Reminiscences Of Kincardine

An address delivered by Charles Brown, F.S.A., Scot at a re-union of natives of Kincardine resident in Glasgow held on 14th March 1902

To Sir James Sivewright, K.C.M.G., L.L.D., of Tulliallan. This little sketch is respectfully inscribed by Charles Brown.

Reminiscences Of Kincardine.

Glasgow Kincardine-on-Forth re-union. A large gathering of the natives of Kincardine and District Resident in Glasgow was held in the City Templars Hall, Ingram Street, on Friday, 14th March 1902.

Mr Charles Brown, J.P., factor for the Marquis of Zetland, and for twelve years factor at Tulliallan presided, being accompanied to the platform by the Rev. John Ogilvie, Cumbernauld, Mr W.G. Gardiner, Glasgow, Mr William Gray, Glasgow, Mr Robert Morgan, Govan; Mr MacDonal George, Glasgow, Ex-Ballie Williamson, Govan, Mr George Drysdale, Chairman, and Mr Allan Scotland, Secretary of the Committee.

In opening the proceedings the Chairman, after expressing the pleasure he felt at meeting so many old friends, and his appreciation of the honour the Committee had done him in asking him to occupy the chair said – I think the Committee are to be congratulated on the successful issue of their labours. The large gathering before me is evidence of the fact that:-

“We canna forget the dear auld hame,
gae wander where we will;
like a sunny beam o’ a summers dream
it lingers near us still”

and that the idea of the formation of an association to foster the friendly relations of natives of Kincardine and District in the west country has received your cordial approval, and only requires capable direction to attain a complete and permanent success. In securing the support of two such distinguished men as the Earl of Elgin and Kincardine and Sir James Sivewright as patrons, the association is to be specially congratulated. We all know the services Lord Kincardine has rendered to the empire by the distinguished way in which he fulfilled the duties of Viceroy of India, but perhaps few of you know so well as myself of the unwearied devotion his lordship gives to local and country work and it was a pleasure to me when in the Fife County Council to notice the interest he always took in the place from which his older title is derived. Of the new lord of the manor we have not had a long experience but, from what Sir James has already done, we can with confidence look to the future and encourage the hope that under his auspices Kincardine will soon renew the activity and prosperity for which she was formerly famous.

In considering a subject for the address which, with considerable apprehension, I suspected I would have to deliver, it seemed to me that I could do no better than give you a few facts and figures and the old history of the town and district and while I have no doubt I will be unable to say much that may be new to the older members of the audience, it may be a pleasure to them to have their memories refreshed, while some of the facts I have to submit to you may be of interest to the younger generation and encourage feelings of regard and affection for the district to which I am sure we are all proud to belong.

It is difficult to dissociate Kincardine from the parish in which it is situated and from the adjoining parish of Culross, of which it once formed a part and I am confident you will excuse me if my remarks are not entirely confined to the town alone.

Referring in a very few words to the district generally, I may say that I have no doubt it was well known to the Romans about 1800 years ago. Apart from the fact that the great Roman wall, situated only five miles away on the other side of the river, must, in the clear and smokeless atmosphere of that time, and to the fresh eyesight of men living an open air life, have been quite visible. There is indisputable evidence of the residence of the Romans in the parish within little more than a mile from the town to the north and close to the Overton Lodge, an extensive Roman cemetery was discovered when making the approach to the castle and other remains have been found at different periods at Damend and on the farm of Newraw close to the east side of the town.

About four hundred years later the great pilgrimage from the district to the shores of the Clyde may be said to have commenced. It may not have occurred to you that in coming patron saint on the solemn authority of tradition we are informed that St. Mungo, who was born at Culross in 514, was told by an angel that he must leave Culross and his beloved master, St. Serf and that a great work of conversion was destined for him in the west country. He accordingly started on his journey and having travelled up the bank of the Forth for a considerable way, till he arrived near the spot where it is now joined by the Teith, he crossed over by dividing the waters, as Moses did those of the red sea, leaving St. Serf, who had unavailingly followed him, lamenting on the northern bank. I haven’t heard, ladies and gentlemen, that any of the later pilgrims had angelic guidance, or have attained the same eminence as St. Mungo – you couldn’t all, of course, become patron saints – but I think his example is encouraging and may lead you to strive after the very highest positions attainable in the western metropolis.

The next event of local interest of which we have any knowledge is the invasion by the Danes, whose camp at the side of the moor dam is still in evidence, together with the standard stone on Bordie Moor. As you probably remember, the battle of Bordie, in which great slaughter on both sides is said to have taken place, but which appears to have been of an indecisive nature, was fought in 1038 and the echoes of the tumalt must have rolled over the forest which covered a great part of the district at that time.

Coming down to 1304 we find another set of invaders in the district, as in that year Edward the first wintered at Dunfermline and from thence addressed a letter regarding the occupancy of the castle of “Tollyalwyn”, which is spoken of as a stronghold then held by the English. About this time also I have no doubt Wallace was often in the district, as the Torwood, a frequent retreat of his, was immediately on the other side of the Forth and in Hamilton’s History it is stated that going from Perth in 1298 I think:-

“By Stirling Bridge to march he did not please,
for Englishmen hum there as thick as bees:
but over Airth they ferried hastily
and lurked in a private place hard by”.

In Bishop Leslie’s history of Scotland, written in 1578, I find a reference to a “Kinkairne” and as it is traditionally reported that the district at one time was entirely under forest, it is quite likely that our Kinkairne is referred to but whether it is meant, or the parish of Kincardine further west, the reference, which gives a very graphic description of the original wild cattle of Scotland may be excused and I make no apology for submitting it. Bishop Leslie says: –

“In this wood (Torwood) was nocht owlie kye, botoxne and bules snawquhyte with a mane of a lyone. They mairover war sa cruel and wylde that from mankynde they abhored in sik a sorte that quhateuir thing the haundes of men had twechit or the air of their mouthes had blawn upon, or cudit as we speik, from al sik they absteined mony dayes thairefter. Farther this oyx or bull was sa bauld that nocht owly in his yre or quhen he was provoked walde he ouircum horsemen, but cuin feirit he nothing, naither tyred me commonlie all men to invade baith with hornes and feit, ye the dogs quiles with us ar maist violent he regardet nocht, but walde clate (tear) him with his cluifes or kaithe him on his hornes. His flexhe was all girssillie, bot of a trimtaist. He was afortymes a frequent beist in this too wood, but now consumed through the gluttonie of men only in three places is left, in the park of Strieuling, the wod of Cummirnalde and of Kinckairne”.
Click here for a translation of this paragraph.

I may perhaps here be allowed to make some reference to the old castle of Tulliallan held in veneration and better known to the boys of the last generation as the “Auld Place”. As I have just said, the castle was a stronghold in 1304 and afterwards it came into the possession of the Edmonstones. The co-heiress of this family, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir James Edmonstone of Edmonstone (who was great-grandson of King Robert II. The Tulliallan property having been gifted to the Edmonstone family by Earl Douglas in 1402 and confirmed to Sir James by Royal Charter in 1456) having married Sir Patrick Blackadder, younger son of Andrew of Thatilk, in Berwickshire in the fifteenth century and grandson of the redoubted borderer, Cuthbert Blackadder of Blackadder Castle, “Chieftain of the South”. The fate of this Sir Patrick Blackadder, who is described as a man of chivalry and “And Great Hunter and Halker”, is characteristic of the time. The homes of Wedderburn having forcibly and unlawfully become possessed of his ancestral estate of Blackadder in Berwickshire he raised a process of law against them and under the pretence of submitting the dispute to friends, to have all difference settled in an amicable way, the Homes appointed a day to meet Sir Patrick in Edinburgh, Thither accordingly he repaired without suspicion of treachery, having received warrant of safe convoy from Archibald Earl of Angus, under the great seal and accompanied by a small retinue of domestics, fifteen or sixteen horsemen who usually rode in his train, but was clandestinely waylaid by a body of fifty horses that lay in ambush near the Dean within a mile of Edinburgh. Being well mounted he made a gallant charge and broke through the ambuscade, killing several with his own hand; but, over powered with numbers, he fled, taking the road towards the West Port fiercely pursued. On approaching the city he was surprised by a fresh troop of horses secretly posted in a hollow, where St. Cuthberts Church, now stands. These joining in pursuit, he made speed to gain the entrance by the Nether Bow or the Canongate, but before he could reach the ford of the loch a party on foot sallied out from another place of concealment to intercept him. Finding himself beset on all lands he ventured to take the North Loch – now the site of Prince’s Street Gardens – near to the place called Wallace’s Tower on the Castle Brae, when his horse becoming embogged, he and all his attendants were basely murdered, this was in the year 1526. It is especially interesting to a Glasgow-Kincardine audience to know that a son of Sir Patrick’s was the celebrated Robert Blackadder, created Archbishop of Glasgow in 1488, who built the south transept of the Cathedral of the city. In 1530 the family must have produced “a pear of a different tree”, as in that year John Blackadder, the Laird of Tulliallan, was beheaded for the murder of the Abbot of Culross, who had offended him by letting some lands over his lead to Erskine of Balgownie.

In 1568 an order is made by the Scottish Privy Council denouncing certain persons as rebels against the king and regent Murray and ordering their strongholds to be searched. Among these is “John Blacater of Tullyallan, the Castell, Tour and Fortalice of Tullyallan”.

In 1608 another Laird seems to have had a little difference with local powers ecclesiastical, as in that year he was fined 500 merk’s for striking in the church the Rev. Hendry Forrester, minister of the parish, with “his Gluiffis upon the face”. As the old parish church at the head of the Kirk Brae was only built in 1675 this assault must have taken in the church at the Overton on the ruins of which the mausoleum of the Keith family now stands. The last proprieter of the name was Sir John who was born in 1596, he was created by Charles I. A baronet of Nova Scotia and was in the order of his patent which is dated 18th July 1626, the fourth Knight Baronet in Scotland, he was a man of profuse and expensive habits and his fine estate, which with its lime works, saltpans, etc., yielded a yearly rental of 36,000 Merks, he squandered away, leaving scarcely anything but an empty title to survive his prodigality. His effects being seized he fled to the continent and appears to have been in the French Service in 1651. His lady, Elizabeth Graham daughter of the Earl of Menteith, had an annuity of 360 Merks and appears to have resided in Tulliallan Castle till 1662. After remaining for five generations in the family the Barony of Tulliallan, well on in the 17th century, passed into the lands of Sir George Bruce, whose son, Sir Edward became in 1647 the first of the Earls of Kincardine and in the end of the same century it was purchased with their other domains by Colonel John Erskine of Carnock, whose family is now represented by the genial and much esteemed sergeant-at-arms of the House of Commons, Mr. Erskine of Cardross. In the last years of the 18th Century in 1798, the estate was purchased from the Black Colonel’s successor by Admiral Lord Keith, whose distinguished naval career has been well written by Mr. Allardyce and should be known to every native of Kincardine. As you doubtless know, Lord Keith was twice married – first, to Miss Margaret Mercer of Aldie; and secondly, to Miss Thrale, Dr. Johnson’s “Queenie”. By his first wife the admiral had a daughter Margaret best known to the last generation as Lady Keith who married the Conte De Flahault and whose elder daughter married the Marquis of Lansdowne and became the mother of the present Marquis, the distinguished politician, who possessed the estates till they were acquired by Sir James Sivewright last year.

By his second wife Lord Keith had also a daughter the late Lady William Osborne Elphinstone, to whom, in default of male issue by her step-sister, Lady Keith, the estates passed for her lifetime.

Before leaving the old castle and the family of the Blackadders, I may say that the castle seems to have been in a ruinous condition for a long period probably over two hundred years, as in MacFarlane’s “Geographical Collection”, written in 1722, I find this reference to it:-

“In the great hall of Tulliallan Castle, near Kincardine, there formerly hung suspended from one of the bosses of its richly sculptured roof an ancient bronze kettle, of the most unusual form, which bore the name of ‘The Ladies Purse’. It was traditionally reputed to be filled with gold and the old family legend bore that so long as it hung there the castle would stand and the Tulliallan family would flourish. Whether the Blackadders ever had recourse to the treasures of the Ladies Purse in their hour of need can no longer be known, for the castle roof has fallen and the old race who owned it is extinct. The ancient cauldron, on the safety of which the fate of the owners was believed to hang, is preserved. It was dug out of the ruins by a neighbouring tenant and is still regarded with the veneration due to the fatal memorial of an extinct race. It measures 8 and a quarter inches in diameter by 5 and one eighth inches in height as it stands and is simply what would be called by antiquarians a Roman Camp Kettle and by Scottish Danes a Brass Kail Pot.

I may say that personally I have never been able to find any trace of this kettle or its last owner, who I expect would be Mr. Morrison of Hawkhill, but it would be most interesting to know that it is still in existence.

Referring to the Castle in their “Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland”, Messrs McGibbon & Ross say:- “It has been designed as a pleasant residence rather than a place of strength and thus shows more elegance and taste in its architecture than is usual in the great but gloomy castles of the time. This is well illustrated by the fine vaulting of the ground floor, which surpasses anything of the kind to be met within a similar building in Scotland”.

I am not sure when the castle passed out of the lands of the Blackadders, but probably the last appearance of any of the family in the parish was in 1670 when a descendant of the old house, Mr. John Blackadder the famous covenanting preacher, must have passed close to its walls. On the 18th June of that year Mr. Blackadder preached at a conventicle at the Hill of Beath, near Dunfermline and we are quaintly informed in Aikman’s “Persecution” that:-

“Afterwards it not being thought fit that he should stay on that side of the water, he rode up three or four miles expecting to get the boat at Limekilns but that having gone over with the others at the meeting before, he rode forward towards Kingcairn, where they again essayed to cross at Hoggan’s Neuck but the boat being at the other side they were forced to rise on the Stirling”.

A rather pathetic picture this, the stern old covenanter fleeing, if not from justice, at least from the terrors of the law, and passing the place where he had doubtless of ten played in his boyish days!

Passing to more modern history we find that the parish of Tulliallan consisted originally of the Barony of Tulliallan only in 1673 the Barony of Kincardine Lands of Lurg, Sands and Kellywood were disjoined from the parish of Culross at the instance of the Early of Kincardine, with concourse of the King’s advocate and solicitor and the recommendation of the presbytery.

From an entry in the parish register of date the 8th August 1686, to the effect that “No sermon here (Tulliallan) because the minister was at Kincardine in the time of the administration of eucharist there”, it would seem that Kincardine had hardly then become absolutely assimilated with Tulliallan and from an entry in the following year 24th July 1687, of an outlay, “Item for morning and four hours drinks to the wrights 000,18,08” I am afraid the session did not consist of strict abstainers.

Of the early history of Kincardine I must confess that I am unable to say a great deal. The probability is that the town originally commenced on the higher ground on the north side and gradually worked its way out towards the river as ground was reclaimed by deposit of ashes of the coal consumed in the manufacture of salt for which the district was famous. As I have already quoted from MacFarlane the old castle stood close to the sea side and it is a tradition that the lane shot near Blackhall was originally called the launch shot and that vessels built in an adjoining dockyard were from thence launched into the river . Whether or not this is the case, it is an undoubted fact that a large part of the modern town must have been reclaimed from the sea and is built on beds of coal ashes. Taking the area so composed as extending to only ten acres or 50,000 square yards and the depth of the ashes at six feet (and I personally have seen them exposed at least 3 times that depth) we arrive at the fact that something like 1,500,000 tons of coal must have been consumed to furnish the foundations for a considerable part of the town. While this amount is trifling compared to the output of modern pits, it shows that taking the coals exported into account and considering the period and appliances available a relatively enormous trade must have been carried on in mining alone.

The manufacture of salt would be concurrent with the coal mining and I am disposed to think that they must have been in operation in the sixteenth, if not fifteenth century. We have rather tragical proof of the existence of these industries in 1619, as in that year, according to Pitcairn’s “Criminal Trials”:-

“Patrick Cowie in Kincardine, Johnne Dow his servant, Johnne Anderson, Gordiner Thair and David Miller, Salter in Easter Kincardine, were tried for taking and keeping of umquhile Thomas Davidson, Lynd and servant to Alexander Leask in porter, be the space fifteene dayes in private carcere within the said Patick Cowie’s house and theirfra carrying him to the pit of Tulliallane quair through want of intertenement he famished and died of hunger and remanent crymes contenit in the letteres”.

I am sorry I am unable to tell you of the fate of Mr. Cowie and his friends or the punishment they received, if any, but I am confident that the “Porter” alluded to was situated at the extreme east end of Damend and I have a suspicion that the pit of Tulliallane was a shaft inside the old castle, about 18 feet deep by 6 feet diameter, that I had cleared out some years ago.

MacFarlane, writing in 1722, says:-

“The parish of Tullyallan in the shire of Perth hath to the E.N.E. the parish of Culross 2 miles distant, in the N.W. and N. the parish of Clackmannan about three miles distant (which is the march betwixt the shire of Perth and Clackmannan) on the south the river Forth where are excellent good salt made in great quantities, also very good coal in this parish. In this parish is the town of Kincardine made up mostly of salt pans and the houses of those that are employed about them”.

At one time there were 35 salt pans in existence, but these has decreased in number till about 1750, when there were only 23 and I suppose the last traces of the old “Bucket Pats” would vanish about 100 years later. Personally I do not remember seeing any of them, but I have doubt some of the audience will recollect the remains of the last of them which I believe stood on the Ferry Green nearly opposite the Howff and close to the railway station.

Of the other industries for which the town seems to have been famous, I may specially refer to shipping, shipbuilding, stone quarrying and fishing and a paper on Kincardine would be incomplete without some reference to its famous Ferry. According to the old statistical account there was no shipping of any consequence belonging to the port in the beginning of the 18th century, there being then only five boats from 10 to 20 tons burden, these were employed in carrying salt to Leith and importing from thence wood and iron for the use of the salt pans and in the lime trade. But after some ship-carpenters had come to settle in it , the spirit of shipbuilding prevailed so much that in 1740 they had 30 vessels from 15 to 60 tons. In 1745 several of these were employed in government service. Fullarton, in his “Gazatteer of Scotland”, published in 1843, states that the port of Kincardine, with the exception of Leith, was the most considerable on the Forth. As far back as 1786 it had 91 vessels of aggregately 5461 tons an excess of Alloa of the same date of 200 tons and more that half of the tonnage of Leith in that year. In 1830 when prosperity of the place seems to have reached its zenith, there were upwards of fifty shipowners in it and in 1839 there existed a Marine Insurance Association, having a capital of £70,000. In 1842 the tonnage of vessels belonging to the town was about 9000, the capital invested being estimated at £108,000. While ships belonging to the port sailed all over the world, to the East and West Indies, the Brazils and Australia, probably the bulk of the trade, at least at one time, was with the Mediterranean and the Baltic and I have heard regretful allusions made to the time when the Baltic traffic being closed by ice the ships were laid up for the winter along the shore and the crews being all at home the place was full of life and everything went “as merry as a marriage bell”.

The shipbuilding, as I have already indicated, appears to have commenced previous to 1740. In 1786 there were nine vessels on stocks at one time and about 1815 from 12 to 15. They seem to have been built for all trades, for the East Indian trade as well as the Greenland Fishery and as I have already mentioned some of them had the honour of being employed in government service in 1745. The last ship would be built about thirty years ago, the introduction of iron shipbuilding and the want of railway facilities being fatal to the continuation of the industry.

The memories of these old industries have been long kept green in the town by such name as the Salters Row, Excise Street and the Old Girnal, the Horn, the Bay and the Dardanelles and others which I have no doubt will occur to some of my hearers.

In his “Fringes of Life” Mr. Geddes tells us that “wide was once the fame of the close-grained marble – like sandstone of Longannet and Blair. Old Drury Lane was built of it and in the seventeenth century the Dutch are said to have sent Hitler for the stone used in the town house of Amsterdam”.

At a later period it supplied material for the erection of the Royal Exchange, the Infirmary and the Register Officer in Edinburgh and nearly all the buildings in its own neighbourhood. That an extensive export trade was carried on in freestone is evident from the remains of old piers at Longannet, some of which were a few years ago exposed and used in the repair of the river embankments.

These embankments are themselves worthy of a passing notice. The west embankment was completed in 1823, measuring over 200 yards in length and costing £6,100, reclaiming from the sea 152 acres. The east embankment cost over £14,000, was completed in 1839, reclaimed 214 acres and measures 3040 yards long. With regard to these works I may be allowed to say that it is fortunate they were carried out when they were, as with present cost of labour and the low price of grain it would never have paid to have undertaken them at the present day.

The cruive or “Crae” fishing seems at one time to have attained considerable proportions. The fishing season extended from the month of August till the beginning of March and in lucky years, such as that of 1783, it was computed that fish to value of £1,000 Sterling or upwards were caught. At Kincardine there were about the end of last century 61 Craes, at Botany Bay, a station half way between Kincardine and Longannet 35 and at Longannet 83 – altogether 179 Craes. It is reported that:-

“In the darkness and gloom of winter and even amidst all the horrors of the tempest, the fishing of the cruives exhibits a very gay and enlivening scene, men and woman of all ages and in different companies resorting to them and carrying lamps of flaming charcoal which are seen at a distance through the dark, moving in all directions accompanied with the mixed cries of emulation, merriment and hope”.

In MacFarlane’s “Collection”, to which I have already referred, it is stated that:-

“In 1722 there is a very remarkable (missing word) here great quantities of sprats known here by the name of garvies which by reason of their great number are very serviceable to the county round for 5 or 6 miles” and which he described as a very good small fish, with which I think we will all agree. The fishing seems to have received a serious blow by the pollution of river during the reclamation of Blair Drummond moss, but in any case the Craes, the last of which some of you may remember as having been stationed at a short distance north of the ferry pier, would have been abolished by the Fishery Act prohibiting the existence of fixed engines in the river.

Mr. Beveridge, in his “History of Culross and Tulliallan”, to whom I have to acknowledge my indebtedness, informs us that the kirk session seems to have been greatly exercised by the perverse conduct of many of the parishioners in insisting upon using the Creases on Sunday. At a session meeting held on 3rd January 1699.

David Wannan and John Turcan, two of the elders, reported that they had waited on Lord’s Night at the Croves with design to have kept the from being fished, but about 10 ‘o’ clock at night there came 40 or 50 persons, so that they found it impossible to hinder them and while endeavouring to do so the rabble threatened to throw them into the sea.

As the Civil Authorities declined to interfere, the only remedy left to the session was to excommunicate the evil-doers and this, they finally resolved to do, but it is probable the very fact of its being forbidden occupation gave it an additional zest and that as the prosecution ceased, the practice of sabbath desecreation in reference to this matter fell also into abeyance.

Whether there was a regular ferry when Wallace crossed the river in 1298 I am unable to say, but it is quite evident that it was in operation in 1670, when Mr. Blackadder essayed to cross. Prior to the railway era, it was the Grand Ferry Station between Fife and Kinross on the one hand and all the South-West of Scotland on the other and in its day must have been an institution of great importance.

Before the introduction of auction marts and the extension of railway facilities large numbers of horses, cattle and sheep were annually conveyed across the river to Falkirk Tryst and the regular carriage of the stage coaches, carriers carts and ordinary country traffic must have kept the two steamers that used to cross every ten minutes quite busy enough. The new ferry piers were built in 1826 and 1827 and of so much importance was the traffic that at one time the Feuing of the farm of Higginsneuck on the south side of the ferry was contemplated, a regular plan of streets being drawn up.

While Kilbagie Distillery actually stood on the Clackmannan side of the parish march, I think we may regard it, as we do its successor, the Forth Paper Mills, as a local industry of the time. A hundred years ago, according to Mr. Beveridge, it was the most extensive distillery in Scotland, producing more than 3,000 tons of whiskey annually , for which upwards of 30,000 imperial quarters of grain were used up, supplying with food about 7,000 cattle in its outhouses and keeping in cultivation in the neighbourhood for its exclusive use about 850 acres. The greater portion of what are now the grass parks of Tulliallan were in the tenancy of the distillery and one of the in which a great number of pigs is said to have been kept is still known as “soo” park. Burns has spoken of the “Dear Kilbagie”, an appellation which, however, is only to be understood as one of affection, seeing that in those days the whiskey produced here was retailed at a penny a gill, so that it was an inestimable boon to his own “Jolly Beggars”, who could thus enjoy at Poosie Nancy’s Hostelry the happiness of getting Blin’ Fou’ for fourpence. About 1818 another distillery of considerable dimensions existed at Blackhall and one near the present established church – the house adjoining the latter, now occupied by tenant of Burnbrae Farm as the farmhouse, being still known as the Distillery House.

I am able merely to allude to an institution that existed in Kincardine in 1782 – The Farming Banking Company – of which I have a note for £1.10/- in my possession, I can give you no further information about it, but for appearance I may say the note would not sham the Governor and Company of the Bank of England itself.

Another interesting document I have in my possession is the Voters Roll of Clackmannanshire for 1832. It is interesting to know that in the whole constituency of that year there were only 491 voters, of whom 84, or one-sixth, were in Tulliallan Parish, Alloa only having 173. It is rather depressing to compare the rolls applicable to the two places at the present day, as while Alloa has now 2603 voters, or fifteen times more than it had in 1832. Tulliallan has only quadruples its proportion, having at the present time only 379 voters.

It may interest you and will not I hope unduly depress you, to know the population of the town in the decades since 1801:-

  • In 1801 The Population was 2556
  • In 1811 The Population was 2950
  • In 1821 The Population was 3314
  • In 1831 The Population was 3306
  • In 1841 The Population was 2875
  • In 1851 The Population was 2697
  • In 1861 The Population was 2169
  • In 1871 The Population was 1983
  • In 1881 The Population was 1985
  • In 1891 The Population was 1821
  • In 1901 The Population was 1675

From this you will see that at no time within the last century has the population stood at a lower figure and that it is now practically less by half than it was in 1821. But we have this consolation that what Kincardine has lost other places – I need only instance this meeting of Kincardine natives here – have gained. We know however, that it is always darkest before dawn and I think we are entitled to hope that with its great natural advantages, the best roadstead in the Firth of Forth – an anticipation revival of its coal trade ( from the ashes of which it may be said to have originally emerged) and with a man like the present Lord of the Manor at the head of affairs its original prosperity may soon again return.

In bringing this somewhat incomplete and disconnected papaer to a close I am aware that I have introduced some uninteresting details and omitted others of greater importance, but it would be impossible to exhaust the subject in a single paper without unduly taxing the patience of any audience. On the eminent men who have been connected with it, from the Erskines, who founded the Secession Church, to the one of the greatest chemists of our own day, professor Dewar and on the old characters of the place – if I may mention them in the same breath – such as Peggy Tam, Dollar Watt, Mary Telfer, the Gentle Lammie, Scroggy Jock, Health Rab, Besom Neddy and Nancy, not to mention a host of others, separate papers might be read, on the smaller estates that formerly existed as separate properties, such as Burnbrae, Blawlowan, the Keir with its famous well, the east park or Kincardine House, anciently the property of the Callanders, much interesting information should be forthcoming. The churches and churchyards, the schools and schoolmasters, the lakie ties and the gallant steamship “Kent”, the fair and the baron bailies; such name places as Craigieman, the Burgess Brig and Callerten, Meyiston and the Praybrae, all furnish material for investigation and rumination. Its original connection with Perthshire and its curious political connection with Clackmannan and otherwise with Fife, a sort of neither flesh, fowl, nor good red herring position, all merit reflection and I am sure numerous other interesting details must occur to most of my audience.

The subject is as I have said inexhaustible and I would respectfully suggest for the consideration of this association whether one of its objects should not be to secure what information is now available and collect it in permanent form. In this connection I deplore the death of a good friend of mine, the late Mr. Duncan Wright, whose loss must have been regretted by many of you, I often urged Mr. Wright, who had a perfect knowledge of Kincardine and its folk with all their ramification, to commit his reminiscences to writing and I am certain he could have made a most interesting and valuable book on the subject. Amongst you there must be many who know the same facts and have heard the same stories, and I would strongly recommend you in the interest of the old town either to commit what you know to writing, or communicate it to someone who will do so. Anyone who possesses a book bearing on the subject, or who remembers the old traditions of the place. The Press-Gang, the Smuggling, the Resurrection Times for instance – should make notes and hand them to the secretary for the use and benefit of coming generations.

The following address was not prepared with a view to publication but, as a desire has been expressed for it’s preservation in a permanent form I have willingly agreed to allow it to be printed. As it may interest many of their descendants and form a register of the residenters of the time, I have added the list referred to of the Parliamentary Voters between 1832 and 1850 when – or perhaps shortly after – Kincardine may be said to have been at its best; and by the kindness of my friend Mr. Andrew Bowie, I have been able to add the sederunt of the first meeting of the Parocial Board in 1845 and a state of Poor Fund for 1841, which are interesting records of a by-gone institution.C.B.

Dundas Lodge,
By Falkirk.

December 1902

Note: many spelling mistakes in this document are faithful copies from the actual document. These may or may not reflect accepted spellings at the time the document was prepared.

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