The Swan Circle

A story of Georgian networking

An ancient ‘hen-wife’

18th Century Digressions, Society and Politics 1 Comment »

We research one thing and seem to be inevitably drawn towards another, hence one of my first actions after creating this blog was to name a category 18th Century Digressions. I seem to digress an awful lot.

So in the middle of researching the Hay family for a rather long blog post that will possibly emerge from my creative rut and fuzzy brain fog of late, I discovered this:

Dec. 10 [1772].—Died at Whittingham, in East Lothian, Barbara Wilson, a virtuous old maid, aged 120, hen-wife to Alexander Hay, of Drummelzier, esq. She had spent the most of her life as a servant in that family, and was so remarkable a genealogist of her feathered flock, as to be able to reckon to the tenth generation. In testimony of her uncommon merit, her corpse was conveyed to the common burial-place there, by a large assembly of females, uniformly dressed suitable to the occasion, and interred with the greatest decency. No male person was permitted to accompany the funeral.

I think the majority of us genealogists won't be expecting that kind of send-off.

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