THE parish is well furnished with Mills, there being no fewer than seven. Some of them are constructed for lint, as well as for oats and barley; but none of them for wheat. At Kittochside-mill there is an excellent machine for drying pease: it is an improvement on the machine that was invented, some time ago, by Mr. John Watt at the Mill of Drips. To these mills almost all the land in the parish is astricted, and the dues are, for the most part, very high. The lands of Torrance, however, were, by the present proprietor, relieved from that burden; the tenants paying an equivalent for the freedom.
THE value of land, in this part of the country, has been rising this long time past: but property is not, in general, often changed. The estate of Kittochside consisting of three and a half plough-gangs of land, belonged, about two centuries ago [16th century], to Caldwell of Caldwell. The whole was sold for 800 merks to John Reid, a predecessor of the present proprietors. From a circumstance that happened lately after it was sold, it would appear, that the purchase was favourable on the part of the buyer. The Laird of Caldwell, soon after the bargain was concluded, proposed to retract what he had done. To this the purchaser, who was formerly his tenant, would not agree. To force compliance, or take revenge, in case of a refusal, Caldwell sent a considerable number of his vassals to Kittochside. Reid was secretly informed of the design. Fearing that he might be drawn into a compliance, he thought it best to make his escape, and leave his house to be defended by his twelve sons. The young men, though remarkable for courage, seeing a superior force coming against them, wisely resolved to remain quiet. Notwithstanding, they soon had the mortification to see their father’s house set on fire. One of them attempting to extinguish the flames was instantly killed by the incendiaries. Reid, knowing that he could not withstand so powerful an adversary, threw himself under the protection of Lindsay of Dunrode; who then lived at the Mains. Happy to have so numerous a family allied to his interest, he readily undertook to defend him from Caldwell; and embraced the first opportunity of representing the whole matter to the King. His Majesty was desirous to see Reid and his sons. Struck with the decent and manly appearance which they made, he declared, that is any injury was done them, he would cause Caldwell to be immediately executed. The Reids, ever after, were allowed to possess their lands without molestation.
THE state of TRADE and MANUFACTURES, in this parish, will appear from the following list of Mechanics, anno 1790.
|Bakers, 2||Maltmen and Brewers, 1|
|Blacksmiths, 12||Masons, 21|
|Clockmakers, 1||Shoemakers, 39|
|Coopers, 2||Surgeons, 1|
|Flax-dressers, 2||Tailors, 20|
|Gardeners, 4||Weavers, 63|
|Hosiers, 5||Wrights, 14|
ABOUT 34 looms are employed in the Muslin branch, and a few in Counterpane bed-covers. Nearly 2000 pair of shoes are annually made for export, by the medium of Glasgow. The shoemakers, a few years ago, constituted a charitable society, and have already accumulated a considerable sum for the relief of the distressed.
ALL the masons, except two, profess the wright trade, at which they sometimes work during winter. A Mason Lodge, known by the name of Kilbride Operatives, was instituted in 1738. Although peace and concord ought to have animated this friendly society, yet ill-featured Contention, with all her vociferous train, found her way among them. Confusion reared aloft her hideous countenance, which all the powers of their art could not lay. The Lodge was dissolved in 1759. Before the beginning of another year, however, a considerable number of the members, not willing that so laudable an institution should be annihilated, and desirous to regain the credit they had formerly lost, were constituted into a new Lodge. They now conduct their society with that peace and concord, in which no small part of the honour of Masonry consists. Their annual meeting is at Kilbride, on the 27th of December, old style: on which day they have a parade.
A Cotton-spinning manufacture commenced here in 1783, and employs from 60 to 100 hands. The machinery was, till the beginning of 1792, confined to the vicinity of Kilbride. But the business increasing, a mill, to go by water, was built a little above the town. This mill, with the other buildings occupied by the company, are the property of Gen. Stuart, of the Torrance family, and were built by him, since his return from service, last war, with the view of encouraging industry in his native parish.
THE quarrying and burning of limestone has, for time immemorial, given employment to the industrious labourer in Kilbride. The quarries, of which there is a considerable number, employ, at present, about 50 workmen. The Winter is mostly spent in tirring, a term used for removing the earth from off the limestone post: and the Summer in raising and burning the stone. The wages are from one penny, to three-pence per load of burnt stone, in proportion to the difficulties attending the work. The proprietors are at the expence of the tools, coals, &c. that are necessary; but they furnish only half of the powder used in blowing the stone. The produce of the quarries, in 1790, was no less than 9845 chalders, which, at 6s. 8d. each, amounted to 3281l. 13s. 4d. sterl. Pot-kilns are, in general, preferred to draw-kilns.
THE Iron-stone Mines, lately opened in the banks of Calder, employ about 40 men; the greatest part of whom are under the direction of a few undertakers, who are paid, per ton of the stone, in proportion to the difficulties attending the working it. About 14 coal-hewers are employed in the coal-works, in the lands of Torrance, and Lickprivick.
KILBRIDE has, for a long time past, been famous for one of the best frequented sheep markets in Scotland. It is held annually on the last Friday of May; and two first Fridays of June, old style. The Common, on which it is kept, was once very extensive: but, excepting a few acres, is now inclosed. There is, however, abundance of room for all the cattle that are brought to it. Forty, or fifty thousand sheep were, about the beginning of the present [18th] century, annually sold at this market: but the number is now reduced to about 3000. This reduction is owing chiefly to the great number of cattle, now bred in the Highlands. It is thought that Argyleshire is, by nature, better calculated for breeding sheep than the south country, about Muirkirk, Dumfries, &c. the latter, during several weeks in Winter, being frequently close, that is, entirely covered with snow: but the former is generally open, especially in the Glens, and sides of the Lochs, even in the greatest storms.
THREE Fairs are yearly held in the village of Kilbride: one on the fourth Tuesday of June: another on the second Tuesday of August: and the third on the second Tuesday of November. A few cows are the chief article sold at them. The town is furnished with no fewer than 13 public houses.
THE inhabitants, in general, are pretty healthy; although none of them have arrived at any uncommon degree of longevity. The disease that chiefly prevails among young people is the consumption. It is asserted that, till about a century ago, this malady was exceedingly rare, and seldom mortal. The distemper that proves most deadly to children is the small-pox. In summer, 1787, no fewer than 32 children, in the town and neighbourhood, were seized with that loathsome disease: 13 with difficulty recovered. Inoculation, the best remedy for that distemper, meets here with a very bad reception. Rooted prejudices, founded upon arguments, some of which are trifling, others absurd, have such a strong influence on the minds of the people, that they sit still, in sullen contentment, and see their children cut off in multitudes. It is to be hoped, that natural affection, and a sense of duty, will, at length, get the better of unreasonable prejudices; and that the period is approaching, when inoculation for the small-pox will be universally practised.
THE method of conducting funerals stands in great need of amendment. It is tedious, expensive, and laborious. The whole neighbourhood, commonly, is warned to attend at a certain hour; yet little attention is paid to the time. A great company of men and women meet at the place appointed, and are entertained with ale, spirits, and short-bread: in some wealthy families wine is also used. The corpse is usually carried on spokes; which circumference, from the badness, &c. of the roads, makes the service exceedingly unpleasant. Although all agree, that a reformation, in this respect, is necessary, yet, on account of being thought singular, few are willing to set an example.
THE kirk-session takes the sole management of the funds for supporting the poor. The method in which these funds are managed, is agreeable to the true spirit of the church of Scotland. Poor-rates, which, in some places, are a fertile source of dissipation and poverty, were never established here. No encouragement is given to idleness; whilst none are allowed to starve. The average number of individuals, on the session list, is about 16. The monthly allowance to each, is from 1s. to 6s. A few are permitted to beg within the bounds of the parish. Besides the poor on the list, there are commonly about 20 indigent persons, most of whom are heads of families, who get occasional supply, as the session sees necessary. This, although small, added to what they can earn, by any labour they are capable of, enables them to live more comfortably in their own houses, than they could do in the best endowed hospitals. The funds for answering the above charitable purposes are very small: they amounted, from the 6th of May, 1786, to the 6th of the same month, 1787, to 46l. 17s. 4d. Of this 38l. 2s. 11¾ d. was collected at the church-door: the rest was made up of 2l. 8s. 10d. of proclamation money; with the interest of 1000 merks, that were mortified, by the Calderwood family, to the poor of the parish; and the interest of a small sum accumulated by the session. The annual amount of the contributions is seldom so much as it was in the above-mentioned period.
IN the parish are two charitable mortifications. One made by Mr. Aikman, on the lands of Burnhouse, for supporting four old men, in the town of Hamilton. The other by the Earl of Dundonald, of the lands of Milton, &c. for burses to students in the college of Glasgow.
THE public school is endowed with a salary of 200 merks per annum. The wages are a merk, per quarter, for English: 2s. for Writing and Arithmetic: and 2s. 6d. for Latin. The school-master is commonly appointed session-clerk, for which he has 2s. 6d. for every proclamation of marriage: 6d. for each baptism: and 4d. for writing a certificate. Besides the public school, there are commonly two or three private ones in the parish.
THE state of religion in this place, affords few things remarkable. The ministers, since the Reformation, were Mr. Durroch; Messrs. Sharp, father and son; Mr. Charters; Mr. Burnet; Mr. Creighton; Mr. Muir; Mr. Matthew Connell; Mr. David Connell his son; and Mr. French the present incumbent. The Rector of Kilbride was, during Popery, chantor to the Cathedral of Glasgow. Mr. Woddrow, in his history of the church of Scotland, observes, that, about the middle of the last century, the people were greatly divided in their religious opinions. This historian, when giving an account of the reverend Mr. Burnet, who was ejected from his charge in Kilbride, says, “Mr. Burnet was a minister of great solidity and learning; and through he had no freedom to fall in with the indulgence himself, yet he was very opposite to division upon that score, and both heard the indulged ministers, and pressed his people in Kilbride, among whom he lived, to do so. He had been singularly useful in that parish, where there were a great many Quakers and Separatists; and yet by his painful and excellent preaching, and other labours, he reclaimed the most part of them.” Since that time the people were united in their religious sentiments, and regularly attended public worship, in the parish church, until Mr. D. Connell’s death, in 1790. A presentation from the Crown was then procured for the reverend Mr. James French of Carmunnock. The disaffected party were very formidable: they left the church, and joined the Relief. A meeting-house was immediately built in the village of Kilbride; and the congregation made choice of the reverend Mr. Smith for their minister. Among the dissenters are 45 that adhere to the Reformed Presbytery: 42 Antiburghers: and nearly the same number of Burghers.
FOR a long time past, the college of Glasgow has been titular of the tithes, which amount, per annum, to 32 chalders of meal, paid in money, according to the Fiars of the Commissariot of Hamilton and Campsie. Of these the minister receives 12 for his stipend; and 50 merks for communion elements.
FROM the proprietors of a certain district in this parish, the minister of Eaglesham receives, annually, 16 bolls of Craig-Mulloch corn; so called from a hill in that district. The corn which this hill usually produces is uncommonly bad; hence Craig-Mullach corn is a proverbial expression for corn of the worst quality. The inhabitants of this part of Kilbride have a claim on the minister of Eaglesham, for a sermon to be preached among them every ten weeks, and a ministerial visit once a year. This claim, however, is either not made or not complied with: but care is taken that there shall be no risk of a proscription, with regard to the payment of the corn.
WITH respect to the Church of Kilbride, few things merit the attention of the public. It was rebuilt in 1774, but is not yet seated. That part of the old church which supported the belfry, is allowed to remain, and serves the purpose of a steeple. The bell was cast in the year 1590, by one of the most celebrated bell-founders in Europe, and bears the following inscription.
PETER • VANDEN • GHEIN • HEFT • MI •
GHEGOTEN ⊕ MCCCCCLXXXX.
THIS bell was rent by violent ringing, on a day of rejoicing, held by the people of Kilbride, when they heard the news that Lord Dundee, a cruel persecutor, fell in the battle of Killiecrankie, fought on the 17th of July 1689.