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 4

Extract from "The third statistical account of Scotland
the county of Banff", 1961

 

THE PARISH OF MORTLACH.
by Rev. James S. Stephen, B.D., Ph. D.

Physical Basis. The parish of Mortlach in Upper Banffshire is bounded on the north by the parishes of Boharm and Botriphnie, on the east by Glass (Aberdeenshire) and Cabrach, on the south by Inveravon and on the west by Aberlour. Its area extends to 34,222 acres.

Mortlach has a natural identity of its own, lying like a bowl or deep saucer amid the surrounding hills and to the southeast of Ben Rinnes (2,755 feet), a famous landmark that acts as a general signpost to Dufftown, the burgh of the parish. The parish can be viewed as a whole from its several road approaches, each in its own way presenting a memorable view. From Aberlour, Dufftown attracts attention as the central feature, just as Balvenie Castle, now ruined and shaded by trees, did in days of old: from Boharm the approach is along the centuries old road, traversed by Edward I in 1296 and 1303, which is both lovely in itself and in its views of the Fiddich and of Kininvie House: the Keith turnpike makes a steep descent after it crosses the Botriphnie boundary, emphasizing the bowl like shape of the parish, and here, with Loch Park lying deep in the valley and the railway running alongside, the scene is almost Canadian with Ben Rinnes in all its glory dominating the picture. On entering from Huntly, an excellent panoramic view shows " the broad acres o' Mortlach ", stretching from the River Deveron on the east. From the Cabrach, the approach is by the narrow pass, Glack o' the Balloch, through which the early saints traveled eastward, and after the road from lovely Glenfiddich joins this royal highway, a fine view of the stern ruin of Auchindoun Castle may be had. The other main approach is from Tomintoul and Glenrinnes, and again as Dufftown comes into sight the bowl like shape is apparent, but this time the industrial life of Mortlach is prominent, with the lime works standing out on the hillside across the valley and the distilleries fringing the burgh, somewhat veiled by valley and trees.

Place-Names. The parish is full of interesting place names, including Mortlach itself. In 1885, John Macdonald, a banker from Buckie, delivered a lecture to the Banffshire Field Club on " Place Names in Banffshire ", in which a section was devoted to Mortlach. There he discarded morlag, the Gaelic word for " great hollow ", and mortis-lacus, the " lake of the dead ", as the meaning of Mortlach, and suggested instead mort, meaning " massacre " and leac, meaning " tombstone ". But mort-leac would signify only the stone marking the scene of the massacre, while the meaning of Mortlach should surely pertain to the whole parish. The meaning of " Leachie ", the little village that grew up near the standing-stone is no doubt derived from leac. Tullochallum would appear to date from the 1010 battle, being Tulloch-challum or " Malcolm's Hillock ". Mr. Macdonald also referred to most of the farms in his comprehensive study, the names of which are mainly of Gaelic origin.

History of the Local Community. The first historical character known to have set foot in Mortlach was a contemporary of St. Columba, Moluag of Bangor, Ulster, who was later referred to as " Moluag the pure and brilliant, the gracious and decorous " of Lismore, Rosemarkie and Mortlach. St. Moluag (who died in 592) founded his Christian community in Mortlach about the year 566 A.D., establishing a church, school and farm. In 1923 an " Elephant Stone " said to date back to at least 500 A.D. and which now stands almost unimpaired in the vestibule of Mortlach Church, was unearthed in the churchyard on ground where formerly St. Moloch's (Moluag's) Fair was held every year on 25 June. Another name recorded in the history of Mortlach is Walloch of Balvenie and Wallakirk, the last missionary to come to the northeast from St. Ninian's original mission at Whithorn. Walloch (who died at a ripe old age in 733) probably established his small church near the " well of healing " close to what is now Balvenie Castle. There is no record to indicate that the Moluag tradition carried on

errupted at the Mortlach site, but it is recorded that in 1010 King Malcolm I I  “ramscuttered” the Danes in the Dullan valley near the site and in accordance with his vow extended the church by the length of three spears. Near the spot where the " Elephant Stone " was found, there is a sculptured stone, 7 feet 6 inches high, called the " Battle Stone ", which has Christian symbols on either side indicating Pictish origin and is said to date from this battle. It may in fact belong to the Moluag period. Malcolm 11 is also stated to have created Mortlach a bishopric, with Bein as its first bishop. According to a charter. Nectan, the fourth bishop, was translated to Aberdeen in 1124,when the seat of the bishopric was transferred there by David I and although this charter is now believed to be a forgery, it does not necessarily invalidate the statement. Records (of course) arc sparse and little confirmation has come from archaeological finds.

No doubt Mortlach Church, which is the oldest building in the parish, underwent considerable interior change about the time of the Reformation, but there is no extant record of it. Formerly the main entrances were on the south or " Laichie " side, and on the north there was a single postern door, but in 1826 the north wall was broken to make an extension towards the new burgh of Dufftown and this was still further extended in 1876, when large-scale repairs and alterations were made. Again in 1931 the building underwent a complete restoration, when many worthy features of its historic past were restored and preserved and it was given added dignity and. beauty by the provision of modern furnishings and stained-glass windows. Before the First World War the fund for this restoration was begun by the Rev. John Barr Cumming, but the final drive and the actual scheme was carried through by the Rev. L. L. L. Cameron, while the provision of fine woodwork and the vestry was made possible by the generosity of Mr. Cosmo Gordon of Buchromb. Mortlach Church is now one of the loveliest, as well as one of the oldest, churches in Scotland. Although it cannot bear comparison in age with the church, the manse must have a considerable history of its own. In 1796 it was referred to as having been "a spacious one in its day, but is now going to wreck ", indicating that it was then an old building. An addition was made in 1807 and it was greatly altered in 1842 and modernized in 1931.

Balvenie Castle, the second oldest building in the parish, dates from the thirteenth century or earlier, when it was known as the Castle of Mortlach. Excellent historical sketches of it are available and it is thus sufficient to record that it appears to have been the dominating feature of parish life between 1304 (when it was restored by Edward I to John Comyn, Earl of Buchan) in 1746 (when it was evacuated for the last time during the Jacobite Rebellion). It now stands a finely preserved ruin of craftsmanship of bygone days, under the care of the Ministry of Works.

A third building of historical significance is the Castle of Auchindoun, which towers within the earthworks of a prehistoric hill fort. Auchindoun (Ach-an-dun) means " the field of the fort ". and the castle is a fifteenth century structure, attributed to Robert Cochrane, a favourite of James 111, but it may be much older. It was a stronghold of the Ogilvies of Deskford until the Gordons took possession of it in 1535. It remained in their family until it became a ruin, and at one time was the home of Edom or Adam o' Gordon of ballad fame, one of the most colorful characters of the north-cast in the latter half of the sixteenth century. Now that it belongs to the Crown it is to be hoped it will be put into a state of preservation worthy of its historic past.

Kininvie House, at the northern extremity of the parish, is another historic building of note, having been in constant occupation by the Leslie family since its erection in 1521 until 1935, when it became economically impossible for the family to retain it. Mention should also be made of. Keithmore, one of the oldest farm houses. About 1640, Alexander Duff, a descendant of the Thanes of Fife and a grandparent of William, first Earl of Fife, received the farm as a wadset from the Marquis of Huntly and built the old manor house of Keithmore in 1688. Early in the nineteenth century William Marshall, the celebrated violin composer, who lived there as factor to the Duke of Gordon, found the thick cannon-resisting walls made the interior too dark for his liking and accordingly he built a new house, turning the old house into stables. As Keith is Gaelic for " wind " and more means " big” no doubt the original house was built to resist the elements as well as cannon balls.

Since the New Statistical Account (1836) all the estates within the parish have changed hands, with the exception of Lochend, the property of the Duffs of Drummuir, whose residence Drummuir Castle is outwith the parish boundary. The present proprietors are as follows: Auchindoun - Commissioners for Crown Lands; Glenfiddich and part of Glenrinnes - Mrs. Borthwick Norton; Mether Cluny and remainder of Glenrinnes - Miss Cowie and Mrs. Cumming; the lotted lands of Dufftown - trustees of the late Duke of Fife; Edinglassie - Major Hay; Balvenie - Alexander Cheyne, Aberdeen; Kininvie - A. Gordon Thomson; Lochend - Lieut. Col. Gordon Duff, Drummuir Castle; Parkmore - J. and R. Kemp; Pittyvaich - Arthur Bell and Sons Ltd., Perth; and Buchromb - Mrs. Cosmo Gordon.

It is interesting to note that the farm of Alnaboyle has not changed hands in the last 400 years; the Greens, who still farm this land, hold receipts to show there has always been a member of their family in Alnaboyle throughout this long period.

The Rise of Dufftown. Although the modern history of the parish starts in 1817 with the foundation of Dufftown by James Duff, fourth Earl of Fife, the Good Yearl " it ought to be recorded that before the burgh came into being, there was a small hamlet at the Kirktown of Mortlach, known as Laichie. The foundation of Dufftown was part of the earl's post-Napoleonic war scheme of developing the Fife estates and for a short time the new town was called Balvenie, but later through common usage it came to be known as Duff-Town. On 10 June 1817 a meeting was held at Mether Cluny (now Glenrinnes Lodge), the residence of Mr. Watt, the earl's factor, when the conditions of feuing were read out


and the first feus given off, which gives sufficient evidence to establish the foundation date. Number 3 Balvenie Street was the first feu and for this reason it was allocated a double portion of lotted land. The basic plan of the town is a right-angled cross, the streets running north, south, east and west with a square in the middle. The Square Well was at the west side of Church Street and when it was removed in 1900 the top stone, hearing the date " 1816 ", was built into " The Maister's Well " in the " Maister's Widdie ", below the old school in Church Street. The development of Dufftown appears to have been rapid, and after a sense of community had grown, public buildings began to appear. In 1825, St. Mary's Roman Catholic Chapel was built at the foot of Fife Street, and in the Square a clock tower was erected in 1847, from the top of which a most comprehensive view of the parish can be obtained. The burgh chambers now occupy the ground floor of the "Tower ", but this was originally the gaol and for many years the building was known as " the gaol ". In 1851 the Free Church was built in Church Street and this was followed in 1879 by Provost Symon's Hall, later known as the Town Hall, and at the present time the Picture House. The previous hall con­sisted of the upper storey of what is at present Cockburn's shop, numbers 1-7 Church Street. St. Michael's Episcopal Church at the top of Conval Street dates from 1880 and the Masonic Hall in Albert Place from 1887, while in 1890 the Stephen Cottage Hospital was completed. In 1893 the Parish Church Hall was built and in 1902 Mortlach Public School was erected in York Street. The burgh then entered a period of settled life. After the First World War a number of houses was built and since the end of the Second World War expansion is again taking place.

In an early guidebook Dufftown is described as having been built amid seven stills, in contrast to Rome's foundation on seven hills. These seven distilleries were built between 1823 and 1898. The three staple industries of the parish are agriculture, distilling and lime, thus the industrial life is mainly outside the burgh, as is the railway station that is over a mile front the Tower. But the burgh is the shopping and business centre and houses considerably more than half the population of the Parish.

Antiquarian Finds. Reference has already been made to the outstanding historical buildings and stones, but Gordon's Cross, between Sandyhillock and Hardhaugh, is also worthy of mention. All that remains is the stone base of what may have been an ancient gibbet. It is recorded that on 3 January 1760 the Duke of Gordon held court at Hardhaugh with a view to recruiting men for his company and although he no longer had the power of " pit and gallows ", the method of recruiting savored of it. Dr. William Cramond, a former headmaster of Cullen and a noted anti­quarian, wrote several interesting articles on Mortlach in the Banffshire Journal and in one dated 14 December 1894 he tells of the finding near Balvenie Castle of a pre-Reformation censer which is now in the custody of Blairs College, Kincardineshire. He likewise recorded the discovery of 11 ancient silver coins in a sandpit at Pittyvaich in 1879 and of a silver penny of Henry111 (1216-72) found in the manse garden. Two Roman coins, one dated 138 A.D. and the other a Marcus Aurelius (160‑80 A.D.) were also found at Pittyvaich.

Folklore. The Auchindoun district of the parish has considerable folklore of its own. The people still speak of the Fairie Hillock at Mewlack (now in Tullochallum) as a favourite spot for the " wee folk ", while in early and mid-Victorian days few would have crossed the Bridge of Aulnacreich unaccompanied after sundown on account of the many frightening apparitions reported to have been seen. " Coven's Gairden " on the Haugh of Clunymore is marked now by only a few gean trees, but when the " coven " of witches assembled at Beltane and Hallowe'en it was indeed a centre of ghoulish activity. It is reported that " Aul' Covens ", the last occupier of the holding regularly tapped the Drenach birch trees in early summer to collect sap for brewing " birk wine ". In the 1890s Hallowe'en was observed regularly. Kale cassocks were pulled blindfold and left behind house doors to await arrivals, a well-rooted castock being sure evidence that the fortunate selector would thrive and marry well and a lean one indicating the opposite; no second choice was permitted. In Auchindoun the last " witch doctor ", James Burgess, died in the 1860s. It is recorded that one day when a young woman was churning, the butter refused to come and the cream kept frothing over the churn. A neighbour advised the butter-maker to visit James Burgess with a sample. Burgess took the sample into his house, returning later to report that the cream had been " witched " and if desired he could name the person responsible. The information was declined but the young woman was assured that if she returned the sample to the churn all would be well. This she did and butter soon came after churning was resumed. James Burgess received his "gift" of witch detection from his mother, who had got it from her father, this gift being handed on alternately from male to female and female to male. It died, however, with James as his daughter refused it.

Population. The census figures for the parish are as follows: -


 

 

Date

 

Landward

Total

1801

 

1,876

1,876

1811

 

1,767

1,767

1821

 

2,044

2,044

1831

 

2,633

2,633

Date

Dufftown

Landward

Total

1841

770

1,824

2,594

1851

998

1.806

2.804

1861

1,249

1,846

3,095

1871

1,250

1,809

3,059

1881

1,252

1,682

2,934

1891

1,469

1,566

3,035

1901

1,823

1,603

3,426

1911

1,626

1,395

3.021

1921

1,454

1,257

2,711

1931

1,454

1,094

2,548

1951

 

1,460

 

904

 

2,364

 

 

By the end of the first 60 years of the nineteenth century, the population of the whole parish had risen by over 1,000 and although it declined slightly during the next 20 years, it rose again in the following 20 and had reached a maximum of 3,426 by 1901. Since then, however, it has shown a steady decline and in 1951 was over 1,000 less than in 1901. It should be noted that this decline has been confined almost entirely to the rural area as during the past 50 years the population of Dufftown has scarcely altered. The parish has little to offer university graduates or those who have taken a higher education and there is thus a constant migration of young people to the professions, especially nursing, teaching and medical. There has also been a constant emigration to Canada. Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and the U.S.A. Almost every family, with the exception of professional men, bankers and excise officers can claim local connection with the area.

Local Families and Outstanding Personalities. There are excellent published accounts of the Leslies. the Cordons and the Duffs, he principal local families of the parish. The Cowies and the Grants, through their distilleries and their public service, have made a considerable contribution to community life in the past 100 years.

Lord Mount Stephen (1829-1921) is probably the person whose name comes most readily to mind as an outstanding son of the parish. In his various Deeds, he claims to be a native of Mortlach and to have been brought up in " the third reek in Dufftown ", which was number 8 Church Street. He attended the parish school of Mortlach and during the summer months was herd boy on the Rev. James A. Cruickshank's glebe. At the age of 14, he left for Aberdeen, where he was apprenticed to an Aberdeen draper and four years later (1847) moved first to Glasgow and then to London. In 1850, he joined a cousin, William Stephen, a draper in Montreal, Canada, becoming sole proprietor of the business on his cousin's death, 10 years later. From then on he went from success to success, becoming a director of the Bank of Montreal and three years later it’s president; in 1878, he was manager of the St. Paul and Pacific Railway Company, a bankrupt concern, which with a number of others he had bought over. In 1880 he joined his cousin Donald Smith (Lord Strathcona) and R. B. Angus, forming a company of which he became, president. and undertook the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway, 700 miles having already been constructed by the Canadian Government. He was created a baron in 1886 and five years later a peer, and on his return to England in 1893 made his home in Hertfordshire.

Field Marshal Sir Donald Martin Stewart, Bart. was probably the most distinguished soldier to be educated at Mortlach School. He lived in the Kirktown from the age of 4 until he was 17, when he entered the Bengal Army, serving during the Indian Mutiny, and being appointed Commander-in-Chief in 1881. From 1885-1900 he was a member of the Council of the Secretary of State for India.

The most notable musician within the parish was William Marshall, who as factor to the Duke of Gordon lived at Keithmore for over 30 years. Marshall was a composer of violin music, writing in all about 300 strathspeys and other tunes, the most famous being "The Marquis of Huntly's Farewell " and " 0' a' the Airts ". Not only was he a great composer and violinist, however, but he encouraged others to pursue the art. At Keithmorc, in the very room where he composed many of his tunes, Sir James Cantlie, the famous surgeon, was born in 1851. At least three organisations of national importance owe their origin to his initiative - the Volunteer Medical Staff Corps (1983), now the Royal Army Medical Corps: the Hong Kong College of Medicine; and the College of Ambulance. He was the pioneer of ambulance work and his textbook for St. John's Ambulance Association is a standard work of first aid. A gifted lecturer, he earned the tribute of being " the greatest teacher in Europe ", but in addition to his medical work he played a most important part in Chinese affairs and without him Sun Yat Sen, the first President of the Chinese Republic, might never have been known to the world.

Dr. James A. Innes (1839-1905) of Boghead, Auchindoun, a farmer's son, graduated M.A. at Aberdeen University and then took the degree of M.D. at Edinburgh, commencing practice in Dufftown shortly afterwards. Thereafter for nearly 41 years he labored incessantly, and in this wide district was at everybody's call day or night. As a surgeon, he was equally and for many years people came long distances to consult him. The fees he charged were ridiculously small, even for those days, and he sent out no accounts, no doubt placing more value on the evident gratitude, respect and affection which his fine character and unselfish devotion won from his patients. His lifelong interest in higher mathematics provided a relief from his professional work and he is said to have invented a calculus.

Sir Robert Donald (1860-1933), the distinguished journalist and editor of the Daily Chronicle from 1902 to 1918, was the son of an Auchindoun mason. Dr. George A. Morrison, born in Dufftown in 1869 and now happily retired in his native burgh, was an outstanding figure in the educational life of Scotland. He was headmaster of Inverness Royal Academy from 1910-20 and of Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen from 1920-33. In 1930-31 he was president of the Educational Institute of Scotland, and upon his retirement from active teaching was elected Member of Parliament for the Scottish Universities, which he represented from 1934 until 1945.

Churches. The ecclesiastical parish boundary was altered in 1865, when the quoad sacra parish of Glenrinnes was formed out of the upper valley of the Dullan. There are four religious groups functioning in the Parish, the Church of Scotland, with its two churches. Mortlach and Mortlach West, on the south branch of the cross on which Dufftown is designed, and also its church at Glenrinnes; the Roman Catholic Church of St. Mary's to the east of the cross; the Episcopal Church of St. Michael's to the west, and the Brethren Gospel Hall to the north. Until 1935, Mortlach and Mortlach West Churches housed two separate congregations, but in that year they became a united charge, the present membership being 1,001. Mortlach Church, which lies a few hundred yards beyond the burgh boundary, is the old Parish Church. The stained glass of the three lancet windows in the church is the work of the famous Cottier of Paris and was inserted in 1876 in memory of James Findlater of Balvenie, while the small lancet window or Cowie Memorial in the south wall, the work of Douglas Strachan, reveals the type of the original windows. The other seven windows are the work of James Powell and Sons (Whitefriars) Ltd., London - the Cosmo Gordon, the John Barr Cumming, a group of three in the War Memorial Shrine, the Lord Mount Stephen, and the Innes, the latter being inserted in 1950 and completing a scheme envisaged in 1931. A recumbent effigy, said to be that of Alexander Leslie, the first laird of Kininvie, lies in what had at one time been the Easter Sepulchre in the chancel, while there are busts, carved by John Faid (an Elgin mason) of Alexander Duff and his wife, Helen Grant, in niches in the south wall. Mortlach West Church is the format United Free Church built in 1851. The Free congregation was led out by Major Stewart of Pittyvaich and, before this church was erected, worshipped first in the loft of Mortlach Distillery and then in the Tarry (roofed) Kirk in Fife Street (behind No. 14). The present Glenrinnes Church was built in 1884, taking the place of the missionary chapel referred to in the New Statistical Account; and has at present approximately 50 members on its roll. Mortlach Church Sunday school has a membership of 224 and there are 18 children in Glenrinnes Sunday school. Parish Church Sunday schools have also been run from time to time at Kininvie and Auchindoun. At present the parish minister makes periodic visits on weekdays to these schools.

St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, built in 1825, has a membership of 170, while St. Michael's Episcopal Church, built in 1880, has 47 Members. Recently the Brethren's Gospel Hall has been taken over for, other purposes and the congregation meets at present in the Masonic Hall. Sunday schools in connection with the brethren and St. Michaels' Episcopal Church are also held.

It is of interest to record the former existence of a Secession Church: on the old Cabrach road above the farm of Auchinhandoch. In 1786 Peter Waddell was appointed by the secession congregation of Cabrach, Mortlach and Auchindoir to be their first minister and he held that office until 1801, when he went south. The writer of the Old Statistical Account states the number of seceders to be between 30 and 40, but the writer of the New Statistical Account in 1836 says there were none, which no doubt accounts for the little known history of the Secession Kirk of Mortlach.

There is a number of local endowments administered by the kirk session of Mortlach, the oldest being the Duff of Dipple (1724), amounting to £75. This bequest is for the poor of the parish (the name of Duff being preferred) and is now joined to the Forbes Bequest (1813) of £100 (for which the names of Forbes or Blair are preferred). The Rev. Morris Forsyth, writer of the New Statistical Account (1836), left a bequest of £150, half the income from which, to go to a maiden lady over 50 years and the other half to be divided between two widows. The George Cowie Bequest of £900 is divided into three - one-third being for the schemes of the Church of Scotland, one-third for the upkeep of the organ, which he donated in 1888, and the other third to be divided between three poor aged men and three poor aged women, while the Mrs. Cowie Bequest of £200 is divided between four poor aged women. A bequest by Mrs. Sellar is for the poor, without specification. The Miss Strathdee Bequest of £152 for the music of the church was used for rebuilding the organ in 1931. Bonnyton Estate Bequest of £1,000 for the poor of the parish is divided between the kirk session and the District Council for distribution. Sums is of £100 for the poor and £400 for the minister were left by the Rev. H. A. Stewart, son of Major Ludovick Stewart Pittyvaich, who led the Disruption in Mortlach. The Murray Bequest is for the poor, while Alexander Thomson, a local feuar, left a sum of money to provide coal for the poor, yielding an annual income of £46. The widow of the Rev. John Barr Cumming recently left £100 for the music of Mortlach Church.

The chief benefactor to the community, however, has been Lord Mount Stephen, who, in. addition to giving Dufftown the Stephen Cottage Hospital and endowing it generously, and also providing the community with the services of a district nurse, endowed an old age pension scheme whereby 50 pensions of £16 were created. In 1910 and 191I he also endowed a number of supplementary pensions. His gen­erosity greatly helped to make possible the restoration of Mortlach Church and he contributed to the reconstruction of the Free Church in 1891 by donating a stained‑glass window. He also donated a total of over £100,000 to increase the stipends of ministers in surrounding parishes by at least £1OO. Mortlach and Glenrinnes benefiting from this trust. Unfortunately, however, his good intention has not had the effect he desired, as each minister now benefits to the extent of £32 only. Glenrinnes was given a double portion under this trust and it also benefits from the Beaton Trust, amounting to some £30 annually,

There are two main educational endowments, which are awarded by the kirk session - the Dr. Lorimer Bursary of £16, created in 1793, for a male student in the faculty of arts for four years at Aberdeen University, and the two Sturm Bursaries (1869) to be held by any youth for four or five years in any faculty at Aberdeen University. In 1927 the John Grant Fund was founded by John Grant, St. Michael's, Dufftown, being the interest on £1,000 to assist students of limited means in the faculty of arts, who may fall ill while at the university. In 1951 Mrs. Grant created a further John Grant Fund, in memory of her husband and son, by which the stipend of Mortlach Church will be augmented, the long term sick in the County Hospital benefited and the deserving poor helped.

The oldest local records are those of the kirk session of Mortlach, which date from 1623. Volumes I - (1623-54) and 11 - (1669-78) are rather torn and as at one time they had been very wet are illegible in places. Vol. Ill (1711-31) makes a number of slight references to the Rebellion of 1715, and it is also recorded that there was no sermon on one occasion because of rebels in the parish. The writing of Robert Duff, schoolmaster and precentor from 1712 to 1722 is remarkable for its style and clarity; that of Theodore Gordon (1722-4) is also neatly done, but their successor. John Copland, is more difficult to follow. Vol. IV (1766-73) includes copies of deeds covering the period 1794-1857 and the minutes of heritors' meetings, and then there is a gap until 1813 when the meetings were far less frequent. The record from 1819-33 appears to be the private notes of the session clerk prior to entry in the session book. In 1841 the Rev. James A. Cruickshank and six other members of the Strathbogie Presbytery were suspended from their charges as a result of their action in the Marnoch case, and it is most interesting to find the kirk session minutes for 1841-43 in what later became the first minute book of the Free Church of Mortlach. The period from 1846‑49 is covered and the record is complete from 1885 onwards. There are several cashbooks dating from 1711, but no register of births, deaths, or marriages prior to 1741. Apart from official records, there is an interesting little book dated 1805, in the Rev. Morris Forsyth's hand recording all the houses and their occupants in the parish. It also contains a record of residents in Balvenie Street and Conval Street Dufftown for the year 1820. The Free Church records are complete.

Agriculture. Agriculture is the basic industry of the parish. Farmers of a hundred years ago would, however, find the present system of farming somewhat perplexing. The many crofts in existence a century ago are now hardly to be seen as most have been merged and now form a part of larger holdings. Horses are now the exception rather than the rule and if they are kept at all they are merely there as a standby. The tractor is the “handyman” of today and every farmer has at least one, while a number of crofters employ Government or locally owned tractors to undertake the heaviest of their work.

A feature of husbandry in this parish is the lotted land system whereby 3 Scots acres of land were originally allotted to every feu in the burgh, each plot consisting of 1½ acres of infield and 1½ acres of outfield. Throughout the nineteenth century, and for some time after, this lotted land system was a great boon to the community, and although the system is still there, few now cultivate their own land but let it out to neighbours. The great number of outhouses throughout the burgh, however, testifies to the former method of living when every household had its cow and was practically independent.

Most farmers in Mortlach engaged in mixed farming. Although cattle breeding and feeding play an important part, most of the animals are sold to farmers nearer the coast to be finished off for the meat market. A local baker, Mr. Charles Morrice, however, has shown commendable enterprise in this field by winning important awards at Perth and else where. There are five dairy farms in addition to several small milking concerns. Four of the dairies supply the burgh with milk, while the other sends its supply direct to a milk pool. All the dairy herds are milked by electric equipment and to reduce domestic work some farmers do not keep any dairy cows. Milk in fact has to be delivered to a number of farmers showing how great this problem of labour has become. With the present wool and beef shortages, sheep farming has become increasingly important, while pig‑rearing in the area is also popular and many farmers are now paying more attention to this new market. Poultry farming has seen a great transformation in the past few decades. This is no longer the concern of the farmer's wife only, but is often priority work for the farmer himself. Nor is it any longer a seasonal industry, as with the advent of the deep litter system it is fast becoming an all the year round concern. The ever rising cost of foodstuffs, however. makes it increasingly difficult for many of the smaller egg-production units to keep going.

The main crop is oats, although a considerable amount of barley is also grown for the distilleries. Most of' the barley used by the distilleries, however, has to be imported from outwith Mortlach as the barley grown here is not always of the standard necessary for distilling, because of the altitude of the area. The growing of seed potatoes, especially for export, has been a feature of this parish for a few years back. The agricultural statistics for the parish at 4 June 1953 were: tillage 3,182 acres; temporary grass 3,178¾ acres; permanent grass 1,993½ acres:. rough grazing 8.926¾ acres; for livestock, totals were, horses 65, dairy cattle 310, beef cattle 2,325, sheep 10,596, pigs 1,033, poultry 16,287. Holdings over one acre numbered 159. At 18 February 1954 total tractors numbered 100 and electric motors 26.

A fortnightly mart is held on Thursdays in the premises of the Elgin Market Green Company. Most of the farmers from Glenrinnes, Cabrach and round about attend this market, but some go as far a-field as Keith, Huntly. Elgin and Aberdeen.

Other Industries. Distilling plays an important part in the economy of the parish and affords employment to almost 200 men and also a few women. Illegal distilling, for many years the " hobby " of nearly every farmer, is almost unheard of nowadays, and the manufacture of malt whisky has become established as the leading industry of the area. At the present time the industry has taken on a new national significance and is Scotland's highest dollar-earning commodity. Of the seven distilleries, Mortlach, Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Parkmore, Convalmore, Pittyvaich and Glendullan four (Mortlach, Parkmore, Convalmore and Glendullan.) are now incorporated in Scottish Malt Distillers.

Mortlach, by far the oldest and largest distillery in the parish, was founded in 1823 by George Gordon and James Findlater, who took out a licence in that year. In 1854 George Cowie, a land surveyor, entered the business in place of James Findlater and in 1867 became sole proprietor, carrying on the distillery on his own until 1895 when his son, Dr. A. M. Cowie, on his return from China joined him. Two years later Dr. Cowie became sole owner and in 1923 sold the business to John Walker and Sons Ltd. Since 1936 it has been owned by Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd. Glenfiddich Distillery was built in 1887 by William, Grant, a clerk with Mortlach Distillery. Three years later in 1890 he also built Balvenie, and these two distilleries, with offices in Glasgow and London, are still owned and run by the Grant family as purely local concerns. In 1893 a Dundee firm, James Watson and Sons Ltd., built Parkmore, and in the following year Convalmorc was erected by Peter Dawson, grain merchant, Balvenie Mills. Pittyvaich Distillery, which was built in 1896 by a group of local men, including John Symon, R. McKenzie and C. J. Macpherson, who formed the Dufftown Glenlivet Distilling Company, now belongs to Arthur Bell and Sons Ltd. of Perth. The other distillery, Glendullan, was built by William Williams and Sons Ltd., Aberdeen. There are also two cooperages in the parish, the larger one employing about a dozen men.

A rich vein of limestone runs through the parish and at the present time there are upwards of 60 people engaged in the lime industry in Mortlach. The earliest lime works of any consequence appears to have been at Tininver, its first quarry, Priest's Quarry, being in the neighbourhood of the Roman Catholic Chapel. Later the Tininver Works had another quarry farther along the road from the kilns towards Poolinch. The Richmond Lime Works are of a later date and their quarry provides road stone at the present time for the County Council. At first the two works were carried on independently and later together by a company, two of whose directors were Mr. George Gordon, Abbeyfield, (an Elgin surveyor and at one time a tenant of Tullochallum) and a Mr. George Grant of Elgin. This company withdrew from the lime business in 1903, when J. and C. Kemp, proprietors of Parkmore Lime Works. entered into a lease of the 'Tininver Works’, working them only during the busy season. It is doubtful if any lime was produced at Richmond Works after 1903. Parkmore Lime Works began operations about 1891 under James Kemp, who was then proprietor of the land on which they are situated. He succeeded in getting the railway to install a siding in front of the kilns, a great advantage in those days of no motor transport. On the death of James Kemp in 1903, his two, sons, James and Charles, became proprietors and in 1912 they brought into use a patent gas fired kiln. In 1938 ownership was transferred to Mr. James G. Birnie and in 1943 Parkmore Limes Limited was formed, with Mr. W. D. Hutcheon, Turriff and Mr. Birnie as directors. Besides. the usual lump or shell lime for builders and plasterers, ground lime and ground limestone are produced for agricultural purposes. The limestone is also crushed for poultry grit, while lime hydrate is another product. Since 1945 Government subsidy has led to a boom in the production of agricultural lime and a considerable fleet of lorries and specially equipped lime-spreaders transport this product over the whole of the northeast. In 1951 a brick factory was established as a by-product and for this Parkmore Limes Ltd. have taken a lease of the Convalleys sand quarry.

Until recently the woolen industry gave interest and a measure of trade to the life of the community of Mortlach. The history of this industry goes back to 1829, when Peter Stewart, who lived in Benmain, built the Fife Mills at Crachie. This was a carding and handloom mill. Later he sold the machinery and business to Peter Thompson, who had worked in the mill since he was 12 years old, and he introduced power-loom weaving, blankets, wincey, plaiding, tweed and occasionally carpets being made. It was never a large concern, six people at most being employed - Mr. Thompson himself, Sam the weaver and his wife, Bob the weaver, Bob the dyer, and a spinner. When Peter Thompson died in 1886 his son William carried on the business for two years before emigrating to Canada, when the mill was let to Mr. Laidlaw, who had another mill at Rothiemay. About 1898, Mrs. Thompson (Peter Thompson's widow) sold the mill to the railway company when the line was extended to Mortlach Distillery and in 1901 the Laidlaws transferred their interests to Keith where their mills now operate on a much larger scale. In 1904 Alexander and James Fraser of Huntly bought the mills and settled at Crachie. On the death of Alexander in 191I, his brother James carried on the business until he retired in 1939, when his son William A. Fraser, became sole proprietor. The main products of the firm were Harris yarn, blankets, tweeds and knitting wools. As a result of an appeal by island merchant weavers who had been badly hit by Government controls on the outbreak of war in 1939, four Scottish mills, including the Fife Mills, were licensed in May 1940 to supply the island weavers with Harris yarn. After the war there was a great boom in Harris tweed and as a result merchant weavers in the islands became interested in the mill; purchasing it in 1947. In October of the same year, however, prices soared when control was removed from raw wool and this in addition to the raising of the purchase tax to 662/3 per cent virtually killed the trade. The Fife Mills, now called A. and J Fraser (Woollens) Ltd., was closed down and in 1951 part of the factory roof fell in. The machinery was advertised for sale. Thus ends the history of local industry, but it is to be hoped that a time will come again when the woollen industry will again assume importance in Mortlach.

Education. In 1891 the boys' school, the female school and the infant school were amalgamated under one headmaster and from that time the girls of the parish were able to enjoy the benefits of a course of higher education, similar to that of the boys. In 1902 the old schools in Church Street were abandoned and the new school, built in York Street, occupied. This school, which has been extended and is now known as Mortlach Senior Secondary School, has been the principal school in the parish since that date, providing a course leading to the award of the senior leaving certificate, with entrance to a university or central institution. Pupils specialising in technical subjects and others, who find it more convenient, go to Keith, a bus being provided for such pupils from Dufftown. At August 1955 Mortlach School had a staff of 15 full time and 6 visiting teachers and a roll of 331 pupils.

There are also four primary schools in the parish - Auchindoun, Dufftown Roman Catholic, Glenrinnes and Kininvie. From these schools the pupils are transferred at the age of 12 to Mortlach Secondary School, where meals are provided for those who reside outwith the burgh. A school bus is run from Upper Cabrach and a car takes the children from Glenrinnes to Mortlach School. At August 1955 the primary schools of Auchindoun, Glenrinnes and Kininvie had each one full-time teacher and rolls of 11, 14 and 6 pupils respectively, while the Dufftown Roman Catholic Primary had 1 full-time and 1 visiting teacher and 15 pupils.

Housing. Within the burgh there is a total of 463 dwelling houses. Since 1918 the local authority has erected the following houses: 30 consisting of 3 bedrooms and 1 public room and 35 with 2 bedrooms and I public room. Of these houses 35 were erected prior to 1945 and 30 since that date. The other 398 houses in the burgh are privately owned and are either owner-occupied or rented. Until houses were built by the local authority, it would have been difficult to find houses in the burgh built to one design, but now there are groups of 3-apartment and 4-apartment houses all of the same pattern, as well as Cruden houses. On the whole, gardens are of the utility type, their main purpose being to supply vegetables, although there are some excellent flower gardens. The out standing applications for houses amount to 65, a small proportion being cases of overcrowding.

The tendency in the rural area is for smaller dwellings to fall vacant and then become derelict but in the immediate vicinity of the burgh there is considerable shortage. There are five estate mansions, Buchromb, Glenrinnes Lodge, Glenfiddich Lodge, Kininvie and Parkmore, as well as four houses standing within their own grounds, Balvenie, Hazlewood, Pittyvaich and Priestwell. There are also the manses of Glenrinnes and Mortlach and a number of fair-sized farmhouses, of which Keithmore, Tulloch, Tullochallum, Laggan, Pittyvaich, Lettoch, Reclettich and Auchmore are possibly the most historical. The distilleries also have a few houses, occupied by excise officers and distillery managers, as well as groups of workmen's houses. The remaining houses in the rural area consist of smaller farmhouses, crofts and a few private houses, and cottages. Since 1947 only one private house, two distillery workers' houses, three lime workers' houses and two groups of rural workers' semi-detached houses have been erected. One distillery worker's house has also been reconstructed and a number of rural dwellings have been renovated.

Public and Social Services. Dufftown is supplied by water from two sources to the west of the town, Hillside and Conval Crofts. The water is collected from springs into cisterns and thence piped to two storage tanks at the head of Conval Street, each with a capacity of 60,000 gallons. The daily consumption of the town is estimated at 60,000 gallons, thus two days' supply only is held in storage tanks, which is not regarded as adequate. At present, sewage disposal is by direct discharge to the River Fiddich, except from the north side of the town where sewage is collected by a disposal plant before discharging to the river. A proposal is mean time before the council for the modernisation of the sewage arrangements of the burgh. Refuse from the town is tipped into an old sand pit at Peter's Wood above Market Green and it is considered that this arrange­ment is adequate for some time to come.

In 1937 electricity was introduced by the Grampian Electricity Supply Company, which has now been taken over by the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. Most houses in the burgh now enjoy electric light and there is also an increase in the use of electricity for heating and power. In the rural area, however, the use of electricity is not so advanced, although a number of farms have been linked up, while others have installed private plants. During the years from 1853 to 1892 Dufftown had a service of gas, supplied from its own plant. In 1892, however, the local company agreed to wind up its affairs, when Mr. Cowie, the chief shareholder, bought over the building and had it demolished in order to extend Mortlach Distillery. Gas, however, has returned in transportable form, rural and calor gas being used extensively throughout the parish.

Roads are of great importance to this upland parish, which depends greatly upon road transport for the disposal of its products and for its tourist industry. There is no through road with a first-class surface and there are one or two bad bridges. The main streets of the town, however, are wide and well adapted for traffic. The burgh has a daily service of buses to and from Elgin, Tomintoul, Keith and Huntly. Three of the bus services are locally owned, while the Elgin service belongs to Alexander and Sons. In 1862 the Aberdeen-Dufftown railway line was opened and in the following year was extended to Craigellachie to meet the Elgin-Strathspey line. Dufftown station is rather inconvenient being situated over a mile to the north of the town, but the Commercial Hotel runs a bus to meet all trains. There is also a goods station at Mortlach Distillery. In addition to a British Road Services depot, two local carriers operate within a stated area, while a Dufftown contractor and coal merchant, who owns a fleet of lorries, covers a wider area. Most farmers, business and professional people own cars and there are a number of hirers, including one at Glenrinnes and another at Haugh of Glass, so that transport needs arc adequately met.

The parish is most fortunate as regards health services. The Stephen Cottage Hospital, the gift of Lord Mount Stephen, has accommodation for 10 patients and is an excellently equipped building on a central site. It has proved a great blessing to the community throughout 60 years of its independent existence. Lord Mount Stephen also provided for the services of a district nurse, who would be resident in the hospital, such an arrangement being almost unique in Scotland. Mr. Cosmo Gordon of Buchromb also left a legacy to ensure that sufficient money was available to meet the nursing needs of the parish, while Miss Cowie of Glenrinnes provided the nurse with a car and undertook to maintain it. These services have now been taken over by the state, but the trustees continue to function with a view to providing additional nursing benefits as the need arises. The long term sick are accommodated in the former County Hospital for Infectious Diseases, erected in 1904, which has been altered to cater for this particular type of case. By October 1951 this hospital. where a St. Andrew's ambulance for the use of the area is stationed, will be equipped to take 28 patients. One matron is in charge of both this and the Stephen Cottage Hospital and there is a total staff of 3 sisters, 3 nurses and 14 nursing orderlies. There is a doctor and his assistant resident in the burgh and also a dental surgeon. whose main practice is in Keith. Two other dentists, an oculist and a chiropodist also visit the burgh.

There are four post offices in the parish, Dufftown, Glenrinnes, Auchindoun and Haugh of Glass. Apart from Dufftown, these sub-post offices are all housed in general merchants' shops, with public telephones nearby. There is also a public telephone at Raws Cottage on the Cabrach road. The main postal deliveries are by rail, but small vans provide a connecting link with the central post office at Keith. Most shops have telephones, while in an ever-increasing number of farm and rural houses they are being installed.

Dufftown has its own weekly newspaper, the Dufftown News and Speyside Advertiser, which first appeared on 29.September 1894. This paper, first printed and published by James Ingram and then carried on by his son after his death in 1923, was taken over by the Elgin Courant and Courier in 1952, but Mr. Ingram, who has still retained his printing works in Albert Place, continues to contribute a weekly column on local affairs. In 1894, a lending library was instituted in the Parish Hall by the Rev. John Barr Cumming and proved a great benefit to the community before the County Library scheme came into being.

There are two banks in the town, the Clydesdale and North of Scotland and the Commercial, and one resident and two visiting lawyers, all employing local staff. The 3 bakers, 2 garages, 4 carpenters, 3 builders, 3 electricians, 2 coppersmiths, 3 plumbers, 2 painters, 3 butchers, blacksmith and 3 shoemakers offer considerable variety as regards apprenticeship. In the burgh also there are a number of grocers, 3 drapers, a tailor, 2 watchmakers, 2 radio shops, 3 confectioners, an ironmonger, 2 newsagents, 2 chemists and 3 hairdressers, but it is difficult to give an accurate account of all the shops, as some are almost general merchants stocking a variety of goods. At Glenrinnes, Auchindoun and Haugh of Glass there are also general merchants’ shops. Besides being catered for by bus and car, the rural areas are visited by vans. Two local bakers, one grocer and two fish vans supply the parish in this way while vans from neighbouring areas also make calls. One of the greatest weaknesses in the parish is the lack of a really first-class hotel and one would have thought that at least one would have been established by local enterprise. The largest hotel, the Fife Arms, was destroyed by fire after the Second World War and has not been rebuilt, although the lounge bar is in use, while the Commercial Hotel, the only other of any size, has had outhouses converted to cope with passing bus tours and special parties. The Royal Oak and the Mason Arms have both been modernised and the former now caters for weddings and outside functions, but lack of accommodation restricts their activities. The Elms Temperance Hotel is chiefly a board residence and during summer is quite busy, while the Ismarik Guest House and Restaurant, which has been recently opened in Balvenie Street opposite the post office, caters for the needs of passing traffic. The picture house also runs a cafe and snack bar.

Voluntary Organisations and Social Activities. Since the selling in 1945 of the Town Hall (which was converted into a cinema) Dufftown has had no public hall. After the Second World War the " Victory Fund Committee ", which had as part of its remit the acquisition of a memorial hall, purchased the Parish Church Hall, built in 1893, and, although alterations on the scale desired cannot at present be carried out, this building will eventually prove its value and usefulness as a community centre. When the kirk session agreed to sell the Parish Church Hall to benefit the community, it had to consider the cubic space of the West Church, which has now been reconstructed to provide an excellent suite of halls and hall-church, where the evening service is held. Glenrinnes has also a community hall, originally the. Volunteer Drill Hall (built in 1883), which is at present being extended.

A recreation centre sprang up after the Second World War and although it is considerably hampered for space, it is open every evening and meets in what was formerly a grocer's shop in the Square. There is a very active bridge club meeting weekly from October to March in the school. Badminton is becoming increasingly popular: Dufftown club meets in the memorial hall and there is also a club at Glenrinnes. The curling club has a pond at Crachie, which is floodlit by electricity, and at the Market Leys there is a skating pond. There are at present two football clubs, the Dufftown club, with ground at the Westburn Park, and the distilleries' club, which plays at Hardhaugh. Dufftown is fortunate in having one or the finest bowling greens in the north and there arc good tennis courts alongside, but the golf club has been dormant since the course was ploughed up in 1939. Since the Second World War the Dufftown Games have been revived with considerable success, but as yet the local entries are meagre. The games are held in the school field, which, if leveled, would make an excellent sports ground.

The Dufftown Juvenile Friendly Society, which held it’s first meeting on 24 January 1835. seems to have been started for the same purpose as the New Aberdour Society, founded in 1829. These two societies appear to be unique and existed for the purpose of establishing a fund in order to assist their members, at a proper age, to enter into another society. The first minute books of the society are missing. and the first record is of a roll of 333 members, dated 26 January 1849. Since 1873 the society has been wound up and re-instituted every 10 years, thus carrying out the previous tradition of a winding-up and a paying out to members every so many years. At the annual general meeting in 1873 it was resolved that the date of meeting be changed to the first day of January, except when that fell on a Saturday or Sunday, when it would be held on the Monday following. The byelaws, rules and regulations were also carefully revised and entry money fixed at 6¼d , payable at general meetings. It was also resolved, that after the meeting " there shall be a procession of Members through the streets of the Burgh " (now called the Boys' Walk) to be followed by an evening ball. The Boys' Walk and Boys' Ball are still extremely popular today and members come long distances to be present. The membership of the society extends from the very young to the very old.

Youth organisations include scouts, guides and brownies, which were founded in 1921. A company of the boys' brigade, connected with Mortlach Church, was in existence from 1890 until the outbreak of the First World War. In 1943 Mortlach Church Youth Club was formed to cater for the post-school youth of the parish, with a senior section for the over-twenties: the present total membership is about 70. A young farmers' club, which started in 1950, promises to be a very active and useful organisation in the area. In 1950 also, an army cadet unit was formed and at present its membership is 21.

The Woman's Guild of Mortlach Church is probably the oldest women's organisation, having been founded in 1889 when it superseded the old Dorcas Society. Then followed the Woman's Guild of the former United Free Church. As a result of the union of the Church of Scotland congregations in 1935, the Woman's Guilds also united and the present membership is 70. Glenrinnes Church formed a branch of the Woman's Guild in 1951 and the membership is now 18. Mortlach Church also runs a cradle roll club for mothers with children under school age. This club, begun in 1945, has a membership of 20 mothers and 35 children. In the 1920s two branches of the Women's Rural Institute were formed, in Auchindoun (which was closely linked with the burgh) and in Kininvie. The Kininvie branch is still very active, but in 1950 the Auchindoun branch became dormant, when most of its members who were resident in Dufftown joined the recently formed branch of the Townswomen's Guild, which has at present an active membership of approximately 120, drawn front both the burgh and rural area.

Mortlach has a tradition of music behind it and for over 40 years, from 1889-1931, a very flourishing choral union existed. In 1904 the Messiah was performed with orchestral accompaniment and from that time on, except during the First World War, both orchestra and choir took part in presenting a major work each year. The standard of the performance was exceedingly high and all sections of the community took part. At the present time there is a revival in musical activities and through the efforts of the County Music Organiser, area music festivals have been held and a new choral society may be formed. Mortlach Church, which had a fine organ installed in 1888, has had for many years an excellent choir. In 1949 the Dufftown Pipe Band was founded and equipped in every detail of instrument and dress by Mr. George King, a native of the parish, who is now in South Africa. It was an immediate success and is a great asset to the community.

Drama has had its ups and downs during the past century, always depending upon the enthusiasm of a few people. About 60 years ago there was a very active drama club, which presented three different full-length plays in the same week, while the West Church ran a highly successful literary and dramatic society from 1929‑35. To-day drama is again on the up-grade and various organisations and the churches devote a considerable amount of time to it.

There are a number of very keen gardeners of both sexes and quite a few Dufftown exhibitors capture the premier awards at Aberdeen and elsewhere. The Dufftown and District Horticultural Society holds a very successful annual summer show for flowers, vegetables and fruit. Beekeeping, as a hobby, is greatly on the increase and there is a very active beekeepers' association. Interest in both these activities has been stimulated by winter lectures organised by the Department of Agriculture. There is an active branch of the British Legion, while a local branch of the Red Cross has accomplished some excellent work, especially during the war years. Mortlach has three lodges - Freemasons, Oddfellows and Ancient Shepherds - but of these only the masons hold regular meetings. They have a hall and a billiard room of their own in Albert Place,'

Way of Life. The date of the New Statistical Account, 1836, and 1951 seem very far apart, but it is probably true to say that in this parish there is still much that has not changed. The boundaries are still the same and Mortlach Church is still the principal place of worship. The town of Dufftown has certainly grown but it is still basically the same while the larger farms, whose roots go deep into the parish history stand out even more prominently than before. Although crofts are now in the minority, many which have been swallowed up in large farms still appear in the Valuation Roll, but there are others that have been allowed to revert to hill land for sheep grazing.

The advent of mechanisation has brought about change, however. The tractor has superseded the horse, and the car the trap, while road transport has almost become an industry in itself, with buses, lorries, vans. car trailers taxis and tractors appearing in ever increasing numbers. Another notable change has been brought about by the scarcity of domestic labour on farms, and no longer is the farm kitchen the hub of farm life. In 1836 the home and the bothy provided the social background of parish life, but today the picture house, clubs and societies have largely taken their place in this respect. The attitude to the churches has also greatly changed and for many, fear of kirk session discipline has been replaced by apathy. Church attendance has naturally suffered as a result, but it is still true to say that church life is vigorous in all denominations.

On the whole the children are very well dressed and the home has still a considerable influence on them up to the age of l2. The school leaving age is now 15, but 12 appears to be the new age of independence and most children have decided by then if they are to take education seriously or are merely to endure it until they can leave school. This trend may also be seen in church life among the young, where there is a tendency to take less interest in Sunday school and bible class after the age of 12. The parents of Mortlach are keen to give their children an opportunity to do well; many take music lessons, but apart from piano playing, there is little opportunity here for young people to learn an instrument.

The women seem to be taking a greater interest in their homes. Labour-saving devices, magazines and talks, together with better houses provide constant incentive and many are accepting these opportunities, but home life as a social unit is not so strong as formerly. In the rural area kitchen and bothy concerts are the exception, whereas in the nineteenth century they were the rule. On Sunday the home still holds it’s own, but the activities of the people have greatly changed. No longer is it observed as a holy day in the majority of homes, but rather as an odd-job day. There is, however, no anti-religious feeling and most children are baptised in church. Most marriages also take place in church, but religion is not related to daily life in the majority of cases. The church is aware of this and the West Church buildings have been adapted with a view to, making religion more relevant to this generation. The religious approach of today differs considerably from that of 1836 and radio has given the church a new opportunity to bring religion to the homes of the people.

At the present time, there is little or no unemployment in the parish. The teenagers usually manage to find work locally, the boys as apprentices and the girls as shop assistants, and, to a lesser degree, as domestic workers. The two local hospitals also attract teenage girls, as nursing orderlies for the long term sick or as probationers at the Stephen Cottage Hospital. For strong young men, farming, roadwork, forestry and saw milling are available.

July 1952.

 

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