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Applegarth and Sibbaldbie, Dumfriesshire

Historical Description

APPLEGARTH and SIBBALDBIE, a united parish, in the district of ANNANDALE, county of DUMFRIES, 2 miles (N. W. by N.) from Lockerbie; containing, with the chapelry of Dinwoodie, 857 inhabitants. The term Applegarth is compounded of the words Apple and Garth; the latter signifies in the Celtic language an "inclosure", and both conjoined are invariably taken for an "apple inclosure" or "orchard". Bie, or bye, which terminates the name Sibbaldbie, signifies in the Saxon a "dwelling-place", and the entire name is thought to have been applied to the district from its having been the residence of Sibbald. The annexation of Sibbaldbie took place in 1609; and the chapelry of Dinwoodie, which some suppose to have been a distinct parish, was also attached to Applegarth: it is said to have belonged to the Knights Templars, who had large possessions in Annandale. Chalmers, on the authority of the Royal Wardrobe accounts, states that on the 7th July, 1300, Edward I., who was then at Applegarth, on his way to the siege of Caerlaverock, made an oblation of seven shillings at St. Nicholas' altar, in the parish church here, and another oblation of a like sum at the altar of St. Thomas à Becket. A large chest was found some years ago not very far from the manse, which is conjectured to have been part of the baggage belonging to Edward, who remained for several days at Applegarth, waiting for his equipage. An ancient thorn called the "Albie Thorn", still standing in a field, within 500 yards of the church, is said to have been planted on the spot where Bell of Albie fell, while in pursuit of the Maxwells, after the battle of Dryfe-sands, in the year 1593.

The parish contains 11,700 acres, and is situated in that part of the shire formerly called the stewartry of Annandale. Its surface is diversified by two principal ranges of hills, one on each side of the river Dryfe, which runs from the north-east in a southern direction; the highest part of the western range, Dinwoodie hill, rises 736 feet above the sea, and Adder Law, in the eastern range, attains an elevation of 638 feet. In addition to its being intersected by the Dryfe, the parish is washed on its eastern boundary by the Corrie water, and on its western by the river Annan, the banks of which streams are in many parts precipitous, and clothed with brushwood and plantations. Among the trees, comprising most of those common to the country, the larch, spruce, and Scotch fir, particularly the larch, after flourishing for twelve or fourteen years, exhibit symptoms of decay, and gradually pine away, in consequence of their roots having come into contact with the sandstone rock and gravel. In the rivers and their several tributary streams, eels, pike, trout, and many smaller fish are numerous: and in the Annan, salmon of good quality are plentiful. The soil is in general fertile. Between the banks of the Annan and the Dryfe, the land is alluvial, and interspersed with strata of river gravel; the soil on the declivity of the western range is in some parts sharp and good, but in many places has a wet and tilly substratum, and on the higher portions is to be found a black moory earth. Of the entire area, 7392 acres are either cultivated or occasionally in tillage; 3777 are waste, or in permanent pasture, including sixty or seventy acres of moss; 331 are in wood, and from 150 to 200 are incurably barren. Among the white crops, wheat, which was formerly unknown in the parish, is now an important article of produce; all kinds of green crops, also, are raised, of good quality, including considerable quantities of turnips and potatoes. An approved system of husbandry is followed, but agriculture has not been carried to the same perfection as in some other districts, chiefly from a deficiency in manuring and draining, and from exhausting the soil by too severe a course of cropping. Considerable improvements have been made, during the present century, in the erection of cottages. The breed of black-cattle has been particularly attended to, and in symmetry and general excellence now rivals the best specimens of the best districts. The annual value of real property in the parish is £6850. The prevailing rock is the old red sandstone, and the western ridge is interspersed with large nodules of white and greenish whinstone, while on the summit there are greywacke slate and greenstone, diversified by numerous veins of quartz. The seats are, Jardine Hall, built in 1814, and the mansion of Hook, built in 1806: the former edifice is of red sandstone, cut from a quarry on Corncockle muir, in Lochmaben parish; the latter is chiefly of greenstone, from the bed of the river Dryfe. In this parish the inhabitants are altogether of the agricultural class, with the exception of a few tradesmen residing chiefly in the small village of Milnhouse. The road from Glasgow to Carlisle, and that from Dumfries across Annandale to Eskdale, both run through the parish: there are two good bridges over the Annan, one of which is on the Glasgow line, and the other on the road from Dumfries. Great facility of intercourse is also afforded by the Caledonian railway, which has a station in the parish.

Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Lochmaben and synod of Dumfries; patrons. Sir William Jardine, Bart., of Applegarth, and John James Hope Johnstone, Esq., of Annandale. The stipend averages nearly £250, and there is a manse, built in 1805, with a glebe of six acres and a half of good land. The church, a plain substantial structure, built in 1760, is inconveniently situated at a distance of five or six miles from some of the population; it has been at different times repaired and enlarged, and accommodates 380 persons with sittings. There are two parochial schools, in which Greek, Latin, French, and geometry are taught, with all the ordinary branches of education: the master of one school has a house and garden, with a salary of £34. 5., and about £25 fees; the other master has the same accommodation, with a salary of £17. 2. 6., and £15 fees. Roman stations are visible in several places, and a Roman road traverses the parish in a northern direction. Part of the ruins still remain of the church of Sibbaldbie; and in Applegarth churchyard is a very ancient ash-tree, measuring fourteen feet in girth at a yard from the ground, and called the " Gorget Tree " from having been used as a pillory: the iron staples which held the collar or gorget were visible not many years ago.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis