- ETTRICK, a parish, in the county of Selkirk, 18½ miles (S. W.) from Selkirk; containing 525 inhabitants. The name, of uncertain origin, is supposed by some to be in the Gaelic language descriptive of the river on which Ettrick is situated. The parish is about ten miles in length, and nearly of equal breadth in the widest part, and comprises 43,968 acres, of which 217 are arable, 120 meadow, 270 woods and plantations, 150 water, and the remainder pasture. The surface is broken by numerous hills, some of which are of mountainous height, and all covered with verdure from their base to their summit, with the exception only of a few whose brows and summits of heath add to the variety and beauty of the landscape. Ettrick Pen, the highest of these mountains, has an elevation of 2200, Wardlaw of 1980, and Old Ettrick hill of 1800 feet above the level of the sea. The chief river is the Ettrick, which rises on the south side of a mountainous ridge, between Loch-fell and Capel-fell, and in its progress through the parish receives numerous streams descending from the heights; it generally flows with an equable and tranquil current, but, when swollen by continued rains, it acquires the impetuosity of a torrent, and, frequently bursting its banks, inundates the adjacent lands. After leaving the parish, it pursues a north-eastern direction, and falls into the Tweed near Abbotsford. The Timah, a small rivulet, has its source in the hills on the confines of the parish of Eskdalemuir, and, after a course of about six miles through this parish, falls into the Ettrick near the church: the Rankleburn, also a small rivulet, rises near the source of the Timah, and joins the Ettrick not far from the ruins of the castle of Tushielaw. These streams abound with trout; and in the Ettrick, salmon and sea-trout are found in the ordinary seasons.The soil is very various; on the summits of the hills, a deep moss; on the slopes, a mossy gravel; on the low lands, a rich alluvial deposit, and in general fertile. The crops are, oats and barley, with potatoes and turnips; the system of agriculture is improved; the lands have been drained and partially inclosed, and the farm-buildings are commodious and well built. The principal attention, however, is paid to the rearing and pasture of sheep and cattle; the Cheviot breed of sheep has altogether superseded the old black-faced kind, and the average number annually pastured in the parish may be taken as about 26,000. Recently, Highland Kyloes have been introduced on some of the farms, and eat the refuse of the pastures, and render them more fertile. The milch-cows are all of the short-horned and Ayrshire breeds, and about 400 head of black-cattle are pastured every year. A due degree of attention to the improvement of live stock has been excited by the Pastoral Society, instituted in 1818, under the patronage of the late Lord Napier, and which holds one of its annual meetings here. The rateable value of Ettrick is £7844. Though formerly part of an extensive forest, there is very little old timber in the parish; the chief trees are, the mountain and common ash, birch, alder, willow, and thorn. The plantations, which are of comparatively recent formation, consist of Scotch and spruce firs and larch, intermixed with the various kinds of forest trees; they are well managed, and in a flourishing condition. The principal substrata are greywacke and clay-slate, of which the rocks are formed. A small nodule of antimony was once found in the channel of a burn, near the source of the Ettrick, but, after diligent search, no further appearance of it could be ascertained; pyrites of iron have been also discovered occasionally, and near the loch of the Lowes, which borders on the parish, is a black rock of glossy appearance, supposed to consist of aluminous slate. Thirlstane, the seat of Lord Napier, is a handsome mansion of modern erection, situated in a romantic and deeply-sequestered spot. Facility of communication is afforded by excellent roads, which traverse the parish for an extent of thirty miles, opening an easy intercourse between its most distant parts and with all the neighbouring towns. All were constructed, and brought to their present state of perfection, under the persevering efforts of the late Lord Napier, to whom the parish is deeply indebted for its present improved condition, and by whose liberality numerous pleasing and comfortable cottages have been spread over a tract of land previously little better than a dreary desert. Fairs are held in the end of March, for the sale of ewes and the hiring of farm-servants and shepherds; in the end of July, for lambs and wool, and the transaction of general business; at the end of September, for draft ewes, young lambs, and fat sheep; and in November, for fat sheep for the markets. The September fair is the most numerously attended, and generally nearly 10,000 head of stock are exposed for sale. There is a small prison called the "Round House," near the ground where the fairs are held.Ettrick is in the presbytery of Selkirk and synod of Merse and Teviotdale, and patronage of Lord Napier; the minister's stipend is £229. 9. 7., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £28 per annum. The church, situated nearly in the centre of the parish, was rebuilt upon a larger scale in 1824; it is a neat and handsome edifice, adapted for a congregation of about 450 persons. The parochial school affords a liberal course of instruction; the master has a salary of £34 per annum, with £15 fees, and a house and garden. A parochial library, containing more than 800 volumes, has been maintained by subscription and donations, to which Lord Napier has largely contributed; and a Bible and Missionary Society is also supported here, under the patronage of his lordship. In the retired valley of the Rankleburn, which is inclosed with lofty and precipitous hills, are two farm-steads called the Buccleuchs, from which the family of Scott take their ducal title; and in a deep ravine leading from them to the Hawick road, is the spot where the buck was killed, from which circumstance the name of these lands is said to have been derived. About a mile from the farm, and on the bank of the burn, may still be traced the foundations and part of the walls of the church or chapel of Buccleuch. On the road on the banks of the Ettrick are the ruins of the ancient castle of Tushielaw, formerly the stronghold of the Scott family, noted for their predatory excursions in the neighbourhood, and of whom two individuals were convicted, in the reign of James V., of exacting black mail, and the one hanged on a tree near the gate of his castle, and the other beheaded at Edinburgh, and his head fixed on the Tolbooth. About two miles from this spot are the remains of the ancient baronial castle of Thirlstane, surrounded by some ash-trees of very ancient growth; and on the opposite bank of the Ettrick are the ruins of the castle of Gamescleuch, the residence of a branch of the family of the Scotts of Thirlstane. On the lands of the farm of Kirkhope may be traced the boundaries of a cemetery formerly belonging to some church or chapel of which there are no vestiges remaining; and near the farm of Chapelhope are the site and foundations of another church or chapel, with a cemetery attached. An ancient tripod and two stone hatchets were found some years since, and are now in the possession of Lord Napier. About a quarter of a mile from the church was till lately a house, with a gable end, fronting the road, in which was born James Hogg, the Ettrick shepherd. Alexander Cunningham, minister to the state of Venice in the reign of George I., and author of a History of Great Britain from the Revolution in 1688 till the Accession of George I., written in Latin, and long after his decease translated into English, and published, in 1787, by Dr. William Thomson, was born here during the incumbency of his father. Boston, author of the Fourfold State, was minister of Ettrick from 1707 to 1732.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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