Parish of Forres

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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1791-99: Forres
1834-45: Forres

Forres (Gael. far-uis, ' near the water '), a parish in the NW of the county of Elgin, is bounded on the NE by Kinloss, on the E, SE, and S by Rafford, on the S W by Edinkillie, and on the W by Dyke and Moy. Near the middle of the western boundary, at Moy Carse westward from Invererne, the boundary is formed by a detached portion of Nairnshire, measuring 4 furlongs by 2. With this exception, the boundary on the SW and W is the river Findhorn; elsewhere it is artificial and excessively irregular. There is a long narrow strip running N and S, and from the middle of this a hornlike projection runs eastward into the parish of Rafford, and terminates near Califermoss. The greatest length from the point on the N in Findhorn Bay, where Forres unites with the parishes of Kinloss and Dyke and Moy, to the point on the S where it unites with the parishes of Rafford and Edinkillie, is 6¼ miles; and the breadth, from E to W, from the most easterly point of the long projection already mentioned, to the point on the W on the river Findhorn, where the parishes of Forres, Edinkillie, and Dyke and Moy unite, is 5¼ Owing, however, to its irregular shape, the area is only 5440 acres. The surface in the northern district is low and level, and is highly cultivated, as is also that of the central district, which is diversified by small round hills crowned with clumps of trees that, along with the hedgerows, give to the neighbourhood of Forres a peculiarly English aspect. In the eastward projection the ground rises more steeply, and at Califer Hill attains a height of 700 feet above sea-level. The wooded ridge of Cluny Hill, close to the town of Forres, is noticed in the following article. The woods of Altyre in the S are extensive and, in some places, picturesque. The soil of the lower and central districts is mostly a good loam, but in parts it is light and sandy, and, like most of the ' Laich of Moray, ' of which an old proverb says, that

' A misty May and a drappin' June
Put the bonnie Land o' Moray abune,'

it takes a good deal of rain in the earlier part of the season to bring the crops to full perfection. The soil of the southern portion is poorer and in parts mossy. The underlying rocks are sandstone and impure limestone, a quarry in the latter in the extreme S of the parish, near Cothall, being sometimes worked. The climate is good and the air dry and pure. The parish is drained by the river Findhorn, flowing 5¾ miles northward along all the western border, and by the Burn of Forres or Altyre, which, entering from Rafford parish, winds 5½ miles northward past the W end of the town, till it falls into Findhorn Bay. Although the mouth of this burn and the mouth proper of the river Findhorn are a mile apart along the edge of the bay, and the edge of the bay is more than a mile and a half from the town of Forres, yet, during the great flood of the 3 and 4 Aug. 1829, so much were both river and burn swollen, that their waters united near the W end of the town at the Castle Hill, the whole of the low country to the N being under water. ' The view of the inundated plain of Forres, ' says Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, ' from the Castlehill of the borough, on the morning of the 4th, though truly magnificent, was such as to overwhelm the mind of the spectator with dismay. From Mundole, about 2 miles to the W of Forres, and from Forres to Findhorn, about 5 miles to the N, the whole plain was under water. The river and the burn met under the Castlehill, and the inundation spread over the rich and variously cropped fields, and over hedges, gardens, orchards, and plantations. In this " world of waters " the mansions of proprietors, the farmhouses and offices, the trees, and especially the hedgerows, giving its peculiarly English appearance to the environs of Forres-the ricks of hay, and here and there a few patches of corn standing on situations more elevated than the rest, presented a truly wonderful scene. One-half of the bridge of Forres, over the burn immediately under the Castlehill, had disappeared during the night, having parted longitudinally; and, over the part that yet remained, the people on the W side of the burn were hastily removing their families, cattle, and furniture to the hill on which Forres stands, after having waded to the middle to rescue them from the flood.' The Loch of Blairs, measuring 3 by 2 furlongs, and lying 2½ miles SSW of the town, is partly in Forres parish, partly in Rafford. The parish is traversed by the Highland railway system. The line from Inverness to Keith passes across the parish near the centre from SW to NE for a distance of 2 miles. At the W end of the town of Forres the Perth section of the line branches off and passes in a SE direction through the parish for more than 2½ miles. At the SW end of the Inverness and Keith section, the Findhorn is crossed by a heavy plategirder bridge with 3 spans of 150 feet each, the girders being supported by massive abutments on each side, and by 2 piers in the waterway, of the river. The piers are founded on rock 15 feet below the bed. The great road from Aberdeen to Inverness passes through the parish a little to the S of the railway for a distance of 2½ miles. It passes through the town of Forres, and crosses the Findhorn by an elegant suspension bridge, which was erected in 1831 from designs by Sir Samuel Brown, R.N. The river was formerly crossed at the same place by a handsome bridge of 3 arches, but it was swept away by the great flood of 1829, and, at the same time, a mile of the turnpike road to the E was destroyed, and ' left in deep holes full of salmon. ' The present bridge was erected to replace the one destroyed by the flood. It cost nearly £10,000, and the last remaining toll in the county of Elgin was its lately-abolished pontage. The chains are supported at either side of the river by well proportioned Gothic towers. The industries of the parish are connected with the town of the same name, and are noticed in the following article. Sanquhar House, ¾ mile S of the town, is an Elizabethan structure, in plan resembling a double cross, and greatly enlarged in 1863. The main building is two stories high, and at the NW corner rises an octagonal three-story tower. There are good gardens, and in the park are a number of fine trees; whilst to the N of the house is a beautiful artificial lake. William Fraser-Tytler (1777-1853), eldest son of Lord Woodhouselee, in 1801 married Margaret Cussans, only daughter and heiress of George Grant of Burdsyards or Sanquhar; and his second son, Charles Edward Fraser-Tytler of Aldourie and Balmain (1816-81), who held 1310 acres in Elginshire, and 15,978 in Inverness-shire, valued at £1813 and £3151 per annum, has left Aldourie in the former county to his eldest surviving son, Edward Grant, and Sanquhar to the third, William Theodore. Invererne House, which is 1½ mile N by W of the town, is a quadrangular building of four stories, built in 1818. The old name of it was Tannachy, and it belonged to the family of Tulloch of Tannachy, who, however, had to part with it in 1772. The name has been changed since the present proprietor acquired it in 1834. It was at one time the residence of Charles St John, the well-known author of Wild Sports of the Highlands and of Natural History and Sport in Moray. Forres House, which is on the outskirts of the town, has a large garden and policies extending to the base of the Cluny Hill. The site was formerly occupied by a fine old mansion-house which also belonged to the Tannachy family. Drumduan House is near the E end of the town. Seven proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 or upwards, 15 of between £100 and £500, 43 of from £50 to £100, and 69 of from £20 to £50. The parish is in the presbytery of Forres and synod of Moray; the living is worth £386. The public, the infant public, and the industrial Episcopalian school, with respective accommodation for 400, 169, and 108 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 269, 118, and 86, and grants of £240, 10s., £88, 17s., and £76, 13s. Valuation, exclusive of burgh, (1881) £7787, 4s. Pop. (1801) 3114, (1831) 3895, (1861) 4112, (1871) 4562, (1881) 4752.-Ord. Sur., shs. 84, 85, 94, 1876-78.

Forres is the seat of a presbytery in the synod of Moray, comprehending the parishes of Forres, Dallas, Dyke, Edinkillie, Kinloss, and Rafford. Pop. (1871) 10,359, (1881) 10,202, of whom 760 were communicants of the Church of Scotland in 1878.-The Free Church has also a presbytery of Forres, including churches in the same six parishes, which together had 1960 members in 1881.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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