“Quite Happy” – The Diary of James Fyffe, Cattle Dealer 1836–1840
Edited by Jean Dundas and David G. Orr (2016)
James Fyffe’s diaries were found in the Old Parish Kirk in Kirriemuir. Although they only cover a short part of his life, they leave us with a remarkable record of a young Angus farmer and cattle dealer in the nineteenth century, and a rare insight into his passions and beliefs. They were written right at the end of the great era of long-distance droving of livestock which was killed off by the arrival of the railways. Fyffe makes prolific references to the people and places he encountered on his travels from Kirriemuir to the Edinburgh cattle market. Setting out in life with fine ambitions, he was often distracted by the young ladies he was courting and the many neighbours he visited to drink toddy in the evenings. The diaries reveal a solitary, vulnerable man doggedly pursuing a living against the odds. They present a picture that is rural but not rustic and a life that Fyffe himself summed up in one of his favourite phrases – “quite happy!”
This complete transcript of the diaries includes an introduction by David G Orr and contextual essays by Professor Richard Oram (University of Stirling) and Dr Kenneth Baxter (University of Dundee).
96 pages, 8 b/w illustrations