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Parish of Liff and Benvie

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: Liff and Benvie
1834-45: Liff and Benvie

Benvie, a village and an ancient parish on the SW border of Forfarshire- The village stands on Invergowrie Burn, 4½ miles W by N of Dundee. Here, at the manse, was born John Playfair (1748 -1819), the eminent mathematician and natural philosopher. A chalybeate spring near, once held in great repute, is now entirely neglected. The parish, since 1758, has been incorporated with Liff.

Liff, a village and a parish of SW Forfarshire. Standing close to the Perthshire boundary, 250 feet above sea-level, and 5 miles WNW of the centre of Dundee, the village is a pleasant little place, with a station on the Newtyle branch of the Caledonian railway, 4 ¼ miles from Dundee West station.

The parish contains also the Lochee and Logie suburbs of Dundee, the villages of Benvie, Invergowrie, Dargie, Muirhead of Liff, Birkhill Feus, and Backmuir, and part of the village of Milnefield Feus; and, comprehending the four ancient parishes of Liff, Logie, Invergowrie, and Benvie, is commonly designated Liff and Benvie. The original parish of Liff comprehended most of the site of Lochee; the parish of Logie comprised a portion of Dundee burgh, and was united to Liff before the middle of the 17th century; the parish of Invergowrie was annexed as early as Logie, or earlier; and the parish of Benvie was annexed in 1758. The united parish is bounded N by Auchterhouse, NE by Mains and Strathmartin, E by Dundee, S by the Firth of Tay, and W by Longforgan and Fowlis-Easter. Its utmost length, from E to W, is 4 5/8 miles; its utmost breadth, from N to S, is 3 3/8 miles; and its area is 8053 ½ acres, of which 4 (at Invergowrie) belong to Perthshire, whilst 956 ¼ are foreshore, 14 ½ mud, and 8 3/5 water. Dighty Water and a small tributary of that stream trace the northern boundary; and Invergowrie Burn, coming in from the NW, and receiving affluents in its course, drains most of the interior to the Firth of Tay. The land rises gently from the firth for 3 miles, till near Birkhill Feus it attains an elevation of 500 feet above sea-level, and then declines northward to Dighty Water. Sandstone, of the Devonian formation, and of various colour and quality, is the prevailing rock, and has been largely quarried. The soil of the lower grounds is either clayey or a black mould inclining to loam; of the higher grounds, is light and sandy. Some of the land is of very fine quality, and rents at from £4 to £6, this high value being due to the proximity of Dundee. A large aggregate area, in the N chiefly, is under wood; some 60 acres are in pasture; and all the rest of the parish, not occupied by houses, railways, and roads, is in tillage. Factories and other industrial establishments make a great figure, but are mostly situated at or near Lochee. In an enclosure opposite the churchyard of Liff may be traced the site of a castle, said to have been built by Alexander I. of Scotland, and called HurlyHawkin. In the neighbourhood of Camperdown House was discovered, towards the close of last century, a subterranean building of several apartments, rude in structure, and uncemented by mortar. Close on the boundary with Dundee is a place called Pitalpie, or Pit of Alpin, from having been the scene of that memorable engagement in the 9th century between the Scots and the Picts, when the former lost at once battle, king, and many nobles. Mansions, noticed separately, are Camperdown, Gray House, Bairuddery, and InverGowrie; and 18 proprietors holds each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 117 of between £100 and £500, 137 of from £50 to £100, and 265 of from £20 to £50. Giving off portions to five quoad sacra parishes, this parish is in the presbytery of Dundee and synod of Angus and Mearns; the augmented stipend and communion elements together have a value of £457, 13s. The parish church, at Liff village, is a good Early English edifice, erected in 1831 at a cost of £2200, with 750 sittings, and a conspicuous spire 108 feet high. There is a Free church of Liff; and two public schools, Liff and Muirhead of Liff, with respective accommodation for 114 and 205 children, had (1882) an average attendance of 93 and 77, and grants of £74, 10s. and £60, 15s. Landward valuation (1857) £11, 514, (1884) £15,215, 11s., plus £2099 for railways. Pop. of entire parish (1801) 2194, (1831) 4247, (1861) 24,108, (1871) 35, 554, (1881) 43,190, of whom 14 belonged to the Perthshire section, whilst ecclesiastically 12, 758 were in Liff and Benvie, 13,029 in St David's, 4270 in Logie, 3716 in St Luke's, 6641 in St Mark's, and 2762 in Lochee.—Ord. Sur., sh. 48, 1868.

Logie, a quoad sacra parish in Liff and Benvie parish, Forfarshire, now incorporated with Liff and Benvie. Constituted in 1877, it is in the presbytery of Dundee and the synod of Angus and Mearns. Pop. (1881) 4270.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

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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