Historical description of Nairnshire, Scotland

NAIRNSHIRE, a county, in the north-east of SCOTLAND, bounded on the north by the Moray Firth, on the east by Elginshire and a detached portion of the county of Inverness, on the south by Elginshire, and on the west and south-west by Inverness-shire. It lies between 57° 22' and 57° 38' (N. Lat.), and 3° 40' and 4° 7' (W. Long.), and is about twenty-two miles in length and fifteen miles in breadth; comprising an area of 200 square miles, or 128,000 acres; 2338 houses, of which 2235 are inhabited; and containing a population of 9217, of whom 4231 are males and 4986 females. This district formed part of the ancient province of Moray, and was in the diocese of that name; the county is now in the synod of Moray and presbytery of Nairn, and includes four parishes, with small parts of others. In civil matters, it and Elginshire are under the jurisdiction of one sheriff, but it has a resident sheriff-substitute for itself. It contains the royal burgh of Nairn, which is the county town, and a few villages. Under the act of the 2nd of William IV., it is associated with Elginshire in returning one member to the imperial parliament; the election, so far as Nairnshire is concerned, takes place at Nairn, where also all the civil courts of the county are held. In the northern part the surface is tolerably level, but in the southern part hilly and mountainous. The principal heights are, Ben-Bui, Crag-Ower, Cragerachan, and the Leonach, on the confines of Inverness-shire; and Cairn-Glaschurn and Cairn-Dui towards the border of Elginshire; but none of them have any very great elevation. The rivers are the Findhorn and the Nairn, of which the former enters the county in Strathdearn, on the south-west, and, flowing with a rapid current, in a north-eastern direction, falls into the Moray Firth at the fishing-village of Findhorn, in the county of Elgin. The Nairn also pursues a north-eastern course through the county, which it enters at its western extremity from Inverness-shire; and flows into the firth, at Nairn. Both rivers abound with excellent salmon. There are several lakes, but the only one of any considerable extent is the loch of the Clans, about a mile in length and half a mile broad, with a small island in the centre, and from which a streamlet flows into the firth. Rather more than one-half of the land is arable; of the remainder, the greater portion is meadow and pasture, and the rest unprofitable moss. The soil of the arable lands is in some places a rich clayey loam, and in other parts a light sand, with other varieties; the system of agriculture has been much improved, but is still inferior to that pursued in the south. The minerals are not important. Limestone is found near the coast, and marl of different kinds has been applied to the improvement of the lands; freestone of valuable quality is also abundant at Nairn, of a beautiful colour, and compactness equal to the Portland stone. There is a considerable quantity of natural wood remaining; and extensive plantations have been formed, which are generally in a thriving state. The chief commerce is the export of timber, corn, sheep, cattle, and salmon. Facility of communication is afforded by roads kept in excellent repair. The annual value of real property in the county is £16,796, of which £15,202 are returned for lands, £1403 for houses, and the remainder for other species of real property.

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