Monday, 13 February 2017

Earlston Blacksmiths

Horses are absolutely necessary in this part of the country, for it is by them the farmers labour their farms and drive their corn to market.  They never work with oxen now as they did formerly" - a quote from "The First Statistical Account of Scotland" written 1791-1799.  

Sixty years on,  the 1851 census for Earlston (including Mellerstain and Redpath) lists 9 men working as  blacksmiths, 7 carters/carriers, 3 saddlers, 2  stable boys, an ostler, a farrier, a groom and a coachman - plus of course all those who would be working  with horses on the many farms in the parish.   

The Old Smiddy on the Green 

One of the most prominent families of blacksmiths in the village   were the Brotherstons who worked in Redpath and Earlston down many generations and still man  the  Smiddy  at the East End today.

In the 1851 census for Earlston Parish, 49 year old Andrew Brotherston, blacksmith  was at Redpath with his wife Jessie and five children - Margaret, John, William, Isabella and young Andrew. Ten years on, he was still at Redpath   where in the census,  he was described as a "master blacksmith employing one apprentice".  Andrew senior died in 1867.

John and Andrew followed their father in the family business and by 1881 were working in the East End, Earlston as "smiths and implement  makers".

Slater's Royal National Commercial Directory of 1882 listed three blacksmith businesses in the village:
John Brotherston - also an agricultural implement maker

Robert Lee  - also an agricultural impement maker and engineer
James Wilkie 

By the time of the 1901 census,  John Brotherston    was  at 119 High Street, with his wife Susan and young son James. John was a prominent member of Earlston Horticultural Society,   with his name featuring often in the local press reports as a prize winner at the annual shows.   

The 1903 Directory for the village showed John and  his brother Andrew As blacksmiths.  John died  two years later in December 1905. 

Continuing the family business in their ancestor's smiddy were John's son,   James,   and grandson John.

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