|THE EDITOR'S PREFACE||ix|
|MAP OF THE SHIRES OF ABERDEEN,
BANFF, AND THE MEARNS,
BY ROBERT GORDON OF STRALOCH. (M DC LIV.)
|I. PRAEFECTURARUM ABERDONENSIS
ET BANFIENSIS IN SCOTIA
ULTRA-MONTANA NOVA DESCRIPTO, AUCTORE ROBERTO GORDONIO. (M DC LI.-M DC LX.)
|II. DESCRIPTION OF
ABERDEENSHIRE, BY SIR SAMUEL FORBES
OF FOVERAN (M DCC XVI.-M DCC XVII.)
|III. A VIEW OF THE DIOCESE OF ABERDEEN. (M DCC XXXII.)||67|
The VIEW OF THE DIOCESE OF ABERDEEN, which takes the last
in the volume, is printed from a manuscript in the Library of the
Faculty of Advocates at Edinburgh.²
This is the only copy of the work
now known to exist, although another was extant about the middle of the
last century, among the manuscripts in the library of the Earl of
Errol, at Slaines Castle, and although traces of other transcripts have
been found, much more recently, in different quarters of the diocese.
Of the writer nothing is known beyond what may be conjectured, as to his name, from a note on one of the boards of the volume: "Al: Keith fint haec MSS. Novr. 25. 1732" ; and beyond what may be gathered, as to his calling, from the work itself. A perusal of its pages will leave no room for doubt that its author was a zealous presbyter of the Episcopal Church of Scotland ; and the persecutions which afflicted that communion, in his day, and during many following years, as they may help to explain more than an occasional acerbity of expression, or peculiarity of phrase, into which he has been betrayed, so, perhaps, they may sufficiently account for the complete oblivion which has fallen upon the learned and industrious compiler.
His work obviously has never been completed : it often presents, indeed, in the shape in which we find it, less of the appearance of a continuous narrative than of a series of tables of rough and disjointed notes, so that, in order to exhibit its text in a manner that might be generally intelligible, there has been found frequent necessity, while scrupulously preserving the substance, to use a little freedom with the form and arrangement of the manuscript.
The writer seems not only to have been diligent and painstaking in his enquiries after such information as was to be looked for on the spot, but to have possessed no mean knowledge of Scotish antiquities in general, according to the defective measure of his time ; and his work, on the whole, must be admitted to be a creditable performance, if but due allowance be made for the unfinished state in which it was left, and if we duly bear in mind that the author's object was to
¹. In the MS. in the
British Museum, the "Description of
is immediately followed by the "Description of the Parish of Foveran",
which appears at pp. 367-371 of this volume.
². MSS. Bibl. Adv. 31. 2. 12. (Jac. V. 6. 24.)
exhibit not so much the civil as the ecclesiastical history and condition of the province.
It appeared to the Editor, from the manifest imperfections and somewhat loose arrangement of the VIEW OF THE DIOCESE OF ABERDEEN, that he might venture freely to introduce, in appropriate places throughout its text, such illustrative documents as he has been able to collect from other sources. These pieces justificatives, (together with the annotations by which he fears he may have too frequently cumbered the volume,) he has been careful to distinguish from the work which they are designed to illustrate, by printing them within brackets, and in a smaller type, subjoining such brief notes as will, it is believed, in every instance, serve sufficiently to indicate their nature, as well as the places where they are deposited. One large class of them, it will be seen, has been derived from the charter rooms of noble or ancient families within the limits of the two families. The "Topographical Collections" of the indefatigable laird of Macfarlane, preserved in the Library of the Faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh, have supplied a second class ; and a third has been furnished from the same library, by the collections of charters made by Sir James Balfour and the first Earl of Hadington, and by the registers of the great Benedictine monasteries of Saint Mary, at Kelso, and of Saint Thomas the Martyr, at Arbroath.
It has been deemed allowable, in most instances, so far to abbreviate the charters, and other deeds of record, to which insertion has been given, as to omit from them words or clauses of merely common form, or technical import. This is a liberty which the Editor trusts will scarcely require an apology : he fears that the fragmentary aspect which his method of abbreviation has imposed on so many of the documents, will be less readily forgiven. The plan which has been followed was not, however, adopted without due consideration : its advantages, on the whole, appeared to outweigh its obvious defects, and it was, besides, recommended by ancient precedent, as in the instance of the earlier rolls of the Register of the Great Seal of Scotland.
In printing a volume of such extent, and so abundant in names of places and persons, many faults, doubtless, will be found. Against some such errors, perhaps, no care or skill on the part of an Editor could wholly provide ; and, probably, they who have most reason to know the difficulties which beset a work like this, will not be the least ready to excuse the imperfections which may be discovered in its execution.
XXII. November, M.DCCC.XLIII.