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parish, but at the old constitutional place of con-
vention, where onSunday alltheparishionersmeetfor
instruction in doctrine, and on week days for being
heckled on the question book."

And that the minister and heritors of Glenbervie
thought that it ought to be at the Kirk will appear
from the following extract regarding one of those
ecclesiastical visitations already referred to.

The Kirk of Glenbervie was visited by " my
Lord Archbishop of St Andrews and remanent
members thereof" on June 1, 1681, the Rev.
Robert Irvine being minister.

" Being asked concerning their schoolmaster
answered that they had one who had a competent
maintenance ; and were satisfied with his carriage
and attendance on his calling, and that they were
about to bring the school from Itrumlithic to the Kirk."
The schoolmaster at this time was one


and according to an account given was said to
" acquiesce in present church government." The
removal of the school from the village does not
appear to have been carried out, although in the
year 1723, and the following year, there occurs the
phrase ' echoolmaster at Glenbervie," regarding
two schoolmasters who were each appointed Session

Who he was or how long he remained school-
master at Glenbervie, we have now no means of
knowing, but forty years later we come upon the
appointment of Mr John Sime, schoolmaster at
Glenbervie, as Session Clerk. For this office his
salary as appears from the list of disbursements
was 3 6s 8d, although we cannot give anything
but a mere conjecture as to his stipend as school-
master. Evidently the duties of the kirk officer


were held in higher estimation by the Kirk Session
than those of Session Clerk, for we find that the
former received t iu addition to the fees commonly
given at that time to the officer either in money
or kind.

In 1667 the various Presbyteries were required to
send up to the Archbishop of St Andrews the names
of the various schoolmasters under their jurisdiction
for his license to teach.

Previous to 1696 the salary of the schoolmaster
was commonly provided for by the kirk, but
subsequent to that it was ordained that the
" heritors in every parish meet and settle and
modify a salary to a schoolmaster which shall not be
less than one hundred merks, norabovetwo hundred."
Assuming the stipend to have been a fair average
between these two extremes, he would have received
from the heritors about 8 sterling. Of course
there were the fees and other " casualties which
formerly belonged to the readers and the clerks of
the Kirk-Session," also to be included in the total

The next schoolmaster that we find mention of
was one


He was appointed Session Clerk on June 12th,
1725, and continued in these offices till at least the
year 1730. After him there was Patrick Tod, who,
as usual, filled the offices of Session Clerk as well as
teacher, but regarding him nothing else is known.

Not only did Kirk-Sessions look after the element-
ary education of their own parish, but they also did
something in the way of giving the lad of

the means of reaching the University.

In 1645 the General Assembly made a law that
every Presbytery consisting of twelve Kirks should
provide a bursar every year at the college that
the bursar should have at least 100 Scots a year
that the provision for the bursar should be " taken
forth of the Kirk penalties," and that the sum re-
quired for his maintainance at college should be
raised by a proportional stent of the several
Kirks in the 1'resbytery, according to the
number of the communicants. "Where a Kirk was
without spot or blemish, there consequently could
be nothing for him, if his bursary was to come out
of the penalties exacted.


The stent imposed on Glcnbervie was 4 Scots
per annum, and this sum appears over and over
again in the list of disbursements, as having been
paid to " Mr Thomas Ogilvie, Presbytery bursar."
He was " Chaplain at Glenbervie," and on May 31st,
1724, was elected Session Clerk, as the following
extract shows: "The Session met, and after
prayer Mr Thomas Ogilvie, Chaplain at Glenbervie,
was chosen Session Clerk, having promised secrecy
as to everything transacted in ye Session." He
must have satisfied the Presbytery as to his diligence
and progress, for during three successive years at
least, he was the recipient of their bounty. And
we may assume that the Presbytery of Fordoun
would loyally carry out the injunctions of the
General Assembly of 1705, and "appoint a Com-
mittee of their number, yearly to examine . . .
. . such within their bounds as go to Colleges
with an eye to bursaries, and suffer none to proceed
but such as are very forward, and good proficients,
and of good behaviour ; and that ministers recom-
mend none to bursaries but such as are well quali-

Other two bursars mentioned in the Glenbervie
Records are a Mr Pyott, and one David Burn.

In addition to the fixed stipend of the heritors the
schoolmaster received the school fees. These were
fixed by the Kirk Session and heritors. But in
1803 an act was passed by which the fees were to
be fixed by the minister and heritors from time to
time, but at intervals of not less than twenty-five

Towards the end of the Eighteenth Century the
fees exacted in Glenbervie, were, per quarter, for
English and writing, Is 6d ; for arithmetic, 2s ; and
for Latin, 2s 6d.

These charges certainly appear very moderate,
and yet we are told on good authority that " Even
much of these small fees are not paid, so that the
yearly amount of the fees is commonly much less
than what one would expect from the number of
scholars." No doubt there would be some then, as
now, unable to pay for their children's education,
and it may be asked were these left untaught. The
Kirk Session in such cases were accustomed to pay
for their education, and entries to that effect occur
in the records of the parish.

In addition to a salary, the schoolmaster had, as
was usual, a dwelling-house, and it would appear

from Sinclair's Statistical Account that "a new
schoolhoiisc and a dwelling-house for the master "
had a Ixi ut IT'.K) been built. This one, known as the
old parish school, was removed at the alteration and
extension of the present parish school. The number of
scholars in average attendance then was about 10. The
teacher had the maximum salary of 200 merks, and
with the fees and other emoluments amounting to
over 20 made a total living of over 45, which con-
trasted favourably with others in the county
similarly situated.

Towards the end of the eighteenth century the
schoolmaster of the parish was the

He was bom at Laurencekirk in 1769. He studied
at Marischal College, Aberdeen, where he graduated
in 1792. He acted as schoolmaster in Glenbervie
till 1821, when he was ordained as assistant and
successor to the minister of Garvock. It was not
till 183G, however, that he entered on the full
charge of the parish. He lived till 1868, dying on
the 17th Nov., of that year, in the ninety-ninth
year of his age. Mr Charles was distinguished for his
strong attachment to Presbyterian principles, and
in support of these, published in 1855,
" The Protestant's Handbook." He was not
unmindful either of his native parish or
of the one in which he was so long schoolmaster.
To the Kirk Session of Laurencekirk he left 50 for
the education of poor children in the parish,
and a similar sum to the Kirk Session of Glenbervie
for a like purpose. This was managed by the
School Board of Gleubcrvie after the passing of the
1872 Act, and now again, since all elementary
education is free, it has reverted into the hands of
the minister and Kirk- Session, who apply the
interest of the bequest to the promotion of the
principles of religion amongst the young people of
the parish, in accordance with the expressed will of
the testator.

Mr Charles was succeeded by


who was born at Corgebanld in the neighbouring
parish of Fordoun. ^HIs f other and brother were
for a long time tenants of that farm. In connection
with the Ten Years' Conflict which culminated in
the Disruption his brother David became famous.
He was educated for the ministry, and became the


elect of the congregation of Marnoch, who rejected
the nominee of the patron. Mr Henry of Glen-
bervie is said to have been a man of gentle
temperament and unpretending nature. When he
gave up teaching he returned to his native parish,
where he spent the remainder of his days.

Mr Henry's successor was the


who was chosen as schoolmaster by the heritors in
1861. Mr Main graduated at Marischal College,
Abereeen, having been a student under the famous
Dr Melvin. He was the last of the parochial
teachers of Glenbervie, and for more than twenty
years was a faithful and able teacher. Many of his
pupils have risen to good positions. He occasion-
ally preached in neighbouring parishes, being a
licentiate of the Church of Scotland, as many of the
old parochial teachers of Scotland were. It was
whilst away officiating thus that he contracted a
cold which developed into chronic-rheumatism, and
thus occasioned his retiral from active work. He
retired in 1882, on a pension granted him by the
School Board, and now lives in the village of

The later schoolmasters have been (1) John Rose,
M.A., (1882-1888) ; (2) George Henderson Kinnear,

In addition to the parish school, there was a small
adventure school carried on under a succession of
teachers at the hamlet of Tannochy. After the
passing of the Education Act in 1872, another
school was built by the School Board at Lawgavcn.
The scholars attending it are drawn from" the upper
districts of the parisn. The average number in
attendance is about 40. Teachers since its com-
mencement : (1) Thomas Mitchell, (2) David
Jamie, (3) Alexander Duthie, (4) Archibald Wilson,
(5) Alexander Clark.

A contrast between the past and present state of
education may fittingly be drawn here.

The State Period which dates from 1872 has now
run for almost a quarter of a century, and many
educational changes have taken place during that

For the first few years after the passing of the
Act the new administrative body the School
Board in most parishes had to set about getting
the statutory accommodation for the influx of


scholars who previously had come and gone to
school nt their own sweet will, but who now were
swept into the net of the compulsory officer. In-
deed, it might truly be said that the sound of the
instructor's voice could not be heard above the
noise of the workman's hammer. Buildings con-
sequently were raised in many cases at great
expense, and proved worthy temples for the in-
struction of childhood. What a strange contrast
was afforded between these and the dingy, dark, and
often damp hovels into which the children of the parish
were crowded ! Many of the elementary schools now
would have been accounted good enough for colleges
and seminaries of the higher branches of learning.
The bright, cheery, warm, and well-ventilated
schoolrooms of the present day have an inspiriting
effect on both teachers and taught, and this is as it
should be, considering the vastly different con-
ditions under which the present-day education is
carried on. The demands on both teacher and
taught are greater ; the standard of attainment is
raised ; the work must be more skilfully and meth-
odically carried through. Instead of the modicum
of reading, writing, and arithmetic, which formed
the staple of the intellectual food of the schools of
old, we have now a multiplicity of subjects which
crave the attention of the pupils.

But with all the boasted advantages of our com-
pitlsory system, it is not to be denied that it brought
in its train, many disadvantages which were absent
from the excellent parcchial system. That the old
parochial schoolmasters of Scotland did a noble
work for their country, is not to be denied, but it
must be remembered that there was an elasticity in
their system, which left them free to develop the
bent of the individual child. They were not
"cribbed, cabined, and confined" by rules and
regulations, as the code-driven teacher of the
present dtvy. With the advent of the
compulsory system came also the vicious and hurt-
ful method of payment by results on the individual
passes, which all thinking men now admit to be
wrong, but which probably suggested itself to the
mind of its author, Mr Robert Lowe (afterwards
Lord Sherbrooke), as the most practical method of
satisfying the- British public that it was getting full
value for its money. It has, however, been said on
authority that a higher hand than Mr Lowe's was
responsible for this one of the most eminent


statesmen of the century, then a colleague of Mr

l>ut wiser councils now prevail. The long dreary
inarch through the uninviting educational wilder-
ness is nearly at an end, and both teachers and
taught arc now within reach of the Promised Land,
which, if it does not yield abundant supplies
of intellectual milk and honey will, at least, afford
to the youthful educational pilgrims of the next
generation a refreshing attraction andinterestdenied
to their predecessors during the first two decades of
the compulsory period.

The contrast in the manner and methods of the
inspection of schools then and now, is also very
striking. Prior to the passing of the Education
Act of 1872, it is well known that nearly all the
schools in the country were inspected annually by a
committee of the Presbytery. As long ago as 1595
Presbyteries were enjoined by the General Assembly
' to take order for visitation and reformation of
grammar schooles in touus within their bounds ;
and to appoint some of their counsell to attend
carefullie 011 their schooles and to assist the maister
in discipline."

This visitation of the parish school was esteemed
by many ministers an important part of their work,
and by none more so than the parish ministers of
Glenbervie during the last hundred years. Though
it is not to be denied that the inspection by the
Presbytery was less skilful and thorough than
under the present system by the inspectors of the
Education Department, nevertheless they were to
many a pleasant time, and in the majority of cases
had a beneficial effect on the character and
discipline of the school.

The elderly people amongst us yet recall with
pride some of the incidents of these red-letter days
in their scholastic career. It was an event-
ful day with some. The exhibition of
intellectual strength finished, the young Goliaths
would repair to the village green to give proof of
their physical prowess, and if the pupils of a neigh-
bouring educational establishment could be met
with on their march a pitched battle ensued, which
if it left no serious consequences behind, at least
supplied the place of the manual and physical
exercises of the present day instruction.

But we have changed all that. The Government
Inspector pays his annual visit, like the spring


flowers, only to return again next year, and leaving
the teacher to perform " the daily round, the com-
moii task," under the supervision of the
Parish School Board. And it may not
be long ere their functions will be
transferred to the recently-formed Parish Councils.
The old order chaugeth. School Boards will have
their day and cease to be, and on the whole vrhen
the history of the School Board system, comes to
be written, it will be said of them that they did
their work well, although here and there over
the land, individual members, especially in the
early days of the system, succeeded only in expos-
ing their own ignorance of educational methods
and administration.

Amongst the other changes in our educational
system, free education has also come. There was
not, as some have maintained, universal free edu-
cation in the olden time, although the Kirk through
her Presbyteries and Kirk- Sessions made provision
for the education of poor children. Teachers
were obliged by the Act of 1803 "to
teach such poor children of the parish as shall
be recommended by the heritors and minis-
ters at any parochial meeting." Thus, so far as she
was able, did the Kirk long ago make education
compulsory, and free to the poor.

In education, as in many other departments of
life and work, the present is a transition period.
Many educational changes are in the air. The or-
ganisation of the various branches of education re-
quires to be completed and co-ordinated. To do
this successfully, and work out on historical Hues the
fullest development of our splendid system of educa-
tion, something more is required than the application
of the mechanical tests and appliances of the present
day. Problems affecting both teacher and taught
will require to be solved, and these may
best be viewed with the historical eye.
Artists, it is said, learn much from a study of the
old masters, and the architects of our educational
fabric may also glean from the methods and practice
of these old school guardians many a useful and
suggestive lesson. We doubt not but that this is being
done at the present day. It only remains for all
in their srvrral departments to imitate, in so far as
present day circumstances will permit, the
enthusiasm and the wise foresight which marked
the actions of the reforming fathers of our cducu-


tional system, and having done this we may safely
leave its keeping to future generations assured that
they, as we, will appreciate their patriotic labours,
and " rise up and call them blessed."



The present age is not conducive to the produc-
tion of "characters." The restless spirit of the
age, the rapid means of communication, and the
spread of education are all tending to wipe out
from society those individuals who were found more
or less in every parish and town, and whose eccen-
tricities of character or oddities of manner singled
them out from their fellows as being in one way or
other remarkable. They were interesting objects
of study to the observer of human nature, and gave
a variety to the outward aspects of life. But this
type of humanity is passing away, and in the future
will become more rare, and may henceforth be
known only in the pages of the novelist or his-

Glenbervie, in common with other parishes had
its worthies, and in the hope that a glimpse into
their ways and character may prove of interest we
here subjoin a few notes on some of them.


was born in the parish of Glenbervie in 17531 His
father was a devoted adherent of the hapless Jaco-
bites, and Charles himself was named after the
young Pretender, " Bonnie Prince Charlie." The
whole family, indeed, seem to have been staunch
Episcopalians and Jacobites. Jean Stiyeii, in whose
house in Stonehavcn meetings" were held after the
destruction of the Episcopal Chapel by the bloody
< himberland was probably an aunt of Charles Stivcn.
It was at this time that the Episcopal ministers of
Stonehaven, Drumlithie, and other places were put
cm trial for holding worship in any place at which
more tlwn five persons did assemble. For this it is
well known they were confined in the Tolbooth of
Stout-haven for six months during the winter of

It was not, however, in connection with Episco-
pacy that Charles Stiven became famous. He was
the maker of the famous Laurcncckirk snuff-boxes


and that delight of childhood the " totum." In
those days both males and females indulged in the
luxury of snuff-taking, and Charles ministered to
the wants of the Glenbervie folk in the matter of
snuff boxes, for a good number of years. But hia
fame as a snuff-box-maker spread. The famous
Lord Gardeustone of Laurencekirk heard of him,
and being an ardent votary of the snuff box, diaries
was induced by him to go to Laurencekirk about the
year 1783 and thus give to Laurencekirk the reputa-
tion over the whole world for excellent snuff boxes.
The peculiarity of the boxes lay in the concealed spring
and the wooden pin, and Charles henceforth devoted
his talents to the perfection of these. Indeed, such
a thriving trade was carried on that three establish-
ments were set up for the manufacture of snuff
boxes, but the Stiveus, father and son, not only
survived the other two but also added other
industries to their establishment, when the demand
for snuff boxes became not so great, owing to a
change of opinion as to the desirability of snuff
taking. In the old stagecoach, days the Stivens
held the booking office, and care was taken to duly
display articles of their workmanship of all shapes
and sizes to tempt the passengers.

In due time the firm was honoured with the
appointment of boxmakers to Her Majesty ; and on
more than one occasion was "commanded" to
appear at Balmoral with specimens of their handi-
craft for inspection by Her Majesty.

But whilst the wants of the adult population were
duly attended to, he also gained a reputation as
being the best maker of " totums " for children to
amuse themselves with at the New Year festivities.
These he supplied for the small sum of one half-
penny, and no doubt many a Glenbervie and
Laurencekirk laddie and lassie had left Charlie
Stiven's shop in glee, fumbling his "totum " in Ms
pocket all the way home, and eager to test the
recommendation it had no doubt got as it came
fresh from the hand of the wonderful Stiveu !

Whether in the multitude of toys and juvenile
attractions of these latter days the old fashioned
"totum" may or may not have been relegated to
an obscure place in the affections ot childhood, the
following excellent remarks on it from Frascr's
" History of Laurencekirk " will no doubt be read
by young and old with great interest. " In these
modern time?, it may be u'ecessary to explain that

this little gambling instrument was in the form of
a cube, with a stalk or axis on which it was made
to spin. On the four sides were painted in Roman
capitals the letters A, D, N and T, respectively,
and the luck of the gambler depended on which of
those sides was uppermost when the rotatory
motion had ceased. Let it not be despised, either
for its simple construction, or for the fact
that a ' Yule preen or nut ' was the
humble stake at every game. The ori-
gin of the totum was classical. A Roman
emperor it matters not which satiated with the
amusements of the age, commanded the wisest of
Ms counsellors to find out some game whose fresh-
ness and general excellence would recommend it to
his imperial master, and relieve him of his ennui.
He invented the " totum," and was rewarded with
all but imperial honours. Hence the characters
inscribed on the little cube, which were probably a
mystery to all but one in a thousand of the Messrs
Stivens juvenile patrons. A in the eyes of the
Roman Emperor stood for " Accipe unum " which,
however, unconsciously, was most accurately trans-
lated in the vernacular, "A, take ane " when D
appeared, " Donato alium " was the disappointed
remark in the days of old Rome, supplanted in
Laureucekirk (and Glenbervie) by the still more
expressive " 1). duntlc doon ane." N was a nega^-
tive quantity, calling for a contemptuous
"Nihil" from the imperial lips, to be repeated
with double energy by the tongues of his modern
representatives, "N., nickle naething." The
coveted of all the letters was T. ; success could no
further go, whether the stake were an emperor's
crown or a " Yule preen." " T. tak' a' ! " was the
exultant exclamation of the Scottish youth, which
corresponded exactly in meaning with the Roman,
"T. totum."


Another "character" famous in his day was
John Davidson. John kept a shop in a small house
close to the road from Drumlithie to Glenbervie
House, at a place called Newbiggnig. In by-gone
days advertising as now practised was scarcely
known, but John must have had the spirit of adver-
tising strongly developed in him, else he could
never have hit upon the method he adopted to
advertise his wares. He seems to have had the
faculty, also, of jingling " rhymes," if ut times the


" reason " was absent, for he concocted an adver-
tising bill, which is a curiosity in its way. We are
enabled to give it here through the kindness
of the Rev. Mr Gordon, of Glenbervie,
who has a copy of it. The quaintness it
displays, and the ingenuity of construction it shows

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Online LibraryGeorge Henderson KinnearHistory of Glenbervie → online text (page 8 of 12)