'THE MONIKIE STORY'
A page linked from -
Story, by Rev. W. Douglas Chisholm.
1. From the "Tay Valley Family
the journal of the Tay Valley Family History
"The Monikie Story"
In his Preface to 'The Monikie Story", the Reverend
Douglas Chisholm, the former minister of the parish, now retired,
makes it plain that his book "is the story of the people in
the Parish of Monikie in the County of Angus". Right well
does he succeed in that enterprise.
Starting with a description of the earth-houses, known as
"souterrains", at Ardestie and Carlungie, constructed,
it is suggested, around 50 A.D., the author records the gradual,
but continuous, change in the landscape and in farming methods.
For example, reference is made to the enlightened land management
and farming methods practiced by successive proprietors of the
Estate of Panmure, which brought long-term benefits to the farms
on the Panmure lands Despite changes in its ownership, the
records of the estate, part of the Dalhousie Muniments, provide
an almost continuous record of accounts and of cropping from
There is a fairly brief disquisition on the ecclesiastical
conflict between Presbyterians and Episcopalians around the end
of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th centuries, and of the
political struggle (as it affected the Parish) between Jacobites
and Hanoverians, the latter being happily concluded when the
Forfeited Estate of Panmure was recovered by William, Earl of
Panmure, after the "Forty-five".
Thereafter, in the words of the author, the years around 1750
saw changes for the better in living standards and in farming
methods and productivity.
The first ecclesiastic schism in the parish occurred in 1789,
primarily because of the disapproval of the system of appointment
of ministers by a patron - in the case of Monikie, the Crown At
that time an Associate Burgher Congregation was founded, the
promoters believing in their right to choose their minister, and
a church was erected at Newbigging. The members, in the main,
were residents of the parishes of Monifieth, Barry and Murroes.
William Maule, minister of the parish from 1783 to 1827,
described by the author as "William Maule, the
Moderate", seems, to this reviewer, to have been a man with
whom the author is much in sympathy, as the following quotation
"The Moderates were less interested in the finer points
of theology than in the teaching of social virtues that would
lead to a tolerant, civilised existence." "Such
ministers", the author continues, "had wide and
far-reaching interests in natural science and not least in
agriculture and industry. One of the fruits of this outlook and
spirit was the production of the "Statistical Account of the
Parishes of Scotland", the brain-child of Sir John Sinclair
of Ulbster, a notable "Improver". It was William
Maule's achievement that he wrote the Parish Account for
Monikie" - a distinguished piece of work, well worth
The beginning of the 19th Century was marred by famine
conditions, despite the growth of prosperity, and it fell to the
Kirk Session to take steps to alleviate the distress of the poor
of the Parish It was decided to apply \'a3200 from the Poor Fund
for the purchase of grain for distribution to those in want.
Further sums were required and an additional amount was provided
from the Poor Fund, supplemented by contributions from farmers
such as "John Smith, Dod; Peter Gilruth, Affleck; David
Smith, Denside; George Adamson, Carlungie; George Patullo, East
Downie; Robert Stiven, Fallaws; James Webster, Downieken; and
James Anderson, New Downie." These men had long resided in
the parish, as had, presumably, David Beat, David Ramsay and John
Moug, who had been ordained as elders as far back as 1665 to help
with the distribution of money to the poor of the Parish. Thus,
over a period of nearly one and a half centuries, the Kirk
Session demonstrated that it took seriously its obligations to
Weaving was, of course, the chief industry in the parish, as
it was throughout Angus. In 1801, cut of a population of 1,236,
117 persons were engaged in agriculture, while no fewer than 607
were engaged in handcraft or manufacture - presumably handloom
weaving. By about 1870, however, after its beginnings in 1736,
when George Dempster (grandfather of George Dempster of
Dunnichen, the celebrated improver and enlightened landlord) sold
linseed to farmers in the parish, hand-loom weaving came to an
William Maule's successor, the Reverend James Miller, was
responsible for the New Statistical Account of 1842 which, like
that of 1791, recorded an overall improvement in standards of
living and agriculture and, while he commended farmers "for
giving up the pernicious and demoralising system of
bothies", the system continued into the present century.
Mr. Miller was a member of the Evangelical Party within the
Kirk and, in the Disruption of 1843, he gave up his charge to
join the newly-established Free Church of Scotland. A new church
was built at Craigton, and subsequently a manse, which is now the
Craigton Coach Inn.
Happily, the Free Church and the Church of Scotland reunited
in 1929, and the charge of Monifieth North and Newbigging was
linked with Monikie in 1967, resulting in the Parish having one
minister, as it had before 1789.
Reference is made to the construction of the Monikie
Waterworks and Crombie Reservoir in the period between 1845 and
1867, and to the coming of the railway from Dundee to Forfar via
Monikie in 1870.
The reservoirs continue to exist for fishing and other leisure
activities but, since 1981, they no longer provide a public water
The railway was finally closed to goods traffic in 1967,
passenger services having terminated in 1955. The line has been
The two wars inevitably brought about changes in the parish.
In the Great War of l9~4-1918, out of 120 men who served, 27 were
killed, while in the Second World War, 12 from the parish lost
Mr. Chisholm, who was inducted to Monikie in 1961, was
responsible for the Third Statistical Account for Monikie Parish
of 1962, which broadly follows the scheme of the 1842 Account.
The summing-up reflects, however, the profound changes in
parochial life which were evident in the 1950's, changes which
continue to affect Monikie and similar parishes which once were
The population declined markedly from 1,460 in 1861 to 919 in
1961, but while new housing may help to restore the balance, it
is probable that most of the newcomers commute to work in Dundee
or Arbroath. What is crystal clear, however, is that the drift
from the land, which has accelerated from 1945 onward, is now the
flight from the land. For example, a fairly typical farm in the
parish, Carlungie, which extended to 280 acres in 1861, was
worked by a farmer and 17 men, while in 1981, the same farm,
enlarged to 300 acres, needed the labour of the farmer and 2 men.
The foregoing is, necessarily, a brief conspectus of "The
Monikie Story"; my advice is to read in full, for a reprint,
with the addition of an index, is now available.
Mr. Chisholm, it seems to me, is justly to be considered as
one of a succession of scholarly and devoted ministers of Monikie Parish; he is to be congratulated on the production of a
volume which demonstrates his detailed knowledge of local history
and topography, as well as his empathy with the lives and labour
of successive generations of those who resided within the parish.
Return to - 'The Monikie Story' by Rev.
W. Douglas Chisholm.
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This page was updated - 09 December, 2014