Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
Volume XII - Aberdeen
Parish of Peterhead
PRESBYTERY OF DEER, SYNOD OF
THE REV. WILLIAM DONALD, MINISTER.
[Drawn up by Roderick Gray, Esq. Peterhead.]
North East Corner -
Scottish Office film 1946
I.—Topography and Natural
Name.—The ancient name of
the parish was Peterugie, arising, perhaps, from the rocky headland or
promontory near the mouth of the Ugie. A small island between the town and
sea is called Keith Inch; the town in the charter of erection, in 1593, by
George Earl Marischall is named Keith Inch, alias Peterhead; and since
that time the name of the whole parish and town has been Peterhead. In old
charters, the name is Petri promontorium and Petri polis; for other
etymologies the reader is referred to the former account of the parish.
Extent, &c.—This parish
extends along the coast in a straight line about four miles, bending along
the sea shore about five miles, and from east to west it extends from
three to four miles. It is bounded on the south, by the parish of Cruden;
on the west, by Longside; on the north, by Saint Fergus; and on the east,
by the German Ocean.
The area of the parish is
about 9085 imperial acres, or nearly 15 square miles. The bounding line on
the south, and partly on the west, is elevated, and is denominated the
Stirlinghill, the hill of Invernettie, Blackhill of Peterhead, and hill of
Appearances.—The Stirlinghill rises 282 feet above the level of the sea;
the highest part of the Blackhill is about the same elevation ; the other
parts of the range are somewhat lower. The Meethill, (on the estate of
Invernettie,) which is of a conical shape, and rises from 150 to 200 feet
above the level of the sea, is a deep mass of clay resting upon granite,
and is not connected with the above-mentioned range. The other parts of
the parish are not much elevated above the level of the sea; the surface,
however, is diversified by eminences alternately with hollows, and
exhibits a connected state of regularly cultivated fields. The
Stirlinghill, which terminates at the village of Boddam, forms the well
known promontory of Buchanness. Between the parish of Cruden and the
fishing village of Boddam, in this parish, the sea is bounded by high
cliffs of granite and other primitive rock, forming mural precipices; and
this part of the coast is indented with many chasms, fissures and caves,
and these in some cases divide the granite from the trap rock. Opposite to
Stirlinghill is the small green island of Dundony, where, in former times,
it is said, there was a salt pan. Opposite to the village of Boddam is
another small island, upon which the Buchanness Light-house is erected.
From Boddam to the Bay of Sandford, the coast is low and rocky. The Bay of
Sandford, extending some distance inland, is bounded by a flat sandy
shore, intermixed with pebbles. The point of Salthouse-head bounds the bay
of Sandford on the north, and the bay of Peterhead on the south. The bay
of Peterhead extends nearly a mile inland, from the outer point of Keith
Inch, by which, and the town of Peterhead, it is bounded on the north. The
shores of this well known bay are flat and rocky, terminating in sand and
pebbles towards the west. The town of Peterhead is built on a peninsula or
flat rocky headland, the coast on the north side receding inland until it
reaches the mouth of the Ugie, a small river which forms the boundary
between the parishes of Peterhead and St Fergus. The sources of the Ugie
are in the upper part of the district, where it has two branches, the
North and South Ugie, which unite in the parish of Longside.
table exhibits the average temperature and weight of the atmosphere for
every month, and also the quantity of rain which has fallen for the three
years, 1835-36-37, as shown by instruments kept at the Buchanness
Light-house, at the distance of three miles from the town of Peterhead.
* In reference to the want of any observations
of the atmospherical pressure in the months of June, July, and August
1835, it may be mentioned that the barometer kept at the Light-house was
then broken, and was not replaced by another during that time.
The climate is variable, but has been much
improved in consequence of extensive drainage. Within the last thirty
years, the crops, partly from the improved state of the land, and partly
from earlier sorts of grain being sown, come to maturity from ten days to
two weeks earlier than formerly.
Hydrography.—Peterhead was much resorted to as
a watering-place for a period of two centuries. The principal mineral well
is a chalybeate, situate in the town, near the sea; there are, however,
other wells near the town, especially one a little to the north of it,
which is much resorted to in summer; these are also strong chalybeates. Dr
Laing found upon analysis that the mineral waters of Peterhead held in
solution aerated and muriated iron, muriate of lime, Glauber salt, common
salt, and were impregnated with fixed air. Under proper regimen the
mineral waters of Peter-,.head were found by Dr Moir to be deservedly in
repute for general debility, disorders of the stomach and bowels,
flatulencies and indigestion, nervous complaints, &c. In almost every part
of the parish, but especially in Stirlinghill and Blackhill, there are
copious springs, strongly impregnated with iron, which are found to
possess the same medicinal qualities as those in Peterhead and its
vicinity. The cool and salubrious air on the sea coast, the excellent
accommodation for sea-bathing, and the variety of mineral springs,
rendered Peterhead, in former times, the resort of invalids during the
summer months. Until lately the town of Peterhead was not supplied with
good spring water; but the country part of the parish has always been well
supplied with spring water of excellent quality. The Ugie is the only
river in the parish. There is an excellent stone bridge of two arches over
the Ugie, at the distance of two miles from the town of Peterhead. This
bridge was built in 1686, by virtue of an Act of Parliament, at the joint
expense of the shires of Aberdeen and Banff, and is still in good repair.
The tide off Peterhead flows from Rattrayhead,
in the parish of Crimond, south and south-east, and ebbs north and
north-west. During spring-tides it runs three and a-half miles an hour.
There are, however, considerable variations, in consequence, it is
supposed, of the adjoining headlands. The sea at Peterhead is very salt,
and the temperature is never so low as in friths, or in the vicinity of
and Mineralogy.—The whole of the parish of Peterhead is upon primitive
rock. In the Stirlinghill, Blackhill, and Hill of Cowsrieve, the granite
or syenite rises to the surface. Along the coast, and in other parts of
the parish, it is covered with clay, supposed to be diluvial, and other
matters to a greater or less depth. Upon the Stirlinghill, the granite
rises to the surface, or nearly so, over an extent of from 100 to 150
acres. In every place where the syenite or granite is laid bare, imbedded
masses, veins or dikes of primitive trap, gneiss, quartz, and compact
felspar are alternate with, and run through it. In some cases one-half of
a block is granite and the other primitive trap in complete cohesion, and
often passing into each other. At the old Castle of Boddam, the rock is
separated by a fissure or chasm, one side of which is granite and the
other primitive trap. This chasm runs east and west, the granite being on
the south and the trap on the north, with a considerable angle to the
horizon. Near the Buchanness Lighthouse, there is a pretty extensive bed
of hornstone-porphyry, also a rock resembling clinkstone-porphyry. The
rock along the coast, from Buchanness to the mouth of the Ugie, may be
seen at low-water mark, and consists of granite, primitive trap, syenite,
gneiss, compact felspar, felspar-porphyry, and quartz, variously
associated with each other. The bed or cleavage of these rocks, as they
lie in the quarry, is generally from east to west; and in granite, the
laminae of which it is composed, (and it appears generally to be so
composed,) are to be seen in the same direction. [Professor Jameson, who,
we are informed, examined this parish some years ago, met with molybdćna
in the granitic rocks of Peterhead.] The beds of pebbles along the shore,
and the boulders are very extensive, and embrace fragments of rocks and
minerals which are seldom to be found upon the land in the neighbourhood.
Agates and jasper are to be found; flints are also abundant, and are not
unfrequently found, on being broken, to contain impressions of sea-plants,
shells, &c. The Meethill is covered with a deep mass of diluvial clay; at
the brickwork, which is about fifty yards from the beach, and where the
clay has been cut to the depth of from thirty to forty feet, it exhibits
various strata, which appear to have been deposited at different times,
from their differences in quality and colour; some of the deposits are not
above an inch in depth, while others are several feet. The skeleton of a
bird was lately dug out of the clay here, at the depth of 25 feet from the
surface, and about 15 or 20 feet above the level of the sea.
From the Meethill, embracing the lands of
Clerkhill, Grange, Windmill of Peterhead, Blackhouse, Balmoor,
Mountpleasant, and Alehousehill, to Downiehills, the surface is covered to
a considerable depth with clay, mixed in some parts with rounded pebbles.
The links of Peterhead, part of the braes between the links and brickwork,
and some fields near the Kirk-town, form an exception, being covered with
sea-sand to a considerable depth. Below the sand there is generally clay,
but in some instances moss and vegetable remains. The Stirlinghill is
separated from the hill of Invernettie by a deep morass. There are very
few flints on Stirlinghill; but on the hill of Invernettie and the
Blackhill, the surface is almost covered with rounded flints, many of
which, on being broken, are found to contain animal and vegetable remains,
chiefly the impressions of sea-shells. These shells embrace considerable
variety of the Echini family, occasionally entire, but more frequently
only small portions of the impressions of these shells are found. Single
spines frequently occur, and are distinctly marked. The Inoceramus,
Pectens, and Terebratulse are very abundant. In the parish of St Fergus,
near the mouth of the Ugie, in the limestone, the Cornua ammonis and
mussels of a distinct variety from those now existing are found. The same
range of high ground, which commences at Stirlinghill, passes into the
parishes of Cruden, Longside, and Old Deer, and along the whole range,
which rests upon granite, or other primitive rock, the same kinds of flint
have been found containing remains, chiefly of shells. The locality of
these flints has attracted the attention of geologists. In the granite
quarries there is, in the fissures of the rock, gravel mixed with oxide of
iron ; and in situations where the soil is gravel, or clay mixed with
gravel, there is an incrustation of iron between the soil and subsoil,
—the latter is in consequence rendered impervious to water until the
incrustation be destroyed.
Extensive fields of granite are found in a
state of decomposition. When these fields are laid open as gravel pits,
the vertical section has much the appearance of sound granite in the
quarry, exhibiting the outlines of blocks of various sizes, divided from
each other by fissures filled with clay and other matters, coloured by
oxide of iron. Upon examining some of these apparent blocks, parts of them
are found to be in an undecomposed state, while the other parts are found
from one gradation of decomposition to another, until the decomposition is
so complete as to form a mass of clay and gravel, fit for forming a soil
capable of cultivation. In some cases the decomposed granite is almost
white, while in others it is of a darkish red. A considerable part of the
parish of Peterhead had been covered with peat moss, consisting chiefly of
the roots and branches of trees, which compose the first stratum ; the
second stratum is not unfrequently composed of the coarser grasses; the
third of heath, and the upper of fog. The remains of wood found in the
mosses are, oak, alder, birch, &c.; and there are also masses of bog-iron
ore. At no very remote period, the low grounds, commencing at the sea near
Buchanhaven, had been covered with moss. This moss had nearly joined the
one called Megg's Moss, which again passed through the lands of Auchtygall
and Collielaw, and joined the moss of Faichfield in the parish of Longside.
Excepting in those places already mentioned which are covered with
diluvial or alluvial clay, the other parts of the parish had been covered
with heath or moss, and the subsoil had been separated from the soil by
the iron incrustation already described. In these situations the soil is
various, being in most cases clay and gravel, sometimes the one and
sometimes the other predominating, arising chiefly from the decomposition
of granite and flint intermixed with remains of moss. The deposits of
gravel, flint, and clay, mixed with rounded stones or pebbles on the
hills, have evidently resulted from the action of water, as they exhibit
all the appearances of similar deposits on the shores; and these deposits
are separated from one another by incrustations of iron, lying at various
angles, and not unfrequently inclosing the deposits of gravel, &c. by
curved lines. The matters of the separated strata are often very
different, as clay, gravel, flint, &c. The plants which had grown on the
mosses and moors were chiefly heath, bent, and the coarser grasses. Upon
penetrating, however, into the subsoil, and mixing it with the top soil,
after complete drainage, clover and some of the better sorts of grass make
Zoology.—Notwithstanding the very little shelter from wood, there is
considerable variety of wild animals found in this parish. The
domesticated animals are not different from those found in other parts of
the country. Among the feathered tribe, the common hen, duck, goose,
turkey, peacock, and pigeon, are reared in abundance. Among quadrupeds
there are swine, sheep of the Cheviot and Highland breeds, and
occasionally goats, as well as many varieties of the dog and cat. Of the
larger animals there are horses, and black-cattle of the Aberdeenshire
breed. These last are well known as the cattle of the district, and have
been long esteemed for various good qualities as the polled Buchan breed.
The Teeswater or short-horned breed has lately been introduced. The
long-horned are occasionally to be seen, and many Orkney and Shetland
ponies and black-cattle are imported. The latter are generally fed, and
the beef is superior to that of the native breeds. Asses are occasionally
employed for the carriage of milk and other purposes. Of game, the hare,
rabbit, moorfowl, partridge, and snipe are the most common.
The following list of birds, killed within
fifteen miles of Peterhead, and other animals found in its vicinity during
the last ten years, has been kindly furnished by Adam Arbuthnot, Esq.
Prepared specimens of most of these have been preserved in Mr Arbuthnot's
museum,—a large collection of natural curiosities and specimens in Natural
History and mineralogy, which is obligingly shown to visitors and
strangers by the proprietor.
Quadrupeds found in the
parish and neighbourhood.
* An Albino specimen was lately found in this
t Two varieties of spotted Northern diver family, Colymbus.
Fishes.—The east coast of Scotland abounds
with great variety of fish; and, as Peterhead has been long known as an
excellent fishing station, the following attempt has been made to classify
those fishes which have been found off the coast of Peterhead, according
to the arrangement of Cuvier.
Botany.—The plants to be found in this parish
are not of very rare kinds; there is, however, considerable variety. [Vide
List in retenlis.]
Conchology.—-The following is a list of shells found on the shores of
Peterhead and the neighbouring shores of St Fergus, which were submitted
to Dr Fleming of King's College, Aberdeen, and named by him, as stated in
the Statistical Account of St Fergus.
The shores of the parish being rocky, are
covered with weed or ware to the low water-mark; and beyond it, as far as
the bottom of the sea can be seen through the water, there are forests, if
they may be so designated, of submerged algae. These are so different in
their external characters, and of such variety, that a wide field is
presented for investigation and classification. A few of those best known
and most abundant may be named, viz.
Fungi.— Of these there are many species
growing on the links and by the sides of dikes. The Agaricus campestris,
or common mushroom, is very abundant, and is gathered for catsup sauce.
Lichens and musci are also to be found in
great variety upon the rocks and shrubs, and in the mosses; and afford an
ample field for investigation to those already acquainted in some degree,
or desirous of becoming acquainted, with this branch of natural history.
II.— Civil History.
Peterhead is mentioned in various acts of the
Scottish Parliament. The original charter of erection has been published.
It is a very distinct deed, and shows the commencement of the burgh of
barony, and the vocations of the original inhabitants.
Account of the Parish.—The late Dr William
Laing, of the Episcopal chapel of Peterhead, published, in 1793, "An
Account of Peterhead, its mineral wells, air, and neighborhood." The
Statistical Account of Dr Moir was published in 1795. In 1815, the late
James Arbuthnot, Junior, Esq. published "An Historical Account of
Peterhead, from the earliest period to the present time, comprehending tin
account of its trade, shipping, commerce, and manufactures; mineral wells,
baths, &c. with an Appendix containing a copy of the charter of erection,"
&c. In 1819, Mr Peter Buchan published "Annals of Peterhead," containing
the same information as Mr Arbuthnot's account, with such additional
matter as he had been able to collect.
Historical Notices.—The Earls Marischall had
their chief residence at Inverugie Castle, on the opposite side of the
Ugie, in the parish of St Fergus; but a large portion of the parish of
Peterhead was embraced in their estates. It would be out of place here to
enter into a historical account of that ancient family, which will be
found in the general history of Scotland. The founder of Peterhead was
also the founder of Marischall College, Aberdeen. The last Earl forfeited
his estates in 1715, in consequence of his adherence to the family of
Stuart. The Pretender landed at Peterhead in December 1715. The
inhabitants were attached to the Marischall family, and in general
embraced their views; and, in consequence, they on that occasion espoused
the claims of the house of Stuart.
There have been six Presbyterian ministers
since the Revolution, viz. Mr Guthrie, Mr Brown, Mr Farquhar, Mr Walker,
Dr George Moir, and the present incumbent, Mr Donald. Two of them, Mr
Brown and Mr Farquhar, left Peterhead, and were settled, the former at
Belhelvie, and the other at Chapel of Garioch.
Land-owners—The present heritors of the parish
are, the Governors of the Merchant Maiden Hospital of Edinburgh; Mrs
Gordon of Boddam and Sandford; George Skelton of Invernettie Lodge; George
Arbuthnot of Invernettie; William Arbuth-not of Dens and Downie-hills; Dr
Cruickshank of Little Cock-law; George Mudie of Meethill; Thomas Arbuthnot
of part of Meethill; James Sangster, part of Invernettie; Kenneth
M'In-tosh, part of Invernettie; Charles Brand, part of Invernettie;
William Donaldson of Cowhills; William Gamack, part of Invernettie; Robert
Arbuthnot of Mount Pleasant and Blackhouse; George Walker of Balmoor; Mrs
Walker's Trustees, part of Balmoor; Robert Walker, Senior, Grange; Robert
Walker, Junior, Richmond; Alexander Stuart, Coplandshill; the Heirs of
James Hutchison of Richmond; the Trust-Disponees of Mrs Hay Mudie of
Meikle Cocklaw; the Trustees of the late Peter Hay of Hayfield; James
Shirras of Berryhill; Robert Mayor of Windy-hills; the Heirs of James Reid
of Ellishill; and Roderick Gray, part of Blackhill.
Antiquities.-—There are two old castles in the
parish, Ravens-crag and Boddam. Ravenscrag, in the barony of Torterston,
is said to have belonged to the family of Keith, who afterwards acquired
the lands of Inverugie by marriage. It is a fine ruin and specimen of an
old baronial castle. The walls are in some places eleven feet thick. It is
supposed to have been built in the eleventh or twelfth century. Boddam
Castle was the residence of a branch of the Marischall family: but it is
not so ancient as Ravenscrag. Within the last twenty years various
antiquities have been discovered within the parish of Peterhead and its
immediate neighbourhood. On the estate of Cairngall, in the adjoining
parish of Longside, two oak coffins or chests were discovered on removing
a tumulus of moss. One of them was entire, the other was not. They had
been hollowed out of solid trees, and measured each seven feet by two
feet. The sides were parallel, and the ends were rounded, and had two
projecting knobs to facilitate their carriage. The bark of the trees of
which they had been formed remained on them, and was in the most perfect
state of preservation. No vestige of bones was found in either of them.
They had been covered over with slabs of wood, and lay east and west,
which indicated they had been used as coffins; but the absence of bones or
other human remains is difficult to be accounted for. In the parish of
Cruden, in a little hill, about four feet below its apex, a stone crypt or
sarcophagus was discovered, containing a considerable portion of two human
skeletons; the one that of an adult, the other of a young person, perhaps
of twelve or thirteen years of age; and also part of the skeleton of a
dog; two clay urns, (a larger and a lesser one,) rudely ornamented with
bars or hoops scratched around the outside of them; seven flint arrow
points; two flint knives, (one of them considerably worn); a polished
stone about four and one-fourth inches in length, neatly drilled through
its four corners, and slightly concave on the one side, and convex on the
other. It is probable the polished stone had been applied to the centre of
the bow, to secure a more accurate discharge of the arrow. A neck chain
and battle-axe were dug out of a tumulus near to the place in the parish
of Cruden, where it is supposed that Malcolm II. and Canute fought a
severe battle, and where many tumuli were formerly to be seen. The neck
chain is formed of jet and amber. The jet beads retain their original
polish. The lower bead measures about four inches, the others from two and
a half inches to one inch. These beads were separated from one another by
little formless masses of amber, covered with a brown crust; but otherwise
the amber was unchanged, unless that it may have been more brittle. The
battle-axe is formed of black flint. It is about seven inches long, and is
less heavy than those generally found; most of which are formed of
granulated stones, and are larger and weightier than the one above alluded
to. The necklace had no doubt adorned the person of some Scandinavian
flagon, of no inelegant shape, and capable of holding nearly a Scotch
pint, was discovered in cutting a deep water course through a peat bog.
The metal was considerably oxidized. From the form of the flagon
antiquaries suppose it to have been in use about the time of James IV. or
V. of Scotland. A small shot of malleable iron was dug out near the base
of Ravenscrag Castle. It is one inch and three-quarters in diameter, and
is the second one found near the same place. It is supposed that it had
been discharged from a wall-piece, and that the wall-piece had been fired
from the Castle of Inverugie, on the opposite side of the river. These
antiquities are noticed here in consequence of having been investigated by
Mr Arbuthnot, and a record of them preserved in his musuem.
Upon the top of Meethill, about a mile and a
quarter from Peterhead, there was a tumulus which had been allowed to
remain for ages untouched; and tradition assigned to it the place where
justice had been administered, and where the ashes of some chief reposed.
The inhabitants of Peterhead received the
promise of a perpetual right to this tumulus, and about a quarter of an
acre of ground around it, in order to build a tower upon it, in honour of
Earl Grey and his political principles. In digging for a foundation a
stone crypt was found, containing an urn, or what had been used as such,
very different in shape, however, from common urns, being long and broad,
and much in the shape of a bowl or dish. Around the mouth, it was
ornamented by a band of circular impressions, in depth nearly one-eighth
of an inch, and in field rather larger than a shilling. The human remains
found were very few, being only a fragment or two of the leg or thigh
bones, and part of the lower jaw, with the teeth still adhering. These
remains were placed in a glass case, and exhibited to the public, at one
shilling a head, and the proceeds applied towards the expense of the
tower; which, however, still remains in an unfinished state.
On the north side of the Den of Boddam, in a
deep morass, there are various pits, generally known by the name of the
Picts Camps; but they are with greater probability supposed to have been
an encampment of the Danes, when they made landings on the east coast of
Buildings.—The Town-House, situated in Broad Street, was built in 1788. It
consists of two floors and a ground area. The ground floor is used for
shops, the first floor is occupied for school-rooms, and the second is
used for public business. It is surmounted by a handsome spire of granite,
125 feet in height.
The parish church is situated at the entrance of the town; it was built in
1803, and is calculated to contain upwards of 1800 sitters. It also has a
spire built of granite, 118 feet in height; The building of this church
gave rise to an important question, viz. whether the feuars in the town
were obliged to bear a share of the expense along with the landward
heritors, which was litigated in the Court of Session and House of Peers.
It was finally decided that the building of the church was a parochial
burden, and that the heritors and feuars were liable in this burden
according to their real rents. The church is in good repair, and has
lately been lighted with gas.
The Episcopal Chapel, in Merchant Street, is a
very neat building, having a Gothic front of axe-dressed granite. It was
built in 1814, and is calculated to contain 800 sitters.
The present Cross was erected in 1832, partly
by voluntary subscription, on the occasion of the inhabitants obtaining
the privilege of voting for a Member of Parliament. It is a Tuscan pillar
of granite, surmounted by the arms of Earl Marischal!, the founder of the
various public halls in the town for the accommodation of those who
require them: a reading-room, a billiard-room, and hot and cold baths.
The houses, both in the town and parish, are
in general built of granite, of excellent quality and colour, found in the
neighbourhood. Many of the fronts are ashlar, pick-dressed, while others
are axe-dressed and closely jointed.
Other Buildings.—There are two mills within
the town, one impelled by wind and the other by steam, for sawing timber.
There are also two mills in the parish for manufacturing grain, chiefly
for the London market; one at Ravenscrag, and the other at In-vernettie,
both of which carry on a considerable trade. On the estate of Boddam there
is a spinning and carding-mill, impelled partly by water and partly by
Although there does not appear to have been any official record of the
population previous to the year 1764, Dr Moir, from data contained in the
charter of erection, estimated the inhabitants at that time, 1593, to
amount to 56. From an anonymous manuscript, he found that in 1727 they
amounted to 900.
surface of the parish, exclusive of that part on which the town of
Peterhead is built, extends to 9006 imperial acres, as nearly as can be at
present ascertained; about 8266 acres are under cultivation; about 72 are
planted; about 544 may still be brought into cultivation, including what
is under moss servitude; the remainder of 124 acres can only be partially
cultivated, in consequence of rock rising to the surface.
Planting.—Planting on the east coast of
Scotland, especially near to Peterhead, has hitherto been attempted only
to a limited extent. The attempts which have been made have succeeded
better than was anticipated. Near the sea hard-wood, chiefly ash, elm,
birch, beech, mountain-ash, plane, alder, and willows have been planted.
The first trees which had been planted in this parish last century were at
Ellishill and Invernettie, and, notwithstanding the little extent and want
of shelter, they have risen to a considerable size, and are still
James Ferguson, Esq. of Pitfour, planted some small clumps and corners on
the estates of Balmoor and Richmond ; these have made considerable
progress, and continue in a healthy state. The Governors of the Merchant
Maiden Hospital planted a small belt around a piece of ground about half a
mile from Peterhead, intended to be a public garden. This belt continued
to thrive for some years, and the trees made rapid progress; but for two
or three years in succession, owing to north-easterly storms, the leaves
were destroyed about the month of May ; and, in consequence, a
considerable number of the trees died. The blanks, however, have been
filled up with young plants, which are thriving.
George Arbuthnot, Esq. of Invernettie, has
planted about seven and a half acres. The plants which he used were, ash,
elm, plane, Dutch alder, birch, lime, horse-chestnut, and mountain-ash;
and he mentions that the alder, ash, plane, and elm have succeeded best.
He also tried some of the fir tribes, which did not succeed at first; but
he now finds that the white American spruce and silver firs are making
strong and healthy shoots.
At some distance from the sea, and where the
elevation above it is greater, about forty acres have been planted with
Scotch fir, larch, and spruce, by the Governors of the Merchant Maiden
Hospital. Whether the wood may come to be of value remains to be seen. On
the east coast, the young trees are often destroyed by the north-easterly
storms, from which they require to be sheltered, by being planted very
thick, especially on the side exposed to the sea. Early pruning seems very
detrimental, if not performed sparingly.
Rent.—The rent of the arable land within the
parish may be stated at from 5s. to L. 6 per acre, according to the
quality and situation.
Live-Stock.—The cattle raised are chiefly of
the polled Buchan breed. Of late the Teeswater short horns have been
partially introduced, and crossed with the native breed. Differences of
opinion are entertained regarding the Teeswater cattle and the cross
breeds from them,—some being of opinion that the Teeswater come much
sooner to maturity at not much more expense for rearing, and yield equally
good milk and beef; while others think that the native breed is more
easily reared, yielding better milk and flesh, and, with equal attention,
would come to the same weight, although not in the same time. Both breeds
are allowed to be excellent of their kind, and farther experience can
alone determine whether the one is destined to supersede the other; or if
both should be retained, and kept distinct or crossed.
Sheep are not reared in sufficient numbers to
deserve any particular remarks. The horses are also of the native breed,
and are well fitted for the cart or plough. The following is nearly the
number of the live-stock in the parish in February 1837, viz.— horses,
417; stots or oxen, 554; cows, 775; calves, 181; sheep, 108; swine, 99.
Husbandry.—In the immediate neighbourhood of
the town, the lands are let in small lots to the inhabitants on leases of
eight years, and the following rotations are followed:—A four-shift
course, consisting of one division in turnips or potatoes ; one division
in bear or oats, sown with grass seeds; one division in grass ; and one
division in bear or oats, after grass; or potatoes from two years old
grass; oats or bear after potatoes or turnips with grass seeds; first
year's grass and second year's grass. In some instances, the lots are
nearly all in grass, in consequence of the rents received from fishermen
employed in the herring fishery, who pay from L. 2 to L. 6 per acre for
the use of the ground to dry their nets. Upon the farms in the parish, the
rotation is generally either a five or a seven-course shift. The
five-course shift consists of two grass crops in two successive years, one
white crop after lea, a green crop or fallow, and then another white crop.
The seven course shift consists of three grass crops in three successive
years, two white crops after lea, a green crop or fallow, and then another
the last thirty years, the improvements in agriculture have been very
extensive; the whole lands in the parish have been drained, and roads have
been made for the accommodation of the farms. A regular system of farming
has been adopted ; the fields have been laid out, and, in many cases,
enclosed to answer the improved system of cropping ; and an extent of
waste land, not less than 1500 imperial acres, has been brought into
cultivation. Much benefit has been derived from deep ploughing, so as to
mix the subsoil with the topsoil, and to destroy the ferruginous
incrustation or pan, which in many places divided the one from the other,
and rendered the soil impervious to water. By attending to the
improvements already effected, and adopting, when necessary, the same
means, much may still be done to increase the value of land in this
parish, as there are many facilities of obtaining manure from the town of
Peterhead, which do not exist in more remote parishes.
Improvements.—It may not be out of place here
to mention shortly the progressive improvements of the parish, and the
means by which they have been effected. At the time of the last
Statistical Account, the alternate system of husbandry had not been
adopted, and the state of agriculture had not been much improved for a
very considerable period before. The late James Ferguson, Esq. of Pitfour,
was the first who introduced the alternate system of husbandry. He gave an
example of the great benefit resulting from good farming upon the estate
of Balmoor, by draining, inclosing, dividing into regular fields, planting
clumps of wood, fallowing, liming, green-cropping, and laying out in
grass. A considerable part of this estate remains in grass, as laid out by
Pit-four, and returns high rents. The estates of Peterhead, Clerk-hill,
Auchtygall, and Torterston, belonging to the Merchant Maiden Hospital of
Edinburgh, and the estates of Invernettie and Boddam, were the next which
began to be improved. The tenants were bound to a regular rotation of
cropping, roads were made, the old fences were levelled, open ditches and
drains were formed, hedges were planted, the old ridges levelled, and the
land divided into regular fields to answer the rotations agreed upon. The
same means were resorted to upon the other estates in the parish, and the
fields soon exhibited a very improved appearance, and became of much
greater value, both to the proprietors and tenants.
The improvements on the estates of the
Merchant Maiden Hospital have been extensive;—8851 ells of old feal dikes
were pulled down and levelled; 28,285 ells of open drains or ditches have
been cut; 11,146 ells of covered drains or sewers, built on both sides,
and covered with granite, were made; 26,900 ells of double ditch and sunk
or mound between the two ditches, planted with double hedges of hawthorn,
and 3786 ells of double stone dikes have been formed and built; and 13,155
ells of roads have been made for the accommodation of the tenants.
While the already cultivated land was thus
under progressive improvement, the waste and (hitherto) uncultivated
ground was not neglected. Considerable progress was made by trenching with
the spade and mattock, on the estate of Invernettie, and the other estates
in the parish; but this mode was too expensive to afford a reasonable
return for the capital expended. It was afterwards found that it was
possible to improve these lands by the plough, and this method was adopted
very extensively on the estates of the Merchant Maiden Hospital, and is
now very generally followed on other estates. It is shortly as follows:
First, To remove the stones from the surface, and from the soil in so far
as they can be seen; and this is done more easily, and at less expense,
while the surface has not been broken. Second, To drain the land
effectually ; and it has been found that one very deep drain, properly
placed, supersedes the necessity of many others. Third, If the upper soil
is worthless, to plough it slightly, and burn the heath and dead moss,
which may be done at a very trifling expense in dry weather. Fourth, To
plough the land with a very strong trench plough, drawn by four steady
horses or oxen, taking care to keep the plough below the moorband, where
such exists. The first ploughing with the trench plough should be done
when the land is wet; during the dry season, in most cases, it would be
impracticable. Fifth, After the land has been trench ploughed, the stones
that have been ploughed up are also removed, inequalities in the soil are
made up by a levelling box, and the land is regularly fallowed, dunged,
limed, and cropped according to the nature of the soil.
By the means which have now been mentioned,
407 acres on the Blackhill of Peterhead, belonging to the Merchant Maiden
Hospital, have been brought into cultivation, which had been reported upon
by the late Mr Alexander Low of Berwickshire as follows: "The hill is very
worthless, and bids defiance to the operation of the plough for
improvement." This hill is now nearly all under a regular system of
cultivation, and yields crops nearly equal to the formerly cultivated
lands in the neighbourhood. In improving this hill, roads have been made
to the extent of 3780 ells; earth fences, 3621 ells; open and covered
drains, 5312 ells; and stone dikes, about 4000 ells.
Rental.— At the time of the last Statistical
Account, the rental of the parish amounted to L. 3000; in 1803, it was L.
4094; in 1837, it amounted to L. 10,136.
The following account is given to show the
number of acres brought into cultivation in this parish since 1795, the
estates on which these are situated, and the extent remaining uncultivated
and waste at the present time:
Produce.—It is somewhat difficult to
approximate very near to the truth, in estimating the gross value of the
produce of this parish, owing to the produce of the lands in the immediate
neighbourhood of the town being of considerably greater value than that of
those parts of the parish lying at a distance, and the great difference in
the rents of the one from the other; but the following may be taken as
being not very far from a fair estimate.
The cultivated land is 8309 acres. The
rotations are seven, five, and four. Assume a five shift rotation, viz.—
It has been generally held that the value of
the gross produce of land should be about equal to thrice the amount of
the rental, thus
And the amount approximates very near to that
of the value of the gross produce as given above.
Quarries.—There are extensive quarries of
granite in the parish. From Stirlinghill, stones have been taken for the
building of various public works, including the Naval Docks at Sheerness,
bridges, pedestals, the pillar at the Horse Guards, Carlton Gardens, to
the memory of the Duke of York, &c. Blocks of large size may be raised,
and the granite is of excellent quality, resembling, perhaps, nearer than
any other rock in this country, the Egyptian granite or syenite. It admits
of being finely polished, and is now extensively used for that purpose by
Mr Alexander Macdonald of Aberdeen, who has erected a steam engine for
polishing granite, and has produced very fine specimens of his work, in
chimney-pieces, pillars, pedestals, vases, &c. As granite can be polished
at less expense and in a more perfect manner, by steam than by manual
labour, it is likely to come into general use. The granite of Peterhead is
not inferior to that of Stirlinghill, while it is clearer in colour. At
Salthousehead is a quarry of beautiful gray or white granite of excellent
quality, but the rock is covered with a thick mass of clay. The quarries
on the Blackhill are extensive, and afford blocks of large size ; the
colour is somewhat different from that of the Stirlinghill or Peterhead
rock, but it is equally durable and more easily wrought in the quarry,
being generally of large sizes with open joints, and admitting of being
easily squared by the hammer. The granite of Blackhill, in one quarry, is
similar to that of Salthousehead.
The following is an account of the granite
shipped at Peterhead, from February 1817 to January 1822:—
From the inexhaustible resources arising from
these quarries, the excellent and durable quality of the rock, and their
proximity to the harbours of Peterhead and Boddam, there can be little
doubt, that, in the execution of public works of importance, the working
of them will afford employment to many labourers, and tend to the
improvement of the neighbourhood.
Fisheries.—'The fisheries of Peterhead have
always been of great importance to the town. The whale-fishery was for
many years of the first importance; of late it has not been attended with
its former success; but there are still ten vessels employed in that
trade, and it is not improbable that it may again become more successful,
as the late failures have been occasioned more by bad seasons and an
altered state of the ice at the fishing ground, than by a decrease in the
number of the whales.
It may be interesting to trace the success of
the vessels belonging to Peterhead, employed in the Greenland and Davis'
Straits Whale Fisheries since the commencement of that trade in 1788 to
the present time. With this view the following account of the success of
these vessels, collected from the best sources of information, is given:
The altered state of the whale fishing has
been made up in a great measure to the community by the success which has
of late attended the herring fishery. Notwithstanding the Dutch had from
time immemorial carried on a successful herring fishery on the coast
opposite to Peterhead, it is not many years since this fishery was
prosecuted to any extent at this place. It commenced in 1820, at the
suggestion of the writer of this account, by the gentlemen of Peterhead,
who entered into subscriptions with him to give it a fair trial, and it
has gone on increasing gradually and steadily. Last season 262 boats were
employed, and upwards of 40,000 barrels of herrings were caught. It is
supposed that Peterhead, being farther east than any other point in
Scotland, must at all times be one of the best stations for carrying on
the herring fishery, as, if the fish pass along the coast, they must pass
very near to this headland; and as the tides are strong, the best fish can
only make head against them. In point of fact, the curers acknowledge that
the herrings caught at Peterhead are of superior quality.
The shoals of herrings are followed by spout
whales, and an attempt, not without success, was last season made to catch
these whales. The necessary apparatus was invented by Mr Robert Hutchison
of this place; and there remains little doubt that, in the present season,
he will be able to establish the practicability of whale fishing on our
own shores ; and thus introduce a trade which may be of no small
consequence to the country. Mr Hutchison's object is to kill the large
finners. Last season he succeeded in killing three; but in consequence of
their having sunk, he afterwards lost them. When they had lain some time
at the bottom, they again floated, in consequence of the expansion of
gases generated in them, and were afterwards found. He thinks, however,
that this season he will be able to keep hold of them by the lines. The
cod, ling, haddock, and whiting, are to be found in great abundance on
this coast, and are caught and exported in their seasons. Besides these,
flounders of all kinds, roughback, plaise, sole, halibut, turbot, skate,
dog, and catfish, and a great variety of others, including the lobster,
mackerel, and crab are to be found. All these afford ample means for the
extension of the white fishery, and a mine of wealth yet remains to be
explored as a reward to the exertions of those who may embark in the
fisheries at Peterhead.
Manufactures.—There are no extensive
manufactures of woollen or cotton goods in Peterhead; there are, however,
experienced and well employed tradesmen and mechanics in every department
usually found in larger towns. It is to be regretted that manufactures
have not hitherto been introduced. Peterhead seems well adapted for such
establishments ; for although there are not sufficient waterfalls near the
town, there are such in the parish. There is a sufficient quantity of
water in the town for working by steam, and the harbours afford facilities
for exporting and importing. As has been before-mentioned, a carding and
spinning-mill, on a small scale, has lately been erected on the estate of
Boddam; and if the projector of it shall be successful, others may be
induced to commence works of a similar nature, a sufficient quantity of
water could be accumulated as a moving power, and there are various falls
From the increase of population in Peterhead,
the excellence of the harhours, the highly cultivated district adjoining,
the consequent abundance of provisions, and the excellent and cheap
materials for building, found in the neighbourhood, it may be presumed
that those having a knowledge of manufactures would find it their interest
to settle at Peterhead.
Brick-work.—The Invernettie brick-work has
been in operation for about forty years. It is now within the
Parliamentary boundary of the burgh, and is situated about a mile to the
south of the town. The bed of clay is wrought to the depth of thirty to
forty feet. Building bricks and tiles of excellent quality are made at
this work; and, besides what are required in the district, a very
considerable quantity is exported annually, chiefly to the Moray Frith.
The proprietors have lately erected a small harbour in the immediate
vicinity of the work, for the accommodation of their trade.
Rope-work-—A rope-work is carried on, on the
west side of the turnpike road, between the town and the brick-work, and
another in the town. The business done is considerable, chiefly in making
ropes for ships belonging to Peterhead, or frequenting the port.
Gas-work.—In 1833, a joint-stock company was
established in Peterhead for the manufacture of gas. The buildings are
situated in Longate, and the business is conducted by a board of directors
and a manager.
Kelp or Sea-ware.—The kelp shores in this parish during the late war were
of considerable value, yielding a rental of upwards of L. 120 per annum.
They are now unlet, as it has been found here that kelp will not yield
more than the expense of manufacturing it; it is, therefore, of importance
to find out any other useful purpose to which the sea-ware or fuci can be
applied. It will be found that the kelp-ware may be cut, dried, and
carried to a considerable distance at less expense than the wet ware cast
on shore by the violence of the sea; and a single cart-load of dried ware
is equal to six cart-loads of wet ware,—for example, a cartload may be cut
and carried on shore for 6d. and dried for 3d., which is equal to 4s. 6d.
for a load of dried ware; and as six loads of wet ware are only equal to
one of dry ware, and the expense of carrying a load of wet ware to a
distance of four miles is 2s., the carriage of the six loads would be
12s., while an equal quantity of dried ware would only cost for cutting
and drying 4s. 6d. and carriage 2s., in all 6s. 6d., leaving a balance of
5s. 6d. in favour of the dried ware when carried an equal distance,
supposing it, in either case, to be got without any other price than the
expense of cutting and gathering. It will also be found that the ware does
not lose any of its powers as a manure by being dried. The ware may be
used, 1st, mixed with earth or peat-moss, by which it is decomposed; 2d,
mixed with stable-yard dung; 3d, as a litter for cattle or horses; 4th, as
fodder (in part) for cattle, it having been found that cattle will feed
upon it. The three first of these uses have been experimented upon with
success in this parish. The last suggestion, that it might be used for the
purpose of feeding cattle, would require to be more fully put to the test
of experience before any thing can be asserted with confidence regarding
its qualities in that respect. During the last season, it was, in a few
cases, used for the above purpose, and said to be relished by the cattle.
The best mode of using it would, perhaps, be to cut it along with the
straw, and mix both together. It is probable, that it might be improved by
being steamed before being used. It may be added that the species of ware
most esteemed by kelp-makers, called black ware, will be found to be more
powerful as a manure than the red ware cast upon the shores during storms.
In both cases, whether used as a manure or for feeding cattle, it is an
object well worth the attention of agriculturists near the coast; and it
is to be hoped that experiments may be made, and the result communicated
to the public.
Town of Peterhead.—The town of Peterhead
stands upon a peninsula projecting into the German Ocean, and forming the
most easterly point of land in Scotland. The isthmus which connects the
town and country part of the parish is about 800 yards in breadth. Dr Moir
states that the town, which had then been only a small fishing village,
with the adjoining lands of considerable value, belonged to the abbey of
Deer in 1560, and that, in that year, Queen Mary appointed Robert Keith,
son of William fourth Earl Marischall, commendator of Deer. Peterhead was
erected into a burgh of barony by George Earl Marischall in 1593. It
continued a part of the estates of the Earls Marischall until the
attainder of the last Earl, in consequence of his accession to the
Rebellion in 1715. It was then purchased by the York-Buildings Company,
who sold it to the present proprietors, the Governors of Maiden Hospital,
founded by the Company of Merchants of the city of Edinburgh and Mary
Erskine, in 1728.
The original inhabitants appear to have been
fishers, and the chief trade carried on at Peterhead, for a long time
after it became a burgh of barony, was the white-fishing, in which the
proprietor had an interest by drawing teinds of the fish caught. The
fishermen were taken bound to assist in the erection of a harbour, which
they did, and which still remains under the name of Port Henry. By the
original charter in 1593, the Earl Marischall established a municipal
government in the town in the following terms: "For gyding and rewiling of
the quilk brugh, the said Erle and his foresaidis sall elect, nominat, and
chuse baillies, clerkes, and otheres officeares, necessares and meit for
the governement of the samin, of the nichbouris, and fewares of the said
brugh, actuall in-duellers for the time, within the same, the said Erle
alwyse and his foresaidis remaning proveist or sd baillie yairof," &c. And
this system of municipal government continued until the passing of the
Parliamentary Burgh Reform Act. By this act the munipal government has
been vested in twelve councillors, who, from their own number, choose a
provost, three baillies, and a treasurer, and the boundaries of the town
have been defined and considerably extended, embracing part of the lands
of Black House and Invernettie, beyond the limits of the barony of
Peterhead. The barony of Peterhead, besides the estates of Peterhead
proper, embraces the lands of Clerkhill, Auchtygall, and Collielaw. The
lands of Torterston are erected into a separate barony, under the name of
the Barony of Torterston.
The town of Peterhead has been much extended,
and the number of its inhabitants has greatly increased since the last
Statistical Account was written. The ground now occupied by the town
extends to about 70 imperial acres, of which about 20 are occupied by
streets. The length of the streets is about 4 miles 5 furlongs and 148
yards. The number of inhabited houses is about 1000. The rental of houses
and warehouses in the town is about L.7500.
Ronheads.—The Ronheads is situated within the
burgh, opposite a ridge of rocks on the north side of the north harbour.
It is inhabited chiefly by fishermen, who supply the town with fish, and
act as pilots. Some of these at least may be reasonably supposed to he
descendants of the original inhabitants. They have hitherto got the
stances of their houses rent free, in consequence of being bound by the
original charter to pay teind fish to the proprietors of the ground. Owing
to the fishermen being also pilots, and some of them seamen and
shipmasters, they do not pay that attention to the fishing which its
importance deserves. The original harbour, built in 1593, and named Port
Henry, is occupied by the fishermen's boats.
Buchanhaven.—This village is also now within
the Parliamentary boundary of the burgh. The inhabitants are employed in
the white and herring fisheries. Five herring boats, and five
white-fishing boats belong to it. A small harbour has been erected for the
accommodation of the fishermen belonging to the village.
Community of Feuars.— Certain properties and
privileges of commonty and common pasturage, fuel, feal, and divot were
granted to the original feuars of Peterhead, by Earl Marischall in the
charter of erection. In 1774, these properties and privileges were
confirmed by the Governors of the Merchant Maiden Hospital, who agreed to
divide the commonties, and they accordingly conveyed those parts of them
which fell to their feuars, to certain of the feuars, for themselves, as
feuars of the town of Peterhead, and as trustees for and in name of the
haill other (then) feuars thereof, and of all such persons as should at
any time thereafter become feuars of the said town or lands, and the heirs
and successors of all (the then) present and future feuars, to be improved
and applied as a majority of the said feuars, at the time, and from time
to time, should think fit, for the public good and utility of the said
town. In the charters subsequently granted a share of these properties and
privileges is conveyed to the individual feuars. The rental of the feuars'
properties now amounts to about L. 260 per annum. These properties are
claimed by the magistrates, in virtue of the Burgh Reform Act; and this
claim has been resisted on the part of the hospital and their feuars, on
the ground that the same are private property, arising out of legal deeds
between superior and vassal. In order to have this point decided, mutual
actions of declarator have been raised, and are now depending in the
Supreme Court. These actions, it is probable, would not have been
necessary if proper inquiries had been made before the act was passed.
Museum belonging to Adam Arbuthnot, Esq.—The
formation of this museum has been the work of about twenty years. It
contains subjects and specimens connected with the various branches of
natural history, mineralogy, geology, &c. There is also a collection of
antiquities, a portion of which is rendered particularly interesting, as
they have been found in our own country, and some of them in our own
immediate neighbourhood. The museum em-; braces likewise a valuable and
interesting collection of coins. The English coins embrace the whole
period from the time of Edgar to that of William IV; the Scotch, from
William the Lion to James VI. The Grecian coins consist of those of the
principal petty states; of Philip, King of Macedon, and Alexander the
Great. The Roman coins comprehend not only those of the Emperors, but also
of the consuls, coadjutors, and usurpers. The museum is always accessible
to the public.
Police.— The town of Peterhead obtained an act
of Parliament, in 1820, for supplying the inhabitants with water, and for
paving, lighting, and otherwise improving the streets. Previous to the
passing of this act, the inhabitants were supplied with water from the
roofs of their houses, or from wells dug in the neighbourhood of them; and
in either case the supply was precarious, and the water of bad quality.
Considerable expense had been incurred in searching for good spring water
within a moderate distance from the town, but without success. At length,
in draining upon the estate of Auchtigall, a very copious spring was
found, yielding upwards of forty gallons of pure spring water per minute.
This spring is now conveyed to the town, a distance of 2 miles, 5
furlongs, and 10 yards; and the inhabitants enjoy the comfort of an
adequate supply of excellent water fit for every domestic purpose. Before
the Police Act was obtained, the streets had been much improved by
removing obstructions and inequalities, and substituting metalling for
rough undressed stones, with which they were paved. Side paths were laid
off, and paved either with dressed granite, or crib and pebbles. The
expenses incurred in bringing water into the town amounted to L.3167. The
annual rate of assessment has hitherto been 1s. 9d. per pound, which is
applied to pay the interest of the money borrowed, and for lighting the
streets and executing the other purposes of the act.
Post-Office.—-The revenue of the post-office
for the last seven years has been as under.
making in all L. 5724, 12s. 0˝d., which,
divided by seven, gives for the average revenue L.817, 16s.
Turnpike Roads.—The turnpike roads are, the
south road to Aberdeen, the west to Banff, and the north to Fraserburgh,
amounting altogether in length to about nine or ten miles within the
Coaches.—There are four coaches connected with
Peterhead: the Mail to and from Aberdeen daily; the Mail to and from Banff
daily; the Defiance stage-coach to and from Aberdeen daily; and the Lord
Saltoun stage-coach betwixt Peterhead and Fraserburgh every alternate day.
The Harbours.—These harbours, from their
peculiar situation at the termination of the most easterly promontory of
land in Scotland, and the great resort to them, deserve particular notice.
The earliest notice taken of these harbours is
in the charter of erection of the town of Peterhead, by George Earl
Marischall, in 1593. In that charter the Earl binds himself to "build ane
bulwark in the mouth of the haven called Port Henry. This bulwark was
accordingly erected by his Lordship, and is the same formerly noticed as
being used by the fishermen in the Ronheads for landing their boats. The
bulwark is built in a very rough manner, with masses of undressed granite.
It has never required to be repaired, and the original pieces of oak
timber used as mooring posts, are still in a serviceable state. This
harbour is capable of holding from six to eight vessels, not exceeding 100
tons bur-den; but is seldom used except by the fishermen for their boats.
It does not appear at what time the south
haven or harbour had been erected, but it does not seem to have been of
much importance at the beginning of last century; for in 1702, the whole
revenue arising from it was only L. 71, 6s. Scots, and it was capable of
containing a very few vessels of small size. It would seem that at this
time the pier of the harbour had fallen into decay, and was in need of
repair. In the year 1705, in consequence of the great public utility of
these harbours, an act of the Privy-council of Scotland was passed,
authorizing a voluntary contribution for repairing the harbours of
Peterhead, to be made throughout the three Lothians, and all north of the
Forth. No collection, however, was made in consequence of this act, the
Earl Marischall having been of opinion that he would be able to obtain
more efficient assistance from the British Parliament; but in consequence
of his being engaged soon after in the Rebellion, the matter was never by
him brought before Parliament, and the harbour continued in the same
ruinous state at the time of his forfeiture in 1716.
The estate and harbours of Peterhead, after
Earl Marischal!'s attainder, were purchased from Government by the
York-Buildings Company; but this company adopted no measures for repairing
the harbours, although a petition was presented to the managers, pointing
out the urgent necessity of having them repaired. In 1726, the estate was
sold, along with the harbours, to the Governors of the Merchant Maiden
Hospital of Edinburgh, who still continue superiors of the town and
harbours. At that time, from the limited extent of the harbours, and the
state of repair they had fallen into, the revenue amounted only to L. 12
per annum ; and only three small vessels belonged to the port. In July
1729, an act of the Convention of Royal Burghs was obtained in favour of
the town of Peterhead, for a voluntary contribution throughout all the
burghs of the country for repairing these harbours. It does not appear
what the extent of the contribution obtained was, but it would appear it
had not been adequate to the repairs, for, in 1730, the ship-masters of
Leith, and merchants of Edinburgh gave an attestation of the great public
utility of these harbours; and the town council of Edinburgh authorized a
collection to be made in all the churches of the city and its
neighbourhood, which was made accordingly, and amounted to L. 240, 14s.
6d. Sterling; and so much anxiety was evinced for the repairs of these
harbours, that, in February 1740, an assembly was held in Edinburgh in aid
of the other collections for this purpose.
From the year 1740 to the year 1771, it may be
supposed that the trade of the town had not made rapid progress;—the
following being the annual amount of the harbour duties at different
periods in that interval; in 1741, L. 20, 8s. 4d.; 1751, L.30; 1761, L.50,
15s.; 1771, L. 59, 10s.
In 1771, it would appear that the south
harbour had again fallen into disrepair, and, with the aid of
contributions from the royal burghs, from the superiors, from private
individuals, and from money raised upon the security of the property
belonging to the community of feuars, the harbour began to be again
repaired. About this time the plan of the present south harbour was
obtained from the late Mr Smeaton, engineer, and the building of it
according to his plan commenced in June 1773. The construction of the old
south harbour was just the reverse of that of the new one. The old harbour
was enclosed by two curved piers towards the sea, having an opening for
the mouth, and the effect of this was, that the harbour was not quiet
within. The present south pier is concave towards the sea, so as to make
the waves run along it from each end until they meet in the centre, when
they destroy each other and are thrown off seaward. The west pier is
nearly at right angles with the south pier, and is covered by it, and the
former has a jetty running eastward, parallel with the south pier, which
protects the interior of the harbour from the seas which may yet get round
the end of the south pier.
By a contract entered into between the
governors of the hospital and their feuars in 1774, the latter
acknowledged that the harbours, quays, anchorages, shore-dues, and petty
customs, and emoluments arising therefrom, were disponed, and belonged to
the hospital as part of their estate. Nevertheless, the governors, for the
encouragement of their feuars, and for promoting the public good and
utility of the town, agreed that the rents and profits of these subjects
should be received and applied by their feuars for the time being, or the
majority of them, for enlarging, building, repairing, and upholding the
harbours, piers, shores, and other public works within the town, in time
coming, but always under the inspection, and subject to the control of the
governors, or such person or persons as they should appoint, from time to
time, for that purpose. The piers of the south harbour were completed in
1781, and cost L. 3256, 6s. 10d.; but even after that expenditure, the
harbour was only capable of containing about twenty sail of small vessels.
The rock and other stuff continued to be excavated from the interior of
the harbour, in consequence of which the accommodation to vessels was
rendered greater, and the trade and revenue increased, as will be seen
from the following account of the annual revenue, at different times, from
1772 to 1807:
At the latter period the harbour had been so
much enlarged as to be capable of containing 50 or 60 sail of vessels; but
even this increased means of accommodation was found inadequate to the
trade of the place; and the late Mr John Rennie, engineer, was applied to
for a plan and estimate for extending the south harbour, and for building
a new north harbour; and an act of Parliament was applied for and
obtained, for the further improvement of the south, and the erection of
the north harbour. Soon after this, 50,000 cubic yards of rock and other
stuff were excavated from the bottom of the south harbour,—the jetty of
the west pier was extended 40 feet,—a quay, extending 300 feet in length,
was built upon the east side of the harbour,—an addition of about 200 feet
in length was made to the west pier, which cost about L. 13,800, including
a grant of L. 3900 obtained from the Commissioners for Highland Roads and
Bridges out of the Forfeited Estates' Fund. By these improvements the
south harbour was rendered capable of containing from 100 to 120 vessels
in complete safety. The rock and other stuff taken from the bottom of the
south harbour, was deposited in the direction of a small rocky island,
called the Greenhill, so as to connect it with the south, and form the
boundary of the north harbour; and this stuff was protected from the sea
by a bulwark. The trade and shipping still continued to increase; and in
1815 it was found that additional accommodation had again become
necessary. Under these circumstances, the governors of the hospital and
the trustees of the harbours again applied to the Parliamentary
Commissioners for Roads and Bridges, and made offer to find security for
one moiety of the expense of erecting the north harbour, and building a
graving dock, which had become very necessary, in consequence of many
vessels being stranded, and sustaining damage during the winter season
upon the coast near to Peterhead. The Commissioners having agreed to grant
one moiety, ordered a survey and estimate to be made by the late Mr Thomas
Telford, civil-engineer. Mr Telford accordingly gave in a report and plans
for the works. The harbour was begun to be built in 1818; but, owing to
the exposed situation of the breakwater or great pier, and its having to
sustain the great force of the sea from the east and north, when in an
unfinished state, and in consequence unprotected, it was totally destroyed
by a tremendous storm which occurred in October 1819. Upon being applied
to, the Commissioners agreed to bear one-half of the expense of rebuilding
the pier, which was immediately set about; and the north harbour,
according to Mr Telford's plan, was finished in September 1822, at an
expense of L. 25,194, 2s. 3˝d. This harbour, being unprotected on the
north side, the trustees soon after commenced to build a pier in that
direction, which is now to be completed, and is at present under
execution, by contract, for the sum of L. 4680.
The first Act of Parliament for the
improvement of these harbours was to continue for twenty-one years, and,
therefore, it became necessary to apply for a new act; and accordingly, in
1827, an act was obtained with additional powers to the trustees and
unlimited in duration.
The effects produced by the improvement of the
harbours of Peterhead will be seen from the increase of shore dues from
1807 to the present time, 1st March 1837.
Various improvements of these harbours have
been contemplated, which are well deserving of being undertaken at the
national expense, their object being of national importance.
The area of the south harbour is 6.6 imperial
acres. The area of the north harbour 10.86 imperial acres. The length of
the south quay of the south harbour is 480 feet, its greatest breadth is
42 feet, the height from the base to the top of the parapet 40 feet. The
extreme length of the west quay is 653 feet; length of parapet, 325˝ feet;
height of parapet, 26 feet; greatest breadth at entrance, 90 feet. The
total length of quays at the north harbour is 2219 feet. Area of these
quays 4 acres, 3 roods, 28 poles imperial.
Exports.—From 1st January 1836 to 1st January
1837; the leading articles of export were
The whale fishery failed last year; but,
taking an average of the five years preceding, 11 vessels brought yearly
4958 tons of blubber, yielding 3305 tons of oil; and 271 tons of whale
fins, which were again exported.
Imports.—The imports during the same period
were as under:
Harbour Revenue.— The revenue of the harbours for the year, from 1st March
1836 to 1st March 1837, arose from:
The number of vessels which entered the
harbours during the same period was 832, and their tonnage 48,136. The
number of ships belonging to the Port of Peterhead on the 1st January 837
was 82, and their tonnage 11,022.
The number of wind-bound vessels which have
entered the harbours for the four years from 1833 is as follows:—
which shows of what importance these harbours are to the general trade and
shipping interests of the country; and this importance will be greatly
increased, when the pier now under execution is finished, as the harbours
will then be capable of affording accommodation to steam vessels.
Custom-House.—The merchants and ship-owners of
Peterhead have often applied to have the full establishment of a
customhouse, but hitherto without effect. Of late, the officers have been
reduced in number, while their duties have increased. [Since the above was
written, the establishment of a Custom-house has been granted to Peterhead.]
Village of Boddam.—This village is situated
about three miles to the south of Peterhead, on a projecting point of
land, a little to the north of Stirling-hill. It has a south and north
boat harbour, the latter being also capable of receiving ships of moderate
draught of water; these harbours are only separated from each other by a
beach of small rounded stones. The light-house at Buchanness is situated
on an island, separated from the mainland and the village by these
harbours. Population of the village 460.
The number of herring boats belonging to
Boddam will amount for this year to 23. The annual produce of the Boddam
herring fishery may be fairly stated at L. 100 per boat on an average of
There are three principal fishings, called the
summer, the herring, and the winter fishings. The summer or haddock
fishing, which occupies from March to July in catching, preparing, and
going to market with the produce, is carried on in 22 smaller sized boats,
manned with four men each, and generally a boy, who has a small share.
From 25,000 to 30,000 fish are considered a fair fishing, and they
generally bring from L. 3 to L. 4 per thousand, according to their size
The herring fishing occupies the months of
July, August, and September: after this the fishermen go for their bait,
and occasionally go to sea, or prepare for the winter or cod fishing. This
last is carried on in twelve boats, of a size between that of a herring
boat and common fishing yawl, each boat being manned by six men. From 1200
to 1800 cod fish to each boat is considered an excellent fishing, and
these bring 4d. to 6d. each, according to size. This fishing ends at
Candlemas, when the fishermen again go to supply themselves with bait, and
thereafter prepare for the summer fishing.
The common kinds of fish caught here are, the
cod, the haddock, and whiting, with occasionally the turbot, ling, and
skate. The fishing is made at no very great distance off the coast. Until
a market was found in summer for haddocks, which is the time they are in
poorest condition, the fishermen were in the habit of going to what was
called the deep sea fishing, at a bank, a long way off the coast, where
they were very successful in catching ling, cod, turbot, skate, and flat
fish of different kinds; but for some years back this fishing has been
entirely given up, as the summer dried haddocks have proved more
profitable. From the locality of Boddam, extending into the German Ocean,
and nearly as far east as Peterhead, the haddocks are always within the
reach of the fishermen. These haddocks, when taken from the boat, are
split up, carefully washed, and salted in heaps upon the beach ; after
lying a sufficient time, they are carried to the rocks and spread out, one
by one, great care being taken to preserve them from occasional rain. They
are every night gathered into heaps, and again spread out in the morning.
After being sufficiently dried, and in condition for preserving, they are
taken home and stored up. Previous to being taken to market, they are
smoked on spits with peat smoke, which gives them a fine colour and an
agreeable flavour. They are then put into one heap, and strongly pressed
down, which gives them a fine marketable appearance.
The fish from Boddam obtain a decided
preference in the market,—partly from the great care taken upon them, by
the people themselves, but in a great measure owing to the rocks along the
shore on which the fish are dried, and which are quite clean and free from
The average value of the last five years'
fishing has been nearly as follows:—
It would be improper to overlook the outlay
incurred by the fishermen, which is considerable. Each boat while at the
herring-fishing requires to have a hired man, whose wages are equal to
one-eighth part of the price of a crane of herrings. Female servants are
engaged, not for the half year, but during the fishing, perhaps for three
months, and their wages are from L. 2 to L. 2, 10s. A considerable
quantity of salt, bark, hemp, hair, &c. are necessary for the general
fishings, and the boats used are of the best quality, and are never kept
above seven or eight years, when they are disposed of to less wealthy
fishermen, and replaced by new ones. A summer line costs L. 3, and a
winter one L. 4, and many of these are annually lost.
All the haddocks caught during the past winter
have been sold to curers in Peterhead, and the haddock-fishing in winter
has now become a new branch of industry; formerly the cod-fishing was the
principal winter fishing, in the course of which the fishermen generally
caught a sufficient supply for their own use and the home market; since
this opening has occurred, however, they have thought it worth their while
to prosecute the haddock-fishery, and during last season they have been
benefited to the extent of about L. 2 each man. The winter is the season
when the haddocks are in the best condition; and it is supposed, that if
the finest of these were packed with ice, in the same manner as salmon,
they could be conveyed to the most distant market in fine condition.
Boddam has greatly increased within a few
years. It has derived much benefit from its proximity to the Buchanness
Lighthouse, affording as it does a land-mark to the fishermen. If a
harbour were erected it might soon be expected to become a large
trading-place. With the exception of Newburgh there is no other place
between Aberdeen and Peterhead where a harbour could be erected. It is
thought that an outlay of from L.1500 to L.1800 would make a most
commodious little harbour. There would always be a greater depth of water
there than in the present harbours of Peterhead, and an entry could be
made from the south or north. [An extensive harbour has been contracted
for, and is in the course of being erected.]
Many of the fishermen appear, both from name
and remaining habits, to be of Dutch extraction; they are doubtless the
descendants of those fishermen who were brought over by King William, and
planted along the east coasts of Scotland and England. They retain a good
deal of primitive simplicity. There are now few of the young men who
cannot read, write, and cast up accounts in a very creditable way. Like
all others of the same occupation, both sexes generally live to an
advanced age; they marry young, and have in general large families.
Buchanness Lighthouse—In the year 1819, a
petition was presented to the Commissioners of the Northern Lighthouses by
the merchants, ship-owners, ship-masters, and others interested in
shipping, representing the dangers of the coast from Girdleness to
Buchanness, and from thence to Kinnaird's head, and pointing out the
advantages that were likely to result from the erection of a lighthouse
upon the Buchanness, not only to the shipping interest, but also to those
engaged in the herring fishery. A second petition was presented in 1822 to
the same effect, detailing some shipwrecks which had then recently
occurred; and in January 1824, the commissioners resolved to build a
lighthouse at Buchanness, and it was soon afterwards completed. It is
about 118 feet in height, and built of granite from Stirling-hill. The
light afforded is what is called a flashing light, which in every five
seconds of time emerges from a state of partial darkness, and exhibits a
momentary light, resembling a star of the first magnitude. It is visible
at the distance of five or six leagues, and lesser distances, according to
the state of the atmosphere. It has answered all the good purposes
anticipated, both in regard to the shipping interest generally, and those
engaged in the herring-fishery at Peterhead and along the coast.
Burnhaven.—Besides Boddam, Burnhaven is the
only village in the parish not now included within the Parliamentary
boundary of the burgh. It is a small fishing village, which has lately
been erected under that name, on the north side of the bay of Sand-ford,
by George Mudie, Esq. of Meethill. The houses are nearly on a level with
the high water-mark at the bottom of the sea braes, and near the mouth of
the burn of Invernettie—hence its name. There have been already built 23
houses, and six more have been contracted for. Seven herring boats belong
to this village; three of which are to fish this season at home, and four
at Peterhead. A small harbour or landing place for the accommodation of
these boats has been erected by Mr Mudie, at an expense of about L.300.
Ecclesiastical, State.—The parish church has
already been described as standing at the entrance into the town from the
south and west. It is about three miles and a half distant from the
extremity of the parish. It was built in 1808, has repeatedly undergone
repairs, and is at present in excellent condition. It is capable of
containing nearly 2000 sitters. There are twelve free sittings
appropriated for the elders. A new manse was built soon after the last
Statistical Account was written. The glebe consists of upwards of nine
Scots acres of good land, which is worth annually about L. 50, and the
gardens extend to about one acre and a quarter, the manse being situated
in them. The stipend was last modified in 1821. It is 18 chalders of
victual, half meal, half barley, payable at the highest fiar prices for
the county, and L.10 for communion elements, which was afterwards extended
by the heritors to L.20, in consequence of the sacrament being dispensed
twice a year.
East or quoad sacra Parish Church.—This church
was opened as a preaching station in connection with the Established
Church in October 1834. The Rev. James Yuille was inducted minister in
1835. The church is seated for 700 persons, and the number of communicants
(February 1837) was 415. The stipend is L.120 per annum, and, in the event
of the revenue amounting to L.200, the stipend is to be augmented to
L.150. There is an endowment of L.10 in aid of the revenue.
Episcopal Chapel.—The present church was
erected in 1814. It is seated for 800 persons. The number belonging to the
congregation is from 1400 to 1500.
United Associate Congregation.—The church
belonging to this congregation is calculated to contain about 450 sitters.
The late Mr John Robertson, farmer in Collielaw, in this parish, mortified
some property, for behoof of the Seceders in Windmill Street, which, since
that congregation ceased to exist, has been transferred to this
congregration. The property yields about L.80 per annum, of which L.10 is
applied to charitable purposes, and the remainder towards payment of the
Independents.—The place of worship of this
congregation, formerly belonging to the Secession, is not quite so large
as that belonging to the United Associate congregation. The number of
persons belonging to this congregation has not been ascertained; but it is
believed that it has rather been on the decrease of late.
Methodists.—There is a place of worship
belonging to this sect, capable of containing about 200 persons. They are
supplied with a preacher once a fortnight from Aberdeen. The congregation
is understood not to be equal to the extent of accommodation in the
Members of Established Church.—The number of
families attending the parish church has not been precisely ascertained;
it probably amounts to 1000,—the whole number of families in the town and
parish being about 1700. The number of persons of all ages connected with
the Established Church is not less than 5000, the gross population being
reckoned 8000, which must be very near the truth ; for, adding to 6695,
the population according to the census in 1831, 1000 as the number of
seamen who were not included, and 305 as the probable increase for the
last six years, we have 8000.
Here the practice of exacting seat rents
universally prevails Sums varying from 2s. to 6s. are charged and paid for
each sitting. The sacrament of the Lord's supper, since 1822, has been
dispensed twice a year, previous to which period the number, of
communicants was as high as 1900, and there has without doubt been an
increase since that time. The number of communicants in both the
Established Churches at each celebration now varies from 1200 to 1500, and
as the seafaring part of the population is for the most part absent at the
summer sacrament, and many of those in the country part of the parish
cannot conveniently attend in winter, the number of those belonging to the
Established Church, who communicate at least once a year, cannot be less
Education.—The parish school has for upwards
of forty years been taught in a room in the town-house, which is vested in
the community of feuars, and for which the landward heritors pay a small
sum of yearly rent. Of late the room has been found to be inconvenient, in
consequence of the noise arising from apartments immediately below it,
these apartments being used as market-places, and from the market stance
being immediately in front of the town-house. The present schoolmaster, in
consequence of these circumstances, has applied to have a school and
school-house erected in terms of the statute; and this has led to an
inquiry whether the landward heritors are bound to erect such a parish
school as is required for the town and parish of Peterhead; or whether the
erection of a parish school and school-house is not a parochial burden, to
be borne, the same as the erection of the parish church, by both the
heritors of the parish, and the feuars of the town according to their real
rents. In order to avoid the adjudication of this point in a court of law,
the principal heritors lately agreed to assess themselves in the sum of
L.400, if the feuars and inhabitants would raise L.300 by voluntary
contribution, and the Governors of the Maiden Hospital, with their usual
liberality, agreed to give a site for the school and school-house, gratis,
to the extent of a quarter of an acre. A near prospect was thus afforded
of having such a parish school and school-house as the extent of the
parish of Peterhead seemed to require. But in the meantime, a delay has
taken place in consequence of one or two of the smaller heritors having
refused to contribute their share of the L.400, and in consequence of some
individuals wishing to supersede the parish school, by the establishment
of an academy on a larger scale, to be conducted, as has been held out by
some of the projectors, independently of the supervision of the clergy of
the Established Church, while others of the supporters of the academy
scheme are decidedly against the voluntary principle, and there can be
little doubt that these will form a large majority.
It is not to be expected that an academy could
supply the place of a parish school, although it might with advantage be
joined to it, and, therefore, it may be anticipated, that, at no distant
period, the heritors and feuars will be able to carry into effect their
determination to have a proper and suitable parish school, and at the same
time avoid the expense of a litigation to ascertain their legal
At present the parochial schoolmaster has the
maximum salary of L.34, 4s. 4˝d., and an allowance of L.13 for a
dwelling-house and garden, besides participating in the Dick bequest.
Another school is taught in the town-house, in
a room afforded gratuitously by the feuars. This school has been
denominated the Town's School. The present teacher received his
appointment from the baron bailies and the feuar's managers; and he was
appointed to teach seven poor children, for which he receives L.10 per
annum, in terms of a bequest by the late Mr William Rhind, baker.
There is a Lancasterian school under the
superintendence of the clergyman of the Episcopal chapel, the master of
which receives a salary of L. 20 per annum, from funds mortified by the
late Dr Anderson of St Christophers. There are besides, in the town, two
schools conducted by ladies, in which the higher branches of female
education, such as Music, French, Drawing, &c. are taught by experienced
and well qualified instructors.
Besides these, there are six other schools in
the town, and two in the country part of the parish, chiefly for the
ordinary branches of education, viz. reading, writing, and arithmetic.
The branches taught in the parish school not
only embrace English from its lowest stages, Grammar, arithmetic, and
Latin, but also the various subdivisions of mathematics, geography,
history, Greek, and French; and this renders additional accommodation the
more necessary, and which, it may be expected, will, ere long, be
At a former period, the schools in the
town-house were conducted so as to confine each to a particular
department, the parochial schoolmaster taking the languages, and the other
writing, arithmetic, and mathematics. This arrangement, it is believed,
was conducive to the interests of both, as well as to the abridgement of
the labour of the teachers, and it may again prove advantageous, if
The number of scholars attending the different
schools throughout the year may probably exceed 700.
Although the people in this parish are
generally alive to the benefits of education, yet there can be no doubt
that some of them are brought up without receiving an adequate education,
and that ample room remains for the endowment of a charity school, where
the poorest children might be educated at very reduced fees.
The extreme distance from the parish school is
four miles, that is, to the south and west of the parish. The children in
these districts attend either the school at Boddam or the school at Miekle
Cocklaw; and it is a question worthy of consideration, when the proper
time arrives, whether these schools should not be erected into parochial
Sabbath Schools.—There are several Sabbath
schools, both in connection with the Established Church, and with other
denominations. These schools are numerously attended, particularly by
females; and they appear to have effected much good. The school under the
superintendence of the church-session has lately been much extended, and
is now taught within the church. There is also a numerous Sabbath school
taught in the East or quoad sacra Parish Church.
Literature.—There is no library connected with
the parish church; but it is understood that there are several small
libraries belonging to the religious congregations in the town. [There is
now a library in connection with the parish church.]
Connected with the quoad sacra parish church,
more particularly, there is a library supported by congregational
subscription, consisting of 240 volumes. There is also another library,
consisting of 106 volumes, belonging to a religious instruction class,
which is taught by the pastor, and meets every Monday evening.
The principal library in the town is that
belonging to the Reading Society, instituted in 1808. This Society is
managed by a committee of its own members elected annually. The members
pay a yearly subscription of a guinea, and none but members are entitled
to the use of the books. The library consists of about 1500 volumes of
standard works, embracing the Bridgewater Treatises; the seventh edition
of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, now publishing; the Edinburgh, Quarterly,
and London and Westminster Reviews; the New Statistical Account of
Scotland, now publishing; Sir Walter Scott's works; Alison's History of
Europe; the philosophical works of Reid and Stewart, Hume, Beattie, &c.
Another library was instituted in October
1836, under the name of the "Peterhead Mechanics' Library." It already
contains upwards of 200 volumes, consisting of religious, historical, and
Scientific Association.—The only scientific
society here is the "Peterhead Association for Science, Literature, and
the Arts." This Society was established in 1835. At its monthly meetings
there are occasional lectures, and the Society is in the course of fitting
up a museum, to which various donations have already been made of shells,
minerals, antiques, &c.
News-Room.—The news-room is supported by the
annual subscription of a guinea from each of the readers. There are
received three London daily papers, a daily shipping list, an Edinburgh
paper thrice a week, and the Aberdeen Journal.
Friendly Societies.—When the last Statistical
Account of this parish was written, there were nine friendly Societies in
the town; subsequently several others were formed, and the greatest number
at any time was seventeen. After the passing of the Act 10 Geo. IV. which
made it imperative on Societies to remodel their rules, and adopt tables
founded on the scheme of mutual assurances, a general panic arose among
the members of nearly all these Societies. Few of them could be convinced
of the advantages which the Legislature had in view by the alteration
which was thus forced upon them, and so averse were they to adopt the
scheme proposed, that they refused to make that inquiry into the state of
their funds which time had rendered necessary.
No fewer than ten friendly Societies in the
town of Peterhead were entirely broken up in the course of a year or two,
and their funds divided among the members. This was the more to be
regretted, as the greater part, if not the whole of these Societies were
possessed of very considerable funds, and, up to the time of their
dissolution, had continued to pay annuities to the widows and children of
deceased members, and to members in old age, the want of which,
particularly among a certain class of the community, has since been
severely felt; and although in some instances it might have been found on
investigation, that a reduction in the amount of annuities would have been
necessary, in order to put all on an equal footing, and secure the
stability of the institutions, yet, in every case the funds were in such a
state that great advantages would have resulted from the Societies being
kept up. An instance of this extraordinary spirit has recently shown
itself among the members of the Seamen Friendly Society, formerly the
Pilot Society. The funds of this Society amount to about L. 1500; both the
contributors and those receiving relief are comparatively few in number,
and many of the former are in the better ranks of life. In the course of
the present year it has been resolved to dissolve this Society, and divide
At present the following Societies, much to
the credit of the members, exist in the town:—
None of these Societies have as yet availed
themselves of the information collected and published by the Highland and
Agricultural Society5 and prepared tables of the rates on which the
members ought to be admitted and contribute to the funds according to
their ages; although some of them adopted the means of ascertaining the
state of their funds a few years ago, and altered the amount of their
The Farmer Society has within these few years
adopted a graduated scale for the admission of new members; but it does
not appear to have been prepared according to any correct data, nor with
the view of the present state of the society's funds. By this scale each
member of 25 years of age and under pays on admission L.5. Those above 25
and under 41 years of age pay 10s. additional for every year their age
exceeds 25; and those of 41 years of age and upwards pay L. 2 for every
year exceeding 40. When the age of a member on admission exceeds by ten
years that of his wife, he pays L. 2 additional of entrant dues for every
year above ten that his wife's age is under his own. When the difference
in the age does not exceed ten years, there is no additional payment
Savings Bank.—A Savings Bank was established
in Peterhead in May 1824. It has been attended with very considerable
benefit to the working-classes. The treasurer and one of the directors
attend every Tuesday night to receive deposits. The accounts are audited
once a year, and have been found to be kept with the greatest accuracy. On
the 9th of March 1837, there were 295 depositors, and, including
periodical interest, the sum deposited amounted to L.2095, 7s. 2d.
Poor and Parochial Funds.—The number of
persons receiving parochial aid is from 270 to 280, and the average
allowance to regular paupers is about 15s. per annum. The annual average
amount of contributions for relief of the poor is L.252; of which from
L.160 to L.170 arises from church collections, including the proportion of
the collections from the East or quoad sacra Parish Church; L.20 to L.25
derived from the fees for the proclamation of banns, certificates,
registration of births, &c. appropriated to that purpose by the session at
the appointment of the present clerk; L.22 to L.26 interest of L.650 from
3˝ to 4 per cent.; about L. 10 a year from penalties exacted in cases of
church discipline, and for the use of the mortcloth; and from legacies and
donations, which, of course, are variable, being seldom under L. 5, and
more rarely exceeding L.50. No other mode of procuring funds for the poor
has hitherto been adopted; but, from the increased number of claimants
within the last few years, arising in part from the dissolution of
friendly societies, it is probable that some other means must soon be
Coal Fund.—This fund was established about
sixteen years ago. It is supported by voluntary contributions made
annually about the beginning of the year, and is managed by the
representatives of the congregations of every religious denomination in
the town. The managers meet together and examine the claims of all
applicants, and admit such cases as they know to be fit, whether the
parties have made application or not.
The objects of the charity are the poor
belonging to the town ; and it has only been in a very few instances that
parties in the country part of the parish have been allowed to participate
in the benefits, in consequence of particular recommendation.
The amount of donations has varied during the
last sixteen years from L. 53, 16s. 6d., the lowest, to L. 68, 2s., the
highest. The number of poor supplied with coals has also varied from 287
to 342, (the average number throughout the whole period having been 311,)
and the quantity of coals given to each has been equal to 4˝ cwts.
As soon as the annual contributions are
collected, the coals are distributed at that season of the year when the
poor are in the greatest want of them. The whole management reflects the
greatest credit on those who have undertaken it, (it being conducted
gratuitously,) and has given great satisfaction.
The managers of the fund have received several
small legacies, some of which they are left at liberty to apply to the
purposes of the fund, and others are under the restriction, that only the
annual rent shall be so applied. From the liberality of the public the
managers have been enabled to reserve the whole amount of legacies, only
applying the annual rents. These they have lent out on good security to
the amount of L. 100, besides a small sum in the bank; and they intend, if
circumstances permit, to act on the same laudable principle in regard to
other legacies which may be left them by benevolent individuals.
Pauper, Lunatic, and Orphan Fund.—An association was formed in 1827, under
the name of the Peterhead Pauper, Lunatic, and Orphan Fund. It is
supported by an annual collection from each of the congregations in the
town, and by donations and bequests. The objects entitled to relief from
the fund are orphans and lunatics having a legal claim on the parish. This
institution is managed by delegates appointed by the session and managers
of the different churches. The present number of objects is ten lunatics
and ten orphans. The receipts and expenditure average from L. 60 to L. 80
This fund has been judiciously administered,
and of the greatest advantage to the public; and has, to a considerable
extent, mitigated the sufferings of those for whose benefit it was
established. It is to be regretted that more ample means have not been
placed at the disposal of the managers.
Female Society.— This Society was instituted
in 1819. Its object is to assist deserving poor females, who are not in
the practice of receiving weekly charity ; but in cases of sickness this
condition may be dispensed with. It is under the management of three
ladies, viz. a president, treasurer, and secretary, and a committee of
twelve ladies, all elected annually. Two of these ladies in rotation visit
the poor, and distribute the charity every month. The number of poor
receiving aid from this institution is limited to 85. Young widows left
with children receive aid until the youngest arrives at the age of six.
From L. 70 to L. 80 are annually distributed by this institution, It has
fully realized the benevolent intentions of its projectors, and is well
deserving of the patronage and support of the public at large, which it
has hitherto received.
Fairs.—The weekly market here is held on
Fridays, and is well supplied with all sorts of provisions and garden
stuffs. There are two half-yearly markets, chiefly for the feeing of
servants, held respectively on the first Tuesday after Whitsunday, and the
first Tuesday after Martinmas. These markets are of very long standing,
having been established in 1669 by authority of an act of Charles II.
passed in that year, in favour of William Earl Marischall.
Inns, &c.—There are 46 licensed public-houses,
and 28 licensed spirit-dealers in the town. The new inn, kept by Mr D.
Fraser, is the principal one, where the daily coaches arrive and depart.
The inn is large, commodious, and neatly fitted up; and, under Mr Fraser's
management, affords every comfort at a reasonable expense. Mr Fraser has a
lease of the Mason Society's Cold Baths, and has lately added to his
establishment a handsome billiard-room.
Fuel.—About twenty or thirty years ago moss
found in the neighbourhood was very generally used for fuel; but this has
been now almost superseded by coal, which is the common fuel throughout
The improvements which have been effected in
this parish since last Account was written are considerable. Some of these
will be seen by the short comparative view subjoined of the state and
circumstances of the parish before the time of Dr Moir and the present
time. This will serve a double purpose, in presenting and preserving a
statement of the more prominent parts contained in Dr Moir's account
relative to the then state of the parish; while, at the same time, it will
exhibit, in a condensed form, and of easy reference, much of the
information contained in this account.
Population.—In Dr Moir's time, the population
in the town amounted to 2550, and in the landward part of the parish to
1141; total 3691. By the census of 1831, the population in the town
amounted to 5112, and in the landward part of the parish to 1583; total
6695. To which add the estimated number of seamen, 1000, and the probable
increase since that time 315, which gives as the present population, 8000.
In Boddam, separately, there were 192
inhabitants; houses and families, 49. The population of Boddam is now 460
; houses and families, 99.
The average number of births per annum was
105; it is now 270.
The average number of deaths was 68; it is now
The average number of marriages was 28; it is
Agriculture.—The extent of the parish is
stated by Dr Moir to be 7000 Scots acres, of which there were under
cultivation 5000. It has been ascertained that there are 7087 Scots acres,
or nearly so, in the parish, of which there are now cultivated 6505 Scots
acres, = 8266 imperial acres.
Turnips and grass were only partially
cultivated. Turnips and grass now form an essential part of the rotations
of cropping followed here, and are very extensively cultivated.
The arable land was interspersed with bawks or
patches between the ridges of waste and uncultivated land. The bawks have
now been cultivated, the land drained and partly enclosed, and laid off in
regular fields to answer the rotations agreed upon.
The implements of husbandry were in general
very inferior. The ploughs formerly in use here, called Scotch ploughs,
were, according to Dr Moir, often drawn by two horses with a cow or young
steer. "I have even seen," he says, "a plough with one horse, a cow, and a
young steer." The implements of husbandry are now greatly improved in
their construction and increased in number, embracing all those which have
been found useful in other districts of the country.
There were no thrashing-machines, and but few
fanners. There is now no farm of any importance to which there is not
attached a thrashing-machine; and fanners are possessed by the crofters.
The average rent in the country part of the
parish was 12s. per acre. Near the town it was from L. 1, 10s. to L. 4,
4s. The gross rents of land in the parish amounted to from L. 2800 to L.
3000. The wages of male servants were from L. 5 to L. 8 ; maid-servants
from L. 1 to L. 1, 10s. The average rent of land in the country part of
the parish is now about L. 1, 2s.; near the town it is about L. 4, 10s.
The rents now amount to L. 10,136, 19s. 8d. as near as can be ascertained.
The amount of servant's wages may be fairly stated to be at least doubled.
The building of earthen fences cost from 2d.
to 3d. per yard; faced with stones, 6d.; complete stone fences, 1s.
Earthen fences now cost from 5d. to 7d. per yard; faced with stone 1s. to
1s. 6d,; complete stone fences, 2s. to 3s.
Dr Moir complains that the roads were kept in
bad repair; and that there were no turnpike roads. Turnpike roads were
made in 1812, and other roads leading to and from the various possessions
in the parish have been much increased in number, and are kept in good
Trade and Shipping, &c.—The number of taverns
was 30. There are now 46.
The post-office revenue was L. 280 per annum.
The post-office revenue has amounted to L. 817, 16s. per annum on an
average of the last seven years.
There were two bank agents. There are now
The number of ships belonging to this place
was 26, and the tonnage of these 3000 tons. The number of ships is now
(July 1837) 85, and their tonnage 11,429 tons.
There was one ship sent to Greenland. There
are now ten ships employed in the whale fishing.
There were no London traders. There are now
five vessels regularly employed in the London trade. These find ample
employment in conveying cattle and other produce of the district to the
English market, and supplying the merchants and traders of this place with
There were exported on an average of the five
years from 1789 to 1794—of beans and pease 186 bolls; of bear 1173; of
oats 771; total 2130. The quantity of grain exported in 1836 was 27,164
quarters; and this is about the average amount.
The meal exported from 1789 to 1794, on an
average of the five years, was 9216 bolls. The meal exported in 1836 was
The harbour dues amounted to L. 94. The
harbour dues amounted for the year ending at 1st March 1837, to L. 2879.
Manufactures.—A thread manufactory was at one
time carried on in this place. The manufacture of thread has been
discontinued, but there is reason to believe, that it might be again
carried on with advantage.
Woollen cloth was rather extensively
manufactured. This business is now carried on only to a very limited
There was formerly a distillery of whisky.
There is now no such distillery.
Fishing.—Boddam and Ronheads were the only
fishing villages in the parish. The village of Boddam has been greatly
enlarged. The Ronheads remains the same as when the last Account was
written. Other two villages have arisen—Buchanhaven and Burnhaven—at both
of which the different fishings are carried on to a considerable extent.
There was then no herring-fishery. This is a
new and most extensive branch of industry, of which a short account has
already been given.
There was no light-house on this part of the
coast. This defect has now been remedied, and a short account of the
Buchan-ness Light-house has also been given.
Salmon sold at from 2d. to 2˝d. per lb. Salmon
now sells at from 6d. to 1s.
The salmon exported yearly amounted to from 50
to 60 barrels. There are not now so many exported,—the Ugie salmon-fishing
having fallen off considerably.
The rent of the Ugie salmon-fishing was L.100.
The rent of it is now only L. 45.
Stipend, &c.— The stipend was 5 chalders meal,
3 chalders bear, and L.41, 13s. 4d. in money, and L. 8, 6s. 8d. for
communion elements. The stipend is now 18 chalders, half meal, half
barley, at the highest fiar prices for the county, and L. 20 for communion
The number of those receiving parochial aid
was from 70 to 80. There are now from 270 to 280 receiving parochial aid.
The schoolmaster's salary was 13 bolls and 2
firlots of meal, and L. 3, 6s. 8d. in money. The schoolmaster now enjoys
the maximum salary of L. 34, 4s. 4˝d., besides what he may receive from
the trustees of the late Mr Dick.
The town was not supplied with spring water.
The town is now supplied with excellent spring water, and in sufficient
abundance for every purpose.
The streets were in want of repairs. The
streets are now kept in good repair. Side paths with crib paving have been
made— obstructions have been removed—and the town protected by bulwarks
from the sea.
The streets were not lighted in winter. They are now lighted with gas.
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