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The Monikie Story, by Rev. W. Douglas Chisholm.

1. From the "Tay Valley Family Historian",
the journal of the Tay Valley Family History Society.

"The Monikie Story"

In his Preface to 'The Monikie Story", the Reverend Douglas Chisholm, the former minister of the parish, now retired, makes it plain that his book "is the story of the people in the Parish of Monikie in the County of Angus". Right well does he succeed in that enterprise.

Starting with a description of the earth-houses, known as "souterrains", at Ardestie and Carlungie, constructed, it is suggested, around 50 A.D., the author records the gradual, but continuous, change in the landscape and in farming methods. For example, reference is made to the enlightened land management and farming methods practiced by successive proprietors of the Estate of Panmure, which brought long-term benefits to the farms on the Panmure lands Despite changes in its ownership, the records of the estate, part of the Dalhousie Muniments, provide an almost continuous record of accounts and of cropping from 1612.

There is a fairly brief disquisition on the ecclesiastical conflict between Presbyterians and Episcopalians around the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th centuries, and of the political struggle (as it affected the Parish) between Jacobites and Hanoverians, the latter being happily concluded when the Forfeited Estate of Panmure was recovered by William, Earl of Panmure, after the "Forty-five".

Thereafter, in the words of the author, the years around 1750 saw changes for the better in living standards and in farming methods and productivity.

The first ecclesiastic schism in the parish occurred in 1789, primarily because of the disapproval of the system of appointment of ministers by a patron - in the case of Monikie, the Crown At that time an Associate Burgher Congregation was founded, the promoters believing in their right to choose their minister, and a church was erected at Newbigging. The members, in the main, were residents of the parishes of Monifieth, Barry and Murroes.

William Maule, minister of the parish from 1783 to 1827, described by the author as "William Maule, the Moderate", seems, to this reviewer, to have been a man with whom the author is much in sympathy, as the following quotation demonstrates:-

"The Moderates were less interested in the finer points of theology than in the teaching of social virtues that would lead to a tolerant, civilised existence." "Such ministers", the author continues, "had wide and far-reaching interests in natural science and not least in agriculture and industry. One of the fruits of this outlook and spirit was the production of the "Statistical Account of the Parishes of Scotland", the brain-child of Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster, a notable "Improver". It was William Maule's achievement that he wrote the Parish Account for Monikie" - a distinguished piece of work, well worth reading.

The beginning of the 19th Century was marred by famine conditions, despite the growth of prosperity, and it fell to the Kirk Session to take steps to alleviate the distress of the poor of the Parish It was decided to apply \'a3200 from the Poor Fund for the purchase of grain for distribution to those in want. Further sums were required and an additional amount was provided from the Poor Fund, supplemented by contributions from farmers such as "John Smith, Dod; Peter Gilruth, Affleck; David Smith, Denside; George Adamson, Carlungie; George Patullo, East Downie; Robert Stiven, Fallaws; James Webster, Downieken; and James Anderson, New Downie." These men had long resided in the parish, as had, presumably, David Beat, David Ramsay and John Moug, who had been ordained as elders as far back as 1665 to help with the distribution of money to the poor of the Parish. Thus, over a period of nearly one and a half centuries, the Kirk Session demonstrated that it took seriously its obligations to the poor.

Weaving was, of course, the chief industry in the parish, as it was throughout Angus. In 1801, cut of a population of 1,236, 117 persons were engaged in agriculture, while no fewer than 607 were engaged in handcraft or manufacture - presumably handloom weaving. By about 1870, however, after its beginnings in 1736, when George Dempster (grandfather of George Dempster of Dunnichen, the celebrated improver and enlightened landlord) sold linseed to farmers in the parish, hand-loom weaving came to an end.

William Maule's successor, the Reverend James Miller, was responsible for the New Statistical Account of 1842 which, like that of 1791, recorded an overall improvement in standards of living and agriculture and, while he commended farmers "for giving up the pernicious and demoralising system of bothies", the system continued into the present century.

Mr. Miller was a member of the Evangelical Party within the Kirk and, in the Disruption of 1843, he gave up his charge to join the newly-established Free Church of Scotland. A new church was built at Craigton, and subsequently a manse, which is now the Craigton Coach Inn.

Happily, the Free Church and the Church of Scotland reunited in 1929, and the charge of Monifieth North and Newbigging was linked with Monikie in 1967, resulting in the Parish having one minister, as it had before 1789.

Reference is made to the construction of the Monikie Waterworks and Crombie Reservoir in the period between 1845 and 1867, and to the coming of the railway from Dundee to Forfar via Monikie in 1870.

The reservoirs continue to exist for fishing and other leisure activities but, since 1981, they no longer provide a public water supply.

The railway was finally closed to goods traffic in 1967, passenger services having terminated in 1955. The line has been lifted.

The two wars inevitably brought about changes in the parish. In the Great War of l9~4-1918, out of 120 men who served, 27 were killed, while in the Second World War, 12 from the parish lost their lives.

Mr. Chisholm, who was inducted to Monikie in 1961, was responsible for the Third Statistical Account for Monikie Parish of 1962, which broadly follows the scheme of the 1842 Account.

The summing-up reflects, however, the profound changes in parochial life which were evident in the 1950's, changes which continue to affect Monikie and similar parishes which once were wholly rural.

The population declined markedly from 1,460 in 1861 to 919 in 1961, but while new housing may help to restore the balance, it is probable that most of the newcomers commute to work in Dundee or Arbroath. What is crystal clear, however, is that the drift from the land, which has accelerated from 1945 onward, is now the flight from the land. For example, a fairly typical farm in the parish, Carlungie, which extended to 280 acres in 1861, was worked by a farmer and 17 men, while in 1981, the same farm, enlarged to 300 acres, needed the labour of the farmer and 2 men.

The foregoing is, necessarily, a brief conspectus of "The Monikie Story"; my advice is to read in full, for a reprint, with the addition of an index, is now available.

Mr. Chisholm, it seems to me, is justly to be considered as one of a succession of scholarly and devoted ministers of Monikie Parish; he is to be congratulated on the production of a volume which demonstrates his detailed knowledge of local history and topography, as well as his empathy with the lives and labour of successive generations of those who resided within the parish.

Return to - 'The Monikie Story' by Rev. W. Douglas Chisholm.



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This page was updated - 09 December, 2014