- CUMMERTREES, a parish, in the county of Dumfries; including the village of Powfoot, and containing 1277 inhabitants, of whom 124 are in the village of Cummertrees, 4 miles (W.) from Annan. The parish is supposed to have derived its name, anciently written Cumbertres, from its having been formerly covered with timber, considerable tracts of which still remain, besides subterraneous forests of oak, fir, and birch, with which the mosses are every where filled. It is remarkable as containing the farm of Bruce, in which there is a field called Broom Acres, where it is said that Robert Bruce, through the treachery of a black-smith, sustained a severe repulse from the English. The most conspicuous family with which the ancient history stands connected, is that of Herries. Their residence, Hoddam Castle, which is situated on the south bank of the river Annan, is said to have been built with the stones of a more ancient castle of the same name, between the years 1437 and 1484, by John, Lord Herries, of Herries. The older castle had been inhabited, in the beginning of the 14th century, by a branch of the family of Robert Bruce, and destroyed some time afterwards by a border law. The family of Herries was very powerful, and acquired a large extent of country; but about the year 1627, the barony of Hoddam was obtained by Sir Richard Murray, of Cockpool.The parish comprehends the ancient chapelry of Trailtrow, which was annexed to it at the Reformation; and is about seven miles in extreme length, and four in extreme breadth, containing about 10,000 acres. It is bounded by the Solway Frith on the south. A part of the surface is level, forming an inclined plane which rises gently from the south towards the north, the highest point being not more than 200 feet above the sea; but after this there is a descent, from the Tower of Repentance to the river Annan, which is somewhat rapid. The coast is flat, sandy, and uninteresting. Salmon, sea-trout, flounders, codlings, and occasionally turbot and soles, are taken in the Solway, and considerable quantities of cockles and muscles along the shores; in the Annan, salmon, common trout, and herling are plentiful. The soil in some places is sandy, and in others gravelly; in a few instances deep rich loam is met with, but in general the soil is a thin wet clay, resting upon a hard tilly subsoil, and requiring much skill to render it productive. About 6000 acres are occasionally under tillage, and 800 are moss, of which, however, 300 are capable of cultivation; about 1000 acres are under wood, consisting chiefly of plantations. The crops are nearly the same as in other parishes where the modern improvements in husbandry have been introduced. Cattle are reared in large numbers; the few sheep kept are generally a cross between the Cheviots and South downs. Many hundreds of acres which were waste thirty years ago, are now in flourishing plantations, or under cultivation, and inclosed with good hedges; indeed, the successful application of the best system of husbandry has entirely altered the face of the parish within the present century. The rocks consist of limestone and sandstone, the former of which, quarried at Kelhead, is celebrated as among the finest in the country, and brings an annual revenue of above £1000; there are also two sandstone quarries. The rateable annual value of the parish is £6022.The most interesting residence is the ancient castle, remarkable for its strength and the thickness of its walls, and which has received several additions by its respective proprietors, of whom the late General Sharpe built a large wing, in keeping with the other parts of the edifice. The parish also contains the modern mansion of Kinmount House, built by the Marquess of Queensberry, at the cost of £40,000. The turnpike-road from Portpatrick to Carlisle intersects the parish. The ecclesiastical affairs are directed by the presbytery of Annan and synod of Dumfries; patron, the Crown. There is a manse, with a glebe of the annual value of £18; and the minister's stipend, including a government grant of £37, is £158. The church, which was founded by Robert Bruce, has frequently been rebuilt and enlarged, the last time about fifty-five years since, and contains 450 sittings. There is a parochial school, in which, besides the ordinary branches, the classics, geography, and navigation are taught; the master has a salary of £30, with £25 fees, and the allowance of house and garden. Among the relics of antiquity is the Tower of Repentance, said to have been built in the 15th century, by Lord Herries, who, having used the stones of an old chapel in building Hoddam Castle, of which he afterwards repented, erected this tower, to pacify his conscience, and to make his peace with the Bishop of Glasgow, diocesan of the chapel. It is twenty-five feet high, and stands on an eminence, which is seen at a distance of thirty miles on all sides.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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