Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Journey of Temperance

Last year I was contacted, through this blog, by a third cousin, Morris, in Aberdeen, Scotland who was also researching our common great great grandfather, Robert Marshall (1819-1891).  He is in possession of a journal that Robert Marshall kept during an abstinence tour he did in the North of Scotland in 1839, which he most graciously sent me a transcript of.   It was transcribed by is uncle, and although there are some pages missing, it is a fascinating read.

Last week I emailed Morris and asked if he might have some pictures of the journal that he could send and a few days later the below pictures arrived in my inbox.  It’s hard to believe that Morris is standing there holding a 173 year old journal in his hands.  What a treasure to hold. 

I also asked permission to post the journal to this blog in order that my sisters (and our children) and Marshall cousins may also learn of their great great grandfather’s journey.  Permission was given, so each week on Sundays, I will post one day’s worth from the journal.  Unfortunately, due to the missing pages from the journal there will be gaps in the entries.  Some of the entries are brief, but I’m sure that will only peak interest for the next entry.

Before posting the first entry (in a separate post), just a wee bit of background on the Temperance movement back in the day.

With the reduction in tax on alcohol in 1823, the consumption of legal alcohol increased dramatically.  The Home Drummond Act of 1828 introduced licensing of public houses, however this only affected legal drinking establishments – the illegal dram shops continued as they had before.  At this time in Scotland, right up until the early 20th century, the legal drinking age was 14 years old.  With the increase of consumption of alcohol and the associated misery and health problems, temperance and abstinence movements found public support.  Many societies began to emerge, such as the Rechabites, Good Templars, the Band of Hope, Sons of Scotland and the British Women’s Temperance Association.  In the 1840’s, temperance hotels and coffee houses began to emerge.

Many Society members believed that alcohol was fatal to the health, happiness and prosperity of their family.  They were encouraged to sign a pledge abstaining from the use of ardent spirits, except for medicinal purposes. To counteract the evils of drink, the Societies tried to offer alternatives to occupy the leisure time of the working class. These generally included lectures, evening concerts and social events. A musician was hired to train a choir, and musical evenings were frequently held. Lectures were regularly delivered.    

When my great great grandfather, Robert Marshall, began his Abstinence Tour, he was a young teacher of just 19 years of age and living in Alyth, Perthshire, Scotland.  He was to travel to many places in the North of Scotland recording the places visited, with the number of members of tee-total societies and the number of public houses.  He would billet with members of the local society, give lectures, sing temperance songs that he had written and hopefully get new members to sign the pledge.  He began his journey in September of 1839 and upon completion of his tour, had travelled 474 ¾ miles.  One of the families that he stayed with, in October 1839, was the family of a John Kynoch.  The entries about his stay with the Kynoch’s peaked my interest, as in 1841, Robert and John Kynoch’s daughter, Anne was married.  Robert says of this family: “this is a family which exactly suits me, they are every way to my taste.  His departure from Elgin, in Morayshire affected him greatly.  He writes:  Mr. Kynoch and family seem to have been enchanted with me - they would on no consideration allow me to go till I promised to come back that way - my staff had gone missing - it could not be found - 'Give him the umbrella and it will make him come back', says the wife - I would not promise for I could not positively say whether I should have it in my power to come back that way.”  Needless to say, Robert did return, perhaps obliged to return the umbrella (or was it maybe to see Anne again?)  My cousin, Morris (and I) like to think that if it weren’t for that umbrella, we might not be here today!

(The above information on the Temperance Movement was compiled from articles from "The Resources for Learning in Scotland" and through Wikipedia).

©2012, copyright Alana Farrell

1 comment:

  1. I had fun reading this journey much like the journey my grandfather took. Thanks for sharing.