A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1851), Samuel Lewis


LONGSIDE, a parish, in the district of DEER, county of ABERDEEN, 6 miles (W. by N.) from Peterhead; containing 2612 inhabitants. This place was disjoined from Peterhead, and received a separate erection, in the year 1620, when a church was built on an estate called Longside, from which the parish was named. It is of an irregular four-sided figure, and covers between thirty and forty square miles, the length and breadth being each nearly six miles. The parish comprises 16,370 acres, of which 12,550 are cultivated, 370 planted, and the remainder pasture and waste, mostly capable of improvement. Its surface is either level, or rises in very gentle undulations, so that, during the overflowings of the river Ugie, which runs through the parish from west to east, large portions of the land are under water. The river Ugie affords good trout-angling; and after the union of its two branches here, which have flowed separately for ten or twelve miles from the west, it falls into the sea near Peterhead, about four miles from the junction. The SOIL is in general light and shallow, and is incumbent upon a ferruginous stratum here called pan, of hard consistence, and, when mixed at breaking up, detrimental to the superior soil. The peat-moss, of which only five tracts now remain, is disappearing by degrees through the progress of agricultural improvement. The usual kinds of grain, with the exception of wheat, are raised, as well as the ordinary green crops; the whole amounting in annual value to £56,100, of which the oats return £31,200, and the turnips £10,500. The climate is humid, cold, and variable, and unsuited to the more delicate grain and vegetables; but the farming is good, and is carried on chiefly according to the five-shift course, though the seven-shift is sometimes followed. Bone-dust manure, bottomed with dung and light mould, is plentifully applied to the turnip soils; and among other improvements, extensive draining, subsoil and trench ploughing, and the formation of inclosures of stone dykes, are conspicuous. Great attention is also paid to the rearing of cattle, consisting of the native Buchan breed, with occasional crosses with the Teeswater. Most of the farmers belong to the Buchan Agricultural Association, the premiums of which, for superiority in every branch of husbandry, have excited a laudable spirit of emulation, and proved highly beneficial. The farm-buildings are in good condition, and each of them has generally a threshing-mill attached.

The prevailing rock is a fine grey-coloured granite, of firm texture, and capable of a high polish. Several quarries of it are worked, supplying a material extensively used for the more ornamental, as well as the substantial, parts of buildings. Of this stone, portions of the Duke of York's monument, in London, were constructed, and also portions of Covent-Garden market, and the walls of the new houses of parliament. Fragments of quartz and felspar are abundant. The land being chiefly under tillage, plantations are comparatively rare; the trees principally to be seen are Scotch fir, spruce, and larch, and though inconsiderable in extent, the plantations contribute to improve the scenery. The landowners are numerous; but two only are resident, occupying the mansions of Cairngall and Innerquhomry, which are modern edifices. The annual value of real property in the parish is £5443. It contains the villages of Longside and Mintlaw, two miles and a half distant from each other, and both founded in the early part of the present century; in the former are 384 persons, and in the latter 240. A flourishing manufactory of woollen-cloth was carried on for some time; but it was discontinued in the year 1828. A distillery has been at work about twenty years; six meal-mills are in operation in different places; and the parish is well supplied with the usual handicraft trades. There is a general post-oflice at Mintlaw, with a sub-office at Longside; and the parish is intersected by the high road from Aberdeen to Fraserburgh, which passes through Mintlaw, and on which the mail travels, and by that from Peterhead to Banff, running from east to west, and crossing the other road at Mintlaw. The farmers dispose of their dairy produce, grain, and cattle chiefly at Peterhead and Aberdeen, for exportation to London; the potatoes are mostly exported to Hull. Coal is obtained from Peterhead, and is now used to a considerable extent, the chief peat-mosses here having been reclaimed by the operations of the plough. Eleven fairs are held for cattle, sheep, and horses, as follows: viz., two at Longside on the Wednesday after the 12th of May, and the Tuesday after the 7th of November; three at Lenabo on the Wednesdays after the 25th of March, the 26th of June, and the 26th of November; and six at Mintlaw on the Tuesdays after the 25th of February, the 14th of April, the 14th of June, the 25th of August, the 7th of October, and the 14th of December. The two fairs at Longside are also for the hiring of servants.

Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Deer, synod of Aberdeen, and in the patronage of the Crown: the minister's stipend is £217, with a manse, and a glebe of several acres, valued at £17 per annum. The old church having been found insufficient for the accommodation of the parishioners, the present edifice, a plain and commodious building, was erected in 1836; it contains sittings for 1000 persons, which are apportioned among the heritors, and used by the tenants rent-free. There is also an episcopal chapel containing 551 sittings, erected in 1800 by subscription, at a cost of £429, for a congregation formed at the time of the Revolution, of which the Rev. John Skinner, well known as the author of some theological works and several popular Scottish songs, was minister for sixty-four years. The parochial school affords instruction in Latin and mathematics, in addition to the ordinary branches; the master has a salary of £31. 6., with a house, and £30 fees. There are also parochial schools at Mintlaw and Rora, endowed in 1829 by the heritors, from whom the master of each receives £10 per annum; and the fees of each are about £16. The master at Mintlaw has likewise a free house, given by the late Mr. James Mitchell, who left funds for the support of a female school at Mintlaw, and of another at Rora, and for the endowment of others in different parishes.

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