UK Genealogy Archives logo

Dollar, Clackmannanshire

Historical Description

DOLLAR, a town and parish, in the county of Clackmannan; containing 1562 inhabitants, of whom 1131 are in the town, 7 miles (N. E.) from Alloa. This place, the name of which, in the Gaelic language, is descriptive either of a vale at the base of a hill, or of a secluded plain, belonged as early as the fifteenth century to the Campbell family, of whose baronial residence, Castle-Campbell, there are still considerable remains. By whom or at what period this ancient fortress, which is of formidable strength, was first erected, is not distinctly known; the style of the building indicates different dates, and evidently shows that the original structure received various subsequent additions. The later portions are in a state of ruin; but the keep, the oldest part, is in rather good preservation: it is a tower of quadrilateral form; the walls are of vast thickness, and the spiral staircase forming an ascent to the roof is still tolerably entire. To the south of the keep are extensive vaults, continued far beyond the walls of the castle. From the rugged and precipitous acclivities of the height vifhereon it is built. Castle-Campbell is almost inaccessible. In the year 1556, Archibald, the fourth Earl of Argyll, resided in the castle, where he was frequently visited by the reformer, John Knox, who administered the sacrament of the Lord's Supper here previously to his departure for Geneva. The castle was burnt in 1644, by the Marquess of Montrose (after his victories at Auldearn and Alford), on his route to the south, on which occasion his troops burnt every house in the parishes of Dollar and Muckart belonging to the vassals of the Earl of Argyll. The lands are at present divided among various proprietors, of whom the principal are the Globe Insurance Company.

The PARISH is bounded on the north by the Ochil range, and is about three miles in length from north to south, and about a mile and a half in breadth, comprising nearly 4500 acres, of which 1740 are arable, 250 woodland and plantations, 3500 hill-pasture, and the remainder moss and waste. The surface, sloping gradually from the base of the hills towards the south, forms a gently inclined plain to the river Devon, by which the parish is intersected from east to west, and beyond which the ground rises by degrees to a ridge of table land of considerable breadth. The principal of the Ochils connected with Dollar parish are King's Seat, Dollar Hill, and the Wisp, none of which, however, exceed 1900 feet in elevation. At the western extremity of the range is Damiett, commanding an interesting view of the surrounding country, including Stirling, Alloa, Linlithgow, and Falkirk, and reaching to the centre of Lanarkshire, with the range of mountains from Perth on the east to Loch Katrine and Loch Lomond on the west. The river Devon flows through the vale of Dollar, in a beautifully winding stream, between banks richly wooded, and, after a course in which it forms many picturesque cascades, falls into the Forth at Cambus; it abounds with trout and par, and trout are also found in the numerous burns that flow into it from the Ochils. The bridge connecting this parish with that of Fossoway was built by Thomas Forrest, Vicar of Dollar, who suffered martyrdom in 1538, and hence it is called Vicar's Bridge. Though various, the soil is generally fertile; the crops are oats, wheat, barley, turnips, and potatoes. The system of agriculture is advancing, and the lands have been greatly improved by draining; the farm-buildings are substantial and commodious, and most of the fences are kept in good order. The hills afford excellent pasture for sheep, of which considerable numbers are reared. The plantations, which are interspersed throughout the parish, are oak, ash, elm, beech, plane, and the various kinds of fir; birch and alder appear to be indigenous, and recently American oak, chesnut, and walnut, with various other trees, have been introduced, which appear to thrive. The annual value of real property in the parish is £4313. The rocks are chiefly of two classes, namely, trap rocks and coal formation rocks; and some veins of copper and lead have been found: there are sandstone of various colours, ironstone, limestone, and coal. Some unsuccessful attempts to work the copper were made a few years since. There is a quarry in operation, producing excellent stone for building; and the coal has been extensively wrought at Dollar, near the Ochils; and at Sheardale, on the table land to the south of the Devon. In both these coalfields are found splint and main coal, in seams of three and five feet in thickness, at depths respectively of nine and eleven fathoms from the surface. The works at Dollar have been discontinued; but those at Sheardale are in full operation, producing annually about 6000 tons for the supply of the neighbourhood.

The VILLAGE or town, which has greatly increased since the establishment of the Dollar Institution, is pleasantly situated on the sloping plain in the centre of the parish, and contains several handsome houses, the residences of families connected with that establishment, in addition to those inhabited by persons employed in the works in the neighbourhood. There is a bleachfield here, belonging to Mr. Haig: in 1787 it comprised only about four acres; but the concern has been much extended, and at present not less than thirty acres are appropriated to the bleaching of linen goods, and more than sixty persons are employed, of whom nearly one-half are women. The woollen manufacture, for which a mill has been erected, is carried on to a small extent; and a manufactory of bricks and tiles has been established, in which about twenty persons are engaged. A branch office under the post-office at Alloa has been established here; and fairs, chiefly for cattle, are held annually in May and October. Facility of communication is afforded by the turnpike-road from Kinross to Stirling, which passes through the parish. For ECCLESIASTICAL purposes the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Stirling, synod of Perth and Stirling. The minister's stipend is about £160, of which a small part is paid from the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe valued at £18 per annum: patrons, the Globe Insurance Company. Dollar church, built in 1775, being insufficient for the increased population, and also in a dilapidated condition, a new church was erected in 1842, at a cost exceeding £2500, defrayed by heritors and feuars; it is a handsome structure in the later English style, with a square embattled tower, after a design by Mr. Tite, of London, and contains 600 sittings. There is a place of worship for members of the United Original Secession. The parochial schoolmaster has a salary of £25. 17., with a house and garden, and the fees average about £12 annually.

The Dollar Institution was founded in 1825, from the proceeds of a legacy by Mr. John Macnab, a merchant of London, who in 1802 bequeathed £90,000 three per cents, for the erection and endowment of a school, or some other charitable institution, for the benefit of the poor of his native parish. The trustees, originally consisting of the minister and elders of the parish, appropriated the funds to the estabhshment of a general seminary of instruction in all the various branches of learning, and have appointed six masters, to each of whom they give a minimum salary of £140 per annum, with a large house and garden, and the privilege of taking boarders. There is also a female teacher, who receives a salary of about £50, and has a house and garden. The branches taught by the masters are, the English language, writing and arithmetic, the Latin, Greek, and Oriental languages, the modern languages, mathematics, drawing, and geography. The number of scholars is about 300; and the school fees, averaging £120 per annum, are paid to the treasurer of the funds, which produce about £2000 per annum. The buildings of the institution were erected after a design by Mr. Playfair, of Edinburgh, at an expense of about £10,000, and form a spacious structure in the Grecian style, 186 feet in length and 63 feet in breadth. In the centre of the principal front is a stately portico of six columns, supporting a cornice and pediment; and the upper portion of the walls is crowned with a handsome parapet. The building contains a hall and library forty-five feet square, lighted by a cupola forty-five feet in height, sustained on fluted columns; a museum, spacious class-rooms for the different masters, and other apartments. It has a large lawn, and the grounds on the north of the academy park, consisting of several acres, have been formed into gardens and nurseries, for the instruction of the pupils in horticulture and botany. Connected with the institution is also an extensive infant school, the teacher of which has a salary of about £50, with a house and garden. Thus, altogether, there are eight teachers in the establishment. An act was passed in 1847 for increasing the number of trustees, and for incorporating them. The poor of Dollar have, besides, the interest of other charitable bequests amounting in the aggregate to £319.

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