Diary of Mary Ravenscroft

7th Countess of Traquair, from 1782 to 1783

18th Century Life at Traquair

Here we let you look into family life at Traquair in the later 18th century, as recorded by Mary Ravenscroft, the wife of Charles Stuart, 7th Earl of Traquair. She was the daughter of George Ravenscroft of Wickham Grange, Spalding, Lincolnshire, and his wife, Mary Slater.

Charles and Mary married in 1773. Their first child, Lady Louisa Stuart, was born in 1776 and their son, Charles Stuart (titled Lord Linton as heir to the Earldom of Traquair), in 1781.

This extract from 1783 serves as a snapshot of life in the house and gives us a fascinating insight into Mary’s daily pursuits. It also lets us observe her as a devoted nurse to her young son as he suffers a reaction to his inoculation against smallpox, a medical procedure then in its infancy.

You will see references to the family possibly going abroad. They did in fact leave Traquair in 1784, with the earl convinced the fortunes of the family could be elevated in Spain. Mary died in Madrid in 1796, never having returned home.

Notes about the Diary

  1. It is unbound and consists of 55 loose folios.
  2. It contains many abbreviations. For ease of reading these are expanded wherever possible. Square brackets are used where there is an element of doubt. A colon, used by Mary as an abbreviation, remains where it has not been possible to identify the complete word or name.
  3. Mary has used the third person throughout, referring to herself as Ly. T., i.e. Lady Traquair. Her husband is referred to as Ld. T.
  4. As was usual at the time, punctuation is random, capital letters are used indiscriminately, spellings are inconsistent and dashes frequently used in place of full stops. This style has been retained for authenticity. The overall appearance of the script is hurried, with many marginal notes, additions and crossings-out.
  5. Marginal notes are given as indented text and are placed roughly in line with where they appear on the page, even if this destroys the flow of the narrative.

The Diary

Wednesday 23 April 1783

Linton was Inoculated in ye Parlour Lady Traquair held him on her knee – he only Cryed a little – Lord Traquair played with him – gave him Toys to devert him – went to Bed very pleasantly – he took 1 Grain Calomel [laxative] in bread & milk. Mr Reid went to Peebles between 8 & 9

Thursday 24 April 1783

Fine day

Linton had a good night, rose about 8 o’clock gave him 2 grains of Jallup in some Raisins kept his room all day was not washed & kept his night cap on. Lady Traquair made him Chicken Broth half a fowl Physic operated very well 3 motions had Rice Pudding without eggs or butter for his dinner did not eat much of it, but eat a great deal of Toast & Bread & took all his Chicken Broth

About 12 Coach went to Peebles for Mrs Rad: who arrived at Traquair between 3 & 4 with Mr Steward & Nurse Sawn.

Mr J[ame]s Ball: arrived at Traquair from Edinburgh about 3 o’clock – after dinner Lady Traquair Mrs Rad: & Louisa walked in ye Garden. Lady Traquair sent Louisa to gather flowers for Mr Steward Mr Cru[kshank] & Mr Ball: whilst she talked with Mrs Rad: told about Miss B.& Mr W. that Lady Traquair had inform Miss B. that she knows of ye Affair etc. Lord & Lady Traquair saw Linton go to Bed. Linton took porridge for supper.

Lady Traquair went first from Parlour to Mrs Rad: 11 o’clock did not intend to stay but staid till between one & 2 o’clock Mrs Rad: telling Lady Traquair about her daughter’s Lady appearing to them etc. etc. Mr Steward not well in his health speaks ye Galic troubled with Stomach Complaints Dr Gre: Grant attends him.

Friday 25 April 1783

Linton had a good night. Lady Traquair had the Calico Lining took out of his day Cap & went through ye house wanting his Clothes & hatt – as soon Linton was dressed & out of ye room Lady Traquair ordered ye Fire to be taken out of ye room & one kept in Blue room went out doors as soon as got his Breakfast.

Lady Traquair advised Mrs Rad: to prevail on her daughter to go to Confession to B[ishop] Ged[des] as being ye properest Person in her Situation to go to.

Had water porridge & milk – had his room well aired & Bed Curtains all up when went to Sleep – took good Sleep fore noon had week mutton Broth for dinner & pudding Mr McIver made without eggs or butter – went out again after dinner – had a very high Colour in his in Evening – eat his broth well but not ye pudding had porridge for supper. Lady Traquair saw him undress & go to Bed – left off his flannel waistcote at night had on a Calico one

Mr Steward took Calomile Tea before dinner & was to take it again in ye afternoon.

Mrs Rad: wrote her daughter to go to Confession to B—-p Geddes

Mrs Rad: told Lady Traquair Sir Alexander Strachan was to come to Traquair to endeavour to prevent Lord & Lady Traquair from going Abroad – & that Bishop Geddes wished ye family to remain at Traquair would do any thing to serve them – that B—-p Geddes heared Abbe Colbert advised ye Ladies at Paris to employ Wal: Fer: Lady Traquair told Mr Cruk[shank] a good deal what Mrs Rad: had said relating her daughter etc. etc. – that Mr Cruk[shank] & Lady Traquair believed it to be an Illusion etc. Mr James Ball: went away after Breakfast – Lord Traquair rode to Inverleithen to see the houses building.

Linton had one motion in ye Evening & Slept without fire in ye room for first night that year

Gard: told Lady Traquair ye nursery side of Good with ye bit going would answer him for Tilliage if Lord Traquair liked & then it would not alter ye Plan of ye Grass Parks.

Lady Traquair spoke to Mrs Rad: about girl hired for Linton by ye accounts seems as if she would answer.

A busy week at Traquair, with lots of visitors and neighbours calling by to enquire about Lord Linton. Mary is almost exclusively preoccupied with keeping a watchful eye over him…

Look out for a reference to the medicinal qualities of the mineral spring water at Innerleithen (St.Ronan’s Wells, visited by Robert Burns a few years later), and to the Iron Gates (now known as the Bear Gates).

Saturday 26 April 1783

Very Fine day but wind East
Linton had a good night – rose before 8 o’clock – Lady Traquair had his flannel under Cap took out today & lin: Cal: put into his day Cap. – went out at 9 before his breakfast.
Linton drinks less than usual had Coondy for breakfast. Lady Traquair would not allow Linton to go to Mr McIver’s room during breakfast being too Warm – ordered them to breakfast in great dining room – where Linton played him about – when he went out after breakfast had on only his blue Cloak came in at 12 went soon to Sleep took off a blanket – got a good sleep. Linton had no broth for dinner only rice pudding & Sea Biscuit Pudding – eat pretty well. David coursed 2 hare in going to Peebles & one at Provost Kerr’s who desired David not to mind his hedges but leap them killed ye hare & gave it to Mr Kerr who said Lord Traquair’s Doggs were exceeding good ones.

Sunday 27 April 1783

Fine day
Linton had a good night
Lady Traquair took out one of his Flannel Peticotes. Rose about 6 o’clock went to Mr McIver’s room to be dressed. – had hasty Pudding for dinner – slept well.

Mr Reid said Linton might be dressed at ye fire he had objected to it

Mr Reid came Evening to see Linton just got a sight of his arm which had taken effect Ordered him to take at night 1 Gr Calomel – 2 Gr Jallup next morning – Lady Traquair got Them of Mr Cruik[shank] but put them in his Pocket book & gave him just a little nay a little magnesia about a gr – for Lady Traquair did not approve of giving him Physic

Monday 28 April 1783

Fine day
Linton had a good night slept with only sheet upon him – went into blue room to be dressed by ye fire Lady Traquair took his Collar off his neck & took away his other flannel peticote &lining out of his day Cap.

Mr Grieve of Hassels(?) came to see ye parks again wanted to see Lord Traquair but when he heard ye manner of Letting them said it did not signify & would send his offer to Lord Traquair

Lady Traquair made him a hasty Pudding for dinner, was waked out of his fore noon sleep – run about alone in ye Bowling Green without hatt or Cloak – had Single hankerchief about his neck had a rice pudding for dinner with few Current that Lady Traquair made him eat a good deal of that & hasty Pudding Lady Traquair took the flannel Lining in his Stays had two motions Lady Traquair saw him go to Bed & asleep

Tuesday 29 April 1783

Fine day
Linton had a good night rose six o’clock Sleept well fore noon – had two motions got one with an Injection. – Lady Traquair made him barley Gruel with Currants but he did not like it – had pudding for dinner. Lord & Lady Traquair walked in ye garden till 9 o’clock

Lord Traquair turned Lady Traquair a thimble case of fine hard foreign wood – they walk a ? in ye garden till 9 o’clock at night Mr Steward gave Lady Traquair a pair Beeds of Spanish wood gave a pair Beeds to Louisa with a medal good against Evil Spirits gave Lady Traquair 2 Crosses &several medals – gave a pair Beeds to Mrs Rad:

Wednesday 30 April 1783

Fine day
Linton had a good night rose at Six did not like to be dressed because of his arm
Lord Traquair went to Breakfast at Mr Kerrs at Kerfield to meet Lord C. B. by app[ointment]t –Linton rode before Lord Traquair had pudding for dinner of Sea Biscake – eat his Dinner well
Mr Robertson of Ettlestone & Mr Needham from Darnhall came about one o’clock with Mrs Adams where they had supped & slept & dined – Lady Traquair desired them to go & take a walk
Mr Laidlaw Blackhouse came to ask if he might 2 or 3 ash Trees, whether his Lord give leave Lady Traquair told him she imagined Lord Traquair would allow him to cutt them as there was only 2 or 3 – asked him to come to dinner – Mr Robertson and Mr Needham had walked ye day before to Kailzie to breakfast & down to Mr Adams – Mr Stevenson ye Sherriff came about 2 o’clock.
Mr Marshall came between 2 & 3 saw Linton asleep & found him doing very well could not get a sight of his arm before he went. – went away after Tea ye Sheriff went away before Tea – Lord Traquair returned from Peebles to dinner here about 3 o’clock
Linton begun to shake & shudder a little in ye after noon out of doors Mr Marshall said that was the sign of his beginning to sicken
Linton had ye lining of his Stays taken out –

Thursday 1 May 1783

Fine day
Linton had a good night rose about six o’clock.
Lord Traquair sent the Coach to Peebles to meet Mr Alexander Gordon about 12 o’clock Mr Stuard went in ye Coach
Mr Steward went to Inverleathan & begun that morning to drink ye water for his Stomach which always pained him – Mr Gordon & Mr Steward returned about half past 2 o’clock
Mr Kennedy & Miss Bartram rode from Kailzie to inquire after Linton Miss Bartram did not [a]light Lady Traquair went down & spoke to her at ye Iron Gates – Linton had hasty pudding & Sea Biscuit Pudding for dinner – Mr Reid came in ye Evening to see Linton just as Coffee was over – Lady Traquair asked him to stay all night – had great difficulty to get sight of Linton’s arm
Mr & Mrs Horsburgh sent to know how Linton did – Mr Reid stayed all night

Friday 2 May 1783

The Seventh day the Small Pox begun to appear when he was dressed in ye morning saw one on his thigh & 2 or 3 on his back
Rainy morning
Linton did not go out before ten o’clock – had a restless bad night his feet & legs cold when Mr Reid looked at him before Supper & before ye Provost went to Bed

When Linton was dressed ye small Pox that appeared ye day before was much larger & several more was out

ordered them to be Capped up in flannel which brought on ye fever in half an hour on Thursday night drank a great deal through ye night Lady Traquair got no rest – was up almost every ten minutes to look at him Mr Reid saw Linton dressed in Blue room had 3 or 4 Pustulas out a large one on his thigh – ye Provost went away home before breakfast – Linton came in about 11 o’clock into great dining room Lady Traquair saw him he was a little fretty

Lord Traquair cut sparow gras [asparagus] in ye garden had it for dinner

she had not been gone five minutes before the Nurse called her to Linton, whom Lady Traquair found in a fit in window in ye great dining room, Lady Traquair took from Linton & held him part out of the window sent for Lord Traquair & Mr Cruk[shank] kept him all ye time on her knee Sprinkled Cold water in his face was an hour before the fit quite left him –

Friday’s events to be continued

Mary is now preoccupied with the care of her son, whose symptoms are becoming more pronounced. The two doctors from Peebles, Mr Marshall and Mr Reid, are in almost constant attendance, but she is beginning to question the latter’s advice. She is exhausted with having so little sleep but is not prepared to let others take over Lord Linton’s care. Her husband plays no part in this, and her young daughter, Lady Louisa, is nowhere to be seen.

There is a reference to Mr [William] McIver giving Lord Linton a sugar biscuit. He had first come to Traquair as a young man in the 1720s, serving as estate factor, and had served the family loyally ever since.

Friday 2 May (continued)

Lady Traquair sent Kidd away immediately to Peebles for Mr Reid or Marshall Linton when pretty well recovered was carried up stairs to Bed he Shaked & trembled very much – Lady Traquair gave him a little white wine & water warm he drank about half a wine glass – changed Colour a good deal when Sleeping – which alarmed Lady Traquair. Mr Marshall came about one o’clock – found Linton Sleeping. Lady Traquair never left the nursery did not go down to dinner, but had it sent up to the Nursery.
Linton Slept pretty well had his feet caped up in a warm flannel. – rose between 4 & 5 o’clock – & went through ye house – Lady Traquair went then to Parlour to take a glass of wine – the Evening being pretty fine Linton went out rode on ye little horse in ye Garden came into ye house a little after 6 o’clock – went to the nursery took a very little Porridge was tired & went to his Bed, had scarse been in it 2 minutes before Lady Traquair & ye rest perceived he was going into a fitt Lady Traquair immediately took him out of the Bed to ye window – Nurse Swan wanted to take Linton, but Lady Traquair would hold him herself – & sent to call Mr Marshall Lord Traquair & Mr Crukshank – who arrived first & Mrs Radcliff. The fitt was an exceeding Strong one. – Lady Traquair flung water in his face which seemed to have no effect for some time – was more than a quarter of an hour almost motionless – Mr Marshall said he was cold enough pulled down ye Window & ordered his feet to be put in flannel, when he came a little to himself was Laid on Lady Traquair’s Bed – after a little he spoke but did not know what he said kept repeating it for near half an hour, was then put into his own Bed & feet Capped up in warm flannels & Bed Cloths put over his body –Mr Marshall did not order him any thing – except wanting to give him a little emeitic put out 2 tea Spoons full Epe: wine in a glass – which he wanted him to take before dinner, but it was never offered to ye child. – Lady Traquair drank Coffee in ye nursery – Mr Marshall desired Lady Traquair would send for Mr Reid as it might be a greater Satisfaction to her to have him in ye house all night – Lady Traquair desired him [desired Mr Marshall] till she returned, went & told Lord Traquair & sent David to Peebles for Mr Reid who arrived about 10 o’clock at night, Mr Marshall then went away

Lady Traquair had got a bad cold in her head which effected her eyes much & had a terrible headach which hind[ered] her siting up all night as she intended but was often up through ye night & only lay down

Mr Marshall pretended Linton was not in danger though in ye greatest. – Lady Traquair did not go down to Coffee, had some sent up to ye nursery – Lady Traquair did not undress herself only lay down on ye Bed at times – Linton had nothing made for dinner – was not undressed at night only got his night Cap put on
Nurse Swan satt up all night – Lady Traquair went to ye Parlour to Supper & immediately returned to ye nursery

Saturday 3 May 1783

Fine day
Linton had a tolerable night – would not be dress so remained as he was with his Stay & Single Peticote on Lady Traquair was up several times through ye [night] only lay down kept on her Cloths – went out through ye day

Lady Traquair drew some radishes in ye Garden for Supper

Lady Traquair would not let Mr Reid go away – he went with Lord Traquair to Inverleathen & saw Mr Scotts Child which was doing very well – Mr & Mrs Adams sent to know how Linton did.
Linton had no appetite scarse eat any thing
Dairy Maid satt up all night – Lady Traquair did not undress her[self], only lay down – Linton had a bad [night] Lady Traquair up many times

Sunday 4 May 1783

Fine day
Lady Traquair sent Kitty to Call Mr Reid between 6 & 7 in ye morning – to see Linton who changed Colours very often & drew up his leggs – Lady Traquair was afraid he was going to take a fitt

After dinner Mr Stewart called Lady Traquair & gave her in ye drawing room a Crucifix from Rome red upon & 2 Relicks one of St Andrew apostle & ye other St Bartholomew & 2 medals which he sent into Town for Mr Menzes to send him

Mr Reid said it was nothing & did not order any thing – Lady Traquair could not make Kitty sitt up to Linton his drink when he called for it, & by ye time she was waked got up & come to his Bed he was waked which made him more fretty – Mr Reid went away to his room between 7 & 8 – Lady Traquair did not lye down any more
Linton would not be dressed rose about 9 0’clock Mr Reid went home after Breakfast about 12 o’clock was to come again at night – went out in ye forenoon was very fretfull when he went to Sleep & got only a Short one. Lady Traquair ordered him a warm bath milk & water up to his knees – which cooled & refreshed him & made him quite [quiet] & then put on him a pair of his Sis[ters?} Cotton Stock[ings] – then went down to Great Dining room had hasty pudding made which Lady Traquair helped Nurse Swan to do, but he could not eat it or any thing, then went out of doors

Had an injection

Nurse Swan called Lady Traquair about 9 o’clock Even out Chapel to Linton & that Mr Reid was come & with him
was a little fretty when went to his Bed – Mr Reid came about 10 o’clock found Linton sleeping when Lady Traquair was at Supper came to call her to Linton she went directly found Linton crying terribly – sent down for Mr Reid – who gave him 10 drops Laudanum in sugar & water which Nurse Swan put down his mouth – went to Bed again was very itchy – Slept pretty well till about 2 o’clock
in ye afternoon Linton eat 2 slices of toasted bread out of doors
Lady Traquair did not go to bed only lay down as before Jeany ye Chamber maid satt up
Mr Reid gave him ? which he eat too heartily [heastily?]
Mr & Mrs Kennedy sent a Card to know how Linton did as did Com: Robertson of Peebles – & Mr & Mrs Honeyman Hay Lodge – Mr & Mrs Horsburgh sent Lady Traquair gave ye Cards to Mrs Radcliffe & beg her to answer them

Monday 5 May 1783

Fine day but cold wind
Linton had a bad night Lady Traquair up several & was up from 2 o’clock till between 4 & 5 – about 3 o’clock sent Kitty to call up Mr Reid – & get ready a warm Bath milk & water to bath his feet, Mr Reid came before Linton was taken out of Bed saw him much distressed & though[t] ye Bath might ease ye Itching & do him good. – was bathed about 8 minutes which refreshed him had an injection got ready but would not take it went to Bed again about 4 & was a sleep in less than half an hour – Lady Traquair then told Mr Reid he might go to his Bed again which he did & Lady Traquair went & laid down – Linton slept till between 9 & 10 o’clock when Lady Traquair waked & asked if Mr Reid has been their Nurse Swan said he came into ye room between 8 & 9, look’d at Linton & she would not wake Lady Traquair because she had had no rest for so many nights – Mr Reid said he was going home but would return at night – Lady Traquair was angry at nurse for not waking her
Mr Pepper came about 6 in ye evening
Linton was very easy out of doors but in ye fore noon had difficulty to bring him in got ye fidler to play him up stairs to great dining room were he fell a sleep & then continued playing him up to ye nursery but Kitty waked him in taking off his Cloak & could not get him to Bed before 2 o’clock Lady Traquair satt by him that no one should touch or wake him Slept very well till between 4 & 5 never waked once then went out had difficulty to get him to rise – took him to ye Blue were there was a fire & put him a Clean Shirt & coat on – was very quite [quiet] after & went out eat a great many ? got a Sugar Biscuit from Mr McIver which he was very fond – came in about 7 o’clock took an injection & bath’d his feet went to Bed quite pleasantly – waked between 9 & 10 o’clock
Lady Traquair desired Mrs Radcliffe to make Linton a little hartshorn Jelly for next day
Mr & Mrs Kennedy sent again a Card to Mrs Radcliffe to inquire after Linton
Lady Traquair sent to Mr Scott Inverleathen to know how Mrs Scotts Child did, was doing very well.
Mr Marshall came after 10 o’clock while they were at Supper Linton went to Bed between 8 & 9 o’clock went soon to sleep – Nurse Swan called Lady Traquair just before Supper was finished Linton had waked & was very fretty – Lady Traquair went up Stairs immediately & sent Nurse down to Mr Marshall for some Laudanum, sent 13 drops 3 for spiling. – went to his Bed after taking it – Mr Marshall saw him when a Sleep about 11 o’clock – Lady Traquair did not undress her, only lay down. the dairy maid satt up.
Linton Slept till 2 o’clock in ye morning – then took a drink & fell asleep had an Injection before going to Bed at 8 o’clock with some oil in it kept great part of ye oil

Tuesday 6 May 1783

Pretty fine morning
Linton had a good night slept from 2 till 6 o’clock & from 6 to 8 o’clock – The Pustules begun to fill & were large – a great Quantity in his Face his right Eye 2 in ye Corner by ye nose on each Eye lids within side – several on ye Eye brows – his Body exceeding full & Itchey & so sore not able to bear to be touched lifted or be out of his Bed. – got up about between 10 & 11 just went down Stairs & returned to ye nursery. – went to Bed again, & kept it all day only rose about 9 o’clock Evening to get an Injection with oil – & Lady Traquair gave him 11 drops of Laudanum – eat nothing all day but some round sugar Biscuits with Carryway seeds that he called Snaps

Kidd went to Peebles for sugar Biscuits for Linton got ¾ pound

had had 2 or 3 yesterday, & would not want them this morning – Lady Traquair about 9 o’clock morning sent Kidd to Mrs Adams for some, & sent about a Dozen all she had – Lady Traquair sent to Mrs Scots Inverleathen for some she had none but sent some Diet Biscuits satt up in lithe Bed supported with Pillows his lips and mouth all full & sore – & throat same – which made him hoarse – got his Velvet Collar on yesterday – went to Sleep between 9 & 10 at night soon as Injection had no Effect but he had a natural motion in ye morning in his Bed about10 – his Eyes closed for some time in ye morning – Nose & Face very much Sweled & Inflamed
Mr Reid came between 9 & 10 o’clock just as they were going to Supper – Saw Linton with Lord & Lady Traquair before he went to Bed. – Lady Traquair called him up again soon after he got to his room to look at Linton’s Bottom as he was pained when he passed his water – Mr Reid said it was not Swelled & would do very well

The Pox at the height this day

Betty Dick satt up all night Lady Traquair did not take off her Cloths – Mr Reid told Lady Traquair Linton was much better than he expected he would have been, was more afraid to Inoculate[d] him than any one, that I should be satisfied he had had ye same pox & be under no apprehensions of his taking them again – that except ye fitts he thought he had them as well as need to be – & that when they had fitts it was generally a good sign & a good Sort – Lady Traquair laughed at all He said & looked upon it erroneus & quite nonsensical being thoroughly convinced he did not under stand Inoculation & the proper treatment of the Small Pox.

Lord Linton is still not well but is beginning to show signs of improvement. Mary remains steadfast in her attendance on him, and continues to question the doctor’s advice. It is interesting that it is not only doctors who prescribe for ailments at this time. The minister of Yarrow tells Mary of a prescription he has drawn up to help someone he knows.

Now that Mary is not quite so worried about her son she is starting to take an interest in other matters. Her daughter Louisa’s education, her husband’s financial affairs, new translations of the Bible and the situation of Jesuits in Russia all get a mention.

Wednesday 7 May 1783

Cold day
Fire continued in ye room day & night.
Linton had a very restless night did not sleep well at all, but did not fret only waked often & drank a good deal – Lady Traquair was up several times.

The Pox begun to Blacken & fall much

Mr Reid came to ye Nursery between 7 & 8 o’clock saw Linton a sleep – Lady Traquair rose off ye Bed. – and went to ye Blue room to speak to Mr Reid who said ye Pox would be at ye hight next day – & would come in ye Evening or Mr Marshall Linton kept his Bed all day, his Eyes weak had a natural motion about 10 o’clock very good – & had another natural about 5 o’clock Evening – eat nothing but biscuit all day – Slept a great deal thro’ ye day was hearty & merry – Lady Traquair stroked his face with dry feather & then with one dipped in oil of sweet almonds but he did not like that Was not quite so Itchy as ye day before – between 8 & 9 o’clock Linton was just lifted out of Bed for about 4 or 5 minute to have his Bed sheeted & made & to have his Bottom washed with warm milk and water
Lady Traquair gave him 10 drops Laudanum – went to his Bed immediately & fell asleep very soon
Kidd went to Peebles brought 2lb of round sugar Biscuits no seeds in them 1 s[hilling] per pound 1 dozen wiggs [slightly sweetened buns flavoured with caraway seeds] not good.
Lord Traquair received letter from Mr Seton inclosing letter of Att[orney] came by west port

Lady Traquair & Mr Pepper walked in ye Garden before Tea saw ye apricocks as large as one’s thumb – & the Cherrys far advanced Lady Traquair told Mr Pepper of ye arrest[ment] Lord T. Fen: had received from his Sister at Paris – & that Lord & Lady Traquair intended going to France both which Pepper had heard before thought they should not have given Lord Traquair trouble tho their money had been 4 or 5 years in arrears

Lord Traquair sent to Mr Reid’s room to desire him to come down stairs, but servant found him in Bed – Lord Traquair went to the Provost & told him he wanted to execute a letter of Attorney he had just received, upon which he got up & came to ye Parlour – Peter Nickel & David Spence servants to Lord Traquair signed witnesses, ye Provost filled up ye Blanks & signed Justice of ye Peace David Spence made ye affidavid of ye execution of ye letter of Attorney – Provost then went to his Bed Lord Traquair wrote a line to Mr Seton
Mr Pepper before Supper read Lady Traquair several accounts out of English papers – relating to ye Society & told her that a Vicar had been appointed by ye Pope’s authority in Russia over ye Jesuits where they take in novices – & that the Propagandi at Rome told ye present Pope he could shew Him a Brief Gandenella had granted in favors of ye Jesuits given ye Empress of Russia not only leave to protect ye Jesuits then in her dominions but desiring her to receive the Jesuits from all other nations into her Kingdom.

Mr Pepper told Lady Traquair Dr Geddes had differed a little with B[isho]p Tal[bot] & that Lord Petre’s then held a paper was what ye said Bishop which was supposed to be owing in some measure to ye Doctor that ye Bible is to be 8 years a translat[ion] & that it will not be well received on account in some manner of ye Doctor saying in his perspective that Dr Chanpelles(?) Translation of it was not a faithfull Translation.
Lady Traquair found Mr Pepper & Mr Stuart in Mr Gordon’s room between 2 & 3 o’clock
Jeany Grey the Dairy Maid satt up all night with Linton. Lady Traquair did not undress her only lay down –

Got 2lb round Biscuits from Peebles for Linton @ 1s per pound

Linton had a good night the best since Inoculation waiked about one o’clock eat 2 or 3 Biscuits took a drink & Slept till past 8 in ye morning.

Thursday 8 May 1783

Pretty fine morning
Linton had a very good night & the first night Lady Traquair did not rise. – Mr Reid came into ye Nursery about 7 o’clock found Linton Sleeping, went away Lady Traquair did not rise but [spoke] to Mr Reid as she lay on ye Bed. –
Linton waked between 9 & 10 o’clock Lady Traquair rose at 8. –

Mr Elliott came for first time to Louisa to teach her by herself Lady Traquair gave him 2 Oranges to give to her – Mrs Radcliff Louisa & Mr Elliott were in ye red room door bolted Louisa wrote Mr Conk[alton] a letter which he answered

Lord Traquair came to ye nursery between 6 & 7 gave Mr Pepper ye letter with letter of attorney to put into ye post at Edinburgh went away about 7 o’clock took materia(?) for Breakfast was to take a parcel from Mrs Radcliff of Peebles for her daughter –
Linton had a good natural motion about 10 o’clock eat nothing but Biscuits got a good fore noon Sleep rose for about half an hour before he went to Sleep – The Itchiness almost gone & Pox very much deadened was in good Spirits & played about in his Bed but did not like to leave his Bed. –
Lady Traquair gathered some flowers in ye Garden for Linton – took a few Tea Spoonfulls of Porridge in Evening for Supper between 8 & 9 rose for about 5 minute to have his Bed made & Lady Traquair gave him 7 drops of Laudanum – then went to his bed & fell asleep very soon –
Had a fine motion about 6 o’clock Mr Crawmond Minister of Yarrow came about one o’clock to know how Linton did. – Stayed all day. – said he had Prescribed with success to a woman who could not keep any thing on her Stomach for weeks past to drink a little new milk warm from ye Cow ye first milk as being ye thinest but before drinking ye milk order’d some opium to be desolved & a Cloth diped in it & put to ye Stomach for about 5 minute before drinking ye new milk which stayed on her Stomach & agreed perfectly with her. some days after had a little Bread grated into ye Bason before milking ye milk
The Evening was uncommonly cold. –
Lord C. B. wrote Lord Traquair part of his family went to Whim yesterday, & ye rest were to go today – would come to Traquair as soon as Lord Traquair’s money matters were settled would go into Town to get them ajusted –
Lady Traquair found Linton diverting himself with some Printed hankerchiefs ye Dairy maid had brought up from a Pack man below, Lady Traquair told ye Dairy maid Linton gave her one of those hankerchiefs for siting up with him for she liked them much, & Lady Traquair gave her 3s to pay for it. –
Mr Marshall came about 9 o’clock Evening

Mrs Kennedy sent to know how Linton did

The Chambermaid satt up all night – Lady Traquair did not undress only lay down was up 2 or 3 times thro’ ye night did not go to Bed till past one o’clock waked about one, cryed terribly was easy when he had made his water was restless thro’ ye night – Mr Marshall wanted to open some of ye Pustules with pancers(?) for ye matter, but Lady Traquair would not allow it, & told him he would get better matter anywhere else. –

Friday 9 May 1783

Rainy windy day
Lady Traquair rose between 8 & 9 o’clock Mr Marshall came up & saw him asleep – he went away after Breakfast between 11 & 12 went with Lady Traquair to Linton – found him out of Bed siting on Landale’s Knee, as soon as Linton saw Marshall he Cryed & would not let him near him – & Mr Marshall went out of ye room immediately Lady Traquair told him he need not Sleep here again at night, as Linton was so much better.
about 12 Mr Crawmond went away – Linton went into ye Blue room for half hour whilst ye nursery was cleaned out, wanted to go down stair but Lady Traquair would not let him – ye nursery Chimney smoked was Obliged to take out ye fire –
Linton got a good forenoon Sleep had a natural motion about 11 o’clock took porridge to his dinner eat heartily of them – about six o’clock took a good deal of porridge again for supper & eat a whole Slice of Bread. – Sucked a Sweet orange in ye afternoon. – had a good natural motion about 8 Lady Traquair did not give him any Laudanum as he had eat his Supper so well. –tho’ Mr Marshall had desired her to encrease the dose to night to 10 drops. – Linton had his Shirt & Stays & coat change to day. –
Louisa drew some coloured Spriggs to day in her own room with Mr Elliott held her fingers & arms right & did very well, asked Mr Elliott to come again next day –
Nurse Swan satt up all night Lady Traquair did not undress her
Linton waked about 10 o’clock was pained in making his water

Lord Linton is on the road to recovery. We now give you a flavour of other aspects of life at Traquair. It was a very busy household, with lots of house guests, visitors calling by, and involvement with the neighbours and the local community. In spite of being so busy, Mary never missed a day writing up her diary.

There was always time for some leisure and entertainment…

Mr & Mrs Murray from Darnhall arrived about 2 o’clock…Mr Harper dancing master came about one o’clock went away before dinner – left the Fiddler…after tea all the company took a dance but Lord Traquair in the great dining room. Mr Murray & Lady Traquair Col. Murray & Mrs Murray Mr Robertson & Mrs Grieve Mr Grieve & Miss Bailey Mrs Radcliff & Louisa. Louisa dressed in muslin frock with laylock ribbons & cap…gave the Fiddler 5 shillings

After Tea Lady Traquair Mrs Ballantyne & Miss Sally Ballantyne played at Cards, Game Catch honours

After Breakfast all ye Gentlemen & Lord Traquair walked out – returned about one o’clock ye Captain & his Brother played at Billiards… Capt Groom brought him a letter that he was to join his Regiment immediately the man was Irish & could scarse speak any English.

About noon a man brought a Play Bill that the Play of
“George Barnwell or the London merchant” With Interludes Songs &c with the Old Man taught Wisdom to be acted at Innerleathen to begin of 7 o’clock Pit 6d Gallery 3d – Lady Traquair Treated all the Servants with Pitt Tickets… – went from this house about 14.

[This play was first performed at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, London, in 1731, and remained popular throughout the 18th century]

Food and drink was plentiful and varied, and something in which Mary took a keen interest…

Mr Ballantyne sent Lady Traquair a fat Lamb about 2 months old.

After supper Lady Traquair ordered a Brandy Possett – which all took of – hindered Lady Traquair sleeping.

Lady Traquair superintended ye Coffee roasting 2 hours doing.

The Olives Linton eat did not agree with him.

Peebles Carrier brought 100 smelts a Turbot a Thornback 2 lobsters a dozen fresh herrings for 3s 6d

Edy Scott Fisher brought a fine kepper – Lady Traquair told him to bring fresh Salmon every week

Sporting activities were on the agenda for the men…

Mr Crukshank catched a Salmon at Carron bank we were all there when he took.

Lord Traquair about 12 o’clock went to the Curling at Grieston Loch came home about 4 o’clock.

Lord Traquair Mr Crukshank Elliott ye School master & Robt. Braiden went a Shooting…shot 3 Partridges

And the children were far from being overlooked…

Linton had his Toe burnt but Kitty would not acknowledge how it happened….Lady Traquair had the green painted Iron put before the nursery fire to prevent Linton from burning himself.

[Nurse] came in ye fly from Edinburgh… brought Linton from Ye Pans a Chamber Pot with his name at bottom & date & an Egg Cup, brought Louisa from Ye Pans a large Jarr of fresh Pandore Oysters & a bottle of ? liquor an Egg Cup & 6 small plates Queens Ware & 2 Tea kettles same.

Buchan brought Water Pot Bason Cow etc. from Preston pans for the Children

Louisa begun to cast her Teeth lost one of the bottom single teeth without any pain.

Linton left his Cradle for good & Slept for the first night in his new Bed

Left handed Fiddler from Bold came to know what days he was to come to fiddle to Louisa – said he had not got any thing for playing at her Birthday last year – Lady Traquair gave him 5s. for that day.

Lady Traquair sent for Mr Elliott schoolmaster at Traquair to desire him to come every day to teach Fanny to read & write. – desired him & Mrs Elliott to come & drink Tea with Mr McIver…Fanny begun to write

Lady Traquair gave William [Laidlaw] the eldest some sugar candy & some to George

Mary took particular pleasure in showing kindness to others…

Gave Buchan two Guineas for a new Suit Cloth[e]s

Chambermaid went away gave her a Ticket in ye fly & 5s for herself, for having stayed some days after Term & attended Linton

Smith came from Peebles to kill a Cow, but was so Ill went to Bed with a fever…[next day] Smith was about 12 o’clock put into a Cart with Bed & beding & sent to Peebles Kid took charge of him – came to his Senses before he got home – Gave his Wife 5s for Cha: & fetch her out of the field from Sh[e]aring

Lady Traquair gave him [Thomas Ballantyne] a lemon & two Bottles Brandy for Mr Ballantyne

Lady Traquair sent Mrs Grieve a hare

Lady Traquair gave ye Butcher’s widow at Peebles who came down 2s gave her 2 doeses of Rhubarb for 2 of ye Children Ill of Fluxes

Mr Elliott…brought a letter to Lady Traquair asking her to be present when Mr Ballantyne was Coffined next day…Lady Traquair gave Kidd orders to go over to Craig (residence of Mr Ballantyne) early next morning to offer the Coach horses etc etc etc…sent with him 4 Silver Salvers large & 2 Japaned waiters…Lady Traquair sent Kidd to Cragg {Craig] to inquire after Mrs Ballantyne Mr Thomas & Mr James

Mary cared about the poor too…

Mr Marshall [doctor] called about 3 o’clock & stayed dinner had been to visit poor People at Inverleathen [Innerleithen] & Boll [Bold] – many of the Poor Ill of Bloody Flux from ye Badness of ye Oatemeal.

Mr McIver went to Inverleathen to the Poor’s meeting…came home about six o’clock said they had raised £24 for the poor.

Lady Traquair spoke to Mr Elliott about putting the Widow Pow upon ye list of ye Poor for meal & to let her have a peck a month free & a peck under price for paying for.

And she was not without financial worries…

Lord Traquair went into Town to remit money to Mr Seton to pay ye mortgages in order to prevent them getting possession of the Estate.

Mr Grant wanted Lord Traquair to come to Town & bring with him a declaration that Lady Traquair would renounce to her jointure & mentioned putting in Lord Traquair aunts into ye heretable Bond. Lady Traquair suspects there is some thing at ye Bottom unfavourable to her Interest & would not give any declaration, said she would give up her jointure to ye creditors but not to ye Ladies his Sisters for ye extravagant additions to their large provision.

Lord Traquair saw Lord Elliock one of ye directors of ye Royal Bank, took him his intention of going Abroad…Lord Traquair told Dr Hay his intention of going Abroad, ye Dr said ye different Corporations were glad to lend out money on heretable security.

Now let’s take a look at what Mary was up to before she married into the family at Traquair – doing some careful research into eligible Catholic bachelors! Her main consideration in her choice of husband would appear to be his financial prospects, highly important for young women of her class at this time and on into the Jane Austen era. There are three possible husbands noted here, none of them Scottish.

But Mary put money considerations aside when she settled for Charles Stuart, son of the 6th Earl of Traquair. His family was living within its slender means, having suffered financially over a long period for its political allegiances.

This document has been described by William Turnbull, who catalogued the Traquair archives in the 1860s, as “A very curious fragment of gossipry”.

Mr Eyeres when his father Dies will have 4 or 5 thousand per annum & if Lord Widdrington makes his will in his favour will have 2 or 3 thousand per annum . – brought up at Douay his Char[acter] Can’t indure the Jesuites, of a close disposition positive to the last degree takes after his father, is very nice in regard of ye Ladies & satirical, thinks no woman handsome or Complete, very Bookish likes no sort of exercise or deversion, has a high Opinion of him self, never writes when absent to his father or mother, has good Share of Sence, by some reckoned good Natured but even his best of friends Calls him a whim & an oddity by his mother’s side madness, for which reason Lady Mary Eyers never wishes him to marry. Miss Langdale she having some thing of the same by her mothers side, age 3 or 4 twenty a very good family.

Ralph Sheldon when his father dies will have 4 thousand p[e]r an[num] brought up at —————- Char[acter] very proud & Conceited fond of his Glass reckon’d a rake a fortune hunter has died for several; is rather extravagant & not over polite in Company Esteemed rather a loose Christian a great fox hunter. is Called Sensible & by some good natured; but makes nothing of saying an Ill natured thing. his mother by Adultery, his father not an Old family, lives in Oxfordshire Age 6 or 7 & twenty

Mr St Tunstal between 2 & 3 thousand p[e]r an[num] & if his uncle Constable leaves him his Estate will have 9 or 10 thousand p[e]r an[num] brought up at Douay, is not prejudiced against the Society. Char[acter] very Bookish loves retirement don’t like to stir when he is once settled in a place vastly fond of London don’t like Company never Dines out a great Phylosipher is fond of talking like one of Books & his great delight & only pleasure is in having all sorts of Birds etc. Cats & such animals, is fond of paintings, Can’t indure music Spends most of the summer in Town but never goes to any diversions, the Chiefest places he frequents is the Tavern & Coffee houses in the mouring [morning]. his passion is for Books birds etc. which takes place of every thing else takes no exercise is not fond of Riding etc. nor traveling he never went on his travels; is very Childish. – has prayers every day. is Called Sensible & every ones says very good natured but his best friends allow he has an odd turn, & fear he will take after his father. he seems generously inclined, & Charitable he was an admirer of Mrs Welds, & wou’d like such a one as her Lady Arundell or Mrs Townly for a wife, by the by, all 3 very different women. Age 23 or 24 very good family.