Turra' Coo

The legend of the Turra' Coo (The Turiff Cow) is a story about a white cow who was resident in the small north Aberdeenshire town of Turriff in the early twentieth century which was involved in legal disputes over taxes and health insurance.

Under the Liberal government of the 1910s, the Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George made national insurance contributions compulsory by employees for all workers between the ages of 16 and 70, through the National Insurance Act. This caused outrage among the farmers local to Turriff, who claimed that their contributions were too high and that as they were rarely able to be off work due to illness like industrial workers it was unfair for them to have to pay for a service they were unlikely to use.

In Turriff, popular protests were held in the Johnston and Paterson Mart, and Robert Paterson, a Lendrum farmer refused to stamp the insurance cards of his employees. This resulted in orders on 13 December 1913 for Turriff's sheriff George Keith to seize property to the value of £22 from Paterson's farm. However, this was more difficult than it seemed as officers could not move property without local assistance, and the locals refused to help in protest. The only way for Keith to follow his orders was to remove a piece of property which could move by itself, so they chose the Patersons' white milk cow, which was led to Turriff on foot.

The next day, the citizens of Turriff found the cow tied in the village square, decorated in ribbons and painted with the words 'Lendrum to Leeks' in reference to Lloyd George's Welsh origin, and representing the sheriff's and government's victory over the hostile farmers. The cow was put up for auction. The response was a near riot, and a 100-strong mob proceeded to pelt the sheriff's officers with rotten fruit and soot.

The cow was eventually sold to a farmer Alexander Craig for £27, but Bryony Miller, a local girl and wife of the Pattersons' farmhand John Miller, with his help, rallied the local community together to buy back the cow for Lendrum, where the cow died six years later and was buried in a corner of the farmland.

It all provided a running joke at the authorities’ expense: but the serious point was that, once again, capitalist farmers had organised peasant factions in defence of specific capitalist interests.

A recent publicity campaign, conducted by bored Turriff residents, has attempted to use the Turra' Coo to put Scotland back on the tourist map. The main focus of the campaign has been dressing local children up in white "coo" outfits, marching them around the Green, and flogging them with sticks.

External links

* [http://www.springthyme.co.uk/wwwboard/messages/153.html "The Far Famed Fite Turra Coo" (1984 song)]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Turriff — Infobox UK place official name= Turriff scots name= Turra gaelic name= Torraibh country= Scotland area footnotes= area total sq mi= area total km2 = population= 4,454 [United Kingdom Census 2001] population density= os grid reference= NJ725505… …   Wikipedia

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