Banff, a royal, municipal and police burgh, seaport and capital of Banffshire, Scotland. Pop. (1901) 7161. It is beautifully situated on high ground, on the left bank of the mouth of the Deveron, 50 m. N.W. of Aberdeen by the Great North of Scotland railway. It is a place of great antiquity, its first charter having been granted by Malcolm IV. in 1163, and further privileges were conferred by Robert Bruce in 1324 and Robert II. in 1372. Of the old castle on the hill by the sea, in which Archbishop Sharp was born, scarcely a trace remains; but upon its site was erected the modern Banff Castle, belonging to the earl of Seafield. The chief public edifices include the county buildings; town hall, surmounted by a spire 100 ft. high; Chalmers hospital (founded by Alexander Chalmers of Clunie, a merchant and shipowner of the town); a masonic hall of tasteful design; and the academy, a modern structure in the Grecian style, to which there is attached an extensive museum, containing examples of the early mechanical genius of James Ferguson, the astronomer.
Of the museum, which originally belonged to the defunct Banff Institution and was afterwards taken over by the town council, Thomas Edward - the "working naturalist," whose life was so sympathetically written by Samuel Smiles - was curator for a few years. The principal manufactures comprise woollens, leather, rope and sails, and there are also breweries, distilleries, iron foundries, brick-yards and timber-yards, besides some ship-building. The fishing trade is also important. The exports mainly consist of grain, cattle, fish, dairy produce and potatoes; the imports of coal and timber. There is a railway station at Bridge of Banff communicating, via Inveramsay, with Aberdeen, and another at the harbour, communicating with Portsoy and Keith. The burgh is under the jurisdiction of a provost and council, and unites with Macduff, Elgin, Cullen, Inverurie, Kintore and Peterhead in returning one member to parliament. The Cassie Gift arose out of a bequest by Alexander Cassie of London, a native of Banff, who left £20,000 to the poor of the town - the interest being divided twice a year.
Duff House, immediately adjoining the town, is a seat of the duke of Fife. It was built in 1740-1745, after designs by Robert Adam, at a cost of £70,000. The duke of Cumberland rested here on the way to Culloden. The house contains a fine collection of pictures and an interesting armoury. The park is nearly ten miles in circumference. The house, together with that portion of the park immediately surrounding it (about 140 acres), was presented to the towns of Banff and Macduff by the duke of Fife in November 1906.