Parish of Nairn

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.

This edition is copyright © The Editors of the Gazetteer for Scotland, 2002-2022.

It has taken much time and money to make the six-volumes of Groome's text freely accessible. Please help us continue and develop by making a donation. If only one out of every ten people who view this page gave £5 or $10, the project would be self-sustaining. Sadly less than one in thirty-thousand contribute, so please give what you can.

Use the tabs on the right of this page to see other parts of this entry Arrow

Links to the Historical Statistical Accounts of Scotland are also available:
(Click on the link to the right, scroll to the bottom of the page and click "Browse scanned pages")

1791-99: Nairn
1834-45: Nairn

Nairn, a parish at the mouth of the river just mentioned, on the sea-coast, in the NW of Nairnshire. It is bounded N by the Moray Firth; E by the parishes of Auldearn, a detached portion of Cawdor, Auldearn, and Ardclach; SW by the parish of Cawdor and the parish of Croy and Dalcross; and W by Inverness-shire. The boundary line is almost entirely artificial and highly irregular, the parish being formed by a compact portion on the N-measuring 5 miles from E to W, and 2 miles from N to S-from the SE corner of which a long, straggling projection, varying in breadth from 1 to 1½ mile, runs S for 3 miles to the Burn of Blarandualt. The area is 9387.261 acres, including 86.864 of water, 454.764 of foreshore, and 19.085 of tidal water. The surface slopes from the sea-beach till it reaches, along the S of the parish, a height of 120 feet, and in the southern prolongation already mentioned it reaches, at Hill of Urchany, a height of over 700 feet. Almost the whole of the surface is under cultivation or woodland. The soil about Kildrummie on the S, round the town of Nairn, and along the coast is sandy and light; along the river it is sand mixed with clay; and throughout most of the southern district it is a good rich loam. The underlying rock is Old Red sandstone. The drainage is effected by the river Nairn, which has a course of 4 miles along the centre and towards the E of the parish and by Lochdhu Burn, which, rising in the SW, has a course of 3 miles, first E and then N, till it reaches the sea 1¾ mile W of the mouth of the Nairn. Close to the town of Nairn, on the SW, is the poorhouse for the Nairn Poor-law Combination, which includes the parishes of Abernethy, Ardclach, Ardersier, Auldearn, Cawdor, Cromdale, Croy, Duthil, Dyke, Edinkillie, Nairn, and Petty. It is a plain building, with accommodation for 75 paupers, and the average number of inmates is about 45. Besides Kilravock Castle and Geddes House, which are separately noticed, the mansions are Achareidh, Fir Hall, Househill, Larkfield House, Ivybank, Millbank, Newton, and Viewfield. Geddes is associated with the name of John Mackintosh (1822-51), 'The Earnest Student,' the story of whose life has been so gracefully told by Dr Norman Macleod. At Geddes House once stood a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, but which appears in the Ordnance Survey Map under the somewhat unrecognisable title of St Warn's Chapel. No remains of it are now to be seen, but the site and the surrounding ground is still used as a churchyard, and it is the burial-place of the family of Kilravock, by whom the chapel was founded at least as early as the first half of the 13th century. In the 15th century it was held in high repute for sanctity, and in 1475 Pope Sextus IV. granted relief from 100 days' penance to all who made pilgrimage to it at certain festivals, or contributed a certain amount to the repair of the building. Threequarters of a mile E of Geddes House are the ruins of Rait Castle, anciently the seat of the Mackintoshes of Rait, and prior to that of a branch of the Cumyns, and also, it is said, of the family of Rait of Rait, which disappeared from the county in the end of the 14th century, and became, according to Shaw in his History of the Province of Moray, the founders of the family of Rait of Halgreen in Kincardineshire. The last of the Nairn family was, according to the same authority, Sir Alexander Rait, who, between 1395 and 1400, murdered the then thane of Cawdor. There seems also to have been at an early date a chapel here dedicated to the Virgin Mary; for incidental mention is made in 1343 of 'the hermit of the chapel of St Mary of Rait.' Close to the castle are the remains of an old British fort, called Castle-Findlay. The parish is traversed in the N for 5¼ miles by the main coast road from Inverness to Aberdeen, and also for 4¼ miles by the Inverness and Forres section of the Highland Railway system with a station at Nairn. Besides the town of Nairn, there are the small hamlets of Delnies (N) and Moss-side (centre). The parish is the seat of a presbytery in the synod of Moray, and the living is worth £390 a year. The churches are noticed in the following article. Under the landward school board the public schools of Delnies and Geddes, with respective accommodation for 173 and 60 pupils, had (1883) an average attendance of 69 and 53, and grants of £61, 0s. 6d. and £36, 3s. Five proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 30 hold each between £500 and £100, and there are a large number of smaller amount. Valuation, exclusive of burgh, (1860) £7986, (1884) £7778, 8s. 1d., plus £1271 for the railway. Pop. (1801) 2215, (1831) 3266, (1861) 4486, (1871) 4869, (1881) 5368, of whom 2913 were females, and 570 Gaelic-speaking, while 1207 were outside the limits of the police burgh.—Ord. Sur., sh 84, 1876.

The presbytery of Nairn comprehends the parishes of Ardclach, Ardersier, Auldearn, Cawdor, Croy, and Nairn. Pop. (1871) 11, 497, (1881) 12, 642, of whom 539 were communicants of the Church of Scotland in 1878.-The Free Church has also a presbytery, comprising the Free churches in the same parishes, which 6 churches together had 2106 members and adherents in 1883.

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

If you have found this information useful please consider making
a donation to help maintain and improve this resource. More info...

By using our site you agree to accept cookies, which help us serve you better