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Rambles Round Glasgow
Pollokshaws & It's Environs


COMMUNITIES, like individuals, are supposed to have their peculiar idiosyncrasies; and those who are familiar with the popular rhymes and common sayings of Scotland, must be aware that a considerable portion of these "old saws" are devoted to a description of the characteristics, real or imaginary, of the inhabitants of our various towns and villages. For instance, we say the people of Glasgow, the folk of Greenock, and the bodies of Paisley. The Merse, according to the same authority, is famous for its stalwart men; Dunkeld for its votaries of the wee drap; and Edinburgh for its loopy lawyers; while auld Ayr, as every believer of Burns must admit, is unsurpassed

"For honest men and bonnie lasses."

There is one town, however, which is said, par excellence, to be productive of "queer folk." This town, as everybody in the West of Scotland well knows, is Pollokshaws, or "the Shaws," as in common parlance it is generally called. How this saying originated we cannot for the life of us surmise, but it has long been quite proverbial—a very household word, in fact; and just on the same principle that we glowered in search of bonnie lasses on our first visit to Ayr, did we keep a sharp look-out for outré specimens of humanity when we first passed through Pollokshaws. [Note: Lorna McGougan emailed us to say..."The writer says he did not know where the 'queer folk' saying originated.   The 'queer folk' were the Flemish people who came to live in Pollokshaws.   They were called queer because no one could understand them.   It was not the original Pollokshaws people who were 'queer' it was the 'queer folk' that came into Pollokshaws to live."] Disappointment, we need hardly remark, in both cases attended our inspection. The fair maids of Ayr, with all due deference to Burns, who, by-the-by, was said to be no great authority on the subject of female loveliness, we found to be "just like ither folk;" while the special queerness of the Pollokshaws people did not strike us as being particularly obvious. There are doubtless bonnie lasses in the one town and queer folk in the other, just as there are everywhere else; but we rather suspect there is in neither case more than the due proportion. "Old saws and modem instances," it would therefore seem, do not in all cases quite accord with each other.

Crossing the Clyde by the elegant and spacious Broomielaw bridge, and passing along Bridge Street, Eglinton Street, and past the front of the Cavalry Barracks, now deserted by its gay cavaliers, [Since this was written the establishment has been converted into the Poorhouse of the Govan Parish.] we soon arrive outside the boundaries of the city. A walk of a mile or so farther - during which we pass on the right, Muirhouses, a row of one-storeyed and thatched edifices, and at a short distance to the left, the hamlet of Butterbiggins - brings us to a little village which rejoices in the somewhat unmusical appellation of Strathbungo. There is nothing particularly attractive or worthy of attention about this tiny little congregation of houses. With the exception of the church, a small and neat but plain specimen of ecclesiastical architecture, the houses are for the most part humble one or two-storeyed buildings, inhabited principally by weavers, miners, and other descriptions of operatives. There are, of course, several public-houses in the village and those who have an eye to the fine arts, as manifested on sign-boards, will be amused, if not delighted, with a unique head of Bums, which is suspended over the entrance to one of them, with a barefaced quotation in praise of whisky attached to it by way of pendant. There is no mistaking the double-breasted waistcoat of the poet; it at once stamps the man. The management of this portion of the drapery is indeed a master-stroke of the artist, as otherwise it might have been somewhat difficult to recognize in the goggle eyes, flabby cheeks, and ridiculously mim mouth, the features of the burly ploughman. Painters now-a-days, and the failing is not by any means confined to those of the Dick-Tinto school, have got such a habit of idealizing their portraits, that it has really become perfectly impossible to recognize even one’s most intimate friends on canvas. The flattery that the honest mirror fails to give may be purchased at any time from the venal palette. Since the advent of Gall and Spurzheim, foreheads under the hands of the limners have gradually been expanding in their proportions, like the head-dresses of the ladies in the reign of good Queen Anne. Tomkins is represented with the "front of Jove;" while the jolly countenance of Snooks, to please his sentimental better-half, is "toned down," as the phrase is, to the "pale cast of thought," until he resembles more the half-starved Hamlet of a strolling company than his own plump and good-natured self. Whatever faults, however, the sign-board portrait above mentioned may have—and it must be admitted, we are afraid, that it is not quite a perfect work of art—no one can at least accuse the artist of the slightest tendency to the "reigning vice" of his profession. Want of will or want of power has given him the solitary merit of being an absolute stranger to flattery. Strange as it may seem, Strathbungo has also its poet. In Blackie’s Book of Scottish Song there is an effusion, not devoid of merit either, addressed to a certain bonnie Jean who flourished in this uncouth-named locality. Lest there should be any doubt on the matter, however, we shall take the liberty of giving a sample of the production:—

"The Glasgow lasses gang fu’ braw,
And country girls gang neat and clean,
But nane o' them's a match ava
To my sweet maid, Strathbungo Jean.

"Tho’ they be dressed in rich attire,
In silk brocade and mons de-laine,
Wi’ busk and pad and satin stays,
They’ll never ding Strathbungo Jean."

After this, who shall say what the lyrical muse may not do for Ecclefechan or Tillicoultry!

Leaving Strathbungo, a pleasant walk of about half-a-mile brings us to another village not less ridiculously provided with a name. This is Crossmyloof, a finely situated little hamlet, composed principally of plain and unpretending houses, ranged on both sides of the highway, and occupied chiefly by families of the operative class. A considerable number of the humble edifices, however, have garden-plots attached to them for the cultivation of kitchen vegetables; and it is well known that both here and at Strathbungo many of the handloom weavers are celebrated growers of tulips, pansies, dahlias, and other floricultural favourites. Florist clubs, also, exist among them, which meet regularly for the examination of choice flowers, and for discussing the best means of rearing them to perfection. We have had the pleasure, at various periods, of conversing with several of these bloom worshippers—for such, in truth, they are—and we must admit that we were fairly astounded at the multifarious charms which they could discover and point out in what seemed to our obtuse visual organs a simple tulip or pansy. We could not help, indeed, comparing ourselves, when in their company, to Wordsworth’s "Peter Bell," of whom it was said,—

A primrose by the river’s brim
A yellow primrose was to him,
And it was nothing more.

What a different affair was a primrose or a pansy to our Crossmyloof friends! It was indeed "a great deal more" than it seemed to the uninitiated. There are some sharp-sighted people who are said to see farther into a millstone than their neighbours. For the truth of the saying we shall not venture to vouch; but most assuredly, for seeing into the mysteries of a tulip or a dahlia, we shall back a Crossmyloof or Strabungo weaver against the united amateurs of Scotland.

After all, however, there is something very creditable to such individuals in their enthusiastic love of flowers. We know not, indeed, how a working man could spend his leisure hours more harmlessly or pleasantly, than in the cultivation of a little flower-plot. In towns such a privilege is beyond the reach of the operative; but in suburban situations and rural villages, it is exceedingly gratifying to witness the manifestations of such a taste.

The singular name of "Crossmyloof" is accounted for by a popular myth which is yet current in the surrounding country. It is said that, immediately before the battle of Langside, the forees of Queen Mary were drawn up on the site of the village. A council of war was meanwhile held, at which it was debated whether they should, under the circumstances in which they were placed, risk a collision with the troops of the Regent. The Queen, always impetuous, was urgent that an attack should at once be made. From this resolution several of her adherents attempted to dissuade her, representing to her the advantages likely to result from delay. Tired at last of their importunities, and eager to decide her fate, the Queen pulled an ebony crucifix from her breast, and laid it on her snowy palm, saying, at the same time, "As surely as that cross lies on my loof, I will this day fight the Regent." From this circumstance, it is said, the spot received its name. It is rather unfortunate for the credibility of the legend, however, that Queen Mary’s troops were routed at a considerable distance to the eastward of this locality, having been effectually intercepted by their opponents at the village of Langside, while they were advancing in this direction. Tradition in this, as in other instances that might be mentioned, has taken sad liberties with geography. The story is a pretty one, nevertheless, and will continue, we dare say, to obtain credence at the winter evening hearth, in spite of the sneers of the prying student of history.

A little to the north-east of Crossmyloof, on a green hill, within the enclosures of Neale Thomson, Esq. of Camphill, are the vestiges of an ancient British camp. Passing through the fine grounds of Mr. Thomson, which are kept in the most elegant and tasteful order, we now proceed to inspect this interesting relic of other days. It occupies the entire crown of the eminence, and is upwards of a hundred yards in diameter. The valium, or wall, although nearly obliterated in some places, is yet in a sufficient state of preservation to show the extent and form which it originally presented. At one extremity there is an elevated platform, or dais, which is supposed to have been the situation occupied by the tent of the commander, or chief of the party, who, in a long vanished century, held possession of this commanding height. From this spot a delightful and wide-spreading prospect of the surrounding country is obtained. Towards the north and east is the vast strath of Clyde, bounded on the right by the sylvan heights of Cathkin and the verdant slopes of Dychmont, and on the left by the picturesque Campsie and Kilpatrick ranges; while stretching far away in front is a lengthened series of fertile fields and gentle undulations, studded with towns, villages, mansions; and farm-steadings, and bounded in the extreme distance by the misty Pentlands. In other directions the views are almost equally extensive and fair; including, within their scope, Neilston Pad, Ballygeich, and the song-hallowed "braes o’ Gleniffer." The interior of the camp is thickly planted with trees, the foliage of which forms a delicious shade in the glowing summer or autumnal noon, when, in the words of Tennyson, all around is seen

"The landscape winking through the heat"

After lingering in the leafy shadows of the lonely camp for a brief space, gazing on its sights of beauty, and dreaming of the warriors fierce and rude who, in the olden time, peopled its precincts, we descend from our elevation, -and passing the spacious and handsome mansion of Mr. Thomson, make our exit from the grounds.

It is said that there is but a short distance between the sublime and the ridiculous. There is certainly but a step from the sentimental to the commonplace, as we cannot resist muttering to ourselves, when a few minutes after leaving the camp and musing on its bygone glories, we find ourselves in the immense Bakery of Crossmyloof, inspecting with interest the manufacture of quartern loaves. This extensive establishment, perhaps the largest of the kind in the queen’s dominions, is the property of Mr. Thom. son of Camphill, by whom it was erected in 1847, for the purpose of supplying the city of Glasgow with bread similar in quality to that used in London. Commencing operations on a small scale, the increasing demand has gradually necessitated an extension of the premises, until at the present time operations are carried on in four large bakehouses, fitted up with every requisite convenience for securing cleanliness and expedition. There are no less than twenty-six ovens generally at work, attended by from forty-five to sixty bakers, as the demand increases or diminishes. A number of other hands also are constantly employed in subsidiary operations, such as preparing the yeast, which is done on the premises, removing and packing the bread, &c., while no fewer than six large vans are constantly engaged carrying the loaves as they are prepared to the insatiate city, and distributing them amongst the various agencies. Some idea may be formed of the extent of this monster baking manufactory when we mention, that it requires not less than five hundred sacks of flour on the average weekly, out of which it turns from 40,000 to 43,000 quartern loaves. Mr. Dalgetty, the active and intelligent manager, obligingly conducted us over the establishment, explaining the various processes through which the flour must pass on its final transformation into the wholesome "staff of life." Cleanliness, order, and neatness, pervade every department; and we must admit that we have seldom seen a more curious or cheerful sight than we witnessed in one of these lengthened and spacious bakehouses, where thirty well-powdered operatives are busily engaged thumping pelting, turning, cutting, weighing, and kneading immense masses of plastic dough, which, in their experienced hands, rapidly assumes the requisite form and consistency.

Taking leave of our friend, Mr. Dalgetty, we now leave Crossmyloof, and wend our way towards Pollokshaws, which is situated about a mile to the southward. At this point the road diverges, one branch leading to Kilmarnock, by Mearns; the other to Barrhead and Neilston, by Pollokshaws. The country in the vicinity is beautiful in the extreme, and within the last few years a large number of fine villas have been erected in the neighbourhood. The majority of these have gardens and elegant flower-plots attached to them, and altogether the locality has a highly pleasing and attractive appearance. The walk from Crossmyloof to Pollokshaws is of the most pleasant description. On either hand are wide-spreading and fertile fields, relieved at intervals with patches and belts of planting, farm-houses, and gentlemen’s seats. About half the distance it is up hill, but afterwards it gradually declines towards the hollow in which, on the banks of the Cart, here a considerable stream, the town is situated.

Pollokshaws is a tidy and thriving little town, somewhat irregular in appearance, and containing a population of about 5,000 individuals. An air of bustle and life about its streets, furnishes a perfect contrast to the dullness and languor which generally prevail in towns of similar extent in the rural districts. There are a number of extensive establishments for spinning, weaving, and dyeing, within its precincts, which furnish employment for the greater portion of its inhabitants, the residue being principally handloom weavers, miners, and agricultural labourers. Calico-pitting was also at one period carried on here to a considerable extent; but of late years, we understand, this department of trade has been, in a great measure, if not altogether discontinued. The inhabitants have the usual characteristics of a manufacturing population. There is the common preponderance of pale faces and emaciated forms, accompanied with that sharpness of intellect which manifests itself in diversity of religious and political opinion. Every shade of political principle, indeed, finds here its own little knot of adherents; while the fact that there are not fewer then nine separate places of worship, great and small, sufficiently indicates the variety of points from which the great question is contemplated. The precise number of schools which are in the town we have not learned, but we understand that this important department of social improvement has not been by any means neglected; while an extensive public library furnishes the necessary intellectual pabulum for the studious portion of the adult population.

The town was erected into a burgh of barony by a charter from the Crown in 1814, the civic affairs of the community being managed by a provost, bailie, and six councillors, with a town-clerk and fiscal. The magistrates and council are elected by popular suffrage, every householder paying a certain amount of rent possessing the privilege of voting.

Many of our readers will be interested, we doubt not, to learn that a natural daughter of the Ayrshire bard has been for many years resident in Pollokshaws. This individual is Mrs. Thomson (Elizabeth Burns), the wife of a decent and intelligent handloom weaver of the town. In features and complexion Mrs. Thomson admittedly bears a more striking resemblance to her father than any of his other children. We have had the pleasure of meeting with two of the poet’s sons, on both of whom the paternal stamp was obvious; but we were more forcibly reminded of the family lineaments as represented in the best portraits, on being introduced to Mrs. Thomson, than we were on that occasion. She is now pretty well advanced in years, being rather over sixty; her features are consequently somewhat shrunk from their original proportions, but still the likeness is sufficiently marked to indicate, at a glance, her relationship to the departed bard.

The mother of Mrs. Thomson was Anne Hyslop, of the Globe Tavern at Dumfries. She was the heroine of the beautiful song,

"Yestreen I had a pint o’ wine
In place where body saw na.
Yestreen lay on this breast o’ mine
The raven locks of Anna."

Mrs. Thomson never knew her mother; but she fortunately found a kind and affectionate substitute in Mrs. Burns. After remaining for two or three years at nurse in Edinburgh, she was taken to her father’s home in Dumfries, where she was brought up along with his other children. She has some faint recollections of her father, who was wont occasionally to take her on his knee and fondle her affectionately; and she remembers vividly the imposing ceremonials attendant on his death and funeral. After the poet’s decease she continued to live with Mrs. Bums, of whom she still speaks under the endearing appellation of mother, until her marriage with Mr. Thomson, who was then as a soldier located with his corps in Dumfries. The wedding was celebrated in the house and under the, auspices of the bard’s kind-hearted widow, who afterwards, even until the year of her death, continued occasionally to manifest her regard for Mrs. Thomson by sending her small presents, accompanied by affectionate inquiries after her welfare.

Mrs. Thomson is now the mother of a considerable family of grown-up sons and daughters, several of whom bear an obvious resemblance to their celebrated grandfather. Her second son, Robert Buns Thomson, is especially the "counterfeit presentment’ of him whose name he bears. He is, indeed, a living facsimile in physical appearance of what Burns must have been when in the prime of manhood. A degree more slender in person, or a shade more fair in complexion, from the nature of his employment, he possibly may be; but this, we feel confident, is the extent of difference. Nor is the resemblance only physical. He has in a considerable measure the same vigorous intellect, and pithy if not rude humour, combined with a manly sense of independence, and a taste for poetry and music, in both of which arts he is indeed no mean proficient. Altogether, he is admitted by all who have the privilege of his acquaintance to be an excellent specimen of the honest, upright, and industrious working man. We know not that, on the whole, we could bestow upon him a more estimable character. Mr. Thomson is of course proud of his descent, but he has not the most distant desire that his "bonnet should be hung on his grandfather’s pin." He would be respected for his own sake, or not at all; and we can assure those who would thrust themselves into his company, for the mere gratification of an empty curiosity that they will stand a pretty considerable chance of finding out what it is to be "taken through the whins."

Although he makes no pretension to the character of a poet, Robert Burns Thomson, as we have already hinted, has on more than one occasion, tried his hand at poetic composition. Some of our readers, we dare say, would like to see a sample of verse from the pen of one who stands in the relation of grandson to our great national poet; and at the risk of being deemed guilty of a breach of confidence, we cannot refrain from contributing to their gratification. The only production of his at present in our possession, although of considerable merit, is by far too lengthy for publication in its entire form in our limited space; but we shall venture, nevertheless, to extract a few detached stanzas from it, begging the author’s pardon at the same time for the liberty which we are taking. The composition, we may premise, is an elegy on an old military musician, who is represented, after having passed unhurt through manifold dangers by flood and field, as having been at last killed while attempting "some thrawn bars that wadna spell." Passing over several pithy verses invocatory of sorrow, we find the poet exclaiming,

"Ye wakerife lav’rocks, pride of Spring,
Wha speel the heav'ns on dewy wing,
While in the lift ye pendant hing
In bliss ecstatic,
Lament till mountain echoes ring
Your plaints pathetic.

And ye wha haunt the leafy spray,
Or warble in the sunny ray,
Or lull the closing ear of day
In haugh or glen,
Sound each your waest minor key
For him that’s gane."

Not altogether unworthy the "old man," we should say; but we must take another leap over some seven or eight stanzas, and leaving the tender, try what our author can exhibit of sterner stuff,—

"Mourn ye, wha lift the daily shillin’,
Imperial pay for brither-killin’,
For Jock, when but a hauflins callan,
Left frien’s and hame,
And ower the stormy seas gaed saillin
To fecht for fame.

"In dark Toulouse he met the Franks,
Where biting bullets thinn’d our ranks,
And worthy chiels of heads and shanks
Were rudely shorn,
There bauldly first he cheered the flanks,
Wi’ fife and horn.

"He clamb the tow’ring Pyrenees,
Where frosts ‘neath smiles of summer freeze,
And through the mirk, on hands and knees,
‘Thont star or moon,
The foemen’s tents he set ableeze,
To licht him doon.

"See halfway up Sebastian’s wa's,
Tho’ death rax doon wi’ drippin claws,
His left arm round the steps he thraws,
His right the horn
And, charge them hame! he loudly blaws
To the hope forlorn.

"Ay, mony a fearfu’ siege and storm,
In mony a clime baith cauld and warm,
Tho’ death and him’s been arm in arm
The maist o’s life.
Yet neer till now he durst him harm
Wi’ dirk or knife."

But we must refrain. Suffice it to say, that honest John turns out, after all, to be both hale and well, and that the elegy is fortunately only "a false alarm," We shall leave it to our readers to decide whether the scion is altogether worthy of the noble stem from which it sprung. We have our own opinion; but where friendship holds the balance it may well be doubted whether strict justice is administered.

The church of Pollokshaws, or Eastwood, as the parish is sometimes called, is situated on a rising ground at the southeastern extremity of the town. It is a plain quadrangular edifice of somewhat limited extent, and calls for no particular attention from the passing stranger. The church-yard is situated about a mile to the southward, near the site of a more ancient church, which was demolished on the erection of the present structure. Towards this spot we now proceed, passing on our way the fine old mansion of Auldhouse, at present the residence of Walter Crum, Esq, of Thornliehank. It is beautifully situated on the margin of Auldhouse burn, a little streamlet that joins the Cart at a short distance to the northward. The building, which is of considerable extent, is, we understand, the property of Sir John Maxwell of Pollok, in the possession of whose family it has been for many years. It has certain architectural features worthy the attention of the autiquary; while the handsome old trees by which it is surrounded, and especially a couple of magnificent and tall specimens of the Spanish chestnut in the garden, will be found peculiarly attractive to those who delight in the study of sylvan beauty. A brief but pleasant walk brings us to the "Auld kirk-yard," in the vicinity of which is a cosie and comfortable looking manse. We find the field of graves, which is protected from human intrusion by a high wall and a well-locked gate, tenanted by a flock of sheep; which seem particularly to enjoy the long rank herbage. They manifest considerable wildness, moreover, and scamper about over green mound and flat stone, as if they were anything but accustomed to receive visitors. The church-yard of Eastwood is of moderate extent, and is shaded at certain parts of its circumference by trees. Its only noticeable features are the burial place of the ancient family of the Maxwells of Pollok, and an elegant monumental structure recently erected to the memory of Wodrow the historian. The former is a square compartment enclosed by high walls of the plainest appearance. The place has a melancholy and rather neglected aspect. The sexton has piled a lot of old planks and mouldering coffins against one of the walls, and on peeping through the doorway we observe the interior to be crowded with loathsome and overgrown weeds. Accustomed as we are to the trim and tidy manner in which the burial-places in our city cemeteries are generally kept, we must admit that we feel rather surprised at the want of attention which is here evinced, and we should really have expected that the last resting-place of an old and honourable family would have been more carefully preserved from the ravages of time and the elements.

The Wodrow monument, which stands almost in the centre of the burial-ground, is a structure of considerable elegance and taste, having been executed by our townsman, Mr. John Mossman, a gentleman whose chisel has done much for the adornment of our local cemeteries, and whose contributions, from time to time, to our Fine Art exhibitions have been characterized by merit of no ordinary description. On one side of the massive quadrangular pediment, which is surmounted by a finely carved superstructure, terminating in a sepulchral urn, is the following inscription:—

"Erected to the memory of the REV. ROBERT WODROW, minister of Eastwood; the faithful historian of the sufferings of the Church of Scotland from the year 1660 to 1668. He died 21st March, 1784, In the 86th year of his age, and 31st of his ministry.

‘He being dead yet speaketh."

The monument has been at one period surrounded by an excellent wire fence, but the woolly occupants of the enclosure having taken a fancy to rub themselves against it, the wires have been bent and displaced, so that there is little to hinder the animals now from scratching themselves against Mr. Mossman’s chaste and beautiful carvings.

Robert Wodrow was born at Glasgow in the year 1679; his father, the Rev. James Wodrow, having been at that period professor of divinity in the University. In 1691 he was entered a student in the University of his native city; and, after a short period, in consequence of the extraordinary aptitude which he displayed for historical and bibliographical researches, he was appointed to the office of librarian to that learned institution. While in this situation, which he held for four years, he studied with the greatest earnestness the ecclesiastical and literary history of his native land. At the termination of his academical career, he resided for some time with his kinsman, Sir John Maxwell of Pollok, then one of the Lords of Session. While living at Pollok, a vacancy occurred at Eastwood by the death of Mr. Matthew Crawford, author of a History of the Church of Scotland (which is yet, we believe, unpublished), and Mr. Wodrow was appointed, by the patronage of Sir John Maxwell, to the ministry of the parish. Although at that period one of the smallest parishes in the West of Scotland, Mr. Wodrow seems to have been contented with his situation, and continued to perform the duties of his calling in it till his death, which, as has been already noticed, occurred in the thirty-first year of his ministry. Besides taking a prominent part in the public business of the Church, Mr. Wodrow composed a History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland from the Restoration to the Revolution, which was published in two folio volumes, and several other works of a religious and literary nature, all of which are deservedly held in high esteem. He seems also to have devoted a considerable portion of his leisure time to the study of antiquities and natural history. George Crawfurd, a contemporary and friend of Wodrow’s, in his History of Renfrewshire, mentions a collection of fossil shells which he had made, and characterizes him as "a gentleman well seen in the natural history of the country." Altogether, the old minister of Eastwood seems to have been a truly estimable and worthy individual, an ornament to the Church to which he belonged, and a valuable as well as voluminous contributor to the literature of his country. In Fox’s History of the early part of the Reign of James the Second, that eminent statesman has passed a eulogium upon his fidelity and impartiality as a historian; while the esteem in which his memory is held by the literary antiquaries of Scotland may be inferred from the fact, that a Society under his name has been established in Edinburgh for the publication of old works of an ecclesiastical nature.

A little .to the south of the Eastwood burying-ground, in a fine hollow, watered by the Auldhouse burn, is the village of Thornliebank, with the extensive manufacturing establishment of the Messrs. Crum, in which the greater portion of the inhabitants are employed. The manufacture of cotton is carried on here on an enlarged scale, the works embracing every process from the spinning of the raw material to the finishing of the most beautiful dyed and printed fabrics. Walter Crum, Esq., one of the leading partners of this wealthy and enterprising firm, is well known as one of the most eminent practical chemists of the present day.

Retracing our steps to Pollokshaws, we now proceed to visit the seat of Sir John Maxwell, Bart., of Pollok, which is situated in a delightful position, on the north bank of the Cart, a little to the south-west of the town. The house is a spacious edifice, four storeys in height, and of the plainest architectural appearance; comfort and commodiousness, rather than ornamental grandeur, having been obviously attended to in its construction. It was erected in 1753 by the great-grandfather of the present possessor, who died a few weeks after its completion. The castle previously occupied by the family, which stood a little to the eastward, was shortly afterwards entirely demolished, with the exception of a small portion, apparently the remains of a massive tower, which was pointed out to us, embedded in the garden-wall. The offices of the present mansion now occupy the site and its more warlike predecessor. On an eminence in the vicinity, which commands a magnificent prospect of the country for many miles around, a still older castle formerly stood. Not a vestige of this ancient structure now remains to mark its whereabouts. Desolation as complete has fallen upon it as that predicted for his own mansion by Thomas the Rhymer, when he said, in bitterness of spirit,

"The hare shall kittle on my hearth-stane."

While we stand musing on the spot, the redbreast is piping his dreary autumnal song on a spreading beech which has been planted on the site of the vanished towers, and we see the glossy plumage of the pheasant glancing in the sunbeam, as, disturbed by our presence, it glides away into the shade of the tangled underwood. Crawfurd, who wrote in 1710, mentions in his minute and curious History of Renfrewshire, that in his day the remains of the drawbridge and fosse were still visible.

The gardens and pleasure grounds of Pollok are on a princely scale of magnificence. The Cart, which is spanned by an elegant bridge in the vicinity of the house, winds beautifully through the park, which is finely sprinkled with clumps of wood and picturesque sylvan individualities (to make use of a Johnsonian phrase) every here and there standing "alone in their glory," and exhibiting to the practised eye the distinguishing peculiarities of their various species. We have seldom, indeed, witnessed finer woodland studies than are to be found in the spacious park of Pollok. Old Evelyn would have travelled ,a long summer day, and reckoned himself amply repaid for his labour, by the sight of a single group of wych-elms which grace the bank of the river a little to the east of the mansion. These fine trees were described in Mr. Strutt’s Sylva Britannica, published in 1826, a splendid but expensive work, the Scottish division of which was dedicated to Sir John, then Mr. Maxwell, younger, of Pollok. The principal member of the group was measured a number of years since for Mr. London’s work on trees, and was found to be ninety feet in height, and four feet in diameter at a yard and a-half from the ground. Nor is it only in modern times that the grounds of Pollok have been shadowed by sylvan giants. Several years ago an immense trunk of oak was discovered in the bed of the Cart at this place. With great difficulty it was excavated from the gravelly bank, when it was found to be not less than twenty feet in circumference. This immense mass of primeval timber has since been scooped out, and formed into a summer-house, in which character we saw it in the garden, and had the pleasure of resting ourselves for a brief space in its capacious interior.

The ancient and honourable family of the Maxwells of Pollok, to whom the greater portion of the parish of Eastwood or Pollokshaws belongs, is descended from the Maxwells of Carlaverock, and has been located here since the end of the thirteenth century. An ancient document, of date 1273, is still in existence, which bears the signature of "John Maxwell, Lord of Nether Pollok," the ancestor of the present Sir John. The representatives of the family have at various periods taken a prominent position in the history of the country. In the reign of Queen Mary Sir John Maxwell, who had been knighted by that fair but illfated monarch, adhered faithfully to her cause through all her misfortunes. On the escape of Mary from Lochleven and her flight to Hamilton, she sent a communication to Sir John, ordering him to come to her aid with his friends and servants. This royal missive is still carefully preserved at Pollok. It is as follows:—

To our Traist Friend,
"Ye Laird of Nether Pollok.
"Traist friend, we greet you well. We dowt not bot ye know that God of his gudnes has put us at llbertie; quhome we thank maist heartlie.—Quhairfore desires you wt all possible diligence faill not to be heir at us in Hamylton wt alt your folks friends and serwands bodin in feir of weir as ye will do us acceptable service and pleasure. Because we know yor constance. We need not at this put to mak langer Lyr but will byd you fairweill.

"Off Hamylton, ye V. of Maij 1668. (Signed) Mairie R."

The summons was obeyed, and Sir John and his friends were engaged on the losing side at the decisive skirmish of Langside. A number of other papers of considerable antiquity are preserved in the family archives, among which are a letter from James VI. to the Laird of Pollok, requesting provision for the Prince’s baptism—a curious trait of the times; and the original of the Solemn League and Covenant, with the signatures of the King and Council, dated 1587.

After a lengthened and extremely pleasant stroll through the policies and gardens of Pollok, we return to Pollokshaws, whence, after a brief interval of rest, we proceed to visit the ruins of Haggs Castle, which are situated about a mile to the west of the town. This ancient and time-worn edifice, with its belt of trees, forms a fine feature in the landscape for a considerable distance around. In its "better days" it has combined architectural elegance with a degree of strength necessary to the security of its inmates in those "good old times" when the strong hand was to an inconvenient extent the law of the land. The walls are in some places upwards of five feet in thickness, while the durability of the material of which they are composed is obvious from the excellent state of preservation in which the carvings on their exterior surface still exist. Several vaults or chambers (we are puzzled to say which) are still quite entire; in one of which, at the eastern gable, is an immense fire-place, redolent of hospitable associations, and which must have been capable of roasting at once a whole ox, supported by a couple of wethers, or a perfect host of minor culinary subjects. The place has now a dark, dismal, and chilly appearance, as if many many years must have elapsed since the cheerful blaze illuminated its capacious jaws, or the jagged flames roared in its bat-haunted chimney. An elegant window and several finely caned ornaments still adorn the principal front of the edifice. Over the main doorway, on a triangular stone, there is an antique inscription, now almost illegible, from which it appears that the castle was erected in 1585 by Sir John Maxwell and his spouse Margaret Conyngham. The legend is as follows:—

1585
Ni Domin
Ædes Strvxe
Rit Frvstra Strvis.
Sir John Maxwell of Pollk Knight
And D. Margaret Conyngham
His Wife bigget this House."

The Latin portion of this inscription, from its arbitrary construction and curious abbreviations, has been a fruitful source of controversy to the Jonathan Oldbucks of the neighbourhood. Many and various have been the readings which have been suggested and contested with a warmth peculiar to antiquarian discussion. The most abstruse meanings have been discovered and proclaimed with flourish of trumpet, but only to be denounced and exploded by the lore of suceeding savants. Not being prepared with a theory of our own, we shall, with due deference to more learned authorities, give the most recent, and what seems to our non-professional intellect the most plausible translation, which is, that it is only a fanciful rendering of the passage from Psalms—" Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain who build it."

Concerning the history of this interesting edifice extremely little is known. It seems to have been used as a jointure house by the family of Pollok, and, indeed, was probably built for that purpose. During the time of the persecution in Scotland it appears that the Knight of Pollok, who belonged to the Covenanting party, occasionally concealed within its walls the outlawed ministers who had been driven from their homes by fear of Claverhouse and his bloodthirsty myrmidons. Information was on one occasion lodged with the Episcopal Archbishop of the district that conventides and prayer meetings were held at the castle of Haggs under the auspices of its proprietors; and Wodrow mentions that in 1676 Mr. Jamieson, the ejected minister of Govan, "gave the Sacrament in the house of the Haggs, within two miles of Glasgow, along with another clergyman." The family of Pollok suffered severely for the attachment which they thus exhibited to the cause of the Covenant. By a decree of the Privy Council, dated December 2, 1684, a fine of £8,000 sterling was inflicted on Sir John Maxwell for the alleged crime of receiving into his house and holding converse with the nonconformist ministers. On refusing to pay this enormous sum—for such in those days it really was—the worthy knight was condemned to imprisonment for sixteen months. The worthy baronet alluded to does not seem to have lived long after this period, as we find that a Sir George Maxwell was the Lord of Pollok in 1688. This individual is known in local tradition as the bewitched baronet. On one occasion Sir George was seized with a severe illness, and as the doctors could do nothing for him his malady was ascribed to witchcraft. Suspicion led to certainty. A young vagrant woman having heard of the dread surmise, undertook to discover the offenders. This she at once set about, and to the astonishment of all, she accused several of the most respectable tenants on the Pollok estate. These parties she had private reasons for hating; and by cunningly secreting images of clay stuck full of pins about their houses, and afterwards pretending to find them, she lent an air of probability to her foul accusations, which in those days were sufficient to consign her victims to the tar-barrel. A special commission was ordered by government to investigate the matter, consisting of several Justiciary lords and the leading gentlemen of Renfrewshire. The result was, that the charges were found clearly proven, and no fewer than seven persons were actually sentenced to be strangled and burned—a sentence which, however monstrous it may now appear, was rigidly carried into effect. Full details of this melancholy event may be found in a work entitled The Renfrewshire Witches; and still, as a clever modern ballad on the subject, by Mr. Peter M’Arthur, states—

"The story Is told by legends old,
And by withered dame and sire,
When they sit secure from the winter's cold
All around the evening fire:
How the faggots blazed on the Gallowgreen,
Where they hung the witches high;
And their smouldering forms were grimly seen
Till darkend the lowering sky."

We are happy to observe that the Sir John Maxwell of our own day, with praiseworthy taste, has adopted measures for the proper preservation of this fine old building. A dung-hill, which a few years since stood in its vicinity, has been removed, and certain portions of the walls, which were threatened with speedy prostration, have been strengthened and supported; while the entire building has been enclosed and placed under the charge of an individual who is always ready to admit parties wishing to inspect it, but whose presence necessarily acts as a check on the wanton or evil-disposed.

From Haggs, in a north-west direction, there is a fine country road, leading, by a farm-house, on a gentle but commanding eminence, to the Glasgow and Paisley Canal. By this route we return to the city, where we arrive somewhere about that dubious hour, "between the gloamin’ and the mirk," which calls the star into the sky, the bat into the air, and (bathos apart) the most useful of the trio, the lamplighter into the street.


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