Presbytery of Garioch, Synod of Aberdeen.
THE REV. THOMAS BURNETT, MINISTER.
I.—Topography and Natural History.
Extent, &c.—Its average length is about 3 miles,
and its average breadth about 2. It is bounded by the parish of Fyvie on
the north; the parishes of Fyvie and Meldrum on the east; the parishes
of Bourtie and Chapel of Garioch on the south; and by the parish of
Rayne on the west.
Topographical Appearances.— A gently undulated
ridge passes through the middle, and traverses nearly the whole length
of the parish from north to south, and two shorter lateral ridges of
inferior elevation, one on each side, slightly undulated also, complete
the figure of the parish.
The climate of the parish is, on the whole, dry,
airy, and salu-brious, and accordingly the inhabitants enjoy in general
Soil.—There is a considerable variety of soils in
the parish. On the higher grounds, a gravelly thin soil,—on those of
less elevation, a rich loam and strong clay,—and on the lower grounds
generally, a bluish clay underneath a formation of peat of
inconsiderable depth ; and these soils rest partly on rocks of whinstone
and iron, and partly on granite of inferior quality.
Parochial Registers.—The parochial records are
neither voluminous nor of an early date. The first entry in the record
of baptisms appears to have been made on 10th March 1723; that in the
poor's cash register on the 3d March 1731; and that in the record of
discipline on the 30th May of the same year.
Antiquities.—On the lands of Mounie, and on the
highest ground in the parish, the remains of two Druidical temples are
still observable. The remains of a third were to be seen, within the
last twenty years, in the grave-yard; but the stones were some time ago
removed, and employed as materials in building the walls of a
There is a small enclosure on the lands of Fingask,
which appears to have been used formerly as a burial-ground. And in this
enclosure were to be seen the remains of what was believed to have been
a Roman Catholic place of worship, from the circumstance of a silver
crucifix being found by the workmen in digging for the foundation of a
mausoleum, erected by the late proprietor on the spot about forty years
ago; and of there being a well in its immediate neighbourhood, which
still bears the name of "The Lady's" or "Our Lady's Well." The
foundations of a building, said also to have been a Roman Catholic
chapel, with a well close by, occasionally attracted notice a few years
ago on the estate of Lethenty. The well is still visible; but no vestige
of the building now exists.
In a field of a farm on the property of Glack was dug
up, in 1833, a species of battle-axe, which is now in the proprietor's
possession. The handle and head are both of iron,—the former 30 inches
long, and the latter 5 inches long on the one side and 3˝
inches on the other, and varying from 4 to 4| inches in breadth.
Both sides of the head appear to have been sharpened. It is
sup-posed to have been used at the Battle of Harlaw, fought in
the adjoining parish of Chapel of Garioch in 1411.
There is now in the writer's possession a silver
coin, which was dug up in some years ago, in a small kitchen garden,
wherein stood formerly the old manse. It is larger but thinner than a
shilling of the present coinage. On one side is Elizabeth: D : G : Ang:
Fr: et Hi: regina, around the Queen's head, and on the other, the royal
arms, surrounded by the following inscription; . . . Posui Deu adjutorem
meu;* but there is no date upon it.
A small pot or cooking utensil, of rather an elegant
shape, was turned up on a waste part of a field, of a farm on the
property of Mounie in 1834, and is now in the farmer's possession. It is
made of bronze, has evidently been subjected to the action of fire, and
may probably have been left by the troops which crossed this part of the
country in 1745-6. Its depth is seven inches, its diameter, where
widest, eight inches, the diameter of its neck, where narrowest, four
inches and three-fourths, and the diameter of its mouth six inches, all
In 1834, a handsome substantial mansion-house was
built by the present proprietor on the estate of Fingask, in the
erection of which the stone chiefly employed was granite.
The industry of the parish may be best exhibited in
the following tabular form, which shows the employment of its respective
householders: Resident proprietors and farmers, 2; ministers, 1;
schoolmasters, 1; farmers, 49; farmers, merchant tailors, and
inn-keepers, 1; farmers and inn-keepers, 1; farmers and wrights 1;
farmers and millers, 3; crofters, 16; crofters, merchants, and spirit
retailers, 2; crofters and dress-makers, 1; crofters and masons, 2;
crofters and wrights, 3; crofters and blacksmiths, 2; crofters and
shoemakers, 2; crofters and tailors, 1; crofters and weavers, 2;
crofters and fish-carriers, 1; crofters and labourers, 10;
manufacturers, 1; gardeners, 1; midwives, 1; merchants and wrights, 1:
wrights, 2; blacksmiths, 2; shoemakers, 1; labourers, including decayed
old men and women, householders, 34; total, 144. Male-servants above
twenty years of age employed in agriculture, 65; do. under twenty,
employed in agriculture, 44; female servants
above twenty, 36; female servants under twenty, 28; male servants above
twenty employed in handicraft, 5; do. under twenty, employed in
handicraft, 2; total, 180 = 324; and the married women, and such of the
inhabitants' children as are not in service, and continue to reside in
the parish, make up the remainder of the population. The whole
population of the parish may be thus classified; 144 occupants of
houses; 99 married women, 362 children, and 180 servants.
Agriculture.—The land in the parish under tillage
measures about 3700 acres; the waste land, 150, of which 120 will, at no
distant period, be improved ; in wood, 180; and in moss, 100; in whole
about 4130 Scotch, or nearly 5250 imperial acres. The plantations within
the parish are chiefly of Scotch fir and larch. These continue to grow
for about forty or fifty years, seldom attaining any great size, and
then begin to decay. No good mode of thinning has been sufficiently
attended to; and consequently the value of the whole is comparatively
small. The soil seems much better adapted for the growth of hard-wood,
chiefly beech, elm, and ash ; and of these there are some very good
specimens in the parish, and especially around the mansion-house of
Glack. The mode of filling up blanks where they have occurred in these
plantations, when they are somewhat advanced, seems to have been utterly
unprofitable. Young plants stuck in among trees of twenty or thirty
years growth have either died out, or rapidly shot up to a great height,
without attaining any useful or profitable thickness. The error of this
method has now become evident, and a plan, apparently more judicious, is
adopted, namely, rooting up and removing those parts of the plantations
which do not seem thriving, digging large pits, (in many cases trenching
would be preferable,) and planting the young trees in masses, and such
kinds only as appear to have thriven best in the soil.
Rent of Land.—The average rent of arable land in
the parish per acre is a little above L.1, 1s.
Rate of Grazing.—An ox or cow may be grazed for
L.2, 10s., and a full-grown sheep for 10s.
Wages.—The wages of a labouring man in summer is
1s. 6d., and in winter 1s. per day with victuals. Those of tradesmen 2s.
per day in summer, and 1s. 6d. in winter, with victuals also.
Live-Stock.—-The common breed of cattle in the
parish, till within the last few years, was the Aberdeenshire, and the
animals of this breed were by no means generally of the finest quality.
Much more attention, however, has been paid of late to improve the
quality, and produce the greatest weights in the shortest time ; and
accordingly, a cross of the short-horned with the breed of the county is
found to succeed well,—for the bullocks of this cross attain a greater
weight in three years with good keep than the pure Aberdeenshire in
four; and, from the facility with which they can be conveyed by steam,
without loss of weight, to the London markets, they yield a much greater
remunerating price to the feeder.
Few sheep are reared in the parish, and these only
for family use.
Husbandry.—The mode of husbandry pursued is
believed to be good. A seven-shift rotation is that generally adopted,
viz. three grasses, two grain crops, one green crop, and one grain crop
again, and with the seed of this last crop are sown rye and red and
white clover grass seeds for the hay crop of next year. A few
individuals have, instead of a seven, adopted a six-shift rotation, that
is one instead of two grain crops after the third year's grass, and they
affirm that the proceeds are as great, while the land is less exhausted
than by following a seven-shift rotation. As the six-shift rotation,
however, gives a less breadth for grain crop than the other, some time
may yet elapse until its advantages be satisfactorily established and
duly appreciated. There are other two shifts occasionally permitted and
practised, namely, a five-shift rotation, with one grain crop after two
grasses; and a six-shift rotation with two grain crops after two
grasses. But both these rotations, it is believed, are injurious to the
interest of the landlord, and over a nineteen years no less
injurious to the tenant. Where the land has been previously well
managed, and of good quality, they may prove advantageous to the tenant
during the first years of his lease; but, towards the end of it, he may
discover his error, and that his loss exceeds his gain.
Wheat is seldom attempted to be raised in the parish,
as neither the soil nor the climate appears to be adapted to its growth.
Barley and bear are raised but in small quantities. The grain chiefly
sown is oats, and considerable attention has been paid to have the seed
frequently changed and of good quality, and the advantage of the change
is now universally admitted. The species of oats which appear to suit
both the soil and climate best is that of those denominated Scotch
barley and early Angus; although no backwardness is shown to introduce
other kinds which promise to be more productive. Accordingly, potato
oats, Hopetoun oats, and sandy oats have been sown in the parish. The
potato and Hopetoun oats do not bear much hardship, and begin to be
discontinued. The sandy oat is rather in greater favour.
The land in the parish seems well adapted for
producing green crops; in proof of which it may be stated, that the
turnips which grew on a Scotch acre of second-rate infield in 1835,
weighed, with the tops, 33 tons, 6 cwt. 8 lb., and without the tops 28
tons, cwt. 1 qr. 4 lb. They were, however, the old Scotch yellow, and
sown in drills only 22˝ inches apart,—the
common width being from 26 to 28 inches. In the same year, and on land
of the same quality, the weight of the potatoes raised on a Scotch acre
was found to be 14 tons, 5 cwt. 2 qr. 24 lb.
A good deal has been done lately, and is still doing,
in reclaiming the low and marshy waste land in the parish. Several
leading ditches for carrying off the water have been cut at the
proprietors' expense, while the tenants have cut and filled the
necessary drains, and the work has in general been efficiently executed,
the tenants are already reaping the fruits of the proprietors'
liberality and their own industry, and so manifest is the advantage
resulting from this operation, that it is not doubted, that, in a few
years, the whole of the waste land susceptible of cultivation will be
under profitable tillage.
The leases are now almost uniformly of nineteen years
duration,—a period apparently sufficient to allow the tenant to derive
the full benefit of such judicious expenditure as he may make for the
improvement of his farm in the early part of his lease. The stipulated
rents have, till lately, been principally in money. A change, however,
has taken place on the property of the principal heritor. He now
receives a half-money and half-corn rent for every possession above the
size of a croft,—the corn rent payable by the fiars of the year ranging,
however, between a certain maximum and minimum per quarter. This mode of
payment, when the minimum and maximum are judiciously and fairly fixed,
must be alike advantageous to landlord and tenant.
The farm-houses are in general substantial,
convenient, and comfortable, and the steadings sufficiently large and
There may be from 800 to 1000 acres enclosed with
stone fences, several of which have been erected within the last few
years. The advantages of enclosures seem now to be fully appreciated,
and stones are being laid down for the erection of a good many more.
Produce.—The average gross amount of raw produce
raised in the parish may be nearly as follows :—
Manufactures.—A manufactory for carding and
spinning wool was, some time ago, established in the parish by a
spirited individual, the machinery of which cost him L.270. There are
commonly four hands employed, who work ten hours a-day. In the year
1831, the Board for the Encouragement of Manufactures, in consequence of
a representation of the manufacturer's enterprise, granted him a premium
of L.35, 10s.
Means of Communication.—The parish enjoys neither
market-own nor post-office. There are, however, very good commutation
roads through a considerable part of it. That which passes the church
from north to south divides itself into two branches about half a
mile south of it,—the one leading to Old Meldrum, and the other
to Inverury, both markets and post towns; the
former distant about four and the latter about
five miles from the parish church. In 1835, a
turnpike road was made to connect the east and west branches of the
Great North Road from Aberdeen to Inverness. It commences at Old Meldrum,
and terminates near to Sheelagreen, in the parish of Culsamond. Its
length in the parish, traversing the east and north sides, is nearly
four miles. No public coach, as yet, runs through the parish on this
Ecclesiastical State.—This parish is said to have
formerly been a parsonage or prebend in the diocese of Aberdeen, and to
have been given as an alms' gift by Malcolm Canmore to the bishop of
that diocese. The Established Church, the only place of worship in the
parish, being nearly in the centre of it, is very conveniently situated
for the parishioners, not being above three miles from the most distant
of them. It was built in 1798, and is at present in good repair. It
affords accommodation for 400 persons, allowing 18 inches, or for 450,
allowing 16 inches for each person; and by re-arranging the seats, and
adding a couple of galleries, it might, if necessary, be made to contain
600. The inhabitants have sittings in the church gratis, as occupants of
houses and land rented from the heritors, and there is no person in the
parish who does not enjoy this privilege.
The manse was built in 1799-1800. A thorough repair,
and comfortable addition to it, together with a new and complete
steading of offices, were very liberally and handsomely given by the
heritors in 1830.
The extent of the glebe, including the grass land, is
about 7˝ acres, which might be let for L.12
annually. The stipend arising from the teinds of the parish of Daviot
proper, and increased by an annual payment from Her Majesty's Exchequer
in Scotland, amounts to L. 150.
The number of Presbyterians in the parish, old and
young, was in May last 664; of Episcopalians, 112; of Seceders, 5; and
of Quakers, 4.
Divine service in the Established Church is generally
well attended, and the average number of those who regularly communicate
there is 350.
parochial school is the only one in the parish. In it are taught English
reading, English grammar, writing, arithmetic, geography, book-keeping,
mathematics, Latin, and Greek. The Assembly's Shorter Catechism is also
carefully taught, a portion of the Bible daily read, and God's blessing
on the business of the seminary daily implored. The schoolmaster's
salary is L.30, and the average annual amount
of his fees about L.20. He also participates in the Dick Bequest. The
heritors of the parish, putting a just value on the services of an
acceptable and successful teacher, have, greatly to their credit, given
him, in a large and comfortable school-house, much more than the legal
accommodation. The annual expense of education varies, according to the
branches taught, from 8s. to L.1.
There is no one, it is believed, in the parish,
between six and fifteen years of age, who is unable to read or write,
none above fifteen who cannot read, and not above fifty, chiefly old
women, who cannot write. And it may be here stated, as a proof that the
parishioners are quite alive to the benefits of education, that, during
last year, there were no fewer than 107 young people attended school.
Charitable and other Institutions.—There is no
savings bank in the parish. The nearest is that in Old Meldrum,
established, in ]834, by a few private individuals. A National Security
Savings Bank was established in Inverury in June 1837.
Poor and Parochial Funds.—The number of persons
receiving parochial aid is generally about 12, and the annual allowance
given to each ranges from L.1, 10s. to L.5, 11s. 6d. The average annual
amount of collections in the church for their relief is L.25, 11s. 4d.;
of interest of money belonging to the poor, L.7, 10s.; and of donations,
&c. given and applied for their benefit, L.11, 6s. 6d. It rarely happens
that application, in the first in-tance, is made by the individual
requiring parochial assistance; and in more cases than one, when inquiry
has been made, with all possible delicacy, if parochial aid was wanted,
or would be acceptable, the reply has been, "that their own means were
not yet exhausted, and till then they could not bear the thought of
becoming burdensome to the parish."
Fairs, Inns, &c. and Fuel—In
the parish no fairs are held.
There are two inns, besides two other houses in which
ale and spirits are retailed; but these being situated on the sides of
the principal lines of road in the parish, appear to be required for the
accommodation of the public. Almost all who occupy land in the parish
have, in terms of their leases, the privilege of cutting turf and peat
for fuel in the proprietors' mosses. There is also a considerable
quantity of coals brought from Inverury into the parish for fuel, at the
expense of about 5s. 6d. per boll, exclusive of carriage.
The most striking variations between the present
state of the parish and that which existed at the time of the last
Statistical return, are, a diminished population, produced chiefly by
the gradually improved arrangement effected by the proprietors in the
division of their lands; the adoption of a regular rotation of cropping,
which was then but just commencing; an increased and increasing desire,
on the part of the tenant, encouraged by his landlord, to lay out his
fields tastefully, and to bring every foot of them under the plough; a
more intimate acquaintance with the best modes of draining, whereby the
greater part of the low and wet lands in the parish has been, and is
being dried and rendered productive; a more enlightened and systematic
attention bestowed by the tenantry in improving the breed of their
cattle, and in bringing them as early, and as far as they can, into the
best marketable condition ; and the generally improved position of the
farm-houses and steadings, in reference to every part of the farm, and
the consequent discontinuance of the assemblage of several farm-houses
and steadings in one locality, which proved a source of no small
inconvenience and annoyance to their respective possessors. Subletting
has, since then, also been almost completely prohibited, and the
proprietors, while they gratuitously give houses and small patches of
ground for a garden to the well-behaved on their own estates, who have
fallen into decayed circumstances, and otherwise humanely assist them,
at the same time prevent the settlement of those who have no such claim
upon them, and are likely, at no distant period, to become burdensome to
the parish; and it is believed that, if this plan were more generally
adopted, the poor in each parish would have their necessary wants amply
provided for, and mendicant vagrancy would, to the great comfort of the
community, be ere long entirely discontinued. The roads in the parish
also have undergone a great improvement since the date of the last
Statistical Account. The old lines of road have in several parts been
improved, and the roads themselves put in good repair. A new line of
turnpike has since been made along the east and north sides of the
parish, and another was finished in 1839, on which a stage-coach now
runs daily betwixt Aberdeen and Huntly.
Drawn up in 1837.
Revised August 1842.