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Dalton, Dumfriesshire

Historical Description

DALTON, a parish, in the county of DUMFRIES; containing 658 inhabitants, of whom 54 are in the village, 6 miles (W. by S.) from Ecclesfechan. The name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon term Dal-ton, or Dal-dun, signifying "the fort in the dale", and appears to have been applied on account of a fort in the immediate neighbourhood of the village of Dalton, at which village baronial courts were held in ancient times. The parish is seven miles long from north to south, and three broad, and contains 6753 acres. It is bounded on the northeast by the river Annan, in which great quantities of salmon, grilse, sea-trout, and whiting are taken, though they are far from being so numerous as formerly, in consequence of stake-nets having been placed at the mouth of the river, in the Solway Firth. There is much variety of hill and dale in the parish, and extensive views are obtained from the more elevated situations: on the south are seen the Solway Firth, studded with vessels, and, in the distance, the Cumberland hills. The soil to a great extent is alluvial, consisting chiefly of gravel and sand, spread over the lowlands, and formed into ranges and groups of little hills. In the higher lands the soil is mainly composed of the svaste and debris of the transition rocks, but is tolerably fertile, and the transported soil on the banks of the river is exceedingly productive. The whole is cultivated, with the exception of 600 acres which are waste or pasture, and 517 acres in wood; all kinds of crops are raised, and the improved system of husbandry is adopted, though varied by different farmers in the rotation of crops. The cattle are of the black Galloway breed, and the few sheep that are reared consist of Cheviots and Leicesters. The produce of the soil is usually sent to Annan, seven miles distant, where is a weekly market. The annual value of real property in the parish is £4031. The chief mansion is that of Dormont, an elegant and commodious structure built in the year 1823, situated on the bank of the Annan, and ornamented with beautiful grounds and plantations. Another mansion, that of Rammerscales, occupies a romantic site upon a hilly range, surrounded with overhanging wood, and commanding the whole vale of Annan. A third house, called Kirkwood, and which, like both of the preceding, is of modern erection, is also entitled to notice. The principal village is Dalton, the communication of which with the nearest market-towns is convenient, not only by the parish roads, but by the great turnpike-road from Carlisle to Portpatrick, which passes through the south end of the parish.

Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Lochmaben and synod of Dumfries; patron, David Sandeman, Esq. The stipend of the minister is £171. 12., and there is a manse, with a glebe of ten acres, valued at £10 per annum. Dalton church, situated in the village, was built in 1704, and will accommodate 300 persons. In the churchyard is a handsome sepulchral monument to the Rosses of Halkhead, in the county of Renfrew, who were resident in the parish for a considerable period. There is a parochial school, at which French, the classics, and practical mathematics, with the usual branches of education, are taught; the master has a salary of £34, with a house and garden, and about £20 fees. The only relics of antiquity are, the ruins of a castle at Holmains, formerly the residence of the Carruthers; and a camp of circular form on the Almagill hills, now named Range Castle. The latter stands upon a transition rock of greywacke, and is a beautiful specimen of this class of military works; its diameter is 102 yards, and the fosse which encompasses it is nine feet deep, and twenty-seven broad. The late Sir Andrew Halliday, physician to the Duke of Clarence, afterwards William IV., was a native of the parish.

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