Parish of Petty

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: Pettie
1834-45: Pettie

Petty, a parish on the S side of the Moray Firth, in the extreme NE of the county of Inverness, and with a small part crossing the boundary into Nairnshire. It is bounded N by the parish of Ardersier, for ¼ mile at the NE corner by the parish of Nairn, E and SE by the parish of Croy, SW by the parish of Inverness and Bona, and NW by the Moray Firth. The boundary is artificial except along the Firth, and on the N, where it follows the course of a small stream. The greatest length, from the point on the NE between Lambhill and Blackcastle where the parish and county boundaries reach the coast road from Inverness to Nairn, to the point on the SW where the line crosses the same road near Culloden Brickworks, is 7¼ miles; the average breadth is about 2 miles; and the area is 10,697.313 acres, inclusive of 877.734 of foreshore and 33.052 of water; of the total area 321.254 acres, including 0.121 acre of water, are in Nairnshire and the rest in Inverness-shire. A central hollow, from 30 to 40 feet above sea-level, passes along the whole parish from NE to SW, and from this the surface slopes to the SE to a height varying from 150 feet at the N end to over 300 near the S end, along the ridge above Culloden Moor. Between the central hollow and the sea in the N there is a strip of flat ground sloping gradually to the shore; in the centre and S the ground slopes up to a height of over 100 feet, and then down to a terrace along the 50-feet contour, from which there is a rapid fall to the shore. The coast is low and sandy and with a very gentle slope, so that a considerable amount of foreshore is uncovered at low water. At the W corner of the parish the triangular Alterlie Point projects nearly ½ mile beyond the ordinary coastline, and N of it is a small bay, sometimes called Petty Bay and sometimes Alterlie Bay. Almost the whole surface is under cultivation or woodland, but there is mossy and benty land extending probably to nearly 1000 acres. There are about 1800 acres under wood. The soil toward the sea is light loam and clayey sand, but along the hollow and on the south-eastern slope it is much stronger and very fertile. The underlying rock belongs to the upper Old Red Sandstone system. In the SE about half of Loch Flemington (4 by 1½ furl.) lies within the parish, and 1½ mile SW of it is the small Lochan Dinty. The drainage is carried off by a number of small streams, those in the S uniting and flowing into the sea at Petty Bay, and those in the centre and N uniting and flowing into the sea at the extreme N corner of the parish. The mansions are Castle Stuart (1¼ mile WSW of Dalcross station), Flemington (½ mile NE of Fort George station), and Gollanfield (7 furlongs ENE of Fort George station). The first is a seat of the Earl of Moray, and is a fine example of the castellated mansion of the early part of the 17th century. Traditionally the date of its erection is earlier, some making it a residence of James IV., others assigning it to the Regent Murray; but the building bears date 1625, and Sir Robert Gordon, in his History of the Earldom of Sutherland, says that in 1624 the Clan Chattan went' to ane hous which he [the Earl] hath now of late built in Pettie called Castell Stuart, they drive away his servants from thence, and doe possess themselves of all the Earl of Moray his rents in Pettie.' This date is also borne out by the style of the building, a large high-roofed structure of several stories, with the great hall and principal rooms in the upper part. In front there is a square projecting tower at each end. That to the W, which contains the main staircase, seems somewhat older than the rest of the building. Formerly the castle was surrounded by a fine park and an orchard noted for its greens; but the trees were all cut down about 1835, the park ploughed up, and the roof of the building removed, so that had not the proprietor's attention been called to it the whole would soon have been a ruin. It was then repaired, and is now used as a shooting-box. Lying close to the clan grounds and in possession of the Earls of Moray, whom the Highlanders looked on as foes, Petty was much exposed to inroads for plunder. One such attack has been already noticed, and other two that occurred early in the 16th century are known as the Herschips of Petty' The first was in 1502, when Sir James Dunbar of Cumnock, and his brother, David Dunbar of Durris, 'and thar complicis spulyet the landis of Petty and Geddes,' as well as of 'Halhill, the Fischertone and Hurlehurst,, though for what reason does not seem certain. Elizabeth, the daughter of Sir James Dunbar, was married to John Ogilvie of Strathnairn, who resided at Halhill Castle (which is by some supposed to have stood on the site of the present Castle Stuart, but by others is placed, with more probability, on the rising ground near the centre of the sea coast of the parish, at the school), which was, in 1513, the scene of the second herschip of Petty, the leaders of the plunderers on this occasion being the captain of Clan Mackintosh and Rose of Kilravock. Behind Castle Stuart is the church of Petty, and on the bank to the W of it are two large tumuli or moat hills. In the churchyard many of the chiefs of Mackintosh lie buried, and the procession at the funeral of Lachlan Mackintosh, who died in 1731, reached from Dalcross Castle to the churchyard, a distance by road of about 4 miles. In the Bay of Petty close at hand is the famous boulder known as 'the travelled stone of Petty.' It is from 6 to 7 feet long, from 5 to 6 feet wide, and about 6 feet high, and with a projecting ledge all round it near the lower side. It originally served as a march stone between the properties of the Earl of Moray and Forbes of Culloden, but was, during the mouth of February 1799, moved about 260 yards to the WNW. A severe frost during that month had caused an accumulation of about 18 inches of ice over most of the bay, and this, during the night of the 19th, was capable of lifting the mass of stone so as to allow it to be floated by the tide, aided by a powerful gale of wind, to its present position. (See a paper by Sir Thomas Dick Lauder in the Memoirs of the Wernerian Society, vol. iii.) Anciently in the possession of the powerful northern family of De Moravia, the barony of Petty passed into the possession of the Earls of Moray till Archibald Douglas was forfeited in 1455, when it fell into the hands of the Crown. It was granted to Ogilvie of Findlater, who again disponed his interest to the Earl of Moray. The parish is traversed by the main road from Inverness to Nairn with a branch passing off at Newton near the SW end, and leading through the village of Campbeltown to the ferry at Fort George. The cross road from the SW end of Flemington Loch to Fort George is a portion of one of General Wade's military roads, and there are a number of good district roads. Railway communication is obtained by the Forres and Inverness section of the Highland Railway system which passes through the centre of the parish from NE to SW with stations at Dalcross (6¾ miles from Inverness) and at Fort George (9½ miles from Inverness and 3 from the Fort itself).

The parish contains a village of the same name near the church, and two small hamlets. Petty is in the presbytery of Inverness and synod of Moray, and is formed of the old parishes of Petyn and Bracholy, which were united after the Reformation, and the original church was dedicated to St Columba, and is said to have occupied the site of a Culdee cell. The present church, built in 1839, includes a portion of a previous church. The living is worth £384. The Free church is on the side of the road from Inverness to Forres, 1¾ mile E by N of the parish church. Two new public schools, East and West, with respective accommodation for 140 and 150 children, had (1884) an average attendance of 86 and 63, and grants of £6l, 2s. and £30, 12s 4d. The Earl of Moray is the largest proprietor, and three others hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, one holds between £500 and £100, and one between £50 and £20. Valuation (1884) for the Inverness-shire section, £8164, 4s. 6d., and for the Nairnshire section £202, 12s. The reach of the Highland railway in the former is valued at £2026, and in the latter at £89. Pop. (1755) 1643, (1801) 1585, (1831) 1826, (1861) 1602, (1871) 1496, (1881) 1531, of whom 794 were females, and 807 Gaelic-speaking; while 1488 were in Inverness-shire, and 43 in Nairn. shire.—Ord. Sur., sh. 84, 1876.

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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