Friday, 22 July 2016

A Look at Life in Earlston in the 1860's

  What was life like in Earlston in the 1860's?
 We get a picture from two key sources:
  • "Rutherfurd’s Southern Counties Register and Directory,  containing  much useful and interesting information and very complete lists connected with the Counties of Roxburgh, Berwick and Selkirk", published by Rutherfurd Printers, Kelso in 1866.  

  • The 1861 Census for Earlston Parish" - with information on households, ages, occupations, and birthplace. 
  The 1860's was a significant decade in Earlston history
  • The Commercial Bank of Scotland opened a branch in the village  in 1864. 
  • The Berwickshire Railway from Reston reached  Earlston in 1863 and was extended  to Newtown in 1865,  with the completion of the Leaderfoot Viaduct.
  • The Corn Exchange opened in the Market Square in 1868.

    Earlston's Bank on the right
At a personal level:
  • Even in 1900, the average life expectancy for a man was only 47, and for a woman 50 - figures influenced by the prevalence of disease in crowded cities and the very high rate of infant deaths. The first annual report of the Registrar General for Scotland, published in 1861, reported that the highest proportion of deaths occurred in children under five. 
  • In Earlston Parish  in 1861,  there were 48 residents  in their 70's, 15 in their 60's and 2 aged 90 - a totally elderly population of just 3.5%. 
  • Child employment was a feature of life, as recorded  in the 1861 Census:
    From the age of 11, boys  were agricultural  labourers and girls  domestic servants. Under 14's were also employed as  a cotton winder,  a cotton factory piecer, 
     as workers in a woollen factory, a power loom weaver,  labourers in a timber yard, and as  apprentice s a shoemaker, tailor, and grocer.    

    Rutherfurd's Southern Counties Directory of 1866 
    noted that:
”The population of the parish were 825 who constituted 1399 families.  152 were living in a house with one window, 130 in houses having two windows, leaving 52 who lived in houses with three or more windows.

The principal landed proprietor was the Earl of Haddington,  who possesses two thirds of the rental. 

arlston  possesses one extensive woolen manufactory - the only one in the county  and also produces quantities of the well known Earlston gingham - There is no other place in the  country where the same class of gingham is made.
Earlston itself is remarkably healthy.  It is also thoroughly drained and it has a fine supply of water recently laid down. 
The Edinburgh and Kelso coach road intersects the parish .  This, as well as other roads,   are well kept.  Carriers travel  to Edinburgh and Kelso  and there is a conveyance to Newtown Station every morning and evening. 

Mail arrives 10.40am & 7pm and is collected 6.30am, and 6pm with the promise  that letters are delivered immediately after arrival.  Postmaster is  William Crockett  with David Trotter and David Swanston post runners. 

Few holidays are held.  Fairs are held in June and October for feeding cattle, cows and horses"
The Directory also listed organisations, office bearers and local shops and trades in the village:

Robert Smith was a busy man.  For besides  being a General Merchant,  he was  Inspector of the Poor, Kirk Treasurer, and Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths. 

Daniel Aitkenhead was master of the parochial school, with a roll of 120 and also
Heritors Clerk  and  Session Clerk at the parish church.  

There were 56 residents on the poor roll                      

The entry for the three churches reflected their importance in the local community:
Rev. David Gordon was minister of the Parish Church which had seating for 800.  
Rev. John Ketchie  was minister of the United Presbyterian Church (West) where there were seats for 200.
Rev. Alexander Henderson was minister of the United Presbyterian Church (East) with seating for 400.   

  United Presbyterian Church (East)

The listing of shops and trades showed the range of services available for daily life:

28 Farmers
10 Grocers/general merchants/spirit merchants  
7 Dressmakers,/clothiers/drapers. 
5 Innkeepers  at the Black Bull Inn, Commercial Inn, Newton's Hotel, Temperance Hotel,
and White Swan inn.
3 Carriers, Fleshers/Butchers, and Medical Practitioners
2 Bakers,  Blacksmiths, Cattle Dealers and Joiners.
1 Banker, Bookseller/Stationer/Printer,  Builder, Farrier, Joiner, Mole-catcher, Painter, 
Saddler, Salter, Thatcher, Timber Merchant, Tinsmith, and Watchmaker.


The 1861 Census:
The total population of the parish was given as 1826.  The population of the village of 
Earlston itself  was given as  981 - 444 males and 537 female.  The outlying areas of the 
parish included "the village of Fans", "village and mansion house of Mellerstain", and 
Redpath, with a total rural population of 845 - 284 males and 461 females. 

Some entries catch the eye:

  •       Charles Wilson, Master Manufacturer of Blankets, and Plaidings and Tweeds, employing 28 men and 44 women, boys and young women.
  •       The Manse had eleven  rooms. occupied by the Rev Gordon, his wife, two daughters, a grandson and two servants,
  •       A 68 year old man, described as a retired post boy.  
  •       58 year old  Ann Purves described as a a stay maker(presumably corsets).
  •       59 year old Alexander Mathewson, a lamp lighter.
  •       Francis Brigleman, a 70 year old retired ship master, born in Germany, but lodging in Kidgate, Earlston.
  •       Euphemia Hislip, librarian at the Reading Room. 
  •       Widow Agnes Edmunds aged 73 whose occupation was given as "keeps mangle".
  •       Some sad entries noted  "Idiotic from birth". "imbecile" and "dumb from birth".
  •       The Leslie family, lived  at 20 Main Street in a house with nine rooms Andrew Leslie,  (a master tailor and clothier employing 5 journeymen and three apprentices), his wife, six  daughters aged 1 to 19, a servant and two apprentices.  
  •       But at no. 23 Main Street was the Moffat  family living in two rooms - James Moffat, a master flesher, his wife, two  daughters and four sons, a servant and a visitor - a large household for the space.
  •       Many of the properties,  in the higher numbers 46-98 Main Street, saw families living in only one or two  rooms,  
  •       On Earlston Green in the Open Air  were four men and four women  aged from 6 to 51 - but no other details given apart from one occupation as "hawker of crockery".  Bearing in mind the census was taken 7th April 1861,  they were living in  harsh living conditions.  
  •       In the rural  hinterland of the village, one room accommodation was common for agricultural workers.
  •       Fans was described as a village, with twenty-four households, At East-End was Thomas Frier, described as a "farmer of 2300 acres, employing 24 men and 33 women & boys." A widower, he shared his home with his two sons, two female servants, two shepherds, and a stable boy. 
  •       Mellerstain had thirty-three households listed  ranging from small two room cottages,  to the fifty-four rooms of Mellerstain mansion, occupied on census night only by George and Georgina Baillie Hamilton, the Earl and Countess of Haddington, and four servants.
  •       Carolside Mansion with twenty-three rooms  was home to  William Fairholme and his wife, three  small daughters and seven  servants - a butler, coachman, cook,  lady's maid. two housemaids and an under housemaid aged 15.

  •       Cowdenknows House had twenty rooms rooms, occupied by Robert Cotesworth, his wife, son and daughter-in-law, and seven  servant.   In neighbouring properties lived the head gardener, coachman,  gamekeeper, gatekeeper. farm steward, farmers and ploughman.
  •       Redpath was home to thirty-one households.  Occupations here were more varied and included a blacksmith, a woollen weaver, linen weaver,  stocking knitter, tailor,  seamstress, and mason.

In summary, Earlston was probably very typical 
of village society in mid Victorian Scotland.  

 In Case You Missed:  Click On:
Life in Earlston in the 1790's  

      Life in Earlston in the 1830's
      Life in Earlston in the Late 19th Century

Auld Earlston would be delighted to feature short articles
 from contributors on memories of the village's past.    
Please contact:   

1 comment:

  1. Thomas Frier (1791-1865) farmer at Fans was my relative, son of my g..aunt Agnes Usher and husband of my g..aunt Mary Somner. I can give you more information about this family at Fans if you like. Drop me an email if you want it.


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