- TARVES, a parish, in the county of Aberdeen, 17 miles (N. N. W.) from Aberdeen; containing 2397 inhabitants. The level appearance and fertility of this place are supposed to have led to the adoption of its present name, derived from two Gaelic words. At a very remote period the parish was made a regality, over which the abbots of Arbroath were appointed superiors; and one of the abbots accordingly, in the year 1299, by virtue of his office, claimed a culprit from the king's justiciary at Aberdeen. Near the time of the Reformation, the regality passed to James Gordon, of Haddo, ancestor of the Earl of Aberdeen, one of whose titles is Baron of Tarves, and who takes that of Viscount of Formartine from the district of that name, in which this parish is wholly situated, with the exception of a small portion in the district of Buchan. Tarves is about eleven and a half miles in extreme length, and six and a half at its greatest breadth, and comprises above 12,000 acres, of which nearly 11,000 are arable and good pasture, 1000 woodland, and the remainder moss and moor. The surface, though distinguished chiefly by several extensive levels, is diversified and ornamented by some pleasing undulations, slopes, and acclivities of moderate elevation; and the lower grounds are watered by numerous rivulets, carrying off the drainage, and emptying themselves into the river Ythan. This stream divides the parish into two portions, by far the larger being situated on the southern side, and both now belonging to the Earl of Aberdeen.The soil varies considerably; that which is most general is a good fertile loam, of brown hue, resting on a stony clay, and sometimes broken through by the crags of the substratum. The neighbourhood of the streams is covered with alluvial mould, and in other parts a tenacious earth is found interspersed with patches of peat-moss. The crops usually raised are, barley, oats, bear, turnips, potatoes, and cultivated grasses; the potatoes are grown only in small quantities for home consumption, but the turnip husbandry is practised to a considerable extent, and with much success, the drill system being universally employed, and the first manure being farm-yard dung, followed by bone-dust. The grain is of excellent quality, and the crops heavy; and the pastures, covered with white clover spontaneously produced, are rich and prolific. The district shares in the general celebrity of the county, for the number and superiority of its cattle, which are fattened, and sold at about three years of age to the graziers at Aberdeen, or sent by steamers to London, and disposed of at Smithfield market. The long-horned Aberdeenshire cattle, formerly prevailing here, have given place to the polled Buchan, which have been crossed by those of Galloway; there are also some crosses between these and the Teeswater breed. The agriculture throughout the parish has undergone a total change since the latter part of the last century; the lower grounds, where the stagnant waters rendered the operations of the plough impracticable, have been well drained, and the higher parts cleaned, well prepared for the various sowings, and preserved by good inclosures. The quantity of arable land has been more than doubled; the produce has increased in a ten-fold degree; and the scythe, having been found far more economical, is used instead of the sickle for cutting the grain, which is usually threshed by the farmers at mills erected on their own premises. The farm houses and offices on most of the lands south of the river have lately been rebuilt with stone and lime, and these two articles have been also extensively used in agricultural improvement; the stone, which is abundant in the parish, in the construction of numerous fences; and the lime, which is imported in large quantities, for manuring the land. The rocks are of the primitive formation, and consist chiefly of granite and gneiss in alternate beds, sometimes found at a great depth, and at other places rising above the surface; besides which there is a range of mountain limestone in the eastern quarter. The lands were formerly interspersed with massive blocks of blue sienite, which for a long period greatly harassed the husbandman; but by skill, and much labour and perseverance, these have been gradually, and nearly all, removed. The rateable annual value of the parish is £7610.The mansion of Schivas, situated on the north side of the Ythan, and once the residence of the proprietor of that portion of the parish, is ornamented with several fine beech-trees, and a large and beautiful plane, planted, according to tradition, by a daughter of the Gray family. The Grays were Roman Catholics, and their ancestor, 200 years since, built the house, the present dining-room of which was their private chapel; it still exhibits a cross, in a recess where the altar once stood, with the inscription I. H. S. Jesus hominum salrator, and there is also a niche in which the eucharistal elements and the holy water were kept. Good turnpike-roads run from Tarves to Aberdeen, and the sea-port of Newburgh, ten miles distant, at both which places a market is found for the farm produce; and from the latter, supplies of English lime are brought up the river Ythan, in lighters, to a place named Waterton, six miles from Tarves, and, on account of the good condition of the parish roads, are easily sent in every direction. There are six ancient markets, or fairs, for horses, cattle, and grain. The parish is in the presbytery of Ellon, synod of Aberdeen, and in the patronage of the Earl of Aberdeen: the minister's stipend is £192, of which about £30 are received from the heritors by a private agreement; with a manse, and a glebe of four acres, valued at £10. 10. per annum. The church was built in 1798, and repaired and improved about 1823; it is a spacious and comfortable edifice, accommodating 870 persons with sittings. There is a place of worship for Seceders at Craigdam. The parochial school affords instruction in the usual branches; the master has a salary of £28, with a house and garden, £23 fees, and an allowance of about £35 from the Dick bequest. A school is supported at Craigdam by the bequest of a person named Barron, whose legacy of £600 produces £18 per annum, which sum is given as a salary to the master; and the Earl of Aberdeen allows to the master of a school at Barthol chapel, a house, and a piece of land. The chief antiquity is the castle of Tolquhon, the seat of the ancient family of Forbes, built about 1589, and now a ruin; it is a quadrangular structure, inclosing a spacious area, and entered by an arched gateway defended by two towers with loop-holes for the discharge of arrows, and stands nearly shrouded in wood, among which are some very fine old yews.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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