“My name is Mike Tracy and I am writing to you today from outside of Chicago, Illinois, USA and extend to you warm greetings.
I have been researching my Buist area family history for over 40 years now and have been to your lovely twice in my lifetime. The reason why I am contacting you today is twofold. The first is recently I stumbled upon your web site, "Village Crier" and thought it was a wonderful site for the area's residents. My ancestral roots are in Abdie, as the Buist family were large tenant farmers of Abdie for many generations.
During the past year, the University of St. Andrews has asked me to write various articles on the family for their Manuscripts Division, of which I am honoured to do so, being one of the few remaining surviving members of the direct line. I do not know if you and the residents of the area would be interested in the history of the area, as it pertains to Abdie, but I am attaching to this email, an article I recently wrote on my 4th great uncle, one Henry Buist of Berryhill, Abdie. You might be interested in taking a look at it and for your history section, you have my permission to publish it if you deem it worthy.
The second article is one I recently wrote also for the University on my 4th great grandfather, one George Buist who was born in Abdie, Fife. I also attach this for your review as well. Finally, I would like to know if anyone in the area would be interested in starting a local web site geared to the History of Abdie parish? I think it would be worthy of someone that might be interested in doing this with help from myself on the subject. Can you recommend anyone from Abdie? The parish has a rich history and the families of Abdie as well, includ- ing the Buist family of long ago, have a story of their own. An example would be in Markinch. Please take a look at www.markinchheritage.org.uk. I thank you very much for your consideration and efforts and look forward to hearing from you.”
Mike’s contributions can be found below:
The Fifeshire Journal reported on the passing of a prominent Fife farmer, Henry Buist, Esquire of Berryhill on Thursday, 16 November 1865. It stated:
“In last week’s obituary we recorded the death of Henry Buist, Esquire, of Berryhill, at the advanced age of almost ninety-five years. He was cut off after a very short illness. His health throughout his life was excellent, and he retained the use of his faculties to the last, his memory being as vigorous as ever. Having been all his life engaged in agricultural pursuits, he was from the lengthened experience able to recount many changes in the modes of culture. He remembered the commencement of draining of Fife. Lime however was largely applied to the soil before his time. Five or six acres of turnips were reckoned a large extend for a large farm. He remembered the introduction of the thrashing mill, and how crowds went far to see the novel application. He remembered when the most respectable farmers in the county wore the broad blue bonnet, and it was only on the Sabbath that the most aspiring of them exchanged it for the beaver hat. One incident in his history will suffice to show how far tradition may go back; in his boyhood he walked from his father’s house near Kettle to Pitlessie, with his grandfather, who was born in 1690. Another such link would carry us back to the days long before the Reformation, and long era of James the First died of a broken heart in Falkland. At one period of his life, he took a part in the Justice of Peace Courts of this district; for domestic life he retained many of the courtesies of the olden time. He was upright and honorable in all his transactions, and many benevolent and charitable institutions will miss the contributions which he afforded them. He was buried in the family burial ground in Abdie Old Church on Monday last.”
George Buist, a tenant farmer from Fife, typified the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit in Scottish farming in mid-18th century. By setting aside a farm for the bleaching of linen he, like many others in lowland Scotland made a contribution that would see linen become the country’s most important industry until it was eclipsed by cotton in the later years of the century. He also lived through the height of the Scottish Enlightenment when new science was being brought to bear on Scottish agriculture.
“We have today to record the death, at St. Andrews, under peculiarly melancholy circumstances, of the venerable second minister of the Established Church there, the Reverend George Buist, D.D., at the advanced age of eighty-four years…Dr. Buist was one of the oldest ordained ministers of the Church of Scotland…held the rank of Moderator of the Assembly of the Church. He was attentive minister, sincere in the performance of his duties, a thorough business man and his loss will be greatly felt…” Thus ran the front page of the Dundee Advertiser newspaper for 20 April 1860 giving a small glimpse of the accomplished life of the Very Reverend Doctor George Buist.
“Perth Officer Dead. Ex-Superintendent Buist of Police Force. A Native of Fife. It is with deepest regret that we announce the death of ex-Superintendent James Buist, of the Perth City Police Force, which took place at his residence, Gowrie Cottage, Bridgend, Perth about seven o’clock this morning. The late Superintendent was one of the best known and one of the most popular officials in Perth.”
“On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. James Buist, Kirktonbarns, was entertained to dinner in the hall of the Royal Hotel, on occasion of his retirement from active business as a farmer…In proposing the toast of the evening, the Chairman said ‘Croupiers and Gentlemen, I now call upon you to drink to the health of a much respected guest. To the retirement of Mr. Buist from the scene of farming is like the removal of an ancient landmark. Few have been the days during that long period in which the tall form has not been seen stalking across his fields with his weedock in his hand and his weather hat on his head.’”
Thus ran the front page of the Fifeshire Journal Newspaper for Thursday, 29 September 1870 giving a small glimpse of the accomplished Fife farmer, businessman, investor, and benefactor one James Buist, Esquire.
“On Monday, the 11th inst., were deposited in the Dean Cemetery, of Edinburgh, the mortal remains of perhaps the most accomplished anatomist and the most successful teacher of his time. This language cannot be deemed too strong for John Goodsir. By the distinguished colleagues who were the pall-bearers at the mournful ceremony, by the numerous private friends, and by the 200 pupils of the present and past years; who followed their associate and master to his final resting place, it will be reckoned as but inadequately descriptive. The profession and the scientific world at large can appreciate the loss which his premature decease has inflicted on academic training and on anatomical research. But only his fellow workers of the University and of the class-room can feel the tender and solemn emotion with which the untimely extinction of a kindred life inspired…John Goodsir was the worthiest successor whom Scotland has yet produced to John Hunter. He had the combined solidity and force of intellect, the observing and the generalizing power of his illustrious countryman.”
Thus ran the East Fife Record Newspaper for 22 March 1867 giving a small glimpse of the accomplished life of Professor John Goodsir.
Andrew Buist, a tenant farmer from Fife, typified the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit in Scottish farming in the mid-18th century. Andrew Buist farmed the estates of Woodhead, Cowden and Craigmill in Abdie Parish, Fife and would later relocate to Markinch Parish, Fife. He like many other tenant farmers in lowland Scotland would make contributions to the improvements in agriculture. His son Henry Buist (1762-1822) was tenant farmer of East Mill, Strathmiglo Parish, Fife and Pittuncarty, Abernethy Parish, Fife. He would live through the height of the Scottish Enlightenment when new science was being brought to bear on Scottish agriculture and would play a part in those exciting changes.
“Andrew Walker Buist of Berryhill, Abdie, Fifeshire, elected a Fellow of the Society [Society of Antiquaries of Scotland] in 1857, died on 1 May 1877, in the 61st year of his age. In early life he devoted his attention to natural history, and chiefly to the study of the native reptilia. He succeeded to the estate of Berryhill on the death of his father in 1865. It is worthy of being placed on the record that his father, when a boy walked four miles to and from his father’s residence with his grandfather, who was born in 1690. The traditional recollections, therefore, of these two lives extended to nearly one hundred and seventy years.” Thus the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland reported the passing of a prominent Fife Gentleman and farmer of Berryhill, Abdie Parish, Fife.
Two centuries ago Dr. John Goodsir was among the best known men in the East Neuk of Fife. According to the Glasgow Herald Newspaper dated Saturday, 26 December 1868: “Dr. John Goodsir was a well-known and popular man. ‘The customs of the period’ in which he lived were primitive and curious, and the practice of the healing art in rural district was carried on in pack-saddle fashion and regularity. Dr. Goodsir would start from Largo on Monday, caparisoned for the week with drugs and surgical appliances and not return home till Friday as itinerant with his physic as the ancient Peripatetic with his philosophy…”1 Thus was the daily routine of one of Fife’s earliest medical doctors spanning over 40 years.
The immortal lines: “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old, Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.” “For the Fallen” written and first published in the Times Newspaper on Monday, 21 September 1914 this poem captures the dead of the war and the sacrifice these men ultimately gave. A fitting poem to all those men who served in France and Flanders during the Great War, soldiers like Private James Clark of the 1st Black Watch who fought on the battlefields of Flanders. This is his story.
William Buist was born at a time when Scotland was an independent nation. By the time he was 16 years of age he would see Scotland unified with England by the Act of Union of 1707. While this Act united the Scottish and English parliaments, the two peoples retained their national characteristics, their legal and educational systems and their established churches. Buist would farm like his father before him at his ancestral birthplace of Berriehoill now Berryhill. He would eventually become a tenant farmer of the estates of Denmill and Lochmill, Abdie Parish, Fife. There he would raise his family, carry out his life’s work and there he would die.
By Michael T. Tracy
On Monday, 4 March 1839 in the library of the University of St. Andrews at St. Andrews, Fife, there occurred a unique meeting of the Literary and Philosophical Society of St. Andrews in which members of the Buist and Goodsir families were in attendance. The members of the Buist family whose interests included geology and mineralogy met members of the Goodsir family who were distinguished surgeons of Anstruther and Largo and whose interests embraced anatomy, zoology, natural and human history. The two prominent Fife families where linked by the marriage of George Buist (1750-1797)1 a tenant farmer of Orkie, Kettle Parish, Fife and Christian Ballingall (1756-1834) a daughter of Christian Goodsir (1717-1760) whose brother Dr. John Goodsir (b 1719) was a prominent surgeon of Largo Parish, Fife. It was an extraordinary gathering of Fife intellectuals all in one room and never occurred again in their lifetimes. This is an account of the early origins of the Literary and Philosophical Society of St. Andrews in 1838 and of that remarkable meeting in 1839.
By Michael T. Tracy
On a cold day on Friday, 28 January 1831 eleven men of Abdie Parish, Fife gathered together on the frozen Loch of Lindores to begin an historic curling match. The Loch of Lindores is a freshwater loch situated in the north of Fife in the Parish of Abdie and the old Abdie Parish Church ruins are close to the north shoreline where these men were standing.
The Buist family had origins in the ancient city of Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. William Buist was the last of three generations of the family to be born and raised there. King Malcolm III established Dunfermline as a new seat for royal power in the mid-11th century and initiated changes that eventually made the township the de facto capital of Scotland for much of the period until the assassination of James I in 1437.
George Buist spent most of his short life in the Bengal Army. He was the first born son of the esteemed Reverend Doctor George Buist, Professor of Ecclesiastical History at the University of St. Andrews. The Bengal Army was the army of the Bengal Presidency, one of the three Presidencies of the British Raj within the British Empire.
“His Duty Done” are the immortal words inscribed on the gravestone of Private David Blyth Blair of the 14th Battalion, Black Watch Royal Highlanders. He was just 20 years of age when he fell at Moislains in the Somme region of France. The young Private of the dreaded Scottish Black Watch followed the sound of the pipes on that summer’s day in September of 1918 into immortality of those who lost their lives during the Great War. This then is the story of Private David Blyth Blair on the Centennial of World War I.