"ROTHESAY, town and parish in Isle of Bute. The town stands on half-moon bay 1 1/2 mile wide, immediately within south-east end of Kyles of Bute, 18 miles south-west of Greenock; arose and prospered around a famous ancient castle; gave to the eldest sone of Robert III., and gives now to the Prince of Wales, the title of duke; ranks as a favourite watering-place, a retreat of invalids, a seat of manufacture, a seaport, the centre of a fishery district, a royal burgh, and the capital of Buteshire; enjoys so fine a climate as to have been long reputed the Montpellier of Scotland; commands charming views both from its front, and especially from Barone Hill immediately behind it; comprises a compact mass of streets at the bay's head, and handsome outskirts and lines of villas along the shores to the bay's mouth; underwent improvement of its sanitary condition by extensive works in 1871-77; acquired a tramway to Port Bannatyne in 1882; publishes 3 weekly newspapers; and has a head post office with all departments, 3 banking offices, 5 hotels, county buildings, public halls, an aquarium, a band pavilion, an excellent harbour, 3 Established churches, 3 Free churches, United Presbyterian, Baptist, Episcopalian, and Roman Catholic churches, an academy, and 2 primary public schools. The Castle stands within a compact part of the town; was founded in 1098 by Magnus Barefoot of Norway to secure his hold on the Hebrides; underwent enlargement to become a palatial fort of the Lords High Stewards of Scotland; figured in the invasion by Haco of Norway, and in wars of the Succession; was an occasional residence of several of the Scottish kings, and the death-place of Robert III; suffered injury by Cromwell and ruination in 1685 by the Earl of Argyle; and was so extensively and tastefully restored in 1873-74 as to be rendered eminently picturesque. The County Buildings are a castellated structure of 1832. The public halls were completed in December 1879, cost upwards of about £12,000, and have an elegant main circular apartment with accommodation for 1367 persons. The aquarium was formed in 1875-76 at a cost of about £12,000, is a crystal palace contiguous to the sea, and includes a promenade and concert-hall. One of the Established churches adjoins the ruined choir of what was for some time the cathedral of the diocese of Argyle and the Isles; and two of the Free churches are modern structures with conspicuous spires. The harbour was formed in years from 1822 till 1873 at a cost of about £22,000. Real property of the burgh in 1880-81, £55,704. Pop.8291."
[From The Gazetteer of Scotland, by Rev. John Wilson, 1882.]