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The New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
Volume XII - Aberdeen
Parish of St. Fergus


I.— Topography and Natural History.

Name.—This parish was formerly named Langley, and originally Inverugie. It assumed its present designation in the year 1616; but for what special reasons cannot be accurately ascertained, though it would appear to have been intended as a compliment to the memory of its ancient patron saint.

Situation, Boundaries, Extent.—This parish, though locally situated in Aberdeenshire, belongs to the county of Banff, to which it was annexed at a very early period by an act of Legislature, obtained through the influence of the Cheynes, the ancient proprietors, who, being the hereditary sheriff's of Banff, were naturally very desirous to have their own domains placed under their own jurisdiction. But its connection with the county of Banff is now recognized in no other way than by the payment of the ordinary taxes. It is bounded on the east, by the German Ocean; on the south, by the river Ugie; on the north, by the parish of Crimond; and on the west, by the parish of Longside. Its extreme length is 5½ miles, and its greatest breadth 3½ miles. Its superficial extent is about 12 square miles.

Topographical Appearances.—The sea beach is flat and sandy. It forms, as justly described in the former Statistical Account, "two segments of a circle—the one, beginning at the mouth of the Ugie, terminates at Scotstown Craig, and the other extends from there to Rattray-head." A strong natural rampart of closely connected clay hills, elevated by the accumulation of drift sand, and thickly covered with bent grass, divides the shore from the land, and is of vast consequence in preventing the blowing of the sand by strong easterly winds. Along this line, but of various breadth, runs a plain of the finest downs or links perhaps in Scotland, affording excellent pasture for sheep and young cattle, and capital ground for the golf-player, though perhaps rather too level for the lovers of a hazardous game. The lower part of the parish, to the extent of a mile from the shore, presents a flat appearance, from whence it gradually rises in elevation towards the western extremity, with many beautiful undulations. There is no elevation in the parish which merits the designation of a hill, if we except an eminence of inconsiderable height in the vicinity of Inverugie Castle, known by the name of the Castle-hill. Though naked in winter from the general absence of trees, the parish presents to the eye of the stranger entering it from the south, in summer, a lovely and inviting aspect—by exhibiting one unbroken spread of cultivated surface. The mosses, which are not within sight of the main road, are the only land which has not yet yielded to the conquest of the plough.

Meteorology—Climate.—From its proximity to the sea, and the retentive quality of the soil, the climate of this parish is rather cold and damp. Of late years the springs have been less mild and the winters less severe, than they are reported to have been in former times. Here it may be truly said in the language of the poet,

"Spring is but the child
Of churlish winter in her froward moods,
Discovering much the temper of her sire."

The mean range of the thermometer in summer is from 52° to 57°, and in winter from 38° to 48º on Fahrenheit's scale ; and that of the barometer, in summer, from 29.49 to 29.56, and in winter from 29.40 to 29.47. The autumnal frosts for the last fifteen years have not set in so early or with such severity, as previous to that period. Formerly, the growth gained by the trees in summer was generally lost in winter; the tender shoots being nipt by the early frost before they were sufficiently matured to resist it. Now we see the crown bud of the last year's branch giving birth in spring to its natural successor.

Notwithstanding the humidity of the atmosphere, and the frequent alternations of the weather, it does not appear that there are any diseases which may strictly be called endemic in the parish, nor are the inhabitants less healthy than in the more inland parts of the country, though strangers coming to reside in it with a predisposition to rheumatic and stomach complaints are generally backward to bear testimony to the salubrity of its climate. There were twenty-four individuals lately living upwards of eighty years of age; and one man, in his eighty-eighth year, [John Milne in Kilkyhill. The above was written in 1837. He is still living, attending to the concerns of his farm, and able to attend church in a good day. - January 1840.] is able to attend to the business of a small farm, and to walk to church almost every Sabbath from a distance of more than two miles. One man died in 1835 aged ninety-six. The writer's maternal grandfather, who died in 1810, aged ninety-three, officiated as an elder at the dispensation of the Lord's Supper in this parish in that year. The oldest person now living in the parish is a woman aged ninety-two. The prevailing winds are, the north, north-east, and north-west. The north-west is of all others to which we are exposed the most destructive to vegetation. It would tend much to meliorate the climate, and to ensure an earlier and less precarious vegetation, if the west and north-west boundaries of the parish were skirted with a broad selvage of planting. It is needless to hint what an acquisition this would be to our tame scenery; and, whilst it gave a more imposing aspect to the landscape, it would impart additional value to the soil. It is to be hoped, when the opportunity of entertaining this proposition is afforded by the expiry of the present leases, that it will meet with due attention in the proper quarter. Hydrography.—The Ugie is the only stream of water in the parish which deserves the name of a river. It consists of two branches, called the North and the South Ugie, which unite in the parish of Longside; from whence it flows in one channel along the south boundary of St Fergus to the ocean. In the upper districts of the parish, in dry summers, there is often a scarcity of water for cattle. In the lower district there are several excellent perennial springs. A few are chalybeate, but none of a very strong impregnation. About forty years ago, a canal was cut at a great expense along the south side of the parish. The then proprietor had contemplated its extension to Peterhead, in order to open up a water-carriage from that port to different parts of his extensive estates in Old Deer, Longside, and St Fergus; but -meeting with some difficulties in effecting the necessary arrangements with neighbouring heritors, the plan was abandoned. It subserved, for some years, the purpose of conveying shell-sand, with which the coast abounds, to the farms more remote from the sea; but it is now entirely useless, unless as a reservoir for water to the farm-steadings in its neighbourhood, and is fast filling up.

Geology.—The greater part of the parish consists of a strong adhesive clay, incumbent on a bed of ferruginous gravel, which alternates, as far as the writer had an opportunity of observing, with a white silicious sand. There are numerous boulders in the parish of gneiss, granite, trap, and graywacke; but the only rocks in situ are those at Craig Ewen, and Scotstown Head on the coast. At Craig Ewen, granite of a binary compound predominates, with very little quartz, and where there is a vein cutting the native bed, which rarely occurs, it is of a compact felspar of a very deep red, and occasionally manifesting a great tendency to decomposition. The soil in the neighbourhood is clayey.

The rocks at Scotstown Head, which are only accessible at low water, consist of granite, gneiss, trap, quartz, and primitive limestone. The gneiss and granite appear frequently in close and inseparable union. The granite varies in appearance as it comes more or less into contact with the gneiss; where the junction is complete, it is white. Where the granite underlies the gneiss, but without any union between them except contiguity, it assumes a dark colour, and discovers more hornblende in its composition than in its other positions. At one point the granite is graphic. The general surface of the rocks exhibits gneiss, granite, trap, and quartz, all blended together, and in forms of connection, varying almost at every step. The limestone is separated by a fissure from the granite, but appears in one or two places united to the gneiss; and there is reason to believe that it forms a junction with the granite at a more remote distance from the shore. At Hythie, in the parish of Old Deer, and in a line due west from Scotstown Head, limestone and granite of the same character as at the latter place, make their appearance in very intimate union. At Black-stones, between Scotstown rocks and Craig Ewen, there are three distinct congeries of large boulders within the flood-mark, consisting indiscriminately of granite, graphic granite, primary and secondary limestone, puddingstone, graywacke, gneiss, and basalt. In the secondary limestone, ammonites are occasionally found, and also impressions of a species of mussel not now known upon this coast.

There is abundance of peat moss in the parish, but none of recent origin. It contains the remains of oak, hazel, and birch trees, which the greatest care cannot now induce to take a liking to our soil. Some pieces of oak, dyed black by the oxide of iron, and susceptible of a beautiful polish, have occasionally been dug up, and applied to ornamental purposes. About thirty years ago, several antlers of large and full-grown stags were found imbedded in a bank of moss. It is quite evident that the lower part of the parish had at some distant period been submerged by the sea. The substratum of the soil consists of sand intermixed with the remains of marine testacea. There are indications along the coast that the land has been gaining upon the sea.

Zoology.—Quadrupeds. There are no rare animals found in this parish. About three years ago, the hedgehog (Erinaceus Europæus,) which was not before known to have had a locum tenens in this district, was discovered in St Fergus, on the farm of Nether Hill. The otter has long had a home on the banks of the Ugie. Rabbits are of late introduction, but they have multiplied to a prodigious extent in the Links, and do incalculable damage to the crops in the neighbourhood. Indeed, the increase of the common hare is here found to be a serious evil to the farmer.

Birds.—Under this section the parish presents little that could be peculiarly interesting to the naturalist. Within these few years, and in consequence, as is supposed, of the persecution to which he was exposed in his ancient domicile at Pitfour, the rook (Corvus frugilegus) has sought and found an asylum in St Fergus. He has paid a compliment to the trees at Lunderton, sufficiently flattering to the gentleman who planted them, by the institution of a rookery there, and, from this circumstance, has perhaps experienced greater forbearance than his intrusion was otherwise entitled to. If it be true, however, as has been often averred, that what a cat is to a housewife, the rooks are to the farmer, by destroying worms and insects, it may yet be problematical on which side the balance of obligation lies.

At Lunderton, also, may be seen, in a state of partial domestication, the water hen (Fulica chloropus.) There are two, sometimes four or more, birds. They frequent a marsh in the vicinity during the season of incubation, but mingle at other times with the common poultry in the court-yard, and partake of their fare.

Fishes.—In the neighbouring ocean are to be found turbot (Pleuroneates maximus); sole (Solea vulgaris. There is reason to believe that these are abundant, but, having no nets proper for the purpose, the fishermen seldom catch them. Ling (Molva vulgaris) ; common dog-fish (Spinax acanthias); common skate (Raia batis); haddock (Morhua Æglefinus); whiting (Merlangus vulgaris); herring (Clupea harengus), very abundant from the end of June to September. Coal-fish, called here cole-sethes, (Merlangus carbonarius); plaice or plash fluke (Platessa vulgaris) ; flounder (Platessa flesus); holibut (Hippoglossus vulgaris); sand-eel, or sannel, (Ammodytes tobianus); mackerel (Scomber vulgaris); common cod (Morhua vulgaris). At Rattray Head, at the extremity of the coast belonging to this parish, a variety of the common cod is caught, well known by the provincial name of the Rattray cod. It is of a reddish colour, and is prized as a great delicacy by those who are fond of fish. Among the rocks at Scotstown and Craig Ewen the parten crab (Cancer pagurus) is plentifully found. In the Ugie are the salmon (Salmo solar); bull-trout {Salmo eriox), very rare; finnock (Salmo albus); sea-trout (Salmo trutta); common burn-trout (Salmo fario); minnow (Leuciscus phoxinus); common eel (Anguilla vulgaris) ; fresh water flounder (Platessa fluviatilis). In the Ugie the pearl mussel (Mya margaritifera) is abundant, but the pearls found are seldom of much value, being of a dark hue and only partially transparent. British pearls must have been in great repute at one period, for Suetonius ascribes Caesar's invasion of Britain to the desire of enriching himself with the pearls found in different parts of the coast. "Britanniam petiisse spe margaritarum." But I am afraid that the Ugie cannot prefer a claim to the boast of having excited the cupidity of the Roman conqueror.

Conchology.—There is little doubt but a conchologist might, with some pains, reap a rich harvest of gratification from our coast. The following is a list of shells collected on the coast of St Fergus, by Mr Alexander Murray, Nether Mill, a young gentleman not more distinguished by his zeal and industry as a practical farmer, than by his devotion to the pursuits of natural science. To insure accuracy the shells were named by Dr Fleming of King's College, Aberdeen. It will be readily observed that the Doctor has followed the nomenclature assumed in his History of British Animals.

Insects, &c.—The insects most destructive to vegetation in this parish, so far as the observation of the writer extends, are the Limax agrestis, or grub-worm, the Papilio napi, the Tipula tritici, and common caterpillar; seldom a summer passes in which the gooseberry bushes do not suffer severely from the ravages of these larvae. The only remedy which has been found efficient in this neighbourhood, is to water the bushes in the evening, and immediately after to dust the under part of the leaves with hot lime but this must be done as soon as the eggs are discovered. There is a disease called segging or hushing, to which the braird of oats in this parish is very liable on highly cultivated land; and which is evidently occasioned by some insect, though its distinctive character has not been ascertained. The Curculio pini; from the ravages of this insect, and the clay subsoil, the larch tree has never thriven in this parish. The Curculio pyri is often seen on the wall trees in the manse garden.

Botany.—In a parish where the plough holds such an extensive dominion the Flora cannot be expected to be very interesting. The following is a list of such plants as seem deserving of being enumerated in a work of this kind.

Anemone nemorosa, only in one location, on the banks of the Ugie, nearly opposite to Raven's Craig; Armaria peploides; Botrychium Lunaria; Chrysosplenium oppositifolium; Corydalis claviculata; Droscra longifolia, rare, the only location with which the writer is acquainted is in the moss lying between St Fergus and Crimond; Echium vulgare, very rare, only one plant having been discovered some years ago on the farm of Ednic, which had most probably been introduced among seed corn from England; Euphrasia officinalis, most abundant; Gentiana amarella and campestris, the latter very abundant; Geum urbanum, rare, found chiefly about Inverugie; Glechoma hederacea, rare in general, but most abundant in the neighbourhood of the Kirktown; Habmaria viridis, rather rare; Heracleum Sphondylium, very abundant; an old woman in the parish, the only person in the neighbourhood who seems to know its value, gives her cows a creel- full of this plant in the season for supper, and she says that the milk-pail next morning bears testimony to its virtues. Might not this plant be cultivated to great advantage? Hippuris vulgaris grows here in great abundance and to an immense size in some of its locations, particularly in the canal near Scotstown. Humulus lupulus is said to have been found here, but the writer has never discovered it; Hypericum pulchrum and quadrangulum. Juncus balticus is found among the bents near to Rattray. It was first discovered by Alexander Cow, Esq. who brought his specimen to the writer, when first engaged in collecting materials for this account. Knappia agrostidea, very rare, only one plant was found among the bents; Lapsana communis; Ligusticum Scoticum; Linum catharticum; Lychnis dioica and Flos-cuculi; Menyanthes trifoliata, only in one location at the Burn Mill; Mercurialis perennis; Nymphæa alba, very abundant near Stone Mill, but only found there; Ononis arvensis, at the mouth of the Ugie and on the glebe only; Papaver Rhœas; Phalaris arundinacea; Pimpinella saxifraga; Pinguicula vulgaris; Plantago lanceolata, maritima, and Coronopus; Polygala vulgaris; Parnassia palustris, most abundant on the links; Pota-mogeton densas, pectinatus, pusillus, heterophyllus and natans; Potentilla anserina and argentea; Primula veris and elatior; Ranunculus sceleratus; Saponaria officinalis, only found in the vicinity of Inverugie Castle; Parietaria officinalis is likewise found only there; Saxifraga tridactylites; Scandix Pecten; Scrophularia nodosa; Spergula nodosa; Symphytum officinale, on the glebe and at Inverugie only; Trientalis Europæa, very rare, only between St Fergus and Kininmonth; Triglochin palustre, in the links; Tussilago Farfara, only at the end of the Mains Park of Inverugie; Veronica auagallis, abundant in the laighs of Scotstown, but only there; Thalictrum minus; Vinca minor, near to the old Castle of Inverugie only; Daucus carota is found on a croft near the village.

Planting.—In the former Statistical Account it is mentioned that "there is no wood in the parish, except a few old planes at Inverugie." Since that period the late James Ferguson, Esq. planted upwards of twenty acres, chiefly along the banks of the Ugie. The present tacksman of Lunderton, about thirty years ago, planted a good many trees for shelter to his residence, as did also the writer's predecessor at the manse. These experiments have completely disproved an opinion which was long and most tenaciously entertained, that trees would not grow in this parish. It appears, however, that the soil is most congenial to ash, elm, planes, poplar,-and alder, and that firs in particular, unless in very dry situations, cannot be accommodated to it.

II.— Civil History.

Maps and Plans.—There is an unpublished map of the parish, and plans of its separate divisions, in the possession of the principal proprietor.

Papers and Documents.—The writer is not aware of the existence of any thing under this head which would tend to illustrate the history of the parish, with the exception of some old leases granted by the last Earl Marischal, from which no other fact of importance can be gathered, but that wheat was more generally cultivated in St Fergus at that period than it is now. There is also an old paper in the session-chest, under the hand of the same nobleman, authorizing his chamberlain to repay the kirk-session, out of his rents from the lands of Fortree in Longside, the money advanced by them for causewaying a part of the public road. There are other documents too in the same repository, which shew that in former times small bridges, which facilitated access to the church, were built and repaired out of the funds under the management of the kirk-session, even when no guarantee for repayment was granted either by the proprietor or parishioners.

Historical Notices.-—The Cheynes were proprietors of this parish in the thirteenth century, but at what particular period they succeeded to the property cannot be ascertained. They had other extensive estates in different parts of Scotland, as appears from ancient chartularies. Sir Reginald Cheyne was Lord Chamberlain of Scotland in 1267; and his brother, Henry, was Bishop of Aberdeen in 1281. The house of the Carmelite Friars in Aberdeen had been built and endowed by their father, Reginald le Cheyne, who, besides other revenues secured to it by the deed of erection, bestowed upon it L.2 yearly out of the lands of Black-water in this parish. Sir Reginald was succeeded in his estates by a son of the same name, who was taken prisoner at the battle of Halidonhill in 1320, and died about the year 1350, leaving two daughters, Mariot and Mary. Mariot married, first, Sir John Douglas, and after his death, without issue, John de Keith of Raven's Craig, the second son of Sir Edward Keith, Great Marischal of Scotland, who in her right became proprietor of St Fer-gus. The issue of this marriage continued a separate branch of the Keiths for seven or eight generations. In 1538, the families were again united by the marriage of William, the fourth Earl Marischal, with the heiress of Sir William Keith of Inverugie. From that period the parish continued the property of the Earls Marischal till 1715, when, by the attainder of the then Earl, it escheated to the Crown. It was sold by the Crown to the York-Building Company, and repurchased from their trustees by George Earl Marischal, son of the attainted Earl, in 1761, at thirty years purchase of the then rental, which was L. 420, 13s. 8d. Sterling. In 1764, it was sold by Earl Marischal to James Ferguson, Esq. one of the Senators of the College of Justice, and in that family it has since continued.

Eminent Characters.—It seems proper that even such an humble chronicle as this should contribute its aid to preserve to posterity the memory of the great Field Marischal Keith, brother to George last Earl Marischal, who was born at Inverugie Castle, and, as appears from the parochial register of baptisms, was baptised on the 16th June 1696, by the name of James Francis Edward. He fell at the battle of Hochkirchen, on the 14th October 1758, in the sixty-third year of his age.

Cui genus a proavis ingens clarumque paternæ
Nomen erat virtutis, et ipse acerrimus armis.

Robert Arbuthnot of Scotsmill, the grandfather of the celebrated Dr Arbuthnot, who was physician to Queen Anne, and the friend of Dean Swift, is buried in the churchyard of this parish. The tombstone which surmounts the grave, and on which are quartered the arms of the ancient families of Arbuthnot and Gordon, belongs to the representatives of the late Sir William Arbuthnot of Edinburgh, who expressed great solicitude for its preservation, and at whose request it was repaired some time before his death.

Land-owners.—At the time when the former Statistical Account was drawn up, and for long after, the whole parish was the property of one heritor; but the present proprietor having sold a small section of it which lies contiguous to the lands of Rattray, in the parish of Crimond, there are now two heritors, George Ferguson, Esq. M. P. for Banffshire, and Adam Cumine, Esq. of Rattray; but neither of them reside in the parish.

Parochial Registers.—The date of the earliest entry in the parochial register of births and baptisms is the 1st May 1688. This register consists of three folio volumes, but till within the last fifteen years does not appear to have been regularly kept. Parents formerly were often very negligent in recording the births of their children; but registration is now enforced. The records of the kirk-session begin on the 1st January 1749, and, as far as regards the management of the poor, seem to have been carefully kept from that time. To the res gestæ of discipline less attention had been paid during the two last incumbencies; but from 1749 to 1772, the details are very minute, and very interesting, as illustrative of the habits and character of the people, though certainly not calculated to confirm the impression, that " the former times were better than these." A register of deaths has been kept for several years, but hitherto unaccompanied with a nosological table. Antiquities.— On the banks of the Ugie, and on the most interesting site that could have been selected in the parish for such a building, are to be seen the ruins of Inverugie Castle, once a splendid edifice, and the principal residence of the Earls Marischal. One of the towers, called the Cheyne's Tower, is of great antiquity; but the greater part of the fabric is supposed to have been built by George, Earl Marischal, the founder of the Marischal College in Aberdeen. Tradition reports, that Sir Thomas Learmont the Rhymer visited this place, and poured forth his vaticinations against it from a stone in the neighbourhood, in such strains as these:

Inverugie by the sea
Lordless shall thy lands be.

The stone on which the Seer sat was removed to build the church in 1763; but the field in which it lay is still called Tammas' stane.

The late James Ferguson, Esq. repaired and roofed in the main building of the castle, floored it, and erected an observatory on the top of it, at considerable expense. But the present proprietor, with a greater regard to taste than utility, has dismantled it of these modernizings, and allowed ruin to reassume her empire.

The old churchyard close by the coast, and which is still the only burial-ground in the parish, is an interesting object, and, from the loneliness of its situation, peculiarly adapted to be the dwelling place of the dead. It is enclosed by a substantial wall, built at the sole expense of the parishioners, in 1751, and repaired by them in 1833. The principal heritor has conceded the privilege of inhumation to the representatives of the former occupiers, whether resident in the parish or not; and it is to be hoped that the time will never come, when a sacred regard to the place of "their fathers' sepulchres," and a wish to be laid in death beside those whom they loved in life, shall cease to be fondly cherished by the people; for feelings like these are akin to piety and virtue. For this lonely spot the late eminent Dr Beattie is known to have conceived a peculiar predilection, and to have frequently expressed a wish to have his last earthly home in the churchyard of St Fergus.

In consequence of an agreement entered into with the principal heritor, the burial-ground was enlarged in 1833, at the expense of the kirk-session, who, in virtue of authority conveyed to them by that agreement, can now sell permanent rights of sepulture in this peculiarly retired and peaceful domain of the dead. In the churchyard may be seen fragments of the fount and other pieces of rude sculpture which had belonged to the old church. It ceased to be a place of worship in 1616. A portion of the south wall to the depth of several feet still remains, but is completely covered by the accumulated soil. Its area, which is pretty distinctly defined, shows it to have been a very narrow building.

A good many years ago, a silver groat of Robert II. was found at the Castle of Inverugie, and a shilling of Charles I. in ploughing a field in the parish. A copper spear head was found on the glebe some years ago. The base is a hollow square cone for receiving the pointed end of the shaft, and it has what its possessor calls a pot-ear, through which a thong had passed to secure it to the shaft. In excavating the canal, a small malleable iron shot was found at the point where the canal makes its nearest approach to the ruins of the Castle of Raven's Craig, on the opposite bank of the Ugie; and more recently, in digging near the base of Raven's Craig, another and a similar one was discovered. These would seem to indicate the early introduction of artillery into this part of the country. These are the only pieces of antiquity, so far as the writer is aware, that have been found or dug up in this parish. They are all in the possession of Adam Arbuthnot, Esq. Peterhead, who has perhaps the best private museum in Scotland, and who, with a liberality that does him great credit, is ever ready to welcome both strangers and friends to its inspection.

Modern Buildings.—Since the last Statistical Account was written, a school-room and schoolmaster's house were built by the late James Ferguson, Esq. who was ever ready to forward any improvement calculated to elevate the condition or to augment the comforts of his tenantry. The school-room, though built about thirty years ago, is yet superior to any other in any country parish in the county. It is well lighted, sufficiently large, and fitted up in a very neat and substantial manner.


For the decrease of population from 1775 to 1793, the writer is not furnished with the means of assigning any adequate cause. The increase from 1793 to 1801 is accounted for by an influx of strangers employed in cutting the canal, which was in progress during the later part of that period, and that from 1801 to 1811 by the number of labourers from other parishes being engaged in making the turnpike road. The decrease from 1811 to 1821 was doubtless owing to a bleachfield having been given up during the interim, and that from 1821 to 1831 may be traced for its cause to a deficiency of employment in ditching and other agricultural improvements—the tenants being less able to lay out money for that purpose, and also to the circumstance of several of the farms having fallen into the occupancy of bachelors.

The number of illegitimate births averages for the last three years, 2½ yearly.

Language, &c.—The dialect spoken here is the common patois of the district, called broad Buchan. It has been losing, during the last forty years, much of its provincial peculiarity, and assimilating itself more and more in phraseology, at least, to the English tongue. Many of the words and forms of expression used by very old people are scarcely intelligible to the rising generation. The habits of the people are cleanly. In the article of dress there have been many innovations within the last forty years. Silk gowns and silk cloaks are quite common among the females of the better class—and too much of the "hard-won penny fee" of the maid servant often becomes the prey of the hawker, to gratify a passion for outward adorning. The broad blue bonnet, once so generally worn in this parish, has been almost entirely superseded by the hat, at least in holiday dress. The bellman, and a very worthy patriarch, who has never been of those "who are given to change," are the only persons who exhibit at church this part of the ancient costume.

Amusements.—-It was long the practice in this parish for masters and servants to go to the Links together at Christmas to play golf—but the taste for that ancient and healthful diversion, as well as for other rural pastimes, has greatly declined. There are now very few golf-players in the parish. The season of Christmas is still marked, as a parenthesis in the monotony of every-day avocations, by servants being allowed an entire day of leisure for themselves—by the improved quality of the bread and beer which cover the board on that occasion—by the custom almost yet universally in use of welcoming Christmas morn by liberal libations of drinking sowins, or, as they are called by the old people, knotting sowins—and by the gathering of friends and neighbours around the social hearth. That the humblest householder in the parish may have his Christmas cakes, a distribution of meal, the gift of a benevolent individual, is annually made by the kirk-session, on Christmas day, to the poor on the roll.

The ordinary food of the peasantry is meal and milk, vegetables and fish. About the season of Christmas the poorest families have generally a little butcher-meat. The use of tea among the females has become so common that it is regarded almost as a necessary of life, and other more real and substantial comforts are often sacrificed to obtain this enervating luxury. Having known the parishioners from my earliest years, I believe I do not lay myself open to the charge of exaggeration or undue partiality, when I say that they are in general a generous and warm-hearted people, kind, affectionate, and contented in their domestic relations—upright in their dealings—hospitable and friendly in their social intercourse, and proverbially open-handed in their bounty to the poor. They are intelligent and well-informed; and in their political sentiments, with few exceptions, deeply imbued with the spirit of conservatism. They are regular in their attendance upon divine ordinances, and many of them give evidence of sincere piety. It is to be regretted that, in several families, there is reason to believe that the duties of domestic instruction and devotion are either neglected or very carlessly discharged, and that some households exhibit the unseemly aspect of two distinct communities living under the same roof, and having no religious intercourse with each other—a wall of entire separation in this respect being reared between the master and his servants. To this as the prime cause—to the early period of life at which the children of the peasantry engage in service—and to the mode of feeing half-yearly in markets, and the migratory habits generated by this system, is to be traced the moral deterioration which has become so visible in the class of farm-servants. The evil, is, indeed as yet, less apparent here than in more populous parishes. Many of the servants in this parish are remarkably intelligent, fond of reading, and moral and religious in their deportment; but they belong almost entirely to that section which are stationary in the parish, and not to that floating portion of the class who change their parochial residence every half-year, and upon whom pastoral inspection, and other salutary and controlling influences can rarely be brought to bear. In adverting to the character of the population, I should be guilty of an unpardonable omission, if I did not state, what is well known to be the fact, that they are very temperate in the use of spirituous liquors. The vice of drunkenness is confined to a very few individuals, who are not in communion with the church. How long this may continue to be said with truth of the parishioners of St Fergus is rendered very problematical by the strong temptations to which they are exposed in four shops, now opened amongst them, for the retail of spirituous liquors. This is an evil, the fearful increase of which here and in other places, deserves and demands the serious attention of all who possess the means of mitigating or repressing it. Smuggling is entirely discontinued, and from the vigilant and vigorous measures taken by the principal proprietor for the protection of the game, poaching does not prevail to any noticeable extent. For several years there have been no complaints lodged against persons for poaching for salmon in the river; and it is believed that the misdemeanour, once very common, is now seldom if ever committed.


No. of males employed in agriculture, as farmers, cottars, and farm-servants, 258
males employed in retail trade and handicraft, as masters and workmen, 45
No. of professional and educated men, 4
all other males 20 years old, (except servants,) including retired tradesmen, superannuated labourers, and diseased males, 23
male servants upwards of 20 years of age, 138
female servants do. do. . . . . 100

It was stated in the former Statistical Account, that there were 43 weavers in the parish—there is now only one individual who earns a livelihood by that trade, so much has the manufacture of home-made cloth declined. About forty years ago, a lit pig was a necessary utensil in almost every family—but there is not a house in the parish where such an article is now to be seen in use.


* There is a considerable discrepance between this computation and that contained in the former Statistical Account. The measurement here given was furnished to me by Roderick Gray, Esq. factor to both the heritors, who states that it was taken from surveys and tables of contents, which had been repeatedly checked and found ] correct. I am also obliged to Mr Gray for other information embodied in this account, and for the prompt and pains-taking manner in which it was furnished.

Soil.—The soil in the parish, as regards its adaptation to agriculture, may be classed under three divisions. Along the coast it is sandy loam and moss, easily cultivated, and producing tur- nips, potatoes, and bulky crops of grain,—the grain, however, is not of so good a quality, or of such weight, as that raised on the stronger lands. The middle division is strong adhesive clay, capable of producing weighty crops of grain, but ill adapted for turnip husbandry. The western division is inferior ; some parts of it at no very distant period had been moorish and covered with moss. As a whole, it is composed of clay and moss. A considerable portion of the moss has been redeemed during the last fifteen years, and more is in course of being improved. Since the last Statistical Account was written, upwards of 300 acres of land in different parts of the parish have been brought into a state of . cultivation. Mr Cumine of Rattray's improvements on the moss land on his part of the parish have been very successful, and, while they have meliorated the climate, and refreshed the eye, have greatly enhanced the value of his property. He has converted the black and unproductive swamp into fields, bearing abundant crops of oats, turnips, and bear.

Rent of Land.—The average rent of the whole arable land in the parish is about L. 1, 2s. 7d. per Scotch acre, or 17s. 9¼d. per imperial measure.

The valued rent of the parish in Scots money, is L. 3000
The real rent in Sterling money, about L. 5720

In 1761, the yearly rent of the parish was L. 902, 4s. 4d. Sterling. In 1766, the whole parish was let for eleven years certain, and a lifetime of the individual tacksmen, at the yearly gross rent of L. 1418, 19s. 5d. Soon after the expiry of the certain period of tack covenanted upon, the liferenters began to drop off; and when the farms which they had occupied were large, they were subdivided, and the rents raised and apportioned among the subtenants previously resident on the farms. Others were allowed to remain at the former rents, when the immediate heirs of the deceased tacksmen succeeded; and where there were no heirs wishing to succeed, the farms were allowed to go to, and remain in grass, until almost the whole of the liferents expired, in order to allow the proprietor the means of straighting the marches, and making other necessary arrangements for an improved method of tillage. In 1803, [With this lease the levelling system commenced, which operated one bad effect, from which the land in this parish has not yet entirely recovered. The best of the soil, which, by the old method of tillage, had been carefully gathered to the top of the ridges, then very high and ill-shapen, was by this process thrown into the former furrows—and the crown of the old ridges left thin and bare. The crop produced on these was very light, while that on the old furrows, being often too heavy, lodged and rotted. The crop, too, was unequally ripened—the top of the old ridge being ready for the sickle—while the furrow was almost quite green.] the whole parish was let at a gross rental of L. 3000 ; and again, in 1822, on a nineteen years' lease now current, at L. 5720. It is worthy of being recorded, that the late James Ferguson, Esq. M. P. made the valuations, and let the lands at the three periods above-mentioned; and that the whole rise of rent accrued to himself, and that within a period of less than sixty years. [For these interesting details, the writer is indebted to James Mitchell, Esq. who was factor on the estate for many years. ]

Husbandry.—It may be interesting to trace the progressive improvements made in the mode of cropping. By the leases granted in 1766, the tacksmen of the larger farms were bound to sow yearly one acre with grass seeds ; half an acre with turnips; and to fallow another acre; and to lay on at least thirty bolls of lime (not shells) upon their land. They were inhibited from taking more than four white crops, besides green crop after the lime, before laying their fields down in grass. By the leases of 1803 they were restricted to the mode of cropping which then obtained in Berwickshire,—being a six course shift—and were only allowed one white crop. This was much complained of, as the lea crop was frequently destroyed by the grub; and as it was almost impossible to bring the soil so soon into a proper mould for turnips. But from this period a complete change took place in the improvement and appearance of the parish. The settlement in the parish, about this time, of a gentleman farmer from Berwickshire, no doubt gave an additional stimulus to the spirit of improvement then excited. By the leases of 1822, a seven course, consisting of three grasses, two white crops, turnips, or other green crop, and oats or bear and grass seeds, is that stipulated for and generally adhered to. This mode of cropping seems best suited to the climate and the nature of the soil, and when fairly attended to will yield the greatest returns to the tenants, with the least deterioration to the land. If wheat were generally cultivated, some alteration in the prescribed rotation would be requisite; but though the soil is well fitted for the cultivation of wheat, the climate is rather unfavourable. It is to be hoped, however, as drainage and other improvements proceed, and the mosses are freed of their stagnant water, that the climate will assume a kindlier character. The tenants are entitled, in virtue of their leases, to sea-weed or ware, and shell-sand from the shore. The shell-sand is a powerful stimulant; but it is the opinion of the best judges that it should never be applied without an adequate quantity of dung. The kinds of oats most generally cultivated are Kildrummy, Hopetoun, potato, and barley oats. Since the introduction of the early kinds of oats, especially the barley oat, the harvests have commenced much sooner than formerly. The intelligent tacksman of Lunderton, who has kept a regular record of the times of sowing and reaping for the last thirty years, states that, but for the earlier species of oats, the harvest of 1816 would have been as bad as 1782, if not worse. Main drains and ditches, hedges, and fences have been made to a considerable extent. Thorn hedges, though generally planted, have never thriven well; it were desirable that some other kind should be tried which would afford both shelter and fencing. The south part of the parish is tolerably well accommodated with roads. The northern division has long laboured under a great disadvantage in this respect, and it has been impossible for the tenants in that part of the parish, from the want of easy access to their farms at all seasons, to go on with their improvements : but this ground of complaint is in the course of being removed. The means of farther improvement, of which the soil in all parts of the parish is susceptible, would appear to he : 1. Easy access to each farm by roads serviceable at all seasons of the year. 2. Keeping the main ditches in good order so as to prevent flooding in winter. 3. Having small ditches around each field communicating with the main ditches, and open furrows so as at all times to let the surface water escape. 4. Trying the effects of furrow-draining. A manufactory of tiles for this purpose might easily be established at Inverquiny in this parish. There is abundance of brick clay, a ready supply of water, and sand at a short distance. Furrow-draining seems to hold out the only prospect of ensuring a turnip crop on the clay lands, and of rendering bone manure available for that purpose. [In the absence of furrow-drainage, there can be little doubt but the introduction of the subsoil plough would be found one of the best substitutes that could be adopted, and even to that mode of draining, when tried,—a necessary auxiliary for slackening the soil, and rendering it pervious to the surface water. The difficulty of raising a turnip crop on the clay lands is not the only hazard which the farmer has to in-.cur. There is often a failure of the after crop, from the field being puddled by the operation of removing the turnips, and from the retained water wasting the dung before the grain crop or grass can benefit by it.] 5. A very liberal application of lime, either mixed with earth as top-dressing, or ploughed or harrowed into the turnip mould. 6. Converting the money rent either wholly or in part into a grain rent, payable by an average of the fiar prices for a certain number of years. 7. Extending the leases in conformity with a seven course shift to twenty-one years, and arranging the fielding so as to secure on each farm a field of grass in seven years rest. 8. A more careful attention in sowing down grass lands, to the predilection of the different grasses for their peculiar soils. [Till the cultivation of the natural grasses be resorted to, a close, rich, and lasting sward will never be secured on the clay lands. It is, indeed, very questionable whether the advantages resulting from the overcleaning of the soil by the present system of husbandry be sufficient to compensate the extirpation of the indigenous grasses thereby occasioned. ] Encouragement given by the proprietor to trench those parts of the Link lands, about Blackwater and elsewhere, which are found to overlay a rich subsoil of black mould.

The farm buildings have been much improved within the last forty years. They belong, in general, to the tenants. Where the tenant builds, he is allowed one half-year's rent at the commencement, and another at the expiry of his lease, for walls. The outgoing tenant is paid by the proprietor or incoming tenant for the roofs, according to the valuation of tradesmen mutually chosen. The dwelling-houses on the principal farms are most of them slated, and the offices tiled.

Live-Stock.—Till within these few years, the Aberdeenshire and Buchan, and a nondescript result of crosses from these, were the only kinds of cattle reared in the parish, and little attention was paid to the improvement of stock. But of late, the practice of "breeding in and in," to which the deterioration in the size and other valuable qualities of the cattle was mainly attributable, has been abandoned, and, by the introduction of the Teeswater breed, a great improvement in the general quality of the stock has been effected. The inaptitude of the soil for turnip husbandry has been a great discouragement to the rearing of cattle in this parish, but the ready communication now opened up with the London market has given a wonderful impulse even here to this branch of rural economy. The subjoined list of live stock has been prepared with much care, and may be regarded as almost correct.

To the above list should be added 8 work oxen four years old and upwards, and about 10 four years old cattle, bought in for feeding during winter. The above enumeration, being made with reference to the winter keep, does not include the number of calves, which may average in the season about 450, nor the number of lambs, which may be estimated at 240. It may afford some idea of the agricultural state of this parish to mention, that, on a farm rented at L. 300 per annum, there are 8 work-horses, 14 cows, 22 one-year old stots, 29 two-years old, 20 three-years old, 8 swine, and 14 sheep.

Rate of Wages.—A capable farm-servant's wages for one half-year are usually from L. 6 to L. 7, but inferior hands readily engage for L. 4. The wages of female servants for the same period vary from L. 2, 10s. to L. 3, according as they are to be exclusively confined to household work, or occasionally employed in out-door labour. The practice of employing females in spreading manure and other field occupations, which obtains to a certain extent on some large farms in this parish, is objectionable on many accounts, and ought to be discontinued. The above wages are inclusive of lodging and maintenance. Male-servants who are married, in- stead of receiving their food and accommodation in the houses of their masters, have, in most cases, a free house and garden assigned to them during their period of service. They are engaged for the year at from L.6, 10s. to L.7, besides having a cow kept for them at the expense of the master, and an allowance of six and a half bolls of meal, and one-half boll of bear for malt. Day-labourers earn from 9d. to 1s. in winter, and from 1s. to 1s. 3d. in summer, with victuals. Harvest fees are, for a man, L.2, and for a female reaper, L. l, 10s. with maintenance. A wooden plough fully mounted costs L.3, 3s.; a good cart with wheels, L. 10; a harrow with tines, L. 2, 8s. Masons work here generally by the day at 1s. 6d. with victuals; tailors by the piece at from 5s. to 7s. for a coat, according to the quality, 1s. 6d. for a vest, and from 1s. 6d. to 2s. for a pair of trowsers; shoemakers generally charge from 9s. to 12s. for a pair of men's shoes ; blacksmiths work at the rate of 4d. per pound of iron, the price of the material being included : peat-casters in the season are paid by the leat of forty cart-loads, at from 17s. to L. 1 per leat, including the labour of spreading and setting the peats. There are a few poor women who are employed in knitting stockings and mits at from 2½d. to 3d. per cut of worsted. Others of this class earn a subsistence by making brooms or heather besoms at one halfpenny each. This latter trade affords a convenient opportunity for poverty to plead its wants without assuming the character of the professed mendicant, and in this way it yields a competent income to the few who are engaged in it.

Produce.—The following estimate is the nearest approximation that the writer can make to the average amount of the annual gross produce of the land in this parish. There are 5061 acres in cultivation on a seven course shift, of which

* This is perhaps rather above the average return.

Mills.—There are three mills in the parish, but to none of these are any of the farms astricted or sucken, though the tenants on Pitfour's property are bound by their leases to have their meal made at some one of the mills on the proprietor's estate. At the Stone Mill a large quantity of meal, flour, and pot-barley is annually manufactured by the tacksmen, the Messrs Clark, on their own account. In 1836, 1508 sacks of meal (of 2½ cwt. each) were sent to the London market, 314 do. to Shetland, and 200 do. were sold at home. In the same year 613 sacks of flour, and 100 do. of pot-barley, were made and sold for home consumption.

Fishery.—The salmon-fishing on the Ugie has been much injured by a bar or bank of sand, which the sea has raised at the mouth of the river, and which, by the large quantities of sea-weeds collected upon it, prevents the salmon from entering with ease, unless when a land flood has cleared a passage for them. The salmon do not come up the river before the end of April, and from that time till the end of July they are considered to be in the greatest perfection. They return to the sea in December. The proprietor of the salmon-fishing is Robert Arbuthnot, Esq. of Ugie Bank. It is let by him at present for seven years, at the average rent of L.45 per annum.

V.—Parochial Economy.

Means of Communication, &c.— There is no market-town in the parish. The nearest market-town is Peterhead, five miles distant, at which also is the nearest post-office. Besides the Kirk-town, there is a small village in the neighbourhood,—an acquisition which it would have been no disadvantage to the parish never to have possessed. The turnpike road from Peterhead to Fraserburgh traverses the whole length of the parish from south to north, on which a coach runs three times a week between these towns. The bridge over the Ugie, in the line of the turnpike, which was built in the reign of James II. of England, connects St Fergus with the parish of Peterhead.

Ecclesiastical State.—Incumbents.—In 1616, when the parish assumed its present name, Mr James Robertson was minister. He was succeeded by Mr John Robertson, but in what year cannot be ascertained. He again was succeeded by Mr Alexander Hepburn, who was deposed in 1716, for aiding and abetting a mob to proclaim the Pretender King ; and for praying for the Pretender under the title of King James VIII. After along vacancy, during which it would appear from the records of Presbytery, that the majority of the parishioners, or at least the most influential amongst them, had adhered to the ministry of Mr Hepburn, and kept possession of the church, Mr William Leslie was translated from Chapel of Garioch to St Fergus in 1728, but died soon after. In 1729, Mr James Leslie, a brother of the former incumbent, was translated from Crimond to St Fergus.[He was the father of the late and grandfather of the present Dr Leslie of Fordoun.] On the Pith September 1745, Mr Robert Garden, a licentiate of the Presbytery of Kincardine O'Neil, was admitted minister of this parish. The following extract from the session records will shew that his name and memorial ought not to perish.

["1772, Nov. 7. Died the Rev. Mr Robert Garden, minister of this parish, much regretted, who for many years had been afflicted with palsy, which made his life altogether sedentary, yet so well did he bear up under that infirmity, that he discharged the duties of his office with wonderful alacrity to the last. And though he had been obliged, on account of asthma and weakness of his limbs, to give over preaching himself, yet after sermon he always addressed his congregation with that cheerfulness and warmth which flowed from a real regard for their spiritual concerns, exhorting, admonishing, and instructing with the greatest earnestness. He was a cheerful companion, a warm hearted friend, and a zealous minister. His attachments were firm, his reproofs severe and undissembled. Though his passions wore quick, and often hurried him into extravagances (which in the latter part of his life was rather the effect of his disease, which deprived him of the power of composing his passions, and for which he was touched with real concern when they had subsided,) yet his enemies could not but acknowledge that he was an honest man and a Christian. He was the poor man's friend ; he was no man's enemy; he had his foibles, which is only to say he was a man, but he had his virtues too. In him the deportment of the gentleman and the decent gravity of the Christian were united. He abhorred to stain the latter in order to act the former. He had his natural pride., but it was always pointed to its proper object. It was what was base and unbecoming that he scorned. He loved virtue even in rags. In his confinement books were his amusement, and the Greek and Latin languages, but especially the former, were his delight. He was the linguist and the good historian—fond to hear and apt to teach. Whilst these afforded him amusement, the sacred volume taught him wisdom and cheered his hope. The Rock of Ages, the Emmanuel, was the foundation on which he built. He breathed his last, and bade adieu to earth and all its vanities, calling on God, Lord Jesus receive my spirit."]

In October 1773, Mr John Craigie [Mr Craigie possessed very popular talents as a preacher, a strong and well informed mind, and a vein of humour often extremely keen and sarcastic. The follow ing may serve as a specimen of the unsparing application of his wit, when the occasion seemed to justify it. When on trials for ordination, he thought himself rather roughly dealt with by his future brethren ; an old Greek New Testament, very much contracted, had been put into his hands, but which he contrived, however, to read with ease, and when he was desired to stop, he expressed his sense of the supposed unkind-ness he had experienced, in this caustic reply, "Well I shall do so, and if ye hae ony mair buiks which ye canna read yoursells ye'll ken wha to apply to."] was ordained minister of St Fergus, and upon his translation to Old Deer, Mr William Anderson, minister of Evie in Orkney, was translated to this parish in 1798. The present incumbent was admitted assistant and successor to the former minister on the 7th March 1822, and on the 5th March of the following year succeeded to the full possession of the benefice.

Church, &c.—The church, which was built in 1763, is conveniently situated. It is in good repair, ceiled, and furnished with three galleries. On the gallery fronting the pulpit is an excellent clock. In the year 1836, the parishioners, of their own accord, and at considerable expense, without any aid asked or received from the heritors, painted the interior of the church, walls, and wood-work, and fitted up the pulpit, precentor's desk, and front of the galleries with crimson cloth, and the windows with painted screens, so that it is now one of the neatest country churches any where to be seen. It is seated for 610. All the sittings are free, with the exception of a small portion of the area, including the pew originally appropriated to the elders, which the principal heritor lets at from 1s. 6d. to 2s. 6d. per sitting, but the amount, or an equivalent, is annually paid into the poor's funds, as afterwards stated, in the form of a donation.

The manse was built in 1766, but had an addition made to it about thirty-six years ago. [Since the above was written, the manse has been repaired and enlarged in the most handsome manner by the heritors, and is now a very commodious and comfortable dwelling.—January 1840.] It is a damp, smoky, and cold house, and too limited for the accommodation of a family. The glebe consists of between 7 and 8 acres of good arable land. The stipend is 16 chalders, half barley and meal, converted into money at the fiars prices of Aberdeenshire, and L. 8, 6s. 8d. for communion elements. There is a small chapel in the parish belonging to a Baptist congregation, which contains between 70 and 80 sittings. They have no fixed minister, but are supplied with preaching once in the six weeks or two months, by one of the itinerants of the Baptist Home Missionary Society. They meet, however, every Sabbath, when two of their own members alternately preside. The house belongs to one of themselves, and the sittings are free, but L. 1 is annually collected and paid to the owner of the chapel in name of repairs. "The number of members and hearers meeting on the Sabbath (I quote from the written report furnished to me by one of the presiding members) seldom amounts to thirty persons."

All the rest of the inhabitants attend the parish church. The average number of communicants for the last seven years is 645. Of these about 25 come from neighbouring parishes, but a like number from this parish communicate with other congregations. There are several extraordinary collections made annually in the church for charitable and religious purposes, which average from L.7 to L.9 each. In consequence of numerous local demands during last year (1836) the kirk-session were obliged to make only one collection for the Assembly's schemes, and to divide it into four parts. It amounted only to L. 12. Whatever money is raised by the kirk-session for religious objects, out of the parish, is paid into the funds of the "Presbyterial Association of Deer." The session is composed of five members and a session-clerk. Each of the elders has a separate district assigned to him, and reports, as occasion may require, on the moral and religious state of the people, and on the condition of the poor under his inspection.

Education.—The parochial is the only endowed school in the parish. For several years past an individual, who had received an education sufficient to qualify him for being a clerk, but who has been prevented by disease from prosecuting his original intentions, has opened a school in his own house for reading, writing, and arithmetic. The average number of his scholars is 15 per quarter. He is a member of the Established Church. The salary of the parochial teacher is L. 34, 4s. 4½d.; and his school fees may amount to L. 20 per annum. There are several small schools in different parts of the parish, taught by females, at which children learn the elements of reading, and in two of these knitting and sewing are taught. It is much to be wished that the heritors would grant a house and garden, or some such encouragement, to induce a competent female teacher to settle in the parish. The average number of children attending the parish school is 32 in summer, and 54 in winter. The branches taught are, English reading, English grammar, writing, arithmetic, book-keeping, Latin, geography, and mathematics. The books used are the Bible, M'Culloch's Lessons, first and second series; Lennie and Rae's English Grammars; Stewart's Geography; Gray, Joyce, and Ingram's Arithmetic; Hutton's Mathematics; Morrison's Book-keeping; Butter's Etymological Spelling-Book, and Wood's Etymological Guide. Poor people find it difficult to furnish their children with the requisite school-books, and there is no common fund out of which this deficiency can be supplied. The teacher endeavours, as far as possible, to meet this exigency; but it is still matter of regret that some provision should not be made for supplying poor children with the requisite apparatus for prosecuting their education. The intellectual method of teaching is pursued in the parish school. The Bible is daily read as a devotional exercise, and the scholars examined on the passage read; and Monday forenoon of every week is exclusively devoted to religious instruction, of which exercises on the Shorter Catechism form a principal part. The schoolmaster, who for thirty years faithfully discharged the duties of his office, entered into an arrangement with "Dick's Trustees," about two years ago, to employ an assistant, upon whom the management of the school has since devolved. The schoolmaster retains his salary, with an addition from the "Dick Fund" of not less than L. 12 per annum. The assistant is entitled to the fees, which amounted last year to L. 25, 11s. 2d., and to the annual allowance from the Dick Bequest, the last payment of which was about L. 27, 15s. The school-fees payable per quarter are, for Latin, 6s.; for arithmetic, geometry, and book-keeping, 4s.; for English reading, and writing, including English grammar and geography, 3s. 6d.; for English alone, 2s. 6d.; for Greek and the higher branches of mathematics, 10s. 6d. There are no young people in the parish between the ages of six and fifteen who cannot read, or who are not learning to read. There are only two individuals above the age of fifteen who are unable to read, but one of these is incapacitated from learning by an organic defect; and unless a few old people, all above that age have been taught to write. There are no parts of the parish so remote from the school as to prevent attendance on account of distance, but the state of the roads keeps many of the younger children from giving any thing like regular attendance in winter.

Mortified Money.—Upwards of one hundred years ago, Mr Robert Cheyne, schoolmaster of St Fergus, left in trust to the kirk-session 100 merks Scots, the interest of which to be applied "to the education of poor scholars at the school, who are well disposed, and the elders to see to their education." This small fund is still administered in accordance with the benevolent intentions of the donor.

Sabbath Schools.—There are five of these in different parts of the parish ; the greatest number attending which, at any one period in the course of the year, is 120. The books used are the Bible, the Shorter, and Mother's, and Watt's Catechisms, Chalmers's References, and Gall's Helps. These schools have most of them been in operation since 1822, and, there is reason to believe, have been instrumental in ensuring a more regular attendance at church on the part of the young—in preventing Sabbath desecration—in leading to an early acquaintance with the word of God—and in laying the foundation of future usefulness in life. They are all superintended by the minister, and the teachers belong to the Established Church.

During a considerable part of the year, a Bible class is taught by the minister in the church, immediately after divine service on the Sabbath. It is intended for the benefit of servants of both sexes, of young people who have left the Sabbath schools, and of all who propose to offer themselves as candidates for admission to the ordinance of the Lord's Supper. It is well and willingly attended. The great drawback upon its beneficial operation is that most reprehensible practice which obtains among servants of a certain class, of changing their parochial residence every half year.

Library.—A parish library was instituted in 1829. It commenced with a capital of about L.30, raised by shares of 5s. each, and a few donations. In addition to the above sum, the committee of management afterwards borrowed L. 10. It is now in a very prosperous condition. It is managed by a committee of ten individuals, annually elected or re-elected by the shareholders, and the minister of the parish, who is ex officio preses. The shareholders pay 1s. per annum for reading; persons not shareholders, 1s. 6d. The shares were originally 5s.; they are now 7s, If a shareholder does not pay 1s. annually for reading, he forfeits his interest in the library. The annual income is upwards of L. 6, of which L. 1 is paid to a librarian, who attends on the first Monday of every month to take in and give out books, and who is responsible for the state in which the books are kept; the rest is applied to the purchase of new books. The number of volumes is upwards of 300, but many of these are expensive works. The books are well selected, and consist of historical, biographical, scientific, literary, and religious publications. Novels, political pamphlets, and books of a professedly controversial character, are expressly excluded by the regulations.

The taste for reading, inspired and gratified by this institution, is yearly increasing in the parish; and while the rising generation are pressing around the tree of knowledge, it is matter of congratulation that they are here furnished with its ripe and wholesome fruit, and not tempted to pluck that which is green and poisonous.

Savings' Bank.—A savings' bank was established in 1824. The highest sum to which the collective deposits have at any one time amounted is L. 760. The average of the annual investments for the last five years is L. 190, and of the sums withdrawn, L. 110. The investments are made by male and female servants, tradesmen, and crofters. Some female servants have upwards of L. 30 deposited—the accumulated amount of annual savings. The only drawback upon the beneficial influence of the savings' bank here has been the low rate of interest allowed on deposits. The money is lodged in the Aberdeen Bank. Many are slow to believe that the small amount of bank interest is overbalanced by the security afforded for the principal; and it is apprehended that not a few who are in the habit of saving, are tempted by the prospect of greater gains, to entrust their hard-won earnings to hands from which they have but a slender chance of ever recovering them.

Poor and Parochial Funds.—The average number of persons receiving parochial aid is 56; and the average sum allotted to each is about L. 1, 8s. per annum. The regular distributions are made quarterly—but intermediate aid is advanced occasionally, as cases of urgent necessity occur. The annual amount of monies available for behoof of the poor of the parish is from church collections, on an average L. 56, from hire of hearse and mort-cloth belonging to the kirk-session, and from desk money for proclamation of banns, L. 4 ; from interest of L. 800 of funds, L.32; and from donations from the heritors (Mr Ferguson, L. 5, and Mr Cumine, L. 1,) L. 6.

The Hon. Mrs Ferguson of Pitfour gives an annual donation of blankets and flannels for the more destitute of the poor on Pit-four property; and the family at Rattray are very attentive, by domiciliary visits, and seasonable supplies of food and clothing to that portion of the poor who are located on their lands in this parish.

A Lunatic Fund was lately established under the management of the kirk-session, to which the heritors contributed last year L. 7, 16s. There is only one lunatic deriving benefit from it, who had obtained a legal claim upon the poor's funds in this parish by industrial residence. He is kept in the asylum in Aberdeen at an annual expense of L. 17, 18s. including maintenance and clothing. The fund is at present completely exhausted.

It would be a great improvement on the present mode of administering relief to the poor to convert the monies quarterly distributed to each, either wholly or in part, at the discretion of the kirk-session, into meal. This method would have been adopted before now in this parish, but for the want of a girnal. The session cannot afford, in the present state of their funds, to build a house for this purpose, and, unless the heritors should compliment them with one, the plan is impracticable. But what calls loudly for such a mode of distribution, is the well ascertained fact, that several of the paupers are in the habit of expending the greater part of their quarterly receipts from the parish funds on tea and tobacco, and other luxuries, while they calculate on the bounty of the charitable for the necessaries of life—thus aggravating, by the means intended to mitigate, the evils of their condition. It is matter of hearty regret that that spirit of independence which disdains to subsist on any other exertion than its own, and which was formerly the boast and ornament of our peasantry, is now far less characteristic of the class—and to receive parochial relief is consequently not considered so humiliating and degrading as it was in a bygone generation. The writer has, however, witnessed many cases of the utmost unwillingness to receive the aid, which was but too manifestly needed, and where the greatest delicacy was required in the ministrations of charity, not to injure the fine feelings which had survived the withering influence of the most desolating poverty. There are no travelling beggars belonging to the parish, but some of the more necessitous of the paupers on the roll make frequent applications for meal, and milk, and other necessaries to their better conditioned neighbours. The sympathies of the people are daily besieged by sturdy beggars from other parts of the country, who drain off, by their importunity, much of those supplies which would more properly be made to refresh the habitations of our indwelling poor. Various attempts have been made to rid the parish of this nuisance—but that which seems to promise the only complete remedy would be the employment of a sufficient number of constables to perambulate the parish. This was partially attempted, but failed from the want of funds to keep up an adequate vigilance. From the interest which the landed proprietors, in general, have in the maintenance of the parochial funds, and the means of their increase, it might be an experiment worth their trial to assess themselves, in their several counties, according to their valued rent, in an annual sum, to be augmented by parochial contributions, for the purpose of organizing a constabulary of competent force to put down the evil.

Inns and Alehouses.—There are no prisons and no fairs held in the parish, and it were most desirable that the same negative reply could be returned in regard to alehouses; but of these, besides a small inn, which affords accommodation to travellers, there are three, and these all connected with shops where spirituous liquors are retailed.

Fuel.—Peat and turf, of which there is an abundant supply from the mosses in the parish, are the chief materials used for fuel. The better conditioned classes mix coals with the peat, which makes a more lasting and pleasant fire. A load of peats costs 1s. 6d Coals are procured from Peterhead, at the average price of 1s. 3d. per barrel of 1½ cwt. Most of the tenants, instead of employing their own servants, as formerly, to dig and prepare their peats, employ a peat-caster, who digs, sets, and dries them at the price already stated per leat.

Miscellaneous Observations.

The number of farms and crofts in the parish is 203 : of these there are 95 under L. 10 of rent; 56 under L. 20; 25 under L. 50; 12 under L. 100; 7 under L. 150; 2 under L. 200; 3 under L. 300 ; 3 above L. 300.

From a register kept by Mr Logan at Lunderton, in this parish, from 1806 to 1835, it appears that the earliest day when he began sowing, was 1st March 1832, and the latest, 16th April 1810; that the earliest day when he ended sowing was 25th March 1822, and the latest 28th April 1821 and 1828; that the earliest day when he began reaping was 4th August 1826; the latest from some of the years not being noted, cannot be accurately ascertained; but it is stated in the MS. sent to me, that the harvest of 1812 was the worst in the whole series, and that the finest seed-time was in 1825, when sowing was begun on the 22d March, and concluded on the 8th April.

The principal changes which have taken place in the state and circumstances of the parish since the last Statistical Account was drawn up, and the means of still farther improvement, have already been adverted to in the present report. The fields are better cultivated, the stack-yards are more fully stored, the horses and cattle are of a larger size and finer quality, and kept in better condition than they were forty years ago, and all the implements of husbandry are improved in their order, their construction, and their value. The houses are more commodious and clean, and much better furnished. The people are better informed, and every way better conditioned. Poverty has increased, but so have the means of mitigating it, and that, too, in more than an equal ratio. A farmer who died about three years ago, and who had brought up fifteen children, left upwards of L. 5000, wholly amassed by his own industry. At the time the last Statistical Account was written, the number of the poor on the roll was 30, and the fund at interest for their behoof was only L. 120; the number is now on an average 56, but the funds bearing interest amount to L. 800. At that period there was only one thrashing-machine in the parish, now there is scarcely a farm, or at least very few, without one. In short, the extension of cultivation, and an improved mode of husbandry—the formation of the turnpike road—the planting of trees—the erection of a new and commodious school-house—the practice lately introduced of exporting cattle—and the institution of Sabbath schools, of a library, and savings' bank—maybe referred to as indicative of very important alterations.

Drawn up February 1837,—
Revised January 1840.

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