Denny, pp.312-314.

[Gazetteer of Scotland Contents]

   DENNY, a parish in the shire of Stirling, formerly a vicarage of the parish of Falkirk, from which it was separated in 1618. Its greatest length is computed at about 6 miles, its breadth at about 4; and it is supposed to contain 6,016 acres. It is bounded on the north by the Carron, which separates it from the parishes of St. Ninian’s and Dunipace; on the south by the parish of Kilsyth, by that of Cumbernauld in Dumbartonshire, and by Falkirk, – Bonny water flowing between it and the two latter parishes; on the west by the parish of Kilsyth; and on the east by Dunipace and Falkirk. Besides the village of Denny, it contains those of Haggs, Denny-Loanhead, and Bankier. The north road from Edinburgh to Glasgow – which passes through Falkirk – runs along the southern part of the parish. The surface of this parish, like that of most of the districts in the eastern part of Stirlingshire, is gently undulating. The most prominent feature is Larritch hill, or the Hill of Oaks, near the north-western extremity. The stone-fences, which nearly universally prevail here, and the almost entire want of trees and hedgerows, give the landscape an unusually bleak and uninteresting aspect. The northern and western parts, which are more elevated than the southern, are principally occupied as sheep-pastures. The soil in the northern part belongs to the class known by the name of dryfield, and is light, sandy, and not very fertile. The cultivation, however, has, within the last few years, been greatly improved, and by the extensive application of draining and other improved methods of agriculture, very fair crops are now raised. Some of the land in the north-eastern part of the parish is of greatly superior quality, and lets – we have understood – at as high a rate as the best carse-land in the country. Coals are found here in abundance, and from the colliery of Banknock a considerable quantity is exported by the Forth and Clyde canal to Glasgow. Ironstone is also found to some extent. The numerous falls of the Carron in this parish have furnished excellent situations for mills of various kinds. On the banks of that rivulet there were formerly not less than nine grain mills. There are now, however, only three, of which two are meal and barley mills, and the other for the grinding of flour. In addition to these, there are two char mills, – a mill for chipping dye-woods, and the preparation of other dye-stuffs, – two large paper-mills, in one of which fine white paper, and in the other coarse pasteboard is manufactured. In a paper-mill in this parish, a large quantity of the cartridge-paper used in the army during the late war was manufactured. There are three wool-spinning mills. Besides these, we may mention a large bleachfield and a printfield, both of which, though in the adjoining parish of Dunipace, yet from their immediate vicinity to the town of Denny, may more appropriately be viewed in connection with the subject of the present article. There is a distillery in the town of Denny, – a meal and barley mill on Bonny water, in the south-eastern part of the parish, – and two chip-mills for drysalting operations on Browster water.1 The Forth and Clyde canal, and the line of the Edinburgh and Glasgow railway now executing, pass through the parishes of Falkirk and Cumbernauld, close by the southern confines of the parish of Denny. This parish – like a few others in Stirlingshire – is remarkable for the number of small properties which it contains, occupied by vassals, or portioners as they are here called, holding of a subject superior. This peculiarity is said to have arisen from the alarm of an Earl of Wigton at the time of the Union in 1705, who, from a belief that that event would prove fatal to the prosperity of his country, disposed of the whole of his large estates in this and the neighbouring parishes of Cumbernauld and Kirkintilloch to his own tenants, on condition of their paying for ever the rents of that time. The number of heritors is about 150, the principal being William Forbes, Esq. of Callendar. There are no families of any distinction in the parish. A considerable tract of land, known by the name of Temple Denny, is supposed to have belonged in former times to the Knights Templars. The assessed property, in 1815, was £6,631. Population, in 1801, 2,033; in 1831, 3,843. – The village of Denny is situated in the north-eastern part of the parish, within a few hundred yards of the boundary between this and the parish of Dunipace. It is 7½ miles north-east from Stirling, and the high road from that town to Glasgow passes through it. Two branch-banks have recently been established here, – one in connection with the Commercial bank of Scotland, and the other with the Clydesdale bank in Glasgow. Fairs for cows are held on the Wednesday before the 12th of May, O. S., and on the Wednesday after the 11th of November. – There are scarcely any remains of antiquity connected with this parish. A stone-coffin was found many years ago at Woodyett, on the north-eastern extremity. It is said to have borne the date of 1301, and contained human bones. – There was a very old bridge over the Carron near Denny. The ancient and principal arch of this old bridge was built in the form of four arched rings or couples, upon which the whole superstructure appears to rest. There is only one bridge in this neighbourhood, built in a similar way; namely, that unique looking bridge over the Devon, near Tullibody, the two original arches of which are built with rings or couples; but in this case the arches are pointed like the Gothic windows in some of our churches, whereas in Denny bridge the arches were semicircular or Saxon. This bridge was about 12 feet wide, and very high; a new one 32 feet wide, and 10 feet lower, has been recently substituted for it. 

   The parish of Denny, including the new quoad sacra parish of Haggs, is in the presbytery of Stirling, and synod of Perth and Stirling. Patron, the Crown. Stipend £250 3s. 3d.; glebe £9 13s. 4d. Unappropriated teinds £449 0s. 10d. The stipend has, in 1840, been raised to 19 chalders. The church, which is situated in the town of Denny, was built in 1813; sittings 768. A new church – modelled on that of Camelon – has recently been erected at the village of Haggs, containing 600 sittings. There are also two United Secession congregations in this parish. The one at the village of Denny was established in 1797. The church was purchased in 1796, and was greatly enlarged in 1817; sittings 554. Stipend £100. The minister has also a house and garden of about £16 annual value, and a small park worth about £3. The other Secession congregation is at Denny-Loanhead. It was established in 1738; and its history is closely connected with the rise of the Secession.2 Church built in 1815; cost £1,400; sittings 731. Stipend £168, with manse and garden. – The parochial school-master has a salary of £34 4s. 4½d., with about £24 school-fees. Average number of scholars 49. There are 7 other schools, with an average attendance of about 408. The population of the parish, by a more recent census, was 4,027, of which 2,290 belonged to the Establishment, and 1,678 to other denominations.

1  For the supply of the mills on the Carron, a large reservoir existed for some time on the Earls burn, in the parish of St. Ninian’s; but this having been almost completely destroyed in 1839 – from the effects, as was supposed, of the earthquake noticed in our article COMRIE – it is the intention of those connected with the mills to apply to parliament for leave to construct a new reservoir on the Earls burn, and a dam-head on the Carron. 

2  This parish was the scene of a famous non-intrusion contest upwards of a century ago; of which the following brief but impartial outline may be instructive in these times:- In 1735, the parish of Denny having become vacant by the death of their pastor, a presentation was given to Mr. James Stirling; and the laird of Herbertshire – who appears to have acted as patron on behalf of the Crown – caused intimation to be made to the moderator of the presbytery of Stirling, that a presentation had been given and accepted, and requested that the presbytery would take the presentee on trials for ordination. The parishioners opposed this summary mode of proceeding, and petitioned that a moderation might be granted for the people at large, without any reference to the presentation given. From the presbytery the matter was carried to the synod of Perth and Stirling, who found that the presentation was null and void, on account of its not having been presented to any judicatory in due time, by any person having a commission from his Majesty for that purpose; and it was finally agreed, among all the parties concerned, that the presentation being laid aside, a call should be moderated in the kirk of Denny. On the day of moderation, the former presentee was proposed on the part of the patron, and another candidate was proposed on the part of the people; and the roll of voters being called, few or none of the heads of families voted for the patron’s candidate. Of the heritors, 52 gave him their support, and of these the greater part were either non-residenters, or not in the communion of the church; while for the popular candidate there were 74 heritors, the whole of the session, and 138 heads of families. Though the voice of the parish was thus most unequivocally expressed against the presentee, and though the call given to the nominee of the people was – with the exception of the heritors mentioned – almost unanimous, yet the two ministers who conducted the moderation, refused to attest the call; they referred it to the presbytery; and the presbytery, without judging in it, referred it to the synod. The synod, after hearing ail the parties, gave a decision, by a large majority, in favour of the parishioners, and ordered the presbytery to proceed with the settlement of the person whom they had called. Against this decision the friends of the presentee protested, and carried the cause by appeal before the supreme court. The assembly remitted the settlement of it to their commission. The commission delayed the consideration of the Denny case till the next meeting of assembly; and the assembly at length gave the case a hearing, but again remitted it to the commission. The commission, after making several unsuccessful attempts to effect a reconciliation betwixt the parties, thought proper – at the close of one of their meetings, when the greater part of their members had gone away, and when there was scarcely a quorum of their number present – to reverse the sentence of the synod, and order the settlement of the presentee to take place. Against this sentence the people, of course, reclaimed, and once more appeared at the bar of the assembly. But the sentence of the commission was affirmed; and the presbytery of Stirling enjoined to take the necessary steps for ordaining the intruder. Yet the same assembly, on the following day, agreed to an act, in which they declared, “that it is, and has been since the Reformation, the principle of this church, that no minister shall be intruded into any parish contrary to the will of the congregation.” The business, however, did not stop here. The presbytery refused to execute the sentence of their own church. This refusal, on the part of the presbytery, occasioned another complaint to be made to the assembly by the presentee’s friends. Whereupon the venerable court appointed a committee of 21 members to prepare an overture on the whole affair and at a subsequent sederunt, an overture was brought in, and approved of, declaring the dissatisfaction of the assembly with the conduct of the presbytery, in neglecting or refusing to fulfil the appointment of the assembly [1736]; and enjoining the presbytery to proceed immediately with the trials of Mr. Stirling, and to have the whole finished before the 1st of September next. And, lest the presbytery should still prove contumacious, the synod of Perth and Stirling were ordered to take him upon trials, and to proceed, so as to have the settlement completed before the 1st of March. It was further declared, that any 10 or more of them might proceed to ordain Mr. Stirling, even though all the rest of their brethren should be opposed to the execution of the act; and that “in case the synod, or such number of them as above-mentioned, shall not, before the 1st of November next, enter upon trials the said Mr. Stirling, or before the 1st of March next finish the same, the assembly empower a special commission of this general assembly, to convene at Edinburgh, in the Old kirk aisle, on the third Wednesday of November or March respectively, with power to adjourn themselves as they shall think fit, in order to take trials, and ordain Mr. Stirling as minister of Denny.” In the meantime, Mr. Stirling, the presentee, died before his trials for ordination could be completed. Upon an application made to the presbytery, a new moderation was appointed to take place among them. One candidate was proposed on behalf of the few who had hitherto supported the claims of the patron, – and another on behalf of the congregation; but when the votes were about to be taken, none of the elders were permitted to vote on the ground that they were not qualified to the present civil government; the heads of families were denied the same privilege, inasmuch as it was alleged that they had no right to it, by the laws either of the church or of the state; and the votes also of heritors were refused, unless they were infefted in their possessions, and unless they paid cess. Notwithstanding these arbitrary measures, a call to the popular candidate was subscribed by a large majority of the congregation, and presented to the presbytery at their first meeting, by whom it was rejected, while the call of their opponents was sustained, and their candidate ordered to be taken on trials for ordination. Against this decision the people protested, but did not think proper to appeal to any higher court. They, however, were resolved that they would not tamely submit to the intruder. On the day set apart for the ordination, 117 heritors, elders, and heads of families, went publicly to the kirk of Denny, and after sermon, immediately before the imposition of hands, entered a solemn protest against the proceedings of the presbytery, declaring that the person whom they were now pretending to set apart to the office of the ministry, being intruded upon the parish contrary to the laws of Christ, was not, nor could be, regarded as lawful minister of the congregation, to whom they could submit in the Lord. Having made this declaration, and having taken instruments in the hand of a notary-public, they withdrew, and soon after connected themselves in a body with the then infant Secession church.

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