Taken from
Issue Number 92 Autumn 2022
issue92coverSmall (176K)
Cover illustration:
Mull of Kintyre and Lighthouse, c 1866,
from the sketchbook of Captain T. P. White in possession of John C Cunningham


Three Campbeltown Scotts
Angus Martin

The following biographical sketches are from my work-in-progress, Kintyre Families, and the sources contained within the original text have been removed.

Dr Joseph Scott, who died in 1939 at 'Dana', Virginia Water, Surrey, had been the leading ophthalmic surgeon in Iran and was honoured by the Shah. After a basic education at Millknowe School, he became an apprentice in Dr John Cunningham's druggist's shop in Campbeltown. Resolving, however, to become a doctor himself, he attended evening classes in town and then went to Glasgow University, where he graduated M.B., C.M. in 1894. After a period as medical officer of health in Basra, on the Persian Gulf, he returned to Britain for post-graduate courses and then established himself as surgeon to the Royal Hospital, Tehran. He mastered the Farsi language, travelled widely in the country, and, in the course of his work, 'acquired a unique influence in Iranian government circles' and a 'knowledge of political intrigues denied to most Europeans'. At a time when Russia, Germany and Britain were competing for influence in the region, his insights were valued at the British Legation, to which he was surgeon. He was doubtless the 'Dr John Scott' who donated 'Babylonian tablets' to Campbeltown Museum in 1902. His father, William, was a farm servant in Dalrymple Parish, Ayrshire, when he married Agnes McMillan in Campbeltown in 1853; in Census 1871, he was a fisherman in Shore Street with Agnes and five children, of whom Joseph, at eleven months, was the youngest. Dr Scott's wife, Sarah Jeffrey, died in Edinburgh in 1921.

His brother William was killed on 19 October 1897 at Busoga, Uganda, by 'Sudanese mutineers' and 'Mohammedan Buganda', while engineer of a steam launch 'plying Lake Victoria Nyanza'. The boat had been 'taken out by him in pieces' and reassembled. He had set out from Mombasa in September 1896 with seven or eight hundred 'native porters' and was 'well supplied with guns, revolvers and ammunition'.

In 1933, Robert Scott, a sportswriter with the Sunday Post, began reporting football matches on 'the wireless'. In 1934, he joined the Daily Record as its 'leading football writer'. His by-line, 'Captain Bob', derived from his army rank in the First World War. He was born in 1891 in Campbeltown to Robert Scott, Greenock-born painter, and Catherine McVicar, daughter of Donald, tailor in Campbeltown, and Eliza McIntyre. His father died when Robert was three years old, and his mother and her young family were forced on to the poor roll. Robert Sr. had gone to Glasgow on 3 December 1894 to work on the S.S. Refugio, which had been launched by the Campbeltown Shipbuilding Company and lay at James Watt Dock. He began work that same day, fell twenty feet down a hatch and died the following day in Greenock Infirmary.

A copy of his publication is on the internet

Captain White: Ubiquitous Survey Sapper
John C. Cunningham

Thomas Pilkington White (1837-1913) is most famous for the publication of two fine volumes of archaeological sketches, the first covering the district of Kintyre, published in 1873, followed two years later by a companion volume covering Knapdale and Gigha. The research, writing and publication of both volumes took place between 1864 and 1874, for the greater part of which decade he was serving as an officer in the Royal Engineers stationed in Scotland. From accounts of the time, it is clear that he intended further volumes to be produced covering all of Argyll, but these never materialised, and he may even have had ambitions of working and publishing further afield.1

During a long and distinguished military career, he never returned to this work. The fact that his work caused considerable controversy at the time might go some way to explaining his reluctance to compile any further publications in this field. His two volumes have become much loved and respected contributions to history. Since little appears to be known about the author, this short article attempts to fill a biographical gap and place his work in context, both in terms of its mixed reception and the judgement of subsequent historians as to its value.2

Thomas White was born in Cheltenham in 1837, the fourth son of Thomas White, who was a senior official in the East India Company. He was educated at Cheltenham and then at Woolwich, from which he received a commission in the Royal Engineers in 1857.3 In 1862 he married Caroline, daughter of Mr H. H. Smith of Stourbridge, and early in his career he travelled to South Africa. In 1864 he was appointed to the Ordnance Survey of Scotland and in June of that year took over the Glasgow Division of Ordnance which was just commencing its survey of Argyll. After receiving this appointment, he leased The Manor House, Oban, where he and his family lived for much of his posting.4

When Lieutenant White joined the Ordnance Survey, it had been working in Scotland for well over a century, having been set up in 1747 in response to the Jacobite uprising in the Highlands. The plan was for the maps to help enable military infrastructure, such as forts and fortifications, to be connected by a new road network. Mapping of the whole of Scotland was complete by 1755, but over a hundred years later the military origins of the Ordnance Survey had been superseded by its clear economic and social benefits, though it still met some resistance from large landowners with a vested interest.

During the period 1862-1877, Argyll was mapped in the 25inch to a mile series, which included all towns, villages and cultivated areas. The principal area which was not included was the uncultivated moorland region which covered the central north of Kintyre. These maps were to prove fundamental to plans for agricultural improvement, water supply, boundary disputes and valuations. They are in themselves works of detail and beauty. Spot heights and permanent features were included but not contour lines. The survey was based on triangulation by teams of eight to ten men on the ground using chains and theodolites. Accurate heights were measured on either permanent features or spot heights.

Still only in his late twenties, White was not only responsible for the quality of the men's work but also for their pay, travel and quarters. Given that the whole of the area of Kintyre south of Campbeltown was included in the survey, this was a considerable undertaking. Work was problematical before April and after November owing to the severity of the weather. In 1870, Major General Sir Henry James, F.R.S., M.R.I.A. (1803-1877), Director-General of the Ordnance Survey from 1854 to 1875, wrote in an annual report to parliament: 'We must more generally adopt the system I introduced last year with surveyors in Argyllshire. They were brought down from Oban in a steamer in October and employed during the winter in Flintshire and Cheshire.'5

It is noteworthy that White's wider interests in archaeology were supported by Major General James, who was determined that where possible archaeological features should be identified on maps. In 1865 James issued an order stressing 'the necessity of officers' making themselves acquainted with the local history of, and (by personal inspection) with objects of antiquarian interest in the districts which they are surveying in order that all such objects may be properly represented on the plans and fully described in the Name Books'.

In respect of the survey in Scotland, this was putting into practice the request a decade earlier by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 'that all remains, such as barrows, pillars, circles and ecclesiastical and other ruins' should be noted by the Survey. This was agreed with the proviso that the Society 'endeavoured on their part to assist the surveyors with local information through the co-operation of the resident gentry, ministers, school masters and others'. It is no surprise that though White's first volume was dedicated to Her Royal Highness the Princess Louise, Marchioness of Lorne, the second volume carried the following dedication: 'To Major General Sir Henry James R.E. F.R.S. Director General of the Ordnance Survey whose zeal in the cause of Archaeology has so materially contributed to the publication of these pages. This volume is inscribed with the author's grateful acknowledgement.' Without the endorsement of the principal landowner and of his military superiors, his work would probably have been impossible.

Details of his travels and work in Kintyre are sketchy, apart from what can be gleaned from his publications, which give some idea of his itinerary. He later wrote in general about the arrival of the Survey throughout the U.K: 'For, undoubtedly, there must be few among those residents in our islands, whether dwellers in town or country, to whom the sight of the ubiquitous survey sapper and his belongings had not long ceased to be a novelty. His station-piles have been visible for years past on all the principal mountain summits and hill ranges throughout the country. Scarcely a rustic bumpkin but has gazed, and then speedily forgotten his astonishment, at the network of cross-headed poles which have sprung up in every locality, on ridges and knolls, downs and uplands, riverbanks and sea-beaches, marking in succession the advance of the Ordnance Survey'.6

He clearly managed to combine his military surveying work with his archaeological sketching and historical enquiries. This detailed research required considerable assistance from local landowners and scholars. He was a skilled artist who took great trouble to locate and sketch monuments. He also provided landscape views of surrounding localities. During his work in Kintyre, he supervised the compilation of the Ordnance Survey Name Books, which document place-names and interpret their meanings, and these books often contain entries initialled or signed by Lieutenant or Captain White.7

In 1867 he left Argyll for a new appointment with the Ordnance Survey in Edinburgh, which limited his field work in Argyll but most importantly enabled him to present his work to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and locate a publisher. On 12 April 1869, he presented his first paper to the Society, entitled "Notice of Saddell Abbey, in Kintyre, Argyllshire; with its sculptured slabs'. This article was accompanied by four plates, detailing thirteen illustrations of stones, some of which subsequently appeared in his published work.

At the same meeting, James Drummond presented a paper titled 'Notes made during a wandering in the West Highlands; with remarks upon the style of art of some monumental stones of Iona, and other localities'. Unfortunately, the subject-matter of the two papers overlapped and Drummond was not going to allow others to address the Society without serious scrutiny of their work. He concluded his paper by saying: 'I would say a word to all who, like myself, are collecting drawings of these or any other class of antiquaries. Let all such be made lovingly and earnestly, adding nothing, leaving out nothing; but let every weather-worn feature, every chip, and every break be honestly jotted down. Of all things shun restoration. We all know how much easier it is to restore than to copy faithfully what we see before us; but it is only by proceeding in this spirit that such drawings acquire value to the antiquary, historian, and artist.'

If Captain White was in any doubt about Drummond's approach, the latter, having looked at White's plates of Saddell monuments, immediately identified a few inaccuracies which he highlighted to the assembled meeting, much to the discomfort of White, a relatively junior Society member, unlike his critic, who was a man of considerable standing. Drummond was an artist of national repute, with paintings in the royal collection, and a frequent contributor to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, having been a fellow since 1848 and in recent years curator of the Society's Museum. He planned to publish his own work on monumental stones, and finding that White's work covered some of the same ground, his criticism might not have been entirely disinterested.8

If it was any consolation to Captain White, he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1869. When he next addressed the Society, at its meeting in January 1871, he chose as his subject matter his method of preparing monumental drawings and dealt head-on with Drummond's criticism: 'Having had an opportunity since the last meeting of revisiting Saddell and making all necessary corrections in the drawings, the members of the Society will at a glance recognise the trifling extent of the alterations, by comparing the correct drawings with the prints from the originals.' At the conclusion of his paper, Drummond responded by claiming it to be a vindication of his criticism, 'having this evening shown his original drawings for that paper, since then corrected by comparison with the antiquaries themselves, and altered in almost every particular to which objection had been taken, thus showing the criticism was just and called for. He expressed surprise that his remarks the other evening should have been construed into anything of a personal nature.'

Any objective view can clearly see there were inaccuracies which needed altering. It was a salutary lesson in the importance of attention to detail and accurate draughtsmanship, and, whatever the circumstances, no allowance would be made for the hurdles which had to be overcome to produce his illustrations.

In May 1871, White addressed the same Society on the subject of 'The ecclesiastical antiquities of the District of Kintyre in Argyllshire'. This paper, and the earlier paper on Saddell, formed the basis of his first volume, which was published on 15 March 1873, Archaeological Sketches in Scotland: District of Kintyre, which his publishers, William Blackwood & Sons, of Edinburgh and London, advertised as containing '138 Illustrations with Descriptive Letterpress', of 'Imperial Quarto' dimensions, cloth-bound, and priced at £2 2s.

His book was overall well-received, apart from in The Scotsman, whose anonymous reviewer in April 1873 was scathing: 'In some respects indeed it falls short of attaining even such a level of usefulness as to entitle it to a place beside the local histories of humbler pretensions as a book of reference.' He concluded: 'Here the curtain may fall for the present. While we regret that it should be necessary to say so much that is disparaging of an author's first literary venture, we are bound to say, despite its defects, Capt. White's work bears indications of considerable ability, both literary and artistic, which we hope may be turned to good account. At the same time, it bears in its style too evident marks of haste, and slovenliness of composition, which he would do well to avoid in future efforts. It is a pity to see such an amount of honest hard work wasted in an attempt to realise an ambitious project. Captain White has forgotten the proverb fledglings should fly leigh.'9

This review, though unattributed, has the fingerprints of his adversary Drummond all over it. It was critical of the historic content and the illustrations, rather unfairly pointing out the difference between the illustrations shown to the Society in 1871 and those now shown in the published work. 'But when we find Captain White's newly published drawings of stones at Sadell vary from Captain White's drawings of the same stones, previously issued as illustrations to a paper of his on Sadell Abbey ... we do not feel comfortably convinced of the trustworthiness of the rest of the drawings Anything harsher, harder and more utterly destitute of artistic feeling than the effect produced on several of them, is impossible to conceive.'

Other newspapers were much more complimentary. The Guardian commented: 'We may safely pronounce this handsome volume to be not only a real ornament to the drawing-room table, but also a repertory of a large amount of curious information not easily obtained elsewhere in as accessible a shape, and an incentive to the pursuit of archaeology, as a study not only connecting us with the past, but important in its bearings upon the present and future of our race.'

On 8 December 1873, Captain White gave his final address to the Society on "The ecclesiastical antiquities of the district of Knapdale, Argyllshire and the Islands of Gigha and Cara'. At the end of this lecture, he informed his listeners that he had 'orders to go on a tour of foreign service' and this would be his last talk. In May 1874, he is recorded as commanding the 20th Company of Royal Engineers, which was making its way from Gibraltar to Bermuda. Prior to leaving, he completed preparations for publication of his second volume, though he wrote the preface and text in Bermuda in September 1874.

On 12 August 1875, Archaeological Sketches in Scotland. Containing Knapdale and Gigha was published by Blackwood's with 130 illustrations and a map. He responded in detail to The Scotsman's criticism, writing in the preface: 'A reviewer in a Scottish journal of standing and extensive circulation was pleased to charge me with two inaccuracies of detail in the plates of the last volume of sketches. The charge was totally unfounded; the explicit answer to it, and to some strictures upon other portions of the book, will be found in the opening chapter of the present volume.'

The whole of the first chapter of this second volume was dedicated to dealing with the article in The Scotsman, 'Knapdale & Gigha - Reply to a critic'. He uses the first fourteen pages of the work to deal line by line with The Scotsman's article of 9 April 1873. Reading the rebuttal, a century and half later, the anger in the words is palpable. Nobody could be in any doubt by the end of chapter one that Captain White took the criticism he had so publicly received as deeply personal. He concluded: 'Neither can I see any special reason for calling it ambitious; though, for the matter of ambition, being a soldier, I might remind my critic of Bacon's aphorism, that a soldier without ambition is a soldier despoiled of spurs in other words, no soldier at all.' It is worth pointing out that in this short sentence he refers to only one critic. He also emphasises the point that he is foremost a soldier, the clear implication being that he did this work in his own time and completed it under the most difficult of circumstances.

Of his second volume, The Scotsman was more complimentary: 'Captain White has practically exhausted the peninsula ... In this volume the author has thoroughly warmed to his work, and drives through it with an intensity that is quite inspiring ... A series of sketches, often racily written, of scenery and antiquities."

There followed his appointment in Bermuda, time in Malta and director of the Ordnance Survey for the Northern Division of Ireland. When he returned to Scotland in 1890 for his final posting, promoted to Colonel and commanding engineering forces north of the Tweed, the family lived at 28 Abercrombie Place, Edinburgh. His time seems to have been taken up with endless inspections and administrative work on the army estate, leaving little time for research or sketching. Surprisingly, there is no record of his having participated in the activities of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland during his final three years in Scotland.

He retired on 1 February 1894,10 aged 57, with an annual pension of £500, and lived in Torquay, Devon, until his death in 1913. After his work on Scotland in the 1860s, he never again wrote on Argyll history, but completed an influential and popular history of the Ordnance Survey of the United Kingdom, published in 1886 by Blackwoods. In addition, he wrote numerous articles about the Ordnance Survey and cartography for Blackwood's Magazine and The Scottish Review. Never a wealthy man, on his death he left his modest estate to his wife and two surviving children. ¹¹

His severest critic, James Drummond R.S.A., died in 1877 as a much-respected painter of Scottish history and an active and valuable member of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. His own work on monumental stones was published posthumously in 1881 as Sculptured Monuments in Iona & the West Highlands and printed for the Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. It was illustrated by his own exquisite drawings but did not include any illustrations from Saddell.

If his determination to ensure that others' field work was of the highest standards, he also directed his combative powers against other targets. In particular, he was a forceful critic of landowners who failed in their responsibility as custodians of the archaeological monuments on their estates, and those in Argyll who failed in their custodianship were called out publicly in no uncertain terms.

The verdict of history on Captain White's work has been kind compared to his initial critics. In the Argyll volumes for the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, his work is regularly referred to. In Steer and Bannerman's work on Medieval Monuments, they state: 'White was deeply interested in antiquities, and during the time he was in the field he assiduously noted and sketched the ancient monuments that he encountered, particularly the ruined churches and graveyard memorials. The great majority of the late medieval carvings in Kintyre and Knapdale are described and illustrated in his two books and although the illustrations have no great artistic merit the decoration is usually accurately produced, being based in most cases on rubbings and tracings of the stones themselves.' In the plate section of the work, White's illustrations of Campbeltown Cross and three grave slabs were used.12

More recently, in Ian Fisher's Early Medieval Sculpture in the West Highlands and Islands, published in 2001, he states: 'Although less artistic than Drummond's drawings, White's engravings of carly and late medieval sculpture were more accurate in detail and for the first time were based on uniform scale, providing a comprehensive inventory of areas covered.' In fact, in this volume alone Fisher identifies two monuments drawn and described by White which have since disappeared. The quality of his work provided the building blocks for future academic research.

Moving away from the academic to a broader view of Captain White's two volumes, it is fair to say they are works of extraordinary diligence and perseverance. Filled with valuable illustrations, they cover a wide geographical area, often difficult to access and involving weather which did not lend itself to outdoor sketching. He compiled and published a unique and superb record of monumental stones in Kintyre, which was not equalled until the publication, almost exactly a century later, of the Royal Commission's volumes.

He was on the receiving end of some trenchant and unpleasant criticism, especially of his first volume, but this did not deter him. In fact, he treated his critics with respect and good humour, writing in the opening chapter of his second volume, referring to a particularly scathing review: 'I am bound to add, not withstanding, that the review was written in a racy and slashing manner, with a certain pungent but piquant flavour not infrequent in that journal's literary notices; and although the general purport of the critique was decidedly adverse to the work under review, I was myself unable to resist its readableness. I remember an old saying of our school days, that the next best thing to giving another fellow a licking was to be able to take one, especially if it was administered in a tolerably capable manner. On the same principle, I am not to be considered as finding fault with the tone or observations of the review as far as they are just. I desire merely to rebut certain misstatements of fact and palpable exaggeration.'

His military work and posting provided him with the opportunity, but it was his own resolution of purpose and artistic skill which brought the project to such a successful conclusion. In this achievement, it was not only weather and distances which had to be overcome but also at times a hostile establishment. His good-humoured responses show a man of an exceptional steady disposition. The arrival of the Ordnance Survey in Kintyre during the 1860s may have passed long ago into local history, but Captain White's monumental drawings will remain as a testament to the determination and scholarship of this Ubiquitous Survey Sapper.

Cover illustration: Mull of Kintyre and Lighthouse, c 1866, from the sketchbook of Captain T. P. White in possession of the author, to whom thanks are due.

Sources and Notes

  • 1. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Vol 8 1868-70, pp. 430-64, included White's 'Notice of the Priory Church of Beauly, Inverness-shire'.
  • 2. This article resulted from the purchase at auction of Captain White's sketchbook by the author and subsequent research into his life. The sketches include several subsequently published.
  • 3. Obituary Colonel T. P. White, The County Express, 25 October 1913, p 5.
  • 4. Glasgow Evening Post, 17 July 1867, notice of birth of a son at Oban.
  • 5. W. A. Seymour, A History of the Ordnance Survey, 1980, p 160.
  • 6. Lieut.-Col. T. Pilkington White, R.E., The Ordnance Survey of the United Kingdom, 1886, p2.
  • 7. Ordnance Survey website, open access.
  • 8. Robert Brydall, Art in Scotland: Its Origin and Progress, 1889, p 398.
  • 9. The Scotsman, 9 April 1873.
  • 10. Western Morning News, 31 January 1894.
  • 11. He died on 20 October 1913 at The Quarry House, Shrewsbury; his residence was given in the will as 3 Hesketh Crescent, Torquay, Devon.
  • 12. Plates reproduced include 11B, Campbeltown Cross and 23 A-C, Kilmory and Keills, Knapdale, grave slabs. 10-0

Two letters, 1853 and 1854

Emigration-related letters seem to be turning into a regular feature of this magazine and I welcome them and enjoy the challenge of helping to elucidate the contents. These latest letters were contributed by Mr Munro McCannell in Glasgow, whose Kintyre connections will be explained later.
The first letter, dated 9 August 1853, was sent from Dunskeig, Clachan, to Whitestone, Saddell. The sender was Charles Blair and the recipients were his sister Jane and her husband Archibald McCannell. Charles had emigrated to Canada but, for unknown reasons, was back in Kintyre, an unusual move at a time when most emigrants were never able to return home. He was recovering from an illness, and the reference to his using burdock presumably alludes to a medicinal tonic which his sister may have provided him with.
The second letter is dated 15 December 1854 and was written at Puslinch, Wellington, Ontario, whence he had returned in the interval. The McCannells had also moved by then, but no great distance: to East Killarow, Tangy, over on the west side of Kintyre.
Most of the Blair family appears to have settled in Ontario and married there. The Puslinch Historical Society website records Charles's sisters' marriages: Mary to Malcolm Currie, Barbara to Angus McCormick and Christina to Lachlan McMillan. Charles and his brother John had parted company in 1854, John remaining on the farm they had shared and Charles leasing a neighbouring farm. The split appears to have been acrimonious. Their widowed father, Archibald Blair, and sister Christina ('Christie') moved into the new home with Charles. Both brothers had married by then, John to Margaret Dunbar in 1853 and Charles to Agnes McMurchy in 1854.
The Blair and McCannell families both belonged to the Largieside. Jane McCannell (remembered in the family as Sine, Gaelic for Jane) was a daughter of Archibald Blair (1785-1863) and Mary McDougall (1782-1850) and was said to be five months and two days short of her hundredth birthday when she died at East Killarow on 8 March 1904. Her obituarist said she was born in Clachaig Glen, Muasdale, but I have found no record of her birth, only that of her marriage in 1827 at Muasdale. She had eleven children, of whom eight were still alive in 1904. The Campbeltown Courier (12/3/1904) remarked that 'Gaelic was her only tongue, for although she could understand a little English, she was unable to listen to or make herself understood by it with profit'.
Jane's having been a monoglot Gaelic speaker raises, once more, the question of literacy. Her brother Charles, who appears to have learned to read and write, was corresponding with her and her husband Archibald in English, albeit fractured. Who was translating these letters into Gaelic and composing replies to them in English? Did one or more of Jane's children, who certainly attended school, as censuses show, read out the letters and reply to them?
The letters sent to Charles apparently do not survive, and the survival of the two letters reproduced here was down to Jane's having kept them; possibly, Munro thinks, because her eldest son, Donald, who was born in 1827, was mentioned in the second one. He had disappeared several years before, and the family never heard of or from him again. There was speculation that he might have gone to the Crimean War', but his fate remains unknown.
The John addressed on the last page of the second letter was another son of Jane McCannell's. He must have spoken to his uncle Charles about going out to Canada, and Charles provides directions on how to reach his destination in Ontario from Quebec; but he didn't go, and died in 1906, aged 72, at East Killarow in his native parish. Charles also hopes that John is giving up his 'foolishness', which can only be an allusion to a fondness for alcohol.
Archibald McCannell and Jane Blair were Munro McCannell's great-great grandparents. Their son, Duncan McCannell, ploughman at Tangy, was presented with a Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland long service medal at the Kintyre Agricultural Show in 1914, as reported in the Argyllshire Herald on 13 June 1914. The medal, which Munro inherited, is dated 1913 and records thirty-seven years' service. He worked until the age of 70 and died in 1933, aged 80. His widow, Isabella, a daughter of Archibald Milloy, farmer in Breakachy, and Flora Downie, died in 1948, aged 84, and was buried with him in Paitean. Archie McCannell, Munro's grandfather, who was born in 1888, left East Killarow circa 1904 and moved to Glasgow. His parents made no effort to pass on the Gaelic language to their children, a failing discussed in the last issue of this magazine (No. 91, p 16), and Archie recalled walking from Tangy to the church at Bellochantuy on Sundays and having to sit through services delivered in a language that was unintelligible to him.

Dunskeig August 9th 1853
Dear Brother & Sister I wrote these few lines to inform you that I am a little Better in health and in good hope that I shall get over it if it is according to his [God inserted above] unering wisdom the rest of us are all well I have reason to be thankful as I am, the rest of us are all well
I was mistaken in what I said to you about margret She is quite well I received a letter from America three weeks ago, informing me that they are all well, and spared as monuments of Gods mercy I was very glad to know that Barbra [his sister] is well and that she was Delivered of a Child being dead but she was not long nor ill this time and she was quite well in a week after that the doctor thought it was dead nine weeks before it was born
I have also to tell you that John Got married to margret dunbar a near neibhour of his own he saw they were willing in both sides I received another letter from America last night from Donald McMillan informing me of [a] Great many other marrieges that took place
Since I left they had a very dry summer they had very little rain since I left they comence the wheat 3 weeks ago the spring crope is not very good they have no preaching since I left exept a few days all the Congregation is going to join to buld one Church in the midst of them two of the neibhours died and all others things [are] as I left them
I hear that Christie and the young wife [of John's, Margaret Dunbar] agrees well and I am glad of it they all join in sending their best respects to you all they did not say any thing more particular that I can mention to you at present
I did not see any of Archibald McDougalls family yet but I intend to go and see them next week I would like you to write me back as soon as possible so that I would Get it before I go over to see them I Cannot say at present [when] I will be down your way to see you I do not think that I will go home this winter if I will not take another notion and tell John [McCannell, his nephew] to be makeing ready to go with me next Spring if I will wait and be both spared to that
I am useing the burdock since I came up write me without delay and let me [know] how you are all geting along no more but remains your affectionate
Charles Blair

Puslinch December 15th 1854
Dear Brother and Sister I received your letter a few weeks ago and was glad of your wellfare only I was sory to hear of you not being well We are all enjoying our health hear only Johns wife a needle went into her knee six weeks ago and did not come out yet She is very painful some times but she can walk through the house mary [his sister, presumably] also she took a turn of sickness but she is getting over it father he is quite strong Barbra and her husband are well and my I was in good health myself all this summer
I have to inform you that I got married six weeks ago to Agness Mcmurchy Murdach Mcmurchys Daaghter [a family from Kintyre] John and I parted at that time and I went on the next farm to us bought the land from it belongs to the same man that we at first I rented it for a year from him I am going to try if he will sell it to me and if not I do not know wither I will wait any longer on or not my father is in with me and Christina from us in a good place She went there in the spring She is hired nine miles John and I cast out and I would not let her wait with them any longer and if it was not for that I would not marrie yet and that is how I am situated in the mean time I have great
This wourld is very Changable there is no trust to be put in an arm of flesh so that ought to teach us to look to him Who is unchangable reason to be thankful to God for his care over me Since I seen you last and for the recovery of my health so far Dear Sister this life is a life of trial I felt that since I left you even my friends [were] growing cold to me but if you and me was able to meet trials so as to overcome them By faith everything would work together for our good I do not intend to say much in this letter I do not feel well the day I have taken a bad cold
I am at present driveind [driving] lumber with my own horses from a sawmill I can make between two and three Dollars a day and some times more but oats and hay are so very dear this year I have to buy all the hay and oats I only got a share of the potatoes and turnips and as much of the wheat as will do my own bread all that came to my share when John and me parted [was] a pair of good horses 5 years old a new wagon a sleigh a plough a harrow 2 cows 3 pig 3 Sheep and the half of the potatoes and turnips and some other articles that belong to the house and two hundred and sixty Dollars of money and my father is getting thirty Dollars a year as long as he lives and Christina got nothing but some bet cloths [bed clothes] but if I will be Spared I will not see Christina in want
My father he speaks of going with barbra after this year I do not know if I will be hear longer than till spring I would like to get a place for myself if I could but land is so very Dear and scarce it is not easy to be gott unless I would go back a hundred miles in the woods and I do not like to go back farther than I am
John Sold his farm for 28 Dollars an acre he is going to get another crop of [off] the place yet every thing is very Dear this year wheat is a Dollar and [a] half oats half a Dollar barley 3 and 9 pence a bushel 10 pence to 2 and 6 pence a bushel flour 9 Dollars a Barl [barrel] the same potatoes from 1 and pork is from 4 to 5 dollars a hundred[?weight] but we expect it to be oat meal higher in a short time hay is 20 Dollars a ton and every thing else accordingly wages a Dollar and a half in harvest a day and 15 Dollars a month through the summer season this is the best year for farmers that has been since we came to canada and for labouring men also there was a fair crop around this neigbourhood the potatoes stands well

Dear Sister I must Draw to a close we got up a new church it was opened 6 weeks ago by our old minister Mr Meldrum [Rev William Meldrum, minister there from 1840 to 1853] the sacrement was dispensed at the same time we had one Mclean through the summer he left us and went to the collage and we have none at present

Dear John I wish to say a few words to you as you were speaking of coming to this country I would like very well to see you hear and I would do for you as a Brother and I hope you are giveing up your foolishness and as you were [asking] for me to write you how to come hear the only way for you to come is by quibeck [Quebec] and you can easy find the way from that to hamilton and the carrs are running from hamilton to Galt and their enquire for Mr young's tavern and tell him that you are a friend to John Blair and he will Derect you where to come

Dear John if Donald ever come or if you will ever hear from him let me know I am glad that your father got a better place and if I was able I would send home some monney to your father and mother but I got nothing from John yet So that I had to ern what monney I required for my marrage and before I got furniture for my house and bought oats and hay for my horses I am a good Deal in debt Dear John I will conclude by sending my love [to] you all my father and all of them sends there best wishes no more at present but remain yours sincerely
Charles Blair

'All tarred with the one brush'

The following colourful dialogue was reported in the Argyllshire Herald of 25 September 1897, after the wife of a Campbeltown labourer appeared in the Police Court accused of committing a breach of the peace in Main Street, a charge she denied. At the conclusion of the case, Bailie Duncan McWilliam decided that the evidence was 'unsatisfactory' and that the accused and the witnesses 'all appeared to be tarred with the one brush'.
Accused (to the first witness) - Why is it you can't leave me alone on the street?
Witness - Oh, because you wore silks and I never knew you. (Laughter.)
Accused I never cursed and swore. -
Witness - Yes, you did.
Accused (throwing up her hands and sighing) - Oh, such a false woman. I am here before my God a just sinner - (laughter) - and all I called her was a 'town midden'. (Laughter)
Accused (to second witness) - Did I curse and swear?
Witness - You did that.
Accused - I never cursed and swore, gentlemen.
Witness - Well, I must be a liar then. (Laughter)

"The Big Count in Campbeltown: What an Enumerator Has To Thole' (1931)


'The Census of 1891: With the Enumerators', reproduced in the previous issue (No. 91, pp. 16-18), stimulated some interest among readers, many of whom, as genealogists, are familiar with censuses, and curious, to some degree, about the logistics of the exercise. I didn't expect to find another such account written for publication by a Campbeltown enumerator, but the unexpected materialised in The Argyllshire Leader & Western Isles Gazette of 23 April 1931. The anonymous author, like his predecessor forty years before, focuses on the humorous aspects of his experiences, but the mockery is more restrained. The 'Leader' was founded in Campbeltown in 1929 by Alex Ramsay as a Socialist alternative to the long-established Campbeltown Courier. Ramsay was born in Stirling in 1875 and worked in the Far East for more than two decades. From 1914-16 he was editor of the Peking Daily News and he compiled and published, in 1922, The Peking Who's Who, which contains an entry on himself, in which he is described as an insurance agent. He omitted his marital status, but a report in the Argyllshire Herald of 26 December 1914 identified him as a son-in-law of Archibald Mathieson, Lochend, which probably explains his decision to come to Campbeltown and revive his career in journalism. A microfilm record of the newspaper, which lasted from 31 January 1929 until 10 November 1934, was transferred from Argyll & Bute Library Headquarters to Campbeltown Public Library this year. Editor

Often have I heard the remark made that it takes all kinds of people to make a world, but I never quite realised its significance until I started this week in my duties as enumerator. I had been greatly impressed by the instruction that the enumerator was to carry out his work with courtesy and politeness and I resolved that nothing would be permitted to ruffle my feelings nor cause any deviation from the super-excellence of the deportment which was to be the mark of my conduct during the series of house-to-house visitations.

I started off well.

'Are you the gentleman who comes round with the communion cards for the Highland Parish?'

Now that question, addressed to me in all simplicity, was flattering. I had hardly hoped to make such a grand impression. It bucked me up immensely. Diplomatically I explained that I had not yet attained to such a giddy height of parochial responsibility, but that some day when I had perhaps fewer hairs in my head that exalted position might be mine.

A few minutes later, I was made to realise that my position was not quite so comfortable. Children seeing me with a red book and a pile of documents began to take notice. Almost at once they sensed my occupation. With a shout of 'Here's the census man', they tagged themselves on to me and manifested the greatest interest in the proceedings. I was no longer a unit. I had become part of a procession.

Study of the enumerator's book had not prepared me for such an emergency. Naturally, I wanted to get rid of my bodyguard, but here was I cursed with this infernal injunction to be polite. Besides, I did not wish to depart from the high standard I had set myself. So, I made the best of the situation.

I carried on with determination to do my duty thoroughly and well. I peered into dungeons, or they seemed to be dungeons, where people might be dodging the enumerator. I had heard of old folks who had religious objections to the 'numbering of the people', people who believed it criminal and who were emphatic in their belief that no good would come of it, and I was resolved that none of them should escape my vigilant eye.

It was no easy task, I assure you, making the required entries in my book in the almost Cimmerian darkness of passages in which I found myself, especially when the good lady was timid or conscious of a very untidy table and therefore kept me at the door. Others, however, were not quite so stand-offish. They welcomed me. A census man represented something decidedly novel. Christmas comes once a year, but the census man is only seen once in ten years.

Some of the folks treated the matter as a joke. I don't mean that they were not conscious of their own obligations in the serious matter in hand, but they seemed to see all kinds of amusing aspects and were ready to get as much fun out of it as they could. Others, again, regarded the visitation as representing a kind of inquisition, of which they disapproved heartily.

'No, thank you, we don't need anything today,' was the salutation I got from an old lady as she closed the door in my face. Evidently, she thought I was selling something. Now, what would a polite man do in such circumstances?

A few minutes' reflection brought to my mind that I had behind me all the force and authority of his Britannic Majesty's Government, so that I returned to the attack, determined that I should make the old dame appreciate the importance of my own position and the grave position in which she was putting herself by refusing to disclose information required by the British Government. Eventually, with the assistance of well-disposed neighbours, she was induced to reopen her door and accept the schedule which was handed to her.

Never did I imagine that the people of this town respected the old maxim: 'Early to bed and early to rise', etc. Quite a number of bolts and bars were withdrawn, and cautious heads were dimly seen after I had knocked at doors, and you can imagine that these were not among the number who welcomed my visit. A few of the same kidney had actually gone to bed and refused to open their doors.

But the worst type of all households is that where it seems impossible to find anybody at home. That involves repeated visits, and as a result of these repeated demands upon my store of politeness I feel that I am reaching the stage of being 'fed up'.

Before I conclude, let me express the hope that all arguments as to the head of the household are settled before the next census. In certain instances, the good lady is inclined to regard the claims of her husband to that position as being negligible, and she tosses her head or utters an eloquent grunt which serves to impress upon her so-called lord and master that he is nothing but a miserable worm.

'Who's the head of this household?"

"That yin there.' (Pointing to a man seated at the fireside.)

'Are you sure?'

'I think so.'

'Oh, you'll have to be sure.'

With that, the lady went to the side of a bed, wakened the sleeping occupant, and asked: "Who's the heid o' this hoose?'

'Me, of course,' emphasising his words by pointing his fingers to his breast. There and then I concluded that 'enough for the day is the evil thereof.

Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse

Shortly after receiving the above contribution, I noticed an article on the Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse in the Campbeltown Courier of 28 October 1893 and decided to include it, minus its account of the formation and early history of the Trustees for Northern Lighthouses. It was written in 1832 by the Rev Donald or Daniel Kelly (1791-1843), minister of Southend Parish from 1816 to 1833, and formed the basis of his much briefer account of the Lighthouse in the New Statistical Accountin 1843. To judge by the article's descriptive detail, Kelly appears to have visited the Lighthouse and compiled that valuable record, which, to my knowledge, has not been reproduced since 1893. It was 'found' among Kelly's papers and given to the newspaper by a friend', who was probably the writer's eccentric son, Neil. He was custodian of his father's manuscript collection, items from which he occasionally released for publication, and the fate of which, after his death in 1906, is unknown.

Having, in the first draft of this introduction, referred readers to the late Ann Aikman Smith's 'The Beginnings of the Lighthouse', published in the second issue of this Magazine, I decided to re-read the article, and, having done so, judged it to be well worth republishing, 45 years later, for its meticulous documentation of the planning and construction of the Lighthouse and its biographical content on the Harvie/Harvey family of light-keepers. Mrs Aikman Smith (née Millar) came to Kintyre with her husband, James, when he was appointed Sheriff-substitute for Argyll and Bute in 1948. After his transfer in 1953, the family maintained a lifelong connection with Kintyre, visiting every summer and staying at East Carrine, Southend (1968-81). Mrs Aikman Smith's daughter, Liz Findlay, has also contributed to this Magazine: her apposite 'Memories of the Mull of Kintyre' appeared in No. 86. Editor

By Ann Aikman Smith M.A.

On 1 August 1786, the first steps were taken towards erecting the Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse. On that day there was a meeting of 'Commissioners or Trustees for erecting four lighthouses in the Northern parts of Great Britain, one at Kinnairds Head in the county of Aberdeen, one on the island of North Ronilsha in the Orkneys, one on the point of Scalpa in the island of Herries and a fourth on the Mull of Kintyre'. This was the beginning of the work of the Commissioners of the Northern Lights, and it is from their minutes and account books, which were kindly made available, that this account has been compiled.

In that summer of 1786, there were already in existence the Tay Lights and a light on the Island of May. By 1787, Mr Thomas Smith had been appointed engineer to the Board, and Mr Ezekiel Walker, who had erected the lighthouse at Lyme Regis, was paid the sum of 50 guineas for instructing him. Mr Smith, whose assistant was Robert Stevenson, supervised the construction of the lighthouse on the Mull of Kintyre.

Enquiries were made about leasing approximately two acres for lighthouse and garden, and by 22 January 1787, letters had been received from the 5th Duke of Argyll and from his Chamberlain and the Provost of Campbeltown, 'the last two containing particular descriptions of the places most proper for a lighthouse on the Mull of Kintyre'. The meeting on 22 January resolved that 'the Provost of Campbeltown be empowered as one of the Trustees and requested to take the proper steps relative to erecting a proper lighthouse and to procure estimates and provide materials for that purpose and to inform him that the precise dimensions and a plan will be sent to him'.

So, in six months since the first meeting and decision to erect four lighthouses, an engineer had been appointed, negotiations over the lease of the land had begun, and the task of getting the operation of building underway entrusted to Provost James Maxwell of Campbeltown. But there were still considerable problems to be surmounted. The meeting of the Trustees on 30 August 1787 heard that the Provost had informed that 'no person in that County could be got for building the lighthouse on the Mull of Cantyre and proposed to advertise for a contractor which was not done as no stranger could be supposed to contract for building in a place so difficult of access and so remote unless at a very extravagant sum and it was thought it would be better to send - workmen from this place to execute it'.

The Duke of Argyll agreed to give a charter of the ground 'for payment of 5/- per annum on condition of its being enclosed and that the keeper shall keep no dog'. This prohibition was no doubt part of the process of turning the Mull into a sheep walk, but it was to cause protest in the future.

On 20 August 1787, three masons were accordingly sent from Edinburgh to Campbeltown, George Shields (who also erected the tower at Pladda, in 1790) as the man in charge and John and William Purdie as his assistants. George Shields was to be paid 4/2 per day and the other two 3/- per day. The stores and materials were all landed six miles away from the site of the lighthouse and transported by horseback with one hundredweight as the limiting load and a single journey from the landing place to the lighthouse representing a day's work, and a hard day's work it must have been. This account of the journey is from an obituary written on the death of Mr Matthew Harvie in 1867:

'The isolated position of the Light House at the Mull of Cantyre made it difficult of access. It is over 16 miles from Campbeltown and the last five of these are over a rugged mountain without a track. There were indeed many tracks, so that, in making your way to it, you had to steer for a particular "gap" in the mountain, of which you lost sight now and then, as you descended or rose over the hilly ground that lay between.'

The road today is metalled, but it still goes through the Gap, now a familiar place-name. However, for many years after the lighthouse was built, the stores were carried from Carskey or Southend on the backs of horses, and it was not until between 1830 and 1840 that a bridle track, 4 ft. 3 ins. wide, was made by the Commissioners from the lighthouse to Glemanuilt. In 1841, a feu contract from MacNeill of Carskey conveyed to the Commissioners ground for a store at Carskey and a right of access from Carskey to Glemanuilt by a road which was made about 1848. In 1929, the contract for bringing stores from Campbeltown to the Mull was given to John McLean, and Carskey was no longer used for unloading.

Whether or not they found the task daunting, George Shields and his men must have wasted little time, because by 16 November 1787, the Trustees had had a letter from Provost Maxwell saying that the lighthouse was ready for the lantern to be hung. They resolved, however, 'to delay hanging the lantern till the spring due to the shortage of the days and the expenses of taking other tradesmen from Edinburgh'.

The minute of 6 March 1788 noted that Thomas Smith, the engineer, had been ordered to 'go west to put on the lantern of Kantyre Lighthouse immediately'. In June his report came back that the lantern was finished and ready for use, but that various work was still required. 'That the ground allotted for the keeper, except a very small spot, can be of no manner of use to him as nothing will grow, but there is tolerable good ground at a small distance which would be of great use and that the present allotment is not worth the enclosing. That the person to be employed as keeper should be fixed on immediately and measures taken for his subsistence during the winter as he will be totally removed from Society and must have time to win Peats.' He also reported that it was absolutely necessary to have a wall between the lighthouse and the sea 'to prevent the keeper or any of his family from being blown over by strong winds'.

On 1 November 1788, two years and three months after the first meeting, the light was first exhibited at the Mull of Kintyre. One of the early lanterns used in this first tower hangs in Campbeltown Museum. There is a notice beneath it which reads as follows: 'For many years before 1788 a crofter who cultivated Harvey's Acres kept a light in his window as a guide to shipping.' So far, I have not found any recorded facts to fill in the details of this custom. The name 'Harvey's Acres' does not appear in Forbes Mackay's MacNeill of Carskey or in Andrew McKerral's Kintyre in the 17th Century. It would be interesting to know when this name was first used and to what ground it refers. Could it be that the garden ground going with the lighthouse, which was in fact in Harvey hands from 1788 to 1843, became known as 'Harvey's Acres' and that the crofter who kept the light as a guide to shipping cultivated these acres before they were leased to the lighthouse by the Duke of Argyll, possibly the tenant either of Ballinamoil or Ballemakilchonnele? Although the Mull was apparently cleared for a sheep walk circa 1780, one or two houses must have remained occupied by shepherds.

[Most of these old Mull farms were subsequently, albeit briefly, occupied by shepherds, and an article on that subject will appear in the next issue. Harvey's Acres, or Harvey's Park, was a field above the Lighthouse and must have been coined after construction of the Lighthouse. The present Ballinamoil was built as a shepherds' house close to the ruins of 'Ballemakilchonnele', but the name 'Ballinamoil' appears to have been attached to the old Conley farm by the late 18th century. Baptismal records reveal a David Campbell at 'Balanamull' or 'Mull' in the period 1769-99: might he have been the one who kept a light in his window? Curiously, when Matthew Harvie baptised son James in 1813, he was recorded not at the Lighthouse, but at 'Balanamoile'. ]

The notice in the Museum also states that 'Matthew Harvey, son of the crofter, was the lighthouse keeper for 35 years from 1788'. This is not entirely accurate. William, and not Matthew, was the first keeper and is first mentioned by name in the minutes of 10 June 1792, which noted that an order was drawn *for paying Wm. Harvie Keeper at Cantyre his salary to March 1791 £30:16:8'. He was born in 1738 and died in November 1800 and before he joined the Lighthouse Service was master of a brig named the King George, sailing from Greenock. I have so far failed to discover written records of his parents. [He seems to have been born in May 1738 to James Harvie and Janet Mitchell.]

There is an interesting reference to the keeper of the lighthouse in the report which Thomas Smith gave to the Commissioners after he had made a tour of inspection of the lighthouses between 11 June and 6 September 1793: This keeper is much molested by the Moil Company [a consortium of sheep farmers] who insist that he shall not keep a dog or a gun, which I think is necessary as the place is infested with wild cats which are dangerous, and notwithstanding the fences around his ground, the goats and also the sheep belonging to the same Company leap over the walls to destroy his crop and without he is allowed a dog to protect his own ground it may be of little use to him. They seem to treat the man as if he were a thief or a sheep stealer, and insist upon it that they have a right to prevent him from keeping a dog or a gun by their agreement with the Duke of Argyle. For my own part I think him an honest man and that he would not make any improper use either of his dog or gun. If he cannot be trusted with this he surely ought not to have such an important Trust as the Lighthouse.' The minute states that the Commissioners wrote to the doers of the Duke of Argyll about the dog and then the question does not reappear - presumably because it was satisfactorily settled, and Mr Harvey was allowed to have his dog.

[The reference to the Moil Company's keeping of goats may explain the presence of feral flocks on that coast, one theory having been that they were introduced by shepherds to graze terrain deemed too dangerous for sheep.]

He must have maintained his reputation as an honest man, because not only did he remain as keeper for 12 years until his death in 1800, but his wife, Agnes Orr, assisted by his son, was kept on as keeper and in 1802 there is a note that the Commissioners 'resolved to continue the widow and the son of the late keeper of the lighthouse on the Mull of Cantyre as joint keepers thereof and to authorise the Clerk to relinquish the claim of £10 10s. which had by mistake been overpaid to the late keeper by the agent at Campbeltown'. This son, Matthew, became principal lighthouse keeper and remained so until 1843. It was resolved in 1807 that each keeper should keep an assistant, and his salary was therefore raised by £10 per annum.

There is no record of how the Commissioners chose their keepers, but they must have felt very satisfied with the choice of William Harvey. Not only did he and his son Matthew give 55 years of continuous service at the Mull, but his grandson, also called Matthew, entered the lighthouse service in 1845, two years after his father's retiral, and served in various lighthouses until 1892, eleven of these years, between 1854 and 1865, as keeper at the Mull.

Matthew senior, who retired in 1843, lived until he was 91 and died in 1867. He, like his father, was a man of upright and hard-working character, and the following anecdote from his obituary in the Argyllshire Herald, 6 April 1867, illustrates the man and the toughness of his working life on the Mull: 'Now the subject of our sketch was none of your eye servants, as the following incident will show. The road had been finished, with its bridges over deep ravines and its dry firm footing over morasses and quagmires, but not formally opened, and the stores were still carried along the winding sheep tracks. Our friend was asked why he was not using the road. The simple yet firm reply was: "The Commissioners had not given orders for that yet."

By Rev Donald Kelly (1832)

The Mull of Kintyre lighthouse was begun in 1786 [...] and was finished in the year 1788. It is a work of great public utility and importance to the navigation of the channel between Scotland and Ireland. The site of this building was very inaccessible, both by sea and land, as it perched on a cliff about 280 feet above the level of the sea, and near to those rocks known to mariners by the familiar name of 'The Merchants'. Towards the sea, a landing is opposed by the strength and current of the tides, and the almost continually boisterous state of the waves dashing upon the iron-bound shore, which consists of immense masses of mica- slate [mica-schist] and quartz. The lighthouse, on the opposite side, is environed by mountains and morasses and is about five miles from the nearest habitation and was without any trace of a road.

Under such circumstances, it may easily be imagined that the then engineer of the Board, the late Thos. Smith, Esq., found the erection of a lighthouse no easy task. The buildings were erected by Mr Peter Stewart, Campbeltown, [presumably sub-contracted to build the dwelling-house and outhouses] but the lighthouse and the revolving apparatus were brought from Edinburgh and carried chiefly on men's shoulders over the mountains. The work having in this arduous manner been completed, the light was exhibited for the first time on the night of the first day of December [November] 1788, much for the comfort of the mariner and the benefit of commerce. Since that period, the Northern Lighthouses have been increased from four to 23 stations on all parts of the coast, and various improvements have been made upon the one at Kintyre. The essential benefit of a road or bridle track through the mountains followed upon a visitation of a committee of commissioners in 1828, consisting of Sir Wm. Rae, Bart, Lord Advocate of Scotland; Andrew Murray, Esq., Sheriff Depute of Aberdeenshire; and W. R. Robinson, Esq., Sheriff Depute of Lanarkshire.

The formation of this road required no small care and attention in carrying it through so difficult a pass. The line was laid out by Mr Alan Stevenson, clerk of works to the Board, and son to the present engineer [Robert]: it is found to give great facilities in communicating with the lighthouse and conveying goods which are landed and, in the first instance, stored at Carskey, about seven miles from the lighthouse, to which everything must be taken on pack horses.

The dwelling house having been originally built for one family, its accommodation has become very small since the appointment of an assistant lightkeeper at each lighthouse. Some idea of this may be formed when it is mentioned that the children of both families count no fewer than 14. The house is built of rubble work, covered with sheet lead, and is made as comfortable as circumstances will permit. [It was demolished and replaced in 1857.]

As before noticed, the ground on which the building stands is high, and, therefore, the lighthouse tower required to be only 30 feet in height. The balcony and parapet wall of the lighthouse are surrounded by a cast iron railing, curiously reticulated like mesh work; and, as the lantern is rendered completely fire-proof, the floor is of the same metal. The light is exhibited in a lantern consisting of 16 sash frames, also of cast iron, glazed with large squares of polished plate glass, measuring each about 2 feet square, and a 1/4 of an inch in thickness. The roof forms a handsome dome, consisting of two thick meshes of copper with a space between, to prevent the condensation of water - without this precaution, a dropping from the roof in certain states of the atmospheric takes place, which sometimes proves hurtful to the reflecting apparatus. The light is from oil with Argand burners, set in focus of silver-plated reflectors, curiously hollowed out to the parabolic curve. So brilliant is their surface, and so powerful their effect, they require to be screened from the rays of the sun to prevent the lamps from being ignited during the day. There are in this lantern 20 reflectors, annually consuming about 700 gallons of spermaceti oil. The reflectors are ranged upon a chandelier of malleable iron, supported upon dolphins of cast iron, and otherwise ornamented in rather a classical style. The Mull of Kintyre light, according to the description in The British Pharos, is known to mariners as a stationary light, 'appearing like a star of the first magnitude at the distance of six or seven leagues'; but it is to be regretted that dense fogs occasionally rest upon the high land of the Mull, while it is clear below, by which the light is at times obscured.

The situation of the lightkeepers here is, upon the whole, pretty comfortable. The salary of Mr Mathew Harvie, the principal lightkeeper, is £45, and that of the assistant, Mr Thos. Train, is £35 (with two cows and grass each). They have a suit of uniform clothes once in every three years, and are supplied with watch cloaks and cloth boots, which they wear while on their night watches to defend them against cold, as they are literally placed in a metallic apartment, while a range of ventilators must be kept open to make the lamps burn with a clear flame. The keepers at this station have peat fuel and are allowed a horse to bring their stores and supplies over the mountains.

Letter to the Editor

Sir - Perhaps one of your readers can confirm a curious little story which I have stored in my mind since interviewing Dr Catherine Ann Brown, the 'School Doctor', many years ago. Dr Brown, a native Gaelic speaker with connections to Mull and Tiree, was the Assistant Medical Officer of Health for Argyll with special responsibility for the medical inspection of schools. She was appointed in 1929 and was a familiar, much loved and respected visitor to schools from Tiree to Southend throughout the 1930s, '40s and '50s.

In the course of describing her long career, she mentioned a unique ambulance specially constructed for Argyll by Dr Guy, the County Medical Officer of Health, in 1936. It was designed so that it could be lifted on and off the boats which served the islands, sometimes sharing deck space with cattle.

It was nicknamed 'the Easter Egg' by Dr Guy and his team. He included two photographs of the ambulance in his annual report for the year 1936. They show a small cubic caravan on two wheels for trailing behind a car, with eyelets for swinging it on board a steamer. 'It ended up as a hen house in Campbeltown,' Dr Brown told me. Have any of your readers heard of this?

Incidentally, Dr Brown referred to the poverty she found among the children at Drumlemble. She recalled how some of them wore undergarments which their mothers had sewn from flour bags, some still carrying the brand name.

'Harsh but good' were her words to describe the fabric.

Yours etc, Murdo MacDonald, Castleton, Lochgilphead, PA31 8RU.

Editorial Miscellany

CHILDREN'S GAMES. In Dr Moira Burgess's recent contributions 'Street and Playground Games', she mentioned (No. 88, p 6) a game which predated the core period of the study, which was in and around the Second World War. One of her informants was told by her mother, who was born 1899, of a game called 'The Safety Pin', which she and her companions would inflict on residents of the Wide Close, Campbeltown. They would fix a safety pin by strong thread to a window, then, from a distance, rap the glass with the pin until someone came out and, of course, found nobody there. A similar prank was described in a Campbeltown Courier juvenile court report on 3 March 1945, when a 15-year-old boy was charged with having broken a kitchen window in town. Several young witnesses told the court they had been playing 'Rattle-the- Snake', and when the Procurator Fiscal, Mr. A. I. B. Stewart - previous editor of this Magazine - asked what it meant, he was told that 'it was a trick whereby some string and a piece of wood were used to annoy the occupants of the room by constant tapping on the pane'. The accused had come along that night and joined in the fun by knocking on the window with his hand. The night had been frosty, and Sheriff K. A. Borland, dismissing him as a first offender, advised: 'Don't tap windows on a frosty night; they are very easily broken.'

Further back, in 1896, the following prank was described in Campbeltown police court. Some boys rapped at the window of Isabella Taylor's house in Kirk Street on the night of 20 January, having first 'placed two large stones at the door, which they tied with a rope to the handle of the door', so preventing her from opening it. The practice was described as 'pretty common' and was often perpetrated when the police were 'changing their beats'. Isabella complained of her life being a 'burden' to her at night owing to 'the annoyance caused by boys'. Four youths were charged with conducting themselves in a riotous and disorderly manner and creating a breach of the peace and were each fined ten shillings, as reported in the Campbeltown Courier on 25 January 1896.

ARCHIBALD GALBREATH. Back to 'From Brecklate to Illinois' (No. 90), the letter written by John Ralston in 1859. He mentioned William Fleming and his business partner, Archibald Galbreath, 'that was farmer in Skerrling'. I speculated (p 17, note 11) that 'Skerrling' could be a form of Skeroblin, but opined that there was 'no record of a Galbreath/Galbraith tenant there'. By a careless oversight, I had failed to notice that a James Galbreath, tenant in Ardnacross, got the lease of 'East Skeroblingorry' in 1800.

A reader in Las Vegas, Nick Galbreath, e-mailed me on 12 June and pointed out my error, which was pleasing, because he was able to supply some background for Archibald. He was born at Skeroblin on 8 September 1803, the eldest son of James and Martha Galbreath - she shared her husband's surname - who married in 1800 and baptised eleven children between 1801 and 1821.

Archibald appears in Census 1841 as a farmer at Ugadale and in Census 1851 as a 'flesher', in which business he continued until his death in Campbeltown on 17 February 1885. He married Eugenia McCallum in Kilcalmonell in 1835 and had two children by her before her early death. In 1839, he married Margaret Loynachan in Southend and they had eight children.

Nick Galbreath states that Eugenia McCallum's baptismal name was 'Janet', but she married as 'Eugenia'. It is an exotic in Kintyre but occurred in McLean as well as McCallum families and must have originated with Eugenia Josephine Wynne, who married Robert Campbell, 10th laird of Skipness, in 1806.

'BREACKERIE' WIND FARM. As some readers will doubtless be aware, Energiekontor, a renewable energy company, proposes to build a large wind farm inland from Dùn Bàn Site of Special Scientific Interest, which sits in the middle of the spectacular Atlantic coast between Machrihanish and the Mull. Irrespective of the merits of so-called 'green energy', which the Scottish Government is promoting with ill-considered haste, 'Breackerie' seems to me, and to many others particularly ornithologists and hillwalkers to be a singularly inappropriate location. There is surely a case for seeking to designate that coast and its hinterland a conservation zone protected from industrial development, not only for the sake of its ornithological and botanical rarities but also as a haven for people. Demand for electricity will increase in tandem with increasing dependence on electrical gadgets - most of them not just inessential to human survival, but inimical to it yet neither the Scottish nor the UK government is so far willing to implement radical energy conservation measures. If the expansion of wind farms and their intrusive infrastructure continues unchecked, the landscape of the west of Scotland and, later, its coastal waters - will be industrialised beyond recognition and repair. Some communities elsewhere in Scotland have argued that 'enough is enough', and in Kintyre there are already twenty wind farms, both operational and as with Breackerie - notional.

THE FIRST SOCIETY TALK of 2022-23 will be by Colin Darroch at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday 14 September in the Ardshiel Hotel. Mr Darroch, who lives in Alberta, Canada, plans to be in Kintyre at that time and offered to give a presentation, hence the earlier than normal commencement of the programme. The subject will be 'Searching for the Darroch Family', but please check the Society website nearer that date to confirm that the talk is going ahead. Further talks will be advertised on the Society's website, and on posters around town, as speakers are engaged. Suggestions for future speakers, from Magazine readers and Society members, will be welcomed. Please contact the Editor or the Treasurer (e-mail addresses on page 1).
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