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The New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
Volume XII - Aberdeen
Parish of Old Machar


THE REV. P. FORBES, D. D., Minister

I.—Topography and Natural History.

The parish of Old Machar was originally a deanery, called the Deanery of St Machar, and comprehended the parishes of Old Machar, New Machar, and Newhills. In times of Popery, they do not seem to have been divided into separate parishes, but to have been chapels in the deanery, at which chapels divine worship was regularly performed, as the inhabitants of so extensive and populous a district could not conveniently meet in one place for public worship. New Machar seems to have been erected into a separate parish about the time of the Reformation; and Newhills about the year 1663.

The extent of this parish is great, and its form irregular. Its south-east corner forms the north and west boundaries of the city of Aberdeen, or parish of St Nicholas. It extends about three miles up the Dee, by which river it is bounded on the south, and divided from the parish of Nigg, and county of Kincardine. The western boundary stretches in a crooked line from the Dee to the Don, at the distance of about two miles and a-half from the parish church. By this line it is divided from the parishes of Nether Banchory and Newhills. Crossing the Don, it extends a mile and a-half farther up the river, making in all four miles from the river's mouth. On this part the Don divides it from the parishes of Newhills and Dyce; its northern boundary passes by the parishes of New Machar and Belhelvie, till it joins the sea at the Black Dog, forming a sweep, every part of which is distant from the parish church at least four miles. On the east, it is bounded by the sea, from the Black Dog to Aberdeen, the extent of coast being about five miles. Its greatest length, from north to south, may be seven or eight miles, and its greatest breadth about four miles.

This parish rises in a gentle slope from the sea, and though there is no eminence in it that deserves the name of a mountain, its surface is beautifully diversified by rising grounds. The windings of the Dee and the Don, the manufactories, and the woods on the banks of the latter, some detached clumps of planting on the rising grounds, interspersed with a number of gentlemen's seats and villas,—together with the various prospects of the sea, the rivers, the cities of Old and New Aberdeen, and the villages of Gilcomston and Woodside,—give a pleasant variety to the general appearance of this parish.

The soil is in some places naturally fertile; in others barren.

II.—Civil History.

Land-owners.—The principal of these are,

City of Aberdeen.
  Per Master of Kirk and B. Works,  L. 579 16 10 Valued rent.
  Treasurer,                                        248  2   0
  Master of Mortifications,                    200  0   0
  Union Street Trustees,                      138  9   8
                                                    L.1166  8   6

The present parish church formed part of the Cathedral of St Machar, which was founded in 1357, and finished in 1522. It was last altered in 1832-3. Besides the parish church, there is a chapel in King's College, which is open, during the session, for the accommodation of the professors and students.

Gilcomston, formerly a chapel of ease to Old Machar, was erected into a quoad sacra parish by the General Assembly in 1834. There are within its bounds an Episcopal congregation, and another of the Original Seceders.

Bon-Accord also was a chapel of ease to Old Machar from the year 1828 to 1834. In this district, there is a Baptist congregation.

Woodside was also a chapel of ease to Old Machar. There is a congregation of Independents within its bounds.

The glebe attached to the second charge of the quoad civilia parish is between six and seven acres in extent. Present rent, L.31, 10s. The manse was built in the end of last century, and is in good repair.

Education.—There are two schools north of the Don, and a great many on the other side of the river. The salary of the parochial schoolmaster is nominally L.30, but several moieties are annually lost;—the original heritors assessed in 1758, and their successors, being unknown. Fees from L.30 to L.35; allowance from the Dick Bequest, about L.30.

Savings' Bank.—There is one in the parish, but the business done is very trifling.

Poor.—Average number of paupers, 157, receiving an average payment per quarter, of 7s. 11¼d. each; 435, average payment per month, 4s. 6½d. each; 50 orphans and deserted children, 7s. 9d. per month; 277 temporary supplies, 4s. 9d. each supply; 17 lunatics in asylum, L.15 each; 11 do. not in asylum, L.5, 3s. 8d; 63 children at school, 2s. 5d. per quarter each; 63 funerals of paupers, 10s. 6d. each; clothing and shoes for paupers, L.91 6s. 2½d. 25 paupers belonging to this parish are supplied through the parish in which they reside, at a cost of L.30, 2s. 11d. Expense of poor's house, Gilcomston, (containing 20 very aged or disabled paupers who have no relatives to care for them), L.140, 0s. 5½d. ; medical attendance and medicines for poor in the north division of the parish, L.14, 8s. 8d. The income applicable to defray these expenses was, in the year ending 31st July 1842, L.170, 7s. 2½d., arising from church collections, after deducting those made for the Infirmary, church schemes, &c. viz.

Old Machar, L.28, 8s. 7¼d.; Woodside, L.31, 1s. 3½d.; King's College Chapel, L.5, 9s. 0½d.; Gilcomston, L.60, 8s. 3d.; Bon-Accord, L. 25; Holburn, L. 20. The gross collection at the four first churches, in the year ending 31st July 1842, amounted to L.318, 17s. 3¼d. Bon-Accord and Holburn churches contributed stated sums. Gross legal assessment for the same year, L.2378, 13s. 8½d,

December 1842.

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