- MONTROSE, a royal burgh, sea-port, and parish, in the county of Forfar; containing 15,096 inhabitants, of whom 13,402 are in the burgh, 21 miles (E. N. E.) from Forfar, and 72 (N. E. by N.) from Edinburgh. This place, anciently called Celurca, is supposed to have derived its present name from the Gaelic Main Ross, signifying "a promontory in the fens;" though the device of the town-seal apparently favours the fanciful derivation from the Latin Mons Rosarum, or "the Mount of Roses." The town, which is situated on a peninsular eminence in the German Sea, is of remote antiquity; it seems to have received a charter from David I., conferring upon it all the privileges of a royal burgh; and though there is no authentic record of its early history, it appears to have been identified with many incidents of historical importance. In 1330, Sir James Douglas, attended by a numerous and splendid retinue, embarked at this port, bearing with him the heart of Robert the Bruce, to be deposited in the holy sepulchre at Jerusalem. In 1493, the inhabitants of Montrose suffered so much oppression from John Erskine, Lord of Dun, that the magistrates of the burgh, on petition to James IV., obtained a summons from the king, commanding his appearance before the council at Edinburgh. In 1534, the study of Greek was introduced into the schools of Scotland by John Erskine, grandson of the former, and associate of John Knox in promoting the Reformation, who established in the burgh school a teacher of that language, whom he had brought from the continent. James Graham, the celebrated Marquess of Montrose, at one time a resolute champion for the Covenant, but subsequently a zealous adherent of Charles I., was born here in 1612. In February, 1716, the Pretender embarked at this port, on the failure of his enterprise, with the Earl of Mar and a single attendant, for the continent.The town is situated on the western shore of the peninsula, bounded on the east by the German Sea, and on the south by an outlet from the bay of Montrose formed by an expansion of the South Esk, which bay bounds the town on the west. It consists of one spacious street called the High-street, and of several other wellformed streets, among which are Castle-street, Murraystreet, and Bridge-street, the last leading to the suspension-bridge which connects the town with the island of Inch-Brayock, in the entrance of the bay. To the northeast of the town are the Links, about four miles in circuit, supposed to have been originally covered by the sea, and to which a communication was opened from John-street in 1830, and by Union-street, a handsome range of houses, in 1838. The streets are well paved, and lighted with gas; and the inhabitants are amply supplied with excellent water conveyed by pipes from springs in the parish of Dun. A public subscription library, established in 1785, has a valuable collection of several thousand volumes; and a reading society was formed in 1819, which has a library of nearly 2000 volumes. A commercial reading and news room, and also the Exchange Coffee-house, are well supplied with daily journals and periodical publications; and two weekly newspapers are published in the town. Subscription assemblies are held in a handsome suite of rooms. A horticultural society was formed in 1825, and is well supported; and a natural and antiquarian society, established in 1837, has a museum containing a collection of specimens in zoology, mineralogy, geology, and antiquities.The principal manufactures carried on are the spinning of flax and weaving. There are five mills for spinning linen yarn, of which four are driven by steam-engines of 120-horse power in the aggregate, and the other, on the North Esk, driven by water; there are also two belonging to houses in the town, but within the parish of Logie-Pert, producing about 300,000 spindles yearly. The articles chiefly woven are, sheetings, dowlas, ducks, canvas, Osnaburghs, bagging, sacking, and tarpaulins, of which 25,000 pieces are annually made in the town, exclusively of large quantities in branch establishments. There are a foundry, two establishments for the manufacture of machinery in which steam-power is employed, two tanneries, two roperies, and sail-cloth manufactories, two manufactories for candles, one for soap, and one for starch, five breweries, a meal and a flour mill, and establishments for making bricks and tiles. Ship-building is also carried on to a considerable extent, and there is a patent-slip for repairing vessels. There are salmonfisheries in the rivers; and great quantities of cod and other white-fish are taken off the coast, and, after being dried, sent to the English markets. The trade of the port consists chiefly in the export of grain and other agricultural produce, and manufactured goods, chiefly sent coastwise; and in the importation of flax, hemp, tallow, timber, and deals, from foreign ports, and, as the port has now the privilege of bonding, wines and foreign spirits for the supply of the adjacent districts. The number of vessels registered as belonging to the port in 1843 was 209, of the aggregate burthen of 23,596 tons; and the amount of duties paid at the custom-house was £28,523. The jurisdiction of the port extends from the Lights of Tay, on the south, to Todhead, on the north, including Arbroath. The harbour, which might be made one of the best on the eastern coast of Scotland, has a depth of eighteen feet water on the bar at the entrance, at the ebb of the spring-tides; and is accessible to large vessels, except during strong easterly gales. The isle of Inch-Brayock is connected with the southern shore by a swivel-bridge, affording a passage for vessels to Old Montrose, where is a pier for landing coal and lime; and with the main land on the north by an elegant suspension-bridge erected in 1829, at a cost of £20,000, from a design by Sir Samuel Brown, of the Royal Navy. After a severe gale in 1838, which destroyed a great portion of the suspension-bridge, it was speedily repaired at an expense of £3000, by Mr. J. M. Rendel, civil engineer. The towers from which the chains that sustain the platform are suspended, are seventy-one feet in height, and the distance between them 432 feet; the breadth of the platform is twenty-six feet within the rods, and on each side of the central roadway is a footpath, separated by an iron palisade. The quays and warehouses are commodiously arranged, and substantially built. A wet-dock has been constructed, capable of receiving 6000 tons of shipping; and two lighthouses have been erected below the harbour: in the larger, to which a life-boat is attached, and where the lightkeeper resides, are accommodations for the reception and recovery of shipwrecked mariners.By charters of David I. and II., confirmed and extended by charter of James IV., dated 1493, the government of the burgh is vested in a provost, three bailies, a dean of guild, treasurer, master of the hospital, and twelve others, forming a council of nineteen. There are seven incorporated trades, viz., the blacksmiths, wrights, shoemakers, weavers, masons and slaters, bakers, and tailors. The fees of admission into the trades, for strangers vary from £5 to £10, for sons and sons-in-law of burgesses from £2 to £5, and for apprentices from £3 to £6; and of admission as members of the guildry, £16. 16. for strangers, £10. 10. for apprentices, and £8. 8. for sons and sons-in-law of guild members. The magistrates exercise jurisdiction within the burgh, in civil cases to any amount, and in criminal cases chiefly for misdemeanors; they hold a bailie-court weekly, in which they are assisted by their town-clerk, who acts as assessor. The town-hall, situated in High-street, contains the guildhall, council-room, the courts, and a coffee-room and public library; and a new gaol has recently been built, well adapted to the purpose. The burgh is associated with those of Forfar, Brechin, Arbroath, and Bervie, in returning a member to the imperial parliament; the number of qualified voters is about 475. The post-office has a good delivery; and there are branches of the National Bank, the British Linen Company's Bank, and the Eastern and Western Banks. The market is on Friday, and is well supplied with grain and other agricultural produce, of which great quantities are shipped from the port; and fairs are held annually at Whitsuntide and Martinmas, chiefly for hiring servants. Facility of communication is afforded by excellent roads; and the Aberdeen steam-boats, for seven months in the year, touch at the port, taking in goods and passengers.The parish, which is bounded on the east by the German Sea, and on the north and south by the North and South Esk respectively, is about three miles in length and nearly of equal breadth; comprising 3900 acres, of which, with the exception of the beach and some steep acclivities, the whole is arable and in good cultivation. The surface is generally level, with a gradual ascent towards the north-west, from the summit of which, though of inconsiderable elevation, the view of the basin of Montrose, a circular sheet of water nearly three miles in diameter, and of the adjacent country, abounding with handsome mansions and pleasing villas, is strikingly beautiful. The soil in the lower parts is sandy, and in the higher light and thin; but it has been much bettered by good management, and some tracts of moorland and moss have been brought into profitable cultivation. The crops are, grain of all kinds, with potatoes and turnips, and the various grasses: the green crops, from the high prices they obtain, are raised in great abundance. The system of husbandry has been much improved; round the houses of the principal proprietors, plantations of different sorts of forest-trees have been formed; and in the north-west are plantations of fir. The substratum is principally limestone, of which there is a quarry on the lands of Hedderwick; but for building and other purposes stone is chiefly brought from Brechin. The rateable annual value of the parish is £28,845.The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Brechin and synod of Angus and Mearns. There are two charges. The minister of the first charge has a stipend of £295. 5. 10., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £20 per annum; patron, the Crown. The minister of the second charge has a stipend of £340, without either manse or glebe; patrons, the Magistrates and Town-council. The parish church, with the exception of the tower, was rebuilt in 1791, and was repaired in 1832, when the old steeple, being thought insecure, was taken down, and replaced by a handsome square embattled tower surmounted with a lofty spire, at a cost of £3000. The interior, which is well arranged, has two tiers of galleries, and contains 2500 sittings. The church dedicated to St. John was originally built as a chapel of ease, in 1829, at an expense of £3969, by subscription: in 1834 an ecclesiastical district, including a population of 4999, was assigned it by act of the General Assembly, forming the late quoad sacra parish of St. John. The structure is neat and substantial, and contains 1500 sittings; the minister's stipend is £150, derived from the seatrents and collections. There are two Episcopalian chapels, one of which, dedicated to St. Peter, is in strict connexion with the Church of England; and also places of worship for members of the Free Church, the United Secession, Baptists, Independents, and Wesleyans. The Montrose academy is under the direction of a rector, who teaches the mathematics, geography, and French; two teachers of the Latin, and two of the English, language; and two teachers for writing and arithmetic. The salary of the rector is £50, in addition to his fees, which are considerable; of the first Latin master, £40, with fees, and of the second, £50 from a bequest by Mr. Erskine; of the first English master, £40, and of the second, £25; the salary of the writing masters, £25 each, in addition to their several fees. The number of children attending the academy averages 350. There are also a school for eighty children, assisted by the Kirk Session, and of which the master has a house and garden, and a payment of £2 per annum, in addition to the fees; a free school founded by Mr. David White, of which the master has a salary of £36, with a house and garden; and another, founded by Miss Stratton, of which the master and mistress divide between them the interest of £900 bequeathed by that lady. In these two last about 175 children are gratuitously taught; and there is a school erected by the trades, of which the masters have the house, but no salary. There are likewise numerous private schools, supported exclusively by the fees; and various Sabbath schools.The lunatic asylum, with which were formerly connected the infirmary and dispensary, was erected in 1779, and has been subsequently enlarged and improved; it was incorporated by royal charter in 1811, and placed under the direction of the provost, first bailie, parish ministers, and principal inhabitants of the town, and under the immediate care of a keeper, matron, and resident medical attendant. In 1838, the infirmary and dispensary were detached from the asylum; and a handsome building was erected for the purpose, at a cost of £2500, to the west of the bridge. The funds of the ancient hospital of the Grey Friars were appropriated to the use of the poor, and are now vested in the town-council, producing about £280 per annum, which sum is distributed in monthly payments. The poor have also some bequests varying from £100 to £1000 each, made by charitable individuals, and a bequest of £3000 by John Erskine, Esq., in 1786, of which £50 per annum were for an additional teacher in the academy, and the remainder to be divided among eight orphans of the school, each of whom receives from the fund about £17 per annum. The same benefactor bequeathed £2000 for ten poor families, each of which receives an annual payment of £12. 12. Dorwood's House of Refuge was founded in 1839 by William Dorwood, Esq., of this town, who gave £10,000 towards its erection and endowment, and £600 for additional buildings and furniture. The buildings form a handsome structure in the ancient English style of architecture, and are adapted to the reception of 200 inmates; the institution is under the superintendence of twenty-four trustees. Montrose gives the title of Duke to the family of Graham.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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