BLANTYRE, a parish, in the Middle ward of the county of Lanark; including the villages of Auchinraith, Auchintiber, Barnhill, Blantyre, Blantyre-Works, Hunthill, and Stonefield; and containing 3047 inhabitants, of whom 1464 are in the village of Blantyre-Works, and 264 in that of Blantyre, or Kirkton, 3 miles (N. W.) from Hamilton, and 8¼ (S. S. E.) from Glasgow. The lands formerly belonged to the Dunbars, of Enteckin, in which family they remained till the Reformation, when they were purchased by Walter Stewart, son of Lord Minto, treasurer of Scotland, upon whom, on the suppression of monastic establishments, the ancient priory of this place was bestowed by James VI., who also created him Lord Blantyre. The priory is said to have been founded by Alexander II., as a cell to the abbey of Jedburgh, or, according to Spottiswoode, of Holyrood House; and Walter, who was prior at that time, was one of the commissioners appointed to negotiate for the ransom of David Bruce, the Scottish king, who had been made prisoner by the English, in the battle of Durham, in 1346. The remains of the priory, which are very inconsiderable, are situated on the summit of a high rock on the bank of the river Clyde, opposite to the ruins of Bothwell Castle; and little more than one of the vaults, which is still entire, with two gables, and a portion of the outer walls, is remaining. The buildings were of red granite; and the ruins form, in combination with the castle, an interesting feature in the scenery.
The parish extends for six miles in length, from north to south, and varies greatly in breadth, not averaging more than one mile in the whole; it comprises 4170 acres, of which, excepting 200 acres of moss land and plantations, all is arable. The principal rivers are, the Clyde, which enters the parish at a short distance below Bothwell bridge, and forms a boundary between this place and the parish of Bothwell for about three miles, flowing majestically between lofty banks richly clothed with wood; and the Calder, which enters the parish near Rottenburn, and, after forming several picturesque falls, in its course along the western boundary, flows into the Clyde near Daldowie. The tributary streams are, the Redburn, which has its source in the lands of Park farm, and joins the Clyde near Bothwell bridge; and two other rivulets, one rising in the lands of Shott, and one at Newmain, which also fall into the river Clyde. Salmon are taken in abundance near the mill-dam of Blantyre. The scenery is, in many parts, exceedingly beautiful; the parish is generally well wooded, and diversified with gently undulating eminences and fertile dales. The soil is various, being in some parts a fine rich loam, in others a strong clay, and in others sand, with some portions of moss; the system of agriculture is improved, and good crops of various kinds of grain are raised. Great improvement has been made in draining the lands, and a considerable tract called Blantyre moor, formerly a common, has been subdivided, and brought into cultivation; the farm houses and buildings are of superior order. The rateable annual value of the parish is £8280. Peat for fuel is cut on Edge Moss, and coal, of which the veins are but very thin, is worked at Calderside and Rottenburn; limestone of a quality well adapted for building, and for agricultural purposes, is wrought in the southern part of the parish. Ironstone, also, is abundant, and at Black-Craig, on the borders of the parish, not less than seventeen different seams are seen, superincumbent on each other; the ironstone is worked in the parish of Kilbride, where are the openings of the mines, but the strata lie principally in this parish.
The principal village is situated on an eminence over-looking the river Clyde, and in the midst of a beautiful country, embellished with timber of venerable and stately growth. It appears to have attained its present importance and extent, from the introduction of the cotton manufacture by Messrs. Dale and Monteith, who, in 1785, erected a mill for the spinning of cotton-yarn, and, in the year 1791, another for the making of mule twist. In 1813, Messrs. Monteith and Company erected a weaving factory, in which the number of looms has, since that time, increased from 450 to nearly 600; and around these works, giving profitable employment to a large number of the population, the present village has been erected. In the two spinning-mills, which are both worked by water power, are 30,000 spindles, affording occupation to about 500 persons; and in the weaving establishment, the works of which are driven partly by water power, and partly by steam, are 600 power-looms, in the management of which more than 300 persons are regularly employed. In connexion with these works, is an establishment for dyeing cotton-yarn with the Turkey red. The total number of persons employed in all the departments, is nearly 1000, of whom more than 500 are females; the houses in the village are comfortable and neatly built, and it is watched and cleansed by persons paid by the company, who have also built a public washing-house, and appropriated a large bleach green, on the banks of the Clyde, for the use of the inhabitants, who are supplied with hard and soft water, for domestic use, by force-pumps at the factory. A library has been for some years established, which contains an extensive collection of useful volumes.
The parish is in the presbytery of Hamilton and synod of Glasgow and Ayr; the minister's stipend is about £184, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £16 per annum. The parish church, which is not in good repair, was erected in 1793, and will only hold about 300 persons. There is a chapel at the Blantyre Mills, erected by the company for the accommodation of the work-people employed there, and containing sittings for 400 persons; the minister's stipend is paid, one-half by the proprietors of the works, and the other half from the seat-rents. A place of worship has been erected for members of the Free Church. The parochial school affords a liberal education; the salary of the master is £26, with £19 fees. There is also a school for the children of the workpeople at the mills, to which purpose the chapel is applied, during the week; the master is appointed by the company, who give him a house and garden rent free, and a salary of £20. Ancient urns have been, at various times, discovered in several parts of the parish; some of these were inclosed in a kind of kistvaen, covered by heaps of loose stones, and contained ashes, with remnants of half-burnt bones scattered round them. Within the last few years, a stone coffin was discovered, containing an urn of baked earth, in which was a skull with the teeth nearly entire and in good preservation; and fragments of six larger, and more richly ornamented, urns were found in another part of the same field, which is now called "Archers Croft." Stone coffins have also been found at Lawhill and Greenhall, and other places situated within the limits of the parish. At Calderside, is a large hill called the Camp-Know, of conical form, 600 feet in circumference at the base, and surrounded by a moat; and near it is a kind of subterraneous cavern of flags. At Park farm is a fine spring, which has long been in high repute for the cure of scorbutic affections and diseases of the eye; it is strongly impregnated with sulphur, combined with muriate and sulphate of lime, and was formerly much resorted to by numerous invalids from Glasgow and its neighbourhood. There are also various mineral springs on the banks of the river Calder. The late John Miller, Esq., professor of law in the university of Glasgow, resided for some years at Milheugh, in the parish, and was buried in the churchyard.