Chapter Eleven: The Drumdrullian Calendar
The following chapter is taken from my talk to the Welsh Trust, Bridge of Allan on the 1st of April 2003. It may be quite dry for some tastes, as it covers one thousand years of the farm of the my grandfather. The second section of the chapter is more recent history and arguably of greater interest to the casual reader.
I am a Doctor, but I do hope that I am not really a “Doctor of the Drastic School,” though perhaps maybe by the end of this lecture you may think I ought to be! Yes, this is April the 1st!
The Drastic School referred to links through to Drumdruills most obliquely via the Wrights of Loss. A contemporary of Loss, the Apothecary, Thomas Gillespie, had a universal 18th century remedy. It was thus:
“Ipecac,” “Elect Purg,” “Laxant,” “Decoct linguce pectoral,” innumerable “boluses repetted,” “emplastrum epispast mag” and “Sal glauber.”
Loss having sampled the wares, said of Thomas:
“To give him his due, however, I must he honest enough to own that what he left of me was quite cured.”
So for any one with minor complaints, please consult the speaker after. The fee, he assures you will be negligible, but the after effects may be quite spectacular!
So tonight, let us get back on theme and dispel the usual constraints of the Gregorian calendar for here, the speaker will set before you the far more startling Drumdrullian one.
Peter and Sian Gordon
Saturday the 8th of March 2003
I really wanted to thank you for helping me so much in the research of your farm Drumdruills. It is amazing how the place occupies a fondness in the memories of so many. Amazing yes, yet not at all surprising.
I still get a pang of sentimental excitement when crossing the Cocksburn and coming up the drive. The scene is so wonderfully unchanged.
Figure One: Drumdruills during the war years
The list of past tenants is growing all the time – yet it is the family stories and the past life of the farm that should really occupy our interest. The ‘two lives’ of the farm: pre- and post-orchard were, as you can imagine, really quite different. I find it is hard to imagine Drumdruills without trees, yet that is how it was for centuries!
The oldest reference that I have come across talks of an Old Bond circa 1210, which links Drumdruills with the Bishop of Dunblane, and perhaps yet more excitingly with one of the first teachers of the day: MacBeth Rex (now that name conjures up all sorts does it not!)
“In a bond circa 1210 the name is given as ‘Drumend du felis,’ which may be rendered as Droman da folais, the little ridge between the two burns, i.e., the Wharry and the Cocksburn. In the bond named, Abraham Bishop of Dunblane undertakes to pay MacBeth Rex of the Schools and Scholastics of Dunblane two silver shillings yearly out of the revenue of Drumdruils. MacBeth is our first recorded headmaster (Dunblane).”
Two of the leading local historians of recent times (Ella MacLean and J.J. MacKay) have talked of Drumdruills as once the site of an ancient village – all trace of which has long since gone.
“There was a clachan at the foot of Cocksburn with a farmhouse Drumdruills closeby”
It was from this village that a headmaster ‘dominie’ drowned himself in a pool in the Cocksburn. The ‘Dominie Hole’ thus became folklore, and J. J. McKay’s father would, on walks through the glen, point it out to his son, rehearsing it’s truly awfully story. I find myself wondering if this dominie was indeed the eponymous MacBeth Rex?
In terms of the ancient village of Drumdruills, its past seems utterly unrecorded, which of course makes its disappearance all the more mysterious. Whatever, as a village, it must have vanished before the early maps of the 16th and 17th century. It is not on Stobies map of 1734. My view is that this ancient village was more likely to be found on or very near to the site of the present house and it is possible then that when Archibald Wright and Marion Row built it in 1652 they recycled the stones of the old village. However one has to say that is simply my conjecture!
Although there has been a long tussle between three parishes; Logie, Lecropt and Dunblane, it was the latter that carried, at least up until the late 17th century, jurisdiction over Drumdruills. Indeed the running of Drumdruills was it seems very much the personal preserve of the Bishop of Dunblane:
“In 1442 The King, with consent of the Council of Bishops, Abbots, Priors, Earls and Barons confirmed to Michael, Bishop of Dunblane, and his successors, all and whole the lands, annual rents and possessions after specified, viz: Civitatem, Dunblanen, Brigend, Cascaplymore…Drumdowlis etc….”
“The lands of Drumdruils and Haugheads were held by the Bishop of Dunblane until 1690. They were afterwards held of the Crown for a yearly payment of 16 merks at Whitsunday and Martinmas and the services of a third part of a man and a horse.”
Figure Two: Drumdruills reigns supreme over carse and castle
So for at least 250 years life at Drumdruills, its tenants, and productivity were dictated by the Bishop from his splendid palace in Dunblane. It is my belief that it was during this ‘reign’ that Drumdruills was first planted as an orchard – the distant and long since forgotten predecessor to the Scott Orchard of 1892! There is documentary proof that this orchard survived up until the early 18th century, indeed in 1723 it was said to be the finest in the shire!
This early orchard has been a revelation to me (see my opening remarks), only unearthed through research made for my forthcoming talk to the Welsh Trust. I am inclined to believe that my great-great grandfather Bob Scott (1856-1940) had some inkling of it – for he searched long and hard for favourable fruit-growing conditions outside the Clyde Valley. An ancient yet successful orchard, even if long since gone, would have supported his strong feel for Drumdruills.
The only reference that I have come across to this ancient orchard relates to Sir James Campbell, the Second Laird of Aberuchill and Kilbryde. Sir James, a barrister, was a member of the highest society in Edinburgh, but was apparently of extravagant habits, and dispersed a considerable portion of the wealth accumulated by his father Sir Colin Campbell (1637-1704.)
In 1723 Sir James’s son and brother jointly urged him to purchase the property of Drumdroulls on the ground that it had:
“One of the best fruit orchards in the shire, both as to kinds and quantities, and also contained a lime quarry of as good lime as ever they had seen.”
The purchase was NOT made, probably because Sir James was in constant need of money, and had not the means to purchase additional lands. In his hands Drumdruills might have suffered a rather different fate, for it seems Sir James Campbell was an inveterate gambler, and although he far preferred the country to the city, he was also a notoriously unreliable figure!
It is fitting that this year the Welsh Trust lecture relates to Drumdruills – for the farmhouse is now celebrating its 350th year. Remarkable, and next to Blawlowan, it is the oldest (to my knowledge) continuously occupied domicile in the district – except perhaps that of Balhaddie house in Dunblane.
Now Balhaddie brings me to one of Drumdruills many and varied and rather wonderful links with the district, and indeed with Dunblane in particular.
Balhaddie connects us to the Sinclair family. In 1649 Henrie Sinclair paid a rental of “three hundredth and threttie pounds” for the estates of Glassingall and Drumdulles. Henrie Sinclair also owned a house in Sinclair’s Wynd, Dunblane, which adjoined Balhaddie. Indeed the Sinclair family was a notable one in the Dunblane parish with Baillie Richard Sinclair being the outstanding citizen of the Fifteenth century town.
From the above it might seem that the Sinclair family was but a brief chatelaine of Drumdulles. In fact this was not so, for they Sinclairs tenanted the farm from 1546 until 1650, a time span nearly equal to that of the Wright Family, who were, as rehearsed, to immediately follow them.
The Drumdruills-Balhaddie connection is of more than academic interest tome, for my grandfather Rab Scott was born at Drumdruills in 1905, and my grandmother Constance Gibson was born at Balhaddie in 1908. In 1932 they married, and in doing so (whilst almost certainly unknowingly) they united once again two of the ancient domiciles of the district. Silly sentiment sometimes overtakes one, for in my mind I imagine my grandparents, Rab and Con, walking hand in hand along the ancient darn road between Drumdruills and Balhaddie.
Figure Three: Balhaddie House, Dunblane
Leaving these ponderous thoughts aside, there is a question how to spell Drumdruills: one ‘l’ or two? I have always preferred the latter and indeed looking back at centuries of etymological variations, two ‘l’s seems to carry through. Perhaps of more interest is that originally there was no secondary ‘r’ and as you can see from the above the farm was originally known as Drumdowlis (1442) or later as Drumdulles (1650) In the last years of the Wrights occupancy (the early years of the 18th century) it somehow acquired a second ‘r’
Personally I like the coinage of the Wrights: Drumdrulls with “two r’s and two l’s!”
So here we come to the WRIGHT family, arguably the most notable family of the Drumdrullian calendar! The Wright family purchased Drumdrulls estate from the Bishop of Dunblane and armed with considerable fortune “for they married well” they set about the revitalisation of the policy.
Figure Four: The mystical appeal of Drumdruills
By 1652, just two short years on from Henrie Sinclair’s occupancy, a new farmhouse (appears to) have been completed. The proud new owners would have marveled to know that the house they built would still stand strong three and a half centuries on! Proud, oh yes, that is right for they set a stone above their door recording the date 1652 flanked either side with their initials.
By the time the Scott family occupied the farm, this keystone was already badly eroded, and the inscription faded to the point where it was hardly decipherable. Now, a further hundred years on, all traces of the inscription have gone.
Here we have the first piece of fortune, for John Scott and his three pals, in the early summer of 1900, were sitting on the lawn outside Drumdruills when conversation got round to the “mystery of the faded keystone” The year 1652 could be made out, but the initials were far less clear: it seemed there was an ”A” and possibly an “M” followed by “R.”
Why then was this fortunate, well the answer is simple, sitting with John Scott was Archibald MacLean (Archie) and Charles Thorpe McInnes (Thorpe), both of whom were not only Bridge of Allan boys, but also budding historians. Many years later Thorpe, who was by then Curator of Records at Register House, wrote to Archie after stumbling across ancient Wright manuscripts “that which made the faded keystone a lamp shining into a dark space.” Sadly by then, their good friend, John Scott (1878-1912), my great grandfather, was dead.
The Wright family was of noble descent and carried much power in the district, indeed the ingenuity of one of the family forebears, John the ‘Pin’ Wright, helped serve William Wallace victory in battle over the English on September 13th 1297. This was described by Dr Peter Wright in his manuscript on the Wright family prepared in 1800 (Dr Peter Wright’s grandfather was brother of Archibald Wright ‘of the faded keystone’)
The name of Wright seems to very ancient, as we find from history, that John Wright a famous architect, constructed a bridge at Kildean over the Forth by Stirling which upon drawing a pin separated in the middle; this stratagem being put in execution gave Sir William Wallace a decided victory in a battle fought 13th September 1297 over the English when part of their army had passed and part upon the Bridge, the Pin was drawn out by Wright himself who was suspended in a basket under the Arch and escaped unhurt. The English Army being thus divided and surprised, many were killed and drowned and suffered in the pursuit through Stirling, St. Ninians, and the Forwood. Wright was ever after that known by the Name of the Pin.
On a pin – that could be a metaphor for Drumdruills, tugged as it always was, between two baronies. The pivotal point in the Drumdrullian calendar was the split of the 17th century when the Wrights, feudal Baronets of Airthrey, purchased Drumdruills and swung the balance away from Dunblane and its Bishopdom.
Indeed Drumdruills remained under Airthrey’s power and jurisdiction up until May 1935 when it was sold by Donald Graham of Airthrey to my great grandmother, Susan Scott for the sum of £2300.
It was James Wright a ‘very accomplished and handsome man’ that is said to have purchased Drumdruills for the Wright family. The exact date of the purchase is still not clear to me, but one assumes 1652. Like others to follow him, his route to Drumdruills was through his sweetheart and wife to be, Elizabeth Linton of the neighbouring estate of Pendreich. James Wright married Elizabeth in 1639
“…and received 4,000 merks portion with her a great sum in those days.”
Indeed they did marry well!
James and Elizabeth Wright had a large family five sons, Alexander, Archibald, James, Robert and Patrick and two daughters, Janet and Marion. These children could not have been born at Drumdruills, for we know that Henrie Sinclair was tenanting the farm up until 1649.
I do try not to drift away from historical fact, yet the temptation to “read into” the often fragmentary glimpses of our past, and to pull this together as a readable story sometimes overwhelms. For any historical researcher this is a dangerous pitfall. It should not be excusable. One could not levy this charge against Dr Thorpe McInnes, who as Curator of our Scottish Records reached the highest position in the land. Dr McInnes adored Lecropt the parish of his birth. When he moved to Edinburgh (as the Curator) he renamed his house Lecropt!
It was Dr Thorpe McInnes who first highlighted an old document amidst the Wright of Loss papers which apparently confirmed that “Archibald the second son ‘tricked’ his father out of the lands of Drumdruills.” Thorpe’s good friend Dr R. T. Young picked up this apparent aside, and fleshed it out in somewhat more prosaic fashion:
“The old parchment which I have referred to, written by a Wright of a later day, says that Archibald Wright, though a younger son, “tricked” his father out of Drumdroulls. But this Jacob the Supplanter, like the Biblical Jacob, must have prospered, for he too made a good marriage, uniting himself to no less a person than Marion Row, a young lady of the notable Inverallan Family, and a descendant of John Row the Reformer. Then in the joy of his heart, and in the pride of good ancestry on the side of both husband and wife, he built him a house, and set in its walls his stone of remembrance, A.W. 1652 M.R.”
Lecture to The Stirling Natural History and Archaeological Society “The Wrights of Loss: an Ochil Family” February 1932
It seems then that Archibald was desperate for his father to give him Drumdruills in preference to any of his sibs. As it turned out James Wright was very fair minded: he did give Archibald Drumdruills but balanced this by divvying out amongst his growing family the numerous estates that he had acquired in his lifetime and recompensed others with substantial financial bonds.
‘Tricked’ now that is not to mince ones words! It certainly leaves me wondering who this ‘Wright of a later day’ was and why after all this time was he still rehearsing an old family divide? Whatever, one of Archibald’s sibs must have carried a grudge? I find myself wondering if it was Archibald’s older brother Alexander Wright – the Wright of Loss. After all, the ‘tricked’ document is apparently held with the Loss papers. Also in a general sense, it was usually the eldest son that expected to inherit his father’s estate. So it seems plausible, but entirely hypothetical, that Alexander Wright begrudged his displacement from Drumdruills by his younger brother Archibald.
“James Wright soon afterwards purchased the Estate of Drumdrouls & Haughhead in the Parish of Dunblane & Shire of Perth and by his wife had 5 sons Alexander, Archibald, James, Robert and Patrick and two daughters, Janet & Marion; to Alexander he gave the estate and the lands of Loss, Ashentre, Caldhame, Ploverburn & Callendar in the Parish of Logie, & to Archibald the 2nd son, the lands of Drumdrouls & Haughead burthened with the Payment of 2,000 marks to his brother James, as Alexander was with the same sum to his brother, Robert, these disposition are dated at Drumdrouls, March 3rd 1671.”
Figure Five: Loss Hill: Ashentrool is on the far left, and Loss, by the central solitary tree
I had initially assumed that the date 1652 on the faded keystone symbolised more than just the date of building. Given that the date was flanked by the initials of Archibald and Marion I assumed this was also year of their marriage. However it is now clear this could not be so. In 1652, Archibald was but a bairn. His parents married in 1639 and we know that Archibald was the second born son. It can be assumed therefore he was born in the mid 1640’s and that by 1652 he was probably not even ten!
Two possibilities come to me but there may of course be others.
Firstly did 1652 simply commemorate the date that James Wright (Archibald’s father) purchased Drumdruills, and this was retrospectively incorporated into the building when the newly weds Archibald and Marion moved into their house later that century.
The other possibility is simply that the faded keystone was so weathered that Archie and Thorpe (in 1900) read 1652 rather than 1662 or perhaps even 1682. That would then mean that the date could well reflect the year that Archibald married his sweetheart Marion (which probably was indeed around 1680.) Perhaps then it is not too far fetched to assume that 1682 became weathered to read as 1652? Short of fine tooth-combing the Wright records one may never be sure, and now that is a job for someone more earnest than me!
James Wright the “very accomplished and handsome man” and the FIRST of “Drumdoully” died there in 1689. A handsome man, he died a handsome age, in his seventy-fifth year: well and truly beyond the usual life-span of the era.
After his father’s death, Archibald Wright and Marion Row raised their four children in the present house. They had two boys, Archibald and Shem; and two girls, Elizabeth and Margaret.
Of the two sons, Shem, Lieutenant in a Foot Regiment, was to be killed in battle at Preston in 1715. He was a young man. Archibald junior married Jane Stuart, by whom he had a son who died very young.
Of the two daughters, Elizabeth married David Ogilvie of Peel in Angus by whom she had issue an only son, David, who in right of his mother succeeded to one half of Drumdrouls. Margaret, the other daughter of Archibald and Marion, inherited the other half of Drumdrouls where she resided and died unmarried.
Thorpe, our genial Curator of Scotland’s Historic Records, wrote in the 1930’s a splendid little piece about the Wrights of Drumdruills. It is wonderfully evocative and truly brings them to life. It is difficult not to chuckle at the simple theatrical and flamboyant hysteria of it all. For Thorpe narrates a truly over-played storm-in-a-teacup!
The centre of the piece is James Wright, father of Archibald. The date is summer 1667. Archibald himself is not involved in the skirmish, but his two brothers, Robert and James are.
A sketch of somewhat serious import at the time for the characters delineated but now affording us some mild amusement follows. (The families concerned – at least the Wrights and his wife, a Linton of Pendreich, were substantial lairds in the district – a kind of gentry of the time.)
Before the bailie of the Regality Court of Dunblane on the 12th of June 1667, a complaint was made by William Ker, beltmaker in Dunblane, against James Wrycht of Drumdroules, Elizabeth Lintoune, his spouse, and James and Robert, their sons.
William Ker states that they entered his house the day before in a turbulent manner and struck his wife Magdalen Graham and Agnes Ker, his servant, and also abused them with their tongues.
Ker’s witnesses deponed that Elizabeth Lintoune laid violent hands on Magdalen Graham, drew her through the house and did ’ryve her waistcoat’; that James Wrycht, younger, struck at her; and that the others abused her with their tongues. It was also alleged that James Wrycht, elder, was heard to command his two sons James and Robert to go into the complainer’s house and take forth said a kist and bedclothes (which was said to belong to Robert Wrycht); that accordingly they went, and being interrupted Robert took hold of Magdalen by the throat and ‘did ding her almost to the ground’ and that he likewise dealt with Agnes Ker the servant.
The verdict went against James Wrycht, elder, he was fined £10 Scots and to lie in the Tolbooth until payment.
But look at the background and what do we see? On 19th June 1667, James Wrycht of Drumdroules and his two sons, evidently smarting under the fine, bring an accusation against William Ker to whom his son Robert had been apprenticed. Ker, it is alleged, had on the 5th of the month threatened the apprentice lad with a knife, threatened ‘to put ‘his fuit upon his neck’; and had taken the lad by the hair of the head and threw him ‘most pitifully’ to the ground striking him repeatedly so that he had become ‘lame of his arme’; and abused the said prentice with many base expressions such as ‘the hangman would draw doun his feet,’
Ker’s wife (Magdalane Graham) and the servant (Agnes Ker) apparently wreaked their ill-will on the lad by ‘ryving his hair’ and ‘beating him to the ground!’ Magdalen Graham had also struck James Wrycht, the apprentice’s brother ‘on the mouth to the effusion of his blood’
The bailie fines William Ker £5 Scots for ‘beating the said Robert his prentice,’ and another £5 for ‘his said spous hitting the said James Wrycht, younger, on the mouth.’
Thus by judicious touches we find a balance. Can anyone imagine a better display of judicial sense? We can see the judge with a twinkle in his eye – the bailie of the Regality Court – dealing out justice first on the one hand and then on the other, no doubt with satisfaction to both sides, until it dawned on them that each side had lost £10 in fines.
Archibald Wright, he of the ‘faded tombstone’ died in the same year as his older brother Alexander (Wright the First of Loss). That year was 1708. More than ever, this flimsy irony leaves me wondering if indeed Drumdroulls had divided them. Had that word ‘tricked’ not raised its ugly head this ‘inclination’ would indeed be just that. So let us forget such constructs and rehearse what facts can be verified.
Further mystery surrounds the tombstones to the brothers. To Alexander Wright of Loss there are (most unusually) two stones: One in Old Lecropt with the Latin inscription “Surgite Venite” and another in Old Logie with the initials A.W. and M.F. and dated 1691. Both stones have been authenticated as those of the Wrights of Loss.
I now believe I have found the stone to Archibald Wright. It is in Old Logie, in the same row as brother Alexander. The inscription sadly is no longer legible. It is fortunate then that it was transcribed in 1966 and recorded to have read 173(1 or 7) A.W. M.B. The last letter was it seems read as a ‘B’ when it should have been ‘R’ for Marion Row.
The brothers then might, or might not be, buried together – depending under which stone Alexander is buried: Old Lecropt or Old Logie. This of course is intriguing, but probably has absolutely no bearing on the past lives of the two brothers. Never though, can one be sure.
It can be said however, with confidence that these two branches of the Wright family: The Wrights of Loss and the Wrights of Drumdruills, which were ventured first by our two brothers, Alexander and Archibald, dominated the Ochil scene through the late 17th and most of the 18th century. They were indeed land owners of considerable oomph. They carried much power in the district and translated their wealth into the tip-top husbandry of their respective estates. Descended of noble stock – the Rows of Innerallan and the MacGregors of Balhaddie, to name but a few – they maintained links with some of the highest social ranks in their nation. The Wright brothers were then, to use the words of the time, ‘of gentry.’
It could be argued that it is outwith the remit of this account to discuss in any depth, the Wrights of Loss. However it would be an injustice not to do so, for the links with Drumdruills are embedded. Furthermore, and far more importantly to my mind, James Wright (1730-1769) – the Third of Loss – was the most notable citizen of the district in the mid 18th century. It was his assiduous and truly astounding collected notes and diaries that have been preserved in ten full boxes at the Register House in Edinburgh. These are the WRIGHT of LOSS papers referred to by Thorpe McInnes and Archiibald MacLean. As a glimpse into the domestic life of our district’s past they are virtually unrivalled.
Figure 6: Peter and Andrew Gordon at Loss
Until this research was ventured, I had, quite shamefully no idea where Loss farm was. So it was that on a sunny Sunday in March 2003 I set about with my son Andrew for the “lost farm of Loss.” The spirit of adventure, for father and son, was lost not on either party!
Loss can be reached either by ascent through Menstrie Glen, or as in our case by Sheriffmuir. Taking the single-track road from Logie, as the road turns at its highest point towards Cauldhame, there is an old dirt road veering off towards distant Loss. Skirting the track for the first leg is the coniferous woodland of Loss. The second leg is marked by the Lossburn reservoir which was formed in 1897. At the eastern end of this reservoir in a favourable hollow, occupying the true centre of the glen, is the policy of Loss. It is a magical find, demarcated as it still is by ancient trees of beech and elm and the stane dykes of the 1760 farm improvements.
Loss was at its peak in the mid 18th century and rivaled none. John Harrison in his joint commission on Menstrie Glen ‘Well Sheltered and Watered’ (with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland) said of Loss:
“By the second half of the eighteenth century it was by far the grandest house in the valley, its status as the residence of a wealthy and influential figure underlined by the emparkment of its surroundings.”
Loss was extensively renovated by James Wright (the 3rd of Loss) between 1750 and 1753. An indecent £1000 was spent on this refurbishment – an astounding amount by the measure of the time. During the build James Wright and his new wife Jacobina Drummond lived in her parental home – none other than Balhaddie house of Dunblane. It was in this house that Prince Charles Edward Stewart had stayed just four years earlier (1746).
With a little effort the appointed house can be imagined for it was apparently a three bay building of two storeys and a garret. Yet today it is but a rickle of stanes and the rich image conjured of its past life sits at total odds with its now rather charming (yet sad) ruinous decay. I like to commend my own imagination, yet even I found it difficult, sitting amidst the scattered stanes of Loss, to recreate the ‘drawing room’ of this house richly adorned with ‘painted paper’ as it was in the time of our noble James Wright.
Figure Seven: Loss floorplan
1764 was a turning point for Loss. This was the year that James Wright purchased Argyll’s Lodging the grandest house in Stirling, and indeed one of the most magnificent town houses in Scotland. He marked this purchase with one of the most lavish ‘balls’ of the time. He was also responsible for extensively renovating the Lodge. The splendour that survives today can be justly attributed to James Wright. It is sad then that just five years after his purchase James Wright, aged 39 years died suddenly of ‘apoplexy.’
Without the overseeing of the redoubtable James, Loss was to hit an inevitable decline. Unlike Drumdruills it did not survive:
“Loss’s grandeur must have declined during the 19th century, and by 1841 it was occupied only by farm servants. By 1861 it was in ruins”
So it was that Loss, once an empire, was lost.
If the traveller is ever inspired to visit, and casts an eye over Loss’s now scattered and weary stanes, please forget not the splendour of its past.
Figure Eight: Argyll’s Lodge, Stirling
It is time now to return to the main narrative. To recap, 1708 was a sad year for the Wright family, with the death of the two brothers; Archibald of Drumdruills and Alexander of Loss. Twenty years later, Archibald’s eldest son, who carried the same name (for clarity he shall hereafter be referred to as ‘Archibald junior’) died at Drumdroulls. I have before me Archibald junior’s Testament Dative of the 30th January 1729. It makes bleak reading.
Archibald junior, although barely out of his thirties, was already a widower. He left but one heir, a son. Orphaned in infancy this bairn saw none of the world’s goodliness, making his final bow on Drumdroulls without even reaching school age.
So by 1728, all immediate Wright heirs to Drumdroulls were gone. All this sets us up for Archibald junior’s sad testament. His sole executor was his cousin James Wright of Loss (1679-1745) and here there is (at least according to Dr Thorpe and R.T. Young) a twist of fate which (they feel) is not accidental. Perhaps I am not raising the fog here, but to put it as simply as I can: Archibald junior and his sole executor (James of Loss) were sons of the brothers, Archibald and Alexander respectively. I share the inclination of “Thorpe and R.T.” that this explains much.
‘Wiping the slate clean’ is the best expression that comes to mind, for within a month of Archibald junior’s death, his entire personal effects, farmhold plenishings, stock, tools, carriages, in fact the complete lot, were rouped. Nothing was left. The principal benefactor was, you may not be surprised to hear, James Wright of Loss. The list of rouped goods goes on to cover four pages of copper-plate with the final sum raised recorded as “Three hundred three pound seventeen shilling four pennies.”
This roup was not to be missed, and it is truly worth recording some of the items sold: viz-a-viz:
- “Old barrel of a Gun at one pound seven shilling per stone, weighing nine stone twelve pounds” (now that is quite a gun!)
- “a Pistol and holster, two pounds ten shilling”
- “a broken candlestick nine shillings” (one of many candlesticks)
- “a looking glass ten shillings”
- “a Razor three shillings”
- “a bairn’s chair seven shillings”
- “an old rousty small sword two shilling”
- “a broad sword eight shilling” (there were several more swords!)
- “a Feather bed two pounds”
- “an old hat seven shilling”
- “an old bottomless boat four pennies”
- “a coloured tablecloth ten shilling”
Yes truly a coloured tablecloth of items if ever one saw! I had always thought of Drumdruills as a peaceful place, but now I know it had its own cannon with a barrel the weight of a man! Not to mention swords and pistols galore.
It is difficult not to chuckle at the mention of an “Old Hat and a ….Bottomless Boat!”
Figure Nine: Drumdruills in its Edwardian reign
So it was that in January 1729 Drumdroulls was stripped bare. The injustice however did not stop there, for it is now known that although James Wright of Loss did pay for his cousin Archibald’s deathbed and funeral expenses and also provided mournings for his orphan son, he (in the words of Dr Thorpe) “did not do so out of the kindness of his heart,” for he claimed repayment out of the estate. The amount is put down as £216.6s.6d Scots, that is £19.0s.6d Sterling. That was the bulk of the estate.
So from 1729 onwards Drumdroulls was it seems owned by, and under the jurisdiction of, the Wrights of Loss.
The Wrights of Loss had a series of tenant farmers during this time, one of whom appeared on the testament of William Stirling, surgeon in Stirling (possibly a relation of Keir) dated 22nd March 1734:
“For medical attendance on George Robb, tenant of Drumdroulls = £6.3/-”
The next tenant of Drumdruills after the above George Robb, was James Sharp of Auchentak. I have been in contact with one of his descendents, Michael Sharp of Butterwick, Malton, who visited Drumdruills a few years ago and who in his family research came across a …
“scandal’ which seems to have been behind the Sharp move from Auchentak to Drumdruills!”
This James Sharp had the unfortunate distinction in 1756 of being jointly excommunicated with a Janet Bryce by the Dunblane Presbytery for adultery and incest. Both parties strongly denied the charges in spite of a string of witnesses who claimed to have seen them together ‘in flagrante.’
However, the charge of incest was based on the fact that James’s brother William, had pleaded guilty sixteen years before to fathering an illegitimate child by the same Janet Bryce. This indicates how strongly rules on incest were interpreted in the mid 18th Century.
James Sharp of Auchentak, who was born before 1700, was Factor to Sir Colin Campbell of Kilbryde Castle. This undoubtedly forms the link, for you may recall that Sir Colin Campbell’s son James was enticed to buy Drumdruills in 1723. He did not make the purchase, much to the family’s great regret.
Auchentak was a tenanted farm on the estate of the Campbells of Kilbryde it is similar in style but smaller than Drumdruills lying some two miles west of Dunblane. As a result of his excommunication James Sharp lost his tenancy at Auchentak as well as his position as Factor to the whole estate. He was sent to Drumdruills. It was here his son John Sharp raised a family and worked the Drumdruill soil as tenant farmer for the Wrights of Loss.
The Wright family’s long association with Drumdrouls ended in November 1771 when the entire estate was sold. It was one of six lots up for public roup which was presided over by Lord Elliot. An old Wright letter survives from James Wright of loss to his brother Dr Peter Wright, outlining the proceeds. Drumdrouls was bought by Robert Campbell of Middletown Carse for 1230 Str. It seems highly probable that he was related to Sir James Campbell, the Second Laird of Aberuchill and Kilbryde, who had made a failed bid for Drumdrouls half a century earlier.
Drumdrouls relinquished by the Wrights in 1771 had a quick succession of proprietors thereafter – the evidence of which is sadly fragmentary. Robert Campbell of Middletown of Carse appears to have been the briefest of Factors, for he quickly passed the estate into the ownership of Sir William Stirling of Ardoch. The date of this sasinary transfer is unknown, but clearly well before 1792 when Sir William Stirling sold the “lands of Pendreich and Miln, Drumdruills and Haughhead to Robert Haldane Esq of Airthrey.”
Figure Ten: The Wrights sell their estate 1771
Surviving extant amidst the Airthrey Estate papers, and now in the possession of the Archives of Stirling University, is a manuscript of interest to all those interested in our local history. It is a legal paper, outlining every farm, domicile and tenant within the Airthrey Estate. It served to detail the purchase of Robert Haldane from Sir William Stirling of Ardoch. It is dated April 1792. There is no better written account giving such exquisite detail of our locale for this period. It cries out to be transcribed and recorded.
In its reference to Drumdruills, the following appeared:
April 1792 “Mr Haldane of Airthrey assumes as proprietor of Drumdroulls previously let to the deceased Mr Henry Stirling of Park of Keir, but at the time of transfer under the proprietorship of John Drummond his son (who resides at Drummond Castle) but keeps a foreman upon the farm. “
Stirlings of Keir, and the Haldanes of Airthrey: it surprises me not that these families – ancient baronies of our district, had a footing in the history of Drumdruills.
If you are like me, all these names must be blurring, so let us, as briefly as possible, recap. Drumdruills was for the first half of its existence under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Dunblane. In the middle of the 17th century it was purchased by one of the leading landowners of the time, the Wright family. They kept the estate until it was sold by the son of James Wright of Loss in 1771. Thereafter, in various guises, Drumdruills was pulled away from Dunblane into the jurisdiction of Airthrey – firstly (and quite briefly) under the Stirling family, before being replaced in 1792 by the Haldanes and Abercrombies. Drumdruills remained under Airthrey’s grasp until May 1935 when it was sold by Donald Graham of Airthrey to my great grandmother, Susan Rutherford Scott for the sum of £2300.
That is best part of a thousand years of Drumdruills in a nutshell. Never did I imagine that when I set out researching my grandfather’s farm, that it would turn out to have such a truly ancient footing!
Drawing a breath for air, it is at last time to deal with our family’s long association with Drumdruills. An attempt will be made not to drift into tedious lists of dates and names, but rather pick out some of the stories, reminiscences and family folk lore, with which I have long been fascinated.
Our first family link to Drumdruills is with the DAWSON family. Sometime around the turn of the 18th century the Dawsons relocated from Blairlogie to Drumdruills, and they appear to have immediately followed as tenants from the Sharp family rehearsed above. In fact here we have a further strengthening with Auchentack, for the tenant family that replaced the “excommunicated” James Sharp of Auchintack was John Dawson who in 1852 died there as a wealthy man. It seems highly likely that this John Dawson of Auchinteck was a cousin of the first Dawson of Drumdruills.
I have no absolute proof, but nevertheless retains a strong hunch that the Dawsons came to Drumdruills through marriage.
The Dawson family of Drumdruills were vital to our district, of that there can be absolutely no doubt. Long before the invent of the telegram the Dawsons on several fronts, ran the post offices of our community, stretching from the branch in Blairlogie to the old thatched-roof cottage post house in Dunblane. They reigned supreme in this vital portal, for a century, spanning the early 1800’s right through to the early 1900’s.
Between 1768 and 1781, William Dawson and Janet Carmichael of Powis Bank, Blairlogie had four sons and two daughters. Their eldest son James Dawson (1768-1844) was, it appears, the first of the Dawson family to farm Drumdruills. There is good evidence to suggest that he moved there with his young bride, Margaret Todd in spring or summer of 1814. James Dawson died at Drumdruills in mid November 1844. A large tombstone to his memory (and that of his family) was erected in Dunblane Cathedral and survives to this day.
Although James Dawson of Drumdroulls had a large family, none of his progeny took over the farm’s mantle, for that it seems, was left to his youngest brother John Dawson whose name appears on the first census return of 1841. John was fifteen years junior to his brother James, but nevertheless he himself was 60 years of age by 1841.
So now we have established that John Dawson (1781-1859) was the next tenant farmer of Drumdruills. John married a local girl, Margaret Telford, but married life was cut indecently short when Margaret was swept away in 1820. The marriage was but in its fourth year and three tiny bairns were left motherless. Perhaps this is why, in his old age, John’s brother James, gave over to him the tenancy of Drumdruills. In 1841 Drumdruills was hard graft, treeless and infertile, daily toil was spent clearing the fields of stones. The 1841 census tells us that the sixty year old John Dawson had no farm helpers. Life was truly tough. John Dawson’s grandson was later to recall:
“This farm, which is called Drumdruil is one and one-half miles from Dunblane and one mile from Bridge of Allan, a small town situated in the opposite direction from Dunblane. Drumdruil has a little good land but most of it is too shallow, and requires constant labour in removing rocks which keep coming to the surface.”
There was a family coalescence here for a further brother of John Dawson also married a Telford sister. This was William Dawson (1771-1835) who married Anne Telford. Why rehearse this when I promised not to get bogged-down with names and dates? Well the answer is simple: Ann Telford was for 54 years the Postmistress for Dunblane. Let us then give three cheers for the earliest woman of lib. Her career in a time of male dominance and feminine submission should be credited above all. So let us all remember “Ann the guid wumen postie.” Her lead saw three further generations of Dawsons distributed amidst the local post service, from Blairlogie to Dunblane.
It is time then to return to ‘John Dawson of Drumdruil’ for his only daughter, Jean, married (as his second wife) Adam Baird.
Adam Baird (1804-1874) was it seems a redoubtable figure whose intricacy of character time has sadly lost. Although Adam was not of gentry, he was of semi-noble stock, from a family with a truly long association with the Allan water. Adam’s father was Miller at the Inverallan mill and was instrumental in the coalition of Scotland’s very first Friendly Society – The Union Box Society of 1806. This Society served to maintain young widows and widowers through small annual charitable grants. William Baird was the Society’s longest serving Treasurer. For half a century the Union Box – Oak carved and treble locked, had vanished; that was until it was discovered by the my grandfather in the attic of Drumdruills. It is now a treasured part of the W. H. Welsh Trust.
Adam Baird was, like his father, and grandfather, a miller on the Allan. In May 1833 he married the truly dazzling ‘catch’ of the parish, Susannah Rutherfoord (chapter 5).
Susannah was refined yet flirtatious, gifted yet practical, and had, by the time of her marriage, turned away a stack of aching hearts. I cherish a bundle of letters written to and from Susannah, my 3G grandmother, dating from the early part of the 19th century. The letters beautifully paint her in words – they are words that could move a stone.
I have chronicled the fascinating love story between Adam Baird and Susannah Rutherfoord, and indeed this was presented as last years W. H. Welsh Trust lecture. It was entitled “LECROPT: TEN SUMMERS FADE” and it is now in private print. Beyond Adam and Susannah, this account tries to pick out the everyday life of the earliest times of our embryonic village. I earnestly hope that others, beyond my family, will enjoy it as such.
Adam Baird was the overseer of two mills: the Dunblane Corn Mill and The Corn Mill of Keir. At the former, in an attached house resplendently built from the stone architraves of the palace of Dunblane, Susannah Rutherfoord died. It was the last Sunday of March 1840 and cholera had reaped yet another helpless victim.
Adam survived the cholera epidemic but was sadly left with three tiny motherless daughters. Adam’s devastating loss was expressed in one of several surviving letters of condolence to the young widower:
“You will no doubt feel her loss in a thousand ways – to yourself, to your children – as the head of your household – as a mother, and as a Companion.”
It was this disconsolate widower that was to be comforted by Jean Dawson, the daughter of the farmer of Drumdruil’ A quick check of the map of the Allan water corridor would remind us that Mill of Keir and Drumdruills were neighbouring properties, opposing each other across the river. At one point, centuries before, there was a ford at the Keir mill where the Drovers crossed with their flock. According to Mr Barty during Adam Baird’s time “the mill was kept busily employed and a cart went back and forwards all day to Dunblane.” No doubt this is how Adam stumbled across fair Jean.
Fair Jean Dawson must have truly empathised with Adam as solitary concierge to three tiny wee bairns. Truly the wee tots must have broken her heart, for their childhood situation exactly mirrored that of her own: Jean, after all had lost her own mother (Margaret Telford) when she was two.
So it was that in March 1842 two years on from dear Susannah’s untimely departure the wedding bells peeled across Lecropt once more. Adam was now united with Jean, and thus the Bairds with Drumdruills.
One fragmentary image of Adam has been passed down the generations. Broken though it is, it nevertheless conjures a striking spell over me. This out-take is from the year 1843, a year that struck turmoil in the established church – evoking a rising among the country parishioners like never before. Dunblane and Lecropt parishes were of course no exception. It was ‘our Adam,’ one of the six Elders of Dunblane Cathedral that led his parishioners boldly away from the established church and as a result “severed the ties of the old way.” Family tradition recalls Adam leading his fellow parishioners over the brow of Knockhill, to partake in an inaugural open-air sermon set to mark the beginning of our local Free Church on the slopes of the hill-rise.
The Baird family, helmed by Adam and Jean reigned tall at Drumdruills at a time when the world was being shaken by advancing technology. The industrial revolution was indeed all around them. So it was, that by the 1840’s, the railway had arrived and the new gasworks lit the village. The era of photography was just around the corner, and two of our earliest family photographs are of Margaret and Susan Baird, dressed in crinoline and appearing in formal and full-length carte-viste portraits of c1865.
Margaret (1834-1917) and Susan Baird (1837-1915) were two of the ‘three motherless daughters’ adopted by Jean Dawson as her own.
Figure Eleven: The Crinolene Baird sisters
So it was that with Jean Dawson, Adam brought forth a second wave – indeed a legion full of Baird bairns. The majority of this ‘legion’ were born at Drumdruills. It is strange is it not, how random fate is, for between 1842 and 1855, Jean bore Adam eight successive boys. Two late girls appeared, amidst a final son, Telford. By 1862 Drumdruils was absolutely bustling-full of bairns – amounting to fourteen in all, and ranging in age, from 28 years to 2 months! In later life one of this ‘legion’ was to reminisce:
“My father, who was also called Adam, after learning the trade of miller, leased an oatmeal grist mill a short distance above the aforementioned bridge and started his career as a businessman. The mill had a small dwelling connected with it and here father brought a bride soon after he took possession. His wife died after bearing three girls, Margaret, Susan and Janet. Some time after her death, my father married Jean Dawson, the only daughter of a neighbouring farmer. She in due time became my mother, after the birth of two others, William and John, who preceded me.
I was still a baby when the family decided to move to my grandfather’s farm. This farm, which is called Drumdruil is one and one-half miles from Dunblane and one mile from Bridge of Allan, a small town situated in the opposite direction from Dunblane.
Drumdruil has a little good land but most of it is too shallow, and requires constant labour in removing rocks which keep coming to the surface. Our family was increased by six boys and two girls on this place, all together fourteen children. We always had two hired men and one woman helper and although the house was small and the beds -were nearly all recesses built in the walls, we had about as happy lives as fall to the lot of ordinary mortals.”
Although the Baird family had indeed a long association with the Allan water it could not compare to that of ‘The Big Tree of Kippenross.’ This was the largest plane tree in Scotland, first planted in 1400, and in 1841 its girth close to the ground was 42’7″. It must have been a most familiar sight to Adam Baird and his family – a sentinel of truly ancient permanence. Or so it seemed. Sadly it was blown down in the severe storm on 24th January 1868.
Figure Twelve: The Big Tree of Kippenross
It seems symbolic that this mighty tree of life fell at the same time as the Bairds pulled away from the waterside. In 1866, William Baird, the oldest of Adam’s son’s died he was just 24 years old and had been moulded to follow his father into the milling trade. It is recorded on his death certificate that he died of “struinous enteritis”, with William recorded as having only fallen ill the night before. One can only guess what effect this had on Adam, but 3 years later, the 1871 census makes no reference to him as a Miller. He was by then “Farmer of Drumdroils, 90 acres of arable employing one boy” The millers heart was thus broken, the spell of the water gone, and that centuries long association with the Allan water finally severed. So with the loss of the tree and the demise of the milling clachans, the Allan water lost two of its most dear associates.
As tenant of Drumdruills, Adam Baird paid a yearly rental to the proprietor, Lord Abercromby of Airthrey Castle. In 1855 this amounted to £64 per annum, but by 1864 this had risen to £86 per annum.
There is a spot within the Drumdruills policy that above all has been cherished by many. By the Millad meadow and marking the midpoint of the Darn road the traveller unexpectedly comes across a surprise. Generations of Drumdrullians must have played here. What is this gem you ask me? Well it is a dark sandstone cave – Stevenson’s cave; a cave that has cast a blinked eye over the Allan for millennia (chapter 6.)
“I went up my favourite walk by the riverside among the pines and ash trees. There is a little cavern there, by the side of a wide meadow, which has been part of me any time these last twelve years – or more. On Friday it was wonderful- A large broken branch hung down over the mouth of it, and it was all cased in perfect ice.”
Whilst the 24 year-old Robert Louis sat in this little cave admiring the scene, Adam Baird the proprietor of Drumdruills was clinging to life. Terminally ill with prostate cancer, he saw spring and summer turn before drawing his last breath on the last Tuesday of September 1874. So it was that the Legionnaire was dead and the Drumdruill mantle was ready to move on.
With Adam’s death the Baird clan scattered wide and far – except for two – the ‘crinoline sisters’ Margaret and Susan whose image (as has been previously rehearsed) had been captured by the puff and smoke of the earliest photographic portraiture. It was Susan Baird (1837-1915), Adam’s second daughter, who would not sever her ties with her beloved Drumdruills. This Susan was the granny of my ‘Grumpa Rab.’
Had it not been for a family tragedy Drumdruills would have forever slipped out of Susan’s hands.
Here is what happened. When Adam Baird died, his family did indeed scatter, though his wife, Jean Dawson, did not leave the district, for she moved in with her brother John Dawson who was Postmaster at Blairlogie and her step-daughter Janet Baird. Vacated, Drumdruills was tenanted by one of Jean Dawson’s cousins – a son of a Telford. Her cousin, Andrew Menzies was a farmer, raised on the upland farms of the Wharry Glen – Stonehill and The Linns.
The joy that Drumdruills brought to Andrew Menzies and his young family was far too short indeed, for in middle February 1890 he just upped and died. He was only 52 years. The local physician, Dr Paterson, (he of the memorial clock outside the Westerton Inn) obviously had no idea what to make of this sudden death. The official cause was put down as “pulmonary apoplexy” but there is a later entry in a Register of Corrected Entries, and one is left believing, whatever the medical terminology of the time, that he simply choked to an awful death. It was this ghastly misfortune that led Drumdruills back to Susan Baird.
Martinmas 1892 saw a handshake struck that was to forthwith bond Drumdruills with the Scott family. The participants were Donald Graham Esquire of Airthrey and Bob Scott of Fairyknowe, Carluke.
Figure Thirteen: 1892, the beardies unite – Drumdruills to re-emerge as an orchard
Bob Scott o’ Fairyknowe (1856-1940) was a remarkable man forged in the zest of Victorian industrial development. He hailed from Carluke, where for generations his family had worked the land of the Orchard Estate near Crossford.
In chapter three ‘The Jelly Maker’ the story of Bob Scott was fondly rehearsed, so let us move away from these early origins, and take up the story of the new orchard.
Secure with the success of the Jam works, ‘Fairyknowe Bob,’ backed by a fortune, started his search for the right location for a new orchard. It was a search that took him out-with his familiar Upper Clyde Valley and ultimately brought him to Bridge of Allan.
As stated Bob Scott took tenancy of Drumdruils Farm from Martinmas 1892, and just two years later he adapted the agreement to share the tenancy with his son John (who was then just 16 years old).
Bob Scott was keen to prove that he could be a successful fruit grower outside the vales of Upper Clyde. Together, with his young son John, he set forth, grafting and stocking the farm. Detailed handwritten volumes describe the busy years of the late 19th century and contain thorough itineraries of the fruit trees planted by Bob and John. It was to be a successful venture. R & J Fruit Growers, Bridge of Allan was thus born, and John’s future secure.
However it was not all plain sailing, how indeed could an enterprise like this be – and here we have to admire the tenacity of Bob Scott and indeed his proprietor Donald Graham of Airthrey. In the process of extending the lease of Drumdruills from 19 to 25 years, Donald Graham Esq, who was at that time parceling off his land and selling it to house-builders, realised that a slowly maturing orchard might have rather different implications for his land.
It is worth recording here a letter sent by Mr Graham to his solicitor, for had he “given preference to a tender which, though at a slightly lower rent, was made by an ordinary agricultural tenant,” Drumdruills would never have had an orchard. This would have opened the way for housing development – and that special quality of the place would have unquestionably been lost.
Airthrey Castle, 19th May 1893
I write this with reference to Drumdroulls farm recently taken by Mr Scott.
Unfortunately there is one point which was not foreseen beforehand and which is now the cause of no small difficulty between us. Mr Scott came from the upper Clyde fruit growing districts where, as it appears, leases provide for compensation to tenants, in event of disturbance on the basis of value of their crops. So far as I can learn no such provision has ever been made in this district and here at any rate on this estate the basis for compensation has been that of 1½ years rental.
The point as I have said never came up, and while Mr Scott had the Clyde practise in his mind, I of course never doubted but the other one was understood. It was only when the draft lease was submitted to Mr Scott that we became aware of this conflict of view, and I may add that the difficulty has been somewhat aggravated, by the fact that Mr Scott had in the mean while asked for, and obtained my consent to, an extension of the lease from 19 to 25 years.
It might be asked why a provision which has been found suitable for the fruit growing leases of the Clyde should not prove equally satisfactory here, but it is obvious that a provision, which, in outlying land, would probably never be called into effect, is a very different matter when made applicable to the neighbourhood of a town.
As Mr Scott is planting fruit trees of a kind which in course of years may become very valuable, the question of compensation, supposing his view were accepted, is a most serious matter even though it is proposed to restrict it to a maximum of £15 per acre per annum for the unexpired portion of the lease. In fact the practical effect of it would be to tie up the land as far as feuing was concerned for the whole period of the lease, a result which I feel would be not only unfair to myself, but might in possible circumstances be a matter of no small inconvenience to the public. There is not at present much demand for feuing, but 25 years is a long period, and should a demand arise Drumdroulls has a situation which I think would prove very attractive.
The question is, what is a fair and reasonable way of adjusting the difference, and I have put the facts before you in order to ask you if you will be kind enough to turn them over in your mind, and in the hope that your experience may suggest some way of getting over our difficulty.
I may mention that I have not admitted, and do not admit, that Mr Scott has any actual claim for more than the ordinary 1½ years rental clause which was the custom of the district, and which I had a right to assume Mr Scott had made himself acquainted with. I could not be expected to take into consideration provisions which were customary in other districts, while as a matter of fact I should, had the question cone up at the time, most certainly have given preference to a tender which, though at a slightly lower rent, was made by an ordinary agricultural tenant.
At the same time I am anxious to meet Mr Scott in so far as I reasonably can. I recognise in him a good tenant who will do justice to the land, and as of course it is obvious that if in the course of years the trees had become valuable and had then to be destroyed to make way for buildings there would be a heavy loss to be borne by somebody. I do not desire that the whole of it should be borne by him.
With his son settled at Drumdruills, Bob bought the Cornton Farmhouse and policy, which lies on the vales of the river Forth. There he set about building a new home to retire to (Chapter 3.)
For Bob Scott and his wife Margaret Marshall the years at Bridge of Allan were happy ones, surrounded by children and grandchildren. It became a cherished haven for returning family from Africa.
Bob Scott was a man highly regarded and liked by all. He was strong and athletic in build, yet kind and benevolent in spirit. He had that ‘gentleness of being’ that I associate with the Scott family. Bob’s athleticism was retained into old age; in his seventies he challenged his grandson Robert to a race up the orchard drive, and won! He lived a long life, worked hard, and raised with Margaret, his wife, a wonderful and successful family. It was Bob Scott who returned the Orchard to our district.
Figure Fourteen: Bob Scott with his Uncle Willie at Drumdruills (1894)
Bob Scott died at the Orchard on the 13th June 1940, and just nine days later his dear daughter Jessie died.
John Scott (Bob’s second son) married Susan McEwen at Carmichaels Hotel, Bridge of Allan, in October of a new century (1900.) This marriage was to take the family link back to the Bairds, and indeed take Drumdruills back to Susan Baird. For it was Susan Baird (one of the Crinoline-sisters rehearsed above) who was the mother of Susan McEwen.
At the time, John Scott and Susan McEwen were regarded as “the most beautiful couple to have been wed in Bridge of Allan.” Though I imagine sentiments like this are carried through in most families!
John and Susan went on to have a family of four, three girls, Madite (Deety), Susan and Mary; and one son, Rab (my grandfather). All were born and raised at Drumdruils.
“Also in those days we had gorgeous place to go to, and that was Uncle John and Aunt Susie’s big fruit farm, Drumdruills. There we played with our cousins Susie, Madite, Rab and Mary; games like “kick the can”, out in the yard, hide-and-seek, or rounders. Often our other Scott cousins Bobby, Betty, Margaret and Marshall came for the school holidays – which definitely livened things up.”
Those early years of married life were blissful and many photographs of the family survive from this time. The collection is wonderful, but the my clear favourite is the one below.
Figure Sixteen: Blissful days – Susan and her girls in the Meadow
Sadly, John Scott had far too short a life. He died at his father’s house on the 3rd of July 1912 aged 34yrs. This impacts heavily upon me for I am now of that same age and also have a young family. John Scott’s wife Susan and his four children survived him. At the time of his death, Rab, his only son, (my Grandfather) had just celebrated his Seventh birthday.
Figure Seventeen: A business venture cut short
Curiously, subsequent generations were told that, John Scott died from throat cancer (he was a heavy smoker) however his Death Certificate has him dying of gastritis and peritonitis, with his father Robert as the Informant. This was the same condition his father had suffered but survived
It is worthy of note that John wrote his Will in extremis, just 11 days before his death. There survive two postcards he sent to his daughters, Deety and Susie, from a cruise ship, exactly a month before his death. The details are lost, but it may have been that he was on a cruise to convalesce.
Figure Eighteen: Just before he died
Rab was the only boy of a sibship of three. His oldest sister, Susie, was to go on and study Medicine but apparently dropped out in her first year of study. Her confidence knocked, she never strayed far beyond the Drumdruils home and her mother Susan. Mary Scott, the youngest sister, married Robert Forrest Kelly. Madite, the second-oldest, married Bart Holliday.
Rab’s childhood was during a time of turbulence and change. He was nine years old when the First World War started and thirteen when it ended. His favourite Uncle James was shot in the head during the Gallipoli encounter.
Rab, fatherless from the age of seven, had a loving mother and a ‘collegiate’ of cousins. The fun and games of all the cousins at the Orchard House and Kennetpans are well recalled by older members of the family. Special celebrations were, of course, made for the returning ‘African Missionary Scotts’. Christmas celebrations at the Orchard House, were, by all descriptions, fantastic affairs!
One amusing anecdote has survived from this time. One of Rab’s cousins had overheard Susan Scott (Rab’s mother) in conversation. This cousin came to Rab and said “Rab, yer Mam’s off tae Japan – tae Japan I swear.” Well, this wee cousin was a little off track, for Susan was off not to Japan, but to Kennetpans, near Kincardine!
Rab boarded at the Private School, Strathallan; he was an able scholar and a good sportsman. Rugby was his game, following in the footsteps of his Uncle James Scott (the Gallipoli hero), but never reaching the sporting pinnacle of his brother-in-law, R.F. Kelly, who played for both the Scottish Rugby and Rowing teams. Rab, in later years was instrumental in the formation of Stirling Rugby Club.
Figure Nineteen: The Drumdruill Scotts – Rab, Susie, Deetie and Mary
Rab’s grandmother, Mgt Scott (nee Marshall) died in 1932, and (as stated earlier) in June 1940, his beloved grandad Bob, and Aunt Jessie died. This must have been a very hard time for Rab, and life at Bridge of Allan, one would guess, was never to be the same. Only recently have I seen photographs of Rab’s grandad Bob, their resemblance is unmistakable, and touches me yet.
Following his father’s early death, Rab helped his mother and sister Susan run the fruit-farm at Drumdruils, before inheriting it on the death of his mother in 1965.
Forty-two years after the first lease was first signed Drumdruils was purchased by Rab’s mother, Susan, on the 15th May 1934. She paid the principal some of £2300 to Mrs Gertrude Graham of Airthrey.
Rab met Constance Scott, at a dance at the Roman Camp Hotel, Callander. They were married on the first Thursday of February 1932 (see chapter 17)
Figure Twenty: Susan Scotts’ (mother & daughter)
In all, Rab and Constance had four children, though sadly Robin, the second child, died in infancy. John Gibson Scott, the eldest, served as economist to a number of Third World countries. For his outstanding and selfless work he was awarded the O.B.E. Rab and Con had two daughters: Helen, who later emigrated to Adelaide, Australia, and Margaret, my dear mother.
Rab Scott was a deeply generous man, just filled to the brim with fun. He teased, joked and seemed (in the eyes of his small grandson) to live life to the full.
Examples of Rab’s Tom-foolery abound. He once sent my mother and a friend off to Edinburgh on the train with a dead-rabbit sandwich – yuck! During the Second World War, at Drumdruils, he would sneak sand-bags under the wheels of visitors’ cars, only to roar and laugh when they revved up their engines and found their car wouldn’t budge!
As a youngster he used to go to the local ironmongers in Dunblane, and in the shop’s lucky-dip-barrel, would swap wrapped up presents for wrapped-up cow dung!
I can still see that impish glint in his eye as he retold accounts of his practical jokes.
Despite his propensity to tease, he was a considerate and generous man, liked by all. He used to leave large crates of jam on friends’ doorsteps.
Figure Twenty-One: Margaret, John and Helen
There can be little doubt that my passion for horticulture came from the enthusiasm exhibited by my grandfather Rab Scott (1905-1979). Some of my earliest recollections are of visits to ‘Grumpa’s’ farm of Drumdruills. The approach to Drumdruills in itself was always somewhat magical, twisting as it did, through the steep contours of the Cocksburn pass, and lined by the solid sentinels of majestic silver-barked beech trees. Nearer to the farm the approach was lined on both sides by a dense and ancient mixed hedge. I remember this journey to Drumdruills as if it was yesterday.
The traveller was brought to the back door of Drumdruills, entering as one did through the courtyard surrounded by farm buildings, steadings, and farm workers’ cottages. The layout was typical of Farmhouses dating as far back as the 17th century.
The farmhouse itself was entered through the back door and the back of the house had no outlook, with virtually no windows to speak of (another feature that dates the farmhouse back to the 17th century). This courtyard was a playground unrivalled; the old R & W cart, the weights and weighing scales for the measuring of fruit, the dovecot, and the packs of wild cats weaving in and out of the steading buildings. Above all this stood my grandfather. My lovely dear and happy ‘Grumpa.’
Figure Twenty-Two: Rab
Grumpa had several servants and farm hands – Gustav, Annie & Eddie and the ‘Speeds’ are a few that I remember. Grumpa was their friend, he supported them through and through, and for those still alive, they continue to express their gratitude yet. The last of the Speeds family, – Isobel, died at Causewayhead, Stirling in 2005.
Certain smells evoke a deep sentimentality withinme. All are associated with Grumpa and Drumdruills: Box hedge and its bitter-sweet scent Shoe polish (a shoe stand was facing you as you entered the house); Garden sweet-peas, freshly cut and brought into the house, with their delicious and intoxicating aroma; A drawer-full of gun-powder and its strange sharp-pique (Grumpa’s sideboard was always full of rifle cartridges).
Figure Twenty-Three: With grumpa Rab: Peter, Catriona and Gillian (1971)
Sadness tainted the end of Grumpa’s life. Drumdruils was sold in 1974 and Grumpa moved to Edinburgh. The sale of Drumdruils was a sad event, and how vividly I recall the exit of Gustav – the Pole. Tears poured down his face as he left. It was a sad day all round.
Figure Twenty-Four: Gustav in tears: Who knew what fate beckoned?
Perhaps my earliest memory of Drumdruils was one Easter when flanked by my sisters’ Catriona and Gillian, an Easter egg competition was had, rolling our hard-boiled eggs down the hill from the farm of Drumdruils to the old cottage on the south side of the old Dunblane Road. I have passed the exact spot many times since and looked up towards my grandfather’s farm. At the top still stands the barn where the wild cats once weaved in and out, and one can still hear the diverted culvert from the Cocksburn, which, before mains water, carried the water to the farmhouse. It instantly took me back to children’s bathtime at Drumdruils, sharing the bath as I did with my sisters and recalling the horror of peaty brown water pouring into its enamel and stained basin. Sometimes, and one can laugh now, even blades of straw managed the transit through the ancient plumbing! Indeed our mother often used to wonder if her children came out dirtier than on entry!
Figure Twenty-Five: John & Margaret with Rab and Peter & Trina
Figure Twenty-Six: Harvest time and truly fond memories
These days Drumdruills remains as wonderful as I remember it, though it is more overgrown and the fruit trees planted by my great grandfather in 1892 are now gnarled and twisted through age. Despite the ravages of time, the trees are still laden with small fruits, and the plum trees in particular still bear wonderful fruit. Indeed in 2002 I met a passer-by from the village who came down from the orchard with bags brimming to the rim. Remarkable then that the Orchard is an aged centenarian!
As a result of multiple landslides into the Wharry glen the old road to Dunblane is no longer safe and has been blocked to vehicles. It was along this road, ancient, tree-lined and heavily shaded that the Gordons’ took route home. We the children would wait impatiently on the back vinyl seat of the Morris Traveller, waiting for our parents to shout, “Here it is! Here is the bridge” this of course being the ancient arched bridge of MacVicar allowing the traveller passage across the tumbling Wharry Burn.
And so it was that the bridge from Drumdruills was last crossed, and the homeland of many, faded in the family glow of a millennium of wonder.
Men From the Boys
Imagine this man as a lonely boy:
at the biscuit-smelling, sour milk stage,
shirt misbuttoned, strangled tie,
pockets stocked with fists and secrets.
The inky boy in the front row desk,
who writes his name, address, adds
Scotland, Earth, the Universe, concocts
a six month scheme for the general good;
get dressed in robes to bury voles,
makes the cat a home that goes unused
or tries to help the birds with nests;
gives over spring to crushing flies
to keep a fledgling half alive; and spends
dank winter afternoons spinning
treacle over spoons or making tapes
of private jokes with laughter
added later. This boy writes runes
in milk on library books, and Out
Forbidden on his door. You know
that if you grab him now
You’ll hold a bag of kicking bones.
He wants no comfort, mother, home.
He’ll work the whole thing out alone.