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A Tour of the Statistical Accounts of Scotland


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Presentation delivered by Helen Aiton at the Historic Scotland Lunchtime Seminar, 18/04/2012

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A Tour of the Statistical Accounts of Scotland

  1. 1. A tour of theStatistical Accounts of Scotland Helen AitonEDINA User Support Manager
  2. 2. Facts about the Accounts• The First Accounts were instigated by Sir John Sinclair, in 1791, known as Agricultural Sir John• 21 volumes published 1799 form an account of the quantum of happiness of the communities of Scotland• The Second Account was commissioned by the Committee of the Society of Sons and Daughters of the Clergy in 1832• 15 volumes published 1845 Sir John Sinclair by Sir Henry Raeburn ©National Gallery of Scotland
  3. 3. What is in the Accounts ? • Edited responses from 938 parish ministers to: 166 questions covering: – climate, agriculture, fishing and wildlife – population, schooling and health plus – 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!
  4. 4. The Questions • 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 letter. • 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. • Addenda • 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.
  5. 5. Development of the Statistical Accounts of Scotland Service • The printed sets of the First and Second Accounts are among the most widely consulted sources in Library Collections – the high levels of use have taken their toll on existing sets • In the 1990s the digitisation project was led by the late Henry J Heaney ( former librarian of the University of Glasgow) with support from SCURL using volumes form the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow • JISC funded EDINA to develop the service and supported the funding for the production of the scanned page images of the 28000 pages in 1998 • The funding of the transcription – fully searchable text was provided by: – Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland – National Archives of Scotland – The Friends of Glasgow University Library – Gannochy Trust – National Library of Scotland – Scottish Library and Information Council
  6. 6. Management of the Statistical Accounts of Scotland • The Service was formally launched in January 2001 • The Joint Board for the Statistical Accounts of Scotland was formed to manage and fund the development of the new service. Members were drawn from: SCURL, NLS, NAS, SLIC Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow EDINA staff • In January 2005 EDINA assumed sole responsibility of hosting running and developing the service guided by an Editorial Board, comprising scholars and librarians from Scotland and overseas and EDINA staff, under the chairmanship of Dr Ann Matheson as Honorary Editor. The Board meets 5 times a year
  7. 7. The home page of the online service
  8. 8. Search for a Parish
  9. 9. Search for Parish
  10. 10. Parish Image
  11. 11. Bottom of the Parish Page
  12. 12. Image and Transcript
  13. 13. Search for text
  14. 14. Search Results Page
  15. 15. View both image and transcribed text
  16. 16. Dumfries Parish Reports
  17. 17. 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 Galloway kind. • 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.
  18. 18. 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 poors 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
  19. 19. 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 gentlemans 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 bread. • 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
  20. 20. Dumfries 2nd Account -facts• 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 beautiful eradiation.• 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 considerable extent.• Inns,&c.--The three principal inns in Dumfries are,--the Kings 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.
  21. 21. 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 L. 30,000.
  22. 22. Dumfries 2nd 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 Kings 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.
  23. 23. Cholera outbreak 15th Sept – 27th Nov 1832 • 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 mens 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, • • 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 with lime
  24. 24. Cholera outbreak 15th Sept – 27th Nov 1832 • 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 not reported. • 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 detriment.
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  31. 31. Pitlessie Fair on display in the National Gallery of Scotland Sir David Wilkie 1804 (aged 19)
  32. 32. 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 painters earlier years.• Cults, County of Fife. Account of 1834-45, volume 9, page 567