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Gorbals, Lanarkshire

Historical Description

GORBALS, a parish, in the suburbs of the city of Glasgow, chiefly in the county of Lanark, but partly in the Upper ward of the county of Renfrew; containing 48,275 inhabitants, of whom 10,200 form the population of the civil parish of Gorbals, or Gorbals proper, and the remainder are included in that of the civil parish of Govan; the whole number of 48,275 being regarded as ecclesiastically in the parish of Gorbals. This place, originally called Bridgend, from its situation at the extremity of a bridge over the Clyde connecting it with Glasgow, was anciently part of the parish of Govan, from which it was separated in 1771. At that time it comprised only about fourteen acres, but there were subsequently added the lands of Rea, Little Govan, and the Prebend of Polmadie, containing about 600 acres, and also that part of Govan called the Barony, a tract of 400 acres, belonging to the corporation of Glasgow, the patrons of Hutcheson's Hospital, and the Trades' House. The whole of the rural district is arable land, with a small proportion of meadow and pasture; the soil is rich, and the moors have been brought into profitable cultivation. The crops are wheat, oats, potatoes, and turnips; abundance of manure is obtained from the city and suburbs, and every recent improvement in agriculture has been adopted. The population is partly agricultural, but chiefly employed in the various manufactures of Glasgow. Gorbals, with the adjacent lands, was formed into a burgh of barony and regality at a very early period, and in 1607 was bestowed by the Archbishop of Glasgow upon Sir George Elphinstone, who in 1611 obtained from James VI. a charter confirming the grant. In 1647 his successor conveyed it to the magistrates and town council of Glasgow, who are still superiors of the burgh and barony, the former of which includes the old parish of Gorbals and part of the parish of Govan, and the latter comprises the districts of Hutchesontown, Laurieston, Tradeston, and Kingston, which are described under their respective heads. An act was passed in 1846 for better supplying with water the barony or regality of Gorbals, and places adjacent.

The burgh is governed by four bailies, annually appointed by the inhabitants, and two of whom may be continued in office for a second year. Their jurisdiction is exercised chiefly in matters of police, in which they are assisted by commissioners under the police statute; they have no corporate rights or exclusive privileges. The police buildings comprise a spacious hall and court-house. A court for the trial of civil causes not exceeding thirty shillings, in which the process is either ordinary or summary, and a court for the recovery of debts not above forty shillings, are held before the bailies occasionally, the town-clerks of Glasgow acting as assessors. Both the burgh and barony are within the parliamentary boundary of the city; the number of £10 householders is 1635. The annual value of real property in the parish is £150,202. Gorbals is ecclesiastically in the presbytery of Glasgow, synod of Glasgow and Ayr, and in the patronage of the heritors and the kirk session: the stipend is £250; there is neither manse nor glebe, in lieu of which the minister has an allowance of £25 per annum. The church erected in 1771 was subsequently purchased for the district of Kirkfield, and a larger and more commodious edifice built for this parish in 1813, at an expense of £7350; it is a handsome structure, and contains 1460 sittings. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, the United Presbyterian Church, and Wesleyans. A school, in which are about 140 children, is supported by the kirk session, who pay the master a salary of £50, for the gratuitous instruction of the children of the parish. There is also a school for girls, established in 1833, under a bequest of £2000 by Mrs. Waddell of Stonefield: the patronage is vested in the magistrates, and the minister and elders of the kirk session of Gorbals, with preference to children of the name of Macfarlane; the mistress has a salary of £20, with a house, coal, and candles.

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