Wamphray

   WAMPHRAY, a parish, in the county of Dumfries, 9 miles (S. E. by S.) from the town of Moffat; containing 509 inhabitants. This place derives its name, in the Gaelic signifying "the deep glen in the forest," from the situation of its church in a sequestered and thickly-wooded vale on the south side of the Water of Wamphray. It appears to have been of some little consequence at an early period, and there are still vestiges of the ancient house of Wamphray. There are no events of historical importance recorded in connexion with the place; but at Girth-Head, in the parish, are some remains of a Roman station, and also the vestiges of a road leading from it to Carlisle, on which are several stones at equal distances, supposed to have been Roman milestones, near one of which Charles II. is said to have passed a night on his route to England a little before the battle of Worcester. The parish is situated in the district of Upper Annandale, and bounded on the west by the river Annan, which separates it from the parishes of Johnstone and Kirkpatrick-Juxta. It is about six miles and a half in length and three miles in breadth, comprising 12,000 acres; 3000 are arable, 250 woodland and plantations, and the remainder hill-pasture, moorland, and waste. The surface is marked by two mountainous ranges, nearly parallel with each other, and with the river Annan, which intersect the parish from the south-east to the north-west, and have an elevation varying from 1000 to 2500 feet above the level of the sea; and also by two ranges of hills of inferior height, of which the highest does not attain more than 1000 feet. Between these heights are some beautiful valleys, and tracts of level land in a state of high cultivation: the vale of the Wamphray is exceedingly fertile, and abounds with pleasingly picturesque scenery. The Wamphray water, which has its source in the hills to the north of the parish, taking a southern direction, flows through the valley to which it gives name, in some parts between banks richly wooded, and in others between precipitous rocks of freestone and basaltic columns mantled with ivy. In about the middle of its gracefullywinding course it forms numerous romantic cascades, behind the manse, not far from the church; and after a progress of nearly two miles and a half between the mountain ranges, and having received not a few streams from the heights, it abruptly diverts its channel to the west, and falls into the river Annan on the boundary of the parish. There is also a beautiful cascade in the northern part of the parish, upon the borders of Moffat; it is called the Bell-Craig, and attracts many visiters from the mineral wells of that place.
   The soil is various; on the banks of the Annan, a deep rich loam; in some parts, of lighter quality, varying in colour from a bright red to a dark brown; and in others, clay: the lower grounds have a subsoil of sand or gravel. The crops are, wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, and turnips, with the usual grasses, and vegetables and fruit of all kinds. The system of husbandry has been greatly improved within the last thirty years; the farms are of considerable extent, and the farm houses and offices in general handsomely built, and well adapted to the nature of the farms, upon all of which threshing-machines have been erected. Much waste land has been reclaimed and brought into cultivation, and several of the larger sheep-walks are interspersed with portions of arable ground, producing excellent crops: the lands have been mostly inclosed, and the fences are kept in good repair. Many of the poorer cottagers have pendicles of land attached to their dwellings, in the cultivation of which, during the intervals of labour at their respective callings, they are profitably engaged. The cattle are chiefly of the Galloway breed, and much attention is paid to their improvement; the sheep are of the Cheviot breed, occasionally crossed with the Leicestershire, and of the black-faced breed, of which latter, however, the number is comparatively small. About 500 head of cattle, and nearly 16,000 sheep, including 1000 of the black-faced, are annually reared in the pastures; and a considerable number of swine are fed on the several farms. The grain raised in the parish is either used for home consumption, or sold in the neighbourhood; the cattle are purchased by dealers for the Dumfries market, and the sheep are sent to Liverpool and other places in the south, and occasionally to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
   The plantations, which are mostly of recent date, consist of Scotch fir, and larch, interspersed with oak, ash, and other forest-trees; they are under careful management, regularly thinned, and generally in a thriving state. Along the banks of the rivers are some remains of natural wood, chiefly oak and ash. The rocks in the parish are mainly of the secondary formation, and in the lower parts the hills are mostly composed of greywacke; limestone is found in some places, but is not wrought, from the scarcity of fuel; and freestone, but of very inferior quality, occurs in several parts. The rateable annual value of Wamphray is £3573. There are a few good houses occupied by some of the smaller landed proprietors, but no seats, and the village, which is called Newton, is very inconsiderable. Letters are forwarded from the office at Moffat, with which facility of communication is maintained by the turnpike-road to Langholm; other roads also pass through the parish, and are kept in repair by statute labour. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Lochmaben and synod of Dumfries. The minister's stipend is £221. 12. 10., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £12 per annum; patron, the Earl of Hopetoun. The church, situated nearly in the centre of the parish, is a neat substantial structure, erected in 1834, and containing sufficient accommodation for the parishioners. There is also a place of worship for members of the Relief. The parochial school is attended by nearly ninety children; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with a house and garden, and the fees average about £25 annually. There are vestiges of several ancient camps in the parish, some of which are supposed to be of Roman origin, especially one near the Roman road previously noticed, and another to the rear of it; and there were also till lately the remains of a Druidical circle, almost entire, on a rising ground to the east of the church, but which, in the recent progress of agriculture, were removed. The late Dr. Rogerson, first physician to Catherine, Empress of Russia, spent the earlier part of his life here, and afterwards purchased the principal estate in the parish, near which he resided till his decease; and he, and his son, the late Dr. John Rogerson, physician to the forces, were buried here.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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