- KIRKLISTON, a parish, partly in the county of Edinburgh, but chiefly in that of Linlithgow; containing, with the villages of Newbridge, Niddry, and Winchburgh, 2489 inhabitants, of whom 440 are in the village of Kirkliston, 2½ miles (S.) from South Queensferry. This parish, of which about one-fourth lies in the county of Edinburgh, and three-fourths in that of Linlithgow, was formerly called Temple-Liston, an appellation partly acquired from the knights Templars, who obtained the chief lands in the twelfth century. The ancient name of Liston is supposed to have been derived from some considerable family residing here, or from the Celtic term lioston, signifying "an inclosure on the side of a river," and exactly answering to the locality. Authentic information relating to the history of Kirkliston reaches back to the year 995, when a battle was fought between Kenneth, natural brother, and commander of the army, of Malcolm II., king of Scotland, and Constantine, the usurper of the crown. The antique monument here, called the Cat-stane, is said to have been erected in memory of this battle, in which both the generals were slain. In 1298, Edward I. of England, when marching to engage the Scots at Falkirk, rested for some time with his army close to the village of Kirkliston; and the field in which the king's tent was pitched is still shown, immediately to the south-west of the village, on the property of Newliston. Upon the dissolution of the fraternity of Knights Templars, the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem became owners of their large estates in this district, which they held till the Reformation, when the whole were converted into a temporal lordship in favour of Sir James Sandilands, the chief of their order. At an early period, a bishop of St. Andrew's obtained possession of the church, with the village, mill, and some contiguous lands called the Mains, or demesne, and kirk-lands of Kirkliston. Afterwards, the bishops acquired a regal jurisdiction over their estates on the southern side of the Forth, and made Liston the seat of authority, where the hall in which their bailie held his courts was standing so late as the year 1700. On the abolition of hereditary jurisdictions in 1748, the Earl of Hopetoun claimed £1500 for the regality of St. Andrew's south of the Forth. The estate of Newliston, in 1543, fell to the family of Dundas, of Craigton, who enjoyed it till the Revolution, when it came to the Dalrymples, by the marriage of Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Dundas, with the second viscount of Stair, who, in 1703, was created Earl of Stair and Lord Newliston.The parish is 5½ miles in length, from east to west, and 4½ in breadth, from north to south; and contains 7722 acres. It is bounded on the north and north-east by the parish of Dalmeny; on the north and north-west by Abercorn; on the west and south-west by Uphall, Mid-Calder, Ecclesmachen, and a detached portion of Dalmeny, named Auldcathie; on the south by Kirknewton and Ratho; and on the east by Corstorphine and Cramond. A detached part of the parish, called Liston-Shiels, and lying on the slope of the Pentland hills, is included for ecclesiastical purposes in the parish of Kirknewton. The river Almond, rising in Lanarkshire, and entering this parish at the south-western point, winds for about four miles and a-half to the village of Kirkliston, and then runs towards the north-east for a mile and a-half, when it passes into the parish of Cramond, and falls into the Frith of Forth at the village of that name. The soil varies throughout from a strong clay to a rich dark mould, in different admixtures and proportions. On the banks of the river, and on the neighbouring haughs, it consists of alluvial deposits, forming in some places a fertile loam, capable, with good husbandry, of producing the best crops. By far the larger part of the ground is under tillage; the wood, plantations, and permanent pasture bearing but a small proportion to the arable districts. On the estates of Newliston, Clifton Hall, Carlowrie, Niddry, Humbie, and Foxhall, a considerable quantity of ancient timber may be seen; and in different parts are some young clumps of beech, ash, elm, and fir; but, with these exceptions, and exclusive of the lawns belonging to the mansions of the gentry, the whole of the lands are cultivated, and distinguished by good inclosures. All kinds of grain, with potatoes, turnips, and the several grasses, are produced. Few parishes have made such rapid improvements in agriculture within the last half century as this, the whole face of the district having been completely changed by the consolidation of small farms, the introduction of extended leases, inclosures, superior drainage, and manuring, with the rotation system, modified to suit every peculiarity of soil. The cattle are generally a cross between the Teeswater and Ayrshire breeds, though Ayrshire cows are preferred for the dairy; the sheep are the black-faced, Cheviots, and Leicesters. Few sheep and cattle, however, are kept, as the ground is turned to better account. The rocks in the parish are chiefly sandstone, limestone, and trap, and ironstone and shale are found in large quantities: coal is supposed to exist, but none has yet been discovered. On the farm of Humbie is a quarry which produces a beautiful and durable stone, suited to a superior class of buildings. The rateable annual value of the parish is £3966.The mansion of Newliston, the chief seat, and the residence of the Hog family, is a large and elegant house, built at the close of the last century; it stands in the midst of extensive pleasure-grounds and plantations, disposed in a somewhat original style. Clifton Hall, built a great many years since, is the seat of Sir Alexander Maitland Gibson, Bart., a family of considerable antiquity; and Carlowrie, an ancient mansion, is the residence of the Falconers. The principal villages are, Kirkliston and Winchburgh in the county of Linlithgow, and Newbridge in the county of Edinburgh. At the extremity of that of Kirkliston is a distillery, established about 25 years ago; but, with the exception of the hands here employed, and those engaged in domestic trades, the whole population are occupied in agriculture. A fair is held at Kirkliston on the last Tuesday in July, and one at the village of Winchburgh on the first Friday in June, at neither of which, however, is any business transacted. There is a post-office, receiving and despatching letters once every day. Three turnpike-roads run through the parish, viz. the road from Edinburgh to Stirling, and to Glasgow by Falkirk, which passes through the village; the road from Edinburgh to Glasgow by Bathgate; and the road from Queensferry to the last-mentioned road. On all these a number of coaches, as well as carriers, formerly travelled. The Union canal also intersects the parish, and is conveyed over the river Almond by an aqueduct. There are two good bridges, likewise, over the Almond, one of which is on the line of the Stirling road, and the other on the middle road to Glasgow. The railroad between Edinburgh and Glasgow crosses the Almond, near the village of Kirkliston, by a splendid stone viaduct, one of the most extensive works of the kind on the line: this viaduct is 720 yards in length, twenty-eight feet in width, and fifty feet above the level of the water, resting upon thirty-six segmental arches, each of seventy-five feet span, with piers seven feet in thickness, the whole presenting a very noble appearance. At Winchburgh the railway passes through a tunnel 330 yards in length, twenty-six feet in breadth, and twenty-two in height, the second in extent of the five on the line.The ecclesiastical affairs are directed by the presbytery of Linlithgow and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale, and the patronage is in the Crown. The stipend of the minister is £285. 10. including £5. 11. feu-fees from the lands of Hallyards, an annual gift of the crown; with a manse, built in 1692, and repaired and enlarged in 1838, and a glebe of seven acres of land, valued at £30 per annum. The church, thoroughly repaired in 1822, will accommodate 700 persons, and is furnished with a fine-toned bell, which is rung every evening at eight o'clock, and every morning at five in summer and six in winter. This is an ancient structure, formerly belonging to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, and supposed to have been built in the twelfth century. The members of the Free Church have also a place of worship. There is a parochial school, at which the usual branches of education are taught; the master has the maximum salary, with the fees, and a house and garden. In 1798 a friendly society was established, the benefit of which to the sick members and the widows of members has been very considerable. Among the antiquities of Kirkliston, one of the chief is the monument erected to perpetuate the battle between Kenneth and Constantine, already noticed. At Clifton, under an old cot-house, was found, some time since, an earthen money-box containing between 300 and 400 silver coins of England and Scotland; and near this spot was discovered a gold coin, about fifteen feet under the ground, with the inscription Robertus II., Rex Scotorum. In the south-western part of the parish, on the Hopetoun estate, is an ancient baronial residence named II-Liston, supposed to have been a hunting-seat of James II., James IV., and other kings. About two miles west of the village of Kirkliston stands Niddry Castle, a fine ruin, formerly possessed by the earls of Wintoun, and where Queen Mary is said to have slept when on her flight from Lochleven to join her supporters at Hamilton, on the 2nd of May, 1568. Andrew Dalzel, professor of Greek in the university of Edinburgh, was a native of this parish; and the celebrated John, 2nd earl of Stair, who succeeded to the estate of Newliston, in 1725, has left behind him lasting memorials of skill, spirit, and perseverance, in the agricultural improvements introduced here under his immediate auspices. Indeed, the superior state of husbandry attained in this district may be fairly traced to the efforts of this distinguished nobleman. There are several springs in the parish, impregnated with lime, iron, and magnesia.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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