Lachlan Shaw.

The history of the province of Moray. Comprising the counties of Elgin and Nairn, the greater part of the county of Inverness and a portion of the county of Banff,--all called the province of Moray before there was a division into counties online

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Online LibraryLachlan ShawThe history of the province of Moray. Comprising the counties of Elgin and Nairn, the greater part of the county of Inverness and a portion of the county of Banff,--all called the province of Moray before there was a division into counties → online text (page 32 of 37)
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•middle arch is about 15 feet high. It has four
hearses of brass of curious work, each having 12
sockets, hung in the middle of the Church.

To the east end is joined the Little Churcli,
where worship is performed on week days, and
betwixt these two churches is the steeple, with
bells and a clock.

The High Church, dedicated to St. Giles, stood
on two rows of massy pillars, and was all vaulted
and covered with thick and heavy hewed stone
instead of slate. On the 22nd of June, being
the Sabbath day, anno 1679 (the very day on
which the Battle of Bothwell Bridge was fought),
when the people had returned from worship in
the forenoon, the whole fabric fell down, except
the fom' pillars and vault that support the steeple.
The re-building was finished in 1684 at the ex-
pense of the heritors of the parish, merchants,
and tradesmen of the town, and some private

* I have before me an account, charge and discharge, by
•James Winchester, some time treasurer of the town, of wliat
money he received, and how it was applied. The charge
amounts to £1,485 9s. 2d. Scots, and the discharge to
£4,003 15s. Od. Scots. The Laird of Grant, in payment of his
stent, and by a vohintary contribution, furnished the whole
timber necessary. The Laird of Muirton, besides his stent,
contributed £20G 13s. 4(1. Scots. The Eishoj) contributed
£133 6s. 8d. Scots, and Mr. Alexander Tod, minister at Elgin.
£60 13s. 4d. Scots. The Kirk-Session paid out of the penal-
ties £151 6s. 8d. Scots. Alexander Douglas of Spynie gave
sixty bolls of victual, which, at £3 6s. 8d. per boll, amounted
to £200 Scots. The buihling of the pulpit (besides the price


Westward of the Church standeth the Tolbooth,
ornanieDted with a high steeple vaulted to the
top, and with bells and a clock. The town is
also accommodated with a large and well finished
council chamber, a court house, and several strong
prison rooms.

The houses in the town are all built of free-
stone, and many of them stand on pillars to tlie
street. No town can be better accommodated
with gardens, and there are few closses but have
draw-wells. This town stood formerly farther to
west than now it doth. For this see my Militarij
History^ and for the Cathedral, College, and reli-
gious houses, see my Ecclesiastical History.

The town standeth two miles north from the
Church of Birnie, 1^ miles south-east of New
Spynie, and 1 J miles west from St. Andrews. The
parish to landward extendeth 8 miles from east
to west, and 3 miles from north to south, and is
situated on both sides of the river Lossie, which,
rising in the hills betwixt Knockando and Edin-
killie, runneth north 3 miles to the Churcli of
Dallas, thence turneth east about 3 miles, and
then running north-west, and watering the
parishes of Birnie and Elgin, it passeth north,
and after a course of about 15 miles falleth into
the firth.

of the wainscot) cost £244, and the glazing of the windows and
wire cost £400 Scots. I find nothing paid out of the common
i^ood of the town.


A hall" mile west from Elgin there is a bridge
of one large arch, built anno 1636; on the east
side of the river, a mile from the town to the
south, are the lands of Maine, the property of
David Brodie, M.D.

South-east from Maine are the lands of Lang-
morn, Whitewreath, and Thornhill, formerly a
part of the estate of Cockstown, and now the
jn-operty of the Earl Fife. Further east is Black-
hills the heritage of llobert Innes of Blackliills.

On the west side of the river is the barony of
Mosstowie, in the north-west end of the parish.
The town of Elgin are superiors of it by the gift
of King Alexander II., and now the Earl Fife has
possession of it, by an adjudication against
William Sutherland of lioscommon [third] son of
[James, second] Lord Dutfus, who held it in feu
of the said town.

South-east of Mosstowie is the barony of Miln-
town, which, for about an hundred years, was the
heritage of a branch of the family of Brodie, and
by Joseph Brodie of Milntown sold to Lord
Braco, about 42 years ago. It was Church land.

[Lord Braco, afterwards William, Earl of Fife, left this
])ropcrty, with other lands, to his 3rd son, Hon. George
Duff, who long possessed them. He died in 1818, and
was succeeded by his sou, Major George Dutf, at whose
death they were disposed to Hon. George Skene Dufi',
who sold the subjects to his nephew, Alexander William
Georo-e, Viscount M'Dutf, only son of the present Earl of
Fife. The estate in 1873 consisted of 14 farms and crofts,
and was let at a yearly rent of £1,251 8s. sterling. The


late Major George Duff enhanced the property by exten-
sive plantations.] (R. Y.)

South and east of Milntown is the barony of
Pittenrich and Monbein. Pittenrich was a part
of the Earldom of Moray, and long the property
of Douglas of Pittenrich, from whom the Earl of
Moray purchased it in the end of the last century.

Monbein Upper and Nether, Bogside, the
Haugh, &G., are the lands of the Preceptoiy of
Maison Dieu, and hold of the town of Elgin.
These baronies are now the property of Colonel
Francis Stewart, uncle to the present Earl of
Moray, except Upper Monbein, that pertaineth
to Bailie John Laing of Elgin.

Westward lietli the Glen of Pluscarden, a
valley extending three miles in length, and sur-
rounded with hills, except to the east. It is
(with the old mills near the town of Elgin) the
property of the Earl Fife, except a few farms that
Watson of Westerton holdeth of him in feu.

Elgin giveth title to Bruce, Lord Kinloss, and
Earl of Elgin.

[The lands of Maine are a part of the ancient Earldom
of Moray, and in 1471 were the property of Hays of
Maine, of the Hays of Park and Lochloy, in which name
they remained till some time after the 1621. I find Maine
])ertaining to the Laird of Innes in KioO, to Gordon of
Maine in 1035, to Mr. Joseph Brodie, minister of Forres,
in IGSi, to Alexander Brodie (son of Mr. Joseph, and
grandfather to Brodie of Muir House) in 1G6U. Then
they came to Brodie of Letham, wlio conveyed them to
his nephew, Thomas Brodie of Pitgaven3\ His son,
David, sold them to Dr. Brodie, writer, of Pitgaveny


who died in 1703 without issue. Maine then fell to Dr.
David Brodie, Inverness, son of Francis Brodie of Milton,
born 1687, and died at Elgin, 1782. He married Margaret,
tlaughter of Alexander Brodie, fourth of Lethen, by whom
he had a son. Dr. Alexander Brodie, born about 1724, and
died 1806, unmarried ; and a daughter, Anne, married to
the Rev. James Hay of Dallas, father of Colonel Alex.
Hay of Westerton. Dr. Alex. Brodie sold the estate of
Mayne towards the end of the last century to the Earl of
Findlater, in whose family it continues. The estate of
Mayne must have then been an exceedingly bare and
barren spot, surrounded with sandy knolls. Plantations,
after the lapse of half a century, have now reached
maturity, not only embellishing the place, but handsomely
remunerating the proprietor.

Whitewreath seems to have been acquired about the
middle of the 17th century by the Rev. John Brodie of
Auldearn, and Dean of Moray, third son of David Brodie
of Brodie, who was served heir to his father in 1656.
He was succeeded by his son William, advocate, Edin-
burgh, in 1712, and died unmarried in 1739. He is .said
to have been succeeded by his cousin, Sir William Dunbar
of Durn. Early last century this large district was
acquired by the Earl of Fife.

Blackhiils at an early date was a part of the extensive
estate of Innes, and held by one of the oldest cadets of
that great house. It was much more extensive than at
present. Running across the hills, it embraced some
lands in the parish of Rothes, now belonging to the Earl
of Seafield. The estate, as it now stands, was sold by Sir
John Innes of Blackhills to Sir Archibald Dunbar of
Northfield on the 23rd June, 1796, at the price of £7,000,
who re-sold it on the 16th Aug., 1798, to Lachlan Cuming
of Demerara, a descendant of Craigmill, in Dallas, for
£7,3.5:>. Mr. Cuming made it his principal residence, and
died there at an advanced age upwards of 80 years ago,
when his trustees sold it to the Earl of Fife. It fitted in
well to his Lordship's estates, being situated in the very
heart of his property. The land lies high, and is some-
what cold and exposed, and the difference in the tempera-
ture between this and the lower part of the parish in the
winter season is striking.

Tfie Barony of Fittendrich contains 9 farms and crolts.


and has now a yearly rental of £1,808 5s. sterling. It is
bounded on the east by the Anghteen Part Land of Elgin,
part of the estate of Maine, and the River Lossie ; on the
west by the estate of Milton and the Earl of Fife ; on the
north by the lands of Inverlochty and the Elgin road ;
and on the south by the Buinach Hill. It has been
acquired by the Earl of Moray at diiferent times, but
principally from the ancient family of Douglas of Pitten-
drich, who not only had a large estate in Morayshire,
down to a late period, but were proprietors in 1472 of a
third part of Duftus, Pitgaveny,Calcotts, Darkland, Sheriff-
ston, and others. No trace of these Douglases now exists.
The old trees probably define the spot where the mansion
of the former proprietors once stood. A venerable dovecot
still stands, having the bloody heart (the crest of the
Douglas family), much obliterated, yet decipherable.

The Lands of Manheen or Monbein, now part of the
estate of Pittendrigh, formerly belonged to the Preceptory
of Maison Dieu, but were early feued out and held by
different vassals. They are now held in property by the
Earl of Moray, but in superiority by the Magistrates of
Elgin, as in room of the Preceptor of Maison Dieu, under
the charter of King James VI. In 1567 the lands of
Upper Manbeen belonged to Hieronymus Spens, as appears
by a feu-charter granted in his favour by James Thornton,
])recentor of Moray, of church lands in Alves, with consent
of the Bishop, dated 16 Aug., 1567. Probably they con-
tinued in the family of Spens, or Spence, up to the early
part of last century. There is a curious old well on the
property, with the initials H. S. and the date 1699 upon
it, cut in stone, with the legend, Ea' dono Dei bihite
gratis, i.e., Drink freely from this gift of God. The
initials are those of the then proprietor, Hieronymus
Spence. There are other two wells higher up — the Earl's
Well and the Green Well.

Ujjper Manbeen is a small farm, about 4 miles north-
west of Elgin. A sculptured Stone there (a coarse mica
slate) stands about 200 or 300 yards to the north-west of
the farm-house. There is no tradition of its having been
on another site, nor is there any local history attached to
it. (See plate xvii., vol. i., Stuart's Sculptured Stones of

On the lands of Bogside there formerly stood an
VOL. L 23


Hospital and Chapel dedicated to S. John the Baptist,
but no date can be given. It is said that one of" the
tenants carried off" the stones to construct " rumbling
drains " on the farm, a general fate which befell ecclesias-
tical and castellated buildings.

At Mdins of Flttendrigli, on the south side of a knoll,
there was a hermitage or cell for an anchorite, which
shared the like destiny as the above edifices at Bogside.

The pretty little estate of ^Ve8tcrto^vn was a part of
the Priory lands of Pluscarden, but for upward of 300
years it was separated from it. Alexander Dunbar, the
last Prior, had several bastards, and, seeing that the
Reformation was fast drawing nigh, he, on the 12th Sep.,
15G0, with consent of the Convent, granted a charter of
the lands of Westerton in favour of "John Dunbar,
brother of Patrick Dunbar of Sanquhar," two of his
illegitimate sons. This John Dunbar conveyed the estate
to Robert Dunbar of Inshallon and his spouse, by charter
dated 29 May, 1576. This Robert Dunbar was succeeded
by his son, also Robert, who conveyed the estate to
Patrick Dunbar and Janet Gumming, his spouse, on 22
May and 9 June, 1G15. On 1st June, 1G43, Patrick
Dunbar, son of the last Patrick, sold Westerton to John
Watson of Coltfield, in which family it continued for
generations. In 17G8, John Watson, the then proprietor,
who had been a merchant in Moscow, conveyed the
estate to his sister, Margaret Watson, in life-rent, and
after her death to Peter Rose-Watson, his nephew. He
died insolvent in 1799. Westerton was saved from the
wreck, and was disposed to his niece. Miss Margaret Rose,
who sold it on the 2G Nov., 1813, to Lieut.-Col. Alexander
Hay, son of the Rev. James Hay, minister of Dallas, by
his wife, Ann Brodie, daughter of Dr. David Brodie of
Mayne. Colonel Hay had for about 20 years been in
India, and had there made a small fortune. He planted,
drained, and took in lots of moorland, and built a hand-
some mansion in the modern castellated style, and laid off
fine gardens, with lawn and fish-])ond. He married a
daughter of the late Captain Alex. Macleod of Dalvey, by
whom he had three sons. His wife died in early life.
He himself died in 1845, and his second son, David, heired
the estate. He did not survive his father many years.
In 1855 the jjroperty was sold to the Hon. George Skene


Duff of Milton, who, a few years afterwards, made an
excambion of it for the estate of Ardgay, in the parish of
Alves, with his brother James, Earl of Fife.] (See
Younrfs Annals of Ely hi.)


[Situation, Soil, Climate. — It is by the ehartulary of
Moray established, that, prior to the year 1226, the name
of the town, which is extended to that of the parish, was
Hehjyn, which it most probably obtained from one of
those many Norwegian chiefs who bore the name of
Hel(jy ; and who, according to Torsams, conquering Moray
and the countries on the north, by the forces of Sigurd,
Eiirl of Orkney, built this town, in its southern quarter,
almost 900 years ago. The particle en, or an, marking
the genitive case in the Celtic, make Hehjyn to signify
of Helgy. Sundry etymologies, however, have been also
suggested from the Gaelic ; the most specious among them
is el, place, and cean, the head.

The town is placed in the north-east corner of the
parish, Spynie lying close upon the north, and St. Andrews
Lhanbryd on the east. The parish is sti'etched southerly
from the town, over the widest part of the plain for
miles, towards the side of the mountain, which in this
quarter, by a direct approximation to the firth, at once
reduces the champaign of Moray to half the breadth
to which it had gradually widened from its narrowest
beginning on the bank of the Spe}^ Through this en-
croachment of the mountain upon the plain, a vale is
opened, nearly parallel to the firth, along the course of
the Lossie ; and the lesser River of Lochty, winding
through the deep dale of Pluscarden, extends the length
of the parish westerly to the borders of Raflbrd, at tlie
distance of 10 miles from the town.

The soil in general may be described as sandy, although
in many places it is fertile loam, and in some a rich clay.
The climate is warm, healthful, and serene.

State of Property. — The country district of the parish
is shared among six projirietors. The Earl of Fife's pro-
perty is valued in the Cess-Roll at £2,89G 14s. 4d. Scots.
The Earl of Moray has Pitnadriech, and Upper and Nether
Monbean, at £1,274 8s. 4d. The Hon. George Duff, of the
family of Fife, has Milltown, Inverlochty, and Bilbohall,


at £1,189 9s. Sir Archibald Dunbar of Northfield, Bart.,
has Blackhills, on which there is a commodious mansion-
house, spacious well -stocked gardens, and extensive plan-
tations, valued at £20S 2s. 2<1. The Earl of Findlater has
Main, at £203 16s. 8d., upon wdiich are a spacious hand-
some house and gardens, with much ornamented ground,
and a great extent and variety of plantations. Peter
Rose Watsone of Cottfield has AVestertown of Phiscarden,
at £71 3s. Cd. The lands holding of the community,
shared among the burgesses, with a part acquired by the
Earls of Fife and Findlater, are valued at £486 7s. 4d.,
extending the valued rent of the whole parish to
£6,380 Is. 4d.

The farms are of various extent — a few about 100 acres,
a considerable number between 30 and 40, and some
under 20. The mean rent of the land in the vicinity of
the town is £2 sterling the acre, and from 15s. to 18s. in
the country.

The town is well built ; the houses in general are either
new or of late improved, according to the modern ideas
of handsome accommodation. It consists of one principal
street, in a winding course, for little more than a mile,
from east to west, widened to such breadth towards the
middle of the town as to have the Church awkwardly
placed upon it; and, at a little distance farther on, the
town-house, a mean building adjoining to a clumsy square
tower, almost without windows, which contains the hall
where the courts and county meetings are held, and the
common jail. Behind the houses which front the street,
buildings are carried back on either side, in narrow lanes,
for the length of 8 or 10 dwellings, in some cases separate
properties, and containing for most part distinct families.
Many of these lanes terminate in the gardens, atfording a
more immediate access to the country than the few public
avenues offer. The water of the pit-wells in the town is
a little brackish ; a considerable quantity of this commo-
dity must be therefore carried from the river, although
distant from the town.

The oldest charter among the archives is granted by
Alexander II. in the year 1234, giving and confirming to
his burgesses of P]lgyn a guild of merchants, with as
ample privileges as any burgh in Scotland.

James IT., by charter 1457, confirms the grants of his


predecessors, particularly the lands of Mosstowie, Dowal-
green, Grievesliip, and Strathcant.

James VI., by charter 1620, grants the Hospital of
Maison Dieu, with the patronage and teinds thereof,
Upper and Nether Monbean, and Haugh, Upper and
Nether Pitnasear, Upper and Nether Kirkdales in

Charles I., by charter 1633, confirms the lands already
mentioned, adding Glassgreen, Upper Barflathills, Bog-
side, with the mill lands and multures of Kirkdales, the
Blackfriar Croft, and the lands and gardens belonging to
the predicant brethren on the north side of the burgh ;
and all the ports and stations, baj^s and creeks of Spey
and Lossie, and between Spey and Findhorn, where any
ship or boat can be received ; with power to hold the six
great fairs and the weekly market, and that none else
shall hold fairs or markets within 4 miles of town ; and
to hold courts, appoint officers, and enjoy all the privileges
and immunities appertaining to royal burghs. In 1641,
by a charter ratified in Parliament, March 8, 1645, the
King adds the right of patronage of two ministers and
one reader. It must, however, be presumed that the
community at no time possessed the whole property
which these charters convey ; for in 60 years after the
date of the last they made a bargain with tlie proprietor
of Kinnedur for the only harbour which they ever
possessed, and which might be rendered of little conse-
quence by proper keys at the more secure and commo-
dious stations of Burghhead, Covesea, and Stotfield ; nor
have they ever claimed any perquisite from the trade
carried on at Spey; and a great annual fair has been
always held at Lhanbryd, within half the distance from
the town which the latest charter allows. The lands
conveyed by these charters yield at present a revenue of
nearly £1,200, while the income of the community, arising
mostly from feu-duties, market tolls, and a few fields
about town, does not exceed £200.

Their internal government was ratified by the Conven-
tion of Boroughs in 1706, by which the magistracy con-
sists of the Provost, 4 Bailies, and 12 Councillors, annually
elected by themselves, with the change only of 5, but
residenting burgesses only are eligible. The Council
nominate a jury of other 15 to apportion the taxes


affecting the trade ; but no private tax can be imposed
without the consent of a majority of burgesses assembled
in the head court, which can only sit upon the 2d Tuesday
of September, in which the state of the borough, and the
expenditure of the revenue, may be investigated ; and
for the general satisfaction the books and accounts are
ordered to be submitted to public inspection for the 20
preceding days.

State Ecclesiastical. — The parish is accommodated with
two ministers of the Established Church, each with an
appointment of £50 and 127 bolls of barley, including
the expense of the Communion, which each of them
celebrates once a year. They have a small glebe in
common, a part of which was specially designed for a
situation for their manses, but the Court of Session detei'-
mined that the proprietors of the parish were not, as in
common cases, bound to build houses for the ministers of
Elgin, and the incalculable expense of civil justice in this
kingdom deters them from suing for redress.

The Church appears a low, clumsy, misshapen building,
at once deforming and encumbering the street. Its length
is 80 feet and its breadth GO, but two rows of massy
cylindric columns divide the floor into three compart-
ments, nearly from one end to the other ; the pulpit is
placed in the middle space between the columns, and is
wholly lighted by a Gothic window in the west gable ;
the steeple is upon the oast end, and, being still unfinished,
is only a ver}^ little higher than the church, of which its
bottom is a part, while its top accommodates the clock
and two well-toned bells ; the steeple on each side is sup-
ported by an aisle, which was originally tombs, though in
one of them the ecclesiastical courts occasionally meet.

On the east the steeple is also supported b}^ a shapeless
hulk of another church, almost in ruins now, though once
the subject of an ap[)eal from the High Court of Justiciary
to the House of Peers, in a prosecution for ejecting the
minister of the Episcopalian congregation. It is now a
place of worship, in some respects on a similar establish-
ment to that of Lady Glcnorchy's Chapel in Edinburgh.
The congregation is composed of people both of the town
and country parishes around, who elude the law of
patronage, though professing themselves of the National
Church. They ordain or instal the preacher themselves,


that is, a few who take the lead among them, without
the moderation of a call, so requisite by Presbyterian
principle, and without the smallest concun-ence or appro-
bation whatever of any ecclesiastical judicature, of whose
jurisdiction, or regulations at least, he is independent. He
possesses, however, all the countenance and almost every
benefit arising from the National Church, unless it be a
legal security for the stipend, without which, however, he
must make his doctrine palatable, whether evangelical or
not. He holds communion with the ministers of the town,
and has the countenance also of several of the magistracy
and eldership. His appointment is equal to £40 sterling
yearly, arising from the rents of the seats, and from two
endowments, each of £5 yearly, one bequeathed by a Dr.
Gordon and the other by Mr. David Rintoul, one of the
ministers of Elgin. Notwithstanding the charter granted
by King Charles, and ratified as above by the Parliament,
the Crown has always continued to exercise the right of

The Valley of Pluscarden is the only district of the
country which seems to suffer by the substitution of
the Reformed for the Roman Catholic Religion, by which
they enjoyed the pompous establishment of the Priory
in the midst of this sequestered vale. The minds of
the people were cheered through the day and soothed
during even the stillness of the midnight hour by the
solemn sound of the consecrated bells, calling the vener-
able inmates to their statutory devotions ; and they
had access to the consolations of IG holy men, in every
season of distress, with the free and easy accommodation
of the most splendid social worship. They had the means
also of educating in the most commodious manner their

Online LibraryLachlan ShawThe history of the province of Moray. Comprising the counties of Elgin and Nairn, the greater part of the county of Inverness and a portion of the county of Banff,--all called the province of Moray before there was a division into counties → online text (page 32 of 37)