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Dalmellington

 

The New Statistical Account

Parish of Dalmellington

Presbytery of Ayr, Synod of Glasgow and Ayr

The Rev. Robert Houston, A. M. Minister

I.. - Topography and Natural History

Name. -  This parish is called in the former Statistical Account, Damelingtourn, and the name is still retained in this form by many of the old inhabitants. Th orthography, however, has not been uniform, but has passed through various unimportant changes. In it's present shape, the etymology of the name can be easily traced to a very appropriate Gaelic origin, Dail, signifying a plain, or field, or valley, and Muileann, a mill, with the very common affix ton; the name will therefore signify the town of the valley of the mill or mill field. Dalmellington is a burgh of barony, The date of it's erection I have not been able to ascertain

Extent and Boundaries. - The parish,as nearly as can be estimated, is 10 miles long, and on an average fully 3 miles broad. In the absence of any correct measurement of it's surface, it may with tolerable accuracy be assumed to be 30 square miles, The boundaries of the parish are the Loch and River Doon on the south and south - west, separating it from the parish of Straiton in the district of Carrick; Dalrymple parish on the west; Ochitree on the north; and New Cumnock and Carsphairn, in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, on the east.

Topographical Appearances. - The figure of the parish is that of an obtuse triangle, the longest side of which is the Loch and River Doon. A perpendicular from this, about half a mile above the middle of the parish, where it's breadth is the greatest, and passing through the village, would measure about five miles, and terminate nearly at the meeting of Ochitree and New Cumnock parishes.

Surfaces.- The upper part of the parish is formed by the termination of three ranges of hills which form ridges of varying though but moderate elevation. Two of these run nearly parallel from the march of Carsphairn, in the north and north- west direction, the one being a continuation of the lofty ridge on the east side of Loch Doon, and the other rising from the foot of Cairnsmuir. The third ridge is from New Cumnock, and crosses the foot of one of the others. It's direction is nearly south -west. The lower part of the parish is nearly one entire ridge of eminences, terminating abruptly to the east, and receiving at different elevations the names of Benwhat, Benbraniachan and Ben beoch. The only flat land in the parish is between this ridge and the Doon. It may be a mile in breadth just below the village, and extends about three mile along the Doon, terminating in a point in both directions. The hills are chiefly of easy ascent. In three places only are they for short distances precipitous. Benbeoch terminates the lower ridge to the east in a range of magnificent basaltic columns, nearly 300 feet in height, and double that in extent in breadth. Along the road to Carsphairn ( the Dumfries road ) for fully a mile,the ridges on either side approach so near as to form a deep pass, through which there is space for only the road and a narrow stream to wind themselves. A still more precipitous pass presents itself on the other side of the extremity of the Loch Doon range, where the river issues from the Loch. There , foe a mile the rocky perpendicular precipices approach within thirty feet of each other, and at some points rise 300 feet above the bed of the river This is a favourite resort of the tourist of the Lochs. A foot path was made by a late proprietor along the south side of the river, and just about the height of its winter torrents. Its present proprietor, whose residence is but a few hundred yards from the foot of the glen, has contrived to beautify it as much as its rocky grandeur will admit of ; but its rude natural sublimity, and the deafening dashing of the white torrent along its rocky bed, will ever remain its grand attraction,and make its minor beauties almost unknown and unheeded. This pass, which has given to it the name of the glen of Ness, or the Craigs of Ness, is the beginning of the valley of the Doon, which farther down widens out into rich and extensive meadows. Looking up the valley from near the foot of the parish, the flat land presents the enclosed figure of a triangle, widening out before the eye, till it reaches the high land above the village beyond which the mountain of Galloway close the prospect. The village, which lies imbedded in a sheltered nook at the north- east corner of the meadowland, is estimated to be 400 feet above the level of the sea. The highest of the surrounding hills amounts not to above 750 feet more,

Meteorology. - Nothing can be said, in the absence of all regular and registered observations, of the positive temperature and pressure of the atmosphere. Without doubt it partakes of the greater coldness of elevated regions, and is more variable than in lower districts, but no peculiar influence of it can be discovered in the distempers that occur. The inhabitants are hardy, healthy and long - lived.

It is now a tradition that the climate was once very unhealthy, especially to children. This was changed upon a piece of marshy ground in the neighbourhood of the village. Whether the cause of this traditionally unhealthiness may have been to be found in the marsh, and its removal in the partial draining of it, I shall not take it upon me to determine, but certain it is the disease of children are now very rare. Coup, the enemy, said to have scourged them is seldom seen, There is not a single distemper peculiar to the district, or referable to the climate. There is occasionally a case of rheumatism, but even rheumatism, notwithstanding of the elevated situation, and the almost constant exposure of many of the inhabitants, is not at all prevalent. The visits of epidemics are few and short. The estimated time of the return of measles, small- pox &c is from seven to ten years.

Hydrography. - The springs in the parish are all perennial. They flow chiefly from beds of sand and gravel and are pure. There are a few chalybeate springs in the neighbourhood.

There is a small loch, named Loch Muck, scarce a mile from the south- east boundary of the parish. Its waters are dark, and of considerable depth. its form is that of a crescent, and its extent between twenty and thirty acres. It lies in the middle of a heathy muir, and abounds in black trout. Another sheet of water, about double the extent, has received the name of the Bogton Loch. It is formed by the spreading out of the Doon, over a piece of low land , about two miles below its source. It is fertile in reeds, and forms a favourite haunt of the water - fowl.

The only river worth notice is the far - famed Doon, - all others are but little streams, although occasionally in winter they approach the river size. The Doon, which separates the districts of Kyle and Carrick, flows out of the loch of the same name. Its exit from the loch by two tunnels cut out of the solid rock, and protected by sluices, by which the discharge of water is regulated. Its direction during its course along the bounds of this parish is north - west. Its whole length may be 12 miles; its breadth 40 feet; its depth varies considerably, being from 2 to 20 feet. Except when dashing through the Glen of Ness,its course is through an almost level meadow, where , it forms nearly one continued pool of deep dark water. Its temperature is much the same as that of the atmosphere. In its course through the parish, it receives the additional waters of several small streams, by which its frequent overflowings are chiefly occasioned, and discharges itself into the sea about two miles south of Ayr.

Geology. - The chief of the rocky materials of the parish are graywacke and sandstone, chiefly of the coal formation. For three miles from the head of the parish, and across all its breadth nothing is visible but the graywacke, which extends into Galloway. The remaining seven miles are sandstone,in seams of various thicknesses, with everywhere an abundance of coal, and occasionally lime and ironstone. The only exception to the universality of this statement, is in the case of the higher part of the ridge terminated by the basaltic columns of Benbeoch, already mentioned. This trap range is evident of igneous origin, and cut off the coal field of this parish, which is upon the south edge of the greater coal valley of the lowlands, from the more extensive tract which proceeds through the northern part of the county to Renfrew and Lanarkshire. The effects of the eruption of the basalt by which this ridge has been produced are manifest in the disturbed state of the incumbent strata. Where the sandstone has been exposed, it exhibits a succession of thin layers of blue clay and coal alternating with it, with the lower formations an occasional stratum of the softer kind of common argillaceous schist.

The direction and dip of the strata exhibit almost every variety, The sandstone varies chiefly in the direction, and the graywacke in the dip. The dip of the sandstone and its accompanying strata in the lower ridge of hills, as seen in the coal - pits at the extremities of it, is 1 foot in 6 or 7 At the south - east end , the direction is nearly west, whereas at the other it is north - east. In the sandstone above the village, the dip is 6 feet in 11, and the direction north -west. The graywacke that succeeds it, in going south - east, dips in the opposite direction, and varies greatly on opposite sides of the little stream that divides the two ridges; on the south - side, being as much as 4 feet in 1, and nearly uniform, - whereas on the north- east side it varies and no more than from 3feet in 4, to 4 feet in 3. The bed is nowhere exposed between the graywacke and sandstone, to enable one to discover what rock separates them. About half a mile below the village is the morass mentioned in the former report. It is 150 acres of peat resting on a spongy bottom. Several oaks have been found imbedded init. Two of a considerable size are just now exposed about 6 inches below the surface, in crossing a ditch. They measure respectively 3 feet and 3 1/2 feet in diameter. Other were found nearer the village thirty years ago.

The soil along the river is chiefly a deep loam. Upon the hill sides, in the lower half of the parish, it is a wet clayey loam resting on sandstone, and terminating at the back of the ridge, in a broad moss extending for miles into Ochiltree parish. The upper part of the parish is chiefly a light dry soil, with a few patches of peat resting on the graywacke rock. the ordinary plants are common grass and fog There is some heath upon the high lands to the south - east. but it is every year lessening in extent.

The coal - pits have been many, - especially in low situations where till lately the coal was worked at less than 3 fathoms from the surface. the pits at present in operations are two; - one ,the Camlarg pit, about a mile from the village, is nearly 20 fathoms deep.Two seams of coal are there worked together, the lower seam 3 feet deep, and the higher 22 inches. They are separated by 16 inches of a black soft stuff the colliers very appropriately denominate dirt. Immediately above and below the coal, is freestone mixed with coal.

The other pit is about five miles distant at the foot of the parish, and is worked by a steam - engine. The following is an official report of the depth, &c. of it blue clay, 66feet; freestone, 70 feet; smithy coal, 3 feet; fire clay, 1 foot; hard fire coal, 8 feet; fire clay, 4 feet; hard 4 feet; total 156 feet.

Zoology. - The wild animals are such as are the ordinary inhabitants of mountain districts, and which are carefully specified in the game acts. Black game have been abundant for the last twenty years. Wild ducks abound in the Bogton loch, and frequently tempt the eagle from the Star mountains to a comfortable meal. That beautiful little bird the real also frequents the loch. The loch is also adorned from October to March with flocks of wild swans, which make it their resting  place during winter. The bittern, commonly called from its ominous sound the bull of the bog, was in former days also to be found on the loch. Foxes were wont to be very abundant in the parish. Certain caves, formed by the fallen columns of Benbeoch, afforded them strong hiding places, whence they issued, and committed frightful havoc among the flocks and poultry. By dint of persevering efforts they were entirely extirpated; but within these two or three years, certain stray ones have reached the old abodes.

Botany.- The rarest plants noticed in this parish are the following; Agrostis pumila, Holcus mollis, Melica uniflora, Festuca vivipara, Scirpus setaceus, Gnaphalium sylvaticum, Nymphaea alba,Solidago virgaurea, Stachys ambigua, Saxifraga hypnoids. On Benbeoch is found abundance of the beautiful cryptogramma crispa, and in the Glen of Ness the Polypodium dryopteris, Asplenium viride and Trichomanes, Aspidium lobatum, and B. lonchitidoides, Hymenophyllum wilsoni, are frequent; and also in beautiful fructification, abundance of the Neckera crispa and hookeria lucens.

II.- CIVIL HISTORY.

The most ancient account of the parish transactions is to be found in the session - records. The first date of them is 7th March 1641. For twenty - one years they were exceedingly well kept, and very voluminous, and again for the same period at the beginning of the last century; and give a striking picture of the times in the acts embodied in them, and the vigilance and extent of the disciple they bear to have been exercised. For a century after the last date, there is little record of session proceedings. The register of births and marriages begins at the same date, and except during " the time of the curate," as the last period of the Episcopacy is usually designated, all the records of which are a few scarce readable entries of baptisms, it has been, with little interruption, well kept to the present day.

This parish bore its full share of the hardships of the times of persecution. The traditionally records of these are by no means scanty; but a narrative still more full and better authenticated will be found in Wodrow. he gives the history of this parish as a specimen of what was generally practised, and says, "Had materials come to my hands as distinctly from the rest of the country as from this parish, what a black view we might have had," He details minutely the great number of troops frequently quartered upon people. In 1678 they had 900 Highlanders quartered upon them; a number which from the earliest census we possess, was more than the whole population of the parish. As a specimen of the fines levied for worshipping in interdicted places, he give a list of ten individuals who had to pay, in the portions, severally specified 600 merks and 260 lib. for hearing a sermon in the chapel in Straiton parish. And this besides the imprisonment of some of them, and the dispersing of the family, and the plundering of the house of one who did not appear. Wodrow quotes frequently and at great length from the diary of Quintin Dick, an inhabitant of this parish, who bore a prominent part both in the sufferings and in the doings of these days. in such exciting times he was a remarkable instance of sound judgement, steadfast principle, and moderation. After much suffering, and a long imprisonment in Dunottar Castle, he providently escaped banishment to the Plantations, to which he had been sentenced; and returned to his house in peace. We find him afterwards employed in endeavouring to heal the differences which separated the Presbyterian brethren.

Land - owners. - The Hon. Colonel and Mrs Macadam Carthcart of Craigengillan who reside at Berberth just without the border of the parish, posses nearly the whole of the parish.

Antiquities. - The sites of two castles are pointed out; - one ,a few hundred yards above the village, which, from a traditionary story of its occupant, is still spoken of as Dame Helen's Castle has been a small building. one of the oldest houses in the village from having been built of materials of the castle, is called the Castle House, and on one of its doors lintels bore , thirty years ago, the date 1003. The village seems to have originally a dependency of this castle, - for closely over hanging the village, and between it and the castle is a moat of considerable height; one of the primitive courts whence laws were promulgated, and where the justice of these days was administered. The land between the castle and the moat still bear the name of the Castle Crofts, and at a little distance from thence is the Gillies Knowe.

The other castle has been a more considerable structure , and must have been from it's situation, literally a place of strength, - and security also. The site of it is a projecting point on a deep glen side, quite precipitous, or rather overhanging on three sides; the fourth side has had the usual protection of a fosse. From some tranditionary connection with the history of Alpine. the 68 th King of the Scots, it is called Leight or Laght Alpine.

In Chalmer's Caledonia, notice is taken of a Roman road which passed through the length of this parish from the south - east to north - west. The line of it has been traced though Dumfries and Kirkcudbright shires. The last remains of it in this parish, on the farm of Burnhead, were raised seven years ago to repair some dikes, which had formerly been built of the whinstone of which the road was formed. It had been from ten to eleven feet broad, composed of a row of large stones on either side, and filled up with smaller between. Leaving Dalmellington it entered Dalrymple, where it has been traced in various places and terminated at a ford in the River Ayr, not a great distance above the town. We have farther evidence that this was a great thoroughfare of the Romans, in the correctness with which the course of the Doon, the only river in Ayrshire, there laid down , is traced in Ptolemy's Geography of Britain. There is a strong probability that Dalmellington was a Roman station; the Corda which Dr. Henry sets down upon the Ayr at Cumnock. The Garlic etymology of the name agrees also entirely with the appearance of the place, corresponding to the first portion of its modern appellation.

There have been three considerable cairns or heaps of loose stones in the parish, all above the village. One of these immense heaps, about half a mile to the south - east, on the top of a little hill, measures about 115 yards in circumference. The materials of it were, a few years ago, applied by the present occupant of the land to the more useful purpose of the building dikes. There were found under it several graves covered with flat stones, and containing dry human bones. Sometime before, another about a mile from it, in a valley, was applied to the same purpose. Under it also were found graves and bones. Some remains of a third, called the White Cairn of Carnannock, have been left in the middle of the moor, about half a mile from the head of the parish, as far to the south- west of the Galloway road. It is said to mark the spot where the chiefs of one party were buried, after some severe conflict of ancient days; and tradition farther says the slain of the opposite party were buried under a similar cairn, some miles farther on, in the farm of Holm. in the parish of Carsphairn.

 

 

III. - Population.

In the year 1755, 739
                 1791 781
                 1831, in the village, 708
                                    country, 348
1056
                 1837, 1126
Yearly average of births for seven years previous to 1831, 28 2/7
                           deaths,                19 5/7
                           marriages, 10 1/7
Number under 15 years of age, 442
             betwixt 15 and 30, 222
                         30 and 50,      240
                         50 and 70 107
             upwards of 70, 45
There are three proprietors of land of the yearly value upwards of L. 50.
Number of unmarried men, bachelors, and widowers upwards of 50 years of age, 28
                                women upwards of 50 59
Average number of children in a family, 31/2

In the course of the last three years there were 6 illegitimate births in the parish.

The climate has its certificate of salubrity in the appearance of the people. They have been for years a reading people. Among them I have reason to know there are many who read to profit in the things that belong to their everlasting peace, and who fear God, "speaking often one to another." Such a cause cannot but operate, to some extent at least, for good. Accordingly the attendance on religious ordinances is for the most part regular and decent. There is much propriety of conduct, and a growing disposition to discountenance the profligate and unprincipled.

IV. - Industry.

Agriculture. -

Number of acres cultivated or occasionally in tillage, 1,304
                          that never have been cultivated, 17,896
                          that might profitably be cultivated, 1,150
                          in a state of undivided common 277
                          under wood, about 750

The plantations are chiefly larch and Scotch fir, which appear to suit the climate well. There are a few ashes, birches, and saughs, indigenous. So far, the plantations seem to be under good management.

Rent.- The rent of arable land cannot be correctly given. The arable land is but a small portion of the parish, and is chiefly made up of a few fields in the lower and more sheltered parts of the various stock-farms, - but if let together, it might be worth 15s. per acre. The average rent of grazing is L. 3 per full-grown cow, and 3s. per ewe or full-grown sheep.

Prices. - A one-horse box-cart and wheels, with iron axle, is brought for from L. 8 to L. 9; a cart and plough harness, L. 3 to L. 4 per set; an iron plough from L. 3, 10s. to L. 4, 10s.; a wood-plough, L. 2; harrows mounted from L. 1, 10s. to L. 2 per pair.

Live-Stock. - The common breed of sheep is the black-faced. A few Cheviot and Leicester have lately been introduced. The cows are Ayrshire. These form the chief stock of the parish, with some Galloway and Highland stots and heifers. The management of them is well understood. Of late years a considerable deal more land has been brought under cultivation than formerly, for the improvement of pasture. Lime is abundant, and near at hand, which enables this system to be pursued profitably; and with it has considerably increased the amount of dairy stock. One enterprising tenant (Captain Walker in Bellsbank) has in this way improved, or has in process of improvement, 400 acres, and lately furrow-drained about forty acres. Encroachments have also been made upon the moss-land successfully, by spade husbandry, beginning with potatoes in lazy beds.

The general duration of leases of late has been seven years. The practice of landlords, and the voice of the tenantry seem to be at variance on the subject of the effects of such a system. I shall not attempt to decide the point, though I may be allowed to remark, that the tenants who have shewn the greatest enterprise in improvement, and expended most liberally, have their farms on leases of nineteen years.

The enclosures are, in general, good condition and abundant. The farm-steadings in some cases are not remarkable for comfort, though in this respect considerable improvement has been made of late years.

Produce. - The average gross amount of raw produce raised in this parish, as nearly as can be ascertained, -

Grain, almost wholly oats, 1100 quarters at L. 1, 1s., L. 1155
Green crop, chiefly potatoes, 81 acres at L. 8, 648
Hay chiefly meadow, 1800
Sheep, 8000 pastured, 4s. each 1600
Cows, 270 at L. 4, 10s., 1215
Heifers, &c., 440 at L. 2 880
Coals, 1441
--------
L. 8739

Manufacturers. - The chief manufacturers of the village are wool-spinning, and the weaving of plaiding, tartan, and carpets. There are two small woollen mills, employing together about thirty hands. The yarn spun in the largest was wont to be disposed of wholly to the Kilmarnock carpet-manufacturers; but four years ago, the proprietor of the mill added to it also a carpet manufactory, where he has now eight looms constantly at work. The yarn spun in the other mill is also manufactured on the spot, into blankets, plaids, and packing-cloth, &c. There are about forty weavers, besides, in the village, the greater number of whom are occupied with tartans; a few weave cotton cloth, and a few are customer weavers, i. e. weavers of home-spun yarn. There was wont to be a bleachfield of some extent on the farm of Dounieston, at the foot of the parish, - the increased importation's of Irish linen, and the extensive substitution of cotton goods for home manufacture, gradually lessened its employment, and for two years it has been given up. The premises were last year converted into a threadmill, which has been for some time in active operation.

Those in the mills work ten hours a-day; the weaver's days and hours are regulated entirely by their inclination or necessities; but, being industrious, I apprehend their six days may average twelve hours each. At this rate of labour their earnings may average 1s. 6d. per day.

Nothing injurious to health or morals can be charged against the employment's of those engaged in manufactures. The purity of the atmosphere effectually neutralizes any bad effects of the sedentary habits of the weaver upon his health; and the mills are not of such extent, as, by the numbers they congregate, to seduce the minds of the young from the simplicity of rural life.

V. - Parochial Economy.

Market-Towns. - The market-town the easiest of access, though not the nearest, is Ayr. The distance to it is fifteen miles and a quarter. The only village in the parish is that which bears its name. It is a penny-post to Ayr, from which a foot-post comes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and returns on the alternate days.

There are two turnpike roads in the parish, - the Ayr and Dumfries road, which passes through the extreme length, - and another which crosses it at the village.

Means of Communication. - The means of communication enjoyed by the parish are abundant. We have the benefit of the Ayr and Dumfries coach going one way or the other, each day; anther conveyance to and from Ayr on market days, with carriers also on the same days, and weekly carriers to Glasgow, Dumfries,  and Castle Douglas. The bridges are abundant, and chiefly in good repair. There are six over the Doon, and nearly double that number over the smaller streams, sufficiently large to admit a heavy flood. It was not, however, always so. One bridge over the Doon is one hundred and sixteen years old, another over the Muck is about sixty; and I believe the first roads in the parish are of nearly as recent a date. The fences are chiefly dry stone walls, abundant and in good condition. The hedges around the village are thriving and neatly kept.

Ecclesiastical State. - The church is as conveniently situated as it could be, to suit the population. It is in the village, and about five miles from each extremity of the parish. It was built in 1766, but, though of no great age, from the dampness of the site, it is exceedingly uncomfortable; and, for both comfort and accommodation, it is ripe for rebuilding. It is seated for 442, from which there have to be deducted 36 sittings, the private property of, and occupied by, an heritor in a neighbouring parish, leaving for the parish 406 sittings, of which 47 are free.

The manse was built in 1798. It underwent a thorough repair in 1833, and an addition is at present being built to it. The glebe measures about 10 acres; and is worth L. 2 per acre. The stipend is L. 112, 0s. 8d. including L. 8, 6s. 8d. for communion elements; fifty merks Scots besides are paid to the College of Glasgow. All attend the parish church, whether churchmen or Dissenters, except seven Reformed Presbyterians, about as many more who care for neither sanctuary nor Sabbath, and a family or two of Irish Papists.

There are but eleven individuals Dissenters in the parish, besides the Papists. The attendance at church is very regular

The number of communicants at the Established Church is 465. The contributions for religious and charitable purposes are made by collections in the church, and average about L. 8 yearly.

Education. - There are four schools in the parish, - one parochial, one partially endowed, and two others, one of them a female school, unendowed.

The branches taught in three of the schools are English and English grammar, writing, arithmetic, mathematics, book-keeping, Latin and Greek. The parochial teacher has the legal accommodation and the maximum salary. The endowment of the second school consists of school and dwelling-house, with garden, coals, and L. 10 of salary, given by the Honourable Colonel Macadam.Cathcart, during his pleasure. Peculiar circumstances prevent at present any estimate of the amount of fees. The girls in the female school are taught English, writing, and needle-work.

The children are sent to school early, and are usually kept at it as long as the circumstances of their parents will admit. Except in one direction, there are but two or three families beyond two miles and a-half from the village, and there are none beyond the same distance from a school in the village of Patna, in Straiton parish.

Library. - There is a subscription library in the parish. It was established in 1823, and now contains upwards of 800 volumes. It is indebted to Colonel Cathcart and others for some handsome donations of books, but is chiefly supported by its own funds. There are at present about 60 subscribers; the annual subscription is 4s.

There is a reading-room, for the establishing and support of which, property and money to a considerable amount, besides a library of 600 volumes, were left by a shopkeeper in the village, who died a few years ago. Any surplus yearly income to be applied for the education of poor children.

Savings Bank, - A savings bank was established in the parish in May 1834. The amount of deposits remaining at the end of last year was between L. 200 and L. 300. The deposits have steadily increased from the beginning, and from the classes of persons who, it is desirable, should take benefit of the institution. They are chiefly young workmen and servants.

Poor and Parochial Funds. - The number of persons receiving regular aid id 14. They receive on an average 5s. 1d. per calendar month. Several others receive occasional relief. The annual expense amounts to about L. 70, of which about LL. 30 is made up of collections at the church doors, and the small addition of a part of the dues of proclamation. The balance of the expenditure is liberally supplied by Colonel Cathcart. I am sorry to have to testify the lowering of the ancient spirit of independence in many, with reference to receiving parish relief. I remark it, not so much in the poor themselves, as in their relations, who are anxious to be rid of the burden of them, by "flinging them on the session." The olden spirit is not, however, wholly banished; there are yet some specimens of the honest and commendable independence of spirit, which will rather doubly toil, if any degree of possible exertion can eke out a scanty pittance.

Fairs. - There were wont to be monthly cattle markets and fairs held here, but new arrangements among the cattle-dealers have abolished the market, and reduced the fairs to three, which are held on Fastern's E'en, the first Friday after Whitsunday, and Hallow E'en, all old style. The chief business transacted at them is concerning wool, and feeing servants.

Inns, &c. - There are 8 inns and public houses in the parish, - seven of these in the village, supported to a considerable extent by the visitants, during the fishing-season, to Loch Doon. But even for the accommodation of these parties, or for profit to the innkeepers themselves, or advantage to the community, they are too many by a half.

Fuel. - Fuel is in great abundance, and very cheap. Very few peats are used. One of the coal pits at present worked is but about a mile from the village, and there they are had for about 3s. per ton of 20 cwt.

Miscellaneous Observations.

Those who saw the parish, forty years ago, speak of the great improvement in its cultivation. It was then the practice to turn up any patch that might be conceived capable of yielding a scanty crop for a year, without any assistance of lime or manure, and it was left to return to its native wildness again. Draining was scarce even thought of. No attempt was made to rear artificial grasses; it was conceived they would not grow. Only within these thirty years or so, has lime been applied to the soil, and grasses sown. A complete contrast in the facilities of communication is also spoken of. The roads were rough and rudely formed, literally "over mountain and over the moor." The streams   were without bridges; and the winter torrent could, in half an hour, fix the inhabitants of a district within their proper boundaries. The industry of the parish has had its rise and fall since the publication of the former Report. The woollen manufactory then projected was established, and gave a new impetus to, and enlarged the extent of, the staple business, - plaiding and tartan manufacturing. But the English blanketing and cotton cloths have lessened the demand for plaidings, and the Bannockburn manufacturers have got nearer the market for tartans. The chief improvements in agriculture of which the land seems capable would be the extension of furrow-draining, - much of the soil being wet, and upon a retentive sub-soil; - and the following out of the system so successfully pursued, of liming the land capable of cultivation, cropping it for two years, and sowing it down for permanent pasture. The extension of plantations in clumps and stripes for shelter would farther contribute much to benefit both stock and crop, and to ornament the appearance of the country.

September 1837

 

 

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