Some family history

John Stirling was my maternal grandmother's father, and a printer in the small Scottish town of Bathgate. He was also a Mason, and once gave a talk to his Lodge brethren on some of the unwritten history of Bathgate.

He was persuaded (with little difficulty I imagine) to transcribe his talk in the form of a booklet, and printed about a dozen copies for each of the family members living at that time. This transcription was also abridged (removing the Masonic references) and published in the local Bathgate newspaper some years after his death. I received my grandmother's copy from her while she was still alive.

It transpired that my grandmother who had been a child at the time of writing the booklet was also my great-grandfather's proofreader, but for various reasons had not completely finished proofing the booklet before it had to be put to press. So, as a tribute to both my grandmother and great-grandfather, I took it on myself to finish what they had started. I re-typed and re-set the booklet myself, and finished the proofreading task, fixing the few small outstanding errors. Although I did this on a modern computerised typesetting program (TEX), the layout and style is almost identical to the original, with the small exception that modern line filling and justification algorithms make it look more appealing and also allowed me to tweak the printing to fit exactly 32 pages, something that I hope my great-grandfather the printer would have appreciated. If some of the punctuation or typesetting style seems strange or wrong to you, I can assure you it is not an artifact of TEX nor of my typesetting, but an attempt to render the original as faithfully as possible. Although this was originally set in the late 20's, my great-grandfather's typesetting conventions were those of the mid to late Victorian era when he learned his craft. True to that era I have preserved his original spellings even when some of them (such as Armoury) appear definitely wrong today.

Here it is: the best way to read A Bit of Old Bathgate is as a PDF file.

Copy the TeX source if you want it, or print directly from the PostScript file. You may need to right-click both of these in order to save them to disk. For the technologically impaired (and the benefit of search engines everywhere) I include below a very crude approximation to the original as HTML. I'll try to improve the layout of this as my HTML skills improve. This is a conversion from the PostScript output using ps2html (a woefully inadequate tool which required much manual correction).

-- Graham Toal

P.S. I am not a Mason and am neither able nor willing to answer Masonic questions about the Torphichen-Kilwinning Lodge.


By John Stirling

A Bit Of Old Bathgate.

  At the regular meeting of The Lodge of
Torphichen-Kilwinning. No. 13, held in the Temple, Jarvey Street,
Bathgate, on Tuesday, 15th February, 1927, Bro. John
Stirling, Secretary, delivered a lecture entitled "A Bit of
Old Bathgate & some of its Worthies." There was a large
attendance of the Brethren, presided over by Bro. T.K.
Irvine, R.W.M. The lecturer dealt principally with Jarvey
Street, Main Street, The Hill, Cochrane Street, and High
Street, bringing under review a number of "old characters"
who lived, moved, and had their being in these areas.
Bro. Stirling said --

Right Worshipful Master, Wardens and Brethren,
  In acceding to the repeated demands of the Right Worshipful
Master to give a few reminiscences of Bathgate, I
have at last with much reluctance complied. I have decided
to entitle my subject -- "A Bit of Old Bathgate. Some of
its Worthies and Associations." Anything of a historical or
antiquarian nature is always considered "a dry affair," but
I shall endeavour to make what I have to say as bright and
cheerful and as entertaining as possible.
  At the outset, I may almost say that the place whereon
we stand is holy ground, this Temple having been built
on the site of the old Hopetoun Lodge, No. 181. My
grandfather was the Worthy Tyler of this Lodge, and as
a boy I had free access thereto. It was from his lips that
I learned how "Auld Skyte for Skyte" acquired his nickname.
There had been a quarrel in Jarvey Street, and the
accused men were being tried in Linlithgow. The Sheriff
requested the witness to state what he knew of the case,
when the witness replied -- "The tain gaed the tain a skyte,
and the tither gaed the tither a skyte, and they skytted awa'
at yin anither till they skytted yin anither doon," a reply
which created great laughter.
  One of my oldest recollections in connection with
the old Lodge is when my aunt got married to Kenneth
Mc Kenzie, a glass engraver in the old Bathgate Glass
Works. He was considered an expert of his art, and I have
reason to believe that the beautiful decanters which adorn
the Master's table on Harmony nights, and presented to the
Auld 13 by Bro. William F. Davidson, P.M., were examples
of his handicraft.

Where Cavalry was Housed.

  I shall not attempt to give you a description of this
beautiful Temple -- a brief sketch of which appears in the
Bye laws of the Lodge -- but will ask you, in imagination,
to accompany me in a brief pilgrimage to the various places
I intend to mention. We leave the Temple and proceed to
the end of Jarvey Street, where, until recently, the National
Bank had its Offices. This in my young days was occupied
as a hotel. It was here where the cavalry regiments, when
shifting from one barracks to another arrived when on the
march. The officers were billeted in the hotel, and their
horses were stabled behind, the troop being dispersed and
billeted in different parts of the town. They "fell in" opposite
the hotel next morning, and it was a great treat for
the boys to see them depart. One of the finest sights I ever
witnessed in this connection was when the Dragoons were
coming in the Muir Road, on a bright summer afternoon,
the sun shining on the brass helmets made them glitter like
a sheet of gold, the mounted band playing a march in which
was incorporated the tunes "Auld Robin Gray" and "My
Love she's but a Lassie yet." It made one feel they'd like
tae gang and be a sodger. We had visits at different times
from the Inniskilling Dragoons, the Lancers, the Hussars,
and Scots Greys -- Bro. Thomas Shanks, of Auld 13, being
a Sergeant in the latter.

  We will now cross the street to The Old Curiosity
Shop, presently occupied by a "far famed and well known"
printer (Bro. Stirling) -- the favourite haunt of a large
number of members of the Craft, where many jokes are
told and cracked in the "works" (back shop). This was at
one time a chemist's shop, occupied by Mr Stuart Brown,
whose son quite recently purchased the estate of Cathlaw.
He laid the foundation of his fortune in the wee shop in
Jarvey Street. Methinks I hear someone say -- There are
still fortunes being made in that queer auld farrant place.

  Next door, at one time, was housed the Volunteer
Armoury. It was here where I took the "Queen's Shilling,"
some four decades ago. The drill instructor's name was
Nathaniel, his by name being "Old Nat." He was a member
of the old school and one of the finest instructors in the
Volunteer movement. I am pleased to say we have two of
his grandchildren present to night -- Brothers Thomas and
Peter Nathaniel.

  The shop now occupied as an Italian store was the
business premises of the late Bro. Alexander Davidson,
plumber and tinsmith; he was the worthy Secretary of this
Lodge for many years.

  Proceeding along Jarvey Street, we come to the Corn
Exchange. The Bathgate Market was held here, horses and
carts lining the street from the Bunker (Brown's Square)
right along to Bryson's Market Inn at Mid Street Corner.
The cereals were sold in the Corn Exchange. It was here
also that the farm servants were hired.

  In what was known as the New Kirkyaird, adjacent to
the present Parish Church, lies the body of Geordie Puddin',
the Bathgate gaberlunzie -- a most notorious character.
The gravestone was erected by J. Calder, builder, and
paid for by Thomas Durham Weir of Boghead House.

  The house presently occupied by Bro. R.T. Arbuckle,
dentist, was the National Bank premises before being transferred
to the other end of the street. John Johnston was
the Bank Agent; he also carried on a licensed grocer's shop
here, and farmed the farm of Ballencrieff -- "the east side
of the burn."

  On the opposite side of the street, where the Coöperative
Buildings now stand was the Hopetoun Inn and
hiring establishment, which at a later date was occupied
by Dr Corbett, who is credited with having called on John
Newlands while on a visit to Jamaica and suggested to him
to remember his native town in his will. Dr Corbett was a
R.W.M. of Hopetoun Lodge, No. 181. The Little Advocate
(Bro. James Gardner), resided here for a number of years.
  Jack Robertson, the auld cobbler, lived next door in a
two storey thatched house, which was nearly set on fire at
a Municipal Election, by a "paraffin ball" alighting on the
roof. Luckily, the fire was put out before it got a firm hold.
  In those days the voting took place in the Corn Exchange,
the inhabitants turning out in hundreds to await
the result. The victorious candidates were carried shoulder
high to the nearest public house, where they had to do the
"handsome." The public houses did not close till 11 p.m.
  Turning into Main Street, we pass what was the residence
of auld Jock Murray, nick named the Polar Bear.
It was a three storey tenement, known as the Blue Tower,
deriving its name from the fact that it was the first house
in Bathgate to be roofed with blue slates. Passing up
Market Street we arrive at the Hill, where stood the Jail, in
which was accommodated from time to time such worthies
as Singing Jim, the Rolling Eye, Chic Chic, Katie Fuff,
Dumbarton Jock, the Whale, Hen Jock Bird, and Geordie
  Later Characters in the locality were Bobby Blue,
Pipes o' Rory, Tidy Fa-lal, Sally Sharky, Nanny Douce, Rab
Tickler, Stulty Donal', the Pitcher, the Weasel, the Hoolet,
the Rat, the Stoup, Bobkin, Molly Greens, the Jingler, Gad
Wull, and Susy Dunbar.

  Jock Bird and Geordie Puddin' were locked up on one
occasion at the same time, having quarrelled as to who was
to be boss at the digging of a drain.

  They hadna been lang at their wark,
  No o'er an hour or twa,
  Till there arose as wild a shine
  As mortal ever saw.
  Wha wad be maister coost them oot,
  Which spoil'd a' wark thegither;
  As Puddin' flung a sholfu' up,
  The Bird flung doon anither.
  Jock made a spring at Puddin's throat
  Wi' firm, determined grip,
  And savage, savage was the fecht
  Till Pillans locked them up.
  An' a' that day, an' a' that nicht,
  The Hill was kept in steer,
  For when they werena singin' psalms
  They baith fell tae sweer.

The Jail was latterly occupied as a storage for the
scavengers' besoms and clauts. It is now one of those open
spaces which Bro. Irvine is so anxious to get established
throughout the town, swings having been erected for the

Alexander Marjoribanks.

  To the right, some three or four hundred yards distant,
stands the beautiful ancestral home of the Marjoribanks',
designed by the Bros. Adams, famous world wide known
architects. Early in the 18th century the estate of Bathgate
passed from the House of Hopetoun to that of Marjoribanks.
To Alexander Marjoribanks the people of Bathgate
owe a deep debt of gratitude. He insisted on contesting
the will of John Newlands against his heirs, who wanted
the will set aside, and he gave a guarantee that he would
bear the expense of the litigation. The case was fought in
the Court of Session, and decided in favour of the town.
It is said that the amount of money left was over $60,000,
but after expenses had been paid there was only $15,000,
which went towards the building of the present Academy,
the $15,000 being only the interest on the principal for ten
  Mr Marjoribanks was a very generous gentleman, was
known as "the good old laird," was a good friend to Bathgate,
was elected the first Provost of the town, and deserves
to be ever held in grateful memory. His grandson is at
present the minister of Stenton, Prestonkirk parish, who is
in possession of his grandfather's pruning knife, a relic of
bygone days. The family are also in possession of numerous
oil paintings and Biblical engravings which at one time
adorned the walls of Balbardie House. It is a great pity that
the estate passed out of possession of the Marjoribanks.

John Newlands.

  About twenty yards to the right of the old Jail is the
site of the house where was born John Newlands, founder
of Bathgate Academy. The history of his going to Jamaica,
making a fortune, leaving same for the education of the
people of Bathgate is well known. He was born on 17th
April, 1737 -- that is the recognised date, although there
has always been some doubt about it -- in fact, it has now
been proved that that was the baptismal date. The house
was long occupied as a joiner's shop by John Boag.

Sir James Young Simpson.

  About the same distance to the left from where we
stand is the birthplace of Sir James Young Simpson, the
discoverer of chloroform, who was born on 17th June 1811.
His father was a baker, and his mother a good pious woman,
endowed with a vast amount of common sense. One day (as
a boy) when the future Professor came into the house, with
a big hole in the heel of his stocking, she took him on her
knee and darned the stocking, remarking -- "My Jamie,
when your mother's awa', you'll remember that she was a
gran' darner." At school he was of a steerin' disposition,
and was possessed of a remarkable memory; before and
after school hours he had to go to the baker's "brod"
dispensing "baps" and scones to his father's customers. I
will not trace his university career, which was paid for by his
sister and brothers clubbing together. In 1832 he graduated
as M.D., and was appointed to the Chair of Midwifery in

  The great discovery of chloroform was made in the
year 1847, and was hailed with acclamation and enthusiasm
throughout the world. He died at Queen Street, Edinburgh,
on 6th May, 1870, in his 59th year, and never was man
more lamented by all ranks and classes of society. He was
buried on the southern slopes of Warriston Cemetery, the
spectators being estimated at over 100,000. His funeral
was a great and solemn ovation. The family were offered
a burial place in Westminster, but they wisely decided
to bury him in the city where he laboured with so much
acceptance. If ever man was a friend of the poor -- that
man was Sir James Young Simpson.
  I have mentioned the names of three gentlemen -- in
fact, I may say three great philanthropists -- two of whom
done a great deal for Bathgate, and one of them inestimable
good to mankind; still, Bathgate has not yet seen its way
to erect a memorial in memory of any of them. So passeth
away all earthly glory.
  Proceeding down Main Street we pass the Tontine
Close, and the once famous Collogie -- in which was a place
where the "three balls" held sway -- you all know what that
means. It was here that Wallace made his "ha'penny dips,"
the workers being known by the nick name of "cracklins."
We also pass three public houses in close proximity -- some
twenty yards separating them. In one of them, occupied by
Mey Fyfe, auld Gad Wull and his son were in "killin' their
craw." The son ordered a quart of half and half. Auld
Gad asked -- "What's that ye've ca'd, George?" "Beer,
faither," said George. "O man, ye shouldna ca'd that;
there's nae maut in't," quoth the father. Charlie Morrison's
bake house, shop and dwelling house stood at the right
hand bottom of Main Street.

Dragoons and the Minister.

  At the foot of the hill stood the Auld Kirk. A great
dispute took place here at the ordination of a minister, in
1717, against the wishes of the people. This is best told in
the following extract :-
  "The ministers serving the edict, knowing the badness
of their cause, and the evil part they were acting, thought
not fit to do it until they got a troop of Dragoons to
be a guard to them, and accordingly on 17th November
1717, being approaching the town, they caused beat their
drums, and draw their swords, and in this position came
through the town, guarding the ministers into the church,
riding and striking with their naked swords, at the women
and others standing gazing upon the wayside, which was
a melancholy Sabbath in Bathgate, the Sabbath day being
much profaned."
  The Kirk stood then doon at the Hill,
  And stands unto this day;
  For lang it was a whisky shop,
  And roarin' trade did dae.
  An' awfu' rumpus here occurred
  At placin' of a curate,
  Which fired their Presbyterian bluid,
  And made them quite infuriate.
  They took their cue frae Giles's Kirk,
  And famous Jenny Geddes;
  The curate, fley'd, ran up the Style,
  Pursued by wives and laddies.
  A captain wi' a troop of horse
  Was posted no far by,
  Wha gave command tae charge the crowd
  That on the Hill did lie
  In the melee a horseman fell,
  And ither twa were wounded;
  While maister curate fled the toon,
  The cure ower hot he found it.

  The church property was long in the possession of
Mr Hume Chalmers. A cut from the sabre of one of the
Dragoons was long to be seen upon the door. Tradition
points out a tombstone within the old ruin of the Auld
Kirkyaird, bearing a large sword, said to be the tombstone
of the Dragoon who was killed in the melee. The Guard
House, in which some of the Dragoons were stationed, still
stands at the corner of Dykehead Lane, and is known as
the Guard House to this day. Happily we now live in much
different and happier times.

Professor Diney.

We shall now descend Cochrane Street, passing Whippergigg
Wynd and Kamehead, till we come to the house of
Sandy Christie, one of Bathgate's most famous curlers, who
kept a licensed grocer's shop. He was succeeded by John
Forrest ("Jock Purr"), who for the long period of close on
thirty years acted as Treasurer to the Bathgate Academy
Procession. In this property resided Alexander Hamilton,
a famous barber -- alias Professor Diney. The Professor,
in addition to being a master in the tonsorial art, was a
keen draughts player, and it was difficult to snatch a game
from him.
  The late Bro. Dr Kirk related the following story to
me :- Wyllie, the "Herd Laddie," champion draughts player
of the world, was on a visit to Bathgate, and residing with
the late Bro. Dr Kirk's father. The old Doctor had a visit
to make at Avonbridge, and on the way he called at Diney's
and left the Herd Laddie till his return. After a short
conference, Diney asked the Herd Laddie if he would like a
game at the draughts. The champion said he would; he had
tried his hand at the game but was not much of a player.
Diney won the first three games, and was in ecstasies. The
Herd Laddie won the next six games in succession, when
Diney, exasperated, jumped from his seat and declared that
"he was either the Herd Laddie or the deil himsel'." The
Professor shaved for a penny, and had the following names
for his razors :- Meadow Queen, Scotland Yet, Honey Bee,
Rattlesnake, and the Rasper.
  After all, there was nothing wonderful in Diney shaving
for a penny. I myself have had many shaves for a penny
by Jock Newlands, who resided in Hopetoun Street. I
remember on one occasion, my wife having had a long
illness, Jock, out of stark love and kindness, having shaved
me I proffered the customary penny he said -- "Nevell mind,
John, ye've had a lot tae dae the noo; keep ye'll penny."
The following verses are by Poet Shanks :-
  Half way betwixt the Prison Hill,
  And what was yince the Bathgate Mill,
  There lived -- nay, there is living still,
  The great Professor Diney.
  A spotless apron, pure and white,
  Hangs gaily owre his gurdy kyte,
  In sark sleeves, morning, noon and night,
  Goes great Professor Diney.
  Wi' blandest smile and easy grace,
  He tak's the handle o' your face;
  The king o' a' the barber race
  Is great Professor Diney.
  Syne what a loving way he's got
  O' lingering about ones throat;
  Ye Gods! if drunk, or mad, what not,
  Might do Professor Diney.
  For stylish cut, and quick dispatch,
  In Scotland braid there's not his match;
  And who a game at draughts can snatch
  From great Professor Diney.

  We will now retrace our steps up Cochrane Street and
Main Street
, till we reach the Cross Keys public house,
now occupied by Mr Webster as a confectioner's shop.
Next door to this was the baker's shop of Bailie Alexander
Russell; it is now occupied as a private dwelling. Bailie
Russell served in the Town Council for the period of 35
years. We now reach :-

The Sun Inn.

  On the 25th January 1892, there passed away in the
old "Railway Inn," James Bowie, who for 90 years, had
passed his days and nights under its roof. The house
belonged to his father, and in his time was called "The
Sun Inn," a flaming representation of which was placed
over the door, with the legend or motto underneath --
"The best whisky under the sun." It must have been good
and pure, for Dr Kirk (the late Bro. Kirk's father) always
recommended his patients, when prescribing spirits, to go
to James Bowie's. He was rarely called by his baptismal
name, but as "Provost Bowie."

Provost Before he was Born.

  The origin of the title given to him was thus :-
Previous to the erection of Bathgate into a Burgh, Tom Dick,
afterwards Town Clerk, and the Laird of Marjoribanks and
Balbardie (of sainted memory) were in the "Sun Inn
discussing the prospects of securing from Parliament the much
coveted Act. Mr Marjoribanks said, "I think, Mr Dick, if
we secure the Act from Parliament, that we might, with
great propriety, make the next son born to Mr Bowie our
first Provost." "Agreed, Laird, agreed," said Tom Dick.
When a son was born to the host of the "Sun Inn," Mr Dick
hastened over to "the big hoose" and requested the Laird
to come and see Bathgate's first Provost.
  That was the origin of the title, and Bowie used to
say, "I was made a Provost before I was born." In addition
to carrying on the Inn, he wrought fields near the farm of
Hardhill. He always wore a satin or "lum" hat, and visited
the fields in that garb.
  A lover of dumb animals, he had a number of cats and
dogs; he also had in his possession a monkey which was a
gifted character. It was known as "Batty Bowie's Puggy,"
and it is said that the monkey used to get hold of one of
the cats, plunge its paws into hot soup, in search of a bone
for his satanic majesty -- a sure way of preserving his own
skin. The puggy as it grew older showed signs of a ferocious
nature, and was presented to the Edinburgh Zoological
Gardens, much to the relief of the maids, cats and dogs,
at whom he was continually snapping. Years after when
Bowie paid a visit to the Gardens he observed a cage with
a warning notice for visitors to keep back, as the monkey
was dangerous. Notwithstanding the warning of the keeper
the Provost entered the cage, when the monkey recognised
his old master and went wild with joy. Amongst his other
favourites was a long legged black and white "soo," and a
"wee timorous beastie" which he fed daily. His horses were
named Rachin, Dobbie, Haddington Horse, and the Priest.
  Bowie was a keen Freemason, and was a member of
"Auld 13" for the long period of 63 years. The toddy
tumblers at that time were rather narrow at the bottom,
and were frequently capsized. At the instrumentation of
Bro. Bowie several dozens much broader bottomed tumblers
were secured -- the only remaining one left in 1892
was in possession of the proprietor of "Ye Howff," Bro.
James Wallace, a small chip off the edge being the only
damage it had sustained during the wonderful occasions
when the Brethren were called from "Labour to Refreshment."
  The "Provost" was possessed of remarkable eyesight,
and one of his accomplishments was that he could write
the Lord's Prayer on a space which a sixpenny piece would
cover, and so good was his eyesight and so steady his hand
that he performed this feat a few months before his death.

A Relic of Prince Charlie.

  The "Provost's" mother was the possessor of a precious
relic of Prince Charlie, in the shape of a set of Royal
Stuart Tartan Curtains, which adorned the bed on which
the Prince slept, on the night in which he passed in the
old Deans mansion. They were purchased by Mrs Bowie
at the plenishing sale of the old mansion house, and they
adorned two beds in an upstairs room of the Railway Inn
for many years. One set was mutilated by parties cutting
off portions as mementoes of the unfortunate Prince; £5
was offered for the other set, but refused.

  One of the retainers of the Cross Keys and Railway
Inn was Jock Shirra. For over forty years Jock assisted in
dispensing pies and drams -- a special treat on the Fair
days; latterly, when the tall and buirdly frame of Jock
began to bend, he told his old employer that he was not
"soople eneugh," but the "Provost" and his customers had
been so long accustomed to the cheery and good humoured
countenance of Jock that he was urged to "come aboot the
hoose for luck's sake," and sit by the "fire en';" and so to
the end he was always a welcome visitor at the auld thack

The Bunker.

  On entering Brown's Square (the Bunker), we find
Mary Cherry, Bathgate's first and only lady carter; Mary
was a hard working woman, and carted coals from Balbardie Mine
to her various customers throughout the town.
There also resided here Bee Rab, San Ponder and his cuddy,
Jamie Kirkland and his cuddy, and "Coachy" Alexander,
ostler to Batty Bowie.
  The Bunker was once the gathering ground of the
travelling shows -- "penny gaffs" and shooting saloons, and
was a favourite resort of the travelling acrobat. I have seen
Old Malabar, a famous Glasgow character, perform here
many times. The principal feature of his show was to throw
a cricket ball as far up in the air as he could and catch it
in a cup attached to his forehead, a feat in which he never
  Delaney, "Orr's long clown," also had his outside show
here. His principal feat was to stand on a horse's bare
back -- the horse galloping round the ring -- and throw off
waistcoat after waistcoat; it was generally considered that
he had over two dozen waistcoats on. He died in Broxburn,
and it is good to relate that he had a good friend there in
the person of Bro. Norman Henderson, who was a native of
Bathgate, and managing director of Broxburn Oil Company
from its inception till his death.

That's Him -- That's Starkie.

  We shall now ascend High Street, known in the olden
days as "Shuttle Row," passing on the way the abode of
Dr Kirk; the house occupied by Dominie Macgregor, who
taught a day school at "Kallifat" and a night school in
the old Masonic Lodge, Gideon Street; also the houses
occupied by Thomas Dodds, solicitor, Dr Dickson and Dr
Longmuir -- now occupied by Bro. James A. Pow, the
respected treasurer of this Lodge. We arrive opposite the
abode of "Starkie," the next house being occupied by the
"Apostle" Fleming.
  As up high Bathgate street ye spiel,
  An' fore a wee snug theekit biel,
  You spy a queer auld farrant chiel,
  Stript tae the sarkie,
  An' borin' pump wi' cautious skeel --
  That's him -- that's Starkie

John Stark, the far famed and well known "Starkie," passed
peacefully away 'mid the gloom of a December morning in
the year 1882. Possessed of a kindly, cheery and obliging
disposition, he was always ready to lend a helping hand
to any scheme intended for the benefit or welfare of neighbours.
He was never so thoroughly in his element as when
sitting at the head of his plain, yet substantially loaded
table, dispensing haggis and beef and greens, interspersed
with "willie wauchts" from his stoneware bottle. He was a
first class maker of peeries, boys coming from all parts of
the town for one of Starkie's "wummers."
  A great and intense admirer of our National Bard, he
always celebrated, along with a few kindred spirits, the
Poet's natal day, when he left pumps and peeries, wash tubs
and spinning wheels, to take care of themselves. "The Immortal
Memory" was always proposed by Mine Host, and
never in any gathering was it drank with more enthusiasm.
As the night wore on, assisted by John Barleycorn, they
sung lustily "The cock may craw, the day may daw," and
"Auld Lang Syne" time about. I am creditably informed
that the king of the song was auld Starkie, he being the
last to fa' beneath the table. Tom Anderson, the joiner,
was always present at the Burns splores, and the event is
immortalized thus by the Blind Poet of the Deans --

  When Joiner Tam and he foregather,
  A kindred spirit -- sic anither --
  They'll sit far on for days thegither,
  O'er glass hobnobbin';
  Their tongues it wad be vain to tether
  When loosed on Robin.
  These twin enthusiasts agree
  That Robin fairly taps the tree;
  A' ither bards maun bow the knee
  When Robin sings;
  He is, and ever more shall be,
  The King o' Kings.

  A great Academy Procession enthusiast, his house
(which was a thatched one) was always decked on Procession
day with nick nacks of all conceivable kinds, among
them being a model of "Burns at the Plough," and "Jenny
at her Spinning Wheel," both of which were made by
Starkie. He had a piece of calico about 3ft. square, which
he never failed to hang out, with the verse printed thereon
from Burns' Address to the Brethren of St. James' Lodge,

  A last request permit me here,
  When yearly ye' assemble a';
  One round -- I ask it wi' a tear --
  Tae him, the Bard that's far awa'.

The two following verses are by Bro. Robert Fleming --

  Oor Burns enthusiasts will greet,
  When they reca' the oors sae sweet,
  That they did spend when a' did meet,
  Tae weet their craggies,
  And fill their wames at Starkie's fete
  Wi' famous haggis.
  His guns and pistols, jugs and skulls,
  His dirks and swurds, an' auld snuff mulls,
  His picture books an' ancient quills,
  His nick nacks a',
  May a' be scattered tae the hills
  Sin' Stark's awa'.

I conclude my remarks on Starkie by quoting the undernoted
verses from "The Auld Bathgate Worthies" --

  Noo gane is auld Starkie,
  His nick nacks and larkie,
  Tae whiten and moulder
  In cauld, wormy clay;
  The bairnies, a' bleerie,
  Nae mair dose their peerie,
  The auld Bathgate worthies
  Are a' wede away.
  Farewell for ever, Starkie!
  Perhaps thy wee bit larkie
  To thee in ither realms
  Pours out its lay;
  Thy link has burst at last
  That bound us to the past --
  The auld Bathgate worthies
  Are a' wede away.

  I do not intend to go any further with you at this time,
but will take you down to the corner of Gideon Street, and
leave you in "Ye Howff," presently occupied by Bro. Tom
Wallace -- the meeting place of the once famous Breeches
Club. a subject for a paper by itself. The only remaining
member of that one time popular and select Literary
Society is Bro. Robert Waddell, the worthy Bible Bearer
of Auld Thirteen. Let me here introduce you to an old
Bathgate worthy --

James Thornton, the Drummer.

  In June 1892, the grave closed over one of Bathgate's
well known characters -- James Thornton, better known as
"Pousless." Jims was a wiry wee body, and active. He was
all out for peace, and woe betide the boys he caught turning
on taps at wells, running away the water; he generally
cuffed their ears and afterwards said "It's a pelfeck disglace
that a pack o' scoondlels should be allowed to pack the
tholofale," and told them that he would hand them owre
by, viz, the Police Office. He was a regular attender at
the Burgh Court, and nothing pleased him better than
when a severe sentence was imposed. Jims, for well nigh
half a century, with his "dlum" ushered in the Procession
morning playing "Fire in the mountains, rin boys rin,"
or "The British Grenadiers," his two favourite tunes. It
was a common thing for boys in those days to be up on
Procession Day any time between three and five o'clock
in the morning. "Pousless' was in the habit of attending
the slaughter house. One day he got a pudding filled with
blood, and rolled it round his neck. He went home and
asked his mother for a penny, stating that if she refused he
would cut his "thloat," which he did, falling on the floor
with the blood streaming from the pudding, his mother
rushing out to the street exclaiming that "Jims had cut his
  The following stanzas by Poet Fleming, a member of
Auld Thirteen, depict Jims to a nicety .--

  Wha's yon wee bit bodie that steers up an' doon,
  As if he was laird o' the hale country roun',
  Aye lauching' an' nodding, or hummin' a tune? --
  Yon's Jims -- Jamie Tholnton, the "Dlummel."
  At meetin' or market ye'll fin' Jamie there,
  At Coort or at concert, at kirk or at fair;
  Nane move a mair consequential air
  Than wee Jamie Tholnton, the Dlummel."
  Like the gallant "John Murray," he's well versed in law,
  An' wi' Jims it was whyles unco dangerous to thraw;
  Gin his heid begoud shakin', 'twas time to g'awa',
  Or ye sune cam' to grief wi' the "Dlummel."
  But noo since his auld frien' the "Shillah" is deid,
  Jims disna sae muckle wi' the law fash his heid;
  The Coort room to him is a cauld place indeed,
  For nae Lordship shakes hands wi' the "Dlummel."
  As "Protector of Peace" there didna reside,
  When young, Jamie's equal in this country side;
  Oor polismen noo are sae slow i' the "stride,"
  They never could cope wi' the "Dlummel."
  If a laddie had touched a well on the street,
  An' Jims chanced to be on his every day "beat,"
  It was "charge," an' a rin boys rin "retreat,"
  Or a "cuff 'o the lug" frae the "Dlummel."
  In his palmiest days, oor "loafers" fared bad,
  For a stamp wi' his fit gar'd a' quickly "pad" --
  A "pelfect disglace" that men "dlunk an' ill clad"
  Should lounge on oor streets, quo' the "Dlummel."
  An' as for a "baker" auld "Charlie" could tell,
  There wisna a baker wi' Jims could excel;
  For carryin' heidfu's, piled up by the ell,
  "Lobie White" had nae chance wi' the "Dlummel."
  An' as the toon's "dlummel," he hisna a peer,
  Frae the Cannibal Isles to the toon o' the "Queer;"
  His notes are sae true, aye, sae sweet, and sae clear --
  A "model" musician's oor "Dlummel."
  Folk bounce and blaw aboot yin Johnnie Bain,
  While some praise Jock Gardner, or Alec Mc Lean --
  It's bombast! There's nane here, or e'en ower the main,
  Could "play the ae side" o' oor "Dlummel."

James Forrest.

  I cannot close without making a short reference to one
who was much loved and respected by all who know him --

the late Bro. James Forrest, the much esteemed Bard of
Lodge No. 13. To his flawless integrity in all relations of
life, to his geniality and generosity in every sense of the
word, and to his wholly delightful urbanity and charm of
manner, all who knew him bear unfaltering testimony.
  James Forrest was no ordinary man. No one in the
district had a better knowledge of the folk lore and ballad
literature of Scotland; he had a keen appreciation of Scottish
humour, and had a never failing budget of anecdote.
He had a most extensive knowledge of old Bathgate and its
worthies; it was a special delight to sit and listen to him
relate stories of old Bathgate scenes of long ago. He was
endowed with a happy temperament, a never failing fund
of jollity and good humour, and possessed of fine literary
taste. One of the finest traits in his character was a love for
dumb animals; he was well versed in the habits and haunts
of the birds of the district. He was tall in stature, and in
every respect of the word a gentleman.
  His life was gentle; and the elements
  So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
  And say to all the world. This was a Man.

  Bro. Forrest was the Secretary of the Beeches Club
from the time of its inauguration till its decease; his reading
of the minutes was a literary treat, and often much more
enjoyed than the essay or lecture.
  Possessed of much literary ability, he was the author
of "The White Lady of Caputha' Bogs," a short story
which appeared in the local press; "Bird Notes," "Scotland's
Ploughman Bard," "The Puir Wife's Brae," "A Day
Among the Haws;" "The Old Firm at the Old Address,"
being a graphic description he paid to the old Livingston
Inn, accompanied by the Poet of the Deans; "The Death
and Burial of the Thrush;" and a poetical effusion
dedicated to his Mother Lodge, Auld 13, sung to the tune of
"Scotland Yet," which I reproduce in full .--

  Beneath Kilwinning's auld roof tree,
  Assembled are we a',
  To spend the hours in social glee,
  And drive dull care awa';
  For round about this board to night
  True Masons all are we --
  Dear Auld Thirteen, dear Auld Thirteen,
  Our Mother Lodge is she;
  May fortune smile upon her Sons
  Wherever they may be.
  Within this mystic Temple, then,
  Let faith and hope entwine;
  May Charity's effulgent robe
  Clothe all in love divine,
  And Wisdom wait upon the Sons
  Of Light and Harmony --
  Dear Auld Thirteen, dear Auld Thirteen,
  Our Mother Lodge is she;
  May fortune smile upon her Sons
  Wherever they may be.
  Amid the changing scene of life,
  'Mid worldly strife and care,
  Let all our actions fashioned be
  By the Compass and the Square.
  And, mindful of Life's Golden Rule,
  Join Love and Unity --
  Dear Auld Thirteen, dear Auld Thirteen,
  Our Mother Lodge is she;
  May fortune smile upon her Sons
  Wherever they may be.
  Of orders kings and nobles boast,
  Of starts and royal blood,
  Antiquity is stamped on ours,
  It dates from near the flood;
  O'er all the world our Order's known
  By deeds of Charity --
  Dear Auld Thirteen, dear Auld Thirteen,
  Our Mother Lodge is she;
  May fortune smile upon her Sons
  Wherever they may be.
  Then to the Craft let's pledge a toast,
  With honours three time three,
  Auld Thirteen's Sons in every land,
  True Masons may they be.
  They'll find across Life's troublous scene
  A blessed eternity --
  Dear Auld Thirteen, dear Auld Thirteen,
  Our Mother Lodge is she;
  May fortune smile upon her Sons
  Wherever they may be.

  He was laid to rest in the Auld Kirkyaird at Kirkton,
on Friday, 7th July 1916, a deputation from the Lodge
of Auld Thirteen paying him the tribute of following his
remains to the last scene of all -- that borne from which
there is no returning. I have no hesitation in saying, and I
conscientiously believe, that James Forrest would face the
Grand Architect of the Universe with a clear conscience,
and that he would receive the "Well done, good and faithful
servant." "After life's fever, he sleeps well." In the words
of A.M. Bisset --

  Nae mair he'll spiel the Puir Wife's Brae
  At dewy dawn or gloamin' grey,
  To tune his heart to Doric lay,
  An' muse alane;
  For doon the gait we a' maun gae
  Has Forrest gane.

  A great many of Bathgate's old actors have made their
exit from life's stage. the lights have been turned off, and
the curtain rung down.
  Vale! old friends, take you for all in all, when shall we
look upon your like again?

A Relic Of The '45.


To the Lecture on "A Bit of Old Bathgate."

At the regular Meeting of The Lodge of Torphichen-Kilwinning,
No. 13, held in the Temple, on Tuesday, 3rd May
1927 -- Bro. T.K. Irvine, R.W.M., presiding -- Bro. John
Stirling said .-- Right Worshipful Master, Wardens and
Brethren, -- In the recent address which I gave on Bathgate
Characters, I made reference to the curtains which were
in possession of the late Bro. "Provost" Bowie, and which
adorned the bed on which Prince Charlie slept in the Deans
Mansion House, or more correctly speaking, Boghall House.
The mansion was the property of Colonel Norvell, and was
occupied by the Norvell family. I lost all trace of the
curtains after the death of the "Provost," and at one time
thought they had gone into possession of John Macnab of
the Glen, he having procured the old hostel occupied by
  I am pleased to say that I am now the happy possessor
of those historical relics, Mrs Kirk having very kindly presented
them to me. They came into possession of the late
Bro. Dr Kirk at the death of the "Provost." They are made
of the best worsted material, of the Royal Stuart tartan,
and although close on 200 years old, are in a fairly good
state of preservation. The visit of the Prince to the locality
and the history of the curtains are mentioned in "Rambles
Round Bathgate," by Mr Convery, and are chronicled in the
"Rhyming History of Bathgate," by Alexander Hamilton,
the poet of Kirkroads, as under .--

  This brings us tae the 'Forty five,
  'Tae Charlie and the Clans,
  Wha slept ae nicht on Bathgate Hills
  When gaun tae Prestonpans.
  The rank and file, row'd in their plaids,
  Lay doon at Clinkinstane,
  While Lord George Murray wi' the Prince
  Unto the Deans has gane.
  A royal banquet there was spread,
  Wi' Norvell at its head,
  Wha drank tae Johhny Cope's defeat
  Before they gaed to bed.
  A worthy Provost in our toon,
  Within his house can show
  The curtains o' the Prince's bed,
  The counterpane an' a'.
  At dawn o' day the Cameron Clan
  Brak' in on Lizzie Meikle,
  And toom'd her girnal and her kirn,
  Which put her in a pickle.
  Some ran wi' jugfu's o' the cream,
  And made it into crowdie;
  While others clap'd theirs on the fire
  For brochin and powsowdie.
  Brave Lizzie ran straight to Lochiel,
  And telt him 'bout his men;
  The Chieftan laugh'd, and frae his purse
  Drew gouden pieces ten,
  And flung them right intae her lap,
  Then turn'd and wish'd good bye;
  And lang did Lizzie Meikle tell
  She ne'er made mair aff kye.

  The Deans had in those days a fine baronial hall. It
formed part of the ancient Barony of Boghall, and at that
time there were between thirty and forty crofters on the
estate; there was also a smithy, which was famed for the
manufacture of tackets. There was also a thirling mill, and
the course of the old mill lade could be traced up to quite
  Norvell, who presided at the Prince Charlie banquet,
was Laird of the Deans; the worthy Provost referred to,
and who could show the curtains of the Prince's bed,
was Bro. James Bowie, of the Railway Inn; Lizzie Meikle,
whose "girnal" the Cameron Clan plundered, was the great
grandmother of Alexander Hamilton; crowdie, brochin, and
powsowdie, are mixtures of milk, meal, and boiling water --
forming a kind of drummoch or "het gab." It is well known
that the Prince's army, when on the march, stole goods and
food wherever they could; and when found fault with by the
people whom they robbed, the soldiers said they would be
recompensed when "Charlie cam' in tae his ain."

Prince Charlie.

  Prince Charles Edward Stuart was born at Rome on
31st December 1720, and was the grandson of James VII. of
Scotland. At the age of 22 he conceived the idea of recovering
the throne of his ancestors. He landed from France in
the Highlands of Scotland in 1745 with seven attendants,
and was joined by several chiefs and their vassals. The force
of Charlie was small considering the great work that he was
attempting, but he was not deterred from advancing.
  He left Perth on 10th September of that year, his
followers rapidly increasing, and crossed the Forth above
Stirling. He passed the night of the 15th at Callander
House; passed Linlithgow Bridge on the 16th, and proceeded
through Linlithgow and Kirkliston towards Edinburgh.
It was while on this journey that the Prince slept
in the Deans Mansion House. He captured Edinburgh, and
afterwards gained the battle of Prestonpans. He penetrated
into England. His rapid advance made the British Government
tremble. In not making straight for London he lost
the "move." He decided to retreat when at Derby, and
arrived in Glasgow at Christmas.
  We shall always admit the loyalty displayed by Prince
Charlie's followers in his unfortunate advance. If he had
pushed on for London, after the panic caused by his first
success, instead of wasting precious time in Edinburgh,
there is no saying what might have happened. The weeks
he spent there lost him the Crown. When he did decide
to advance, it was too late; for his enemies had got over
their panic, and were fully prepared for resistance. Even at
Derby if he had persevered he might have been successful.
Although all hope was lost on Culloden Moor, there is a
charm about the adventure which cannot be extinguished.
The sad and pathetic ending of his career is well known
history, and need not be recorded here.
  Upon invitation the Prince slept one night, if not two,
at the Mansion House of Boghall at the Deans, at that time
the seat of the Norvell family.

Portrait of Prince Charlie.

  Mrs Kirk is in possession of a beautiful oil painting
of Bonnie Prince Charlie -- considered to be an excellent
likeness -- which also came out of Boghall House, and was
the property of the Norvell family. It was purchased at a
displenish sale -- at which the curtains were also sold --

by Mr Joseph Pearson, who afterwards gave it to a gentleman
in Edinburgh named Stuart, who was supposed to be
closely connected with that Royal House. The Pearsons,
who removed to Australia, were related to the Shanks family.

  The picture ultimately found its way back to the
Deans, when it came into possession of the family of Poet
Shanks. When the poet removed to Kirkton Lodge it
occupied a prominent place there. It is supposed to be an
authentic portrait of the unfortunate prince. The Shanks
family firmly believed it to be so, and coming as it did from
the Norvells, who had strong Jacobite tendencies, it is more
than likely to be the case.
  I was told by the Poet that the picture was to be
left to Dr Kirk, the conditions being that the Doctor was
to attend the Poet professionally till his death -- a duty
which the Doctor nobly fulfilled. When the Doctor received
the picture he had it renovated and reframed. I saw and
admired it many times at Kirkton Lodge -- the Poet never
forgetting to tell me where its resting place was to be --
and I had the pleasure recently of again seeing it, through
the kindness of Mrs Kirk, of Rowan Bank, where it is hung
in the hall staircase.
  I have heard it insinuated that the portrait is that of
Charles II. It may be true. Not having met any of the
gentlemen, I am not in a position personally to say which
is correct. However, that is a question that could be easily
settled by any inquisitive person.

  The curtains were on exhibition, and all present showed
keen interest in the historical relics.

Kirkton Mansion House.

  It may not be amiss to give a short description of
Kirkton Mansion House, the Lodge of which was so long
the residence of the Blind Poet of the Deans. The Lodge
was erected in the year 1844, and was demolished in 1927
by the Town Council of Bathgate -- a new building being
erected for the keeper of the Public Park. The Mansion
House stood at the east end of Bathgate Public Park, near
to the farm steading now occupied by Mr Young, and was of
considerable magnitude, but was not so commodious as it
looked owing to the thickness of its walls. It was two stories
in height, with partially underground kitchen and cellars.
There were several steps of stairs to the main entrance, and
it had two wings at each end in which were several flights of
stairs giving access to the upper apartments. There was no
landing places at the top of the stairs, so that the entrance
into the rooms was sudden and abrupt.
  The building was demolished by the instructions of
Captain Hart, the then proprietor, about the year 1862.
Bro. Thomas Johnston, an old and honourable member of
this Lodge, had the contract of taking down the mansion
and removing the stones and material and disposing of
them at his pleasure.
  A tablet stone which stood over the entrance had
inscribed on it the names "Thomas Sherp and Marion
Dalmæhoy, 1599." It is conjectured that these were the
names of the then proprietor and his wife. The tablet stone
is built into the gable end of an outhouse at Petershill
Cottage, then occupied by Bro. Johnston, where it still
remains, and can be seen by any person passing, the gable
facing the road. There is also above the tablet the figure of
a cherub which was brought from the mansion.
  There was a very beautiful fountain in the grounds
adorned with allegorical figures. This was purchased by
Edward Meldrum, of oil fame, one of the principals of
Bathgate Chemical Works, and rebuilt in his grounds at
Dechmont Castle.

The Deans Mansion House.

  Boghall House, or the Deans Mansion House, the seat
of the Norvells, was situated at the Deans, and when taken
down the material was used for building the present farm
steading. The old mansion was somewhat similar to the one
at Kirkton, but on a much larger scale, and consequently
much more commodious and in a better state of preservation.
It is not known how old the building was, but it
dates as far back as 1726, as seen by a tombstone within
the church at the Old Churchyard. The family lineage from
that date is briefly traced down to 1860, on the death of
the last of the family -- Mary Margaret Swindell Norvell.

Professor Diney and the Herd Laddie.

  Let me add the following additional story about
Professor Diney, which was recently related to me by an old
Bathgate native, who is now resident in Edinburgh, and
was a spectator of the scene some sixty years ago.
  Dr Kirk was making his usual daily call at Avonbridge,
and was due back. Diney was very unsettled that day,
always coming out to the door of his house, shading his
eyes and looking towards the Lower Station. At last when
the Doctor did arrive, Diney hailed him thus -- "Great
news the day, Doctor; great news the day!" "Oh, what
is the news the day, Professor?" the Doctor asked. Diney
replied -- "I have had a letter from James Wyllie, the Herd
Laddie, who is going to pay a visit to our town, and he is
coming to my house. We will have to invite all the noted
draughts players in the town to meet him."
  It was a great day for both Diney and Sandy Christie
when the Herd Laddie arrived. The house went like "a
running fair" the whole day, all the noted draughts players
coming to have a game with the champion, Sandy Christie
"running the cutter" to keep up the enthusiasm. He had
not far to run, his licensed grocer's shop being next door.
  It is not recorded how much the Herd Laddie made on
the visit, but he sold a number of his books at 3d each,
giving a description of his life.

"Raisin' the Wind."

  Before concluding let me give you an illustration of
a Bathgate worthy's method of "raising the wind." This
character was addicted to "mountain dew." He was a
schoolmate of Sir James Young Simpson, who, on his visits
to Bathgate, used to talk to him about his school fellow.
"Willie" got a good education, and was an excellent Latin
scholar. He was well versed with the poets, whom he quoted
when appealing for aid. The "Aleck" referred to in the
verses was Aleck Hamilton of Kirkroads. This is how he
proceeded --

  "Not a drum was heard!" Oh, what will I say?
  Wad ye len' me the length o' a tipence?
  If ever ye saved a puir mortal man's life,
  O try, man, and mak' it a thripence.
  Ye see hoo I'm trumlin' wi palsy and fricht;
  Man a penny's for nae use ava' --
  It'll only buy Finish, Coffin Montin', or Hard,
  Or yer All Sorts, or Speel up the Wa'.
  Burns is jist Burns! Though he's clever eneuch,
  Yet his poems they never can cope
  Wi' Cawmil's Last Man, or his Brave Soldier's Dream,
  Or Lochiel, or The Pleasures o' Hope.
  I ne'er liket Byron, for a' his fine words,
  He's sae fu' o' Tom Payne and Voltaire,
  And aye findin' faut wi' a' things but himsel'
  In Childe Harold, Juan, and Corsair.
  Hae mercy on me, for I'm likin' tae fent!
  Wad ye mak' me some gruel or tea?
  And Aleck, oh Aleck! wad ye fin' a' yer pouch,
  And gie me anither bawbee.