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Help and advice for Parish of Inverkeillor, Angus Presbytery of Arbroath, Synod of Angus and Mearns. -

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Parish of Inverkeillor, Angus Presbytery of Arbroath, Synod of Angus and Mearns. -

By the Rev. Alexander Carnegie, Minister.

I. - Topography and Natural History.

It appears from a charter describing the lands of Boysack, that the ancient name of this parish was Conghoillis. The name Inverkeilor describes the situation of the parish at the mouth of the Keilor, - a rivulet which empties itself into the sea about a mile south from the village, at the southern termination of the bay of Lunan.

Extent and Boundaries.
The parish is of an oblong form, extending from the sea westward about 7 miles. Its greatest breadth is form Gighty burn, its north boundary, to the bold rocky shore that bounds the land on the south, about 4 ½ miles. It gradually becomes narrower as it extends westward, and its medium breadth may be about 2 ½ miles.

Topographical Appearances.
It is in general pretty level, except on the north side of the river Lunan, from which the ground rises, forming a gently sloping bank of good arable land; and from the south side of he Keilor the ascent is gradual till it terminates in the high rocky coast, where there is a remarkable promontory, the Redhead, 45 fathoms in height. It is seen at a great distance from sea, and abounds with a variety of sea-fowls. The extent of coast in this parish, form the mouth of the Lunan round to near the fishing village of Airthmithie, is from 5 to 6 miles. That part of it along the bay of Lunan (which affords a safe anchorage for ships, except when the wind blows from any point of the east,) is flat firm sand, over which the tide flows till it reaches a sandy bank overgrown with bent. From this point there is a beautiful extent of table land westward betwixt the Lunan and the Keilor, where the soil is of a free fertile quality, has encouraged the landlords and tenants to drain the land completely, so that the air is pure and salubrious; and we have no very prevalent distemper.

The river Lunan has its source from a well near Forfar, called Lunan Well; it passes through a chain of lochs, viz. Restenet, Rescobie, and Balgaves, and is in its course fed by several burns. It then runs eastward through this parish with a clear current, and, after a variety of beautiful windings, falls into the sea at Redcastle in Lunan bay. On the north side of the Lunan there is no quarry of freestone; only a hard bluish whinstone, very useful for road-making; but between the Lunan and Keilor, quarries of fine freestone fit for hewn work abound.

The prevailing rock in the parish is red sandstone, intermingled with trap and porphyry rocks. Of these there is a fine display at the Red Head. Agates are found in the trap rocks; and the rocks of this district are used in building, and for road-making. Dr Fleming and Professor Jameson have described the geology of the Red Head.


The land-owners are the Earl of Northesk, Lord Panmure, Messrs F. L. Carnegie, Rait, Johnstone, and Skair.

Parochial Registers.
The parochial registers of this parish commence in the year 1739; since which period they have been regularly kept.

At the mouth of the Lunan, upon an eminence that rises almost perpendicular on the side of the sea, and is steep all round, stand an old venerable ruin, named Redcastle, which tradition represents to have been a royal hunting seat; and the names of some adjacent farms are supposed to give it countenance. But if ever this was the case, it must have been at some very early period; for Chalmers in his Caledonia, quotes a chartulary of Abroath, which ascribes the building of Redcastle to Walter de Berkley, in the reign of William the Lion, who was therefore called the Lord of Redcastle.

About a mile north-east from Ethie House, the seat of the Earl of Northesk and near the sea, stand the remains of a church with an enclosed burying-ground around it. It is called St Murdoch's chapel. A considerable part of the walls is still standing. It is said to have been a parish church. Ethie House was built by Cardinal Beaton, and was his residence. At a place called Chapelton, nearly three miles west from the church, there are the remains of a chapelry of Quytefield, now the burying-ground of the family of Boysack.

Modern buildings.
There are five spinning mills in the parish driven by water, and partly by steam. They manufacture flax brought from the Baltic at a cheaper rate than it can be grown in this country. Their hours of working are regulated by the late act of Parliament.


In Dr Webster's report, the amount of the population is 1286: but it has since increased, as agricultural improvements advanced; for at the period of the former Statistical Account, the number was 1747, and in the year 1821 it was 1785. But the amount by the census of 1831 is only 1655, showing a decrease of 130. The accidental absence of a few families may account for the diminution in part, but the principal cause appears to be the tendency in all agricultural populations to fall off, in consequence of agricultural improvements. Besides, the old lint-mills on the Lunan, which formerly gave employment to numbers, are now very little employed. Nor does spinning with the hand or weaving afford sufficient encouragement to the many who are thrown upon that resource, to continue in the country, at a distance from the advantages they have in a town. Of late, too, it has become customary, as a precaution against pauperism, to take down every house not necessary for carrying on the operations of the farm. The village of Inverkeilor contains 30 families in separate houses.

As far as can be judged from the register, the yearly average for the three preceding years is of births, 45, - of mortcloths, 34, but there may be ten or twelve of these used at funerals from other parishes, - and of proclamations for marriage, 20; but when the parties belong to different parishes, proclamation is made in both.

The average number of persons under 15 years of age, 605

Betwixt 15 and 30 442
30 and 50 362
50 and 70 193
upwards of 70 53
The number of families in the parish 375
Chiefly employed in agriculture 130
In trade, manufactures, or handicraft 114


Agriculture and Rural Economy.
There are about 6000 Scotch acres in cultivation, and about 100 acres in waste and pasture, very little fit for cultivation, but not unsuitable for planting. About 112 Scotch acres are under wood, of which about 12 are in hard-wood, such as plane, beech, oak, elm, and birch; and the remaining 100 acres are planted with Scotch fir and larch, to which the soil seems most congenial.

Rent of Land.
The average rent of the arable land is rather above L. 1, 15s. per Scotch acre; but in some very old leases it is much lower. The average rent of grazing for the grass season is generally at the rate of L. 1, 10s. per ox or cow grazed, and at the rate of 5s. per ewe or full-grown sheep.

The cattle reared are the Angus breed, generally black, and without horns. Most of them are bought up for the English markets when three or four years old, where they are much approved of; others are fed for home use, or to be driven to the Glasgow market. This being a fertile corn part of the country, a considerable number of the cattle are bought at markets from inland situations, instead of being reared in the parish. Some few enterprising individuals have of late introduced the Teeswater or short-horned breed of cattle, which come sooner to a much greater weight. The sheep are in general the black-faced breed from the Highlands, and the ewes are crossed with a Leicestershire tup, to make the lambs heavier. Black-faced wethers and some Cheviot kind are fed by being flaked in turnips through the winter. Husbandry is carried on in this parish in the most approved style. The mode of cropping in general is, that no two grain crops shall succeed each other, without a clean fallow or a drilled green crop intervening, with one, and in many cases of late with two, years grass, - before being take up. The grain is in general among the best in the county, and brings the highest price in the market.

The general duration of leases is nineteen years. The farmsteadings are generally very good, and many of the farms are enclosed with stone fences.

There is a small fishing village called Ethie-haven situated a little from the south end of Lunan bay, among the rocks. But it is now seldom that a boat con go out to fish, as the old men are afraid to venture, and the young men seek employment where there is greater encouragement. There is a salmon-fishing in the sands of Lunan bay by a stake-net; and one has been lately commenced in the sea belonging to the estate of Ethie by a suspension net, as the rocky shore will not admit of stakes. The rents of these are about L. 140.

The yearly amount of wheat, barley, and oats, is about 18,000 bolls. The produce of potatoes, turnips, and all green crops cultivated for food is about L. 5,400; of hay and sown grass, (no meadow hay.) about L. 3,600; of land in pasture there may be about 2500 acres. The annual thinning of woods may bring about L. 100.

There is at Leysmill, in this parish, a quarry for pavement, where it is dressed by machinery driven by a steam-engine. This work gives employment to about fifty men. It belongs to Mr Carnegie of Boysack.


The nearest market-town is Arbroath. A post-office is situated near the church at Chance inn.

Means of Communication.
The length of turnpike road in the parish is, of the road betwixt Arbroath and Montrose, by Chance inn, nearly two miles; and of the road betwixt Arbroath and Forfar, through the west end of the parish, two miles. Beside the mail-coach, there are other two coaches passing and repassing every day by Chance inn;; and carriers' carts every day. There are five bridges in the parish over the Lunan in good condition.

Ecclesiastical State.
The parish church is situated near the east end of the parish, and is not convenient for the western part of it. It was built 100 years ago, is in decent repair, and was lately enlarged by an aisle. It affords accommodation to about 700; but the people at the west end, being at a greater distance, generally attend divine service at Kinnell, which lies nearer them. There are no free sittings.

The manse was built in 1795, and received an addition a few years ago. The glebe is five acres in extent. The stipend 16 chalders, Linlithgow measure, of victual, payable at the fiars prices. No chapels of ease; and no Seceding chapels; and there are but one family of Dissenters in the parish, and two of Episcopalians. Divine service at the Established church is well attended, and the communicants are 670, besides about 45 who are admitted at Kinnell. The average yearly amount of the collections at church for the poor for the last seven years is L. 50, 4s. 9d.

There is one parochial school, the teacher of which has the maximum salary, and about L. 23 a-year of fees; and another school, towards the west end of the parish, with a salary of from L. 5 to L. 7 from a deed of mortification, the teacher having a free school, and dwelling-house and garden. All the usual branches of instruction are taught at both. The people are so alive to the benefits of education, that hardly a child is to be met with that has not been at school. The total number of scholars at school in the parish is 142.

There is a library, chiefly of a religious description, formed by voluntary subscriptions.

Savings Bank.
There is a Savings bank, which was instituted in 1820, for this parish and Lunan. On the 31st May last, to which day the annual account were brought up and settled, the managers found the sum deposited to be upwards of L. 500, but particular circumstances have occasioned a greater amount that usual to be withdrawn since. The investments have hitherto in general exceeded the sums withdrawn. The deposits are made by cottagers and tradesmen.

Poor Funds.
The average number of regular poor receiving parochial aid is 28; and the average sum to each per month is 5s. besides some coals in winter, - and several of them have their house rents paid. The occasional poor receive about L. 17 in the year. The chief source of relief arises from the collections at church, also from seat rents in the aisle, lately built, amounting yearly to L. 23; from legacies there are about L. 10 yearly; and from the mortcloths and proclamations about L. 7, 14s. But, in addition to these, it is sometimes necessary to recruit the fund by a voluntary subscription from the heritors and tenants. There are no assessments as yet. Some of the poor retain the old reluctance to receive parochial charity; but of late it is too frequently claimed as a right. January 1835.

The Statistical Account of Forfarshire
By The Ministers of the Respective Parishes
William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh,