Di­ary of­fers in­sight into de­struc­tion of nor­mal life dur­ing Ja­co­bite re­bel­lions

The Herald - - NEWS -

ITisas­im­ple­di­ary­ofan or­di­nary work­ing man and doc­u­ments his ev­ery­day life asajoiner.

But the re­cently un­earthed jour­nal of an Aberdeen­shire worker has pro­vided new in­sights into the “dev­as­tat­ing eco­nomic im­pact” caused by the Ja­co­bite re­bel­lions.

His­to­ri­ans say they have dis­cov­ered a “unique source for the pe­riod” which shows how or­di­nary work­ing folk suf­fered dur­ing the con­flicts.

Joiner Alexan­der Smith was not in­volved in the re­bel­lions and ap­pears to have had no af­fil­i­a­tion to ei­ther the Ja­co­bites or Hanove­ri­ans. But his di­ary has pro­vided his­to­ri­ans with a glimpse into how ev­ery­day lives were af­fected by the up­ris­ings of both 1715 and 1745.

The “truly fas­ci­nat­ing ac­count” was gifted to the Univer­sity of Aberdeen by one of Smith’s rel­a­tives.

Dr Kirsteen MacKen­zie, a lec­turer at the univer­sity, said it will help his­to­ri­ans “build a more de­tailed pic­ture of life in Scot­land at this time”.

She said: “It is a truly fas­ci­nat­ing ac­count, told from a per­spec­tive I’ve never come across be­fore and about a re­gion for which lit­tle in­for­ma­tion ex­ists when it comestothe­seevents.

“There has been a huge amountofre­search­in­tothe Ja­co­bite­cause.

“But we still know lit­tle of how deeply they af­fected or­di­nary peo­ple with no di­rect con­nec­tion to the re­bel­lion.”

Smith, from Fraserburg­h, was­borninthe­late17th Cen­tu­ryto“lowly­stock”and is thought to have been poorly ed­u­cated but he went on to ex­cel in his ap­pren­tice­ship as a square wright.

His wood­work­ing skills at­tracted the at­ten­tion of the Aberdeen­shire elites and by 1715 he was earn­ing enough money to live in­de­pen­dently.

But when the up­ris­ing be­gan, he de­scribes how this quickly ground to a halt as eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in the area rapidly de­clined and sol­diers came through the town.

Fol­low­ing the 1715 Re­bel­lion, things for Smith im­proved greatly and through­out the 1720s and 30s his rep­u­ta­tion flour­ished.

Bythe1740s­he­was run­ning a suc­cess­ful busi­ness and was com­mis­sioned to build fur­ni­ture for the Duff fam­ily, of Duff House in Banff, and the Frasers of Philorth.

He was also em­ployed to build­mans­es­fortheChur­ch of Scot­land around the area.

Then the 1745 re­bel­lion oc­curred and the im­pact on Smith and his fam­ily was even­more­dev­as­tat­ing than it had been 30 years ear­lier.

His di­ary en­tries de­scribe how the price of wood “shot up” and be­came in such short sup­ply that he was forced to go on “long and ar­du­ous” jour­neys to source ma­te­rial.

Smithal­sowro­te­ofhis “temp­ta­tion” to go to the black mar­ket to ob­tain ma­te­rial, an ac­tion that even­tu­ally landed him in court in Aberdeen when he was caught try­ing to take wood from a ship­wreck off the Aberdeen­shire coast.

He also recorded prob­lems of main­tain­ing a work­force with many of his col­leagues aban­don­ing their posts to jointheJa­co­bite­cause.

UP­RIS­ING: The re­bel­lion in 1745, in­clud­ing the Bat­tle of Cul­lo­den, caused joiner Alexan­der Smith great hard­ship as wood was in short sup­ply.

DI­ARY: Joiner’s jour­nal re­veals how or­di­nary life was af­fected by up­ris­ings.

KIRSTEEN MACKEN­ZIE: Tells of ac­count gifted to Uni­ver­sity of Aberdeen.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.