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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Monkland, an ancient barony in the Middle Ward of Lanarkshire. It long constituted one district or parish; but in 1640 it was divided into the two parishes of Old or West Monkland and New or East Monkland. The name of Monkland was obtained from the district having been the property in early times of the monks of Newbattle. In the early part of the reign of Malcolm IV. (1153-65), that monarch granted to these monks a large tract of territory, which extended from the boundaries of Lothian on the E to the Clyde on the W, and which constituted a hundred pounds lands of the ancient extent, the monks having ample jurisdiction over all of it. Excepting the lands and manor-place of Lochwood, which belonged to the Bishops of Glasgow, the monks of Newbattle possessed every acre of territory in what are now Old and New Monkland, a considerable part of which they held in their own hands for cultivation, letting out the remainder in lease. From documents still extant it appears that they obtained permission from the landed proprietors of the west of Scotland, as well as those in the Lothians, for free passage for themselves, their servants, cattle, and goods, from their monastery of Newbattle to their domains in Clydesdale; and from King Alexander II. they obtained similar grants of free passage by the usual ways, with permission to depasture their cattle for one night, on every part of the route, excepting upon the meadows and growing corn. The rectorial revenues of Monkland were joined to those of Cadder in forming a rich prebend, which was held as the appropriate benefice of the subdean of Glasgow; and, although the period of this arrangement is not known, it continued till the Reformation. Previous to this era a chapel was erected at Kipps, on the borders of the present district of New Monkland, which was the property of the Newbattle monks; and the abbots are said to have held annual courts at it, when they levied their rents and feu-duties, and transacted the other business pertaining to their barony of Monkland. This chapel was destroyed at the stormy period of the Reformation, and its site can scarcely now be pointed out. About the same time the monastery of Newbattle was overthrown, and all the fair domains which had so long remained in the possession of the monks were wrested from them.

In 1587 the barony of Monkland was granted in fee to Mark Ker, the commentator of the abbey, who four years later was created Lord Newbattle; but afterwards the barony was divided, and parcelled out into various hands. A portion called Medrocs fell to the share of Lord Boyd; but a still larger share of the barony was acquired by the wily and hoarding Sir Thomas Hamilton of Binning, King's advocate under James VI. He obtained a charter for it from that monarch in 1602, and at the same time a grant of the patronage of the churches of Cadder and Monkland. Sir Thomas subsequently sold the barony to Sir James Cleland, whose son and heir, Ludovick, disposed of it to James, Marquis of Hamilton. In 1639 the Marquis secured his purchase by a charter from the King, granting him the lands and barony of Monkland, with the right of patronage of the churches of Cadder and Monkland, to be held of the King in fee for the yearly payment of a trifling sum in the name of bleach-ferm. In the reign of Charles II., the College of Glasgow purchased from the Duchess of Hamilton the patronage and tithes of the sub-deanery of Glasgow, as well as of the churches of Cadder and Monkland; and for this a charter was also obtained from the King, which was ratified by act of parliament in 1672. Subsequently to this period the heritors of the parishes of New and Old Monkland purchased the right of presentation to both these parishes from the College, under authority of the act 1690 respecting the purchase of church-patronage.

Monkland is famous for its abundance of coal, iron, and other valuable minerals. Its coal has long been worked, and continues to be worked increasingly; but iron-mining, its staple industry, is less than a century old. The increase in mining since the iron began to be worked has been almost magical, changing the face of the whole district, chequering it everywhere with towns and villages, rendering it all a teeming scene of population and industry, drawing through it a network of communications in road and railway and canal, and giving it, through its iron furnaces and coal-pits, a conspicuous or almost distinctive character for streams of flame and clouds of smoke. Its population rose from 8619 in 1801 to 65, 139 in 1881. Its economic condition has,- in consequence, become peculiar; presenting a medium character between that of an open country and that of a manufacturing city. The following official report upon it, drawn up in 1850, is still interesting:- 'The large mining villages now no longer exhibit the aspect of extreme filth and neglect for which they were formerly conspicuous. It requires time to bring a population, not yet accustomed to habits of cleanliness, to regard it for its own sake; the masters are, therefore, obliged to employ men and carts expressly to keep the spaces about the houses free from accumulations of refuse, and to look to the drainage, etc. The effect has been salutary in many respects. The agents also occasionally inspect the houses themselves, prevent over-crowding, and fine or dismiss dirty and disorderly families. In many places proper drains have been made, either covered or laid with stone or brick, and hard and dry road-ways have taken the place of the natural soil, which in wet weather was often deep with mud. Much, therefore, has been done towards placing the population in circumstances in which the decencies and comforts of domestic life are possible; though the original arrangement of the majority of the mining villages in large squares or long unbroken rows must still remain an obstacle; and it has been so far recognised as such, that in most of the more recent works it has been abandoned, and the cottages have been built fewer together, larger, and with more rooms, and with garden-ground and all proper conveniences nearest hand. The number of schools, formerly so inadequate, is now increasing yearly, and there is every disposition to make them efficient, by appointing and paying well-qualified masters and mistresses. The Messrs Baird of Gartsherrie, who began these salutary measures some years ago, for their own immediate neighbourhood, by building a church and a magnificent establishment for all the branches of elementary education, have followed it up by opening other schools in some of the mining villages.; and they speak with satisfaction of the good effects produced upon the habits of the population, and especially of the children, by the frequent supervision, advice, and instruction of resident clergymen and able teachers. Mr Wilson of Dundyvan also has entered very cordially into the improvement of the education at the four schools he has now established in connection with his extensive works; lending-libraries likewise are to be set on foot; and much has been done in the neighbourhood, and at his works especially, by the zeal of the minister of the Episcopal chapel at Coatbridge, to diminish excessive drinking. The excellent schools at the works of Mr Murray, Mr Stewart, and elsewhere, are increasing in numbers. A handsome school, with a master's house attached, is now being built at Airdrie by Mr Alexander, the proprietor of a large portion of the mineral dues of the district. An act of parliament was obtained two years ago for establishing a rural police in the mining portion of the county, the effect of which has been to produce much more general quiet and order and respect for the law in the mining villages. The administration of justice has been rendered more complete by the appointment of the proper staff of law officers to reside and hold their courts in the district. A water-company, which procured an act of parliament last year, has made good progress with their arrangements for supplying the town of Airdrie with water, the deficiency of which was great, and in all probability it will, before long, extend its supply to some of the large villages around, and to the great collections of houses near the principal works.'-Ord. Sur., sh. 31, 1867.

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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