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Dalry, Kirkcudbrightshire

Historical Description

DALRY, a parish, in the stewartry of KIRKCUDBRIGHT, 15 miles (N. N. W.) from Castle-Douglas; containing 1215 inhabitants, of whom 574 are in the village of St. John's Clachan. This parish, the name of which, signifying the "Royal Dale", is derived from a level and fertile plain called the Holm, is about fifteen miles in length, and seven miles in breadth, comprising 33,000 acres. Its surface is diversified with hills, of which some are green to their summit, and others are covered with barren heath; the proportion of arable land is very small, nearly four-fifths of the area being pasture. The river Ken, which rises in the northern extremity of the parish, forms the western boundary between it and the parish of Kells, and after a beautifully-winding course, flows through Loch Ken into the river Dee. The smaller streams are the Blackwater, the Earlston, and the Stronriggan, which run through the parish into the Ken; they all abound with trout, and in the Ken are found also pike and salmon. The chief lakes are Lochinvar, Boston, Knocksting, and Knockman, of which Lochinvar, about fifty acres in extent, is the most important; the others are all of very small dimensions, and undistinguished by any features requiring notice. In Lochinvar are the remains of the ancient castle of the Gordons, Knights of Lochinvar, and afterwards Viscounts Kenmure; and near it is a cairn, raised as a trophy on a spot where the first knight killed a wild boar that infested this part of the country. The scenery along the banks of the Ken is enriched with ancient woods of considerable extent, of which the largest is that of Earlston, formerly a hunting-seat of the Earl of Bothwell, and in which are some plantations of stately fir.

The SOIL on the Holm lands is tolerably fertile, yielding favourable crops of barley, oats, turnips, potatoes, and rye; and the hills and higher lands afford excellent pasture. The system of agriculture is improved; and the surface has been drained, and inclosed with stone dykes of sufficient height to afford shelter to the cattle. Great numbers of sheep and black-cattle are reared in the pastures. In the village is a post-office under that of Castle-Douglas; and facility of communication is maintained by good roads, of which those leading from Kirkcudbright to Ayr and Glasgow, and from Newton-Stewart to Dumfries and Edinburgh, intersect the parish. The annual value of real property in Dairy is £5768. For ECCLESIASTICAL purposes the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Kirkcudbright and synod of Galloway. The minister's stipend is £217. 12., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £20 per annum; patron, William Forbes, Esq., of Callendar. Dalry church, erected in the year 1832, is a neat structure containing 700 sittings: in the churchyard is an aisle of the old church, quite detached from the present building, and which is the burying-place of the Gordon family. There is a place of worship for members of the United Presbyterian Church. Two parochial schools, the masters of which have a yearly salary of £25 each, with a house and garden, in addition to fees, are supported by the heritors, and together attended by more than forty children. A grammar school was founded by Dr. Robert Johnson, of London, who endowed it with £1000 for the gratuitous instruction of the children of the parish; it is under the management of two masters, who have salaries of £15 a year each, and is attended by nearly 120 children. The building, erected in 1658, comprises a good dwelling-house and schoolroom, with eight acres of land attached to it. There are remains of ancient buildings on the adjoining farms of Benbreck and Manquhill, supposed to have been the residence of a branch of the Galloway family; and in various parts of the parish are intrenchments for the security of cattle during the times of the border warfare.-See Clachan, St. John's.

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