ABERDEEN, a city and sea-port-town and seat of a university, the capital of the county of Aberdeen, and the metropolis of the North of Scotland, 109 miles (N. N. E.) from Edinburgh, and 511 (N. by W.) from London; containing, with parts of the parishes of Old Aberdeen and Banchory-Devenick, 67,000 inhabitants. This ancient city is by some historians identified with the Devana of Ptolemy; and according to an absurd tradition, Gregory the Great, King of Scotland, is said to have made the town a royal burgh. Little of its authentic history is known prior to the reign of Malcolm III.; and the first traces of its having attained any importance are found in a charter granted at Perth, by William the Lion, conferring on the inhabitants the privilege of free trade, as fully as their ancestors had enjoyed that liberty in the time of Malcolm: the same monarch, by a second charter, dated 28th of Aug., 1179, granted them exemption from tolls and customs in all markets and fairs within his kingdom. About this time, Esteyn, one of the Norwegian kings, in a piratical excursion along the British coast, landed at this place, and plundered the town, which had attained sufficient importance to attract the notice of the sovereign, who erected for his occasional residence, when visiting here, an edifice near the east end of the present Green, which he afterwards bestowed on the monks of the Holy Trinity, who had recently been introduced into Scotland. William also established an exchequer and a mint, near the south end of the modern Castle-street, where money was coined during his reign. Alexander II. on various occasions made protracted visits to the town; and about the year 1222, in company with his sister, the Princess Isabella, he celebrated the festival of Christmas here: he subsequently built, on the site now occupied by Gordon's Hospital, a convent for Dominician or Black friars. This monarch, by a charter to the burgesses, confirmed all the privileges bestowed by his predecessors, to which he added the grant of a weekly market, and the right of establishing a merchant guild. In 1244, the town was nearly destroyed by an accidental fire, which burnt many of the houses, at that time built chiefly of wood; and about the year 1260, it suffered materially from a similar calamity. Alexander III., by charter dated at Kintore, in 1274, granted to the burgesses the privilege of an annual fair, to continue for fourteen days. The town, however, had made but little progress in commerce; though, as a sea-port, it had obtained a reputation for the curing of fish, of which its rivers and the sea afforded ample supplies for the use of the inhabitants, and also for exportation.
Aberdeen, after it had recovered from the devastation it had suffered from fire, was defended by a strong castle, and by gates at the entrances of the principal streets; and the inhabitants, who in every time of danger were distinguished by their undaunted courage in resisting the attacks of its enemies, in all cases of assault were headed by their chief magistrate, who invariably acted as their captain. In the wars which, after the death of Alexander III., arose from the disputed succession to the throne, the city had its full share of vicissitude and of the troubles of that distracted period. Edward, King of England, to whom the arbitration of the contest had been referred, though he appointed John Baliol to the Scottish throne, yet considered himself entitled to the sovereignty, and taking advantage of the internal hostilities which prevailed, invaded Scotland with a powerful army, and made himself master of the southern portion of the kingdom. Having dethroned Baliol, he advanced with his forces to Aberdeen, and, securing possession of the castle, placed in it an English garrison, which held the town and neighbourhood in subjection. On the approach of William Wallace to the relief of the citizens, the English reinforced the garrison, plundered and set fire to the town, and embarked on board their ships. Wallace, after besieging the castle without success, retreated to Angus, and having sustained various reverses, was betrayed into the hands of Edward, and conveyed prisoner to London, where he suffered death as a traitor; and his body being quartered, one of his mangled quarters was exposed on the gate of the castle here, to intimidate his followers in this part of the country. Robert Bruce, in asserting his right to the Scottish throne, experienced many privations, and was reduced to the necessity of taking refuge, with his wife and children, among the mountains of Aberdeenshire; but having mustered a considerable force, which was augmented by the citizens of Aberdeen, who embraced his cause, he gave battle near the hill of Barra, and obtained a victory over the English, who were under the command of Comyn, Earl of Buchan, and Mowbray, the English leader. According to Boece, the citizens, flushed with this success, returned to the town, assaulted the castle, which they took by storm, and put the garrison to the sword; and to prevent its falling again into the hands of the enemy, they demolished the fortifications. The English in the vicinity assembled their forces, and assaulted the city; but the townsmen, led on by Fraser, their provost, repulsed them with considerable slaughter. In reward of their patriotism and valour on this occasion, the king granted the city new armorial-bearings, with the motto Bon Accord, their watchword on that memorable occasion; and after the battle of Bannockburn, being firmly seated on the throne, he gave the citizens several charters, some ample donations of lands, and the forest of Stocket, with all the privileges attached to it, reserving to himself only the growing timber, with the right of hunting. In 1319 he honoured the town with a visit.
Subsequently to the death of Robert Bruce, and during the minority of his son David II., a civil war broke out in the country; and Edward III. of England, who, with the exception of Aberdeen, had all the Scottish fortresses in his possession, invaded the kingdom to assert his right to the sovereignty. While triumphant in the southern districts of the kingdom, Sir Thomas Roscelyn, one of his knights, landed a body of forces at Dunnottar, with which he advanced to Aberdeen: the citizens, taking arms, met the invaders on the Green, but were defeated with considerable loss, though Roscelyn fell in the encounter; and the town was given up to plunder, and set on fire by the English. David II., who during these troubles had remained in France, returned with his queen, and having regained his kingdom, held his first parliament in Aberdeen, which he occasionally made his residence. He confirmed to the citizens all the grants which his father had conferred, and gave them every assistance in rebuilding their town, which thence took the appellation of New Aberdeen, though of much greater antiquity than the Kirktown of Seaton, since that period called Old Aberdeen.
After the expulsion of the English from Scotland, Aberdeen began to flourish as a place of commerce, and was represented in parliament. In a parliament held at Edinburgh, in 1357, to concert measures for the ransom of the Scottish king, David II., who since the battle of Neville's Cross had been detained prisoner in England, the city ranked as the fourth in the kingdom, and became joint guarantee for the payment of the stipulated sura. The king, on his return to Scotland, took up his residence in the town, which he frequently afterwards visited, and which, in a subsequent parliament, appeared as the first city on the roll, after Edinburgh. Robert II., the first of the race of Stuart, assembled a parliament in the town, in order to plan a hostile incursion into England; and granted various privileges to the city, which was at that time the residence of several branches of the royal family, among whom were the Princess Matilda, sister of King David, and Christian, sister of King Robert Bruce. The trade of the port had now become considerable, and consisted chiefly in wool, hides, tallow, coarse woollen-cloth, cured salmon and other fish, which were exported to England, France, Holland, Flanders, and Hamburgh, whence there were imported linen, fine woollen-cloth, wines, oil, salt, soap, dye-stuffs, spices, hardware, iron, armour of various kinds, malt, wheat, and numerous other articles. During the regency of the Duke of Albany, in the time of Robert III., Donald, Lord of the Isles, having entered into an alliance with England, asserted a claim to the earldom of Ross, and raised an army of 10,000 men, to obtain forcible possession of that territory; on which occasion the citizens of Aberdeen, headed by Sir Robert Davidson, their provost, joined the forces under the Earl of Mar, which had been raised to oppose Donald, Lord of the Isles; and encountering the army of Donald at Harlaw, about eighteen miles to the north of the city, a sanguinary battle took place, in which Sir Robert and many of the citizens were killed. The conflict terminated with the day, neither party claiming the victory, but in the course of the night the Highlanders retreated to the mountains. The provost was buried in the church of St. Nicholas, near the altar of St. Ann, which his father had founded. The standard borne by the citizens on the occasion of this battle was long preserved in the armoury of the town. On the release of King James, son of Robert III., who had been kept as a prisoner in England during the regency, Aberdeen was one of the four cities which became bound to pay the English monarch £40,000, for his maintenance and education while in captivity. After the murder of James, in the year 1437, the citizens chose for their provost Sir Alexander Irvine of Drum, whom they invested with the title of captain and governor of the city; and in the anarchy which prevailed during the minority of King James II., they fortified the town, armed themselves, and enforced the strictest military discipline. In 1448, James II. made his first visit to the city, where he was received with every demonstration of loyalty and respect; and in 1455, the same marks of attention were paid his queen.
Upon the death of James III., at the battle of Sauchie-Burn, in 1488, an attempt was made to rescue the young prince from the power of a faction that had led him into rebellion against his father, James III.; in which attempt the citizens concurred, attaching the common seal of the corporation to their resolutions to that effect. About the same time, Sir Andrew Wood, admiral of Scotland, endeavoured to deprive them of the lands of Stocket granted to them by King Robert Bruce, but, on appeal to the sovereign, their possession was confirmed by a decree of James IV., in 1497. This monarch frequently visited the city, and, on one occasion, remained here for a considerable time, while making arrangements for the establishment of a university, for which purpose he obtained from Pope Alexander a bull dated the 6th of February, 1494. Under an apprehension of invasion from England, in consequence of the countenance afforded to Perkin Warbeck, in the reign of Henry VII., by the Scottish monarch, the citizens fortified the town, erected a blockhouse near the mouth of the river, and threw up a breastwork as an additional defence; but a treaty for peace rendered these preparations unnecessary; and on the subsequent marriage of James IV. with the Princess Margaret, daughter of the English monarch, the council sent a deputation of the citizens, attended by a band of minstrels, to congratulate their sovereign. In the year 1511, the queen visited Aberdeen, where she was received with acclamations of joy; and during her stay the chief streets of the city were hung with tapestry and fancifully adorned. The inhabitants, in 1513, contributed a company of spearmen, and a squadron of horse, towards the expedition of Flodden Field, in which the king and many of the Scottish nobility were killed. A few years afterwards, in 1525, Alexander Seton of Meldrum, in resentment of a supposed affront to his clan, entered the city at night, with a large party of his followers, and a battle ensued, in which eighty of the citizens, including several of the magistrates, were slain. In 1530, Lord Forbes of Castle-Forbes, who had been in the habit of receiving annually a tun of wine for preserving the fisheries of the rivers Dee and Don, provoked by the discontinuance of this present in consequence of a quarrel between his sons and the citizens, entered the city with a numerous retinue, and a fierce conflict arose, which terminated in his complete defeat. On his giving security, however, for the future good conduct of his partisans, the magistrates renewed their accustomed present. In 1540, James V., after the melancholy loss of his two sons in one day, visited the city, attended by his queen and court, to divert his grief, and remained for fourteen days; and the citizens fitted out a ship of war, to join the royal squadron in the Firth of Forth, to convoy the king to England, on a visit to Henry VIII. Upon the invasion of Scotland by the Duke of Somerset, in 1547, the citizens furnished a large supply of men to join the queen's forces under the Earl of Arran, of whom very few returned from the fatal battle of Pinkie; and in 1552, the earl, who had been appointed regent during the minority of Mary, attended by the queen dowager, visited the town, and was hospitably entertained by the citizens.
On the introduction of the Reformed religion, the citizens were little disposed to receive it. At the solicitation of Gavin Dunbar, Bishop of Aberdeen, in 1525, a manifesto was issued by the king, directing the magistrates of Aberdeen to inquire into the conduct of those who maintained heretical opinions; but it was not till 1544 that any attention was paid to that injunction, when two Protestant citizens were committed to prison by the Earl of Huntly, then provost of the city, till they should be brought to trial. In 1559, on the approach of a body of Reformers called the Congregation, the magistrates took the precaution of removing from the church of St. Nicholas the sacred vessels, and ornaments, with every thing of value, which they deposited, with the archives of the town, in a place of security. On the 29th of December, in that year, a large party of Reformers from Angus and Mearns entered the city, resolved upon the destruction of the sacred edifices, and commenced an attack on the spire of the church, which they attempted to pull down. But the citizens, flying to arms, arrested the work of demolition, and it was not till the 4th of January following, that the Reformers ventured to renew their efforts. They then proceeded to the monastery of the Black friars, in Schoolhill, and the convent of the Carmelites, on the Green; and, having demolished those buildings and carried off the property, advanced to the monastery of the Grey friars, in Broad-street, stripped the church of its leaden roof, and were about to demolish the building, when the citizens again interposed and prevented further injury. The citizens, notwithstanding, ultimately embraced the Reformed religion; and in a meeting of the council, it was resolved to demolish the monasteries, to convert the materials to the public use, and to sell the silver, brass, and other ornaments, which had been removed from the church of St. Nicholas, and place the proceeds in the common fund of the city. It was resolved, also, to furnish forty men for the service of the Congregation, and to use all their efforts for the suppression of idolatry; and Adam Heriot, friar of the order of St. Augustine, and a brother of the abbey of St. Andrew, having renounced the errors of popery, was appointed by the General Assembly minister of Aberdeen, which office he held till his death. In 1562, MARY, Queen of Scots, in her progress through the north, visited Aberdeen, where she was hospitably entertained, and during her stay was waited upon by Lady Huntly, who, interceding for her son Sir John Gordon, obtained his pardon, on condition of his confinement in Stirling Castle during her majesty's pleasure. On his way to that fortress, however, he escaped from his guards, and returning to the north, appeared with a body of 1000 horse, and was soon after joined by his father, the Earl of Huntly. The queen's army, under the command of the Earl of Murray, having come from Inverness to Aberdeen, marched against the forces of the Earl of Huntly and his son, over whom they gained a complete victory; the earl was killed, and his two sons, Sir John and Adam Gordon, with many others, were brought prisoners to Aberdeen, where Sir John Gordon, two days after the battle, was beheaded in Castle-street.
In 1581, James VI. paid a visit to Aberdeen, on which occasion the citizens presented him with 3000 merks in gold; and in 1589, that monarch, attended by his court, remained in Aberdeen for some time, during which butts for the practice of archery were erected on Castle-hill, for their amusement. In the same year, the citizens fitted out a ship of war, to join the squadron intended to convoy the king and queen, on their return from Denmark. In 1592, the king again visited the city; and though welcomed by the usual presents, he took a bond from the magistrates that they would not confederate with the Earl of Huntly, nor join with Jesuits, priests, or rebels, but faithfully observe the true doctrines of the Reformed religion. On the defeat of the royal forces in Banffshire, in 1594, the king repaired to Aberdeen, where, raising a body of troops, he was joined by Lord Forbes and other barons, against the popish Lords Errol, Angus, Huntly, and others; and in 1600, the inhabitants celebrated the escape of their sovereign from the conspiracy of the Earl of Ruthven, by a public procession, and presented an address, composed in Latin by the rector of the grammar school, expressing their abhorrence of the attempt on his life. In 1617, after his accession to the throne of England, James VI. visited his native country, and the magistrates of Aberdeen received intimation that he would visit their city, in his progress through the north; but their expectations were not fulfilled. In 1620, Sir Thomas Menzies, provost of the city, was sent on a mission to the court of London, and on his introduction presented to the king a valuable pearl, which, it is said, has a place in the imperial crown of Great Britain.
The city sent a deputation to express to Charles I., on his landing in Scotland, a testimony of their affectionate loyalty. At this time, the Covenant, which had obtained almost universal subscription, found but little support in Aberdeen; and the citizens, firmly attached to their sovereign, acquiesced in all his endeavours to establish episcopacy. In 1638, the Earl of Montrose, the Lords Coupar, Forbes, and others, with the ministers of Irvine and Pitsligo, appeared in the town, as commissioners from the General Assembly, and called upon the citizens to subscribe the Solemn League and Covenant. Failing in their object, they took their departure, and the Assembly held a court at Glasgow, at which they ordered the Covenant to be subscribed, on pain of excommunication: this order was generally obeyed, and the whole country became subject to the Covenanters, with the exception of Aberdeen, which, under the influence of the Marquess of Huntly, a zealous adherent of the reigning monarch, still held out. In this state of affairs, the citizens placed the town in a posture of defence: the provost and sixteen of the principal citizens formed a council of war; a vessel laden with arms and warlike stores arrived in the harbour from England, and every preparation was made to resist an attack. The Earl of Montrose, at the head of an army of Covenanters, made his appearance in the neighbourhood, and advanced to the town with a force of 9000 horse and foot, which he encamped on the links of Aberdeen; while the Earl of Kinghorn, who had been appointed governor of the town, had only a garrison of 1800 for its defence. After some time, the Earl of Montrose withdrew his army to Inverury; but, again encamping on the links, the citizens ultimately subscribed the Covenant, and four of them were appointed by Montrose as commissioners to the General Assembly at Edinburgh. During the progress of the civil war, the town suffered materially from all parties, as they became successively predominant, and was exposed to continual vicissitudes. The last battle that occurred here was in 1646, in which year Major Middleton, arriving in the town, took the command of the Covenanters' army, against the Marquess of Huntly and the Earl of Aboyne, when it fell an easy conquest to the marquess, who was, however, soon after seized by the Covenanters, and sent, with many others, to Edinburgh, where he was put to death. Charles II., on his return from the continent, was received in Aberdeen with every feeling of attachment; the keys were delivered to him by the provost, and he remained in the town for more than a week. On his restoration in 1660, the citizens testified their joy by a public procession, and sent a deputation to London, to present a congratulatory address.
In 1668, the city raised a corps of 120 men, in augmentation of the militia; and on the subsequent accession of James II. and of William III., the inhabitants duly testified their loyalty. The accession of Queen Anne, daughter of James II., was proclaimed here with public rejoicings; and on the union of the two kingdoms, in 1707, Aberdeen, in conjunction with the burghs ot Arbroath, Montrose, Brechin, and Bervie, sent a member to the united parliament. Soon after the accession of George I., the Earl of Mar, a zealous adherent of the exiled family, assembled some forces at Braemar, in the highland districts of Aberdeenshire, and proclaimed the Chevalier de St. George, son of James II. (or James VII. of Scotland), sovereign of Britain by the title of James VIII., and levied an army of 10,000 men for his support. The magistrates of Aberdeen, who were zealously attached to the reigning family, put the city in a state of defence; but the partisans of the Pretender, having gained an ascendancy, assumed the civil government, and the earl-marischal, arriving soon after with a squadron of horse, proclaimed the Pretender at the Cross, on the day for the election of the city officers. The magistrates and council absented themselves, without making any election for the ensuing year; and on the day following, the earl-marischal, in the East church, chose such of the burgesses as were favourable to his cause, and formed an administration for the government of the city. The earl levied an imposition of £200 for the use of the Pretender's army, and £2000 as a loan, which, with other supplies, were sent to his head-quarters at Perth. The Pretender soon afterwards arriving, with a retinue of six gentlemen, from France, landed at Peterhead, and passed incognito through Aberdeen to Fetteresso, on his way to Perth, where he was received by the Earl of Mar and the earl-marischal; the professors of Marischal and King's Colleges having waited upon him at Fetteresso, with an address of congratulation. The royal army, however, under the Duke of Argyll, was every day increasing in numbers, while that of the Pretender was rapidly diminishing, and was eventually dispersed; the administration of the city returned into its proper channel, and the election of the magistrates, which had been interrupted by this rash adventure, was made as usual. In 1716, a fire broke out at the Gallowgate, which very soon extended itself to other parts of the town; many houses were destroyed, and the council made a liberal contribution for the relief of the sufferers. This calamity was not long after followed by apprehensions of a famine, from a continued state of unfavourable weather; to counteract this evil, the magistrates and council, with the neighbouring gentry, supplied the town with 4000 bolls of meal, and imported a considerable quantity of grain from Holland. In 1741, a fire broke out in Broad-street which destroyed many houses, the dwellings being at that time chiefly built of wood: and an act of council was soon afterwards passed, enjoining that the outer walls of all houses should be in future built of stone. The city consequently began to assume a more regular and handsome appearance.
On the landing of Charles Edward, eldest son of the Pretender, in 1745, the citizens firmly maintained their allegiance to the reigning family; and General Cope embarked his forces at this place, previously to the battle of Prestonpans. Hamilton, an exceedingly zealous partisan of the adventurer, marched to Aberdeen, with a detachment of the rebel army, on the day of election of the town magistrates, and proclaimed Prince Charles regent of the kingdom; he compelled the magistrates to attend him, and liberated the prisoners in the gaol. In November, Lord Lewis Gordon, who had been appointed by the Young Pretender lord lieutenant of the counties of Aberdeen and Banff, made his appearance in the city, summoned the magistrates to attend him at the town-house, and completed the election which had been suspended on the arrival of Hamilton: he appointed magistrates whom he thought likely to promote his views, but they all refused to act; and made his deputy lieutenant-governor of the town. Soon afterwards, Lord John Drummond arrived in the city, as commander-in-chief of the forces of His Most Christian Majesty, and published a manifesto at the market-cross, calling on the citizens for their support; but it received little attention. In the mean time, the Earl of Loudon, commander-in-chief of the royal forces, having assembled an army of Highlanders, consisting of the clans of the M'Leods, Monroes, Sutherlands, and others, advanced to Aberdeen, to deliver the city from the possession of the rebels; but Gordon, who had gone out to intercept them, meeting with some success, returned to Aberdeen with several prisoners, among whom was the principal of Marischal College, and levied a contribution of £1000 for the maintenance of the rebel army. On the 8th of February, 1746, a party of the rebels, flying from before the army under the Duke of Cumberland, arrived in the city; but they were soon followed by the whole of the royal forces, who were cantoned in the town, in Old Aberdeen, and the neighbouring villages; and on the 27th, the duke, with his entire staff, and a company of dragoons, made his appearance here, and was congratulated by the provost and magistrates on his success. The army remained in their quarters till the beginning of April; and upon their departure, the city was protected by a garrison, and the newly-erected buildings of Gordon Hospital were occupied as a temporary fort. After the battle of Culloden, the magistrates voted the freedom of the city to the Duke of Cumberland, which was presented to him in a box of gold. On the anniversary of the accession of George I., some of the officers of the army quartered in Aberdeen ordered a general illumination, which not being so fully complied with as they expected, orders were given to their soldiers to break the windows of the houses of the inhabitants. Upon this occasion, the magistrates issued a warrant for the apprehension of the officers who had issued those orders, and committed them to prison, till they gave security for the reparation of the damage.
The coronation of George III. was celebrated here with great rejoicings; and soon after the commencement of the American war, the city raised a corps of 500 volunteers for the defence of the town and port, and offered to provide a regiment for the service of government: in 1781, it fitted out three privateers, two of which were cut out of the bay of Aberdeen, where they were riding at anchor, by the notorious Captain Fall, under the guns of the newly-erected battery. During the scarcity that prevailed in 1782, the magistrates raised large sums of money for the alleviation of the sufferings of the poor; and in cases of shipwreck, of which many melancholy instances have occurred off this part of the coast, they have always been remarkable for the liberality of their contributions of relief. In 1809, from the increase of the trade and shipping of the port, it was found necessary to extend and improve the harbour, a work which was shortly proceeded with under the superintendence of the late Mr. Telford, the eminent engineer; and subsequently, many changes have been made in the buildings and plan of the city. New streets have been opened; the public roads and approaches have been greatly improved; several handsome public buildings have been erected, and the whole being built of the beautiful species of granite peculiar to this part of the country, the city presents an appearance of splendour and magnificence fully entitling it to the appellation of the metropolis of the north.
In the month of September, 1848, Her Majesty the Queen, Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales, Prince Alfred, and the Princess Royal, with their attendants, visited the city on their way to Balmoral, in Strathdee. The royal yacht arrived here on the morning of Thursday, the 7th of September; and at half past one o'clock, the provost and magistrates of the city proceeded from the town-house to the yacht for the purpose of presenting a dutiful address to Her Majesty, and the freedom of the city to her royal consort. A deputation from the senatus academicus of Marischal College was also in attendance, for the purpose of presenting an address from the university. Later in the afternoon, His Royal Highness visited Old Aberdeen, halting at King's College, where the Earl of Aberdeen, as chancellor of the university of King's College, and the professors of this ancient seat of learning, were in waiting to receive the party at the entrance: an address from the senatus was presented to the prince in the college hall by Lord Aberdeen, and Provost Nicoll presented an address from the magistrates of Old Aberdeen. After visiting the library and chapel, His Royal Highness walked from the college to the old cathedral, and was there received by the reverend minister of the parish, who conducted him through the edifice. The royal party then returned to New Aberdeen, and paid a visit to Marischal College: here an address was also presented, and the prince inspected the library, museum, and observatory of the university. The polished-granite works of Messrs. Mc Donald and Leslie were next visited; and at about half past five o'clock. His Royal Highness rejoined the queen in the royal yacht. In the course of the evening, Her Majesty received the principal and professors of King's College in the saloon of the yacht; also the provost and magistrates of Old Aberdeen: and on the following morning, the 8th of September, the corporate, ecclesiastical, and other authorities of Aberdeen took up their appropriate positions for the public reception of her Majesty on landing. At half past eight o'clock the royal family quitted the yacht, and took their seats in the royal carriage, a procession being formed, which passed along the quay, and through the city. On arriving at the confines of the city at Holburn, the magistrates and other city officials drew aside, and the carriages of the royal party proceeded on their way to Balmoral, which was reached in the afternoon, after a progress marked with the most lively demonstrations of loyalty and affection. On the occasion of this visit, His Royal Highness Prince Albert was invested with the freedom of Old Aberdeen, as well as that of Aberdeen; and also had the degree of LL.D. conferred upon him by the senatus academicus of King's College.
This TOWN, which, on its being restored from the devastation it suffered during the wars with England, obtained the name of New Aberdeen, is situated on slightly elevated ground on the north bank of the river Dee, near its influx into the sea, and about a mile and a half from the mouth of the river Don. It is bounded on the south by the harbour, and on the east by the Castle-hill. The more ancient part is built on a very unequal surface, consisting of several hills of trifling elevation, of which the Castle-hill, St. Katharine's hill, School-hill, Woolman-hill, and Port-hill are the most prominent. At the entrances from the suburbs into the principal streets were formerly gates, the chief of them being Gallowgate, Justice-port, Futtie's-port, Trinity or Quay-head port, Netherkirkgate-port, and Upperkirkgate-port, all of which have been removed in the various improvements effected at different times. The present town is rather more than a mile in length, from the barracks on the east to the extremity of Union-street on the west, and about 1500 yards in breadth, from the quays on the south to Love-lane on the north. The more modern part, forming by far the greater portion, consists of spacious and well-formed streets, of which Union-street, extending from the west end of Castle-street to the western extremity of the town, is seventy feet wide, and is carried over the Denburn rivulet, and the vale through which it flows, by a magnificent bridge of granite. This bridge consists of one spacious arch, 150 feet in span, and 50 feet in height, crowned with a parapet and cornice surmounted by an open balustrade, and having a rise of twenty-nine feet only from the spring of the arch, on the west side of which is a dry arch, and on the east two dry arches, to raise the street to a proper level. Two streets, also, have been arched over for the line of Union-street; and carriages highly loaded can pass under the arches with ease. King-street, leading from Castle-street towards the north, is a fine street, sixty feet in width; and St. Nicholas street, branching from Union-street to the north, is also a handsome and spacious street. During the latter part of the last century, a number of new streets were opened, of which the principal are Virginia-street, Tannery-street, North-street, Marischal-street, Belmont, Queen, James, Carmelite, George, and St. Andrew's streets; and since the commencement of the present century, the area of the town has been at least doubled. The houses, built of fine granite, with which the neighbourhood abounds, have a splendid appearance; and the city generally, from the style and character of its buildings, wears a commanding aspect.
Aberdeen was at first lighted with gas extracted from oil, by a company established in 1824; but finding it an unprofitable undertaking, they afterwards had recourse to coal-gas, in the production of which the best parrot-coal is used, and the streets are now brilliantly lighted with gas, carefully purified, and conducted by cast-iron pipes, of which the aggregate length exceeds forty-eight miles: the works are extensive, and conveniently situated in the lower part of the town. The inhabitants were originally supplied with water from wells sunk in various parts of the town, and from a cistern in Broad-street, containing more than 30,000 gallons. The quantity, however, being found inadequate to the increasing population, works were constructed by commissioners for bringing a supply from the river Dee, and steam-engines erected at the north end of the bridge of Dee, to which the water is conveyed by a tunnel about 500 yards in length, into which it enters, not directly from the river, but after passing through a filtering bed of sand. The engines, two in number, of thirty-horse power each, can raise in twenty-four hours a supply of 1,100,000 gallons; and the water is thence forced into a cistern at the west end of Union-place, 40 feet above the level of the street, and 130 feet above that of the engine, from which cistern the water is distributed through the city by cast-iron pipes. The management of the supply of water, and also of the lighting, watching, and cleansing of the streets, is vested in the commissioners of police.
The approaches have been rendered commodious, and much improved in appearance; the great north road from Stonehaven, the road from Charlestown on the north side of the Dee, the road from Skene, and the great roads from the north and north-west, all meet in the centre of the town. The bridge over the Dee was projected in 1488, by Bishop Elphinstone, who, dying before any considerable progress was made in its erection, left a large sum of money for its completion, which was applied to that purpose by his successor, Bishop Dunbar, who, on the opening of the bridge, in 1518, made over to the magistrates and council ample funds for keeping it in repair. It is a handsome structure of seven arches, and had a chapel at the northern extremity, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, which was destroyed at the Reformation, and at the other end a watch-tower, in which the citizens mounted guard in times of danger. The greater portion of the bridge was rebuilt in 1722, and about ten years ago it was nearly doubled in width, at an expense of £7000; the whole charges at each period were defrayed from the endowment left by the bishops, and the funds are still unexhausted. Lower down the river, where the banks are precipitously steep, an elegant suspension-bridge has been constructed, at an expense of £8000, raised by subscription, affording facility of access to the city in that direction; and communicating with Old Aberdeen is an interesting and truly picturesque bridge over the Don, of one lofty arch, the particulars of which are detailed in the article Old Aberdeen.
In Castle-street, to the west of the town-house, is the Cross, the pavement round which was formerly used as an exchange, and frequented by the merchants of the city. This structure was erected in 1686, to replace the ancient cross, and is of hexagonal form, eighteen feet in height: the faces, which are ten feet in breadth, are ornamented with duplicated Ionic columns at the angles, sustaining an entablature and cornice, surmounted by a parapet and an open balustrade; and from the centre of the area, which is twenty-one feet in diameter, rises a lofty Corinthian column, supporting a unicorn bearing a shield with a lion rampant. The entrance was once by a door in the north face, leading to a staircase forming an ascent to the platform, from which all public proclamations were read. The entablature above each of the faces is divided into two compartments, in the western and eastern of which are respectively the arms of the town and the royal arms of Scotland, and in the others busts of the sovereigns from James I. of Scotland to James II. of England. A few years ago the Cross was taken down, and rebuilt on a site farther to the east than the former; but the original structure was carefully preserved, except that the masonry between the supporting columns was removed, and the lower part of the fabric thus thrown open. The Barracks stand near the site of the ancient chapel of St. Ninian, on the Castle-hill, which, together with all the ground within the ramparts of the castle, was given to government for that purpose, by the magistrates and council of the city. They were erected in 1794, at an expense of nearly £18,000, and form a handsome range of buildings, containing, exclusively of the officers' apartments, accommodation for 600 men, with guard-room, chapel, infirmary, and other requisites, and an ample ground for parade.
The Mechanics' Institution was commenced in 1824, for the improvement and instruction of its members, by the delivery of lectures, at a moderate expense, on chemistry, natural philosophy, and other branches of science. In a few years, it began to languish, and in 1830 it was found necessary to discontinue the lectures. The library, however, which at that time contained nearly 1100 volumes on practical science, induced those of the subscribers who remained, to supply funds for its preservation; and in 1835, the plan of the institution was remodelled by the establishment of classes, upon moderate terms, in the various branches of science and literature, since which it has continued to flourish. The Society of Advocates was incorporated by royal charter in 1774, and in 1799 by a more extensive charter, in which they are styled the "President and Society of Advocates in Aberdeen," for the improvement of its members in their profession, and for the establishment of a fund for the relief of their widows, orphans, and near relatives. The widows receive an allowance of £40 per annum. The society have a valuable law library of 1900 volumes, which is open to the use of all its members; and they have lately erected a spacious building in Union-street, containing a handsome hall for holding their meetings, a library, and other apartments. The Medical Society was first instituted in 1789, by a small number of young practitioners, for their mutual improvement. They held their meetings in one of the class-rooms of Marischal College, and subsequently in apartments hired for that purpose, till, from the increase of their numbers, and the acquisition of sufficient funds, they erected the Medical Hall in King-street, which was completed in 1820. It contains a hall for their public meetings, a library of 3000 volumes on medical science, to which the members have free access, and a museum, with class-rooms and other apartments. The society consists of two classes of members, one of practitioners resident in the city and neighbourhood, who meet once in the month for mutual communication; and the other of students of medicine, who meet weekly for the discussion of medical questions, and for attending lectures on the various branches of the profession.
There are several subscription libraries, of which the principal are those of Messrs. Brown and Co., D. Wyllie and Son, and W. Russel; they contain collections amounting in the whole to about 60,000 volumes, and the terms of subscription vary from fifteen shillings to £1. 11. 6. per annum. The Athenaeum in Castle-street, and the Union Club News-rooms in Union-street, are well supported, and amply supplied with journals and periodical publications. Card and dancing assemblies, which are maintained by subscription, are held regularly every month, during the winter season, in the spacious rooms erected about thirty years ago. The Theatre, situated on the west side of Marischal-street, was built by subscription, in 1795, at an expense of £3000; it is a handsome structure, capable of seating 600 spectators, and is opened occasionally by itinerant companies, to whom it is let by the subscribers. A weekly concert was, for many years, conducted by a proprietary of amateur and other subscribers, and a hall was erected for its use, on the east side of Broad-street; but the concerts have long been discontinued. A Golf Club was originally established in the vicinity, by a society of gentlemen, in 1780, which after its dissolution in the course of a few years, was revived in 1815, under the appellation of the Aberdeen Golf Club. It is under the direction of a committee, consisting of a captain, secretary, and four councillors, chosen annually at the general meeting. The members are admitted by ballot, on payment of £1. 1., and an annual subscription of five shillings; and at the annual meeting, which takes place in May, a gold medal is awarded to the most successful player. A society for the practice of archery also once existed, under the designation of the "Bowmen of Mar:" in a short time, however, it dwindled away. Races were formerly celebrated here, under the patronage of the members of the Northern Shooting Club, who, in 1790, voted a piece of plate, of fifty guineas value, and the magistrates also gave a purse of thirty guineas; but they were soon discontinued. After an interval of twenty years, an association of the gentry of the counties of Aberdeen, Banff, and Kincardine, was formed for their revival; and an excellent course was made on the links of Aberdeen, where races took place annually in October, until 1828, continuing for four days, under the superintendence of a president and stewards, chosen from the association. At one of the meetings, four silver cups, value fifty guineas each; a purse of sixty guineas, by subscription of the ladies; an open plate of fifty guineas, by the corporation of the city; a silver cup, value 100 guineas, by the members of parliament for the counties; and an open plate of fifty guineas, by the members for the boroughs, were run for, and spiritedly contested. A mineral spring called the Spa well, rising at the base of Woolman-hill, near the site of the Infirmary, was long celebrated for its efficacy in the cure of nephritic diseases; it appears to have been in repute from a remote period, and was inclosed with a building ornamented with representations of six of the Apostles. In 1516, it attracted the notice of Mr. William Barclay, an eminent physician, who analyzed the water, which he found to contain carbonate of iron and vitriol. The building having fallen into dilapidation, was restored by George Jamieson, the celebrated painter, but was afterwards destroyed by an inundation of the Denburn rivulet, and the spring remained concealed under the ruins of the building, till 1670, when it was discovered, and the present building erected by Alexander Skene, of Newtyle, then bailie of the town. It was again lost in 1751, and subsequently discovered by Dr. James Gordon, long after which it continued to flow with its accustomed freedom; but from recent erections at the infirmary, in the immediate neighbourhood, the water has a third time disappeared. Baths were opened a century ago on the east side of the Denburn vale, for which there was a commodious bathing-house, with dressing-rooms and every requisite; they were amply supplied with pure spring water, and, previously to the establishment of those near the sea, numerously attended. The beach on the sea-coast is a fine level sand, affording every facility for bathing, and is much frequented during the season, by visiters from different parts of the country; bathing machines are kept, and on the shore are warm salt-water baths fitted up with every accommodation. The environs of Aberdeen afford various interesting walks and rides, through a district abounding with romantic scenery.
The principal MANUFACTURES carried on in the town, prior to 1745, were plaidings, serge, coarse woollen-stuffs, and knit-stockings, of which last great quantities were sent to Holland and Germany; and to such perfection were the stockings made here brought, that those of the finest wool were sold at from two to five guineas per pair. The manufacture of coarse woollen-cloth was also introduced about this period, but, after languishing for a time was abandoned, towards the close of the century. The Linen manufacture was originally introduced in 1749, by a company from Edinburgh, for the spinning of flax, the making of thread, and the weaving and bleaching of cloth, all of which were soon brought to a considerable degree of perfection. An extensive mill for spinning flax was erected on the left bank of the river Don, in 1798, and also works for bleaching yarn and cloth. Another was soon after erected at Broadford, near the town, the machinery of which was driven by steam; and there are now three extensive establishments for the manufacture of linen of every quality, from the coarsest Osnaburghs to the finest shirting, and for the making of thread of every degree of fineness. The manufacture of sail-cloth is also carried on, and likewise that of brown sheeting, of which large quantities are sent to the East Indies and America. Tape is woven to a large extent, by the Aberdeen Tape Company. The number of persons employed in the flax manufacture is about 3000, of whom about one-half are females. The Cotton manufacture was introduced in 1779, by Messrs. Gordon, Barron, and Company, who established a spacious bleaching and printing field at Woodside, where they also erected a large mill for spinning cotton-yarn, and weaving by machinery put in motion by the river Don. Another mill was soon afterwards established by Messrs. Forbes, Low, and Company, on the south side of the Denburn rivulet; the machinery of which is propelled by steam. There are now four establishments in the cotton trade, producing every variety of cotton goods; and in one of them, thread, equal in quality and fineness to that of flax, is made in large quantities and of all colours. The number of persons employed in the trade is about 4000, of whom a considerable number are women and children. The Woollen manufacture was introduced in 1789, by Mr. Charles Baird, who brought from England some carding-engines and spinning-jennies, with other apparatus, and erected a mill at Stoneywood, for the manufacture of plaiding, serge, and the coarser woollen-cloths, by the aid of machinery. Several other factories were soon afterwards established, and the Messrs. Haddens, who had been long engaged in the stocking trade, erected extensive works on the Green, in which they employed the most improved machinery, propelled by powerful steam-engines. The manufacture of carpets is also carried on with success. The number of persons employed in the woollen trade is about 2500.
The manufacture of Paper was introduced in the year 1770, at Peterculter, in the vicinity of Aberdeen, where the business is still pursued; and several mills were subsequently established, of which the only one now left is on the right bank of the river Don, for making all the various kinds of paper, which, previously to the establishment of these works, was imported from Holland. The number of persons employed in the trade is about 400. The manufacture of Combs, which had been introduced in 1788, and carried on to a very moderate extent, was in 1830 commenced upon a greatly enlarged scale, by Messrs. Stewart, Rowell, and Company, who first employed steam-power in the manufacture, and introduced other improvements by which the articles can now be produced almost at a sixth part of the former cost. In this concern, about 250 persons are employed, and the number of combs of all kinds made is about 43,000 weekly. The Iron manufacture is also very extensive. There are not less than eight foundries at present in active operation, in which the largest castings, and the heaviest articles, are produced; and numerous establishments are carried on for the manufacture of machinery of all kinds, five of which are engaged in the making of steam-engines. Iron boats are constructed in considerable numbers, and an iron vessel of 550 tons' burthen has lately been launched from the docks. There are also several establishments for the manufacture of chains and chain-cables, and of boilers for steam-engines. Above 1000 persons are generally employed in the iron trade. There are several Ropewalks of large extent, for the supply of the shipping of the port, and others on a smaller scale, for the making of cord and twine for various uses, and to a great extent for the making of fishing-nets: the number of persons in these works is about 200. Some breweries are conducted on an extensive plan, from which considerable quantities of ale and porter are sent to London and other places, where they find a ready market; and also several upon a smaller scale, for the supply of the town and neighbourhood. There are likewise tanneries in operation here. The present extensive trade in Granite appears to have originated with the Messrs. Adam, architects, of London, who, having entered into a contract for paving the metropolis, in 1764, commenced some quarries in the rocks on the sea-coast, near the lands of Torrie, and brought the stone, when prepared, to London. Finding this mode of supply, however, too expensive, they employed the Aberdeen masons to furnish them with stone; and in a short time a very extensive trade was established, not only in paving-stones, but in blocks of granite for public buildings and works of great magnitude. Many of the largest blocks have been sent to Sheerness, for the construction of the docks at that place, and to London, for the erection of bridges over the Thames, and the foundation of the new houses of parliament. The granite, which is extremely hard, and of great beauty when polished, has lately been brought into extensive use for chimney-pieces, vases, pedestals, and other ornamental works, by the application of machinery to the purpose of polishing it, by which the expense is reduced to about one-third of that by hand labour. The quantity of granite exported in 1844, exceeded 27,400 tons.
Aberdeen carries on an extensive trade with Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Prussia, Germany, Holland, Spain, Portugal, and with the West Indies and America. Its chief exports are oatmeal, grain, butter, eggs, salmon, porter and ale, cattle, sheep, and pigs, linen, cotton, and woollen manufactured goods, and granite; the chief imports are coal, lime, flax, cotton, hemp, wool, iron, salt, timber, whalebone, wheat, and flour. The number of vessels registered as belonging to the port, in 1844, was 206, of the aggregate burthen of 38,000 tons. The tonnage of the several vessels which entered the port in the same year, was 289,483, of which 257,703 belonged to Aberdeen, 27,540 to other British ports, and 4240 to foreign ports; and the amount of duties paid at the custom-house was £76,259. The HARBOUR was, for many years, an open basin, with an island in the centre called the Inches, which separated the channel of the river from the harbour, on the north side of it; and the only building was the Quay-head, which, having become ruinous, was repaired in 1484, and rebuilt in 1527, with stone brought from Dundee. A pier was built in 1607, which, in 1623, was extended from the quay-head towards the fishing-village of Futtie: by this means a considerable portion of land was gained from the basin, and which now forms part of the town. In 1755, the magistrates and council engaged Mr. John Smeaton, an eminent engineer, to improve the harbour; and in 1770, he proposed a stone pier on the north side of the entrance, which, confining the stream of the river within narrow limits, would remove a bank of sand accumulated there. In 1773, an act of parliament was obtained, and the improvements on Mr. Smeaton's plan were carried into full operation, at a cost of £18,000. This pier was 1200 feet in length; it was twenty feet broad at the base, twelve on the summit, and sixteen feet in height, at the western extremity, and gradually increased towards the east, where it was thirty-six feet broad at the base, twenty-four on the summit, and thirty feet high. It was faced with blocks of granite, many of which weighed more than three tons each. The pier, however, by a deviation from Mr. Smeaton's original plan, being erected too far towards the north, a great swell was occasioned in the harbour at high water, to remedy which, a breakwater was projected from the west end of it, towards the channel of the river, with complete effect. The harbour was further improved by Mr. Telford, who, in 1810, extended the original pier 900 feet further towards the east, where it terminated in a circular head, sixty feet in diameter, which was destroyed by the sea in the following winter, and rebuilt with a slope towards the sea. A breakwater 800 feet in length was also erected, on the south side, by which the harbour was protected from the south-east storms, and the depth of water increased to nineteen feet. Commodious wharfs were formed along the harbour, on the south-west side of the village of Futtie, and quays nearly 4000 feet in length have been constructed: the Inches, also, are now connected with the town by a swivel-bridge opposite the end of Marischal-street. In 1843 an act of parliament was obtained for converting a large part of the harbour into a wet-dock, and in 1847 an act was passed, as noticed below, for some further harbour works. The custom-house, situated on the Quay, is a neat building purchased by government, and fitted up for the purpose; the establishment consists of a collector, comptroller, land and tide surveyors, four land-waiters, twenty-eight tide-waiters, six boatmen, and other officers.
Ship-building is carried on to a considerable extent; there are six building-yards, and a patent-slip has been constructed in the harbour, at an expense of £3337: in 1838, the number of vessels built in these yards was twenty-three, and their aggregate burthen 4058 tons. Four steam-packets, of the aggregate burthen of 1360 tons, and of 810-horse power, have long continued to ply to Leith, Inverness, Caithness, Orkney, and Shetland. In 1827, a steam-packet of 550 tons, called the Queen of Scotland, began to ply between Aberdeen and London, since which, others have been added, which sail weekly to London, and likewise one to Hull: these, together with a vessel engaged in the London and Inverness trade, belong to one company, whose steamers are now five in number, of nearly 3900 tons' burthen, and 1420-horse power. There are also steamers to Dundee, and to Peterhead, during the summer. A Salmon-fishery has been carried on here from a remote period, and from the abundance of the supply afforded by the rivers Dee and Don, it is still continued, on an extensive scale, affording employment to about 200 persons. The average number taken in a season, is 20,000 salmon averaging ten pounds each, and 40,000 grilse of about four pounds each, of which by far the greater portion are packed in ice, and sent to the London market. The Herring fishery, a pursuit of comparatively recent establishment, at present employs about sixty boats, and, from the success with which it is attended, has every prospect of being considerably increased. The Whale fishery was first introduced here in 1753, and for some time continued to prosper; in 1820 there were fifteen vessels employed in the trade, each having a crew of fifty men, and in 1823 the quantity of oil brought home was 1841 tons. From that time, however, the trade began to decline, and it is now nearly abandoned.
The Aberdeen Canal, from the harbour of Aberdeen to the burgh of Inverury, was constructed by a company of £50 shareholders, who in 1795 obtained an act of parliament, incorporating them under the designation of the "Proprietors of the Aberdeenshire Canal Navigation," and empowering them to raise a capital of £20,000, which by a subsequent act, in 1801, was extended to £40,000. It was completed at an expense of £43,895, and opened to the public in 1807. The whole line, from the quay at this place to Port Elphinstone, on the river Don, at Inverury, is 18¼ miles in length: the width on the surface is 24 feet, and the average depth 3¾ feet; it has 17 locks, 5 aqueducts, and 56 common bridges, and the highest summit level is 163 feet above low water mark.
In 1845 an act of parliament was passed authorizing the construction of the Aberdeen railway, from Aberdeen to the Arbroath and Forfar line at Friockheim and at Guthrie, in the county of Forfar, with branches to the towns of Montrose and Brechin. This important line of communication, connecting the city with the south of Scotland and with England, leaves Aberdeen on the south side, and in its progress round the basin of the Dee, crosses the river by a majestic viaduct standing in a skew line across the channel. It passes near the towns of Stonehaven and Lawrencekirk, in Kincardineshire, through which county it takes its course into Forfarshire, where it has branches to the towns of Montrose and Brechin, the former on the east and the latter on the west side of the main line. The whole railway was permanently opened on April 1, 1850. In 1846 an act was obtained for the construction of a line to be called the Deeside railway, from Ferryhill, near Aberdeen, to Charlestown of Aboyne, a distance of 29 miles, along the valley of the Dee. Another act was passed the same year, for a railway from Aberdeen to Inverness. In 1847 an act of parliament was passed to authorize the purchase for railway purposes of a piece of ground at the upper part of the Inches, and upper part of the harbour of Aberdeen, previously vested in the harbour commissioners; and to enable the commissioners to construct some new harbour works.
The MARKET, which is amply supplied with corn, and with provisions of all kinds, is on Friday, and on the preceding day for meal: the market for fish, with which the town is abundantly supplied, is daily. Fairs are held on the last Wednesday in April for linen; on the last Thursday and Friday in June, and the first Thursday and Friday in July, for wool; and on the last Wednesday in August for timber. The butchers' market, on the east side of the town, was erected by the corporation, in 1806, and consists of two ranges, having in one thirty-eight stalls twelve feet square, with a pavement four feet broad in front, and in the other forty-eight stalls, each ten feet square: within the area are fifteen slaughter-houses. Another market for butchers' meat was formed in 1816, in the Lochlands, on the north side of the town, containing forty-two stalls, thirteen feet long, and twelve feet wide, with a pavement in front five feet broad, and covered with a roof supported on slender cast-iron pillars. The fish market is held on the south side of the Shiprow, and is well arranged and fitted up, with a view to prevent the exposure of fish for sale in Castle-street. The meal, poultry, and fruit and vegetable markets are situated on the west side of King-street, and are amply supplied. In the fruit market, great quantities of strawberries and gooseberries, the produce of gardens in the neighbourhood of the town, are exposed to sale, frequently to the amount of £1000 annually. On the 29th of September, 1840, the foundation stone was laid of a New Market, the principal front of which is towards a street opened about the same time between Union-street and the quay. The structure is 318 feet in length, and 106 feet in breadth, and is divided into two stories, the lower of which is even with the old street called the Green, and the upper has three spacious and elegant entrances from Market-street. The hall, on the level of Market-street, extends the whole length of the building; it is fifty feet in height and the same in breadth, and towards its west end, near the top of the flight of steps leading to the basement story, is a beautiful fountain of polished granite, the work of Messrs. Mc Donald and Leslie. The roof of the hall is supported by fifty-eight pillars, and between them and the outer walls are the galleries, twenty-five feet broad, containing fifty-three shops and 160 yards of counter for dealers in small wares, besides a space of fifty by twenty-eight feet at the east end, occupied weekly as a grain market. In the hall, under the galleries, are fifty-three shops, and in its area benches upwards of 370 yards in extent for gardeners and provision sellers. The basement floor contains ninety shops, and forty-three yards of tables for fishmongers. This elegant building was designed by Mr. Archibald Simpson, a native of Aberdeen, and in every respect it does credit to his acknowledged talents and good taste.
The GOVERNMENT of the city, under a succession of charters from the reign of William the Lion to that of Charles I., who greatly extended the privileges conferred by his predecessors, which have been also confirmed by subsequent monarchs, is vested in a provost, four bailies, and eight councillors, assisted by a treasurer, master of shore-works, master of kirk and bridge works, master of the guild brethren's hospital, master of mortifications, and a dean of guild. There are seven incorporated trades, viz., the hammermen, bakers, wrights and coopers, tailors, shoemakers, weavers, and fleshers. The burgesses are entitled to numerous privileges, among which are, freedom to trade, and exemption from all tolls and customs on goods brought into the town for their own use. The corporation are patrons of the city churches, and of the professorships of mathematics and divinity in Marischal College, and have the presentation to thirty-six bursaries in that establishment; they are also patrons of the grammar-school, and various other schools, and of the charitable endowments in the city. Here are two classes of burgesses, namely, burgesses of guild, who are entitled to trade in all branches of merchandise, but not to exercise any craft; and freemen of the seven incorporated trades, who have the privilege of exercising their respective crafts. The fees paid by strangers on becoming guild burgesses are £35, and by the sons of burgesses, £12; the fees paid by strangers on becoming trade burgesses are £11. 12. 2., and by sons of freemen, 10s. for the eldest, and £1. 10. for the younger. The jurisdiction of the magistrates extends over the whole of the city and royalty, and they hold a bailie court every Saturday, for civil actions to any amount, in which they are assisted by an assessor, appointed for that purpose, who is generally an advocate of Aberdeen. The sheriff, however, exercises a concurrent jurisdiction with the magistrates; and since the establishment of the sheriff's small-debt court, the civil business of the bailie court has been very much diminished. The police establishment is considered to be fully sufficient for all purposes connected with its institution, and is under the control of commissioners elected by the nine wards into which the police district was divided by the act of 1829. This city was formerly the head of a district, including the burghs of Arbroath, Montrose, Brechin, and Bervie, in conjunction with which it returned one member to the imperial parliament. At present, Aberdeen of itself sends a representative to the house of commons; and the right of election, previously in the magistrates and council, is, by the Reform act, vested in the resident £10 householders. The annual value of real property in the six parishes of the city, assessed to the Income tax for the year ending April, 1843, was £96,588; the amount for the parish of Old Aberdeen was £67,192. The Town House, built at various periods, is situated on the north side of Castle-street, and has undergone frequent alterations: in 1750 the appearance of the front was greatly improved. It has five spacious and handsome windows, and above the roof is a tower surmounted by a spire 120 feet in height. The town-hall is about forty-seven feet in length, and twenty-nine feet wide, and is embellished with an elegant mantel-piece of variegated marble, executed in Holland, above which is a perspective view of the city, taken from the lands of Torrie. The walls of the apartment are hung with a full-length portrait of Queen Anne by Sir Godfrey Kneller, and full-length portraits of the Earl and Countess Findlater by Alexander; a portrait of Provost James Hadden by Pickersgill, and one of Provost James Blaikie by Phillips. This hall, which is appropriated to the meetings of the magistrates and council, is on public occasions brilliantly lighted by three elegant cut-glass chandeliers, suspended from the ceiling, and by twelve sconces on the walls. In the upper part of the building, on the west, is the town armoury, in which are deposited 300 muskets, a very ancient coat of mail, the staff of the banner borne by the citizens at Harlaw, and the furniture of the provost's charger when he attended the coronation of Charles I. at Edinburgh. The County Buildings, in Union-street, erected in 1820, by the counties of Aberdeen and Banff, for festive meetings, at a cost of £11,500, is a handsome structure of finely-dressed granite, in the Grecian style of architecture, with a stately portico of the Ionic order. It contains a spacious assembly-room, richly decorated; card, tea, and supper rooms, and various other apartments.
The Town Gaol, adjoining the town-house, has been considerably enlarged. Above the entrance is a strong vaulted chamber, in which are deposited the records and archives of the town, the church registers, and other valuable documents. The City Bridewell was erected at an expense of £12,000, on a site of two acres and a half on the confines of the town, and was opened in 1809. It is a handsome structure in the castellated style, surrounded with a wall fourteen feet in height. There are five stories, of which part of the uppermost is used as an hospital, and the interior is divided throughout its whole length by a gallery, on one side of which are dormitories, and on the other cells for labour; the whole number of cells is 109, each eight feet long, and seven feet wide. The building is warmed by steam and lighted with gas. Adjoining the rear is the governor's house, containing a committee-room for the meeting of the magistrates, a chapel, and apartments for a surgeon, in addition to the requisite accommodations for the governor, matron, and other officers necessary for the performance of the various duties of the establishment. The prisoners are employed in profitable labour.
The university of Marischal College was founded in 1593, under a charter from James VI., by George Keith, fifth earl-marischal of Scotland, who endowed it with the church, conventual buildings, and lands of the Franciscan monastery, which had been presented to him for that purpose by the magistrates and council of the city, and with the lands, tenements, and other property of the Dominican and Carmelite convents situated respectively on the School-hill and the Green, and which had been demolished at the Reformation. The original endowment was augmented by a grant of £300 per annum, by William III., payable out of the bishops' rents of Aberdeen and Moray, and by a grant of £105 per annum by Queen Anne; and the funds have since been increased by royal grants, for the foundation of additional professorships, and by donations and bequests from various individuals, for the foundation of bursaries and lectureships. The primary establishment consisted of a principal, three regents in philosophy and languages, six bursars, an a'conomus and other officers. As at present constituted, the university consists of a chancellor, generally a nobleman of high rank, who is elected by the senatus academicus, and holds his office for life; a rector elected periodically by the suppositi of the university; a dean of faculty, elected by the senatus academicus and the senior minister of Aberdeen; and a principal, who is appointed by the crown. There are thirteen professorships, of which the Greek, civil and natural history, natural philosophy, and moral philosophy and logic, were founded in 1593, at the original institution of the university; and those of mathematics, divinity, oriental languages, church history, humanity, medicine, chemistry, anatomy, and surgery, at subsequent periods. Of these professorships, that of divinity, founded in 1615 by Mr. Patrick Copland, a dissenting minister at Norton in the county of Northampton, and that of mathematics, founded in 1613 by Dr. Duncan Liddell, are in the patronage of the town council; that of oriental languages, founded in 1723 by the Rev. Gilbert Ramsay, rector of Christ Church, Barbadoes, is in the patronage of his descendant, Sir A. Ramsay, of Balmaine; and all the others are in the patronage of the crown. There are also lectureships on practical religion, the evidences of Christianity, Scottish law and conveyancing, botany, materia medica, institutes of medicine, midwifery, medical jurisprudence, comparative anatomy, and agriculture. The lectureship on practical religion is in the patronage of the trustees of Mr. Gordon of Murtle; on Scottish law and conveyancing, in the patronage of the Society of Advocates; on agriculture, in that of the magistrates of Aberdeen; and all the others in the patronage of the college. Attached to the university are likewise 115 bursaries, varying in value from £5 to £30 each per annum, tenable for four years, and of which more than sixty are open to general competition, and thirty-six in the patronage of the town council. The average number of students is about 400.
The University Library, now very extensive and valuable, consisted originally of the books belonging to St. Nicholas' church, among which were several previously in the ancient monasteries, comprising the lives of the fathers of the church, and some volumes of the classics in manuscript. The collection has been greatly increased by successive donations, the most considerable being that of Mr. Thomas Reid, Latin secretary to James VI., who, in the course of his travels, had purchased the best editions of the classics, with the most celebrated works of the ancient philosophers, lawyers, and critics, and numerous valuable MSS., all of which he bequeathed to the university, in which he was educated, with a sum of money as a fund for its further improvement, and for a salary to the librarian. In 1782, the Earl of Bute, then chancellor, presented to the library a collection of 1400 volumes; and it was subsequently enlarged by the collections of Sir William Fordyce and Professor Donaldson. Altogether the number of volumes is about 12,000. The Museum contains numerous specimens in the various departments of natural history, and many artificial curiosities. Among its contents are, an Egyptian mummy; an antique statue of Esculapius, in white marble, two feet in height; the staff of office of the earls-marischal of Scotland; a box of gold presented to the university by the Earl of Buchan, in 1769, inclosing a silver pen, which is annually awarded as a prize to the most successful student of the Greek class; the dies for a gold medal two ounces in weight, given by the late John Gray, Esq., of London, to be presented to such of his mathematical bursars as should distinguish themselves in acquirements; the various apparatus for the illustration of natural history; and the common seal of the university, bearing the arms of the marischal family, and those of the city of Aberdeen impaled, with the crest a meridian sun, and the motto Luceo. The Observatory, formerly on the Castle-hill, at a distance from the college, was removed on the erection of the present barracks, and government granted to the university a sum of money towards the building of another within the precincts of the college, which was completed in 1840. It contains a universal equatorial circle, a transit instrument, a moveable quadrant of two feet radius, an achromatic telescope with refraction apparatus, reflecting-telescopes, an orrery, and various other astronomical instruments, with a clock striking the seconds within the hearing of the observer, and an astronomical clock exhibiting the motions of the celestial bodies.
The buildings of the university, originally the Franciscan monastery, several portions of which were rapidly falling into decay, were taken down in 1838; and the present elegant structure, towards the erection of which government made a grant of £15,000, was completed at an expense of £25,000. The principal front of the present buildings, on the east side of Broad-street, occupies three sides of a quadrangle, and is in the later style of English or pointed architecture. The central range is ornamented with a stately square tower, with octagonal turrets at the angles, surmounted by minarets crowned with ogee domes, crocketed, and terminating in flowered finials. Above the doorway is a noble oriel window of two stages, and on each side are three open arches, leading into the interior portion of the structure, above which are windows of two lights, cinquefoiled, and surmounted with square-headed dripstones. The wings, which are also two stories high, are lighted by ranges of windows of corresponding style, and at the angles are octagonal turrets, rising to the parapets, and crowned with lofty minarets similar to those of the principal tower. The buildings contain a public hall, library, museum, and observatory, with spacious class-rooms and other apartments. In the hall are portraits of the fifth earl-marischal, founder of the university, the last earl, and his brother, Field-Marshal Keith; of Bishop Burnet, the Earl of Bute, Sir Robert Gordon of Straloch, Dr. Arthur Johnston, Sir Paul Menzies, provost of Aberdeen, and others, by the celebrated artist Jamieson.
The city formerly constituted the parish of St. Nicholas alone, which was divided by the authority of the Court of Teinds, in 1828, into the six separate parishes of East, West, North, South, the Grey Friars, and St. Clement. The parish of the East Kirk, situated in the centre of the city, contains a population of 4798; the minister's stipend is £300, paid by the corporation, who are patrons of the whole of the six churches, and receive the seat-rents, and apply them to Church purposes. The church, originally the choir of the collegiate church of St. Nicholas, was rebuilt about fifteen years ago, at an expense of £5000; it is a handsome structure in the later English style, eighty-six feet in length, and is separated from the West church, which formed the western portion of the old edifice, by the lofty arches of the tower. Externally, the two churches are connected, and embellished with an elegant facade of granite, 160 feet in length. The East church contains 1705 sittings. There are places of worship for the United Presbyterian Synod and United Original Seceders, and an episcopal chapel dedicated to St. Paul, erected in 1722, at an expense of £1000; also places of worship for Wesleyans, Glassites, Unitarians, and United Christians. The parish of West Kirk contains a population of 10,186; the minister's stipend is £300, paid by the corporation. The West church, originally the nave of the ancient church of St. Nicholas, is separated from the East church by the arches of the tower, which is surmounted by a lofty spire 143 feet high; the church was handsomely rebuilt in the eighteenth century, was enlarged in 1836, and now contains 1454 sittings. There are places of worship for Independents and members of the United Presbyterian Church. The parish of North Kirk is situated within the town, and contains a population of 5381; the minister's stipend is £300, paid by the corporation. The church is a handsome structure of dressed granite, in the Grecian style, with a lofty tower, and an elegant portico of the Ionic order; it was erected in 1831, by the corporation, and contains 1486 sittings. There are a place of worship for Independents, a Roman Catholic chapel, an episcopal chapel dedicated to St. John, and one dedicated to St. Andrew, the latter a handsome structure in the later English style, erected in 1817, at an expense of £8000. The parish of South Kirk is situated within the town, and contains a population of 3934; the minister's stipend is £250, paid by the corporation. The church, originally a chapel of ease, was rebuilt in 1831, at an expense of £4544, and contains 1562 sittings. There are places of worship for the United Presbyterian Church and Independents. The parish of the Grey Friars is wholly in the town, and contains a population of 5356; the minister's stipend is £250, paid by the corporation. The church, formerly the church of the monastery of Grey Friars, is a very ancient structure, enlarged and improved some years since, and contains 1042 sittings. There is a place of worship for the Society of Friends. The parish of St. Clement is to the south-east of the town, in the district of Futtie, and contains a population of 7092; the minister's stipend is £250, arising principally from bequeathed lands. The church, erected in 1787, on the site of an ancient chapel, was afterwards rebuilt, on a larger scale, at an expense of £2600; it is capable of accommodating 1300 persons. The Union quoad sacra parish, which, like similar ecclesiastical districts in other parts of the country, was afterwards dissolved, was separated from the parishes of East Kirk and St. Clement in 1834, and contained a population of 2790. The church was built by subscription, in 1822, at an expense of £2600, and contains 1238 sittings. A chapel for seamen was built in the same year, at an expense of £800, by the Seamen's Friend Society, containing 570 sittings, all of which are free. The quoad sacra parish of Spring-Garden was separated from the parish of West Kirk, and annexed to a Gaelic church, in 1834, and contained a population of 1887; the church was built in 1795, by subscription and loan, and contains sittings for 700 persons. The quoad sacra parish of the Holy Trinity was separated from the parish of South Kirk, in 1834, and contained a population of 2058; the church was erected in 1794, at an expense of £1700, and contains 1247 sittings. The quoad sacra parish of John Knox, separated from the parish of the Grey Friars, in 1836, contained a population of 3377; the church was built by subscription, at a cost of £1000, and contains 1054 sittings. Places of worship for members of the Free Church have been built in different parts of the city: of these, three are at the head of the Mutton Brae, connected together, and surmounted by a lofty and elegant spire.
The Grammar School is of so remote antiquity that the origin of its foundation is not distinctly known; in 1418 Andrew de Syves, vicar of Bervie, who had been master for some years, died, and the school has since that period continued to prosper under a succession of masters, whose salaries have gradually increased from £5 Scotch to 600 merks per annum. It appears to have been supported by various donations, and small fees paid by the scholars, till 1634, when Dr. Patrick Dun, principal of Marischal College, bequeathed the lands of Ferryhill, for the support of four masters, appropriating one-half of the proceeds to the head master or rector, and the remainder to be equally divided among the other three masters. The school is under the patronage of the corporation, the ministers of the town, and the professors of Marischal College, by whom the masters are appointed, with preference to candidates of the name of Dun. Instruction is given in the Greek and Latin classics, the French language, history, geography, arithmetic, and the mathematics. The salary of the rector is £100, and that of the other masters £50 each, with the fees of their respective classes, amounting to 13s. 4d. for each pupil, with the exception of the sons of poor tenants on the Ferryhill property, who are taught gratuitously. There are about 200 scholars in attendance. The buildings, erected in 1757, form three sides of a quadrangle, with two additional wings in the rear.
Gordon's Hospital, for the maintenance and education of the sons of decayed burgesses, was founded in 1732, by Robert Gordon, Esq., who by deed conveyed the whole of his property, amounting to £10,300, in trust to the provost and council of the city, and the ministers of Aberdeen. These trustees accordingly erected a handsome building on the ground, formerly belonging to the Dominican friary, on School-hill, which had been purchased by Mr. Gordon; but the funds, having been much reduced by the erection of the building, were suffered to accumulate till 1750, when the hospital was opened, and thirty boys admitted on the foundation. The number gradually increased to eighty; and in 1816, Alexander Simpson, Esq., of Collie-hill, bequeathed to the principal and professors of Marischal College, and the ministers of Aberdeen, lands in the parishes of New and Old Deer, for the maintenance and education of an additional number of boys, for which purpose the building was enlarged by the erection of two wings, at an expense of £14,000, and fifty more boys were admitted. The buildings consist of a central range, connected with the wings by a handsome colonnade, and surmounted by a small neat spire: over the principal entrance, in a niche, is a statue of the founder, in white marble. In the hall is a full-length portrait, and in the public schoolroom a half-length portrait of the founder. The Boys' Hospital originated in the separation from the Poor's hospital of the adult inmates and girls, and the subsequent appropriation of the remaining part of the funds to the maintenance and education of poor boys, of whom twenty-five were admitted in 1768, since which time the number has been increased to fifty, who are clothed, maintained, and taught the ordinary branches of learning. The Girls' Hospital, upon a similar plan, was instituted in 1829, and is supported by subscription and annual collections; thirty girls are clothed, maintained, and instructed, till they are fourteen years of age, when they are placed out to service. Dr. Bell, of Madras, bequeathed to the magistrates and council £10,000 three per cents., for the support of schools upon his system; and two have been consequently established, in one of which are 400 boys, and in the other 300 girls. Schools on the Lancasterian plan were opened in 1815, in which, for some years, were 450 boys and the same number of girls; but since the establishment of the Madras schools, the number of scholars has been reduced to less than one-half. The Aberdeen schools of industry, established in part in the year 1841, have done much for the prevention of crime, by affording employment, instruction, &c., to juvenile vagrants. In addition to these institutions, there are nearly forty parochial and other schools in the town and neighbourhood, in which the fees vary from two to five shillings per quarter, and the aggregate number of scholars amounts to nearly 4000. There are also week-day evening schools, in which the number of scholars is about 700; and twenty Sabbath-schools, in which there are 2000 scholars.
The Infirmary was first established in 1739, by subscription, aided by a grant of £36 per annum by the magistrates, who also gave a site for the erection of the building, which was partly effected in 1760, when forty-eight patients were admitted. An addition to the building, in 1820, increased the number to seventy, and in 1833 the managers resolved to erect an edifice on a larger scale, which was accomplished in 1835, at an expense of £8500, and the institution adapted for the reception of 210 patients. The government is vested by charter in the magistrates, the professor of medicine in Marischal College, and the moderator of the synod of Aberdeen, who, with all benefactors of £50 each, constitute the body of directors, of whom sixteen, chosen annually, form a committee of management. There are two physicians, two surgeons, a resident surgeon, and an apothecary. The buildings are spacious, and well ventilated; there are twenty wards of large dimensions, and eleven apartments for cases requiring separate treatment and attendance. The income averages £2500. A dispensary was originally established in connexion with the infirmary, and partly supported from the same funds; but subsequently dispensaries were opened, and maintained by subscription, three of them in the town, and two in the suburbs: these, in 1823, were incorporated into one institution called the General Dispensary. The Lunatic Asylum was first instituted in 1799, and a building erected for the purpose at a cost of £3484, towards which the magistrates, as trustees of Mr. Cargill's charity, contributed £1130, on condition of being permitted to send ten pauper patients gratuitously; and for the reception of an increasing number of patients, and their requisite classification, some ground adjoining the asylum was purchased, and an additional building erected, in 1819, at a cost of £13,135, towards which the governors appropriated a bequest of £10,000 by John Forbes, Esq. In 1836, about eleven acres of land were purchased for £3000, in the cultivation of which many of the patients are engaged; several workshops have also been erected for such as show any predilection for mechanical pursuits, and to these are added the powerful influences of religious worship, for which there is a chapel. John Gordon, Esq., of Murtle, in the year 1815 bequeathed considerable property to trustees, for pious and charitable uses, of which they assigned £100 per annum to the lecturers on practical religion in King's and Marischal Colleges, £150 to aged female servants, £150 towards the support of Sunday schools, £300 for the establishment of an hospital for female orphans, and the residue in annual donations to the Deaf and Dumb Society, and other institutions. Mr. John Carnegie, in 1835, left nearly £8000 to trustees, for the establishment of an Orphan Hospital for females, and in 1836, Mrs. Elmslie, of London, bequeathed for the same purpose £26,000: with these funds, an appropriate building has been erected, on the west side of the town, and properly endowed. The House of Refuge was established in 1836, by subscription, aided by a donation of £1000 from George Watt, Esq., and is supported by annual contributions: the number of inmates, in the year 1839, was 420, of whom 120 males and 90 females, under fourteen years of age, were being instructed in the ordinary branches of a useful education. The House of Industry and the Magdalen Asylum were also founded chiefly by Mr. Watt, who for that purpose conveyed to trustees the property of Oldmill, producing a rental of £164. The Deaf and Dumb Institution was established by subscription, in 1819; but from the inadequacy of the funds, only one-half of the expense of maintenance is afforded to the inmates, who generally derive the remainder from other charitable funds: the management is vested in a committee, and the teacher is allowed to receive private boarders, who are not chargeable to the funds. The Asylum for the Indigent Blind was instituted in 1818, by the trustees of Miss Cruickshank, who devoted the bulk of her property to that benevolent purpose, which, after the funds had been suffered for some years to accumulate, was carried into effect, and an appropriate building erected. An hospital for the maintenance and education of five orphan or destitute boys, and as many girls, and for which, at present, a house has been hired in the Gallowgate, was founded by a bequest of Alexander Shaw's, in the year 1807. The boys are apprenticed, and the girls placed out as servants; the former, on the expiration of their indentures, and the latter after five years' service in the same family, receive a premium of £10. There are also numerous missionary and other religious societies, some of which are supported exclusively by members of the Established Church, others by various dissenting bodies, and some indiscriminately by both: as, however, they have no permanent funds or vested property for their support, and present no peculiar features in their management or objects, it is unnecessary to give a detailed account of them. Among the most Eminent Natives may be noticed, John Barbour, Archdeacon of Aberdeen in 1330, and author of a metrical history of Robert Bruce; George Jamieson, a portrait-painter, who was born in 1586, and painted more than 100 portraits of the principal nobility and gentry, which are held in high estimation; David Anderson, distinguished for his mechanical genius, and who, in 1618, greatly improved the harbour by the removal of a large rock which lay in the middle of the channel, and obstructed the entrance; James Gregory, inventor of the reflecting-telescope, born in 1638, and educated at Marischal College; James Gibbs, born in 1688, the architect of the church of St. Martin's-in-the- Fields, London, who furnished the design for the present West church in his native city; John Gregory, born in 1724, professor of medicine in King's College, Aberdeen, and afterwards of Edinburgh, where he was succeeded by his son, Dr. James Gregory, also a native of this place; and John Ramage, eminent for his practical skill in the construction of reflecting-telescopes, of which he made one now in the Royal Observatory, which, though greatly inferior in size, is nearly equal in power to Herschel's celebrated forty-feet reflector. Connected with the town have been also, Dr. Robert Hamilton, professor of natural philosophy, and afterwards of mathematics, in Marischal College, and author of a valued essay on the national debt; Dr. Patrick Copland, likewise professor of mathematics and natural philosophy in the college, the museum of which he enriched with apparatus and models of his own construction; and Dr. Thomas Reid, Dr James Beattie, and the late Lord Byron, who were residents of Aberdeen. In the foregoing enumeration of natives and others, are probably some that were connected with Old Aberdeen; but it would not be easy, and perhaps it is not necessary, to draw an accurate line between those men of talents and celebrity who have lived in Aberdeen, and those who properly belong to the adjoining town. The city gives the title of Earl to a branch of the Gordon family, a dignity created in the year 1682.
Online maps of Aberdeen are available from a number of sites:
- Bing (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- Google Streetview.
- National Library of Scotland. (Old maps)
- old-maps.co.uk (Old Ordnance Survey maps to buy).
- Streetmap.co.uk (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- A Vision of Britain through Time. (Old maps)