Jean Ross married Willie Cruickshank at the Glenbarry Inn. The wedding took place there because the minister was too frail to walk to Ramsburn. Together, they had ten children, eight boys and two girls. The youngest, Margaret, was born on the 14th February 1884 at Ramsburn.
When Margaret, or Meggie, or Mekkie was nearly 23 she married Peter Thom at Ramsburn, Knock. The Rothiemay minister officiated at the wedding. For a time they lived at Ternemney, then they moved to Inchdower where they lived for twelve years and finally to the Firs, Grange, where Peter worked as a farm servant at Newseat, Sillyearn.
Margaret started writing at an early age, screeds of poetry and stories which never saw the light of day; she was so afraid that people would laugh at her. Only twice was anything seen, once by the headmaster who caught her with her story and having read it said, “Margaret, did you write this? You are a genius, carry on and someday you will be a great writer.” Another time her father found a poem she had written. “Lassie, that’s a great gift you have. See that you use it well and never hurt anybody’s feelings wi’ it,” he said; and she never did.
M.T., as we know her had four books of poetry and prose published, the first while still at Ternemney “Hamely Rhymes for Hamely Folk”. Then followed, “The Patchwork Quilt”, “The Hearthrug”, and finally “Clippens”. These contained much of her own poetry and articles supplemented by contributions by “Banffshire Herald” readers. The proceeds from them all went to various charitable organisations.
Margaret and Peter Tom had two sons; Peter who was born in 1908 and subsequently joined the Scots Guards, and William born 1916 who was sadly killed in a motor bike accident in 1938, leaving a wife and three of a family.
This is an excerpt from the “Banffshire Herald” during her mourning period.
(May 9th 191)
Curly hair all softly waves and gleams,
Freckly face is pressed against my own,
Rosy lips repeat their evening prayer,
Softly sleeping now my little son.
Little feet are pattering to and fro,
Sweet blue eyes with laughter. all ashine;
Life too short for all his joyous play,
Oh, how I loved that little son of mine.
To manhood he grew and life with its cares
Saddened and made him old,
Back from his forehead, cold in death,
I swept the waves of gold,
And I saw not the broken man who had died,
But the child who had knelt at my knee,
And I thanked the Giver who blessed my life
With this man child He gave to me.
May 9th, 1939.
Readers, this sorrow almost killed me. My other son was far away and it seemed that life held nothing more for Dad and I. Time has softened our sorrow but we have never forgotten him. We look forward to our eldest son’s home-coming with his brave wife when wars are over and we look forward to our reunion with Willie in the Better Land. Oh, mothers, who read this and who may have lost a son, how well I understand your grief.
“When the setting sun makes a pathway of gold
To the rim of the outermost sea,
Out of the shadows he comes to my heart,
The little lad that he used to be.”
They adopted two other boys, Jimmy and Alfie Thom who now live in Australia.
MT contributed to the Banffshire Herald for just over 25 years and her weekly column was read with interest and appreciation by a large number of readers both at home and abroad. Men and women from this area serving in the forces looked forward eagerly to her weekly column.
She loved her church dearly and worshipped there regularly and was the life and soul of church meetings and social gatherings, reciting in the dialect of the North-East of which she was a master, to the enjoyment of all who heard her.
She loved children and in addition to her own family, brought up 14 other children lavishing them with the love of which they had been deprived for so long.
At the “Firs” her many visitors from all walks of life received a most kindly welcome.
“HAME O’ MINE”
It’s maybe not a Mansion
Wi’ its Turrets in the sky,
But there’s aye a friendly welcome
For those who come “in by”.
Very little remains of the “Firs”, only a small piece of wall and some flowers still bloom in the garden.
During the war a contingent of Indians were stationed at Knock Distillery and when they left they wrote Margaret thus:-
“You is writings us in your book, dear old mammy. I think so we will always remember you. All Indian mans speak happy of Knock and all kind mammys. Will you please make writings our names.
Extract from a letter written to Margaret by one of these men of 3rd Indian Contingent.
Meg was always in demand at Church fetes and galas in her role as a fortune teller and there was always a queue of women waiting outside her tent to hear what the future would hold for them.
She was a kind of ‘Agony Aunt’ in her columns in the ‘Banffie’, which she always started “My Dear Quines and my Dear Loons” giving friendly advice to her many correspondents.
Sadly, after a long illness, Margaret died at Foresterhill on 10th May 1952 and was laid to rest in Grange churchyard on Wednesday 14th May in the “presence of a large company of mourners”.