1751 - Complaint

Complaint against the fishermen of Johnshaven, regarding inventory of boats at Johnshaven.

During the 1720s Johnshaven was the fifth largest fishing harbour in Scotland with around 26 boats. As the century progressed, however, numbers fell. In 1743 2 boats were lost and steadily more men were taken by press gangs to serve in the Royal Navy.

This letter dated 21 May, relates to an inventory of the boats in Johnshaven. The ground officer of the estate was requested to check the names of the skippers, the number and names of the men and boys belonging to each crew, and the present condition of the boats.

As proprietors of the estate of Ballandro, including the fishing lands of Johnshaven, it was the responsibility of the Kirk and Bridge Works, Aberdeen to monitor, and where necessary carry out any improvements required on houses and boats. Occasionally the fishermen would fail to cooperate and could be punished.

64 Complaint

Complaint by the Master of the Kirk and Bridgeworks, Aberdeen. 21 May 1751.

In the second part of this letter it is stated that the fishermen of Johnshaven had refused to comply with the request for an inventory of their boats. A warrant was granted, in order to stop the boats leaving the harbour. If the fishermen attempted to remove their boats they would be apprehended and punished.


Complaint 21 May 1751. In the presence of James Keith, Sheriff of Kincardine

James Mesline, Master of the Kirk and Bridgeworks of Aberdeen, complained upon the Skippers and Fishers in the town of Johnshaven, that had caused his Ground Officer frequently this afternoon to warn them to attend at the house of David Beatty in Johnshaven in order to be examined as to the Skippers names, the number of names of the Men and Boys belonging to each crew and the present condition of the respective boats. In consequence of this warning the most of them did convene at the house of the said David Beatty and instead of giving due obedience to their Masters laws and commands they did in your Lordships presence in tumultuous and riotous manner absolutely refuse to give Account of the number of Crews or their names and contemptuously dismissed of their own accord, and due to their not giving due obedience to their said Masters lawful commands aforesaid, he cannot possible receive the Lands, Boats or Crew from the former Sacksman.

May it therefore please your Lordship to take the premises by our consideration, and to grant warrant for arresting the boats presently lying in the harbour of Johnshaven belonging to the Complainer therefore to remain under sure fence of arrestment until the Skippers and Crews give due obedience to the foresaid just and lawful demands,

According to the justice of James Mesline.