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Glencairn, Dumfriesshire

Historical Description

GLENCAIRN, a parish, in the county of Dumfries, 13½ miles (N. W. by W.) from Dumfries; containing, with the villages of Dunreggan, Kirkland, and Minnyhive, 2094 inhabitants. This village is about fifteen miles long, and three and a half broad, and contains about 35,000 acres; it is bounded on the north by Tynron parish, on the south by Dunscore, on the east by Keir, and on the west by the parishes of Balmaclellan and Dairy. The surface is diversified by numerous hills and valleys, by wood and water. The hills extend in ranges from east to west, rising from 1000 to 1500 feet above the level of the sea; the higher parts are covered with heath, but the rest generally affords good green pasture. The valleys are highly cultivated, and produce crops of grain. From its proximity to the high hills on the west, the parish has a moist atmosphere; and it suffers frequently from violent inundations caused by copious rains, which bring great mischief to the low grounds. There is a lake about three miles in circumference and four or five fathoms deep, abounding with pike and a large kind of trout; the water has a black hue, on account of the mossy ground in the neighbourhood. Three streams, namely, the Castlefairn, the Craigdarroch, and the Dalwhat, rise in the western hills, and meeting a little below the village of Minnyhive, form one stream, which takes the appellation of Cairn. This river has a course of sixteen miles, and then joins the Nith, about a mile above Dumfries, and seven miles distant from the Solway Firth.

The SOIL in general is light and gravelly, and adapted in a superior degree for turnip husbandry. About 7000 acres are cultivated, or occasionally in tillage; 26,600 have never been cultivated; and 800 are occupied by wood. The crops of grain raised in the valleys are very fine, and the grounds are under the most improved system of agriculture. Great benefits have resulted from efficient draining, and the construction of embankments; and by the spirited and liberal support of some of the proprietors, much moss has been reclaimed, and excellent farm-houses and offices have been erected. The quantity of arable land has, indeed, been quadrupled within the last fifty years; and the annual value of real property in the parish now amounts to £11,138. The rocks are chiefly of the transition class: a slate-quarry was formerly wrought to some extent, but it has since been neglected. The mansions are Maxwellton House and Craigdarroch House. Fairs are held at Minnyhive, in March, July, and October, for the hiring of servants and a market for lambs has recently been established. There is a daily post; and about eighteen miles of turn-pike-road run through the parish, upon which the Glasgow and Dumfries coach used to travel three times aweek; there are four bridges on this road, and six upon the parish roads, and all of them are kept in good order.

For ECCLESIASTICAL purposes the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Penpont, synod of Dumfries; patron, the Duke of Buccleuch. The stipend is £280; and there is a manse, with a glebe of twelve acres, valued at £18 per annum. A new parish church has been lately erected to seat upwards of 1000 persons. There are a place of worship for members of the Free Church, and one belonging to the United Presbyterian Church. Three parochial schools are supported, in which the classics, with the usual branches of education, are taught; the respective salaries are £25. 13., £17. 2., and £8. 11., and the joint fees amount to about £54. There are likewise two subscription libraries at Minnyhive, and a congregational library belonging to the United Presbyterian body. The chief relic of antiquity is a tumulus generally called the Moat, but sometimes the Bow Butts, situated about a mile and a half from the church, and supposed to have been formerly employed as a place for the exercise of archery. In the village of Minnyhive is a cross, erected about the year 1638, when a charter was granted, constituting the village a burgh of barony, with power to hold a weekly market.

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