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The New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845)
Volume VI - Lanark
Parish of New Monkland, or East Monkland


PRESBYTERY OF HAMILTON, SYNOD OF GLASGOW AND AYR.
THE REV. JAMES BEGG, D. D., MINISTER.

I.--T0P0GRAPHY AND NATURAL HISTORY.

Name.—The parishes of Old and New Monkland were formerly one parish, under the general name of Monkland,—a name derived from the monks of the Abbey of Newbottle, to whom the lands belonged. The parish was divided into two in the year 1640,— the eastern division being named New Monkland, and the western Old Monkland.

Boundaries, Extent.—The parish is in the middle ward of Lanarkshire, and forms a part of the north boundary of the county. It is nearly ten miles in length from east to west, and seven in breadth near the middle, but narrower at both ends; bounded on the south by the parishes of Bothwell and Shotts; on the east by those of Torphichen and Slamannan; on north by those of Cumbernauld and Kirkintilloch ; and on the west by those of Cadder and Old Monkland.

Soil and Climate.—The soil is various. That in the north and west parts of the parish is the best, consisting partly of a strong clay, and partly of a dry soil; which soils, when properly cultivated, are capable of bearing any kind of crops. The middle and east parts are of a mossy soil, and, in early seasons, yield good crops of oats, flax, potatoes, and rye-grass hay; but in cold late seasons the oats do not ripen well. There are no hills nor mountains in the parish, though the greater part of it is high. The highest lands are in the middle of the parish, and run the whole length of it from east to west, declining gently on each side to the rivers Calder and Loggie, which are its south and north boundaries. These high lands may be from five to six or seven hundred feet above the level of the sea, and a great part of them are covered with mosses, which in that elevated situation are not capable of improvement, except at a very great expense.

Owing to the elevated situation of the country, the weather is, on the whole, rather cold and wet. For a great part of the year the winds are from the west and south-west; but in the months of April, May, and part of June, generally from the east. The severest weather, with heavy falls of snow, is in general from the north-east. The common nervous fever, or typhus fever, seems to be the most prevalent disease. It is very frequently in some part of the parish. Consumptions, inflammations, and rheumatisms, are also frequent.

Hydrography.—The large reservoir for supplying the Monkland Canal, and the Forth and Clyde Canal, which covers about 300 acres of land, is partly in this parish, and partly in the parish of Shotts. There is a mineral well near Airdrie, which in former times was much frequented, but is now neglected. The water is strongly impregnated with iron and sulphur.

Geology.—This parish, so interesting to the student of geology, affords ample opportunities for studying the relations of the two grand series of rocks, the Neptunian and Plutonian. It is well supplied with whinstone or trap and sandstone. These are found in various places, and are convenient for building and making roads, &c. The parish also abounds with coal and ironstone of the best quality. In many places, different seams of coal are wrought, such as the ell coal, the pyatshaw, the humph, the main coal, and the splint. These seams are generally above the black band of ironstone, and below that there is the Kiltongue coal, and other sediik not yet sufficiently explored. In some places the seams are thin, not exceeding two or three feet in thickness; in other places of the parish, as Moffat, Whiteridge, and Ballochnie, the seams of coal are nine feet thick, of excellent quality, and very valuable. Smithy coal and blind coal are also wrought in some parts of the parish. Many of these coals are carried to Glasgow by the MonkIand Canal, and from thence many are carried to the highlands, and to Ireland. Many of them are also carried by the Ballochnie and Kirkintilloch railways to Kirkintilloch, and from thence by the Forth and Clyde Canal to Edinburgh.

The ironstone is found partly in balls, and partly in seams; the seams most common are the muscle band and the black band. The black band is by far the most valuable, and is generally found about fourteen fathoms below the splint coal. All the iron-works of Carron, Clyde, Calder, Gartsherrie, and Chapel Hall, are partly supplied with ironstone from this parish.

Limestone is also wrought in some parts of the parish, particularly on the north side of the parish, and at the west end, but not to any very great extent, as the Cumbernauld lime is of excellent quality, and generally used in this parish. Where the lands in the parish lie in the vicinity of the canal, or railway, or good roads, the minerals are considered of equal value, sometimes of more value than the surface. On the south side of the parish the metals in general dip to the south or south-west, towards the Clyde; but on the north side of the parish they in general dip to the east and south-east.

II.—CIVIL HISTORY.

Land-Owners.—The chief land-.owners of the parish are, Robert Buchanan, Esq. of Drumpellier; John Campbell Colquhoun, Esq. of Killermont; Robert Haldane, Esq. of Auchingray; Sir William Alexander of Airdrie-House; the Honourable William Elphinstone of Monkland; Alexander Gerard, Esq. Rochsoles; George More Nisbet, Esq. Cairnhill; Robert Jamieson, Esq. Arden; Thomas Falconer, Esq. Brownieside; Dr William Clerk of Moffat; Dr James Tenant of Bredinhill; William Steel, Esq. Annathill; George Waddel, Esq. l3allochnie; James M'Lean, Esq. of Medox. There are a great many other heritors in the parish. Few of the largest heritors are resident.

Modern Buildings.—The chief mansion-houses are those of Airdrie, Monkland, Rochsoles, Auchingray, &c.

A very neat town-house has been lately built in Airdrie, containing a prison, police-office, and a good town-hall. The Mason-Hall in Airdrie is also a very good room. The foundation of a very large cotton-mill has been newly laid near Airdrie, which, when finished, will employ a great number of people, in teasing, carding, and spinning cotton.

III.—POPULATION.

The population of the parish has been progressively increasing for a number of years past, both in the country part of the parish and in the town of Airdrie. The return of the population to Dr Webster, in the year 1755, gave 2713. The population at the time of the last Statistical Account, in the year 1792, was 3560. The following table exhibits the progressive increase of the population.

'rliis progressive increase of population has been owing to the coal-works in the parish, and the iron-works in the vicinity, having been greatly extended, and to the weavers of cotton cloth for the Glasgow manufacturers having greatly multiplied,—although at present they are very ill paid, and have poor wages.

In the year 1833, there were in the parish 125 marriages. In the same year there were 238 children born in the parish, and registered; and 153 deaths, reckoning from the number of mortcloths used. The number of proprietors of land above L. 50 of yearly rent is 68; there are, besides, a considerable number of smaller proprietors.

In Airdrie, there were in 1831, 669 weavers above 20 years of age; 223 coal-heavers, the number of whom is now greatly increased; and 160 ironstone miners, the number of whom is also greatly increased.

Character of the People.—In the country part of the parish, the people are in general strong and robust; but in Airdrie many of the weavers are feeble and small in stature. Both in town and country, the people are in general neat and clean in their dress, particularly on Sabbath when they go to church. The dress of the women is perhaps finer than is suitable for their situation in life. Many of the people are intelligent and sober, but some of them are rather fond of litigation. Smuggling, at no great distance of time, prevailed to a certain extent, but has now almost entirely ceased.

There have been 52 illegitimate births in the parish during the last three years.

IV-INDUSTRY.

Agriculture.—Some of the land in the north-west corner of the parish is very good and fertile, and may bring L. 2 or L. 3 per acre of rent yearly; but the land from the church eastward is not so good, being of a poorer soil, and much in want of shelter, and may vary in yearly value from 10s. to L. 1, 10s. per acre. The rental of the landward part of the parish is about L. 12,000, and of Airdrie about L. 6700. If there were belts of planting running from north to south, at regular distances, to protect from the north-east winds in spring, the advantage would be great. The improvement of the parish is, however, gradually advancing, and many acres of waste land have been ploughed within these twenty years past; but the price of agricultural labour is too high, compared with the very low price of the produce of the land at present, and if some change does not soon take place, agriculture must greatly declinp, and the poor soils be entirely neglected. Several ploughing matches take place in the parish yearly, by which much emulation among the ploughmen is excited, and those who obtain a first or second prize generally afterwards expect, and get higher wages. Much attention is paid to improving the breed of cattle; and the Ayrshire breed is preferred, and generally prevails in the parish. During the late war, flax brought a good price, and many acres, from 500 to 800, were cultivated yearly; but the price is now so low, that it will not yield a profit to the farmer, and is therefore now little attended to.

Rate of Wages.—Common Iabourers at present receive 10s. or 12s. per week; but masons, carpenters, slaters, &c. receive 15s. or 18s. per week.

V.—PAROCHIAL ECONOMY.

The only market-town in the parish is Airdrie, one of the new Parliamentary burghs, having all the privileges of a royal burgh, and along with Lanark, Hamilton, Falkirk, and Linlithgow, sending amember to Parliament. Its population still is rapidly increasing. The villages of Coltston, Clerkston, Greengairs, and Kiggend, are also thriving villages. The post-office is in Airdrie, and there is a post twice in the day.

Means of Communication.—The turnpike-roads in the parish are the one from Edinburgh to Glasgow by Bathgate and Airdrie, which intersects the south side of the parish, and the new road from Car- lisle to Stirling, which intersects the whole parish from south to north. These roads have afforded a very great facility to the improvement of the lands in their neighbourhood. The I3alochney rail-road, which is in this parish, connects itself with the Kirkintilloch rail-road, and the Garnkirk rail-road, for carrying coals to Glasgow, and the Forth and Clyde Canal at Kirkintilloch, from whence they are carried by the canal east to Edinburgh, and west to Greenock and Ireland,—the canal joining the Clyde near Old Kilpatrick.

Ecclesiastical State.— The parish church is situated about two miles from the west end of the parish, on an eminence, and is seen at a great distance from the west and north-west; it is far from the people in the east end of the parish, some of whom attend other churches more contiguous. The church contains 1200 sittings, and was built in the year 1777, and much repaired in 1817, and is at present in tolerable condition. One-fourth part of the sittings belongs to the people of Airdrie, which is situated about a mile and a-half or two miles from the church. The manse was repaired and enlarged in the year 1819, and is now in a comfortable state. The glebe contains ten Scotch acres of land, but it is of inferior soil. The stipend is 17 chalders, half meal, half barley, paid according to the fiars of the county, besides L. 10 for communion elements. There is a chapel of ease at-Airdrie connected with the Established Church, which contains about 650 sittings. The minister's stipend is L.120, raised from the seat-rents. There is another chapel built in Airdrie, fitted to accommodate 1200 sitters. There is also a small chapel at the village of Clerkston, occupied by a preacher of the Established Church, who preaches on Sabbath, and visits and examines the people in the village and vicinity through the week. The parish church, and these chapels, are in general well attended. The average number of communicants in the parish church is between 1000 and 1100: and those of the Airdrie chapel are about 400 more.

There are four Dissenting or Seceding meeting-houses in the parish, two of which belong to the United Secession, one to the Old Light Burghers, and one to the Old Dissenters or Cameron- inns. Some of these meeting-houses are considerably loaded with debt, and some of the ministers are but poorly provided for.

Education.—The parish schoolmaster has a dwelling-house and garden, and about L.30 of yearly salary; his emoluments from school fees may amount to L. 30 per annum: and for collecting road-money, &c. he may have other L. 30. Besides the parish school, there are four other schools in the parish, built by subscription, viz, at Airdrie, Clerkston, Greengairs, and Coathill. At Clerkston and Greengairs there are also dwelling-houses built for the schoolmasters, but none of these have any salary. There are also eight other schools in the parish taught by private teachers, who depend entirely on their own exertions. In the parish school there are taught reading, writing, arithmetic, book-keeping, mensuration, Latin, and Greek; but in all the other schools, reading, writing, and arithmetic only are taught. The general rate of wages is 3s. per quarter for reading, and higher for the other branches of education. There are about 800 scholars generally attending all the different schools. Besides these week-day schools, there are three Sabbath schools,—so that there are very few but may be able to read if they choose to attend to time means of improvement within their roach.

Library, &c,—In Airdrie there is a circulating library, and also a public reading-room, where the newspapers of the day, and various tracts and pamphlets are exhibited.

There is an Orphan society, supported by donations, subscriptions, and collections at the churches and meeting-houses occasionally, for clothing and educating orphans and other destitute children.

Poor and Parochial Funds.—The number of poor on the roll is about 190 on an average, and the sum distributed monthly is between L. 50 and L. 60 Sterling, in sums to each individual of from 2s. to 10s. according to the circumstances. The money is raised by collections at the parish church and chapel of Airdrie, from mortcloth dues, proclamation of marriages, and assessments to make up the deficiency. The assessments may amount on an average to L.467. The Dissenters give no part of the collections at their meeting-houses to the poors funds of the parish, although their poor are supplied from these funds equally with others. Among the agricultural part of the population, there is a great aversion to come on the poors funds; they consider it degrading; but that spirit is almost extinct among the manufacturing and mining population.

Prison.—In Airdrie there is a prison consisting of five cells or small apartments, which are dry, and in good order, and well secured; and in which riotous and disorderly people are confined, as a punishment for their criminal conduct.

Fairs.—There are two fairs yearly in Airdrie for the sale of cattle; one of them is held in the end of May, the other about the middle of November; there is also a weekly market every Tuesday. The number of inns and alehouses is by far too great.

MISCELLANEOUS OBSERVATIONS.

Since the time of the former Statistical Account, the population and trade of the parish have greatly increased, and much of the land is better cultivated. Besides the toll-road and rail-road formerly mentioned, the statute labour roads of the parish have been greatly extended and improved. The quantity of dung now raised in Airdrie is considerable,—which, with the Cumbernauld lime, and improved roads, affords the means of improving the land. Still, however, in the east and north-east parts of the parish, there is a great want of planting, and much of the land is very bare and naked, and far from being fertile. If summer fallowing were practised, it would also be a great improvement; but it is difficult to persuade farmers to deviate from the practice of their fathers.

The frequent associations and combinations which prevail here, and are connected with similar combinations in different parts of the country, to raise the price of labour, are very hurtful. They interrupt trade, and attempt what is impracticable, as the price of all labour must be regulated by the demand. They keep trades' people in a constant state of agitation, and make them spend much of their time and money in attending their frequent meetings. These combinations prevail most among the colliers, and the weavers. The great number of inns, alehouses, and spirit-shops that abound in Airdrie, and other parts of the parish, affords great temptations to idleness, and dissipation, which involve many families in poverty and misery. Licenses on these houses should be greatly increased, so as greatly to reduce their number.

July 1835.


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