Sanquhar

   SANQUHAR, a royal burgh and a parish, in the county of Dumfries, 12 miles (N. W.) from Thornhill, and 57 (S. W. by S.) from Edinburgh; containing, with the villages of Wanlockhead, and Crawickmill, and the hamlets of Crawickbridge and Windyedge, 3577 inhabitants, of whom 1638 are in the burgh. This place, which is of great antiquity, appears at a very early period to have formed part of the possessions of a younger branch of the Ross family, lords of the Isles, from whom it passed, by marriage with the daughter of the last lord, to William, son of Thomas, Lord Crichton, in the reign of Robert Bruce. The barony was subsequently purchased from the Crichton family by Sir William Douglas, of Drumlanrig, and is now the property of the Duke of Buccleuch, who derives the inferior title of Earl of Sanquhar from this place. The town is pleasantly situated at a short distance from the river Nith, on the high road from Dumfries to Ayr, and consists principally of one spacious street nearly a mile in length. A public library was established in 1800; it contains nearly 1900 volumes, and is supported by subscription. There is also a Freemasons' lodge. One of the chief branches of trade is the weaving of cotton for the Glasgow manufacturers, who supply the yarn; this affords employment to about 100 men; and the tambouring of muslin is also pursued to a considerable extent, about 400 of the female population being engaged in it. The knitting of stockings, formerly very extensive, and carried to a high degree of perfection, is almost discontinued. An extensive carpet-manufacture has been established at the village of Crawickmill, in which are numerous looms of the most approved construction, with the requisite machinery for preparing, dyeing, and spinning the yarn. In this establishment, in which more than 200 persons are employed, about eighty tons of wool and 20,000 pounds of English worsted yarns are annually consumed, producing an immense quantity of carpeting. A few of the carpets are sold in the immediate neighbourhood, and some are sent to the London market; but the greater number are exported to North and South America, to Hamburgh, and St. Petersburgh. The Crawickmill Company once had also an establishment in the town for the weaving of tartans, of which about 20,000 yards were annually made, valued at £1333. Four fairs are held, one every quarter, and four annual markets; the former for general business, and the sale of shoes, onions, and other articles; and the latter for cattle.
   The town was erected into a royal burgh by charter of James VI., granted to Robert Crichton, Lord of Sanquhar, in 1596, and under which the government is vested in a provost, three bailies, a dean of guild, a treasurer, and eleven councillors. There are five incorporated trades, the weavers, tailors, hammermen, shoemakers, and squaremen; but none of them possess any exclusive privileges. The magistrates exercise the usual civil and criminal jurisdiction. The town-hall, situated at the end of the High-street, was built at the sole expense of the Duke of Queensberry, and is a neat structure with a tower; there is also a lock-up house at Sanquhar, in which offenders are occasionally confined for a short time, previously to their commitment to the county gaol. The burgh is associated with those of Annan, Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, and Lochmaben, in returning a member to the imperial parliament; the number of registered voters is sixty-six. A savings' bank, in which the sums deposited now amount to £5000, was opened in the town in 1819. Facility of communication is afforded by good turnpike and other roads, which intersect the parish, and are kept in excellent order; and by bridges over the Nith and the other streams. A post-office, from which letters are delivered twice a day, has been established; and the mails from Carlisle to Glasgow, and from Glasgow to Carlisle, pass regularly through the town.
   The parish is about eighteen miles in length, and of varying breadth, comprising an area of 38,880 acres, of which 5513 are arable, 735 woodland and plantations, and the remainder hill pasture, moorland, and waste. The surface, which is of very irregular form, is bounded on the north-east and south-west by hills of considerable elevation, of which Lowther on the north-east, connected by a chain of heights with the Hartfell mountains, towers 3130 feet above the level of the sea; while Black-Larg hill on the south-west, near the junction of the counties of Ayr and Galloway, is 2890 feet in height. The lands are divided into two nearly equal portions by the river Nith, which intersects the parish from south-east to north-west, and on both sides of which extends a fine vale more than five miles in length, whence the grounds have a gradual acclivity. The Nith flows with a serpentine course, receiving in its progress the Crawick and Minnick on the north-east, and the Euchan and Killoe on the south-west, with numerous smaller streams. The soil in the valley is generally dry and gravelly, but in some parts a rich loam; at a greater distance from the river, on both sides, it is chiefly clay and moss, deep, and well adapted for pasture. The crops are, oats, barley, potatoes, and turnips. The system of husbandry has been improved; draining is extensively practised, and the lands have been well inclosed; the farm-houses are mostly commodious, and great attention is paid to the rearing and management of live-stock. The cattle are usually of the native breed; and the sheep, of which more than 20,000 are annually reared in the pastures, are, with the exception of about 2000 of the Cheviot, and a few of the Leicestershire, all of the black-faced breed. There are 280 acres of natural wood along the banks of the rivers, consisting of oak, birch, and hazel; and on the lands of Eliock are above 450 acres of plantations of oak, ash, mountain-ash, elm, birch, beech, hazel, Swedish maple, larch, spruce, silver-fir, balm of Gilead, and Scotch fir; all under excellent management and in a very thriving state. The principal substrata are, limestone, whinstone, and greywacke; and the chief minerals, coal and lead-ore. The limestone, which is found only between the town of Sanquhar and the village of Wanlockhead, has been wrought, but not with any great success. The coal is found in great abundance in the valley of the Nith, and at present three mines belonging to the Duke of Buccleuch are in operation, employing about sixty men; the coal is of good quality. There is also a seam, the property of the burgh, in which twenty men are employed. The lead-ore is extensively wrought at the village of Wanlockhead, which is described under its own head. The rateable annual value of the parish is £9599. Eliock House, the seat of James Veitch, Esq., about two miles from the town, is an ancient mansion, and supposed to have been the birth-place of the Admirable Crichton.
   The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Penpont and synod of Dumfries. The minister's stipend is £264. 19. 2., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £30 per annum; patron, the Duke of Buccleuch. The church, erected in 1824, is an elegant structure in the later English style of architecture, and contains 1000 sittings, of which sixty are free. A chapel, or preaching station, in connexion with the Established Church, was built at Wanlockhead in 1755, by the mining company, for the benefit of the persons employed in the mines; it contains 250 sittings, and the minister has a stipend of £65, paid by the Duke of Buccleuch, with a house, and a small portion of land. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, the United Secession, the Reformed Synod, and Baptists. The parochial schoolmaster has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with a house and garden, and the fees average £90 per annum; he has also the interest of £100 bequeathed by the late Rev. David Martin, a native of the parish, and a clergyman of the Church of England. The Crichton school, of which the master has a salary of £58, was erected within the last seven years, at a cost of £3000, including the site and the endowment for the master. A school is also supported by the mining company in the village of Wanlockhead. The remains of the ancient castle of Sanquhar are situated on an eminence in the vicinity of the town, and form an interesting and picturesque ruin; it was for some time in the possession of the English during the reign of Edward I., but was retaken by Sir William Douglas, who put the garrison to the sword. The Rev. Andrew Thomson, an eminent divine, and minister of St. George's church, in the city of Edinburgh, who died in 1831, was a native of this parish.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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