On this week in Scottish history

24th January


East of Fife Record

‘Romantic affair at Aberdeen…About three months ago a beardless, rosy faced young person of some eighteen summers, rigged out in regular jack tar habiliments, made application…to be apprenticed. During the voyage, which was a rough one, the new apprentice behaved himself like a man, doing the regular sailor work, and seemingly to have great pluck for going aloft, and performing duty there with such spirit that older hands were rather astonished. No suspicions as to the real sex of the new arrival were aroused until the vessel arrived at her destination, when the new apprentice turned out to be a female. The young spark bade farewell for a time at least… to the rough work of a sailor, and donned the clothes of her sex. The captain…re-engaged the ‘apprentice’ as stewardess for his ship…left Malaga and arrived here a day or two ago. The new apprentice is a stoutly built female and as her hair is not very long, she has a thorough masculine appearance. We hear that the female will give no reason for the foolish freak.’

1867, Livingstone reached the Chambezi River, source of the Congo. 76 AD Publius Aelius Hardianus born; he was to build Hadrian’s Wall;  1890,  first train over the Forth Bridge


25 January

1759; Robert Burns born. He was to become Scotland’s best known poet and an international icon. His best remembered works include To a Mountain Daisy, To a Haggis and Auld Lang Syne, which is sung all over the world on Hogmany. However, perhaps his best lines are: ‘For a’ that and a’ that, a man’s a man for a’ that.’ He wrote in the ordinary language of Scotland and as such is recognisable throughout the world. He is celebrated on the day of his birth.

1815, execution of two highwaymen at Braid Burn in Edinburgh, last hanging for highway robbery to take place in Scotland, robbers were Kelly and O’Neill 1817 first copy of the Scotsman published. The prospectus had been issued on 30th November. Priced at 10d each, the cost included a government stamp of 4d per copy. 1934 car ferries Queen Margaret and Robert the Bruce launched at Denny’s for the Forth. They were built to a new double-ended design so that cars could drive on and off.


26 January

1869;:1869 George Douglas Brown born in Ochiltree, Ayrshire. Writing as George Douglas, he is best remembered for his realistic novel of Scottish life, The House with the Green Shutters.

1810: Inverness Journal reported that a ‘theatrical company’ visited the town, drawing ‘large audiences.’ 1860 time gun at Edinburgh Castle first fired by ‘electrical arrangement’ 1878, Kilpatrick McMillam, inventor of the bicycle died; 1908, 1st Glasgow Scout Troop registered first to be formed
27 January

1832 Cholera in Scotland. The disease was to kill 4000 in Glasgow alone.  The worst affected can die within a few hours, and if untreated, around 60% of people affected could die. Nobody knew what caused cholera; eye-witnesses reported seeing it descend upon Dumfries in the shape of a black cloud.

Cholera spread through human contact or contaminated food or water and affected rich and poor alike. Local Boards of Health were created, new burial grounds created and some people demanded better water and better lit suburbs. The dead were often tipped into a cholera pit without a Christian burial. Victorians were probably more frightened of cholera than of any other epidemic. Glasgow was first to fight back with the 1855 Water-Works Act that brought clean water from Loch Katrine. When cholera struck in 1865 only 53 Glaswegians died. Glasgow corporation also limited the number of people allowed to use lodging houses, created fever hospitals and public baths, wash houses and a municipal laundry. Other cities copied Glasgow’s lead, but the fear of cholera encouraged the middle classes to flee the city centres for the suburbs.

1783: Glasgow Herald first published, the longest continuously published daily paper in Britain; 1926, first public demonstration of TV by John  Logie Baird


 28 January

1829  William Burke hanged in front of cheering Edinburgh crowd for murdering up to thirty people and selling the bodies to Dr Knox for dissecting.  The following day his body was displayed at the medical college, where thousands visited to see him, and was later dissected and the pieces put into jars of pickle. A portion of his skin was tanned.

1582 John Barclay, romantic poet born; 1689, convention parliament declared the throne of Great Britain empty, effectively deposing James VII, 1708, storm scatters wrecks of Dutch emigrant fleet on Angus coast; 1918, armed trawlers W.S. Bailey and Fort George sink German submarine Ub-63 in Firth of Forth; 1962 foundation of Scottish opera; 1908, Jimmy Shand, Scottish country dance band leader, born

About malcolmarchibald

Happily married for 34 years to Cathy, I have three grown children and live in the depths of Moray in northern Scotland. I was educated in Edinburgh and Dundee and work as a lecturer in Inverness, while writing historical books, both fiction and fact.
This entry was posted in Burke and Hare, children, crime, Crime; History, Edinburgh, Emigration, First World War, fishing, Glasgow,, Historical Crime, history, Immigration, life experiences, literature, maritime, murder, Scotland, Shipping, Uncategorized, War and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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