The Scotsman Wed 12 Feb 1845       MELANCHOLY     ACCIDENT-EIGHT BOYS DROWNED AT SHOTTS-On Tuesday afternoon the 4th current, eight fine boys, belonging to the village of Sallysburgh, Shotts,  lost their lives in a reservoir (generally called Bogfoot Loch”) in the immediate   neighbourhood, while engaged in the amusement of sliding.  The accident took place unseen by any one;   and the fears of their village were only roused by the boys not making their appearance  as usual in the evening .  The night  was fearfully dark,  and the fatal spot of which the boys had sunk was unknown.  What a night of anxiety and sorrow the poor parents must have must have passed!   As soon as the morning dawned , an immense crowd of people assembled, and having procured planks and ladders and ropes, for the purpose of reaching from the bank to the place where they must have sunk-a task of considerable difficulty and danger, on account of the frailty of the ice, and the depth of the water-they succeded at last in bringing out the bodies of the whole eight youthful sufferers. The scene was truly affecting when body after body was brought to the bank;  and few that witnessed it could refrain form tears.    And when parents who had lost one child were so  agonized with sorrow, what must have been the feelings of those of them from whose domestic circles two children had been taken away at once.-Abridged from the Glasgow Citizen.


Herald Monday10th Feb1845                      


Melancholy Accident – Eight Lives Lost – On the afternoon of Tuesday last, one of those calamities which from one cause or another form a melancholy epoch in many a rural hamlet throughout Scotland, took place at the clachan of Mooryhaugh, or Gutters, a place about a mile west from Shotts Kirk. It appears that no less than eight boys left this little hamlet towards the evening of Tuesday, for the purpose of sliding and amusing themselves on Duntillan Loch, or reservoir, and of this number not one returned to tell the tidings of their sudden fate. Conjecture, therefore, as to the immediate cause of this affecting accident is all that can be known, as only one man in the nieghbourhood of the Loch saw them, and that was about dusk of the evening: they were all merry then: but on looking out some time afterwards, the whole group had disappeared – whither he knew not. The boys had not returned home, and the anxious parents naturally began to inquire of one another, what was become of their Willie – their Jamie – or their Johnnie? but no one could give a satisfactory reply. Duntillan Loch was spoken of through the day by some of the boys, and two of them were known to have gone in quest of heather to make brooms. The Loch was soon reached by the whole population of the place, and there by its verge was found the collected heather, but no one to claim it. The cries of the poor distracted mothers now became perfectly heart-rending. Not an eye in the hamlet was closed in sleep that night: but the wailings were deep and loud. On Wednesday morning the whole country side was collected at Duntillan Loch: search was made, and the eight bodies were got lying together beneath the fatal spot where ice had given way. The names of the families thus bereaved are –


            The family of Lochheed,                                                            Two boys

                        -           Main,                                                               Two boys

                        -           Marshall                                                           One boy

                        -           Miller,                                                              One boy

                        -           Wardrop,                                                         One boy

                        -           Clyde                                                               One boy


Everything that humanity can suggest has been done to soothe the sorrowing parents and friends. The clergymen of the parish of Shotts, the Rev. Messrs. Watt and Hill, have been most assiduous in their attentions: while the country people around have evinced, by their inquiry and attention, that they, too, deeply sympathize in the melancholy cause of so much general sorrow.                                                                                                             








The Reverand Watt (left) one of the ministers who conducted the funerals of the unfortunate boys.















Lines by a Bereaved Mother on the Eight Boys who were Drowned at Duntillan Loch, Salsburgh on the 4th February, 1845




Oh what a sound of sorrow here                                   Two Christian ministers did come

what mean those piercing cries                          Great consolation giving

An only Son his parents joy                                           Teaching the parents not to frown

In cold water lies                                                          Fir ‘twas the will of Heaven


Eight youthful boys did leave their homes                       Sure it was the appointed place

And in great haste did steer                                           By Heaven’s high decree

Unto Duntilland Loch they went                        But how these blooming youth went down

Ne’er dreading harm nor fear                                                    No mortal eye did see


Great sorrow on my heart doth come                            Oh God Thine ever seeing eye

While I relate their doom                                               Was present at that time

As all at once the ice gave way              And called those youthful wanderers home

And these poor boys went down                                   For some great work divine


No human eye for to behold                                          Long shall the seventh of February

And no assistance near                                     With pain remembered be

no ear to hear their dying cry                                         Two hundred friends did them inter

No one to drop a tear                                                               In great solemnity


Oh Lord Thine all sufficient aid                          Companions dear they were in life

Is present everywhere                                                   In death they did not swear

And angels guarded round the spot                   In Shottskirk Churchyard their bodies lie

While they were suffering there                                      quite close to one another


That night was dark and fearful dark                                          Behold my son was one

While each searched for his own                                   Whos death did wound my soul

But undisturbed these bodies did lie                   And made my heart strings all to bleed

Within a watery tomb                                                    And through my bosom roll


That night was spent in sad despair                                Like flowers he opened fair to life

For nothing could be done                                                        With every blooming joy

Before the sun did gild that day                         But cruel death did seize on him

The corpses were brought home                                               And slew my darling boy


The neighbours all were sore oppressed                        And oft with painted future joy

It spread a dismal gloom                                               When he grew up to man

To see eight bodies stiff in death                                    But all the springs of pleasures day

So late in health and bloom                                                       I shall lament my son


Sore prangs did rend their fathers’ hearts                       Adieu my son the day comes soon

The mothers’ souls did move                             When friends shall bear me to the tomb

And oft they kissed clay cold lips                      Oh may we meet when cares unknown

Which they so much did love                                         In that bright world above


Where every tongue and heart employ

And every soul is filled with joy

Where grief and pain no more annoy

And sorrow is unknown


Mrs. Miller







Hark what doleful sounds are these

Low moans came sweeping on the breeze

Like a soul surcharged with grief

By fits it bursts into a sigh

Oh God what means that dreadful cry

May morning bring relief


The dawn of morn had scarce begun

When low before the rising sun

Eight corpses were brought to view

Each father gazed with anxious dread

With bursting heart and aching head

As each one out they drew


Eight boys had left their happy homes

The day before in joyful tones

Some duty to perform

While they cut down the heather bed

And flung some lightly on his head

To hasten their return


The tempting pond in passing by

With crusted face so clear and dry

They threw the bundle down

And ventured rashly on the ice

No one was there to give advice

Or bring the tidings home


Meanwhile the night grew dark apace

Eight mothers ran from place to place

Enquiring for her boy

But ne’er again will they spear

Their parents withered heart to chear

They’ll never taste that joy


They neighbours all were on the ground

From every cot and hamlet round

With anxious doubt and fear

Then to Duntilland Loch they hied

The heather over there they spied

To mark the spot was near


With horror did they spend that night

By the ice bound lake till mornings’ light

Each thinking of his own

And every one assistance lent

To drag the pound with firm intent

To bring these dear ones home


Ah who can pains the mothers’ care

With shrieks and moans of dire despair

The echoes rung around

While one rushes forth with passion wile

And to her bosom clasped her child

Soon as that child was found


Another turned her eyes away

To shocked to look upon that clay

The loved so much in life

Her bosom heaved with writhing pain

The strove but could not look again

So dreadful was that strife


While all with sorrow were oppressed

The grief that filled each parents’ breast

In divers ways were shown

Some rent the air with piercing cries

While some in silent agonies

Wished much to be alone


Two Christian ministers were there

Striving to both their sad despair

But nothing could be heard

Save the wailing mothers’ moan

Like Rachel weeping for her own

Because her babes are not




Probably written by William McHutchison.

Dated as 1870 but the style of writing tends to suggest

it has been written earlier possibly around the period

shortly after the tragedy.   (Salsburgh Heritage Group).





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