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Culross and Tulliallan
or Perthshire on Forth, its History and Antiquities with elucidation on Scottish Life and Character from the Burgh and Kirk-Session Records of that District by David Beveridge (1885) in two volumes

The Old Castle of Tulliallan


The object of the following work is twofold—to give a monograph or special history of a particular district, and at the same time, by using the civil and ecclesiastical records of that district as a basis, to present a view of the social and domestic usages of Scotland in bygone times. It may be regarded as an endeavour to combine a survey of the annals and local antiquities of a detached region of Perthshire with a contribution, though a modest one, in historical studies and folk-lore, to the general fund of archseological literature.

Culross, The Royal Burgh in Fife Scotland

Culross is an exceptionally beautiful, historical village in Scotland. It served as a port city on the Firth of Forth and is believed to have been founded by Saint Serf during the 6th century. A legend states that when the British princess (and future saint) Teneu, daughter of the king of Lothian, became pregnant before marriage, her family threw her from a cliff. She survived the fall unharmed, and was soon met by an unmanned boat. She knew she had no home to go to, so she got into the boat; it sailed her across the Firth of Forth to land at Culross where she was cared for by Saint Serf; he became foster-father of her son, Saint Kentigern or Mungo. During the 20th century, it became recognised that Culross contained many unique historical buildings and the National Trust for Scotland has been working on their preservation and restoration since the 1930s. Notable buildings in the burgh include Culross Town House, formerly used as a courthouse and prison, the 16th century Culross Palace, 17th century Study, and the remains of the Cistercian house of Culross Abbey, founded 1217. The tower, transepts and choir of the Abbey Church remain in use as the parish church, while the ruined claustral buildings are cared for by Historic Environment Scotland. Just outside the town is the 18th-century Dunimarle Castle, built by the Erskine family to supersede a medieval castle. Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald spent much of his early life in Culross, where his family had an estate. There is now a bust in his honour outside the Culross Town House. He was the first Vice Admiral of Chile. The war memorial was erected in 1921 to a design by Sir Robert Lorimer. Several motion pictures have used Culross as a filming location, including Kidnapped (1971), The Little Vampire (2000), A Dying Breed (2007), The 39 Steps (2008), and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). In September 2013, the Starz television series, Outlander, started filming in Culross for its premiere in August 2014. If you are coming to Scotland, come and see this wonderful place full of cobblestones and tiny, ancient houses.

Culross, a must see village and former royal burgh in Scotland
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The district of which the history and description form the subject of the following pages, is one which, though situated at no great distance from either the eastern or western capital of Scotland, is yet from various circumstances comparatively unknown. It is somewhat difficult of access to the majority of tourists; it contains no extraordinary or sensational wonders of natural scenery; and no very prominent or decisive event in Scottish annals has transpired within its bounds. Still it exhibits many features that are both remarkably interesting and attractive; and it is connected, by implication at all events, with several of the most important epochs in the history of our country. It presents, moreover, a special claim for consideration in the circumstance of its being for the most part virgin soil, such as has scarcely yet been exploit6 by literary investigators or pioneers; and may therefore, to carry out the metaphor, be expected to produce to the first labourers in the field a tolerably abundant harvest.

As regards the special department of inquiry on which I have adventured myself—the elucidation of old times and manners by means of the municipal and ecclesiastical records—it is a subject which of late years has attracted great and ever-increasing attention. The age has become keenly alive to the importance of having those records examined and published, in view of the light which they may be expected to shed both on historical questions, strictly so termed, and the modes of life and domestic surroundings of our ancestors. These last, it is now generally admitted, are as deserving of study as the narrative of public events and commotions, the prowess of military leaders, the succession of monarchs, or the struggle of political factions. Another ever-growing desire of the mind of the day is to penetrate behind the scenes of public history, to understand the machinery of the stage and the promptings of the actors who there played their part, so that the conduct and merits of the drama enacted may be more thoroughly realised and comprehended. The urgency of this demand is shown by the eagerness with which autobiographies of great or distinguished individuals are sought for and welcomed by the reading public. Nor has the Legislature been slow to respond to this aspiration in the extensive provision which it has made for the calendaring and publication of the State papers; and more recently, in the commission issued for the investigation of the documents contained in charter-chests and private collections.

In reference specially to the investigations of our Scottish municipal and ecclesiastical records, several labourers have already appeared. Among these, Dr Marwick has done excellent service in the analysis of the burgh records of the Scottish capital; Dr Laing has been equally successful with those of the pleasant town of Newburgh, on the banks of the Tay, and also with the ecclesiastical archives of the place, as bearing mainly on the history of the venerable Abbey of Lindores, in its immediate vicinity; Dr Ebenezer Henderson has made the kirk-session and town-council minutes of Dunfermline yield a vast amount of interesting information; and Dr Boss has produced a very entertaining little volume from the materials furnished by the session-books of the parish of Dalgety. But the chief place is to be accorded to Dr Robert Chambers, who, in his ‘ Domestic Annals of Scotland,’ by presenting to the reader a series of extracts from the civil and ecclesiastical records of past times, accompanied by a running commentary, has exhibited in an interesting and satisfactory manner, as Thomas Carlyle did a few years previously in ‘Oliver Cromwell’s Letters and Speeches,’ the principle of leaving historical documents to tell their own tale, and thus enabling the reader to form his own independent conclusions.

It is quite true that the burgh and kirk-sesssion records themselves, taken in detail, do not furnish a very entertaining or even profitable department of reading. There is often but “ a halfpenny-worth of bread to this intolerable deal of sack”—or, to speak more correctly, a modicum of good grain hidden in a mound of chaff. That is to say, the materials of useful information are frequently encumbered with prolix and tedious phraseology, or buried in a mass of tedious and uninteresting details. Yet copious stores of valuable matter exist there, and many of the entries themselves have a special interest and piquancy. By the exercise of some industry, along with a judicious selection and blending, it seems possible to produce a narrative which, even in those days of high pressure and impatience of aught savouring of the heavy or prolix, might be capable of attracting the notice and commanding the attention of ordinary readers. Such a task I have set myself to; and though I am far from confident of having accomplished it creditably, I am yet conscious of having expended all my energies and done my best towards effecting so desirable a consummation.

It may be proper to state, that whilst the following work has been written from a Presbyterian point of view, and with a strong desire to render justice to a system of ecclesiastical polity which has too often been both misapprehended and maligned in its own as well as in other lands, I have endeavoured throughout to act with the utmost impartiality and fair-play. I have in no way spared the Presbyterians, or tried to screen their failings, when their conduct has seemed in any respect indefensible; and as I have not hesitated to contemplate the humorous as well as the serious aspects of the various incidents and circumstances presented to the notice of the reader, I may possibly have exposed myself occasionally to the charge of lukewarmness or indifference in religious matters—an animadversion for which I should be sorry indeed to think that I had furnished any cause. It is a trite remark that when any one attempts to do impartial justice to all parties, he often only succeeds in drawing on himself general censure and condemnation.

Culross, Fife

Like many others of a similar kind, this undertaking took its rise from small beginnings. Having been almost accidentally induced, through the occurrence of a suitable opportunity, to investigate the earliest volume of the kirk-session records of Culross, I made a few extracts from it, and was led on gradually to extend my researches through the remaining ones, and afterwards through the minutes of the town council of Culross and the kirk-session records of Tulliallan. It was suggested to me that, with the aid of supplementary information, there could be formed out of these a consecutive narrative or treatise which might pass muster as a local history of the parishes of Culross and Tulliallan. The incitement being thus given, I proceeded to gather fresh materials, and contrived ultimately to bring the results of my researches into a regular and connected form. Every possible source of information has been tried, and every endeavour made to render the work as a whole both interesting and useful.

In conclusion, I have only to express my thanks to my relative, Mr Erakine Beveridge, of St Leonard’s Hill, Dunfermline, who very kindly took, specially for this work, the photographic views from which the chief part of the illustrations, including the frontispieces of the two volumes, have been derived; to Mr John J. Dalgleish, of West Grange, Culross, who has contributed a valuable and interesting paper on the birds of Culross and Tulliallan, which will be found in the Appendix; to Mr T. Etherington Cooke, of West Arthurlie, Barrhead, who allowed me to use, for the purposes of illustration, some of the beautiful photographs taken by him of Culross and its neighbourhood; to Major Johnston, Culross Abbey, and the Rev. John M'Gregor, Culross, for similar favours; to the Rev. William Bruce of St Serfs-next-Culross, for liberty of access to the large and excellent library at Dunimarle; to the Rev. George Stephen, of the First Charge, Culross, and Mr J. K. Penney, registrar there, for access to the kirk-session books, and to the collection of papers in the possession of the latter, formerly belonging to the corporation of the girdlesmiths; to Mr Andrew Stephen, town-clerk of Culross, for similar favours in reference to the burgh records; to the Rev. John Smeaton, minister of Tulliallan, and Mr Buchanan, registrar there, for access to the session-books of that parish; and generally to the subscribers to this work, respecting which I can only express the hope that its perusal may not be altogether unattended with satisfaction, and that any favourable expectations entertained may not be deemed to be altogether unfulfilled.

Durham House, Torrtburn, June 1885.

A walk through Culross in the company of Scotland's Online Tourist Guide


Chapter I. Topography and Natural History of the two Parishes.

Chapter II. Early History.
The Romans—Introduction of Christianity—Early Christian missionaries—Interest attaching to Culross as the residence of St Serf and birthplace of St Mungo—History of these saints —The Culdees.

Chapter III. History of Culross from the Seventeenth Century to the Reformation.
The history of Culross a blank for some centuries—Battle of Culross between the Scots and Danes—Foundation of the monastery by the Earl of Fife—Notices of its abbots—Its final suppression—End of the old regime and commencement of a new era,

Chapter IV. The Burgh Records of Culross from 1588 to 1600.
The town rises into prosperity under the industrial enterprise of Sir George Bruce—Notice of him and his family—Charter erecting Culross into a royal burgh—First volume of the town-council minutes—Acts and ordinances of the burgh— Sanitary and religious regulations—Profits and duties of the salt-pans within the burgh granted to Sir George Bruce— Notice of John Colville of Comrie and his relations the Lords of Culross—Reference to Bessie Bar—Litigation regarding her house—Criminal prosecutions in Culross—Regulations for the suppression of mendicancy—Bessie Bar’s Well—Act regarding night musicians and revellers,

Chapter V. General History of Culross from 1600 to 1629.
King James visits Culross—His adventure at the Castlehill Moat —Ministry of Mr Robert Colville—Establishment of Episcopacy—Sir George Bruce and Mr Row—Lord Edward Bruce’s duel with Sir Edward Sackville—Taylor the “Water Poet” visits Culross—His account of Sir George’s works—Destruction of the Moat by a storm—Death of the first Lord Colville of Culross,

Chapter VI. The Kirk-Session Records of Culross from 1629 to 1640.
Ecclesiastical condition of the country at commencement of this period—Death of Mr Robert Colville—Election of Mr Duncan aa his successor—Cases of ecclesiastical discipline—Elders and heritors in Culross church—Cases of discipline in connection with pilgrimages to holy wells—Commotions in consequence of the attempted introduction of the Service-book— Overthrow of Episcopacy and re-establishment of Presbytery,

Chapter VII. The Kirk-Session Records from 1640 to 1646.
Progress of events after the restoration of Presbytery—Suppression of Tale and other festivals—Prosecutions for Sabbath desecration, and for sorcery and witchcraft—Subscription of the Solemn League and Covenant—Curious case of charming —Culroes visited by the plague,

Chapter VIII. The Kirk-Session Records from 1646 to 1650.
Farther prosecutions—The “ searchers”—Notice of the Preston family—Seating of the church—Further instances of ecclesiastical vigilance—Troubles occasioned by the Engagers and Malignants—Renewed subscription of the Solemn League and Covenant—Ordinances against penny-weddings and resorting to holy wells—Establishment at Culross of a collegiate or double charge—Increased stringency of Acts for Sabbath observance—Curious session case against some revellers at a wedding—Other strange cases—Cromwell's invasion of Scotland,

Chapter IX. The Kirk-Session Records from 1650 to 1657.
Palmy days of Presbytery—Zeal of Mr Duncan in enforcing discipline—Specimens of Culross viragoes—State of matters in Scotland after battle of Dunbar—Continued strictness in enforcing Sabbath observance—Petition of people of Kincardine for disjunction from Culross and annexation to Tulliallan parish — Reports of the searchers — Regulations regarding children and scholars—Strange surgical cases—Death of Mr Duncan—Curious objections to appointment of certain elders —Mr Matthew Fleming appointed to the vacant charge,

Chapter X. The Burgh Records of Culross from 1657 to 1659
Condition of the town at the conclusion of the great Civil War —Severe exactions under Cromwell—Requisitions from the garrisons of Castle Campbell and Inchgarvie—The fleshers and boatmen called to account—Orders regarding innkeepers and members of council — A post established for Culroes— Skirmish near the town—Enactments regarding the pier and fleshmarket—Magisterial orders for enforcing cleanliness—Case of window-breaking—Prosecution of a witch—Claim of the laird of Blairhall to a right of thirlage over Culroes—The brewaters and innkeepers called to account—Action for non-fulfilment of domestic service—Mischievous trick played on a bailie’s son—Establishment of a guildry—The east port demolished,

Chapter XI. The Burgh Records from 1659 to 1665.
Schemes of General Monk for restoring Charles II.—Cases of assault and robbery—Restoration of Charles II. and events immediately following thereon—The streets of the burgh causewayed—A burgh militia established—Case of some refractory Valleyfield colliers — Gift by Sir William Bruce to Culross—Arbitrary measures of Government—Baby Sands’ Well—Opposition of Culross to erection of Valleyfield into a burgh of barony—Threatened approach of the plague—War with Holland—Proportion of taxes contributed by Culross and other burghs to general revenue of Scotland,

Chapter XII. The Burgh Records from 1666 to 1679.
Strange offence committed by a town councillor—Prices of grain in 1666—Claim of jurisdiction over Culross by Lord Colville of Ochiltree—Expectations of invasion—Enactment of sumptuary laws—Effects of the tyrannical Government of the day as experienced at Culross—Oath imposed on all holding office —Statistics of the prices of foreign liquon—Bessie Bar’s Well and the “ middings ”—Prosecutions for witchcraft—Search for Covenanters in Culross—Capture of Adam Stobow by Captain Creichton—Sir Alexander Bruce of Broomhall,

Chapter XIII. The Burgh Records from 1679 to the Revolution.
The Duke of Monmouth in Culross—Miserable condition of Scotland through ecclesiastical misrule and military lawlessness —The Test Act—Persecution of Lady Colville of Ochiltree —Charges for horse-hire in 1684—The irrepressible “middens”—Nomination of burgh magistrates by the Crown— Statute-labour roads — Feuing of Culross Moor—Birth of prince, afterwards known as the “ Old Pretender ”—Wretched condition of Culross at the Revolution,

Chapter XIV. The Kirk-Session Records from 1676 to 1684.
Ecclesiastical condition of Scotland at the Restoration—Similarity in those times of the Episcopalian and Presbyterian services—Deposition of Mr Edmonston—Leighton’s Episcopate in Dunblane—Alexander Bruce, second Earl of Kincardine— Reconstitution of the kirk-session in 1676—James Ramsay, Bishop of Dunblane and minister of Culross—Various session ordinances—Right of property claimed by the kirk-session in St Mungo’s chapel and burying-ground—Thanksgiving for the failure of the Ryehouse Plot,


Chapter XV. The Burgh Records from the Revolution to 1698.
Change of Administration following the Revolution—the Erskine family—Inventory of books and documents in possession of the burgh—Question as to the disappearance of the greater part of them—Enlistment of sailors for the fleet—Culross visited by Commissioners from the Convention of Royal Burghs—Hospitality extended to them—Interregnum in the municipal government — Culross without a magistracy for four years,

Chapter XVI. The Kirk-Session Records from 1693 to 1704.
Deposition of Mr Wright and Mr Young—Fraser of Brea appointed to the First Charge—Notice of him—Curious prosecution for “ charming ”—Ministrations by deposed Episcopal clergymen — Dispute with Lord Kincardine regarding the gravedigger—Distress and scarcity throughout the country— Fraser of Brea resigns his charge—Mr Mair appointed to the Second Charge—Case of mill-going on Sunday—Mr Fraser’s death—Vacancy for some years in the First Charge—Cases of Sabbath desecration—A “Forbes Mackenzie” Act—Act for restraining excesses at marriages—Communion occasions and tent-preachings—Notice of "Camock Fair,” .

Chapter XVII. The Burgh Records from 1698 to 1715.
Interest taken by the magistrates in ecclesiastical affairs—A censor of morals appointed—Agreement with the Valley field tacksmen for supplying coals to the burgh—Horse-races on Culross Moor—The “ Black ” and “ White ” Colonels—Deadlock in municipal affairs—Appointment of temporary managers—Order for celebrating the Queen’s birthday—Illumination of houses enjoined—Hospitality offered to refugee German Protestants—Ordinance against “late wakes”—Against revealing council secrets—The Johnston family of Sands—Price of butcher-meat in 1710—Prosecutions for using lime in the bleaching of cloth—Flag presented by Lady Maiy Cochrane—Visit of the Duke of Atholl to Culross—Commotion in anticipation of Queen Anne’s death—Accession of George I.

Chapter XVIII. The Kirk-Session Records from 1705 to 1715.
First appearance of the Black Colonel as an elder in Culross— Breaches of the Act for restraining jovialities at weddings— Ordination of Mr James Cuthbert to the First Charge—Election of deacons—Frequency of congregational fasts—Queen Anne’s Act restoring the rights of patrons allowed to remain inoperative for a time—Connection of the celebrated Thomas Boston with Culross—His marriage—Singular dream of his wife—Extent of sermonising in old times—Battling in regard to the church-seats—The grandfather of Sir John Moore appointed to the Second Charge of Culross,

Chapter XIX. The Burgh Records from 1715 to 1735.
The Jacobite rebellion of 1715—Precautionary measures taken at Culross—Notice of General Preston—Obligations of the Valley field family to him—Lord Bruce’s hospital—Proceedings of the town council — A meal-mob — Lawsuit with Colonel Erskine regarding the town moor — Gift of Sir George Preston—Tablet erected in town-house to commemorate his generosity—Regulations for supply of post-horses— Grand fracas with the Black Colonel on account of the burning of sea-ware—Court held at the “ Bore Stone ”—Act of the General Convention of Royal Burghs against importation of brandy and smuggling—Panic regarding mad dogs—Claim of jurisdiction over Culross preferred by Mr Colville of Ochiltree—Profitless expenditure in searching for coal—End of the burgh records.

Chapter XX. The Kirk-Session Records from 1715 to 1776.
Mr Alan Logan translated from Torrybum to the First Charge —Case of consulting a “ dumbie ” for discovery of a thief— Mr Geddes ordained to the Second Charge—Case of libel arising out of an allegation of “ charming ”—Stipulation with the town surgeon regarding the cure of a lame leg—Interposition by the kirk-session in favour of the girdlesmiths —Litigious disposition of the Black Colonel—Curious certificate granted by the session—Collision between the session and the heritors—Death of Mr Logan, and appointment of Webster to the First Charge—Disturbance in the Abbey churchyard by a drunken fellow—Mr Webster translated to the Tolbooth Church, Edinburgh—Notice of him—Curious case regarding the sons of Blaw of Castlehill—Notice of the Blaw family — Execution of John Blaw for murder—Mr Henry Hardie ordained to the First Charge after a long vacancy—Lint distributed by the session—Regulations regarding clandestine marriages and proclamations of banns— Fast-days ordered on account of the Rebellion of 1745— Death of Mr Geddes—Mr Cochrane successfully asserts his right to the patronage of the Second Charge—Mr Stoddart (Mr Geddes’s successor) resigns, and is succeeded by Mr Holland — Death of Mr Hardie, and appointment of Dr Erskine to the First Charge—Notice of Dr Erskine—His translation to the New Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh—Promotion of Mr Rolland to the First Charge, and ordination of Mr Moodie to the Second—Mr Moodie is transferred to Ric-carton, and succeeded by Mr M'Leish—Prevalence of infanticide—Multitude of clandestine marriages—Decay of morality —Death of Mr M'Leish, and appointment of Mr M‘Alpine to the Second Charge,

Chapter XXI. The Girdles and Ordersmiths of Culross.

Chapter XXII. The Kirk-Session Records of Tulliallan.

Chapter XXIII. General History of Culross and Tulliallan from the Middle of the Last Centuary to the Present Day.

Chapter XXIV. Monuments of Culross and Tulliallan - The Monastery and its Surroundings.

Chapter XXV. Monuments of Culross and Tulliallan - Continued.
he West Kirk—The Monks* Well—The mansion of Culross Abbey—St Mungo’s Kirk or Chapel—Objects of interest in neighbourhood of the latter—The Colonel’s “Close”—The town-house—The “ Study,” and other buildings at the Cross —The Ailie Rocks and the Blue Boulder—The Castlehill Moat—The Standard Stone and the Pulpit—The Danish camps—The old church and castle of TulHallan,

Chapter XXVI. A Local Chapter.

Chapter XXVII. An Entymological and Concluding Chapter,

Appendix. The Birds of Culross and Tulliallan.

The Ancestry Of The Younger Family of Alloa and Leckie, Gargunnock, Stirling
[Extracts from 'The Scottish Antiquary (1888) and Croft's Peerage]. A family with connections to Culross.

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