Parish of Ettrick

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: Ettrick
1834-45: Ettrick

Ettrick, a parish of Selkirkshire, whose tree-girt church and manse nestle, 800 feet above sea-level, in a sunny corner of the high green hills, ¼ mile from the left bank of Ettrick Water, but with their own little Kirk Burn-4¾ miles SSE of ` Tibby Shiels, ' 3¾ SW of Tushielaw Inn, and 18½SW of the post-town, Selkirk. It is bounded N by Yarrow, NE by Kirkhope, SE by the Selkirkshire and Roxburghshire portions of Roberton, S by Eskdalemuir in Dumfriesshire, W by Moffat in Dumfriesshire, and NW by Lyne in Peeblesshire. From NE to SW its utmost length is 12¾ miles; its breadth, from NW to SE, varies between 7½ furlongs and 10 miles, being greatest at the middle; and its area is 42,682¾ acres, of which 296 are water. The Loch of the Lowes (6¾ x 1¾ furl.) lies nearly all within the NW corner of Ettrick parish, to which also belongs the western half of the upper mile of St Mary's Loch; whilst on the eastern and south-eastern border are Clearburn Loch (2¼ x 1 furl.), Crooked Loch (2 x 1 furl.), and Kingside Loch (21/3 x 12/3 furl.). From its source upon Capel Fell, at the SW extremity of the parish, Ettrick Water winds 14¼ miles north-eastward through the interior, and then 9 furlongs along the Kirkhope border, descending during this course from 1900 to 745 feet above sea-level, and being joined by Tima Water, Rankle Burn, Tushielaw Burn, and thirty-four lesser tributaries. From NE to SW, the chief elevations to the left or NW of the Ettrick are the Kip (1293 feet), *Turner Cleuch Law (1809), Tushie Law (1431), Coom Law (1619), Thirlestane Hill (1475), Ward Law (1951) and Craig Hill (1597) behind the church, Penniestone Knowe (1807), *Muckle Knees (1929), *Herman Law (2014), *Andrewhinney (2220), Black Knowe Head (1938), *Bodesbeck Law (2173), and *Capel Fell (2223); to the right or SE of the stream rise Cacra Hill (1546), Gamescleuch Hill (1490), Law Kneis (1634), *Quickningair Hill (1601), Hope Head (1697), Cauld Face (1756), Black Knowe (1804), and Ettrick Pen (2269)-where asterisks mark those summits that culminate on the confines of the parish. The rocks are Silurian, greywacke chiefly and clay slate. The soil of the haughs is fine alluvium, of the skirts of the hills is either sandy or gravelly or else a cold stiff clay, and on their shoulders and summits is mostly a deep moss. Barely 400 acres are arable, barely 300 are under wood, though a start was made in 1865 to break up the hill - sides at Ramsaycleuch for tillage, and though Lord Napier's plantations round Thirlestane Castle have thriven exceedingly. Nor of permancnt pasture are there more than 120 acres, although from the point where the Ettrick's defole broadens into valley, a mile above the church, meadows begin to appear, where cattle graze-Ayrshires and shorthorns, with a few of the Highland breed. The rest of the parish is all one mighty sheep-walk, wave upon wave of long, green, rounded hills, whose rich grass feeds enormous flocks of Cheviots. Fitting that Ettrick should be for ever associated with the ` Ettrick Shepherd, ' James Hogg (1770-1835). The cottage in which he was born, by Ettrick Hall, 3 furlongs ESE of the church, fell down about 1830; but his grave in the churchyard remains for a shrine of pilgrimage. (See Altrive and St Mary's Loch.) There, too, are buried William John, eighth Lord Napier (1786-1834), who died in China, and the Rev. Thomas Boston (1676-1732), minister of Ettrick from 1707, and author of The Fourfold State. Many are the memories of this well-cherished divine, who tells us of his last communion how ` there were nearly 800 communicants, great numbers of them from a considerable distance. The hospitality of the farmers, and all those who had it in their power to accommodate and support them, during the preaching days, was beyond all praise. At one farm place they accommodated nine score, at another they had half a boll of meal baken, besides a quantity of loaf bread; they killed three lambs, and made up thirty beds.' But, indeed, to enumerate all of interest that attaches to Ettrick were to write a volume which still remains to be written, and to trench on our articles Buccleuch, Tushielaw, Gamescleuch, Chapelhope, Kirkhope, and Thirlestane Castle. Mansions other than the last are Cacra Bank and Rodono; and besides the 2 chief proprietors, the Duke of Buccleuch and Lord Napier, there are 2 holding each an annual value of more, and 6 of less, than £100. Ettrick is in the presbytery of Selkirk and synod of Merse and Teviotdale; the living is worth £342. The church, built in 1824, is a neat edifice, with a square tower and 310 sittings; and a public school, 3 furlongs to the E, with accommodation for 62 children, had (1880) an average attendance of 25, and a grant of £31, 14s. 6d. Valuation (1865) £9852, 19s. 7d., (1880) £12, 356, 12s. 6d. Pop. (1801) 445, (1831) 530, (1861) 434, (1871) 434, (1881) 397.-Ord. Sr., sh. 16, 1864.

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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