What would everyday life have been like for earlier generations of Allanachs?

Many people get into genealogy hoping to find a connection to an illustrious royal ancestor who lived in a palace. I must say, I am completely the opposite! I enjoy finding out about the everyday lives and struggles and about the places they lived and worked.

In addition to the below there is an extensive account of the Upperton fermtoun (clachan) in Glenbuchat here. This includes information on Robert Allanach and his extended family.

Glenbuchat – 1700s

The church in Glenbuchat is somewhat unique in mainland Scotland in maintain the look and feel of a 1700s Kirk.

Strathdon – 1794

The Statistical Account of Strathdon by the Rev John Gordon gives a detailed account of the parish, one of a few selected for inclusion in the Statistical Account of Scotland by Sir John Sinclair. It is useful too as it gives a sense of the depopulation after Culloden, by some 13% between 1755 and 1791. You can read the whole chapter in orginal on Strathdon here.

Glenbuchat – 1795

In The Old Statistical Account of Scotland (1791-99) the Rev. William Spence wrote that in 1795 there were 449 souls in the parish : 229 men and 220 women. ‘The people are sober, and very industrious. There are few that do not make their own ploughs and carts, and also their brouges or shoes’.

Glenbuchat – 1818

From the Glenbuchat Ballads, “Crops sown at Glenbuchat changed little, as Ian Olson recently speculated (38). Seed purchased from Duff House in 1817 and 1818 consisted almost entirely of bear and early oats, the standard corn crops in the region (“Seed lists, Glenbucket,” 1817 and 1818, DHP 1670). A reliance on traditional crops is also reflected in foodways of the time. The local diet was almost entirely vegetarian-even though glen farmers earned most of their money, by raising and selling cattle-hut foods representing new crops, such as turnips and potatoes, were considered “luxury” items (Barclay 45-46).”

“By 18oo, as a wartime conditions settled over Europe, cattle districts like Glenbuchat benefited from the military demand for beet, mutton, leather, and wool. Markets and prices remained strong throughout the Napoleonic Wars, allowing many farmers to feel they were making economic strides without significantly altering their agricultural cultural methods. Unfortunately, it was a fragile prosperity, because additional revenues were not tied to a genuine increase in production, and inevitably, farmers ers were hard hit by the severe postwar depression. In Glenbuchat, its effects were exacerbated, first, by sharp rises in rent that the heritor had instigated in i8o8/oq and again in 1813/14 in an effort to capitalize on the improved circumstances stances of the tenants,`’ and, second, by the effects of hack-to-back crop failures in 1816 and 1817. Few tenants were ruined by the depression but all were affected by it. Even the heritor, who had borrowed heavily against overvalued properties only to he jammed by the inability of tenants to pay their rent, was brought to the verge of bankruptcy by the early 182os. Economic conditions did not fully recover for nearly a decade and a half” Although agricultural methods changed little, the system of landholding underwent considerable reorganization, and the changes had social consequences. quences. Under the Gordon lairds, most Glenbuchat farms operated on a run-rig rig basis, whereby leases, or “tacks,” were held in common by several households clustered together in a “fermtoun” or “clachan.” It was a system that emphasized collaborative production and equitable access to resources, with families pooling labor, implements, and animals, and sharing fields and other resources.4′ The Poll Book shows joint tenancy to have been the norm in Glenbuchat in 1696. Only “Milntoun,” “Dulaks,” and “Torrentoule” were farmed by individual families. lies. Milton was the second most substantial farm in the glen, after the Mains, and the latter two were in the middle section of the glen and may have been relatively new holdings at the time. Other farms were held by between four and ten tenants. Under Duff House management, the run-rig system gradually disappeared. By 18oo, joint occupancy remained somewhat common but not joint cultivation.”

“The new system of landholding, with its emphasis on individual control of property, aggravated disparities in the division of local resources, which in turn became the basis of social divisions as certain farmers and certain families rose to the top. As early as 1788, the Reids, who held relatively minor tacks in 1696, were identified as the dominant farmers in the glen, and by the first decade of the i8oos they controlled a significant portion of the best farmland.;,- Scott would later say of John Reid that he “knows all men and all things here” and even the fourth Earl Fife had apparently nicknamed him “the King” of Glenbuchat.4′ A degree of social stratification had no doubt always existed, but more and more Glenbuchat became structured by a “hierarchy of the soil” (Bitterman; see also Buchan, Ballad and the Folk 182-86). Due. to differences in access to quantity or quality of land, economic and by extension social differences became natural features of life in small, rural, and supposedly homogeneous communities. The run-rig system, for all its shortcomings, had been a leveler for such inequalities. ties.”

“The decades immediately before and after the turn of the century saw the gradual introduction of a modern system of agriculture in Glenbuchat, but it was by no means a smooth transition. Other aspects of life in the parish reveal a similar, equivocal engagement with modernity. The growth of an artisan class and access to manufactured goods imply both regular access to external markets and an agrarian class with expendable income. The Poll Book records only three weavers, a wa[it )lker, a shoemaker, a smith, and a miller in Glenbuchat in 1696, and it century later, William Spence reported that “There are few [tenants] that do not make their own ploughs or carts, and also their brogues or shoes” (OSA 14: 500), suggesting that little had changed in the interim. By 1841, the glen supported tour weavers, three each of wrights, masons, blacksmiths, and tailors, two shoemakers, two “wood manufacturers,” and a miller (GRO, Census; see also Barclay 44-45), but even these numbers are inconsequential compared to a list of Rothiemay artisans in the Old Statistical Account, which shows nearly a hundred individuals engaged in fifteen separate trades (19: 390). What effect, if any, artisans had on domestic production in Glenbuchat is an open question. Yarns continued to he spun locally from both wool and “lint” (flax), and Barclay notes that dyes were also made locally, presumably from crottle (45). Local peat remained the primary source of fuel, and in lieu of lamps or wax candles, poorer tenants used to dig resinous roots and trunks out of peat bogs, cut them into strips and (fry, them to make “fir candles” (W. U. Simpson, “Glenbuchat and Its Castle” 7; Barclay 42). These examples show that tenants continued to draw upon many, of the glen’s natural resources. As for goods purchased outside the glen, there is not much on which to base an assessment. An 1818 list of articles available for rouging from two indebted tenants contains no items that stand out as purchased; a plough valued at 7/ shillings was presumably, homemade.:° Since neither man was a substantial farmer and both were in financial straits, an inventory, of their belongings cannot reflect the full range of articles owned in the glen. It is possible that manufactured goods became more common among those who had the financial resources to purchase them. Living accommodations in Glenbuchat saw only modest improvements by the end of the eighteenth century. According to a precise account of dwellings ings prepared by Mar Lodge factor James Stuart, there were only twelve stone houses in Glenbuchat in 1788, and one tenant had ordered the wooden components nents for a house that he planned to build soon. “The rest,” Stuart wrote, “are generally, very had composed of foal & thatched with divott” (“Answer to the Memoir Sent by The Earl of Fife,” 10 July 1788, 1)11P 1669). Though few in number, stone houses had been built by a broad cross-section of Glenbuchat residents. Affluent farmers, such as the Reids in Milton and Kirkton, had built stone houses, but so had tenants on relatively modest farms, like Dalfrankie, Auchavaich, and Upperton. Conversely, some prominent farms are conspicuously ously absent: Easterbuchat and Blackhillock, for example. On farms held jointly, such as Beltimore, Upperton, and Ballachduie, some tenants had invested in better accommodations while their immediate neighbors had not. Moreover, tenants met with varying degrees of success with stone construction. Stuart notes cases where the houses had “gone to ruin,” “failed,” or the “lime had worn off.” Some apparently were drawn to the ideal of improvement even though they lacked the technical knowledge and skill to do the work properly. Tenants at Netherton and Ballachduie capped stone walls with a few rows of turf, a building technique also found in the Highlands (I. F. Grant 149), which may reflect a combination of traditional and more contemporary construction methods. ods. In its details, Stuart’s report shows the emergent stage of new building technologies in Glenbuchat in the late eighteenth century. Early stone houses retained many traditional features. The turf houses that preceded them were single-storey structures with earthen floors, measuring ten to twelve meters in length by four to five meters in width. The interior consisted sisted of two separate areas: a sleeping area (“but”) and a kitchen (“hen”), which doubled as general living area. Furniture was all that separated one space from the other. Roof framing consisted of several pairs of long, curved pieces of wood called “couples,” which were anchored deeply into the walls and arched up to the peak where they joined to support the main beam or “tree.” As Barclay put it, the interior appeared “framed like a ship, but upside down” (43). Slats strung laterally across the couples provided a bed for the outer roofing material, which consisted of thin slices of turf called “divots.” There were no chimneys; instead smoke escaped through a small boxed opening in the roof, called a “lum.” By some accounts, even these crude dwellings were fairly comfortable (Fenton and Walker 196-204; James Grant 8-u; and B. Walker S-io). Fireplaces and chimneys were introduced in the earliest stone cottages, which were popularly known as “fire houses” as a result. Even then, Barclay claims, the interiors were “blackened by the smoke that not infrequently filled the house to an extent that made the unaccustomed eyes smart.” They remained single-storey structures, with heather-thatched rooves supported by couples. Earthen floors remained common. The chief furniture still included of “a `breast of plenishing,’ a sort of framed wooden partition across the house” and a “bed-closet usually intervened between the kitchen and the room at the other end of the house…. Within the basic form, there were variations in quality and size. In 1827, William and John Chree of Sunnybrae both lived in fire houses, but there were significant differences in their respective dwellings: William’s boasted a wooden floor and may have been as much as So percent larger than John’s, judging by the number of pairs of couples that each had (W. D. Simpson, Book of Glenbuchat 16o-6i). Even among brothers, a general style of construction did not mean uniformity in the glen’s vernacular architecture, although it is instructive to note that even affluent farmers like William Chree lived in fire houses at the time.”

Glenbuchat – 1845

In The Second Statistical Account The Rev. Robert Scott reported the population in 1831 as 539 : 282 men and 257 women. Population was growing, he said, ‘in consequence of the increase of cleanliness of the people, greater attention to children in extreme infancy, vaccination, but, above all, the annihilation of smuggling. The improvements in every respect, since illicit distillation has been happily put down, are truly astonishing…. The people are particularly anxious to have their children educated, and there is not an individual but can read and write’.

Horsforth – 1883

Horsforth in 1883 was a rapidly expanding village on the outskirts of Leeds. Although James Paull Allanach left there for Montana, his family remained, and the video below gives a really good insight into what life would have been like at that time.

Glenbuchat – 1901

Census shows 403 people in Glenbuchat. The Glenbuchat Estate was purchased by James W. Barclay. He was a wealthy businessman and Liberal MP who was deeply interested in agricultural reform. He devoted a large part of his fortune to improving the agricultural economy of the Glen, building and refurbishing the cottages and tradesmen’s houses, and encouraging good farming methods. He also got the name ‘Glenbuchat’ reinstated in place of the common 18th and 19th century usage ‘Glenbucket’. His essay ‘The Glen and its Folk’,written in 1906, is included in The Book of Glenbuchat.(1942). Barclay writes ‘Up to the middle of the 19th century the people lived for the most part in clachans, irregular groups of ten to twenty…houses… built partly of stone with lime and clay and having thatched roofs…The old houses were wretched abodes unfit for human habitation’.

Glenbuchat – 1961

Census shows 138 people in Glenbuchat. Mains electricity reached the Glen.

Glenbuchat – 2001

Census shows 60 people in Glenbuchat, down from a peak of 570 in 1871.


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