A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1851), Samuel Lewis
RHYNIE-AND-ESSIE, a parish, in the district of Alford, county of Aberdeen, 3½ miles (W. by N.) from Clatt; containing 1035 inhabitants, of whom 240 are in the village of Rhynie, or Muir of Rhynie. This place occupies the south-western portion of the ancient lordship of Strathbogie, granted by King Robert Bruce to the family of Gordon, of whom Sir James Gordon took the title of baronet from Lesmore, in the parish, and of whose residence of Lesmore Castle there are still some remains. The lands of Lesmore were at one time alienated by the branch of the Gordon family that held them, but were purchased about half a century ago by Alexander, Duke of Gordon, and, on the demise of the last Duke of Gordon, came to the Duke of Richmond, who is the sole proprietor of the parish. No events of historical importance are recorded in connexion with the place. Some tumuli at the foot of the hill on the northwest of the parish, were raised over the remains of those who fell in a battle that occurred in the reign of Malcolm Canmore, between the forces of Macduff and those of the usurper Lulach, in which the usurper was slain. The PARISH is bounded on the east by the river Bogie, and is nearly five miles in length and almost of equal breadth; comprising about 4000 acres of arable land, and some extensive tracts of moorland pasture, moss, and waste. Its surface is diversified with several hills of considerable height; but the only one deserving the name of a mountain is that of Noth, which has an elevation of more than 1000 feet above the level of the sea. The river has its source in the adjoining parish of Anchindoir, and, flowing north-eastward, falls into the Doveron at Huntly; the water of Kirkney has its source in the moss of Essie, and, after a course of nearly eight miles through this parish and part of the parish of Gartly, flows into the Bogie. These two streams abound with trout of excellent quality, affording good sport to the angler. There are several smaller streams in various parts, of which the principal is the Craigwater; all forming tributaries to the Kirkney. The soil is various; near the banks of the Bogie, a deep rich loam; around the bases of the hills, light and gravelly but fertile; in some of the lower grounds, clay; and in others, tracts of moss. The crops are, grain of different kinds, potatoes, turnips, and the usual grasses. Of late years the system of husbandry has been rapidly improving; and large tracts of land, previously unproductive, have been brought into a state of profitable tillage. The facility of obtaining lime from the neighbouring parishes has greatly contributed to the amelioration of the lands, and bone-dust has been introduced as manure in the cultivation of turnips. On the hills and moorlands is good pasturage for sheep and black-cattle, and from the mosses of Essie may be procured ample supplies of peat for fuel. The chief substrata are sandstone, whinstone, and slate; boulders of granite occur in various places, and quartz is also found in small quantities: the sandstone has long been wrought. The annual value of real property in the parish is £2716. The village, situate on the west bank of the Bogie, was built on lands leased by the Gordons, for the accommodation of the surrounding district, about the close of the last century; and is chiefly inhabited by persons engaged in agricultural pursuits, and in various handicraft trades. Facility of intercourse is afforded to the inhabitants by the turnpike-road from Huntly to Aberdeen, which passes through the parish and the village. A post-office has been established under that of Aberdeen, with which it has daily communication by a mail-gig; to Huntly there is a runner. Fairs for sheep, cattle, and horses are held in April, June, September, and October; and also, for hiring servants, at Whitsuntide and Martinmas. The grain and other agricultural produce are sent chiefly to Inverury, but partly also to Banff and Portsoy. There are two hamlets in the parish; one in the district of Essie, called Belhennie; and the other in the district of Rhynie, called the Raws of Noth; but neither of them is of any importance.
For ECCLESIASTICAL purposes this place is within the limits of the presbytery of Strathbogie and synod of Moray. The minister's stipend is £158, of which £ are paid from the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe valued at £13 per annum: patrons, the Duke of Richmon and the Earl of Fife. There were formerly churches in both districts, in which divine service was performed on alternate Sundays, by the minister of the united parish, from the time of their union till about the year 1774, when the service at Essie was discontinued. The present parochial church, at Rhynie, was built in 1823, and enlarged in 1838 by the addition of an aisle; it is a plain substantial structure, and in good repair. There are also places of worship for Independents and members of the Free Church. The parochial school, to which a library is attached, affords instruction to about eighty children; the master has a salary of £24. 7. 8., eight bolls of meal, a house and garden, an the fees. A parochial library at Essie is supported by subscription. On the hill of Noth, which is of oblong form, and rises into a conical peak towards the eastern extremity, are the remains of a vitrified fort; the walls appear to have been ten feet in thickness. In making the turnpike-road several stone coffins were discovered, some of which contained human bones of large dimensions; and Roman coins have also been found in the parish. There are likewise remains of Uruidical circles.
[From Samuel Lewis A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1851) - copyright Mel Lockie 2016]