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Re: [Peterhead] Farm Servants; Reply from J. Thomson

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  • jsethomson@aol.com
    Good Morning, Hester: Your GG GM Helen Mitchell was not what was considered a farm servant . She would have been considered a household servant . Farm
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 13, 2006
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      Good Morning, Hester: Your GG GM Helen Mitchell was not what was
      considered a "farm servant". She would have been considered a household "servant".
      "Farm servants" were either men or women that actually worked outside doing
      actual agricultural work. The pattern was very nearly universal. Single men or
      women, would be hired for a six month term as farm servants; A married man
      commonly would be hired for a year...most often, like my greatgrandfather, he got
      one of those cottages I previously described. I believe in the time of Helen
      Mitchell that it would be fair to say that in most rural parishes well over
      one- third were such "farm servants"..maybe far more. There were "hiring
      fairs" at prominent country towns, held in November, and May or each year. Most
      of the "farm servants" were hired at such times. However domestic womans help
      might be handled otherwise...perhaps the farmers wife would see to the hiring
      of her helpers, herself. There might be two or more different versions of the
      domestic help. One or more servant girls would be strictly working at inside
      projects. It, of course, depended on the size of the farm and the farmer's
      family. Those of any size, where they had regular inside only girl servants,
      would have one "in and out" servant girl. She handled the garden, chickens,
      perhaps butter and cheese making, and also had to help the inside girl.

      It is hard to say when a small farm might have a man servant and/or woman
      servant. I was surprised to see, I believe it was the 1851 census of
      Boddam-Peterhead Parish, that my ggrandmother's sister and brother in law had both a
      female servant and a male servant..the latter definitely a 'farm servant" Later
      they had none but the boys growing older made it unecessary.

      Young girls, typically, as in most of GB, would start off helping some
      family, in the immediate neighborhood. My ggrandmother Elspet Milne had just turned
      13 years old, and was listed as a house servant at Whitehill a substantial
      small farm on the outskirts of Peterhead...supposed to be an alcoholic
      rehabilitation place today, I am told. I suspect she was either hired directly
      thereafter, or at the hiring fair held in Longside, twice a year, to someplace down
      in Logie Buchan Parish. James Buchan, a large landowner in both Longside and
      Logie Buchan may have hired her. I have wondered if James Buchan who was the
      owner of the Estate of Auchmacoy, was the "James" after which my grandfather
      was name...he was regarded as a very decent and fair man, and if he had been
      good to her, it was not uncommon for servant girls to remember on having their
      first child.

      The single male servants were notorious for "flitting". This meant that
      they most almost had a habit, no matter whether they liked a farm, of moving on
      in six months or a year. The ministers complained that this was so common
      that they hardly got to know much any of these members of their parish.

      I am sure you have a good library handy...if you live in Toronto...a
      wonderful one...I used it for genealogical purposes two years ago. If you want to
      know what life was like in the second half of the 19th century in the rural areas
      around Peterhead, one David Kerr Cameron, a former London newspaper man,
      whose father and grandfather were "crofters" in the area has written at least
      threee fine books on the subject: The Ballad and the Plough" (farm servant"s
      lives); Willie Gavin, Crofter Man..(about the men who leased small plots, and
      were semi-independent--a real life style, now all but gone, but different than
      the "crofter" style" still existing by law in the Highlands).
      A former U. of Aberdeen Professor, Ian Carter, has written a very find
      scholastic book about Farm Life in Northeast Scotland. He describes in considerable
      detail the situation of "farm servants" in Aberdeenshire. Another scholastic
      book about Farm Life in Scotland generally by Thomas M. Devine, is also very
      good, but Aberdeenshire is not covered as well.

      I should mention that I am quite familiar with the area around Auchmacoy...I
      was last there in Oct. of 2003. Rannieston, is the first farm that my newly
      married Ggrandparents lived on, and it is within walking distance...the mansion
      is for rent to tourists...see "Rannieston" on Google. In their last years
      in Scotland, they were one of four married farm servant couples living on the
      Estate of Birness on the north part of Logie Buchan.

      I have very considerable material on Logie Buchan parish...of course all
      three of the Statistical Abstracts for the same...1790's 1840's and 1950's. In
      addition a book called the "The Vale of Ythan" Ythan is the river that runs
      through Logie Buchan. The book was written in the 1890's when they were having
      a subscription drive to finance a bridge that now crosses from the old parish
      church over and close to the Estate of Auchmacoy. In 1977, I attended the
      second to last church service there. The church is now owned by the owner of
      Auchmacoy who is the Clan Chief of Buchan, and apparently it is opened only for
      the 'clans" special doings now.

      I noted in your previous e-mail you were speculating on the paternity
      situation of one or more persons. It is altogether possible that the "Robert" Milne
      to which you refer was your "James" Milnes brother. I am living in my present
      location as winter quarters for another month...but almost all of my files
      are back in the midwest, but I am reasonably sure that of the three baptized
      brothers one was named "Robert" I have not way of knowing if any reached
      maturity, but obviously the one unbaptized, to our knowledge, reached it, in order
      to buy a lair(cemetery plot" for his mother and father in the year 1856.
      Illegitmacy ran around 20 % at the time; however it did not often hurt a girl's
      chances...she showed she was fertile and already had some assurance that there
      was someone to take care of them when old...the "Poor Law" was no safety net
      at all, and no Social Security and the poor houses abomindable.

      I do go on Scotlandspeoples from time to time...and it has been a
      genealogical gold mine. I am also a member of the Aberdeen and Northeast Scotland Family
      History Center, and they have been of great help as has been some of their
      publications. I will, hopefully be writing a manuscript about the Thomsons,
      Milnes, and McWilliams and others eventually, as I now have eleven bankers boxes
      full of material on my desk in the midwest awaiting my return...I will add
      at least another bankers box from my work here in Virginia, over the winter.

      I could go on for hours on end on Scottish social history...some may fault
      me on this or that. To them I say, there is a great deal of variation from
      parish to parish and county to county with Scotland. I have ordered a new book
      entitled "Buchan Words and Ways" from "Books From Scotland" (they take your
      credit card) Buchan is the old name for most or the area from around Ellon
      north. From Ellon south, the old name was "Formartine". (sp).

      As you can see, this is just too long for an e-mail, so will close.

      Regards, Jim Thomson


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    • Hester NicEilidh
      Hi, Jim: Thank you for that wonderful explanation of the various types of servants and their duties! ... November, and May of each year.
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 13, 2006
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        Hi, Jim:

        Thank you for that wonderful explanation of the various types of
        servants and their duties!

        >>>There were "hiring fairs" at prominent country towns, held in
        November, and May of each year.<<<

        Oh, that's enlightening! Although Logie Bucan is not very far away
        from Old Deer by our modern sensibilities, it was far enough that I
        wondered how Helen had heard about the job, since "word of mouth"
        would probably not travel that far. A centralized hiring fair is a
        likely answer (far more likely than the newspaper ad my husband
        suggested).

        >>> The single male servants were notorious for "flitting". This
        meant that they most almost had a habit, no matter whether they
        liked a farm, of moving on in six months or a year. The ministers
        complained that this was so common that they hardly got to know much
        any of these members of their parish.<<<

        My GG GF, Alexander Forbes, who married Helen, was probably one of
        these "flitters". He was an "Angricultural Labourer" at the Mains
        of Tarty, just across the Ythan from Artrochie and Auchmacoy. He
        originally came from nearby Slains parish. By the 1881 census, he
        and Helen were living in Peterhead, where he worked as a "Carter".
        The birthplaces of their children shown on the 1881 census indicate,
        however, that immediately after their marriage, before the birth of
        their first son, they had moved from Logie Buchan to Helen's home
        parish of Old Deer, where their first two children were born, before
        going to Peterhead.

        Given the ministers' complaints, I suspect the "flitting" from place
        to place was one way for the young men to avoid the social control
        of the church and community elders. I suspect many young men were
        reluctant church-goers. I know that my G GF, Helen & Alexander's
        son, steadfastly refused to attend church here in Canada, although
        his wife was a regular church-goer and active in the Ladies'
        Auxillary at the local Presbyterian church.


        >>> I am sure you have a good library handy...if you live in
        Toronto...a > wonderful one...I used it for genealogical purposes
        two years ago. <<<

        Yes, our public library here is quite impressive. Using on-
        line "holds" I can have a book delivered to my local branch from any
        branch in the city. And the central reference library has a ton of
        more obscure material (non-circulating). In addition, I have access
        as an alumni to both UofT and York's libraries. A researcher's
        dream location!

        >>> David Kerr Cameron, The Ballad and the Plough
        Willie Gavin, Crofter Man
        Ian Carter, Farm Life in Northeast Scotland <<<

        I shall look for those!

        Also, at the suggestion of someone in the "Doric" Yahoo group, I've
        just ordered a used copy of the novel _Logie o' Buchan_ written by
        Gavin Grieg, the folksong collector, published in 1899 (and re-issed
        in 1985). The novel is set in 1746 in a different Logie, between
        Strichen & Crimond, and the plot elaborates the story of the
        folksong "Logie o'Buchan".

        Here's a streamed sound file of the song as sung by Heather Heywood:

        http://www.thetraditionbearers.com/htmfiles/sounds_heatherheywood.htm

        and the lyrics to the song:

        http://tinyurl.com/8jrlc

        Although in novel form, the book contains a great deal of the folk
        customs and social history of the area, as researched by Grieg, who
        was a schoolteacher.

        >>> I should mention that I am quite familiar with the area around
        Auchmacoy...I was last there in Oct. of 2003. Rannieston, is the
        first farm that my newly married Ggrandparents lived on, and it is
        within walking distance...the mansion is for rent to
        tourists...see "Rannieston" on Google.<<<

        Here it is:

        http://www.camp-sites.co.uk/blakescottages/ranniestonhouse.htm

        How lovely! Sleeps 12! Sounds like a bit more room than just my
        husband and I need, but I'd be very interested if anyone could
        suggest some "cozier" (& slightly more economical) accomodation as a
        base for exploring the area next time we visit. I'd been thinking
        of the Udny Arms Hotel in Newburgh, but had seen some negative
        reviews of it on-line. What are other members' experiences with and
        suggestions for accomodation in the area?

        >>>The church is now owned by the owner of Auchmacoy who is the
        Clan Chief of Buchan, and apparently it is opened only for
        the 'clans" special doings now.<<<

        Oh, yes, I'd come across an article about that at the "Clan Buchan"
        website:

        http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~buchan/chiefbio.html

        Many thanks for all your info, Jim!

        Cheers, Hester
      • MARGIE DAVIDSON
        Hester, Should you wish information re accommodation in this are please feel free to contact me off list at margiedavidson@btinternet.com as I live in Cruden
        Message 3 of 3 , Feb 14, 2006
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          Hester,

          Should you wish information re accommodation in this are please feel free to contact me off list at margiedavidson@... as I live in Cruden Bay just next door to all the places you are mentioning. Know them all well- even Tarty as my Great Aunt and her husband lived in a farm labourers cottage there until he retired,








          Margie.........Cruden Bay


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