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"BIRNIE, a parish in the shire of Elgin; bounded on the west, north, and east, by the parish of Elgin; and on the west by Rothes and Dallas. The figure of the parish is irregular, but comes near to an oval shape; the distance from the northern to the southern extremity being about 5 miles, and from the eastern to the western about 2 miles. The greater part of the surface consists of high hills covered with heath. The cultivated soil, however, in the valleys, and on the sides of hills, and the several falls of water in the rocky channel of the rivulets, have formed some beautifully diversified scenes. The parish is intersected by three rivulets, the Lennock, the Barden, and the Rushcrook, which flow into the River Lossie. The Lossie taking its rise in the parish of Edinkillie, and gliding through the parish of Dallas, receives the burn of Lennock on the west side of Birnie Parish, then flows through the northern end of the parish, and, after a course of about 25 miles, falls into the Moray Firth at the harbour of Lossiemouth. There are about 100 acres of deep rich loam on its banks. This river abounds in burn-trouts and eels. Salmon and white trouts swim up the river about Lammas, and afford fine diversion to the angler. The Lossie is subject to violent floods. Its most remarkable inundations happened in the years 1768, 1782 and 1829. The parish contains 5,784 Scots acres, of which 850 were under cultivation in 1791, and 2,130 in 1829. It is divided into 40 compact farms, varying from 20 to 120 acres, and held i leases of 19 years. About 450 acres are under wood. The real rent, in 1791, was £360; in 1835, £1,200. Population, in 1801, 366; in 1831, 408. Assessed property, in 1815, £10. Houses 82. This parish is in the presbytery of Elgin, and synod of Moray. Patron, the Earl of Moray. Stipend £156 8s 4d, with a glebe of the value of £17. The church was repaired in 1734 and 1817, and seats 253. It is built with hewn freestone, and consists of a nave and choir. The late Mr Shaw - a learned and respectable clergyman of this presbytery, who published the history of Morayshire in 1775 - says, that it is probable that the bishop's first cathedral in this diocese was situated in Birnie, and that Simeon de Tonei, one of the bishops of Moray, was buried in Birnie in 1184. "It is held in great veneration by many in this county," says the Statistical reporter in 1791. "They still, in some measure, entertain a superstitious conceit that prayers there offered up three several sabbaths will surely be heard. Insomuch that when a person is indisposed, or of bad behaviour, this common saying obtains, 'You have need to be prayed for thrice in the church of Birnie, that you may either end or mend.'" There are a parochial and a private school in this parish. Salary of parish schoolmaster £26. A stone baptistery, and an old bell made of amixture of silver and copper, of an oblong figure, named the coronach, are still kept in the church as relics of antiquity. Tradition relates that the bell was made at Rome, and consecrated by the Pope. The Biblestone, having the figure of a book engraven upon it, lying about a mile east from the church, on the side of the road leading from Birnie to Rothes, has probably been placed there as a landmark. The cairn of Killforman, of a conical figure, 300 feet in circumference at the base, has been probably placed over the remains of a brave man whose exploits are now forgotten. A cave in the middle of a steep rock, near the Gedloch, was, according to tradition, haunted about 150 years ago by a gang of armed ruffians who had no visible way of obtaining the themeans of subsistence but by theft and robbery. Some vestiges of an encampment can be traced near the burn of Barden. It commands a prospect of the Moray Firth, from Speymouth to Cromarty bay. Probably the Danes, after invading this part of the country, had a camp there. This parish is entirely the property of the Earl of Seafield, who has done agreat deal for its agricultural improvement,advancing the sum of £5 to his tenants for every acre of land brought under cultivation."

From The Topographical, Statistical and Historical Gazetteer of Scotland published in 1842 by A Fullarton and Co, Brunswick Street, Glasgow.


Church Records

  • OPR Dates: Baptisms 1712-1854, Marriages 1715-1854, Burials 1722-69, 1783-1803.

Description and Travel

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Names, Geographical

Places in the Parish of Birnie, with National Grid References.

Bardens NJ209543 Bardenside NJ214541 Bardon NJ209543 Bardonside NJ214541 Barholm NJ216582 Blairnha' NJ197548 (Recently rebuilt) Burnbank NJ223563 Castlehill NJ217569 Church NJ207587 Claypot NJ219566 Duffushillock NJ213593 Dykeside NJ209588 Easterton NJ213561 Gedloch NJ228551 Glenchapel NJ191525 Glenlatterach NJ200544 Grangemeadow NJ219559 Hangingfolds NJ207547 Hillhead NJ203583 Level NJ221581 Lochbuie NJ212532 Middleton NJ204547 Milltown NJ202580 Nether Birnie NJ207592 (Formerly Stankhouse) Newlands of Easterton NJ218564 Paddock Hall NJ205587 Paddockhaugh NJ205587 Rashcrook NJ224573 Rhynagairn NJ210551 Rushcrook NJ224573 (Now Rashcrook) School NJ214566 (Now Birnie Inn) Shougle NJ211552 Smithy NJ213575 (In Thomshill) Stank House NJ207592 (Now Nether Birnie) Thomshill NJ212574 Trochail NJ220575 Upper Glenchapel NJ191518 Wardend NJ227556 Woodside NJ226561 (Modern house) Information supplied originally to GENUKI by Anne Burgess.