Document of the Month – Game book, Strathallan Castle, 1843

Our document of the month comes from the MacGregor of MacGregor collection (PD60-132). The record in question is simply titled ‘Game Book, Strathallan Castle’. It dates from 1843 and provides a unique insight into the life of the Victorian Perthshire gentry.

The first question to ask is what is a ‘Game Book’? In this case, a ‘game book’ is a daily list of everything that the individual shot whilst out hunting. All of the activities contained within it relate to Strathallan estate and the surrounding land.

The book provides a detailed daily account of the shootings. This includes what animal was shot, where it was shot, when it was shot and description of the week as a whole. For example, an unusual account on Monday 3rd November 1843 is recalled:

‘Coming home in the dark, killed a heron and found 3 trout in his throat’.

It is not clear who the book belonged to, but we are confident it is John Athol Murray-MacGregor. There is a small card for the meetings of ‘Abercairney’s Fox Hounds’ inserted within the book that contains his signature.

John Athol Murray-MacGregor was the 3rd baronet of Lanrick and Balquhidder. He was married to Mary Charlotte Hardy, daughter of the famous naval officer Sir Thomas Hardy. He did, however, have strong connections with Strathallan Estate and seemed to enjoy his time there.

Also included in the book are various sketches of horses. It is possible that the author of the book, could have been one of the two individuals shown.