- CRAWFORDJOHN, a parish, in the Upper ward of the county of Lanark; including the post-village of Abington, and containing 993 inhabitants, of whom 137 are in the village of Crawfordjohn. This place, of which the name is supposed to have been derived from some proprietor of lands within the district, appears to have been originally a chapelry in the parish of Wiston. It was granted, together with the church of that place, to the monastery of Glasgow, and subsequently to that of Kelso, which retained it till about the year 1450, when it became a separate and independent parish. The lands coming into the possession of two co-heiresses, were for a considerable time held in moieties, till, in the reign of James V., Sir James Hamilton of Finart obtained them. After his decease, they descended to the Hamiltons of this place and Avondale, from whom, together with the patronage of the church, they were purchased by James, Marquess of Hamilton, about the year 1620. In the reign of Charles II., the village of Crawfordjohn was, by charter granted to Anne, Duchess of Hamilton, made a burgh of barony, and the inhabitants were endowed with the privilege of a weekly market and several annual fairs, which have long been in disuse. Few events of historical importance are connected with the place: part of the rebel forces passed through it on their march to Glasgow, in the year 1745.The parish is pleasantly situated on the banks of the river Duneaton, which partly separates it on the north from the parish of Douglas; it is bounded on the south by the river Glengonner. On the east flows the river Clyde, and on the west are the counties of Dumfries and Ayr, which unite with that of Lanark on the border of the parish, at a point where a stone has been erected called the Three-shire stone. The length of the parish is nearly twelve miles, and its breadth, which may be averaged at nine, varies from two to ten miles, comprising an irregular area of 26,600 acres, of which 4200 are arable, about 60 plantations, and the remainder pasture for sheep. The surface is sometimes flat, and inclosed by gently sloping hills of various elevation, forming a spacious glen, through which the river Duneaton winds its course for nearly nine miles, receiving in its progress the waters of the Snar, Blackburn, and other streams. The rivers abound with trout, and the Blackburn is celebrated for a dark-coloured species, which excel in quality, and are in great request, and also for eels, of which some are of large growth.The soil is extremely various; on the banks of the river it is a rich black loam, except in those parts which are subject to inundation, where it becomes mixed with sand and gravel. The sides of the hills are in some places a deep red clay, capable, under proper management, of producing excellent crops; and in several parts is a deep moss, which, after judicious draining, has in many instances been converted into fertile arable land. The principal crops are, oats, bear, potatoes, and turnips. The pastures are very rich; the meadows afford abundant crops of clover and rye-grass, and the hills yield good pasturage for sheep, of which the average number permanently kept in the parish exceeds 10,000. There are several large dairy-farms producing butter and cheese, which are of excellent quality, and find a ready market at Edinburgh and Glasgow; and a peculiar kind of cheese compounded of cows' and ewes' milk obtains a high price, and is in great demand. The average number of cows exceeds 1000, chiefly of the Ayrshire breed, to the improvement of which much attention has been paid; the sheep are of the black-faced kind, except a few of a mixed breed between the Cheviot and the Leicester. The plantations, which are chiefly at Glespin, Gilkerscleugh, and Abington, are Scotch fir, spruce, beech, lime, chesnut, and oak. Some advance has been made in draining and inclosing the lands; and a society for encouraging the improvement of live stock has been established by the farmers of this and the parish of Crawford, which has been sanctioned by many of the heritors in both. The rateable annual value of the parish is £6329.The substratum of the soil and the bases of the hills are mostly whinstone and freestone, of which several quarries are worked; limestone is also prevalent, and works have been established at Whitecleugh and Wildshaw. There are indications of coal in several parts of the parish, though no works have been opened; leadore has been found at Craighead, and near the source of the Snar, at which latter place it is wrought. Some vestiges remain of a work opened at Abington for the discovery of gold; and in repairing a road some years since, several pieces of spar, in which copper was imbedded, were found among the rubbish. There is also a tradition that silver-mines were formerly wrought in the parish, though probably it might have originated in finding small portions of that metal in combination with the lead-ore. A subscription library has been established in the village of Crawfordjohn, and there is likewise one supported at Abington. The parish is in the presbytery of Lanark and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. The minister's stipend is £233. 13., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £16 per annum; patron. Sir T. E. Colebrooke. The church, which is conveniently situated, was enlarged in 1817, and will accommodate 300 persons. The parochial school is attended by about seventy scholars; the master has a salary of £32, with £26 fees, and a house and garden. There were formerly the remains of the castles of Crawfordjohn, Mosscastle, Glendorch, and Snar, the last of which was celebrated for the exploits of its proprietor during the border warfare. On a hill near Gilkerscleugh are traces of a circular encampment consisting of two concentric circles, the innermost of which is about thirty yards in diameter, and has between it and the outer an interval of ten yards. There are vestiges of a similar intrenchment near Abington; and on the bank of the river Clyde is a moat, in the centre of which is a mound about fifty yards in circumference at the base, and thirty feet in height. In the peat-bogs are frequently discovered alder-trees and hazel in a prostrate position, and, at various times, coins of Antoninus, and others of the reign of Edward I.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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