[The first entry in this diary for the year 1808 is dated 1 March].
Began to build a garden wall between Mrs Macfarlanes garden and mine at the North hills. Macfarlane agrees to pay half the expence.
Sowed 1 oz of leekseed 2 oz onion seed and ½ oz carrots, the onion seed at 10 pence per oz.
Finished the garden wall
Mrs Whitehead went back to Cowie. She was six weeks in town and effected no agreement amongst her children, or took a single step towards arranging or settling her affairs.
Agreed to quit my claim to the east gable of Mrs Irvine’s house upon condition that they, their heirs and successors should never break out windows in it.
Planted early cabbages. They were at the price of 1/6 per hundred.
Planted 5 lippies of early potatoes and likewise planted late cabbages and German greens.
An expedition to the Baltic reported, to assist the Swedes. 15 sail of the line and 20,000 land forces.
No accounts from America as yet relative to an amicable settlement with that ingratefull people.
The Kerse farmers in generall have sowen all their beans and oats. The season is still dry and tolerably mild.
Salmon still at half a crown a pound.
Cold snow blasts with frost.
Frequent bankruptcies in town. One McLachlan who had only failed a few years ago has again become bankrupt for upwards of £3000.
A large collection of wild beasts and birds arrived in town in six large caravans or wagons, consisting of two lions, 1 tyger, two leopards, a panther, a heyena, two kangaroos, two ostriches besides severall others. They were shewn at the front of the Flesh Market. Admittance two shillings, tradesmen and servants sixpence each.
Received a letter from Mr Napier at Edinburgh that Lang had obtained decreet for expences in Aitkens liferent for £24.4.7. This has been a very troublesome affair about that old whore’s liferent, but it was fortunate that she did not enjoy it long, not above one year and a half.
The last three weeks have been very cold and frosty, vegetation being totally at a stand, markets high and credits low, bankruptcies frequent, trade dull and no money to be had in payment of debts.
Generall Whitelock the Commander in Chief to Buenos Ayres cashiered for misconduct and the shamefull loss of that important settlement.
Markets still high. Butter 1/6 to 1/8 per lb; beef 7d.
Sent twenty nine pounds fifteen shillings to Mr Napier, Edinburgh, to pay Lang’s sister’s law expence and likewise the composition to the clerks for not extracting the decreet.
Borrowed £10 from John Aikman.
A fall of snow and the weather very cold.
A heavy fall of rain from the south east.
Report of a severe engagement in the Mediterranean Sea betwixt Sir Richard Strachan and the Rochfor Squadron wherein the British are said to be victorious.
Planted prolific dwarf peas. Vegetation rather backward.
The Measles very prevalent and often mortal. Numbers of children are dying of them.
On the 4th there was a great land flood or speat in all the rivers and burns adjacent. The Forth overflowed her banks and had it been during the harvest much mischief would have ensued.
Salmon at half a crown the pound.
An ice house was built on a point of land at the south west end of the bridge of Stirling this year. It cost the town £150 sterling.
The Committee of the Stirling Subscription Library agreed to write to Edinburgh to a bookseller for a large order of books for the Library amounting to upwards of £60.
Paid 15 shillings as augmented stipend to the minister of Denny for Rashiehill.
Let the uppermost flat of my dwellinghouse to Mrs Mortimer for 16 pounds sterling from Whitsunday to ditto 1809.
Frost and snow. The weather very cold.
A very heavy fall of snow with some thaw the next day.
Paid the property tax being seven pounds sterling.
The Synod of Perth and Stirling met here in the sessionhouse in the East Church. They had little or no business to do excepting choosing one Brown minister at Glendevon to be Synod Clerk in the room of Mr Duncan at Alva deceased.
The storm continues, the weather cold with NW winds. Vegetation not yet begun.
The Judges came to town to hold the Justiciary Court.
Two men were tried accused of beating excise officers in the execution of their office. They were both acquitted. The judge was escorted to and from the Court-house to his lodgings in Gibb’s Inn with great pomp by a Company of the Forfar Militia with their band of music and the two trumpeters who usually attend the judges.
One Marshall (from Denny) was tried for house robbry. The libel was proven, the Judge recommended to find him guilty but the Jury acquitted him by finding his indictment not proven. This with a triffling appeal finished the busines.
The weather rather more moderate but fires as yet cannot be wanted in parlours. The markets still high, no lamb as yet in the butcher market. Vegetation is scarce begun in the gardens except on the gooseberry bushes.
Snow is on all the hills around this town.
A soldier fell over the back walk and was killed. He was supposed to be in liquor when he had fallen.
There has been six months of winter this season.
Swallows first seen for the season.
Fine mild weather. Vegetation begins and in three or four days an uncommon change on the face of the country is affected.
The Forfarshire regiment of Militia is again allowed to volunteer into other regiments for two days when 78 volunteered into different corps.
The snow is nearly of the Ochil hills but is still in great quantities on the west Highland hills.
One Alexander Cunningham a merchant here died. He has left £6000 sterling for the cloathing educating and mantaning poor children of the Guildry and Mechanics besides £1000 to help the widows pensions on Allans Hospital, to the care of the Magistrates, Town Council and the 2 established clergymen.
Cunningham was buried, the will read and the Magistrates entered on office by taking a dinner of the fund in Mason’s Inn, value £50 at least. This forebodes good management no doubt.
A squadron with a considerable land force in transports sailed from the Downs. ‘Tis supposed they are destined for the Baltic to cooperate with the Swedes. Sir James Saummerez is admiral and Sir John Moor is General.
A very large and long list of admirals, captains, generals, colonels and majors promoted to be admirals, generals etc announced in the Gazette.
Sowed 2 lib of peas, in lieu of some that were sowen six weeks ago which did not come up either on account of bad seed or the frost.
People beginning to flit or remove from one part of the town to another.
Paid Thomas Rogerson £4.18 for two counters, shelves and desk with 16 chimnies in his houses including also the bell and the cover of the well.
The 2nd battalion of the 42nd Regiment, 1 division, passed through this town on the way to Glasgow from Fort George.
Fine weather with rain.
Mr Wilson left my house and Mrs Mortimer succeeded him.
The streets much crowded with horses and carts and people on account of people flitting or removing from one house to another.
The Stirling and Falkirk Volonteers marched to Alloa to remain a Fourtnight on permanent duty. They turned pretty well out.
Sold Rogerson’s houses in the Mary Wynd to William Henderson Baker and an angle of the garden at the south end for £725 sterling by which bargain I retain somewhat more than my two roods of the garden, which renders it somewhat nearer a square. I also retain a road through the close down to my garden.
Paid a bill for £100 granted to Thomas Rogerson in part payment of his houses and garden. He had discounted it in the Stirling Bank.
Got all my rents due at Whitsunday last except Dobbies at Denny and Henry Grays amounting to £5.5. Dobbie is a notorious vagabond and seldom pays until he is forced.
The weather excessive cold, the wind at north east.
Caterpillars are destroying much of the fine appearance that there were of fruit in our gardens.
Paid John Aikman £10 which I had borrowed from him on the 1st of April last. Much rain and the weather cold, however there is a great growth of everything.
Sowed leeks and carrots the former crop having totally failed. The most part of this month the weather was very cold and often the mornings were frosty. The necessaries of life have much advanced, meal 2/6 per peck. Beef 7 ½ and 8 pence per lib, veal very dear, little or no lamb to be had, eggs 1/- per dozen, butter from 1/6 to 1/8 per lib and other things in proportion. Trade very low, money not to be had.
The Eastern Battalion of the Moss Volonteers or East Stirlingshire marched into town to be on permanent duty for a fourthnight. The men looked well but had nothing of the air of a soldier about them, their cloathing is nothing different from the Militia or the regiments of the line except that their belts were all black. They amounted to about 500 men.
Our Volonteers returned from Alloa. There had been a fracas between Major Brown of the Falkirk Volonteers and one McKillop of ours. McKillop was on duty as a centinel, Brown ordered him to leave his post and go a message McKillop refused, Brown watched his opportunity, knocked McKillop down and disarmed him and ordered him into confinement.
The King’s birthday. The Magistrates and a great many others had a meeting at 7 o’clock afternoon in the Council house. Many were afterwards seen drunk on the streets especially the officers of the Army, Militia and Volonteers, but no serious quarrells took place.
Very much rain and very heavy at times with high winds from the north and north west.
The Forfarshire Militia who had been here for upwards of 15 months received their route for the Castle of Edinburgh. Both officers and men behaved very well during their stay here.
Got an extract of my disposition to William Henderson as it contains the reservation of my garden acquired from Thomas Rogerson. The one half of the Forfarshire Militia marched from this town to Edinburgh at 3 o’ clock morning. The remainder follows on the 14th, their baggage goes to Leith in a limestone sloop belonging to this place.
The Moss Volonteers were reviewed in the Park by an Inspecting colonel. The last division of the Forfarshire regiment of Militia marched for Edinburgh.
A fine appearance of a good crop everywhere. The hay crop is already fit to be mowed or cut down.
An old house a few yards below my dwellinghouse sold for £550, it will not bring above ten pounds of yearly rent at present, and must be soon rebuilt which will cost £600 more at least. This house belonged to the late Alexander Cunningham who left the legacies to the poor of this town.
Very fine mild warm weather. The Crop looks well but markets are not falling.
The Sacraments become frequent, there being last Sunday two in St Ninians and two in this town, one o f which viz the Old Light had no tent preaching, the Meeting house containing all the audience with ease. The New Light was better attended and had tent preachings.
The fair of Bannockburn for horses and black cattle. The prices were high and the sale not great. The evening concluded with a few fights owing to a plentifull potation of whiskie.
Five troops of Yeoman Cavalry came into town for 14 days to be on permanent duty and to be inspected. They consisted of one troop Stirling Yeomanry, one from Falkirk, one from Strath Endrick, or Balfron, two from Linlithgow. The Linlithgow troops had certainly the most shewy dresses and by far the best horses.
Private letters from Glasgow mentioned that there had been tumultuous meetings of the weavers on account of the lowness of their wages, and that they had been guilty of some little excesses, but they were got to dismiss quietly partly by good words and partly by the Military’s being called out and put under arms and ammunition delivered out to them, but not a word of this was mentioned in the Glasgow newspapers.
The most of this month was fine warm weather. The first two weeks we had fine warm showers, the latter part was warm and dry. The markets are still as high as they were during the month of May, the prospect of a crop is good. Hay harvest is begun.
The five troops of Yeoman Volonter Cavalry were inspected in the Kings Park. They made a tolerable good appearance and went through their different evolutions tolerably well , and towards night they began to separate and go away home, some however got drunk and rode up and down the streets all night singing and making a noise. One or two lost their purses. Perhaps the sporting ladies had got them as they were equally the votaries of Venus as of Bacchus.
Cut early cabbages, the crop was not very abundant.
Fine warm weather. The hay harvest become generall, the crop a middling one. The prices of new hay from 8 pence to 9 pence per stone.
Got payment of my Whitsunday half years rent due for Cormanshaugh from William Dobbie but not without trouble and having occasion to take out a decreet against him. N.B. This is the third time I have had occasion to do so.
Most of Spain in arms to expel the French troops out of it. Our government have sent them large supplies of money, arms and ammunition.
The weather very hot and sultry. The hay crop all got in, it is reckoned rather light, the prices ‘tis supposed will be about one shilling per stone.
Much thunder and lightening with heavy showers of rain. A woman was killed by lightening below Falkirk. Three cows were killed with lightening also on my farm at Rashiehill belonging to my tenants son.
The army which sailed from the Downs to the assistance of Sweden consisting of 15,000 men under Sir John Moore, after lying aboard the transports in Gottenburgh harbour, returned to the Down, there having arose some misunderstanding between our ministry and the King of Sweden. They were victualled afresh with all dispatch and sent down Channel, as ‘tis supposed to Spain to assist the Patriots there who are in arms against the usurpations of Bonaparte.
This month has been the hottest that has been remembered for many year past.
Markets are still high, the appearance of a crop is very good and sheep and horned cattle are in an excellent condition.
The Grammar School was examined in the Guild Hall in presence of the Magistrates and others, the scholars consisted of 36 in all, and went through their exercises in the Latin tongue and a few in the Greek tongue with considerable activity. William was heads of his class but Walter was only fifth heads in the class that he belonged to. They were allowed a vacation of one month and five days.
For some time past the public have reason to believe that the bakers sold their bread at too high prices, and hearing that Societies in Perth and other towns did bake their own bread and were supplied with it one third cheaper than the bakers sold it, after defraying all expences, a meeting took place here in the Guild Hall latter end of last month in order to form a Society for furnishing bread. A committee of nine were names to manage and this day another meeting took place. The Committee laid the articles before the meeting and a subscription was entered into for that purpose. I subscribed three guineas which will entitle to six quarter loaves per week at the Society’s price. The Bakers are much alarmed, and are speaking very maliciously and contemptuously of the Society and the promoters of it.
Very heavy rain. Many onions in the garden are rotting and the roots of them full of worms.
Received the accounts relative to the affair of Aitkens liferent for Rashiehill amounting to £157 in all. This I am to settle contrary to the advice of my lawyers as I want to have done with that most cursed infernal business, as old Aitken is out of reach of justice on this earth but I have no doubt but that he will by this time be making retribution for it where he now is, and it is easy to guess where that place is.
Sent a draft indorsed to Mr George Napier, writer in Edinburgh for £127.14.7 which added to the £29.15 sent Mr Napier April 1 amounts to £157 and settling this cursed business but after all the Farm is worth all that it has stood me in, but no thanks to Aitken or nay of his friends, this will not enrich them de male quesitis vix gaudet tertius flores.
Paid my annual subscription of half a guinea to the Stirling Subscription Library.
I borrowed twenty eight pounds from John Aikman to help me to answer Aitkens friends Langs demand.
The harvest become generall, the crop upon the whole has been a good one, the beans in some places are light and scanty,
News arrived that 10,000 Spanish soldiers in Holstein and the Danish islands had revolted against the French and that Admiral Keats had been able to rescue them, they will be sent to Spain to assist the patriots who are making a vigourous resistance to the French.
We have at this time about 45,000 men in Spain and Portugal besides our fleets on their coasts.
The months of July and August have been the hottest or warmest months remembered, upon the whole this summer has been remarkably warm, fluxes and fevers have been the consequences, but not as yet very fatal.
The necessaries of life still continue high. Meal 2/- per peck. Quarten loaf 1/1. Butter 1/6. Eggs 9d. Butchers meat 6d per lib. Potatoes from 1 /4 to 10d and other things in proportion.
No military in town excepting recruiting parties.
News arrived of the hanging of Major Campbell of Glenfalloch at Armagh for shooting Captain Boyd in a duell. This is the first execution for duelling.
News arrived that Generall Wellesley had defeated the French in Portugal and killed wounded and taken prisoner 5,000 men. The numbers on each side were equall but the French has by far the most numerous cavalry. We lost 1,100 killed wounded and missing.
The Judges came into town from the eastward.
Wrote Mr George Napier, sent him £10 with Willisons tack for Rashiehill and information relative to that cursed business of Aitkens liferent.
Fine harvest weather, the crop most got in to the barnyard in the Carses.
Painted all the wood of the outside of my house with white paint in order to help to preserve the wood
Sent a kipper fisg to George Bell Surgeon Edinburgh and another to my cousin Robert Lucas merchant there.
The fields cleared of the crop except the potatoes and the farmers very busy sewing wheat.
News arrived that Sir Hew Dalrymple our General in Portugal had made a most disgracefull convention with the French Generall in Portugal altho the French were twice beat and the British forces superior in number yet the French were allowed to be sent to France unconditionally with their arms, artillery, ammunition and plunder in British ships and at British expence, and a Russian fleet of 9 ships of the line to be sent to England to be restored at a peace to the Russians again, the crews not to be prisoners but sent to Russia at British expence in Brittish vessels. This most shamefull bargain has given universall disgust and dissatisfaction, ‘tis hoped it will be properly investigated and the authors punished.
Accounts arrived that Sir Samuel Hood in the Baltic has with 2 sail of the line only attacked the Russian fleet of nine sail of the line, burnt one ship of 74 guns and driven the rest into the Bay of Roggerwicke in Finland.
Henderson, late clerk to Mrs Whitehead, died at Cowie of a liver complaint occasioned by debauchery and hard drinking..
A man names Kerr fell into a burning lime draw kiln at Falin Bow and was suffocated or burnt to death before he could be got out.
John Thomson Merchant went through the Guildry collecting votes to elect him Dean of Guild at the ensuing Michaelmas.
Cold weather with severe frosty mornings, but dry and fine through the day.
The election of Dean of Guild and the seven deacons of the Trades. No opposition among the Guildry, the Trades were not so quiet.
Snow on the tops of the west highland hills.
The stalks of the potatoes are all blackned with the frost.
The election of magistrates and town council went through smoothly, on the whole, the sett were rather more respectable than the preceeding year. There is always some shabby characters among the 7 Deacons, and sometimes some of the Councillors are little better. There was two insignificant barbers in the Councill last year.
This month has been fine weather. The harvest is wholly got in. The potatoes are an excellent crop, and they are throng digging them. The markets still high especially the wheat.
Some few swallows still flying about.
The Caledonian hunt began by hunting foxes. One fox slain.
Another hunt. One fox lost another taken.
Another fox hunt, the fox taken and worried.
The King’s plate run for and won by a mare belonging to an English-man called Sir H. Vane tempest. It was a good race and well contested.
Two races indifferently contested.
Some pickpockets attended but they got little.
Assemblies in the Guildhall as usuall.
The Players acted in the old maltbarn.
Russall the Clergyman prayed and ranted much against the races and the players as usuall.
Two races, the first indifferently well, the second no competition.
Two races well contested and afforded good amusement.
A fall of snow with rain.
Two middling good races, the one by hacks.
Every evening there was a ball and supper in the Guildhall which lasted generally to 4 or 5 o’clock morning as they did not meet untill eleven at night.
The company were numerous. Lodgings were high, twenty guineas often paid for a parlour and two bedrooms furnished. Complaints of this extortion were generall, but the townsfolk endeavoured to justify themselves by alledging that the Country Gentry did not take care of the rooms and furniture but did what damage they could and beheaved with haughtiness and want of civility to the inhabitants and when any gentlemen of the town went to their balls they were treated with contempt and disrespect and openly avoided.
The pickpockets got little booty. The vagrants and wheel of fortune gang, ballad singers and whores were numerous. The town was crowded and kept in confusion. No accidents of consequence happened.
The City of London addressed his majesty to cause an enquiry to be made into the disgracefull convention in Portugal but were rather coldly received. Lord Hawksbury told them, in presence and by order of the King, that they should condemn no man in absence, and that from a late enquiry they ought to know that his Majesty was not backward to make enquiries, the King then walked out of the room.
Cold frosty weather, the country people employed in digging the potatoes.
The tree are already nearly stripped of their leaves.
A whale nearly 44 feet in length ran ashore and was killed at the farm of Long Kerse about half a mile above Alloa. Many people went from this town to view it although the roads were very deep and dirty. Severall more fishes of the same kind were thrown ashore in the Tay below Dundee
A shole of herrings has entered the Forth. ‘Tis probable the whale was in pursuit of them.
Very heavy rains and great floods in the rivers whereby much damage was done and some lives were lost.
Heavy gales at sea whereby severall ships and many lives were lost.
The markets on the rise altho there is no scarcity. The distilleries are prohibited from using grain but may use sugar.
News arrived that the Swedes and Russians had concluded an Armistice in Finland for an unlimited time.
Captain William Aird died of an apoplexy. He was a decent warm-hearted young man.
Planted three pear and one apple tree on my garden wall in my south garden.
The Fair of Down was held. Black cattle did not sell well and went off at reduced prices to what they sold at the Falkirk trysts.
Candles and soap very much advances in price which has caused most of the shopkeepers to burn whale oil in their shops instead of candles.
Paid Mr Aikman back the 28 pounds that I borrowed from him three months ago.
Paid my servants wages £5 and paid the milkwoman for milk £3.3
Paid my insurance to the Caledonian Insurance Company for my house.
Part of the gabel of a new house that was not quite finished fell in the Friars Wynd. Nobody was hurt by it.
Had a letter from my uncle Walter in London.
The players still in town. They are at their benefit nights which indicates that they are soon going away. ‘Tis supposed they will not take much money home with them.
The weather tolerably good. Snow on all the hills.
Accounts from Spain mention that there have been severall battles with various success, and that upon the whole the Spaniards have behaved well. The Court of Enquiry is sitting on Generall Dalrumple for the Convention of Antra. ‘Tis imagined that it will come to nothing after all the ado that has been about it.
A most extraordinary gallant action has been fought in the Bay of Biscah between our frigate the Amythest of 36 guns and the Thetis French frigate of 44 guns and 440 men/ The French frigate was captured and brought to Plymouth with the loss of nearly 300 killed and wounded. Our frigate had 19 killed and 40 wounded.
Got the greater part of my rents paid, but there appears to be a very great scarcity of money in the country at this time.
Busines, especially in the building line, is at a stand. No wood to be had under four shillings and upwards the square foot which is mostly American pine. The stock from the Baltic is nearly exhausted.
The customs belonging to the town of Stirling did not set so
High by 30 pounds this year as they did the last year.
Sommervile the first Minister has lost his plea with the town relative to his boats fishing on the Forth. He wanted to reduce his bargain on pretence that a Minister is always a minor in his bargains, but the Judges at Edinburgh were unanimous in this instance to the contrary and found him also liable in expences of plea to the town.
Cold wet weather to the end of the month, the markets still high.
The news from Spain are rather unfavourable.
24 acres of land below the town belonging to the heirs of Doctors Gillespie sold for £3,700 sterling besides the stipend payable to the Minister of about 15 shillings per acre cess, property tax etc.
Paid Mr Robertson at the Spittal £240 sterling which I borrowed from him last February to pay Rogerson’s property in the Mary Wynd.
The news from Spain rather of a gloomy nature.
The 24 acres of land belonging to the late Dr Gillespie were let in tack to one Nucclo for six pounds ten shillings per acre for eight years.
The play actors left the town for Dunfermline; they have left little or no debts behind them.
Colonel Rind loses the command of the Volonteers, they are converted to what is called Local Militia and the command of them given to Colonel Hamilton of Bardowie. ‘Tis supposed that there will be two Battalions for Stirlingshire. They are to be embodied only for 20 days during the year and are not to march out of the County unless in case of actual invasion and are not to receive any pay excepting when embodied and are to receive cloathing only once in three years.
A severs storm of frost and snow from the NW, the cold very intense.
The Forth frozen over and the weather remarkably fine altho cold.
A house belonging to one McGibbon a Taylor sold for £450 sterling. It would have sold for £600 two years ago.
A fall of snow from the NE.
Numerous shipwrecks particularly on the East coast of England. The Walpole East Indiaman homeward bound was lost at Margate, the crew saved but most of the cargoe will be lost or greatly damaged. The loss on the coast of Scotland has also been considerable.
Many old and infirm people have lately died in this town and neighbourhood.
Severall bankruptcies and failures have happened in this town lately some of whom were not in the least suspected to be in a bad way with their affairs and ‘tis supposed more will follow.
A cold thaw has come on which has removed the snow from the plains. In the north and south of the country the snow is very deep and has obstructed the roads so as to cause the Mail and Stage coaches to arrive very irregularly and has rendered the weather exceeding cold and damp altho’ the barometer keeps well up.
The Forth is choked up with ice in many places.
Bankruptcies being frequent public credit is much injured. Taxes are more severe than ever and exacted with more severity than formerly.
Some of our men of war have been wrecked and many of our merchant-man have been lost and many valuable lives lost to their families and friends.
The French are as yet everywhere successfull in Spain, and this year has ended without anything of consequence being atchieved by our fleets or armies, excepting the evacuation of Portugall if that can be called an atchievement, and every necessary of life is got to be a most enormous price.
The quarter loaf fine is 1/ ½ , the household 11 ½ d, Butter 1/6 and 1/8 per lib. Beef 6d to 7d per lib. Meal is 50 to 52 shillings per load. Eggs 1 shilling a dozen and every other article in proportion, altho there is no scarcity of anything the harvest being very abundant and the distillers also being prohibited from distilling from grain and allowed to distill from sugar.