- KIRKPATRICK-FLEMING, a parish, in the county of Dumfries, 6 miles (E. N. E.) from Annan; containing, with the hamlet of Newton, and the village of Fairyhall with Hollee, 1692 inhabitants. This parish derives its appellation from the celebrated Irish saint, Patrick; Fleming, the name of the ancient lord of the manor, having been added, to distinguish it from other parishes called Kirkpatrick. On account of its situation near the border, it was formerly the arena of many sanguinary conflicts; and the numerous towers still remaining in the vicinity testify the active warfare to which its position exposed it. The family of the Flemings, who were very conspicuous in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, held certain lands here by the tenure of defending them at all times against the English. Their chief seat and castle was at Red-Hall, where, towards the conclusion of the reign of John Baliol, thirty of their followers were besieged by an English force at the time of one of Edward's incursions into Scotland, and, after bravely defending their post for three days, chose rather to perish in the flames kindled around the castle by the enemy, than to submit to capture. This castle, as well as another at Holm-Head, the property of the Flemings, has entirely disappeared; but a third, at Stone-house, also formerly possessed by the family, and now the property of the Earl of Mansfield, is still partly standing in the neighbourhood.The old Tower of Woodhouse, said to have been the first house in Scotland to which Robert Bruce came, when fleeing from Edward Longshanks, also remains. It was then possessed by the Irvines, one of whom Bruce took into his service; and after having made him his secretary, he knighted him, and in reward for his fidelity and services, presented him with the lands of the forest of Drum, in the north of Scotland. Near this tower, a little northward, stands the cross of Merkland, an octagonal stone pillar about nine feet high, and elegantly sculptured. The time and occasion of its erection are doubtful; but it is supposed to have been raised to perpetuate the memory of the murder of Maxwell, master-warden of the marches, who was stabbed on this spot by a man of the name of Gas, from the parish of Cummertrees, in revenge for a sentence which Maxwell had passed upon a cousin of his. The particulars are these. Maxwell, just before the murder, had been in pursuit of the Duke of Albany and the Earl of Douglas, who for some time had been exiles in England, but who, making an incursion into their native land in 1483, proceeded to Lochmaben, and plundered the market there, in order to try the disposition of their countrymen towards them. He came up with their forces at Burnswark, from which place an action was fought as far as Kirkconnel, when Douglas was taken prisoner, but the duke contrived to make his escape. Maxwell, having recovered the booty, and obtained a victory, was leisurely pursuing the remnant of the hostile army, and resting from his weariness through marching and fighting, when he fell by the clandestine attack of his malicious foe.The present parish comprehends the old parish of Kirkconnel, which is said to have derived its name from Connel, a saint who flourished at the commencement of the seventh century; and within the burial-ground of Kirkconnel, a part of the ancient church is still standing. The parish is about six miles long and three broad, and contains 11,575 acres. It is bounded on the north and north-west by Middlebie, on the east and north-east by Halfmorton, on the south and south-east by Graitney, and on the west and south-west by Annan and Dornock. The surface consists of a succession of gentle undulations and fertile vales, in the latter of which are cultivated fields inclosed by fine hedge-rows, or ornamented by thriving plantations. The Kirtle, the only river, runs through a romantic vale; the banks are covered with rich clusters of natural wood, and adorned with plantations, gentlemen's seats, and ancient towers. It contains trout, eels, and perch; and after a course of about eighteen miles from its source in the parish of Middlebie, it falls into the Solway to the east of Redkirk, in Graitney.The soil in some parts is light, resting upon gravel, sand, or rock. In other places it consists of a deep strong earth, of a red cast, and mixed with a considerable proportion of sand; and this description of soil, with slight variations, and lying upon a subsoil, sometimes of clay and sometimes of gravel, is the prevailing kind in the south part. Large portions of the parish are mossy land, varying in depth from six to eighteen inches, and resting upon a bed of clay. The clay found as a subsoil under ridges, peat-mosses, and soft bogs, is generally white, blue, or red. There is also in the parish a portion of the land called Whitestone land, which, though naturally barren, is capable of some degree of improvement. About 8060 acres are cultivated or occasionally in tillage; 2009 are in coarse pasture; 900 are wet moss; and 605 are under wood. Many of the acres now waste are considered capable of profitable cultivation. All kinds of grain and green crops are produced, and of good quality: of the latter, turnips and potatoes are the most abundant, and the grain is principally barley and oats. An immense number of swine are annually fed, and fattened to a great extent upon potatoes. The best method of husbandry is understood and practised. The manures used are farm-dung and lime, which latter is procured from several neighbouring places; and great advances have been made in the draining of morasses, and the conversion of moors into good arable land. The houses, also, have undergone an entire change within the last thirty years, the mud and clay huts covered with thatch having been displaced by neat and convenient buildings of stone and lime, roofed with slate. The rocks in the parish are principally of the sandstone formation, and are found of various colours; but those that prevail most are a dark red and white, which are exceedingly hard and durable, and admit of a fine polish. There is also excellent limestone. The rateable annual value of Kirkpatrick-Fleming is £7032. The mansions in or close to the parish are those of Springkell, the seat of Sir Heron Maxwell, a remarkably elegant building in the Grecian style; Mossknowe, the residence of Col. Graham, of modern date, enriched with fine plantations and gardens; the Tower of Blackethouse; Kirtleton; Langshaw; Wyesbie; the mansion of the Irvings, of Bonshaw; Robgill Tower; Cove; Broatshouse; and some others. The larger number of these mansions are situated on the banks of the river Kirtle, and surrounded with romantic scenery. The population are principally employed in agriculture, the only manufacture being that of cotton, which is carried on by about 150 weavers employed by a house in Carlisle. The road from Carlisle to Glasgow and to Edinburgh, by Moffat, passes for five miles through the middle of the parish, and crosses, in the western corner, a road which runs from Annan to Edinburgh, by Langholm and Selkirk, in a northern direction. Four bridges are thrown over the Kirtle, and there are one or two in other parts: all of these, as well as the roads, are in good repair.The ecclesiastical affairs are subject to the presbytery of Annan and synod of Dumfries; patrons, alternately, Sir Heron Maxwell and Colonel Graham. The stipend of the minister is £226, with a good manse, and a glebe of about twenty-four acres, worth £25 a year. The church, a plain edifice, was partly rebuilt about the year 1780, and was thoroughly repaired in 1835; it is capable of accommodating 800 persons. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. There are two parochial schools: the master of the Kirkpatrick school receives £25. 13. as a salary, with about £30 fees, and £5 from a bequest by Dr. Graham, of Mossknowe, for instructing eight poor children gratuitously. The master of the Gair school receives the same amount of salary as the other master, with £23 in fees; and both masters have the allowance of house and garden. The usual branches of education are taught, in addition to which, at the Kirkpatrick school, instruction is given in the classics, mathematics, and French. A parochial library and a savings' bank have been established. In the burial-ground of Kirkconnel are still to be seen the tombstones of "Fair Helen" and her favourite lover, Adam Fleming. A rival of Fleming's having unsuccessfully courted Helen, vowed revenge, and soon found an opportunity to attempt his purpose. Seeing the lovers walking together on the banks of the Kirtle, he was about to take the threatened revenge on Fleming; but, being observed by Helen in the midst of the bushes, she rushed to her lover's bosom to rescue him from the danger, and received the fatal wound herself and expired. Fleming immediately dispatched the murderer on the spot, and afterwards went abroad to serve under Spain against the Infidels, in the hope of wearing out the impressions of his love and grief. He soon returned, however, and stretching himself on her grave, expired, and was buried by her side. Upon the tombstone are engraven a sword and a cross, with the inscription, Hic jacet Adam Fleming. The Scotch ballad so well known, describing the murder, is said to have been written in Spain by Fleming himself. Not far from Cove, a piece of gold worth £12 was found about ninety years ago, eighteen inches under ground: on one end, the word Helenus was stamped in Roman capitals. There are three chalybeate springs in the parish, nearly alike in quality, and also one of a strong sulphureous nature, highly celebrated in scrofulous and scorbutic cases, and which Sir Humphrey Davy considered as possessing properties similar to those of the Moffat well. The late eminent physician, James Currie, was born here in the year 1756. He was the author of A Commercial and Political Letter to Mr. Pitt, published under the assumed name of Jasper Wilson, in 1793, and which excited much attention, and passed through several editions. He also published an edition of the Poems of Burns. This is likewise the birthplace of the late Rev. Mr. Stewart, minister of Erskine, so famous for the cure of consumption.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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