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Eaglesham, Renfrewshire

Historical Description

EAGLESHAM, a parish, in the county of Renfrew, 9 miles (S.) from Glasgow; containing 2428 inhabitants, of whom 1801 are in the village. This place, which is of considerable antiquity, is supposed to have derived its name, of Celtic origin, from the erection of its ancient church. It formed part of the district of Mearns, and, together with other lands, was granted by David I., King of Scotland, to Walter, son of Alan, the first of the Stuarts, from whom Robert de Montgomerie, of Oswestry in England, procured the manor of Eaglesham about the middle of the twelfth century. After the accession of the Stuarts to the Scottish throne, it was held by Robert's descendants, John de Montgomerie, who also obtained the baronies of Eglinton and Ardrossan, by marriage with Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Hugh Eglinton by Egidia, sister of Robert II.; and this John de Montgomerie, with the ransom of Harry Percy, surnamed Hotspur, whom he had taken prisoner at the battle of Otterburn in 1388, erected here the castle of Polnoon, of which there are still some vestiges remaining. The parish was almost exclusively the property of the Montgomerie family, and is now in the possession of Allan and James Gilmour, Esqrs. It is situated in the south-east angle of the county, and measures about six miles from north to south, and five and a half from east to west. Eaglesham is bounded on the north by the river Earn, which separates it from the parish of Mearns; on the south by the parish of Loudon; on the east by the river White Cart, which divides it from the parishes of East Kilbride and Carmunnock; and on the west by the parish of Fenwick. Its surface is generally elevated, and is intersected from east to west by a ridge of hills, the highest of which vary from 1000 to 1200 feet above the level of the sea, and, with the exception of one or two hills in Lochwinnoch, are the loftiest in the county. The sources of the river Cart and its numerous tributaries are within the parish: this river, which flows in a northern course to Cathcart and Langside, then takes a western direction towards Paisley, whence it deviates towards the north, and receives the waters of the Black Cart at Inchinnan Bridge previously to its influx into the Clyde. The surface is also diversified with lakes, and certain reservoirs for the supply of different mills cover nearly 240 acres of ground, and are frequented by various species of aquatic fowl.

The whole number of acres is estimated at 15,500, of which about 6100 are arable, nearly 4000 meadow and pasture, about sixty woodland and plantations, and the remainder moorland, pasture, and moss. On the banks of the Cart, and towards the west, the soil, though light, is very fertile, and produces excellent crops of oats, barley, and potatoes; but the inhabitants of the high lands rely more on the pasturage of sheep and the rearing of cattle than on the cultivation of the ground. The system of agriculture has been greatly improved; much progress has been made in draining, and considerable quantities of waste land have been reclaimed. Many of the farmhouses and offices have been rebuilt on a more commodious plan, and all the recent improvements in husbandry have been adopted; the dairy-farms are in general well managed, and the produce finds a ready sale in the market of Glasgow. The cattle are chiefly of the Ayrshire breed, of which about 1000 cows are pastured on the farms; and about 5000 sheep are maintained on the moorland pastures: few horses are reared, the greater number being purchased in the spring for agricultural purposes, and sold again in autumn. The annual value of real property in the parish is £11,800. The moors abound with grouse and other species of game, and afford a fine field of "sport" to the members of the Clydesdale Coursing Club, the hares being numerous and swift, and requiring greater energy and perseverance in the chase than those in the more lowland countries. Trout and various other kinds of fish abound in the lakes, and a peculiar species found in the Clyde and the Avon was originally introduced by Lady Anne Hamilton from this vicinity. In this parish the plantations are chiefly the common Scotch fir, which thrives admirably, and larch, for which the soil is better adapted than for many other sorts; hard-woods of different kinds are to be seen in the lower grounds and more sheltered situations. The rocks in the higher lands are generally of the trap species, intermixed in some places with porphyritic claystone, and abounding in others with jasper, chalcedony, blue quartz, calcareous spar, and felspar containing crystals.

Alexander, the eighth Earl of Eglinton, obtained for the inhabitants a charter for a weekly market and an annual fair, in 1672; both these have been discontinued, but there is still a fair held on the last Thursday in August, when horse-races take place. The village, which was laid out on a new plan by the tenth earl, is about one-third of a mile in length, and consists of two ranges of houses, between which is a spacious green, varying from 100 to 250 yards in breadth, disposed in lawns, interspersed with trees, and divided in the centre by a streamlet of clear water. Behind each of the houses is a rood of garden; and the inhabitants have also seventy acres of ground rent free, which are laid out in meadows and plantations. The village is lighted with gas. The manufacture of silk was formerly considerable, employing sixty-three looms in the village; but that branch of trade has been superseded by cotton-weaving, for which materials are provided by the manufacturers of Glasgow and Paisley, who thus afford employment to nearly 400 persons, resident in the village. At the higher extremity of the rivulet that flows through the green is an extensive cotton-mill, the property of Messrs. Mc Lean and Brodie, of Glasgow, in which are 15,312 spindles, set in motion by a water-wheel of cast-iron, forty-five feet in diameter, and equivalent to the power of fifty horses. It gives occupation to 200 persons, of whom more than one-half are females. There is also a mill at Mill-hall, employing 620 spindles, and nearly seventy persons, of whom about one-third are females; this establishment is chiefly engaged in spinning shuttle-cord for power-looms, and wicks for candles, and the machinery is impelled by a water-wheel of twenty-four horse power. In the parish is likewise a corn-mill in which about 3000 bolls of grain are ground annually. A bank is established, and there is a post-office with a good delivery. Facility of intercourse with Glasgow, Paisley, Hamilton, and other towns is maintained by excellent roads, of which seven miles of turnpike pass through the parish. Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Glasgow, synod of Glasgow and Ayr: the minister's stipend is £278. 14., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £25 per annum; patron, Allan Gilmour, Esq., of Eaglesham. The church, erected in 1788, is a neat structure of octagonal form, containing 550 sittings. There are places of worship for the United Presbyterian Synod and Reformed Presbyterians. The parochial school is attended by about 120 scholars; the master has a salary of £30, with a house and garden, and the fees average £50 per annum. There is another school, in which sixty children are taught. Robert Pollok, author of the Course of Time, and equally remarkable for depth of piety and the beauty of his poetry, was a native of the parish.

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