of which the present small volume consists
have not been written uponany systematic plan. The nucleus of the
whole was a paper read several years ago before an audience of decent
country folks, who, it was thought, might listen with some interest to
matters connected with the social and industrial life of those who had
preceded them, and lived under conditions as to occupation and the daily
round of duty, corresponding as nearly as might be with their own. The
object in view then met with at least the amount of success that had been
expected; and the paper with variationsor rather, perhaps, part of it
with additionswas, at intervals, repeated to other similar audiences. And
thus the essay grew in bulk. The style is admittedly not altogether that
which would have been adopted had publication been in view at the outset,
the paper having been shaped mainly to suit the original purpose for which
the materials were gathered. The sources ci information were
various, and are generally indicated in the text. Of the books chiefly
consulted a list has been in the Appendix (1) in preference to an
excessive multiplication of foot notes. And it occasionally happens
that a statement made, or an opinion
expressed, is the result of a comparison of two or more authorities rather
than the unqualified averment of a single individual.
In acknowledging his obligations to
several friends who have supplied information on particular points, the
author feels it right to say that he has been specially indebted to Mr.
Alexander Cruickshank, M.A., whose unwearied industry in the collection of
facts and statistics is not more marked than his unselfish readiness to
make his stores of knowledge available to others.
The sketch of a twelve oxen plough,
which forms the frontispiece, is from the skilful and accurate pencil of
Mr. Andrew Gibb, F.S.A., Scot.; and was taken from the specimen in
Marischal College Buildings mentioned at page 33. The beam remained entire
at date of drawing; the stilts, &c., had to be somewhat helped out from
the parts of them still extant, and a certain measure of traditional
knowledge. And as the plough is drawn to scale, readers interested in such
matters, and who care to do so, will be able to compare its size and the
proportion of parts with those of the improved plough of the present time.
Electric Scotland Note: There is an identical book under a
different title and author "Notes and Sketches
illustrative of Rural Life in the 18th Century" By Wm. Alexander (1877)
and so far we are unable to identify which is the correct author.
Got this in from John Henderson...
I have all 3 books by William Alexander (1826-1894) as
Notes And Sketches Of Northern Rural Life (Already OCR'd on ES)
Sketches Of Life Among My Ain Folk
WILLIAM ALEXANDER [1826-1894] - Editor of 'The
Aberdeen Free Press'
William was born on the 12th of June, 1826 in Chapel
of Garioch, Aberdeenshire to James Alexander [Farmer] of Chapel of Garioch
and Ann Wilson of Rayn, Aberdeen, and he was christened in Chapel of
Garioch on the 18th of June, 1826.
By April 1841, James and Ann were
farming at Damhead and had nine children there, Margaret 15, William 14,
George 13, James Jnr., 11, Isabella, 8, Helen, 6, Leslie, 4, Jane, 2, and
Henry, 1 Month.
In April 1851, the household of James [A Farmer Of 50
Acres Employing 4 Labourers] and Ann, at Damhead comprised only William,
James Jnr., Isabella, Helen, Jane, Henry, and Mary aged 2. William at this
point was working with his father on the farm.
By April 1861, William, now 34
years old, was living in 7 Charlotte Street, Aberdeen, and he was employed
as a Newspaper Reporter. Living with him there was his sister Helen.
William aged 40 in 1867, and by then a Sub-Editor
of the Aberdeen Free Press, married Anne Allan of Aberdeen (aged 33)
daughter of Shipmaster Robert Allan, at Silver Hills, Stocket Street,
Lower Aberdeen on the 22nd of May of that year.
Marriage Wm Alexander Ann Allan
By April 1871, William had become the Editor of
the Free Press and was living with his wife Anne, and a servant Jessie
Milne, at 19 Watson Street in Old Machar, Aberdeen. In 1881, without any
offspring, they lived with a servant Isabella Gray in 3 Belvidere Street,
Old Machar. By this time William, in addition to his Editorial
responsibilities, had published three books. His first, Johnny Gibb of
Gushetneuk ran to seventeen impressions; and he had followed this success
with two smaller books Notes And Sketches Of Northern Rural Life and
Sketches of Life Among My Ain Folk.
In the April 1891 Census, then 64
years of age, we find him still in 3 Belvidere Street with Anne, but with
his employment listed as Journalist. Perhaps he had retired and was
His death on the 19th of February, 1894 from
pneumonia in 3 Belvidere Street was registered by his brother Henry
Alexander of 10 Westfield Terrace, Aberdeen. William was survived by his
1894 Death William Alexander
The Sketches that compose
this small volume profess to be nothing more than slight studies, in
situ, so to speak, of certain phases of local life, and the "humours"
through which that life finds expression. The characters are, of course,
ideal in one sense (or, say typical), and in another as truly realistic
and close to the actual life as the writer could succeed in making them.
Possibly some will hold the little book to be lacking in loftiness of
sentiment, and refinement in the dramatis personae; but. we must picture
life as we know it. And, after all, who is it that has not, oftener than
he wished, in his experience found loftiness of general sentiment and a
profession of high principles set in the fore front, where the veritable
life was guided by considerations as mean and sordid as well might be.
Better, at any rate, have things in their real and undisguised forms
then; and this merit we claim. Of the various principal figures
introduced we shall only say that we have known them one and all
sufficiently well to be able to present them acting in consistency with
The two short sketches
that come last were published in All the Year Round about five years
ago, and are now reprinted by permission of Charles Dickens, Esq.
This comment system requires
you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an
account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or
Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these
companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All
comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator
has approved your comment.