A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1851), Samuel Lewis


STRICHEN, a parish, in the district of Buchan, county of Aberdeen; containing, with the two villages of New Leeds, and Strichen or Mormond, 2012 inhabitants, of whom 681 are in the village of Strichen, 15 miles (W. N. W.) from Peterhead. This place, the name of which is supposed to be a corruption of Strath Ion, or "the strath of John", consists of portions of land severed from the adjacent parishes of Rathen and Fraserburgh, and erected into a separate parish, by act of the General Assembly in the seventeenth century. Towards the close of the sixteenth century, the lands of Strichen became the property of a branch of the ancient family of Fraser of the county of Inverness, Lords Lovat; and they have continued in the uninterrupted possession of the family until the present time. Even the Lovat estate, forfeited by rebellion, was restored to the family in the person of General Fraser, Lord Lovat's son, on account of his loyalty, and entailed by him. In 1815 the Strichen branch succeeded to the property in Inverness, thus uniting the two houses of Lovat and Strichen; and the title of Baron Lovat, which still remained under forfeiture, was restored by his late Majesty William IV., on petition of Thomas Alexander Fraser, who was created Lord Lovat on the 28th of January, 1837, and who is sole proprietor of the parish, with the exception of the small estate of Mill of Adiel.

The PARISH is about seven miles in extreme length, and varies from two to three miles in breadth, comprising nearly 10,500 acres, of which 6300 are arable, 450 woodland and plantations, and the remainder moorland pasture, moss, and waste. Its surface is pleasingly diversified, in some parts ascending gradually from the banks of the water of Strichen, and in others rising into hills of various height, the most conspicuous being the hill of Mormond, elevated more than 800 feet above the level of the sea. This hill, which is on the north-eastern boundary of the parish, is of conical form, constituting a good landmark to vessels navigating the Moray Firth; and was selected as one of the stations for carrying on the trigonometrical survey of Scotland. The only stream of any importance is the water of Strichen, or the North Ugie, which flows through the parish from west to east, dividing it into two nearly equal parts. It forms a confluence with the South Ugie about six miles below the village, and falls into the sea at Inverugie, near Peterhead. The river abounds with trout and eels, affording excellent sport to the angler, and was formerly frequented by otters, of which great numbers were taken; but few are now to be seen in its waters, and the breed appears to be nearly extinct.

The soil is exceedingly various, in some few spots luxuriantly fertile, but generally of very inferior quality: in many places are large tracts of moss, supplying only peat fur fuel. Among the crops are oats and potatoes; flax was formerly much cultivated for the neighbouring works, and since the introduction of bone-dust for manure, large crops of turnips have been raised. The system of husbandry is improved, and a due rotation of crops for the most part observed; the farms are generally of very moderate extent, and there are numerous small holdings. There is nothing peculiar in the agricultural produce of the parish. The moorlands afford tolerable pasture for cattle, and great attention is paid to the improvement of the breed. The plantations consist chiefly of firs, interspersed with other kinds of trees, and are in a thriving state; there are some remains of natural wood, and, in the grounds of Strichen House, some fine specimens of timber. Limestone used to be largely quarried, for the burning of which for manure the abundance of peat in the mosses afforded great facility; but from the indifference of its quality the quarries have been discontinued. Granite, of an excellent description for building, is found; and from the quarries were raised the materials for the erection of Strichen House and most of the houses in the village. Strichen House, one of the seats of Lord Lovat, is a spacious and elegant mansion erected in 1821, and situated in an ample demesne tastefully laid out, and embellished with some venerable yew-trees more than a hundred years old, and with thriving plantations.

The village of Strichen is pleasantly situated nearly in the centre of the parish; it is well built, and contains some good houses. A town-house, a substantial structure with a spire, was erected at a cost of £2000 in 1816, by Mrs. Fraser, of Strichen House, during the minority of her son, the present Lord Lovat. The inhabitants are chiefly employed in the linen-manufacture, which is carried on to a considerable extent. A branch of the North of Scotland Banking Company's establishment has been opened in the village, and also a savings' bank, in which are deposits amounting to more than £1000. A library, a Masonic lodge, and a lodge of Od Fellows, are kept up; there are some good inns, and a friendly society for the benefit of aged men and widows. Fairs, chiefly for cattle and horses, are held on the first Tuesday in January; the Tuesday after the 4th of March; and the Wednesdays after the 19th of May and August, and after the 12th of July and November. The post-office has a daily delivery, under Aberdeen. Facility of communication is maintained by the turnpike-road from Aberdeen to Fraserburgh, which passes through the east of the parish, within three miles of the village; by the turnpike-road from Peterhead to Banff, which passes through the village; and by statute roads in various directions. The annual value of real property in the parish is £4685. Ecclesiastically this plac is within the limits of the presbytery of Deer and synod of Aberdeen. The minister's stipend is £158. 7. 8., o which more than one-third part is paid from the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe valued at £6 pe annum; patron, Lord Lovat. Strichen church being in a state of decay, and also much too small for the accommodation of the parishioners, was taken down, and the present church erected in 1799; it is a neat substantial structure containing about 900 sittings. There are places of worship for dissenters. The parochial school affords a good course of instruction: the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with a house and garden, an the fees; also a share of the Dick bequest. A Sabbath school is held in the town-house, and attended by 120 children.

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