DUNSYRE, a parish in the upper ward of Lanarkshire, bounded by Dolphinton and Walston on the south-east and south; Linton on the east and north; West Calder on the north; and Carnwath on the west. It is a high lying parish, the most of it being more than 700 feet above the sea level, and contains a steep and precipitous hill about 1,250 in height, from which the parish is understood to have received its name. It extends to nearly 5 miles in length, and the same in breadth, and contains 11,071 imperial acres. The climate is rather damp and ungenial, and rheumatism prevails amongst the inhabitants to a greater extent than is usual elsewhere. Springs are abundant in the parish, and it is watered to a considerable extent by the streamlet of Medwin, which takes its rise in its north-east corner, near the foot of the hill, called Craigangus, and which affords excellent trout fishing. The soil of the parish is generally of a sandy nature, or a mixture of sand and clay, but from its altitude it is not blessed with great fertility. A large section of it is laid out in sheep pasture. It has been supposed that coal existed in the confines; but though search has been made, the presence of this valuable mineral has not yet been ascertained, and the inhabitants are required to bring their supplies from a distance of 12 miles. Peat, however, is extensively cut from the extensive mosses in the parish. There is little wood, and little ornament, possibly from the non-residence of the proprietors, and some portions of the district have an exceedingly wild and dreary appearance. The village of Dunsyre does not contain a population amounting to more than 50 souls, who are principally tradesmen, necessary to and supported by the agriculturist. The nearest market-towns are Carnwath and Biggar, – the former 6, and the latter 8 miles distant from the village. The route by which the army of Agricola reached the Roman camp at Cleghorn can be traced through the parish, and several cairns occur along the line, in some of which urns have been found. Dunsyre comprised a portion of the lands which were exchanged by the ambitious Earl of Bothwell with the Earl of Angus, for the lands and castle of Hermitage in Liddesdale. It was sold, however, by James, Marquis of Douglas, to Sir George Lockhart, the President of the Court of Session, in the hands of whose successors almost the entire parish still remains. In the troubled times of the persecution, Dunsyre often afforded a retreat to the Covenanters, and the last sermon preached by the amiable Donald Cargill was upon Dunsyre common in 1669. He was seized shortly thereafter by Irvine of Bonshaw, taken to Edinburgh, hanged in the Grass-market, and his head struck off and fixed upon the port of the Netherbow. William Veitch, one of the most celebrated of the preachers of the Covenant, was at one time tenant of Westhills in the parish, from which he was compelled to flee, after the battle of Pentlands, in 1667. Assessed property, in 1815, £2,006. Population, in 1801, 290; in 1831, 335. Houses, in 1831, 57. – This parish is in the presbytery of Biggar, and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale. Patron, the Crown. Stipend £156 15s. 9d.; glebe £28. Hamilton of Wishaw says – “The teinds of this parish were anciently a part of the patrimonie of the abbacie of Kelsoe; but in respect its but a small parish, they are wholly possessed by the incumbent.” – Salary of parochial schoolmaster £25 3s. 4d., with £5 school-fees.
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