Anne Lister diary transcriptions Anne Lister's diary 1828 Anne Lister's diary July 1828

Tuesday 8 July 1828

8 10/60

She came to call me at six. Bade her get into bed. She did and we lay quietly till seven, then dozed by my self. Breakfast at 9 40/60. Cross to have taken inside places in the mail to Elgin & no possibility of changing one of them so as to go outside myself. Off from Aberdeen at 10 25/60. Full inside & out. A lady and a woman inside besides ourselves. At 11¼ wooden bridge over broadish river & gentleman’s place (right). Can neither see nor know anything. Abominate being inside this fine weather. Cross too because the guard had taken up men on the top contrary to regulation. 7 outside. 1 man said he was a commissioner. It was not likely he would do anything wrong when he had £100 at stake. Then said I, “you are the person to take care that the guard does not do wrong.” The guard hoped I should not inform against him but said if I did he must take the consequence. I said I would give them till we changed horses but if there were more than the proper number afterwards I should certainly inform. At 12 10/60 a man got off the top. The guard had no business to take up anyone by the road for all the outside places were taken from Aberdeen for the first 36 or 46 miles (I forget which), they told me at the inn. At 12 10/60 turfs & castle tower (right). Change horses at Old Meldrum at 12 40/60, a tolerable little village-like town. Prettyish just about Aberdeen then plain & bleak, widely enclosed & poor crops & land till rather better at 1¾. Then woods and Fivie turnpike, the turnpike house being also the post office (never saw this happen before). The village & church of Fivie little distance (right). Dangerous road for travellers hereabouts formerly. Called the Lewes or Loos of Fivie, according to pronunciation. Used to be murders here. At 2 the handsome 2 story castellated gateway of general Gordon’s place. The castle (handsome looking modern castle house) near (right).

Fyvie Castle by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd in Modern Athens, displayed in a series of views; or, Edinburgh in the nineteenth century; exhibiting the whole of the new buildings, modern improvements, antiquities, & picturesque scenery of the Scottish metropolis & its environs (1829)
I think this is what Anne refers to as ‘General Gordon’s place’ (

At 2 25/60 peats again. At 2½ a man gets up outside. At 2 25/60 Hatton castle, _____ Duff. At 2 55/60 change horses at Turfeff, niceish good little town. At 3 50/60 castle of Eden (left). At 4 20/60 Fyfe house, large, massive, squary (rather castellated?) house. Handsome grounds. The Deveron running thro’ there not far from the house. Cross the fine 7 arch stone bridge over this broad river (shallow, very little water at present) & enter the pretty little sea port of Banff at 4 25/60. The guard having taken up another man after changing horses at Old Meldrum (vid. line 6th from this above) & having besides told me, when I remonstrated, that I did not know what I was talking about for he had a right to do so, I determined, of course, to inform against him & an elderly lady, Mrs Bigger, an inhabitant of Banff, has promised to go with me to her friend, the sheriff of the town, to ask his advice how the information ought to be laid. Walked with her up the street, met the sheriff, a respectable looking little man. He seemed surprised but civilly offered to go with me to the post office, tho’ it would then be shut & would continue so till the mail was sent off & I should lose my place. By this the lady’s son, who had met her & been left to see after her luggage, came up & said I had best write to the secretary of the post office at Edinburgh. Promised to take his advice. Much obliged & returned to Miss McL-. We walked up & down the town. Seeing the post office door open went in. Said I wished to complain, asked how it should be done. The young man did not know. Had no orders on the subject. Rather smiled. But if I desired him to take the information would do it, tho’ on mentioning my intention to write to Edinburgh preferred my doing so but asked if I had named it to the proprietor of the mail coach. Off we set back to the inn to the proprietor. He had nothing to do with it. It was between the guard & the post office but it seemed the proprietors were sometimes liable to the penalties. By this time the ½ hour allowed for dinner was expended & we were off at 4 55/60.

Banff between circa 1890-1900
From Views of landscape and architecture in Scotland in the Photochrom print collection, Detroit Photographic Company, 1905. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA,

Banff seems a nice little town, its little port, McDuff town, close by. Mrs Bigger said nice little society there. Odd that she knew of no family of the name of Milne of any importance or landed property in the town or neighbourhood. Never heard of such a place as Arras-Milne. At 5 55/60 largeish village or little town (Portsoy) and close to the sea. At 6 35/60 take up letter bags & change horses at the other end of the town of Cullen. Large, new, handsome stone capital inn. Fine view down the hill from the inn upon the little fishing village round the bay of Cullen, closed in to the west by the grotesque looking, huge, red rock called Scar Nose. This village of cottages lately built. Removed from the upper town down to the water’s edge. Several small craft fishing in the bay. Very pretty sea view. Country bleak & bare. A small vessel on the stocks. 2 nice little piers & fishing vessels in the harbour. Bold red sandstone rock coast.

Seatown and Cullen beach from disused railway Looking over the Seatown and the Three Kings to the Scar Nose at Portknockie
Neil McWhirr / Seatown and Cullen beach from disused railway / CC BY-SA 2.0

Afterwards much road thro’ wood (principally Scotch fir) & at 8¼ post office Fochabers. Neatish little town. At 8 18/60 change horses at the other end of the town. Gordon castle just out of town (right) at 8 25/60. In 3 minutes more cross the good stone bridge over the broad-bedded Spey, 1 of the finest mountain streams in Scotland but almost dry now. Its broad, pebbly (large gravel) bed shews what it must be in winter. Very pretty view from the bridge on each side. We had had the inside to ourselves from Banff but at Fochabers took up 2 gentlemen. The elderly one seemed well acquainted with the neighbourhood. The name of Milne common in & about Banff but none of any consequence. Did he know a Colonel Milne? [1] Yes! He was dead lately. Was he cousin to Admiral Sir Alexander Milne? No! Sir Alexander was surely from near Edinburgh. Had not Colonel Milne a brother near Banff, a man of 6 or 7 thousands a year? No!!! But had a brother who had a large farm under Lord Seafield, a farm of 2 or £300 a year called Mills of Beattie, between Banff & Cullen, 3 miles from Banff, part of the land we might see from the road. The Mills were corn mills. Mr Milne too was a great distiller. Some very good land from Fochabers to Elgin (before Fochabers & just after very light & white sandy. Very poor corn. Rye grass & clover. Generally in cock but much to mow). Certainly better nearer to Elgin. Said to be let at £4 or £5 per acre (a Scotch acre here 1/5 more than an English acre).

Fochabers village, beside the River Spey
Photo by Qeqertaq, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Alight at the Gordon Arms inn, Elgin at 9½. Large ale house-looking inn but very civil waiter or landlord, good tea & cold chicken & tongue, good double-bedded room & room for my dressing room & very comfortable. Sat talking. Amused about the family of Milne. Miss McL- always thought this was the case. Her father was quartered all hereabouts. Knew all the families. Never heard of an M- of fortune. Came to my room at 11½. Write pencil copy of letter to the secretary of the post office. Very fine day.

Aberdeen to Old Meldrum           18           )
Old Meldrum to Turreff                 18           )
Turreff to Banff                                 12           ) 79 miles
Banff to Cullen                                  12           ) Everywhere from Aberdeen houses of stone.
Cullen to Fochabers                        12           )
Fochabers to Elgin                            9             )

[1] I think Anne’s enquiries about Colonel Milne and the Milne family relate to Lieutenant-Colonel Milne, the husband of Anne’s old flame Mariana Lawton nee Belcombe’s sister, Harriet (Henrietta Willan Milne nee Belcombe). Despite disapproving of Mrs Milne being known as a terrible flirt Anne was fascinated by her and had a brief flirtation with her in 1825. For more on this see Helena Whitbread’s No Priest But Love. I have the Kindle version and it starts at location 3817 (following the journal entry for 21 December 1825) with a summary of Anne’s previous interactions with Mrs Milne.

You can read the original diary entry here:

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