NAIRN, a royal burgh, a parish, and the seat of a presbytery, in the county of Nairn; containing, with the village of Seatown of Delnies, 3393 inhabitants, of whom 2672 are in the burgh, 15½ miles (N. E. by E.) from Inverness, and 167 (N. N. W.) from Edinburgh. This place, which is of considerable antiquity, is said to have been originally founded by William the Lion, and derives its name from the river Nairn, on which it is situated. It is not distinguished by any events of historical importance except the encampment, in its immediate neighbourhood, of the Duke of Cumberland's army on the day previous to the battle of Culloden in 1746. The older portion of the town was formerly defended by a castle, of which the foundations are covered by the sea, and no remains are visible even at low water; such encroachment, indeed, has the sea made upon this part of the coast, that the present town is more than half a mile from the original site. The town is situated on the left bank of the river, near its junction with the Moray Frith, and consists of one spacious street, and several others which are narrow and irregularly formed, containing houses of very antique appearance, and also of some streets of more recent formation in which the houses are of handsome character. The streets are well kept and the roads Macadamized; the town is lighted with gas from works established by a company in 1839, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water. Assemblies are held occasionally in Anderson's hotel, which is spacious and handsomely decorated, and has good arrangements for the accommodation of the numerous visiters who frequent the town during the summer months for seabathing, for which the beach affords every facility; there are likewise hot, cold, and shower baths, with every requisite appendage. The environs are pleasant, and the scenery finely varied: the river, over which is a good bridge on the Forres road, forms numerous windings in its course to the Frith; and among the scenes of interest within short drives of the town may be mentioned, the far-famed Cawdor Castle, Kilravock Castle, the Muir of Culloden, Fort-George, the blasted heath where Macbeth met the witches, Kinsteary, Lethen, Brodie House, Darnaway Castle, and the banks of the Findhorn, upon which are situated the mansions of Logie, Relugas, and Dunphail.
   Ancient Burgh Seal.
   The trade of the port consists in the importation of coal, lime, groceries, and various other kinds of merchandise, for the supply of the town and neighbourhood; and in the exportation of timber, stones, fish, and grain. The number of vessels belonging to the port is seven, and their aggregate burthen 370 tons. The harbour is formed chiefly by a pier at the mouth of the river; but from the accumulation of sand, it is scarcely accessible to vessels of any large size; the pier was almost swept away by the flood of 1829, but has been partly restored. A salmon-fishery is carried on at the mouth of the Nairn, producing a rental to the proprietors of about £70 per annum. The cod and haddock fisheries are very extensive, affording employment to 200 persons during the season, after which they remove to the herringfishery at Helmsdale, which is their chief occupation, the boats in general returning with cargoes that during the season yield from £50 to £100 per man. There are houses for curing the haddocks, of which great quantities are exported. A considerable trade is also carried on in the town, in which are numerous shops well stored with merchandise and wares of every kind; the post is daily, and there are branches of the National, the British Linen Company's, and the Caledonian Banks, of which the first has a handsome building. The market, amply supplied with provisions of all kinds, is on Friday; and fairs for horses and cattle are held on the third Friday in April, which is also a statute fair; on the 19th of June if on Tuesday, or if not, on the Tuesday following; on the 13th of August, or the first day after Campbelton fair; on the fourth Friday in September; on the Friday after the third Tuesday in October, which is also a statute fair; and on the first Friday in November.
   The government of the burgh, by a succession of charters confirmed and extended by James VI. and Charles I. and II., is vested in a provost, three bailies, a dean of guild, treasurer, and eleven councillors, assisted by a town-clerk and others. The provost, and the bailies and other officers, are elected from the towncouncil, by a majority of their number; and the council, since the passing of the Municipal Reform act, have been elected by the £10 householders. There are no minor incorporated trades: the freedom of the burgh is obtained by purchase. The dues on admission are £8 for a merchant burgess, and £1. 1. for a trade burgess, to strangers; but the eldest sons of burgesses are admitted for half those sums. The jurisdiction of the magistrates, which extends over the whole of the royalty, is in criminal cases now generally confined to petty thefts and assaults, and in civil cases is scarcely ever exercised, parties preferring to sue in the sheriff's court. In conjunction with Inverness and other towns, the burgh returns one member to the imperial parliament; the right of election is vested in the £10 householders, of whom there are seventy; and there are forty renting houses of £5 per annum, and upwards, but under £10. The town-house, situated in the main street, is a neat structure with a handsome lofty spire, and contains a spacious room for the town and county courts, which is also used for holding public meetings. The building includes also the prison for the burgh and county.
   The parish, which is bounded on the north by the Moray Frith, is about eight miles in length and six miles in extreme breadth, and comprises 5000 acres, of which 3220 are arable, 1380 woodland and plantations, and the remainder waste. The surface on the north side of the river is level, but on the south side rises gradually, and near the south angle of the parish attains a considerable elevation at the hill of Urchany, formerly an unsightly barren height, but which has recently been planted with oak, larch, and fir, and constitutes a pleasing and conspicuous feature in the scenery. The soil near the town, and along the coast, is light and sandy; in the southern portion, a rich heavy mould; and along the banks of the river, a mixture of sand and clay. Considerable improvement in the system of agriculture has taken place of late years; the farm-buildings are substantial and commodious, and numerous neat cottages have been built for the labourers. The rateable annual value of the parish now amounts to £4596. The general scenery is of pleasing character; the banks of the river are well wooded, chiefly with alder; and the plantations around the seats of the various proprietors add much to the beauty of the landscape. Geddes House is a handsome mansion, of which the grounds are tastefully laid out, and embellished with shrubberies and plantations; and from the hill of Urchany, immediately in front of it, are some fine prospects over the surrounding country. Viewfield, Househill, and Newton, are also good residences. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Nairn and synod of Moray; and the minister's stipend is £284, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £18 per annum: patron, Mr. Brodie, of Brodie. The church, erected in 1810, by assessment on the heritors, is a neat structure, and contains 902 sittings; the service is performed sometimes in the English and sometimes in the Gaelic language. There are places of worship for Episcopalians, the Free Church, the United Secession, and Independents. The academy, for which there is a handsome building at the western approach to the town, and which is in high repute, has, since the death of the late parochial schoolmaster, been connected with the parochial school by way of experiment; the master has a salary of £40, and the teacher £25, and the fees amount to £30. There are several other schools in the parish, and some friendly and benevolent societies contributing materially to the relief of the poor. On the north side of Geddes are vestiges of the ancient castle of Finlay; and to the east are remains of the castle of Rait, for some time the residence of the family of Cumyn, and apparently of great strength. At Easter Geddes are the remains of a chapel, the place of interment for many generations of the family of Kelravock.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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  • nairn — nairn·shire; nairn; …   English syllables

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