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The History of Brechin to 1864
Chapter IX. The History of Brechin from 1800 TO 1838


We are now come to our own days, to a period when it would be indecorous to animadvert upon public men or the acts of any public body. The sequel of our history, therefore, must be confined to a narration of facts strung together, with little remark, in the order in which the events occurred.

In 1800, the customs of the burgh brought 71, 5s., and the dues of the weigh-house, &c., 31, 15s.—total, 103 sterling. They were let in 1837—the common customs for 111, and the weigh-house dues for 31,—total, 142. It was the practice at this period to sell the right of collecting the street dung, and this right, in 1800, brought 3, 0s. 6d. In this transaction the comfort of the inhabitants was but little consulted. The purchaser of the right claimed the privilege of allowing the inhabitants to puddle through as much mud as he chose to permit to accumulate, till it suited his convenience to collect it and cart it away. The Wash Mills for cleaning yarn were improved in 1800, and a new Wash Mill built; and the Bleachfield, with all the mills belonging to it, were then offered by public roup in set for seven years, and brought 95. The same premises further improved, together with the Meal Mills, which usually let for 26 or 28, were offered, in 1807, for a lease of twenty-five years, and then brought 181. The same subjects, with some further additions, partly made by the town, partly by the late tenants, were, in 1832, again offered by public roup for a nineteen years’ lease, and brought 331 per annum. This shows the propriety of giving a tenant such length of lease as may induce him to make improvements for his own profit, the benefit of which the landlord receives at the expiry of the tack. Prior to 1807, large sums had been expended at the end of every triennial or septennial lease on the improvement of the mills; and the frequent change of tenants led to so many repairs that it was often questioned if the tywn realised any profit from the mills and bleachfield.

Poverty pressed hard on the inhabitants at the commencement of the century; provisions were still very expensive, and the town council found it requisite to subscribe 50 to aid the most indigent. The guildry gave 20 for the same purpose, and the other incorporations assisted in the good work.

The Trinity Muir spring market was established by an act of council, dated 25th March 1801, passed in consequence of a representation made by the farmers and cattle-dealers in the neighbourhood, of the advantage that would arise from a cattle-market being held on the third Wednesday of April, yearly; and the market was accordingly held on the 15th April 1801, for the first time. This market has continued regularly ever since, and has proved of infinite advantage to all parties interested in the cattle trade.

In 1801, the school fees, on the representation of the schoolmasters, were increased, and fixed thus:—for teaching of ail branches of education, 5s. per quarter; for writing and arithmetic, 3s. 6<L, and for writing and teaching of English, or for teaching of English alone, 3s. per quarter. The charge of 3s. 6d. for “writing and arithmetic,’’ was construed, practically, to ' include “ teaching of English.” Books were always used at these public schools; but we were taught our letters, at a private school, from a broad, a board the size of an octavo page, having the alphabet pasted on it; the broad had a handle, and was similar to what is still used in England with the letters engraved on it, and is called a “ Horn Book." Our teacher wore a cocked hat, a three-storey-high wig, a waistcoat with large pockets, a coat with tails sweeping the ground, and buttons the size of a two shillings piece; knee breeches with buckles, and shoes with broad buckles on them, and carried a long cane. He was a strict disciplinarian; read a roll-call of the scholars at the hours of assembly each forenoon and afternoon; punished absentees when they did appear, and kept great decorum in his school, closing it each Saturday with a long prayer.

Volunteering was now the rage. In 1803, the “Brechin Volunteers," which afterwards became the “Local Militia" were embodied. The town council sij^scribed 21 towards the expense of their clothing, and because the bleachfield was used as a drill-ground, the tacksman of it was allowed 10 from the town for permission to soldier over it. The youths also imitated their seniors, and “playing soldiers” was quite the order of the day; and really some of these juvenile troops, with their drums and their fifes, their majors and their captains, were wonderful near approximations to the regular Volunteers. Dr Russel records the same thing as having occurred in America during the recent unfortunate civil war there.

The state of the cathedral kirk again claimed attention; the old fabric was found to be decayed; meetings were called, resolutions entered into, and, by general agreement, the aisles of the kirk were pulled down, leaving, however, the nave, to which new aisles and a new roof were added; and the whole, at considerable expense to the heritors, the town, the different incorporations, and the private seat-holders, was converted, in the years 1805-7, into a more modem but still inconvenient church. Gothic cathedrals never make good Presbyterian kirks; and the Brechin church is no exception to the rule. Previous to the rebuilding of the church it was customary for deaf people to sit in the baptismal seat adjoining the leiterin or precentors desk; and all the females who sat there then wore the Scotch plaid pinned under the chin, and gathered in a fold over their caps, secured with a pin or ornament on the forehead, —a becoming dress, very like the Spanish mantilla. Similar dresses were to be seen in different parts of the church. After the repairs on the church very few of the old ladies returned to the baptismal seat; and these few gradually died out; but a solitary plaid might have been seen in 1820. Red nightcaps were then occasionally worn by tradesmen at their work; we know now of only one solitary individual thus attired, and who made himself very conspicuous at the procession on the occasion of the Prince of Wales’s marriage, mounted on his charger and attired in his bonnet rouge, in the end of last century the miscalled emblem of liberty during the revolution in France. The broad blue bonnet was also a pretty common wear, and went out of fashion in like manner as the ladies’ plaids. Substantial farmers wore the bonnet, as did respectable tradesmen; but merchant burgesses used that uncomfortable headdress the hat, ever since we recollect The person who then officiated as precentor in the old church was a David Simpson, who, having held the office of deacon of the shoemakers, was generally known as Deacon Simpson. The line was then generally read, that is, the precentor or “letter gae,” read a line of the psalm, and sung this line in conjunction with the congregation, then read and sung a second line, and so on till the psalm to be sung was completed. Simpson had a stentorian voice, and when making a proclamation of banns caused the church to ring with the words, “There is a purpose of marriage between A and B; if any person has any objections let them give it in, in proper time, or for ever after hold their peace.” The deacon also disappeared with the auld kirk. In the old church, as now, each incorporation had a loft of its own, then however decorated in front with the arms of the trade and suitable pious inscriptions. The scholars also had a loft assigned to them; a small erection perched above that belonging to the town council, and where, as may be believed, when a number of young men were assembled together in a dingy place, anything but religious studies went on, even although the masters were present

The Common Den, to which we have adverted in a previous part of this work, was let, in 1805, for a rent of 19,10a upon a lease of three years, as a tentative measure of the right of the council to do so, but after some wrangling with the trades, the title of the council was acquiesced in. Upon the expiry of the first lease, the subjects were again let for another three years, at a rent of 21 per annum, to November 1811.

New office-houses were built jointly by the heritors and town council, for the accommodation of the second minister in 1807.

The ringing of the muckle bell was to us, as we doubt not it was to many of our readers, a source of considerable amusement in our boyish days. So much had the tolling of the bell become the province of the boys, that it was almost neglected by the beadles of the kirk; and the council, in 1809, authorised the magistrates “to engage a person for ringing the great bell in the steeple, regularly every day and night, at the following hours, viz., at seven in the morning and eight at night in winter; and, during the spring, summer, and autumn at six o’clock in the morning and eight in the evening; and upon the Saturday of each week, also, at ten o’clock at night—being thrice that day; and to continue ringing said bell at the fore-said hours for the space of one quarter of an hour.” The person then engaged, James Craig, continued to ring the bell regularly as pointed out in this minute, till his death, about 1840, and the young folks still continued to get a swing in the tow at the last toll. We were very much struck, when going to satisfy ourselves in regard to the dates of the bells, in reference to the first edition of this little work, to observe that the younkers who crowded round the ringer, were the sons of those with whom we ourselves had been so often similarly engaged, and many of the fathers of whom lay in the graves around The steeples are the same, the bells are the same, the ringers are changed; one generation having succeeded another, as one crop follows another in succession. We find now, however, that the present official, Barney 0'Neill, does the whole work himself, and that there is no more tugging at the bell tows for the little lads.

The table of petty customs was regulated, of new, in 1809, . printed and published, and has been since acted upon, although abstruse enough in some points.

In the same year, 1809, on the death of Mr William Dovertie, who had supplanted the doctor of the Grammar School, Mr George Alexander was elected parochial schoolmaster, from which office he was worthily promoted to that of rector of the Grammar School in December 1833. He has now retired from scholastic duties, and enjoys from the council a well-merited pension, while an elegant portrait of the worthy gentleman, by Mr Colvin Smith, adorns the Mechanics’ Hall, and records the gratitude of his numerous pupils, at whose expense it was painted. In the same year, 1809, the house near the West Port, called Carcary’s House, was bought of Mr Lyall of Carcary, with the view of accommodating the schoolmasters and schoolmistresses with schools and dwelling-houses: but, although partially occupied by some of the teachers, as tenants, under the town council, it has never been found expedient to apply the property to the purpose for which it was ostensibly purchased. In 1811, it was proposed to erect new schools; and the year following a piece of ground, formerly occupied as a corn-yard and tannage, was purchased and converted into public schools. The expense was defrayed by subscriptions from the heritors, town council, and private individuals. The whole expense, as recorded in a minute of council of 28th May 1814, was 1216, 17s. 4d. For this sum a building containing three school-rooms was erected, plain, but neat, ornamented with a belfry on the top, containing a wooden bell, and embellished with a rather handsome clock-face below the belfry, the funds for purchasing a genuine bell and clock not having been procured; but the great improvement effected by this erection, was the removal of a nasty bam, a quantity of ill-built stacks, and a filthy tan-yard, at the principal entry to the town from the west, at the point where the Lower Wynd, now called Church Street, and St Mary’s Street meet, being the exact site which Lord Panmure chose for the handsome structure erected by him in 1838, to replace the schools and afford accommodation for a library and a mechanics’ institution.

Mr Dovertie, whose death we have just mentioned, dressed till the last of his days in knee-breeches with buckles, long coat with broad tails, and ties in his shoes, while he carried a cane about six feet long, grasped by his hand towards the top. A gentleman, a baker in town, and a member of the town council of this period, dressed in the same style, with the addition of a pigtail tie of his hair behind. Another party wore broad buckles in his shoes for twenty years after this. These signs of old fashions gradually died out, as did the custom amongst gentlemen of wearing hair-powder, which was practised by a few down to 1820.

The habits of the people of this period were still very hospitable—too hospitable. A laird in the vicinity, recommending a gentleman for a public office, described him as “an honest man and a fair drinker.” But the “full flowing bowl” gradually gave place to the tumbler and glass; in place of every man being obliged to empty his glass in due course, and send it in to have it refilled with the rest at the bowl—the weak with the strong—each man brewed his own tumbler and filled his own glass, and drank according to his ability for potations. The drinking habits of the present day are bad enough, but they are nothing to what they were within our recollection and our own experience; and, indeed, they appear to have gradually gone down from one class to another, till now the custom of drinking to excess seems to be limited to the very lowest class of society.

A juvenile society was instituted in 1811 amongst the young men of literary pursuits, and existed for several years, the members devoting an hour very early each morning, during summer, for discussing literary subjects. The ages of the members of this juvenile assemblage ranged from twelve to fourteen. This club merged into a debating society when the members attained a few more years and a little more experience. Similar debating societies have since, from time to time, been called into existence in the burgh; ceased, and been again renewed.

In 1812, the council passed an act regulating the mode of warning out tenants within the burgh, by which, at an expense of Is. 9d., this necessary form is put through. In place of a penny above a pound Scots, the same process costs nearly a pound sterling without the burgh. In the same year, the town purchased an acre of land from Mr John Gray, part of which has since been added to the Den at the north end, having indeed been bought at the time for this purpose, with the view of the Den being converted into nursery ground. Accordingly, on 11th May 1812, the Common Den was let by public roup to Mr John Henderson, for the purpose of being converted into a nursery, the rent being 21 per annum for the first ten years; 25 for the next seven years; and 30 for other seven years, the tack running for twenty-four years. At the expiry of his lease Mr Henderson retook the property, jointly with his sons, for twenty-seven years, at a yearly rent of 61. Hence the town now derives a large revenue from a piece of ground which was previously all bat useless. This year, 1812, was a hard season upon the poor in the burgh, and the council united with the heritors in raising a subscription for the aid of the poor in the parish. It was in this same year that Provost Thomas Molison, piqued by the inattention of the then member of Parliament for this district of burghs, who considered the whole as pocket, burghs which he could twist as he pleased, and who therefore did not deem it necessary even to call on the council, far less on the community of the burgh,— it was in this year that Provost Molison, when called on as a delegate from Brechin for his vote, declared that he voted for himself, and thus gave rise to an opposition, and to the introduction of a Liberal instead of a Conservative member of Parliament.

The landed proprietors and farmers in the eastern district of Angus formed themselves into an agricultural association in 1814. The society still continues, and has done much to improve the breed of cattle and the implements of husbandry in the district. It has two meetings annually, and reckons Brechin as its head-quarters, although cattle shows are held in different parts of the county for the accommodation of the farmers.

In 1816, the council agreed to allow the master of the parish school 13 to assist in paying an assistant. This vote was renewed from year to year till 1821, when 500 were raised by subscription, and vested in the hands of the town council to pay an assistant or third teacher; and when the schools were divided in 1834, this annuity of 25 was assigned to the burgh schoolmaster. Of the money thus raised, by far the largest part was contributed by the town council

There is a long entry in the council book of April 1816, approving of the table of customs then fixed for the Montrose harbour; and in November of the same year the council added to their own customs by rouping, for the first time, the use of a weighing machine then erected, and which brought, as rent for one year, 4, 4s. The same machine brought in 1837 the rent of 6, 6s.

The year 1817 commences, in the' records of council, with a minute characteristic of the then state of the timea An address is voted to the Prince Regent, afterwards George IV., upon his escape from the late daring attempt upon his person in returning from the House of Peers and a committee of council is named to meet with a committee of the inhabitants, petitioning for retrenchment and reform in the administration of public affairs.

In 1816 and 1817, the weavers were very much distressed for want of work in Brechin; to alleviate which, in part, the town council employed a number of people to trench the ground, formerly under wood, now known as the town’s parks, and lying immediately south of Murlingden. From the same generous motive, Lord Panmure caused the ground at the Haughmuir, then known as the Haughmuir Wood, to be trenched, and gave a preference in his employment to the inhabitants of Brechin; and the ground thus trenched is now occupied as a farm by Mr George Henderson.

In 1816 meal was dear, and a Meg Inglis, a fishwife in Montrose, gathering her sisterhood from Ferryden, took possession of that town and mobbed the farmers, crying for a reduction in the price of the staff of life. A Rob Ruxton, a tailor in Montrose, came to Brechin and paraded the streets, blowing a horn, and summoning the Brechiners to the aid of the Montrosians; and although we believe no Brechin man or woman responded to the summons, the poor silly man was tried for this overt act of treason and banished for seven years.

In May 1817, the right of pasturage of the grass on the Trinity Muir market-stance was let for the first time, and brought a rent of 15s. The same right was let in 1838 for 5. This year, 1817, the council were again obliged to extend their aid to the poor of the town, and to import and sell, at a reduced price, a quantity of barley for the use of the inhabitants of the burgh. Almost every two or three years since, some public subscription or other has been raised for the poor, at times wholly by the laity, and unconnected with the Kirk or State, at other times by the heritors and council in aid of the kirk-session funds.

Burgh and Parliamentary reform began now to be seriously discussed. The guildry, in October 1817, petitioned to have the right of electing their dean, who should be received, ex officio, as a member of council; and, in December, the trades, in like manner, applied to the council to have the liberty of electing the sccond trades' councillor, they having the right at that time to choose the convener, who, by the sett of the burgh, formed one of the 13 members of council, consisting of 11 guildrymen and 2 tradesmen. The council pronounced a legal-like decision on these petitions, declaring that they had no power to alter the existing sett of the burgh. This did not give satisfaction. At the booking of the dean, named by the council in 1817, the guildry went into open rebellion; and, at the next election of magistrates in September 1818, protests were entered against the selection of councillors and office-bearers. A process of reduction followed in the Court of Session. The deacons of the trades, the prosecutors, lost heart, and proposed to withdraw the action upon each party paying their own costs. The town council refused this offer; the war was renewed; a new election came round in 1819; new protests were entered; new proposals of compromise were made; parties became more moderate; the action was withdrawn; and the council, guildry, and trades, all applied to the Convention of Royal Burghs in 1820 so far to modify the sett of this burgh as to allow the dean, chosen by the guildry incorporation, to be received by the council as dean of guild and member of council, and to give to the trades the right of electing the convener and trades’ councillor, who were to be received in council as the trades’ members accordingly. The Convention agreed to the request; and the sett, as thus altered, remained the constitution of the burgh till 1832, when the Burgh Reform Act put all incorporations on their beam-ends, and vested the right of electing councillors in the householders possessing property of the value of 10 per annum.

In 1818, the trades made a long act, ordaining that the deacons who had a vote in the election of magistrates, although in no other act of the council, and the deacon convener, who was ex officio a member of council, should consult the trades before voting on the leete of magistrates proposed by the council for their consideration, and that signed lists should be tendered by the deacons to their constituents. In 1819, says the trades’ record, “ it having been resolved that the deacon convener and deacons should not vote in the election of magistrates this year, no signed lists were made out" In 1820, “ they dispensed with the signed lists for this year only,” and no more is heard of the matter.

When the right to elect a trades’ councillor was obtained by the six incorporations, however, they adopted a set of very judicious regulations or by-laws for the regulation of the election.

The agitation of these questions led one of the unincorporated trades, the wrights, to endeavour to shake off the burden imposed upon them of furnishing a quota of men to attend the chartered markets as a guard to the magistrates; but, after a process on the subject, the wrights were found to be liable with the other trades in this service.

A new market, or “Tryst,” as it is called, was established by the council in August 1819, and appointed to be held on the Trinity Muir market-stance upon the Tuesday preceding the last Wednesday of September yearly. This market was appointed at the request of the farmers in the neighbourhood, and has, we believe, been found fully to answer the expectations of those who petitioned for its establishment, and for whose encouragement the market was exempted from all custom for three years.

The road up the Path was widened and the steepness greatly removed in 1818 and 1822, at no little expense, but certainly much to the advantage of those having to carry heavy weights by that road. A railway, too, was planned between Brechin and Montrose in 1818; but, after much canvassing, was dropped, as not likely to yield proper returns, because a short line of that description is nearly as expensive in working as one of thrice the length.

The town-officers had been long in the practice, on the first Monday of the year, agreeable to the old style, or Handsel Monday, as it was called, of waiting upon all the inhabitants of any means and wishing them a good new year, expecting a douceur in return. The practice was found to lead to partialities by these officials in the discharge of their duties, and was abolished in 1819, when each of the officers was allowed 30a in lieu of those “handsel feea”

The two small bells belonging to the kirk were so damaged by tolling, the one on the occasion of the death of Queen Charlotte, consort of George III., and the other on the occasion of the interment of an old lady belonging to the town, that the council were obliged to have them both recast in 1820, and since then the practice of tolling the bells at private funerals has been discontinued, although, when royalty is laid in the dust, the bells are yet tolled under the direction of the regular bell-ringer.

In February 1821 the council appointed sworn valuators, to appraise the properties held in feu of them, when these subjects should be in non-entry, upon which occasion the council stated it as their unanimous opinion, “that a composition of two third parts of the rents, payable to the vassals, should be demanded and paid to the superiors, that is, of the yearly rent where the houses or tenements are new and in good repair, but a smaller proportion if the houses are old and in bad repair; but, in all cases, a full year’s rent of the vassal’s land, which is cropped, ought to be demanded/’ This rule has been acted upon ever since, but the council are not rigid over-lords.

George IV. visited Scotland in 1822, when the council of Brechin, following the example of other burghs, voted him a loyal address; and further voted 10, 10s. of a subscription towards the bronze statue of that king which now stands in George’s Street, Edinburgh.

Mr John Wood, engineer, from Edinburgh, was, at this time, travelling Scotland, making plans of each burgh, and the town council of Brechin subscribed for ten copies of his plan of the town of Brechin. Mr Wood was successful in procuring other subscriptions, and the plan was accordingly completed and published in 1823.

On 6th March 1823 the heckle-houses at the Muckle Mill took fire, in consequence of an escape of gas, as was understood, from one of the pipes of the private gas work belonging to the mill. The whole range of these buildings, with the materials in them, were destroyed, although water was in abundance in the neighbourhood, and every exertion was made to save the premises. Luckily for the parties interested, an insurance had been effected, a few days before, with the Sun Fire Office, to almost the value of the buildings and flax thus destroyed.

A public Dispensary, for affording medicines to the poor of the place, was established in 1823, and was then so endowed from subscriptions and donations, that it was enabled to supply all demands upon it, with very few occasional calls on the richer members of the community. Somehow the Dispensary gradually fell into abeyance, but now there is a prospect of its resuscitation in connexion with an Infirmary.

A bridge at the Stannochy Ford, over the river South Esk, was begun in 1823, and towards the erection the council gave 42 from the corporation funds. The other expenses were defrayed by the heritors in the immediate neighbourhood. A grand procession of the magistrates, town council, and incorporations, along with the masonic bodies, was formed; and the foundation-stone was laid in great style, dinners of course following, and the health of the worthy builder, Mr William Smith of Montrose, being duly pledged

About this time died Cruizin, a well-known blind beggar, who had frequented Brechin and the surrounding country for fifty years, and amused old and young with his songs. “ His name web Jamie; but the rest, alas! Has vanished from my memory.-

"We'll gang nae mair a Cruizin',* was one song. But he had many, though from that there came The sound which most amused the listening throng, And hence the title Ckuizin grew a name."

So sung Mr James Bowick, editor of the Montrose Review, when announcing in that paper the death of Cruizin. The poet himself, alas! is since numbered with the dead,—a worthy, simple-minded, good man he was.

A railway along Strathmore was projected in 1825, and the council of Brechin subscribed 10,10s. towards the expense of the survey from Brechin to Forfar. The project went no further than a plan, but has been again and again renewed, and must be perfected at some future period from Laurencekirk by Brechin to Forfar, as the scheme is easily practicable and certain to pay.

An unfortunate fire happened this year in a stable belonging to a publican, who had converted part of the old Maisondieu Chapel into a receptacle for carriers’ horses. It was supposed that one of the carriers had carelessly snuffed a candle, and thrown the snuff unextinguished amongst the wet straw; so it was that the straw was consumed, and, though no flame was observed, such a smoke arose that all the horses were destroyed.

The misfortune was discovered by the stamping of the horses, and when the stable-door was opened one of the animals burst from its stall, rushed to the door, turned suddenly round, leaped a paling of some eight feet high, and fell dead. Others expired in their stalls. Two or three lingered for days unable to eat or drink. Eight or ten very valuable horses were thus destroyed. Two gray horses, of great size and strength, and of very considerable sagacity, survived longest. It was really melancholy to see the sufferings of these poor brutes, and no less melancholy to observe the distress of their driver, who spoke of them as friends, and bestowed as much attention upon them as he could have done upon his own family. The poor horses seemed really sensible of, and grateful for, their driver's kindness.

The East Back Vennel was widened and its steepness lessened in 1827, and it was then dignified with the title of “ City Road.” The Latch Road, formerly a mere swamp, was made out the same season, and has since given an opportunity for building a number of neat villas in that part of the town. An arrangement was also this year made with David Blair, Esq. of Cookston, in regard to the Dove Wells, by which the rights of the town and of Mr Blair were distinctly defined in a decree-arbitral, pronounced by Andrew Robertson, Esq., Sheriff-substitute of Forfarshire; and in consequence of which arrangement, and the improvements made in virtue of it, the town was well supplied with water, till the increasing population lately demanded an addition. In the December of this year also the council renewed an old act, by which any party proposing to build within the burgh is obliged to call the dean of guild, with one of the bailies, to the spot, and to satisfy them and his neighbours regarding his plans. This mode of proceeding has been found highly advantageous for the public, and greatly destructive of litigation; for where disputes do exist, as they will exist, regarding petty marches, the parties interested being confronted before judges, anxious to bring them to an agreement, do almost always make arrangements, frequently for the advantage of both, and which arrangements would not have been thought of had each stood on his right, and gone to law to ascertain who was wrong. The proceedings are conducted by printed formal papers, which terminate in what is called a building warrant, and the whole expense varies from 2s. 6d. to 5s. It is but bare justice to the legal gentlemen to say that they have done everything in their power to make this summary court, so prejudicial to their interests, work to advantage, and it does accordingly work well for the public.

The lands called the Crofts of Brechin, were bought by the council in 1828. These lands had belonged to a Mr M'Grregor, servant to the Duchess of Perth, who went abroad with his mistress in 1747, after the fall of Prince Charles’s party, to which she was devoted; and, in the absence of the proprietor, the titles had got into confusion in consequence of heritable securities granted by him, very likely with the view of avoiding a forfeiture of the ground, to which he had rendered himself liable by his connexion with the Stuarts. All matters were, however, cleared up, and the council became absolute proprietors of a piece of ground upon which they had long exercised the right of holding a market. Being vested with the absolute right, the council enclosed the ground and changed the site of the weekly cattle-market, held each Tuesday during winter, from the Crofts to the Timber Market, alike to the advantage of the proprietors of the Timber Market, now Market Street, as to the comfort of the farmers, who, in the Croft Market, were often wading ankle-deep among mud. Since then Clerk Street has been widened, Panmure Street made, and the long street called Southesk Street has been formed mainly from the Crofts lands, as noticed afterwards.

Another change, by a different body, but one no less an improvement, was made this year. On 25th September 1828, the six trades entered this act in their minute-book: “Which day, the deacon convener, deacons and trades councillor, and whole trades having met, and deliberately considered the serious inconveniences resulting to the trades from the practice of meeting in the churchyard for the purpose of their annual elections, both from the inclemency of the weather and the disturbance and annoyance of the multitude, as well as considering the impropriety, if not indecency, of assembling multitudes and transacting their business over the graves of their ancestors and of their friends and families, have unanimously resolved, enacted, statuted, and ordained, that, in future, the whole trades shall assemble in their ordinary place of meeting for the purpose of electing the deacon convener, trades councillor, their respective deacons, and other office-bearers; and appoint this regulation and minute to be engrossed in the record of the respective incorporations/' In consequence of this enactment, the subsequent elections of the trades have been held in the Mason Lodge, which they selected as “ their ordinary place of meeting.” We recollect enjoying a very hearty laugh at the last election which took place in the burying-ground, although certainly the place forbade such demonstrations. On the occasion alluded to, we had wandered into the kirkyard to notice the excitement created by the elections; and, observing three individuals seated demurely on a burial-stone, we approached them just as the clock struck eleven, and just as the three individuals started up into active life. One produced a paper, and read, “ The T. trade have leeted A. and B. for deacons—any objections to that leet?” said the reader, Deacon C. “None,” replied A.; “ None," replied B.—“ For whom do you vote, Deacon A. ?" said C. “ For myself,” rejoined A.—“ For whom do you vote, Deacon B. ?" “ For A.,” replied he.—“ And I vote for A.,” added C., “ and that settles that election.” He read again from his paper, “ The T. trade have leeted C. and B. for treasurer— any objections to the leet?” None were offered. “ For whom do you vote, Deacon A.?” <c For B.,” was the answer.—“ For whom do you vote, Deacon B. ?” “ For myself,” was the reply. —11 And I vote for B.” said Deacon C., “ and that closes the election.” These three worthies were the whole members of the trade who had a right to vote, or, at least, who chose to exercise the right of voting at elections; and accordingly they handed the two offices about amongst themselves quite in an agreeable manner.

This year died Alexander Malcolm, one of the public characters of Brechin. For more than half a century Sandy had picked up a living by “ gatherin' bawbees for himsel,” as he phrased it; and on each public occasion, be it sorrowing or rejoicing, wedding or burial, Sandy bore an active part, although the king*s birthday, kept as it was in the days of George III. by a general saturnalia on 4th June, was the principal occasion through the year on which Sandy chose to disport. Mr Bowick, in his sketches of characters, describes “ Sandy Maukim” as

“Ane curious wight, of stature low,
Withouten trews to clothe his naked knee,
But clad in petticoat, that down did flow,
With fringes tattered to ane great degree.
No leathern slioon upon his feet had he,
But worsted huggars, which contrived to hide
His legs and feet."

Malcolm was a great wag, and fond of a glass, partly rogue, partly simpleton. He had the misfortune to break his leg one winter, being, as was alleged, much inebriated at the time. A pious clergyman in town called to pray with Sandy, and rated him soundly for his inebriety, to which the minister ascribed the misfortune of the broken leg. Sandy denied the charge, but the clergyman persisted in it; and Malcolm, hard pressed, burst out in a sly manner with, “How’s Mrs Burns’s leg?” The pastor’s most worthy lady had met with a similar accident, certainly not from the same cause, although Sandy insinuated as much, to get rid of the good man's further reproofs. Malcolm might be styled the King of the Beggars. Before the legal assessment for the poor was commenced in 1841, the administration of the funds provided for the purpose was in the hands of the kirk-session; but the regular recognised poor of the town paraded the burgh each Thursday forenoon, and stopped at every door where they expected and aumous when the charity was dealt out to them generally in the shape of a halfpenny to each. If the giver was not provided with coppers, then Sandy Maukim took charge of the coin given, and ruled and distributed, it was said, in a very imperious manner. This practice of public begging gave rise to the children's cry, now all but forgotten, “Fuirsdae's the puir’s dae; Fridae's the brides day; and Saturdae we get a' the play.* The same practice prevailed in other towns. Public begging was put down by the town council in February 1839, at the request of the aggregate committee of the heritors, kirk-session, and town council, then in management of the funds raised, partly by voluntary subscription, for the maintenance of the poor of the parish.

A printing-office was, for the first time, established in Brechin in 1829. Our first edition issued from the Brechin press, and displayed a fair specimen of typography. The principal employment of the Brechin printers was the printing of handbills, circulars, and the like. The press was found to be a great convenience to the inhabitants, who were formerly obliged to go to Montrose or Forfar for anything which they required in the printing line. Now there are two printing establishments in Brechin, at one of which The Brechin Advertiser, a weekly journal published each Tuesday, is printed.

Most of the rivers in Scotland were greatly flooded in August 1829. The South Esk rose far above its banks, covered the greater part of the Inch, and put the inhabitants of the Lower Tenements, now termed, appropriately enough, River Street, in a state of blockade, the whole road from the Ford-mouth down to the bridge being under water, in some places to the depth of two or three feet \ but no serious damage was done, and indeed the people on the banks of the South Esk had to congratulate themselves that few who lived near rivers escaped so easily.

The death of George IV. and accession of William IV. led to a new election of Parliament in 1830, and an entry in the council books of the time is strongly characteristic of the excitement then prevailing. This entry bears that letters were laid on the table from Mr Joseph Hume, the then late member for this district of burghs, soliciting to be re-elected; “also a letter of 3d July, on the same subject, from the Honourable J. E. Kennedy Erskine of Dun; and a similar letter from Mr Lindsay of Edinburgh on behalf of Captain Ross of Rossie; and it was also stated that Sir James Carnegie, Bart, of Southesk, and Mr Smith, of the house of Messrs Smith, Payne, & Smiths of London, had applied verbally to the council” Mr Hume was returned to serve in that Parliament for Middlesex, and Sir James Carnegie was elected for this district after a keen and outrageous contest. Mr Ross succeeded Sir James in the next Parliament, and he again was succeeded by Mr Chalmers of Aldbar. On the occasion of the contest in 1830, the Brechin press, then recently established, was called into active duty, and there being no local newspaper till years afterwards, the candidates for Parliamentary and civic

honours generally applied to the printing-office for spreading, in the shape of placards or circular letters, either their own merits or the demerits of their rivals, and occasionally both. King William was proclaimed at the cross of Brechin by Andrew Robertson, Esq., then Sheriff-substitute of Forfarshire, on 3d July 1830, in presence of the magistrates, council, and community.

The butcher trade purchased up, in 1830, an immunity from the service of attending the magistrates to the fairs; and the craft having sold all their property, and divided their funds amongst the members, the butchers ceased to exist either as a corporation or society. Unfortunately almost all the other societies in the town, and indeed in Scotland, followed a similar course, and thus a source of support for the aged and sick was at once withdrawn, the effect of which has since been severely felt. Doubtless these friendly societies were founded upon erroneous data, but the regulations of most of them might have been altered, and the scales of contribution and disbursement adjusted so as to meet each other. The Government had passed acts for the improvement of these societies; the contributors became apprehensive that Government meant to take hold of their funds, and hence the almost universal breaking up which followed the act of Parliament. To add to the evil in Brechin, a Savings Bank, which had existed for many years, also began to fall into disrepute, and was finally dissolved about this time. However, under acts of Parliament for the encouragement of Savings Banks, a new agency was opened in 1847, as a branch of the Montrose Savings Bank, and was converted into a principal bank in 1852, and, as a principal bank, is in a very thriving condition. It is open every Tuesday evening in the parochial school-room, under charge of Mr David Prain, the parochial schoolmaster, and a committee of gentlemen as managers.

The council, in this year, 1830, for the first time, organised a set of special constables, a body which proved of considerable advantage in preserving the peace of the burgh, but which is now superseded by the regular police. About forty gentlemen were annually sworn in, who elected from among themselves a captain for the whole, with a lieutenant and ensign for each of the three districts into which the town was divided; the first, or north division, comprehending all to the north of the Upper West Wynd, (St David Street;) the third, or south division, comprehending all to the south of the South Port; and the second, or centre division, comprehending all that lay between the other two.

Cholera visited Brechin in 1831-32, and a board of health was formed in consequence, under sanction of a proclamation by his Majesty in council. The cases of actual cholera which occurred were few, not exceeding a dozen, but bowel complaints were very common at the time. It is, however, worthy of remark, that the general health of the community was not bad and that there were fewer deaths this winter than usual. It may be questionable how far a board, such as that alluded to, can prevent contagion ; but certainly this board did much in removing nuisances, and we must say that the burgh has been more cleanly since the alarm of cholera. In aid of the funds of the board of health a concert was given by a number of amateurs, followed by a ball, and the affair was a very successful one, although some severely censured piping and dancing at such a time. These concerts and balls for charitable purposes were pretty frequent for some seasons about these years, when amongst the gentlemen of the town there were many of good musical abilities. Subscription balls or assemblies amongst the ladies and gentlemen occurred every winter in those days, and were always well attended. May they soon be renewed!

Amongst the victims to the cholera were the wife and daughter of one of the Brechin characters, a poor but honest man, David Walker. This person, generally styled “Davidie Walker" was the regular, and for long the only carrier between Brechin and Arbroath. Davidie generally rode his cart, driving horses that seemed to have escaped from the tan-yard, purposely to keep him company, but animals which he was wont to describe as “ fine norse, fine norse, fit for a caravan." The distance travelled was about twelve miles; and David, steady in all his movements, seldom occupied more than six or seven hours in travelling the road. Well, one fine frosty evening, David left Arbroath in the pale moonshine, about his usual hour, six o’clock, and progressed his way to Brechin with his load, drawn tandem fashion; and to beguile the way David had one outside passenger, a sprig of womankind, seated on the top of his vehicle, while his faithful cur walked by the side of the cart. Matters went on swingingly, certainly not smoothly, till about mid-way, when poor David’s cart stuck fast in the mud. The cattle were whipped, the shoulder was applied to the vehicle, but all in vain, move it would not. David, however, was fertile in devices; he loosed the tracer, leaped on its back, left the cart and wheel-horse in charge of his dog, and desiring the woman to sit still went off, giving her this assurance, “ There's help at hand, help at hand." The poor woman sat till benumbed by cold, when she thought of leaving the top of the cart to take a little exercise. Then she, for the first time, discovered that truly Help was at hand; for David's dog, faithful to its charge, would allow nothing to leave the cart, and the poor female was compelled by Help (the dog) to keep her seat on the top of the cart for six hours, starving of hunger, and almost frozen to an icicle, till David arrived from Brechin with a third horse to pull her out of the mire.

The mode of conveyance between Brechin and Forfar at this time was not much more expeditious. It consisted of an omnibus drawn by a pair of horses, which poor animals, with the exchange with a third horse at Finhaven, did the journey of twenty-six miles, out and in, each working day. The expedition with which the vehicle travelled may be illustrated by the fact, that two young Edinburgh boys left our house one morning, under charge of the driver* to proceed to Forfar; but when the driver opened the door in the end of the omnibus at Forfar to let out his passengers, no boys were to be found there,—the truth being that the youngsters, noticing the slow mode of conveyance, had, without the driver’s knowledge, repeatedly left the coach, and played their ball along the road, resuming their seats when tired with walking; but the driver, as he neared Forfar, having gone off at a more rapid rate, the young men were left behind, and unable to overtake the omnibus till it reached Forfar.

The alarm of the cholera, it was thought by some, presented an opportunity for establishing a temperance society, an institution which, notwithstanding the many good effects it was calculated to promote, scarce outlived the year 1832, in which it had its rise. A similar society has since been renewed, and now reckons a respectable number of members.

A new road, direct between Dundee and Brechin by the Stannachy Bridge, through the parish of Aberlemno, and by the village of Letham to the old road at Luckyslap, was planned in 1832, and partly executed in that and the following year. The town council of Brechin subscribed 200 to assist the undertaking, but it has been of little, if any, advantage to the burgh.

On 21st August 1832, the first list of persons claiming right to choose a member of Parliament, as proprietors or occupants of subjects of the value of 10, was made up under the act then recently passed. The total number of persons who so claimed was 237, of whom 9 were found disqualified, either from errors in their claims or other causes, thus leaving a constituency of 228, in place of the 13 members of council who formerly possessed this right. Of these parties only 38 now survive.

The Honourable William Maule of Panmure, then member of Parliament for the county, was, in 1832, called to the house of peers by the title of Lord Panmure, and in honour of the event a dinner was given in the Town Hall, on Tuesday 20th September, “ to drink (as a handbill in our possession states) farewell to the Hon. William Maule, and many happy days to Baron Panmure of Brechin and Navar." The provost presided, the bailies were croupiers, the town-clerk was treasurer; and the affair, a truly corporate one, passed off in great style,—for Mr Maule was loved by rich and poor.

The death of the rector of the grammar school, Mr Linton, who had been teacher in Brechin for half a century, gave an opportunity, in 1832-33, of new modelling the schools; and after a great deal of consultation, and no little bickering, it was arranged that there should be three teachers, a rector to teach the languages and higher branches of education, a parochial schoolmaster to teach English reading, writing, and arithmetic, the branches naturally expected to be taught in a parish school; and a burgh schoolmaster who should teach the same branches; as the population of the town and parish seemed to afford ample field for two teachers of these, the really necessary branches of education. The schools have been thus regulated mostly ever since, changes attempted in the arrangement not having been found to work well; but a new arrangement has recently been made, by constituting the burgh school into a junior school. In a place the size of Brechin, there is not room for minute subdivisions of the labour of teaching, nor is there wealth sufficient for the increase of fees to which sub-division necessarily leada The patrons were lucky in selecting teachers for the schools of Brechin, which, no doubt, contributed considerably to the well working of the system of teaching adopted. The rector, by an arrangement with the town council, had a salary of fifty guineas in lieu of the rents, casualties, &c., arising from the preceptory of Maisondieu and the rectory. The burgh schoolmaster had 30 from the town. The parochial schoolmaster again was allowed 34 by the heritors, and 10 by the town, raising his salary to 44, which has since, very properly, been increased to the maximum salary of 70 from the heritors, besides the 10 from the town council. The fees as then fixed were very moderate. In the rectors department, the quarterly payments were—French, 3s.; Latin, 4s.; Latin and French, 4s. 6<L; Greek, 5s.; Latin and Greek, 5s.; geography, 2s. 6d.; French and geography, 4s.; Latin and geography, 5s.; Euclid, 5s.; Euclid and Latin, 5s.; other branches, including combinations of the above, 6s. 6d. During winter, each pupil in the rector's class paid the master Is. for coal-money, but no other fees or gratuities were payable. In the other two schools the fees were—reading, 2s. 6d.; writing, 2s. 6d.; reading and writing, 3s. 6d.; arithmetic, with or without reading and writing, 4s. 6cL; book-keeping and practical mathematics, 5s. But there was another class of scholars belonging to the burgh and parish school who were taught for even less fees. These were the partial or half-day scholars, those who were pupils at other schools, for whom there was provided this scale of fees—reading, la 6d.; writing, la 6d.; arithmetic, 2s.; reading and writing, 2a; practical mathematics, 2a; reading, writing, and arithmetic, 2a 6d. This class of scholars, however, was soon found not to answer, and the regulation regarding them fell early into abeyance. English grammar, recitation, and history, imposed an additional 6d. per quarter on all classes of pupils. During winter, the half-day scholars paid 6d. each, and the whole-day scholars Is. each, to provide fuel for the burgh and parish schools. No other fees or gratuities of any description were payable in these departments.

In 1833 the council bought the ground adjoining the Crofts formerly belonging to Mr Robertson of Bangaton. In consequence of this and of the previous purchase of the Crofts, the council were, in 1837, enabled to open two new streets, Panmure Street, running west from Swan Street and Clerk Street; and Southesk Street, communicating with Panmure Street, and running south from Clerk Street, at the top of the Den, down by a beautiful sweep to the Montrose road at the Cadgerhillock. By means of these new streets, a road of easy ascent to the top of the town, long a desideratum, was secured. The ground along the north side of Panmure Street, the west side of Southesk Street, from Panmure Street upwards, and on the east side of Clerk Street, was sold off by the council for building stances, at such a rate as fully to indemnify the community for all the money they had disbursed in the purchase of the property. Panmure Street and Southesk Street were so styled out of respect to the two principal proprietors in the parish. Scales Lane, which leads out of Panmure Street, was so named in commemoration of a person to whom the Crofts had at one time belonged, and by whose surname they were distinguished in the title-deeds of the adjoining properties as “ Scales’ Acre.” Mac-gregor Street, meant to connect Clerk Street with Southesk Street, and yet to be made, is to commemorate the last proprietors of the Crofts. Clerk Street obtained its name in 1829, when the town-clerk built the first house, greeted expressly for a dwelling-house in that part of the town.

A new washing-house, fitted up with fixed tubs, and supplied with hot and cold water, was erected at the Inch in 1833, and put under such regulations as to afford ample accommodation, at a very moderate rate, for the inhabitants. At first, the regular washerwomen were in arms against this innovation, but experience has convinced them that it adds much to their comfort and convenience, and now they are highly delighted with the ample accommodation which they enjoy for washing and drying clothes.

The resort of customers, too, has been such that the washing-house, although expensive in the erection, has, from the rent drawn, afforded a fair return to the town for the capital expended. In October 1837 it was let for 23, 5s. for the year following; in 1863 it brought 40. Attached to the washing-house are a couple of very nice bath-rooms, with hot and cold plunge-baths and a shower-bath in each, which may be had at a very cheap rate, but they are very little used by the public. Besides the Inch bleaching-green, which consists of about an acre of ground, there is a small bleaching-green at the North Port, well supplied with running water, and the use of which the inhabitants enjoy gratuitously.

In 1833 the council gave 50 to aid in repairing the road between Arbroath and Brechin. This road is still far from excellent, but it is passable, since improved at the expense of the adjoining heritors and of the burghs of Brechin and Arbroath, and it is good compared to what it was when our late friend “ Davidie Walker” travelled it; but it is little used by general travellers since the railway was opened.

It was in 1833 that the council first ventured to abridge any of their markets. Lammas Muir, as the market held in August is called, had, from the change in the mode of farming, dwindled to a petty fair; and, on 14th August 1833, a proclamation was published, recommending to dealers to bring forward their stock of sheep, horses, and black cattle (as the bovine race, whether white, yellow, or brown, are denominated) on the Thursday, in place of bringing the sheep on Wednesday, cows and oxen on Thursday, and horses on Friday, as formerly. The market has since been held on the second Thursday of August, yearly, and, although not a great fair, is now a respectable market.

On 5th November of this year, 1833, the first election took place under the Burgh-Reform Act, which vested the election of the council in the holders or occupiers of property of the yearly value of 10, and annulled the law which allowed the old council to elect the new. The council, when completed, stood thus: James Speid, provost; David Dakers and William Sharpe, bailies; Thomas Ogilvy, dean of guild; James Millar, treasurer; Robert Mackenzie, hospital master; Messrs David Guthrie, James Laing, William Shiress, David Lamb, Alexander Guthrie, David Craig, and Alexander Mather, councillors. Provost Speid and Messrs Sharpe, Ogilvy, Shiress, Lamb, Craig, and Alexander Guthrie still survive, the last being the present provost of the burgh, while Mr Craig holds the position of senior bailie.

It was on 11th September 1834 that the Right Honourable Henry Lord Brougham and Yaux visited Brechin, upon which occasion the greater part of the council, incorporations, and burgesses turned out in their best array to greet the Lord High Chancellor of England, and the freedom of the burgh was presented to that nobleman on a platform erected in the cathedral church, the ancient pile being crowded with the inhabitants of Brechin, and the multitudes assembled from the neighbouring towns and neighbouring country. On the early part of the same day a public meeting had been held, at which it was resolved to establish a joint-stock company for lighting up the town with gas. The gas-work has since proceeded successfully, and the streets, shops, public buildings, and most of the private houses are now lighted with gas. It may therefore be said that the two great lights of the age were made denizens of Brechin on the same dayI As a gentleman, whose wit was not very brilliant, used to say when he murdered a bon mot, “That's a pun.”

A Mechanics’ Institution was established in Brechin on 25th July 1835, and, under the patronage which Lord Panmure extended to it, by erecting a hall and library for the accommodation of the members, and giving and leaving endowments for it, surely it will flourish.

The proposal for a railway between Brechin and Montrose was revived in 1835, but, after a plan and report, it was again found that the concern would not pay. The town council voted 50 for the plans obtained, and it is but proper to say that the engineers employed, Messrs Grainger and Miller, did every justice to the measure. The accommodation since afforded between the two towns by the Aberdeen Railway Company is not of the best; but we suspect the community of Brechin must just put up with this railway, tortuous as it is.

In 1836-37, an infant school was erected on a piece of ground lying between the Path Wynd and the Cadger Wynd, now called Bridge Street and Union Street, a very suitable situation for such an establishment. The house, grounds, and premises are commodious, and the directors having been fortunate in their selection of teachers, may safely congratulate themselves on doing much for the moral and religious habits of the rising generation, and for the promotion of a taste for cleanliness and order amongst the poorer ranks, still a great desideratum in Scotland. The funds of the institution are not adequate to the demands upon it, but hitherto the school has been supported by annual subscriptions from the wealthier classes in the burgh and surrounding country, liberal to a wish in most cases, although it is much to be wished that a permanent endowment could be got for the school.

In 1836, the Lower Wynd, or Church Street, was levelled and macadamised, and the High Street, from the Bishop’s Close to the South Port, was improved in the same manner, a very considerable hollow being filled up opposite the Mill Stairs, which reduced the sudden steepness of the street by many feet. But Brechin is built on a hill, and notwithstanding all the improvements on the streets—and they have been many of late years—it is, and must be always, a heavy pull from the lower to the higher part of the town.

A long contemplated sale of a piece of ground at the Trinity Muir market-stance, and skirting the toll road, was carried into effect in 1836. The purchasers have since named the place Trinity Village, and built several neat houses there. The council had previously cut the wood growing on an isolated portion of muir at Little Brechin, and they disposed of the ground, by public roup, on the day of the sale of the lots at Trinity Village. Both sales brought good prices, and left the council and community no room to regret that they had made a number of new lairds and voters in the county.

The jail had been constantly receiving improvements. In 1836-37 it was thoroughly repaired, cleaned and altered, having then, in our opinion, received as many improvements as its situation rendered it susceptible of, but remaining a very secondary jail, which is now converted into a very secondary police office. The town-hall, too, was repainted, lighted up with gas, and otherwise improved this season. In short, improvement, in its march, had reached Brechin, and its inhabitants progressed with the tide and the times.

In 1837, a bill was brought into Parliament to enable the sheriffs to hold courts in each town in their shires for the disposal of small-debt cases. The bill proposed to give only four courts yearly to Brechin; but, on the application of the council, backed by their indefatigable representative, Mr Chalmers, six courts were appointed to be held annually at Brechin. On Tuesday, 16th January 1838, the sheriff opened his first small-debt court in Brechin, when, out of the nine parishes attached to the Brechin district, only four cases were brought before the judge. Since then the importance of the court has been fully recognised by the country, and now the cases which are disposed of bimonthly are pretty numerous.

The official intimation of the demise of William IV. reached Brechin about two o’clock of 24th June 1837; the town council were immediately assembled; and, in two hours afterwards, Victoria was proclaimed Queen of Great Britain and Ireland at the Market Cross of Brechin.

In the course of making some excavation at the East Mill brae, in 1837, several graves containing beads of a round black substance were discovered. The bodies were found interred after the manner of the ancient Britons, doubled up in kistaveens or cists, composed of undressed stones placed upright on their edges, and covered with thin slabs. The spot where the bodies were found had a southern exposure, and lay close upon the banks of the Esk, within a mile of the Cross of Brechin, at the place called the Middle Den of Leuchland. Similar cists have since been found in different places in and around Brechin, all having a similar exposure.

An act was obtained on 3d July 1837 for improving the harbour of Montrose, in virtue of which the town council of Brechin was authorised to appoint four trustees to attend, jointly with others named by the county and the burgh of Montrose, to the interests of that port. Under this authority the town council of Brechin, on 7th August 1837, named Messrs David Guthrie, David Lamb, James Hood, and Thomas Ogilvy, merchants in Brechin, as trustees from Brechin; and since then an annual election of Montrose harbour trustees has always been made.

The town council, shortly after the passing of the Municipal Reform Act, agreed to meet statedly on the first Monday of each month; but this having been found a rather inconvenient day, it was agreed, on 1st January 1838, that in future the council should meet on the second Monday of each month at six o’clock evening. Besides these stated meetings, the town council meet, on other occasions, when business requires them, upon getting twenty-four hours’ notice.

The High Street, from the Prentice-Neuk to the Lower West Wynd (Church Street), was levelled and macadamised during the spring of this year, and the Timber Market (Market Street) was similarly improved during the summer; so that the only street which remained within the burgh, paved with “whin bullets” was the Path Wynd (Bridge Street), and it was soon after subjected to the same process which the other streets had undergone; so that pitched or causewayed streets are now wholly unknown in Brechin, and there is no room at this time for the ancient boast of being able to keep the crown of the causey.

But the great event connected with Brechin during the year 1838, was the rebuilding of the public schools. The want of a proper lecture-room and library for the Mechanics’ Institution, and the demand for accommodation for the increasing number of pupils at the grammar school, parish school, and burgh school, had struck Lord Panmure, and his lordship most nobly proposed to erect at his own expense, on the site of the old schools, a handsome new building of two storeys, surmounted by a tower, and containing apartments to accommodate all these institutions. After no little consultation as to the plan of the building, and the individuals in whom the property ought to be vested, everything was finally arranged in the month of February 1838. The constitution is most liberal. The property is feudally vested in the town council of Brechin, to be held by them as trustees, under the direction of four managers, one to be named triennially by each of the patrons of the parish school, the patrons of the burgh school, the patrons of the grammar school, and the patrons of the Mechanics’ Institution. These patrons are again respectively declared to be, of the grammar-school, the magistrates and town council of Brechin; of the parish school, the heritors holding land rated at 100 Scots of valued rent, the minister of the parish, and the magistrates of Brechin; of the burgh school, the town council of Brechin; and of the Mechanics’ Institution, the life members, the provost and two bailies of Brechin, the dean and treasurer of the guildry incorporation, the deacon convener of the incorporated trades, the heritors who are patrons of the parish school, and the preses, treasurer, and secretary of the Mechanics’ Institution. It will be observed that Lord Panmure reserved no control over the erection; nay, when it was urged upon him, he positively refused to have a voice more than any other heritor. The coronation of Queen Victoria having been fixed for the 28th June 1838, it was resolved to make that day a gala day in Brechin, and then to lay the foundation stone of the public schools. This proposal, in parliamentary phrase, was carried nemine coniradicente. Every one set himself to work more anxiously than another to make a day of it A Fantoccini theatre, and having Marionettes or wooden figures, then in the Mason Lodge, was laid open at the expense of Lord Panmure, from nine o’clock morning to six o’clock afternoon, for the amusement of all the children attending all the schools, public and private, within the burgh. The amusement which was then seen in Brechin for the first time, was under the management of a Mr Stephen, whose sons still travel the country in the same line; but the theatre is better known by the name of “ Shuffle Katie,” from a popular dancing figure belonging to it. The Marionette figures gave great delight to the Brechin children on this happy day. Lord Panmure entertained all the tradesmen connected with the building of the schools, in Bruce's Crown Hotel. The incorporated trades had a dinner at their own cost in Walker's Cross Guns’ Tavern. A subscription dinner took place in M‘Bain’s Swan Inn. Several other similar convivial parties met in different parts of the town. Each burgess was furnished, from the burgh funds, with a ticket of the value of Is. 6d. The guildry made a like provision for their members. The widows and orphans of the different incorporations had a similar gift, while private charity provided a something for most of the poor who had no corporate claims. Lord Panmure and Mr Cruikshank of Stracathro were at the expense of a grand display of fireworks for the amusement of the public after nightfall. And, finally, a subscription ball took place in the Town Hall, and was kept up with great harmony to an early hour next morning. The procession, however, was the main point of the day. At eleven o’clock forenoon, exactly, the procession marched off in this order:—Three constables; Odd Fellows’ Society; Messrs Hebenton, Wilson, and Laing, private teachers, with their pupils, four abreast; three constables; trades-officer; six incorporated trades, three abreast; Brechin band of music; three constables; town-officers; pupils of the public schools, four abreast; town council, clergy, masters of public schools, and directors of Mechanics’ Institution, four and four; St James’s Lodge of Masons; Stephens’s band of music; guildry incorporation, burgesses, and handicraftsmen, all three abreast. The procession thus marshalled, proceeded from the Town Hall down the High Street, but scarce had they started when flashes of lightning were succeeded by violent peals of thunder and torrents of rain. Still, “ On " was the word, and although some anxious mothers took away their children, the great majority proceeded, along with the other members of the procession, down the Cadger Wynd, (Union Street,) up Southesk Street, and through Panmure Street, arches of flowers being raised over these new streets in honour of their being thus publicly opened; up Clerk Street went the procession, round the Distillery Lane, down the Timber Market, (Market Street,) round by Upper West Wynd, (St David Street,) and St Mary Street, to the schools. The rain, though violent, did not continue any length of time, and when the multitude reached the new building the day was fine. The bands of music, pupils of the public schools, town council, clergy, teachers of the public schools, directors of Mechanics' Institution and St James’s Lodge of masons, entered the square of the schools, where they were joined by Lady Panmure and a party from Brechin Castle. The masonic ceremony of laying the foundation stone was then gone through in capital style, the late Mr James Laing, surgeon, acting as master of St James's Lodge, and the Bev. Robert Inglis, then of Locblee, now of the Free Church in Edzell, officiating as chaplain. In a stone in the middle set of the base course of. the front of the building, and between the north-west abutment and north-west octagon turret of the tower, the stone being that adjoining the turret, was deposited a glass vase, containing the coins of the realm, an Angus Register, the newspapers of the day, a copy of the tables on weights and measures published by Mr William Shiress, writer in Brechin, a printed copy of the contract of the gas company, a list of the special constables of the burgh, the regulations and fees of the public schools, and a variety of other local publications, including a programme of the procession. The vase also contained the following inscription:—

This Building was Erected
For the accommodation of the
Teachers of the Youth of Brechin, and their Pupils,
By the Noble Munificence of The Right Honourable William,
Baron Panmure of Brechin and Navar.
1838.

John Hendereon, Architect:
Robert Millar, Mason:
Robert Memes, Carpenter:
Robert Welsh, Plasterer:
David Shiress, Slater:
John Wilson, Plumber.

The vase likewise contained another inscription, written in Latin, of which the following is a copy:—

Gulielmi
Panmurij Baronis, Brechinensis et Navarensis,
Liberalitate Munificentisaima,
Hoc iEdificiam,
In Usum Juventutis Brechinensis, Qui Literarum Studys Dent Operam, Necnon et Pneceptornm,
Conditum Est,
Anno Domini, MDCCCXXXVIII.

Joanne Henderson, Architecto:
Roberto Millar. Fabro Mura no:
Roberto Memes, Fabro Lignario :
Roberto Welsh, Caementario:
Davide Shiress, Scandulario:
Joanne Wilson, Plumbario.

The masonic ceremony was very imposing, and when the sweet infant voices of the pupils, aided by the deeper tones of some professional gentlemen, raised the Queen's Anthem, while the thunder rolled over the heads of the assembled multitude, the effect was really sublime. Many was the deep-drawn sigh which we heard, and not a few faces were bedewed with tears; the best feelings of the heart were awakened and thus found utterance. The ceremony being completed, three cheers were given in grateful acknowledgment of the obligation which the inhabitants of Brechin lay under to Lord Panmure for erecting the new seminaries. The procession afterwards moved by the Lower Wynd (Church Street) to the High Street, where the Queen’s Anthem, and other pieces of music, vocal and instrumental, were performed in honour of her Majesty Queen Victoria, and the whole assemblage then broke up, after giving three hearty huzzas for the then youthful queen.

Thus, from sunrise to sunrise, Thursday 28th June 1838, was one continued round of amusement to the old and the young, the rich and the poor of Brechin ; and we are truly happy to record that all these festivities went off without the slightest accident, and, as we believe, to the satisfaction of every person. This description may be tedious to the general reader, but we flatter ourselves that the account of this affair may be agreeable to many a gray head which joined in the procession when a youth.

With the account of the proceedings on this auspicious day we closed the continuous history of the important burgh of Brechin in our first edition.


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