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"Hamilton the Spouse"

Brenda came to Falkland in 1984, via Broughty Ferry and Glenrothes, moving with the Pharmacy businesses that she established with her late husband John.


Having spent a long time looking for the perfect house, when they first set eyes on Fleurs Cottage, Brenda and John knew it was the right place for them, and that Falkland was the most perfect of villages.


The house that Brenda settled into very quickly was originally built as a dwelling house by a weaver, John Hamilton;

“lying at the east side of the town of Falkland being part and portion of those Lands commonly named the floors.”

and

“the gable betwixt the Dwelling house already built by the said John Hamilton and the Dwelling house built by the said Walter Lumsden Junior should be a Mutual  Gable and so upheld in all times coming.”


In 1868 The Ground Annual payment system was set up by the Parochial Board so the cottage must have been erected before then.  The charge was £1 6s 2d (£1.33 and approx. £145.00 today) plus interest of 5% per annum, payable to the Parochial Board of Falkland from whom the land was rented.


With the annual charge came conditions:-

“And further the said John Hamilton and his forsaids are hereby expressly prohibited and debarred from placing Middensteads or allowing any manner of Nuisance in front of said dwelling house and in the event of their so doing, the said Parochial Board or paid Committee thereof preserve full power and liberty to remove the same at said disponis (disposal) proper Charges and Expenses.”

In other words, if you put your rubbish out the front and the powers that be have to remove it, you will be charged.  


John Hamilton, along with the other “proprietors”, also had to ensure that the road was kept in good condition;

“The said John Hamilton and his foresaids shall be bound and obliged along with the other proprietors contiguous to said road to uphold the same in good and sufficient repair upon their own resources.”

John Hamilton’s wife was named Christina and in the document of 1868 that established the Ground Annual payment, she is;

“Christina Lambert alias Hamilton the spouse” and the house would only become her property if “she shall happen to survive her said husband and to the said John Hamilton his heirs.”  “But reserving always full power and liberty to the said John Hamilton during his lifetime by himself alone to Sell, Burden or Contract debt upon the piece of ground after disposed onerously or gratuitously as he may think proper without the consent of his said spouse and as if her name had not been herein inserted heritably and irredeemably.”


So, Christina had no say whatsoever as to what should or should not be done with the house and piece of land, during the lifetime of her husband and their joint descendents.  Of course, Christina was not consulted as to her views on the matter!


John Hamilton died before Christina but not before the couple had three children; John, Betsy and Elizabeth.  


In 1910, after the death of Christina Hamilton the writs and the rents for the house and its plot were assigned legally to 

“Betsy Hamilton or Birrell wife of John Birrell, Blacksmith, Markinch.”

This was with the consent of her siblings;

“John Hamilton, Commercial Traveller and Elizabeth Hamilton or Young, wife of Andrew Young, Professor of Minerology in the Capetown University, Cape Town, South Africa.”

However it is worth noting that Elizabeth was legally obliged to add:

“And I the said Mrs Young for myself and with the special advice and consent of my said husband, assign, dispose and convey to and in favour of the said Betsy Hamilton or Birrell.”


So in 1910, over forty years after the first legal agreement, Elizabeth Young nee Hamilton, had to gain the agreement and consent of her husband in order to pass the family home to her sister!


150 years after the dwelling house was erected by Weaver John Hamilton on the land rented to him by the Parochial Board through the Ground Annual system, Brenda Kemmet lives happily in her home, Fleurs Cottage, with the weaving loom’s weights taking pride of place in her garden.

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as told to Liz Coates