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Roger, Lizzie 27th January 1990

Roger and Lizzie's Story

Dad (Norris a.k.a. Roger) came out of Montgrew farm near Keith, and Mum (Elizabeth a.k.a. Lizzie (née Coull)) came from nearby Rothiemay in Banffshire. Roger & Lizzie both passed away in 2007 after long and fruitful lives. Both from large families, Roger was the 7th of 14 children, Lizzie one of 10, they were amongst the last of their generation, and together contributed to the new generation to the tune of 6 children.

Roger was an accomplished fiddler, and for many a year entertained patrons of the Imperial Bar on South Street, Elgin, in a regular Friday and Saturday night engagement, accompanying Bert Fyfe who played accordian to a similarly high standard, and before that, Jim Cameron from Forres who played button accordian superbly. Amongst his fiddler heroes were (James) Scott Skinner, the 'Strathspey King', and William Marshall from Fochabers, both legends in the early 20th century (as now) in Scottish music circles.

Roger appeared on an early Scottish Television entertainment competition entitled 'Bothy Nichts' which emulated the farm bothies of days gone by in which farm workers gathered in the evenings after work was done for the day, in the farm bothy where the single men were lodged, to sing and and dance and play music (aye, they knew how to entertain themselves in those days), to tell stories, and no doubt to have a couple of drams of whisky along the way. It was approximately 1965, and with a group of friends and acquaintances from the Forres, Alves, and (I think) Knockando area to the South of Elgin. The television appearance failed to win any prizes, but thrilled everyone even though it was transmitted in black and white pictures in thise days.

He walked with a barely noticable limp or rolling gait, the legacy of a badly broken leg resulting from an accident whilst waiting with the horse and cart he had taken to Keith railway station to transport one of his sisters arriving to visit Montgrew. The horse was startled by a loud noise and the wheel of the buggy did the damage as the animal raced away from the scene.

Horses featured large in Roger's early life as for everyone at the time. Montgrew farm was no exception and he had silver cups and medals won at ploughing matches with a pair of Clydesdale. Roger was brought up at Montgrew. There are few if any surviving photographs of early days, but there was one of Roger at perhaps 10 years of age clearly enjoying summer weather and smiling and barefoot as was the custom for children of the time.

The majority of Roger's working life comprised farming of one sort or another. At Montgrew during and perhaps after WW2 Italian prisoners of war were to be seen on the land. Roger and Lizzie moved away from Montgrew to manage North Bogbain 2 or 3 miles to the West of Keith. The webmaster of this site, Billy, spend the first couple of his years at Bogbain, but thereafter Roger took work as farm grieve (supervisor or day to day manager) at various farms at Tarland, Earnside near Alves, Mains of Alves, and eventually Seafield near Forres, where farm life came to an end and the family moved to Elgin approximately 1967 (aged 50). Apparently after WW2 he had been offered the opportunity to move to Ashford, Kent in the South of England as a farm manager, and declined for reasons that will never be known.

The remainder of Roger's working life was spent at Elgin Sawmills as a sawyer and saw 'doctor', developing wide knowledge of the different timbers and where they originated from.

Roger was a keen reader, often travel, geographical or non-fiction books. As a schoolboy he studied Latin and French and remembered topics from Science and Mathematics amongst other things, presumably not to a very advanced level, but nevertheless regretted not having had the chance to further his education to higher level.

Roger's Family

Father: John McKay, farmer, Montgrew, Keith
Mother: Ida McKay (née Masson)


  • Bill (William): Died at Elgin, Moray, 2011 aged 90
  • Rory (Norman): Died at Birmingham, England
  • Jimmy (James): Died at Tarland, Aberdeenshire
  • Jock (John): Died at Glenrothes, Fife
  • Geordie (George): Died at Garmouth, Moray
  • Robert: Died in childhood, Montgrew
  • Roger (Norris): Died at Elgin, Moray, 2007, aged 89


  • Babby (Margaret): Died at Catterick, Yorkshire
  • Bunty (Ida): Died at Aberdeen
  • Kirsty (Iris): Died at Alves, Moray
  • Jock the quine (Ivy): Died at Forres, Moray
  • Dimple (Isla): Died at Elgin, Moray
  • Joey (Josephine): Died at Ballindalloch, Moray
  • Mary: Died at Keith, Banffshire

Lizzie was a dedicated and caring mother for the majority of her life. Her early life was spent at 'the Knauchlands' near Rotheimay. Her education had been to the Scottish standard of her day, and she was very well accomplished in the three 'Rs' and highly polished in the domestic ritual of raising 5 boys and a girl.

In her early life she had worked 'in service' to a banker and to a minister of the Church of Scotland, and for a time had worked as an auxiliary nurse, presumably in and around the area of Rothiemay and Huntly near Keith. In her later life as the children grew up Lizzie took part-time cleaning work, retiring from working as a cleaner at Elgin College (previously Elgin Academy).

Roger and Lizzie were married in The Commercial Hotel in Moss Street, Keith, January 18th 1941. Robert was born January 19th, fortunately for all concerned, in the following year of 1942. In January 1941 there had been many snow storms and deep snow prevailed, but the happy couple travelled to spend a short honeymoon with Roger's sister Ivy and husband Sandy Morrison, near Forres.

Lizzie used to tell the story, perhaps of another time, when 'Uncle Peter', John McKay's older brother had to transport the Minister to Church on a Sunday because of the deep snow with a pair of horse and a sled. Peter's way of driving the horse onwards was to shout 'Get up ya bugger' at which the Minister commented 'That's a very interesting name for your horse, what do you call the other one ?' to which the reply came 'Ya bugger o' hell'.

As a girl, Lizzie had been 'Churched' and regularly attended Sunday School. Although not a Church-goer in adult life, she retained a strong set of morals throughout her entire life and had strong convictions about the rights and wrongs of this world. Her 'moral compass', to use a modern expression, was rarely inaccurate.

To her everlasting credit, Lizzie was committed to caring for all of her children however wayward or distant they appeared, in times of happiness and sorrow, and will forever be sorely missed.

Lizzie's Family

Father: Robert Coull, master mason, Rothiemay
Mother: Christina (?) Coull (née Watson, family possibly originating from the Banff area of Banffshire)


  • Sandy: Lives near Cullen, Banffshire
  • Jimmy: Died at Stirling, Stirlingshire
  • Charlie: Died at Rothiemay, Banffshire
  • Bert: Died at Keith, Banffshire


  • Ethel: Died at Keith, Banffshire
  • Ruby: Died at Keith, Banffshire
  • Janet: Died at Keith, Banffshire
  • Chrissie: Died at Keith, Banffshire
  • Lizzie: Died at Elgin, Moray
  • Isabella: Died at Keith, Banffshire, aged 17

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