ABERDEEN, the capital of Aberdeenshire, and the third town in importance in Scotland, consists, strictly speaking, of two distinct towns, the Old and the New, situated at the distance of about a mile from each other, in different parishes, and having distinct charters and privileges, but included within the same parliamentary boundary, and uniting in returning one member to parliament. The population of the united towns, in 1707, was 6,500; in 1801, 27,608; in 1831, 58,019; in 1841, 63,262.
OLD ABERDEEN is a burgh of barony, the seat of a university, and formerly of a bishop’s see. It is situated on the right or south bank of the river Don, to the north of New Aberdeen, in the parish of Old Machar. The population of the city, as distinct from the parish, is about 2,000. It is a place of great antiquity, and was of considerable importance towards the end of the 9th century. David I., in 1154, translated the episcopal see from Mortlach to this place, and granted “to God and the blessed Mary, St Machar, and Nectarius, bishop of Aberdeen, the haill village of Old Aberdon.” Malcolm IV., William the Lion, and James IV., successively confirmed and enlarged the original charter, and conferred extensive grants of lands and teinds on the bishop of Aberdeen. On the abolition of Episcopacy, the right of appointing magistrates fell to the Crown; and, in 1723, a warrant of the Privy council authorized the then magistrates to elect their successors in office in future. Previous to the late municipal alterations, the council, including the provost, four bailies, and a treasurer, consisted of 19 members. The limits of the burgh are ill-defined. In 1834, there were 64 inhabitants of the burgh whose rents were £10 and upwards; and 94 whose rents were £5 and under £10. The revenue of the burgh, in 1832, was £43 5s; the expenditure £14 16s. 6d. The burgh has no debts, and little property: the latter consisting only of a right of commonty in a moss, and a freedom hill lying north of the Don, the Town-house, feu-duties, customs, and a sum of £310. The magistrates are trustees of £2,791 13s. 4d., three per cent, consols, being a proportion of a bequest left by Dr. Bell to found a school upon the Madras plan; and also of Mitchell’s hospital, endowed in 1801, for maintaining five widows and five unmarried daughters of burgesses. There are seven incorporated crafts, but no guildry. Old Aberdeen is a place of little trade. The market is on Thursday; and there are fairs on the last Thursday of April, and the third Tuesday of October.
The Town-house is a neat building, erected towards the close of last century. The Trades’ hospital, built on the site of the Mathurine convent, was founded in 1533 by Bishop Dunbar. There are no remains of the Bishop’s palace. The Cathedral was originally founded in 1154; but having become ruinous, it was demolished, and a splendid new one founded by Bishop Kinnimonth in 1357. It is said to have been seventy years in progress, but it does not appear to have ever been completed. The nave is used as the parish-church. It underwent some repairs in 1832. It is 135 feet in length, by 64 in breadth. The western window is a very fine one; and the ceiling is of oak beautifully carved. Grose has given a view of this building. It is said to have contained a valuable library which was destroyed at the Reformation. There are some curious and splendid monuments in the interior.
The King’s college, the chief ornament of the place, is a large and stately fabric, situated at a little distance from the town on the east side. It appears that there existed, so long ago as the reign of Malcolm IV., a “Studium generale in collegio canonicorum Aberdoniensium,” which subsisted till the foundation of this college by Bishop Elphinstone. In 1494, Pope Alexander VI., by a bull dated February 10th, instituted, in the city of Old Aberdon, or Aberdeen, an university, or “Studium generale et Universitas studii generalis,” for theology, canon and civil law, medicine, the liberal arts, and every lawful faculty; and privileged to grant degrees. James IV. applied for this bull on the supplication of Bishop Elphinstone, who is considered as the founder. But though the bull was granted in 1494, the college was not founded till the year 1505. It was dedicated to St Mary; but, being taken under the immediate protection of the king, it was denominated King’s college. James IV. and Bishop Elphinstone endowed it with large revenues; which were still further increased by James VI. who endowed it with the parsonage and vicarage of St. Machar, and various other possessions; and Charles I. attempted to unite it with Marischal college, and gifted the bishop’s house to the principal. The income of King’s college in 1836. derived from endowments, was £1,215; from Crown grants £1,148. In 1840 this college received the munificent bequest of £11,000 from the estate of the late Dr. Simpson of Worcester. Upon the abolition of Episcopacy, the patronage became vested in the Crown. The building is ancient, and contains a chapel, in which the body of the founder is deposited, a library, museum, common hall, rooms for the lectures, and a long uniform range of modern houses for the accommodation of the professors. Considerable additions and repairs were made on the buildings in 1827. The library contains about 30,000 volumes; and is entitled to a copy of all the books entered at Stationers’ hall. The chapel is open during the session for the accommodation of the professors and students. It seats from 300 to 350. Behind is the garden of the college, and the principal’s house and garden. The session lasts twenty-one weeks, beginning in November. The officers are, a chancellor, who is generally a nobleman, a rector, a principal, a sub-principal, and a procurator who has charge of the funds. The Senatus Academicus elect to all the offices of the university, with the exception of the professorship of oriental languages appointed by the Crown, and that of divinity, which is in the patronage of the synod of Aberdeen. The senate also assumes the power of expulsion. There are nine professorships – humanity, Greek, mathematics, natural philosophy, logic and moral philosophy, oriental languages, civil law, medicine, and divinity. The number of students, exclusive of medical students, attending King’s college annually, on an average of the last ten years, has been 365. There are 128 bursaries of from £5 to £50 per annum. The annual amount paid under this head is £1,643. Hector Boethius was the first principal of this college, and was sent for from Paris for that purpose, on a salary of 40 merks Scots, equal about to £2 3s. 4d. In the first report of the University commissioners, published in 1838, it is recommended that the two universities of Aberdeen shall be united into one university, to be called ‘The United University of Aberdeen;’ but that King’s college and Marischal college shall continue separate as colleges for the administration of their respective property and funds.
The parish of Old Aberdeen, or Old Machar, was originally a deanery, called the deanery of St Machar; and comprehended the parishes of Old Machar, New Machar, and Newhills. In ancient times, however, these districts do not seem to have been so many separate parishes, but only chapelries, in each of which divine worship was regularly performed, as the inhabitants of so extensive a district could not conveniently meet in one place for public worship. New Machar seems to have been erected into a separate parish about the time of the Reformation; and Newhills about the year 1663. The parish o’ Old Machar, or Old Aberdeen, or the Old Town parish, is in the presbytery and synod of Aberdeen. It has been recently divided into four other quoad sacra parishes: viz., Holburn, Gilcomston, Bon Accord, and Woodside.
1st. OLD MACHAR. The boundaries of this parish are somewhat uncertain. It includes an extensive landward district, besides the burgh of Old Aberdeen, and part of New Aberdeen. The population, in 1836-7, was estimated at 10,716, of whom 8,064 belonged to the established church, and 2,436 were dissenters. The cathedral of St Machar – as already stated – is the parish church. It has 1,594 sittings. The charge is collegiate. Stipend of the 1st minister, £273 1s. 3d, without a rnanse or glebe; of the 2d minister, £282 19s. 9d., with a manse and a glebe of the yearly value of £31 10s. – School-master’s salary £30, with £32 fees, and about £30 emoluments. There were 62 private schools throughout the old parish, which were attended by 2,160 children, in 1833.
2d. HOLBURN. The extent of this quoad sacra parish is about 2.5 square miles. It is partly a landward, partly a town-district. Population estimated, in 1836-7, at 3,370, of whom 2,658 were churchmen. The church was built by subscription in 1836, at a cost of £1,858, and seats 1,332. The sum of £100 is secured by bond to the incumbent, besides what may be derived from seat-rents after paying the interest on the debt affecting the church.
3d. GILCOMSTON. This is a compact town-parish. It was formerly a chapel-of-ease to Old Machar, and was erected into a quoad sacra parish, in May, 1834. Population, in 1836-7, 4,950, of whom about two-thirds belonged to the establishment. The church was erected by subscription, in 1769-71; and enlarged in 1796. It has 1,522 sittings. Stipend £230, entirely derived from seat-rents. There is no manse or glebe. The dissenting congregations in this parish are: 1st, St John’s, Episcopalian. Established in 1812. Sittings 386. Average attendance 300. Stipend from £120 to £130. 2d, Original Seceders. Established in 1810. Sittings 500. Average attendance 200. The minister has a house adjoining the chapel. Stipend £115.
4th. BON ACCORD. This parish is wholly a town-parish. It was created in 1834. Population, in 1836-7, 4,387, of whom 2,557 belonged to the establishment, and 1,206 to other denominations. Church built in 1823, by Scotch Baptists; bought for a chapel-of-ease in 1828. Sittings 840. Stipend £150, wholly derived from seat-rents. There is a Baptist congregation in this parish, renting a hall with 180 sittings, of which about one-half are usually occupied.
5th. WOODSIDE. This parish was erected in 1835. It is without the royalty, but within the parliamentary boundary, and consists of four villages. Population, in 1835, 4,238, chiefly residing in the three contiguous villages of Cotton, Tanfield, and Woodside. The latter, which is the principal village, is distant about 1¼ mile from Old Aberdeen, and 2 miles from New Aberdeen. Church built in 1829-30, at a cost of £1,890. Sittings 1,420. Stipend £150, without manse or glebe. There are four sabbath-schools, but no parochial school. There is an Independent congregation at Cotton. Established in 1819. Stipend £50, with a house and garden. Sittings 480.
The extent of the parish of Old Aberdeen is 16.6 square miles; its form irregular. Its south-east corner forms the north and west boundaries of New Aberdeen, or the parish of St Nicholas. It extends about 2½ miles up the Dee; by which river it is bounded on the south, and divided from the parish of Nigg, in the county of Kincardine. The western boundary stretches in a crooked line from a point 100 yards above the bridge of Dee to the Scatter burn, and thence along its course to its junction with the Don. By this line it is divided from the parishes of Banchory-Davenick and Newhills. Joining the Don, the boundary line follows the course of that river to a point about 6 miles from its mouth. In this quarter, the Don divides it from the parishes of Newhills and Dyce; the northern boundary divides it from the parishes of New Machar and Belhelvie, and meets the sea at the Black Dog, a solitary rock of a black colour, in the sands of Belhelvie, within high water mark. On the east, the parish is bounded by the sea, from the Black Dog to the mouth of the Dee: the extent of coast being about 6 miles, and in general flat and sandy. The greatest length of the parish from north to south may be 7½ miles, and its greatest breadth 4. It rises in a gentle slope from the sea, and though there is no eminence in it that deserves the name of a mountain, yet its surface is beautifully diversified by rising grounds. The windings of the Dee and the Don, the number of gentlemen’s seats and villas, together with the varied prospects of the sea, the rivers, the cities of Old and New Aberdeen, and the villages of Gilcomston and Hardgate, give a pleasant variety to the general appearance of this district. The steep and rugged banks of the Don, from the house of Seaton to below the old bridge, are truly romantic. On the south side of the parish, near to Ferryhills, are many curious little sandhills, lying in all directions, and moulded into various forms seemingly by the retiring of some immense quantity of water. The soil is in some places naturally fertile, but many parts of it have been forced into fertility by labour and expense. Where it has not been meliorated by art, it is in general shallow and sandy. The population of the entire district was, in 1821, 18,312; in 1831, 25,017. Assessed property, in 1815, £19,125. – In 1281, Henry Cheyne (nephew of John Comyn, who was killed by Bruce at Dumfries in 1305) succeeded to the bishopric of Aberdeen. After Comyn’s death, the bishop openly espoused the interest and party of the Comyns; but was obliged to fly into England, and remain there for several years, during which time the revenues of his bishopric remained unapplied. King Robert having been afterwards reconciled to Cheyne, allowed him to return, and possess the see of Aberdeen as formerly. Whereupon the bishop, with the concurrence, or more probably by the command of his sovereign, applied the accumulated rents of his bishopric towards building a bridge over the Don, about 1,200 yards from its mouth, upon the great high road leading north-ward from Aberdeen. Cheyne died in 1329; the bridge was probably erected about the year 1320. This is the well known ‘Brig o’ Balgownie;’ and consists of one large pointed Gothic arch of 72 feet span. Sir Alexander Hay bequeathed an annual sum of £2 5s. 8d. to the support of this bridge, which having accumulated to upwards of £20,000, the town-council of New Aberdeen, in 1825, obtained an act authorizing them to apply part of the savings in building a new bridge in a more convenient situation. The new bridge, 500 feet in length, was completed in 1830. It is of five arches, and crosses the river at a point 450 yards lower down than the old bridge. – Bishop William Elphingston left a considerable legacy to build a bridge over the river Dee, near Aberdeen, but died in 1514, before any thing was done towards it. Gavin Dunbar, son of Sir James Dunbar of Cumnock, by Elizabeth daughter of the earl of Sutherland, having succeeded to the bishopric of Aberdeen in 1518, fulfilled his predecessor’s intentions, and erected the greatest part of the bridge where it now stands, about the year 1530. This bridge having gone into decay, was restored out of the funds belonging to itself, between the years 1720 and 1724. A new suspension bridge has been thrown across the Dee 2,600 yards lower down the river. Both the bridges of Dee and Don are under the sole management of the magistrates of New Aberdeen; and it appears that a large portion of their funds has been directed to other purposes.
NEW ABERDEEN, the capital of Aberdeenshire, and the third Scottish town in importance, is situated on a rising ground on the northern bank of the river Dee, near the mouth of that river, and about 1½ mile to the south of the river Don; 108 miles north-north-east of Edinburgh, 115 south-east of Inverness, and 425 north by west of London; in N. lat. 57° 9′, and W. long. 2° 6′. Population, in 1801,17,597; in 1821, 26,484; in 1831, 32,912. The number of houses, in 1831, was 2,588; the number of houses of £10 and upwards yearly value 1,195, exclusive of Old Aberdeen. Assessed rental £55,000, The name has assumed various orthographies: thus we have Aberdoen, Abyrdeyn, Aberden, and Habyrdine. To the Norsemen this town was known by the name Apardion.
All historical accounts agree that Aberdeen was erected into a royal burgh towards the end of the 9th century. But the original charter of erection, and all the more ancient title-deeds and records of the burgh, have perished. The oldest municipal document extant is a charter by William the Lion in favour of his burgesses of Aberdeen, and others, “ex aquilonali parte de Munth manentibus.” It is supposed this alludes to the Month, a high ridge of hills near Fettercairn in Kincardineshire, through which the high road, called the Cairn-of-Month road, passes from Brechin towards the Dee. This charter was granted at Perth, but is without date or year, though it must have been towards the end of the 12th century. By a second charter the same monarch granted to the burgesses of Aberdeen exemption from tolls and customs for their chattels throughout the whole kingdom. King William’s successors frequently resided here, and had a palace which stood upon the site of the present Trinity church and Trades hospital in the Shiprow. On the 14th of July, 1296, Edward I. of England entered Aberdeen, where he remained five days and received the homage of the bishop and dean, and of the burgesses and community. In the 14th year of his reign, King Robert Bruce made a gift and conveyance to the community of Aberdeen of the royal forest of Stocket. Besides this, he granted various other privileges and immunities to the citizens and burgh of Aberdeen, and in particular the valuable fishings in the Dee and Don. In 1333, Edward III. of England having sent a fleet of ships to ravage the east coast of Scotland, a body of English landed and attacked by night the town of Aberdeen, which they burnt and destroyed. In 1336, Edward III. invaded Scotland, and led his army as far north as Inverness, during which time the citizens of Aberdeen attacked a party of the English forces which had landed at Dunnottar, and killed their general. In revenge, Edward, on his return from Inverness, made a fierce attack upon Aberdeen, put the greater part of the inhabitants to the sword, and again burnt and destroyed the town. Some years after this, the town was rebuilt, and considerably enlarged, particularly towards the rising grounds upon which the principal part of it now stands, viz., the Woolman-hill, St Catharine’s-hill, the Port-hill, and the Castle-hill; the old town having lain more towards the east along the Green and Shiprow. In the re-edification of their town, the citizens were greatly assisted by King David Bruce, in acknowledgment of their steady loyalty and attachment both to himself and to his father. King David II. resided for some time at Aberdeen, and erected a mint here, as appears from some coins still extant. It was after being rebuilt as above, that the town was called the New Town, or New Aberdeen, in contradistinction to the Old, which had been burnt down. In 1411, at the battle of Harlaw, the citizens of Aberdeen turned the fortunes of the day against Donald of the Isles; and, in 1547, they fought with equal gallantry but less success at Pinky. In the early part of the year 1560, the Reformation obtained a permanent footing in Aberdeen. Adam Heriott was the “first minister of the true word of God in Aberdene.” He died in 1574. During the civil wars of the 17th century, Aberdeen suffered much between the two contending parties; it being common for whatever party happened to be in possession of the town to levy heavy subsidies from the unfortunate Aberdonians. In September 1644, the Marquis of Montrose, with an army of about 2,000 men, approached the town of Aberdeen, and summoned it to surrender; but the magistrates, after advising with Lord Burley – who then commanded in the town a force nearly equal in number to the assailants – refused to obey the summons; upon which a battle ensued within half-a-mile of the town, at a place called the Crabstone, near the Justice-mills, in which Montrose prevailed, and many of the principal inhabitants were killed. “There was little slaughter in the fight,” says Spalding, “but horrible was the slaughter in the flight fleeing back to the town.” “Here it is to be remarked,” adds the worthy Commissary-clerk, “that the night before this field was foughten, our people saw the moon rise red as blood, two hours before her time!” Charles II. landed at Speymouth, July 4, 1650, and visited Aberdeen a few days after. He revisited the city in February 1651, after the defeat of his hopes at Worcester and Dunbar, and in September 1651, General Monk’s army took possession of Aberdeen. On Sept. 20, 1715, the Chevalier was proclaimed at the cross of Aberdeen; and on Sept. 27, 1745, the chamberlain of the ducal family of Gordon proclaimed the Pretender on the same spot. Aberdeen has been repeatedly visited by the plague. It raged here in 1401, 1498, 1506, 1514, 1530, 1538, 1546, 1549. 1608, and last in 1647, when it carried off 1,760 of the inhabitants out of a population of about 9,000. The city of Aberdeen has received various grants from different sovereigns of Scotland, from William the Lion, downward to James VI. inclusive; and, in Sept. 1638, the whole of the former charters and grants were ratified and confirmed by charter from Charles I. From 1336, when the town was last burnt, to 1398, it does not appear that any public records were regularly kept here. But from the last-mentioned period to the present time, (except for about twelve years in the beginning of the 15th century,) there is a regular and uninterrupted series of records in the town’s chartulary. The county records do not reach a more remote date than 1503.
Aberdeen is a large and handsome city, having many spacious streets, lined on each side by elegant houses, generally four floors in height, which are built of a very fine granite from the neighbouring quarries. Union street is upwards of a mile in length, and of great beauty. It is intersected by a ravine through which the Den burn flows, and across which a beautiful arch is thrown, of 130 feet span, and only 35 feet of rise. The Market-place, in the centre of the city, is a large oblong square, called Castle street, or gate, from a fortress built by Oliver Cromwell, which formerly occupied a rising ground on its eastern side. On the north side of it is the Town-house, and adjoining to it the Court-houses and Prison, forming a connected range of buildings, of two wings, with a central tower surmounted by a spire 120 feet high. Opposite to the Town-house, the Aberdeen Banking company, established in 1766, have a handsome office. On the west side is the Athenæum, or News room, an elegant structure, erected in 1822. Near the western extremity of Castlegate is the Cross, the most complete structure perhaps of the kind in the kingdom. It is an hexagonal stone building, highly ornamented with bas-relievos of the kings of Scotland, from James I. to James VII. with a Corinthian column in the centre, on the top of which is a unicorn bearing on its breast a scutcheon charged with the Scottish lion. This building was originally erected in 1686, on the site of a more ancient cross; it was thoroughly repaired in 1821. Leading off to the north from Castlegate is King-street, which is little inferior in splendour to Union-street. It was formed in 1801. It has several handsome public buildings, among which are the County Record-office, the Medico-chirurgical Society’s hall, St Andrew’s Episcopal chapel, and the North church. Broad-street, in which Marischal college – to be afterwards described – is situated, is celebrated as having been the residence of Lord Byron while under his mother’s care. The finest of the modern public buildings is the County-rooms, erected in 1820, at an expense of £11,500, which was defrayed by the counties of Aberdeen and Banff. The Infirmary is a large plain building. It was established in 1742, and is supported by subscriptions, collections, and donations; the number of patients annually relieved is about 900. The Lunatic hospital was built by subscription in 1800. It is about half-a-mile to the north-west of the town. The Bridewell, a large castellated building, was erected at an expense of £10,000. The Jail was erected in 1828-31. It is 129 feet in length, by 98 in breadth, enclosing a court divided into six compartments, and having the turnkey’s lodge in the centre. – The first buildings of Aberdeen were probably a few rude huts near the spot where Trinity church now stands. The ground next occupied was probably in the neighbourhood of the castle and the green; and the town gradually extended in the direction of the Shiprow, the Exchequer row, and the south side of Castlegate. In 1545 a stone edifice was considered a mark of great opulence; and so late as 1741 the houses on the west side of the Broad-gate were constructed of wood. Westwards of the Gallowgate, there was, till the latter end of last century, a large fenny marsh, called the Loch, which must have occupied a large portion of the north-west quarter of the present city. The early site of the fishing-village of Footdee is now covered with streets and warehouses, extending along the Waterloo-quay. The banks in Aberdeen are: the Aberdeen banking company, already mentioned; the Aberdeen Town and County bank, established in 1825; and the North of Scotland banking company, established in 1836. There are also branches of the Bank of Scotland, the British Linen company, the Commercial bank of Scotland, and the National bank of Scotland. A new post-office is about to be built, towards the erection of which government has granted £2,000.
The principal manufacture of Aberdeen, prior to the year 1745, was knitted stockings, which were mostly exported to Holland, and thence dispersed through Germany. The linen manufacture was subsequently introduced, and now employs about 4,000 hands. The articles chiefly manufactured are thread, sailcloth, Osnaburgs, brown linens, and sacking. The manufacture of sailcloth only commenced in 1795. In the beginning of last century, the woollen manufactures of Aberdeenshire were chiefly coarse slight cloths, called plaidens and fingroms, which were sold from 5d. to 8d. per ell, and stockings from 8d. to 2s. 6d. per pair. These were manufactured by the farmers and cottagers from the wool of their own sheep, and by the citizens from wool brought to the market from the higher parts of the country. These goods were mostly exported to Hamburgh. Blankets, serges, stockings, twisted yarns, and carpets, are now manufactured. There were, in 1838, 1,000 looms employed on linen, of which four-fifths were in factories; 130 on cotton; and 300 on woollen carpets. The number of linen and cotton looms was diminishing, the manufacturers having generally turned their attention to power-loom weaving and spinning; but the woollen or carpet manufacture was on the increase. A first class linen weaver made about 11s. per week; one of the second class, 8s. 6d. and an old or inferior hand, 4s. 6d.; working on an average about 69 hours a-week. A first class cotton weaver made about 6s. 3d. of weekly wages. Besides small cotton works, three large establishments – in one of which the moving power is water from the Don, and in the other steam-engines – are in constant operation, and employ at least 2,000 people. Some of these companies import their own cotton from America. There are several breweries; and porter and ales in considerable quantities are annually exported to America and the West Indies; there are also many distilleries, some of them on a large scale. Of late years extensive iron-works have been established, at which steam-engines, anchors, chains, cables, and spinning machinery are manufactured: and at one of them several steam-vessels of between 500 and 600 tons per register have been fitted out. The rope manufacture and ship-building, the leather trade, the making of paper, and manufacturing of quills, soap and candles, are also carried on: and a large and increasing trade in the exportation of corn, butter, and eggs, to London, gives employment to a considerable tonnage. Salmon-fishing is also carried on to a great extent, and the fish are principally sent to London packed in ice. Aberdeen salmon appear to have been exported to England so early as 1281. Towards the end of the 17th century Aberdeen annually exported 360 barrels of 250 lbs. each to the continent. From 1822 to 1828, inclusive, being a period of seven years, 42,654 boxes of salmon, chiefly the produce of the Dee and the Don risers, but including some Spey salmon, were shipped at Aberdeen; and from 1829 to 1835, inclusive, 65,260 boxes. Whitings, or finnocks, are also taken in the Dee, and made an article of trade to the London market. See articles DEE and DON. In 1819 the feu-duties of the whole fishings amounted to £27 7s. sterling, and it was stated in the House of Commons committee that they were then worth £10,000 per annum. The granite quarries near Aberdeen, which have contributed so much to the decoration of the town, afford also a staple commodity for exportation. The freight to London is about 8s. per ton;1 and the vessels in returning generally bring coals from Sunderland. In 1656, when Tucker visited Scotland, there were 9 vessels belonging to Aberdeen, of a total burden of 440 tons. The vessels belonging to the port of Aberdeen, as distinct from those of Peterhead, Stonehaven, and Newburgh, amounted, in 1839, to 254, of 30,032 tons. The total tonnage within the limits of the port was 43,584. The vessels are employed principally in the East India, American, Baltic, Mediterranean, and coasting-trades. Some years ago 14 vessels, averaging 320 tons each, and navigated by upwards of 500 men, were employed in the whale-fishing; but in 1837 there were only 2 vessels employed in this trade. Powerful steam vessels sail regularly once a-week between Aberdeen and London; and steam-vessels sail every alternate day to Leith during eight months of the year. – The harbour of Aberdeen was originally nothing more than an expanse of water communicating with the sea by a narrow and shallow mouth; and the earliest artificial erection within the port was a bulwark extending from the Shiprow southward. In 1607 the erection of a pier on the south side of the channel was begun; and in 1623 the extension of the wharf to near the present canal was commenced. In 1775 the New pier was begun under the direction of the celebrated Smeaton. It cost £18,000; and proved very useful in lowering the bar at the mouth of the harbour, and preventing future accumulations of sand and gravel. In 1810 an act was passed authorising the corporation to borrow £140,000 for the further improvement of the harbour. At that time the greatest depth of water was 19 feet; it is now, at average stream-tides, 21 feet; the extent of wharfage is 5,000 feet in length; and the harbour must be regarded as one of the most commodious in Scotland. This advantage has, however, been attained at an expenditure of £270,000 within the last 26 years. During the year ending June 30, 1836, shore-dues were levied on 202,043 tons of shipping. The customs levied here in 1368 amounted to £1,960 Scots; in 1656 to £82; in 1839, to £71,892 sterling. The harbour is under the joint management of the magistrates and council, and six trustees. – A canal has been made from the harbour into the interior which joins the river Don, at Inverury, at the distance of 18¼ miles north-west from Aberdeen. It was begun in 1795, and finished in 1807, at an expense of £44,000. It has an ascent of 168 feet, and 17 locks. – There is a regular ferry from the harbour to the village of Torrie on the southern shore of the estuary. – The Girdleness light-house is built on a conspicuous promontory on the larboard hand in entering the port, in N. lat. 57° 8′, and W. long. 2° 3′. It has two lights – a higher and lower – the former visible at 19, the latter at 16 miles.
The following tables exhibit the principal imports and exports of the city of Aberdeen, during each of the years ending June 30, 1834, and 1836:
|English coals||244,239 bolls||296,619|
|Scottish coals||56,337 bolls||75,295|
|American wood||1,919 loads||2,258|
|East Country wood||1,500 loads||2,387|
|Wheat||10,516 quarters||15, 635|
|Whale blubber||1,125 tons||240|
|Manufactured flax||31,840 B.B.||30,482|
|Manufactured cotton||14,222 B.B.||16,336|
|Manufactured wool||17,115 B.B.||20,043|
|Oats, barley, & bear||75, 512 qrs.||69,239|
|Sheep & lambs||940 number||1,407|
|Granite stones||24,158 tons||17,338|
Three weekly newspapers are published in Aberdeen. The Journal, which is the oldest, was established in 1748. Aberdeen almanacks have long been celebrated. It appears that these useful manuals were printed here so early as 1626 – and probably some years earlier – by Edward Raban, a printer originally from St. Andrews. In 1617 a regular post was established between Aberdeen and Edinburgh. So early as 1418 a grammar-school existed here; and a school for teaching music, in the 15th century. Several very ample mortifications and donations for pious and charitable purposes have been made by different persons belonging to Aberdeen for the welfare of the community. Robert Gordon, merchant in Aberdeen, by deed of mortification, of date 13th December 1729, and 19th September 1730, founded an hospital for the maintenance and education of indigent boys, being the sons and grandsons of burgesses of guild of Aberdeen, or the sons and grandsons of tradesmen of the said burgh, being freemen or burgesses thereof; and for the purposes of it he assigned his whole estate, personal and real, to the magistrates and the four ministers of Aberdeen, whom he appointed perpetual patrons and governors of the hospital. There are at present 112 boys maintained and educated in this hospital. The branches of education taught, are English, grammar, writing, arithmetic, book-keeping, the elements of geometry, navigation, geography, French, and church-music. Boys must not be under 9 years of age when admitted; and must leave at 16, when they are put to proper trades, under the direction of the governors. The funds have been enlarged by a bequest from a Mr. Simpson, and amount to about £50,000. A club for printing the historical and literary remains of the North-east of Scotland, in imitation of the Bannatyne and similar clubs, has been very recently formed in Aberdeen under the title of ‘The Spalding club.’
The Marischal college of Aberdeen was founded by George Keith, fifth Earl-Marischal, in April 1593. According to the deed of foundation, it was to consist of a principal, three teachers denominated regents, six alumni, and two inferior persons, viz., an economist, and a cook. The principal was required to be well-instructed in sacred literature, and to be skilled in Hebrew and Syriac; he was also to be able to give anatomical and physiological prelections. The first regent was specially to teach ethics and mathematics; the second, logic; the third, Latin, and Greek. The Earl reserved to himself and his heirs the nomination to professorships; the examination and admission of the persons so named being vested in the chancellor, the rector, the dean of faculty, and the principal of King’s college, the minister of New Aberdeen, and the ministers of Deer and Fetteresso. The foundation was confirmed by the General Assembly which met in the same month in which it was framed; and a few months after, a confirmation was given by parliament. A charter of confirmation was granted by William, Earl-Marischal, in 1623; and a new confirmation by Charles II. in 1661. In all these charters, however, it was specially declared that the masters, members, students, and bursars, of the said college, should be subject to the jurisdiction of the burgh-magistrates. An additional regent was appointed within a few years after the institution of the college; a professorship of divinity was founded in 1616; and a mathematical professorship about three years before. In 1753, the Senatus academicus directed that the students, after being instructed in classical learning, should be made acquainted with natural and civil history, geography, chronology, and the elements of mathematics; that they should then proceed to natural philosophy, and terminate their curriculum by studying moral philosophy. This plan of study, with a few alterations, has since been continued. The office-bearers in Marischal college are a chancellor, rector, and dean-of-faculty. The chancellor is chosen for life by the senate. The rector is elected annually by all the students; as are also his assessors, four in number. The dean is elected by the senate and the senior minister of Aberdeen. The Senatus academicus consists of the chancellor, rector, dean, principal, four professors termed regents, and the professors of divinity, oriental languages, mathematics, medicine, and chemistry. Besides the regular professors, there are lecturers on anatomy, physiology, surgery, materia medica, and Scotch law and conveyancing. These lecturers derive their appointment from both universities. The philosophy session commences on the Wednesday immediately following the last Monday of October, and ends on the first Friday of April. The principal was usually, though not of necessity, professor of divinity. His salary is on an average £345, exclusive of the emoluments of the divinity chair, which averages £114. In 1833, a chair of church-history was founded by the Crown, which is at present held by the principal, and the average emoluments of which are £102. He is appointed by the Crown, in consequence of the forfeiture of the Marischal family. The professor of divinity is appointed by the magistrates and town-council of the burgh. The average salary of each of the four regents is about £179; that of the professor of natural history, £330; of natural philosophy, £331; of moral philosophy. £310; of Greek, £373; of mathematics, £336; of oriental languages, £78; of medicine, £100; of chemistry, £133. There are 40 foundations for bursaries, for the benefit of 106 bursars; 4 of these are of the annual value of £26; and 10 of £25; but the greater part are from £10 to £5; 36 are in the presentation of the council. The average number of students is about 250, exclusive of the divinity and medical students who belong to both King’s college and Marischal college. None of the students reside in college. Honorary degrees, in all the faculties, are occasionally conferred by the university. The library of Marischal college, in 1827, contained 11,000 volumes; and the principal and professors; had a right, under a decision of the court of session in 1738, to the use of the books transmitted from Stationer’s hall to the library of King’s college. The only building belonging to the college is the present fabric, on the site of what was the Franciscan convent. It was rebuilt between 1684-1700, and 1739-40; and is again rebuilding on an extensive plan, a royal grant of £25,000 having been made for the purpose. The senate of Marischal college, unlike that of King’s college, are favourable to the leading principle of the plan of union of the two universities which has been recommended by the royal commission. Among the most eminent alumni of Marischal college were Gilbert Burnett, afterwards bishop of Salisbury, who took his degree of M.A. here in 1657; James Gregory, the inventor of the reflecting telescope; George Jamesone, the father of painting in Scotland, and who has been called the Scottish Vandyke; Dr Arbuthnot, the friend of Pope; Colin Maclaurin, the mathematician; and Dr Reid, the metaphysician.
By act of 3° and 4° William IV., the number of the council is fixed at 19, including the dean of guild. The chief magistrates are a provost and four bailies. Six councillors retire from office annually, and two are chosen by the electors of each of the three wards to supply their places. The jurisdiction of the magistrates extends over the whole city and freedom, but they bold no small debt court. The magistrates and council appoint the city-assessor, town-clerk and depute, city-chamberlain, collector of cess, procurator-fiscal, superintendent of works, quarter-master, gaoler, town-housekeeper, and six town-serjeants. There are two classes of old burgesses: viz., guild-burgesses, and freemen of the seven incorporated trades, consisting of hammermen, bakers, Wrights and coopers, tailors, shoemakers, weavers, and fleshers. All of these incorporations possess considerable funds, but the trades are not represented in the council. The lighting and watching of the city are under the charge of commissioners; and the general police is regulated by an act passed in 1829. In 1817 the corporation of Aberdeen became bankrupt, chiefly in consequence of the enormous expenditure incurred in opening two new streets or approaches to the town, under the authority of an act of parliament dated April 5, 1800. The engineer employed had estimated the whole expense at about £42,000, but the total expenditure, up to Whitsunday 1816, amounted to £171,280. The parliamentary commissioners also reported, that while the total average annual revenue of the city for the five years preceding Michaelmas 1832, was £15,184, the total average annual expenditure was £17,528; but this excess arose upon casual expenditure, chiefly in building churches. The town’s affairs are now rapidly retrieving under the management of a popularly elected magistracy. The total property of the city was valued in 1832 at £223,979. The taxes levied by the magistrates are petty customs on goods brought into the city producing about £800 per annum; weighhouse dues producing £200; rogue-money, officer’s dues, and king’s cess annuity to £256 10s. annually. There is also a large sum of statute-labour money levied within the town; but there is no assessment for the support of the poor. Aberdeen formerly sent one member to parliament in connexion with Montrose, Brechin, Arbroath, and Inverbervie. It now returns one for itself and suburbs, including Old Aberdeen. It has been represented since 1832 by Alexander Bannerman, Esq., a gentleman of Whig principles. The number of voters, in 1835, was 2,166. – Aberdeen gives the title of earl to a branch of the ancient family of Gordon. Sir George Gordon of Haddo was executed, in 1644, at Edinburgh, for his adherence to the cause of Charles I. Sir John, his eldest son, who was restored to the baronetage and estates after the Restoration, was succeeded by bis brother George, who was created chancellor of Scotland, and earl of Aberdeen, in 1682. He died in 1720.
Originally, the town of New Aberdeen constituted one parish, called the parish of St Nicholas, which, in the time of episcopacy, was a rectory and vicarage. It was divided, in 1828, by the authority of the court of teinds, into six parishes, viz., East Kirk, West Kirk, North Kirk, South Kirk, Greyfriars, and St Clement’s; all in the presbytery and synod of Aberdeen; and under the patronage of the town-council. In 1834, a new arrangement of the whole into nine quoad sacra parishes was made under the authority of the General Assembly. Another quoad sacra parish was created in 1836.
1st, EAST KIRK. This parish is in the very centre of the city. Population, in 1835, 4,512, of whom 2,623 belonged to the establishment. The old church was lately taken down, and a new one opened in May 1837. Sittings 1,705. Cost £5,000. Stipend £300, paid by the corporation The United Secession congregation, in St Nicholas Lane, was established in 1794. This church was built in 1801; cost £850; and accommodates 624. Stipend, £150, and a house. – The United Secession congregation in George street has been established about 16 years. Chapel built in 1821; cost £1,170; sittings 747. Stipend £150. – St Paul’s Episcopal chapel was erected in 1722, at an expense of £1,000; number of sittings 900. Stipend £213. It is not subject to the jurisdiction of any bishop, but is managed by eleven managers elected for life by the congregation. – The Original Burgher congregation, in the Netherkirkgate, was established in 1757. Church built in 1772, and exteriorly repaired in 1827. Sittings 700. Stipend £100, and £20 for a house. – A congregation calling itself the Holy Catholic Apostolic congregation, established in 1836, meets in St John street. It is ministered to by an angel or chief-minister, and three evangelists. – There is a Unitarian congregation, which was established in 1836. – A Wesleyan Methodist congregation was established many years ago. This chapel has 900 sittings. Stipend £115, and £15 for a house. The minister has two colleagues, with incomes of about £50 each. – There is no parish-school; but there are fifteen private schools within this parish.
2d, WEST KIRK. This is wholly a town-parish. The population of the quoad civilia parish, in 1831, was 8,930; of the quoad sacra parish – which is exclusive of the whole of Spring-Gardens, and portions of the East and South parishes – in 1836, 2,024, of whom 1,277 belonged to the establishment. Church built about 1744, and enlarged in 1836. Sittings 1,454. Stipend £300; paid by the corporation. – An Independent congregation was established here in 1798. Chapel cost £1,000. Sittings 870. Stipend £150. – A Relief congregation was formed in 1804. Chapel cost £1,000. Sittings 900. – Here is a parish-school. Average attendance 80. Salary and school fees £142; emoluments £60. There are eight other schools, attended by about 1,200 pupils.
3d, NORTH KIRK. This is wholly a town-parish. A portion of St Clement’s was annexed to it, and a portion of it given to East parish, quoad sacra, in 1834. In 1831 the population of the quoad civilia parish was 4,616, of whom 2,864 belonged to the establishment. The church was opened in 1831. It is in the Grecian style, and cost £10,500. Sittings 1,486. Minister’s stipend £300; paid by the corporation. – St Andrews Episcopal church has existed here since 1688. The total number of communicants is 1,200, of whom the greater part reside in Old Machar parish. The church is a handsome Gothic building erected in 1817 at an expense of £8,000. It is 90 feet in length by 65 in breadth; and contains a fine statue of Bishop John Skinner by Flaxman. Sittings 1,100. Stipend of senior minister, in 1836-7, £328; Stipend of junior minister £220. – There is an Independent congregation in Frederick street, occupying a chapel built in 1807, at an expense of £900. Sittings 580. Stipend £110. – St Peter’s Roman Catholic chapel was built in 1803-4; cost £2,500. Sittings 650. Stipend about £90. A handsome school, erected in 1832, is attached to this chapel, and attended by about 120 children. – The school founded by that portion of Dr Bell of Calcutta’s bequest which was assigned to New Aberdeen, is in this parish. It is attended by 400 boys and 200 girls, under a male and female teacher; the branches taught are English, writing, arithmetic, grammar, and geography. There is also an Infant school.
4th, SOUTH KIRK. In the quoad sacra arrangement of 1834, the parish of Trinity was disjoined from South parish, and part of West parish annexed to it. The population of the parish quoad civilia, in 1831, was 4,313, of whom 1,876 belonged to the establishment. Before this parish was first erected in 1828, the church in it was a chapel-of-ease. The heads of families in this parish are entitled to recommend two candidates, one of whom the council is bound to present to the living. The old chapel was taken down, and the present church erected in 1830-1, at an expense of £4,544. Sittings 1,562. Stipend £300. – The United Secession church in St Nicholas street was built in 1779-80, at a cost of about £1,000. Sittings 800. Stipend of senior minister £100; of junior £100. – The Independent chapel in Blackfriar’s street was erected in 1821, at an expense of £1,276. Sittings 950. Stipend £100. – In 1834, there were twelve schools in this parish, attended by about 1,100 children.
5th, GREYFRIARS. In the new arrangement of 1834, part of West parish was annexed to this parish, and the whole of the parish of John Knox disjoined from it, quoad sacra. The population of the quoad civilia parish, in 1831, was 4,706, of whom 1,661 belonged to the establishment. The parish church is what was formerly called the College church. It is the oldest parish church now in Aberdeen. Sittings 1,042. Stipend £250; paid by the corporation. – The Society of Friends have a Meeting-house in this parish, with 350 sittings. The earliest record of the Society in Aberdeen is dated 1762; it consisted of 21 individuals in 1837. This sect was numerous in Aberdeen between the year 1664 and 1679, when many of them suffered imprisonment here, and amongst others the famous Robert Barclay. The parish minister reported that, in 1834, there were six “adventure schools” in this parish, attended by about 200 children; and that he had established one “of the nature of a parochial school” attended by 240 children.
6th, ST CLEMENT’S. In the new arrangement of 1834, portions of this parish were annexed quoad sacra to Union and North parishes. The population of the quoad civilia parish, in 1831, was 6,501, of whom 3,044 belonged to the establishment. The parish church, a neat structure in the Gothic style, was erected in 1828 on the site of what was once Footdee church, and where a chapel had stood previous to the Reformation. Cost £2,600; sittings 800. Stipend, in 1835, £27911s. 10½d, derived from the half-barony of Torrie, the glebe of Footdee, and seat-rents. – There is no parochial school, but there are from eight to ten schools not parochial, attended by about 400 children. One of these is patronized by the magistrates; and another is an endowed free-school.
7th, UNION. This is a quoad sacra parish, disjoined from East parish and St Clement’s, in 1834. In 1835-6, the population amounted to 3,693, of whom 2,407 belonged to the establishment. The church was built in 1822, at a cost of about £2,600. Sittings 1,238. Stipend £150, paid from the seat-rents. – A seamen’s chapel was erected in this parish in 1822, at an expense of £800. Sittings 570.
8th, SPRING GARDENS. – This parish was divided from the West parish, and annexed as a parish quoad sacra to the Gaelic church in 1834. Its population, in 1835, was 1,486, chiefly labourers and operatives. The church was built in 1795, at a cost of about £800. Sittings 700. The service is conducted in Gaelic in the forenoon, and in English in the afternoon and evening. Stipend £150; paid by the congregation.
9th, TRINITY. This parish was divided quoad sacra from the South parish in 1834. The population, in 1835, was 2,252, of whom 1,425 belonged to the establishment. The church was erected in 1794 as a chapel-of-ease, at a cost of about £1,700. Sittings 1,247. Stipend £200; paid from seat-rents; with a manse. – The United Christian congregation was established in 1779. It assembles in a chapel which is private property. Sittings 990. Stipend about £115.
10th, JOHN KNOX. This parish was disjoined quoad sacra from Greyfriars parish, in 1836. Its population in that year was estimated at 2,710. The church was erected in 1835, at a cost of about £1,000, and seats 1,054 persons. Stipend £130, derived from seat-rents.
Before the Reformation, there were several chapels within the burgh and royalty annexed to and dependent upon the parish-church, particularly St Mary’s chapel, under the East church; St Catharine’s chapel, founded in 1242, which stood upon the hill of that name; St Ninian’s chapel on the Castlehill; and St Clement’s chapel at Footdee. There were likewise monasteries of several different orders of friars established in Aberdeen. The Black friars had their establishment on the School-hill where Gordon’s hospital and the Grammar-school now stand. The Carmelite, or White friars monastery, was on the south-side of the Green, near Carmelite street; and the Grey friars in the Broadgate, where the Marischal college and church are now situated. The Trinity or Maturine friars also had a rich establishment in Aberdeen.
1 The bulk of a ton of granite is about 15 cubic feet. The prices of Aberdeen granite delivered in London are as follows: A stone of 15 tons weight, 10s. per cubic foot; of 12 tons, 9s.; of 9 tons, 8s.; of 6 tons, 6s.; of 2 tons, 4s. In 1831, 36,352 tons of granite were shipped at Aberdeen. Cubes for paving are delivered in London at about 20s. per ton. This branch of export trade, commenced about the year 1760.