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



The population of the united parish, about seventy years ago, appears to have far exceeded its present amount. The reasons of this are very obvious. Small farms and even crofts have been, since that time, thrown into large ones. The present incumbent has been in the practice of taking a list of the population annually, during his annual course of catechising. The population of the parish for this year, that is, from January to September 1836, is as follows:

Village of Gordon's mills


Village of Jemimaville


Remaining part of the parish


Total population of united parish 1836


Number of families


Average number of children in each family


Yearly average of births for last seven years


Yearly average of marriages for last seven years


During the last three years there have been 8 illegitimate births in the parish.


At Gordon’s Mills, many years ago, the proprietor of the estate of Newhall established a snuff-manufactory, which, however, did not continue for any length of time, as the expenses far exceeded the profits. The premises have ever since been occupied by machinery for carding wool driven by a water wheel. The business is, however, on the most limited scale, and of late scarcely anything has been done.

A lint-manufactory, established at Cromarty, upwards of half a century ago by an English company, had been, and still is, a great benefit to the poorer class of females in this and the neighbouring parishes, by giving employment to them as spinners. The prices of labour are now low and much lower than they have been, but [end of sentence omitted]

During the drought of summer, the roads are barely tolerable, but in winter, particularly after a long continuance of frosty weather, they are almost impassable. And yet, notwithstanding this wretched state of the public roads, the commutation money for statute labour has been, year after year, most punctually and even rigidly exacted. The blankets have been often taken off the beds of old bed-ridden people, by the merciless exactors. This state of things evidently arises from mere mismanagement as well as from a want of public spirit.

There are three schools in the parish, each of which is well situated for the convenience of the inhabitants. The parochial school is in the centre. A very substantial and commodious school-house, with schoolmaster’s apartments, has been lately built by the heritors. The present teacher also holds the office of session-clerk. The average number of scholars attending may be about 30. The salary was, in the year 1829, increased from L.16. 17s. 8d. to L.30. The school fees scarcely, at an average, amount to L.10 annually. There is another school at Drimcudden, established, in 1823, by the Inverness Education Society. The school-house and schoolmaster’s apartments were built by subscription, and by collections made at the church doors, at several different times. The society at Inverness appointed the present teacher, and agreed to pay him a salary of L.19, but afterwards, when their funds were reduced, in consequence of the increased demand for schools, and a number of subscribers having withdrawn, they reduced the schoolmaster’s salary from L.19 to L.10. The average number of scholars may be about 20. The fees are very irregularly paid; the greater part of them is paid by equivalents instead of money, that is, by any commodity which the people who are very poor are best able to give. This school at present is in rather an unprosperous state. The other school is at the village of Jemimaville. This is one of the Assembly’s schools, taught at present by Mr Gilbert M’Culloch, and is certainly one of the most efficient and best taught seminaries in the north. The intellectual system has been adopted, and with great success.* Many young men taught at this school are now the teachers of subscription schools through the country, very much to the satisfaction of their employers.

* For the establishment of this school, the parish is greatly indebted not only to the Assembly’s Committee, for the readiness with which they granted so great a boon, but also, and especially, to the exertions of Major Munro, the present proprietor of Poyntzfield, who not only applied to the Assembly’s Committee to establish one of their schools here, but at his own sole expense built the school-house and schoolmaster’s apartment, and has repeatedly repaired them, when necessary. Every application which he made to the conterminous proprietors for aid in so laudable an undertaking was fruitless, and if he had not been at tbe sole expense of it himself, the school never had been established.

Ecclesiastical State
A new manse, office-houses, and garden wall were built here about five years ago by the heritors, on a most liberal plan. The accommodations thus afforded for the minister may, without any exaggeration, be asserted to be among the very first of the kind in Scotland. The manse is both a handsome and a most convenient one. The office-houses are adapted to the size of the glebe, and contain almost every possible accommodation which the minister can require. Being built, too, on the slope of a hill, the necessary drains were properly attended to and effected, so that instead of being damp and uncomfortable, as formerly, the place is perfectly dry. The church is more than sufficiently large for the accommodation of the stated congregation which assemble in it. It is not, however, at present either sufficiently drained or lighted. The windows are numerous, but they are very small. The glebe is 32 Scotch or about 40 English acres in extent. There were two glebes belonging to the minister previous to 1774, one at Cullicudden and the other at Kirkmichael, containing the very best land in the whole united parish. In the excambion, made about the year 1764, quantity was given for quality at Resolis. The late incumbent reclaimed six acres of moor by ploughing. The present incumbent has reclaimed all the rest by trenching, which may amount to about sixteen or seventeen acres, subdivided the glebe into fields of about four acres each, enclosed and planted them with hedgerow trees of various kinds, which by their growth have very much improved the appearance of the place, which, from being the bleakest and dampest in the whole country, is now nearly one of the driest and certainly the most cultivated of any glebe in the two counties. The soil, however, is in general, and notwithstanding every effort and expense to improve it, but very thin and unproductive. It may here be observed, that the heritors derive no annual rent from the church seats. The seat rents are according to the old plan, viz. a sum of money about 14s. or 16s., paid by every incoming to every out-going tenant, for his seat in the church, and which sum for each seat was originally paid by the tenants to the heritors, in order to cover the expenses of seating the church when originally built. The minister’s stipend amounts to 28 chalders, half barley and half oatmeal, Linlithgow measure, together with the sum of L8. 6s. 8d. for communion elements. The augmentations which raised the stipend to this amount were procured by the late incumbent in 1819.

There are at present no Dissenting or Seceding families in the parish.

Those who, from indigent circumstances, are at present on the poor’s roll, amount in number, this year, to 50. The funds for their support are derived from weekly collections, fines paid by delinquents, and donations from private and benevolent individuals, and which, at an average, may amount annually to nearly L.30. The average yearly amount of church collections is L.22. 7s. 10d.; of dues of mortcloth, &c. L.2. 3s. 2d.; of alms or legacies, L.3. 2s. 2d. In distributing the funds among them, the poor are divided into various classes, receiving more or less according to their circumstances. The heritors pay no stated sum annually to the poor, excepting one, viz. Thomas Urquhart, Esq. of Kin- beachie, who, in lieu of the share allotted to him of the Maoil Buidh common in this parish, pays to the poor two bolls of oatmeal. This he does, not in consequence of any legal prescription, but entirely of his own good will, and in order to set an example to the other heritors, which, it is to be regretted, they have not as yet followed. The non-resident heritors give nothing whatever. Those who do reside in the parish give occasional donations, chiefly of meal.

September 1836.

United Parish of Kirkmichael and Cullicudden continue reading

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