Mrs Margaret Mitchell Gold: Cupar’s Fairy Godmother

speccoll
Friday 5 April 2019
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Bonnygate looking East, J Valentine & Sons, 1893 (JV-18490-B)

You may remember in my first blog about the Archives Revealed project Hidden Burgh: restoring Cupar’s place at the heart of Fife, I mentioned an intriguing document in the collection entitled “Mrs Gold’s Christmas Coals” and my desire to find out more about Mrs Gold. Well, this is a follow-up to that and I am delighted to say that with the help of the Cupar Town Council minutes, the Cupar Heritage Centre and the Local Studies section of Cupar Library I have been able to find out quite a lot about Mrs Gold.

Mrs Margaret Mitchell Gold was, indeed, a very well-known philanthropist in Cupar, as were other members of her family. Her brother was John Coutts Duffus who purchased Bonvil Park and mansion house and gave it to Cupar as a gift to the community in 1910 for furthering sport in the town.

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Duffus Park, J Valentine & Sons, 1958 (JV-D-3174)

John Duffus was given the Freedom of the Burgh of Cupar by the Provosts, Magistrates and Councillors in 1927 “in recognition of his munificence to his native Town”. Cupar Heritage Museum have the scroll and casket box presented to Mr Duffus at the time.

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Left: John C Duffus Freedom of Cupar Burgh Scroll, 30 June 1927. Right: John C Duffus Freedom of Cupar Burgh Casket containing the Scroll, 30 June 1927. Courtesy of Cupar Heritage Centre.

Mrs Gold followed in her brother’s footsteps in donations for Duffus Park. In 1947 she gave funds to form a bowling green. At their meeting on 9 January 1950, the Duffus Park Board of Management gratefully accepted a donation of £3,500 from Mrs Gold which was gifted “to enable a scheme for the improvement and extension of the Park to be carried out.” Provost Brown in his reply to Mrs Gold stated:

“This wonderful generosity of yours will enable the Board to provide first class facilities for Rugby, Association Football and Hockey with, I hope, provision for other forms of sport, and will make the Duffus Park probably the finest of its kind in Scotland.

The record of benefactions by the Duffus Family is an amazing one of which you must be very proud and proud are we – the Citizens of Cupar – to have a family so interested in our welfare.  I can only say ‘Thank you very much indeed’.

Extract from the Minutes of the Board of Management of the Duffus Park dated 9 January 1950 (Ref: B13/21/12)
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Extract from the Courier & Advertiser dated 29 December 1949. Courtesy of the Local Studies section, Cupar Library.
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Top: Pair of Scissors given to Mrs M M Gold on the occasion of the opening of the new improved playing fields at Duffus Park, 1 September 1951. Bottom: Inscription on scissors box given to Mrs M M Gold on the opening of the new improved playing fields at Duffus Park, 1 September 1951.  Images courtesy of Cupar Heritage Centre.

It was not only to Duffus Park that Mrs Gold donated funds. The newspaper card index in the Local Studies section at Cupar Library record several of her kind gifts. She was a benefactress of the Cupar Pipe Band but was unable to attend the ceremony showing their new uniforms. The Band subsequently visited her home so that she could inspect them.

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Extract from the Courier & Advertiser dated 25 May 1953. Courtesy of the Local Studies section, Cupar Library.

She was very generous indeed when it came to activities relating to Cupar, in fact the Courier & Advertiser described her as “Cupar’s fairy godmother” when she kindly stepped in and gave a £1,000 donation to assist towards providing a YMCA hall!

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Extract from the Courier & Advertiser dated 9 September 1963. Courtesy of the Local Studies section, Cupar Library.

Her philanthropic acts were noted and appreciated by the citizens and Town Council of Cupar, so much so that she (like her brother) was given the Freedom of the Burgh of Cupar on 2 August 1951. The Town Council recorded its decision to offer the Freedom of the Burgh to her at their meeting of 18 May 1951 stating that it was “in recognition of her munificence in providing a Bowling Green and also the funds for additional Playingfields . . .  at Duffus Park . . . and for her kindly interest in everything pertaining to the Welfare of the Burgh”.

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Extract from the Cupar Town Council minutes dated 18 May 1951 (B13/14/30, page 92).
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Extract from the Courier & Advertiser dated 19 May 1951 reporting that Mrs Gold was to become the “fifth freeman” of the Burgh of Cupar. Courtesy of the Local Studies section, Cupar Library.
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Extract from the Cupar Town Council minutes dated 13 June 1951 setting the date for the presentation (B13/14/30, page 94.
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Extract from the Cupar Town Council minutes dated 2 August 1951 recording the presentation of the Freedom of the Burgh to Mrs M M Gold (B13/14/30, page 105).

Mrs Gold died aged 101 years on 5 June 1967 and she was remembered in both the local press and the Cupar Town Council Minutes. The latter recorded that “the community had lost one of its foremost and best loved citizens”.

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Extract from the Cupar Town Council minutes dated 14 June 1967 noting Mrs Gold’s death (B13/14/34, page 475).
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Left: Extract from the Fife Herald dated 7 June 1967 reporting on Mrs Gold’s death. Right: Obituary for Mrs Margaret Mitchell Gold in the Courier & Advertiser dated 6 June 1967 entitled “Provost’s Tribute to Mrs Margaret Gold”. Images courtesy of the Local Studies section, Cupar Library.

Even in her death, Mrs Gold continued to bestow funds on the Cupar community. In addition to bequests to Duffus Park, the Bowling Club and Bonnygate Church, other benefactors were St Dunstan’s Home for the Service War Blinded, the Fife branch of the SSPCA, Cupar Hearts Football Club, Cupar Boys’ Brigade, Cupar Life Boys, Cupar Girl Guides and the Howe of Fife Rugby Club.

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Extract from the Fife News dated 17 June 1967 reporting on Mrs Gold’s bequests. Courtesy of the Local Studies section, Cupar Library.

My research on Mrs Gold has revealed what a kind person she was, someone who was truly interested in Cupar, its citizens and its welfare. One cannot help but warm towards her. It would have been a privilege to have met her in person.

Christine Wood
Project Archivist (Archives Revealed)

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