MONIMAIL, a parish, in the district of Cupar, county of Fife; including the villages of Easter Fernie and Letham, and containing 1162 inhabitants, of whom 117 are in the village of Monimail, 5½ miles (W.) from Cupar. The name of this place is of uncertain derivation, but most probably of Celtic origin. The archbishops of St. Andrew's had a palace here, which was occasionally their summer residence; and there is still remaining an ancient tower, supposed to have been added to the original building by Cardinal Beaton, who resided at Monimail in 1562. The parish is of elliptical form, extending at its extreme length for about six miles, and in its greatest breadth to about five miles; and comprises 6000 acres, of which 3000 are arable, 2000 meadow and pasture, and 500 woodland and plantations. The surface is varied, rising in the northern part into a continuous range of hills, of which that called Mount Hill is the highest, and in the southern part forming a broad tract of nearly level ground, intersected by numerous streamlets which fall into the river Eden. The soil consists generally of decomposed rock and vegetable earth, interspersed with occasional beds of clay, but in some parts comprises sand and gravel. The system of agriculture is improved, and the rotation plan of husbandry prevails, with due regard to the quality of the soil; the crops are, barley, oats, wheat, turnips, and potatoes, of which last great quantities are raised, and shipped for the London market. The pastures are usually good, and great attention is paid to the rearing of cattle, which are of the Fifeshire, Ayrshire, and Teeswater breeds; the Fifeshire are preferred for breeding, and the Ayrshire for the dairy. Few sheep are reared; but considerable numbers of the Cheviot and black-faced breeds are bought in the autumn, and fed on turnips during the winter. The lands are well drained and fenced, and the farm houses and offices substantial and commodious. The rateable annual value of the parish is £9463.
   The plantations, principally on the lands belonging to the gentlemen's seats, consist of Scotch fir, larch, beech, oak, ash, elm, and plane; they are well managed and generally thriving. The substratum in the north of the parish is mostly whinstone, and in the south, sandstone: there are strata of coal in several parts, but no works have been opened, and the principal fuel is therefore brought from Markinch and Dysart. Melville, the property of the Earl of Leven and Melville, is an elegant modern mansion, beautifully situated in a well-disposed demesne embellished with plantations. Fernie Castle is an ancient structure of great strength, and said to have been one of the castles of Macduff: not far distant is Mount Hill, on the summit of which is a lofty and stately column more than 100 feet in height, erected to the memory of the late Lord Hopetoun, and which forms a conspicuous and interesting object in the landscape. Cunoquhie is finely situated in a richly-planted demesne; and Balgarvie is also a handsome edifice with grounds tastefully embellished. The weaving of linen is carried on extensively at the village of Letham, affording employment to a great number of persons, who work with hand-looms in their own dwellings. Communication with the principal towns in the district is facilitated by good roads, of which three several branches pass through the parish. There are two parochial libraries, one containing a well-chosen collection of volumes on general literature, and the other exclusively appropriated to religious subjects. Monimail is within the presbytery of Cupar and synod of Fife, and in the patronage of the Earl of Leven: the minister's stipend is £272. 10. 3., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £12 per annum. The church, which is inconveniently situated near one extremity of the parish, is a handsome building with a tower; it was erected in 1796, and affords accommodation for a congregation of 600 persons. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school is well attended; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with £24 fees, and a house and garden. There are four other schools, which are supported partly by private subscription, and partly by the fees.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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