Kirkcudbrightshire (Miscellaneous)

[Extra Articles Contents]

This information is specific to a number of queries I received from an interested party via the site’s contact form. As usual, the information is solely from the Press. Should others have extra information they’d like to add, please feel free to do so in the comments.

1. The clan that held most sway in Kirkcudbrightshire were the Mac [Mc/McC] Lellans. 

Bear in mind in the proceeding article that the author is very much trying to strike a definite comparison between “then & now.” That there’s likely to be bias in the way of making “then” seem far different and far worse than the more civilised “now.” That the people likely didn’t feel that they were living a lesser life than they might otherwise be able to. 



   THE following judicious and well written account, as well as some others with which we shall present our readers, gives a pleasing view of the rapid progress which many districts of Scotland have lately made in civilization, and of the advantage derived from knowledge and industry. 

   THE inhabitants of this parish are in general, a decent and respectable people in their different ranks of life; sensible and rational in their religious principles. No sectaries. They are all warm friends to the principles of the revolution-government, and the succession of the family of Hanover. There is not an old woman in the parish, but would bedaub Tom Paine with dirt, if he presumed to set his foot within the verge of it. They hear that the King and the Royal Family go confidently to church on the Sabbath day, and hate Tom Paine for abusing so good a Prince. Numbers of them are terrified that the French revolution-government should be introduced among them; for every one chooses to keep what he has lawfully got, and not make an equal division of it among his neighbours. They are industrious and careful about their secular affairs, in their different lines of life, and do not interfere with matters of state; decent in their dress, and good economists in their mode of living. None of them have been hanged or banished in modern times. In general they are sober and temperate, notwithstanding that whisky is both cheap and plenty of late years; there being only a few who are votaries of that pernicious beverage. They have made great progress in civilization and good manners, and have made remarkable improvement of late in their houses, dress, and manner of living, as will appear evident from the following authentic sketch of the statistical state of this parish about 60 or 70 years ago. 

   At the above period, there was not a hat to be seen in the whole congregation upon a Sunday. they wore Kilmarnock bonnets or caps of different colours. In church they kept on their bonnets and caps during the lecture and sermon, and took them off only during the prayer, the singing of psalms, and the pronouncing the blessing. Few or none of the common people could read, and the precentor read the scriptures to them in the church before the minister made his appearance. They had no buckles in their shoes, but tied them with small leather thongs; had no metal buttons on their cloaths, but large clumsy buttons of wood moulds, covered over with the same cloth as the coat. The men wore kelt coats, made of a mixture of black and white wool, as it came off the sheep, in its natural state. Neither men nor women, in general, wore any shirts, and when they did, they were made of coarse woollen; in general they changed their plaiding shirts twice in the year, at Whitsunday and Martinmas. It was long before linen shirts came into use among the vulgar. They wore no shoes in summer, nor winter, but in the time of severe frost and snow: Their children got no shoes till they were able to go to the kirk. The women wore coarse plaiding or drugget gowns, made of the coarsest wool, and spun in the coarsest manner. The tenants wives wore toys of linen of the coarsest kind, upon their heads, when they went to church, fairs, or market: At home they went bare-headed, with their hair snooded back on the crown of their head, with a woollen string in the form of a garter. their houses were most miserable hovels, built of stone and turf, without mortar, and stopped with fog or straw, to keep the wind from blowing in upon them. They had a window on each side of the house, which they opened or shut as the wind blew, to give them light. These windows they stopped with straw or fern: In such houses, when they kindled a fire, they lived in a constant cloud of smoke, enough to suffocate them, had they not been habituated to it from their infancy. They had many of them no standing beds, but slept on heath or straw, covered with the coarsest blankets, upon the floor. They kept their cattle in the same house with themselves, tied to stakes in one end of the house: There being no division to separate the cattle from themselves. Their furniture consisted of stools, pots, wooden cogs and bikkers. At their meals they ate and supped altogether out of one dish. they lived in a coarse and dirty manner, and ate of the meanest and coarsest of food. In general, their food consisted of brose, pottage, oat meal flummery, and greens boiled in water with a little salt. The dishes out of which they fed were seldom washed after meals, and of course, were often thick with dirt. Each person in the family had a short hafted spoon made of horn, which they called  munn, with which they supped and carried it in their pocket, or hung it by their side. They had no knives and forks, but lifted the butcher-meat they ate with their fingers. They ate little meat at that time, excepting the off-falls of their flocks, which died either by poverty or disease. At Martinmas they killed an old ewe or two, as their winter provision, and used the sheep that died of the braxy in the latter end of autumn. At the time their farms had no march-fences to separate them from their neighbours; a single farm was let in runrig among a number of tenants, which caused them to live in a constant state of warfare and animosity. the dividing the produce of the farm, according to each tenant’s share, became a usual source of quarrels and fighting. 

   Their mode of agriculture was uncommonly stupid in every stage of the operation. They yoked six oxen and two horses in one plough, and sometimes eight oxen and two horses. They yoked four horses a-breadth in a plough without oxen, and had always one to hold the plough, and another to drive the cattle. They used a heavy clumsy Scots plough, that murdered the weak and half-starved animals to drag it after them. Their harrows were heavy and clumsy, with the teeth made of wood in place of iron; in the spring season their horses and oxen fell down in the draught, through perfect poverty and weakness: they ploughed great quantities of the land, and had poor returns for their labour: they took four or five crops, without putting on any manure. In dry seasons they could scarcely gather their corn in harvest, upon account of its shortness. They sowed nothing but poor grey Scots oats; their poor land would bear no other species of grain; this kind of oats yielded little meal, and of a dark colour. When their corn came above the ground in the spring, they had constant herding of their cattle day and night, till the harvest was finished, and the corn gathered into their corn-yards. They built turf folds in summer in the fields, into which they put their cattle in the middle of the day, when annoyed with the heat; and also at night to preserve them from destroying their grain. In the night, they put all their cattle into these turf folds, and one or two persons watched them every night in summer and harvest, till their corns were got it. By overstocking their farms the poor animals were starved for want of grass. In spring, their cattle were so weak, that when they lay down, they could not rise of themselves till they lifted them up. They fell into mosses and quag-mires through weakness, and were drowned. In that season of the year it was a constant custom to gather their neighbours together, to assist in lifting their cows and horses, and to drag them out of moss holes. At that time, and for long after, there was not a cart in the parish. They led home their corn and hay in cars, and in trusses on the backs of their horses, and their peats in creels and sacks. They led out their dung on cars, or creels coupled and hung over the horses backs. The women carried out dung in creels on their backs, and the men filled the creels at the dunghill, and lifted it upon their shoulders. This resembled the savage state of society, where all the drudgery of the domestic labour fell to the department of the female sex. At that time there were no saddles nor bridles, and they rode to church and market upon brechims and pillions placed on the horses, and halters on the horses heads made of hair. They shod their horses fore feet, but put no shoes upon hind feet. The women had no little wheels, but span with the rock and spindle: Their yarn was uncommonly coarse. They had no candles to give them light in the winter nights. When the goodman1 of the house made family-worship, they lighted a ruffy, to enable him to read the psalm, and the portion of scripture, before he prayed. The men had no razors, but clipped their beards every Sunday. The lower class, in general, were tainted strongly with superstitious sentiments and opinions, which had been transmitted down from one generation to another by tradition. They firmly believed in ghosts, hobgoblins, fairies, elves, witches, and wizards. These ghosts and spirits often appeared to them at night. They used many charms and incantations, to preserve themselves, their cattle, and houses, from the malevolence of witches, wizards, and evil spirits, and believed in the beneficial effects of these charms. They believed in lucky and unlucky days and seasons, in marrying, or undertaking any important business. They frequently saw the Devil, who made wicked attempts upon them when they were engaged in their religious exercises, and acts of devotion. They believed in benevolent spirits, which they termed brownies, who went about in the night time, and performed for them some parts of their domestic labour, such as threshing and winnowing their corn, spinning and churning. They fixed branches of mountain ash, or narrow leaved service tree above the stakes of their cattle, to preserve them from the evil effects of elves and witches. All these superstitious opinions and observations, which they firmly believed, and powerfully influenced their actions, are of late years almost obliterated among the present generation. Both men and women about 60 years ago, were robust and healthy, and subject to few diseases. They were strangers to every complaint of a nervous nature. This arose from the hardy manner in which they were brought up from their infancy, and being accustomed to watch their cattle without doors in the night during the summer and harvest season. From the above authentic Statistical Account of this parish about 60 or 70 year ago, compared with its present state of improvement, in agriculture, the manners, dress, and mode of living among its inhabitants, and their present sentiments in religion, the great improvement they have made in agriculture and civilization will appear in the most striking point of view; and as they are still in a gradual train of improvement at present, it gives the most flattering prospects of their future progress in time. The greatest danger to their present progress is the raising the land to a racked rent, which industrious tenants may be unable to pay. 

Statistical Account, vol. 9.  

1 Master of the Family. 

– Scots Magazine, Monday 1st September, 1794, pp.517-519. 


“Burke’s Vicissitudes of families” gives the following account of the downfall of the family and its revived fortunes:- 

On the death of William, fourth lord, under age and without issue, the McClellans lost their land and the lords of Kirkcudbright, of their own free will, kept away for a time form the assemblies of their order:- 

But the right of the collateral heir male was so universally known and acknowledged, that at the Union this peerage was considered as a subsisting one, and as such preserved on the roll. On several occasions the votes of the Lords of Kirkcudbright were subsequently admitted at the election of Scotch representative peers, and in 1741 William McClellan, Lord Kirkcudbright, recorded his at the general election. Despite, however, of his lordly character, the poor peer followed the humble occupation of a glover, and for many years used to stand in the lobby of the Assembly-rooms in the Old Town, selling gloves to the gay frequenters of the ball; for, according to the fashion of the time, a new pair was required for every fresh dance. The only occasion on which he absented himself from his post was at the ball following the election of a representative peer; then, and then only, did he doff his apron, and assuming the garb of a gentleman, associate with the company, the most of whom he had usually served with gloves during the rest of the year. The glover-lord’s son, mindful of the pristine glories of his race, entered on a more ambitious career than his father, attained the rank of colonel in the army, and, not satisfied with anything short of legal recognition, submitted his peerage claim to the House of Lords, by whose decision he was declared seventh Lord Kirkcudbright on the 3rd of May, 1773. 

– Eastbourne Gazette, Wednesday 24th December, 1862, p.7. 


The Right Hon. Sarah Lady Kirkcudbright, who died on the 21st inst., was the daughter of Colonel Thomas Gorges, and was married to Camden Grey Maclellan, ninth and last Lord Kirkcudbright, in the peerage of Scotland, who died at Bruges, on the 19th of April, 1832, leaving her an only child, the Hon. Camden Elizabeth, now the wife of James Staunton Lambert, Esq., of Creg Clare, in the county of Galway, formerly M.P. for that county. 

– Illustrated London News, Saturday 31st January, 1863, p.18. 


When the Rev. John Welsh was translated from Selkirk to Kirkcudbright in 1596, he brought with him as his bride Elizabeth, the youngest daughter of the Scottish Reformer, John Knox. Three other parishes were then under his care. Lamenting that “the glorious Gospel of God’s dear Son, our Saviour, was so obscured and darkened in this country of Nithsdale and Galloway with the smoke of that kingdom of darkness,” he “was most diligent and laborious,” and was singularly blessed in all pastoral duties. By these and his controversy with the Abbot of New Abbey, published on his removal to Ayr in 1600, many renounced Popery and became zealous friends of the truths of the reformation. Among these were found the Gordons of Earlston, with the Lairds of Knockgray, Knockbreck, Garloch, Cardoness, Rusco, and Roberton. “That work indicates both Welsh’s acuteness as a controversialist, and his learning as a theologian. Its structure is that of regular dialogue. The priest is first heard, then comes Welsh’s reply. The advantage of the work is, that it analyses and refutes the arguments which the most dexterous and talented of Romanists presented, so that its triumph is complete and undisputed.” It was re-issued seventy years later, did as good service then, and its circulation now may therefore be expected to be largely owned.1 

Sir Robert Maclellan of Bombie received the title of Lord Kirkcudbright when Charles I.., in visiting Scotland, was endeavouring to conciliate his northern subjects. The third Lord Kircudbright was rewarded with 15,000 merks out of a forfeited estate, because of his bravery in the command of a regiment, raised at his own expense amongst his tenantry, at the Battle of Philiphaugh. 

On the ejectment of the minister in 1662, a curate was introduced the following year, when a serious riot occurred, which led to the imprisonment and punishment of several inhabitants, the Provost, ex-Provost, and Lord Kirkcudbright being carried prisoners to Edinburgh. 

After the defeat of the Covenanters at Pentland in 1666, Major McCulloch of Barholm, John Gordon of Knockbred, and his brother, Robert Gordon, were executed at Edinburgh, and their heads sent and exposed on the principal gate of Kirkcudbright. A stone points out the place of their interment. 

John Hallan was tried and executed here, and his remains rest in the churchyard. 

The tyrannical nature of Prelacy as an essential part of the system came out strongly here. Obtaining a warrant from the King’s inquisitorial court were appointed in each diocese, and Lydseff, Bishop of Galloway, exercised his authority with unrelenting severity. Alexander Gordon of Earlston was fined in absence and banished to Montrose, for refusing to put in the parish of Dalry the nominee of the bishop; and Robert Glendinning, minister of Kirkcudbright, aged seventy-nine, and the magistrates were, on the warrant of the bishop, confined in the gaol of Wigtown. This was because the minister would not admit of innovations in worship as commanded, and the magistrates declined to put him in prison. 

A remarkable encounter took place on the street near the door of an inn at the north end of the town in 1685. Viscount Kenmure, meeting Sir Robert Grierson of Lag there, accused him of cruelty. Lag retorted in offensive language, when Kenmure drew his sword and would have killed Lag had not Claverhouse interfered. This was on account of Lag having slain John Bell, of Whiteside, and others on the hill of Kirkconnel, and Kenmure was married to the heiress of Whiteside on the death of her first husband, the father of Mr. Bell. 

Traces of a battery on the eastern shore of the Bay of Kirkcudbright mark the windbound detention of the fleet of William III. on its way to Ireland to consolidate the Revolution. 

1 “The Morning Star,” a Treatise, &c. By the REV. JOHN WELSH. Nisbet and Co.; Simpkin, Marshall, and Co.; and Menzies and Co. 

– Weekly Review, Saturday 12th February, 1881, p. 11. 


Folks say that such an Institution is much wanted in the burgh. If formed, their aim in the first place should be to get the fish and ice house at the Little Moat Brae removed from the west side of the Provost’s warehouse, where it sticks like a barnacle to the building, and blocks the now limited view from the high Street – (the once ‘west end’ of Kirkcudbright), to the Twynholm hills. Their next effort should be towards staying the farther ruin of the Castle, the only remaining but of stone and lime of the once great clan McClellan. Part of the castle, when rehabilitated, should be formed into apartments for the Museum, and part for a Hall for the rifles. The members of the clan to be found in all civilized parts of the globe, and the people in the district, should go in for the movement. Let General McClellan, and the McClellans of America, come to the front. Parliament itself is about to pass an Act for the preservation of old buildings. The noble proprietor should be asked to feu, or grant a long lease of, the building and adjacent ground under proper restrictions and conditions. 

– Galloway News and Kirkcudbrightshire Advertiser, Friday 3rd March, 1882, p.3. 


AN interesting paper on the above subject by Mr James Shaw, Tynron, was read at the last monthly meeting of the Dumfries and Galloway Antiquarian Society. The early history of Kirkcudbrightshire, Mr Shaw wrote, points to a most unsettled state of matters. There was a continual flux and reflux of population in the County. It was an area in which men of different races and callings met and fought. Sometimes one race or clan was successful, sometimes another. their wars were carried on in barbarous fashion, the victor frequently aiming at nothing else than the extirpation of the vanquished. During the fifth century British tribes held the country. The Anglo Saxons next overran it, intermarrying with the natives. Colonists from Ireland made frequent descents, and ultimately overawed the inhabitants. Large swarms from the Irish hive in the ninth and tenth centuries and settlements of their kindred Scots from Cantyre, who arrived by sea, strengthened the Celtic invasion. Pre-Scandinavians confined themselves to settlements on the coast. From the Gaelic settlers is said to have come the name of Galloway. The Normans obtained a certain ascendancy in Galloway, but were never popular. After the Galloway contingent returned from England, having there witnessed William the Lion taken captive, the clan chieftains of them threw themselves upon the Galloway Normans, demolished their castles, slew their possessors of forced them to fly. Burton thinks this story likely to be true from the paucity of Norman names in Galloway. Alexander Comyn laid the foundation of his family’s extensive possessions in Kirkcudbrightshire. The success of Bruce soon afterwards was unfavourable to the Comyns. Galloway conferred upon Edward Bruce by his brother, King Robert. Edward Baliol, assisted by Edward III., obtained a strong footing in Galloway, and resided at Buittle. Sir William Douglas in 1353 overran Baliol’s territories, and compelled McDowall, the hereditary enemy of the Bruce, to change sides in politics. Archibald Douglas the Grim, the illegitimate son of the famous Sir James Douglas who fell at Otterburn, obtained in 1388 the superiority of Galloway. On an islet of the Dee and upon the site of an ancient fortlet, the residence of a former lord of Galloway, he constructed the substantial Castle of Threave, the ruins of which are still a figure in the landscape. From this Castle for nearly three-fourths of a century the Douglases ruled Kirkcudbrightshire with a rod of iron; but in 1454 or 1455 the Galloway possessions of this once powerful house went to the Crown. A Douglas descended from the younger branch of this great family was represented until lately by the Earl of Selkirk, at whose seat, St. Mary’s Isle, his sister, married to the Hon. Charles Hope, still resides in possession of the family estates. The name of Douglas has been perpetuated by an enterprising merchant whose lineage is unknown, so that we have Castle-Douglas, the original name being Causewayend. The same merchant changed Newton-Stewart into Newton-Douglas, but that name reverted. John, his son, married Mary, daughter of Sir John heron of Penninghame. His grandson, James obtained Orchardton, Rerwick, in 1788. Sarah Douglas, a descendant, died in 1874, aged 88, and Robinson succeeded, hence the name Robinson Douglas of the present proprietor. There are four small proprietors Douglas in Dalry – one tenant in Urr, and another in Dalry. the surname Douglas occurs very sparsely through the rest of the County. The Scoto-Irish family of the McDowalls were the original landlords of Galloway. In the reign of David I. the lordship was held by Fergus, a promoter of religion, to whom the monasteries of Tongland, Whithorn, and Soulseat, the Priory of St. Mary’s Isle, and the Abbey of Dundrennan owe their origin. His son, Uchtred, founded the beautiful Abbey of Lincluden. There are McDowalls proprietors in Rerwick. Girdstingwood was bought by McDowall from Cairns of Dundrennan. The name is not a common one in the Stewartry. The name McLellan does not appear in Galloway till the time of Wallace, but subsequently the rise of the family was rapid. Time has been kinder to the McGhies and McKies than to the McLellans. From twenty to thirty lairdships have belonged to persons of these names. They are truly representative Kirkcudbrightshire surnames. According to some authorities the name of Maxwell was originally a Scoto-Irish family, according to others a Norman. A large proportion of the landlords of this name trace their pedigree back to Roland and his Maxwell spouse. In Minnigaff and Twynholm we find many Stewarts, and although it bulks largely as a proprietary name it is by no means a common Kirkcudbrightshire surname. The Gordons are of Norman origin. As far as the Stewartry is concerned, the Gordons appear to have begun life at Kenmure, although Lochinvar, in Dalry, sometimes claims precedence. A branch of the family, Sir W. Gordon of Earlston and Carleton, Borgue, is descended from John Gordon of Airds, Kells, who acquired lands in Borgue in 1670, having been thus in possession for upwards of 200 years. The name Herries is poorly represented in the Stewartry, though of very old origin, a William de Heriz being mentioned as having sworn fealty to Edward I. The name of Shaw or Schaw is a surname of long standing, and in Balmaclellan are no fewer than eight in the valuation roll, mostly tenant farmers. Taking a general survey, the name Stewart is strong in the west, Maxwell in the east, and McLellan, McGhie, and McKie pretty much in the centre. In short, there remained after all changes and disasters a considerable representation in the Stewartry of some of the old names mixed up with the history of Scotland. 

– Dumfries & Galloway Courier and Herald, Wednesday 15th February, 1893, p.7. 

2. Not finding anything associated with even just the term “Kilnotrie”/”Culnotry”/”Culnotrie” for the 18th century. “Walbutt” brings up zero hits. First hit for Crossmichael is 1806, in relation to the castle. Most hits for “William Gordon” are associated with “Sir William Gordon,” with the majority of the others not having anything mentioned suggesting they’re the man you’re looking for, as they seem to be located in Leith or Old Aberdeen. Although this person seems to be in the right area to be our man; 

There is to be sold by voluntary Roup at the House of Baillie Henderson, or Mrs. Tod in Newgalloway upon the 20th November next, together or in Parcels, the Land of OCER-BAR and GLAISTERS, lying the Parish of Kirkpatrick and Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. Also the Lands of Meikle-Carleton, Inglistoun, Littletoun and Greenslack, lying in the Parish of Borgue, and Stewartry foresaid, belonging to Alexander Gordon of Carletoun and paying of free yearly Rent L.910 Scots, besides Casualties and Baillie work. the Rights and Conditions of Sale the said Lands of BAR and GLAISTERS are to be seen before the Sale in the Hands of John Goldie Writer in Dumfries, and the Rights and Conditions of Sale of the said other Lands, in the Hands of William Gordon of Campbeltoun in Kirkcudbright. 

– Caledonian Mercury, Tuesday 30th September, 1729, p.4. 

To the Creditors of Nathaniel and Alexander Gordons of CARLETON. 

That in the Process of Ranking and Sale of their Estate, depending before the Lords of Session, the Creditors are allowed to depone on the Verity of their Debts any time betwixt the 1st of November next; and for their greater Accommodation, a Commission is lodged in the hands of William Gordon of Campbelton Commissary of Kirkcudbright, where such of the Creditors as live in that Neighbourhood may have Access to depone any time betwixt and the 14th of October next; and from that Day to the 1st of November next, said Commission is to ly in the hands of John Hynd Commissary clerk of Drumfries for the Benefit of such Creditors as live in the Country about Drumfries: The Creditors are therefore desired to take the Benefit of the said Commission; with Certification, if they failzie, the Ranking will proceed without regard to such interests as shall not betwixt and said 1st of November next be deponed upon. 

N.B. This is the third Commission hath been allowed to the Creditors for the above Purpose; it is therefore expected they will not retard the Ranking any further. 

– Caledonian Mercury, Thursday 2nd October, 1740, p.4. 

That the Lands and Estate of CASSINCARRIE, and others, that belonged to the deceas’d William Muir of Cassincarrie at his Death, of about 100 l. Sterl. yearly Rent, lying within the Parish of Kirkmabrich and Stewartry of Kirkcudbright; Are to be exposed to voluntary Roup and Sale, within the Post-office of Minnigaff, upon the first Tuesday of May next. The Lands are very improveable, and provided with a good Mansion-house and Office-houses, and hold feu of the Crown. The Conditions of Roup are to be seen in the hands of William Gordon of Campeblton at Kirkcudbright, at the said Post-office of Minnigaff, and in the hands of Andrew Hunter Writer in Edinburgh, at his House in Brand’s Land in the Castlehill, where may be also seen the Progress. 

– Caledonian Mercury, Tuesday 12th April, 1743, p.4. 

&c., until 1772; 

THE CREDITORS of the deceased Mr ROBERT NAESMITH of Kirkcudbright, are desired to give in to John Russell, Clerk to the Signet, Edinburgh, or to William Gordon of Campbeltown, Esq; at Kirkcudbright, particular notes of the debts due to them by the defunct, mentioning the nature and dates of their securities, the principal sums, and from what time interest is due. 

This is not to be repeated. 

– Caledonian Mercury, Wednesday 30th September, 1772, p.3. 

3. First mention of a Gordon of Earlstoun is December, 1744; 

That the Creditors of Sir Thomas Gordon of EARLSTON, who have not entred to any Agreement or Composition of their Debts with him or his other Creditors, are hereby desired to meet at Loch’s Coffeehouse, Monday next, the 6th of February current, to concert such Measures as shall be thought proper and necessary for Recovery of their Debts. 

– Caledonian Mercury, Thursday 2nd February, 1744, p.2. 

First mention of a Gordon of Auchendolly is June, 1796; 

Died at Cocklick, on the 11th instant, AGNESS GORDON, spouse to John Muir, Esq. of Cocklick, and daughter of the late Robert Gordon, Esq. of Auchendolly. 

– Caledonian Mercury, Thursday 23 June, 1796, p.3. 

The first mention of both a Gordon of Earlston & a Gordon of Auchendolly is in 1838; 

RETIREMENT OF MR. CUTLAR FERGUSSON. – It is stated that Mr. C. Fergusson is about to retire, owing to bad health, from the representation of the stewartry of Kirkcudbright; and that Mr. Murray of Broughton, the late Liberal candidate for Wigtownshire, will, in this case, start as his successor. Mr. Murray, we confess, is not a business man, but is a thorough Liberal. The constituency is as independant [sic] as any in Scotland; and even the old electors had the honour, in days of Toryism (1826), to shake off the trammels of certain noble families, namely, those of Selkirk and Galloway, who had previously ruled over them in matters political. Whoever the stewartry electors may choose, they will not choose a Tory. They will carry a Reformer in despite of all opposition; and we have little doubt but that Broughton, who is a liberal landlord as well as a popular politician, will be the man. The venerable Lord Kenmure takes no interest in politics; so that his tenants and those under his influence will be left at perfect liberty. Many of the best landlords are liberal, such as Sir John Gordon of Earlston, Colonel Gordon of Culvennan, Mr. McMillan of Barwhinnock, Mr. Gordon of Auchendolly, M.P., Mr. Oswald of Auchencruive, and many others; while the inhabitants of Castle Douglas, Gatehouse, Dalbeattie, Auchencairn, Creetown, and other villages, are liberal to a man, and are sufficient of themselves to carry the reforming candidate. We regret that Mr. Cutlar Fergusson is about to retire – and we regret the cause more. He has had a seat in the House of Commons for 12 years; and his votes have ever been in favour of Reform, and in opposition to the enemies of the people. His valuable services will not soon be forgotten by his intelligent constituency. They owe him much, also, for leading them on to break the Tory phalanx in 1826. – Edinburgh Chronicle

– London Courier and evening Gazette, Monday 22nd October, 1838, p.3. 

There’s no connection between them made outside of this report which appeared in a few of the papers of the time. Without any further, earlier, information of these people I’d not be able to find out about any relationship the families had with each other. 

4. The state of play between lairds and their tenantry was that the barter system was to the forefront of their dealings. So, a tenant might give the laird x-amount of their produce per year, or plough/farm x-extent of the laird’s lands per year to sustain their own wee holdings. After the union the lords retained on the roll tended to head southwards to the new centralised seat of power in London, where they came into contact with those of the same station who had different expectations from those who held land of any extent on their grounds. The Scots at this time were super frugal and knew how to live on a budget, those down south, not so much, and so, these lords picked up bad habits and became more reliant on a need for money over goods in order to sustain a life that was to the expectations of their new peers in London. Then, after the 1745 Rebellion, in order to kill of the old system of tenure and the old feudal relationships between tenant and landlord, the lairds, who didn’t technically own their land, but were authorities over it and how it was divvyed up between the people, were told they were now landowners and could do what they liked with it. This led to the Improvements (also known as the Clearances). The people were told they now had to make the most of their produce in order to make as much money as possible in order to pay rents in cash instead of by goods and services. Those who couldn’t were extirpated from the land their ancestors had held for centuries. – See the “Clearances” link above where I explain more fully how this worked out. 

5. As to the riots over enclosures in Kirkcudbright; 

On Thursday last one James Rae, tenant in [lacuna] and William Falconer in [lacuna] two of the Levellers, were (by special Warrant of the Rt. Honourable His Majesty’s Advocate) committed to this City Prison, where they are now closs Prisoners. The Commitment bears their having unlawfully convocate themselves, with other their Accomplices, and in a riotous Manner, demolished the Inclosures, &c. of several Gentlemen of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, &c. as also, their having continued, to the Number of 12 or more, in the riotous Manner foresaid, after the Proclamation against Riots, &c. had been read to them. 

– Caledonian Mercury, Monday 20th July, 1724, p.6. 

With no further information on what happened to these rioters. It seemed to be a pretty localised event as I’m not finding other instances in the press.

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