- MONQUHITTER, a parish, in the district of Turriff, county of Aberdeen, 6 miles (E.) from Turriff; containing, with the villages of Cuminestown and Garmond, 2074 inhabitants. The farm on which the church was originally built was termed Montquhitter, or Monquhitter, a word signifying "the place for ensnaring the deer;" and from this the district, which was disjoined from the parish of Turriff in 1649, took its name. The parish is about ten miles in length from north to south, and seven or eight in breadth; and comprises 20,000 acres, of which two-thirds are in tillage, 300 in plantations, and the remainder partly swampy ground and moss, the latter, however, supplying abundance of very superior peat for fuel. The surface presents, to a great extent, a series of undulations; but the scenery is in general rather uninviting, the hills being bleak and barren, with but very little wood, and a part of the lower grounds undrained. The small stream of Asleed, running towards the south, separates this parish from those of New Deer and Methlick, and falls into the river Ythan; and another stream, called the Water of Idoch, giving its name to a valley, flows by the church and near the village of Cuminestown, and, passing westerly to the parish of Turriff, where it takes the name of Turriff, falls into the Doveran. Both these streams are augmented in their course by numerous tributary rivulets, and are well stocked with small fine-flavoured trout. The soil on the cultivated grounds consists of two distinct kinds, the one a reddish loam, and the other a black mould of considerable depth, and both incumbent on a clayey subsoil interspersed with pebbles. Among other crops, oats of excellent quality are produced; and the newly-ploughed lands, after being well limed, bear ryegrass and clover in perfection: but the richer description of grass-pasture is not to be found here, the disposition of the land to return to a state of heath, with which the parish was formerly covered, rendering it impossible to keep it long exempt from tillage. The breeds of sheep, which, however, are not much attended to, are mostly the black-faced; and of cattle, a cross between the Buchan and Teeswater is preferred, the Teeswater and Galloway, which have been frequently tried, not having succeeded so well on account of the nature of the climate, the want of shelter, and the inferiority of the pasture. The cropping-system and the best farming are practised; and the reclaiming of waste land has been much furthered by the introduction of guano manure, which is extensively used on all the grounds. The facility, also, of exporting cattle to London by steam navigation has given a powerful impulse to the efforts of those employed in breeding and fattening beasts for the market, where they usually obtain a superior price. The farm-houses, which are thatched in general with straw or heather, are small, but adapted to the size of the farms. The substratum of the parish is formed of a soft kind of red sandstone, much mixed with iron-ore: the stone is raised in large blocks, and used for building; but on account of its friable character when exposed to the weather, it is not in much esteem. The rateable annual value of Monquhitter is £5419.The only mansion is Auchry, a plain edifice, purchased in 1830, with the estates, by the present proprietor from the family of Joseph Cumine, Esq., who, in 1739, commenced extensive improvements in this district in every branch of husbandry, and was distinguished for the impulse which he gave to agricultural pursuits throughout the whole of the north of Scotland. He also founded the village of Cuminestown, where, with some other gentlemen, he established a linen manufacture, now extinct. Many females, a few years since, were employed in flax-spinning and the knitting of stockings; but the former of these branches has been nearly suspended in consequence of the cheapness of spun flax imported from Germany and Holland. Besides the village of Cuminestown, the parish contains that of Garmond; and a daily post has been established by the influence of the present proprietor of Auchry, who, in conjunction with others, has projected a turnpike-road through Cuminestown, which is expected to prove of great benefit, the whole of the roads in the district being in very bad condition. The grain raised here is forwarded for sale to the sea-ports of Banff and Macduff, both about fourteen miles distant, whence lime and coal are brought in return. The cattle are sold at the markets of Turriff, New Deer, and other places; and the dairy produce is disposed of to general dealers resident here, who send it to Aberdeen and Leith. An annual fair is held at Cuminestown, for cattle and horses, on the last Thursday in April or the first in May; and the proprietor has established several other markets. The parish is in the presbytery of Turriff and synod of Aberdeen, and in the patronage of the Earl of Fife: the minister's stipend is £191, with a manse, and a glebe of ten acres, valued at £18 per annum. The church, situated conveniently near the villages, is an unadorned and uncomfortable edifice, accommodating 1000 persons, built in 1764, and increased by the addition of an aisle in 1792. A chapel of ease was erected in 1833, in Fyvie, for the benefit of the remote parts of that parish and Monquhitter, a district of the latter, containing 195 persons, having been ecclesiastically annexed to it. There is a small episcopal chapel, and the members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school affords instruction in the usual branches; the master receives a salary of £34, and £23. 10. fees, and also shares in the Dick bequest. The minister of the parish has the patronage of a bursary at King's College, Aberdeen, founded by the late Mr. James Cruickshank. There is a subscription library; and poor householders who are not paupers have the benefit of a charitable bequest of £200 by Mr. Grieve, the proceeds of which are annually distributed. A savings' bank, instituted a few years since, is in a flourishing condition, with a stock of about £2000.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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