Inverary


Inverary
   INVERARY, a royal burgh, the county town, and a parish, in the district and county of Argyll, 60 miles (N. W. by W.) from Glasgow, and 114 (W. N. W.) from Edinburgh; containing 2285 inhabitants, of whom 1233 are in the burgh. This place takes its name from its situation at the mouth of the river Aray, which here falls into Loch Fyne. It appears to have been for many years only an inconsiderable hamlet consisting of a few fishermen's huts, prior to the fourteenth century, when the Campbell family, selecting it as their principal residence, erected a baronial castle, around which the original town gradually arose. In 1742, Archibald, third Duke of Argyll, pulled down the houses that had been raised nearly contiguous to the castle, and built others, of superior character, on grounds which he gave to the inhabitants at a nominal rent. In 1745 he commenced the erection of the present magnificent castle, which, after a short interruption during the time of the rebellion, was completed at an expense of nearly £300,000, when the ancient castle was taken down. In 1748, the Duke introduced the linen manufacture, which was carried on for some time with considerable benefit to the inhabitants; and in 1776, his distant relative, John, the fifth duke, established a woollen manufacture at the Water of Douglas. For this purpose he built premises, erected machinery, and provided every requisite, at his own expense; giving the farm on which the factory was built, and the works, at a low rent, to a person who carried on the manufacture for a time with tolerable success.
   
   The present Town is beautifully situated on the western shore of Loch Fyne, and to the south of the pleasure-grounds of the castle, of which it commands an interesting view. The houses are substantially built, and of handsome appearance; the streets are extremely clean, and lighted with gas, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water. The principal trade carried on here at present is the herring-fishery, for which the season commences generally about the end of June, and continues till the beginning of January; and the fishermen, during the interval, are many of them employed in agriculture. The number of boats engaged in the fishery averages from fifty to sixty, employing about 110 men and fifty boys; and nearly 140 persons are occupied in curing and packing the fish, of which, on the average, about 2000 barrels are exported. The harbour is not adapted for vessels of any considerable burthen; and previously to 1809 the quay was in a very bad state; but a good pier has since been constructed, which, in 1836, was extended at an expense of £1200, whereof £800 were contributed by the Fishery Board, and the remainder by the Duke of Argyll and the corporationof the town. The post-office has a daily delivery. A ferry to the opposite shore of Loch Fyne is kept up by the corporation; and great facilities of communication are afforded by steamers. The market is well supplied with provisions; and fairs are held annually on the 17th of May and 16th of September, for cattle, and on the 15th of July, for wool.
   The first notice of the place occurs in a charter granted to Colin, first Earl of Argyll, erecting the town into a burgh of barony; and it was subsequently made a royal BURGH by charter of Charles I. while a prisoner in Carisbrooke Castle, vesting the government in a provost, four bailies, and a council. Since the passing of the Municipal Reform act, however, the corporation has consisted of a provost, two bailies, and sixteen councillors. The magistrates exercise both civil and criminal jurisdiction within the burgh, with the exception of the castle and park of Inverary; but the former kind of jurisdiction has been almost superseded by the sheriff's small-debt court, and the latter is limited to petty riots and assaults. The burgh is associated with those of Oban, Campbelltown, Rothesay, Irvine, and Ayr, in returning a member to the imperial parliament. The number of £10 householders within the parliamentary boundaries is sixty-three, of whom thirty-one are burgesses; and of those above £5, and below £10, twenty-three, of whom four are burgesses. The town-hall, in which the courts for the burgh and for the county are held, is a handsome building, and contains a spacious court-room. Attached to it is a prison, containing five apartments for debtors, and eight cells for criminals; but a much larger prison has been just erected, contiguous to the old one.
   The parish, which comprises the ancient parishes of Kilmilieu and Glenary, now united, is situated between the lochs Awe and Fyne, and bounded on the south and east by the latter, along which it extends for about ten miles, in the form of a crescent, presenting an outline of projecting rocks indented with bays. It is sixteen miles in extreme length, varying from three to six miles in breadth, and is supposed to comprise an area of fifty-two square miles, or 34,280 acres, of which by far the greater portion is in pasture. The surface is mountainous, and of great diversity of character. The highest of the mountains is Benbui, which has an elevation of 2800 feet; and in front of the castle are two perpendicular masses of porphyritic rocks, called Dunchuaich and Dunchorvil, of which the former is 700, and the latter 800, feet high. The headlands of Kenmore and Stronshira command an interesting view of the parish. The shores are generally smooth and level; but towards the southern extremity, the rocks rise precipitously from the lake, and assume a bold rugged aspect. The chief rivers are, the Shira, which flows through the vale of Glenshira into the Douloch, or "black lake;" and the Aray, flowing through Glenary into Loch Fyne. A river called the Gear-Amhuinn, or "short river," connects the Douloch with Loch Fyne. The lochs abound with salmon, trout, and other kinds of fish; and salmon-trout, herrings, cod, and flounders are often taken together in the same net. The SOIL near the shore is chiefly a thin light loam, on a gravelly bottom; at the bases of the mountains, in the valleys, a deep dark loam on sand and clay; and in other parts, moss, with a small quantity of earth washed down from the higher grounds. The system of agriculture in the valleys is in an improved condition; but in the higher lands, so much progress has not been made, as the farms contain a much larger portion of pasture than of arable ground. The buildings on the principal farms are substaintial, and handsomely built; but many of those on the smaller farms are of very inferior order. Great regard is paid to the rearing of cattle, which are generally of the West Highland breed; little attention is bestowed on the dairy, but for some years the Highland Society have awarded prizes for the best samples of cheese. The sheep, of which great numbers are reared, are of the black-faced breed; the horses are partly of a mixed breed between the native and the Clydesdale. Considerable numbers of pigs are also fed for market. The rateable annual value of the parish is £6836, of which £1973 are returned for the burgh.
   The substrata are chiefly mica-slate intersected with porphyry, limestone, and greenstone; and many of the rocks abound with garnet, and occasionally with felspar. There is an extensive quarry of good paving stone, from which are raised great quantities for the city of Glasgow. The plantations are in a very thriving condition; they consist mostly of oak, Scotch fir, spruce, larch, ash, beech, and plane. They were chiefly formed by the first Marquess of Argyll and his son, the ninth earl, and by Archibald, third duke, and his successors; and are supposed to occupy an area of about 12,000 acres. Among the earliest were those of Dunchuaich and the heights above the castle of Inverary, including the stately avenue of beech at the entrance of the vale of Glenshira; and among the more recent are those of the hills of Douloch and Stronshira, which contain some beautiful specimens of larch, Norway spruce, and American black and white spruce, silver fir, laburnum, and lime. The mansion of Inverary Castle, the seat of the Duke of Argyll, erected near the site of the ancient baronial castle, is a spacious quadrangular structure, with circular towers at the angles. The great hall is ornamented with ancient armour, among which are 150 stand of arms used by the Campbells at the battle of Culloden, ranged on each side: in a circular recess fronting the entrance, are various specimens of Highland armour. The gallery leading to the principal apartments is spacious, and superbly decorated; and the paintings, family portraits, and tapestry are all of the very highest order. The demesne, which is nearly thirty miles in circuit, is tastefully embellished, and laid out in walks and rides, comprising much picturesque and romantic scenery, and commanding extensive and richly-diversified prospects. A noble avenue of stately trees of ancient growth leads into the beautiful glen of Essachossan.
   The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Inverary, of which this is the seat, and of the synod of Argyll. There are two charges: the minister of the first has a stipend of £168. 15., of which one-third is paid from the exchequer, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £45 per annum; and the minister of the second charge, a stipend of £157. 15., of which four-fifths are derived from the exchequer, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £30 per annum; patron of both, the Duke of Argyll. The church, erected in 1798, and repaired, after being greatly damaged by a storm, in 1838, is a spacious and handsome structure, with a central tower and spire 115 feet in height, dividing it into two distinct portions, one for the first or Gaelic church, containing 450, and the other for the English congregation, containing 410 sittings. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, and for the United Associate Synod. The grammar school is under the patronage of the corporation, and the master has a salary of £20, with the usual accommodations: the burgh parochial schoolmaster has £25. 13. 4. a year, with a house, &c. A female school in the burgh is supported by the Duke of Argyll, who pays the teacher £20 per annum, to which £4 are added by the council; and a female school of industry, also in the burgh, is supported by the duchess, who allows £26, with a dwelling-house, coal, and other perquisites. In the rural districts of the parish are, a parochial school, of which the master has a salary of £25. 13., with a house and garden; a school maintained by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, of which the master has a salary of £15, to which the duke adds £18, with a house and garden, fuel, and grass for a cow; and a female school, the teacher of which has £5 from the society, and a house from the duke. The poor, of whom the average number on the parish list is fifty, are supported partly by collections at the church, averaging £65 annually, and the interest of funds in the hands of the Kirk Session, producing nearly £10; but chiefly by the Duke of Argyll, who, in various ways, distributes not less than £300 annually for their relief. There are some slight vestiges of an old fort at Dunchuaich; of the ancient castle of the Mac Naughtens, on the banks of Douloch; and of some religious houses at Kilbride and Achantiobairt. The market-cross, supposed to have been brought from Iona, was removed from the old town, and erected in the present burgh; and on the lawn around Inverary Castle is an upright stone, thought to have been erected in commemoration of some battle near the spot. Over the water of Douglas is a very ancient bridge of one arch, forming the segment of a circle, and thence called the Roman bridge; but the date of its erection is unknown. Dr. Claudius Buchanan is supposed to have been a native of this place, which gives the title of Baron to the Campbell family, dukes of Argyll.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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