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Douglas

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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Douglas, a town and a parish in the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire. The town stands on the right bank of Douglas Water, 3¼ miles SSW of Douglas station on a branch of the Caledonian, this being 7½ miles SSW of Lanark, 11 SW of Carstairs Junction, 39½ SW of Edinburgh, and 13¼ ENE of Muirkirk. Formerly a place of much political importance, a burgh of barony with high magisterial powers, and a seat of considerable trade and marketing, it has fallen into great decadence, and now presents an antique and irregular appearance. Its streets are narrow, some of the houses look as if they still belonged to the Middle Ages; and the townsfolk, with few exceptions, are weavers, mechanics, or labourers. A cotton factory, established in 1792, continued in operation only a few years; and a connection with Glasgow in handloomweaving is now, too, all but extinct. The town, nevertheless, is still a place of some provincial consideration, possesses a fair amount of local business, and is replete with antiquarian interest. It has a post office under Lanark, with money order, savings' bank, and railway telegraph departments, branches of the Commercial and Royal Banks, 7 insurance agencies, the Douglas Arms inn, gas-works, the parish church, a Free church, a U.P. church, a public school, and fairs on the third Friday of March and October. The kirk of St Bride, founded in the 13th century, but Second Pointed in style, was a prebend of Glasgow cathedral, and seems to have been a large and stately edifice, now represented by only a small spire and the choir, which latter was always till 1761 the burial-place of the Douglas family. In 1879-81 it underwent an extensive restoration, the vault beneath the High Altar being entirely renewed and much enlarged. The old coffins have been removed, and in the new vault are now interred the late Earl and Countess of Home. In the centre of the floor of the choir above is a beautiful marble and alabaster monument of the Countess, which presents a striking contrast to the faded and mutilated effigies around it; and the E window is filled with stained glass in memory of the Earl. ` Here,' says Sir Walter Scott, ` a silver case, containing the dust of what was once the brave heart of Good Sir James, is still pointed out; and in the dilapidated choir above appears, though in a sorely ruinous state, the once magnificent tomb of the warrior himself. This monument is supposed to have been wantonly mutilated and defaced by a detachment of Cromwell's troops, who, as was their custom, converted the kirk of St Bride of Douglas into a stable for their horses. Enough, however, remains to identify the resting-place of the great Sir James. The effigy, of dark stone, is cross-legged, and in its original state must have been not inferior in any respect to the best of the same period in Westminster Abbey.'* The Covenanters, in the times of the persecution, had close connection with the town, being better sheltered in its neighbourhood than in most other districts, and in April 1689 the Cameronian regiment was here embodied in defence of the Protestant government of William and Mary, under the command of the eldest son of the second Marquis of Douglas. Pop. (1841) 1313, (1861) 1426, (1871) 1371, (1881) 1262.

The parish, containing also the villages of Uddington and Rigside, 2¾ and 4 miles NE of the town, as likewise Inches station, 63/8 miles SW of Douglas station, is bounded NW by Lesmahagow, NE by Carmichael, E by Wiston-Roberton, SE and S by Crawfordjohn, and W by Muirkirk in Ayrshire. Its utmost length is 117/8 miles from NE to SW, viz., from the confluence of Poniel and Douglas Waters to Cairntable; its utmost breadth, from NW to SE, is 67/8 miles; and its area is 34,317½ acres, of which 1802/3 are water. Douglas Water, rising 1500 feet above sea-level, in the south-western corner of the parish, winds 16½ miles north-eastward through all the interior, on the way receiving Monks and Kennox Waters, Glespin and Parkhall Burns, and Poniel Water, which last, running 9½ miles east-north-eastward, traces nearly all the boundary with Lesmahagow; whilst Duneaton Water flows 6¾ miles east-by-southward, along all the southern border, on its way to the Clyde. The surface, declines to less than 600 feet above sea-level at the north-eastern corner, where Douglas Water passes from the parish; and elevations to the left or N of its course, from NE to SW, are Poniel Hill (842 feet), Arkney Hill (1225), Windrow Hill (1297), Hagshaw Hill (1540), Shiel Hill (1122), *Hareshaw Hill (1527), *Brack Hill (1306), and *Little Cairntable (1693), asterisks marking those summits that culminate on the Ayrshire border. To the right or S of the Douglas rise Robert Law (1329), Scaur Hill (1249), Parkhead Hill (1241), Pagie Hill (1273), Auchensaugh Hill (1286), Pinkstone Rig (1255), Hartwood Hill (1311), Douglas Rig (1535), and Cairntable (1944). The rocks of the valley belong to the Carboniferous formation, and comprise very fine coal (including valuable gas coal), some ironstone, limestone, and beautiful white sandstone. The coal is extensively mined, both for home use and for exportation, and the limestone and sandstone are quarried. There are several pretty strong chalybeate springs. The soil in most parts of the strath is a free black mould, in some is lighter and gravelly, and in others is clay; on the moors it is mostly humus or moss, but even here in places a deep loam. Fully three-sevenths of the rental are from arable land, nearly one-half is from pasture, and the rest is from minerals. Cairns are on Auchensaugh and Kirkton hills; and a large one, found to contain a sarcophagus, stood formerly on Poniel farm. Ancient churches or chapels were at Andershaw, Glenlaggart, Parishholm, and Chapel Hill. The chief residences are Douglas Castle, Carmacoup, Springhill, and Crossburn; and 2 proprietors, besides the Earl of Home, hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 2 of between £100 and £500,7 of from £50 to £100, and 17 of from £20 to £50. Douglas is in the presbytery of Lanark and synod of Glasgow and Ayr; the living is worth £471. Three new public schools- Douglas, Rigside, and Stablestone-with respective accommodation for 250,130, and 130 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 161,96, and 82, and grants of £144,11s., £89,1s., and £87,10s. Valuation (1860) £12,836, (1882) £21,545,8s. Pop. (1801) 1730, (1831) 2542, (1861) 2490, (1871) 2624, (1881) 2641.—Ord. Sur., shs. 23,15,1865-64.

*.Thus Sir Walter. but the minister of Douglas, the Rev. W. Smith, writes: 'as to the silver heart-case, I am not sure. There are two enclosed in a modern box; but they are neglected. as it is not known whose hearts they are; and as to being silver, most people would say they were lead. Last century the school stood in the churchyard. There was no door on the choir, and the boys had full-liberty to do as they liked. Which liberty they undoubtedly took. So that the mutilation of statues attributed to Cromwell was performed by inferior destructionists. The lead cases in the shape of hearts are much broken. having had the same treatment as the monuments. -I may mention that, though the body of the Good Sir James was brought to Douglas according to tradition or history, no bones were found when recently the space under the stone effigy was opened.'

Douglas-Mill, a quondam inn (well known in old coaching days) in Douglas parish, Lanarkshire, 2¼ miles NE of Douglas town. Coleridge and Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy dined here 20 Aug. 1803.

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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