Largo


Largo
   LARGO, a parish, in the district of St. Andrew's, county of Fife; containing, with the villages of Drumochy, New Gilston, Kirkton, Lundinmill, Temple, and Woodside, 2751 inhabitants, of whom 423 are in the village of Largo, 3 miles (E. N. E.) from Leven. This barony was given by James III. to Sir Andrew Wood, a distinguished naval officer, in recompense for his eminent services; and the grant was confirmed by James IV. It afterwards became the property of the family of the Gibsons, of Durie, from whom it was purchased, in 1663, by Sir Alexander Durham, lyon king-at-arms, whose descendant is the present proprietor. The estate of Lundin, which formerly included the greater part of the parish, belonged to the Lundins from the time of David I. till the reign of William the Lion, King of of Lundin, which formerly included the greater part of Scotland, when it passed, by marriage with the heiress of that family, into the possession of Robert, son of the monarch. Subsequently, by marriage with another heiress, it became the property of John Drummond, second son of the Earl of Perth; and on the attainder of that family in 1745, it came to Lady Willoughby D'Eresby, from whom it passed to the family of the Erskines, and thence to Capt. Erskine Wemyss, of Wemyss Castle, its present owner. The parish, which is situated on the bay of Largo, is about six miles in length, from north to south, and three miles in breadth; and is bounded on the north by the parish of Ceres, on the south by the bay, on the east by the parish of Newburn, and on the west by Scoonie. The surface is agreeably diversified with hills and undulating valleys. The principal hill, named Largo Law, rises in a conical form to an elevation of nearly 1000 feet above the level of the sea, terminating in a double apex, and sloping gradually on the eastern side: to the west of its base is a deep valley, extending two miles in length, and called Keil's Glen. Towards the shore the surface is flat; but the scenery generally, which is enriched by plantations, abounds with interesting and romantic features.
   The soil is various, but fertile, consisting in the northern parts of a rich black loam, and in the southern of loam, intermixed with lighter lands, and in some places with a friable clay. The whole number of acres is 6820, of which 6000 are arable, nearly 300 in pasture, and 500 in woods and plantations. The system of agriculture is in an improved state, and the crops are favourable and abundant; considerable attention has been paid to draining and inclosing the lands, and nearly all the waste has been brought into a state of profitable cultivation. The farm-buildings are generally substantial and commodious, and roofed either with slate or tiles. The cattle are of the Fifeshire breed, with sometimes a cross of the Teeswater; the rearing of horses, also, principally for agricultural purposes, is much attended to, and several from Yorkshire have been introduced with a view to the improvement of the breed. A few sheep are fed for home use, of the Leicestershire breed; and great numbers of hogs, chiefly the Chinese, are fattened for the neighbouring markets, where they find a ready sale. The plantations consist mainly of Scotch fir and larch, which thrive well; in those of more recent formation are, oak, ash, elm, beech, and plane. The oak attains to a luxuriant growth, and in the grounds of Lundin House, is a fine grove of limetrees of very stately size; the planes in the demesne of Largo House are of singular beauty, and many of the elms are of large dimensions. The substratum is chiefly limestone, and sandstone of a reddish colour; the limestone is of a grey colour, and is found in strata fifteen feet in thickness, and quarried for building purposes and for burning into lime. Freestone of good quality, but lying at a great depth, is quarried, though not extensively, as the expense of working it is scarcely remunerated by the produce. Coal is also found in the parish, and is chiefly worked for the lime-kilns; it occurs in seams about eighty feet thick, but is very sparingly used, as coal of a much better quality is obtained from Wemyss at only a moderate increase of price. The rateable annual value of the parish is £10,815. Among the principal seats is Largo. The ancient mansion, of which a circular tower is still remaining, was inhabited by Sir Andrew Wood: the present structure, erected in 1750, is spacious and in handsome style, situated in grounds embellished with lofty plantations, and commanding an extensive and diversified prospect over the surrounding country. Lundin, the property of Capt. Erskine Wemyss, is a modern edifice, from the centre of which rises a square tower of great antiquity, the only existing portion of the residence of the family of Lundin; it is beautifully situated, and the demesne comprises some venerable and stately timber. There are a few other handsome houses of proprietors of land in the parish, which, from their situation and the plantations around them, contribute to enrich the general scenery.
   The salmon-fishery in Largo bay was, after being carried on for some years with very indifferent success, producing not more than £130 per annum, totally discontinued; but it has been revived, under better management, and is now pursued to advantage. The spinning of flax is carried on in the parish, affording employment to nearly 100 persons, for which purpose there are two mills driven by water, and one of them also by steam. The port or harbour of Largo has a limited coasting trade, and three small vessels belong to it; a steam-boat sails twice in the day during summer, and once during winter, between this place and Newhaven. The harbour, which is formed at the influx of the river Kiel into the Frith of Forth, is incommodious; but its improvement might be effected at a comparatively trifling expense, and would contribute greatly to restore the trade of the place, which was formerly far from being inconsiderable in the exportation of coal, salt, iron, and the produce of the quarries, to Holland, and the importation of timber from Norway. A subscription library contains more than 500 volumes, and is well supported; and a savings' bank has been opened, in which the various sums deposited, chiefly by labourers, amount to a large sum. Facility of intercourse with the neighbouring market-towns is maintained by turnpike-roads kept in excellent repair, and the parish generally is improving. A post-office is established under Leven. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of St. Andrew's and synod of Fife. The stipend of the incumbent is £253: the manse, built in 1770, and in 1823 greatly enlarged and improved, is a handsome and comfortable residence; and the glebe comprises five acres of good land, valued at £20 per annum, to which may be added £11 paid in lieu of "foggage." The church was erected near the site of a more ancient structure in 1817, and enlarged in 1826; it is a neat edifice with a spire, and is adapted for 836 persons. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, the Relief, and Baptists; the ministers are supported by the voluntary contributions of their respective congregations. The parochial school is well conducted; the master has a salary of £34, with a house, and the fees average about £30 per annum, including £7. 15., the bequest of the late James Kettle, Esq., for teaching four children. There are three other schools in the parish, of which the masters of two receive, in addition to the fees, a salary of £5, paid by the heritors.
   An hospital was founded by John Wood, Esq., a descendant of Sir Andrew Wood, who bequeathed £68,418 Scots in trust for its erection and endowment, for thirteen indigent persons of the name of Wood, a chaplain, porter, and gardener; the chaplain to have a stipend of £17 sterling per annum. The building was erected in 1667, and rebuilt in 1830 in a handsome and substantial style, at an expense of £2000: it contains two apartments each for sixteen inmates, who receive £15 per annum paid monthly, and a supply of vegetables; and there is a large hall in which they assemble for prayer morning and evening. Above the hall is a room where the patrons of the hospital meet for the transaction of business connected with the institution. The hospital is under the patronage of the Earl of Wemyss, the lairds of Largo, Lundin, and Balfour, with the minister of the parish, and the members of the Kirk Session for the time being. There are also under the management of the Kirk Session, the interest of £100 bequeathed by Mrs. Wood for the benefit of orphans; of £600 bequeathed by Mr. Kettle, one half for the instruction of four poor children, and the remainder to be given in sums of £2 each to persons not on the parish list; and the interest of £500 for distribution among widows of the name of Jameson who have children under sixteen years of age, in sums of £5 per annum each. This last fund, for want of applicants, has accumulated to £1100. On the banks of the river Kiel are the venerable ruins of the ancient castle of Balcruvie, the residence of the family of Crawford; and to the south and east of Lundin House, are three stones of rude triangular form, supposed to be either of Roman origin, or the gravestones of some Danish chiefs who fell here in battle with the forces of Banquo and Macbeth. Two pieces of similar stone were discovered on the Largo estate, at the distance of a mile from each other, which, when united, formed an antique carved cross. On an eminence to the north were found silver coins of the earlier Roman emperors; and at Balhousie were discovered three urns containing ashes, and near them some stone coffins, and the bones of an infant. The late Sir John Leslie, professor of mathematics in the university of Edinburgh, and author of The Progress of Mathematics in the Eighteenth Century, was a native of this parish.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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