KIRKBEAN, a parish, in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, 12 miles (S.) from Dumfries; containing, with the villages of Carsethorn and Preston-Mill, 891 inhabitants, of whom 91 are in the village of Kirkbean. This parish, of which the name, in the Gaelic language, is descriptive of the situation of its church at the foot of a mountain, is bounded on the east and south by the Solway Frith, and is about six miles in length and three in average breadth, comprising nearly 11,000 acres, of which 5000 are arable, and the remainder hill pasture, plantation, moorland, and waste. The surface is mountainous and rugged, especially towards the west, where are lofty ridges of hills terminating in the height of Criffel to the north, which has an elevation of 1900 feet above the sea. From Criffel the land slopes gradually towards the shore, which is tolerably level, and in a high state of cultivation. The hill commands from its summit very extensive and varied prospects, embracing views of Annan, Carlisle, Dumfries, Castle-Douglas, and the Isle of Man; and in favourable weather the mountains of North Wales, and the north coast of Ireland, may be indistinctly seen. The coast is generally low and sandy, but interspersed with rocky precipices of considerable elevation, in one of which, near Arbigland House, is a naturally-formed arch of romantic appearance; the principal bay is that of Carse, and the most prominent headlands are Borron Point and Saturness.
   The soil in some parts is light and sandy; in others of greater depth and fertility; and a considerable tract of land, recovered from the sea by an embankment constructed by the late Mr. Oswald, has been brought into profitable cultivation. The crops are, oats, barley, wheat, potatoes, and turnips; the rotation system of husbandry is practised, and guano has been introduced as manure. Much improvement has been, and continues to be, made by draining the lands, which are also well inclosed; many of the farms are extensive, and the farm houses and offices are substantial, and kept in good repair. The hill pastures are stocked usually with sheep of the Cheviot breed, and great attention is paid to the rearing of live stock; the cattle are of the native breed, with the exception of the cows on the dairy-farms, which are Ayrshire. There is little ancient wood, and the plantations are far from being extensive. The substrata are chiefly white granite, of which most of the rocks are composed, and limestone and sandstone of a coarse kind; the limestone is of inferior quality, though well adapted for building purposes. Indications of coal have been observed, but not holding out sufficient inducement to operation. The rateable annual value of the parish is £5758. Arbigland House is a handsome mansion, situated near the coast, in a tastefully-embellished demesne; Cavens is also a handsome residence, belonging to the Oswald family. The village of Kirkbean stands on the estuary of the Nith, in a beautifully-rural valley, and consists of pleasing cottages kept in the neatest order, and surrounded by thriving plantations; there is a post daily to Dumfries, and facility of communication is afforded by the turnpike-road to Dumfries, which passes through the parish. At Saturness, on the coast, are several small cottages, which, during the season, are inhabited by respectable families for the purpose of sea-bathing; and at Preston-Farm there was anciently situated a village which possessed the various rights and privileges of a burgh of regality, and of which the ancient cross is still remaining. At Carsethorn, also a bathing-village, steam-packets touch twice a week, in their passage from Dumfries to White-haven and Liverpool; and vessels anchor safely in its bay when they cannot proceed so far as the harbour of Dumfries.
   The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery and synod of Dumfries. The minister's stipend is £202. 12. 8., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £18 per annum; patron, the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry. The church, erected in 1776, is a commodious and handsome structure, with a tower crowned by a dome, the latter erected by subscription in 1835; it is beautifully situated in the vale, and its site is adorned with clumps of plantation on little knolls surrounding it. The members of the Free Secession have a place of worship. The parochial school affords instruction to about seventy children; the master has a salary of two chalders of meal, with a house and garden, and the interest of a bequest of £608. 4., producing £24. 6. 6., for which sum he teaches thirty poor children gratuitously: the fees average £28 per annum. There is also a school, about three miles distant from the former; the master has the interest of a bequest of £400 by Messrs. Marshall, of Glasgow, to which £100 have been added by the present minister. The poor have the interest of various bequests, amounting in the aggregate to £350. At Wreaths, and also at Cavens, are some remains of castellated buildings, of which the latter was the property, and occasionally the residence, of the Regent Morton; and at Borron Point are vestiges of an ancient moat and ditch called Mc Culloch's Castle, of which the history is unknown. Among the distinguished natives of the parish have been, Admiral John Campbell, who accompanied Commodore Anson in his voyage of circumnavigation, born here in 1719, while his father was minister of the parish; and the late Dr. Edward Milligan, lecturer on medical science in Edinburgh, who died in 1833, at the age of 47. John Paul, better known as the notorious Paul Jones, and whose father was gardener at Arbigland, was also a native.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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