National Gazetteer, 1868

Rothesay - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868

"ROTHESAY, (called Killabhruic in Gaelic), a parish, post and market town, seaport, and royal burgh, and the capital of Buteshire, Scotland, 9 miles N.W. of Largs, 19 S.W. of Greenock, and 40 N.W. of Glasgow. It is situated at the head of Rothesay Bay on the E. side of the island of Bute, opposite the Kyles of Bute. The parish, which extends nearly 10 miles in length by 5 in breadth, comprehends Inchmarcock and part of the island of Bute, including the quoad sacra parish of New Rothesay. It contains, besides the royal burgh of its own name, the post town of Port-Bannatyne, and formerly the village of North Bute, but this last was constituted an independent parish by the court of teinds in March, 1846. It is bounded on the S.E. by Kingarth, and on all other sides by the Kyles of Bute and the Firth of Clyde. Its coast line extends for about 22 miles, along which are Scalpsie, St. Ninian's, and Etterick bays towards the W., and Rothesay and Kaimes bays on the eastern side, the latter distinguished for its safe anchorage. The surface is varied with low hills, the highest point, Kaimes Hill, rising only 875 feet above sea-level. Two valleys extend across the island, between the bays of Scalpsie and Rothesay, and those of Etterick and Kaimes. The underlying rocks in the southern portion of the parish are red sandstone and conglomerate, but those N. of Rothesay Bay are chiefly clay and mica slate, with veins of trap and quartz, and beds of shell and marl. There are several quarries of clay, slate, and greenstone. The soil in the uplands is light and shallow, but in the valleys a strong alluvial loam producing abundant crops. About half the land is under cultivation, and the remainder hilly pasture and moor, with 1,000 acres of moss and woodland. There are seven lakes, including lochs Fadd, Du, and Grenan, also a mineral spring at Bogany point about a mile N.E. of Rothesay. The roads through the parish are good, and there are abundant facilities of communication by steamboat, but no railway has as yet been constructed. The fisheries on the coast are prolific, and a salmon fishery has been established round the coast. The harbour, situated at the head of the bay of Rothesay, which opens just within the E. entrance of the Kyles of Bute, was formed in 1822, at a cost of £6,000, and a slip and building dock were added in 1840. It is a sub-port to Greenock, and has a lighthouse on the N.E. side of the entrance to the bay, and a small battery on the opposite side. Several steamers start from the pier for Glasgow, Greenock, Campbeltown, Inverary, and other points along the coast. The town was anciently a village attached to the castle, and was made a royal burgh in 1401, but did not come into notice till the establishment of the herring fishery in 1780. It is well laid out, though the streets, 13 in number, are narrow and wanting in airiness. The houses are built of greenstone. Scattered along the shores of the bay are numerous villas and detached houses surrounded with gardens. The principal public buildings are the county-court house and prison, erected in 1832 at a cost of £4,000, a savings bank, three commercial branch banks, gas works, library, and newsrooms. There are also shipbuilding yards, tanneries, a distillery, and a cotton-spinning mill worked by water power. The castle, which stands near the town, with its lofty walls partially overgrown with ivy, consists of a circular court about 140 feet in diameter, flanked by four round towers at the corners, and Robert III.'s closet jutting out on the north-eastern side between two of the towers, and the whole surrounded by a wide and deep ditch. It is supposed to be of great antiquity, having been taken from the Rodericks by Haco, King of Norway, and subsequently surrendered to Alexander III. of Scotland, in 1263. It served for several centuries the double purpose of a fort and a royal palace, and being held by the English was taken by King Robert Bruce in 1311, but retaken by Baliol in 1334. Robert III., who died in it, gave it to his son David, with the title of Duke of Rothesay, a distinction still held by the Prince of Wales as heir to the Scottish throne. The pile is now in ruins, having been burnt by the Duke of Argyle in 1685.Many of the working classes are engaged in the fisheries and coasting trade, and some as weavers. The town has of late years been resorted to as a watering place, and a retreat for consumptive patients, on account of its sheltered position. It is the seat of the county, sheriffs', and sessions courts, and is governed by 2 bailies, 14 councillors, dean of guild, and other officers. The burgh court is held on every Thursday, and the commissary court on every Tuesday, and Friday. Prior to the Reform Bill it was a contributory borough to Ayr, but since votes with the county. A newspaper called the Buteman is published in the town every Saturday. The parish is in the presbytery of Dunoon and synod of Argyle. The minister has a stipend of £276, with glebe. The parish church was erected in 1796 near the ruins of the ancient collegiate one, once the Cathedral of the Isles. There is, besides, the quoad sacra parish church of New Rothesay, built in 1798, and the parish church of North Bute, about 3 miles to the N. of the town. There are four Free churches, distinguished as East, West, North, and the Gaelic, also United Presbyterian, Reformed Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Roman Catholic, and Baptist chapels. The schools are numerous, including the parish schools, Free Church schools, three academies, female school of industry, four ladies' boarding schools, and a poors' school. There are various friendly societies and charitable associations. In this parish is the Bannatyne tower, an ancient seat of the Jamiesons of Kilmorie Castle, now in ruins; also Kaimes Castle, a seat of the Hamiltons. The Marquis of Bute resides at Mountstuart Castle. A Druidical circle is traceable near Etterick Bay, and numerous standing stones, tumuli, and ruins of ancient chapels are scattered about on the hill sides. The celebrated Earl of Bute, the first Scotchman who had held the office of prime minister since the union of the two kingdoms, was born here in 1713. Market day is Wednesday. Fairs are held on the first Wednesday in May, the third Wednesday in July, and the last Wednesday in October."

"PORT BANNATYNE, a village in the parish of Rothesay, county Bute, Scotland, 2 miles N. of Rothesay. It is situated near Kames Bay and castle. The inhabitants are chiefly engaged in the fisheries."

Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003