Exceptions to the rule: Scottish naming patterns and the case of Nicholas, 2015

Exceptions to the rule: Scottish naming patterns and the case of Nicholas, 2015.

When Ryan Reynolds and his wife Blake Lively announced that they were naming their daughter James, there was a flurry of comment about the appropriateness of giving a girl a ‘boy’s name’ in the media.  According to some these is a recent “Hollywood” trend, and open to a lot of mocking.

For me though, this is not a recent trend, but a common occurrence in my Scottish family. My great-great grandmother was called Nicholas. And she wasn’t the first in the family, nor the last. Nicholas Bryden was born in Williamstown, Upper Canada (Ontario) in 1827 to William Bryden and his wife Agnes Newall. She married William Leitch and with him had 7 children.  4 of her granddaughters were called Nicholas either as first or middle names, and 2 of her great-granddaughters, and even one of her great-great-great granddaughter has it as a middle name.  It was family tradition.  And according to tradition the women were known as “Nixie.”

I often wondered where this name had originated.  I thought for sure Nicholas Bryden was named after some lamented uncle and the name stuck. While that might be the case, it is likely much further back.  Nicholas Bryden was named for her mother’s sister, Nicholas Newall (1798 -1872 Scotland), who was named after her mother Nicholas Murphy, who was born about 1754 in Aucherhay, Borgue, Scotland.  It might go back further than that.

And it is not confined to the Leitch family, but the other Newall descendants in Ontario: the Browns and the Copelands.  So really, the naming girls with “boys names” is not that new a thing, but rather an odd Scottish naming tradition.

William Leitch and his wife Nicholas Bryden c 1860

William Leitch and his wife Nicholas Bryden c 1860



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The Halloween Festival – Montreal, 1869

[Posted on Canada Day because of the Patriotic Songs included in the accounts!]

Montreal Gazette 1 November 1869, page 2

The Halloween Festival

The Caledonian Society’s Festival was as great a success this Halloween as on any previous occasion. The Theatre Royal was crowded, and not one in that large and fashionable audience could have regretted the manner in which the evening was passed. The programme was of choice variety, and was so excellently rendered that it would be difficult to say which excelled. The applause was enthusiastic and frequent, but always deservedly so.

“Hail to the Chief,” by the piper, announced the entrance of the President and guests. Mr D Rose, the President of the Society, ably fulfilled the duties of Chairman.  Among the guests were Andrew Robertson, Esq, President of the St Andrew’s Society; FB McNamee, Esq, President of the St Patrick’s Society; MP Ryan, MP; E Cartier, QC, MPP; AW Ogilvie, MPP; AA Stevenson Esq; A McGibbon, Esq; and others, and several ladies.

The Band of the PCO Rifles played as overture.

The President’s Address.

The President then said:-

Ladies and Gentlemen – I feel great pleasure in welcoming the friends of the Caledonian Society to our annual Festival. As years roll round, and we pass from boyhood to manhood, and manhood to old age, with all the cares and troubles of life pressing upon us, yet the days of our boyhood come back, reminding us of the pleasant memories of lang syne, as each succeeding Halloween comes round, and although we do not now “Burn our nite and hand our Halloween fou’ blithe” as in the days gone by, yet the Caledonian Society trusts, that by their Annual Festival on this evening, they help to keep green in the memories of many here those enchanting scenes of youth, and by meeting together one night in the year help to strengthen the cords that bind the hearts of Scotchmen to the native land.

It is a source of great satisfaction to the members of the Society to find that their efforts in affording instruction and amusement are so well appreciated by the citizens of Montreal, if we are allowed to judge from the large numbers that always attend our celebrations.

It is now fourteen years since the Caledonian Society was instituted, having for its object the encouragement and practice of Scottish games; the cultivation of a taste for Scottish history, poetry and song; and to unite more closely Scotchmen and those of Scottish descent, and although many other Societies have sprung into existence and copied in many particulars its manner of getting up Gatherings and Concerts, yet during all these years the citizens have so well appreciated the efforts of this Society that not a single Gathering or Festival has proved a failure either in attendance or financially.

The Society during the past year has increased its membership, and the last Gathering has been the most successful ever held since its formation. I may here mention that two of our members went o’er the border to compete at the Gathering of the New York Caledonian Club, and carried off between them no less than twenty-one of their principal prizes, thus reminding our American friends that the “men of the north” are still able to compete successfully with their southern friends.

The Society intends applying at the first session of the Provincial Parliament for an Act of Incorporation, so that they may be enabled to purchase sufficient land in their corporate capacity for holding their annual Gathering. As this marks a very important era in the history of the Society, I would appeal to the young Scotchmen of Montreal, who have not yet joined, to come forward at once and got themselves enrolled as members, and help to swell the ranks until it shall embrace all the Scotchmen of Montreal.

A new feature has been introduced into the Programme this year in the shape of a Canadian Patriotic song. Coming as we do from the “land of Song”, the Committee could not help observing the scarcity of Canadian lyric poetry, and in order to encourage our poets and musicians to direct their attention to this subject, instead of the usual Halloween poem, they determined to offer a prize of fifty dollars for the best Canadian Patriotic Song set to music. In response to our advertisement forty-nine songs have been received, sixteen set to music. These were referred to a Committee of three gentlemen to adjudicate on their literary merits. The Committee’s report will be read this evening. The song will be read by Professor Andrews and sung by Mrs Weston.

The Committee feel confident that the Programme that has been prepared for this evening’s entertainment will meet your hearty approbation.  It is useless for me to say anything in regard to the talents of such a distinguished artiste as Mrs Weston, as she is well known to the citizens of Montreal by her recent visit, having captivated the hearts of all those who heard her on that occasion. As this is the first appearance of Mrs Kedelle before a Montreal audience, I must congratulate those present on the rich treat that is in store, and have every confidence that the high estimation she is held by her friends will be fully endorsed to you.  In regard to the gentlemen that are to take part in the evening’s entertainment it is not necessary for me to refer to them as they are so well known and highly appreciated in this city.

The Award

Prof Andrews read the following award and the prize poem, in the second part of the programme:

Montreal, 29th October, 1869

Dear Sir—In accordance with the request of the “Caledonian Society,” we have examined a number of poems received in competition for prize of fifty dollars.  [Illegible] to our judgement , and after a careful perusal of them, we are unanimously of opinion that the poem with the motto of “Mun do it” is entitled to the Premium.

In making this award, we are [illegible] compelled to add that the rival rhymes of this year are far inferior in merit to the Halloween verses of former occasions.  Many of the forty-nine songs, though apparently designed for [illegible] competitions, are in reality little better than unsuccessful burlesque, and had a second prize been offered, as in previous years, it would have been difficult to select a poem worthy of the honour. We can hardly account for these facts, except on the supposition that the poetical genius of many of the competitors has displayed itself hitherto only in the expressive Scottish dialect.  The use of this was necessarily interdicted in the production of a purely Canadian lyric.

We have the honour to remain, dear Sir,

Yours faithfully,

John Jenkins, DD

A de Sola, LL D

Geo Murray BA, Oxon

To JT Henderson, Esq.,

Secretary to the Caledonian Society.


Canadian Patriotic Song

[Dedicated to the Caledonian Society of Montreal]


Let other tongues, in older lands,

Loud vaunt their claims to glory,

And chant, in triumph, of the past,

Content to live in story;

Though boasting no baronial halls,

Nor ivy-created towers,

What past can match thy glorious youth,

Fair Canada of ours?


We love those far-off ocean Isles

Where Britain’s monarch reigns,

We’ll ne’er forget the good old blood,

That courses through our veins,

Proud Scotia’s fame, old Erin’s name,

And haughty Albion’s powers,

Reflect their matchless lustre on

This Canada of ours!


Long may our country flouris, then,

A goodly land and free!

Where Celt and Saxon, hand in hand,

Hold away from sea to sea,

Strong hearts shall guard our cherished home

When danger darkly lowers,

And with our life-blood we’ll defend

This Canada of ours!


Mrs John F Kedelle, late of Edinburgh, made her first appearance in Montreal, and was warmly received. She sang the “Piper o’ Dundee” with great effect, and was encored and gave another Scottish song.  She also sang “Within a mile o’ Edinburgh town,” “Logie o’ Buchan,” and “Bonnie Dundee.” Mrs Kedelle has a pleasing voice, and one that is very effective in Scottish ballads.

Mrs Weston was warmly welcomed.  She sang the grand aria “Cape Fatal” and received as much applause as when she first appeared before a Montreal audience with the celebrated Boston Quintette Club.  An enthusiastic encore was gracefully answered by “the Merry Sunshine.” Mrs Weston also sang “Waiting” and the “Star of Glengarry,” being encored.

After Prof Andrews read the poem it was sung by Mrs Weston in a highly creditable manner, though she had first seen it Saturday morning.

Mr Lamothe is always popular and successful, and though he may never have worn kilts, his songs “Draw the Sword, Scotland,” and “Scenes that are Brightest” were deservedly applauded.

However, people may talk about “jokes” and “surgical operations” and so on, it was quite evident that the humorous and comical is no small element in Scottish character.  Mr Huret told the melancholy story of “the bashful young man,” exciting the laughter event to tears of sympathy of the audience, and then the pit would not allow him to hide his blushes behind the scenery till he had related in his own inimitable style his experiences at “Mrs Jones’ evening party,” and how he was “Dancing Mad.” Then, as if that was not enough, Prof Andrews convulsed every one by recounting “Mansie Wauch’s first and last visit to the Theatre.” The Professor’s reading was so natural that it was perfectly irresistible and afforded great amusement.

The Band of the P CO Rifle Brigade, between the parts, played selections of Scotch, English and Irish airs. They were most delightful, and increased if it were possible, the high opinion already entertained of the Band and the alacrity and carefulness of its conductor.

The Ghillie Callum was danced in full Highland Costume by Mr Nivin, and his Highland Fling were greatly admired and received encores.

Mr D Weir played the bagpipes very creditably.

Mr AJ Boucher presided at the place with his usual skill.

The Festival concluded with “Auld Lang Syne” in which all joined.


Patriotic Song

The Following is one of the many poems called forth by the prize offered by the Caledonian Society, and though the bard was not successful, we have no doubt he would like to be “Known to fame,” and therefore it is presented to the public. –

Fine country, fertile, flourishing,

Full of fruit and vegetables nourishing!

When Fenian foes were vanquished quite,

And ran away with all their might,

Who would not fight for such a land,

As long as he’d a leg to stand?

It’s lakes are deep, it’s streams are wide,

And girt by trees on every side,

In climate it’s not very much to boast,

For in winter you freeze and in summer you roast,

But in stream or lake, in heat or cold,

It’s a better country than the old,

And I’d rather on whisky and pork live here,

Than in England on beef and table beer!

It’s people are rather a motlew crew,

But to the old Flag they’ll be ever true;

The cowards who write for Annexation,

Shall be kicked o’er the bounds of this loyal nation,

And the Yankees who think to be masters here

Will find they hate got the wrong sow by the ear!

Then all unite with heart and hand

To keep for ourselves this mighty land,

And in honour and in truth, in fame and reknown

To preserve this brightest jewel in the British Crown!

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Beauty Advice – Let Go, Montreal, 1919

Montreal Standard, 1 March 1919, page 17

Let Go!

It is a beauty secret that you can have for nothing.  And, unlike most things one gets for nothing, it is worth untold gold.

Perhaps you don’t quite understand what is meant by letting go?  It is simple enough.

When one is up and about, especially in these strenuous days of war and anxiety one is strained and taut, like a tightly-stretched string.  That is all right for our work, but it is exhausting to our vital energy.  So that, every now and again, we, if we are wise, will snatch a chance of relaxing the poor strained nerves.  It may be only for a moment, but it will do wonders in the way of refreshing one.

Lift your eyes from your typewriter, take a few long, deep breaths, close your eyes and allow your limbs and nerves to go quite limp.  Even if you can only spare a few seconds once or twice in the day, it is well worth while.  And, if you can lie down flat on the floor for a few minutes and relax all over during your working day, you will reap the benefit.  But at least you can straighten up, close your tired eyes, and generally “let go” for a moment.  Practice the art of letting go, and it will soon become easy; it is an invaluable aid to health and beauty.  And, unlike so many aids, it costs absolutely nothing!

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Etiquette- can women go alone to a man’s apartment? 1937

Apparently I have been going about this courting thing all wrong!

Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage by Emily Post, New York and London, Funk & Wagnalls Co, 1922/37.



May a young woman go alone to a man’s apartment?

This question is more often asked and harder to answer than any other question of the present day.  Considered solely from the point of view of etiquette, the answer is NO. considered in regard to a girl in her teens or to a young woman who is not very worldly-wise, the answer is No.  in fact, it is a question that


Had not even a proper place in the earlier etiquette editions of this book.  But times have changed, and the point of view of the modern world has turned from the consideration of etiquette as applied to society, and exacted that young women with professional careers – young women of new independence – be considered too.  Therefore, this greatest question that has followed the disappearance of the chaperon must be included in a chapter such as this.


How far may a girl run after a man?

Cat-like, she may do a little stalking! But ‘run’? Not a step.  The freedom of today allows her to go to meet him half-way, but the girl who runs, runs after a man who runs faster!

To be sure she can invite him to any sort of party, so long as it is not just a sit-at-home party of two.  She can say even to one who has been lately introduced to her: ‘come and see me sometime I’m almost always home after five” – or whenever she is likely to be at home.

From guardian.com

From guardian.com

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Ugliest Woman Contest, London, 1919

Montreal Daily Star, 6 December 1919, page 19



Eight entrants for the title of the ugliest woman in London were judged at St George’s Hall (On the left) Miss “Leydon” the winner (On the Right) The runner-up


Unique competition held in London recently – lots of competitors

London –Nov 15 (by mail) St George’s Hall yesterday was the scene of a pathetic exhibition in which eight women displayed their ugliness in the hope of being chosen by a committee of Pressmen as the “ugliest woman” in London.

There were over thirty applications.  Among them were several facetious letters suggesting the name of “friends” and there was one from a mistress recommending her maid.  Only eight of the applicants however, faced the judges.

The remarkable fact was that only three of the eight received any votes, and one of the competitors was actually offered a position in the beauty chorus of Mr De Biere, who has been advertising for the ugliest woman in London to assist him in a new production.

The exhibition began by the introduction of a tall woman in red, swathed in black headdress.  She was carrying a sandbag, and was toying with a green vase.

Several of the women were well dressed, and try as they would, ugliness was far from them.  Four of them were married, and explained that their husbands knew all about it, and were quite willing for them to make a living by their ugliness if possible.

The winner of this extraordinary competition, who chooses to be known as Miss Leyton, of London, received 14 votes out of a possible 19, and seemed quite pleased with her achievement.

In a chat afterwards she explained that she was a music teacher, and had but a few pupils at 12s a quarter.

“I have never tried to improve my appearance,” she said, wistfully, “I don’t curl my hair, or powder.  Mother always said I was ugly, and in fact, it was she who advised me to go in for it. She said there was no harm in trying.  People say my three sisters are good-looking.

“I have plenty of friends yes, and one or two sweethearts.  My appearance was no drawback to them.  I’ve never thought much about it.  But I consider it an honour to have been chosen as the ugliest woman in London.

Perhaps the explanation lies in the words of one of the unsuccessful candidates, a lady with white hair, wearing furs and a feathered hat. “I can’t make any capital out of being good-looking” she said, “and I wanted a job.”

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Montreal Fireworks, 1880

Montreal Daily Star, 23 September 1880, page 2

The Pyrotechnic Display

A scene of splendour which thousands of people admired

Successful as the past displays made by the Fireworks’ Committee have been, that of last evening on Dominion Square excelled every thing heretofore attempted by them.  At an early hour the square was filled by a vast multitude, who amused themselves by promenading and light conversation until the bands arrived, when less walking was indulged in.  Presently the first bomb exploded with a loud detonation.  This was succeeded by a shower of rockets which illuminated the heavens with the brightest of many colored fiery tints.  The set pieces were remarkably beautiful the falls of Niagara having an appearance of realistic grandeur which those who saw will not soon forget.  Wheels within wheels revolved with startling rapidity, the explosions at intervals serving to heighten the scene of beauty, which could not, however desirable, remain “a joy forever”.  A tricolored paper balloon was sent up, which at first swayed heavily as it caught the briskly blowing wind, but gradually it settled itself and floated gracefully upward and onward in the direction of the Victoria Bridge. It was watched by the multitude until it resembled a twinkling star in the distance, and finally disappeared from view. Another very fine set piece was a ship which rocked upon imaginary waves and was fired upon from a fort, the balls from which were thrown through the rigging of the doomed vessel and finally dismantled it, although a faint but ineffectual fire was given in return. All things considered the fireworks have proved to be a decided success, and those who were present last evening on Dominion Square will not regret the time they spent in admiring the beauties of the pyrotechnic display, as well as letting the Citizen’s committee know that their efforts to amuse have been appreciated.  The brass bands played several capital selections throughout the evening.

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Birmingham – a lesson for NY and Montreal, 1919

Montreal Standard, 8 March 1919, page 14


Where they “Make Everything under the sun” – labor and manufacturing conditions in United Kingdom investigated for Montreal Standard and New York Tribune.

By Samuel Crowther

New York Tribune and Montreal Standard European Bureau.  Copyright 1919 New York Tribune, Inc.

Birmingham, England, March 8 – Birmingham is easily the key city of British industry.  Surrounded by a dozen or more industrial towns, it is the centre of every form of trade other than manufacturing – or engineering, as they call it here – except cotton, wool and the steel products of Sheffield. No list anywhere exists which includes all that this city of the Midlands turns out. A local manufacturer told me he had an old man in his employ especially for the purpose of finding the manufacturers of articles which he might happen to need in emergencies.

“None of us know just what it is made here.  There are thousands of little loft shops, and I have this man to locate them for me.  He knows the town.  When I want something made which I cannot well look after in my own shops – some unusual tool or part – I send out my scout and he always finds some one who can do the job.  I have never known him to come back saying that we must look elsewhere.  I think we make everything under the sun here.”

And likewise there are no statistics as to the total volume of the city’s trade. Three railways serve it, and because of their several desires not to let each other know how much business they do they refuse to give out figures. But we do know that Birmingham is supreme in hardware of every kind; that its goods go out into every quarter of the globe, and that during the war it has been the biggest of all supply centres for the army and navy.  The Birmingham Small Arms Company [where my grandfather worked just before the war -gilliandr] the biggest maker of rifles in the Birmingham has been their production centre.


It has vastly extended its normal munitions trades, and also practically every other factory and little workshop has changed over from peace to war. A normal working population of about 150,000 males has been transformed into a war working population of at least 300,000 of whom about three-quarters are women, for Birmingham makes the small rather than the large and heavy goods, although they boast that they could make very part of a fabricated ship if only the railway bridges were tall enough to let plates pass down to the sea.

With a district that was probably the most active in peace having turned itself wholly over to the war, the transformation back to peace can be taken as fairly  typical. And I find here that practically the only thing which bothers the employers is the inability to get men with which to start peace work.  They do not in the least fear the task of immediate changing or what they will do when they have changed. All of the owners with whom I talked said that they have orders on their books that would keep them busy for nearly a year.  And likewise the labour unrest, which is so prevailing, does not seem to worry any one – employers or labor leaders – in this district, for they have between them settled these big points:

  1. The men have agreed not to limit production, but to co-operate in high production to the end that they may keep something of their high war wages.
  2. They have agreed generally on the forty-seven hour week and a mutuality of control through workshop committees.


Birmingham has made money during the war – it reminds one of an American ammunition centre, for the streets are crowded with people, hotel rooms are not available, and every one is hustling and as rude as their leisure or haste permits.  The office buildings are crammed with government controls and inspection departments of all run with a particularly objectionable lot of civilians in officers’ uniforms acting as inspectors and the like who have somewhere read or heard that the main duty of an officer is to swagger and make himself annoying.  As a subject for clinical study the heart of the Black Country is interesting but it is no place for a human being.

The owners have made money and the workers have made money, but no large fortunes have been created – at least I could not discover any. But every one has money and the problem of peace is not at all hampered by the lack of means with which to finance. In fact I did not detect any fear of peace trade other than the fear that the demobilization of the army would be so slow that many opportunities would be lost. Take this manufacturer of jewelry [sic], who has been making fuses.

“All I have to do” he said to me, “is get new tools made, take out some of the machines and relocate others. Then I shall be ready to go on with my orders, provided of course, that I get a proper share of raw material; but I cannot get men.  I need tool makers first and when they have had a start I can take on my old men whom I promised to re-employ.  But the army does not give me the ‘pivot’ men who are supposed first to be demobilized.  Instead they have sent me fifty ordinary workers for whom I shall have nothing to do until the tool makers arrive.  Dozens of other firms are in the same position.  I know that the selective  discharge system will never work for the mass of men, but certainly it ought to work for just the few pivot men that we need to restart industry.”


Outside of this single question of workers, the manufacturers are confident for have they not already the orders on the books? On the long feature they are equally confident, but not in the way of capturing new markets to any great degree or of engaging in any kind of a trade war under government auspices or in associated bodies – “cartel” fashion.  The Birmingham engineer is above all an individualist and he wants to go forward now exactly in the same general way, excepting for increased production, that he did in pre-war days. He detests fill forms of government control and is equally opposed to associated effort, except that he will take something in the way of a small flyer in new markets in combinations which promise to reduce the cost of the experiment.  This is the way the situation was summarized to me and it bears out my own observations:

“The war has made changes, of course; we had to give up practically all of our peace trade except that in hollow ware – which the forces needed – and change over to munitions.  But the firms that have made most of the munitions were those who were already in that trade before the war. They have let out to other makers various parts, and few of those parts have caused any great plant changes. We have put in automatic machinery, because few of us were making more than one or two parts; because we had automatic machinery we could dilute labour with women.  The women are not skilled mechanics; they are very good with automatic machinery, for they do not seem to mind the monotony. But they were only a war necessity.  We cannot use them in any great numbers in peace, for now we shall not have so much automatic machinery and also we have promised to take back all our men who survived the war.  And many of the women are tired of outside work and want to get back to household affairs.

“Before the war we could have turned out double what we did had it not been for the union restrictions on output. Now that these are done away with we can get production enough to pay higher wages than before – although not war wages.  But the men do not really press for war wages.  We are on good terms with them and I think, through the workshop committees and the general conditions in the engineering trades, we shall be able to adjust matters on a mutual basis.

Image from the Birmingham Mail

Image from the Birmingham Mail

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