THE house of Torrance, which is about 5 miles south from Castelmilk, was originally a square tower of considerable height; but has, of late, by several improvements and additions, been made both commodious and elegant. The situation is high, and commands an extensive and beautifully diversified prospect to the north-west. The adjoining banks contain a great variety of natural beauties. Two years ago they were laid out in serpentine walks, hermitages, &c. which bring into view beautiful cascades, purling streams, rugged rocks, and distant landscapes. Such rural and romantic scenes, succeeding each other in a manner so agreeably striking, are but rarely met with in this part of the country. What adds considerably to their beauty is a wooden bridge, of an uncommonly neat construction, thrown over the Calder, and by which these variegated circumambulations are connected. It is 21 feet in height, and 44 over. A plan of the improvements on these banks, with a view of Torrance is given in pl. IV.
BUT the late improvements about Torrance are not confined to the banks of Calder only. The present proprietor, whose attention is laudably directed to the useful, equally as to the ornamental, has planted many thousand trees on the estate, most of which are thriving well. These, with that were planted, about 60 years ago, by Col. Stuart, are highly conducive both to the beauty and utility of the country.
THE old kirk of Torrance, which stood about half a mile from the mansion-house, was left to fall into ruins after the parish was, in 1589, united to Kilbride. It hath long ago been totally demolished. In the adjoining burying-ground human bones are occasionally dug up.
ABOUT a mile and a half south from Kilbride are the ruins of the ancient castle of Lickprivick. Most of the buildings, already mentioned, must, perhaps, yield to this in point of antiquity. I am sorry it is not in my power to give such a particular description of it as it deserves. The castle and the adjoining lands were, for time immemorial, possessed by the Lickprivicks of that ilk. the family made a considerable figure long before the reign of King Robert Bruce; and continued to flourish a long time after. One of the descendents was printer to James VI. of Scotland.
TO this ancient family was granted, for singular services, the heritable title of Sergeantcy and Coronership, in the Lordship of Kilbride; along with considerable emoluments inseparable from the title. The original charter, by which the grant was made to the family, was dated in the year 1397. It was afterwards renewed by James I. of Scotland; James IV. and James VI. The title, with the profits, belongs, at present, to Torrance: the greatest part of the estate is the property of John Boyes, Esq;
AT what period the name Lickprivick took its rise, and on what account, is not, perhaps, easy to determine: it appears to have been very ancient and respectable in the parish. But ancient families, like other things, are worn out by length of time: the last person of the name I could hear of in this part of the country, died a few years ago in Strathaven.
THE mansion-house, or castle of Lickprivick, had once been no contemptible building. It was constructed, like the houses of the great during the feudal system, with towers, battlements, &c. The whole was, about 60 years ago, reduced to ruins, and nothing now remains but some scattered rubbish. Not far from the building is an artificial mound of earth, which continues pretty entire: it is about 14 feet in height; it is square at the top; each side measures 12 yards.
THE Piel, which stands on the south bank of Kittoch, at the north-west boundary of the parish, is justly entitled to a place among the ancient buildings in Kilbride. The old castle, few vestiges of which now remain, stood about a quarter of a mile to the west of the present building; but when, and by whom it was built, is not known. The most considerable part of the present edifice was built near two centuries ago. Since that time it has received some additions which contribute greatly to the beauty of the place. Having experienced a great number of masters, it is now in the possession of Andrew Houston, Esq; of Jordon-hill. The house, though not at present inhabited, is in tolerable repair; and might, at a small expence, be rendered commodious. The Compass, containing the 32 points, is painted on the ceiling of the uppermost apartment: the index, which is fixed to an iron rod that goes through the roof, is directed by the wind in whatever point it blows.
A considerable number of neat and commodious dwelling-houses have lately been built in the parish; as Limekilns, Rogertoun, Dykehead, Kittochside, Braehead, Long-Calderwood, Caplerig, Plat-thorn, Nook, Burnhouse, Crosshill, Browster-land, Browncastle, and Whitemoss.
IN mentioning the places of note in the parish, Mount Cameron, should by no means be omitted. It is a small eminence about three quarters of a mile south-east from Kilbride; and on which is built a neat and commodious dwelling-house. This place, formerly called Blacklaw, takes its present name from MRS. JEAN CAMERON, a Lady of a distinguished family, character and beauty.* Her zealous attachment to the house of Stuart, and the active part she took to support its interest, in the year 1745, made her well known through Britain. Her enemies, indeed, took unjust freedoms with her good name; but what can the unfortunate expect from a fickle and misjudging world? The revengeful and malicious, especially if good fortune is on their side, seldom fail to put the worst construction on the purest and most disinterested motives. Mrs. Cameron, after the public scenes of her life were over, took up her residence in the solitary and bleak retirement of Blacklaw. But this vicissitude, so unfriendly to aspiring minds, did not throw her into despair. Retaining to the last the striking remains of a graceful beauty, she spent a considerable part of her time in the management of domestic affairs. She shewed, by her conversation on a great variety of subjects, that she had a discernment greatly superior to the common. But politics was her favourite topic; and her knowledge of that subject was not confined to those of her own country. The particular cast of her mind, especially during the latter part of her life, was rather melancholy. A vivacity, however, that was natural to her constitution, often enlivened her features and conversation. Her whole deportment was consistent with that good-breeding, unaffected politeness, and friendly generosity, which characterize the people of rank in the Highlands of Scotland. She was not remarkable for a more than ordinary attachment to any system of religious opinions, or mode of worship; which is not always the case with the unfortunate. She attended divine service in the parish church; in which she joined with becoming devotion. Her brother, and his family, of all her friends, paid her the greatest attention. She died in the year 1773, and was buried at Mount Cameron, among a clump of trees adjoining to the house. Her grave is distinguished by nothing but a turf of grass, which is now almost equal with the ground.
THAT the names of places in the parish are partly Gælic, and partly English, will appear by a table of proper names subjoined to this chapter.
SEVERAL proper names have originated from crosses that were anciently erected in the parish: as Crosshill, Whitecross, Wardlawcross, &c. Near the cross was commonly a heap of stones, which was used as a resting-place for funerals occasionally passing that way. One of these ominous resting-places still remains on the top of Wardlaw-cross. Some time ago, however, a great part of the stones was carried away, especially the larger ones upon which the biers and coffins were usually laid. Mr. Stuart of Torrance, the proprietor, was no sooner informed of this fraudulent dilapidation, than he ordered the stones to be carried back.
THE Market-hill, which is situated about half a mile from Kilbride, on the old road to Glasgow, received its name from a market which, when the plague raged in Glasgow, was held on it, two days in the week. The people in this part of the country, afraid of catching the infection, would not come nearer the city, with their marketable goods, than this hill: to which temporary market the inhabitants of Glasgow resorted; and this circumstance gave rise to the name which hath continued ever since.