"Survey return from James Curdie"
James Curdie was a church minister to Gigha parish.
Gigha (along with Cara) was a parish in the historic County of Argyle and in the New Statistical Account (edited by John Sinclair), special note was made of the generally good state of health of the population. Fishing was a large part of the community, alongside agriculture. The population in 1841 was 550.
1. How many Medical Men practice within the Parish of Gigha ?
None at all – And I am not aware of any Medical man having resided here at any period.
2. The Names and Addresses of these
3. Has the number increased or diminished of late years?
4. Have any left the Parish since you became connected with it? If so, for what reasons?
5. Is there any complaint among the people of inadequacy in the supply of Medical aid?
The people of Gigha feel the want of medical aid much - & complain of such want as a great deprivation.
6. Do you know of any cases of protracted suffering, or of injury by Accident, such as might have been alleviated had proper advice been at hand?
I have known various such cases – Owing to the difficulty, expense, & sometimes, impossibility, of going across the ferry & travelling nine miles by land to the nearest practitioner, it is only when is too late medical [manuscript damaged]1 being applied for, that he is gone for – and the [causes] prevent his visits being as often repeated as would be desirable & necessary.
7. To what extent is the deficiency of qualified Practitioners made up by the efforts of other parties?
The parish Minr is in this habit of administering a few simple medicines – but neither he nor any one else in the parish can bleed2 – which want is much felt - & with good cause.
8. Does your experience enable you to suggest any measure – of general applicability – such as would be likely to relieve to some extent the evils (if they exist) of deficiency in the supply of Medical aid?
Here a Medical practitioner stationed at Tayinloan, which is near the ferry on the opposite coast, he would have easy access to a considerable population on this mainland of Kintyre & might be engaged for a consideration, to visit us one or [twice.], weekly, which would prove of great benefit to us. The most of the people here are very poor – extremely so at present.
9. What Heritors3 are resident, either generally or occasionally, in your Parish?
The whole property of this Island & parish belongs to two families – viz, that of the late Capt McNeill of Gigha, commonly called of Colonsay - & the Honble Mr Macdonald Morton of Largie, - neither of whom reside in Gigha – but Mr Morton resides occasionally, & does so at present, at Largie by Tayinloan.
N.B. The nearest Medical practitioner to us, is Mr Mackellar, Surgeon, Clachan by Tarbert4
1. There is a tear in the survey which makes word(s) illegible.
2. Bleeding, or bloodletting, is the withdrawal of blood from a patient to prevent or cure illness and disease. This was a common medical practice in the 1800s, dating back to antiquity, and was often carried out by unlicensed healers as well as qualified physicians.
3. A heritor was a landowner, under Scots Law, whose holdings were sizeable enough for them to be liable for the payment of public burdens such as Poor Law rates, road and bridge assessments and the church minister’s stipend.
4. Written at the bottom left of the page.