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The History of Brechin to 1864
Chapter X. The History of Brechin from 1888 To 1864 inclusive


We continue our brief chronicle from the day on which we originally closed our little work down to the time when we ceased to hold the position of clerk of the ancient city of Brechin, leaving it for a future town-clerk to revise more particularly the events of this century, and to continue the work to such date as he may find convenient—if, indeed, it shall ever be thought worth while to do so.

Church matters occupied much of the public attention during 1838. The heritors of the parish and the managers of the East Church had a litigation about the collections at the doors of that kirk, the heritors claiming, and ultimately obtaining, the right to a half as belonging to the poor’s funds. The first charge of the parish church being vacant, the crown, to the disappointment of some Brechin expectants, presented a Mr Norval to the charge. The gentleman certainly was an eloquent preacher, and delivered, for his trial discourses, three very, excellent sermons, and hence was generally popular. But it was discovered that the presentee’s sermons were all from the printed discourses of the Rev. Henry Melville, an English divine; proceedings against Mr Norval in the Church courts were the consequence; and Mr Norval, having been found wrong, left the Kirk of Scotland altogether and joined the English Episcopal Church. The Bev. James M'Cosh was then appointed to the charge, and this gentleman, now a doctor of divinity, at present fills the office of Professor of Logic in the College of Belfast, and is the author of many learned theological works. These disputes in the Churches were the cause of much acrimony in Brechin; and, indeed, Church affairs were at this period the cause of much contention throughout Scotland, which culminated in the disruption of 1843, and the establishment of that body of Christians which rejoices in the name of the Free Church of Scotland. A severe hurricane occurred on 11th October 1838, which did a great deal of damage in town and country; and, as the stormy Thursday, was contrasted by the old inhabitants with the windy Wednesday of some sixty years previously. Amongst other damage done, the top of the spire of the East Church, with its vane, was blown down. A similar accident from a similar cause, but not to so great an extent, occurred to the same steeple during a storm of wind in October 1840.

In February 1839 very important regulations were framed by the council authorising the introduction of the water from the public fountains into private dwelling-houses and working establishments, and appointing a master of the water works. The privilege thus given was largely taken advantage of, and the rates of charge then fixed still remain the rule of payment. Improvements on the streets were still carried on with energy at this time. A July fair was, at the instigation of the fanners and cattle-dealers, established in the Trinity Muir for nolt, horses, and sheep, and was opened in 1840 with games and rejoicings, but never seemed to take the public, and, after lingering on for some years, was extinguished by a small fair opened in Edzell which, too, barely exists. The celebrated Dr Chalmers, having visited Brechin in the June of this year, was entertained to a public dinner, at which clergy of various church politics assisted; and the council, on the motion of a gentleman, now a keen Voluntary, resolved unanimously to walk “in procession to the parish church to hear the address of Dr Chalmers on church extension/' A railway between Montrose and Brechin, and another between Brechin and Froickheim, in connexion with the Arbroath and Forfar Bailway, and a junction of both schemes, were projected and surveyed at this time, but were all ultimately abandoned; the prospect of the Aberdeen Railway being made having thrown the other schemes into the shade. A horticultural society, which has since existed under various fortunes, was established for the first time in Brechin in July 1839. The new schools were opened on Monday 9th September 1839.

The parish church was repaired internally, air stoves for heating the building were introduced, and the fabric was lighted up with gas during this year and the two following, the expense being defrayed by voluntary contributions from heritors and others interested in the church. The minister of the first charge having moved for a manse and glebe, considerable discussion arose amongst those interested, which led to the discovery that the manse, which it was understood had belonged to the Exchequer, and was leased from them, in reality belonged to the church in virtue of a Crown grant ratified in Parliament in 1641. A new manse and a glebe for the minister of the first charge have since been obtained, but not till considerable sums had been spent in litigation. Thus each of the two ministers of the parish church has now a manse and also a glebe. Agitation for the abolition of the Corn Laws and Radical Reform was prevalent at this time, and in March 1839 a handbill, headed “Female Radical Association,”was published at the request of upwards of fifty females” calling a public meeting of ladies “to consider the propriety of forming themselves into an Association to assist their nude brethren in forwarding the cause of universal libertyI" Another handbill of that period, published by the Working Men’s Radical Reform Association, calls for 14 Universal Suffrage, Annual Parliaments, Vote by Ballot, Equal Representation, No Property Qualification.” In aid of this Association a concert, combined with speeches, was held on 30th December 1839.

The jail was finally closed, so far as the jurisdiction of the magistrates was concerned, and given over to the county board in 1840, when the jail assessment, a new tax on property, was imposed and levied; but tramps and vagabond wanderers continued to be an annoyance in town and country, which demanded additional police force. A melancholy accident happened in November of this year to Charles Hendry, weaver in St Mary Street and his daughter. It was supposed the girl had incautiously left the water department of the gas meter open, and that the gas escaping through the water when additional pressure came on after the most of the lights in the town were extinguished, and after the parties had gone to bed, had gradually filled the house from the roof, till it came to the level of the sleepers and overpowered them. Neither Hendry nor his daughter having made their appearance at their usual time in the morning, the house was forced, when they were found lying insensible in their several beds. The bodies were immediately removed to the open air, and medical aid obtained, but the girl died within a couple of hours, and Hendry only existed in an unconscious state till next morning. The Bible from which the parties had been reading before they went to bed was found open on the table of their room. Willie Gun, a public character, a hawker of almanacs, last speeches, and dying words, died this year, and has left no successor. Willie was endowed with the organ of acquisitiveness, for although constantly pleading poverty, and displaying it in his person, he was found to have had coats, vests, trousers, &c., without number, and a little hoard of cash. The Justice Hall in Trinity Muir, with a bam and byre erected thereon, and the right of pasture of the muir, when not required for markets, was first let to a tenant in 1840, and has always since brought a respectable rent to the town. The Queen was married on 10th February 1840, and the usual demonstrations of loyalty took place, graced in Brechin by a new appropriate anthem from the pen of a local poet and worthy man, the late Mr James Crabb, painter.

The road between Arbroath and Brechin had long been in a bad state, but it was improved in 1841, and made a pretty good road, under a guarantee fund subscribed by various parties interested The town of Brechin subscribed for 300 under a sub-guarantee from various public spirited individuals to the amount of 253. The tolls on the road defrayed the expenses, and the subscribers were never called on to pay. The Aberdeen Railway, the roundabout railway, as it is generally called, is now, however, the general mode of communication between these two burghs. A census of the population was made up this year by Mr David Prain, parochial schoolmaster, under the Act 3 and 4 Victoria, c. 99, and we give a copy of the return made in an appendix. The legal assessment for the poor was also first paid in February 1841, all modes of raising means by voluntary assessments having failed. The birth of a Prince of Wales gave the town council an opportunity to congratulate the Queen “ on the auspicious event, which (on 9th November 1841) has given to your Majesty a son, and to the kingdom a Prince,” and loyally to pray that “ when it shall please the Almighty Disposer of all events to call the Prince, your son, to the throne of his ancestors, he may prove, like your Majesty, a sovereign noted for virtue and ability/’ The same event gave an opportunity for heating the Mechanics’ Hall with a ball opened by Lady Panmure. Soon after this Lord Panmure invested the members of the Mechanics' Institution with the hall, along with the handsome donation of 1000 in money; and on Wednesday, 16th February 1842, Dr Dick of Broughty-Ferry opened the hall as a scientific institution with a lecture “On the Diffusion of Knowledge, and the Means by which it may be Promoted,” a very excellent and very appropriate lecture. The only other notable events of the year 1841 were the hanging of an excellent bell in the East Church steeple, and the establishment of a ladies' clothing society for the benefit of the poor.

The year 1842 was one of dull trade, and to relieve the want of employment in Brechin, Lord Panmure, Sir James Carnegie of Kinnaird, and Mr Chalmers of Aldbar, trenched and improved large pieces of ground, at which work all who chose to apply were employed, and paid wages fully equal to their labours. The interest of money being very low at this time, the town council availed themselves of the favourable opportunity of disposing of various pieces of ground around Trinity Muir market stance, on which since then several neat houses have been erected, the place being known as Trinity Village.

The Montrose Review newspaper, of 2d June 1843, contains this paragraph: "Sabbath last will be long remembered in Brechin, the doors of the old church having been locked. A portion of the congregation, adhering to their out-going ministers, remained at home, and improved the solemn occasion in private, others of them repaired to the Secession Churches, while the nonadhering portion helped to fill Bishop Moir’s chapel, thus showing in plain characters the direction in which the two antagonist

principles are working” Thus began the Free Church in Brechin. A building, commenced immediately after the disruption in the Lower Wynd, now called Church Street, was opened for service on Sunday, 26th November, by the Reverend A. L. R. Foote as the West Free Church, and in which the worthy gentleman still continues to officiate. The same Montrose newspaper in August has this paragraph—“It is a somewhat curious coincidence that there is at present in Brechin an equal number of the several learned professions, nine ministers of the gospel, nine lawyers, and nine professors of the healing art.” An efficient fire-engine was procured for the town in July of this year, in addition to the old little one, which, little as it is, however, is well calculated for use in confined places. These two still constitute the fire establishment in Brechin.

Unfortunately, on Monday 29th April 1844, the necessity for a fire-engine was too well proved. On that morning the manufacturing premises at the end of Southesk Street, next to Montrose Street, and then belonging to Messrs Guthrie and Hood, manufacturers, were burned, and property to the value of 2000 destroyed. A man of the name of James Gibson, weaver, was tried before the High Court of Justiciary on 22d December for the crime, found guilty, and condemned to fourteen years transportation, but died in the Lunatic Asylum for prisoners, near London, in a year or so afterwards, having turned out to be a madman, as was believed by many at the time the crime was committed. Another fire, arising from accident, occurred in November, when a quantity of damaged flax, in the course of being dried in a drying-house near the gaswork was totally consumed, and the house itself destroyed. The old jail was bought by the council from the county board for 85, and finally closed in July, and the new prison in Southesk Street opened, and that now too is closed, but whether finally remains to be seen. Railways occupied much attention this year. The Aberdeen people originally proposed to go direct from Laurencekirk by Brechin to Forfar, but were induced to abandon this line*, and adopt the present tortuous course, from the influence of interested parties holding position in the county. The Midland Junction Company took up the line favourable for Brechin, bat unfortunately were too late in going to Parliament, and lost their Bill, as that railway was then held to be a competing one with the Aberdeen line. But some day, not distant, the line originally planned must be made. Exactly at half-past four o’clock, afternoon of Tuesday 19th October 1847, the first railway train left the Brechin station, and reached the Dubton station on a trial trip in twelve minutes. The great event of 1844, however, was the landing of the Queen at Dundee, on Wednesday 11th September, when the council voted an address to her Majesty, which was presented to her by a deputation from the council, when she came ashore that morning, hanging on the arm of her husband, Prince Albert, who led the Princess Royal, then a child, by the hand. Many of the inhabitants were present, and the sight was a very pretty one. The Queen was then etn route to her Highland home.

Little of local note occurred during 1845; Church matters, railways, and Corn Law abolition, continued to occupy the attention of the inhabitants, who had still reason to complain of dull trade; but the Com Laws being repealed in 1846, a grand demonstration in honour of the event took place in June of that year. The principal affair in the council in 1845 was the perambulation of the muirs, a full report of which was engrossed in the council book in 1846. In this last-named year, the town council bestirred themselves to get the Church steeples, the choir, and the round tower repaired, and in 1847, Lord Morpeth, at the request of Mr Hume, M.P., procured a grant of money from the treasury, which, with contributions from the town council, heritors, and gentlemen in Brechin, was judiciously applied to this work. A writer, in advocating these repairs in the local newspaper of the day, strongly contended for the repairs of the choir, where, he says—

*Orisons at rising day,
Were chanted sad, in solemn lay;
Vesper anthems swelling high,
Echoed through the twilight sky.”

The interior of the Round Tower was at this time refitted with new platforms and ladders, the old ones having been for many years dangerous and useless, while externally the Tower was all carefully pointed with cement. The apex of the tower was taken down, and the top rebuilt. This apex was of a very peculiar shape ; the top of the tower is octagonal, but it would appear the sides had not been carried up correctly—not one of the eight sides was equal, and they varied from one inch to four inches in size. An exact drawing of the size of the top of the apex is bound up with the Montrose Review for this year in the Mechanics’ Institution Library. We presume this apex had been one of “the great stones of the steeple-head” when it was repaired in 1683; it is now in our garden in Clerk Street.

A keen contest took place in 1847 between Mr Hume and Mr David Greenhill of Fearn, when Mr Hume was again returned to Parliament by a large majority, very few in Brechin voting for Mr Greenhill. In July a fancy fair, the first in Brechin, was held in the hall of the Mechanics' Institution, under the patronage of Lady Carnegie of Southesk, when as much money was raised as paid off the debt on the Infant School—a laudable purpose; but whether fancy fairs are laudable things we say not. Lady Carnegie, who took a great interest in the Infant School, died in 1848, and her worthy husband, Sir James Carnegie, died in 1849. The Right Reverend David Moir, D.D., Bishop of Brechin, died on 21st August 1847. On the 7th October of this year there were great floods in all the rivers of Scotland, and the Southesk laid the Inch and River Street under water, and did considerable damage to property otherways. This was an unhealthy season, and the crowded state of the churchyard attracted much notice; a joint stock company for a cemeteiy had been attempted, but failed, and it was not till 1857 that the burying-ground in Southesk Street was opened by the parochial board, after much battling with opposing individuals.

The Currency Laws were much discussed in 1848; and the Brechin council, like other communities, passed resolutions on the subject,—not more wise than most other resolutions of a like kind. Postal arrangements and school arrangements also engrossed attention during this and former years; but these arrangements have been arranged and re-arranged often since then, and would yet “ thole amends.” Church affairs, too, continued to agitate the community, and a Sabbath Alliance Society was formed in the city. A new educational institution in connexion with the Free Church was opened in Bank Street in the September of this year, and still flourishes. The local newspaper records a fact perhaps worthy of remembrance, that at this time there were daily carried through Brechin blocks of stone, from Aldbar Quarry, for shipment at Arbroath on their way to Prussia, to aid in the completion of the celebrated cathedral of Cologne, which had been in the course of erection for 130 years. Louis Philippe having absconded from France, we notice that a respectable company of players, who were in Brechin in March, avail themselves of the fact, and advertise that “a new and interesting drama,” written expressly for their establishment, will be produced, entitled, “The Revolution in Paris in 1848.” For Brechin, how-ever, a greater abdication occurred; the Defiance coach, the sprightly, dashing conveyance, with its careful drivers and civil guards, their red coats and white hats, and the noble four horses, to whom their work seemed a pleasure, all drove through Brechin for the last time on Monday 31st January 1848, superseded by the railway. We may truly sing with Sir Mark Chase, the old country gentleman, “ We shall never see the like again.” But the great affair of the year was the establishment of the Brechin Advertiser newspaper, its spirited proprietor, Mr David Burns, bookseller, having published the first number on Monday 10th October 1848.

Cholera visited Brechin and the neighbouring towns in August 1849; but in Brechin the victims were not numerous, while the general health of the burgh was good. A cheerful exercise in a cricket club, which still continues and flourishes, was established at this time, the players having got liberty from the council to use the Trinity Muir market stance; various juvenile clubs are now also in existence. Sir Robert Peel and his lady and his daughter spent the evening of 12th October in the Commercial Hotel, and left early next morning by railway; but as their visit was unknown till after they had left, of course no public notice was taken of the celebrated statesman. We believe the party were on a tour of pleasure in Scotland. An attempt was made this year to adopt the Police Act in the burgh, but was defeated, which compelled the council, from want of funds, to give up lighting the public lamps, and to adopt various other plans more economical than popular. This defeat or disappointment was, however, in a measure compensated by the successful establishment of a wool fair in July. This market, which continues to be regularly held, is mainly indebted for its existence to the exertions of Mr David Craig, writer, one of the bailies of Brechin.

The Montrose Review of 20th September 1850 records that “a gentleman walked dry-shod across the river a considerable distance below the bridge last week; the river has for some weeks been lower than in 1826." Water for the use of the inhabitants was, as can easily be supposed, very scarce, and loud calls for an additional supply were made, the Cookston fountains being found deficient, and a law plea having arisen with the proprietor of the estate as to the town's right to search for more water. Application was therefore made to Lord Panmure, who, with his usual liberality, in September 1851 granted the town a tack of the Burghill fountains, which has been a great boon to the town, although from the increasing population there is still a desire for more water.

The lease of the mills and bleachfield having expired, the premises were relet, in March 1851, to Messrs Oswald, Guthrie, and Craig, for twenty-five years, at a rent of 360. These gentlemen converted the spinning-mill into a paper work, and the old com-mill into warehouses, and subset the bleachfield to the Inch Bleaching Company. A Ragged School, under the name of the Educational Society, was commenced in February 1851, and has done much good since its establishment. It was in May of this year that we witnessed the curious sight of the carts belonging to the Kinnaird tenantry passing through Brechin loaded with snow, in which were placed sprigs of whin and broom in full blow. The winter having furnished no ice, these carts were sent to Glendye for snow, with which to fill the ice-house at Kinnaird Castle. It was a pretty sight; and when the lads, the drivers, began to pelt their female friends with snowballs, it was curious to witness a snowball battle on the streets of Brechin in May. The necessity for the adoption of the Police Act in the burgh became more and more obvious, and a public meeting was held in October on the subject, at which, however, the natural hostility to taxation prevailed, and a motion against the adoption of the Act was carried. The decennial census, taken up this year, we subjoin in an appendix.

On Tuesday 13th April 1852, died at Brechin Castle, aged eighty-one, William, Baron Panmure of Brechin and Navar,— the best friend Brechin ever had. His remains were interred in the churchyard of Brechin on Tuesday 20th April, in the north-west corner of the churchyard. Almost all the public bodies in Brechin desired to form a part of the funeral procession, but the magistrates and town council of Brechin, with their officers, and the directors of the Mechanics Institution, were the only parties whose offer of attendance was accepted by the family. The funeral, notwithstanding, was a very large one, for besides the deceased nobleman's family and friends, and the tenantry on the Panmure estates, and professional men and tradesmen connected with the property, almost all the landed proprietors in the county, with the magistrates of Dundee, Arbroath, Montrose, and Forfar were present, making in all about 700 persons. The shops were shut from twelve to three o'clock, and the bells tolled at intervals during the day, while the assembled thousands of spectators showed, in their respectful demeanour, how highly the deceased gentleman was esteemed. The Honourable William Ramsay was born (the second son of the Earl of Dalhousie) on 27th October 1771, and succeeded to the Panmure estates, on the death of his father in 1787, as heir under the entail executed by his maternal grand-uncle, William, Earl Panmure, on which occasion Mr Ramsay adopted the name of Maule. Mr William Ramsay Maule entered the army as a comet in the 11th dragoons in 1789, and afterwards raised an independent company which was disbanded in 1791. On 28th April 1796, Mr Maule was returned as member of Parliament for the county of Forfar, and represented that county in Parliament, always voting on the Liberal side, till he was called to the House of Peers on 9th September 1831; having been in the House of Commons from his twenty-fifth till beyond his sixtieth year. He was a consistent Whig, and a great intimate with Charles James Fox, after whom he named his eldest son, now Earl Dalhousie. Mr Maule, for we delight to call him by a name which was so long popular throughout Scotland, indeed we might say throughout the three kingdoms,—Mr Maule came to his estates when extra hospitality was the order of the day amongst Angus lords; and admirably (says the Edinburgh Courant) was he fitted to excel on such a stage, by his handsome figure, his iron frame, his ready wit, his enjoyment of humour, and his boundless flow of spirits ” The town council, in their minutes, noticed the death of Lord Panmure in very handsome and just terms. During Lord Panmure’s life a bust of him was placed, by public subscription, in the hall of the Mechanics’ Institution, and for many years preceding Lord Panmure’s death his birth-day was annually celebrated in Brechin in great style. His remains lie in a spot in the churchyard of Brechin, selected by himself, amongst the community of Brechin he loved so well and benefited so much; but no public monument marks his grave.—Shame! On 17th September of the same year the Duke of Wellington died, and on the day of his interment the bells were tolled as a mark of respect for the deceased general. The Burghill water was fairly introduced into the town, and the city was again lighted with gas at the expense of the town council in the end of this year, which was marked by great floods in the Esk, inundating the Inch and filling the houses on the side of the river.

The Right Honourable Fox, Baron Panmure of Brechin and Navar, (now Earl Dalhousie.) was created an honorary burgess of Brechin in April 1853, and a similar compliment was paid him by the other Angus burghs soon after. The refreshment rooms in Union Street, and the reading rooms in Montrose Street and River Street, and the parochial lodging-house in City Road, were all established in 1853.

David Guthrie, Esq., who had long been a most efficient member of the town council, died in May 1854, while holding the office of provost, an office which he had filled for many years. The council recorded the death in proper terms in their minutes, and attended the funeral officially, every respect being paid to the deceased, by tolling the church bells, shutting the places of business, &c., during the funeral. Mr Guthrie took a great interest in, and gave much aid to, the first edition of this little work. The same year Patrick Chalmers, Esq., of Aldbar, died on 23d July at Rome, where he had gone for the benefit of his health. Mr Chalmers took an active interest in the affairs of the town of Brechin, and represented the Angus burghs in three successive parliaments. Latterly he devoted himself entirely to literary studies, especially in archaeology, and we have availed ourselves of his labours by using freely his “Registrum Episcopatus Brechinensis,” two quarto volumes published by him, containing the charters of the burgh found in the charter room, and gathered from other sources. The Honourable Colonel Lauderdale Maule, second son of the late Lord Panmure, fell a victim to cholera at Varna on the 1st of August of this same year; being in the position of adjutant-general of the army in the Crimea. The colonel, who was a great favourite in Brechin, was the primary cause of the establishment of reading-rooms for the tradesmen of the town. A Russian gun in Brechin Cemetery, mounted on a block of freestone, is in,scribed with a suitable legend recording the death of Colonel Mqule, and of the other soldiers from Brechin who fell in Turkey during the Crimean war. Colonel Maule was member of Parliament for the county when he died. The Patriotic Fund established for the benefit of the widows and children of parties who had fallen in the Crimea was largely contributed to in Brechin at this time. In 1854 the Old Flesh Market was converted into a place for the sale of butter, eggs, &o.; and Mr James Smith, clothier, introduced into his works a sewing machine, the first used in the tailor trade in Brechin. Another attempt to introduce the Police Act failed.

On Friday 26th January 1855, the Right Reverend David Low, bishop of Argyle and the Isles, died at the priory of Pittenweem, of which he was the clergyman. Bishop Low was a native of Brechin, where he was born in November 1768, and was educated at the schools of Brechin. He inherited from his father some houses in the town, and the ground occupied by Messrs Dickson & Turnbull as the City Nursery. The bishop was a man of considerable literary abilities, and had a great store of tales connected with the royal family of Stuart. Never having been married, he left the bulk of his property to the Episcopal Church in Scotland. The feuing of the Caldhame lands adjoining the railway, where there is now a little town, was begun in 1855 by Lord Dalhousie, then Lord Panmure. Baths at the washing-house on the Inch were opened in the beginning of the year. Curling, which had been in abeyance for many years, was recommenced in Brechin this winter, and still continues a favourite game. A thunderstorm of unusual severity passed over Brechin in June of 1855, but without doing any damage. The annual holiday on the last Friday of July was established this year, and about the same time the masons gained the liberty of ceasing work each Saturday afternoon at two o'clock, while the writers cut an hour off each night's labour, by agreeing to close their offices at seven o'clock, in place of eight, as formerly; and they, too, have since adopted the Saturday halfholiday.

The court-room was enlarged to its present dimensions by taking in a shop which previously fronted the street, and other alterations were made on the Town Hall buildings in 1856. The question of sending a ruling elder to the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland was again mooted in council this year, but rejected by the casting vote of the provost. The Parochial Board having acquired ground on the Caldhame lands for a cemetery, obtained from the council liberty to erect the existing bridge, to give access to the burial ground. The East Free Church was built in 1856, and the large sum of 743 was raised by a fancy bazaar to aid the building.

The mode of assessment for the poor had been the invidious one of means and substance; but in 1857, after much keen discussion, the mode was changed to rental, modified according to the nature of the subjects leased. The Tenements Schools were erected and chiefly endowed this year by John Smith, Esq., of Andover, Massachusetts, America, a native of Brechin, who has since made several most handsome additional grants to the Institution. The Police Act was at last adopted on 23d Sept 1857; without this law it would have been impossible longer to manage the burgh. The water from Burghill fountains was increased by the laying of new and larger pipes this season. On 14th October 1857, died Alexander Laing, a local poet of considerable eminence, and a worthy man. The new cemetery in Caldhame lantjs, after no little litigation, was licensed by the sheriff as a burying-ground, and on Monday 26th October 1857 the corpse of William Gray, gardener at Brechin Castley was interred therein. The consecration of the cemetery, at the request of the Episcopal part of the community, caused a great deal of contention, but the majority of all creeds being in favour of the ceremony, which, if it pleased the Episcopalians, they justly deemed could do them no harm, the Bight Reverend Alexander Penrose Forbes, LL.D., bishop of Brechin, assisted by the clergy of his diocese, consecrated a portion of the grounds, on 12th November 1857, in presence of an immense assemblage, who all behaved with becoming respect The bankruptcy of the Western Bank created a great sensation in Brechin, as elsewhere over the country, in November of this year, but, as usual with Scotch banks, the creditors lost nothing from the misfortune.

Many events, no doubt important to the parties concerned, occurred in Brechin during 1858, but we only record the death of a townsman, an eminent literary man, Dr John Smyth Memes, who died in May of this year at Hamilton, of which parish he was one of the ministers. Dr Memes was an excellent linguist, a good painter, and a beautiful swimmer, as we can vouch. He is perhaps best known by his first book, “The Life of Canova, the Italian Sculptor;” but he wrote, translated, and edited several other works.

In 1859 occurred the centenary of the birthday of Robert Bums, and on 25th January the festival of the poet was duly celebrated in Brechin, as in most towns in Scotland, and, indeed, in every quarter of the world where Scotsmen were to be found. In May, the foundation-stone of the Tenements Schools was laid in grand style. In June a rifle corps was commenced in Brechin. The United Presbyterian Church in City Road being rebuilt, was opened for worship in September. And in November the Rev. George Alexander, A.M., rector of the Grammar School, having completed his fiftieth year as a teacher in the city, a festival was held by his old pupils and friends on the occasion.

The Den Nursery was let in February 1860 to Mr George Henderson, on a lease of twenty-one years, after Martinmas 1862, at a rent of 70. In April the streets were renamed by the police commissioners, and the old and new names engrossed in the council book, and the extent of each street defined. In June of this year died General Sir David Leighton, K.C.B., a Brechin man, who by great courage and perseverance raised himself to the highest eminence in the Indian army. We may be permitted to add, that on 30th Nov. 1860 died Mr Alexander Strachan, writer and depute town-clerk, a man universally beloved. The census taken up this season we give in an appendix.

The Ladies Coal Fund, for supplying poor families with coals was established in 1861, and an excellent charity it has proved. No less than 550 was raised from a bazaar held in June, to defray the expenses of our gallant defenders—the Brechin Rifle Corps. The Marches of the Trinity Muir lands were perambulated by the council in September 1861, and the result recorded in a long report engrossed in the council minute-book in 1862. His Royal Highness, Albert, Prince Consort, having died on 14th December, a loyal and dutiful address of condolence was sent by the council to the Queen—the unexpected visitation being one which excited general sympathy.

In 1862 the Brechin Bowling Club was established, and still flourishes, but cricket seems to be more the favourite of the juvenile classes. The Duke of Cambridge passed through Brechin in August, on a visit to the Earl of Dalhousie, and the jolly, worthy gentleman was welcomed with hearty good-will by the citizens; very different from the reception given to his royal predecessor of Cumberland in 1746. On 11th November the prison, which had been erected at considerable expense in Southesk Street, was closed by the County Board.

The marriage of the Prince of Wales, on 10th March 1863, was the occasion of great rejoicings in Brechin. A petition from several ladies who patronised the washing-house on the Inch, complaining of the access by the mill stairs, led to the great improvement which has been made on that pathway. The parish church was repaired outside and inside this year, and not before renovation was needed. Swan Street was also widened and greatly improved by the erection of new buildings in it, begun at this time.

Our brief chronicle has brought us to our concluding year 1864, during which handsome power-looms were begun to be erected in Southesk Street, by Messrs Lamb and Scott, and Messrs D. & B. Duke, which will change altogether the mode ' of manufacture in linen in Brechin. On 24th August, Mr James Loudon Gordon was elected town-clerk of Brechin, when we finally ceased to be an official character—and so ends our little history.


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