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From George Aitkin to the Reverend John Aitkin nr Arbroath

A very interesting letter from George Aitkin to his brother the Reverend John Aitkin.  A bit of business chat, some salacious gossip and mention of a sick friend.  The weather is described as "foge & rain".

George seems to be a business man, though he could also be a lawyer.  It was not unusual for clergymen to have business interests as well as their living.  I cannot find a info on brother George but there is a mention of a John Aitkin in an article posted on the University of York Archaeology Data Service (see this .pdf document) in connection with the church of St Vigeans at Aberbrothock which wikipedia holds as another name for Arbroath.  There is no Tarry but there is a Tarry Road, Tarry Dykes and there was a Tarry Estate.  I found a copy of print of Tarry Mill and a poem associated with it.

FLOW on, little streamlet ! thou 'rt dearer to me
Than the proudest of rivers that roll to the sea ;
On thy braes, when a bairn, I aften hae played,
On thy banks, when a lover, I aften hae strayed.

llk spot I ken weel, frae the Mill to the Kirk ;
I hae roamed there in sunshine, at gloamin' an' mirk ;
In summer I've pu'd the wee gowans on thy braes,
And slid on thy dam i' the cauld wintry days.

When schule-time was ower, wi' a preen for a hook,
We wad rin up the Den to catch fish i' the brook,
An' turn the big stanes the sma' bandies to chase,
As they, thief-like, wad peep frae their sly hiding-place.

Although sadly changed, ilka spot's dear to me,—
They remind me o' joys I may never mair see ;
An' I hope yet to rest 'neath the green wavy sward,
Where loved ones are sleeping, in St. Vigeans Kirkyard.

Then flow on, sweet streamlet ! thou 'rt dearer to me
Than the proudest of rivers that roll to the sea ;
On thy blithe flowery braes in childhood I've played,
An' when death stills my heart, may I rest 'neath their shade !


I believe that the St Croix where the demented Presbyterian returned from would be the island in the now US Virgin Islands, but then in the ownership of Britain.

Lord Haddo did indeed die in 1791 He died on 2 October 1791 at age 27 in Formartine House, after a fall from his horse.  There was a Lady Murray who was the daughter of Earl of Cromarty  but if it is the same one she was a widow in 1791 and was 66!  (See MacKenzie).

Click on an image to see a scan of the various parts of the letter.


The spelling is as per the letter.   There are a couple of words and phrases that are difficult to read, I have put my guess in braces and included scans of the words.

Edinburgh Oct 10th 1791

Dear Brother

        We did not get to Glasgow till Wednesday Noon & then nothing but foge & Rain the whole day I hope You have felt no bad Consequences from your getting wet. We did not leave Glasgow ‘till Saturday Morning & got here that Night. It rained almost the whole Time we were in Glasgow & last night & this Morning it rained & blew violently but now is sett to fair; if it continues so we propose setting out to Morrow morning. Mr Dundas is to accompany us as far as Morpeth. On my Arrival here I had the Pleasure of receiving your Letter of 5th instant from Mr Milne inclosing one from [Don Humetz] advising me of the safe Arrival of my last Shipment of Sugar for this Crop. I delivered him his Purse, [an empty one indeed] , but I believe he will soon be accommodated with a Purse of another kind which it will [profit] him to fill. You see the Consequences of keeping me at Tarry so long. I asked him about Bells Trunk. He says he sent You the Capt’s. receipt for it to be delivered at the Warehouse at Hull whence it was to go to Wakefield with other Goods destined for that Place so that I hope it is arrived safe before this Time.
Inclos’d you have Gardiners receipt for 13.1.
I am inform’d here by a Gentleman lately arrived from St Croix that James Dewars was to come home in Capt Morey’sVessell on Acct of his Health and what is worse, it is suspected he is deranged in his Understanding, if that should be the Case the main Pillar of the Presbyterian Church in St Croix is gone. You may inform Mr Piat of this. The News here is the unfortunate Death of Lord Haddo & Lady Murray’s Affair with her Doctor they having been found in Bed together by her Son, the consequences of which was the Doctors escaping thro’ the Window in his Shirt & Night Cap and no one can tell what is become of him and the Lady, they say has made away with herself. I understand She is Mother of nine Children and was Daughter to the unhappy Earl of Cromarty & was born in the Tower of London. These are shocking Things and make one shudder to hear them!
I have not been able to do any thing in Regard to Collins heirs Affairs. Taylor remembers drawing the Contract of Marriage and that is all. I have just now been with Tawse |8 oclock PM| who sent for Reid but he was not in town. Tawse gives full Credit to what I & Doctor Shinny told him but as he is imployed by the Exes he must act as they direct him. I shall therefore write by Dr Thinny for notarial Copies of the necessary Papers which I hope will effectively bar all Claims in future on this Business. I am just going to take (s)care of Mr Milare & therefore must conclude with best wishes for your Health & Happiness & Compliments to all friends at Carnegie & Tarry & be assured I always am

            Your affectionate Brother


                                    George Aitken