Elizabeth McRae


This is the story of Elizabeth McRae, a little girl from Edinburgh, who none of her present day descendants knew existed until she appeared in her father’s army records when the family tree was being traced.

Elizabeth was born severely disabled in Edinburgh in 1912. At the age of nine she was sent away from her home and family to Caithness in the far north of Scotland and was placed in the Latheron Poorhouse, where she eventually died in 1926.

Such facts as we know about her short, sad life show how attitudes to disability were very different 100 years ago.  Never spoken of or acknowledged, this website is Elizabeth’s memorial.

Lament for Elizabeth McRae

Darkness covered my life and my death
Until now
Now a light has been shone into my past
Now a little can be known and more imagined
Now I can be remembered

Still many questions
Parts of my story will always
start with a question

I know not why I was sent from my home
I know not how I came to spend the rest of my little life in that cold, bleak place
on the Causewaymire

I know not how I died

The register reads:
Elizabeth McRae. Female. Age 9. Child. Imbecile. Unable to walk. Incontinent.
Looks fairly bright.
And then it reads: November 3rd 1926. Died.


People spoke of me as though
I had no understanding
And perhaps my understanding
was not like their understanding
But it was my understanding
And the life they spoke of was my life
And the end they wrote of was my end

I am laid to rest in the Latheron graveyard
A fair place where the
rich dead look over the sea
And although my grave has no mark
Here, at last, is peace.

Peace for me.
And peace for you who found me.

© James Hudson and Neil Munro