Of the Parish of Rutherglen, Its Extent, Agriculture, Antiquities, Trade, &c., Part I., pp.107-117.

[History of Rutherglen Contents]

THE parish of Rutherglen, of which the Borough is the capital, extends, on the south bank of the river Clyde, about 3 miles in length, and 1⅓ in breadth. Clyde is the boundary in the north: the parish of Govan on the west: Cathcart on the south-west: Carmunnock on the south: and Cambuslang on the east. The whole is arable, and is mostly inclosed, chiefly with thorn hedges. It lies in a pleasant situation, forming the lower part of the declivity of Cathkin hills; and is beautifully diversified with a regular succession of small hills, and narrow dales; excepting next the river, where it forms itself into some very delightful and fertile plains. It belongs to about 140 heritors: but the greatest part of these have their property within the borough. The valued rent is 2100l. Scots: the real rent, at the average price of 2l. ster. per acre, allowing 200 acres for roads, rivulets, &c. comes to 4720l. ster. exclusive of the rent of houses in the town, which, at 3l. ster. per family, amounts to 1200l. 

THE plains next the river comprehend the estates of Shawfield, Farme, Hamilton Farm, and Rosebank

SHAWFIELD extends about a mile in length, from the town of Rutherglen to Polmadie; having Clyde for its boundary on the north.  Sir Claud Hamilton was, 1615, Laird of Shawfield. It was, about 1657, adjudged to John Ellies, and other creditors of the family: and afterwards, in 1695, conveyed, by said John Ellies, to Sir Alexander Anstruther of Newark; who sold it, in 1707, to Daniel Campbell, Collector of his Majesty’s customs at Port-Glasgow; whose descendant, Walter Campbell of Shawfield, Esq; sold it, 1788, to Robert Houston of Aitkenhead, Esq; now Robert Houston Rae, Esq; of Little Govan [Gorbals area]. None of the above proprietors took the title of Shawfield but the Hamiltons and Campbells; with the latter of whom it still remains. 

THE greatest part of the estate consists of a rich plain, which formerly was exposed to frequent inundations from the river. The present proprietor, no sooner got the estate into his possession, than, excited by a laudable ambition of improving his purchase, he caused a bank to be raised along the side of the river, by which his land is not now in any danger of being laid under water. This bank is about 1600 yards in length: the height is 20 feet above the level of Clyde, at low water; being 3 feet 6 inches higher than the height of the great flood in the year 1712; and 18 inches above the height of the flood, 12th March, 1782, the greatest ever known in Clyde. This bank contains 62535 solid yards of earth, the raising of which cost 600 guineas. 

NEXT to the town, on the east, and along the side of the river, is the estate of Farme. It is said to have been once the private property of some of the Stuarts, Kings of Scotland. It afterwards belonged to the family of Crawford, who, naming it from themselves, called it Crawford’s Farme. It came afterwards into the possession of Sir Walter Stuart of Minto, who dwelt in the castle, about the year 1645. He is reported to have been a gentleman of extraordinary prudence and humanity; and, during the commotions of the times, to have obtained for Rutherglen many favours. The Flemings had it for some time in their possession. It is now called Farme, and has, for some time past, been the property of James Farie, Esq; of Farme, who made a purchase of it from the Duke of Hamilton. On the estate, and nearly in the middle of the beautiful plain of which it makes a part, is an ancient castle, the family-seat of Mr. Farie. The period in which it was built is unknown; but the thick walls, the few, narrow, and irregularly placed windows, the strong battlements, &c. &c. are evidences of its antiquity, and that it was erected as a place of strength. Being kept in excellent repair, it is wholly habitable, and may continue for ages to come, a beautiful pattern of the manner, after which, the habitations of the powerful barons of Scotland, were anciently constructed. Mr. Farie, to prevent his lands from being injured by inundations, has lately raised a bank about 600 yards in length. 

FARTHER up the Clyde is Hamilton Farm, the property of Will. Somervile of Hamilton Farm, Esq; It is also secured from the river by a bank about 1500 yards in length. This, with the two already mentioned, includes more artificial imbankment, for the sake of improving land, than is, perhaps, to be found any where else, on both sides of Clyde. 

ADJOINING to Hamilton Farm is Rosebank, the property of john Dunlop, Esq; of Rosebank. This place occupies one of the most pleasant situations in the country, and richly merits the additional improvements which are begun to be made on it. 

IN the higher part of the parish are some considerable estates, as Galloflat, which belongs to Mr. Patrick Robertson of Galloflat, writer in Glasgow. Scotstoun, the property of John Gray, Esq; of Scotsoun. Stonelaw, the property of Major John Spens of Stonelaw. Bankhead, which belongs to George White, Esq; of Bankhead. On the most of these estates are elegant and commodious dwelling houses. 

THE only part of the town’s lands, now belonging to the community, is the Green, a plain of about 36 acres, lying between the town and Clyde. In the old records it is sometimes called the Inch;1 because at first it was only a small island. The soil is rich and deep; owing to the accumulation of mud and decayed vegetables carried down by the river. The Magistrates and Council, anno 1652, to defray the expences incurred by Cromwell’s troops, rouped the green to be ploughed, for the sum of 20l. Scots, per acre. the inhabitants believing that the ploughing of the green was contrary to their interest, as individuals, made such a formidable opposition that the Magistrates were forced to retract what they had done. It was not broken up till about 30 years ago, when it was let at nearly 4l. ster. per acre. The crops which it then produced were very great. Like most other commons, however, it is now suffered to lie a disgraceful waste, producing fertile crops of thistles and other hurtful weeds. But as every burgess has a right to have his cow pastured upon it, for the annual grass-mail of a guinea; and as there is a considerable number of cattle kept by the inhabitants, for the purpose chiefly of making sour cream, there is no probability that its condition will soon be rendered much better. It brings, at present, to the revenues of the town the sum of 50l. yearly. 

THE state of agriculture in the parish affords few things that merit particular attention. The old method of dividing farms into croft and out-field land is now laid aside: but some of the borough land is run-rig, a custom highly detrimental to improvement. Inclosing, draining, and liming is now become universal. An easy access to lime and dung, of the best qualities, may be had at all seasons of the year. The excellent roads, with which the parish abounds, encourages the farmer to proceed in his improvements. the easy and ready access to Glasgow market, at present one of the best in Scotland, is greatly in his favour. But his chief encouragement arises both from the soil and climate. The former is generally of a good loam, and in some places a light mould, free from stones: the latter is as warm and dry as any in the west of Scotland. The feed time is usually about the end of March; and the harvest in the end of September. Oats, barley, pease, beans, wheat, potatoes, and grasses yield frequently very great returns. Oats, however, is of all the other grains the most commonly sown; because the crop is the most certain and prolific. Potatoes are cultivated by almost every family in the parish: the round white kind is commonly preferred. The Curl, a disease extremely hurtful to this useful root, is hardly known here. A rotation of crops is generally observed; and the laying the land under grasses, proper for pasture, is in universal practice. The method which is now followed at Rosebank, may be mentioned as an example. Two years, oats: the third barley and grasses, after dung: then two years grass, cut for hay: and two, pastured. Then oats, &c. as before. The want of a leguminous crop is, perhaps, a defect in this plan. The turnip is not yet brought into cultivation. 

NO person in the parish is, at present, carrying on improvements in agriculture, with greater spirit and success, than Major John Spens of Stonelaw. Finding, on his leaving the service, that his estate was not in the very best condition, his first care was to lay it out in proper inclosures, the largest of which does not exceed 16 acres. He incloses chiefly with ditch and hedge. In planting the thorns he is at great pains; especially in those places that are unfavourable for their growth. He opens a small cast or drill, which he takes care to have well drained; and then fills it up with a compost of lime, dung and earth. In this the quicks are planted in a perpendicular direction, the one that nature, the surest guide in these matters, hath pointed out as the best. Care is taken that they shall not be cut, at least on the top, for some years after they are planted; a treatment, although contrary to the common practice, is however, highly beneficial to quickset fences. The attention of the Major was next directed to remedy the faults of the surface of the ground. This he does by draining, levelling, trenching, and straightening the ridges. These operations, with the covering some pieces of bad soil with good earth, are executed at a considerable expence. Besides liming and dunging in the ordinary way, he finds it his profit to purchase all the oyster shells he can procure in Glasgow. These he spreads in the gin-tracts, at his coal-works; where, being broken to pieces by the feet of the horses, and mixed with their dung, they are reduced to an excellent manure. He summer-fallows his land by five ploughings; and usually works the plough with three horses. he ploughs as deep as he can, to raise as much new earth as possible. Not having as yet completed his improvements, he has not followed any fixed mode of rotation. he has at present 25 acres sown with wheat, and 20 with wheat and grass-seeds: all of them are after summer-fallow, except about 5 acres after potatoes. Immediately before the wheat, (which is all of the white kind) is sown, it is steeped for the space of 12 hours in water saturated with common salt. This is designed to prevent the Smut, a disease, however, that is little known in this part of the country. Some fields which he had laid down with grasses have yielded profitable returns. The Calf-ward, for example, a small field containing five acres Scottish, was, after summer-fallow 1788, sown with wheat and grasses. The wheat crop was very good; and next year, each acre produced no less than 400 stone of hay, of the best quality. 

THE Major, both for the ornament and shelter of his lands, has planted several thousand trees of different kinds. The ground, before being planted, is usually cropped a year, at least, with potatoes: and frequently, after the trees are planted, a crop or two are taken from between the rows. This method, when care is taken not to disturb the plants, is thought to be of great service; and is getting into practice in several parts of the country. 

ABOUT 20 acres may contain all the growing wood in the parish. The trees are mostly disposed in form of clumps and belts. There is also a considerable number in hedge rows. At Hamilton-Farm and Rosebank are some pretty old and thick trees, the most uncommon, though not the largest of which, are a few white willows, at Rosebank: they are about 50 or 60 feet tall; and 3 in diameter. 

THE ploughs, at present in use in the parish, are the Scottish, chain, and Rutherglen ploughs. The last mentioned is peculiar to this part of the country. It was first made in Rutherglen, about 50 years ago; and consequently, according to Lord Kames, must have been among the first improved ploughs in Scotland. The plan after which it is constructed was proposed by Lady Stewart of Coltness, who at that time lived in the Farme, and was uncommonly active in promoting improvements in agriculture. From this place it found its way into the neighbouring parishes, where it still continues to be known by the name of the Rutherglen plough. It is usually about 11 feet in length, and 19 inches in depth, from the beam to the sole. The sheath is not mortised in the head; and is placed at a more oblique angle than in the Scottish plough. The sock is of an oval form, and is fixed both on the sheath and head. A screw bolt of iron goes through the beam and sheath down through the head. The mould-board is covered with iron: and the whole is not much heavier than the chain-plough. It answers well in a light soil free from stones. The Scottish plough, however, is, of all the rest, the highest in repute for a stiff soil. 

COUNTRY servants, owing to the rapid progress of manufactures, are very scarce, and their wages uncommonly high. A man-servant receives, besides bed, board and washing, 5l. per half year: and a woman-servant from 40-50 shillings. A labourer, when hired by the year, receives 15l. 12s. A single day’s wage, if he is not hired by the year, is, at an average, one shilling, and three-pence. Artificers, as masons and wrights, generally get two shillings a-day. But the practice of undertaking by the piece, almost universally prevails. 

THE progress of agriculture in this place, and the rise of the value of land, may be estimated from the east-field, the property of John Grey, Esq; of Scotstoun. About the year 1780, it was let for about 10l. per annum, and was purchased for 500l. It now pays about 100l. sterling yearly. 

THE only Mill in the parish is the Town-mill, to which are astricted, or sucken, all the borough lands, at the thirlage, or multure, of the 40th part of the grana crescentia, seed and horse corn excepted. The miller is entitled to half a peck, for bannock-meal, out of every 6 firlots, grinded at the mill; and the multurer, or miller’s servant, has additional, what is equal to the half of the bannock-meal, for his fee.

1  The word Inch signifies an island.

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