Parish of Fettercairn

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: Fettercairn
1834-45: Fettercairn

Fettercairn (10th century -Fotherkern), a village and a parish of SW Kincardineshire. A burgh of barony, the village stands, 220 feet above sea-level, at the confluence of Crichie and Balnakettle Burns, 10¾ miles NNE of Brechin, 12 NNW of Montrose, and 4¾ WNW of Laurencekirk, under which there is a post office, with money order, savings' bank, insurance, and telegraph departments. It has, besides, a branch of the North-of Scotland Bank, a national security savings' bank, 3 insurance agencies, an inn, gas-works, a public hall, a library, quoit, cricket, and curling clubs, a farmers' club, a distillery, and cattle and hiring fairs on the days before Whitsunday and Martinmas. At the W end of the bridge a graceful triumphal arch has been erected to commemorate the royal visit of 20 Sept. 1861, a visit thus described in the Queen's Jonrnal: ` At a quarterpast seven o'clock we reached the small quiet town, or rather village, of Fettercairn, for it was very small-not a creature stirring, and we got out at the quiet little inn, " Ramsay Arms," quite unobserved, and went at once upstairs. There was a very nice drawing-room, and, next to it, a dining-room, both very clean and tidy-then to the left our bed-room, which was excessively small, but also very clean and neat, and much better than at Grantown. Alice had a nice room, the same size as ours; then came a mere morsel of one (with a ` ` press-bed "), in which Albert dressed; and then came Lady Churchill's bedroom just beyond. Louis [Prince Louis of Hesse] and General Grey had rooms in an hotel, called ` ` The Temperance Hotel, " opposite. We dined at eight, a very nice, clean, good dinner. Grant and Brown waited. They were rather nervous, but General Grey and Lady Churchill carved, and they had only to change the plates, which Brown soon got into the way of doing. A little girl of the house came in to help-but Grant turned her round to prevent her looking at us! The landlord and landlady knew who we were, but no one else except the coachman, and they kept the secret admirably. The evening being bright and moonlight and very still, we all went out, and walked through the whole village, where not a creature moved; through the principal little square, in the middle of which was a sort of pillar or Town Cross on steps, and Louis read by the light of the moon a proclamation for the collections of charities which was stuck on it. We walked on along a lane a short way, hearing nothing whatever-not a leaf moving-but the distant barking of a dog! Suddenly we heard a drum and fifes! We were greatly alarmed, fearing we had been recognised; but Louis and General Grey, who went back, saw nothing whatever. Still, as we walked slowly back, we heard the noise from time to time, and when we reached the inn door we stopped, and saw six men march up with fifes and a drum (not a creature taking any notice of them), go down the street, and back again. Grant and Brown were out, but had no idea what it could be. Albert asked the little maid, and the answer was, ` ` It's just a band, " and that it walked about in this way twice a week. How odd! It went on playing some time after we got home. We sat till half-past ten working, and then retired to rest. -(Saturday, Sept. 21.) Got to sleep after two or three o'clock. The morning was dull and close, and misty with a little rain; hardly any one stirring; but a few people at their work. A traveller had arrived at night, and wanted to come up into the dining-room, which is the ` ` commercial travellers' room; " and they had difficulty in telling him he could not stop there. He joined Grant and Brown at their tea, and on his asking " What's the matter here ? " Grant answered, ` ` It's a wedding party from Aberdeen." At " The e Temperance Hotel " they were very anxious to know whom they had got. All, except General Grey, breakfasted a little before nine. Brown acted as my servant, brushing my skirt and boots, and taking any message, and Grant as Albert's valet. At a quarter to ten we started the same way as before, except that we were in the carriage which Lady Churchill and the General had yesterday. It was unfortunately misty, we could see no distance. The people had just discovered who we were, and a few cheered us as we went along. ' The cross referred to here is an octagonal shaft, rising from a circular stepped basement, and was originally erected at the extinct town of Kincardine by John, first Earl of Middleton. It bears his arms and initials, with the Scottish lion and the date 1670. In the centre of the village there is also a drinking fountain, a memorial to Sir John H. Stuart Forbes (1804-66). Pop. of village (1841) 280, (1861) 339, (1871) 391, (1881) 398.

The parish is bounded NW by Strachan, NE and E by Fordoun, SE by Marykirk, S by Stracathro in Forfarshire, and W by Edzell, also in Forfarshire. Its utmost length, from N to S, is 8 3/8. miles; its breadth, from E to W, varies between 4½ furlongs and 45/8. miles; and its area is 13,803¼ acres, of which 75 are water. The North Esk flows 4¾ miles south-south-eastward along the Edzell boundary, and for 1½ furlong touches the parish again at its south-eastern corner; 1 mile N of Edzell village, it is spanned by the romantic Bridge of Gannochy, which, built in 1732 and widened in 1796, is founded on two stupendous rocks, and rises to great height above the river's bed. Black Burn, the Esk's immediate tributary, drains the level and low-lying southern interior, which forms a portion of the Howe of Mearns. The Burn of Garrol, rising on the southern acclivity of Hound Hillock, runs 5¼ miles south-eastward and south-by-eastward, mainly along the north-eastern and eastern border, till, at a point 5 furlongs SE of the village, it is joined by the confluent Crichie and Balnakettle Burns; as Dourie Burn the united stream winds 15/8 mile onward along the eastern border, then passes off into Marykirk on its way to Luther Water, and so ultimately to the North Esk. In the furthest SE the surface declines to 115 feet above sea-level, thence rising northwards gently to 194 feet near Arnhall and 200 at Bogmuir, more rapidly to 428 near West Woodtown, 1035 near Garrol Wood, and 1698 at heath-clad Hound Hillock, close to the northernmost point of the parish. The rocks are partly eruptive, partly Devonian, including granite, quartzite, mica slate, greenstone, red sandstone, limestone, etc., which, in a section along the North Esk, are seen in every kind of irregular stratification. Very fine porcelain clay occurs on the banks of Balnakettle Burn; and at Balnakettle bog iron ore has been found of the latest formation. Rather more than half of the entire area is in tillage, nearly one-seventh is under wood, and the rest is either pastoral or waste. The soil is deep, strong, rich loam around the village, but in other parts of the parish not a little of the land consists of moderate black loam or stiffish clay. Great improvements, described in Trans. Highl. and Ag. Soc. (1881, pp. 113-115), have been carried out within the last thirty years on the lands of Fasque, The Burn, Balmain, and Fettercairn, the first two of which estates have been noticed separately. That of Fettercairn or Middleton was held for upwards of five centuries by the Middleton family, of whom General Middleton (1610-73) was at the Restoration created Earl of Middleton and Lord Clermont and Fettercairn. Forfeited by his son, the second and last earl, the estate was purchased in 1777 by Sir John Wishart Belsches or Stuart, Bart., and through his daughter's marriage (1797) passed to Sir William Forbes, Bart. of Pitsligo. His grand-daughter, Harriet Williamina (d. 1869), in 1858 married its present possessor, Chs. -Hy. -Rolle Hepburn-Stuart-Forbes-Trefusis, twentieth Baron Clinton of Maxtock since 1299 (b. 1834; suc. 1866), who holds in Kincardineshire 5007 acres, valued at £4057 per annum. Fettercairn House, a little N by E of the village, was built in 1666 by the first Earl of Middleton, and enlarged in 1829 by Sir John Stuart-Forbes, and again by Lord Clinton in 1877. Balbegno and Fenella Castle, the chief antiquities, have separate articles. Fettercairn is in the presbytery of Fordoun and synod of Angus and Mearns; the living is worth £356. The parish church, at the village, was built in 1804, and contains 800 sittings. There are also a Free church and Fasque Episcopal church, St Andrew's ' and three schools-Fettercairn public, Inch public, and Fasque-with respective accommodation for 180, 120, and 78 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 114, 49, and 66, and grants of £89, 18s., £35, 19s., and £54, 2s. Valuation (1856) £9412, (1882) £12,057, 6s. Pop. (1801) 1794, (1841) 1791, (1861) 1700, (1871) 1539, (1881) 1503.—Ord. Sur., shs. 66, 57, 1871-68

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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