CENTENARIANS.

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SarahND
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Re: CENTENARIANS.

Post by SarahND » Wed Jul 08, 2020 9:20 am

Wow! What a tale :shock: He certainly lived a varied life, even though he never went very far from his birthplace.

I was just rereading my great grandfather's account of the locust invasion in Kansas in the 1870s -- those horrible grubs sound equally ghastly...

Thanks again, Alan

Sarah

Anne H
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Re: CENTENARIANS.

Post by Anne H » Thu Jul 09, 2020 9:41 am

What a memory and such fantastic recollections! The man obviously had a great love for life.

Just loved it, Alan. Many thanks.

[cheers]
Anne

Currie
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Re: CENTENARIANS.

Post by Currie » Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:08 am

Thanks Sarah and Anne,

A few of these stories are about “almost centenarians” and others are a bit suspect. This fellow is not quite there yet but “might live to become a centenarian.” His story, from the Evening Telegraph, Dundee, Friday, February 10, 1899, is probably worth reporting, because, a least, he claims to be …….


THE OLDEST WEAVER IN SCOTLAND.
AN INTERESTING BORDERER.
EARLY CO-OPERATION IN STIRLINGSHIRE.

It is not an uncommon expression to hear that old age is at times burdensome, and not to be envied even by those whose circumstances are the reverse of indigent. Such an expression may be accepted as a true indication of the feelings of some suffering fellow creatures up in years; yet there are exceptions, and this week a correspondent had the pleasure of an interesting conversation with an exception in the person of Mr Willam Young,who attains his 90th year on 4th April, and of whom a portrait is given from a not immediately recent-taken photo, but which, nevertheless, correctly depicts the present appearance of the vetern Scottish woollen weaver of fourscore years’ service.

In response to the ring of the stair bell at 26 Fowler Terrace (at that address the octogenarian servant of Capital resides with his daughter), a little, slightly bent man inquired of your correspondent whom he wanted. A short explanation resulted in my being ushered into a clean and comfortably furnished kitchen, my subject nimbly preceding to find me a seat. Hardly had I got seated ere be opened fire on me over an article which appeared recently in the People’s Journal with reference to another weaver, who was credited with being the oldest member of his craft in Scotland, and which my host disputed.

“Well, then, Mr Young, let’s hear your claim to that distinguished honour.”

“I was born,” he said, “at Berwick-on-Tweed on 4th April 1809, where my father was serving with the Stirlingshire Militia. The order came shortly after my birth for the regiment to proceed to Dover, and my mother and I were sent home to her parents’ house at Sauchie. When I had turned eight years I went, into the service of a relative who owned the ‘Middle o’ the Toon Mill’ in Tillicoultry, a house famed for its tweeds and shawls. Here I learned weaving under a Hielandman named John Macgreger, and who also learned me to snuff.”

“Just so, Mr Young, but what about your schooling?”

“Oh, schuling I had little o’ that when a laddie. The nicht schules after I went to work are responsible for my education, such as it’s like. But I suppose what you want to ken is how I can make mysel’ an aulder weaver than the ither chappie,” and with that William lifted his snuff-box, helped himself to a pinch by way of a “refresher,” and invited me to join him, remarking that he had ‘‘snuffed for 75 years.” Returning to his early life as a weaver in Tillicoultry, he said, “you will see that it was in 1817 I embarked on life's struggle. During the following 12 years I remained at home, and acquired a varied knowledge of first-class weaving, for the firm with which I was employed wove nothing but the best wool. There was no shoddy then. In 1829 I moved to Galashiels, and entered the service of that well-known firm, Mr Robert Patterson, chiefly weaving blue and grey tweeds. A love for the scenes and associations of my early childhood, however, induced me to return to the Hillfoots in the following year, where I contemplated settling down. At this time the ambitious spirit was strong in me, and in conjunction with some companions the idea was conceived of starting weaving on our own account, and to ensure success the mill we started on Devonside was laid on co-operative lines. It existed for nearly nine years.”

”And what was the real cause of your suspending work, for co-operation as practised to-day is being attended with an all-round success?’

“Aye, that’s true enough now, but the disturbed state of the country in the ’30’s fairly paralysed all industries, and it was only the capitalist who could hold out, and this he did by locking up his money. When the dividend is not forthcoming the co-operator loses heart, and that explains the dissolution of the Devonside Co-Operative Mill. There was nothing for it but to go elsewhere, so I decided to revisit Galashiels, which I did early in 1839. Entering then the employment of Mr George Roberts I remained there until 1847, when I left Galashiels for Selkirk. With Mr Roberts the trade was mostly tartan-weaving. The subsequent 50 years I spent in the service of that best of firms, Messrs Weddell & Turnbuil, Selkirk, where I was a pattern-weaver. I shall never forget the many kindnesses of that firm and my old fellow-workmen. I fear I have troubled you with too much uninteresting harangue about myself, but I think you'll be able to satisfy the Editor that I have made good my claim to being the oldest handloom weaver in Scotland, or elsewhere I fear.”

In a short general conversation which followed the impression was forced in on me that Mr Young’s mind was not much impaired with his load of years, neither was his physical appearance, for one would be inclined to hazard against the uncertainty of life that he might live to become a centenarian. Few men of his age can recite with the same interesting clearness the leading features of the early political history of the county, more particularly in Stirlingshire and adjacent districts. The Chartist movement found in him a certain amount of sympathy, but in it he took no active part. All his life he has been a staunch Radical. Until two years ago he enjoyed the full blessing of health, for which he repeatedly showed his earnest gratitude. In 1897 he was laid up for seven weeks, but he feels he has lived down that temporary attack of illness. The spectacles, by the way, to which reference is made, are not his, but his daughter’s, and it is only on such dull, dark days as we have had recently that he puts them on when reading; otherwise his vision is remarkably good. Although an ardent snuffer, William never puffed the weed, and his fresh appearance answers for his temperate habits. For nearly 14 years he has been a widower. He retired from work two years ago, and came to reside in Edinburgh.


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And another story, much earlier than the first, and this time from Aberdeen via the Glasgow Herald, Monday, March 26, 1855.


Longevity.—Our obituary of to-day contains an announcement of the death, in the neighbourhood of Aberdeen, a few days ago, of Mrs. Mary Mearns, whose earthly span had been prolonged to the extraordinary age of eight years more than a century. The evidence of her age, we find, rests on two grounds:—first, the register of a brother's birth bears date 1748, and she was older than he was. The imperfect state of registration will easily account for her birth not being inserted, whilst the fact of a male member of a family being registered, and this not being done in the case of a female, will excite no surprise. Secondly, we have seen a worthy old woman, upwards of 80, named Henderson, who knew Mrs. Mearns well, and who confirms, as near as may be, the reputed age of the latter.

Mrs. Mearns was born at Newburgh, parish of Foveran, in this county. The celebrated John Wesley visited that place in course of his itinerant preaching tours about 1770, or earlier, and the subject of this brief notice heard him, and attached herself to the body which that great man and zealous preacher founded, remaining a consistent member of it to her last. Her earlier recollections, indeed, though she did not possess a very retentive memory, furnish some materials for the history of Methodism in its initiatory and early stages in the north. For some time, the “class” at Newburgh consisted of eight members, all females; and Mrs. Mearns used pleasantly to remark, that it was accounted an era when “men began to call on the name of the Lord.”

She was married to a cousin (her maiden as well as married name being Mearns) when about 40, and left Newburgh about 20 years after that event, residing for a short time at Cruden, and then for nearly 40 years at Peterhead. Mrs. M. had a son and a daughter. Her husband died about fourteen years ago, and for the last seven or eight years she lived with a married grand-daughter in the vicinity of Aberdeen. She saw her great-grandchildren grow up to youth, and knitted stockings for them.

In her younger days she did not think it any great feat to walk from Newburgh to Aberdeen and back, a distance of more than twenty miles (along the seaside) in a day. Her habits were peculiarly simple, sober, and active, and her disposition very happy, a sunny piety regulating her life. Mrs. Mearns was not of the gloomy disposition of some, which leads them to represent the world as degenerating since their youth; on the contrary, she gladly and unreservedly acknowledged a great improvement to have taken place, especially in religious matters, She attended public worship until within a few years ago, and retained her faculties till the last.

Aberdeen Journal.


Probably just a few more stories about centenarians and then something else.

Alan

SarahND
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Re: CENTENARIANS.

Post by SarahND » Wed Jul 15, 2020 9:05 am

Thanks, Alan! Interesting to read what lives were like back then. I suspect if I make it that far, they will also say "though she did not possess a very retentive memory" while skimming vaguely over my life story. :lol:

Best,
Sarah

Anne H
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Re: CENTENARIANS.

Post by Anne H » Wed Jul 15, 2020 10:16 am

Thanks Alan. Fascinating facts to have been able to recall all those years later.

I can't seem to remember what happened yesterday never mind years ago - well, maybe some little highlights. :D

[cheers]
Anne

Currie
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Re: CENTENARIANS.

Post by Currie » Wed Jul 22, 2020 11:03 am

Thanks People,

I’ll finish up this series with a smattering of stories, from a smattering of places, starting with the Glasgow Herald, Tuesday, December 4, 1866.

DEATH OF A CENTENARIAN.

On Sunday last a decent old woman, named Helen Boyle, expired in her house at Clyde Terrace, at the great age of 102 years, Mrs Boyle was the widow of a farmer, who, in his earlier days, resided at Meville, near Londonderry, his native place, Being unsuccessful as a farmer, Mr Boyle and his wife came to Glasgow about fifty years ago, and started business in a small way. A gentleman whose relatives knew the history of Mrs Boyle well has courteously handed us a few jottings regarding the life of the deceased. She was born in Meville in 1764, on a day of a week in November, which was made memorable by a dreadful gale of wind, by which several fishing boats were wrecked, and many of her father’s neighbours drowned.

Mrs Boyle was a fine-looking woman in her early years, and retained a good fresh colour, and many of her teeth till a very old age. Her memory was most retentive, and at as recent a date as September last, when our informant accompanied a gentleman to visit her, and told her the visitors name and connections, she, without a moment's consideration, told him that he was the person who had given her the first fourpenny piece she had ever seen, This occurred about 28 years ago, and Mrs Boyle had never seen the gentleman during the interval. While able she supported herself, and through her honesty and truthfulness gained many friends amongst those who dealt with her. For almost twelve years previous to her death she was confined to bed; but the friends she had made did not forsake her, There is little doubt that the perfect sobriety and simplicity of her life tended greatly to lengthen her days.

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Evening Telegraph, Dundee, Thursday, September 18, 1879.

A “TOUGH OLD LADY.”

(From the Daily Telegraph of this morning. )

We lately chronicled the death of a stout centenarian in the Island of Skye—an old woman—but the really “oldest inhabitant” is only now dead, and she, too, was Scotch. Mrs Margaret Robertson or Duncan died two days since at Coupar Angus in her one hundred and seventh year. She was born in Glenshee, we are told, in 1773, and had lived under the reigns of three British Kings and one Queen. Until about six or eight years ago she retained possession of all her faculties, but then she became blind, and about a year since bedridden. She was very intelligent, it is stated, and talked in terms of becoming scorn of the poor feeble creatures who could not manage to live longer than a paltry eighty or ninety years, which, she declared, “was nae age ava.”

But how did this seasoned old dame, it may be asked, manage to ‘‘top” the century in longevity? For one thing she was a devoted smoker. The clay pipe was often in her mouth, and she repelled the notion that it could do her any harm. When spoken to about the injurious effects of tobacco her invariable answer was, “I’ve smoked a’ my days. It’s had plenty time to dae me ill, and it’s never socht.” Mrs Duncan’s deduction from her long experience will be admitted to be a perfectly sound one, and every smoker will refer with pride to the tough old lady of Coupar Angus as a conclusive proof of the antiseptic properties of his favourite weed.

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Aberdeen Journal, Wednesday, September 25, 1895.

A FRASERBURGH CENTENARIAN,

In an attic room in a building at the junction of Cross Street and High Street, Fraserburgh, within a couple of hundred yards of the spot upon which stood the house where she was born upon August 28th, 1795, lives Isabella Morrison, better known locally as Bella Morris. Bed-ridden for the past two years, she lies in not altogether a helpless condition; unostentatiously grateful for the good offices of kind neighbours and the quiet, worthy acts of private friends. Uncomplaining, cheerful, devout, but undemonstrative in her devotion, Bella Morrison is a pattern from whom many good people, even more comfortably placed than she, and who have not perhaps more than one-half the burden of her years, might profitably copy.

At the end of a century the furrow of time is deeply marked on her visage; but still her face is pot unpleasant to look at. Her short hands, with their small fingers, are withered and bony, but their pristine shape is unmarred by any distortion. Her eye is still bright, though time must have dimmed its lustre. Her voice has lost its music, and the huskiness, which, in a more powerful organ, might have sounded harsh, is not at all unpleasant. The ear has lost its power, and nothing, perhaps, strains the frame more than the exertion always made to catch the sound of conversation or speech. The general intelligence is unimpaired, if the power of memory which, within the past year or two has weakened somewhat, is excepted.

“Whaur was I born?—In the Broch!” This is her steadfast and ready answer. Two years ago she would have told you she was born in Saltoun Square, in a small building which stood beside the spot where the North of Scotland Bank now stands. Bella Morrison is a true “Brocher,” and after a hundred years’ experience of the old place, even yet her patriotism swells over any little piece of intelligence about the advancement of the town. Her reminiscences of the olden days tend towards showing how steady has been the progress of the town.

Her memory, it has been said, is not so fresh as it once was, but it can still recall outstanding events through the dimness which surrounds objects three-quarters of a century behind her. It was Hugh Miller who said that he could distinctly recall people who had died years before he was born; and so it is with many old people, who, in their early day, had listened again and again to vivid recollections of men and things that were behind them. So far as can be judged, Bella Morrison does not suffer from such delusions. One listens with deep interest to those who speak with the authority of an eye-witness about the state of the country on reception of the news of victory from the Crimea; but how much is the interest deepened when one hears the tale of rejoicing on the reception of the news of Wellington’s glorious triumph over Napoleon at Waterloo and the valour of the old veteran of the House of Philorth. Bella Morrison can still recall the burning of boats and the building of the bonfire at the end of the town when the foot-post brought the good tidings.

But the reminiscences of the centenarian do not often travel so far back over the years. Her memory turns most readily to a period to her less remote, but to most people far behind. The days of the Disruption are to her full of happy memories. A teacher in the Parish Church Sunday School, she came out with the children in 1843, and played the part of a truly earnest devotee of the secession Church of the day. She is full of the story of these times even yet, and looks back with pride on the early struggles of the infant Church.

Bella Morrison has never been married. Up till a few years ago, she industriously wrought for her bread, Early in life she was a general servant, and can yet tell where and with whom she first started life on her own account. Latterly she followed the occupation which her mother pursued, that of a white seamstress, going out by the day or the week to the houses of townspeople and the larger establishments of the gentry in pursuit of her calling. In this capacity she was frequently employed at Philorth House.

Her attic room in High Street is commodious to her wants, and strikes one as being well suited to appearance for the habitation of a centenarian. Ancient and modern are blended there not without harmony. Family relics upon which the lapse of centuries have left their mark, sit cheek by jowl with products of this, the latter end of the nineteenth century. Most interesting of all perhaps is what Bella Morrison regards as a precious heirloom, and which, indeed, the veriest connoisseur would concede was well worth possessing. This is a fine specimen of a sixteenth century arm-chair, which, however, appears to have been made, according to date (1673), towards the end of the seventeenth century. The chair, almost beyond doubt, once sat in the hall of the now ruined Castle of Pitsligo. Its fine carvings would have gratified the well-known taste of the Forbeses, while the arms of the family, carved as a centre-piece in the back, almost make the evidence conclusive. The chair has been handed down to her—by what process Bella Morrison never specified.

Another reminiscence she gives that links the past with the present, is that which recalls her great-grandmother’s story of her having been carrying butter and eggs to Fraserburgh on the day when the mob laid violent hands on the old chapel, when the fittings were burned.

It is truly a pleasant reflection that she feels not want, and that many kind friends minister to her comfort, and bear her company frequently.

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Aberdeen Journal, Tuesday, April 11, 1899.

A WEST HIGHLAND CENTENARIAN,

There lives at Gobsheallach, Ardnamurchan, a woman who may, perhaps, fairly claim to be the oldest in Scotland. Her name is Mary Stewart, and she is in her 106th year, having, according to well-authenticated information, been born in 1793. She is a native of Swordle, in Western Ardnamurchan, where her ancestors for generations held farming possessions. She was never much from home, but was well and widely known in the parish of her birth and the surrounding districts. Her habits have been characteristically plain and simple. So far as can be ascertained, she has never taken a doctor's prescription, and never experienced any serious indisposition. The old lady has quite a fund of pawky humour, and can enjoy or “crack” a joke as few can.

Brimful of Highland folklore, and still retaining a vivid recollection of many stirring events which have now almost come to be regarded as matters of history, she can rehearse stories of the historic and romantic incidents of the past with much fascination and grace. Gaelic, the only language of which she has any knowledge, she speaks with singular idiomatic purity. She enjoys excellent health, and is able to rise daily and take a turn in the open air. Her faculties and senses continue almost unimpaired. Her memory has lost little of its power, her hearing is almost perfect, and her eyesight is so keen that she can with glasses thread a small needle. She never married, and has for years resided with a niece.

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Well, that’s it for the centenarians. Lang did their lum reek, especially the “tough old lady of Coupar Angus”.

All the best,
Alan

SarahND
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Re: CENTENARIANS.

Post by SarahND » Wed Jul 22, 2020 11:26 am

Thanks again, Alan! Thanks to you, I've learned a new word today, "pawky" [cheers] Not sure how I did without it up to now... I'm sure my Scottish ancestors could have told me, but they've been sadly silent recently :?

Best,
Sarah

Anne H
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Re: CENTENARIANS.

Post by Anne H » Wed Jul 22, 2020 11:42 am

Thanks, Alan. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading about all of their lives. Such vivid memories.

[cheers]
Anne

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