History of the County of Renfrew from the Earliest Times
history of the different parishes in the shire has already been treated
of in several of the foregoing chapters. Here it is intended to
supplement what has hitherto been said by a number of topographical and
other notes upon them.
The original parishes in
the shire were Eaglesham, Cathcart, Mearns, Eastwood, Neilston, Paisley,
Renfrew, Inchinnan, Erskine, Houston, Killallan, Kilbarchan, Lochwinnoch,
Kilmacolm, and Inverkip. Parts of three other parishes are also included
within the shire, viz., of Govan, Beith, and Dunlop. For fiscal purposes
these are now included, the first in the county of Lanark and the others
in the county of Ayr. Here they will not be further noticed. In 1594,
Greenock was disjoined from Inverkip, and, in 1694, Port-Glasgow was
separated from the parish of Kilmacolm and added to the number of
parishes in the shire. Other alterations have since been made in the
ecclesiastical arrangements of the county, some of which will be noticed
The parish of Eaglesham
occupies the south-east corner of the county, and is part of the high
ground which forms the southern boundary of the valley of the Clyde. It
slopes downward from the south-west, where it has an elevation of about
1,100 feet above the sea. The Earn and the Revoch burn, with several
other streams, flow through it to the White Cart, which forms its
north-eastern boundary. The parish is about six miles long and five and
a half broad, and has an area of 16,003 acres, 338 of which are under
The soil reposes entirely
upon trap, but varies greatly in quality. Along the banks of the Cart it
is light. In the western and higher parts, dry heather and deep peat
mosses occur, and an abundance of meadow land. The parish is pastoral
rather than agricultural.
The lands of Eaglesham
were among the lands bestowed upon Walter Fitz Alan, the first High
Steward, by David I., and confirmed to him by Malcolm IV. They were
given by Walter, as already remarked, to Robert de Montgomerie. After
remaining in the Montgomerie-Eglinton family for upwards of seven
hundred years, they were sold, in 1844, for upwards of £200,000, to
defray the cost, it is said, of the Eglinton tournament. The purchasers
were the brothers Allan and James Gilmour, who divided the lands into
what were known as the Polnoon and Eaglesham estates. The whole lands of
Eaglesham are now the property of Allan Gilmour, younger, of Eaglesham.
The barony and lordship
of Eaglesham originally comprehended the 100 merkland of Eaglesham. The
principal manor house was Polnoon Castle. It stood upon the banks of a
rivulet of the same name, which falls into the Cart. Some remains of it
are still standing.
The farms of Netherton,
Holehall, Holemuir, and Maulonther formerly constituted the property of
Auchinhood, a possession of a branch of the Montgomerie family. They are
now included in the Eaglesham estate.
The Temple lands of
Eaglesham were at one time the property of the Crags of that ilk. In
1450, James Crag, “ Lord of that ilk ” granted a charter of them to
Richard Donaldson, to be held from the granter for services used and
wont. Among the witnesses to the charter were William Machame, vicar of
Eaglesham, and William Ker, bailie of Eaglesham. The charter was
confirmed at Torphichen, October 26, 1454, by Friar [Frater] Henry of
Levyns-toun, Knight Commendator of the Hospital of the Order of St. John
The original village of
Eaglesham, if its name is of Celtic origin, probably dates back to very
early times. The site of the ancient village may still be identified by
“ Beckie’s Tree ” and other old trees which grow in the open space
between the two streets of the village.
In 1672, Alexander eighth
Earl of Eglinton obtained an Act of Parliament authorizing a yearly fair
and a weekly market to be held at Eaglesham. In his petition to
Parliament, the Earl says that the village is “ above six miles distant
from any burgh royal or from any other place where markets or fairs are
kept, and that lying on the King’s highway, it is a most fit and
convenient place for keeping markets.” The Act grants “ane yeirlie frie
fair to be keepit within the Kirktoun of Eglishame upon the twentie
fourt day of Aprile yeirlie, with ane weekly mercat to be kept therat
upon each Thursday, for buying and selling of all sort of merchandise
and other commodities necessar and useful for the country.” The Earl and
his successors were authorized “ to collect, uptake and receive the
tolls, customs and dewties belonging to the said yeirlie fair and
weeklie mercat.” The fair used to be held yearly in the month of May,
and another, for which there was no Act of Parliament, was held in
August. The market has long been discontinued, and, in place of the
fairs, a flower show is held in the month of August, as a sort of
substitute for them.
The new village of
Eaglesham, which is pleasant and attractive, was begun in 1769, by
Alexander the tenth Earl of Eglinton. It is in the form of the letter A.
The large space in the centre is kept as open ground. The feuars have
long leases of 999 years, and pay merely nominal rents. They have
certain rights in a large common, now extending to about 150 acres, and
claim one-half of the feu-duty for the ground on which a cotton mill
formerly stood. Though begun in 1769, the village was not completed till
1780, the Earl’s scheme, which was suggested to him while travelling on
the Continent, being opposed by some of the old feuars.
Besides farming, weaving
was at one time carried on in the parish. At the beginning of the
nineteenth century, two cotton spinning mills were erected in the
parish, and gave for a time employment to a considerable number of men,
women, and children. The only industry now carried on in the district
besides farming is silk printing at Hazelden on the borders of Mearns
The population in 1791
was 1,000; in 1801, 1,174 ; in 1901, 1,075. The annual rental in 1795
was £5,000 ; in 1812, £7,500 ; in 1884, £15,000 ; in 1900, £14,961 ; in
Robert Pollok, author of
The Course of Time, was born at Muirhouse in this parish in 1799. At the
Hill of Eaglesham was born Professor James Wodrow, father of the
historian. At the school of Eaglesham John Law of financial fame was
educated. The Wodrows often appear in the Kirk Session Records of the
parish, and claimed to be descended from Patrick Wodrow, the last Roman
Catholic vicar and the first Protestant reader at Eaglesham.
The parish of Mearns lies
to the west of the parish of Eaglesham, and to the south of the parish
of Eastwood. On the south and south-west it borders on the two Ayrshire
parishes of Fenwick and Stewarton, and on the west is bounded by the
parish of Neilston. It is about seven miles long by about three and a
half broad, and has an area of 10,607 acres.
The surface is remarkably
diversified by heights and hollows. The greater part of the parish has a
mean elevation of between 500 and 600 feet, but towards the south and
east the elevation is greater. The general slope of the ground is
towards the north-east. Except towards Eastwood, where the clay surface
rests upon boulder-clay superimposed upon sandstone, the soil is of a “
light quick kind,” formed by the decomposition of the volcanic rocks
which underly almost the whole of the parish, and is naturally fertile.
The parish is watered by the White Cart and the Earn and other small
streams, and contains four small lochs, partly artificial, which contain
trout, pike, and perch. The trout are said to have been introduced by
Anne Duchess of Hamilton about the middle of the eighteenth century.
The earliest known
inhabitants of the parish were the Maeatae. In the distribution of his
lands by Walter Fitz Alan, part of the Mearns fell to Rolandus, who took
de Mearns for his designation. Subsequently his lands in the parish
passed by marriage into the possession of the Maxwells of Caer-laverock.
Herbert de Maxwell, knight, who was proprietor of Mearns and Lower
Pollok before 1316, gave the monks of Paisley eight and a half acres and
twenty-eight perches of land in the Newton of Mearns, in exchange for a
like quantity of the lands of Aldton. The boundaries of the acres in the
Newton are described as follows: “As the Kirk burn crosses the high way
leading from the church to Newton and so up that burn northwards to a
standing stone in a green furrow in the Crosseflatt, and so by that
green furrow northwards to another standing stone by a syke leading
westward to another standing stone, and from it directly northward to a
rill at a well head, and so by the rill to Paddockford, and thence by
the highway to the place where the Kirk burn crosses it—excepting the
land which belongs to the house of Torphichen.” The greater part of the
lands in the territory of Aldton, with which the exchange was made, lay
“ between the syke which bounds the crofts in the east side of Aldton
and the syke on the west side of Thornyflat, descending into Kirkhilgat
and from thence to the highway; and three acres lay on the east bank of
the lake of Aldton, and were called Spraginflat.” The castle or tower of
Mearns was built by Lord Maxwell, who received a licence for the purpose
from James II., March, 15, 1449. It stands more than a mile to the east
of the parish church. The castle and lands of Mearns are now the
property of Sir Hugh Shaw Stewart of Blackhall, into whose family they
passed from Sir George Maxwell of Pollok, who acquired the barony from
the Earl of Nithsdale about the year 1648.
North-west from the
Newton of Mearns lies the ancient barony of Upper Pollok. The castle, “
a handsome old tower,” the principal messuage of the barony, was
demolished about the end of the seventeenth century by Sir Robert
Pollok, who built in its place what Crawfurd calls “ a stately large
house of a new model.” This building stood till 1880, when it was
completely destroyed by fire. Six years later it was rebuilt by Mr.
Fergusson Pollok, who in the meantime had succeeded to the property, on
the death of his brother, the last baronet. The Polloks are said to be
descended from Peter, son of Fulbert, who apparently received the estate
from Walter Fitz Alan.
West from the Place of
Upper Pollok are the house and lands of Balgray. At one time they
belonged to a family, of the name of Park, who parted with them in 1603
to David Pollok in Lee, whose successor, David Pollok of Balgray,
disponed them to Thomas Pollok, a Glasgow merchant, who, it is said, was
descended from a brother of the Pollok family in the time of Queen Mary.
They are now the property of J ames C. Fergusson Pollok of Pollok
South from Balgray lie
the lands of Fingalton, an ancient inheritance of the Hamiltons of
Preston. The barony of Fingalton was at one time of great extent, and
was granted to Sir John Fitz Gilbert de Hamilton of Rosshaven by his
nephew, Sir David Hamilton of Cadzow, in 1339. Sir John Fitz Gilbert was
the second son of Sir Gilbert de Hamildown, the original founder of the
house of Hamilton in Scotland. Sir John was born in 1270 and died before
1345. Besides the barony of Fingalton, he acquired the lands of Ross or
Rosshaven in Lanarkshire. His son, Sir John, who succeeded him in 1345,
acquired the barony of Preston in East Lothian. Their descendant, Sir
William, who was born in 1649, sold all his estates to his
brother-in-law in 1681, retired to Holland, and took part in the designs
of Monmouth and Argyll, the latter of whom he accompanied in his
expedition to Scotland in 1685. Sir Robert Preston, the fifth of that
name, was born in 1650, and commanded the Covenanters at Drumclog and
Bothwell Bridge. He escaped to Holland, but returned at the Revolution.
On his death, in 1701, his estates passed to Robert Hamilton of Airdrie.
Fingalton is now the property of Mr. Allan Gilmour, younger, of
The Temple lands of
Capelrig, to which reference has already been made,2 after being in the
possession of the Mures of Caldwell, were, in 1776, acquired by Mr.
Robert Barclay of Glasgow. From him they passed to his niece, Mary
Anderson Barclay, who married George Brown, merchant in Glasgow, and are
now the property of her grandson, Mr. James Barclay Murdoch.
Other proprietors in the
parish are :—Sir John Gilmour of Montraive, Mr. A. A. Speirs of
Elderslie, Mr. W. Dunlop Hamilton of Greenbank, and Mr. James Pollok of
The common of Mearns was
at one time, as stated above, of considerable extent, and was divided
between the villages of Aid ton and Newton ; but it has since been
absorbed, bit by bit, until now only a few scattered pieces of it
remain. There are notices of several mills both in Mearns and Pollok,
more than one of which was at Aid ton of Mearns. The Newton of Mearns
was erected into a burgh of barony in favour of Lord Maxwell, and had
the usual right of holding a weekly market and two annual fairs; but
these have long ceased to be held.
Part of Busby, which
forms part of the quoad sacra parish of Greenbank, is in the parish. At
one time there was a cotton mill and a calico printing establishment
here. At Netherplace, there is a bleachfield ; and at Hazelden, close to
the borders of Eaglesham, is a silk printing work.
In 1881, the population
of the parish was 3,965 ; and in 1901, 3,404. The yearly rental was
valued in 1900 at £25,741, and in 1905 at £27,200.
The parish of Cathcart
formerly included the barony of Dripps, which, like the lands of
Polmadie, are now in the county of Lanark. The lands of the barony of
Dripps were united quoad sacra to the parish of Carmunnock in 1725,
while those of Polmadie, which touch the Clyde at a point opposite the
Fleshers’ Haugh on Glasgow Green, were united in the same way to the
parish of Gorbals considerably later, and are now included in the parish
The Renfrewshire portion
of the ancient parish is a long, narrow slip on the eastern side of the
county, about five miles long and about one broad, with an area of
nearly 2,697 acres. In the rural parts of the parish, the surface is
everywhere diversified with hill and dale, wood and water, and here and
there are scenes of romantic beauty, especially along the banks of the
Cart, which prattles away between precipitous and woody banks or glides
along with a smooth and silent current among the holms. At one time
there appear to have been extensive woods and mosses in the district.
Such at least is the indication of the names, Aikenhead, Hagginshaw,
Woodside, Williamwood, Woodend, Muirend, Bogton, and Moss-side. The soil
is, for the most part, alluvial, resting upon a clay bottom, and, where
not built upon, is in a high state of cultivation. Cathcart belongs to
the great western coalfield of Scotland, and coal, iron, and lime have
long been worked here.
The lands of Cathcart
were apparently bestowed by Walter Fitz Alan upon Rainaldus, who took de
Cathcart for his surname and designation. After remaining in his family
for several centuries, they were gradually disponed. On June 3, 1530,
John Lord Cathcart sold to Hugh Earl of Eglinton the two merklands of
Wodquarter of Langside. Eleven years later (July 8, 1541), Alan Lord
Cathcart received a new charter of the lands and barony of Cathcart, as
also of certain lands in Kyle Stewart and in the bailiary of Cunningham.
In 1543, Alan Lord of Cathcart and Sundrum disponed to Gabriel Semple of
Ladymuir and Jonet Spreull, his spouse, the barony, castle, and
fortalice of Cathcart, the castle lands, the lands of Langside, Nether
Brig-holme, the mains of Cathcart, with a third part of the mill, the
mill lands and multures of Cathcart, and the lands of Goldinley. In the
same year, the same Alan Lord of Cathcart and Sundrum sold to John Blair
of that ilk the nine merklands of Bogton, with the Holm called lie
Holmheid, part of a holm lying between “ a growand tre ” and the Water
of Cart in the lordship of Cathcart, together with the remaining
two-thirds of the mill, mill lands, and multures. The document, which
was confirmed by the Queen, March 12, 1545, was executed at Cathcart on
Saturday (die Sabbati), November 24, 1543.
The lands of Newlands
were at one time in the possession of James Beaton, Archbishop of St.
Andrews ; so also were other lands in the parish. On July 22, 1527, he
sold the five pound lands called le Newlandis, the six merk ten shilling
lands of Langside, called “ Taggartland ” and Murlie, in the lordship of
Cathcart, to Hugh Earl of Eglinton, Lord of Montgomery, and his wife,
Helen Campbell. The disposition was confirmed by the King, at Edinburgh,
July 26, 1527.3 A charter of confirmation was obtained for the said
lands, among others, from Queen Mary, May 19, 1546. On October 24, 1562,
they passed, by sale, from the Eglintons to the Hamiltons, but, in the
following year, they were again in the possession of the Eglintons. In
1574, they were sold to James Earl of Morton by John Lord Hamilton, son
of the Duke of Chatelherault, along with certain lands in the parish of
Eastwood. Tanker -land, Newlands, and the mains of Cathcart are now the
property of Sir John Stirling Maxwell, Bart. The other principal
proprietors in the parish are :— The Earl of Cathcart, Mr. James Stewart
of Williamwood, and Mr. H. Erskine Gordon of Aikenhead, Clincart, and
The castle of Cathcart is
now in ruins. Near to it is the Court Knowe from whence Queen Mary
watched the battle of Langside. The once “formidable castle” of the
Blairs at Bogton has now disappeared. The same may be said of the
ancient dwelling of the Maxwells of Williamwood.
When removing the earth
from a quarry near the site of the old castle of Williamwood, about
fifty years ago, a little town of forty-two houses, apparently of great
antiquity, was discovered below ground. Near the site of these houses, a
number of querns—twelve in all—and a grave lined with stone, containing
a rude urn filled with ashes, were found.
The Romans appear to have
had a camp or post on Camphill. Roman remains have been found in the
district, and in 1904 eight bronze-age burials were unearthed at
Newlands. One of the urns is exceptionally large, and another is
decorated in relief.
Weaving, bleaching, paper
making, calico printing, and cotton spinning were at one time carried on
within the parish as well as farming. The population is now largely
residential, and the principal industries are bleaching, engineering,
paper making, and the manufacture of furniture.
In 1831 the population of
the parish was 2,141 ; in 1901, 28,358. The valuation in 1900 stood at
£50,315, and in 1905 at £75,735. Aikenhead, which for some time was
included in the county of Lanark, is now for fiscal purpose included in
the county of Renfrew. Its valuation in 1900 was £1,720, and in 1905
£1,564, both of which sums are included in the valuations given for the
The parish of Eastwood
was apparently made up of the two ancient manors of Nether Pollok and
Eastwood, each of which had its own church and formed a separate parish.
They were separate in 1265, being separately mentioned in the Transumpt
of Pope Clement IV., but when they were united does not appear.
The parish is bounded by
the parishes of Cathcart, Mearns, the Abbey parish of Paisley and Govan,
and is about four miles long and about three broad, and has an area of a
little more than 5,690 acres. On the west side, a large tract of land
held to be in the Abbey parish of Paisley projects into, and is almost
surrounded by, the parish of Eastwood. From the Records of the
Presbytery of Paisley, under date January 24, 1650, it appears that this
land was annexed to Eastwood by a decision of the Commissioners for the
Plantation of Kirks. The decision, however, has never been acted upon.
The general surface of
the parish is undulating, with here and there gently swelling hills and
flat lands or valleys, intersected by streams of water, and has on the
whole a picturesque appearance. Towards the south the land rises and
forms a low range of hills. The general slope of the ground is from the
south-east to the north-west. The largest stream in the district is the
White Cart. There are also the Auldhouse and the Brock burns. The former
comes from the Brother Loch in Mearns. The latter joins the water of
Levern at the extremity of the parish. Both of them ultimately find
their way into the Cart. In the south, on the higher ground, the soil is
thin and rests upon till. Along the burns and on the holms it is rich
The lands of Pollok and
part of the lands of Mearns were given by Walter Fitz Alan to Peter, son
of Fulbert, who took Pollok for his surname, and styled Alan Fitz Walter
his advocatus. In 1230, Robert de Pollok gave the monks of Paisley
twelve merks of the ferm of Pollok for the weal of the soul of Walter
Fitz Alan and of Alan, his son, and for the souls of Peter de Pollok and
Robert, son of Fulbert, on condition of his being admitted to the
fraternity and participation in the merits of the whole Cluniac Order.
In 1265, Roger, son of Reginald de Aldhouse, resigned all claim to the
lands of Aldhouse, part of the dower (dos) of the Church of S. Conval of
Pollok, which land he and his father had held in ferm, and which he,
fearing the Divine wrath, desired no longer to hold. John de Aldhouse,
Roger’s son, in 1284, renounced, in the most solemn manner in the Court
of the Justiciar of Lothian at Glasgow, any right he had or might have
to the said lands. The title of the monks to the lands does not seem,
however, to have been without doubt; for in 1361 they were obliged to
obtain from the Steward, their hereditary patron, a specific
confirmation of their right to them as part of their barony and
liberties. The lands of Nether Pollok passed into the hands of the
Maxwells of the barony of Maxwell in the county of Roxburgh, through the
marriage of one of their number to the daughter and heiress of Rolland
de Mearns. In 1546, the five merk lands of Auldhouse were feued by the
monks of Paisley to John Maxwell, son of John Maxwell, who had held them
for a period of twenty years. On June 2, 1572, the King confirmed to the
former two charters by which John, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Abbot
of Paisley, conveyed to him the lands of Aldhouse, which he was still
occupying, and the church lands of Eastwood of the value of 13s. 4d. old
extent. In 1732, the property passed into the hands of John Maxwell of
Blawarthill, who, on the death of Sir John Maxwell, Baronet, of Pollok,
became the second Baronet of Nether Pollok.8 The family is now
represented by Sir John Stirling Maxwell, Bart., M.P., who is the
principal proprietor in the parish.
Part of the parish has
been incorporated into the city of Glasgow. In the rest of the parish
are besides the burgh of Pollokshaws, the villages or districts of
Giffnock, Nitshill, Mansewood, Kennnishead and Thornliebank.
The parish is to a large
extent residential; but limestone is worked at Upper Darnley and Arden,
coal at Lochinch, coal and fire-clay at Giffnock and Darnley, sandstone
at Burnfield, freestone at Giffnock and Braidbarr, and ironstone at
Pollok. There are chemical works at Wash Walls, asbestos works at
Nitshill, and large print and bleaching works at Thornliebank. The
population of the last mentioned place is 2,452. In 1818, it was set
down at from 1,200 to 1,500.
The principal proprietors
in the parish are Sir John Stirling Maxwell, Bart., M.P., of Pollok, Mr.
John Denholm, The Mains, Giflhock, Mr. W. Dunlop Hamilton, of Greenbank,
Newton Mearns, Mr. A. Cameron Corbett, M.P., and Captain James Stewart
of Williams wood.
Two of the ministers of
the parish were Church historians : Mr. Crawford, whose history, as yet
unpublished, is said to be in the Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh ; and
Mr. Wodrow, well known by his History of the Sufferings of the Church of
Scotland during the time of the Covenanters. The late minister of the
parish, Mr. George Campbell, also made a contribution to the history of
the Church, having published a thin quarto volume entitled, Notes on the
Ecclesiastical Antiquities of the Parish. But by far the most
accomplished author whom the parish has produced was the late Sir
William Stirling Maxwell, Bart., author of Don John of Austria, The
Cloister Life of the Emperor Charles the Fifth, Annals of the Artists of
Spain, Antwerp Delivered, and other works.
In 1891, Eastwood
(excluding Pollokshaws) had a population of 6,356. In 1901 the
population of the parish (exclusive of the portion within the burgh of
Glasgow) was 15,361. The valuation in 1901 was £35,936, and in 1905,
The parish of Neilston
formerly included the baronies of Shutterflat and Knockmade. These,
though still in Renfrewshire, have for many years been respectively
annexed to the parishes of Beith and Dunlop in the county of Ayr.
Neilston is bounded on
the east by Eastwood, on the south by Mearns, on the south-west by
Stewarton and Dunlop, on the west by Beith and Lochwinnoch, and on the
north by the Abbey of Paisley parish. It is about seven miles long by
three and a half broad, and has an area of 12,862 acres, 381 of which
are under water. The surface is very uneven. On the western side of the
parish are the Fereneze hills, which rise to a height of 400 to 500 feet
above the level of the surrounding country. The highest hills are the
Pad and Corkindalelaw, which attain a height of from 820 to 900 feet
above sea level. They are separated by a beautiful valley through which
runs the Levern Water.
In the west of the parish
is a lovely lake of small extent known as Loch Libo. Another loch in the
parish is Long Loch. From Loch Libo issues Lugton Water, which falls
into the Garnock near Kilwinning. Besides the Levern, there are the
Kirkton, Brock, and Caplaw burns. From the Pad an extensive view may be
obtained. In one direction are seen the mountains of Cumberland and
Westmoreland, and in another Goatfell and Ben Lomond, and in still
another Ailsa Craig and the Irish coast.
The soil, though varied,
is nowhere unproductive. In the eastern part of the parish, where the
land is comparatively low and flat, it is of a dry loamy nature,
occasionally mixed with gravel and resting here and there upon
freestone, but generally upon stiff till. In the middle and higher
districts the soil is poorer, but affords excellent pasture.
The lands of Neilston
were apparently given to Robert de Croc by Walter Fitz Alan. By Marion
de Croc, daughter and heiress of another Robert de Croc, the lands of
Crookston, Darnley, and Neilston passed by marriage into the family of
the Stewarts. From this marriage came the Stewarts of Darnley, or
Crookston, afterwards Earls and Dukes of Lennox. Arthurly was the seat
of a family of the name of Stewart, descended from the Darnley family.
In 1452, Walter Stewart of Arthurly had a charter from James III. of the
lands of Wester Patrick. His daughter married William Cuninghame, a son
of Alexander, first Earl of Glencairn, and an ancestor of the
Cuninghames of Craigends. Being her father’s heir, she carried the lands
of Arthurly and Wester Patrick with her into that family. The lands of
Glanderston were part of the lordship of Neilston, and were given by
Matthew Earl of Lennox, to John Stewart, his brother, in 1507.
Afterwards, through the marriage of Lady Janet Stewart with John Mure of
Caldwell, who died in 1538, they came into the Caldwell family. John
Mure of Caldwell disponed them to his second son, William Mure, in 1554,
in whose family they remained until 1710, when the Mures of Glanderston,
on the failure of the elder line, inherited the Caldwell estates, and
united the lands of Glanderston to them, after they had been separated
one hundred and fifty years. West from Glanderston stands the parish
church, and near it the lands of Kirkton. South from the church lie the
lands of Neilstonside, part of the lordship of Neilston. They were given
in 1552 by John Earl of Lennox to John Maxwell of Stanely. Afterwards,
they reverted to the Stewarts, whence, by the marriage of Margaret,
daughter and sole heir of Hugh Stewart, they passed to the Wallaces of
Elderslie. West from the church is the barony of Syde, an ancient
possession of the Montgomeries of Skelmorlie.
Still further west are
the lands of Caldwell. The old tower, part of the ancient residence, is
still standing. The present house of Caldwell was built on a plan
prepared by Robert Adam in 1772. The lands of Cowdon originally belonged
to the Spruells of Cowdon. They were sold in 1622 to Alexander Cochran
of that ilk, and became the patrimony of William Cochran, his son,
afterwards Lord Cowdon and Earl of Dundonald.
bleaching and calico printing have been long carried on in the parish.
Cotton spinning at one time gave employment to a large number of the
inhabitants. The Kirktown of Neilston is now chiefly occupied in
bleaching and in the manufacture of thread. Bleaching is also carried on
at several other places in the parish. The village of Caldwell is
attracting a villa population from Glasgow.
The principal proprietors
in the parish are Mr. William Mure of Caldwell, Mr. John Meikle of
Lochlibo, Mr. A. A. Speirs of Elderslie, Mr. H. Barclay Dunlop of
Arthurlee, and Mr. A. G. Barns Graham of Craigallian.
In 1831, the population
was 8,046 ; in 1901, 13,714. The valuation in 1900 was £35,517 ; and in
The parish of Paisley
down to the year 1736 included the burgh of Paisley. In that year the
burgh was disjoined from the Abbey parish and erected into a separate
The Low Church was built
in 1738, the High in 1754, and the Middle in 1781 ; and on February 20,
1781, the burghal parish was divided into three, viz. : the Low, High,
and Middle. Towards the close of the nineteenth century the Seedhill was
disjoined from the Low parish and incorporated in the Abbey parish. For
certain purposes, the burgh has recently been reincorporated into the
ancient parish which is known as the parish of Paisley. For
ecclesiastical purposes, the burgh has been divided into nine parishes,
viz.: the Abbey, Low, High, Middle, Martyrs, North, Gaelic, South, and
Greenlaw. In the landward part of the Abbey parish are also the quoad
sacra parishes of Johnstone, Elderslie, Levern, Cardonald, which
includes a portion of Govan parish, Barrhead, in which is included a
part of the parish of Neilston, and St. Andrews (Johnstone), which
includes a part of the parish of Kilbarchan.
The old Abbey parish is
bounded on the north and north-east by the parishes of Renfrew and Govan
; on the south and south-east by those of Eastwood and Neilston; on the
south and south-west by those of Neilston and Lochwinnoch ; and on the
west by the parish of Kilbarchan. It is about nine miles long by about
five and a half broad, and has an area of 16,179 acres. The surface of
the district is beautifully diversified. Here and there it is flat, but
here and there again a gentle eminence occurs, sometimes wooded and
sometimes cultivated to the summit. To the north of the burgh of Paisley
is a beautiful and highly cultivated plain known as the Laighlands. To
the south of the burgh, on the other hand, the ground gradually rises to
the Fereneze Hills, Stanely Muir, and the Gleniffer Braes. In the higher
parts of the parish the rocks are of volcanic origin, and consist for
the most part of greenstone, porphyry, hornblende, and basalt. In the
lower parts, sandstone, limestone, coal, ironstone, and shale occur. At
Hurlet and at Nitshill, sulphates are found in abundance. Near Paisley,
and in other places, are beds of fireclay. The sandstone is of a
yellowish white, and has been extensively used for building. The soil
varies. The richest is found in the Laighlands, to the north of Paisley.
In most of the other parts it is good, but grows thinner as the ground
rises towards the south.
The lands of Paisley were
among the gifts of David I. to Walter Fitz Alan. Out of them the High
Steward cut certain lands, with which he endowed the Abbey of Paisley.
The rest, with the exception of the lands of Crookston and Levernside,
he appears to have kept in his own hands for a time. Afterwards they
were gradually disponed. ^
The lands of Crookston
were given by Walter Fitz Alan to Robert de Croc,1 who had for his
principal messuage the castle of Crookston. From the Crocs they passed
by marriage into the family of the Stewarts of Lennox, and shared the
viscissitudes of the property of that house. The Semples obtained a
grant of them in 1548/ In 1710, they belonged to the Duke of Montrose,
and in 1757 they were sold partly to the Earl of Glasgow and partly to
Sir John Maxwell of Nether Pollok.
The lands of Cardonald at
one time belonged to John Earl of Lennox, and were given by him to his
natural son, Alan Stewart, and his spouse, Marion Semple, in 1487. In
the reign of James VI. they became the property of Walter Stewart, Prior
of Blantyre, son of Sir John Stewart of Minto by Margaret, his wife,
daughter of James Stewart of Cardonald. Walter Stewart was created Lord
Blantyre in 1606. On the death of the late Lord Blantyre, they passed to
his nephew, Mr. W. A. Baird of Erskme, in whose possession they now are.
The castle and barony of
Hawkhead remained in the possession of the Earls of Glasgow5 till
towards the end of the nineteenth century, when they were disponed to
The other ancient estates
in the parish were the lands of Logan Raiss, Stewart Raiss, Whiteford,
Ralston, Blackhall, Knock, Kirkland, Rantfeld, Cochran, Easter Cochran
or Quarrelton, Elderslie, Fulbar, Stanely. Some account of most of the
ancient proprietors of these estates will be found in the chapter
devoted to the Families of the County. The proprietors of others are
mentioned in other parts of the volume, such, for instance, as the
Hamiltons of Ferguslie and the Porterfields of Quarrelton.
Of the lands belonging to
the Abbey within the parish, a full and particular account has been
preserved in the Rental Book of the monastery. During the incumbency of
Archbishop Hamilton many of them were disponed ; but according to the
Rental Book, those still in possession of the monks in 1554 were as
follows : Greenlaw, Corsflat, Brablo, Gallohillis over, Gallohillis
neder, Lylisland, Toddisholme, Carriagehyll, Rycardbar, Mekylryggs,
Fergusly, Bradyland, Corsbar and Thomasbar, Berschaven, Newton, Duskayth,
Candren, Lyncleiff, Ruchbank, Neder Thornle, and Knaiffisland.
In 1545, the monks were
also drawing the following rentals in and about Paisley : Snawdon, vi 1.
; Sclaterbank, xl s. ; Oxschawsyd, vi 1. xiii s. viii d. ; The Pryor
Croft, viiil. iii s. ; The Sedyll and the Welmadow, vil. xs. “by the
chaplain” ; The town of Paslay, vl. ixs. viiid. ; The Know, iis. ; The
Cawsa-syd, xv 1. iis. iid.; The Castelheid, iiil. vis. viiid ; The
Qwarell, xxvis. x^d. ; The Brwnelandis wyth the bodwin of the ward t.
sergiand akyr, iiil. xvs. iv d. ; The Oxschawheid, xxxvi s. ; The Ward
Medow, xxvi s. viii d. and a pound of wax. The feu duties amounted to
£61 18s. 7^d. The walk mill was let to Alexander Mossman at a rental of
“ v merks, and ii stane noppis, to be paid yerly at Sanct Thomas day
before ywill ” (Yule). In addition to this, the monks drew in feu duties
from the town thirty gold crowns for a common pittance given to them by
Abbot George Shaw, and confirmed to them in May, 1492, by the
Diffinitors of the Order of Clugny.
Most of the parish is now
under cultivation; parts of it are devoted to dairy farming.
The industries carried On
in the parish are various—mining at Nitshill and Hurlet; tool, engine,
and boiler making at Johnstone and other places; bleaching in various
parts; cloth finishing and dyeing at Glenfield; sanitary engineering at
Hawkhead. There are also carpet works and distilleries in the parish;
chemical and oil works at Nitshill; alum works at Hurlet; a large flax
mill at Johnstone ; and print works at Arkleston.
Near to Stanely Castle is
an ancient sculptured stone—a mutilated cross shaft of sandstone, with
figures of animals upon it. There are two similar stones in Newton
Woods. At Elderslie, the house of the Wallaces is still shown, and the
castles of Crookston, Stanely, Blackhall, and Raiss, still stand, though
The principal proprietors
in the parish are the Duke of Abercorn; the Earl of Home; Sir John
Stirling Maxwell, Bart., M.P.; Sir H. H. Smiley,
Bart.; Mr. A. A. Speirs
of Elderslie ; Mr. James Coats, jun., Ferguslie House; Sir Thomas
Glen-Coats, Bart., Ferguslie Park; Mr. W. A. Baird of Erskine ; Mr.
George L. Houstoun of Johnstone Castle ; Mr. James Cowan of Ross Hall;
Sir C. W. Cayzer, Bart., M.P., of Ralston; and Mr. Geo. Wood Richardson.
The population of the
parish, exclusive of the burgh of Paisley, was, in 1901, 20,540. In
1900, the rental valuation of the landward part of the parish was
£65,964, and in 1905, £79,294 ; or including part of the burgh of
Barrhead and the burgh of Johnstone, it was, in 1900, £95,454, and in
The parish of Renfrew,
part of which lies on the north side of the Clyde, is bounded on the
north by the parishes of East and West Kilpatrick, in the county of
Dumbarton; on the east chiefly by the parish of Govan, in the county of
Lanark ; on the south by the Abbey parish of Paisley ; and on the
north-west by the Black Cart and Gryfe, which separate it from the
parishes of Kilbarchan and Inchinnan. It is about five and a half miles
long and two and a half miles broad, and has an area of 4,488 acres.
To the south of the Clyde
the district has much the appearance of a perfectly level plain. On the
north of the Clyde the surface is much more diversified. The most
considerable hill, however, Jordanhill, is not more than a couple of
hundred feet above the level of the river. For the most part the soil is
alluvial, resting upon extensive beds of sand often interspersed with
thin strata of clay, sometimes of moss, and occasionally interrupted by
large masses of solid unstratified clay. Coal occurs on both sides of
the river, especially on the north.
As already remarked, the
Clyde at one time had a channel running close past the burgh of Renfrew.
“ In the middle of the seventeenth century,” writes the author of the
chapter on this parish in the Neiv Statistical Account, “there were
between Point House, opposite Govan, and Erskine Ferry, a distance not
exceeding perhaps eight miles, not fewer than eight islands, four of
which appear to have been within the parish. The largest of these was
called the King’s Inch ; it had on it a large castle, once a royal
residence, and it now forms the principal domain of Eldersly House.
Another, the Buck Inch, or, as it is vulgarly called, the Packman Isle,
now forms part of the lands of Scotstoun. A third, called the Sand Inch,
still bears the name of ‘ the Isle,1 and is part of the Common near the
ferry of Renfrew. A fourth, the Ron or Ren, lay in the mouth of the
Gryffe. When the river was divided and broken by so many islands, the
different channels were full of banks,” and the adjacent lands were
The lands of Renfrew were
among the gifts which David I. gave to Walter Fitz Alan, the first of
the High Stewards, and were confirmed to him by the charter of Malcolm
IV. The castle was built either by David I. or by Walter the High
Steward. After the accession of the Stewards to the throne, it was used
as a royal residence. Lord Ross of Hawkhead was afterwards appointed
Hereditary Constable of it.
Opposite, upon the north
side of the Clyde, are the lands of Wester Patrick and Blawarthill, once
the property of Walter Stewart of Arthurlie. To the east of them are the
lands of Scotstoun, an ancient inheritance of the Montgomeries. Robert
Montgomery of Scotstoun was one of the arbiters to whom, in 1488, the
Abbot and Convent of Paisley and the Magistrates of Renfrew referred the
question of the delimitation of their mutual boundaries. In the reign of
Charles I., John Montgomery of Scotstoun, the last of his family,
alienated his lands to John Hutcheson. In 1691, they were acquired by
William Walkinshaw, who was descended from a younger brother of the
family of Walkinshaw of that ilk, in the reign of James VI. North of
Scotstoun are the lands of Jordanhill. In the time of Crawfurd the
historian  they were still in the possession of a family of the
name of Crawfurd, who had owned them for upwards of one hundred and
thirty years. The family was descended from Captain Thomas Crawfurd, a
grandson of Sir Hugh Campbell of Loudon, Sheriff of Ayr, and ancestor of
the Earl of Loudon. Captain Crawfurd was taken prisoner at the battle of
Pinkie. After his release by the English, he went to France and remained
there until Queen Mary returned to Scotland, when he accompanied her,
and took an active part in the troubles of the time. In return for his
services—particularly for his surprise and capture of Dumbarton Castle,
April 2, 1571—he received from James VI. a charter of the lands of
Bishop’s Meadows, Blackstoun Barns, and the Mills of Partick, with a
pension of £200 yearly, payable out of the Priory of St. Andrews.
On the south side of the
Clyde are the lands of Abbotsinch, Renfield or Ranfield, Kirkland,
Porterfield, Walkinshaw, Wester, Middle and Easter, King’s Meadow and
On the Kirkland estate,
now belonging to Lord Blythswood, is the Argyll Stone, so called because
it was at or near it the ill-fated Earl of Argyll was captured in 1685.
It is a grey stone marked with reddish veins, which are supposed to have
some connection with the Earl’s capture.
Near the Knock, a rising
ground about half-way between Renfrew and Paisley, was a circular mound
surrounded by a moat five feet broad, and known as Kempe Knowe; where a
singular combat is said to have taken place. The King of England, it is
said, challenged Scotland to furnish a man able to fight a famous
champion then in attendance on the English Court. The King of Scotland
accepted the challenge, but was for some time unable to find a man equal
to the task, and in his perplexity offered the Inch as a reward to any
one who successfully encountered the Englishman. At last Sir John Ross
of Hawkhead offered himself, and arrangements were made for the fight on
the Knowe. The moat was filled with water, and a large fire kindled upon
the mound. Neither party was expected to give quarter. To escape was to
meet death by drowning, and to be vanquished was to perish, if not
otherwise, by fire. The Englishman was of large stature ; Ross was small
but remarkably agile and of great strength. He dressed himself in a
tight-fitting skin with the smooth side outwards, and in order to make
it more slippery, rubbed it well with grease or oil. The Englishman was
unable to get a grip of him, and at last held out his hands, inviting
Ross to grasp them. The invitation was “palm my arm.” This, it is said,
was exactly what Ross wanted. He seized the Englishman by the wrists,
and by a sudden jerk wrenched his arms out of their sockets, and then
made an end of him. Ross now claimed his reward; but the King having
repented of his offer to give the Inch and its castle, offered him
instead a space of land anywhere else. Ross thanked the King, expressed
his satisfaction with the Inch for his present services, and offered to
serve for the other piece of land at some other time. Thus, it is said,
originated the right of the Hawkhead family to the ancient castle and
Inch. Ross was commonly known as “ Palm-my-arm.” Figures of him and his
wife, Marjory Mure, may still be seen in the Parish Church, lying side
by side under an arch bearing the superscription Hie jacet Johes : Eos
miles quodam: donnnus de liawhehede et marjoria uxor sua: orate pro meis,
Not far from the place
where this combat took place, stood Queen Blear-eye’s monument, marking
the place where it is said she met with her fatal accident, and Robert
II., her son, first saw the light.
On the south side of the
Knock is a place known as the Butts, supposed to have been the place to
which the men of Renfrew were wont to repair in order to practise
The principal proprietors
in the parish are the Earl of Home, Lord Blythswood, Mr. A. A. Speirs of
Elderslie, Mr. J. W. Gordon Oswald of Scotstoun, and Mr. Parker Smith,
M.P., of Jordanhill.
The chief industries are
engineering, boiler-making, and shipbuilding ; in Scotstoun, besides
shipbuilding, are iron works, colour works, and motor car works. There
is a distillery at Yoker. Furniture is also made in the parish. At
Walkinshaw clayband ironstone is worked.
The population of the
parish, exclusive of the burgh of Renfrew, in 1901, was 5,846. In 1900,
the valuation was £42,952, and in 1905, £81,955.
The parish of Inchinnan
is bounded on the north by the river Clyde, on the east and south by the
rivers Cart and Gryfe, and on the west by the parishes of Erskine and
Houston. Its greatest length is about 3^ miles, and its greatest breadth
about 2 miles. It has an area of nearly 3,528 acres.
The surface, though
generally flat, is here and there diversified by slight elevations,
either beautifully wooded or under cultivation. The rivers are the
Clyde, the Gryfe, the Black Cart, the White Cart and the Cart. The Gryfe
joins the Black Cart in the grounds of Walkinshaw. Their united waters
join the White Cart at Inchinnan Bridge, and form the Cart which falls
into the Clyde. In the Cart before it joins the Clyde is the small
island known as Colin’s Isle. The soil consists for the most part of a
strong productive clay, but on the banks of the rivers it is a rich
loam. In the higher parts of the parish it is gravelly. The underlying
strata belong to the carboniferous period, and consist of grey
sandstone, shale, and coal. In several places dykes of ironstone occur,
sometimes of considerable thickness.
The lands of Inchinnan
were among the gifts of Malcolm IY. to Walter Fitz Alan. There were
other lands in the parish, some of which, together with the parish
church, were given to the Knights Templars by David I. In 1246 two
chalders of meal from the rents of his lands in Inchinnan were given by
Alexander the High Steward to the monks of Paisley, Thomas Bosco, his
steward, being one of the witnesses of the charter.
During the reign of
Robert I., the lands of Barns, Barnhill, Aldlands, Newlands and
Glenshinnoch, were given as a “ god-bairn gift” by Walter the High
Steward to Sir William Hamilton, the ancestor of the Dukes of Hamilton.
In 1375 the lands of Barns and Aldlands became the property of Sir
Robert Erskine by exchange with David de Hamilton.
The lands of Crukisfeu,
which belonged to Adam of Glasferth, were in 1330 purchased by Sir Alan
Stewart, and in 1361 Sir John Stewart of Darnley, having previously
resigned them into the hands of the King, received a charter of the
lands of Crukisfeu, Inchinnan, and Perthaykscot, to be held of the
granter in chief.
At Lyle, January 30,
1496, Robert Lord Lyle granted a bond of reversion in favour of Matthew
Earl of Lennox, Lord Darnley and Inchinnan, of the ten merk lands of the
town of Inchinnan, the four merk lands of the park of Inchinnan, the
three merk lands of Wrichtland and Rassele, and the three merk lands of
Craigton and Flures, for payment of sums amounting to 1,200 merks.6
James IV. in 1511 granted a charter of confirmation to Matthew Lord
Darnley, second Earl of Lennox, containing a clause by which, for the
special favour he bears towards his cousin, the said Earl, and for the
gratuitous services rendered by him, and for the preservation of the
castle of Crukisfeu, the manor and place of Inchinnan and other policies
within the lordship of Darnley, from the devastation and destruction
that might have happened to them during the time the said lands were in
ward, he granted and confirmed to him and his heirs male the said castle
and fortalice of Crukisfeu, etc., and the said manor and place of
Inchinnan with the parks and gardens thereof, the dominical lands of
Inchinnan, the lands of Quithill, the town of Inchinnan, Rasshele,
Wrichtland, Flures, Gardenarland, etc., with the whole common thereof,
extending to a twenty pound land of old extent in fee and heritage on
payment of one silver penny yearly when asked for.
After the battle of
Flodden, when the Earl of Lennox was slain, his estates fell into the
hands of the Crown. On the death of Matthew, fourth Earl of Lennox,
September 4, 1571, Crukisfeu and Inchinnan, with the rest of his
estates, passed to the King as heir male of the Stewarts of Darnley and
Lennox, who bestowed them upon his uncle, Charles Stewart, and after his
death without issue, upon his uncle, Robert Stewart, Bishop of Caithness,
who, on becoming Earl of March, restored them into the hands of the
King. They were then granted to Esme Stewart, Lord D'Aubigny, who was
made Duke of Lennox in 1581. On the death of Charles, sixth Duke of
Lennox, in 1672, the estates once more reverted to the Crown, and
Charles II. was served heir to them at Edinburgh, 1680. The retour of
the special service on that occasion specifies the lands of Inchinnan
and the patronage of the parish church. The Lennox estates were soon
after transferred by Charles to Charles Lennox, his natural son, by whom
they were sold in the beginning of the eighteenth century to James,
Marquess, afterwards Duke of Montrose. In 1737 such of the Lennox
property in the parish of Inchinnan as still remained to the Duke was
sold to Archibald Campbell of Blythswood, in whose family it still
Half of the lands of
Southbarr were, by a charter dated at Aberdeen, September 16, 1432,
granted by Agnes of Chalmers of Berwardiston, with the consent of her
husband, William of Chalmers of Fyndoven, to her dearest son and heir,
David of Barry, to be held of the Lord of Inchinnan and his heirs in feu
and heritage, for rendering for them yearly a chaplet of white roses at
Inchinnan at the Feast of S. John the Baptist in name of blench farm,
but only if asked.
The common of Inchinnan
appears to have been extensive. In 1505 Sir Robert Erskine claimed on
behalf of his tenants of Barns. Barnhill, and Aldlands, the right to
pasture their cattle upon it, and on July 22 in that year an arrangement
was made whereby fifty-four acres of the common were set apart for them,
for which on his infeftment in them, Sir Robert was to pay the Earl of
Lennox fifty pounds Scots. Twenty-five years later a dispute arose
between Dame Elizabeth Hamilton, Countess Dowager of Lennox, and John
Semple of Full wood as to their respective rights to certain portions of
the common known as Schawistoune, Tynkellaris, Maling, and the New Ward.
They submitted their case to Mr. Adam Colquhoun, parson of Stobo and
Official of Glasgow, William Stirling of Glorat, John Brisbane of
Bishopton, and James Freeland of that ilk, who issued their decree
arbitral on July 28, 1530.
The Temple lands in
Renfrewshire were acquired in 1637 by Bryce Semple of Cathcart. Those of
them in the parish of Inchinnan have been distributed amongst various
proprietors for some generations.
The lands of Barr were
formerly in the possession of the Stewarts of Barscube, who had their
mansion or manor-house upon them. The Stewarts of Barscube appear to
have been a branch of the Stewarts of Darnley.
The lands of Freeland
were formerly the inheritance of the Stewarts of Kilecroy.
No vestige now remains
either of the castle of Crukisfeu or of the place of Inchinnan, but
among the Lennox MSS. an inventory of the furniture and furnishing in
the latter has been preserved, comprising (l) “In the Chapel ij Mess
buikis, an image of the Babe Jesus, an image of Our Lady, and a great
image, with an image of St. Anne, a little image of ‘ Ewir bane ’
(ivory), that stood upon a ‘ chandlar.’ In the chapel chamber a
stand-bed, a press, a counter, a buffet stool, and a little chair. In
the hall two boards, furnished with forms, a great counter, a hart’s
horn, a board with two chests that stood before the fire, etc. (2) In
the other chaimers (chambers), the furnishings consist chiefly of beds,
presses, counters, and chests. The inventory is endorsed ‘ The Inventur
of the graithe in Inchinane, with the auld rotten papistrie thairin.’”
The date of the document is about 1570. The place, as we have seen, had
sometimes the honour of being visited by Royalty. “A very singular
circumstance,” writes Robertson, “ is connected with the ministers of
this parish ex officio. They have claimed, as undoubted chaplains of the
altarages and altars, commonly called ‘ Our Lady’s Altar ’ founded, and
of old situated in the kirk and parish of Inchinnan, to be undoubted
superiors of the land called Lady-acre; have granted charters, have
received feu duty and still receive it. They are, perhaps, the only
Presbyterian clergymen that have such an office in the Christian world.”
The present minister of the parish continues to be the superior of the
Lady Acre and to enjoy its revenue.
The ferry of Inchinnan,
which has been mentioned so often in connection with King James IV.,
together with the ferry-boat and the lands belonging to the ferry, was
the property of the Stewarts of Darnley. By a charter, dated at
Crookston, July 5, 1497, the ferry-boat of Inchinnan and all the lands
pertaining and of old custom belonging to that boat, lying in the
lordship of Inchinnan, on the east side of the church of S. Conval of
Inchinnan, below the waters of Gryfe and Cart and the granter’s lands on
the north, also his lands and the lands of the vicar’s mortification on
the west and east parts, “ cum garbis congelimis,” and teind sheaves and
other fruits, etc., within the parishes of Inverkip, Kilmacolm,
Killallan, Houston, Erskine, and Inchinnan, were granted by Matthew
Stewart Earl of Lennox, etc., to Thomas Stewart of Barscube for a yearly
rental of 26s. Scots. On the same day a precept in terms of this charter
was addressed by the Earl to John Whiteford of Paisley, James Steward of
Inchinnan, Robyne Caveris and James Steward of the Orchard, as bailies,
for infefting Stewart of Barscube in the ferry-boat and others. Sasine
was given by John Whiteford, in the presence of and at the special
command of the Earl, on the following day, July 6, 1497, on the ground
of the lands, at the church of Inchinnan. On February 3, 1636, William
Stewart obtained a charter from the commissioners of Marie, Duchess of
Lennox and Richmond, appointed for managing the affairs of her son, Esme,
Duke of Lennox, confirming a charter of alienation granted by Thomas
Stewart, fiar of Barscube, at the ferry of Inchinnan, of the ferry-boat
of Inchinnan ferry thereof, and all the lands and rights thereto
belonging, as in the first of the above charters. A note appended to
this confirmation states : “ The register money of this charter is quitt
to William Stewart, he having given oath and promise to ferry over all
strangers free upon the Sabbath day, but specially James Bell, Colonel
Henry Sinclair, and George Maxwell.” Later on, the Episcopal clergy of
the county, it will be remembered, objected to the use of the ferry on
Sundays. In May, 1663, a precept of clare constat was granted by the
Earls of Middleton and Glencairn and others, as commissioners for the
Duke of Lennox, for infefting Thomas Stewart as heir of his late father,
William Stewart, at the ferry of Inchinnan, in the ferry-boat and ferry
there, with the lands belonging to it. A field in the parish is still
known as the Ferrycroft.
The principal proprietor
in the parish is Lord Blythswood. The population of the parish in 1901
was 574. The valuation in 1900 was £6,322, and in 1905 £6,432.
The parish of Erskine is
bounded on the north by the river Clyde ; on the west by the parish of
Kilmacolm ; on the south by the united parishes of Houston and Killallan
and the parish of Kilmacolm ; and on the east by the parish of Inchinnan.
It has an extreme length of about eight and a half miles, is from two to
three miles broad, and has an area of 9,092 acres.
The parish is traversed
throughout its whole length, in the centre, by a ridge of hilly ground,
from which it shelves rapidly towards the north and more gently towards
the south. From Erskine House westward along the banks of the Clyde to
the West Ferry, opposite Dumbarton rock, is a fairly wide expanse of
low-lying alluvial land. At the west end of the parish the ground rises
more rapidly and the alluvial plain is much narrower. For the most part
the soil is light, friable, and damp, resting on till or hard stony
clay. In many places the diluvium is about six feet deep, and consists
for the most part of loose gravel, though here and there extensive beds
of clay occur. It is interspersed with huge boulders of granite and gray
wacke, which appear to have been brought down by the ice from
Argyllshire. In the south-eastern part of the parish the strata belong
to the carboniferous period. Towards the west, porphyry and basalt
The barony of Erskine
belonged in the thirteenth century to the family of Erskine, who
retained possession of it down to the year 1638, when it was alienated
by John Earl of Marr to Sir John Hamilton of Orbiston, one of the
senators of the College of Justice. In 1703 the lands were sold by
William Hamilton of Orbiston to Walter Lord Blantyre. They are now the
property of Mr. W. A. Baird of Erskine, grandson of the late Lord
The lands of Bargarran,
after being in the possession of the Shaws of Bargarran—who were
descended from a younger brother of the family of Sauchie—for upwards of
three hundred years, were acquired in 1772 by Mr. Glen, by whose family
they were sold in 1812 to Lord Blantyre, and are now part of the Erskine
The lands of Bishopton
formerly belonged to the Brisbanes of Bishopton. About the beginning of
the eighteenth century they were alienated, along with the lands of
Wester Roslin, by John Brisbane, who, however, retained the superiority,
to John Walkinshaw of that ilk, as also the lands of Drum, Kirkland, and
Glenshinnoch. Walkinshaw subsequently received a charter of novodamus of
these lands from the Crown. Bishopton was afterwards sold to Hugh
Dunlop, whose daughter and heiress, Janet, carried the lands with her
into the Semple family on her marriage to John, twelfth Lord Semple.
From the Semples they were acquired by Sir John Maxwell of Pollok.
Subsequently they were purchased by Lord Blantyre, and now form part of
the Erskine estates.
In the reign of James
IV., William Park of that ilk, the last of his race, left the lands of
Park to his three daughters, among whom his estate was divided. The
lands of Park went to Christian, the eldest, who married Robert
Cunninghame of Achinharvie, by whom she had a daughter, Janet
Cunninghame, heiress of Park, who married George Houstoun. The lands
afterwards became the property of Cuninghame of Craigends. In 1801 they
were acquired by John King of Millbank, and formed part of the estate of
Millbank and Drums. Millbank is now in the possession of Mr. John A.
Holms; the Park of Erskine is the property of Mr. W. T. Lithgow.
The lands of Dargavel
belonged originally to the Lennox family, and were given by John Earl of
Lennox, in 1522, to Patrick Maxwell of Newark, Marion Crawfurd, his
spouse, and John Maxwell, his eldest son, in fee. To him succeeded James
Maxwell of Dargavel, his son, and to him Patrick, his son, who was slain
at Lockerby in the feud between the Maxwells and Johnstones, in 1593. He
was succeeded by John, who married Margaret, daughter of James Wallace
of Johnstone. John, his son and successor, married Jean, daughter of
William Cuninghame of Craigends. The property of the Maxwells of
Dargavel at one time included the lands of Fulbar, an ancient possession
of the Halls of Fulbar, who had a charter of the said lands from James
the Steward of Scotland (1263-1309). They were sold in 1746 to Mr.
Speirs of Elderslie, in whose family they are now. John Maxwell entailed
the estate of Dargavel, and, dying without issue, was succeeded by his
brother, William Maxwell of Freeland, who dying unmarried, the estate
devolved upon John Hall, second son of Robert Hall of Fulbar, who, in
terms of the entail, took the name and designation of John Maxwell of
Dargavel. Dargavel is now the property of Captain T. E. Hall Maxwell,
R.N. Fulwood is the property of the Earl of Home.
The lands of Craigton
were formerly owned by the Patersons of Craigton. Those of Drums, which
in the beginning of the nineteenth century belonged to James King of
Drums, now belong to Mr. W. T. Lithgow of Drums House. Other proprietors
in the parish are the Earl of Home, Mr. David Cross of Ingliston, Mr.
William Houstoun of Rossland, and Mr. George Jardine Kidston.
There are two villages in
the parish—Bishopton and Langbank. There is also a small village near
the railway station. The chief industry is agriculture.
The East and West
Ferries, to and from Kilpatrick and Dumbarton, were formerly much in
The population of the
parish in 1901 was 1,519. The valuation in 1900 was £19,726, and in 1905
The parishes of Houston
and Killallan were united in 1760.
The united parish is
bounded on the west by the parish of Kilmacolm ; on the south by the
parish of Kilbarchan ; and on the north and east by the parish of
Erskine. It is about six miles long and five broad, and has an area of
The only considerable
river in the parish is the Gryfe, which rises in the high lands on the
border of the shire, in the parish of Kilmacolm. The main streams by
which it is fed unite near the old castle of Duchal, after which it
enters the low country at Fulwood.
The surface of the parish
varies. Towards the east it is flattest and most fertile. Towards the
west the surface rises, and is more irregular. In the highest parts
granite prevails ; in the lower, sandstone and limestone occur. The
extensive mosses which at one time covered a large part of the old
parish of Killallan are now rapidly being reclaimed. Here and there are
During the reign of
Malcolm IV., Hugh de Padinan received from Baldwin de Bigres, Sheriff of
Lanark, a grant of the lands of Kilpeter, which afterwards came to be
known as the barony of Houston or Hugh’s Town. The barony remained in
the hands of the Houstouns down to about the year 1740, when it was
alienated by them, after possessing it for upwards of five hundred
years, to Sir John Shaw of Greenock. From the Shaws it passed to Sir
James Campbell of Jamaica, and by his heir to Governor Macrae, by whose
representative it was sold in the year 1782 to Mr. Archibald Speirs of
Elderslie, in whose family it now remains.
The house and barony of
Barrochan belonged to the ancient family of the Flemings of Barrochan.
After remaining in the family for upwards of six hundred years, part of
the lands were in 1818 acquired by Mr. Archibald Speirs of Elderslie.
The remainder were still in the family of their ancient owners in 1836.
These have since been acquired by Sir Charles Bine Renshaw, Bart., M.P.
Part of the ancient mansion still remains.
The lands of Fulwood
belonged anciently to the Flemings, Earls of Wigton. In the reign of
Robert II., they belonged to one of the old families of the Semples. In
1452 William Semple of Fulwood witnessed the donation.of Crukatshot by
William Lord Lyle to the monks of Paisley. John Semple of Fulwood was
one of the arbiters chosen by Abbot George Shaw and the magistrates of
Renfrew to settle the boundaries of their respective properties.3 The
family failed in the person of John Semple of Fulwood, who about the
year 1679 alienated the lands of Fulwood to John Porterfield of that
ilk, by whom they were given in patrimony to Alexander Porterfield, his
second son. The Porterfields sold the lands of Fulwood to Mr. Archibald
Speirs of Elderslie in 1774, with whose family they now are.
The lands of Blackburn
also belonged to an ancient family of Semples. For a time they were in
the possession of a branch of the Semples of Fulwood. These also were
acquired by Mr. Speirs of Elderslie.
The lands of Boghall
belonged to one of the old families of the name of Fleming, descended
from a younger son of the Flemings of Biggar. In 1581 they passed to
John Lord Fleming, as the heir of John Fleming of Boghall. In 1710 they
were the property of Lord Dundonald. Subsequently they passed into the
possession of Boyd Alexander of Southbarr. The woodland of Craigends and
other properties of Mr. J. C. Cuninghame of Craigends are in this
Formerly cotton mills and
bleachfields gave employment to a large number of people in the parish.
The principal industry now is agriculture. At Houston, an ancient burgh
of barony, the market cross of which, bearing the date 1713, still
remains, a number of women are employed in embroidery, an industry
formerly carried on in the parish, and recently revived by Lady Ann
Speirs. Part of the quoad sacra parish of Bridge of Weir is in the
parish of Houston.
The population of the
united parishes in 1901 was 2,041. The valuation is set down at £14,876
in 1900, and in 1905 at £14,839.
The parish of Kilbarchan,
which lies in the very centre of the shire, and is of the shape of an
isosceles triangle with its apex turned towards the east, is bounded by
the parish of Lochwinnoch on the west and south-west; by the Abbey of
Paisley parish, on the south and south-east; by the parish of Renfrew on
the east; by those of Inchinnan and Erskine, on the north-east; by that
of Houston, on the north ; and by that of Kilmacolm, on the north-west.
The shortest side of the parish is the western. At the apex of the
triangle the Black Cart and the Gryfe meet, the former flowing along the
south-east side of the parish and the latter along the north side.
The parish is about seven
miles long, and has an average breadth of about two miles. It has an
area of 9,098 acres.
After the rivers already
mentioned, the principal stream in the parish is the Locher, a tributary
of the Gryfe. In the eastern part of the parish the surface is generally
level; in the western, towards the parishes of Lochwinnoch and Kilmacolm,
it is more varied, being sometimes bold and striking, well wooded and
picturesque. In the lower parts of the parish the soil is chiefly
alluvial and fertile; in the higher parts it is gravelly and light. The
rocks in the western or higher parts of the parish are of volcanic
origin, consisting for the most part of greenstone and porphyry, and
here and there of basalt. At the old quarries at Springgrove and on the
Barr hill, the basalt rests upon sandstone and coal. Throughout this
area tuff occurs. In the lower part of the parish, borings show the
following in descending order—boulder clay, sandstone, dark blaes, blue
fakes, black fakes and coal, dark fakes, soft brown sandstone, grey
fakes and coal, grey fakes, white sandstone. Borings at Blackstone,
Middleton, Selvieland, and Linwood, gave from fourteen to twenty fathoms
of mud, sandy clays, brown clays, blue clays and till—all the result of
glacial action. Sandstone, limestone, coal, iron, and shale, have been
from time to time worked in the parish.
Formerly there were three
baronies in the parish and one burgh of barony—Kilbarchan.
The lands of Craigends
have been in the possession of the Cuninghames of Craigends for over
four hundred years. The first of the family was William Cuninghame
(1479-1520), who received the lands from his father, Alexander, first
Earl of Glencairn. The present representative of the family is Mr. John
Charles Cuninghame of Craigends, the thirteenth from the first laird.
Reckoning backwards to Warnebaldus, from whom the Cuninghames draw their
descent, he represents the twenty-seventh generation.
The lands and barony of
Auchinames continued in the possession of the Crawfurds of Auchinames
for about four hundred years. The first of the family was Sir Reginald
Crawfurd of Crosbie, second son of Sir Hugh Crawfurd, Baron of Loudon
and Sheriff of Ayr. For his services at Bannockburn he was rewarded by
Robert I. with a part of the barony, and with the privilege of adding to
his shield two lances in saltire. He died about 1358. The family is now
represented by Hugh Ronald George Crawfurd of Auchinames. The barony
includes the following : Auchinames,
Bankhead, Rabston and
Glentyan Hill, Glentyan, Houston’s property, Minister’s Park, Honeyman’s
property, Nebannoy, Kibbleston, Craigton, Craig’s Plantation, Cartside,
Wardend, Huthead, Langside, Callochant, North and South Overton,
Gladstone, Burntshields Glebe and Mossfoul, Dampton, and Passinglinn.
The lands of Bar in
Kilbarchan, Brandiscroft, Weitlands, Harris-pennaldis, Bordlands, and
Thirdpart of Auchinames, anciently formed part of the barony of
Craiginfeoch, belonging to the Semples of Elliotstoun.1 They were
incorporated into the barony by a charter granted to William Lord Semple
by James V., March 17, 1539-40.
The lands of Ranfurly
were anciently the property of the Knoxes of Ranfurly. The first of
them, about whom there is anything recorded, was John Knokkis, who, in
1440, granted to James, son of John Crawfurd of Giffartlands, the lands
of Barbethie in the lordship of Ranferlie and barony of Renfrew. John,
his heir, who was styled “of Craiganys,” granted a disposition in favour
of his son, Uchtred, of the twenty merk land of Ranfurly and the one
hundred shilling land of Grifis Castle, reserving to himself a liferent,
and for his wife, if she survived him, her tierce. For Ranfurly. the
reddendo was ward and relief and suit at the Court of Renfrew, and for
Gryfe Castle, a red rose at the feast of St. John the Baptist. John, the
seventh in descent, obtained from his grandfather a conveyance of
Ranfurly-Knox, Gryfe Castle, and Nether Craigends. It was this John who
occasioned a tumult in the church at Kilbarchan aud was accused of
slaying his uncle, and who, before he had cleared himself of that
scandal, was ordered by the Presbytery to attend the communion. In 1633,
Nether Craigends was sold to William Cuninghame of Craigends. Two years
later, Ranfurly and Gryfe Castle were sold to Lord Cochran, afterwards
Earl of Dundonald, from whom they were shortly afterwards acquired by
the family of Aikenhead.
After the Stewards, the
lands of Selvinland appear to have been first owned by Patrick de
Selvinland. Crawfurd says that he saw a charter granted by James the
High Steward of Scotland, grandfather of Robert II., Stephano jilio
Nicolai de terra quae data fuit Patricio de Selvinland juxta burgum de
Renfrew? Who this Patrick was does not appear to be known. As little is
known of Stephen, son of Nicolas. James the Steward died in 1309, and
between that and 1320 Gilbert, son of Uchtred Knox, who may have
belonged to the Knoxes of Ranfurlie, received a charter of the land
called “ Servingland” from Walter Steward of Scotland, father of Robert
II., who died in 1326. After remaining in the hands of the Knoxes of
Selviland for several generations, the lands were sold by Alexander Knox
(1624-1627) to the Brisbanes of Bishopton, who held them for nearly four
hundred years. In 1810, they were the property of William Napier, Esq.
They are now the property of Mr. R. T. N. Speirs of Culdees Castle,
The lands of Johnstone
were for several ages owned by a family of the surname of Wallace, who
were descended from the Elderslie branch of the family, through Thomas,
a younger son of John Wallace of Elderslie, in the reign of Robert III.
He obtained the lands of Johnstone by marriage with an heiress, who was
of the surname of Nisbet. The family failed in the person of William
Wallace of Johnstone in the reign of Charles I. The lands were acquired
by Sir Ludovic Houstoun of that ilk, and became the patrimony of George
Houstoun, his second son. In 1733, George Houstoun sold the lands of
Johnstone to James Milliken, but reserved the name of Johnstone, by
which his other property, the Old Place of Quarrelton or Easter Cochran
Tower, came to be designated. James Milliken died without male issue,
and the lands passed by the marriage of his daughter, Jean, to Colonel
William Napier of Culcreuch in Stirlingshire. They are now known as
The lands of Blackstone
formerly belonged to the Abbey of Paisley. Upon them was that Grange of
the Abbey, to which Abbot George Shaw retired after his resignation of
the abbacy, and where he spent the remaining days of his life. In the
first half of the seventeenth century, the lands of Blackstone were the
possession of a family of the surname of Maxwell. Catherine, the heiress
of John Maxwell of Blackstone, married Alexander Napier, who was
descended from Adam, the sixth son of John Napier of Merchiston, the
inventor of logarithms, and thus by his marriage became the owner of the
said lands. His second son, Alexander, who succeeded his elder brother,
John, pulled down the old grange, which is said to have been built by
Abbot George Shaw, and was in part destroyed by fire in 1730, and built
the existing house. During the rebellion he made himself conspicuous as
commander of a party of militia, in consequence of which a body of
soldiers from the army of Prince Charles in Glasgow paid him a visit,
and plundered his house. In 1843, William Napier of Blackstone sold the
house and lands of Blackstone to Thomas, brother of Robert Speir of
Burnbrae and Culdees.
The lands of Burntshields,
which lie to the south of the old castle of Ranfurly, were formerly the
possession of Bruntschels of that ilk. According to Crawfurd, John
Bruntschels, the last of his race, resigned them in favour of William
Lord Semple in 1547. In 1560 Robert Lord Semple gave them to
Andrew Semple, his second
son by Isobel Hamilton, daughter of Sir William Hamilton of Sanquhar.
Andrew Semple was the first of the Semples of Brunt-schelles. Since the
failure of his family, the lands have been divided into many different
The lands of Waterston,
which lie near those of Bruntschells, were anciently the property of the
Waterstons of that ilk. In 1384, William Waterston of that ilk disponed
them to Sir William Cunningham of Kilmaurs ; and in 1538, William,
Master of Glencairn, gave them to Hugh Cunningham, his son, from whom
descended the Cunninghams of Carlung. In 1810, they formed part of the
estates of the Napiers of Milliken.
About the beginning of
the eighteenth century, the village of Kilbarchan was erected into a
free burgh of barony in favour of William Cuninghame, then of Craigends.
In the same parish are the village of Linwood and part of the village of
Bridge of Weir. Both owe their existence chiefly to the erection of
cotton and flax mills about the beginning of the nineteenth century. In
both places the mills have been long closed. Linwood is now chiefly
inhabited by miners and paper makers. Bridge of Weir is for the most
part used as a place of residence b}^ people in business in Glasgow.
At the beginning of the
last century, the burgh and parish of Kilbarchan were the scenes of
thriving industries. The chief of them were cotton and flax spinning,
weaving, and bleaching. Most of these industries are now almost entirely
discontinued, and there are only about a hundred and eighty looms
employed in the village. At present farming may be said to be the
principal industry, though a number of the inhabitants find employment
in Johnstone, Paisley, and Glasgow. At Locher are calico printing works
and a paper mill.
On the banks of S.
Bride’s burn is a remarkable stone known as Clocho-derick. Upon Barrhill,
to the east of the village of Kilbarchan, are the remains of what is
supposed to have been a Danish camp. According to Chalmers it was a
Celtic stronghold. According to another legend it was once defended by
Sir William Wallace, who, it is said, sat upon a pinnacle called
Wallace’s Chair, and enticed the English into the bog at the bottom,
where they perished.
The most notable
individual whom Kilbarchan produced in ancient times was Habbie or
Robert Simpson. He was a contemporary of Shakespeare, and though he held
the humble office of Town-piper, he managed to make himself famous by
his roguery as well as by his skill.
The population of the
parish in 1901 was 7,226 ; and the valuation was, in 1900, £46,318, and
in 1905, £48,679.
The parish of Lochwinnoch,
which, with one exception, is the largest parish in the county, is
bounded on the south by Beith ; on the west, by Kilbirnie and Kilmacolm
; on the north, by Kilbarchan ; and on the east, by the Abbey parish of
Paisley and Neilston. From east to west the parish is about twelve miles
long, and from north to south about six miles broad. It has an area of
nearly 19,878 acres, of which 371 are water.
The surface of the parish
is very irregular and hilly. The highest hills in the shire are situated
in the western part of the parish. These, together with the lochs and
the peculiar volcanic formation on Misty Law, have been noticed in the
Introductory Chapter. Robertson’s description of the parish is
singularly apt and is still worth quoting, though written as far back as
1810. “ Lochwinnoch,” he says, “ is greatly diversified in its general
aspect. Part of it consists of high and bleak hills in the back ground;
part of it is a low winding valley, in general of a very fertile soil;
and in the heart of it is the largest loch or lake in the county. This
valley, with its shelving country towards it on both sides, contains
nearly the whole population. It is also ornamented with plantations,
whilst the houses of its numerous small proprietors are each set down
under the shade of a few old trees in the midst of well-cultivated spots
of ground. The whole strath has a warm and cheerful appearance. It is
the very vale of Tempe of Renfrewshire.” Some of the beauty which
Robertson saw in the valley is now gone. Two lines of railway have been
driven through it destroying its original aspect, and giving to the
place a very different appearance.
The most remarkable
geological feature in the parish are the dykes, etc., on Misty Law
already referred to. The rocks are for the most part of volcanic origin;
but besides innumerable varieties of greenstone, basalt, amygdaloid,
porphyry, etc., claystone and freestone are found overlying coal.
Limestone, ironstone, and shale also occur.
“Upon the brink of the
Loch” [Castle Semple Loch], writes Crawfurd, "stands the Castle of
Semple, the principal messuage of a fair lordship of the same
denomination, which consists of a large court, part of which seems to be
a very ancient building, adorned with pleasant orchards and gardens.”
The original possession
of the Semples within the parish appears to have been Eliotstoun in the
district of Howwood, where is the ruin of their ancient castle, and from
which they took their designation of Eliotstoun. Sir William Semple had
a charter of the baronies of Eliotstoun and Castleton upon his own
resignation, dated October 4,1474. In 1505, Sir John, first Lord Semple,
had a charter of the lands of Eliotstoun, Castleton, Shutterflat,
Bar in Kilbarchan,
Whitelands, Bordland, Craigenfeoch, and Fereneze, in the shire of
Renfrew, and of other lands in the county of Ayr. In 1539-40, William
Lord Semple had a charter from James V. erecting the lands of Fereneze,
Raiflat, Bar in Kilbarchane, Brandiscroft, Weitlandis, Haris-pen-naldis,
Bordlandis, Mechelstoun, and Craginfeach, the twenty pound land old
extent of Auchinfoyr, the ten merk land old extent of Thirdpart of
Auchin-ames, together with lands in the bailiary of Cunningham into the
free barony of Craginfeauch. In the same, year and on the same day
(March 17,1539-40), the same William Lord Semple had another charter
from the King erecting the lands of Castleton, the lands of Eliotstoun,
Schutirflat, Nethir-Pennell, Hairstontoun, the lands of Lavane, Bargane,
and Lecheland, with other lands in the county of Lanark and in the
county of Ayr, into the free barony of Sympill, ordering the Castle of
Semple to be the principal messuage thereof. These large estates, many
of which are in the parish of Lochwinnoch, passed by purchase in 1727
from Hugh, eleventh Lord Semple, to Colonel William MacDowall, a younger
son of MacDowall of Garthland, in the county of Wigton, and a descendant
of Fergus MacDowall Lord of Galloway. In this family the estates
remained till 1808, when they were in part disponed to various
purchasers. The principal part of the property, including the mansion
and grounds of Castle Semple, was acquired by Mr. John Harvey, whose
descendant, Mr. J. W. Shand Harvey of Castle Semple, is still the
proprietor. Another portion of the MacDowall estate, including the land
and house of Barr, went to Mr. James Adam. Garthland, Newton of Barr,
and other parts of the ancient property of the MacDowalls in this
parish, are in the possession of Mr. H. MacDowall of Garthland and
Carruth, the representative of the family.
The lands of Milbank,
near Castle Semple, belonged to James Semple, son of Andrew, Master of
Semple. They were sold by Robert Semple of Milbank, who died in 1663.
Afterwards they passed to a family of the name of Orr. They are now the
property of Mr. H. MacDowall.
The lands of Balgreen
belonged to Margaret Atkine, as her father’s heiress. She married a
natural son of the family of Semple. After being in the family of the
Semples for some time, the lands she inherited passed into the
possession of the MacDowalls. Subsequently they were acquired by William
The lands of Beltrees,
which lie opposite to Castle Semple on the south of the loch, were
granted, in 1477, by James III. to William Stewart and Alison Kennedy,
his spouse. On October 4, 1545, William Lord Semple received a grant of
the five pound lands of old extent of Bultreis, which John Stewart de
Bultreis personally resigned. Afterwards, they became the patrimony of
John Semple, son of Robert Lord Semple, by his second wife, Elizabeth
Carlile, a daughter of the house of Torthorwald, who was the ancestor of
the Semples of Beltrees. After remaining in the Semple of Beltrees
family for several generations, the lands were finally alienated from
it, in 1677-8, by Francis Semple of Beltrees. The family had other
property in the parish, which they parted with in 1758. In 1810, the
lands of Beltrees were the property of Cochran of Ladyland, and seven
The lands of Gavan and
Risk were an old property of the Boyds, an Ayrshire family, and remained
for several hundred years in the hands of the Boyds of Badenheath. In
1518, they passed into the hands of Robert Boyd of Kipps, who was
descended from the family of Badenheath. About the beginning of the
eighteenth century, the superiority of the said lands was acquired from
William first Earl of Kilmarnock by Lord Glasfoord. In 1810, the lands
were in the possession of Cochran of Ladyland and five others.
The barony of Cochran
belonged to the Cochrans, a family of great antiquity in the shire.
According to Crawfurd, John Cochran of that ilk had a licence under the
Great Seal granted to him by James IV., dated October 31, 1509, to sell
either the lands of Easter Cochran in Renfrewshire, or his lands of
Pitfour in Perthshire. To William Cochran of that ilk the lands of
Cochran were confirmed, by a charter of Queen Mary, in 1576. By marriage
the lands of Cochran passed to Alexander Blair, a younger son of John
Blair of that ilk, who was obliged to adopt the surname and arms of
Cochran of that ilk. One of his sons was Sir William Cochran of Cowdon,
and one of his grandsons William Cochran of Ferguslie. Sir John, who
succeeded to the estates, was highly esteemed by Charles I. Dying
without heirs, he was succeeded by his brother, Sir William Cochran of
Cowdon, afterwards (1669) Earl of Dundonald. Easter Cochran was sold in
the reign of James V. by John Cochran of that ilk, and of Pitfour, to
James Beaton, then Archbishop of Glasgow, who sold it in 1535 to William
Cunningham of Glengarnock, from whose family the lands of Quarrelton
passed to Alexander Porterfield, and from him they passed to George
Houstoun of Johnstone, in whose family the lands of Easter Cochran now
are, as also the lands of Midton, Howwood, and Muirdykes.
The lands of Barr
belonged to a family of the surname of Glen, who date back to the
beginning of the fifteenth century. In the beginning of the eighteenth
century the lands were the property of John Hamilton of Barr, the
representatives of the Hamiltons of Ferguslie. A century later, the
lands had been divided among nine proprietors, among whom James Adam of
Barr was the largest owner.
The lands of Glen
belonged to the Abbey of Paisley, and afterwards to the Semples. They
are now divided among a considerable number of proprietors.
The lands of Auchinbothie
Wallace were resigned in 1398 by John Wallace of Elderslie in favour of
his son, Thomas Wallace, from whom descended the Wallaces of Johnstone.
From the family of the same John Wallace came also the Wallaces of
Ferguslie and the Wallaces of Neilston-side.
Like the lands of
Auchinbothie Blair and Auchingowan Stewart, and the rest of the ancient
estates in the parish, the lands of Auchinbothie Wallace have been
divided among a number of proprietors. At one time most of the parish
was the property of the Semples of Eliotstoun ; at another time it was
in the possession of the MacDowalls; but all that is now changed.
The old castle of
Eliotstoun still stands, though in an exceedingly ruinous condition.
Near the ruin of the old castle on the lands of Auchinbothie, on the
farm of Laightrees, is a small eminence in the midst of a meadow called
Wallace’s Knowe, where, according to tradition, Wallace defended himself
against a party of Englishmen. Barr Castle is in a remarkable good state
of preservation. It was in this parish that the battle of Muirdykes was
fought. Near the scene of it are the remains of a castle or fort,
supposed by some to owe its origin to Sir William Wallace, and by others
to be one of the hill forts formed by the Celts.
A number of canoes have
from time to time been dug up in the parish. Besides these, a number of
gold and silver coins, a ladle of Corinthian brass, and querns, have
At the beginning of last
century the people found employment in quarrying, spinning, weaving, and
bleaching. The principal industries are, besides farming, bleaching and
Some of the Semples of
Beltrees had a literary gift. Sir James (15791626) was educated under
George Buchanan, the celebrated humanist; he acted as amanuensis to King
James YI. when writing the Basilicon Doron, and took a no inconsiderable
part in the polemics of his time. His grandson, Francis, has long been
held in repute as a poet, though some of his productions are not
striking for their ability.
The population of the
parish in 1901 was 4,402 ; and the valuation in 1900, £32,514, and in
The parish of Kilmacolm
is bounded on the west by the parishes of Port-Glasgow, Greenock,
Inverkip, and Largs; on the east, by Houston and Erskine ; on the south,
by Kilbarchan and Lochwinnoch ; and on the north, by the Clyde. From
east to west it is about eight miles long, and from north to south its
greatest breadth is six and a half miles. The whole consists of nearly
The surface of the
district is greatly diversified. In the centre, running nearly east and
west, is a valley, drained by the Gryfe and by no means level, which
rises up on either side to a considerable height. The side next the
Clyde is steep and rough, but not wanting in beauty. A great part of the
parish, especially in the west and south, is moorland, bleak, and of
quite a Highland aspect.
Along the Gryfe the soil
is good, but on the moorland it is light and gravelly, though here and
there excellent pasture is found. The rocks are, for the most part
whinstone, the parish differing in this respect from almost the whole of
the other parts of the shire.
In the twelfth century
the parish may be said to have been divided into two almost equal parts
between the baronies of Duchal and Dennistoun.
The barony of Duchal
remained with the Lyles for upwards of three hundred years, when, along
with their other estates, the lands thereof were gradually alienated. On
October 21, 1539, James Lord Lyle disponed the lands of Kilmacolm to
Patrick Maxwell of Newark. On September 14, 1545, he sold to William
Earl of Glencairn “ the lands off Ovir Manis of Duchell, with the tower,
place, and fortalice of the same, Nether Manis of Myltoun, with the mill
there, Hawtanrig and Carroth, etc.” The greater part of the Duchal
property, however, passed in 1544, by purchase, to the Porterfields of
that ilk, from whom it passed by grant of the Crown to Lord Melfort,
from whom it was subsequently taken and returned to the Porterfields.
When Robertson was preparing his edition of Crawfurd, the property was
undergoing a process of division among various members of the
Porterfield family. The greater part of the old barony of Duchal now
belongs to Sir H. Shaw Stewart, M.P.
The lands of Cairncurran
formed part of the Lyle estate, and when Lord Lyle sold Duchal to
Porterfield, he sold Cairncurran to the Lady of Craigends, mother of
that William Cuninghame who became the first of the Cuninghames of
Cairncurran. On the failure of this family in the person of Charles
Cuninghame of Cairncurran, the estate was sold, in 1820, to William
MacDowall of Garthland and Castle Semple. The present proprietor is Mr.
Henry MacDowall of Garthland, who is the proprietor also of the lands of
Carruth, another portion of the ancient estates of the Lyles.
The free barony of
Dennistoun was for many generations the property of the Danielstons of
Dennistoun. On the marriage of Margaret Denniston, one of the two
daughters of Sir Robert Denniston, with Sir William Cunningham of
Kilmaurs, in 1405, both the barony of Denniston and the barony of
Finlaystone passed into the Kilmaurs family. In 1796, Finlaystone became
the property of Robert Graham of Gartmore, from whose family it passed
to Colonel Sir Carrick-Buchanan of Drumpelier, and from him to Mr.
George J. Kidston. Part of the old barony is now the property of Sir H.
Elizabeth, the other
daughter of Sir Robert Denniston, married Sir Robert Maxwell of
Calderwood in the same year that her sister married into the family of
Kilmaurs. She took with her as her dowry, among other estates, the free
barony of Newark. Sir Robert Maxwell was killed at Verneuil in 1424. He
was succeeded by his son, Sir John Maxwell, by whom, in 1477, the lands
of Newark were given to his son, Sir George Maxwell. In 1668, Sir
Patrick Maxwell of Newark sold the lands of Devil’s Glen to the city of
Glasgow, who built upon it the harbour of Port-Glasgow. In the early
years of the eighteenth century, George Maxwell or Napier (a name which
he had assumed in consequence of his marriage) alienated his ancestral
lands to William Cochran of Kilmarnock. After remaining in the
possession of the latter for some years, they were disponed to Sir James
Hamilton of Rosehall. Subsequently they passed to Charles Hamilton of
Wishaw. For some time they were the property of the Belhaven family. In
1820, they were sold to Robert Farquhar, a London banker, and are now
the property by inheritance of Sir H. Shaw Stewart, M.P., of Ardgowan
As the reader of the
preceding pages will have observed, men belonging to the parish of
Kilmacolm have played an important part in the history of the country.
Until about twenty-five years ago, the village of Kilmacolm was an
extremely small and drowsy place. Now it is a populous and fashionable
place of residence. There are no industries in the parish with the
exception of farming. Within the parish are large charitable
The population of the
parish in 1901 was 4,886, and is rapidly increasing. The valuation in
1900 was £45,246, and in 1905, £52,120.
The parish of Greenock
was disjoined from the parish of Inverkip in the year 1592. Some account
of the burghs of Greenock and Cartsburn has already been given. In the
following notice of the parish, therefore, they will be omitted.
The parish of Greenock
stretches about four and a half miles along the shore, and nearly as far
inland. It is bounded by the Clyde on the north and north-east; by the
parishes of Port-Glasgow and Kilmacolm on the southeast ; by Kilmacolm
and Houston on the south ; and by Inverkip and Gourock on the west. It
has an area of 6,247 acres.
From the south shore of
the Clyde the ground rises somewhat abruptly to a height of upwards of
600 feet. At the western end of the parish the ascent is interrupted by
a lower ridge which terminates somewhat sharply in a rocky hill called
Binnans. Beyond the second or higher ridge a moor stretches a
considerable way into the interior of the shire. In this moorland the
The soil is generally
poor. On the shore it is chiefly clay mixed with sea-shells and gravel.
On the higher grounds there are patches of rich loam, but generally
speaking the soil is stiff and clayey.
The soil rests upon rocks
of volcanic origin, as in almost the whole of the county. In some places
the stratified rocks rise to a height of more than 100 feet above the
level of the sea, and are overtopped by greenstone, of which most of the
eminences in the parish are composed. Here and there the strata are
crossed by dykes of greenstone, or of soft clay-stone. In the upper part
of the parish are beds of red and of greenish marly clay, alternating
with red sandstone strata, and containing in some places considerable
masses of limestone.
The lands of Easter and
Wester Greenock have been in the family of their present proprietor for
The lands of Finnart were
at one time part of the patrimony of the noble house of Douglas. After
their forfaulture in 1445, they were given by James II. to James first
Earl of Arran, in 1457, and thence passed, in 1510, in patrimony to
James Hamilton, his natural son, by Mary Boyd, daughter of Boyd of
Barshaw. Hamilton was forfeited in 1540, when his lands were annexed to
the Crown. The lands of Finnart were then bestowed by James V. upon
Alexander Shaw of Sauchie, who, two years after, disponed them, with the
barony of Wester Greenock, to John Shaw, his son.
The lands of Cartsburn,
as already remarked, were anciently part of the barony of Kilbirny, and
became the patrimony of a younger brother of that family, whose
posterity ended in the person of David Crawfurd of Cartsburn, in the
reign of Charles I. They then passed to Malcolm Crawfurd of Newton. In
1669, Dame Margaret Crawfurd, Lady of Kilbirny, with the consent of her
husband, disponed them to her cousin, Thomas Crawfurd, second son of
Cornelius Crawfurd of
Jordanhill. Since then they have come to their present proprietor.
The chief proprietors of
the parish are Sir Hugh Shaw Stewart, Bart., M.P., Sir C. Bine Renshaw,
Bart., M.P., and Thomas MacKnight Crawfurd of Cartsburn.
Exclusive of Greenock and
Port-Glasgow burghs, the population of the parish is 8,900. The
valuation in 1900 was £6,600, and in 1905, £6,519.
The parish of Inverkip,
the most westerly in the shire, is bounded on the north and west by the
Firth of Clyde; on the south by part of Ayrshire ; and on the east by
the parishes of Kilmacolm and Greenock. It is about five miles long, and
nearly as many broad. It has a coast line of about twenty miles in
length, and an area of 13,237 acres.
The surface is very
uneven. There is a very beautiful and fertile tract of country about the
bay of Inverkip on the west, and another of nearly the same extent
around the bay of Gourock on the north. The other arable lands are
limited to narrow strips along the shore, up the sides of the hills, and
by the streams Kelly, Daff, and Kipp. The greater part of the parish
lies high, but much of what in Robertson’s day was moorland is now under
The geology of the parish
is much the same as that of the parish of Greenock. Excellent red
sandstone is found in the parish, and is extensively used in building.
The only industry in the parish is farming. Villas are being extensively
built in it, especially in the neighbourhood of Wemyss Bay. Gourock,
which has already been noticed, is rapidly extending, and is a
fashionable sea-side resort.
The greatest part of the
property in the parish belongs to the Ardgowan family, by whom it has
been gradually acquired by purchase or inheritance, but chiefly by the
Other ancient families in
the parish were the Darrochs of Gourock, the Hyndmans of Lunderston, and
the Wallaces of Kelly. The last were descended from the Wallaces of
The population of the
parish in 1901 was 7,246. The valuation of the landward part of the
parish in 1900 was £24,100, and in 1905, £24,487.
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