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Dalziel, Lanarkshire

Historical Description

DALZIEL, a parish, in the Middle ward of the county of LANARK, 2½ miles (E. N. E.) from Hamilton; containing, with the villages of Motherwell and Windmill-Hill, 1457 inhabitants. The parish of Dalziel is by some writers supposed to have derived that appellation, signifying "the white meadow", from the pecuLar appearance of the lands before they were brought into cultivation. It is said to have given name to the family upon whom the barony of Dalziel was bestowed at a period which cannot now be accurately determined. In 1365, Sir Robert Dalzell obtained a grant of the barony of Selkirk from David Bruce, whose firm adherent he had been in his troubles, and to whom he manifested the truest loyalty during the king's captivity in England. He appears to have subsequently incurred the displeasure of his sovereign, and the estate of Dalziel was given to the family of Sandilands, or, as some say, that of Fleming. By the marriage, however, of a member of the new family to the heir-male of Sir Robert Dalzell, the estate returned to the original proprietors, and continued in their sole possession until the death of an owner who left two daughters. One of these conveyed her share by marriage to the nearest heir of the family, and eventually the whole estate was once more held by the Dalzells, till a branch of the Hamilton family came in the place of these ancient owners.

The PARISH is bounded on the north and west by the river Calder, and on the south-west by the river Clyde. It is about four miles in length and three in breadth, comprising an area of about 2880 acres, of which about one-tenth is pasture, 520 acres woodland and plantations, and the remainder arable. The surface rises gradually from the Clyde and the Calder towards the centre, where it forms a flat ridge, averaging 200 feet in elevation above the sea; and the parish is diversified with several glens of romantic appearance, one of which, called Dalziel glen, is about two miles in length. The river Clyde is subject to great inundations, to prevent which an embankment has been constructed. The Calder is here about sixty feet in breadth; it takes its rise in the neighbouring parish of Shotts, and falls into the Clyde near the extremity of this parish. The Dalziel burn has its source in the parish of Cambusnethan, and, flowing through the glen of Dalziel, falls into the Clyde. In general the soil is a stiff clay, but on the banks of the rivers a rich loam; the crops are oats, wheat, beans, and peas. There are several large dairy-farms; the cows are chiefly of the Ayrshire breed, and a few horses and sheep are reared. On the banks of the Clyde are some orchards, the principal of which produces on an average about £600 per annum; an improved method of pruning has been introduced with success, and great attention is paid to the cultivation of the trees. The plantations consist of fir, larch, oak, ash, elm, lime, and plane: a fine avenue nearly a mile in length extends along the banks of the Clyde, and near the mansion-house of Dalziel is a venerable oak, measuring twenty-one feet in girth at a distance of nearly five feet from the ground. The annual value of real property in the parish is £4983.

The substratum of the lands is principally clay-slate, interspersed with freestone of various quality, among which is found a seam of flagstone. A quarry of hard-grained freestone has been opened near Windmill-Hill, which is wrought into mantel-pieces, and is susceptible of a high polish; and near the village of Craignenk is a valuable quarry of flagstone, the stone of a reddish colour, and varying from one-quarter of an inch to five inches in thickness. Coal abounds in the parish, which is situated nearly in the centre of the coal district of the Clyde; the only mine in operation is near Coursington. Dalziel House, erected in 1649 by an ancestor of the present proprietor, is beautifully situated on the north side of the Dalziel burn, and in the most picturesque part of the romantic glen to which that stream gives name. The building has all the character of an ancient baronial residence, and attached to it is a tower about fifty feet high, the walls of which are eight feet thick; the several apartments are commodious, and in the dining-room are numerous family portraits, including portraits of Sir John Hamilton, of Orbiston, and Lord Westhall, one of the senators of the College of Justice. There is a small foundry for the manufacture of spades, in which about fifteen persons are employed. Means of communication with the neighbouring market-towns are afforded by good roads, among which is one from Glasgow to Lanark; the Wishaw and Coltness railway passes for nearly three miles through the parish, and is joined at Motherwell by the Clydesdale Junction railway. Both the lines of railway are in connexion with the great Caledonian company.

Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Hamilton, synod of Glasgow and Ayr, and in the patronage of J. G. C. Hamilton, Esq. The minister's stipend is £155. 11., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £50 per annum. Dalziel church, dedicated to St. Patrick, was in the twelfth century granted with its revenues to the abbey of Paisley, and subsequently to the dean and chapter of Glasgow, in whose possession it continued to the Reformation. The ancient building, which was of the same date as the cathedral of Glasgow, was taken down about ten years after the erection of the present church, which was built in 1789, and is a neat cruciform structure. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school affords a good education; the master has a salary of £34, with £18 fees, and a house and garden.

The western branch of the Roman Watling-street entered this parish at Meadowhead, and passed through it in a direction from east to west. Till within the last twenty or thirty years a considerable portion of it remained, in a high state of preservation; but it has been obliterated by the construction of the modern road from Glasgow to Lanark, and no trace of it can be at present discerned. Near the north-west boundary of the parish is a very ancient bridge over the river Calder, still called the Roman bridge; it consists of a single arch of great height, is about twelve feet in breadth, and without parapets. This bridge is supposed to have formed a continuation of the Roman road into the parish of Bothwell. Close to it was a Roman camp, which has for many years been destroyed; and nearly in the centre of the parish, on the steep bank of the river Clyde, are the remains of another, of which portions of the ancient fosses may still be traced. On the site of this camp, about a century since, the proprietor erected a summerhouse, round which he formed terrace-walks and plantations, and from the summit of which a fine panoramic view of the surrounding country is obtained, combining many of the most interesting features of Scottish scenery. Near the site of Nisbet House, is one of the stones at which the ancient barons dispensed justice to their vassals; it is of heptagonal form, and one of the faces is ornamented with the representation of a sword. There were formerly two others in the parish, near the site of the Roman road; they have both been removed.

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