KEITH & STRATHISLA DURING WWI
Wednesday 1 Norman Harley from Kirkcudbright took up his duties as the new Postmaster in Keith. William Neish of the Post Office in Mulben applied to the Upper District Military Tribunal meeting in Dufftown for an exemption for his employee who was the only shoemaker between Craigellachie and Keith. A temporary exemption to the end of the month was granted. One of the subjects at Newmill Literary Society’s weekly meeting was ‘Extracts from a Diary on a Tour in Palestine.’ In the Keith Royal Oak treating case, following a High Court decision, the Sheriff at Banff repelled the objections made by licence holder John Sandison’s solicitor. The case would now go to trial. Botriphnie School Board agreed to allocate one Humphrey Bursary of £10 tenable for four years.
Thursday 2 Keith School Board decided to apply to the Military Tribunal for an exemption for their assistant science teacher John T. Stephen. When told Huntly had been obliged to engage a female science teacher at a salary of £140, Chairman Rev. W.H. Macfarlane exclaimed: “We can’t have two ladies.” “Why not? Huntly has.” was the reply.
Pte Douglas James Davidson of the Gordon Highlanders was killed in a charge against the enemy trenches. He was 18 years old and had worked at Isla Bank Mills.
Friday 3 There was applause at the Annual Meeting of the Highland Railway in Inverness when the Chairman announced there was no intention to keep the Keith-Buckie line closed once they had sufficient staff to re-open it. Mr J.W. Kynoch of Isla Bank Mills was re-elected a Director of the Railway. The annual children’s concert at Crossroads raised £6 6s for the Grange Red Cross Society.
Pte James Johnstone of the 1st Gordon Highlanders was killed in action. He is remembered on the Rothiemay War Memorial and on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres in Belgium.
Saturday 4 The Fiars Court to fix the county prices of grain crop for 1915 was held at Banff before Sheriff Dudley Stuart. Local jurors were George Cameron of Bogbain, Thomas B. Horsfall of Braco and John Macpherson of Mulben. The Chancellor of the Jury was Mr McIntosh of Banff. The prices struck were the highest for many years. The shop at 58 Main Street, Newmill, was advertised to let. Mitchell the Draper was advertising the first delivery of new Spring Millinery today. Mr John Macpherson was re-elected Chairman of the Central Banffshire Farmers’ Club. A decision on holding their Summer Show 1916 was deferred till May. The Banffshire Herald featured an article on L/Cpl Alexander Dow, 6th Seaforth Highlanders. He was from Archiestown and already had about sixty successes in his role as a counter-sniper at the Front.
Monday 6 A whip and driving rug were lost on the road between Keith and Dufftown. J. Keane opened his tailor and ladies’ costume maker’s business at Drummuir. T.V. Taylor of Fife-Keith’s buyers announced their departure for London to procure new season’s stock. Following a decision by the Wines and Spirits Brand Association to increase the price per bottle by 6d, Keith Licence Holders’ agreed new prices took effect for whisky, rum and gin: now 3d per nip, 4d per noggin and 5d per glass.
Tuesday 7 The military authorities would allow the burning of heather and whins during daylight hours only up to April 11th. Justices of the Peace of the county met in Banff and appointed Alexander Auchinachie as Fiscal for the Upper District at a salary of £12 10s and Alexander Thomson, Sheriff Officer, Keith, as Constable to the JP Court. Keith Parish Council agreed to grant the usual five guinea donation to the Keith and District Nursing Association. The Keith treating case, involving several farm servants from Botriphnie, came to trial at Banff Sheriff Court. John Sandison of the Royal Oak pled guilty and was fined 40 shillings.
Wednesday 8 A well-attended whist drive in aid of patriotic purposes was held in the Masonic Lodge in Reidhaven Square. Thomas Davidson of Drummuir Kennels won several prizes with his Silver Dorkings at the Aberdeen Spring Show. Banffshire War Workers’ Association agreed their two receiving depots would be Rosemount, Buckie, for the Lower District and Drummuir Castle for the Upper District of the county. Drummuir had already processed 38,000 articles for distribution to the forces since the start of the War.
Thursday 9 Sillyearn and Stripeside Districts Stock Improvement Society announced the availability of their three bulls, two Aberdeen-Angus and a Shorthorn. Rebel Mexican general Pancho Villa launched a raid across the border into the United States. The Married Servants’ Fair was held at Cornhill. Germany declared war on Portugal.
Friday 10 The County Committee of the Banffshire branch of the British Red Cross Society met in the Keith Institute and heard from County President Mrs Gordon-Duff that 326 patients had passed through Earlsmount Hospital so far. There were now 30 work parties operating in Banffshire.
Saturday 11 The Banffshire Herald reported that the proceeds from the recent concert at Mulben amounted to £6.0.9d and had been given to the Auchlunkart, Mulben and Forgie Ladies’ Work Party. Harold Wilson, future Labour Party Leader and Prime Minister, was born in Huddersfield.
Monday 13 Miss Barbara McWilliam, teacher at Crossroads, who was leaving for a new post in Inverness-shire, was presented with a Gordon tartan travelling rug, a writing case and a fountain pen by Lizzie Robertson of Myrietown. Keith Town Council agreed to a weekly penny collection in the burgh by the local Red Cross. It was reported there were 11 private slaughter houses in the town sending most of their carcases to London and 36 registered dairymen keeping 192 cows.
Tuesday 14 At Banff, the Sheriff sentenced a Keith youth, convicted of theft, to eight strokes of the birch. Marnan Fair was held at Aberchirder.
Wednesday 15 The Banffshire (Control of Dogs) Order of 1915 came into force. It aimed to prevent the menace of dogs straying at night. Newmill Literary Society held their last meeting of the season.
Thursday 16 Keith Burgh Military Tribunal met. Thirteen cases were examined and various temporary, conditional and absolute exemptions were granted. Among the refusals was the one requested by Keith School Board for their Grammar School assistant science master. British troops from Anglo-Egyptian Sudan crossed into Darfur in an attempt to crush the Sultanate of Ali Dinar, who had declared his support for the Ottoman Empire.
Friday 17 The premiere of Fife-Keith musician Miss Ada Sharpe’s composition ‘Echoland’ took place in the Tivoli in Aberdeen. The waltz, played by the theatre’s orchestra, was described in the Aberdeen Evening Gazette as ‘singularly sweet and unaffected.’ A Grand Evening Entertainment by an Elgin troupe under Mr J. Barr Cochrane was held in the Longmore Hall in aid of war charities.
Saturday 18 Botriphnie Boy Scouts had sent 246 eggs to the National Egg Collection. Excellent weather, the best of the season so far, attended the Keith annual Cottar Market. Wages were very high with some positions going unfilled. Increased numbers of ladies coming to the Red Cross Work Party forced a move from the Masonic Lodge to the Institute. A police operation, directed by the Keith Inspector sitting up a tree in the garden of Earlsmount, caught a Mulben carter coming out of the back door of the Isla Bar into the Mount Brae after hours with two pint bottles of whisky.
Sunday 19 The subject of Rev. Weir’s talk at the Bible class at Rothiemay U.F. Church was The Disruption. A local tradition has it that an incident in Grange was a precursor to The Disruption of 1843 in the Church of Scotland. A catty remark by Mrs Margaret Edward, the wife of the Grange headmaster, about table arrangements at a dinner party given by Mrs Mary Duff, the wife of the minister of Grange, led to much ill feeling and laid the foundation for a series of disputes within the local Presbytery. When Mr Edward, who was also an assistant minister, was presented as minister to the Parish of Marnoch, this resulted in the celebrated walk out in 1841 and eventually to The Disruption and the establishment of the Free Church of Scotland in 1843.
Monday 20 Edingight and Sillyearn Horticultural Society’s were celebrating their 35th anniversary but decided at their AGM to defer a decision on holding their Flower Show until June. Miss Cumming from Craigellachie was appointed cookery teacher at Keith.
Tuesday 21 The Sheriff at Banff Juvenile Court fined two youths ten shillings or five days in jail for interfering with the dam on the farm of Paithnick in Grange. British troops forced the Germans to retreat from the Kiliminjaro area of Tanganyika in East Africa. The farmer at Windyraw was advertising a blue hummel cow for sale.
Wednesday 22 Grange School Board decided to transfer newly appointed assistant teacher Miss Thomson from Crossroads to Sillyearn and to invest funds in the Great North of Scotland Railway Company at 5%. The short-lived revival of the Chinese Empire came to an end with the abdication of Yuan Shikai as Emperor and the resurrection of the Republic of China.
Thursday 23 Keith Scottish Mothers’ Union met for their quarterly meeting in the YWCA Hall.
Friday 24 Keith Grammar School poultry management and butter making class presented their teacher, Miss Ireland, with a leather attache case and a silver-mounted inkstand. Grange Red Cross Society, meeting in Whitehill Manse, heard that the parish had contributed over £400 towards war funds. Miss Elma Slorach was presented with a leather travelling case on the occasion of her leaving Sillyearn School for Aberdeen.
Saturday 25 A house and shop at 87 Mid Street with back premises suitable for a Lemonade Factory was for let. Drummuir and Park Estates advertised Mossend of Broomhill for let. The Military Medal was instituted. An appeal by the Banffshire League of Honour asked all members to donate 3d to endow a bed in one of the Scottish Womens’ Hospitals abroad. The appeal was endorsed by Dr Elsie Inglis who had recently returned from Serbia.
Sunday 26 The worst weather of the winter continued with blizzards in the area.
Monday 27 Keith Burgh Tribunal was attended by Major Murray, Chief Recruiting Officer for Scotland.
Tuesday 28 James Watt, Isla Bar, Fife-Keith, was found guilty of supplying alcohol outwith the permitted hours and in quantities of less than the required quart measures. He was fined £10 or 30 days in jail.
Pte Alexander Macfarlane, 6th Gordon Highlanders, aged 22, died of pneumonia on hospital in Rouen in France. He had been a farm servant and was the son of Alexander McFarlane of Broughnamary, Mulben. He is remembered on the war memorials in Glenrinnes and Mulben.
Wednesday 29 A Grand American Tea was held in the Longmore Hall. Nobody could tell why it was so called; it was essentially a fund-raising compulsory bring-and-buy sale.
Thursday 30 McWillie the Butcher was opening a new shop at 116 Moss Street. In Upper Banffshire a thaw set in giving some relief from the worst winter since the mid-1890s.
Friday 31 J.J. Gray of Mid Street began their 3-day Spring and Summer Show.
Pte George Smith of the 1st Gordon Highlanders was killed in action. His sacrifice is commemorated on the memorials at Ypres and in Rothiemay.