[Gordon Easton] [Sings]
A plooin match here I'll insert,
Which made oor plooman chiels divert,
Although it rhymes I'm nae expert,
I'll try my best this mornin.
This match came aff in Tyrie Perish,
The oot turn for't wis pretty fairish,
Although the day wis rither airish,
They got het sarks that mornin.
Mains o Mcknagran wis the place,
An Mr Lovie did them embrace,
An gart the ploomen say their grace,
Or they begun that mornin.
Twis February the twinty-saicant,
That self same day we were expectin,
Awite Mcknagran wisna vacant
Wi men an horse that mornin.
The day was fresh ??? fixed,
Their numbers I will tell ye next,
Wis fower an twinty ploomen met,
Upon the place that mornin.
The ??? seemed nae coowards,
The ploos were resting on their boards,
Their coulters shining sharp as swords,
In the rising sun that morning.
While in a group they a' did stan,
Their tickets drew wi anxious hand,
Ilk een thinkin he'd be the man,
As sure's a gun that mornin.
??? wi im I wis fair delighted,
Fin eence I saw em a' united,
Ma heart wis pleasure a' excited,
Four storeys high that mornin.
They did their work in first-rate style,
According ti their different style,
It seems as if they'd a' hid ile,
Among their joints at mornin.
The judge was mister Garden Walls,
Eir neiper fairmer fae Blackhills,
Fa's judgement satisfied their wills,
As near's he could that mornin.
En John Jaffray fairmer West Greenburn,
A-judgin dis his ??? turn,
An unjust judgement John wid spurn,
Especially that mornin.
They ??? the prizes they'd award,
As follows by our simple bard,
For standin close to them ower hard,
Proclaimed aloud that mornin.
Charlie Alexander first did stand,
Although he's but a little man,
He showed em a' that wis on the land,
The wey to plough that mornin.
??? Mr Lovie's ???
For Charlie's beasts they been braid
George Willox, fairmer, ???
The second prize is his they claimed,
For it was Geordie's anxious aim,
He did his best that mornin.
And Johnnie Chalmer's fairmer's son,
Fae South Blackhills the third did win,
And thought his pairt he'd manly done,
To skirt wi it at mornin.
Fourth William Alexander, mason,
Fas work that time had nae been praising,
Come ower and gied em a' a lesson,
Upon the plough that mornin.
Twis fae Geordie Morris, Auchentongue,
Unless required that mornin.
Mark Andrew White, servant Wellheid,
Nae doubt fit he'd been wondrous gled,
The second yokin ???
Gained fifth prize that mornin.
George Esslemont, fairmer o Wellheid,
??? For he's himself a-ploughin braid,
He did his best that mornin.
Sixth, Johnny Sim fae Smiddyseat,
His horse and harness wis richt neat,
There wis gey few that could him beat,
Wi falderals that mornin.
Seventh was gained bi Jimmy Piper,
Fae at his ??? held nae ???,
But ower the craggy rocks they'd swipe him,
Wi manly pooer that mornin.
Wis fae Mr Wallace o Whitebog,
That might o got his ??? that roam,
I doubt he filled the leepie cog,
Brought well to them that mornin.
Eighth, Alex Mutch, servant Greenburn,
That ??? gart murn,
I think he may store added turn,
As I would guess that mornin.
Ninth wis gained by William Walls,
Fairmer's son, Mains o Blackhills,
Fas bloomin sheep wis worth four gills,
O ony cowan that mornin.
??? Johnston, fairmer Myrie Dubbs,
By daybreak filled his horse's grubs,
For he hears somethin ???
O ??? gatherin that mornin.
Although the tenth prize Jimmy got,
The hinmaist een o a' the lot,
??? well pleased hung on his coat,
And gaed whistlin hame that mornin.
Miss Mary Low wi active han,
An nimble feet attained the land,
Refreshments gaed to ilkae man
That wis present there that mornin.
Alexander Low then justly ???,
And thanked them wi a warm heart,
For actin sic a friendly pair,
As they did ti him that mornin.
The ploomin hamewards noo retired,
For each their yokin wis expired,
Their work ye fairly wid admire,
If ye'd been ere that mornin.
A friendly ploughin match held at Blackhills,
Tyrie. Composed by William Jaffray, West Greenburn, Tyrie--February,
[Tom McKean] Where did you
first hear that?
[GE] Oh I've heard it fae I wis jist a toddler.
Well it happened jist up the road here, it wis affa local
and we were much involved in it ye see, cause ma great great
great grandfaither, he wis the fairmer at Wellhead and he
put his man up. Andy White did a parting ye see so there wis
a family involvement in it en a. The Low family, door masons
to trade, although they hid the fairm, they hid a lot o illness
in the family that winter and they fell ahint wi their work.
It was the locals it proposed ti haud this ploughin match
ti help em oot wi their spring work, an affa good idea. The
land wis a ploughed up for them and a bit o competition, social
gatherin, it wis great. It wis often taen oot fin er wis a
ceilidh going on doon in the auld hoose, or a gatherin o folk
that wis interested in the Doric, local things or music, this
document wis taen oot en somebody either hid ti, either recite
[TM] So there was a written copy in the house?
[GE] Oh aye there wis a written copy all the
time. In fact it was printed, I think, bit they hid also written
it. There wis an auld fashioned hinging lum in the hoose,
there wis yon calendars wi the pouches in em, and ma granda
used to keep a lot o his important documents just handy aside
in is hoose, stored in is open calendar pouch.
Aye it was prized document,
a lot thought o. It's really a good poem and it involves a
the local districts, well there's a lot o places still in
existence yet ye see, some changed names maybe. Course e families
they've a changed names, it was Esslemont that wis my relation
it were here, George Esslemont. My great grandfaither married
George Esslemont's daughter and took on e tenancy and eventually
bought it, and it's been the Eastons ever since ye see, and
this wis 1866 that the ploughin match, a lang time ago.
[TM] So was the song written out in the family
or printer at that time do you think?
[GE] I canna tell ye that, it wis a printed
form that I saw ye see, goes back a good lot o years. George
Jaffray, one o the judges at the ploughin, it was his son
at composed it, and he wis a soutarman, my great granfather,
apprentice soutar at a soutar's shops up the road here. So
ye see there wis an affa big connection wi the ploughin match
and the composer in the folk that wis takin part.
[TM] And it was important to your father that
somebody sing it?
[GE] Oh aye, as I said there wis a lot o social
evenings doon here, cause they loved music. Ma grunnie wis
a good singer. The local grocer used ti come up every winter,
sometimes twice in a winter, and Mrs McHardie, his grandaughter,
she still lives in Strichen yet, she used to come along wi
him, she sung, and George played the fiddle. It wis the strings,
the heat aff the peat fire, the note hid ti be retuned atween
En at's far I got the pitches in ma
heed, oh I hid a good ear, and I could tune my fiddle afore
I could play it, just listenin to him tuning ower the years
tuning is fiddle. So he got an auld fiddle hame wi him one
night ti string up for me ti play en at wis the start o my
[TM] And on a night like
that the song would be taken out?
[GE] Aye and a' the ither ballads that I sing
ti the present day. A lot o them wis sung, ye see, but is
een wis aye taen oot; it wis in prominence, The Plooin match.
[TM] You think that one was more important to
your father than the others maybe because it was so local?
[GE] Well I would say so, aye, well it wis o
great importance ti them, ye see.
[TM] It certainly ties you to the place.
[GE] That the thing is it involved a' the neighboors
tee, ye see. George Fowlie, up ti a certain stage; he hid
a lot o fiddle pupils. He wis a grocer and also a gardener,
he hid a big garden himsel. Fin the fiddle wis ready I walkit
doon ti e shop--they widnae gie me ma bike in case I fell
aff ma bike and dropped the fiddle, an aboot halfway hame,
fit we came tae Scarehill, I took the fiddle oot the box and
hid a go at it, I got the first bitties o 'There Was A Happy
Land' [laughs]. So, that's the story o the ploughin match.
[TM] So have your children
heard this song as well?
[GE] No I widnae say so. Ethel wis at the college
an so forth as soon as she left the Academy, well awa fae
hame at an early age. Aye she knows about it, well things
were a wee bittie different at this time, we hid our jobs
ti dae, the ceilidhs stopped, the auld folk were awa. Ye see,
ma granda died, just a different wey o life. We hid our living
ti make en at. I gaed oot aboot for music ti the Strathspey
an Reel Society in Fetterangus fae I wis fourteen. Jim Mitchell's
brither up the road here, he wis keen, he wint ti the ???
Reel Society and they broke and he said if I wint ti Fetterangus
will you come ower wi me, so I practised at Fetterangus, twelve
mile or mair, twenty-four mile return.
[TM] So did the nights at home stop when you
[GE] Well more or less, aye there wis an occasional
night wi a younger squad, my age, my cousin up e road here
he played the accordion en in fact he hid a band and I wis
involved in at a while tee. Some o the other members came
in aboot; we often hid a musical evening here, but just occasional--Bertie
Simpson fae Mintlaw, he played accordion, music nae singing;
that wis the finish o the singing.
[TM] How often would there be a sing-song down
at the old house?
[GE] Oh I would say twice in the course o a
week, I would say. George Howie came up, unless somebody popped
in. There wis an auld folk singer across in the moss here,
he used ti come affa occasionally and he wid hae sung 'Bonnie
Ythanside' I jist mind him singin.
[TM] Do you know that one?
[GE] Nae athegither, I've niver sung it. 'Bonnie
Ythanside'; 'Bonnie Lass o Fyvie,' an lots o ither ballads
ye ken, jist things that stick in yer mind. At's aboot it,
it wis jist a younger set up soon efter they pass on.
[TM] What year did your parents pass on?
[GE] Ma granparents, I canna tell ye offhand,
but afore we were married a while. Fifty-five year ago, at's
a good guess.
[TM] When did your parents pass on, your mother
[GE] My father wis killed a lang time ago. My
mother died last year, a year past January, she was eighty-seven.
In fact she gied ma a copy o this in her handwriting maybe
four years ago maybe.
[TM] She had it all in her head then?
[GE] It was mair ma grandfather
and ma granny, the aulder generation ye see, bit ma mither
wis affa enthusiastic tee, she played the fiddle an a'. She
sang awa, I didnae like her singing, maybe she didnae like
my singing I don't know [laughs].
[TM] That's interesting that one or two people
every generation have thought this an important song and remembered
[GE] It's been kept in existence ye see, some
things fa by the wayside, but as far as our hoosehold went
it's something I heard as muckle when I wis young, I wid never
forget. That's the first time I've sung it, I've hummed awa
at bitties oh it, but I dinna really ken it withoot the words
in the front. Social history right enough, it involves, An
affa lot o the places are still in existence yet.
[TM] Could we go through it then and have a look at some of
them? So where is Mains of Mcknagran?
[GE] Well it's just up there, you were jist
looking at it, the brae, through the trees ye dinna see the
hooses for is double tree here, just aboot half a mile up
[TM] Is that North?
[GE] No at's West. Southwest it would be. It's
a hill nae so high as Mormon.
[TM] Is the farm still there?
[GE] Aye, at's Mitchell's home. No, no it's
16 Blackhills but Mcknagran is the name o it, at's the hill
o McNagran that's marked on a the maps.
[TM] Mr Low was the tenant there?
[GE] He wis the tenant at at time, aye. His
family were masons but they also hid the plough tee, jist
as a standby.
[TM] And Mcknagran is the place that the ploughing
[GE] Aye, that's fit the verse says, ye see.
[TM] Aye one of my favourite expressions guid
fegs. Now, Mr Gordon Walls?
[GE] Well he wis doon Mains o Blackhills at's
far Lovie stays now, doon past the quarry a bit aye at wis
Mains o Blackhills, well there wis relations o oors in Mains
o Blackhills, tae ye see.
[TM] He was the judge?
[GE] He wis one o judges and John Jaffray, at's
far he stayed across here far ma cousin is, at West Kinburn.
Nearer han than Mitchell's jist through the trees here, twa
parks awa, that's his trees that ye see doon below. 
An it wis his son at wis the apprentice soutar wi my great
grandfather. It wis him that composed 'The Ploughin Match'.
[TM] And where did they work
at the soutaring?
[GE] Up the road a bit further, the next place
past Mitchell's on the right-hand side. Golden Square, 17
Blackhills, but it got the name o Golden Square at one time.
[TM] Why was that, do you know?
[GE] No I canna tell ye why it got Golden Square.
[TM] Interesting name.
[GE] Any it is interesting. They hid a hoose
and a high building en the soutar's shop wis doon below and
the apprentice soutar slept up in e top in e loft, at wis
far they slept.
[TM] So the apprentice soutar would not have
gone home in the evening?
[GE] Well I dinna ken fit they'd dee, maybe
oot courting or hame ti see their folks. Oh I they wid hae
gone hame ti see their folks, but ye see my great grandfather's
folk were nae here fin he wis apprentice soutar, his folk
hid another place ower at New Pitsligi, the Esslemonts were
here ye see and he eventually married, there wis two Esslemont
lassies, never a son, at's why it wis aye passed on is place
cause it wis aye female children they hid, aye somebody else
married in an took ower: ???, Mitchells, Eastons, it jist
continued fae there. There wis aye a grandson, well fin they
left the school he wis aye taen hame ti work ti let the older
eens awa ti dae apprenticeship or ti gae them a chance in
life. So at's how I landed here and niver got oot o it.
[TM] John Jaffray just over there?
[GE] Aye and Charlie Alexander. Well he must
hae been foreman at Hillhead ye see cause it was Hillhead's
horse that he hid. He must hae been foreman ploughman at Hillhead
o Tyrie and that's jist doon, ye ken, past the quarry, at
Smiddyseat Quarry; straight doon e road there's a crossroads,
turn right en up at the next crossroads the fairm immediately
on your right. He got the fairmer's horse, it was Mr Lovie
that wis fairmer at Hillhead right enough. En George Willox
doon at shop far George Fowlie hid e shop in Tyrie there wis
e fairm which hid nithing ado wi the shop, e shop wis the
either side o the road. An is George Willox, he shifted fae
this Cauldhame till Mains o Blackhills efter at Walls wint
oot. En his grandson wis my step-father fin ma dad wis killed
ma mum married Jim Willox ye see, so we're a' involved ye
see. He died four-five year ago and ma mum died a year ago.
So at's the Cauldhame. It's oot o existence noo; it's part
o South Whitewell, now the Duffus' place. There wis five little
places a' gaed thegither ti make a better fairm and at made
South Whitewell, but the hooses were ere. They used it as
a cottar hoose, the craft hoose, up ti maybe twenty years
ago, but it's jist a ruin now. We mind families biding in
[TM] How big were all the holdings round here?
Were they much the same size?
[GE] No, there wis a' different sizes. Es een
across here, George Jaffray's een, is twice size. There wid
be forty-six acre here at e time o George Esslemont wis, but
as soon as he grew auld he let a bit o it awa cause he felt
he wisnae fit ti cope wi it, reduced e size o it a bittie.
And Mitchell's place up e road I wid say thirty-five acres
maybe Mcknagran. Hillhead it could maybe one hundred and twenty
acres. Now South Blackhills I think at's exactly far Lovie's
Quarry is, there's a wee bit o a debate aboot is. The hoose
is still standing in e steadings still standing bit it wis
a hilly place, but it's a' levelled aff. So at wis South Blackhills
as far as we're aware.
Johnny Chalmers, I dinna mind on Chalmers, but I jist heard
it through this thing. William Alexander, he wis a mason,
noo I dinna ken far e devil he came fae. He came ower and
gave em a' a lesson on the plough at morning because his work
wid hae been pushing him. George Murray at wid hae been aboot
thirty-five acres, jist straight up e road here aboot a mile,
a' planted in trees noo, the hoose and e steadings still there
en it's an Englishman who bought it wi two-three acres o land.
There wis another lad bought
a lot o the places, Dr Banks, wisnae an Englishman, I dinna
think. He took on is ???, got a the grants that wis available
en he bought is Auchentumb, he began ti feel e pinch after
he got a his grants used up, he sold the hooses, steadings
and bittie ground wi them. He sold three holdings, the hoose,
steadings and maybe three or four acres o ground, so it's
a planted wi trees.
And Andrew White he wis e servant
here ye see, they hid as muckle ground here, as auld Esslemont
employed a young loon.
[TM] So what size is this now?
[GE] Oh thirty odd acre, it was fourty-five
acre, at's fin the auld man leased a bit o it ti the next
fairm doon the road here. Up ti that point he needed a man
ti work it, but that wis aboot the last o his days ye see
he wis coming on. I dinna cane how auld he wis without research,
but he wis ere at the ploughin match, cause the man who composed
it wis an apprentice soutar wi my granda, they could hae been
eighteen, maybe less, cause they wid hae left the school maybe
twelve at at time.
[TM] Well they might not have been at school
before the Education Act.
[GE] Yes there were at school cause ma granda
gaed ti the Tyrie School. His father wi a toll keeper, they
hid the tolls on the roads en the women were usually the toll
keeper and fir carts, cattle or sheep they opened the gates
and charged a certain amount and at wis used to keep the roads
in good conditions. It wis sort o a business ye see, my grandfather
hid a pair o horse en twa carts and they ca'd stuff to repair
the roads and worked on e roads steady. Also doon at Maud
and doon at Auchmore, sometimes moved on ti a better ene if
they could afford it, eventually they finished up at Burley,
Toll o Burley, at's still in existence yet, as a lodge. They
hid 30 acre of land, fit's caed the Toll Park noo, far he
grazed his horse en got his hay, coos and so forth. They took
on a bit o land, still in the Burley Estate, en ma granda
and his sister were put up ti it as soon they got a hoose
by it. In fact the haill of Scotland taen in by pick and spad,
ye ken, afore mechanical means o daein it, it wis a' trenched
in fae the heather, steens, hell of a work, ti see it gan
ti ruin now. So they got a hoose up in e steading, wis excavated
jist intae face o hill and thatched ti start wi. My great
granda and his sister wis puttan up ti look after it once
they hid stock there.
[TM] What was your great grandfather's name?
[GE] Thomas Easton. He wid hae sorted is beasts
afore he wint awa ti his apprentice soutaring. He wid hae
stayed at hame well after they hid the place and sorted em
again fin he came back at night. It wis jist how folk lived
it at time. Do you know aboot Smiddyseat. Well the neipering
fairm doon e road here bought Smiddyseat aboot six years ago,
the twa men, well guy auld lads getting the Marsh's they retired
so Keith ma neighbour doon e road bought Smiddyseat, between
eighty-ninety acre, a right good place. So after he hid it
bought he selt the hoose and steading ti a young chappie and
he dinna hae the hoose and steading now but he's got the land.
Jimmy Piper, aye well he must hae been man at Whitebog. Whitebog's
just across, far Isobel's dad wis, queer how it a knits in.
Is Jimmy Piper must hae been man ti Wallace o Whitebog, south
east fae here. Well there wis families o Wallace, generations
o em in Whitebog, wis a tenanted place. Soon efter is auld
man Wallace grew auld and dottled he couldna handle e fairm,
but wis determined ti stay on, but died, but soon the place
came up for let and her dad took it, hid a place doon aside
the Broch, a smaller een, but he came up ti Whitebog, it wis
a good bit bigger bit hid a lot o moss ye see, rough kind
o grun, he improved it affa taking stones and draining it
in so forth.
Lot o folk used to cast peats oot it, he also grazed his sheep
in parts o it, aye the bits that wisnae dangerous. 120 acre
in Whitebog I think, they did well on it. Up on the moss it
got rocky steady, jist is barrier o stones, twa paths, workable,
but a good lot o stones in em. But further up intae moss wis
pure moss, nae production aff it. Do you know what a leapie
cog is? We'll it's a measure for the horse corn ye ken.
[TM] I've heard of a leapie.
[GE] Well at's the leapie, just a square it
held a measure o corn in yer horse got a half or hail measure,
fitever size and condition yer horse wis in. 'So I doubt he
filled the leapie cog gey well to them that mornin.'
Alex Mutch, servant, Greenburn,
that's jist the place doon the hill here. It's between Whitebog
and here, ye see a these places. Well he wis horseman at Greenburn,
the heather, guy rough in the hill ere, good grun, but heather
and winds and he wid hae landed a harder kind o bit. Ninth
wis William Walls, fairmer's son Mains o Blackhills, that's
a son o the judge, he wis Gordon Walls en is is William Walls,
fairmer Sim, Mains o Blackhills whose ploughmanship wis 4
gills to ony cowan. Do you know what a cowan is? Well a cowan's
jist a bit o nae top notch, nae a perfectionist, nae a first-class
worker. Well he wis well back on the prizelist ninth place
ye see, well that's him, better than fifteen others anyway.
And see here James Johnston,
fairmer, Myriedubs, that's the place aside Auchentumb tae,
thirty-five acres I see. I like is een.
[TM] What's crubs
[GE] Well it's their manger, cribs for haudin
the food. Some say here somethin tae your gabs, but I like
at better I think at's fit my granda hid in his, gabs that
your moo, their gabs, at's okay but the cribs/crubs at wis
the manger. Miss Mary Low, she wis the daughter, 'Miss Mary
Low wi active han, en nimble feet attend the land'. She wis
dishing oot refreshments among em, she wis an active quine.
He's her dad Alexander Low the fairmer again, or mason, fitever
ye wint tae call him. Then justly saired, he wis fair chuffed
at getting is and thanked em wi a warm heart, as they did
ti him at mornin.
I think is is good ti, 'the
ploughmin hamewards noo retired for eence their yokin wis
expired'. It takes a bit reading is ye see. I think it's great,
but somebody nae interested in the countryside or Doric widnae
think it, but as for your project it should fit the bill ye
[TM] Just gives me a picture of the whole place
that I wouldn't have.
[GE] Athings in sight o here.
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