Historical description of Buteshire, Scotland

BUTESHIRE, a county, on the western coast of Scotland, consisting of the isles of Bute, Arran, Inch-Marnock, and Great and Little Cumbray, in the Firth of Clyde; separated on the north from Argyllshire by the straits called the Kyles of Bute, and on the west, from the peninsula of Cantyre, by Kilbrannan Sound. It lies between 55° 26' and 55° 56' (N. Lat.), and 4° 54' and 5° 23' (W. Long.), and comprises an area of about 257 square miles, or 164,480 acres; 3067 inhabited houses, and ninety-seven uninhabited; with a population of 15,740, of whom 7155 are males, and 8585 females. The island of Bute, at a very early period, became the property of Sir John Stuart, a son of Robert II.; it was confirmed to him by his brother, Robert III., and is still the property of his descendants, the Marquesses of Bute. That of Arran was granted by James III. to Sir James Hamilton, whose descendant, the Earl of Arran, was regent of Scotland during the minority of Mary, Queen of Scots; and it now is the property of the Duke of Hamilton. The civil business of the county is transacted at the royal burgh of Rothesay, which is the only town; and under the act of the 2nd of William IV., the county returns a member to the imperial parliament.

The surface is various. The island of Bute, in the central part, is diversified with hills affording excellent pasturage, and with valleys of rich arable land in excellent cultivation. Arran is rugged and mountainous, interspersed with glens of moss, through which several streams, descending from the heights, flow into the sea. The highest of the mountains in Arran is Goat-Fell, which has an elevation of 3500 feet above the sea; and from its summit is an extensive view embracing England, Ireland, and the Isle of Man. In both islands there are numerous lakes; and the coasts are indented with fine bays, the chief of which in Bute are, Kilchattan, Rothesay, and Kames, on the east; and Dungoil, Stravannan, Scalpsie, St. Ninian's, and Etterick, on the west. The bays in Arran are, Lamlash, which is accessible in every wind, Whiting, and Brodick, on the east; and Druimadoun and Machry, on the west. Opposite to St. Ninian's bay is the island of Inch-Marnock, and at the entrance of Lamlash bay is the Holy Island. Freestone, limestone, slate, and an inferior kind of coal, are the prevailing substrata; and near the shore are some beds of coral and shells of great thickness. The annual value of real property in the county is £31,162, of which £20,597 are returned for lands, £9836 for houses, and the remainder for other species of real property. The chief seats are, Arran House, at the head of the bay of Brodick; and Mount Stuart, situated on an acclivity opposite to the entrance of the Clyde. The island of Bute gives the title of Marquess to the ancient family of Stuart.

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