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Old faces, old places and old stories of Stirling (Volume 1) online

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his black coat, with his best hat and staff, sallied forth with the
erect carriage peculiar to himself, and which at once bespoke
the dignity of his mind and the lightness of his heart. " The
Citizen" had great aversion to seeing his wife with a hat. A
mutch of the first quality he would willingly allow, but hats he
abhorred. He and his wife were, on one occasion, going to
Edinburgh, and, calling at a friend's house on the way, the
friend's wife did not think it proper for Mrs Jaffray to visit the
metropolis in her mutch, and pressed her to adorn her head
with her hat. " The Citizen " said nothing at the time ; but
when on the road, he seemed like a person who had lost his
companion. At last he made a dead stand, and, looking
earnestly into his wife's face, said, " Preserve me, is that you,
Meg ? " and ever after he was wont to say that his wife never
had a hat on but once, and he lost her on that occasion.

But our sketch must come to a close. The first intimation
of a direct nature, which reminded " the Citizen " that his life
was drawing to its termination, was a fall he got in returning
from church one evening. His journeys were now less exten-
sive, and performed with greater trouble to himself, and he
was frequently compelled to apply for medical advice. The
doctor sometimes looked in when not called, just to see " the


Citizen," and on one occasion, in the month of April, when the
ground was still very damp, he found his patient reclining at
full length upon the grass, apparently enjoying a clear blink of
sunshine, and watching the working of his bees. The doctor
rated him as the most incorrigible patient he ever had, but " the
Citizen " leaped up, and with well-feigned vivacity, declared
" he was determined to bring himself up hardy." He was 76
years of age at this time.

When drawing near the close of life, his medical attendant
was most assiduous in his visits, and was frequently accom-
panied by another gentleman 'of the same profession. Once,
when both were present, they proposed that the patient should
be blistered. To this " the Citizen " seemed to submit with
resignation while the doctors were present, but no sooner did
the application begin to make itself felt, than he indignantly
tore it from his breast, declaring that " the two young chields
had come to try their experiments on him, but he would take
care of them," and immediately the plaster was lying on the
floor. Nor could any persuasion bring him to allow it to be
re-applied. In a few days he peacefully passed away.

The last incident we shall mention exhibits " the Citizen "
as equally desirous of benefiting society by his death as he had
proved himself the friend of humanity during his life. About
the time of his last illness, the country was much agitated
by the horrors committed in Edinburgh by Burke and his
fellows, which irritated the people very much against the
medical profession. " The Citizen," sympathising with the
faculty, regretted the scantiness of subjects for dissection, and
requested that his own body should be assigned for this pur-
pose, which, however, was not required.

Once more, " the Citizen " was an exemplary attendant upon
the public ordinances of religion. In theory, indeed, his
religious sentiments were tinged with a certain extravagance,
which seemed quite congenial to his mental taste, and which
was, like his other failings, harmless, and characteristic of the
man. For " even his failings leaned to virtue's side."


Dr. David Doig.

Dr Doig, Rector of the Grammar School of Stirling for up-
wards of forty years, was a very accomplished scholar, and to
him Hector M'Neil, who was a pupil of the Doctor, and lived
for a considerable time at Viewfield House, Stirling, in 1795
dedicated the (at that time and for long after) famous poem,
" Will and Jean."

Dr Doig had a profound knowledge of the Greek and Latin
languages, both of which he wrote with classical purity, and
had made himself master of Hebrew, Arabic, and other Oriental
languages, and was well read in the literature of the East. He
wrote the articles on "Mythology, 7 ' "Philology," and
"Mysteries" in the "Encyclopaedia Britannica," and was
author of other works, both in prose and verse, together with
some criticisms, in the " Edinburgh Magazine," on works pub-
lished by Lord Kames, then residing at Blair Drummond, who,
having found out the critic, instead of being enraged at him,
sent the Doctor a kind and special invitation to come and dine
with him. The Dominie was marvellously surprised at an
invitation coming to him under such circumstances from his
lordship, but took courage, and resolved to accept. It was
thought by the Provost and Magistrates, whom the Doctor had
taken advice from, that it was a compliment both to Doctor
Doig and also to the town. So he proceeded to Blair Drum-
mond House. Espying him at the porch, out came the learned
lord, holding out both his hands, and saluting Doctor Doig
" Come away, come away ; I'm right glad to see you, you
bitch " (a word which was very familiar to him). " O my
lord," said the Dominie, " I've been often called a dug (Doig)
before by the young brats in the town of Stirling, but I protest
I've never been called a bitch till now from such distinguished

Dr Doig was a particularly intimate associate of Mr Ramsay,
of Ochtertyre, the friend of Burns, who, in his " Commonplace
Book," under date 27th August, 1787, thus writes: "At Stir-
ling Supper Messrs Doig the schoolmaster ; Bell, and Captain


Forrester of the Castle. Doig, a queerish figure, and something
of a pedant ; Bell, a joyous fellow, who sings a good song ;
Forrester, a merry, swearing kind of man, with a dash of the
' sodger.' " The inhabitants of Stirling respected Dr Doig so
much that they erected an elegant tombstone over his grave
at Stirling. M'Neil has the following lines respecting him :

The shades of dim twilight descend on the plain,

The pale moon gleams faint on the grave,
The voice of affliction tunes friendship's sad strain,

Re-echoed thus back from the cave.

Vain mortals, whom learning and genius elate,

Enthusiasts who pant for a name ;
Yon village bell, tolled by the mandate of fate,

Proclaims What avails lettered fame ?

He's gone ! to whom learning (though humble his lot),

Full smiling, unclosed all her store,
Called genius to brighten the ardour of thought,

And light paths untrodden before.

Alas ! ye fond Muses, where now dwell your strains,

To these haunts will ye never return ?
Mute, save when remembrance, with all her dark train.

And friendship thus wails o'er the urn.

Yet, yet shall the strains (if such strains shall survive

The sunshine of life's fleeting day)
Record, what, if drooping, perchance may survive,

The minstrel of some future day.

Hector M'Neil, it may be mentioned, was also author of " My
Boy Tammy " (believed to have been composed in reference to
the married life of Major Sparks and his lady, with whom he
resided at Viewfield House), " The Links of Forth," " Bygane
Times," " The Wee Thing," and " Mary of Castlecary."

Mr. Robertson, Bow Street.

The Rev. Mr Ormond, in his " Kirk and a College in the
Craigs," mentions one of his elders, George Robertson. He
lived in the Coffee House Close, Bow Street, and dealt in all


manner of wooden articles. Mr Robertson was very little, one
of the neatest men who walked the streets of Stirling, and was
the last in town to wear knee-breeches. It is told of him, that
when courting the lady who became his wife', he took her to a
property which he possessed, and, pointing to it, said

" When you are mine
All these are thine."

Two of his sons were writers in Glasgow, and one of them be-
came Town Clerk of Govan.

Willie Dawson.

Many will remember William Dawson, broker, who lived for
many years at the Castlehill, in the house at one time the
residence of Provost Buchan. Dawson was a " Willie A'thing,"
and it was indeed a very strange article he could not supply.
A story is told of two wags, one of whom made a bet that Willie
could not supply an article he would ask for. On going to the
Castlehill, W T illie was asked for a " sentry box," which appeared
to be beyond him ; but after the gentleman left the house and
was some way down Barn Road, a " halloo " was heard, and on
going back to Dawson, he was told by him his housekeeper
had put him in mind that there was one in a loft on the other
side of the street, which was really the case, he having bought
it at one of the periodical sales of condemned stores in the

Willie was a farm-servant when a young man, and was a
capital trainer of coursing dogs, one or two of which he always
kept. Many a story he told of the scrapes he got into through
keeping them. He was also a first-rate shot with the smooth-
bore gun, and it required to be one who was " up early " who
could beat him, even when up in years, and many a cheese,
ham, and bun he gained at the Handsel Monday shootings at
Craigmill, Causewayhead, or Drip Bridge. Willie was a regular
attender at sales of farm stock, crop, or furniture, a general
favourite, and, though counted "near," was always ready to


pay his share of the " lawin." He was also a regular attender
at ploughing matches, and a capital judge of the work done.

The reference above to the sales of condemned stores at the
Castle calls to mind another general dealer, " Dan " Shariy, a
genuinely typical Irishman, possessed of a goodly amount of
that rollicking humour which characterises the true son of " the
Emerald Isle." "Dan" was a pretty extensive purchaser of
such stores, and dealt also in old wool and waste, and his
humorous sallies tended not a little to enliven the montony
of auction sales.

Samuel Milligan, Supervisor of Excise.

One of Stirling's more notable citizens some half a century
ago was Mr Samuel Milligan, Supervisor of Excise, who resided
in Queen Street. He was of a pawky, humorous disposition,
and was not only a favourite amongst the older section of the
community, but made great friends with the youth of the
town, always getting them to "shake hands" with him by
means of the little finger, on no account suffering them to do
otherwise, at the same time addressing them in some jocular
way. As smuggling and illicit distilling were carried on not so
very long ago, even in the very heart of the town in one case
the apparatus being fitted up in a dairy boiler-house, from
whence the liquor was carried away in milk-cans on Sabbath
mornings ! the officers had to be very wary and wily, and Mr
Milligan had not a few good stories to tell concerning the
" tricks " he and his men had been successful in bringing to

On one occasion a Highlander came into Stirling with a " wee
keg " wrapped up in his plaid. After calling at all the places
he was in the habit of supplying, without getting it sold, he
met a person who told him he knew one who would " be sure
to take it," and gave him the address of Mr Milligan in Queen
Street. The poor body accordingly went there, was shown in,
and told the Supervisor what he had got. He soon found he was
in the hands of " the Philistines," as his " wee drappie " was at


once confiscated. In the circumstances, however, he was told
to be off, and warned that he would not escape so easily if
found in a scrape again.

Another story concerning Mr Milligan has it that one of the
gangers had been in the habit of taking a drop too much, and,
as excise officers are not the best-liked men in the world, he
was soon reported to his Supervisor, who said that unless he
saw him the worse for drink himself he would do nothing. The
tale-bearer soon had an opportunity, and informed Mr Milligan,
who made his way to the official's house. On being ushered in
he found the tale too true the ganger being "gey fou." Mr
Milligan said he would require to report him, as he could not
have men on his staff who got drunk. Making an effort, the
ganger started to his feet, exclaiming, " If I am drunk, my
books are not drunk," handing them for inspection. Mr
Milligan looked them over, and found them in perfect order,
and finding, on inquiry, that the officer had gone through a
very heavy day's work, he at once pardoned him, but warned
him as to his future conduct.

Ebenezer Johnstone, Journalist.

Died 25th October, 1864.

Mr Johnstone who commenced " The Stirling Observer " on
loth September, 1836, in premises situated at 38 Baker Street,
with 395 subscribers, which number very rapidly increased,
notwithstanding that the price of the newspaper was then 4d.
was in many respects a man of notable character, and was well
known in Stirling, not only from his residence in town, and for
the interest he took in all public matters, but for his gruff
though downright honesty of purpose. His father, George
Johnstone, was a woollen cloth manufacturer in Galashiels, and
came of a branch of the numerous families of Johnstones of
Annandale ; while his mother was the daughter of a blacksmith
in the parish of Little Dunkeld, and he boasted that he was
allied both to the Borderers and the Highlanders.

Mr Johnstone appears to have been in his earlier years con-
nected with the Forfarshire Militia, and about the year 1812


he opened a school in Stirling, the duties of which he dis-
charged in a kind yet firm manner. When thirty years of age
he commenced business as a bookseller and printer, and among
other works he published about that time were " A Picture of
Stirling," and "The County Almanack," the latter continuing
valuable for many years as a book of reference. Among his
later literary efforts were an article on " Stirling " in " The
Edinburgh Encyclopaedia," and a pamphlet on " Prophecy."

One of the founders of the Stirling School of Arts, Mr John-
stone gave his services, along with other prominent townsmen,
as an occasional lecturer in connection with that institution,
which was productive of not a little good in its day. Self-
taught, but endowed with indomitable perseverance and energy,
Mr Johnstone made the best of his talents. His general know-
ledge was not only extensive but accurate, and he possessed a
most retentive memory, which in emergencies never failed him.
Botany was a subject to which he devoted not a little attention,
and in the pursuit of this science he was very successful. It is
right to add that Mr Johnstone was all his life a consistent
Liberal, both in politics and religion ; and, though strong in
the expression of his opinions, was greatly respected by men of
all parties.

For a long period of years Mr Johnstone was a member of the
Town Council, and took a specially prominent part in its work,
more particularly from about the year 1834. In that year he
made a speech on the contribution paid from the burgh funds
towards the expense of the communion elements in the
Established Church, and unfair means were used to prevent
a report of the speech appearing in "The Stirling Journal,"
then the only newspaper in town. The Rev. Dr Bennie also
took occasion to denounce Mr Johnstone from the pulpit, or at
least Mr Johnstone thought he was referred to, although the
minister denied it, and in the Council the rev. Doctor sneeringly
alluded to the Councillor as originally a private soldier in the
Forfarshire Militia. Mr Johnstone published a pamphlet in
reply, which was very spirited, and was signed, " Ebenr. John-
stone, 19 years ago Private Soldier in the Forfarshire Militia."
There can be little doubt that in consequence of the treatment
he received in the controversy about the communion money,


Mr Johnstone conceived the happy idea of starting a newspaper
of his own, which was conducted by him with considerable
energy until November, 1860, when he sold the property. On
various other occasions Mr Johnstone is reported as having
taken a leading part in matters concerning the welfare of the
inhabitants of Stirling, and was indefatigable in probing to the
bottom any subject he took in hand, his colleagues on more
than one occasion awarding him special thanks for the infor-
mation he had afforded them. He was fearless, and at times
scathing, in his denunciation of what he deemed reprehensible,
whether in individuals or public bodies, but exercised a kindly
and considerate disposition to those he considered worthy and

Chief-Constable Alexander Meffen.

Died 7th January, 1867.

" Sandy " Meffen was a native of Aberdeen, and commenced
life as a worker in a mill. Early in life he enlisted in the 78th
Highlanders, which he left after some years' service, and joined
the Glasgow Police Force. There his steady and intelligent
conduct was so much appi'eciated that, on leaving that city to
undertake the duties of chief detective officer at Dunblane, he
was presented with a valuable testimonial by his brother
officers. After a few years' service in Dunblane he was appointed
Police Superintendent, and later on the new regulations com-
ing into force to be Chief-Constable of Stirlingshire. Mr
Meffen was much respected throughout the shire, and stood
high in the estimation of the county gentlemen as an active
and intelligent officer : those still living (they are now very few)
who had the pleasure of meeting him in a social capacity can
never forget his happy manner. He was at his best when,
duty over, he took the chair in " Nelly's " (Peter Fisher's),
surrounded by a bailie or two, some town councillors, and a
number of merchants, with the little kettle always steaming
ready for the next round of toddy, which had to be played for
by " selling the mare," or at " Simon says, Thumbs up."


Mr. William Drummond.

Mr William Drummond, of the well-known firm of Wm.
Drummond & Sons, seedsmen, died at Rockdale on 25th
November, 1868, in the 76th year of his age. He was the eldest
son of the founder of the firm, and his long term of life was
spent within sight of the spot where he was born. How dis-
tinguished he was for benevolence of nature, bountiful
liberality, gentleness of manner, and inoff ensiveness of life ;
how he gave himself to forward the interests of the town, and
how he employed his skill and artistic taste in ornamenting
localities with which he was familiar, all connected with the
town well knew. His humble and unobtrusive piety ; his readi-
ness for every good work ; his open-handedness ; his catholic
spirit, combined with unflinching adherence to principle, every
one who enjoyed the privilege of his friendship could testify of.

Mr Drummoud's knowledge of the history of our country,
in its many sufferings for truth's sake, formed his special study,
awakened his deepest sympathies, and found expression in the
erection of statues of Reformers and Martyrs which so greatly
beautify our Cemetery and other parts of the town. He spent
a great deal, both of tim& and money, in the interests of the
Cemetery, and almost up to the day of his death he might have
been seen, like pious James Hervey, meditating amongst the
tombs, and contemplating the further ornamentation of " God's
Acre." He also took deep interest in the erection of the
National Wallace Monument.

On two occasions Mr Drummond was offered the freedom of
the burgh, but on conscientious and private grounds he declined
the honour. Steadfast and immovable he was in the work to
which he set his hand ; he never looked back. Onward and
upward his progress was. He was always kind to the poor.
And more perhaps than any man of his time was it true of him,
that his left hand knew not what his right did. He left a bright
example. May there be many to follow it.


3En JHemoriam.

Wm. Drummond, Esq., Rockdale Lodge.
Died 25th November, 1868.

Another breach in the goodly band,

Another empty place ;
Another song in the spirit-land,

A song of free, full grace ;
Another voice in the tumult stilled,

Another tone of love ;
Another heart of kindness chilled,

To beat more warm above ;
Another arm in. the strife brought low,

Another wrestler laid ;
Another soul, thro' a bewildering throe,

In Heaven's own garb arrayed.

So fade they as the falling leaf,

So pass they like the storm,
So sink they as the setting sun,

In many a varied form.
And o'er their graves affection's tears

In pearly dew-drops fall,
And heart that braved the blight of years,
And hopes that mocked a myriad fears,

Lie shrouded in grief's pall.

To-day we lay, 'mid weeping skies,
With saddened hearts and tearful eyes,

His honoured head beneath the sod,
Whose loving hands made fair with flowers,
And sculpture bright, and fairy bowers,

The beauteous acre of our God ;
Whose liberal heart to Jesus' feet
Did joy, with gratefulness most meet,

Its golden gifts to bring ;
Whose modest soul shrunk back from fame,
And gloried only in the name

Of Christ the Church's King.


Why should we mourn, tho' from the land

His soul hath passed away,
Led by a Father's unseen hand

Through darkness up to day?
He meekly bore the smiting,

And he kissed the chas'ning rod,
For his spirit knew no fighting

With the purposes of God ;
And he taught how calm the passing

Of the Christian's life may be,
For he gladly heard the summons,

" Home thy Father calleth thee."

Thomas Stuart Smith.

Died 31st December, 1869.

Thomas Stuart Smith, to whom Stirling is indebted for the
Smith Institute, had the misfortune to be for some time un-
acknowledged by his parents. His mother he was never certain
of, but Thomas Smith, whose brother was a well-known
merchant in Stirling (their mother being sister of Alexander
Jaffray, Provost of Stirling, who had succeeded to the estate
of Glassingall, near Dunblane, and through whom it descended
to Thomas Stuart Smith), afterwards recognised him as his sou.

Thomas Smith the elder was in the year 1821 in the employ-
ment of a London Canadian Company, where he made the
acquaintance of Thomas Gait, the novelist, who was then
secretary to the Company. He also at that time acquired the
friendship of Professor Owen, the distinguished naturalist, who
accompanied him to France in 1827, when he had with him a
boy about 13 years of age, and whom he represented to be his
son, and wished to place at school, under the care of a M.
Montenaries of Bourbourg. Professor Owen frequently, during
that and the following year, saw the boy in the company of his
father, who seems*to have taken every means for his welfare.
Before leaving France he saw his friend, Mr Robert Cassells, at
Dunkirk, introduced his son to him, and begged him to pay all
possible attention to the boy. With Mr Cassells he also left
money for his son's use.


On leaving England for the West Indies in 1828 Mr Smith
placed funds in the hands of Mr Auld, secretary of the Scots
Corporation in London, to enable him to pay the expenses of
his son's education. It is believed that he was accidentally
drowned off the island of Cuba in 1834. Any estrangement
between Thomas Smith and his brother, Alexander, seemed to
have been overcome, and in May, 1836, Mr Auld wrote to Mr
Alexander Smith, telling him for the first time of the existence
of his nephew, of his successful efforts as an artist, and of the
lad's desire of still further prosecuting his studies. Alexander,
with little knowledge of art, was still shrewd enough, by what
had been represented to him, to take an interest in his nephew,
and generously provided him with a sufficient annual allowance.

From 1836 to 1849 Thomas Stuart Smith resided in Italy,
working hard at his profession. His allowance, however, ceased
on the death of his uncle, which took place at Glassingall in
July, 1849, and as he left no will this, it was supposed, having
been accidentally destroyed a little before his death there was
'no one left who could prove his title to it, and the estate,
therefore, became the property of the Crown.

Having left Italy, Mr Smith proceeded to London, where he
applied to Professor Owen, whom he recollected as having been
his father's friend, and who, being convinced of his identity, at
once interested himself on his behalf. Getting other influence
on his side, Mr Smith, after the lapse of seven years, received
a donation from the Crown of the estate of Glassingall and
Canglour, and resided at Glassingall for a time, but not being
successful as a " Scotch Laird," disposed of the property and

Online LibraryWilliam DrysdaleOld faces, old places and old stories of Stirling (Volume 1) → online text (page 9 of 25)