Drumfyvie Elects a Provost




Short story


Young adult

Historical era

18th century


Margaret Lyford-Pike


BBC Radio Scotland – ?


We Lived in Drumfyvie


Anderson Brothers


The Jubilee Wing

"Drumfyvie Elects a Provost" is the thirteenth 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.

Plot Edit

Rory the Dirk, a disabled veteran turned unlicensed beggar and outlaw, takes a job as groom to Steenie Drummond, a Drumfyvie worthy he rescued from a fall off his horse instead of robbing. A few years later, Steenie stands for election for Provost of Drumfyvie on a platform of a public Poor Rate for the feeding of both licensed and unlicensed beggars, independent of the Kirk. He seems likely to defeat his rival candidate Nat Wedderburn, who proposes an small almshouse and a tax on meal which would affect primarily the poor. Steenie breaks his arm rescuing a small child from an escaped barrel, and Rory beats up a cynic who wonders if it was a publicity stunt, then takes refuge from the Watch in the Unicorn, the inn favoured by Steenie's supporters in the Burgh Council. He overhears Nat Wedderburn bribing the innkeeper to drug five bailies and lock them in his hayloft til after the next morning's election. Rory rousts out Steenie's supporters among "the ungodly poor" to help him break out the bailies and haul them to the court in time for the election. Steenie is elected Provost and the Poor Relief law passes.

Chronology Edit

Dates for We Lived in Drumfyvie are given in the chapter headings. "Drumfyvie Elects a Provost" is set in 1785 during the earliest establishment of tax-funded social services for the poor, when "There's not a half a dozen Burghs the length and breadth of Scotland that pays a Poor Rate".

  • Autumn: Rory chucked out of Drumfyvie
  • Next year: Steenie becomes bailie
  • 1785, a few years later: Steenie stands for Provost at the Michaelmas election

Characters Edit

  • Rory the Dirk (McKinnan), a Highlander and Army veteran missing an eye and two fingers
  • Steenie Drummond, Wool Merchant, of Drumfyvie
  • Nathaniel Wedderburn, rival candidate supported by the Kirk
  • Wee Davy McCrae
  • Donald Grieve, horse-holder
  • Geordie Heriot, a cynical cordwainer
  • Gabby and Grizel, couple inhabiting a ruined barn
  • Kenny and Long Luke, other beggars
  • Humpy, Rory's Lieutenant
  • Mistress Girvan, coffee-seller next to the Unicorn
  • Master Peterson, keeper of the Unicorn

Places Edit

  • The Highlands, Rory's birthplace
  • Drumfyvie Burgh
    • Drumfyvie Market
      • Market Lane
    • the East Port, a gate
    • the bridle path to
    • the burn, where Rory and Steenie meet
    • Watergate Street, where Steenie breaks his arm
    • Lorimer's Wynd, site of a saddler
    • the Unicorn Inn, Steenie's pub
    • Castle Wynd
    • the Cross Keys, Nathaniel Wedderburn's pub
    • High Street