Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Royal Burgh of Kirkcaldy 2


From the earliest records we have the following figures for population: [in 1792] Pathhead, 2,089; Dysart, 1,736; Gallatown, 432; and [in 1802] in Kirkcaldy proper, 3,248. The growth that took the population to 40,000 in 1910 was therefore phenomenal. Birth rates and death rates were both declining rapidly at this point. (For comparison's purposes, the current population stands at 46,000.)

The author notes dispassionately, but with a note of satisfaction that in comparison with other towns, "Kirkcaldy has generally a higher birth rate and lower death rate. Kirkcaldy's birth rate is 23 per 1000, while Kilmarnock's is 23.9, Dunfermline's is 20.8 and Perth's 21.7. Kirkcaldy's death rate is 10 per 1000, while Kilmarnock's is 33, Dunfermline's is 14 and Perth's is 10."

The Royal Burgh of Kirkcaldy 1

Kirkcaldy is well used to its rounds of 'renewals' and regeneration projects. Evidence that this is far from being uniquely a contemporary feature of our civic life may be discovered from the pages of the post-war volume, 'A Civic Survey of the Royal Burgh of Kirkcaldy' by the Burgh Engineer, R Meldrum. Its justification, it says, may be best encapsulated by the dictum of r Unwin that the city which "seeks to plan its own destiny must first know its own needs and capabilities." In this blog entry, I shall attempt to preserve the most vital of the data left to us, although I conceed that the choice is highly subjective and that at one point I have omitted a reference on grounds of taste and nothing nobler.


The population of the time (1947) is listed at 49,200, the burgh acreage 4,890, 210 of which are under water. The towers raised or 'terraced' beaches are early remarked upon [once more clearly visible with the absence of the sea-wall constructed in the 1930s.] The burgh sits mostly on clay, with gravel, stones, sand, dolerite rock outcrops, peat, limestone, sanstone and, of course, coal, all appearing in patches. "The Raith Estate rising to a height of 500ft is a mass of igneous outcrops, extremely hard volcanic rock."

Drainage occurs through the East, Invertiel, Tyrie and Kingslaw burns, the latter running north into the River Ore.

By some unknown authority, Meldrum claims that the earliest settlement was founded at the mouth of the East Burn. The East and West Ports [not uncommon defensive structures, where port simply indicates a gate] were built at Port Brae and Louden's Wynd respectively, with the town's ecclesiastical centre being founded at the Old Kirk on Kirk Wynd. The town was defended by a wall and a third gate, the Kirk Wynd Port, defended its vulnerable central section.

"The Kirk Wynd led by way of the Loaning to the Town Lands. Small patches were allocated to townsmen for private cultivation as Burgh Acres, but the moors beyond the present Victoria Road as far as the Templehall and Dunnikier Policies were held by the townspeople in common, so that all householders had a right to pasture their cattle there, and to cut peat for fuel."

The last of the Burgh lands appear to have been feued by public auction to meet the expense of repairing the harbour after a severe storm in 1717.

"The Burgh has been governed from earliest times by magistrates and council elected by the Burgesses. Kirkcaldy Burgesses were so proud of their right do this, that in 1588 they agreed "never to have a Provost lest they should be reduced to the servitude suffered by the people in other burghs."" [...]

"Pathhead ... was originally a Burgh Barony."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ephemera - Motor Claims

To be read very carefully. The following is a selection of motor claims, made in all innocence by the Insured:-

The accident was due to the other fellow narrowly missing me.

Cow wandered into car; I was afterwards informed that the cow was half-witted.

She suddenly saw me, lost her head and we met.

The car in front stopped suddenly and I crashed gently into his luggage grid.

I ran into a shop window and sustained injuries to my wife.

I knocked over a man; he admitted it was his fault as he had been knocked over before.

Dog on road applied breaks causing skid.

I collided with a stationary tramcar coming in the opposite direction.

I misjudged a lady crossing the street.

I collided with a stationary tree.

I was scraping my nearside on the bank when the accident happened.

My husband was unwell so I had to get another man.

I heard a horn blow and was struck in the back - a lady evidently was trying to pass me.

Coming home I drove into the wrong house and drove into a tree I haven't got.

I left my Austin Seven outside and when I came out later to my amasement there was an Austin Twelve.

One wheel went into ditch, my foot jumped from brake to accelerator pedal, leapt across land to other side, and jammed into trunk of tree.

I thought the side window was down, but it was up as I found out when I put my head through it.

To avoid a collision I ran into the other car.

I blew my horn, but it would not work as it was stolen.

I thought the garage had only four posts, but my car backed into a fifth.

Accident was due to road bending.

The witness gave his occupation was a gentleman, but I would be more correct in calling him a garage proprietor.

I consider that neither vehicle was to blame, but if either was to blame it was the other one.

On entering Wales I blew my horn at the left hand corner.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Ephemera - Poem

In c. mid-late eighties, Scott and Paterson Ltd. published a 16-page booklet of poems by Prue Guild, entitled 'Just An Idea'. The setting is clearly Borders, and there is an interest throughout in hunts and the Ridings, but the interest with our particular copy, which has the word 'Elise' scrawled on the front cover is in the autograph poem contained within. Can you identitfy the author or authoress?

"I saw a child who couldn't walk,
Sit on a horse and laugh and talk,
Then ride it through a field of grass
And hush to feel the wind go past.

"I saw a lass (her brain was slow)
Ride on a horse and make it go,
Up mountain track, thro' lumbling stream
And places she had never been.

"I saw a man who couldn't crawl
Mount a horse and sit up tall;
He put it through the dessage pace
And smiled at wonder on our face!

"I saw a child, born into strife,
Take up and hold the reins of life,
And that same child was heard to say
"Thank God for showing me the way!""

Friday, November 24, 2006

Ephemera - M.O.F. Office

These are genuine letters received by M.O.F. Office in Edinburgh, which deals with public welfare.

1. I am glad to state that my husband died yesterday. I will be glad if you will get a pension. If you don't hurry up I will have to get public resistance.

2. I cannot get eternity benefit in spite of the fact that I saw the insistence officer. I have 8 children. What can I do about it.

3. I have nothing coming into the house but two sons on the dole. I am visited regularly by clergy. Will you write the penshuns minister for me as I don't know what Church he is in charge of. I can do with a pension as I have no clothes for a year.

4. I am enclosing my marriage certificate with three children. One of them is a mistake as you will see when you look into it. I am writing to say my youngest child is born two years old. Why am I not getting allowance for it.

5. I enclose the certificate with six children. Of them is a twin and died. You asked if he is christened. Yes. He was baptises on a half sheet of paper by a certain captain in the Salvation Army.

6. The man I live with won't work. As he wants to know if my husband is dead. Will you search the records office for him and let me know.

7. I should have more pension since my son is in charge of a spitoon. get a seperate money when he listened. You want to know what part he was wounded in. If it's all the same to you he was wounded in the Dardy Nells.

8. I am writing you truly, yes. I was confirmed with a boy weighing ten pounds. Let me know if this is what you want because I have fallen in error with the landlord and need it badly to pay the rent.

9. In accordance with your instructions, I have given birth to twins in the enclosed envelope.

10. I want money badly as quick as you can send it. I have been in bed with the doctor for a week and he doesn't seem to be doing any good. If things don't improve, I will have to get another doctor.

11. Milk is needed for the baby. Father is unable to supply it.

12. Re your dental enquiry. The teeth at the top are all right but the ones in my bottom are hurting terribly.

13. Please send me a form for a supply of milk for having babies at reduced rates.

14. Please send me a form for cheap milk. I have a baby 2 months old and did not know anything about it until a neighbour told me.

15. Please send me proper form for milk as I am stagnant.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

ABR - Masonic Music

Recently we received a pile of Masonic songbooks, which may be of historical value, so I take the liberty of quoting from it here.

The full title page of the first item reads as follows: "Respectfull dedicated to The Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master of the Province of North Wales, Bro. Colonel Henry Platt, C.B. (P.J.B. Deacon Eng.) / A Masonic Musical Service Book for the Three Degrees of Craft Freemasonry / Being a selection of appropriate Psalms (newly appointed); Hymns; Kyries, etc.; with settings of teh E.A.'s song; the Masonic Honours ("Prosper the Art"; "Worthy Mason He"); and New setting of Burns's song of "Farewell to Tarbolton Lodge" by Bro. E FARNALL, P.M. 2375, P.P.G.O With new Chants and Hymn Tunes expecially composed for this work / The whole compiled and edited for the Service at the Lodge of St. Trilo, 2569, Colwyn Bay. by Bro T J Linekar ORGANIST (1907-10) Copyright by William Reeves, MCMXI / ondon: William Reeves / 83 Charing Cross Road, W.C.2 / Second Edition Revised."

Oddly the Contents page has been both typed and handwritten. It begins with "Duly open for the purposes of F.M. first degree", opening hymns by Cautlett and Linekar himself and on the following page is a "Closing Hymn". Then begins a section on some "Ceremony of Initiation", with a refrain to be sung if the candidate is a "Fit and proper person to be made a Mason." The candidate is instructed to "advance to ...in due form" to music by Turle, and to Kramer is written the instruction "You will S... it with........ on the V.S.L." After music by Mendelssohn, TJL and P Humphries, candidates are told "I delegate you to ......Badge of a Mason". There is a song of readmission, possibly after some form of excommunication and an "Entered Apprentice's Song", which is worth quoting in full:

"Come let us prepare We brother that are,
Here met on this merry occasion.
We'll quaff and we'll sing, Be he peasant of King
Here's a health to an accepted Mason.

"The world tries in vain Our secrets to gain,
And still let them wonder and guess on;
They ne'er can divine A word or a sign
Of a Free and Accepted Mason.

"'Tis the and 'tis that They cannot tell what,
Why the great men of every Nation,
Should put aprons on, And make themselves one
With a Free and an Accepted Mason.

"Great Kings, Dukes, and Lords Have laid by their swords,
Our Myst'ries to put a good grace on;
And have not been ashamed To hear themselves named
As a Free and an Accepted Mason.

"Antiquity's pride We have on our side,
As we keep up our old reputation:
There's nought but what's good To be understood
By a Free and an Accepted Mason.

"We're true and sincere, We're just to the Fair;
They'll trust us on any occasion;
No more mortal can more The Ladies adore
Than a Free and an Accepted Mason.

(All rise and join hands.)
"The join in hand in hand, To each other firm stand
Let's be merry and put a bright face on:
No Order can boast So noble a toast
As a Free and an Accepted Mason.

"No Order can boast So noble a toast
As a Free and an Accepted Mason."

The emphasis on accpetance, or popularity, is one of the anachrnonistic features of the song that perhaps rings a little discordant in twenty-first century ears. Also, am I correct in thinking that to quaff is to sup a drink?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Ephemera - Kilchoman Free Church

Amidst all the lugging of heavy boxes, cleaning years of ingrained grot off titles and monotonous listing there are several quite charming diversions in a secondhand bookshop. One of these is the Ephemera discovered in the old books themselves, items that often have lain ignored for years.

In one book, for instance, we uncovered a 'Singapore Airlines' ticket, dated 31 Dec, year indeterminate, with the following advertisement on the rear: "When travelling Economy Class on board our MEGATOP 747s, you can call anywhere in the world with CELESTEL - the world's first truly global telecommunications system. This allows you to fax from anywhere on earth," accompanied by an overattentive stewardess holding a palm-fax the size of a mortar hod. Progress, progress.

For irrepresible ephemera junkies, Davy Rothbart's 'Found' magazine is indispensible. Nearer to home, we'll continue this ephemera series with a short history in three leaves of the Free Church of Scotland on Islay. Who knows the value of such scraps in years to come.

"The Free Church of Kilchoman.

"The KILCHOMAN FREE CHURCH was built after the disruption in 1843. The Manse was built shortly afterwards. The Church was built by free labour , farmers, crofters, local builders, slaters and joiners gave their services free. Even the women had a small part in it, for when they saw a large stone lying anywhere, they lifted it up into their aprons and carried it to the site. With such combined effort the church was built quickly.

"It was built on raised ground at the entrance to the village of Port Charlotte, overlooking Lochindaal. Besides the main building ther was a vestry at one end and a large porch at the other. On each side of the aisle were the pews, where as was the custom of the Free Church the Congregation sat to sing and stood to pray. They sang without any musical accompaniment, but followed the Presenter who always led the praise.

"Mr James Macmillan held the charge when I was age to attend church. There were three services every Sunday, Gaelic from 12 noon to 2pm, English from 2pm to 3pm, and at 6.30pm was the evening service. The Congregation was not a large one but services were well attended.

"The Presenter for the Gaelic Services was Mr Dugald Ferguson, who walked over the hill from Tormisdale, carrying his Sunday boots, one in each jacket pocket, until he reached the main road where the working boots were deposited into a convenient hole in the dyke, safe until his return. Would they be as safe today I wonder?

"The Presenter for English was Mr Donald McFadyen whose family was a tower of strength to the Free Church.

"Mr McFadyen (senior) was Superintentent of the Sunday School which met in the Church at 5pm. He was assisted by the Misses Mactaggart (Jessie, Marion and Lily) from Octomore and by Mr Alan Gillies, one of the Elders. The children had to memorise four lines of a psalm, or a text, or one of the Commandments. No wonder the Sunday School children shone on the day of the Bible Examination in Primary School.

"At this time the Beadle was Mr Archibald McLean (Daspie) as he was affectionately called. Besides his usual duties of carrying the books from the vestry and conducting the Minister to the pulpit, he rang the bell at the services. He was succeeded by his son Donald and later by his son in law Angus Johnston. In those days all these duties were labours of love. How we miss the bells today. They always were rung on New Years Eve, winging out the old and ringing in the new.

"During the week the Vestry was a hive of industry- Choir practices, Gaelic Class, Prayer Meeting and Dorcas Society. The Dorcas Society of the Free Church was the equivalent of the Women's Guild of the Church of Scotland but the finished garments were sent to Headquarters in Edinburgh from whence they were later sent to foreign lands.

"The Free Church was self supporting, so the Congregation had to be generous and cheerful givers. The Elders took up the collection at the end of the Sermon. The collection was put into a Ladle, which was a wooen box at the end of a long wooden pole and very clumsy. Besides this church collection every Sunday the Congregation paid what was called "The Sustentation Fund". Every quarter an Elder came round to the house to collect the Sustentation Fund.

"The Lord's Supper or Communion was celebrated once a year, usually the first Sunday in July. The previous Friday was held as a Fast Day, schools and shops closed on that day. I well remember how rigidly the Sabbath was kept, no work of any kind was allowed that day.

"When Mr McMillan whose first charge it was, retired, he was succeeded by Rev Mr McInnes. During this time (1900-1904) there ws a Union between the Free Church of Scotland and the Free Presbyterian Church. The Free Church was now called the United Free Church of Scotland. Most of the Congregation joined the Union. The Minister was given the buildings-the Church, the Manse, and the Money. A small number did not join and so left the Church but a large majority followed the Minister.

"Strange to say, at this time word came from Headquarters that a young man from the village of Port Charlotte who had emigrated to America to seek his fortune had passed away and in his will he left a Legacy to the Free Church of Kilchoman. By now there was no Free Church as after the Union it had become the United Free. The minority who had left the Church claimed the Legacy and built a Free Church of their own. The site chosen was between the United Free Church and the Church of Scotland. There was no Manse and no resident Minister. Supply came from Portnahaven and from the mainland. As time passed funds became low and in the end this church was sold as a dwelling house.

"Meanwhile the United Free had a new Minister in succession to Mr McInnes a Mr McDairmid and he was followed by Mr C. M. Robertson. In 1929 there was another Union. The majority accepted it and this brought them all back to the establishment of the Church of Scotland. The United Free Church was closed and the congregation worshipped in St. Kiarans. After a number of years rather than see the United Free Church fall into ruins, a caring lot of gentlemen had it turned into a Museum of Islay Life."

Here ends the typed portion of the text (Courier, typewritten, fax quality.) In addition, there has been attached a hand written note, in a spidery hand. It reads, "Such is the History of the Kilchoman Free Church where I was christened in 1888, attended Sunday-school and Bible-class, and when I was nineteen years of age I became a member of the Church. Margaret Mac???deor. 14th March 1988."

ABR - Transactions of the Watford Natural History Society and Hertfordshire Field Club

(ABR: Antiquarian Book Review)

The 'Transactions of the Watford Natural History Society and Hertfordshire Field Club' is an august publication, combining resolute provincialism with a universality of theme such that it draws down naturally upon great admiration from Midnight Oil Books, being in line to a considerable degree with our aspirations for the 'Pathhead Review'.

Our own copy of Volume Two dates from 1880 and covers the proceedings from October 1877 to July 1879. It was published in London by David Bogue and there appears the detail; 'Watford: Sold at the Public library, Queen's Road.' The Editor of the said volume was John Hopkinson, F.L.S, F.G.S. Proceedings in truth are confined to the final sixteen pages, with the vast majority of the bound volume's content being given over to scholarly articles on various themes relating to the weather, flora and fauna of the county.

From what we can piece together from Copac records, it was published from 1875-1880 by Hardwicke and Bogue of London. The fullest of the c. fifteen records is the joint one by the Univeristy of Cambridge and the National Library of Scotland, which I quote here in full:

Title Details: Transactions of the Hertfordshire Natural History Society and
Field Club
Continues: Watford Natural
History Society and Hertfordshire Field Club. Transactions of the Watford
Natural History Society and Hertfordshire Field Club Continued by: Hertfordshire
Natural History Society and Field Club. [Transactions (Hertfordshire Natural
History Society and Field Club)]
Publisher: London : Gurney & Jackson,
Physical desc.: 28v. : ill ; 22 cm
ISSN: 03753409 THNHA6
Note: 1875-1901 in v. 10; 1875-1914 in v. 15 1976 Classified subject index
Description based on: Vol. 5 (Nov. 1887/Oct. 1889); title from vol. t.p Editor:
18 - , J. Hopkinson Indexes include the 2 vols. of the Transactions of the
Watford Natural History Society and Hertfordshire Field Club None published in

Copies may be found at the university libraries of Leeds, Oxford, Liverpool, Trinity College, Dublin, UCL, Imperial College London, and at theNational Library of Scotland and British Museum. Although not all would appear to be complete.

The description of from the Leeds University records is also worth quoting here at length as it gives an indication of the care that was taken with the binding and production of the book itself, something that has perhaps done something to aid the survival of the volume currently in our care.

Watford : Public library ; Hertford : Stephen Austin and Sons, printers, 1875-
Note: Coverage from 1875 Full-cloth (red); red-sprinkled edges; vol. 2 is half-leather with marbled boards, red-sprinkled edges and boards detached from spine Plates (some col.), fold. map Supplementary title pages to vols 1 and 2 give publication dates as 1878 and 1880 respectively

At some point publication was taken over by Riverside in Twickenham.

The Society continues to this day as the Hertfordshire Natural History Society, while the publication continues as 'The Hertfordshire Naturalist'. Its website, looking back writes:
Despite the effects of two World Wars, its reputation for natural history
studies grew in the 20th century, and the results were published in its journal,
previously the "Transactions of the Hertfordshire Natural History Society", now
"The Hertfordshire Naturalist". National figures such as Sir Edward Salisbury,
late Director of Kew, and pioneer of ecology as a subject, was Recorder for
Botany, and published some important papers in the journal. Other national
figures included Charles Oldham, well-known for mollusc studies and for bird
studies, F. W. Edwards, of the Natural History Museum, as Recorder for flies,
and R. B. Benson, also of the Natural History Museum, as Recorder for sawflies.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Local History - 800 Years of Crail 2

More now from the Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving booklet...

Milestones across the Centuries.

1150-2: Charter of David I contains reference to 'the Burgh of Crail'.
1160s: Crail belonged to the Countess Ada, daughter-in-law of David I and mother of Malcolm IV and William the Lion.
1178: The Countess died and Crail reverted to the direct dominion of the Crown and so became what would later be called Royal Burgh.
1310: Charter by King Robert the Bruce conferring the Burgh's ancient privileges. This is the first Charter for which there is indiputable evidence.
1357: Oldest known impression of the Burgh Seal.
1371: King Robert II granted another Charter.
1553: 10th May. A Charter by Mary, Queen of Scots, confirming the two earlier Charters. The original is in the Burgh archives. "Mary, by the grace of God, Queen of Scots . . . to the Burgesses of our Burgh of Crail, both present and future, that they may have, hold and possess the town of Crail in free burgage with thol and theme and a market day every Sunday, with all liberties, commodities adn easements . . . from teh middle of the water of Leven to the burn of Putekyn (Pitmilly)."
1587: King James VI gave to the Bailies, Council and Community of Crail the revenues of the College Kirk of Crail.
1587: Act of Parliament expressly forbidding Sunday markets in Crail.
1598: The Town Council decided to build a new Tolbooth.
1607: Petition to the Convention of Royal Burghs-"craifeing supporte for helpeing the ruife of thair kirk, thair herbere and bulwark and with the biging of thair tolbuith."
1610: 4th, 5th and 6th July. The Convention of Royal Burghs met in Crail.
1645: Outbreak of the bubonic plague in the Burgh.
1652: Because of extreme poverty, the Burgh is excused from sending representatives to the Parliament in Edinburgh.
1672: Petition to the Privy Council-"Through the late troubles, this ancient and Royal Burgh has become involved in debt . . . consequently no one can be found to accept the offices of Bailie or councillor and because of the rigidity of these creditors all the men competent for these offices are removing out of the Burgh to other places."
1702: The Public Clock and Clock Bell removed from the Kirk Steeple to the Tolbooth Steeple with the consent of the Kirk Session.
1711: First constitution granted to the Town Council: Three magistrates, a Treasurer, the Convenor of Trades and 16 other councillors-21 in all. Of these 15 were "merchant councillors and 6 were craftsmen or "trades councillors".
1731: Important amendment to the constitution: "No magistrate or treasurer, hereafter chosen, shall continue in that station above two years successively."
1814-15: The Town Hall, with the exception of the Tower, was rebuilt.
1833: Burgh Reform Act. Method of election revised. Election took place in November, seven councillors retiring each year by rotation, but each had to be elected by the small number of persons entitled to vote.
1852: Legislation reduced the Council to its present strength of nine-Provost, two Bailies, Honorary Treasurer and five other Councillors.
1852: The title of Provost was reintroduced. There had been Provosts of Crail up to the 17th Century, but for some reason the title lapsed, and for many years the Senior Bailie was called the Chief Magistrate.
1887: The restored Market Cross was unveiled by Provost Peattie on its present site.
1938: The Burgh Motto: IN VERBO TUO LAXABO RETE ("At Thy word I will let down the net"-St. Luke 5,5) was officially matriculated in the Lyon Court. The Motto was accepted on the suggestion of the late Professor J. H. Baxter of St Andrews University.
1952: Mrs Catherine Arrighi, widow of the late Bailie W. F. Arrighi, presented a handsome Provost's Gold Chain to the Burgh. In 1953, the same fonor presented the Provost's robes of scarlet and ermine.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Scots-Polish Poetry Evening.

St Andrews Day, 30th November 2006. 19:30.
In Scots and Polish, this is a great chance to learn about Polish literature and culture. Entry is free, but come prepared to recite, if you can.
Location: 120 Commercial St., Kirkcaldy.

Christmas Opening Hours

Late opening Sat, 23rd & 30th December til 19:30. Closed December 24th, 25th, 26th, 31st, and January, 1st, 17th, 19th, 20th and 22nd. Sorry.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Local History - 800 Years of Crail 1

On Thursday 15th May 1975, a Service of Commeroration and Thanksgiving was held at the Parish Church to mark the close of 800 years in the history of the burgh and to recognise the service given by successive generations of provosts, magistrates and councillors. The Service was conducted by William J MacIntyre and lessons were read by the then Provost, George Simpson, and Session Clerk, John Macdonald.

An Order of Service was produced to commerorate the occasion and given the scarcity of this document, and not knowing whose hands it may end up on, it is probably of profit to preserve some of the details contained within.

The Order of Service was as follows:

Psalm 100 - Old Hundreth

A Call to Prayer

Prayers, incl.:
"Help us to remember, O Lord, that unless Thou build the city, they labour in vain that build it. And so give each one of us grace to labour faithfully, in our several callings, for the common good of our burgh of Crail, for the righteousness of its life and for the glory of Thy holy name."

Psalm 46 - Stroudwater

The First Lesson - Ecclesiasticus 44:1-15

Hymn 500 - Jesus calls us!

The Second Lesson - Luke 5:1-11

Anthem: The Lord is my Shepherd

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession

Hymn 206 - Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken


Acceptance by the Kirk Session of Custody of the Burgh Regalia

Prayers of Dedication

Hymn 601 - O God, our help in ages past

The National Anthem

The Benediction

Psalm 122:6-9"

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

ABR - Historical Sketches of Pathhead and Vicinity

PATHHEAD, currently incorporated within the Royal Burgh of Kirkcaldy, was at one time a separate village with its own peculiar identity. With the Firth of Forth to the south, Kirkcaldy to the 'west', Dysart to the east, and Gallatown, Sinclairtown and Dunnikier to the north, it may well have been overlooked by the swift passage of history were it not for the vigour of its townsfolk in rising to the challenges of the industrial revolution.

One of the finer accounts of the history of PATHHEAD may be encountered in Robert Brodie's 'Historical Sketches of Pathhead and Vicinity', written by a feuer and native of the town in 1863. We take the liberty here of at length quoting from this title to set the scene.

"Whatever time it may have begun to appear as a town, we know from good authority that in 1666 there were eighty houses in it. The estate had passed through a number of hands; but, notwithstanding, the feuers had evidently been increasing in numbers. In that year, John Watson, sen., went to law with the feuers for the purpose of depriving them of their privilege of taking stones and clay, fail and divet, from the whole muir of Dunnikier, which they had enjoyed since the yera 1608; " [...] p.116

"In 1684 John Watson, se., gave the first piece of burying-ground for the use of the haill inhabitants of Dunnikier, and in 1707 they assessed themselves for the purpose of enclosing it, as noted in another part of our work. In 169-, John Watson, jun., received the first royal charter for the estate of Dunnikier, it being granted by Queen Anne, (commonly called Anne of Denmark,) with the consent of James IV., her husband; and in July 1695 the same gentleman obtained an Act of Parliament, authorising the holding of two annual fairs in the town, to continue three days each." [...] p.118

And we find the following story from the time of the Porteous Riots. The year is 1736.

"Andrew Wilson was a native of Pathhead, a baker by trade, son of Alexander Wilson, baker also, there, but who had died about three years previous to the commencement of our story. Andrew had been engaged in a number of smuggling transactions in the neighbourhood. He was a heavy, powerful man, and, withal, very daring and reckless. The officers of excise or customs had on several occasions made seizures of smuggled goods from him, which irritated him very much. He therefore determined that he would obtain satisfaction for the losses which he had sustained; if he could not get back the identical goods which had been taken from him, he would attack some of the government offficials, and take from them what he considered to be an equivalent in money. Accordingly, when in Edinburgh, ... he entered into a combination with George Robertson, who kept an inn at Bristo, and William Hall, also an inhabitant of Edinburgh, to waylay Mr James Stark, the collector of excise in Kirkcaldy, while on his round collecting in the eastern part of the county of Fife. [tbc]

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Uspeki, pebyata!

Success! Midoil - the website - has now launched. Contrary to popular opinion, we are not hoping to profit from confusion with some middle eastern or midwestern oil companies. However, our titles on geology and minerology may well profit, and all the better.

Keep track of progress over the next few weeks as we add extra pages and some scholarly articles on the history of Pathhead, Ravensheugh and the surrounding area.

Friday, November 03, 2006

ABR - Chambers' Historical Newspaper 3

"It is mentioned in The Birmingham Journal, that there never was a period when Birmingham exhibited fewer instances of the commission of even ordinary crime. For some days the jail was absolutely tenantless." No. 2.

"On the other hand, the party of statesmen termed Whigs must be considered as at the very height of the political wheel of fortune. Their constancy of principle during a long period, when liberal principle was more laudable, abstractly, than it was practically safe, and their having ultimately carried their principles, and especially the measure of Parliamentary reform, into practice, have obtained for them a meed of grateful feeling from the people, sufficient, and more than sufficient, to atone for all their former depression and despair." No. 3. January 3, 1833.

And more flippantly...

"A MR EULENSTEIN has lately been astonishing the inhabitants of Edinburgh, by his varied and brillant performances on this hiteherto humble instrument. ... Should this instrument become fashionable, as it deserves to be, the young men, we can foresee, will by and bye[sic] prefer it greatly, as an affectation, to rolled tobacco, and thereby, while regaling themselves, will give pleasure rather than pain to others. Each youth, instead of going puffing along with is cigar, to the annoyance of all around or behind him, will be twanging his Jews' harp, so that the whole street will be one universal orchestra from end to end. ... Boards might be carried on the tops of poles, intimating that "Katie Beardie" was to be played on this street from twelve to two; "Brose and Butter" to be predominant from two to four; and "Maggie Lauder" to reign supreme from four to six." No. 4. February 2, 1833.

"At a late meeting of the Presbytery of Kirkaldy, the Rev. Mr Thorburn was ordained to the pastoral charge of the Scottish church at Falmouth, Jamaica." No. 4.

"A New Continent.-It is said that a new continent has been discovered in the antarctic regions, by a [APRIL, 1833] British whaler. The Literary Gazette, in noticing the circumstance, says-"The log of the vessel is rather confused, but still there seems to be no doubt of the fact, that an immense tract of land has been found about the latitude of 67[deg], and in longitude lying nearly due south of the Cape of Good Hope." No. 6. April 3, 1833.

ABR - Chambers' Historical Newspaper 2

"Monuments to Sir Walter Scott.-A most numerous and highly respectable meeting was held in the Assembly Rooms, at Edinburgh, on Friday the 5th, at which the Lord Provost was called to preside for the purpose of considering a national testimony to the memory of Sir Walter Scott. ... The most remarkable subscription is that of Mr Murray of the Theatre Royal -L.100 By such liberality the subscriber has done infinite honour to himself and to his profession." No.1

"The pestilence [cholera] visited Dumfries for the first time on the 15th of September. Its ravages since then have been more severe, in proportion to the population, than in any other part of Great Britain. ... The calamity produced a complete stagnation of business for several days, and overspread the minds of the inhabitants with gloom." No. 1

"The author alluded to exaggerates of profits of bookselling, while he entirely loses sight of the frequently unsaleable nature of the commodity, and the daily depreciation of the stock of a bookseller, which unilke that of a wine merchant, never improves with age." No. 1

THIS distinguished individual died at his seat of Coates, in Fife, on the 3d ultimo: he had attained the 67th year of his age. Sir John Leslie was a native of Largo, in Fife. He was educated at the University of St Andrews, and had many struggles before reaching the eminent situation he latterly held. He acted at one time as travelling tutor to the sons of Mr Wedgewood a celebrated potter, and enjoyed a pension of L.300 a-year on that account as long as he lived. In 1805, after a severe conflict with the clerical powers of the city, by whom he was objected to on a charge of infidelity, he was appointed Professor of Mathematics in the University of Edinburgh. Here he distinguished himself by some important discoveries, particularly the process of artificial congelation. He was, however, a man of intense general information and high literary powers, in addition to all his aacquirements as a philosopher. In 1820, he succeeded the celebrated Playfair as Professor of Natural Philosophy , and some time in the present year he received from his Majesty the honour of a knighthood of the Guelphic order. By an unvarying prudence of conduct, Sir John Leslie is believed to have accumulated about L.20,000." No. 2. December 1, 1832.

ABR - Chambers' Historical Newspaper 1

Every Friday, I would like to introduce an antiquarian book of note.

This week it is 'Chambers' Historical Newspaper': a bound compilation of issues 1-48 of the newspaper by that same name, published from 2 November 1832 onwards.

In its binding, the title is unremarkable, derelict even, but within contains all manner of treasure.

The plural Chambers refers to the brothers William and Robert, born on the ancient royal burgh of Peebles in 1800 and 1802, respectively. Robert began as a bookseller age 16 and William would follow a year later. Both would go on to become legendary Victorian publishing talismen. For an intimate account of their early struggles and later successes, 'Memoir of Robert Chambers with Autobiographic Reminiscences of William Chambers', published by, yes, you've guessed it, in 1872, has much to commend it.

Much of the brothers political outlook may be seen in the opening lines of the newspaper: "There are two kinds of government; and the two may be best distinguished by the words LIBERAL and ILLIBERAL.... At present, only Great Britain, France, and Belgium, are liberalised countries." No. 1.

The trivia contained within is equally pleasing:

"Monuments to...


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