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Cardross, Dumbartonshire

Historical Description

CARDROSS, a parish, in the county of DUMBARTON; including the villages of West Bridgend and Renton, and the hamlet of Geilstone-Bridgc, and containing 4416 inhabitants, of whom 51 are in the hamlet of Cardross, 3¾ miles (W. N. W.) from Dumbarton, on the road to Helensburgh. The name was derived from a compound word in the Celtic language, signifying "the point of the moorish ridge"; the ancient site of the church was on the point formed by the rivers Leven and Clyde, and the term was probably not inappropriate to the original aspect of the place. Cardross appears to have escaped those bloody feuds which were so common in the surrounding country, not from any security in its position, but from the peaceful disposition of its inhabitants, who, though sometimes visited by predatory bands, furnished no pretext by a sanguinary resentment for the renewal of hostilities. It was the seat of the retirement of Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, during the last years of his life, when he frequently indulged in the pleasures of the chase. At the first milestone from Dumbarton along the Cardross road, is a wooded knoll that still bears the name of Castlehill; and though no remains are now to be seen of any building, it is probable that Bruce resided in a castle once standing here. He ended his days at Cardross in 1329.

The PARISH, which is situated on the northern bank of the Clyde, is eight miles in extreme length, and varies in breadth from one and a half to three miles. It contains about 9600 acres, of which one-half are cultivated, and about 150 acres are under plantation. The surface rises from the Clyde by a gentle ascent till it reaches its highest elevation, at the summits of the Kiliter and Carman, in the northern extremity of the parish, about 900 feet above the sea. The shore is marked by the prominent headland of Ardmore, which rises in the Clyde to a height of forty feet, and is connected with the parish by an isthmus running from the flat piece of land by which the rock is surrounded. On the banks of the river Clyde, which is between one and two miles in breadth, and in the interior, the soil is generally a light thin mould; on the higher grounds the soil has a greater depth, and rests chiefly on a tilly subsoil. In the vicinity of the vale of the river Leven, in the south-eastern part of the parish, there is a rich loam, with alluvial deposits. Upon the estates of Dalquhurn and Camis-Eskan are plantations of larch, fir, and oak, in a flourishing state; and the lands of Mildovan, Kilmahew, Kipperminshock, and Ardoch have infant plantations of promising appearance. The progress of agricultural improvement, during the present century, has been very considerable; much waste land has been reclaimed, and the land under cultivation has been benefited by draining and manuring. The live stock consists principally of cattle and sheep, purchased in the Highlands, and which graze upon the extensive tracts of moorland. In the lower parts of the parish, tillage and dairy-farming are to a great extent united, the latter branch having been much encouraged by the introduction of the best Ayrshire cows, and by the cultivation of the most approved bulbous-rooted green crops. The annual value of real property in the parish is £14,375. The prevailing rock is freestone, which in the eastern district is reddish and crumbling, but in other places of a light grey cast and better consistence, and mixed with breccia. The promontory of Ardmore is dark red breccia, with pebbles of quartz; and in the neighbourhood of the Kiliter range are beds of jasper, lying between breccia and sandstone. In some of the glens limestone is found, but the sand and magnesia with which it is mixed render it unfit for agricultural use, although it has been occasionally wrought and burnt to a small extent. The mansions in the parish include the ancient houses of Ardoch and Kilmahew, both now abandoned, and Carnis-Eskan, the more modern structures are Keppoch, Ardmore, and Bloomhill. At Dalquhurn works, in the vicinity of Renton, calico-printing, bleaching, and dyeing are carried on, affording employment to between 250 and 300 persons. There is an inconsiderable salmon-fishery on the river Leven, and trout and salmon are taken at Ardmore and Colgrain; but the Yair fisheries on the Clyde, once so celebrated, and confirmed by several royal charters, are now almost unproductive. A fair is held on the first Wednesday in June, for black-cattle, horses, and sheep.

Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Dumbarton and synod of Glasgow and Ayr: the minister's stipend is £ 155. 8. 9., with a manse, and a glebe of the annual value of £30; the patronage is in the Crown. Cardross church, a very neat structure, was built in 1827, and accommodates above 800 persons. There is a missionary station at Renton connected with the Established Church, and places of worship are maintained in the parish in connexion with the Free Church and United Presbyterian Synod. A parochial school is supported, in which Latin is taught, with the usual branches of education: the master has a salary of £34, about £20 fees, and £15 from a piece of ground granted in the seventeenth century by the family of Napier; also five and a half bolls of barley, and the interest of £100. There are two public subscription libraries, one in Renton, containing 1000 volumes, and the other at Geilstone, with 400 volumes, also a Sunday-school library of 200 volumes. The poor have about £250 a year, the proceeds of a bequest left by Mrs. Jane Moore. Near Renton stands the ancient house of Dalquhurn, the birthplace of Dr. Tobias Smollett; and near the house a Tuscan column has been erected, which bears an elegant Latin inscription in memory of the novelist, who died at Leghorn in 1771.

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