Luce, Old

   LUCE, OLD, or Glenluce, a parish, in the county of Wigton; containing 2448 inhabitants, of whom 890 are in the village, 10 miles (E. by S.) from Stranraer. This parish anciently included New Luce, the two places together forming the parish of Leuce or Glenluce, which was divided in 1646 into two parts, one called New, and the other Old. The abbey of Glenluce, situated in the deep valley of the river Luce, founded in 1190 by Roland Macdonald, Lord of Galloway, and Constable of Scotland, and covering a large space of ground, was the abode of Cistercian monks who came from Melrose. It was converted, however, in 1602, by James VI., into a temporal barony, in favour of Lawrence Gordon, abbot of the place; and on the death of Lawrence, it was bestowed by royal charter on his elder brother, John, Dean of Salisbury, who, dying in 1619, was succeeded in the barony by his son-in-law, Sir Robert Gordon, the historian. Subsequently it was annexed to the see of Galloway; and at the close of the 17th century, being again made a barony, it conferred the title of Lord Glenluce, upon Sir James Dalrymple, of Carrick, whose son became Lord Glenluce and Earl of Stair. Thomas Hay had been, in 1560, appointed commendator of the abbey, by a bull from the Pope; and from him Sir James Dalrymple Hay, of Park, the present proprietor of the abbey, is descended.
   The parish is ten miles long and eight miles broad, and contains 40,350 acres. It is bounded on the north by New Luce; on the south by the Bay of Luce; on the east by Mochrum and Kirkowan; and on the west by Inch and Stonykirk. Except in the immediate neighbourhood of the bay, the surface of the land is irregular and hilly. Besides a considerable number of perennial springs, the water of which, coming from rocks, is unusually clear and cold, there are several small lakes, and the two rivers Luce and Pooltanton, the former of which is here about thirty feet wide. It runs for twenty-one miles from its source in Ayrshire, and empties itself into the bay almost at the same place as the stream of Pooltanton. In each of these rivers salmon and sea-trout are taken. The soil varies to a considerable extent, but that which prevails most is of a gravelly or sandy nature, and is light and dry; the best land is found in the southern parts, and in the vicinity of the river Luce. In some places the soil contains large mixtures of moss, clay, or loam, and runs to the depth of two or three feet. The annual crops are as follows: 400 acres of wheat, 1350 of oats, 454 ryegrass, 259 meadow-hay, 60 peas and beans, 467 potatoes, and 160 turnips. About 10,000 acres are uncultivated, and between 300 and 400 are wood. Within the last thirty years the agricultural appearance of the parish has undergone a total change. Large quantities of waste land have been brought into cultivation; and the increase of dairies, supplying plenty of manure, together with the prevalence of the green-cropping system, has produced the most beneficial effect. In those parts suited for pasture, especially among the moors, cattle of the black Galloway breed are preferred; and the sheep most esteemed are of the black-faced breed, with horns, and producing long coarse wool. In the south are some superior dairy-farms, where more than 6000 stone of cheese are made every year. The farm-buildings are in general commodious, and in good condition. The subsoil of the parish is gravelly or sandy, except in the heavier soils, and sinks to a very considerable depth: the rocks are the ordinary greywacke, intermixed with quartz, and granite is found in almost every direction. A greywacke quarry in the vicinity of the village has been wrought for some years, to the great advantage of the parish. The rateable annual value of Old Luce is £10,232.
   There are three castles, viz., the Castle of Park, the former residence of the Hays; Castle Synniness; and Carsecreuch, once the residence of the earls of Stair: but of these seats one only is entire. Genoch and Balkail are modern mansions. The village is situated upon the road leading from Newton-Stewart to Stranraer. Corn and carding-mills are regularly at work; there are also a dye-mill and a flax-mill. Cattle-markets are held near the village, from April to December, on the first Friday in each month, and a fair in the month of May; there is a regular post in the village, and the mail from Dumfries to Portpatrick runs through it every day. Within two miles of it is a harbour in the bay, suited to receive small craft bringing coal and lime; but no larger vessels can approach this part of the shore. The ecclesiastical affairs are subject to the presbytery of Stranraer and synod of Galloway, and the patronage is in the Crown: the stipend of the minister is £158, of which nearly half is received from the exchequer, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £30 per annum. The church, erected in 1814, is a commodious edifice, and situated close to the village. The members of the United Secession have a place of worship. The master of the parochial school has a salary of £25. 13., with a house and garden; and his fees average between £30 and £40. There are several other schools, of which two are connected with dissenters, and one is supported by the Hay family. The chief remains of antiquity are the abbey ruins; the chapter-house is still in good condition, and its arches are distinguished by antique figures of white freestone. The celebrated characters connected with the parish have been, John Gordon, Dean of Salisbury, eminent for numerous literary works; Sir Robert Gordon, the historian; and the Rev. Robert Mc Ward, a theological and controversial writer in the reigns of Charles I. and II., and who was at one time secretary to the well-known Samuel Rutherford.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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