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List of Patients, Smallpox Hospital, Mounthooly
Pitsligo School Log Book 1874-1912
Lieutenancy Book, County of Roxburgh, 1797-1802
Memoirs of James Smith, Stonemason, Dundee
Wick Harbour Trust Minute Book, 1880-1886
Kilsyth Heritors' Minutes 1813-1844
Description of the Isles of Orkney, 1684
Minute Book, Perthshire Highway Commisioners
Notes on 'Old Rock' Shetland, c. 1889-90
Cess Book, County of Lanarkshire, 1724-1725
Stirling Town Council Minutes 11847-64

  Memoirs of James Smith, Stonemason, Dundee, 1805-c1869 Dundee City Archives (GD/Mus 29/1)


The item in the Virtual Vault selected from Dundee City Archives is the volume containing the memoirs and dairy of James Smith, a stonemason in the nineteenth century.

In reality very few people keep memoirs for any significant length of time, and that those who do have usually received a formal education. These facts, combined with the fact that the author was intelligent and observant in his travels through Scotland, make the survival and existence of this slim volume all the more remarkable.

James was born Whitehills, Banffshire, in 1805, and received a basic elementary education in the parish school. He worked on local farms until he started an apprenticeship with a stonemason in Banff in 1825. He moved to Perth in 1830, travelling by fishing boat as far as Montrose.

Moving again to Dundee 1834, he described his varied contracts there such as Tay Square Church and houses at Craig Pier, and a baptismal font for the church in Meadow Place. He suffered from bone disease after 1847, and described his symptoms and treatment with stomach churning accuracy. Everyday comments on working life on the farm and as a craftsman are interspersed with domestic disbursements, together with notes on the Crimean War and the railway at Turriff, and. A fervent Christian, his memoirs include a sermon on the First Epistle of Peter.

This unique record has something for every reader; a rivetting stream of consciousness from a self taught man who suffered bereavement and physical pain, an observant commentary on everyday domestic and working life in rural and urban Scotland and the resilience with which a migratory worker dealt with changing circumstances.


There are 199 pages in this volume. For a comprehensive look at the volume, you are advised to start with page 1 and then page through the whole volume. To go straight to particular years or events, click on the folio number from the table below. The handwriting is quite small and difficult to decipher in places. Please note that these images are large (between 150k and 220k) and could take some considerable time to download depending on the speed of your Internet connection.

Folio Contents
ff. 4-5 Born 1805 Whitehills, p. Boyndie (co. Banffshire), educated at Parish School, worked on a farm near Whitehills, 1817, then on Lintmill farm Nov. 1818
ff. 6-7 Describes work at Lintmill through winter; cowherding; farmer factor to Colonel Grant of Cullen House;
ff. 7-8 Engaged as herdsman by another farmer 1818; describes corn flail
f. 9 Engaged to drive horses on hire to plough by Wm. Mitchell from Portsoy, ground officer to Colonel Grant 1823;
ff. 10-13 Engaged as apprentice to Jas. Hendry, mason, Banff 1825; work on country house near Turriff; stone quarried in Morayshire and shipped to Banff harbour
f. 14 Cutting grave stones 1827;
ff. 15-16 Ends apprenticeship 1828; failed to get work on granite house near [Aberchirder] ('Forgylone'); worked for mason near Whitehills;
ff. 17-22 Worked for bro. in-law in Banff working stone at harbour to save cartage; travelled to Perth 1829; refers to capture of MacPherson the sheep stealer;
ff. 23, 24 Return to Whitehills
ff. 25, 26 Returned to Perth, travelling on a fishing boat as far as Montrose 1830
ff. 27-29 Flood in Perth 1830; married Mary Justice dau. of Jas. Justice, blacksmith, Perth 25 June 1831; left for Dundee 1834; refers to Mr Burns an evangelical preacher, who started a congregation in Perth, and differences between Burns and [Shobotham ?]
ff. 29-32 Formation of Christian Mission in Dundee by Burns and Boase; joined prayer meeting run by Mr McCally, bookseller, Perth;
ff. 33,34 Engaged to work on church in Tay Square 1834; reconstitution of Perth meeting as a 'Church under the Apostles' 6 May 1835;
f. 34 Copy letter from Mr Pitcairn, 23 November 1835 stating 'That Apostle are now spreading the case of Dundee'
ff. 35-43 Work of Apostolic Church in Dundee 1835-1843
f. 43 Work as mason in Dundee 1836-1839 on houses at Craig Pier; engaged to take Dundee and Western Bank parcels to Edinburgh once a week;
f. 44 Jemima born 9 May 1846; wife died of TB 13 September 1846;
f. 45 Suffers from 'gravel' [gallstones], describes treatment by pharmacist;
ff. 46-47 Commissioned by Mr Boase to build a baptismal font for church in Meadow Place; also built one for church in Edinburgh; describes accompanying stone on carts by foot to Edinburgh
f. 48 Married Ann Donald from Cornwall 27 June 1847
ff. 49-52 Toe amputated; returns to Whitehills to convalesce
f. 53 Returned to Dundee 1848; opened a shop in Scouringburn 1850
ff. 55, 56 Referred to Edinburgh for medical examination by Professor Syme 1853; referred to Stirling
[57,58] [Numbers not used]
f. 59 Supported by s. John and Church 'Tithe'; son joined ship bound for Constantinople 1855, refers to Crimean War;
ff. 60-63 Returns to Whitehills to convalesce; refers to railway to Turriff; son John dies of fever in West Indies;
f. 65 Dundee Church bought property from Boase 1860;
f. 67 New Church completed 1867;
ff. 68-107 [blank]
ff. 108-120 Domestic accounts of disbursements 1831-1868
ff. 121-123 [blank]
ff. 124-130 Cash received 1837-1869
ff. 131, 132 [blank]
ff. 133-142 Tax, gas and rent accounts 1832-1868
ff. 145-150 'Remarks' and commentary on scriptures
ff. 151-166 [blank]
ff. 167-177 'Remarks' on politics on the work of the Church and draft sermon
ff. 178,179 [blank]
ff. 180-192 Domestic accounts of disbursements 1854-1855
f. 193 [blank]
ff. 194-199 Sermon on the First Epistle of Peter