Cambuslang, pp.196-198.

[Gazetteer of Scotland Contents]

   CAMBUSLANG, a parish in Lanarkshire, on the south bank of the Clyde; and bounded by Old Monkland parish on the north; Blantyre on the east; by Kilbride on the south; and by Rutherglen on the west. The surface is beautifully diversified with hill and dale. A ridge of about half-a-mile broad is formed by the Dichmount and Turnlea hills, extending nearly 2 miles from east to west. From this central ridge the ground declines in a gradual manner to the Clyde on the north, and to the water of Calder on the south. The Clyde is from 200 to 250 feet broad at this place, and generally overflows part of the low grounds three or four times a-year. It has been known to rise here 20 feet above its mean level. The Kirk burn and Newton burn are small tributaries of the Clyde, in this parish. Coal abounds in the district, where it has been wrought for upwards of 300 years. The present output is about 30,000 tons per annum. In 1750, a cart of coals of 9 cwt. cost 9d.; on the coalhill in this parish the same quantity at present costs 2s. 11d. Vast beds of excellent freestone are also found in every part of the parish, the strata of which, as well as of the coal, dip towards the river; it is singular that, on the north side of the Clyde, the dip is also towards the river. A stratum of limestone, usually called Cambuslang marble, is found in some of the coal-pits at the depth of 200 feet; it is of a beautiful dark grey or dark brown colour, with whitish streaks and spots, and receives a very high polish. – Dechmont-hill seems to have been anciently a place of strength, and must have been well-adapted for a watch-tower. Rising from a comparatively level country, to an altitude of 600 feet, it commands an extensive and varied prospect – the beauties of which have been recently celebrated in a descriptive poem, entitled ‘Dychmont,’ by John Struthers, the author of ‘The Poor Man’s Sabbath,’ and other pieces of much poetical merit. Upon the summit of Dechmont are some traces of ancient buildings. – About a mile east of the church is the castle of Drumsargard, to which an extensive barony was at onetime annexed. This was the property successively of several families of great name, the Oliphants. the Murrays, the Douglases, and the Hamiltons; and it at present makes a part of the entailed estate of Hamilton. – On the south side of Dechmont, stands Latrick, which, about the beginning of the 17th century, was the seat of a Sir John Hamilton, whose family is extinct. On the north side of the same hill, stands the turreted house of Gilbertfield. long the residence of a family of the name of Cunningham: about the beginning of the 18th century, this estate was purchased by the laird of West-Burn. Lieutenant William Hamilton, the friend and poetical correspondent of Allan Ramsay, lived many years, first at Gilbertfield, and then at Latrick. where he died on the 24th of May, 1751, at an advanced age. – Upon the banks of the Kirk burn, about a quarter of a mile below the church, there was a chapel, founded in 1379, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, to which belonged 4 acres of land which still retain the name of Chapel-land: there was also an hospital 2 miles east from the church, to which about 130 acres, called Spital and Spital hill, seem to have been annexed: but the persons by whom, and the time when, these religious houses were founded, are equally unknown. – Population, in 1801, 1,558; in 1831, 2,697. Of this population about 500 find employment in weaving. Assessed property in 1815, £8,578. Land rental about £6.000. Houses 369. The village of Cambuslang is about 5 miles from Glasgow. – This parish is in the presbytery of Hamilton, and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. Patron, the Duke of Hamilton. Stipend £281 11s. 11d.; with a glebe of the value of £10. Unappropriated teinds £469 19s. 5d. Church built in 1743; sittings 500. An Independent chapel was built at Cambuslang in 1801; sittings 200. – The parochial school-master has a salary of £34 4s. 4¼d., with about £40 fees. Pupils 100. There are four private schools within the parish. 

   Cambuslang possesses a peculiar interest in the eyes of the religious public, as having been the scene of a very remarkable revival in 1742. The following sketch of these transactions is given in the ‘New Statistical Account:’ – “The religious phenomena, commonly called ‘the Cambuslang work,’ seems to have originated in circumstances apparently accidental. The kirk of Cambuslang being too small and out of repair – as is too often the case in the present day – the minister in favourable weather frequently conducted the public devotional services of the parish in the open fields. The place chosen was peculiarly well adapted for the purpose. It is a green brae on the east side of a deep ravine near the church, scooped out by nature in the form of an amphitheatre. At present it is sprinkled over with broom, furze, and sloe-bushes, and two aged thorns in twin embrace are seen growing side by side near the borders of the meandering rivulet which murmurs below. In this retired and romantic spot Mr. McCulloch, for about a year before the ‘work’ began, preached to crowded congregations, and on the Sabbath evenings after sermon, detailed to the listening multitudes, the astonishing effects produced by the ministrations of Mr. Whitefield in England and America, and urged with great energy the doctrines of regeneration and newness of life. The effects of his zeal soon began to evidence themselves in a striking manner among the multitudes who waited on his ministry. Towards the end of January, 1742, two persons, Ingram More, a shoemaker, and Robert Bowman, a weaver, went through the parish, and got about ninety heads of families to subscribe a petition, which was presented to the minister, desiring that he would give them a weekly lecture. This request was immediately complied with, and Thursday was fixed upon as the most convenient day of the week for that purpose. These meetings were crowded with multitudes of bearers, and at length from weekly were extended to daily exhortations, which were carried on without interruption for seven or eight months. Many people came to the minister’s house under strong convictions of sin, calling themselves ‘enemies to God, despisers of precious Christ,’ and saying ‘what shall we do to be saved?’ The first prominent symptoms of the extraordinary effects produced by these multiplied services were on the 8th February. Soon after, the sacrament was given twice in the space of five weeks; on 11th July and on 15th August. Mr. Whitefield had arrived from England in June, and many of the most popular preachers of the day hastened to join him at Cambuslang, such as Messrs. Willison of Dundee, Webster of Edinburgh, McKnight of Irvine, McLaurin of Glasgow, Currie of Kinglassie, Bonner of Torphichen, Robe of Kilsyth, &c. The sacrament on the 15th August was very numerously attended. One tent was placed at the lower extremity of the amphitheatre above alluded to, near the joining of the two rivulets; and here the sacrament was administered. A second tent was erected in the churchyard, and a third in a green field a little to the west of the first tent. Each of these was attended with great congregations, and it has been estimated that not less than 30,000 people attended on that occasion. Four ministers preached on the fast day, 4 on Saturday, 14 or 15 on Sunday, and 5 on Monday. There were 25 tables, about 120  at each, in all 3,000 communicants. Many of these came from Glasgow, about 200 from Edinburgh, as many from Kilmarnock, and from Irvine and Stewarton, and also some from England and Ireland. The Cambuslang work continued for six months, from 8th February to 15th August, 1742. The number of persons converted at this period cannot be ascertained. Mr. McCulloch, in a letter to Mr. Robe, dated 30th April 1751, rates them at 400, of which number 70 were inhabitants of Cambuslang. The 18th of February, the day on which this extraordinary work began, was, long after, observed in the parish partly as a day of humiliation and fasting for misimprovement of mercies, and partly as a day of thanksgiving for the season of grace to many in the British colonies, and particularly in this small corner in 1741 and 1742.” The judicious writer of these remarks adds, “When the present venerable and learned incumbent of Cambuslang entered on the charge of the parish, a number of the converts of 1742 still lived, and gave evidence, by the piety and consistency of their conduct, of the reality of the saving change that had been wrought on their hearts. So late as July, 1818, the writer of this note heard an aged clergyman of a neighbouring parish allude in the church of Cambuslang, on a Monday after a communion, to the revival in the following terms: He had been speaking of the time and place in which God had been pleased to afford extraordinary manifestations of his power and grace in the conversion of sinners, and in comforting and strengthening his people, and he added, ‘Such was Bethel to the Patriarch Jacob, Tabor to the three disciples, and such was this place about seventy-six years ago, of whom I am told some witnesses remain to this present hour, but the greater part are fallen asleep.’ If any one is still so bold as to allege that the work at Cambuslang was ‘a work of the devil,’ he will find no countenance from the serious part of the inhabitants of the district in which it took place. No one ever attempted to justify every thing that was said or done at that memorable period; but, on the other hand, it is hoped that the warmth of party spirit will no longer prevent good men from admitting what even the correspondent of Mr. Wishart of Edinburgh was constrained to acknowledge in regard to the revival in New England at that time, ‘that an appearance so much out of the ordinary way, and so unaccountable to persons not acquainted with the history of the world, was the means of awakening the attention of many, and that a good number settled into a truly Christian temper.’ ”

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