Auchlichnie, Kirkmichael, Banffshire
now known as Achlichnie
Kirkmichael, Banffshire, Scotland
In the very detailed Old Statistical Account v.12, written about 1792, Kirkmichael is described as being divided into 10 districts called davochs, one belonging to Sir James Grant and the rest the property of the Duke of Gordon.
The population in 1755 was 1283. No Sessional records exist prior to 1725. A third of the parish are Roman Catholics. The parish contains 1276 inhabitants, of these 384 are Roman Catholics. There are 253 families containing on average 5 persons per family, with 265 children under 8 years of age. There are now living 2 men aged 88 and two women aged 87, 89 & 91. The average of marriages for the last 4 years is 6.
The total of black cattle in the parish is 1400, with 7050 sheep, 310 goats and 303 horses. No other domesticated animals are reared, except some poultry, and a few geese.
The church was built in 1747 [since replaced] and has never since been repaired having broken windows, etc.
There are two schools, a Society one at Tammtoul, and a parochial one at Tamchlaggan. 32 persons are on the list of the poor. The price of a days labour to men is 8d, 10d & 1 shilling and women 6d, sometimes 8d.
Tammtoul is the only village, it is inhabited by 37 families, without a single manufacture. All of them sell whisky and all of the drink it. When disengaged from this business the women spin yarn, kiss their inamoratos, or dance to the discordant sounds of an old fiddle. The men, when not participating in the amusements of the women, sell small articles of merchandise or let themselves occasionally for a days labour ... their turf thatched hovels. Here the Roman Catholic priest has an elegant meeting house and the Protestant clergyman the reverse of it. A school is stationed in this village attended by 40 to 50 little recreants, all promising to be very like their parents.
Sheep are at present the staple commodity. There are 4 mills in the parish.
The common idiom of the parish is a dialect of the ancient celtic - the young people speak Gaelic and English indifferently and with equal impropriety. Some of the old people speak the Gaelic. with propriety. They speak the same dialiect of the Celtoc that is now spoken in Badenoch, making allowance for some little difference in point of pronunciation.
The minister writes at length on the superstitions & customs, the parishioners having a strong belief in ghosts and fairies.
Dress: Since 1745 there is considerable change in the dress of the people ... the ancient dress was proscribed and consequently supeseded by the low country dress. To the ancient braccae, or truith and belted plaid, succeeded strait breeches, and an awkward coat of a uniform colour, sometimes a long furtout dangling down to the heels, encumbering the freedom of motion. After Fraser of Lovatt got the prohibitory act repealed "to divert the minds of the people from Transatlantic notions" few have availed themselves of the privilege of "exposing their naked posteriors to the north wind". Habit reconciles them to the present, and they seem to have no desire of resuming thir ancient garb. The blue bonnet, however, withe exception of some round hats, still maintins its ground. Women too have altered their apparel since 1745. Before that period, they wore sometimes white blankets covering their heads, sometimes their shoulders, drawn forward by thier hands, surrounded on each side by a fold. These as fashions varied, were succeeded by barred plaids, or blankets, where different colours blended, crossing each other at right angles, somewhat distant, and bearing a square face in the middle. Wearied of barred plaids, they betook themselves to Stirling ones, and now Duffle cardinals seem to have the ascendant. Formerly their hair flowed in easy ringlets over their shoulders; not many years ago it was bound behind in to a cone, now is spreads into a protuberance on the forehead, supported by cushions; sometimes it is plain, and split int he middle. But who can describe the caprice of female ornament more vaious than the changes of the moon.
Manner of Living: Not more than 50 years ago their mode of living in this country was different from what it is at present. Places that were at that time waste, are now planted with inhabitants. And though sheep, be more numerous than formerly, they are chiefly the property of those who occupy the outskirts, and to whom the hills and glens lie more convenient. In the central places, the farms are enlarged, at least as much as the nature of the ground can admit; consequently the smaller tenants are fewer, and live less at their ease; but previous to the above period, even cottagers kept a few sheep, because the hill pasture was a common, and there were few of any descriptio who did not accoasionally feed upon flesh. But at present, unless it be at Christmas, or whne any little festivals are celebrated, the fodl is kept sacred for the market, in order to make money to supply the ixigencies of the family, and satisy the many demands to which it is exposed, from bad seasons, precrious crops, and increasing taxes; besides that, the luxury of the times has imported into this country, anaccessible as it is to other improvements, a portion of factitious wants, which must be gratified. 50 years ago, they used burnt plates of whisky, instead of that spirit, which must be diluted with warm water, and sweetened with sugar. It must, however, be acknowledged, that it is seldom they indulge in this beverage; they oftener drink it raw and unmixed. It may easily be supposed that a plant of such universal consumption as tea, should not be unknown to the people. Few of the better families are without it, though sparingly used, and some of the old women, even when they cannot afford sugar, infuse it in boiling water, and drink it for their headaches.
Character, etc.: [70 to 80 years ago] the people of this country were generous and hospitable. If they were occasionally subject to the foibles, the possessed the virtues of genuine Highlanders. If they resented injuries with vehemence and passion, their breasts felt the glow of affection and friendship. Attached to their chieftain, they followed his standard where-ever it led; and never shrunk from danger in the defence of his cause. Connected with the freebooters of Lochaber, they imbibed no inconsiderable portion of their spirit and manners; address and stratagem marked their enterprises; active abroad, they were indolent at home; addicted to depredation, they neglected the arts of industry and agriculture; disengaged from those pursuits that require vigour and axertion, they passed the vacant hour in social enjoyment, in song and festivity, and in listening to the tale of other years; rude in their manners, their bosoms frequently opened to the warm impressions of a disinterested benevolence. The indigent and the stranger found them always ready to sympathize with their distress.
[In nearer time] a different picture appears. The spirit of commerce has penetrated hither ... cunning has supplanted sincerity, and dissimulation candour; ... flattery is used as a lure to betray the unwary. Obligations are rewarded by ingratitude, and when the favour is past, the benefit is no longer remembered ... From a combination of causes, particularly high taxation, and increasing commerce, avarice and selfishness must necessarily constitute a prominent feature in the character of many. At the same time, there may still be found the usual proportion of persons of different character, conspicuous for honour & integrity, humane and benevolent, just and upright in their transactions.
In the New Statistical Account of 1842 the minister writes that the inhabited parts are the alluvial soils in the narrow valley of the Avon and its tributary glens of the Conglass & Kebat on the east and the Lochy on the west. The sole landowners are the Duke of Richmond with 9/10ths and the Earl of Seafield. The registers have been imperfectly kept, no originals previous to the beginning of the present century. Some fragments back to 1725 were transcribed in 1800 but many blanks. No Session records prior to 1810 and since irregular. The population in 1655 was 1288, 1792 - 1276, 1811 - 1386, 1821 - 1570, 1831 - 1741 and in 1839 was 1722. The increase in population of 400-500 in the frist 30 years of the century was due to improved husbandry and the Duke's kindness. Since 1831 there has been a decrease of 19 accounted for the great failure of the crops during the last 4 years and by the village of Tomintoul having been enlarged beyond the maximum of its resources for supporting its inhabitants, many of whom are now obliged to leave it, and also by a desire manifested on the part of the proprietors, to enlarge the farms of the parish. Gaelic is generally spoken. Those under 40 can speak English. ... Generally leases are for 19 years and expire in 1842.
Jervise, Andrew, ed. 1879. Epitaphs and inscriptions from burial grounds & old buildings in the north east of Scotland, v.1: The present church was erected in 1807; Glenbuchat MIs are described.