Wednesday, August 13, 2008
July 17th 1827
Rev. James Turnbull
No. 21 Salisbury Street
My dear son and daughter
I am happy to inform you that we are all healthy and comfortable and as the fair is all over and are now begun to work. Your mother and Alex, God willing, hopes to see you both on Thursday. They are going in the track boat so I hope that one of you will be there to receive them for they will be at a loss to find you as none of them has been there as yet and when you meet them you will make them as comfortable as you can. What shall I tell you that Jane Clarkson is dead. She died on the third day of July and Robt Bogle is to
be burried this day. There are a number of your friends wishes to be remembered to you but your mother will inform you of them all.
I remain your loving father
This is the first letter in the book. Son and Daughter refer to James Turnbull and his sister Betty, who was apparently staying with him in Edinburgh where he had recently moved to become a minister after attending Glasgow University. He served as minister at Brighton Street Relief Church in Edinburgh. Their father Robert, was a baker in Bridgeton, a suburb of Glasgow, at this time although the family was from Stitchell and earlier Sprouston. Robert and Agnes Fairbairn were married in Sprouston and Smailholm, the town where the Fairbairns lived. The Glasgow Fair, held every July, was a major event and as such must have been a busy time for a baker, hence the need to mention it in the letter. Alex is Betty's son and in the future writes several letters to the Rev. James, sometimes signing himself Alex Turnbull and other times as Alex Turnbull Smith. Betty married a William Smith but to date I have been unable to find a birth record for Alex. I assume he was born out of wedlock and perhaps later adopted by William Smith. At the time of these letters, he appears to be living with Robert and Agnes Turnbull and Betty appears to be unmarried or widowed. She is apparently in Edinburgh helping the Rev. Turnbull with household duties as he settles in to life in a new town. The track boat mentioned was a form of boat or barge used on canals pulled by a horse along a tow path so they most likely travelled on what is known as the Union Canal today.
At this time, the Rev. James is living on Salisbury Street, which I am assuming is the same as Salisbury Road in modern Edinburgh. It is interesting to see on the map just how close that is to Blackett Place which will become of much more importance to the Rev. James in the future.