Thursday 13 April 2023

M is for Milnathort and the Loch Leven Area

Welcome to M is for Milnathort... and the Loch Leven area.

Why Milnathort? Why not some other small Scottish town to use for my main character’s upbringing?

It’s a simple answer, really. Some of the ideas for my Victorian Scotland WIP (work in progress) come from my own ancestry researches. My fraternal great-grandmother came from Milnathort, Kinross-Shire Scotland, according to a distant relative of mine. On the certificate for her first marriage, the event in Dundee, it states her father was a draper.



I have no birth certificate for my great-grandmother, who is thought to have been born in 1839, but what I did find during my searches in Pigot’s Directories for 1837 (Post Office directories of local tradespeople) is a reference to a J & W Laurie in Milnathort– under the section for Linen & Woollen Drapers and Haberdashers. Interestingly though, J & W Laurie are also listed as Grocers. (Perhaps a grandfather of my character, or an uncle?). My great-grandmother’s surname is Lawrie on most of her certificates that are available but I believe that a misspelling occurred at some point, or for some other reason she changed the spelling. It was fairly common at that point in time for official documentation to be recorded wrongly. The registrar, or person collecting the information, sometimes had to guess at the spelling of a surname, if the person informing didn’t know how to read, or spell, properly.

The connection in the Pigot’s directories is tenuous but I decided since I’m writing fiction that was sufficient for me to have my main character be born in Milnathort in 1839. The rest of the novel is not the history of my own ancestor (just some juicy borrowed bits!).

Regardless of any truth, I’m delighted to be finding out more about what Milnathort was like from 1839 onwards, information which I like to think I can use somewhere in my novel/s (It may well develop into a 3-book series.)


From Historical Information for 1846.

MILNATHORT, or Mills of Forth, is a village in the parish of Orwell, county of Kinross. It is one mile north of Kinross (now considered 1 and a half miles apart by Google Maps) and has a population of 1,605 inhabitants.

This considerable village is pleasantly seated in the south-eastern part of the parish, and on the high-road between Kinross and Perth. (This was the main 'post' road between Perth and St. Andrew's, with branches to Fife coastal towns like Burntisland.) Of very neat appearance, it is lighted with gas.

Its inhabitants are partly engaged in weaving for the Glasgow merchants, who have regular agents here. The chief manufacture, however, is that of tartan shawls and plaids, which has in a great measure superseded that of cotton goods wrought by the hand-loom. Spacious workshops have been erected, adapted to the use of larger looms, appropriate for employing a greater number of persons on a regular basis.

A market is held weekly, and is well attended by the agents of distilleries in distant places for the purchase of grain, this being the only grain-market in the county. An attempt was made to establish also a market for cheese, butter, and poultry, but without success. Fairs for cattle are held on the Thursday before Christmas, and the second Thursday in February; and for cattle, sheep, and horses in the beginning of May, July, and November, and the end of August.

(Please watch the videos which have important information about the area around Loch Leven and Kinross, one of which explains extremely-well the farming situation by 1846.)

Milnathort has latterly much increased in population and has now, among other institutions, a post-office. It also has a public library (supported by subscription) under the management of a proprietary of forty members, having a collection of 1500 volumes. It boasts a parochial library of about 500 volumes, in connexion with the Established Church. There are also two other libraries in connexion with dissenting congregations (Free Church and United Presbyterian Church - this information comes from 3 years after THE GREAT DISRUPTION, see A to Z post for D for the Great Disruption)

A constabulary force is maintained by assessment of the landowners, and the chief officer resides in the village.

The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. (There is no mention in the source but it’s likely that the United Presbyterian Church was also there in some form by 1846)

I’m still attempting to find out more about the woollen mills in Milnathort, and lots of other details, but it’s a lovely wee village in a very nice area. The videos added here give a really neat overview of Kinross and the Loch Leven area, so try to find time to get acquainted.

Till the next A to Z post. (YAY! I’m now officially over half the way through!)

SlĂ inte!

 A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland,,

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