In 1911 Cree’s Inn featured prominently in the Abernethy news, as recorded in the Perthshire Advertiser . Newcomers to the village may not know that this inn takes its name not from a native American tribe, but from the first owner, Thomas Cree. His death in the spring of 1911 prompted this article (PA 22/4/11) DEATH OF “OLD TOM” “Mr Thomas Cree, well-known not only locally but throughout central Scotland has passed to his rest. At the time of his death Mr Cree had the record of being the oldest licence-holder in Perthshire, if not in Scotland, and for the long period of 53 years he held the licence at Abernethy without a break. “Old Tom” had a big warm heart, and many a poor family in Abernethy will miss the kindly and generous bounty which he was always ready to put to the service of the needy. In the village life of Abernethy he was prominently identified, and at one time was elected a Bailie. A staunch Unionist in politics and a pillar of the “Auld Kirk”, the late Mr Cree was a local historian, and in his pawky way he could narrate many interesting stories concerning the district. A widow survives but no family.”
Towards the end of 1911 James Nugent applied for a transfer of the Cree’s Inn license, so that he could take over the business. This caused a division in Abernethy. One petition was raised in favour of granting the license, and another petition for its refusal. The petition against, signed by 41 persons, stated that the parish population had decreased by 25% in the last 40 years, but that the number of licenses had remained the same, and should be reduced. The following extracts from PA 1/11/1911 state the case for and against, and give us some interesting snippets of local history. “Amongst the signatures were the names of the Chairman of the Parish Council, senior and junior Bailie, members of the Town Council and School Board, the Established and United Free ministers, and other representative citizens. The petitioners were actuated by a desire to do what they could for what they considered to be the welfare and interest of the inhabitants. The population of Abernethy was 539, and there were five licenses, showing an average of 120 persons for each. The average in Perthshire for one license was 351, so that the needs of the locality were well supplied without granting the present application.” “Mr Hunter submitted that the petitioners against the license created an erroneous impression by going back for a period of forty years. Had they gone back for a period of ten years they would have seen that the population was not falling off, although he admitted that it was not on the upgrade. Abernethy, he said, was improving as a summer resort. A golf course had recently been formed and the inhabitants were laying themselves out to entertain visitors and he was informed that numbers during the past year had been obliged to leave the district, because of the fact that licenses could not be secured. Mr Hunter at this point presented a petition in favour of the continuance of the license. It bore the names of 196 people and the first signature was the Provost of the Burgh, a Bailie, chief heritors of the parish, justices of the peace and representative citizens. He submitted that his petition showed that the feeling in the parish was for the continuance of the license.” Mr Nugent was granted his license. “The Bench were of the opinion that they would not reduce drunkenness by reducing one public house.”
Tam Cree lies in Abernethy Churchyard in an unmarked grave, a stone’s throw from the inn which he established in early Victorian times. In the museum you can see one or two images of the portly publican. Also when the museum opens in mid May you can read many other Abernethy press extracts from 1911, a century ago.