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Auchterarder

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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Auchterarder (Gael. uachdar-ard-thir, 'upper high land'), a town and a parish in the southern side of Strathearn district, SE Perthshire. The town is seated on the brow of a low hill, 3½ furlongs from the left bank of Ruthven Water, which is spanned by a bridge (rebuilt in 1880) that leads to a station on the Scottish Central section of the Caledonian, this station being 1 mile SE of Anchterarder, 13¾ miles SW of Perth, 19¼ NE of Stirling, 49¼ NE of Glasgow, and 56 NW of Edinburgh. A castle, small but very strong, remains of which stand ¼ mile NW of the parish church, is said to have been built as a hunting-seat by Malcolm Ceannmor (1058 -93), who is further believed to have given to the town the western commonage of 228 acres; but the earliest certain mention of Auchterarder occurs in the charter granted to Inchaffray by its founder, Gilbert, Earl of Strathearn (1200), wherein he endowed that Austin canonry with the church of St Mechesseoc of Auchterarder. On the same abbey in 1227 Alexander II. conferred the teinds of his rents of Auchterarder, which, as the head burgh of Strathearn-perhaps a royal burgh-had a common seal, and returned a member to parliament. It figures in two ordinances of Edward l. of England; and Robert Bruce in 1328 bestowed its lands on one of his great barons, but confirmed the liberties of the burgh and its burgesses as they had been in the reign of Alexander III. We know not when or how those liberties were lost, but in 1581 an Act described ` Vchtirardour ' as ` pure and oppressit be brokin men and lymmeris, ' whilst ordaining that a yearly fair for the encouragement of trade be held there, in all time coming, on the 25 Nov. (old style). According to the New Statistical, Auchterarder was one of the Scottish towns ironically compared by George Buchanan with the fine English cities. Some English nobleman vaunting the latter to King James, the Scot replied that he knew a town in Scotland with 50 drawbridges; the explanation being that at ` a country village between Stirling and Perth, called Auchterardoch, there is a large strand running through the middle of the town, and almost at every door there is a long stock or stone laid over this strand, whereupon they pass to their opposite neighbours, and when a flood comes they lift their wooden bridges in case they should be taken away, and these they call drawbridges. ' On 28 Jan. 1716, when the royalist troops under the Duke of Argyll were advancing upon Perth, the Earl of Mar burned the whole of Auchterarder except one house; and on the 30th, when Argyll arrived, he could find no accommodation, but spent the night upon the snow, ` without any other covering than the fine canopy of heaven. ' Newte, who visited this place in 1782, says that it ` seems to have lain under the curse of God ever since it was burnt. The dark heath of the moors of Orchill and Tullibardine, a Gothic castle belonging to the Duke of Athole,-the naked summits of the distant Grampians-and the frequent visitations of the presbytery, who are eternally recommending fastdays, and destroying the peace of society by prying into little slips of life, together with the desolation of the place, render Auchterarder a melancholy scene, where-ever yon turn your eyes, except towards Perth and the lower Strathearn, of which it has a partial prospect. ' Fifty years later it rose to fame by becoming the scene of the first, and not the least, of those struggles in the Established Church that ended in the Disruption, thus:- ` The Evangelical party in the Church had always held it as a principle that the Church could not, without sin, act under any system of patronage that was subversive of the congregational call; and that party, having now become the majority, passed in 1834 the Veto Act, according to which no minister was to be intruded on a parish contrary to the will of the people. In the autumn of the same year Mr Young was presented by the patron to Auchterarder. But as a majority of the parishioners were opposed to his settlement, the nonintrusion party declared the presentation to be null and void. Thereon both patron and presentee appealed to the Court of Session, which decreed (1837) that the presbytery proceed to ordain Mr Young. The Court disclaimed any desire or any right to interfere with the Church, or to review or interfere with the decisions of her courts, when acting within her own recognised constitution: only it claimed, as representing the law, a third party, neither Church nor State, the right to decide firstly, the legal point, that, in terms of the compact between the Church and the State, the former had no right to alter the constitution on whose basis she was established, and therefore that passing the Veto Act was ultra vires of the Church; and, secondly, the civil case between parties within the Church, in which one party complained of being injuriously affected by the illegal proceedings of another. As soon as this decision was given, the non-intrusion party declared that the Church of Scotland was the creature of the State, or was Erastian in constitution, inasmuch as she recognised the right of the State to interfere, and of the civil courts to judge, in matters falling within her proper sphere and jurisdiction. And the same party declared in the General Assembly of 1838 (being a majority) that the supremacy and sole headship of the Lord Jesus Christ they would assert, and at all hazards defend. When the judgment had been confirmed on appeal by the House of Lords, May 1839, the General Assembly by a large majority passed a resolution pledging the Church implicitly to obey the civil courts in all matters of civil interest, but firmly refusing their control in things spiritual. . . . A second case arose out of the patron and the presentee raising an action for damages against the presbytery, which the Court of Session decided they were entitled to. In the first case it had been decided by the Supreme Civil Court, simply that the presbytery had acted illegally in setting the presentee aside by the Veto Act; and from the injurious effects of this new interpretation (as the non-intrusion party considered it) of the law of patronage, the Church might have been protected by a legislative change in that law. When the negotiations for relief in that way failed, the party desiring it passed in the Assembly of 1842 their " Claim, Declaration, and Protest. " . . . Matters were supposed to be made worse than ever by the decision of the House of Lords (Aug. 1842), confirming on appeal that of the Court of Session in the second Auchterarder case ' (article ` Free Church ' in the Globe Encyetopædia, 1881). Chiefly consisting of one main street, extending north-eastward for over a mile along the great highroad from Stirling to Perth, Auchterarder wears a modern and prosperous aspect. It has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, insurance, and telegraph departments, branches of the Bank of Scotland and the Union Bank, a printing office, gas-works, 5 inns, a coffee house (1880) with reading and recreation rooms, a library (the Smeaton), a Freemasons' lodge, and 1 mile SSW, a new combination poorhouse for Auchterarder and 15 neighbouring parishes. The principal public buildings are the town-hall and the Aytoun public hall. The former stands near the middle of the town, and, founded in 1872, cost £1600, and has accommodation for 600 persons. The latter, not far from the Cross, and fronting an elegant fountain, was erected (1870-72) as a memorial to the late Captain Aytoun of Glendevon, in recognition of services rendered to the town. A Gothic edifice with a handsome tower to the W, it contains a hall of 60 by 40 feet, front rooms of the same dimensions, and smaller apartments; and cost, with the fountain, more than £2000. Places of worship are the parish church (1784-1811; 930 sittings); the Free church (1843-45) with a tower 80 feet high, and with a stained-glass window (1879) representing the ` Good Shepherd; ' 2 U.P. churches, North and South; and a Roman Catholic chapel (1879). A sheriff small debt court sits on the last Monday of January, April, July, and October, and has jurisdiction over the parishes of Auchterarder, Dunning, Glendevon, Blackford, and Trinity Gask; Saturday is market-day; and cattle fairs are held on the first Wednesday of February, May, and December, the last Wednesday of March, and the Wednesday before October Falkirk Tryst, the greatest being the December fair. The manufacture of tartan and galas, introduced many years ago, is a thriving industry; and in or near the town there are now 6 woollen mills, besides 2 dyeworks, a brewery, a malt kiln, 3 flour mills, an agricultural implement factory, and a saw mill. Pop. (1791) 594, (1831) 1981, (1861) 2844, (1871) 2599, (1881) 2854.

The parish contains also the villages of Aberuthven, 2¾ miles NE of the town, and Boreland Park, ¼ mile W by S; and it comprises the ancient parish of Aberuthven, annexed some time before the Revolution. Bounded NW and N by Trinity Gask, E by Dunning, S by Glendevon, and W by Blackford, it has an extreme length from N to S of 63/8 miles, a width from E to W of from 21/8 to 3½ miles, and an area of 11,227½ acres, of which 12½ lie detached, and 46¾ are water. The Earn roughly traces the northern boundary, and from it the surface rises southward to the green, pastoral Ochils, attaining 67 feet at the NE angle of the parish, 200 near Coul, 500 just to the SE of the town, 400 by the poorhouse, 1250 in Craig Rossie and Beld Hill, 1000 near Upper Cloan, 1096 in Black Mallet, 1306 in Muckle Law, 1559 in Corb Law, 1582 in Sim's Hill, 1594 in Steele's Knowe, and 1552 in Carlownie Hill, these 4 last culminating on the south-eastern or the southern border. Ruthven Water, rising in the SE of Blackford parish on the western slope of the Seat (1408 feet), flows first north-north-westward through Glen Eagles to Tullibardine Castle, thence north-north-eastward past Kincardine Castle, and so on through Auchterarder parish to its confluence with the Earn, 1¼ mile N of Aberuthven, after a course of some 9¼ miles. At 3 furlongs SW of Auchterarder station, or just beyond the confines of the parish, its narrow dell is spanned by a splendid eight-arched railway viaduct, 498 feet long and 98 high; and, 1½ mile NNE of this, its principal affluent, the Pairney Burn, winding 5¾ miles north-north-westward from Corb Law, and itself receiving the Coul Burn (2 miles long) from Sim's Hill, is crossed by another viaduct of 2 successive arches, the upper one carrying the railway over, and the lower the Dunning road. Trap rocks form the main mass of the hills, and intersect the low country with dykes; while sandstone of various kinds, some of them quarried for building purposes, abounds through the centre and the N, where limestone also is found. Coal has been sought without success; but agate, chalcedony, jasper, and other precious minerals are fairly plentiful among the skirts of the hills. The soil is various-clayey loam in the N, sandy in the E, and a rich black loam near the town; nearly one-half of the entire area is pasture or waste, and plantations cover some 300 acres. On the summit and western slope of Beld Hill are traces of ancient encampments, outposts probably of the Roman station at Ardoch; and other antiquities are the ruins of Malcolm's castle, of Aberuthven church, and of the old parish church of Auchterarder, which, standing ¾ mile N of the town, was dedicated to St Mungo or Kentigern, and was either of Norman or First Pointed origin. Auchterarder House in Elizabethan, and Colearn in Scottish Baronial style, are both of modern erection; and 6 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 14 of between £100 and £500,13 of from £50 to £100, and 54 of from £20 to £50. Auchterarder is the seat of a presbytery in the synod of Perth and Stirling; its minister's income is £376. Under the school-board there are the 3 public schools of Auchterarder (an Elizabethan structure, erected in 1875 at a cost of £2000), Townhead, and Aberuthven, and a charity school, founded by John Sheddan, Esq., of Lochie, in 1811, to furnish free education to 12 poor children, and endowed with land of £1000 value. With respective accommodation for 250,154,100, and 203 children, these had (1879) an average attendance of 122,129,66, and 107, and grants of £108,12s., £107,3s., £62,3s., and £78,2s. Valuation (1881) £19,451,10s. 4d. Pop. (1755) 1194, (1801) 2042, (1831) 3182, (1861) 4208, (1871) 3795, (1881) 3648.—Ord. Sur., shs. 39,47,1869.

The presbytery of Auchterarder comprehends Ardoch, Auchterarder, Blackford, Comrie, Crieff, Crieff West church (quoad sacra), Dunning, Foulis-Wester, Gask, Glendevon, Madderty, Monzievaird and Strowan, Muthill, and Trinity Gask. Pop. (1871) 20,457, of whom 4611 were communicants of the Church of Scotland in 1878, the sums raised by the above 15 congregations in that year amounting to £4611. The Free Church, too, has a presbytery of Auchterarder, whose churches at Aberuthven, Auchterarder, Blackford, Braco, Comrie, Crieff, Dunning, Madderty, Monzie, and Muthill had 2783 communicants in 1880.

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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