Abernethy, Aberargie and Dron News

Last date for submissions

31st October 2022

Date of publication

1st December 2022


As part of the research for my Master’s Degree in Scottish History, I’ve spent many hours in the Archives at Perth Library. There are lots of interesting bits and pieces about the area that I’d like to share. You might even see a relative’s name crop up! 

Coal was a valuable resource in the 18th and 19th century. Everybody wanted to find it on their land, and several attempts at coal prospecting were made in the Parish of Dron, including by the Balmain Coal Company of Perth in April 1765 who paid a smith, Peter Duncan, to make tools for the job.  James Balmain was a merchant in Perth who also dealt in timber, and salmon! but his coal company seems to have been short lived, set up only for this single, unsuccessful foray into the business. In August 1820 Robert Montrie started digging in the grounds of Balmanno in search of coal, but like previous attempts, was unsuccessful.

In the 18th and 19th Century the landowners of the parish were the ones who paid the wages of the local Ministers. In 1796 and 1808 James Richardson Hay of Aberargie Estate was summoned before the Lords of Council and Session, the most senior body of Scottish judges, for non-payment of stipend to Aberargie and Abernethy Ministers. It is likely that he was made to pay his dues, but he, or his accountants, don’t seem to have been very efficient. In 1819 he overpaid!

Common lands on the outskirts of a village were very important to residents to obtain building materials and for grazing animals. Laws passed at the end of the 17th Century allowed common land to be broken up into individual plots. This raised a lot of arguments in the village about who should get land; records show a list of 78 claimants in 1779, but this had still not been settled by 1806 when the number of claimants had apparently risen to 159!

Irene Hallyburton