The 2nd Statistical Account

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Sir John Sinclair, Baronet of Ulbster in Caithness (Image taken from Raeburn painting) with background of west coast outline

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



Means of Communication
There are no market-towns in the parish, and the nearest market-town is Inverness. We have no post-office, no bridges, properly called, no canals or rail-roads, no harbours, properly speaking, though vessels of a considerable tonnage can safely load and unload on the shore of the east end of the parish. We have a good turnpike road passing through the eastern extremity of the parish, from the Ferry at Kessock to Dingwall, Invergordon, and Fortrose, upon which a toll-bar is placed, and upon which carriages of every description pass.

Ecclesiastical State
The parish church is every thing but comfortable as a place of worship. It was originally built, some hundred years ago, in the form of a cross, and in that form it now stands. It is large enough to contain the population of the parish. It was first thatched with heather. But, upwards of forty years ago, it was raised on the walls, newly roofed, slated and seated. But, in opposition to the then minister’s wishes, the heritors continued its former Popish form. The present heritors seem not less attached to this relic of Popery than their predecessors. 

They lately added to the former props supporting the decayed galleries, ten new additional props of planted wood, removing the decayed parts of the sarking, and splicing the rotten ends of some of the couples. In short, the church is a most uncomfortable place of worship, and most ruinous to the health of the incumbent, as it is said to have been to that of his predecessors. Even such as it is, there is no free sitting in it even for the very poor. The manse was first built about a hundred years ago. It has received the addition of a back wing and some repairs, since the present incumbent was admitted, and yet it is far from being either comfortable or commodious; and, were it not for the incumbent’s own outlays upon it he would have had little satisfaction in it. The glebe may be from 5 to 6 acres, all arable, no pasture. There is, in addition to this glebe, the one-half of the glebe of Kilmuir Wester, belonging to the minister of Killearnan. This arose from a disjunction of the three parishes of Suddy, Kilmuir Wester, and Killearnan, which took place in 1756, when the two parishes of Killearnan and Kilmuir Wester and Suddy were formed from the former three, and when the stipend of the three parishes was equally divided between the present two. The stipend of Killearnan has been, ever since, 145 bolls of barley, 51 bolls of meal, and L.8. 4s. 2d. of money, without any allowance for communion elements. It is now the smallest stipend in the Synod of Ross, and there are no means for augmenting it, as no vacant teinds were left in this parish when the annexation took place. There are no chapels, belonging to any other denomination than that of the Established Church, in this parish, though a few of the parishioners attend a Scots Episcopal chapel on the parish of Kilmuir Wester and Sudddy, built upon the property of Allangrange. The people are generally a church-going people. There is a catechist in the parish, supported by the interest of L.300, funded for the purpose from the stipend of the parish which had accumulated during a vacancy of eight years, while the right of presentation was litigated between the Crown and the Honourable Mrs Hay Mackenzie of Cromarty, before the Court of Session and the House of Peers. The process was finally decided by the House of Peers in favour of the Honourable Mrs Hay Mackenzie, in the month of July 1814. The communicants of this parish are 150 in number, including the elders.

We have had a quarterly collection in the parish, during the last twelve years, for missionary purposes, which may amount yearly to from L.8 to L.12.

There are two schools in the parish, the parochial school, and one endowed by the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. We have, besides, a female school, taught on the second patent of the same Honourable Society. In the parochial school, the following branches are taught, viz, mathematics, book-keeping, mensuration, Greek, Latin, English writing, Gaelic, geography, English grammar, &c, In the Society’s school, are taught English, Gaelic, translating English into Gaelic, writing, arithmetic, and book-keeping. The attendance at each school is from 80 to 100. The salary of the parochial school, including the legal allowance for a garden, is nearly L.30. The salary of the society schoolmaster, along with a small croft free of rent, is only L.15. The schoolmistress gets L.5. The quarterly charge for school fees may be from 1s to 4s. The children of the poor are taught gratis, and the good effects of early education is seen in the industry, sobriety, and good conduct of our youth.

The number of persons in the parish receiving parochial aid is betwixt 60 and 70; they receive yearly from 6s to 12s each. The collections at church, in their behalf, may amount to L.24 or L.30 a-year.

We have two public fairs held, each year, in the months of March and July.

The principal fuel used by the poor are, peats, turf, the foots of broom, branches of trees, and some coals. Coals are always used by the more wealthy portion of the inhabitants, for which they pay from 1s. 6d. to 2s. the Scots barrel, or from 1s. to 1s. 2d the imperial barrel. The coals are brought from Newcastle.


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