Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Castle Mains, 4 June 1879

This is not a letter by Marion Brown.  She is referred to as "May" in this letter, and has apparently "had a very bad turn."  So her cousin, Tam Scott, is writing instead.  Tam's handwriting is fairly legible for a man's hand, but his spelling, capitalization, grammar, and punctuation are less standard than Marion's, and quite a few words are hard to work out.  Nonetheless, it's a newsy partial letter that gives a glimpse of Tam's personality, and shows Marion Brown's situation from another perspective.

Tam is a new father, it seems, with young Samuel Glencross Scott already 9 weeks old.  We know from other letters that Robina moved into the Castle Mains residence as Tam's wife at the end of January; she must have been quite pregnant at the time, if their son was born in early April.  His mother (Aunt Agnes Scott) is "fair daft" about her first grandchild, but at the time of this letter's writing, she was away from the home, teaching cheesemaking at dairies near Auchengruick (not sure where that is on current maps).  That leaves Marion at home, too ill even to write; a newborn, Samuel; a new mother, Robina; and Tam, who is unable to work from having "smashed ribs."  And, apparently, chickens. Sounds stressful!

Tam says work is scarce, very scarce, especially since the "Duck" (the local landowner; Tam misspells "Duke," or does he?) isn't hiring at the moment.  But Tam is making some money with his prize poultry.  He's obviously proud of his Hamburgs, and travels to various shows to compete with other breeders.  But rats (or "rates") ate a bunch of his best chickens, which made a significant dent in his prospects for earning. 

There's also mention of Robert McWhir, who has turned up in at least two past letters.

Castle Mains

June 4th 1879

Dear Uncle I take the pleasure of droping you a few lines to let you know how we are all getting on  hopping this will find you all well I may say that May is getting a little better But has had a very bad turn and my mother is well but Bothered with Rehumatism  She is at Auchengruick just now larning them to make the chease she has both the dairs to lairn  She is standing her age well i do not know much els of her but scarce so fast as in formar days I may say that the Wife is well and the Son he is 9 weeks old today and a fine Strong Healthy Boy but i dout he will get too much of his one [own?] will with them.  Mother is fair daft about him and May not much Better I will depart from this topic But first i will give you the Son's name I call him Samuel Glencross Scott 

I may say that Robert McWhir is cum hear for man [men?].  I am of work just now with Smashed Ribs which i got at my work but work hear is very scarce and will be scarcer before it is mor plentful.  the Duck is stoped puting on his repairs sing[?] to his son standing for Mid Lothian and it is a grate pity if he would get on for he is puting this place in a pitful state we are just finishing up old jobs that we had not done it is sed that it will be 3 years before it is any better as the Duck is deep in det their is nothing going on at nothing it dos not mater what it is their is 100 on the Road that cannot get work no place.

Every part is alick their is no use leaving one place and going to another for all is alick bad and markets high you sed I had shurly a good stock of Poultry I have the best Stock of Hamburgs I think in Scottland the have to cum from York and Leads Lincolnshire the best Breeders in England the do nothing else but attend Shows and make their living of them and a good one to I sold eggs of my Birds this year at 6 shillings and 6 pence a dozen their were 2 settings sent to Nottingham and i am going to have a Draw for 4 Pair of my Prize Birds I am getting them Printed at Dumfries i intend to make a little mony of it in this dull tumes I will not stick at nothing I had 44 chickins some 10 weeks old and on Monday night the Rates found them and thought they would make a good supper and killed 6 of them and the Best to I could have got 1 pound a peace for them It will tell hard against me this year for the Shows as you can Scarce get them to run[?], the Shows too years althoe I have an old cock this year has only been shown two times took 1 at Sanquhar and First and Special at New Cumnock show the judge told me he was the Best Cock that he had seen and he put it in the Papers to and I took 2 to at New Cumnock my next hshow will be Dumfries Union Show which is in August i mean to take First at it to if i am well 

I was to give you Robert McWhir's kind love you and Uncle John and you have to send word what sort of a country you are in I could fill the letter about my Birds with Prizes and Remarks at Shows but i will let them drop I hop trade is getting better with you Tom will be a man by this time His cousin Tam is 6 feet and Built from the ground he was home hear at the Saison [?] he always calls it his Home you know he never knew anything els you might tell him to write a letter to me as i fell as  [rest of letter is missing]