Old Statistical Account (1790) Parish of Fodderty

Strathpeffer Community Collage

Sir John Sinclair, Baronet of Ulbster in CaithnessSir John Sinclair, Baronet of Ulbster in Caithness standing in front of map of Ross and Cromarty

The First Statistical Account (1790)

On the 25 May 179, Sir John Sinclair, Baronet of Ulbster in Caithness wrote to over nine hundred Parish ministers throughout Scotland asking them to contribute to a Statistical Inquiry by answering as best they could,a series of one hundred and sixty-six Queries respecting each Parish.


The First Statistical Account of Fodderty (1790)


PARISH OF FODDERTY (Counties of Cromarty and Ross, Presbytery of Dingwall, Synod of Ross)


Name and Situation - The name of this parish is of Gaelic etymology. In that language it consists of two words that are nearly descriptive of its situation: Foigh-ritudh, or a meadow along the side of a hill. The principal part of the parish lies in a valley, surrounded with hills, to the north, west, and south, with an extensive opening to the east. There the valley has a commanding view of the town and parish of Dingwall, which lies to the north-east of it. The name of this valley is Strathpeffer. About three fourths of the inhabitants of the parish reside in the valley. Besides it, there are several small glens, which extend to some distance along the openings of the hills. All these are, however, completely insulated from the bulk of the parish, being surrounded with the neighbouring ones, and lie much nearer the churches of Dingwall and Contin than to Fodderty. The extent of the valley is nearly two miles long, by half a mile broad.

Climate - The air throughout the parish is pure and healthy,and there are many instances of longevity in it. Several men and women arc now residing in the parish who call themselves near 90 years of age.

Distempers - There are no distempers peculiar to this parish, except such as are common to the neighbouring places. The small-pox often rages here, and frequently proves mortal, as inoculation has never been attempted except by a very few families, who recently introduced it with success. The prejudice of the people is, however, very strong against it.

Minerals - There are appearances of coal mines in the parish. A person was, some time ago, employed to work a part of the coal, when it was found to be of a remarkably inflammable quality, of a clear black colour, so that it appeared to approach nearer to a bituminous substance than to coal. There are several mineral springs here, all of which are of the same quality, and seem to be impregnated with sulphur. One of these has, for about 20 years back, been of some note. Great numbers of the lower class of people from the counties of Inverness, Sutherland, and the western districts of Ross-shire, have resorted hither, and use the water of this mineral for all kinds of disorders without exception. Most benefit has been derived from this mineral by those troubled with scorbutic complaints, and all kinds of external sores on the body. It has been used with success in the gravel and stomach complaints.

Hills - The most remarkable hills are, 1st, Beuivas, which is one of the highest hills in Scotland, and lies immediately to the north of this valley; 2dly, Knockfallaric. This hill is situated on the south side of the valley. Its form is conical, and the vulgar tradition is that Fingal had one of his castles upon the top of it. What probably gave rise to this opinion, was the ruins on the summit of it, which are yet to be seen. They surround a plain of nearly an acre in extent, and are composed of stones cemented by a vitrified substance. What the origin or the use of this building was, cannot easily be determined, but certain it is that the work must have been effected at a great expense of labour, and with prodigious force of fire.

Woods - There are great numbers of plots of ash, hazel, and alder wood, interspersed with the corn fields along this valley. When these, and the fields around them, are in verdure, it forms a beautiful scene. There are about 200 acres of firs lately planted upon the summit of the hill, to the south of the valley.

Value of Stock Value of the whole
There are 663 horses valued at 3L each L.1989
1500 Black cattle valued at 3L each 4500
1000 Best sheep valued at 5s. each 250
2000 inferior ditto valued at 3s. each 300
Total value of stock L.7039

It is to be observed here, that the number of black cattle has decreased within these to years, by the introduction of sheep farms, which has increased the number, and improved the breed of sheep in the parish.


In 1775, the numbers were rated at 1483
At present, the number of souls is 1730
Number of males 881
Number of females 849
Number of Male servants 483
Number of Female servants 358
Number of Male children under 7 years of age 122
Number of Female children under 7 years of age 120
Number of families 330

Rent and Farms - The valued rent of this parish is 3543L. 3s. 4d. Scotch money. The real rent is chiefly paid in bolls, so that its value is annually altering; converting these, however, at a moderate price, the rent is supposed to be nearly 1400 Sterling per annum. There are 8 proprietors in the parish, none of whom have ever resided in it. There arc 10 principal farmers here, who pay rent to the value of 40L. Sterling each per annum; 150 smaller tenants, who pay from 16L. Sterling per annum each, to 2L. Sterling per annum each; and 100 cotters who pay from 2L. Sterling per annum each, to 2s. Sterling each per annum.

Crops, and Method of Culture - The only crops raised here are barley, oats, pease, and potatoes. The old method of constantly cropping is generally followed by all the classes of farmers. Some attempts have of late been made by a few towards altering the system of farming, by the introduction of sown grass, sallow, and turnips; but these essays have always been checked by the want of encouragement shown to those who tried them, none of the proprietors here having ever allowed any of their tenants to derive any advantage from their improvements, or offered them any assistance to enable them to carry them on.

Manners and Employment of the People - There is for some seasons of the year, a very great want of industry among the inhabitants here. During the weeks of seed-time and harvest they exert themselves to a great degree, but during the remainder of the year, having no field for familiar exertions of industry, they indulge themselves to a great degree in indolence and inactivity. The want of employment here, forces those who are industriously inclined, to go and find labour in the southern districts of Scotland, so that great numbers of both sexes leave their homes in the months of May and June, and return again in November, with from 10s. to 42s. which is the fruit of their industry. Sloth seems to be the greatest enemy to the morality of the people here, as those who will not procure their own subsistence by labour, are forced to use dishonest means for procuring it. They are much addicted to use the spirits, and will go every length to procure it.

Church, School, and Poor - All the inhabitants of this parish, except two, are of the established Church, and these are of the Church of England. The living consists of 6 chalders and a half of barley - 25L. Sterling money - a glebe, and the minister has a right to the small tithes. The patron is Kenneth MacKenzie of Cromarty, Esq. The salary of the schoolmaster is 11L. 2s. Sterling. The school-house was built anno 1779, and is now in a good state of repair. There are now on the poors roll 50 persons, who receive a part of their subsistence from the funds allotted to them. There are, 1st, a mortification by George Earl of Cromarty to them of 12 bolls of barley per annum; 2d, the interest of a legacy of 80L. Sterling, left to them by Mrs Morrison, of the island of Jamaica; 3d, the weekly collection on Sunday at church, which at an average is nearly 8L. per annum.

Prices of Labour and Provisions - The wages of a labouring man seldom exceeds 6d. per day; of a woman, 5d. Servants are generally hired here by the year; then the terms are to a man servant 3L. per annum, and 6 bolls meal; to a woman from 1L. to 1L. 15s. per annum, and 5 bolls meal, when they do not receive their board. Beef and mutton sell at an average for 3d. per pound, Pork for 2 and a half d. per pound, Fowls at 4d. each.

Language - The language generally spoken here is Gaelic, there being but two in the parish who do not understand that language well.

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