Keith and Humbie

Keith and Humbie
   KEITH and HUMBIE, a parish, in the county of Haddington, eight miles (S. W. by S.) from Haddington; containing 881 inhabitants. This parish was formed, subsequently to the Reformation, by the union of the two parishes of Keith-Symmars and Keith-Hundeley. It is about six miles in length, from east to west, and five in breadth, from north to south, comprising an irregular area which, towards the south-western extremity, is intersected by part of the parish of Fala. It is bounded on the north by the parish of Pencaitland; on the east by the parishes of Bolton and Salton; on the south by the Lammermoor hills; on the west and south-west by the parishes of Crichton and Fala; and on the north-west by those of Ormiston and Cranston. The surface is greatly diversified, rising gradually from the northern part of the parish, which is 350 feet above the level of the sea, till it attains a height of 600 feet at the base of the Lammermoor hills, of which Lammerlaw, the loftiest of the range, has an elevation of 1200 feet, and others vary from 800 to 1000 feet. The lands are watered by three rivulets, which have their source in the higher grounds, and in their way through the parish, acquire a sufficient strength to give impulse to several mills. Of these streams the Keith and the Humbie unite their waters a little below the church, and, after flowing in one channel for nearly two miles, receive the waters of the burn Birnswater, which, from its rise to its junction forms the eastern boundary of the parish; they all abound with trout of good quality. The scenery is enriched with timber of mature growth, and with young and thriving plantations. Humbie wood comprises an area of 400 acres of oak, birch, beech, and firs, of which many display luxuriancy of growth, and in combination with the adjoining woods in the parish of Salton, form a conspicuous and beautiful feature in the landscape, finely contrasting with the various aspects of the Lammermoor hills, of which some are covered with barren heath and others with lively verdure.
   The soil is in some places a rich loam, in others a light sand, and in others again, clayey and mossy; the number of acres in the parish is estimated at 17,000, of which about 7000 are arable or capable of tillage. A considerable portion of the mossy bogs in the Lammermoor range has been reclaimed by open surface-draining, and converted into excellent pasturage; and from 200 to 300 more might be brought into profitable cultivation. In addition to the 400 acres forming Humbie wood, about one hundred are covered with plantations in the different demesne lands; and 2500 acres are hilly pasture and moor. The system of agriculture, which has always been good, is at present in a highly improved state; the crops are, wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, peas, and turnips. Rape-dust manure has been successfully employed in the cultivation of wheat, and bone-dust on the turnip grounds. The farm houses and offices are substantial and well arranged: the lands are inclosed partly with stone dykes, but chiefly with hedges of thorn, which have been made at considerable expense, even where the soil was not originally favourable to their growth. Great attention is paid to live stock. The sheep are generally of the Cheviot breed, or a cross between the Cheviot and the Leicestershire, with a few of the black-faced, which, however, are diminishing in number; about 3000 sheep are annually reared, and more than three hundred head of cattle are reared and fattened for the market. The rateable annual value of Keith and Humbie is £7603. Whitburgh, a handsome modern mansion; that of Johnstonburn; and Keith House, an ancient mansion, formerly the residence of the EarlsMarischal of Scotland, and the timber for the erection of which was a present from the King of Denmark, are the only houses of note in the parish. The hamlets are neatly built, and have facility of communication with the towns of Haddington and Dalkeith, which are the chief markets in this part of the country for the sale of agricultural produce. The roads throughout the parish are kept in repair by statute labour; and over each of the rivulets is a good stone bridge of one arch. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Haddington and Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale. The stipend of the incumbent is £272; the manse was erected in 1790, and enlarged in 1822, and is a comfortable residence; the glebe is valued at £10 per annum. The church, situated nearly in the centre of the parish, was built in 1800; it is a plain substantial edifice adapted to a congregation of 400 persons, and all the sittings are free. A place of worship has been erected for members of the Free Church. There are two parochial schools, the masters of which have each a salary of £30, with a house and garden, and the fees.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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