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Parish of Huntly

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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1791-99: Huntly
1834-45: Huntly

Huntly, a town and a parish in Strathbogie district, NW Aberdeenshire. The town, standing 408 feet above sea-level on the peninsula at the confluence of the rivers Bogie and Deveron, has a station on the Great North of Scotland railway, 12½ miles SE of Keith, 8 SSE of Grange Junction, and 40¾ NW of Aberdeen. By a charter of 1545 to the fourth Earl of Huntly, it ranks as a burgh of barony under the Duke of Richmond and Gordon; and it owes much as a seat of trade and population to the vicinity of the Duke's seat of Huntly Lodge; much to facility of intercourse with neighbouring towns and villages; much to the transit through it of the great road from Aberdeen to Inverness; and still more, since 1854, to the construction past it of the Great North of Scotland railway. Its site is dry, healthy, and beautiful, amid charming hilly environs, healthy and swampish once, but now reclaimed, highly cultivated, and richly embellished; and it comprises nine or ten well-built streets, the two principal ones crossing each other at right angles, and forming a spacious market-place or square, in which stand a colossal sandstone statue, on a granite pedestal, of the last Duke of Gordon, by the late William Brodie, R.S.A., and a handsome fountain, erected in 1882 in memory of a deceased banker. The place thus presents a modern, pleasant, and even elegant appearance, the view of it from the S being singularly fine, since, besides the several features of the town, it takes in the ruin of Huntly Castle and the neighbouring mansion and pleasure-grounds of Huntly Lodge, and rests on the brilliant background of Ord Fell (817 feet) and the Bin (1027), which are all one mass of forest. Huntly or Strathbogie Castle, a stronghold in the 13th century of the Strathbogie Earls of Athole, by King Robert Bruce was granted to Sir Adam Gordon, lord of Gordon in Berwickshire, who fell at the battle of Halidon Hill (1333). Burned and dismantled in 1594 after the battle of Glenlivet, and rebuilt in 1602 by the first Marquis of Huntly, it ceased to be inhabited about 1760, and now is a stately ruin, which retains a few vaults of the original castle, but chiefly consists of a large round tower, with a great hall 43 feet long and 30 broad. Huntly Lodge, on a rising-ground, 1¼ mile N by E of the town and 3 furlongs N of the castle, was originally a shooting-box of the Duke of Gordon, but was enlarged in 1832 into a handsome and commodious edifice. It served as the residence of the Duke of Gordon's eldest son, from the time of the removal of the family seat to Gordon Castle; and after the death of the last duke in 1836, became the residence of the dowager-duchess. See Gordon Castle.

The town was almost surrounded with water during the great floods in August 1829, but sustained comparatively little damage. The ancient one-arch bridge across the Deveron, which commands a very fine view, withstood the pressure of the current; across the Bogie is a good three-arch bridge. A gas company was started in 1837; and in 1867 water was brought in from the Clashmach at a cost of £3140. Stewart's Hall, erected in 1874-75 at a cost of over £3000, the bequest of the late Alexander Stewart, a solicitor in the place, is a handsome Scottish Baronial edifice, with a public meeting-room, a public hall (600 seats), a clock-tower 80 feet high, etc. The parish church is a plain structure of 1805, containing 1800 sittings. The neat Free church, built in 1840 at a cost of over £1300, in result of the famous Strathbogie movements that preceded the Disruption, contains 945 sittings. Other places of worship are the U.P. church (1809; 340 sittings), the Gothic Congregational church (1851; 480), Episcopal Christ Church (1850), a small elegant Gothic pile, with a spire, and St Margaret's Roman Catholic church (1834; 400), with a curious crown-topped tower. The public schools on the N side of the town, looking down the principal street, were erected in 1839-41 by the Dowager-Duchess of Gordon, as a memorial to her husband; form a large and very handsome building, pierced with an archway which leads up to Huntly Lodge and surmounted by a small spire with a clock; and contain the parochial board school and the Gordon female industrial and infant school. Scott's Hospital, a fine edifice on the SE side of the town, was erected in 1854 from a bequest of the late Dr Scott, a native of Huntly, for the maintenance of aged men and women. In 1815 James Legge, M.A., Professor of Chinese in Oxford University, was born at Huntly, as in 1824 was the poet and novelist, George Macdonald.

Huntly has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, insurance, and railway telegraph departments, branches of the Union, Aberdeen Town and County, and North of Scotland Banks, a local savings' bank, 7 insurance agencies, 3 hotels, a dispensary, a coffee and reading room, a Roman Catholic school, a farmers' club, a bee-keepers' association, a horticultural society (1846), and a Saturday newspaper, the Huntly Express (1863). Thursday is market[day; and cattle-markets are held on the first and third Wednesdays of every month. Several bleachfields of great repute were long in operation on the Bogie; and the manufacture of fine linen, introduced from Ireland in 1768, towards the close of last century had an annual value of from £30,000 to £40,000. These industries have ceased, as also have tanning and distilling; but plough - making, brick and tile making, and the ordinary departments of artificership, afford employment to a considerable number of the inhabitants. A large trade in grain, arising since 1820, received a great stimulus from the opening of the railway; and other sources of prosperity are the marketing and export of eggs and cheese, and an extensive retail trade in the supply of miscellaneous goods to the surrounding country. Having partially adopted the General Police and Improvement Act (Scotland) prior to 1871, the tow is governed by a baron-bailie, a senior and two junior magistrates, and 9 police commissioners. The prison, legalised in 1847, has served since 1874 for the detention of prisoners for terms not exceeding three days. Sheriff small-debt courts are held on the second Mondays of March, June, September, and December. The municipal constituency numbered 562 in 1883, when the annual value of real property within the burgh was £7605. Pop. (1831) 2585, (1861) 3448, (1871) 3570, (1881) 3519, of whom 1948 were females. Houses (1881) 724 inhabited, 35 vacant, 8 building.

The parish of Huntly, formed by the union in 1727 of the ancient parishes of Dumbennan and Kinnoir: the latter to the right or E of the Deveron, is bounded NW by Cairnie, N and NE by Rothiemay in Banffshire, E by Forgue and Drumblade, SE by Drumblade, S by Gartly, and W by Glass. With a very irregular outline, it has an utmost length from NE to SW of 10 miles, an utmost breadth of 3¼ miles, and an area of 12,576¾ acres, of which 88½ are water. The Deveron here has a winding course of 10¾ miles- first 3 miles north-eastward along the Cairnie border, then 4¾ east-south-eastward through the interior, and lastly 3 miles north-by-westward again along the boundary with Cairnie; the Bogie flows 25/8 miles north-north-eastward along the Drumblade border, and, after a further course of 1¾ furlong, falls into the Deveron at a point 1 mile NNE of the town. The surface sinks opposite Milltown of Rothiemay to 290 feet above sea-level, thence rising to 650 feet at St Mungo's Hill, 720 at the Wood of Kinnoir, 692 at Dumbennan Hill, 1229 at Clashmach Hill, 1000 at Brown Hill, and 1285 at Muckle Long Hill. The parish, thus, is for the most part hilly, and was formerly bleak, but has undergone extensive reclamation and much embellishment. A considerable aggregate of low land, naturally fertile, and now finely arable, lies along the banks of the rivers; and a large extent of the hills, once heathy or swampish, is now either in a state of good pasturage or adorned with thriving plantations. St Mungo's Hill, in the E, terminates in a large crater-like cavity, generally filled with water, and its summit is strewn with fragments of lava and pumice-stone. Granite is the prevailing rock; limestone, of a quality not much inferior to marble, occurs in small quantity; and traces of very fine plumbago have been found near the confluence of the rivers. The arable soil of Dumbennan is generally a good deep loam, but that of Kinnoir is of a cold clayey character. The ruins of an old castle are on the Avochy estate. The Duke of Richmond is much the largest proprietor, 1 other holding an annual value of over £500, 2 of between £50 and £100, and 14 of from £20 to £50. Huntly is in the presbytery of Strathbogie and synod of Moray; the living is worth £330. The Gordon public, Kinnoir public, Longhill public, Meadow Street public, Gordon female industrial, and a Roman Catholic school, with respective accommodation for 319, 63, 43, 140, 362, and 78 children, had (1881) an average attendance of l90, 54, 21, 139, 261, and 54, and grants of £141, 11s., £54, 10s., £33, 18s. 6d., £96, 10s., £174, 8s. 5d., and £35, 14s. 7d. Valuation (1860) £8061, (1882) £14, 681, 10s. 5d. Pop. (1801) 2863, (1831) 3545, (1861) 4329, (1871) 4374, (1881) 4388.—Ord. Sur., sh. 86, 1876.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer


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