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Old County of Renfrewshire

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: Renfrew

Renfrewshire, anciently Strathgryfe, is a maritime county on the W coast of Scotland. Although only twenty-seventh among the Scottish counties as regards area, its industrial importance is so great that it ranks sixth in the order of valuation and fifth in the order of population, while it contests with Edinburgh the distinction of being the most densely populated county in Scotland, each of them having 1075 inhabitants to the square mile. The county is bounded N by the river Clyde and Dumbartonshire, NE, about Glasgow, and E by Lanarkshire, SSW by the Cunningham district of Ayrshire, and W by the Firth of Clyde. The shape is an irregular oblong. The greatest length, from Cloch Point on the NW to near Laird's Seat on the SE, is 30½ miles; the greatest breadth near the centre, from the grounds of Erskine House on the Clyde on the N to a point on Dubbs Burin near Beith Station on the SSW, is 13 miles; and the area is 253·793 square miles, or 162,427·958 acres, of which 2021·179 are foreshore and 3621·342 water. Of the land area of 156,785·437 acres, nearly two-thirds is cultivated, there being 95,353 acres in 1884 under crop, bare fallow, and grass, while 5424 were under wood, the rest being occupied by buildings and roads, etc., or by rough hill grazings and waste ground.

Commencing at the NW corner at Kempock Point the boundary line follows the river Clyde for 17¾ miles to the mouth of Yoker Burn, up which it passes, following it nearly to its source. Thereafter it strikes across to Yokermains Burn, which it follows up till beyond Scaterig, whence it returns by the E side of Jordanhill and Scotstoun House grounds to the Clyde at the old line of the Marline Ford. Crossing the river it proceeds by an old channel of the Clyde along the western and south-western boundaries of the parish of Govan to the line of railway now occupying the old course of the Glasgow and Paisley Canal. It passes thence north-eastward by Ibroxhill and the W side of Pollokshields, and entering Glasgow crosses Kinning Park to the E of Lambhill Street, turns eastward for a short distance along Paisley Road, again northwards between Main Street and Rutland Crescent and along Rutland Place, Greenlaw Place, and Kinning Place, till, nearly opposite Pollock Street, it passes northward to the Clyde, which it reaches close to Hyde Park Ferry. Leaving the river 150 yards farther up about the centre of Springfield Quay, the line follows a very involved and zig-zag course through Kingston, up the centre of the gas-works, along the E side of East Pollokshields, to the N of Strathbungo, between Govanhill and Crosshill, and to the N of Polmadie House, where it reaches Polmadie Burn. It passes up the Burn to the junction of Malls Mire Burn and West Burn, whence it follows the course of the former to its source. From this it bends southward and eastward to the White Cart, and follows the course of that stream for 5½ miles to the junction with Threepland Burn, which it follows for ¼ mile, and then winds southward and south-westward to a point midway between Quarry Hill and Muir Hill. Here it turns to the WSW in a very winding course, always near but seldom actually on the line of watershed between the streams that flow south-westward to the Garnock, Annick, and Irvine, and so to the Firth of Clyde; and those that flow north-eastward to the Gryfe, Black and White Carts, and so to the river Clyde. The line is therefore mostly artificial, but to the E of Beith station it follows the course of Roebank Burn, and to the W of the station the courses of Dubbs Burn and Maich Water, and passing between Misty Law Moor and Ladyland Moor, reaches the watershed at Misty Law (1663 feet). It follows the watershed by East Girt Hill (1673 feet) and Hill of Stake (1711), to the E shoulder of Burnt Hill (1572), whence it takes the line of Calder Water for 1½ mile, crosses to the upper waters of the North Rotten Burn, follows this down to about ½ mile from Loch Thom, and then striking across to Kelly Dam follows Kelly Water down to the pier at Wemyss Bay. From this back northward to Kempock Point, the Firth of Clyde is again the boundary.

Districts and Surface, etc.—The county is divided into an Upper and a Lower Ward, the former with Paisley, and the latter with Greenock, as the chief town. The surface varies considerably, but may be considered as falling into three divisions-hilly, gently rising, and flat. The first lies along the southern border, and extends to the centre on the SE and along the W. It comprises most of the parishes of Eaglesham and Mearns, great part of the parishes of Neilston and Lochwinnoch, and most of the parishes of Kilmalcolm, Port Glasgow, Greenock, and Innerkip, and reaches an altitude of 1093 feet in Eaglesham, 871 in Mearns, 900 in Neilston, 1711 in Lochwinnoch, 1446 in Kilmalcolm, 661 in Port Glasgow, 995 in Greenock, and 936 in Innerkip. It is generally a somewhat bleak moorland, but some of the heights command good and extensive views. The gently rising district which lies immediately to the N of the hilly one commences at the boundary with Lanarkshire on the E, and extends WNW to the neighbourhood of Langbank and Kilmalcolm. It comprehends the parishes of Cathcart and Eastwood, and parts of the parishes of Neilston, Paisley, Renfrew, and Inchinnan, Kilbarchan, Houston, and Erskine. Many of the heights are well wooded, and the scenery is picturesque. The flat district, known locally as the 'laich lands,' lies along the N border, forming a level tract by the side of the Clyde, and extending along the narrow flat valley of the Black Cart and Castle Semple Loch. It extends from the eastern boundary of Renfrew parish to the Erskine Hills, and thence south-westward as already indicated, comprehending most of the parish of Renfrew, and parts of the parishes of Paisley, Inchinnan, Houston, Erskine, Kilbarchan, and Lochwinnoch. It appears to have been, at a comparatively recent geological period, covered by the waters of the inlet noticed in the article on Glasgow. The physical characteristics of the small portion of the county to the N of the Clyde have been already noticed in the article on the parish of Renfrew.

The drainage is carried off by the White Cart, the Black Cart, and the Gryfe, all of which unite and flow into the Clyde 1 mile NW of Renfrew Ferry, and by the Clyde itself. The courses of these rivers are separately described, and it remains here merely to notice the drainage basins. The whole of the eastern and south-eastern portions of the county are drained by the White Cart and the streams flowing into it, of which the principal are, beginning at the SE corner, Threepland Burn, Ardoch and Holchall Burns, Earn Water, Newfield Burn, Brock Burn, Levern Water, and Cowden Burn, and some smaller streams in the neighbourhood of Paisley. A small district in the centre is drained by the Black Cart, the river Calder, Patrick Water, and the other burns flowing into it, none of which are of any great size or importance. The western part of the county is drained by the Gryfe and its tributaries, of which the chief are, from the source downwards, North Rotten Burn, Green Water, Burnbank Water, Blacketty Water, Mill Burn, Gotter Water, Locher Water, all on the S side, and Barochan and Dargavel Burns on the N. Besides these a number of smaller streams, of which the chief are Dubbs Burn and Maich Water, flow into the Ayrshire drainage basin, and others again in the W and N flow direct to the Clyde. Of the latter the chief are Kelty Burn, entering the Firth of Clyde at Wemyss Bay; the Kipp, which enters at Innerkip; and Shaw's Water at Greenock. In the SE in the basin of the White Cart, there are a number of lochs, of which the most important are Loch Goin or Blackwoodhill Dam (8 x 3 furl.), on the border of the county, and which, through Loch Burn and Craufurdland Water, is one of the main sources of Irvine Water; Dunwan Dam (5 x 2 furl.), the source of Holchall Burn; some small lochs SW of Eaglesham, Binend Loch (4 x 2 furl.), and Black Loch on the head-streams of the Earn; Brother Loch (3 x 3 furl.), on Capelrig or Thornliebank Burn; Glen Reservoir (3 x 1½ furl.) and Balgray Reservoir (5 x 3 furl.), on the course of Brook Burn; Glanderston Dam, Walton Dam, and Harelaw Dam (5 x 2 furl.), Long Loch (8 x 2 furl.), from which issues one of the head-streams of Annick Water (Ayrshire); a small loch a mile WNW of Barrhead, and Stanley and Glenburn Reservoirs S of Paisley. Between the basins of the White and Black Carts is the small but picturesque Loch Libo, whence flows the Lugton (Ayrshire). In the basin of the Black Cart are Broadfield Dam, on a tributary of Patrick Water, and Castle Semple Loch (12 x 3 furl.), from which flows the Black Cart itself. At its upper end is the area formerly occupied by Barr Loch (8 x 4 furl.), which is now drained. On Calder Water are Calder Dam and Queenside Loch. In the valley of the Gryfe there are two small lochs near Bridge of Weir, and at the source are the Gryfe Reservoir and the Compensation Reservoir (together 12 x 2 furl.), connected with the Greenock waterworks; and immediately to the W of these is Loch Thom (12 x 3 furl.). The fishing in most of the lochs and streams where the water is not poisoned by industrial operations, is fair.

Geology.—The geology of Renfrewshire claims special attention, on account of the remarkable development of volcanic rocks belonging to the Lower Carboniferous period, and the important series of coal-fields situated to the N of the volcanic area between Houston and the E border of the county at Rutherglen.

The various subdivisions of the Carboniferous system are represented within the limits of the county. Beginning with the red sandstones lying at the base of this formation, which are the oldest strata in Renfrewshire, they occupy a belt of ground along the coast in the neighbourhood of Innerkip. They are merely the prolongation towards the N of similar red sandstones fringing the Ayrshire coast between Ardrossan and Largs. Consisting mainly of red sandstones and cornstones with bands of breccia and conglomerate, there is little variety in the character of the strata. They stretch inland, from the shores of the Firth of Clyde at Innerkip to the hills near Loch Thom, where they are thrown into a gentle anticlinal fold, succeeded by the overlying Cement-stone series, of which, however, there is but a limited development. Throughout Renfrewshire the Cement-stone series is almost wholly represented by a prodigious succession of contemporaneous volcanic rocks, which are the continuation of the great volcanic belt on the N side of the Clyde, forming the Kilpatrick Hills. There can be little doubt of the precise geological position of these volcanic rocks in this county, because, to the W of Loch Thom, they rest conformably on the white sandstones and Cementstones, and where no faults intervene they graduate upwards into the Carboniferous Limestone series. They form a belt of hilly ground stretching across the county in a NW and SE direction, from the hills S of Greenock, by the Gleniffer Braes, to the high grounds round Eaglesham. In the E portion, the volcanic rocks form a low anticlinal arch, the axis of which coincides generally with the trend of the chain, the overlying strata being inclined towards the SW and NE. Throughout this extensive area the igneous rocks consist of basalts, melaphyres, and porphyrites, with intercalations of tuffs ain d coarse volcanic breccias. The upper and under surfaces of the lava flows are extremely slaggy and scoriaceous, and the cavities are filled with agates and various zeolites. The discharge of lavas and tuffs was so persistent that there are but few traces of sedimentary deposits in the volcanic series. In the neighbourhood of Eaglesham, however, sandstones, dark shales, and sometimes impure fossiliferous limestones are associated with the tuffs. An interesting feature connected with this remarkable volcanic area is the existence of numerous vents, from which the igneous materials were discharged. They are now filled with basalt, porphyrite, or volcanic agglomerate. The best example of one of these ancient cones is to be found on the hills between Queenside Muir and Misty Law, where there is a great development of coarse agglomerate pierced by dykes and bosses of felstone and basalt. This agglomerate pierces the stratified volcanic rocks of the district.

As already indicated, there is a perfect passage from the contemporaneous volcanic rocks into the overlying Carboniferous Limestone series. The junction between the two, however, is usually a faulted one, and hence the regular succession is visible only at few localities. Where no faults intervene, the strata immediately overlying the ancient lavas consist of ashy sandstones, grits, and conglomerates, which are replaced at intervals by white sandstones and clay ironstones. Occasionally they are associated with bands of tuff. From the ashy character of the strata one might infer that the sedimentary materials were mainly derived from the denudation of the underlying volcanic rocks, while the bands of tuff indicate spasmodic outbursts of volcanic activity. The ashy strata just described are succeeded by the lowest members of the Carboniferous Limestone series. In Renfrewshire this important series of strata is divisible into three groups, in common with other areas in the midland counties, viz., a lower limestone group, a middle coalbearing group, and an upper limestone group.

Along the N border of the volcanic area, between the White Cart Water at Busby and the banks of the Clyde near Erskine House, the members of the Carboniferous Limestone series are everywhere brought into contact with the ancient lavas and ashes by faults. A glance at the Geological Survey maps (sheets 30 and 22 of the 1-inch map of Scotland) shows the irregular nature of the boundary line due to the peculiar system of faulting. In one remarkable case the Carboniferous Limestone series stretches almost continuously across the volcanic belt, from Johnstone and Howwood to Lochwinnoch. This hollow is flanked by two powerful faults, throwing down the lowest members of the overlying series.

If we except some small patches of Millstone Grit to the E of Barrhead and near Pollokshields, and the limited development of the true Coal-measures on the border of the county at Rutherglen, the whole of the area lying to the N of the volcanic rocks belongs to the Carboniferous Limestone series. The strata are traversed by numerous faults which repeat the valuable seams of coal and ironstone. In the neighbourhood of Johnstone and Linwood they are arranged generally in the form of a synclinal fold. Along the W margin of this basin, near Bridge of Weir, we find the Hurlet Coal and Limestone dipping to the E and SE being rapidly followed by the Lillies Oil-Shale, the Hosie Limestone, and the Johnstone Clayband Ironstone. In the neighbourhood of Linwood the deepest part of the basin is reached, the Lower Garscadden Clayband Ironstone being succeeded by various coal seams belonging to the middle coal-bearing group. To the S of Johnstone there is a remarkable development of intrusive sheets of basalt occurring near the base of the Carboniferous Limestone series. The largest of these masses occurs in the neighbourhood of Quarrelton, measuring 1½ mile from N to S, and consisting of dolerite. It is underlaid by the thick Quarrelton Coal, which rests on a basement of volcanic tuff reposing on white sandstones intervening between the Quarrelton Coal and the volcanic rocks of the Cement-stone group. Near Howwood, the intrusive sheet just referred to, and the associated strata, form an anticlinical arch, from which the Hurlet Coal and Limestone dip away towards the E and W. Similar intrusive sheets of basalt rock occur about 1 mile to the NE of Paisley, where they occupy a similar geological horizon.

Passing E to that portion of the basin extending from Hurlet to Shawlands and Crossmyloof, there is a splendid development of the middle coal-bearing and upper limestone groups. A traverse from Hurlet E to Cowglen shows, if we exclude minor faults, a general ascending section from the outcrop of the Hurlet Coal and Limestone, through the Lillies Oil-Shale, Hosie Limestone, and the various ironstones and coals of the middle coalbearing group, to the Cowglen Limestone. The latter bed forms the base of the upper limestone group, thus occupying a similar position with the Index Limestone in the Lanarkshire basin. The valuable coals and ironstones of the middle group also occur to the N of Shawlands and Crossmyloof, where they are abruptly truncated by a fault throwing down to the NE the Millstone Grit and the Coal-measures. Near Crossmyloof the coal seams of the middle group of the Carboniferous Limestone series are actually brought into conjunction with the numerous coals and ironstones of the true Coal-measures.

Advancing S from Crossmyloof, where the coal seams of the middle group have a general dip to the S, there is a general ascending series through the upper limestone group to the overlying Millstone Grit. The observer crosses in succession the Cowglen or Index Limestone, the white Giffnock sandstones, the Orchard Limestone, which is underlaid by a thin seam of coal; while at the top he finds the Arden Limestone, also underlaid by a seam of coal. In this district the Arden Limestone is regarded as marking the boundary between the Carboniferous Limestone series and the overlying Millstone Grit. The limestones of the upper group are by no means very fossiliferous, but there is a bed of shale at Orchard teeming with fossils which has become famous among the geologists of the west of Scotland. From this band alone Messrs Young and Armstrong have chronicled upwards of 120 species of univalve and bivalve shells, together with Foraminifera and Entomostraca.

To the E of Barrhead there is a small outlier of thick yellow sandstones, representing the Millstone Grit, resting on the Arden Limestone which rises from underneath the sandstones on every side save the E, where the basin is truncated by a NE and SW fault. Another little outlier of Millstone Grit resting on the Arden Limestone occurs about a mile to the SE of Thornliebank. Sandstones of the same age also occur at Pollokshields on the E side of the great fault already referred to, where they pass conformably below the true Coal-measures, forming the W termination of the great Lanarkshire basin. A line drawn from the county boundary near Dellevine House, NW by Crossmyloof to Ibroxholm, marks the course of the great fault which brings the Coal-measures into conj unction with the Carboniferous Limestone series. In this part of the basin the Kiltongue, Virtuewell, Splint, Hump, Rough Main, Rough Ell, and the Mossdale coal seams are represented.

Throughout the county there are numerous basalt dykes of Tertiary age, piercing alike the Lower Carboniferous volcanic rocks and the Carboniferous Limestone series. Perhaps the best examples occur in the volcanic area to the NW of Lochwinnoch, where some of the dykes run parallel with each other for a distance of several miles.

The proofs of glaciation in the county are abundant. Numerous instances of striations are met with, especially in the volcanic area between Lochwinnoch and Port Glasgow. Throughout that district the general trend of the ice-markings is SE, due to the movement of the great ice sheet radiating from the Highland mountains. This SE trend continues as far as Kilbarchan and Lochwinnoch, but to the E of these localities the striæ gradually swing round to the SW. This change in the direction of the ice movement has been adequately explained by Professor James Geikie, who contends that during the great extension of the ice the glaciers from the Highland mountains moved in an E direction along the valley of the Clyde till they coalesced with those radiating from the Southern Uplands. Eventually the combined ice sheets moved in a SW direction across the volcanic chain in the E of Renfrewshire towards the Firth of Clyde. The glacial deposits which are splendidly developed in the county, and especially along the basin of the Clyde, will be described in the general article on the geology of Scotland.

Economic Minerals.—Copper ore occurs in grey sandstone near Gourock, and several copper mines have been worked in the volcanic rocks near Lochwinnoch, one of which has only recently been discontinued. Agates occur in great abundance in the amygdaloidal volcanic rocks. The various ironstones and coal seams already enumerated, both in the true Coal-measures and in the coal-bearing group of the Carboniferous Limestone, have been extensively wrought. The Arden Limestone has been largely quarried near Barrhead and Thornliebank, where it reaches a thickness of about 10 feet. The Orchard Limestone, though comparatively thin, has been highly prized as a cement limestone, owing to the valuable feature which it possesses of 'setting' under water. Alum has been largely manufactured from the shale at Hurlet and at the Nitshill chemical works; copperas is obtained from the iron pyrites in the shale. As already indicated the great Oil-shale series of Midlothian is represented in this county by contemporaneous volcanic rocks, but there is a band of oil shale underneath the Hosie Limestone at various localities between Houston and the E border of the county. The volcanic rocks supply excellent road metal; and the Giffnock sandstones, as well as some of the beds of limestone, supply excellent building material. See Geological Survey Maps (1 inch) of Scotland, sheets 22 and 30, and the explanation to sheet 22.

Soils and Agriculture.—The soil of the hill districts is principally a light earth, overlying gravel or disintegrated volcanic rock, and is in some parts covered with excellent pasture, and elsewhere with heath or deep moss. The soil of the gently rising district, though in some places thin and poor, is mostly a fairly good earth, overlying gravel or stiff clay, and passing in the haughs along streams into a good deep loam. Along the flat district the soil is a rich alluvium, varying in depth from a few inches to several feet, and in many places displaying all the excellences of rich carse land. The processes of husbandry differ in no respect from those employed in the neighbouring counties, and already noticed. Westerly and south-westerly winds prevail on an average for two-thirds of the year, and as they come directly from the Atlantic, they are loaded with vapour, and the result of their contact with the colder land is heavy rains. The western part of the county is, indeed, one of the wettest parts of the W coast of the Scottish mainland, the annual rainfall being about 60 inches. The mean temperature is about 48 degrees. The areas under the various crops at different dates are given in the following tables:—

Grain Crops.—Acres.
Year. Wheat. Barley or Bere. Oats. Total.
1854 4495 513 16,392 21,400
1866 2973 234 14,229 17,436
1874 3346 259 13,645 17,250
1884 2229 178 14,132 16,539

Grass, Root Crops, etc.—Acres.
Year. Hay and Grass In Rotation Permanent Pasture. Turnips. Potatoes.
1854 42,563 .... 3334 5534
1868 17,133 41,287 2734 5006
1874 18,484 45,558 2485 4289
1884 22,997 47,880 2332 4351

while there are about 1300 acres annually under beans, rye, vetches, fallow, etc. The figures for 1854, as is so often the case with the returns for that year, seem unduly high. The acres under sown crop, exclusive of hay and grass, amount as given in that year to 30,268; but in 1866, the number was only 26,297; in 1874, 25,261; and in 1884, 24,185; but the whole area under crop, including hay and grass, and permanent pasture, has risen from about 90,000 acres in 1874, to 95,353 in 1884. The yield of the different crops is about average. The agricultural live stock in the county at different periods is shown in the following table:—

Year. Cattle. Horses. Sheep. Pigs. Total.
1854 23,513 3623 25,850 1808 54,794
1868 23,415 .. 32,307 1583 ..
1874 26,248 2941 39,724 1888 70,801
1884 27,548 3331 31,582 1952 64,413

The falling off in the area under crop, and the increase in that appropriated for grazing purposes, since 1854, is probably entirely due to the large towns in the neighbourhood, which afford a ready market for stock and for dairy produce. In 1881, there were in the county 20 holdings under 15 acres, 79 between 15 and 50, 216 between 50 and 100, 307 between 100 and 500, and 20 over 500. According to Miscellaneous Statistics of the United Kingdom (1879), 155,321 acres, with a total gross estimated rental of £990,898, are divided among 5735 proprietors, one holding 24,951 acres (rental £14,801), two together 27,775 (£27,059), one 6500 (£5562), thirteen 44,625 (£65,977), eight 12,128 (£28,963), seven 4793 (£17,972), ninety 19,651 (£174,018), etc. Excluding the villa residences in the neighbourhood of the large towns, the principal mansions are Ardgowan, Arthurlie House, Upper Arthurlie House, Auchneagh House, Barochan House, Barshaw House, Bishopton House, Blackstone House, Blythswood House, Broadfield House, Broom House, Capelrig House, Carruth House, Castle Semple, Castle Wemyss, Cathcart House, Craigends House, Crookston House, Cumnock House, Dargavel House, Duchall House, Eaglesham House, Eastbank House, Eastwoodpark House, Elderslie House, Erskine House, Ferguslie House, Finlayston House, Garthland, Glentyan House, Gourock House, Gryfe Castle, Hazelden House, Hawkhead, Househill, Houston House, Johnstone Castle, Jordanhill House, Kirkton House, Kelly House, Langhouse, Leven House, Linn House, Lochside House, Merchiston House, Milliken House, Muirshiels House, North Barr House, South Barr House, Park House, Pollok Castle, Pollok House, Ralston, Scotstoun House, Southfield House, and Walkinshaw House.

Industries, Communications, etc.—The industries of Renfrewshire are more extensive and diversified than those of any other county in Scotland, except Lanarkshire, and with those of the latter county they are, indeed, very intimately connected. Weaving, at one time the staple everywhere, is still extensively carried on, as well as the cognate trades of bleaching and dyeing. From 1740 to 1828, the principal fabrics were linens, but since then cotton has obtained the upper hand. Large numbers of the population are also engaged in the working of minerals, the manufacture of chemicals, the refining of sugar, the making of machinery, foundry-work, shipbuilding, and rope making, and for more minute details in connection with all the industries, reference may be made to Glasgow, Greenock, Paisley, Port Glasgow, Renfrew, and several of the parishes. At Greenock and Port Glasgow the commerce is also important.

The county is intersected by a number of main lines of road, all starting at Glasgow. Of these, the first passes westward through Govan and Renfrew, along the S bank of the Clyde to Greenock, and round the coast until it enters Ayrshire. A second strikes WSW by Kinning nark and Ibrox to Paisley, and, passing up the valley of the Black Cart, enters Ayrshire near Beith. The third and fourth pass to the W of the Queen's Park [see Glasgow] and separate at Shawlands, one branch leading by Pollokshaws and Barrhead down the valley of Lugton Water to Irvine, while the other passes also to Irvine by Newton Mearns and Stewarton through the valley of Annick Water. The main line of road from Hamilton to Kilmarnock passes through the SE corner of the county by Eaglesham, and there is an important road from Paisley by Johnstone, Kilbarchan, and Kilmalcolm to Greenock, which is joined at Kilmalcolm by another road from Lochwinnoch. There are also a large number of cross and district roads. Railway communication is provided by both the Caledonian and Glasgow and South-Western railways. Of the former, one of the lines leaves Glasgow on the SW, and follows the line of the road by Barrhead and Neilston into Ayrshire, and on to Kilmarnock, while the other passes westward and then NW and W by Bishopton and Port Glasgow to Greenock and Wemyss Bay. A branch leaves the first mentioned line near Pollokshaws, and passes SE by Busby into Lanarkshire. The Glasgow and South-Western line to Paisley is the same as that of the Caledonian as far as Paisley, but it then strikes south-westward along the valley of the Black Cart into Ayrshire. At Johnstone a branch goes off by Bridge of Weir and Kilmalcolm to Greenock, and a short branch strikes off E of Paisley for Renfrew. The bed of the old Glasgow and Paisley Canal has now also been converted into a railway.

The royal burgh is Renfrew; the parliamentary burghs are Paisley, Greenock, and Port Glasgow. The police burghs are Crosshill, Kinning Park, Pollokshields, East Pollokshields, Pollokshaws, Gourock, and Johnstone. Places of over 2000 inhabitants are, Barrhead, Busby, Kilbarchan, and Thornliebank; villages and places with populations between 100 and 2000 are Anniesland, Blackstoun, Bishopton, Bridge of Weir, Cathcart, Clarkston, Clippens, Crofthead, Crossmyloof, Crosslee, Eaglesham, Elderslie, Gateside, Houston, Howood, Hurlet, Inkerman, Innerkip, Kilmalcolm, Langside, Linwood, Langbank, Lochwinnoch, Mount Florida, Neilston, Newton, Newton-Mearns, New Cathcart, Nitshill, Scotstoun, Shawlands, Strathbungo, Thorn and Overton, Wemyss Bay and Yoker.

The county has 15 entire quoad civilia parishes and portions of other four. These, with reference to the wards, are:-Upper Ward-Abbey Paisley, Kilbarchan, Houston, Erskine, Inchinnan, Renfrew, Neilston, part of Dunlop, part of Beith, Lochwinnoch, Eastwood, Mearns, Eaglesham, part of Cathcart, and part of Govan. Lower Ward-Innerkip, Greenock, Port Glasgow, and Kilmalcolm. The divisions of Paisley (4) and Greenock (3) and the quoad sacra parishes of Barrhead, Linwood, those connected with Cathcart, Pollokshaws, those connected with Gourock, Langbank, and Newark, are also included. All the parishes in the Lower Ward and Erskine are in the presbytery of Greenock and synod of Glasgow and Ayr; and all the others-with the exception of Cathcart and Eaglesham, which are in the presbytery of Glasgow-are in the Presbytery of Paisley in the same synod. Including mission churches, there are 48 places of worship in connection with the Established Church, 40 in connection with the Free Church, 34 in connection with the United Presbyterian Church, 1 in connection with the United Original Seceders, 4 in connection with the Congregational Church, 3 in connection with the Evangelical Union, 4 in connection with the Baptist Church, 6 in connection with the Episcopal Church, and l2 in connection with the Roman Catholic Church. In the year ending September 1883 there were in the county 117 schools, of which 97 were public, with accommodation for 42,265 children. These had 39,233 on the rolls, and an average attendance of 29,349. The staff consisted of 346 certificated, 70 assistant, and 251 pupil teachers. The parliamentary constituency for 1883-84 was 7036. The county is governed by a lord-lieutenant, a vice-lieutenant, 23 deputy-lieutenants, and 250 justices of the peace. The sheriff-principal is shared with Bute, and there is a sheriff-substitute for each ward. The sheriff court for the Upper Ward is held at Paisley every Tuesday and Thursday during session, and for the Lower Ward at Greenock every Wednesday and Friday. Sheriff small debt courts are held weekly at Paisley on Thursday, and at Greenock weekly on Wednesday. Justice of peace small debt courts are held at Paisley every Friday, at Greenock every Thursday, at Port Glasgow on the first Monday of every month, at Pollokshaws on the first Tuesday of every month, at Barrhead on the first Monday of each month, at Johnstone on the third Monday of each month, and at Lochwinnoch on the first Saturday of each month; while quarter sessions are held at Renfrew on the first Tuesday of March, May, and August, and the last Tuesday of October. The police force, exclusive of the burghs of Greenock, Johnstone, Paisley, Port Glasgow, and Renfrew, which have separate forces, consists of 89 men (1 to every 1172 of the population), under a chief constable, with a salary of £300 a year. In 1883 the number of persons tried at the instance of the police was 1967; convicted, 1877; committed for trial, 241; not dealt with, 111; forfeited pledges, 613; whilst 1726 besides were tried at justice of peace courts, including the burgh courts of Kinning Park and Crosshill. Of the total convictions 537 were within the burgh of Kinning Park. In 1883 the average number of registered poor was 2897, with 1833 dependants, and 130 casual poor with 140 dependants, while the total expenditure for parochial board purposes amounted to £47,587. All the parishes are assessed, and there are poorhouses at Govan and Paisley. The proportion of illegitimate births averages about 6 per cent., and the average death-rate is about 20. Connected with the county is the 4th battalion of the Princess Louise's Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (formerly the Royal Renfrew Militia), with headquarters at Paisley; a battalion of artillery volunteers, with headquarters at Greenock; and three battalions of rifle volunteers, with their headquarters at Greenock, Paisley, and Pollokshaws. The county returns one member to serve in parliament; one is returned for Greenock, another for Paisley; and Port Glasgow and Renfrew have a share in a third. Valuation, inclusive of railways, but exclusive of burghs (1674) £5764, (1815) £265,534, (1843) £474,568, (1876) £583,741, (1884) £781,195. Pop. of registration county, which takes in part of Cathcart parish from Lanarkshire, and gives off parts of Beith and Dunlop to Ayrshire, and parts of Gorbals and Govan to Lanarkshire (1831) 132,812, (1841) 154,160, (1851) 157,950, (1861) 168,746, (1871) 195,305, (1881) 225,611; civil county, (1801) 78,501, (1811) 93,172, (1821) 112,175, (1831) 133,443, (1841) 155,072, (1851) 161,09l, (1861) 177,561, (1871) 216,947, (1881) 263,374, of whom 126,743 were males and 136,631 were females. These were distributed into 54,622 families, occupying 52,703 houses with 145,568 rooms, an average of 1.81 persons to each room. Of the 263,374 inhabitants 3319 males and 1371 females were connected with the civil or military services or professions, 1141 men and 7623 women were domestic servants, 9958 men and 294 women were connected with commerce, 3572 men and 934 women were connected with agriculture and fishing, and 49,681 men and 21,734 women were engaged in industrial handicrafts or were dealers in manufactured substances, while there were 39,345 boys and 38,900 girls of school age. Of those engaged in industrial handicrafts 7741 men and 15,547 women were connected with the manufacture of textile fabrics, and 7986 men and 172 women were connected with the working of mineral substances. Of those connected with farming and fishing 3284 men and 920 women were connected with farming alone, and 8l3 farmers employed 865 men, 393 women, 118 boys, and 290 girls.

History.—The territory now forming Renfrewshire belonged to the ancient Caledonian Damnii, and afterwards formed part of the kingdom of Strathclyde. [See Dumbarton.] The western portion bore the name of Strathgryfe, and was by that title granted to Walter, the first High Steward of Scotland, by David I. Prior to 1404 it seems to have been included in the county of Lanark, but to have then become a separate county when King Robert III. granted to his son and heir James this barony and the other portions of his ancient patrimonial inheritance. Since that time the eldest son of the reigning monarch has, besides his other titles, been styled Prince and Steward of Scotland and Baron of Renfrew. When their is no heir-apparent these titles are merged in the Crown. Traces of Roman remains and of the Roman occupation are noticed under Paisley. The county is associated with the defeat and death of Somerled, Lord of the Isles, in 1164, when we are told by the Chronicler of Melrose, that after landing at Renfrew, that prince was overtaken by Divine vengeance, 'and was there slain with his son and an immense number of his followers by a few of the people of the surrounding district.' In a very curious Latin poem printed in the appendix to Dr Skene's edition of Fordun (1871), the 'honour and praise' of the victory is given to the exertions of St Kentigern in return for devastations which Somerled had committed in the Glasgow district several years before, and which the bishop of Glasgow had prayed very hard that the Saint might piously rebuke. During one of the many fruitless invasions of Scotland in the early years of Edward II., the English army in 13l0 penetrated as far as Renfrewshire before returning. In 1489 the county was the scene of operations carried on by James IV. against some of the nobles that had adhered to his father's party, and in 1565 the Earl of Moray and the discontented barons assembled at Paisley, but marched into Lanarkshire almost immediately. Other historical events and antiquities will be found noticed particularly under the various parishes and places with which they are more immediately connected. Like most of the Scottish counties, Renfrewshire was seriously troubled with witches in the 17th century, and the case of the 'Witches of Renfrew' in 1697 became very famous. The person bewitched was Christian Shaw, a girl of eleven years of age, daughter of John Shaw, laird of Bargarran, who, 'having had a quarrel with one of the maid-servants, pretended to be bewitched by her, and forthwith began, according to the common practice in such cases, to vomit all manner of trash; to be blind and deaf on occasion; to fall into convulsions; and to talk a world of nonsense, which the hearers received as the quintessence of afflicted piety. By degrees a great many persons were implicated in the guilt of the maidservant, and no less than twenty were condemned, and five suffered death on the Gallow Green of Paisley, While one strangled himself in prison, or, as report went, was strangled by the devil, lest he should make a confession to the detriment of the service.'

See also Crawfurd's Description of the Shire of Renfrew (1710), with continuations by Semple (Paisley, 1782) and by Robertson (Paisley, 1818); Wilson's General View of the Agriculture of Renfrewshire (1812); Hamilton of Wishaw's Description of the Sheriffdom of Lanark and Renfrew (Maitland Club, 1831); Ramsay's Views in Renfrewshire (1839); Hector's Selections from the Judicial Records of Renfrewshire (1876-78); the works cited under paisley, and for the witches Narrative of the Sufferings and Relief of a Young Girl in the West (Edinb. 1698); Saducismus Debellatus (London, 1698); A History of the Witches of Renfrewshire (Paisley, 1809; and a new edition 1877); and an attack on the executions, Witchcraft Proven, Arraign'd, and Condemn'd (Glasgow, 1697).—Ord. Sur., shs. 29, 30, 3l, 22, 1865-73.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available.

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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