[Gazetteer of Scotland Contents]
BANCHORY-DAVINICK, a parish divided into two parts by the river Dee, which being the boundary between the counties of Aberdeen and Kincardine, that part of the parish which lies on the north side of the river is in the former county, and that on the south side in the latter. That part of the parish in Aberdeenshire, is a strip about one mile in breadth, and 4 in length, and stretching both farther east and farther west than the parish does upon the opposite bank. On the east this part is bounded by the parish of Old-Machar; on the north by Newhills, and on the west by Peterculter. The Kincardineshire portion is bounded on the east by the parish of Nigg, and by the German ocean [North sea], for about 3 miles; on the south by Fetteresso parish; and on the west by Fetteresso and Maryculter. The coast is bold and rocky, but presents three small fishing-harbours, Findon, Portlethen, and Downees or Dounies. The first of these villages had a population, in 1831, of 224; the second of 220; and the third of about 100. The general appearance of the country is rugged and stony. The stone which prevails is blue granite. The soil is in general light, and either mossy or sandy, but when properly managed produces good grain, particularly on the river side, and on some parts of the coast. The writer of the Statistical account, in 1792, complains of the high price of labour operating as a bar to agriculture in this district. A day-labourer, if a good hand, then earned 1s. a-day for nine months of the year, and 9d. a-day the other three; and the wages of a capable farm-servant, who had his victuals found, was “seldom under £6, and sometimes as high as £9 a-year.” An anecdote related by the same writer curiously illustrates the change which has taken place in the value of land here as elsewhere throughout Scotland within the last hundred years. “Mr. Fordyce of Ardo, one of those brave men,” says the reporter, ” who circumnavigated the globe with Lord Anson, and suffered so many hardships in the service of their country, after accomplishing that voyage, returned to Scotland in the year 1744, with the well-earned wages of his toil, and purchased the estate of Ardo in this parish, where he has resided ever since. When he took possession of his estate, he found the mansion-house, such as it was, with the garden, and about 40 acres of land, in the hands of a tenant, who paid about £3 6s. 8d. sterling annually. Having it in contemplation at that time to go abroad again, he asked the man if he would renew his lease, which was expired, at the annual rent of .£5 sterling, his answer was, ‘Na, by my faith, God has gien me mair wit!’ Mr. Fordyce,” adds the reporter, “settled, and employed himself in improving the land, which is now in a good state of cultivation, and would rent at £1 5s, an acre.” The river Dee is here about 80 yards broad, but is not navigable. From its long course, and the mountainous country through which it runs, it is subject to sudden and high floods. A foot suspension bridge has been thrown across the Dee in this parish. Its span between the pillars is 185 feet, and whole length 305 feet. Population, in 1801, 1,557; in 1831, 2,588, of whom 1,905 resided in the Kincardineshire portion of the parish. Houses 468, of which 353 were in Kincardineshire. Assessed property £5,312. – Although the church stands in Kincardineshire, the parish is in the presbytery and synod of Aberdeen. Patron, the Crown. Stipend £159 2s. 9d., with a manse, and a glebe of the value of £13 16s. 8d. Church built in 1822; sittings 900. There are about 30 dissenters in the parish. There is a chapel-of-ease at Portlethen, about 4½ miles from the parish-church, originally an old family-chapel; sittings 460. Dr. Morison, incumbent of the parish, amongst other benefactions has built and endowed a good school-house at this latter village. The parish-school is attended by about 40 children. School-master’s salary £30, with about £20 fees and other emoluments. There are other two private schools. – There are several very large cairns, both on the north side of the river, and towards the coast. There is also on the south side of the parish, a Druidical temple, situated on an eminence about 1½ mile from the coast.