Kirkmichael

   1) KIRKMICHAEL, a parish, in the district of Carrick, county of Ayr; containing, with the village of Crosshill, 2933 inhabitants, of whom 499 are in the village of Kirkmichael, 3 miles (E. by S.) from Maybole. This place, which derives its name from the dedication of its church, appears to have been at an early period part of the possessions of the Kennedy family, to whose ancestor a grant of the lands was confirmed by charter of David II., about the year 1360. By the marriage of Sir James Kennedy with the daughter of Robert III., this family obtained a considerable degree of rank and influence. Gilbert Kennedy, the second Earl of Cassilis, was employed in many of the most important offices of state; he was assassinated at Prestwick by Hugh Campbell, sheriff of Ayrshire. His son, Quintin Kennedy, who became Abbot of Crossraguel, is distinguished for having maintained the tenets of popery in a discussion with the celebrated reformer, John Knox, and on his decease was canonized for his zeal and profound devotion to the Roman Catholic faith. Gilbert, the third earl, was the friend and pupil of the historian, George Buchanan; and John, the sixth Earl of Cassilis, was one of the ruling elders who attended the assembly of divines at Westminster, in 1643. The parish is about twelve miles in length, and rather more than five miles and a half in extreme breadth; it is bounded on the north and north-east by the parish of Dalrymple, on the east by that of Straiton, on the south by Dailly, and on the west and north-west by the parishes of Kirkoswald and Maybole. The surface generally, with the exception of some level tracts along the banks of the rivers, is undulated and hilly, in some parts attaining considerable elevation. The hill of Glenalla is 1612 feet above the level of the sea; and there are several other eminences, of which Guiltree hill commands a beautiful prospect, embracing on one side the valley of the Girvan, with the Galloway hills, and on the other, the bay of Ayr, the peaks of Arran, and the towns along the coast, with the Highlands and Ben-Lomond in the back ground. The river Girvan has its source among the hills of Barr and Straiton, and, running below Blairquhan, enter this parish, which it divides into two nearly equal parts, passing by the grounds of Cloncaird, where it assumes a wide expanse, and presents a finely-picturesque appearance: flowing between richly-wooded banks, it pursues its course to the village of Crosshill, and then forms a boundary between the parishes of Kirkoswald and Dailly. The river Doon passes by one extremity of the parish, about two miles below Patna, washing the base of the eminence on which is situated the stately mansion of Cassilis; and the Dyrock, issuing from Shankston loch, and augmented by the streams of the Barnshean and Spalander, flows by the church and village of Kirkmichael into the Girvan. There are numerous lakes in the parish, of which the principal are, Loch Spalander, about forty-five acres in extent, abounding in excellent trout, and sometimes with char; Loch Barnshean, twenty-eight acres in extent; Loch Croot, ten acres; Shankston loch, twelve acres; Drumore, nine acres; and Kirkmichael loch, about five acres in extent.
   The soil in the low lands is extremely fertile, producing luxuriant herbage; in some parts, and especially near the bases of the lower hills, light and gravelly; and in others, clayey, and intermixed with loam. The whole number of acres in the parish is estimated at 15,250, of which about 1130 are in natural woods and in plantations, 500 waste, and the rest arable, meadow, and pasture land. The system of agriculture has greatly advanced; and the lands have been much improved under the influence of the example given by the Rev. John Ramsay, incumbent of the parish about forty years since, and who was the founder of the Carrick Farmers' Society: and also under the encouragement afforded to the tenants by the late Earl of Cassilis and the present proprietors. Furrow-draining has been extensively carried on; and in 1832, Henry Ritchie, Esq., of Cloncaird Castle, erected a work for the manufacture of draining-tiles, which at present produces on the average about 330,000 tiles annually. The farm-buildings are substantial and commodious, and generally slated; and all the recent improvements in husbandry are extensively practised. The substrata are chiefly sandstone, greenstone, and limestone; clay of excellent quality for making tiles is found in abundance, and there are some veins of galena, which appear to have been wrought, and are said to have yielded a considerable proportion of silver. The surface of the land in several parts is thickly strewn with boulders of granite, some of vast magnitude. There are quarries of freestone, at Auchalton, Clonclaugh, Balgreggan, and Glenside, which have been all extensively wrought; and also a quarry of peculiarly fine quality at Trochain, on the lands of Cloncaird. The rateable annual value of the parish is £10,035. Cloncaird Castle, an old castellated mansion, has been entirely new fronted, and is now a very elegant residence, beautifully situated in a highly-embellished demesne abounding with stately timber. Kirkmichael House stands in grounds well laid out, near the lake of that name, which forms an interesting feature. Cassilis House, the property of the Marquess of Ailsa, who bears the inferior title of Earl of Cassilis, occupies an eminence rising from the bank of the river Doon, and is an ancient mansion, supposed to have been built about the fifteenth century; it was enlarged and much improved in 1830, and is now a stately structure, surrounded with trees of noble growth, and with thriving plantations. Under the ancient castle was a subterraneous apartment, which, on being cleared out some years since to form a wine-cellar, was found to be replete with human bones.
   The village of Kirkmichael is neatly built and pleasantly situated, and has a post-office dependent on that of Maybole: its inhabitants, in addition to the various trades usually carried on, are employed in weaving for the Glasgow and Paisley manufacturers, and the female population in working muslins, which branches of trade are pursued to a still greater extent at Crosshill. Facility of communication is afforded by numerous good parish roads, and there are about twenty-six miles of turnpike-road. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Ayr and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. The stipend of the incumbent is £261; the manse is a handsome antique building of modern erection, and a very comfortable residence, and the glebe comprises sixteen acres of profitable land. The church, which is pleasantly situated on the Dyrock stream, and surrounded by a spacious burial-ground planted with ash-trees of stately growth, was built in 1787; it is in good repair, and adapted for a congregation of 556 persons. A chapel of ease has been erected for the accommodation of the inhabitants of Crosshill, by the liberal assistance of Sir Charles Dalrymple Fergusson, of Kilkerran, Bart., and others; it is a neat edifice, adapted for nearly 460 persons, and may be considerably increased by the addition of galleries. The parochial school affords instruction to about seventy children; the master has a salary of £34, with a house and garden, and the fees average £30. There is also a school at Crosshill, for which a former proprietor erected a spacious schoolroom; the master once received an annual payment of £3. 10. from the proprietors of the lands, in addition to the school fees. A parochial library is supported by subscription; and two savings' banks have been established. In several parts of the parish are traces of ancient circular forts, about 100 yards in diameter, and surrounded by a ditch fifteen feet broad: on being removed by the plough, fragments of spears, horns, urns, and ashes were found in profusion. There were also till lately some remains of a chapel, supposed to have been subordinate to the abbey of Crossraguel; the well is still known by the name of the "Chapel well."
   2) KIRKMICHAEL, a parish, in the county of Banff, 11 miles (E. S. E.) from Grantown; containing, with the late quoad sacra district of Tomintoul, 1576 inhabitants. This parish, named after the saint to whom the church was dedicated, is situated on the Avon, a tributary of the river Spey, and is a bleak Highland district, stretching for more than thirty miles, from north to south, along the banks of the stream, and measuring in average breadth from three to four miles. It comprises, as is supposed, about 140,000 acres, of which 2400 are cultivated; more than 60,000 are comprehended in the forest of Glenavon, and the remainder are waste and pasture. The general aspect of the parish is mountainous, dreary, and barren, it being situated at the base of the Grampian mountains. The main range of the Grampians bounds it on the south, and branches from this skirt it on the east and west, the only vista or outlet being a narrow opening on the north, which forms a passage for the waters of the Avon. The north side of Benmacdui, and the eastern side of Cairngorum, rising respectively 4362 feet and 4060 feet above the level of the sea, and exhibiting throughout the year collections of snow in their chasms, are in the southern portion of the parish. The forest of Glenavon has been lately converted by the proprietor, the Duke of Richmond, into a range for deer; and the mountains and hills in all directions are well stocked with various kinds of game. The inhabited parts of the parish measure only about eighteen miles in length; they consist of the narrow valley of the Avon, and the glens of the Conglass and Kebat on the east, and of that of Lochy on the west. Of this extent, nine miles, with the whole uninhabited portion, belong to the district of Tomintoul. The Avon, a deep, rapid, and pellucid stream, affords trout, and also salmon grilse from June till November: after being increased by numerous tributaries in its course of forty miles, it falls into the Spey at Ballindalloch, in the parish of Inveraven, adjoining Kirkmichael on the north. The pleasant and romantic valley of this river furnishes a beautiful relief to the wild and dreary aspect of the surrounding country. The scenery is also enlivened by several lochs; the principal one is Loch Avon, at the southern extremity of the parish, distant fifteen or twenty miles from any habitation. It is three miles long and one broad, and is encompassed by the loftiest mountains, except at its eastern side, where the Avon finds a narrow outlet; and the whole of the adjacent scenery is imposing and magnificent. Trout, of a black colour and slender form, are found in abundance in its deep water; and at the west end is the celebrated Clachdhian, or Shelter-stone, a ponderous block of granite, resting on two other masses, and thus forming a cave sufficient to contain twelve or fifteen men.
   The soil most prevalent is a loam, incumbent on limestone; that bordering on the Avon and its several tributary streams is alluvial. Barley and bear, and the usual grasses and green crops, are raised in considerable quantities, partly under the six-shift course; but the Duke of Richmond, who, and the Earl of Seafield, are the sole landowners, confines his principal tenants to the five-shift course. The climate is an impediment to husbandry; but the soil is in general good, and the lands are well farmed. Draining, inclosing, and the reclaiming of waste ground, have for several years been successfully carried on; and the dwelling-houses and farm-steadings have been much improved. The sheep are of the common black-faced breed; the cattle are mostly the West Highland, the character of which has been lately much advanced by the encouragement of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. Besides the masses of granite constituting the Grampian range, the substrata comprise sandstone and slatestone, the latter supplying a superior grey slate; and limestone is abundant in every direction. Good plumbago is found in the neighbourhood; and ironstone, which formed an article of profit more than a century since, when it was largely wrought in the hill of the Leacht, in the south-eastern part of the parish, is expected shortly to furnish occupation for a considerable number of persons. The parish is entirely destitute of plantations; the only wood to be seen is the natural birch and alder which ornament the banks of the Avon. The rateable annual value of Kirkmichael is £3325.
   The village of Tomintoul, situated about five miles south of the church, contains a population of 530, and has a post-office with a daily delivery; but few roads pass through the parish, or approach its boundaries. Cattle and sheep are sent in droves to the south, and grain to the sea-ports on the Moray Frith; the supply of merchandize is chiefly from Aberdeen. Markets are held in the village, for the sale of cattle and sheep, and some of them also for the hiring of servants, on the last Friday in May, the last Friday in July, the third Wednesday in August, the Friday after the second Tuesday in September, and the second Friday in November; the four last, O. S. The parish is ecclesiastically in the presbytery of Abernethy and synod of Moray, and in the patronage of the Earl of Seafield: the minister's stipend is £121, with a manse, and a glebe of nine acres, valued at £40 per annum. The church, built in 1807, is a plain structure, about four miles from the northern boundary, and contains accommodation for 350 persons. A church was erected by government in 1826, at a cost of £750, in the village of Tomintoul. Its minister's stipend, including communion elements, is £120, and is paid by the government: the manse, the expense of which was £738, has a glebe of about half an acre, with a garden. A Roman Catholic chapel, accommodating 464 persons, was built in the village in 1838; and the members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school affords instruction in Latin, mathematics, and geography, in addition to the usual branches; the master has the maximum salary, and £10 fees, and also shares in the Dick bequest. There are two schools in the village, the master of the one receiving £30 a year from the crown, with a house and garden from the Duke of Richmond, and the other endowed by the trustees of the late Mr. Donaldson. The poor also enjoy various bequests amounting to £1800.
   3) KIRKMICHAEL, a parish, in the county of Dumfries, 8½ miles (N. by E.) from Dumfries; containing 1108 inhabitants. This place, which derives its name from the dedication of its church to St. Michael, includes the ancient parish of Garvald, or Garrel, which, with the exception of some lands now in the parish of Johnstone, was united to it about the year 1670. Sir William Wallace, previously to his assault of the castle of Lochmaben in 1297, occupied a small fortress in this parish, with a party of his followers, and made frequent sallies to annoy the English under Greystock and Sir Hugh Moreland, in one of which Sir Hugh and several of his men were killed. Greystock, enraged at this defeat, and strengthened by fresh supplies from England, advanced with 300 men to give battle to Wallace, who, overpowered by numbers, retreated to the hills: here, the Scots being joined by Sir John Graham and a party of his retainers, a general engagement took place, in which Greystock fell, and Wallace obtained a complete victory. The parish, which is of elliptical form, is about nine miles in length and nearly five in extreme breadth, comprising an area of 17,070 acres, of which 6700 are arable, 300 are woodland and plantations, and the remainder, of which part is convertible into meadow, is sheep pasture, moorland, moss, and waste. The surface towards the south is level, with the exception of a few hills of inconsiderable height; and in the northern part is intersected by two ranges of mountains extending from north to south. The western range, at the hill of Holehouse, its northern extremity, has an elevation of 1500, and at Woodhill, on the south, of 1250 feet above the level of the sea: the eastern range rises at Knock-Craig, on the north, to a height of 1400, and at Kirkmichael fell, the southern extremity, to a height of 1100 feet. From these ranges the surface gradually slopes towards the south; and at Cumrue, near the southern boundary of the parish, the lands are comparatively flat, and only 190 feet above the sea. The river Ae has its source in the hills of Queensberry, in the adjoining parish of Closeburn, and, after flowing for some distance along the southern borders of Kirkmichael, bends its course to the east, and falls into the river Kinnel, at Esby, in the parish of Lochmaben. The Glenkill burn, which rises in the north of the parish, intersects it from north to south, and runs into the Ae near the church. The Garrel burn has its rise in the Garrel craigs, at the northern extremity of the parish, and, taking a southerly course, in which, flowing with a rapid current, it makes some small but very picturesque cascades, joins the river Ae on the confines of Lochmaben. There are several smaller burns and numerous springs, of which latter a few are slightly chalybeate, but not resorted to for medicinal use. The parish also contains some lakes, the principal being Loch Crane and Loch Cumrue; the former is one acre in extent, and of very great depth. Loch Cumrue, though now reduced by draining to little more than four acres, originally comprised an area of about twelve; it is fourteen feet deep, and abounds with pike and eels.
   The soil along the banks of the Ae and the river Kinnel, and in the south and west portions of the parish, is richly fertile, but in the more central parts dry and gravelly; the crops are, wheat, oats, barley, potatoes, and turnips, with the usual grasses. The hills afford good pasture for sheep and cattle. The system of husbandry has been greatly improved, especially on the lands of Ross, the property of the Duke of Buccleuch; and a due rotation of crops is generally observed: the lands have been inclosed partly with stone dykes, but principally with hedges of thorn. Most of the farm houses and offices are substantial and commodiously arranged; and many, of more recent erection, are even of elegant appearance. The cattle, of which about 1700 head are reared, are all of the Galloway breed: the sheep, whereof nearly 6000 are fed in the pastures, are chiefly of the Highland and Cheviot breeds. Much attention is paid to the improvement of the stock, and great numbers are sent to the markets of Dumfries, Lockerbie, and Moffat. The plantations, mostly of recent date, consist of larch, and Scotch and spruce firs, interspersed with oak, ash, and elm, all well managed and in a thriving state. There are some considerable remains of natural wood, consisting principally of oak, ash, birch, and alder, stately specimens of which adorn the grounds of Kirkmichael House. The prevailing substrata are of the old red sandstone formation, and the hills are mainly composed of transition rock; veins of ironstone and ochre are found in some places, and an attempt was recently made to discover coal, but without success. The rateable annual value of the parish is £6894. Kirkmichael House is an elegant mansion is the ancient manorial style, recently erected after a design by Mr. Burn, of Edinburgh, and pleasantly situated in grounds tastefully laid out. There are no villages in the parish, neither are any manufactures carried on. A post-office, under that of Dumfries, has been established at a place called Pleasance; and facility of communication is afforded by the high road from Dumfries to Edinburgh, which passes through the parish, and by statute roads kept in good repair.
   The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Lochmaben and synod of Dumfries. The minister's stipend is £246. 8. 11., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £18 per annum; patron, the Duke of Buccleuch. The church, situated near the south-western boundary of the parish, is a neat cruciform structure, erected in 1815, and containing 500 sittings. The parochial school is well conducted, and attended by about sixty children; the master has a salary of £34, with a house and garden, and an acre and a half of land; and the school fees average £20 per annum. On the bank of the Garrel burn are the remains of the church of Garvald, which was rebuilt in 1617, but, after the union of the parishes, suffered to fall into decay; the cemetery is still preserved, surrounded by a stone wall, and embellished with weeping-birch trees, and others appropriate to the character of the place. On the farm of Wood are the ruins of the old tower of Glenae, which, in 1666, gave the title of baronet to a branch of the family of Dalzell, afterwards earls of Carnwath. Part of the ancient Roman road from Netherby, in Cumberland, to the chain of forts between the Forth and the Clyde, may still be traced to its termination at a fort of which some remains are distinctly visible in the garden of the manse. Near the line of this road were found, in 1785, two vases of copper, whereof the smaller stood upon three feet about an inch and a half high; and in 1833, a similar vase, with a handle and a spout, and supported on three feet two inches and a half in height, was found in a moss near the Mains of Ross. There are several circular camps, in some of which have been discovered ashes, broken querns, and other relics of antiquity, and in one a broken sword. Silver coins of Alexander III, and James I. of Scotland, and Edward I. of England, have also been found. The lands of Ross give the title of Viscount to the Duke of Buccleuch.
   4) KIRKMICHAEL, a parish, in the county of Perth, 14 miles (N. W. by N.) from Blairgowrie; containing 1412 inhabitants, of whom 104 are in the village. This parish, the site of which is elevated, and the climate cold, is situated on the great military road from Perth to Fort-George, and is in form nearly a parallelogram, measuring seventeen miles in length, from north to south, and from six to seven miles in breadth. It comprehends the greater part of Strathardle, which is about ten miles long, and between one and two broad; the whole of Glenshee, measuring seven miles in length and nearly a mile in breadth; and a district at the lower extremity of the latter, on the west side of the river called Black Water, nearly semicircular in form, and two miles in diameter. The whole comprises 51,178 acres, of which 4419 are cultivated, 1460 undivided common, 683 wood, and the remainder in a natural state. At the head of Glenshee is a hill called Beinn-Ghulbhuinn, celebrated as the scene of a hunt in which Diarmid, one of the Fingalian heroes, lost his life; and his grave is still shown here, with the den of the wild boar that was the object of the chase. Another hill is Mount Blair, separating this parish from Glenisla; and the chief lochs are Sheshernich and Loch-nanean which are situated among the hills, and afford good trout-angling. Strathardle is watered by the Ardle. Near that river the soil is thin and dry, on a sandy bed, and yields in general light crops; on the higher grounds, as well as in Glenshee and the district of the Black-water, it is wet and spongy, and requires a dry and warm season for the maturity of the crops. In the lower parts the most improved system of husbandry is followed; and lime has been extensively and successfully applied to the land recovered from waste, amounting, within a few years, to 400 acres. The huts on most of the farms have been replaced by neat and comfortable houses, and the interests of agriculture much promoted by the construction of good roads. The rateable annual value of Kirkmichael is now £7993. The parish contains the mansion-houses of Ashintully and Woodhill, and the small village of Kirkmichael. The inhabitants are all engaged in husbandry: some years ago a few were employed at a distillery. An important addition has been made to the facilities of communication by the erection of a handsome bridge of two arches, in 1840, over the Ardle, at a cost of £500, raised by subscription. A cattle-fair is held on the Thursday before the October Falkirk tryst, and another on the Thursday before the May Amulrie fair: the farmers usually dispose of their ordinary marketable produce at Blairgowrie. The parish is in the presbytery of Dunkeld and synod of Perth and Stirling, and in the patronage of Mr. Farquharson, of Invercauld: the minister's stipend is £158, of which two-thirds are received from the exchequer, with a manse, and a glebe of six and a half acres, valued at £10 per annum. The members of the Free Church have two places of worship. There are two parochial schools, affording instruction in the usual branches: the master of the one situated in the village has a salary of £34, with a house, enlarged in 1821, and about £20 fees; the other master, in Glenshee, receives a salary of £15, with £12 fees. The poor in Glenshee enjoy the benefit of a bequest of £200; and there are two other bequests, one amounting to £17 yearly for educating poor children in the parish of the name of Stewart, and the other of £20 per annum for bursaries in any of the Scotch universities, for natives of the parish, or, in case of failure, for those of the neighbouring parish of Moulin. On a large moor is a cairn, once ninety yards in circumference and twenty-five feet high; and at some distance is a Druidical rocking-stone, besides numerous concentric circles.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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