Fraserburgh, pp.591-592.

[Gazetteer of Scotland Contents]

   FRASERBURGH, formerly called PHILORTH, a parish in the district of Buchan, Aberdeenshire; bounded on the north and east by the North sea, on the south by Rathen and Strichen; and on the west by Tyrie, Aberdour, and Pitsligo. It occupies the north-eastern corner of the county; and extends about 3½ miles in breadth, and 8 miles in length, including a part of the parish divided from the rest by Rathen. Square area, about 10,000 acres. Houses 508. Assessed property, in 1815, £6,320. Population, in 1801, 2,215; in 1831, 2,954; in 1835, according to a census taken by the minister and elders, 3,060. The sea-coast extends about 4 miles, and is partly sand and partly rocky. Kinnaird’s-head, in N. lat. 57° 42′, and W. long. 2° 1′, is a high promontory, projecting into the sea. It is generally believed to be the ‘Promontorium Taixalium’ of Ptolemy, being the turning-point into the ‘Æstuariura Varariæ,’ or Moray frith. There is an old tower on this promontory called the Wine tower, with a cave under it, and at one time probably connected with the adjoining house, now the lighthouse. On the west of Kinnaird’s-head is the beautiful bay of Fraserburgh, 3 miles in length. The water of Pilorth separates this parish from Rathven for several miles. Along the shore the soil is in general good, but the interior parts are gravelly. Except the hill of Mormond, which is elevated 800 feet above sea-level, the whole surface is nearly level and flat, gradually rising, however, from the coast to its most distant and elevated district. The sea has receded from the land in some places, and encroached on it in others. The land, except about 80 acres, is all arable: there are some mosses and moors. The parish, at one time, abounded with wood, and there are some fine old trees at Pilorth house, the seat of Lord Saltoun, to which several beautiful and extensive plantations have been added. The parish contains great quantities of granite, limestone, and ironstone, and there are chalybeate springs in different places. Besides the old ‘college,’ at which some of the monks of Deer abbey resided, there are remains of several ancient towers and religious structures. – The parish is in the presbytery of Old Deer, and synod of Aberdeen. Patron, Lord Saltoun. Stipend, £219 2s. 8d.; glebe £9. Unappropriated teinds £46 15s. 6d. Church built in 1803; in good repair; sittings 1,014. – An Episcopalian congregation has existed in the parish since the Reformation: no fixed stipend: chapel built in 1793; sittings 288. Previous to 1829, the Right Reverend Dr. Jolly, the bishop of the diocese of Moray, officiated in this chapel. – An Independent congregation was established in 1800. Minister’s salary £100. Chapel rebuilt in 1819; sittings 539. – Schoolmaster’s salary £29 18s. 10d., with £56 fees, and other emoluments, besides a share of the Dick bequest, amounting to between £20 and £30. There are nine private, five of which are female, schools. 

   FRASERBURGH, a sea-port town in the above parish, and a burgh of regality, is situated 151 miles north of Edinburgh; 42 north of Aberdeen; 22 east of Banff, by the old road, and 26 by the new; and 17¾ north of Peterhead. It was erected in the middle of the 16th century, on the south side of Kinnaird’s-head, upon the estate of Sir Alexander Fraser of Pilorth; from the name of the superior it was called Fraserburgh, and it ultimately gave its name to the parish. The town is neatly built, of a square form, with most of the streets, which are spacious, crossing each other at right angles. Numerous improvements have been made in recent times: elegant and comfortable houses have been erected, and new streets laid out on a symmetrical plan. All the house-proprietors are feuars under Lord Saltoun, as their superior. They are bound to maintain the public works of the town, for which they are entitled to the market-customs, and they have various privileges over commonable land, to the value of about £60 per annum. The town is plentifully supplied with water, and the streets are kept clean and in good condition. The cross, erected by Sir Alexander Fraser, is a fine structure, of a hexagonal figure, with three equidistant hexagonal abutments: the ground area is about 500 feet, and the whole is surmounted by a stone pillar 12 feet high, ornamented by the British arms surmounting the arms of Fraser of Pilorth. The parish-church stands near the cross, and the Episcopal chapel, noticed in the parish returns, [which see above] is situated in the town. At the west end of the town is an old quadrangular tower, of three stories, being a small part of a large edifice intended to have been erected as a college, by Sir Alexander Fraser, who obtained a charter, in 1592, for the institution of an university here, but the design was never carried into effect. The parochial school is situated in the town: it is a very superior educational establishment wherein all branches, from the lowest to the highest, are taught. Some of the private schools are also in the town. The jail, now a ruinous edifice, and the town-house, were erected by Sir Alexander Fraser. The town was erected into a burgh-of-regality in 1613. The government is vested in Lord Saltoun, who has the authority of provost, and appoints the new magistrates and council, consisting of two bailies, a dean-of-guild, treasurer, and seven councillors, annually, with consent of the old – a system of government about the worst that could be devised for the fun advancement of the town and port. Nevertheless, Fraserburgh may be considered, on the whole, a thriving town, and, as a sea-port, it has been rapidly rising in importance ever since the last war, when its spacious harbour was constructed, partly at the expense of Government, as a place of retreat for British ships of war, suffering from stress of weather in the North sea, – this being the nearest point of land which can be reached. The works, which are of a most substantial character, cost about £50,000, part of which was defrayed by private subscriptions, part, as observed, by Government, and the rest by Lord Saltoun. The area of this harbour is six Scotch acres; and there are commodious piers and jetties. It is of very easy access; the depth of water at the extremity of the pier, in spring tides, is 20 feet, and at the ebb 6 feet; so that vessels of considerable tonnage can be accommodated. When all the contemplated works are completed, this will perhaps be the best tide-harbour on the north-east coast; though the situation of the town, with the see, stretching in three directions round the land, thus left to occupy only the remaining quadrant of the circle, may preclude the prospect of its ever becoming a great port. Contiguous to the harbour is a tolerable road for shipping, with good anchorage in Fraserburgh bay. There are numerous vessels belonging to Fraserburgh, and upwards of 220 herring-boats, and 200 persons are employed in the fishery. All sorts of grain, pease, beans, potatoes, and dried and pickled cod, besides herrings, are exported, and the imports are coals, timber, lime, tiles, bricks, salt, and general merchandise. The shore dues, in 1808, were only £35; in 1822, they exceeded £1,200; and, in 1840, had increased still further to £2,000. Kelp, ropes, and sails, are manufactured, and there is some employment in linen yarn, of which, to the amount of £3,000 to £4,000, have been annually exported. There is a branch of the Aberdeen bank in the town, and a savings’ bank has been established. Adjoining to the west end of Fraserburgh is the small fishing village of Broadsea. Population of the town, in 1801, upwards of 1,000; in 1837, according to a census taken by the minister and elders of the parish, 2,236, including Broadsea. The minister states, that, during the season of the herring-fishery, from July to September, the population of the town is increased to the extent of 1,200.

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