7. Laurence Keir (1738-1814) of Sauchie (Part II)

We continue the 7th Blog entry in this current series of articles looking at the Keir family from Aberdalgie (and Kirkliston). This is Part II of the attempt to trace the children and grandchildren of Rodger Keir and Isabel Armour specifically looking at Laurence Keir eldest son and heir of William Keir and Mary Clerk (which started in Part I).

Table & Family tree diagram showing the children of Laurence Keir and Marion Paterson.

Continuing our research about Laurence Keir & Marrion Paterson’s children we note that the next son born (their 11th child) was also called John. This child (unlike his namesake who died in infancy) would grow to adulthood and live a full and eventful life ( – to be discussed later). John (#2) was baptized in Aberdalgie on the 23rd of March, 1788 [Source: Church of Scotland. Parish Church of Aberdalgie. Parish registers, 1613-1854. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1978).] Given that four of Laurence’s other children died around this time, it is perhaps fortunate that John survived the sickness in the household.

Call the Doctor

By a fortunate stroke of luck we need not speculate about Laurence (Sr.)’s state of health during this period- it was also poor – as is attested in the consultation letters and records of Dr. William Cullen of Mint Close in Edinburgh. [Several thousand letters have been scanned, cataloged and transcribed (with additional notes) by the Cullen Project. This online resource provides a outstanding window into the times and lives of the people mentioned.] Cullen (1710-1790) who was a member of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and consulted widely throughout Scotland, Great Britain and indeed Europe. Laurence first wrote to Dr. Cullen on the 20th March, 1788 ‘out of the blue’ so to speak, asking for the good doctor’s advise. [We later find out that a Mr Lumsden and Dr Robert Wood, a physician in Perth, have both recommended Cullen.] As Laurence explains he – “caught cold after leaving a warm room and suffers from stitch, manifesting in a feeling of weight up both sides of his back and prickling through his whole body.” He also states that he is a tenant of Lord Kinnoull and a farmer “at Aberdalgie by Perth”. He signs himself, Yours Sincerley [sic] Lau Keir.

Aside: Robert Auriol Hay Drummond became the 10th Earl of Kinnoull in 1787. He was the Son of Robert Hay Drummond, the Archbishop of York, and Henrietta (d. 1773), daughter of Peter Auriol, a London merchant. His uncle was Lord Thomas Hay, the 9th Earl.

Cullen diagnoses ‘kidney problems’ and immediately writes back in a letter dated the next day (21st March, 1788) recommending that Laurence take a ‘solution’ until his ‘obstruction’ clears. Unfortunately the remedy is not altogether successful, but this allows us a unique opportunity to hear from these two men and the converse (by letter) for the next 2 months. In all 12 letters pass back and forth between the 20th of March and the 27th of May. This frequency, plus references of trips to Perth in order to purchase medicine tells us about the good state of the roads and the relative ease of communication (by commercial mail) between Perth and Edinburgh. Elsewhere we learn that 2 mail coaches make this trip per day and that mail arriving at Perth labelled Aberdalgie is placed in the Earl of Kinnoull’s private bag destined for Dupplin Castle as soon as possible. It is then up to the staff at the Dupplin Estate to distribute the mail further.

… To be continued shortly in Part III


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