A Burgess Builds His House




Short story


Young adult

Historical era



Margaret Lyford-Pike


BBC Radio Scotland – ?


We Lived in Drumfyvie


The Man Who Liked a Peaceful Life


The Pest Comes to Drumfyvie

"A Burgess Builds His House" is the fifth story in the 1975 collection We Lived in Drumfyvie, originally co-written with producer Margaret Lyford-Pike as episodes of an unidentified children's radioplay series.


Andrew Meikle is the son of a tenant farmer who comes to Drumfyvie for work and eventually becomes a Master Glover, husband, father, and grandfather. When his orphan granddaughter Grizel is sixteen, his journeyman Thomas asks for permission to marry her. Andrew is satisfied with the conventional arrangement, but Grizel refuses, preferring Willie Anderson, the journeyman of another master glover with no prospect of inheriting his master's business. Andrew's friends the Bells persuade him to give Willie a chance, suggesting that Thomas might care more for the Andrew's business than for Grizel.

At Michaelmas, Willie is acknowledged as a Master Glover, and applies to become a burgess of Drumfyvie. He has a year to build a house to confirm his status, with Andrew and Rabbie Bell sponsoring him. Willie spends his life's savings on the lumber, and by Midsummer Fair the thatch is on the roof. Then the house catches fire in the night, and Thomas disappears from Drumfyvie. Willie refuses Andrew and Grizel's money, taking his Journeyman's Piece to the Sheriff, who is building stables in Drumfyvie Castle, offering to trade him a new pair of gloves every year in exchange for a beam to replace his burned rooftree. The Sheriff is pleased with Willie's impudence and accepts. Willie finishes the house just before his year is up, and he and Grizel make preparations to marry.


"A Burgess Builds His House" is dated 1360 CE.


  • Andrew Meikle, Master Glover, one of 8 siblings
  • Robert the Bruce, dead and buried in Melrose Abbey
  • Andrew's Grannie, remembered the English wars
  • Master Donaldson, Andrew's master
  • Andrew's wife, died in childbirth
  • Andrew's son and apprentice, Grizel's father
  • Grizel Meikle, Andrew's granddaughter, strong-minded
  • Rabbie Bell, friend and glover
  • Mirren Bell, Rabbie's wife, Grizel's foster mother
  • Thomas, Andrew's journeyman, Grizel's suitor
  • Willie Anderson, Grizel's preferred suitor
  • James Scott, glover, Willie's master
  • Dougal Begg, deaf and indiscreet
  • Ritchie, drinking companion of Thomas
  • Sir Roger Maitland, the Sheriff


  • Drumfyvie
    • Castle Wynd, site of Andrew's workshop
    • Fighting Cocks Lane, lots available
      • The Fighting Cocks tavern, a good source of information
  • A tenant farm 12 miles from Drumfyvie, Andrew's birthplace