Monday, July 2, 2012

Castle Mains, 23 January 1879

It's been almost a year since the last surviving letter from Sanquhar, but this one comes with big news:  Tam Scott will marry without any ceremony whatsoever--no ceremony, no party, no family gathering.   I've always thought they didn't even do that;  irregular marriages "by cohabitation with repute" were legal in Scotland until 2006.   But Irene Macleod got in touch to let me know there was a record of their official marriage at New Cumnock in 1879.  (Thank you Irene Macleod!) 

Marion Brown is apprehensive about moving another woman into their home, but she recognizes that Aunt and herself have no real alternatives.  As if trying to convince herself to accept the situation, the word "thankful" appears in this letter three times, and "kind" three more.

It's winter in Sanquhar, and the weather has been "hard" for months.  She's not one to exaggerate:  The winter of 1878-79 was severe, according to the reports in the Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. Marion can walk into Sanquhar, slowly, from their new location; but she is not able to speak much.

Castle Mains
January 23rd 1879

Dear Uncle

It is now a long time since I wrote to you I hope when it reaches you that it may find you and all friends in the enjoyment of good health for which we ought to be very thankful for nothing in this world is a pleasure to us if we have not health to enjoy it.  I have some news to tell you this time Tom is going to be married on the last day of this month if all goes well.  the woman he is going to marry belongs to New Cumnock her name is Robina Boyle.  he is going to have no wedding only a marriage she is coming here to live along with us.  Aunt thought it was the best way for her to come beside us as Tom could not keep two houses.  Tom wrote to uncle Joseph but he said he would leave me to write to you as he never saw you.  and we must just try and put up the best way we can there is no doubt but we will feel a difference if she is kind to Aunt I dont care for myself so much but I would not like to hear her speak cross to Aunt she has always been so kind to me and Tom has always been very kind to me.

Dear uncle if I had been strong and able to fight the battle of life for myself it would have been different but as it is I ought to be very thankful that I have always some place I can call home our heavenly Father is always kind to me and there will always be a way and will turn up when we least expect it. 

Aunt has moderate good health but is very bad with rheumatisms.  I am just about the same my back is still sore but I can walk about a little altho but slowly I can go up to Sanquhar but it takes me half an hour what another person can do in ten minutes however I am very thankful I can walk as I do.  I have been worse at speaking this some but the want of my voice does not put me about as long as I am able to move about.  All friends here is well as far as I know.  We have very hard weather just now and has had for two months now.  I must stop with kind regards to you and all friends in which Aunt joins hopping to hear from you soon I am your affectionate niece Marion Brown

PS the post is just waiting