MOUSWALD, a parish, in the county of Dumfries; containing, with the hamlets of Old Brocklehirst and Cleughbrae, 683 inhabitants, of whom 131 are in the village of Mouswald, 7 miles (E. S. E.) from Dumfries. The name of this parish was formerly spelt Muswald and Mosswald; the termination is probably derived from the Saxon word Walda, or Wealt, signifying "the woody district," and which, with the prefix moss, or mous, may be interpreted "the forest near the moss." Some, however, give to the termination the sense of "a long range of high land." Few important events are recorded in connexion with the parish; but at Mouswald Mains was the seat of Sir Simon Carruthers, laird of Mouswald, whose only daughter married into the Queensberry family, who thus came into the possession of the estate. The family of Grierson, of this parish, are descended from Gilbert, second son of Malcolm, laird of Mc Greggor, who died in 1374; his son obtained a charter from the family of Douglas of the lands and barony of Lag, in Nithsdale, and of Little Dalton, in Annandale, and his descendants have continued in this part of the country. Their present seat is Rockhall, in the parish of Mouswald. The last inhabitant of the castle of Lag, their former seat, which stands in the Glen of Lag, surrounded by lofty hills, in Dunscore parish, was Sir Robert Grierson, who, by virtue of his prerogative as baron of the regality, tried, condemned, and executed a sheep-stealer at Barnside Hill, about the end of the 17th century. This is said to have been the last instance in Nithsdale of a criminal suffering death by the sentence of a baron-bailie.
   The parish is between four and five miles long and from two to three broad, and contains nearly 6000 acres; it is bounded on the north by Lochmaben, on the south by Ruthwell, on the east by Dalton, and on the west by Torthorwald. The surface is in general tolerably level; what rising grounds there are, ascend so gently that they are cultivated to the very summit, and the highest hill scarcely reaches 700 feet above the level of the sea. The only river is the Lochar, which, however, runs through the parish but for a very few yards. A part of the extensive moss called Lochar Moss lies within this parish, and contiguous to it a considerable breadth of both the pasture and arable ground is wet and marshy. A large proportion of the district near the farms immediately bordering on the moss is of a light and sandy soil, or thin earth resting upon gravel mixed with stones; and though carefully laid down with grass seeds, it runs into broom in two or three years. The land in the eastern part of the parish, however, which is higher, has a tolerably deep and rich soil, producing good crops. Upwards of 4000 acres are cultivated or occasionally in tillage; 1260, including more than 1100 of moss, afford indifferent pasture; and 150 acres are in woods and plantations. All kinds of white and green crops are grown. The cattle are the black Galloways, to the breed of which much attention is paid; and many very fine draught horses are reared, and large numbers of pigs, which latter in general are sent to London. Most of the modern improvements have been introduced; but the fences and a few farm-houses are still, to a great extent, in an unsatisfactory state. The chief rocks are greywacke and greywacke-slate, and in one place is blue limestone. The great post-road from Carlisle to Dumfries and Portpatrick runs through the parish from south-east to north-west; and on it both the Carlisle and the Portpatrick mail-coaches travel, together with several other coaches to different parts. There are also two excellent parish roads, besides others, facilitating the communication in every direction; and several convenient bridges. The rateable annual value of Mouswald is £3997. Its ecclesiastical affairs are subject to the presbytery of Lochmaben and synod of Dumfries; patron, the Marquess of Queensberry. The stipend is £200; and there is a commodious manse, with a glebe of 16 acres, valued at £20 per annum. The church is a handsome edifice, built a few years ago, and seats 386 persons. There is a parochial school, where the classics, with the usual branches, are taught; the master has a salary of £25. 13. 5., with the legal accommodations, and about £10 fees. The remains of several border forts are still visible, with some ancient cairns.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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