25 June 1922 diary of Dr John Stewart Muir (1845-1938) of Selkirk

Saw 4 town cases cycling. Left at 11.15 with Mrs Mack1 in a hired car Nancy, Barbara2 + a cousin of Mrs Mack’s cousin, Miss Helen3 + went to an open air service in Yarrow Church Yard. Dr Playfair4 of St Andrew’s – whom I have met at the Clark Coupers5 – preached the sermon. There were not many there. Ad. Brunton6 was Precentor7 – very quaint with his tuning fork8. After the service we went on to St Mary’s Loch + had lunch in the little Glen below the church yard9. Mrs Mack did us well. Except for a slight shower it was a fine day. Will Jack Lindsay10 passing in his car joined us. We got home about 7.

1 Agnes Mackintosh née Watson, formerly Harper (1859-1946), of Elm Park, Selkirk

2 Agnes Amelia ‘Nancy’ Roberts née Muir (1878-1948), Dr Muir’s second daughter and Andrina Henderson ‘Barbara’ Roberts, later Twhigg (1902-1996), her eldest daughter

3 Miss Helen is unidentified

4 The Reverend Patrick Macdonald Playfair (1858-1924), minister of Holy Trinity Church, St Andrews

5 The Clark Couper were Mrs Christina Jane Couper née Clark (about 1850-1925), a descendent of the Clark family founders of T & T Clark publishers and the widow of the Reverend David Couper (1839-1913), and her daughters Evelyn Susannah Clark Couper (1872-1927) and Edith Hylda Hope Clark Couper (1878-1930); they had lived at Selkirk in the 1910s but then flitted to Orchardmains, Traquair

6 The ‘best guess’ is Adam Brunton of Catslackburn, Yarrow who was a tenant of a cottage owned by Yarrow Parish Council

7 The Dictionar o the Scots Leid defines “PRECENTOR, n. Also -ter, presenter, presenttor, prezentor. Sc. forms and usage, in the Presbyterian churches: an official appointed by the Kirk Session to lead the congregational praise. The office was freq. held by the parish schoolmaster. The precentor is still occasionally to be found in the remoter areas of Scot., esp. in the outer islands, in churches where there is no instrumental accompaniment to the singing, and in the smaller Presbyterian denominations where instrumental music is disapproved.” while William Bell, 1838, ‘Dictionary and Digest of the Law of Scotland’ states “Precentor in the Presbyterian church, is a person whose duty it is to lead the congregation in the singing of psalms. He is, in the ordinary case, appointed by the Kirk-session. … Precentors are removable at pleasure. Although in country parishes, the same individual is frequently precentor, schoolmaster and session-clerk, there is no necessary connection between these offices; and a party holding one of them cannot be compelled to do the duties of any of the others, unless by special engagement. There is no general provision for the precentor’s remuneration, but in practice he usually receives certain fees.” [https://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/precentor accessed 2022.05.29]

8 The precentor with a tuning fork had been routine in the Church of Scotland but it was a relative anachronism by the 1920s hence Dr Muir’s comment

9 It seems likely that Dr Muir is referring to the quite deep cutting made by the (unnamed?) burn that runs to the west of St Mary’s Kirkyard though it looks like a rather gloomy place to picnic where it would seem a little unlikely that Jack Lindsay would have noticed them

10 Assume John Vassie ‘Jack’ Lindsay (1891-1975), M.C., of Whitehope, Yarrow, later farmer at Torwoodlee Mains, Galashiels; the deletion adjacent to his name suggests that Dr Muir had mistaken him for his elder brother William Fisher ‘Willie’ Lindsay (1887-1951)

[Source: Scottish Borders Archives & Local History Service SBA/657/25, Dr J S Muir of Selkirk, medical practitioner, journal for 1922]

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Archivist, interests include Dr John Stewart Muir 1845-1938) of Selkirk, general practitioner, and Seton Paul Gordon (1886–1977), naturalist, author and photographer

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