Lanarkshire, pp.212-219.

[Gazetteer of Scotland Contents]

   LANARKSHIRE,1 a large, wealthy, and important county in the western division of the Lowlands, and the most populous in Scotland. It is bounded by the counties of Dumbarton and Stirling on the north; Dumfries-shire on the south; Ayr and Renfrewshire on the west; and Linlithgow, Edinburgh, and Peebles shires on the east. It is situated between 55° 18′ 40″, and 55° 56′ of North lat.; and between 3° 24′, and 4° 22′ 51″ West long. of Greenwich. The extreme length of the county from south-east to north-west, is about 54 miles; and the greatest breadth in the centre is 33 miles; but at the extremities it becomes narrowed to the extent of little more than 10 miles. It contains an area of 926 square miles, or 471,278 Scots statute acres, equal to 584,800 imperial acres. It is divided into three divisions or wards, called the Upper, Middle, and Lower wards; but formerly the county was much more extensive, and there were only two divisions, called the Over and Nether wards of Clydesdale. Hamilton of Wishaw, in his ‘Description of the Sheriffdom of Lanark,’ says, “The shyre of Lanark was anciently of greater extent than now it is ; for there was comprehended in it the whole sheriffdome of Ranfrew, lying laigher upon Clyde, called of old the Baronie of Ranfrew, (and is yett so designed when the Prince’s titles are enumerate,) untill it was disjoyned therefra by King Robert the Third, in anno 1402, at such time as he erected what had been his father’s patrimonie before his accession to the Crown, in ane principalitie in favour of his sone Prince James. And then, because of the largeness of its extent, it was divyded into two wairds, called the Upper and the Nether waird; and the burgh of Lanark declared to be the head-burgh of the upper waird, and Rutherglen of the Nether waird: and since the dissolving of the shire of Ranfrew from the sheriffdome of Lanark, the burgh of Lanark is the head-burgh of the sheriffdome of Lanark, and Rutherglen the head-burgh of the Nether waird thereof.” Such is the account of Hamilton of Wishaw, whose research and painstaking render him generally worthy of credit; but other accounts affirm that the disjunction of Renfrew from Lanarkshire did not take place till the reign of James II. It is unnecessary to quote the arguments and evidence of the various writers as to the period of this disjunction. It is enough for our purpose, that previous to the first quarter of the 15th century, Lanarkshire was much more extensive than it now is. The county continued to form only two wards until the middle of the last century, when, from the increase of the population, it was deemed judicious to form it into three wards; viz., the Upper ward, of which Lanark still continued to be the chief town; the Middle ward, of which Hamilton was appointed the chief town and seat of justice; and the Lower ward, of which Glasgow took the place of Rutherglen as the metropolis. Glasgow is, of course, the headquarters of the circuit-justiciary and other courts, and the residence of the sheriff-depute and two substitutes; but substitutes are also appointed over the Middle and Upper wards, and hold their courts at Hamilton and Lanark. Including the various quoad civilia parishes into which the city of Glasgow has, from time to time, been divided, there are, in all, 48 parishes in the shire; viz., – 

IN THE UPPER WARD.

Lanark, Coulter, 
Lesmahago, Lamington and Wandell, 
Carmichael, Libberton, 
Pittenain, Biggar, 
Covington, Walston, 
Symington, Dolphinton, 
Wiston and Roberton, Dunsyre, 
Douglas, Carnwath, 
Crawford, Carstairs, 
Crawfordjohn, Carluke. 
Small part of Moffat,  

IN THE MIDDLE WARD.

Hamilton, Cambusnethan, 
Blantyre, Shotts, 
East Kilbride, Dalzeil, 
Avondale. Bothwell, 
Glassford, East or New Monkland,
Stonehouse,West or Old Monkland. 
Dalserf,  

IN THE LOWER WARD.

Cambuslang, Rutherglen, 
Barony parish, Carmunnock, 
Calder, Govan, 
Cambuslang, Part of Cathcart. 

   Of the total area or superficies of the county, the three wards contain the following proportions:- 

 Miles. Scotch Statute Acres. 
Lower ward 78.75 40,078 
Middle ward 502.50 153,954 
Upper ward 544.75277,246
Total miles 926 471,278 

   By the government census of 1831, there were in Glasgow and the county of Lanark, 58,747 inhabited houses, 234 building, and 2,423 uninhabited. In the same year, the population of the various wards, and the total for the county, was as follows:- 

 Town and Village Population.  Rural Population.  Total. 
Lower ward 208,736 8,100 216,836 
Middle ward 37,189 27,554 64,743 
Upper ward 17,12118,09035,211
 263,046 53,744 316,790 

   By the census of 1841, there were in Glasgow and the county of Lanark, 81,376 inhabited houses; 804 building, and 3,840 uninhabited; and in the same year the population of the wards, and of the county, was as follows:- 

Lower ward 300,593 
Middle ward 96,772 
Upper ward 36,834
 434,199 

   This total comprises 82,730 distinct families, including 211,666 males, and 222,533 females. From the last census it appears that a very great increase of population has taken place in different parts of Lanarkshire since 1831. Glasgow, including the suburban parishes, has increased 39.37 per cent. In New Monkland parish, including the burgh of Airdrie, the increase, since 1831, has been 107.91 per cent.; and in the parish of Old Monkland, the increase has been 105.37 per cent.; and Bothwell parish has increased 100.75 per cent. There has been an increase of population in all the parishes of the Middle and Lower wards since the former census, though in some of these parishes the increase has been much smaller than in others. In Kilbride, the increase being 0.50 per cent.; in Carmunnock, 3.61, and so on. In the Upper ward, again, it appears that a decrease of population has taken place in some of the parishes since 1831, amounting, in Biggar, to 2.61 per cent., in Carmichael to 8.78 per cent., &c.; the total increase of population in the county being about 37 per cent. It also comes out that, of the whole population of the county of Lanark, the inhabitants of the royalty of Glasgow amount to 28.29 per cent.; those of barony parish to 25.15 per cent.; of Gorbals parish, to 11.54 per cent., &c. There is a very great difference in the proportion of males and females residing within the various parishes of Lanarkshire. In Blantyre there are 1367.52 females for every 1,000 males, and in Old Monkland there are only 796.80 females to every 1,000 males. This difference may be attributed chiefly to the nature of the public works carried on in these parishes, – a greater number of females being required for the cotton-works of Blantyre, and a greater number of males for the iron and coal works of Old Monkland. Of the whole population of Lanarkshire, including Glasgow, there are 1051.34 females to every 1,000 males, – being 31.07 females more than is the case in the proportion of females to the same number of males in the whole of England. In 1801, the population of Lanarkshire was 146,699; in 1811, 190,924; in 1821, 244,387; and in 1831, 316,790. From 1801 to 1811, the increase was 31 per cent.; from 1811 to 1821, the increase was 27 per cent.; and from 1821 to 1831, the increase was 30 per cent. 

   The parishes in Lanarkshire are formed into four presbyteries, with a few additions from other counties; viz., the presbyteries of Lanark, Hamilton, Biggar, and Glasgow, – and the majority of them are situated in the synod of Glasgow and Ayr, of which they constitute the major portion. 

   In a county of such vast extent, it is reasonable to believe that every variety of soil and aspect is developed. The Upper ward contains about three-fifths of the whole superficies, and while it is the most extensive, the land is, at the same time, the least valuable. It consists, to a great extent, of moorland pasture, with ‘hills on hills confusedly hurled;’ and though by far the larger portion of this division is uncultivated, and cannot be deemed capable of much agricultural improvement, there are sunny and fertile spots between, which are at once pleasing to the eye, and profitable to the agriculturist. Even in the wildest parts of the Upper ward, these verdant holms stretch to a considerable extent along both banks of the Clyde and its tributaries, and where they are adorned with new plantation, or dotted with old timber, the landscape is one of surpassing loveliness. Many of the hills are covered with verdure to the summit, and the quality of the sheep, which are reared upon them, speak intelligibly of the richness of the pastures, but withal, the general aspect of the district is sterile and uninviting; and the loftiness and stern grandeur which characterize even the bleakest of the Highland mountains, are unknown to the hills of Lanarkshire. Mr. Naismith, describing this part of the county in 1794, says, “The mountains are so huddled together, that their grandeur is lost to the eye of a beholder. When he traverses a hollow, only the sides of the nearest mountain are presented to his view, and when he climbs an eminence, he sees nothing but a confused group of rugged tops, with the naked rock frequently appearing among the herbage.” As the hills undulate towards the Middle ward of the county, their aspect is much softened, and the country presents every alternation of sylvan sweetness, with hill and dale, wood and wold, meadow and streamlet. The scenery of various localities, in the Upper ward, are well known from this cause to tourists, of which the Falls of Clyde, near the town of Lanark, is not the least interesting portion. There is no part of Scotland in which industry, perseverance, and the lights of science, as applicable to agriculture, have more successfully developed themselves than in the Upper ward, where native sterility has been overcome by the improved practice, and increased knowledge of the husbandman, and along the great mail line of road from Glasgow to Carlisle in particular, smiling arable farms have risen up, where, 30 years ago, there was nothing but stinted herbage, unproductive moss, or luxuriant furze or heather. Even the pasture-lands have been much improved of late by the new system, and particularly by the extent to which tile-draining has been carried in this, as well as in every other part of the county. This picture, however, only applies to a small portion of the Upper ward, and though the soil is daily changing for the better, still its general characteristics are those of churlishness. Wheat has been grown, but not extensively, for it has been found that this grain has never paid the farmer, except in the most propitious and sunniest seasons. Oats, however, are extensively cultivated, and for them the soil appears to be by nature adapted, as well as for barley, though not to the same extent. Potatoes are raised in large amount, and they thrive as well, and are of as fair quality, as those grown upon the lower and warmer districts of the county. Turnip husbandry has also been introduced here with considerable success, and on the whole, by changing for the better the old system of rotation, it has been the means of considerably increasing the products of the soil. In former years flax was grown to considerable extent, spun into yarn by the women of the district, and sold by them into the markets of Lanark, Carnwath, Biggar, and others; but the facilities for the introduction of flax from the Baltic, and more than this, the cheapness and improved quality of cotton-cloth, has almost extirpated this species of cultivation from the land, and those industrious dames who spent their days in ‘Twining out a thread wi’ little din,’ are now rarely met with either in cot-house, hamlet, or village. 

   The Middle ward is much less mountainous than the Upper, and at its commencement the loftiness of the hills falls away, and the declivity extends towards the north-west. The surface is everywhere broken into inequalities, and throughout there is little level space, except the valleys on each bank of the CLYDE: which see. The cultivated land of this ward is generally from 250 to 300 feet above the level of the sea, and even this elevation is considerably lower than the locality of the town of Hamilton. The soil is as various as the undulations it presents, but in general it may be said to consist of clay, intermixed with sand, and along the valley of the Clyde rich alluvial soils are met with upon a gravel bed. Within these last 20 years, the mosses in this district were computed to extend to more than 40,000 acres, or nearly one-third of the whole ward; but a considerable extent of these have now been brought under tillage, by the enterprise of the tenant and the encouragement of the landlord, and every year sees the unprofitable dominion of the morass lessened. If the soil is various, its productions are equally so. In some of the wet and cold districts which are met with in Shotts and elsewhere, wheat is generally as little cultivated as in the pastoral parishes of the Upper ward; but it is worthy of remark that there are none of the divisions of the Middle district which cannot boast of some portions of fertile soil within their bounds, particularly if they are watered by any of the tributaries of the Clyde. In ordinary cases, however, every kind of produce which enters into the farmer’s catalogue is here cultivated with success. The most fertile portion of the Middle ward is that extending on each bank of the Clyde, stretching from Lanark to below the town of Hamilton, and comprehending part of Cambusnethan, with the parishes of Dalserf, Hamilton, Blantyre, Dalziel, Bothwell, and Old Monkland. A great portion of this territory is owned by his Grace of Hamilton, and the Lord of Douglas, and all of it is in a high state of cultivation. The landscape here is peculiarly soft and inviting. For all the elements of rural sweetness, the drive between Lanark and Hamilton is not perhaps equalled by any other in the kingdom, if we except perhaps that along the banks of the Esk between Langholm and Langtown, on the Scotch and English border. The hills never rise certainly into towering magnificence, but they swell gently to a considerable elevation on either bank of the river, and are generally either covered with luxuriant pasture, or thriving copsewood to the very summit. The glades, too, generally present the bold front of some olden mansion of a Lord of the manor, with its beautiful policy, studded by timber of ancient growth; or mayhap the elegant modern dwelling of a proprietor, who has replaced by it the keep or tower which served as a dwelling-place to his fathers. Here, too, are the orchards which, in spring time and summer, are well and truly designated the pride of Clydesdale. It is said that orchard husbandry was introduced into this district by the Romans, but whether or not this may be the case, the banks of this noble stream have long been celebrated for the fruits they bear; and, though this species of cultivation is not now so profitable as it used to be, it is still followed to a great extent, and it will be matter of much regret if this part of the country should at any time be deprived of its choicest, chastest ornament, from the worldly considerations of pounds, shillings, and pence. [See article on CLYDESDALE.] In the end of April, or beginning of May, when the gorgeous flush of blossom decks the trees, and the perfume scents the gale, the traveller feels as if he were in reality in the land of the Faëry, where “apple-blossom is strewn upon the wind.” It is for its mineral wealth, however, that the Middle ward is so much and so deservedly celebrated; but this subject will be forthwith noticed. 

   The Lower ward comprehends a fertile district, but it is the least interesting of the three, so far as the external beauties of nature are concerned. It is, however, by far the most important, from possessing the city of Glasgow, and that immense hive of population, whose ingenuity and untiring industry has done so much to enrich the northern part of the kingdom, and render the phrase of “puir auld Scotland” an unmeaning and obsolete one. It might be expected from the leviathan maw which is here required to be filled, that for miles around Glasgow, the soil would either be laid out in pasture, or in gardens devoted to the rearing of kitchen-produce. Such is not the case, however, and it is to be regretted. Corn fields press upon the very suburbs, but Glasgow has to depend principally upon Ireland and the east coast of Scotland for the vegetables which are every day used by high and low. 

   The Clyde – which so far as the West of Scotland is concerned, may aptly be termed the “Father of Waters” – receives into its bosom all the rivers or streamlets of any note in this county. First is the Daer, which, had full justice been done to it, should have given that well known name which the Clyde now bears. Then there is the Duneaton, which rises at the base of Cairntable-hill, and, after a course of a few miles through Crawfordjohn parish, joins the Clyde. The Douglas flows through the lovely dale of that name, and empties itself into the Clyde a little above Bonnington-falls; the Culter divides the parish of that name, and passes through a smiling glen; the North Medwin waters the parish of Carnwath, and is joined by the South Medwin before mingling its united stream with the Clyde; the Mouse, rising in Carnwath, flows through Carstairs into the parish of Lanark, winds through the charming glen of Cartlane-craigs, and falls into the Clyde opposite Kirkfield-bank, about a mile from the town of Lanark; the Nethan rises in Lesmahago, and after flowing through a most beautiful district of country, studded with the seats of the landed aristocracy, joins the Clyde at Clydesgrove; the Avon rises on the borders of Ayrshire, divides the parish of Avondale or Strathavon; it then enters Stonehouse, and becomes the boundary between this parish and Glassford, and at another part between it and Dalserf; it then passes on to Hamilton, where the channel becomes bold and romantic in a high degree, the banks occasionally rising to the height of 300 feet above the bed of the dashing stream, and the summits crowned with gnarled oak of the growth of centuries; having forced its way through this rocky course, it then enters the fertile holms of Hamilton, and completes its course by mingling with the Clyde at Hamilton-bridge. The South Calder rises in the bleak moorland district of Linlithgowshire, near Tarrymuck, and after passing between Shotts and Cambusnethan on the one hand, and between Dalziel and Shotts on the other, and finally forming a part of the boundary of Bothwell, falls into the Clyde after a course of nearly 20 miles. The North Calder has its rise near Bertram-Shotts, and after watering Old Monkland, increases the Clyde at Daldowie; the Calder-water, or for distinction’s sake the Rotten Calder, rises on a moor in East Kilbride, and flowing through that parish by the name of the Park-burn, passes into Blantyre parish, at which it commingles with the Rotten-burn, and after skirting that parish, Kilbride, and Cambuslang, joins the Clyde at Turnwheel. Lastly, we have the classic Kelvin, which takes its rise in the parish of Kilsyth in Stirlingshire, and towards the close of its course divides Govan parish from the Barony parish of Glasgow, losing its waters in the Clyde opposite the pretty village of Govan. [See separate articles on these streams.] The county is little celebrated for its lakes or lochs. The Crane- loch is situated in a wild and bleak district in the parish of Dunsyre, at an elevation of 800 feet above the level of the adjacent streams; it is about a mile in circumference. The White-loch, also about a mile in circumference, is situated in Carnwath, but instead of being bleak and inhospitable in appearance, it is fringed on two sides by some fine timber. Lang-loch, situated between the town of Lanark and Hyndford-bridge, is a sheet of water of great length, though remarkably narrow. Bishop’s-loch covers between 80 and 90 acres in the parish of Old Monkland; Woodend-loch, 50 acres; and Lochend-loch, 40 acres. Lam-loch is a large sheet of water in the parish of Cadder; and here is also Loch-Grog, of smaller extent, and gradually becoming less, from the progress of draining. There are also Robroyston-loch, which is rapidly undergoing the same process; Johnston-loch, nearly a mile in circumference; and Gastinqueen-loch of less extent. There are the Hogganfield and Frankfield lochs in the Barony-parish, the water from which turns the wheels of the town mills. The last we shall notice is a lake or reservoir formed by art for a most important purpose, viz., for supplying the Monkland and the Forth and Clyde canals. It is situated in the parishes of New Monkland and Shotts, and its superficies extend to more than 300 acres. 

   The mountains in Lanarkshire which deserve the name, are all situated in the hilly range of the southern division or Upper ward. Those principally worth mention are the lofty Louthers, on the borders of Dumfries-shire, which have an average elevation of 2,450 feet above the level of the sea, and the highest peak towers to the height of 3,100 feet; Culter-fell is 2,330 feet; Tinto is 2,236 feet; Cairntable, on the borders of Ayrshire, is 1,630 feet; Dolpinton-hill is 1,550 feet; and Dunsyre-hill 1,230 feet. Perhaps the highest inhabited land in Scotland is situated in this county, viz., the mining village of Leadhills, which is 1,300 feet above the level of the sea. The town of Lanark has an elevation of 656 feet. The Middle and Lower wards possess no elevated features of this kind, but are in general so open in their view towards the frith of Clyde, that from any portion of the rising ground varying from 150 to 200 feet above the level of the sea, the spectator may descry on a clear day the serrated peaks of the Isle of Arran, at a distance of 50 miles. 

   Respectable as Lanarkshire has now been rendered in an agricultural point of view, by the enterprise of her proprietors and farmers, it is not from the productions of its surface-soil that the district has become by far the most populous and wealthy in Scotland, and its name has become known to the uttermost parts of the sea. It is to her ample possession of the mineral treasures of coal, iron, and lead, that this shire owes its supremacy over all other districts in North Britain, and the majority of those in England. A detailed geological description of the county would be too voluminous for these pages; but a vidimus of the various strata may not be uninteresting, though brief. In the Upper ward, the mountainous ranges are generally composed of grawacke, or trap-rock, and indeed these constitute the principal formation of the extensive range of hills, which, with greater or less of regularity, run from the confines of the county of Ayr to the Pentlands. In treating of this subject, Mr. Patrick gives the following comprehensive account in his valuable work:- “If,” says he, “we take the granite rocks of Galloway as the base, we have super-incumbent upon them; first, the grawacke of Leadhills and Wanlockhead; second, the red sandstone over which the Clyde is precipitated at Lanark; and, third, the coal formation of the Middle and Lower wards, consisting of bituminous shale, coal, grey limestone, grey sandstone, and clay ironstone, thus affording a beautiful illustration of the transition and carboniferous epochs.” The lofty territory of Leadhills is perhaps the most ancient mining district in Scotland. Lead has been successfully worked here for several centuries, and besides rich veins of this mineral, gold and silver have been found to exist in it, and have been worked, particularly in the reign of James V. of Scotland, who employed miners from Germany in this service. The precious metals were no doubt found, and coins struck from them, called the bonnet-piece; but it was soon discovered that even gold might be bought too dear, or, in other words, that the cost of the workmanship far exceeded the value of the precious metal which it produced. The search for gold and silver was therefore abandoned, and the occupation of the miners has been confined to the working of lead. Copper ore has been found in this mineral district in small quantity, and a vein of antimony is known to exist, but neither are sufficiently abundant to encourage the working on a large scale. Spars of every kind, some of them surpassingly beautiful, are found to accompany the principal mineral, lead, the veins of which generally run south-east and north-west, with an eastward dip of one foot in three. Lead is known to exist in some of the parishes adjacent to Crawford, in which Leadhills is situated, but it has not been worked, and possibly it may have been ascertained, that it could not be worked to compete with the ancient and long-opened mines of Leadhills in Lanark, and Wanlockhead in Dumfries-shire. Ironstone is known to exist in most of the parishes of the Upper ward, but it has only been worked in those of Carluke and Carnwath; and with the exception of an interval of a few years, works have been in operation in the latter for a period of sixty years. The black-band ironstone, which is the most valuable, is found abundantly in Cambusnethan, and the Shotts company have furnaces constantly in operation. In Bertram-Shotts, the mineral is also abundant and easily worked, and there are two extensive works in separate divisions of the parish, one of which was erected in 1787, and the other in 1802. Old Monkland is also rich in this mineral treasure, and from it the extensive works around are partly supplied, including those of Carron, Clyde, Gartsherrie, and Calder. Old Monkland, however, is the principal seat of this manufacture. It is, in every sense of the word, a land of iron; and the flames which belch from its numerous furnaces serve to illumine the country for miles around on the darkest nights. About twenty pits are in the course of being worked, producing in abundance the valuable black-band, which contains in general so much coal intermixed as to melt itself with little or no addition of fuel. Here there are 35 furnaces in blast, and about 20 more are intended to be erected in the course of the next few years. But exhaustless as the under ground supplies may seem, there cannot be a sufficient quantity raised to feed the many furnaces, and in consequence, a great proportion of the iron-stone used is brought from the other parishes above-named. The vast, extension of the engineering or machine-making trade of Glasgow and the west of Scotland, during the last twenty years, but more particularly the introduction of railroads at a still more recent period, have given an impetus to the iron manufacture which is scarcely credible; and it may be truly said, that thousands now derive from it their daily bread, and princely fortunes have been accumulated almost with the rapidity, and certainly with much more of credit and honesty, than characterized the aggrandizing efforts of the first Spaniards in Peru, or the early English adventurers to the East. As one instance of the value of ironstone upon an estate, it is matter of fact and publicity, that on the lands of Rochsilloch, in the parish of New Monkland, belonging to Sir William Alexander, the mines produce an annual revenue of £12,600; while the soil which covers so much treasure did not, when let for tillage, produce above £500 yearly. It is not easy to ascertain the aggregate amount of the mineral produce of Lanarkshire, by reason of its vastness; but as a proof of its rapid and great growth, it may be stated, that the Monkland district is known to turn out nearly 200,000 tons annually, while only a few years previous to 1800, it did not produce more than 4,000 tons. There are also extensive works at Govan, in the immediate vicinity of Glasgow, where four blast furnaces are in operation, and as many more in the course of erection. The flames from these works illumine the houses of many thousands of the population on the south-east side of Gorbals. It may also be mentioned, that to many of the iron establishments in the county, bar-iron manufactories are being joined, and this trade – which is new in this district, or at least new on a large scale – promises to become a source of increased industrial occupation, and of wealth. Great as the iron trade of Lanarkshire already is, it is apparent even to one who has looked very cursorily into the matter, that it is still only in its infancy, for it possesses within itself the elements of almost boundless extension. [For additional particulars see GLASGOW, under the head Iron trade.] 

   Valuable, however, though the iron of Clydesdale may be, it derives its great value from a still more important subterranean treasure, viz., the coal-field of the same district, which is by far the most extensive and valuable in Scotland. It forms the best part of that great field which crosses the northern part of the kingdom from east to west, and stretching in Lanarkshire to the extent of 30 miles. It has been reckoned that the coal-field of this county contains 110 square miles, and in the ordinary acceptation of the term, the supply may be said to be exhaustless. The geological positions of the various strata are so well described by Mr. Naismith in his agricultural survey of Clydesdale, that it has been deemed advisable to transfer his account to these pages. Mr. Naismith says:- “A number of these strata or seams lie above that which is generally called, around the city of Glasgow, the upper coal, because it is the first that is found worth digging to any extent. This stratum is composed entirely of what is called rough coal in Scotland, except a small part near the middle of it of a kind called splint. 2. About 16 or 17 fathoms under that lies the ell coal, so called because it was first found of this thickness, but it is frequently from 4 to 6 feet thick. It is composed of two kinds, called yolk and cherry coal, with sometimes a parting of splint, and sometimes not. This is a fine caking coal, or what is called in England a close-burning coal, and is much esteemed for the blacksmith’s forge. 3. At from 10 to 17 fathoms below the last, lies the seam called the main coal, from its possessing all the good qualities found in any of the other strata. It contains rough coal, splint, and parrot, or jet coal, and is preferred to all the others as the most profitable. Its thickness is from 3½ to 9 feet. Sometimes a thin bed of stone is found about the middle of the seam, and the thickness is 10 feet. 4. About 13 or 14 fathoms lower lies the humph coal. It consists of yolk and rough coal, with a thin parting of splint. In some places it is without the splint, and unworkable, being much interlaced with these laminæ of stone, and a kind of petrified black clay called blaise, black bituminous shale, and slate clay. 5. Below the humph coal lies the hard coal, sometimes at 14 fathoms distant. It consists solely of splint and parrot coal, and is found to be the best in the county for the smelting of iron. It is also very good for family use. 6. At a fathom and a-half lower is found the soft coal, from 30 inches to 6 feet thick. It is composed of the rough, yolk, and cherry coals, cakes much in burning, and is esteemed a good coal for the blacksmith’s forge. 7. About 13 or 14 fathoms below this lies a coal, called about Glasgow the sour-milk coal. As it burns slowly, and affords but a weak heat, it is what the miners call a lean coal, and has therefore been but little wrought. There are a number of these seams under the sour-milk coal, all of a lean quality, and generally much interlaced with laminæ of stone, blaise, or shiver. Under the last mentioned have been found several strata of excellent lime; and more of these thin seams of coal again have been discovered under the lime, but all of them which have yet been tried are of a lean quality. The lime found near the surface on the elevated ground, is supposed to be a continuation of some one or other of the last mentioned strata, found under the coal, which, in the course of their natural rise, have come within reach, in the places where the superincumbent strata of coal, and all its accompanying fossils, did not exist; as lime worth the working has never yet been discovered above these coal strata, nor in anyplace, till after the valuable seams of coal have skirted out at the surface; and any coal which has been found under the surface-lime is of the same lean quality with that which lies under the deep buried strata of lime. The above is the number and order of the coal strata everywhere along the Clyde, where they are entire. However, this is not always the case. All the mineral strata lie inclining towards the river on both sides, generally somewhat obliquely, and with various degrees and directions of declivity, rising, as they recede from it, till they skirt, or, as it is expressed by miners, crop out one after another; so that the first coal which is found in some places is perhaps the third or fourth in the above mentioned order. These are distinguished by the name of the Clyde strata, or seams of coal, and not only lie along the sides of that river, through all the plain country, but branch out less or more along the principal streams, on some of them to a great extent. Besides these there are other seams of coal in the county, of a somewhat different nature. In the parish of Shotts a fine yolk coal is wrought, resembling the coal found upon the sides of the Forth, and supposed to be a continuation of one of the same strata. Upon the sides of the Douglas river are extensive collieries, which supply some of the southern provinces where that fuel is wanting. The coal here is also similar to that on the Forth. On the south-west boundary of the county is coal of the same quality with that wrought on the coast of Ayrshire. It crops out at the surface about the middle of Avondale parish. There are still some other variations in the coal strata which merit attention. Near the northern boundary of the county a species is found distinguished by the name of the blind coal, from its burning with intense heat without flame. This must no doubt have been deprived of the fixed air by means of subterraneous fire. It is used for the same purposes as coke, and even preferred to coke artificially made, its effluvia being still less offensive. The blind coal is always found under a covering of horizontal whin; and where the same seam is traced till it comes under the freestone rock, its qualities are entirely changed, and it becomes in every respect the common pit-coal. Another species of coal, the qualities of which are directly opposite to those of the last, is found in different parts of the county. It is here called the cannel or light coal, and is said to be the parrot or jet coal of the third seam in the above enumeration, divested of the other kinds which accompany it when the seam is complete. But when this is found alone, it seems to be still more exquisitely inflammable; it takes flame the moment it is brought in contact with the fire, and a small fragment of it may be carried about in the hand like a flambeau, and will continue for a long time to give a vivid light.” 

   Limestone is found abundantly throughout the coal district, and some of it is of excellent quality. It is generally found below the lowest coal stratum, and rarely is it got near the surface. It is found in the following parishes, and worked to considerable extent in many of them, viz. Carluke, Carnwath, East Kilbride, Avondale, Glassford, Stonehaven, Lesmahago, Douglas, Hamilton, and Blantyre. Freestone of excellent quality is found throughout the county, and in all the coal districts. It is found in distinct strata of red and white, and sometimes of a mixed colour, and so beautifully blended as to resemble marble. The colour of the houses, however, will generally denote the description of stone which prevails in the vicinity; but it is generally found that on the east side of the Clyde the red sandstone predominates, while on the west and south the white stone is the standard. The parish of Carluke is particularly rich in fossil remains, as well as many others in the coal district. Some years ago nearly thirty fossil-trees were discovered standing in their natural position on the banks of the Kelvin, in the parish of Govan; but the most interesting organic remains are those of plants, animals, and shells, some of them of a kind and race now extinct. It would, however, be tedious to enter upon this subject in detail. It may only be stated, that no other county in Scotland presents a more extensive field for the research of the geologist. There are few of the parishes in the county, too, which cannot boast of a mineral spring, or springs, which are used to considerable extent, especially by the lower orders. 

   The wind in this county is computed to blow about two-thirds of the year from the south-west and west, over a vast ocean, where no land intervenes to prevent its coming to the coast saturated with the moisture of the vast Atlantic. The winds from the east are sharper, blow less frequently, and their force is somewhat broken by the high land on the east side of the country; so that the cold damps, so prevalent on the east coast, do not often arrive here, and consequently the cold is moderate. Intense frost is seldom of long continuance, and deep, long-lying snow is rare. Wind from the north-east is next in frequency to that from the south-west, which is generally attended by fair weather. Rains from the north-west, north, and north-east, are neither frequent nor heavy, but are little conducive to vegetation. One cause of the slow and imperfect progress, and consequent lateness of the Lanarkshire harvests, is, that when a course of dry weather does not happen in the early part of spring, the seed-time must either be deferred to a late period, or the seed committed to the crude soil in an improper state of reception. 

   The Lanarkshire breed of horses claims particular notice. The present breed was introduced into Scotland nearly two centuries ago, by one of the predecessors of the Duke of Hamilton. He brought into the country six coach-horses, all stallions, originally from Flanders, and sent them to Strathaven, the castle of which was then habitable. They were of a black colour, and extremely handsome. The farmers of the neighbourhood, readily embracing the opportunity, crossed this foreign breed with the common Scottish mare, and thereby procured a breed superior to either. From this a strong and hardy race of horses was soon spread through the country. Those of a smaller size are well-adapted for the plough, on account of their quick step and steady draught; and those of a larger size are employed in carts upon the high roads. The colts are sold at the fairs of Lanark, Carnwath, Rutherglen, and Glasgow, and are in request all over Scotland and England. The loads which some of these horses draw are immense. 

   The rise and progress of the manufactures of Lanarkshire belong so intimately to the history of Glasgow, that it is not necessary to treat of them at length here. Previous to the beginning of the last century, manufactures either did not exist in Scotland, or they were of the most contemptible kind, and this will readily be believed when the fact is stated, that, for 20 years after its establishment in 1695, the bank of Scotland could not employ £30,000 annually in the business of the whole kingdom. Branches of the bank were established in several of the Scottish towns, and Glasgow amongst the rest, but after a trial, the bank directors found themselves compelled to give up their provincial offices, and bring their books, notes, and specie to Edinburgh “by horse carriage.” Even so late as 1727, the counties of Perth and Forfar possessed more extensive manufactures than Lanarkshire. About 1750, however, the beneficial effects of the union had begun to be felt, and the industry and resources of the county to be fully developed. Two banks were then started in the city of Glasgow – the one by Dunlop, Houston, and company, and the other by Cochran, Murdoch, and company. The trade with Virginia sprung up and flourished, and the various new trades and manufactures which it called into existence and fostered, extended their benefits over the whole county. But its great rise may be dated from 1784, when the cotton trade was introduced, after Arkwright’s magnificent invention had become fully understood, and its practice was open to the whole country from the expiry of the patent. Lanarkshire was particularly qualified for embracing this new trade – first, from its possession of an exhaustless supply of coal, and next, from possessing the sea-ports on the Clyde, by means of which the merchants of Glasgow could hold communication with almost all the markets of the world. Wealth flowed into the county; old coal mines were worked on improved principles with renewed spirit, and new ones opened. The iron trade was called into existence; crowds of population thronged not only into Glasgow, but to those localities in the county where these mineral treasures most abounded; the superficies of the land, from the near presence of a wealthy commercial and manufacturing capital, grew in fertility and beauty, and thus Lanarkshire received an impetus which has long since accorded her the first rank for population, wealth, and importance among the counties of Scotland. 

   Although a commercial and manufacturing aristocracy have now grown up in the county by the most honourable of all pursuits, for in benefitting themselves they have vastly benefitted others, there still remain many ancient families of note, the ancestors of some of whom are not unworthily known to Scottish history. A few may be named; and first, the Hamiltons, the Duke of which is the premier peer of Scotland; to this family also belong the noble houses of Belhaven and Dalziel, and many others of the same name of honourable status in the county; the old Douglases of the Angus line are lineally represented on the female side by Baron Douglas, and collaterally by other families of the county. There are still, too, the Lockharts of Lee, with many offshoots from the parent branch; the Baillies of Lamington, the Rosses of Bonnington, the Colebrookes of Crauford, the Veres of Stone-byres, &c. There are also many goodly and noble mansions scattered over the county, in addition to the well-known palace of Hamilton, and the castles of Douglas and Bothwell, but as these are fully noticed in the description of the parishes in which they are situated, it is not necessary here to repeat. 

   The county of Lanark returns one member to parliament, and had a constituency of 2,705 voters in 1832, and of 4,001 voters in 1841. Glasgow, within its bounds, returns two members. Lanark, Hamilton, and Airdrie, within the county; Falkirk in Stirling-shire, and Linlithgow, in the shire of that name, return a burgh-member; and Rutherglen in the Lower ward, is associated in a similar privilege with the burghs of Kilmarnock, Dumbarton, Port-Glasgow, and Renfrew. Thus the county is represented in the Commons’ House of parliament directly or indirectly by five members. 

   The number of parochial schools within the county, in 1834, was 72, and of schools not parochial, 352. The former were attended, between Ladyday and Michaelmas 1833, by a maximum of about 27,000 pupils, and a minimum of about 19,250.  

   As Lanarkshire derives its great importance from its modern improvements, rapidly advancing population, manufactures, and mineral wealth, it is not surprising that its former history is much less interesting and eventful than that of many other districts in North Britain, which are now vastly inferior to it in population, wealth, or importance. Originally, Lanarkshire was peopled by the ancient tribe of Britons called the Damnii, and their language may still be traced in the names of the waters and various other places in the district. These barbarians gave place to the Romans, whose temporary possession of these parts may still be traced by the remains of their roads and camps in many parts of the county, and also by their tombs, utensils, and weapons of warfare, which have often been turned up by the ploughshare or the spade in the process of excavating and embanking. In subduing the original inhabitants the Romans did much to civilize them, and introduce the arts of industry and peace; and it is recorded, as has been already observed, that they were the first to beautify and enrich the face of the country by the planting of those orchards for which Clydesdale has for ages been so famous. The in-road, however, of the Scandinavian and other savage tribes, pressing upon the heart of the Roman empire, induced them to withdraw their legions, artificers, and husbandmen from the extremities of their dominions, and thus Clydesdale was again left in the possession of the semi-barbarous Damnii. By them was founded the kingdom of Strathclyde, which gradually extended until it included within its ample limits Liddesdale, Teviotdale, Dumfries-shire, Galloway, Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, part of Peebles-shire, the western part of Stirlingshire, and the greater portion of Dumbartonshire, forming, indeed, a kingdom which embraced the greater part of Scotland south of the Forth, with the exception of ancient Lothian. Sometimes they were united under one valorous chief, and at others the leaders of subordinate tribes in the general confederacy contended for the mastery. Meantime these Strathcludensians were often assailed by the Picts, from the northern side of the Forth, by the Scoto-Irish from Cantyre, or the Saxons from the north of England, who envied them their fair domains on the Clyde. Their capital was taken, their dominion circumscribed, yet were they never formally conquered, though it is believed, that after the union of the Scots and Picts, they were amalgamated with the other rude materials which formed the Scottish dynasty under Kenneth. Many of the Strathcludensians preferred expatriation to acknowledging any other sovereign but one of their own choosing; and with heavy hearts they left the warm vales of Clydesdale, and wending their path southward, found an abiding-place among the hills and dales of Wales. After the formation of the Scottish kingdom, Lanarkshire suffered more or less from the domestic conflicts between the kings and Gallovidian chiefs, or the wars of England. The history of this period is uninteresting, however, although Lanarkshire continued to progress in rustic wealth, and its civilization was accelerated by the foundation of the bishopric of Glasgow, and the settlement, in the district, of several distinguished Flemings, from a family of which people were descended the once all-powerful and haughty Douglases. The death of Alexander III., without male issue, left the kingdom a prey to intrigue, contest, and competition, which only ended after years of domestic strife by the consolidation of the independence of the kingdom, which was achieved by Bruce at Bannockburn. But the precursor to this was the patriotic exertions of the celebrated Sir William Wallace, whose first exploit was that of driving the English out of the town of Lanark. The ‘good Sir James Douglas,’ perhaps, contributed more than any other man to the eventful triumph of Bruce, and, in consequence, that part of the county in which his estates and castles were situated was more than once subjected to the fire and sword of the English. After this, however, Lanarkshire enjoyed a long period of domestic peace, until power and prosperity had changed this celebrated family from being the best and first subjects of the Crown into its most turbulent and dangerous rival: see Douglas. In the reign of James II. the ambition of the Douglases, added to the intrigues of the 1st Lord Hamilton, plunged Lanarkshire into the horrors of civil war, and the following account of one of the royal raids will show what this unfortunate district suffered from the turbulence of its chiefs:- “In March, 1455, James the Second cast doune the castel of Inveravyne; and syne incontinent past to Glasgu, and gaderit the westland men, with part of the Areschery [Irishery], and passit to Lanerik, and to Douglas, and syne brynt all Douglasdale, and all Avendale, and all the Lord Hammiltoune’s lands, and heriit them clerlye; and syne passit to Edinburgh, and fra their till the forest, with one host of Lawland men. And all that wald nocht cum till him furthowith, he tuke their guids and brynt their places, and took faitle of all the gentilles clerlie. And all this time the Lord Hamiltoun was in England till have gottyn suplie, and couth get name bot gif the Douglas and he would have bene Englismen, and maid the aith. And incontinent after, the king passit in proper person, and put an sege till Abercorn: And within iii days Lord Hamiltoun come till him till Abercorn, and put him, lyf, landis, and guidis, in the King’s will purelie and sempillye, throu the menys of his ewe James of Levingston, that tyme Chalmerlane of Scotland. And the King resavit him till grace, and send him on incontinent with the Erll of Orknay, that tyme Chancellar of Scotland, till remain in ward in the castel of Roslyne, at the King’s will. And thus he [Lord Hamiltoun] left the Erll of Douglas all begylit, as men said.” [Gray’s MS. Chronicle.] Such was one of the inflictions upon Lanarkshire from the ambition of its local chiefs; but from this period the county has little place in local history till the escape of Queen Mary from Lochleven-castle, the assembling of her army at Hamilton, and its defeat by the Regent Murray at Langside, near Glasgow. Again the county was peaceful till the thirty years war of the persecution, caused by the resistance of the Scottish Presbyterians to submit to ‘black prelacy,’ which was sought to be imposed on them by the royal Charleses. The western counties were the chief scene of this devoted resistance to oppression, and the punishment inflicted by the ‘Highland host,’ the battles of Drumclog and Bothwell, and the sufferings unto the death by this heroic people, by famine, ill-usage, and military persecution, are too well-known to require a minute detail here. In all these, however, Lanarkshire had her full share. But the revolution of 1688 brought more peaceful times, and it is a fact not generally known that the declaration of the Prince of Orange was published at Glasgow before its publication in any other part of Scotland, though it is proper to state that this publicity was not given to it by the magistrates of the city. In proportion, however, as Lanarkshire ardently favoured and supported the Revolution, it bitterly opposed the Union of 1707. The Duke of Hamilton and several of the barons were also loud and sincere in their opposition; and there was scarcely a town or village in the county which did not make a demonstration against this then obnoxious national measure. The Glasgow rabblers are spoken of in terms the reverse of courteous by the historians of the Union; but no outbreak of moment took place, and it is no stigma cast upon the reflection of our forefathers to assume, that while they regarded that great measure as one which cut up their nationality by the roots, they could not foresee the vast advantages which would result to this part of Scotland by participating in the trade of England, and having free access to her colonies. Since this period there is nothing in the civil history of Lanarkshire but that which is common to the whole kingdom. – The sheriffdom of Lanark was formed at a very early date, and is believed to have been in existence so early as the reign of the lawgiving David I. In these early and troublous times, it was held by various persons, and finally fell into the grasping hands of the Douglas family, who held it as a hereditary source of honour and power. After their downfall, it was granted in fee to the Hamiltons, who held it as a hereditary appendage to their titles and possessions for many generations. Occasionally, but rarely, it was held by other noblemen, and among others by the Earl of Selkirk, upon whom the office was conferred in 1716, the heir of Hamilton being then under age, and held by him till his death in 1739. Upon the death of the Earl, James the 6th Duke of Hamilton took possession of the office, as hereditary sheriff, without any formal grant; and upon a change of system being about to take place, he claimed, in 1747, the sum of £10,000, as compensation for the sheriffdom. This claim was disallowed by the judges; but they allowed him £3,000 for the lordship and jurisdiction of the regality of Hamilton. At this time, Mr. William Cross, advocate, was appointed the first sheriff of Lanarkshire under the new system, the salary being then £200 per annum.

1  The name of the shire is believed to be derived from that of the county-town. Lanark derives its Celtic appellation from the British Llanerch, which signifies in Welsh, ‘a vale, or level space of ground.’ Several places in Scotland, which have the name of Lendrick, are understood to be derived from the same British source. 

9 thoughts on “Lanarkshire, pp.212-219.

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