Statistical Accounts of Kirriemuir
The Old or First Statistical Account of the parish of Kirriemuir is dated 1794 whilst the New Account is dated 1833. However, since my great grandparents and their ancestors did not live there at the time of the First Account (although, as the only market town, they would surely have visited it) then I have included only the New Account.
PARISH OF KIRRIEMUIR.
PRESBYTERY OF FORFAR, SYNOD OF ANGUS AND MEARNS.
THE REV. THOMAS EASTON, D. D. MINISTER.
I.—TOPOGRAPHY AND NATURAL HISTORY.
Name, Boundaries, &c.—Kirriemuir lies at the north side of the extensive and fertile valley of Strathmore, in the county of Angus, and is about eighteen miles from Dundee, twenty from Arbroath, and as many from Montrose. The name is by some supposed to be compounded of two words, Corrie-mor, the large hollow or den; by others, it is said to be a Celtic word, which means the "large quarter or district." The position of the town, on the side of a ravine or den, which extends nearly a mile in length, and is upwards of 100 feet in depth, supports the former derivation; while the latter may be supposed to have reference to the great extent of country which the parish embraces.
The parish is divided into two considerable districts, which are separated from each other by part of the parish of Kingoldrum: the one, the northern, usually called Glenprosen, is chiefly pastoral,—the other, the southern, is agricultural and manufacturing. The southern division is nearly square in its form, being, according to Mr Blackadder, about five miles in each direction; and contains about 16,000 imperial acres. The northern division is about nine miles in length, and varies, according to the same authority, from two to four miles in breadth. It contains about 18,000 imperial acres.
The southern division of the parish is bounded on the west by Airly and Kingoldrum; on the north by Kingoldrum; on the east by Cortachy, Tannadice and Oathlaw; and on the south by Forfar and Glammis. The northern division is bounded on the west by Lintrathen and Glenisla; on the south by Kingoldrum; on the east by Cortachy; and on the north by Clova.
Topographical Appearances.—Nothing can be more dissimilar than the two districts into which the parish has been divided; while the southern division is chiefly level, the northern division is nearly all mountainous.
In viewing the southern division of the parish from the hill of Kirriemuir, from which it is nearly all visible, we find that for about a mile to the north of the parishes of Forfar and Glammis it is nearly level; and that then it rises gently, forming almost one continued sloping bank, till within a few hundred yards of the town, which stands nearly in the centre, and is separated from this bank by a deep hollow or " den," to which we have already alluded. To the east and west of the town the parish is nearly flat; to the north it is almost level, till we reach the braes of Inverquharity, the summits of which are covered with thriving plantations, which contribute greatly to their beauty.
The northern division of the parish may be described as consisting of a large glen along the Prosen, flanked by lofty mountains which rise on either side, but which are intersected by numerous small glens and openings.
The most remarkable mountain in the parish is Catlaw, part of which is in the parish of Kirriemuir, and part in the parish of Kingoldrum. This mountain forms the foremost of the Grampian ridge, which extends in an uninterrupted chain from the German Ocean to the Atlantic, and is by some supposed to be the Mons Grampius of Tacitus. It is 2264 feet above the level of the sea. The braes of Inverquharity, and the hill of Kirriemuir, the only eminences of any consequence in the southern division of the parish, are under cultivation up to their summit; but the mountains of Glenprosen are in general covered with heath, interspersed with patches of grass, produced or cherished by the many rills of water which run down their sides.
Meteorology—Climate.—The climate of the parish varies considerably,—the lower part being milder and more temperate than the higher, except in the middle of summer, when, owing to the reflexion of the sun's rays from the hills, the latter is perhaps warmer than the former. About the boundaries of the parishes of Forfar and Glammis, the air is milder than near the town, and to the northward of it. Upon the whole, the climate of the southern division of the parish may be described (especially since the ground has been so much drained,) as more dry than moist, more clear than foggy, and more salubrious than otherwise; and the sun is often to be seen shining on Kirriemuir while the low parishes in the Strath are enveloped in mist. Many persons of both sexes arrive at the age of three-score and ten and even fourscore years. In the district of Glenprosen, the population of which amounts to 295, there are ten persons above eighty years of age; and some time ago I noticed four persons conversing together on the street whose united ages amounted to 333. In 1833 the deaths amounted to 1 in 62—of which 34 averaged 73, and 13, 80. There is an instance of a married couple who have lived together 64 years. One of their daughters has had twenty children.
The heaviest rains come from the east and south-east I believe that as much rain falls in Kirriemuir as in most of the parishes on the west coast of Scotland; but we have more of it at a time than they have who get more or less of it every day. I understand that the smallest quantity of rain falls in some of the western isles, the inhabitants of which seldom see the sun, from its being enveloped in a continual fog. The weather with us has been observed for many years to continue steadily of the same kind for certain periods of time.
Geology.—The greater part of the southern division of the parish consists partly of the old red sandstone formation, and partly of red schistose sandstone, with occasional rocks of the trap family. At Shielhill a vein of trap cuts the strata in an easterly direction; and at the bridge of Prosen a bed of conglomerate forms the first line of eminences along the north side of the valley of Strathmore. Under the conglomerate is a stratum of gray roofing-slate, containing some vegetable impressions, as in the corresponding beds of the Sidlaw Hills. But the most interesting feature in the geology of the district is a dike of serpentine on the farm of Balloch, described by Mr Lyell in the third volume of the Edinburgh Journal of Science. The direction of the dike is about east and west; it is nearly vertical, but with a slight inclination to the north; and is considered by Mr Lyell as interesting in showing the geological connection between greenstone and serpentine, and the manner in which stratified rocks are affected by their contiguity to dikes of serpentine. In Glenprosen the primitive formation appears to consist of mica-schist, hornblende slate, and gneiss, containing rock-crystal and garnets. Limestone is quarried, and burnt with peat in small rude kilns.
Soil.—In the southern division of the parish, the soil may in general be classed under two distinct heads,—a margin of sand and gravel, but chiefly of the latter, contiguous to the water on the north, and varying from half a mile to one mile in breadth, —stretching from the Prosen, across the valley of the Carity, to some distance on its south side, and contracting into very narrow limits, when it approaches the South Esk, and still continuing along the banks of the latter to the east side of the parish. This species of soil is not confined to the flat haughs on the sides of the waters, which are of no great extent, but stretches over most of the elevated grounds within the above limits; and in the lowest portion of the parish, on the south-west, there is an extensive flat tract, about two miles long and one mile broad, of a similar description. The whole of the remainder, forming the centre of this division of the parish, is incumbent on a thick bed of clay, intermixed with stones, provincially termed mortar. Upon many of the heights this deposit is of little depth, but it is rarely altogether awanting, and in few cases does the subjacent rock reach to the soil. This deposit consists of a heterogeneous mixture of clay, sand, and stones of all sizes, from those of many tons weight down to the smallest pebble; and is in its nature impervious to water. The soil on it is therefore more or less damp, unless when possessed of considerable depth, which is frequently the case on the face of sloping grounds, on moderate elevations, or in flats and hollows, where there is an alluvial deposit. In such situations, the richest soil of the parish is found, consisting of black and brown loams of excellent quality, but comparatively of little extent.
In the low gravelly tracts the soil is all dry, but generally thinner than the mortar, unless where there happens to be an alluvial deposit on the flats and hollows, which are in such cases of very rich soil. The tracts on the northern side contain the greatest proportion of good soil, that on the south being chiefly very bare gravel, having a thin black moorish soil on it, equally barren with the coldest and worst soils on the mortar. There is not a pebble to be seen which cannot readily be referred to the parent rock. Within the limits of the mortars there are numerous specks of sandy and gravelly soils, but none of such an extent as to deserve notice in such a general view as this; and, strictly speaking, there is no strong clay soil, for all the mortar soils are in general more of a sandy than clayey nature, when compared with clays in other quarters of the county, and those of other districts of Scotland. In many of the hollows over all this portion of the parish, there are deposits of moss, some of which have been completely, and others partially, drained. In the former case, a considerable extent of them has been improved and cultivated, and forms a very productive soil. On the whole, this division of the parish may be stated to be, in respect of soil, fully equal to any of those contiguous.
With respect to the northern division of the parish, the cultivated ground is confined to the bottom of the glen, and in some cases to partial spots, stretching up the sides of the rising grounds. The greatest part of this soil is of a gravelly nature, exactly similar both in kind and in fertility to that which we have already described on the north side of the lower division. Farther up, on the sides of the mountains, the soil is at first composed of the decayed subjacent rocks, intermixed with vegetable matter, forming a very good soil; but in general the ground is both too steep, and of too great elevation, to be cultivated. A very large extent on the sides, the summits, and the hollows of the mountains, is deeply covered with moss. When there is a due mixture of earthy soil, and no excess of surface water, the mountain pasturage is finely intermixed with tender grass and heath, forming valuable sheep-walks; but, when the soil is damp or mossy, the herbage is of a coarser description. This division of the parish is, in the particulars now referred to, on a par with any of the contiguous mountain districts, and even superior to some of them.
Gravel Pits.—From the description which I have given of the soil of the parish, it may be seen that there are in it many gravel pits, the pebbles imbedded in which partake of the nature of Grampian rock, or the subjacent rocks; and the trap does not appear to be a stratified deposit, but a heterogeneous and disordered accumulation. It has been remarked, that the particles of the sand at the Loch of Kinnordy and at Roundy Hill, are globular, whereas those of the sand at Auchlishie are angular; on which account this sand, when mixed with lime, is in high repute as a cement.
Peat-Moss.—There are many peat-mosses in the parish. The moss of Kinnordy has been wrought of late in a systematic manner. Previous to 1810, the inhabitants of Kirriemuir were allowed to dig peats in this moss for themselves; but they conducted their operations in a manner so irregular, that the whole surface had become covered with deep pits, and the belief had become general, that the moss was exhausted. At this time, at a considerable expense, the person who superintended the work drained the moss according to a plan given by the eminent Mr Johnston,—levelling eminences, and filling up excavations; and, in the course of three years, he found that the whole moss had subsided about three feet, and, in consequence, had become more compact and dry. Having divided the moss into fields, he began at the lower end by trenching the ground; the peats he laid aside for sale; but that part of the moss which was of no value he levelled,—covering the whole with a tramp of clay taken from the bottom, so that the whole of what has been treated in this way presents a regular surface. For the last seventeen years, the value of peats sold has amounted annually to a sum from L. 100 to L.150 Sterling; and the ground from which the peats are dug, amounting now to twenty or thirty acres, formerly of no use, has already produced good crops of grass and corn. Such moss lands should be allowed to lie long in grass; and, before being broken up, they should be pared and burned,—a small quantity of lime, if possible, being added.
The moss of the Balloch is of considerable extent. It is in some places twenty-two feet in depth. The average depth is sixteen feet. The first layer, consisting of unconsolidated moss, is five feet. There is then an average layer of eleven feet of moss fit for peats; and at the bottom is a layer of white sandy clay. There is no marl.
Beds of Marl.—Shell-marl is well known to be the remains of myriads of small testaceous animals which commonly inhabit pools of water, and which have lived and died in this situation. There are two beds of marl of considerable extent in the parish; the one the Loch of Kinnordy, the other the meadows of Logie. In the upper bed of marl there was lately found the skeleton of a stag, Cervus elephas, of large dimensions. The horns had nine branches, and weighed when dry nearly eighteen pounds. The skeleton was in a vertical position, the tips of the horns nearly reaching to the surface of the marl, and the feet nearly two yards below. The marl was immediately covered by peat, in which also the skeletons of stags are occasionally discovered.
The meadows of Logie were drained under the able direction of Mr Abercrombie. The water which falls into the loch is conveyed through the contiguous property by an arched under-ground tunnel; while an embankment around the north side keeps off the land floods, and collects a sufficient quantity of water to serve the purpose of a mill-pond. An immense drain is led from the tunnel up through the centre of the loch, and exposes the marl to its bottom on each side. The whole bed consists, first, of a layer of moss, mixed with alluvial earth; then a layer of marl; and at the bottom, a layer of clay. The bed is wrought in a systematic manner; first, the moss is removed, and thrown into a bed prepared for it; then the marl is taken away; and then a layer of clay is thrown upon the moss, which is thus converted into land of great fertility. The marl occupies about 100 acres, and varies from four to six feet in depth. From this bed of marl, horns of deer and of other animals are occasionally dug: In particular, there was dug up one pair of antlers with seven branches, which is preserved in the house of Logie.
In the meadows of Logie the shells are abundant. When taken up they are frequently entire; but, after a short exposure to the atmosphere, they crumble into a fine white powder, which effervesces with acids. This is not always, however, the case; for I have a quantity of shells which were collected in this locality, and, although they have been for some time in my possession, they still retain their form.
Prevalent Distempers.—The parish may be said to be in general healthy. Asthmatical complaints, so common in some districts, are scarcely known here; the diseases to which the people are most liable are inflammatory complaints, which, about twenty years ago, were often fatal, but which now, from the improved mode of treatment, and the free use of the lancet, in general end favourably. These complaints do not arise, so far as we can discern, from any local cause. Scrofulous affections were once common, but the symptoms have been mitigated by the improvement which has taken place in the food of the people, their clothes, and their houses. In this last respect there is still abundance of room for improvement, especially in the town. Of the diseases once common in this parish and neighbourhood, which have in a great measure disappeared, by far the most remarkable is what is provincially called the leaping ague. The curious reader will find an interesting account of this extraordinary disease in the third volume of the Edinburgh Medical Journal, and in Dr Jamieson's Statistical Account of Tannadice. It may be said to consist in a morbid when the fit of running or leaping comes on, nothing was found tending to abate the violence of the disease, so much as allowing the patient to exercise himself till nature was exhausted. There is only one person in the parish who is known to me as at present now liable to be afflicted with this singular disease.
Hydrography—Rivers.—The only streams in the parish are the South Esk, the Prosen, the Carity, and the Garie. The South Esk takes its rise round the mountains of Clova; and after receiving many tributary streams in its progress, falls into the sea at Montrose. The Prosen has its source in the north-west extremity of the northern division of the parish, and runs through the whole of Glenprosen. It is fed by the rivulets of Lednathy, Glenoig, Glenlogy, and many others, and falls into the South Esk, near Inverquharity. The Carity rises at Balintore, in the parish of Lintrathen, and is lost in the South Esk, near Inverquharity. The Garie has its source in the Loch of Kinnordy, and falls into the Dean a little to the eastward of Glammis Castle. Before the loch was drained the Garie was a considerable stream; but it is now so small that often in summer it is scarcely sufficient to turn a mill.
Loch of Kinnordy.—The only lake or loch of considerable extent in the parish is the Loch of Kinnordy. It was drained in 1740 and 1741 by Sir John Ogilvy, for the sake of the marl. It is about a mile in length, and half a mile in breadth, and abounded, as the Rev. George Ogilvy assures us, in pike, perch, and the large silver-coloured eel. This lake being but imperfectly drained at first, Mr Jobson, when proprietor of the lands of Balfour in Kingoldrum, undertook to drain it completely; but after he had expended a great deal of money in the attempt, he desisted. In its present state it is both unsightly and unhealthy; and it certainly should either be drained effectually, or restored to its pristine condition, by allowing the water once more to cover it. This last alternative could easily be accomplished; and it is a matter for consideration whether the value of the water, as a reservoir for the mills on the Garie, might not compensate for the loss of the marl, the demand for which has become of late very limited.
Zoology.—From the extent of the parish, and from the great variety of soil and climate which it embraces, it possesses perhaps as many varieties in zoology as most others in the kingdom. No person is better acquainted with this branch of natural history than John Kinloch, Esq. of Kilry, who has kindly communicated to me a list of birds and quadrupeds, most of which have been seen by himself. It ought to be mentioned, that a collection of wild animals and birds of the rarer sort was made by the late Mr John Bell, in conjunction with Mr Kinloch, which was-presented to the University of St Andrews. I content myself with mentioning a few of the most remarkable birds. The golden eagle (Falco Chrysaetos)—builds in Clova, but is often seen in Glenprosen. The hen-harrier or blue hawk (F. cyaneus); the female is called ring-tail (F .pygargus), and is often mistaken for a different species. The merlin (F. Aesalon), the least of the genus Falco, and very rare. The horned or long-eared owl often seen in the forest muir, and at Balnaboth; the other species are common. Lanius excubitor, the great butcher-bird; this bird is rare. The raven (Corvus comix); the carrion crow (C. corone); the hooded crow (C. corax); and the rook (C. frugilegus); all common: the crows from the rookeries in the neighbourhood, from Cortachy, from Inverquharity, from Dunnichen, from Glammis, and from the Bakie, have been long observed to assemble every day during the month of February within a mile of the town of Kirriemuir. The jackdaw (C. monedula); the magpie (C. pica); and the jay (C. glandarius): this last species seen in the forest moor. The starling (Sturnus vulgaris); this species used formerly to build at Logie, but has not been seen for several years: I caught one on the hill of Kirriemuir. The missel-thrush (Turdus viscivorus) breeds at Logie; the field-fare (T. pilaris); the redwing (T. iliacus); both migratory, but visiting us every winter, frequenting those places where wild berries are most abundant. The ring or rock-ouzel, (T. torquatus), though it breeds among the cairns of the Grampians, is sometimes to be seen in the gardens of the low country in autumn. The snow-bunting (Emberiza nivalis) makes its appearance in severe winters, lighting always on the ground, and never on trees. The goldfinch (Fringilla carduelis) breeds in the gardens of Kinnordy and Logie. The mountain-finch (F. montifringilla); this beautiful little bird visits Logie in severe winters to feed on beech-mast, its favourite food. The wood-lark (Alauda arborea) very rare. The long-tailed titmouse (Parus caudatus); Mr Kinloch has seen this species at Logie, and in the forest moor, but it is not common. The sedge bird (Motacilla phragmitis) frequenting flags and reeds and sedges, and often heard, but seldom seen. The wood-wren (M. sibilatrix) not generally known, and not very common. The golden-crested wren (M. regulus), the least of all European birds; Mr Kinloch says it is tolerably plentiful in the forest moor and Logie, and is generally to be seen on the largest trees. The land-rail or corncrake (Rallus crex). The water-rail (R. aquaticus) is sometimes to be seen in the marshes on the estates of Kinnordy and Logie. The spotted rail (R. porzana) is very rarely seen. The king-fisher (Alcedo ispida); Mr Kinloch has seen several at Logie, generally in winter; but has never heard of their breeding there. The bittern (Ardea stellaris); Mr Kinloch has heard of their frequenting the marshes of Strathmore before they were drained; but they have not been seen for many years.
The woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) is common. The goodwit (Limosa melanura), and the red-shank or pool-snipe (Totanus calidris), have both been shot at Logie and Kinnordy. The waterhen (Fulica chloropus) is to be found in all the marshes and ditches with reeds in them; Mr Kinloch has seen the coot (F. atra) in a marsh to the eastward of Logie. The wild swan (Anas cygnus ferus); the wild goose (A. anser ferus); and the white fronted goose (A. albifrons), all visit us in the course of their migrations. The teal (A. crecca) and the wild duck (A. boschas), are common in the Loch of Kinnordy. The spotted flycatcher (Muscipula grisola) breeds at Logie, and is not generally known. I need scarcely mention, that the different kinds of swallows, the chimney-swallow, the window-swallow, the sand-martin, and the swift, are common.
The goatsucker (Caprimulgus Europaeus) has been shot at Logie and Kinnordy. The pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) is occasionally to be seen. Black-cock (Tetrao tetrix) is common in Glenprosen and in the forest moor. The ptarmigan (T. lagopus) is common in Glenprosen. The red-grouse or muirfowl (T. Scoticus) is nowhere more abundant than in Glenprosen. The quail (Perdix coturnix) is an occasional visitant to the corn-fields in Strathmore, and was killed at Logie in the winter of 1828.
Quadrupeds.—The red deer or stag (Cervus elephas) may be first mentioned. This species, though not so frequently as formerly, is still occasionally to be seen in Glenprosen. I have often seen the roebuck (C. capreolus) in the forest moor and in the woods of Lindertis. The wild-cat (Felis catus) is often seen in the woods of Balnaboth. The weazel (Mustela vulgaris) is often met with; but the stoat or ermine (M. erminea) is not so common. The stoat becomes white in winter, and is to be distinguished from the weazel by its tail being always black at the end; it is also larger. The polecat (M. putorius) is common. The martin has been found in the woods of Balnaboth; the other frequents the banks of the Esk, and of the burn of Ballandarg. The badger is common; one was killed some years ago in the poultry-house at Logie. There are two varieties of the fox, the large black-legged greyhound fox, or hill fox, and the cur fox, or low country fox, which is smaller. The hare is common. The white or Alpine hare (Lepus variablis) is often to be seen in Glenprosen; it becomes white in winter, except the tips of the ears, which remain black. I have been told by a mole-catcher that he once found a white mole near Newtyle. The large-eared bat (Vespertilio auritus,) and the short-eared bat (V. murinus), are equally common about old buildings; of the latter species I counted thirty-six, which came out one after another from a crevice in the wall of the manse.
Mr John Fergusson has sometimes seen the viper or adder (Coluber berus) in the hill of Glenoig. My late friend, Mr John Bell, brought two nimble lizards (Lacerta agilis) from the mountains of Glenprosen, and on placing them on the carpet they showed that the name was well applied.
Pearls.—Mr George Donn says, that the pearl mussel (Mya margaritifera) is common in the South Esk; and Dr Jamieson assures us, that at one time there was a considerable fishery carried on to procure pearls. He mentions that some of them were so valuable that L.4 were given for them in the first market. One was got as large as the ball of a pocket pistol. The principal bank where they were found was between the house of Bankhead and the house of Inshewan. About two years ago, a quantity of pearls was sold to a jeweller in this town, found in the South Esk, six miles above Cortachy.
Insects.—There are several insects which have lately been observed, and which have proved injurious to vegetation and fruit trees. I shall mention a few of them as they occur.
Curculio pini. Though the ravages of this destructive insect have not been so great as in other places, they have been felt here. This little animal, as Mr Headrick observes, cuts holes into the tender vessels of the larch and birch, which allow much of the sap to escape. The extravasated sap dries in the air, forming small white flakes of turpentine, resembling hoar frost, on the tender branches.
C. pyri. This insect is very common on the fruit trees of the garden walls of Kinnordy, and does great damage. The gardener informs me, that in summer he is obliged to hunt them with candle light, as they do not make their appearance during the day.
The caterpillar.—The larvae of various species of butterfly commit great devastation on the leaves of gooseberry bushes, white and red currant bushes, and on cabbages. I have never seen them attack the black currant. The eggs are laid with great regularity on the under part of the leaf; and I know of no remedy so effectual as picking off the leaves as soon as the eggs are observed on them. Mr Donn remarks, that the larvae of Musca fumetarius and M. frit are sometimes injurious; the one to wheat, and the other to barley. What is provincially called the wire-worm is the larva of the Tipula oleracea, a long-legged large fly, common about meadows, and also sometimes the larvae of the T. crocata. This grub sometimes does much mischief to oats, after grass, particularly old grass. The Limax agrestis, or what is commonly called the grub, does much injury in some quarters in eating up the young wheat in spring, and also the oats in the month of May. Various plans have been tried for their destruction; but none have been effectual. The most common is to roll the ground at night with a heavy roller, which crushes them, and puts a stop to their work of destruction. Papilio napi is often destructive to the braird of turnips, and I am acquainted with no remedy.
But no insect has of late years been more destructive to the fruits of the earth than Tipula tritici, or the wheat-fly,—an account of which is to be found in the Transactions of the Linnean Society by the Rev. Mr Kirby, and in the 8th Number of the Quarterly Journal of Agriculture by Mr Archibald Gorrie. This last gentleman estimates the loss sustained by the farming interest in the carse and braes of Gowrie to exceed L.90,000 Sterling. Like others of the insect tribe, the wheat-fly in winter is in a state of larva; and about the beginning of June, having assumed the shape of flies, they begin to appear in those fields where wheat has been growing during the preceding year. When the wheat comes into ear, the flies are led to it; but if they arrive at a field of wheat before it is in ear, they conceal themselves among the foliage within a foot of the ground, and as soon as any of the ears have appeared with one side out of the sheath, the female flies ascend to the ears, and commence laying their eggs. In the years 1827, 1828, and 1829, in shedding aside the wheat at the flowering season, the flies were to be seen in myriads. In stormy and windy weather, they are so slender that they are not able to rise and sit upon the ear to lay their eggs; but in calm weather, at this critical season, they accomplish this with ease. The effect is the almost total ruin of the crop; for, from the moment the eggs are thus laid, vegetation ceases, the anthers do not expand, and the filaments that support them are glued to the chaff. The stigma continues to appear fresh, and the anthers retain their fresh colour till within nine days from the eggs being laid; when the caterpillars appear fully formed, and of a white colour, which ultimately turns to a bright sulphur; they thus devour the embryo grain. The flies do not live more than three days after they have laid their eggs. I know of no effectual remedy to arrest the progress of this destructive insect. It is in vain to expect that it can be extirpated by exposure to frost. Mr Gorrie is of opinion, however, that, having succeeded in burying other caterpillars of large growth, the wheat-fly maggot might be also kept under. This, says he, could be easily performed, if, in ploughing the wheat stubbles, a scarifier or skimmer were fixed on the beam before the coulter, of such construction as would cut and lay about an inch of the surface in the bottom of the furrow. If this were done correctly, and the subsequent ploughing kept so shallow as not to touch the buried surface, it is not likely that the maggots could seek their way up through the superincumbent soil. It is plain that, in this case, grass seeds are not to be sown with the wheat; but some other crop must in the meantime be substituted. If this plan do not succeed, farmers for a few years ought to abandon the raising of wheat, and turn their attention to some other crop not liable to be injured. (In the original MS. preserved among the Archives of the Church, there is added a list of a small number of new or rare insects, which have been taken at Kinnordy, or in some part of the parish of Kirremuir within the last four years. They have been attentively examined by Mr Curtis, and some of them are described in his British Entomology. There is also an elaborate article on the botany of the parish.)
Botany—Forests and Plantations.—The forest of Plater or Platane lies in the eastern part of the parish; and the tradition is, that, from the hill of Kirremuir to the hill of Finhaven, the wood at one time was so thick that the wild cat could leap from one tree to another between the two places. This wood consisted of oak, birch, and other trees, which no doubt had witnessed the rites of the Druids; and Mr George Ogilvy remarks, that, in his time, the roots of them were dug up in the moor by people casting peat and turf. This wood belonged of old to the Earls of Crawford, who set a forester over it. It afterwards belonged to the Earl of Strathmore, one of whose titles was Heritable Forester of the Forest of Plater. It now belongs to Charles Lyell, Esq. of Kinnordy. One of the maxims of war, which was bequeathed by King Robert Bruce as a legacy to his countrymen, was "Let wood for walls be." There is a tradition, accordingly, (and it is countenanced by Fordoun,) that Sir Andrew Moray, the friend of Wallace, and the Regent of Scotland, on a memorable occasion, having been pressed by the English, had recourse to the forest of Plater, where he concealed himself for the winter, and from which he issued and marched straight to Panmure, when a bloody battle was fought, and when a distinguished victory was obtained,—4000 men, among whom was Lord Henry Mountfort, having been left dead on the spot. (On the question of what has become of the oaks of the forest of Plater, the writer begs to refer to the Notes to Mr Tytler's History of Scotland, where they will find the subject discussed in a satisfactory manner.)
The natural timber in the parish is now very limited in quantity, being confined chiefly to birch, alder, hazel, black-thorn, and willows, on the sides of the waters at the northern extremity of the parish, and in Glenprosen. On dry ground, though bare, there is no tree that thrives better than the larch; but for wet land the Scotch fir is to be preferred. The best situations for the growth of most kinds of trees are found by experience to be the steep banks of dens, and the sloping sides of hills. It has been remarked, that oak thrives better than any other kind of hard-wood in inferior soils. In low moors, where the soil is thin, and the subsoil retentive, trees seldom come to any considerable size; but when the subsoil is porous the case is otherwise. Mr Chalmers, who has had great experience as a forester, having planted nearly 1000 acres on the estate of Kinnordy, is an advocate for thin planting,—a practice which he justifies by many arguments. There are around Inverquharity Castle a few old chestnut trees, not so remarkable for their size as for their age. There are here also many very fine ash-trees, some of which are supposed to contain upwards of 100 cubic feet of wood of the best quality. I measured an ash-tree, which is upwards of 13 feet in circumference, and an elm, which is nearly 12 feet. But the largest trees in the parish are to be found around the mansion-house of Logie. The periphery of the great ash-tree is nearly 21 feet. There are several others of considerable size. There are also a great many fine beeches, many of which are from 12 to 14 feet in circumference. At Kinnordy there is a considerable variety of all the different ornamental kinds of wood. At Balnaboth the plantations are chiefly of Scotch fir, with a few larch; both are of excellent quality, particularly the former. The late Earl Walter, who planted them, very properly took the precaution of sending to the Mar forests for his plants.
Accounts of the Parish.—There is an account of this parish extant in manuscript, drawn up in 1748 by the late Rev. George Ogilvy. It embraces the history of Christianity, from its first introduction into Scotland; but it has an especial reference to the ecclesiastical state of Kirriemuir, of which he was long the respectable minister. This history has been transcribed into the book which is kept for the registration of baptisms, and is of considerable value. As the validity of any but Episcopal ordination was keenly contested at the time when Mr Ogilvy lived, the principal object which he seems to have had in view was to prove, by a reference to acknowledged facts, that our first Protestant ministers had no other but Presbyterian ordination.
In 1825, the present incumbent published "Statements relative to the Pauperism of Kirriemuir." (For an account of the many interesting localities of the parish, sec the original MS.)
Historical Events.—Tradition furnishes us with few particulars respecting the early history of Kirriemuir. There can be no doubt that the inhabitants of this and of the neighbouring parishes zealously attached to the Ogilvies, shared in their fortunes, shedding their blood as often as it was required in their service. When Donald, the Lord of the Isles, who ranked himself among the allies of England, and made war and peace as an independent prince, advanced in 1411 to prosecute his claims to the earldom of Ross, he was opposed by Lord Ogilvy, the sheriff of Angus, who brought up his own martial clan, some of whom were no doubt inhabitants of Kirriemuir, and at Harlaw, along with the powerful Earl of Mar and others, gained the victory which decided, as Sir Walter Scott observes, the superiority of the more civilized regions of Scotland over those inhabited by the Celtic tribes.
In the famous battle between the Ogilvys and Lindsays, which was fought in 1447, no fewer than 500 Ogilvys fell, which must have been a severe stroke to Kirriemuir.
The Catherines.—At no very remote period it was not accounted dishonourable for polite clans to commit depredations on each other. It was usual for the Highlanders beyond the Grampians to put themselves under the command of some warlike chieftain, to form themselves into bands of Catherines, as they were called, and to levy from all the farmers in their neighbourhood a contribution, under the name of black-mail, to secure their forbearance or protection. The fine country of Strathmore could not escape their depredations, and many a tale is told of their incursions. We are informed, that, even so early as 1392, three chiefs of the name of Donnechy, instigated or commanded by Duncan Stewart, a natural son of the turbulent Earl of Buchan, came down to ravage this district; and that a bloody battle took place in the Stormonth, in which Sir John Ogilvy, of this parish, was slain, with many of his followers.
Feud between Forfar and Kirriemuir.—At one time feuds were not uncommon between rival towns, as well as between rival families. The feud between Perth and Dundee is alluded to by Dr Small in his Statistical Account of the latter of these towns. There was one equally bitter, though not equally important, between the royal burgh of Forfar and the baronial burgh of Kirriemuir. The origin of this feud was trifling,—a dispute respecting a piece of ground, called the Muir Moss, which was claimed by both parishes, but which was of little value to either. The contest was exceedingly violent. There is a humorous story connected with this feud, which is found recorded in the brief biographical notice of Drummond the poet, the friend of Johnson and Shakspeare, prefixed to the folio edition of his works. (In the year 1645, when the plague was raging in Scotland, this eminent person came accidentally to Forfar, but was not allowed to enter any house, or to get lodging in the town; which forced him, though it was very late, to direct his course to Kirriemuir, where he was well received and kindly entertained. Being informed of the feud which subsisted between the two towns respecting the Muir moss, he wrote a letter to the Provost of Forfar, to be communicated to the town-council in haste. It was imagined that this letter came from the Estates, then sitting at St Andrews. The common council was summoned with all expedition, and the minister was sent for to assist them with his advice, and the letter was opened in a solemn manner. It contained the following lines:
The Kirriemorians and Forfarians met at Muir moss,
The Kirriemorians beat the Forfarians back to the Cross;
Sutors ye are, and sutors ye’ll be,
Fye upon Forfar, Kirriemuir bears the gree.
Some anecdotes connected with the Rebellion of 1715 and 1745, also with the comic event, called the "Battle of Cloister bank," in 1782, will be found in the original MS.)
Eminent Persons—Family of Ogilvy of Airly.—The noble family of Airly is descended from Gilbert, a near relation of Gilchrist, Earl of Angus, a gentleman of high distinction in the reign of William the Lion, who succeeded to the crown of Scotland in 1165. He obtained from that prince a charter to the lands of Powrie, Ogilvy, and Lintrathen; and he took the name, Ogilvy, from his barony, as was customary in these days. Sir James Ogilvy was so highly esteemed by King James IV and his court, that he was created a peer by the title of Lord Ogilvy of Airly, and sat in his Parliament in 1491. The eighth Lord Ogilvy, from his great merit and eminent services done to King Charles I, and for the great loyalty and fidelity of his ancestors, was farther dignified with the title of Earl of Airly in 1639. David, the then Earl of Airly, had two sons, James and John; of whom James, the eldest son, Lord Ogilvy, having engaged in the rebellion of 1715, was attainted of high treason; but his estate was saved by being in his father's person, who was then alive. He was afterwards pardoned; but died without issue. He was succeeded by his brother John, the fourth Earl of Airly. His son, Lord Ogilvy, having engaged in the rebellion of 1745, was attainted of high treason, and escaped into France, where he had the command of a Scotch regiment called Ogilvy's Regiment. The title was for some time in abeyance; but was restored in 1826 to David, the present Earl, to the satisfaction of the whole county, and the enthusiastic joy of Kirriemuir and its neighbourhood.
This family has produced many individuals, no less eminent for their patriotism than for their loyalty to their sovereigns; of these none were so distinguished as the first Earl and his two gallant sons. It was against this noble family that the Marquis of Argyle had orders to proceed; and 5000 men were levied for that purpose. Airly, in possession of Lord Ogilvy, and Forthar, their two principal seats, were destroyed, and the tenantry ingloriously plundered of their corn and cattle. Though the Marquis was apparently only the instrument, he was the secret mover of this severe measure,—a feud between the family of Campbell and Ogilvy having subsisted for several centuries. It was in commemoration of this event that the popular song of the "Bonny House of Airlie" is said to have been written; Argyle himself, according to the tradition, having taken a hammer, and assisted in the demolition of the doorways and hewing of the stone-work till he was overcome with fatigue.
The Earl of Airly, now referred to, was eminent as a soldier, and distinguished himself in Montrose's campaigns, in particular at the battle of Kilsyth. Nimmo, in his History of Stirlingshire, informs us, that a body of 1000 Highlanders in Montrose's army, without orders, marched up the hill to attack the enemy. That consummate general sent a strong detachment, under the command of the Earl of Airly, to their assistance, whose arrival not only preserved this resolute corps from being overpowered by a superior force, with which they were going to engage, but turned the balance against their antagonists, who were obliged to retreat. This was the most complete victory which Montrose ever gained. The loss on his side was small,—only seven or eight persons having been slain, three of whom were named Ogilvy, being relations of the noble family of Airly.
Family of Ogilvy of Inverquharity.—This family, according to Douglas, traces its origin to the third son of the deceased Walter Ogilvy of Auchterhouse, by name Sir John, who received from his brother the lands and barony of Inverquharity in 1420. This family was ever held in the highest estimation,—its members holding the highest civil and military appointments. It is not always easy, however, to distinguish their exploits from those of the house of Airly, to which they were allied. Alexander, second son of Sir John, was a youth of extraordinary parts, according to Guthrie in his Memoirs of Montrose,—valiant above his age, and of a fervent and daring spirit. He joined that distinguished warrior; was taken prisoner in the battle of Philiphaugh; and, for his firm adherence to the Royal cause, was executed at Glasgow in the flower of his age, in 1646.
The song, " It was a' for our rightful King," is said to have been the production of Captain Ogilvy, son of Sir David Ogilvy of Inverquharity. He was along with King James at the battle of the Boyne, and afterwards fell in an engagement on the Rhine. It is said that he was one of the hundred gentlemen who volunteered to attend their royal master in his exile. The present representative of this ancient family is Sir John Ogilvy, an officer in the Guards.
Family of Kinloch.—This family is very ancient, and may be traced to the twelfth, if not the ninth century. There is a charter without date to Sir John de Kinloch, which was confirmed by King William. This family also has produced many individuals eminent for their literature, their patriotism, and their loyalty; in particular David, born in 1560, and educated a physician, who travelled much in foreign parts, and became eminent in his profession. He was some time confined in the Inquisition in Spain; but from this he was at last liberated, on performing an extraordinary cure upon the Inquisitor General, when given over by his physicians. He afterwards returned to this country, and having acquired considerable wealth by the most honourable means, he purchased lands, which were confirmed to him by a charter from James VI. in 1616. He was a gentleman of great genius and learning, and wrote several works on physic. Dr Small, in his Statistical Account of Dundee, mentions him as physician to James VI., and as author of some poems in the Latin language of great eloquence and beauty, and which are to be found in the collection of the Poetae Scotigeni. There is a portrait of this eminent person in the house of Logie, the residence of the family, The baronetcy of the family was forfeited in 1746. John Kinloch, Esq. of Kilry, an officer in the Guards, is the legal heir to this honour, as being the lineal descendant and representative of James Kinloch, progenitor of the Kinlochs of Kilry, who was second son of James Kinloch of Aberbrothy, and father of Sir David Kinloch, created a baronet by King James VII., but whose family in that line has become extinct.
Land-owners.—The chief of these, with their valued rents, as recorded in the valuation roll published by the Michaelmas Court of the county, 1822, are the following.
(For an account of the annual amount of contributions for the relief of the poor, from 1814 to 1824 inclusive, see statement relative to the pauperism of Kirriemuir, drawn up by the minister for the information of the heritors, and published in 1825.)
In 1830, the collections for the poor were as follows: Church collection, L.141, 5s. 11d.; mortcloth, L.22, 6s.; penalties, L.18, 12s. 6d.; donations, L.15, 5s. 3d.; legacies, L.13; returned, L.6, 10s.; proceeds of effects of paupers, L.5, 7s. 8½d.; interest on stock, L.2; in all, L.224, 7s. 3d. There is no other regular mode of procuring funds for the poor besides that of church collections. There has hitherto been a strong disposition among the poor in general to refrain from seeking parochial relief, but I regret to observe it is fast declining.
Prison.—There is a lock-up place of considerable strength, chiefly employed for confining vagrants till they are brought to justice.
Fairs.—There are two great annual fairs held on the hill of Kirriemuir, the one in July, and the other in October, for sheep, cattle, and horses; there are two smaller ones held at the same place, the one in June, and the other in December, for the same purpose.
Inns, &c.—There are in the parish 6 brewers, 1 maltman, 1 chandler, 1 tobacco-manufacturer, 52 dealers in tea, 48 in tobacco, 4 in vinegar, 31 in beer, 31 in spirits, and 7 in wine. The effects of the number of spirit-sellers on the morals of the people are obvious.
Fuel.—The fuel commonly used is coals from Dundee, peats from the mosses in the neighbourhood, and wood from Glammis, Lindertis, and Kinnordy.
This parish has so few advantages of situation, that all the luxuries, and many of the necessaries of life, are brought from the coast, a distance of twenty miles; and the nearest road is across a range of hills, in many places steep, and difficult of access. The want of water is at all times justly complained of, and in years of drought much inconvenience is experienced; but it is with no small degree of satisfaction that I have to remark, that all these disadvantages have been in great measure surmounted by my parishioners. By the skilful hand of culture, our "muirs" have become gardens, and the wilderness literally blossoms as the rose. The landholders have laid out their estates in farms of a convenient size, and thriving woods and plantations wave in all directions. Our morasses have been drained; and corn crops, of the most extraordinary luxuriance, now grow on lands which had lately been the habitation of the lapwing and other water-fowls. The water of the Garie is also carefully collected by us into dams; and it is wonderful how many corn and plash mills, on the most improved construction, are set in motion by it. Although the yarns must be carried from the shores in carts and along roads constructed on the common principles, (It gives me the greatest pleasure to say, that, since the above was written, there is now the greatest probability that the Newtile rail-road will ere long be extended to Kirriemuir, which cannot fail to be of the greatest advantage to the parish.) and although the cloth, when manufactured, must be carried back by the same rude conveyance, such is the ingenuity of our weavers, and such their industry, that we are not only able to compete with our rivals in the more favoured towns on the coast, but even to bear away from them the palm of victory. In proof of this, I have only to mention, that upwards of 50,000 pieces of linen, of various fabrics and qualities, are annually manufactured among us; and that several mill-spinners in Montrose and Dundee,—towns possessing many natural advantages to which we can lay no claim,—have been accustomed, for some time past, to send their yarns to be woven in this distant quarter,—a measure which they never would have had recourse to, did they not find it their interest to do so. Our streets are regularly cleaned and lighted, as in larger towns; and the landholders in the neighbourhood have only to countenance our undertakings, and the obstructions complained of by them and by us will be removed.
It may be remarked, in concluding, that there is an immense tract of country, with a numerous population, on the northern side of the Grampians, to which Kirriemuir is by many miles the nearest market; but the inhabitants have been hitherto prevented from availing themselves of it from the want of a road over the Capul Mount. I am happy that this want has seriously attracted the notice of the landholders on either side of the Grampians,—that the country has been surveyed,—and that a line of road has been chalked out by Mr Blackadder for the sanction of Parliament. I have no doubt that in time it will be carried into effect; and that, while it will be of incalculable advantages to the parishes of the north, it cannot fail of being of the greatest use to the trade of Kirriemuir.
Revised by the Writer December 1833.
Manufactures.—The only manufacture in the parish is that of brown linen, introduced into the country after the Rebellion in 1745. It is supposed that not fewer than 3000 individuals are engaged in it, and that the number of webs woven may be 52,000 per annum, containing 6,760,000 yards. This trade has increased threefold since the beginning of the century. From November 1798 to November 1799, there were stamped 1,814,874 yards, and from November 1799 to November 1800, 1,846,516 yards. There is no peculiarity in the mode of conducting this manufacture; the manufacturers being all practical tradesmen, are well qualified to judge of the work when executed; and the fabrics being few in number, the work is both well and expeditiously done. This manufacture, when flourishing, has certainly afforded a fair remuneration and support to those engaged in it, but for several years past. it has not done so to those who have pursued it on a small scale.
Market-Town.—The only market-town is Kirriemuir; from which the parish takes its name. It is a burgh of royalty of great antiquity, whose baron, the Lord Douglas, the representative of a family long the most powerful in Scotland, enjoys a fixed jurisdiction, both civil and criminal, which he may exercise by himself or his deputy. Before the abolition of hereditary jurisdiction in Scotland, his powers were exceedingly extensive, in virtue of which, "per fossam et furcam," that is, drowning in a ditch or pool, or by suspending on a gallows, he could punish all persons guilty of certain crimes, from the Law of Dundee to the Grampian mountains. If he imposed fines on criminals, he was allowed to appropriate them to himself. Mr Wood is said to have been the last deputy who exercised the power of life and death. For some goods stolen, he condemned and executed two individuals, Walker and Rob by name, and seized on their property; and it is generally said, that avarice influenced him as much as a sense of justice. The functionaries who succeeded Mr Wood seem to have conducted themselves with propriety,—the most of them keeping "brewseats;" and, as there is "more law in good ale than in any in Westminster-hall," the lieges were accustomed, under their auspices, to make up their disputes under a quaich of their favourite beverage. Since 1748, the bailie can judge in no civil actions where the debt or damage exceeds forty shillings Sterling; and in cases of assault, battery, and minor offences, he can impose a fine not exceeding twenty shillings Sterling, or set the delinquent in the stocks in the daytime, for not more than three hours. The fine is to be levied by poinding the delinquent's goods, and in default of these, by imprisonment for a period not exceeding one month. The restrictions lying upon the baron are now so heavy, that Mr Erskine says, they amount nearly to a prohibition of the criminal part of his jurisdiction.
The town of Kirriemuir stands in a healthy and pleasant situation, partly on a flat, and partly on an inclined plane, about 400 feet above the level of the sea. The form of the town may be fancied to resemble an anchor. The view from the lower part of it is bounded by the southern brow of the Den; from the higher part is seen nearly the whole extent of the magnificent valley of Strathmore. But the most extensive view in the parish is from the hill of Kirriemuir,—the summit of which is a place of considerable extent, terminated by a bold and precipitous front on the south, but descending in every other direction with a gentle inclination. Here the spectator has only to turn his eyes towards the east where the hills of the Mearns present themselves washed by the German ocean ; from the top of which hills blazed of old "the baleful fire," warning the inhabitants of the district of the approach of danger. In this direction, too, are seen the picturesque heights of Finhaven, which resemble vast undulations. When satisfied with this part of the prospect, the spectator may turn his eyes to the north, where a wilder scenery presents itself,—a sea of hills, around whose summits "the stormy mist gathers," reaching the confines of dark Lochnagar " with its steep frowning glories." From these hills the Prosen and the Esk, and other mountain-streams, come down with "thundering din." Towards the west, are the lofty mountains of Perthshire with "Birnam wood," and "high Dunsinnan hill," rich with classical associations, and hallowed by the footsteps of the bard of Avon. Towards the south, on either hand, as far as the eye can reach, the glorious valley of Strathmore presents itself, with its hundred towns, its churches, castles, villas, plantations, lakes, and streams, bounded by the Sidlaws, whose sides are either clothed with woods, or enriched with luxuriant crops of corn; in short, there is nothing wanting to render the scenery unrivalled, but a huge arm of the sea or a mighty river, rolling its current along the strath.
The population of Kirriemuir, including the suburbs, amounts to 4014; and no town in the county has a better weekly market. It is the seat of a Justice of Peace Court for the district, including the parishes of Glenisla, Lintrathen, Airly, Kingoldrum, Cortachy, Tannadice, and Oathlaw: and the peace of the town is kept by a numerous constabulary.
Several years ago, G. L. Meason, Esq. of Lindertis feued two parts of his property, which have now swelled into villages,—the one, Marytown, containing 136 inhabitants; and the other, Ellinorton, the inhabitants of which amount to 108.
Means of Communication.—The north mail arrives at Kirriemuir every morning. About fifty years ago, the revenue from the post-office amounted in one year, after paying the necessary expense, to no more than 8d.; it now amounts to L.360 per annum.
There is only one turnpike-road at present in the parish, and it does not extend to more than three miles. The most important bridge is at Shielhill, over the Esk. The bridge over the Prosen was widened lately at the sole expense of the Earl of Airly.
Ecclesiastical State.—The parish church is conveniently situated for the lower part of the parish; and no part of the population of this district is distant above three or four miles from it. The parish church was built in 1787, and is in an excellent state of repair. It is seated for 1260. There are no free sittings.
The manse was built in 1774, but so insufficiently, that it was repaired in 1787. It was again repaired in 1802. This year it will undergo a thorough repair.
The glebe consists of four acres and one rood. The minister is allowed L.20 Scots, in lieu of a grass glebe. The teinds of the parish were valued in 1634. The stipend, as modified in 1812 by the court of teinds, amounts to 191 bolls of grain,—two-thirds meal and one-third barley,—and L.72 Sterling, including L.8, 6s. 8d. for communion elements.
There are no chapels of ease attached to the Established Church; but there is a missionary minister on the Royal Bounty, who officiates alternately in Clova, one of the united parishes of Clova and Cortachy, and in Glenprosen, connected with Kirriemuir. There is one meeting-house in connection with the Original Constitutional Synod; another in connection with the United Secession Church; and a third in connection with the Relief. There is also a small congregation of Independents, who meet in the afternoon of the Lord's day for worship and mutual edification. The ministers are respectably supported by the contributions of their hearers. The Rev. Mr Aitken, and his colleague, the Rev. Mr Anderson, have each L.60 per annum. There is also an Episcopalian chapel.
The great body of the people, however, is attached to the Established Church, and the number of Dissenters and Episcopalians cannot be estimated at more than one-seventh part of the population. About 300 (1831) attend the meeting in connection with the Original Constitutional Synod, 200 of whom are communicants; fully more attend the meeting in connection with the United Secession church; 220 are communicants, 13 of whom come from adjoining parishes.
The congregation in connection with the Relief is only forming, and the communicants (1831) are not above 40. There are now upwards of 200 communicants. The Independents consist only of a few families. The Episcopalians are not numerous.
Divine service at the Established Church, and, I understand, also at the several chapels, is generally well attended. The communicants in connection with the Established Church are not fewer than 2500. In 1830, the number of actual communicants was 2021, and in the chapel at Glenprosen, 189; in all, 2210.
Societies for Religious Purposes.—There are several societies for religious purposes established in the parish. 1. Bible Society, auxiliary to the Bible Society of Edinburgh; 2. Missionary Society, auxiliary to the Missionary Society of Edinburgh; 3. Ladies' Society for promoting the Education of Females in India; 4. Sabbath School Society. Probable average amount of the yearly contributions to the societies:—The Bible society was instituted in 1821, since which, L.122, 8s. 1d. have been collected; or on an average, L.12, 4s. 9½d. per annum; the Missionary society was instituted in 1821, since which, L.368, 2s. 7d. have been collected; or on an average, L. 36, 16s. 3d. per annum; the Ladies' society was instituted in 1823, since which, L.45 have been collected; on an average L.5, 12s. 6d. per annum; Sabbath School society was instituted in 1817, since which, L.18 per annum have been collected. The probable annual amount of church collections for religious purposes, exclusive of what is collected for the poor, is about L.14.
Education.—The total number of schools in the parish (1831) is 16,—1 parochial school, 2 endowed schools, 12 unendowed schools, and one supported by subscription of individuals. The Greek, Latin, and French languages, with practical mathematics and geography, are taught in the parochial school, where the average number of scholars is 200. One teacher has the charge of the classical department, another of the commercial, and a third of the English.
Henry's Mortification.—Mr Henry of Kensington, a native of Kirriemuir, bequeathed in trust the sum of L.1400 to the minister and elders; the interest of L.1200 to be laid out in educating and furnishing with school-books, pens, ink, and paper, twelve boys, or as many more as the money would educate; and the interest of the remaining L.200 to be paid to the parochial schoolmaster for keeping the
accounts. In consequence of some difficulties which had arisen respecting some part of Mr Henry's property, the whole matter came before the Lord Chancellor, who settled it in the following manner: The capital having been placed in the funds at an advantageous time, his Lordship found to be L.2192, 3s. 6d. 3 per cent. with L.394, 12s. Sterling of accumulated interest: he determined L.50 Sterling of this interest to purchase ground for building a school-house, and L.100 Sterling to be expended on the building; the interest of L.200 Sterling was allotted to the schoolmaster, and the interest of the remaining sum was to be applied to the education of as many boys at the parochial school as could be admitted on it, at the rate paid for the education of other boys. The boys are entitled to remain at school four years, and on completing that period, they are entitled to receive a Bible. They are treated in all respects as other scholars, and in case of a competition for admission, a preference is given to boys of the name of Henry. They are taught the common branches of education. On this fund, there are educated about 50 boys.
The Webster Bequest.—John Webster, Esq. writer, and agent for a branch of the British Linen Company, in 1829, left by his will the whole of his property, amounting to upwards of L.8000, to Charles Lyell, Esq. of Kinnordy, to the minister and elders of the parish, and the officiating baron-bailie of Kirriemuir, for instituting, erecting, perpetually endowing, and for regulating a school in the town of Kirriemuir, at which the youth of the town and parish might be instructed in the arts and sciences, or in such branches of education as his trustees might think most suitable. The trustees are at present engaged in collecting the money, which they are securing in the funds; and, as soon as the amount is ascertained, they will erect suitable buildings, and endow schools, in terms of the will. As they are anxious that the poor should receive in the meantime benefit from the bequest, they have agreed to pay the parish schoolmaster for the education of twenty boys at the same rate as for the boys who are educated on Henry's mortification. They have also erected a female school for educating fifty poor girls in such branches of education as are suitable to their years and sex. Both of these plans are temporary, and may at any time be altered or superseded.
The parochial teacher's salary is L.36, 7s. 2d. including L. 2, 2s. 9 and three- quarters pence in lieu of garden-ground; and the amount of school fees received may be L.100. The salary of the schoolmistress on the Webster bequest is L.40 per annum, including L.5 for rent of school-room and for coals.
The parochial teacher has the legal accommodations. The number of the young betwixt six and fifteen years of age who are not receiving instruction in reading and writing is small. The number of persons upwards of fifteen years of age who cannot read or write is not one to a thousand. The people through the whole parish are alive to the benefits of education; and there can be no doubt that a visible change may be observed in the conduct and morals of the people since the facilities of education have been increased.
Libraries.—A subscription library was instituted in 1830. There is also a library attached to the Sabbath schools, containing 800 volumes and tracts; and a circulating library. There is a public reading-room, which is furnished with two London daily papers, two Edinburgh papers, published twice a-week, and two provincial papers. The people, in general, are attached to this species of reading. About fifty years ago there was but one newspaper, which served the whole parish. Now about 200 copies of various newspapers come weekly through the post-office.
Friendly Societies.—There are 11 or 12 friendly societies in the parish, some of which are upwards of thirty years' standing. I regret to say, that, as in other places, they have been constructed on false calculations; and the time will come when they must either die a natural death, or be dissolved. This has been the fate of some of them already; and unless their articles be revised, as those of the Gardeners' Society have lately been, that of others will soon be the same.
Savings Bank.—For three years the minister, in conjunction with James Forrest, Esq. agent for the British Linen Company’s branch, superintended a saving bank; but, owing to the small rate of interest on the sums deposited, few availed themselves of the privilege.
Resident Heritors.—The family of the Honourable Colonel Ogilvy of Clova, that of Charles Lyell, Esq. of Kinnordy, and that of Mrs Kinloch, relict of Colonel Thomas Kinloch of Kilry, reside in the parish.
Language, Character, &c of the People.—It has been remarked, that the people of Angus, as well as that of Aberdeen and the Mearns, are in many respects different from the rest of the Scottish nation. These counties having been the chief part of the Pictish kingdom, it is probable that they retain the greatest share of the characteristics of that peculiar people;—having been less subject to the invasion of the English, but more frequently intruded upon by the adventurers of the north of Europe than the population of the southern lowlands. The language of the people, accordingly, is in many respects different from that which is current in the more southern districts of Scotland. Dr Jamieson, who lived long in this neighbourhood, remarks, in his introduction to his Scottish Dictionary, that the language of his country is spoken here in greater purity and more copiously than in any part of Scotland with which he was acquainted. His words are, "Having resided for many years in the county of Angus, where the old Scottish is spoken with as great purity as any where in Great Britain, I collected a vast number of words unknown in the southern and western dialects of Scotland. Many of these I found the classical terms in the language of Iceland, Sweden, and Denmark." It was here, accordingly, that he formed the resolution of writing a dictionary of the Scottish language.
I have much pleasure in inserting the character of the parishioners, as given by the Rev. George Ogilvy in 1784: "They are not at all defective in Christian knowledge; they can almost all of them read and write; among the tradesmen and trading-men there are not a few abundantly knowing. They attend ordinances on the Lord's day exceeding well; live generally in good neighbourhood with one another, and carry kindly and respectfully enough to their minister. They were never fond of the English service-book and ceremonies; but much better pleased with the worship of the Established Church." (There are many traditions that seem to indicate a great roughness of manners in the inhabitants of this and the adjoining parishes. See original MS.)
Mr Alexander Peat, assistant to the Rev. Thomas Ogilvy, adds, "This account will in a great measure apply to the present state of the parish (1801). The people are not behind their neighbours in knowledge; in their attendance on public ordinances they are in general very regular; the higher ranks are regular in their attendance on worship in the places of meeting of their own persuasion." It is believed that when Mr Ogilvy wrote, there was no dissenting meeting in the town, except a Scots Episcopalian one; since then the people have had their share of those jarrings and unchristian resentments which always accompany the introduction of new opinions. The Dissenters, who have been some time established here, live on a friendly footing with their neighbours; and the members of the Established Church, the Episcopalians, and Seceders, do not look upon one another as of different species, because they happen to differ in opinion. I may add, that while ignorance and vice still abound, my parishioners are in general remarkably well-informed; and many of them are distinguished for the benevolence of their dispositions, their piety towards God, and the strictest integrity, sobriety, and temperance. For many years there has scarcely been a prosecution for poaching in game, or in the salmon fishing in the Esk. Smuggling has entirely disappeared.
Agriculture and Rural Economy.—The number of acres standard imperial measure in the lower division of the parish, which are either cultivated or occasionally in tillage, according to Mr Blackadder, is 11,000; and in the higher division there are of arable intersected with meadow and fine pasture, 2000 acres. The number of acres which never have been cultivated, and which remain constantly waste, or in pasture, in the lower part of the parish, is 2500, and in the higher part of the parish 15,500. The number of acres that might with a profitable application of capital be added to the cultivated land of the parish is extremely small. There is no part of the parish in a state of undivided common. In the lower division of the parish there are 2000 imperial acres in plantations, and in the higher there are 500. The waste surface of roads, houses, water, &c. may be estimated at 500 imperial acres.
Rent of Land.—Mr Blackadder is of opinion that the average rent of arable land in the parish cannot be stated at less than L.1 Sterling the imperial acre. The average rent of grazing an ox three years old on fine pasture is L. 3; a milch cow, L.3, 15s.; and a ewe and lamb, 12s. 6d.
Husbandry.—It may be remarked, that there is in general a spirit of improvement apparent through the whole parish, and that the land is drained and cultivated according to the most approved methods.
Irrigation is practised in several parts of the parish, but especially at Logie, the residence of John Kinloch, Esq. of Kilry. The enclosures are flooded by the Garie in November, and are continued so till the beginning of April. These enclosures have been in grass since 1770; and in consequence of the above practice, says the Rev. Thomas Ogilvy in 1792, "they are now the earliest and best grass fields in the country, and there is not perhaps any in Scotland superior to them. Before the above period," continues he, "they let at from 10s. to 12s. the Scotch acre, but last season from 60s. to 90s. per acre." Mr Peat adds, that in 1801 the rent had increased to L.5 Sterling per acre. The first six or seven years of watering promised no great advantage, but perseverance has increased their value ten times, and that, too, at a trifling expense.
In 1830, these fields, after being fifty years in grass, were let for a course of cropping, some of them as high as L.9, 5s. per Scotch acre. Last season was wet, but some of the fields produced 14 bolls of 6 bushels per acre. The advantage of irrigation is thus demonstrated not only in improving the grass, but also in ameliorating the soil. I only add, farther, that grass fostered by irrigation is found to be better adapted for cattle than for sheep.
The general duration of leases is nineteen years. The state of farm-houses is in general good. A considerable part of the parish is enclosed; partly with hedges, but chiefly with stone walls. The greater part of the parish is in the hands of industrious tenants, who follow the most approved methods of husbandry.
Produce.—The average gross amount and value of raw produce yearly raised in the parish may be as follows:
Parochial Registers.—The parochial registers are of a late date. It appears that they were taken possession of in 1713, by the Rev. James Rait, and were never afterwards recovered. The registers of marriages, births, and deaths, which have been kept since 1713, are as correct as most others, but far from being in a satisfactory state.
Antiquities-Rocking-stones..—Dr Smith in his History of the Druids, says, that the Highlanders called the rocking-stones “Clacha Breath,” that is, the stones of judgement; but Mr Huddlestone, in his learned notes to his edition of Toland, objects to this appellation, in as much as no two rocking-stones are to be found together. It is singular, however, that there are two a little to the north-west of the hill of Kirriemuir, within a few yards of each other. The one of them is a block of whinstone, nearly oval, and is three feet three inches in height, nine feet in length, and four feet ten inches in breadth. The other, of Lintrathen porphyry, is two feet in height, eight feet in length, and five feet in breadth. The purpose for which these stones were erected is involved in mystery.
Standing-stones.—Of these, the most early of all monuments, there are several in Kirriemuir, none of which have inscriptions of any kind. The most remarkable in this parish is the "Standing-stone" in the hill of Kirriemuir, which has been evidently at some period split into two; one part of it is still standing, the other is lying. The standing part is nine feet in height above the surface of the ground. At the base it is six feet and six inches in breadth, and at the top it is four feet and six inches; it cannot be less than three or four feet in the ground; and in the memory of man it tapered towards the top, but the projecting part has been knocked off. The lying part of the stone is twelve feet and nine inches in length. Tradition is silent as to the purpose for which it was erected. (Three other standing-stones, and a variety of tumuli in the parish, are described in the original M S.)
Caves.—Tacitus observes, in his account of the manners of the Germans, that it was their custom to dig caves in the earth, where they laid up their grain and lived in winter; and that in these caves they would find shelter from their enemies. Of such caves several have been discovered in Kirriemuir. The most remarkable is the "Weems Hole," on the top of the hill of the Mearns,—built, as the Rev. George Ogilvy describes, with stone, and covered above with large unpolished stones about six feet wide. The entry lies towards the south; and its course may be traced the length of sixty or seventy yards. The stones now covering the cave are overgrown with earth, and the total length of it is not perceptible. I have conversed with a person who was present at the opening of this cave, and who informs me, that a great many human bones, with some querns and other curiosities, were found in it. The cave at Auchlishie, the "Weems Park," is another of these subterranean recesses; it was opened by the late Mr Wilkie of Auchlishie, when a currach and some querns were discovered.
Currachs.—I have just mentioned that a currach, or boat, was found in the cave of Auchlishie; but as the proprietor, who would have preserved it, did not reside on his estate at the time, it was cut up for firewood by his farm-servants. In the summer of 1820, a canoe was found in the peat of the loch of Kinnordy,—one extremity being scarcely below the surface. (For an accurate description and figure of the canoe, the reader is referred to Mr Lyell's paper on a recent formation of fresh water limestone.) This relict is not without its value to the geologist, as well as to the antiquarian, since it shows that some part even of the peat, which overlies all the marl, is of a date anterior to the historical records of the country. (The original MS. contains an account of some querns, celts, or battle-axes, and arrow-heads found in the parish: also of the remains of the religious houses of Kilhill, Chapelton, &c. There is also in the original MS. under this head, a notice of some remains of a Roman road, with an interesting discussion on the question, whether the great battle betwixt Agricola and the aboriginal inhabitants was fought in this parish. In the original MS. will be found also a lengthened description of the castle of Inverquharity, with au elegant drawing.)
It is the general opinion, that Christianity was early introduced into this parish; but no tradition respecting the precise time has come down to us. The parish abounds with the ruins of religious houses.
Modern Buildings.—In 1815, the Trades-hall was built, the property of the different friendly societies of the town; the lower part is let for shops, and the upper, a hall of considerable size, is reserved for the meetings of the societies and for other purposes. (It has lately been converted into a chapel for the Relief congregation.)
Kinnordy is the residence of Charles Lyell, Esq. The garden is enriched by many rare plants; and there is a museum, consisting of minerals, bones of animals, and antiquities; there is also a collection of insects.
Balnaboth, in the upper part of the parish, is the residence of the Honourable Colonel Ogilvy of Clova, the brother of the Earl of Airly. Logie is the residence of John Kinloch, Esq. of Kilry. The mansion-house of Balinshoe, the residence of the late Mr Fletcher, now in a ruinous state, appears to have been originally built without reference to any settled plan.
Ballandarg is the seat of Francis Graham, Esq. of Morphie, a member of the ancient family of Graham; which, as Sir Walter Scott says, can boast of as great historical renown as any in Scotland. To this family belonged Sir John the Graham, the friend of Wallace, who fell in the field of Falkirk; the Marquis of Montrose, in whom De Retz saw realized the abstract idea of the heroes of antiquity; and Viscount Dundee, who fell in the arms of victory, although the severity of his temper, and the rigour with which he executed the oppressive mandates of the princes whom he served, can never be justified or palliated.
Shielhill, on the banks of the South Esk, the property of Charles Lyell, Esq. of Kinnordy, enjoys perhaps the finest situation in the parish. (See original MS. for a detail of the various superstitions still prevailing in this, as in other parishes of Scotland,—in particular those of borrowing days, halloween, new moon, fairies, &c.)
The increase of population is supposed to be owing to the policy which has of late prevailed, of converting small farms into large ones. The surplus population of country parishes being obliged in consequence to congregate in towns, Kirriemuir has received its full share of this emigration, from the increased facility for building, occasioned by the division of a commonty long in dispute, and the prospect of employment which the thriving state of the linen manufacture held out. The number of the population residing in the town, including the suburbs, is 4014; residing in the villages of Marytown and Ellenertown, 236; and residing in the country, 2125.