THE Royal Borough of RUTHERGLEN is situated in the lower ward of the county of Lanark, and within the bounds of the presbytery of Glasgow, and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. It stands on the south bank of the river Clyde, in North Lat. 55° 51’ and West Long. 4° 13’. It is two miles and a half to the south-east of Glasgow, and about nine miles to the west of Hamilton.
THE origin of Rutherglen, if we believe the traditional account of the name, must be placed at a very distant period.
THE origin and antiquity of nations and families are often discovered by their names. By these we are carried back to some remote period, which presents to our view certain persons and actions, the remembrance of which, many successive ages have not been able to obliterate. Proper names, not unfrequently, remain unaltered during the obscurity of barbarism, and amidst the devastations of war; they often survive the greatest changes that take place in the customs and manners of nations; and retain their original meaning, though sometimes obscured by the wildest fables, and most gloomy superstition.
THE name of Rutherglen, or by contraction Ruglen, is commonly said to be derived from king Reuther, or Reutherus, the sixth, in the genealogy of the Kings of Scotland, from Fergus the first. This King, according to the Scottish historians, was the son of Dornadilla, whose memory is still preserved in the name of Dun-Dornadilla, a venerable ruin, in Strathmore.
FROM Reuther, or Reuda, as Bede calls him, the Scots were, for a long time, called Dalreudini. He began to reign about the year 213, before the christian æra. Having experienced the various changes of a war, by which this army was greatly exhausted, he retired to the mountainous country of Argyle, where he remained in peace for several years. Finding, at length, that his forces, now greatly increased, were inflamed with the love of war, he left his retirements, and, by many successful attacks upon the Britons, regained the ancient boundaries of his kingdom.1
FROM the above account it appears that the Dalreudini, or Scots, possessed, both in the beginning and end of Reuda’s reign, a more extensive tract of land than the county of Argyle.
THE truth of this observation will still farther appear by considering the literal meaning of the expression Dalreudini. It properly signifies the inhabitants of the valley or plain of Reuda. No place, perhaps, in Scotland corresponds to the etymology of this name so well as Rutherglen: the termination glen in the one word is synonymous with dal in the other; the word dal signifying a plain or valley, as Crom-dal, the crooked plain,2 Dalray, the King’s vale, &c.
IS it not, therefore, highly probable that Rutherglen was the capital of the district inhabited, as some time or other, by the Scots or Dalreudini?
SOME modern historians, who seem to be much better acquainted with the antiquities of Scotland thanits ancient inhabitants were, have denied the existence either of king Dornadilla, or Reutherus. But it surely requires a much greater degree of implicit faith to believe their ideal system of negatives, than to believe the accounts which the earliest historians of our country have left on record concerning the Kings of Scotland.
IT is probable that some of these accounts may have originated from tradition: but tradition, when it refers to the great events of a nation, is, not unfrequently, a faithful historian; especially amongst a people like the Scots, whose sagacious Bards, were, for time immemorial, employed in celebrating these events, and perpetuating their memory. Some fables, and not a few errors, may have been interwoven with their narrations; but these fables, or what, to us now, may seem to deserve that appellation, were, in many instances, we have reason to believe, founded on fact. Shall the wildest fables and romances of Greek and Roman historians be, with almost a sacred care, faithfully transmitted to posterity, and be made to refer to events which actually took place, and shall the history of our own nation, for several complete centuries, be wholly rejected, as having no foundation on truth, because there may be some things mentioned in that history for which we cannot easily account?
BUT, exclusive of all conjectures, founded on tradition, or etymology of names, we are sure, from authentic records, that Rutherglen is a very ancient town. From the following charters it is evident that it was erected a Royal Borough in the reign of king David I.