Minnigaff

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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Minnigaff (Gael. monadh-dubh, 'dark mountainous region'), a hamlet and a parish in the extreme W of Kirkcudbrightshire. The hamlet stands on a low piece of ground at the influx of Penkill Burn to the Cree, ¾ mile N of the post-town, Newton-Stewart. Before that town had come into existence this was a place of some importance, for Symson describes it in 1684 as having 'a very considerable market every Saturday, frequented by the moormen of Carrick, Monnygaffe, and other moor places, who buy there great quantities of meal and malt.' The parish, containing also Blackcraig village and the Creebridge suburb of Newton-Stewart, is bounded NW and N by Barr in Ayrshire, NE by Carsphairn and Kells, SE by Girthon and Kirkmabreck, and SW by Penninghame in Wigtownshire. Its utmost length, froin N to S, is 16 5/8 miles; its utmost breadth, from E to W, is 137/8 miles; and its area is 139¾ square miles or 89,451¼ acres, of which 1312 are water. Issuing from Loch Moan (6½ x 3 furl.; 675 feet), the Cree winds 30¼ miles south-westward and south-south-eastward along the Ayrshire and Wigtownshire border to within 2¼ miles of the head of Wigtown Bay. During this course it is joined by the Water of Minnoch, entering from Ayrshire, and running 10¼ miles southward; Penkill Burn, rising at an altitude of 1970 feet, and running 85/8 miles south-south-westward; and Palnure Burn, rising at an altitude of 612 feet, and running 11½ miles south-south-westward (for the last 13/8 mile along the Kirkmabreck boundary). The Water of Trool flows 1¾ mile west-south-westward from wooded Loch Trool (15/8 mile x 1¾ furl.; 250 feet) to the Water of Minnoch; and the Dee, issuing from lone Loch Dee (7 x 4 furl.; 750 feet), runs first ½ mile north-eastward through the interior, then 6¾ miles east-south-eastward along the boundary with Kells. Lakes, other than those already noticed, are Loch Grennoch (2 miles x 3 furl.; 680 feet) at the Girthon boundary, Loch Enoch (6½ x 4½ furl.; 1650 feet) at the Ayrshire boundary, the three Lochs of the Dungeon, Loch Neldricken, Loch Valley, etc.; and streams and lakes alike afford capital angling. The surface is everywhere hilly or mountainous, chief elevations from S to N being Cairnsmore of Fleet (2331 feet), Larg Hill (2216), Lamachan Hill (2349), Benyellary (2360), Merrick (2764), and Kirriereoch Hill (2562), of which Merrick is the loftiest summit S of the Grampians. The general landscape is described by Dr A. Geikie as 'one wild expanse of mountain and moorland, roughened with thousands of heaps of glacial detritus, and dotted with lakes enclosed among these rubbish mounds.' Indeed, with the exception of a warm nook of about 6 square miles in the extreme S, and of some narrow strips of carse-land along the principal streams in the W, the whole region is one vast sheep-walk, where 'heath and moss, rocks and stones without end, and jagged hills, with here and there bright verdant patches on their rugged sides, form the chief features of the scenery.' Large part of this wild district at one time formed part of the far-reaching Forest of Buchan-a name preserved in that of Buchan farm, the house of which stands on the N bank of Loch Trool, and which to the shepherds is known as the 'Four Nines,' From its erroneously estimated area of 9999 acres. The prevailing rocks are clay slate and greywacke, of Upper Silurian age, with intrusive masses and boulders of granite; and nowhere in the South of Scotland are the traces of glaciation to be witnessed on a grander scale than in the Merrick uplands. Veins of lead ore, from 2 to 5 feet thick, occur on the estates of Machermore and Kirroughtree; and at East Blackcraig, on the former property, lead and zinc still are mined, though in much less quantity than formerly. The soil of the low grounds along the Cree and Palnure Burn is mostly a tenacious clay, interspersed with patches of moss; on the other low grounds is dry and gravelly, abounding with stones; and elsewhere is very various. Little more than one-fifteenth of the entire area is in tillage; some 600 acres are under wood; and the rest of the land is pastoral or waste. The chief antiquities are Garlies Castle, three mote hills, several sepulchral tumuli, a standing stone, and some cairns. In 1306 Robert Bruce, with 300 followers, is said to have routed 1500 English under the Earl of Pembroke near the head of Loch Trool, at whose foot a small party of Covenanters were surprised and slain by a troop of dragoons on a winter Sabbath morning of 1685. Alexander Murray, D.D. (1775-1813), the selftaught Orientalist, was the son of a Minnigaff shepherd; Lieut.-Gen. the Hon. Sir William Stewart, who served in seventeen campaigns under Nelson and Wellington, and died in 1827, resided for several years at Cumloden, and is buried in the churchyard, along with John Mackie, Esq. of Bargaly, and James, his son. both Liberal M.P.'s for the county; and Lieut.-Col. Patrick Stewart, C.B. (1832-65), was born at Cairnsmore. Mansions, all noticed separately, are Bargaly, Cairnsmore, Cumloden, Kirroughtree, and Machermore; and the Earl of Galloway owns more than half of the parish, 4 other proprietors holding each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 2 of between £l00 and £500, 3 of from £50 to £100, and 9 of from £20 to £50. Giving off a portion to Bargrennan quoad sacra parish, Minnigaff is in the presbytery of Wigtown and the synod of Galloway; the living is worth £351. The parish church, on a lovely spot overlooking Minnigaff hamlet, the town of Newton-Stewart, and the confluence of the Cree and the Water of Minnoch, is a good Gothic edifice of 1836, with tower, organ, three fine memorial stained-glass windows, and 850 sittings. Creebridge and Stronord public schools, with respective accommodation for 116 and 100 children, had (1883) an average attendance of 76 and 65, and grants of £72, 18s. and £69, 15s. 6d. Valuation (1860) £12,097, (1884) £18,174, 5s. 7d. Pop. (1801) 1609, (1831) l855, (1861) 1804, (1871) 1529, (1881) 1587, of whom 425 were in Creebridge, and 1384 in the ecclesiastical parish.—Ord. Sur., shs. 4, 8, 1857-63.

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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