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Inchinnan, Renfrewshire

Historical Description

INCHINNAN, a parish, in the Upper ward of the county of Renfrew, 3 miles (N.) from Paisley; containing about 500 inhabitants. This place derives its name, signifying in the Gaelic language "a river island", from its peninsular situation, being almost surrounded by the rivers that form its principal boundaries. In some documents it is mentioned under the designation of Killinan, from the circumstance of the site of its church being totally insulated by the winding of one of those rivers, the channel of which, however, was long since diverted. The manor was one of the many grants conferred upon the family of Stuart, previously to their accession to the throne; and is particularly noticed in a charter of Malcolm IV., dated at Roxburgh in 1158, in which that monarch confirms to Walter Stuart the office of high steward of Scotland, and the lands that had been bestowed upon him by David I. In 1511, James IV. granted by charter to Matthew, Lord Darnley, and second Earl of Lennox, the manor and palace of Inchinnan with their dependencies, all which, upon the death of the fourth earl, descended to his grandson James VI., who conferred them upon his great-uncle John, Lord D'Aubigny, whom he also raised to a dukedom in 1581. These estates, again reverting to the crown, were in 1680 given by Charles II. to his natural son Charles, whom he had created Duke of Lennox and Richmond, and who sold them to the Duke of Montrose, from whom they were ultimately purchased by the ancestor of Mr. Campbell of Blythswood, the present proprietor.

The PARISH is about three miles and a half in length, and varies from three-quarters of a mile to something more than two miles in breadth. It is bounded on the north by the river Clyde, which separates it from the parish of Kilpatrick, in the county of Dumbarton; on the south by the river Gryfe, which separates it from the parish of Renfrew; on the east by the river Cart, which also divides it from Renfrew; and on the west, by the parishes of Erskine and Houston. The surface rises gradually from the rivers in a gentle acclivity, in some parts diversified with hills of considerable elevation, cultivated from the base nearly to their summits, which are clothed with plantations, adding much beauty and variety to the scenery. The Clyde, which has been much improved by the deepening of its channel, still affords some salmon; and great quantities of those fish used to be taken here, but the operations of late years carried on for deepening the river have materially affected the salmon-fishery. The river Gryfe flows with a tranquil course, in a clear and pellucid stream, between picturesque banks, till it forms the boundary of the parish. It then passes through the grounds of Walkingshaw, where it receives the Black Cart; and afterwards winding along a level tract of rich land, meanders round the rocky hill on which the church is built. Then, being joined by the White Cart near the bridge of Inchinnan, it takes the name of Cart, expands into ample breadth. and continues its course till it falls into the Clyde near Blythswood. Both the Gryfe and the Cart abound with perch, and trout, and eels; and in the river Cart, near its confluence with the Clyde, is an island occasionally frequented by the halcyon or kingfisher. On the banks of the Gryfe and other streams, snipes, wild-duck, and other water-fowl are abundant; pheasants and partridges are plentiful, and grouse are often found on the moors.

The whole number of acres in the parish is 3060, of which 2600 are arable land in good cultivation, 100 natural pasture, and 300 wood. In general the soil is a stiff clay; on the banks of the rivers, a rich black loam; and in the hilly parts, a light sand and gravel. The crops are oats, barley, wheat, potatoes, and turnips; the system of husbandry is in a very advanced state, and great improvement has been made in draining and inclosing the lands. Much attention is paid to the management of dairy-farms, and nearly 300 cows are kept for that purpose, which are the finest of the Ayrshire breed: few horses are reared but such as are employed in agriculture; these are the Clydesdale. The produce of the dairies finds a ready market at Paisley, to which town also, and to Glasgow, the grain raised in the parish is sent. The farm-buildings are substantial and commodious, and, with very few exceptions, are all roofed with slate. Considerable portions of the moorlands have been reclaimed, and brought into cultivation. Such of them as still remain produce great quantities of peat, which is used for fuel; and much of the best quality, which is found on the Southbarr estate, is sent to Edinburgh and Clackmannan by water, and to Glasgow and Greenock by land carriage, for the supply of the distilleries. The substratum of the soil is generally a loose gravel, interspersed with boulders of primary and secondary rocks, resting upon a bed of carboniferous rock, traversed by dykes of whinstone, some of which are of great thickness, and alternated with grey sandstone, in which are found occasionally beautiful specimens of fossils. Limestone and coal are predominant; and both have been worked, especially the first, to a very considerable extent. Whinstone is quarried for paving, and for mending the roads. Freestone of superior quality is quarried on the lands of Park, whence the stone was taken of which the church and the bridge of this parish are built; and from the whin dykes, all the materials were furnished for the use of the trustees for the improvement of the Clyde navigation. The annual value of real property in the parish is £6308. The seats are Southbarr, Park, and House of Hill or Northbarr. There are two assemblages of houses, namely, Broomlands and Luckensford, but neither deserves the name of village: the population of the parish is purely agricultural. The bridge over the Gryfe and the White Cart, near their confluence, is an elegant structure erected at an expense of £17,000, and consists of two divisions, each spanning one of those rivers: near it is a wharf, to which coal is brought for the supply of the inhabitants; and there is another bridge at Barnsford. Good roads afford communication with the neighbouring towns.

For ECCLESIASTICAL purposes the parish is within the limits of the presbytery of Paisley, synod of Glasgow and Ayr. The stipend of the incumbent is about £260; the manse is a comfortable residence of modern erection, and the glebe comprises seven acres and a half of profitable land, valued at £20 per annum. The incumbent also receives the revenue arising from a piece of land called Ladyacre, which, before the Reformation, was given for the maintenance of an altar in the parish church. Inchinnan church was a very ancient building, supposed to have been founded before the reign of David I., who granted it with all its dependencies to the Knights Templars, after whose suppression it was transferred to the Hospitallers, who had a commandery at Torphichen, in the county of Linlithgow. The last of the superiors, at the dissolution of monasteries, laying aside his monastic office and title, purchased the lands that had belonged to the establishment from the crown, and was created Lord Torphichen. At later periods the patronage of the church of this place was held by the Dukes of Lennox and Montrose, from the latter of whom it passed by purchase to the ancestor of Mr. Campbell of Blythswood, in whom it is at present vested. The present parish church was erected on the site of the ancient structure, in 1829; it is a handsome edifice in the pointed style, with a massive square tower. Inchinnan parochial school is under good regulation, and is attended by about sixty scholars; the master has a salary of £34, with £24 fees, and a house and offices, a spacious schoolroom and play-ground for the children, and half an acre of garden. Agricultural chemistry is taught in this school. There is a female school of industry, superintended by a mistress, who has a schoolroom, house, and garden provided for her by the heritors, and is supported partly by the fees, which are very moderate, and principally by subscription. The parish has also two Sabbath schools, and a parochial library containing a good collection of religious and historical works, to which all the parishioners have access on payment of a nominal subscription. The ancient palace of Inchinnan, which was situated in the northern part of the parish, overlooking the Clyde, was built by Matthew, Earl of Lennox, at the commencement of the sixteenth century: there are now no remains of it, the materials having been used for various purposes; and no memorial is preserved except the site. Silver and copper coins of the reigns of Henry IV. of France, and William and Mary of England, were found among the ruins of the old church, which was taken down in 1828. In the churchyard are several tombs, with crosses of ditferent character sculptured on the ridges of the covering stone; they are said to have been the tombs of Knights Templars. Robert Law, author of the Memorials of Scotland, was a native of the parish.

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