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Farm Servants

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  • Hester NicEilidh
    ... small, one, or possibly two rooms, with thatched roofs, dirt or clay floors and one small window, two, if lucky. I have an enormous collection of
    Message 1 of 8 , Feb 13, 2006
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      Jim Thomson wrote:

      >>>much better than most farm servant cottages. Those were often
      small, one, or possibly two rooms, with thatched roofs, dirt or clay
      floors and one small window, two, if lucky. I have an enormous
      collection of materials on the situation that farm servants,
      married or single, experienced, and it covers most of the 19th
      century and particularly Aberdeenshire.<<<

      Hi, Jim:

      I read your post with great interest.

      I was particularly intrigued by your mention of "farm servants".
      This is not a term I've come across before, but you've obviously
      done a lot of research on the topic and I'd like to learn more.

      At the time of her marriage in 1863, my GG GM Helen Mitchell was
      a "domestic servant" at Artrochie in Logie Buchan. I visited
      Artrochie in 2004, and it was quite a small farm. I spoke with the
      current tenant of the house, a diver on the North Sea oil rigs, and
      he suggested that it was unlikely that such a small place would have
      had "servants", but rather that my ancestor may have lived at
      Artrochie and worked as a maid at the nearby estate of Auchmacoy,
      either at the Laird's house or on the Home Farm.

      Since then, I've come across a 1881 census entry that showed that
      Helen was not originally from Logie Buchan, but had been born in Old
      Deer. That suggests to me that she moved to Artrochie looking for
      work.

      Also, I've just recently come across this description in Walter
      Gregor's _Notes on the Folk-lore of the North-East of Scotland_,
      written in 1881:

      >>>At the one corner of the hearth sat the father, and at the other
      the mother. Between the two sat the family, and it might be a
      servant or two, for all were on a footing of equality, the servant
      being a neighbour's son or daughter of exactly the same rank and
      means.<<<

      [Source: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/nes/nes13.htm ]

      Gregor seems to be describing a small, humble farm not unlike
      Artrochie would have been.

      So, do you think my GG GM was a "farm servant" then? Would this
      status have been described as "domestic servant" on a marriage
      certificate? Or was my ancestor more likely "daily help" at the
      Laird's house next door?

      Looking forward to your insights into this aspect of the social
      history of the area.

      Cheers, Hester
    • Allan Harrop
      Hi Hester, I have just read your message and realised that our ancestors were neighbours, and possibly knew each other. My gr grandmother, Elizabeth Clark,
      Message 2 of 8 , Feb 14, 2006
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        Hi Hester,
        I have just read your message and realised that our ancestors were
        neighbours, and possibly knew each other.
        My gr grandmother, Elizabeth Clark, dau. of George Clark and Helen Geddes ,
        was a domestic servant at South Artrochie,
        Logie Buchan, when she married Alexander Kinghorn( from Peterhead) in 1868
        She had had an illegitimate son Alexander Sangster Clark at Bilbopark a
        few years previously and did not name the father.
        Her sister Bathia also had an illegitimate child and then later married an
        Alexander Sangster, Artrochie.
        Sounds like quite a love triangle, but I probably will never know the facts
        !!
        Wouldn't you just love to go back in time to see what their lives were like?
        Eileen
        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Hester NicEilidh" <hesternic@...>
        To: <Peterhead@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Monday, February 13, 2006 2:33 PM
        Subject: [Peterhead] Farm Servants


        > Jim Thomson wrote:
        >
        >>>>much better than most farm servant cottages. Those were often
        > small, one, or possibly two rooms, with thatched roofs, dirt or clay
        > floors and one small window, two, if lucky. I have an enormous
        > collection of materials on the situation that farm servants,
        > married or single, experienced, and it covers most of the 19th
        > century and particularly Aberdeenshire.<<<
        >
        > Hi, Jim:
        >
        > I read your post with great interest.
        >
        > I was particularly intrigued by your mention of "farm servants".
        > This is not a term I've come across before, but you've obviously
        > done a lot of research on the topic and I'd like to learn more.
        >
        > At the time of her marriage in 1863, my GG GM Helen Mitchell was
        > a "domestic servant" at Artrochie in Logie Buchan. I visited
        > Artrochie in 2004, and it was quite a small farm. I spoke with the
        > current tenant of the house, a diver on the North Sea oil rigs, and
        > he suggested that it was unlikely that such a small place would have
        > had "servants", but rather that my ancestor may have lived at
        > Artrochie and worked as a maid at the nearby estate of Auchmacoy,
        > either at the Laird's house or on the Home Farm.
        >
        > Since then, I've come across a 1881 census entry that showed that
        > Helen was not originally from Logie Buchan, but had been born in Old
        > Deer. That suggests to me that she moved to Artrochie looking for
        > work.
        >
        > Also, I've just recently come across this description in Walter
        > Gregor's _Notes on the Folk-lore of the North-East of Scotland_,
        > written in 1881:
        >
        >>>>At the one corner of the hearth sat the father, and at the other
        > the mother. Between the two sat the family, and it might be a
        > servant or two, for all were on a footing of equality, the servant
        > being a neighbour's son or daughter of exactly the same rank and
        > means.<<<
        >
        > [Source: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/nes/nes13.htm ]
        >
        > Gregor seems to be describing a small, humble farm not unlike
        > Artrochie would have been.
        >
        > So, do you think my GG GM was a "farm servant" then? Would this
        > status have been described as "domestic servant" on a marriage
        > certificate? Or was my ancestor more likely "daily help" at the
        > Laird's house next door?
        >
        > Looking forward to your insights into this aspect of the social
        > history of the area.
        >
        > Cheers, Hester
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > Peterhead Genealogy at http://users.bigpond.net.au/phdgen/
        >
        > To unsubscribe send a messaged to: Peterhead-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
        >
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
      • Hester NicEilidh
        ... Helen Geddes ,was a domestic servant at South Artrochie, Logie Buchan, when she married Alexander Kinghorn( from Peterhead) in 1868 She had had an
        Message 3 of 8 , Feb 15, 2006
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          Eileen wrote:

          >>> My gr grandmother, Elizabeth Clark, dau. of George Clark and
          Helen Geddes ,was a domestic servant at South Artrochie,
          Logie Buchan, when she married Alexander Kinghorn( from Peterhead)
          in 1868 She had had an illegitimate son Alexander Sangster Clark at
          Bilbopark a few years previously and did not name the father.
          Her sister Bathia also had an illegitimate child and then later
          married an Alexander Sangster, Artrochie. Sounds like quite a love
          triangle, but I probably will never know the facts !! Wouldn't you
          just love to go back in time to see what their lives were like?<<<


          Hi, Eileen:

          Yes, indeed, their lives do sound intriguing! Artrochie sounds like
          the mid-19th c. Scottish version of "Wisteria Lane"! [Now, there's
          an idea for a new TV soap opera!]

          I think for those of us who expected dour, repressed Presbyterians
          as our ancestors, that we're a bit bemused to find that they
          apparently had rather swinging sex lives, even by modern standards.

          Jim and Ray have emphasized that our ancestors, especially the farm
          servants and domestic servants, worked very hard. But obviously,
          with so many illegitimate births among the young servants, they also
          played very hard too.

          I'm wondering what the social life was like for the young servants
          on the farms. The young female domestic servants and male farm
          servants obviously "mixed", even if their duties were sharply
          delineated between inside and outside. And servants from
          neighbouring farms apparently had "contact" with each other too.
          What sort of social activities did they engage in together?

          Away from home and their parents' scrutiny, these farm servants seem
          to have had as much 'fun' as modern university students.

          I'm currently taking a course in Scottish Country Dancing. One of
          the instructors, to keep us looking at our partners instead of our
          feet, keeps emphasizing that SCD is all about flirting (continually
          shifting partners, holding hands, etc.). Would young servants on NE
          Scottish farms have had a place/time to dance like this?

          And where would the love affairs that led to the illeg. bairns have
          taken place? To quote the English folk song, "Underneath Her
          Apron":

          "Oh, was it in the kitchen got, or was it in the hall?
          Was it in the cow-shed or up again the wall?

          Whole song:

          http://tinyurl.com/8yan5

          [BTW, Anne Brigg does a wonderful version of this song!]

          Cheers, Hester
        • Phoebe
          ... I was really excited when I saw this posting ( as only a genealogist can be)My 3rd Gt Grandfather was John McWilliam from Peterhead area, born abt. 1790,
          Message 4 of 8 , Feb 17, 2006
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            --- In Peterhead@yahoogroups.com, jsethomson@... wrote:
            >
            > Hi Jim,
            I was really excited when I saw this posting ( as only a genealogist
            can be)My 3rd Gt Grandfather was John McWilliam from Peterhead area,
            born abt. 1790, he certainly was married to Elizabeth Robb 17 Aug
            1813 at Peterhead, as a potential father to him I had William
            McWilliam and Janet Rainie.
            As I have no death of John, I am presuming he was drowned at sea as
            he was a mariner, I only have one piece of evidence that his parents
            were William and Janet Rainie and that is from the OPR.
            I have his sister Margaret marrying a John Milne.
            Does any of this ring bells, I have come to a dead end here as
            nobody wants to appear on a census or die in a place I can find them.
            Regards,
            Fiona Poulton


            I can provide you with some interesting history of his
            > grandfather, William McWilliam, and his career in the North Gordon
            Fencibles
            > from 1778-83. He met Jane Ranie in Peterhead, and on September 2,
            1782, they
            > were married in a military wedding at Williams headquarters in
            Aberdeen. After
            > service he relocated to Kinmundy in Longside Parish. He worked
            with the
            > initial wool received. The Kilgours that were his employers were
            truly very fine
            > and decent for the times. It has been suggested that is why they
            failed. The
            > Longside minister in the First Statistical abstract so highly
            praises them
            > that Maisie Stevens in her book on Eighteenth Century Scotland
            quotes him. Their
            > second plant on the north side of Longside was located at
            Auchlee, just
            > north of Longside village, today. Much of the help prior to its
            closing, for
            > that plant, came from cottars places in the very boggy and swampy
            areas to the
            > North. In 1823, one could have worked there, and have lived on
            the south west
            > part of St. Fergus. I have photos of Wm McWilliams home in the
            highland -like
            > area, just two miles south of Dufftown in Mortlach parish. The
            church
            > records show the McWilliams were living on the Duke of Gordon's
            land there from
            > the early 1700's. The McWilliams area is now owned by the Crown
            Estates, and
            > since 1937. I also have beautiful colored plates of the various
            Highland
            > uniformed North Gordon Fencibles including their pipers...the
            English reluctantly
            > let Scots have their pipes if they served in their military
            units. I even
            > have copies of some of Williams military records from the
            National Archives(Wade
            > Buchan also furnished me William's service records). Williams
            brother,
            > Robert, also served in the unit. The plates give any wall a
            brilliant spot of
            > red for an interior decorator.
            >
            > I recall that 45 Kirk Street was very close to John and Margaret
            Milnes
            > address. These were not fancy quarters, but were still much
            better than most
            > farm servant cottages. Those were often small, one, or possibly
            two rooms,
            > with thatched roofs, dirt or clay floors and one small window,
            two, if lucky. I
            > have an enormous collection of materials on the situation that
            farm servants,
            > married or single, experienced, and it covers most of the 19th
            century and
            > particularly Aberdeenshire.
            >
            > I have been to Scotland four times. The first time I visited
            Peterhead was
            > in April of 1946...enormous changes since then. The nineteenth
            century was a
            > very difficult time for one-third of the Scottish
            population...Rosalind
            > Mitchison says that for them them they were always on the verge of
            needing poor
            > relief....a situation that was not very pretty. Many of the
            descendants became
            > part of the Scottish diaspora...Scotland was a bittersweet
            experience for them
            > but I find its social dynamics fascinating nevertheless, and more
            so than other
            > countries social histories that I have studied. It was the most
            closely
            > owned country in Europe both then and now.
            >
            > Please let me know if you find anything on your James Milne"s
            final days.
            >
            > Sincerely, Jim Thomson
            >
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
          • Hester NicEilidh
            ... ancestors were neighbours, and possibly knew each other. My gr grandmother, Elizabeth Clark, dau. of George Clark and Helen Geddes , was a domestic servant
            Message 5 of 8 , Feb 19, 2006
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              Eileen wrote:

              >>> Hi Hester, I have just read your message and realised that our
              ancestors were neighbours, and possibly knew each other. My gr
              grandmother, Elizabeth Clark, dau. of George Clark and Helen
              Geddes , was a domestic servant at South Artrochie, Logie Buchan,
              when she married Alexander Kinghorn( from Peterhead) in 1868. She
              had had an illegitimate son Alexander Sangster Clark at Bilbopark a
              few years previously and did not name the father. Her sister Bathia
              also had an illegitimate child and then later married an Alexander
              Sangster, Artrochie. Sounds like quite a love triangle, but I
              probably will never know the facts!! Wouldn't you just love to go
              back in time to see what their lives were like?<<<

              Hi, Eileen:

              That's a terrific story! Artrochie sounds like the 19th century
              Scottish version of "Wisteria Lane"!

              I'm sorry for the delay in my response. I did respond to your
              message off-list, but I suspect my reply did not get through to your
              e-mail account. Since my previous post, I have found some more
              information about my ancestor at Artrochie. I also have pictures of
              Artrochie farm and surrounding area from my visit in 2004 that I
              could scan and e-mail to you.

              If you're interested, please contact me directly by e-mail at

              hesternic@...

              Cheers, Hester
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