Sections


Rob Roy MacGregor Campbell
The '45
Extracts of Statistics from the Annexed Estates for Western Strathearn (1755-56)
The Reports of the Annexed Estates (1755-69)
A Tour of Scotland - Thomas Pennant (1769)
Seismic Activity (1789)
Account of 1791-99 vol-11 - Comrie, County of Perth
Archibald MacNab (1734-1816)
Henry Dundas (1742-1811)
Sir David Baird of Seringapatam (1757-1829)
Companion and Useful Guide to the Beauties of Scotland – Sarah Murray (1799)
Roman Camp, Dalginross – October (1800)
Flash from the Caledonian Mercury – September (1814)
I've a Boat to Catch (1818)
A Picture of Strathearn - John Brown (1823)
St Fillan’s Highland Society (1827)
Letters from the Distant Past (1831 - 1859)
Comrie, St Fillans and Monivard (1837)
Statistical Account: Parish of Comrie (1838)
The Glen Lednock Census (1841)
The Queen’s Visit (1842)
The Road to Comrie (1857)
For the Sake of Nelly Fergus (1860)
From an Unknown Guidebook-circa (1892)
Comrie (1895)
Tales of Derring Do
Soldier, Soldier, won’t you marry me wi’…
The Adventures of Paddy or Highland Peter
Ghoulie Tales
A Serious Business
Mail Order Bride
The Man with the Powerful Voice
Double Entry bookkeeping
Hey, Gie’s ma Haun…or Murder Most Foul
Kate Mackenzie's Terrible Deeds
Watty and Meg Drummond
The Fencibles
Deacon Reid
Amazing Grace
The Day of the Penny Wedding
The MacArthur's were there before the Hills
The Beggar's Badge
A Pane by any other name can be a Pain!
The Powder Keg
The Coo didnae hae ony Teeth!
The Green Lady of Glen Lednock
The Queen of Tynasithe
The Great Wall of Comrie
Whisky, You're the Devil
A Wee Rumble
A Whale of a Time
An Encounter of the Third Kind
Another Debate
Bosom Pals
Getting Stoned in Comrie
Hanging about Comrie
It's Whisky in the Jar
Picking Other Folks' Brains
Porridge for Breakfast
Tarred and Buttered
Temperance
The Convert
The Debate
The Schism
The Levitation
The Twa' Brithers
There’s a Hare in my Soup
Yer bum's oot the Window

18th & 19th Century

Amazing Grace

At the beginning of the nineteenth century Comrie had thirteen licensed premises and two distilleries. The licensing hours were generous in that they were open night and day and drinking and inebriation were fairly prevalent. In addition there were several houses in the neighbourhood where alcohol could be had even although no license was held. These were usually well patronised as they were well supplied with illicit brew that never saw the gauger’s tools. The home owners knew their patrons well and the modus operandi had an established pattern. The client put down the money on a table and asked for his/her specific poison. Mine host would then scan the sum on the table and made a quick calculation as to quantity to be consumed and thereafter the sum matched the calculation and both parties in the exchange would be pleased. As no money had been asked for and no change required it could not possibly be construed that a business transaction had occurred!

One of these houses in the Ross was called the Juniper Inn so called because it was surrounded by Juniper bushes and was located off the main road some way. On one occasion several young slaters who had just been paid for their work in a nearby house decided to pop in for a jar as they had been working nearby. On the road to the Inn they bumped into a young man named Fisher who was a Divinity student, and although attending college, was home in Comrie on holiday. The slaters who knew him well invited him to join them at the Juniper for a dram. After going through the payment ritual and beginning to feel the rather woozy effects of a few wee Doch and Doris’s, they began to feel hungry and asked the innkeeper for something to eat. The only food that was offered was barley bannocks and cheese; however, the lads wanted something more substantial in the way of butcher meat. As the landlord could not provide this they decided to order the meat from the village and sent a messenger to get some.

On his return the innkeeper made a great stew of collops which was presented to them at their table and Fisher was asked to say grace. A heaven sent opportunity for young Fisher and he took full advantage of it. He started with a grace that appeared to have no end to the extent that one of the company started munching his way through the stew when Fisher was only reaching his stride. Others joined him and by the time Fisher was at the conclusion most of the stew had disappeared. At once Fisher began to castigate them for their selfishness and lack of reverence. One of the slaters looked at him and said, “Ha, Ha! Fisher, there is a time when watching is just as much needed as praying and I hope that you will mind that, and cut your graces shorter after this and I hope that you will remember that lesson in the future.”

The butcher they ordered the collops from was called Mungo Comrie. He was a bachelor whose housekeeper was his cousin, Kirsty. She was very attentive to her duties and Mungo’s interests and when he would buy a beast she would go round the village canvassing for orders and, as a rule, for very successful with this enterprise. Few would care to upset and never cross her as she had a sharp tongue which she used as a whiplash. As with many Comrie folk she had a nickname, “Kirripocks.” Sometimes she would take a dram which did not endear her to the local community and when “fu” the village boys would run after her shouting at the top of their voices “Kirripocks, Kirripocks” and she would chase them away spitting venom at them.

Handsel Monday was the first Monday in the New Year and was always a great occasion in Comrie. Friends and relatives and neighbours would get together in one another’s houses and a good time was had by all. Singing the old songs, and reciting the old poems and stories were the order of the day and all joined in. On one particular occasion Mungo and Kirsty were enjoying themselves thoroughly and the entertainment was very good. They all had had a fair amount of liquid sustenance and one young friend was invited to offer a toast to the entertainers. Once this was done they sat down to supper and Mungo was called upon to provide a grace. As it was likely to be a lengthy one, Kirsty recollected that the water in the house was getting low and decided to replenish it. She found two pails or stoups and went out of the house down to the river and filled the containers.

When Kirsty returned Mungo was still saying grace and turning to her young friend said, “Is the dee’vil no through yet?” Mungo opened his eyes and got a hold of a kenbeck (cheese) which was lying on the table and threw it with all his strength at Kirsty’ head shouting at the same time, “You base limmer, you have spoiled the best grace that was ever said in Comrie.” Kirsty was quick and ducked and the cheese flew harmlessly over her head. She then put down the stoups and sat down at the table without uttering another word. The breakfast then proceeded as if nothing had ever happened and the young friend said later that it was one of the most enjoyable Handsel Monday breakfasts, he had ever had.

In those days the staple trade of the village was handloom weaving and work was plentiful. Napoleon’s saving grace was that indirectly he contributed to the welfare of the society as most of the woven cloth went to making uniforms for the army and the navy. Employment in this trade was good and work plentiful. Although money was scarce it was available through honest endeavour and, as today, was husbanded or squirrelled away possibly in a pillow case or in a “tall boy” drawer for a future purchase or rainy day. Some folk bought houses for themselves and these houses were quite distinct. They had two windows on one side of the main door and one window on the other. The side with the two windows contained a four-loom weaving shop and on the other side of the door the weaver and his family lived. Normally there was a garret or loft built in where the children would sleep. Others who were less careful with their earnings sometimes took to the road. No man who could find fault with them was called master!

At a displenishing sale in Glen Artney a number of weavers of the less careful type resolved to have a holiday and took the day off work. At the sale they came in contact with the “strong drink” and they had a good time, however, they soon got hungry, and decided to knock on some doors to see if the local people there would offer them a meal. At one house an old woman answered the door and asked them what they wanted and where they had come from. One wag in the party told her that they had been at a sale and were members of the Comrie Kirk Session and the reason for their call was to establish why certain people from the glen had not been attending Church as they were wont to do.

The old woman invited them in and provided them with seats and set before them the best that she had in the house of which they did ample justice. They asked her how she managed to survive away up this lonely glen and she told them that she collected eggs from the neighbouring farmers and smallholders and that she gathered nuts from the hazel bushes and took the husks from them and dried them. She also gathered juniper berries for which there was a great demand by those who wished to flavour their whisky and that these were purchased by a “cadger” who called on her occasionally.

The young weavers listened to what she had to say and were at the point of thanking her and saying goodbye when, to their surprise she produced a large, old bible and asked one of them to read a portion of it. After the reading of the Scripture she asked that some of them would pray with her. This they did including asking that a rich blessing come down on this house, and the owner, and that there would also be a plentiful supply of eggs for her to collect always.

At the close of the prayer the old lady said that the eggs would be sufficient and that she wanted only large eggs especially when they were scarce. One of the weavers said to her that smaller, hence cheaper, eggs was not part of the prayer, and with that comment the weavers left no doubt very pleased with their day. Eggs, at that time, were bought from farmers at four pence a dozen and the price in the Comrie shops was in the region of one shilling and eight pence per dozen.

This escapade was soon talked about all over the “steamie” with the story eventually coming to the ears of the elders in the Kirk Session who were not amused. The culprits were summoned to appear before the august body and kept in a group in the Church Hall before being brought in to the vestry individually to explain their conduct. When the elders were questioning one of the weavers in the vestry the door of the Church burst open and in walked a very angry old woman called Meg Stropach. Thinking she was addressing the Kirk Session members she said that she had a statement to make. One of the lads got up from his pew and told her that the assembled party would hear her statement. Meg then launched in to a bitter denunciation stating, “Jenny Jaffray ca’ed me a besom, sir.” The young man taking the pose said, “Did Jenny Jaffray call you a besom, my good woman?” “She did that, sir, “Meg replied. He then in mock addressed the other weavers and said, “Let it be known that Jenny Jaffray be called to answer for her words.” Meg burst in at that point and said, “Catch her!? She’ll no come here in a hurry.” At this all the weavers burst out laughing and were heard by the elders in the vestry. They, in turn, sent one of their party out to enquire as to what was so amusing in the house of the Lord. Hearing the story the minister and the elders rounded on the weavers and gave them such a tongue lashing that none ever forgot it, even till their dying day. They were also chastised for taking advantage of the hospitality provided by the old lady away up the glen...after all the egg merchants of Comrie had to make a wee profit!