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Oor Ain Folk
Being memories of Manse Life in the Mearns and a Crack aboot old times by James Inglis (1894) at
Edzell, Forfarshire


I dedicate this book to my eldest surviving brother',
at whose suggestion I first conceived the idea of writing
such a record, and who has been ever a loyal, loving, and
true-hearted brother to me.


' Let brotherly love continue'

There's kintra fowk, an' Hielant fowk;
La'land fowk, an' kent fowk;
Fowk aboot, fowk i' the yaird;
But there's nae fowk like
Oor ain Fowk!

Auld Sang.


I little thought when I began my filial task, that I would ever be privileged to again visit the old glen and village, and see the old manse on 'the Braes o' Angus.' Still less did I anticipate such a compliment from the public as the demand for a new edition almost within a month of the publication of the book; yet, such a good fortune has befallen me, and I am very grateful. I am indeed conscious that my critics have been 'more than kind/ It was only to be expected that my boyish recollections of more than thirty years ago would be in some respects inaccurate, but I am pleased to find that my mistakes as to facts have been so few, and in the present edition I think the main portion of these has been corrected. As to errors of style, I doubt I am too old now to make much improvement; and as to matters of opinion expressed in the book, I have seen no reason, so far at any rate, for me to give up my own.

I have received letters from all parts of the country —from university professors, bankers, ministers, elders, 'Kintra fouk,' 'Hielant fouk' 'Laland fouk,' and 'Kent fouk'—and all have alike been complimentary and appreciative. Indeed I have much reason to be especially grateful and proud that the memory of my dear father and mother is still so honourably and affectionately treasured by a far wider circle of 'oor ain fouk,' using the phrase in its larger significance, than ever I imagined possible.

I have also received many very curious and humorous contributions to the rural records of the time of which my book mainly treats. For these I am grateful, and will be glad to get more of the same sort. I will find a good use for them in my next book, which I am now more than ever encouraged to produce. One correspondent, for instance, has reminded me of a good story of 'Painter Tarn' mentioned at page 159, which I cannot withhold. Tarn, it seems, was one day accosted by a hulking fellow, very pitted from smallpox, and who fancied himself a great wit 'The lads' had been tormenting Tarn, and making fun of his pretensions as a portrait-painter. So up lumbered this fellow, and boisterously asked 'What it would cost to have his portrait painted'? 'Pent you?' stuttered Tarn quizzically regarding the pock-pitted features, ' P-p-pent you? Lo'd, min, I wad hae t-t-tae p-p-potty ye first' (putty).

I acknowledge with deep gratitude the many friendly, indeed flattering, reviews the book has received from my brethren of the press, and I am very gratefully conscious of the kind offices and friendly regard of my good counsellor and publisher. 'May ilka guid attend him,' an' lang may the fine old homely virtues, which I have feebly perhaps, but faithfully I hope, endeavoured to portray in these pages, be found flourishing among, and characteristic of, 'Oor ain fouk,' all over this ancient realm, ay, 'an' farrer tee,' as the old Deeside wifie would say.

Morley's Hotel, London,
10th April 1894.


I WAS in hopes that this book would have been published about the time of the Disruption Jubilee Celebrations of last year, but when it was nearly finished I met with a sudden and serious accident, which for months compelled me to give up all active mental and physical exertion. My father was one of the heroes of the Disruption movement, and the main motif of this book is to show what he did and suffered in those stirring times 'for conscience' sake,' I have used part of the pamphlet which he himself began to write, but never finished, and which he wished to leave to his sons and friends as a record and vindication of the active part he took in that memorable conflict. Other fragmentary materials have reached me from time to time, from various sources, and I have endeavoured to weave these into a connected and readable narrative; and it appeals primarily to all who, by descent or sympathy, take a personal interest in the history of that splendid struggle for liberty of conscience and freedom of action in regard to church government, which is known as 'The Disruption of 1843.'

I am hopeful, however, that my book may appeal to a wider circle of readers, namely, all who are interested in the old homely rural life of Scotland. I have tried to give glimpses and sketches of many of the quaint customs, the curious oddities of style and dress, the old-fashioned habitudes of thought, and the strongly-marked individualities of the older generation, which are fast vanishing before the breath of so-called modern progress. I humbly trust that my descriptions of the glen, the village, and country town life; the school games and schoolboy rhymes, the rural industries, the queer characters, the humorous episodes, the peculiar institutions, the intellectual and religious outlook of the older generation, etc. etc.,—may interest the general reader, and form an acceptable contribution to the deeply-interesting volume of Scottish history reminiscence and portraiture which has been enriched by such masters of the craft as Gait, Scott, Dean Ramsay, Barrie, Crockett, George MacDonald, and many others.

With such I do not seek to class myself, for I have found the demands of my own large business as a merchant, and my pretty active participation in the public life of Australia, almost more than enough to tax my energy and industry to the full. Indeed, I increasingly find that political and commercial pursuits are becoming more and more incompatible with the exercise of the literary faculty, so that I am keenly conscious of the literary defects of this volume. I have had to work at it amid distractions that at times proved almost overwhelming, and which more than once have forced me to suspend my task altogether.

In sorting my twenty years' collection of materials, I have had to set aside a multitude of stories of Scottish wit and humour, most of which I do not think have ever been printed. This collection is now almost ready for the press, and if the reception given to the present book be as encouraging as I am told by partial friends I may venture to expect, then my original collection of 'Mair Scotch Stories' may shortly be published.

To my genial friend, Professor M'Callum, of Sydney University, I must express my thanks for many a pleasant word of kindly encouragement.

'Craigo,' Strathfield, N.S.W.,
1st July 1893.

Electric Scotland Note: A small biography of the author can be viewed here.


Chapter I
Our Glen: its physical Features—My Grandfather as described in The Land of the Lindsays—My Grandmother—Private Stills—Geordie White and the Gauger—Donal and the Bees— Sandie Christison and the Bapteezin' o' the Bairn.

Chapter II
The Glen Folk: their Characteristics—The Clachan of Tarfside —Primitive Farming—A Fine Peasantry—The Eviction Policy denounced—The Expatriation of the People—Drinking Habits —Excellence of the Whisky—Sandie's Eulogium on his Dram —Turning the Tables on the Minister—'The Beam in the Eye'.

Chapter III
Royal Visitors to 'The Glen'—Jeems Mitchell and the Queen's 'Powney'—The Queen and the Herd Laddie—Jeems and the Duke of Edinburgh—Craig-ma-skeldie—The Loch and its Surroundings—Peat-reek—Char-fishing—The Falls of Unich —Dr. Guthrie and Auld Jannie—A Shepherd's Biblical Criticism—An Anecdote of Dr. Guthrie's.

Chapter IV
The Glen School—The Prevalent Kindly Spirit—Farmhouse Life-Character gauged from a Gastronomic Standpoint—A Stingy Mistress—Jock an' the Cheese—Two Parritch Stories—Outspokenness: Instances—An Interrupted Grace—Jeems Wricht pronounces Doom on Buonaparte—The Minister truly a Representative of the People—Value of Education—A Succession of Clerics—My Father and Uncle: their Boyhood and College Days—Parental Self-Denial—A College Challenge—A Fight and a Duel—A Brawl at Ballater—The Character of the old Manse and Old Minister—An Instance of his Quaint Humour —His Death.

Chapter V
The Disruption of 1843—My Father's Disposition—His Share in the Fight—His Memorials of the Disruption—His Translation to Edzell in 1841—Great Increase of Congregation—Progress of the Controversy—Lord Panmure and Fox Maule—My Father's Estimate of Panmure's Character—'Persecutions for Conscience' Sake'—A Sore Bereavement—His Last Sermon in the Parish Kirk—A Noble Record 'for Conscience Sake'—Old Dr. Grant's Story of 'the Flesh Pots'—The first Free Church Sermon— The Tent in the Wilderness—Increasing Hardships and Difficulties—Fidelity of the Flock—Humour under Privations— Preaching under Difficulties—Hostile Attitude of Opponents — Progress of the Struggle—Once more in a house of his.

Chapter VI
Boyish Recollections of the Disruption Sufferings—Our Village— Willie Carr—The 'Feeing* or 'Term* Market: its Sights and Sounds; its Evil Features—The Minister and the Drover — A Forced Declaration — Encounter with 'Dubrach' at Ballater Fair — My Father's Athletic Prowess — Dared by Geordie to 'Haud the Ploo'—The Result—How he cowed the Captain — Instances of his Strength — His Emotional Nature—An Honest Man!

Chapter VII
Our Village School—The Old - time Dominie—Anecdotes—Our Village Dominies—'Peter Pundwecht'—'Creeshie Pow'— Home Discipline of the old Regime—The Meagre Mental Equipment of our Dominie—Contrast between the Old System and the New—Our School Games and Boyish Toys: 'Bools and Peeries'; Hockey—Curling—'Gowf'—The Teetotum— Jeems Dunn's Letter—Lassies' Games—Quaint Old Rhymes and Customs—The Annual Blanket-washing—A Contrast— Hogmanay—The Shorter Carritches—School-book Rhymes— 'Het Rows an' Butter Baiks'—' Nifferin''—Nursery Rhymes —A Schoolboy Conspiracy and how it ended.

Chapter VIII
Our Village Characters: their Mental Attitude—Village Poet— Specimens of his Muse—Rob Qsall the Flesher—Daft Jamie— Willie Burness—Willie Hood—'Sneeshin' on the Cheap'— Robbie Welsh—Peter McKenzie—Anecdotes.

Chapter IX
Village Occupations—The Handloom Weavers—Merchants and Merchantiee—Various Types—Davit Elshender—A Story of the Egg Market—How Mrs. Paitterson turned the Tables—A Stingy Couple—Taking the Pledge—Strong Language—Story of Rev. Mr. Don—John Buchan's Prayer—A Banquet to the Laird—A Dear Denner—Effects of Mixing Drinks—Drinking Habits of the Time

Chapter X
My Mother's Folk—Montrose Skippers and the Baltic Trade— Presents from Abroad—A Partial Eclipse—The Homespun Era —Basket Mary—A Rigorous Caste System—'Tea-pairties'—Wullie D-----'s Hoose-warming—A Sma' Gless—A Heartless Drucken Husband—Painter Tarn—Anecdotes.

Chapter XI
Local Jealousies between County Towns—Curious Nicknames-Aspersions on Brechin—Origin of the Term 'Reed Lichties' —A Sapient Toon Cooncil—Blin' Hughie o' Dundee—The 'Spooters' o' Farfar—Celebrities—Singer Jeemer—Peter Reid and the famous ' Farfar Rock'—The Drawl of the Mearns— Primitive Social Manners—'No the Whisky but the Here's t'ye!'—The Handloom Industry—Weavers' Rhymes—Bailie F------ and the Auctioneer—A Vanishing Bottle—Drinking Orgies and Wild Wagers — Amusing Instance of Local Jealousy.

Chapter XII
Kirks—Ministers and Sermons—The Minister's Place in the Social and Intellectual Life of the People—Sermon Evolution—Tendency to become commonplace—A rather Exaggerated Parody —Impromptu on a 'Dreich' Preacher—Frank Self-criticism— The Brechin Beadle—The Collections and Plate at the Door— Candles—Peppermints—Anecdotes of Dr. Foote—An Outside View of the Subject—'Great Preevileges' o' the Auld Saints —Literalism of the old Bible Critics—Rendering Scripture History realistically — Humorous Instances — Aubraham's Bosom—Pawky Estimate of King David's Character—'The Scarlet Woman'.

Chapter XIII
The Old Gloomy Theology—Dawn of a Brighter Faith—The Two Schools illustrated by Anecdote—Growing Tolerance of Scottish Clergy—Instances of the Old Intolerance—Weariness of Church Services—Anecdote of Dr. Kidd—'Making the best of both Worlds'—'Willie White an* how he cheated the Craws'—Sleeping Acquaintance—Length of Prayers—'Ma ain Bairn'—'Lat the Jews alane'—Old John Aitken the Beadle —'Resist a' Improvements'—Some Beadle Stories—Anecdotes —An Eccentric Minister—Plain Criticism—Estimate of my Father's Preaching—Examples of 'Exotic' Scottish Humour.

Chapter XIV
The Sturdy, Self-reliant Spirit of the Older Generation contrasted with Modern Querulousness—An Unpromising Farm—Geordie Ferrier, the Minister's Man—Co-operative Farming Fifty Years ago—A Farmer-Minister—Geordie's Peculiarities—The Drucken Barber and the Minister—Wattie Dunlop and the Barber—My Father's Fairness—A Grannie's Benediction— My Father's Strong Common-sense—A Disconcerted Fop— Characteristics of my Father and Mother—A Standing Joke— My Mother's Deep Piety and Keen Wit—Her Belief in Direct Answer to Prayer—An Authentic Instance—Her Earnestness and Humour—Her Sense of Duty—Contempt of Meanness— Quaint Criticism on Preaching—Her Farewell Charge to me.

Chapter XV
A Hard-worked Minister—Vigorous of Mind and Body—Details of his Life and Character—Notes by my Brother George—The Manse Garden—Methodical Habits—Love of Children—Care for the Servants—Domestic Daily Routine—Fondness for a Joke—Some of his Stories—A Thievish Urchin—The Imperturbable Trespasser—Pat's Witty Answer—Habits in the Pulpit—His Favourites in History—Gentleness and Sweetness of Disposition—Private Devotion—Anecdotes of Dr. Cruden —Summary of the Old Minister's Character.

Chapter XVI
'Oor ain Laddies'—What to do with the Boys—David the Boat-builder—An Eventful Career—Alexander the Merchant—An Early Start—Long Hours and Hard Work—A Swarm from the Parent Hive—The Merchant's Distinguished Career: his Character—Robert the Financier—Connection with the Volunteer Movement —My own Career—The Supposed 'Black Sheep'—Tom the Planter: a Cannie, Couthie Bachelor— John the Stadent: his Brilliant Promise and Early Lamented Death—Willie the Banker: his Early Death—George the Minister—Henry 'the Shargar o' the Klekin'—A Typical Family—Colonising Tendencies of the Race—The Old Folks' Letters—Unique Circular Notes—Strange Use for a Tract.

Chapter XVII
Declining Years—Increasing Infirmities—An Assistant and Successor appointed—The Last Sermon—Closing Scenes—His Strong Faith—Considerate to the Last—A Noble Dying Testimony—The End: 'Peace'.

The Humour of the Scot
In this book the author mentions he'd like to write a book about Scottish humour. This is the book which I came across later so thought I'd add it here for you to read. This is a link to the pdf file of the book and you might consider right clicking on the link and downloading it to your computer and in that way you can dip into it as you have the time.

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