MONTROSE, a parish in the north-east extremity of the maritime district of Forfarshire; bounded on the north by Logie-Pert and Kincardineshire; on the east by the German ocean [North Sea]; on the south by the South Esk, which divides it from Craig; and on the west by Montrose basin, and by Dun. Its greatest length from the mouth of the North Esk to a slight bend in the South Esk at the harbour, is 4 miles; its greatest breadth, in a line east and west over Kinnobar, is 3 miles and 5 furlongs; its breadth, for a mile south of the mouth of the North Esk, does not average more than a furlong, and for 1½ mile north of South Esk, averages between 6 and 7 furlongs; and its superficial area is about 3,080 Scottish acres. The North Esk runs 3 miles along the northern boundary, chiefly between high and wooded banks; and forms various islets, and is, altogether, charmingly picturesque. The South Esk touches the parish only while running between Montrose basin and the sea: See SOUTH ESK. Tayock-burn, coming in from Dun, runs 1½ mile south-eastward, partly in the interior and partly along the boundary, to the north-east corner of Montrose basin. This basin is an expanse of nearly ellipsoidal outline, and about 7 miles in circumference, alternately sheeted with pent-up water, and exposed in the naked repulsiveness of sand and sludge at the influx and the recess of the tide. At high water, it has a charming aspect, looks like a fresh water and brilliantly zoned lake, washes the walls of the gardens which subtend the whole west side of the town, and, by the regular and rapid rush of waters which it occasions in the action of the tide, both promotes the cleanliness of the burgh and prevents the formation of a bar injurious to navigation across the mouth of the river. An attempt was at one time made, by running a dike from near the Forthill, along the bank of the South Esk toward the estate of Dun, to cut off a considerable part of the basin, and convert the strong carse clay which forms its bed into arable land. But the dike, in consequence of misunderstandings among the parties interested, was very slowly constructed; and, just when nearly completed, it was laid prostrate by a storm. The work was, not long ago, traceable, and bore the name of the Drainer’s dike. Wild geese arrive in great flocks at the basin about the end of October, and remain till March, frequenting the wheat stubble, or the green wheat fields on the low grounds during the day, and spending the night on the lagoon. Flocks of wild ducks alternate or reverse the possession of the two localities with the geese. Swans visit the basin in severe storms, but speedily depart. A list of the other aquatic birds which frequent the locality, as well as of the varieties of the duck and the goose, as drawn up by Mr Thomas Molison of Montrose, and published in the New Statistical Account of Craig, is so curious that we append it in a note.1 The beach along the sea-coast is pure sand, dipping at so fine a gradient beneath the wave, and affording so velvety and uniform a carpeting for the feet, as strongly to allure even the most timid to the luxury of sea-bathing. A low bank of bluffs, and sandy knolls, thinly clad with belt, flanks the line of flood-mark from Esk to Esk. Behind this bank, and parallel to its whole length, stretches a belt of undivided common, a sandy or very light-soiled verdant tract, narrow in the north and centre, but widening toward the south, and eventually occupying the whole peninsula between the basin and the sea, except the site of the burgh and its outskirts. Land of naturally the same description – sandy to a great depth, and capable of bearing but slender vegetation – lies for 6 or 7 furlongs from flood-mark all the way along to the North Esk; and, behind the belt of common, it is, on the north, covered with a plantation of firs, and, toward the town, subjected to a scantily productive tillage. A mound or low bank of round water-worn stones, only a few yards in breadth, and used as the line of the Great North mailroad, runs for a mile parallel with the sea, and flanks the sandy grounds. West of this mound, the lands are all powerfully fertile, and under prime cultivation. The surface slowly rises toward the north-west, and attains its highest elevation on the boundaries with Dun and Logie-Pert; and though even here of very inconsiderable height, a fine view is obtained hence of the whole parish, the basin and the town, the windings of the South Esk among rich fields and embellished lawns, much of the upper end of Strathmore studded with mansions and feathered with wood, the round tower and antique steeples of Brechin, the vast and galleried amphitheatre of the Forfarshire and Kincardineshire Grampians, and a far-stretching expanse of the German ocean, specked with the white sails of merchant-craft, and occasionally with the dark form of a steam-ship. The gentle general swell, the summit of which gives this landscape to the eye, is called Montrose-hill. No earths useful in manufactures have as yet been discovered, except clay for bricks; limestone is worked on the estate of Hedderwick; and stone for building needs to be fetched from Brechin. The parish is traversed for 3 miles by the Great North mailroad; 2 miles by a road going off from it to Marykirk bridge; and nearly 1 mile by the road also going off from it toward Brechin. Population, in 1801, 7,974; in 1831, 12,055. Houses 1,190. Assessed property, in 1815, £22,017.
Montrose is in the presbytery of Brechin, and synod of Angus and Mearns. The charge is collegiate. Patron of the first charge, the Crown; of the second charge, the Town-council. Stipend of the first minister £292 5s. 1d.; glebe £20. Unappropriated teinds £90 6s. 8d. Stipend of the second minister – derived from an assessment upon house-rents within the burgh, at the rate of 5d. per pound, in virtue of an act of the Scottish parliament in 1690, authorizing a maximum assessment of 1s. per pound – £340. The parish-church was built in 1791, and is double-galleried. Sittings 2,500. A missionary labours throughout the whole parish, and is supported by a society whose committee and contributors belong to all the religious denominations in the town. In 1834, a portion of the town district of the parish was erected into the quoad sacra parish of St. John’s. After deducting this territory, the population of the parish of Montrose, according to an ecclesiastical survey in 1836, consisted of 6,040 churchmen, 1,924 dissenters, and 984 nondescripts, – in all 8,948 persons; and according to an ecclesiastical survey of the same year, the population of the quoad sacra parish of St. John’s consisted of 2,500 churchmen, 1,083 dissenters, and 168 nondescripts, – in all, 3,751 persons. The church of St. John’s was built as a chapel-of-ease in 1829, and cost £3,969. Sittings 1,430. Stipend £150, with about £20 for providing communion elements. – There are eight dissenting congregations, all whose places of worship are in the burgh. The first United Secession congregation was established about the year 1750. The church was built in 1750, and repaired and lofted in 1788; and, including a churchyard which surrounds it, was supposed, in 1836, to be worth from £500 to £600. Sittings 550. Stipend £90. The second United Secession congregation was established in 1787; and their present place of worship was built in 1824, at a cost of £1,100. Sittings 750. Stipend £115. – The Wesleyan Methodist congregation was established in 1793. Their chapel was built in 1814, and cost upwards of £900. Sittings 300. Stipend £60. – The Scottish Episcopalian congregation have no record of the date of their establishment. Their place of worship is a hall belonging to a society of masons, and rented at £16. Sittings 170. Stipend various. – St. Peter’s Episcopalian congregation is in connexion with the Established church of England, and dates from the period when Episcopacy ceased to be the Established religion of Scotland. Their place of worship was founded in 1722, and opened in 1724. Sittings about 800. Stipend £186, with the interest of £600 bequeathed, to build a house for the minister. – The independent congregation was established in 1800. Their chapel, not originally designed to be a place of worship, was bought, floored, seated, and galleried at the cost of £625. Sittings 550. Stipend £80. – The Scottish Baptist congregation was established about the year 1830, and in 1836 assembled in a school-house gratuitously given for their use by the magistrates of the town. – The Baptist congregation was established about the year 1812; and their chapel was built about 14 years later at the cost of £400. Sittings 200. Stipend, the surplus of the ordinary collections over the expenses of the congregation. – In 1834, there were 27 schools, conducted by 34 teachers, and attended by 1,632 scholars. At the Montrose academy, the instruction consists of English, writing, arithmetic, Greek, Latin, mathematics, geography, and French. Salary of the rector £50, with £100 fees; of the first Latin teacher £40, with £90 fees; of the second Latin teacher £50; of each of two teachers of writing and arithmetic £25, with £100 fees; of the first English teacher £40, with £120 fees; and of the second English teacher £25, with £80 fees. In 1834 the academy was attended by 200 males and 147 females. Of the other schools one is situated landward, and brings the teacher £2 from the kirk-session, a house, a garden, and a free school-room; another is a charity school, supported by a mortification, and bringing the teacher a salary of £36, with a house, garden, and school-room; a third is also a charity school, supported by a mortification, and brings a male and a female teacher, the latter of whom teaches needle-work, the interest of £900 in equal shares; a fourth is an infant school, supported by subscription, and yielding a salary of £50; and a fifth and a sixth are schools belonging to the trades, differing from private schools only in the school-rooms being rent-free.
MONTROSE, a royal burgh, a sea-port, and an important town, stands in 56[o] 34’ north latitude, and 2[o] 10’ longitude west from Greenwich; 8 miles east of Brechin, 12 north of Arbroath, 18 north east of Forfar, 22 south of Stonehaven, 30 from Dundee, 38 from Aberdeen, and 70 from Edinburgh. Its site is in the peninsula which forms the south end of its cognominal parish. The town stretches one side of its whole length north and south along Montrose basin; it expands a large wing south-eastward along the South Esk; and it claims as burgh-lands, partly dotted over with buildings, and partly disposed in public promenade, or unenclosed common, the whole “links” lying between it and the ocean on the east. The ground beneath and around it, excepting three hillocks or knolls on the basin, and the low sandbank along the margin of the links, is nearly all a dead level. Its flat and nearly insulated position might, at first thought, be supposed repulsive to both the valetudinarian and the lover of landscape; but, on the contrary, it is at once salubrious and eminently picturesque. The dryness of the soil, the absence of all marsh and stagnant water, and the sweeping action of the current between the basin and the sea, act favourably on the climate; and to a person approaching from the south, and coming in view of the town from the high ground traversed by the public road in the parish of Craig, the fine sweep of the broad South Esk fringed with shipping, docks, and variform edifices, and stretching out to the sea on the right, – the large circular basin set round with richly-cultivated fields, and forming the foreground to a far-spreading expanse of luxuriant landscape on the left, – the town lifting up several imposing structures, and retiring in a large broad field of architecture in front, – the receding prospect behind it exhibiting a fine variety of swell and hill and plain, and of mansions, fields, and woods, till the eye ceases to discern distinctive features, – and the dark, vast amphitheatre of the Grampians, piled shelvingly against the sky, and forming a stupendous mountain-bulwark at 20 miles distance, – altogether present one of the most diversified and magnificent views in the United Kingdom.
The town, as entered by the suspension-bridge over the South Esk, commences in two streets, forking-off from the end of the bridge, running somewhat parallel, each about ¼ of a mile long, and both leading north-eastward to the head of the principal street. That next the basin bears the name of Bridge-street, and is straight, spacious, modern, and neatly though not entirely edificed. The other bears the names of Upper-Fishergate and Castle-street, and is narrow, of unequal width, winding, antique, and disagreeable. Murray-street, the principal thoroughfare, runs due north, and is nearly half-a-mile long. Commencing continuously with Castle-street, and 100 yards east of the end of Bridge-street, it is at first a spacious area, split into two thoroughfares by a suite of old grim buildings; it next has a moderate width, and is subtended on the east by the town-house and kindred edifices; it now, over a distance of 300 yards, becomes a street of uncommon spaciousness, or rather a slender, elongated rectangle; and it finally goes off in a straight line, of fair breadth and reputable appearance. In its expansive part, it has lofty houses, excellent shops, and decidedly a city-aspect; yet, several of the houses being of the gable-end construction, and most of them seeming to economize space, it strangely but pleasingly blends ancient and oriental with modern and airy features. A spacious road, called the Mall, continues the line of Murray-street about 5 furlongs northward; and is thickly sprinkled with edifices, – the mansion, the villa, but chiefly the humble cottage. Two hundred yards east of the end of the bridge commences a thoroughfare, which makes nearly the segment of a circle over two-thirds the length of the town, forming a kind of parallel to both Castle-street and Murray-street, and then bends slightly sea-ward till it debouches into the links. This street is called for a short way Apple-wynd, and afterwards Back-street; it is of very unequal width, now a mere alley, and now a spacious road-way; and, with some pleasant exceptions, is mean and dingy in its houses. Of some seven or eight communications which run westward from it, the only noticeable ones are the New-wynd and John-street, both opening into the very wide part of Murray-street, each about 220 yards long, and the latter entirely modern and neatly edificed. Running out into the links, in continuation of John-street, is Union-street, erected since 1838, and terminating at some extensive factories of earlier erection. From the middle of New-wynd, a narrow but closely-built street, called West Back-street, wends upwards of ¼ of a mile to the head of the Mall. Along the east side of the town facing the links, and communicating with the South Esk at the flag-staff east of the end of Apple-wynd, runs what is called the Walk, chiefly a terrace, or one-sided street line, containing many comfortable and elegant houses. A triangular space lying east of its south end, and measuring nearly ¼ of a mile along the South Esk, is occupied with various clusters and streetlines houses, the chief of which are River-street, parallel with the river, and Commerce-street and Dock-street, running up into the links.
The town house presents its west side to the narrow commencing part of Murray-street, and its front to the elongated parallelogram; it has an arcade below, and makes a fine termination to the long spacious area in the centre of the town; and it contains a council-room, a guild-hall, a court-room, a coffee-room, and a large apartment occupied as a public library. The jail, built about 9 years ago, is a neat and substantial structure; and has wiped away the disgrace of the old prison, consisting of two or three miserable cells, in the lumpish and crazy town buildings at the south end of Murray-street. The parish-church, situated immediately east of the new town-house, is a huge plain building, measuring 98 feet long by 65 over walls, and possessing no other noticeable property but its size. A rickety and deformed steeple which formerly marred the whole burghal landscape, was taken down in 1832, and substituted by an elegant and massive Gothic tower, erected at a cost of £3,000, from a design by Gillespie Graham, Esq. of Edinburgh, – the tower rising to a height of upwards of 100 feet, and surmounted by a spire of nearly the same height. St. John’s church, situated in John-street, is a handsome Grecian edifice. St. Peter’s church, situated in the links, due east from the parish-church, is a neat structure, handsomely fitted up in the interior; and provided with an organ. The second United Secession congregation’s place of worship, and the Methodist chapel, both situated in West Back-street, are unadorned but pleasing erections, free from the gowstiness of the old meeting-house style. The Montrose academy, standing on the links, 150 yards south of St. Peter’s church, is an elegant and commodious structure, surmounted by a neat dome. Near the academy stands the school of the seven incorporated trades, built in 1832. At the north end of the walk stands another of the public schools. Dorward’s house of refuge, built in 1839, and affording accommodation for 200 inmates, is a neat building in the Old English style of architecture. William Dorward, Esq., merchant in Montrose – a gentleman of eminent excellencies, and large and enlightened benevolence – gave for the erection and endowment of this institution £10,000, expended about £|600 on furniture and additional building, and placed the whole under the management of 24 trustees. The Lunatic asylum, situated on the links, ¼ of a mile south-east of the academy, and 250 yards from the river, is an extensive and commodious edifice, originally built in 1780, and afterwards repeatedly enlarged. The establishment is managed by the provost, the first bailie, and the two parish-ministers of Montrose, five ministers of neighbouring parishes, eleven landed proprietors in the country, and thirty inhabitants of the burgh; it has a keeper, a matron, and a resident medical superintendent; it affords accommodation for a large number of sufferers, and has sometimes about 70 within its walls; and it has proved an eminent advantage to a large portion of the northern section of the county. A royal charter was obtained for it in 1811. An infirmary and a dispensary were formerly connected with it, – giving relief annually to some hundreds of out-of-door patients, besides a few received within the walls; but a new and separate infirmary was erected in 1839, after a design by Mr. Collie of Glasgow, at the cost of £2,500, is situated near the bridge, and promises to be much more beneficial as an independent than formerly as a subordinate establishment.
Till near the end of last century, communication was maintained across the South Esk with the burgh and the great road to Aberdeen, only by means of a ferry at Ferryden. In 1793, a colossal timber-bridge was built across the gullet between Inchbrayock and the burgh, and was esteemed a wonderful erection; but in consequence of an ill-advised narrowing of the channel at its site, the rapid current soon carried away its original bottom, and threatened to sweep it off from the foundation; and, after various expedients were adopted with only temporary success to prevent its destruction, it eventually became a piece of mere shaking, fragile patchwork, and was condemned. A magnificent suspension-bridge destined to succeed it, and designed by Captain Samuel Brown of the royal navy, was founded in September, 1828, and finished in December, 1829, at a cost of about £20,000. The distance between the points of suspension is 432 feet. Each of the two towers, the tops of which form these points, is 23½ feet high from the foundation to the roadway, 44 feet from the roadway to the top of the cornice, and 3½ feet in the entablature, – in all 71 feet; is 40½ feet broad at the cutwater, and 39½ at the roadway; and is perforated by an archway 18 feet high, and 16 feet wide. Of four counter-abutments for securing the chains, and which are 115 feet distant from the towers, each consists of an arched chamber, a strong counterfort, a tunnel, and lying spandrel arch. In these the backstay-chains are strongly imbedded and fastened by great plates; and thence they rise to channels on the tops of the towers. “The bars of which the main [suspending] chains consist measure 8 feet 10 inches from centre to centre of the bolt-holes, 5 inches broad between the shoulders, and 1 inch thick throughout. All the main links or bars are of the same thickness, except those in the towers, which are ⅟16th of an inch thicker, and of length to suit the curve of the cast-iron saddles. Each main suspending chain – of which there are two on each side of the bridge one over the other, placed one foot apart – consists of four lines of chain-bars. The joints of the upper main chains are over the middle long bar in the lower chains; and the suspending rods which support the beams on which the roadway is laid, are 5 feet distant from each other. The chains are of wrought cable-iron; the beams are of cast-iron, formed with open spaces 26 feet 8 inches long, 10 inches deep at the neck of the tenons, and 1 inch thick in every part between the flanges.” [New Statistical Account.] The roadway is 26 feet broad between the suspending rails; the planking or platform is bolted to the iron-beams, and overlaid with a composition of coal, tar, pitch, and broken metal, impervious to water, and deadening the hollow noise caused by the tread of horses and the motion of vehicles; along the sides of the platform runs an ornamental cornice, contrived so as to lessen the vibration of the bridge; and a stripe of the roadway at each side is disposed for foot-passengers, and railed off from the carriage-way by a handsome guard-chain. Such was, and such, with some differences of detail as to the roadway, still is, the suspension-bridge of Montrose. But the splendid and seemingly powerful erection has, on two occasions, suffered appalling accidents. “A crowd having assembled on it,” say the Messrs. Nicol, “to witness a boat-race, and a rush taking place to the east end as the boats passed through, the upper chain gave way, owing to an imperfection about one of the saddles on the top of the north tower, and fell, resting on the lower chain. Several persons were caught between the chains, and killed on the spot; but fortunately the under chain proved sufficient to support the additional weight, otherwise the whole party would have been precipitated into the water. The bridge was speedily repaired during 1838; but in October that year a fearful gale tore up and destroyed about two-thirds of it, which were thrown into the river; but the main chains were uninjured, and the roadway has been re-constructed on an entirely new and substantial plan by Mr. J. M. Rendal, civil engineer, at an expense of upwards of £3,000. Including all repairs, the whole cost of the erection has been nearly £27,000. The duties levied at the bridge yield an annual revenue of £1,500.” At the time when the bridge was erected, the central arch of the stone one across the southern channel of the South Esk, was taken down, and substituted by a revolving drawbridge which allows vessels to trade upward to Old Montrose. See articles INCHBRAYOCK and MARYTON. Forthill, a small eminence standing close upon the river at the site of the suspension-bridge, and anciently crowned with a fortification, was cut through during the preliminary operations for the erection of the bridge, and disclosed a stratum of human bones nearly 14 feet thick.
The harbour of Montrose extends from the bridge 650 yards down the South Esk, opposite Inchbrayock, and is very commodious, and furnished with excellent quays. A good wet dock was constructed during last century; a patent slip for the repairing of vessels was provided at a later period; and a dry dock was a few years ago constructed on the opposite bank. Two lighthouses stand on a line, 400 yards apart, between the harbour and the sea, to guide vessels into the river during the night. Connected with them is a house, occupied by the keeper of the lights, and provided with appliances for the recovery of persons who have suffered shipwreck. Vessels of all sizes navigating the coast have, at all times of the tide, sufficient water to enter the harbour; but, the entrance being narrowed by a rock called the Stone, which projects from the south side, they have, in certain states of the wind, some difficulty in taking the river. As a port of the custom-house, with a complete establishment, Montrose comprehends within its bounds the whole coast, from the lights of Tay on the south, to Bervie-brow or the Tod-head on the north, and of course includes Arbroath, East and West Havens, Gordon and Johnshaven. The shipping belonging strictly to its own harbour, or exclusive of that belonging to these subordinate ports, was –
In 1789, 53 vessels of aggregately 3,543 tons.
In 1820, 83 . . . . . . . 7,516
In 1831, 106 . . . . . . 10,300
In 1830, 108 . . . . . . 11,000
In 1838, 115 . . . . . . 15,000
Four large vessels were long employed in the Greenland whale-fishery, and fully shared the fates of that precarious trade; four regular traders sail to London, two to Leith, and two to Glasgow; one steam-vessel has, for some time, plied to London every ten days, and another to Leith daily; and the rest of the shipping is employed in the Baltic and the coasting trades. The principal foreign import is flax, annually brought from the Baltic to the amount of about 2,500 tons. Timber, chiefly fir, is brought from the same quarter to the annual amount of between 1,500 and 1,600 loads. Hemp and tallow are the only other imports from abroad, and are very small in quantity. The imports coastwise are principally coal, lime, slate, and iron; but, besides some other articles, they include also almost all the wines and foreign spirits which are consumed in the circumjacent country, and which are bonded at the port till taken out for consumption. Foreign exports scarcely if at all exist; manufactured goods and other articles designed for foreign markets being sent coastwise for exportation from Dundee, London, Leith, and Glasgow. Exports for home-markets consist, with the exception of some pavement or ‘Arbroath stones,’ of agricultural produce, fish, and pork. The grain sent from the port is said to be greater in quantity, and to be not lower in quality, than that sent from any other in Scotland. In 1835, there were shipped 23,695 quarters of barley, 3,452 of pulse, 3,343 of oats, 1,425 of wheat, 65 of rye, and 114,560 stones of potatoes. A great part of the produce of excellent salmon-fishings in the river, and along the coast is sent in a fresh state to the London market [see FERRYDEN]; and to the same market and other parts of England are sent vast quantities of dried and salted cod. In 1835, the quantity of salmon shipped was 1,882 boxes, and of cod 902 barrels. In the same year cured pork was shipped for London to the extent of 202 tons; but it has since greatly increased in quantity, and become an article of staple trade.
The manufactures of the town are very considerable both in importance and in variety. Four flax spinning-mills are driven by steam-power aggregately equal to 129 horse-power, and produce nearly 900,000 spindles a-year. Three other mills connected with the town, but situated on the North Esk, one in the parish of Montrose, two in that of LOGIE-PERT, [which see,] and all driven by water-power, produce about half the quantity of the town-mills. Between 500 and 600 looms, five-sixths of which are in factories, are all employed on the heavier and finer linen fabrics, – dowlas, sheetings, sailcloth, and bagging. The largest article is bleached dowlas, and the next largest bleached ducks. The aggregate annual quantity of all the fabrics woven is about 25,000 pieces, exclusive of a very considerable produce at agencies in the neighbourhood. “The average nett weekly earnings of all classes of weavers,” say the commissioners on Hand-loom Weavers’ Report, published in 1839, “was stated by them to be 6s. 8d.; but, as stated by the manufacturers, and corroborated by the examination of their books, was from 7s. 6d. to 8s. 6d. Saturday afternoon and Monday are generally idle days: the average of working hours per week may be about 70. Embezzlement has been only lately suspected. Intemperance always increases with any advance of wages. The weavers here were on remarkably good terms with their employers, to whose liberality they consider much indebted. They find little difficulty in getting an advance of wages without dispute, whenever the state and prospects of the trade are good.” The minor manufactories are two large tan-works, a foundery, two extensive rope-works and sail-making establishments, five breweries, a starch-work, two soap and candle works, and two large establishments for making machinery. Ship-building, both for the port of Montrose and for other ports, has long been carried on to a considerable extent, and with a ratio of increase nearly proportioned to the slow but steady prosperity of the town. Bricks and tiles are made in the vicinity. The species of snuff-box generally known as the Cumnock box was made in Montrose before being known in Ayrshire, and still continues to be produced, but not in such quantity as to compete with Cumnock and Mauchline.
Montrose had for some time a parent-bank, which disappeared in 1828; and it has at present branch-offices of the British Linen company’s bank, the Bank of Scotland, the Dundee Union bank, and the National bank of Scotland. There are in the town a natural and antiquarian society, established in 1837, and a museum of mineralogy, zoology, and antiquities; a commercial news-room, and an exchange coffee-room; two weekly newspapers – the Montrose Review, of long standing, and the Montrose Standard, of recent origin; a public subscription-library, founded in 1785, and containing between 7,000 and 8,000 volumes, a library belonging to the Montrose Reading society, and two parochial libraries consisting chiefly of religious books; an ancient hospital fund, under the management of the town-council, yielding between £160 and £190 a-year in monthly pensions to the poor, consisting of the proceeds of church-lands and teinds granted to the town in 1587 by James VI., and amounting in stock, at 30th September, 1833, to £4,431 1s. 10d.; various educational and charitable institutions, connected with public buildings, at which we have already glanced; Bailie James Auchterlony’s charity, founded in 1752, and consisting of the interest of £560 for the general poor, – Miss Mill’s, instituted in 1803, the interest of £467, – Mr. Mill’s fund, the interest of £1,000, – John Erskine, Esq. of Jamaica’s charity, a bequest, dated October 1786, of £2,000 for the benefit of 10 poor families with each three children, and of £3,000 for educating and maintaining 8 fatherless or motherless poor boys, and which having been advantageously vested in the lands of Harvieston, Kincardineshire, annually yields each of the 10 families about £13, and each of the 8 boys about £18, besides aggregately £50 a-year to an additional teacher in the grammar school, – David White’s free-school, founded in 1816, for 100 poor children, and his fund of £800 for the benefit of 20 householders, – Miss Jane Stratton’s charity, established in 1822, and consisting of a mortified fund of £1,800, employed in equal shares for the education of 42 boys and 35 girls, and for the support or aid of 10 poor gentlewomen, – Andrew Frazer’s charity, instituted in 1826, a fund of £500, the interest of which is annually expended on the 26th of February, in the distribution of coals and meal to the poorest inhabitants. Mrs. Innes’ fund, the interest of £1,000 for 10 poor widows, – Miss Graham’s fund, the interest of £100, – Mr. Cooper’s fund, the interest of £50, – a society, founded in 1799, for the relief of the destitute sick, – a society, founded in 1806, for the relief of indigent women, – and Miss Jane Thomson’s fund, instituted in 1838, and consisting of the interest of £3,500, and £30 of annual rent from property in John-street, for half-yearly distribution among 5 poor men and 5 poor women, inhabitants of the town, and of good character. Notwithstanding the great length of this list, and the very important pendicles of it anticipated in our notice of public buildings, we believe it is not complete, and must refer the curious for fuller information to ‘the Angus and Mearns Remembrancer,’ published annually, and to the local sketches of the Messrs. Nicol. The inhabitants of Montrose will appear to any man, from a glance at the institutions, and especially at the charitable ones, compared with the amount of the population, to be aggregately a very different class from that of many a manufacturing town of the same bulk. They singularly combine intelligence with industry, largely benevolent and liberal feeling with the arts of acquiring wealth, concern for intellectual and moral culture with care for the appliances of outward respectability, and appreciation of the best features of social life with indifference, or even contempt, for the fopperies and the monkeyisms of rabble-aristocracy. Though they probably include a larger proportion of families in opulent or easy circumstances than, with at most four or five exceptions, are to be found in any town of Scotland, no one needs be surprised that they have fixed a cold and withering look upon the amusements of the theatre and the turf. A race-course was at one time tracked out on the links, on as fine ground for the purpose as anywhere exists; but it has not once, for a long series of years, been the scene of so much as one race. A theatre, too, was built in Bridge-street; and, after being the occasional resort chiefly of apprentices and strangers, and then standing several years, assuming an appearance of premature desolation, was converted into dwelling-houses. Players, some five or six years ago, occasionally visited the town, and perhaps still do so, performing in places of temporary accommodation, but receiving no countenance from the respectable inhabitants, and obtaining, as is thought, very slender remuneration for their trouble. The fine healthful game of golf seems the chief amusement away from their own hearths which the Montrosians care for; it is much practised by persons of every rank and age, on one of the best grounds for the purpose in Scotland. Cricket likewise is a good deal practised on the same grounds, – the links.
The burgh of Montrose is of high antiquity; its first charter is from David I. The burgh place is to be held with all privileges and freedoms, “adeo libere sicut bona villa mea de Perth de me tenetur.” David II., by a charter dated 1st May, in the fortieth year of his reign, of new grants the burgh of Montrose to the burgesses and community thereof “cum territoriis et communi pastura dicti burgi sibi adjacentibus, cum piscariis infra aquas de North Esk et South Esk, in crovis, yaris, et retibus antiquis, et consuetis et pertinentibus ad dictum burgum, cum molandinis, sive ad ventum, sive ad aquam, et eorum multuris, cum tolloneo, parva custuma, curiis et earum exitibus habendis et tenendis in locis dicti burg debitis et consuetis, cum moris, maresiis, semitis atque viis, necnon cum omnibus aliis et singulis libertatibus, commoditatibus, aisiamentis, et justis pertinentiis quibuscumque, tam infra dictum burgum quam extra, tam sub terra quam super terram, ad prædictum burgum spectantibus, seu quoquo modo juste spectare valentibus, in futurum adeo libere et quiete, plenarie, integre et honorifice, bene et in pace, sicut aliquis burgorum nostrorum Scocie * * * * conceditur.” – In virtue of this charter, the petty customs, multures, weigh-house, flesh-market dues, &c., have been levied. About 58 years ago the meal and malt mills were disused, and since then no multures have been exacted. By a charter of King James IV., dated 20th September, 1493, that monarch gave and granted to “our lovittes, the aldirmen, balzies, consale, and communitie of our burgh of Montross, and their successoris perpetuallie, siklike privilegis, freedoun, charges and ankerages, to be raist and taken at the pere, port and havin of oure said burgh, of all schippis, crearis, and botis pertening to our leigis and strangaris, as is grantit and given be our maist nobill progenitors to the ports of Leyth and Dundee, or any otheris within our realme.” In virtue of this charter the magistrates levy shore-dues, anchorage, and plankage at the harbour, by which they uphold piers, buoys, and moorings within the harbour. The property of the burgh consists of lands, houses, feu-duties, the harbour, shares in Marykirk-bridge, seats in the churches, money lent to the trustees of the Forfar road, and money in the bank; it amounted, in 1832, in gross value, to £54,986 12s. 3d.; and after the deducting of debts, and all liabilities, it showed a free balance of £27,442 16s. 7½d. In 1833, the revenue was £3,184 3s. 8½d.; the expenditure £4,700 17s. 10d., – extraordinary expenses having been incurred by important local improvements. The corporation revenue in 1839-40 was £3,007. The assessments by authority of parliament are that for the second minister’s stipend, the cess or land-tax, and twopence on the pint of ale and beer for supplying the town with water; by authority of charter the shore and harbour dues, the petty customs, the weigh-house dues, and the fleshmarket dues; and by authority of the head court, an assessment for lighting the town, amounting, in 1833, to 6d. per pound of rent, – an assessment for a night patrol or police, amounting, in 1833, to 3d. per pound of rent; three farthings per ton on all vessels clearing out from the harbour for the maintenance of the light-houses, and of a bonded wood-yard; and an assessment of 4d. per pound of rent on all houses above £3 within burgh, in aid of the kirk-session’s funds for the poor. The head-court, or municipal assembly of the citizens, has been regularly held at least once a-year for about 150 years back. The burgh is governed by a provost, 3 bailies, a dean-of-guild, a treasurer, and 14 councillors. In the charter of erection by King David I., the burgh lands are said to contain “quatuor carucatas terre cum dimidia;” but the privileges of the burgesses are thereby declared to extend “de aqua de Thawhoke usque Findon, et de Findon per partes boreales usque ad aquam de Carndy, et sic descendendo per partes australes usque ad aquam de Deychty, sicut currit in Dromlay.” The magistrates and council, however, exercise no jurisdiction over this extensive territory; and the royalty of the burgh, over which the jurisdiction of the magistrates extends, though not exactly defined, is understood to be circumscribed by the German ocean on the east, by the river South Esk on the south, by the Constable-hill on the south-west, by the burn of Tayock (or Thawhoke as it is called in the old charter) on the west, by the lands of Newmanswalls on the north-west, and by the lands of Wardhouse and Charleton on the north. – The Constable-hill, which the town acquired by purchase, and which is included in the parliamentary boundaries, is consequently beyond their jurisdiction. A weekly court is held by one of the bailies. – There are no pecuniary limits to the magistrates’ jurisdiction in civil causes. – One of the town clerks acts as assessor to the magistrates. – The civil offices in the patronage of the magistrates and council are those of – two town clerks, whose salaries and emoluments average about £51; – the procurator-fiscal, who is elected annually after the appointment of the magistrates, and has no salary; – the chamberlain, who is also elected annually, is a member of the council, and receives £50, or 50 guineas, per annum; – the master of the hospital, and the treasurer, also members of the council, who receive no salaries, and the greatest part of whose duties is done by the chamberlain, who keeps all the accounts belonging to the offices; – three town serjeants, including the gaoler, who receives 15s., the others 10s. 6d. per week; – the constable, whose business is to keep the town free of vagrants, and who receives 9s. per week; – the coal-meter and his servants, whose business is to weigh coals delivered from the ships to the inhabitants of the town; – and the other offices are those of the second minister of the quoad civilia parish, and the rector, and all the teachers of Montrose grammar-school. – There are 7 incorporated trades; and a guildry. The trades, with the respective number of their members in 1833, and the entrance-fees severally exacted by them from strangers, are blacksmiths, 43, £5; wrights, 45, £5; shoemakers, 33, £5; weavers, 53, £2 10s.; masons and slaters, 39, £10; bakers, 27, £5; and tailors, 41, £5. They possess funds, which they apply to the relief of sick and poor aged members; but, in no instance, have any right of presenting, or of being presented to schools, hospitals, or similar institutions. The incorporation of the guildry enjoys the exclusive privilege of carrying on merchandise within the burgh. The number of guild-brethren alive at Michaelmas 1831 was 269. In 1709 they were reported to be about 200. – The fees exacted on entry are, – for strangers, £16 16s.; – for apprentices, £10 10s.; – sons and sons-in-law of guild-freemen, £8 8s. – No sums are paid annually by members. – Previously to 1816 the magistrates and council took the exclusive management of the funds of the guildry; but that year the guildry obtained the control of their own funds, and received from the magistrates the sum of £150, said to belong to them. At Michaelmas 1831 the funds amounted to £170 0s. 8d.: the annual rent of these funds is paid quarterly to the decayed members of the incorporation, and to the widows and children of decayed members left in indigent circumstances. The fees of entry for burgesses are, for strangers, £4 4s.; for apprentice to a freeman, £3 3s.; for a freeman’s son or son-in-law, £2 2s.; besides 5s. to town-clerk, and 3s. to the town-officers. – The town is lighted at night with gas by a company formed in 1827; and supplied with water brought in pipes from a place about 3 miles distant in the parish of Dun. Private water-pipes are allowed to houses on payment of 2½ per cent. on the rent. The streets have of late years been well-paved and superintended; and are kept clear of every sort of nuisance. A weekly-market is held on Friday, when the chief part of the grain shipped at the port is sold by sample, and all descriptions of farm and garden produce are exposed; and annual fairs are held at Whitsunday and Martinmas, chiefly for the hiring of servants. Montrose unites with Arbroath, Brechin, Forfar, and Bervie in sending a member to parliament. Constituency, in 1839, 387. Population, estimated in 1709, at 6,000; in 1801, at 7,000; and, in 1821, at 9,000; stated in the New Statistical Account, written in 1835, to be 11,500; and amounting, in 1841, to 15,094.
Montrose, according to Boethius, was anciently called Celurea. Very conflicting and uncertain opinions have been advanced as to the etymology of its modern name, and are thus succinctly disposed of by a contemporary:- “In Latin, it is called Manturum by Ravenna; and by Cambden, Mons Rosarum, ‘the Mount of Roses;’ in French, Mons-trois, ‘the three hills or mounts;’ in the ancient British, Manter-rose, ‘the mouth of the stream;’ in the Gaelic, Mon-ross, ‘the promontory hill,‘ or Moinross, ‘the promontory of the moss;’ or meadh (pronounced mu) ain-ross, ‘the field or plain of the peninsula.’ The second of these derivations, though the most unlikely of all, is countenanced by the seal of the town, which bears the ornament of roses, with the following motto:- ‘Mare ditat, Rosa decorat,’ – the sea enriches and the rose adorns; but the two last, besides being the most probable, correspond best with the pronunciation of the name by the common people in the neighbourhood, and by all who speak the Gaelic language, to wit, Munross.” [Chambers’ Gazetteer.] – Montrose is named in Dalrymple’s Annals of Scotland, under the year 1244, as one of the principal towns of the kingdom which, in that year, were destroyed by fire. A castle of very ancient origin, formerly crowned the summit of Fort-hill; and on the authority of Sir James Balfour and of Wynton, contests the notoriety of having been the scene of King John Baliol’s humiliation to Edward of England, and divestment of his royal robes and crown:-
“This John the Baliol, on purpos
He tuk and browcht hym til Munros,
And in the castell of that town,
That then was famous in renown,
This John the Baliol dyspoyled he
Of all his robys of ryaltie.
The pelure tuk off his tabart,
Tume tabart he was callyt aftyrwart.”
Montrose, according to Froissart, was the port whence Lord James Douglas, at the head of a numerous knightly retinue, embarked in the spring of 1330 to fulfil the last charge of King Robert Bruce, to carry his heart to Jerusalem and deposit it in the holy sepulchre. In the rolls of the parliament held in Edinburgh in 1357 for ransoming David II. from his English captivity, Montrose figures in the very centre of the royal burghs, eight preceding and eight following it; and would therefore appear to have at that period attained very considerable consequence. The inhabitants of Montrose suffered severe and arbitrary oppressions from John Erskine, Laird of Dun, the grandfather to the celebrated reforming companion of John Knox, and from members of his family; and eventually driven beyond patience by their tyranny, obtained, in 1493, a royal warrant calling them to account for their conduct. In 1534, the tyrant’s grandson, the illustrious Erskine of Dun, afterwards superintendent of Angus, introduced Greek literature into Montrose, and established there a seminary in which the Greek language was taught by persons brought by him from France. This seminary was the earliest appliance in Scotland for conveying a knowledge of Greek. Andrew Melville, born in the contiguous parish of Craig, often styled the father of presbytery in Scotland, and justly regarded as the reviver of Scottish learning, and the founder of Scotland’s literary greatness, was educated in this seminary; and when he removed in his 14th year to the university of St. Andrews, he astonished his teachers, none of whom understood Greek, by displaying acquaintanceship with the learned language. James Melville, the nephew of Andrew, also attended this seminary, and, in his diary, gives some interesting details of the management of the school, and of kindness shown to him by the parish minister. In 1612, Montrose witnessed the birth within its precincts of James Graham, Marquis of Montrose, the distinguished figurant in the civil wars of Scotland, first as the champion of the Covenant, and next and chiefly as the enthusiastic partisan of the infatuated Stuarts. From May 1648 till February 1649, the plague desolated the town, driving crowds to the country in panic, and making such fearful havoc among those who remained, that a large tumulus is pointed out to the present day, on the links immediately north-east of the town, as the place where many victims to it were interred. At the commencement of the 18th century, John Young, a citizen of Montrose, who had been sent by the magistrates to Holland to learn the best known methods of constructing and working windmills, was the only person found in Scotland to understand the management of pumps in coal-works. In December 1715, the Chevalier, missing the Frith of Forth, whither he designed to steer with his French fleet, sailed into Montrose, and commenced there his preposterous expedition; and in February 1716, he spent a night in the town, went by a back-door from his lodgings to those of the Earl of Mar, walked thence by a private footpath with two attendants to the sea-side, and there was taken on board a vessel prepared to carry him off, and made his escape to France. The house in which he lodged was that in which the Marquis of Montrose, was born and long commanded attention as the most noted ancient tenement of the town, but, a considerable number of years ago, was removed. The noble family of Graham, who have had from Montrose the titles successively of Earl, Marquis, and Duke in the peerage of Scotland, have long ceased to possess any connexion of interest with either the town or its vicinity.