some say Tomintoul did not exist prior to 1775 when Gordon of the Gordon then built Tomintoul as it now
They are quite right. The village of Tomintoul is one of the numerous planned villages created in the late 18th and early 19th century (the period known as the 'Scottish Enlightenment') by landowners, and it presumably took the name of a pre-existing farm or croft or clachan.
You can always spot a planned town or village because the street plan involves straight streets in a rectangular pattern, the main streets usually quite wide, and the houses usually built with their long front elevation on the street. Older places have winding narrow lanes and the houses are often built with gable ends to the street. Cullen is a good place to see this because the Seatown has the wynds and gable ends to the street/sea, and the upper town is a classic planned town of the early 19th century. The larger old places have a mediaeval street plan where the main street widens in the middle to accommodate the kirk and market, and there are lots of narrow alleys or vennels or closes running off it at right angles. Elgin and Forres are examples of this.
The motivation for the fashion for building planned villages was partly philanthropic, to provide better accommodation for the populace, though in many of them the tenants had to build their own houses according to the overall plan and guidelines. Sometimes it was to increase income from the land by letting tenements, which in this context means narrow strips of land stretching back behind the house (IIRC Rothes is one of these, and possibly Grantown-on-Spey). Sometimes it was to get rid of an unsightly clutter of hovels close to the walls of the landowner's house and move the 'hoi polloi' a mile or so away (Fochabers and New Scone, for example).
but the locals spread out around Tomintoul itself did exist prior to 1775 I am sure
Yes. IIRC the village of Tomintoul was created to provide housing and work in weaving for the inhabitants of the area.
not place in the banffs section
How do you mean? Where did you find it?
there is more than one Tomintoul
Indeed. There's the one in the parish of Kirkmichael, Banffshire http://www.geograph.org.uk/gridref/NJ1618
one just outside Braemar in Aberdeenshire http://www.geograph.org.uk/gridref/NO1490
and one in Strathnairn, Inverness-shire http://www.geograph.org.uk/gridref/NH6628
that spring to mind, and I am almost certain I've seen another one somewhere. The Scotland's Places web site only lists the Banffshire one.
name places are repeated all over the world - which again does not help without the full details
Spot on. In Scotland, you have to know the name of the parish
you are dealing with - some parishes are partly in one county and partly in another (Cromdale Inverallan and Advie, for instance, or Boharm) and there is one (Logie) that is in three counties - partly in Perthshire, partly in Stirlingshire and partly in Clackmannanshire.
Where there are two or more parishes with the same name you also need to know which county or counties they belong to.