1791 - 99 - Page 236 - NUMBER XXXII
Rev. Mr. David Sim.
Situation, Extent and Name.
This parish is computed to extend about 3 miles from E. to W. and 4 from N. to S.
Its' figure resembles the form of a long bow, with its string strained to the utmost pitch.
The boldest side of the curve is bounded on the W. and part of the S. by a quick bending of the banks of the river
Tay, and on the E. S. E. and part of the S. by a low sandy shore of the German
Sea (a.k.a. German Ocean, now the North Sea).
The flat side of the curve is bounded by the parish of Panbride on the N. E. and part of the N. and on part of the N. and N. W. by the parish of
The parish is in the presbytery of Aberbrothock, and the Synod of Angus and Mearns.
A high verdant bank, which seems once to have formed a steep shore of the
ocean, runs through the whole, from E. to W. giving to the northern division the appearance of a great
regular terrace, elevated about 50 feet above the southern part. The foil is
various. The lower division is . .
. . composed of a thirsty down, which barely suffices for the grazing of a few flocks of sheep and of young cattle, interspersed with some
acres of arable land, which, in showery seasons yield a moderate crop of grain.
The upper division is partly light loam, partly generous gravel, and a few fields approach to a deep black
soil. The mould, though in no respect rich, favoured by inclosure in many
parts, and aided in general by an enlightened husbandry, produces crops of wheat, barley, oats, peas, turnip, flax, clover, potatoes,
little inferior in quantity and quality to the growth of the same extent of land in districts distinguished by a valuable soil.
Within the bounds of this small parish, a diversity of climate is experienced.
The lower division, from its sandy nature, and the interposing banks which hide it from the ocean, though sometimes covered with hazy
fogs, is warm in summer, and enjoys a kindly temperature in the winter months.
The upper division, elevated above the level of the sea, is sensibly
cooler in the warmest weather, and in winter feels the almost unbroken severity of the winds from the E. and the N. W.
The climate is not uncommonly hostile to the constitution. The inhabitants paid an annual tribute to the ague, while the bad continued undrained, and in rainy winters
some complaints of rheumatism are still heard of; but there are no distempers strictly local.
It will readily he perceived, that a climate, circumstanced as that of Barrie, must be friendly to vegetable productions.
An early verdure covers the fields. The sowing season commences
about the middle of March, and the corns are generally lodged in the barnyard before the second week of October.
Migratory birds visit this place very early in the season. The parish might perhaps claim the appellation of
beautiful, did not the soil in some parts, and the vicinity to the sea in others, deprive it of the
verdure of thriving and copious wood.
Prices and Wages. - The parish is nearly supplied with provisions of its own produce.
A few stones of butcher-meat are purchased from the Dundee market, by a family or two, during the summer;
but oats, furnishing the meal, that is the principal article of food,
are raised in sufficient quantities. A quantity of wheat and oat-meal is annually
sold at Dundee, and several hundred bolls of barley are exported, to supply the exigencies of some of the northern and western counties of Scotland.
A number of black cattle, reared and grazed within the parish, are yearly
carried to England; and some oxen, stall-fed with turnip, are purchased by the butchers of the neighbouring towns.
Wheat is generally sold at £1: 1s., barley at 14s., oat-meal at 14s. the boll; beef,
mutton, veal, pork, at 3½d. the pound, of 16oz; ducks at 10d. a-piece; hens at
1s.; butter at 8d. the pound, of 22oz.; cheese at 4s.: 6d. the stone; eggs at 3d. the dozen.
The hire of labourers is 1s. a-day, from the 1st of March to the 1st of November, and 10d. during the rest of the year, excepting the time of
hay-mowing and harvest, when they are paid at the rate of 1s.: 6d. a-day.
The wages of a carpenter are 1s.: 3d., of a mason 1s.: 8d., of a tailor it
1s. In the above statement, the victuals of the labourers and tradesmen are included. The average hire of farm-servants, when they
eat in the house, is £8 a-year for men, and £3 for women. Domestic servants form no distinct class.
There is not a male or female servant in the parish, who is not employed sometime during the year in the work of the field.
Manufactures. - Every householder almost is a manufacturer of brown linen.
In the foreign markets, the linen stamped at Aberbrothock (Arbroath) has acquired a high
reputation; and it will not be denied, that to the cloth made at Barrie, which has long been
distinguished for the goodness of its materials, . .
. . and the superiority of its workmanship, the stamp of Aberbrothock is indebted for part of its
fame. By introducing honour as a prompter to excellence, the manufacture of Barrie has reached its present
perfection. For more than 40 years, the inspection of the weaving, by the unanimous consent of the manufacturers, has been assigned to an annual officer, who is allowed to choose two assistant counsellors.
The officer, with his assessors, are eagle-eyed to discover every blemish.
A pecuniary fine, or what is more dreaded, the correction of ridicule, overtakes every one who is in fault.
These circumstances have contributed to fix such habits of attention and accuracy, that
instances occur of workmen whose cloth has not been cast at the stamp-office in a period of 20 years.
Exclusive of considerable quantities of home-grown flax, the manufacturers
use yearly of foreign flax, from Riga and (St.)
Petersburg, several tons, amounting in value to more than £800. The
manufacturers are in number 100. The condition of this useful
class of men might be ameliorated, by insuring to them at all times abundance of flax at
a reasonable rate, by continuing the encouragement on the linen branch, and by rescuing the manufactures from a twofold combination of
the brown linen merchants, by which they enhance at pleasure the price of the foreign flax they
sell, and depress the price of the cloth they buy.
Population. - At the time of Dr. Webster's report, the numbers were 689.
At present (1791) the population is 796.
Baptisms, Marriages and Burials for the last 10 Years.
Years. Baptisms. Marriages. Burials.
1781 - 21 4 11
1782 - 20 5 13
1783 - 22 5 13
1784 - 19 1 7
1785 - 21 3 12
1786 - 23 7 4
1787 - 24 5 8
1788 - 18 7 7
1789 - 23 7 10
1790 - 21 3 7
TOTAL - 212 47 92
Excepting 4 or 5 Anti-burgher Seceders, and 3 Episcopalians,
the people in the parish are all members of the Established Church.
There are 3 students of divinity. There are 8 heritors, 3 only, of whom reside.
It may not be entirely foreign to the present article, to notice that by the
late minister of Barrie, who lived in the parish not less than 50 years, it was frequently remarked, that
dying persons expired during the ebbing of the tide. With this remark accords that observation in Pliny's Natural
History (Lib. ii. cap. 98.), quoted from Aristotle, who affirms, that 'no animal expires, unless during the going back of the
tide.' To which Pliny adds, 'Observatum id multum in Gallico Oceano, et
duntaxat in homine compertum.'
Stipend, School and Poor. - The living, including the glebe, is something more than
£80 Sterling a-year. The King in patron. The manse, though repaired only 10 years ago, is
hardly a tolerable house. The kirk is an old and sorry building. The office of
schoolmaster has, for many years past, . .
. . been discharged by young men of liberal education, who have successively come forward to preach, to lecture in colleges, and to fill very reputable departments in society.
The annual emoluments are inconsiderable. £5: 11s. Sterling of salary,
£2 as session-clerk's fees, 5s. for each proclamation of banns, 10d. for registering each baptism, 3d. for the registration of each burial, and 1s. 6 d. a quarter, as the average fees for 40 scholars throughout the year, with some trifling gratuities, make up the total sum of the annual income.
The sum of £30 Sterling, arising partly from Sabbath day collections, partly from the rent of some
seats in the church, is the only fund allotted for pious purposes within the parish, and the annual support of the poor.
A small portion of the money is yearly applied by the kirk-session, to furnish with necessary books a few of the children of indigent parents, who are unable to give them a school education without this aid.
The reversion is distributed among the poor. The number on the roll is generally 11.
The poor receive the public charity in their own cottages. A begging native has not been known in the parish for many years.
Beggars from other places abound.
Sheep. - The late institution of the British Wool Society, gives increased importance to the flocks of every district.
The pastures of Barrie may contain 1,000 sheep. In a country where sheep are not the sole object of the farmer's
care, an unexceptionable breed can hardly be expected. The sheep of Barrie have no distinct character.
A few annual recruits imported partly from Fife. partly from the northern counties, lately formed the mixed race.
It was supposed, that the union of the Fife ewe with the northern ram, would have produced a species hardy, and at the same
time fine wool. Disappointment, as to the latter quality in particular,
. . has been the result of some experiments. An introduction of the English breed seemed to promise a species, valuable for wool, and of a large
size. However, a pasture which affords but harsh grass and scanty shelter, was found ill suited to such sheep.
The small Fife sheep, weighing 32 pounds, unites in some measure the advantages of a profitable fleece and a pretty durable constitution, and at present appears best adapted to the
soil. It were desirable, if a breed affording a greater weight of wool could be obtained.
Not less than 12 fleeces, at an average, produce 1 stone of wool. Of the wool, which is generally
sold at 1s. the pound, is manufactured almost every kind of cloth worn in the parish;
hodden, which is mostly used for herds cloaks, and is sold at 1s. 8d. the yard; plaiding, which
is sometimes shaped into a coarse kind of hose, and is sold at 2s. the yard;
fey, the common cloth for men's apparel, sold, when dyed, at 5s. the yard; timming, camblet for women's gowns, when in colours, are respectively
sold at 3s. and 2s. 10d. the yard; blankets sold at 12s. the pair, consisting
of 4 yards; Sabbath day plaids for women, when dyed of 2 or 3 various colours, and containing about 4 yards, at 16s.
a-piece. The scab, from accident, and the rot, from the nature of some of the sheep-walks, are among the number of the diseases to which the sheep are
liable. The prescription of Dr. Anderson (tobacco oil) has been applied with some success in the former disease.
Another malady, against which no remedy has yet been devised, preys on the sheep here.
Among the shepherds, it is called the Bracks. The autumn is the season of its attack.
The most lusty, and apparently vigorous of the flock, are singled out as its victims.
It kills in 2 hours from the time it is at first observed. From the description which the writer has received, excess of blood appears to be the probable cause of the disorder.
The dead carcase is remarkably . .
. . bloated and discoloured, and in a very short time becomes a carrion.
The experience of an aged man, who for many years was a sheep-master in the parish, affords some presumption, that a preventative way be found to the bracks.
He let blood of his sheep uniformly in the summer season, and he does not recollect that the bracks at any time thinned his folds.
Remarkable Objects and Antiquities. - In the southern extremity of the parish, on the banks of the Tay, stand 2 reflecting light-houses, reared to direct the vessels trading to Dundee
and Perth through the perilous entrance of the (River)
Tay. The largest, which is stationary, is a circular stone building erected on piles; the other a moveable wooden fabric, raised on rollers.
When the two lights are seen in one, the pilot may navigate the river without fear.
The expense of the lights is defrayed by a small tax on the tonnage of the vessels which enter the Tay.
The Danes seem to have been destined, by their misfortunes, to furnish the only memorable objects of antiquity which Barrie affords.
On the eastern boundary of the parish many tumuli appear. The traces of a camp in their immediate
neighbourhood, Carnoustie, i.e. the Cairn of Heroes, the name of an adjoining estate, the vicinity of a
brook (the Lochty Burn), which is said to have run three days with blood, proclaim these tumuli the graves of those northern Marauders who fell in the desperate engagement, which, according to Buchanan, (B.6. chap.50), took place near Panbride, between the
Danish troops commanded by Camus, and the Scotch army under King Malcolm
Roads and Bridges. - The roads have at no time been much indebted to the improvement of art.
The post-road between Dundee and Aberbrothock, which for a long period .
. . ran through its bounds, was merely a line traced by frequent passengers on the surface of the soil.
A new post road, formed 20 years since to the northward of Barrie parish,
has annually engrossed nearly the statute-labour of the contiguous district.
The small reversion allotted to Barrie, has been faithfully and judiciously applied by a resident Justice of the Peace; but in a light sandy track, where gravel cannot he obtained without great
expense, it may well be conceived, that the repairs effected by a trifling sum, can neither be permanent nor extensive.
Nature, however, has not been unkind; the roads of Barrie, though somewhat
fatiguing, are at all seasons dry. Voluntary contributions reared, and have hitherto supported, the bridges
within the parish. A detailed account of the bridges would reflect no honour on the police of the district.
Advantages and Disadvantages. - Vicinity to the sea is an obvious advantage to this parish.
Though it has no formed harbours, the surrounding beach affords a safe landing place to small vessels; by which lime, the staple manure, and coals, the chief article of
fuel, are imported from the frith (Firth) of Forth, and
sold at a reasonable rate. Lime shells are delivered from the ship at
1s. 6d. the boll. Coals, conveyed to the most distant parts of the
parish, are bought by the cottager at 6s. 8d. weighing 72 stones. But amid the advantages which Providence
has already bestowed, and human improvements promise to confer, the parishioners of Barrie experience a rigorous
astriction to a barony mill; a species of vassalage, which they deem an of no trivial kind.
Legal applications for redress have hitherto produced a very partial relief;
while from the unavoidable ambiguity of old papers, the reciprocal services of the
mill-master and the astricted farmer, furnish a source of hourly discord;
while . .
. . dues are exacted by an unstamped measure, which is no part of the standard of the nation; while a power is lodged with the renter of a hopper, to demand, by a solemn oath, an account of every pea, every
barley-corn, every grain of oats, which is daily distributed to every labouring stead, perhaps dropped to every hen.
Thus circumstanced, it will not appear strange, if the people of Barrie look forward to the abolition of thirlage, as a change much to be wished.
They are sufficiently sensible, that an adequate compensation is due to the representatives of those men, who originally reared those accommodations, which
have proved so eminently useful to the community. Keeping this in view, they find themselves strongly inclined to join in any legal,
well-concerted plan, by which they may be relieved from a species of servitude, which has often produced the most bitter effects; and has brought along with it, consequences not only hostile to improvements, but even to the best interests of morality and religion.
The multiplicity of oaths introduced into processes relating to thirlage, tend in some degree to take off that respect to things sacred, which every true statesman would desire to preserve unviolated.
Miscellaneous Observations. - In general, the people are attached to the trades of their fathers.
Farming and weaving are the professions which stand highest in their esteem.
To other employments, hardly so many are inclined as supply the ordinary demands of the parish.
The fine appearance of summer fleets on the smooth surface of the Tay, allures a few boys to a sea faring life.
Dissipation is unknown; though the short space of a quarter of a mile presents to the view of the traveller the whole inns and alehouses in the parish, amounting to no less than 4.
This assemblage, principally designed for the accommodation of strangers
. . journeying between Dundee and Arbroath, must not be interpreted to the disadvantage of the parishioners, who are industrious in a high degree, and in their money engagements are punctual to a proverb.
Vulgar report has sometimes involved, along with the inhabitants of the surrounding country, the people of Barrie in a charge of inhumanity to shipwrecked mariners; but more truly may they be characterised as dupes, by their compassion to
100 pretendedly shipwrecked. The oppression must be grievous indeed, which can drive them from their native soil.
A sort of maladie de pais rivets them to the place of their
birth. Though the houses, dress, style of living, &c. of the parishioners, indicate nothing disproportionate to their real wealth, a considerable alteration in these different articles has taken place within a period of 20 years.
Instead of the turf-built cottages of former days, the eyes of the observer are sometimes pleased with mansions, neat, commodious, almost elegant.
Leeds, Manchester, Spittalfields, unite to furnish the apparel of those who were formerly contented with clothing wholly manufactured on the north side of the
(River) Tweed (i.e.
Scottish). The persons, however, of this description are not numerous.
The bulk of the people are easily distinguished from those of the surrounding parishes, by a rejection of the fopperies of dress, and a becoming attachment to articles made in their own families.
The improvement in the style of living may he characterised, not by a, rapid transition from sordidness to luxury, but rather by a gradual remove from meanness to a comfortable mode of life.
A strict attention to economy, joined with a pride of inheriting unimpaired their paternal acres, prevents,
among the heritors of Barrie, that fluctuation of property which has lately marked many parts of Scotland.
Some lands, however, have within these few years changed their masters.
The price about 25 years purchase. The size of the . .
. . farms can he reduced to no average measure. The upper division of the parish, which may be properly styled the
arable part, is parcelled out among 10 or 11 landholders, 3 of whom are proprietors.
Their farms contain respectively from 30 to 300 acres a-piece. A happy adjustment of things has prevented a monopoly of farms, many of the leases presently current having been granted before the all-engrossing system began to extend its baneful influence.
It cannot be denied, however, that when any tack happens to fall, this system discovers itself in miniature, by a marked avidity to join to the former possession of a house and yard, the ground plot of a razed house, and the extent of its attached yard.
Along with the mode of labouring with horses, instead of oxen, the number
of cottagers in the service of the farmers has been diminished. There is no planned design to depress cottagers; but servants, entertained in the house, are found more conveniently placed for every exigence, are perhaps less expensive, not less active, not less disinterested, than those who have families of their own.
Besides 12 day-labourers, who have merely houses and yards, the only class of men who fall under the description of cottagers, are those employed by the farmers for threshing the corns.
They receive as wages, the twenty-fifth boll of each kind of grain they separate from the straw, with a dinner each working day.
The plough of Small's construction, drawn generally by 4 horses, and attended by a
stout lad and a boy, appears well adapted to every variety of soil in the parish.
In a small parish, of which not a third part is arable land, the number of ploughs and carts is very inconsiderable.
One waggon was made at Barrie in the year 1791. No wagon-road can reasonably be expected in the parish sooner than the year 1793.
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