- LONMAY, a parish, in the district of Deer, county of Aberdeen, 6 miles (S. E. by S.) from Fraserburgh; containing, with the village of St. Combs, 1919 inhabitants. The name of this place is supposed to have been derived from a word in the Celtic language descriptive of the nature of the ground, especially of that part of Lonmay where the church stands. The parish is about nine and a half miles long, and varies in breadth from half a mile to three miles and a half, containing 8766 Scotch acres. It is bounded on the north-east by the German Ocean; on the north-west by the parish of Rathen; on the west by Strichen; on the south by the parishes of Deer and Longside; and on the east by Crimond. The sea-shore is flat and sandy, without bay or headland; and the interior of the parish consists, with the exception of two or three moderate ridges, of two extensive plains, of which the northern contains the estates of Cairness, Craigellie, Lonmay, Blairmormond, and part of Inveralochy and Crimonmogate. The chief portion of this division is well cultivated, and ornamented with flourishing plantations of various kinds of trees, extending over upwards of 200 acres: the waters of Strathbeg loch cover about 500 acres in the division. The southern plain, the surface of which is higher and more unequal, comprehends part of Crimonmogate, and the estates of Park and Kinninmonth. Two very extensive peat-mosses are situated in this district, belonging to the properties of Kinninmonth and Crimonmogate, and connected with other large mosses in Strichen and Crimond.A branch of the river Ugie runs between Lonmay and the parishes of Deer and Longside; and the estuary of the Moray Frith is considered as commencing at the north-eastern boundary of the parish. The lake of Strathbeg, covering about 550 acres, has nine-tenths of its extent, as already observed, within Lonmay, and the other tenth stands in the parish of Crimond; its average depth is three and a half feet, and its greatest depth about six and a half. The waters have sunk considerably during the last thirty years, having been in 1817 four feet higher than at the present time. Upwards of forty years ago, an attempt was made to drain the loch; but, after great expense had been incurred, it was rendered abortive by the open canals cut for the purpose being blocked up by drifting sand. There are a few small islands in the loch; but its scenery is in general barren and uninteresting. It contains, however, numerous kinds of fish, among which are, red and yellow trout, perch, flounders, and very fine eels. In the neighbouring sea are found red and white cod, ling, haddock, soles, John-dories, turbot, dog-fish, and coal-fish; the whales named Finners are also occasional visiters, and there are large quantities of herrings during the season.The soil is generally light and sandy, of dark hue, and resting upon a hard bed of red sand with a large admixture of iron-ore; in some parts, however, the land is clayey, and in a few places partakes of the nature of loam. The number of acres cultivated or in pasture is 6488; in wood 222; and waste, moss, moor, and stony land, 2056; making the total of 8766, of which nearly 700 acres of those now waste are considered capable of cultivation. Grain is raised to a great extent, though the soil is most suited to grasses and turnips. A regular rotation of cropping has long prevailed; that which is most approved of is the seven-years' shift. Much benefit has also been derived from the extensive use of bonedust manure, which answers for surface-dressing the pasture and for sown grasses, but chiefly for green crops. Near the coast, compost is mixed with sea-weed, and employed for fallow ground. Very large quantities of land have been reclaimed from waste; good stone inclosures have been raised, and roads have been constructed for local convenience; but the most prominent feature in the improvements is the introduction of trenchploughing. The farm-steadings, also, once very indifferent, have to a considerable extent been placed on a much better footing. The cattle of the parish were originally the celebrated Buchan breed, with a kind produced by crossing the Highland small-horned bull with the larger native cow. These, however, were displaced by a preference given to the polled-cattle, which prevailed during the present century till within the last fifteen years, and always fetched the first price in the London market. Crosses of the short-horned are now preferred; they obtain an excellent price, and vast numbers of them are sent from the parish and the rest of Buchan to London, either by steamers from the city of Aberdeen, or by sailing vessels from the ports of Peterhead and Fraserburgh. The sheep, which are a mixed breed, have a coat of fine and heavy wool, and the flesh is well flavoured, but not equal to that of the black or white faced Highland sheep, many of which are annually imported, and fattened for the market. On the estate of Crimonmogate are some South-Downs and Lincolns, and a number of half-bred English sheep. The small draught-horses formerly in use, six or eight of which were joined to the plough, have yielded to a very superior race, distinguished by bulk and symmetry, and a pair of which are sufficient for turning the soil. The horses for the saddle are also very much improved in their character, great pains having been taken by some of the resident gentry to effect this object. Considerable numbers of pigs are reared, some of which are a cross of the Bedford and Westphalia, and the Orkney and Chinese. The rateable annual value of the parish is £5443.Among the mansion-houses, that on the estate of Cairness holds a prominent place. The porch, supported by four Ionic pillars, and the carved cornices, are of granite obtained from the parish of Longside: the body of the fabric is built of greenstone dug on the estate. It was finished in 1799, at an expense of about £25,000. Another extensive and elegant mansion, on the Crimonmogate property, was erected a few years ago at a cost of upwards of £10,000. The only village is St. Combs, situated at the north-eastern extremity of Lonmay, by the sea-side, and principally inhabited by fishermen: the main part of the population are scattered over the parish. The manufacture of kelp, formerly carried on to a considerable extent, is now at a very low ebb, in consequence of the free importation of barilla; about twenty tons were annually made, and the rent of the kelp-shore averaged £50 per annum. There are two annual fairs, one in spring, and the other in autumn, for cattle and sheep and for hiring farm-servants. Thirteen boats are employed in the herring-fishery, and about the same number for ordinary white-fishing. The turnpike-road from Peterhead to Banff, by Fraserburgh, traverses Lonmay for about a mile and a half; and another, from Fraserburgh to Aberdeen, by Mintlaw, runs from north to south for nearly six miles through the parish. A mail-coach passes daily to the south; and there are two stage-coaches, one from Peterhead to Banff, by Mintlaw, and the other between Peterhead and Fraserburgh.The ecclesiastical affairs are subject to the presbytery of Deer and synod of Aberdeen; patron, Gordon, of Buthlaw. The stipend of the minister is averaged at £226, with a manse, erected in 1824, and a glebe of thirteen acres, valued at £18. 15. per annum. The church, which was built in 1787 upon a new site, is pretty conveniently situated, though more than seven miles from the southern boundary of the parish; it contains 680 sittings, and is in good repair. Originally the church stood by the sea-side, near the village of St. Combs; in 1607 it was removed to the spot which is now occupied as a burial-ground, where it remained till the present edifice was erected. There is an additional parochial church at Kinninmonth built by voluntary contributions, and through the aid afforded by the Church-extension committee of the General Assembly, in consequence of an application made in March, 1836, to the presbytery of Deer for another place of worship on account of the great distance of many parishioners from the parish church. It accommodates about 400 persons, and a preacher is appointed, who has a cottage near the church; divine worship is regularly performed, and the services are well attended. There is also an episcopal chapel, built in 1797, the minister of which is paid from the seat-rents; it contains 342 sittings. Three parochial schools are maintained, in all of which the usual branches of education are taught; and in the chief school, in addition to these, instruction is given in mathematics, navigation, and Latin. The salaries are £28, £13, and £10, a year respectively; each of the masters has in addition his fees, respectively £23, £21, and £15; and the three together have £25 annually from the Dick bequest. The only antiquities are, a Druidical circle at Crimonmogate, and the site of an old castle called the Castle of Lonmay, near the sea, the materials of which have been used in building farm-houses. There are several chalybeate springs.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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