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Reminiscences of the Royal Burgh of Haddington
Adam Bogue or Woodhall and Linplum


IT was mentioned that the merit of improving the breed of sheep in East Lothian was due to Mr William Brodie of Upper Keith, who introduced the new Leicester breed in 1776. The general opinion at that time was, that Leicester sheep could be fattened in a shorter time, and at less cost of food, than any other of the varieties which prevailed at the time—that the quality of the wool was much superior to other kinds, and brought a higher price, and that great improvements were made in crossing blackfaced and Cheviot ewes with Leicester rams. We have now to bring into notice the efforts of the late Adam Bogue of Linplum still further to improve the breed of sheep, which was so successfully begun by Mr William Brodie. Mr Adam Bogue was the eldest son of Mr George Bogue, the enterprising tenant of Stevenson Mains, who acquired wealth, and became proprietor of the estates of Woodhall, Broomrigg, Foul-struther, and Kirkland. He died in 1816, aged eighty. Mr Bogue came originally from Auchincraw, in Berwickshire, where the family had farmed for a long period. Mr Adam Bogue entered on the farm of Linplum about 1800. He was a nephew of Mr William Brodie of Upper Keith ; and he quickly showed by his substantial and judicious improvements, that he was following in the footsteps of his energetic relative. He summer-fallowed extensively; purchased dung at Haddington and other places extensively, and drove large quantities of lime, which was liberally applied. He purchased ewes, and hired rams at high prices from Mr Culley and others, but chiefly from Mr Sitwell of Barmoor Castle, a famous breeder of Leicesters in his day.

It was the fashion in East Lothian, among the breeders of Leicester sheep, to have exhibitions of their stock, and sweepstakes as prizes for the best specimens. These ram and ewe shows were extremely popular. Crowds of practical farmers and amateurs attended them, and keen competitions took place. In the Farmers9 Magazine of September 1808, an account (written by Mr Brown of Markle) is given of a sheep show which took place at Linplum on 2d July 1808, from which we quote what must be interesting to agriculturists at the present time. Mr Brown says—“The numbers who crowded from all quarters exemplified the interest felt by the majority of farmers in the improvement of live stock. Mr John Home in his history of the Rebellion of 1745, when describing the march of Sir John Cope’s army from Dunbar towards Edinburgh, says—‘The people of the country flocked from all quarters to see an army going to fight a battle in East Lothian/ This description, in part, is not inapplicable to the Linplum sheep show. Though shows are frequent in Northumberland and Berwickshire, nothing of the kind has hitherto taken place in East Lothian. The company met at Linplum at one o’clock. In the first place, Mr Bogue showed thirteen very fine rams, chiefly shearlings, each having a label hanging from his neck denoting the particular number of the animal, from which reference was made to the quantity of wool clipped. The rams were in high condition, uncommonly well managed, and shown with such judgment as to afford the greatest satisfaction to the numerous company assembled at the inspection. Most of the rams i were let, and bargained for hire for the season at high prices. After the exhibition a sweepstake of 5s. each by Mr Bogue, Mr Brodie, Scoughall, and Mr Ker, Whitekirk, who should show the best ram, was determined in favour of Mr Brodie. The judges were Mr Matther Culley, Mr Scott and Mr William Brodie. A bull and several West Highland cows, with a valuable parcel of feeding cattle, purchased by Mr Bogue from Dunrobin, in Sutherlandshire, were shown in an adjoining court. Mr Bogue’s attempts, in conjunction with those of Mr Sitwell, to improve the West Highland breed of cattle by selecting the best bulls and cows, and rearing their progeny on good pastures, merit every degree of success.

After the show was concluded, 108 agriculturists were sumptuously entertained by Mr Bogue in the large thrashing bam, which was most commodiously fitted up for their reception. The whole company were highly pleased with the urbanity and good manners of the entertainer, who, on this occasion, was well supported by several gentlemen who took an active hand in discharging the different offices entrusted to them. Among the company who attended the show were the Earl of Dalhousie, Lord Cathcart, Lord Maitland, the Hon. Mr Cathcart, Sir James Baird, Bart., Mr Hay of Spott, Mr Dewar of Vogrie, Mr Stuart of Alderston, &c. The Earl of Dalhousie, after an appropriate speech, proposed “The Health of Mr Bogue,” adding, “May his useful and laudable example be extensively imitated by his brethren in East Lothian.” The sheep show for next year was fixed to take place at Scoughall, when other sweepstakes were determined on.

Mr Brown throws out the suggestion that competitions of this nature in other branches of husbandry were well calculated, from the emulation which accompanies such friendly contests, to excite a spirit of improvement in every department of rural art. It is probable that the idea of having competitions for the best-worked fallow, the cleanest and best-managed farm, the periodical shows for seed-grain and fat cattle in Haddington, which continue to the present day, first arose from Mr Brown’s well-considered suggestion. Mr Bogue was the first who led the way in getting up the exhibitions and shows of sheep and cattle in East Lothian, and to him the merit of establishing them must be ascribed.

The farm of Linplum is a difficult one to work, the land on the west side of “Meg’s Bank” especially, the Upper and Under Windings being steep and composed of as stiff, red, greasy clay (rich, however) as can be found in almost any other part of East Lothian. In a dry and warm season great deep cracks and rents appear, into which one could put a walking-stick to a considerable depth. The clods are as heavy nearly as lead. A severe and continuous frost, however, reduces the roughness of them, and the surface then becomes as fine as meal. A story is told of some English friends who once visited Mr Bogue, and, being taken over the “Windings” during winter, complimented him in having such a large extent of fine turnip land. It is a fact that when the “Windings” were to be summer-fallowed the hinds at Linplum used always to flit, giving as a reason that the “fauching” would kill both them and their horses. Another story is also told of Mr Bogue going one day to see how his new ploughmen were coming on with the “ fallow.” When he reached the field he heard a great noise of tongues, and asked them what the matter was. They all declared they would not stay a day longer in the place, as the land was as hard as “yetlan" and would soon kill them and his horses. They could not get the ploughs even to enter or keep the furrow. Mr Bogue, however, managed in a good season to fallow his stiff fields to great perfection, and his labour was rewarded in having very strong crops of wheat, and afterwards of the finest feeding grass. The land on the east side of “Meg's Bank” is much lighter, and suited for growing turnips, and barley, &c.

Mr Bogue entered on the adjoining farm of Bara somewhere about 1816, which, with Linplum, made about nine hundred imperial acres—an extensive holding. Bara being mostly a fine turnip soil, Mr Bogue was thus enabled to fatten his fine Leicesters to a large extent, and many cattle, chiefly of the Aberdeenshire and West Highland breeds, but latterly he went in more for shorthorns. He was celebrated as a first-class feeder, and often obtained prizes at the Highland societies and other shows for his fat stock.

About the year 1812, Mr Bogue, in conjunction with Mr Francis Walker, farmer at Whitelaw, took from the Marquis of Tweeddale a lease of the large and extensive farm of Snawdon, the greater part of which at that time was lying in a state of nature. They resolved to bring such land into cultivation by burning the clay, subsoil, and turf. The cultivated part of Snawdon was at that time the highest arable land in East Lothian, lying close up to the Lammermuir hills. They brought labourers from Wigtonshire, who were conversant with clay-burning, as practised by Mr Alexander Craig, at Cally, in that county, and contracted with them to burn as a first experiment two thousand double cartloads, at two shillings per load, each to contain about a cubic yard. Mr Robert Hope, a very able agriculturist, and late farmer at Fenton and Fentonbarns, wrote an article detailing the experiment, and the results of it, which is inserted in the Farmers' Magazine for August 1815. We extract from Mr Hope’s paper some of his remarks.

“The field in which the operations are carrying on is generally of a very inferior quality, the surface being composed principally of peat earth, of from six to eight inches deep, and it is nearly in a state of nature. The subsoil is whitish, or pale yellow, and appears to be a mixture of clay and sand—the sand rather predominating ; and it contains a considerable quantity of the roots of such aquatic plants as had grown on the surface. When the business commenced, the first thing done was to dig up with a spade a sufficient quantity of the surface, a peaty substance, to form the walls of the kiln, which are built according to the size that may be wanted. A part of the surface is also dug and laid up, in separate spadefuls, to dry, to be afterwards mixed with the subsoil, with a view both to the saving of fuel, and to accelerate the process of ignition. After this, the subsoil is dug up and likewise laid into separate spadefuls to dry, when it is carried forward to the burning kiln, and laid on as occasion may require. When the kilns are burnt out, the ashes are still paler than the original materials, and are generally in a powdery state, or easily rendered so by a slight stroke with the shovel, either when filling into the cart or when they are spreading upon the ground. All the turnips sown upon the farm of Snawdon since the kilns were ready, have been dressed with ashes in addition to both dung and lime, with the exception of five or six drills in three or four several places in different fields, so that the value of the ashes may be accurately ascertained. On the 19th of the present month (July), the earliest sown turnip dressed with ashes, at the rate of twenty-five double cartloads per acre, had been thinned out for several days, as well as five experimental drills adjoining, all of which had been sown on the same day. The whole crop looked very promising. But the difference in favour of the ashes was, and is, I understand, to this day most extraordinary. In an experiment by Mr Craig, at Cally, the weight per acre of Swedish turnips, manufactured solely with clay ashes, was 52 tons—six turnips weighed 81 lbs., a single one weighed 15 lbs. 3 oz.”

Mr Hope adds—“It may afford satisfaction to some to learn that a practice about which so much has been said of late, and which to others promises to introduce something like a new era into the art of agriculture, has at last been taken up by one agriculturist, Mr Bogue, who has commenced the process upon his farm of Linplum, where .both soil and climate are very different from those of the farm of Snawdon, and he appears determined to give it every advantage of a fair and extensive trial. Any farmer who wishes to see, not only the process of clay-burning, but likewise the formation of meadow bank middens, by visiting the farm of Snawdon, at the proper season, will have an opportunity of witnessing the operations carried into the most successful practice, and to an extent perhaps hardly to be seen anywhere else in the kingdom.” The experiment of the first year (1815) in paring and burning the soil, was found to be very successful, and led to future operations in after-years, to a large extent on the farm of Snawdon.

Great crops of turnips were raised, which, being eaten on the land with sheep, or consumed with cattle in courts, soon by heavy manuring fertilised the fields to an extraordinary degree. Large crops of oats and barley were raised, and in a good season Snawdon oats frequently gained the prize for seed in Haddington market.

Mr Walker, a good many years after their entry to Snawdon, made over his interest in it to Mr Bogue, who then became sole tenant. It was on the stock fed at Snawdon that Mr Bogue principally depended for the payment of the large outlay. Sheep and cattle were grazed and fed in large numbers. Snawdon fat bullocks became celebrated. On one occasibn an extraordinarily fine animal was sent by Mr Bogue to the Christmas Show at Smithfield, London, and gained the first prize.

A picture of him was published, named the Snawdon Ox.

Mr Bogue was fond of the turf, and in his day bred some first-class horses. One famous chestnut, named the “Champion,” by Stamford, trained by George Dawson of Gullane, and ridden by “Tommie Lye,” A well-known jockey in his day, won the gold cup in Musselburgh, beating Mr Baird’s Pirate, Lord Kelburne’s Lucifer, Clootie, and others. He was also successful at Kelso, Perth, &c. Champion was very popular in East Lothian, and many went to Musselburgh to see him run and win. Scholars of Graham’s and Hardie’s schools played the truant, and got well punished next day with “palmies” and confinement. Mr Bogue also bred another good horse, called “ Snawdon/' which he sold at a high price to the Marquis of Tweeddale.

After Mr Bogue’s death in 1836, his nephew, the late Mr George Hope, of Fentonbarns, acquired a number of his pure bred rams and ewes, and for many years kept up the reputation of the Linplum breed at Fentonbarns.

Mr Bogue was the first agriculturist who had the merit of introducing into East Lothian, to any extent, the practice of turf and clay burning, and of making a large portion of the hills and dales of Snawdon into arable land, thereby increasing the amount of available food for man, sheep, cattle, horse, &c. He was a benefactor, in this sense, by his large outlay, if not to himself latterly, at least to the public and his landlord, who profited by the increased value of his land. Mr Bogue’s energetic example of improving land was followed in the course of years by many of the tenant-farmers in the Lammermuir range of hills and other districts. Mr Bogue was long a leading and well-known man among the agriculturists of East Lothian, very energetic and enterprising, as has been shown in his farming operations at Linplum and Snawdon. A gentleman in his manners, and honourable in his dealings, he always received the utmost respect at meetings of the county courts. He was an active Justice of the Peace and Magistrate, and in the public weekly grain-markets at Haddington, the best known agriculturists of the day gathered round him for counsel and advice. Very few of his type are now to be found in East Lothian. He died 21st September 1836, aged sixty-two, and was buried in the family burying-ground in Haddington churchyard.


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