The 2nd Statistical Account

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PARISH OF LOCHCARRON

(PRESBYTERY OF LOCHCARRON, SYNOD OF GLENELG)

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. JOHN MACKENZIE, MINISTER*

* Drawn up by a probationer of the Church of Scotland

III. – POPULATION

The increase of population may be principally attributed to the division of land into lots. The village of Janetown, which at no distant period consisted of only three families, contains now a population of nearly 500.

Baptisms and marriages hare been regularly registered since 1819. The register kept before that time was accidentally burnt. No register of deaths.

Number of persons under 15 years of age is

774

from 15 to 30

629

from 30 to 50

474

from 50 to 70

209

upwards of 70

48

Unmarried men above 50

18

Unmarried women above 45

70

Number of children in each family,

5 or perhaps 6 on an average.

Insane, 3; fatuous, 4; blind, 4; deaf and dumb, 4.

Land Owners: Landed Proprietors

2

Language of the People
The language generally spoken is Gaelic, but English is spoken by a great proportion of the younger people. Gaelic cannot be said to have lost ground for the last forty years, but it has been much corrupted by our frequent intercourse with the south, and the silly vanity of persons, who wish it to be understood that they know something of another language.

Habits, etc. of the People
The ordinary food of the peasantry is potatoes and herring twice a-day, and oatmeal gruel for supper. Those in better circumstances have, besides, oat cake, butter and cheese, and in winter and spring use for dinner broth and mutton as a substitute for herring. Of the houses, some are of turf, but the greater part of stone frequently built with lime. The roof is covered over with turf, above which, there is a coat of heather or ferns. There is seldom a chimney to the houses The fire is kindled alongside of the wall, or a stone in the centre of the room, and the smoke reeks its way out at the roof, or door, or windows. The window generally consist of wooden shutters, made to open at pleasure and admit the fresh air. The floors are of clay and mud. In many houses, the cattle are under the same roof, and even enter at the same door with the family, and are only separated from them by a partition of boards, wattles, or stone, having a door in the middle. As will be readily imagined, the space between this partition and the outer door is sometimes so dirty, that it is difficult for him who enters to pick out a clean footing. The greater part of the people do certainly not enjoy the comforts of society, and they are far from being satisfied with their situation and circumstances. Those living on the coast, particularly depending for their subsistence upon the herring fishing, a fluctuating and precarious employment, are frequently in a very poor condition. But they have their lands cheaper, and are on the whole in better circumstances than the peasantry of the neighbouring parishes. The people are industrious and obliging. They are naturally acute, and such as have had the advantages of education are intelligent. With respect to religion, there is a considerable excitement, and a considerable profession. From the practice introduced by the late minister, of causing the people to deliver their sentiments on religion publicly at fellowship meetings, many show a wonderful facility in talking upon such subjects; but close observation enables us to perceive that their knowledge is merely superficial. To the peculiar phrases used by them, they are found to attach no definite ideas; and if the ideas which the phrases convey are espressed in another language, the words of which they understand, they do not recognize them. What is most to be blamed, is a general addiction to flattery and infidelity to engagements.

The number of illegitimate children in the parish during the last three years was 4.

Number of acres, standard imperial measure, in the parish, which are either cultivated or occasionally in tillage

1238

Number of acres that might, with a profitable application of capital, be added to the cultivated land of the parish

200

Number of acres under wood

1500

Average gross amount of raw produce raised in the parish, as nearly as that can be ascertained, is as follows:

L.

Grain of all kinds, whether cultivated for food of man or the domesticated animals

1620

Potatoes and turnips

2035

Hay

585

Land in pasture for cows

1250

For sheep

1500

Annual thinning and periodical felling of woods

100

Fisheries

3000

Total yearly value of raw produce raised

10090

V. PAROCHIAL ECONOMY

Market Town
Means of Communication – The nearest market town is Dingwall, 50 miles distant, but family supplies are generally got from Inverness to which there is a regular communication by carriers. Roads are excellent. Carriages of all descriptions visit us. We have a post-office in Jane town, where the mails arrive three times a week.

Ecclesiastical State
The church was built in 1751. It is situated in the centre of the parish, and as the roads are good, it is pretty convenient for the greater part of the population. It affords accommodation for upwards of 800, but is a miserable edifice, almost unfit for the exercise of public worship.

The glebe contains 10 arable acres, and pasture for 6 cows and 150 sheep. The stipend is the minimum. There is no Episcopalian in the parish, and only one Roman Catholic, a woman. The inhabitants are partial to the establishment, but are far from being punctual in their attendance on public worship. A catechist labours among them, paid by the session. There are no Dissenting or Seceding families in tbe parish.

Education
In the parochial school are taught, Greek, Latin and all the ordinary branches of education. The salary is the maximum, and the amount of school fees may be about L.15. The expense of education is from 8s. to 18s. per annum according to the branches studied. At present, there is no Society school in the parish; children come therefore to the parish school, from a distance of six miles. Three additional schools are required, and they would secure an attendance of from 30 to 70 scholars. There are at present from six to fifteen years of age, 291, and upwards of fifteen, 693 persons who cannot read. The people are in general alive to the benefits of education. They are particularly anxious that a knowledge of English should be imparted to their children, from an impression that their temporal interests will be more certainly promoted by a familiarity with that language.

Poor
The number of poor receiving aid from the parochial funds is from 25 to 80. The sum allotted to each is small. Our church collections do not amount to L.8 per annum, and there is no other mode of procuring funds besides the fines imposed on delinquents.

Fairs
The only fair held in tbe parish is the new Kelso market, on the first Monday of June. At one time it was a considerable fair for cattle, but now it has dwindled into an annual term for settling accounts and drinking whisky.

Inns
There are 2 inns in the parish, and 2 dram-houses. The resort of the younger part of the people to these places tends much to corrupt their morals.

Fuel
The fuel used is dried moss, procured at no other expense than the labour of lifting it.

Miscellaneous Observations

Since the last Account was drawn up, considerable improvements have taken place in agriculture, persons of skill and capital have introduced an approved system of husbandry, and their example has been speedily followed by the tenantry. To promote the comfort of the people, it would be necessary to give longer leases, so as to encourage a spirit of improvement and to let the lands at a cheaper rate, that the produce might pay the rents without any other resource, (which is now far from being the case), and to afford employment to the labouring classes, by introducing judicious improvements at the expense of the proprietors. In diffusing among them the blessings of knowledge, much might be done by the introduction of a more efficient system of education, by the establishment of parochial libraries, and the circulation of cheap periodicals.

P.S. Since the above Account was written, the church has been condemned by the presbytery, and it is confidently expected that the heritors of Lochcarron will erect the house of worship, to be built in its stead, in a style worthy of the object and the situation.

The rental may be stated at not less than L.2500.

At the death of the late incumbent (the author of the last Statistical Account), the glebe of Lochcarron scarcely contained 5 acres of arable land, properly so called; 5 acres more are now in good heart; and 10 acres are in progress of cultivation. The whole extent of the glebe, from the loch to the top of the hill, may, at a rough guess, be said to be two miles in length, by half a mile in breadth; a goodly pasturage without doubt, were its nature equal to its extent.

September 1836

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