HISTORY OF NEWPORT AND THE PARISH OF FORGAN ; AND RAMBLES ROUND THE DISTRICT, by J. S. Neish, 1890
A brief summary of some important events which have transpired since the foregoing pages were written will be necessary to bring the History down to the year 1890. The year 1887, in which Her Majesty's Jubilee was celebrated, will be ever memorable in the annals of Newport. In July of that year the second Tay Bridge was opened, and the Lintrathen Water Supply, cut off by the fall of the first viaduct, was again restored to the inhabitants, and the temporary works erected at Wormit were discontinued. The re-opening of railway communication with Dundee gave a fresh impetus to building on the Fife side of the river, and the erection of villas in the neighbourhood of Wormit augur the rapid extension of Newport in that direction. During that memorable year the village was constituted into a Police burgh, by the adoption of the Lindsay Act. The names of the first Magistrates and Commissioners elected to control the affairs of the burgh are given in the introduction to the volume.
Reference has already been made to the Blyth Hall, which was built in 1876 by Mrs. Blyth-Martin as a memorial to her three brothers. In the Jubilee Year Mrs. Martin again laid the community under a deep debt of gratitude by her munificent liberality.
Originally Mrs. Martin vested a sum of £4,000 in the hands of Trustees for the erection and maintenance of a public hall for the benefit of the inhabitants. A debt, however, remained on the building, and, as a Jubilee gift, Mrs. Martin gave another sum of £1,000 to the Trustees of the Blyth Hall, which they applied to the reduction of the debt. The want of accommodation for carrying on the business of the Police Commission had been a subject of some anxiety to the Commissioners. This matter having come to the knowledge of Mrs. Martin, she generously came forward and helped them out of their difficulty. By the terms of an arrangement entered into with Mrs. Martin, the Trustees were enabled to extend and improve the Blyth Hall buildings. The edifice now contains, in addition to the large hall and a small hall, offices for the Police Commission, Parochial and School Boards, and a Public Reading Room. The completion of the buildings was inaugurated by a grand ball held on 14th October, 1890, on which occasion Mrs. Martin was presented with an illuminated address. A public dinner was also given in the Blyth Hall on the 15th, the following day, presided over by Chief Magistrate Scott. The health of Mrs. Martin was proposed by the Chief Magistrate and drunk with all the honours. Her husband, Mr. W. Y. Blyth-Martin, at his own expense erected the tall flagstaff in the Blyth Hall grounds. It is 120 feet high, and resembles the flagstaff in St. Mark's Square, Venice. The total sum gifted to the Blyth Hall by Mrs. Martin amounts to about £7,000.
Among other events may be mentioned the marriage, in 1888, of Miss Stewart, the heiress of St. Fort, to Walter Orlando Corbet, Captain Coldstream Guards, and son of Sir Vincent Corbet, of Moreton, Salop.
The Parish Church of Forgan was again, in the beginning of 1890, declared vacant by the translation of the Rev. Thomas Martin to the Parish Church of Cramond, Mid-Lothian. In October of the same year, the Rev. Thomas Munn, of Lady Glenorchy's Church, Edinburgh, was called to the charge, being the second minister since the death of the Rev. Dr. Thomson.
Mr. Harry Walker of Westwood died in March, 1889. His name will long be remembered in Newport for the interest he took in the prosperity of the place. For several years he held the office of chairman of the Parochial Board and Local Authority, and rendered valuable service in that capacity, especially in relation to the Water Supply.
We have also to record the death of Admiral Maitland-Dougal of Scotscraig, which occurred at Scotscraig on 7th March, 1890. The Admiral was one of the most popular men in the district. He took a leading part in all Christian and philanthropic movements, and he always manifested a warm interest in the welfare of the inhabitants of Tayport. His remains were interred with military honours in the New Cemetery of Tayport on Wednesday, 12th March.
With reference to Naughton House, page 241, It should have been added that the estate is now possessed by a younger branch of the Duncans of Camperdown, the Morison family having died out about forty years ago. Mrs. Morison Duncan, the present proprietor, is widely known and highly esteemed for her Christian liberality and the interest she takes in the social and educational progress of young women. She also devotes great attention to agricultural affairs, and the improvement of the estate. The Naughton herd of polled cattle is considered one of the finest of that class of stock in this district. In July, 1890, when the Highland and Agricultural Society's Show was held in Dundee, Naughton was visited by the Directors of the Association and a number of leading agriculturists, in response to Mrs. Morison Duncan's invitation, to partake of her hospitality and inspect her fine herd of cattle.
It should have been stated on page 179, when referring to Waterloo House, Tayport, that the lands were originally possessed by the Kays, a family now extinct. Miss Rattray the present owner, is the first of that name, she having succeeded through her maternal ancestors.
DISCOVERY OF AN ANCIENT BURIAL PLACE AT WESTWOOD
Mention is made in Part I, page 3, of urns having been found in the grounds of Westwood, the residence of the late Harry Walker, Esquire. An interesting description of the 'find', by the late Mr. Andrew Jervise, corresponding member of the Antiquarian Society of Scotland, was published in the Proceedings of the Society in March, 1866. Mr. J. H. Walker of Westwood has kindly supplied us with a copy of the treatise, from which we give a few extracts : -
'In the end of October, 1865, while workmen were trenching the grounds of Westwood, they came upon traces of an old burial-place in the line of the carriage-drive leading to the house, which was then being built. Fortunately (although not before some of the urns had been broken and their contents scattered) Mr. Walker's attention was called to the discovery, when he gave special orders to the workmen to take care of anything that might subsequently turn up. Mr. Jervise being in the locality at the time, he was invited to examine the place, and in company with Mr. Walker and his brother-in-law, Mr. Neish of the Laws, and Mr. Berry of Tayfield, he visited the spot, and had the satisfaction of disinterring some of the urns. After giving a detailed description of the urns, which were about 12 in number, and filled with earth and bones, he proceeds to say that the interments were evidently disposed of in a circle. The circle was 14 feet in diameter, and in the centre lay the fragment No. 1, as shewn in an engraving, surrounded by a mass of burnt ashes and charcoal. This was supposed to have been the largest of all the urns, and due north of it, also in an inverted position and embedded in charred ashes, was the next largest, No. 7. It was pretty entire ; 14.5 inches high, 9.75 inches across the mouth, and 3.75 inches at the base. The urns were found at different depths below the surface, varying from 8 to 20 inches ; and neither the form nor ornamentation of any two of them are quite alike. As already mentioned, they were unprotected by stones, and no stones of any size, slate or boulders, were to be found in the locality. With the exception of the urns Nos. 1, 3, 4, and 5, the others were placed in an inverted position, which shews that different modes of interment were adopted in one and the same circle, points that possibly indicate the deposits to have been made at various periods, if not by different classes of people. ... I am not aware (he says) of any parallel cases of the discovery of urns and bones in circles having been got in this country, if we except those sometimes found in connection with stone circles, and those at St Maden's Knowe, near Airlie. ... Like most discoveries of human remains in Scotland, those at Westwood were popularly associated with some supposed conflict or battle. It is much more probable, however, that these urns only indicate the burial place of the early inhabitants of the district, who had died peaceably in their own rude huts and been interred by the hands of relatives or friends, in the singularly careful way in which the discovery of the remains has brought to light.
'It is probable, from the many natural advantages which the site affords, that the neighbourhood had been peopled at a very remote period, and by men well skilled in the useful arts. On the west, south, and east, lay vast tracks of hill, dale, and marsh, which doubtless had been well stocked with most of the animals of the chase then known to Scotland ; while the Tay, not only favourable for the then essential purpose of fishing, also formed a short and easy means of communication between the inhabitants and the opposite shores of Perth and Angus.
'Westwood lies on the south bank of the Tay, on the lands of Seamills, or Seymills, which were anciently a portion of the estate and barony of Inverdovat. The site commands an extensive and interesting view of the counties of Perth and Forfar, and the populous city of Dundee. The ground slopes rather rapidly to the south and east, where it is bounded by a burn which runs through a pretty dell. Mr. Berry of Tayfield (the modern name of the lands of Seamills), says that about the year 1855, while workmen were holing trees near Westwood, they came on a sarcophagus or stone coffin, composed of rude, undressed flags of whinstone. It contained bones, but no urn. It also appears that about twenty years prior to that date while Mr. Berry's father was bringing a piece of ground into cultivation which occupies the heights above the steading of Northfield, about a mile east of Westwood, traces of a circular work were found called a 'Roman camp'. As such it is set down in the Ordnance Survey Map. The work was composed of earth, with a cairn of stones in the centre, in the midst of which was found a stone coffin containing a great quantity of bones. The coffin was of a large size and was made of rudely-polished yellow sandstone. One of the slabs which now stands near Tayfield House is about 6 feet long, 4 feet broad, and 6 inches thick.'
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