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24th October 2008

Alastair McIntyreElectric Scotland's Weekly Email Newsletter

Electric Scotland - The No.1 Scottish History Site Aois - The Celtic Community
The Electric Scotland Article Service

Dear Friend

It's your Electric Scotland newsletter meaning the weekend is nearly here :-)

You can view what's new this week on Electric Scotland at and you can unsubscribe to this newsletter by clicking on the link at the foot of this newsletter.

See our Calendar of Scottish Events around the world at

Electric Scotland News
The Flag in the Wind
The Scottish Nation
Poetry and Stories
New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
Book of Scottish Story
History of Glasgow
The Scottish Historical Review
The Sea of Galilee Mission of the Free Church of Scotland
The Pioneers of Old Ontario
John Witherspoon (New Book)
Report on the Agriculture of Perthshire
Report on the Dietaries of Scotch Agricultural Labourers
Rob Donn MacKay (New Book)
On the Growth and Cultivation of Willows in Scotland

The final reminder that our service is moving from Kentucky to Michigan on Sunday 26th October around lunch time through to Monday morning 27th October so the site will be down during that time. This also includes our email service although you can still get to me on my alternative email address at

I will also be away in Chicago Friday 24th October returning on Sunday night 26th October at the Scottish North American Leadership Conference.


Last week I told you of a map of Canada I got showing how the European countries fitted into it. I was kindly sent in a map of Australia showing the same for which my many thanks :-) You can see this at


Our new site search engine is now in place at long last. The basics are now there but still some tweaking to do. One of the things you can do with it are to use wildcards. And so if you were searching for MacIntyre you could type in M*Intyre and that would also find MacIntyre, McIntyre and M'Intyre. We've currently indexed all htm, html and txt files on the system.

We will get to the pdf files soon but as we store pdf files on the system for reference we are re-organising things so that only the pdf files that are available via the site are indexed.

Do let us know what you think of this new search facility.


As I like to keep you in touch with developments on Electric Scotland I thought I would mention that I'm trying to get the Scottish Government to do some educational advertising with me. As I usually don't get anywhere with these things with Scotland I'm also talking to various other countries. The point of these educational adverts is to help educate folk on the countries where Scots settled in large numbers or have a very special relationship with.

I designed a web page for a sales pitch for Scotland and produced a wee video. Should you be interested in what I am trying to do you can view this at 

I've never seen myself as someone that is good at these types of things but figured nothing ventured nothing gained.

I'm in discussions with a couple of Canadian provinces and a couple of US States as well as New Zealand and Northern Ireland.

Whether anything will come of this is of course another matter but thought I'd have a go. And I am always open to advice so if any of you are marketing folk and have ideas on how I could do a better job feel free to offer your advice :-)


Also got in a request which some of you might help with...

The Discovery Channel just started a new show called "Time Warp". On it, they investigate and film tons of different subjects. I posted the Scottish Highland Games Heavy Athletics in the hopes that they would feature our sport on their show. But, votes must be cast on their website. Most posts get VERY FEW votes! We have a perfect chance here to kick the door open and get some great exposure! This could be just the beginning for the revival we need. Here is the web address for the 'Time Warp' forum.

Just look in the upper left area after finding the post titled: Scottish Highland games Heavy Athletics - 8 mandatory events. Just click on the "Rate It" link to post your vote.


I've added a wee section to our Books Index Page where towards the top you'll find
"Books in our Electric Scotland Article Service" and under that you'll find links to...

Book Authors
Book Reviews
SF & Fantasy Books

Essentially authors or others can add their own articles to this service and so these links will now take you to these sections of our Article Service. I might add that there is only 1 article in each section but hopefully as this gets discovered more articles will appear.

The url is

Some of the stories in here are just parts of a larger story so do check out the site for the full versions. You can always find the link in our "What's New" section at the link at the top of this newsletter or on our site menu.

This weeks Flag is compiled by Richard Thomson.

I might add that the Flag have added new books and reduced prices on others in their shopping mall which you can view at 

In Peter's cultural section he's telling us about bagpipes...

One aspect of Scottish life known the world over must be the playing of bagpipes. Now, bagpipes are not unique to Scotland, eg they were played by the early Persians, indeed, the first mention of bagpipes in Scotland is reputed to come from the reign of James IV ( 1473 - 1513 ) and the pipers were neither Highlanders nor Lowlanders - but Englishmen! But we can extol the uniqueness of the Great Highland War Pipes, as the tradition arose in Scotland of the use of bagpipes to act not only as a Gathering Call to the Clans, but as an encouragement to Highlanders in battle. Little wonder that the Great Highland War pipe was banned as an 'instrument of war' following the 1745 Jacobite Rising.

The classical music of the Highland Bagpipe is called Piobaireachd ( pibroch ) and the piping and compositional skills involved were traditionally passed down in families. Chief amongst the piping families were the Mckays of Raasay and Gairloch, the MacDonalds, the MacArthurs, the MacDougalls, the MacIntyres and, perhaps, the the most famous family of them all - the MacCrimmons of Skye.

The MacCrimmons, hereditary pipers to MacLeod of Dunvegan, were leading pipers and piping teachers throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. It is known that Donald Mor MacCrimmon, born about 1570, was hereditary piper to MacLeod, and on his death in 1640 he was succeeded by his son Padruig Mor, and then by his grandson Padruig Og who died after 1730. Padruig Og seems to have been responsible for the founding of the famous MacCrimmon piping school at Boreraig, which finally closed around 1770. For the story of Duncan Ban MacCrimmon's and the Battle of Inverurie in 1745 see item under Mincemeat Crumble Squares.

Scottish stye Pipe bands are now to be found all over the world and the standard of playing for both bands and solo pipers is now recognised as being higher than ever. Long may that continue.

Now pipers are well known to be fond of a Dram so this weeks recipe - Oatmeal Posset - combines three famous food-stuffs from Scotland - oatmeal, heather honey and Whisky!

Oatmeal Posset

Ingredients: 1 pt/ 600 ml milk; 1/2 oz/ 15 g medium oatmeal; 1/4 tsp salt; 2 tsp/ 10 ml clear Scottish heather honey; 1 tbsp/ 15 ml Whisky; grated nutmeg, to taste. Serves 2

Method: Put the milk in a saucepan and add the oatmeal and salt. Bring to the boil, stirring, then remove from the heat and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Strain the liquid through a sieve into a clean saucepan, pressing the oatmeal firmly to extract as much liquid as possible. Stir in the honey, Whisky and nutmeg to taste. Reheat until almost boiling, stirring all the time. Pour into mugs and serve.

You can read the Flag, listen to the Scots Language, enjoy the Scots Wit and lots more at

Christina McKelvie MSP's weekly diary for this week didn't arrive sorry to say.

The Scottish Nation
My thanks to Lora for transcribing these volumes for us.

We're now onto the T's with Thane, Thom, Thomson, Thorburn, Thriepland, Tilloch, Tod and Torphichen.

An interesting account of Torphichen which starts...

TORPHICHEN, a surname, now very rare, derived from the parish of that name in the county of Linlithgow. Among the favourites of James III. hanged by the incensed nobles over Lauder bridge in 1478, was one Torphichen, a dancing-master.

“The name,” says Dr. Hetherington, in his description of the parish in the New Statistical Account of Scotland, “is evidently Celtic in its origin, but etymologists are by no means agreed with regard to its true composition and meaning. The word Tor is unquestionably hill, but the latter part of the name is more doubtful. Some assert it to mean ten, and say that it refers to a range of hills in the vicinity having ten summits. The range, however, has not more than seven distinct summits; and the Gaelic word fichead means twenty, not ten, as they assume. The most probable derivation seems to be Torfeochan, or the hill of the Ravens. It may be regarded as some corroboration of this meaning that there is an estate in the neighbourhood of the village named Crawhill, and that the crest of the most extensive land proprietor in the parish is a raven chained to a rock, as if in allusion to the parochial name.”

TORPHICHEN, Baron, a title in the Scottish peerage, granted in 1563 to Sir James Sandilands, who at the Reformation was chief of the knights of St. John of Jerusalem in Scotland. These knights were at one time called knights of Rhodes, and finally knights of Malta. Their principal residence in this country was a little to the north-east of the village of Torphichen, and Sir James Sandilands having acquired all their property there, got it erected into a temporal lordship.

You can read the rest of this account at

You can read all these entries at

Poetry and Stories
Another poem from John Henderson called "Tunes Send Messages" which you can read at

We also have some new poems and articles from Donna, Alastair and others in our Article Service at

New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
We are now on the Lanark volume with the Parish of Lirberton and Quothquhan.

Extent.-THE parish of Quothquan was annexed to that of Libberton in the year 1669. The united parish extends from north to south about seven miles, and from east to west about four and a-half miles. It contains nearly 14 square miles, or 8703 imperial acres.

It appears from Wodrow's History that., in the year 1663, the parish of Libberton was fined L. 252, 8s. Scots, and Quothquhan L. 182, 16s. Scots, for nonconformity to Prelacy.

Chief Land-owners.—The chief land-owner is Sir Norman Macdonald Lockhart, Bart. of Lee and Carnwath.

Family of Chancellor of Shieldhill.—The second land-owner is Alexander Chancellor, Esq. of Shieldhill, whose ancestors have been in possession of this estate for the last four centuries, as appears from a charter still extant, [This charter is referred to in the Memoirs of the Sommervilles, Vol. i. p. 175. Ibid. pp. 240-248.] granted by Thomas Lord Sommerville to William Chancellor of Shieldhill and Quothquhan, A. D. 1432. In July 1474, William Chancellor rode with the rest of the then Lord Sommerville's vassals to meet King James on his way from Edinburgh to Couthally Castle, to partake of the festivity of the "speates and raxes."

You can read this account at

The index page for the New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845) can be found at

Book of Scottish Story
Our thanks to John Henderson for sending this in for us.

This week have added...

The Covenanters

This is a large story and we have the final Chapter 3 up now which starts...

Mary was too generous to be happy in the safety of her father, when that was bought with the life of his brave deliverer. When Graham was taken away, she felt a pang as if he had been led to execution. Instead, therefore, of indulging in selfish congratulation, her whole soul was taken up in the romantic and apparently hopeless scheme of extricating him from his danger. There was not a moment to lose; and she asked her father if he could think of any way in which a rescue might be attempted.

"Mary, my dear, I know of none," was his answer. "We live far from any house, and before assistance could be procured, they would be miles beyond our reach."

“Yes, father, there is a chance," said she, with impatience. "Gallop over to Allister Wilson’s on the other side of the hills. He is a strong and determined man, and, as well as some of his near neighbours, is accustomed to contest. You know he fought desperately at Drumclog; and though he blamed you for not joining the cause, he will not be loth to assist in this bitter extremity.”

Allan, at these words, started up as if awakened from a reverie. "That will do, my dear bairn. I never thought of it; but your understanding is quicker than mine. I shall get out the horse ; follow me on foot, as hard as you can."

You can read the rest of this at

The other stories can be read at

The History of Glasgow
By Robert Renwick LL.D. and Sir John Lindsay L.D. in 3 volumes (1921)

Now on the second volume of the three with...

Chapter XIX
Archbishop Lindsay and the Overthrow of Episcopacy

Chapter XX
George Hutcheson, Notary, Banker, and Philanthropist

Chapter XXI
The Civil War

Chapter XXII
Domestic Annals about 1640

Chapter XXIII
The Campaign of Montrose

Here is how chapter XXII starts...

WHILE Glasgow was thus playing a decided and vigorous part in the larger affairs of the nation, it was also attending to its own internal affairs with efficiency and credit. The municipal records afford a picture of orderly and wise arrangement, with no disturbance of steady progress and painstaking forethought.
Among many similar matters the annals of Glasgow throw valuable light on the methods of government, local and national, of early times. It is a common mistake to suppose that in the dawn of history—an imagined golden age—communities elected their rulers by a free vote of all their members, in the democratic fashion of to-day. The facts of history show that this was not the case. The Anglo-Saxon Witan, [Liebermann, National Assembly, 5.] the British or Welsh Cantref, [Lloyd, History of Wales, i. 301-2.] the high council of the Picts, [Adamnan's Life of Columba, ii. 36.] and the governing bodies of the Irish Gael [Fustel de Coulange's Histoire, i. 1-22.] and the Gauls across the Channel were all alike selected rather than elected assemblies, in the choice of whom the common people had no part. It is interesting to find to what a late period this system prevailed in Scotland. Even in the seventeenth century the Assembly of the Scottish Estates, or Parliament, remained, like the high councils of the Picts, Britons, Gael, and Saxons, a body composed of nobles, landowners, clergy, and representatives of burghs, no one of whom was elected by the people. The representative of Glasgow was appointed by the Town Council, and the appointment was in each case only for the duration of a single meeting of the Estates. Thus on 14th October, 1637, the Council "ordaines" Walter Stirling to ride to Edinburgh with "Maister Robert Wilkie" for the next meeting of Parliament "to attend ane gracious ansuer of his Majestie anent the buik of commoun prayer"; and a month later the city fathers similarly "ordained" Matthew Hamilton to accompany Wilkie for the same purpose. [Burgh Records, i. 385.]

But the magistrates and Council of Glasgow were not themselves elected by the people. Down to the year 1637 the provost and magistrates were appointed by the archbishop. After the abolition of Episcopacy they were selected by a commissioner appointed by the king. [Ibid. 432.] There appears, however, to have been no settled or regular arrangement for the election of the Town Council. That body, still a close corporation, was chosen, not by the citizens in general, but by the provost and old and new bailies, with perhaps the most influential members of the previous Council itself. [Burgh Records, i. 375. It was by an Act of James III. in the 15th century that retiring town councils elected their successors. This usage was only abolished by the Burgh Police Act of 1833.] On 19th August of that year, however, the provost, bailies, and Council took the matter in hand. They formally resolved that in future the members of the Town Council should be chosen, not in any haphazard fashion, but by the provost and three bailies, along with the provost and three bailies of each of the previous two years, a body of twelve in all, which, in case of the death or absence otherwise of any of them, should make up that number by co-opting other individuals for the purpose. [Ibid. i. 382.] Accordingly, in the October following, the archbishop having appointed James Stewart of Floack, a merchant burgess, to be provost, and John Anderson and Ninian Anderson, merchants, and Colin Campbell, craftsman (founder of the Blythswood family), to be bailies, the provost and bailies of that and the two previous years, with one person chosen to make up the number of twelve, elected thirteen merchants and twelve craftsmen to act as the council of the burgh. [Burgh Records, i. 384.]

You can read the rest of the Preface at

The index page of the book is at

The Scottish Historical Review
I have added several more articles from these publications...

Four Representative Documents of Scottish History
Life of St Columba by Adamnan, Life of St. Margaret, Book of Discipline, Autobiography of Dr Alexander Carlyle Minister of Inveresk.

Intellectual Influences of Scotland on the Continent
It is a natural question to ask—has Scotland, on her part, exercised any perceptible influence on the sister nations of the Christian group?

Narrative of a Journey from Edinburgh to Dresden in 1814
William Anderson journey from Edinburgh to Dresden and back in 1814, on which he travelled as quickly as he could, partly post, partly by Diligence, and faster than the mail, occupied fifty-nine days, of which, however, in consequence of enforced delays, only thirty-six were spent in actual travelling, when his progress was at the average rate of eighty-eight miles a day.

Sir David Lindsay: 1490-1555
THERE was a time, not so long ago, when Lindsay's name was familiar and honoured among the people of his native land, and when, as Dr. James Taylor says, his writings were to be found in almost every cottage north of the Tweed. In his Scottish History and Literature, Dr. John M. Ross testifies to the piety with which Scotland remembered her old "makar." During the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries upwards of twenty editions of his works were published. His verses were on almost every tongue. Until Burns appeared he was in fact the poet of the Scottish people.

You can read these articles at

The Sea of Galilee Mission of the Free Church of Scotland
Published for the Jewish Committee of the Free Church of Scotland

I have now completed this book and here is a wee bit from it...

IN 1884, I was appointed by the Free Church of Scotland to work as a medical missionary amongst Jews and others around the Sea of Galilee. My first months were spent with Dr. Vartan of Nazareth. He had been in the country since about 1860, and being the only medical man in Northern Palestine, he had often been called to minister to the sick in Tiberias. His services were gratefully appreciated; and it was through his influence that I was able to rent a house from one of the chief rabbis, and so to establish myself as the first resident missionary at the Sea of Galilee.

I had been well warned regarding the unhealthiness of the place, [The deaths that have taken place in the mission circle have not been due to any special condition of Tiberias. Apart from the intense heat in summer, Tiberias is as healthy as most Eastern towns, and quite bearable by Europeans. except during the three or four hottest months.—D. W. T.] and the fanatical nature of the inhabitants, Jewish and
Moslem; but the needs of the place appealed to me in a way that I could not resist. Crowds soon came and besought me to heal them and their sick friends; but when they understood that I was a Christian missionary, and commended to them Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah and as the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, their indignation was roused, and they determined to rid their holy town of this deceiver of the people." The rabbi who had let me the house was denounced in the Hebrew newspapers, and he tried to get me to leave. Once when very ill I was taken by night by Dr. Vartan to Nazareth. I soon recovered, but a report that I had died was spread in Tiberias by some of the Jews, evidencing what they hoped or anticipated. "Cherems " or bans of excommunication from the synagogue on any who, whether sick or not, visited the missionary were publicly proclaimed from the various synagogues. The "haluka," or alms from Europe, etc., would not be distributed amongst any who disobeyed the order of the rabbis ; and so for a time the mission was boycotted by the Jews.

There were, however, Moslems and a few Greek Catholic Christians in Tiberias who continued attending the dispensary, and in many cases they were greatly benefited. So some sick Jews, and especially some Jewesses with sick children, braked the bans of the rabbis, and sought the aid of the Christian doctor. Now was the critical time; but the devotion of the mothers to their children proved strongest, and the bans began gradually to be forgotten, though now and then there would be a fresh outburst of opposition. Very gradually the opposition was overcome, and on passing through the streets grateful patients would take off their hats, children would run to kiss the doctor's hand, and many would entreat him to step aside and see their sick ones.

You can read more of this chapter at

The index page for the other chapters can be found at

The Pioneers of Old Ontario
By W. I. Smith and Illustrations by M. McGillvray (1923)

I really enjoyed this book and hope you will too. There are many illustrations in the book which I think you'll enjoy. I have up several chapters for you to read this week...

From Southern Homes
Within reach of the St. Lawrence
On the Penetang Trail
By way of Yonge Street
When Oakville rivalled Toronto

Here is how the account starts from "When Oakville rivalled Toronto"...

Some fragmentary references have already been made to "The Summerless Year" of 1816. But the real story of that season of want and nightmare was related to me by Benjamin D. Waldbrook, whom I interviewed near Oakville in the first year of the present century. Mr. Waldbrook's father came to Canada in 1817, when memories of the event were still fresh, and his own recollections went back to the beginning of the third decade of the last century.

"The spring of 1816," Mr. Waldbrook said, "opened with as fair prospects as have ever appeared at the same season since. But the sunshine of the year's morn was followed by a long night of black despair. Snow commenced falling in June, and until spring came again the whole country was continuously covered by a wintry blanket. Practically nothing was gathered in the way of a crop. Everything rotted in the ground. There was no flour, there were no vegetables; people lived for twelve months on fish and meat—venison, porcupine, and ground-hog being varied with the thin meat of cattle slaughtered because there was no vegetation to sustain them. Hay was sent from Ireland to save the stock of the starving people of Quebec; and some brought here sold for forty-five dollars per ton. Even when father carne in the following year, flour was seventy dollars per barrel at Quebec, potatoes were a penny a pound, and the country was full of stories of the horrors endured during the winter of a year's duration.

"Happily the year 1817 was as prolific as the year before had been barren. Happily, too, there was a considerable migration in 1817 from Nova Scotia, which had escaped an affliction that appears to have been confined to Ontario, Quebec, and the Eastern States. The newcomers from Nova Scotia brought with them potatoes, that provided seed not only for themselves but for neighbours in Ontario who were without seed. These potatoes had a blue point and our Ontario people gave them the name of `blue-noses.' From the potatoes the name passed to Nova Scotians themselves. I am told that the people of Nova Scotia do not like the title. They should be proud of it. The name recalls the time when help from that province by the sea proved the salvation of sorely stricken Ontario.

"Even I have been witness of afflictions little less grievous than those of the 'summerless year,'" continued Mr. Waldbrook. "About 1833, army worms came in countless millions. They literally covered the ground and trees were left bare of foliage as in mid-winter. At the doors of houses they swarmed like bees at the entrance to a hive.

"About the same time a deluge of frogs fell upon the land. In the blazing heat of noonday sun these rotted and filled the air with poisonous vapors. For a time this province was cursed with a West Indian climate; cholera developed, and people died by hundreds.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The rest of the chapters can be read at

John Witherspoon
As John Witherspoon was a signatory to the American Declaration of Independence I thought it would be appropriate to put up a biography of him.

In the Preface the book says...

WITHERSPOON'S life is notable in connection with four important movements: the struggle for popular rights in the Church of Scotland; the administration of Princeton College; the organization of the American Presbyterian Church; and the American Revolution. I have tried to tell the story of his life simply and accurately. As I have avoided the use of foot-notes I shall indicate here the sources of my information. For the Scotch period these were Cunningham's "History of Scotland," "Auto-biography of Rev. Alexander Carlyle," and the Minutes of the General Assembly; for the American period, Bancroft's "History of the United States," "Sprague's Annals," Sanderson's "Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence," Tyler's " Literary History of the American Revolution," McLean's "History of the College of New Jersey," John Adams' Diary, the Writings of Washington. But in all cases I have also used the original documents. These are the minutes of the Board of Trustees of Princeton College, the minutes of the Presbytery of New Brunswick, of the Synod of New York and Philadelphia, and the records of the Presbyterian Church; the minutes of the Provincial Congress and Council of Safety of New Jersey; the Secret Journals of Congress; Thompson's Journal; Wharton's edition of the "Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution." For both periods I have used the American edition of Witherspoon's Works, my own collection of his manuscripts, and letters found in various publications.

I here express, also, my grateful appreciation of many courtesies extended to me by the librarians of Princeton University and Theological Seminary and Pennsylvania College; by the historical societies of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and by the state librarians of these commonwealths. I am also indebted to the late Senator M. S. Quay for printed copies of government documents.

Houck Memorial Manse,
Gettysburg, Pa.

I hope you'll enjoy this book which you can get to at

Report on the Agriculture of Perthshire
This is an account taken from a volume of the Highland Agricultural Society of Scotland and starts...

PERTHSHIRE has been called the Yorkshire of Scotland; and if great extent, central position, diversity of soil, and variety in the characteristics and configuration of the county, and the existence of a large body of influential resident proprietary, are the distinguishing features of Yorkshire, the suggestion of a correspond-inn position for Perthshire, in Scotland, is not without foundation.

It contains 1,596,160 imperial acres, and extends in length from east to west 67½ miles, and in breadth from north to south 61½ miles. Its rental by the last valuation is L.777,294; and though the per acreage rental of some other counties in Scotland is higher, that circumstance is attributable to their mineral and manufacturing wealth, for no county in Scotland, with the exception of Aberdeen, yields so large a purely agricultural rental as Perthshire. There is no coal in the county north of the Ochils, and the only limestone within its bounds is found in the far Highlands to the north of Len-y-Vrachie, in Glen Goulandie, and in the mountain ranges surrounding Lochs Rannoch, Tay, and Earn, places where, hitherto at least, it has been of no commercial use or value, except for enriching the pasture of a few spots in their immediate neighbourhood. Neither is the richness of its foliage marred by hot-blast furnaces, for blackband ironstone is unknown within its borders. The shaft of a steam-engine is here and there visible, but in most cases they are attached to thrashing mills on large farms, and to thriving bleach-fields of old standing, within a few miles of Perth on the Tay and the Almond. The county, from these causes, forms a great contrast to its next neighbour, the kingdom of Fife, teeming with treasures and industries, which, while they augment its wealth, do not enhance its natural beauties.

From some, or all of these causes combined, there has been much competition for property in the county, and the price of land is, consequently, as a general rule, very high,—many estates having been sold at prices 50 per cent, higher than they would have realised in other counties in Scotland, when the intrinsic value, or value estimated by produce instead of by rental in both cases, is taken into consideration.

You can read the rest of this account at

Report on the Dietaries of Scotch Agricultural Labourers
It's often interesting to see what Scots labourers ate in olden days and I came across this report in the Highland Agricultural Society of Scotland and decided to add it to the site.

Here is how the account starts...

A CAREFUL investigation of popular dietetics forms a subject of interesting research, from the accurate study of which much practical good may be anticipated if it leads to the adoption of any improvement; and the present is certainly the time to make such an inquiry, when the course of events arising out of the recent prevalence of rinderpest, and consequent enhanced valise of butcher meat and other articles of daily food, threatens to retard and impede, if not entirely to throw back for a time, the spontaneous improvement of the dietaries of the rural population of the country.

The school of Lienig have, doubtless, done much good, but their statistical basis seems too narrow, and they have, perhaps, at so early a period of the inquiry, formulated the ingesta of various dietaries too precisely and minutely, and hence the results of their theories have not obtained such practical and popular support and trial as the elaborate nature of their investigations deserves, and which the general confidence theoretically placed in their system appears to suggest. The difficulty, moreover, of undertaking experiments, or of obtaining returns upon a satisfactory scale, and with an equality of fairness in all points, leaves the matter still vague, and as regards the agricultural dietary in Scotland at least, susceptible of munch further useful investigation. For if the daily consumption of nutritive food by the Scotch peasant and his family can be proved to be inadequate in many cases to the maintenance of the body in physical and muscular health and strength, any improvement upon such a state of the social condition of this class of the population would be most invaluable, seeing there can be no doubt that an insufficient supply of the nourishment required by the animal wants of the body is productive of an impaired condition of health, derangement of the functions of the system and consecluent disease, and in extreme cases, where the absence of proper nutriment reaches the point of privation, of starvation and death. Without, however, going so far as to expect to find in the low-fed population of the country extreme cases of starvation, even in isolated instances, to be common, there can be no doubt that we may naturally expect to hear of some families amongst the poorer classes in remote rural districts, who do not feed themselves adequately.

This idea receives an appearance of truth, when we find in some places in the agricultural mainland of Scotland, that the death-rate of the population is far above what it might be expected to be, considering the salubrity of the situation; while in those localities also, many of the peasantry who do survive to advanced years are generally martyrs to chronic catarrh and rheumatism; and although, doubtless, the ailments referred to arise in great measure from the peasant's regardlessness of exposure to cold and damp, still an insufficient diet may have much to do with the matter, and it is therefore quite fair to infer that, with more attention to a proper and adequate dietary, or by an assimilation of the dietary of these districts to those of other quarters similarly situated, where the mortality exhibits a decreased ratio, the death-rate of the low-fed population would be lessened. Take, for example, and by way of comparison between two districts where a dissimilar dietary prevails, the following statistical figures, calculated from the "Eighth Detailed Annual Report of the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in Scotland, 1866." In the agricultural districts of Moffat (Dumfriesshire) the salubrity of which cannot be denied, the percentage of deaths is 1.747; in Glencairn parish (Dumfriesshire), it is 2.142; in Kirkmabreck district (Kirkcudbrightshire), it is as high as 2.755; and in the rural portion of Newton-Stewart parish (Wigtonshire), it is 1.945. In all these localities the fare of the agricultural classes is very poor and scanty, and the use of peasemeal is almost unknown. On the other hand, in the Border counties to the eastward, where the diet is more liberal, and the use of peasemeal, rendered palatable by admixture with barley-meal, is very common, if not general, and forms a considerable portion of the daily food of the same classes, we find the death-rate is a good deal lower.

In the parish of Traquair (Peeblesshire), for example, it is only 1.015 per cent.; in Drumelzier (Peeblesshire), it is 1.435 per cent.; in Yarrow (Selkirkshire), 1.400; and in Linton (Jedburgh), it is only 0.493 per cent. It must, therefore, be evident that the primary classification of foods into "heat-producing" or respiratory food (carbonaceous), and "flesh-forming" food (nitrogenous) is, if attended to in practical use, highly important; and it is an inquiry worthy of more consideration than has hitherto been given it, whether the labouring classes might not with advantage partake more liberally than they do in their daily dietary of a mixture of pease and beans with other farinaceous food, so as to render the mixed dish or bread really palatable. In India, where animal diet is not allowed at all, the Brahmins understand the advantages of the use of such a diet as we recommend; and the laity who dare to eat of "Brahmin's food" (a mess of rice and lentils), are punished. The most palatable and wholesome way in which we advise the use of pease or beans, is in the form of soup, made with a very little suet, or dripping, or pork-bone. Cooked in this manner, pease or beans (dry) afford an agreeable dinner, and a diet possessed of highly nutritive value.

You can read the rest of this substancial account at

Rob Donn MacKay
This book was a wee bit of a challenge in that there is so much of the Gaelic language in it. I thus decided to scan each page as an image and so when you read a page at the foot you'll find a link to the Previous and Next pages.

Rob Donn MacKay was a major Gaelic poet and song writer and so believe it is important to have a copy of his works on the site. I hope you'll enjoy the translations of some of his poems in the event you don't know the gaelic language.

Here is what the Preface has to say...

THE poetical works of Rob Donn have already been published in three editions, the first in 1829, the second in 1870, and the third so recent as last year. These several editions agree in so far as they include such of the bard's compositions as are worthy of preservation, much that is not, and probably some pieces which were not his work at all. The first and third editions have each glossaries, which are by no means complete. Generally speaking, the later editions adhere to the text and orthography of the first, which, having been rendered according to the literary usage of the time, gives an impression of defective rhyme and rhythm. The only aim of the editors seems to have been the rendering of the bard's meaning. The present edition has other important claims on the reader's interest. The text has been revised and made to conform, as nearly as can be advantageously done, to the bard's own native dialect. By this change the ordinary reader loses nothing, while the student gains much. A full and carefully compiled glossary of all the local words, and dialectic forms of words used by the bard, as well as many which do not occur in his works, with their meanings in the English language, and their etymologies, where these can be given, together with a treatise on the Reay Country pronunciation of Gaelic, is appended, and will be found of great value.

The melodies of about fifty pieces, taken principally from a manuscript collection of airs of Rob Donn's songs noted down in the Reay Country by the late John Munro, a native of the district, and printed in both notations, further enhance the work. The surname of the bard has of late given rise to a good deal of controversy, in view of which the chapter treating of that subject will doubtless be read with more than ordinary interest.

It is doubtful if the inclusion of every composition alleged to have been made by Rob Donn has tended to increase the bard's reputation as such. Keeping this in view only the principal compositions, and such of the minor pieces as were necessary to display the style and range of subject which were his, are reproduced.

This volume is unique in many ways. We do not know that the works and music of any Gaelic bard have ever been published in this form before; indeed, we doubt if it would be possible to give fifty of the songs of any other Gaelic bard set to the original melodies. It is to the credit of Sutherland people that they have preserved so well the old songs and the old music, of which we believe a great deal could yet be taken down from the natives of the county.

It has often been stated that Rob Donn has been fortunate above all other Gaelic bards in having so many editions of his works published, and so much prominence given to them by writers of distinction, such as Mr. J. G. Lockhart, son-in-law of Sir Walter Scott, and others. However that may be, we have endeavoured in this instance to present his songs and poems to our countrymen in as pleasing a form as possible, with-such additional matter as we believe would add to their interest.


You can read this entire book at

On the Growth and Cultivation of Willows in Scotland
This is a good account of the Willow Trees in Scotland and also details some of the uses that the tree is put to. Here is how the account starts...

THERE are only two species of willow that can be profitably grown as timber trees, Salix alba or the white willow, and S. fragilis or the brittle willow. In describing the above the same difficulty exists as in describing the varieties of basket willow, viz., that the species of willow is a subject of controversy. Under each of the names above I include several that are usually called species, but which thirty years' experience has convinced me are only varieties; but as I have been for some years collecting information upon this subject, with the view of ultimately making it known, it will perhaps be deemed sufficient if the varieties named are so described as to be clearly recognised.

The first and most important as a timber tree is the S. alba and its varieties. This species is conspicuous by reason of the soft silvery pubescence of its leaves. Other willows have the under side of the leaves covered with down, but no other willow has both the upper and under sides so distinguished. All the leaves are not so covered, but the young leaves found at the ends of the twigs or branches always are. This is characteristic. The leaves are small, lance-shaped, and finely serrated on the edges. The twigs of several of this group are beautifully coloured, from a deep carmine, to a rich orange colour. The wood is light and extremely tough, and for this purpose it is used by cricket bat makers, and for cutting boards, and other purposes where extreme toughness is required. The three best varieties of this class are the following:—S. alba or Huntingdon.—these are identical; S. sanquisea, or the Ardennes willow; S. coccinnea, the latest out, and the most beautiful. My experience of this tree only extends over a period of six years, and with the following results, in the trial ground at Basford, Notts. At five years old it measures 24 feet high, and at 1 foot from the ground 23 inches in girth, in rich alluvial soil, and near running water.

You can read the rest of this account at

And that's it for now and hope you all have an enjoyable weekend :-)


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