Sunday, September 21, 2014

James Wallace of Auchans, Redhall and the Pentland Rising (Battle of Rullion Green)

James Wallace is not a well-known figure, but he has appeared on various posts here over the years. Below are scanned pages from A Biographical Dictionary containing Lives of the most Eminent Persons of all Ages and Nations, by R. Bell Chambers Esq (London, 1835). Hopefully this will be of interest to someone researching the story of the Covenanters.

James Wallace Blog 1James Wallace Blog 2James Wallace Blog 3James Wallace Blog 4

(PS: The full text of this biography can be found on Electric Scotland here)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Some rough thoughts on Scottish independence.

Union Flag Breakup 


I hope they vote No. I can understand if they vote Yes. Here's a blog post I wrote in July 2012 which still sums up my thoughts on the subject. It'll be gye ticht.

Private Richard C Couch, 10th King's Regiment (Liverpool) - Great War New Testament

I've never been able to find anything out about this soldier (either on the Museum of Liverpool King's Regiment website here, or the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website here) and can't recall how his National Bible Society of Scotland / Pocket Testament League New Testament came into my possession. I'm posting it here in case his family are trying to find out about him - if so, I am happy to send this to you. The full text reads:

Private Richd. C. Couch
10th King's (Liverpool)

with the address:

7 Eisteddfa Rd


The 10th Battalion of the King's Regiment were also known as Liverpool Scottish. Wikipedia has some excellent information and photographs about them here. Two of their units stayed in Britain during the Great War, which might explain why Couch isn't coming up on those website databases. A Richard Couch does however appear in an article in the Evening Telegraph of Monday 11th September 1916, entitled 'Wounded Highlanders Reach Glasgow', a story about 226 wounded soldiers being sent by train to Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow. He is named as Private Richard Couch of the Black Watch - but no details of his injuries are given.


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Happy birthday to the Hillsborough A1 road

On 18 September 1974, the Hillsborough By-Pass road was opened. It was a motorist's transformation, and is once again in the news. The pages of The Leader newspaper of Dromore published a poem on 27th September entitled 'The Conversation between the A1 and the Hillsborough By-Pass at the time of the Opening of the Latter'. Written by the renowned artist Patric Stevenson (1909-1983) it is in Scots, and was inspired by Scottish poet Robert Fergusson's 'Mutual Complaint of Plainstanes and Causey, in their Mother Tongue' (see here). Interestingly at the end of the poem he added a footnote which says 'inconsistencies in dialect in these verses are deliberate and intended to suggest a fundamental lack of feeling of national identity in some parts of the north of Ireland'.

The whole poem is available online here - it's a strong piece of writing and worth being highlighted. Here's the first verse:

... I dinna think ye wad believe The kind o' treatment we receive; I've liv'd owre lang in by-gone days Tae thole the gross, ill-mannered ways In which the roadmen noo behave. It's God's ain truth till say that they've Insulted me wi' mony lines An' sundry cabalistic signs Thick painted on me asphalt cheek (I'm smartin' frae a job last week When cats'-eyes set within me skin Fair pierced me like a javelin) ...

Stevenson might just have been employing Scots as a literary device, rather than because of any personal affinity, but there was once a deep Ulster-Scots speaking pedigree in the area. The Northern Tourist (1830) recorded: "Speaking of the lower orders [of people] residing in the neighbourhood of Lisburn, Hillsborough, Dromore and Ballinahinch... they are a decent, industrious, well-disposed and orderly people... the language is now English with a strong Scotch accent - in the middle of the last century it was broad Scotch... the greater proportion of the inhabitants are Protestant Dissenters... the men are in general tall, and square-shouldered, retaining in their high cheek-bones much of the characteristic countenance of their Scottish ancestors - most of the women well-looking. Their dialect, having in it much of the Scotch accent... but the better classes speak very correctly...

Other books from the 1800s and right up into the early 1900s say similar things about the district, and many of the families I have met in the area who have been living there for generations will still use Ulster-Scots words and expressions - but of course the area has become very affluent and so the population has changed a lot over the past number of decades, so the words are not as commonplace as they once were.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Scotch House, 36 High Street Belfast (1840s - 1880s)

Here is a lovely old trade token for MacKenzie & McMullen's 'Scotch House' - Cheap Drapery Warehouse of 36 High Street Belfast, which sold 'silks & shawls'. The earliest reference I can find to it is in the 1840s, and the latest is when General Ulysses Simpson Grant visited the city in 1879. I'm sure somebody out there can tell me more about this shop. 

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Image001Scotch House High Street 640

Friday, September 12, 2014

There are no Protestant 'heroes'

Paisley painting 640

(This email conversation with a Free Presbyterian friend earlier in the week seems apt today).

Protestants believe what the Bible says, that 'all have sinned'. No-one is made right with God by their own achievements. 'Filthy rags' is what the Bible calls even our best efforts. There are no infallible saints, just sinners.

The Bible itself has just one 'Hero' - Jesus Christ. Every book in the Bible, in some way, points to Jesus. Every other person in scripture, and in all of human history, is a failure. 

Despite human failings, God in His mercy and grace saw fit to use imperfect men and women throughout the Bible, and throughout history, to tell others of His perfect good news - that our salvation is 'by faith alone in Christ alone'. Jesus Christ alone is perfect, and His righteousness covers our sin completely when we put our trust in Him.

Christ is completely sufficient. There is no additional 'penance'. There is no additional church tradition to be observed. As He said Himself, 'It is finished".


May God be with the Paisley family in their time of bereavement. "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know..." - I Corinthians 13:12

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Secession - and the 'Ulster Month' of 1922

Secession petition

The news channels are ablaze with the latest opinion polls which indicate that a majority of Scots might well vote 'Yes' for independence, to secede from the Union of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Presbyterianism in Scotland and Ireland has had a number of secessions, because of theological or church government differences, when congregations decided they could no longer continue as members of the wider denomination they then decided to go it alone as 'Seceders'. Scottish church secessions soon reverberated over here - once again, the vote in Scotland has implications for us on this side of the water too

On December 20, 1860, seven of the southern states of America voted to secede from their Union, the United States. Six months later 4 more states joined them, eventually totalling 13. Some people I have met and spoken to from those southern states insist to this day that slavery was not the core issue at stake (which has become the orthodox narrative) but in fact 'states rights' was at least just as important - federal government had become too powerful and was imposing itself on the individual states. Here is a balanced article on the subject, but Google away for yourselves. In Waynesboro, Virginia, in 1997, a young man in a musical instrument shop told me 'the South will rise again, and next time we'll win.' I had a similar conversation in a genteel college town in Kentucky. Tennessee was divided on the issue and the state itself nearly broke into two separate states, following the East Tennessee Convention of 1861.

Few people appreciate that Northern Ireland also seceded, from the Irish Free State, which had been effectively formed by a Treaty on 6 December 1921. A year later it had been adopted. During the following four weeks of 1922 - known as 'The Ulster Month' - provision was allowed for the Houses of Parliament of Northern Ireland to opt out of the new state. The inevitable happened - an address was presented to the King the next day which said:

"... MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN, We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Senators and Commons of Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, having learnt of the passing of the Irish Free State Constitution Act, 1922, being the Act of Parliament for the ratification of the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, do, by this humble Address, pray your Majesty that the powers of the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State shall no longer extend to Northern Ireland ..."

The King's response on 8th December 1922 was:

"... I have received the Address presented to me by both Houses of the Parliament of Northern Ireland in pursuance of Article 12 of the Articles of Agreement set forth in the Schedule to the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act, 1922, and of Section 5 of the Irish Free State Constitution Act, 1922, and I have caused my Ministers and the Irish Free State Government to be so informed ...'.

(The vote in the Northern Ireland Houses of Parliament had been 40 for secession to 12 against. A full list of MPs who had been elected in 1921 is online here. One of them who would have supported the secession was Tennessee-born William John Twaddell, but he had been murdered by the IRA on 22 May 1922 at around 40 years of age. Twaddell Avenue in Belfast was named after him.)

I find that very few people in Northern Ireland today understand that our state was brought about by an act of secession. Most think that the 26 counties which comprise today's Republic of Ireland opted to leave the UK. In fact, the 6 counties opted to separate from the 26. That's a wholly different dynamic. "Occupied Six Counties" suddenly looks questionable. Regardless of what our views about it are today, at the time a democratic majority decided to withdraw from the larger entity of the Irish Free State. With secession part of our history and psyche, we can hardly deny our Scottish kinsfolk the same right if they wish to exercise it.

But, because we are kinsfolk, whatever the outcome next week, the historical and cultural ties between Ulster and Scotland will be unchanged. Malachi O'Doherty had an excellent article in the Belfast Telegraph just yesterday on this very point. In fact, the cultural future might be enhanced by closer co-operation than has been the case for many generations.

During my time as Chair of the Ulster-Scots Agency, I know full well of how bureaucrats on our side of the water worked to prevent constructive links with Scotland being set up. They had their reasons, they always do.

PS - US readers, please feel free to comment below on the states rights issue. It is raising its head here in the UK with demands for a referendum on our continuing membership of the European Union.

(Below - 1914 map of the suggested partition/secession of Ulster and Ireland. It would be interesting to compare this with 2014 electoral demographics)1914 map

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Tim Keller

As recommended by a friend from New York who attends Keller's church - Redeemer Presbyterian Church - who was in NI last week. Insightful as ever from one of evangelicalism's clearest thinkers.


Thursday, September 04, 2014

Ikea humour

Reminds me of a blog post I wrote here a few years ago.