- SORBIE, a parish, in the district of Machers, county of Wigton, 6 miles (S.) from Wigton; containing, with the villages of Garliestown and Sorbie, 1700 inhabitants, of whom 809 are in the rural districts, and 235 in the village of Sorbie. This place comprehends the three ancient parishes of Sorbie, Kirkmadrine, and Cruggleton, which were united about the middle of the 17th century. It is supposed to have derived its name, originally Sourby, signifying in the Saxon language "a gloomy habitation," from the situation of its castle on the confines of a cold and dreary marsh that has been since drained and brought under cultivation. The castle of Sorbie, of which there are now but very inconsiderable remains, belonged, together with the lands attached to it, to the family of the Hannays in the reign of James IV., and continued in their possession till about the commencement of the present century: the Earl of Galloway is now the principal landed proprietor. The castle of Cruggleton, from which that parish took its name, and of which only some of the foundations of the walls, and part of an arch, are at present left, was seated on the summit of a bold promontory near the mouth of Wigton bay; and is said to have been the baronial residence of John Cumyn, Earl of Buchan, in the 13th century, as one of the coheirs of the ancient lords of Galloway. In 1292, the earl obtained from Edward I. of England licence to procure lead in the Calf of Man, for the roofing of his castle of Cruggleton, which, after his subsequent defeat by Robert Bruce, was, with the neighbouring lands, forfeited to the crown. Of its subsequent history little is known; it became a ruin towards the close of the 17th century, and the estate is now the property of Sir Andrew Agnew, of Lochnaw, Bart.The parish is bounded on the east by Wigton bay, and is about six miles in extreme length, varying from three miles and a half to nearly six miles in breadth, and comprising 9000 acres, of which 7700 are arable with a moderate proportion of meadow and pasture, 400 woodland and plantations, and the remainder moor and waste. The surface is diversified with hills of moderate elevation, interspersed with fertile valleys, and commanding from their summits fine views of the bay of Wigton, Solway Frith, the Cumberland mountains, and the Isle of Man. The prevailing scenery, enlivened with flourishing plantations, is agreeably varied, and in some parts picturesque. There are no rivers of any importance; but on the north-western boundary is Loch Dowalton, so called from the former proprietor of the lands, a fine sheet of water more than three miles in circumference, and varying from six to twenty feet in depth. From this lake, which abounds with pike, perch, and eels, issues a small stream which intersects the parish from west to east, and flows into Garliestown bay; and in various parts of the parish are perennial springs, affording an ample supply of excellent water. The coast, including its several windings, is about twelve miles in extent; and is indented with numerous bays, of which the principal are those of Garliestown and Rigg, whereof the latter, in compliment to Capt. Hunter, of the royal navy, who brought his ship to anchor there, has since been sometimes called Hunter's bay: on the north is Orchardton bay, which is dry at low water. The bay of Garliestown is well adapted for the construction of a spacious harbour, which would greatly facilitate the trade between the western coast of England and this country. The smaller bays are, Innerwell, Allan, and Whapple; and the principal headlands, Eagerness, Innerwell, and Cruggleton Points, of which Eagerness Point is the most prominent. The shore on the north, and at Garliestown and Rigg, is flat and sandy; at Eagerness it is rocky, but not precipitous; while from the south-east of Rigg bay to Whithorn it is bold and precipitous, rising in some places abruptly to a height of 200 feet above the level of the sea. The rocks on this part of the coast are perforated with two nearly contiguous caves, each about 120 feet in depth, and both having arched roofs of great beauty, naturally formed in the solid rock; the one is 100 feet in height and thirty-six feet in width, and the other forty feet high and fifteen feet wide. A salmon-fishery is carried on at Port-Innerwell, which produces an annual rental of £200 to the proprietors; and herrings, mackerel, cod, and various other kinds of fish, are also taken here in abundance. Herrings were likewise found some few years since off Garliestown, and many of the inhabitants engaged in the fishery; but from recent want of success, it has been almost discontinued.The soil is generally light, but fertile, and in a high state of cultivation; the crops are, oats, barley, a little wheat, some potatoes, and turnips, with the usual grasses. The system of husbandry has been much improved of late, and bone-dust has been introduced with success. The farm houses and offices are mostly substantial and conveniently arranged, the lands inclosed, and the fences kept in good repair; the greatest encouragement is given to the tenantry by the proprietors, and the liberal terms on which the leases are granted afford a powerful stimulus to improvement. Great attention is paid to the management of live-stock. The sheep are of the common native breed, with a mixture of others; many of them are bought in at the Falkirk trysts, and, when fattened on turnips, sent to the Liverpool markets by steam-boats, for which the parish has every facility. The cattle are all of the Galloway breed; they are mostly of a black colour, without horns, and are usually sold when two or three years old to dealers who send them to Dumfries, where they are purchased for the supply of the English markets. The plantations comprise oak, ash, beech, birch, alder, plane, larch, and the various kinds of firs, for all of which the soil appears to be well adapted; they are regularly thinned, and in a thriving state. In the grounds of Galloway House are some remarkably fine specimens of laurel, evergreen, Turkey oak, and horse-chesnut. The rocks are generally of the transition series; and the substrata, whinstone and gravel, with a few boulders of granite, which lie on the surface, and seldom exceed three feet in length. Neither ores nor minerals of any kind have been discovered, nor are there any quarries in operation. The rateable annual value of the parish is £8646. Galloway House, the seat of the Earl of Galloway, is a stately mansion erected about the middle of the 18th century, and beautifully situated on the coast, between the bays of Garliestown and Rigg, over both of which it commands an interesting view, with the Cumberland mountains and the Isle of Man in the distance. The house contains many spacious and elegant apartments tastefully embellished, and a library of many thousand volumes in the various departments of literature; the grounds are richly embellished with ancient timber and thriving plantations.The village of Garliestown is described under its own head. That of Sorbie was commenced towards the close of the last century, under the auspices of the Earl of Galloway: it is situated nearly in the centre of the parish; the houses are neatly built, and the environs abound with much pleasing scenery. The manufacture of damask was established here about fifty years since, and was brought to very great perfection, both for fineness of texture, and beauty and variety of patterns; the damask was made from the best Dutch flax spun by hand, and the articles produced were in high repute throughout Scotland and England. Some damask manufactured here in 1800 was sent to Edinburgh, and submitted for competition at the annual meeting of the Board of Trustees, where it obtained the highest premium; and complete suits of table-linen have been prepared at this place for most of the noble families in the kingdom. The manufactory afforded employment to about 100 persons, including both weavers and spinners. There are still rope and sail works at Garliestown, and some shops in the village of Sorbie for the supply of the inhabitants. Letters are delivered daily from the post-office of Wigton; and facility of communication is maintained by good roads, which intersect the parish in various directions, and by steam-boats and other vessels, which frequent the harbour of Garliestown. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Wigton and synod of Galloway: the minister's stipend is £244. 13. 7., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £15 per annum; patron, the Crown. The church, situated in the village, was rebuilt in 1750, and repaired in 1826; it is a neat substantial structure containing 500 sittings. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship; and there is a place of worship at Garliestown for Independents. The parochial school is well conducted, and attended by about sixty children; the master has a salary of £33. 3., with a house and garden, and the fees average £20 annually. There are several other schools, of which two, at Garliestown, are endowed by the Earl and Countess of Galloway. Some remains exist of the ancient church of Kirkmadrine, which appears to have been a very small structure; the old churchyard is still used as a burying-ground by some families. Patrick Hannay, a poet of some eminence, was a native of this parish: a volume of his poems, published in 1662, was recently sold in London for the sum of £42. 10. 6.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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