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]

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