An 1850 Appin Christmas and New Years Ceilidh story told.

Lest They Forget!

A hundred years after the Battle of Culloden, an Appin teacher makes sure that her students knew what happened in Appin after the Battle of Culloden. Kate Thompson’s story about Mary McLaurin her mother-in-law and the post Culloden trauma on the Appin children. There is no doubt that the Editor K. W. Grant embellished the story, but the essence of Appin life is revealed.

Our cast of characters shortly after the Battle of Culloden:

Airigh-mheadhon - The middle shieling in the photo


Seumas Sasunmaoh - “English James” McIntyre at Achanacone


John McLaurin, Airigh-mheadhon, Glean-na-hyle ”middle shieling”, killed at Culloden 1746


Morag, “Mary” McLaurin nine year old daughter of the deceased rebel John McLaurin 


Morag’s mother with four children, the MacIntyre widow of John McLaurin


Duncan MacIntyre, Morag’s maternal uncle, The Croft, Kilmartin


Flora, Morag’s paternal aunt at Port Glasgow


“Skipper” the kind Master of the “Maryanne”, a coastal sailing ship


“The Scarlett Lady” who tempted Morag aboard a grand vessel to America


A Jewish merchant couple in America who bought Morag


Peter Thompson, Morag’s husband that she married in Appin


Kate Thompson the Storyteller, Morag’s daughter-in-law


“A New Years Ceilidh” 

Appin had been at one time to a great extent Episcopalian, and this, no doubt, was at the root of the observance of Christmas as well as new year’s Day. Not that it was held as a religious holiday, but, equally with New year’s Day, the youth of the whole district gathered for the great Shinty matches of the year.


As a counter attraction, the Teacher’s wife spared no pains in preparing home pleasures for her young people; one of which was to invite a few friends, both young and old, for the evening of both days, when a sumptuous tea was laid out in the best room, and the evening was prolonged till the quests chose to depart. So, when Kate Thompson arrived with a full set of shinties, she was retained to pluck fowls, and help all round. For ten days beforehand there were aromatic odours of ginger cake, pound cake, and shortbread with designs formed of sweets as hard as chucky-stones; oatcakes with carraway seed, and other delights pervading the atmosphere; and the final result was a triumph of culinary art. It was on the fifth and twelfth of January these holidays were kept.


No porridge was made on these mornings. The day began by giving the cattle a sheaf each of oats instead of the usual straw, and every other living creature about the house was regaled, each according to its capacity for enjoyment. The family breakfast was fried home-cured bacon and eggs, with soda scones, thin scones made with boiling milk and a bit of butter, freshly toasted curled farls of oatcake, and fragrant China tea.


But the tea-table in the evening was a picture to be remembered. Lighted by four stately, frilled candles in glittering brass candlesticks, the snowy linen, the glasses of cut crystal with ruby red currant jelly, strawberry jam, and honey, the plates piled high with all kinds of home-baked delights, all together suggested boundless hospitality and over flowing goodwill.


The feast disposed of, the tables, with folded leaves, were moved aside to give more room, and the quests made a wide circle around the brightly burning fire. There were quiet games for the children; riddles were given out, and answered; then, finally came the story-telling.


Old Kate Thompson told this story

Mary McLaurin the nine year old daughter of John McLaurin crofter at the Middle Shieling of Gleann na h’iola (56° 34′ 48″ N 5° 16′ 52″ W), between Blar-nan-laogh/Barnaley (field-of-cows) the shieling to the north and Airigh-mheadhon/Arymeyhne (middle shieling) the shieling to the west-south-west. Laughlin McLaurin an old man and John Bane McLaurin lived at Blar-nan-loagh in 1746, John Bane had turned in his weapons to Campbell of Stonefield the Sheriff, at Dunstaffnage Castle on 6 July 1746. The middle shieling was probably attached to Blar-nan-laogh as a single property a common practice. Google maps clearly shows this middle shieling which is very close to Blar-nan-laogh. I have three Testaments from Blar-nan-laogh McLaurins.


From this story we learn that another John McLaurin, from the same place, was killed at the Battle of Culloden. Many of these Blar-nan-laogh McLaurins’ descendants emigrated to Cape Fear, North Carolina on the ship “Maryanne” in 1790. A  brutal overly long six week voyage, which made them short on water and supplies before landing in America. With a little girl delivered on the voyage. “Ships from Scotland to America, David Dobson, 1998


“Maryanne” is also the name of the ship in this story with the friendly Skipper, who made sure that Morag reached her aunt Flora safely. Could this be the same ship that had been carrying McLaurins and other Appin people around the wesc coast of Scotland for decades with a Skipper that knew the people very well.


This story also confirms a link between the people of Kilmartin, Glassary where Vicar Loarn of Kilmartin lived in 1355, to the McLaurins in Appin.


I did not find anyone named Thompson or MacThomas in the two 1746 Appin Lists of Rebels.


 The “Plough” constellation is the known as the “Big Dipper” in the US.


We now have the probable names of two McLaurins’ killed at Culloden, John in this story and Neill (D-a) who tradition says was wounded in the head.


Copyright Hilton McLaurin, 2017

Notes

Mary McLaurin the nine year old daughter of John McLaurin crofter at the Middle Shieling of Gleann na h’iola (56° 34′ 48″ N 5° 16′ 52″ W), between Blar-nan-laogh/Barnaley (field-of-cows) the shieling to the north and Airigh-mheadhon/Arymeyhne (middle shieling) the shieling to the west-south-west. Laughlin McLaurin an old man and John Bane McLaurin lived at Blar-nan-loagh in 1746, John Bane had turned in his weapons to Campbell of Stonefield the Sheriff, at Dunstaffnage Castle on 6 July 1746. The middle shieling was probably attached to Blar-nan-laogh as a single property a common practice. Google maps clearly shows this middle shieling which is very close to Blar-nan-laogh. I have three Testaments from Blar-nan-laogh McLaurins.


From this story we learn that another John McLaurin, from the same place, was killed at the Battle of Culloden. Many of these Blar-nan-laogh McLaurins’ descendants emigrated to Cape Fear, North Carolina on the ship “Maryanne” in 1790. A  brutal overly long six week voyage, which made them short on water and supplies before landing in America. With a little girl delivered on the voyage. “Ships from Scotland to America, David Dobson, 1998


“Maryanne” is also the name of the ship in this story with the friendly Skipper, who made sure that Morag reached her aunt Flora safely. Could this be the same ship that had been carrying McLaurins and other Appin people around the wesc coast of Scotland for decades with a Skipper that knew the people very well.


This story also confirms a link between the people of Kilmartin, Glassary where Vicar Loarn of Kilmartin lived in 1355, to the McLaurins in Appin.


I did not find anyone named Thompson or MacThomas in the two 1746 Appin Lists of Rebels.


 The “Plough” constellation is the known as the “Big Dipper” in the US.


We now have the probable names of two McLaurins’ killed at Culloden, John in this story and Neill (D-a) who tradition says was wounded in the head.


Copyright Hilton McLaurin, 2017

The Middle Shieling Today