INCHINNAN,1 a parish in Renfrewshire, bounded on the north by the Clyde; on the east and south by the Cart and the Gryfe; and on the west by the parish of Erskine, touching at one point on the south-west the parish of Houstoun. Its length is 3½ miles, and its breadth varies from nearly 1 to 2 miles. It contains 3,060 English acres, which may be arranged thus:- arable in cultivation, 2,600; woodlands, 300; natural pasture, 100; sites of houses, roads, and waters, 60. The yearly produce is estimated at £14,000. The soil is excellent, consisting chiefly of strong productive clay; while on the banks of the rivers it is of a rich loamy quality. The land is in a high state of cultivation; all the modern improvements with respect to rotation of crops, manures, and draining, having been adopted. With the exception of a small portion of moorland not yet reclaimed, the whole parish is enclosed. The surface is diversified by rising grounds, some of them arable to the summit, others beautifully wooded, and all commanding extensive views of the surrounding country. Few parishes afford so many delightful situations for small country-seats. In the Clyde, adjacent to the farm of Garnaland in this parish, is an island, containing about 50 acres, called Newshot – corruptly Ushet – Isle. In the Cart, before its confluence with the Clyde, is a much smaller one, called Colin’s Isle, which, according to tradition, originated in the stranding of a vessel. The former is set down in Blaeu’s map, dated 1654; the latter is not. Limestone and coal abound in this parish. Freestone of superior quality is wrought at Park and Rashielee; and at the latter place large quantities of whinstone have, since 1760, been procured, forming excellent materials for the construction of jetties and other improvements on the channel of the Clyde. The population is chiefly agricultural; and there are no manufactures, although the parish is situated in a great manufacturing district. Of villages it can scarcely be said there are any, the largest collection of houses, consisting of 6, with the average number of two families in each. Towards the end of the 18th century, there was a distillery at Portnaul, on the east side of the parish. – The lands of Inchinnan were granted by King Malcolm IV. to Walter the high steward, in 1158; and in the possession of a. branch of the Stewart family – that of Lennox – a portion of these lands remained till the beginning of the 18th century, when it was sold by the Duke of Lennox and Richmond to the Duke of Montrose. It now belongs to Mr. Campbell of Blythswood, whose ancestor purchased it from the Duke of Montrose in 1737. Mr. Campbell is the principal landowner in the parish. The palace of Inchinnan was built by Matthew, Earl of Lennox, in 1506. It stood near to the site of the farm-steading of Garnaland, looking towards the Clyde. Crawford mentions that there were “some considerable remains” of it in 1710; but before the end of the century it had altogether disappeared, and the very foundations had become arable land. The structure appears to have been palatial only in name: had it been of any great consequence, it is not likely that it would have fallen so early into decay. The materials were partly employed in the building of a corn-mill at this place, in the gable of which, Semple, in 1782, observed one of the stones bearing an inscription. The mill having been lately pulled down, the stone was deposited within the tower of the church. The inscription is as follows:-
D . D
F S L . H C L
16 . 31
The greater part of the estate of Northbar was acquired in 1741 by Lord Sempill, who built a house upon it on the bank of the Clyde. In 1798 it was sold to Mr. James Buchanan, from whom it was acquired by Lord Blantyre, about 14 years afterwards. Southbar, the property of Mr. Maxwell Alexander, was acquired by his uncle in 1785. The mansion-house was, with the exception of one wing, accidentally destroyed by fire in August, 1826. The other estates are Park, Lord Blantyre; Freeland, Mr. Killoch; Rashielee, Mr. Maxwell of Dargevel: and House of Hill, Miss Balfour. – At the church of Inchinnan the waters of the Gryfe and the White Cart unite. Here there was formerly a public ferry, which gave name to a property, still called Ferrycraft. In 1759 a bridge was built, a few yards below the point where the rivers join. It consisted of 9 large arches, with a communication from the middle of the bridge by an arch connecting it with the point of land between the rivers. It cost only £1,450. The foundations of this structure were so insecure, and the work so imperfect, that it gave way in consequence of a flood, in the spring of 1809. A new bridge was completed in 1812, at an expense of £17,000, on a different site. It is composed of two divisions, which cross the streams 30 or 40 yards above their junction; an end of each division resting on the intermediate peninsula. They do not run in a straight line into each other, but the road takes a bend in the middle, where they join, and forms nearly a right angle, each of them crossing its own water at a right angle also. Upon the whole, this structure is at once substantial and elegant, and has a fine effect amidst the surrounding scenery, which is deservedly admired for its amenity and tranquil beauty. There is another bridge connected with the parish, that of Barnsford, which crosses the Gryfe and Black Cart about half-a-mile below their junction. The old high-road from Glasgow to Greenock, by Renfrew, intersects the length of the parish; and two good roads communicate with Paisley. Population of the parish, in 1831, 642. Houses 89. Assessed property, in 1815, £5,268. Inchinnan is in the presbytery of Paisley, and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. Patron, Campbell of Blythswood. Stipend 16 chalders, one-half meal and the other half barley, with £8 6s. 8d. for communion elements, and a glebe of 7½ acres. Part of the incumbent’s emoluments he, like his predecessors, derives as superior of a piece of land, consisting of 2½ acres, called Ladyacre, which in Popish times formed an endowment for an altar dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and situated in the parish-church. At the Reformation, this land was sold by the chaplain, for payment of a small feu-duty. The teind and duty annually arising from this source amount to £1 5s. 5d. In the charters granted by the ministers of Inchinnan in virtue of the superiority referred to, they have uniformly styled themselves “undoubted chaplains of the altarage and altar, commonly called Our Lady’s Altar, of old founded and situated in the parish-church of Inchinnan, and as such undoubted superiors of the lands after-mentioned.” The present incumbent truly says, in the New Statistical Account, – “The attachment of a superiority to a living occurs nowhere else in Scotland, in similar circumstances; and the Popish title connected with it is a still more extraordinary anomaly.” – Schoolmaster’s salary £34 4s. 4½d., with about £22 school fees, and £5 of other emoluments. There is another school with one teacher. – According to ancient historians, St. Conval, or Connal, taught Christianity at Inchinnan, where he died in 612. David I. gave the church of Inchinnan, with all its pertinents, to the Knights Templars, to whom it continued to belong till their suppression in 1312, when all their property in Scotland was transferred to the Knights of St. John, who enjoyed the rectorial tithes and revenues, and had the cure served by a vicar of their own appointment, till the Reformation. The former church of Inchinnan – which was pulled down in 1828 – was a very ancient fabric, 50 feet in length, by only 18 in breadth, with an antique scarcement to throw off the rain from the foundation. The walls were of great thickness. “In the churchyard all the old tomb-stones, of which many remain, have crosses of different forms sculptured upon them. The parishioners point out what tradition has taught them to call the Templars’ graves. The stones covering them, now reduced to 4 in number, are not flat, but ridged; and upon their sloping sides, figures of swords may be distinctly traced. If ever there were stone coffins under them, it is long since they have disappeared, and the graves themselves have been appropriated, from time immemorial, to the use of the parishioners.”2 The present church is Gothic, with a massive square tower, buttresses, &c., and is much admired. It occupies the situation of the former one, upon the Gryfe, near its junction with the White Cart. Both it and the bridge of Inchinnan were built of the freestone from Park quarry in this parish.
1 The parish of Inchinnan is of a peninsular form, being bounded by rivers on three sides, which obviously gave rise to the first syllable of the name, being the Celtic word for a peninsula, as well as an island. The adjunct is probably the name of St. Inan, to whom the church is supposed to have been dedicated. See the New Statistical Account, where an error of the author of Caledonia is pointed out.
2 New Statistical Account, p.124.