Parish of Lanark

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: Lanark
1834-45: Lanark

Lanark (Cymric llanerch, `a forest glade'), a town and a parish in the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire. The capital of the county, and a royal, parliamentary, and police burgh, the town is built on a south-westward slope, 500 to 750 feet above sea-level, within ½ mile of the Clyde's right bank, by rail being 4 ¼ miles WSW of Carstairs Junction, 33 ¼ SW of Edinburgh, and 31 ¼ SE by E of Glasgow. Its environs are singularly pleasant, comprising the three celebrated Falls of Clyde (Bonnington, Corra, and Stonebyres Linns) and the deep, narrow chasm of Mouse Water beneath the stupendous Cartland Crags, with a wealth of minor embellishment in the shape of undulating surface, woods, and mansions. The town, which on 20 Aug. 1804 received a visit from Coleridge, Wordsworth, and his sister Dorothy, then 'showed a sort of French face, and would have done so more, had it not been for the true British tinge of coalsmoke; the doors and windows dirty, the shops dull, the women too seemed to be very dirty in their dress. The place itself is not ugly; the houses are of grey stone, the streets not very narrow, and the marketplace decent. The New Inn is a handsome old stone building, formerly a gentleman's house. We were conducted into a parlour, where people had been drinking; the tables were unwiped, chairs in disorder, the floor dirty, and the smell of liquors was most offensive. We were tired, however, and rejoiced in our tea. The evening sun was now sending a glorious light through the street, which ran from W to E; the houses were of a fine red, and the faces of the people as they walked westward were almost like a blacksmith's when he is at work by night.' Great changes have taken place since Dorothy Wordsworth wrote, especially since 1823; and now, to quote Irving's History of Lanarkshire (1864), 'though many of the houses in the burgh must occupy the sites of buildings erected at a very early date, the progress of improvement and alteration has left little or nothing to interest the archæological inquirer into the domestic architecture of our ancestors. A local antiquary, following up a house-to-house visitation, may discover some faint traces of earlier work, but he will fail to find any building which, in its main features and as a whole, can date prior to the commencement of last century. Many of the houses were till recently covered with thatch, and some instances of this style of roofing still exist.' Lanark chiefly consists of one main line of street, bearing the names of High Street and Westport, with several smaller streets or lanes diverging on either side. It contains some good public buildings and many handsome well-appointed shops; and possesses so many amenities in itself and such full command of its beautiful environs, as to be both a very agreeable place of stated residence and a crowded resort of summer tourists.

An artificial mound, the Castle Hill, at the foot of the Castle Gate, on the side of the town towards the Clyde, is believed to have been occupied by a Roman station, and was long surmounted by a royal castle, which is thought to have been founded by David I., and was an occasional residence of William the Lyon and other kings. It was mortgaged in 1295, in connection with negotiations for the marriage of the niece of King Philip of France with the son and heir of John Baliol; was held by an English garrison for a number of years till 1310; went afterwards to ruin; and has utterly disappeared, its site being now a bowling green. Some places in the neighbourhood still bear such names as King-son's Knowe, King-son's Moss, and King-son's Stane - survivals, seemingly, of royal residence in the castle. An eminence, Gallow Hill, a little N of the town, was the place of capital punishment in feudal times, and commands a magnificent view along Strathclyde, from Tinto to Ben Lomond. The ancient parish church, St Kentigern's, 3 furlongs SE of the town, was granted by David I., as early as 1150-53, to the monks of Dryburgh, who held the rectorial tithes thenceforward on to the Reformation; but from the style of its architecture - First Pointed or Early English - the present ruin appears to date from the succeeding century. It consisted of two six-bayed aisles, each with a chancel, but without a nave; and of these the portions that remain are the lofty, pointed arches dividing the two aisles, the wall of the S one, and a fragment of the chancels. In the S wall is a doorway, exhibiting `the round moulding with a fillet on the face, while the capitals, which are all that remain of two nook shafts, are richly sculptured ' (Bloxam's Gothic Architecture). It continued to be used for some time after the Reformation, but seems to have fallen into a ruinous condition by 1657, and in 1777 was finally superseded by the present church, whither its bell was transferred, which, according to an inscription on it, has `three times, Phenix-like, past thro' fiery furnace' - in 1110, 1659, and 1740. Irvine of Bonshaw, who in 1681 seized Donald Cargill at Covington Mill, lies buried in the S aisle; and in the churchyard is the grave of `William Henri, who suffered at the Cross of Lanark, 2 March 1682, age 38, for his adherence to the Word of God and Scotland's covenanted work of Reformation.' Within the burgh stood the chapel of St Nicholas, which existed at the beginning of the 13th century, but to assist in building which five merks were left so late as 1550. Its very site is forgotten, but it is known to have possessed four altars or chantries; and, passing to the magistrates at the Reformation, it served as a chapel of ease from 1590 till 1777. In the present yard of the Clydesdale Hotel stood an Observantine or Franciscan friary, which is said to have been founded by Robert Bruce in 1314 (the year of Bannockburn), and where a chapter of the whole Scottish Franciscan order was held in 1496. To Robert I. is also ascribed the foundation of St Leonard's Hospital, ½ mile E of the town; but from a charter this seems to have existed at least a century earlier.

The present parish church, in the middle of the town, without is a large ungainly structure of 1777, but within was greatly improved in 1870 at a cost of nearly £1200. It contains 1800 sittings; and in a niche above its principal door is a colossal statue (1817) of Sir William Wallace by the young self-taught sculptor, Robert Forrest. St Leonards Church was built as a chapel of ease in 1867 at a cost of £2500, and in 1873 was raised to quoad sacra status. Other places of worship are a Free church, Hope Street and Bloomgate U.P. churches, an Evangelical Union chapel, Episcopalian Christ Church (1858), and St Mary's Roman Catholic church. Of these Bloomgate U.P. church, rebuilt in 1875, is a First Pointed edifice, with a tower and spire 90 feet high; whilst St Mary's, built in 1859 at a cost of £15, 000, is Second Pointed in style and cruciform in plan, consisting of nave, aisles, chancel, sacristy, and tower. The interior is adorned with many stained-glass windows, with twelve fine statues, and with a fresco by Doyle of the `Last Judgment.' There is a new and tastefully laid out cemetery, in the centre of which an obelisk, 30 feet high, was erected in 1881 to the memory of the Lanark Martyrs of 1660-88. A school has existed at Lanark from 1183 and earlier; and three mortifications, for the education of 51 boys attending its grammarschool, amounted to £212, 11s. 4d. in 1881. In that year the following were the six schools under the burgh school-board, with accommodation, average attendance, and grant:- Burgh (366, 163, £132, 14s.), Grammar (145, 126, £126, 17s.), West (86, 70. £56, 8s.), Mrs Wilson's Free (75, 56, £45, 5s.), St Mary's Roman Catholic (370, 191, £174, 18s. 6d.), and Smyllum Roman Catholic (429, 307, £310, 4s. 6d.). The Smyllum Park Orphanage, for 400 destitute orphan children of Catholics in Scotland, is conducted by sisters of charity. A separate deaf-mute institution and a new chapel were added in 1883. The sisters have also charge of a Roman Catholic hospital (1872), with 30 beds. Another hospital, the Lanark Infirmary, with 32 beds, is a Scottish Baronial one-story structure of 1873, designed by the late David Bryce, R.S.A.

The County Buildings for the upper ward of Lanarkshire, which figure prominently in the town, and were erected in 1834-36 at a cost of over £5000, are a chaste and graceful structure in the Grecian style. They comprise the county offices in front, and a prison in the rear, with 29 cells. The former prison was described in 1834 as being `in such condition that none need stay in it but of their own good will.' Behind the Clydesdale Hotel are the Assembly Rooms (1827); and other buildings are a town hall, a co-operative hall, a Good Templars' hall, and large militia barracks, the last ¾ mile to the SE. Lanark besides has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, insurance, and telegraph departments, branches of the Clydesdale, Commercial, Royal, and British Linen Co.'s Banks, 28 insurance agencies, 10 hotels, gas-works (1832), a water supply from a pretty lake (2 x 1 ½ furl.) near the racecourse, a reading-room, and a Liberal Saturday paper, the Lanarkshire Examiner (1863). Monday and Tuesday are market days, and the following is a list of the fairs:- Seeds and hiring, last Tuesday of February; grit ewes and hoggs, Wednesday before first Monday in April; plants, second Wednesday of April; cattle, last Wednesday of May o. s.; rough sheep, Monday before last Tuesday in June; cattle show, first Tuesday of July; St James's horse and lamb fair, last Wednesday of July o. s., and two preceding days; black-faced crosses and Cheviot lambs, second Tuesday after the lamb fair; horses, cattle, and hiring, Thursday after Falkirk October Tryst; cattle, first Wednesday in November o. s.; general business, last Tuesday of December. A silver bell was run for annually as long ago at least as 1628; and the racecourse, 1 mile in circuit and 1 ½ ESE of the town, is one of the finest in Scotland, being almost a dead level. A large business is done in connection with the fairs and markets, and a considerable trade in the supply of miscellaneous goods to the surrounding country; whilst much support is derived from the influx of strangers to visit the Falls of Clyde. Comparatively little has been done to share in the multifarious and extensive manufactures of lower Clydesdale, but the weaving of winceys, shirtings, and druggets is the staple industry; and there are also 3 artificial manure works, a tannery, 2 breweries, a large fancy woodwork establishment, and, ¾ mile from the town, the extensive factory of the British Oil and Candle Co.

A royal burgh since the reign of David I. (1124-53), Lanark is governed by a provost, 3 bailies, a judge of guild court, a treasurer, and 9 councillors. Sheriff courts are held every Monday and Thursday during session, debts recovery courts every Monday, and sheriff small debt courts every Monday during session. With Falkirk, Airdrie, Hamilton, and Linlithgow, Lanark returns one member to parliament. The municipal and the parliamentary constituency numbered 690 and 572 in 1883, when the annual value of real property within the burgh amounted to £13,399 (£11,69l in 1875), whilst the corporation revenue was £2119 m 1882, against £1296 in 1874. Pop. of royal burgh (1881) 5874; of parliamentary and police burgh (1831) 4266, (1851) 5008, (1871) 5099, (1881) 4910, of whom 2680 were females. Houses in parliamentary burgh (1881) 958 inhabited, 62 vacant, 9 building.

Lanark has been identified with Ptolemy's Colania, a town of the Damnonii in the 2d century a.d., which Skene, however, places ` near the sources of the Clyde,' and describes as ` a frontier but apparently unimportant post.' Nor does Buchanan's statement, that Kenneth II. in 978 here held an assembly of the estates of the realm, appear to rest on any sufficient basis. And Chalmers is certainly wrong in asserting that ` we hear nothing of any royal castle or place of royal residence in this city,' for as early as the 12th century royal charters are known to have been dated from the Castle of Lanark. This castle it is that figures in the metrical narratives by Wyntoun and Blind Harry of Sir William Wallace's first collision with the English, in May 1297. ` He had just taken to wife a virtuous damsel named Bradfute. She resides in the town of Lanark, where there is an English garrison; and as he is a marked man, from having already resented the insults of the invaders, it is not safe for him to reside there, and he must be content with stealthy visits to his bride. One day, having just heard mass, he encounters some straggling soldiers, who treat him with ribaldry and practical jokes. A very animated scene of taunt and retort, what is vulgarly called chaffing, is given by the minstrel; but it must be held as in the style of the fifteenth rather than of the thirteenth century. Wallace bears all with good temper, until a foul jest is flung at his wife. Then he draws his great sword, and cuts off the offender's hand. He is joined by a few of his countrymen, and there is a scuffle; but the English are many times their number, and they must seek safety. His own door is opened for Wallace by his wife, and he escapes through it into the open country. For this service his poor wife is slain, and then he vows eternal vengeance. Gathering a few daring hearts round him, he falls upon the garrison in the night, burns their quarters, and kills several of them, among the rest William de Hazelrig, whom Edward had made Earl of Clydesdale and Sheriff of Ayr.' Thus Dr Hill Burton, who adds that ` the story is not, on the whole, improbable: we can easily believe in such a man being driven desperate by insults and injuries to himself and to those dear to him. But the latter portion of the story is confirmed in a curious manner. About sixty years later, a Northumbrian knight, Sir Thomas de Grey, had been taken prisoner in the Scots wars, and was committed to the- Castle of Edinburgh. There, like Raleigh, he bethought him of writing something like a history of the world; but it fortunately gave a disproportionate prominence to events in or near his own day, especially those in which he or his father participated. He tells how, in the month of May 1297, his father was in garrison at Lanark, and that Wallace fell upon the quarters at night, killed Hazelrig, and set fire to the place. The father had good reason to remember and tell about the affair, for he was wounded in it, and left on the street for dead. Had it not been that he lay between two blazing buildings, he would have died, wounded as he was, of exposure in that chill May night, but he was recognised by his comrade, William de Lundy, and tended by him till he recovered. Further, it was charged against Wallace, when indicted in London, that he had slain Hazelrig and cut his body in pieces. ' Tradition says that the house in which Wallace resided stood at the head of the Castlegate, opposite the church; and that a vaulted passage led from it to the Cartland Crags; but the latter part of the statement is clearly false. The English continued to hold the castle and the town till 1310, when Edward II. occupied Lanark from the 11th till the 13th of October. The castle was then surrendered to Robert the Bruce, who seems to have either rebuilt or enlarged it. On the common muir of Lanark - now the racecourse - encamped the armies of James II. (1452), of James, ninth Earl of Douglas (1454), and of Charles II. (1651), Lanark the year before having been occupied by 4000 English horse. In Nov. 1666, 3000 West Country Covenanters, after here renewing the Covenant, set out to meet defeat at Rullion Green; and on 12 Jan. 1682, a well-armed body of 40 horse and 20 foot affixed to the Cross of Lanark a confirmation of the `Sanquhar Testimony, ' and burned both the Test and the Act of Succession, for which the Privy Council fined the magistrates in 6000 merks. Among eminent natives and residents - the former distinguished by an asterisk -of town or parish have been *William Lithgow (1583. 1645), who trudged more than 36,000 miles over Europe, the Levant, and Northern Africa, and was buried in the old churchyard; *Sir William Lockhart of Lee (1620-75), `one of the -Commonwealth's best generals, and by far its best diplomatist; 'Robert Baillie of Jerviswood (executed 1684); Sir John Lockhart-Ross (1v1721-90), the gallant admiral; *Robert Macqueen, Lord Braxfield (1722-99), the able lawyer and judge, who received his education at the grammar school, as also did Major-Gen. William Roy (1726-90), of Ordnance fanve; *Gavin Hamilton (d. 1797), historical painter; David Dale (1739-1806); his son-in-law, Robert Owen (1771-1858); and his sons, Robert Dale Owen (1801-77), and *David Dale Owen (1807-60). (See Lanark, New.) The Duke of Hamilton bears the title of Earl of Arran and Lanark (cre. 1643) in the peerage of Scotland.

The parish of Lanark, containing also the villages of New Lanark and Cartland, comprehends the ancient parishes of Lanark and St Leonards. It is bounded NW and N by Carluke, E by Carstairs and Pettinain, SE by Carmichael, and SW and W by Lesmahagow. Its utmost length, from N by W to S by E, is 6 miles; its utmost breadth, from E to W, is 5 3/8 miles; and its area is 10,560 acres, of which 175 are water. The river Clyde winds 11 ¾ miles south - westward and north - north -westward along all the Pettinain, Carmichael, and Lesmahagow boundaries; and here it forms its three celebrated falls, and otherwise is rich in scenery of surpassing beauty and romance. Mouse Water, entering from Carstairs, and running 4 1/8 miles west-south-westward to the Clyde at a point 330 yards below Lanark Bridge, divides the parish into two not so unequal parts, and in the lower part of its course traverses the tremendous ravine of Cartland Crags. Along the Clyde the surface declines in the N W to less than 200 feet above sea-level, thence rising to 869 feet near Cleekhimin, 969 near Collielaw, 656 near Nemphlar, 805 near Smyllum Park, and 711 near Robiesland. The parish generally may be regarded as a Plateau, bisected by the deep irregular vale of Mouse Water, the parts to the N of which are flat and moorish, whilst those towards the Clyde are gentle slopes and deep declivities. Old Red sandstone, intersected in places by trap dykes, prevails through most of the area; and carboniferous limestone, accompanied by a small seam of coal, occurs in the NW corner, and has been largely worked. The soil, along the rivers, is light and gravelly; in the W and E, is mostly a stiff clay; on the moors, is a hard till; and in some localities, even in the same field, is a rapid alternation of different varieties. About 1220 acres are under wood, 29½ are in orchards, 7053 are in tillage, and the rest is mainly either pastoral or waste. Antiquities, other than those noticed in our account of the town, are remains of a great Roman camp near Cleghorn House, the picturesque remnant of the lofty tower of Castlehill on the right bank of Mouse Water, remains of the curious old stronghold of Castledykes or Castle Quaw on the brink of Cartland Crags, the site of the church of St Leonards, and the sites of two chapels at Cleghorn and East Nemphlar. Mansions, noticed separately, are Bonnington House, Cleghorn House, the Lee, and Sunnyside; and 8 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 26 of between £100 and £500, 36 of from £50 to £100, and 112 of from £20 to £50. The seat of a presbytery in the synod of Glasgow and Ayr, this parish is divided ecclesiastically into Lanark proper and St Leonards quoad sacra parish, the former a living worth £428. Two landward public schools, Nemphlar and New Lanark, with respective accommodation for 50 and 242 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 30 and 59, and grants of £28, 8s. and £56, 12s. 6d. Valuation (1865) £20, 269, (1883) £21, 087, 8s. Pop. (1801) 4692, (1821) 7085, (1841) 7666, (1861) 7891, (1871) 7841, (1881) 7580, of whom 4327 were in Lanark proper and 3252 in St Leonards.Ord. Sur., sh. 23, 1865.

The presbytery of Lanark comprises the quoad civilia parishes of Carluke, Carmichael, Carnwath, Carstairs, Crawford, Crawfordjohn, Douglas, Lanark, Lesmahagow, Pettinain, and Wiston, the quoad sacra parishes of Forth, Leadhills, and Lanark-St Leonards, and the chapelries of Haywood, Carstairs Junction, and Kirkfieldbank. Pop. (1871) 38,103, (1881) 40, 806, of whom 6567 were communicants of the Church of Scotland in 1878.The Free Church has a presbytery of Lanark, with churches of Abington, Carluke, Carnwath, Crossford, Douglas, Douglas Water, Forth, Lanark, Law, and Lesmahagow, which 10 churches together had 2739 members in 1883. - The United Presbyterian Church has a presbytery of Lanark, with 2 churches at Lanark, 2 at Biggar, and 8 at Bonkle, Braehead, Carluke, Carnwath, Crossford, Douglas, Lesmahagow, and Roberton, which 12 churches together had 3026 members in 1882.

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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