14 April 1923 diary of Dr John Stewart Muir (1845-1938) of Selkirk

There had been some rain during the night + it rained a little in the afternoon. Cloudy S. to S.W. Was called up at 5. a.m. for Mrs Graham, Upper Faldonside Lodge1 who had a puny [?] little F. [female2] at 8 (C & F3). Sent Baptie4 home + got him down by ‘Phone5 from Dees’.6 Cycle Walked to Forest Road + Green Square + cycled to Haremoss .7 Saw nor heard anything of D.8 yesterday or today. Bella9 in bed all day. Got bonus from Edinburgh Life for 1922 = £41〃15〃0 which makes my £1,000 policy now worth £1,491〃16〃0.

1 Minnie Meikle Morrison (1890-1950) had married Irvine Stirling Graham at Partick, Glasgow [marriage: 1922, 644 / 22 / 153, Partick].

2 Baby Graham, born 14 April 1923, daughter of Irvine Stirling Graham, domestic gardener, and Minnie Meikle Graham née Morrison.

3 Chloroform and forceps.

4 Thomas Baptie (1860-1929), driver and handyman for Dr Muir.

5 That Dr Muir routinely capitalised the word ‘Phone suggests to the Editor that, though clearly from this quotation there was a telephone line to Thorncroft, it was not an routine part of his life (perhaps others took the messages) but to judge from his diary references, the telegram seems to be a more common medium (it is a truism, but do not forget that both ends needed a line for a telephone call, something that did not hold true for telegraphy where the ‘last mile’ could be done by a delivery). Telephone companies were initially focussed on trunk calls by businesses and domestic take-up was slow. Dr Jeremy Leon Stein uses literary references as a metric for the growth of private use of the telephone, noting that “Only after the [First World] war do telephone references become more frequent.” and that “The telephone becomes relatively common in contemporary fiction only in the decade after 1914 although even here it is still mainly aristocrats and wealthy financiers who use it. … We must await the 1930s … for the telephone to make a frequent appearance.” [see Jeremy Leon Stein. “Ideology and the Telephone”, thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, University College London, September 1996, page 104. “https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/16248644.pdf. Accessed 13 Apr. 2023.]

6 The Dees family, Robert Irwin Dees, Edith Mary Boileau Dees née Henderson and their children had moved from Newcastle to Faldonside after the First World War. Dees had inherited a big legacy from his uncle Robert ‘Richardson’ Dees (1814-1908), solicitor. The Dees household seems to be exactly the type to have had a telephone.

7 The Haremoss, shown on the east side of the Selkirk – Greendemains – Ashkirk road i.e. in Lilliesleaf, Roxburghshire, where Dr Muir had been attending John Scott. The Editor has not be able to find any evidence of Scott nor of a dwelling-house called Haremoss either there or westwards across the Selkirkshire boundary.

8 David Charteris ‘Dav.’ Graham (1889-1963), M.B., Ch.B., medical practitioner and Dr Muir’s business partner.

9 Isabella ‘Bella’ Paulin (1873-?1952), the Muir family housekeeper, daughter of James Paulin, groom, and Grace Paulin née Cranston, born Ladykirk, Berwickshire [Sources include: ‘A Souter’s Bairn, recollections of life in Selkirk’ by Jenny Corbett with Avril Jack, published Selkirk Common Good Fund, 1993].

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

Published by


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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