Old Keith is a very ancient place, and, at no very distant period, was celebrated for an annual market held in September, to which merchants from Glasgow and the other manufacturing towns in the south repaired in great numbers, where they met those from the north, as far as Orkney, and exchanged their various commodities. So great was the concourse of people there, that the historian of Moray says, " There was not accommodation for them, and they occupied the barns and out?houses in the country for many miles round."
New Keith is a clean thriving-like village, on a rising ground sloping towards the east, with three parallel streets running due south and north, intersected by a narrow lane between each alternate feu. The feus are fifteen yards front by sixty yards back, and pay from 10s. to £1, 5s. feu-duty. There is a town-house and lock-up-house, and a large square or market-place, where there is a weekly market on Friday for the sale of all sorts of produce. There are six annual markets for the sale of cattle, horses, and sheep. At those of June and September a great deal of wool is still disposed of. New Keith may still be considered the market-town of the district. It was begun to be built about the year 1750. There are branches of three banks, the Aberdeen Bank, the Town and County Bank, and the North of Scotland Bank. In it are all the principal merchants' shops, the residences of all the solicitors and doctors, while the inn, which is a commodious building, is the resort of all the commercial travellers, and the Mail and Defiance coaches stop at it daily. Gaslight has been lately introduced. There is likewise a Savings Bank in New Keith, which was instituted in 1827 by the parish minister. It is conducted by a secretary and thirty directors. There is a subscription library containing upwards of 600 volumes of standard works, and several other libraries connected with several of the congregations of the place.
Fife Keith is a clean healthy village, and was begun to be built in 1817 by Lord Fife, on the north side of the Islay. It has a fine building adapted for an inn. The whole village, in a commercial view, has been a complete failure; for, except a few merchants' shops, and some three or four tradesmen, the population may be said to depend on their crofts of land. It has four markets for the sale of cattle annually. Newmill was begun as early as New Keith; but, being at a distance from public roads, it did not thrive, - the people depending entirely on their land. It has one annual well frequented market for the sale of cattle, horses, and sheep, in the month of October.
The parish church is a substantial erection, built in the year 1816. It is 100 feet long, and 60 wide, and is seated to contain 1800. It has a square tower 120 feet high, in which are placed the clock and bell. The Roman Catholic chapel is a neat building, with a highly ornamented gable fronting the market place of New Keith. It was erected in 1828, and is capable of containing 340. The General Assembly's church contains sittings for 700. The Independent chapel has seats for 240. The Secession church has seats for 450. The Episcopalian chapel is seated to contain 150, and has a fine organ.From The New Statistical Account of Scotland, vol. XIII (1842)
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Last updated: 16 Mar 2003 - Gavin Bell