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

The Fencibles

Hugh Laidir’s Feats of Strength

During the time that Napoleon was stomping over Europe pursuing his megalomaniac dream, our leaders expected that before too long he would make an attempt to conquer our island as well. Volunteers were called upon throughout the land and Comrie’s door was knocked upon and, as always, they came forward in scores. Companies were raised throughout Strathearn and the detachments were called the Fencibles.

Among those drawn to the colours was Hugh McEwan known as Hugh “Laidir” or “Big” Hughie! He was a powerfully-built man who on one occasion along with other Comrie folk attended the market in Strowan. It was at a period of time when the village people had fallen out with the Crieff people and feelings were rather on the high side...a not so unusual occurrence as the feuding had been going on since before the days of Agricola. Crieff, after all, was not known as the “Hanging” town without good reason. Several Crieff louts, who were also there, decided to pick on Hughie which showed a complete lack of intelligence. They approached him in ones and twos. Attacking Hughie from all directions they found they had met their match. He threw three to the ground all nursing aches and pains of varying degrees of severity, two others stood off to the side nursing sprained or broken arms or wrists, but still they kept coming. Hughie was enjoying himself enormously and his dander was up. He decided that he was going to stack them and called for some help from his Comrie friends. Those on the bottom of the pile had the worst time of it because as they wriggled free Hughie would pounce on them and again hurl them in to the stack. Seeing that all was lost, the Crieff lads took off and didn’t show their faces at the Strowan market for a long time to come!

Different companies of the Fencibles were brought together in a field in Dunira, outside Comrie. There they were involved in exercises, marching and drilling to and fro under the watchful eye of the gentry who had naturally assumed their positions as leaders; Lieutenants, Captains, Majors, etc. The regimental adjutant was a man called Gray and later in the day addressing the men from his horse praised their efforts and stating that with the exception of the Comrie “shottletrots, “ they had all done remarkably well. On hearing this Hughie at once unsheathed his bayonet and stepped out of the ranks muttering threats and made towards the Major with the intention of making him eat his words. The Major seeing this menacing form come towards him was startled and in his anglified voice turning his horse around, scarpered at a gallop, shouting over his shoulder something about “a breach of discipline, and that that man had no right to speak to an officer in that fashion, and it was all damned impertinence!”

The Fencibles were reserve units although later many were sent to Spain under Sir John Moore and latterly were there at the Battle of Waterloo under the “Iron Duke”, Wellington. It was common practice before the fighting started, and when at home, they would meet frequently and march beside each other like detachments of regiments. Every Parish in the country had to provide a certain number of recruits for garrison duty. Lots were established and all were made to put their names in to a ballot and those drawn were allocated duties of one sort or another. Substitutes were allowed if it was inconvenient for them to serve their time for reasons such as they were married men with families or it was harvest time or it was just inconvenient and they could not just up and leave. The drilling was severe and discipline strictly enforced with the cat o’ nine tails always close to hand in a locked drawer in the barracks.

French prisoners of war were sent to Perth where they were confined as well as looked after. Many were quite ingenious and they were quite industrious and made articles like baskets and boxes. They were allowed on the town out on a system of parole one or two days a week and would display the articles they had made and sell them to interested parties. On one occasion two lads from the Comrie Company, who came from Glen Lednock were strolling around a party of prisoners and looking at the wares was startled by one of them who addressed them in broad Scots, “An’ whaur dae ye come from?” he asked. One of them said that they were from the Parish of Comrie. The Frenchman then asked which part of the Parish to which they replied, “from Glen Lednock.” “Och,” said the Frenchman, “We’el, ye’ll ken whaur Cracken a-Hurrie and Cairn Rauchlin (two local hills) are, I expect?” and the lads said that they did. They talked together for a while after that and then the Frenchman had to go back to his quarters. On the following day the lads tried to meet up with the French prisoner because they thought he knew too much about Glen Lednock and the district and that he may have been a spy, but they were unable to find the man.

Another Comrie man, a joiner, was working in Edinburgh at the Leith docks when a party of French prisoners came marching off a vessel. As they marched along one of them put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a Masonic apron which he waved aloft. There was a great crowd turned out on this occasion and when they saw the emblem he, and the column, were showered with coins thrown by the onlookers from those on the pavement as well as those who were at their windows. The prisoners scrambled to pick them up and many, no doubt, would be pleased by their haul!

After the war was settled and Napoleon ensconced in St. Helena, a kind of normality returned to our village which, as will be seen, surrounded us in sadness and silence. However, the killing was now over. Those who had served and followed the colours were entitled to a small pension for the services they had rendered. Payday, or the day the “coo calves,” was a great event. The Comrie men would get all dressed up in their finery, complete with campaign medals, and marched in lines of columns to the pay office in Crieff. The paymaster was a retired officer and must have looked at these lads with some pride. The payout was always orderly. Afterwards they would gather with others and recount tales of derring do and then proceed in small groups on their way back home to Comrie. There was only one major obstacle in their way, the “Burnhouse”. The “Burnhouse” lay midway between Crieff and Comrie, and was a famous half-way house with a fine choice of ales and wines; an absolute must to visit to freshen the thirsty pallet. So, by the time they reached the village many were lighter by a few shillings than when they had started out from the paymaster’s office! It is even said though, but at a whisper, that several became inebriated and had to be helped home by their comrades!

The Burnhouse now “Brain Croft” Today