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Fintray, Aberdeenshire

Historical Description

FINTRAY, a parish, in the district and county of Aberdeen, 2½ miles (E.) from Kintore; containing 1032 inhabitants. This place is said to have derived its name from a Gaelic term signifying "the fair bank or boundary of the river". It was formerly celebrated for its abbey, nothing of which now remains but the foundations; the establishment was called the Northern Abbey of Lindores, and is supposed to have been erected about the year 1386, that date having been found upon a stone which, on account of the place where it was discovered, is thought to have been a part of the ancient building. The parish is in that part of Aberdeenshire called Formartin, and stretches from five to six miles along the bank of the river Don; it is from three to four miles in breadth, and contains 6500 acres. Fintray is bounded on the north and west by the parish of Keith-Hall; on the south by the Don, which separates it from the parishes of Dyce, Kinellar, and Kintore; and on the east by the parish of New Machar. The ground rises gradually towards the north to the height of about 300 feet, after which it forms an easy declivity. The violent and destructive floods of the river, which runs from west to east, and falls into the sea near Old Aberdeen, are among the most remarkable events of modern times connected with the history of the parish. The first flood of which account was taken happened in 1768, at harvest time, and carried away the larger part of the crops from the lower grounds, just as they were ready to be laid up in stacks. Another inundation took place in August 1799, which, in addition to a considerable quantity of hay, swept away much grain then standing uncut. A still more violent flood occurred on Aug. 4, 1829, desolating to a great extent the property of several individuals; the water rose about fourteen feet above its ordinary level, and nearly eighteen inches higher than it had done in any former case within memory. Good embankments, however, have been constructed; and at Fintray and Wester Fintray, about 300 acres of land of very fine quality are now protected.

The SOIL varies considerably; in the neighbourhood of the river it is a deep, rich, alluvial mould, while at some distance inward the soil is much lighter. On the higher land it is poor, consisting chiefly of peat-moss and moor; but in the northern quarter it improves in quality, and rewards the labour of good cultivation. There are from 5000 to 6000 acres cultivated, or occasionally in tillage; about 800 are pasture or waste, and between 600 and 700 occupied by wood. The produce is oats, peas, hay, potatoes, sometimes a little barley, and large quantities of turnips, to the growth of which the soil is well adapted. The annual value of real property in the parish is £4130. The cattle are of the Aberdeenshire breed, many of which are fed and fattened; and the horses are of a superior description: a few sheep only are reared, and these chiefly for gentlemen's pleasure- grounds. The improvements in draining, inclosing, and embanking have been considerable of late years, and the farm-houses and offices are in a far better condition than formerly. The plantations are in a flourishing state. The prevailing rock is granite, which is found in large quantities, and of superior quality; limestone may also be obtained, but fuel is too scarce to admit of the necessary process of converting it into lime. The chief mansion is Fintray House, a large and excellent edifice lately erected by the chief proprietor of the parish. There is also a good residence, built in the cottage style, upon the lands of Disblair.

The manufacture of fine woollen-cloth is pursued at Cothal mills, established in 1798, and which have been regularly carried on since that period: it produces about 8000 yards per month. The recent introduction of the manufacture of Tweed plaid has enabled the proprietor to employ a considerably larger number of hands than formerly, to meet the call for an extensive supply of this article, to the production of which his works are particularly adapted. The inhabitants of the parish are, however, chiefly engaged in husbandry. There are good commutation roads in all directions through the parish. Ecclesiastically Fintray is within the bounds of the presbytery and synod of Aberdeen, and the patronage is vested in Sir John Forbes, Bart.: the stipend is £217, with a manse, built in 1804, and a glebe of the annual value of £10. The church, erected in 1821, is a commodious and substantial building, and contains 500 sittings. There is a parochial school, in which Latin and mathematics are taught, with the usual branches of education; the master has a salary of £28, with about £23 fees, a portion of the Dick bequest, a house, and a quarter of an acre of garden-ground. Another school is open, in which the instruction is of the same kind as in the parochial school; the master receives the interest of £200 left by the Rev. Dr. Morison of Disblair, with fees, an allowance from the Dick bequest, and a house and garden. A silver cup is still in the possession of the minister, having the date 1632, and believed to have been cast from a silver head of St. Meddan, who was the tutelar saint of the parish: it is reported to have been carried in procession, on account of its magical virtues in procuring suitable weather for the purposes of agriculture.

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