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Dolphinton, Lanarkshire

Historical Description

DOLPHINTON, a parish, in the Upper ward of the county of Lanark, 6 miles (S. W.) from Biggar; containing 305 inhabitants. This place, anciently Dolphinstown, derived its name from Dolfine, elder brother of Cospatrick, first Earl of Dunbar; who in the reign of Alexander I. acquired possession of the manor, which, after passing through numerous families, several of whom were eminently distinguished, was divided among various proprietors. The parish is about three miles in length, from east to west, and two miles and a half in breadth; and its surface, which has a gentle acclivity, is tolerably level, with the exception of the hills of Dolphinton and Keir, the former 1550, and the latter 900, feet above the level of the sea. The principal stream is the Medwin, which near Garveld House divides into two channels, one flowing eastward into the Tweed, and the other westward into the river Clyde. There is also a small rivulet which, after receiving several tributary rills, falls into the Lyne. The scenery is generally pleasing, but the want of wood renders it less picturesque; great numbers of young plantations, however, have latterly been formed, which will soon contribute much to its embellishment.

The SOIL is generally a dry friable loam, intermixed with sand; in some parts, a kind of clay with portions of moss. The number of acres is estimated at 3668, whereof 2221 are arable, 444 in woods and plantations, and the remainder, of which probably 300 acres might be rendered arable, are rough pasture and waste. In this parish the chief crops are oats and turnips, and barley, wheat, and potatoes are also grown. The system of agriculture is improved; considerable progress has been made in draining, and much land heretofore totally unproductive has been converted into excellent meadow, producing luxuriant crops of hay. Attention is paid to the management of the dairy; about 200 milch-cows, chiefly of the Ayrshire breed, are kept in the several farms, and about 100 head of young cattle are annually reared. About 1000 sheep, also, are annually fed, the greater number of which are of the black-faced, and a few of the Cheviot breed. The annual value of real property in the parish is £1988. The substrata are whinstone, sandstone, and freestone. Some indications of lead-ore induced an attempt in search of that mineral, but it was not attended with success; fire-clay is obtained, and in the southern extremity of the parish is found a kind of stone well adapted for ovens. Dolphinton House and Newholm are handsome mansions of modern erection. The road from Edinburgh to Biggar intersects the parish.

For ECCLESIASTICAL purposes the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Biggar, synod of Lothian and Tweeddale. The stipend of the incumbent is £158, of which above two-thirds are received from the exchequer: the manse was put into thorough repair and enlarged in 1828, and the glebe comprises about fourteen acres, valued at £27. 10. per annum: patron, Lord Douglas. Dolphinton church is a substantial edifice, but altogether inadequate to the wants of the population; it appears to have been built about two centuries since. The parochial school is well conducted; the master has a salary of £26, with a house and garden, and the fees average about £15. He receives, also, the rent of four acres of land bequeathed by William Brown about 1658, and now producing £8 per annum; the interest of 1000 merks by the same benefactor, for the gratuitous instruction of poor children; and the annual sum of 100 merks for instructing twenty children, bequeathed by Mr. Bowie in 1759. Mr. Bowie also bequeathed 100 merks a year for the education of any youth of promising genius, or, in failure of such, to be appropriated to the apprenticing of children; fifty merks a year, either to the poor, or for the purchase of school books for children; and fifty merks a year to the minister for managing the property, which consists of lands at Stonypath, purchased by the testator for 8000 merks, and given in trust to the minister and Kirk Session for the above purposes. The poor have the interest of 200 merks left by William Brown about 1658. On the summit of Keir hill are some remains of an ancient camp in good preservation; and there are similar remains at other places in the parish. Within less than a mile south-west of the manse, is a tumulus of stones, about four feet in height, surrounded by a circle of upright stones inclosing an area twenty paces in diameter. Near this spot was found an ornament of fine gold, resembling part of a horse's bit, with about forty gold beads. Stone coffins are frequently found in various parts of the parish, of rude and ancient construction; aud numerous sepulchral remains.

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