A ‘dutiful relative, attached friend and obliging neighbour’

I have not yet come across a gravestone which notes that a man hit his wife, neglected his children or manipulated his neighbours. We tend to pass over people’s failings when designing permanent memorials. A brief note of names and dates might cover a multitude of sins. It would be wise to take with a bucketful of salt some of the glowing descriptions of men on their headstones. Social conventions, privacy, fear, selective memory and family pride are strong. However what inscriptions are wonderful for, is telling us about ideals, particularly about how men were meant to relate to other people.

William Gray (1787-1866) from Dornoch was apparently a ‘dutiful relative, attached friend and obliging neighbour’. Men were meant to have positive connections with their community, their friends and their family. Together, they epitomised the character of the ideal nineteenth-century man.

An ‘obliging neighbour’

The most common words used to describe how a man was felt about in the wider community were esteemed, respected, admired and, occasionally, honoured or revered. Adam Murray (1818-1893), a man of noted piety from Badninish, a crofting area in east Sutherland, was ‘esteemed by all who knew him’. The monument to James Ellison (d. 1870), a doctor in Tain, was ‘erected as a public testimony of the respect and esteem in which he was held’.

The next most commonly used words are of tenderness: loved, beloved, affectionate or, occasionally, endeared or cherished. William Ross (1807-69) was Dingwall’s ‘beloved physician’; William Melville (1841-72), Dornoch’s schoolteacher, was ‘respected by all who knew him and his kindness to the young endeared to them his memory’.

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Dornoch, from Easter Ross. Photo: Elizabeth Ritchie.

A few inscriptions describe a man’s feelings towards the community. Thomas MacBeath (1782-1859), the catechist at Dornoch Free Church, found affection was reciprocal as ‘his affectionate and faithful discharge of duty endeared him to the congregation’. Alexander Stewart (1794-1847), an influential Cromarty minister, cleaved ‘to his flock with an affection which time seemed to increase’. While I would caution against necessarily believing any inscription, the letters and memoirs of two of Stewart’s flock, Lydia and Hugh Miller, do suggest he was widely liked.[1]

An ‘attached friend’

When a man’s gravestone talks about his friendship, it doesn’t tie him to specific friends. Friendship is treated more as an attribute. It was often paired with an adjective: sincere, steadfast, true, attached, sympathising, faithful. Angus Leslie (1783-1850) of Torboll on Loch Fleet, formerly a lieutenant in the 3rd Sutherland Highlanders, was ‘unwavering in his friendship’. On his death his friends experienced ‘heartfelt sorrow’. Donald Campbell MacDonald (1834-1904) was born in Glenurquhart, but spent forty years ministering to the congregation of Kilmuir Easter. He was a ‘steadfast friend’. Manly friendship was expected to be warm, strong and consistent.

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Torboll Farm is just visible in the distance, in front of the green field. Taken from the Mound, an engineering marvel which Angus Leslie would have witnessed being built. Photo: Elizabeth Ritchie.

A ‘dutiful relative’

Most gravestones commemorate family relationships. Usually they simply list wife and offspring. Being the head of a household was an important marker of manliness. However the longer inscriptions show family meant more than personal status.

The most important attributes of family men were affection and duty. Robert Riddle (1819-1891) in Tain was ‘a beloved husband and kind father’, while the happy Sutherland family in Morness, Rogart, were blessed with Donald (1803-1884) ‘an exemplary husband and parent.’

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Rogart. Photo: Elizabeth Ritchie

Stereotype of Victorian fathers are stern. The evidence of headstones does not bear this out. Donald Sutherland (1815-1854) from Rosskeen was pretty typical, being described as ‘affectionate’. He was only 39 when he died, so it is likely that his wife chose this wording. Sometimes men erected monuments to their own children. They often revealed deep feelings. James Mackintosh, teacher at Dalnabreac, Rogart, commemorated his ‘beloved children’, May and Archibald, who both died aged 20 in the 1860s. Manliness meant more than the fact of parenthood, or the authority derived from it. It was grounded in heartfelt emotion.

As husbands, men were also to be dutiful and affectionate. With the rise in companionate marriage in the early nineteenth century, when spouses were selected based on considerations of the heart as much as of the bank balance, it might be expected that duty words would give way to affection words. There is no sign of this. They exist togehter throughout the century, frequently combined on the same inscription. In Creich, William Calder (1795-1867) was ‘an affectionate & dutiful Husband’. The nature of husbandly duties is not explained, but they probably included material provision, protection and sobriety.

A few men poured out their hearts. In 1823 thirty year old Esther Grant died. She was buried ‘by her ever bereaved husband Alexander MacKay Invershin’.[2] MacKay was eighteen years older than she. He was settled in life and able to afford an expensive table stone. A cynic might note this was a visible symbol of his wealth and status. A romantic might note the poignancy of his inscription. The likelihood that many women died as a result of complications from pregnancy or childbirth may have added shock and perhaps guilt to a widower’s grief.

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Esther Grant, ever-beloved by Alexander MacKay. Photo: Elizabeth Ritchie.

In adulthood, a man did not abdicate responsibility for his birth family. Forty seven year old William Ross, presumably a bachelor, died in 1867. His sister Mary, who may well have lived with him, erected a stone for ‘her affectionate brother’. A good man was expected to continue to be a good son. John MacDonald (1845-98), from Ballinoe, Ardgay, died at fifty three. Again he was probably a bachelor and his mother, with whom he may have lived, noted he was ‘a dutiful son’.

Such public displays of loving and being loved suggest family life was meant to be warm and kindly. A man was expected first to perform his duty towards dependent family members, and then to have the ability to feel and to elicit tenderness from wife, children, siblings or parents. The ideal man also had broader reciprocal relationships of affection and respect with friends, neighbours, a church congregation, or even the whole community.

Nineteen year old Walter Ross from Wester Fearn had little chance to make an impact on the world by his actions. But when he died in 1845, it was by the quality of his relationships that he was remembered. His gravestone reads: ‘in love he lived, in peace he died’.


[1] Letter cited in Elizabeth Sutherland, Lydia: Wife of Hugh Miller of Cromarty (East Lothian: Tuckwell, 2002), 50-51; Hugh Miller, My Schools and Schoolmasters (Edinburgh: Nimmo, 1869), 371, 409.

[2] His death in 1861 is then commemorated in near identical script, but the form of words leaves little doubt that the stone is contemporaneous with Esther’s death and a particularly careful mason of the 1860s was then employed to engrave his end. It is therefore probable that these words were selected by MacKay himself.

Bessy and John, Part 6: The Kirk Session is Convened

On 9th March Thomas Munro, missionary minister in the parish, rode from his home in Invershin to express his concerns about the gossip surrounding Bessy MacKay’s missing baby to Murdo Cameron, the parish minister of Creich.  Five days after their meeting Murdo saddled up and set out for Invershin to make some enquiries.  The situation was now out in the open.  That evening Bessy called in on Isobel Munro.  Having no mother, and an aunt and father who were in denial, the older, sensible, no-nonsense midwife was the best person to talk it out with.  The next morning, the sixteenth, the minister called an extraordinary meeting of the Kirk Session in Inveran to investigate the case.  Alexander Gray was sent for.  He was a man of many parts who held land in tenancy at Wester Linseidmore, as well as being the Kirk Session officer and a Constable for the County of Sutherland.  He was joined by two other elders, an Alexander Ross and an Andrew MacKay.  MacKay was a fellow tenant at Inveran and probably Bessy’s uncle.  Isobel Munro was asked to attend as a witness due to her midwife expertise.  Isobel arrived in Inveran early and popped in to Aunt Bessy’s house.  Young Bessy was there, ‘crying and in tears’.  Aunt Bessy began declaring that she had ‘never heard anything of the story that was in circulation regarding her niece’s being with child or of her delivery’.  Aunt Bessy had clearly foreseen this day, and all her ignoring of the gossip and of events was leading up to this protestation.  Isobel was having none of this nonsense: ‘oh! Fie! Fie! woman shame and disgrace that [you] should pretend not to have heard what was currently reported in the place’.  Knowing fine well that it had been Aunt Bessy who had organised most of the aftercare for young Bessy, Isobel added ‘it was impossible such a thing could have taken place without her knowledge.’  Isobel told young Bessy quite firmly, perhaps reminding her of the previous evening’s conversation, that it would be better for her to make a full confession to the Session.  Isobel had decided that honesty was the best policy and perhaps also realised that confession and repentance through the Kirk Session had in the past allowed other women in Bessy’s situation, assuming they were not found guilty of child murder, to have their standing in the community restored.

Isobel walked across to the house where the Session was gathered.  She was first to answer their questions and to give her expert opinion on stillbirth.  Stillbirth was clearly going to be the line of defence, leaving Bessy only to face the much lesser crime of ‘concealment of pregnancy’.  After Isobel’s examination came Bessy’s.  She followed Isobel’s advice and acknowledged that she had been pregnant, that she had delivered a child, and that John was the father.  They asked her why she concealed her pregnancy and, rather poignantly, she explained that no-one had asked her so she did not tell.  Her defence was that she believed the child had died in utero.  The Session then had to question John, but he was ill in bed.

The elders, Bessy and both midwives trooped across to the MacKay house.  The minister and the elders went into the bedroom and closed the door behind them.  John confessed that he was the father.  They asked him when he first had ‘criminal connection’ with Bessy and when he said that it was the previous April.  Bessy, who was listening at the door, realised her hastily cobbled-together defence of one sexual experience, a premature birth and a stillborn child was falling apart.  She ‘burst into the Room where the Session sat and heaving seated herself on the side of the Bed in which MacKay was then lying she exclaimed “no no that is not true.  I must not allow that.  You must not murder me at once.”’ and she said that he had ‘no criminal connection with her till the week of the Kincardine Market’.  Bessy ‘was in a rage and seemed much agitated.’  The minister ordered her to ‘quit the room’ but she refused so he ordered two of the men to remove her.  She was promised that as soon as ‘they had finished John MacKay’s declaration she should be called in and made acquainted with everything he had mentioned regarding her.’  She reluctantly left just as John ‘stated in a low tone of voice, that whatever she said he would swear to’.  John had taken charge at the birth but now, as he lay sick, Bessy took the lead.  The Session was thorough in their questions, trying to find out if the baby was premature and therefore likely to have been stillborn.  They asked about how fully formed it was; was it light or heavy; whether it had fingernails or hair; whether it was alive or dead.  He insisted it was dead and that Bessy had been too faint to be aware of it.  Then he stopped answering questions, said he was faintish and called for a drink of water.  John was reluctant to be drawn on where the baby might be.  Bessy knew the body had been a few days in the trunk but didn’t know what he had done with it after.  So the two midwives and Bessy went in to the bedroom and tried to persuade him to tell them what he had done with it.  Christian Ross used every argument she could concoct but all she got out of him was a claim that he ‘had thrown it into the River’ near where the ferry crosses.  Bessy objected, exclaiming that he had not.  Eventually he told them.

To be continued…Image

The river ‘near where the ferry crosses’.  Photograph from collection of Elizabeth Ritchie.

National Archives of Scotland, AD14/14/13, Child Murder, Creich, 1814

Deborah A. Symonds, Weep not for Me: Women, Ballads and Infanticide in Early Modern Scotland, (Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997)

Bessy and John, Part 5: The Truth will Out

After a pregnancy rife with rumour, gossip and denial, Bessy had given birth with John fending off any outside interference.  John had secreted away the body of the dead infant.  The women of the township simultaneously cared for the young woman while sustaining a fiction of ignorance.  Childbirth was usually a communal female event.  Pooling expertise helped protect mother and baby, as well as providing moral and emotional support.  Giving birth alone was highly unusual and it was dangerous, especially for a first time mother.  Although Bessy had cut herself off from the community of women who would normally have offered help and advice, without speaking to her about what happened they nonetheless gathered around to look after her.  A stream of women appeared at the door of the MacKay house: Aunt Bessy; Christian Ross the midwife, Janet, widow of Alexander Bethune the shopkeeper; and Aunt Margaret.  As Margaret MacKay lived some twenty miles away at Lairg of Tain, her visit was not casual.  It seems likely she had heard about her niece’s predicament and had come to render what assistance she could. 


 The wintry landscape through which Aunt Margaret would have travelled to get from Lairg of Tain to Inveran.  Photo from collection of Elizabeth Ritchie.

Despite later claiming to know nothing about a pregnancy or a birth, ignorance which was perhaps wise in the case of a mysteriously disappeared infant, Aunt Bessy saw her niece twice after the delivery.  During the first visit the girl was ill and in bed and did not confide in her aunt.  The experienced eyes of Aunt Bessy were not reassured by what she saw and she called on Christian Ross, the Inveran midwife.  Her aunt explained that young Bessy was ‘lying very ill a-bed’.  The problem was that in order to treat her, Christian needed to know details about the birth or about how Bessy’s body had been responding since.  That conversation could not happen without both women openly acknowledging that there had been a birth but that there was no baby.  Christian was reluctant to attend the girl, ‘being apprehensive of after trouble’.  ‘After trouble’ was very likely.  While the ritual humiliation of Kirk Session discipline was deeply unpleasant, the mysterious disappearance of a baby could bring a more serious charge. 

Since 1690 the Act Anent Child Murder presumed that a woman who concealed a pregnancy; who did not ask for help at birth; and whose child was missing or dead; was guilty of murder.  If found guilty, she would be hanged.  Bessy fell into all three categories.  By the middle of the century extreme punishments, such as death, were very rare.  Attitudes were changing, and gradually the public began to see such women as victims of circumstances rather than murdering monsters.  In 1809 the statute was revoked, and the crime became concealment of pregnancy.  This bore a punishment of a maximum of two years in jail.  This is the law under which Bessy and John could be prosecuted.  Understandably, Christian Ross did not want to be mixed up in a prosecution.  She may also have been reluctant for Bessy to incriminate herself through talking to her.  However, the girl became dangerously ill and Christian relented.  She visited on Wednesday 16th February 1814, six days after the birth.  Christian tied a napkin about Bessy’s middle and examined her breasts, concluding that she needed ‘to be taken care of’.  Inspecting her breasts helped confirm that the girl had indeed given birth, but there was already little doubt about that in people’s minds.  For the first time Bessy spoke to someone other than John about what had happened.  Bessy talked, Christian treated her, and Bessy recovered.  The conspiracy of silence continued, although it was perhaps now a desperate attempt to protect Bessy and John, and in the hope that the authorities might not find out.  Soon gossip was to erupt, perhaps inevitably, into something more dangerous.

Thomas Munro was a missionary preacher living in Invershin.  Missionaries were assigned to large Highland parishes to help the minister.  As well as preaching, catechising and visiting the sick, part of their job was to supervise the behaviour of people in their district and report offenders to the Kirk Session.  The Kirk Session dealt with church business, but it also operated as the lowest court in the land, referring more serious cases to the civil courts.  This case potentially involved both the moral offence of fornication and the criminal offence of child murder.  An active Kirk Session could be very powerful and controlling in a locality, and in some places this power appears to have developed into a puerile fascination with people’s sexual lives.  However, it seems that Invershin’s missionary minister had steadfastly ignored the rumours of pregnancy for months.  ‘A story had gone abroad and made some noise in that part of the Country that Bessy MacKay … had been with child some time before and that it was believed she had been delivered of the said child but that no trace was left of where it was or what had become of it.’  The shared surname and place of residence suggests that Thomas was brother to Isobel, Invershin’s midwife.  Recognising that elders, missionary ministers and even ministers were often closely connected with parishioners, means church discipline starts to look less like straightforward, top-down institutional power, and more like community regulation with the authority of the church behind it.  Sympathy for Bessy and John’s circumstances might have led Thomas Munro to ignore the illicit pregnancy but, after a month of thinking about it, he decided the possibility of murder could not be ignored.

To be continued… 

National Archives of Scotland, AD14/14/13, Child Murder, Creich, 1814   

Lynn Abrams, ‘From Demon to Victim: The Infanticidal Mother in Shetland, 1699-1899’ in Twisted Sisters: Women, Crime and Deviance in Scotland since 1400, Yvonne Galloway Brown and Rona Ferguson, eds, (East Linton: Tuckwell Press, 2002)

Elizabeth Ritchie, ‘“A Palmful of Water for your Years”: Babies, Religion and Gender Identity among Crofting Families, 1800-1850’ in Jodi Campbell, Elizabeth Ewan and Heather Parker (eds) The Shaping of Scottish Identities: Family, Nation, and the Worlds Beyond (University of Guelph, Ontario, 2011)

Deborah A. Symonds, Weep not for Me: Women, Ballads and Infanticide in Early Modern Scotland, (Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997)

Bessy and John, Part 3: Gossip and Secrets

Today’s thin scatter of houses down the upper Firth mean a stretch of the imagination is required to recreate the busyness of farming, dairying, trading and socializing that characterised life in the series of townships edging the river in the early nineteenth century.  There were lots of people, and they pretty much all knew each other.  It would have been difficult to keep an affair like Bessy and John’s private.  It would have been difficult even to keep an attraction private.  Even before the Kincardine Market in November 1813, a rumour that Bessy was pregnant was flying around.  Somebody told Isobel Munro, the midwife and she passed it to on Christian Ross from Inveran, another midwife, who had already heard the gossip.  This might have been idle gossip between friends, or Isobel might have been ensuring that the person best placed to help was aware of a delicate situation.  The midwives might have been wondering if Bessy would approach them for help.  It is likely that they had some knowledge of abortifacient plants or herbs.  Perhaps Bessy did not know about this possibility or perhaps her embarrassment, denial or worry prevented her from approaching them.  A month or two later, when Bessy’s pregnancy was probably showing, Isobel Munro mentioned the situation to Bessy’s aunt, also called Bessy.  Aunt Bessy was married to John Bethune, tenant at Inveran and the township’s ferryman.  She later said that at ‘the latter end of last winter she heard a report of her niece Bessy MacKay being with child but as such reports are often circulated without foundation [she] paid no attention to it.  Nor did she ever speak to Bessy MacKay upon the subject.  Nor did she ever suspect that such was the case.’  Whatever Isobel Munro’s motivation in discussing the case with her, Aunt Bessy decided to treat it as idle gossip.  The women of Inveran and Invershin watched and talked about Bessy’s changing body but none initiated a conversation with her.  Bessy knew that they knew, having ‘reason to believe that the said Isobel Munro as well as other women in the neighbourhood suspected her being with child although none of them ever spoke to [her] upon the subject’.  Her aunt’s deliberate ignorance and local women’s reticence left the young couple isolated.

ImageInveran, taken from the raised ground where the houses were and looking across the arable land famred by the MacKays.  From the collection of Elizabeth Ritchie

Perhaps waiting until there could be no doubt about the matter, it was a long time before she told John.  He had already figured it out.  Bessy was probably hoping that her growing signs of pregnancy could be attributed to something else.  This was not unreasonable.  Women often did hard manual labour which, combined with seasonal food shortages, could cause amenorrhea.  Medical conditions such as boils or swellings in the stomach might go unchecked for a long time, also producing symptoms of pregnancy.  Lynn Abrams’ study of Shetland showed that some unmarried women who failed to acknowledge their pregnancy did so because the father had abandoned them or because they had been sexually assaulted.  These were not the case for Bessy.  But other reasons Shetland women concealed their pregnancy may have been motivations for Bessy: if John didn’t marry her, as a single mother she was less likely to marry.  A hasty wedding early in the pregnancy was the obvious solution.  She was perhaps unsure whether he would marry her, or perhaps did not really want to marry him.  She may simply have been in denial, hoping the whole situation would resolve itself.  Or she may have realised that a fully developed child born six months or so after the wedding would not necessarily offer a solution to the second problem that she faced: church discipline.

In 1814 the Church of Scotland still had a role in community regulation.  The Kirk Session, made up of the minister and of elders drawn from the local community, functioned as a small court.  They sometimes prosecuted cases such as theft, but more often they focused on issues of sexual morality: usually fornication and adultery.  The Kirk Session did this to ensure that fathers provided financially, but they were also concerned to punish people found guilty of sex outside of marriage.  Sometimes this involved a fine which went into the Poor Relief fund for the parish, but it often also involved ritual humiliation.  Offenders, male and female, were required to sit at the front of the church for a certain number of Sundays.  The thought of sitting at the front of Creich church in front of family, friends and strangers was a fearful thought, perhaps especially for a young person like Bessy.

Whether due to denial, fear or confusing symptoms, Bessy didn’t tell John until ‘some weeks before her delivery’.  After that she then ‘repeatedly mentioned her situation’ to him.  Whatever they discussed together, they did nothing.  On the morning of 11th February 1814, a Friday, the problem could no longer be ignored.

To be continued…

National Archives of Scotland, AD14/14/13, Child Murder, Creich, 1814

Lynn Abrams, ‘From Demon to Victim: The Infanticidal Mother in Shetland, 1699-1899’ in Twisted Sisters: Women, Crime and Deviance in Scotland since 1400, Yvonne Galloway Brown and Rona Ferguson, eds, (East Linton: Tuckwell Press, 2002)

Bessy and John, Part 2: The MacKays at Inveran

Today if you go to Inveran, it is a quiet place with few houses and some rough pasture.  The hills are covered with conifer plantations and there is a small power station where the River Shin joins the Dornoch Firth.  In 1813, however, it was bustling with people.  General Roy’s map of 1746 indicates the township with a red enclosed area, suggesting a garden or kailyard.  The arable land is arranged in strips of runrig.  Half a mile east, across the River Shin, is the slightly larger township of Invershin.  Unpicking details casually recorded in the MacKay precognition allows us to piece together how such townships operated in the early nineteenth century.Image

Screenshot of General Roy’s Map: http://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/

John had been brought up several days’ journey away, in the township of Tullichgriban in Strathspey (if anyone knows precisely where this is, I would be most interested).  Late in 1812 John’s father, George, sent him north to Inveran to work for George’s brother, Donald.   Apart from briefly returning south the following summer, John had settled in to his Uncle Donald’s household at Inveran.  The MacKay residence was a traditional longhouse.  At one end there was a slightly lower section for livestock which Donald sometimes used as a workshop.  In the middle of the house there was a living area with a fire and wooden chests. They probably also had a dresser or shelves for their crockery and some chairs.  The beds were in a room just beyond the main living room, set apart by a partial wooden door.

The workshop, the name, and the Inveran connection make it likely that this Donald MacKay was the wright who, in 1782, helped to build a new house in Inveran for one Alexander Bethune.  It is likely that Bethune rented this building out for a few years as he did not move his shop from nearby Linsidemore until 1797.  Alexander Bethune and Donald MacKay were also related by marriage: Alexander’s brother John married Donald’s sister Bessy.  Perhaps Alexander rented the new house to his brother and sister in law.  By about 1813, Alexander had died and his son, a less successful merchant, was bankrupt.

Whatever other businesses they had, the men of the township farmed.  Donald was a joint tenant with his brother in law John Bethune, Alexander Bethune the merchant, and Andrew MacKay who may also have been a relation.  Each would have had some cattle which grazed on the hills during the summer, probably tended by the young folks.  To run a small mixed farm it was necessary to have several people of working age, preferably of both sexes.  There is no evidence for Bessy having a mother or siblings.  Either she was the youngest or a motherless only child.  If he were a skilled wright in the early 1780s, then by 1813 Donald would at least be in his fifties and needing his nephew to help with the male work.  Young John perhaps came as a hired servant or as ‘heir apparent’ to the joint tenancy.  John was not the only servant in the house.  Mary Matheson, a twelve year old from nearby Invercharron, also lived with the MacKays.  When John arrived Mary and Bessy moved into the same bed, allowing John the third one.  The four of them lived and worked together every day.  The girls would bake, cook and endlessly spin as well as take charge of the dairying.  John would have worked with Donald in the fields.  They would all have looked after the animals, a few cows, sheep, chickens and maybe goats and a horse, and they probably dug peats together to prepare for the winter.

On the 13th of April 1813, six months or so after John arrived in Sutherland, the Inveran tenants sowed their oats.  From the phrasing, it is likely that this was done communally, which would make sense if Inveran was jointly tenanted.  This community, connected by work, location and marriage, may have ended the day by eating together and perhaps gathering in someone’s house for singing, music, story-telling, the endless spinning and making of heather ropes, and perhaps drinking.  Whatever happened that evening, the smouldering attraction between John and Bessy developed into something more.  Later on Bessy claimed that the only time she and John had slept together was at the Kincardine Fair, but when John was asked he said it began when the tenants sowed the oats in April.  When he realized that Bessy had said something different he claimed to agree with everything she said.  But it seems likely that their first sexual encounter was in April.  They said that was the only time, except for the time at the Fair.  That may have been true.  Knowing that pre-marital intercourse was not socially acceptable, they may have decided to set their attraction aside.  Perhaps they were afraid of being caught, perhaps they didn’t feel it was right and they had made a mistake in April.  Or perhaps they continued to see each other in secret, finding a private place to make love.  This seems more likely as Bessy later said that she didn’t know whether the baby was full-term or not as ‘she kept no accurate account of the transactions between MacKay and herself’.

To be continued…

National Archives of Scotland, AD14/14/13, Child Murder, Creich, 1814

General Roy’s Map: http://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/

Rootsweb Geneology: Bethunes http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/ROSSGEN/2007-06/1181031302