Morag Williams


Morag Williams (1942-2020)

Our Society suffered a significant loss with the passing of Morag Williams in February 2020. A former President and Fellow of our Society, Morag Scott grew up in Mouswald and attended the local primary school and Dumfries Academy. From there she went on to study history at the University of Edinburgh, graduating M.A., followed by teacher training at Moray House. She did her probationary teaching at Dumfries High School where she taught history, maths, and geography. On gaining her Parchment she married John in 1966 and they initially set up home on the family farm in Wales. In 1969 they returned to Scotland to Merkland, Kirkmahoe, where they brought up their family and which remained their lifelong home.

In 1983, Morag took on a temporary part-time cataloguing job at the Crichton Hospital, Dumfries and remained there for the next 26 years! By 1989 she had become Dumfries and Galloway Health Board Archivist when, with support from hospital colleagues, she established the museum to celebrate the Crichton’s 150th anniversary. It was officially opened that same year by Prince Charles. In 1990 the Museum was awarded second place in the competition for the best new visitor attraction in Scotland. She was Curator of the Museum until 2004 when its site was required for the development of Easterbrook Hall. The museum had to close as there were no suitable alternative premises available, the artefacts were stored and Morag moved with the archives to a new office in Solway House. She retired in 2008, her last years in employment largely spent in arranging safe distribution of various collections and the transfer of the archives to the Dumfries Archive Centre in the Ewart Library. She continued to answer queries on Health Board matters for a number of years and used to joke ‘I still work for the Health Board but now I don’t get paid.’

With her deep interest in local history, Morag was a leading and active member of our Society and served as a Vice-President from 2002–2006 and President from 2007–2010. More recently, she was one of the principal figures behind the successful conference ‘A Celebration of the Crichton; Past, Present and Future’ arranged in 2018 by our Society in collaboration with the Crichton Foundation. She was made an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow (Crichton Campus).

While in post, she wrote several histories of hospitals throughout the region, notably the History of Crichton Royal Hospital (1989), marking the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the hospital. She also published a joint paper in the History of Psychology (Vol.13, 2002), and wrote two obituaries for the British Medical Journal.

In retirement she assisted the Adamson family in the publication of Kirkpatrick Fleming, on the Borders of History by our Society. Morag was the main figure in the small group responsible for the account of The Kirkmahoe War Memorials, she also edited a collection of reminiscences by older inhabitants of Kirkmahoe parish which was published as Kirkmahoe Mixed Bag. She was the leader of the small group who carried out the recording of Kirkmahoe Church on behalf of The Arts Society. Other involvements were: the Kirkmahoe Daytime Social Club; the Kirkmahoe Heritage Group; and the Church Women’s Guild.

Morag contributed the following articles to our Transactions:

Vol.80 (2006); Obituary, James Harper.

Vol.84 (2010); Rosa Gigantia – George Watt, including ‘On the trail of Two Knight’ by Girija Viraraghavan.

Vol.87 (2013); John Rutherford, Society Member and Photographer in Annandale.

Vol.88 (2014); John Rutherford, Society Member and Photographer of scenes in Dumfries.

David F. Devereux.

Articles by this author

Morag Williams

Rosa Gigantea - George Watt, including ‘On the Trail of Two Knights’ by Girija Viraraghavan

Botany, Recent

TDGNHAS Series III, 84 (2010), 1(3.44 MB)


The Eskdale and Liddesdale Advertiser of 14th October 2009 published an article by retired Langholm General Practitioner, Tom Kennedy, which began: ‘A NEW rose with Langholm connections has been cultivated in India and it is hoped that it may one day be planted in the Rosevale Street garden in the future.’ (More of this garden in Langholm later.) He might have added that across Dumfries and Galloway and in Grampian there are other sites which would welcome the opportunity to plant this tender and beautiful rose because of associations with Sir George Watt and involvement in attempts at its propagation in Scotland. The following article appeared in The Indian Rose Annual, XXVI, 2010, the magazine of the Indian Rose Federation, founded in 1979. It appears by kind permission of Girija and Viru Viraraghavan, recognised as celebrated ‘Rosarians of the World’.

Morag Williams

Rosa Gigantea – ‘Sir George Watt’ Part II: Including ‘Sir George Watt’ Escorts ‘Banaras Dawn’ to Scotland by Girija Viraraghavan

Botany, Recent

TDGNHAS Series III, 85 (2011), 1(3.42 MB)


Readers of the Transactions issue LXXXIV 2010 will recall the story of Rosa Gigantea ‘Sir George Watt’, which ended on a note of hope that the rose might be grown successfully in Scotland. There was great despair at the lack of success of the various packages which had been sent from India at considerable cost by the ever-hopeful Girija Viraraghavan and her husband, Viru. In Scotland, Richard Baines at Logan Botanic Garden in the West of Dumfries and Galloway remained just as optimistic and willing to keep trying to achieve success. After two failed attempts Morag Williams perhaps planted the seed of an idea in Girija’s mind, which lay dormant because there did not seem to any possibility of its happening. She said that the main reason for the lack of success seemed to be the time taken by these tender cuttings to reach their destination in Scotland and receive attention. If only someone travelling from India to the UK could bring them by air it would improve the chances of success. Better still, if a rooted plant, instead of cuttings, could arrive by this means there would be greater hope of a successful outcome. Even so, such a move would provide another hurdle to overcome: a plant would require certification to travel. There follows in Girija’s own words the second instalment of the journeying of the Rosa Gigantea ‘Sir George Watt’ from India to Scotland, which first appeared in January 2011 in The Indian Rose Annual XXVII 2011. Girija has kindly given consent for publication in the Transactions.