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Castle-Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire

Historical Description

CASTLE-DOUGLAS, a market-town and burgh of barony, in the parish of KELTON, stewartry of KIRKCUDBRIGHT, 10 miles (N. N. E.) from Kirkcudbright, and 89 (S. S. W.) from Edinburgh; containing 1848 inhabitants. This place, which is situated on a gentle acclivity rising from the margin of Loch Carlinwark, originally consisted only of a few cottages called "Causeway End", and subsequently "Carlinwark ". It derives its present name from the ancient castle of Threave, formerly the baronial seat of the Douglases, and the last of the numerous fortresses which held out for that family, about the middle of the fifteenth century. The rapid increase of the present town, and its former manufacturing importance, arose from the introduction of the cotton manufacture by its proprietor, Sir William Douglas. This source of employment continued for a time, and added greatly to its population; but the subsequent introduction of the power-loom rendered it impracticable to carry on the works with advantage, in a locality destitute of an adequate supply either of coal or of water, and the manufacture was consequently abandoned. The place, notwithstanding, from its situation in the centre of the county, and its facilities of intercourse, continued to acquire an increasing degree of agricultural and commercial importance; and became, in a very short time, the principal mart of the surrounding districts.

The TOWN is situated on the great road from Carlisle to Portpatrick, and consists of several spacious streets, intersecting each other at right angles, and forming handsome squares, the internal areas of which are laid out in gardens. The houses are well built; anti there are several villas in the immediate vicinity, which abounds with pleasing scenery. Gas was introduced into the town by a company in February 1844. A public library is supported, containing about 1200 volumes; and there is also a circulating library. The shops are remarkably elegant, and are well stored with various kinds of merchandise; the post-office is one of the most important in the south of Scotland, and has fourteen branch offices under its control, all of which have a daily delivery. There are three branch banks in the town, namely, of the British Linen Company, the National Bank, and the Bank of Scotland. A savings' bank was opened in 1841, and has now deposits to a considerable amount. The market is on Monday, and is abundantly supplied with grain of all kinds, and other agricultural produce; large numbers of black-cattle, sheep, and pigs are constantly exposed to sale. Fairs are held on the 11th of February if on Monday, otherwise on the Monday following, for horses, on the 23rd of March, for horses and for hiring servants; the first Monday in April, for hogs; the Monday before the second Friday in August, for lambs; the 23rd of September, for horses and for hiring servants; and the Monday after the 13th of November (O.S.), for horses. The fairs were formerly held at Kelton Hill, from which place they were all removed to the town, with the exception of one still held there, in June.

In 1790 the town was erected into a burgh of barony by a royal charter, which was confirmed and extended by a charter elated 1829, and under which the government was vested in a provost, two bailies, and seven councillors, who are elected triennially, on the first Wednesday in September. The magistrates, whose jurisdiction extends over the whole of the burgh, hold courts for the adjudication of civil causes to any amount every Tuesday, and for cases of petty delinquency, and matters connected with the police, as occasion may require; they are assisted by the town-clerk, who acts as assessor. The number of burgesses is about ninety, and their qualification is by a perpetual feu right, or by having a lease, for a hundred years, of a piece of ground within the burgh on which a house has heen built. The town-house is a modern building, with a tower and a clock, and was presented to the burgh by the late Sir William Douglas. There is a place of worship for Reformed Presbyterians, and the recent seceders from the Establishment have erected a Free church here.-See KELTON.

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