By Daniel (Dan) Smith

The following article has been taken from letters written by Daniel (Dan) Smith to friends in Hopeman during the 1990s when he was living in Australia. Dan was born in Hopeman during 1928 and died 2018 aged 90 and during his life was a very keen genealogist and historian of Hopeman fouk and the village and the village of Houpman and we are fortunate to be able to record the information he has provided. I have taken the liberty of making slight changes to the text to assist the reader. There are also areas of conflict with other documents and articles written by others and this is acceptable. – John McPherson (administrator)

Quote –

In 1805, William Young bought the ground of Inverugie House and the village of Hopeman. He had the ground surveyed and laid the streets out in a grid pattern.

The village was laid out more along the lines of a “Ferm Toon” rather than a traditional fishing village of the period, where the houses were as close to the shore as possible, very narrow streets, no space for gardens and house gables facing the sea.

The first buildings in the village were a row of houses on Farquhar Street from Harbour Street to nearly the Church of Scotland, and this housed a manager/foreman, tradesmen and labourers to start building the village.

From 1805 William Young brought displaced squatters families from Campbelltown to establish a fishing industry in Hopeman. These fishing/crofting people had been cleared from Petty around 1800 by the Earl of Moray’s factors and dumped in Campbelltown, a village created when Fort George was built to house a garrison of soldiers following the Battle of Culloden.

The first fishing houses were built on a street called Seatown on a site near to the quarry below the Black Sheddie. Six two bedroom cottages (But & Ben) were constructed numbered 4 to 9 Seatown in a continuous line from the present day Nos 7 to 17 Peepy Street. The name Peepy’s like the Scaup was a slang name and only came into use later.

The next settlement was three families of Main’s on the west side of Harbour Street between the (Chemist and Post Office) plus a family of Mains in Rock House above the Peepy’s and next to the Black Sheddie.

Dunbar Street completed the original settlement for the fishermen.

The new arrivals had no furniture except for a Claes kist, Girnal, Saut bucket and Cooking/eating utensils. Furniture and beds were constructed as part of the house. They brought sheep, goats and milking cows, treadle spinning wheels, a weaving loom and stone to grind corn. These people had to be self-sufficient as there were no shops in Hopeman at that period. Their main aim in life was survival and the communal way of life adopted by these people suited the conditions. Cooking, baiting lines, spinning, weaving, etc. was shared among the people and it seems to have worked.

Several initial problems arose with the new settlers. The male dress was a ¾ length jacket, breeches, ¾ length stockings and light homemade moccasin type of footwear, all completely unsuitable for Hopeman’s conditions. It was not long before the flannel sark, gansey, woollen drawers, cord or twill trousers and leather boots were used. Their boats were a type of salmon cobble with an upturned stem and stern ideal for sand and shallow water. They were rowed, had no sail and in Hopeman’s seas they handled like a slab of cork in a mill lade. The boats were old, patched and leaked. A type of skiff was developed with a stepped mast held at deck level by an iron half hoop. On beaching the boat, the mast, sails, boom, spars, oars and rudder were removed and the shell of the boat hauled up on to the sand. These boats were only suitable for inshore fishing using the “Sma Lines” and they had a crew of three. One person handled the line, another the rudder and the third person the sails. A continuous rotation was carried out as each man was responsible for his own line.

The three groups of initial settlements were:-

  1. Six families in Seatown

  2. The (Petty) Mains on the west side of Harbour Street and Rock House

  3. Families in Dunbar Street Nos 11-27 (present day numbers)

All of these families came from the same area around Campbelltown, could not read nor write, and were Gaelic speakers with little English. Donald Moir (Gaelic) became Daniel More (English), Donald Maine became Daniel Main and Mom became Ma e.g. (Ma Dick- Duff Street). Donald Raff became Daniel Ralph, etc. etc.

The name Seatown was the documented name in the 1841 census and Peepy Street was only officially used in the 1860s when the houses were renumbered to include additional houses for the Buckie/Portessie (Sloch) families and the area became known as the Peepy’s.

The three Buckie/Portessie families spoke no Gaelic so Hopeman’s future speech became the ‘Sloch Slang’. This was hastened by the fish curers using the same language and Admiral Duff’s school teaching English causing the Gaelic language to die out over a relatively short period of time.

The occupants of No 6 Seatown were Donald Davidson b.1784, married in Campbelltown on 27 March 1806 to Janet Main b. 1784 (she was a Petty Maine). Also staying in the House was Donald’s mother Isabella who had a Gaelic Tee name of Peep and was known as MOM PEEP. Donald’s brother William b. 1781 married in Campbelltown on 3 March 1803 to Margaret Moir b.1785 (She was a sister of Charles Moir in No 9 Seatown) stayed in 15 Dunbar Street. These two Davidson families were the founding of the Davidson dynasty in Hopeman.

When Williams family went to visit the granny and aunt they went down to visit Peepy and thus the name Peepy’s was used for that area. This slang name was similar to the Scaup, Ligh, etc.

Tradition (which I cannot verify) was that Mom Peep was a Davidson and was the first to light a fire in the Seatown.

McPHERSON STREET in 1833. – Daniel (Dan) Smith

In 1833 there were five houses on McPherson Street

Nos 1,2,3,5 no number 7(which was and still is an opening) no’s 9-11.

Further along and almost opposite Jeemy Henny’s hoose at no 17 there was a well with a stone surround.

No 1 Alexander Main b.1805 married Margaret Raff b.1806 from the Scaup (Dunbar St) during December 1824 and moved into number 1 in 1825 (see notes)

No 3 John McPherson b. 1801 married Janet Sutherland b.1799 on the 6 Nov 1819 and moved into No 3 in mid 1820s

No 5 John Young b.3 March 1802 (Stotfield) married Margaret Main b.1806 (Ardersier) in January 1824 and moved into No5 in 1825. John was a brother of James Young who stayed in 26 Harbour Street (Chemists).

No 7 No house and a roadway or gap.

No 9 Alexander McPherson b.1801 (Ardersier) married Margaret Robertson b. 1799 (Ardersier) and moved in to No 9 around 1825.

No 11 James McPherson b.29 Dec 1804 married Jean Hendry b. 1805 (Burghead) during April 1824 and moved into No 11 in 1825.

Notes –

  1. So the initial 5 houses of McPherson street was settled around 1925

  2. John No 3 and Alexander No 9 were brothers, their parents being Donald McPherson b.1779 (Campbelltown) and Ann McIntosh b. 1791 (Campbelltown) and they stayed in No 5 in the old Peepy’s. The Donnee came from the father Donald. James in No 11 came from Dunbar Street and I think a cousin of John & Alex McPherson.

  3. Alexander Main No 1 had two brothers John Main (BLUDE) b 14 July 1807 & James Main (FOOT) b. 3 Aug 1809. All three born in Campbelltown. Alexander Main married Margaret Raff b1805 from the Scaup (Dunbar St) and in 1825 moved into 1 McPherson Street. In 1841 Alex died (maybe drowned) and Margaret was left to bring up five young children Donnee b 1826/29 was the eldest (This is the Donnee of Donnee’s sheddie) . Margaret Raff’s brother Donald Raff (Rover) b.1815/16 was married to Ann Main b. 1814/19 and they moved into 46 Harbour St (Doduck Peddies) around 1836/7


1 McPHERSON ST. (Mary Edwards)

Alex Main b.1805 married Margaret Raff b. 1806 on the 2 Dec 1824 and moved in during 1924

3 McPHERSON ST. (Teens)

John McPherson b.1806 married Janet Sutherland b.1800 on 6 Nov 1819 and moved in around 1824.

5 McPHERSON ST. (Coys)

John Young b.3 Apr 1802(Stotfield) married Margaret Maine b.1806 (Ardersier) on 1 Jan 1824 and moved in around 1825

7 McPHERSON ST. (A roadway or gap)

9 McPHERSON ST. (Nackets)

Alexander McPherson b.1798 married Margaret McPherson b.1799 and moved in around 1825

11 McPHERSON ST. (Snapps) – If the date of 1887 on this house is correct then it must have been rebuilt

James McPherson b.29 Dec 1805 married Jean Hendry b.8 March 1804(Burghead) on 7 April 1824 and moved in around 1825.

13 McPHERSON ST. (Baikies)

Alexander Baikie b.1843(Drainie) married Jessie McPherson (Grannie Baikie) b. 1844 on 6 Oct 1865 and moved in around 1866

15 McPHERSON ST. (Waad – Sannak Waad’s father)

William Young (Waad) married Janet McPherson b. 1823 on 16 Aug 1818 and moved in around 1846.

17 McPHERSON ST. (Henny – only after 2nd marriage))

John McPherson b.1815 married Janet Hendry b.1821 and moved in around 1846.

19 McPHERSON ST. (date on house is 1846)

Daniel McPherson b. 23 Jan 1825 (father was Old Teen in No 3 McPherson St) married Isabella Moir b 1829 (Seapark) on 9 Nov 1845 and moved in around 1848.

21 McPHERSON ST. (Emmy McPherson)

John McPherson b.1819 (Jock Dole) married Isabella McIntosh b1824 (Campbelltown) on 4 March 1847 and moved in around 1849.


Lewis Jack b.1827 (Avoch) married Margaret McPherson b.1829 on 26 Oct 1848 and moved in around 1849. Margaret’s father was James McPherson in No 11 McPherson St.

25 McPHERSON ST. (Daas)

John Henderson (Cooper) b.1825 (Fraserburgh) married Jean xxxx b.1829 (Peterhead)


In 1833 the only buildings between McPherson Street and the Harbour –

  1. A coal shed on the east side of Harbour Street opposite the future Havers shop and Duff Street.

  2. Five houses of the old Peepy street

  3. A storehouse at the harbour

At this time the Green and the future Newtoon were pastures and behind David Rocks hoose was a quarry and well.

Between Dan Ralphs (at the briggie) and Davit Rocks (opposite black sheddie) the double rail track transporting lime from the Inverugie lime kilns ran over a rough wooden trestle bridge and no vehicle or person could use this and so access was under the bridge and through what is now the green.

William Young and William Stuart came down from Inverugie past Pickielaw farm and down past the west dyke wall of the Lodge. Then along the top of Findlay’s beach joining the road to the harbour in the vicinity of Sanny Findlay’s boatyard.


John Young (Jock Jondie) b.1847 married Jessie Ralph (Greetin Jess) b.1845 on 30 Sept 1870. Jock’s parents were Aul Johndy and Bell Davidson who stayed where Danny Coy’s shop was in McPherson St. (2017 now Alan & Meg Reid’s house). In the early 1870s Jock & Jess stayed in Dodack Peddy’s hoose at 46 Harbour St and in 1877 has a daughter Isabella. This was the only family they had and thus the Tee name “ONLY”. Isabella married Jeem Douak)

Jock Jondie moved into 25 McPherson Street in the late 1870s

James McPherson (Jeems Douack) b. 1871 married Isabella Young (Isabella Only) b.1877 and they moved in with her parents Jock & Jess.

So apart from No 1 & 3 there was a McPHERSON in every hoose in McPherson Street.


William McPherson b.1821 married Mary Davidson b1821 (Seapark) on 3 Nov 1842 and moved in to 9 Coal Row during 1843. (At this time Coal Row was McPherson Street)

One day Meruck Davidson said to her oldest daughter “Ye ken Jessie (later grannie Backie) Yeer only a Houpmaner if ye hae a’ feet in the Peepys and ane in the Scaup or twa feet in either.

They always said in the Peepy’s . “Keep yeer feet oot o’ the Broch – Ye need a lang speen tae sup we’ a Brocher” When ye went tae the Broch you got the usual greetin – “What of the now. What boat is ye’re faither on, ye’ll have had ye’er tae”, and that was as far as ye got. The Brochers were very sensitive to any criticism of Burghead and their hackles rose at any criticism of Burghead. If you married a Brocher it was said “ There must hae been naething left on the mantlepiece”. (Administrator – all good banter between the two communities and there were, and still are, many happy marriages between the villages and there must be a bit of Broch bleed in us all).

Hopeman’s families can be very tangled up with intermarriage, second marriages and so on and trying to unravel them can be very difficult, especially with so many of them having the same name. The only way to identify them is by birth and who they were married to. This gets a bit difficult back in 1810 when there are so few records available.

David Main b.1775 (Petty) married Christian Raff b.1776 (Petty) on 24 Feb 1802 at Campbelltown and were one of the original settlers and moved into 40 Harbour Street (old no 45).

They had three sons – Alex b.1805; John b.1807 (Blude); and James b.1809 (Foot).

Alex moved into 1 McPherson Street and if the Teens and Coys had not moved into No 3 and 5, Jock Blude and Jeemie Foot would have moved there instead of being in Harbour Street and Coal Row. This would have been followed by the “Dons” from 34 Harbour Street and the “Briggies” from 28 Harbour Stand so McPherson Street could have been Main Street and so many of the McPhersons could have wet their first ‘Hippen’ in Main Street instead of McPherson St.

When families came to Hopeman from Campbelltown they got for the first time in their lives Security of Tenure on a house and garden and it is interesting to note that in 1940 the descendants of four of the original families (in the Scaup) were still occupying the original sites, the houses having been rebuilt. When the second generation of these families married they mostly clustered or kept near relatives. This is not always obvious until one does a bit of delving such as Donald Ralph (Rover) moving into Doduck Peddies at 46 Harbour Street as all of that side of the street was Mains.

HOPEMAN TONGUE – An extract from one of Dan Smiths letters 1990’s

I think it is a pity that the old Hopeman tongue is dying out and there is no record of it and if one comes across an old word there is nowhere one can go and look up the meaning of it.

Fars ee pit harn an aize bowlie ‘ts on saat backet (this is not a bucket) neist spill box (I cant remember the old name for spill box). So if my gansy be ahingen ahint the door, Ill on it taak a few nippies o’ saat an I’ll oot.

We could follow this conversation but could not use it. This conversation gives no indication of its meaning and the man is going to clean his teeth. At that time there were no toothbrushes and no toothpaste. Two old wooden bowls were used. A piece of harn (open sacking) was stretched over one bowl and cold ash from the fire was sifted through the harn into the bowl which was used as a container. A little ash was shaken from the bowl into the palm of the left hand, a few generous pinches of salt were added and both mixed together dry. On the way outside in the passage, water was added to the bowl from a container set in the wall by means of a dipper. Once outside, the middle finger of the right hand was dipped into the bowl and then rubbed in the mixture in the palm of the left hand and then rubbed around the teeth and gums. The mouth was then swilled out with water in the bowl and this was repeated several times. In early Hopeman the people had very good teeth as tobacco and sugar were not in use as they could not grow either. There were no shops until the late 1840s and there was no money in use until the herring fishing started about this period when the Curers and Coopers started monetary payment for fish caught. Up till then, barter was the normal method for the acquision of goods. Hopeman had names for the wall recess in the passage for water storage, for the dipper and water container but I cannot remember what they were called and I can’t look them up. I remember in 5 Peepy Street there was a wall recess and Granny Queen stored water there in two roosers. Later the recess was made into a pressakie and was used to store sheen (shoes).

Comfort and privacy were never an option in early Hopeman. The best that could be hoped for was an old piece of sail in front of the kitchen fire or as a rug in the bedroom. This was eventually replaced by the ‘Clootie Bass’ made from an opened up grain or sugar bag and into this was knotted pieces of cloth material such as old female black knitted stockings, old cut up dadles, woollen drawers, etc. all having been cut into strips. The most common available material was black stockings so these were used as a black border, the border width being determined by the amount of stockings available. Strips of pink bloomers were used to liven up an otherwise drab bass.

A visual inspection was always made of a finished bass and Houpman’s usual praise was lavished on the finished article –

It’s far too sma’ for that area, did ye run oot o’ clooties?

That bass is nae square

Sanny’s erse ’ll be gae call the day wi’ his drawers in the bass.

Bedspreads or bed covers were also made in the same way except shorter length of cloots were used. The other bit of comfort were the bedstanes used in all the beds.

Privacy was non-existent due to the amount of people housed in a small confined space. It was not unknown for two parents and 10 children to be housed in a two bedroom cottage. How they handled sleeping is very interesting as no one could sleep on the floor as these were earthen and subject to rising damp.

One very obvious item missing on the exterior of the building of all the first houses was the Sheddie. The roofs of the first houses were made from different sizes of trees imported from Scandinavia and no boards were available to build sheddies. The first sheddie was built by old Dod Slater who was a joiner and came from the Sloch in 1846 and built 5 Peepy street which was later ‘Boys’ house and then his son Willie More. The roof was built of sawn timber and the couples covered with sarking boards and then slated. The sarking boards were imported Deal or Pine and extra boards were ordered to build a sheddie.

The only outside item was the dry W.C. which was movable and stood like a sentry box at the end of each garden. The Gentry went to visit to pay a visit or pay a call on John Dunn and from this came “Doon in the Dunny”. The common people of Hopeman went “oot tae the Oaffie”. This word was very occasionally heard in the Peepy’s in my memory. A common question heard in Hopeman was “Fars ye’r mither ma quiney, is she oot in the Offie?”

Hopeman Speech

This is a very deep subject and unfortunately no spoken or written records remain

In 1805 to 1810 when the first fishing settlers from the Petty/Ardersier register areas came to Hopeman, they spoke Gaelic and had some English. None of them had been to school so they could not read nor write. There were no newspapers, few books and no mail service so there was no incentive to read or write. The tradesman people in Farquhar Street used “Elgin English” similar to the present day English.

In 1846 George Slater (Auld Dod Slater)b.1805 and his wife Isabella Bruce b.1806 came to Hopeman from the Sloch (Portessie) with seven of a family and built 5 Peepy Street. This family had no Gaelic and had no intention of learning the language and so used the Sloch Slang. At this period the herring fishing had started and the Curers and Coopers (mainly from the Sloch) also used the Sloch Slang. The Hopeman fishing community realised that the Gaelic speech was doomed in Hopeman and the Sloch tongue would take over.

George Bruce b.1835 (Banff and a relative of George Slaters wife Isabella Bruce) married Maggie Kinnaird (Lossiemouth) on 26 Oct 1858 and moved into 3 Peepy St (Wullukie Bettie’s) and this was the start of the Bruce’s in Hopeman. The other three houses next door Teenie Anns & Betsies were all occupied by the Slaters as the father George built and owned the block. In 1864 John Findlay (the boatbuilder) came to Hopeman with a grown up family from the Sloch and so a Sloch community became established in the Peepys.

The Peepys which had the start of the Gaelic language in Hopeman now saw the demise of the same and the start of Hopeman’s future language. This was about 95% Sloch slang and 5% Avoch English used by the settlers from Campbelltown. If we could go back to Hopeman in the latter 1800s we could not use their speech, and we would not know the meaning of a lot of words they used, and most of their food would be unknown to us.

Mid 1800s Speech

It’s nae Mowse fir ee if ou hez eine fingers birselt fan t’ aul chiel’s in a richt ull teen.

It’s no laughing matter if you get your fingers burnt when your father is in a real bad mood.

Late 1800s Speech

Am fair forfochen wi’ that peer sowff an ‘is hirssling an ‘ees aye fool an’ yokie.

I get real exhausted with that poor simpleton and he is always dirty and keeps scratching

(one would only hear that speech at say the beginning of WW2 in the Peepy’s when Granny Queen and her contemporaries got together for tae)

Other examples – Ou’s laat, far see bin, eine gansy’s blawded. Fits the fairfa’ feuch in here, Aye Bella ‘s sin’ in a head tae maak Powsowdie aan makin Kail Clapshot. She’s got a pot o’ Daich on for the hens. Mag be in sheddie sie’ing so’ens and Isa’s ben the Spence. Jeemuck’s doon at the Hythie and the Scaupie and Beel’s reddin an tippin a sma’ line an menin hakes oot bye. Fa yaaz that foosome dowg at the door. I ken owt o’ ’t an wunner fa yacht it

1940s Speech

That’s berns haans an taes are jaylt, ye’d better haap an row them up

A Houpmaner should know this but I don’t think you would hear this speech in the present day.

Gradually this speech changed and words dropped out of use and were forgotten as the item was not often in use.

Before the 2nd world war around 1938 the older generation in Hopeman were using speech that was not used by our generation and especially in the Peepys. Izee Sandy and Izee Calley would visit my grandmother Margaret Slater (1861-1943) known as ‘Queen’ and they used a lot of the old speech. It is interesting to note that Maggie Sannak (Sannak Don’s second wife) 13 Peepy Street never joined them. This was the Houpman syndrome “THEM & US” and she was after all a Brocher! This (Them & Us) existed between Slochers and the six families in the Seatown, and between the fishing communities and the country folk in Hopeman.

Queen b.1861; Izee Callay b.1871 and Izee Sandy b.1879 were of a similar age and would visit each other for tea. They used the Houpman Speech of the early 1900s and I doubt if you would have heard this speech in McPherson Street. Izee Sandy would tak a houp o tae, poke the en o’ the knittin needle intae the whisker and look our the top o’ her glesses and say. That crowd at the Stronach’s en o’ the Scaup are a droll lot and they live like the tinks. The wifie hez a gypit moo, a craichly hoast an she’s awa clocherin. She’s kyaaved an bood twa faulan she skushles aboot maakin soup fae nettle tops we’her fool, yurdedsorie hornt haans. Her man’s wizzent, a bit dottled an dwinet awaa an fyles ee’s in annider warl o’ees ain. That glekit dachter o’thers is a skweengin bikk (scheming bitch) an she wud skin a tink for ees sark. She dizn’a even lift a spunk tae kennl the fire.

The talk would then move on to someone else – That vratch has aye on a casson daidle , she haz a gley in ‘er een an’s nae aa come. Awite, she’s aye on the kaik cor a kleck, waggin er nev in ye’r face.

A point worthy of note here is that all the above women were widows as was Maggie Sannak. Maby they wore the men oot!

The older women of our generation were fond of using a word that had several meanings e.g.

  1. The aul Chiel’s fair fyooched. There’s an awfu fyooch in ye’re press. Ye’re in a fairfa fyooch the day.

  2. Merenz’s maakin daich for the jooks. The pair o’ye are gai daich the day (this was where the Tee name Daich came from. That softies o’ Jeemy Norrie’s are daichy.

  3. Merenz’s jooks used to chase a’body in the Peepys. He’s jookin (avoiding) the school the day. She’s jookin (ducking) in and oot the fouk.

They were fond of running several sentences into one word e.g Goangerrimgeest ( you should be able to understand that long word)

The double negative question was always in use (We used this as well in my day)

Ye’re nae gyaan noo are ye nae – Depending on where the accent is placed and the situation, this simple sentence can have five different meanings. A question should always be asked in the positive and then there is no doubt of its meaning.

The older people used words that you were never sure of their correct meaning such as – Bowie (nothing to do with fishing) Cruisie, Luggie (not your ear), scrankie, thrawd, timmer, wime, and so on. They sounded the letter W as a V and the Shipwright wa Vricht and is something had been wrought such as fashioned from steel or iron it had been vrot. A wretch was a Vretch.

I have omitted all the common ones such as wh as an f (white became Fite) ; using the silent K in words like knife. Etc as it gets too long.

To end on a ‘Light’ note –

As they used to say in the Peepys – “Keep your head and feet dry and your Maker will look after the rest”

Daniel (Dan) Smith

2018 –JM administrator – This change in Hopeman speech is ongoing, and, as it changed during the early 1800s with the arrival of the Slochers and the opening of Admiral Duffs school teaching English, it has continued to change through the generations with many words and sayings being lost. The arrival of better communications through television and internet has caused a rapid change in our speech and this, along with a significant increase in the population from other parts of Scotland and England, has our younger generation speaking more Queens English than Houpman Spike. I am sure that this will be regretted in future years as the dialect disappears. As Dan Smith says “if one comes across an old Houpman word there is nowhere one can go to look up the meaning of it” Houpman spike is becoming Houpmin speak !!