Looking for Abercorn
by Joe Palmer
[ places - september 03 ]
(For Zbigniew Herbert, author of The Barbarian in the Garden who discovered a sense of unity with a cultural heritage after Communism hid it, much as I discovered a sense of unity with a cultural heritage after Pragmatism hid it)
This existence of ours has many dimensions that inform consciousness. The facts of our lives are connected with those of others, their meanings lying in the intersections and interstices of lines of memory. There is no now without then, past and future. Whatever obtains now depends on what was and what will be, knowing and feeling depending on connecting the lines and the spaces between them, and thereby generating lateral, metaphorical links of similarities that inform us and make more links.
The simplest thing, a name, a thing, an idea, a place, a relationship is a knot in a four-dimensional cloth. (There's a metaphor!) Time is a solid substance permeable in all dimensions. You and everything are and were and will be affecting and being affected by everything. We know something before we feel anything, and vice versa.
"J'éxiste parmi les choses qui sont et je les contrains à m'avoir indispensable."
"I live among the things that are, and so I make them make me indispensable."
On one of those Saturdays in September when the air feels like sweaters and smells like cider, our friend Sir John Walton asked Principessa and me to meet him and an architect he had hired, to help him look at an old house in a wee, pretty village in a valley in the mountains down on the Vermont border. That afternoon we joined them and Earl McCurdy, whose lovely old house we were to inspect and appreciate, in Abercorn.
The rambling house we looked at might be the oldest in the village, having served as a general store and post office near the gristmill and sawmill that stood either side of the Sutton River, a short tributary of the Missisquoi, which flows down to Lake Champlain, emptying Sutton Flats under the mountain, formerly powering the mills built originally by Thomas Shepard, a Loyalist from New Hampshire. Before the railroad and post office came they called the village Shepard's Mills. It is just Brigadoon, a misty little Scottish town that appears sometimes.
Earl McCurdy's house was elegant, with windows extending down to the floor in the parlor, its old hearth and pine floors appealing. Sir John said he'd take it, so then I asked the Earl whether there was another good old house nearby. He pointed to a house down the street, a four-square French cottage with pilasters, the Loyalist Pine Cottage beneath a huge old white pine tree, telling us that the tree was one of the original pine trees planted in 1830 by the United Empire Loyalists, the Americans who moved by choice to Canada after the American Revolution to show their solidarity with others in allegiance to the Crown. We bought it. So now we live in Abercorn in Sutton Township in the Eastern Townships of Quebec in Canada, in effect in three nations. The Eastern Townships are contiguous with and are historically and culturally a part of New England and New York, having been settled by Americans. Vichy Quebec is to a large extent an American Kurdistan, a French-speaking nation in Canada that spills over into Franco-America, that is, into New England and Florida. I am a Canadian citizen by choice, a United Empire Loyalist, born and raised an American. Why I am a Canadian: Canadians are nice, they don't abide or allow abject poverty, and they have twice as many college degrees per capita as any other country. Also, they are guaranteed good government by their constitution, and they don't lock their doors.
Abercorn is 70 miles southeast of Montreal in Quebec yet in the Green Mountains east of Mt. Pinnacle, near a fall line at the foot of Jay Peak in Vermont, a mountain as tall as Ben Nevis in the Grampian Mountains of Scotland, over 4,000 feet high. It was under Ben Nevis at Glen Nevis that Agricola defeated the Caledonians in 83 AD. Abercorn, the southern part of Sutton Township, has about 400 inhabitants, fewer than half of whom resides in the village proper, which gives of bird and bush like every other crossroads in these hills. Deer walk through the garden of the Loyalist Pine to go to the river just below the cottage. On winter nights coyote and wolf howl in the woods, turkey roost in the trees, and bear snore so softly you can hardly hear them. One family of moose shares the Alderbrook Marsh, a boreal forest just above the village, with fox, marten, partridge, and Canada jay.
To the west of Abercorn, beyond Pinnacle Mountain lies the former Seigniory of St Armand and the site of the mill at the mouth of Pike River on Missisquoi Bay, where the first Abercorn settlers took their grain. Black slaves who were imported after the American Revolution by an Englishman, Philip Luke, worked the land of the former seigniory, a large plantation, until 1833 when slavery was abolished. The Blacks are interred at Nigger Rock, a glacial erratic near their old stone chapel.
People ask me, tongue in cheek, what's new in Abercorn, because lately there has been so little to talk about in Abercorn that nothing new is a standing joke. In the old days of the prohibition of alcohol in the United States, which you must remember is only one mile from the front door of the Loyalist Pine Cottage in Canada, Abercorn was the location of several popular fountains of debauchery as a consequence of its lying on the rail line between Boston and Montreal. The closest legal liquor was in Abercorn. Customers arrived by train or automobile from Vermont to take advantage of the carnal delights of The Abercorn House, The Prince of Wales Hotel, The Bucket of Blood Tavern, and The Abercorn Hotel, none of which any longer exists except in memory. It used to cost 75 cents to come by taxi from the railway station in Richford, Vermont, three miles away. In those days the border was wide open, with local folks going the 33 to St Albans, Vermont to get married, or to die in the hospital there, and with Americans coming to Abercorn to spend their money. When you tell old-timers down in New England that you live in Abercorn, they roll their eyes and smile.
In 1945 the first telephone line came, following the "hydro," as the locals call electricity, and later the Protestants sold their church building to the Roman Catholics because many more French speakers came. These had been the only events worth talking about since the roadhouses burnt down, all of them, that is, except the old Abercorn Hotel, which later made a grand light on the night of the Millennium.
After we came here in the Eighties the principal excitement of note was the destruction of a man's home in the village by legal fiat. Mayor Beaudoin and others didn't like the looks of the cabin of René Desnoyers on the main street, and they were ashamed to live near him. René, a pack rat with a full black beard and shoulder-length hair, resided alone except for several pigs in that dwelling, which had once been the customs building on the border, down at the end of Thibault Street. He had had it moved to the plot of land his mother owns near the corner of Thibault and Church Streets, the cross roads, when it was replaced by a proper customs house. René collected worn out machines from farms, milk separators, wagon wheels, and beehives that filled the yard and garden around the building. They lay outside rusting and buzzing, giving the aspect of a rural slum to this lovely village. So the mayor got an injunction, and when René would do nothing but scoff at the court order to clean up his premises, she hired its removal. One fine day bulldozers came, and with trucks they hauled everything, building and all, to the landfill, and sent René a bill for $10,000. He now lives with his mother on her farm, his pigs in a shed, her lot in the village empty. His misfortune gave the wire services something to fill the news with, but nobody cared, his castle where it belonged.
Another miscreant, John Jones, lived with numerous raucous relatives near the center of Abercorn, amidst dead cars and pickup trucks, tethered dogs and mud, in a house that had not been painted for decades, a shambles among the white clapboard walls, pastel pilasters, and the neat gardens and lawns of the nearly perfect village. After Denis' fate, no one doubted the mayor's determination to keep property values up, but Jones defied the order to clean up his place and paint his house. After some urging he removed the trash and disused cars. Then the order came to paint, or else So Jones mustered his friends and relatives, supplying them with beer and paint. The house became a Christmas gift to the village in Kelly green and Santa Claus red.
The name of the village, as far as we know, was chosen for the railway station and post office toward the middle of the 19th Century by James M Ferres, who had opened a general store in a new building near the river. It replaced a store kept since 1830 by John Brewster in a house where one of the Spencer families lived. Ferres was a deputy of the Parliament of Lower Canada, that is, of Quebec, and so he must have had some say in the giving of names.
But why did he choose "Abercorn?" And where and what is the Abercorn that Ferres chose to honour? The question has been asked recently because the village will celebrate its 75th year soon, its incorporation dating from 1929. This village with a British name sits in a lovely valley surrounded by hills like those in the Highlands of Scotland, in a Canadian province controlled by a sometimes silly and spiteful majority of descendants of ethnic-French peasants, in a glen where no one but aborigines lived when the French colonized the arable, riverine territory nearby.
Look in the books and you'll find that Abercorn is the name of a winery in Australia at Mudgee near Sydney, the name of a private school in London, a street in Edinburgh, a hotel near the airport in Vancouver, a street in Savannah, Georgia, formerly the name of a town in Northern Rhodesia, a hamlet and church in West Lothian, and with the spelling "Abercarn" a village in Wales formerly called Newbridge.
Aber- is Welsh, that is, Gaelic, for confluence or river mouth. Similar names are l'Aber-Wrac'h in Brittany, Aberdare, Wales, and the Game Park in Kenya, Aberlady, Aberbrothok (Arbroath, where Robert the Bruce met with the nobles to resist Edward II in 1320. Note the rhotacism, or floating R, in the name. R is a liquid sound, not simply the same all the time. It tends to get transposed. Ran used to be Arn, for example), Abercrombie, Aberdaugleddyf, Aberdeen, Aberfeldy (where the Black Watch Regiment came from in 1725), Aberfoyle (Rob Roy's home), Abergavenny (Gobannium), Abergwaun (Fishguard in Wales, which the French tried to invade in 1797), Aberhonddu (Brecon), Abernathy, Abertawe (Swansea, Dylan Thomas' home), Abertiefi (Cardigan, where the Norman castle was destroyed by Cromwell's Parliamentarians), Abertillery, Aberystwyth, Aberangell, and plain old Aber.
And why did they name this village "Abercorn" when it was incorporated in 1929? It was because the post office and railway station had been given the name 80 years before. Why did JM Ferres choose it? He chose it perhaps because it was and still is an illustrious name accorded a famous family.
A busy thoroughfare in Savannah, Georgia, Abercorn Street, was named after James Hamilton, Seventh Earl of Abercorn (1685-1744), who had given £100 to the Trustees of Georgia when it was a colony. A road, which later became a street with this name, was laid out in 1735. It led to a village they called Abercorn about 15 miles outside Savannah, founded in 1733, and abandoned in 1737 because of hostile Red Indians.
That setback to colonization was temporary, but there is no Abercorn town in Georgia today. Similarly there is no Abercorn town in Northern Rhodesia in South-Central Africa today, for Rhodesia no longer exists. The town called Abercorn by the British colonists in Rhodesia is now called by the name Mbala, which was the name of the suburb, or rather, the area of segregation outside Abercorn, Northern Rhodesia, where the native Bantu workers lived.
Toward the end of the British Empire in the 1950s and 60s more than 1,000 servants lived in Mbala to serve the needs of about 250 British citizens of Abercorn, at the northern entry to Rhodesia on the way to the capital Lusaka, at an altitude of 5,400 feet near Kalambo Falls at the south end of Lake Tanganyika. The spectacular waterfall in the Rift Valley, 726 feet high, is the site of important archeological finds. Fewer places than Abercorn have had a longer occupation by human beings, it being possibly the oldest continually occupied town in the world, with many nearby artifacts dated to 10,000 BP, and others to 60,000 years. The renowned archeologist J Desmond Clark recently published Kalambo Falls Prehistoric Site in three volumes (Cambridge University Press) describing the vast cultural and vegetable remains in the basin above the falls that show human occupation levels and horizons from the close of the Acheulean Industrial Complex to the present. The climate is ideal, the temperature remaining between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit year round, with 44 inches of rainfall. Such salubrious climate is one of the reasons why European settlers went to the central African highlands in the first place.
Colonists had been arriving there since the first missionaries in 1870 had pacified the land so that remittance families could come out from Britain to grow coffee and raise cattle. Crown land was available for alienation for farming. They built a community center with an inter-denominational church, a jail, and a hotel where every month of May the families would have a grand party for three or four days, camping in the boma so they didn't lose anyone to wild animals, with shooting, cricket, dancing, and horse racing, with beer from German East Africa and whisky from Broken Hill, New South Wales, at £5 the case.
In June 1914 war was declared. The community of Abercorn was threatened by invasion from German East Africa (now Tanzania). The jail was turned into a fort. The women and children were sent south towards Lusaka. The Germans shelled the fort twice in September, but before the second attack reinforcements had arrived from the south, and so the Germans retreated, driven back to the Tanganyika border. Except for border skirmishes, there was no more fighting in Northern Rhodesia, although in August, 1918, the heroic German General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, who with a very small force of fewer than 3,000 askaris had tied up the British, Indian, Belgian and Portuguese forces with guerrilla tactics, drove south, bypassing Abercorn, to be cut short when he learned of the Armistice from a British prisoner. When we speak of the German or British armies in Africa we speak of the officers not the troops, the askaris, native mercenaries who comprised 99% of the European forces in Africa. Ascaris, from Late Latin from Greek, are not askaris, from Arabic.
Von Lettow was opposed by Jan Smuts, who had mounted a force of 45,000 South Africans against him. He avoided confrontation so that Smuts never found him, surrendering at Abercorn on November 25, 1918.
Ironically, Paul von Lettow was a good friend of Isak Dinesen's, Baroness Karin Blixen-Fineke, author of Out of Africa, whom he had met on the ship from Europe to Mombasa, Kenya. During the war Karin Blixen drove oxen hauling supplies to Lord Delamere, the British Commissioner who opposed the German general in Kenya, trying to keep the rail line from Mombasa open. Had she not, the Germans might have taken Abercorn.
In 1965 Zambia, that is, Northern Rhodesia, unilaterally declared its independence from Britain. Condemning the declaration as illegal, the British declared sanctions against Rhodesia-Zambia, blocking imports. I recall drinking in a hotel bar in 1966 in Nairobi with pilots flying illegal petrol to the Rhodesian colonists, defying the sanctions, and helping the British residents of Abercorn while its name was being changed to Mbala. An Infidel example to the Somali, I was living then in the bush and serving as a school inspector, eagerly gathering news of the lives of other white people when I traveled.
After WWII, in the 1950s and 60s, the community of Abercorn, Northern Rhodesia, had been a group of typical British expatriates, numbering about 250 Whites with the usual amenities: a hotel, where there were Bunny Girls in the bar on the weekends, doubtless flown in for the purpose (if not, they must have been matrons with tails and long ears), a small white hospital and a large black hospital, the old inter-denominational church, a theatre and sports club, a nine-hole golf course, squash and tennis courts, and a marina on Lake Chila, only a mile away, where there were fishing, boating, sailing, and swimming, with no danger from crocodiles or bilharzia. The Sumbu Game Reserve and a camp at Kasaba Bay on Lake Tanganyika were nearby, reached by launch. They had a London bus for carrying the servants to and from their quarters in Mbala outside the village. There were no unmarried young white women living in Abercorn. Perhaps as in Kenya "the expats lived a never-ending and unrestrained celebration where no human instinct was without satisfaction... Couples swinging was, after hunting and horse racing, the main socialization ritual," as Javier Gómez-García writes in "Kenyalogy."
According to Abercornucopia, a monthly paper, in the 1950s a convention of archeologists was held in Abercorn to visit J. Desmond Clark's digs at the falls on the Kalambo River. Forty-eight of the 50 participants were welcomed into the homes of the Abercornians, the hotel being much too small to accommodate them. Two scholars, an Indian woman and a black man from Uganda, were housed with native families. There were only two black professionals in Abercorn, a medical officer and Mundia Yalenga, the postmaster, who found Abercorn a lonely place. He would rather have lived in Lusaka, the capital.
Visitors to Abercorn included "Bwana Don" Hunt, the television personality, and William Holden, the movie star, who ran a wholesale zoo-animal business from the hotel bars throughout East Africa. I recall a particularly humorous story about a Turkana tribesman Holden told at the Hargeisa Hotel, and my disappointment in not being able to accept an invitation join him and Hunt on safari to Lake Rudolf. With no local radio or newspaper, we went to the Beach Club in Mogadishu to learn about what was going on among the Whites, a small, scattered community.
The last outpost of the old colonial life, Abercorn had its WWI memorial because it was the only town in Rhodesia to have come under fire. The formerly large Red Locust Control Service headquarters with its big staff and 79 vehicles had been replaced by a few officers flying helicopters, Outward Bound had established an office there, and the Gamwell sisters, who had served in First Aid Nursing Yeomanry in two world wars, khaki-clad figures seen for 36 years in their 1928 Chevrolet with its specially-built "safari" body, sold their 985 acre coffee plantation "because the locals no longer would work", and moved to Jersey. The car, with 41,000 miles on the odometer, was sold to a dealer in Lusaka to be preserved as a curiosity. On March 20, 1965, Miss Marion Gamwell OBE, was "run down by a sports car while on a zebra crossing in London", and severely injured.
And why was the village in Northern Rhodesia named Abercorn?
The oldest record of the name Abercorn is the Venerable Bede's mention of a church in West Lothian that has been on the site since at least the Seventh Century, when a monastery flourished there. Bede is known for his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, completed in 732 AD. Bede invented the "Before Christ/Anno Domini" distinction, BC/AD. In 1124 King David I of Canmore, who was raised with Normans, bestowed the Abercorn lands upon his Norman friend William de Graham, who built on the foundations of the parish church in the hamlet of Abercorn, situated on what is now the Hopetoun Estate west of Edinburgh. Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and her son James I of England, is nearby.
Abercorn Parish Church later became the family church of the Dalyells (pronounced Deeyells) of the Binns, and of the Hamilton Lords Abercorn, two illustrious families. Their aisles were built in the church in the early 1600s. One hundred years later the Hope family, Marquesses of Linlithgow, nouveaux riches of their time, built a private entrance, together with wood-paneled retiring rooms, and the Hopetoun Loft in Abercorn Kirk, a loge looking down on the rear of the communion table, completely isolated from the rest of the congregation and from the Dalyells in the main body of the church below, enhancing the Hopes' status. The burial vault of the Dalyells (sometimes Dalziels, with the letter <z> a reflex of a disused letter called "yogh") was built there in 1623. The Hopetoun Mausoleum (1829) is discretely hidden behind the east wall of the kirkyard.
And therein lies a tale. If you would understand our modern world with its carrots of equality, liberty, and fraternity, you ought to look to the Puritan Revolution, the conflict between the English kings Charles I and II and Parliament led by Oliver Cromwell, and the ensuing civil wars (1645-47). The Puritan Roundheads, with their individualistic, idealistic, Calvinistic, theocratic notions about society, and the Royalist Cavaliers, the Tories, with their long hair and aristocratic belief that power should be vested in a minority of those best qualified, are still among us. Both groups colonized North America, bringing their profound differences with them respectively to New England and to the Coastal South, and the differences remain in Britain, in the United States, and in the entire English-speaking world. The American War Between the States, the "Civil War," is said by some to be directly attributable to the differing values of the Roundheads and Cavaliers.
In contrast to the Protestant virtues of thrift, industry, sobriety, and individual responsibility tending towards democracy, one aristocrat wrote "To secure true progress we must unfetter genius, and chain down mediocrity. Liberty for the few Slavery, in every form, for the mass!" (George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All! or Slaves without Masters, 1857)
Members of the Hamilton family, most of them named James, sometimes variously Catholic, sometimes variously Protestant, have held several titles: Earls of Arran, Dukes of Hamilton, and Earls and then Dukes of Abercorn. James, the 2nd Earl of Arran (d.1575), tried to marry his son James, the 3rd Earl, to Mary Queen of Scots, Mary Stuart, the spelling of whose name was changed from Stewart when she was sent to France for her schooling by her mother, Mary of Guise, who married her to the Dauphin Francis II in 1558. Incidentally, hers was the first recorded wearing of white at a wedding. Her son James (VI of Scotland and I of England by her cousin Lord Darnley) inspired Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot (1605). James claimed that if there were no Bishop there would be no King. The Authorized King James Bible grew out of his Hampton Court Conference in 1604. James Hamilton, the first Duke of Hamilton, was advisor to King Charles I, son of James I. He lost his head too.
On the scaffold, January 30, 1649, King Charles I stated "I die a Christian, according to the Profession of the Church of England, as I found it left me by my Father," a rather feeble excuse for intransigence.
Ten counties in the United States are named after Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), whose essays in The Federalist, with their pro-British, aristocratic ideas, and in particular his founding the Bank of the United States, shaped the American Republic of the United States of America. Talleyrand (Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord 1754-1838, the corrupt, cynical, dissolute, witty, immoral, and finally excommunicated French statesman) claimed that Alexander Hamilton, even when compared to Napoleon, was the "greatest man of our time." Alexander was the illegitimate son of you guessed it James Hamilton, a Scottish merchant on the island of Nevis in the West Indies and a Huguenot mother, Rachel Lavien.
William, the heir apparent, son of Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana Spencer, has Abercorn in his family. His great-grandmother was Cynthia Hamilton of Abercorn, daughter of James Hamilton, Duke of Abercorn. Albertha, known as "Goosie," another daughter of the Duke of Abercorn, was named after Victoria's Prince Consort Albert, who gave her an ornate silver cup. "Princess" Diana was also related to George Washington, FDR, and Humphrey Bogart. Remember?
The greater and lesser Hamiltons aside, interred in the Abercorn churchyard, however, is a man whose attitudes, exploits, and adventures make an objective correlative to the meaning of the term cavalier. Abercorn is the family church of the Dalyells of the Binns, the ones the Hopes wanted nothing to do with. The Binns is a grand house near Abercorn hamlet, south of Bo'ness (the spelling of the name of the city Borrowstounness), and west of Edinburgh. ("Binns" means hills in Gaelic) There at the Binns "Bluidy Tam" Dalyell played cards with the Devil, who threw a marble table into the pond in front of the house in exasperation with him, it is said. It is the current habitation of Sir Tam (Thomas) Dalyell, Baronet (Bt NS 1685) Member of Parliament, the Father of the House, the longest serving member, Labour MP for his Scots mining constituency, an Etonian with two Cambridge degrees. Sir Tom has spoken his truth as an internationalist, and has resisted imperialism from the Falklands to Iraq. His Arabic-speaking parents were among the crew that created Kuwait out of the Iraqi sands. When a student, listening to Billy Graham preaching in the Cambridge University church, from the balcony Tam shouted "Billy, you can't say that!" A man of steely conscience who always goes his own way, Sir Tom was recently elected Rector of Edinburgh University.
Tom Dalyell's ninth great-grandfather was General Thomas Dalyell of the Binns (1615-85), "Bluidy Tam," a Royalist soldier baptised at Abercorn and buried there. Perhaps if he had not been such a devil, (a de'il in Scots, pronounced the same as his family name: Deeyell), we would know him from historical novels and action movies full of feathered hats and rapiers, the archetype of the gallant scoundrel, but a scoundrel is not a devil.
Bluidy Tam deserves a good biography that would explore his part in what we call history and his "blind, devoted fidelity to his sovereign," as the minister of Abercorn Church wrote of him after his death in August, 1685. "Old Tom of Muskovy," as Charles II called him, was buried beside his parents in the family vault at Abercorn. There was a grand cortège from his town house in Canongate, Edinburgh, with the Royal Scots Dragoons escorting the coffin, his boots reversed in the stirrups, with field guns and sombre muffled drums, "with the decencie suteable to a person who hes served his Majestie in so eminent a station and trust." The funeral cost his son 182-17-0 for the adornments alone. At the funeral Sir John Lauder observed that few men had died "with a tach or note of disgrace Dalyell had not incurred."
Tam trained the Russian army for Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, father of Peter the Great, after he fled England, escaping from the Tower of London following the execution of Charles I. He joined the service of Charles II after the Restoration of the Monarchy, raising the Scots Greys after observing Polish camouflage in the snow, ordering special cloth for the uniforms from Flanders. Long-haired and pleasure loving, and some say immoral, he put down the Pentland Rising of the Covenanters at Rullion Green, massacring the Protestant peasants armed mostly with scythes, pitchforks and staves. Fifty men were killed, 80 taken, 21 hanged, and others were transported to America as slaves. His men killed 30 camp followers, women and children, horrifying General Tam, who resigned in disgust.
After 1679 he served the king again as commander against the Covenanters, the Presbyterians who refused to accept episcopacy. In 1680 the Covenanter Donald Cargil "excommunicated" him, along with the king, for the "killing, pillaging, robbing, and oppressing of the Lord's people and free subjects of this kingdom (and) for his lewd and impious life leading adulteries and uncleannesses from his youth, with a contempt of marriage his atheistical and irreligious conversation," and so on.
Tam had a few children, five sons and a daughter by his four handfast wives, and two other daughters whom he acknowledged. His Russian get is not noted, though he took a wife there when he was ennobled by the Tsar. Handfasting was the contract of temporary marriage most people used before the Royals made marrying in church for money, position, and power a common, indeed, a legal expedient. Handfasting lasted a year and a day, after which the one who broke off the marriage with no strings attached had to keep the kid(s). It was rather like couples today claiming common-law rights when necessary, but more like our serial monogamy, except cheaper. In comparison, what we call marriage is a modern and pernicious invention, which costs more to live with than it is worth if you are the one with the money, some say.
Tam's son was granted the baronetcy, with the fortunate proviso that it is passed along through the female line if no male heir is available, a truly valuable reward making the girls very desirable. Whoever got the title, got the land and rents, once a silver spoon, now a spoon of extruded plastic, the Binns having been handed over to the National Trust.
They say there are six degrees of separation between any two people and that is true if you look only at the people between us. If you look also at the lines and dots and spaces around us, you find cords of a thousand knots.
[These notes on Abercorn were written using the web, the Dalziel Genealogy, Abercornucopia, The Gazeteer for Scotland, The Guardian, L'Histoire d'Abercorn, Québec, by Jean-Rémi Brault, but not the published works of James Kirkton, Gilbert Burnet, or Robert Wodrow, at the Loyalist Pine Cottage, September, 2003]