In transcribing the following paragraphs from the Internet Archive online version, I have expanded the abbreviations for easier reading and added paragraphing and subtitles. The illustration is in the original. — George P. Landow]

ABERDEEN (NEW), a royal burgh and seaport [in] Scotland, in the county of Aberdeen[shire], of which it is the capitol, situated mostly on rising ground at the mouth of the river Dee, on its North bank; 94 miles direct distance Northeast of Edinburgh, and 130 miles by rail; latitude 57 8 54" North; longitude. 2 5 7" West (K.) It is large and handsome, the streets are in general spacious, and the houses mostly built of fine granite from quarries in the neighbourhood. The principal street in the city is Union Street, in the line of which a splendid granite bridge, of one arch, 132 feet span, and 56 feet from the base of the piers to the top of the parapet is thrown over the ravine of the Denburn a small rivulet which intersects the city, and falls into the harbour.

A jointstock company have recently opened up a new street from the harbour to the centre of the town, and erected a great central public market on the west side of the new street, at a cost of nearly £40,000. Among the principal public buildings may be mentioned the county rooms, founded in 1820; the surgeons hall; advocates hall; Marischal College; the trades hall; the barracks, erected on the Castle-hill; a military hospital on the Heading-hill, the ancient place of execution, now connected with the Castle-hill by an elegant cast-iron bridge; the Bridewell, on the west side of the town, and the old cross, in the centre of Castle Street, a fine specimen of the ornamental architecture of the 17th century. It is of a hexagonal form, and is adorned with a series, of well executed quarter-length effigies of Scotch and British sovereigns, from James I. to James VII.

The Market-Cross, Aberdeen. From an Old Drawing. Click on image to enlarge it.

It was erected in 1686, on the site of an older cross, which was then demolished In 1839, the present structure was removed to the spot it now occupies, a distance of about 100 yards from its former position.

Religious and Charitable Institutions

The ecclesiastical establishments of the city, at the time of the Reformation, consisted of one parish, containing three churches; but in the course of the last century, the seafaring population had a church erected at Foot-Dee, and subsequently, down till 1834, when presbyteries were empowered by the General Assembly to assign districts to chapels of ease, quoad sacra, the number of churches in connection with the Establishment was 14. Since the Disruption, 14 Free churches have been erected, and altogether there are now 45 churches in the city of Aberdeen, viz., 9 Established; 15 Free churches; 5 United Presbyterian; 4 Congregational; 3 Baptist; 2 Scottish Episcopal; 1 Church of England; 1 Unitarian; 1 Wesleyan; 1 Roman catholic; 3 Various.

The charitable and benevolent institutions are numerous. The principal establishment of this class is Gordon’s Hospital, which is similar to George Heriot’s Hospital in , and maintains and educates 150 boys. This hospital was endowed by a citizen who acquired a large fortune in Danzig, and left the property under deed of mortification, dated Dec. 13, 1729, in charge of the magistrates, for the education of the sons of decayed burgesses, and relatives of the name of Gordon and Menzies. In 1816, another benevolent gentleman left considerable property for the education of boys, under similar conditions, and which was conjoined with Gordon’s Hospital; and by the economical investment of the whole funds, after defraying the cost of the building, the trustees are enabled to command an annual revenue of £3000. Among the other charitable institutions of the city, we may enumerate a house of refuge, founded and endowed by Mr. James Watt, surgeon; four industrial schools; the deaf and dumb institution; an orphan girls school, and an asylum for the blind.

The most valuable of the benevolent institutions of the city is the royal infirmary, which was established by the magistrates in 1739; and which, by numerous bequests and liberal subscriptions, has become so extended as to afford ac commodation for the treatment of 300 poor patients, and at the same time constitutes a valuable adjunct to the Aberdeen medical school. Under the same management as the infirmary, the constituency of which are the subscribers above 5, there id a lunatic asylum, which was chiefly built by a legacy of £10,000, left by Mr. John Forbes, of Newe. The average number of patients is 200.

Educational Institutions

New Aberdeen is the seat of a college, called Marischal College, founded and endowed by George, Earl Marischal, in 1593. The original building having been found incommodious, a new structure was erected some years since at a cost of £22,000, when several new chairs were erected and endowed. The aflairs and discipline of this college are managed by the Benatus Academicus, which consists of the chancellor, the rector, the dean of faculty, the principal, and 10 professors. There are 114 bursaries connected with this college and uni versity, of the annual value of £1150, 70 of which are open to competition. The average number of students for the last 20 years has been: in arts, 190; in divinity, 120; in law, 35; in medicine, 84. The session commences in the beginning of November, and close the 1st of April. It was usual at this university, as at most others in Scotland a short time ago, to receive students who were grounded only in Latin; but in 1847, the Senatus Academicus resolved to receive no entrants who had not also been previously grounded in Arithmetic and the Elements of Greek.

Besides the public schools, which are under the charge of the magistrates, and to which the children of pauper poor may be admitted free of charge, there are five endowed schools, 36 sessional and voluntary schools, and free schools of industry. From statistical returns recently obtained by an educational society, it appears that there were about 6000 children at school within the city when the parliamentary census was taken in 1841, which is equal to nearly one-twelfthpart of the population.

Industry and Commerce

The manufactures of Aberdeen date from a very early period of history. So early as the year 1200, it exported to the Netherlands woolfels; and in the loth century, there were exports of plaiden, digrams, stuffs, serges, and stockings; in return for which the burgesses received wine, brandy, sugar, tobacco, soap, and iron, grain, flax, and fruit. Stocking weaving was the staple manufacture of the city for many years. In 1749, a manufactory for preparing linen thread was established, and afterwards two flaxmills were estab lished; then followed the establishment of four cotton manu factories, all of which continue in operation. The flaxmills employ between 2000 and 3000 hands, the cotton works about 1500, and the woollen manufactures 2000 hands; at wages varying from 2s. 6d. to 8s. for females, and from 7s. 6d. to 21s. a week for males.

Besides these, there are three manufactories for combs, one of them the largest of the kind in the kingdom. Granite was first polished in this city; and now there is a very large estab lishment for preparing that stone for all sorts of useful and ornamental work. Paper making is carried on to a consider able extent in the neighbourhood, and there are several manufactories for locomotive engines in the city. There is also a good deal of ship building.

Aberdeen Harbour

The harbour of Aberdeen is spacious, and is rendered safe by a pier of granite on the North side of the Dee, which extends into the German ocean. The harbour and docks, the latter enclosing a surface of 36 acres, are the property of the corporation of Aberdeen, and the business is virtually managed by a committee annually elected by a general com mission. The ordinary revenue is about £20,000, and tin expenditure between £17,000 and £18,000. The foreign commerce is chiefly with North America, the East Indies, West Indies, the Mediterranean, and the Baltic. The principal imports are wheat, flour, coals, salt, flax, lime, and cotton, Exports linen, cotton, and woollen goods; oats, barley, am bere; cattle, sheep, pigs, butter, eggs, pork, salmon, am granite; of which last 40,000 worth is sent annually to London. There were 12 ships formerly employed in the whale fishing, but they are now reduced to two or three. The shipping trade of the port has greatly increased of late ears. In 1849, the number of sailing vessels belonging to Aberdeen, under and above 50 tons, was 340; tonn 65,559: while, in 1835, the number was only 173; tonn. 26,063. The gross receipt of customs in the year 1845, was 76,259, 2s. Wd. The total number and tonnage of vessels inwards, or the same year, was 2219; tonn. 277,912. Outwards, 1522; onn. 214,756. There is a regular communication by steam jetween Aberdeen and London, Leith, Inverness, Cromarty, Caithness, Orkney, and Shetland. The vessels employed on hese stations are all of the finest description, and are the property of joint stock companies in the city. On Girdle Ness point, a little South of the entrance into the harbour, there lighthouse, first used in 1833. It is a double light, exhibiting two fixed lights, one over the other, and may be seen at the distance of 13 to 16 miles; latitude 57 8 North; longitude 2 3 W. There are also coloured leading lights for the harbour. A bar runs across the mouth of the harbour, on which here are 12 feet neaps, and 16 feet spring tides.

The mercantile institutions of Aberdeen comprise a guildry; two native banks, viz., the Town and County Banking Company, and the North of Scotland Banking Company; and six branch banks, viz., a branch of the Union Bank of Scotland, he National Bank of Scotland, the Bank of Scotland, the Commercial Bank of Scotland, the British Linen Company’s Bank, and the City of Glasgow Banking Company. There is also a National Savings Bank, and two native Insurance Companies. The guildry, which was at one time the great commercial league of the city, being now stripped of its exclusive privileges, exists only as a charitable or benevolent institution. There are seven incorporate trades, possessed of property to a great extent; and it is worthy of remark that the trades and the city treasury are the principal feuholders [sic] of Aberdeen.

City Government

The municipal affairs of the town are conducted by a provost, four bailies, a dean of guild, and 12 councillors. The thatching, cleaning, and lighting are under the control of a board of commissioners, of which the provost, the dean of guild, the city treasurer, and the convener of the trades, are ex officio members, other 18 commissioners being chosen by rate-payers, paying 5 of yearly rent.

The History of Aberdeen

Aberdeen was originally called Devanha; but during the Scoto-Saxon period it became known by the name of Aberdeen or Aberdon, and in subsequent ages by Aberdene or Aberdeen. The etymology of this designation is generally allowed to be Celtic, and from some manuscripts published by the Spalding Club, it would appear that for the first 12 centuries the Celtic was the only language spoken and written in this city, and the north of Scotland.

During the reign of David I., and probably about the year 1130, Aberdeen was constituted a royal burgh, and the inhabitants burgenses regis, as holding their Burgagium immediately of the crown. In 1440, the city was ranked under the Laws of Burrows, and provision made that the provost, baillies, and council shall be chosen annually by the com mon suffrages of all the honest men of the burgh. About the year 1179, William the Lion confirmed the privileges and immunities enjoyed in the name of his grandfather, and erected the city into a corporation by royal charter, which appears to have been the first instrument of the kind executed in Scotland. Thus enfranchised, the magistrates became entitled to send representatives to the national parliament, or Scottish Estates. In 1196, additional privileges were conferred on the city. In 1222-23, Alexander II. permitted the holding of a weekly market, and authorized the institution of a merchant guild, or Mercantile confraternity. In 1342, David II. summoned a general council to meet in the city, at which former charters were enlarged; local improvements superinduced, the streets paved, and many of the houses, formerly built of wood, rebuilt of stone. From these circumstances, the town thenceforward became distinguished by the name of New Aberdeen. The last charter granted to the city was by Charles I., and is dated Oatlands, Sept. 9, 1638. By the act of Union, Aberdeen became entitled to send a representative to the parliament of the United Kingdom, conjunctly with Arbroath, Montrose, Brechin, and Bervie; but by the Reform Bill of 1832, it was again erected into an independent constituency, which includes both New and Old Aberdeen.

Among the eminent men connected with Aberdeen were John Barbour, the poet, George Jamieson, the painter, James Gregory inventor of the reflecting telescope, Dr. Beattie, author of ‘The Minstrel,’ and the late eminent physician, Dr. Abercrombie of Edinburgh; all of whom, with exception of Dr. Beattie, were natives of the town, or of its immediate vicinity.

According to the census of 1841, the population of Aberdeen, including the parishes of St. Nicholas and Old Machar, was 66,778; population within the parliamentary boundary, 63,288. Increase on the whole since 1831, 8759; apparent increase within parliamentary boundary, 5269. Parliamentary constituency for 1848-49, 2832. [I, 9-11]


Blackie, Walker Graham. The Imperial Gazetteer: A General Dictionary of Geography, Physical, Political, Statistical and Descriptive. 4 vols. London: Blackie & Son, 1856. Internet Archive online version of a copy in the University of California Library. Web. 7 November 2018.

Last modified 7 November 2018