By John McPherson (Administrator)

Since the 1990’s when I embarked on researching and documenting the history of Hopeman there has always been the question of where the name ‘Hopeman’ came from and was there an earlier settlement. To my knowledge (2018) there has been no geological findings within the village to indicate previous settlements, however, there are several pointers indicating that there may well have been people residing in the area

Clue 1 – The Development of Hopeman & the Early Years

The article by historian Douglas Lockhart describes how the land where Hopeman stands was owned by Sir Archibald Dunbar during the 1700s and when he started to sell off parcels of his estate, Lot 1V: Inverugie, was purchased in June 1805 by William Young a corn merchant and enterprising tenant farmer. Douglas continues to say that the village site appeared to be uninhabited. Roy’s map shows no settlement and only sand dunes between Burghead and Stotfield, whilst Leslie in his ‘General View of Agriculture of Nairn and Moray’ published in 1813 describes Inverugie as a ‘desolate tract’ on which Young had rebuilt upon the solitary shore one of the ancient villages under the new name of Hopeman.

Clue 2 – Smuggling days that gave Moray village its name.

By R. Munroe Gordon.

This article (Included within this site) was written during 1961 by Mr R. Munroe Gordon who was born in Hopeman during 1873 and lived there for twenty years. In the article he describes how the fishing families came from Avoch and Campbelltown areas during 1805 and goes on to say the following – Quote” However it is a mistake to say that they founded the village. When they arrived there was already a village in existence. Its size can only be guessed at, but it was prosperous and could be described as a typical Scots village of its period. But its name was not Hopeman. The original village was called “The Haudment”. Why the name was changed is a mystery which I have never got any explanation of even at this date 1962” – unquote. The article continues to say that the origin of Haudment was connected with the sailors on the French sailing luggers who carried on an illicit smuggling connection.

Clew 3 – The name for Hopeman used by older generations up to around the 1970s.

By John McPherson (administrator)

Within the article by R. Munroe Gordon he mentions that during his time there were three names more or less associated with the name of Hopeman. There was the old name of “The Haudmant” which was rarely used except by the old folks and he goes on to describe an elderly couple from Elgin who had old connections with Hopeman and where the head of the household invariable referred to the village as “The Haudment”. As time passed corruptions in the name of the old village evolved, the definite article was dropped and alterations crept in giving “Houdmin” or “Houdman”.

I am sure that there are many residents of Hopeman who will still remember the older generation, especially from the surrounding area of Lossiemouth and Burghead, using the name Houdiman. I personally remember a man from Lossiemouth who always used that name on a regular basis and that was around 1980. For many years it was called “Houdman” however over the past few generations has been known as Houpman by the locals.

Clue 4 – Cemetery headstone

By John McPherson (administrator)

St Peters kirk yard on the road between Duffus and Gordonstoun is where our first ancestors were buried and there are some very old and interesting monumental inscriptions surrounding the derelict church. It was whilst researching family genealogy that I found the following headstones which kind of confirms that there may well have been a settlement of some kind.

Inscription are from the Duffus, St Peter’s Churchyard compiled by “The Moray Burial and Research Group”.

210 Flat stone, Emblems of Mortality very worn. W.B. A.C/G

…………spous (sic) to THOMAS BROUN in …………….

213 Flat stone, Emblems of Mortality with large anchor and tiller.

Here lyes ane honest woman called ELSBET TAYLOR spouse (sec) to WILLIAM BROWN who lived in Howdment & she departed this lyfe the 11 of June 1691.

W.B. E.T. A.B. E.T. A.B.I.O.

215 Flat stone, broken in two parts with Emblems of Mortality with large anchor and tiller.

Here lyes WILLIAM BROWN Skipper in Burghsea who departed this life the26 of November 1682. W.B. F.Y. F.? C.?

These three stones are very close to each other and it is presumed that they are from the same family. I have found no other stone with the Howdment inscription.


If there was a previous settlement would it have been where Hopeman now stands or somewhere else? Inverugie was the main settlement and their land extended down to the sea and I believe that the main road to Elgin from the the area was from Braemou Bay up Lodge road and on up to Inverugie house then Keam farm and on towards Spynie. This route reduced the climbs of Findrassie and Spynie braes and more suitable for a horse and cart.

William Young had found limestone on his estate at the top of Inverugie road and built a gravity railway to transport the lime from the quarry down to the harbour. The following was written by Daniel (Dan) Smith, a very knowlegible and keen historian of Hopeman during the 1900s

Quote– Hindsight has shown that William Young made an error or big mistake in installing a narrow gauge gravity railway down Harbour Street.

This type of railway is more suitable on mine workings. In theory, it seemed to be the answer to transporting lime rather than using conventional carting but in practice this proved wrong. It was dangerous, noisy, made the crossing of Harbour Street very difficult with two ropes running at knee level, it was difficult to keep the system running with the technology available at the time.

The site of the harbour was fixed at the end of the railway which had to run in a straight line with no bends from the limekilns to the harbour. Ideally, the east wall of the harbour should have been on the line of the Daisy Rock thus minimising Hopeman’s harbour endless silting problem. A flowing tide moves faster than an ebbing tide and thus the sand is carried into the harbour and settles there. Neither Buckie nor Burghead had much of a silting problem. There were plenty of flat rocks at the Daisy Rock to dry fish on. As one Houpman Slocher remarked “Ye canna dry fish on saan”

If the village had been built between the Braemou and the School then both water supplies at that time, namely the Braemou Well and the Fairy Well on the east side of the school brae, would have been within the village.

William Young’s railway murdered the layout of Harbour Street. Due to the length of ropes available at that period and having to provide crossing points, the railway had to be staged with stages at Cardno’s (corner of Forsyth St), Jeks (between Cooper and Farquhar St), Havers (corner of Duff St) and at the Black Sheddie. Sheds for storage of coal and stone were erected at Jeks and Havers where there was a flat area. This left a legacy of a long dyke at Jeks and a coal yard opposite Havers. Not many places had a coal yard gracing its streets. – unquote

I personally feel that if there had been a previous settlement it would have been a gathering of houses where the Broun’s (Browns) may have lived (mentioned in clue 4 above). It is logical that they would have built the settlement where there was some shelter, a good supply of fresh water, easy access to the beach and a road out of the area. The area suggested by Bill Smith for the new village of Hopeman could well be where the settlement was and where the Broun’s lived.