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

Letters from the Distant Past -1831 - 1859

It is always interesting to study letters written in the past and the following letters are selected to give the reader an idea of some of the triumphs and trials that our forebears weathered as well as allowing us to look through a window and catch a glimpse of our village and Upper Strathearn as it was yesterday. This is a part of our heritage and gives added value to any portrait

High above St. Fillans previously known as Little Port stood a hillside clachan in Glentarken wherein resided several fairly large crofting families including many Carmichaels. The clachan was divided into Easter and Wester Glentarken and at best the people who dwelt here eked out a bare living with not many scrapings left for the pot.

Easter Glentarken (Dr. Richard Murray)


Many left with the Diaspora of 1818 on the “Curlew” bound for Canada and the remainder continued on eventually reaching a point of desperation. At this critical juncture some letters passed between Glentarken and Canada resulting in the balance of the people leaving their hillside homes for faraway places. The following two letters illustrate the despair and anguish.

Letter addressed to Mr. John Carmichael, Farmer, and Care of Revd Mr. Proudfoot, London, Upper Canada.

Glentarken, June 1, 1831

Dear Brother,

This will inform you that we are all in good health at present thank God hopping these few lines will find you the same. Your brother Peter and family are in good health your sister Margaret is very poorly more especially in the winter seasons she can hardly move, but as she is lifted. As to the news of the country you can have them more particular from Malcolm than I can state them to you in so limited a letter, you have gotten a good possession of the good (?)...better particular which will never be taken from you as your Father set before you a good example I trust you will follow his footsteps that you will give them a good education as far as your circumstance will allow and keep them in the fear of God for a good example will have more effect than anything else that you will pray with them morning and evening and teach them to pray and teach them to Remember the Sabbath day when the day come when the dead small and great must appear before God that you will be...The seas divide us from seeing one another in the face yet you are often in my thoughts and may the Lord Grant that we meet at his right hand, you will let me hear from you as often as you have an opportunity I have sent you by Malcolm McNaughton some Books. I and my family join me in compliment to you and yours


Dear Brother

I am yours truly Medear

To John Carmichael

Archibald Carmichael

new London

Fragment of a letter written in a very, steady hand


Comrie, March 24th, 1834

Dear brother, Wife and children

We received your letter about the 15 December which gave us no small pleasur to learn that you were all alive and in health for which there is ground for thankefulness to the good of all our mercies and although you are in abundance of the necessarys of life it apears that you maintain already that you have banished yourselves from gods ordinances and as you expresed yourself no dout nor is it a want which the things of time will not make up. but upon the other hand you showed cause to regoise (recognise) that you are nor banished from your...(missing)., John McLarens son in Careglen (Carroglen) is going away one Peter and their was two of the sons away before...(illegible) of theirs a son of John Stuarts it was at lochearnside&James Carmichael Lochearnside who learned the shoemaking.

Comrie Donald Carmichaels son & one Peter McIntyre from Lochearnside who learned the shoe making with James Mingas a son of Alex Stirlings and it is reported a son of Donald Galech Cowan I think all bound for Canada. As for the book you wanted it has not been printed as no man could make out the writings you may mention in your next letter what kind of hous you have and if you had furniture as good as...had in the ross what kind of Market you get for your and iff you have any.

Although parts of the letter are missing it shows that folk from the Comrie area were receiving and sending information back and forth ...although it was a very slow, and expensive, process. It also shows that others were contemplating moving across the “Pond.” Carroglen today is a quiet and lonely place. It, and and its neighbours of Balmuick, the Lurg and Tynashee, once boasted more than one hundred families. It was, as in all these small communities and pockets where people eaked out a living in Upper Strathearn, an area of weaving and sheep-rearing. Today the only sound heard on the hillside is that of bleating sheep and curlews! At times the silence is deafening! As an observation it is rather ironic that the name of the vessel which took many of our people away in 1818 was called the “Curlew.”


Perth, March 25, 1834

Dear Brother,

I take this opportunity of writing to you per Mrs. Thomson who is going out from this place to the District of Gore (Ontario) and who has taken in hand to forward this to you. We are all well at present, and we were very glad from my brother Archibald that you and your Family are well. Our trade (and every other trade) is very bad here at present, and we can see no prospect of it being any better, and I hope you will have the goodness on the receipt of this of writing us and informing us what prospects we would have in coming over to Canada, and if you would favour us with an particular account of all the Advantages and Disadvantages of the places. I hope you have not forgot your promise when you went away, of writing me a concise account of your circumstances and of the nature of the country. We never could get a proper direction (neither have we got it yet) to write to you or we would have written long ago. We only knew that you were within eight miles of London, but whether East, West, North or South, we could not tell. We wish to know if you are near any river and if (so) what is the name of the river and what Distance you are from it. Also let us know about trade, and how the Flesher (Butcher) trade would do about London or any other town, and how land can be purchased, and what money would be requisite to buy an Hundred Acres (or less) with as much of it leased as would keep a Family a year. We hope you would send us particular word about all these things. We know already what expence we would incur in going the length Niagara, but if you know how far it is to Niagara to where you are, give us a statement of the land travelling expense. Now I shal give you an account of my Family. My eldest Daughter Janet is married to a Mason and she has been in England these 9 years, she has four of a Family. John Died in Glasgow about a year ago he left four Children and we have two of them keeping they are both boys, the one is five years of age, and the other three. Peter Died in Larbert about ten years ago. Margaret is to be married in about a fortnight to a wright, Rebecca was married about a year ago to a Weaver, Andrew is at home working at thy own trade he is about 22 years of age and unmarried. Archibald is about 19 years of age and is an apprentice to a ship Carpenter at Allva, he has 2 years to serve yet, Alexander is about 14 years of age and at home. Mary is 8 years of age and is at school (she is the youngest). From your long residence in the place you will most likely have some knowledge of the different Branches of Business as well as the Farming we wish you would send us some account of that. We see from information that can be got here that something may be done in Canada, In the way of General Merchandise, and we would be glad to try any way that would be best, and I think we would be most likely to succeed in that, from our knowledge in cattle and being in a trading way here. We know that there is a great many difficulties at first in Canada, but here there is nothing else but difficulties all the year round and they are always increasing, besides I do not know what to put any of my Family to as every trade is worse than another. Dear Brother I hope you will send me a post letter directly on receiving this, if you think there is any danger of a letter miscarrying send two. I remain your affect brother

Peter Carmichael

P.S. be so good as tell me how a steady wright would do in London District, Peter Carmichael

Flesher Aisth, Stirlingshire

North Britain

Editor’s Note: Today Glentarken is still and ominously quiet with the only evidence of existence being a pile of stones. If one listens carefully in the wind one may hear the plaintiff distant cry and laughter of children playing and people talking or sometimes in the loaming one can see the fiery cross moving slowly over the hillside bringing important news. Or is it just the sound of the bleating sheep which replaced them or of the throated call and sight of a startled grouse which are the only living things there now!

Glentarken (Dr. Richard Murray)


Duncan McOwan sent the following letters to his son James in England.

Dalginross 15 Feby 1848

Dear Son,

We received your last letter and was Glade to hear that you reached hom in safety and that little Ann was nothing the worse, we felt very much for hir when Dan told us the state she was in when you reached Crieff But was Glade to hear that she was pretty brisk before you left and we hope that she is Still in Good Health and Grandmother was happy to hear that little Ann is now quiet whole and when you write will like to know how she is coming on. There is 2 or 3 cases of Smal pox in Dalginross Since you left and Missils are very deadly about Crieff one man hade 3 of his children Burried in one week. Alexr and famely are all well. D.Morison & famely are all well we have not Seen Catherine since you was hear the weather was so Stormy ever Since we hade a very heavy Storm of wind and rain which comenced on Saterday and Continued till Monday Afternoon and this morning is nothing better with a heavy blast of Snow we had word from John since you left he is well but steats that Trade is worse & worse and the people in that quarter is in a Sterving Stead a Supe Kitchen have been erected for the relife of the poorest the cotton is nothing better hear the most of all the hands are idle we are all idle since you left except Peter he got work the last week if the Steate of things continue much longer there are many who brought themselves through in a respectable manner that cannot do so now, the roof of the old house in Comrie fell in Saterday Eight days and we have ben employed in clearing it out and we have got all the wood parts of it hom Donald Sharp and Hugh Ferguson was passing when we were clearing it out and spock to them about reparing the Building they appear to be very anctious for it and if I made materials in readineys I belive they would put it up very reasonable I learned that they thought to do all that was necessary to the building in 9 or 10 days themselves I spoke to a Wright to Give me a steatment of the whole expence of the roof including doors and windows stair and partitions also studs (?) included in one word the whole Expence But have not asertained yet what it will coast we expect to hear from you as soon as convenient this leave us all well hoping it will find you Both and your little Ann the Same.

your loving father

Duncan M’Cuan


Dalginross 4 Feby 1858

Dear Son,

I belive you would be expecting to hear from us before this time I have ben Driven about thise 4 or 5 weeks past with the water of Ruchel it was thretning to Sweep us all away it Brock in on the little park at the west end of our gardin and was like to come east through the village and would have come if it had not been stoped The Fewars of Lower Dalginross hade to come forward as one man and as the work to be don was rather two hevy for ourselves and especially at this season of the year was oblidged to lett it to a Contractor for which we pay about £35 the work is now about finished we hade a prety high flood last night But did not come near us we hope the work don will Secure us at least for some time we have hade very soft weather this winter but very little snow or frost we hade a Shock of Earthquack on Monday eavning The Leard of Strowan was married yesterday to a young leady from Auchterarder there was about 50 of the tennants and fewars that Dined in Mrs Fergusons last neight on account of the marriage there was another party of the Tennants that Dined in Crieff and on account of the young lady there was another party that Dined in Auchterarder Doctor Drummond in Dalginross is getting up a fine New house Stright west about the midel of the park from Peter Gows old house Mr Buchan is the Contractoner the Building to comence as Soon as the weather will permit Tread(?) has been very flat with us this winter and no appearance of it moving away as yet I must now conclude by wishing you all a good New year and well does it become us to ask ourselves how we have Spent the year that is past and what is our resolution in time to come every day that passes bereings us nearer to Eternety this Should lead us to go to God in prayer and ask him for Jesus Christ sake to give us the Holy Spirit for each days Tempteation and that we may be kept by his Almighty power faithfull unto the end o God do thou give the Holy Spirit to both writer and reader and Bless us for Christ Sacke this leaves us in our ordenary hoping it will finde you all enjoying Good health and we hope to hear Soon from you I sent you two newspapers which I think you got.

I remain your loving Father

Duncan MCuan


Dalginross 8th Jan 1859

Dear Son,

Your last came safe to hand and were happy to hear that you were all well now I must tell you that your Mother is Nothing better But rather worse Since I wrote you last She is got very weak the Doctor called hear last friday and said her pulse was very bad She has lost all apetite for food and to all apperance is falling off very fast in my oppinion if She does not gett better soon She Cannot stand it out long She is rather worse that ordinar these three days past this is all I need Say about hir at present - She is in the hands of the Lord he can raise up from the geats of Death to life and Give hir Som measure of health and Streanth if it please him But o my earnest prayer for hir is that the Lord may raise hir up from the Geats of Spiritual Death to Spiritual life that she may be found fitted and prepaired for the coming of the Son of Man and at his Coming may She be found ready to enter in through the geats to the Celestial City and o may the Lord Give me Grace and Streanth from on high to bear with patience all my triels and Sufferings for they are of no ordinary Kind. My Son Peter left my house above 12 months ago and never wrote nor came to see how we was till about the end of last March altho he was working all the time in Streathallan and when he came hade not so much as one penny to Get Snuff were I to tell you how he Dealt with his poor pearents before he left it would astonish you this sheet of peaper could not contain the one half of what I am in truth could say and Besids you must know the care and trouble I have of Duncan all these trubles and treels will com to an end at present they ar not joyus but Greevious nevertheless they will yeild the pecable fruits of rightinouss to them who are truly Excercised. Hierby I had a letter from John the other day his wife was delivered of a son Saterday eight days he Steats that the Mother and Child are dowing well I may mention the Death of Peter McEwen Grocer he died last week. Captain McKinley Died very sudden the other day No more at present

But Remains your loving Father

Duncan MCuan


Alexander McOwan and Janet McOwan in Comrie had their son Duncan baptised on the 2nd May, 1787

John Morrison in the Mill of Ross and Catherine Ferguson had their daughter Ann baptised on the 22nd May, 1784

Duncan McOwan and Ann McOwan in Dalginross had their children baptised on the following dates:

  • Janet 24 March, 1812
  • Alexander 8 July, 1813
  • John 18 July, 1814
  • Catherine 7 April, 1816
  • Duncan 11 September, 1817
  • James 4 April, 1819
  • Peter 11 March, 1821
  • Danie l2 February, 1823
  • Ann 22 July, 1825


Author’s Notes:

Sometimes the name McOwan was changed to McCuan which was the way Duncan signed his letters whereas others took the name McCowan or McEwan. There are very few folk left in the village with the name of McCuan, McOwan, McCowan and McEwan.