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Bothwell, Lanarkshire

Historical Description

BOTHWELL, a parish, in the Middle ward of the county of Lanark; including the villages of Bellshill, Chapelhall, Holytown, Newarthill, and Uddingston; and containing 11,175 inhabitants, of whom 570 are in the village of Bothwell, 8 miles (S. E.) from Glasgow. The name is supposed, by some, to be derived from Both, an eminence, and wall, a castle, terms applied to the parish from the elevated situation of Bothwell Castle above the river Clyde; others derive it from two Celtic words, Both, signifying a dwelling, and ael, or hyl, a river, as descriptive of the castle in its contiguity to the river. This extensive barony, in the reign of Alexander I., was held by Walter Olifard, justiciary of Lothian, who died in 1242; it afterwards came into the possession of the distinguished family of Moray, consisting, at that date, of a tower and fortalice, with their appurtenances, and of lands in various districts, constituting a lordship. In the time of Edward I. of England, it became a place of great importance, and it appears that that monarch resided in the castle from the 17th to the 20th September, 1301. In this reign, also, it was the residence of Aylmer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, who fled hither from Loudon Hill, where he had been defeated by Wallace, in 1307, and who, in 1309, was made governor of the castles of Selkirk and Bothwell. At the time of the battle of Bannockburn, Sir Walter Fitzgilbert, ancestor of the Hamilton family, was governor; and after the death of Bruce, when Edward III. invaded Scotland, in 1336, the king was at the castle from the 18th November till the 13th December, in the course of which time fifteen writs were issued thence, in his name. It came at length to the Earl of Bothwell, from whom it descended to Archibald the Grim, Earl of Douglas; and after passing through many other hands, it reverted to the ancient family of Douglas in 1715. The collegiate church of Bothwell was founded on the 10th October, 1398, in the reign of Robert II., by the first Earl of Douglas, and was richly endowed. Most of the superiorities, with part of the property, and all the tithes, now belong to the Duke of Hamilton. Bothwell-Bridge, in the southern part of the parish, is celebrated in history for the battle fought there, in 1679, between the Covenanters and the Duke of Monmouth; and at a little distance, is Bothwell-Haugh, formerly the property of James Hamilton, who shot the regent Murray, for confiscating a part of his estate, and the barbarous treatment of his wife, on account of his having espoused the cause of Mary, Queen of Scots.

The PARISH is about eight miles and a half in extreme length, and varies in breadth from two to four miles, containing 13,600 acres. It is bounded on the north and west by the North Calder, and on the south by the South Calder and the river Clyde. The parish is comprehended by the elevated ground running along the north-eastern bank of the Clyde from Lanark to near Glasgow, which range, however, recedes from the river in traversing this district, and leaves an intermediate plain, till it again inclines to the stream in the neighbourhood of Bothwell-Bridge. Near this it forms a piece of table-land about one mile in extent, running westward, at the head of which are situated the church and village, about 120 feet above the level of the sea, and commanding to the cast a beautiful view of the vale of Clyde. From the eastern boundary of the parish, the land falls rapidly to a distance of nearly four miles, after which a flat of about equal length succeeds, declining southward towards the Calder and the Clyde; and the western extremity of this tract sinks gradually into the extensive plain on which Glasgow is situated. The Clyde, the chief river, enters the parish at Bothwell-Haugh, and forms a majestic stream, the banks of which are famed for their diversified and picturesque scenery; it is 120 yards broad at Blantyre-Works, but at Bothwell-Bridge contracts itself to a span of seventy-one yards. The North and South Calder, after running separately for about fifteen miles, form each a confluence with the Clyde; they flow between banks of sandstone rock, beautifully abrupt in many parts, and affording well-wooded and romantic scenery. Of these rivers, the Clyde was formerly celebrated for the abundance of its salmon, but it has now greatly fallen off in this respect, very few fish comparatively visiting it, a circumstance owing to many causes, one of which is said to be the impediment presented to their progress by the dam over the river between Blantyre Mill and Bothwell.

The prevailing SOIL is clay, resting upon a tilly subsoil, and frequently, and in various proportions, mixed with loam and sand. In some places the soil consists of fine light mould, and in the vicinity of the rivers is a fertile alluvial deposit. The whole land is productive, with small exceptions of moss and moor: two-fifths are in pasture, and grain of all kinds, and of good quality, is raised; potatoes, turnips, peas, &c., are also cultivated, with some flax, though this last is not grown so largely as formerly. Considerable attention is given to dairy-farming, there being no less than 1000 cows kept, most of which are native varieties of the Ayrshire breed. The horses are in general likewise of a good stock. The annual value of real property in the parish is £35,207, The predominating rock is the red sandstone, which lies over the whole coal-bed in this district, at a distance of twenty or thirty fathoms above the coal; it is bright in colour, and, though sometimes soft and friable, generally well adapted for building. There are several quarries of good freestone of a red colour near the Clyde, and in the upper parts of the parish white freestone is found. Coal abounds in every direction, and the mineral is chiefly procured from four large seams, extending throughout the parish, in which the Ell-coal, Pyotshaw, main, and splint coal succeed each other, the last being best suited for the smelting of iron. The average amount of coal obtained is estimated in value at £30,000 annually, and of ironstone, £20,000: the annual rentals paid to the proprietors by the several tacks men of the collieries amount to £9500, and the rentals of the ironstone to £2500. The principal manufactures in the parish are of pig-iron and steel, the former of which is produced at the Monkland Company's works at Chapelhall, to a great extent: in the same establishment are mills and forges in which 400 tons of malleable iron are manufactured weekly; about 100 tons of steel are manufactured annually, thirty tons of which are made into files, and upwards of 2400 persons, including miners, are employed at the works. Other similar works are carried on in the parish. Post-offices are established at Bothwell, Bellshill, and Holytown, and the lines of the Caledonian railway company afford great facilities of intercourse.

The chief mansion is Bothwell Castle, a simple yet commodious residence, built of the same red sandstone as the old castle, and consisting of an extensive front and two wings; the apartments are ornamented with several excellent portraits. The grounds are elegantly laid out, and the neighbouring scenery, comprising the waters of the Clyde and its picturesque banks, is ennobled by the ancient and venerable ruin of the castle, in which the chief of the English nobility were confined after the battle of Bannockburn. Woodhall, on the bank of the North Calder, is a spacious mansion in the style of the age of Louis XIV.; valuable pictures adorn some of the apartments, and the entrance-hall contains several French cuirasses and helmets of brass, brought from the field of Waterloo. The mansions of Cairnbroe and St. Enoch's Hall, both on the North Calder; Cleland; Cartin; Jerviston; and Douglas Park, are all superior residences, standing in the midst of interesting scenery; and Bothwell Park, a handsome and commanding mansion, has a fine view of the fertile haughs of Hamilton, and of the vale of Clyde.

For ECCLESIASTICAL purposes the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Hamilton and synod of Glasgow and Ayr: the stipend of the minister is £282. 14. 8., with a good manse, and a glebe valued at £36 per annum; patron, the Duke of Hamilton. The church, opened in 1833, is a superior building in the pointed style of architecture, and measures seventy-two feet by forty-five, containing 1200 sittings; the cost of the building was £4200, and it has a good bell, provided by the parish at an expense of £150, and a clock which cost £133, raised by voluntary subscription. A church was some years ago erected at Holytown, late a quoad sacra parish; and there are meeting-houses at Bellshill and Newarthill belonging to the United Presbyterian Synod. The members of the Free Church have likewise two places of worship, one at Bothwell, the other at Holytown. Three parochial schools are supported, situated respectively at Bothwell, Holytown, and Newarthill, the master of the first of which has a salary of £34. 4. 4., a house, and £10 fees; the others have £8. 11. each: the classics, mathematics, and all the usual branches of education are taught.

The chief relic of antiquity in the parish is the magnificent ruin of the ancient castle, situated near the modern castle, on the summit of a verdant slope, in the midst of beautiful woods and pleasure-grounds. The old church, which was originally the choir of the collegiate church (the most famous of the five collegiate churches in Lanarkshire), is a very fine specimen of ancient architecture; it was built about 1398, and disused as a church in 1828. Bothwell bridge, across the Clyde, is of great antiquity, though the age is not precisely known; it originally consisted of four arches, each spanning forty-five feet, and measuring fifteen feet in breadth, but it has been considerably enlarged within these few years, by which an additional width of road is obtained. There is another bridge, supposed to be of Roman construction, across the South Calder, consisting of one arch of semi-circular form, high and narrow, without parapets; it is thought to have been on the line of the great Roman Watling-street, which ran through this part of the country, along the north-east bank of the Clyde. Chalybeate springs are very numerous in the district, and many of them are strongly sulphuretted. The celebrated Joanna Baillie was born in the manse, during the incumbency of her father, the Rev. James Baillie.

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