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Glenluce

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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Glenluce, a village, a ruined abbey, and a valley of Wigtownshire.The village, in Old Luce parish, stands on the Lady Burn, at the NW base of pine-clad Barlockart Fell (411 feet), and 9 furlongs N by E of the influx of Luce Water to Luce Bay; its station on the Portpatrick branch of the Caledonian is 8¾ miles E by S of Stranraer, and 14¾ WSW of Newton-Stewart. Sheltered by gentle hills and by the wooded policies of Balkail, it is a pleasant little place, for the most part modern, though one of its houses bears date 1736, and though we hear of it so long ago as 1654, when the ' Devil of Glenluce ' took up his quarters in a weaver's cottage, and, like a Land-leaguer, would not be put out -not even by the prayers of all the presbytery (Chambers' -Domestic Annals). There now are a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, a branch of the National Bank, 4 insurance agencies, 2 good inns, a handsome new public school, and a ncat bowling-green; and fairs are held on the first Friday of the last nine months of the year. The parish church (1814; 800 sittings), a Free church (1847; 330 sittings), and a U.P. church, all in Main Street, are all plain buildings. The former Kirk of Glenluce is memorable as the scene (12 Aug 1669) of the bridal of Janet Dalrymple, the prototype of ' Lucy Ashton ' (See Carsecreugh and Baldoon) A fiue Celtic cross from Glenluce churchyard, with a fragment of another from Cassendeoch, was placed in 1880 in the Edinburgh Antiquarial Museum, which has further been enriched by a splendid collection of over 4000 stone and bronze implements, collected and presented by the Rev. George Wilson, Free Church minister here. These, which are described in a paper read to the Society of Antiquaries on 13 June 1881, are some of them very rare, eg, a small bronze bell, a bronze knife-dagger, etc. Pop. of village (1871) 899, (1881) 901.

Glenluce Abbey, on the left bank of Luce Water, 1½ mile NW of the village, was founded in 1190 by Roland, Lord of Galloway and Constable of Scotland, for Cistercian monks from Melrose. It covered more than an acre of ground, and attached to it were a garden and orchard, 9 Scots acres in area, which now form the glebe of Old Luce parish In 1214 one William was abbot, known only as the author of an extant letter to the Abbot of Melrose, wherein he describes a strange appearance in the heavens, beheld by two of his monks. In 1235 the abbey was plundered by the rude soldiery of Alexander II, despatched against the Gallowegian rebels; and to the 13th century belongs the reported sojourn here of Michael Scott, the warlock, who, to keep his familiars employed, set them to spin ropes out of the sea-sand-ropes that are still from time to time laid bare by wind and tide at Ringdoo Point. In 1507, when James IV. with Margaret his queen, was returning from a pilgrimage to Whithorn, he lay a night at Glenluce, and made its gardener the present of four shillings; - in 1514 died Cuthbert Baillie, the abbot, who for the two last years had been lord-treasurer of Scotland. Thomas Hay, ancestor of the Hays of Park, was by papal bull of 1560 appointed commendator or collector of the abbey's revenues, which, amounting to £666, were in 1575 leased to Gilbert, fourth Earl of Cassillis, him of Crossraguel infamy. The Earl, we are told, had dealt with a monk to forge the late abbot's signature, then had hired a carle called Carnochan to stick the monk, next had wrought on his uncle, Bargany, to hang the carle, and ' sa had conqueist the landis of Glenluce. ' Park Place is said to have been partly built in 1590 with stones from the abbey, which yet so late as 1646 is mentioned in the presbytery records of Stranraer as having sustained little injury, and of which Symson in his Description of Galloway (1684) wrote that ' the steeple and part of the walls of the church, together with the chapter-hoise, the walls of the cloyster, the gate-house, and the walls of the large precincts, are still standing ' Of the church itself, Early English in style, little now remains save the S transept gable, with eastern side-chapels; but the cloister walls are fairly entire to the height of some 16 feet, and the Decorated chapter-house is singularly perfect, its arched roof still upborne by a central octagonal pillar, 18 feet in height. The lands of Glenluce, vested in the Crown in 1587, were in 1602 erected into a temporal barony in favour of Laurence Gordon, second son of the Bishop of Galloway; and at his death in 1610 passed to his brother John, the Dean of Salisbury. Transferred by him in the same year t0 his son-in-law, Sir Robert Gordon of Gordonstoun, they were bought back in 1613 by the Crown, and annexed to the see of Galloway. In 1641, on the temporary abrogation of Episcopacy, they were transferred to the University of Glasgow, and, having from 1681 to 1689 been restored to the re-erected bishopric of Galloway, they were finally once more made a temporal barony, in favour of Sir James Dalrymple, who in the following year was raised to the peerage as Viscount Stair and Lord Glenluce and Stranraer (P. H. M'Kerlie's Lands and their Owners in Gatloway). The valley of Glenluce, commencing at New Luce village, extends 6¼ miles south-by-eastward to the head of Luce Bay; is traversed from head to foot by Luce Water, formed at New Luce village by the confluence of Main and Cross Waters; and is mostly included in the parishes of New Luce and Old Luce. It is called, in ancient Latin documents, Vallis Lucis (' the valley of light '), a name as to whose origin opinions differ. Glenluce was all one parish till 1647, when it was separated into Old and New Luce.—Ord. Sur., sh 3, 4, 1856-57.

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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