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Newton Mearns

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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Mearns, a village and a parish of SE Renfrewshire. The village, called Newton-Mearns (a name as old at least as 1306), is pleasantly situated on a rising ground, 410 feet above sea-level, 3½ miles WSW of Busby and 7 SSW of Glasgow. A burgh of barony, with the right of holding a weekly market and two annual fairs, it chiefly consists of a single street on the Glasgow and Kilmarnock highroad, and has a post office under Glasgow, a branch of the Union Bank, gas-works, and an hotel. Pop. (1841) 629, (1861) 718, (1871) 776, (1881) 900.

The parish, containing also three-fourths of the town of Busby, is bounded N by Neilston, Eastwood, and Cathcart, E by East Kilbride and Cathcart in Lanarkshire, SE by Eaglesham, S by Fenwick and Stewarton in Ayrshire, and NW by Neilston. Its utmost length, from NE to SW, is 71/8 miles; its utmost breadth is 33/8 miles; and its area is 10,607 acres, of which 325½ are water. Earn Water runs 6 miles north-eastward along the south-eastern boundary to the White Cart, which itself flows 7½ furlongs along all the Lanarkshire border, and several more of whose little tributaries take a north-north-easterly course through the interior. On the Neilston boundary lie Long Loch, Harelaw Dam, Walton Dam, Glanderston Dam, Balgray Reservoir, Ryat Linn Reservoir, and Waulkmill Glen Reservoir; and in the interior are Black Loch, Little Loch, Brother Loch, and South Hillend Reservoir. The surface sinks at the northern boundary to 280 feet above sea-level, and rises thence south-westward to 783 feet at Barrance Hill, 895 at Dod Hill, and 928 at James Hill, moorland occupying a good deal of the south-western district. Trap rock, chiefly an early disintegrable greenstone, prevails throughout nearly all the area, but gives place to rocks of the Carboniferous formation about the boundary with Eastwood. The soil in patches of the lower district is stiffish, and lies on a clay bottom, but elsewhere is mostly light, dry, and sharp, incumbent on porous, fractured, rapidly decomposing trap. Mearns has always been distinguished for its fine pasture, and even in the present times of extended cultivation it is very largely devoted to sheep and dairy farming. The earliest name on record in connection with this parish is that of Roland of Mearns, who is mentioned as a witness to the donation which Eschina, wife of Walter the Steward, gave to the monastery of Paisley in the year 1177. Robert of Mearns appears in the same capacity in a grant made to that establishment in 1250. In the 13th century, the barony of Mearns came by marriage to the Maxwells of Caerlaverock, afterwards Lords Maxwell and Earls of Nithsdale. About the year 1648 it was sold by the Earl of Nithsdale to Sir George Maxwell of Nether Pollock, from whom it was soon afterwards acquired by Sir Archibald Stewart of Blackhall, with whose descendants it has since remained. (See Ardgowan.) The castle of Mearns is a large square tower situated on a rocky eminence, 1 mile E by S of the village of Newton-Mearns. It is surrounded by a strong wall, and seems to have been secured by a drawbridge. It has long been uninhabited. Caplerig was anciently a seat of the Knights Templars. Professor John Wilson (1785-1854) received his early education in the manse of Mearns, and so often in his writings does he allude to these scenes of his boyhood that the ' dear parish of Mearns ' is nearly as much associated with his great name as if it had been the place of his nativity. Thus opens one of his many apostrophes to Mearns: ` Art thou beautiful, as of old, O wild, moorland, sylvan, and pastoral Parish! the Paradise in which our spirit dwelt beneath the glorious dawning of life -- can it be, beloved world of boyhood, that thou art indeed beautiful as of old? Though round and round thy boundaries in half an hour could fly the flapping dove-though the martins, wheeling to and fro that ivied and wall-flowered ruin of a Castle, central in its own domain, seem in their more distant flight to glance their crescent wings over a vale rejoicing apart in another kirk-spire, yet how rich in streams, and rivulets, and rills, each with its own peculiar murmur-art thou with thy bold bleak exposure, sloping upwards in ever lustrous undulations to the portals of the East! How endless the interchange of woods and meadows, glens, dells, and broomy nooks, without number, among thy banks and braes! And then of human dwellings-how rises the smoke, ever and anon, into the sky, all neighbouring on each other, so that the cock-crow is heard from homestead to homestead; while as you wander onwards, each roof still rises unexpectedly-and as solitary as if it had been far remote. Fairest of Scotland's thousand parishes-neither Highland, nor Lowland-but undulating-let us again use the descriptive word-like the sea in sunset after a day of storms-yes, Heaven's blessing be upon thee! Thou art indeed beautiful as of old!' POLLOK CASTLE, noticed separately, is the principal mansion ; and Sir Hew Crawfurd-Pollok, Bart., is the largest proprietor, 9 others holding each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 31 of between £100 and £500, 20 of from £50 to £100, and 24 of from £20 to £50. Mearns is in the presbytery of Paisley and the synod of Glasgow and Ayr; the living is worth £479. The parish church, ¾ mile SE of Newton-Mearns, is a very old building, altered and enlarged in 1813, with 730 sittings, clock-tower, and spire. A neat U.P. church, rebuilt about 1840, and containing 490 sittings, is at Newton-Mearns; and three other places of worship are noticed under Busby. Two public schools, Busby and Mearns. with respective accommodation for 540 and 288 children, had (1883) an average attendance of 240 and 215, and grants of £227, 7s. and £209. 2s. 6d. Valuation (18,60) £18,665, (1884) £25,248, 17s. 6d. Pop. (1801) 1714, (1831) 2814, (1851) 3704, (1871) 3543, (1881) 3965, of whom 1535 were in Busby. —Ord. Sur., sh. 22, 1865. See the Rev. Dr Ross's Busby and its Neighbourhood (Glasgow, 1883) ; and chap. i. of Mrs Gordon's Memoir of Christopher North (new ed. 1879).

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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