Rural Life in the Eighteenth Century
1.—LIST OF BOOKS BEFEBRED TO.
Domestic Annals of Scotland from the Reformation to the
Revolution. By Robert Chambers. 3vols. 1859.
Lectures on Scotch Legal Antiquities. By Cosmo Innes. 1872. Spalding Club
List of Pollable Persons within the Shire of Aberdeen in 1696.
Collections for History of the Shires of Aberdeen and Banff. Miscellanies,
The Statistical Account of Scotland, drawn up from the communications of
the Ministers of the different Parishes. By Sir John Sinclair, Bart. 21
Memorials for the Government of the Royal Burghs in Scotland. By Baillie
Alexander Skene of Newtile. 1685.
General View of the Agriculture and Rural Economy of the County of
Aberdeen, with Observations on the means of its Improvement, drawn up for
the consideration of the Board of Agriculture and Internal Improvement. By
James Anderson, LL.D. 1794.
The Bee; or Literary Weekly Intelligencer. By James Anderson, LL.D. 17
General View of the Agriculture of Aberdeenshire, drawn up under the
direction of the Board of Agriculture. By George Skene Keith, D.D,
Minister of Keith-hall and Kinkell. 1811.
General View of the Agriculture of Kincardineshire or the Mearns. By
George Rohertson, landsurveyor. 1807.
General View of the Agriculture of the County of Banff. By David Souter,
The Political Works of Andrew Fletcher, Esq, of Saltoun, Glasgow, 1749.
Letters from a Gentleman in the North of Scotland (Captaim Burt), to his
friend in London. 1726-30.
True Method of Treating Light Hazely Ground; or an exact relation of the
practice of farmers in Buchan: containing Rules for Infields, Outfields,
Haughs and Laighs. By a small Society of Farmers in Buchan. Edinburgh,
A General Description of the East Coast of Scotland, from Edinburgh to
Cullen. By Francis Douglas. 1827.
Present State of Husbandry in Scotland, extracted from Reports made to the
Commissioners of Annexed Estates (by Mr. Andrew Wight), and published by
their authority. Edinburgh. 1778.
Memoirs of the Life and ‘Works of the late Right Honourable Sir John
Sinclair, Bart. By his Son, the Rev. John Sinclair, M.A., Pembroke
College, Oxford. 2 vols. 1837.
Buchan. By Rev. J. B. Pratt, LL.D., Cruden.
An Echo of the Olden Time, from the North of Scotland. By Rev. Walter
2. —EARLY ABERDEENSRtRE ROADS AND POST TOWNS.
In June, 1739, a meeting of the Commissioners of Supply
was held, and the minute bears inter alia:-
"As to the Kintoir road recommend to tbe town of
Aberdeen the management thereof, so far as their freedome goes; and
recommend to Dr. Gordon; Auchmull ; Stonywood,
younger; Invercauld, and the factors of Caskieben and Craig, or any two of
them to take upon them the management and direction of the Kintoir road
from the place where the freedome of Aberdeen ends, untill it comes to the
head of the Hill of Tyrebagger; and recommend to the Earle of Kintoir’s
factor and the Magistrates of Kintoir to take the management and direction
of the said road from the head of the Hill of Tyrebagger to the town of
Inverury; and recommends to tbe Magistrates of Inverury to carry on said
road through the whole of their freedome; and recommends to the laird of
Pittodery ; John Innes of Tillyfour, and John Leslie of Afforsk, to carry
on said road from Inverury to the west corner of the park dykes of
Pittodery; and recommends to Overhall; Westhall; Premnay; Dunnydeer; and
the laird of Law, or any two of them to carry on said road up through the
Garioch. And as to the branch of the Inverury road which leads to
Strathbogie, the Commissi9ners recommend to Inveramsay; Coidwalls;
Three-field ; Gight ; Shellagreen, and Rothney, or
any two of them to take upon them the management and direction of the said
branch from Inverury to Strathbogie, ani particolarly orders a cassey to
be made at Leggatsden; and appoints Inveramsay to deburse the charges
thereof, and to be repayed at the next generall meeting."
In constrncting roads, what they did was simply to
level out the site where the ground was hard and firm: and lay a causeway
of rough stones in the low-lying and soft parts that could not otherwise
be got over. The Legatsden Causeway
A lang mile frae Harlaw,
where a burn came down the Den and a hamlet stood, was
a case in point.
Statute labour unwillingly given, and amateur
overseership made but a poor business of it, arrange it as the county
would. And in April 1759 "all the plans hitherto proposed having proved
inefficient," eight separate Road Districts were formed in the county,
corresponding with the eight Presbyteries. And here we may as well give
the Districts, valued rental and rating as they stood in 1770.
of each Presbytery
to each District
£40,233 17 4
£188 8 6
£15 14 12
£183 11 0
£34,238 12 10
£159 16 0
£27,835 13 8
£129 15 0
£10 16 3
£121 14 0
£10 2 10
£32,271 13 6
£149 4 0
£22,292 18 10
£103 7 0
£ 8 12
£11,224 11 9
£ 52 11 0
£ 4 7
£233,448 15 5
£1088 6 6
£90 13 10
The sum of £90 odds as Highway money for the whole
county was not a large sum.
The turnpike from Stonehaven to Aberdeen was made in
1797; and that from Stonehaven by Durris to Banchory-Ternan in 1800.
In appendix to a report prepared in 1863 for the
Aberdeen-shire Committee on Road Reform, by the late Mr. George Marquis,
accountant, a llst of the turnpike roads in the county of Aberdeen, in the
order in which they were opened, and the number opened in each decade
after 1790, and other particulars, are given.
The total amount of original subscriptions for the
foregoing 447 miles of road was £108,857 19s. 3¼d., but this did not
suffice for their construction; preferable subscriptions, or borrowed
monies, were needed in all but six or seven cases; and, adding these
amounts, the total sums raised for construction of turnpike roads in
Aberdeenshire amounted to £176,678. The total debt upon the various trusts
(only two roads, the Inverury and Bridge of Dee being free of such burden)
was no less than £409,433 9s. 3d.; and in 1863, the estimated value of
this large amount of debt was, at twenty years’ purchase, only £39,521 9s.
6d., the revenue being in many cases seriously affected by the opening of
railway lines. The average cost of construction (calculating by the
amounts raised) was £394 per mile.
About 1787-8 there were only eight post towns in
Aberdeen-shire, viz., Ellon, Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Kintore, Old Rain,
Old Meidrum, Turriff, and Huntly. After the establishment of the mail
coach to Aberdeen, Post Offices were opened at Banchory-Ternan, Kincardine
O’Neil, Aboyne, Tullich, Tarland, Strathdon, Braemar, Old Deer, Mintlaw,
Strichen, New Pitsligo, Keith-hall, Monymusk, Skene, Alford, and Rhynie.
3.—THE ABERDEENSHIRE CANAL.
The Aberdeenshire Canal, the total length of which,
from the river Don to the Shorelands of Aberdeen, was nearly eighteen and
one-fourth miles, was designed by Telford. It reached the summit level,
168 feet abovelow-water mark, at Stoneywood. There were on it seventeen
canal locks, five aqueduct bridges over considerable streams of water, and
fifty-six accommodation bridges. By the first Act, obtained in 1796, the
Company were authorized to raise £20,000, in £50 shares. The Corporation
of Aberdeen subscribed £1000; ,James P. H. Elphinstone, £1000; and the
Earl of Kintore, £1000. A few other county gentlemen subscribed to half
that amount, and others in less sums; but only £17,715 in all was
realised. A second Act was obtained in 1801, under which a farther sum of
£11,421 10s. was raised. The difficulty of completing the undertaldng was,
however, found to be veryformidable. The mOnies subscribed under the
second Act (and which were placed as preference shares), proved quite
inadequate, and a further mortgage loan of £10,000 was raised upon the
credit of revenue. At the close of 1808, the total expenditure had been
£43,895 18s. ba.; the super-expenditure above capital, at that date, being
£17,259 8s. 10d., and the original design had not then been completed by
formation of a lock and basin connecting the canal with the tide-way at
Aberdeen Harbour. The canal was opened for navigation, in the beginning of
June, 1805; but again completely stopped. in a few days, on account of no
fewer than fourteen of the locks having failed, through insufficiency of
the mason work. Before this was completely got over, the season of 1806
even was partially interfered with. Next season, 1807, a revenue of £339
2s. lId, was drawn, and in season 1808, £706 12s. 11d., irrespective of
rent for the passenger fly-boats. The average revenue does not scorn to
have much increased for fully twenty years. In 1834, it had risen to £1141
in 1844, to £1619; and in 1853, when the canal was superseded by the Great
North of Scotland Railway, the revenue was £3062.
4.—CONTRACT BETWEEN MILL
SUPERIOR AND SUCKENERS.
In a contract between a mill superior and certain
burghal and other suckeners, of date 1790, the parties, under a penalty on
either side of £100 sterling, bind and oblige themselves as follow
Primo, the said------—hereby becomes bound at all times to keep a
sufficient qualified miller at the foresaid mill for the service of the
sncken, and to be at all times ready to discharge his duty as a millart at
the said mill, particularly to carry the clean shilling from the shilling
bill to the said mill. Srreodo, On the other part, the said~-for
themselves and their successors, &c., hereby become bouad to continue
thirled aad astricted to the said mill of , in
all time coming, and to grind their hail corn, iacluding pease, of the
growth of their said lands at the said mill, and to pay the 25th peck to
the tacksman of the said mill theref or, in name of insucken multure, and
a peck of each six bolls of shilling, in name of knavcship, and no more ;
as also to grind all their malt at the said mill, and to pay the 25th
peck, in name of multure and knavesbip therefor ; and further to pay the
25th peck for all grain of whatsover kind of the growth of their said
lands, that shall be sold by them or any of them without the bounds of the
said sucken. They also further become bound to grind all grain of
whatsoever kind at the said mill which they shall purchase and bring
within the bounds of the foresaid thirlagc, and which they shall have
occasion to rnanufactnre, and to pay the usual outsucken dues therefor,
being the 48th peck, besides the usual knaveship. It being in all eases
understood that the dust and shilling seeds is to be at the disposal of
the suckeners. Tertio, The said — become
further bound, as said is, to bigg and uphold their just proportions of
the mill house and mill damms, and to east the water gang or lead, and
trail or carry stone, yeird, and tree for upholding of the said mill, mill
water, and mifi house, as oft as the same shall be necessary, and that
they be required so to do. The tacksnean of the said mill being always
obliged and subjected to fnndsh the timber upon his own expenses, and to
cart and win the yeird for upholding of the said mill, mill water, and
mill house upon the most commodious part adjacent to the said mill without
the corn grounds. And further, it is agreed upon betwixt the said parties
that in ease the millart to be employed at the foresaid mill shall be
complained upon as not sufficient for grinding of the corn or discharging
the other parts of his duty thereat, and the same being tried in a Court
to be holden by -—, with the advice and
concurrence of the said [superior], arid the said millar to being
convicted thereon shall be fined to double the skaith which any of the
inhabitants within the sucken shall happen to suffer through his default,
and shall be removed at the term of Whitsunday thereafter, and another
sufficient millart placed in his stead."
5.—MALCOLM GILLESPIE’S BOOTY.
At the close of his Memoir, Malcolm Gillespie appended
an abstract of his seizures dnring his career as an exciseman; and which,
being made up officially, is probably correct. It will be more
intelligible if it is borne in mind that his period of service was divided
thus—Collleston, 1801-1807; Stonehaven, 1807-1812; Skene, 1812-1827. The
abstract is as follows:-
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