What is in the Accounts ?
• Edited responses from 938 parish ministers
166 questions covering:
– climate, agriculture, fishing and wildlife
– population, schooling and health
– class, wealth and poverty
– moral health of the people!
• An extraordinary, revolutionary view of life
• Statistical Missionaries' were sent to hurry
up late entries and a 'final demand' written
in red ink!
• Copy of the Queries drawn up for the purpose of elucidating the Natural
History and political State of Scotland, which were inclosed in the preceding
• I. Questions respecting the Geography and Natural History of the Parish.
• II. Questions respecting the Population of the Parish?
• III. Questions respecting the Productions of the Parish.
• IV. Miscellaneous Questions.
• N. B. If you reside in a town or city, please give an account of the history and
antiquities of the place; of its buildings, age, walls, sieges, charters, privileges,
immunities, gates, streets, markets, fairs; the number of churches, wards,
guilds, companies, fraternities, clubs, &c.: How the town is governed: if it is
represented in parliament, to whom does the right of election belong, and
what the number of electors? together with a comparison between its ancient
and modern state, in regard to population, commerce, shipping, fisheries,
manufactures, more particularly at the following periods, about the time of the
Union, since the year 1745, and at present.
• It may be proper to add, that many important facts and observations may
occur to those to whom this paper is addressed, not hinted at in the queries,
which it would be particularly obliging in any gentleman to add to any answer
which he may take the trouble of drawing up.
• EDINBURGH, May 25,1790.
Dumfries – First Account –facts
• The London mail coach passes through Dumfries every day of the
week, and a daily post between Edinburgh and Port Patrick
• The Infirmary is a neat building. In a square, nearly in the middle of
the town, there is a handsome Doric column, which was erected on a
plan of Mr Robert Adams, 10 years ago, by the gentlemen of the
country, to the memory of the late Duke of Queensberry.
• Banks.-Branches of three different banks are established here, in
which transactions to a very considerable amount are carried on.
• Fuel.-The fuel used is coals from Sanquhar, or by water carriage from
Cumberland, and peats from Locher-moss. The coals cost from 7 d. to
9 d. per cwt, and are, a cheaper article of fuel than the peats.
• Wheel Carriages.-No waggons belong to this town. The Carlisle
waggon, drawn by six horses, comes hither once a-week and returns.
Eight or 10 post-chaises are kept at the inns for the road. Five families
in the parish keep each a four-wheeled chaise; and four have
Dumfries – First Account – more facts
• Air and Water.-The air here is rather moist, but the dryness of the soil,
and the high winds, which occasionally prevail, obviate, in a great
measure, the ill effects which might otherwise be produced by the
moisture of the atmosphere.
• Singular Rock.-About a mile eastward from the town is a craig or rock,
curionsly hollwed, known by the name of the Maiden-bower crag. It is
said to have been famous in the times of druidism; and may have
received its name, from being the scene of some rites practised as a
test of virginity.
• Quadrupeds.-The breed of horses has been greatly improved here
within these 20 years; and the black cattle are of the well known
• The present minister of the Old Church is Dr Thomas Mutter, who is
married, and has five daughters. Dr Burn- side, minister in the New
Church, is also married, and has six daughters and two sons.
Dumfries – First Account – more facts
• In 1755, the number of souls, as returned to Dr Webster, was 4517.
The present population of the town, as appears from an e- numeration
lately taken, may be fairly estimated at 5600 souls.
• Poor.-There are at least 150 poor persons who receive alms from the
public funds. From 45 to 50 are supported in a poor's house,
established in the town. Such as chuse to go about begging, are
supplied with badges to distinguish them as the only mendicant poor
belonging to the town
• Diseases.-Consumptions and rheumatisms are frequent here, as they
are indeed in all variable climates, especially when due pains are not
taken to defend the body, by suitable clothing, against the bad effects
of sudden changes of the weather.
• 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 – First Account
• An antique, supposed to be a Roman sandal, which was found towards
the east end of this parish, is now in the possession of Mr Riddel of
Glenriddel. In the same gentleman's collection is also a small gold coin,
scarcely so broad as a six- pence, but nearly as thick as a half-crown,
and bearing the inscription AUGUSTUS, roand the impression of a Roman
• 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
• Meteorology.-The aurora borealis, which is often observed here, assumed
an uncommon appearance for many evenings in the beginning of the
winter of 1830, and particularly on one occasion, when the zenith
presented a blood-red appearance, with rays of a pale colour playing
across its surface. Suddenly the fainter rays concentrated themselves into
a focus, from which they quickly diverged in every direction, presenting a
• A vaulted passage under the street, forms a communication between the
prison-yard and the court-house.
• According to the Government Census, the population of the parish in 1811
was, 9,262 In 1821, 11,052 In 1831, 11,606
• Poaching, however, both in game and in the salmon fisheries, prevails to a
• There are three hat-manufactories; in whibh together, nearly 200 workmen
Dumfries 2nd Account – more facts
• There are also several breweries in Dumfries, and one very extensive
basket-making establishment. The manufacture of clogs or strong shoes
with thick wooden soles, the use of which was till lately confined to the
south of Scotland, affords no inconsiderable profit to those engaged in it.
Large quantities of shoes are also exported, and in the manufacture of
these articles upwards of 300 individuals are employed.
• 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.
• At the fair in February, an incredible quantity of hare-skins is purchased.
The average number cannot be under 30,000; and one year, no less a
sum than L. 6000 is said to have been paid for that one article.
• On each of two occasions, during the last five years, viz. in 1829 and
1830, there have been about 600 head of cattle exposed,--the majority
being aged, two or three-year old Galloways and Highlanders; and on
each of these occasions business has been done to an amount exceeding
Account – more facts
• Owing to the channel of the river having lately been deepened, vessels of
considerable burthen can discharge their cargoes close to the town, and
by this means the inhabitants have their coals transported by water from
Whitehaven almost to their very doors.
• 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
• Prisons.--The number of prisoners, (exclusive of debtors,) committed to
the county jail during the last year, amounts to 45.
• 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
Cholera outbreak 15th
Sept – 27th
• In 1832, Dumfries was visited with Indian or spas- modic cholera, and
experienced its effects with more than ordinary severity
• 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
• 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,
• two rows of large pits were dug in the more unoccupied part of the
cemetery; and in these the bodies were piled one upon another,--every
coffin being surrounded by a layer of quick-lime. Each pit, when the
coffins had reached to about two feet from the surface, was filled up
Cholera outbreak 15th
Sept – 27th
• 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.
• The total number of cases officially reported, is 837; of deaths, 422;
and of recoveries, 415. It is certain, however, that many cases were
• It is remarkable that the proportion of females who were seized
much exceeded that of males; and that the greater number, at the
period of attack, were either menstruating, pregnant, or nursing.
• Children seemed equally susceptible of the disease with adults, but
they sooner rallied; and seemingly their constitutions received less
• The development of the Statistical
Accounts of Scotland Online
service is overseen by an Editorial
Board, comprising scholars and
librarians from Scotland and
overseas and EDINA staff, under
the chairmanship of Dr Ann
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• The Board meets 5 times a year
Quote about the Pitlessie Fair
• "Pitlessie Fair," which was his first
regular effort as an artist, is now in the
possession of a proprietor in an adjoining
parish,Charles Kinnear, Esq. of Kinloch. It
is a fine picture, containing upwards of
150 figures graphically delineated and
admirably grouped, including portraits of.
Wilkie himself, his father, brothers and
sisters, and of many other characters well
known in the parish and neighbourhood,
during the painter's earlier years.
• Cults, County of Fife. Account of 1834-45, volume 9, page 567