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Re: [Peterhead] "Bothy" vs. "Chaumer" / Bothy ballads/ Shanty songs; Reply

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  • jsethomson@aol.com
    Greetings, Hester: I will have a detailed e-mail response to your mail on the James Milne-Elizabeth Walker matter, but I need a little time to work that out.
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 15, 2006
      Greetings, Hester: I will have a detailed e-mail response to your mail on
      the James Milne-Elizabeth Walker matter, but I need a little time to work that
      out. Suffice to say that there is more than a 90% chance that one or more of
      their children or their children's descendants, became Mormons. I have seen
      Mormon filings before on their family net. If your James Milne and my James
      Milne are one and the same, I believe we both have distant Mormon relatives.
      At any rate, James and Elizabeth seem to be your ancestors, and in that event,
      almost certainly you have Mormon relatives someplace. Right now I am not
      sure how you find them, but I have had the same sheets and references before and
      came up with the names and addresses of the filers.(I have used a genealogist
      and specialist in Scots genealogy( a Mormon) in Salt Lake before, and I know
      she could solve part of the problem) I am following one Thomas McWilliam, my
      ggrandmothers uncle, who emigrated at age 52 to New Zealand and was both
      eminently successful and also had descendants there who were noted citizens. My
      point being that your James Milne could have emigrated: to England;to Canada;
      to New Zealand; to Australia, to the United States, or possibly another
      location. At older ages, it did occur to them to follow their children to the
      childrens location...it assurred the same form of social security that children
      gave them in Scotland.

      Ian Carter in his book: FARM LIFE IN NORTHEAST SCOTLAND subtitled the
      book: (The Poor Man's Country) was primarily referring to Aberdeenshire, but
      he could definitely have included Kincardineshire also(where Scots Quair and
      Sunset Song are sited)

      In Aberdeenshire, the farms were smaller on the average. The richest and
      most productive Scottish farms at the time were in the area down and around
      Edinburgh...their was a belt of large farms in that area of south Scotland with
      farmers with much capital and a large number of farm servants. The more capital
      and production the greater social distance between the farm operators and the

      One has to realize that particularly in the nineteenth century, but of course
      still today, Scotland, even though a small country is really a fair number of
      different regions with great similarities but very important differences.
      The Northeast was definitely off the beaten track in the nineteenth century and
      before and has many features unique to it and not to all of Scotland

      A very small farm might have any servants living right with the family and
      that would be true not just in the Northeast, but Scotland, generally. When
      farms got larger and productivity increased, it was not practical to house all
      of the servants in the "farmers" household, even if his wife would have agreed.
      You need to know that the rural part of Aberdeenshire that you saw, would be
      totally unrecognizable, except for a few landmarks...to some one from 1750 to
      1800 or even much later...at one time it was boggy and filled with peat beds,
      moorish like, stones all over, and full of just rough pasture. As the land
      was remade, many farms that were leased had enough land that even what we
      would call a small one today, required so much arm labor, that more help was
      needed than would fit in a household, and much of that labor help probably was not
      too desirable to a careful farmer's wife.

      The "Chaumer" was a partial housing situation. The farm servants, mainly
      single men, lived there in very rudimentary conditions. The redeeming aspect
      was that they ate in the farmer's kitchen. Often the farmer ate with them.
      Later, as the farmer or his wife got more socially conscious, they would take
      their meals in another part of the house. As I previously stated the chaumer
      were quarters in an outbuilding either on the first floor of often over the
      stables. One can often spot where the "chaumer" was, yet today...at Rannieston it
      was over the stables..actually a deluxe accomodation...at Nethehill, where
      ggrandmother was born in St Fergus, I thought I could spot the area on the
      ground floor of a barn where it had been. I have studied the situation of "farm
      servants" in Aberdeenshire generally over 100 years, and many of the
      chaumer-farm kitchen arrangements persisted well up to the second World War. Technology
      changes finally changed the situation. In some circumstances cottages for
      married men were so scarce years ago that the husband had to find quarters for
      his wife and children, if any...with family or in a nearby town.

      The truest "Bothy" country was south of Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire.
      Most famous for "Bothies" was Angus or Forfarshire...probably because they
      persisted there longer than about any other place in Scotland. There they had
      separate "bothies" for single men and for single women. They were generally not
      pleasant places...the farmer would be more concerned about his animals, in
      many cases. The men would typically make their own meals there...also a separate
      bothy housed women. Sometimes a elderly lady would come in and do some
      serving...but that was a deluxe feature, not common in the early days. As stated,
      I recently sent a census showing how things were in 1861 on a large Angus
      farm, to relatives. This farm had three cottages, besides the farmers home.
      These were for married farm servants..One being a cattleman...usually the most
      important servant...the other two for married ploughman. Then there was a
      mens Bothy holding four single men characterized as ploughmen. Then two Farm
      servant Highland girls shared a second Bothy. Women were paid about half what
      men got and worked at least as hard. In the house was a house servant girl
      and a "in and out" girl...these were locals When the farmer had a large family
      as it did here at one time there was not room for farm servants. THE POINT
      FARMER AND HIS LABORERS INCREASED. Further the true consideration by farmers
      for the welfare of their servants tended to decrease, so long as they got the
      work done.

      There were such "Bothies" in Aberdeenshire; However, they must have been in
      a minority or Sherrif Watson, its High Sheriff, could never have railed at
      farmers having the true "bothies" in such a ranting mannner.

      In all parts of the Northeast the bothy ballad, even tho it did not
      necessarily mean it came from the true "bothy" became a factor. There were itinerant
      composers, and on complaint by a servant that a certain master treated his
      servants badly, the master would be the recipient perhaps for all time of a
      bothy song about his bad treatment. Every item of farm servant lives was grist
      for these composers. One can learn often better from these songs what the farm
      servants experienced or endured than from prose recitations.
      In all descriptions of farm life in the nineteen hundreds, one has to
      remember they were all siZes of farms, and changing agricultural technology made
      some differences, and farming methods changed....they went from a rather small
      horse to the big Clydesdales...a very big investment if many were purchased..
      In the Parish of Old Deer every year in the days of the Clydesdales, they
      held a fair where there were many thousands of Clydesdales for sale. They were
      the equivalent of power tractors of the time. Most farmers and many farm
      servants came by the thousands. The ploughman had a secret society of Horsemen and
      initiations all in secret. I have digressed too far already. There was the
      Horsemans "Word" and the so- called "Clean toon" The servants had ways of
      protecting their interests. The books I mentioned will give you all of this.

      Regards, Jim Thomson

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