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Guthrie, Forfarshire

Historical Description

GUTHRIE, a parish, in the county of Forfar, 8 miles (N. W.) from Arbroath; containing 530 inhabitants. This place gives name to the very ancient and distinguished family of Guthrie, one of whom, on the resignation of the guardianship of Scotland by Sir William Wallace, in 1299, and his retirement into France, was sent by the Scottish nobles to solicit the return of that hero, in order to assist his countrymen to expel the English invaders. His descendant, Sir David Guthrie, who was lord high treasurer of Scotland in the reign of James III., purchased from the monks of Arbroath the church of Guthrie, which had formerly been a chapel belonging to that abbey, and founded here a collegiate church for a provost and three prebendaries. This foundation was confirmed by a bull of Pope Sextus IV., in 1479; and to it was subsequently annexed the vicarage of Kirkbuddo, or Carbuddo, now forming a widely detached portion of the parish of Guthrie. Sir David Guthrie also erected a spacious and strongly-fortified baronial castle here, which is still entire; and on his decease, the manor passed to his son, Sir Alexander, who, with one of his sons and three of his brothers-in-law, fell in the battle of Flodden-Field. It is now the property of his descendant, John Guthrie, Esq.

Including Kirkbuddo, which is situated at a distance of nearly seven miles to the south-west, and separated by several intervening parishes, the parish of Guthrie comprises an area of about 4000 acres, of which 3200 are arable, and the remainder wood and plantations, with a very considerable tract of unreclaimed moor. The surface of the main portion is varied, sloping gradually from the hill of Guthrie (which is in the north-west, and has an elevation of about 500 feet) towards the south and east; while in the southern, or Kirkbuddo, portion, the land is nearly level, though considerably raised above the sea. The parish is watered by the small river Lunan, which flows through a narrow valley, and forms its boundary. In some parts the soil is a rich black loam, resting on a bed of retentive clay, and in others of inferior quality, but generally susceptible of improvement by draining, which is gradually growing into general practice. The system of agriculture is advanced, and some portions of the moor have been reclaimed; the farm-buildings are usually commodious, and considerable progress has been made in the inclosure of the lands. The woodlands around Guthrie Castle and Kirkbuddo House are under good management; and in different parts of the parish are some thriving plantations, which add much to the beauty of the scenery. The annual value of real property in the parish is £2727. Guthrie Castle, the seat of Mr. Guthrie, was originally built in 1468. The more ancient part consists of a massive square tower crowned with embattled turrets, rising above the foliage of the richly-wooded demesne by which it is surrounded, and conveying an impressive idea of baronial grandeur; the more modern portions have been added at various times, and the whole has been improved by the present proprietor of the mansion. It is beautifully situated on the banks of the river Lunan, which has its source in a lake in the vicinity. Kirkbuddo House, the seat of George Ogilvy, Esq., is a handsome modern mansion. There is no village properly so called; the population are principally agricultural, with the exception of a few who are employed in weaving for the manufacturers in the neighbourhood. In Kirktown of Guthrie, a hamlet consisting only of a small number of scattered houses, are some individuals engaged in the various handicraft trades requisite for the supply of the inhabitants of the parish. Facility of communication is afforded by the Arbroath and Forfar turnpike-road, the Arbroath and Forfar railway, and the Aberdeen railway.

For ECCLESIASTICAL purposes the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Arbroath, synod of Angus and Mearns. The minister's stipend is £158, of which nearly one-half is paid from the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe valued at £9 per annum: patron, John Guthrie, Esq. The church, which is situated on an acclivity rising from the valley of the Lunan, is a substantial neat building erected in 1826, and contains 306 sittings. Divine service is occasionally also performed by the minister in a schoolroom at Kirkbuddo. The parochial schoolmaster's salary is £27, with the fees, the amount of which is small, a house, and a garden: a school at Kirkbuddo is supported by subscription; and there is a parochial library, consisting chiefly of works on religious subjects. Of the collegiate church founded by Sir David Guthrie the only remains are a small isle, now the burial-place of the family; while of the chapel of Kirkbuddo scarcely any vestiges can be traced. In the southern portion of the parish are some remains of a Roman camp, still in a very entire state, inclosing an area about 760 yards in length and 360 yards wide: in the south-east angle, supposed to have been the site of the prætorium, is an eminence commanding a view of the whole of the interior. About twelve years ago, two ancient utensils of earthenware were found at the south-east corner of the northern division of the parish, on the banks of the Lunan; one of them shaped somewhat like a kettle. John Guthrie, of this place, was consecrated Bishop of Moray, over which see he continued to preside till 1638.

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