A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1851), Samuel Lewis


LESLIE, a parish, in the district of GARIOCH, county of ABERDEEN, 7 miles (W. S. W.) from Old Rain; containing 553 inhabitants. This place is said to have derived its name from a family who held the lands so early as the eleventh century. It is very pleasantly situated on the banks of the Gady, a beautiful stream celebrated by Arthur Johnstone, the elegant Latin poet; and was erected into a burgh of barony by James II. in favour of George, "dominus de Lesly," with the privilege of holding a weekly market on Thursday and a yearly fair at Michaelmas, both of which, however, have long since been disused. The parish measures three and a half miles in length and two and a half in breadth, and comprises 4000 acres, 2800 of which are cultivated. It is crossed by a ridge, in some parts considerably elevated, stretching from east to west, and dividing it into two nearly equal parts. Between this ridge and the high grounds separating the parish from the Alford district, is a valley watered by the Gady. Upon the north side of the river the soil is a light loam, on a gravelly or sandy bottom; and upon the other side a strong rich mould, incumbent on clay: the lands are well farmed, the seven-shift course generally prevailing; and they produce good crops of grain and turnips. The sheep are a cross between the Leicesters and the Cheviots, and the cattle are the native Aberdeenshire; the latter produce yearly about £1620. In this parish the landed proprietors are Sir Andrew Leith Hay, and F. Leith, Esq. The substratum consists principally of serpentine rock, with felspar, quartz, and a variety of minerals in small portions. There is no good wood, the only plantation being very small and not in a flourishing state. The fuel used is, peat obtained from a moss in the parish, and coal from Inverury.

The inhabitants are chiefly employed in agricultural pursuits; there is no manufacture with the exception of that of worsted stockings, in the knitting of which the aged females are particularly expert. The farm-produce is sold at Huntly and Inverury; but chiefly at the latter town, for conveyance to Aberdeen by canal. There are two commutation roads, one running parallel with the Gady, by Premnay, to the turnpike-road between Inverury and Aberdeen; and the other, in the direction of Kinnethmont, joining the turnpike-road to Huntly. The annual value of real property in the parish is £2472. Ecclesiastically this place is in the presbytery of Garioch, synod of Aberdeen, and in the patronage of Sir Andrew Leith Hay: the minister's stipend is £159, of which nearly a third is paid from the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe valued at £11.5. per annum. Leslie church, containing nearly 300 sittings, is situated on the southern bank of the Gady, not far from the eastern extremity of the parish; it was built in 1815. There is a place of worship for Independents. The parochial school affords instruction in the usual branches: the master has a salary of £25. 13. 4., and £2. 2. 9. in lieu of a garden, with about £13 fees; also £1. 13. 4. left for teaching the children of poor widows. The chief relic of antiquity is Leslie House, formerly the seat of the barons of Leslie, a castellated building now in ruins, founded in l66l,and once inclosed by a rampart and fosse.

[From Samuel Lewis A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1851) - copyright Mel Lockie 2016]