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Parish of Dalry

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: Dalry
1834-45: Dalry

Dalry, a town and a parish in Cunninghame district, Ayrshire. The town stands on a rising-ground between Rye and Caaf Waters, and at the right side of the river Garnock, 3 furlongs W by N of Dalry Junction on the main line of the Glasgow and South-Western railway, this being 15½ miles SW of Paisley, 22½ SW of Glasgow, 70¼ WSW of Edinburgh, 11¼ NW of Kilmarnock, 9 NE of Ardrossan, 6¾ N by W of Irvine, and 17½ N by W of Ayr. A tract of country around it was anciently under special royal jurisdiction, and bore the name of the King's District or Valley (Gael. dail-righ); and a field on which its first houses were built was called the King's Field (Gael. croftanrigh), a name that it still retains in the slightly modified form of Croftangry. The parish church, St Margaret's, dependent once upon Kilwinning Abbey, and originally occupying a different site, was rebuilt on that field about the year 1608, and gave origin to the town. The site is eligible enough for a seat of traffic and industry, and commands an extensive southward and north-eastward view; but, owing to great freshets in the Garnock, the Rye, and the Caaf, it sometimes has almost the aspect of an island. The town was long no more than a petty hamlet, in 1700 comprising but six dwelling-houses, and about the beginning of this century numbering barely 800 inhabitants; afterwards it rose somewhat speedily to the dimensions of a smallish town, with a population of about 2000 in 1835. Some nine years later it started into sudden importance as a seat of business for the great neighbouring iron-works of Blair and Glengarnock; and then assumed, along with its environs, an appearance so different from what it had borne before, that a visitor acquainted with it only in its former condition would hardly have known it for the same place. Now consisting of twelve streets, it contains great numbers of well-built modern houses and not a few excellent shops, and has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, insurance, and telegraph departments, branches of the British Linen Co., Clydesdale, and Union banks, 16 insurance agencies, 4 hotels, gas-works, town buildings, with library and reading-room, a Good Templars' hall, assembly rooms, 3 woollen factories, a worsted mill, an oil and stearine factory, etc- Thursday is market-day, and a fair is held on 31 July and 1 August. A gravitation water supply, capable of affording 130,000 gallons per diem, has been introduced at a cost of £9000; and in the centre of the town is a handsome granite fountain. The parish church was rebuilt in 1771, and again in 1871-73, the present being a cruciform Gothic edifice, with 1100 sittings, stained windows of Munich glass, and a tower and spire 124 feet high. Other places of worship are the West Established church, a Free church, a U.P. church (508 sittings), and St Palladins' Roman Catholic church (1851; 500 sittings). Besides a public school at Burnside and Kersland Barony school at Den, the 3 public schools of Blairmains, Townend, and West End (enlarged at a cost of £3000), and Dalry female industrial Church of Scotland school, with respective accommodation for 100,296, 625, and 192 children, had (1880) an average attendance of 44,293,476, and 166, and grants of £32,13s., £263, 8s., £449,6s., and £130,3s. Pop. (1851) 2706, (1861) 4232, (1871) 4133, (1881) 4021. The parish contains also the villages of Blair Works, Burnside, Den, Drakemyre, and Riddens, with part of Glengarnock. Very irregular in outline, it is bounded N by Kilbirnie, NE by Beith, SE by Kilwinning, S by Kilwinning and Ardrossan, W by West Kilbride, and NW by Largs. Its utmost length, from NNW to SSE, is 9 miles; its breadth, from ENE to WSW, varies between ½ mile and 67/8 miles; and its area is 19,361 acres, of which 77 are water. The river Girnock, coming in from Kilbirnie, flows 63/8 miles south-by-westward through the interior and along the Kilbirnie and Kilwinning borders; it is followed throughout this course by the Glasgow and South-Western railway, and receives on the right hand Rye and Caaf Waters, and Bombo Burn and Dusk Water on the left. The surface, sinking in the extreme S to 85 feet above sea-level, thence rises north-eastward to 239 feet at Muirhead, 334 at Bowertrapping, and 357 near East Middlebank-north-north-westward and northward to 302 near Linn House, 869 at Gill Hill, 1099 at Baidland Hill, 1216 at Cock Law, 1261 at Green Hill, 652 at Carwinning Hill, and 1378 at Rough Hill, whose summit, however, falls just within Largs. The rocks are partly eruptive, partly carboniferous. Limestone has long been largely worked; and coal is mined of excellent quality, partly in seams from 2½ to 5 feet thick. Ironstone, of very rich quality, began to be worked about 1845, when two farms which had been sold to the Glengarnock Iron Company for £18,000 were shortly afterwards resold to the Blair Iron Company for £35,000. Agates have been found in the bed of the Rye. The soil along the Girnock is deep alluvial loam, and to the E of it is chiefly thin, cold, retentive clay. In some parts to the W of the Girnock, it is an adhesive clay; along the base of the hills, has generally a light dry character, incumbent on either limestone or trap; and elsewhere is often reclaimed moss. Antiquities, other than those of Blair and Carwinning, are cairns and a moat near the town-the Courthill Mound, which, excavated in the winter of 1872, was found to contain large deposits of human bones and ashes. The Blairs have been lairds of Blair for wellnigh seven centuries; one of the line, Sir Bryce, was foully murdered at Ayr by the English in 1296. Another of Dalry's worthies was Sir Robert Cunningham, physician to Charles II.; and Captain Thomas Craufurd of Jordanhill (1530-1603), who gallantly took Dumbarton Castle in 1571, spent the close of his life at Kersland. The chief mansions are Blair, Giffen, Kirkland, Linn, Maulside, Ryefield, Swindridgemuir, Swinlees, and Waterside; and 8 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 43 of between £100 and £500,32 of from £50 to £100, and 88 of from £20 to £50. Dalry is in the presbytery of Irvine and synod of Glasgow and Ayr; the living is worth £364. West and Kersland Barony churches are chapels of ease. Valuation (1860) £70,893; (1882) £44,227; plus £6798 for railways. Pop. (1801) 832, (1831) 1246, (1841) 4791, (1851) 8865, (1861) 11,156, (1871) 10,885, (1881) 10,215.—Ord. Sur., sh. 22,1865.

Dalry, a village and a parish of N Kirkcudbrightshire. The village stands, 200 feet above sea-level, on the left bank of the Ken, near the southern extremity of the parish, 3½ miles NNW of New Galloway, and 9¾ NW by N of Parton station, with which it communicates twice a day by omnibus. Called variously Dalry, Claughan of Dalry, and St John's Town of Dalry, it offers a picturesque assemblage of houses, irregularly scattered over a considerable space of ground, with gardens, hedges, and rows of trees; at it are a post and telegraph office, a branch of the Union Bank, a good hotel, and a public hall (1858). Pop. (1861) 639, (1871) 637, (1881) 585. The parish was anciently one with Kells, Balmaclellan, and Carsphairn, comprising the entire district of Glenkens, and had several chapels, all subordinate to a mother church. It is bounded NW by New Cumnock, in Ayrshire; N by Sanquhar and NE by Penpont, in Dumfriesshire; E by Tynron and Glencairn, also in Dumfriesshire; SE by Balmaclellan; SW by Kells; and W by Kells and Carsphairn. Its utmost length, from N by E to S by W, is 151/8 miles; its breadth, from E to W, varies between 1¼ and 7¾ miles; and its area is 34,729½ acres, of which 194 are water. In the extreme N, close to the meeting-point of Kirkcudbright, Ayr, and Dumfries shires, the Water of Ken rises at 1870 feet above sea-level, and thence winds 21½ miles south-south -westward and south - south - eastward, mainly along the Carspbairn and Kells borders; it is joined by Carroch Burn, Black Water, Earlston Burn, and other streams from the interior, and by Garpel Burn, which runs south-westward along the boundary with Balmaclellan. That with Glencairn is traced for 2¼ miles by Castlefern Burn; and in the interior are these four lakes, with utmost length and breadth and altitude,- Lochinvar (41/3 x 2½ furl.; 770 feet), Knocksting (1¾ x 1½ furl.; 980 feet), Regland (11/3 x 1/3 furl.; 900 feet), and Knockman (1¼ x ½ furl.; 875 feet). At the southern extremity, where the Ken quits the parish, the surface sinks to 165 feet above sea-level, thence rising northward and north-eastward to 559 feet near Kirkland, 825 near Gordonston, 700 at Ardoch Hill, 1062 at Corse Hill, 1127 at Stroan Hill, 1262 at Wether Hill, 950 at Mackilston Hill, 1127 at Glenshimeroch Hill, 1154 at Lochlee Hill, 1188 at Fingland Hill, 1300 near Cornharrow, 1376 at Manwhill, 1900 at *Benbrack, 1750 at Coranbac Hill, 1900 at *Ewe Hill, 2063 at *Alwhat, and 2100 at Lorg Hill, where asterisks mark those summits that culminate on the borders of the parish. Granite and trap are the prevailing rocks; but blue slate occurs, and has been quarried. The southern district consists in great measure of rich arable land and fertile holms, interspersed with wood; the northern is all an assemblage of swelling hills and heathy mountains. A pavement, found at Chapelyards, on Bogue farm, in 1868, is thought to mark the site of a religions house; and besides several moats, cairns, and hill-forts, there are remains of a stronghold on an islet in Lochinvar, a trench-the 'Whighole'-near the top of a hill on Altrye farm, the Gordons' old tower of Earlston, and, at the village, a large stone, known as St John's Chair. David Landsborough, D.D. (1782-1854), poet and naturalist, was a native; so, too, was John Gordon Barbour (1775-1843), author of several works, and a friend of Hogg and ` Christopher North.' He is buried in the churchyard, where also rest three martyred Covenanters. The old church was associated with a Tam-o'-Shanter-like legend, and in it Grierson of Lag stabled his troopers' horses; whilst at this village originated the great Covenanters' rising, that ended at Rullion Green. Three proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 3 of between £100 and £500,3 of from £50 to £100, and 13 of from £20 to £50. Dalry is in the presbytery of Kirkcudbright and synod of Galloway; the living is worth £337. The present parish church was built in 1832 at a cost of £1400, and contains 700 sittings. At the village is also a U.P. church (1826; 200 sittings); and Glenkens Free church stands at Bogue, 1½ mile to the E. Three public schools-Corseglass, Dalry, and Stroanfreggan-with respective accommodation for 37,125, and 32 children, had (1880) an average attendance of 12,105, and 10, and grants of £27,2s., £78,11s. 8d., and £25,9s. Valuation (1860) £7792, (1882) £13,275,13s. 4d. Pop. (1801) 832, (1831) 1246, (1861) 1149, (1871) 1074, (1881) 988.—Ord. Sur., sh. 9,1863.

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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