William Dingwall Fordyce lived from 31 March 1836 to 27 November 1875. He was a landowner in Aberdeenshire who became a Liberal Member of Parliament and introduced innovations which greatly benefitted his tenants. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
The Dingwall Fordyce family had live at Brucklay Castle, north of Maud in Aberdeenshire, since the mid 1700s. William Dingwall Fordyce inherited the family lands a century later and went on to introduce a series of innovations. These included insurance for his tenants' cottages, and the provision of weekly carriages to Banff, Peterhead and Aberdeen to give his tenants and their families more mobility. He was also instrumental in introducing gaming laws intended to assist the rural economy.
The Formartine and Buchan Railway opened in stages between 1861 and 1865. Its main line ran from Dyce in the south to Fraserburgh in the north, and there was a branch line which connected to Peterhead. The original plans for the line saw it extend only as far north as Ellon. The fact that it went much further was largely due to the political influence, and financial input, of William Dingwall Fordyce. The junction station between the main line to Fraserburgh and the branch line to Peterhead was built in what is today Maud. But, presumably influenced by William Dingwall Fordyce and reflecting the station's proximity to the Brucklay Estate, the railway company originally named the station Brucklay Junction. The village that started to grow up around it was briefly called Brucklay before becoming known as New Maud, and later simply as Maud.
In 1866 Dingwall Fordyce was elected to become the Liberal MP for Aberdeenshire. Following the reorganisation of constituencies by the Representation of the People (Scotland) Act 1868, he was elected to represent East Aberdeenshire.
The railway no longer reaches Maud, though the station buildings are still there. William Dingwall Fordyce is primarily remembered today by prominently located Culsh Monument, complete with its church-like spire, erected a little north of the nearby village of New Deer.