1) KIRKCUDBRIGHT, a royal burgh and a parish, in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, of which it is the capital, 28 miles (S. W. by W.) from Dumfries, and 100 (S. W.) from Edinburgh; containing 3526 inhabitants, of whom 2692 are in the burgh. This place is supposed to have derived its name, originally Kirk-Cuthbert, from the dedication of its ancient church to the Northumbrian saint of that name; and a cemetery about a quarter of a mile to the east of the town still retains the appellation of St. Cuthbert's churchyard. Prior to the time of the Romans, this part of the country contained a chain of forts belonging to the Selgovae, of which Caerbantorigum, the principal border garrison of that people, and situated here, was taken by Agricola about the year 82. His successors retained possession of the district for nearly three centuries, and here formed the Roman station Benutium. During the minority of Malcolm IV., son of David I., Fergus, lord of Galloway, whose baronial castle was situated on an island in Loch Fergus, near the town, threw off his allegiance to the Scottish crown, and exercised a kind of sovereignty as an independent prince. Malcolm twice invaded Galloway, with a view to reduce him to obedience, without success; but, having greatly increased his army, he again attacked him in his dominions, and obtained a triumphant victory. Fergus resigned the lordship of Galloway in 1160, and, retiring into the abbey of Holyrood, upon which he had bestowed the churches and lands of Dunrod and Galtway, within the present parish of Kirkcudbright, died in the following year. He had married Elizabeth, daughter of Henry I. of England, and was ancestor of the families of Bruce and Baliol. Fergus was succeeded in the lordship by his two sons, Uchtred and Gilbert, between whom, according to the Celtic law, his dominions were equally divided. The former, who gave the church of Kirk-Cuthbert to the monks of Holyrood, resided in the castle of Loch Fergus; but in 1174 he was attacked there, and inhumanly murdered, by his brother Gilbert. The last of the male line of the ancient lords was Allan, who died in his castle of Kirkcudbright, and was interred in the abbey of Dundrennan, founded by Fergus, his great-grandfather.
   During the competition for the crown of Scotland between Bruce and Baliol, the castle of Kirkeudbright was delivered, by mandate of Edward I. of England, who had been appointed umpire, to Baliol, to whom he awarded the crown. The next event of importance relates to Wallace, who, subsequently to his defeat at the battle of Falkirk, sailed from this town for France, accompanied by Mac Lellan of Bombie, and fifty of his adherents; and soon after, Edward, with his queen and court, remained for ten days in the castle of Kirkcudbright, whence he shipped large quantities of grain into England and Ireland, to be ground for the supply of his army. Some time afterwards, Edward Bruce, having subdued Galloway for his brother, received, in acknowledgment of his services, the lordship, together with the castle of Kirkcudbright and the whole of Baliol's forfeited possessions; the lordship passed subsequently by intermarriage to the family of Douglas. In the reign of James II., a sanguinary battle took place near the town, when the retainers of Sir John Herries, who, assisted by Mac Lellan of Bombie, had invaded the territories of Douglas to recover compensation for robberies committed by the dependents of that powerful chieftain, were totally defeated. Sir John was made prisoner, and executed; and the conquerors, having obtained admittance into the castle of Raeberry, the residence of the Bombie family, seized the chieftain, whom they carried off to Threave Castle, and beheaded. The king, about three years after this event, visited Kirkcudbright, while making preparations for the siege of Threave Castle, the last stronghold of the Douglases, in which siege he was assisted by the inhabitants; and for this service he conferred upon the town, which had been previously a burgh of regality, all the privileges of a royal burgh, by charter dated at Perth, the 26th October, 1455. After the battle of Towton in 1461, the town afforded an asylum to Henry VI. of England and his queen, who resided here till their departure for Edinburgh; and on the 16th April, 1462, the queen, with a convoy of four Scottish ships, sailed from this port to Bretagne, leaving Henry with a small retinue, who returned to England in 1463.
   James IV., in one of his pilgrimages to the shrine of St. Ninian, at Whithorn, visited the town, in 1501. In 1507, it was nearly destroyed by the Earl of Derby, who, at the head of a large body of Manxmen, made a descent on the shores of Galloway. James again visited the town in 1508, and was hospitably received by the burgesses, to whom he granted the castle of Kirkcudbright, and the lands appertaining to it, which had reverted to the crown, on the forfeiture of the Douglases. In 1513, many of the inhabitants, under the command of Sir William Mac Lellan of Bombie, attended James to the battle of Flodden, and fell with their leader on the field. In 1523, the Duke of Albany, Regent of Scotland, landed here from Brest, and was joyfully received. During the minority of Mary, Queen of Scots, the town was summoned by the English forces who had gained possession of Dumfries to acknowledge the authority of Edward VI. This summons, however, the inhabitants refused to obey; and having barred their gates, and secured their dykes, Mac Lellan of Bombie, at the head of a party of his retainers, attacked the assailants, who, having made some unavailing efforts, retired to Dumfries. After the battle of Langside, Mary, accompanied by Lord Herries and his followers, retreated into Galloway, and remained for three days in the district, previously to proceeding to England. James VI. visited the place while in pursuit of Lord Maxwell, who had arrived here from Spain to arm his followers in aid of the Spanish descent; and the king presented to the corporation a miniature silver musket, to be given as a prize to the most successful competitor in shooting at the target, in order to induce improvement in the use of fire-arms. Charles I., on his visit to Scotland, conferred upon Sir Robert Mac Lellan of Bombie the title of Lord Kirkcudbright, and granted to the burgh a new charter, vesting the government in a provost, two bailies, a treasurer, and thirteen councillors, which charter is still partially in force.
   The town, which anciently consisted only of one irregular street leading down to the harbour, and was encompassed by a wall and fosse, of which there are still some vestiges remaining, has been greatly extended and improved, and, being surrounded by a tract of richly-wooded country, has a pleasing appearance. It now consists of several well-formed streets, intersecting each other at right angles; the principal are, High-street, Castle-street, and St. Cuthbert's and Union streets, the two former leading to the river Dee, which bounds the town on the west. The houses, most of which are modern, are neatly built; and among them are many handsome residences of opulent families, contributing greatly to the appearance of the town. The streets are lighted with gas, from works established by a company in 1838; and the inhabitants are amply supplied with excellent water from springs about half a mile distant, conveyed by pipes laid down in 1763. A public library, founded in 1777, is still supported by subscription, though containing a very small collection of volumes; and two circulating libraries are remaining, but nearly superseded by the publication of cheap periodicals. A public reading and news room, also, is supplied with Scottish and English newspapers. Although formerly celebrated for its extensive manufactures of gloves, boots and shoes, soap, candles, and leather, the town has at present very little trade; and the only manufactures now carried on are, that of hosiery, and the weaving of cotton, upon a limited scale: there is now no brewery. As a sea-port, however, the town derives a moderate traffic from the importation of coal and other commodities for the supply of the neighbouring district.
   There are two harbours, both commodious and safe. The one at the town, formed by the river Dee, which is here about 500 feet wide, has a depth of thirty feet at spring, and of from twenty to twenty-five feet at neap, tides; and below it is a ford across the river, which at some particular times has only a depth of a foot and a half of water. Vessels frequently deliver their cargoes on the beach, and take in their lading in a dock which is partly of wood and partly of stone. The other harbour is at Torr's or Manxman's lake, about two and a half miles from the mouth of the river, where almost any number of vessels may ride in safety: in front of the entrance, however, there is a bar, over which ordinary vessels cannot pass till half-flood, when there is a depth of ten or twelve feet water on it. A lighthouse on the island of Little Ross, of which the lantern, about fifty feet above the level of the sea at high water, exhibits a revolving light visible at a great distance, forms a guide to the entrance; and by keeping this and two towers in a right line, strange vessels may safely enter the haven. The number of vessels registered as belonging to the port is twenty-six, of the aggregate burthen of 922 tons; and according to the custom-house returns, fifty-four vessels, of 2069 tons in the aggregate, entered the harbour, and the creeks of Kirkcudbright, in a recent year. The chief imports are, coal and lime from Cumberland, and groceries, haber-dashery, iron, lead, slates and freestone, bone-dust, guano, and various wares, from Liverpool and other ports; there is no foreign trade, and seldom more than one cargo of wood is annually imported. The exports are, corn, meal, potatoes, turnips, beans, black-cattle, sheep, wool, salmon, and grass-seeds; the amount of wool shipped in 1842 was 7840 stone, and in the same year were exported 721 head of black-cattle and 12,000 sheep. A little above the harbour is a ferry across the river, for horses and carriages, for which a convenient flat-bottomed boat has been constructed.
   The Dee abounds with excellent salmon, for which there are three fisheries. One of these, belonging to Alexander Murray, Esq., produced some short time since a rental of £700 per annum; another, the property of the Earl of Selkirk, £150; and the third, belonging to the burgh, a rental of £80. Considerable quantities, also, of cod and other fish are taken off the coasts. A market is held weekly, on Friday, but is not much frequented; and a market for provisions every Tuesday. Fairs, chiefly for hiring servants, are held on the last Friday in March and September; and for general business on the 12th of August, if on Friday, otherwise on the Friday following. There are branches of the Bank of Scotland and the Western Bank established in the town; also a branch of the National-Security Savings' Banks. The post-office has two deliveries daily; and facility of communication is afforded by roads kept in excellent order, and by two bridges over the Dee between Kirkcudbright and Tongland, the one, which is still in good repair, erected about the year 1730, at an expense of £400, and the other, of one arch of 110 feet in span, erected in 1808, at an expense of £7350. Two steamers sail weekly to Liverpool in summer, and every fortnight during the winter, and are of great benefit.
   The burgh, under its charter, is governed by a provost, two bailies, a treasurer, and a council of thirteen members, chosen under the provisions of the Municipal Reform act; and the municipal and parliamentary boundaries, which are nearly identical, comprise the whole of the royalty. There are six incorporated trades, the squaremen, tailors, clothiers, hammermen and glovers, shoemakers, and weavers; the fees of admission as members vary from £1 to £1. 10. for sons and apprentices of freemen, and from £3 to £6 for strangers. The revenues of the corporation, arising from lands, the fishery, ferry, and harbour dues, average about £1000 per annum. The magistrates exercise civil and criminal jurisdiction; but, as the seat of the sheriff's court is within the burgh, very few cases of the former are brought under their consideration, and the latter kind of jurisdiction is chiefly confined to petty cases of misdemeanor. The burgh is associated with those of Dumfries, Annan, Lochmaben, and Sanquhar, in returning a member to the imperial parliament; the right of election is vested in the £10 householders, of whom there are 150, and there are about 205 whose rents are above £5 and under £10. The county-hall and gaol, erected in 1816, at an expense of £5000, form a handsome range of building in the castellated style, with a lofty tower; the hall and court-room are elegantly decorated, and the gaol is under excellent regulation. On the opposite side of the High-street are the old gaol and courthouse, a curious building, near which is the ancient market-cross, with a pair of jougs for the punishment of delinquents, and the date 1054.
   Ancient Seal.
   The parish includes the ancient parishes of Galtway and Dunrod, which, on the dilapidation of their churches, were annexed to it in 1683. It is bounded on the south by the Solway Frith, and is about eight miles in length, and three and a half in breadth, comprising an area of 15,000 acres, of which 3000 are arable, 500 meadow and pasture, 500 woodland and plantations, and the remainder hilly moor, affording tolerable pasturage for sheep and cattle. The surface is diversified; on the shores of the Dee it is tolerably level, but in some other parts rises by continued undulations to a height of 400 feet above the level of the sea. The river, after uniting with the streams of the Deugh and the Ken, forms a boundary of the parish, and joins the Frith at Kirkcudbright bay; it flows through a romantic tract of country, between banks of rugged and precipitous rocks clothed with wood, and makes some picturesque cascades. It is navigable for ships of any burthen to Kirkcudbright, and to the lower bridge of Tongland for vessels of 200 tons. There are several burns in the parish, in which are found abundance of yellow trout, and, towards the end of autumn, sea-trout and herling; and near the farms of Culdoch and Jordieland is a lake abounding with trout equal to those of Loch Leven.
   The soil is principally a clay loam, alternated with moss; in some parts of a dry and gravelly quality, and in others of unrivalled fertility. The crops are, oats, barley, wheat, potatoes, and turnips; the system of agriculture is improved; the lands have been well drained and inclosed, and the farm-buildings generally are substantially built. The cattle are mostly of the Galloway breed, and are reared in considerable numbers, as are also the sheep, which are mainly the Leicestershire breed. The substrata of the parish are chiefly greywacke, porphyry, and trap; and near the shore are found boulders of granite and greenstone. There is but little indigenous wood. The plantations are usually oak, ash, elm, beech, plane, Spanish chestnut, larch, spruce, and Scotch and silver fir; they are well managed, and in a thriving state, and on some of the lands are various other varieties, including walnut, birch, alder, maple, laburnum, poplar, and willow. The rateable annual value of the parish is £11,541. St. Mary's Isle, the seat of the Earl of Selkirk, is beautifully situated a mile to the south of the town, on what was formerly an island, but is now a peninsula projecting into the bay of Kirkcudbright; it was the site of a priory founded by Fergus, lord of Galloway, for Augustine monks, and dedicated to St. Mary. There are still remaining some portions of the ancient priory, incorporated in the present noble mansion, which is embosomed in a demesne enriched with stately timber, and commanding some highly-interesting and diversified prospects. The houses of Balmae, Janefield, St. Cuthbert's Cottage, and Fludha, are handsome residences finely situated.
   The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Kirkcudbright and synod of Galloway. The minister's stipend is £281. 10., with an allowance of £50 in lieu of manse, and a glebe valued at £18 per annum; patron, the Crown. The church, which is one of the most elegant ecclesiastical structures in the country, was erected in 1838, at an expense of £7000, towards which the Earl of Selkirk contributed more than £4000; the interior is well arranged, and contains 1500 sittings. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, and the United Secession. The Kirkcudbright academy is under a rector and two other masters, all appointed by the corporation, who pay to the rector a salary of £60, and to each of the others £50, in addition to the fees. The course of instruction includes the classics, mathematics, and the whole routine of a commercial education; the number of scholars is 200 on the average. The buildings, which were erected in 1815, on a site given by the Earl of Selkirk, were completed at an expense of £1129, and contain three large class-rooms, a library, and other apartments: in front is a piazza, for the use of the pupils in unfavourable weather. Two parochial schools are maintained, of which the masters have a salary of £25. 13. each, with a house and garden. There are also a school for females, of which the mistress receives £20 per annum from the funds of the burgh; and a school, of which the master has £10 per annum paid jointly by the burgh and by the Countess of Selkirk; with various other schools partly endowed; and a Sabbath school under the superintendence of the minister, in which are about 300 children. Some vestiges remain of the ancient churches of Galtway and Dunrod, of which the cemeteries are still used as places of sepulture. Loch Fergus has been drained, and nothing is now left of the original castle of the lords of Galloway; but there are some remains of that of Kirkcudbright, also a fortress of the lords. The castle at Bombie, from which the Mac Lellans took their title, is now a heap of ruins; they had a second castle at Raeberry, situated on a precipitous rock overhanging the Solway Frith, but the site and fosse alone remain. There are numerous vestiges of British forts; a Roman vase was lately discovered at Castledykes; and near Drummore Castle was found, about the commencement of the last century, a plate of pure gold, valued at £20.
   2) KIRKCUDBRIGHT, Stewartry of, a district, in the south of Scotland, bounded on the north and north-east by the county of Dumfries; on the north and north-west by the county of Ayr; on the south and south-east by the Solway Frith; and on the south-west by the county and bay of Wigton. It lies between 54° 43' and 55° 19' (N. Lat.) and 3° 33' and 4° 34' (W. Long.), and is forty-eight miles in length, from east to west, and thirty miles in extreme breadth; comprising an area of about 882 square miles, or 564,480 acres; 8485 houses, of which 8162 are inhabited; and containing a population of 41,119, of whom 18,856 are males, and 22,263 females. This district, which, from its ancient teuure, is called a stewartry, though to all purposes a county, occupies the eastern portion of the ancient province of Galloway; and prior to the Roman invasion of Britain, was principally inhabited by the British tribe of the Novantes. The Romans, on their invasion of the island, erected several stations in the district of Galloway, and constructed various roads; but, though they maintained something like a settlement in this part of the country, which they included in their province of Valentia, they were not able completely to reduce the original inhabitants under their dominion. After the departure of the Romans from Britain, the county, owing to its proximity to the Isle of Man and the Irish coast, became the resort of numerous settlers from those parts, who, intermingling with the natives, formed a distinct people, subject to the government of a chieftain that exercised a kind of subordinate sovereignty under the kings of Northumbria, or kings of Scotland, to whom they paid a nominal allegiance. Upon the death of Allan, Lord of Galloway, in the thirteenth century, the country, distracted by the continual struggles of the various competitors for its government, fell under the power of Alexander II., King of Scotland; and on the subsequent marriage of Devorgilla, one of Allan's daughters, with the ancestor of Baliol, King of Scotland, it became the patrimonial property of that family. During the contest between Baliol and Bruce for the crown, the province was the frequent scene of hostilities; and from the attachment of the inhabitants to the cause of Baliol, it suffered severely. Ultimately it became the property of the Douglas family, on whose attainder it escheated to the crown, and was divided by James II. among several proprietors.
   The stewartry of Kirkcudbright was for some time included in the county of Dumfries, and was under the jurisdiction of the same sheriff; but every vestige of that connexion was lost prior to the time of Charles I., since which period it has, to all intents, formed a distinct and independent county, though still retaining its ancient appellation. Previously to the Reformation, the district was part of the diocese of Galloway; it is now mostly included in the synod of Galloway, and comprises the presbytery of Kirkcudbright and parts of others, and twenty-eight parishes. For civil purposes, it is under the jurisdiction of a sheriff, or stewart, by whom a stewart-substitute is appointed. The courts of quarter-session are held at Kirkcudbright in March, May, August, and October; there are courts at the same place for the recovery of small debts, on the second Tuesday in every month. Small-debt courts are held also at New Galloway, Maxwelltown, Castle-Douglas, and Creetown; and there are different courts of other descriptions. Kirkcudbright, which is the chief town, and New Galloway, are royal burghs in the stewartry; and in addition to the towns above-enumerated, are the town of Gatehouse of Fleet and some inconsiderable hamlets. By the Act of the 2d and 3d of William IV., the stewartry returns one member to the imperial parliament; the number of qualified voters is 1336.
   Of the lands, about one-third are arable, and the remainder principally mountain pasture, moorland, and waste. The surface is strikingly varied, and towards the coast is diversified with numerous hills of moderate height, generally of bleak and rugged aspect, and interspersed with masses of projecting rock. In other parts are mountains of lofty elevation, of which the principal are, the Criffel, rising 1900 feet above the level of the sea, and the Cairnsmore and Cairnbarrow, nearly of equal height. The mountainous district is intersected with valleys of great fertility, and in a high state of cultivation. Many of the hills are easy of ascent, and afford rich pasturage for cattle and sheep; and some, which are of more moderate elevation, are cultivated to their summit. The rivers are, the Dee, the Ken, the Cree, and the Urr. The Dee has its source in the western part of the stewartry, on the confines of Ayrshire, and, flowing south-eastward, pursues an irregular course for about forty miles; it forms in its progress some picturesque cascades, becomes navigable at Tongland for vessels of 200 tons' burthen, and falls into the bay at Kirkcudbright. The Ken rises in the north-west part of the stewartry, and, after a south-easterly course of several miles, expands into the loch to which it gives name, and shortly forms a confluence with the Dee. The river Cree has its source on the confines of Ayrshire, and, flowing south-easterly, forms a boundary between the stewartry and the county of Wigton; it runs past Newton-Stewart, on the east, and falls into the creek at the head of Wigton bay. This river abounds with smelts; and, for several miles in the latter part of its course through a district abounding with romantic scenery, is navigable for small vessels. The Urr has its source in the lake of that name, on the northern boundary of the stewartry, and, after a course of nearly thirty miles through a pleasant and richly-wooded strath, falls into the Solway Frith nearly opposite to the island of Hestan. There are various lessimportant streams, of which some are navigable for small craft; the chief are the Fleet, the Tarf, the Deugh, and the Cluden. Numerous lakes, also, adorn the county, but few of sufficient extent to require particular notice; the principal is Loch Ken, nearly five miles in length, and about half a mile in breadth.
   The whole of the district appears to have been at a very early period in a forward state of cultivation; and during the war of the Scots with Edward I. of England, it furnished the chief supplies of grain for the subsistence of the English army after the conquest of Galloway. In the subsequent periods of intestine strife, however, it fell into a state of neglect, in which it remained till the commencement of the eighteenth century, since which time it has been gradually improving. The soil is generally a brown loam of small depth, alternated with sand, and resting usually on a bed of gravel or rock. In some parts a clayey loam is prevalent; in others are large quantities of flow-moss of considerable depth, which are supposed to be convertible into a rich soil, a very wide tract of such land having been rendered productive within the last thirty years. The crops are, oats, barley, potatoes, turnips, and the different green crops; the farms on the arable lands vary from 150 to 500 acres in extent, and those on the moors from 4000 to 5000 acres. The rotation plan of husbandry is adopted; the lands have been drained, and inclosed principally with stone fences, called Galloway dykes. Some of the farm-buildings, however, are of rather inferior order, and only roofed with thatch. The cattle, of which more than 50,000 head are annually pastured, are of the Galloway breed; and great attention is paid to their improvement. The sheep, of which upwards of 180,000 are fed on the moorland farms, are of the Highland black-faced breed, with some of the Lowland breeds, of small stature, white-faced, and bearing very fine fleeces; these are supposed to be of Spanish origin. Great numbers of swine are also reared, and form a valuable stock; the horses, of which more than 6000 are bred, though not pure Galloways, are much esteemed. Numbers of horses, cattle, and sheep are shipped off for various markets.
   There are no remains of the ancient forests with which the district formerly abounded, except a few trees on the banks of some of the streams; but considerable plantations have been formed on the lands of the various proprietors, and in other parts, which have added greatly to the appearance of the country. The minerals, on account of the scarcity of coal, have not been rendered available to any profitable extent; copper is wrought near Gatehouse of Fleet by an English company, and lead-mines were formerly in operation in the parish of Minnigaff. Iron-ore is found in abundance, but, from the want of coal, is of little value; the limestone and coal used here are all brought from Cumberland. Indications of coal, and also of limestone, have been perceived on the lands of Arbigland, in the parish of Kirkbean; but no mines have as yet been opened. The manufacture of linen, cotton, and woollen goods is carried on to a considerable extent in the towns and villages; but the principal trade of the district, which is almost entirely pastoral or agricultural, is the large export of cattle, sheep, and grain, for which the facility of steam navigation affords ample opportunity. The salmon-fisheries at the mouths of the various rivers are highly productive, and the Solway Frith abounds with fish of every kind; but little benefit is derived from this source, and comparatively few fishermen's cottages are to be found upon the shores. The coast is generally precipitous, with intervals of low shelving sands; and the navigation is for the most part dangerous, though some of the bays afford safe anchorage. The harbour of Kirkcudbright is easy of access, and affords secure shelter from all winds; it has a considerable depth at high water. About two miles from the small island of Little Ross, at the mouth of Kirkcudbright harbour, and on which a lighthouse has been erected, is a fine bay called Manxman's lake, in which 100 vessels of large burthen can ride in safety. Communication with Liverpool is maintained by steamers, which sail regularly from the port. The rateable annual value of the real property in the county is £193,801, of which £182,926 are for lands, £9444 for houses, £1204 for fisheries, and £227 for quarries.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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