The People of Buchan, 1600-1799


Author: Dobson, David
Publication Date: 2018
Pages: vi + 110 pp.
ISBN: 9780806358734


The district of Buchan lies in Aberdeenshire on the northeast coast of Scotland. The people of Buchan found in this book lived in Fraserburgh and Peterhead, and the surrounding parishes of Cruden, Longside, Lonmay, St. Fergus, Crimond, Strichen, Tyrie, Pitsligo, Deer, and Aberdour during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The economy of Buchan then was largely based on agriculture, fishing, and–to a lesser extent–whaling. Fraserburgh and Peterhead were port and market towns with trading links to Scandinavia, the Baltic countries, and the Netherlands, with the occasional voyage to the Americas. Nearby Aberdeen dominated the local voyages to America and the West Indies. The earliest Buchan ship bound for America was the Star of Peterhead in 1668.

The major families in Buchan were Keith, Forbes, Gordon, Ogilvie, Fraser, Gordon, Hay, and Leslie. Emigration occurred from Buchan to various destinations in northern Europe, especially in the seventeenth century, and to the Americas in the eighteenth century. Probably the most prominent of those who went to northern Europe was James Keith from Peterhead, who became a field marshal in the service of King Frederick the Great of Prussia, while Buchan inhabitant Hugh Mercer, son of the minister of Pitsligo, became a hero of the American Revolution.

This book is based on research into manuscripts and published sources mainly located in Aberdeen and Edinburgh, including the Aberdeen City Archives, the 1667 Valuation Roll of Aberdeenshire, and The Peterhead Whaling Trade. For each person named herein, Dobson provides an occupation, specific location, a date, and the source. In many cases we also learn the name(s) of a spouse, parent, or other relative; something about an individual’s education; vessel traveled on; destination in the New World, etc.

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