Stonehaven, pp.711-712.

[Gazetteer of Scotland Contents]

   STONEHAVEN – vulgarly STANEHIVE – a sea-port, a considerable town, a burgh-of-barony, and the capital of Kincardineshire, stands at the north-east end of the great strath of Scotland, 15 miles south by west of Aberdeen, 61 south-south-east of Banff, 13½ north-east of Laurencekirk, 23 north-north-east of Montrose, 34 north-north-east of Arbroath, 51 north-east of Dundee, and 94 north-north-east of Edinburgh. Its site is at the influx of the Carron and the Cowie to the ocean, in a valley almost narrow enough to be called a glen, and flanked by two ranges of heights, the northerly one of which has the reputation of being the eastern abutment of the far-extending range of Grampians. See INTRODUCTION, and the articles GRAMPIANS and STRATHMORE. The town consists of two parts, an old and a new, separated from each other by a well-defined boundary, situated on the estates of different proprietors, and possessing such marked distinctiveness of character as to be in effect two towns under one name. The old town stands on the south bank of the Carron; consists chiefly of two considerable streets; and has an ill-built, irregular, and unpleasant appearance. The new town, greatly more important than the other in wealth, in prosperity, and even in population, stands on a cuneiform peninsula between the Carron and the Cowie; and consists of regular, well-edificed, spacious streets, with a square in the centre. A handsome market-house in the square, was built in 1827, and contains a large hall, a public dispensary, and various other accommodations. A bridge across the Carron connects the towns, and carries along the Edinburgh and Aberdeen mail-road. The places of worship are noticed in the account of DUNNOTTAR and FETTERESSO, to which parishes the old and the new towns respectively belong. Here are branch offices of the Bank of Scotland, and the Aberdeen town and country bank, a savings’ bank, and Donaldson’s free-school. A considerable manufactory of cotton and linen goods has almost totally disappeared. A distillery, capable of distilling 3,000 gallons per week, and a large brewery, are in the vicinity. The fishing-village of Cowie. situated less than ¼ of a mile to the north, and containing a population of about 200, may be regarded as a suburb. The harbour of Stonehaven is a small natural basin a little south of the mouth of the Carron; it is sheltered on the north side by a convenient quay, and on the south side by a projecting high rock, and offers a safe retreat to vessels during storms; and it was a few years ago much improved by the erection of strong piers. A body of trustees, only a minority of whom belong to the town-council, manage the affairs of the harbour, under an act passed in 1825; they borrowed £7,884 to effect improvements, but became involved in an expensive and unsuccessful litigation concerning the right of quarrying from the adjacent ground the materials for the piers, and, in consequence, found the interest of the debt running into arrears and they exact dues which, though allowed by the act, are complained of as oppressive and unequal, and believed to operate, in many instances, as a prohibition to trade. The revenue, in 1826. amounted to £604; but, in 1832, it had decreased to £488. The vessels belonging to the harbour, in 1840, were 9; and they are employed principally in exporting grain to Leith, and importing coals and lime. A herring fishery, during the season, is extensive and prosperous. But the town derives its main support from being the seat of the sheriff-courts, and the chosen home of a number of annuitants. The old town has the reputation and rights of a burgh-of-barony; but can neither show its charter, nor ascertain its date. By act of parliament 1600, c.51, the court-place of the sheriffdom of Mernis, or Kincardine, was changed from the town of Kincardine to the Stanehyve, as most convenient to the lieges within the shire; and an act passed 1607, c.10, in ratifying the preceding statue, ordains ‘the said burgh of Stanehive to be in all time coming the head burgh of the sheriffdom of Kincardine.’ In the year 1624, William, Earl-marischal, the superior, entered into a contract with the feuars of the town, by which it was agreed that two resident burgesses of the burgh, yearly presented by the inhabitants, and chosen by the Earl, should be bailies, and should have power to choose their own members, and to hold courts, and decern anent their own civil and common affairs. After the forfeiture of the last Earl-marischal no magistrates were appointed, but the affairs of the town were conducted by managers appointed by the feuars; to one of whom the sheriff of the county was in the practice of granting a substitution, to qualify him to act as a sheriff within the burgh, until the late Lord Keith purchased the superiority of the town in 1797, when bailies were again appointed, and were annually chosen from leets presented by the feuars, down to 1812. About that time, a dispute having arisen between the superior and the feuars, no election took place, and the town property was managed by Lord Keith’s private agent until his lordship’s death. After the death of Lord Keith his trustees restored the old constitution, and since 1823 they have annually chosen two out of a leet of four resident feuars, presented by the whole resident feuars, to be bailies. These receive a commission from the superior, and nominate for the year a council, consisting of three councillors, a dean of guild, and a treasurer; they also appoint a town-clerk, a procurator-fiscal, and two officers. The burgh property yields £27 12s. 6d. a-year of income; a trifling revenue arises from other sources; and the expenditure, in 1833, amounted to £30 1s. The magistrates exercise no practical jurisdiction beyond two or three petty criminal cases a-year. Nearly the whole of that class from which the magistrates ought to be chosen have removed to the more convenient dwellings of the new town, and are in consequence unconnected with the burgh. The only police, besides ill-paid and inefficient burgh-officers, consists of one constable, paid by private subscription. Water has long been supplied to the old town by public street wells; and, in 1833, it was introduced to the new town by a private company. Lighting was an important desideratum till the recent erection of the gas-works. Cleansing is very defective, owing to a fondness of the inhabitants of the old town for dunghills at their doors, and the want of legal power in the authorities to remove the horrid nuisances. The new town has suddenly risen, and is rapidly increasing. A weekly market is held at Stonehaven on Thursday; and annual fairs are held for cattle on the 2d Thursday of October, and the Thursday before the 22d of November, – for cattle and sheep, on the Thursday before Candlemas, old style, – for cattle and horses, on the 3d Thursday of June, old style, on the 2d Thursday of August, and on the 2d Friday of October, – and for hiring, on the day before Martinmas, and the Thursday before Christmas, both old style. Population, in 1821, about 2,150; in 1833, about 3,050. Houses at and above £10 yearly rent, in 1833, – in the old town, about 21, – in the new town, about 104.

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