UK Genealogy Archives logo
DISCLOSURE: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, we may receive a commission.

Dalgety, Fifeshire

Historical Description

DALGETY, a parish, in the district of DUNFERMLINE, county of FIFE, 2 miles (W. S. W.) from Aberdour; containing, with the villages of St. David and Fordel-Square, and part of the villages of Crossgates and Hillend, 1265 inhabitants. This place, which is on the Firth of Forth, appears to have been indebted for its growth and importance to its situation in the heart of a district abounding in mineral wealth, and to the facilities it possessed of exporting the produce, from its proximity to the sea. The abundance and superior quality of the coal in the parish seem to have attracted attention at a very early period, and the mines are supposed to have been worked for nearly three centuries: none, however, are at present in operation. The parish is about five miles in length, and in some places not more than one mile in breadth. Its surface rises gently from the Firth towards the more inland parts, where the land attains an elevation of nearly 440 feet above the sea; and the higher grounds command an extensive and interesting view over the opposite shores of the Firth. The scenery is enlivened by the loch of Otterston, about three-quarters of a mile in length and a quarter of a mile in breadth, the shores of which, enriched with plantations and with natural wood, and having a pleasing alternation of hill and valley, form a very picturesque and varied landscape. A rivulet descending from the higher grounds flows through a deep-wooded dell, and, meeting with the stream of water from the drainage of the collieries at Fordel, is precipitated in its course from a rock, forming a strikingly romantic fall of nearly fifty feet.

The soil, especially in the southern part of the parish, is a deep black loam, mixed with clay; in the higher grounds, lighter; and in some of the lower, wet and swampy, with moss and heath. From the abundance of lime used, the lands are in general fertile. The system of agriculture is in a very advanced condition; draining has been carried on successfully, and the wet lands in the northern part have been greatly improved. The chief crops are oats, barley, potatoes, and turnips; there are rather more than 1000 acres under cultivation, and about 240 in wood and plantations. The annual value of real property in the parish is £10,573. The substratum mainly consists of secondary rock; and sandstone, whinstone, bituminous shale, limestone, and coal are abundant. The sandstone is found in various parts, but of bettor quality in the southern portion of the parish. The limestone lies about fifty fathoms below the coal, the beds of which are very extensive, and in many places intersected with dykes of sandstone, interspersed with limestone and quartz. The principal coalworks are on the estate of Fordel, and were in operation at a very early period, though not carried on to any great extent till within the last forty or fifty years. The quantity of coal raised annually at these works was latterly about 70,000 tons, a great part of which, from its superior quality, was exported to the continent and to America; it was conveyed from the pits to the coast by a tramroad, in waggons containing from two to three tons each. The number of persons employed, including women and children, was about 550, for whose accommodation 130 houses were built on the estate, with neat gardens; and there were many others regularly engaged in shipping the coal at the port of St. David. The great north road runs through a remote part of the parish.

Donibristle Park, the splendid domain of the Earl of Moray, extends nearly the whole length of the parish, along the shore, with perpetually varying views: the fine old mansion is beautifully placed at the western extremity of Dalgety bay, conspicuous, among the rich woods, from the water. Fordel House is a handsome residence in extensive grounds embellished with plantations, and comprehending much interesting scenery. Cockairney is an ancient mansion, situated near the eastern extremity of the lake of Otterston; and on the northern bank of the loch is the old house of Otterston. St. Colme House, a modern edifice, is pleasantly situated opposite to the island of Inchcolm in the Firth of Forth. Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Dunfermline, synod of Fife: the stipend of the incumbent is £227; the manse is the finest in Scotland, and the glebe is valued at £20 per annum. Dalgety church, a very handsome edifice in the later English style, was erected in 1830, on a site about a mile northward of the ancient church, which was close to the sea; it is adapted for 500 persons. The parochial school is well managed; the master has a salary of £34, with a house and garden, and the fees on the average amount to £18. On the lands of the Earl of Moray are the remains of the ancient church, which previously to the Reformation was an appendage of the monastery on Inchcolm. Within the area is the tomb of Chancellor Seaton, who was created Earl of Dunfermline in 1605; and in front of one of the remaining galleries are the arms of the Earls of Dunfermline, a title that is now extinct.

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