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Old County of Dumfriesshire

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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1834-45: Dumfries

Dumfriesshire, a coast and Border county in the S of Scotland. It is bounded N by Lanark, Peebles, and Selkirk shires; NE by Roxburghshire; SE by Cumberland; S by the Solway Firth; SW by Kirkcudbrightshire; and NW by Ayrshire. Its length, from W to E, varies between 21 and 46 ½ miles; its breadth, from N to S, between 13 and 32 miles; and its area is 1103 square miles or 705, 945 ¾ acres, of which 20, 427 are foreshore and 5301 ½ water. Its outline is irregularly ellipsoidal, being indented to the depth of 13 miles by the southern extremity of Lanarkshire, and to the depth of 5 ¾ miles by Ettrick Head in Selkirkshire. Its boundary line, over all the W, NW, N, and NE, to the aggregate extent of 120 miles, is mainly mountain watershed; over most of the march with Cumberland, to the aggregate extent of 11 miles, is variously Liddel Water, Esk- river, and Sark Water; over all the S, to the extent of 21 miles, is the Solway Firth; along the SW, to the extent of15 miles, is the river Nith and Cluden Water. The summits on or near the upland boundary line include Auchenchain (1271 feet) and Blackcraig (1961) at the Kirkcudbrightshire border; Blacklorg (2231), M `Crierick's Cairn (1824), and Halfmerk Hill (1478), at the Ayrshire border; Mount Stuart (1567), Wanlock Dod (1808), Lowther Hill (2377), Well Hill (1987), Wedder Law (2185), and Queensberry (2285), at the Lanarkshire border; Hartfell (2651) and White Coomb (2695), at the Peeblesshire border; Herman Law (2014), Andrewhinney (2220), Bodesbeck Law (2173), Capel Fell (2223), Ettrick Pen (2269), Quickningair Hill (1601), and Black Knowe (1481), at the Selkirkshire border; and Stock Hill (1561), Roan Fell (1862), and Watch Hill (1642), at the Roxburghshire border.

All the northern part of the county is prevailingly upland. Mountains or high hills, with similar altitudes to those on the boundary line, and intersected with only a small aggregate of glens or vales, occupy all the north-western, the northern, and the north-eastern border to a mean breadth of 7 or 8 miles; and spurs or prolongations of them strike south-eastward, southward, and south-westward, to lengths of from 2 or 3 to 7 or 8 miles, sometimes shooting into summits nearly as high as those on the borders, but generally sinking into low hills, and separated from one another by broadening vales. These uplands constitute a large and prominent portion of the Southern Highlands of Scotland; but they differ much, in both segregation and contour, from the upland masses of most of the Northern Highlands. Few or none of the mountains have the ridgy elongations, the rugged, craggy outlines, or the towering peaked summits so common in Argyll, Perth, Inverness, and Ross shires; but almost all of them, whether on the borders or in the interior, lie adjoined in groups, rise from narrow bases over rounded shoulders, and have summits variously domical, conical, and tabular or flat. Three of the most remarkable of the interior heights are Cairnkinna (1813 feet) in Penpont, Langholm Hill (1161) in the vicinity of Langholm, and Brunswark Hill (920) in the NE of Hoddam, all three having forms of peculiar character, quite in contrast to those prevailing in the Northern Highlands. The region southward of the uplands breaks into three great valleys or basins, traversed by the rivers Nith, Annan, and Esk; and is intersected, between the Nith and the Annan, to the extent of about 7 miles southward from the vicinity of Amisfield, by the range of the Tinwald, Torthorwald, and Mouswald Hills, with curved outlines, cultivated surfaces, and altitudes of from 500 to 800 feet above sea-level, and commanding gorgeous, extensive, diversified prospects. The basins of the Annan and the Esk S of a line drawn from Whinnyrig, past Ecclefechan, Craigshaws, Solway Bank, and Broomholm, to Moorburnhead, cease to be valleys, or are flattened into plains, variegated only by occasional rising-grounds or low hills, either round-backed or obtusely conical. The valley of the Nith also, for 10 miles before it touches the Solway, is in all respects a plain, with exception of a short range of low hills in Dumfries and Caerlaverock parishes and a few unimportant isolated eminences; and the E wing of it, partly going flatly from it to the base of the Tinwald Hills, partly going southward, thence -past the small Dumfries and Caerlaverock range to the Solway Firth, is the dead level of Lochar Moss.

The river Nith and one or two of its unimportant and remote tributaries enter Dumfriesshire through openings or gorges in its north-western boundaries, and a small tributary of the Annan enters through a gorge in the N; but all other streams which anywhere traverse the county rise within its own limits. The Nith, from the point of entering it, and the Annan and the Esk, from short distances below the source, draw toward then nearly all the other streams, so as to form the county into three great valleys or basins, but the Nith giving the lower part of the right side of its basin to Kirkcudbrightshire, and the Esk going entirely in its lower part into England. The three rivers all pursue a south-south-easterly course - the Nith in the W, the Annan in the middle, and the Esk in the E; and, with the exception of some small curvings, they flow parallel to one another, at an average distance of about 12 miles, imposing upon their own and their tributaries' basins the names of respectively Nithsdale, Annandale, and Eskdale. The streams which run into them are very numerous, yet mostly of short course, of small volume, and remarkable chiefly for the beauty or picturesqueness of the ravines or the dells which they traverse. The chief of those which enter the Nith are, from the W, the Kello, the Euchan, the Scar, the Cairn, and the Cluden; from the E, the Crawick, the Minnick, the Enterkin, the Carron, the Cample, and the Duncow. The chief which enter the Annan are, from the W, the Evan and the Kinnel; from the E, the Moffat, the Wamphray, the Dryfe, the Milk, and the Mein. The chief which enter the Esk are, from the W, the Black Esk and the Wauchope; from the E, the Megget, the Ewes, the Tarras, and the Liddel. Four rivulets, each 10 miles or more in length, have an independent course southward to the Solway - the Lochar and the Cummertrees Pow in the space between the Nith and the Annan; the Kirtle and the Sark in the space between the Annan and the Esk. Several of the tributary streams, like the three main ones, give their names to their own basins - the Moffat, the Dryfe, and the Ewes in particular giving to their basins the names of Moffatdale, Dryfesdale, and Ewesdale. A group of lakes, the largest of them Castle Loch (6 x 5 ¼ furl.), lies near Lochmaben; and dark Loch Skene (6 x 1 ¾ furl.), remarkable for emitting the torrent of the ` Grey Mare's Tail, ' lies on the N border at the source of Moffat Water. Pure springs are almost everywhere abundant; chalybeate springs are near Moffat, Annan, and Ruthwell; and sulphureous at Moffat and Closeburn House. The Geology. - The oldest rocks in Dumfriesshire are of Silurian age, consisting mainly of greywackes, flagstones, and shales, belonging to the upper and lower divisions of that formation. A line drawn from the head of Ewes Water in Eskdale,south-westwards by Lockerbie to Mouswald, marks the boundary between the two divisions, the Lower Silurian rocks being met with to the N of this limit. The members of both series have been much folded; but by means of the lithological characters of the strata, and with the aid of certain fossiliferous bands of shales yielding graptolites, it is possible to determine the order of succession. In the neighbourhood of Moffat the fossiliferous black shales of the lower division are typically developed, where they have been divided into several well-marked zones by means of the graptolites which occur in them in profusion. They are admirably displayed at Dobbs Lynn, near the head of Moffatdale, and in the streams on the S side of the Moffat valley. The Silurian rocks, which now form the great mass of high ground throughout the county, were elevated so as to form a land barrier towards the close of the Silurian period. In the hollows worn out of this ancient tableland, the strata belonging to the Old Red Sandstone, Carboniferous, and Permian periods were deposited. But even these newer palæozoic formations have been so denuded that only isolated fragments remain of what once were more extensive deposits.

Along the county boundary in Upper Nithsdale the representatives of the Lower Old Red Sandstone are met with, where they consist of sandstones and conglomerates, associated with contemporaneous volcanic rocks. They form part of the great belt of Lower Old Red strata stretching from the Braid Hills near Edinburgh into Ayrshire. The Upper Old Red Sandstone, on the other hand, forms a narrow fringe underlying the carboniferous rocks from the county boundary E of the Ewes Water south-westwards by Langholm to Brunswark. At the base they consist of conglomeratic sandstones, the included pebbles having been derived from the waste of the Silurian flagstones and shales. These are overlaid by friable Red sandstones and marls, which pass conformably underneath the zone of volcanic materials which always intervene between them and the overlying Carboniferous strata. The zone of igneous rocks just referred to is specially interesting, as it points to the existence of volcanic action on the S side of the Silurian tableland at the beginning of the Carhoniferous period. The igneous rocks consist mainly of slaggy and amygdaloidal porphyrites, which were spread over the ancient sea bottom as regular lava flows. Brunswark Hill is made up of this igneous material. Some of the volcanic orifices from which the igneous materials were discharged are still to be met with along the watershed between Liddesdale and Teviotdale in the adjacent county of Roxburgh.

The carboniferous rocks are met with in three separate areas: - (1.) in the district lying between Langholm and Ruthwell; (2.) at Closeburn near Thornhill; (3.) in the neighbourhood of Sanquhar. The first of these areas is the most extensive, measuring about 22 miles in length, and varying in breadth from 2 to 7 miles. The strata included in it belong to the Calciferous Sandstone series which forms the lowest subdivision of the Carboniferous formation. The following zones were made out in the course of the geological survey of the district. They are given in descending order: - (7.) Canonbie coals; (6.) Marine Limestone series of Penton, Gilnockie, and Ecclefechan; (5.) Volcanic zone of fine tuff and porphyrite, including about 50 feet of fine shales; (4.) Irvine Burn and Woodcock air sandstones; (3.) Tarras Waterfoot Cementstone series; (2.) White sandstones; (1.) Brunswark and Ward Law volcanic rocks.

The recent discovery which has proved so interesting and important was met with in the fine shales of zone (5) and partly in zone (3). Upwards of twenty new species of ganoid fishes were obtained from these beds near Langholm, and out of the sixteen genera to which these species belong five are new to science. Very few of the species are common to the carboniferous rocks of the Lothians, which has an important bearing on the history of that period. Along with the fishes were found about twelve new species of decapod crustaceans and three new species of a new genus of Phyllopods. Of special importance is the discovery of four new. species of scorpions. Hitherto the occurrence of fossil scorpions in rocks of Carboniferous age has been extremely rare. The specimens recently obtained are admirably preserved, and from a minute examination of them it is evident that they closely resemble their living representatives. The remains of several new plants were also found in the fine shales already referred -to.

Within the Silurian area, Carboniferous rocks are met with in the Thornhill and Sanquhar basins. These deposits lie in ancient hollows worn out of the Silurian tableland which date back as far as the Carboniferous period. At Closeburn and Barjarg there are beds of marine limestone associated with sandstones and shales which probably belong to the Calciferous Sandstone series. Again, at the south-eastern limit of the Sanquhar coalfield there are small outliers of the Carboniferous Limestone series, consisting of sandstones, shales, and thin fossiliferous limestones. The latter rapidly thin out, and the true coal measures rest directly on, the Silurian platform. From these facts it would appear that in Upper Nithsdale the Silurian barrier did not sink beneath the sea-level till the latter part of the Carboniferous period, not in fact till the time of the deposition of the coal measures. The Sanquhar coalfield is about 9 miles in length, and from 2 to 4 miles in breadth. It contains several valuable coal seams, and from the general character of the strata it is probable that they are the southern prolongations of the Ayrshire coal measures. Another fact deserves to be mentioned here, which was established in the course of the survey of the county. The Canonbie coal seams do not belong to the true Coal Measures as has hitherto been supposed, but are regularly intercalated with the members of the Calciferous Sandstone series.

The strata next in order are of Permian age which are invariably separated from the Carboniferous rocks by a marked unconformity. Indeed so violent is the unconformity that we find the Permian strata to the E of Lochar Moss stealing across the edges of the Calciferous Sandstone beds till they rest directly on the Silurian rocks.

Permian strata occur in five separate areas - 1 at Moffat, 2 at Lochmaben and Corncockle Moor, 3 between Annan and the mouth of the Esk, 4 the Dumfries basin, 5 the Thornhill basin. In addition to these areas there is a small patch of contemporaneous igneous rocks overlying the Sanquhar coalfield, which is believed to be of the same age. In the neighbourhood of Moffat the breccias are evidently an ancient morainic deposit of glacial origin. Several well-striated stones were found in them resembling the scratched stones in ordinary boulder clay. In the red sandstones of Corncockle Moor reptilian footprints have been detected, produced by reptiles moving in a S direction, which led to the witty remark of Dean Buckland ` that even at that early date the migration from Scotland to England had commenced. ' Between Annan and Canonbie the strata consist of red sandstones, while in the Dumfries basin the red sandstones of Locharbriggs are overlaid by an alternation of red sandstones and breccias. An interesting feature connected with the Thornhill basin is the occurrence of contemporaneous volcanic rocks at the base of the series. They form a continuous ring round the northern half of the basin cropping out from underneath the breccias and red sandstones. In the Sanquhar basin also there are several ` necks ' or volcanic vents filled with agglomerate, which in all likelihood mark the sites from which lavas of Permian age were discharged.

It is interesting to note the proofs of the original extension of the Permian strata over areas from which they have been completely removed by denudation. Some of the Carboniferous strata in the Sanquhar coal-field have been stained red by infiltration of iron oxide, and in the S of the county the Calciferous Sandstone beds overlying the Canonbie coals have been so much reddened as to resemble externally the Permian sandstones. Even on Eskdalemuir the Silurian greywackes have been stained in a similar manner. In these cases the older rocks were buried underneath strata of Permian age from which the percolating water derived the iron oxide.

Within the limits of the county there are intrusive igneous rocks of which the most conspicuous example is the mass of granite on Spango Water, about 5 miles N of Sanquhar. This mass is about 3 miles long, and upwards of 1 mile in breadth. There are also dykes or veins of felstone and basalt. One example of the latter deserves special notice. It has been traced from the Leadhills south-eastwards by Moffat, across Eskdalemuir by Langholm to the English border. In texture it varies from a dolerite to tachylite, which is the glassy form of basalt.

Only a passing allusion can be made to the proofs of glaciation which are so abundant throughout the county. During the period of extreme glaciation the general trend of the ice sheet was SE towards the Solway Firth and the English border. The widespread covering of boulder clay which is now found in the upland valleys and on the low grounds is the relic of this ancient glaciation. But in the valleys draining the main masses of high ground there are numerous moraines deposited by local glaciers. Amongst the finest examples are those round Loch Skene at the head of Moffatdale.

Economic Minerals.- Coal seams occur at Sanquhar and Canonbie, and limestone at Closeburn, Barjarg, Kelhead, and Harelaw Hill, Liddesdale. Veins of silver and lead ore are met with at Wanlockhead, antimony at Glendinning and Meggat Water. The building stones in greatest demand are the white sandstones of the Carboniferous formation, the Permian red sandstones of Thornhill, Dumfries, Corncockle, and Annan; while in the neighbourhood of Moffat the coarse grits of Silurian age are much used. (B. N. Peach, F.R.S. E., and J. Horne, F. R. S.E., of the Geological Survey of Scotland.)

The soil in the mountain districts is mainly moorish, mostly unsuitable for tillage, and partly irreclaimable; but in places where it has a dry subsoil, is capable of gradual transmutation into loam. The soil, in the lowland districts, is generally of a light nature, incumbent on either rock, gravel, or sand; in Nithsdale and Annan dale, is mostly dry; in Eskdale, is generally wet; in some places, where it lies on a retentive subsoil, is cold, and occasions rankness of vegetation; in considerable tracts of the outspread plain, is of a loamy character, rich in vegetable mould; on the gentle slopes of the midland district, is an intermixture of loam with other soils; on the swells or knolls of the valleys, and even of the bogs, is of a gravelly or sandy character; on the margins of streams, is alluvium, or what is here called holm-land, generally poor and shallow in the upland dells, but generally rich and deep in the lowland valleys. Clay, as a soil, seldom occurs, except as mixed with other substances; but, as a subsoil, is extensively found, either white, blue, or red, under the greensward of hills, and beneath soft bogs. Peat-moss exists in great expanses both on the hills and in the vales; and wherever it so lies as to be amenable to drainage, is of such a character as to be convertable into good soil. Sea-silt, or the saline muddy deposit from the waters of the Solway, spreads extensively out from the estuary of the Lochar, and both forms a productive soil in itself, and serves as an effective top-dressing for the adjacent peatmoss. The percentage of cultivated area is 32.5; 27, 472 acres are under wood; and little short of two-thirds of the entire county is either pastoral or waste.

Arable farms range mostly between 100 and 150 acres, yet vary from 60 to 800; and sheep-farms range from 300 to 3000 acres. Some farms, chiefly along the mutual border of the upland and the lowland regions, are both pastoral and arable, and are regarded as particularly convenient and remunerative; and these comprise about one-third of the total acreage under rotation of crops. The cattle, for the dairy, are mostly of the Ayrshire breed; for the shambles or for exportation, are mostly of the Galloway breed. The sheep, on the uplands, are either black-faced or Cheviots; in the lowlands are a mixed breed, resulting from crosses of the Cheviots with Leicesters, Southdowns, and Spanish breeds. The draught horses are of the Clydesdale breed. Pigs are raised chiefly for exportation of pork and bacon into England; and they have, for many years, been an object of general attention among both farmers and cotters. The value of the pork produced rose from £500 in 1770 to £12, 000 in 1794, to £60, 000 in 1812, and to £100, 000 in 1867, since which last year it has somewhat fallen off, there being only 10, 286 pigs in the county in 1881 against 15, 088 in 1877, and 18, 612 in 1866.

The commerce of the county is all conducted through Dumfries and its sub-ports. Manufactures in hosiery and tweeds have recently become important in Dumfries; but manufactures in other departments, either there or throughout the county, are of comparatively small amount. Hosiery employs many looms in Thornhill, Lochmaben, and other towns and villages; woollen fabrics, of various kinds, are made at Sanquhar and Moffat; ginghams are manufactured at Sanquhar and Annan; muslins, at Kirkconnel; course linens, at Langholm. Weaving, in different departments, employs many hands; artificership, in all the ordinary departments, employs many more; and operations connected with coal and lead-mining employ a few. The energies of the county, as compared with those of other counties, either in Scotland or in England, are not small; but, partly in consequence of dearth of coal, partly for other reasons, they are mainly absorbed in the pursuits and accessories of agriculture; and yet, since at least the commencement of the present century, they have been so spent as to produce an amount of prosperity scarcely, if at all, inferior to what has been realised in other counties. The roads, the fences, the dwelling-houses, the churches, the people's dress, and the people's manners in Dumfriesshire, taken as indices of progress and refinement, will bear comparison with those of any other district in Great Britain. The railways within the county are the Glasgow and South-Western, down Nithsdale, and across the foot of Annandale; the Caledonian, down the entire length of Annandale; the Dumfries and Lockerbie, across the interior from Dumfries to Lockerbie; the Solway Junction, in the S of Annandale, from the Caledonian near Kirtlebridge to the Solway Firth near Annan; small part of the Castle-Douglas and Dumfries, on the W border of Dumfries parish; and branches of the Hawick and Carlisle section of the North British to Langholm and Gretna.

The quoad civilia parishes, inclusive of two which extend slightly into Lanarkshire, amount to 43. The royal burghs are Dumfries, Annan, Lochmaben, and Sanquhar. The burghs of barony are Moffat, Lockerbie, Langholm, Ecclefechan, Thornhill, and Moniaive. - The principal villages are Springfield, Eaglesfield, Sunnybrae, Bridekirk, Gasstown, HeatheryRow, Hightae, Park, Dunreggan, Rowan Burn, Wanlockhead, Greenbrae, Glencaple, Torthorwald, Roucan, Collin, Penpont, Kirkconnel, Kirtlebridge, Waterbeck, Dornock, Cummertrees, Ruthwell, Clarencefield, Mouswald, Closeburn, Holywood, Kelton, Locharbriggs, Amisfield, Dalswinton,Wamphray, Carronbridge. and Crawick Mill. The principal seats are Drumlanrig Castle, Langholm Lodge, Castlemilk, Kinmount, Kinharvey House, Glen Stewart, Tinwald House, Comlongan Castle, Dumcrieff House, Springkell, Jardine Hall, Rockhall, Westerhall, Raehills, Crawfordton, Amisfield House, Closeburn Hall, Dalswinton House, Hoddam Castle, Mossknow, Halleaths, Mount Annan, Craigdarroch, Blackwood House, Murraythwaite, Broomholm, Barjarg Tower, Speddoch, Dormont, Elshieshields, Carnsalloch, Conheath, Capenoch, Courance, Glenae, Kirkmichael House, Rammerscales, Craigielands, Corehead, Langshaw, Cove, Maxwelltown House, Warmanbie, Bonshaw, Northfield, Boreland, Broomrig, Cowhill, Portrack, Gribton, Newtonairds, Milnhead, Burnfoot, Lanrick, and Corehead. According to Miscellaneous Statistics of the Unites Kingdom (1879), 676, 971 acres, with a total gross estimated rental of £595,512, were divided among 4177 landowners, one holding 253, 514 acres (rental £97, 530), one 64,079 (£27,884), six together 82, 759 (£56, 690), twelve 81,881 (£59,150), twenty-six 76,576 (£50,977), twenty-eight 36,800 (£26, 318), fifty-three 37,505 (£129,105), etc.

The county is governed (1882) by a lord-lieutenant, a vice-lieutenant, 11 deputy-lieutenants, a sheriff, a sheriff-substitute, and 97 magistrates. The principal courts are held at Dumfries; and sheriff small-debt courts are held at Annan on the first Tuesday of January, May, and September; at Langholm on the third Saturday of January, May, and September; at Lockerbie on the first Thursday of April, August, and December; at Moffat on the first Friday of April, August, and December; and at Thornhill on the second Thursday of April, August, and December. The police force, in 1881, besides 10 men for Dumfries and 2 for Annan, comprised 35 men; and the salary of the chief constable was £400. The number of persons tried at the instance of the police, in 1880, besides those in Dumfries and Annan, was 785; convicted, 749; committed for trial, 38; not dealt with, 226. The county prison is at Dumfries. The committals or crime, in the yearly average of 1836-40, were 71; of 1841-45, 96; of 1846-50, 209; of 1851-55, 141; of 1856-60, 99; of 1861-65, 50; of 1865-69, 29; of 1871-75, 50; and of 1876-80, 50. The annual value of real property, assessed at £295, 621 in 1815, was £319,751 in 1843, £350,636 in 1861, and £572, 945 in 1882, including £75, 286 for railways. The four royal burghs, together with Kirkcudbright, send one member to parliament, and the rest of the-e county sends another, and had a constituency of 3469 in 1882. Pop. (1801) 54,597, (1811) 62,960, (1821) 70, 878, (1831) 73, 770, (1841) 72,830, (1851) 78,123, (1861) 75,878, (1871) 74, 808, (1881) 76,124, of whom 35,956 were males. Houses (1881) 15, 656 inhabited, 835 vacant, 109 building.

The registration county takes in small parts of Moffat and Kirkpatrick-Juxta parishes from Lanarkshire; and had, in 1881, a population of 76,151. All the parishes are assessed for the poor. Dumfries parish has a poorhouse for itself; and respectively 6 and 9 parishes form the poor-law combinations of Kirkpatrick-Fleming and Upper Nithsdale. The number of registered poor, in the year ending 14 May 1880, was 1688; of dependants on these, 872; of casual poor, 1312; of dependants on these, 1007. The receipts for the poor, in that year, were £19, 638, 1s. 6¾d; and the expenditure was £19, 446, 8s. 10d. The number of pauper lunatics was 211, their cost being £3816, 18s. 8d. The percentage of illegitimate births was 15.9 in 1872, 15.7 in 1877, 13.5 in 1879, and 13.8 in 1880.

Dumfriesshire, in the times of Established Episcopacy, formed part of the diocese of Glasgow, and was divided into the deaneries of Nithsdale and Annandale. And now, under Established Presbyterianism, it lies wholly within the province of the synod of Dumfries, but does not constitute all that province. Its parishes are distributed among the presbyteries of Dumfries, Annan, Lochmaben, Langholm, and Penpont; but those in Dumfries presbytery are conjoined with 12 in Kirkcudbrightshire, those in Langholm presbytery with Castleton in Roxburghshire. In 1882 the places of worship within the county were 49 Established (14, 373 communicants in 1878), 27 Free (5882 members in 1881), 22 U.P. (4381 members in 1880), 2 Independent, 4 Evangelical Union, 1 Baptist, 1 Methodist chapel, 3 Episcopal, and 2 Roman Catholic. In the year ending 30 Sept. 1880, the county had 115 schools (96 of them public), which, with accommodation for 15,126 children, had 12, 424 on the rolls, and 9709 in average attendance.

The territory now forming Dumfriesshire, together with large part of Galloway, belonged to the Caledonian Selgovæ; passed, after the Roman demission, to the kingdom of Cumbria or Strathclyde; was much overrun by the Dalriadans, both from the N of Ireland and from Kintyre; rose, for a time, into a condition of rude independence; was subjugated by the Scots or Scoto-Dalriadans after the union of the Scoto-Dalriadan and the Pictavian kingdoms; and was constituted a county or placed under a sheriff by William the Lyon. But, during a considerable period, its sheriffs had direct authority only within Nithsdale, and no more than nominal authority in the other districts. Both Annandale and Eskdale, from the time of David I. till that of Robert Bruce, were under separate or independent baronial jurisdiction; held, in the former, by Robert Bruce's ancestors, in the latter, by various great landowners. The county then consisted of the sheriffship of Nithsdale, the stewartry of Annandale, and the regality of Eskdale; and was cut into three jurisdictions nearly corresponding in their limits to the basins of the three principal rivers. Bruce, after his accession to the throne, framed measures which issued in a comprehensive hereditary sheriffship; and an Act, passed in the time of George II., adjusted the jurisdiction of the county to the condition in which it now exists.

Great barons, about the time of David I., were proprietors of most of the lands in the county. Donegal, the ancestor of the Edgars, owned great part of Nithsdale, and was called Dunegal of Stranith. The Maccuswells, ancestors of the Maxwells, held the lands of Caerlaverock; the Comyns held the estates of Dalswinton and Duncow, and lands extending thence southward to Castledykes in the southern vicinity of Dumfries; the Bruces, ancestors of the royal Bruce, held Annandale, and resided chiefly at Lochmaben; the Kirkpatricks, the Johnstons, the Carlyles, and the Carnocs held portions of Annandale as retainers of the Bruces; and the Soulises, the Avenels, the Rossedals, and others held Eskdale. The Baliols also, though not properly barons of the county itself, but only impinging on it through succession to the lords of Galloway, yet powerfully affected its fortunes. Dumfriesshire, during the wars between the Bruces and the Baliols, was placed betwixt two fires; or, to use a different figure, it nursed at its breasts both of the competitors for the crown; and, from the nature of its position bearing aloft the Bruce in its right arm, and both the Baliol and the Comyn in its left, it was peculiarly exposed to suffering. The successful Bruce, after his victory of Bannockburn, gave the Comyns' manor of Dalswinton to Walter Stewart, and their manor of Duncow to Robert Boyd; bestowed his own lordship of Annandale, with the castle of Lochmaben, on Sir Thomas Randolph, and created him Earl of Moray; and conferred on Sir James Douglas, in addition to the gift of Douglasdale in Lanarkshire, the greater part of Eskdale, and other extensive possessions in Dumfriesshire. The county suffered again, and was once more the chief seat of strife during the conflicts between the Bruces and the Baliols in the time of David II. Nor did it suffer less in degree, while it suffered longer in duration, under the subsequent proceedings of the rebellious Douglases. These haughty barons, ` whose coronet so often counterpoised the crown, ' grew so rapidly in at once descent, acquisition, power, and ambition, as practically to become lords-paramount of both Dumfriesshire and Kirkcudbrightshire. Their possessions, at their attainder in 1455, reverted to the Crown, and were in part bestowed on the Earl of March; yet still, through old influence and through action of old retainers and their descendants, continued to give the Douglases a strong hold upon the county, such as enabled them to embroil it in further troubles. The county was invaded, in 1484, by the exiled Earl of Douglas and the Duke of Albany; and thence, during a century and a half, it appears never to have enjoyed a few years of continuous repose. Even so late as 1607, the martial followers of Lord Maxwell and the Earl of Morton were led out to battle on its soil, in a way to threaten it with desolation; and all onward till the union of the Scottish and the English crowns, marauding forces and invading armies, at only brief intervals of time, overran it from the southern border, and subjected it to pillage, fire, and bloodshed. The county sat down in quietude under James VI., and begun then to wear a dress of social comeliness; but again, during the reign of the Charleses, it was agitated with broils and insurrections; and, in the rebellions of 1715 and 1745, especially in the latter, it was the scene of numerous disasters. The Jacobites were strong in it, and worked so vigorously in the cause of the Chevalier and the Pretender as to draw destruction on their own families. The Maxwells, in particular, were utterly overthrown by the attainder of the Earl of Nithsdale in 1715; and several other great families lost all their possessions and their influence either then or in 1746. The Dukes of Buccleuch, partly through extension of their own proper territories, partly through inheritance of those of the Dukes of Queensberry, are now by far the largest and most influential landowners of the county; and the Marquis of Queensberry and Hope-Johnstone of Annandale hold a high rank. Caledonian cairns, camps, and hill-forts are numerous in many of the upland districts, particularly on the south-eastern hills; remains of Caledonian stone circles are in the parishes of Gretna, Eskdalemuir, Wamphray, Moffat, and Holywood; Roman stations, Roman camps, or remains of them are at Brunswark, Castle O'er, Raeburnfoot, Torwoodmoor, Trohoughton, Gallaberry, Wardlaw Hill, and Caerlaverock; Roman roads connected the Roman stations with one another, and went up Annandale, and westward thence to Nithsdale. A remarkable antiquity, supposed by some writers to be Anglo-Saxon, by others to be Danish, is in Ruthwell churchyard; old towers are at Amisfield, Lag, Achincass, Robgill, and Lochwood; and ancient castles, some in high preservation, others utterly dilapidated, are at Caerlaverock, Comlongan, Torthorwald, Closeburn, Morton, - Sanquhar, Hoddam, Wauchope, and Langholm. Ancient monasteries were at Dumfries, Canonbie, Holywood, and other places; and a fine monastic ruin is still at Lincluden. Vast quantities of ancient coins, medals, weapons, and pieces of defensive armour have been found. Numerous places figure prominently in Sir Walter Scott,s Guy Mannering, Redgauntlet, and Abbot. See, besides works cited under Annandale, Caerlaverock, Drumlanrig, Dumfries, Lochmaben, and Moffat, two articles on Dumfriesshire in Trans. Highl. and Ag. Soc., 1869.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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