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Statistical Accounts for the Parish of Forfar
in Angus (or Forfarshire), Scotland
Years 1791-99 and 1843 (later 1950-68).

MORE Statistical Accounts in TEXT form are currently in course of preparation.
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Transcribed with page numbers from the original. Slight editing has taken place to allow for present day
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The FIRST Statistical Account appearing on this page has considerable use of blue coloured text to signify that these 'asides' were not part of the main text.  These texts are broken-up somewhat.

YEAR 1791 - 99  - Page 510 - NUMBER LII 

PARISH OF FORFAR

(COUNTY AND PRESBYTERY OF FORFAR, SYNOD OF ANGUS AND MEARNS)

By the Rev. Mr JOHN BRUCE.

Name and Extent.

This parish, in all writings concerning the patronage, tithes, &c. as designed the parish of Forfar-Restenet (Restenneth); though the latter part of the name is seldom mentioned in conversation or in common writing.  Restenet was perhaps the name given to the Priory, expressive of the purpose for which it was built, namely, a safe repository for the charters, &c. of the monastery of Jedburgh; but some take its derivation from a Gaelic word, Risk, signifying, as they say, a bog or swamp, which indeed answers to the situation.

Forfar is conjectured to be the same with the ancient Or, and the Roman Orrea, signifying a town situated on a lake, to which description it exactly answers; and the lake to which it stands, has for many ages been known by the name of Forfar (Loch).

The parish is divided into burgh and landward; whether Forfar and Restenet have some time or other been two different parishes, . .

511

. . parishes, and afterwards united, is not certain; but the burgh and landward parts of the parish have long had, and continue to have, distinct interests in so far as relates to the supplying of the poor, and they make separate collections for them at the church door.

The form of the parish is irregular, its greatest extent from N. to S. being about 6 English miles, and from E. to W. about 5; though in some places, it does not exceed 3 English miles in breadth and 4 in length.  The town in which the church and manse are built is situated near the N. W, corner of the parish.  The loch of Forfar, the property of the Earl of Strathmore, and a part of the parish of Glammis (Glamis), formerly washed the border of the minister's glebe in that part which lies contiguous to the manse: and the eastmost house in the parish of Forfar is within a gun-shot of the kirk of Rescobie.

Town of Forfar. -Forfar is a royal burgh of considerable antiquity, and the capital of the county of Angus or Forfar; the sheriff whereof has held his court for upwards of two hundred years in this town, which is pretty centrically situated for the administration of justice.  It is alto the seat of the presbytery of Forfar; consisting in all of eleven parishes, the churches of which lie around it, at, or within the distance of four computed miles, except that of Cortachie (Cortachy) which is rather more than five.

The ground on which it stands, with that for a considerable way around, is uncommonly uneven, and covered, as it were, with hillocks of various sizes, as if nature had here, at some period, suffered a convulsion.  Though low with respect to the circumjacent ground on every side excepting the West, it is high in comparison to the general level of the country.  The lakes and springs, a mile to the east of it, run eastward and empty themselves into the German Ocean (North Sea) at Lunan Bay.  Its own springs, and those on the west side of it, run directly west . .

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. . through the fertile valley of Strathmore, till they join the (River) Tay near Perth; and such is level of the country, that it has been thought practicable, and by some an object worthy of commercial attention, to open a communication by a canal between Forfar and the sea in either of these directions*.

Forfar commands a fine view of the Seedlaw (Sidlaw) hills and the valley of Strathmore, terminated by the Grampians (mountains) on the west, the most considerable of which is about 50 miles distant in that direction is the famous Schihallion (Schiehallion).

Forfar is perhaps a singular instance in Scotland, of a town of any note, built at a distance from running water; but the vicinity of the lake (loch) with its numerous springs, and the protection of the castle, a place in former times of considerable strength, first invited the inhabitants of the country to settle and form a village, which afterwards becoming the occasional residence of Majesty, was distinguished by considerable numbers of royal favours, the memory of which is preserved in the names of places and fields within the royalty, such as the King's muir, the Queen's Well, the Queen's manor, the palace-dykes, the guard breads, &c. +

* (A few years ago a young gentleman belonging to the navy conducted, for a wager, a small boat all the way from the loch of Forfar by Perth to Dundee, and, was obliged to leave the boat only in one or two places, where a sudden fall of the water made sailing dangerous.

+ In the castle of Forfar, Malcolm Canmore held his parliament in the year 1057, immediately after the recovery of his kingdom from the usurpation of Macbeth, - A figure of the castle, cut in stone, remains upon the manse and the market cross, and forms the device of the common seal of the burgh; though nothing but some rubbish remains on the spot where it stood.  It is probable, the most useful stones have been from time to time abstracted for building houses; and it appears that the west entry to the old church, and a great part of the materials of the present steeple, had been taken from it.  From the extent of its territory, and the names of places, it would seem, . . 

513

The burgh is governed by a provost, two bailies, and twelve common counsellors, who are elected annually by themselves with the assistance of four deacons of crafts, who are also members of council, (but chosen by the members of the respective corporations,) and fifteen other burgesses nominated for the occasion, by the provost and bailies.  The annual council, thus consisting of nineteen members, have the privilege of electing a delegate to vote for the election of one representative in Parliament for burghs of Perth, Dundee, St. Andrews, Forfar, and Cupar in Fife.  The revenue of the burgh arising from lands, customs, &c. is supported, commumous annis, to be little below 400 Sterling clear, and it is yearly increasing.

The incorporation of shoemakers, which is still the richest in the town, was, previous, to the year 1745, the most numerous; and the wealth of the place arose chiefly from their industry . .


. . that the community had been enriched by repeated marks of royal bounty, nor do the inhabitants seem to have been insensible to the kindness shown them by their sovereigns.  A parliamentary ratification, dated 1669, of the Royal writ of Novodamus, dated 1665, proceeds upon the abstraction of the original charters and rights of the burgh, and the plundering of the inhabitants in 1651 for their attachment to the Royal Family, and particularly on "the faithful testimony and dissent given be
(by) Alexander Strang, late Provost of Forfar, and commissioner for the said burgh, against passing of the unjust act of the pretendit parliament, the 16 of January 1647, entitled, Declaration of the Kingdom of Scotland concerning his Majesties Person."  This act, which bears such honourable testimony to the humanity and public virtue of the chief magistrate of Forfar, besides confirming all the ancient rights and privileges of the burgh, ratifies its right to the patronage and tythes of the parish, disponed by James, and Sir George Fletchers of Restenet, and of any feus or rents payable out of the burgh acres to the priory of Restenet, the abbey of Coupar, and Lord Torphichen.  In the year 1684, as appears from the date upon it, the market cross was erected, it is said, at the expense of the Crown and it stands to this day, a monument of the loyalty of Forfar, though in the eye of the police it is perhaps a nuisance as an incumbrance on the street.

514

. . in manufacturing a peculiar fabric of shoes, which they still carry on to a great extent, it being well adapted to the uses of the country people, particularly in the braes of Angus.  -About the year 1745 or 1746 the manufactory of Osnaburgh was introduced here, which from very small beginnings has grown into a great trade, and his become the staple of the place; and the happy influence of which, particularly of late years, is visible in the amazing increase of population and wealth, and the consequent improvement of every thing. This branch of manufacture was brought to Forfar by a gentleman still living there, who has acquired by it a comfortable independence. His brother, a weaver in or near Arbroath, (about the year 1738 or 1739) having got a small quantity of flax unfit for the kind of cloth then usually brought to market, made it into a web, and offered it to his merchant as a piece on which he thought he should, and was willing to, lose.  The merchant, who had been in Germany, immediately remarked the similarity between this piece of cloth and the fabric of Osnaburgh, and urged the weaver to attempt other pieces of the same kind, which he reluctantly undertook.  The experiment however succeeded to a wish.  Many hands were soon employed in the neighbourhood of Arbroath, where a Company was established to promote the business, and from whence the discovery was brought to Forfar at the period above mentioned.  Before that time the flax was dressed by women; there was no cloth made at Forfar, but a few yard-wides, called Scrims; the number of incorporated weavers did not exceed 40, nor were there above 60 looms employed in the town.  But in consequence of the act for encouraging weavers, the trade increased so rapidly, that, before the year 1750, there were upwards of 140 looms going in Forfar, and at present there are between 400 and 500.

The knowledge of this art is so easily acquired the call for hands . .

515

. . so great, that almost every young man here betakes himself to it.  He receives a part of the profit of his work from the very day his apprenticeship begins; in a year or two he is qualified to carry on business for himself, and able to support a family, and so he marries and multiplies; and this facility of acquiring a living at an early period of life is one great cause of the rapid increase of population.  To this also it is owing, perhaps, that other professions, less profitable and more difficult to acquire, are seldomer pursued by the young men of this place; and it is a fact worthy of notice, that there has not been above one or two apprentice taylors (tailors) in Forfar these seven years past.

The Osnaburgh trade is indeed a fluctuating one, and when the demand for that fabric slackens at any time, it brings many of the young and unprovident into difficulties, and oftentimes adds to the number of the poor.  But when the trade is good (and it has been for sometimes past more stable and more flourishing than ever it was known before), the profits of it, with the government bounty, are sufficient to support the sober and industrious weaver against the influence of a falling market.  Manufacturers are just now giving from 15s. to 20s. for working the piece of ten dozen of yards, which a man of good execution will accomplish in nearly as many days; and a man working his own web, has been known to produce 18 such pieces by his own hands in the space of 19 weeks.  This however is allowed by all to be extraordinary, though it shows what sobriety and diligence may do.

The trade and wealth of Forfar having increased so rapidly since the year 1745, must naturally be supposed to have produced great alterations in the appearance of the place and the manners of its inhabitants.  Accordingly their buildings, their experience of living, and their dress are almost totally changed since that period.  And there is a remarkable difference, even within . .

516

. . these10 years, not only in all these respects, but in their amusements.

About and before the year 1745 there were few private houses covered with slates, and the masonry of almost all of them of a very inferior kind; since that time almost every new house has been covered with slates of a coarse kind, of which there are plenty in quarries within the royalty, and several of the principal ones with Easdale.  A thatched house is scarcely to be seen, and the masonry of such houses as have been built of late years is neat and substantial; the inhabitants appearing to have caught a new taste in building from the pattern set them in the new Town-house and new Church, which are of neat modern architecture.

Like most towns in Scotland, Forfar had been built without any regular design, as every man's fancy dictated the situation of his house; now more attention is bestowed in regulating the streets in the extended parts of the town, as well as in removing irregularities in rebuilding houses in the old street.  There are no uninhabited houses, new ones are extending the town in almost every direction, and house rents are rather on the rise.  Most of the houses built for trades-people consist of two stories, having four apartments of about 16 feet square each, one of which, with a portion of the garret, is sufficient to accommodate a weaver with his loom, his furniture and his fuel, and he pays for it, and a few feet of garden ground, from 20s. to 45s. per annum, according to it distance from the market-place or its other advantages or disadvantages.  The weaver generally prefers the low flat for his operations, and an open exposure, if possible, to the heart of the town*.  About 1745 . .

* About 50 or 60 years ago there were not above 7 tea-kettles, as many hand-bellows, and as many watches in Forfar: now tea-kettles and hand-bellows are the necessary furniture of the poorest house in the parish, and almost the meanest menial servant must have his watch.

About the same . .

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. .  1745 the common rent of an acre of burgh land was l0 Scotch, including 40d. for minister's stipend.  An acre of the same land is now often let at from 50s. to 3 per annum:  Several of them near the town bring more than twice as much, and the whole of them have been lately found by a decree arbitral . .

. . About the same period, a leg of good beef weighing 4 stone might have been purchased for 5s.; a leg of of tolerable veal for 5d. the highest for 1s. and some so low as 2d.; mutton from 8d. to 1s. per leg, a smaller sort from the Grampians, but of excellent flavour, from 4d. to 5d. per leg.  Previous to 1745 there was no meat sold in Forfar by weight, and very seldom was an ox killed till the greater part of the carcase had been bespoken.  A little before that two work oxen, weighing 30 stone each, were sold in one of the Forfar fairs for 50 merks Scots the head; and both the size of the cattle and the price of them were thought a wonder.

An ox, worth at that time about 40s. supplied the flesh-market of Forfar eight days or a fortnight, except on extraordinary occasions, from Christmas to Lammas.  Between Hallowmas and Christmas, when the people laid in their winter provisions, about 24 beeves were killed in a week; the best not exceeding 16 or 20 stone.  A man who had bought a shillings worth of beef or an ounce of tea, would have concealed it from his neighbours like murder.  Eggs were bought for for 1d. per dozen, butter from 3d. to 4d. per lb. and a good hen was thought high at a groat.

The gradual advancement of population, trade, and agricultural improvement, has produced the gradual rise in the price and consumption of all these articles, which within these last twenty years are some of them doubled, and many of them trebled, oat meal too has risen, but not in the same proportion with most other articles.  And there are few artificers who cannot afford to treat themselves and their families frequently with meat and wheaten bread, considerable quantities of both being consumed by them.  At an average, there is not less than 50 worth of meat sold in the flesh market of Forfar every week throughout the year.  Good meat brings from 3d. to 4d. and sometimes 5d. per lb. and can seldom be purchased in quantities, even at the cheaper periods, for less than 4s. per stone.  Eggs which ten years ago sold at 2d. per dozen are now risen to 4d. and sometimes 6d.  Hens are from 10d. to 1s.  Butter from 8d. to 10d. per  pound of 24 ounces English - other articles in proportion.  Though this bears hard upon annuitants, yet it is universally allowed that labouring people purchase more of these articles now, and are better able to do it, than when provisions were cheaper.

518

. . to be worth 25s. per acre, if let in cumulo for a lease of 19 years.

Clover grass-seed was first sown in one of the burgh acres about 60 years ago, and the people around run to see it as a curiosity; nor did it become general in this neighbourhood for upwards of 20 years after.

The soil of the burgh acres is of a light nature, and of no considerable depth, having in general a gravel bottom, and it has been said a thousand times, that it and the ground a considerable way round, would take a shower every day in the year without prejudice; yet, being flanked by the range of Seedlaw-hills (Sidlaws) on the south, of the Grampians on the north, the teeming clouds coming from the west with the prevailing summer-winds, often pass over and shed their fertilizing influence on the hills on either side of this tract, while every thing in the intermediate space was burning up.  The soil produces excellent barley, but the oat crops in general are light and puny.  The discovery of marle and the increased quantity of hot manure from the town, has improved it very much of late, and the multiplied consumption of the produce has so much excited the industry and attention of the inhabitants, that most of the old fields are in a state of high cultivation, while several extensive ones improved from barren muir, produce plentiful crops.  It should be observed, however, that the tacksmen of these acres are not in general able to pay the high rent which many of them do, from the produce of the ground, but one must have a cow for his family, and another a horse to carry him to a distant market or bring goods from a sea-port, and he takes a piece of ground near him and pays a premium for his convenience*.

General

* The effects of this increase of number, trade, and wealth, appear visibly also in the dress of all ranks, and even in the amusements of the more wealthy citizens.  Twelve or twenty years ago, it was no uncommon thing to see the . .

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General Character of the Inhabitants. - The general character of the inhabitants is that of industry and enterprise.  As in other large assemblages of men, instances of dissipation are not wanting, and failures among trading people now and then happen; effects, which a sudden influx of wealth, and inexperience in the paths of extended commerce, seldom fail to produce and multiply; but it has been observed, to the honour of the merchants of Forfar, by the people from a distance who have had long and extensive dealings in this country, that there is no town in Angus, where they find fewer bankruptcies and more punctual payments.

Articles of commerce are greatly more numerous within these few years.  Wine of various sorts, which was formerly brought from Dundee in dozens, and seldom used but as a medicine, is . .

. . wife of a wealthy burgess going to church arrayed in a rich silk gown covered by a homely plaid; now silk mantles and bonnets, and fashionable head dresses are no rarities; and even the servant maids begin in this respect to ape the dress of their superiors.  Formerly a ball or social dance was not thought of above once or twice in a year, and the ladies in general appeared at it dressed in close caps like their grandmothers; for several years past there has been, during the winter season, a monthly concert of Italian and Scotch music, performed by the gentlemen of the place, and followed by a dance, well attended, and presenting a company of ladies and gentlemen dressed in the modern fashion.  Entertainments of the same kind are sometimes given in summer; one in particular on the 19th of June, kept as an anniversary in honour of St. Margaret, Malcolm Canmore's Queen, to whose munificence perhaps Forfar was much indebted.  Buchannan styles her, "Lectissima et singulari putate Famina;" and ascribes many of the best acts of her husband's reign to the influence of her piety and prudence, particularly the abrogation of Evenus' law of infamous memory.  Tradition celebrates her attention to the good instruction of the young women in Forfar, and it is said it was the law of her table, that none should drink after dinner who did not wait the giving of thanks, and hence the phrase through Scotland of the grace drink.  These festive scenes are in general enjoyed at little expense, and have contributed not a little to cultivate the manners, and to promote the harmony of this society.

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. . now imported in pipes, and is a very common drink at private as well as at public entertainments.  Porter, which, 20 years ago was scarcely known, is now brought from London in great quantities and is becoming a common beverage with the lowest of the people.  Table beer is seldom made by private families, but by the brewers in the town, who are a flourishing class of men; from 1,600 to 2,000 bolls of malt are consumed annually, but the consumption of this article is lessened since the introduction of porter.

Superfine cloths, and all kinds of cotton, cloth and many other articles formerly got from Dundee, are now to be had in plenty in many shops in Forfar.

Dundee is the nearest sea-port town, and with which Forfar has most frequent intercourse, but it also carries on a trade with Arbroath and Montrose.  The communication with all these places will be greatly facilitated when the turnpike roads leading to them are finished.  The turnpike act for this country commenced in June 1789, and the roads to Dundee and Arbroath are now nearly completed.  Though the popular prejudice was at first against them, every one begins to see his interest in them now, since as much can be by one horse as could formerly have been done with two, and the toll exigible for a one horse cart per day from Forfar to Arbroath or Dundee, is no more than 4d. on either road.  The turnpike road from Forfar to Perth is likewise in forwardness, and will soon he completed, to the general improvement of the estates through which it passes and the towns to and from which it leads.

One great drawback on the property of Forfar is the scarcity of fuel.  Peats have indeed for several years past been obtained from the lands gained by draining the loch of Forfar; these are now nearly exhausted, and a new moss has been opened by the draining Loch Restenet, which, in its turn, a few . .

521

. . years will see to an end: at any rate the peats got from thence, though a convenient, are by no means a cheap article of fuel; for the poor man, could he afford the money all at once, would be much cheaper, and if cheaper he must he more comfortable, with coal.  A considerable quantity of thriving firs are rising on the town's property, and on some of the estates in the neighbourhood; but their number seems by no, means adequate to the probable demand for firing, when the mosses shall he exhausted; so that the community's sole dependence for this article, at some future period, will be on coal, which at present is obtained from Arbroath and Dundee, at a very great expense, not less than from 9s. to 10s. 6d. per boll of 70 stone Dutch.  In some places of the slate quarries in this neighbourhood, strata of culm-stone have been found, such as indicate the vicinity of coal, and they excited no little expectation some years that this useful fossil might be discovered here.  Some feeble attempts towards a discovery were made by the proprietor of one of these quarries, and a few acres around it; but his finances were unequal to the expense, and he met with no support from the public.

There are few places within the royalty, in which a quarry of some kind may not easily be found, so that both stone and slate are comparatively cheap; but the expense of lime and wood, neither of which can be had but from the sea-port towns or an equal distance, will probably continue, with the high price of fuel, to obstruct in some measure the growing prosperity of this burgh, till wealth and the spirit of enterprise shall open a communication by water between it and the sea.

In spite of these however, Forfar is, and is likely to continue, a thriving place; situated in the centre of a well cultivated county, the seat of the court of justice, the members of which at a moderate computation bring 1,500 . .

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. . a year to the town; the place of resort for the free-holders, not only for transacting the business of the country, but for the enjoyment of society in clubs, assemblies, &c. laying on a great road through the kingdom, and open by the turnpikes to a ready, intercourse with all her neighbours, possessed also of several substantial manufactures, conducted by men of spirit and industry, who daily stretching out new paths of art and commerce, she must rise, in the nature of things, to greater eminence than she has yet attained.

Many things doubtless are necessary to the accomplishment of this desirable end.  A well regulated police, and the suppression of a multiplicity of ale houses, so dangerous to the morals of the people, are particularly requisite.  The clearing and lighting of the streets, and the introduction of water in pipes, are also objects worthy of attention, to which, it is hoped, in time, the people in power well apply their care.  It is also universally allowed, that nothing can contribute more to the civil and religious interests of any society, than a sacred attention to the education of youth.  And where the funds of a parish admit of it, as well as those of this district can, there ought to be at least three established schools, one for Latin grammar, and the other learned or foreign tongues, one for English solely, and one for writing and arithmetic.  There are at present two established schools in Forfar, with tolerable appointments, in each of which the master is permitted to teach all the branches of education promiscuously, a method calculated to perplex himself and obstruct the improvement of his pupils.  The schools about the middle of this (eighteenth) century were in considerable reputation; but the town for many years past has been rather unfortunate in the appointments made to these important offices.  The magistrates and council have, however, of late taken such measures as it is hoped shall in future . .

523

. . secure the good institution of youth, and raise the schools to some degree of celebrity*.

The church, situated near the centre of the town, has been rebuilt within these few years, on a plan calculated to contain 2,000 hearers.  The fabric is elegant and commodious, but disgraced by the contiguity of the old-steeple and spire, the battlement of which it over-tops by 12 feet at least.

The town house has also been lately rebuilt; the front in the market place has an agreeable effect, but the apartments for prisoners are dark, damp, and dismal, almost excluded from the sun, and the free circulation of common air; and the general utility of the whole fabric seems to have been sacrificed to the attainment of one large upper room for public business and amusement.  The cupola, also intended for an ornament, conveys a mean idea of the genius of the architect.  It is evident, alas! for the unhappy prisoner too evident, the genius of Howard sat not at his elbow, when he meditated this wretched design.

The slaughter house, lately in the very centre of the town, has been very properly removed to the north side of it; which, besides ridding the place of a noisome and dangerous encumbrance, must contribute to the health of the inhabitants.

The air of Forfar may he said in general to be salubrious; occasional fogs arise from the lakes and low grounds in the neighbourhood, but have nothing particularly noxious in them.  Epidemical distempers sometimes appear, but they are not more fatal than in other neighbouring communities, and . .

* Within these few years the manse has been repaired at a considerable expense at two thirds of the money which would have built a commodious one from the foundation; and yet it is a manse still standing in need of repair; a proof among many of the inattention of heritors to their own interest.  Were such public works finished substantially at once, they would cost them less trouble and less expense.

524

. . in general less so.  On one occasion the small-pox carried off a great number of children, a circumstance which may be expected some times to happen in places where the prejudice against inoculation has not subsided: this prejudice indeed, as well as other popular errors, daily losses ground; and it is to he hoped that the success attending the practice of this important discovery will make universal converts of the rising generation.  In the case alluded to, the inoculated small-pox was introduced late in the spring, and children who had not been inoculated received the infection at the commencement of the summer months, which, happening to be warmer than usual, assisted in spreading the contagion.  There are many active lively men in Forfar between 70 and 80 years old, several upwards of 80 years with all their faculties entire.  One between 90 and 100, who is beginning to feel the infirmities, of age; and there was one buried in July 1781 who had attained the age of 100*.

Poor. - The number of poor in the town is very considerable; they are supported by money arising from lands purchased with the donations of Messrs. Robert and William Strang mentioned in the preceding note, about the year 1654, amounting to about 96 yearly; and the money collected weekly at the . .

* Of the antiquities of Forfar little can be said, as its charters have been, for upwards of a century, consigned to oblivion by the hand of rebellion and anarchy.  A few trials of those unhappy women called witches, together with the bridle with which they were led to execution, are still preserved as monuments of the superstition of our fathers; and the field in which they, suffered is pointed out to strangers as a curiosity.

Among the memorials of the good, is justly reckoned a very large bell, sent by Robert Strang merchant in Stockholm as a tribute of respect to his native place; and a table of donations to the poor, to which the said Robert Strang and his brother William contributed the principal share.

525

. . church door, which with the interests of certain savings in former times of plenty, amounts to about 100 yearly.  Out of these sums, besides a monthly distribution of about 6 or 7 and occasional supplies in cases of urgent necessity, the poor are furnished with shoes, clothing, and house rent.  Since the scarcity in the year 1783, when oatmeal was 20s. per boll, through the increase of the number of poor and the rise of provisions, the funds which before were accumulating have been scarcely adequate to the expenditure; and new methods are now trying to render the supply of the industrious poor more effectual, without increasing the burden of the community.  The fact seems to be, that over-grown charity funds, are enemies to industry, as they encourage the idle and improvident, to depend upon them as a security against want in the evening of life.  And so they will neither work nor save.  For many years preceding the year 1788, provisions, were more easily obtained by the poor, than now, by the great quantities of fresh fish with which the market of Forfar was supplied at very reasonable prices, by carriers who gained a livelihood by bringing them almost daily from the sea-port towns.  A supply which had its influence also on the price of meat.  But since the year 1788 fish have been very scarce; the haddocks particularly have left our coasts entirely, and one great article for the subsistence of the poor, as well as a luxury for the rich, is withdrawn.

There is a weekly market held in Forfar every Saturday; it is well attended, and a great deal of country business is transacted there.  A branch of the Dundee Banking Company, and one of the commercial Bank Company of Aberdeen, have been established here for these two or three years, and both have been considerable employ*.

There . .

* It is a singular circumstance in the history of this burgh that it obtained an . .

526

. . are several well frequented fairs kept on the muir adjoining to the town; the custom of one of them was purchased some time ago from the Earl of Strathmore, and all make a considerable addition to the revenue of the burgh.  From Martinmas to Candlemas there is a weekly market on Wednesday, free of custom, held on the street for the sale of fat cattle; and during the feed-time there is one weekly on the same day for the sale of work horses, all of which are well frequented, and occasion the spending a great deal of money in the town, by the country people who attend them*.

Surface, Soil, &c. - The Landward Parish presents a level prospect to the eye, intercepted only by the hill of Balnashiner (Balnashanner) directly to the south of the town, part of which is within the royalty, and from the top almost the whole parish, as well as a great extent of country beyond it, may he seen at one view.  The west end of this hill is the place of execution of public justice, and it is said that it derives, its name in the Gaelic, from the complaint of a Highland boy, following his grandfather, who had forfeited his life to the justice of his country.  The soil is various.  To the north and south it is in general, light and thin, with a gravel bottom, as in the burgh land; about the middle, from the east to west, spouty clay land.

Rivers

. . an act of the Scotch Parliament, in the reign of King James VI, changing its weekly market day from Sunday to Friday.  At what time is was changed from Friday to Saturday, the incumbent has not been able to learn, but the reason of the change has evidently been, that Friday interfered with the great weekly market in Dundee, and that the other days in the week were kept as fair days by the other towns in the shire.

* It is perhaps proper to take notice of the inconvenience which arises to trading people, from the want of a proper and uniform standard of weights and measures.  A pound of butter in Forfar is 24 English ounces; in Kirriemuir 3 miles distant it is 27 ounces, the same difference obtains in cheese, and a similar one in other articles.

527

Rivers and Lakes. - There are no rivers in the parish, and scarce any stream that deserves the name of a burn.  Two trouting- rivers, Lunan and Venny, indeed take their rise in this parish but are both inconsiderable rills in so far as connected with it.  Such is the scarcity of water, that of 8 mills in the parish, six are driven by water collected from small springs which in summer do little execution, one is driven by wind, and another by a horse.

There were, before the draining, three lakes (lochs) in the parish, Forfar, Restenet, and Fithie; all abounding in pike, perch and eel; and since a communication has been opened by a drain between the Loch of Forfar and the river Dean, trout of a considerable size are sometimes taken; but none of these fish have been brought to market except eels, which some time ago were exposed in great numbers, taken in an ark at the outlet of Loch Restenet.

The loch of Forfar, upwards of 20 years ago, was drained of about a 6 feet perpendicular depth of water.  About a mile in length and a quarter of a mile in breadth, of various depth, (from 2 to 22 feet in summer) still remains.  No arable land has been gained by this draining, but a very considerable quantity of moss and marle.  A cubic yard and a half of solid moss is supposed to produce a cart load of peats, valued, as they lie upon the bank, from 8d. to 1s.  To this the expense of digging, drying, and leading must he added to make the full price, and that will be little short of the prime cost.  Those who dig and dry them for sale, usually charge the people in Forfar half a crown for a small cart load of dried peats laid down at the door.  The boll of marle, consisting of 8 cubic feet, brings 8d. to the proprietor, out of which he pays 1d. for digging or 1d. for dragging; for they not only dig for the marle it the recovered land, but heave it from the bottom of the lake by a machine, such as is used for clearing the channel of . .

528

. . of the Thames; and this operation requires the labour of three men, each of whom in good weather will make from 20d. to 2s. per day.  The marle is an excellent manure for the improvement of waste lands, and answers well in compost for most of the ground in this country; the rapid improvement of which is to be dated from its discovery.  It is of two kinds, both produced from shells and both equally good, but differing very materially in their consistency.  Both of the form, in a short time, a dry and apparently solid mass, and one species continues so, though carried to a distance, like flacked lime; the other by agitation of the carriage becomes in a manner liquid, and cannot without a very close cart, be conveyed to any considerable distance.

The draining of the lake cost Lord Strathmore about 3,000, and it has yielded him from 500 to 700 per annum, but both the moss and the marle are now nearly exhausted; and some years hence, perhaps, the drain being neglected, the loch may again rise to its ancient boundaries*.

Loch . .

* Before this loch was drained, and near the north ride of it, there was an artificial island composed of large piles of oak and loose stones, with a stratum of earth above, on which are planted some aspen and sloe trees, supposed to have been a place of religious retirement for Queen Margaret.  This now forms a very curious peninsula.  The vestiges of a building, probably a place of worship, are still to he seen.  And it is likely there might be some accommodation too for the occasional residence of the priest of the place, as the remains of an oven were discernible not many years ago, and also something of the furniture of a pleasure garden.  It appears that the loch has at some period surrounded the rising ground called the manor, and the adjacent hill on which the castle of Forfar stood; which hill is not, as the authors of the Encyclopedia Britannica suppose, artificial, but a congestum of sand and fat clay, evidently disposed in various irregular strata by the hand of nature.  Besides the fish above mentioned, the loch is frequented by water fowl of various kinds and in the months of July and August.  About sunset it is infested, or rather fishers upon it are plagued, by flies of the gnat kind, which fasten in great numbers on every part of their clothes, and leaving their skins, fly off sportive from . .

529

Loch Restenet, the property of George Dempster Esq. of Dunnichen, has been lately drained.  The extent of ground recovered does not exceed 200 acres, yet the value of the moss and marle has been computed at above 50,000.  Indeed the marle is supposed to be inexhaustible.  Upon the S.W. side of this lake, and almost surrounded by it, stood the priory and the parish church, the ruins of which still remain.  There is also standing in a pretty entire state, a very neat steeple and spire built of stone and run-lime with a sort of fineering of polished asher.  This is said to have been a dependency of the monastery of Jedburgh, where their valuable papers and effects were kept, as a place of safety from the depredations of the English borderers *.

Loch Fithie, a little to the S. of Loch Restenet, a beautiful little sheet of water is also the property of George Dempster Esq.  It has little, if any, either of moss or marle in it, but abounds in pike and perch.  It is about a mile in circumference, of various breadths, and surrounded by a beautiful rising bank, which conceals the prospect of the lake till one comes just upon it, and heightens the delight of the wanderer with unexpected pleasure.  The banks are adorned with common firs, larch and spruce trees, in some places agreeably intermixed and well stocked with singing birds.  Every thing in this spot conspires . .

. . from a prison.  The incumbent has often returned home, covered with their spolia opima, after receiving no little entertainment from observing their method of disengaging themselves, which overbalanced the annoyance received from their buzzing.

* In this neighbourhood, and probably in the adjoining muir, in which there are the vestiges of a camp by some supposed to be Roman, Buchanan relates, that a bloody but indecisive battle was fought, about the year 830, between Feredith the Pictish Uspurper, and Alpin, King of the Scotch.  Several large stones, such as are usually found in Scotland commemorative of similar
events, are still standing, though without any inscription, not far from the supposed field of battle.

530

. . to form a pleasing retreat for the contemplative or the gay.  Its worthy owner has lately erected a handsome cottage after an East-Indian model, for the enjoyment of a summer day with his friends.

Woods, Rent, &tc. - On several estates in the parish, as well as on the property of the burgh, are thriving plantations of fir from 20 to 30 years old, and it is generally supposed that an acre of thriving fir trees 30 years old, would bring its proprietor at least 20s. for every year of its growth, after paying all expenses.  This is certainly turning waste lands (and such in general are the lands on which fir thrive best here) to very good account; besides that by the annual shedding of the leaves the soil is enriched, and rendered fitter for the purposes of agriculture when the woods are cut down. There are 10 heritors in the parish, of whom 4 reside; and there is besides a small estate belonging to the poor of the burgh.  The valued rent of the whole parish is 2587: 1s.: 9d. Scotch, and the real rent is probably about as much sterling *.

There are 3 large farms, which bring about 200 of rent and upwards, three that give about 100, 11 or 12 from 40 to 100 and the rest are small possessions occupied in general by weavers and other artists; for weavers in the country part of the parish, as well as in the town, form the most considerable body of labourers.  A weaver in the country, in general. has as much land as will maintain a cow or two, and sometimes a horse, throughout the year; and on most estates in the parish, are little villages peopled chiefly by tenants of this description, who join their horses together to form a plough.  The . .

* There is a considerable part of the landward parish actually within the royalty, the property of the community or of individuals who have feued from it, and consequently not comprehended in the above statement and valuation of the county lands.

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The number of weavers in the country in 1791 was 155.

The mode of cultivation after ley is, in general first, a crop of oats; second, lint or oats; thirdly, barley with dung; fourthly, turnips or some other green crop; and fifthly, barley with grass seeds, which remain four or five years under hay and pasture.  This practice differs, however, with soil and season and other circumstances, and can hardly be observed by the tacksmen of small pendicles, though every one of them has a part of his small possession in grass, turnips and potatoes, which last is much cultivated throughout all the parish, and forms, an excellent succedaneum for meal and a standing dish on the tables of the rich and the poor.

The lands in general will yield from the fifth to the seventh return.  Harvest is seldom reaped within three months after sowing, and in some years, particularly in the south part of the parish, which is very wet, it is much later.  Agriculture, however, in its improvements, is keeping pace in this part of the country with manufactures.  The fields are regularly laid out, inclosures are multiplying, and rents are double and treble what they were twenty or thirty years ago.  One farm in particular, which let for a lease of 30 years at about 50, has lately been let at between 300 and 400, and is still thought a good bargain*.

* On some of the estates in the parish, the exaction of bondage-service is still in use; and besides the stipulated rent in money or grain, some tenants pay poultry and pigs, and must leave their own work at the landlord's call, to assist in cutting the corn, casting peats, driving coal and other errands and carriages, in hay time and harvest, and at any other time of the year.  This is indeed agreeable to bargain, and the number of these services is usually specified and valued in the leases; but they are generally as unpopular as impolitic, and accordingly begin to be omitted in new contracts or lease.  Mill thanage exists in this parish and is considered as a grievance.

About 60 years ago, a principal farm servant might have been had for 35s.  . .

<532> . . or 40s. the half year, and a woman for 40d. besides her harvest fee.  Now many men servants receive 12 sterling per annum, and few or none less than 7; and women servants have from 3 to 4 a year with a lippie of lint? ground, or some equivalent called bounties.  A man for the harvest demanded formerly half a guinea, now he asks from 30s. to 40s. and is sometimes entreated to take more.  A female shearer formerly received from 8s. to 10s. now 20s. and upwards.  Male servants in agriculture, besides their wages, get victuals, or two pecks of meal a week in lieu thereof, with milk which they call sap.  Cottars generally receive from 3 to 7 a year, with a house and garden, and maintenance of a cow throughout the year.  On this scanty provision they live comfortably, and raise numerous families without burdening the public.  A family of nine children has been reared by a labourer of this description without any public aid.  The cottar eats at his master's table, or has meal in lieu of this advantage.  From 20s. to 30s. a year are given to a boy, from 10 to 14 years of age, to tend the cattle or to drive the plough.

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Population Tables. (reset from 2 original pages to aid reading)

 
Number of souls- - - - - - in 1755, - - - - - - - - 2,450
 - - - - - - - - - - - - - in 1781, - - - - - - - - 3,800
 - - - - - - - - - - - - - in 1790, - - - - - - - - 4,625
 - - - - - - - - - - - - - in 1791, - - - - - - - - 4,712
 - - - - - - - - - - - - - in 1792, - - - - - - - - 4,756

Examinable persons in the burgh in 1790,- - - - - - 2,667
Under 8 years age, in the burgh,- - - - - - - - - -   785
Total in the burgh, - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 3,452
Families, in the burgh, - - - - - - - - - - - - - -   983
Males 8 years old and upwards,- - - - - - - - - - - 1,252
Females 8 years old and up wards, - - - - - - - - - 1,415

Examinable persons in the country part, in 1790,- -   936
Under 8 years of age in the country part, in 1790,-   238
Total in the country, - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1,174
Families in the country,- - - - - - - - - - - - - -   269
Males 8 years old and upward, - - - - - - - - - - -   473
Females 8 years old and upward, - - - - - - - - - -   463

In 1792, within the royalty*- - - - - - - - - - - - 3,800
Of these, examinable, - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2,925
 under 8 years of age,- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -   875

In the landward, in 1792, - - - - - - - - - - - - -   956
Of these, examinable, - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -   765
 under 8 years of age,- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 191

Examinable persons in communion with the 
<533> established church, at Whitsunday 1790, about 3,213
Annual number of communicants,- - - - - - - - about 1,800
Examinable persons of the Episcopal persuasion, about 240
Examinable persons of the Secession, - - - - - -about 150

* A considerable part of what is called the country parish is actually within the royalty; and there are some houses supposed to be in town, which are built on county land.

533


In 1660
In 1755
In 1782
In 1789
In 1790

Baptised.
   41
   68
  141
  143
  147
 Married.
   26
   ~~
   43
   45
   34
 Buried.
   ~~
   51
   81
   51
  107*

* The Great increase in burials in 1790, was occasioned by the ravages of the small-pox.

From the preceding statement of the population, it would appear that Forfar ought to be a collegiate charge.

Miscellaneous Observations. - The poor in the country parish are few, only about 8 or 10 very old or diseased individuals claim the aid of the funds, and they are well supplied at their houses out of the weekly collections at the church, and the interest of accumulated collections in former years of plenty.  They have also a few acres of land, purchased by such contributions, as a reserve against years of scarcity.  All the above amount to more than 40 sterling.  There is not a beggar in the country parish, and only about five or six belonging to the town, who are furnished by the kirk treasurer with a permission-ticket, to distinguish them from strangers and vagrants.

About half a century ago the population of the town and country parish seems to have been nearly equal, the disproportion between them now will appear from the foregoing table.  There has been little alteration in the number of landward parishioners since the year 1781, though during that period there . .

534

. .  is an addition of near 1,000 inhabitants to the town.  The chief causes of this increase have been already pointed out.

The inhabitants of both town and country share alike the praise of industry, economy, and hospitality.  If fewer instances of intemperance, impurity, and prodigality appear in the country than in the town in proportion to the number in each, it is perhaps chiefly, because simplicity of manners is less liable to corruption in the former than in the latter, from a multiplicity of low ale-houses, these seminaries of impiety and dissipation.  The farmers and manufacturers in the former, however, have experienced a change in their dress and expenditure as perceptible as what has taken place among the inhabitants of the burgh.

The parishioners are in general attached to the religious establishment of the kingdom.  A small society of Episcopalians and another of Seceders form the sum of the sectaries.  A spirit of enquiry and a taste for reading is springing up, and popular superstitions begin to hide their heads.  The subscriptions to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Bee, and several periodical and other publications, scientific, religious, moral and political, are more numerous of late than could well have been expected; and they already shed an evident lustre on the conversation of many.

The presbytery of Forfar was disjoined from Dundee by an act of the provincial synod of Angus and Mearns, dated Arbroath, 17th April 1717, and the members held their first meeting by appointment at Forfar on 1st May following.

The stipend, as augmented in 1785, is 84 : 15s. : 9d-5/12 in money, and 31 bolls 2 pecks of meal, making, at the ordinary conversion, 100 neat, 5 for communion element money, with a house and garden, and a glebe consisting of about 7 acres.  The new church was opened for public worship on the 9th day of January 1791.  The oldest date upon the manse is 1619.

NUMBER

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691

PARISH  OF  FORFAR.

PRESBYTERY 0F FORFAR, SYNOD OF ANGUS AND MEARNS.

THE REV. W. CLUGSTON, A. M, MINISTER.

I. - TOPOGRAPHY AND NATURAL HISTORY.

Name. - The name of this parish in the deeds relative to the patronage, is Forfar Restennet (Restenneth).  In the "Estate and order of the Presbyteries" in May 1586, as recorded in the 'Booke of the Universal Kirk', Forfar and Restennet are inserted as separate parishes, and it seems, therefore, to have been intended to constitute them (as) two distinct parishes, an intention which was not followed out; or Forfar Restennet may be a united parish, though no evidence as to the period and circumstances of the annexation has been discovered.  No satisfactory account can be given of the etymology of the name Forfar; but a conjecture to be afterwards mentioned has been hazarded relative to the name Restennet.

Extent, Boundaries. - The extent of the parish is about 6 miles from north to south, and about 5 from east to west.  The parishes by which that of Forfar is bounded are, Rescobie on the east and north; Dunnichen and Inverarity on the south; Kinnettles on the south and west; Glammiss on the west; and Kirriemuir on the west and north.

The parish is situated on the south side of the valley of Strathmore.  A chain of lochs at one period extended through the valley, and three of them were within the bounds of this parish, viz. Forfar, Restennet, and Fithie.  One of those lochs, viz. Restennet, has been drained.  By cutting a drain to the west, and conducting it to the river Dean, which falls into the river Isla, the loch of Forfar has been greatly reduced in its limits.  This loch, though it is contiguous to the town of Forfar, and at me period bounded it on the west and north, is generally understood to he in the parish Glammiss.  The loch, with the land acquired by draining, and which has been brought under cultivation, is part of the estate of Strathmore.

The parish includes the royal burgh of Forfar, and embraces a considerable landward district.  The form of the parish and its . . 

692

. . surface are extremely irregular.  The ground on which the town stands and that in its immediate vicinity, is very uneven, consisting of hillocks or mounds of various sizes, and by their undulating form and position, and the nature of the sand and gravel of which they are composed, exhibit proofs of some great and violent convulsion in which water had been a principal agent, or that the whole had at one time been under water.  To the south of the town the land rises.  The hill of Balmashanar (Balmashanner), near the town, and that of Lower (Lour), at the southern boundary of the parish, are the only eminences that way properly be designated hills.  On Balmashanar, Craignathro, the town's property on the east of the Dundee turnpike road, and Berrymuirhead, also the property of the burgh, and situated at the south-west extremity of the parish, several quarries have been opened, and continue to be wrought.  These quarries are similar in their formation and qualities to those which are found in such numbers on the eastern division of the range of the Sidlaw hills in this county.  From these quarries, the stones of which the houses in Forfar are built, and the slates or rather sandstone flags with which they are covered, and the pavement for the foot-paths in the town, are obtained.  The slightly reddish -coloured stone furnished by the Berrymuirhead quarry, is particularly durable.  From it were taken the stones for the steeple of the parish church.  Immense quantities of pavement are dug from the quarries to the south of Forfar, and are conveyed to Dundee and Arbroath, and thence to different quarters of the kingdom.  No other minerals are wrought within the parish.

The soil, with the exception of a portion of the southern division of the parish, which is clayey and wet, is light and dry, and produces excellent oats, barley, and green crop.  The state of husbandry throughout the district and neighbourhood is highly creditable to the enterprise and skill of the farmers.  The average rent in the neighbourhood of the burgh is 2.:10s. per acre.

Botany. - The following particulars regarding the botany of the parish are derived from Mr. George Don's Account of the 'Native Plants in the County of Forfar'.  "In the fir-woods near Forfar grew the Hieracium paniculatum, var. maculatum not yet (1813) found in any other part of Britain, together with the beautiful Trollius Europus, Pyrola minor, and rotundifolia, and also Juncus Forsteri, Melica uniflors, Carex pallescens, C. remota, C. sylvatica, C. lvigata, and C.pendula, Triticum caninum, and Festuca gigantea.  There are farther the Dicranum undulatum  and the Hyrium crista-castrensis not . .

693

. . found any where else in Britain.  In the lake of Forfar are found the Typha latifolia, Stratiotes aloides, Lemna trisulca.  In loch Fithie is to be found the Isoetes lacustris, generally supposed to be found only in alpine lakes.  At the east end of the lake of Forfar, in small pools, is to be found Utricularia vulgaris and minor, both beautiful plants and of rare occurrence.  The Chara hispida grows in pools in the moss of Restennet.  The beautiful plant Dianthus deltoides grows on the north bank of the loch of Forfar, as also on dry ground near the west corner of the lake". (for 'lake' read 'loch')

In Loch Fithie, no marl has been found.  The Loch of Restennet was drained at considerable expense, principally for the purpose of obtaining the marl which it furnished.  The Loch of Forfar was for a long time dragged for the same purpose; and, from these sources, the proprietors derived a large annual revenue.  But the use of marl, an a manure, is very much discontinued, lime being substituted.  The marl found in these lochs in what is denominated shell marl, and is formed from the exuvi of several kinds of shell-fish. with which these lakes abound.  The marl has been dug to the depth of fifty feet.  The Loch of Forfar is fed by powerful springs emptying from its bottom and from its eastern extremity; that of Restennet, by powerful springs at its western extremity.  Formerly, the Loch of Restennet was, and now the springs conducted by the drain through the moss constitute the head source of Lunan Water, which discharges itself into the sea at Lunan Bay.

II. - CIVIL HISTORY.

The town of Forfar has been from time immemorial the head burgh of the county, and it was also the sole seat of the sheriff-court until within the last few years, when a sheriff-substitute was appointed for Dundee and its immediate neighbourhood.

In the earliest notices that exist relative to Forfar, its castle is described as a royal residence; and in the accounts of the Chamberlain of the Royal Household in the reign of Alexander III and of some preceding monarchs, a charge is entered for the King's gardeners at Forfar.  It is probable that the castle, the occasional residence of the monarch, and the residence of the sheriff of the county, gave rise to the fame of Forfar, and undoubtedly these circumstances secured to it its privileges as a royal burgh.  Nothing is known of the date of its original charter.

Antiquities. - In the vicinity of Forfar, there are remains of two . .

694

. . Roman camps, the one at Black Dykes, or Battle Dykes, in the parish of Oathlaw, the other at Haerfaulds, in the Moor of Lower (Lour), in the parish of Inverarity.  Between these two camps, there was a causeway, the greatest part of which ran through the parish of Forfar; and some indications of this road may yet be traced where the land has not been cultivated.  Nearly at an equal distance between these two camps, the remains of another camp are distinctly visible.  This camp is about a mile and a-half east from Forfar, and is of very considerable extent.  By some it is alleged that this is the remains, not of a Roman, but of a Pictish camp.  A fosse evidently extended from the Loch of Forfar to that of Restennet, and it is stated (in a paper published by the late Dr. Jamieson, author of the Scot. Dict., and. who at one time was a Seceder minister in Forfar), in reference to this camp, ".. that the ditch and the rampart had been cast by the Picts under Feredith, for guarding their camp against, the attack from the Scots under Alpin before the battle of Restennet."  Occasionally coins, urns, and pieces of armour have been found in the ruins where the camp just mentioned is situated; but none of them has ever come under the notice of the writer of this article.

At Restennet there are the ruins of a priory.  It stood on the west end of the lake.  It must apparently have been originally wholly surrounded by water, and must have been approached by a bridge.  It was connected (administratively) with the Abbey of Jedburgh; and, as the charters, &c. of that abbey were deposited for safety at Restennet, the conjecture has been hazarded that the phrase res tenet is the origin of the name.  It is stated by Spottiswoode, that there came to Scotland, about the year 697, one Boniface, an Italian, who preached the Gospel, and erected several churches in the kingdom, one near the mouth of the Tay, a second at Tealing, and a third at Restennet.  Boece says that, although Fergus appointed Iona to be a repository for the public records, yet Alexander I, on account of the great difficulty of the access to Iona, had caused our annals to be transported to the Priory of Restennet in Angus.  At the death of Alexander III, the monks of Restennet enjoyed the tenth of the hay made in the meadows of the forest of Platen.  To the 'Letter of the Community of Scotland', directed to Edward I (King of England), from Brigham, are subjoined, among the names of the bishops, earls, abbots, priors, and barons, entries under the head priors "de Restinoth"; and, in 1296, Robert, Prior of Restennet swore fealty to Edward 'Langshanks' (the above king, so nick-named for the length of his legs).  From procuratory of resignation and renunciation . .

695

. . by the Prior of Restennet, Maister George Fletcher, Advocate to the King, 29th April 1624, it appears that the Chapel of Dunnynald and the Kirk of Aberlemno, with their fruits, profits, and emoluments, were dependencies on Restennet.  From the Prior of Restennet, the magistrates and town-council of Forfar purchased the right of patronage to Forfar Restennet in 1652, for the sum of 2,250 merks Scots. *

On the north side of the Loch of Forfar, there is a peninsula called the Inch.  It has obviously been artificially formed, and some of the oak piles on which it rests are to be seen.  It is said that Margaret, Queen of Malcolm Canmore, had a residence upon it.  The ruins of walls of considerable thickness were recently to be traced upon it.  In a south-west direction from the Inch, there runs in the loch a paved road or causeway, which extends for some length, and may be seen from the margin when the water is low.

The Castle of Forfar stood on a round hill to the north of the town, and must have been surrounded with water.  The castle was destroyed in 1307.  In that year King Robert Bruce proceeded from Aberdeen to Angus, and here new success awaited him in the capture of the Castle of Forfar, at this time strongly garrisoned by the English.  It was taken by escalade during the night by a soldier named Philip the Forester of Platen, who put all the English to the sword, and the King, according to his usual policy, instantly commanded the fortifications to be destroyed.

Many of those unhappy individuals who were charged with witchcraft were brought to trial in Forfar, by a special commission appointed by the Crown in 1661.  The record of these trials was preserved, and contained many curious statements; but it has recently been amissing.  The following fact is duly entered in the council minutes: that John Ford, a witch-pricker, was sent for to prick witches at Forfar, and was admitted as a burgess on the same day with Lord Kinghorn.  The bridle which was placed in the mouths of the witches condemned to be burned, and with which they were fastened to the stake, is preserved in the burgh.

It has already been stated that the date of the original charter of the burgh is unknown, but it was a burgh before the reign of Robert Bruce, as the authorities of Forfar gave evidence during his reign that Dundee was a royal burgh, and had right of guildry and trade.  The original charter of the burgh was lost in 1657.

* The spire of the priory, and part of the walls of the priory and the chapel are still standing (in 1843) (a 2003 photograph.)

696

In that year (1657) Dundee was taken by the English, and a detachment was sent to Forfar, who broke open the prison, pillaged the town, and burned all its charters and records.  In 1665, a charter of novodamus was granted by Charles II.  And honourable mention is made, in enumerating the privileges conferred on the burgh, of the conduct of Provost Strang in protesting in (the Scottish)  Parliament in 1647, against the delivery of the King's person to the English.  The records of the town-council, which are preserved, begin with the year 1660.

Mansion Houses. - The only mansion-house in the parish is Lower (Lour).  It was built by one of the Earls of Northesk; and the present family of Carnegie of Lower and Turin are descendants from him.

Land-Owners. - These, with their respective valuations, are as follows:-

The Proprietors of Lower,		       786  0s. 0d.
Hawkins of Restennet,				444  2s.10d.
Charles Gray, Esq. of Carse,			327  9s. 6d.
General Hunter of Burnside,			233  6s. 8d.
Trustees of A. Greenhill, Esq. of Craignathro,	233  6s. 8d.
Trustees of Mrs. Knight of Halkerton,		233  6s. 8d.
J. Arnot, Esq. of Pitreuchie,			100  0s. 0d.
J. Anderson, Esq. of Clockbriggs,		100  0s. 0d.
J. Watt Esq. of Meathie,			 66 13s. 4d.
B. Graham, Esq. of Littlemill,			 66 13s. 4d.
						------------
					     2,590 19s. 0d.

Parochial Registers. - The parochial registers consist, 1st, of the register of baptisms.  It begins in 1659, and continues till 1715.  2nd, Minutes of sessions, beginning 1691, and continuing to 1715.  In 1717, registers of both descriptions just noticed are begun, and continued to the present time.

Public Buildings. - There is a town and county-hall situated in the centre of the town, (The Cross) and in the same building, for the present, is the jail for both civil and criminal prisoners, which has been declared wholly inadequate and unsuitable for carrying into operation the new system of prison discipline.  Not many years ago the proprietors in the county applied for and obtained an act of Parliament for erecting a sheriff-court-house, sheriff clerk's offices, record and jury-rooms, &c. which were erected at an expense of nearly 5,000.  They are commodious and handsome.  They are situated in the centre of the town.  Ground has been purchased for the erection of a new prison, a little to the north of the town, on the property belonging to the burgh, and the work is commenced.

697

III. - POPULATI0N.

The population of the parish of Forfar in 1785,	- 2,450
					  1790,	- 4,756
					  1800,	- 5,165
					  1811,	- 5,562
					  1831,	- 7,549
 in 1841, Parliamentary burgh, - 7,969
	  Parish, exclusive of - 1,618	-   -	- 9,587

Of this number, 7,363 reside in the old, parish. and 2,224 in the quoad sacra parish of St. James.  In the old parish, the number of families is 1,044; in St. James's parish, 272.

IV.- INDUSTRY.

The great proportion of the population of Forfar is employed in the linen manufacture trade.  The fabrics generally made in Forfar are, sheetings, Osnaburghs, and dowlas.  About 3,000 individuals are employed in weaving.  The number of webs, wrought in the week is about 2,000.  The present depressed wages are, for sheetings, 8s. per web; Osnaburghs, 7s.; dowlas, 8s.  Out of this sum the weaver has to pay about 1s. 6d. for winding.

V. - PAROCHIAL ECONOMY.

Town. - The town of Forfar consists of two principal streets, the one proceeding from east to west, and the other from the Cross to the north.  The great road from Perth to Aberdeen passes through the town, entering at the west and passing out by the north.  There are several smaller streets, and the town was rapidly increasing in population and extent until the depression in the staple trade of the district, which has continued for some years, has checked the progress of building.  Within the last forty years the aspect of the town has much improved.  Before that time the general appearance of the buildings was mean, many of them being covered with thatch, and outside stairs and other projections upon the streets were numerous.  But now, the houses are substantially built, and there are many of a superior description; and the streets are open, and all projections into them removed.

Railway. - The greatest recent improvement connected with Forfar and its neighbourhood has been the construction of the railway between Forfar and Arbroath.  The terminus at Forfar is at the north of the town, about five minutes' walk from the Cross.  It proceeds through the parishes of Forfar, Rescobie, Guthrie, and St. Vigeans, to Arbroath.  The whole length of the line is 15 miles, 2 furlongs, and 38 yards.*  The work was completed and opened for the conveyance of goods and passengers on the 3rd of January 1839.

*  The inclination on the line is 196 feet, the terminus at Forfar being much above the terminus at Arbroath.

698-699

In the original publication a two-page spread shows the GENERAL ACCOUNT of the RECEIPTS and DISBURSEMENTS of the ARBROATH and FORFAR RAILWAY COMPANY up to 15th APRIL 1841.  Click on each of the page numbers below to see a larger view - but please wait!.

 

PAGE 698

 

 

PAGE 699

 

700

The extract is from the last annual statement issued by the company.  This abstract comprehends the stock account down to the date of the balance, and the traffic account for the year, from the 15th of April 1840 to the 15th of April 1841.  The outlay of every description on the railway and works, and machinery, amounts to 131,644: 16s.: 6d.  The revenue, from the traffic, for the past year, amounts to 9,190: 9s. exclusive of 191: 5s.:11d. received for rents, &c.  The gross expenditure, connected with the traffic and management. is 4,272: 12s.: 8d., and the feu-duties and interest on debts amount to 2,405: 12s.: 4d., leaving a net surplus revenue or profit of 2,703: 9s.: 3d.  The whole expenses incurred in repairs of engines, wagons, and machinery, having been charged amongst the current expenditure, the reserved fund at last balance, which was 1,144: 18s.: 5d., is carried to surplus revenue, and the surplus revenue, now undivided, is, therefore, 3,848: 7s.: 8d.  The guaranteed dividend of 5 per cent. on the new stock paid up, must first be provided for.  It amounts to 628: 6s.: 7d.; and, this sum being deducted, there will, remain 3,220: 1s.: 1d. to be divided among the holders of the original stock, equal to a dividend of fully 5 per cent.  The directors mean to propose, that a dividend shall be declared at the rate of 3 per cent., and that the balance be carried to revenue account, as a reserved fund.

Whatever may be the result of this undertaking in a pecuniary point of view to the shareholders, it is a work which has been already beneficial to the community of Forfar, especially in the article of fuel.  It has opened a means or conveying the pavement from the quarries in Forfar and along the line of the railway, of wood from the surrounding country, and of bringing from the coast, coals and lime.  The advantages to the public generally cannot as yet well be estimated, but they do owe a debt of gratitude to the shareholders and to the enlightened, active, and zealous gentlemen who have superintended and conducted the affairs of the Company, among whom W. F. Lindsay Carnegie, Esq. of Spynie and Boysack, deserves to be particularly noticed.  Connected with this great improvement has been one of less magnitude, yet not altogether unimportant, viz. the formation of a turnpike road from Forfar to Kirriemuir.  The state of this road was long a subject of complaint, but this ground of complaint has been removed.  A good turnpike road has at length been formed; and the communication between . .

701

. . Forfar and Kirriemuir has been rendered comfortable, and a wide Highland district thereby opened up.

Ecclesiastical State. - The church of the old parish is situated in the town of Forfar, and is rather more than four miles from the most distant houses in the parish.  It was built in 1791 to accommodate 2,000 sitters.  It was altered in the interior in 1836.  By this alteration, the number of sittings was reduced to about 1,800, but a great improvement was effected as to the facility of hearing.  The church is a substantial building, though plain.  In the interior it is commodious and elegant.  It has a steeple, which was erected in 1814.  The steeple is a well-proportioned and handsome structure, and forms one of the principal ornaments of the town.  It has three bells, all of them the gift of a Mr. Strang, merchant in Stockholm, (about the year 1650) a native of Forfar.

The church of St. James was erected in 1836, at an expense of about 1,200.  It is seated for 1,100 hearers.  It is a neat and comfortable church.  A district as a quoad sacra parish was allocated to it by the Presbytery of Forfar.

The present Episcopal chapel was erected in 1824.  It is under the superintendence of the Bishop of Dunkeld.  It accommodates 380 sitters.

The United Secession meeting-house was erected about the year 1780.  It accommodates 400.

There is an Independent chapel in the town, which accommodates 400.  It was erected in 1836.

The old Mason Hall was recently purchased by some parties (not resident in Forfar) of the Roman Catholic communion, and there is occasional worship in it.

The stipend of Forfar is 21 chalders of victual, half meal and half barley.  The glebe was valued by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners at 20.  The present manse is a modern building.  It is a large and commodious house.

Education. - There are 14 schools in the parish; being 1 parochial school, 3 burgh schools, and 10 private schools.  There is a deficiency in the means of education for the children of the labouring-classes.  Their earnings are such as to prevent them, in many cases from paying for the education of their children, even low as the fees are.  The magistrates and town-council have had this important subject under their consideration, and have purchased a site for the erection of a school in the west end of . .

702

. . the town, locality where it will prove highly convenient and beneficial.

The parochial schoolmaster has the maximum salary, with 8 in lieu of a dwelling-house.  One of the burgh teachers has a salary of 40.  The other two have school-rooms free of rent, but have no salary.

Poor. - Up to the year 1840, the poor's funds of the landward parish were under separate management; but in that year an assessment having become indispensable for the relief of the poor of the parish, the distinction formerly recognised and acted on was discontinued on the opinion of eminent counsel, who were consulted on the point.  Previous to that year, the poor had been supported by the collections at the church doors, rent of land mortified for the behoof of the poor, and voluntary subscriptions from the landward heritors for the poor of the landward part of the parish.  The assessment for the first year was 350.  Last year it was 700, and there is reason to believe it will go on increasing, in consequence of the depressed condition of trade.  The assessment would have been imposed in this parish before the period referred to, had not the revenue, from the land purchased by money mortified about 1650, by Mr. Strang, merchant, Stockholm, afforded a considerable income for the relief of the burgh poor.

There are 146 individuals or families on the monthly roll, who receive on an average 4s. per month.  There are 19 on the weekly roll, receiving on average 2s. per week.  There are 34 inmates in the poor's house.

The burgh is governed by a provost and two bailies.  The town-council consists of 19 members.  Forfar is united with Arbroath, Bervie, Brechin, and Montrose in sending a representative to Parliament.

May 1843.

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