Statistical Accounts of Lethnot & Navar
In the year 1778, there were 119 inhabited houses; but in 1790, the number was only 103. The number of married persons or couples in 1778, was 85; in 1790, the. number was 74. There were 15 bachelors, widowers included, keeping houses by themselves, and for the most part old men, in the year 1778. The number of persons of the same description in the year 1790 was 13. As to the number of children produced by marriages, there are many instances here, when young people marry, and are in easy circumstances, of their having eight children; many where there are ten children, and some where there are thirteen. But when people advanced in life marry, the number of children is two or three, and sometimes none. Many of our young people remove from the parishes, but not for want of employment. They get higher wages to the southward, and some remove for the sake of learning, a particular trade or art, as their genius leads them. None have perished from want, since the end of the last century, when there were seven years of general scarcity, and when some persons were found dead with cabbage, kail-roots, &c. in their months.
Sheep.—The number of sheep is about 6770, of lambs 1256. But as a great number of lambs perish through the weakness of the ewes, owing to severe winters and springs, there are brought annually from the southern counties about 678, part of them lambs, but for the most part year-olds, because these last stand the winter better. Hence the annual increase arising from lambs produced at home, and from those brought from the south, is about 1934. But of these generally one third is destroyed, before they come to full maturity, some by foxes, some by severe winters and springs, some are amissing, and many are cut off by a disease, which is here called the Braxes. Hence it happens, that the sale of old sheep annually amounts only to 2-3ds of 1934, that is 1289. The south country, or what is here called the Yarrow broad, are of a larger size than the native kind, and bring a higher price from the butcher; but their wool is much coarser. There is now such a mixture of the two breeds, that hardly any of the native kind are to be found pure. The wool of the native kind, several years ago, used to sell at 1s. 3d. per lb., and at present it easily brings that price, when pure; while that of the Yarrow breed brings only 10d. or 11d. The pound consists of 24 ounces English. Many of our farmers begin to think that they would have acted more wisely, had they encouraged their own native breed: for they find, in the first place, that the Yarrow breed requires much more pasture; 2dly, That they do not stand the winter so well; and, 3dly, That their wool is of a much coarser quality. A wedder of the native breed when full grown, sells at 10s. 6d. or 11s. and the Yarrow kind brings 14 or 15s. It is observed here, that the nature of the sheep's pasture greatly affects the wool. A farm where there is much wet marshy ground, and that rough kind of grass which grows on such ground, always produces coarse wool.
The finest wool is produced, where the sheep have young tender heath, and short sweet grass to feed upon.
The disease formerly mentioned under the name of Braxes, in this place, proves fatal to many of the young sheep. It seizes them towards the end of harvest, when they are in best condition, and the most thriving are cut off by it. When their bodies are opened, the blood is found extravasated in their bowels, and in a putrid state. It appears to be infections; for when the disease begins, numbers perish, and they are cut off by a short illness. No method is found so effectual for stopping the progress of the malady as removing the sheep to a pasture at some distance. When the young sheep are carried to a distant pasture, it is some time before they become acquainted with it, so that for a few days at least, they must be but half-fed. This consideration induced an ingenious man in a neighbouring parish, to confine his young sheep a good part of every day within their pens, at the time when the Braxes began to make its appearance, that they might be prevented from filling their stomachs, when attacked by it, and this precaution had the desired effect in saving their lives. There are others who say, that they have tried this precaution without success.
Horses and black cattle.—The number of horses within the parishes is 147: many of them are of a small size, only a little larger than the Shetland breed. The number of black cattle is 601. The number of calves reared annually is about 130; but besides these, there are between two and three dozen fed for the butcher.
Heritors, farms, &c.—The heritors of Navar and Lethnot, are three in number, none of whom reside. The valued rent is L.1031: 13 : 9 Scots: The real rent is about L.410 Sterling. The proprietor of the greatest estate gave leases (a little after 1760) to all the tenants in the lower part of the parishes for two nineteen years and a life; and for one nineteen and a life, to those in the upper or more hilly part of the estate, obliging the tenants to carry on certain pieces of improvement specified in their leases. They became obliged to build substantial houses on their respective farms, to inclose a certain portion of the farm, to bring in and improve baulks, and such pieces of waste ground as were fit for improvement, and to plant an acre, or half an acre, according to the size of the farm, of young trees in some convenient place, and to keep a sufficient fence around them till grown up. Some of the tenants have completely fulfilled these stipulations. All the farms are set upon moderate terms, some at 7s. per acre, some at 5s. and some as low as 2s. 4d. Their size is very various; some consist of 30 acres, some of 50, some of 80; there is one of 100 acres, and another of 160. The rent of those farms which lie in the lower part of the parishes, is made to rise at the end of every nineteen years of the lease. Thus the farm of 160 acres, which paid L.33, for the first nineteen, pays now yearly during the currency of the second nineteen L.30, and is bound to pay for the first nineteen of the life L.45.
All the tenants have already increased the value of their farms very considerably by improvements, and by bringing waste ground into cultivation: But there is still a good deal of waste ground on most of the farms, which will requite the industry of many years fully to improve. Most of the larger farms consist of what was formerly two farms.
Agriculture.—The number of acres arable, may be estimated at 1200. Of these about 400 are allotted to oats, 300 for Chester bear, 30 for pease, about an equal number for turnips, potatoes and cabbage; all the rest lie in grass, about 144 acres being sown with red clover, white clover, and rye-grass. The number of ploughs is 38; but about 30 or 40 years ago, the number was upwards of 40. The cause of the decrease is, that in many instances, two farms have been joined into one since that period, and besides, in the hilly part of the parishes, several farms which were formerly in cultivation, are at present lying in grass and meant to be kept in that state, as pasture for cattle and sheep. Twenty-eight ploughs, indeed, are more than sufficient for all the labour; tho' on the larger farms there is work enough for the ploughs employed. On a small farm of 18 or 20 acres, one plough of four small horses is more than enough; so that the uniting of small farms, which lie contiguous, may be sometimes considered as a wise plan, and as tending to the advantage of the country, at least in respect of the landlord.
Within these last 30 years, the art of farming is greatly unproved in this place. It is only about 20 years ago, that the farmers began to clean their land by sowing turnip, and to sow grass seeds. Since that period there has been a great spirit of industry and improvement. As lime answers well with their land, they have been in the practice for several years of bringing it from a great distance. Some of them bring it at least 12 statute miles. Hence the quantity of grain produced at present is far greater than what was produced 30 years ago. At present the parishes can spare annually, at an average, about 500 bolls, part in oats and oatmeal; but the greatest part, bear in grain, which is carried to Brechin and Montrose. The beginning of our seed-time here is very various, owing to the spring snow lying long near the bottom of the hills. Generally we begin to sow oats before the middle of March, and bear about the middle of April. In the years 1782, 1785, 1788, and 1789, April was begun, and the first eight days of it near gone, before there was any sowing here. But in 1787, 1790, and 1791, some of our farmers began to sow pease and oats in February, and all of them in the first and second week of March.
The beginning of harvest here is also various. Generally it begins about the first or second week of September, and is finished before the first of November, and all the corns got in. But in the year 1782, there was no reaping till the 3d of October, and it was the 20th of November before all the corns were got in. Crop 1782 in this place, as in the greatest part of the kingdom, turned out very unproductive. The snow and frost came on before the corns were ripened. However, with what the people had reserved of the former crop, and with the scanty supply which crop 1782 afforded, they were able to subsist till crop 1783 came in aid, without seeking any assistance from abroad; or at least, if a small portion of meal was brought from Montrose, and some bolls of feed-oats bought, there was more sold out of the parishes, to people who came from Dee side, and other places. It is the practice of many in these parishes to have their girnals or meal-chests always pretty full, that they may be prepared against a bad crop. Experience has taught them this precaution, because the harvests here are often precarious, and the corns suffer either by wind, or by the winter coming on before they are fully ripened. There is but little flax raised here. It does not generally ripen sufficiently, to tempt a farmer to risk many acres on its cultivation. Yet most of the farmers in the lower part of the parishes sow a peck or two for the use of their own families, and they reckon it a tolerable crop, if they have between two and three stone after the peck of lintseed. The stone consists of 24 lb. English, or 22 lb. Amsterdam. There is no common pasture except the hills.
Disadvantages.—Among the disadvantages to which this place is exposed, may be reckoned a long continuance of snow in the spring, by which the operations of husbandry are interrupted, and the seed-time retarded; and on this account, our corns are but seldom so well ripened as those in the low country. While good oats in the low country yield sixteen pecks of meal per boll, we reckon them good here, if they yield fifteen. The winters here are always more severe than in the low country, and our farmers are often interrupted in their operations by storms, while those to the southward of the hills can plow and cart. Besides they frequently suffer very considerably in severe winters and springs by the loss of sheep and lambs. Our distance from Brechin, which is the nearest market-town being five computed miles, and the road across the steep hill of Caterthun, often rendered impassable for horses by the snow, may be reckoned another disadvantage under which this country labours.
Stipend, &c.—The stipend is L.51, 19s. Sterling, and 16 bolls oatmeal. The glebe may be estimated now at five guineas yearly. The church is probably two or three hundred years old. It was covered with lead until the year 1742, and then slated. A minister of the parish, so many years ago, that neither his name nor the period of his incumbency is remembered, lived and died a bachelor, and having money, he bequeathed it to cover the church with lead. It is said, that his body lies interred in a stone coffin in the east end of the church. As to the manse, it is but a modern edifice. It was built about the 1723. The King is patron of the parish.
School.—There are two schools within the parishes; the established school, and another founded on private donation. The parish schoolmaster's living consists of 100 merks Scots, paid by the heritors and tenants, fees for baptisms, marriages, and school-fees, and may be estimated at L.11 or L.12. For a few months in winter, the number of scholars is sometimes above 40, but through the spring and summer, only about a dozen attend the school. Reading, writing, and arithmetic, are the only branches taught. The other school, which is fixed on the West-water about four computed miles from the former, is kept only during the winter half-year. This school was first erected about 1750, and a fund of 500 merks Scots, appointed for supporting a teacher, which fund, about two years ago, received an addition of L.20 Sterling.
Poor.—Our number of poor at present is eight. They are supplied by our Sabbath-collections, and the interest of a fund of L.460, a provision abundantly sufficient to answer all reasonable demands. Our weekly collections have been continuing to rise gradually for some years. Our funds being so considerable, we judged it improper to apply for any of the Government's bounty in 1783. About 50 years ago, it was common for upwards of 20 young people belonging to the parishes to go a-begging in the winter-season for want of employment and support; whereas at present the farmers find it very difficult to procure either at home, or from a distance, a sufficiency of young people to serve them. There is not a person belonging to these parishes permitted at present to go a-begging.
Prices.—The price of an ox, 40 or 50 years ago, was L.2, 10; such an ox would now sell at L.6, 15. An old ewe sold formerly at 1s. 1d.; such an ewe would now
sell at 4s. 6d. or 5s. A good wedder sold formerly at 3s. 6d. or 4s.; such a wedder would now give us mutton and beef sold formerly at 1d. per lb.; it now sells at 4d. Sheep were formerly cotted or lodged in a house summer and winter, a mode of treatment much against their prosperity. Cattle were formerly fed on bear-chaff and bear-shag, by which is meant the refuse of the bear which did not stand the wind; at present they are fed on turnips, hay and sheaves of short oats. A good hen fold formerly at 4d.; such a hen would at present bring 10d. Butter sold formerly at 4d. per lb.; it now brings 9d. The pound here is 22 oz. Amsterdam, or 24 oz. English. A stone of cheese weighing 22 lb. Amsterdam, or 24 lb. English, sold formerly at 3s.; it now brings 5s. and 5s. 6d. A boll of oats with fodder sold formerly at 11s. one and one third pence; it now sells at 15s. A boll of bear in grain sold formerly at 7s.; it now sells at 13s. A boll of oat meal sold formerly at 8s. 4d.; (during the years of scarcity indeed, in the end of the last century, meal sold at 20d. per peck;) a boll of oat meal sells now at 13s. 4d. Our boll is 8 stone Amsterdam.
Wages, &c.—A labouring man's wages per day about 40 years ago, were 2d. and his meat; his wages at present are 6d. and his meat. The wages of a hire-man, that is, a man-servant hired for the half year, capable to hold the plough, and work with horses, were formerly 16s. 8d.; such a man's wages now are L.3, or L.3, 10 s. A maid-servant's wages formerly were, for the summer half year, 10s. with bounties, by which is meant, an ell of linen, an apron and a shirt: Her wages for the winter half year were 5s. with same bounties ; the reason why her wages were higher in summer, was, because she reaped in harvest; a maid-servant's wages at present, for the summer half year, are L.1. 5 s. with bounties of an ell of linen, apron and shirt, besides, she also stipulates for a week to herself, during which she goes to her parents house and works for herself, and is allowed a peck of meal for maintenance during that week. Her wages for the winter half year are L.1, with same bounties, week and meal. A tailor's wages formerly were 2d. and meat; they are now 6d. and meat. A weaver formerly charged at the rate of 1d. per ell, for weaving cloth of a certain species; he now charges 3d. per ell for similar cloth. A pair of coarse shoes formerly cost 1s.; such kind of shoes now sell at 3s.
In this place, the common labourers, when married, have a small settlement from a farmer, of about one and an half, or two acres, sufficient to maintain two cows and 14 sheep; the farmer does all necessary work for the land, in way of tilling, harrowing, leading home the corns, and bringing a certain quantity of fuel from the hills. The subtenant is always bound to serve the farmer in harvest, and in the winter half year. The encouragement given him, upon the whole, is such as may enable him to bring up a family without assistance from the poors funds. Though he have a rising family of six children, the eldest under twelve, it would be thought strange here, while he, his wife and children were well, if he should desire any supply. When the scheme of the situation of the labouring poor in England is considered, there occurs only one case in which a supply would be judged necessary here. The case is where the woman is deserted by her husband, and left with six children, four of them being too young to earn any thing: It is to be observed that children in this place become useful at eight or nine years of age: During summer they are employed as herds by subtenants. Thus their parents are freed from the charge of their maintenance; besides they get a small fee of about 5s. It is to be observed also, that a woman's work in this country turns to more account than it appears to do in England, and our mode of living is less expensive. Such a woman as is mentioned in the above case, could gain, in this country, in the way of spinning, about 18d. a-week, and manage her family-concerns. The young girls in this country, by the time they are 13 or 14 years old, can spin 5 or 6 hasps of yarn in the week: A woman that has nothing to interrupt her, spins about 12 hasps; the price for spinning a hasp is 3d. Poor people here, instead of tea, sugar and butter, live commonly on pottage and milk. It is only old, infirm or diseased people, who are unable to work, and the ordinary poor, who receive support from the poors funds. As for tradesmen and artisans, they have small settlements from the farmers, of about 2 acres each: They are generally bound to reap in harvest, and for some days work in the busiest time of summer. Upon the whole, by the accommodation of their small settlements, and the profits of their occupations, they are enabled to live comfortably, and to bring up families. The lower class of people here, as well as those above them, are, in general, sober, industrious and frugal; and but few of them fail in early life to make provision for the infirmities of old age.
Antiquities, &c.—The remains of what is supposed to have been a Druidical temple, still appear near the bottom of the hill of Wirran in Lethnot, and it is said that there were formerly to be seen, the remains of other two in Navar. Though at present there is but very little wood in. the parishes, it is plain that there must have been a good. deal long ago, because in many places where peats are found, large trunks of black oak are also discovered.
Eminent Persons.—Among those worthy of being mentioned, James Black deserves a place. This man, born in 1677, though his station was originally mean, raised himself by his prudence and industry, and did more service to his country than many of high rank and opulent fortunes. During his life he procured the building of the Gannachy bridge on the North Esk, and contributed almost all the money that was necessary for that purpose; a bridge which at this day could not be built for less than L.160 ; and at his death he left 50 merks Scots as a fund for its support, besides 1000 merks, for other useful and pious purposes, viz. 300 merks towards building a bridge at Balrownie, on the road that leads from this place to Brechin; as also 200 merks for the poor in the parish of Fettercairn, and 500 merks for supporting a school in the West-water, which has been already mentioned. On his tomb-stone the following inscription is engraved.
No bridge on earth can be a pass to heaven,
To generous deeds let yet due praise be given.
Fuel.—The general fuel of the parishes is turf, peat and heath. The providing of fuel here, is a work of great expence and labour, on account of the steepness of the hills, and the distance of the mossy ground. Many of the farmers, and many also of the subtenants find it expedient to bring yearly a few coals from the port of Montrose, distant 10 computed miles, which may be reckoned equal to 15 statute miles. The boll there, weighing 70 stone Amsterdam, costs about 8s. On account of the high custom-house duty at Montrose, our people go sometimes to Arbroath, which is at least 4 statute miles farther distant, where the coals are sold from 18d. to 2s. cheaper the boll. It is surely partial, and therefore impolitic, to make the duty on coals higher at Montrose than at Arbroath.
Roads and Bridges.—The roads within the parishes, though greatly improved within these last 20 years, are still but indifferent. The people are very sensible of the advantage of good roads; this indeed may be always expected to be the case, where a spirit of industry and improvement prevails. The statute-labour is exacted and allotted to roads within the parishes, and sometimes to that great road without the parishes, which leads to Brechin. There are no turnpike roads within the parishes. There are no less than 7 bridges within the parishes, 2 of them of about 50 feet span each. There does not seem any occasion for more.
Miscellaneous Observations.—Within these last 50 years, a great alteration has taken place in the manners, dress, and way of living of the people in this place. About 50 or 60 years ago, there was neither a spinning wheel nor a reel within the parishes. The rock and the spindle were then used, by which a woman could spin at an average only 3½ hiers in the day. They used then also, what was called the hand-reel, a machine equally slow for work. A woman can with as much ease at this day, spin 12 hiers, as a woman could have spun 3½ hiers then. A hier is 240 threads, or rounds of the reel, each of them 91 inches long. About 50 years ago, neither buckles were used for shoes, nor metal buttons for clothes. There were then very few carts within the parishes. Loads were then carried on horseback. Prior to the 1745. there was not a tea-kettle within the parishes, except the minister's; now there is not a farmhouse without one, and several of the subtenants use the same piece of furniture. Formerly there was little beef or mutton used. Even a farmer's family thought themselves sufficiently provided in flesh-meat with one old ewe killed about Christmas. For such a family at present 16 stone of beef, and 2 good sheep are considered as a moderate provision. About 20 years ago, neither barn nor mill fanners for cleaning victual were to be seen; at present each of the three mills has a set of fanners, and there are but very few farmers, whose barns are not furnished with the same useful machine. There has also been within these 4 or 5 years, a barley-mill erected, much to the convenience of the neighbourhood. Formerly the people, especially such as were wealthy, lived frequently in fear lest their houses should be broken, and their property plundered; at present they live so secure in some places, that, as is said, they are seldom at the pains to bolt the door under night.
PARISH OF LETHNOT AND NAVAR.
PRESBYTERY OF BRECHIN, SYNOD OF ANGUS AND MBARNS.
THE REV. ALEXANDER GARDNER, A. M. MINISTER.
I.—TOPOGRAPHY AND NATURAL HISTORY.
Lethnot and Navar, formerly separate parishes, were united in 1723.
Extent, &c.—The extent of the parish in length, from north-west to south-east, is about 15 miles; in average breadth about 5 miles. It contains 75 square miles. It is bounded on the north, by Lochlee; on the east, by Edzell; on the south-east, by Stracathro; on the south, by Menmuir; and on the west by Menmuir, Fearn, Tannadice, and Clova.
Topographical Appearances.—The cultivated and inhabited part of the parish lies along the Westwater and its tributary streams, extending about 9 miles in length, and averaging nearly one mile in breadth. The rest consists of hills and moorland, used as sheep-walks.
The hills in this parish form part of the Grampian range. The highest is Wirren, or the hill of springs. There are several others of considerable elevation.
Except in the southern part of the parish, where there is some level ground or haughs, the cultivated land lies on acclivities, rising gradually from the Westwater and other streams to the foot of the hills.
Hydrography.—There are a few mineral springs in the parish, but of no great importance or magnitude. The principal stream is the Westwater, a branch of the North Esk. Its source is in the upper part of the parish, direction south-east; its whole length about twenty miles. It joins the North Esk about five miles southeast from the parish at Inveriskandy, i e. Inveresk and Dye.
Geology and Mineralogy.—The rocks composing the hills are all of the primary formation, and, of course, contains no fossil organic remains. The prevailing kinds of rock are clay-slate and mica-schist, understood to overly a bed of gneiss, but their extent, thickness, &c. are unknown. A vein of blue slate traverses the parish from east to west, and is understood to extend to a great distance in both directions—indeed, from the German Ocean to the Western Isles. The slate is of the same kind as that found at Dunkeld and Easdale, and is thought to be a continuation of the same vein which is wrought at these places. The vein was opened here a few years ago, and wrought for a short time; but, from want of capital or some other cause, this work was discontinued. Some limestone is found in the parish, but of no practical utility. Red sandstone appears immediately on the south side of the Westwater, where it divides this parish from Menmuir; but none in the parish.
Although the mineral springs indicate the presence of iron in some of the rocks, no ores of that or any other metal have been found in the parish. None of the simple minerals found. Various alluvial deposits are found in the lower parts of the valley, consisting of gravel, sand, clay, marl, and peat, in some of which vegetable remains have been discovered.
As in similar localities the soil in the lower parts of the valley is composed of the debris of the neighbouring hills brought down by streams, rains, and the action of the atmosphere. It is pretty deep in some places, and is partly of a clayey and partly of a sandy nature, but the clay seems to prevail. The soil on the higher grounds is much thinner, and of a gravelly nature.
Land-owners.—Lord Panmure and General Duff, brother of the Earl of Fife.
Parochial Registers.—Date of earliest entry 1728.
Antiquities.—There are the remains of two or three small Druidical temples—one at Newbigging, near the remains of an ancient castle or tower called Dennyfern, one at Blairno, and one said to have been at Craigendowie, but now demolished.
Several small tumuli of stones or cairns, said by tradition to cover those who fell in skirmishes that took place between part of Sir Robert Bruce's army and the English, when in this part of the country.
The Old or First Statistical Account of the parish of Lethnot and Navar is dated 1792 whilst the New Account is dated 1833.
PARISH OF LETHNOT.
(County of Forfar.)
By the Rev. Mr John Taylor.
Annexation and Situation.
The parishes of Navar and Lethnot, prior to the year 1713, were two separate charges: Before their union, the parish of Lochlee and Lethnot were one charge. The minister resided at Lethnot, and preached two sabbaths at Lethnot, and the third at Lochlee. But, as Lochlee is distant from Lethnot ten computed miles, and as the road was found always inconvenient, and often dangerous, especially in winter, it was judged proper by all concerned about the year 1723, to disjoin Lochlee from Lethnot, to make former a separate charge, and to annex Navar to the latter. Navar and Lethnot, thus united, lie in the county of Forfar, the presbytery of Brechin, and the synod of Angus and Mearns. They are surrounded by the Grampian hills on all sides, except towards the east, where there is a small opening, through which the West-water issues, and the plain of the Mearns is seen. The only part of the Grampians, that lies to the south of them, is the hill of Caterthun, remarkable for having on its top the remains of a very ancient fortification. Opposite to Caterthun, which is the highest top of a long ridge, running nearly from east by north to west by south, are the Grampians on the north, nearly in a parallel direction to the long ridge of Caterthun, but much higher. Along the bottom of these, Navar and Lethnot are situated, the breadth of the arable land from the bottom of Caterthun on the south to the uncultivated parts of the higher Grampians on the north, being nearly 3-4ths of a mile all along, and the length about 5 miles. Lethnot, which lies eastward, is bounded on that quarter by the parish of Edzel, and part of the parish of Stricathrow, on the southeast and south by the eastern part of the ridge of Caterthun, which separates it from the parish of Menmuir; on the west by the West-water, which separates it from Navar; and on the north, by that part of the Grampians, called the hill of Wirran or the hill of springs, (as the word Wirran is said to signify) which separates it from the parish of Lochlee. Navar is bounded on the south and south-west by the western part of the ridge of Caterthun, which divides it from Menmuir; on the west it is separated from the Glens of Fern, Tannadice, Cortachy and Clova, by a great extent, of the Grampian mountains; and towards the north, others of these mountains divide it from the parish of Lochlee. But besides that part of the parishes, which is situated as above described, there is a considerable number of small farms, which lie scattered on the West-water and other small rivulets, extending a good way among the hills in a north-west direction from the church of Lethnot, the most distant being upwards of five miles from it.
Soil, Marl, &c.—The soil in both parishes is various, some of it is of a clay nature, some a rich loam with a till bottom, and there is some haugh ground adjacent to the West-water with a sandy bottom. The ancient name of the West-water was Dy; it has its source among the hills about twelve miles north-west from the church of Lethnot, and it receives in its progress a great number of rapid rivulets. There are appearances of unshapely rocks here and there on its banks, and at one place there is found limestone of a reddish sandy nature, mixed with veins of freestone. The farmers quarry the limestone, and find it to answer well with their lands. But there is no freestone quarry within the parishes, and though some of the rocks, which seem in general to be composed of what is commonly called scurdy stone, might answer for building, yet there is no quarry of them opened for that purpose. There is in the hill of Wirran, a species of rock of a bluish colour, and of a very sine texture, very like to that of the small blue slates, from which the farmers quarry lintels for doors and windows. They can have these pieces almost of any length and breadth they please; but as the rock is at some distance, it is seldom wrought. What is of greater consequence to some of the farms of the parishes is a vein of clay or rock marl, which runs from the east end of Lethnot to the west of Navar, in a line nearly east by north to west by south. This vein extends beyond the boundaries of the parishes. It is found on the lands of Balfour at the distance of five miles east, and it is found a little north of the House of Fasque, the seat of Sir Alexander Ramsay, at the distance of seven miles from this place. A great quantity, no less than 300 of our cartloads are necessary to manure an acre. But when it is put on in sufficient quantity, it is far preferable to lime, its virtue remaining for many years. It is of different colours, some bluish, and some purplish mixed with veins of a cream colour. It effervesces, like limestone, with aqua fortis, and answers best with thin dry land. However it can be of use to the adjoining farms only, because with respect to those at the distance of a mile or two from the pit, the expence and labour would exceed the profit. It is found at six, eight, and in some places ten feet below the surface. It is laid on ley and spread in summer, and continues to incorporate with the surface during the winter-rains and frost, and the field is broken up in spring for oats.
Mineral springs.—There is a great number of mineral springs within the parishes, all of a chalybeate nature; some of them are strong, and prove beneficial in complaints of the stomach and gravel. People of the neighbourhood frequently visit them; but there is no resort to them by persons at a distance, though it is believed they would prove as salutary in some complaints as the wells of Pananach, which are in high repute.
Fish.—In most of the small rivulets, which fall into the West-water, there is trout of the common kind; and in the West-water itself, there are three species of fresh water trout; 1st, Those of the common kind about eight or nine inches long; 2dly. The yellowish trout considerably larger; and 3dly, A species of trout called Par, about the size of a common burn trout, with a small head, and sides beautifully clouded. Besides the above kinds, there are also sea-trouts, which come up from the sea in May, from one to two pounds weight. There is likewise plenty of smouts, (as they are commonly called) or smelts, which are a slender clear-skinned species of trout about eight or nine inches long: They are supposed by some to be young sea-trout, but their flesh is white, whereas that of the sea-trout is reddish like salmon.
Distempers.—On account of our being surrounded by high hills, we are exposed to frequent and strong gusts of wind, by which the atmosphere is kept pure and healthy. The distempers most prevalent are inflammatory and pleurisy fevers, owing to the frequent and sudden changes of the weather, and to the peoples being exposed to hard exercise, wet clothes, and a sudden stopping of the perspiration. There is a distemper, called by the country-people the leaping ague, and by physicians, St Vitus's dance, which has prevailed occasionally for upwards of 60 years in these parishes, and some of the neighbouring ones. The patient first complains of a pain in the head, and in the lower part of the back; to this succeed convulsive fits, or fits of dancing at certain periods. This disease appears to be hereditary in some families. When the fit of dancing, leaping or running seizes the patient, nothing tends more to abate the violence of the disease, than the allowing him free scope to exercise himself in this manner till nature be exhausted. Another distemper, with which the constitution of some families here is tainted, is the scrofula or king's evil, owing very probably to cold, and to a poor aliment. But in general the climate seems favourable to longevity. Within these last 16 years, four persons have died, who were above 90; one of them was 106.
Population.—Dr Webster's state of the population about 40 years ago was 635 souls. The number of people has decreased considerably within these last 20 years. In 1777 and 1778, the number was 555, of whom 268 were males, 287 were females, 65 were under six years of age, 99 were under 10 years, 50 were Nonjurors, and 2 were Bereans. But in 1790, the number was only 505, of which 256 were males, 249 were females, 62 were under six, and 98 under ten. There are at present six tailors, seven weavers, two smiths, and two wrights, within the parishes. In 1790, the number of Nonjurors, or more properly now, Episcopalians. was 56. The cause of the diminution of the number of people is, that in no less than six cases, two farms have, within these fourteen years, been joined into one. Besides the number of subtenants is also considerably diminished. There were sixteen houses, then inhabited by subtenants, which are now ruinous. In some cases, the possessors, being old people, died out; and in others, the farmers chose to have their possession of land in their own hand, because they could turn it to more advantage; besides they wished to lessen the number of their subtenants, because they found it inconvenient to lead fuel to them, and to perform other stipulated services. The diminishing of the number of subtenants and the uniting of farms, it is presumed, is an evil not peculiar to this corner. The consequence is, that there is, and has been for some time, a great difficulty in procuring servants.
Agriculture.—The number of acres standard imperial measure in the parish, which are either cultivated or occasionally in tillage, as nearly as can be ascertained, is 2324. The rest of the parish, as formerly mentioned, consists of hills and moorland in a state of undivided common, and used as sheep walks.
There are only about 20 acres of wood in detached plots, chiefly Scotch fir and larch, and some natural birch.
The average rent of arable land per acre in the parish about 12s. The average rent of grazing per ox or cow, L.2, 10s.; per ewe, or sheep, 3s.
The modern system of husbandry is generally pursued. The rotation of cropping is three years of grass, and four of oats, barley, and green crop. No wheat is sown.
Within the last twenty-five years great improvements have taken place with respect to reclaiming waste land, draining, liming, &c. In some cases the extent of arable land has been nearly doubled. Originally the leases were all life-rents; a few of these still remain. The rest are for nineteen years, and are considered most favourable to the occupier. The farm-buildings are in a very indifferent state, but the enclosures are good, and mostly of stone. The principal disadvantages of the place arise from the rugged and uneven nature of the roads, and its distance from market-towns, the nearest, Brechin, being eight miles distant, and the road lying over a steep hill.
For the encouragement of his tenants in this and the two neighbouring parishes of Edzell and Lochlee, Lord Panmure, the principal proprietor, with his usual regard to their interests, several years ago, instituted an annual exhibition of sheep and cattle, when premiums are given by his Lordship for the best specimens of each kind.
Ecclesiastical State.—The church was rebuilt in 1827; it is in good repair; affords accommodation for about 250; all sittings free. The manse was built about thirty years ago. The stipend amounts to L.158, 6s. 11d. The annual value of the glebe is about L.20.
Education.—There are two schools in the parish, the parochial school, and another about five miles distant, supported partly by a small mortification, and partly by individual subscription, and taught only during the winter season. The salary of parochial schoolmaster is the maximum. School fees average about L.7 per annum: he has the legal accommodations.
Poor and Parochial Funds.—Average number of persons receiving parochial aid, 7. Average sum allotted to each per week, 1s. 6d. Besides a few others who receive occasional aid, varying according to their circumstances. The annual amount of contributions for their relief, arising from church collections, about L.14; from other funds, L.20.
There is a general disposition among the poor to refrain from seeking parochial aid, so long as they are at all able to procure the means of subsistence, either by their own industry or by the help of their friends.
Fuel.—The fuel used is chiefly peat and turf procured from the neighbouring hills, and coals from Montrose.