- WALSTON, a parish, in the Upper ward of the county of Lanark; containing, with the village of Ellsrickle, 493 inhabitants, of whom 101 are in the village of Walston, 4 miles (N. by E.) from Biggar. The ancient name is supposed by some to have been Welston, and derived from the numerous springs here, of which one became celebrated for its efficacy in the cure of cutaneous diseases; other writers think it was Waldefs-town, from its proprietor, Waldef, brother of the Earl Cospatrick. The lands of Walston, together with those of Eldgerith, now Ellsrickle, once constituted a barony co-extensive with the present parish, and forming part of the lordship of Bothwell, which, from repeated forfeitures, belonged at different times to various proprietors. On the forfeiture of James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, in 1567, the barony was granted by James VI. to John, Earl of Mar, by whom it was sold to the Baillie family, from whom, together with the patronage of the church, the manor of Walston was purchased by George Lockhart, Esq., of Carnwath, whose descendant, Sir Norman Macdonald Lockhart, Bart., is the present proprietor. The lands of Ellsrickle are divided among several proprietors, of whom the principal is John Allan Woddrop, Esq. The parish is bounded on the north by the small river Medwin, and is about three miles in length and from two to three in breadth, comprising an area of nearly 4500 acres, of which 2900 are arable, 1100 meadow and hill pasture, and about 40 woodland and plantations. The surface is in some parts gently undulating, and diversified with hills in other parts, rising rapidly. Towards the east is Black-Mount, 1600 feet above the level of the sea: from this the surface declines gradually to little more than half that height, forming on one side the valley of the Medwin, and on the other the gradually expanding vale of Ellsrickle. On the northern side of Black-Mount are the springs from which the parish is supposed to have derived its name, and of which the principal are, the Buckwell, the Silver wells, and Walston well. They afford a copious supply of excellent water, and form numerous burns that flow into the Medwin, which, after passing the parish in a direct channel sunk for that purpose, pursues a winding course to the westward, and falls into the river Clyde.The soil in the valleys is a brown mossy loam, alternated with sand; on the slopes of the hills, of a more tenacious quality; and in some parts, a deep and rich loam. The crops are, grain of all kinds, turnips, potatoes, and hay; the system of agriculture is in a highly advanced state, and the rotation plan generally adopted. The lands have been greatly improved by furrow-draining; and the lower grounds, which were in many parts subject to inundation from the winding course of the Medwin, have been protected by diverting its waters into the straight channel already alluded to constructed in 1829. The dairy-farms are under good management; and the butter and cheese, of which latter the Dunlop kind is becoming more general, find a ready market in Edinburgh. The cows are of the Ayrshire breed, with an occasional cross with the short-horned; about 400 are pastured on the several farms, and on the hills and other lands are about 700 sheep. The plantations are chiefly larch and Scotch fir; but from the small number of acres that have been planted, great want of shelter is still experienced, to the manifest injury of the crops. The hills are mostly of the trap-rock formation, with superincumbent strata of sandstone; and limestone, found in some parts of the parish, was formerly quarried and burnt for manure; but the difficulty of obtaining coal has rendered it more profitable to bring lime from a distance. No minerals are now met with; but there are some caverns on the Borland farm, near Walston well, which indicate an attempt at mining, supposed to have been made by a company of Germans in the reign of James V. The rateable annual value of the parish, according to returns made for the purposes of the Income tax, is £2137.The village of Walston, situated on the west of the Black Mount, has been for some years declining, and is now very small: the village of Ellsrickle, however, on the south side, has been gradually increasing, and, under the auspices of the proprietor, Mr. Woddrop, who has laid out allotments for building, may soon be of considerable extent. The situation of both villages is pleasing, but the latter has the advantage of some thriving plantations in its vicinity. A few of the inhabitants of both are employed in hand-loom weaving for the cotton manufacturers of Glasgow. Facility of communication is afforded by the turnpike-roads from Dumfries to Edinburgh, and from Carnwath to Peebles, which pass through the parish. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Biggar and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale. The minister's stipend is £157. 10. 10., of which more than half is paid from the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe valued at £12 per annum: patron, Sir Norman Macdonald Lockhart. The church is a neat plain structure, chiefly erected about the close of the last century, but having an aisle of more ancient date in the later English style, with a window of elegant design; it is in good repair, and contains 190 sittings. The parochial school is situated at Walston: the master has a salary of £30, with a house, and an allowance of £2. 2. in lieu of garden; the fees average £12 per annum. There is likewise a school at Ellsrickle. A parochial library was commenced in 1814, and has a collection of about 500 volumes, principally on religious subjects. There is also a friendly society, established in 1808, and which has contributed greatly to diminish the claims on the funds for parochial relief. A tripod of brass was a few years since discovered by the plough, on the farm of Borland; it is supposed to be a relic of Roman antiquity, and celts have also been found in different parts. Stone coffins have frequently been dug up; and near the village of Ellsrickle was lately found one containing an urn which, on exposure to the air, crumbled into dust. On the farm of Cocklaw are the remains of a circular camp, consisting of two concentric circles of mounds and ditches; the inner circle is twenty-seven yards in diameter, and between it and the outer circle is an interval of five yards.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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