Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
Volume XII - Aberdeen
United Parishes of Tullynessle and Forbes


I.—Topography and Natural History.

Name.—Tullynessle is understood to be a word of Gaelic extraction, and is descriptive of the situation of the church and manse. They stand upon a slightly elevated bank at the junction of two burns, which descend from neighbouring glens. The name of one of those burns is the Esset, and it is the opinion of some that Tullyn-esset is the proper and more ancient spelling. Tully is said to signify a dwelling, and Esle a sloping bank. The latter part of the name may be, therefore, either from Esset or Esle. In the one case the derivation would mean a house on a slightly rising ground; in the other, a house on the banks of the Esset. Of the origin of Forbes there is no satisfactory account. That the original parish of this name derived its appellation from the noble family, who have been proprietors of it for several centuries, there is no doubt; but, to the curious in names, there is here no solution of the difficulty. [A legend, which the writer has often heard, if it fails to instruct, may at least manse. The family of Forbes carries three boars' heads in its arms, and the reason assigned for this by Sir Samuel Forbes, in his "View of the Diocese of Aberdeen," (MS.) is, "because the first of this family slew a wild ravenous boar near Castle Forbes, where, at this day on a stone, the figure of that boar, though rudely carved, is still seen." According to the prevailing story, the actor in this bold exploit was desirous to give proof of his undaunted courage to the young and beautiful heiress of the Castle, whose name was Bess; and, having received her hand, as his reward, very properly assumed a name commemorative of his valour—"For-Bess!" ]

Boundaries and Extent.—Tullynessle and Forbes became a united parish in the year 1808; and it is one of those unions against which it would be difficult to raise any objection. Forbes had previously been, from the year 1722, joined to Kearn, from which it is separated by the range of hills which bound the district of Alford in that direction; and the minister, whose residence was in the former parish, preached, the one Sunday at Forbes and the other at Kearn. The parishioners of Forbes now enjoy the public ministrations of religion every Lord's-day. A great proportion of them are nearer to the church at Tullynessle than they were to that at Forbes; and none have a greater distance to travel than about three miles and a half. At the same time, the united population is not too large for the pastoral superintendence and labours of the minister. The length of the parish is about 7 miles, and its breadth 4 miles. With the exception of a single farm, and the part of Caille-var belonging to it, which lie on the opposite side, the river Don forms the southern boundary, separating it from the parish of Alford; and the parish of Keig is the east boundary. On the west, it is bounded by Auchindoir; and on the north, by Leslie, Clatt, and Rhynie. In these two last directions, it is separated from the parishes mentioned, by a mountainous range, of considerable elevation, at several points. As to their exact height above the level of the sea, the writer is unable to speak. Caille-var, on the opposite side of the river, is about 1850 feet above the level of the sea, and the points of Coreen, which is the general name of this chain, at Lord Arthur's Seat and Lord Forbes's Cairn, are probably about the same height.

Taking the river Don as a line which intersects the district of Alford from north-west to south-east, and viewing the district in the circular form which has been given to it by the shape of its mountainous boundary on all sides, Tullynessle and Forbes, with the part of Keig lying on the same side of the river, constitutes the northern portion of the circle. The parish is intersected by various ridges of hills, which descend from the boundary-chain in a south-easterly direction towards the river.

Meteorology and Hydrography.—There is little to be said upon the first of these subjects, which would not equally apply to the whole district. The climate naturally good, owing to the soil, and there being little clay bog in the parish, has no doubt been considerably improved by planting and draining. It varies in different parts of the parish. The crops upon those which lie towards the river and have a south exposure, are about ten days earlier than the others which look towards the north, or are confined within the hills.

The harvest of 1837 will ever be gratefully remembered by the inhabitants of the north of Scotland. From its conclusion to the 8th day of January following the weather remained unusually fine. There was no snow, and so little rain fell that several of the springs which had been open in summer became dried up. Upon that day we had a heavy fall of snow, which experienced a slight diminution by means of a thaw that took place about a week afterwards, and continued about twenty-four hours. But this was immediately followed by an additional fall, and, for some time, scarcely a day passed in which there was not some increase. Until Saturday, 24th February, the weather continued calm; but, on that day, it blew a dreadful hurricane, which was accompanied with a heavy fall of additional snow. The roads which had been partly cleared, were once more completely blocked up, and, in many cases, the cottages and farm-steadings were nearly invisible. For many weeks, nothing green out of doors was to be seen, but the tops of the fir trees. The sufferings of the sheep with those of wild animals and fowls were very great. Wood-pigeons and partridges have been nearly exterminated. The thermometer, on more than one occasion, stood as low as 12° below zero. Calculating from the rain-guage, and allowing a foot of snow for an inch of water, there must have fallen, in whole, snow to the depth of six feet over all. In duration and severity, there has been no season to compare with it since 1795. Sowing in favourable situations did not take place till about the 12th of April, and in many cases, even then, portions of a field behoved to be left, owing to the remaining snow.

The parish is abundantly supplied with excellent water. Its springs are numerous; and some of them, in consequence of the strata through which they issue, are more or less impregnated with iron. There is a very good chalybeate of this kind in the garden of the writer. No fewer than six burns descend to the River Don from the glens extending into the mountainous range already mentioned. The largest of these is the Esset. Its course, after reaching the cultivated part of the parish, and before it discharges itself into the river, is only about two miles and a-half; and in this short passage, it works three meal-mills, one flax-mill, and six thrashing-machines. On two occasions, viz. in 1829, during the great flood in the north of Scotland, and in 1835, owing to a water-spout near its source in the hills, it became flooded to a degree almost incredible: the inmates of a cottage upon its bank, in the immediate vicinity of the manse, were, on both occasions, so sudden was the irruption of the overwhelming torrent, with difficulty extricated from their perilous situation. Were Tullynessle and Forbes nearer to Aberdeen than it is, or to any great manufacturing city, the value of. its burns, as a substitute for steam in driving machinery, would be very great. In many respects, they are highly advantageous to the farmer, and, in particular, by enabling him to thrash his grain without the labour of horses, they save this most valuable part of his stock from the most tearing labour to which they can be put.

Geology and Mineralogy.—Under this head little can be said, as the substances to which it relates, are in this parish probably few in number, and little varied in their nature. The rocks, it is believed, are all of a primitive character: granite, with its allies, gneiss and mica-slate. The second is not often to be seen in its most characteristic stratified form; and the most prevailing rock may be said to be one intermediate to gneiss and mica-slate. Perfect enough specimens of mica-slate are, however, to be met with, both in its common form, and in that of the undulated and slaty varieties of Jameson. There are two quarries of this nature, which are worked to a considerable extent, for the purpose of furnishing pavement to halls and kitchens. The slabs found in them, more particularly in the one situated in Coreen, can frequently be procured of a very large size. One or two porches to farm-houses, which the writer has seen, and where each of the side walls consists of a single slab of about five feet in breadth, and nearly double the height, with a pavilion roof of the same material, have a very light and handsome appearance. The slabs are often used in place of wood for the water-courses of thrashing-mills, and sometimes in byres for the cattle's stalls. There is likewise a granite quarry upon the Forbes property, near the river, of excellent quality, which has been wrought for several years; and in the immediate vicinity of a town, would yield a handsome revenue to the Noble proprietor. Some attempts were made about two years ago, to open in Corinne a quarry of roofing-slate, but although appearances were favourable, they were given up, in consequence of the expense. Limestone is to be met with here, and there are the remains of a kiln for burning it upon one of the shanks of the hill, which goes by the name of the Limer-Shank; but the quantity of the lime does not appear to be such as would remunerate the manufacturer. Close by the public road which leads to Huntly, where it has been found necessary for the level to make a cut of several feet, there is to be seen, towards the foot of the northern range of hill, a small vein of silicious sand, extending into the hill, seemingly of decomposed quartz, but rendered unavailable for the purposes which it would otherwise serve, owing to a small admixture of iron.

Botany.— The following vegetable species are natives of the parish, and may deserve to be mentioned, viz.—

Potamogeton pusillum     Vaccinium Vitis-idea      Cardamine amara
   Campanula latifolia          Arbutus Uva-Ursi            Fumaria claviculata
Trientalis Europća          Pyrola rotundifolia          Habenaria albida.

The writer may perhaps mention that Habenaria bifolia, though common enough throughout the kingdom, occurs but sparingly in this parish, and, according to better information than his own on this subject, has scarcely been observed in any other part of the vale of Alford. It likewise appears somewhat remarkable, that common water-cress grows here in but small quantity, and is seldom or never observed in any of the adjacent parishes; and it is worthy of notice that in the river Don, upon the west border of the parish, Ćnanthe crocata (esteemed one of the most poisonous plants in Britain) occurs in one or two spots, being probably transplanted from the Den of Kildrummy, where it is to be met with in considerable abundance. The most interesting feature, however, in the vegetation of the parish, is Linncća borealis, which was discovered at no great distance from the manse in 1826, by the late Dr A. Murray of Aberdeen, in whose recent death the science of medicine, as well as of botany, has suffered a heavy loss. The patch where it grows is small, but the plants are numerous, the Linncća being mixed with Vaccinium Vitis-idea, Arbutus Uva-Ursi, and the whole overtopped with common heath. The Linncća is understood to be found in Scotland either in old woods or in alpine places, but the station mentioned is not greatly above the level of the parish, and, though rather shaded, no wood appears ever to have existed there.

Forests and Plantations.— Upon this subject the writer feels happy in being able to communicate the following valuable information, with which he has been favoured by the Honourable the Master of Forbes, who is proprietor of the lands of Brux, which are situate in this and the neighbouring parishes. Since the year 1816, he has planted or sown above 2000 acres, and the following is the result of his extensive experience.—"The larch, spruce, and Scots fir are thriving well both on Coreen and Caillevar, and on the lower parts of those hills, oak, ash, elm, Spanish chestnut, plane, and gean-trees, grow rapidly. Although occasionally nipt by the climate in winter, they average annually a valuable increase of wood, both in height and circumference. I do not think that the raising of oak and Spanish chestnut from the seed, without transplanting, has had a sufficient trial in this part of the island. It seems to me that it would answer better than planting seedlings from a nursery. Those that I have raised from seed, in land not broken up from heath, have succeeded well; the higher parts of the hills have, after burning the heath, been very successfully sown with larch and Scots fir; but the larch raised in this way, as well as those which have been transplanted, are not free from the general disease so common to this species of wood in this quarter." It may be remarked, that, if the common etymology of the name "Caillevar" be correct, viz. "Caillé," a wood, and "Var," a hill, i. e. "the hill of wood," it has once more, through the spirited exertions of the proprietor, become entitled to its ancient appellation, being at the present moment a thriving forest. It may be here added, that, along the banks of the Don, there is a considerable quantity of alder, with some birch, and on the Forbes part of the river, a little hagberry, (Prunus Padus). Upon the estate of Whitehaugh, some hundred acres of full-grown park wood, chiefly larch and fir, have for the last twenty years added considerably to the annual revenue of the property, and the size of many of the trees, all of which were planted by the grandfather of Colonel Leith, the present proprietor, holds forth a strong encouragement to improvements of this description; and this encouragement has not been lost upon the latter.

Zoology.— The wild animals to be found in this parish are, it is believed, common to most other parts of Scotland, similarly situated. In the hills are to be found, grouse, black-game, where the hills have been planted, hare, plover, and during the breeding-season, some wild-ducks near the mouths of the springs, and upon the banks of the streamlets issuing from them. There is likewise a superabundance of the enemies of game, viz. the fox, raven, and hawk. The most destructive of this last mentioned enemy is what is here called blue-sleeves. It is much larger than the sparrow-hawk, and considerably smaller than the buzzard. The Alpine or white hare, is sometimes met with. There are plenty of roe-deer in the woods ; and during a severe winter they do much injury to the trees by stripping them of their bark. A red-deer is sometimes seen, but only as a bird of passage.

Owing to the obstructions to their passage up the river, occasioned by the stake-nets near its entrance into the sea, the cruives and cruive-dikes, at some distance above, and the abstraction of a great portion of its waters for driving the machinery of a large manufactory in the vicinity of Aberdeen, the number of salmon in this part of the Don is very small. There is, however, an abundance of very fine trout, some of them of very large size. The writer has more than once killed them of the weight of nearly five pounds, and has heard of instances where they weighed considerably more. It is, however, but very seldom that the angler meets with such prizes; but, in favourable weather, during the season, if possessed of the requisite knowledge of his craft and patience, he will find no difficulty in filling his basket with some dozens of a smaller size, from one-half to one and a-half pounds weight. The flesh of the larger sized ones, when in good condition, is of a colour betwixt that of salmon and the smaller trout. The par and small-trout are very plentiful in the Esset, as well as in the river. October and November are the months in which the salmon generally ascend the river for spawning; but some of them make their appearance for this purpose much later. They return in December, and the beginning of January. Several of them, however, remain so late as the beginning of the month of March.

II.— Civil History.

Estates.—A short notice of the estates in this parish, and their present proprietors, will in a great measure supply what has to be said on this head of its statistics. They are, 1. The lands of Forbes, which belong to the Noble family of the same name. A small portion of these lands were, about twenty years ago, sold to the Honourable the Master of Forbes, in consequence of their contiguity to his property of Brux, and, more especially, to the romantic situation upon which he has, since that time, built a comfortable house. All the rest belongs to the head of the family, James Ochonchar, Lord Forbes, who is Premier Baron of Scotland, a General in the army, and Knight of the Royal Sicilian Order of St Januarius. By far the greater part of the life of this amiable and distinguished nobleman has been spent from home in the service of his country ; and his conduct in the various important situations he has filled, as well as the deep interest he has uniformly evinced in the welfare and prosperity of his tenantry, clearly pronounce him to be a worthy descendant of one of the oldest and most distinguished families in Scottish history.

2. The estate of Terperse or Dalpersie formerly belonged to a cadet of the house of Gordon. The fate of the last of this family who inherited the lands, may be mentioned as one of the numerous acts of barbarous severity which were exercised upon the unfortunate rebels of 1745. Having escaped death in the bloody field, Mr Gordon had contrived to elude detection for a considerable time, by concealing himself in the hills close to his house. But anxious, as it would appear, to obtain for one night a more comfortable repose than could be afforded by his mountain-cave, he imprudently repaired to his mansion for this purpose, and, in consequence, no doubt, of information, was apprehended by a party of the King's troops. There being some doubt regarding the identity of their prisoner, the party endeavoured, but in vain, to have it solved, by carrying him before the minister of the parish; but they were more fortunate, upon repairing to a farm upon the other side of the hills, which was rented by Mr Gordon, and where his wife and family then resided. For his children, on seeing their father, came running towards him, exclaiming, "Dady, dady," and, unwittingly to themselves, became aiding in consigning their parent to the block. His property was forfeited, and came into the possession of the York Company. It was purchased from them by a gentleman of the same name with the late proprietor, and connected, it is believed, with the same family. The present proprietor is James Adam Gordon, Esq.

There is upon the property an old mansion-house, inhabited by the farmer who rents the surrounding grounds. It is in the old castle style, but of small dimensions, and there is nothing about it worthy of particular notice.

3. Whitehaugh, the property of Lieut.-Colonel J. J. F. Leith, H. E. I. C. S., who is a regular descendant of the ancient family of the Forbes's of Tohon.

The first of this family, who succeeded to this estate through the female branch, and adopted the sirname of Leith, was John Forbes Leith, whose history is well entitled to a short notice in a work of this description. He had received an university education at Oxford, and resided chiefly in England until about the year 1735, when he came to reside upon his property. A mansion-house nearly in ruins, and a tenantry, not only ignorant of the improved modes of agriculture, but wedded to old practices, must have been considerable discouragements to an Oxonian, and a gentleman accustomed to the comforts of a more advanced state of civilization : but in place of flying from, he determined to remove them, and lived to enjoy the fruits of his resolution in a comfortable mansion, with suitable garden, a well improved personal farm, several hundred acres of thriving wood, and an increased, and increasing rent-roll. His son and successor more than followed up the example which had been set him. He took under his own management a large portion of the estate, which had been before a number of unproductive possessions, and converted it into one beautiful farm of regular fields, tastefully laid out, and fenced with hedge-rows, and the whole surrounded by thriving wood. His labours now yield to his successor a handsome rent. His attention was particularly directed to the improvement of the breeds of cattle which, in his time, were in this quarter of a very inferior description ; and at a very considerable expense he brought from a distance, and was the means of introducing amongst his tenantry, and throughout the district, animals of a much better kind.

It may be mentioned that a considerable portion of this estate at one time belonged to the Knights-Templars. One field of the farm which has been particularly noticed is called Temple Close, and another St John's Close. Although the Templars, we believe, had but one settlement in Scotland, viz. the Hospital of St Germains in Lothian, they enjoyed the funds of several churches, and houses in various parts of the country.

Modern Buildings.—In this class may be mentioned the very handsome mansion which is now being finished at Whitehaugh. The proprietor has, with equal good taste as feeling, retained the very substantial, and for the time splendid dwelling of his ancestor, and, by adding two large wings of a corresponding character, has contrived to give to the whole a very imposing effect. We have already noticed the mansion of the Honourable the Master of Forbes, proprietor of the lands of Brux and others, which is likewise situated in this parish. It stands near the river Don, and is completely surrounded with his thriving plantations. Callievar rises in solemn majesty before it on the south, and Lord Arthur's cairn raises its head immediately behind it on the north. The public road which introduces you through this mountainous pass from the higher country to the vale of Alford, winds by the banks of the river, and the mansion, both in its character and locality, corresponds well with the other romantic beauties of this short drive.

Parochial Registers.— The session are in possession of a register belonging to Forbes. Its earliest date is 1729, and the latest 1752. Another of the same parish is in the hands of the minister of Auchindoir, which, it is believed, relates to the period from 1752 to 1808, when Forbes was annexed to this parish, and Kearn to Auchindoir. The register of Tullynessle commences in 1760, and comprehends Forbes since the date of the junction. It appears to have been tolerably kept.

Eminent Men.—The Rev. Walter Syme. Of this gentleman, in as far as his own character and talents are concerned, it is sufficient to say that both were good ; but it is not perhaps generally known that the present Ex-Chancellor, Lord Brougham, is a near descendant of his. His Lordship's history will obtain a conspicuous place in the annals of his day. Whatever may be the general verdict awarded him by posterity, the meed of unrivalled oratorial powers will, without doubt, be unanimously conceded; and it is with a feeling somewhat akin to pride, that the writer gives the following account of his Lordship's relation to a predecessor in the manse of Tullynessle. The eldest son of the Rev. Walter Syme, now mentioned, named James, was a short time minister of Alloa, and married a daughter of Principal Robertson of Edinburgh. The only daughter of Mr James Syme, named Eleanora Syme (still alive) [The lady is since dead.], was married to Henry Brougham, Esq. of Brougham Hall. Westmoreland, and is the venerable mother of the present Lord Brougham and Vaux.

Maps.—There is a recent map of the county, which was executed by a Mr Robertson, at the request of the county gentlemen. Of its correctness the writer is unqualified to pronounce judgment; but, according to his present recollection, there were objections made upon this score, when it was completed, to the payment of the sum which had been promised to Mr Robertson for the work. In regard to the height of several mountains where Mr Robertson has differed from the late Dr Keith, in his county survey, the labours of the gentlemen employed by Government in the great trigonometrical survey of the kingdom have confirmed the accuracy of the latter.

Antiquities.—Near the river, and in the immediate vicinity of a small village, named Mongarry, there is the site of General Baillie's encampment on the night previous to his defeat by Montrose, in the battle of Alford, 1645.

Before the improvements, which have taken place in agriculture within the last thirty years, there were several remains of Druidical temples, as they have been called, but, with the exception of one, they have all been removed. The following account of the appearances which presented themselves to the workmen who were employed in trenching and levelling the site of one of these with the surrounding ground, has been communicated by the gentleman who then rented the farm on which it was situated, and carefully watched the operations. The upright stones were mostly gone ; but it was evident that they had enclosed a circle of about fifty feet diameter. The ground on which the temple stood was sloping, and within the circle it had been levelled by removing the earth on the upper side, so as to present on this part of the circle, a bank nearly perpendicular, of not less than five feet, gradually decreasing to the east or lower part, when it became level with the natural surface. The upright stones were on the top of the bank. From the circle in a south-east direction, an artificially paved road could be traced to the distance of at least six hundred yards through a bog, which, at the farther end, was about six yards wide, but near twenty yards when it approached within fifty yards of the circle, and here the paving was covered with ashes. The stones of the pavement were not squared, but very neatly fitted into each other. On the upper or north-west side of the circle, although the ground here was very dry, there was likewise a considerable size of pavement, not under one hundred yards long by about forty wide. The greater part of the stones of this latter pavement had evidently been brought from a hill about three miles distant. There was no pavement within the circle. About fifty yards above the circle, there were found two stone ladles, lying not far from each other. The handle of one of them had been broken off; that of the other was about nine inches long, with a knob at the end of it, evidently for the purpose of preventing it, when used, from falling into the vessel, by laying hold of its edge. A similar stone ladle was, a considerable time ago, found when clearing out another Druidical circle on the farm of Whiteside.


The population, according to Dr Webster, in 1755, was, for Forbes and Kearn, 436; for Tullynessle, 269. The writer has not the means of ascertaining how many of the first number belonged to Forbes, and how many to Kearn, and, consequently, is unable to show distinctly the great increase of population which has, since that period, taken place in the now united parish of Tullynessle and Forbes.

There is only one resident proprietor, viz. Colonel Leith of Whitehaugh. The mansion-house of Little Wood Park, belonging to the Honourable the Master of Forbes, the only other proprietor's house situated within the parish, is at present rented by the gentleman who farms the neighbouring grounds.

The whole population may strictly be said to be agricultural. There are no doubt wrights, smiths, shoemakers, masons, and tailors located over the parish, but in no greater numbers than what is required for its wants; and they generally rent a small possession. Besides the resident proprietors, there are two or three gentlemen in possession of farms, whose income does not wholly depend on the produce of the ground. It is to be hoped that their agricultural occupations yield them profit as well as pleasure.

Character of the People.—The character and habits of the people, are both good. Generally speaking, they are active and persevering, temperate, honest, and charitable. In every community, there will be exceptions to any tribute of commendation to which the bulk of that community may be entitled; but it is believed, that the number of exceptions in the present case, if not smaller, does by no means exceed what will be found in any agricultural population, of equal extent, throughout Scotland.

Habits.— Within the last thirty years, great improvements have taken place in the modes of living and dress. The houses of tradesmen and crofters are much more comfortable and clean; while those of the farmers are commodious, in general suitable in size to the extent of their farms, and such as their industry and enterprize well entitle them to possess. Slates are now the common roof for farm-houses, and those of tradesmen. It may be with truth affirmed, that although at times, in consequence of a numerous family, and unforeseen disaster, exposed to considerable privations, the crofter and labourer now enjoy luxuries, if they may be so called, to which even the farmers were fifty years ago entire strangers.

The anti-agriculturist would make you believe that the farmer has reached a stage of comfort and external show to which he is not entitled, and, in place of enabling him to maintain his present status, by means of due protection, would reduce him to the drudgery and spare living of last century. We perhaps touch upon a forbidden topic, but one passing remark may be allowed. Let the persons of whom we speak be impartial, and advocate a similar descent in the case of the merchant and manufacturer. Their rise is still greater than that of the farmer. In the case of all of them, it is the fruit of increased intelligence and enlightened enterprize. They are now, in as far as present prosperity is concerned, indissolubly linked together, and you cannot harm the one without injuring the other.

From the general dryness of the soil, and the improvement in climate, which has no doubt been superinduced by the recovery of waste land, draining, and planting, the parish is favourable to health. We have our share of diseases common to the north of Scotland, but no disease peculiar to the parish. In the last Statistical Account for Forbes, which now forms part of this parish, it is mentioned that there prevailed almost universally among the parishioners a species of latent scurvy; and Malthus, in one of the editions of his work on population, has, according to the information of the writer, noticed the circumstance as one of the checks interposed by Providence to counteract the great tendency which population has to exceed the means of subsistence. The learned Professor would have been somewhat astonished to have been told the truth, viz. that this destructive, and, according to the description, most loathsome disease, in as far as Forbes was concerned, existed only in the writer's diseased imagination. The latter, who was otherwise a sensible and well-informed person, happened, at the time he wrote the account, to be labouring under severe hypochondria, which is abundantly evident from the note appended, in which he hypothetically mentions his own case.


The survey and measurements of Forbes and Whitehaugh, from which the above table was taken, were made about ten years ago. Since that time, considerable additions have been made to the extent of cultivated ground in the parish. With the exception of the arable land there has, to the best of the writer's knowledge, been no exact survey of the Torperse estate. The late proprietor stated to the writer the amount of acres in hill pasture, roads, and burns to be about 2000. There are a few acres in wood round the old mansion-house.

The soil is in general good, and exceedingly grateful for kind treatment. Upon the rising grounds, more especially along the Braes of Forbes, which include the greater part of the Forbes estate, it is thin and stony; but being dry, and on a good bottom, produces crops excellent in quality, and not deficient in bulk. The corn and bear grown here, and in most other parts of the parish, is generally superior in weight to the produce of the same kinds in most other parts of Aberdeenshire. It deserves to be mentioned, perhaps, that, upon the slopes of some of the interjected rising grounds, the depth of soil is very considerable, and that upon the very tops of some of the hills you meet at times with a considerable extent of table-land of the same description. The elevation, however, and consequently the want of climate, with the difficulty of access, forbid cultivation.

Husbandry.—The following is the mode of cropping which is generally followed, viz. two successive crops of oats, followed by a cleaning crop of turnips and potatoes. Then a crop of oats or bear, when the ground is laid down with grass-seeds; which, the first year afterwards, is cut and made into hay, and then pastured for the two following years. A shorter rotation has been partially adopted by one or two individuals; but the result of their experience has not obtained many imitators. It is believed by many intelligent and experienced farmers, that, with the soil and climate of Aberdeenshire in general, the consequence of a short rotation, and the over excitement which it requires, is a state of exhaustion almost irreparable.

Oats, and bear or big with a little barley, are the kinds of grain upon which the farmer depends. He may at times sow a patch of wheat for family use, which in good years answers remarkably well; but there is no chance of its coming into general cultivation. With almost no exceptions the grounds throughout the parish are remarkably well adapted for turnips, which, with potatoes, are used for a cleaning crop. The latter are chiefly cultivated for family use. In some cases, they are given to horses, and sometimes, in winter, when the snow is deep, or in spring, when an early vegetation has rendered the turnip useless, they serve the farmer in great stead for enabling him to carry on his feeders, or to bring his rising stock of cattle in good condition to the grass. But hitherto they have not been grown to such an extent as to serve as a staple article for either of those purposes. Bone-dust is now used very generally where there happens to be a short coming in the quantity of animal dung, and answers remarkably well.

Produce.—The average gross amount of raw produce may be stated as follows:—

On many of the farms, the average return here adopted would be very much exceeded; but, taking the inferior ones into the account with the croft-lands, which are not always the best managed, it is believed to be a pretty correct approximation to the truth. The price of seed has to be deducted from the amount stated. For several years past, the breadth of land sown with bear has been gradually diminishing. In the above statement, it has been taken at one-third of what is laid down with grass seeds after turnip.

The great improvements which have taken place in the management of the ground, within the last twenty years in particular, have been followed by a corresponding advancement in the size and quality of both horses and cattle. The Aberdeenshire breed of the latter at one time held nearly the exclusive possession of all the grass in the parish; but recently a valuable cross-breed, betwixt the pure Aberdeenshire cow and Tees-water, or short-horned bull, has been introduced by several farmers, and their example promises to be very generally followed. Now that feeding for the London market has, in consequence of the facility of conveyance by steam-vessels, become common, the great object is to select such breeds as promise, in the shortest time, both on account of size and fat, to bring the highest remunerating price. But the Aberdeenshire, after a certain age, is, in respect of quality, very generally allowed to be superior to all others; and the different agricultural Associations throughout the country, while they give due encouragement to such crosses as are likely to prove profitable to the farmer, ought to pay particular attention to the due preservation of the pure Aberdeenshire breed.

The rotation of cropping which has been mentioned, clearly shows that the farmer has much dependence upon his cattle. For a considerable time past, owing to the generally low price of grain, the profits arising from them have mainly contributed towards the regular payment of his rent. It is chiefly for the rearing of young stock that cows are kept. At the same time, the returns from dairy produce and the poultry yards are very considerable; but any attempt to give an exact statement of their annual amount, as confined to this parish, would only lead into error. A great proportion of the butter, cheese, and eggs, is purchased by our only shopkeeper, Mr Wilson, at Waterside of Forbes; and he has stated the average of money paid by him on this account, for some years past, at L. 650 per annum, notwithstanding the scarcity of pasture last season. But, on the one hand, Mr Wilson deals with the surrounding parishes; and, on the other, several of the inhabitants of Tullynessle and Forbes are in the habit of selling to other merchants, who have regular appointments for this purpose with their customers at stated places, generally once every fortnight.

Leases.—The usual length of leases is nineteen years, and, in general, a reasonable allowance is made for houses and fences. The common terms for the payment of rent are Whitsunday and Martinmas. In the opinion of the writer, Candlemas and Lammas would, in several respects, be more advantageous for the farmer. By the present arrangement, he is frequently obliged, in order to meet the Martinmas demand, to thrash out a greater quantity of grain than would be requisite for procuring the necessary fodder for his cattle. The straw, before being used, is thus rendered much less valuable, and the grain, more especially in late seasons, is carried to market in a state of damp, which renders it unfit for shipping. In like manner, should the spring prove unfavourable, he is often obliged to prepare for the Whitsunday rent, by selling his cattle at a time when, owing to want of keep, the prices are low; whereas, by making the rents payable at Candlemas and Lammas, both these evils would be obviated ; and this additional advantage would likewise be gained, that, as servants' wages are due at Martinmas and Whitsunday, the burdens of the farmer would be better divided over the year.

There is an Agricultural Association, comprehending all the parishes within the district of Alford, which has been established for several years. It is warmly supported by the landed proprietors ; and Lord Forbes, the president, with his son, the Master of Forbes, has evinced a deep interest in its success. It is not one of the least of the good effects of such Associations, that landlord and tenant are thus brought into friendly contact with each other, and the bond of union, which is so essential to the prosperity of both, greatly strengthened.

V.—Parochial Economy.

Market-Towns.—Aberdeen is our principal market-town, and is twenty-six and a-half miles distant from the bridge of Forbes, where the turnpike-road enters this parish. A considerable quantity of lime is brought from the quarries at Ardonald and Grange. The former is about eighteen miles distant, and the latter nearly twenty, and the road to both passes through Huntly; but almost the whole of the grain is carried to Aberdeen. During the winter and spring months, there is a monthly market, in the neighbouring parish of Alford, for this and fat cattle, which is well attended. Two stated fairs for cattle of all descriptions are held annually during the summer at the same place.

Means of Communication.—There is a post-office near the bridge, where the Mail-gig arrives daily about three hours after leaving Aberdeen. The Lord Forbes stage-coach runs the one day to Aberdeen and returns the next. Very considerable additions have been made to the Bridge-Inn this season, which, when completed, will render it one of the most comfortable to be met with in a country district, with the command of excellent fishing, beautiful scenery, and a healthy climate; and placed where the northern roads from Huntly to Kincardine, and then through the Grampians, crosses that from Aberdeen into Strathdon, it promises to become during the summer months a favourite place of resort.

The bridge is a most substantial piece of mason work. It received some injury in 1829, which was immediately repaired. About three miles above it, there is a very neat wooden structure thrown across the river by the Master of Forbes, directly opposite to the mansion-house, which is in character with the surrounding scenery, and adds to its beauty.

Ecclesiastical State.-—-The church is neither old nor incommodious according to its size ; but, owing to the increase of population, it does not afford sufficient accommodation for the parish. An application is about being made to the heritors on the subject, to which the writer, judging from the deep interest they have always shown in whatever was likely to promote the people's good, anticipates a favourable result. [The writer's anticipations have, since the time this account was written, been realized.] Upon one of the stones in the belfry, which, from its workmanship, clearly shows that it must have originally belonged to a more ancient structure than the present, there is the date 1604.

The manse was built about thirty-four years ago, and has since received some addition. It is both substantial and commodious. There is a glebe of about 9 acres, and the stipend, by a recent decision of the Court of Teinds, is 16 chalders, half meal, and half barley, payable according to the fiars of the year. There is likewise the usual allowance for communion elements, viz. L. 100 Scots.

We have no Dissenters of any description in the parish, and the people are exemplary in their attendance upon the ordinances of religion. It may be mentioned that in the parish there is only one church, one school, one inn, and one shop.

Education.— The school and school-house, which are separate buildings, were erected about ten years ago, and do credit to the public spirit of the heritors. The schoolmaster's salary is the maximum, and the amount of his fees, although low, may, in consequence of his zealous attention to the duties of his office, be stated at about L.25 per annum. In addition to this, he enjoys the emoluments of the session clerkship, which are, however, trifling. But the schoolmasters in this and the two neighbouring counties of Banff and Moray have, within these few years, received very considerable addition to their incomes, by a noble bequest from a Mr Dick of London, whose parents resided in or near Keith. The benefit of the fund which he established for this purpose, with a view, as he himself states, of raising the standard of literature, and advancing the comfort of this useful and meritorious class within the three counties mentioned, and which is under the management of a certain number of writers to the Signet at Edinburgh, is confined to the parish schools. The annual division of the interest of the fund has hitherto been regulated by an attention to other circumstances, besides that of the number of schools, such as the number of scholars at each school, success of the teacher, &c. The revenue, if equally divided, would afford, it is believed, from L. 25 to L. 30 Sterling per annum to each schoolmaster.

It is with much pleasure that the writer bears witness to the favourable state of education in the parish. There prevails on the part of parents a sincere wish to avail themselves of the important benefits for their children which are placed within their reach. Where the parents are poor, care is taken to remove, in a way the least hurtful to their feelings, the obstacle which inability to pay the customary fees might otherwise oppose to the attendance of their families at school. It has now become the practice to commence their education at a more early period of life than before, and thus there is time for instruction in the common branches of reading and writing, with perhaps a little arithmetic, before the children are able to do anything for themselves. Here, and it is to be hoped that a similar declaration can with justice be made in reference to every other parish-school in Scotland, the great truth is ever kept in view, that education, to be useful, in rearing good and virtuous citizens, must be based on religion.

A juvenile library has recently been established for the use of the scholars, and promises to be attended with much good. There are in the parish two female teachers of sewing and dress-making. Neither of them enjoy any salary.

Poor and Parochial Funds.—The average number for the last five years, of those who have received regular aid, is 8; but in addition to these, considerable numbers have received occasional supplies. Of collections at church, the average annual amount for the same period is L. 22, 7s. 5d. This is exclusive of collections for particular purposes; such as the Destitution in the Highlands, and the four Assembly Schemes ; the average of which for the five years is L. 7, 17s. 3d. The session are in possession of funds to the amount of something more than L. 300 Sterling. L. 100 of this sum was left them about twenty years ago by a journeyman bookbinder in London, in gratitude for the education he had received at the parish school here; and, as he himself slates in his latter will, " to be an example to others."

The poor receive aid partly in meal and partly in money. When sick, they are attended by the district-surgeon, to whom the session are in the habit of giving a slight compensation for his trouble. For some years past, it has been the practice at the commencement of winter, to purchase for the necessitous and their families, whether on the poor's roll or otherwise, such articles of clothing and bedding as they stand most in want of.

Of itself, our aid would do little towards the comfortable support of those who need it. But our poor are pretty equally divided over the parish, and around each of them there is a charitable circle, which readily supplies the deficiency. In cases of unlooked for disaster or severe affliction, when requisite, there are always in the neighbourhood some benevolent individuals, who are ready to start on the errand of mercy through the parish, and never fail in procuring the necessary relief. At present, the parochial machinery for the care of the poor is in full and undisturbed operation. Long may it continue so.

Drawn up 15th September 1838; Revised October 1840.

Return to our Aberdeen Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus