- LESWALT, a parish, in the county of Wigton, 4 miles (N. W.) from Stranraer; containing 2712 inhabitants. The name of Leswalt is of doubtful origin, but is supposed to signify "the meadow along the burn." In the reign of James V. the parish was the property of the monks of Tongland, the vicarage then paying a tax of £12. 13. 4., a tenth of its estimated value: at the time of the Reformation the tax was £26. 13. 4. The church was made over to the king in 1587, and by him in 1689 vested in the bishops of Galloway; but when episcopacy was abolished, it became again the property of the crown. The parish is about eight miles in length, and nearly of the same breadth. It has the Irish Channel on the west, Loch Ryan on the east, the parish of Kirkcolm on the north, and Portpatrick on the south; and forms a portion of the peninsula called the Rhyns of Galloway. The surface is for the most part exceedingly hilly, and along the coast rugged and rocky, and frequently broken by immense chasms. There are two large streams, Soleburn and Pooltanton; and a beautiful sheet of water called Loch Naw, which covers a space of thirty acres.The soil in some parts is rich and productive; but in many others, especially towards the south, it is wet and heavy, having large tracts of moss, totally unfit for tillage, but employed for pasturing sheep and young cattle. The oats produced are estimated at the value of about £6000 yearly: some attention is now paid to the cultivation of wheat, and considerable quantities of potatoes are raised. Much land formerly rough pasture, or waste, has been improved by lime and shell-sand manures and brought into good cultivation; and the care recently taken of the fences and the farm-houses has effected great changes in the appearance of the parish. Black-cattle of the Galloway breed are reared for the English markets; the sheep are chiefly the Cheviot and the black-faced. Greywacke and red sandstone form the principal strata of the parish. Lochnaw Castle, on the border of the loch of the same name, with its plantations and gardens, forms an object of admiration: the only plantations in the parish are those above the castle. There are two villages, Clayhole and Hillhead, forming a part of the suburbs of Stranraer. An excellent road runs through the middle of the parish, branching off in one direction round Loch Naw to Portpatrick, and in another by Kirkcolm to Stranraer. The rateable annual value of Leswalt is £5836. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the government of the presbytery of Stranraer and synod of Galloway, and the patronage is in the Crown. The stipend of the minister is £143, of which nearly a fourth is received from the exchequer; with a manse, built in 1811, and a glebe of nearly twenty acres, valued at about £30 per annum. The church, built in 1828, contains 550 sittings. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship; and there is a parochial school, the master of which has a salary of £25. 13. 3., with £20 fees, and a house and garden. There is also a parochial library of nearly 400 volumes.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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