- CULROSS, a royal burgh and a parish, in the county of Perth, 7 miles (W.) from Dunfermline, and 21 (W. N. W.) from Edinburgh; containing, with the villages of Blairburn and Lowvalley-field, 1444 inhabitants, of whom 603 are in the burgh. This place, which is of remote antiquity, derives its name from its situation in a detached portion of the county, forming part of the peninsula of Fifeshire. It was anciently the property of the Macduffs, of whose baronial residence, Dunnemarl Castle, there are still some remains on Castle Hill, on the banks of the Forth, to the west of the town. Here, according to tradition, was perpetrated the murder of Lady Macduff and her children by the usurper Macbeth. A monastery was founded in 1278, by Malcolm, Thane of Fife, for brethren of the Cistercian order, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St. Serf or Servanus. It continued to flourish till the Reformation, at which time Alexander, son of Sir James Colville, was abbot; and to his brother, Sir James, the revenues, amounting to £768. 16. 7¼ in money, besides considerable payments in kind, were, in 1604, granted by James VI., who also raised him to the peerage by the title of Lord Colville of Culross. The abbey and lands attached to it subsequently became the property of the Earl of Dundonald, from whom they were purchased by Sir Robert Preston, Bart., whose representative is the present proprietor.The town, which is situated on the north shore of the Frith of Forth, consists of one principal street, extending from the Frith by a precipitous acclivity towards the north, and of several detached portions along the coast. The houses are generally of ancient character, and to most of them is attached a portion of garden ground, presenting, as seen from the Frith, a picturesque and interesting appearance, which is heightened by numerous handsome seats and pleasing villas in the immediate vicinity. A very considerable trade was formerly carried on in the export of coal, of which a mine had been excavated, extending for some distance under the waters of the Frith, and also in the manufacture of salt. The produce of the mine was chiefly sent to Holland, whence various kinds of merchandise were imported, and distributed from this town to different parts of the country; but the mine was long since exhausted, and the trade has been discontinued. The manufacture of girdles for baking oatmeal cakes, for which the town had patents from James VI. and Charles II., was also pursued for some time; but since the establishment of the Carron iron-works, where they are made at a very reduced price, that manufacture has ceased. The only trade now carried on is the weaving of linen for the manufacturers of Dunfermline, and of cotton-cloths for those of Glasgow, in which about seventy persons are employed. Fairs are held on the 2nd of July and the third Wednesday in November; and there are two good inns.Culross was erected into a royal Burgh in 1588, by charter of James VI., under which it is governed by a chief magistrate and nineteen councillors. There are seven incorporated trades, the weavers, wrights, shoemakers, bakers, smiths, tailors, and butchers, into which only burgesses are admissible; the fees for admission vary, for sons of freemen from 13s. 6d. to £1. 1., and for strangers from £2. 5. to £3. The magistrates have the usual civil and criminal jurisdiction, but no cases have come under their notice since the year 1828. The burgh is associated with those of Dunfermline, Inverkeithing, Queensferry, and Stirling, in returning a member to the imperial parliament; the number of qualified voters is twenty-two. The town-house is an ancient building, to which is attached a small prison containing two apartments, one for debtors, and the other for criminal offenders, chiefly against the police. Facility of communication is afforded by good roads, of which a turnpike-road, recently constructed, passes through the centre of the parish to Dunfermline; and a pier has been constructed at the old harbour, from which there is a ferry to Borrowstounness, on the opposite shore of the Frith.The parish formerly included the barony of Kincardine, which was separated from it in 1672, and added to the parish of Tulliallan. It is about four miles in length, and nearly of equal breadth, comprising about 10,000 acres, of which nearly 4000 are arable, 2000 woodland and plantations, and the remainder pasture, garden ground, and waste. The surface rises in bold undulations from the shore of the Frith, for some distance towards the north and north-west, forming a ridge of low hills, beyond which it subsides into a fertile valley watered by a rivulet called the Bluther. The soil along the shore is a deep black loam of great fertility; towards the middle of the parish, of a clayey nature, but under good management producing favourable crops; and towards the north and north-west, of poorer quality. The crops are, wheat, oats, barley, peas, beans, potatoes, and turnips; the system of husbandary is in a very advanced state. The rateable annual value of the parish is £5600. The plantations, which are very extensive, and in a thriving condition, contain every variety of firs and hard-wood trees, of which latter oak and beech seem best adapted to the soil. The principal substrata are clay-slate and sandstone. Clay of good quality for pottery and for fire-bricks may be procured in abundance; limestone and ironstone are also found, but not in sufficient quantities to remunerate the labour of working. The mansion houses are, Culross Abbey, formerly the seat of the Bruce family, and afterwards of the Earl of Dundonald, beautifully situated on the shore; Valleyfield, lately the seat of Sir Robert Preston, an elegant mansion in a demesne tastefully laid out, and embellished with plantations; Castle Hill, a handsome modern seat, near the site of the castle of the Macduffs; and Blair Castle, built on the site of an ancient seat erected by Hamilton, Archbishop of St. Andrew's.The Ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Dunfermline and synod of Fife. The living is collegiate; the minister of the first charge has a stipend of £156, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £20, and the minister of the second charge £116, with an allowance in money in lieu of manse, and a glebe valued at £25. Lady Keith and Lady Baird Preston are alternate patrons. The church is a portion of the ancient abbey, originally a venerable cruciform structure, with a lofty tower rising from the centre, which, with the choir now appropriated as the parish church, and containing 700 sittings, are the only parts remaining. On the north side is the burying-place of the Bruce family, containing a monument on which are recumbent figures of Sir George Bruce and his lady, and, beneath, of their seven children in a kneeling posture, beautifully sculptured in white marble. On one side of this aisle is a projecting piece of masonry containing, in a silver case, the heart of Edward, second Lord Bruce of Kinross, who fell in a duel near Bergen-op-Zoom, in 1614. The parochial school is well attended; the master has a salary of £34, with a house and garden, and the fees average £30, in addition to which he receives £10 from a bequest. There is also an endowed school for boys and girls, of which the master receives a salary of £36, with a house and garden, for gratuitously teaching twenty children, and superintending a Sunday school.Dr. Bill, a native of the parish, who died in London in 1738, bequeathed £1000 for the payment of small sums quarterly to four decayed tradesmen and two tradesmen's widows, for apprenticing young persons, and for the foundation of a bursary in one of the universities. Sir George Bruce of Carnock, in 1639, founded an hospital, which he endowed for the maintenance of six aged widows of the parish; the building has long since fallen into decay, but the income from the endowment is distributed among eight widows. The late Sir Robert Preston and his lady bequeathed an endowment for the distribution of meal and money, weekly, to six aged men and six aged women, who have lived for ten years in the parish. Connected with this charity is a building in which soup is given, two days in the week, during the winter, to families in this and the adjoining parish of Torryburn. Miss Halkerston, of Carskerdo, in the county of Fife, lately left a sum of money to be invested in land, for the relief of industrious persons not receiving parochial aid. At the east end of the town are the remains of St. Mungo's chapel, near which, according to tradition, that saint was born, and educated by Serf, the patron saint of the parish; and to the west of the abbey are some remains of the ancient parish church.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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