Parish of Kinloss

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: Kinloss
1834-45: Kinloss

Kinloss (probably a modified form of the Gaelic ceann-loch, 'the head of the loch'), a small parish with a hamlet of the same name on the seaboard in the NW of the county of Elgin. The hamlet is about ¼ mile from the SE corner of the estuary of the Findhorn or Findhorn Bay and ¾ NW of Kinloss station on the Highland railway. The parish is bounded N by the Moray Firth, E by Alves, S by Rafford, and W by Forres and by Dyke and Moy. Its greatest length, from WNW to ESE, is 4¾ miles; and the greatest breadth, from NE to SW, is 4½ miles. The area, inclusive of foreshore and water, is 6286.455 acres, but the land area is only 5184 acres, of which 3000 acres are in tillage, 1800 are in divided common, 250 are under wood, and the rest are waste. The surface is everywhere very low. Along the coast is a range of sandhills, and behind this, extending on an average for half mile inland, is a half grassy, half moory belt. The little drainage there is passes directly to Findhorn Bay or by the small Kinloss Burn, which passes from E to W almost through the centre of the parish, with a course of 4¼ miles. The land is mostly alluvial, and has been, as the name indicates, elevated at a period which, though geologically recent, must have been prehistoric. Over the whole of the arable part the soil is a rich fertile loam, with patches of clay, poor loam, sand, and moss. The underlying rock is sandstone. The principal residences are Grangehall and Seapark, both of which are noticed separately. The only object of antiquarian interest is Kinloss Abbey. It was founded by David I. in 1150, or, according to the Croniea de Mailros, in 1151, and the papal sanction for the new abbey was in 1174 granted by Pope Alexander III. to Reinerius, the second abbot. The monks belonged to the Cistercian order, and were brought from Melrose. According to Ferrerius, the foundation was due, like that of Holyrood, to a miraculous answer to King David's prayers. While he was hunting in his forests near Forres he lost his way, and, in answer to his prayer for aid, a white dove miraculously appeared, and, flying before him, guided him to an open space where two shepherds were watching their flocks. He was immediately afterwards warned in a dream that he ought to erect a chapel to the Blessed Virgin, and with his sword he at once marked out on the grass the outline of the building that was to be erected, and that there might be no delay he spent the summer at the castle of Duffus, in order himself to superintend and press on the erection of tbe building. The original grant conveyed to the abbey the lands of ` Kynloss and Inverlochty, ' and King Malcolm afterwards added other lands in the neighbourhood. Subsequently, several of the Kings, as well as private benefactors, enriched it extensively. William the Lyon conferred on the monks the barony of Strathisla in Banffshire, the lands of Burgie, the lands of Invererne, and tofts in the burghs of Inverness, Nairn, Forres, Elgin, and Aberdeen. Robert Bruce granted all the fishings on the river Findhorn, and this grant was confirmed by James I. and James IV. Several of the abbots who were mitred and had a seat in parliament were distinguished men, the most so being Robert Reid, who ruled from 1526 till his appointment as Bishop of Orkney in 1541.The abbots had a regality jurisdiction over their possessions. In 1587 the lands belonging to it were annexed to the Crown, and on 2 Feb. 1601 a charter was granted to Edward Bruce (who on the dissolution of the religious houses had been appointed commendator of Kinloss) erecting the lands into a temporal lordship and barony, and in 1604 Bruce became Lord Bruce of Kinloss, a title which still remains among those of the Earl of Elgin, though the estates have long quitted the family, the first Earl having in 1643 sold them to Alexander Brodie of Lethen. Of the buildings which, from the importance of the place, must have been very extensive, and included all the apartments suitable to a large monastery, but few fragments now remain. These are a cloister wall on the W, two fine Saxon arches on the S, and a two-story building with groined roof, traditionally called the ` prior's chambers,' on the E. To the S are the E gable and a portion of the wall of a dwelling-house traditionally the residence of the abbot. The chapter-house is said to have survived till the latter part of the 18th century. It seems to have been supported by six pillars, and these are mentioned by Pennant, who visited the building in 1769. His account in his Tour in Scotland (Chester, 1771) also mentions the orchard. ` Near the abbey is an orchard of apple and pear trees, at least coeval with the last monks; numbers lie prostrate; their venerable branches seem to have taken fresh roots, and were laden with fruit, beyond what could be expected from their antique look. ' These have now disappeared. The church, whose outline alone can be traced, was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, and had a nave, transepts, and choir, with a lofty tower at the crossing. The tower seems to have been erected between 1467 and 1482, and fell in 1574. The Laird of Lethen in 1650 sold the stones of much of the buildings to the Commonwealth for the erection of the citadel at Inverness, and one of his descendants carried off and used part of what remained for the erection of farm offices. In 1650 the parish had no separate existence, and in 1652 the minister of Alves represented to the presbytery that ` the chapterhouse of the Abbey of Kinloss hath been since the Reformation a place for preaching the Word, celebrating the sacraments and marriage; and by a condescendence between Alexander Brodie of Lethen and the English garrison at Inverness, the fabric of the abbey is taken down for building their citadel, save the place of worship; and those who have the charge for to transport the stone have it in command to take that down also: therefore, ' the presbytery were to lay to heart what might happen seeing that all parties concerned had agreed that there was to be a separate church and parish erected for Kinloss. Mr Brodie declared that ` it was against his will that these stones were taken away, ' and finally agreed to give a- glebe and a site for a manse and a church, and, besides, to pay for the erection of these buildings out of the money he had received for the stones of the abbey. The parish of Kinloss was soon thereafter constituted in 1657 by disjunctions from the parishes of Forres, Rafford, and Alves, and this was ratified by parliament in 1661. Edward I., during his progress through the North in 1303, quartered himself and his soldiers on the Monks on 13 Sept., and spent part of that month as well as of October, and possibly also of November there, as is shown by a number of deeds signed by him at Kinloss.

The parish is in the presbytery of Forres and the synod of Moray; the living is worth £293. The parish church, at the hamlet near the abbey, was erected in 1765, and repaired in 1830. The Free church of Kinloss is at Findhorn, which village is within the parish. Two public schools, Kinloss and Findhorn female, with accommodation respectively for 114 and 108 pupils, had in 1881 attendances of 61 and 73, and grants of £52, 10s. 6d. and £62, 13s. There are also a sub-post office, a public library, and a friendly society. The parish is traversed by the Forres and Keith section of the Highland railway, which passes through it on the S for 3¼ miles, and has a station near the middle of its course. A branch line from Kinloss station to Findhorn is not at present worked. R. C. M. Ferguson, Esq. of Raith, holds rather more than one-half of the entire rental; 2 lesser proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 4 hold each between £500 and £100, 4 hold each between £100 and £50, and there are others of smaller amount. Valuation (1860) £6128, (1883) £7427, 10s. Pop. (1801) 917, (1831) 1121, (1861) 1315, (1871) 1112, (1881) 1072, of whom 476 were males and 596 females.—Ord. Sur., shs. 95, 94, 1876-78.

See also Shaw's History of the Province of Moray (Edinb. 1775; 2d ed., Elgin, 1827; 3d ed., Glasgow, 1882); Ferrerius' History of the Abbey of Kinloss (Bannatyne Club, Edinb. 1839); Taylor's Edward I. in the North of Scotland (Elgin, 1858); and Dr John Stuart's Records of the Monastery of Kinloss (Edinb. 1872, published for the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland).

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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