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A History of our Firm
Appendix IV. The Dunlop Volunteers, 1801


Extract of a letter from Mr. A. Ferguson, dated Dartmoor, 24 November, 1865, to his brother Colonel John Ferguson, Bathurst, New Brunswick.

'I had a long letter from David Wark of which the few lines I have copied and the names on the other side form a part. For a man of four score David still writes a good business hand and tolerably correct letter, but in several instances I can see symptoms of the old man having got hold of him.

There are a few particulars respecting the volunteers which I can furnish you with, and which you may perhaps think worth recording.

The dress: Beginning at the feet—Shoes, black gaiters and white trousers (braces not being then in fashion I remember these had to be extemporised by garters or shreds from the sides of broad cloth), a short narrow-tailed blue coat with tight sleeves and gilt buttons, some brass or gold lace about the lapels and sleeves, a frilled shirt, and the usual black hat with a strip of patent leather about an inch wide stitched on one side of the hat from the crown to the brim, between which and the hat the whalebone shank of the cockade was stuck, and was unshipped if the hat was required when off duty. The cockade was at least a foot or fourteen inches above the hat, made from a cock's white neck feathers with about two inches at the bottom dyed red. I can remember at one time our father's feathers required repairing, and the rooster, although he protested loudly against it, was laid under contribution for materials to supply what was wanted.

The names on the other side were sent me by David Wark. I wrote him making enquiry and telling him that you were now in the military line.

The following is in an extract from his letter dated 16 October, 1865 :-

"On receipt of your letter I made out a list at random, as the names occurred to me, of all my old fellow soldiers, beginning at the city and going round with the sun, but have put off sending the list till now. I have found no reason for altering any, though I may be wrong with one or two. It was rather remarkable how the Company kept together so long considering the dangers they encountered, but where are the brave army now? There only remains John Wylie, Mosside, and your humble servant of the three score invincibles and they on the pension list, disabled and infirm. Along with the list give my compliments to Colonel Ferguson, and tell him to be valiant for his own territory, and not trust too much to the Dunlop Volunteers, as we are getting very selfish in the Old Country now, and allow that God helps those most who help themselves."

I can remember when a child seeing them drilling on the top of Dunlop Hill, and in a field above the Chapel Craigs. I can also well remember being taken by my mother to Dunlop on the 4th June (old King George III's birthday) to see the Volunteers, it being a sort of general holiday always upon that day, as well as upon other particular occasions they used to assemble, and with James Brown and Tom Barr, with fife and drum before, marched in military order to Dunlop House (old Lady Dunlop being their patroness, several of her sons being then fighting in India and the Peninsula), and after going through various evolutions, they fired a few rounds in the old lady's face, who, I have heard say, sat in an upper window waving her handkerchief after each volley. After that they marched to the residence of their Captain, John Brown, of Hill, and from there to the minister's, firing at each place and finishing by firing a few rounds at the Kirk Stile, and by the time that was done it was generally evening, when each took off their different way. A few perhaps might stop and have a gill at the 'Black Bull 'to wash the dust out of their throats, but that was the exception and not the rule. I think about the last public display they made or attempted to make was on the Jubilee as it was called, or the 50th Anniversary of the accession of George III, and if I mistake not it was a wet day and very little was done.'

In a list of 7 officers and 55 privates figure the names of David Wark, and Robert Ferguson my grandfather, both of Oldhall. They all furnished their military dress, arms, and ammunition, and maintained their number without death or desertion for about seven years. I think there was no formal disbanding, but the thing died a natural death.


 


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