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Borgue, Kirkcudbrightshire

Historical Description

BORGUE, a parish, in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, 5 miles (S. W. by W.) from Kirkcudbright; containing, with the villages of Chapelton and Kirk-Andrews, 1060 inhabitants, of whom 47 are in the village of Borgue. This place, the name of which is descriptive of the eminence whereon the church is built, comprehends the ancient parishes of Kirk-Andrews and Sandwick, which, after the dilapidation of their churches, now in ruins, were united with it in 1670. The parish is situated on the river Dee, and bounded by the Solway Frith. It is about ten miles in length, and seven miles in extreme breadth, and comprises 12,864 acres, of which about 8000 are arable, about 250 woodland and plantations, and the remainder rough pasture. The surface of the parish is undulated, and diversified with hills of moderate elevation. The coast is indented with numerous bays, and is bold and rocky, and in some parts precipitously steep, rising in cliffs of irregular and fantastic form, towards the heads called Borness and Muncraig. These heads command an extensive view, embracing a wide expanse of sea, with a beautiful variety of vale and mountain scenery, including the course of the river Dee, the town of Kirkcudbright, the rich foliage of St. Mary's Island, the range of the Cumberland mountains, the Isle of Man, and the coast of Wigton. The more level parts of the parish, inclosed by numerous gentle hills, formed several small lakes, which have been drained, though enough are still remaining to afford an abundant supply of water; and scattered over the surface, are not less than thirty mounds, called drums, from 200 to 300 yards in length, the grounds around which are wet and marshy.

The soil is what is called free mould of various quality, well adapted for oats and barley, but not of sufficient depth for wheat: the chief crops are, oats, barley, potatoes, and turnips, with the various grasses; and the system of agriculture is improved. A considerable quantity of waste land has been rendered profitable by effective draining. The fences, mostly of stone, are kept in good repair, and the farm-buildings and offices are generally substantial and commodious. Bone-dust is used for manure, and the soil has been benefited by the judicious use of lime, by which much of the moss has been converted into good pasture land. The cattle are principally of the Galloway breed, and the sheep of the Leicester and Cheviot breeds. The annual value of real property in the parish is £9554. The rocks are mainly of the transition formation, and the principal substrata, greywacke, slate, and clay-slate; there are some quarries of stone, from which materials are raised for the fences and for common building purposes. The plantations are comparatively of modern growth; they are well managed, and in a thriving state. Earlston is a handsome mansion in the parish, beautifully situated in a richly-wooded demesne, commanding a fine view of Wigton bay and the Cumberland mountains.

The village population is agricultural and pastoral; and from the proximity of a convenient harbour, one of the farmers has built two vessels, for the exportation of grain. Salmon is found in great abundance in the river Dee, and also in the bays with which the south-western coast of the parish is indented. Ecclesiastically Borgue is within the bounds of the presbytery of Kirkcudbright and synod of Galloway: the minister's stipend is about £265, with a manse, and the glebe, including those of Kirk-Andrews and Sandwick, is valued at £40 per annum; patron, the Crown. The church, conveniently situated nearly in the centre of the parish, is an elegant cruciform structure in the early English style, with a lofty square embattled tower, erected in 1814, and containing 500 sittings: from its elevated site, it forms a conspicuous object, and is seen at a great distance. There is a place of worship for members of the Free Church. The Borgue Academy is an extension of the parochial school, under the endowment of Mr. Rainy, of the island of Dominica, who bequeathed £3000 for the promotion of education in his native parish. It is under the management of a head master, who has a salary of £34. 4. 4. in addition to the fees, and an assistant, whose salary is paid from the endowment. The usual number of scholars is 120, of whom 20 are taught gratuitously, their fees being paid from the same bequest. The poor are partly supported from Mr. Rainy's endowment, and the proceeds of small charitable bequests. There are some slight remains of ancient castles, several British forts, and various other relics of antiquity, in the parish.

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