Anecdotes of Tam Turnip

In 1913, a Blantyre man writing under the alias name “Tam Turnip” shared some anecdotes and memories of old Blantyre from the 1850s in a local newspaper.

Thinking back to those early Victorian times of the 1850’s, he had a couple of small anecdotes to tell from his own childhood. He wrote:

“The minister (at High Blantyre) was a good man and a capitol preacher, but he had a de’il o’ a wife, who thocht naething o’ throwin’ a jug o’ soor milk aboot his chafts when he was ready dressed for kirk. “

Exploring that further for a moment, the minister of the church at High Blantyre in the 1850s’ was Rev Samuel Paterson. He married Sarah McKenna and they had two sons and one daughter, so it would have been Sarah he was talking about in having a temper. I can just imagine from Tam’s description, the poor minister getting into a domestic, his wife throwing sour milk over his face and robes!

Tam continues, “He (Rev Paterson) was succeeded by Dr Gloag, who afterwards became Moderator of the General Assembly. He was a great preacher, and soon filled the kirk. The Dr had little to say to ordinary folk, and inherited a peculiar walk which got him into trouble when a lad. He was hurrying after his father to catch a train when a gentleman gave him a slap on the cheek. The old man looked round and asked — “What’s that for?” “It’s for trying to make a fool of you by caricaturing your walk.” “Oh, he can’t help that! the boy is my son, and he just walks like his father.” The worthy Doctor paid great attention to his Sunday School, and made us write exercises on his sermons every fortnight. I am rather proud yet of having his signature in my old copy-book after he had written — “The best in the school.” — P. J. G. (for Paton James Gloag.) “

Rev Gloag is pictured. He was minister of the old kirk in the Kirkyard and first minister of the Old Parish Church built in 1863. He served in Blantyre for 11 years from 1860 until 1871.

Leave a Reply