Category Archives: graveyards

Walking back into the past

A friend was nagging me to up my getting-up-and-going rate to at least one hour a day so that is what I’ve been aiming at in the past week. But a purpose other than health is needed to drive me on, preferably not always with the hope of a view attached. Views, in an urban setting at least, tend to require going up hills.

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The Harrison Arch

I did that last Sunday peching my way beyond my least favourite archway (just avoided it once when the car’s clutch failed on a downward run). So, while I am grateful for his part in Edinburgh Corporation’s acquisition of Blackford Hill, I wish the friends and admirers of George Harrison (1812[perhaps 1811]-1885) once Lord Provost of Edinburgh and very very briefly elected MP for Edinburgh South, had chosen some other way to mark his works and character.

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Topical reference to the constituency at the start of my walk: the office of the Last Labour MP following the general election…

Onward and upward I was rewarded with magnificent views over the city. Blackford Hill was once a regular stomping ground. Together with a crocodile of other beret-topped small girls I was marched up and round it on most of those days when hockey or lacrosse was not forced on me. Not all these outings were carefree: my time as a boarder must have been not only the year when Blackford Pond froze sufficiently for skating but also that of rabbits blighted by myxomatosis…

DSCF1989One illicit and pleasurable memory however: the school had a flu epidemic and myself and a fellow ten-year-old convalescent were sent for a walk. I clawed my way, gymslip and  dutifully polished day-shoes, up the steep muddy bank opposite the pond as my companion wailed well below. A rare breakout by a child conditioned always to set a good example. Still joy in the memory. What on earth was the school thinking of to send us out on our own.

However that was last week. Today, inspired by a miscellany of unplanned pre-birthday treats: my very first Edinburgh tram rides (slow and grinding trip to Ingliston and back), a stroll round Greyfriars graveyard, and some ancestral monogrammed spoons, I set out grave hunting. Aim: to locate some ancestors not on my Irish father’s side but belonging to my mother’s Edinburgh and the Borders line. I knew where they lay, in the graveyard of St Cuthbert’s parish at the west end of Princes Street. Refinding the stone was not as easy as I thought however but I was pleased to find that walking there then zigzagging St John’s and St Cuthbert’s burial grounds piled up paces sufficiently  to evade a blustery May shower and bus home.

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Long neglected by the family, indeed by me. I removed bits of branches, plucked out groundsel and wondered what seeds I might strew. Crocuses would not be a good idea– too many squirrels

The stone marks the grave of my great-great grandfather, his wife and several of his sons:

1847

The Burying Ground of Robert Chishom Jeweller Edinburgh

Sacred

To the Memory of

Robert Ainslie, who died 7th Oct. 1847 aged six weeks also

Robert Peattie Chisholm who died 25th Augt 1858 aged 9 years and 10 months

Robert Chisholm, Goldsmith who died 7th June 1874 aged 75 years

Ann Wyse, widow of Robert Chisholm, who died 1st Sept 1875 aged 64 years

John Fleming Chisholm who died 15th August 1885 in his 29th year

Edwin Millidge Chisholm, MB CM who died 8th September 1885 in his 32nd year

On a side panel: In Memory of John Thomson who died 28th April 1890 aged 64. The other side panel is illegible.

Ann Wyse, born in Glasgow in 1811, was already a widow by the time she married Robert Chisholm in 1842. Her first husband, a minister in Shetland, had died a month after she had given birth to twin daughters, both of whom died as they reached their first birthday. In Shetland? I doubt it. In Edinburgh? Glasgow? The death notice in the Scotsman does not say.

There, achieved my 10,000 paces. And at last started to add words to pictures. So walking back into the past works on more than one level! More on the family to come.

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