UK Genealogy Archives logo

Ferryport-On-Craig, Fifeshire

Historical Description

FERRYPORT-ON-CRAIG, a parish, in the district of St. Andrew's, county of Fife, 11 miles (N. E. by N.) from Cupar; containing 1741 inhabitants, of whom 1556 are in the village. This place formed part of the ancient lands of Craig, belonging to Archbishop Sharp of St. Andrew's, who, by authority of the pope, granted them on lease to the Scotts of Balwearie in Fifeshire, from whom, to distinguish them from others in the county, of the same name, they received the appellation of Scotscraig, which they still retain. The name of the village is obviously derived from the establishment of a ferry over the Tay to the opposite shore at Broughty, to which ferry, previously to the erection of a pier for their better accommodation, passengers had access only by means of a platform of timber extending to the boats from the rugged rocks which girt the coast. The lands are supposed to have been part of the parish of Leuchars previously to the year 1606, when, by act of James VI., they were erected into a distinct parish: one of the fields is still called the Chapel, probably from the existence of a chapel of ease to the mother church prior to the separation. There was a castle at this place, but at what time or by whom it was founded does not appear: from the style of the building, as far as can be ascertained from the small portions of it still remaining, it seems to have been adapted for the use of cannon, and to have been erected to defend this pass of the river, in conjunction with the castle of Broughty in Forfarshire.

The parish is bounded on the north by the river Tay, which washes its coast for nearly five miles before joining the German Ocean. It differs greatly in breadth, not exceeding in the widest part a mile and a half, and comprises 2600 acres, of which 1400 are arable, 120 woodland and plantations, and the remainder rough pasture and waste. The surface is abruptly varied, being in the eastern parts flat and low, and in others rising into ridges of craggy rock. Its rugged aspect has under recent improvements been considerably softened, and many rucks near the village, which is situated on the shore, have been removed; but to the west the lands are still precipitous, and very irregular. Except the Tay, there is no stream of any consequence; but numerous springs in the higher grounds, descending to the low lands, afford an abundant supply of excellent water. In the lower parts of the parish the soil is a light loam, resting on a bed of sand; and in the higher, a rich black loam, on a substratum of whinstone. The agricultural district is under good cultivation, and extremely productive; the crops are barley, oats, rye, and wheat, with potatoes, of which considerable quantities are raised for the London market, turnips, and the usual green crops. Flax was formerly grown to a good extent, but for many years its culture has been totally discontinued. The pastures maintain large numbers of sheep and cattle, the former chiefly a cross between the Cheviot and Leicestershire breeds, and the latter a mixture of the Fife, Angus, and Ayrshire. There is a small undivided common of about twenty acres, on which all the inhabitants have a right of pasturage. The woods consist mainly of larch and oak, and the latter, though of recent introduction, appears to thrive well. The farm-buildings are in general substantial and commodious, and some, of more modern erection, are of a very superior order; but little progress has hitherto been made in inclosing the lands, which, with the exception of a few fields, are wholly open. The annual value of real property in Ferryport-on-Craig is £3191.

The principal proprietor in the parish is the owner of Scotscraig, whose mansion, erected in 1807, is a spacious structure, beautifully situated in grounds tastefully laid out, and embellished with plantations. Ferryport village consists of more than 300 neatly-built houses, chiefly one story in height, with a few of two stories, and some larger houses of recent erection, which are handsomely built, and roofed with blue slate. The shore has been greatly improved by the levelling of various eminences that impeded the communication between the village and the river. There are two piers at the ferry, at the larger of which, vessels laden with coal and other necessaries land their cargoes for the supply of the neighbourhood, and grain, potatoes, and other agricultural produce are shipped for the London market. In 1846 the Edinburgh, Perth, and Dundee railway company were empowered to purchase, and in 1847 were empowered to improve, the ferry across the Tay. There is an extensive salmon-fishery belonging to the proprietor of Scotscraig, and extending along the coast for the whole length of the parish; it formerly produced an annual rental of £2000, but since the disuse of stake-nets, which were formerly employed, it yields only about £600. Many of the inhabitants of the village and parish are occupied in handloom weaving for the manufacturers of Dundee, to which they devote their chief attention during the winter months, in the summer resuming their agricultural labours. A fair, at one time very numerously attended, is held in the village on the first Tuesday in June (O. S.), and resorted to by a few dealers in general merchandise. Facility of communication is afforded by the Dundee line of the Edinburgh, Perth, and Dundee railway. A library has been established in the village, and there is a savings' bank, opened in 1836, which has proved very successful. Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of St. Andrew's, synod of Fife; patron, the Crown: the minister's stipend is £159. 13., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £42 per annum. Ferryport church, rebuilt in 1825, is a neat and substantial edifice situated in the village, and adapted for a congregation of 900 persons. There are also places of worship for members of the Free Church and the United Presbyterian Synod. The parochial school affords an extensive course of instruction; the master has a salary of £30, with £19 fees, and a good house and garden. Five free scholars are taught by the master in consideration of a bequest for that purpose by William Dalgleish, Esq.; they are nominated by the proprietor of Scotscraig and the incumbent of the parish, and remain in the school for five years. There are also several Sabbath-evening schools, supported by contributions collected at the church. Some vestiges of the Archbishop of St. Andrew's palace here are yet remaining.

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