1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Forfar

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FORFAR, a royal, municipal and police burgh, and capital of the county of Forfarshire, Scotland. Pop. (1901) 12,117. It lies at the east end of the Loch of Forfar in the valley of Strathmore, and is 13 m. N. by E. of Dundee by road and 211/4 m. by the Caledonian railway. It is also situated on the same company’s main line to Aberdeen and sends off a branch to Brechin. The principal buildings comprise the court house, the county hall (with portraits by Raeburn, Romney, Opie and others), the town hall, the Meffan Institute (including the free library), the infirmary, poorhouse and the Reid hall, founded by Peter Reid, a merchant in the burgh who also gave the public park. The burgh unites with Montrose, Arbroath, Brechin and Inverbervie (the Montrose group of burghs) in returning one member to parliament. The Loch of Forfar, 11/4 m. long by 1/4 m. wide, is drained by Dean Burn, and contains pike and perch. On a gravel bank or spit in the north-west of the lake stood a castle which was sometimes used as a residence by Margaret, queen of Malcolm Canmore. The staple industries are linen and jute manufactures, but brewing, tanning, bleaching, rope-making and iron-founding are also carried on.

Forfar is at least as old as the time of Malcolm Canmore, for the first parliament after the defeat of Macbeth met in the old castle, which stood on a mound on the northern side of the town. The parliaments of William the Lion, Alexander II. and Robert II. also assembled within its walls. The town, which was created a royal burgh by David I., was burnt down about the middle of the 13th century. Edward I. captured the castle on one of his incursions, but in 1307 Robert Bruce seized it, put its defenders to the sword and then destroyed it, its site being now marked by the town cross. Previous to the reign of James VI. the weekly market was held on Sunday, but after the union of the crowns parliament enacted that it should be held on Friday. The town sided with Charles I. during the Civil War, and Charles II. presented the Cross to it out of regard for the loyalty shown to his father. Forfar seems to have played a less reputable part in the persecution of witches. In 1661 a crown commission was issued for the trial of certain miserable creatures, some of whom were condemned to be burnt. In the same year one John Ford for his services as a witch-finder was admitted a burgess along with Lord Kinghorne. The witches’ bridle, a gag to prevent them from speaking whilst being led to execution, is still preserved in the county hall. One mile to the E. lie the ruins of Restennet Priory, where a son of Robert Bruce was buried. For twenty five years after the Reformation it was used as the parish church and afterwards by the Episcopalians, until they obtained a chapel of their own in 1822.