A PATTERN PROVOST

Frae: R. De Bruce Trotter, Galloway Gossip (1901), p. 16

KIRKCUDBRIGHT, like ither sma’ touns, whiles had queer provosts. The toun at yae tae time had a verra auncient an curious Punch-Bowl, an maybe haes yet. It wus made o’ oak stabs, wi bress girds on’t, an had a curiously ornamentit buddum in’t, an maun ‘a’ been a gran’ affair at yae time.

Hooever, some great antiquary aboot Embro had read aboot it in a book somegate; an naething wud ser’ him but gang doon tae Kirkcoobrie an see’t.

He speir’t oot the Provost, an ca’t on him tae see the bowl, an lo! an behold! the Provost wus thrang ca’in caukers on his clogs, an the wife wus busy weshin dirty hippens in the gran Punch-Bowl. They maybe hae anither use for’t noo, but there’s nae sayin.

ALTER’T DAYS

THE FERRY

Note

Much the same story – down to the dirty hippens – appears in Gordon Fraser’s 1877 Wigtown and Whithorn: Historical and descriptive Sketches, Stories and Anecdotes, Illustrative of the Racy Wit & Pawky Humour of the District, in the entry ‘Wigtown Punch-Bowl, the Provost, and the Antiquarian’:

“Like the other Royal Scottish Burghs, Wigtown was presented by Queen Anne with a capacious mahogany Punch-Bowl and ladle. These interesting objects, recently repaired, are now in one of the presses of the Council Chamber. A good many years ago, the Provost of the burgh was visited by a gentleman of antiquarian fame, and the Chief Magistrate would have his learned guest to pay a visit of inspection the Town’s Punch Bowl. Arrived at the Courthouse, the Provost stated to the guidewife of the keeper of the Buildings the object of their visit, and requested her to bring forth the Royal Gift for the critical inspection of the learned antiquarian. We understand the chief civic ruler looked exceedingly confused when the homely housewife produced the lordly dish, meekly groaning under a load of unwashed hippens!” (1877, p. 374)

Partial Glossar

Definitions frae DSL (links are tae the relevant entries).

  • Whiles ‘Sometimes, at times, occasionally.’ [WHILES]
  • Provost ‘The head of a Scottish municipal corporation or burgh, who is the civic head and chairman of the town or burgh council and the chief magistrate, the Scottish equivalent of a mayor.’ [PROVOST]
  • Stab ‘A stave in a wooden vessel.’ [STAB]
  • Gird ‘A hoop of wood (gen. hazel or osier) or of metal, esp. for a barrel or tub.’ [GIRD]
  • Buddum ‘The bottom of anything.’ [BODDAM]
  • Somegate ‘Somewhere.’ [SOME]
  • Speir oot ‘To search out, track down.’ [SPEIR]
  • Thrang ‘Of persons (or animals): fully employed in any task or affair, actively and pressingly occupied in work, busy.’ [THRANG]
  • Ca ‘To drive in (nails, etc.).’ [CA’]
  • Cauker ‘The iron rim or plate fixed on a wooden clog or shoe-heel.’ [CAUKER]
  • Hippen ‘A baby’s napkin.’ [HIPPIN]