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A Birthday Celebrated in vintage Scottish Postcards

Updated on August 28, 2012
Great Aunt Hettie as I knew her.
Great Aunt Hettie as I knew her.
Old Aunt Hettie's 100th birthday - that's me on the left, the old lady,. my mother Marge and father Murray.
Old Aunt Hettie's 100th birthday - that's me on the left, the old lady,. my mother Marge and father Murray.


She received 27 postcards from various well-wishers on her 25th birthday. And all the cards were of the tartans and badges of Scottish clans. Eight of the postcards were from her brother Andrew, who also happened to be my grandfather, the Rev Andrew McGregor.


Interestingly the postcards were all mailed between 6.30 and 7.30 a.m. on 1 June 1903, Ms Hettie McGregor’s birthday.


The postcards were all published by W. and A.K. Johnston, Ltd., of Edinburgh, Scotland. They are of uniform design in that they all have a strip across the top of the clan’s tartan, with the clan badge on the top right and on the left of the card a picture of a person wearing the clan kilt, in some presumably typical pose.


The eight postcards from Grandfather drew a mild complaint from his wife Miemie, who wrote: “Hettie dear, It’s a puzzler to know what to write after reading all Andrew’s specimens of wit and good wishes, but the top o' the morning to ye and a blithe heart and gay throughout the day. Many happy returns, Miemie.”


Andrew’s postcard messages ranged from clan history lessons to comments about rugby matches and family engagements. Typically he wrote on one card: “Don’t forget the big match on Wednesday. I hope it will be as even and hard fought as this one seems to be.” I have no idea what “this one” refers to.


At the time of this birthday Great Aunt Hettie was living with her father, the Rev Andrew McGregor Snr in his house Rob Roy Villa, in Hillside Road, Tamboers Kloof, a suburb of Cape Town.


It must have taken some organizing to get all these similar cards sent to the Great Aunt, and my guess is that it was her brother, Grandfather Andrew, who did the organizing. My guess is based on the fact that on 7 May 1903 he sent a postcard, written in Latin, to his father. My Latin is too rusty to really be able to translate it but I get the impression that he was not impressed with the depiction of the Clan McGregor tartan. If one of the HubPages readers who reads this Hub can give me more insight into the Latin I would be grateful!


Anyway I just hope the Hubmob enjoy the accompanying scans of the postcards.

The Postcards

Click thumbnail to view full-size
From Andrew (No. 1)From Andrew (No. 2)From Andrew (No. 3)From Andrew (No. 4)From Andrew (No. 5)From Andrew (No. 6)From Andrew (No. 7)From Andrew (No. 8)From MiemieThe Latin one to Great-Grandfather Andrew McGregor
From Andrew (No. 1)
From Andrew (No. 1)
From Andrew (No. 2)
From Andrew (No. 2)
From Andrew (No. 3)
From Andrew (No. 3)
From Andrew (No. 4)
From Andrew (No. 4)
From Andrew (No. 5)
From Andrew (No. 5)
From Andrew (No. 6)
From Andrew (No. 6)
From Andrew (No. 7)
From Andrew (No. 7)
From Andrew (No. 8)
From Andrew (No. 8)
From Miemie
From Miemie
The Latin one to Great-Grandfather Andrew McGregor
The Latin one to Great-Grandfather Andrew McGregor

Copyright Notice

The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Tony McGregor 2011


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    • Gillsie profile image


      10 years ago from Oregon

      That was fun, thanks. We seldom get a chance to see another's treasures.

      I am Buchanan & Crawford married (soon) to a Bruce so we enjoy any bit of clan history.

    • Dame Scribe profile image

      Dame Scribe 

      10 years ago from Canada

      Such a awesome method of honoring their clans. Very cool hub! thank you for sharing. :)

    • The Old Firm profile image

      The Old Firm 

      10 years ago from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand

      I know this may be sacrilege to a good Wee Kirk lad, but you could seek out a more mature RC Father to translate. Many of them had to learn Latin as part of the calling.

      Best wishes,


    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      10 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks so much for all the comments and I'm glad so many of you found the postcards interesting. I love things like these postcards (and I have more - though that might not be good news for all!).

      Anyway, it was fun writing this Hub and putting the pix together. I still need help with the Latin adn would like to know more about the postcards, like when they were published.

      Love and peace,


    • The Old Firm profile image

      The Old Firm 

      10 years ago from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand

      I found a couple of my ancestral tartans there Tony (I'm not all Irish) Thanks old son.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom rubenoff 

      10 years ago from United States

      Wow. Amazing!

    • Madison Parker profile image

      Madison Parker 

      10 years ago from California

      Beautiful photos of the cards! Gotta get to Scotland! It's one of my husband's favorite places in the world!

    • justmesuzanne profile image


      10 years ago from Texas

      How charming and unique! Thank you! :)

    • TKIMWRSVC profile image


      10 years ago from United States

      i love the art style of the cards

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 

      10 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      What a great story, thanks for sharing

    • Teresa McGurk profile image


      10 years ago from The Other Bangor

      Great Hub! And a neat primer on all the tartans, too.

    • KCC Big Country profile image


      10 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks for sharing Tony!  Those are really cool.  I have a box of old postcards and find them fascinating but they are not associated with anyone I know.  Knowing, or being related to, the people makes it truly special!  Hopefully someone can help you with the Latin.

    • 2patricias profile image


      10 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      What a wonderful collection to have in the family - thank you for sharing this.

      And full marks for another interesing & unusual hub.


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