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The Statistical Accounts of Scotland / Vivienne Mayo (EDINA)


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Vivienne describes how information from the past has found a new lease of life in the recently re-launched Statistical Accounts of Scotland. Presented at the CIG Scotland seminar 'Somewhere over the Rainbow: our metadata online, past, present & future' (Metadata & Web 2.0 Series) at the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, 5th April 2017

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The Statistical Accounts of Scotland / Vivienne Mayo (EDINA)

  1. 1. The Statistical Accounts of Scotland Vivienne Mayo ‘Pitlessie Fair’ by Sir David Wilkie © The National Gallery of Scotland
  2. 2. Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster ‘Sir John Sinclair’ by Sir Henry Raeburn National Gallery of Scotland
  3. 3. “an inquiry into the state of a country, for the purpose of ascertaining the quantum of happiness enjoyed by its inhabitants, and the means of its future improvement” “many people were at first surprised at my using the new words statistics and statistical …. Yet, as I thought that a new word might attract more public attention, I resolved on adopting it, and I hope it is now completely naturalised and incorporated with our language." OSA, Volume 20, p. xiii
  4. 4. ‘Minister Preaching’ (attributed to William Home Lizars (1788–1859) Perth & Kinross Council
  5. 5. “It is to be observed, on the above enumeration, that it must be rather under, than above, the real amount. In some of the parishes, lodgers were not included; and in all of them, the real number of many families could not be obtained, in consequence of the absurd apprehensions entertained, that the enumeration was intended for the purpose of laying on some new tax, in which the people were to be charged higher in proportion to the number of their children. It is probable that from 2 to perhaps 3000 souls more would have appeared on the lists, had the enumeration been more accurate and complete, and had there been no concealment in consequence of the above mentioned prejudices of several of the inhabitants.” OSA, Edinburgh vol 6, p.564 ‘Edinburgh’ by John Wilson Ewbank (c.1799–1847). The National Trust for Scotland, Brodie Castle.
  6. 6. Sir,… I received a Statistical Account the other day, which cost nine shillings, in consequence of the Minister forgetting that the privilege of Parliament does not extend beyond one ounce. I thought it right to mention this circumstance, as you will probably be in a hurry in sending off your Account, after the receipt of this letter; for I am persuaded, you would not wish to be recorded as the very last, who contributed to so useful an undertaking. Sir John Sinclair’s Circular letter, sent in April 1797
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  8. 8. First (Old/OSA) account • instigated by Sir John Sinclair in 1791 • 21 volumes published by 1799 Second (New/NSA) account • commissioned in 1832 by the Committee of the Society of Sons and Daughters of the Clergy • 15 volumes published by 1845.
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  12. 12. 13 Sections
  13. 13. 14 County Parish Section Transcript Pages Site search SOLR Images Images
  14. 14. Keyword searches
  15. 15. 16 View, save, annotate, share accounts
  16. 16. Associated words 17
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  19. 19. “Where any numbers of mankind meet, it unavoidably happens, that they must often mutually compare, combine, and oppose their abilities and exertions. Human industry and genius, become, in these circumstances, more vigorous and active; and [a dwelling place that] was, at first, disfigured by the scattered huts of a few rude and helpless savages, comes, by degrees, to be improved into a splendid or commodious city.” OSA, Dumfries, Vol 5 p 119.
  20. 20. Dumfries: The OSA • Population: 5600 souls. • Poor: 150 who receive alms from the public funds. 45 to 50 are supported in a poor's house “The town of Dumfries serving in some measure as a capital, not merely to this shire, but also to Galloway, and having such easy and regular intercourse with London, with Edinburgh, and even with the capital of Ireland, has thus become remarkable as a provincial town for elegance, information, and varied amusement.[…] The character of the inhabitants, is allowed to be, in general, very respectable. They are charitable and benevolent, hospitable to strangers, and mix frequently amongst themselves in domestic intercourse. In their disposition and manners they are social and polite.” • Diseases: Consumptions and rheumatisms are frequent here, as they are indeed in all variable climates. The practice of inoculation for the small pox became frequent here, as soon, or sooner than in many other parts of Scotland. It began as early as the year 1733, about seven years after its introduction into Britain. ‘Dumfries’ by James Murray Dacre (1807–1855)
  21. 21. Dumfries: The NSA • Population: According to the Government Census, the population of the parish in 1811 was, 9,262. In 1821, 11,052. In 1831, 11,606. • Poor and Parochial Funds.--The average number of persons receiving parochial aid directly from the kirk-session, previous to the year 1832, was 560; But this does not include the fifty inmates nor the forty-two pensioners of the Poor-House • A steam-boat plies once a-week during the summer months between Dumfries and Whitehaven, in connection with one from thence to Liverpool; by which conveyance an immense quantity of goods and live stock, particularly sheep, are exported for the English market. • Inns,&c.--The three principal inns in Dumfries are,--the King's Arms, the George, and the Commercial Inn. Upon a moderate average, no fewer than 168 individuals annually have licences granted them to sell ale and spirits, and the effect upon the morals of the population is truly deplorable. • Poaching, both in game and in the salmon fisheries, prevails to a considerable extent.
  22. 22. Dumfries Cholera Outbreak 15th Sept – 27th Nov 1832 “The total number of cases officially reported, is 837; of deaths, 422; and of recoveries, 415. It is certain, however, that many cases were not reported.” “The patients were conveyed thither in palanquins or litters, borne on men's shoulders. The hospital was crowded, but was not large enough to hold one- eighth part of the sick.” “Almost every one of the medical men suffered more or less, either from the effects of extreme bodily and mental exhaustion, or from the attacks of the disease itself. Three of them, indeed, were cut off in the midst of their usefulness; two belonging to this town, (much and deeply regretted,) and the third, one of those who, had been called from a distance.” “As no inhabitant of the country would willingly brave the influence of the tainted air, the market-day was undistinguished from the other days of the week” “From an early period of the disease, by order of the Board of Health, pots of pitch and tar were kept continually burning in the streets and closes, which were profusely strewed with lime, in the hope of purifying the atmosphere; but all apparently without any good effect.” “That night, a thunder-storm burst over the town, the peals being uncommonly long and loud, and the lightning vivid. The weather had previously been by no means such as to warrant the anticipation of a storm, yet awful and unexpected as it was, the most timorous hailed it with as a joy, as a means of dispelling the poison with which the atmosphere was contaminated.”
  23. 23. “Some years ago, an act of Parliament was obtained, empowering the governors to dispose of the surplus revenue of Heriot's Hospital, for the erection of day-schools in the most populous districts of the city, for the Gratuitous education of poor children belonging to deceased burgesses, freemen, and other poor citizens of Edinburgh. Accordingly seven very commodious and handsome buildings have been erected in the following localities: Heriot Bridge, Old Assembly Close, Borthwick Close, Cowgate Port, High School Yards. In Old Assembly Close and High School Yards two infant schools are also established. These are now attended by upwards of 2000 children; and from the efficient manner in which they are conducted, promise to be of the utmost benefit for the general diffusion of education among the lower orders.” NSA, Edinburgh Vol 1 p. 685
  24. 24. “When an attempt was made, some time ago, to have the condition of the schoolmasters of this country somewhat bettered, the argument, by which some lords and gentlemen opposed it, was, that they wished parish schools were suppressed altogether, because their servants were corrupted, by being taught to read and write: That they would be more obedient and dutiful, were they more ignorant, and had no education. This, however, is not the opinion of any gentleman in this parish.” NSA, Cadder, County of Lanark, Vol 8 p. 481.
  25. 25. 28 Witches from Macbeth, John Downman, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
  26. 26. 29 Le Harem, Fernand Cormon, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
  27. 27. Anvil from 1736, by Lokilech - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, 30
  28. 28. 31 Cptn John Paul Jones, George Bagby Matthews, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
  29. 29. Thank you! • Twitter: @Statacc • Facebook: Statistical Accounts of Scotland • Blog: • Service: