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Inverury, Aberdeenshire

Historical Description

INVERURY, a royal burgh, and a parish, in the district of Garioch, county of Aberdeen, 16 miles (N. W.) from Aberdeen, and 137 (N. N. E.) from Edinburgh; containing 2020 inhabitants, of whom 1619 are in the burgh. This place, which derives its name from its situation at the confluence of the river Don, is of antiquity, and, as part of the lordship of Garioch, was granted by William the Lion to his brother David, Earl of Huntingdon, youngest son of David I.; from whom King John Baliol, King Robert Bruce, and the present royal family are descended. Of the baronial castle of the earl, which occupied a site near the Bass, and appears to have been the first stronghold erected in the county, there are no remains existing; but a charter of the date of 1178 is still extant, by which the earl granted the church of Inverury, with several others, to the abbey of Lindores. During the wars with England in the reign of Edward I., Robert Bruce, who had removed to this place from Sliach, in Strathbogie, in a state of ill health, was attacked by the English army under Cumyn, over whom he obtained a signal victory, in acknowledgment of which he erected the town of Inverury into a royal burgh. In 1745, a battle occurred here between the forces of the Pretender and the Macleods, the latter of whom Lord Loudon had sent from the north, with a body of men, to relieve the city of Aberdeen, at that time in the possession of the rebels, who had imposed upon the inhabitants a tribute of £1000. The Macleods, on their arrival at this place, were attacked by Lord Lewis Gordon, who, with a force of 1200 men, crossing the river Ury, surprised and defeated them: there was, however, a sharp encounter, in which many were killed and taken prisoners on both sides.

The TOWN consists of irregularly built and detached houses, scattered along the turnpike-road from Huntly to Aberdeen. From the difficulty of access previously to the existence of the bridge over the Don, which was built at a cost of £2000 in 1791,the place was not much more than an obscure village, and had neither any manufacture nor trade. Upon that event, however, it became of some little importance. The construction of the Aberdeen and Inverury canal, which was completed in 1807, at a cost of £44,000, gave an additional impulse to its trade; and the subsequent erection of three bridges at different points on the river Ury has supplied all that was wanting to its prosperity in respect to means of communication. Considerable improvements have since taken place in the town, which is now lighted with gas. The manufacture of linen is pursued to some extent, affording employment to more than sixty of the inhabitants. Various handicraft trades, also, are carried on for the accommodation of the adjacent district; and there are several shops in the town well supplied with goods. The increase of trade since the completion of the canal has been very great; and large quantities of grain, lime, coal, salt, and other produce, are now sent to, or received from, Port-Elphinstone, where the canal terminates, near the bridge over the Don, on the opposite bank of the river, in the parish of Kintore. The post-office has two deliveries daily. Branches of the Aberdeen, the Town and County, and the North of Scotland Banks have been established; and facility of communication is afforded by good roads, and by the canal, on which an iron boat for passengers and light goods plies daily to Aberdeen. Fairs for cattle, sheep, horses, and grain are held monthly, those at Whitsuntide and Martinmas being likewise for hiring servants; also every alternate Tuesday from the first Tuesday in November till March. After the loss of its original charter, the town was created a ROYAL BURGH by charter of novodamus by Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1558: the government is vested in a provost, three bailies, a dean of guild, a treasurer, and four councillors, chosen under the regulations of the Municipal Reform act. There are no incorporated trades; but the guild burgesses have an exclusive privilege of trading, and are exempt from the payment of custom dues. The magistrates possess jurisdiction over the whole of the royalty, and hold courts for civil actions to an unlimited amount, and for the trial of petty delinquencies. Inverury is associated with Banff, Cullen, Elgin, Kintore, and Peterhead, in returning a member to the imperial parliament; the number of qualified voters is 115.

The PARISH, which is bounded on the south by the river Don, and on the north and east by the Ury, is about four miles in extreme length and two miles in breadth, comprising an area of 5100 acres, of which 3000 are arable, 1000 woodland and plantations, and the remainder moorland pasture and waste. Its surface, though level near the banks of the rivers, rises gradually towards the west, terminating in the three nearly equidistant hills of Manar to the south, Knockinglew in the centre, and Drimmies to the north, between which are some fine tracts of fertile vale. On the lower grounds the soil is a rich light mould, superincumbent upon sand, but on the higher grounds of less fertility; the chief crops raised are oats, barley, potatoes, and turnips, with the usual grasses. The system of husbandry is improved, and a rotation of crops is duly observed; lime and bone dust, for which the canal affords facility of conveyance, are applied to the soil, and some of the unprofitable land has been brought into cultivation. The Aberdeenshire breed of cattle is that most prevalent, but on some farms a few of the short-horned are reared; a cross between the short-horned and Aberdeenshire breeds is also in high favour, and is rapidly increasing. No regular flock of sheep is pastured; some sheep of English breeds are kept by different farmers for domestic use, and chiefly for their wool. The annual value of real property in the parish is £6395. The plantations are well attended to, and are generally in a thriving state: there are considerable remains of ancient wood. The rocks are chiefly of granite. Manar House is a substantial modern mansion, beautifully situated on the southern acclivity of Manar hill, commanding a fine view of the river Don, and surrounded with plantations.

For ECCLESIASTICAL purposes the parish is within the limits of the presbytery of Garioch, synod of Aberdeen. The minister's stipend is £257. 11., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £15 per annum; patron, the Earl of Kintore. Inverury old church, built in 1775, contained only 400 sittings, a number very inadequate to the increased population; and consequently, a new church, containing 1330 sittings, has been erected on its site by the heritors and the burgh magistrates. The present structure is of beautiful granite, in the later English style of architecture. The burial-ground is situated near the river, where the church stood previous to 1775. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, Independents, and Wesleyans; and an episcopal chapel. A Roman Catholic seminary, formerly at Aquhorties, in this parish, has been removed to Blairs, in the parish of Maryculter, county of Kincardine; and the building, beautifully situated, is at present a farm-house. Inverury parochial school is attended by about ninety children; the master has a salary of £30, with a house and garden, and the fees average £35 annually. The chief monuments of antiquity are two tumuli, one of which, called the Bass, and situated at the southern extremity of the town, is in the form of a truncated cone, and is supposed to have been a seat for the administration of justice; the other, called the Conyng hillock, is traditionally said to have been raised over the remains of one of the Pictish kings. There is also a very complete Druidical temple in a field about two miles west of the burgh. Inverury gives the title of Baron to the Earl of Kintore.

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