A person may now set out on Sunday afternoon after divine service from Edinburgh to London; may stay a whole day in London; and be again in Edinburgh on Saturday at six in the morning! The distance from Edinburgh to London is 400 miles. — Forty years ago, it was common for people to make their will, before setting out on a London journey. ~~ William Creech, 1793
A quote that speaks volumes about the trials of travelling more than a few miles in the mid-18th century! William Creech was a magistrate in Edinburgh and this quote is from letters he wrote to Sir John Sinclair, who published them in 1791 as an appendix to the first Statistical Account of Scotland. His letters are a terrifically entertaining read as well as being an interesting snapshot of some 30 years of everyday life in Edinburgh.
The Statistical Accounts of Scotland for 1791 and 1841 have been digitised by the University of Edinburgh. It’s a free resource and all visitors can browse, read and print pages. Access the search page by scrolling down the home page to the box labelled ‘for non-subscribers’ and selecting ‘browse scanned pages’.