Robert Paul, 1806

“Carnock Manse,1806,
Archy Paul to his brother Robert,in Edinburgh ”


Eunice Shanahan

This is a privately carried letter between two brothers, which was carried by a third brother, so there are no postal markings, therefore no date stamps. Despite the lack of official stamps, the letter itself is very interesting as a snapshot in time of more than 200 years ago in Scotland. The spelling of some of the words is not how they would be spelled today, and some words, particularly the names of places, may not be correct.

The letter is addressed to Mr. Robt Paul, West Kirk Edinburgh and marked in bottom left corner by the sender Per H. Paul.

On the outside is a note in a different handwriting, presumably by Robert when he received it

Brother Archy Carnock Augt 1806.

So the nearest we can come to the date is one of the four Saturdays in August 1806. The letter begins in a different language, which looks a bit like Italian, and could have been a family joke.
Carnock Manse, Saturday

Mi Care Riberte,

It is with pleasure I now sit down to write you. I received yours yesterday afternoon and the tasks which you gave me frighted me out of my wits. I have finished one paper already and I am now going to begin a second. I would be much oblige to you if you would send me some pens and paper. I have yet some paper remaining but I donít chuse to trouble Mr Thomson. John is very anxious that you should send him some tasks for he has nothing to do after 10 oclock. Harry & Robt went away this morning to Cavel (?) and have not yet returned. John & Catharine & I went out to walk early & came in at ½ past one. Harry is talking of hyring a horse & going to Tulliebole (this is Tullibody on the map?) on Monday. Tell Isabella that Catharine is going to write her &:is very angry at her for not sending her buttons.

We have had pretty good weather and the harvest is just about beginning. We are traversing the hills every day seeking Crow quills but can find no Men O’ War, but plenty of small.

(Note: I checked with the members of the Old English Mailing list, and had this response from one of them.

Haven’t come across any Men O’ War but crow quills are still sold, albeit in metal form from art suppliers. Crow quills can be cut to a much finer point and were used by artists rather than writers.

regards Keith Feeney)

The letter then continues with his local news.

There has been a good deal rain here this afternoon and is still raining. We are expecting to go and see Mr. Watson of Dollar with Mr. Thomson and stay a night or two. We have some nice views here I saw Edinburgh and Stirling Castle with the naked eye.

The people are very early hereabout they breakfast at 9 precisely, Dinner at two tea at five, supper at 9 & bed at ten. So by the time we are done with tea you are just done with dinner. Carnock is a little romantic village separated from all bustle and noise.

(Note: Carnock, Fife. This information came from the website of Scottish towns.

A village in Carnock Parish W Fife, Carnock is situated on the Carnock Burn 2½ miles (4 km) northwest of Dunfermline. The village is said to be named after St. Cearnock, one of the disciples of St. Ninian. It has a parish church built in 1840, but nearby in the old kirkyard stand the ruins of the original 12th Century parish church which was rebuilt in 1602 by the salt manufacturer Sir George Bruce of Culross. There is a fine gravestone with Latin and Hebrew inscriptions commemorating John Row (1568-1646) who was minister of the parish and the Church of Scotland’s first historian. For pictures and history of the place check this website

So now, back to the letter

Tell Mamma to send our old coats for we will have their ones done before we come back again. There was a sermon preached here on Thursday evening from Ruth 2nd chapter 12 verse.

(Note: the biblical quote from Ruth Chapter 2 Verse 12, from the internet.

The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.)

Many of our old letters contain references to the various church services and sermons, it obviously played a large part in the lives of many people in the 19th century.

The letter finishes with information about the children and good wishes. The ‘carrier’ mentioned is probably the H. Paul, who is noted on the front of the letter as being the person who is to deliver it to Edinburgh.

John runs about the house playing with Humming top. They have a Precentor (*) here that would fright King George out of his wits. I cannot distinctly read the writing of the tasks but I have made it out with much ado. There are some misspelt words. Robert was severely attacked with the toothach last night but is a good deal better today.

Mrs Thomson is to write Mamma on Monday. Catharine is as daft as the wind, she is often wishing Isabella were here. John sends his love to Mamma & says that he cannot be fecked to write but will write soon. I expect a letter from you this week by the carrier.

All here join me in love to you and the rest.
Yours truly and Affecly
In a hurry past 4 oclock Arch Paul 1806

Note: (*)precentor a person who leads a congregation in its singing or (in a synagogue) prayers.

Finally, and not part of the original letter, someone, has added a pencil note which is much harder to read than the original letter.

Written from the Manse at Carnock of which parish the Rev. Alex Thomson was Minister. His daughter Catherine mentioned herein married the Rev. Peter Cosens (or Losens?) Lauder ( or Lander?)

That note may help to identify family members related to this letter.


Copyright By E & R Shanahan
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