GALLOWAY (New), a royal burgh, and the capital of the district of Glenkens, is delightfully situated on the right bank of the Ken, in the parish of Kells, Kirkcudbrightshire. Its site is at the intersection of the roads going northward from Kirkcudbright to Ayrshire, and westward from Dumfries to Newton-Stewart. It is 19 miles north by west of Kirkcudbright; 17½ north-east of Newton-Stewart; 25 west of Dumfries; and 38 south-east of Ayr. It rises at the foot of an irregular ridge of ground, in the vicinity of Kenmure castle, surrounded by as charming scenery as fancy can conceive to exist in a wild country. But, though a place of municipal dignity and relative importance, it is of very inconsiderable size; and, strictly viewed, is nothing more than a mere village, or even a hamlet. Its entire bulk consists of a cross-street running 70 yards from east to west, a main-street running 150 yards from north to south, and a scanty sprinkling of detached houses, partly in a line with these streets, and partly on their wings. At the centre or cross of the burgh, is a building which serves as a court-house and jail, surmounted by a spire. Half-a-mile north, but not within the royalty, the parish-church of Kells, built in 1822, lifts a neat stone front and tower into view. Across the river, half-a-mile east, a stone bridge, erected in the same year as the church, spans out in elegant arches. The houses of the town are, in general, low, ill-built, thatched with straw, and uncomfortable in the interior. A sashed window, 50 or 60 years ago, was a curiosity which the burghers had to travel beyond their own limits to see. A few slated houses, however, 2½ or 2 stories high, are interspersed with the humbler edifices, and relieve the dullness and poverty of their appearance. The main-street is decently paved, and kept tolerably clean. Little gardens stretch out behind the houses, and are divided by hedges, dotted occasionally with trees. Most of the inhabitants possess also a small croft on which a cow or two are fed, and a few bolls of potatoes and corn are raised; and a small patch of meadow on the bank of the Ken, which affords winter fodder for their cattle. A sort of suburb of the burgh, in the form of detached cottages, and called the Mains of Kenmure, lies scattered to the east between the town and the bridge. Tiny and rustic as New Galloway is, its houses and gardens and feathery tree-tops and curlings of blue smoke, as seen either from the vale of the river, or from elevations above, present a decidedly pleasing picture to the eye.
New Galloway, say the commissioners on municipal corporations, “is very inconsiderable in its extent and population, and has no funds or property of any description. It was erected into a royal burgh by a charter from King Charles I., dated 15th January, 1629. By the charter it was declared that the inhabitants should have power to elect a council, consisting of one provost, four bailies, one dean-of-guild, one treasurer, and twelve ordinary councillors, But by the sett, as reported to, and sanctioned by, the convention of royal burghs, on 15th July, 1708, the council was then declared to consist of one provost, two bailies, one treasurer, and fifteen councillors. From the records of council, for twenty years prior to 1831, it appears that only eighteen members of council have been chosen, including the provost and two bailies. The whole parliamentary constituency, as enrolled in 1832, consisted of 14 electors; and, consequently, it is impossible to supply from them a council of the present number. The whole revenue of the burgh, derived from customs and small dues, consists of £3 8s. 2d., and the average expenditure appears to be £1 13s. 1d. There are only two houses in the village which pay the inhabited house-duty. The chief office-bearers of the burgh are non-resident. The provost lives in London, and the town-clerk resides at Kirkcudbright.” When Charles I., in the course of a conciliatory visit to Scotland, lavished upon his principal Scottish subjects such honours and bounties as he could bestow, he attached Sir John Gordon of Lochinvar to him, by giving him a peerage with the title of Viscount of Kenmure, and by creating the royal burgh on his estate. But no houses had then been built, and no population settled down, on the site of New Galloway. The spot, exulting in burgh-privileges, and specially favoured by its lords, seems to have soon attracted a few inhabitants. But as the burgh has, for upwards of a century, experienced little or no increase, and is so situated as to afford hardly any promise of ever bounding beyond its hamlet-limits, it probably was almost or altogether as populous a short time after it was founded as it is at the present day. The place has no trade or manufactures. The inhabitants are mechanics, agricultural labourers, a few alehouse-keepers, and two or three shop-keepers. A justice-of-peace court is held here on the first Monday of every month. There are annual fairs on the first Wednesday of April, and the first Wednesday of August, both Old Style. New Galloway is reported to be the only royal burgh in Scotland which, in 1819, petitioned parliament against burgh reform; and it is alleged to have adopted its singular and solitary course, from the circumstance of its provost and bailies being the domestics or employees of its noble proprietor. The burgh unites with Wigton, Stranraer, and Whithorn in returning a member to parliament. Parliamentary constituency, in 1839, 17. Population, in 1821, 450; in 1831, 1,128. Houses 190.