PRESBYTERY OF ALFORD, SYNOD
THE REV. ROBERT SCOTT, MINISTER.
I.—Topography and Natural
Name.—This parish derives
its name from two Gaelic words, gleann, a glen, and buidhe,
signifying yellow, or from the stream of Bucket, which intersects the
glen, taking its rise among the lofty mountains; separating Glenlivat and
Glenbucket, and which falls into the Don below the venerable castle, the
seat of the ancient Gordons of Glenbucket. The castle stands in a
commanding and beautiful situation, totally neglected, and fast falling
into complete ruin.
Extent.—The average breadth
of the parish is about one mile arable, and, including the mountain
ranges, about 2˝ miles; its length arable about 6 miles,—including the
mountains, 10 miles.
The parish is almost
surrounded by Strathdon: for a small space to the north-west it adjoins
Cabrach and Glenlivat. But from these, it is separated by a regular range
of lofty mountains.
A narrow and romantic pass
leads into the parish from the east, commencing at the confluence of the
rivers Don and Bucket, below the castle.
Craigenscore is the highest
hill in the parish; it lies to the north, and rises about 2000 feet above
the level of the sea. Benneaw is the next highest, and is 1800 feet above
the level of the sea, The castle is built on the acclivity of this hill.
Climate.—The climate is
severe. In the summer months it is sometimes excessively hot; in winter,
north winds, deep snows, and keen frosts prevail, which frequently
continue long, and make late and bad spring months.
Geology.—The rocks are
generally primitive. There are to be found, hornblende, felspar, gneiss,
mica-slate, granite, and primitive limestone in great abundance, which
contains about seventy per cent. lime. It is worked to great advantage by
the tenants, both for their own use and for sale.
Zoology.—The breeds of
cattle, horses, and sheep, have been much improved within these few years,
and bring annually a considerable sum of money to the glen. The wild
animals are, foxes, hares, common and alpine; roe and red-deer frequent
Glennoughty. Birds; eagles, hawks, black-game, grouse, ptarmigan, snipes,
dotterel, plover, partridges, &c. and a great variety of small birds.
Fish; salmon, trout, and eels are found in the Don and Bucket.
II.— Civil History.
The barbarous feud that
took place betwixt Mowat of Abergeldie and Cameron of Brux, is recorded by
the celebrated President Forbes in the Culloden Papers.
The ancient Gordons (Lairds
of Glenbucket) were long one of the most powerful feudal families in this
county, a gallant and handsome race of men. The last laird had a
distinguished command under the Stuarts, in the bold, rash, and
unfortunate enterprizes of 1715 and 1745. It is said that George II.
having the greatest horror at the name of the dread chieftain of
Glenbucket, often dreamed of him, starting in his sleep, and exclaiming in
broken English, "De great Glenbucket be coming." The fact was, however,
that very few gentlemen in the times in which he lived were more
accomplished, humane, and brave. He made his escape to France (a very old
man) after the fatal battle of Culloden:
The Earl of Fife is sole
heritor of the parish, as well as superior of the estates that once
belonged to the ancient and powerful Earls of Mar.
Parochial Registers.— The
parochial registers, of late years, have been kept correctly.
This summer, an excellent
porter's lodge has been built by the Earl of Fife's orders at Badenyon,
which will be of great benefit to that remote and celebrated spot.
Beyond the year 1775, there
is no report of the population of this parish.
Population has increased in
this parish, in consequence of the increasing cleanliness of the people,
greater attention to children in extreme infancy, vaccination, but, above
all, the annihilation of smuggling. The improvements in every respect,
since illicit distillation has been happily put down, are truly
astonishing. Falsehood, swearing, drunkenness, and other immoral
practices, although they linger with a few of the old and hardened, are
fast disappearing; and in their place are progressing, good manners,
cleanliness, sobriety, exemplary attention to their moral and religious
duties, and diligence at their different avocations. The people are
generally hardy, active, and intellectual; and since smuggling has come to
an end, manifest a strong desire for reading and general information. The
establishment of a library in the neighbourhood has been of great use.
The inhabitants are all
employed in agriculture, as farmers, crofters, and farm servants, with a
few mechanics. The soil is generally very good, and were the farms
properly arranged, and leases of proper endurance given, great
improvements would certainly take place. There is excellent limestone,
easily wrought, yielding upwards of seventy per cent; and inexhaustible
peat moss, of superior quality. Draining, enclosing, and planting would
greatly ameliorate the climate; and although the humane and truly
benevolent proprietor, the Earl of Fife, gives very little encouragement
here, yet the people are farming, notwithstanding their many
disadvantages, on the most improved system of agriculture, raising good
crops of turnips, potatoes, hay, bear, and oats. The Mains farm at the
castle is perhaps as well managed in every respect as any in Scotland.
Roads are much wanted. It is to be wished that the Noble proprietor may
soon turn his attention to the improvement of this beautiful but still
much neglected part of his princely estates.
twenty years ago, there were from twenty to thirty Roman Catholics in the
parish. With the exception of two old people (Roman Catholics) there are
no Dissenters of any denomination from the Established Presbyterian
church. Divine service in the church is well attended. The number of
communicants is about 300. The stipend from teinds (exhausted) is L. 33,
0s. 8d.; from Government, L. 125; in all, L. 158, 6s. 8d. The glebe is
worth about L. 10 annually; and the manse is in excellent condition.
Poor.—The average annual
collections for the benefit of the poor amount to about L.14 Sterling
annually, which, with a small fund from savings, furnishes the only means
by which the poor are supported. There are 18 on the poor's roll.
Education.—There is a
parish school, having the medium legal salary; the school fees, a good
house, excellent garden, and small croft of land of three acres, at a very
moderate rent, support a duly qualified teacher. The people are
particularly anxious to have their children educated, and there is not an
individual but can read and write.
There is a small but useful
adventure school kept during winter and spring, in the remote part of the
parish, on the celebrated classical spot where John of Badenyon lived. A
proper teacher and salary at this station is much wanted.