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In this chapter I intend to give a sketch, brief but accurate, of the condition of the farmers and their dependants on a small Galloway estate towards the close of the eighteenth century, from the private notes and shrewd personal jottings of a most remarkable man.

I do not mean to enter into the previous career of Mr. William Cuninghame, the writer, though that was successful and worthy in the highest degree. Mr. Cuning-hame, though belonging to an ancient and honourable Ayrshire family, the Cuninghames of Caprington, had to be the architect of his own fortunes. He went out to Virginia as a young man, where he rose to position and honour as the American manager of what would be now called a “tobacco trust.” Upon his return to Glasgow he became almost at once the ablest and most renowned of those “tobacco lords” whose wealth and influence first gave to Glasgow the commercial supremacy which she has never since lost.

But William Cuninghame used his abilities in business simply as a means to an end. His heart was with the land, and like a worthy cadet of a good name, from the first he set before him the ideal of a family estate and the restoration of the ancient fortunes of his house.

The unexpected death of an elder brother put him in possession of the little Ayrshire property of Brighouse, to which in 1779 he added the much larger estate of Lainshaw. In 1781 he bought Kirkwood, near Stewarton, and finally in 1786 the lands of Duchrae in Galloway, to which last the diary and papers in my hands have reference.1

These private memoranda are to me specially interesting, not only as breathing a spirit of kindly shrewdness and cleareyed observation, in parts also a humorous appreciation of character—but because they give, with all the precision of a business document, the condition of those very moors and braes on which, nearly a century later, it was my own lot to “pu* the go wan,” and harry the curlew of his marled eggs.

Already at the time of his first coming to Galloway, Mr. Cuninghame was a considerable laird, as well as a man of wide note and fame. He does not give the exact price at which he purchased the Duchrae estate (“ by private bargain immediately after the roup ”), but as the reduced upset price was .£10,500, we may take it that Mr. Cuninghame’s bargain was something well on the under-side of that sum.

There is little of the Pepys element about the diary of our business-like laird. On the contrary, his purpose is made clear on the very first page.

“As it will be necessary for me to be here (upon the lands of Duchrae) at times when I shall be at a distance from my books and papers, this Memorandum Book “For my js intended for my government and direction.” andCrnmCnt ^0t a man t0 k0 Put uPon> ^is laird of Lain-direction.” shaw, but at the same time evidently concerned to do justly and to love mercy. First of all, however, he must understand. Then he will deliberate, judge, and act. He begins his record as follows, italics and all:—

“Lainshaw, 26th July 1787.—Having last night returned from Duchrae, where for the first time I have been since the

By the kindness of Captain R. D. Barr£ Cuninghame of Hensol and Duchrae, I am permitted the use of the private diary written by his grandfather, Mr. William Cuninghame of Lainshaw, who purchased the estate of Duchrae on the 2nd February 1786, and who visited it shortly afterwards to make the acquaintance of his new tenants. The good, kindly, far-seeing man of affairs speaks on every page. I may add that these memoranda were written “ for his own information,” and have never before been published.

Nearing Newton-Stewart

16th current, I found by every observation I made while there, and by the general information from every Gentleman in the neighbourhood, that my present Tenants there are exceeding good men, Honest and Wealthy, and in short that they are a sett of the best Tenants that tenants are on any Estate in the neighbourhood, but that they questioned much if they would give additional rents on new Tacks. Therefore it is my duty and interest to retain them upon the Estate by giving them every reasonable encouragement in my power—not only during the currency of the present tacks, but also in due time, to engage their continuance on new Tacks even if the rise of Rent should be but small.”

These “tacks” or leases, dating most of them from about 1770—that is, sixteen years before Mr. Cuninghame’s coming to Galloway—were, as he says, in general easy and humane. The Duchrae property was divided into four farms, three of them comparatively large, the other (the small detached holding of Drumbreck) much smaller. So that in this neighbourhood it is evident that the Leveller movement of the earlier part of the century had indeed done what the people feared— that is, it had swept away the small holdings, and either driven the cottiers and crofters to emigrate, or reduced them to the status of hired labourers upon the larger farms.

The well-to-do tenants on the Duchrae estate had bound themselves to pay “the whole of the public burdens of the parish—the whole minister’s stipend, teind, and schoolmaster’s salary, with kirk and manse stents.” They must grind their corn at the Duchrae mill, paying “ multures,”

“miln dues,” and “services.” In addition they Burdens promise to attend baron courts, to obey the acts thereof, and to pay the officer. They agree to carry their proportion of the materials for rebuilding kirk or manse, and to keep in repair all dykes, ditches, and drains, as well as the ofhce-houses on their farms.

But these conditions, hard as they now seem, were mild and equitable compared with those which prevailed upon the opposite side of the Water of Dee, where the patriarchal “ No lease ” system of year-to-year tenancy was still in vogue, interpreted, however (as it seemed to Mr. Cuninghame), with some considerable personal kindliness. Still the method was fatal, in that the tenants of the Parton estates had small encouragement to improve their farms, but on the contrary every reason to take as much out of them as possible.

We cannot but admire the shrewdness of our good Laird Cuninghame, who, with an eye at once kindly and alert, proves himself indeed “a chiel amang us takkin' notes”—although the “prenting” of his observations has been deferred for a hundred and twenty years.

He goes everywhere and sees everything. Then, ere he retires to rest, he writes his “observes” down in enduring ink for his own “ future government and direction.” A wise and much practised man, this laird. Just, also—most just. He will pay to the uttermost farthing. No man shall suffer by him. But he knows the pleasure of making another do by him in like fashion. He will employ no factor or middleman, if he can help it—preferring always to deal directly with principals, rather than permit any third person to come between himself and his tenants.

“While at Duchrae I endeavoured, as it is mostly good grazing ground, but much of it of an uneven surface, to find out for my future government in granting New Tacks, what sheep and black cattle each farm is capable of maintaining through the year, as well as the quantity of croft and arable ground, as is the method of estimating the value Dealingttle ^arms *n Peebles-shire. But I found that im* practable [«V] because my Tenants there depends chiefly on grazing bullocks (Irish and Galloway) which they are constantly buying and selling. So often at times some of these do not remain more than two weeks upon the Estate. For instance when I was there, one of the tenants sold a parcel of Galloway Bullocks which had been partly 3 months with him, partly 2 months and partly only a few days, the whole to be delivered to the purchaser upon the farm the following week. He informed (me) that Cattle was then in great demand and that he had made great profit by them. More, as prudent men, they will not say. They keep in general but few sheep. And as for their milch cows, consisting generally of about one dozen upon each farm, they count nothing upon them in paying their Rent, the milk being used partly in raising young cattle for bullocks and heifers (for which beneficial purpose they allow the calves to suck through the season one half of their mother’s milk), and partly made into butter and cheese—which they generally consume in their own families—what little of either is sold, being the perquisite of the wife, not to account to the husband.”

Again, with a sharp and peppery pen, Mr. Cuninghame strikes off a character sketch, when the sometime friendly relations between him and his neighbour of Airds suffer a sudden eclipse. Here Greek meets Greek, or rather as it might be said, Greek meets Goth! The Virginia planter and Tobacco Lord comes across the common “packman,” and we need not inquire which will have the best of it in good breeding and the conduct of affairs. But the ex-packman also is a man and a fellow Scot. To a certain meadow he has a right or he has not a right, but no Ayrshire laird or Tobacco Lord shall fright him out of a penny-worth that is legally his own. Here is the laird of Airds of the* time preserved for us in Mr. William Cuninghame’s characteristic prose:—

“John Livingston of Airds in Kells parish (but partly called Airie in Balmaghie parish), full 40 years old, married and has children. The Estate he bought judicially in 1784 from the Creditors of Alexander McGhie, Packman. Mr. Livingston was born in this neighbourhood and inherited a small farm from his father, giving £30 or £40 yearly, which with the above Estate of Airds and another late purchase of a farm or two, yields him as reported, from £250 to £300 Stg. yearly. He commenced early in life as travelling packman in England, trading until lately for those 10 years past, chiefly Scotch light goods bought up in Glasgow, which was his chief residence and (where he) had rooms. He carried from thence to England, in which he made money, but, it is reported, not so much as to pay his purchases, running to from 4 to £5000 Stg.—there being still remaining on his Estates some heritable debts for which he grants new security. Having called on him twice on business while here, by fording the Dee (which indeed is dangerous without a guide) before the junction with the River Ken, by the Road through my wood of Tomoroch almost opposite to his house, his whole conduct and character by (‘ general * deleted) Report, shows him to be still the low-bred designing packman, void of honor, troublesome and assuming in his neighbourhood. He has a vote upon Airds for a Member of Parliament, but which it is reported must be bought before any candidate upon a competition gets it. He has been married about 3 years to a small Laird’s daughter in the county, who appears to be full 30 years old, and they seem to live in their (farm) house, (such as it is at present, being one of two wings, having a floor above the ground part, and built by McGhie)—in dirt and nastiness. But indeed he is now building a new house betwixt the offices, which is covered in, two stories high, plain, and will be somewhat better than a minister’s Manse. He has a deal of natural woods on Airds, etc., mostly sold by him last year, to an English Company for upwards of £700 Stg., now a cutting. This is the Gentleman who claims a Right to my Brockloch meadow—so far as cutting its grass yearly for hay.”

As we read we can see the pair waxing hot, each after his manner, the cool-headed laird of Duchrae having, of course, his foe at an advantage. For, though firm, he is open to compromise. Nay, when Airds declares that he will defend his plea, though only worth twelve shillings in the year, as if it were the whole value of the estate—(we hear the type speak in these words, never plainer !)—Mr. Cuninghame is ready to buy out his rights if he has any. He will even confirm his enemy’s letting of the Brockloch meadow to the ferryman at the Boat-of-Rhone. We do not know what happened exactly. There is no further reference to the matter in the laird of Duchrae’s journal, but it is long odds that the Airds scythe-men no longer crossed the water half a mile down to cut Mr. Cuninghame’s hay.

Here is the continuation of the journal, as he went abroad to spy out the land:—

“That I might have an Idea of this wood of Duchrae Bank, now fitt age for cutting, I went through the whole on the morning of the 24th, Andrew McMin of Urioch being my conductor. In his house I afterwards breakfasted. I found that the wood consisted but of small bounds, planting irregular, with a deal of brushwood owing to its not being taken good care of in its infancy ; but few oaks and ashes—and few even of those, particularly of the oaks, good.

“I was informed by Andrew McMin and afterwards more particularly by David McClellan of Mains that the proprietor of Airds, now Mr. Livingston, has been in use to cutt yearly for Hay a piece of meadow ground on The the banks of the river Dee (called a day’s darg of Law-Plea a man), and part of the Mains farm, called Brock-loch Meadow (but pretending no right to eat it, which indeed they never attempted to do) which my Tenants beleeved had been cutt for hay yearly, past the memory of man, by order of Airds. This (tradition says) was allowed them by the Duchrae family as a compensation for bringing to the Mill of Duchrae their whole grindable grain, but they beleeved this could not be proved at this distance of time; also that Mr. Liviston refuses to bring his grain to the miln, denying any right I have, or obligation upon him to come thereto. They further informed me that the present Castle Stewart, my immediate author, had declared upon a late contested County Election, when the late Airds voted against him, his intention of prosecuting him for cutting the grass, or for * concealed multers,’ but that they supposed nothing was done in it, owing to Mr. Stewart’s immediate embarrassed situation. Notwithstanding he frequently declared Airds having no right to the grass as aforesaid, about which I also spoke to Mr. Samuel McCaull the factor on the sequestrated estate, who had never heard of it. I went over to Airds and had a conversation with him thereon, asking to see his title thereto. He answered he had purchased the Estate in August 1784, judicially, that his Rights were in Edinburgh in the hands of his agent, that Brockloch was advertised as a pendicle of the Estate, that he would show me the advertisement, which however on looking for he could not find. ‘ But,’ added he, ‘ We have had possession of it much above 40 years, which gives me an undeniable Title to the cutting of the grass.’ He admitted however that we had right to graise upon it after the Hay was carried off yearly. He denied his being obliged to carrie his corn to my miln as the consideration. He agreed however that he would, as requested by me, write his agent in Edinburgh to examine into his Titles and to show the same to my agent there, Mr. Moodie. He admitted that the meadow was about half a mile below his property on the opposite side of the River Dee, and that his Estate is mostly on the River Ken before it joins the Dee. He said that he had rented it along with his ferry-boat which crosses the River higher up, meaning the Ken, and that it might be worth 7, 10 or 12/- a year—and that he would contest his right as keenly as he would do for his whole Estate, etc. I answered, if I found he had no Right to it, I should most certainly endeavour to recover, but that it would be rediculous for him and I to thro away at law ten times its value, which would assuredly be the case on going into the Court of Session.

‘Therefore if it is found,’ added I, ‘that you have right thereto, I will buy that right from you—you suppose the value as above—we shall call it 10/- yearly value, upon which I will pay you 25 years purchase, which is £12. 10/-. Is this agreeable to you?’ He answered it was, only he would inspect it, having never as yet seen it, and enquire more particularly into its value and write to me. He accepted the price offered, but that as he had rented it as above for 6 years (of which 5 years still to run), he must buy off the Tacksman. I answered he might make himself easy as to that, as I should confirm his agreement for the 5 years with the boatman at the same rent. So thus it stands, and I must write Mr. Moodie as well as to Castle Stewart upon it.”

The characters of the other neighbouring lairds are sketched with a masterly hand—doubtless as before for the author’s “guidance and direction,” but also with a quite human appreciation of their humours and foibles.

The Laird of Cally is an absentee and he pays his gardener no wage—which in itself explains why the new laird of Duchrae is refused entrance to Cally gardens. The unpaid servant is no doubt feathering his nest, and this business-like visiting stranger might very well have been coming to spy out the land in the interests of an absent owner.

“Upon the 22nd I went to Newtoun Stewart, by Mr. Murray’s of Broughton (situated within 400 yards of the very neat small village of Gatehouse of Fleet, where there is an exceeding good public-house). His house is very large and elegant, being about 90 by 60 feet, built all round with the granet stone peculiar to that country and is entirely wrought with picks. The shrubbery around it is also very extensive and well laid out, but there is no quantity of real drest ground here. There is in the principal Drawing Room some very fine pictures. The furniture of this Room, as well as of the dining room and another of much the same size all on the first floor, as well as the finishings, are very plain, excepting a very elegant statuary marble chimney-piece in the drawing-room. Second floor consists of, after landing at the head of the stair,—one bed-room, a large passage in the middle, and on each hand two large bedchambers, in each a single bed, plainly mounted; and in the attic storie, there is the like passage and on the right 3 bedchambers with each a tent bed, and on the left 2 bedchambers, one of them large with three tent beds, and the other containing one. The Kitchens, etc., are on the west end of the house with a covered way, mostly covered with young planting, the stables, cow-houses, etc., are very large, partly in the form of a large court closs upon the High road, and about 300 yards from the house. Being refused admittance into the garden through some mistake, I viewed it on the outside from some waving ground which surrounds it. I found the walls inclosed 2 acres of ground, having two cross brick walls running across it, one having a hott house for stone fruit and another for grapes ; walls round about 13 or 14 feet high and well covered. This garden may be about 500 yards from the house and on the opposite side of the high or military Road. None of the family living there at present the gardener draws no wages, and besides upholds the same for its produce, from which it is reported he drew last year about £70 Stg. His stone fruit he sells at 3 and 4/- per doz. From this village I went the shoar road, leaving the milatery road on the right, to Boat of Cree, a small village, passing Sir Hannahs' Estates and intended new house, the foundation of which was only in part cast, the main body of which will only be 75 by 50 and each of the wings on a parelel line about 50 feet. Many of these granet stones were lying prepared, some of which I found 7 feet long. From thence I followed the milatery Road to Newton Stewart, a pretty considerable village which I reached to Dinner after a pleasant ride of near 40 miles. I past that evening with Mr. Samuel McCaull,1 for the purpose of seeing whom this ride was taken, breakfasted with him next morning, paid him ^5 Stg. for his postages and trouble incurred with me about Duchrae. Returning that evening by the military road to Gatehouse of Fleet and from that through the Muirs to Woodhall, distance about 25 miles in all.”

Next comes the account of a visit to Captain Laurie of Woodhall, and in a few lines we are made to see this quietly dignified, unaffected soldier, a man of no ceremony—somewhat soured indeed by the fact that
Laurie has no son to succeed him, and that (in so far as he makes outlays on the estate) he is spending
his labour for naught. He takes, it seems, “ grassums ” or pecuniary gratifications upon giving leases of his farms. Which being interpreted, means that, being doubtful whether he will live nineteen years, the average duration of a Scottish “tack,” Captain Laurie takes a large slice of the rent at once, to be followed by smaller yearly payments. This, of course, cannot be in the interest of the estate, for few tenants can afford to pay out the “grassum” without borrowing — still less when entering and stocking a new farm.

Yet we can see that Mr. Cuninghame cannot find it in his heart to blame the taker of “grassums.” He is his host, at whose house he stays seven out of the first ten nights he is upon his property. And there is evidently something very human and likeable about that tall grave figure which guides him by the footpath across to his own property, through the lane and over the water-meadows out upon the whinny knowes of Duchrae—then as now earthly paradises of birds and wild flowers.

“Walter Sloan Lawrie, Esq., of Redcastle, but constantly residing on his Estate and house of Woodhall in Balmaghie parish, is from 50 to 60 years old. He is maried, but never had a child. Woodhall house joins my property immediately on the west. My farm of Urioch is seperated from it partly by a pritty considerable loch, and partly by a small rivulet of water running through some meadow ground emptying itself into the Loch, which meadow ground iB mostly overflowed in winter by the loch, owing to backwater from the River Dee. And again a mile further south he almost surrounds my farm of Drumbreck, which farm is seperated from my other lands. This gentleman is possessed of an Estate as reported of £2000 to ^1800 Stg. a year, situated in 5 or 6 different parishes, in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright and County of Wigton, under three distinct entails to heirs male. (To two of these he succeeded, from his father who was originally a writer in Ayr and who acquired them through his wife about 30 years agoe when he left Ayr.) The third he acquired himself in marriage with his wife, a Miss Cutler, to whom he has been married about 9 years. Her Appearance is delicate, of a sweet countenance, a genteel appearance, but rather silent and with little animation. The three different Estates go to three different heirs of taillie very distantly related to him, excepting the one by his wife. Having had about 15 or 20 years agoe some little acquaintance of Captain Lowrie when he was in the 43rd Regt. quartered in Glasgow, I took the freedom of going directly to his house the evening I reached Duchrae. This continued to be my head-quarters, having sleept there 7 out of 10 nights I continued in that country, during which time I was generally employed upon my estate through the day. I was here received very hospitably. They keep a good table, the best I had occason to see in that country, but are rather retired. He is very silent, of no ceremonie, and otherwise very plain, seemingly steady, resolute, attentive to his interests, quite easy in his circumstances, laying by money yearly, but rather soured and discouraged from making additions to his house, which was rather small and inconvenient, and improvements upon his estate, from the having no children or even a male nigh relation. This induces him to take grassums when renting his farms. He has a sett of good offices, forming a square about 200 yards south of his house, built lately by himself. His garden betwixt the house and offices contains about one acre of ground inclosed with a good hedge, and covered with many good old trees. Here they entertain their Tenants, many of whom comes from a distance, while engaged leading in and stacking their peats, Hay, etc.—the first a mighty work, being their chief fewal.”

By such stray allusions we can see into the heart of things down in Galloway during the latter half of the eighteenth century, and no “ State of Agriculture ” is so shrewd and comprehensive as this journal of Mr. William Cuninghame’s. It is indeed fitted to correct some impressions left by the perusal of Mr. Graham’s very admirable but unduly pessimistic volumes on the social life of Scotland in the eighteenth century. Mr. Graham has indeed illu- Social minated all that he has touched, but upon the Qajjo^ay two subjects—religion and the state of the farming classes from 1740 to 1786—an equally convincing book might be written, showing that in Galloway at least (which has always been considered the most backward province of the Lowlands) things were very much better than Mr. Graham would have us believe.

The state of the farms and of the tenants themselves I will come to presently. But the whole relation of these Galloway lairds to their people appears a kindly, a courteous, and even a patriarchal one. Mr. Cuninghame, upon many of his visits, dwells among his tenantry. He is treated as an honoured guest, but by no means bowed down before or flattered. Man to man they meet him. A son of the richest tenant on the estate is called upon to decide the worth of certain grazing privileges, which will be forfeited if the wood in the Duchrae bank is cut down. The young man takes two days to arrive at a decision. We can see him standing, gravely computing what his father and he will lose by the new arrangement—knit brows, bonnet pulled well down, neither anxious to favour the new powers-that-be (who may one day have the letting of a larger farm), nor yet willing to do anything unjust to the interests of his father. He will not “blood the laird.” Neither will he curry favour with him. So after maturest consideration he assesses the damage at two bullocks of the value of five pounds each. And on that basis, without a word the bargain is struck.

In spite of the business-like sentences of the record we can see the young man meditating how to do justice, and the keen eyes of the old Tobacco Lord, man of affairs, triple laird, watching him with a kind of pleasure.

We can almost hear him say, “I wish I had had that young man in Virginia. I could have made something of him.”

Here is his own account of the matter.

“Having been applyed to by an English company through Mr. Livingston of Airds, whose woods they are presently cutting, to know if I would sell them such woods as I inclined to cutt, I made answer that as my wood of Duchbrae Bank was of a proper age for cutting I inclined to sell it. But as damages must be paid the Tenant, for the liberty of cutting, burning, carrying away and haining the woods afterwards, during the remainder of his Tack (and as I always incline to do all my business with the partie I have to do with, without troubling a third) I aplyed to the Tenant, William McConochie, a young man, son of James (McConochie), who is the richest tenant on the estate, to know what I must allow, desiring him to think of it and to inform me. He accordingly, after two days’ consideration, informed me he reckoned the ground was equal to the maintainance of two Bullocks through the year, which he valued at 5 guineas yearly, upon which terms I might proceed to sell, cutt, etc., when I pleased. Less he could not take, as the shelter of the woods through the winter, with the food therein, was of importance to his cattle.”

On another occasion the laird of Duchrae crosses the Ken and visits his neighbour, Glendinning of Parton, the descendant of a very ancient family of Glendonwyns, though making little of the fact. Here again we have in a few lines a word-picture of this eighteenth-century Galloway establishment. “Mr. Glendinning, the master, is a Catholic, but noways troublesome with it,” says the good Protestant and of Partond Hanoverian laird of Duchrae. In spite of his * Catholicism the Laird of Parton has recently fitted the parish with a minister—very much to its taste—a fine young man with whom he is on good terms. He has a pretty, latitudinarian, non-churchgoing wife, a Presbyterian by birth, but, like her husband and his Catholicism, apparently “ noways troublesome with it.”

That pretty Mistress Glendinning should never have set foot in the parish church is a thing far more to be resented than (as was universally believed in Galloway at the time) that her husband worshipped the Pope’s toe. In- pfetty deed, the Roman Church has never been treated Mistress as a very serious enemy in Presbyterian Scotland. Glendin-Preachers referred to her picturesquely in books ning* and sermons as “ The Scarlet Woman ” and “ She-who-sitteth-upon-the-Seven-Hills.” But Black Prelacy has ever been held the real enemy. There is infinitely more chance of Scotland returning to the Ancient Religion than of her becoming Episcopalian. And the greatest blunder the nineteenth-century lairds of Scotland ever made (and one which may cost them dear some day) was that of leaving their Presbyterian churches for a form of worship alien to the spirit of the nation.

At the House of Parton our shrewd observer gives us another glimpse of habits social. Like a prudent man Mr. Cuninghame is no hard drinker. But if his host sets him the example, it is obvious that compulsion is laid upon him to do likewise. A gentleman at the table of his nearest neighbour can no more refuse a challenge to drink than in the City of Tombstone to-day, when the invitation is made along the shining tube of a revolver.

Moreover, Mr. Cuninghame has a slight headache, “the first which has troubled him since his coming into the country,” and he would rather be excused from a too purple hospitality. But he could not refuse to drink if that should happen to be the rule at Parton. Imagine, therefore, his relief when he finds his host make a move for the open after drinking a couple of glasses of wine. They take a walk together, returning in time for tea—which is about the best treatment that could have been prescribed for Mr. Cuninghame’s headache. No wonder that he is pleased. He sets the seal of the highest commendation upon his host of Parton, and incidentally gives us another clue to his own sedate character. “Mr. Glendinning is,” says the chronicler, “a man exceeding sober—which pleased me much.”

But the sketch of the Parton laird is worth printing in full.

“William Glendinning, Esq., of Parton and Parton parish, and Patron thereof, is from 40 to 50 years old, maried and has children, seperated from me and exactly opposite, particularly to my farm of Mains of Duchrae by the River Dee. This River, from nigh Kenmore house to about 2 or 3 miles below this (at the ford leading to Greenlaw), has I am informed at no time less than 35 feet of water in the Channel and in the winter it spreads greatly, covering the whole meadow ground on both sides. This gentleman is of an old family of the Roman Catholic persuasion, but no ways troublesome with it. He is possessed of an Estate, I understand of ^500 to ^600 Stg. yearly, but easy circumstances, having also money. He is genteel and very polite in his deportment, esteemed and well-spoken of in the neighbourhood. He has lost by some accident one eye. He married a daughter of the deceased Mr. Gordon of Crogo, writer in Edinburgh, to whom he was a guardian. By her he got (it’s said) about ^3000, but she does not indeed appear to be endued with great sense. They live at present in the old Mansion house, which appears hardly habitable. But he is building at 2 or 300 yards distance therefrom, an elegant small strong good house, which he expects to get covered in before winter. From this part of the Estate and house, which stands high on a rising ground immediately from the River, the best and most beautiful (if beauty may be allowed to be applied here) prospect of my estate of Duchrae is obtained—comprehending the Mains, Ulioch, Meikle and Little Craigs, and a great part of Drumglass farm—all which indeed would, if the lands were improved by cultivation, appear to great advantage and very beautiful from this Bank. Mr. Glendinning, though a Catholic, has lately given the parish much satisfaction in a minister who is a sensible clever young man, and with whom he lives on the best terms. Mrs. Glendinning, who may be about 26 years old, was bred a Presbyterian, but professes now (it’s said), no religion, having never been once in the parish church. Being there on a Friday I noticed the children are to be educated as Catholics. Having received a card from Mr. Glendinning at Drumglass apologising that he was prevented, as intended, waiting upon me there, owing to an accidental fall from a scaffold and inviting me to dine with him that day, Thursday, or any other most convenient to me, I returned for answer that I would (do) myself that honour next day. I did accordingly, was received very politely and with much ease. He appears to be exceeding sober indeed, which pleased me the more—having that day a small headack and the only one during my absence from home. Accordingly having each of us drank two glasses of wine to dinner, we waulkt out until (we returned to Tea), to the top of the rising ground a little to the north of his house from which a good part of his Estate is seen, and where his Tenants appeared from their crops to be improving their farms considerably with lime—they having not as yet us’d any marie. But what astonished me, was his informing me that the whole was done at the expence of and by the Tenants themselves, and at^j°tS also that he had not one Tack upon his whole ~ Estate, they being all Tenants at will, but that he never removed any person so long as they continued to manage their lands to his mind. He allows them to take no more than three successive crops, even on such improved ground and then to rest six years. On this information I professed much astonishment, adding that there must be indeed great mutual confidence, and very particularly they in him. ‘But,’ said I, ‘upon finding any of your tenants not maneging your lands as you direct, you will certainly find some difficulty in removing them and must be under the dissagreeable necessity of raising a process of removal before the Sheriff.’ He answered he never had occasion to do so yet. I left him in the evening, declining his invitation of staying all night, by crossing over in my Tenant David McClellan’s (of Mains) boat (whom he spoke highly of). He had carried me over and continued in waiting for me. I was very well pleased with my visit, promising to see Mr. Glen-dinning on being again at Duchrae.”

Of Gordon of Balmaghie, though he has had longer acquaintance with him, our diarist has less to record, perhaps for that very reason. The laird and patron of the Balmaghie Par^s^ t^le wealthiest of those who have recently * acquired land—with the probable exception, that is, of Mr. Cuninghame himself—who, modest man, makes no comparisons as to his own possessions, but takes all men as he finds them. Mr. Gordon has a house in London, where he gives dinners of the best, and is fitting up the old house of Balmaghie for a summer residence. It is curious to reflect that by far the greater number of those names which the laird of Duchrae found occupying neighbouring estates have now disappeared. They were new-comers in 1786, but still newer comers occupy their places, and of all the Galloway possessions of this once wealthy family of the Balmaghie Gordons, all that now remains to them is no more than the burying-ground, a square overgrown clump, with a small mortuary chapel in the centre, through the windows of which the bird-nesting urchins of Glenlochar and Shankfoot used to gaze with awe upon the marble monument of “The Auld Admiral”—or knock on the door and run away, half expecting the inmate to give chase, his traditional cocked hat and pigtail showing above the sheeted graveclothes.

“Thomas Gordon, Esq., of Balmaghie, in the parish of Balmaghie and Patron thereof and Titular of the Teinds, about 50 years old, married to a sister of George Dempster, M.P., has children; a younger son of a family in the Stewartry, purchased this Estate judicially in November 1785—Rent ^450 yearly, price ^10,500 Stg. It is generally said by the Gentlemen in the Neighbourhood that he made the best purchase of any in the County. This Gentleman, having still a house in Madeira, he has resided for some years with his family in

London, where my son Thomas and I dined with much elegance when in London last April. He has workmen repairing his house here for the purpose of his living there mostly through the summer. He has, I was informed, lately purchased the Dornells, joining to me on the South, which I find to be very wild indeed.”

Lastly, though there is little personal liking in the case, and though Mr. Cuninghame is obviously of a very different way of thinking in matters religious, his best sketch is that which he gives of the Sheriff of the County, Mr. Gordon of Greenlaw, who had first of all invited him to be his guest, probably having had already, in his legal position, some dealings with the new proprietor of the estates of Duchrae.

The Sheriff is a remarkable man in many ways. He is (says Mr. Cuninghame) deeply in debt, though apparently it is not debt of his own making.

Sheriff Gordon of Greenlaw is a Cameronian Cove-by persuasion, though he attends the parish sheriff2 church—a fanatic and a favourer of fanatics at any rate. He hales his unwilling guest off to church, because it is Fast Day, where the laird of Duchrae, who would rather be improving his mind and his digestion in the open, has willy-nilly to listen to a long and “ very ordinary ” sermon. Thereafter his host takes him to see the Loch of Carlinwark and his famous marie dredgings. Marie is a kind of earth to which great fertilising qualities were at the time attributed. It was sold at so good a price that a canal was actually made between the loch and the river Dee, in order to supply it to farmers throughout the country, and also with some idea of shipping it coastwise to other places less well provided.

The Sheriff, who perhaps has been attending only partially to the “long and ordinary” discourse of the minister, presses so hardly upon his guest to buy four hundred acres of land and the loch with its marie, that the laird of Duchrae has to tell him that the purchase will not suit him at all. And that for the sufficient reason that he does not believe it would pay anybody, save some one on the spot who could give all his attention to the working—an opinion which time has amply verified.

But this remarkable Sheriff has other claims on our attention. He sets off to Kirkcudbright—good ten miles—on foot, holds his court there, walks back to Carlinwark, where he apparently occupies himself with his loch marie till it is time to go back home to Greenlaw. He is certainly a man most diligent in business, though his manner of serving the Lord is not like that of Mr. Cuninghame—who is above all things a moderate man, and likes a neighbour, if he be a Catholic, to be noways troublesome about it, and if he be a Cameronian or high Covenant man to be zealous without ostentation.

It is to be remarked that in speaking of the Sheriffs wife he styles her Mrs. Dalrymple, that being her maiden name. Indeed the practice of married women being called or calling themselves by their husband’s names was still far from universal in Galloway—just as Janet Hamilton, the much-testifying wife of Alexander Gordon, the “ Bull of Earlstoun,” staunchly signed herself by her maiden name, and even her husband, editing her “ Covenantings ” after her death, describes them as those of Janet Hamilton. Here is, therefore, necessarily somewhat abridged, Mr. Cuninghame’s account of the Cameronian sheriff of Kirkcudbrightshire:—

“Alexander Gordon, Esq., of Greenlaw in the parish of Crossmichael, of which he is Patron—and Sheriff of the County. Having received a polite invitation by letter from him by one of my Tenants at Dumfries on my way back from London, inviting me to stay in his house on my coming to Duchrae, I returned for answer I should certainly do myself the honour of waiting upon him. I accordingly went down there on Wednesday the 18th (being 6 or 7 miles off) and remained until the 20th in the morning, taking that opportunity of calling upon Mr. Philip Morison, minister of Balmaghie, from whom I took an exact minute of the stipends my land presently pays. Thursday the 20th being the fast day of the parish, we all attended church, about 2 miles off, during the morning service, where we heard a very long and very ordinary sermon, after which Mr. Gordon and I took a ride across the country—in which attention there was much politeness, I having been afterwards informed that Mr. Gordon’s disappointment must have been great on account of his losing the afternoon service. We rode chiefly through the Estate of Mollance, where indeed I saw many and very fine fields of corn, partly by the improvement of marie within itself and partly with lime. We came in by Greenlaw village (deleted) or rather Carlingwark village, close by the loch, which was begun only a few years agoe Carlin-by Mr. Gordon, and may contain now upwards of y^iage » 100 houses and apparently rapidly increasing. For which place he informed me he had applyed to the Crown for a charter erecting it into a Burgh of Barony, with power to choose their own Baileys and Council, which he said would cost him about 40 guineas. Mr. Gordon informed me he had upon this Estate about 800 acres of ground, 400 acres of which with the Loch he wisht to sell, being much involved in debt and having a large family. This intimation he put to me so closs that I was obliged to tell him it would not answer me to purchase, neither would it in my opinion answer any person but one who resided at or near the spott. Mr. Gordon I take to be only about 36 to 38 years old. He married very early, before 20, to a Miss Dalrymple of Dalragget, who I take to be older than him. He is a very industrious man, undergoing great fatigue, giving his whole attention to his Loch, excepting two days of the week during the sitting of his Court, when, he setts off on foot in the morning for Kirkcudbright, 10 or n miles from his house, does his business and returns always the same evening also on foot, summer and winter. He seems to be a zealous and even ostentatious professor of religion, paying vast attention to all the fanatics round him, of whom he is considered the head. Mrs. Dalrymple is of an active and managing appearance, who has the sole direction and management of the small farm in her own hands, which she appears to manage well, having good crops of com and grass. Their house is large and of an elegant appearance, having been built by the Kenmore family, from whom he bought it with the whole lands, by his Mother’s advice, before he came of age. Offices numerous and midling good, with a good Kale yard adjoining containing more than an acre of ground enclosed and well sheltered around, with a deal of planting.”

Let it not be forgotten that when the Laird of Lainshaw and Duchrae came first into the Stewartry, the Sixteenth Louis still held his own in France. The affair of the diamond necklace was just settled, and the gruesome account of the cruel punishment of Madame de la Motte appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine of that very year. Gretna Green was in the height of its fame, the most interesting marriages in every journal being headed “At Gretna Green,” just as a marriage announcement might now begin, “At St. George’s, Hanover Square.” Rafts of highwaymen were hanged at Tyburn every week. Sheepstealers graced the gallows at Kirkcudbright or were sent to Dumfries if the Stewartry practitioner had been taking an alcoholic holiday.

Yet in Galloway itself there seems a complete peacefulness. The days of Raiders and Levellers had long passed away.

Doubtless there was still a great deal of quiet Galloway smuggiing along the coast, but inland our laird does not come across any trace of it, or at least does not mention it.

Perhaps the most remarkable part of his narrative, and one which I mean to quote in extenso, is that which deals with the farm life of the estate. His farmers, he is informed by all the neighbouring lairds, are good men—no better or more trustworthy to be met with anywhere. And the new proprietor of Duchrae meets them worthily. He spends nights at their houses. He is there to dinner and tea, and he gives us, not a glimpse merely, but a complete picture of their condition.

“From the present very high price of cattle, they would willingly keep more milch cows for the purpose of raising their calves, were it not for the great expence and inconvenience of keeping them in condition through the winter. Their small crops of com, and what bog or meadow hay they have in patches of ground here and there, and on the bank of the Dee, is quite insufficient for this purpose. In respect to Horses, each keeps 3 or 4 good horses, which indeed is not only necessary for their farms, because they all raise more com than they consume in their families, but also for riding about buying their cattle. For instance, two sons of Samuel McClelland’s of Uloch were six times in Ireland in 1786, buying bullocks for the farm which they mostly drove to the St. Faith’s market in England yearly. And in respect to their arable grounds (particularly that used in tillage) it is generally in patches or small fields from 1 to 4 acres, seldom more. This is partly owing to its being interspersed by broken rocky ground, small pieces of moss, swampy or meadow ground, and partly owing to its poverty, being all of a thin soil.”

Practically, however, the farmers of Balmaghie were as well off, as comfortable in all essentials as they are to-day. Indeed, it comes to us with a sense of surprise, how little change there has been. They rear cattle and the Yzrmzts ° sons act as dealers in Ireland and even as far as England. Sheep are not so largely reared, but mutton-ham tastes as toothsome to the Ayrshire laird “ sliced upon a plate ” as it is to-day at some hill-farm under the lee of the Merrick. The butter and eggs are the well-deserved perquisite of the farmer’s wife, as we hope'they are unto this hour. But it is to his cattle that the farmer looks to pay his rent. The rent-day is arranged with care by Mr. Cuninghame, who recognises the value of a clear understanding on both sides. His farmers are to ride twice a year to Lainshaw to pay their rent to their laird in person, at times when they will have the money in hand, after certain cattle trysts where they can sell their beasts to the best advantage and at the best seasons.

“They live well, having one and all, Beef and Mutton dried ham in their houses, which they sett down sliced in a plater, with good tea, neat prints of good fresh butter, with very good oatmeal cakes to Breakfast or of an afternoon, and good bacon for dinner or when a stranger is with them. And for entertaining such at night they have in all their houses, the Stranger’s or best bed-chamber, neat and clean, consisting of a four-posted bedstead, neat and clean curtains, good clean beds, sheets, blankets and coverlet. Indeed in two of the houses most of their other beds are much in the same situation —particularly in Drumglass, where there are two Drumglass above description in two rooms below— Comforts.
one for his mother, and another for his sister.

While above stairs are 3 beds with curtains in one room, besides the servants’ beds in another garret. As a prooff of the above I breakfasted and dined one day at Drumglass, where there is in the Room—being the one which Miss sleeps in (who I understand has a fortune of 3, 4, or £500 Stg., and is dressed neat and clean at all times)—two good square mahoganie dining-tables, and a mahoganie breakfast or tea-table, with a complete tea-service of china, silver spoons, tongs, and Trea (tray), with abundance of stone-ware for dinner. There is a servant woman in waiting for changing your plate, and serving you with bread and bear during dinner, after which glasses are put down to each, with the Rum bottle.

I breakfasted at Urioch, and drank tea one evening at Uloch with the respective Tenants and their families. David McClelland, the Tenant in Mains, is particularly respected by the gentlemen for his probity and honesty, and is also an able man.”

This bi-annual rent-riding is a curious circumstance, and shows that Mr. Cuninghame has resolved that he will have to do with no third parties. He must know his tenants personally. If he has anything to say to them, he will ride over and say it on their own door-step. If they have anything to say to him, they must out with it face to face or not at all.

There is a fine directness and simplicity about all Mr. Cuninghame’s arrangements. He makes a bargain, but he does not haggle.

“Make your proposition. I will consider it. If it is just I will accept it. If not, not.”

Our laird is an honourable gentleman who has had large experience, and knows exactly the value of time. When first he rode south he marked the distances, the inns, and what could be obtained at them. He is therefore able to give the clearest information possible to his tenants for their direction on the trips to Lainshaw—where without doubt, they will find themselves both generously and amply entertained.

Among all his farms Mr. Cuninghame is evidently most impressed with that of Drumglass. It is here that he stays when among his tenantry. The daughter of the house pleases him. She is always neat and clean, well educated (of course), with a fortune large for the time and country—altogether evidently a prize in the local marriage market.

He sleeps in the fine four-poster bed, which (like the lady of the house) is also remarked upon as being neat and clean— besides being curtained from draughts when the wind blows about the windy eminence on which the house stands. With a sigh the tired laird of Lainshaw snuggles his weary limbs between the sheets, and draws up to his chin the warm blankets and coverlets with a sense of genial well-being. He is pleased with his purchase, pleased with his tenantry, pleased with his hostess. He reflects that he will not rack-rent them, neither cause them to leave his farms unlet on his hands. He knows that the ability to keep good tenants on his land is etter than a few pounds of extra rent.

Sound is his sleep, and in the morning he awakes to a Galloway breakfast, porridge doubtless, though he does not name them, of a thicker consistency than those of Ayrshire. (The plural demonstrative is used advisedly.)

It may be surmised, however, that the good folk of Drum-glass thought porridge beneath the dignity of a laird, and took theirs early in the morning before the great man got up. At any rate they did not scant him of other provend. Beef and mutton ham sliced on platters, fresh scones of divers sorts, oatmeal cakes in farles crisp from the girdle, and pats of fresh butter set out in a lordly dish. The fare was noways to scoff at in Drumglass in those old days, whether by laird or lout, clerk or layman.

Back from the hills he comes to dinner, sharpset with the appetite which awakens so readily betwixt the Bank of Duchrae and the Ullioch Cairn. Bacon ham is waiting for him, with potatoes doubtless, bread and home-brewed beer, and with a glass or so of spirit out of the square-faced Dutchman from the comer cupboard. Can the sum total of a just man’s contenting farther go ?

Thereafter came tea, talk, and in due time again the four-poster. Men fared worse than at honest Drumglass where it looks down on the shining levels of the Water of Dee, and faced a broad view—not (be it understood) for aesthetic reasons, but “ for the greater conveniency of keeping their doors clean.” That is to say, the farmer heaved his rubbish down the slope !

In the essence of things there is mighty little difference to-day, though something has been effected by the County Authority, to whom wise men have spoken in the gate with regard to drainage and pig-styes.

Of course there were many things behind all this which our grave and sober laird did not see. Country mirth and jollity were subdued before him. Riot avoided his steps, and doubtless many an odorous dub was drained and many a fat midden-head abated at the mere whisper of his coming. But that is the wont of others besides Galloway folk, and in times more recent than the Year of Grace 1786.

Nevertheless Mr. William Cuninghame saw in Galloway a land of comfort, bien and real—a grateful, contented, solid folk, dwelling in ceiled houses, costing as much as seventy pounds each at a careful estimate. And he found men standing firmly upon their rights, thankfully enjoying the fruits of their labour in this life, and looking out not unhopefully to the next.

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