8 March 1923 diary of Dr John Stewart Muir (1845-1938) of Selkirk

Dull + sunless but dry + not much N.E. wind. Rennie1 alright after quite a good night. Was much amused to find my letter to the Herald in today’s issue.1 I mentioned that as a boy in Leith – 1845-52 a left-handed boy was referred to as caury-pawed.2 Took a car3 to Burns Monument + walked 3 miles towards Maybole + then turned off to Sauchrie + over the shoulder of Brown Carrick to the Girvan Road + back to Ayr + got a car home = 13.4 Eddie Miller5 looked in again at night. From breakfast till 7 p.m. I just had a hunk of Selkirk Bannock.6

1 The Reverend James Rennie (1826-1924) of Ladyton, Prestwick, clergyman, described on his death registration as Minister of the Gospel Retired, Dr Muir’s brother in law and widower of Catherine Stewart Rennie née Muir.

2 Dr Muir had written a letter to the Herald, see diary entry for 7 March 1923. There are numerous versions of caury-pawed recorded in the ‘Dictionar o the Scots Leid’ including “Rxb. 1923 Kelso Chron. (16 March) 2/7: A writer in a city paper says he never heard the word “caurie.” … Apparently he has never been in Kelso.” and quoting e.Lth. 1914 (per Hdg.2): “He’s a carrie-pawed chiel.” [source: CAR, CAUR, KER, Cair, Caar, Carr, Cawr, adj. and n.2 Also forms with initial k and dims. in -ie and -y].

3 The Ayr tram ran north to south from the junction by the Burgh Hall, Prestwick, grid reference NGR NS352,262 to the Burns Hotel, Alloway (tracks at the south end of the route are visible on some postcards of that location including the one below).

4 Dr Muir walked south, probably on what is now the B7024, towards Maybole, grid reference NGR NS298,100 turning off to Sauchrie NS303,146 and presumably across the north shoulder of Brown Carrick past the viewpoint at NS299,164 to join the Girvan road (the coast road) at NS287,177 to pick up the tram car at Alloway where he had alighted earlier.

5 Edward Caird ‘Eddie’ Miller (1864-1927), iron and steel founder, of Redstone, Prestwick [Monkton, Ayr], widowed since the death in 1920 of his wife Jessie Logan Miller née Rennie (1860-1920), Dr Muir’s niece.

6 It is not clear whether Dr Muir had brought the Bannock with him from home but it is no wonder he had digestive problems.

The Burns Monument and Hotel, Ayr, with tramlines visible in foreground

[Source: Scottish Borders Archives & Local History Service SBA/657/26, Dr J S Muir of Selkirk, medical practitioner, journal for 1923]

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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

One thought on “8 March 1923 diary of Dr John Stewart Muir (1845-1938) of Selkirk”

  1. I was intrigued by the reference to “caurey” because the Lithuanian word for “left” is “kairė”. Lithuanian is an ancient language so I got in touch with a linguistics professor in Vilnius to find out the roots of that word. We drew a blank as the origins are disputed, but may be related to ancient Greek. However, their word for “right” (dešinė), is almost certainly derived from Sanskrit. The Sanskrit word for left bears no relation. Many thanks for your continuing work on Dr Muir’s diary.


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