here - Aberdeen City Council


here - Aberdeen City Council
Account book of William and Robert Ross of Easter Beltie, Kincardine
O'Neil (1683 - 1780)
The Easter Beltie account book was used mostly as a place to note things for
reference and as proof of transactions that had been made by the farm’s
owners. As a result it gives quite a detailed record of the business of the farm,
including many notes of money paid, received, and due to the Ross’s, such
as“An Account of bear [barley] sold of crop 1740
Inpr[imis] to Captain Grant 2 boll[s] 1 firlot p[ai]d 22 [pounds] 10
[shillings]…[£1,941.53p in today’s money]”
(PD5 page 70. Bolls and firlots are old measures for corn and grain etc.; £2210s-0d = about £1,941.53p today)
In December 1703“Ther is resting me be William Davidson of Bannacraig be his bond payable at
mertimess [th]e soume ane hundre[th] [th]irti [th]ree pound six shill[ings] eight
pennis scots of a[nnual]rents proceeding me[r]timess seven/ hundre[th] [and]
[th]ree [th]e soume of twentie two pound scots
[written in different ink] I am payed of William Davidson all that I can cleam
against him any manner of way”
(PD5 page 45. Mertimess = Martinmass, 11 November; £133-6s-8d = about
£801.07p; annual rent = yearly interest; £22 = about £132.43p today)
The Easter Beltie Account book
There are also many notes of employment (or ‘feeing’) agreements made for
hiring farm servants at the end of May and November each year detailing the
monetary fees along with payments to be made in kind -
“Conditioned to Robert Gillespie of fie betwixt Mertimess Jaj vii and twentie
two and Whitsunday Jaj vii and tweentie three seven merks two pair of shoon
ane shirt ane pair of hoas which is payed
And as much for the next half year [written in pencil] which is payed”
(PD5 page 28. Mertimess Jaj vii and twentie two = 11 November 1722;
Whitsunday Jaj vii and tweentie three = 15 May 1723; 1 merk = 14 shillings, 7
merks = about £415.28p today; shoon = shoes; hoas = stockings)
In terms of the more notable matters, the most relevant ones to the writers
were the family life events that were given pride of place at the beginning of
the book. In total, 17 genealogical events are noted, all but one of them in
William Ross’s handwriting, showing that he had 11 children – 7 girls and 4
boys – who are all named alongside their dates and rough times of birth.
There also notes of the marriage of 2 of his daughters, along with notes of
William Ross’s own marriage to his unnamed wife, the death of his father
(also unnamed) and the death of his son William.
Robert Ross, William’s 4th son, wrote the last genealogical entry in the book,
though, which reads “The owner of this book William Ross departed this life
upon the fourteenth day of September 1732 about nine aclock at night of a
Collick being aged 74 years” (PD5 page 4)
Aside from family history, the book was also used to note parish matters, such
as the schoolmaster’s fees for April 1720. The most interesting of these relate
two events in the history of the parish, one of which notes a dispute in the
Church of Kincardine apparently over the Laird of Craigievar’s right to
nominate church ministers without the permission of the Elders and
Congregation in 1682 (PD5 pages 7-8). The other is more serious:
“The Kirk of Kincarden [and] Manse was burnt March 6th 1733 [and] rebuilt
the same year.” (PD5 page 82)
2 other items that can be found in the book are supposed cures for illness.
The first, which is pictured, is a veterinary cure for the quarter-ill, or blackleg, a
disease affecting one of the quarters of sheep or young cattle.
“A Recept for beast that
have taken the Quarter ill, let [the]m not ly
take 2 gills of good whisky
2 litle handfulls of salt
2 litle handfuls of wormwood
Mix them [and] put them over it craig
[and] drive the beast along while [and] let it not ly down”
(PD5 page 68. Recept = prescription; craig = the neck)
The second, for the ‘falling sickness’ (epileptic seizures), involves a curious
mixture of astrology and the consumption of heavy metals, which should not
be tried at home!
“A Successful Remedy for the Falling Sickness
Take one dram of the fine filings of true white metal pewter mix it with a little
conserve of Orange or some sweetmeat: give it to the patient the middle of
the third day before the full of the moon [and] twelve hours before the full as
near as can be known from Astronomical calculation [and] also the midle of
the third day after the full moon. The same Method to be observed with
respect to the change of the said planet. Twelve doses thus given are
generally sufficient to effect a cure. When the Disease invades the same doze
is to be given promiscuously which will have a remarkable effect; but to effect
a cure the full [and] change of the Moon are to be observd.
Presented to the publick by John Tennent. M. D.
London Magazine [November?] 1741”
(PD5 page 80)
The bizarre nature of these remedies in a way makes them the most curious
notes in the book to us today. Combined with the rest of the book though, they
give a very detailed view of the business, events and matters that concerned
Easter Beltie farm and Kincardine O’Neill parish at the beginning of the 18th
century, as well as providing plenty of ‘remarkable things’ for the reader to
think about.

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