History

What’s in the box?

In the attic of his Aunt’s house, George found a box. It was bit battered about but sound. A good example of a 19th century pine kist.

kist

These chests were very common in Scotland and had a multitude of uses. They could be simply storage vessels or they might be used to transport a family’s worldly goods as they moved from place to place, hired seasonally to work the land or perhaps to seek a new life overseas, whether voluntary or forced.

It was covered in thick layers of varnish and dark paint but obviously had good potential, so George set about stripping it down. But first it had to be opened and emptied. And so we found. This.

inside the kist

What we found..

Pages from a commemorative edition of the Glasgow Weekly Mail of 1871 marking the engagement of HRH Princess Louise with the Marquess of Lorne, later the Duke of Argyll.

princess Louise

HRH Princess Louise

Why had this been pasted inside the kist? We can only make wild guesses. It must have been decorative it can’t have served any function, it’s not lining there’s too little of it. We don’t even know who put it there. ┬áBut suddenly the serious sometimes forbidding looking people in old photos become more familiar. Could those newspaper pages pasted inside a chest be the 19th century versions of the posters of Donny Osmond on my childhood walls or Kim and Justin on Instagram?

bessie and robert paterson

Bessie (Hill) Paterson on left and her husband Robert on right, with their children. The little boy in the sailor suit is George’s grandfather (also George). Bessie and Robert married in 1879. Bessie was 16 in 1871.

It’s fun to imagine and make up stories but it would be even better if the real story or even parts of it had been passed down the years. But it’s too far back, even in a family with long memories. So the ┬ámystery stays in the box.