Monday, 28 March 2011

Napier witnesses: Thomas Brydone

Thomas Brydone had been in the job of factor for Lord Dunmore for only six months (i.e. since late 1882) when he was questioned by Lord Napier and his Royal Commission. I once more refer to Direcleit for an appreciation of his work in Harris, which appears to have lasted from 1882 until 1891-1897. It requires us therefore to look to censes after 1881 to get an idea of Mr Brydone's family history.

In 1891, we find him as factor and farmer at Farmhouse Luskentyre, with the town mentioned as Leachilce. This sounds to me like a corruption of Leac-a-Li, which is a township on the eastern side of Harris. Thomas Brydone is quoted as being born at Dunblane, Perthshire and married to Isabella, a few years his junior. The Brydones have five children in 1891, James (8), Archibald (6), Thomas (4), Isabella (2) and Alexander (10 months). Christina Macleod and Catherine Macleod are listed as domestic and farm helpers.

Upon tracing Thomas Brydone back through the years, we locate him in 1881 at Stewartston or Easter Invervack near Blair Atholl in Perthshire, as a farmer of 300 acres, of which 72 arable, employing 1 man. He lives with his grandmother Margaret and siblings Mary (23), Maggie (21) and David (19). Two Irishman are lodging with the Brydone family at Blair Atholl, Hugh and Alex Brodie, listed as hawkers, or peddlers. Travelling salesmen in today's parlance.

In 1871, Thomas is employed as a 15-year old shepherd at Calvine, near Blair Atholl. He lives with his parents James and Jean as well as five younger siblings, Mary, Margaret, Jane and Angus. Thomas is first mentioned in 1861, when he is a 5-year old scholar in Dunblane.

Thomas Brydone returned to his native Perthshire by the time of the 1901 census, when we see him at Garbruich, near Blair Atholl, in the company of their 4 younger children: Alexander (10), Jeannie (4), Isabella (2, should read 12) and Maggie (1). He died of myocardial degeneration on 4 November 1931, aged 76. He last lived at Pitlochry.

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