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Farming in Fife in the 1800s

Monday 13 March 2017

farmers-diary-mainbodyAn exclusive glimpse into how local farmers farmed their estate in the early nineteenth century has been made available to read online by the University of St Andrews Library.

Farm and Family in Early Nineteenth-century Fife – the story of a diary written by a local farmer between 1824 and 1833 – has been launched as an eBook on the St Andrews Research Repository and records the daily events and life on Greigston Farm near Peat Inn, just outside St Andrews.

The fully transcribed recordings from farmer Thomas Graham Bonar cover a period that saw two major issues of the time, the national cholera epidemic and the passing of the British Reform Bills, both in 1832, and include daily recordings of the weather with some temperature readings, as well as all the varied happenings on the farm.

Author Marie Robinson, who lives locally, spent many years transcribing the diary after she was shown it by current farm owners Tom and May Grant. The diary was returned to Greigston in the 1980s by a descendent of Thomas Graham Bonar, who lives in South Africa.

Marie Robinson said: “The diary provides a fascinating insight into daily farm life in the 1800s and is an interesting read for those who live in Fife. Recordings include trips on the cart to Cupar market and to the wool market in Ceres, as well as the more mundane daily farm tasks which often centred on drainage, dung and turnips!

“There are also intriguing glimpses of the local social networks of the time, for example when the local doctor, minister and female friends of the diarist’s daughter paid visits to the house.”

The University of St Andrews Library has provided support to enable the book to be made available as an open access digital resource which is freely available to read and download online.

More details, including images, are available on the University of St Andrews Library blog.


Image captions

News page: drawning of a Fife cow with annotations from the diary of farmer Thomas Graham Bonar

This page and news archive page: cover of Farm and Family in Early Nineteenth-century Fife

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office, contactable on 01334 467310/2530 or proffice@st-andrews.ac.uk.