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The History of Blairgowrie
By John A. R. MacDonald (1899)


“The Barony of Blairgowrie—a gift fit even tor a Queen to bestow.”—Queen Mary to Ronald Graeme..

THE volume now published has been the work of my leisure for many months, but the collecting and compiling has been the labour of nearly fifteen years. During that period the MS. has been revised, condensed, and re-written five times. It was undertaken more from regard to the necessity of meeting a want long felt to exist than from any sense of fitness for the task. The Rev. James Johnstone’s contribution to the Statistical Account of Scotland is very valuable, and is reproduced in its entirety, yet lip to 1865, when Ireland’s handbook was issued, no History of Blairgowrie existed. In supplying the want referred to, I have endeavoured to collect and compile, as far as possible, the historical facts, records, and traditions, in the hope that they will interest and gratify the sons and daughters of “ Rest and be thankful,” especially those scattered abroad, with the memories of the good old town.

I desire to express my obligations to those writers (a list of whom is given) of whose labours I have availed myself, and also to many townsmen who have kindly afforded me the use of materials in their possession, or communicated information tending to make the volume more complete To Rev. Robert Kemp, M.A., for the “Parochial Registers”; to Mr G. S. Duncan, P.S.A., Scot., for "Church Records”; to Mr William Davie, for “Notes on Blairgowrie”; to Mr A. Davidson Smith, O.A., Edinburgh, Secretary of Royal Caledonian Curling Club, for permission to reproduce the illustration, “Curlers of Blairgowrie”; to Messrs C. & R. Anderson, publishers of “North British Agriculturist,” Edinburgh, for block of “John Pauton”; to Mr John L. Ford, merchant, for blocks “At Blairgowrie,” “The Square, Wellmeadow,” “Keith Falls,” and “Craighall”; to Mr J. E. Butchart, litho. artist, and Mr Robert Blackwood, lithographer, Dundee, for the excellent litho. portraits and sketches; and to Mr Alex. Allan, of the “Blairgowrie Advertiser,” for all other blocks reproduced in the volume.

My thanks are specially due to Mr John Christie, of the “Blairgowrie Advertiser,” for his valuable assistance in the correction of proof sheets, and in the supervision of the work while passing through the press.

I trust that the volume (imperfect as it may be) now submitted to the indulgent consideration of the public, will promote an intelligent and healthy interest in all that pertains to the Town, Parish, and District.

J. A. R. M.
16 Newton Street, Blairgowrie, 3rd March, 1899.



Chapter I.
Situation of the Town—Extent of the Parish—Topography -Latitude and Longitude—Etymology of Blairgowrie - Traditions—Description of the Town Origin of Street Sames—Soil—Geology — Quarries — Fossils—Wood —Arboriculture — Piscatorial—Zoology,

Chapter II.
Authentic Records—Roman Invasions—Suetonius Paulinus— Julius Agricola—Galdus—Mons Granipius—Site of the Battle —A Bone of Contention— Opinions of Eminent Men—Tacitus —Description of the Battle—A Disputed Victory—Sad Experience of the Romans — False Reports — Vespasian — Evidences of the Struggle— Tulina—Emperor Severus— Bridge of Lornty—St Ninian’s Well—Invasion of Northmen —Kenneth M‘Alpin—Regner Lodbrog—Inchtuthil—Battle of Stenton Craig -Bloody Inches—Church and Lands of Blair—Kinclaven Castle taken by Wallace—Robert the Bruce at Stormont Looh—Highland Caterans—Battle of Glasclune—Drummond Feud and Massacre—Queen Mary’s Summons—Offers by Murderers—Their Trial and Execution —Bond of Manrent,

Chapter III
King Charles I.—Charter of Burgh of Barony—Barony Court— Gallows Knowe—Montrose—Sacking of Newton Castle— Donald Cargill—John Erskine—The Ghost of Mause: Full Description—Prince Charlie and the Curlers’Dii-rer—Duke of Cumberland at Woodlands—Division of the Muir of Blair—Coble Pule—Boat Brae—Muckle Mill Erected—Purchase of Blairgowrie Estate—Military Service in Blairgowrie—Enrolment Returns, 1803—A Rille Corps—A Distinguished Officer—Burgh Charters—Erection of Parish Church—Stage Coach—Introduction of Gas and Printing—Visits of the Queen—Auld Brig o’ Blair—An Incident of the French Resolution—The First Newspaper—Introduction of the Railway Service—A Good Story—Burns Centenary Celebration—Inauguration of Volunteer Movement, 1859

Chapter IV.
Founding of Public Hall—Earl Russell at Meikleour—Address from Inhabitants—Public Banquet—Address by Meikleour Tenantry—Earl Russell’s Speech—Opinions of the Press—A French View—Introduction of Water Supply—Report and Analysis of Water—Drainage of Town—Erection of New Schools—Opening Up of Commercial Street—Planting Trees in Wellmeadow—Franchise Demonstration—County Council —Boundary Commission—Public Park : a Generous Gift— Burgh Seal—Macpherson Memorial Fountain—New Sewage Works—Visit of Lord Wolseley—The Bailies of Blair— Magistrates—Provosts,

Chapter V
Original Inhabitants of Scotland—Druids and ^Druidical Remains— Standing Stones—Haer Cairns—Tumuli— Store Mount Blairs—Buzzard Dykes—Bloody Inches—Steed Stalls— Roman Relics—Lo^al Antiquarian Collections-Relics in Scottish Antiquarian Museum—French Bell— IFrchen Hill -Agreements and Charters—Interesting Map-Seals of Families- -Pedigree of Drummonds of Blair—Copy of Two Letters by King James the Seventh—Notes from Rental Book of Coupai Abbey—Cally—Murtoun—Blair -Old Parish Tokens,

Chapter VI.
Ecclesiastical State—Parish Church and Ministers—Associate Antiburgher Secession Church—Brown Street Chapel -St. Mary’s Church—First Free Church- -Free South Church—St Catherine’s Church—St Stephen's Church—Congregational Church-Extracts from Parochial Registers—Shearing on Sabbath— Sel’ing Aile in time of Sermon—English Army in Scotland—Collection in Aid of Glasgow— No Session Applicant for Schoolmaster—An Indigent Baronet—Act Anent lirydals—In the Jouggs—The Boatman of Blair -Administering the Lord's Supper -Irregularities—Sabbath Breach— Communion Cups —New Schoolhouse—Poor’s Rates Established—Sunday Shooting Match for a Sow—Population— Schools and Schoolmasters—Parish School—James Street School—Will’am Street School—New Public Schools— Episcopal School—Dames’ Schools—Adventure Schools—St Stephen’s R. C. School—Sextons of Parish of Blair,

Chapter VII.
Statistical Account of the Parish, 1796 -Population and Statistical Table—Conditions and Professions—Births, & c.— Religious Persuasions — Stock, Rent, &c. — Population-Character-Origin—Extent, Surface. Situation, Soil, See. -Cattle- -Prices of Provisions and Labour—Bleaclifield, Cloth, Stamp Office—Climate and Diseases--Rivers, Cascades, Fish, Birds. Scenery, .Vc.—Lakes, Islands, &c. -Minerals and Mineral Springs -Woods—Manufactures, Mills. &c.— Ecclesiastical State. Schools. &c. — Poor — Village and Markets—State of Propni-ty, Inclosures, &c.—Agriculture, Produce, &c. -Improvements, Farm Rents. &c. -Roads and Bridges—Gentlemen’s Seats—Eminent Men—Antiquities— Disadvantages,

Chapter VIII.
Castles and Mansions—Legends, Ballads. &c.

Chapter IX.
Institutions, Societies, &c.—Banks—Barty Mortification—Blairgowrie and District Photographic Association—Choral Society—Constitutional Club—Dramatic Society—Dundee, Blairgowrie and District Association Edinburgh Blaiigow rie Club—Evening Classes—Free Masonry—Horticultural Society — Literary Societies — Mechanics’ institute — Post Office—Press—Shepherds—Volunteer Rifle Brigade,

Chapter X.
Manufactures—Lornty Mill—Bronklinn—Oakbank—The Meikle Mill—Ericht Linen Works—Green bank Engineering Works —Millwright Works—Brewing—Ancient Trade—Recollections of the Past—A Merchant’s Rhyme—The Whisky Roadie and its Associations—Duncan Watchie—Posty Reid —The Toon’s Officers—The Guard House—The Bell o’ Blair-Lily Harris—Matthew Harris—Tammy Mann—Daft Hary— John Couper -Quoit Clul)—Candy Betty—Smith Lamont —Voluntary Constables—Abram Low and the Welltown Brownies—Isaac Low, the Ingenious Blacksmith,

Chapter XI.
Sports, Pastimes, &c.—Angling—The Ericht as a Salmon Itirer— Fishways on the Ericht—Pish Ladders for Loch Benachally —Ardle—Blackwater—Ericht — Lornty—Lunan—Tay—Isla Drimmie Burn—Fyall Burn—Lochs Benachally, Butterstone, Clunie, Marlee, Loch o’ the Lowes, Stormont" llae, Fengus, White, &c.—Bowling—Cricket — Curling—Cycling-Pair o’ Blair—The Fair o’ Blair 50 Years ago—Football—Go) C— Gymnastics,

Chapter XII.
Eminent Men, &c.—Drummond of Newton—George Drummond— May Drummond—Blair of Ardblair—Mercer of Meikleour— Admirable Crichton—Thomas Graham (Lord Lynedoch)— Rattray of Rattray and Craighall—Grimond of Lornty— Professor Adams Rev. John Baxter—Maepherson of Blairgowrie—Allan Macpherson—Dr James Neilson—William Geddes—- David C. Robb—John Bridie—Dr Robert Lunan— Thomas S. Bisset—John Panton, &c., &c.

Chapter XIII.
Walks and Drives around Blairgowrie—To Lornty and the Heughs—Round Knock-ma-har—Round the Golf Course— Places of Interest near Blairgowrie—Distances from Blairgowrie—The Royal Route—Blairgowrie to Dunkeld—To Alyth—To Coupar Angus.

Chapter XIV.
Curious, Interesting, and Amusing.—A Blairgowrie in America —A Curious Despatch from India—A Blair Chiel’ Mayor of Dunedin—A Blair Highlander in Russia—Pennant's Description of Blair—Copy of a Burgess Circular—Waterloo Heroes connected with Blairgowrie—An Interesting Operation on the Ameer—Blairgowrie in 1800 Blairgowrie 100 Years Ago — Statistics of Death Rate —“Blair Watter Curlin’ Stanes” — Blairgowrie Instrumental Band — The Hymn Tune, “Blairgowrie ’’—Forest of Clunie Farms—The Catty Mill — Carsie Scutching Mill — Baldornoch Slate— Merchants’ Pic-Nic — St Fink — Benachally Monument — Parish Kirk Elders—Copy Letter from the Young Chevalier —The Bridge of Craighall—The Priest’s House—The Ash Trees—Parish Church—Illuminated Clock—Athletics—An Inducement to Feuars on Blairgowrie Estate—Montrose Disbands his Army near Blairgowrie—Genealogy of the Family of Blair—Blairgowrie Volunteers in 1804— Interesting Despatches from India, 1858—A Local Violin Maker, &c.,


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