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The New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
Volume XII - Aberdeen
Parish of King-Edward


I.—Topography and Natural History.

Name.—Though the name of this parish has long been written King-Edward, yet, by the people in this part of the country, it is often pronounced Kinedart. The name is supposed to be derived from two Gaelic words, which signify the head of the valley; and the situation of the ruins of the castle of King-Edward, which stands near the western extremity of the narrow valley in which the church is situated, may give some countenance to this derivation.

Extent and Boundaries.—The parish extends in length from west to east about 11 miles; its breadth varies from about 2 to 5; and it contains about 28 square miles. It is bounded on the south, by the parish of Turriff; on the west, by Alvah; on the north-west, by Banff; on the north, by Gamrie; on the east, by Aberdour and New Deer; and on the south-east, by Montquhitter. The river Doveran separates it from Banff and Alvah; but a part of the latter parish, about a mile in breadth, which lies on the east bank of the Doveran, and which meets the parish of Gamrie, completely cuts off the north end of this parish from the rest. The farthest extremity of this disjoined part, which comprehends the estate of Montcoffer, lies within half a mile of the town of Banff, and is about four miles and a half from the parish church. The distance of the manse from Aberdeen, the county town, is forty miles.

Topographical Appearances and Climate.— This parish is of an oblong, irregular figure. It is diversified with high and low grounds, though there is no hill of any eminence within it. The temperature in the western part is rather milder than in the eastern. In the eastern quarter, however, the climate has of late been much improved by extensive draining. Snow seldom lies long on the banks of the Doveran, or in the valley in which the church is situated. The eastern part abounds in mosses, which considerably affect the temperature,—in consequence of which the different kinds of crops are rather later in coming to maturity than in the western. The north-west wind is the coldest which blows here; the east wind is generally accompanied with rain, which is pretty frequently predicted by clouds thickening in the west.

The climate, as has been stated, varies a little in the opposite ends of the parish, but, upon the whole, it may be said to be healthy, as instances of longevity are not rare. The late minister, Dr Duff, held the living for sixty years. An old woman on the estate of Eden died in 1833, at the age of 108; and her eldest son, who at the time of his mother's death was aged 88, died last winter at the age of 93. An old woman also died here last winter, who was supposed to have reached 100. Consumption and rheumatism are the diseases to which the inhabitants are most liable.

Hydrography.—The parish is intersected by a considerable number of rivulets. The river Doveran, which flows into the sea at Banff, runs along the western boundary of it for several miles. There is a fine large stream, named the Burn of King-Edward, which runs from east to west along the valley of King-Edward, and joins the Doveran about a mile to the west of the church. The source of one of the branches of it is near the church of Gamrie, within a mile and a half of the sea, and about eight miles and a half from its junction with the Doveran. The point of junction is about five miles from the mouth of the river. The parish is, upon the whole, well supplied with excellent springs.

Geology and Mineralogy.—In so extensive a parish, as may be supposed, there is a great variety in the nature of the soil. In many places, it consists of a black loam upon a gravelly or rocky subsoil; in others, it is of a clayey nature. On the low grounds on the banks of the Doveran, it is principally alluvial, and very rich. On the higher grounds, in the eastern quarter, it is generally mossy, superincumbent upon a gravelly or clayey subsoil. In some places it is very fertile, in others the returns are poor.

There are extensive mosses on the estates of Fisherie and Byth, from which the inhabitants are supplied with peats and turf for fuel.

There is nothing very remarkable in the mineral productions. Greywacke and clay-slate are found in the western quarter, and red sandstone in the eastern. It is believed, also, that a quantity of iron ore exists in the parish.

Botany.—Among the botanical productions of this parish may be mentioned the following:—

II.—Civil History.

Eminent Men.—Among the eminent characters who have been connected with this parish, may be mentioned Dr William Guild, who was minister here in the early part of the seventeenth century, for about twenty-two years. He was afterwards one of the ministers of Aberdeen, and Principal of King's College. He published several theological works, and seems to have been a man of very considerable learning, as well as of much benevolence of mind. He endowed an hospital in Aberdeen, now enjoying an ample revenue, for the incorporated trades of that city, and this parish receives yearly L. 6, 10s. from the treasurer of Aberdeen, being the interest of a mortification made by his widow, Catharine Rolland, for the benefit of the poor.

Sir Thomas Urquhart, the author of the "Jewel," who was connected with the family of Craigston, if he did not reside in this parish, seems to have taken an interest in it, for the inscription on the massive silver communion cups shews that they were a joint present from Dr Guild, Sir Thomas Urquhart, and John Urquhart of Craigfintrie, the former name of Craigston.

Sir Whitelaw Ainslie, M. D., the author of "Materia Indica" and other works, for a considerable number of years before his death, used to spend the summer months in this parish. His remains are interred within the church.

Land-owners.— The heritors of the parish are, the Earl of Fife, William Urquhart, Esq. of Craigston; James Grant Duff, Esq. of Eden; Beauchamp Colclough Urquhart, Esq. of Meldrum, who is proprietor of Byth, in this parish; Mrs Duff Mackay of Balmaud; and James Taylor, Esq. of Mill of Balmaud.

Parochial Registers.—The date of the earliest parochial register is 1704, when the first Presbyterian minister was settled. The register was kept with considerable attention for some years, but for a very long period there were no entries in it. The register of baptisms commences in 1728, and the register of marriages in 1784.

Antiquities.— The ruins of the castle of King-Edward stand on a rocky eminence, on the east side of the Turriff and Banff turnpike, about a mile and a quarter south-east of the church. The castle belonged originally to the Cumines, Earls of Buchan. The castle of Eden has also been long in ruins. Craigston Castle, the residence of William Urquhart, Esq. of Craigston, was built about the beginning of the seventeenth century, by John Urquhart, commonly called Tutor of Cromarty. It is a fine old building, and the grounds about it are much embellished. Byth House is also an old building, but has been much enlarged and improved by the present proprietor. The grounds about it are tastefully laid out, and ornamented with thriving wood.

The church seems to have been built during the incumbency of Dr Guild. His initials are engraved on a stone above the west door. From the date 1621, on an arched gateway leading into the church-yard, of the same style with the church, it would appear that the church had been erected about the same time.

Within, and on the north wall, near the east end of the church, is a monument with the following inscription: "Joannes Urquhart, hoc in honorem Dei, et matris suae Beatricis Innes, domina a Cromertie memoriam erexit opus, anno 1599. The inscription is in relief on a tablet of freestone, within a semicircular arch, around the exterior rim of which is a border of Scottish thistles, executed with much neatness. The arch rests on a base of freestone, under which there are five panels neatly cut, also of the same material. In Craigston's aisle, which is connected with the church, are likewise monuments to the above John Urquhart, Tutor of Cromarty, and to other members of the family.

Modern Buildings.— Montcoffer House belongs to the Earl of Fife. It is close to his Lordship's Duff House Park, a part of which lies in this parish. It is beautifully situated, and the prospect from it is very fine. Eden House, the residence of James Grant Duff, Esq. is also a modern building. It stands on a rising-ground, on the east bank of the Doveran, and commands a fine view both up and down the river.


The population of late has been considerably increased by the Earl of Fife letting waste lands on the estate of Fisherie in small portions to new settlers. In 1835, it was 2160. The village of Newbyth, near the eastern extremity of the parish contains 302 inhabitants.

All the proprietors possess lands of greater yearly value than L.50.

The resident heritors are, Mr Urquhart of Craigston; Mr Grant Duff of Eden [Formerly political resident at Satara, and author of the History of the Mahtattas..]; Mr Urquhart of Byth (occasionally); and Mr Taylor of Mill of Balmaud.

At. present, there are 3 fatuous persons in the parish, 1 blind, and 2 deaf and dumb. The two deaf and dumb individuals are both shoemakers, carrying on business on their own account. The younger of the two, about twenty-two years of age, was educated at the Deaf and Dumb Institution in Aberdeen; writes a good hand; and is well acquainted with the principles of the Christian religion.

Habits of the People.—The inhabitants of this parish may be characterized as decent and orderly in their conduct; and regular in their attendance at church, where they appear dressed in a very respectable and becoming manner.


Average rent of land per acre, about 15s.; rental of the parish about L.5770; valued rent, L. 4098, 6s. 8d. Scots. Some of the land lets at about L. 2, 10s. an acre.

Plantations.—The Scotch firs, which form the principal part of the plantations here, have all been planted. We have, besides, the ash, the beech, the larch, the spruce fir, the oak, the plane, and the chestnut.

Rate of Wages.—Ploughmen from L. 5 to L. 7 in the half-year; maid-servants from L. l, 10s. to L. 2, 10s.—all including lodging and maintenance. A mason has 16s. a-week in summer without board; a wright from 8s. to 9s. a-week with board; a tailor, 1s. a-day with board.

The average rate of keeping a cow may be about L. 3 in summer, and L. 2 in winter; and a sheep may be kept all the year for about 7s.

Live-Stock.—The Aberdeenshire or Buchan breed of cattle generally prevails here, though of late years the Teeswater or short-horned cattle have been introduced into the parish. Many, however, entertain a great prejudice against the latter. They require to be kept in a very superior manner, and the quality of the food is reckoned inferior to that of the Aberdeenshire breed. "Mr Grant Duff of Eden, however, who began to introduce the improved short-horned cattle from Yorkshire about five years ago, and has since continued at intervals to import animals of the highest pedigree, inclines to the same opinion as Captain Barclay of Ury, in Kincardineshire, who asserts, as the result of his longer experience, that these cattle are more easily maintained than the Aberdeenshire breed. Mr Grant Duff has no hesitation in saying that, as far as he has tried them, they are sooner brought to maturity, have a greater aptitude to fatten, are much better milkers, and that such as are bred in this country are remarkably healthy, and as hardy as the ordinary cattle of the district; but that no accurate judgment can be formed of the short horns, unless greater attention be paid to the purity of the blood, and care be taken to cross only with superior males."

The sheep are generally of the Highland and Leicester breeds. "Some of a superior quality are kept on the estate of Eden. They are strong hardy sheep, and chiefly a cross between the Leicestershire and Cotswold, from Gloucestershire."

Husbandry.—The rotation of cropping observed, is generally the following: 1. turnips; 2. oats or barley laid down with grass seeds; 3. grass for hay; 4. grass for pasture; 5. grass for pasture; 6. oats ; and 7. oats. One of the heritors, however, requires his tenants to follow a five course shift, allowing only one grain crop after the land has lain in grass for two years. This mode of cropping is thought to be less encouraging to the growth of weeds than the former. There is very little wheat sown in the parish.

The tenants here have introduced many of the late improvements in agriculture. They are every year bringing into cultivation waste land, and in many cases their improvements have amply repaid them. On the estate of Eden, within the last twelve years, all the unproductive land has been either reclaimed or planted; belts and clumps of trees have also been planted both for ornament and shelter; an extensive moss has been drained and brought into cultivation, by which the climate in the neighbourhood has been much improved, the property has been divided into compact farms, and laid off in properly proportioned fields, most of which have already been enclosed with stone fences and hedges. "The sum laid out in improvements already greatly exceeds the value of the property at the time of their commencement, and it is to be hoped that the yearly value has also been more than doubled. Draining has been carried on annually to a great extent, and the frequent drain system had suggested itself to the proprietor, and been practised by him before he was aware of the experiments of Mr Smith of Deanstoun. Mr Grant Duff's furrow drains are from 30 to 36 inches deep, varying in width from 10 to 18 inches, generally built with an eye or conduit in the bottom, and filled with small stones to within 15 or 16 inches of the top. His large drains for carrying off springs in bogs and mosses, are from 5 to 7 feet deep, filled with stones to within 2˝ or 2 feet from the surface. He uses no tiles, and gives the preference to stone drains, none of which have even been choked, or gone materially wrong."

"Trench ploughing was also introduced into this neighbourhood upwards of twelve years ago, by a proprietor in a neighbouring parish, Mr Leslie of Dunlugas, and was immediately adopted by Mr Grant Duff, who has trench-ploughed about 700 acres of his estate, and, in every instance, when the land has been sufficiently drained, the deep ploughing has been very successful. Even on a gravelly soil, apparently of depth not admitting of an ordinary furrow, and apparently most unfit for such an experiment, this system has been pursued, and attended with results highly satisfactory."

"The subsoil plough, although not uncommon in the neighbourhood, has not yet been adopted in this parish, although there is much soil which might be greatly ameliorated by its introduction. Oxen, yoked three abreast, with two powerful horses in front, make an efficient strength for a trench plough in the stiffest soil, and will generally plough half an acre to the depth of 14 inches in five or six hours."

Enclosures are also going on in the property of the Earl of Fife. We have stone fences and hedges from Danshillock, skirting the turnpike all the way to Banff, a distance of five miles, which, with the exception of those on the estate of Eden, were executed by his Lordship about three years ago. The farms are generally held under leases of nineteen years.

Quarries.— There are quarries of greywacke occasionally wrought in the western quarter of the parish, and in the eastern quarter there are quarries of red sandstone.

Fisheries.—The principal salmon-fishing on the Doveran belongs to the Earl of Fife. His Lordship is proprietor of both sides of the river, and the rent derived from it is L. 1600. It might be difficult to say what proportion of it might fall to this parish. There is also a salmon-fishing on the estate of Eden, and another on the property of Craigston. The former, which is now in the hands of the proprietor, used to let for L. 20 a-year, and the latter may be worth about L. 5.

V.—Parochial Economy.

The only village is Newbyth, which is situated in the eastern quarter of the parish, about nine miles from the church. It stands on a gentle eminence, and consists of two streets nearly at right angles to one another. It was begun to be feued in 1764. The land surrounding it, particularly towards the south and east, is of very good quality. Many of the inhabitants have small lots of land. There are in it several shopkeepers, and two inns. There is also a distillery. A chapel in connection with the Establishment was erected here, about forty-seven years ago. Mr Urquhart of Mel-drum, who is proprietor also of Byth, is superior. The number of inhabitants is 302.

Market-Towns.—Banff and Macduff are the nearest market-towns, the former distant five, and the latter four miles and a-half, from the parish church.

Means of Communication.—The mail-gig from Aberdeen to Banff passes and repasses every day along the turnpike road, about half a-mile to the east of the manse. The Earl of Fife coach from Aberdeen to Banff also passes and repasses daily. The nearest post-office is in Banff. We have also several carriers weekly to Aberdeen. There is a penny post-office in the village of Newbyth, in connection with Turriff. The turnpike road from Aberdeen to Banff is carried about three miles and a-half along the western quarter of the parish, and the Banff and Buchan turnpike runs about five miles and a-half along the north-eastern quarter. The bridges connected with the roads are kept in good repair. In Lord Fife's park, connected with Duff House, there is a very singular bridge of one arch over the Doveran, called the bridge of Alvah. The scenery on both banks of the river here is very much admired. Part of the park is in this parish.

Ecclesiastical State.—The church is a very inconvenient old building. It stands about a mile from the western boundary of the parish. From the irregular figure of the parish, it might be difficult to point out a situation for a new one that might be most convenient for the parishioners; but the inconvenience of the present situation is now greatly remedied, by the erection of a chapel, seated for about 400 persons, in connection with the Establishment, in the village of Newbyth, about nine miles from the parish church, and about two from the east end of the parish. This chapel also accommodates portions of the parishes of Aberdour and New Deer. The church affords accommodation for 550 persons. The tenants pay no rent for their seats. Their is a gallery in the church belonging to the kirk-session, the seats in which are let for sixpence each, to those who are not otherwise accommodated.

The manse was built in 1767, and was repaired in 1833. The offices were built in 1829, and are both ample and convenient. The glebe consists of about 12 acres arable, and of about 2 of natural pasture. The garden, manse, and offices may occupy about one acre. One part of the glebe, of about 5 acres, called Bogburrie, was mortified in 1617, to Dr Guild and his successors in office, by Arthur Lord Forbes, who had at that time lands in this parish ; and in 1626, another part of it called the Kirkhill, was mortified by Patrick Meldrum of Eden, to the same worthy individual and his successors. The yearly value of the glebe may be about L.15.

The stipend is 16 chalders, one-half meal and one-half barley, payable by the fiars prices of the county, and L.10 for communion elements. The Crown is patron.

The minister of the chapel at Newbyth, the Rev. Gilbert Brown, receives L. 40 a year from the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, and a like sum from seat-rents and collections. His hearers supply him with peats for fuel. He has also a good manse and a glebe of about 9 acres. The managers of the chapel, by the liberality of Mr Urquhart of Meldrum, who is proprietor of Byth in this parish, hold the glebe at a very low rent.

About six miles east of the church is an Independent chapel, -seated for 200, the minister of which is, I believe, paid from seat-'rents, collections, &c. In 1835, when the census of the parish was taken for the Royal Commissioners, the whole number of souls in the parish connected with this body was 127. There is also a house in the village of Newbyth in which the Catholic service is occasionally performed. The bishop resides at Priestholm, in the parish of Rathven.

Persons belonging to the Established Church, 1863; Episcopa-lians, 81; Independents, 127; persons belonging to Associate Synod, 19; persons not known to belong to any Christian community, 50; Roman Catholics, 15; Baptists, 5.—Total 2160.

Divine service at the parish church and also at the chapel at Newbyth is well attended. The number of communicants at both about 880, being 470 at the church, and 410 at the chapel. There are two extraordinary collections at the church yearly, one for the Infirmary of Aberdeen, which averages about L. 2, and the other for the General Assembly's India Mission, which may average from L. 3 to L. 4. The average amount of collections for the poor at the parish church is about L. 38 a-year. The collections at the chapel of Newbyth go principally to the general purposes of the chapel.

Education.—Besides the parish school, there are other two schools in the parish,—one in the village of Newbyth, and the other a Fisherie. The branches taught at all the three are nearly the same, viz. English reading, English grammar, arithmetic, geography, Latin, practical mathematics, and book-keeping. The salary of the parish schoolmaster is L.34, 4s. 4˝d., with a house and garden. He has also the benefit of the Dick bequest. The salary of the teacher at Newbyth is about L.6, paid by the heritors; and that of the teacher at Fisherie, about L.5, arising from subscriptions. Each of them has a house and garden. The fees at the parish school may average about L. 10. Besides the above, there is a school lately erected at the northern extremity of the parish of Turriff, supported by subscription, and a small sum from one of the heritors, which accommodates a considerable number of young people belonging to this parish. All these seminaries are regularly visited. The means of instruction are now within the reach of all the young people in the parish.

There are also two Sabbath schools here, one under the superintendence of the minister of the parish, and the other under that of the minister of the chapel at Newbyth, both of which are pretty well attended.

Library.—In the village of Newbyth there is a library lately instituted, which is supported by subscription.

Savings Bank.—A savings bank was established here about three years ago. The deposits already amount to about L.1030. To the class in life of which the depositors consist, an institution of this kind must be productive of much good. Its effects here have already been of the most beneficial description, for many have now saved a little who would otherwise have had nothing.

Poor and Parochial Funds.—The number of poor at present on the roll is 32. During the last year, thirteen others received occasional supplies. The income of the session, arising from collections at the church, fines, donations, interest of L. 210 at two per cent., and the yearly amount of the mortification (L.6, 10s.) formerly mentioned, amounted last year to L. 73, 3s. 2d., while the expenditure was L.78, 10s. 2d. The demands on the kirk-session have increased of late years; and it is much to be regretted that that spirit of independence which formerly prevailed is now on the wane.

Fairs.—There are three fairs held yearly at Newbyth.

Inns.—There are five inns within the parish.

Fuel.—The fuel principally used consists of peats. The expense of cutting, drying, and carrying them home is very considerable to the inhabitants of the western district of the parish, who are at a distance from the mosses; in consequence of which, many of them also use coals, which are procured at Banff or Macduff.

Miscellaneous Observations.

Since the publication of the former Statistical Account in 1793, a great improvement has taken place in the system of husbandry. Agriculture is well understood, and the tenants are in general ready to adopt every improvement. Bone-manure is now extensively used in the raising of turnips ; and lime is also judiciously applied. The land here is likewise much benefited by manure and herring refuse, which are brought from Banff and Macduff. The houses of the tenants have also undergone a great improvement within the last forty years. Many of them are now slated, and in other respects are both convenient and comfortable. The Turriff and Banff, and the Banff and Buchan, turnpike-roads have been productive of much benefit to this parish. The roads in the interior have also been made much better of late years; and the great improvements which have been carried on have been the means of giving steady employment to the labouring classes, whose comfort has thereby been much promoted.

January 1840.

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