, from p. 94 to p. 184. As quotations have already been given in the Annals from this work, another in full from one of the above sections will suffice here, viz-, " The Abbey Ruins;"—

"These crumbling rains now survey;

Long centuries have rolled away,

Since, from their lofty heights o'erthrown,

Their towers along the ground were strewn;

Yet still some fragments may be seen

To mark the site where they have been.

Tho' tempest-worn, the Brothers-hall

Can boast its massy Southern Wall,

And Western Window,—once the pride

Of some superior artist skilled

To fashion stone even as he willed;

Until the mimic figures vied

With all the pencil's art supplied.

The ancient portal yet remains,

And on its strong-ribbed roof sustains

A ruined gate-house; once the guard

Of entrance to the main-court-yard.

Exists one wall alone to tell

Where did the learned Monarch dwell,

When hapless CHARLES first saw a world.

From which he was so rudely hurled.

Of MALCOM'S Tower, by crooked rill,

Is seen a shapeless fragment still;

That royal Fort of ancient fame,

From which DUNFERMLINE took its name.

The venerable Church uprears

Its pond'rous mass, embrowned, with years;

From age to age its form repaired,

Few ancient fragments now are spared;

Them still the skilful eye can trace,

By antique shape and shrivelled face;

Like aged thorns that long have stood

The rifted patriarchs of the wood.

But lo ! amid these ruined halls,

A Temple rears its hallowed walls;

(Like fabled bird that upward springs,

From the warm ashes of its sire,

Feels new life vibrate thro' its "Wings,

And all its youth renewed by fire !)

Sublime it lifts its Gothic form

Beside the ancient fane so grey;

Destined to resist the storm,

While centuries roll their years away !

But man's fast-fleeting transient day,

(Alas ! how soon that day is passed,

His feeblest works himself outlast!)

Shall often,—often quench its ray,

Before those walls all ruined lie,

In future ages' wondering eye!

The crumbling; Fabric by its side,

To this the fame of ages lends;

And with the bloom of youthful pride,

Its venerable aspect blends.

No longer shall the royal Tombs,

Despoiled, unsheltered, now remain;—

Their ashes, and their sacred homes

Outraged, denied by hands profane, —

Shall, honoured with due reverence, lie,

Beneath a splendid cemetry! "

(Mercer's " Dunfermline Abbey: a Poem," pp. 30-33.)

It may here be noted that the first seventeen lines refer to the Monastic ruins; the following four to the ruins of the Royal Palace; then to the ruins of the Tower, on Towerhill; afterwards to the Old Abbey Church, and concludes with allusions to the New Abbey Church, then in process of building at the time the poem was published. (See also An. Dunf. dates 1813, 1816, 1828; and 1838 for Mercer's other works.)

THE OLD ABBEY CHOIR RUIN REMOVED, Nov. 1819.—This ruin was the last remaining fragment of the Great Eastern Church or Choir, erected in 1226. The ruin consisted of a massive old wall, about 40 feet in length by 24 in height, in which were four tall Gothic windows. The ruin stood on the southern boundary of the old or North Churchyard, adjacent to the door of the north transept of the New Abbey Church.

"The old green-top'd melancholy wall"

 

was removed in November, 1819, to make way for the north transept of the New Church, then in progress of building.  Previous to its removal, the late Mr. Mercer made several views of the ruin; two of these in water-colours, taken from the north and south, are in the possession of the writer. Mr. J. Bayne, surveyor, Edinburgh, has a fine pen and ink sketch of the old window, done by him in 1790, to be seen in his MS. Sketches of Dunfermline, now in the possession of David Laing, Esq., LL.D., Signet Library, Edinburgh, from which view a reduced but not very accurate copy was taken by the late Dr. Chalmers for his first volume of the History of Dunfermline. (Vide Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. plate xiv. page 117.)

THE BRUCE'S GRAVE HOAX-PLATE.—We take from our MS. Notes the following particulars of this celebrated hoax :—

  The discovery of the remains of the immortal King Robert the Bruce, sent a thrill of joy and delight through the heart of every Scotsman; but although the remains were found lying in the place indicated by our early historians, Barbour and Fordun, and by anatomical tests, yet there were sceptics who doubted the genuineness of the "find." It occurred to some wags to satisfy the sceptics, and have a plate made to meet their objection. A privy council, and sworn to secrecy, undertook to supply a plate with a rude engraving on it. Mr. John Bonnar, one of the builders of the New Abbey Church; Mr. Thom, artist and portrait painter; Mr. A. Mercer, the historian of Dunfermline; and Mr. Robert Malcolm, brewer, were the "ingenious persons who conducted the affair to a great success." The plate was manufactured and engraved in Edinburgh, and. then sent for use to Dunfermline, where it was submitted to a chemical process, to render it more antique looking! and slipt quietly amongst the rubbish in the near locality of the Bruce's grave. In due time it was discovered, and a loud ring of intense delight was again felt everywhere, by having the resting-place of the hero-king settled for ever. The plate was most sacredly prized. Mr. Miller, printer, &c., Dunfermline, got Mr. Thom, the arch-inventor of the hoax, to make an exact drawing of the found plate; this was done, and an engraving was made of it; copies from which were long sold by the publisher at one shilling each! We have a copy of this now extremely rare production. The print on the plate appears to have been made by some chemical process, so as to look superbly time-worn like, and measures 5 1/2 inches in height by 4 in breadth; the edges are irregularly cut, or worn like, there are round holes at two of the extreme corners; the other two, at the remaining comers, are mutilated; in the centre of the engraving there is a miniature plan of the Abbey Church, then building; at the top there is an antique formed crown; along the transepts are the words—"ROBERTUS SCOTORUM REX," and below, at foot, there is a large cross, with four pointed stars in the angles, and outside the foot of the print, are the following words:—"In filling up the pit where the vault containing the Remains of KING ROBERT THE BRUCE was discovered on the 18th February, 1818, the plate of which this is an engraving was FOUND, the l0th November, 1819. On the 5th November, 1818; these Sacred Remains, after the inspection of the Barons of Exchequer, &c., were re-interred in the exact spot where they had been originally deposited in 1329."

  The above inscription has a wrong date on it. King Robert's remains were discovered on l7th February, 1818, and not on the 18th as on the plate. (See An. Dunf. p. 560, for a plate found in the same locality in 1807, having on it a somewhat similar inscription to that found in 1819.) May not the former inscription have suggested that for the latter? This successful hoax for a long time engaged the attention of the committee who carried it through. The present writer, in after times, by exposing the hoax in the public prints, kept the affair from becoming allied to authentic history.

LITERATURE.—"Poems on Various Subjects. By Walter Bell. Dunfermline: Printed for the Author by John Miller. 1819." This small volume, now very scarce, is a 12mo of 160 pages, and contains 113 songs, hymns, &c, some of which are of considerable merit. Several of them are satires, and are curious. The following will suffice as a fair specimen of this author's compositions:—

 

"on J——n T——n, Tailor.

Ye Tailors all, hail Deacon JOHN To meet the foe where'er they land

And let your praises rise On fair Britannia's shore;

In his behalf loud in a song. Should Bonny come, with heart and hand,

  And all his merit prize. He falls to rise no more.

He reigns the King above you all, To press him down with goose red hot

The standard now he bears; Would be a noble deed;

Dunfermline town shall never fall, To clip from him the fame he's got

While his fierce band appears. Would make his heart-strings bleed.

His rosy face placed at their head 0 JOHNNY! use your sheers with might,

Would make the French retire; And guillotine the rogue;

With needles long in time of need, Could turtle heroes catch the wight,

Their souls would burn like fire To roast him like a frog."

Walter Bell, tailor, Dunfermline, had a weakness for holy-water, as he called it. He was otherwise an amiable man. He died of cholera, in Dunfermline, in 1832, aged about 70 years. His poems have been long out of print. The writer possesses the copy gifted to him by the author.

1820.—PUBLIC WHIPPING.—Three colliers were publicly whipped in March, 1820, "for an unprovoked malicious assault on a woman in one of the suburban streets of the town. Fearing a general rising of the colliers of the district to rescue their comrades, the Magistrates, by application, obtained a large detachment of dragoons from Edinburgh, who on the whipping day marched up the High Street in a hollow square form—the Edinburgh hangman and the three culprits being in the middle of the square. The crowd was immense." (MS. Note.)

CIRCULATING LIBRARY.—A Circulating Library was established in the High Street by David Adams, bookbinder, &c. (MS. Note.)

LIMEKILNS CHURCH—Death of the Rev. Mr. Hodden.—The Rev. William Hadden, minister of the Secession Church, Limekilns, died 17th May, 1820, in the 6oth year of his age and thirty-sixth of his ministry. (MS. Note.)

UNION OF THE BURGHER AND ANTI-BURGHER CHURCHES.— " In consequence of the general Union of the Burghers and Anti-Burghers this year, the congregations of these bodies in Dunfermline, as elsewhere, joined into one loving denomination of worshippers after a separation of seventy-three years. (See An. Dunf. date 1747.)

THE PITTENCRIEFF UNION FRIENDLY SOCIETY was instituted in 1820. Finlay Jones, preses; Alex. Trail, clerk. (Dunf. Regis. for 1829.)

PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—Major David Wilson, of Dunfermline, re-elected Provost, Sept., 1820. (Burgh Records.)

LITERATURE.—" The Dunfermline Songster: being a Selection of the most Fashionable Songs for the Use of Schools. By James Rankine. Published by J. Miller, 1820." This is a small 24 mo of 26 pp., contains thirty-one popular songs, and has been long out of print. (See An. Dunf. date 1823.)

ANTI-BURGHER KIRK (Secession Church.) — The Rev. George Barlas was ordained colleague and successor to the Rev. Dr. Black on 17th October, 1820. (Mackelvie's An. and Stat. p. 176; see also An. Dunf. date Sept., 1832.)

DOMESTIC SPINNING.—Under date 1745 we give extracts from Mr. Wilson's letter relative to distaffs and spinning-wheels. He concludes said letter by referring to the "state of things" with regard to them in 1820;—

  In 1820 the spinning-wheel had almost become a thing of the past. The spinning-wheels, which numbered in town and vicinity at the commencement of the century about 850, had in 1820 dwindled down to a score. The pleasant industrious hum of the wheel was then scarcely heard. . . . The sound of the wheel was long ago heard from numerous houses in every street . . . These wheels, single and double-handed, gave employment to females, old and young. . . . When passing along the streets, the peculiar sound from the wheels often put me in mind of the distich-lines—

" Spin on, spin on, my birring wheel,

Bir on, bir on, my spinning-wheel," &c

.

It may be here noticed, that after Tower-hill was enclosed, and became private ground, the spinners had recourse to the Back-Braes, the Anti-Burgher Green, and latterly to the Public Green and Washing-house near Halybluid Acres, from 1811to 1822. (MS. Note.)

REID'S PARK "was, in 1820, feued for building, when Reid Street commenced to be built." (MS. Note.) A foot road, on the site of Reid Street, was previous to this period, known as " Geelies' Wynd " (Gillies' Wynd, i.e.. Servants' Wynd—notably the old wynd for servant-traffic to and from the Abbey).

LITERATURE.—"A Collection of Excellent New Songs, and other Pieces on Different Subjects. Printed by the Author. D. Patton, Dunfermline, 1820."—This small work, like the rest of this author's productions, is a 24mo of 104 pages, and embraces a great variety of subjects, illustrated by 22 small rough wood-cuts of howlets, castles, men in arms, &c., from the author's cutters. The first part of this volume appears to have been published in 1820, the second part about 1822. The author once informed the writer that he had printed only thirty copies of his book. It is long since out of print. The copy in our possession is perhaps the only one extant.

1821.—WOODHEAD STREET BENEVOLENT FUNERAL SOCIETY, established January 26, 1821; confirmed, May, 1833. (MS. Note.)

THE CHARLESTOWN LIBRARY was established in 1821—the Right Hon. the Earl of Elgin, president; R, Menzies, treasurer; James BIyth, librarian. {Regist. Dunf. for 1829.)

CENSUS.—The third Government census of Dunfermline, &c., was taken in April, 1821, with the following result;—Population of Dunfermline and Suburbs, 8041 ; Parish, 13,690. Increase of population

in the Burgh since 1811, 1549; Parish, 2041.

DEATH OF THE REV. JAMES HUSBAND, D.D.—At Dunfermline, on the 17th May, 1821, the Rev. James Husband, D.D., minister of the First Charge of the Secession Church, Queen Ann Street, died in the 70th year of his age and the forty-sixth of his ministry. He was interred in " Ralph Erskine's grave," near the south-east corner of the North Churchyard.

THE FREEDOM OF THE BURGH was Conferred on Walter Scott, Esq. of Abbotsford, June 13, 1821.  About a year afterwards, he was by George IV., created a baronet.  “The Great Wizard,” the Great Unknown,” &c., were then his cognomens.  (Burgh Records.)  He visited the Abbey Church and the Monastic and Palace ruins.  The heritors promised to send the pulpit of the Auld Kirk to Abbotsford, which was done the following year.   (MS.)

ROLLAND STREET SCHOOL.—In 1821, the sum of £1000 was bequeathed to this school by Adam Rolland, Esq., of Gask, the interest derived from which to be distributed annually for educational purposes. 

DEATH OF MRS. GEDD.—This lady (the last of the old family of Gedd of Baldridge) died on the 12th of June, 1821, in the 93rd year of her age.

WILLIAM CANT—Walking on the Sea.—Early in the year 1821, William Cant, an ingenious blacksmith and machine-maker, Bridge Street, Dunfermline, completed his newly-invented machine for  walking on the water, concerning which we here reproduce an account taken from our MS. Notes:--

  The machine consisted of a kind of raft, somewhat resembling the letter X, having at the extremities air-vessels of considerable size, which unitedly were capable of supporting a weight of about 300 lbs.  From the raft, slender metal arms rose to a height of two feet or so above the centre of it, which bore on  their top a small seat (saddle fashion).  On this saddle Cant sat in great state, and worked his raft hither and thither with alacrity and considerable speed, by means of jointed valve-pieces fixed on the soles of his shoes.  Such was the machine for walking on the water!  At best it was a roughly-made instrument, and a sorry attempt to walk on water; yet, notwithstanding this, great crowds of people went to see his exhibitions at Limekilns and elsewhere.  On such occasions he sat with dignity on his seat, armed with a gun, and now and the bringing down sea-fowl, and moving about with great speed.  In August, 1822, he left Leith harbour to met the squadron which conveyed George IV. to that port.  His machine came to grief amongst the flotilla of small craft then moving about the offing of the harbour.  It is understood that the King gave private orders to have the machine repaired at his expense. 

WEAVING—A Gentleman’s Shirt Woven in the Loom.—Mr. David Anderson, weaver, a native of Dunfermline, but who removed to Glasgow this year (1821), completed the weaving of a gentleman’s shirt in the loom.  It was made of fine linen, and had on its breast the British Arms, and the usual ruffles then in fashion.  For this ingenious feat he received £10 from a fund in Glasgow for the encouragement of inventors, &c. This shirt was sent by Mr. Anderson (through Lord Sidmouth, Secretary of State) as a present to his Majesty King George IV. Along with the acknowledgment of its receipt by the King, he received the sum of £50. {Chalmers's Hist. of Dunf. vol. i, p. 380.)

THE NEW ABBEY CHURCH.—This Church was finished and opened for worship on Sunday, 30th September, 1821; by the Rev. Allan M'Lean in the forenoon, and the Rev. Peter Chalmers in the afternoon. It may here be noted that the last sermon preached in the Old Church was on Sunday afternoon, 23rd September, 1821, by the Rev. Peter Chalmers, from I Peter i. 24, 25. Nearly two years were taken up in levelling the site and building this church, "the interior of which is splendid, while the exterior is very common-place. The great tower is out of architectural proportion, and the words, ' KING ROBERT THE BRUCE,' round the top of it is in bad taste." The Church is seated for 2,050 hearers.

PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—Major David Wilson (residence, the house in Queen Ann Street, fronting Crosswynd) was re-elected Provost, September, 1831. (Burgh Records.)

THE DUNFERMLINE FEMALE BENEFICENT SOCIETY was established November, 1821, "to relieve the wants of distressed and infirm old women." (Dunf. Register.)

INGLIS STREET.—"This street was laid out in the year 1820 ; and the first house in it was built in the summer of 1821." (MS. Note.)

MINIATURE VIEW OF THE NEW ABBEY CHURCH.—At the close of 1821, W. W. Christie, a native, and a self-taught engraver on wood, executed a very good miniature woodcut of the New Abbey Church from the south-east, a reduced view from the copperplate then recently published.

1822.— DEATH OF MAJOR DAVID WILSON.—Major Wilson died on the 13th March, 1822, and was interred within the area of the Nave of the Abbey Church. He was for 15 years Provost of the Burgh, a Major in the Marines, and, from 1810, a partner in the firm of Messrs. Wilson and Beveridge, bankers.

NUMBERING OF HOUSES.—The numbering of houses was, this year, suggested by Mr. James Fernie, messenger-at-arms. About a dozen of houses in the east part of the High Street were numbered early in 1822, but it did not become general till 1834.

HATTON'S MOUSE THREAD-MILL.—David Hatton, a small grocer in Pittencreiff Street, Dunfermline, in the early part of this year, contrived and constructed with his own hands a curious little machine—a miniature kind of thread-mill, driven by a mouse. In June, 1824, the inventor sent a drawing and description of his mouse thread-mill to the Glasgow Mechanics' Magizine, which was duly inserted in that work, and to which the reader is referred for particulars. (Glasgow Mechanics' Magazine vol. iii. 305-307.) Previous to that description the novelty of the contrivance had found a place in several newspapers. It would appear that the account of it in the newspaper paragraphs was inspired by Hatton, one of which we shall give in full as it is somewhat unique :—

"MOUSE THREAD-MILL BY FRIEND HATTON  [1822].—Mr. Hatton, of Dunfermline has had two mice constantly employed in the manufacture of sewing-thread for upwards of twelve months; and that the curious may be entertained with a fair statement of facts, I hope you will give a place to the following description, which is by no means exaggerated, as I, having often seen his mouse thread-mills, thoroughly understand the amusing operation. The mouse thread-mill is so constructed, that the common house-mouse is enabled to make atonement to society for past offences, by twisting, twining, and reeling from 100 to 120 threads per day (Sunday not excepted), of the same length, and equally with the enclosed hank, which I send as a specimen of their work for the inspection of the curious. To complete their task, the little pedestrian has to run 10 1/2 miles. This journey is performed with ease every day. An ordinary mouse weighs only half an ounce. A halfpenny worth of oatmeal, at 15d. per peck serves one of these treadmill culprits for the long period of five weeks. In that time it makes (110 threads per day being the average) 3850 threads of 25 inches, which is very near nine lengths of the standard reel. A penny is paid here to women for every cut made in the ordinary way. At this rate, a mouse earns 9d. every five weeks, which is just one farthing per day, or 7s. 6d, per an. Take 6d. off for board, and allow Is. for machinery, there will arise 6s. of clear profit from every mouse yearly. The last rime I was in company with the mouse-employer he told me he was going to make application, to the heritors for a lease of an old empty house (the auld kirk) in Dunfermline, the dimensions of which are 100 feet by 50, and 50 in height, which, at a moderate calculation, will hold 10,000 mouse-mills, sufficient room being left for the keepers and some hundred of spectators. Allowing £200 for rent and taskmasters, and £500 for the interest of £10,000 to erect machinery, there will be a balance of £2,300 per anum. This, sir, you will say is projecting with a vengeance, but it would surely be preferable to the old South-Sea speculation." (Vide Edinburgh Star, July 7, 1822; Liverpool Kaleidoscope, Aug. 12th, 1822.)

 

VISIT OF KING GEORGE IV TO SCOTLAND.—Our Note referring to this celebrated visit of George IV., states that "Dunfermline was in great commotion, old and young running about with heather and broom in their caps or hats; and on the day of the King's procession to Edinburgh Castle, on 22nd August, the town turned inside out, and went to Edinburgh, although the day was dreeping wet." (MS. Note.)

PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—John Scotland, Esq., of East Luscar, near Dunfermline, elected Provost, Sept., 1822, as successor to Major David Wilson.

LEVELLING OF THE SOUTH CHURCHYARD—Ornamental Walks, and the Widening of St. Catherine’s Wynd.—Regarding the levelling, the alterations, and the decorations accomplished on the grounds south side of the church, there are several notes. We prefer those given by the late Mr. John Bonnar, one of the contractors for building the new Abbey Church :—

  "Shortly after the Abbey Church was finished and opened for public worship in Sept, 1821, the ground on the south side of the church was still filled with masons' sheds, hewn and unhewn stones, immense logs of wood, and covered in great part with stone chips. Right in front of the great western window of the Frater Hall there was a deep hollow space of about 8 ft., which extended eastward to the end of the Frater Hall wall, about 120 ft. in length by about 34 ft. in breadth (the size of the Frater Hall.) On the north-east comer of this hollow space saw-pits were erected for the sawyers, Hooper and Cooper, for sawing the great logs into deals for church use. In October, 1821, this ground was by the heritors ordered to be cleared of rubbish, levelled, and decorated with ornamental walks. This was immediately proceeded with, but was not completed before July, 1822.

 

  "The deep hollow, 120 ft. long, 34 ft. broad, and about 8 ft. below the present surface, was partly filled up with the rubbish at hand, then filled with earth, and covered with trees. This being done, the whole surface of the ground was cleared of the rubbish and levelled, and ornamental walks laid out on the surface, which was completed at the time noted.   "In July, 1822, the rough rising ground which ascended from the street to the west wall of the church, &c., was partly removed, as also were the stable and the byre, which figure in the foreground of some old views of the Church and the Monastery, namely, those shown in Grose's Ant. Scot; Forsyth’s Beauties of Scotland, &c. [See view under date 1817, An. Dunf.] At the foot of the Monastery Tower, close on the street at the Pends, there was an arched or pended way which led into the interior of the tower, 10 ft. in height, 7 ft. in breadth, and a passage into the tower of 20 ft. This vaulted passage had the name of Deel's Hole, which is also shown in these works. It was cleared away at the same time. In October, 1822, a dyke 10 ft. or so in height, was run up from the side of this tower to the Church Gates at foot of the Kirkgate. The building of the upper part of this dyke was the cause of much grief to many of the inhabitants. During the building of the lower part of this wall it was resolved that St. Catherine's Wynd be widened to the extent of 8 ft. at the foot of the wynd, tapering off till it united with the Church gates. This necessitated the removal of a great many graves, wholly or in part. Many a harrowing sight took place at the removal of these graves, with saddened hearts and weeping eyes."

 

THE OLD KIRK—Galleries, Seating, &c., Removed.—Although the New Abbey Church was opened for public worship in Sept., 1821, "it was not until late in 1822 that the seats, sec., in the old building were disposed of by public auction (in the Old Kirk), and it was not until the spring of 1823 that the whole building was stripped clean of its ecclesiastical furniture. Since then the old building has been empty and now serves a second time as a noble vestibule to an eastern church." (See Addenda An. Dunf.)

WEAVING LOOMS.—In 1822 it was ascertained that there were 1800 looms in Dunfermline and immediate vicinity.

THEATRICALS IN THE GUILD HALL.—Mr. Samuel Johnson,. manager, had a respectable troupe of actors. He was occasionally assisted by the celebrated Charles Mackay (Bailie Nicol Jarvie), from the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, as also Miss Noel and other celebrities. The performances were conducted in the large ball-room, entrance from Guildhall Street, and were continued nightly for several months. The speculation was a great success. (MS. Note.)

LITERATURE.—" Two Discourses on the Sin, Danger, and Remedy of Duelling, &c. By the Rev. Peter Chalmers, A.M., one of the Ministers of Dunfermline.  Published by Thomson Brothers, Edinburgh, 1822." This is a small 12mo volume of 260 pages. The two discourses were delivered in the Abbey Church, shortly after the duel between Sir Alexander Boswell and James Stuart, Esq., of Dunearn, in a park about eight miles east of Dunfermline, and had special reference to this occurrence.

“WEAVERS’ STRIKE."—This year (1822) the "Weavers' Table of Wages" were reduced. This occasioned a strike in the trade, which continued for nearly ten months. "Great distress was the consequence. Many of the weavers got employment on the public roads and other works." (MS. Notes.)


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