In this chapter we propose to give an account, as far as the available data allow, of the Churches of the Cabrach, past and present. There are now two churches, that in the Lower Cabrach belonging to the United Free Church, and that in the Upper Cabrach to the Established Church. It is more than likely that in the course of a few years we shall see the two bodies, between which there is so little real difference, united, and another stage in Church history will be reached ; the Cabrach people will then be all of one creed, a state in which they have not been since the earliest Christian times.
The first religion of the Cabrach is lost in obscurity. It is quite certain that the Cabrach was inhabited long before the introduction of Christianity into Scotland, for there are many indications of a primitive people, and among these relics are some which seem to be connected with religious observances. In the face of the very different opinions held by scientists with respect to the meaning of circles, cup-marked stones, and other monuments of the Pictish people, it is difficult to arrive at any definite understanding of their religion, but we take it that whatever it was, the religion of the Cabrach was the same as that of the rest of Pictland. Apparently these people worshipped a god or gods who were incorporate in or represented by the powers of nature, and notably, by the heavenly bodies. Though the erroneous derivation of Beltane and kindred words, from the Baal of the Phoenicians, represented by the sun, a belief has sprung up that the ancient Picts also worshipped Baal, and an elaborate fiction has been built on this foundation. (Skene's Celtic Scotland). Probably, however, the sun was only regarded as one of the manifestations, perhaps the chief, of their god, and very many present-day superstitions are traceable to the primitive nature-worship, and especially to the adoration of the sun, or of fire.
In the Cabrach there have been found several altars, and near by them, heaps of charred grain and straw, which indicate the sacrifice of the first fruits of the field by fire. These altars were not at time of their discovery examined by experts, but if they had been so examined, no doubt something significant would have been noticed in their position. There are still to be found numbers of stone circles, which appear to have been the foundations of houses and of larger buildings, and in almost every case the entrance is placed at the S.E., suggesting that the family, on rising, might have greeted the sun and performed their morning devotions facing him. In the graves which have been found the bodied usually lie with the head towards the sun-rising, but there is woefully little besides to give a clue to the religious belief of the departed.
Pagan the Cabrach people certainly were until Christianity was brought to them, and this work is generally attributed to St Wallach. He is said to have laboured either in the fifth or the eighth century, but as he is also said to have come from Iona as a missionary, we must chose the later date, for Columba settled in Iona only in 563. He is also called the first bishop of the diocese, before its formal erection at Mortlach, but as he can hardly have had a diocese over which to be bishop, he is more likely to have held this degree, which was superior to the ordinary priests' and carried with it certain privileges and abilities, before he left Iona. He followed the practice of Columba in preaching by example, as well as by precept, and lived, in a hermit cell, a most ascetic life. He travelled up and down the country teaching the Christian doctrine and working miracles of healing, and had the satisfaction of making many converts. His name is still held in reverence at Wallakirk, and his blessing, which he conferred on the miraculous well and baths, continued to be invoked occasionally as late as 1648, when the Strathbogie Presbytery, being met at Glass, censured "all superstition at Wallakirk".
So far the written records are very meagre, and for some hundreds of years they do not shew much increase of detail, but after the erection of the see of Mortlach by Malcolm II. in 1010 we begin to find out something more definite about the Church as a whole. The bishopric of Mortlach included five churches with the dependent monastery of "Cloveth". (This Cloveth has caused us a great deal of trouble in deciding exactly the place meant by it, and we have not yet cleared up the point ; if any reader, better informed, can do so, we shall be glad to hear from him.) Cloveth must have been either Cabrach or Strathdeveron, and there are arguments in favour of both. The only reference to the monastery is the mention made of it in counting the sources of revenue of the Bishops of Aberdeen. Possibly it was not a monastery in the usual sense, but may have been a presbytery house for the accommodation of two or three priests whose duty it was to act as missionaries in the surrounding countryside. In 1266 a grant was made of the revenues of Dummeth (Wallakirk) and Cloveth, 3 marks each, for maintaining the lights of the great altar, and the ornaments in the Cathedral Church of Aberdeen. This is an argument for Cloveth being the little church in Strathdeveron, as it is close to Dummeth, and the joining of the revenues would seem natural ; but again in 1363, Alexander, Bishop of Aberdeen, "because of the smallness of the revenues" (the stipend of the vicar being 100s sterling, with the kirk land), united the parishes of Kildrummy and Cloveth, and here surely Upper Cabrach is meant, for it is the next parish to Kildrummy. In another record, mention is made of "Cloveth, otherwise Cabrach" ; still another speaks of Cloveth in Banffshire, this long before Cabrach was included in that county, and some of the old people remember the little church on Lesmurdie, near the Mill of Corinacy, being called Cloveth.
We are certain, though, that there was a church in Upper Cabrach. It was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and apparently occupied a site on the Royster near to that of the present parish church ; here again there is some doubt as to the exact place, for one map shews the church on the right bank of the river, nearly opposite to the farm-house of Auchmair, while another shews it near to the present site. The land belonging to it, in extent about a half-davach, was usually leased by the Bishop to one or more tenants, who had to undertake to defend the rights and liberties of the church, and to resist heretics and enemies of the orthodox faith. In 1520 the rent was œ10. In 1549 Robert Lumisdane was tenant on a 19 years' lease and he paid annually "£9 6s 8d, 1 mart, 12 kids, 4 geese, and 3/4 for bondages, with the accustomed service".
There were, besides the church, at least three chapels in the district, though whether they were all in use at the same time is uncertain. The oldest was situated on the left bank of the Deveron, just opposite to the present Mill of Corinacy. It has long since disappeared, but its foundations are still easily seen. It was quite a small place, 40 ft. by 17 ft. This is the chapel which may have been the Cloveth mentioned above, and if so, was built 900 years ago, for the lands of "Cloveth" were given to the church by Malcolm II. in 1010. If this is not Cloveth, then more than likely it was used as a mission chapel, with occasional services by the priest at Wallakirk and others. A burying-place adjoined it, and within living memory was used as a place of interment for infants, but now only a few irregular mounds mark the spot, and the cattle wander over it at will.
At Badchier there was another chapel, small and ramshackle,
probably used also as an occasional place of worship. The only fact
about it we have been able to discover is a story of the penance
inflicted on a certain man by the priest, the delinquent being
compelled to take the place of a door mat when the congregation was
assembling, until he was begged off by the female worshippers, who
found the penance more to their embarrassment than to his.
The most important of the three chapels was that at Shenval. This is some uncertainty about the date of the foundation of this station ; according to one writer it must have been in existence in the 16th century, for he gives an account of its demolition by the Protestants shortly after the Reformation. In the absence of direct evidence we can only conjecture, and it seems to us more likely that the chapel owed its erection rather than its destruction to that upheaval in Scottish religion. When the Cabrach Church became a Protestant Establishment, probably those who remained Catholics then erected the chapel at Shenval for their own use. If this were so, it would explain the choice of the site. The Shenval certainly seems a strange situation for a chapel, and especially for a Catholic one, as commonly the builders of such shewed their good sense by selecting the most sheltered and picturesque spot available, and as there was a priest's house attached to the chapel, which was intended to be occupied during a great part of the year, there must have been some good reason for choosing such a bleak, cold place. The reason was that its inaccessibility made for safety at a time of great unrest throughout the country, and it offered little temptation to those zealous Reformers whose chief idea was the destruction of the outward signs of the Catholic religion rather than the improvement of their own virtue.
The coldness and bleakness of the situation were well known, and the thought of living and working there did not commend itself to some Missioners, who looked upon it as a severe discipline, and deemed an appointment to the Shenval as equal to exile, nick-naming it "Siberia". Young missionaries often began their course there, and were promoted to better stations as the approved themselves, and as fresh candidates arrived from the colleges abroad. "When Mr Reid, later known as the 'Patriarch', arrived from studying at Douay, he waited on Bishop Hay to receive an appointment, and was told the Cabrach was vacant. 'Very well', said Mr Reid, 'I can have no objections, it is very proper that every one should take his turn in that place'. 'Stop', said the Bishop gravely, 'that is not a proper way of speaking of it : you should be willing, if necessary, to go and labour there for the rest of your life'. 'Of course, of course', answered the young Priest, 'but if that should happen, may the Lord have mercy on me'." (Life of Bishop Hay.)
Little is known of this chapel previous to the year 1731, and for what follows we are indebted to Dom Odo Blundell's interesting book, "The Catholic Highlands of Scotland". In that year (1731) as many as 700 Catholics were ministered to by the priest at Shenval, Mr Burnett. Several other districts were spread over these, for it is difficult to imagine 700 Catholics in the Cabrach alone. The next priest, Mr Brockie, leased a croft at the Shenval and lived there, and his example was followed by his successors until 1746 when the Duke of Cumberland's soldiers, perhaps on their visit to the Cabrach in pursuit of Lieutenant Roy, burned the chapel and priest's house. During this time we know the name of only one missioner, Alex. Menzies, who ministered to 250 Catholics in Cabrach, Auchindoun and Glenrinnes. For 34 years thereafter Mass was said in a barn, until in 1780 Abb‚ Macpherson persuaded the people to build a new chapel, and roused such enthusiasm that even the Protestants and their minister lent a hand. Mr Macpherson had under his charge, as well as Shenval, Braelach, Tullochallum, and Aberlour, and there were 127 Catholics in or near to the Cabrach. At this time Mass was at Tullochallum in a granary, and for these occasions the altar stone and other requisites were carried from Shenval. Shenval was visited by Bishop Hay in May 1787, while on one of his walking tours of visitation. He was evidently favourably impressed by the ability of the missioner, Mr Andrew Dawson, and in August of that year called him to take charge of the seminary at Scalan, sending to Shenval in his place Mr Alex. Farquharson, the former master of Scalan, who had been found incompetent to direct its affairs.
One of the priests of Shenval, Father Brockie, is buried in the Wardhouse family enclosure at Wallakirk ; his grave is covered by a flat stone, which was entirely hidden under a covering of earth, thought to have been put there purposely, to preserve the stone from fanatic Protestants, until quite lately. The inscription is as follows:-
Hic jacet R V Thomas Brockie, Presb. Tem. Scot ratis
B A L et in Parochiis Murth. Drost. Glass et Cabrach
miss. Ap an vixit LVIII F E R E et XX
summa cum laude missionem. obiit. suorum omnium
et verbis Doctor et moribus exemplar merito
que dictus pauperum pater vitam piis laboribus im
pensam pretiosa morte. Elausit maii 1110 A.D.
MDCCLIX. Sit in pace. Locus ejus et habitatis
ejus et habitatis ejus in Sion. Mimento Mori. (sic)
Not much is known of the later history of the Shenval chapel, but we can imagine the gradual dwindling of the congregation, as the older members died off and the younger left the district or joined the Reformed Faith, until only a very few were left to worship in the old place. The last priest was not a good specimen of his order, paying much more attention to worldly affairs than to the spiritual needs of his people, and at last he was compelled to leave secretly. After his departure in 1821 the chapel was allowed to fall into ruin, and at the present time nothing remains of it but the foundation, which, though covered with turf, may easily be traced out. The priest's house and some minor buildings may also be identified, while a solitary tree marks the former garden.
THE ESTABLISHED CHURCH.
The Established Church stands on a knoll on the right bank of the Deveron, a little distance above the point at which it is joined by the Rooster. The road which connects the hamlets of Aldunie and Aldivalloch with the highway to Rhynie passes under the kirkyard walls, and the manse occupies another knoll across a small ravine. Both are of the simplest architecture, but very substantial, as Cabrach buildings are ; the church was rebuilt in 1786, and we believe the manse to have been erected near the end of the 17th century.
The church, which is long and narrow, with windows on one side, is of the pattern common at the time. It accommodates about 200 people, the seats are arranged in the centre with a passage down each side, and the pulpit is "in the gale". It stands on the site of the former church, which was probably built about 1850, to accommodate the members of the Reformed Church. The Catholic edifice we believe to have stood in the angle of the road, between the present schoolhouse and the farm-house of the Kirkton. In Sir Robt. Gordon's map, dated 1654, the church is shewn on the left bank of the river, almost opposite to Auchmair, but this is no doubt an error, for, to give only one reason against it, the spot indicated is a peat bog, while the name of Kirkton is an almost infallible guide.
It is not at all certain at what time the Cabrach became Protestant. There were two important factors which prevented the spread of the Reformed faith in districts such as ours : first, their remoteness, and second, the opposition of the great landlords. In Reformation days the people were accustomed to obey their lord without question, and if he happened to change his religion, more than likely they would have to do so too. It is told of a certain laird that, having erected a building opposite to the Catholic Church, he took his stand between at service time, and shepherded the people with the aid of his cane into the new place, to worship after the Protestant fashion. On the other hand if the laird chose to resist the innovation and remain a Catholic, his tenants would have little choice but to follow, and we know what dire consequences came upon those who in certain parts of the country resisted the power of the papists and adhered to the Reformed religion and the Covenant. Happily, in our part of the country we were free from these horrors of oppression.
In these remote glens and straths Protestantism made little headway for many years, in spite of the devotion and hard work of the missionaries of the cause, who had to battle against not only rough roads and inclement weather, but also the attachment of the people to the Catholic faith, and in many cases, too, their personal affection for the priest. Indeed in many places, especially throughout the Highlands, the establishment of the Reformed Church was not an unmixed blessing, for it meant often the closing of the Catholic church without any other being provided in its place, and the taking away of even the meagre educational facilities which existed. In some of the more inaccessible glens, the Catholics held out against the new order, and they have remained Catholic to this day.
The Earl of Huntly was one of the most powerful nobles of the north, and a strong Catholic, but events occurred to bring him over to the Reformed Church. In 1597, at a meeting of the General Assembly held in Dundee, he with others of the Catholic nobles, who had been excommunicated, was formally reconciled to the Church of Scotland, and publicly declared his acceptance of its doctrines. This action, though no doubt dictated more by policy than conviction (one of the chief inducements to landowners to become Protestants was the appropriation of the Church lands to them), would have great influence with the Earl of Huntly's tenants throughout his extensive possessions, and this influence may be traced in the Cabrach in the settlement of a regular minister shortly thereafter.
The Church of Scotland was at first Presbyterian, though still retaining some of the forms of Catholic Church government, as, for instance, the Bishops who worked along with the Synod, and it also had a book of Common Prayer. With the Restoration, Episcopacy gained ground, and for many years the church wavered between the two, till in 1688 the Presbyterian finally became the Established Church of Scotland.
At first, after the Catholic religion was driven from the Cabrach, the spiritual wants of the people were cared for by "Readers", Thos. Christiesoun (1567-1580) and Jas. Warrok (1588-1599). The office of "Reader" was a common and very necessary one in the early Church ; the duties were, primarily, to read the Scriptures ; the Book of Common Prayer, the Creed and the Commandments to the people, few of whom were able to read with fluency, to keep a register of the baptisms, marriages, and burials, and, in the absence of a minister, to hold services. Certain restrictions were, however, placed upon these men, for they were not to consider themselves equal to duly licensed ministers, though many of them became so afterwards. For instance, they were not allowed to pronounce the blessing, except on a week-day, not to marry nor baptise ; their position was very much like that of the unordained assistants of the present day. Sometimes a parish might have a "Reader" only, or again one minister might have the care of several parishes, and have one or more "Readers" to assist him. As education advanced, the need for these men was not so great, and ministers increased in numbers, so that the General Assembly of 1581 abolished the office. This edict was not, however, strictly enforced, and was certainly not obeyed in the Cabrach, and "Readers" again became common during the Episcopal period of 1662-1688, gradually after that becoming fewer until they at last finally disappeared.
The records of the Cabrach Church are very meagre for some 150 years, only now and again some events of outstanding interest having found a historian. The names of the first three ministers were Peter Calmeroun, Andrew Ker, and James Ross. The last-named at first conducted service for Strathdeveron at Invercharrach, but on the union of Strathdeveron, or Lower Cabrach as it is afterwards called, with Cabrach in 1665, by the Commissioner of Teinds, he obtained the Church of Cabrach and annexation to it of the Church lands of Strathdeveron, and removed to the Upper district. He left Cabrach in 1688 for Tarland and Migvie. In that year John Irving became minister of Cabrach, being presented to the parish by the Earl of Mar. During the nine years of his incumbency he was perpetually in trouble with the Presbytery, chiefly on account of his absence from their meetings. At this time attendance was compulsory for all members of Presbytery, and they were not permitted to only to record their attendance, but had to sit throughout the meeting, however protracted or uninteresting they found it. But later on Mr Irving got into much more serious trouble, certain charges being made against him by members of his congregation, and the Presbytery sent a deputation to Cabrach to investigate and report on these. He was accused of setting fire to the corn of a widow named Jannet Roy, and also of "some endeavours to kill some persones". When the Presbyterial deputation met, there were still other charges brought against the minister. It was said that while two women were tending their lint, he came pulling at it, evidently trying to take his teind of it, and when they asked him to desist and to take his teind at the proper time and place, he still continued pulling at it, whereupon they did both "fly in his hair", and the witness, Alexander Fordyce, endeavouring to separate them, they "did flee in his hair also and trailed him the length of ten oxen by the hair, whilk Mr John Irving seeing, struck the foresaid Janet Thomsoune to the ground with ane el-vand, and brak it on her head". We are inclined to think that in this case the men had the worst of it, though the charge of assault is against the minister. He retaliated with complaints of certain of his parishioners having called him "dwarf bodie", "lyar", and other libellous names, and having struck himself and threatened to beat his servant. Affairs were thus in a lamentable state as between pastor and people, and after consideration, extending over several months, Mr Irving was suspended from the ministry, having refused to attend the meetings of Presbytery and submit himself to that court. He appealed to the Synod and Bishop, without avail ; five months after, the suspension was "reponed" and the minister again settled in his parish. However, his was apparently not the nature to settle anywhere quietly, not to submit himself to authority, and quarrels between him and the people were frequent, while at nearly every meeting of Presbytery mention is made of his absence. In 1676 he committed the grave fault of going to Edinburgh without letting the Presbytery know of his intended absence, or arranging to have his place supplied. The next April inquiry was made into several scandals at Cabrach, of which he was accused, and as the result he was deposed. His brother ministers did not, we are glad to find, cast him off altogether, for in 1687 it was recommended to them by the Lord Bishop and Synod that they should make him an allowance "in consideration of his mean and necessitous condition". The matter is again mentioned in 1688, when the allowance was fixed at "a fourteenpence from each minister at each Synod", and this is the last we hear of him.
The next minister of Cabrach was also a protégé of the Earl of Mar, by name James Irving. His chief claim to notice is in his departure. The King in 1681 passed the Test Act, designed to bring the Church completely within his power ; it required that every person who held any office, whether civil or ecclesiastical, should swear that "he acknowledged the king to be supreme in all causes, and over all persons, both civil and ecclesiastical ; that he would never consult about any matter of State without His Majesty's express license or command, and never endeavour any alteration in the government of the country". About 80 of the clergy of Scotland refused to take this oath and were accordingly deprived of their livings and among them is believed to have been the minister of Cabrach, who left the district in that year.
Mr Irving was followed by the Rev. Alex. Brown, who was the last minister in the Episcopal period. He complained that he had to live in a furnished room at some distance from the church, owing to there being no manse ; apparently the manse was built not long afterwards, for a reference is made to it in 1715. Mr Brown's successor was Mr Wm. Anderson, who came in 1707. He stayed only two years, then, having been rebuked by the Presbytery for neglect of duty, he was removed to Premnay. After a vacancy of two years, Rev. Robert Gray came in 1711. He was translated to Edzell in 1714, and the church was again vacant, this time for three years. At this time there were a great many vacancies throughout the church in the north, which the Assembly endeavoured gradually to fill up. In 1715 a Mr Garioch had been sent to Cabrach, but the congregation refused to attend his service, and he preached in the manse to only three hearers. Apparently the good people of the Cabrach enjoyed being without a minister as they seemed opposed to having one placed over them ; quite possibly, too, many of them had left home to follow the fortunes of the Old Pretender, in the rising of '15 and the stirring times of the rebellion, and the unsettled state of the country may account for their seeming indifference to religious matters. At any rate they had no minister in 1717, and when Mr Strong arrived, sent by the Assembly, they did their best to keep him out. The following account of his arrival is taken from the papers of the late Mr John Taylor, Boghead. The same story has been told of other parishes and ministers, but whether true of the Cabrach or not, it illustrates the times too well to be passed over.
"I stated that the Assembly sent down about a dozen ministers to fill up the vacancies in the north ; among that number was the Cabrach, to which Mr Strong was appointed. Mr Strong arrived on a Sabbath morning, and found the people collected in the churchyard, exercising themselves at athletic games, throwing the putting stone, with a strong guard upon the door that no strange person should enter. (It should be mentioned that the Synod had sanctioned Sunday games, to induce people to attend service.) Me Strong, wearing the habit of an ordinary traveller, mingled among the crowd. They invited him to take a throw at the stone. Being Strong by name he was also strong by nature, and pitched over them. Mr Strong then asked them did they not expect a new preacher to-day ; they said they did, but they hoped he would not come. He asked, being a stranger, for a sight of their kirk, and they granted him the request. On Mr Strong entering, he immediately mounted the pulpit, appealing to the audience : 'I have taken part in your exercises without, I trust you will take part with mine within ; I am your minister'. The greater part sat down quiet and composed, and Mr Strong laboured among them a considerable time, being a very acceptable pastor, and did much good, but at last Mr Strong committed a fault was deposed. I have been told, however, by local tradition that the attachment between Mr Strong and his parishioners was such 'that when the Presbytery met for his deposition, the inhabitants shut the church doors, the ordinance having to be performed in the churchyard".
Mr Strong's subsequent career was somewhat discreditable. He was excommunicated, and finally imprisoned for celebrating irregular marriages, and continued doing so even in gaol, where he died in 1744, at the age of 70.
Mr Strong's successor was the Rev. Theodore Gordon, who was
minister from 1731 to 1738. He was the son of the Professor of Oriental
languages in King's College, Aberdeen, and had been schoolmaster and
itinerant preacher at Cairnie. He was a scholarly man, and wrote "A
Genealogy of the name of Gordon". Although Mr Gordon did not get into
serious trouble like some of his predecessors, yet he too came into
conflict with the Presbytery, for he had to confess to them "his sorrow
at having gone to witness a rope-dancing at Old Aberdeen".
The Church thus exercised a paternal care over the morals and behaviour of her ministers, and not only of them but also of their wives and families, for the General Assembly went so far as to prescribe the kind of dress the later ought to wear, forbidding them to appear in "all yellow and such like", also "silk hats, and hats of divers bright colours, also rings, bracelets, buttons of silver, gold, and other metal".
After the Rev. Theodore Gordon left to go to Kennethmont,
others of the name of Gordon followed in succession. Thomas Gordon was
minister during the '45, when a great many of the Cabrach people
declared for Prince Charlie, and the minister left his parish for two
years on account of the unsettled conditions. He was not very happy in
Cabrach ; the people accused him of Arianism, and he found the climate
not too genial, therefore, shortly after his return, he applied to be
removed to Auldearn, on the Moray Firth. He had a lively settlement
there and must have almost wished himself back in Cabrach, for the
inhabitants had built up the church door, and assaulted the members of
the Presbytery as they arrived for the induction. In the end the
ceremony had to be performed in the manse, and the military called from
Fort-George to open the church. On this occasion a Cabrach man who had
accompanied Mr Gordon as servant distinguished himself in the
It was during the incumbency of the next minister, the Rev. James Gordon, who was here from 1749-1795, that the Secession Church-of which we shall have more to say later-was formed in the Lower Cabrach. During this long period, religious affairs seem to have moved along very quietly, and the congregation became more settled than it had been for many years past.
Rev. James Gordon's son, John, stepped into his father's place and occupied it for 21 years, being succeeded by the Rev. William Cowie in 1817. Mr Cowie had been schoolmaster at Mortlach before coming to the Cabrach, and left it in 1826 to become minister of Cairnie. Yet another James Gordon came next ; he died in 1849 and was followed by Mr Smart.
Mr Smart was a native of Cabrach, his family belonging to Badchier. He received his early education at the parish schools of Cabrach and Mortlach, for there was then no school in Lower Cabrach ; he then attended King's College, Aberdeen, to prepare himself for the ministry. It is said to be the ambition of every Scotch mother to have one of her sons "Wag his head in a pulpit", and the fulfilment of this ambition often meant not only study during the winter, but manual or other labour during the summer on the part of the student, and the most unselfish economy on the part of his family, to provide the necessary funds for college fees and city lodgings. Mr Smart was one of these poor but determined students, and cheerfully broke stones in the summer time. As he deserved, he triumphed over all the difficulties in his way, and was finally licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Alford. His first appointment was that of schoolmaster and preacher at Blairdaff, then he became assistant to the Rev. James Leith at Rothiemay. In 1849 he was presented to the parish of Cabrach by the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, his appointment being the last exercise of patronage in the parish. He was very popular, and did much for the benefit of his parishioners, specially in obtaining a school in Lower Cabrach, remembering as he did the disadvantages of his own youth. Mr Smart died, much regretted by all, in 1882, and the Rev. George Macmillan was chosen by the congregation in his place. Mr Macmillan lived a quiet and uneventful life in the Cabrach until April 1911, when he met his death under sad circumstances. He was returning from a meeting of Presbytery, and, as was his custom, performing part of the journey on foot ; when near the Castle of Craig, about 5 miles from home, he was apparently overcome by faintness and sat down to rest by the roadside, where he was discovered in the early morning, having passed away as quietly and peacefully as he had lived.
The congregation immediately set about finding a new minister, but had great difficulty in choosing one to suit all parties. On two occasions the voting was equal between the candidates, and a second leet had to be prepared and other condidates heard by the congregation ; eventually, Mr D. M`Lean, assistant to the Rev. Mr Grant of St Stephen's, Glasgow, was elected. Even then the difficulties were not over, for the day fixed for the ordination ceremony was so stormy that it was doubtful if the members of the Presbytery could reach the Cabrach. The people arrived, mostly in sledges, and after waiting two hours beyond the time for the service were rewarded by the advent of the new minister and the representatives of the Presbytery, who had driven through the snow from Alford.
"The solemn elders at the plate
Stand drinkin' deep the pride o' state:
The practised hands as gash an' great
As Lords o' Session ;
The latter named, a wee thing blate
In their expression."
Such is a brief account of the church under its successive ministers. As for the general course of events, the history of any northern parish would read very much the same as that of the Cabrach, so that the gaps are easily filled, but the kirk-session records that are still preserved cast many interesting sidelights on the manners of the time, and we may notice a few of these. It is a matter for regret that the minutes dealing with what to us would be a most interesting period, namely, the rebellions of 1715 and 1745, are missing, very possibly none were kept then, for, at any rate during the later rising, the minister was absent from the Cabrach for two years, and it would be no one's business to keep the record of events. Those we have had access to date from 1731 to 1797 and from 1824 to 1831. During these early times the kirk-session was a body of far greater importance than now, when its attention is wholly confined to matters of ecclesiastical significance. Then the session charged itself with the care of the poor, the preservation of roads and the building of bridges, besides the morals of the inhabitants and a quite extensive lending of money ; in short, the session was parish council, road board and school board, banker and conscience-keeper to the whole community. The members of it were selected for their general uprightness of character and business ability, and at first, lest they should feel unduly puffed up by the honour, they were elected for one year only. Sometimes there was difficulty in getting men willing to serve as elders, so the Assembly had power to compel them to take office if appointed.
Here follows the declaration which all elders had to sign on their appointment:-"I, undersigned, do sincerely own and declare the Confession of Faith approven by former General Assemblies of this Church, and ratified by law in the year 1690, to be the Confession of my Faith, and that I own the doctrine therein contained to be the true doctrine, which I will constantly adhere to. As likewise, that I own and acknowledge the Presbyterian Church Government of this Church now settled by law, by Kirk sessions, Presbyteries, Provincial Synods and General Assemblies, to be the Government of this Church, and that I will submit thereto, concur therewith, and never endeavour, directly or indirectly, the prejudice or subversion thereof, and that I shall observe uniformity of worship, and of the ministration of Public Ordinance within this Church, as the same are at present performed and allowed".
Here are a few of the cases which came before the session of Cabrach, shewing the direction of their activity:
In 1732 John Wright of Invercharrach and John Gordon of Newton were rebuked for fighting on the Sabbath day. It is noteworthy that the offence was not the mere fighting, but the fighting "on the Sabbath day", so we may conclude that such an affair happening on a week-day, if serious enough to come before a court at all, would be attended to by the civil court. Many of the cases before the session are those of persons committing offences on the Sabbath day, and we know that the offenders had often to satisfy both civil and ecclesiastical judges. The session of those days was pretty severe in its punishments, and relied a great deal on the shame attending a public rebuke and profession of penitence to deter others from following a bad example. In ordinary cases the usual plan was to inflict a more or less heavy fine, and in this way funds were collected for the behoof of the poor, but in what are technically called "discipline cases", the offenders had to make public repentance on a special seat in the church, often barefoot and in sackcloth, and if they belonged to another parish than that in which the offence was committed, they might have to appear in both churches. In aggravated cases, where repentance was slow in shewing itself, as many as five to ten such appearances would be exacted ; the culprits were in addition fined, and if they chose might be allowed, on payment of a heavier fine, to make repentance in their own pew in the church instead of on the special seat. After the session was convinced of their penitence, the unhappy transgressors were absolved and took their place again as respectable members of society.
Another offence which was punished was that of bringing home a millstone on the Sabbath day. At first sight this does not appear such a grievous sin, but when we think of what the bringing home of a millstone meant, it seems much more serious. Most of the millstones in Banffshire and Aberdeenshire came from a quarry at Pennan in Aberdour, and when one had to be brought home, all the tenants who shared the services of the mill turned out to help. No cart was strong enough to carry the heavy stone, so it had perforce to be trundled on its edge all the way. A wooden frame was fixed over it, to which five or six horses were attached, and on which was a sort of tiller for steering ; through the hole in the stone a long spar was thrust, projecting two or three feet on one side and fifteen on the other, the short end being used for guiding it, while the long one was held by a number of men, who by its aid kept the stone on its edge while others braked the whole thing with ropes when going downhill. Altogether it was a rather dangerous operation, as sometimes, in spite of all efforts, the stone got out of control and either overran the horses or toppled on its side, when the men at the lever would be hoisted in the air, still hanging grimly on, or knocked down. The undertaking of this job on a Sabbath probably meant an almost empty kirk, and the session reaped a harvest of fines for the good of their poor proteges.
On February 20th, 1763, there was a funeral at Mortlach, and the occasion seems to have been the excuse for a carouse on the part of the men from the Cabrach who attended it, for twenty of them, nine married men and eleven bachelors, were summoned before the session, and subjected to fines varying from 1s sterling to £2 8s Scots, for "going to the public house at Hardhaugh, Mortlach, and drinking, then calling at the Brackrie and drinking to the extent of 5 pints, and then several of the quarrelling, whereby it became late and suppertime before several of them got home".
Once or twice we have compensation given to sufferers by fire, and imbeciles or others unable to maintain themselves were usually boarded out by the session, who thus filled the part of a Board of Guardians. There are frequent references to bridge building, and sometimes the provision of a bridge tree was allowed to count instead of a fine. Of course these bridges were for the use of foot passengers only, all others having to cross by the fords, and very dangerous these were sometimes, after a heavy snowfall or in an autumn spate. The present good stone bridges did not come till later.
In the famine years of 1782-3 the session was very active in trying to buy meal to sell at a reasonable rate to those unable to pay the high prices demanded. When they could not obtain it otherwise, the minister offered to sell to them a quantity he had purchased for the use of his family, at a low price, "rather than the poor should go without". For Nov. 23rd, 1783, there is a quaint entry : "The Sheriff-substitute of Banff acquainted the session that there were 11 bolls of unused meal at 8s 6d per boll, to be sold out among the poor in Deveronside in Banffshire. The Session, finding they could not please the poor when they gave it them for nothing, agreed that the minister should intimate it to the people of the parish in Banffshire, to purchase it with their own money if they thought it a bargain".
The session had the arranging of most of the affairs of the parish in its hands, largely because of the lack of swift means of communication, so that business had to be done at home, to send for the official, or to send to him, took up far too much time.
Among the benevolent acts of this paternal body was the provision of a midwife for the parish. "September 6th, 1788. The Session, taking under their consideration the situation of the parish for want of midwives properly qualified for the office, did unanimously agree to recommend Margaret Gordon, widow in Tombain, as a woman fit to be taught that office, and to send her to Aberdeen to Dr Gordon, to be instructed in the business, as soon as he would admit her, and all necessary expenses to be paid out of the poor funds". The fees paid amounted to £27 18s.
Repairs to the church and manse had to be looked after, though the heritors were responsible for these, and in the minutes we find a long account of the distribution of seats among the tenants of the various heritors, after the rebuilding of the church in 1786, besides a notice of the church bell having been sent to Aberdeen to be recast.
Two of the chief concerns of the session were their money affairs and the relief of the poor. Again and again there were meetings devoted to the counting of funds, the collecting of bills and receiving of fines. When accounts were to be made up, they naively say, "The box being opened, there was found therein---", as if the amount were always as surprise. When they found it, whatever it was, it was often distributed among the poor parishioners and casual strangers in need of help, and sometimes lent at a good rate of interest. The amounts of the weekly collection are always entered, and they often included a number of bad coins, which were sold to merchants for half value, or exchanged by the Synod of Aberdeen. After the return of the minister, who was absent for two years during the Jacobite rising, there was a great "redding-up" of accounts.
We conclude these notes with an extract from the minutes of the meeting held by representatives of the Presbytery at Cabrach, on 29th December 1746, for this purpose:-
"Then Mr Gordon (the minister) reported that the heritors of this parish having signified their inclination to him that Alex. Donald, student in the King's College, Aberdeen, should be settled as schoolmaster at this place at the foresaid term of Whitsunday 1745, he reported the same to the Presbytery, who agreed to it, and had appointed him to undergo an examination at the foresaid visitation, which they appointed to have been at this place in the month of June 1745, but that none of the members having attended, this had been neglected. Meantime the said Alex. Donald having officiated as session clerk from the foresaid term of Whitsunday 1745, he had kept all the collections in his own hands ; the minutes and session box not having been delivered up by Wm. Robertson, late session clerk, and that the said Donald having left this parish about the beginning of Jan. 1746, without acquainting the minister or any of the elders of his intentions, had carried off an account of the collections and likeways all the money that had been collected 'twixt the foresaid term of Whitsunday 1745 and the beginning of January 1746. So that during that time there had no collections come in to the session for the behoof of the poor. And it having been likeways represented that the said Donald immediately on his leaving this place had entered into the King's service, in Lord Loudon's regiment, there was no method thought of so proper for recovering the said sum of money as to appoint some proper person to deal with the said Donald's Father, who lives in the parish of Mortlach, to prevail with him to make restitution of the said money belonging to the poor of the parish, and accordingly John Grant of Rothmais was appointed for this purpose'.
"The Committee in conjunction with the elders proceeded to consider what collections had now been given in to them, which were as follows:-
|Given in by Wm. Robertson, late session clerk||£17 4 2|
|Given in by Mr Gordon, being the collections 'twixt the beginning of Jan. and the beginning of Mar. last||1 14 0|
|Given in by Alex. Horn, present session clerk||16 0 0|
|------------||£34 18 2|
"Out of which they proceeded to make the following
|To Alex. Horn, present session clerk, as full and complete payment of his Salary till the first of March, 1747||£8 0 0|
|To Alex. Horn, Kirk Officer, as full and complete payment of what remained to be paid to him of his fee till the term of Martinmas last, 1746||1 16 0|
|Item, given to him as the price of a pair of shoes for last year, and which they appointed should be given to him yearly as part of his salary||0 15 0|
|------------||£10 11 0|
"After which they proceeded to make the following distributions to the poor of the parish". (Here follows a list of seventeen names of poor persons, one of whom received £2 and the rest £1 each, the disbursements on this occasion amounting to £28 11s 0d.
UNITED FREE CHURCH.
The United Free Church and manse occupy a commanding position on the slope of the Kelman Hill in Lower Cabrach, the road between Huntly and Dufftown passing in front. The hill gives shelter from the north wind and the garden slopes towards the sun, while there is a splendid view over hill and stream from the terrace. It would be hard to find a pleasanter spot in the Cabrach. The buildings are very plain and most substantial. The Church is of the pattern usual in country districts, with windows down one side only and a belfry above the porch ; the inside however, is more comfortable in appearance than in many similar churches, the walls being coloured a warm crimson instead of the usual white plaster. The manse is a two-storey house of the type seen in the neighbourhood, the two standing gable to gable, the space between being filled by a building of later construction, half of which is a hall used for the Sunday School, &c., while the other half is an addition to the manse.
It is about 150 years since the foundation of this
and naturally it did not belong to the U.F. body then, for, as everyone
knows, that is of very recent date. The original Church belonged to the
Secession, and the manner of its foundation makes interesting reading,
shewing as it does how great things may come from a small beginning.
This was the first Secession congregation in Banffshire, and it is somewhat remarkable that the first appearance of dissent in the county should have been in a place so remote, and at the time so inaccessible. It feel out in this way, as related by the late John Taylor, Boghead, who had the particulars from his uncle, John Taylor of the Mains:-Among the parishioners of the Rev. Jas. Gordon, who was minister in the Cabrach for the long period of 48 years (from 1747 to 1795), was Thomas Christie, a weaver at Bushroot, a place where now only a few scattered stones remain to mark his dwelling. Thomas was inclined to serious thought, and like many of his neighbours, was a great reader of the Bible, but like many others too, before these days of Higher Criticism, he was liable to interpret the Scriptures almost too literally. He had aspirations, but thought rather to attain their fulfilment by physical than by spiritual efforts, and felt a longing such as that of David when he said, "Oh, that I had wings as a dove, that I might fly away and be at rest". Possessed with this idea of flying, he one morning provided himself with two shemacks from his loom to serve as wings, and mounting to the roof of his house, summoned all his faith to his aid and flung himself into the air, confidently expecting to soar upwards and alight at the gates of paradise. Alas for the poor weaver, neither his faith not the shemacks were sufficient to sustain him, and he found a disappointing though safe landing in the midden. Discouraged, he was in danger of going to the other extreme and believing nothing, but fortunately for him, and for the Cabrach, he fell in with an earnest and godly man, who guided him to a saner view. This was Mr Joiner, a farmer from Morayshire, who in the summer of 1760 had, according to his usual custom, sent sheep and cattle to graze in the Cabrach. On one of his visits to see after their welfare, he was introduced to Thomas Christie by the farmer of the Bank. To him the weaver spoke of his disappointments and difficulties, and Mr Joiner was so interested in him that he invited him to pay a visit to the Secession church at Elgin, and hear his favourite minister, Mr Troup. Mr Troup made a great impression on Christie, who continued for some months going to hear him, travelling (or traivelling, as the Cabrach people say, meaning he went on foot) to Elgin on the Sunday for that purpose. But after a while he found the distance-it was 28 miles each way-too great to allow him to attend as often as he wished, and so removed to Elgin and formally connected himself with the Secession congregation. (We may remark parenthetically that when questioned as to the state of the crops near to Elgin, which are some weeks earlier than in the Cabrach, by his neighbours, he always refused to give any information : this visit was to church, not to report on the crops.)
However, he still hankered after the Cabrach and his friends there, and after a year's residence in Elgin returned to his native parish and took up his quarters at Belcherry. When settled there he invited Mr Troup to preach in the Cabrach. The service was held on the farm of Hillock, beside the river, near to the spot on which the first church was subsequently built. Thomas had spread the news of Mr Troup's intended visit, and so great was the desire to hear him that the people poured in from far and near. It is said that 17 different parishes were represented, and than no fewer than 7 neighbouring parish churches had to be closed that day, the congregations having departed en masse to the Cabrach. The text from which Mr Troup preached was Isaiah xxxviii., 14, "Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter", and he seems to have delivered a very able sermon, the first preached in Banffshire by a dissenting minister. Open-air meetings, addressed by Mr Troup, were held on his frequent visits to the Cabrach, attended by large numbers of people, and ultimately a preaching-station was established.
In 1768 Mr Cowie was ordained over the congregations of Cabrach, Grange, Auchindoir, and Huntly, and preached to them in turn for four years. In 1772 the first church was built on a site between the farms of Hillock and Oldtown, near the place of Mr Troup's famous open-air sermon. It was a thatched building and cost only œ22 10s, but it served well for twenty-five years. From 1772 till 1780 there was no settled minister, but only occasional preachers, among whom was Mr Brown of Craigdam. In 1780 the Cabrach Secession Church got its first minister, when the Rev. Jas. Wylie was ordained, but his ministry was of very short duration, for he was deposed, we know not for what fault, after only a year in the Cabrach. The same year (1781) the manse was burned down, so that when the congregation called Mr Robert Laing, a probationer, he felt himself justified in refusing on the score of there being no suitable house for him.
The second minister, Mr Waddell, who came in 1786, was shared by the congregations of Mortlach and Auchindoir, and remained for nearly fifteen years. During his time several matters of importance happened in the history of the church ; one of these was that as the attendance at the services was rapidly increasing, it was decided to build a new church, which was done in 1797 at a cost of about œ60. In view of this fact, it is an amusing commentary on the feeling towards the Secession by those of the "Auld Kirk" to read what Mr Gordon, the parish minister, had to say about it in the paper he contributed to the "New Statistical Account of Scotland", published in 1793. Mr Gordon writes-"Besides the Established Church there are two chapels, one for Papists, who are not half the number that they were thirty years ago, and one for Seceders, who are much on the decline. One great reason for the decline of both sects is the moderation with which they are treated all over this country".
In the course of our researches, we have found a note of the amounts paid to the different tradesmen employed in building the church, and learn from it that the new church had a slated roof, and that its dimensions were:-Length within walls, 42 ft. ; breadth, 20 ft. ; height, 9 ft.
|To James M`Kay and John Craib, Masons||£19 12 0|
|A. Lawrence, Slater||10 12 0|
|Lime for building||6 16 7|
|Alexr. Milne, for wright work, &c.||6 18 1|
|For roofing wood at Balvenie||3 15 8|
|Peter Green, for carting deals (@ 6/6 per day)||5 10 0|
|Additional sarking, deals, &c.||2 1 0|
|Nails and carriage, for sclates and roof||1 17 4|
|Extra expense at the settling, workmen, &c.||1 0 0|
|Free stone for rigging, from Auchindoir||1 5 0|
|Alexr. Laing, Wright, for setting up pulpit, &c.||1 17 4|
|£61 5 0|
About this time the brothers Haldane, known as the pioneers of the Independent or Congregational Church in Scotland, appeared in the north, and arranged to hold a service at Soccoth of Glass. Natural curiosity led a number of Mr Waddell's people to hear them, including several office-bearers. Sectarian controversy ran pretty high at the time, and Mr Waddell, along with some of the members, wished to compel those who were so tainted with a wandering spirit as to countenance lay preaching, to confess their fault before the congregation ; this they refused to do, and a great deal of squabbling took place, which so marred the harmony of the congregation that Mr Waddell determined to leave. Next year he laid his cause before the Synod, and on the second Sabbath of May was able to intimate to his hearers that he had been released from his charge. On the first Sabbath of September the church was preached vacant, and on the next Mr Waddell bade farewell to the Cabrach. This was the last minister of that congregation, as after his departure it was split in two, the one half adhering to the Secession principles, the other to the Congregational.
One of those who had gone to Glass to hear the Haldanes was John Taylor, Mains of Lesmurdie. He was attracted by what he heard there, and after further inquiry into their principles and doctrine, adopted these for his own. At his death he left a sum of money in trust, the income from which was to be devoted to providing two sermons yearly, in the Lower Cabrach, one to the old and one to the young, to be preached by an Independent minister ; the minister chosen was also to hold as many more services as the funds would permit, and to distribute a quantity of religious literature. One of the most frequent visitors to the Cabrach in this capacity was the Rev. John Murker, well known in the north as the Congregational minister of Banff. He first came in 1850, and continued his visits nearly every year until 1880. He was very popular in the Cabrach, and was very fond of staying there, usually spending a month, and amusing himself with fishing. He is still remembered with affection by the older generation in the Cabrach, and stories are told of his prowess in the gentle art, and of his encounters with herd-laddies and "auld wives". On one occasion, he, while fishing for trout, caught that bane of anglers, an eel. After trying in vain to disentangle the wriggling body from his tackle, he said, sadly looking at the mess, "Well, I've often heard Satan likened to a serpent, but if anyone wants to know just how wily and agile he can be, let him catch an eel". Now that Mr Murker's visits to the Cabrach have ceased, different Congregational ministers continue to be invited to officiate under the terms of the trust, and are given the use of the U.F. Church.
During the long period of sixty years, the Cabrach was without
minister of its own, and received only occasional visits from Secession
and Independent ministers in turn, and for two years, 1827-1829, even
the original Seceders occasionally sent a preacher. One Sunday three
ministers turned up, one from each body, all prepared to conduct
services in the church at Oldtown. One of them managed to gain
possession of the building, and the others had to hold their services,
one at Milltown of Lesmurdie and the other at Mains of Lesmurdie. In
this unsatisfactory way the Church dragged on till, in 1836, the visit
of Mr James Morison revived an interest among the people. He preached
to large congregations, and at one of his services £4 was
collected for missions, "a collection larger by half than any made in
before". Some years later the pulpit was being supplied more regularly
and the Cabrach had a share in the M`Phail bequest, a legacy of
the interest of which was devoted to evangelistic work in Banffshire.
In 1847 the United Presbyterian Church had been formed by the union of
the Secession and Relief Churches, and when, in 1852, a U.P. Presbytery
was established at Banff, the church at Cabrach claimed its attention.
In 1853 the communion was dispensed at Oldtown after an interval of two
generations, but for the next twenty years little progress was made.
By the year 1874 the different sections of the congregation were once more united, and all joined in trying to get a church built. For some time before several of the members, notably Mr Wm. Cran, Mains ; Mr Robertson, Tomnaven ; Mr Gordon, Bank, and Mr Jas. Taylor, Milltown, had been making efforts to have a minister settled in the Cabrach, and as one of the first requirements was a suitable house for him to occupy, they turned their attention first of all to building. Capt. Stewart of Lesmurdie proved a great friend, and granted the site described above. The help of the Church Committee for Manse Building was obtained, and various sums contributed in the district, and also by friends outside. When the manse was finished, the Cabrach people bethought themselves to take advantage of the interest they had awakened, and proceeded to collect money to build a church too. In this they were helped by the Synod, who gave a subsidy of œ100 on condition that the building should be free of debt before a minister was inducted. Mr Rattray, a native of Cabrach, who was at this time a teacher in Glasgow, collected £115 in that city, and the cellection on the opening day amounted to £76 7s 4d, a record for the Cabrach. Capt. Stewart gave the bell, which was sent to him at Elgin, where he was lying ill, that he might hear its tones. He died before the church was opened, and a marble tablet was erected in it to his memory by his relatives.
The church and manse together cost between £1100 and £1200, and the former was opened in June 1875 by Dr Scott of Glasgow. On the Monday following a soiree was held, at which Mr Macfarlane, Keith, presided. Mr Simmers, Portsoy, had all along taken a deep interest in the congregation, and he was present and addressed the meeting. Mr Macfarlane, who was ordained at Keith in Oct. 1874, had been appointed Moderator of the Session, as being the nearest U.P. minister, and from that time to the present day has performed numberless acts of kindness and helpfulness both to the congregation and their ministers. Among the speakers at the soirée were also Mr Riach, Cabrach, and Dr Scott. Mr Simmers gave a brief account of the history of the congregation from the time of Thomas Christie, and Dr Scott described the events which had led up their presence in the church that day.
The next thing was to choose a minister. The people undertook to contribute £60 towards his stipend, which was augmented from the Church funds to £150. In Dec. 1875 Rev. Alex. Withers, formerly of Westray, was called, and remained for 17 years. During the first years of his ministry the congregation increased in prosperity, and the U.P. Church, after all the vicissitudes through which it had passed since the days of Thomas Christie, became firmly established as a part of the life of the Cabrach. The membership at the end of 1876 was 40, and the stipend £190. In 1893, as Mr Withers' health was on the decline, he resigned his charge and became chaplain to the Fever Hospital of Edinburgh. His successor was the Rev. George Tulloch, from Moyness, who was ordained at Cabrach 11 Dec. 1894. In 1900 the U.P. Church joined with the Free Church, and the Cabrach congregation then agreed to style themselves the "U.F. Church of Cabrach". Mr Tulloch resigned in 1907, and the church was vacant for a year. During this time the General Interests Committee of the Church had under consideration the project of making the congregation a preaching station, with an "ordained preacher" in charge, for a term of years, as the Cabrach congregation came under the rule of the U.F. Church that congregations contributing less than £80 to the Central Fund should not have the status of an independent congregation, nor the ministers of such churches a seat in the Presbytery, but should be under moderatorship of a neighbouring minister. But the Cabrach people, having had so many ups and downs, were not at all pleased at the prospect of being degraded to such a position, and protested against this idea. They agreed to raise their contributions from £40 to £50, and after strenuous efforts on their behalf on the part of members of Presbytery and others interested in the case, the G. I. Committee made an exception to their rule, and the Rev. T. Anderson, Edinburgh, was inducted in March 1908. Before Mr Anderson settled in the Cabrach he had been working for it, and had already collected from friends in the south a sufficient sum to erect the new building between church and manse, already referred to. The members of the congregation gave their services in carting material, and the children collected money to pay for chairs in the hall. The building was opened in November 1908, and has proved very useful as a comfortable, well-lighted place for evening services and classes, and meetings of all kinds.
We have now come down to the present day, which finds the Cabrach well provided in the matter of religious facilities ; but it is the same here as elsewhere, things easily obtained are not so much appreciated, and many more might take advantage of these facilities. We should like to know what young man in Cabrach would walk, or even cycle, twenty-eight miles to hear a sermon.