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The History of Sanquhar
Chapter XII.—Parochial Economy


Registers

A REGISTER of births and baptisms, and also of marriages, has been kept from the year 1757, bat it is most irregular and imperfect, there being found on the same page a record of events which occurred at wide intervals of time, those of an earlier being entered after those of a later date. Not only has this old register been irregularly kept, but the number of entries is small considering what must have been the birth-rate, on a reasonable calculation, founded on population. The people generally were insensible to the benefits of such a register, and grudged the trifling registration fee of sixpence, and only the more enlightened portion of them took advantage of it. Another influence which prevented it becoming anything like a general parochial register was that of sectarian jealousy. The keeping of this register was instituted by the Rev. Mr Ranken, the parish minister, who, in the article on the parish contributed to Sinclair’s Statistical Account of Scotland, published in 1793, says—“Soon after the ordination of the present incumbent, he desired the schoolmaster to begin a register of births, and proposed, for his encouragement, to collect sixpence from every parent who came to obtain baptism for a child. This being an innovation, the multitude disliked it, on account of the sixpence, and many refused to registrate the names of their children for that reason. But by persevering, and pointing out the propriety of tho plan, those of the Established Church now registrate universally. The Seceders, however, do not insert the names of their children in the public register.” Moved in this way by ecclesiastical bigotry—unwilling to countenance a most desirable reform because it emanated from the kirk minister—the Seceders of that generation entailed upon their descendants a loss and inconvenience they never dreamt of. They felt doubtless that faithfulness to their principles demanded that they should thus “ lift up their testimony.” The register contains one name which, for length, rivals that of the most illustrious princess. It runs thus—Caroline Amelia Eleanora Frances Culy Ferguson Gibson Tomlinson Thomson. The opportunity that was given at the passing of the Act for the Compulsory Registration of Births, &c., to supply omissions in the old register was largely taken advantage of, and many pages were filled at that time, before the book was closed, with whole families, not one of whose births had been recorded, shewing the gross carelessness in this matter that had prevailed.

The population of the parish was, in—

1755 ...

 

 

 

1998

1786 ...

 

 

 

2600

1800 ...

 

 

 

2350

IS11 ...

 

 

 

2709

1821 ...

 

 

 

3026

1831 ...

 

 

 

326S

1841 ...

 

 

 

1851 ...

Burgh.

Landward.

Wanlockhead.

Total.

1861 ...

... 2074

6S5

Sll

3570

1871 ...

... 1576

625

837

3038

1S81 ...

... 1599

656

854

3109

.1S91 ...

... 1574

591

745

2910

Under the Registration Act of 1854, Wanlockhead was created a separate registration district. The following statistics refer to the district of Sanquhar, and are based on an average of the last ten years :—

The average number of births is 59.8, being at the rate of 26.8 per thousand of the population, the average of Scotland being 29. Of these 10.4 per cent, are illegitimate, the average of Scotland being 7.5. Sanquhar has thus to bear its own share of the evil repute of the south-western division in connection with this national vice.

The total number of deaths was 424, or an average of 42‘4 per annum. Of these, 85 died under 10 years of age, 28 between 10 and 20, 25 between 20 and 30, 29 between 30 and 40, 30 between 40 and 50, 36 between 50 and 60, 54 between 60 and 70, 83 between 70 and 80, 48' between 80 and 90, 4 between 90 and 100, while two centenarians died, the one at the age of 100|, and the other at 101 ; so that, on an average, of every 3 persons born in the parish 1 will die before 30, another between 30 and 70, and the third will exceed the allotted span of three-score-and-ten. The average age of the whole was 46J years.

The average number of marriages was 12.

The number of inhabited houses in 1841 was 575, and in 1891, 499.

Education.—The first Statistical Account, speaking of the educational provisions here in 1793, says—“ There is an established public school in the town of Sanquhar, and, which is a singular felicity, furnished with an excellent teacher, well qualified in every respect to instruct the youth in the art of penmanship, arithmetic, and all the necessary branches of classical education. The salary and other emoluments amount to about £40 per annum. Writing and arithmetic are taught at 2s, and Latin and Greek at 2s 6d per quarter. The character and abilities of the teacher render Sanquhar an eligible spot for the education of those who are destined to fill the higher ranks of life. There are at a medium about 60 scholars at the school.”

It is evident that, although the fees were so low, the scholars consisted exclusively of the children of the well-to-do people; whatever ambition in this direction working people may have had was effectually kept in check by their extremely small wages.

Almost nowhere in Scotland has better provision been made in recent times for the education of children than in this parish. The parish school was supplemented by private adventure schools, held in a room of the Town Hall, the free use of which was given for this purpose by the Town Council “as an encouragement to teachers to settle in the town.” A reference to the municipal chapter will shew that in other ways the Council evinced their interest in the cause of education by providing for the free education of poor children ; but the principal aid given in this direction was derived under the will of the late Mrs Crichton of Friars’ Carse, who died in 1838, and left a large sum of money for the building and endowment of a school in Sanquhar, to be called the Crichton School. Provision was made for the free education of 20 poor children, and for a farther number being taught at half-fees. The first teacher was Mr Josiah Lorimer, who at the time had a private adventure school in the town. He was succeeded by Mr James Laurie, who retired in 1879, and was followed by Mr R. W. Carson. These were the educational provisions in existence at the passing of the Education Act in 1872. The Parish School was, of course, transferred from the management of the Heritors to the School Board, but the Crichton School continued to be managed by the Governors constituted under the Trust. The Parish School buildings consisted of a two-storey block in Queensberry Square, with the Square as the play-ground. The ground-storey was occupied as the school, the upper storey being the schoolmaster’s house. Neither in accommodation nor equipment, however, did it meet the requirements of the Education Department, and the School Board had the house gutted, the schoolmaster being provided with a residence elsewhere. The floor was taken out, and the whole converted into one room, with a ceiling the whole height of the house. A large wing was built to the back, with offices, sheds, &c., and the whole class-rooms fitted with the most approved furniture, thus converting the establishment into one of the finest of the kind in the county.

In process of time, the Crichton School came to be dealt with by the Commissioners appointed under the Educational Endowments Act of 1883, and in the year 1885 a scheme was drawn up by the Commissioners, of which the following were the chief points :—1. The Governing Body was made to consist of five persons—one nominated by the Duke of Buccleuch, one by the Presbytery of Penpont, two by the School Board, and one by the Town Council of Sanquhar. 2. The Governors were directed to close the school, and to sell or let the buildings. 3. The sum of £10 was set aside annually for paying the school fees of poor and deserving children, with books and stationery, the scholarships to be awarded by competitive examination ; or as a reward for regularity of attendance, industry, general merit, and good conduct Two Bursaries, to be called “The Crichton School Bursaries,” of the yearly value of not less than £5, nor more than £10, were established, which should be open to competition by scholars attending any public or state-aided school in the parish, and to be tenable for two years. 4. The remaining free income was to be paid over to the School Board, on condition that the Board undertook the following obligations, viz.:—(a) To provide a sufficient salary to the head teacher of a school in Sanquhar, who should be a graduate of some University of the United Kingdom, the salary to be not less than the sum paid to the head-master of the parish school; (b) To give free education to five scholars who had passed the Fifth Standard, said free education to continue for three years.

The School Board accepted under the conditions, and at once arranged to reorganise the school, so as to effectually carry out the intention of the Commissioners—that is, to promote higher education. They arranged to take on lease from the Crichton Governors their premises, both school and schoolmaster’s house. They resolved to constitute a graded school of two departments—Standards V. and VI. and the higher branches being taught in the Crichton School, and the Infants and Standards I. to IV. at the Parish School. The former schoolmaster was continued head-master of the elementary department. The Board, having regard to the excellent work done by the master of the Crichton School, in the higher as well as the lower branches, applied for a relaxation of the condition requiring that the teacher of the higher department should be a University graduate, and proposed the alternative qualification of “a teacher of seven years’ standing, of whose qualifications to teach the higher branches the Board are satisfied.” The point was conceded by the Commissioners, and Mr Carson was thereupon unanimously appointed. The staff of the school was fixed at—Two headmasters, two male and one female certificated assistants, a sewing-mistress, and two pupil teachers. By offering a high salary, and taking special care in the selection of an assistant for the senior department, the School Board shewed their interest in the higher education. The present assistant, Mr Templeton, conducts science classes in the afternoon and evening, and the results have been of the most satisfactory kind, no failures having ever occurred at the annual examinations under the Science and Art Department, and the average quality of the passes is much above that of the whole country. The School is also a Centre for St. Andrews University Local Examinations, and the students, taught by the head-master, have taken a high place in the list. Recently an Infant Department has been constituted, where Musical Drill and Kindergarten Work are being taught in such a manner as to have earned the high commendation of H. M. Inspector. Sanquhar has long enjoyed the advantage of efficient teachers, and in few parishes, it may be safely affirmed, has the School Board pursued a more liberal and enlightened policy. No fees are now charged except for the specific subjects. Salaries—The two head-masters, £200 each; the two male assistants, £100 and £90; the infant mistress, £60 ; and the sewing-mistress, £30.

There are also schools maintained by the Duke of Buccleuch at Wanlockhead for the families of the miners, and at Mennock Bridge, both of which are under Government inspection ; and in order to meet the necessities of the families in Euchanhead district, the School Boards of Sanquhar, Kirkconnel, and New Cumnock combine in the maintenance of a teacher there ; while, in other cases, grants are made to individual shepherds to enable them to board their children during winter within walking distance of a school. The following is the latest return of these schools :—

For many years Sanquhar possessed the double advantage of having both the schools—the Parochial and the Crichton —taught by notable examples of the old type of teacher, Mr James Orr at the former and Mr James Laurie at the latter, to whose exceptional powers of teaching many of their scholars, who have risen to eminence in all parts of the world, and in various spheres of life, bear grateful testimony. They led laborious lives, and the amount of work they went through was astonishing. Mr Orr, a native of Ayrshire, was appointed to the parish school in 1842, in succession to Mr Henderson, a famous Latin scholar, whose portrait in oil, presented to him by his pupils, adorns the walls of the school. The new teacher soon showed that he was destined to make his mark in his profession. An excellent scholar, he was likewise possessed of the qualities necessary to success in teaching—a broad grasp of principles, a clear, lucid style of exposition, a steady, persistent application of the best teaching methods, and—he ruled his scholars with a firm hand. This last was specially needful, where no less than from 150 to 170 boys and girls were crowded together into a room 45 by 27 feet, the greater number sitting on high benches without backs. The fame of the Sanquhar “Academy,” as it was called, spread far and wide, and attracted to it scholars from a great distance. Some of these boarded with the master. The training and oversight of these boarders was an addition to his daily labours, which might well have been spared, but he was tempted to thus overburden himself in order that he might eke out an otherwise slender income. The authority which he exercised over his scholars within doors was also felt outside and beyond school hours. He was seldom seen in the town iu the evening, but sometimes he did walk down the “crown of the causeway’ when the children were all at play. The first boy or girl who espied him as he carne round the turn at the Council House called out to his companion in tones of fear and reverence, “Here’s the maister,” whereupon they disappeared in haste within doors or up closes. The word was passed from group to group all down the long street, with the result that their games were instantly abandoned ; the merry voices which a moment before filled the air were hushed, and the street was silent and deserted. When an interval had elapsed, sufficient to allow him to pass, young faces might be seen peeping round this corner and that, and so soon as his figure had disappeared, the crowds of boys and girls returned to their games, and the shouting and merriment went on as before. Were the conclusion to be drawn from this behaviour that his scholars regarded him with a feeling of terror and aversion, nothing could be further from the truth. Their true feeling towards him was that of deep reverence—a feeling constantly cherished by youngsters to one who both teaches and rules them well ; they knew—for they had frequent proof of the fact—that their old master had a kindly heart, and, young though they were, they seemed to understand that the strict discipline which he maintained was necessary and indispensable. On certain occasions this stern rule was relaxed. This was done, not in a hesitating, half-hearted fashion, but freely and ungrudgingly, and then the true kindliness of the man, and his attachment and even affection for his boys and girls, were abundantly displayed. Nothing delighted him more than to be able to arrange for their attending one of the big “shows” that travelled the country, or sharing in whatever special amusements might occur at intervals. One particular occasion of this kind— that which was the great school festival of the year—was the celebration of “Candlemas Bleeze,” on the 2nd day of February. On that day there were no lessons. Each scholar came, dressed in his best suit, one of the pockets of which contained a sum of money, greater or less according to his parents’ means, to be offered as a Candlemas gift to the teacher. The possession, though only for an hour, of a silver coin inspired each one with a feeling of self-importance. It was taken out time after time on the way to school, examined minutely, and thrust back again into the pocket. Each scholar, as he entered, passed up to the desk and deposited his gift in the master’s hand, who, of course, looked pleased and grateful whether it was great or small. When all had entered and had passed the desk the announcement was made who were King and Queen, a distinction bestowed on the boy and girl respectively who had made the largest gift. Two chairs, brought downstairs from the master’s dining-room, had been placed in the middle of the room. To these the fortunate pair were conducted, and thereon they were enthroned. The whole school crowded round and signified their approval by hurrahing and clapping their hands in a boisterous manner. The only exception might be the disappointed aspirants, who had missed the coveted position when they thought it within their reach, but they, notwithstanding the momentary pang of disappointment, were carried away with the tide of popular feeling, and, like the others, saluted their rightful king and queen in a loyal and becoming manner. The ceremony was soon over, and it was followed by a distribution of oranges and long snaps, specially made by the baker, and called “parleys.” At one time the coronation was followed by the royal pair being carried upstairs in their chairs to a banquet, which consisted of a glass of weak whisky-toddy, the master and the bearers being the only witnesses present at this high state function, the former acting as cup-bearer and the latter standing behind the chairs, the whole party inspired with a solemn joy. That part of the programme was, however, in later years omitted. Nothing remained to be done but to proclaim a holiday for the remainder of the day, whereupon a rush was made for the door, and all scampered off, but before they reached home both oranges and parleys had disappeared.

At other times, too, it happened that an unwonted scene of excitement and merriment occurred within the school-The master had a strong vein of humour in him, and this led sometimes to his inflicting punishment upon a “mis-behaver” in a form which led to the demoralisation of the school to such an extent that “the game of law and order was up,” so far as the remainder of that day was concerned. Causing the delinquent to mount the back of another boy, who was made to carry him round and round the room, the master followed, armed with the instrument of punishment, a thick cane, which he vigorously plied. It was observed that the boy chosen to carry the offender was one whom the master strongly suspected of mischief, but had been unable to detect in the act, and, as he took care that the strokes were pretty impartially divided between the hips of the rider and the legs of his bearer, he so contrived that the evil doings of the latter should not lose their reward. The march, under the quickening influence of the cane, developed into a run, and the spectacle of the panting fugitives, as they made their hurried flight pursued by the avenger of the law, was one which tickled the fancy of the school, and produced roars of laughter, to which even the master in the end gave himself up. It was, however, no laughing matter for the unhappy pair, but this was reserved for cases of exceptionally bad conduct, and, both by reason of the thorough thrashing which they received, and the shame pf being made a laughing-stock to their whole schoolfellows, it exercised a deterrent effect on the worst forms of misconduct.

Another example of a similar kind may be given which illustrates the same traits of the master’s character and temper. A Latin class which had not their lessons well prepared were “kept in” after school-hours, while the master went up stairs for tea. After waiting a long time, with no appearance of the latter returning to liberate them, they held a council of war to consider what measures could be taken to remind him of their presence, which he had manifestly altogether forgotten. The means agreed upon was certainly very effectual, and, knowing the man with whom they had to deal, they first bound themselves in a conspiracy of silence. Whatever might happen not a word was to be spoken. It was agreed that one should go to the door at the foot of the stair, open it, and there remain on sentry to listen for the first footstep of the master overhead. So soon as he was posted, another member of the class proceeded to the desk, which he opened, and seized the handle of the bell by both hands, which he then rung in a furious manner. No sooner had the ringing begun than the master was heard rushing along the lobby upstairs. The sentry shut the door, the bell was replaced in the desk, the whole class resumed their places in a row, book iu hand, and apparently absorbed in study. A moment or two, and the storm burst upon them. Swinging the door wide open, the master sped swiftly across the floor, and took up a position in front of the class. His whole frame quivering, and his voice hoarse with passion— “Who has had the audacity to ring my bell?” he demanded. No answer. “Was it you?” he asked the first boy. No answer. And so, down through the whole class, but all, true to their word, remained silent, though terrified at the effects of their “audacity.” The master seemed the very embodiment of the indignation of outraged authority. Such an act of flagrant insubordination he had never dreamt of, but, bad though it was, this conspiracy to defeat the ends of justice was if possible worse. Repressing his rage, he too was silent for a few' moments, while the poor delinquents positively shook with fear; then, in tones which indicated that a sharp retribution of some kind was to follow, he addressed the boy next him—“James, stand; take the end of this seat,” the other end of which he had meanwhile seized. It was earned to an open space on the floor. The same was done with another seat and with a third, the three being placed parallel to each other at an interval of a yard or so between each. “Stand,” he then called to the whole class, in a very determined voice. The boys stood, and were then directed to place themselves in Indian file behind the row of seats. Their curiosity regarding the arrangements and what was to follow, had made them temporarily forget their fears, but they were not long left in doubt, for the master, stripping his coat, stepped to the desk, from which he took the cane, and, having placed himself at the end of the seats, he buckled back his sleeves, and planted himself firmly on his legs. “Now then, come along,” he shouted. “Come along’’ meant springing over the three seats in succession, a sharp cut from the cane being administered as each spring was made. “Next, next,” he called, till all were over. They stood trying to soothe their injured feelings by the application of their hands to the back of their legs, and congratulating themselves that, though a sharp, it had proved a short punishment, when they heard the call—“Come along, over again.” Over again they went, but more quickly than before, thereby escaping part of the strokes. Round behind the master they ran, and over the seats like a steeplechase, hard after each other. Realising the humour of the situation, in spite of the stinging strokes of the cane, they leapt, and ran, and shouted. Faster and faster they flew till, breathless and exhausted, the master, flinging down the cane and sinking on one of the benches, cried—“Go home, you scoundrels.” They picked up their books, and, as they ran across the square, they heard the peals of laughter with which the old man made the schoolroom ring.

He was a short, stout-built man, and his countenance bore the impress of a kindly nature. His figure, as he sat in his arm-chair, with the short-tailed coat of shepherd-plaid pattern which he constantly wore, his broad black waistcoat and ample expanse of linen, within the creases of which there lay little wreaths of snuff which had slipped from his fingers, and the stiff, black stock and stand-up collar within which his finely-formed head was firmly set, is one which will never fade from the recollection of his scholars wherever they may be. He spoke with pride of his “old boys,” and his old boys will, so long as life lasts, hold him in loving memory, and never forget their obligations to one who gave them so thorough a training for the duties of life.

He died very suddenly on the morning of 25th September, 1861. He had been seen late the night before, apparently cheerful and in good health. Next morning the tidings of his death caused a profound sensation throughout the whole community, and far beyond the limits of the place. His body was borne by eight of his scholars (boys), and both they and the large company assembled were deeply moved as he was laid in the grave. A handsome monument was raised by public subscription and placed over his last resting-place.

In Mr Laurie of the Crichton School, Mr Orr had a worthy coadjutor in the work of public education. Mr Laurie was, like him, a ripe scholar. He had been taught in the Parish School at Burnhead, Dunscore, under a succession of able men—Alexander Ferguson, who was afterwards parochial teacher at Lockerbie; George Ferguson, subsequently Professor of Humanity in St. Andrews University; Alexander Reid, author of “Reid’s Dictionary” and a number of school-books ; and William Moffat, who was translated to Heriot’s School, and again to the High School, Edinburgh. These young men all belonged to the neighbouring parish of Close-burn, and had been trained by Dr Mundell, a great teacher of his day, at Wallace Hall, there. Mr Laurie pursued his literary studies at Edinburgh University, and likewise studied and took his diploma in medicine, after he had received the appointment of teacher in the school where he had been himself taught, under an arrangement whereby he was allowed to put a locum-tenens during his absence. In this remote parish he rendered valuable service by practising as doctor during his leisure hours. On a vacancy occurring in the Crichton School at Sanquhar on the death of Mr Josiah Lorimer, in 1844, Mr Laurie was offered the appointment by Mrs Crichton, the founder of the school, who resided at Friars’ Carse, in Dunscore parish, and knew well his high qualifications. Mr Laurie’s success as a teacher in Sanquhar was likewise conspicuous. In truth, in few towns of the same size could two teachers of such scholarship and ability have been found as he and Mr Orr, and Sanquhar was justly counted particularly fortunate in the matter of education. As in Mr Orr, so in Mr Laurie were found an intellect keen and robust, which had been assiduously cultivated, a singular clearness and power in imparting instruction, and an enthusiasm in his work, together with an authority and influence over his scholars, which made his long professional life one of honour and usefulness. As has been said, he retired in 1879, but, though now burdened with the weight of more than fourscore years, he continues to beguile his leisure hours with classical and mathematical studies, encountering and solving problems in geometry which would baffle younger blit less able men.

Mr Laurie, in addition to his proper work of schoolmaster here also, as previously in Dunscore, rendered public services of some value. His knowledge of the healing art was exercised for the benefit of the poor of the, town, and of these services many a family cherish a grateful recollection. As a mark of public respect, and to perpetuate his memory in the town, the Police Commissioners, at the recent naming of the streets, called the lane which leads to the Crichton School—Laurie’s Wynd.

Poor.—From the following, it will be seen that, when statutory provision was first made for the relief of the poor, the applicants admitted were very numerous, though a considerable number had only small sums allowed to them to pay their house-rents. Before many years, the roll had been reduced to reasonable limits, and a corresponding fall in the rate took place. It has varied very little since, and the number of paupers is smaller now than it has ever been, while the rate of allowance has been increased very materially. The great increase iu agricultural rents that lias taken place within the last thirty years prevented any consequent increase of the rate that might have been necessary, owing to the larger deductions allowed from the gross valuation of lands and heritages in fixing the assessable value. Till recently, these deductions were—On the railway property, 25 per cent.; and on all other classes of property, 10 per cent. Now they are—On railway property, 35 per cent.; house property, factories, &c., 25 per cent.; agricultural lands, woods, shootings, &c., 20 per cent. The enormous advance that has been made during the last hundred years, by the improvement of the land and the general expansion of trade, is seen in the increased value of property. In 1793 the total valuation of the parish, exclusive of the burgh and Wanlockhead, was only £2500 per annum ; in 1890 it amounted to — Burgh, £4043 ; parish, £14,284 ; total, £18,327. The valuation of Wanlockhead is £1768. Grand Total, £20,095.

Lieutenant-General M'Adam, who had been married to a daughter of Rev. Mr Ranken, the minister of Sanquhar, died in the year 1859, and intimation was received from his agents that, by his will, he had directed that the residue of his estate, after providing for certain bequests, should be put into “The Poor’s-box of Sanquhar.” The phrase being a rather ambiguous one, a contention arose between the Parochial Board and the Kirk-Session as to the right of administration, but they wisely, to avoid the expense of litigation in determining the dispute, entered into an arrangement for a joint-administration of the fund by the Kirk-Session and representatives appointed by the Parochial Board, the Moderator of the Session and the Chairman of the Board being the Chairman of the Trust in alternate years. The bequest amounted to £350, the interest of which is distributed annually among the deserving poor, whether paupers or not.

The natural tendency of a statutory relief of the poor is to dry up the springs of private charity ; notwithstanding, there is a good deal of seasonable benevolence shewn by wealthy people in the district and by Sanquharians abroad • and a long-standing and commendable custom among the curlers is, during a protracted frost, to play matches for gifts —oatmeal, potatoes, bread, tea — for the poor. During one of the severe winters of recent years no less than 400 stones of oatmeal, and a large quantity of other commodities, were bestowed upon the poor from this source. Further, each congregation makes an annual collection for behoof of its own poor.

Library.—A good subscription library has been in existence since the year 1800. It is accommodated, free of rent, in the Council Chamber. It contains 2800 volumes, representing the whole field of literature, and additions are constantly being made to the shelves. Meetings are held once a week for the exchange of books. The annual subscription is 4s.

Savings Bank.—A savings bank for Sanquhar and the surrounding district was established in the year 1818. The amount of deposits was as follows :—1840, £5000; 1851, £5732; 1861, £6803; 1870, £10,151; 1880, £16,557; 1890, £18,895. Number of depositors at this date, 530. These figures bear testimony to the prudent and thrifty habits of many of the inhabitants. Till the year 1860, the progress was rather slow, owing to the decaying condition of the weaving trade, and the closing of the carpet work at Crawick Mill ; but, from that time, as a result of the high tide of agricultural prosperity, and the rapid rise of wages generally, the progress of the bank has been by leaps and bounds, and now it will bear comparison with almost any institution of the kind in the country. The sum of £10,700 is invested in land and other securities, and the balance lodged with the British Linen Company Bank. The rate of interest is generally about one per cent, above that allowed in the public banks.

A Choral Union was instituted in 1889, and is composed of about fifty voices. The two past sessions were each brought to a close with a very successful concert, and the Society promises to do something to raise the tone of musical culture in the town.

The revenue of Sanquhar Post Office in 1793 was £112. In 1890 (from stamps alone) it amounted to £724 6s 4d.

Social Economics.—The general condition of the population has, in common with other parts of the country, experienced a wonderful improvement during the course of the present century. This amelioration had, indeed, already commenced towards the end of the previous century, for, in the article on the parish in Sinclair’s “Statistical Account” we have the following report on wages:—“Men servants about 1760, £2 10s per annum, and £3 was the maximum. Female servants, £1 15s and £1 10s per annum. Now (1793), the former are from £7 to £8 and £9, the latter from £3 to £4 per annum. The wages of handicraftsmen of every description are likewise increased in the same proportion.” These figures give the reader a vivid conception of the grinding poverty of the working classes in that age. It becomes a subject of wonder to the present generation that they managed to keep body and soul together. Their food must have been both coarse and scanty, and, housed as they were in low-roofed, ill-ventilated hovels, their lives must have been miserable in the extreme. And yet, we find their parish minister remarking in the following terms on the improvement in their condition they had begun to experience:— “If the wages of servants ought to keep pace with the influx of wealth, the improvement of land, and the introduction of manufactures, a principle which seems founded in reason and equity, and if the influx of wealth depends in a great measure on the improvement of land and the flourishing state of manufactures, there is no just proportion between the wages of servants and these two sources of wealth: the former having risen to an enormous pitch, while the latter are only in a state of infancy. Admitting the principle, however, on the ground of equity that servants’ wages ought to rise in proportion to the wealth of a country, the same principle ought certainly to extend universally to all other descriptions of men in the various departments of life. This appears necessary to the very existence and preservation of civil society, that the various orders of men may not jostle each other, but keep their proper ranks.”

One is amused with the writer’s crude notions of the principles of political economy, and the confusion into which he falls in seeking to give them expression; but not less is one moved with a feeling of indignant surprise that he should shew so little sympathy with the betterment of at least the material condition of his flock. It is evident that the question is in his mind one of “the masses against the classes.” He is fearful lest the broad distinction between the two should be lessened in the smallest degree—anxious “ that the various orders of men may not jostle each other, but keep their proper ranks that is to say, that the poor may not, on the ground of their elevation in the social scale, rebel against the subserviency imposed upon them by long-established custom, but continue dutifully submissive to the wealthy and governing classes. A form of advice this which came with rather a bad grace from the lips of one who enjoyed an income of £105, together with a very fine glebe of 20 acres of the very fat of the land—a comfortable provision in times when beef and mutton sold at 3d and 3½d per lb., and eggs at 2id to 3|d per dozen. He thus looks with a jealous eye on his parishioners, notwithstanding that he feels constrained to acknowledge that “they are, with a few exceptions which are to be found in every age and in every society, an industrious, rational, and religious set of people, regular in attendance upon divine ordinances, and pay a proper regard to the duties of social life. It must be acknowledged that the frequent collision of political influence in the burgh is an enemy to their peace, and tends to relax every social, moral, and religious obligation, and as these are relaxed corruption spreads its baneful influence. No doubt the substitution of dram instead of ale-houses has the same pernicious tendency. But, upon the whole, their character is respectable, hospitable to strangers, humane to the distressed, active in their station, decent in their apparel, and generally contented with the allotments of providence. Agriculture, and especially the pastoral life, are favourable to that integrity and simplicity of manners which characterise them.”


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