The Origin of the Gargunnock Drum
(The Stirling Advertiser – Friday 4th December 1829, Page 4, column 3)
It may not be known to some of our readers, that for many years the village of Gargunnock has enjoyed the privilege of a drum, to warn the inhabitants to and from their labours and
repose, the origin of which Is somewhat curious – Previous to the year 1776, it was the custom of the feuars and inhabitants of the village, to have a horse race annually, the expense of which was defrayed by public subscription. It happened that in November 1776, after defraying the usual charge attending the race, a surplus of money still remained in the hands of the treasurer. At a meeting of tho inhabitants, it was resolved that this money should be applied ” for the public benefit of the town.” It was accordingly put to the vote, whether ” a drum should be purchased to go through the town at proper hours,” or “a cross built,” or “the money kept for other races ” when it was carried by a great majority, that “a drum should be purchased.” The meeting also resolved that a ” ift person for a drummer” should be annually chosen, and none to be accepted unless he could produce two “substantial cautioners,” for the ” proper preservation of the drum and the horn,” the latter being intended to rouse the inhabitants when the state of the weather did not admit of the more warlike instrument being employed. It was also resolved that he should be punctual in beating the drum, or blowing the horn, through the ” town,” at six o’clock in the morning, during the “three dead months” of winter, and the other nine months at five o’clock in the morning, and also to perform the same duty at nine o’clock in the evening, throughout the year. It was agreed, that this person, for the “faithful performance,” of the same, should be remunerated every Hansel Monday, by a subscription collected from the populace.
The drum, under nearly the same regulations, continues to be beat through the village of Gargunnock. But mark what mighty things spring from trifles – Our readers would scarcely suppose that the charms of a drum were destined to give existence to a ” Town Council; -yet so it is. At first, a meeting of the inhabitants was duly called, by means of the said drum and horn, for the purpose of electing 8 of their number to superintend the affairs of the drum, and every thing “of importance,” connected therewith. In the course of time, this committee considered themselves somewhat in the light of guardians of the public interests of the “town of Gargunnock ;” so that when the office came to be conferred on men possessing a little ambition, and desirous of keeping pace with the spirit of the age, nothing was more natural for them, than to lay aside the simple appellation of committeemen, and adopt the more dignified designation of ” Town Council.” These, or their immediate successors, were not content with this, but soared a little higher still, and styled themselves ” Provost, .Magistrates, and Town Council.” Accordingly, at the present day, the inhabitants always meet, agreeably to a “requisition of the existing Town Council,” to elect, not their eight committee-men, but their “provost, four bailies, a dean of guild, a treasurer, and clerk.” But what is still more extraordinary, faint as this shadow must be of civic dignity, the honours of office have been known to excite no small stir and canvas among the citizens of the “town.” The chief cause of contention and party disputes smacks not a little of Dean Swift’s dispute between the Longendians and Shortendians in the breaking of eggs. It would appear that some years ago the “feuars” of the aspiring ” town” of Gargunnock claimed to themselves the right of being elected to the high office of Lord Provost, to the exclusion of the ” tenants,” who were not entitled to aspire to any thing so high, and were therefore to content themselves with being made eligible to discharge the more humble functions of bailies. The ” tenants” rebelled against this attack on their civic rights – the “feuars” persisted, but at last the superior management of the ” tenants” prevailed, and we believe, ever since, the tenants have continued to enjoy (end of article missing)