- MEARNS, a parish, in the Upper ward of the county of Renfrew, 7 miles (S. W. by S.) from Glasgow, containing, with the village of Newton and part of Busby, 3077 inhabitants. This place, in ancient records Meirnes, Morness, and Mearnis, appears to have derived its name from the appellation common to all districts inhabited chiefly by herdsmen; and from a very remote period the lands have been principally pasture, and distinguished for the abundance and excellence of the produce of the dairy. The barony is said to have been the property of the Maxwells prior to the year 1245; but no authentic notice of that family occurs previously to the time of James II., when, on the downfall of the Douglases in 1455, they acquired considerable possessions in this part of the country. In the reign of James VI., one of the Maxwells, being ordered by that monarch to confine himself within the limits of Clydesdale, was for disobedience to that injunction attainted in parliament, and the barony transferred to the Maxwells of Pollock. There are still some remains of the ancient castle of Mearns, the seat of the Maxwell family, but now the property of Sir Michael Robert Shaw Stewart, consisting chiefly of a square tower, recently covered with a roof, the summit of which is within the battlements.The parish is nearly seven miles in length and about three miles and a quarter in breadth, and is bounded on the north by Eastwood; on the south-east by the parishes of Eaglesham and Carmunnock, the latter in the county of Lanark; on the south-west by Fenwick, and Stewarton, in Ayrshire; and on the north-west by Neilston. The surface is elevated, and broken by numerous bold undulations; but there are no hills of any considerable height. The soil is light, dry, and warm, incumbent on a stratum of decomposed rock, except in some few tracts where the substratum is clay, chiefly in the lower lands: by far the greater portion is in pasture. Of the land in cultivation, the fertility has been much increased by the facility of obtaining an abundant supply of manure; the crops are, oats, bear, barley, wheat, beans, and peas, with potatoes and turnips, the former of which are luxuriant. The pastures are rich, and the dairy-farms are managed with skill and success; the cows are of the best species of the Ayrshire breed, and the butter produced here obtains a decided preference in the markets of Paisley and Glasgow. The scenery is generally of pleasing character, and in some parts highly picturesque and romantic, and enriched with thriving plantations, chiefly of Scotch fir, spruce, and larch, for which the soil seems well adapted. In the south are several lakes; the principal are, Brother loch, Little loch, Black loch, and Long loch, the last on the confines of the parish of Neilston.There are numerous houses belonging to resident proprietors, of which some are on the highest eminences, and others in the deep valleys that intersect the hills. Upper Pollock, the seat of Sir Robert C. Pollock, is an ancient mansion, situated on rising ground, commanding a richly-diversified prospect; and attached to it was formerly a chapel, which since the Reformation has fallen into ruins. Southfield is a handsome residence, beautifully seated in a demesne enriched with woods and plantations; Caplerig was once a preceptory of Knights Templars. The chief villages are Newton and Busby, both of which are described under their own heads; the former is within half a mile of the church, and the latter on the eastern confines of the parish. The printing of calico, for which there are spacious establishments at Wellmeadow and at Hazelden, affords employment to about 300 persons; and there is an extensive cotton-factory at Busby. A fair is held at Newton, but it is very inconsiderable, chiefly a pleasurefair. A penny-post has been established under the office at Glasgow; and the road from Glasgow to Kilmarnock, passing through the parish, affords every facility of intercourse with the neighbouring towns. The rateable annual value of Mearns is £16,559. Its ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Paisley and synod of Glasgow and Ayr: the minister's stipend is £262. 18. 4., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £20 per annum; patron, Sir Michael Robert Shaw Stewart. The church, a very ancient structure, was repaired and enlarged in 1813, and contains 705 sittings. There are two places of worship for members of the United Secession, one in the village of Newton and one at Busby. The parochial school is attended by about 100 scholars; the master has a salary of £34. 4., with a house and garden, and the fees average £63 per annum. There is also a school at the village of Busby.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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