Rob Roy MacGregor Campbell
The '45
Extracts of Statistics from the Annexed Estates for Western Strathearn (1755-56)
The Reports of the Annexed Estates (1755-69)
A Tour of Scotland - Observations
Seismic Activity (1789)
Account of 1791-99 vol-11 - Comrie, County of Perth
Archibald MacNab (1734-1816)
Henry Dundas (1742-1811)
Sir David Baird of Seringapatam (1757-1829)
Companion and Useful Guide to the Beauties of Scotland – Sarah Murray (1799)
Roman Camp, Dalginross – October (1800)
Flash from the Caledonian Mercury – September (1814)
I've a Boat to Catch (1818)
A Picture of Strathearn - John Brown (1823)
St Fillan’s Highland Society (1827)
Letters from the Distant Past (1831 - 1859)
Comrie, St Fillans and Monivard (1837)
Statistical Account: Parish of Comrie (1838)
The Glen Lednock Census (1841)
The Queen’s Visit (1842)
The Road to Comrie (1857)
For the Sake of Nelly Fergus (1860)
From an Unknown Guidebook-circa (1892)
Comrie (1895)
Tales of Derring Do
Soldier, Soldier, won’t you marry me wi’…
The Adventures of Paddy or Highland Peter
Ghoulie Tales
A Serious Business
Mail Order Bride
The Man with the Powerful Voice
Double Entry bookkeeping
Hey, Gie’s ma Haun…or Murder Most Foul
Kate Mackenzie's Terrible Deeds
Watty and Meg Drummond
The Fencibles
Deacon Reid
Amazing Grace
The Day of the Penny Wedding
The MacArthur's were there before the Hills
The Beggar's Badge
A Pane by any other name can be a Pain!
The Powder Keg
The Coo didnae hae ony Teeth!
The Green Lady of Glen Lednock
The Queen of Tynasithe
The Great Wall of Comrie
Whisky, You're the Devil
A Wee Rumble
A Whale of a Time
An Encounter of the Third Kind
Another Debate
Bosom Pals
Getting Stoned in Comrie
Hanging about Comrie
It's Whisky in the Jar
Picking Other Folks' Brains
Porridge for Breakfast
Tarred and Buttered
The Convert
The Debate
The Schism
The Levitation
The Twa' Brithers
There’s a Hare in my Soup
Yer bum's oot the Window

18th & 19th Century

Account of 1791-99 vol-11 - Comrie, County of Perth

The following is in the copyright of the following:

Account of 1791-99 vol.11 p.178: Comrie, County of Perth




(County of Perth--Presbytery of Auchterarder--Synod of Perth and Stirling)

Drawn up by the Rev. Mr. Colin Baxter, Minister of Monivaird, from materials chiefly collected by the Rev. Mr. Hugh McDiarmed, Minister of Comrie.

Origin of the Name.

This parish takes its name from the village of COMRIE, in which the church stands. Comrie is derived from the Gaelic, Comb-ruidh, which signifies the confluence of the two rivers. These are the Erne, and the Ruchil, which join their streams a few yards to the westwards of the church, and flow in one body, till they fall into the Tay. There is another parish, called Tullichetil, united to Comrie. The foundation of the church, which is still visible, is surrounded by a pretty large churchyard, and is distant from the village of Comrie about a Scotch mile. Tullichetil, in allusion to the dead buried there, signifies in Gaelic, the plain of sleep.

Extent.-- The extent of this parish is very considerable, being about 13 miles long, and between 9 and 10 broad. It consists of the strath, or flat ground, from Comrie to Lochernehead, and of 4 glens; 2 of them large, Glenairtney and Glenlednaig; and two small, Finniglen and Glentearkin. The figure of the parish is irregular.

Situation, Soil and Surface.--It is situated in the county of Perth, and is the western boundary of Stratherne. The soil, in general, in the low grounds, is light and gravelly, and full of small stones. In some farms, especially in the glens, it is deeper and rather swampy. On the sides of the glens, and of the strath, to the E. end of Locherne, and of the loch itself, there is a continued chain of hills. These hills, which comprehend by far the greatest part of the parish, consist mostly of sheep farms. In the higher parts of the glens, there is little encouragement to plow and sow, as the crops are always late, and often destroyed by the frost and rains.

Climate and Diseases.--The air, in general, is very pure and healthy; but the climate in the strath differs considerably from that in the hilly part of the parish. In the glens, there is a great deal of rain. In the strath, which is pretty broad near the village, they seldom think they have too much. Before the goats were banished from the country, this parish was much resorted to by invalids, from Edinburgh and Glasgow, for the recovery of their health. Most of the inhabitants live to a good old age. There are among them, at present, 8 men and 9 women between 80 and 90 years old, and a great number between 70 and 80. Colds and rheumatisms are the most common complaints. A few of late have been attacked by bilious disorders, especially in summer and harvest. Colics too have sometimes proved fatal, particularly (it is remarked) to those of the name of Fergusson. The small pox were formerly very destructive; but about 7 years ago, the people were prevailed upon to allow their children to be inoculated; and ever since the practice has been general, and very successful.

Rivers and lakes.--The principal rivers are the Erne, Lednock and the Ruchil. The Earne issues from the lake of that name, about 4 miles W. of the village of Comrie. Ruchil signifies, in Gaelic, the red flood; and it is so called, from the redness of its waters, when swelled with rains. It takes its rise among the high hills at the head of Glenairtney; it is a fine fishing stream, and remarkable for the great number of seatrouts which are to be found in it. These rivers, and the Lednaig, the third largest in the parish, abound with burn trouts; but there are few salmon in any of them, except during the spawning season. Loch Erne is about 8 miles long, and 1 broad. It is called Erne, in Gaelic Erinn, from its westerly situation. Its banks, for above five miles on both sides, are covered with natural oak wood, of great extent and value. The road from Crieff, through the parishes of Monivaird and Comrie, to Loch-erne head, presents a great variety of natural beautiful objects, and is perhaps not inferior to any of the same extent in the Highlands of Scotland. Loch-Erne is not distinguished as a fishing lake. It is said, that it never freezes. Near the east end of it, there is a small island, evidently artificial, on which the remains of a small castle are still visible. There are only 2 other small lakes in the parish; the one above Dunira, the other in the braes of Glenlednaig, both of which swarm with trouts about the size of herrings.

Hills, Woods and Springs.--This parish has many high hills in it; but the highest, not only here, but in all Stratherne, is Benvurlich, that is the mountain of the great lake: and Loch Erne is certainly great, when compared with the other lakes in Stratherne. In a clear day, this mountain is distinctly seen from Perth, from the Castle-hill in Edinburgh, and from a rising ground at Loudon Castle, in Ayrshire. Its elevation above the level of the sea is about 3,200 feet. Besides the oaks on each side of Loch-Erne, above mentioned, there is also a valuable and extensive oak wood on the estates Dunira, Tullibannachar, Comrie and Aberruchil. A great variety of other trees, particularly of the fir species, have also been planted of late, in several parts of the parish, and are in a very thriving condition.- The only remarkable spring here is that of St. Fillan*, the Popish saint of Breadalbane, at the W. end of Strathern.

*This spring, tradition reports, reared its head on the top of Dun-Fhaolain, (Fillan’s Hill), for a long time doing much good; but in disgust, (probably at the Reformation) it removed suddenly to the foot of a rock, a quarter of a mile to the southward, where it still remains, humbled indeed, but not forsaken. It is still visited by valetudinary people, especially on the 1st. of May, and the 1st. of August. No fewer than 70 persons visited it in May and August 1791. The invalids, whether men, women, or children, walk or are carried, round the well three times, in a direction Deishal, that is, from E. to W. according to the course of the sun. They also drink of the water, and bathe in it. These operations are accounted a certain remedy for various diseases. They are particularly efficacious for curing barrenness: on which account it is frequently visited by those who are very desirous of offspring. All the invalids throw a white stone on the saint’s cairn, and leave behind, as tokens of their confidence and gratitude, some rags of linen or woollen cloth. The rock on the summit of the hill formed, of itself, a chair for the saint, which still remains. Those who complain of rheumatism in the back, must ascend the hill, sit in this chair, then lie down on their back, and be pulled by the legs to the bottom of the hill. This operation is still performed, and reckoned very efficacious. At the foot of the hill, there is a basin, made by the saint, on the top of a large stone, which seldom wants water, even in the greatest drought; and All who are distressed with sore eyes must wash them three times with this water).

Animals.--The number of sheep is about 16,500; of black cattle 3820; of horses 726; of deer, in the forest of Glenairtney between 200 and 300; of goats, about 100. The sheep are of the black faced kind, and most of the farms are every year improving. The small Highland breed, once numerous here, is now almost entirely banished. The hill horses too, to make room for the sheep, are reduced to a very small number. The smeared or tarry wool, is sold at from 4s. to 5s. per stone; the white wool at 7s. 6d. -There are in the parish hares, rabbits, foxes, martins, partridges, grouse, and a few ptarmigans and heath fowl.

Produce.--The principal crops are oats and bear (?) Potatoes are planted everywhere in great quantities, and, with milk, constitute the principal part of the food of the lower classes, for 8 months of the year. A good deal of meal is bought from the neighbouring parishes of Monivaird, Crieff, and Muthil. These parishes also supply our small whisky stills with 1200 bolls of barley yearly.

Manufactures.--Our staple manufacture is linen yarn, of which a great quantity is spun and sold every year. With the money which this yarn brings, most of the farmers pay a great part of their rents. This yarn sells at about 2s. 4d. per spindle. From the tow of the lint they spin harn yarn, which is made into cloth, and brings about 9d. to 1s. per yard. The finer sort is used for men and women’s shirts; the courser for sailors jackets and trousers. The women make also a great quantity of plaiden cloth, which is sold at from 10d. to 1s. per yard; and a considerable quantity of tartan, of which they make plaids and hose. These are partly for home use, and partly for the market.

Prices of Labour.--The wages of servants and labourers have risen very much within these 10 years. Day labourers get from 10d. to 1s. in summer, and from 7d. to 9d. in winter, when their provisions are not allowed them. When they take work by the piece, and are employed in making roads, in ditching, building stone fences, quarrying lime-stone and slates, they often earn from 1s. to 1s 6d. per day. The men servants receive from the farmers, £51 to £100 a year: the women servants from £21. 10s. to £31. 10s.

Union of Farms, etc.--About a third part of this parish once belonged to the family of PERTH; and when their estate was forfeited, and put under the management of the commissioners, several farms, formerly possessed by many tenants, were given to one person. This lessened the number of inhabitants considerably. The village indeed has increased very much of late; but, by comparing what the large farms have lost of tenants and cottagers, with what the village has gained, the population does not appear to be on the increase. A great part of the village is enclosed, especially what belongs to Mr. DRUMMOND OF PERTH; and some of the farms subdivided.

Rents and Properties.--The farms of the Perth estate are allowed by all to be low rented; and they are certainly so, when compared with the rest of the country. The highest grass farm pays about £200; the rest are from £80 down to £5. In the neighbourhood of the village, the land lets at from £1 to £1. 12s. per acre. The valued rent of the parish is £4133. 6s. 8d. Scotch. The real rent, though many of the farms are let very low, is about £2670. One cutting of the oak woods in the parish will yield about £13,000. There are 10 greater and 6 smaller proprietors. None of the greater resides constantly in the parish, but almost all of them visit it annually; and 3 of the greatest reside in the neighbourhood, at least for half the year. Five of the smaller proprietors reside constantly.

Population.--The population of this parish is not thought to be increasing, although, within these forty years, it has amounted considerably. The number of inhabitants, of all ages, amounts to about 3000

The return to Dr. Webster, in 1755, was 2546

Hence there is evidently an increase of 454.

When the number of arable acres, the infant state of trade and manufactures, with the scarcity and high price of fuel, are considered, this part of Stratherne is sufficiently populous. Many boys and girls are employed as herds, and many young men and women, as servants, every year, in the neighbouring Lowland parishes. Were a course woollen manufactory established in Comrie, it would meet with encouragement, do much good, and employ many half idle hands. For 8 years past, none have emigrated from the parish, but six cottagers, with their families, to Blair-Drummond Moss, in Monteith.

Ecclesiastical State.--The present incumbent, Mr. Hugh McDiarmed was admitted minister of Comrie in July 1781. The church is old, too small, and is not in very good repair. There is another church, 4 miles west from the village, in which divine service is performed, almost wholly, in Gaelic, every fourth Sunday. The manse and offices were built in 1784. The glebe consists of nearly 9 acres, 6 of which are pretty good; the others are very poor. The stipend is, in money £52. 2s. 3d; and, in grain, 16 bolls of meal, and 8 bolls of bear; in all about £69; and in this sum is included what is allowed for communion elements. There is a small meeting of Antiburgher Seceders in the village; and there are 6 Papists, who attend the Roman Catholic chapel in the neighbouring parish of Muthil, in which, as well as Crieff, many of them reside.

Schools.--Besides the parochial school, at which are taught 70 to 100 scholars, there are 3 others, supported by the Society for propagating Christian Knowledge; one of which has often, during the winter season, 100; the other 2 from 50 to 60 scholars. In the remote parts of the parish, there are 2 or 3 small schools, supported by tenants, whose children derive benefit from them.

Poor.--The number of poor on the parish roll is 12. Some of these receive a weekly, and some only an occasional supply. The weekly pensioners receive 6d. or 1s; the occasional ones 2s. or 3s. three or four times a year; and, at Martinmas and Candlemas, even the weekly pensioners receive 2s. or 2s. 6d.each. The annual sum expended for their relief is about £40. This sum is produced by the collections in the church, by proclamations, and mortcloth dues, by fines for irregular marriages, and other trespasses, and the interest of £100. The poor are permitted to beg in the parish. Some poor house-keepers beg for corn in spring; and many poor house-wives beg for wool in summer.

Roads and bridges.--There is one great road through the parish, leading from Crieff to Loch-Erne head; and several smaller roads through the glens. Between Crieff and Loch-Erne there are five stone bridges across the river Erne, 3 of which consist of 4 arches. There are besides several stone and wooden bridges on the Ruchill, the Lednaig, etc. The roads in this and the neighbouring parishes were formerly made by the statute labour; but this was lately converted into money. Tenants, who possess farms of £30 yearly rent, pay from 9s. to 14s. All above and below this sum pay in proportion. Cottagers, villagers and tradesmen, pay 2s. or 1s. 6d. each. The conversion money is very well laid out; but the inhabitants of the glens complain of late that too much is expended on the great road. The sum collected is insufficient for keeping all the roads in proper repair, as they are very numerous, and liable to be hurt by the mountain torrents.

Character and Language.--Like the generality of the common Highlanders, the lower ranks here are modest, peaceable, and very obliging. There are few law-suits among them; and there have been none for these ten years, except about legacies, multures, and marches. They are frugal, moderate, and industrious; and, except at merry meetings, are not much addicted to drinking. -The common language of the people is Gaelic and all the natives understand it; but many, especially the old, do not understand English; but, in order to acquire it, they must go to service in the Low Country. The Gaelic is not spoken in its purity, neither here nor in any of the bordering parishes.

Advantages and Disadvantages.--This parish having good roads, particularly on the E. and W., has a safe and easy communication both with the Low Country and the Highlands. The traders, in the village, traffic much with the people of Balquhidder and Killin. These they serve with oat-meal, barley-meal, and whisky; and get in return flax, linen yarn, and wool. There is a good slate quarry near the forest of Glenairtney. It is the only one in this part of the country. There is likewise an excellent lime quarry, at the W. end of the parish, very near the side of Loch-Erne, which has been the means of improving a great part of the land, in this and the neighbouring parish of Monivaird. The raw lime-stone is brought in a large boat to the E. end of the loch, and there sold, burnt or unburnt, as purchasers incline. -The greatest disadvantage, under which many parts of the parish labour, is the scarcity and high price of fuel. White timber, or peeled oak, once plentiful and cheap, is now scarce and dear. Peats, at best are troublesome and expensive, though the most common fuel, are distant from the village, and most of the farms, 2 or 3 miles. The nearest good coal lies at a distance of 25 miles from the village. With the short road made across the hills to the southwards of Comrie, which is earnestly longed for, coals will become cheaper and more plentiful. This road will lessen the distance very considerably, and, when procured, will tend much to advance the happiness and prosperity of this part of the country.

Antiquities.--In 3 different places in the parishes, there are to be seen the remains of small Druidical temples.*

The greatest piece of antiquity here is the Roman camp on the plain of Dalginross, in the neighbourhood of Comrie. On this plain are still visible very distinct remains of two camps, with only an inconsiderable distance between them, and joined by an agger**

*The stones of one of these near the village was broken to pieces, about 10 years ago, and used in building one of the new houses. And it has been remarked, by some lovers of antiquity, that those who were guilty of this act of sacrilege never prospered afterwards).

**Mr. Gordon, in his Itinerarium Septentrionale, published in 1726, suggests this to have been the plain, on which battle was fought between AGRICOLA and GALCACUS. One of the camps is 402 paces long, and 392 broad. The other is now considerably diminished by the encroachments of the Ruchil).

(Author’s Note: An agger (Latin – Aggara) is a rampart or earth mound used to support Roman structures such as embankments or roads.)

Earthquakes.--This parish, and the neighbourhood, have, for more than 3 years past, been not a little alarmed by several smart shocks of an earthquake. It was first felt, or rather loud noises, unaccompanied with any concussion, were held by the inhabitants of Glenlednaig, during autumn 1789. These noises were first supposed to be peals of thunder; afterwards, as they were heard sometimes when the sky was quite clear, the people imagined they were occasioned by the firing of carronades at Dunira. Finding, however, on inquiry, that they did not proceed from this cause, they were at a loss how to account for them, till the 5th. of November 1789, when, about 6 o’clock in the evening, they were alarmed by a loud rumbling noise, accompanied with a severe shock of an earthquake. This shock, which is generally supposed to be the most violent of any that has happened here, was very sensibly felt over a tract of country of more than 20 miles in extent. Since that period the shocks have been very frequent, and at times pretty violent; but hitherto they have done no harm. Within these 3 or 4 weeks, since the weather has settled into drought, they have ceased altogether. The centre of the earthquake is, as nearly as can be guessed, about the mouth of Glenlednaig a mile or two north from the village of Comrie. What supports this conjecture is, that the people who live on the E. side of the glen, feel the earthquake begin in the N.W. and proceed in a south-easterly direction. Those who inhabit the country on the W. side of it, think that it takes its rise in the N.E. and expires in the W.