The 2nd Statistical Account

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(Presbytery of Tain, Synod of Ross )

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

By The Rev Donald Gordon, Minister**

*The writer owes his grateful acknowledgements to Mr Rowand of the Theological Library, in the University of Edinburgh, and to the Rev Hew Scott, MA, minister of Wester Anstruther, for much useful information and friendly assistance afforded him while engaged in this Statistical Account.

**Drawn up by A.S.A. and revised by the Minister

III. – Population

In 1755, the amount of population by return to Dr Webster was


In 1791, when the Old Statistical Account was drawn up


In 1801, by census


In 1811, by census


In 1821, by census


In 1831, by census


Number of families in the parish in 1831


Number of families chiefly employed in agriculture


Number of families chiefly employed in trade, manufactures, or handicraft


The languages generally spoken is Gaelic, and though the inhabitants speak English less or more perfectly, and are desirous to give an English education to their children, the Gaelic language has lost scarcely any ground within the last forty years.

Character and Habits of the People
The habits of the people are cleanly, and their style and manner of dress conformable to what prevails among people of the same rank, and in the same circumstances, in the vicinity. With few exceptions, they retain the characteristics of the Gael, being patient under adverse circumstances, and, though not disposed to endure constant toil, resolute in every effort to better their condition and maintain their independence, they are, consequently, industrious, and contented under many privations and trials. They are also intelligent, moral and religious, and while the duty of family visitation has been observed at stated periods, that of catechising the whole parish is performed annually. There is an efficient kirk-session of pious and active elders, and the neglect of family worship is scarcely known in the parish. That instances of immorality occasionally occur, does not detract from the general character of the people, or sanction the imputation of that which is the very opposite, though such methods of generalizing have been frequently adopted, to the prejudice both of truth and of reputation; how unjust and illogical, for instance, to brand the religion of a whole district, as favouring fanciful and perverse views of the holy Scriptures and sacraments, because certain individuals were justly or unjustly charged with such principles and conduct. Or supposing cases of petty theft to occur, or instances be known of persons admitting the possibility of chasms or superstitious observances having some good or evil effect – the former, a crime rarely known among true Highlanders, and the latter now rapidly disappearing – would it not be gross injustice to distinguish the one people as thieves, and the other as grossly superstitious?

Perhaps in no part of Scotland have the ministrations of the Gospel been continued in greater purity and faithfulness for the last century and a half than in the county of Ross, and especially in the district of East Ross. Still, however, as might be expected, the power of vital godliness has not been uniform among its inhabitants, either in extent or degree; moral conduct and the decencies of religious habits were always observed, but Christians of talent, piety, and influence were becoming gradually few. This was for some time past a matter of deep concern to ministers and people, when they reflected on the number and eminence of the witnesses removed by death, and the comparative fewness of those raised up to fill their places. Various means, and especially that of prayer-meetings, in parishes and among ministers, were employed, and increasing attention and seriousness were observable, particularly on occasions of the celebration of the communion sacrament, for the last two or three years but nothing remarkable occurred till under the evening address of the excellent Mr Macdonald of Urquhart, on the communion Sabbath, at Tarbat, 5th July 1840, and again on Monday following, when there was an unusual impression and awakening over the whole congregation. The same pervading influence has rapidly extended over the neighbouring parishes of Tain, Eddertoun, Logie-Easter, Kilmuir-Easter, Alness, Urquhart, Kirkmichael, and others. The plainest sermons are often accompanied by the most extraordinary effects, and in all the above-mentioned parishes there are one or more week-day evening sermons and prayer-meetings in church; and the anxiety to attend on every such occasion continues unabated among the great body of the people. Congregations which formerly would appear to great advantage, when contrasted with others, throughout any part of the country, south or north, in respect to attendance on Divine service, and orderly demeanour during public worship, appear now quite altered – while many of those once comparatively careless are awakened to a deep and abiding concern. It is premature to judge as to the saving effects on individual cases, but there can be little doubt that the work is of Divine origin, and of a saving and permanent character in many instances.

This parish also shared in the benefits of a revival of religion, which took place towards the beginning of last century.

Poaching, even in olden times, was rare;,and smuggling has been extinct since the commencement of this century, to the marked benefit, temporal and spiritual, of the inhabitants of this parish.

IV. Industry

It is impossible to give the exact number of acres in this parish, as there has been no survey taken of the Balnagown estates – the largest in the parish – for many years, the last being in 1808; and the many changes which have taken place since that period, especially in cultivation and tillage of the different farms on that estate, make it quite unnecessary and useless to give the measurement then taken. Even the total number of acres is unattainable at present, as large tracts of moor-land and hill pasturage seem to have been left unsurveyed.

The rental of the Balnagown estates here is as follows:

Barony of Westray (or West Struie)

£1453. 4. 7

Estate of Meikle Daan

£155. 19. 2

Estate of Little Daan

£183. 6. 9

Total rental

£1742. 10. 6

The following is the measurement of the property belonging to the Duke of Sutherland in this parish:

Arable land

134 acres

3 roods

£175. 3. 6

Improvable pasture

25 acres

1 rood


Hill pasture

13.160 acres


Planted wood

60 acres

£406.10. 6

Natural wood

60 acres

present value per annum

Acres Scots measure 13,440 )

The present enterprising farmer of the Sutherland estates in this parish – Donald Macleod, Esq. Gladefield House, Kincardine – has greatly improved the property since the year 1835, having added about 60 acres to the arable land, which was then but inferior pasturage, covered with broom and whins. He was also at the expense of building 8135 yards of substantial stone dikes, 3310 yards of covered drains in improved land, and of cutting 12,720 yards of hill or sheep drains. These extensive outlays, amounting to some thousand pounds, and which no doubt will be suitably remunerated by a landlord of wealth and distinguished liberality to his tenants, have, with other improvements, increased the annual value to at least £70 beyond what it was when the property was acquired.

The measurement of the estate of Cadboll:

Scots measure



Arable land



Pasture and moor









The present rental of £219. 2s. 2d. Sterling; and the wood above-mentioned was sold in 1838 for £680, and is now nearly cut down, but is to be replanted.

Balblair Distillery
There is a whisky distillery situated at Balblair, in this parish, which was established about forty years ago, and was the first in this part of the country. It distils weekly 120 bushels of malt, which should give about two gallons of whisky each; the price averages 9s. 6d. per gallon; and they are permitted to sell at three strengths – 11 under proof (U.P.), 11 and 25 over-proof (O.P.) but the last is rarely, if ever, required or made.

The flavour and quality of these spirits is pronounced unequalled by connoisseurs in such matters; perhaps this may arise from the use of peats as fuel, and other secrets of distillation acquired from the old smugglers. The repute of this distillery has no doubt been considerably enhanced by the estimation in which the late Mr John Ross, who commenced it, was held by all his numerous acquaintances.

He was a man of most benevolent dispositions, Christian principles and strict attention to business.

Parish of Eddertoun continue reading

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