Methven


Methven
   METHVEN, a parish, in the county of Perth; containing, with the villages or hamlets of Almond-Bank, Balwherne, Bellstown, Bragrum, Gibbiestown, Glack, Meckphin, Scrogiehill, and Wood-end, 2446 inhabitants, of whom 935 are in the village of Methven, 6 miles (W. by N.) from Perth. The name of this parish is derived from the Gaelic word Meodhan, signifying "middle," a term applied in reference to the situation of Methven in the middle of Strathmore, which extends from Stonehaven on the east, to Dumbarton on the west, and is here bounded on the north by the Grampians, and on the south by the ridge of the Ochil hills. The historical notices of the parish reach back to the year 970, when Colenus, reputed the 79th king of Scotland, is said to have been killed in this neighbourhood by Rohard, Thane of Methven, for violating his daughter. The lands, before 1323, belonged to the Mowbrays, whose ancestor, Roger Mowbray, a Norman, came to England with William the Conqueror. To one of this family, Sir Roger Mowbray, belonged the baronies of Kelly, Eckford, Dalmeny, and Methven, lying severally in the shires of Forfar, Roxburgh, Linlithgow, and Perth. These lauds, however, were confiscated by Robert I., for the adherence of Mowbray to Baliol and the English interest; and Eckford, Kelly, and Methven were given to the king's son-in-law, Walter, 8th hereditary lord high steward of Scotland, whose son, Robert, was afterwards king, and the second of the name, in right of his mother, Margery Bruce, daughter of Robert I.
   The lordship of Methven was granted by Robert II. to Walter Stuart, earl of Atholl, his second son, after whose forfeiture it remained in the crown for a considerable time. It was part of the dowry lands usually assigned for the maintenance of the queen dowager of Scotland, and, together with the lordship and castle of Stirling, and the lands of Balquhidder, was settled on Margaret, eldest daughter of Henry VII. of England, and queen dowager of James IV., and who, in the year 1524, married Henry Stewart, for whom she procured a peerage from her son, James V., in 1528. On this occasion the barony of Methven was separated from the crown, and erected into a lordship in favour of Henry Stewart and his heirs male, the queen resigning her jointure of the lordship of Stirling. The Stewarts, lords Methven, however, very shortly became extinct. In the right of Margaret, as eldest daughter of Henry VII., James VI. of Scotland, her great-grandson, succeeded to the English crown on the death of Queen Elizabeth; she died at the castle of Methven in 1540, and was buried at Perth, beside the body of King James I. In 1584, the lordship of Methven and Balquhidder was conferred on Lodowick, Duke of Lennox; but it was purchased in 1664 by Patrick Smythe, of Braco, great-grandfather of the late Lord Methven, from Charles, the last duke, who dying without issue in 1672, his honours fell to Charles II., as nearest male heir, the king's great-grandfather and the duke's being brothers. While the estate was in the crown, various lands were granted in feu to different persons; and the feu-duties are now paid to Robert Smythe, Esq., successor to the late Lord Methven, as proprietor of the lordship. Among the other events connected with the parish is the defeat in this part of Robert Bruce, soon after his coronation in 1306, by the English army under the command of Aylmer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke. The first religious establishment here was a collegiate church founded in 1433, by Walter Stewart, Earl of Atholl, who largely endowed it with lands and tithes; it consisted of a provost and five prebendaries; and an aisle which was connected with it is now the burial-place of the ancient family of Smythe.
   The mean length of the parish is five miles, and its breadth between three and four. It contains 10,700 acres, and is bounded on the north and east chiefly by the river Almond; on the south by a small stream called the Pow, which separates it from the parishes of Madderty, Findogask, and Tibbermore; and on the west by the parish of Fowlis Wester. The surface consists of hollows and rising grounds, and from the good cultivation, and the several flourishing plantations, presents a pleasing, and in some parts a picturesque appearance. The Almond, the only river, crosses a small portion merely of the parish, but runs for a considerable distance along its boundary; it receives numerous streams from the steep and rugged mountains near which it passes, and after a bold and rapid course, joins the Tay two and a half miles above Perth. About 260 acres of natural wood ornament the vicinity of this river, consisting chiefly of oak, and are regularly cut and thinned as a coppice. The prevailing soil is clay; but there are considerable tracts of loamy and gravelly earth, with moorish soil resting upon till. About 8600 acres are cultivated or occasionally in tillage; the natural wood and plantations cover 1750 acres; 250 are moorland, and 100 moss. All kinds of grain are produced, as well as of green crops; the land is in general of tolerable quality, and subjected to the most improved system of husbandry. Bone-dust and guano are employed for turnips; but lime is the manure principally in use, and, as it is liberally applied, great advantages are derived from it. Potatoes, especially the Perthshire-red sort, are extensively cultivated for the London market; and mangelwurzel is raised in considerable quantities. Improvements have been long gradually advancing. Towards the north, a tract of 1000 acres, which fifty years ago was a common, is now divided and fenced, and in a high state of cultivation; and the extensive drainage carried on, and the plantations formed within the present century, have alike improved the appearance of the parish, increased its productive powers, and ameliorated the severity or insalubrity of the climate. The rateable annual value of Methven now amounts to £10,600.
   The rocks belong to the old red sandstone or trap groups. In the line of the river Almond they are generally of a bright red colour, spotted with grey, but too soft and friable for the purposes of building, containing large proportions of clay and lime. At the bridge of Lynedoch, however, they are of a pale grey colour, thick-bedded and fine-grained, remarkably hard, and well suited for architectural purposes. Several trap-dykes, of the greenstone class, cross the country, and are usefully quarried for roads and causeways. Among the seats in the parish is Balgowan, a residence of the late Lord Lynedoch; and near the river is Lynedoch House, another mansion of his lordship's, romantically situated, and celebrated for the beautiful scenery by which it is surrounded. The chief seat, however, is Methven Castle, standing upon an eminence in the midst of the park, where it is said that Bruce was defeated by the Earl of Pembroke; it is an ancient baronial building, finished in 1680, and subsequently improved and enlarged by several proprietors. In the adjacent grounds is an oak of gigantic stature and great beauty, called the Pepperwell Oak; the trunk measures seventeen and a half feet in girth at three feet above the ground, and the solid contents of the tree amount to 700 cubic feet. The chief villages are Methven and Almond-Bank, near the latter of which, at Wood-end, is a weaving establishment fitted up with power-looms, in which a large number of persons are engaged. The population of the village of Methven are chiefly occupied in hand-loom weaving, the work being supplied by resident agents employed by Perth and Glasgow houses. The north road from Perth to Glasgow, via Crieff, passes through Methven, and, with the numerous county roads intersecting the parish, furnishes considerable facilities of communication; the mail travels daily on the great road, upon which, also, there is a daily coach to and from Perth and Glasgow. All the roads are kept in good order. There is a penny-post connected with the post-office at Perth; and markets are held on the first Thursday in May, and fourth Thursday in October, chiefly for the sale of cattle.
   The ecclesiastical affairs are directed by the presbytery of Perth and synod of Perth and Stirling; patron, Robert Smythe, Esq., of Methven Castle. The stipend of the minister is £274, with a manse, an elegant edifice built in 1830, and a glebe of fifteen acres of good land, valued at £30 per annum, besides ten acres of moor. The church, built in 1782, is a large, substantial, and convenient edifice, containing 1100 sittings: an aisle was built at the expense of the patron in 1825, when was also added a beautiful spire, nearly a hundred feet high, with a public clock. There is a meeting-house in connexion with the United Associate synod, as well as one belonging to the Free Church. A parochial school is maintained, in which Latin and practical mathematics, with all the ordinary branches of education, are taught; the master has the maximum salary, with a house, and fees amounting to about £25 or £30 a year. There is a school at Almond-Bank, supported by Mr. Smythe; also a school in the village of Methven, supported by the Secession Congregation. A public subscription library here is in a flourishing condition. As a curiosity, may be mentioned a noble and venerable ash known by the name of the Bell-tree, which stands in the churchyard, and is supposed to be coeval with the first religious establishment in the parish. It measures twenty feet in circumference at three and a half feet from the ground, and a few years ago exhibited much magnificent foliage, which, however, latterly has manifested symptoms of the withering hand of time. From the estate of Lynedoch, the late General Sir Thomas Graham took his title of Baron Lynedoch, in the peerage of the United Kingdom, to which dignity he was raised on the 3rd of May, 1814, in reward of his eminent services in the peninsular war, and particularly his brilliant victory at Barrosa, March 6, 1811. His lordship died on the 18th of December, 1843, in the 94th year of his age.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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