The Dunfermline Historical Society recently received a portrait photograph of the Reverend Peter Chalmers, a minister of the Abbey Church, a local historian and an influential figure in Dunfermline life in the 19th Century. Jean Barclay has researched his life and in “REVEREND DOCTOR PETER CHALMERS, 1790-1870” she summarises his achievements in education, charitable work and historical research and also his difficulties in coping with the Great Disruption of 1843.
In “Erskine Beveridge & Co. The origins of a famous Dunfermline business“, Donald Adamson presents the results of his important local research into the sources of funding for a well-known firm which has a significant place in Dunfermline’s history. The story demonstrates the extensive social mobility which existed in 19th Century Britain, but also perhaps the pervasive influence of money from the slave trade.
“Reminiscences of Dunfermline – Sixty Years Ago” by Alexander Stewart, published in 1886, includes a story concerning an unusual college and a Provost of the town who was also a fixer of dislocated bones. In “Pattiesmuir College and Adam Low, the Dunfermline Bonesetter“, George Robertson, who has recently been elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, continues his occasional series based on the “Reminiscences” and tells us more about this talented Provost.
Jean Barclay starts a new series of short pieces based on a 19th Century compilation of writings about Dunfermline, the “Folio of Oddities”. In “The ‘Gude’ Mr Erskine and his Fiddle” she presents the story of a new father searching for the perfect minister to baptise a new born child.
As we continue to cope with the current pandemic, it is interesting to learn how epidemics were managed in the past. In “Our Autumnal Remittent: Dr. John Steadman and the Influenza Epidemic of 1758“, Dr Jean Barclay recounts the life of one of the doctors involved in treating those affected by an outbreak of influenza, in the time between the identification of that disease and any real understanding of it’s causes.