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But doubt there seemed to be none that John was
the culprit, and so great a feeling was raised in the
kirk and parish over it that the elders of the church
resigned in a body ! But elders' conclusions may
j list be wrong sometimes as well as other people's.
Things are not always, as the poet says, what they
seem. And in this particular case they certainly
had jumped to an erroneous conclusion. Moreover,
no direct evidence was forthcoming against John.
However, they forthwith demanded the resignation
of the man who they were certain had dune the
deed, and thus shocked the moral sense of the parish.

The worthy Mr Drummoud, then parish minister,
would have none of this, however. He iirmly
believed in John's innocence. And more than this,
he had, from actual observation, a fact which would
tell in John's favour one of those circumstantial
details which can often be turned to good account
in one's cause.

John was in the invariable habit of throwing the
earth to the same side in opening a grave, whereas
the one then despoiled had the earth all on the
oppotite side from what was John's invariable
custom. Mr Drummond had probably pleaded
John's cause before the elders, and directed against
them some of those keen shafts of satire and sar-
casm which he could, when occasion required, use
with good effect. John accordingly was not re-
moved, but continued his melancholy task till la:
too was " gathered to his fathers."

In connection with the above "resurrection"
episode, H story is told of the Ucv. Mr Druramond
and the then laird of (ilvnbervie. In common with
the rest of the parish the laird was very much


shocked at the alleged scandal on the part
of the kirk - officer. Mr Drummond had
a fund of dry humour in which he
delighted. The laird happened to meet the
minister one day on the road leading to the grave-
yard, when the conversation naturally turned on
the recent acts of desecration. " And " said the
I hope that is not true." Oh, yes, said Mr Drummond
he did lift a body, I saw him come down the manse
road with it in a big basket. ' ' A look of indignation
crept over the laird's features, but it wore off and
was replaced by a grim smile, when the minister,
with a merry twinkle in his eye, added, "But it
was only the body of a hare for the minister's pot."

Another example of the pawky humour so
characteristic of Scotchmen is exhibited in the
following anecdote, connected with the same case.
A person whom we shall call Mr X, and who was also
strongly suspected of having known the ultimate
destination of the " lifted " body, if not of having
been art and part in the work, was sitting one day
in the hotel (then directly opposite to the present
one, in what is now Mr Wyllie's shop), talking to a
friend who had engaged himself to a neighbouring
farmer. Mr X. seems to have been of a sarcastic or
bantering turn, and thought to deter the farm
servant from his work. "Man," said he, " fowk
will tak' you for a bogle, and ghosts will haunt you
by nicht." " Oh," said he in reply, with a sly hit
at the suspicion i-esting on his friend, " I care little
wha come to me, or what they think o' me
when living if they would only let me alaue when
deed." The shaft had not missed its mark. Mr X.
excused himself and made a hasty departure.

When the body was actually lifted, it required
considerable ingenuity and caution to get it con-
veyed to its destination, which usually in this part
of the country was the University city of Aberdeen.
Numerous expedients were consequently re-
sorted to. And there was the danger
that the despoilers might be discovered in
the act. The following story, though
not actually connected with Glenbervie, but with a
parish not far away, will illustrate this. Two body
miiitcher* hud contrived to get a " body" removed
t'roiu its resting place, and (hwrwo nj'/Ti-nxj
had endeavoured to set it up on a seat in their
vehicle, duly uttircd, and supported by them one


on each side. Thus they set out for Aberdeen but
while near it stopped for refreshment at a way^idn
inn. Without leaving their seat they culled for
their " stirrup cup," which was duly forthcoming
for the two. The good wife of the inn was natur-
ally surprised that they did not extend their
hospitality to the third one, and enquired why
they did not do so. " Oh," said the neatest one in
a light hearted, if only too true remark " this one
does not drink." They departed in the dark, but
the good wife's suspicions were aroused, and on
communicating her story to others, it was strongly
surmised that they had a "body" between them,
and a hot pursuit was resolved on. They were
followed into the city, but the villains, fearing the
consequences of their abominable action, had con-
signed the corpse to a watery grave, by throwing it
over the Bridge of Dee. However, they were
"marked" men, and one of them at least found it
so uncomfortable that he was forced to quit the

Three score years have come and gone since these
things happened, and we are tempted to marvel
how such things were possible. They could not
happen now ; but we must rejoice that they are not
needed now. The pursuit of medical knowledge is
now carried on in a manner more complete and
methodical than in those exciting times, and in no
way is the public conscience, more elevated than then,
in the least degree shocked or annoyed. For this,
and many other beneficent changes during the last
two generations, we ought to be deeply thankful.


Next to his well-known love for a theological
discourse or argument there is, perhaps, nothing
the average Scotchman likes better than a good
story or joke especially when the point of t lie joke
is directed against some other than himself. Quite
able to meet his opponents in argument he ytt knows
that there is, at times, something more telling than
abstract reasoning. Where the latter would fail,
a bit of dry humour or keen shaft of satire will
often avail. There is not a parish in Scotland
where a joke is not now and again " perpetrated,"
a humorous story told, or a grotesque incident
related in illustration of this. In the olden days


when there was less communication between places
than there is now, and less intercourse with the
outside world, such stories were rife. Peculiarities
of character, incidents of rural and village life, and
a thousand other things formed the theme for a sly
humorous remark or a shaft of keen satirical irony.
In the present artificial age there is less chance of
such characteristic humour being found amongst us.
Character may or may not be better formed under
the levelling and equalising influence of the Board
School and our incessant intercourse with each other
far and near over the country, but "characters "
those interesting subjects of study to the observant
student of human nature will henceforth be more
rarely found.

Glenbervie in the past had its " characters " and
its fund of stories which passed from mouth to
mouth over the parish. There are many good ones
still current amongst the parishioners, and we
propose here to give a few by way of sample. The
most of them are related of the Kev. Dr Drummond.
Several of those that follow have already
appeared in print, but being good they will bear
repetition. Characteristic of Scotsmen they have
nearly all reference to kirk or kirk affairs. In the
olden days it was sometimes very difficult in a parish
such as Glenbervie to procure a person competent
-to lead the praise in the church. The diffusion of
musical education through the medium of the
parish school was a tlung undreamt of. Hence too
often the parishioners had no more musical ability
or taste than what Nature had originally endowed
them with. The church, too, was devoid of any
artificial aid to the psalmody such as is so common
now-a-days, and so, in many instances, this part of
the service was wofully dreary and forbidding. But
even when a " leader" was got he did not always
meet with the uuuniiuous approbation of the con-
gregation. There are to be found in every corner
of the land and in every branch of society the
inevitable few who think everything wrong that is
not .shaped on their own anvil. In many cases the
"malcontents" resorted to the undignified and
senseless method of showing their disapprobation by


On a certain Sunday in Mr Drummond's time, it
seouis tlitit an organised attempt had been made on
tlic part of u i'ew to carry oiit this method of en-


forcing their disapprobation cither of the precentor
or the managers of the kirk. They were so far suc-
cessful in this that he fairly collapsed. But Mr
Drtimmond was not a man to be trifled with. At
the moment of collapse he got up, and with a look
of righteous indignation in his eye looked the in-
sulters of the church service fairly in the face, and
said in stem and solemn tones " Let us attempt to
praise God again by singing in the 45th Paraphrase,
1st verse." Thereupon he launched forth at their
heads the words of solemn reproof
" Ungrateful sinners ! whence this scoru
Of God's long suffering grace V
And whence this madness that insults
The Almighty to his face ?"

The rebuke had the desired effect. A blush
of shame crept over the faces of the cowardly delin-
quents, and no further attempts were made to annoy
the precentor.

Mr Driunmond belonged to the old school of
divines, and in the exercise of his ministerial
functions did not care for any outside
interference. All sham and cant were dis-
tasteful to him, and anything savouring in
the least degree of dishonourable conduct came
under his stern rebuke. On one occasion when
about to ordain a new batch of elders he received a
letter from one of his congregation a self-important
farmer in the upper part of the parish in which
he set forth in great detail the defects or weak-
nesses in the character of one of those nominated
for the sacred office. Mr Drummond took a very
characteristic method of reply to the epistle. On
the Sunday previous to that fixed for the ordination
of the proposed elders, and at the close of the
service he asked the congregation to stay for a
minute or two as he had a remarkable epistle to
read to them. Unfolding it, in solemn tones ho
read it over from, beginning to end. In the course
of the reading the author, who was seated in the
gallery, was gradually sliding down from his seat,
until the final words came " yours truly (signed)
when he fairly disappeared below the book
board. The hope may have flickered in the author's
breast to the last that his name would not be
mentioned, but Mr Drumrnond, no doubt, judged
rightly that this unique method of replying to his
misguided literary zeal would have the effect in the


future of checking the ardour of those who might
be too ready to cast aspersions on the personal
character of their neighbours.

Whilst on one of his pastoral visitations Mr
Drummond met one of his congregation who he
recollected had been absent from church for a few
successive Sundays. After the usual salutations
had been exchanged between them, the minister
ventured to hint that he had missed him from
church, aud enquired whether he was in his usual
good health. In a semi-apologetic strain the good
man replied that he had been to Fordoun Church
to hear " Maister Buchan," who at the time had a
great reputation in the district as a preacher.
"Ay, and what thought ye o' him," said the
minister. " michty bricht, sir, michty bricht."
This description fairly tickled the fancy of the
minister who bade him " good day " and departed
with a faint smile beaming over his features.
Apropos of Mr Buchan we may here give an anecdote
connected with Fordoun similar to the one above
quoted. Like Mr Drummond, the minister of
Fordoun had been enquiring of one of his flock a
shepherd what had come over him that he was so
seldom at church. The shepherd who lived in the
upper end of the parish replied that he found it
more convenient for him- to attend at Fettercairn, and
that he had been going there. This did not com-
mend itself as a fully satisfactory reply to the
reverend gentleman, who by a sort of mild argument
said to the shepherd, " But you, a shepherd, I am
sure, do not like your sheep to wander away and
poach on other people's preserves. You would like
them to stay on your own side of the hill." " Weel
sir" replied the shepherd, with a sly look, "I
widna care very muckle whare they gaed, gin the
girse were ony better." This significant hint was
no doubt, not lost on Mr Buchan, but whether the
shepherd came back to the Fordoun fold, or not,
history does not say.


In the days, previous to railways, as is well known
the chief means of communication with the
neighbouring towns was by the carrier. On one
occasion, one of these a Glenbcrvie man was
come upon by Mr Drummond, not far from the
village. His cart was pretty heavily loaded, and had


stuck fast in a deep rut on the road. Do what he
could the poor man could not get it out, but on
coming up the minister sympathised very much
with him, and better still, put his shoulder to the
wheel. By their combined exertions the cart was
soon set agoing. The carrier was most effusive in
expressing his thanks to his reverence, and wound
up his remarks in words, more forcible than polite,
by saying

"Deed, Maister Drummond, you are deevilish
strong," With a significant shake of the hand,
and a slight look of disapprobation on his face the
minister said, " Oh no sir, no, no, not so strong as
kirn.* 1

The carrier in his attempt to tone down the force
of his language, which he recognised as a little too
strong, probably thought he had succeeded much
better in expressing his admiration of the minister's
strength when he blurted out " Weel then, Mr

Drummond, you are d d strong." Evidently

the carrier was wofully deficient in the relative
force or meaning of certain words in the English
language, but his lapsus linguae may be forgiven in
his no doubt sincere desire to convey to the minister
a well-earned compliment for the timely help he
had thus afforded him.


In many rural parishes it is the rule to have only
one service in church on Sunday, and this has
always beea the invariable custom in Glenbervie.
On one occasion it was suggested to Mr Drummond
that he should give two discourses instead of one,
as was done in other parishes in the Presbytery.
The minister did not give a direct reply to the
suggestion, but taking out a shilling asked of his
somewhat zealous clerical friend, if that was not
as good as two sixpences, implying that his one
sermon was as good as any two of his friend's dis-


The old-fashioned plan of the minister
going from house to house in his parish
for the purpose of " catecheesin " the
parishioners has entirely been departed from. The
Shorter Catechism was and indeed still is a standard
manual in Glenbervie for thf religious instruction
of those of " weaker capacity." Great store used to
be set ou the little book in the oldeu days, and Mr


Drummond was most anxious in seeing that each
household in the parish was supplied with it. One
day he called on a small shopkeeper in Drumlithie,
Sandy Cant by name, to see if he had got a supply of
the Catechism. " Oh yes," says the shopman, "here
is a copy of Leitch's Catechirms with Scripture
proofs, and I can sell them noo far cheaper than I
used to do, ye see the duty's reduced. This
rather surprised the minister who remarked
" You surely must be mistaken, there never was
any duty put upon the catechism." " Excuse me
minister ye're wrang, just look at the bottom of
the title page on the Royal Arms andye'U see there
in black and white, " duty moderate." Such was
Sandy's rendering of " Dieu et man droit." The
minister enjoyed a hearty laugh at the good man's
rather free translation of the French motto.


On one occasion Mr Drummond had gone in to
visit a person who had the misfortune to have lost one
of his legs, a substitute being found in a wooden one
which he possessed. The minister sat down and in
the conversation which followed his eye lighted on
the rafters of the house, where he espied what
to all appearances was the chanter of a pair of
bagpipes. "I see you are musical, William, ye
play the bagpipes." " Na, na, Mr Drummond,
was the man's reply, that's nae bagpipes ava, its
just my Sabbath leg." The old man had thus
provided himself with an extra one in case of


In olden times it was customary for goodwives in
the winter season to lay in a goodly supply of beef
in case of a stress of weather or other causes
rendering the usual regular supply unavailable.
There were not then of course the same facilities
for getting all kinds of goods delivered
as there are to-day. The carrier's cart might be
delayed by a storrn, and in the more remote parts
of the country the precaution was taken of "sawtin"
such a quantity as would serve them for a con-
siderable time. A local butcher, who was in the
habit of supplying the occupants of the Manse with
their supply of meat, conveyed to Mr Drummond
the intimation that he had a " very nice piece of
beef for sawtin" the broad Scotch accent with
which the message was delivered making the word


look like the old fashioned pronunciation of the
name Satan. " Tell the butcher," said the minister
to his informant, " that we want none of his beef ;
we have enough to do with ourselves without pro-
viding for Satan : he can very well look after him-


When on a pastoral visitation one day, in the
upper district of the parish, he called upon an old
farmer who was in a very poor state, and who was
expected not to live long. He spoke very tenderly
to him, and advised him seriously to think of his
great approaching change, When the minister had
finished his kindly exhortation the patient looked up
in his face and quietly remarked, " Ay Mr Dram-
mond, I thackit my hoose in the calm, and noo I
am prepared for the storm."


Of the present minister of the parish, Mr Gor-
don, we may be permitted to relate the following

Whilst on a round of visitation he had occasion
to call on a certain old woman in the upper part of
the parish. The old body had had her temper
sorely tried that day by the repeated visits of
beggars and tramps. Just before the minister had
' come up to her door she had turned off in hot
haste one of the wandering fraternity, and was
busy at the fireside doing some cooking. The
minister on going up to the door, knocked, but
imagine his surprise when he heard coming from
the inside of the house " Gae awa' hame wi' ye,
I've ha'en plenty o' your kind the day."
The good man had never received such
a brusque salutation before, but nothing
daunted he entered the old woman's dwelling with
a smiling face, and inquired in his kindly way for
her. The woman's feelings on seeing the reverend
gentlemen, who she imagined would be another
tramp, may be better imagined than described.




No account of denbervie would be complete
without a few words on its main industry

In the early part of the eighteenth century,
and indeed much later, many parts of the parish
were in a wild and uncultivated state. Probably
then not much more thaii one-fourth of the parish
was cultivated. Even at so comparatively recent a
period as the beginning of the present century over
eight thoiisand acres consisted of land unfit for
tillage or hill ; whilst other 1291 acres were con-
sidered as improvcable, that is had recently been
reclaimed. Still later, in 1830, according to the
Statistical Account, ' ' There are many acres in a
wild state, but capable of cultivation. A consider-
able proportion of these may probably continue as
they arc, for a longer period than the progress of
improvement elsewhere would lead us to infer."

The first half of the eighteenth century was a
time of


in agriculture. Besides local circumstances, adverse
to the farming community, the century was re-
markable for some very severe storms, which did
great damage to crops.-

The farmer had no great security to encourage
him in agricultural enterprise. Highland raids were
not uncommon and these led sometimes to great
desolation. Glenbervie was almost in the direct
line of march of these Highland freebooters and no
doubt had suffered along with her neighbours from
these depredations.

Apart from these considerations, farmers then

that would do justice to the soil. The plough was
a clumsy and awkward instrument, and was
generally drawn by oxen. Towards the end of the
Eighteenth Century there were over 50 ploughs in
the parish. Forty years later there were over 70
"scientifically constructed, and of the most effec-
tive description." About 1790 there was not a
thrashing-machine in the parish, whilst about 1830
therewcrelO. Indeed, previous to 1786 there were not
above two or three in Scotland, and ten years later


they were introduced into the county, where they
were very generally adopted although their great
expense and the great power required to put them
in motion limited the application of them to farming

Besides the lack of suitable implements, the
county suffered also from proper


Roads were ill-adapted and full of ruts. Riding or
walking consequently formed the chief means of
locomotion. The old turnpike passed through
Glenbervie, and from it numerous bridle paths
crossed both to the hills and the coast.

The storms of the century were remarkable. The
years 1740 and 1782 standout prominently in this
respect. In the former year the frost was long and
very intense, and vegetation consequently suffered
severely. The latter year is known as the year of


A very small quantity of the crop only was secured,
and what there was, was not of good quality.
Glenbervie farmers seem to have suffered severely.
The poor were reduced to great distress. The
ground did not produce so much as would
have maintained the inhabitants six mouths.
In this and the following year, the Kirk
Session, the universal provider for the poor
in those days, applied nearly 140 stg. of their
funds, in purchasing white pease and barley, in
order to keep the poor from starvation, and to
relieve the necessities of the other inhabitants. The
poverty of the crops will be fully realised when we
know that, hi general, they were more than suffi-
cient for the support of the inhabitants. The crops
then grown were oats, bear, pease, potatoes, clover
and rye -grass.

In very remote periods we have no reliable data
on which to form an estimate of the state of agri-
cnlture, but we know that it must have been very
rude. Up to a period subsequent to the last
Jacobite rising in 1745, the principles of agriculture
were very imperfectly understood. Even in such
an advanced district as the Lothians this was so,
and consequently in the Mearns and other distant
counties we must conclude that agricultural know-
ledge and practice were less well understood.
Nearly all the scientific principles with which the


agriculturist is now familiar, and acts upon, had
hardly begun to appear. Improvements in tillage
operations, in agricultural machines and implements,
the cultivation of our commoner crops such as
turnips, potatoes, clover, and other artificial grasses
was in a manner totally imknown.
But whilst this was so, the


was beginning to excite attention. Through the
influence of the enlightened Cockburn of Ormiston
a society was formed in East Lothian in 1736 for
the improvement of agriculture, and several gentle-
men connected with the Mearns were members of

~f it, one of these being the famous Lord Monboddo.

Y Indeed, it is pleasing to reflect that amid the

general depression of the Eighteenth Century,
efforts were being made in different directions for
the improvement of farms and farming. That
bright band of agricultural reformers included
amongst others the famous Barclay of Ury, who
more than any other exerted himself for the
improvement of agriculture, and whose example
and influence made itself felt on the other landed
proprietors of the county. In addition there were

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Online LibraryGeorge Henderson KinnearHistory of Glenbervie → online text (page 10 of 12)