A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1851), Samuel Lewis


NEWHILLS, a parish, in the district of Aberdeen and county of Aberdeen, 5 miles (W. N. W.) from the city of Aberdeen; containing 2865 inhabitants. The name of Newhills was given to this place when it was made the head of a separate parish; the name of Keppelhills, by which it had before been called, being changed in order to commemorate the new character it then assumed. Before its erection into a parish, the district formed part of the extensive parish of Old Machar, or St. Machar, whose church was in the town of Old Aberdeen; and it was impossible for the inhabitants, so remotely situated, to attend regularly at the church. This circumstance induced Mr. George Davidson, of Pettens, a burgess of Aberdeen, to assign the lands of Keppelhills, which he had purchased of the town of Aberdeen, as a permanent endowment for a regular clergyman. Upon this estate, consisting of 880 acres, he caused a church to be erected in the year 1663; and in 1666 the trustees, after his death, applied to the Lords Commissioners for planting churches, for the erection of the district into a parish, which application, being supported by the general voice, was successful. Since this period Newhills has enjoyed all the rights and privileges common to parishes in Scotland.

The PARISH is about six miles in length and five in breadth, and contains 16,850 acres. It is bounded on the north by the parishes of Dyce and Kinnellar, on the south by the parishes of Peterculter and Banchory, on the south-east by the parish of Old Machar, on the east by the river Don, and on the west by the parish of Skene. Towards the west the surface is hilly and mountainous, part of it covered with wood, and part with heath and stones; in the north-eastern quarter the land is tolerably flat, and more adapted to agricultural purposes. The climate is sharp and bleak, and the soil generally light and poor, except in the more level grounds, where a good rich loam is sometimes to be seen. About 13,865 acres are under cultivation, 176O are waste or pasture, 600 in common, and 625 in wood and plantations. Of the waste, 116O acres are considered capable of profitable tillage. The land is productive; but the efforts of husbandry are greatly obstructed in wet seasons by the hard impervious subsoil, which retains the moisture so as seriously to injure the corn, grasses, and turnips that are raised. Dairy-farming is much followed, on account of the vicinity of the parish to Aberdeen and the proximity of the suburban village of Woodside, where the produce is disposed of to great advantage. Many improvements have been made in husbandry within the last few years, and others are still going on, being much encouraged by the plentiful supply of manure and the nearness of good markets. The average rent of land is from £1. 10. to £2 per acre; the best land lets for � . Blue granite is obtained in large quantities from the quarries here, which are regularly worked; about 260 men are employed, and many of the blocks are sent to London and other parts. The annual value of real property in the parish is £11,22l. The chief mansions ar Springhill and Hazelhead; and in addition to these, the houses of Sheddocksley, Fairley, Craibstone, Cloghill, Gateside, Waterton, and Newhills, the last the property of the minister, are deserving of mention.

There are three paper manufactories in the vicinity of the river Don. One of these, at Waterton, has two large machines, which perform all the various processes of the manufacture in one operation; and about 150 hands are engaged in the concern, which is carried on night and day, producing immense quantities of paper, some of it writing-paper, but the greater part fine printing paper. The other two manufactories are employed in making wrapping-papers, and also give occupation to a considerable number of hands. There is likewise at Waterton a worsted manufactory, where about seventy persons are occupied. Eight meal-mills are at work in the parish, and two flour-mills, which prepare large quantities of grain for Aberdeen and the country around; also two snuff-mills, and a public brewery, the produce of which is very considerable. These numerous manufactories, with the constant working of the quarries, and the operations on the dairy-farms, keep up a general activity throughout the parish. The Inverury, Old Meldrum, and Skene turnpike-roads pass through the district; and the Inverury canal intersects it at its eastern point for about three miles. Three fairs are held at Greenhurn in summer for cattle, sheep, and horses. Ecclesiastically the parish is within the presbytery and synod of Aberdeen. The stipend of the minister is £415 of which £400 are derived from the land assigned b Robert Davidson, subject to the usual rates and charges on landed property; the glebe is of the annual value of £45. The Earl of Fife is patron. The church, whic is handsome and commodious, and centrally situated, was built in 1S30. There is a parochial school, in which the usual branches of education are taught; the master has a salary of £33. 7. 6., with a school-house of tw stories, an allowance from the trustees of the Dick bequest, and about £25 fees. In the parish are some minera springs, but they are of little note.

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