Charles 'Codlins' Simpson: biography.
Date 1953
Track ID 9703
Part 1 Loading...

Track Information

Original Track ID


Original Tape ID



Charles 'Codlins' Simpson: biography.

Charles Simpson was born in Macduff in 1875, in a street with a wall [well] at the foot of it. He was nicknamed 'Codlins' when he was six years old. A big boy took away codlings he had caught, and he was crying as he came past the ropeworks. The lads there gave him the nickname. He left school before he was eleven and became a cattle herd when he was twelve, looking after 30 head of cattle for £1 for six months, with brose for breakfast every morning. A treat every Sunday night was a sheave [slice] of bread and a roasted salt herring. He was not on the farm long enough to "gae through the caff-hoose" [the Horseman's Word initiation]. He then herded sheep for Peter Riddle, who gave him 7/- [seven shillings] a week: he thought he had been knighted. He recalls Peter surviving a fall down a precipice at Cornhill.

Then Codlins went to Silverford to work for a man nicknamed 'Bombas' because he was a bombadier in the Volunteers. Codlins became a blacksmith's apprentice. He once saw Smith Davy make a comb screw for a sailboat, using paper and pencil to mark out the thread and a comb made from a small file. Codlins also helped to build the innermost quay at Macduff: only towards the end of the work was there a crane to lift the stone. He also went out on the fishing boats if they were a man short. But then there was an incident that he doesn't want to talk about, and he ran away from home. At the age of sixteen, he went to Aberdeen and joined a schooner, the 'Isabella' of Perth. He would like it to be remembered that he sailed on a square-rigged boat, contrary to a report in the 'Banffie' [the Banffshire Advertiser] that another man was the last who had done so. Then he was on a scaffie boat [skiff] from Avoch, fishing out of the Broch (Fraserburgh), and later on the 'Olive Branch' out of Peterhead.

Item Notes

Hamish Henderson alludes to a line from Burns' 'There was a lad was
born in Kyle': "'Twas then a blast o' Janwar' win / Blew hansel in
on Robin."

Recording Location

County - Banffshire

Parish - Gamrie

Village/Place - Macduff