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Auchtermuchty, Fifeshire

Historical Description

AUCHTERMUCHTY, a royal burgh, and a parish, in the district of CUPAR, county of FIFE, 9 miles (W.) from Cupar; containing, with the village of Dunshelt, 3356 inhabitants, of whom 1340 are in the burgh. This place, the name of which in the Gaelic language signifies "the cottage of the king," is supposed, from that circumstance, to have been appropriated to the accommodation of part of the royal household, during the kings' residence in the palace of Falkland, about three miles distant. The town is situated on the road from Kinross to Cupar, and is irregularly built, consisting of several ill-formed streets and lanes of houses of mean appearance, many of them having thatched roofs, though intermixed with some of more modern and handsome character, with neat gardens attached. It is inhabited by an industrious and thriving population, and has a public library supported by subscription. The inhabitants are chiefly employed in handloom weaving for the manufacturers of Dunfermline, Newburgh, and Kirkcaldy; the principal articles are linen goods, consisting of checks, drills, dowlas, sheetings, and other fabrics, in making which about 1000 persons are engaged. A considerable number were formerly occupied in these manufactures on their own account; but only one or two establishments of the kind now remain. On the banks of a rivulet near the extremity of the town are a cloth and yarn bleach-field, a flourmill, and saw-mill. There are also a thriving distillery and an extensive malting concern. A branch of the Union Bank of Scotland has been established, as well as a savings' bank. The market, which is on Monday, is well supplied with grain and provisions of every kind; and fairs are held on the 25th of March (O. S.), the 13th of July, and the 21st of August, for horses and cattle: the July fair is also a statute-fair. The inhabitants were first incorporated by charter of James IV., who erected the town into a royal burgh; and its liberties, as such, were confirmed by James VI.: the right of sending a member to parliament was lost, from disuse, some time before the Union; but it still retains its corporation, and most of its other privileges. The government is vested in three bailies, a treasurer, and a council of fifteen members, chosen under the authority of the Municipal Reform act. The magistrates have jurisdiction over the whole of the royalty, and hold courts for the determination of civil pleas to any amount; in criminal cases their jurisdiction is confined to misdemeanors. The post-office has two deliveries daily; and facility of communication with the neighbouring places is afforded by good roads, of which the turnpike-road from Stirling to St. Andrew's passes through the southern extremity of the town.

The PARISH is about four miles in length, from north-east to south-west, and extends from one to two miles in breadth, comprising about 2900 acres, of which 220 are woodland and plantations, 90 undivided common, and the remainder arable land and pasture. Its surface is varied, in the south-east forming an extensive and richly fertile plain, and in other parts rising to a considerable elevation. In the level lands the soil is a deep loam, producing abundant crops of all kinds. Of late years, the system of agriculture has been brought to a state of great perfection under the encouragement of the Auchtermuchty Agricultural Society, which holds an annual meeting in the town, on the first Monday in October, for the distribution of premiums. The lands have been drained and inclosed, and the farm-buildings are substantial and well arranged. The pastures are luxuriantly fertile, and the cattle, which are chiefly of the Fifeshire black breed, bring a good price in the market. The annual value of real property in the parish is £6845. The substratum is mostly whinstone, which forms the basis of the higher grounds. The plantations, mainly of modern growth, are in a thriving state. Myres Castle, the principal mansion in the parish, was for many years the seat of the Moncrieffs, and now belongs to the family of Bruce of Falkland: the building, to which a considerable addition was made about the year 1830, is finely situated in a park of about thirty acres. Bellevue and Southfield are also pleasant residences. This parish is ecclesiastically within the bounds of the presbytery of Cupar and synod of Fife: the minister's stipend is about £250, with a manse, garden, and a glebe valued at £30 per annum; patrons, the Bruce family. The church, a plain building erected in 1785, was enlarged by the patrons, in 1837, at a cost of £500, and now contains 1100 sittings. There are places of worship for the United Presbyterian Synod and the Free Church. The parochial school of Auchtermuchty is well attended; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4. per annum, with a house and garden.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis


Online maps of Auchtermuchty are available from a number of sites:

Postal districtKY14
Post TownCupar