We have a contemporary account of life in Earlston in the 1830's written by the local Minister Rev. David William Gordon for "The New Statistical Account of Scotland". This was a project of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, whereby each parish minister was asked to write a chapter on his parish. A similar project had taken place in the 1790's.
The population of the parish was noted as 1710, with Earlston 847, Fans 147, Redpath 114, Mellerstain 202 and the country area 400. There were 357 families in the parish with 136 employed in agriculture.
The chief landowners were George Baillie Esq. of Jerviswood, Dr. James Home of Cowdenknowes, Captain Brown of Park and James Home Esq. of Carolside.
The wages of married farm labourers spanned £25 to £30 per annum. An unmarried male servant in the house received £9-£11, a female about £7. The current wage of women working in the field was 10d per day in summer and 8d in winter, whilst a man received 1s.8d and 1s.6d in winter. The chief kind of stock were Leicester sheep and short horned cattle. Land crops were principally oats, turnips, and barley.
There were two "manufactories" in the village. Miss Whales and Company produced ginghams, merino, shawls, muslins, furniture stripes, and shirtings, All were wrought by hand loom weaving, affording employment to 50 weavers, with additional 16 posts to women and children.
Upwards of 40 were employed at Mr Wilson's "manufactory", where plaidings, blankets and flannels were made. Men earned 12s per week, and children 2s.6d. They worked eleven hours per day and "as yet no bad effect has appeared amongst the health and the morals of the workmen".
[Note: 1 shilling is equivalent to 5p today]
Three schools in the parish included Mellerstain where the teacher received a salary of £5 from Mr Baillie of Mellerstain House; and the parochial school where the teacher's salary was £28. Branches of instruction taught were extensive and spanned "English, reading, grammar, writing, arithmetic, practical mathematics, algebra,geometry, spherical trigonometry. Latin, Greek, and French".
Rev. Gordon noted that
The people are alive to the benefits of education and I know of no family in the village from 6 to 15 years old who have not been taught to read".The Parish Church at this time was undergoing repairs with seating envisaged for 650. The Manse had been built in 1814 and repaired in 1824. The numbers regularly attending the church was 400, and the average collection per year was £22.
|An illustration of the Parish Church, demolished in 1891. |
From the collection of Auld Earlston.
Among other institutions in the village were a subscription library, a Friendly Society for "affording relief to its sick members" and a Saving Bank "for the lower classes of people", with about £100 in it.
34 people were receiving parochial aid, with the average sum paid of 8s per month.
Village benefactors included the \ate Mrs Baillie of Jerviswood who gave £30 for the "more frequent dispensation of our Lord's supper", £284 pounds from Mr Tod of Kirklands and an anonymous donor for the distribution of coal to the poor; and from Mr. J. Wilson, Esq., surgeon of Bombay £600 for the benefit of the parochial school, and £30 for teaching the children of the enrolled poor.
Earlston was served by a Post Office and daily coach in each direction between Edinburgh and Kelso. The principal fuel was coal brought in from Dalkeith some 20miles away at the cost of 1shilling per hundredweight.
For leisure time there were four inns in Earlston and six other houses where ale and spirits were sold.
It was noted that "The climate ,,,,is universally acknowledged to be mild and thus, with a dry atmosphere contributes to bestow upon the people considerable exemption from disease. Scarlet fever has appeared but seldom since 1820."
What was happening around Earlston and the World Outside in the 1830's ?
- IIn the 1830's a new turnpike road was completed - New Road (the present Thorn Street).
- In 1832 Earlston Gas Works was built, with gas street lighting introduced in the village in 1838.
- In 1832 Sir Walter Scott died, buried in Dryburgh Abbey.
- Also in 1832 the newspaper "The Kelso Chronicle" was launched bringing "National, Foreign and Local Intelligence" to its readers.
- William IV was King, with the young 18 year old Queen Victoria to succeed him in 1837.
- 1834 was a turbulent year for government with three Prime Ministers - Lord Grey, Lord Melbourne, and Robert Peel.
- The Scottish Reform Act of 1832 made wide ranging changes in election laws and mirrored a similar act for England and Wales. For the first time it extended the vote to men over 21 years old who met property qualification and increased the electorate from 5000 to 65,000 voters.
- Slavery was abolished in most of the British Empire in an Act of 1832.
- The first inter city rail line opened between Liverpool and Manchester - it was to be another 33 years before the railway arrived in Earlston.
- The first shipment of tea direct from India arrived in Glasgow.
For more information on the Statistical Accounts of Scotland, click HERE