Parish of Ordiquhill
By the Rev. Mr. Robert Ogilvie
Name, Extent, and Stipend.
Ordiquhill is of Gaelic original, and signifies, the "hollow beside the height." The Earl of Findlater is patron; and though he has not a foot of ground in the parish, pays most of the stipend. The parish is of an oblong form, being near 4 miles in length, from N. to S. and about 3 in breadth. It was formerly a chapelry in the parish of Fordyce, where public worship was performed once a month; and seems to have been erected into a separate parish, about the year 1622. The church, which was built about the same time, on the spot where then stood St. Mary's chapel, is, at present, in bad repair; as is also the mance and office houses. The stipend, including the glebe, which here is not worth much, is about L. 70 sterling yearly - Previous to the augmentation, which took place in 1766, it was one of the smallest stipends in Scotland, being in all not above L. 30 sterling per annum. - The schoolmaster's salary is 8 bolls of meal, L. 1 5 as session clerk; and, the profits arising from baptisms and marriages, and from about 40 scholars.
Names of Places, Mineral Springs, & c.
The names of places in this parish seem mostly of Gaelic original. - There are several excellent mineral wells in the parish; which were formerly much frequented. They are of a medicinal quality, and are known to be useful in many complaints, particularly those of a scorbutio nature. One of them, being dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was formerly at certain seasons much resorted to by the superstitions as well as the sick. The air here is salubrious, and the people healthy, hospitable and industrious. - The face the country is wildly beautiful, and corresponds exactly with the signification of the name given to it.
Produce and Rent.
About two thirds of the parish are arable; the other is still in a state of nature, and partly covered with heath. The soil is, in general, deep; but cold and wet at the bottom. A considerable quantity of lint, turnips and potatoes are raised here; but hemp, cabbages, and the like, however, are seldom produced in the fields. Though there are 3 or 4 farms of about 100 acres arable, besides a considerable extent of pasture, the highest rent, every thing included, does not exceed L 40 sterling yearly. The valued rent of the parish is L. 1700 Scots; the real rent at present, including servitudes, amounts to about L. 700 sterling.
Proprietor and Improvements.
Sir Ernest Gordon of Park, who generally resides in the parish, is sole proprietor; and his house, which is lately fitted up in the modern taste, is commodious and elegant; and surrounded by a number of venerable ash, and other trees, in a thriving way. He is spreading improvements rapidly around him; and there is now a probability, that agriculture will advance apace; though, in this part of the country, it must be confessed she is but in her infancy. There is moss enough here for generations to come, and stones sufficient for the purpose of inclosing; and, though the parish cannot boast of woods, and groves, of forests, and water-falls, yet it can be said that it has winding rills, and purling streams, in abundance; and that there is scarcely a farm, or cot-houses, in this district, but has some spreading trees to screen and adorn it. Ash and other hard woods thrive tolerably well; however, the soil, in general, seems better adapted for aller and other aquatics; and there is the pleasing prospect, that the oaklings, and various feedlings, that have lately been planted, will give an agreeable variety to this part of the country, and prove a lasting source of wealth and amusement to the industrious proprietor.
The Knock hill, part of which belongs to this parish, is about 2500 feet above the level of the sea; and, as its towering head is seen from afar, it becomes an excellent landmark to those who trade in the Moray Firth. It is situated, as it were, in a large capacious plain; and, while it produces a variety of excellent game for the amusement and health of the sportsman, and suggests to the contemplative mind an idea of the grand, the sublime, and the beautiful, it affords a delicious repast for the flocks and herds of those that live near. The parishes of Grange, Fordyce, and Ordiquhill meet on the top of this hill; and, on the very spot where they meet, is a terminus, or mark, from which is seen the greater part of Caithness, Ross, Banff, Murray, & c. the windings of the Devern, part of Spey, the Murray Firth, the German ocean, & c. & c. as far as the eye can reach. In short, this hill affords one of the most grand, beautiful, and variegated prospects south of the Tweed. (The seed time here is commonly finished soon after Whitsunday, and , by the middle of October, the farmer, in general, sees his corn beyond the power of the storm. Among the many improvements that might be introduced into this part of the country, a bridge, on the great road between Huntly and Portsoy, over the Boyn, which partly runs through the parish, is much needed. For want of such an accommodation, several useful members of society have lost their lives;; and a woman, in attempting to cross it, was with her horse hurried down the stream, where they perished.)
There are, at present, 517 souls in the parish, and, of these, 130 below ten years of age. - Several old people died lately, upwards of 90. The oldest person just now, is about 86, there are three men above 80, and as many women; one of them was never married. The number of males and females, is nearly equal. There are 452 examinable persons in it, 6 Seceders, about as many Methodists, two Roman Catholics, and one Episcopalian. There is only one village in the parish. It contains, at present but 12 families. It is called Cornhill: and near it, during the summer season, there are annually held some well frequented markets. There are but few handycraftmen; and, at present, only 3 apprentices. - The farms are, in general, modest, sober, and of a religious deportment; and, though few of them may be said to be rich, yet there has not been any begging poor, belonging to the parish, in the memory of man. - The contributions, seat rents, & c. & c. for the behoof of the poor, amount to about L. 6 10 per annum. - There are, at an average, in the parish, 5 marriages, 18 births, and 10 deaths annually. - The number of inhabitants has continued for these hundred years past, nearly what it is at present. The return of Dr. Webster, however, was 666 souls.
The price of labour here is much increased of late; as is also that of every thing. About 30 years ago a labouring servant would have been got for L. 2 10, and now he cannot be had under L. 6 sterling a year. Female servants earn from L. 2 to L. 3 sterling yearly. - The surplus grain, which annually amounts to some hundred bolls, is generally carried to Portsoy, or Banff, the nearest sea port towns; to which places, also, and Cullen, most of the other surplus products are carried for sale.)
The people here are, in general, of a contented mind, not given to any peculiar vice, and regular attendants on public worship; and , though few of them are gaudily dressed, yet most of them appear at church in clean and decent apparel. - About 30 years ago, there were only 3 hats, and 3 watches in the parish, being those of the proprietor, the minister, and the schoolmaster; but now almost every labouring servant has his hat, and watch, his English cloth coat, his white thread stockings, & c. The ordinary fuel is peat, and turf; and the making of tether bindings, and ropes from moss-fir, is common all round this part of the country.
There is a woman in this parish, that has the perfect use of all her faculties, though she has not been above half an hour at once out of bed these 30 years. A disappointment in love is thought to have been the cause; for about 33 years ago, upon her father's discouraging a young man's paying his addresses to her, she went to bed, and has never left it since. The struggle, it seems, between love and filial affection, ran so high, as materially to affect her active powers.
Mr. Walter Goodall, a native of this parish, assisted Mr. Thomas Ruddiman, in several of his productions; and, about the year 1750 published 2 vols. 8vo. In defence of Mary Queen of Scots.
There is but one inn in the parish. - Several hundreds of cattle, sheep, & c. are carried annually from hence to the southward. Land is commonly ploughed by oxen; oxen and horses, however, are joined to the same plough. - But to conclude this short imperfect account; at a distance from the abodes of luxury and vice, the wants of the people of this parish are but few; and nothing seems more calculated for bettering their external circumstances, and making their days glide on comfortably, than extending leases of greater length, and encourageing them to inclose, drain, and improve their farms. Such a measure would also be highly beneficial to the proprietor.
Meal generally fells at about 9d halfpenny per peck; - beef and mutton at 3d halfpenny; - a good hen at 8d. - and a fat lamb at 3s. - A labourer earns about 10d. a day; - a mason 16d. - a carpenter 14d. - and a taylor 6d. and his maintenance.
The Statistical Account for Scotland, 1791-1799. Volume XVI. Banffshire, Moray & Nairnshire.
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