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Kinross

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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Kinross, a town and a parish in Kinross-shire. The town stands, 370 feet above sea-level, near the W end of Loch Leven, at a convergence of railways, and on the old direct road from Edinburgh to Perth, by road being 13 miles N of Inverkeithing, 27 NNW of Edinburgh, and 19 SW of Cupar; by railway, 15¼ N by E of Dunfermline, and 18¼ WNW of Thornton Junction. Dating from ancient times, it was treated by Alexander III., in the early part of his reign, as a sort of capital, and was the place where he and his young queen were seized in 1v257 by the faction of the Comyns. It figures in connection with Queen Mary's escape from Lochleven Castle, as narrated by Sir Walter Scott in the Abbot; and on 6 Sept. 1842 Queen Victoria drove through it on her way to Perthshire. It was formerly a very mean place, but has been much improved in recent times. The streets present a fair appearance, and have been lighted with gas since 1835; and a large proportion of the private houses are modern, substantial, and neat. The former town hall was built in 1837 on the site of the old parish church; but, proving too small, was replaced in 1868 by a new and more commodious structure. The county hall, erected in 1826 at a cost of £2000, is a handsome edifice; its prison was closed in 1878. Conspicuous on a rising-ground, the parish church was built in 1832 at a cost of £1537, and is a neat structure in the Gothic style. The Free church was built soon after the Disruption; and two U.P. churches belonged originally to the Burgher and Anti-burgher sections of the Secession. St Paul's Episcopal church, built in 1875 and consecrated in 1881, is Gothic in style, comprising chancel, nave, N transept, and tower. The general aspect of the town, as combined with the landscape around, particularly with Loch Leven and the encincturing hills, is very pleasing. Three lines of railway go one towards Dollar and Alloa, one towards Dunfermline and Thornton Junction, and one towards Ladybank, Perth, and Dundee.

The town has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, insurance, and telegraph departments, branches of the British Linen Co., Clydesdale, and Royal Banks, the Kinross-shire Savings' Bank, agencies of 13 insurance companies, 4 hotels, a library, a reading-room, a temperance hall, an agricultural society, two curling clubs, a fishing club, a cricket club, a masonic lodge, several benevolent and religions societies, and a Saturday newspaper, the Kinross-shire Advertiser (1847). A weekly corn market is held on Monday; cattle, sheep, and horse fairs are held on the second Monday of June, and the fourth Monday of March, July, and October; and a hiring fair is held on the Thursday after the second Tuesday of October. The manufacture of cutlery was introduced at a comparatively early period, and acquired much celebrity; the manufacture of linen attained some importance about the middle of last century, and progressed so well as, in 1790, to employ nearly 200 looms, and to produce goods to the value of £5000 a year; the weaving of cotton was introduced about 1809, and became so flourishing as to substitute power looms for hand looms; the weaving of woollen fabrics employed many hands from 1836 till 1845; and the manufacture of shawls and plaids was commenced about 1846, and promised for two or three years to be highly vigorous and remunerative. But all these departments of industry became extinct, and the buildings they had occupied ceased to be used as factories. A wool-spinning mill was erected about 1840 at Bellfield; another in 1846 at the S end of the town; a third about 1867, opposite the second, on the South Queich rivulet; a fourth and larger one about 1867 in the neighbouring small town of Milnathort; a large linen factory about 1v874 on the South Queich; and all these have continued to prosper. The town was formerly governed by a committee of the inhabitants, annually chosen at a public meeting; but now it is governed, under the General Police and Improvement Act (Scotland) by a senior magistrate, 2 junior magistrates, and 5 other commissioners. The sheriff court for the county sits on every Tuesday during session; the sheriff small debt court sits on every Tuesday during session, and once a fortnight, or oftener if required, during vacation; and courts of quarter session are held on the first Tuesday of March, May, and August, and the last Tuesday of October. Kinross House, on a peninsula between the town and Loch Leven, is a large and elegant edifice, built in 1685-92 after designs by Sir William Bruce, the architect of the later portions of Holyrood. It is commonly but falsely said to have been intended for a residence of the Duke of York, afterwards James VII., in the event of the Exclusion Bill becoming law; in the 18th century was the seat of the Grahams of Kinross; and through the marriage (1816) of Helen, daughter of the last of these, is now the property of Sir Graham Montgomery, Bart. of Stobo Castle, Peeblesshire. An older mansion, on a site near that of Kinross House, was for many generations the residence of the Earls of Morton, and was taken down in 1723. The original parish church stood near the extremity of the peninsula, in the south-eastern vicinity of Kinross House; and, taking from its situation the name Kinross (Gael. ceannrois, ` head of the promontory '), bequeathed that name to the town and parish. The municipal constituency numbered 296 in 1883, when the annual value of real property within the burgh was £5283. Pop. (1841) 2062, (1851) 2590, (1861) 2083, (1871) 1926, (1881) 1960. Houses (1881) 507 inhabited, 40 vacant, 1 building. The parish is bounded N by Orwell, E by Loch Leven, SE by Portmoak, S by Cleish, and W by Fossoway. Its utmost length, from E to W, is 43/8 miles; its utmost breadth, from N to S, is 4 miles; and its area is 10, 588 acres, of which 3313¼ are water. To Loch Leven flow North Queich Water, running 2 miles east-south-eastward on or close to the northern border; South Queich Water, running 4½ miles east-by-southward through the interior; and Gairney Water, running 35/8 miles east-north-eastward along the Cleish and Portmoak boundary. The surface, flat over its eastern half, rises gradually westward from 360 feet above sea-level to 536 at Wester Cockairney and 629 at Hillhead in the NW corner; and, being rimmed in the four circumjacent parishes by a cordon of hills, is often called the Laigh or Level of Kinross. The rocks are trap, sandstone, and limestone. The soil is partly clay, but chiefly a thin blackish loam on a gravelly bottom. About 280 acres are under wood; nearly 160 are pastoral or waste; and almost all the rest of the land is arable. Lochleven Castle is a chief antiquity, and, with Loch Leven itself, is separately noticed. Gallows Knowe, on the Lathro estate, appears to have been a place of public execution in the feudal times, and was found in 1822 to contain thirteen old graves. About 350 silver coins, chiefly of Edward I. and Edward II. of England, were discovered in 1820 on the lands of Coldon; and an ancient circular gold seal was exhumed in 1829 on the grounds of West Green. Among its natives were the distinguished architect, Sir William Bruce, and the Edinburgh professor of pathology, Dr John Thomson. Seventeen proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 22 of between £100 and £500, 15 of from £50 to £100, and 45 of from £20 to £50. Kinross is the seat of a presbytery in the synod of Fife; the living is worth £381. The two public schools, North and South, with respective accommodation for 300 and 115 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 214 and 73, and grants of £194 and £46, 19s. 6d. Valuation (1860) £15, 419, (1882) £16, 800, 10s. 3d. Pop. (1801) 2124, (1831) 2917, (1861) 2649, (1871) 2477, (1881) 2492.—Ord. Sur., sh. 40, 1867. The presbytery of Kinross comprises the old parishes of Arngask, Ballingry, Cleish, Fossoway, Kinross, Muckart, Orwell, and Portmoak, with the quoad sacra parish of Blairingone. Pop. (1871) 9582, (1881) 8422, of whom 2674 were communicants of the Church of Scotland in lv883. - The Free Church also has a presbytery of Kinross, with churches at Cowdenbeath, Fossoway, Kelty, Kinross, Orwell, Portmoak, and Strathmiglo, which 7 churches together had 1025 communicants in 1883.-The United Presbyterian Church has likewise a presbytery of Kinross, with 2 churches in Kinross, and 5 in Balgedie, Edenshead, Milnathort, Muckart, and Pathstruie, the 7 having 1293 members in 1881.

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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