Home and Abroad

Home and Abroad

Home and Abroad

Home and Abroad

Excerpt

Ancestry in Scotland -- the Scottish emigration -- upbringing in Essex -- adjustment to environment -- village school -- early reading -- country grammar school -- system of education

M Y ancestors, so far back as I can trace them, were tenant farmers on the borders of south-east Renfrewshire and north-west Lanarkshire, in the parishes of Eaglesham, Carmunnock and East Kilbride. They had small dairy farms ranging from fifty to one hundred acres, somewhat bleak of aspect and not particularly fertile, stocked with Ayrshire cattle, sending milk and butter to Glasgow from five to ten miles away. It was into this community, closely knit by intermarriage, that my father and mother were born. It was a laborious and frugal life. The milk had to be driven in every morning in time to reach the Glasgow breakfast table. This meant, for the farmer and his family, rising in the small hours, day in and day out, winter and summer. Most of the farmhouses were of the old open courtyard pattern, small whitewashed stone-built dwellings with byre, dairy, stable, barn and other offices built out at right-angles from each end. In these small houses, large families were raised and sent out into the world. My great-grandfather, James Strang of Bonnyton, Eaglesham, and his wife, Elizabeth Jamieson, had nine children, of whom eight grew to maturity and had families of their own. The rate of survival was high. Education was well attended to. My father, James Strang (born at Bowhouse, Carmunnock), a member of one of the rare small families, was sent to Glasgow Academy -- he had to walk four or five miles each way every day. Later, he was given training in agricultural science, but this was exceptional. These severe conditions of life produced men and women vigorous in mind and body, hard-working, thrifty, secure in their opinions to the point of aggressiveness, self-respecting, cheerful, alert, pungent of speech and sparing of praise, honourable, upright and devout. Though they lived arduous lives, they . . .

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