Statistical Accounts of St Vigeans
The Old or First Statistical Account of the parish of St Vigeans is dated 1794 whilst the New Account is dated 1842.
PARISH of St. V I G E A N S.
(County of Forfar, Synod of Anqus and Mearns, Presbytery of Aberbrothock)
By the Rev. Mr. John Aitkin.
The parish of St. Vigeans has, according to tradition, received its name from a reputed Saint, who is said to have lived before, or during the 12th century; for, in that century the church was built, about the time, or soon after the erection of the abbey of Aberbrothock . (The plan of the abbey and church of St. Vigeans, is said to have been drawn by the same architect, whose grave is shown to strangers in this churchyard. The above mentioned Saint, is said to have resided, for some time, about 3 miles from the place where the church stands, at a farm called Grange of Conan, where the vestiges of his chapel still remain, 28 feet long, by 15 broad. A few yards from the chapel, there are 3 or 4 acres of good land formerly belonging to it, but long since become the property of 1 of the heritors of the parish. The present proprietor, some years ago, enclosed a few falls of ground round the vestiges of the chapel, with a stone fence, and planted it. Within a few yards of the chapel, there is 1 of the most copious springs, of excellent water, in this country, called to this day St. Vigean's well.)
The church is built in the form of a cathedral, 60 feet long, by 54 over walls, on a small mount, the top of which is about 40 feet above the level of the circumjacent ground. The summit of the mount is of an elliptical form; the greatest diameter going from S. to N., and the length of the church being from E. to W., there are only about 8 feet at each corner more than is sufficient to contain the foundation of the fabric. The ascent on the W. N. and E. sides of the mount, is exceedingly steep. (The mount seems to be partly natural and partly artificial; for, on the S. side, when graves are digged, rock appears about 3 feet below the surface; but on the N. side, there is fine mould for several feet deep. There is not, perhaps, in Scotland, a church so remarkably situated. The small river Brothock, from which the neighbouring burgh has its name, runs within a few feet of the E. side of the church-yard, and is faid to signify the "muddy stream," as it runs s great part of its course on a muddy and clay bottom. The church is an English mile distant from Arbroath northward.)
Extent, Surface, Produce, Rent, &c.—Formerly the extent of this parish was considerably larger than it is at present. The town and. abbey of Arbroath belonged to it, till about the year 1560, when Arbroath became a distinct parish. But as no legal division was ever made, the boundaries of the 2 parishes cannot be exactly ascertained. (Perhaps it may be proper to observe, as an uncommon thing, that the S. side of the church of Arbroath, for about 10 feet at the E. end, and a few feet on the W., stands in this parish, and not many years ago, the minister and schoolmaster of Arbroath resided in it. The estate of Guynd, in the parish of Carmylie, about 5 miles from St. Vigeans, belonged also to this parish, as appears from writings belonging to that family, but when it was disjoined, is not now known.)
The boundaries of what is now reckoned the parish, may be described as follows: The west end of it borders on the sea for about 3 miles from the town of Arbroath, to about a quarter of a mile beyond the fisher town of Auchmithy: For about a mile east of Arbroath, the coast is flat, with a sandy beach; but within flood-mark, the bottom consists of ribbed rocks, visible only at low water. At the end of this extended plain, the coast rises abruptly, and becomes high, bold, and rocky, being the western extremity of the rubrum promontorium, or Red Head, which extends to about 3 miles beyond the limits of the parish. From the point beyond Auchmithy, to the N. W. corner of the parish, the length is about 7 miles, bordering for about 6 miles on the parish of Inverkeillor, and 1 mile on the parish of Carmylie. From the N. W. point to the S. W. corner, it is about 3 miles along the confines of the last mentioned parish. From the S. W. point to the E., the length is about 3 miles, lying on the N. side of the parish of Arbirlot, and a part of the country parish of Arbroath. But this last line is not so regular as those on the other sides. (Besides the extent comprehended within the above limits, there are 4 estates entirely detached from this part of the parish, and also from one another. One called Hospitalfield, so-called from being the place where the hospital for the sick of the Abbey of Arbroath stood, lying a mile W. from the burgh,. and divided from this parish by the burgh roads of said town. The other estate, called Inverpeffor, lies about 4 miles from St. Vigeans, was formerly the seat of the Fletchers, now of Salten, and purchased by the family of Panmuir some time in the last century.)
The parish, properly so called, is divided into nearly 2 equal parts, E. and W., by the small river Brothock. The E. side is by far the best soil, and the most favourable climate, and consequently the most fruitful. From the river Brothock, the ground rises gently for a mile towards the E., to the top of a hill called Dirkmountlaw, and afterward slopes in the same gradual manner towards the sea, where the coast is about 100 feet above the level of the water. On the W. side, the ground rises still more gradually for about 3 miles westward, till it reaches the summit of Grange of Conan hill, where the parish borders on Carmylie. The rest of the parish may be said to be pretty flat, with a few gentle elevations in different places.
There is no map of the parish; but by a pretty exact investigation, aided by information from the proprietors and farmers, it is found to contain about 9385 Scotch acres, including the 2 detached estates above mentioned; 8355 acres of which are arable, of which 2334 acres are enclosed, the greater part with ditches and the rest with hedge and ditch; 1359 acres enclosed with stone fences; 256 acres planted, chiefly with Scotch firs; 780 acres of moor, of which there are above 300 acres under improvement already, and more will soon be taken in for cultivation; and, it is thought, that in a few years there will be no moor remaining in the parish. The number of enclosed acres will appear more surprising when it is observed, that in the year 1754, there were not 40 acres, gardens excepted, enclosed in the parish.
There are, in the parish, 138 carts, 300 horses, 132 ploughs, 1633 black cattle, 510 sheep, a few of which are of English breed, and 30 swine. There are about 127 bolls of pease sown yearly in the parish; 140 bolls wheat; 976 bolls barley and common bear; 1578 bolls of oats. The yearly returns, at an average, may be 9 of wheat, 5 or 6 of oats, and 7 or 8 of barley. But perhaps this calculation may be rather high for the W. side of the parish; but, it is thought, the E. side will make up the deficiency. The valued rent of the parish is 8299l. 6s. 8d. Scots, which is the highest valuation of a country parish in this county, and the real rent about 6000 guineas; the number of proprietors about 40 ; the feuars some hundreds. The highest valuation of any heritor is 1200l. Scots, and the lowest 2l.. Scots. Ten heritors reside in the parish. One heritor keeps a 2 wheeled carriage; but there is not a 4 wheeled chaise belonging to any heritor residing. Most of the estates in this parish belonged formerly to the Abbacy of Arbroath, and were sold by Cardinal Beaton.
Soil, &c.—The soil, as may be supposed in such an extents varies very much. In some parts of the parish, it consists of fine loam of a brownish colour, many inches deep; lying, in some places, on clay, in others, on a sandy bottom, coarse gravel, or sand and clay intermixed. In others, it consists of a black insipid loam on clay; and this clay, in some places, is so compact and impenetrable, that by the rain-water lying on or near the surface, a great part of the winter, the manure laid on it is much weakened, and, in some seasons, fails considerably of its effect. This last, is the case with what has been formerly moor, and not so early brought into cultivation as other parts of the parish. There is, in some places of the parish, very fine soil, and pretty deep, lying on extensive beds of stone. There is, in general, a large extent of good soil, capable of producing any crop raised in Scotland ; and also, a considerable quantity of ground that will require no little attention and industry from the farmer, before it can repay the expense bestowed upon it. But the spirit of industry that has of late pervaded almost the whole heritors and tenants here, has produced an amazing alteration upon the soil, surface, and appearance of the parish; so that in many farms, there is not a single acre uncultivated; and if the fame spirit shall continue, it is supposed, that in a few years the whole extent of the parish will be under cultivation. It is generally allowed here, that the raising of the rents in this district, has, among other causes, contributed to the activity, attention, and industry of the farmers, who have of late been roused from that torpid state and insignificant rank they formerly held in society, and are become, in this part of the country, an acute, sensible, and intelligent set of men, capable of conversing, and being in company with persons of superior rank, and able to give advice and instruction to those who wish to apply themselves to the cultivation of the country. Considering the small advantages, which many of them enjoy, for the improvement of their minds, it may be questioned, if there is any rank of men in society that has so rapidly emerged from ignorance, inattention to business, and rudeness of manners, as they have done in a few years ; and by consequence they have become entitled to all the esteem and encouragement that is in the power of the landed interest to confer upon them; for, on their skill and labour, under providence, the very existence of society depends.
In some estates in this parish, a variety of services are required, such as ploughing, reaping, making hay, carrying coals from Arbroath, kain fowls, &c. ; in other estates no kind of services are demanded. There are but a few farms that are exempted from astriction to mills; the multures payable to some mills are high, to others moderate. There are 4 meal mills, 1 flour mill, 2 barley mills, 2 malt mills, 1 mill for washing yarn, 1 mill with 8 stamps for beating yarn when dry, and 1 waulk mill, all going by water. There is a bleachfield, where about 1000 spindles of yarn, and about 5500 yards of linen are bleached annually.
Village of Auchmithy.— Auchmithy is a small village situated about 3 miles eastward from the church, on ground elevated about 100 feet above the level of the sea, the descent to which is rough, steep, and rocky. It contains 180 people of all ages. The men are generally employed in fishing. They have 6 boats, value about 120l., with 5 or 6 men to each boat. The people of that place are become sober and industrious, and much civilized in their manners within 30 years past. They find a ready market for their fish in the neighbouring district, but especially in the town of Arbroath, which alone would consume ten times the quantity they catch. (The fish on this part of the coast, are cod, ling, skate, mackerel, hollybut, here called turbot, sea-dog, some turbot, called bannakfluke, and haddocks, few of which have been got here for the last 4 years; whitings and flounders are taken, lobsters also, and crabs in great plenty; vast numbers of seals formerly frequented the rocks along this coast, lying in hundreds together, but few of them have been observed for some time past. For some years, the price of fish has risen here very much. In 1754, and several years afterward, haddocks sold here for 2d. 3d. and 4d. the dozen, of late, they have cost 10d. and 1s. a-piece, and sometimes considerably higher. The price of other kinds of fish is still moderate.)
There is no harbour at Auchmithy, and from the number of rocks lying near the place where the boats land, it would be very difficult and expensive to make one. When the boats come in from fishing, they are drawn out on the beach above reach of high water. The value of what they call great lines, is about 1l. 5s. Sterling, and of the small lines half-a-guinea, and their creels for catching lobsters 25. In 1792, there were about 16,000 lobsters taken there, at 3d. a-piece, the whole of which almost were sent to London. The property of the village belongs to the Earl of Northesk, who allows ground to the fishers for houses, at the yearly rent of from 1s. 6d. to 3s. 6d. the house. The fishers build their houses on their own expenses. His Lordship draws the tithes of the fish, which are just now let at 4l. 10s. Sterling a-year, and 7 years ago at 8l. The fishing at that place appears to have been in a declining state for some years past. The Earl of Northesk has lately caused a cart road to be made from the village down to the beach, about 12 or 14 feet wide, for the conveniency of the inhabitants, though it is reckoned rather steep for a carriage. (This place was burnt down by some fishermen in the end of the last century. In digging the floor of a house in Auchmithy, a few years ago, in order to erect a partition wall, 33 coins were found in a small earthen pitcher, some of Henry IV of France, others of several German Princes, the rest of Charles II and William the III. Some of the pieces were of a square form. About 18 miles southward from Auchmithy, in the German ocean, there is a large rock about half an English mile long, and one quarter broad, visible at low water, where large cod are caught. Tradition relates, that in the last century there was a bell erected there on pillars of wood, and a machine so contrived, as to make the bell ring with little wind; that a Dutch master of a ship removed the bell, and that the next time he visited the place, his ship was wrecked.) In Auchmithy, as perhaps in most fishing villages, the accent of the inhabitants differs remarkably from that of their neighbours, even to such a degree, that the writer of this can easily distinguish the voice of any person belonging to that village, though speaking in a different room.
Stipend, School, &c.—The stipend, by a decreet as old as the year 1635, is 11 bolls and 1 firlot of wheat, 47 bolls, 3 firlots, 1 peck, 3 lippies, and two thirds of a lippie of bear, and 80 bolls and 1 firlot meal, at 7 stones the boll, equal to 70 bolls, 3 firlots, and 2 lippies, at 8 stones the boll, and 7l. 17s. 7½d. Sterling vicarage; but there is no allowance in the decreet for the expenses of communion elements. (The decreet makes the teinds payable ipsa corpora, and it is not known when the above conversion was made. At the date of the decreet, James Marquis of Hamilton is mentioned as titular of the teinds of the said parochine, and the stipend is said to be given in full contentment and satisfaction to the said minister and his successors, of any further provision which they, or either of them, might claim thereafter, from Patrick Archbishop of Glasgow, out of the pension granted to him out of the rents of the Abbey of Aberbrothock. This was Patrick Lindsay, of the family of Edzell, in this county, who was settled minister of St. Vigeans in 1614, was deposed by the Assembly in 1638, and is said to have died at Newcastle in 1644. It may be proper to mention, as perhaps a singular case, that a part of the stipend, amounting to 36 bolls of victual of different kinds, out of an estate in the parish, is mentioned in the reddendo of the proprietor's charter from the Crown, as payable by him to the minister of St. Vigeans.) The church contains about 1000 people, but now not half sufficient for the accommodation of the greatly increased number of parishioners. The glebe, of about 6 acres, is one of the worst in the county; the manse was built in 1663, has been several times repaired, and is now much decayed.—The schoolmaster's house is slated, consists of 4 rooms and 2 closets; and there is also a school-house of 38 feet long, lately built by contribution. The salary is 100l. Scots, which, with the dues arising from his office of session-clerk, and from marriages, baptisms, &c. makes his living worth 30l. Sterling. He has also a small garden. The scholars are generally about 50 or 60, some of whom are boarded in the schoolmaster's house. The fees for reading English are 1s., for reading and writing 1s. 6d., for arithmetic 2s., and for Latin 2s. 6d. the quarter.
Patronage of the Parish.—The patronage of the church belongs to the Crown, and is one of 34 that were in the gift of the Abbacy of Arbroath, All these devolved to the Crown at the Reformation, and, it is said, were afterward gifted to the family of Dysart, and were bought from that family in the last century by Patrick first Earl of Panmuir, and forfeited to the Crown, along with the estate, in 1715, by James Earl of Panmuir; the estate was sold by the Crown in 1717, to the York-building Company, but the Crown retained the patronages. In the times of Popery, public worship was generally performed in the church of St. Vigeans, by a Monk sent out from the Abbey, who was allowed the vicarage-tithes, which were then paid ipsa corpora, for his salary. The Abbots reserved to themselves the parsonage-tithes; and this custom, it is said, prevailed in all the churches belonging to the Abbacy. Tradition relates, that the last Monk who officiated here, was one of the name of Turnbull; and in the year 1754, part of the floors of 2 rooms in the steeple, said to be possessed by him, remained. He is said to have been frightened from his chambers by the devil appearing to him in the shape of a rat; and no Monk after him would be persuaded to reside in the steeple. Such was the ignorance that prevailed in these times. But this foolish conduct of the Monk will not, perhaps, appear in such a contemptible light, when the following more recent instance of ignorance, credulity and superstition, is attended to. From the year 1699 to 1736, the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper had never been dispensed in this church. A tradition had long prevailed here, that the water-kelpy (what Mr. Hume, in his tragedy of Douglas, calls "the angry spirit of the water") carried the stones for building the church; that the foundation of it was supported upon large bars of iron ; and that under the fabric there was a lake of great depth. As the administration of the sacrament had been so long delayed, the people had brought themselves to believe, that the first time that ordinance should be dispensed, the church would sink, and the whole people would be carried down and drowned in the lake. The belief of this had taken such hold of the people's minds, that on the day the sacrament was administered, some hundreds of the parishioners sat on an eminence about 100 yards from the church, expecting every moment the dreadful catastrophe. They were happily disappointed; and this spirit of credulity “soon vanished, like the baseless fabric of a vision." In the present times, it would prove a matter of great difficulty to make the people believe such absurdities. Perhaps the local situation of St. Vigeans, in the vicinity of the Abbey, might have disposed the people to imbibe such principles as are not easily rooted out. This much, however, may be said in favour of credulity, that it generally flows from an honest heart, though, on the other hand, it is seldom the offspring of a well informed head.
Population.—According to Dr. Webster's report, the population was 1591. Between the years 1770 and 1780, the commencement of the increased population of this parish may be dated. For some years in that period, the increase was slow; but since the year 1780, it has been very rapid, generally above 50 persons in a year. This increase has been chiefly, if not entirely owing to the flourishing state of manufactures in the town of Arbroath. An estate, lying in detached parcels near that town, was sold very lately to several persons, who immediately feued out ground to tradesmen, for houses and small gardens. A number of houses have been already built; many are just now building; and these are occupied mostly by weavers. In some few farms, the number of people has decreased, particularly in one, where the cottagers in 1754 were 18, and now there is only 1 family in that place. In April 1793, the houses in this parish were 730, and the number of people of all ages is 3336; and in that number there are 65 females more than males. In 1754, on the land contiguous to the town of Arbroath, there were but 12 families, by an exact list taken by 3 elders, from house to house, 3 weeks ago, there are in this parish, around the town, no less than 1369 persons of all ages, 669 males and 700 females.
Poor and Parochial Funds.—For some years at the end of the last, and at the beginning of the present century, an assessment for the maintenance of the poor became necessary, by the exhaustion of the usual charities. It was, however, only about 1812 that assessments became constant. The annual expenditure on the poor on an average of three years, was then L.258, 12s. of which sum, L.93, 3s. was raised by assessment. From that time to the present, the amount of assessments has gradually increased, and the average of the last three years is as follows: Raised by assessment, L.508, 14s. 5d.; church collections, L. 133, 18s.; mortified sums or legacies, L.18, 18s. 5d.; seat rents, proclamations, mortcloths, L.30, 11. 7½d.; paupers' effects, L.6, 11s. 5d.; total expenditure on the poor, L.698, 13s. 10d.
The assessment has hitherto been raised on the landed property alone, according to the old valued rent. The number of pensions paid to the regular poor and to the occasional is as follows: To the regular poor on the roll, 163; occasionally receiving parochial aid, 30. The sum expended on the former amounts to L.647, 16s. 6d.; so that each pension on an average is L.3, 19s. 7d.; the sum expended on the latter was, L.50, 17s. 4d.
Since the last Statistical Account was written, the population has nearly doubled, the landed rental tripled, the staple manufacture of the suburbs of Arbroath,—the spinning of flax yarn by machinery—has been created, the thrashing-mills are tenfold in number and power, the turnip and potato husbandry immeasurably extended, the fishing boats of Auchmithie doubled. No proprietor then kept a four-wheeled carriage; now seven do so. The dress, food, and accommodation of all classes are much superior; what were foreign luxuries then, have now become necessaries. The funds for the support of the poor were then L.70, now they are L.700 ; the former sum was then accepted with humble thanks, the latter sum is craved with murmuring. Loyalty, according to the writer of that day, was fresh and vigorous, now the suspicion of all power lies deep and rankling. Parents then supported their children, now multitudes of children prove the support of their father's family. To be without the profession of religion was then a contemptible singularity, now it is very common, and little marked.
Drawn up January 1842. Revised October 1842.
The average numbers who communicate at any one time in the parish church and in Inverbrothock are about 800 in each; but in St Vigeans district, there are, besides, about 245 communicants, who communicate in seven neighbouring parishes.
The stipend of the parish minister was augmented and modified in 1819, and is 17 chalders, old measure; or 5 quarters, 5 bushels, 3 pecks, 1 gallon wheat; 12 quarters, 1 peck, 1 gallon bear; 84 quarters, 5 bushels, and 1 gallon barley; and 130 bolls, 1 firlot, 2 pecks oatmeal, with L.10 for communion elements; amounting on an average of late years, by the fiars prices of the county, to about L.260.
The manse, offices, and garden wall were built in 1817, at an expense of L.700, and are every way suitable for the accommodation of a minister. The glebe, which was described by a predecessor as one of the worst of the county, contains about seven and a-half acres imperial, and, in general, is not unproductive.
Education.—There are seven schools in the parish, five being within the St Vigeans district, two in Inverbrothock, and one in Ladyloan. One of these, though in St Vigeans, was built for Inverbrothock by subscription, and by aid from Government, during last season, and is large and handsome. The parish schoolmaster's salary is the maximum. He enjoys, besides, a mortification of L.20 annually, for teaching five poor scholars, according to a bequest from Mr Colville, late town-clerk of Arbroath. The fees may amount to L.40, and his emoluments as session-clerk to as much. He has, besides, a commodious house and garden, the former of which was built about twenty years ago.
The number of scholars generally attending the seven schools is about 790.
The number of those who cannot read at all, above twelve years of age, may be reckoned about 80; but of the laborious classes of society, the number who can only read so as to understand but very imperfectly what they do read, is much greater than is supposed. I should think, from what I have experienced in communicants before their first admission to the Lord's supper, that one-seventh of the peasantry is not too high an estimate of the proportion in this class.
Savings Bank.—There is no saving bank for St Vigeans, distinct from that of Arbroath, and the accounts of the two parishes are so intermingled that the exact amount of deposits from each cannot be ascertained. But assuming that one-third of the depositors is from St Vigeans, the deposits would stand as follows, which cannot be far from the truth.
Live-Stock.— Cows, queys, or oxen, 48; sheep, 240; swine, 12. Number of horses of all kinds, 10. (This number of sheep is not usual; only one other farmer in the parish has a similar stock.)
The greater part of the parish at a distance from the town is on the five shift rotation, pasture, oats, green crop (chiefly turnip,) barley, and cut grass. In the western part of the parish there are a great number of small pendicles on inferior land, of which this is the rotation,—the produce of oats and barley being there scarcely two quarters per acre. The quantity of naked fallow in the parish is small; almost all the land fitted for wheat is prepared for crop by potatoes. The quantity of beans and pease is very small, being entirely confined to two farms on the large scale.
Wages.— Married farm-servants are preferred on almost all the farms, and their wages and emoluments are as follows: Wages annually, L.10, with house and yard; oatmeal, 8 cwt. 1 stone; 1 quart 1 pint new milk daily; potatoes, 100 stones; coals, 11s. Foremen or principal men obtain two or three pounds more of wages; and instead of milk they have the produce of a cow. Young unmarried men have L.12, with equal milk and meal as above, but without potatoes. Labourer's wages, 1s. 8d. per day in summer, and 1s. 3d. in winter. Maid-servants have from L.2, 5s. to L.3, 3s. in the half year.
The whole farm produce is disposed of by sample and weight in Arbroath. Great profit used to be derived by farmers in the neighbourhood, from green crop and from grass, for cutting; but this way of disposing of their produce has been much departed from, on account of the difficulty of obtaining payments. Many fields, however, are still let for potatoes, in small lots, at the rate of L.8, 5s. the acre; the farmer furnishing all the horse-work, and the individual planters furnishing the seed and manual labour. Many families, of the manufacturing classes, secure their winter potatoes in this manner, which now constitute two meals of the four daily refreshments. The use of pork, with the potato diet, has been introduced since the Statistical Account in 1793. Then, there were only thirty swine in the parish; now, there are ten times as many reared for home consumption, and exportation to London.
Of quarries in the parish, there are only three now wrought; one for freestone, and two others for pavement. The rental of the three, about L.150.
Manufactures (Communicated by George Canning, Esq.)—In no part of the county of Forfar, Dundee alone excepted, has the rapid increase in manufactures been more strikingly exemplified, than in that portion of St Vigeans which constitutes the suburbs of Arbroath. In the year 1808, there was only one spinning-mill in the parish (With the exception of a small mill at Letham. erected in 1793, being the first or second attempt in Scotland, we believe, to spin flax by machinery. It was driven by water, and being entirely experimental, it underwent constant alterations. A small steam-engine was ultimately got to increase the power; but the work has been abandoned for many years, and the buildings are now in ruins.) namely, Inchmill, driven by a steam-engine of sixteen horse power, of which only a very small portion was then employed in the spinning of yarns, the remainder having been used as a flour-mill. About seven years after this, the whole was converted into a flax and tow-mill. It is now an extensive work, employed in driving flax and tow machinery, a chemical bleaching work, and plash and beating-mills.
Arbroath and its vicinity had long been famous for the manufacture of several descriptions of coarse linens and canvas; but it was not till machinery had superseded the spinning-wheel, that the portion of the town lying in the parish of St Vigeans became the busy haunt of manufacturing industry.
Intersected by the river Brothock, it was soon found to offer all the advantages requisite for an extensive system of factory spinning. A large piece of land, consisting of about thirty-five imperial acres, called Almerieclose, lying in the very suburbs of Arbroath, and on both sides of the river, was at once given off by its proprietor in feus; and, in an incredibly short space of time, immense factories, with their towering stalks, and whole streets of dwelling-houses were seen to rear their heads, where, only a short time before, the waving corn and the smiling orchard attracted the eye.
The period embraced between the years 1820 and 1826, may be considered as the halcyon era of the linen manufactures in this quarter. It was during this comparatively brief space that by far the largest proportion of the buildings referred to was constructed; and although occasional seasons of prosperity have since occurred, to give a further impetus to this, the staple trade of the district, the five years referred to may, with safety, be mentioned as the period during which it was prosecuted with more uninterrupted success than has ever since been the case.
But this very prosperity, in the end, proved the fruitful source of wide-spread calamity. To meet the increasing trade of the town and suburbs, a native bank was established in Arbroath, contemporaneous with which, an agency, from an Edinburgh bank, was opened, which, added to the two previously existing, presented the formidable number of four banks to a population, including the environs, of about 10,000 souls. Naturally anxious to do business, and to participate in the profits of such apparently unexampled prosperity, as that which everywhere met the eye, the utmost facility and accommodation were afforded by the banks to almost every class of customers,—an unhappy feature, during prosperous times, of the banking system of the country in general, and which has not unfrequently led to the most disastrous results. The consequences were, in this place as elsewhere, that a number of individuals, destitute of capital, embarked in trade to an unwarrantable extent; and towards the close of 1825 and beginning of 1826, when the memorable panic in London convulsed the whole commercial community, its effects were experienced here with overwhelming severity, engulphing in one common ruin, not merely the speculator and adventurer, but many who for years had deservedly borne a character of unquestioned respectability, —a melancholy illustration of the instability of a commercial life, and a dear-bought warning to one and all, to avoid the fatal effects of over-trading.
Nor has the warning been unavailing. The recollection of that disastrous period has never ceased to retain and to exhibit its salutary effects, as well in the administration of the banking business of the district as on the whole body of merchants and manufacturers (It is here deserving of remark that, while in 1825-26 there were four banks to a population of about 10,000, there are at present, and have been since the last-mentioned year, only three banks to a population now increased to 15,000.); and hence it is that, during the last four or five years, while the neighbouring town of Dundee has been a prey to the baneful effects of a system similar to that which, in 1826, prostrated Arbroath, the latter has been distinguished by a moderation which has enabled its merchants and manufacturers to bear up against a series of bad trade, unparalleled in point of duration since the application of steam to manufactures.
At the present time (January 1842), there are in that portion of Arbroath comprehended within the parish of St Vigeans, fifteen mills or factories for spinning flax and tow into various sizes of yarns, from 1½lb. per spindle upwards. These are driven by 20 steam-engines of 250 horse-power, and give employment direct to 1240 persons. Of these, 275 males are employed in the hackling or dressing of the raw material, about four-fifths of whom are adults, the remainder being apprentices of from fourteen to eighteen years of age. The persons who constitute the remaining number of workers are employed exclusively within the factories, properly so called, in the proportion of 250 males to 715 females. Of these about 110 are men employed as millwrights, foremen, overseers, &c.; about 250 are women twenty-one years of age and upwards, and the remainder young persons of both sexes from thirteen to twenty-one.
The quantity of flax consumed in these mills may be estimated at 5500 tons per annum, of the average aggregate value of about L.200,000. The value of the yarns spun therefrom, and from the tow which is thrown off in the process of hackling, may be calculated at about L.264,000. The largest proportion of the flax thus consumed is imported direct from Russia, the port of Riga furnishing the greatest quantity and the kind held in the highest estimation, both on account of its quality and colour. From St Petersburg there are also considerable supplies occasionally derived, but the quality of late years has been falling off, and the article is consequently in less repute. Some of the Prussian ports, chiefly Memel and Pillau, furnish a certain portion. A small quantity is also imported from Ireland, but the flax of that country is in general too high-priced for this market.
With regard to the morals of the persons employed in these works, we have no hesitation in pronouncing it as our decided conviction, that they are not only not more lax than any other numerous body placed in similar circumstances of unavoidable juxtaposition, but we have reason to believe that they are, upon the whole, more circumspect in their general walk and conversation than those in any other place of equal extent within the manufacturing districts. The health of the people thus employed is also unquestionably above the average of those devoted to similar pursuits elsewhere. Dr Arrott, a highly respectable medical practitioner of forty years' standing, whose residence is contiguous to one of the principal factories, and who has had ample opportunities of ascertaining the fact, assures us, that the health of the mill people here is, on the whole, good; that, notwithstanding the reduced wages of late years, and consequent lack of nourishing food, cases of typhus have been comparatively few, and that epidemics are not more prevalent or more fatal amongst them than any other individuals confined to in-door occupations.
This gratifying state of things we attribute to the operation of several causes. And first we may notice the favourable position of the town, and the description of houses appropriated to the residence of the working classes. Lying partly along the shore of the German Ocean, and extending thence up the valley of the Brothock, from which the streets rise and recede on both sides, there is, as it were, a natural capability for cleanliness; and assisted as this is by an active police, ever busy in the work of improvement, Arbroath, including much of the suburbs, may be safely pronounced as decidedly the cleanest manufacturing town in Scotland. But besides this, it is happily recommended by an entire absence of those huge buildings, Scotice lands, in which, in some of the larger towns, the humbler classes are congregated together in dense masses, producing a physical as well as moral miasma at once pestilential and fatal. Here whole streets are composed of small tenements of one storey, where the weaver, hackler, or other artisan, enjoys his self-contained house, with his little piece of garden-ground behind. The advantages of such a system of domiciliation are observable in habits of cleanliness and self respect rarely to be met with in those abodes of wretchedness to which we have alluded. The health is obviously far less liable to be impaired, and a higher standard of morality amongst the inmates may, as a necessary corollary, be inferred. To the dry and salubrious situation of the town and suburbs then, and to the favourable construction of the dwellings occupied by the working-classes, in conjunction with the active exertions of the Sabbath-school teachers, and other means of religious and moral instruction elsewhere referred to, do we ascribe the comparative good health and decency of conduct which, in the midst of much privation, characterize, generally speaking, the factory workers in this quarter.
Nor, in referring to this subject, should the laudable efforts of the friends of temperance be passed over without special notice and commendation. In some of the mills there are many good and pious men active in the cause of promoting sobriety amongst their fellow-workmen; and the writer of this has great pleasure in bearing his grateful testimony to the growing improvement visible in the habits of the men in his own employment, traceable entirely to the power and influence of the Total Abstinence Society, whose principles are progressing gradually, and which are destined ere long, we firmly believe, to work a moral reformation in the manners and habits of the industrial classes, which cannot fail to be productive of the most beneficial results.
To the improvements consequent on the introduction of the Factory Act, some good is also to be attributed, and in nothing more than the necessity which it imposes on all mill-owners to observe the same stated hours for working. In this respect, and the restraint caused by the medical certificates, and the visits of the inspectors, against the employment, whether from the cupidity of parents or the avariciousness of masters, of children of a tender age more than a given number of hours daily, the act is doubtless beneficial. The hours of labour which it prescribes are twelve for each of the first five days of the week, and nine on Saturday, three-quarters of an hour being allowed for breakfast, and a similar time for dinner. Six holidays are allowed in the course of the year. Children between the age of nine and thirteen are not permitted to work above eight hours per day, but of these none are employed in the factories here. Ample time is thus allowed for education before entering the mills; and from the excellent seminary recently opened in connection with the church of Inverbrothock, and other means of instruction, we would fondly hope, though in the present state of trade it is almost too much to expect, that the day is not far distant when no young person will be found within the factories of this place, who has not received the elements at least of a plain education. Low as the fees are, however, of the schools, it is not to be questioned that many well-intentioned parents are totally unable to contribute for any length of time even the small sum requisite for the education of their children. We refer more particularly to the children of weavers; a class respecting whose condition we shall have occasion in the sequel to advert. With all the advantages, therefore, enjoyed by this locality, as compared with many of the seats of manufactures, we doubt of anything short of a national system of education being sufficient to check the crying evil of the children of the poor being cast on the world without religious or even secular instruction. In the larger towns there is, there cannot be any other means of grappling with the demon of ignorance; and while the Legislature, by wholesome laws, is bound, as far as practicable, to alleviate the physical sufferings of the people, it is not less called upon to attend to their moral and religious training. The Government or Parliament which neglects both incurs a fearful responsibility.
With respect to the wages of those employed in the factories here, though considerably lower than they have been, we should say, that, looking to age and the preponderance of females, they are perhaps the best paid class employed in the linen trade, with the exception of hacklers. Spinners, who are all girls of fifteen to about twenty-five years of age, earn from 5s. 4d. to 6s. 6d. per week; reelers, from 5s. to 6s.; and those in the preparing departments, from 3s, to 6s., according to the nature of the work assigned to each. The department requiring early and indispensable previous training is the spinning. It consists in expertness and facility in uniting broken threads, and which can only be efficiently acquired by the young. In the present improved state of machinery, the labour is by no means irksome; and hence it is that it is no uncommon thing, in passing through the spinning-flat of a well-conducted mill, to find many of the girls employed in reading. Spreaders, feeders, and reelers have a more laborious work to perform; but the persons employed in these capacities are, for the most part, full-grown women; and, generally speaking, they are allowed a longer time for meals and relaxation than the rest of the hands. The whole of the workers, men, women, and children, are at liberty to leave their employment on giving four weeks' notice,—in some cases even one week being held sufficient. Hacklers are paid at the rate of 2s. for every hundred weight of rough flax which they dress; and it is no unusual thing for a steady hand, with the assistance of an apprentice, whom he allows 3s. 6d. to 5s. 6d., to earn L.1, 4s. per week. The average wages, however, of this class, including those who have no apprentices, does not perhaps exceed from 10s. to 12s. per week. (In the interval between the writing of this article, in January 1842, and the correcting of the proof-sheet in October following, a farther reduction in wages has taken place of five to ten per cent.)
In seasons of ordinary manufacturing prosperity, and when provisions are cheap, contingencies which rarely fail to coexist, the wages of persons employed in these factories, with the exception of the boys and young girls in the preparing departments, may be considered as sufficient to maintain them, house-rents being here comparatively moderate, and fish abundant and cheap; but in periods of bad trade, such as has been experienced during the last four or five years, when wages are low, and bread high, the remuneration is often inadequate to supply more than the necessaries of life; and the parents of many of the children being in such times either entirely idle, or only partially employed, it is obvious that no small amount of destitution and suffering must unavoidably ensue. Such, indeed, is unhappily the case, to some extent, at the present moment; and this brings us to speak of the handloom weavers, (and here there are none other,) than whom we know of no class whose labour, even when full employment can be got, is so scantily remunerated.
In explanation of this, it seems necessary to take a brief review of the causes which have led to a state of things so deeply to be deplored, and, in a social as well as political point of view, so pregnant with matter for serious consideration. In the earlier stage of the application of steam to manufactures, and even up to a period, as regards the linen trade, comparatively recent, the whole of the yarns spun in the factories were manufactured into cloth at home. This in prosperous times required a great number of hands, and, from the facility with which the weaving of ordinary fabrics can be acquired, the demand was soon supplied, more especially in winter, when masons and other out-door handicrafts, unable to pursue their usual callings, betake themselves to the loom. An immense number of weavers being thus thrown on the market, it was not difficult to perceive, that any derangement of the ordinary course of business, independent altogether of mere temporary stagnations, would seriously affect this numerous body. Such a derangement has at length occurred, in the shape of an extensive and daily-increasing exportation of yarns. It is calculated that already about one-third of the yarns spun in the factories here is exported to France; (A serious check has been given to this trade by the ordinance of the king of the French, of 27th June, imposing a heavy additional duty on British linens and yarns imported into France. It is impossible as yet to calculate the consequences of this pernicious measure—October 1842.) and when it is taken into account, that, since the opening of this new market, no additional mills have been erected to supply the deficiency thus occasioned in the home manufactory, it is self-evident that the quantity of cloth produced must have suffered a corresponding diminution. Here, then, is at once a solution of the partial or non-employment of hand-loom weavers, and, when employed, their low scale of remuneration.
At first sight, it is apt to occur to those unconversant with the matter, that, from the facts just mentioned, the value of the linens manufactured at home would be materially enhanced by reason of the diminished supply. This is not the case. It is well known that some fabrics, at one time the staple of the place, are no longer sought for; the demand for others is gradually declining. It would appear, indeed, that the demand for manufactured goods is falling off in a ratio corresponding to the amount of yarns exported. The situation of the manufacturer is thus daily becoming more precarious. It is undeniable, in short, that a change, slow, and it may be to some imperceptible, but not less sure and irresistible, is gradually shutting out the manufacturer from markets at one time exclusively his own; the consequences of which (except to the wealthy capitalist, who is better prepared a little longer to resist the storm,) cannot be other than a few short years of struggling and privation, ending in bankruptcy and ruin. But the mill-owner, it may be said, must at all events be profiting by this additional market for his yarns. The deterioration in value of this species of property of late years unhappily disproves the inference. The principal advantage, in the meantime, arising out of the foreign demand seems to consist in the ability which it gives to the mill-owner of keeping his factory going, which he would otherwise have been totally unable to do, except at an enormous sacrifice. Low prices can alone enable him to command the custom of the foreigner, who has heavy charges to pay before the article reaches its destination. To save these, he will doubtless ere long have factories of his own; and the time is probably not far distant when the spinning trade will fly our shores as the weaving already in a great measure has done. The cure for these alarming evils it would be alien to our purpose to propound; but this much we cannot avoid saying, that any attempt to administer palliatives to alleviate the condition of the present chief and most numerous victims of the revolution to which our staple manufactures are now being subjected, will, however philanthropic the intention, assuredly end in failure and disappointment. The axe must be laid to the root of the tree, or the poor weaver may hope in vain for any permanent relief from his miseries.
Here, as elsewhere, the privations of this class are sufficiently distressing, and would be much worse, were it not for the employment given to their children in the factories. By this means, and owing to the local advantages already referred to, they contrive to subsist; but when disease and old age supervene, cases of suffering, in its most aggravated form, must and do occasionally occur. The wages paid for the weaving of a piece of linen, which, in 1825, were 17s. 6d., are now 9s. 6d. The fall in the price of canvas-weaving since 1836 has been 20 per cent. At present, a first-class weaver, working fourteen hours daily, cannot earn more than 8s. 11d., and a second-class 7s. 1d. per week.
At the present time, the number of duck-houses, or shops for the weaving of canvas, is twenty, containing 242 looms, with the usual proportion of starching births. These shops are, generally speaking, low, damp, and ill-aired, which, combined with the long hours the inmates are obliged to work, in order to earn even moderate wages, can scarcely fail, with inadequate nourishment, to be prejudicial to health, and hence the squalid appearance of many of the weavers of sailcloth. The linen weavers are differently situated,—these, for the most part, having each his loom in his own house, or in a small shop adjoining, where the air is less impure, and altogether a greater degree of comfort is found; but they labour under the disadvantage of having to provide and uphold their own looms, or to pay rent if belonging to others, which is not the case with the duck-house weavers. There are two items of expense, however, common to both, namely, for winding and light, and when these are deducted from their scanty and hard-won wages, the pittance that remains is poor indeed. Of canvas-weavers the number at present is about 450, of whom 40 or thereabout are women; linen-weavers, 732, of whom nearly one-third are females. These are exclusive of starchers, warpers, and foremen, besides a considerable number of aged women employed in winding the yarns.
The linen manufacture being the staple one of this district, all or most of the other trades carried on therein are subservient to and more or less connected therewith. There are two works for bleaching yarns (a few years ago there were four); the oxymuriatic acid or chlorine employed as the chemical detergent being manufactured at the respective works. In one of them the residuum,— black oxide of manganese, and sulphate of soda,— remaining in the retort after the gas has been worked off, is subjected to the action of fire in a series of shallow pans, by which means it is calcined and converted into an alkali of no great strength, but which serves as an economical substitute for potash. The offensive vapours arising from this process are rendered innocuous by means of a chimney 150 feet high, which scatters to the winds what would otherwise prove an intolerable nuisance. In these works the number of persons at present employed is very inconsiderable. The average number is about 15 men and 25 women,—the wages of the former being from 10s. to 14s. per week, and of the latter from 5s. 6d. to 6s. 6d. Besides these there is another bleaching work in the parish, of which it may be proper to take notice here. It is named Waukmills, and is situated on the Brothock, three miles from the harbour of Arbroath. Being intersected by the railway to Forfar it enjoys all the advantages of a cheap and expeditious means of communication with the town. It gives employment to about five men and ten women. Here also is a mill for grinding bones, &c. for manure.
Next to the bleaching works may be mentioned the plash-mills for milling brown yarns, and beating-mills for beating or softening the yarns used for weft. There are altogether three sets of plash and beating mills,—one of them driven by water power, consisting of a slight fall in the mill-lead, which, descending from nearly opposite the manse to the dam of Wardmill, belonging to the community of Arbroath, and thence to the southern extremity of Inchmill property, there returns its waters to the Brothock. This mill-race, running through the premises of the bleachers and yarn millers, affords an excellent supply of water for washing the yarns and other operations.
When canvas or linens are about to be shipped either for the home market or exportation, they are generally callendered, that is, passed between and around the cylinders of a powerful engine of cast metal, called a callender, which smooths and gives a gloss to the cloth, similar to the household mangle, but of course much more ponderous and effective. By the lever-power attached to this machine, the cloth passing through it can be stretched in a greater or less degree as required. In connection with these public callenders, there is invariably found the hydraulic press, which is employed to compress into compact bales of different sizes and shapes the cloth and yarns intended for shipment,—the saving in freight from being thus tightly pressed being considerable, especially when the goods are destined for far distant countries. These callenders and presses are all worked by steam, giving employment to about 15 men.
In a place thus abounding with factories and other works, it may be inferred, that the services of mill-wrights and machine-makers must be constantly in requisition. The number of these, however, apart from the mills, is not considerable. In each factory there is a shop containing all the implements requisite for repairing the various machinery, and a set of mechanics, regularly bred as millwrights and machinists, forms a part of every establishment. Besides these, there are two works appropriated exclusively to the making and repairing of driving geer and mill machinery of every description, with the exception of steam-engines. The average number of men employed therein is about 25, whose wages run from 13s. to 17s. per week, with seven apprentices from 4s. to 7s. 6d.
There is only one foundry in the district. It is on a large scale, giving employment to 32 men and boys. The castings consist chiefly of stoves and other articles for the use of the settlers in Canada, to which country an extensive supply is annually exported. Attached to this work is a set of furnaces for making coke for the locomotive engines on the Dundee and Forfar Railways.
In a previous paragraph, the Wardmill was incidentally referred to. It consists of a building of some extent, with the requisite appendages for grinding wheat and oats. It is driven by a waterwheel, the water being supplied from the dam formerly mentioned assisted in seasons of drought by a steam-engine of six-horse power. This property, though, like the rest of the parish, situated without the royalty, belongs to the town (corporation) of Arbroath. The present rental is L.231 per annum. On the east side of the dam was, and still in part is, a hill consisting of sand and clay, the former of which is being constantly taken away for ship's ballast and other purposes. A brick-work has been formed of the latter. In the course of a few years, the entire hill will be demolished, when a plain of considerable extent will be formed, and thus will be converted into a valuable piece of ground, what was not long since an unseemly mound surmounted with a few stunted trees.
Having thus noticed the principal manufactures in the suburbs of Arbroath, it only remains to state, that, in addition to those mentioned, there are in the parish other two mills; the one at Collieston, the other at North Tarry. These works being on a small scale, and employing few hands, it does not seem necessary to give any particular account of them. In the village of Marywell, at Collieston, and other small hamlets, as well as detached cottages throughout the parish, weaving, in brisk times, is carried on to a considerable extent; but, latterly, there has been a sad lack of employment, and many of the poor people have now little to support them, except the produce of their cow and a small pendicle of land, whose scanty crops have been rendered still more scanty of late years, by a succession of bad harvests.
Before concluding this rapid sketch of the manufactures of St Vigeans, it may be proper to warn those unacquainted with the locality, and its peculiar relation to the burgh of Arbroath, that the whole extent of the manufactures of that town is not to be considered as comprised within the preceding statistical details. It so happens, that the parish of St Vigeans runs into the royalty of Arbroath, in a manner so very remarkable, as almost to defy the sagest antiquarians of the district to point out, in some parts, the precise line of demarcation between them. In one quarter of the town, namely, West Port, there is a house of two storeys, which enjoys the peculiar distinction of being situated, one-half in the parish of Arbroath, and the other half in the parish of St Vigeans. There is also one in Guthrie Port, in a similar situation. The name Arbroath, however, is common to the whole continuous range of buildings, whether in the one parish or the other; but, in some important respects, they are very widely disunited. All those, for example, whose property or dwelling-houses happen to be within the ill-defined boundaries of the royalty, are entitled to all the privileges, such as they are, of municipal citizenship; while those beyond the supposed line are excluded entirely from all voice in corporation affairs, however great their stake, in the town at large may otherwise be. The consequence of this is, that out of 408 electors for the town of Arbroath, under the Parliamentary Reform Act, there are only 233 qualified as municipal electors.
To the natural facilities enjoyed by St Vigeans, (Arbroath), for carrying on manufactures, it adds certain other advantages, which, in these days, seem almost essential to the progress in improvement of any trading town or district. We refer to railway communication and harbour accommodation. In these respects, Arbroath is in advance of many towns of greater population. About three years ago, a railway was opened, connecting it with the great manufacturing town of Dundee, distant sixteen and three-quarter miles, about one mile of which runs through that detached portion of this parish which lies along the coast to the westward of Elliot water, in the parish of Arbirlot. Another line of railway was opened in January 1839, connecting Arbroath with the county town of Forfar, distant fifteen and a-quarter miles. The depot, at the Arbroath terminus of this railway, is situated in the parish of St Vigeans, which it intersects for a distance of nearly four miles. These great works are destined to confer inestimable advantages, not merely on the towns with which they are more immediately connected, but on the county generally. The number of passengers annually conveyed along them is much beyond the calculations of their most sanguine projectors; and for the conveyance of flax, yarns, cloth, coals, lime, agricultural produce, pavement, and other articles, they are found to offer such obvious advantages, that they now command the exclusive traffic for these and almost all other goods and merchandize.
The present harbour of Arbroath having been found quite insufficient for the increasing shipping and trade of the place, an act of Parliament was obtained in 1840, for the improvement and enlargement thereof. A new harbour is, accordingly, now in the course of erection; and, when completed, cannot fail, in connection with the railways, to increase and extend the commercial importance of the town, and its populous and industrious suburb, St Vigeans.
Fisheries.—The only fishery worth mentioning in this parish is the sea fishing, carried on by the villagers of Auchmithie. Salmon-fishing has been tried on the shore by stake and bag nets, but never so successfully as to clear the expenses. In the white fishery, there are twelve boats employed, containing five men each. It would be difficult to ascertain the weight of fish taken by each. The cod are taken by contractors, at prices from 5d. to 7½d. for each of full length, that is, seventeen inches from the breast fin to the root of the tail. Under that size they are only half price. The higher price is the winter one, and the lower the summer. The former are salted and barreled; the latter are chiefly salted and dried. (Private families obtain from the contractor, cod, per favour, at 1s. or 1s. 6d. according to the season.)
The number of cod fish caught, from October to the end of February 1840, 1841, was 10,268; and the number from the beginning of March to the end of June, 8702. There were formerly, as stated in last Statistical Account, great numbers of lobsters taken and shipped to London (16.000 in a season); but the breed has been much exhausted, as now, not 1000 are got during a-year. Haddocks are taken in great plenty, and are either smoked and taken to the Dundee market, or sold fresh in Arbroath and through the country. Their price, for full size, varies from 10d. to 1s. 6d. per dozen. Skate and halibut are also taken; the latter are sold by weight, at 1d. per pound. Almost the whole boats annually depart to the north, on the second week of July, to the herring-fishing, where they remain for about six weeks; and each boat contracts for 200 crans, at prices varying between 9s. and 13s. per cran, with two bottles of spirits to each man weekly; and most of the boats, for a number of years, have made up their number of crans. Their bait for white-fishing is dragged for in the mouth of the Tay, or purchased from the lessees in the mouth of the Eden, and deposited among the rocks near their own village, till required.
The fishers are a stout, healthy, and generally sober people. The pilotage of the entrance to the Tay, however, threatens to introduce the employment of their money with less economy and sobriety than formerly.
Ecclesiastical State.—The parish church is of the old Anglo-Saxon order of architecture, with nave, and arches, and side aisles. Besides being dedicated to St Vigeans, St Sebastian also had a chapel in it, which was supported by a small mortified sum. It is built beside the Brothock, on a rock of the soft variegated sandstone formerly described, which evidently had been left when a more powerful stream than the present flowed through the valley. There are similar rocky knolls in the same glen, and at the mouth of the Lunan and Elliot. In the churchyard, there formerly stood a large cross over the grave of some person of eminence, richly carved in hieroglyphical figures of the kind found on sepulchral stones in some other places of Scotland. The cross has been long ago demolished, but the stalk remains, with characters at the base, hitherto undecyphered. There is a square tower by way of spire at the end of the church, once, no doubt, a sanctuary for offenders. It had three stories, and is said to have accommodated the officiating monk during his turn of service in the church. (The teinds of this parish were granted by William I, with consent of Hugh, Bishop of St Andrews, to the Abbey of Arbroath, being the first grant of teinds so conferred; and St Vigeans being the parish in which the Abbey was built. The church of St Vigeans would appear from its style to have been built long before. The gift of the teinds, however, displeased the bishop's successor Roger, and a settlement was made by arbitration with the abbot, when the teinds were confirmed to the abbey in the year of the birth of Alexander, William's son. In the fifteenth century, the whole lands of the parish belonged to the abbey, excepting Inverpeffer.)
The church of Inverbrothock was built in 1828, and opened in October 1829. It cost about L.2000, and is seated for 1230 sitters. The principal heritors and the town council of Arbroath were the principal subscribers to it. The stipend secured to its minister is L.150, with L.20 for communion elements. The minister of this church and his session have the superintendence of the poor within their district. The proprietor of each pew has a vote in the election of a minister, but the leet proposed to them is selected by the five managers.
The church of Ladyloan is in Arbroath parish, but there are 842 persons of the district allocated to that church within the parish of St Vigeans.
Within the parish there are only two Dissenting meeting-houses; one belonging to the Original Constitutional Seceders, and another to the Methodists. The village of Auchmithie and neighbourhood employ a preacher of the Established Church in a small chapel there. The late Countess of Northesk being desirous of more effectual means of spiritual improvement, and of the accommodation of the villagers, built this chapel in 1829. On account, however, of some hesitation of connecting it wholly with the Established Church, it was not opened till 1834. At that time, worship continued in it regularly on the Lord's day for nine months, when it was again shut, and only opened for the parish minister at such times as he could officiate. This continued till December 1840, when the villagers obtained a preacher to officiate in their schoolroom, who, after some time, was admitted to the chapel, with the understanding that the privilege should only be from week to week during the pleasure of the proprietor.
There are eleven miles of turnpike roads, five of railroads, and thirty miles of roads repaired by the commutation or parish road money. All these are favourably situated for the accommodation of the parish and public.
Rent of Land, &c.—The rental of land in this parish is exceedingly various,—pendicles near Arbroath paying about L.6 per imperial acre, and an extensive farm paying only at the rate of 5s.,— the latter on an old lease. There are now only three extensive farms on old leases, all the rest of the parish being fully if not over-rented. There is now no undivided common. The woods in the parish consist mostly of larch, with a mixture of Scotch fir, beech, and elm. Like most of the soil of the east coast, the soil is not particularly favourable for the growth of wood.
The total landed rental of the parish is L.15,500; the police rental within the suburbs of Arbroath for houses and gardens, L.6905; total, L.22,405. And, deducting L.500 for woods and waste ground, the average rental of arable land per acre is L.1, 5s. 6d.
The recent agricultural improvement is furrow-draining, chiefly by flat stones coupled in setting, and covered by small stones. Some estates have been ameliorated by trench-ploughing. Bone-manure for the turnip, one-half fed off by sheep, is also not uncommon.
The subjoined account may be considered as giving the rent, cropping, and produce of what may be reckoned one of the superior or model farms of the parish, with every advantage for manure, green crop, town neighbourhood, and management.
Extent, 300 imperial acres; rent, L.672, or L.2, 15s. per acre.
It may be remarked, however, that these four years have been everywhere of lower temperature than usual.
In the parish, there are only two springs of very equable temperature, varying only about half a degree throughout the whole year. These give the average temperature, 47.4. One of these is at the inmost corner of the mason's cave, on the level of the sea, and about 90 feet below the surface of the ground, the other about 100 feet above the sea level, on the side of the road leading to Montrose, about a mile east from Arbroath, which latter throws up large quantities of carbonic acid gas, and atmospheric air. Another copious spring near the manse, which varies about 4°, according to the season, gives the average temperature for 1841, 47.2°. The Brothock stream, which originally appears to have been a chain of small lakes, is mostly fed by springs, and therefore not so speedily frozen as streams usually are of a similar size. It contains no fish, but some small pike and eels, the bleaching-works on its banks having completely banished the trout formerly found in it.
The key to the geognosy of this district appears to lie at and near the Red-head. For the section of the rock there contains either the actual strata of the country to the westward, or at least their analogous representatives. The amygdaloidal trap and other pyrigenous rocks there form the foundation of the stratified metamorphic rocks, which are interposed between the former and the red sandstones, and the conglomerate or gravel rock; and the whole of them have their bearing to the south-west. Trap tuff, or altered conglomerate and slate-clay, lie next to the pyrigenous rock, and this is found to crop out now and then in this south-west direction, at Newton, Park Hill, and Mill of Letham, associated with its slate-clay passing into clay porphyry, as the later geologists affirm, by its proximity to the supposed formerly heated mass. The kinds of rock which prevail mostly throughout the parish are two, the old red sandstone, and a soft variegated sandstone. These are both particularly described by Professor Fleming of King's College, Aberdeen, in the second volume of the Transactions of the Wernerian Society. What may be the thickness of the first or old red sandstone, it is not easy to determine. The general dip of the strata is towards the south-east, the valley of the Vinney forming the anticlinal axis, for northward of that the dip is in an opposite direction. The dip is seldom below ten or above twenty-five degrees. Excellent quarries are now being wrought at the Whitingness to a great extent, for building the new harbour of Arbroath. This stone, of which the greater part of Arbroath is built, is not very pleasing to the eye, but it is easily wrought, and the lime takes a firm hold of it. On the south side of some dikes built of it near the sea, the stones are weathered or honey-combed in so regular a manner, that they might form models for the rustic in architecture. This rock is No. 2 of Lyell's section.
Accompanying this rock, and superior to it, there is a gravel stone or sandstone conglomerate, which, in some places, as at Whitingness, appears unconformable, covering the outcroppings of the other old sandstone, and more horizontal in its layers; yet, upon extensive examination, it may be found alternating with this latter, and, therefore, must be considered of contemporaneous deposition. This conglomerate consists of boulders of granite, gneiss, mica-slate, quartz, porphyry, jasper, and the various species of trap rocks, with their enclosed minerals. These boulders are imbedded in a most cohesive hard cement, and their rocky structure may be seen to great advantage on the mural precipice at the shore of Auchmithie. Pebbles of the toughest and hardest quartz may be there observed, cleft by fractures in the strata, and the halves of the same pebble separated three or four feet, yet each half adhering firmly to its mass of cement.
The second kind, or variegated sandstone, although it has occasionally where lime enters into its composition, hard seams extending through its beds, is of a texture softer, and quite different from the former more red-coloured sandstone. This commences where the rocky shore ends, at Whitingness, near where St Ninian's chapel and burying-ground were, and, taking a bearing north-west for two miles to Tarry mill, in the interior of the country, then bends westward, and serves for a foundation along the coast side for all that plain which passes through the parishes of Arbirlot, Panbride, and Barry. It appears conspicuously in all the small streams of the district which have cut it deeply, exposing its mouldering surface to sun and frost, which reduce it speedily to sandy mould. But over all its extent there is a comparatively level surface, which forms a beautiful platform for an exhibition of the art of agriculture; and the opportunity has nowhere been better improved than here, for four or five handsome independent fortunes have been peacefully and honourably earned, by the labours and care of the farmer. It would appear as if the waters of the ocean, acting at a level of 90 or 100 feet above the present shore, had abraded this comparatively soft rock into a level surface, leaving finally on it the debris of its own sand and clay. Many nodules of sulphate of baryta and calcareous spar are dispersed through it, and there are grayish white spheres with a black centre, as if the spawn of gigantic Batrachia had been scattered throughout its substance, and afterwards petrified. This sandstone in its lower strata becomes compact and durable, and is quarried at Drumyellow and Brax, in this parish, and at Kelly den in Arbirlot. There are found in Drumyellow quarry, appearances of branches of large monocotyledonous plants, and in the upper strata frequent cavities.
The subsoil of this parish is of three distinct kinds. The higher grounds to the east of the Brothock have but a thin subsoil, formed of the debris of the sandstone rock on which it lies. And the western part has mostly a subsoil of great depth of till or diluvial marl, with boulders dispersed of all sizes, from that of a pea to those of six or eight tons weight, evidently all derived from northern rocks.
But there is in the middle plain towards the mouth of the Brothock valley, on each side of the stream, a series of remarkably formed gravel ridges, several of them a mile in length, running from north to south, with a slight curve to the east in their southern terminations. Springfield House is situated on the conspicuous end of one of them on the east bank, and Kepty hill is the most prominent termination of another on the west bank of the stream. This latter is about 40 feet high. These ridges consist of boulders, gravel, sand, and clay strata. What might have been the original agent in their formation, cannot be inferred with certainty; but they all exhibit such an appearance, as if a great debacle from the north sea, in rushing past the high land to the northward, had, in turning up the valley of the Brothock, deposited in the eddies of its more shallow parts, its burden of atones and gravel swept from other surfaces; and there are three appearances which greatly countenance such a supposition; for, 1st, the strata or layers of which they consist, dip in a direction contrary to the descent of the present stream ; and, 2dly, at the extreme northern talus of each ridge, a large mass of small sand is found deposited. Bridgeton is situated on one of the points of these tali, North Tarry on another, and the Wardmill hill forms a third; and on the western side of the stream, the manse stands on one, and the farm of Cairney furnishes three or four more instances of these similar formed tali. The rock of the churchyard seemed to have furnished an obstacle, behind which was deposited in the former lake, a similar ridge, though of lower elevation. About two miles farther up the valley, a similar series of ridges on both sides the stream are apparent, though not so elevated, yet their forms and substances are the same, abutting on eminences of land to the south, and declining into sandy points at their northern termination. The mansion of Letham Grange is situated on one of these; in digging the foundation for which pure gravel like that on the sea shore was cast up.
It is remarkable that the alluvial or more recent diluvial strata at the mouths of the three streams, the Southesk, the Lunan, and the Brothock, are all similar in their formation. On the surface, first, a stratum of gravel, then a thick one of small sand, under which lies a stratum of brick-clay, then several feet of sand, and beneath all a thick stratum of brick-clay. This is finely exhibited at Wardmill Hill, and at Red Castle on the Lunan. The valley also of the Brothock and the plain of Inverkeilor are nearly on the same level, about ninety feet above high water. Hitherto no organic fossils have been found in these alluvial strata, excepting petrified reeds. In the quarries from which the pavement is taken, which is a lower branch of the red sandstone, berry like marks, fossilized joints of reeds, and leaves of rushes or grass are occasionally found deeply situated in the rock.
Between the soil and the subsoil, on a great part of the western triangle of the parish, there is often a cake of a substance like bog-iron ore, called pan, evidently formed not from the iron in the decay of the vegetation, but from the carbonaceous matter of the roots through successive ages, combining with the oxide of iron by which the red diluvial clay below is impregnated and coloured. This cake is very pernicious to the fertility of the soil, retaining the moisture in winter, and subjecting it to parching drought in summer.
Parochial Registers.—The oldest register in this parish commences with the settlement of Mr Patrick Strachan in 1665, and was kept by him for thirty years, recording collections and church discipline, and texts of his sermons promiscuously. The baptisms and marriages were recorded at the end of the volume in the same manner. This volume is succeeded by an interval of thirty years without any record. (Two volumes were said to have been burnt by the wife of a session-clerk for alleged ill treatment to her husband.) Subsequent to 1727, a record was regularly kept of all parochial matters, excepting funerals. For a few years after 1727, the sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not dispensed, under a superstitious notion, from the circumstance of the minister committing suicide, that the church was destined to be engulphed in the surrounding hollow, if that ordinance should be administered.
Land-owners.—In the end of the fifteenth century, this whole parish, with the exception of Inverpeffer, belonged to the abbey. The valued rent of the parish is L.8307, 7s. 5d. Scots money; and the chief proprietors are, John Hay, Esq. of Lethamgrange, L.1085 Scots; Lord Panmure, non-resident, L.1200, 5s. 6d.; Mrs Renny Strachan of Seaton, L.953, 8s. 1d.; James Mudie, Esq. of Pitmuies, non-resident, L.864. There are, besides these, the following proprietors, with less extent of valued rent, resident in their mansion-houses in the parish: Captain Robert Scott, Abbethune; David Scott, Esq. of Newton; John Duncan, Esq. of Parkhill; David Louson, Esq. of Springfield; John Lindsay, Esq. of Almeriecloss; George Canning, Esq. of Millbank; George Chaplin, Esq. of Colliston; Patrick Rickard, Esq. of Woodlands; Thomas Scott, Esq. of Beechwood; Mrs Baker of Hospitalfield. The mansions of all these are modern, except Colliston, said to have been built by Cardinal Beaton for his son-in-law. The Earl of Northesk and Sir John Ogilvie, Bart. of Inverquharity, the Town-Council of Arbroath, and Dr Ogilvie of Parkconan have also estates in this parish; but they are not resident proprietors.
The population of this parish has been, for the last 100 years, continually on the increase. According to Dr Webster's report, the population was then 1592. Since 1780, the increase has been rapid in the neighbourhood and suburbs of Arbroath. In 1754, there were but 12 families on the lands contiguous to the royalty, containing then, in all likelihood, 60 individuals. In 1793, only 1369 persons of all ages, 669 males and 700 females, were there. There are now in the same limits, within the Parliamentary boundary, 1004 families, consisting of 6037 individuals. By the census of 1841, there were found in the parish, comprehending the three ecclesiastical districts, 8780 individuals, of which 2743 resided in the country, including the country villages of Auchmithie, Marywell, and Gowansbank. Auchmithie contained about 280; the village of Marywell, 170; and Gowansbank, 120. In the town of Arbroath there resided, as above, 6037 individuals belonging to the Inverbrothock and Lady loan districts.
The number of illegitimate births during the last three years within the three ecclesiastical districts has been in all 42, or one annually for every 670 of the population.
The inhabitants of this parish are kind towards one another, and particularly interested in each others health and welfare. Though the operatives are not highly educated, they are intelligent and sober. It is, however, to be lamented, that many of the farm-servants, having been bred from their boyish days in bothies, are but coarse and clownish in their manners. The competition for farms, and the consequent high rents, compel many of the masters to exact from their servants severe and rough toil in all kinds of weather; and it must be evident, that such exertions are scarcely consistent with much refinement of manners or much intellectual cultivation. Besides, the universal habit in farm servants of frequently changing their abode, is not favourable to their religious improvement and demeanour.
Within these few years, an occupation has been taken up in Arbroath which is threatening to change the habits of part of the population; it is that of brokers who afford ready accommodation to the inconsiderate to part with their necessaries, and thus increase their misery. Forty years ago, few females were employed at the loom; now, on the lighter fabrics, they are employed in numbers, as stated particularly in the account in this paper of "Manufactures" by Mr Canning.
The extent of land in this parish is 13,400 acres, consisting of,
PARISH OF ST VIGEANS.
PRESBYTERY OF ARBROATH, SYNOD OF ANGUS AND MEARNS.
THE REV. JOHN MUIR, MINISTER.
I.—TOPOGRAPHY AND NATURAL HISTORY.
The parish of St Vigeans is here considered as comprehending the ecclesiastical districts of St Vigeans proper; 2. Inverbrothock; 3. a third part of Ladyloan.
Anciently this parish extended over the whole barony of Aberbrothock. (Aberbrothock was originally not the name of a town, but of a district, signifying the country upon the Brothock, which name means the muddy stream.) It is in the abbey chartulary named indiscriminately Aberbrothock, Arbroith, or St Vigeans, the two first from the stream Brothock passing through the parish, and the last from the saint to which the church was dedicated. St Vigean was a monk and famed preacher in the end of the tenth century. (Vigianus monachus, Christi dogmatis egregius concionator. Is sub id tempois claruit. (Boethii Scotorum Historia, Lib. xi. sub rege Kennctho III. anno circiter 990. Item Leslaeus, Lib. v.)
His original chapel and hermitage were at Grange of Conan, where there are a small grove and foundations of a chapel, and also a most copious fountain, which preserves his name. Three or four acres of land contiguous to these are by tradition held as belonging to the chapel. Not far from this place, there was a baronial castle, named Gory or Gregory, which perhaps afforded protection to him; and a Druidical circle, on another eminence not very distant, laid a foundation for the rude population conveniently assembling and being converted to a new faith by former local associations.
Extent.—The greatest length of the parish from east to west is 8½ miles, and its greatest breadth 4 and one quarter. There are two detached estates, lnverpeffer and Hospitalfield, the former lying to the southwest of Arbirlot, and the parish of Arbroath separating the latter. Including these two estates, the extent of the whole parish is 22 square miles.
The form of it is not very different from that of two right-angled triangles raised upon the Brothock as a common base, the western triangle being somewhat more northerly than the eastern. The stream of the Brothock flows through the parish for four miles in a direction straight south, passing through the middle of Arbroath, and entering the sea at its harbour.
Boundaries.—The parish is bounded on the north and on the east by Inverkeilor; on the south, by the German Ocean for five miles; and on the west, by Arbroath, Arbirlot, and Carmylie. Originally it included the parish of Arbroath, disjoined at the Reformation, and the estates of Guynd, Crofts, and Milton of Conan, now in the parish of Carmylie, disjoined in 1606. The ecclesiastical district of Inverbrothock was disjoined by the Presbytery in 1829; and part of that latter district was again disjoined and taken to constitute part of Ladyloan in 1837. Inverbrothock and Ladyloan districts (Ladyloan consists of that part of St Vigeans to the south of Kepty Street, and to the east of the Crossgates) include the whole suburbs of Arbroath, with about 100 acres of land on the east side, and 110 on the west side of the town. (An excellent map of Arbroath, by Wilson, shows the present parishes most distinctly).
Topographical Appearances.—The form of the surface of the parish may be understood, by conceiving three declivities in different aspects, with an intervening valley. The ridge, commencing at the Red-head, in the parish of Inverkeilor, at a height of about 200 feet above the level of the sea, continues gradually rising in a southerly direction, for four miles, to Dichmountlaw Cairn, where it is about 250 above the sea level, and from that eminence slopes equably south-west to Arbroath, about a mile and a-half distant. The eastern and western declivities of this ridge form the eastern triangle of the parish. Again, at the very western angle of the parish, Cairn Conan rises 550 feet above the sea level, at a distance of five and a-half miles from it; and from that eminence, from which there is a beautiful prospect in every direction, there is an equable south-eastern declivity to the Brothock and to the sea. Between the declivities of these two eminences of Dickmountlaw and Cairn Conan, lies the valley of the Brothock, running from Arbroath towards Brechin, and forming one of the transverse valleys to those of Strathmore and the Lunan. The declivity towards the sea, in the eastern part of the parish, terminates in a mural precipice at the shore. This precipice, with the exception of two small bays, where the shore retires a little, continues from the Red-head to within a mile of Arbroath, at Whiting Ness, where Mr Lyell, in his Elements of Geology, commences his engraved section of the strata in this part of Forfarshire. Although, in general, on this part of the coast, the sea washes the foot of the abrupt precipice, a person of activity, during low water at spring-tides, may pass along between the sea and the rock for a distance of upwards of four miles, from a peninsular rock, called Lud Castle, to St Murdoch's Chapel, in the parish of Inverkeilor. In the face of the precipices, between Whiting Ness and Auchmithie, there are a number of caves and arches, perforated by the action of the waves in the softer parts, and in the veins and crevices of the red sandstone. In calm weather, some of these may be passed through in boats, and others on foot. They are visited by strangers, on account of their picturesque aspects; but their former inhabitants, the seals, have now abandoned them. There is one particularly accessible, where the masonic arcana were formerly gone through; sombre enough, no doubt, while closed from the day, and lighted only by the flambeau below the lurid sides and roof of the sandstone. This cave extends 200 feet, with a strong calcareous spring at the farther end. It is evident, when this was excavated, as well as many of the others, that the relative levels of land and sea were different; for the highest tide now flows only on the rock at its mouth, but never enters it. There are also arches and excavations high up the precipices, far above the reach of the present tides.
There is one remarkable perforation, about a mile south from Auchmithie, called the Geary Pot, (probably named from the gyration of the sea at the bottom of the hollow), which terminates the natural arch, extending from the sea for 200 yards. This has evidently been excavated, through successive ages, by the wasting away, originally, of several veins of sulphate of baryta. The depth of this ravine is about 120 feet, and the descent to the bottom of it is practicable, though not easy. Besides the three miles of rocky shore, there is one mile, to the east of Arbroath, of a sandy shore, where the bank retires about 100 yards; and on the Inverpeffer estate, to the west of Arbroath, there is another mile and a-half of sandy shore, with a large space of links and sand hillocks, through which the Dundee and Arbroath Railway passes.
The temperature of the atmosphere of this parish is lower on an average than what its height above the sea level would indicate. The cross valley in which it lies, affording an easy passage to currents of air between the ocean and the Grampians, partakes somewhat of the moisture of the one, and of the cold winds from the other. There is a marked difference between this climate and similar situations on the coast of the Frith of Forth; for instance, about Musselburgh. From simultaneous observations made at both places, it was found that, in clear nights, the thermometer falls much lower in the latter place than it does here; while, on days of much sun, the temperature at Musselburgh rises much higher. Here the maximum temperature of the day occurs at about half-past twelve; after that, in sunny days, it rapidly sinks; the sea breeze setting in with chilly damp, causing the afternoons to be far less agreeable, than in more inland situations, even of Forfarshire. Our fruits and harvest are at least a fortnight later than in the fields and gardens towards Dundee. A haze seen at the mouth of the Tay, or a particular brilliancy of the Bell Rock lights, are both accounted signs of approaching rain.
A register has been kept daily, with general regularity and accuracy, for the last four years, of the temperature of the atmosphere. The thermometer was hung at complete freedom, four feet from the ground, on a post in the open garden, in a northern aspect, shaded by boards from the sun, on the other three sides, but fully exposed to the air, and the following table exhibits the results. The temperature was taken also at eight o'clock A. M., and it differed only from the medium of maximum and minimum, on one year's average, about one-tenth of a degree, and, on another, three-tenths; so that this district differs much in its daily curve of temperature from Leith Fort, as ascertained by Sir David Brewster.
Average of the daily medium temperature between the maximum and minimum, by Six's register thermometer, two miles from the sea, height above its level, 60 feet, and above the surface, 4 feet:
The average number of baptisms for the last 5 years, is 75; but it would have been greater, if the parents had been more regular in giving in the names of the children to the parish-register. The baptisms for the year 1792, which were 93, may be depended on as the exact number administered by the Established minister, as he baptized none during that period, which were not registered before baptism. But there may have been about 4 or 5 more baptized last year by ministers who are not of the Establishment. The average number of baptisms from 1754 to 1758, both inclusive, is 50. There has never been any register of burials kept in this parish.
In the parish, there are 225 weavers, 40 wrights, 13 smiths, 22 tailors, 17 masons, 23 shoemakers, 4 coopers, 2 dyers, 9 shopkeepers, 16 public houses, the most part of these near Arbroath, 12 gardeners, 12 flax-dressers, 2 slaters, 2 bakers, 8 wheelwrights, 2 midwives, 1 tan-yard and 2 tanners. In the above district near Arbroath, there are 2 societies, one of which takes the name of the St. Vigeans Weaver Society, instituted in 1787, and governed by a preses and counsellors, chosen annually. This society consists at present of 87 members, all weavers; and they admit none but those who have been regularly bred to the business. The preses buys from 800 to 1000 bolls of meal yearly, and from 400 to 500 bolls of coals, all which is given out to the members at 3 or 4 months credit; this society affords 2s. a-week to their poor, which is paid out of the general fund; and when that fund happens to be reduced to a certain sum, their poor are supplied by a contribution among the members. The other is called the Townhead Society, is managed in much the same manner as the former, but admits members of all occupations, and has no stated allowance for their poor, but bestows as their funds will allow. The chief design of the establishment of these societies was for providing coals and meal for the families concerned in them, which they are enabled to purchase at a cheap rate, by laying in large quantities at proper seasons; and they find ample credit, by the whole members being bound for the payment. The members of both societies show particular attention to the moral character of the persons they admit.
It is but doing justice to the inhabitants of these newly erected villages, to observe, that they are generally sober, and remarkably industrious; by which means the most part of them are enabled to live comfortably. By their residence in the vicinity of Arbroath, where manufactures are carried on to a very great extent, they enjoy every advantage for knowing the goodness and value of the materials they make use of, the method by which they may be best manufactured, the character of the merchants with whom they deal, and when to embrace the fittest opportunity for disposing of their goods.
It is proper here to observe, that the first manufacturer of the cloths called Osnaburghs, in this country, and perhaps in Scotland, was the late Mr. John Wallace, merchant, and some time provost of Arbroath, who began that business about the year 1740; and for many years after that period, all that kind of cloth manufactured in this part of the country centered in his shop. But now that business has been extended through almost every town, village, and parish in the county, and is now carried on to such an extent, that the very large sum of money brought into this county by that breach of business cannot be estimated without an inspection of the custom-house books. By information sent the writer of this, from the master of the stamp-office in Arbroath, taken from his books, it appears, that from November 1791 to November 1792, there were stamped 1,055,303 yards of Osnaburgh and brown linen; and that one-fourth part of that quantity was manufactured in this parish. The value of the above cloth was 39,660l. 6s. 10 and seven eighths pence. Sterling. The bounty paid by government is 1d. Sterling on each yard of Osnaburgh valued 6d. and 1½d. on each yard above 6d. of price.
Rise in the value of land.—The property of many estates in this parish has been frequently transferred since the year 1754. One estate on the W. side of the parish, of about 300 acres, was sold about the above period for less than 600l.; some years after that it gave 1300l.; soon after 2300l.; afterward for 2500l.; it is just now in the market, and 6000l. at least is expected for it. Another estate, on the W. side, but near Arbroath; consisting of 150 acres, was sold in 1765, for 2300l. and 3 years ago it gave 5800l. Another estate, on the east side, of 363 acres, was sold about 30 years ago for 1200l., soon after for 1400l.; about 3 years ago it gave 4000 guineas. A farm of about 800 acres on the W. side of the parish, a part of which is moor, was feued about 20 years ago, and divided by the proprietors into 2 farms; the whole farm paid of rent in 1754, and for several years after, about 70l. One of the farms was let some years ago for above 200l., and the other for 160l. Another estate, lying near Arbroath, in detached parts, was sold about 43 years ago for 1750l., several years after for 4750l., and two years ago for 8000l. in small parcels. Another estate in the E. side of the parish, was sold in 1765 for 850l., and 2 years ago for 2000l.
Crops, Ploughs, Farmers.—There are about 70 farmers in the parish, who pay of yearly rent from 2l. to 200l. Of 35 heritors, the number in 1754, only 2 are alive; and there is not one farmer alive in the parish, and now possessed of a farm, who was a farmer in 1754. Scots ploughs, very neatly made, and covered with yetling, are the only kind used in this parish. They are drawn by 2 horses, and worked by one man. The writer does not know of a plough drawn by oxen in the parish. In such variety of soil, difference of climate in the E- and W- sides of the parish, degrees of knowledge and taste of the farmers, power of habit, &c. the rotation of cropping must be very different. It is thought that the 2 following modes are the most common here. When a farmer breaks up ley ground, which has not been formerly improved, about 30 bolls of lime-shells are laid upon the acre; the shells are delivered with the barley measure, the first crop oats, the second barley, without any manure, the 3d crop oats, the 4th a green crop, or, according to the condition of the ground, barley with grass seeds, and lies under grass generally 4 years. Or, they breakup ley generally at Lammas, lay on lime and dung for wheat, 2d crop oats, 3d crop turnip, and 4th barley, with grass-seeds. There are raised here from 50 to 60 bolls of 16 stones Amsterdam weight of potatoes upon the acre, and of this useful root, great quantities are produced in the parish. A considerable quantity of flax is also raised here, generally the 2d crop after breaking up ley ground, 9 or 10 pecks of Riga or Dutch lint-seed are sown on the acre, which produce from 25 to 30 stones avoirdupoise weight of dressed flax; rent of the acre about 5l. About 200 stones of hay are raised on the acre. For threshing corns, the farmers allow their barn-men the 21st boll, without any victuals, or the 25th, with 1 meal a-day. There are now in the parish 4 or 5 threshing machines; but it will require some time and experience, before it is known whether or not they will prove advantageous to the farmers; they seem to think that the working of them is hurtful to their horses. It is supposed that the parish does not now produce meal sufficient for the consumption of the inhabitants ; but there are about 1500 bolls of wheat, and between 2000 and 3000 bolls of barley sold yearly, the greater part of which is sent to Leith and Glasgow, Turnips are raised on almost every farm ; and some black cattle are fed and sold to the butchers of Arbroath, from 10l. to 14l. the head.
Prices, Wages, &c.—Day labourers have, here from 1s. to 1s. 4d., masons from 1s. 8d. to 2s. and tailors from 6d. to 8d. a-day; these last have their victuals also. Ditchers for the rood 6 yards long, 5 feet broad, and 5 deep, 1s. Dikers for 36 square yards, the stones laid down to them, from 9s. to 10s. Ploughmen having victuals in the farmer's house, from 7l. to 9l. and 10l.; Ploughmen married, have a house from the farmer, the same wages, with 6½ bolls of meal in the year, with a Scotch pint of milk a-day. In place of milk, some have a cow maintained by the farmer, and have 5l. wages. Beef from 4d. to 4½d. the Dutch pound, and veal 4d., mutton 4½d.; fowls 1s., eggs 3d. 4d. 5d. and 6d. a dozen. Wages are more than double, and prices generally as 3 to 2, in 1754.
Poor, &c.—There are generally between 20 and 30 poor persons, who receive alms from the public fund of the parish, which consists of an annuity paid out of au estate in the parish amounting to 2l. 15s. 6½d. Sterling, mortified by George Chaplin, Esq. a native of this country, and some time merchant in Jamaica; also of the interest of 83l. 6s. 8d. Sterling, at 4½ per cent; also of the interest of 17l. Sterling, of some seat rents in the church, dues on mort-cloths, proclamations, collections, and presents, of which last 15l. Sterling has been given at 3 different times, within the last 3 years, by an opulent farmer in the parish. The whole sum arising annually from the above articles, will amount to between 60l. and 70l. Sterling; all which is generally distributed to the poor within the year; and they receive their shares on the last Sabbath of every month, from 2s. to 4s. according to their situations and necessities. The heritors contribute nothing to their support. (When the poor are entered upon the roll, they are supposed to have given up their effect, in the event of their death, to the poor's fund; but these seldom fall to the session, as there are generally claims offered by relations for attendance, occasional supply, and the expense of burial. There are very few begging poor in the parish.
In the parish there are about 20 persons of the Church of England, 70 of the Scotch Episcopal church, 30 Independents, 35 Methodists, 40 Seceders, 10 Bereans. The Established Church is generally well attended, and the parishioners contribute liberally for the support of the poor, to the amount of between 10 and 13s. every Sabbath during the summer. The difference that prevails here, and in Arbroath, in religious opinions, appears to have no disagreeable influence on the minds and manners of the people. However much they may differ in their sentiments, they associate together, transact business, and meet in a social and convivial manner, without an instance almost of any injury or personal abuse of one another.)
Curiosities, Antiquities, &c—On the top of a mount of much the same height with that on which the church is situated, and about 180 yards directly east, there is heard a very remarkable echo, proceeding from the E. end of the church. It repeats very distinctly 6, and in a calm evening 8 syllables, or a line of our psalms in metre, and does not begin to reverberate till the voice of the speaker has ceased. When the speaker moves a few yards from his first station, 3 echoes are heard, and, proceeding a little farther, in the same direction, 3 echoes are repeated. The form of the ground from the church to the station of the speaker is hollow, and nearly in the shape of a semicircle.—About 3 miles westward from the church, are seen the vestiges of Castlegory, or Castlegregory, where it is said that Gregory, king of Scotland, resided; and the names of several places in the neighbourhood seem to show, that it had been once a royal residence, such as Grange ot Conon, or Koning, Miltown of Conon, and Park Conon. A proprietor in the parish. has informed the writer of this, that his house was built of the stones of this castle in the 1611 century. Several stone coffins have been lately dug up in the parish, above 5 feet long, and 3 broad, and some earthen jars with ashes in them. A deer's horns, in high preservation, were found a few years ago in a moss, some feet below the surface, with moss above and marl below.
There is a hill called Dick, or Dickmount-law, which is said, in one of the statistical accounts, to signify a rampart of protection or peace. It is about a mile E. of the church, and seems to have been very much adapted to both the above mentioned purposes. On the top of this hill there is a large cairn, now covered with grass, and hollow in the middle, where the baron held his courts. From it there is one of the most extensive prospects in this country. There is a view of the Grampian hills, for more than 30 miles, the coast of Fife for about 18 miles, the Isle of May, the Lowmonds of Fife, Largo-law, and the German Ocean for above 50 miles.
For many years after 1754, agues were so common in this parish, that the incumbent has often seen, in the months of March, April and May, and sometimes in autumn, from 15 to 35 persons in that distemper. He does not remember to have seen a single person in the ague for 20 years past. There never seems to have been what could be called a lake in the parish; but as a great part of the ground lies on a clay bottom, and formerly must have been very wet, it is thought that this must have contributed to the prevalence of this distemper. The climate must, no doubt, now have become much more healthy by the great number of ditches lately made here.
There are several caves in the rocks, along the W. between Arbroath and Auchmithy, one of which can be entered only at low water. When seals abounded on this coast, it was customary to let people down to this cave with a rope round their body, to the depth of 40 feet, with ropes of straw rolled round their legs, and bludgeons in their hands, in order to kill seals. There is another, called the Maiden Castle cave, the entry to which is about 10 feet above high water-mark. The mason-lodge of Arbroath built a gate to it, and gave it a door many years ago. They walked in procession every year on St. John's day from Arbroath to this cave, where they admitted new members. It is about 231 feet long, and from 12 to 24 feet broad. At the farther end there is a spring of fine water, but exceedingly cold. Above the cave are the vestiges of a fort, about 100 feet above the level of the sea, and on the land side the remains of the fosse and rampart are still visible. There is another cave, which appears as if it had been cut out of the face of the rock, the entry to which is about 40 feet above the sea. It is about 12 feet long, 10 broad and 8 high. The access to it is difficult and dangerous. (About a quarter of a mile westward from Auchmithy, there is a curious phenomenon called the gaylr, or gaylet-pot. It lies in an arable field, and is distant 100 yards from the front of the rocks that hang over the sea. The pot is of the shape of an inverted urn, 50 yards in diameter, but towards the west it loses a part of its circular form, and the ground ascends in a gentler slop than the other parts of the circle, for 54 yards, till it terminates in an angular point, at the place where it reaches the level of the adjacent field. The entry to it from the sea is 130 feet below the top of the rock, and the depth of the pot is 120 feet, below the level of the ground round the edges of it. The opening from the sea is grand and awful, being about 70 feet high and 40 broad. The water from the sea runs into the pot by a subterraneous passage, which gradually contracts till it enters the bottom of the pot, where it does not exceed 10 or 12 feet in breadth and height. When the sea is rough, the wind easterly, and high water, the boisterous element bursts in at the mouth of the pot, with amazing impetuosity, and roars, and boils, and froths, till the waves of the sea fall back, and allow it to retreat, which it does with great violence, and a loud noise, which, on account of the depth of the cavity, is not heard at any great distance.
About half way between this place and Auchmithy, there is a large excavation in the rocks, in the form of a semicircle, and about 160 feet wide in the front towards the sea. It has a large pillar of rock in the middle of the entrance, almost in a line with the rocks on each side. The extent is so large, that a fishing boat with four oars can sail round the pillar, without being in danger of striking on the rock. There was a chapel dedicated to St. Ninians, situated about 2 miles from the church on the sea-side, near the place where the, coast begins to rise, between Arbroath and Auchmithy. No vestige of the chapel now appears, but a part of the burying ground remains, through the middle of which a road has been lately cut, and the ends of several coffins of stone are visible. St. Ninians well, near the church-yard, was in former times of great repute for the cure of several diseases, but now totally neglected. One of the annual fairs of Arbroath was dedicated to this saint; it should be held on the first Wednesday after Trinity Sunday, but it is some time ago fixed the third Wednesday of June.)
Miscellaneous Observations.—Upon the side of the small river Brothock, and near the church, a brewery was erected in 1787, and in the same place a distillery in 1790, both belonging to one person. The still is 40 gallons, and pays 40l. a-year to the Excise. The distillery consumed 500 bolls of barley in 1792, when there were 2 (40 gallon) stills; and the brewery, about 870 bolls the same year. The brewery pays between 3001. and 4001. a-year of excise duty.—There is nothing uncommon or remarkable in the stature, form, or appearance, or inhabitants of the parish. They are generally from 5 feet 6 inches, to 5 feet 9 inches high; their shape and size seem to indicate health and strength, and in fact, they possess a considerable share of both. There are few 6 feet high. Several young persons betake themselves to a seafaring life, and a few to the army. There are some people in the parish from 79 to 84 years of age, and 2 gentlemen died some years ago, each in his 86th year. One Alexander Burns died some time since in the 96th year of his age. On almost all the large farms in the parish, both young men and married cottagers are employed as servants. The farmers generally dress in a plain manner; the common colour of their clothes is blue; and many of them still wear the Scotch broad bonnet. The dress of a number of the men servants is a little showy, and rather superior to that of the females of the same rank. Many of the farmers are now accommodated with good houses, built of stone, and slated, and generally of the size of ordinary manses. (Their mode of living is considerably altered since the year 1754, and yet few of them live up to what they could afford. Their attention to their business, and their finances, prevents them from going to any excess in their family expenses. In 1754, there were not 3 farmers in the parish who had half a dozen knives and forks in their houses, now these implements abound in almost all their houses. Few of them at that time drank tea, it is now common among people of inferior station. There were not then 6 watches among the farmers; now many of the men servants have them, and there are above 100 watches and about 80 clocks in the parish. In 1754, it was common for the farmer and his wise to eat at the same table with the servants; now they eat in a separate room.)
In the W. side of the parish, the farmers sow earlier than those in the E-, yet the corns are generally earlier cut down in the E. than in the W. side The oldest records belonging to the church-session, commence in 1665, when Mr. Strachan was ordained minister here, by a mandate from the Archbishop of St. Andrew's, and they are continued down to the year 1694. From that date, to the year 1727, there are no records extant. Since that time they have been regularly kept.—There are several quarries in the parish of a reddish coarse granite, but scarcely any stones found in the fields that can be used in building. In consequence of an act of parliament 1789, 2 turnpike roads are making here, and toll-bars have been erected about 3 years ago. The one from Arbroath to Forfar, passes through a part of the parish on the W. side, for about 4 miles. The other from Arbroath to Montrose, on the E. side, for 3 miles. The act also enjoins a commutation of the statute-labour at the rate of 24s. Sterling for each 1001. Scots of valued rent in the county, and the sum arising from the above assessment, is appointed to be laid out on private roads within each respective parish. The sum collected out of this parish for the above purpose, amounts to between 90l. and 100l. Sterling.—The writer of this has been told, that in the year 1750, there were but 2 box carts, or, what is here called coup-carts, in the parish, but at present there is no other kind made use of here—The only eminent man that has appeared in this parish, during this and a part of the last century, was Sir James Wood of Bonnington, Colonel of the Scotch Fusileers, in the reign of Queen Anne. He served in Flanders under the Duke of Marlborough, and acquired considerable reputation in his profession. Letham, once his seat, is half a mile distant from the church.
Advantages, &c.—The advantages which the people of this parish enjoy, are many; and the disadvantages few or none, but such as are in their own power to remedy. A healthy climate, and, in general, a fruitful soil; no epidemical distempers prevalent among them. Coals from Arbroath, the common fuel, 70 stones Dutch weight, at 6s. and 6s. 6d.; but last winter at 8s. 6d., when they were scarcer and dearer than ever known. Every person who chooses to work, finds immediate encouragement, good wages, and ready payment for his labour. Every person who has any of the necessaries of life to dispose of, finds a ready market- The farmers enjoy, in moderation, many of the conveniencies of life, and their married servants, when they behave honestly and discreetly, find protection and support from their masters. Many of the tradesmen, particularly the weavers, are in comfortable circumstances; they appear to know their interest, and to attend to it carefully. And people of all ranks seem to aim at what is useful and substantial, rather than what is showy or superfluous. Was the writer of this to express what he believes to be the general sense of the people in this parish, with respect to their situation and circumstances as members of society, it might be comprehended in the following words: "May the blessings of providence we at present enjoy, be continued to us; may the present British constitution remain unshaken, and may agriculture, manufactures, and trade flourish. What remains to complete our temporal prosperity, depends on our own activity, diligence, and industry, We want no more, we wish no less."