UK Genealogy Archives logo

Dairsie, Fifeshire

Historical Description

DAIRSIE, a parish, in the district of CUPAR, county of FIFE, 2 miles (E. N. E.) from Cupar; containing, with the village of Osnaburgh, or Dairsie-Muir, 669 inhabitants. This place is of some antiquity, and appears to have belonged to the see of St. Andrew's till the year 1520, when it was granted by charter of Archbishop Foreman to the family of Learmonth of Clatto, in whose possession it remained till the year 1616. It then became the property of Archbishop Spottiswood, from whose descendant. Sir John Spottiswood, it was conveyed to Sir George Morrison, Knt.; and it was subsequently purchased by Thomas, Earl of Kincardine. The estate was sold by the earl in 1772 to General Scott of Balcomy, whose daughter conveyed it by marriage to the Duke of Portland, by whom it was afterwards disposed of; and it is now divided among several proprietors. Dairsie Castle, the residence of Archbishop Spottiswood, and in which it is said he wrote his History of the Church of Scotland, though now a ruin, is in good preservation; it is situated on an eminence near the banks of the river Eden, and has an air of venerable antiquity. It was selected as a place of security and retirement, during the minority of David II., by the regents of Scotland, who held a parliament in the castle in the year 1335.

The PARISH, which is bounded on the south and south-east by the Eden, is of irregular form, nearly three miles in length, and of almost equal breadth, comprising an area of 2300 acres, of which, except about fifty acres in woodland and plantations, the whole is arable. Its surface rises gently to a considerable elevation, and, towards the centre, into two conspicuous hills called respectively Foodie and Craigfoodie, the latter of which is 500 feet above the sea. Both these hills are cultivated to their summit; and Foodie, which is the less elevated, is crowned with plantations. The river, over which is a handsome bridge of three arches, erected by Archbishop Spottiswood, abounds with salmon and trout; and the Middlefoodie burn, a fine troutstream, intersects the parish, and eventually flows into the Eden. The soil is mostly fertile, in many parts of great depth, and the system of agriculture is excellent, the parish being one of the best cultivated in Fifeshire; the crops are wheat, oats, barley, potatoes, and turnips, with the various grasses. The substrata are chiefly whinstone and freestone; the former is quarried on the hill of Foodie, and the latter is found in abundance on the lands near the river. The annual value of real property in the parish is £4752.

In this parish the principal mansion-houses are Craigfoodie, Pitormie, and New-Mill, all modern buildings. Woodend Cottage, a small but handsome residence, surrounded with wood, was occupied for some time by Lord William Russell, who was inhumanly murdered in London by his valet Courvoisier. The manufacture of dowlas is carried on under the direction of Mr. Inglis, in whose establishment about thirty-five persons are engaged; and there are two mills for the spinning of flax, one belonging to Mr. Annan, in which 5200 spindles, and one to Mr. Michael Smith, in which 31,250 spindles, are employed. Great facilities of intercourse are afforded by the Dundee section of the Edinburgh, Perth, and Dundee railway. Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Cupar and synod of Fife: the minister's stipend is about £250, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £11 per annum; patron. Captain McDonald. Dairsie church, situated near the remains of the old castle, was erected by Archbishop Spottiswood, about the year 1621, and was originally an elegant structure in the later English style, of which it is said to have been one of the most beautiful specimens in the country. It underwent much mutilation, however, in the time of the Covenanters, who, in their zeal for the demolition of idolatrous monuments, in 1645 destroyed most of its richest details. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school is attended by about sixty children; the master has a salary of £34, with a house and garden, and the fees average £25 per annum.

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