Mochrum

   MOCHRUM, a parish, in the county of Wigton; containing, with the villages of Eldrig, Kirk of Mochrum, and Port-William, 2539 inhabitants, of whom 187 are in the village of Kirk of Mochrum, 7½ miles (S. W.) from Wigton. This place, of which the name is altogether of unknown derivation, appears to have formed part of the possessions of the Dunbar family, having been conferred about the year 1368 upon the second son of Patrick, Earl of Mar, their ancestor. Among his descendants, who were subsequently raised to the dignity of baronets, the most distinguished was Gavin, son of Sir John Dunbar, who, having devoted himself to study, was in 1504 made prior of Whithorn, and in 1522 succeeded James Beaton as archbishop of Glasgow. In 1526 he was made lord chancellor of Scotland, and in 1536 was chosen one of the lords of the regency during the absence of James V. at the court of France while celebrating his marriage with Magdalene, daughter of Francis I. The original residence of the Dunbars, knights of Mochrum, an ancient castle called the Old Place of Mochrum, of which the walls, of great strength, are still nearly entire, is situated in the vicinity of an extensive moor surrounded with numerous lakes, and has an interesting and highly picturesque appearance. The castle, and the lands attached to it, remained in the possession of the Dunbars till towards the close of the last century, when they passed to the earls of Dumfries, and subsequently to the family of the present Marquess of Bute; but the title of baronets of Mochrum is still retained by their descendants, whose representative is Sir William Rowe Dunbar, Bart. With the exception of the lands appertaining to the Old Place, nearly one-half of the parish is the property of the Maxwells, who settled here in the early part of the 17th century, and whose representative is Sir William Maxwell, Bart.
   The parish is bounded on the south-west by the bay of Luce, and is nearly ten miles in length and from four to five miles in breadth, comprising 22,000 acres, of which 200 are woodland and plantations, about 1000 waste, and the remainder, almost in equal proportions, meadow, pasture, and arable land in good cultivation. The surface, though not rising into hills of any considerable elevation, is boldly undulating, and diversified with tracts of level land and gentle acclivities in pleasing variety; and the higher grounds command a fine view, extending over the bay of Luce and the Irish Channel, and embracing the Mull of Galloway, the Isle of Man, the mountains of Morne on the Irish coast, and the heights of Skiddaw in Cumberland. Towards the north-west are numerous lakes, of which the most important are Mochrum and Castle lochs, each about a mile and a quarter in length and a quarter of a mile in width, and containing islets of picturesque appearance. From these, and also from the smaller lakes, issue many rivulets intersecting the lands in various directions; and some. uniting their streams, form the Malzie water, which flows eastward through the parish into the Bladenoch, and is the only water approaching in character to a river. The coast extends nearly ten miles, and for the greater part is a flat smooth gravelly beach about fifty yards in width, but is bounded by a precipitous bank rendering communication with the interior difficult, and at about a mile from the western extremity terminates in a steep rock projecting into the bay, and forming a bold and almost inaccessible shore. There are several indentations or creeks affording shelter to boats; but the only harbour accessible to trading vessels of any considerable burthen is Port-William, near the eastern extremity of the bay, which has safe anchorage for vessels of 200 tons, and was constructed during the last century by Sir William Maxwell. The bay abounds with fish of almost every variety, and of excellent quality; salmon and herrings are taken in moderate quantities, and cod, mackerel, whiting, and other white-fish are found in considerable numbers.
   The soil along the coast is mostly a rich deep loam, alternated with patches of lighter quality; towards the central part it gradually becomes thin and stony; and in the west and east are some tracts of moor and moss, with intervening portions of dry and fertile arable land. The system of husbandry has been greatly improved under the auspices of Sir William Maxwell, liberal encouragement being afforded to his tenants; favourable crops of all kinds of grain are raised, and considerable numbers of cattle and sheep are reared. The farms are well inclosed, chiefly with hedges of thorn; the farm houses and offices are generally substantial and commodiously arranged, and all the more recent improvements in the construction of agricultural implements have been adopted. The plantations, though not extensive, add much to the beauty of the scenery, and such of them as are sheltered from the sea breezes are in a thriving state; but the soil does not appear to be adapted to their extension. The rateable annual value of the parish is £8980. Monreith House, the seat of Sir William Maxwell, is a modern mansion, situated on an eminence near the eastern boundary of the parish, about a mile from the sea, and at the head of a small but beautiful lake surrounded with plantations. Myrton Cottage, a handsome residence, was built by the same gentleman within the last few years. The village of Mochrum, in which the church stands, is neatly built; and its inhabitants are chiefly employed in agricultural pursuits. The villages of Eldrig and Port-William are described under their respective heads; at Port-William is a post-office which has six deliveries in the week, and facility of intercourse is maintained by good roads, of which the turnpike-road to Glenluce passes along the coast for several miles, opening a communication with the Rhinns of Galloway. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Wigton and synod of Galloway. The minister's stipend is £153. 3. 5., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £25 per annum; patron, the Crown. The church, built in 1794, and successively enlarged by the addition of galleries in 1822 and 1832, is a substantial structure containing 700 sittings. There is a place of worship for members of the Relief. The parochial school is well attended; the master receives the minimum salary, with an allowance in lieu of a house, and the fees average about £16 annually. The schoolroom is a handsome building, adapted for the reception of 150 children. Near the church is a large earthen mound surrounded by a deep fosse. On the summit of an eminence not far from the eastern extremity of the coast, are some very distinct traces of an Anglo-Saxon camp; and near the shore, about two miles from the western extremity, are the ruins of the ancient chapel of St. Finian.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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