Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for Elgin

Elgin, a parish containing a city and royal burgh of the same name in the N of the county of Elgin. It is bounded on the N by Spynie; on the NE and E by St Andrews-Lhanbryd; on the S by Rothes, Birnie, and Dallas; on the W by Rafford, and on the NW by Alves. Its shape is very irregular, but the greatest length from SW to NE is 11 miles, and its greatest breadth from N to S 4½ miles. The area is 19,258 acres, of which nearly 12,000 are under cultivation, upwards of 2000 are under wood, and most of the remainder is pasture-land, very little of the surface being waste. The soil varies considerably, being in many places (especially on the alluvial flats lying along the banks of the river Lossie) a good black loam, rich and fertile; in other places, particularly towards the S of the parish, it is a light sandy loam passing in many parts into almost pure sand; elsewhere, again, it is clay. The subsoil is clay, sand, or gravel. In the W of the parish the underlying rock is a hard, Whitish-grey sandstone, which is almost throughout of excellent quality for building purposes. In 1826 a considerable quantity of it from the ridge to the N of Pluscarden was sent to London, to be used in the construction of the new London Bridge. In the E the underlying rock is an impure silicious limestone, which was at one time, at several places, quarried and burned for lime, but this, which was of a dull brown colour, was so impure and inferior, whether for building or agricultural purposes, that the workings have been abandoned. The western part of the parish is occupied by the long valley of Pluscarden, which is bounded on the N by the steep slope of the Eildon or Heldun Hill (767 feet), separating the parish from Alves, and on the S by the gentler slope leading to the Hill of the Wangie (1020), which separates Elgin from Dallas. The surface of the rest of the parish is undulating, and rises gradually from N to S from the height of about 36 feet above sea-level at the extreme E end of the parish to a height of about 900 feet on the extreme S, on the slopes of the Brown Muir Hill. The main line of drainage is by the river Lossie, and the tributary streams that flow into it. The Lossie enters the parish near the middle of the S side, and forms the boundary between Elgin and Birnie for about 3 miles. It thereafter passes across to the northern side where it turns abruptly to the E and winds along, forming the boundary between Elgin and Spynie, and between Elgin and St Andrews-Lhanbryd. It has everywhere a very winding course, and is confined by artificial banks, against which (notwithstanding its quiet appearance and placid flow on ordinary occasions) it rushes furiously in times of flood. About 2 miles from the city of Elgin it is joined by the Black Burn or Black Water, a stream of fair size, which flows along and carries off the drainage of the whole valley of Pluscarden. About a quarter of a mile lower it receives the water from a small canal formed for the drainage of the district of Mostowie in the NW corner of the parish. Other small streams in or passing partly through the parish are the Tyock and Muirton or Linkwood Burn. The parish contains the city of Elgin, the village of New Elgin, and the hamlets of Clackmarras and Muir of Miltonduff. There is a distillery at Miltonduff, a brewery W of the city near Bruceland, and a small woollen mill at Coleburns, near the entrance of the Glen of Rothes. The industries carried on in or about the city are noticed in the following article. In the landward part of the parish there are a number of meal and flour mills. The mansion-houses of Blackhills and Westerton are noticed separately, as also is the chief object of antiquarian interest in the landward district, Pluscarden Abbey. The parish is traversed by the Highland railway, by the Morayshire section of the Great North of Scotland railway system, by the main road from Aberdeen to Inverness, and by the road to Rothes and Speyside. Four proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 38 hold between £100 and £500, 59 hold between £50 and £100, and 134 hold each between £20 and £50. The parish is in the presbytery of Elgin (of which it is the seat) and the synod of Moray. The charge is collegiate, and the stipend of each of the ministers is £572. The senior minister has besides a manse and glebe worth respectively £40 and £43 a year, while the second minister has a glebe worth about £17 a year. The churches are noticed under the city of Elgin, in which they all stand, except a charge of the Free Church of Pluscarden, the congregation of which has accommodation in one of the rooms of Pluscarden Abbey. This was formerly a church of the royal bounty, but ceased to be connected with the Establishment at the Disruption in 1843. The parish is one of fifteen forming the Morayshire Poor Law Combination, with a poorhouse in a suburb of Elgin to the N, but in the parish of Spynie. The buildings, which were erected in 1865, rise to a height of two stories, and are surrounded by walled-in grounds of fair size. They are in the Elizabethan style, treated very plainly. The porter's lodge is at the entrance from the turnpike road to Lossiemouth, and from this a straight path leads to the chief entrance in the centre of the main building in which are the governor's and matron's rooms, and the board-room, dining-hall, and chapel. On either side of the central portion are the day-rooms, with the dormitories above. The public schools of Mostowie, New Elgin, and Pluscarden, and Clackmarras school, with respective accommodation for 139, 175, 120, and 64 children, had (1882) an average attendance of 77, 74, 63, and 35, and grants of £59, 3s., £58, 2s., £49, 9s. 6d., and £38, 4s. Valuation (1881) of lands, £11, 354, 5s. Pop. (1801) 4345, (1831) 6130, (1841) 6083, (1851) 7277, (1861) 8726, (1871) 8604, (1881) 8741.—Ord. Sur., shs. 95, 85, 1876.

The presbytery of Elgin comprises the parishes of Elgin, Alves, St Andrews-Lhanbryd, Birnie, Drainie, Duffus, Speymouth, Spynie, and Urquhart, the quoad sacra parish of Burghead, and the mission of Lossiemouth. Pop. (1871) 22,966, (1881) 23, 984, of whom 2638 were communicants of the Church of Scotland in 1878.-The Free Church has also a presbytery of Elgin, with 2 churches in the city of Elgin, 1 in the glen of Pluscarden, and 7 at respectively Alves, Burghead, Garmouth, Hopeman, Lossiemouth, and Urquhart, which 9 churches together had 3144 members in 1881.-The United Presbyterians have a presbytery of Elgin and Inverness, meeting generally at Forres, and exercising supervision over 2 churches in Elgin and 10 at respectively Archiestown, Burghead, Campbelton, Forres, Inverness, Lossiemouth, Moyness, Nairn, Nigg, and Tain, which 12 churches together had 1875 members in 1880.

(F.H. Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4); © 2004 Gazetteer for Scotland)

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a parish containing a city and royal burgh"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Elgin ScoP       Elgin Burgh       Elgin DoC       Moray ScoCnty
Place: Elgin

Go to the linked place page for a location map, and for access to other historical writing about the place. Pages for linked administrative units may contain historical statistics and information on boundaries.