Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
Volume XII - Aberdeen
Parish of Coull
PRESBYTERY OF KINCARDINE O'NEIL, SYNOD OF ABERDEEN.
THE REV. WILLIAM CAMPBELL, A. M., MINISTER.
I.—Topography and Natural History.
Name.—Coull, in the Gaelic language, signifies a
corner, nook, or retiring part of the country. It is a name
common over the Highlands of Scotland, scarcely any large property being
without its Coull, or Mid-Coull, or Wester Coull, &c. Coull, interpreted
as above, forms a very appropriate name to a parish lying chiefly in the
south-eastern corner of the district of Cromar.
Extent, &c.—The form of this parish is irregular.
As laid down in Robertson's Map of Aberdeenshire, it resembles, in some
measure, the outline of Great Britain. Its average length may be about
6, and breadth about 3 miles. It is bounded on the south, by Aboyne; on
the west, by Coldstone; on the north, by Tarland and Cushnie; and on the
east, by Leochel and Lum-phanan. A mountain-range, whose summits are
named Hill of Gellan, Mortlich, Leadhlich, and the Hill of Corse, forms,
in a great measure, a natural boundary between Coull and the parishes of
Aboyne and Lumphanan.
Soil and Climate.—The general character of the
soil is good; a fine loam, in some fields of great depth, and lying on
an open gravelly subsoil. The climate is good, the air
pure, and the grain crops in Cromar are generally as early as any in
Geology—The geology of Coull is of the same
character as the general features of Aberdeenshire ; the hills
consisting chiefly of granite, red and white, the former prevailing.
There is a considerable extent of level ground in the centre of the
parish, called Bogmore. It consists of alluvial deposit on moss. At one
period it was generally covered with water, and formed a disagreeable,
unhealthy swamp. By recent draining, the greater part of it has been
brought into cultivation, the remainder has been converted into good
pasture, and the climate has been greatly improved. The oak appears to
have once flourished here, a specimen of enormous size having been
recently dug up on the farm of Wester Coull, and two large beams of oak,
rudely joined together by blocks of wood, were lately found in a piece
of mossy ground near the manse.
Botany.—No rare plants have been discovered. The
following may be mentioned as inhabitants of the parish:
The Senecio Jacobea is no stranger in our
pastures, and of late years our hay fields are much infested with the
Of animals, the roe-deer, hare, grouse, partridge,
snipe, wild-duck, hedgehog, polecat, and weasel may be noticed.
Parochial Registers.—The earliest parochial
register commences 1752. Baptisms and marriages are recorded in it ; but
it has not been kept with much regularity.
Land-owners.—The land-owners are, the Earl of
Aberdeen, whose valuation is L.812 Scots; Sir John Forbes, Bart. L.432,
4s. 6d. Scots; and the Marquis of Huntly, L.288, 6s. 8d. Scots. Mr
Farquharson of Finzean also possesses some land in the parish, and pays
stipend; but has no valuation.
Antiquities.—One of those circles of stones
standing upright, so common in Britain, and called Druidical circles,
may be seen on a small hill called Tom-na-hivrigh, or the "Hill
of worship or justice." About the centre of the lands of Corse, there
existed, at a very remote period, a chapel called Turry Chapel. The
traces of its existence are still visible. The tradition regarding it
is, that it belonged to the " monks and friars." The castle or fortalice
of Corse was erected in 1581 by William Forbes, father of Bishop Patrick
Forbes of Corse. The walls of the castle still remain, but in a ruinous
condition. Upon a rocky eminence in the vicinity of the church may still
be seen the remains or rubbish of the Castle of Coull. It appears to
have been a fortification of considerable extent and great strength, of
square form, with large hexagonal towers at its angles. The fosse may
still be distinctly seen. It was the seat of the Durwards,—a family once
of great influence in this district. It is a common saying still, that
the church bell of Coull rings of its own accord when a Durward dies.
The population, by census 1841, is 744. Of this
number, 284 reside upon the lands of Corse, and, quoad sacra, are
attached to the parish of Leochel. The population of Coull, quoad
sacra, is therefore 460,—being, by the late census, the smallest
parochial charge in this county. There is no town, and scarcely any
assemblage of cottages deserving the name of a village.
The number of arable acres is about 2300; of
uncultivated pasture upwards of 5000; of land that might profitably be
added to the cultivated land from 80 to 100; and about 320 acres are
under wood, scarcely any of which exceeds the age of twenty years. The
highest rent per acre is about L.2; the average rent about L.1, 2s.; and
the real rental of the parish nearly L.2500.
Within the last twenty years, the agriculture has
undergone great improvement. Much land has been brought into
cultivation. Draining, enclosing, regular rotations of cropping, turnip
husbandry, artificial grasses, are universally adopted. The seventh
shift (three of grass) is generally followed, although the more
intelligent farmers consider the sixth, with only one oat crop, as a
preferable rotation. The property of Corse has, within the last
twenty-five years, been greatly improved. Colonel Arthur Forbes
commenced these improvements, while acting as commissioner for his
nephew, then in India. Plantations of considerable extent were very
tastefully laid out. Sir John Forbes, on his return to his paternal
estates, carried forward the improvements on Corse with great zeal and
judgment; and, by completing the plantations, making good roads,
remodelling the farms as they fell out of lease, straightening marches,
laying off fields of proper size and form, enclosing, draining, building
neat slated cottages, &c. he has accomplished so much, that the aspect
of the lands of Corse is entirely changed; the climate meliorated; and
thus a property that previously had every appearance of neglect, is now
so much improved and ornamented, as to form one of the most beautiful
and valuable estates of its size in this county.
There is a wool-carding mill in the parish, at which
blankets and coarse woollen cloths are also manufactured. Knitting of
stockings is carried on; but the profits from this manufacture are now
become exceedingly small.
Ecclesiastical State.—We have neither Seceder,
Episcopalian, nor Roman Catholic,—the whole population being of the
Established Church. Occasionally, some young folks of the Roman Catholic
persuasion come into the parish as farm-servants. These generally attend
the parish church, and some have become converts to Protestantism; and,
after due examination, been admitted to the communion. The minister's
stipend amounts to L.105 Sterling, and four chalders of victual, payable
in kind. The glebe consists of nearly four acres of very fine soil,
worth about L.2 per acre. There is a process at present in dependence
between Sir John Forbes, Bart. and the minister, in regard to the
proportion of stipend payable by him, as proprietor of the lands of
Corse. By the last locality, these lands were burdened with a payment of
nearly L.60 Sterling in value, in money and victual. An old valuation of
the teinds of Corse has recently been brought to light, in which the
teinds are declared to be 100 merks Scots; and a process has in
consequence been commenced for the reduction of the last locality. The
manse was built in 1832, is commodious, well-finished, and in excellent
condition. The heritors, rather than repair the old, at considerable
expense, preferred to build a new house ; and they have erected a very
good new manse for less money than was required, in a neighbouring
parish, for repairing and making an addition to an old one. The church
is a plain substantial building. It was erected in 1792, has no gallery,
but is sufficiently commodious. The church bell is of considerable size,
and well-toned. It was cast in Holland in the year 1644, and presented
to the church by Mr Ross of Mill of Coull.
Sir John Forbes, Bart. of Craigievar, is sole patron
of the parish. The patronage and teinds belonged, at one period, to the
Abbey of Arbroath. At the Reformation, they fell to the Crown. The
patronage afterwards passed into the hands of the Earl of Panmure, from
whom it was purchased by the family of Craigievar, and it has been in
their possession about 150 years.
Education.—The parochial is the only school in
the parish. Mr Theodore Allan, the schoolmaster, who is also a
licentiate of the church, is a well qualified, zealous, and very
successful teacher. The intellectual system is followed, and particular
attention is paid to the religious instruction of the young. No
additional school seems to be called for, although, at the extreme
points of the parish, the children are rather far from school. The
schoolmaster's salary is L.26, with allowance of L.2, 2s. for a garden.
He receives annually from that admirable and well-managed charity, the
Dick Bequest, nearly L. 40. The school fees amount to about L. 18, the
session-clerkship held by the schoolmaster, brings upwards of L. 2, and
there is a good dwelling-house containing five apartments. About forty
years ago, the salary of the parochial schoolmaster of Coull amounted
only to fifty merks Scots, and the school-fees were of inconsiderable
Poor.—The average number of persons receiving
parochial aid is 12, the average annual allowance to each L. 1, 12s.,
and the average annual amount of funds for support of the poor is, from
church collections, L.14, from interest of money, &c. L.3. When these
are exhausted, recourse is had to a small fund kept in the bank,
amounting at present to L.60, but which is rapidly undergoing a process
of reduction. The amount of the church collections has doubled within
the last twenty years.
A remarkable circumstance connected with this parish
is the annexation, quoad sacra, of so large a part of it to the
neighbouring parish of Leochel. It was evidently done for the
convenience of the inhabitants of Corse, but it is not known at what
period the annexation took place. It appears from the old parochial
registers of Leochel, that the inhabitants of Corse were, about two
hundred years ago, considered as in that parish. And the records of the
Synod of Aberdeen, year 1651, bear, that Mr Andrew Gray, minister of
Coull, who had attempted to intermeddle with the people of Corse
in spiritual matters, without the permission of the minister of Leochel,
is discharged from such intermeddling, they being annexed quoad sacra
to the parish of Leochel.
Coull, quoad sacra, has the advantage of being
without a single ale-house. There is a parochial library, consisting
chiefly of practical religious works, with a few select volumes of
history, biography, and travels. About eight years ago, a great
improvement took place in the mode of conducting funerals here : Instead
of inviting the people at ten o'clock a. m., as used to be done, while
the funeral generally did not move until late in the afternoon, and
thus, those who attended early had to wait several hours, the people are
now invited at a specified hour, and the funeral moves exactly one hour
after that time. Regulations for conducting funerals on the above plan
having been proposed by the minister, were most readily adopted, and the
whole parish is now very sensible of their advantage.
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