Odds & Ends

 

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Bits that Don't fit anywhere else!

Every researcher and family historian has them. You know, all the odd bits and pieces that don't fit your work and have no specific category! Well I too have the same problem, so rather than hide them away I thought I would share some of them with you. So here goes...

A Plucky Torry Fisherman - Thomas Walker, an old fisherman of Aberdeen, is an object of great interest at Scarborough at the present time. He has just arrived there, having sailed from Aberdeen in an open boat, the keel of which is only 14 feet long. The old man, who is 70 years of age, started upon his perilous voyage nine days ago, and when passing the Forth the little craft was twice filled with water and nearly swamped. His cooking apparatus and provisions were washed overboard, and for two days and nights he was without any food. It is regarded as nothing short of a miracle by the fishermen of Scarborough that the daring voyager has reached his destination. In conversation with an "Aberdeen Journal" representative, the old man stated that about 25 years ago he made a similar voyage, but he was then accompanied by his wife. He has brought fishing tackle with him, and he intends to fish during the coming herring season. It appears that Mr Walker resides at Fore Close, Torry, where he and his wife have lived during the past four or five years. A native of Collieston, Mr Walker has nearly all his life been of a roving disposition, and has visited in his small boat nearly all the fishing stations on the east and west coasts of Scotland and the north of England.

Stonehaven Journal, June 15, 1899

 

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A Resourceful Sea Captain - Appreciation of Johnshaven Man's Services

At Lloyd's on the 25th March, Sir John Luscombe, the chairman, presented Captain Allan Hunter, commander of the steamship Australina, of London, on behalf of the underwriters, with a gold watch, bearing a suitable inscription, and a cheque for 100 as a mark of the underwriter's appreciation of the energy and resource displayed by him when the rudder of the s.s. Australina broke on August 19, 1910, in the Atlantic Ocean, 1750 miles from Cape Town.

In making the presentation, Sir John Luscombe said that the rudder shank of the s.s. Australina broke inside the lower gland in such a position as to make it impossible to effect any repairs. Captain Hunter decided to make for Cape Town under jerry rudder, and, after almost continuous work, and amidst boisterous weather, the vessel was able to proceed on August 22. She could only make three knots, and, after assistance had been refused, the permanent rudder was secured with chains under great difficulties. Several steamers were sighted, but the Australina eventually arrived at Cape Town without assistance on September 8. This, Sir John pointed out, was a fine piece of seamanship, and the underwriters were glad of an opportunity of recognising Captain Allan Hunter's services. Captain Hunter made a suitable reply. Captain Hunter is a native of Johnshaven, Kincardineshire, and is the youngest son of the late Captain Hunter, Adelaide Cottage, and brother of Captain John L B Hunter, of the s.s. Somerset, of London.

Stonehaven Journal, April 4, 1912

 

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Death of a Kincardineshire Link with Burns

Mr Alexander Burnes, cattledealer, died at his residence, 12 Belmont Road, Aberdeen, last week at the ripe age of 81 years, and by his death another of the family links with the national poet has gone. Mr Burnes retained comparatively good health, but failing strength was against his combating successfully with his last illness. Mr Burnes - who, it will be observed, retained the original spelling of the name, which is sometimes found in such forms of Burnes, Burnace, Burns, etc. - was born at the farm of Waterlair, in the Kincardineshire parish of Garvock. He was a son of Mr David Burnes, one of the Bogjordan branch of the family, who, however, died ere his son was born. His mother died a few years afterwards. The boy was then taken to live with Mr John Thomson, an uncle in the Glenbervie district, and there received his elementary education. A soldier's life had had an attraction for him, and, as a young man, he enlisted in the 74th Regiment, and sometime afterwards was despatched to South Africa, where he saw active service and won his first medal, that medal bearing the date 1853, and showing that the deceased had by that time attained the rank of sergeant. On the medal his name is spelt Burns. From South Africa he was despatched to India, where he passed through many of the stirring scenes of the Indian Mutiny, there also securing a medal. After receiving his discharge from the army in 1869, Mr Burnes came to Aberdeen, where he engaged in business as a cattle-dealer. He was well-known and highly respected by farmers and cattle breeders over a wide district of Aberdeenshire and at the city's live stock auction marts. In politics he was an ardent Conservative, and for many years was a member of the West Parish Church. Quiet in his disposition, and taking little part in public affairs, though always interested in them, Mr Burnes was nevertheless proud to be a relative of the national poet, and to have been brought up in the district  which Mr Edward, Pinnington, Montrose, in his "Burns of the North" has designated "the nursery of the race of Burnes or Burns," and Mr George H Kinnear, in his "Glenbervie, the Fatherland of Burns," has so interestingly extolled. Mr Burnes is survived by a son and two daughters.

Stonehaven Journal, Feb 13, 1908

 

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A Foe to the Evil One

One day, during a snowstorm, the Revd George More was riding from Aberdeen to a village in the vicinity of that town. He was enveloped in a Spanish cloak, and had a shawl tied round his neck and shoulders. These loose garments, covered with snow, and waving in the blast, startled the horse of a "bagman," who chanced to ride past. The alarmed steed plunged, and very nearly threw its rider, who exclaimed -
"Why sir, you would frighten the very devil!"
"I'm glad to hear that," said Mr More, "for it's just my trade."

The Book of Scottish Anecdote, 1883

 

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A Scottish Laird

Lord Gardenstone (Francis Garden) was a man of energy, and promoted improvements with skill and practical sagacity. His favourite scheme was to establish a flourishing town town upon his property, and he spared no pains or expense in promoting the importance of his village of Laurencekirk. He built an excellent inn, to render it a stage for posting, and encouraged manufacturers of all kinds to settle in the place. For the inn he provided a large volume to receive the contributions of travellers who frequented it. He required  the landlady to present this volume to the guests, and ask them to write in it during the evening whatever occurred to their memory or their imagination. In the mornings it was a favourite amusement of Lord Gardenstone to look it over. Professor Stuart of Aberdeen wrote lines as follows:-

"Frae sma' beginnings Rome of auld
Became a great imperial city,
'Twas peopled first, as we are tauld,
By bankrupts, vagabonds, banditti
Quoth Thomas: then the day may come,
When Laurencekirk shall equal Rome!"

Gardenstone was annoyed, the volume disappeared, and was never seen afterwards. His lordship had two favourite tastes: he indulged in the love of pigs and snuff. He took a young pig as a pet, and it became quite tame, and followed him about like a dog. At first the animal shared his bed; but when it became unfit for such companionship, he still allowed it to sleep in his room, on a comfortable couch formed formed of his own clothes. He died in 1793.

The Book of Scottish Anecdote, 1883

 

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Aberdeen Butter

An English gentleman supping in a Glasgow coffee-room, ordered the waiter to remove the butter on the table and bring him better. The servant replied that his master had no better, for that was Aberdeen butter; and the Englisman was proceeding to growl in very audible terms at Scottish butter in general, and Aberdeen butter in particular, when a gentleman at a neighbouring table, who later turned out to be the Laird of Culrossie, in Aberdeenshire, addressed him, saying -  "That's nae true; Aberdeen butter is as gude as e'er gaed down your ha'se!"
The consequence may be imagined; a challenge was promptly given and as readily accepted, and the parties met. In the combat, which was with the small sword, Culrossie was worsted; but, after thanking his adversary for his life, he added, "I'll say yet, that better butter ne'er gaed down a Southron's thrapple."

The Book of Scottish Anecdote, 1883

 

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Dogs in Aberdeen

The haill house dogs, messens, and whelps within Aberdeen were killed upon the streets, so that neither hound, messen, or other dog was left alive that they could see. The reason was this: when the first army came here, ilk captain and soldier had a blue ribbon band about his craig, in despite and derision thereof; when they removed from Aberdeen, some women of Aberdeen, as was alleged, knit blue ribbands about their messens' craigs, whereat their soldiers too offence, and killed all their dogs for this very cause.

The Book of Scottish Anecdote, 1883

 

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Sandy Hay, The Warlock

Sandy Hay, of Peterhead, a most ingenious tradesman, was convicted of the heinous crime of witchcraft. Hay appears to have been a fellow of considerable humour, in which he could not help indulging, even when led to the stake. Being asked by a clergyman who attended him, what made him laugh one day so much in church, he made answer - "That he saw Old Nick sitting on the corner of the highest gallery, and noting down on parchment the names of all present who were sleeping during divine service; but that the drowsy part of the audience increased so fast upon him, that he found his parchment too small to contain all their names; on which he endeavoured to stretch it with his teeth; but, losing his hold, he knocked his head with an awful thump against the wall behind him."
This ludicrous story, so far from exciting the risibility of the ghostly confessor, only confirmed the guilt, and accelerated the fate, of the unfortunate Hay.

The Book of Scottish Anecdote, 1883

 

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A Conjugal Rebuke

Doctor Kidd of Aberdeen once gave his wife money to purchase a chest of drawers, but the lady being "glamoured" with the sight of a new bonnet, invested part of the cash for it, returning home minus the drawers. On the following Sabbath she came to church late, with her new bonnet on, whereupon, on her approaching her seat, the minister audibly remarked from the pulpit: "Here comes Mrs Kidd with a chest of drawers on her head!"

The Book of Scottish Anecdote, 1883

 

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A Premature Good Wish

On one occasion an old beggar wife, on receiving a gratuity form the Rev. John Skinner, the author of "Tullochgorum," and other well-known Scottish songs, said to him, by way of thanks: "Oh, sir, I houp that you and a' your family will be in heaven the nicht." "Well, well, my woman," said he, "I am very much obliged to you; only you need not have been just so particular as to the time; there's no need of being in such a great hurry."

The Book of Scottish Anecdote, 1883

 

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A Useful Minister

The Rev. John Anderson, minister of Fochabers, had a turn for business, and was accordingly appointed by the Duke of Gordon his local factor and a county magistrate. His pluralities were thus rhymed upon:

The Rev. John Anderson,
Factor to his grace,
Minister of Fochabers,
And Justice o' the peace

The Book of Scottish Anecdote, 1883

 

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Public Clocks in Aberdeen

In the middle of the fifteenth century, the town of Aberdeen had a public clock or horologe upon the tollbooth, and in the beginning of the sixteenth century a similar clock was placed upon the church. In 1647, a person was appointed by the town council manager of the horologe, with an annual salary of 2 for his services. In the beginning of the sixteenth century there was not a mechanic in the town able to repair the clock upon the tollbooth, so it was sent to Flanders for repair, and brought back at the end of about a year; but not much improved, for Friar Alexander Lindsay was employed to make certain improvements upon it, for which he was to be allowed five marks, provided the clock was made to strike correctly.

The Book of Scottish Anecdote, 1883

 

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Aberdonian Prudence

A periodical writer, about 1812, makes the following remarks on the prudence of the Aberdonians:- "Formerly much connected with Dutchmen, as the purchasers of their staple commodity, the Aberdonians gradually acquired a little of the Dutchmen's neutrality; like them, too, looking with rather suspicious eyes on modes of life, or of business differing from those of their forefathers. This aversion to anything new has, no doubt, retarded many improvements; but it has, at the same time, been productive of some good effects. In carrying on their different branches of trade, moving slowly step by step, and seldom or never speculating beyond their capital, they have been attending any sudden change or obstruction to commerce occasioned by a declaration of war or commencement of peace. A late instance of this may be mentioned. Previous to the breaking out of the present war, the manufacture of stockings was that which was carried to the greatest extent here. These were nearly all exported to Holland; but, on the seizure of that country by the French, the trade was almost annihilated; yet there was not among the manufacturers a single failure in consequence. A better proof of sober industry cannot well be given; were it required, it might be added that the travelling agents of the English commercial houses acknowledge that in no place in the course of their ride do they meet with such ready and punctual payment as in Aberdeen. So much for keeping close to the main chance, and leaving it to the more active and turbulent spirits of the south and west to speculate in trade or in politics, to invite improvements or innovations."

The Book of Scottish Anecdote, 1883

 

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Aberdeenshire Long Ago

The houses of the common people in these parts (Aberdeenshire) are shocking to humanity, formed of loose stones, and covered with clods, which they call divots, or with heath, broom, or branches of fir: they look, at a distance, like so many black mole-hills. The inhabitants live very poorly, on oatmeal, barley-cakes, and potatoes; their drink whisky, sweetened with honey. The men are thin, but strong; idle and lazy, except employed in the chase, or anything that looks like amusement; are content with their hard fare, and will not exert themselves farther than to get what they deem necessaries. The women are more industrious, spin their own husband's clothes, and get money by knitting stockings, the great trade of the country. The common women are in general most remarkably plain, and soon acquire an old look, and, by being much exposed to the weather without hats, such a grin and contraction of the muscles as heightens greatly their natural hardness of features. I never saw so much plainness among the lower rank of females; but the ne plus ultra of hard features is not found till you arrive among the fish-women of Aberdeen.

The Book of Scottish Anecdote, 1883

 

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An Absent-Minded Professor

Professor Hamilton of Aberdeen was notorious for his absence of mind. Emerging hastily one day from the gateway of King's College, he stumbled against a cow, which was being driven past. In the confusion of the moment the professor politely raised his hat, exclaiming," I beg your pardon, madam!"
Walking, a few days afterwards, in Union Street, he happened to stumble against a lady who was walking in the opposite direction. In sudden recollection of his former adventure, he called out, in a voice by no means fraught with the former politeness, "Is that you again, you brute!"

The Book of Scottish Anecdote, 1883

 

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