Thursday 30 June 2011

A Typhus Outbreak in Lismore

Tirefour/Lismore, Tìr Phuir/Lios Mòr
Given that modern medicine has advanced so much in the last decade not to mention the last few hundred years then it is sometimes easy to forget that diseases such as typhus, cholera, tuberculosis, measles, scarlet fever and so on, that are now to a very great extent completely eradicated throughout Scotland as well as elsewhere, were once the scourge of in particular urban but also rural populations. This particularly moving and personal testimony was taken down in August 1883 by Alexander Carmichael – who himself may have witnessed similar outbreaks of such a disease in his youth in Lismore – from Christina or Christy Campbell née Macintyre (1822–1896). Perhaps the most heartbreaking aspect of her story, apart from the fact that the typhus outbreak ravaged her loved ones, was the consequence of debt that she carried for many years afterwards. It is interesting to note that when she regained her health she stated, ‘When I got well all I had left were a few hens – neither of stock nor of crop.’ She further describes how she and her neighbours Dugald Buchanan, who was in arrears, and Donald and Maol-Moire Black, who were not in arrears, were put out of their farms and one single farm at Tirefour was created for Captain Campbell in Oban. It may be argued that the social dimension of such outbreaks had a far greater detrimental impact on rural populations and they could in fact suffer even more their urban equivalent especially with the added consequence of a looming threat of clearance.

About 1918 years ago this
Aut[umn], my brother Dugald
Macintire aged 44(?) took
typhus fever & in eight
days he was dead. My
husband Dun[can] Campbell
took fever & in as short
a time died. Each went out on a Tuesday –
3 weeks between. I drag-
ged both their bodies out
& put them in the coffin
on the field. & I weak
watching them & fighting
with them for they came
strong & feverish. My
nephew Don[ald] Mac
corquodale aged ab[ou]t 13
was down & pulled thro[ugh]
brothers & sister’s boy Dun[can]
Macintire aged 4 y[ea]rs was
down – but pulled thro[ugh].
Mary Carmichael aged
30 30 ab[ou]t 30 was down – A
cousin of weak[mind] I
then lay in fear & lay
unconscious for 3 weeks
& till beg[inning]of spring was weak.
I crept on my magain
to eadar da bhi an doruis
The carts carrying away
our corn were passing
our door but I could not
see them being weak. The
cattle then were all away
– driven away by Do[mh]n[al]l
Iain bhain. We had
4 cows, 1 horse good 2 queys
2 stirks 1 pet lamb which
I fed from the gogan.
The crop was good.
When I came my service
on the Galldac[hd] my mother
& brother were £31. That I paid.
A few years before my
brother died (3 y[ea]rs ) my
bro[ther] lost the price of a ho[r]se
while ret[urn]ing from market
This threw us about £8 in
arrears. We got no
warning & no sale was
made – either of crop
or stock. When I got
well all I had left were
a few hens – neither of
stock nor of crop. pota
Potatoes & corn gone –
I aft[erwards] got one from
Gregor. I got the byre
of a neigh[bour] Dugald
Bauchann Who had been
similarly served. Our
neigh[bours] Donald & Maol-
Moire Black brothers were
not a penny in arrears.
Their farm ours and
Dugald Buch (Buchanan). were put
out & one farm made
of the whole Tirphuir
now in poss[ession] of Cap[tain] Cam[pbell]
Who kept you up there
Bha Ni math fear a
b urrainn – I got paid
relief for my sister[-in-]law[’s]
boy & when Early in Spring
I was delivered of a boy – I was
ab[ou]t 8 mo[months] mar[ried] When
my boy was ab[ou]t 9 y[ea]rs I saw
I could give him no scho[o]l
so I had to app[ly] for relief –
This cont[intued] ab[ou]t 5 y[ea]rs.

CW120, ff. 14v–17r.
Image: Tirefour/Lismore, Tìr Phuir/Lios Mòr.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post however , I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this topic?
    I'd be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Kudos!


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4

Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4
Stone whorls collected by Alexander Carmichael, held by West Highland Museum (ref. WHM 1992 13 2.4). [©]