Much of the following has been taken from 'Kintyre - The Hidden Past' by Angus Martin.
"Destitution, Disease and Death." I modified the texts slightly as they are sometimes far from easy to read.
But the book is extremely interesting and goes everywhere with me !
With many of my ancestry timelines, I try, when possible, to add aspects relative to national events, environment or even period costumes..., in order to get a better perception of the life and times of the person being researched. However, the following was to upset my 'frilly vision' of summer hats, long dresses and trimmings that go towards a 'clean-living' society and a healthy environment... Little did I know !
The keeping of pigs in south Kintyre, (Doories or Doorkies) - occupied a special role in Campbeltown's domestic economy for hundreds of years.
The custom proved very difficult to break because pigs were not merely food and income for the population, but in many households, they were also treated as pets and gained the favour and affection from the children.
A great many pigs enjoyed complete freedom and like the dogs, prowled the town as they pleased. No doubt they performed a useful service as scavengers but the quantity of dung they dropped through the streets must have been great, and as great a nuisance.
The number of pigs kept in the town on one count alone had been calculated at between 1500 and 2000.
Pigs often met with fatal accidents while falling from first or second floor windows; and a story about one particular Campbeltown woman who kept a massive boar in her attic became the talk of the town. One day, its head was seen peering out of an attic window by a passer-by. Fascinated, he asked the woman how she had managed to get it up all the stairs. "Up the stairs" she exclaimed..., "he's never been doon the stairs" she added !
In 1835 at Dalintober, pigs were allowed to be kept in the houses of the poorer inhabitants and could be seen revelling in all the luxury of accumulated mud and filth upon the road; and a few minutes later, they'd be enjoying themselves stretched out before a log fire with their filthy carcasses steaming perspiration and effluent.
Also, the free-ranging pigs of Dalintober relished 'pottle'! (pot-ale, or the effluent from the first distillation of whisky) They'd be seen frequently indulging themselves at the Pottle Hole, a sandy basin in the Mussel Ebb, opposite Princes Street. Dalintober distilleries had the habit of discharging their waste into this stream, which welled up at the Hole and the pigs would wander in for a drink.
In October 1853, the appearance of cholera in Kintyre had been anticipated and precautions began to be enforced. On the 26th of that month, a special meeting of the parochial board was convened at which an 'active and efficient' committee was appointed.
That committee met the following day and began its preparations. An 'Inspector of Cleansing' was chosen; the town and parish was divided into districts with a supervisory committee appointed to each district; and a depot was created from which supplies of free lime were to be issued to the poor. (to be used for washing their houses)
Medicines for bowel complaints were, by arrangement with the town 'druggists' to be given free, not only to the poor but also to any person whose ability to pay was doubtful. A proclamation was then issued 'calling upon the inhabitants to cleanse and purify their houses and premises.'
By the 1st of February 1854 - with the community gripped fast in the epidemic and already 17 deaths - the cleaning of the burgh was well advanced; but the scale of the operation had been overwhelming and as such, certain aspects still remained unfinished.
More than 700 cartloads of dung had been removed from the town and numerous derelict buildings cleared out and bricked up.
Two medical officers had been employed at the remarkable fee of two guineas each per day and a soup kitchen had been established with the happiest results.
Legal action had been taken against no fewer than 24 individuals for the non-removal of swine and pigsties.
The custom continued in Campbeltown ! In 1866, Mary McMillan or McKinven - "a widow presently in the custody of the police" - was charged that she "did keep swine in the house occupied by her as a dwelling-house in, or near the lane between Kirk Street and Shore Street."
However, short memories followed the epidemics, with the council withdrawing from suggestions that "poor people should be compelled to put away their pigs or cows." Reasoning that their removal would take away a principal stimulus to industry and the economy for the poorer classes.
That argument was echoed more than 60 years on in 1911, when Peter McGown in Dalaruan, appeared at court on a charge of "keeping in the vicinity of his dwelling-house, sixteen pigs which are a nuisance and an annoyance to the inhabits of the neighbourhood." The case provoked an angry response from one A. McLeod, who claimed victimisation in the action. His letter to the Campbeltown court was headed...
"Man's inhumanity to man":
It went on...
"These two poor old people have been in the habit of keeping a number of pigs for years back, and no one has ever objected to the 'intolerable nuisance' caused by the swine until one or two extra fastidious personages got anchored in Dalaruan; and their patrician code of morality did not include the herding of swine in their immediate environment. Now, when these apostles of sanitation have succeeded in taking away the means of livelihood from these poor old folk, what steps are they going to take to help them eke out an existence, precarious at all times, but more so now than ever.
The practice of Campbeltown pig keeping lingered on in the domestic economy of Campbeltown until WW2.
Longrow : I distinctly remember my Granny Black,(father; Robert MacFarlane McArthur and living at Dalaruan as a butcher) preciously separating household waste. Not for ecological reasons as we do today, but in order to give it to the man climbing the stairs with a 'swill-bin' over his shoulder to feed the familys' pigs behind the Low Askomil Road...