The 2nd Statistical Account
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PARISH OF FORTROSE AND ROSSMARKIE
(PRESBYTERY OF CHANONRY, SYNOD OF ROSS)
Sir John Sinclair, Baronet of Ulbster in Caithness standing in front of map of Ross and Cromarty
By the REV. ALEXANDER WOOD, MINISTER.
V. – PAROCHIAL ECOMOMY
At Fortrose, which is also the post-town, there are three fairs annually held, in the months of April, June, and November.
Means of Communication –
The public roads to the west, leading to Inverness and Dingwall, being Parliamentary, are kept in excellent repair; those towards Cromarty and Invergordon are old district roads, badly planned at first, and generally in such a state as to render travelling in these directions extremely difficult and uncomfortable. No mail or stage-coach passes through the parish. The steam-vessels plying in the Frith, and, passing weekly, take in and deliver at Chanonry Point goods of every description. These vessels are well fitted up for passengers, and they trade with Aberdeen, Leith and London. By them the salmon taken here, and brought and collected from various stations around, are, when packed in ice, shipped for the London market, as also in the season, considerable quantities of pork and live pigs.
Ecclesiastical State –
We have already stated the traditional account of the origin of the parish church in the ancient town of Rosemarkie, as having been founded by St Boniface. On the same site where the church had stood for centuries was erected eighteen years ago a handsome modern edifice. It is large and commodious, having been built for at least 800 sitters, affording ample church accommodation for the parishioners, in which respect not many parishes are so well provided. With few exceptions, the bulk of the more remote parishioners in the country part may be said to be within three miles of the church. The present manse was built in 1833, in the same situation as the former, near to the line of road leading from Rosemarkie to Fortrose, and at a convenient distance from the church. It commands a fine extensive prospect of the Moray Frith, and the adjacent country. The office-houses were also rebuilt some years previous, and both these and the manse are finished in a substantial manner, and afford every necessary comfort and convenience. The glebe consists of about four Scots acres. The stipend is 16 chalders, half meal and half barley, payable according to the highest fiars in the county, with L.8. 6s. 8d for communion elements. The last augmentation was granted in 1816. Besides the parish church, the only other place of public worship is an Episcopal chapel, some time since erected in Fortrose, standing a mile distant from
Rosemarkie. It is a modern, convenient, and handsome structure of Gothic architecture, and can accommodate, as presently fitted up, about 300 sitters. The congregation now assembling there is very limited, there being but few families or individuals of the episcopal persuasion in the place or neighbourhood. The number of families connected with the Established Church is 387; of Dissenting or Seceding families, 21, in several of which, however, only the heads of the families are Dissenters, while the remaining members attend the Established Church. It may be proper here to notice that it is in contemplation to erect, so soon as sufficient funds can be procured by public subscription, a church, quoad sacra, in Fortrose. With the concurrence of the presbytery of the bounds, a constitution for the same has been prepared, and submitted to the Church Court and has received the sanction of the General Assembly. The salary or stipend for the support of the minister is intended to be paid out of the annual produce of a fund mortified by a Mr Thomas Forbes, once a bailie in Fortrose, and under the administration of the ministers of the parishes of Rosemarkie and Avoch; which fund has now amounted to a sum considered sufficient for accomplishing the ulterior object contemplated by the donor.
There are various schools in the parish, but none of them strictly parochial. This arises from the parish school salary having been at one time conjoined with the grammar or burgh school at Fortrose, and afterwards with the academy there; but since withdrawn from both an application has been recently made to the presbytery to adopt the proper measures for the establishment of said school. In the meantime, there are at Rosemarkie two schools without salary, where the usual elementary branches are taught, and which are well attended; one of these is an infant school, at which from 30 to 40 children are instructed.
At Fortrose there exists what is denominated the burgh or grammar school, and a female school for young ladies, supported chiefly by subscription.
The academy of Fortrose was the first seminary of the kind established in the north, and is supported out of a fund formed by donations and subscriptions. In it are taught all the branches usually embraced by such institutions, under the superintendence and instructions of the rector and his assistant. Donors of L.50 and their male representatives become perpetual directors. Those of L.21 are directors for life. The many young men this establishment has sent into the world, who are now filling various respectable situations in life, bear sufficient testimony to its character and usefulness for nearly half a century past.
There are three Sabbath evening schools in the parish, all of them well attended, and which are found to be productive of much benefit to the rising generation.
Poor and Parochial Funds –
The average number of persons receiving parochial aid is about 86. In this number, however, are included a good many, who, though able to work for themselves, receive small annual supplies, especially when they are known to have young families. Few or none of them travel about to seek charity in other parishes. There is a strong disposition on the part of the poor to refrain from asking parochial relief, but this feeling appears to die away soon after they get on the roll. The fund for their support arises from the weekly church collections, which may amount throughout the year to about L.17, and the interest of a capital of above L.200,on which capital the kirk session have always felt a reluctance to encroach, though the pressing circumstances of the poor seemed frequently to call for it. Besides the above, there are two mortifications for the poor of Chanonry: the one by Barbara Mackenzie, Countess of Seaforth, anno 1680, of 17 bolls 2 firlots land rent, under the administration of the ministers of Rosemarkie and Avoch; and the other of 27 bolls, from some lands disponed by Bishop Paterson, and other lands purchased with money mortified by Sir Alexander M’Kenzie of Coul, whereof the magistrates are administrators. John Fowler, Esq., a native of this place, who died in Jamaica, also bequeathed the sum of L.100 to the poor of Fortrose.
Friendly Society –
There is a society in the united roval burgh, termed “the Fortrose and Rosemarkie Friendly Society”, established in January 1831, which promises fair to be of benefit to the poorer classes of labourers and mechanics therewith connected.
At Fortrose there is a good inn, and both there and in Rosemarkie several smaller inns, where inferior accommodation may be had. But it would be highly desirable that the number of low tippling-houses should be more limited.
The appearance of the people, as respects their manners, dress, and habits of industry, shews, that in these, of late years, there has been a great advance. The improvements in agriculture since the time of the former Statistical Account, have been very considerable, and are daily on the increase. The taste for reading in various departments has pervaded all classes of society; so much so, indeed, that among tradesmen and the labouring classes, many valuable works are now to be met with, particularly of a religious character, where in former times such publications were seldom looked for, and but rarely found. There can be no doubt that the bulk of the people in the towns would be inclined to industrious habits. But for want of regular employment, in the absence of manufactories of any sort, they are not so well provided for, as where advantages of this description are enjoyed.
Drawn up May 1839.
Revised February 1840.