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National Gazetteer 1868

Nairn - Extract from National Gazetteer 1868

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer (1868)]

"NAIRN, a parish, seaport, market town, royal and parliamentary burgh, and county town of the county of Nairn, Scotland, 11 miles W. of Forres, 15 N.E. of Inverness, and 194 N.N.W. of Edinburgh. It is situated on the left bank of the river Nairn, near its confluence with the Moray Frith. The parish forms part of the great plain of Moray, on the Highland boundary, and is bounded on the N. by the Moray Frith, and on its other sides by the parishes of Ardersier, Auldearn, and Calder. Its greatest length from N. to S. is 8 miles, with a breadth of 6 miles near either extremity, but narrowing towards the centre, so that it resembles somewhat the figure of an hourglass. Besides the county and market town of its own name, it includes the village of Seatown-of-Delnies, both near the coast, which is low and sandy. The surface is in general level, the only eminence of any note being the hill of Urchany, near the southern border, which has an elevation of 500 feet above the sea-level. The soil on the banks of the river Nairn, which nearly bisects the parish in a north-easterly direction, in its course from the Highlands to the Frith, is a mixture of loam and clay, alternating with sand, which largely predominates near the sea-coast, but in the southern district it is a rich heavy mould. Nearly two-thirds of the land are under tillage, and the remainder nearly evenly divided between pasture, woodland, and waste. The climate is dry and healthy, which causes it to be much visited in the summer months for sea-bathing. The principal landed proprietors are, the Earl of Cawdor, Mackintosh of Geddes, Robertson of Househill, Rose of Kilravock, and Grant of Viewfield, all of whom have seats in the parish. The road from Elgin to Inverness traverses the parish, and the Inverness and Nairn railway crosses the western portion, and has a station near the town. The estates of Kilravock and Geddes in this parish were granted by King John Baliol to Hugh Rose of Geddes and the Lady Kilravock his wife, in 1293, and are still possessed by his descendants. Of this family was H. Mackenzie's mother, the heroine of Lord President Forbes's song. The town, originally called Invernairn, was founded by William the Lion, and appears to have undergone many changes. Its first site was half a mile at least from the place where it now stands, and was defended by a castle, the ruins of which are so covered by the sea that the foundations of it are only visible at spring tides. It is of considerable importance, being the county town and a parliamentary borough, though in 1861 its population amounted to only 2,533, having decreased since 1851, when it numbered 2,672 persons. Its principal street, called Main-street, runs in a south-westerly direction from the river bank for near 4 furlongs, and has a dingy, antiquated appearance, partially relieved by the modern public buildings. It is tolerably spacious and regular, with numerous small streets branching off on either side. To the N.W. of the old town, along the margin of the town-links overlooking the Frith, are several modern streets, as Cawdor-street, Cumming-street, and Charles-street, but these are as yet only partially edificed. The pavement, until recently notorious as the worst in Scotland, has been re-laid, and the town is well lighted with gas. The principal public building is the town and county hall, a modern pile surmounted by a spire. Its interior contains, besides the hall (sometimes used as a ball-room), the town and county gaol, and other offices. There are besides, the hospital, a modern building of Italian design; three commercial banks, a savings-bank, Richardson's inn, on the same side of the street as the townhall, where the "Nairnshire Harvest Home" is held; and at the S.W. end of the town stands the academy, which has a monument to the memory of John Straith, once schoolmaster of the parish. The other public institutions are, the news-rooms, library, gasworks, and several societies. A weekly newspaper, the Nairnshire Telegraph, is published in the town on Wednesdays. The bridge which crosses the Nairn at the town was originally a substantial stone structure, erected in 1631, but was much damaged by the floods of 1782 and 1829, which spread devastation along the lower part of the river bank. The harbour, which is formed by the mouth of the Nairn, is a subport to Inverness, and is well situated for trade, but is liable to be silted up with sand, as after the great floods of 1829, when the works constructed by Mr. Telford were partially swept away. It has since been improved by the construction of a breakwater projecting about 1,200 feet seaward from the mouth of the river, and affording complete shelter to vessels from the only winds to which the harbour is exposed. It has 15 vessels belonging to it, besides about 70 fishing boats, and is also a place of call for the steamers between Inverness and the Forth. The principal exports are, fir-timber, salmon, and herrings, the last being principally taken off the Caithness coast. The imports are, coal, lime, colonial produce, and general merchandise. Its original charter is lost, but its privileges as a royal burgh were confirmed by Act of Parliament in 1597. Under the new Municipal Reform Act it is governed by a provost, 3 bailies, dean of guild, and 11 councillors. The corporation revenue now amounts to only £700, the greater part of the landed property which once belonged to it having been alienated. It contributes with Forres and Fortrose to Inverness in pageing one member to the imperial parliament. Constituency in 1855, 117. The sheriff's court for the county is held during session every Wednesday and Friday, and occasionally during vacation, and for small debts on Friday only. The justice of the peace small-debt court is held on the first Monday of every month, and the commissary court occasionally when required. The court of quarter sessions sits the first Tuesdays in March, May, and August, and on the last Tuesday in October. Nairn gave the title of baron in the Scottish peerage to the ancient family of Nairn, which subsequently passed to a younger branch of the Athole family, and is supposed now to be vested in the Baroness Keith of Banheath. This parish is the seat of a presbytery in the synod of Moray. The minister's stipend is £294 2s. 1d., besides glebe valued at £18. The church was anciently a mensal church, attached to the deanery of Auldearn. The present parish church was built in 1811. There are besides a Free church; United Presbyterian church, built in 1815; an Independent chapel; two Episcopalian chapels-one English, the other Scotch. There are parochial schools, a General Assembly's school, a school in connection with the Free Church, a monitory school, and two finishing schools for young ladies. On the bank of the river, a little to the S. of the town, is the Constabulary Garden, with the ruins of a castle of which the Thanes of Cawdor were hereditary constables till 1747. The other antiquities are, the original castle, mentioned above, to the N. of the town its site is now covered by the sea; also the vitrified fort called Castle Finlay; and another at Rait. Roman coins have also occasionally been found-Weekly markets are held on Tuesday and Friday, and a corn market on Thursday. Fairs are held on the third Friday in April, 20th June, or Wednesday after, 13th August, fourth Tuesday in September, Friday after third Tuesday in October, and on the first Friday in November, chiefly for the sale of horses and cattle, but also for the hiring of servants."

"SEATOWN OF DELINES, a village in the parish of Nairn, in the county of Nairn, Scotland, 3 miles W. of Nairn."

"SEATOWN OF DELNIES, a village in the parish and county of Nairn, Scotland, 3 miles W. of Nairn."

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