John Ballingall (1824-1912) : Fife's Oldest Agriculturalist: By His Distant First Cousin


The day after the death of John Ballingall the Dundee Courier Newspaper wrote: "Dunbog is mourning today the loss of its grand old man - honest John - who had gone out and in amongst its people for 80 years, and whose warm heart and kindly disposition was only known to those with whom he came most closely in contact. Mr. Ballingall was born a farmer, having inherited the farming instinct from a worthy sire, and having devoted all his life to the art of making two blades of grass grow where only one grew before. For many years his acreage on the farms of Dunbog, Higham, and Rumeldry exceeded 1,500, and at the same period he managed the adjoining farms of Glenduckie, Aytoun, and Balmeadie, another 1,000 acres, for Mr. Carnegie, and the work seemed to lie lightly on his shoulders. It might be truly said of him that he never touched any land without adorning it so far as high cultivation and fertility were concerned. He was an outstanding example of one who knew how to bring crop and stock to perfection. His worth and experience were recognized by his holding the position of director of the H. [Highland] and A. [Agricultural] Society for many years. For several generations he was the life and soul of his district, and one of the kindest and best friends and neighbours that one could conceive. Possessed of a ready wit and repartee he made himself agreeable, and even fascinating to young and old, and evinced great interest in the welfare and happiness of others. In public affairs he was enthused with devotion to the public interest, both local and for the county, and was seldom absent from their meetings, at which he took a very active part. While Mr. Ballingall was a very successful breeder of cross cattle and sheep, he never essayed into pedigreed stock of any kind and though a highly scientific agriculturalist, making himself conversant with all the freshest ideas of cultivation, fertilization, and feeding, he was more of a practical than a theoretical farmer, and those who had the benefit of his tuition and guidance were show the advantage of care, attention, and experience rather than the modern school of book farming and experiment. A devoted and generous member of the U. [United] F. [Free] Church, he was most regular in attendance, and in his younger days generally preferred to walk four miles (to Newburgh) rather than take the use of one of his horses. He was present at church as usual last Sunday. Originally a strong Liberal in politics, he became Unionist over Home Rule, and has for many years been President of the Unionist Association for East Fife. While admiring the Prime Minister, he was not afraid to enter into a heckling encounter with him when occasion offered. In sport he was a keen curler, and for over thirty years the senior skip and oldest member of Abdie Club. He died in harness, having just made his usual morning round of the steading, where one of his men found him sitting, and advised him to go home to breakfast. He did so, and died in his chair." John Ballingall was descended from a long line of farmers dating back to his great grandfather, Thomas Ballingall (1693-1752) of Kettle Parish. By the time the young agriculturalist was 19 years of age his father, David Ballingall (1775-1859) gave him the farm of Higham in Dunbog from the Marquess of Zetland in 1844. In 1858 John Ballingall took another Zetland farm, that of Dunbog. After his father died in 1859 John succeeded to a lease of Rameldry in Kettle parish, the ancestral farm of the family. Ballingall was also a member of the Fife County Council and was a Justice of the Peace for Fifeshire. Ballingall was a Trustee for the estates of his two cousins: Henry and his brother, James Buist. He was Chairman of the Local Authority of Fife; first President of the Fife Farmers' Club. This then is the narrative of the life and times of Fife's Oldest Agriculturalist, John Ballingall.


Michael T Tracy
Paperback | 38 pages
216 x 279 x 2mm | 113g
Publication date
07 Aug 2017
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Illustrations note
Illustrations, black and white