Maryculter

The lands of Kingcausie were acquired from the Knights of St, John of Jerusalem in 1535 by Henry, third son of Alexander Irvine of Drum. He married Jean, the eldest daughter of the first Collison of Auchlunies.

Read more: The Estate of Kincausie

Godfrey Wedderburn  was a Knight Templar.  He, and his "lady friend", are said to haunt Corbie Linn and other beauty spots in the Maryculter area.  According to legend, Godfrey met his lady, a Saracen, on one of the Crusades. She had saved his life when he was badly wounded in battle. By helping the enemy, she was rejected by her people. What could Godfrey do- but bring her back to Scotland?  Of course, bringing her back to the ultimate  bachelor pad, the Preceptory at Maryculter,  caused a bit of a stir. Godfrey tried to explain the situation to the Preceptor, that he and she were purely platonic friends, but to no avail. Godfrey was condemned and his fate was to die by his own hand. Well, in days of old Knight had to do that sort of thing- it went with the job.

 

When the time came, with Godfrey still protesting his innocence , he plunged a dagger through his own heart.  HIs lady friend, before exacting the same fate on herself, called up a terrible curse to befall the Preceptor of the chapel.  As her words rang out, out over the rippling waters of the Dee, a convenient thunderbolt struck the Preceptor and he was gone in a puff of smoke!

 

Should you visit the now ruined chapel, look out for the "Thunder Hole" - a deep depression in the ground where the fatal strike took place so many years ago . But be sure to keep your wits about you, for every year on the anniversary of that night - the Knight, Godfrey  and his lady will appear and walk through the grounds...

“The Marriage of the Parishes”

 Yesterday afternoon witnessed the formal completion of another link between the North and South sides of the Dee, when MAryculter Bridge, near Milltimber, was opened for public traffic by Mrs Ogston of Ardoe. Beautifully situated districts on both banks of the river have thus been brought within easy reach of each other, and, while lovers of nature will find a new source of pleasure, the residents, who are mostly agriculturists, will  obtain a ready means of conveying their goods to market which they have long desired. Thus the commercial and picturesque are promoted in a happy degree; and the completion of the bridge, which unites those advantages, was looked forward to with as much interest in the city as in the immediate neighbourhood of the erection.  Yesterday’s ceremony therefore was largely attended, the invited company included the Town Council of Aberdeen, the County Councils of Aberdeen and Kincardine, the directors of the Great North of Scotland Railway Company, and a numerous gathering of ladies and gentlemen connected with town and country. Before describing the interesting ceremony, we give a few notes about the bridge and the accesses.

 

THE BRIDGE

Graceful in design and elegant in proportions, the bridge is of five spans – one central span of 94ft clear waterway, and two masonry side arches of 15ft span, giving in all a clear waterway of 232ft. there are tow piers in the river, built of masonry, and founded at a depth of 9ft below the bottom of the river on a bed of Porland cement concrete 3ft thick and 11ft wide, the masonry being built dry inside temporary cofferdams. The piers are provided with outwatres on both uup and down stream ends, and are surmounted by dress granite pilasters with rustic panels. The north and south side piers are founded similarly at a slightly less depth under the ground than the others, and the side arches and wing walls are built dry. The central girder is of half-parabolic or hog-backed type, 100 feet long, 9 feet deep at the centre, and 5 feet 5 inches at the end – with N. bracing and counter N. bracing in the central bays. The side girders are parallel N. braced, each 60feet long and 5 feet 6 inches deep, and counter braced similarly to the central girder. The roadway has a total width of 20 feet between the girders, a concrete footpath, 3 feet wide on the east side, leaving 17 feet of causewayed carriageway. The roadway is carried on cambered trough flooring, the troughs being filled with concrete, on the top of which the granite cubes are set and run in with asphalt. Expansion has been allowed for by placing the central girders on cast steel rocker bearings, and the side girders on cast iron sliding and bed plates. The bridge has been designed for a uniformly distributed live load of 112lbs. per square foot, and for the heaviest traction engine and steam roller traffic. The maximum working stress for the steel in tension is 6 ½ tons per square inch on the net area, and 5 tons per square inch in the gross area of compression members, the maximum working stresses being made to vary with th range of stress in the members in each case.

THE ACCESSES

The access on the north side extends from the main north road, the old approach to Milltimber Station being utilised for a distance of 130 yards. At that point, the new access commences, and turning to the right through a field on the farm of Milltimber  it proceeds by an easy curve, in a cutting about 16 feet at its deepest part to the bridge under the Deeside Railway, which has been widened to 20 feet between the abutments. Beyond this the farm road has been widened and formed for a distance of 220 yards, after which the road proceeds in a straight line across the fields on the late Sir R. W. Duff’s Culter estate to the new bridge. A culvert has been formed in a hollow portion of the filed to allow any water which might during floods find its way over or thorugh the flood bakns into the fileds to drains, and join the river further downstream. Crossing the bridge, the road on the Kincardine side runs parallel to the boundary wall, between the estates of Kincausie and Maryculter, for a distance of 200 yards, and joins the south Deeside Road at a point about 100 yards east of the Mill Inn. The land for this purpose, it may be mentioned, has been given free by the proprietor of Maryculter, Mr Cosmo Duff Gordon.

ENGINEER OF THE BRIDGE

The contracts were entered into on June 8, 1894 and a start was made with the work in the following month. During the winter the work was considerably retarded by the spates and floods in the river, but since then it has been pushed rapidly forward, and with a despatch which reflects credit on the engineer, Mr James Barron, C.E. and the contractors, Mr Edgar Gauld, Aberdeen , who constructed the bridge, and Mr David Porter, Aberdeen, who made the roads and accesses.

Mr Alex. Kidd, Aberdeen, has acted as inspector of works since the commencement, and the steel work has been inspected by Mr David Polson, Aberdeen.

THE BRIDGE COMMITTEE

The committee, who have steadily presented the work they took in hand to see the bridge erected, were: - Messrs A.M. Ogston of Ardoe, the late F.H. Forbes Irvine of Drum, A.J. Kinloch, of Altries; William Irvine Fortescue of Kincausie; W. Macintosh, Marybank; G.C. Leslie, Cults; W. Griffiths, Ardbeck; Alexander Skene, of Avondow; Archibald McKenzie, Dunmail; Dr Rainnie, Peterculter; Messrs Duncan Shepherd, Millbank; Charles Shaw, Maidenfold; John Bisset, Mill of Crynoch; T. King, Burnside; Cosmo Duff Gordon of Maryculter; John Moir, Milltimber; John A. Henderson, Cults. Mr Ogston was appointed chairman, and Mr Macintosh secretary and treasurer.

THE CEREMONY

The opening ceremony commenced about four o’clock, by which hour the comanpy had assembled at the south side end of the bridge. Here was erected a triumphal arch of elegant design and of quite a substantial character. In style it was Gothic, and the height from the ground to the apex was 16 feet, the width being the same. The arch was surmounted by an ornamental pediment, and flanked by two castellated turrets rising to a height of about 30 feet, and each terminated by a flag. On the top of the arch were a shield and a trophy of flags. The whole erection was elaborately decorated with evergreens, the work of the gardeners at Ardoe, Marybank, Kincausie, and Maryculter. The artistic appearance of the structure was heightened by panels of crimson cloth placed on the flanking turrets and over the arch. The whole design was most pleasing and effective, and reflected great credit on all who had a hand in its conception and execution. The bridge was also gaily bedecked with flags, while streamers stretched alond the accesses for a considerable distance. The weather was beautiful, and the picturesque surroundings lent brilliancy  to the scene. Near the south end of the bridge an open space was reserved, and here a scarlet ribbon stretched from one side of the structure to the other. On her arrival, Mrs Ogston was met by Mr Macintosh of Marybak, and was conducted by him to the open space on the bridge where the members of the Bridge Committee were assembled. Mrs Ogston was here presented by Master Williamson, son of Dr Williamson, with a handsome bouquet. This graceful little not finished, Mr Macintosh introduced Mrs Ogston to the memebrs of the committee, after which she undid the clasp that joined the ribbon, and, amid cheers, said- I have much pleasure in declaring the bridge open.

Mr Barron C.E., then stepped forward, and presented Mrs Ogston wth the silver buckle which tied the ends of the ribbon. The buckle, which was a plain but handsome souvenir, bore the following inscription:-

“Presented to Mrs A. M. Ogston of Ardoe by James Barron, C.E., on the occasion of her opening the Maryculter Bridge, 13th September, 1895.”. At this point the company was photographed by Mr Wilson. It should be mentioned that the flags and marquee were supplied by Messrs Shirras, Schoolhill.

“AT HOME”

The subsequent proceedings took the form of an “At Home”, in a fine marquee erected on the north side, where refreshments were served under the superintendence of Mr Mollison of the Bon-Accord Hotel, who was the caterer. Mr Ogston of Ardoe presided.

Mr Macintosh intimated apologies from the following friends and wellwishers:- The Right Hon., the Marquis of Huntly, Sir John clark, Bart. Of Tillypronie, Sir Wm. Henderson of Devanah, Sir William Cunliffe Brooks of Glen Tanar, Mr A.M. Gordon of Newton, convener of Aberdeenshire; Mr Wm. Ferguson of Kinmundy, chairman of Great North Railway; Mr Duff of Hatton, Rev. canon Chisholm of Blairs, Mr Lumsden of Balmedie, Baillie Mearns, Baillie Murray, Mr Esslemont, Aberdeen; Mr Andrew Ruxton, Ellon; Mr D McHardy of Cranford; Mr Wm. Falconer of Cairntoul, Mr Mitchell, Gallaton; Mr James Mowatt, Stonehaven; ex-provost Williamson, Banff; Mr J. A. Henderson, Cults; Mr C.B. Davidson, advocate, Aberdeen; Mr James Black of Sheriffston, mr A.W. Kinnear, Stonehaven; Mr Alex. Webster, Edgehill; Mr Wm. Tait, Inverurie; Mr John Charles, Inverurie; Mr Porteous of Lauriston, Mr Wm. Sangster, Aberdeen; Mr Wm. Boyd, Peterhead; Mr James Grant, Glen Grant; Mr Wm. Murison, county clerk; Mr George Leslie, Aberdeen; Mr John Cook, banker; Mr D.M.A. Chalmers, advocate; Mr T. Youngson, advocate; Mr and Mrs Gavin Hadden of Dalmuinzie; Mr George Philips, Aberdeen; Mr James Collie, advocate; Dr Profeit, Balmoral; Mr Thomas Wilsone, solicitor; Mr Gordon, Ballater and Essex ( a generous donor to the fund); Mr James Fraser, George Street, Aberdeen; Mr William Moffatt, general manager, G.N.S.R; Mr Robert Gerard, Aberdeen; and Mr Menzies, of Messrs James Walker & Company. Mr Macintosh said that it would interest the company if time permitted of his reading the many kind words which those who had sent apologies had written: three of the letter-writers, however, sent something more substantial than words- something that would rejoice the heart of their treasurer. (Applause.) Canon Chisholm, Blairs, sent a nice letter, and concluded by asking their acceptance of a cheque for five guineas. (Applause.) Mr James Collie, advocate, sent a cheque for £5 as an extra subscription. (Applause.) Mr Begg of Inchgarth also sent an encouraging letter, enclosing £5 10s. (applause.) This , added Mr Macintosh, was very gratifying, and would greatly encourage them in their further endeavours, to clear the bridge of debt. (Applause.)

The Chairman then gave the toast of the “Queen” which was enthusiastically pledged.

He next proposed the “health of the Prince and Princess of Wales and other Members of the Royal Family.” In doing so, he said he thought the Prince of Wales had done his best for the good of the nation. He thought they had only to look at his recent visit to Russia, and consider what he had accomplished for peace and good feeling there, to convice them of his good tact and good sense. (Applause.)

Mr Macintosh then proposed the health of Mrs Ogston of Ardoe. If they had not known, he said, that Mrs Ogston was a grandmamma, they would have been apt to fancy that she was the brode of that day. For they had been at a marriage ceremony- Peterculter had married Maryculter. (Laughter.) He asked then to drink long life, health and happiness to Mrs Ogston, who had so gracefully performed the opening ceremony. (Applause.)

Mr Ogston, in returning thanks on behalf of his wife, said he was sure that Mrs ogston was very sensible of the honour done her by the committee in asking her to take so rominenta part in the proceedings. Mrs Ogston, like all those in the neighbourhood, had takena deep interest in the bridge, but after playing so important a part in connection with it, she would have a particular affection for it during the rest of her days. (Applause.) He thought they had cause for rejoicing that the bridge had become an actual fact. They had had many difficulties to contend woth – first with the financial matters, and then with the floods and storms after the work was commenced.  The fgreatest flood took place during the erection of the bridge which had occurred for many years; and then last winter they had to endure the most severe weather that had been experienced within the memory of the oldest inhabitants. Now, however, the bridge, which was substantially built, would stand against all the elements that could come against it. The structure had been a long felt want in the neighbourhood. The question had been long discussed. Schemes had been suggested and plans had been prepared, but they all vanished into thin air until a leading spirit arose in the shape of Mr Macintosh of Marybank, who entered into the matter with great energy, and resolved that there should be a bridge, or that he would die in the attempt. (Laughter and applause.) Well, Mr Macintosh was not dead yet, although he was nearly killed over the matter. (Laughter.) There was very much urgency for the bridge in that neighbourhood. As they were aware, there was previously no bridge between the Old Bridge of Dee and the Bridge of Potarch, a distance of nearly twenty miles. When they considered that they  lived in a highly populous and highly cultivated country and were within seven miles of Aberdeen, they would agree with him that it was high time the bridge was built. (Applause.) The old boat and ferry served its day and generation, but the requirements of the district had outgrown the ferry traffic, and now it would be found that the bridge would be a necessity of the time, and would develop the trade between the districts on each side of the river. To the people of Aberdeen it would provide an attraction, seeing that it connected two favourite roads, one on the north and the other on the south side of the Dee. To the railway company, if it di not tap a mine of gold, it would at least tapa silver mine- (Laughter.) – and the county councils of the adjoining counties, he thought, were getting a very handsome gift in having the bridge handed over to them on the olny condition that they should keep it in repair, and £1 a year he thought would do that. Mr Macintosh  had all the credit of the movement; he had taken all the labour of it on his own shoulders. There had been a proposal that they should name the bridge after him. (Applausem and “No,no” fromm Mr Macintosh). Their friend, however, was a modest man, and did not wish the structure to be named after him. However, by whatever name it might be called, it would always remain, he supposed, the Maryculter Bridge. (Applause.)

Mr A.I. Fortescue of Kincausie, then proposed the sentiment of “The Bridge and its Promoters.” He had no doubt the bridge would be of great service to Peterculter and Maryculter, and he hoped it would be the means of bringing in a good deal more money to the Deesidde railway, as the directors of that company had contributed handsomely to the funds. (Applause.) As to the people of Aberden many of them had also subscribed, and he was sure when they took a drive along one side of the river and down the other they would come to the conclusion that the district traversed was one of the prettiest within easy distance of the Granite City. (Applause.)  He was glad to see that their secretary had recovdered from his illness, and was able to be with them that day. If it had not been for Mr Macintosh’s perseverance in asking for subscriptions, he did not think the large sum they had would have been got. (Hear, hear and applause.) He hoped they would join with him in drinking health and prosperity to the Maryculter bridge, and to the promoters, who had spared neither time nor trouble in having it erected. Might it long withstand the storms and floods of the Dee. (Applause.) He begged to couple the toast with the name of Mr Macintosh.

The toast having been pledged with great enthusiasm,

Mr Willkiam Macintosh said- Mr Chairman, Mr Fortescue, ladies and gentlemen, - I understand that a husband usually responds to the toast of his wife’s health, so I have been asked to reply to this one – (laughter and applause)- which Mr Fortescue has so kindly proposed. I fancy the committee must look on the bridge as a sort of halfmeet or better half of mine, and it being the silent partner, have asked me to do the speaking. I think they looked upon this as a sort of marriage ceremony, and so I was asked to respond to the health of the bride. (Laughter and applause.) Peterculter and Maryculter- Peter and Mary – have this day been united- united, if not in the holy bonds of matrimony, at least in those of mild steel- (laughter)- and, I trust, in the bonds of good fellowship and helpfulness. And, if the wooiong has been somewhat unusual, seeing it was Mary who made up to Peter – not he to Mary – I hop, as the reign of the 2new woman” is said to be approaching, this slight peculiarity may not mar either their happiness or usefulness.(Applause.) The need of a bridge to connect the two counties has been long felt and long talked over. We have heard of various schemes for meeting the difficulty – the large sums offered by individuals towards the cost; but still it was all talk, and the bridge was not. Sad stories have reached us of serious accidents, while a rushing river prevented a doctor being got for many hours; of sudden domestic events coming on, when a doctor was needed and no doctor could be got; of trials, many and varied, caused by Peter and Mary perversely remaining single. Well, some people are fond of match making. Here was a worthy couple formed by nature for mutual happiness. Why not try and open their eyes to each other’s charms and bring them together? No matter how or by whom, a public meeting wascalled and met; speeches were delivered and resolutions passed; a  committee was appointed, and the action of that committee reminds us of a Methodist local preacher who resolved that he would preach a sermon, and took for his text – “These men who have turned the world upside down are come hither also.” We wil take the sermon for granted, but his divisions were – First, the world is wrong side out; second, it must be put right; third, and we’re the boys to do it. (Laughter.) Your committee decided- First, a bridge is desirable and necessary; second, it must be got; third, and we’re the boys to do it. (Laughter and applause.)  They felt the importance of the remit made to them, and they also felt that “success is secure unless energy fails.” The battle of the sites had to be fought. The committee felt that the bridge ought to be where it would be the greatest good to the greatest number. They took the best advice they could get, and among others consulted the lat Colonel Ramsay, who had large experience of roads, both iron and macadam. His opinion was that it should be somewhere near Milltimber, to tap the cross roads of both counties. The site being fixed, subscriptions were invited, and our chairman of today headed the list, how handsomely we all know. (applause.) An engineer was selected. Plans were considered, and those of the handsome structure which has this day been so happily opened were decided on. Appeal after appeal was made for money, handsomely responded to by the city of Aberdeen, by the County Council of Aberdeen, also by that of Kincardine, and last, but not least, by the Great North of Scotland Railway. By weary and patient pegging, subscriptions flowed in – generous and handsome- till your committee felt justified in accepting contracts for the work. I am not going to detail the disappointments and the worry that have been involved, but rather wish to look at the sunny side, and refer to the handsome wedding presents of the public bodies and of the private donors, and ask – Are not Peter and Mary lucky? (Applause.)  As to the structure itself, I hope you like it. I hope and expect it will be a blessing to posterity long after its promoters are forgotten. I almost feel that we might adopt the words of our national poet, and say about the bridge and its engineer:-

He’ll be a credit to us a’

We’ll a’ be proud o’ Robin.

A word as to the cost and  financial position. The cost will be not less than £5600. If all promises are fulfilled we will have raised a little over £5000, leaving £600 still to be provided. I hate debts, and a treasurer in debt is in a ppitiful position. But I am not going to beg or make any appeal today. lWe have invited you here as the guests of the Bridge Committee, because we are grateful to you, and I n=most heartily thank all and everyone who has helped us in this undertaking, and wish the vride of today long life and usefulness . (Applause.) Some people think this bridge may prevent another being erected when it is needed at Cults. Peter and Mary are happily married this day. It is unnatural to expect that, if the chief magistrate of Cults would rise to the occasion, the baby might land at Cults! (Laughter and applause.) Before closing, as treasurer to this undertaking, I would fair say to the friends of the scheme now assembled, in the words of Joseph in praise to the chief butler of Pharoah- “But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and show kindness, and bring me out of this place”! (Laughter and applause.)

Mr Macintosh afterwards gave “The Health of the Subscribers,” who had helped them so much with the enterprise. He trusted that ever one of them might be healthier and wealthier, for he was sure they would be happier. (Applause.)

 

Baillie Gray,in proposing “The Health of Aberdeen and Kincardine County Councils”, said they all knew how carefully and efficiently these bodies looked after the interests of the community, not withstanding the various and difficult duties they had to perform. (Applause.) He xoupled the toast with the names of the conveners of the respective  counties. (Applause.)

This estate which comprises about eleven hundred acres, and lies contiguous to Kingcausie, extends from the river Dee southward the whole breadth of the parish. There also belongs to the estate the Inch of Blairs, lying between Murtle and the north bank of the river Dee, which was formed many years ago through the Dee leaving its natural course and cutting through several fields. A consider- able portion of the soil near the river is good and in a high state of cultivation, but towards the south it gets thin and coarse till it terminates in land altogether unsuitable for cultivation. Like most of the other properties in Maryculter, Blairs belonged originally to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, who, for the benefit of their tenants in the east end of their extensive property, had established a parsonage at Blairs where a priest resided. By charter dated 15th December, 1535, Gilbert Menzies (better known by the sobriquet of Banison Gibby then laird of Findon, acquired an absolute right from Sir Walter Lyndesay, Lord St. John, Preceptor of Torphichen, with the special license  and consent of the Master of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, the estate of " Blairs, Estland, Tuliskeith, and Ester Tilboury, together with the Mill of Maryculter." This grant was subsequently confirmed by a charter under the Great Seal dated 2nd June, 1542. Menzies married Marjory Chalmers, daughter of Provost Alexander Chalmers of Murtle, and by her had the following family :—

Thomas, his heir, Alexander, Andrew, David, John Gilbert, and a daughter, who was married to John Dempster of Auchterless. He was provost of Aberdeen for twenty-four years, and, along with Baillie Collison, represented the burgh in the first Parliament of James V., receiving 6/8 per day of expenses, and eight horsemen to attend in their train, that they might appear at court with a splendour becoming the representatives of the opulent city.^ Menzies held several mortgages over the estate of Pitfodels, and it seems to have been his ambition to get the whole property into his family. An opportunity occurred during his lifetime, and he does not appear to have been slow to avail himself of it. Provost Alexander Reid of Pitfodels left an only child—Marion —who thus became his heiress. A prior compact had been entered into between Menzies and Reid that the daughter of the latter should wed Thomas, the son and heir of the former, so that thereby all the properties might become united. After Reid's death, his widow, Margaret Crawford, did her best to thwart Menzies in the implementing of the alleged agree- ment, and considerable litigation took place in the local courts over the custody of Marion Reid, who was at the time a minor. Menzies, 'however, appears to have got his way in the dispute, for he produced the King's letters in his favour, granting him the ward and marriage to his son Thomas of the young heiress, in terms of the prior compact with Reid. The marriage, which had been contracted under such singular circumstances, took place on 12th January, 15 20-1, and proved an eminently happy one. Thomas Menzies had an active and eventful career. At Michaelmas, 1525, he was elected provost of Aberdeen, and during the following fifty years he held the chair for the long period of forty years,only demitting office temporarily to allow some member of his family to enjoy it for a short period. He was on several occasions chosen to represent the burgh in Parliament ; in 1 538, he acted as Marischal Depute of Scotland ; and, in 1543, he was Comptroller of the royal household, an ofl[ice which he seems to have held for several years. He died at an advanced age in 1576. In the end of the sixteenth century the lands of Blairs belonged to Mr, Andrew Harvey, who would appear to have experienced much difficulty in de- fending his legal rights. On 21st April, 1587, it was complained to the Privy Council, " That the said Mr. Andro hes all and haill the salmond fisch- eing of that part of the Watter of Dee under the hauch of the Blairis pertaining to him, and, con- forme to his rychtis and titHs thairof, hes bene in possessioun of the same, be himselfif, his servandis, and fischearis in his name ther divers yeiris  igane ; quhill of lait, upoun the tent day of Julii last, that Johnne Irwing in Kingcoussy, Richard, Andro, Alexander, and Johnne Irwingis, his sons, Thomas, and Walter Irwingis his brethir, Alexander Irwing, sone to the said Walter, with uthiris,thair compliceis, came to that parte of the Watter foirsaid quhair the said complenaris coble wes lokkit at his lok stok, and maisterfuUie, and wranguslie brak the same coble and airis thairof, and be way of deid hes stoppit and debarrit the said complenare fra using of the said fisheing sensyne, tending be this forme of maisterfull oppressioun and bangstree to appropriate the said complenaris fisheing to thameselffis maist wranguslie. Like as the personis foirsaidis continualie molestis and troublis the said complenare, his saidis sones [James, Thomas, and William respectively], tennentis and servendis, in possessioun of thair landis and levingis, pyndis thair bestiall and guidis by all ordour of law, and haldis thame in houssis without meit, quhairthrow twenty of thame hes deceissit throw hunger. As alsua they continualie ly at waitt for the saidis complenaris, umbesettis thair hie wayes in thair ganging and cuming fra thair parroche kirk of Mary Culter ; quhairthrow they may not sauflie repair to the said kirk without thay be sufficientlie accumpanyed with their friendis, for fear of thair lyveis. Like as thai have avowit and affermed that, quhenevir the said James sail repair to thair pairtis, thay sal have his lyff, takand the gritare bauldness heirunto be ressoun of the resett, mantenance and allowance thay have of Alexander Irvving of Drum, being ane man weill clannit and allyed in the cuntrey."  

The defenders, having failed to answer the charge, were declared rebels, but upon their subsequently finding caution for good conduct, the sentence was recalled. Harvey's troubles were not over, however, for in September, 1589, a bond had to be taken that Mr. Menzies of Durn should not molest or injure him, nor his eldest son James, under the penalty of 2000 merks. Again on 30th January, 1590-91, caution was granted for ;^ic)00 on behalf of John Collison of Auchlunies, and for ICXDO merks each on behalf of John Gaw in Auchlunies, and William Cruick- shank in Newhall of Auchlunies, that they should not harm " Mr. Andrew Harvey his tenants or servants."

The estate again passed into the Menzies family, and in the end of last century Captain David Menzies, the proprietor, did much in the way of laying out and improving the property.^ Captain Menzies was succeeded by his nephew, John Menzies, who died in Edinburgh, a widower, on nth October, 1843, aged 87 years. Jervise says " he was a member of the Abbotsford Club and at his expense the volume entitled ' Extracta E Variis Cronicis Scocie' was printed for the members. He was one of the most accomplished gentlemen of his time, and his purse was open to the poor of all denominations."^ He was the last of his race, and by deed, dated in 1827, he conveyed the mansion house and lands to the Roman Catholic Bishops of Scotland for the establishment of a college for young men designed for the Roman Catholic priesthood. During the next two years extensive structural alterations on, and additions to, the mansion house were made in order to adapt it for a college. These being completed, it was formally opened under the title of St. Mary's College on the 2nd of June, 1829. The college, which had previously been established at Aquhorties, near Inverurie, was then closed, and its endow- ment incorporated with that of Blairs. Blairs has a special interest to the artist and to the literary antiquary—containing as it does several most valuable paintings and rare volumes, which fortunately were saved from the fury of the populace during the fierce struggles of the French Revolution. Among the historical MSS. there are two specially worthy of notice. One is the prayer book of Anne of Bretagne, wife, first of Louis XI., and then of Charles VIII. of France ; the other is the service book of the family of Beaton of Balfour—both being remarkable for beauty of execution and variety of illustrations. One of the rolls, written in vellum in the 14th century, contains a poem on the Instruments of the Passion of our Blessed Lord, or, as they are sometimes called, the Anns of Christ. The concluding lines are thus given :—

These armes of Christ, bothe God and man,Seint Peter the pope descrivyed hem ( = them); What man these arniis overseeth ( = despiseth). For here {i.e., their) sinnes sori and schrive beth. (i.e., there zvill be sorrow and penitence).^ Among the printed books are the catechism of John Hamilton, Archbishop of St. Andrews, dated in 1552, and a perfect copy of the works of Niniane Winzet printed in 1562.- The more remarkable of the paintings are those of Mary Queen of Scots, and of Cardinal Beaton, both of which were exhibited in the Stuart collection at the recent International Exhibition held in Glasgow. Of the former there are two portraits, one, a full length, measuring seven feet five inches in height, by four feet nine inches in breadth, the other, a three-quarter size, measuring five feet three inches high, by four feet three inches broad. There is a copy ofthe first in the possession of Queen Victoria, but it is understood to be inferior to that at Blairs. In the background of this picture the execution of the Queen at Fotheringay is repre sented, along with portraits of Jane Kennedy and Elizabeth Curie, the two maids of honour who were present on the sad occasion. The royal arms of Scotland are painted on the right-hand corner of the picture, and there are three inscriptions in Latin, the translations of which are as follow :—

(I.) MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTLAND, DOWAGER QUEEN OF FRANCE, TRULY LEGITIMATE SOVEREIGN OF THE KINGDOMS OF ENGLAND AND IRELAND, MOTHER OF JAMES, KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, OP- PRESSED BY HER OWN SUBJECTS, IN THE YEAR 1568, WITH THE HOPE AND EXPECTATION OF AID PROMISED BY HER COUSIN, ELIZABETH, REIGNING IN ENGLAND WENT THITHER, AND THERE, CON- TRARY TO THE LAW OF NATIONS, AND THE FAITH OF A PROMISE, BEING RETAINED CAPTIVE AFTER 19 YEARS OF IMPRISONMENT ON ACCOUNT OF RELIGION, BY THE PERFIDY OF THE SAME ELIZA- BETH AND THE CRUELTY OF THE ENGLISH PAR- LIAMENT, THE HORRIBLE SENTENCE OF DECAPI- TATION BEING PASSED UPON HER IS DELIVERED UP TO DEATH, AND ON THE I2TH OF THE KALENDS. OF MARCH—SUCH AN EXAMPLE BEING UNHEARD OF—SHE IS BEHEADED BY A VILE AND ABJECT EXECUTIONER IN THE 45TH YEAR OF HER AGE AND REIGN.

(2.) IN PRESENCE OF THE COMMISSIONERS AND MINISTERS OF Q. ELIZABETH, THE EXECUTIONER STRIKES WITH HIS AXE THE MOST SERENE QUEEN, THE DAUGHTER, WIFE, AND MOTHER OF KINGS, AND AFTER A FIRST AND SECOND BLOW BY WHICH SHE WAS BARBAROUSLY WOUNDED, AT THE THIRD CUTS OFF HER HEAD.

 

(3.) WHILE SHE LIVED THE CHIEF PARENT ANDFOUNDRESS OF THE SCOTCH* COLLEGE, THUS THE ONCE MOST FLOURISHING QUEEN OF FRANCE AND SCOTLAND ASCENDS THE FATAL SCAFFOLD, WITH UNCONQUERED BUT PIOUS MIND, UPBRAIDS TYRANNY AND PERFIDY, PROFESSES THE CATHOLIC FAITH, AND PUBLICLY AND PLAINLY PROFESSES THAT SHE ALWAYS WAS AND IS A DAUGHTER OF THE ROMAN CHURCH, The Queen is represented with a book in her left hand and a crucifix in her right. Of this and the other paintings, above referred to, the following account by the late Right Reverend Bishop Kyle, Vicar Apostolic of the Northern District of Scotland, will be read with interest. The learned prelate writes:—" The large picture of Queen Mary belonged once to Mrs. Elizabeth Curie, wife and widow of Gilbert Curie, one of the Queen's Secretaries during the last years of her life, and at her death. Mrs. Curie herself was one of the attendants at her execution. When, and by whom it was painted, I have never learned. The attire and attitude of the principal figure being the same in which, it is said, Mary appeared on the scaffold, seem to testify decisively that the picture is not what can be called an original—that is traced from the living subject under the painter's eye. The adjuncts were evidently added by an- other and an inferior artist, but when, I have no means of knowing. Mrs. Curie survived her mistress long, at least thirty years. She had two sons who both became Jesuits. Of one, John, little is known. He died in Spain. The other Hippolytus, was long Superior, and a great benefactor of the Scotch College of Douai. To that college he be- queathed the property, not inconsiderable, which he derived from his mother, and among the rest the very picture now at Blairs. The picture remained in that college till the French Revolution. At the wreck of the college it was taken from its frame, and being rolled up, was concealed* in a chimney, the fireplace of which was built up, and was so preserved. After the peace of 181 5, it was taken from its place of concealment, and conveyed first to Paris, but ultimately to Scotland, through the late Bishop Paterson and the Reverend John Farquharson, who being, the latter Principal, the former Prefect of Studies, in the Douai College at the time of the Revolution, identified it as the picture that had been kept there, according to the tradition mentioned above. Of the smaller picture of Queen Mary I have heard no history ; but from its inscription and appearance I am inclined to think that it must have been drawn when Mary was a young girl in France before the first of her marriages, so that, harsh and unartistic as is its execution, I look upon it as a real original, and perhaps the only one in existence. We have no account of the artist by whom, or the time when, the picture of Cardinal Beaton was done. It was preserved from time immemorial in the Scotch College at Rome, down to the invasion of that city by the French in 1798. It was then sold for a trifle, purchased off a stand in the street by a Scotch artist of the name of Morrison, and restored by him to Abbe McPherson, late rector of that college, who had known it as part of the college property, and by him brought to Blairs. Of the excellence of its execution as a work of art there can be no doubt."* There is another painting, that of the Chevalier St. George—James III. as he was called. "This portrait was originally the property of John, Earl of Middleton, and presented by him, along with some other memorials, to the Scotch College, Paris," from which it passed to Blairs. The painting measures sixty-eight by fifty inches, and represents the prince in armour and pointing with a scroll in his hand to a map of his ancestral dominions. By his side is a page, who is supposed to be a scion of the house of Middleton. This was a Kincardineshire family ennobled in 1660. The second earl was out- lawed by the high court of justiciary in 1694, and his estates were forfeited by act of parliament, 2nd July, 1695, on account of his adherence to the cause of the exiled James II. There are also portraits of Prince Charles Edward and the Cardinal Duke of York (the latter a very good painting), as also of several Scotch Catholic  bishops. With regard to the college itself, there are at present upwards of seventy students, with a presi- dent and staff of professors, all in residence. Candidates for the priesthood are sent here to begin their course, and after passing through the arts classes (in which particular attention is paid to the classics) they proceed for the study of Philosophy and Divinity to the Scots Colleges in Rome and Valladolid, to Paris, or to the Diocesan Seminary at Glasgow. An enlarged college is urgently required, as Blairs is now altogether in- adequate to the needs of the Catholic Church in Scotland, owing to its expansion during the last quarter of a century.

Maryculter - By Rev. John Glennie 1791

 

The original orthography of this parish seems to have been Maria cultura. It is of an oblong form; 6 English miles in length and 2 in breadth; extending from the river Dee to the Grampian mountains. The soil on the river side is naturally thin and sandy; on the rising midland it becomes deeper and blacker, with a bottom of clay in some parts; and more southward, the ground turns swampy, turfy, and mossy. The extremities of the parish are in some places rocky hills and mosses; in others, green hills with large stones, rushy muirs and heath. Indeed the whole district is rocky and stony, except for some small haughs and dales on the river side; and thoroughly to improve, incloce, and render tolerably fertile, a piece of waste ground here, may be almost termed a new creation. The old farms extended across the whole breadth of the parish, from the Dee to the Grampians, y which means every tenant had a portion of all the different soils.

The Dee, which washes the north side of the parish for above 6 miles, is famous for its salmon, which are caught by flat-bottomed skiffs and nets. There are 5 salmon-fishings in the parish. This stream frequently overflows its banks, particularly in May and June, after a snowy winter, which often damages the sown land: but the most hurtful floods usually happen in September, when they carry off great quantities of cut grain, and level the standing corn among the sand. A remarkable flood occurred on the 17th September 1768, by which many suffered considerably. There is a ferry for horses, carriages, &c. opposite to the manse.

Including the farms in the possession of the heritors, and the fishings, the rent of the whole parish will amount to £1000 sterling. There are 28 ploughgates of land in this district; 20 of which belong to one heritor, and other two gentlemen have 4 each. Black cattle have been fed here, that sold from £20 to £25 each. The produce of the parish more than supplies the inhabitants with provisions. The old rents were made up of money, meal, bear, sheep, hogs, lambs, poultry, butter, eggs, and manual services; but, of late years, those called ipsa corpora are all converted into money.

Red and white clover and rye-grass are sold by many of the farmers, as also turnips. Some of the best arable land is let at 20s. and some of the worst pasture at 5d. per acre. In the minister’s glebe is a quarry of granite. A large portion of the parish is covered with wood. In Kincausie-wood are some deer of the roe kind, of a small size, increasing in number every year. The parish in general is unenclosed, but have neither money, nor length of leases, sufficient for that purpose.

Spinning and knitting stockings is the general employment of all females from 7 years old and upwards. The combed wool for that purpose is given out by hosiers from Aberdeen, in different parts of the parish, on certain days, called Factory Days, on which also the wrought stockings are received. Each pair costs, for spinning and knitting, from 1s. to 3s. 6d. the cheapest are accounted the most profitable, both to the worker and the merchant. The common fuel is peat and furze, but the peat-mosses are now quite exhausted. Peats are bought in Fetteresso parish, at the rate of 1s. a small cart load: coals can be got cheaper in Aberdeen.

The prices of provisions are the same as at the Aberdeen market. The day’s wages of a common labourer are from 8d. to 10d.; of house carpenters, 10s. to 1s.; and of taylors, 6d. and victuals. Male servants receive from £5 to £6; female ditto, £2, and upwards, per. Ann. Male shearers, from 20s. to 30s. female ditto, from 15s. to 20s. for the harvest season.

The state of the parish, as to population, is as follows:

Number of souls in 1755 - 746

Number of souls in 1790- 630

Males- 280

Females- 350

Taylors  - 4

Weavers -10

Wrights -3

Norfolk plough-wrights - 1

Sailors- 4

Shoemakers-4

Gardeners- 4

Discharged soldiers- 3

Chelsea pensioners- 2

Roman Catholics- 25

Episcopalians- 8

Seceders- 2

Annual average of births -16

Annual average of deaths- 11

Annual average of marriages - 5

Married men - 120

Batchelors and widowers -14

Inhabited houses- 145

Ploughs                - 36

Carts - 40 to 50

Waggon- 1

Coach - 1

Heritors- 3

Minister’s family (not included above) - 34

This parish was more populous 70 or 80 years ago than it is at present. The decline of population is owing to the failure of peat and turf for fuel, and the removal of several persons from hence to Aberdeen, with the view of getting constant employment.

The value of the living will be from £70 to £75 sterling, including a glebe, 10 acres of which have been rendered arable by the present incumbent, at a great expense. The minister, for some years past, has kept an academy, taught by two of his sons; at which are usually from 20 to 26 young gentlemen, some from the West Indies and America, and others from England. The poor receiving alms constantly, are from 30 to 35, and several are occasionally relieved; the sum of collections, annual-rents, and penalties, for their use, is from £30 to £38 per annum, of which about £4 is collected for, and given to the infirmary of Aberdeen. In 1782 and 1783, many lived very sparingly and hardly in this parish: the kirk-session bought meal and pease repeatedly at Aberdeen, when they could be got, and distributed or sold them out at reduced rates; but the people have not yet recovered the extraordinary stress and expense of these years. The heritors are always doing good, and contributing to the relief of the distressed.

The people are generally sober and industrious; and must be economical, as they cannot afford luxuries. Some are 6feet 2 inches in height; and a man who died lately, was 6 feet 7 inches high. A widow woman died last year aged 102, and a man lately at the advanced age of 104. Potter’s-earth is found in the parish. The road along the south side of the Dee is in general good. The statute labour is both exacted in kind, and commuted for money. No turnpikes are needed or wished for in the parish.

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