PRESBYTERY OF DEER, SYNOD OF ABERDEEN.
THE REV. ALEXANDER SIMPSON, MINISTER.
I.—Topography and Natural History.
Extent, &c.—The parish is about seven miles from
east to west, and from two to three miles from north to south. It was
erected into a parish in 1627, one division of it having belonged to
Rathen, and the other to Fraserburgh. It is bounded by these two parishes,
and also by that of Lonmay, Deer, and New Deer. The small stream of water
called the North Ugie runs through the parish from east to west, and joins
the other branch called the South Ugie about six miles below Strichen;
and, both united, fall into the sea about a mile north of Peterhead.
There are throughout the parish a few spots of good
land, but in general it is not of rich quality. There is no parish better
supplied with moss for fuel. Little coal is used, and when used, the
supply is from Fraserburgh. There is excellent granite for building, of
which Strichen House, and the houses in Mormond village, are a fair
specimen. There was formerly limestone worked, but it has now been given
up, being of indifferent quality. Strichen House, which was built in 1821,
and is among the largest private dwellings in the county, is surrounded by
thriving wood of considerable value, particularly some fine old trees,
which have been planted more than one hundred years.
II.— Civil History.
There is no residing heritor. With the exception of
Mill of Adziel, a small spot of about 15 acres, the whole parish is the
property of Lord Lovat, whose estate of Strichen comprehends also nearly
900 acres of the adjoining parishes of Fraserburgh and Old Deer, and whose
constant residence is Beaufort Castle, Inverness-shire.
The most elevated part of the parish is the hill of
Mormond, 800 feet above the level of the sea, and which gives name to the
village. A considerable part of this hill is in the parish of Strichen,
and it afforded a station some years ago, for the gentlemen employed by
Government to take the trigonometrical survey of England and Scotland.
Parochial Registers.—There are some old registers of the kirk-session,
as far back as 1676, and it appears a register had been kept, from 1701 to
1735, of marriages, and baptisms, and minutes of kirk-session. After that
time, till 1785, (with the exception of the insertion of baptisms), no
register appears to have been kept; or, if there had been any, they must
be lost. From these early registers, it appears that the Presbyterian form
of worship had been always observed. Since the year 1701, there have been
four incumbents, including the present, viz. Mr Udny, settled in 1701; Mr
Smith, 1748; Mr Anderson, 1785, and who died in 1806.
There are three medical practitioners in, and near the
village, and the senior of them has practised with success for the long
period of thirty-eight years.
The people resident in the village, and throughout the
parish, are, in general, healthy ; and some of them have reached a great
age, being upwards of ninety. They are distinguished for their moral and
correct conduct, and their orderly and industrious habits. They are
constant in their attendance on religious ordinances, strictly observe the
Sabbath, and have always shown a laudable desire for the religious
education of their children, and not a few have had the benefit of an
university education. In proof of this, there are alive at present, three
clergymen of the Established Church, having the charge of parishes, and
five probationers, all natives of this parish.
The extent of the parish is in all about 7916 acres, of
which about 5004 acres are arable, about 800 acres under wood, and about
2612 acres uncultivated and roads, all Scotch measure. The old valued rent
of the parish is L.1875 Scots; the present rental, including the feu-duties
in the villages, and a valuation of the lands in the natural possession of
the proprietor, amounts to about L.4170 Sterling. There are none of the
farms throughout the parish of large extent. With the exception of a few,
they rent from L.15 to L.50; and there are a good many small crofters. The
land near the village rents from L.2 to L.4. The common rotation is three
years in grass; then two grain crops; then turnips or fallow; followed by
a white crop, and sown with rye and clover seeds. The grain generally sown
is oats; there is very little bear or big. The whole crop is cut down with
the scythe. The culture of potatoes and turnips is now greatly increased,
and, for securing a good crop of the latter, bone manure has of late years
been found of great service. The breed of cattle is much improved, and the
abundance of turnips during the winter, and good pasture through the
summer, enable the farmers to bring them to market in good condition.
Means of Communication.—The turnpike road, from
Aberdeen to Fraserburgh, passes through the east end of the parish, about
three miles from the village. On this road, there is a mail-coach daily.
The turnpike road, from Peterhead to Banff, passes through the village of
Mormond, which is about half way between. From Fraserburgh, to which also
there is a turnpike road, the farmers are in the way of driving shell
lime, bone dust, and manure. A great proportion of the grain, which is
disposed of, is shipped there, being the nearest port.
Aberdeen is the principal town in the county, and, with
this place, there is constant intercourse by a daily post, and a weekly
carrier. A post-office has been long established Mormond village began to
be built in 1764, by direction of Lord Strichen, the proprietor, then one
of the Judges of the Court of Session. It is regularly built, and laid off
in streets. A good number of the houses are slated, and are neat and
commodious. The respectable appearance of those who are resident in it,
their quiet and industrious habits, have been observed by all strangers
passing through the village. There are in it a good many shoemakers, house
carpenters, masons, blacksmiths, and tailors; and the Messrs Richards and
Co. employ a good many-weavers.
Ecclesiastical State.—-The old church, built at the
time of Strichen being erected into a parish, being found too small, and
in a state of decay, was taken down in 1799, and a new one erected that
year, in every respect commodious and comfortable, and seated to contain
from 900 to 1000 people. All the seats are rented, and paid for yearly.
The manse is very old, having been built in 1748. Since that time, a small
addition has been made to it.
The offices are slated, and are in good repair. The
teinds of the parish were exhausted more than forty years ago; and, to
make up the living of the present incumbent to L.150, he has an allowance
annually from the Exchequer. The glebe, including the garden and site for
office houses, is just six acres, of rather indifferent quality of land.
The fifteen acres of ground, mentioned in former Statistical Account of
the parish as in the possession of the minister in lieu of augmentation,
and which was considered part of his living, do not now belong to him.
There was no regular deed of mortification, and many years ago, possession
was resumed; and the present incumbent now pays rent for it annually to
the proprietor. Along both sides of the approach leading to the manse,
also on part of his glebe and around the garden, the present incumbent has
planted trees, which are thriving, and add greatly to the beauty of the
Education.—There is only one parochial school,
which is attended, during summer and winter, by from thirty to sixty
scholars. The schoolmaster has taught thirty-nine years. His emoluments
are, the maximum salary, the school fees, Dick's Bequest, and his
allowance and perquisites as session-clerk. The proprietor of the parish,
about forty years ago, resumed possession of the dwelling-house, of two
storeys, with eight acres of land, mentioned in former Statistical
Account, and the schoolmaster now resides in a house under the same roof
with the school. There is a school in the village for girls, where are
taught reading, writing, English grammar, needle work, and music; and
three other schools, for very young children, taught by females, two of
which are at some distance from the village.
A Sabbath School has been taught for some years, in the
Town-Hall of the village, by two of the elders, under the superintendence
of the minister, and assisted by several other teachers, and the number
attending has sometimes reached 120. Another Sabbath school is taught in
the east end of the parish, by two elders, and has been well attended.
Of the population, which exceeds 1800, there are not
thirty Dissenters, of all denominations, taken together, throughout the
parish. Besides the private examinations, and the instruction communicated
at the Sabbath schools, as many of the congregation, as are desirous to
attend, have an opportunity of doing so once a-year, at the annual
examination of the people in the parish. Families, to the number of eight
or ten, are called in, and, at these examinations, which are well
attended, are seen young and old, from seven to seventy years of age.
Library.—There is a well selected library, and the
books are lent out, on payment of a small sum annually.
Poor and Parochial Funds.—The number of poor on the
roll of the kirk-session varies from 50 to 60, besides from 10 to 20 more
who get occasional aid in money, meal, blankets, and body-clothes. They
consist principally of aged females, who are very destitute, and, though
they were able, could not earn sixpence a week. The income for their
support depends chiefly on the collections made in the church. The capital
stock belonging to the session yields annually about L.16. The amount of
the collections, including three extraordinary ones, and what is given at
the time of dispensing the Lord's Supper, may amount to about L.75
Sterling. To this may be added a small sum for the use of the mortcloth.
Of late years, the expenditure has increased so much, that the kirk-session
have drawn largely on their small capital, and every sixpence of this
capital would have been expended years ago, had not several benevolent
individuals belonging to the parish, and now deceased, made liberal
bequests to the session funds; and the mortification by the late truly
benevolent Mr Burnett of Dens has been of great service. In the year 1807,
the first of the present incumbent, the expenditure was L.53, 4s. 3d.
During the years 1837 and 1838, it has each year exceeded L.160 Sterling.
The collections for the poor on the Lord's day have been always liberal,
and to the different calls made upon the congregation for aid to the India
Mission, Church Extension, Highland Schools, and other benevolent objects,
they have been ever ready to respond. On two different occasions, a good
many years ago, when, from the deficiency of the crop, the price of meal
rose to L1, 10s. the boll, and even to L1, 16s., a call was made upon
them, by intimating an extraordinary collection, for reducing the price to
the poor; and, on one of these occasions, the amount was L.20, and, on the
other, L. 18.
Friendly Society.—There is in the village a
Friendly Society. On payment of a small sum annually, the funds yield some
aid to old men, above the age of sixty, and to widows. There is also a
Mason Lodge, and a lodge of Odd Fellows.
Banks.—A Savings' Bank was established some years
ago, and the deposits amount to upwards of L.1000. The North of Scotland
Banking Company have an agent in the village.
Town-House.—There is a very neat town-house, with a
spire, built in 1816, by direction of Mrs Fraser of Strichen, then
residing at Strichen House, her son, the present Lord Lovat, being then a
minor, and having just succeeded to the large property of the Lovat
family, in Inverness-shire.
Inns.—In the village there are three inns.
Fairs.—There are five annual fairs, for the sale of
horses and cattle, in February, May, July, August, and November. The
market in February was established for the sale of yarn, but there is now
very little flax raised, either in this or the neighbouring parishes.
Drawn up February 1840.
Revised May 1842.