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History of the Parish of Banchory-Devenick
Extracts from the Session Records

The Session Records of Banchory-Devenick have not hitherto been published, although they contain some curious entries. They extend to seven large volumes, commencing on 4th January, 1708, and—with the exception of a hiatus from 12th December, 1714, to 1st March, 1716; another from 7th June, 1724, to 23rd October, 1726; another from 16th August to 8th November, 1747 ; and another from 12th August to 3rd November, 1757—go on uninterruptedly down to the present time. Two older volumes had unfortunately been destroyed by fire during the ministry of the Rev. James Gordon, which extended from November, 1667, to December, 1714. The following are the more interesting particulars from the existing records, which have been arranged according to subject for greater convenience.


From the earliest times the subject of affording relief to the poor, and those on whom affliction had suddenly fallen, formed matter of concern to governments, magistrates, and public bodies generally. In Banchory-Devenick it is abundantly manifest that during severe seasons considerable poverty and distress existed among the lower orders. Charity, however, was liberally extended by the better to do class of the population.

As early as the year 1620, a system of relieving was organized by the Heritors and Kirk-Session, under which the latter body became sole administrators. A perusal of the Extracts will give a slight insight into what was done from 1708 onwards. In that year there were over twenty regularly enrolled poor, who received 6s. 8d. amongst them quarterly, besides which many supplicant poor from other parishes were from time to time temporarily relieved. School fees of children were frequently paid, perquisites provided, and subscriptions given to the most peculiar objects conceivable. This practice of promiscuous giving, however, led to a large increase in the number of beggars who roamed over the country, and of whom it was no unusual circumstance to find as many as forty waiting to be relieved at the church door when service ended. So many able-bodied men and women found the begging profession a profitable one, that they became a nuisance to society, so much so that the legislature was compelled to pass measures of repression. In consequence the Kirk-Session, in the end of 1737, found it necessary to give badges, or tickets, to their own poor, and to concert a method for effectually getting rid of all other vagrants not belonging to the parish. A payment of twelve shillings was accordingly made for tickets to the privileged poor; and, a year later, special collections were made to defray the expense of “apprehending and prosecuting beggars and vagabonds.”

In some districts a “ scourger ” was employed, at a fixed salary, to keep out beggars not provided with the requisite badge. With regard to the expedients adopted to excite pity, these were, in many instances, most ingenious. One was to profess blindness and helpless lameness, necessitating the pretender’s being carried in a sort of hand-barrow. As recently as 1840 it was not uncommon, in one day, for several of these hand-barrows to be set down at the door of a dwelling-house. To get clear of such unwelcome visitors, the only course available to the inmates was to administer relief, and get sufficient hands together to carry the burden to the next door. So many beggars were sent into Banchory in this way from the parish of Fetteresso, that the Kirk-Session had to send a special injunction against the continuance of the practice.

On 15th April, 1739, it was agreed that three shillings and fourpence sterling should be paid for making the poor’s coffins, two carpenters having agreed to supply them at that figure. It was appointed by the Session that “ the haill effects ” of such poor as should be buried by them should fall to the remaining poor. It was also ordained that one of the poor should attend the others when sick, and should be paid per day by the Session for so doing ; and in case of refusal “ their names to be cancelled out of the roll.” The sum paid at this time for digging the graves of the poor was sixpence each.

In November, 1751, it was enacted that all poor before being placed on the Charity Roll of the parish, should subscribe a disposition making over to the collector of the Session and his successors in office “ their whole goods, gear, debts, and effects that shall be due and belonged to them at the time of decease.”

When any famine or special calamity overtook the country it was customary for the Government to vote a sum in relief. In 1783, owing to the complete failure of the previous year’s crop, a sum of .10,000 was appointed to be paid out of the Royal Exchequer to assist the poor in the Highlands and northern parts of Scotland. Returns were called for from all parishes, the one from Banchory-Devenick showing that, on 3rd July of that year, there were thirty recognized poor, besides other thirty-four families, representing 256 souls, requiring assistance. One hundred and twenty-eight bolls of meal were asked; but, owing to more crying demands from other districts, only a small proportion was sent.

In the latter years of the Session’s management of the Poor’s Fund, they distributed to the higher class on the roll ten shillings, and to the lower eight shillings each, a quarter. What was further required for their support, Dr. Paul says, “ was partially supplied by the earnings of the females, in knitting stockings and spinning, but principally through the benevolence of kind neighbours, whose liberality and sympathy were greatly diminished after the introduction of the poor’s rates. In the year 1845 the whole sum distributed among the poor amounted to j253 14 3d. There were no expenses of management.”

By the passing of the Poor Law Act, however, the whole system of relieving underwent a sweeping change. A Parochial Board, with duly qualified medical officer and inspector, nominated and voted for by the ratepayers from whom the taxes were made exigible, fell to be appointed by each parish. If this Board has not accomplished all that was expected by its votaries, it has at least been the means of reducing vagrancy to a minimum, and making those on whom alimentary legal responsibility rests discharge their obligations.

At present the business of the Parochial Board is managed by seventeen of a committee, with Lieutenant-Colonel Joyner 1 as chairman. The sum raised in 1888, in the shape of poor’s assessment, was 624 15s., of which amount ,124 4s. iod. was expended on alimenting fifteen poor in the parish, and about .100 in relieving ten poor resident in other parishes ; besides about ,240 in supporting twelve lunatic poor in various asylums. The following extracts illustrate these remarks :—

restored, he returned to Britain in June, ’56, when his bravery was acknowledged by the presentation of the Crimean Medal and three clasps, for Alma, Balaklava, and Sebastopol; The Turkish Medal and the French War Medal for valour and discipline. In addition he had received his commission as Quartermaster whilst in the Crimea. In June, ’57, the regiment embarked for China; but, the Indian Mutiny having broken out in the interim, they were, whilst passing through the Bay of Bengal, signalled by the Governor-General to land at Calcutta. This being done, active operations were at once commenced to quell the mutineers. Space will not admit of details being given of the forced marches, privations, and difficulties encountered for the next few years. Suffice it to say that the subject of our memoir took part in the following ordeal:—Relief of women and children, Lucknow, 14th to 25th November, ’57 ; Defeat of Gwalior Force at Cawnpore ; Battles of Serai Ghat, Kaleh Nuddee; Lucknow Siege, 2nd to 21st March,’58; Allygunge, Bareilly, 5th May, ’58; Posgaon, 19th October, ’58; Russelpore, 25th October, ’58; and afterwards the Storming of Fort Mithoulie. For the signal achievements at Lucknow he was presented with the Indian Mutiny Medal and hvo clasps. In March, ’70, he returned with the regiment to Aberdeen, and for the next ten years discharged the duties of Paymaster, to which position he had been promoted six years previously. He. retired from the army as a Staff-Paymaster, in October, 1880, after a service exceeding forty years. The gallant soldier, now promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, resides in Cults, and takes a lively interest in every work tending to the welfare of the parish.


1708 Jan 4—Quarter’s college fee (13/40!.) of Student paid. Given to stranger supplicant impoverished by piracie, 7/Mar. 28—Given to a poor travelling stranger, 6/-.

May 16—Given to a paralytick Schoolmaster in Buchan, 20/Sep. 5—Four punds scots ordered to be given to help to pay the curing of a poor boy in Aberdeen, who was grievously wounded in the forehead by the stroak of a horse foot.

1709 May 22—Given to a poor old minister, 12 lb.

1710 Jan. 29—To a Mary ffrazcr, ane epilcptick lass, to buy a plade and shirt to her, 3 lb.

Dec. 31—Payed to the fishers of fody, for salvage of the ferry boat, which was carycd away by a violent swaling water, 4 10/-.

1712 Feb. 10—Andrew Donald, being old and impoverished by the death of a cow in bringing furth a monstruous calf with two heads, ordered to receive 6 lib to help to buy another cow.

June 22—Given to a poor boy to help to pay his apprentice ffce with a view to his learning a trade, 6 13s. 4d.

1713 Nov. 22—Given to two orphans in Nigg, 20/-.

Nov. 29—Given to supplicant with a cancer in his face, 6/8

1714 Oct. 10—Alexander Leslie being reduced to poverty, ordered to receive the price of a firlot of meal.

1716 June 10—Given out of the collection 3 lib for a coffin to a poor woman, who must otherwise have been laid down in her grave without one.

1716 Aug. 19—Collection of 6 8s. 2d. made for the encouragement of learning, and the supporting of Charity Schools in the Highlands.

Oct. 7—Minister from Pulpit intimated to the congregation that, whereas upon the representation made to him by some honest men in the North side of the Parish, a beggar boy who went about leading his mother—ane old blind woman—the foresaid boy in his folly had fallen off a dike, and haveing a sharp pointed knife in his pocket it had struck into his belly, and that thereupon they had taken up the youth, who was near dead, and carried him in to the Chirurgions att Aberdeen, and that he would need something for his support as long as he lived, and therefore he urged the people to extend their charity next-Sabbath for the effect foresaid.

Oct. 14—The wounded boy for whom the collection was intimated was dead, and buried last week, as severall members of the congregation reported.

Given to the Kirk Officer 8/-, for carrying a poor distressed supplicant on horseback first to Aberdeen, and then to Causey Port.

1717 March 24—Six shillings given to a poor supplicant, who had lost all his worldly substance in the late horrid rebellion. Nov. 3—i3/4d. given to Alex. Wilson, who has a sone dying in the Cruells, and can doe nothing for himself, and the father a very poor man with many children.

Dec. 16—Given 6/- to a seaman cast away on the North coast, and 2/- scots more to some poor people about the kirk door.

1718 June 29—1 6s. 8d. given out of the collection, for behoof of the child who suffered by fire.

1718 Nov. 16—Collected this day for the distressed Protestants of Lithuania 5 14s. 8d.

1719 Dec. 20—Collected 2 17s. 6d. for the kirk at Cairstoun (Stromncss) in Orkney.

1720 Nov. 27—Collected 3 3s. for the following special objects, relieving the distressed Protestants in Saxonie, for erecting a new kirk in Orkney, for building another at Zetland, for building a bridge on the water of Anachie, for another bridge in the parish of Bourtie, for another on the water of Tarlan, as also for a charitable contribution to Ann Urquhart and John Henderson, taylor in the Cannongate and for the distressed protestants belonging to Inverness taken by the Galy men.

1721 Aug. 18—Collected $ 19s. for Charles Erskine, and 3 men in Old Meldrum all sufferers by fire.

1722 May 6—Twenty shilling given for takeing the children over water the winter quarter for their education at school. Dec. 16—$ paid for takeing the ferry boat out of the sea, being carried thither with the violence of spait water.

1728 March 3—This day John Mowat, at Mill of Finnan, gave in to the box 6 13s. 4d. scots, for the priviledge of burying his mother in the Church, according to custome in this place. This day, also, Alexander Milne gave in $ scots, the marriage pledge of William Marshall in the Parish of Peterculter, forfeited for non-performance of his contract with a woman in this parish.

1729 July 27—Generali contribution intimated for building a harbour at St. Andrews, and congregation advised to give liberally.

3 scots was subsequently handed over for the foregoing object.

1729 Oct. 19—Irish Presbytery Bursar’s discharge for payment of 2 scots handed over by the minister.

1730 Oct. 18—Given for making the sackcloth, 6 -.

1731 April ir—Two pounds scots given out to one James Anderson a poor man in Maryculter, whose wife had brought forth three children at one birth.

Oct, 24—Collected 15 scots for the sufferers by fire in Monimusk.

1732 June 7—This day the Session, considering the great disorder occasioned by the multitude of dogs in time of worship, did agree to employ Alexander Couts to keep them out, and allow him three pence every Lord’s Day out of the collection for the same.

Dec. 10—14/- Scots given to Alexander Couts for an iron instrument wherewith to keep out the dogs.

1733 Oct. 14—7 ios. 6d. of bad half-pence to be disposed of to best advantage.

1734 April 7—Given for a hand-bell, to be employed at burials along with the mortcloth, ,4 12s. scots, of which 1 4s. was deducted anent the bad half-pence.

1735 Sep. 28—Four merks Scots given to Alexander Couts, who holds out the dogs, to buy a new coat to him.

Dec. 14—The day being short and very cold the Minister lectured only. Given to 3 Bluegowns 3s. scots.

1738 Feb. 5—Collected ,11 3s. scots for an Hospital to be built in Edinburgh for curing sick people.

March 5—Given to the man who holds out the dogs, 5/-. Oct. 29—Collected 14 2s. for Blind Davidson’s support. Minister intimated that he was appointed to go to Edinburgh anent the demolishing the Church of Kinnernie, and annexing that Parish to Midmar and Clunie.

1750 Dcc. 2—Collection intimated for the building of a Church and School at Breslau.

1755 June 8—Given to a poor man who was robbed near the Causey moss, 1 4s.

Sep. 21—Collected 8 for building of a new college at Jersey.

Dec. 7—Given for burying a murdered child, by Jean Steven now in prison, which was found above Hilldountree, 2 8s. To the officer for ringing the bell longer than ordinary for the salmon fishers, 1 10s.

1756 Feb. 6—14 of a fine received from the Procurator-Fiscal at Stonehaven, said sum having been recovered from one of the Ardoe salmon fishers.

Sept. 18—Given to James Farquhar, a poor man in the parish of Fetteresso, whose wife had born 3 children at one birth, _2 8s.

1759 April 8—Given in for the fines of the Brewers, 27 12s. April 29—Given to the Officer for carrying a cripple man to Aberdeen upon his horse, 6

1761 July 12—Collected 11 2s. for building a place of worship at Curgarf.

1766 Given 10 10s. as taxation to the Old Town College.

1769 Given to help to make the church road on Cranhill, ^12 scots.

Nov. 19—Collected 21 12s. for building the new church of Gilcomston.

1770 March 4—Monies now calculated at sterling or British value.

June 10—Given to George Lessly in Kinnellar, whose farm yard was wilfully set on fire by two miscreants, 10/-.

1772 July 5—One of the Elders reporting that a poor herd boy in Easter Ardoch had been accidentally drowned, Session agreed to pay the funeral expenses.

1775 Oct. 22—Given to buy a surt-coat to Annie Buchan, 4/5^. Nov. 15—5 6s. iod. of bad copper ordered to be sold.

„ 19—18/6 received for the bad copper which weighed 37 lbs.

1777 Feb. 16—Given to a poor man in Drumoak, whose wife lately died of the bite of a mad dog, two shillings.

Sept. 28—Compeared William Milne in Kirktown, and Robert Anderson in Tullohill, constables. They represented that they had last week taken up Ann Fraser, a poor delirious woman, who had been happily prevented from drowning herself in the River Dee, and got her with difficulty forwarded safely to Maryculter. They received 2 for their trouble.

1780 Jan. 16—The day being remarkably bad collected only9d.

1781 May 6—Male child laid down at a Parishioner’s door this morning, taken charge of by the Session, who offered a reward of five guineas for discovery of the mother.

Entries afterwards occur of cost of wearing apparel and board of the child.

1782 April 25—100 bequeathed for behoof of the Poor, by Mr George Martin, Shipmaster in Aberdeen.

1787 March 11—Collected 41 3s. 8fd. for assisting in the relief of the families of three fishermen accidentally drowned at Cove.

1790 June 27—Collected 5 10s. 3d. for behoof of the widows and 26 children of 6 Fishermen drowned at Cove on 17th May last.

1798 Nov. 10—,45 collected throughout the Parish for the defence of the country against the threatened invasion.

1801 Dec. 20—500 handed over to the Kirk-Session by James Calder, wine merchant in Aberdeen, the interest whereof to be applied annually for the relief of the poor.

Mr. Calder's daughter, Mrs. Emslie, in 1836, devoted ,26,000 towards the erection and endowment of an hospital in Aberdeen for orphan and destitute children.

1804 Sep. 9— 1 given to a Farmer who had his horse stolen out of his stable.

1805 5—Collected jQg 7s. for the Trafalgar relief fund.

1807 Feb. 26—Collected g 5s. for the relatives of 37 Fishermen who lost their lives by the destruction of 6 fishing boats during a severe storm in the Moray Firth on 25th December last.

1815 Oct. 1—Collected for the Waterloo Fund, jQj 2s. id.

1825 June 26—Intimation received from the Trustees of the late Mr. John Gordon of Murtle of an annual legacy of .10 bequeathed by Mr. Gordon for the teaching of Sunday Schools throughout the Parish.

Oct. 23—Intimation received from the Trustees of the late Mr. James Gammel of Countesswells of a Legacy of 100 on behalf of the poor of the parish.

1828 Jan. 26—Salary of Precentor at this time, ^3 a year.

1829 Dec. 27—Body of a female found on Tuesday last, not having been indentified buried at expense of Session.

Dec. 29—Collection which had been made on behalf of the Highlands not being required for that purpose to be handed over to the Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen.

1853 Aug. 27—Legacy of .200 bequeathed by the late Rev. William Paterson, Schoolmaster of Nigg, received. The terms of the bequest were :—To the Kirk-Session of Banchory-Devenick, two hundred pounds as a fund, the interest of which is to be paid to a Schoolmaster whose schoolhouse shall be situated conveniently for the fishing villages of Findon and Portlethen, and house adjacent to the turnpike road. He must also be qualified to teach reading, writing, arithmetic, and navigation, and if Latin so much the better ; be patronized by the Proprietors of Portlethen, Findon, Lands adjacent to the Turnpike, and the Minister of the Parish; and teach gratis scholars of name of Paterson and Merser, whose parents are poor, and these failing a few poor scholars recommended by the Kirk-Session.

1863 March 1—17 ns. 3d. collected throughout the parish on behalf of the Lancashire Operatives.

1867 Nov. 17—Intimation made of a legacy of 500 being left to the Session by the late Alexander Calder, son of James Calder, who, on 20th December, 1801, handed over a like sum for behoof of the poor of the parish.


1712 Aug. 3—Enacted that all pariochiners placing gravestones in the churchyard should pay ten marks scots. Outsiders and strangers to pay eight punds scots for the same priviledge.

1719 July 26—Act for preventing the running of goods was read, and the people suitablie exhorted.

Aug. 9—Act to prevent the running of goods specially read at Portlethen, where the practice was most to be feared.

1722 July 15—Act read against prophaneness, &c. Intimation also made to the salmon fishers that there were spys to be sett on them, and that, in case of prophaneing the Sabbath day by fishing, they would be proceeded against by Sessions, Presbyteries, and the Civil Judge.

1727 May 21—This day, at the desire of the Elders, it was intimated from Pulpit that no persons whatsomever should reside in this Parish without being clothed with sufficient certificates from the parishes they come from.

1728 June 2—Intimation made that no contract of marriage or publick sessioning should be held on Saturdays, and that, conform to an old practice in this parish, and resolution of Session anent it, those who contract on the Sabbath days morning privately shall pay one pound scots to the poor’s box besides the usuall dues.

1729 July 13—Congregation advertised to beware of meeting in crowds on the Sabbath day, particularity upon the waterside, and likewise to beware of fishing late upon Saturday’s night. Also to avoid drinking on the Sabbath day to excess, and in great companies, and of going in throngs to the seaside for diversion : with certification, &c.

1730 March 22—New Parish boat being required, contract entered into for its construction. 2'6 scots required from each tenant, and 2r from each other person within the respective families on the North Side. Due intimation made of this act, that so the recusants, if any should be, may be prosecute before the Judge competent.

1731 March/—Warning given to young persons in the parish to beware of night meetings in their neighbours houses, under pretence of mirth and drawing of valentines.

1799 Oct. 6—Former resolution against allowing marriages on Saturdays rescinded, on the Bridegroom giving an undertaking that the whole marriage company should be dismissed by 11 o’clock at night at farthest. No penny weddings to be permitted within the Parish on Saturdays, nor any other marriage at which money is received for either meat or drink.

1805 Nov. 3—As various bad consequences flow from Raffles, all intimations of such meetings either by the public crier or otherwise, at the Parish Church and Church of Portlethen, prohibited.

1827 Nov. n--The holding of raffles within the Parish strictly prohibited in all time coming.

1839 Sep. 27—Shooting at marriages forbidden.

1859 Jan. 23—The crying of public roups and other intimations in the Churchyard after divine scrvice strictly prohibited ; the beadle in future to attach such notices to the pillar at the gate.


“By the Great and Dreadful God, the searcher of all hearts, and the just and Righteous Judge of all the world, from whose all-seeing eye nothing can be hid, and who will bring to light all those who swear falsely.

By His name, and as 1 shall answer to Him in the great day of judgment, and as I would wish to escape the visible judgments of God in this world, and His eternal judgments in the world to come. And as I would wish God to prosper me, and not blast all that I take in hand through the rest of my life and as I would wish to die a comfortable death under the sense of God’s favour, and not in the rage of an awakened and tormenting conscience, I shall declare the truth.” ....


1710 July iC—Dilation given in by the Minister, who did himself, the Last Lord’s Day, see the salmon fishers in the garth of Pitfoddels prophaning the Lord’s Day by their scandalous fishing before sun sett. The whole of these Fishermen ordered to be summoned for next Lord's Day. Compearing then they all denied, but, being unable to purge themselves, were amerciat in ten pounds scots of penalty each

1711 Jan. 28—Andrew Troup convicted of prophaning the Lord's Day, in carrying a burden of ale, in a barrow, from the Bridge of Dee to his own house after sunrising, mulcted in ten punds scots, and to appear before the Pulpit next Lord’s Day, in the sight of the congregation and profess sorrow for the scandal.

Aug. 19—John Knolls having confessed guilt of horrid and abominable swearing, ordered to go and ask his master’s pardon, thereafter to pay a monetary penalty and appear before the congregation as a penitent.

1712 Feb. 24—Penalty for antenuptial fornication, five punds scots, with sundry appearances in pillory.

1713 May 31—Agnas ffrazcr and Agnas Cowly ordained to appear before the congregation for scolding and beating one another.

1714 July 10—Magdalen Walker guilty of trelapse in fornication ordained by the Session to appear befor the congregation nine Lord’s days in sackcloath, being befor amerciat in the sum of thirty pounds scots money.

Sep. 12—Two parties, against whom a fama had been lodged, compeared before the Session and denied guilt, offering to take the oath of purgation in face of the con-gation. As the minister reported he had known persons stand as firmly resolved to purge themselves of what they afterwards were found guilty, it was ordained that they should appear on the pillory one Lord’s Day, to see if their conscience might be awaked. Session being informed that Elspet Craig is still keeping house with Robert Stuart, notwithstanding she had been told by the officer to remove, ordained that she should be again warned to remove, with this caveat—that, if they do not separat against next Session day, the Session would take care they may be put into the hands of the Justices of peace, to be punished as scandalous and profane persons.

1716 July 1—Intimation made of the deposition of Mr. Gilbert Ramsay, late Incumbent att Dyce; Mr. Alex. Gray, late Incumbent att Footie; and Mr. Richard Maitland, late Incumbent att Nigg, for their being accessary to, goeing along with, and haveing a hand in, the late horrid rebellion raised by the Earle of Marr and his adherents, and parishioners exhorted no more to look upon them as ministers, they haveing shamefully and scandalously deserted the Protestant Cause.

July 8—Deposition of other 3 ministers intimated.

1717 Sep. 29—Minister read list of excommunicated persons within the bounds of the Synod of Aberdeen, which embraced 12 for habitual adultery, 2 for uncleanness, and 4 for apostacie to popery and contumacie. These parties were subsequently prayed for and people exhorted.

1718 April 6—Robert Stuart and Elspet Craig, who had previously confessed guilt of ante-nuptial fornication and ordered to appear upon the pillory, reported to be of very ill agreement, the said Robert striking and beating the said Elspet. Session judging their further appearance in publick would be to no edification, appointed them to lie under the scandal for some time, the Minister to deal with their consciences in private, and the Elder of the bounds to have a narrow eye over them.

1718 June 1—John Craig and Alexander Main being summoned to this diet, confessed themselves guilty of scolding and using bitter words on the Sabbath day some weeks before. After being severely rebuked and admonished they were dismissed.

1719 June 7—Four Salmon Fishers confessing to their pro-phanation of the Lord’s Day, by fishing in the afternoon, were severely rebuked and admonished.

Aug. 16—John Mitchell rebuked in public, and compearing before the Session, his knowledge was found weak and he also appeared very stupid. Dismissed till he gets more knowledge.

1720 July 31—Three salmon fishers publickly rebuked for fishing about sunset on the Sabbath Day.

Dec. 25—Intimation made that one Elizabeth Chrystie is fugitive from the discipline of Old Machar, and people exhorted to give notice if they knew of her.

1723 Dec. I—Five farmers summoned to this dyet compeared, and being interrogat whether they were in John Mill’s house drinking, on the Sabbath day some time agoe. Answered they were, but that they neither stayed or drank to give any offence, that they went straight from the kirk-on purpose to take a refreshment and congratulat the said John Mill, who had his daughter married the week before; that they went sober there, having gone out of the kirk, and came as sober away as a sober man would doe if upon the road or at home refreshing himself; whereupon they were rebuked, and charged at least with the appearance of evil and misspending precious time sett apart for another use.....They appeared again on a subsequent

Sunday, when they were again rebuked and seriously exhorted, and they engaged to be more watchfull and circumspect for the future.

1728 April 14—Janet Coly, in Milltoun of Finnan, dilated for scolding at the Church gate when the congregation was dismissing, and thereby giving great scandall. The Session, considering the same, did judge her highly censurable and ordered her to be summoned.

Apr. 28—According to resolution arrived at last Lord’s Day the said Janet Coly appeared this day before the congregation and was rebuked.

1729 Nov. 30—Complaint having been given in against five parties for going to a tavern to drink on Sabbath afternoon, they are ordered to be summoned.

Dec. 7—These parties compeared, and acknowleged they had gone home with a servant newly entered to service in that house, a practice that had obtained hitherto in this place; but declared they had not been guilty of any extravagance, and, if they had known it would have given offence, they would have forborne it, promising wt’all to forbear the like practice in time to come ; whereupon the Session considering their youth, and that their reputation hitherto had been entire, they judged it proper to deal as tenderly with them as could consist with edification, and agreed to sist in a sessional rebuke, with certification, &c.; and to intimate the same from the Pulpit, in order to discourage the like practices for the future. Accordingly they were sharply admonished and dismissed.

1730 Aug. 16—The Session being informed that some of Pittfodles Tennents had yoked their horses on Sabbath evening last, and being likewise informed that they were in a manner forced to do so, did agree that they be rebuked from Pulpit, and advertised in general, to guard against such practices in time to come, with certification, &c.

Aug, 23—This day the Minister did give the Sabbath Breakers a generall admonition.

Dec. 20—Minister exhorted the congregation not to give in bad money by way of collection.

1731 March 28—An adulterer, having appeared twice before the Presbytery and nine times before the congregation in sackcloth, was to-day absolved.

May 1(5—Minister intimated the sentence of greater excommunication against Alexander Leiper, in the Parish of Nig, for blasphemy.

Oct. 3—It was reported that a great many were in yoke with horses upon the windy Sabbath night before it was dark. The Session, considering the multitude of those that were guilty, and the great temptation they were under, judged it most for edification that the minister give them a general Rebuke some Sabbath from Pulpit, and sharply admonish them to beware of such practices in time coming : with certification, &c.

Oct. 17—This day the Minister did, conform to Session’s appointment, sharply admonish those who had been guilty of leading corn on Sabbath’s evening.

1732 Aug, 27—James Williamson and William \Ialcom, who had been guilty of an abuse at a marriage in this Church, by fyring Pistols in time of worship, called before the Session, sharply rebuked and promising to amend their behaviour were dismissed.

1734 Nov. 17—The Minister from pulpit admonished the inhabitants on the North side of the Dee, especially the younger sort, to behave more gravely and decently in going in and out of the boat.

1736 July 4—It was reported that Jas. Coly was now returned, who had some time ago gone away in company with one Margaret Fraser and had left his wife and children in a starving condition. The Session considering this as a grievous scandall appointed him to be summoned to the next diet.

July 25—James Coly was called but compeared not. Elizabeth Dove his wife craving access to the Session declared that her husband had been some time in the South country, and at his return stayed with her 8 or 10 days, but upon his being summoned to the Session had again fled, she knows not to where.....

1737 Nov. 20—John Ellis and Elizabeth Freeman, both residing in Cookstown, compeared, and being interrogate anent their strife and scurrilous language to each other, they were exhorted to forgive each other and live in peace together in time coming, and to appear at next diet in order to receive a rebuke.

1738 Jan. 8—Three men and two boys in Nigg dilated for Sabbath breaking in drawing a fishing coble from Legart up to the water of Auchunies upon Sabbath last, and that about the time of the people convening to Church after the ringing of the second bell.

They were afterwards rebuked before the congregation.

1738 Jan. 22—A White Fisher in Findon acknowledged his rashness in scandalizing some of the Elders, but declaring his grief was allowed off with a rebuke.

March 19—Minister again exhorted the congregation to the faithful observation of the Sabbath day ; and especially the Salmon Fishers, and advertised them that he ^himself, together with some of the Session, according to a former appointment, were to watch this night at the water until twelve o’clock to see if any would be so wicked as to fish before that time.

April 2—Nine members of the Session watched at the several salmon fishings till 12 o’clock at night.

April 16—Elders and Deacons again appointed to watch, the Minister himself agreeing to watch the Garth of Pitfoddells and Castlehcugh.

April 23—Two of the Elders reported that when watching at the Bridge of Dee, Alexander Main and Isabel Pirie had given them abusive language. The Minister appointed to write the Minister of Nigg to prosecute them before his Session.

May 7—For the last two months process proceeded against salmon fishers for Sabbath breaking by commencing fishing operations before 12 o’clock at night. Being found guilty they were ordered to compear before the congregation on the penitential seat, but failing to do so the Presbytery resolved to excommunicate them.

1739 Jan- 14—Names of the following persons who had been excommunicated by their respective Presbyteries read from Pulpit, viz.:—Robertson, in the Presbytery of Kirkcudbright ; Strang, in Edinburgh ; and Dog, in Aberbrothick, and the people suitably exhorted.

1739 May 6—The Minister intimated that he was obliged to wait upon the General Assembly to meet this week, and therefore hoped the people would behave themselves decently in his absence and carefully keep the Sabbath day.

1740 June 29—Dilation given in against Alexander Mill, one of the Deacons, that, upon last Sabbath, he had his mill at work before ten o’clock at night, and that four witnesses saw the same. The said Alexander alleged that his boy that guides the mill had set her on too soon, without his direction, and that he was sorry that it was done at all but that he should take care that the like should not happen again in time coming. The Session taking above into consideration and finding that he had given scandal by such behaviour, and especially that it had given occasion to the Salmon Fishers to make a handle of it to justify their wicked practice of fishing on the Sabbath day, delayed any further procedure against him till further, in order to be ripely advised thereanent.

Sept. 7—The Minister intimated that Alexander Mill, formerly a Deacon, was now deposed from that office. This day also he was sharply rebuked before the congregation.

1742 Jan. 3—Elizabeth Kemp, who had given birth to an illegitimate child at the burnside of Murtle, being in a dying state her deposition taken by the Session, who exhorted the poor wretch and set a guard over her till the sheriff be acquainted. Dec. 26—The Minister represented that in regard Mr. Troup, non jurant Minister at Muchalls, had made an encroachment into this Parish by preaching at the Chapel of Portlethen, he was resolved to prosecute him for the same, and that in the meantime he was to lay the affair before the Presbytery of Aberdeen.

1743 May 29—Delinquent being resident in Aberdeen the Clerk was ordered to go there and get him to come out. The man promised to accompany, but under pretence of going for his hat and wig had absconded himself, whereupon the Clerk took a letter to the Provost, who promised to secure him if ever he appeared again.

1745 May 26—A female exposed child, found by two gentlemen on horseback, taken charge of by the Session, given out by them to nurse, and baptised “Joanna Carolina Marykirk” in respect to the gentlemen who had been the means of preserving her life.

Entries of the aliment paid for the support of the child regularly occur in the subsequent years.

1750 Feb. 18—Hugh Ross in Kemhill appointed and chosen collector for uplifting the fines of Sabbath Breakers, and the Officer appointed to ring the bell every Sabbath night at twelve o’clock at night for letting the salmon fishers know when to begin to work. Intimation made to congregation accordingly.

Sep. 2—The Minister represented that a fa,77ia had been spread in the neighbourhood that several gentlemen had come out from Aberdeen, upon Sunday, 29th July, before sermon, and after spending a great part of the day there, without repairing to any publick place of worship, and in their return home, about 7 or 8 o’clock at night, were guilty of several indecencies and gross profanation of the Lord’s Day, at different places in the Parish and upon the Highway ; such as behaving uncivilly to several women,throwing one another over among the corns, pulling a woman off her horse, beating and striking a young man on the road to the effusion of his blood, whereby they gave great evidence either of being taken with liquor, or of an abominable and wicked turn of mind, in openly disdaining to pay that religious regard to the Holy Sabbath which is due to it, both by the laws of God and man, and that he is informed that their names are [names of one clerk and six merchants in Aberdeen are here given] ; and further if the said Gentlemen should deny their being art or part in one or either of the said crimes, that some of them were so publickly committed, that there would be no penury of witnesses to prove the same. The Session taking the above into consideration agreed that a letter should be written and sent to the Kirk Session of Aberdeen to cause summon them to compear before this Session Sunday next and to return a regular execution of their summonds seasonably.

The gentlemen subsequently compeared and paying a substantial penalty each were allowed off with a sessional rebuke.

1752 April 5—Clandestine marriages strictly prohibited and act read against them.

1767 Dec. 13—Minister warned the people not to bring their dogs to the Church.

1800 July 21—Certain Farmers who permitted horses to be yoked on their Farms last Fast Day ordered to be written warning them of their danger—the Session being determined to enforce the strict observance of such Fast Days.

1806 April 27—Fornication case investigated when witnesses gave evidence as to the proceedings which had taken place at a “ Like ” held on two consecutive nights on the death of a Farmer’s wife.

1834 May 4—A disorderly meeting having been held in a Tavern on Sunday last the keeper of the same ordered to be summoned. He and his wife as also the young men who had taken part in the disorder debarred from admission to ensuing communion.

1834 July 13—Farmer having yoked his cart last Sunday to convey some Travellers on their way to Stonehaven the Session unanimously agreed that such a desecration of the Lord’s Day could not be passed over, and therefore ordered the Farmer to be summoned before them.

Subsequently compearing and expressing regret he was exhorted and dismissed with a sessional rebuke.

1837 March 5—A residenter in Cults having fallen into a state of habitual drunkenness, giving great scandal in the neighbourhood, Minister instructed not to baptize his child until he shall appear and answer to the said fama.

He aftenvards appeared and satisfied.

1839 March 31—Session had under consideration the behaviour of George . . . and resolved that application be made to the Fiscal to secure the Peace of Society and prevent the desecration of the Sabbath as regards the said George . . .

1840 Dec. 6—A family of suspicious character having arrived in the Parish, Officer ordered to cite the man to give an account of himself.

1851 May 4—Six communicants ordered to be written that reasons for their irregularity in attendance on ordinances must be furnished before admission to the communion.

Oct. 25—A Whitefisher in Findon was accused of invading one of the Elder’s houses whilst in a state of intoxication, and of using blasphemous language, and laying hands on some of the Elder’s family.

Case deferred.


1708 April 2—Said day being the anniversary of the Passion of the Sone of God special Passion sermon preached.

Aug. 26—Fast observed for the victory over the ffrench at Audenard, on nth July, by Prince Eugene and the Duke of Marlborough.

1709 Jan. 30—This being the dismal anniversary day of the Barbarous Murder of the Royal Martyr, King Charles 1st, of ever blessed memory, sermon suitable to the occasion preached.

Feb. 17—Fast observed for reduction of Ghent and Bruges, &c.

1710 May 28—This being the anniversary day of the descent of the Holy Ghost, called Pentecost or Whytsunday, Mr. Robert Jamieson preached a sermon suitable to this ffeastivall.

Nov. 8—To-day being the anniversary of the mornfull deliverance from the gunpowder plott by the detection thereof, special sermon preached.

1714 March 21—Intimation made that ffriday next being the anniversary day of the dolorous passion of the son of God it is ordained to be religiously observed and all servil work discharged, and the people exhorted to repair to the publick worship of God and to hear a Passion sermon preached.

1716 June 7—This being the day appointed for solemn and publick thanksgiving to Almighty God for suppressing the unnatural rebellion begun by the Earle of Marr and his adherents, the minister lectured and preached suitably to the occasion, on psal. 127 : 1 : 2 & 3 vrs.

1716 Nov. 11—All the people in Hilldontree, Mains of Banchorie. and Kirktown desired to attend catechising att the ordinary time of meeting on the Sabbath day, and att the ringing of the bell, the one half of them on tuesday and the other half on thursday.

Dec. 2—Minister preached. There was no lecture, the day being far spent before the people could meet, it having cost many men much work before they could water the boat and break the icc.

1717 March 24—Day of humiliation intimated because of abounding sin, the illness of the season, and a feared invasion from Sweden.

April 28—There was no sermon, the Minister falling suddenly ill of a fitt of the Gravell on the Sabbath morning.

Nov. 17—The Minister by appointment of the Presbyterie preached att ffootie in the afternoon, but, beginning early, preached here in the morning. This day Mr. Farquhar, Minister att Nigg, preached att Portlethen to supplie the Minister’s place there.

Mr. Farquhar, who was formerly Minister of Tyrie, succeeded Mr. Richard Maitland as minister of Nigg, and died 23rd December, 1756, in his ninety-first year. In his younger days he possessed herculean strength, on account of which he was frequently employed in preaching churches vacant, which had been in possession of the Episcopalians. “ On one occasion of this kind the only Presbyterian gentleman in the parish dissuaded him from doing so, as it might cost him his life. He ordered the bell to be rung, as it stopped he sallied forth, and found two fellows pommelling the bellman, on which he seized the assailants, knocked their heads together, and, having done so, stood alongside till the bell was rung out. He then invited the onlookers to follow him into the church, where he had a message for them, 1 such as they had never heard before.’ And tradition adds, they were so pleased with his services that they crowded round at his departure, inquiring when he would return again.”— (Woodrow’s Corresp. and Scott’s Fasti.)

1717 Dec. 1-—Visitation of families not observed because the water could not be crossed.

1718 Jan. 26—Weather so stormy that the people have now crossed the water three Sabbath days on the ice.

1720 June 23—This day being appointed for the visitation the Presbytrie mett at this place. Lect. ordinary, Heb. 10-38. The visitation was gone about in common form and the Minister approven.

At these Presbyterial visitations the Minister was put upon trial, his Elders and parishioners being questioned whether they had fault to find with his life, doctrine and manner of discharging his pastoral duties, and “ whether he was a dancer, carder, or dicer.” The interrogatories proceeded :— Is he proud or vain glorious ? Is he greedy, worldly, or an usurer ? Is he contentious, a brawler or fighter, and saw ye him ever drink healths ? (Abridged from Steuart of Par-dovan’s Collections). If the answers were satisfactory the Minister was approven, but if the reverse a libel invariably followed.

Dec. 16—Fast observed because of the plague in a near and neighbour nation. The Officer got a collection for burying the poor according to appointment of the Session on extraordinary days.

1722 April 15—This being the seedtime there is ane intermission of examination.

1722 June 21—Fast observed on account of the plot against the King, the illness of the weather and abounding sin.

This fast refers to the discovery of a Jacobite Plot against George I., for complicity in which Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, was banished for life.

Aug. 4—The Minister did not lectur att Banchorie, the water being so great that none could pass, and the burns in the month impassable except on horseback, so that no people cither from the south or the north part were present. No session for want of Elders.

Dec. 23—Minister preached but did not lecture, there being only about 40 persons in all the congregation, because no passage through the water, nor any travelling in the mount. The storm was such and the deepness of snow so great that, as the people affirmed, the like had not been seen for twenty years past.

1724 Jan. 5—Minister preached at Banchorie but did not lecture. The convention was so thin, the wind being great, that none could cross the water in the boat. And essaying to goe to Portlethen after sermon, in order to preach there, afternoon, he (the minister) took horse, and the rather there was a child to baptise there, but, after he had rode a piece of ground, was forced to alight, not being able to sitt on horseback, and returned home.

May 24—Intimation made of examination of the families of Easter and Middle Ardoe this evening at 4 o’clock at the ringing of the bell, they being hard by and near the kirk.

1727 Jan. 1—No sermon by reason of the Minister’s sickness. March 26—The Minister (Mr. John Maitland) being called by death, Mr. Alexander Shank, Minister at Drumoak, preached.

1728 Sep. I—No sermon this afternoon by reason public worship had been delayed longer than ordinary upon the account of a burial.

1730 Nov. 26—Fast observed upon account of the progress of popery and abounding of immorality and atheism.

1736 July 11—Intimation made to the congregation that as the Holy Sacrament could not be conveniently administered here this season such as feel inclined may repair to Maryculter.

1737 Aug. 7—Minister read from pulpit Act of Parliament anent discovering and bringing to Justice the murderers of Captain Porteous, who had been forcibly taken out of Edinburgh Prison and hanged on a dyer’s pole by a lawless mob.

1739 July 8—Minister told them he was a mind to give the sacrament once this year, but could not as yet fix upon the day.

Oct. 28—This being Communion Sunday the services commenced at 9 o’clock.

1740 Oct. 5—Minister lectured only before noon, Luke 18, 31-35, and intermitted a little by singing, and discoursed again from the said verses. Afternoon, no sermon by reason of the coldness of the day.

1746 March 2—Proclamation of His Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland read from pulpit, warning all persons who had any arms belonging to the Rebels, or concealed any of the Rebels, to deliver them up to a Magistrate or Minister of this Church.

June 26—Thanksgiving observed for the victory obtained at Culloden against the rebells.

July 6—Minister warned, by order of my Lord Ancrum. all in this Parish who had any arms to deliver them up to him or Ancrum to-morrow’s morning.

1746 July 20—Minister intimated that he was very soon to visit the Parish, and that such as had lately come to the parish provide certificates within eight days, not only of their being free of Church censure, but also of their behaviour in time of the late rebellion.

1756 Feb. 1—Fast intimated upon account of sin aboundingin the land, and the judgments inflicted on a nation allied to this Kingdom, by an Earthquake some strokes whereof had been felt in this nation as well as in other parts.

This refers to the great Earthquake of 1755 which overthrew the greater part of Lisbon—the capital and principal seaport of Portugal—and destroyed over 30,000 of its inhabitants.

1767 June 7—No sermon the Minister being sick.

June 28—Minister not being fully recovered there was no sermon, only singing of Psalms, and prayers, baptizing a child.

1773 Nov. 9—Arrangements made for celebrating communion on 13th inst. Given out to buy candles, and ropes to hang them on in the Church on Sunday, 1 4s.

1775 April 16—This day by reason of the very tempestuous day no person came to Church.

1776 Dec. 12—Fast observed for imploring the assistance of Heaven in our war with the rebellious Americans.

1783 June 11—Fast observed on account of the failure of last crop.

1793 April 18—Fast observed on account of the war with France.

1798 Nov. 25—Public Thanksgiving intimated on account of the recent victory obtained at sea, and also for the deliverance of Ireland from invasion and intestine commotions.

This refers to the victory obtained by Nelson over the French fleet on ist August, 1798. The action took place in the Bay of Aboukir, and resulted in the blowing up of the French flag-ship, LOrient, with its admiral and crew of 1000 men. Of thirteen French men-of-war nine were captured, and of four frigates only two escaped. For several years previously an organization had been going on in Ireland for the purpose of securing separation from England. Napoleon Buonaparte promised his aid to the insurgents, who, in 1798, broke into open rebellion. Several of the ringleaders were captured, and in the battle of Vinegar Hill the rebel army was routed. A French force of 900 under Humbert, which had landed in Killala Bay in Mayo, was compelled to surrender a month later at Carrick-on-Shannon.

1805 Dec. 5—Public Thanksgiving observed on account of Lord Nelson’s victory over the French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar.

1838 Feb. 25—Congregation assembled in the Schoolhouse, it being almost impracticable to get to the Church in consequence of the snow.

1848 July 9—Day of Humiliation intimated on account of state of the country.

In England many serious riots took place by a faction calling themselves “Chartists,” who, on 10th April, 1848, assembled in thousands on Kennington Common for the purpose of escorting Feargus O’Connor to Parliament with a Petition embodying their demands. Two hundred thousand special constables who had been sworn in, however, held the mob at bay. In Ireland a rising took place under O’Brien, but it was speedily suppressed.

1849 Oct- —Day of Humiliation observed on account of the ravages of cholera, and for thanksgiving on account of the late abundant harvest.

Nov. 15—Fast and thanksgiving observed on account of the almost total disappearance of the cholera from the country.

1854 April 26—Day of Humiliation observed on account of the Russian War.

Nov. 26—Intimation given that next Lord’s Day would be a day of thankfulness and humiliation before Almighty God—thankfulness for the opportune abundance of the late harvest, humiliation for the sins which have brought upon the nation the calamities of pestilence and war.

1866 March 29—Day of humiliation observed on account of the Cattle Plague.


1708 Nov. 14—Wm. King to be payed his annual agreement of 2, 10s. for maintaining Church watertight in the roof.

1711 July 1—Resolution passed for additional loft being constructed with a view to accommodating the parishioners, who have become so numerous that many have to abide in the Churchyard.

Aug. 26—Loft being now completed, at expense of 300 scots, arrangements made for farming it out for the payment of a crown, or three lib. scots, yearly for every box therein. Anyone sitting therein and not paying this sum to be considered guilty of sacrilege by wronging the poor.

1716 Oct. 21—Given out of the collections 4 libs, scots (6/8 stg.) to Jas. Sutherland for acting as Precentor of Portlethen Chapel from Whitsunday to Candlemas.

1717 Nov. 24—Collector instructed to pay 4 lib. 4s. for a wire guarded window, and the Minister instructed to recover the same from Govell, factor for the lands of Banchorie.

1718 Jan. 5—101- scots given out of the collection at the chappell of Portlethen for broads to collect with.

Feb. 16—Paid Andrew Walker, Kirk Officer, according to fashion, to buy shoes 16/-.

1721 Jan. 1—4 4s. given for divoting the roof of the kirk, and the breaches in it made by the great winds so that it was uninhabitable. This work took up 2 men 2 days in casting and 8 horse for leading and also for laying them one the roof, meat and wages.

1728 June 16—Minister reported that the part of the church lying a cove the pulpit being very ruinous insomuch that last Sabbath day the rain poured down upon him in the pulpit, which was not only very uneasy to him but likewise tended to rot the timber of the pulpit, that he understood that it had been usual to repair that small piece of the roof out of the public money, and that accordingly he had procured it to be repaired since their last meeting, and had advanced the money accordingly. The Minister produced the Slaters discharged account of 3 *7S• 6d. scots, which was approved and sustained.

June 23—Session considering the most proper way for making an effectual contribution for repairing the kirk-boat did agree that the Schoolmaster and Officer shall go to the severall towns on the North side of the water who are only concerned to support the P’boat and gather up twenty shill from each plough. And what should be wanting to be made up out of the box till the workman be satisfied.

1728 Nov. 3—Paid Alexander Donald, Mason, for five days’ work in repairing the kirkyard dykes, at ten shillings per day, 2 10/- scots.

Nov. 10—To a man for snedding the trees in the churchyard 12/-.

1730 Feb. 15—Given to the Officer three shillings scots for bringing loam from Aberdeen to help a hole in the Church.

1736 Aug. 29—Session considering that the Church Laders are very much abused by their being lent and keept a long time away, and, therefore, in order to prevent this abuse and to recover the money laid out upon them, it was agreed that whoever borrows them in time coming shall pay a penny a day for each of them.

1738 Aug. 13—Paid for a stair to the penitential seat, 1 16, -.

1742 Nov. 14—Given to the Officer for casting and leading Divots to mend holes in the Church 16/-.

1752 Oct. 22—Trees growing in the Churchyard sold for 5 16 -stg.

1760 April 6—Session met before sermon, when found that the School had been broken up last night and the Church box stollen out of it. They appointed the Clerk to go to Aberdeen and get a warrant from the Justices of Peace in order to recover it. 24. scots of reward also offered.

April 13—It was found that the box had been got on Tuesday last, upon the leys opposite to Kirktown’s Park, and 2 8 - in farthings therein, with all the papers.

1762 April 4—Presbytery meeting intimated for settling the Minister’s moss.

1773 July 8—Given for repairing the midwifes’ seat in Church 3 -

1831 Dec. 11—An evil disposed person having pierced the bottom of the Church boat in various places with a gimlet, the Session offer a reward of Two guineas for information so as to convict the delinquent.

1832 March 11—New Church boat procured at cost of 9 10s.

1837 Feb. 26—During the past week Church forcibly entered and many books stolen, 35 of which were afterwards recovered.

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