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Parish of Linlithgow

(St Michael)

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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1791-99: Linlithgow
1834-45: Linlithgow

Linlithgow, a parish containing the royal burgh of the same name in the NW of the county of Linlithgow. It is bounded N by Carriden parish, NE by Abercorn, E by Ecclesmachan, SE by Uphall, S by a detached portion of Ecclesmachan and by Bathgate parish, SW by Torphichen, and NW by Stirlingshire and by Borrowstounness parish. The boundary with Stirlingshire is the river Avon, over a distance of 4 7/8 miles, and at the NE, SE, and part of the S sides, the line follows for some distance the Haugh and Niddry Burns; elsewhere it is mostly artificial. The greatest length of the parish, from the river Avon west of Carribber on the W to near Binny on the E, is 6 ½ miles; the greatest breadth, from the road N of Bonside on the N to Silvermine on the S, is 4 7/8 miles; and the area is 11,603 acres, of which 152½ are water. The surface is undulating, and the height above sea-level rises from 150 feet at Linlithgow Loch, northwards to Bonnytoun Hill or Glower-o'er-'em (559) and southwards to the Riccarton Hills (832), and Binny Craig (718). From Bonnytoun Hill, which is just on the northern border, there is a very extensive and charming view. The north-eastern and eastern districts are mainly level, while the central hollow rises southward with a long slope to the Riccarton Hills. Binny Craig had at one time repute as a haunt of fairies. The soil in the S and SE is a strong stiff clay on a retentive subsoil, and is more suitable for pasture than for tillage; in all the other districts it is mostly light, friable, easily cultivated, and yielding good returns.- A considerable area in the parish is under wood, and the rest, except a very small proportion on the upper slopes or tops of the higher grounds is either regularly or occasionally under tillage. The underlying rocks are sandstone, limestone, basalt, and volcanic ash, of which the two first are worked in several places- There are large quarries at Kingscavil and Binny, the latter being particularly noted for the excellence of the sandstone and the large size of the blocks that may be obtained- Small patches of bitumen, capable of being manufactured into bright flaming candles, are sometimes found associated with the sandstone. There are at several places thin seams of coal and bitumen found, but not in sufficient quantity to be worked. Silver was once obtained in some quantity from lead ore mined and smelted at Silvermine in the S, but the works have long been abandoned, except during a feeble attempt made for their revival some years ago. A mineral spring at Carribber is now neglected. The parish is drained on the W by the river Avon, and by the small streams that join it, the principal being- Loch Burn, issuing from the W corner of, and carrying off the surplus water from, Linlithgow Loch. One or two small streams also enter the loch. In the N, NE, and centre, the rainfall is carried off by the Pardovan, Haugh, and Riccarton burns, which unite and run NE to the sea at Abercorn; and in the S and SE by Mains and Niddry burns (the latter being on the boundary), which unite and flow eastward to the Almond. Besides the burgh of Linlithgow, the parish contains the village of Kingscavil, E of Linlithgow, and part of the village of Linlithgow Bridge to the W, both of which are separately noticed. The northern portion of the parish is traversed by roads from Edinburgh by South Queensferry and by Kirkliston, which unite at Linlithgow and pass westward to Glasgow, and by Stirling to the north; and there are also throughout the whole of it a large number of excellent district roads. The north is also traversed by the Union Canal, which, entering on the W at the Avon to the WSW of Woodcockdale, winds eastward for 5 7/8 miles, and passes into Abercorn parish near Easter Pardovan; and by the North British railway system, which, entering on the E 1/8 mile NE of Wester Pardovan, passes westwards 4 ¼ miles, and quits the parish at the Avon 1/8 mile S of Linlithgow Bridge. There is a station at the town of Linlithgow. The mansions are Avontoun, Champfleurie House, Belsyde, Bonsyde, Preston House, and Woodcockdale. Besides the industries in connection with the town, and the paper-mill at Linlithgow Bridge, there are sandstone and whinstone quarries, a paper-mill W of the outlet of Linlithgow Loch, and a large distillery ½ mile SW of the town. On the tract of ground E of the town still called Boroughmuir, Edward I. encamped on the night previous to the battle of Falkirk and the defeat of Wallace. On the same ground, in 1781, an earthen urn was found containing about 300 Roman coins. On Cocklerue Hill are traces of a hill fort, and on the top, which is, however, in Torphichen parish, is a hollow, associated, like so many others of the same sort, with the name of the great Scottish patriot, and known as Wallace's Cradle. There are traces of another hill fort in the SE, 3 furlongs S of Wester Ochiltree. There is a tradition that a battle was fought between the natives and the Romans at Irongath, but Dr Skene thinks that though there really was a battle, it was post-Roman, and fought between native tribes, and the same authority fixes Carribber as, in 736, the place where the Cinel Loarn branch of the Dalriadic Scots were defeated by the Picts. About a mile W of the town along the railway is the scene of the battle of Linlithgow Bridge, fought in Sept. 1526. The Earl of Lennox having assembled a considerable force at Stirling, advanced towards Linlithgow to try, at the young king's own expressed desire, to get James V. out of the keeping of the Douglases. The Earl of Arran barred the way by occupying the bridge and the steep banks between that and Manuel Priory, and with assistance from the Earl of Angus ultimately defeated the Lennox party. Lennox himself, who had surrendered to the Laird of Pardovan, was deliberately shot by Sir James Hamilton of Finnart, and the spot where he fell, or possibly where he was buried, * seems to have been marked by a heap of stones, and is still known as Lennox's Cairn. Many relics of the fight were recovered when the railway was being made, and a sword with the inscription pono leges virtute, which was then found, is now in the burgh museum at Linlithgow. Not far off there seems to have been a field used for knightly sports, and known as the joisting or jousting haugh. Nearer the town is a rising-ground, traditionally a law hill, the flat ground below having the name of Doomsdale. At Carribber are the ruins of an old mansion, know from the owner in the time of James V. as `Rob Gib's Castle,' and there is an old tower at Ochiltree. Distinguished natives of the parish are Binny or Binnoch, Rob Gib, Stewart of Pardovan, and Sir Charles Wyville Thomson. Binny figures prominently in connection with Bruce's capture of Linlithgow Peel, an exploit noticed in the following article. The Binnings of Wallyford are said to have been descended from him, and in reference to their ancestors' deed, to have had for their arms a hay-wain with the motto `Virtute doloque.' Rob or Robert Gib was stirrup-man to James V. and laird of Carribber, and is well known in connection with the proverb, `Rob Gib's contract - stark love and kindness, ' which arose from his having one day described the courtiers as ` a set of unmercifully greedy sycophants, who followed their worthy king only to see what they could make of him, ' while he himself served his master ` for stark love and kindness. ' Stewart of Pardovan represented the burgh of Linlithgow in the last Scottish parliament, and is also author of a work of considerable authority on the proceedings of Presbyterian church courts and the intricacies of Presbyterial law. Sir Charles Wyville Thomson (1830-82) was Professor of Natural History in the University of Edinburgh, and had a world-wide reputation as the chief of the scientific staff engaged in the deep-sea investigations carried out by the expedition in H.M.S. Challenger in 1872-76.

The parish, which comprehends also the ancient parish of Binning, united to it after the Reformation, and which, prior to 1588, had also the parishes of Kinneil and Carriden attached to it, is the seat of a presbytery in the synod of Lothian and Tweeddale; the living is worth £400 a year. The churches are noticed in the following article. The landward schoolboard has under its charge the public schools of Kingscavil and Linlithgow, and these, with accommodation respectively for 61 and 314 pupils, had (1882) attendances of 48 and 275, and grants of £36, 6s. and £229, 1s. Eleven proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 or upwards, and there are a considerable number holding smaller amounts. Valuation (1860) £21, 318, (1881) £23, 266, (1884) £19, 469, plus £4226 for railway. Pop. (1801) 3596, (1831) 4874, (1861) 5784, (1871) 5554, (1881) 5619, of whom 3913 were within the burgh.—Ord. Sur., shs. 31, 32, 1867-57.

The presbytery of Linlithgow, almost corresponding with the old rural deanery, includes the quoad civilia parishes of Abercorn, Bathgate, Borrowstounness, Midcalder, West Calder, Carriden, Dalmeny, Ecclesmachan, Falkirk, Kirkliston, Linlithgow, Livingston, Muiravonside, Polmont, Queensferry, Slamannan, Torphichen, Uphall, and Whitburn; the quoad sacra parishes of Camelon, Fauldhouse, Grahamston, and Grangemouth; and the mission stations of Armadale and Shielhill and Blackbraes. Pop. (1871) 79, 580, (1881) 90, 507, of whom 10, 709 were communicants of the Church of Scotland in 1878. - There is also a Free Church presbytery of Linlithgow, with churches at Armadale, Bainsford, Bathgate, Borrowstounness, West Calder, Crofthead, Falkirk, Grangemouth, Harthill, Kirkliston, Laurieston, Linlithgow, Livingston, Polmont, Slamannan, Torphichen, Uphall, and Whitburn, which 18 churches together had 4441 members in 1883.

* Pitscottie says 'the king's servants came through the field and saw the lord Hamilton standing morning beside the Earl of Lennox, say ing, " The wisest man, the stoutest man, the hardiest ma, that ever was born in Scotland, was slain that day," and his cloke of scarlet cast upon him, and gart watchmen stand about him till the king's servants came and buried him;' which seems to point to his being buried on the spot.

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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