Associated Chapels: Alterlie
OS Ref: NH 739499 RCAHMS No: NH 74NW 55
The church of Petty (Petyn) boasts an ancient history and a famous founder - Colum Cille (St Columba). Indeed, the Ordnance Survey confirm the tradition that there was a 'Culdee cell' at Petty but give no evidence in support. It is a point worth noting that such a prominent church should have maintained a Celtic name in the face of the influence of the 'romanisation' of the Diocese.
Burial place of the Mackintosh Chiefs. (Is its condition something of which the clan should be ashamed?)
General view of the graveyard showing the old watch house.
The church of Petty was, with that of Brachelie, made in to an ordinary prebend of the cathedral during the time of Bishop Andrew de Moravia (1224x42). This gift was made by his kinsman Walter de Moravia. At this time the vicarages of the two churches were combined and served by a single cleric whilst the parsonage tithes were assigned to the prebend. The Canon had a house within the Chanonry at Elgin, Petty Manse, along with a garden and croft.
The church has for long contained the burial ground of the Mackintosh Chiefs. Sadly, the mausoleum is today in a sad state of repair. Sometimes known as the 'Mackintosh Vault', it was a legacy from Lachlan Mackintosh of Kinrara, the second son of Sir Lachlan, the 17th Chief, and the writer of the history of his family, known as the Kinrara MS. In his will, dated 22nd November, 1686, he leaves "five hundred marks money to be wared (used) for building and erecting ane Chapel of esslar work at the easter gable of the Kirk of Pettie to be ane burial place for the Lairds of McIntoshe, their ladies and such others of the surname of McIntosh as are descended (or shall descend) of Umquhill Sir Lauchlan McIntoshe, his offspring." And in order that the work may not be delayed, it is stipulated that it shall be erected within eighteen months after his decease, which took place in December, 1686. Mackintosh of Kinrara in the same will expressed the desire that he should be buried amongst his nearest relations within the Church of Petty, so it appears the Mackintosh family were previous to the erection of the mausoleum interred within the Kirk itself.
There was at one time a strange funeral custom at Petty. It came to be known as "the Petty Step." It was the custom if the people of Petty to run (not walk) at funerals. It appears it was given up owing to some of the bearers having tripped when carrying the coffin of an old reputed witch-woman to the churchyard. It was feared that her curse might fall upon them! The origin of the custom is traceable to the weird superstition that the spirit of the last person interred had to keep watch and ward at the kirkyard gate until relieved by the subject of the next funeral! When two funerals took place on the same day, it was lucky to be the first to cross the threshold, hence the hast at Petty funerals. The custom seems to have been given up by 1841.
The church which stands in the graveyard today was built in 1836 but it is no longer used and is rapidly falling into decay.
At Alterlie (NH 715495) was a chapel known as St Columba's Chapel but no trace of it is to be found today.
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