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|Stastical AccountDalziel Parish
|Parish of Dalziel|
| Parish of Dalziel
By the Rev. Mr Robert Clason
Etymology of the name
This parish is supposed by some to have got it's name from the ancestors of the Dalzells, earls of Carnwath. Others say the name is of celtic origin, and signifies white fieldin the gaelic language, which they supose it has obtained from a kind of white vegetable scurf which grows over the clay soil before it is sweetened by cultivation. But whether the parish has given the sirname to the family, or derived it's name from them, it is certain that the barony was vested in them by a charter from King Robert III in the year 1395. It appears by an old charter still extant, that it had before been in the hands of a family of the name of Sandilands, in the reign of Malcolm Cranmore, and had afterwards come to be in the gift of the Crown, whether from failure of heirs, or forfeiture is not known. There is a tradition, that an early period, a baron of the name of Nisbet also held some part of the parish. The Dalzell's retained these lands till the year 1600, when they were sold to James Hamilton, the brother of Sir John Hamilton of Orbiston, who was Lord
Situation and Extent
This parish is situated in the middle ward of the county of Lanark, in the presbytery of Hamilton, and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. It is of an oblong figure and would be pretty regular, if it were not for the part of the parish of Hamilton, lying on the same side of the river Clyde, indented in it, and almost intersecting it. There is a tradition that this part was disjoined from the parish of Dalziel, on account of the misdemeanors of a curate who was then incumbent. Why it was not restored to his successors is not known. It would have been convinient if it had been so, for the living is very small. The whole length from north-east to north-west is about 4 miles, and the breadth about 2 miles. Mr Hamiltons estate, including road, &c. contains 2113 Scotch acres, and the other properties being about a twelfth more, make the whole 2289 acres. The distance from Glasgow is about 13 miles, from Lanark about 12, and no part is above 4 from Hamilton.
The land is low, and the surface even and regular, being varied only here and there by gentle inequalities. It rises moderately from the two rivers Clyde and Calder, by which it is bounded, to a kind of flat ridge, having always sufficient declivity to carry off the water. There is scarcely and part of it more than 150 feet above the level of the sea. On account of this, and the nature of the soil, snow seldom lies here. it frequently happens, that the neighboring fields lie buried under a white covering, here alone a mild verdure appears. The banks of the Clyde, all along this parish are low with fine vallies or meadows along the side of the river, except in one place, where there is a bold rocky bank for about 300 or 400 yards. Upon the top of this bank the father of the present proprietor, apprehended, from the vestige of a trench, inclosing a spot of an oblong figure, about the forth part of an acre, that he discovered something like the remains of a Roman castellum or outpost, and built a little temple or summerhouse, as well to perpetuate that circumstance, as for the sake of the magnificent landscapes to be seen from the spot; as it commands a view of Hamilton House, the town of Hamilton, and the finely diversified fields around them; and also an extensive prospect both up and down the river, taking in a large number of grand and beautiful objects. This commanding situation seemed to favour the conjecture that it had been an outpost belonging to a pretorium or Roman camp, in another part of this parish to be after mentioned. When the ditch was cleared out, nothing was discovered but a quantity of vitrified cinders resembling the dross of a smith's forge. Mr Hamilton also cleared the face of the rock of the furze and brambles, with which it was covered, and cut a number of terrace walks along it, placing seats at advantageous situations, and planting various kinds of fruit and forest trees, where ever they could be admitted; and in the year 1789, the fruit from this hitherto unprofitable spot was sold for 30l. Sterling.
The banks of the Calder are beautifully diversified with coppices and sloping glades; and upon the east corner of the parish, become boldly rocky and romantic. On these banks Mr Hamilton of Wishaw, who has a farm here, has many acres of thriving forest trees planted, which tend greatly to heighten the scenery.
The soil of the vallies is a rich loam; the rest is almost all of a strong marly clay, some of ti of a peculiar good quality, lying in a natural state in thin horizontal layers, which easily separate in working. It appears naturally sterile, but, by the effects of cultivation, produces good crops; and there is perhaps no part of the neighboring country capable of higher improvement. Even the bottom, though mostly of that kind of blue till which is prevalent in this clay country seems to be more favorable, particularly for the growth of wood, than most of the neighborhood; which perhaps may be owing to its being divided into thin laminae, through the fissures of which the superfluous moisture filters off.
Springs and Rivulets
From the evenness of the surface, the density of the soil, springs and water are not numerous, and this, no doubt, has made those that appear more valued, the most being dignified with the names of particular saints, such as, the Well of our Lady, St Patrick's Well, St Catherine's Well &c. For the same reason there are few brooks, and those but small ones. The most considerable is that formed by the conjuncture of St Catherine's spring with another little rill, which runs through the enclosures around Dalzell House. In one part of it's course, it has obtained a deep bed, with pretty bold banks, and falls, in a few fine cascades, over the rocks which lie in it's bottom.
On the north side of this brook, upon the most picturesque part of the banks, stands the mansion house of Dalziel, attached to the old tower or chatteau of the manor, which has been spared and kept in repair, by the proprietor, solely on account of it's antiquity. It is a high Gothic building, with battlements and loop holes on the top, and a footpath around within them; but it's age is not known. The great Roman highway, commonly called Watling Street, went along the summit of this parish from east to west, but it's course is now much defaced by modern improvements, much of it being dug up, and it's bottom ploughed, and for some length, the modern turnpike road is laid upon the top of it. In one place, however, near the center of the parish, it has been preserved entire, so as to point out the line of after times, the cross stone, the emblem of the baron's jurisdiction, being placed upon it, and that fenced and secured by a large clump of trees planted around. At this place lies a large heap of the cinders from the Roman forges still untouched. Along this ancient road, at the western boundary of the parish, upon a steep bank over the river Calder, is the remains of a pretorium, or Roman encampment. Little more than 20 years ago it was pretty entire; but cultivation has now greatly encroached upon it. At the foot of the bank there is a semicircular arch over the river, of good masonry, and very uncommon construction, which has been supposed to be the work of the Romans. By this bridge Watling Street seems to have entered the parish of Bothwell. In the hall of the old tower, or chateau above mentioned, an iron chain from the ceiling suspends a lustre composed of large stag horns, connected with iron work, and having sockets for the candles of the same metal. Where the gallows stood, on which the barons ordered transgressors to be executed, there is a small column raised, to perpetuate that mark of feudal dignity, and the power annexed to it. The old church of Dalziel, lately deserted, is mentioned by Sir James Dalrymple, in his Historical Church Collections, as a chaplainry dependant on the abbey of Paisley, dedicated to St Patrick. The font for holy water still remains fixed in the wall. In the foundation of the west gable, which was rebuilt in the year 1718, was found a handsome stone coffin, large enough to contain the body of a full grown man, but empty, and seeming as if nothing had ever been in it. In the inside, the upper part is hollowed out to suit the shape of the head and neck; and there was a hewn stone cover for the face, with a star or cinque foil carved upon it. Upon the bank, opposite to that on which the present manor house stands, may still be traced the foundation of a square building, said to have been the residence of the Baron Nisbet above mentioned. By him the cross, spoken of above, is said to have been set up.
Church and School
The present parish church was built in the year 1789. it is a handsome edifice, with a fine spire, and being placed near the centre of the parish, upon the summit of the ridge, is seen a good distance, and makes an agreeable object. The stipend, in whole, is near 50 L sterling, with a house, garden, orchard, and a glebe of between 5 and 6 acres. The salary of the schoolmaster is the smallest legal one, with a dwelling house and garden. there being no other school in the parish, the scholars are very numerous.
The late Archibald Hamilton, esq.; the father of the present proprietor, enjoyed the estate during the course of a long life. His father had begun to plant a little, and this branch of cultivation he prosecuted for a good part of his life, with great judgment and perseverance, planting all kinds of tree known in this country, adapting each to its proper situation and exposure, and covering and adorning a country, which before was sterile and naked, with extensive forests. His success was equal to his attention. His plantations were extended to 150 acres of forest trees, which are the admiration of all who have seen them; to which his successor has added about 10 acres more, beautifying the country, and sheltering the neighboring fields from the cutting blasts, by which along the fertility of many of them is greatly increased. He had the good fortune to live to see trees, which he had planted after he appeared as a lawyer at the bar, grow to 12 feet in girth. He pleased himself with having the furniture of his dining room made of his own wood. And for several years since his death, more timber of his planting has been sold in one year, than the value of the yearly rent of the estate, when he entered into the possession of it; and yet the trees are still too crowded, as to want room to expand their branches.
He was no less attentive to the orchard, than to the forest. Upon sloping banks by the sides of brooks . he planted apple, pear, and plumb trees, from time to time, to the extent of 20 acres; and for a long time past, since these have grown up, the fruits have been sold, in good years, from 100 L to 167 L. Of all these 20 acres, not 6 were worth 6d an acre, except for planting forest trees; but from the variety of exposures which those orchards enjoy, and the tall forests which embosom them, so many of them are secured from the injury of blights and mildews, as always to ensure a crop of fruit, if there be fruit anywhere in the country.
Nor was he less successful in promoting improvement in agriculture, by cherishing and promoting the industry of his tenants. He convinced them by the whole of his conduct, that he took an interest in their welfare. He and his family made themselves intimately acquainted with their condition, were ever ready to hear their tale, to take part in their trouble, or to rejoice in their prosperity. If any of his husbandmen were born down with the pressure of incidental misfortunes, he raised them again by his bounty and forbearance, never dismissing any of them who were willing to continue in their possessions; but, at the end of every lease, preferring them or their posterity to a new one, at a reasonable rent; and this has been so uniformly the practice of his family, that there are tenants who can reckon their ancestors in possession of the same farm, previous to the period at which this family became proprietors. He enclosed the fields with hedges and sheltered them with planting. He abolished the feudal custom of exacting carriages and other services from his tenants; and, in short, did everything to turn their attention solely to the cultivation of their own farms. Under this mild benevolent treatment, the peasantry, finding their industry tended as much to their own and their posterity's permanent advantage, as to that of an indulgent landlord, profited by every lesson and example. They began to summer fallow their fields, to streight their crooked ridges, to carry lime, and make composts; and the benevolent spirit of their landlord spreading among them, everyone is ready to assist his neighbour on all emergencies. And thus has the value of the estate risen to five times the yearly rent, which it yielded when the same gentleman first succeeded to it; and at the same time the condition of the tenants, with their moderate farms, and plain manor of life, is perhaps as happy as any to be met with.
The Scottish plough, drawn by three or four horses, is generally used in this heavy soil; lighter ploughs, drawn by two horses, being only applied to the latter plowings of fallows. This parish is indebted to its late proprietor for another important improvement. All along the highway he gave lease and feus of spots of little value, for building. On these there are now upwards of 50 handsome cottages erected, filled with industrious inhabitants, having neat little kitchen gardens around them; by which he not only improved and beautified his own estate, but set an example, which ahs since been followed by others.
The land here produces principally wheat, beans, pease, oats, butter, cheese, and hay from artificial grasses. There is not much barley cultivated here; and from the strength of the land, flax and turnips are not raised without much trouble, and the return is uncertain. All the inhabitants cultivate potatoes for domestic use. The average quantity of wheat sold, may be about 500 bolls a year, each boll being a little more than 4 Winchester bushels. Before this year, there have not been good crops of pease and beans for several years past; but in tolerable seasons there may be about 600 bolls sold annually. There is generally also a considerable quantity of oatmeal sold out of the parish, besides what is consumed at home; so that the produce exceeds the consumption of the inhabitants. The hay, butter, and cheese is mostly sold to Glasgow, and the quantity of hay is some years considerable; but it is difficult to form an average of it.
It has been already observed, that trees of all kinds succeed well in this parish. The Weymouth pine has come to a great size in sheltered places. The balsam and berry-bearing poplars seem also to thrive greatly. Thorn hedges, on the most stiff and sterile parts, grow stunted a little, after a few years; but in general thrive better here, than in much of the clay soil in the neighbourhood.
There are about 66 labouring horses in the parish, besides a few young ones, and about 200 milk cows, the young ones of which, annually reared, may be between 40 and 50. Few sheep are reared in the parish; but in the parks around the manor house, there are always a number fed for slaughter, and no where is better mutton to be found. It deserves here to be remarked, that an experiment was made a few years ago, of smearing some of the sheep with tar. But it seems, in these warm sheltered fields, it was improper to continue such a practice, the smeared sheep turning out inferior both in wool and mutton. As this experiment, however, was never repeated, it is doubtful if it ought to be laid down as a general rule.
The proprietor has a salmon fishing on the river Clyde, of which he avails himself only for family use, giving away to friends and neighbours, what fish are caught more than necessary for his own table. The other fish found in the river, besides salmon and their progeny of grauls, fry, and pars, are trout, lampreys, silver eels, pike, perch, roach, minnows, and a few horse and pearl mussels. In the river Calder near its mouth, salmon are also found, and farther up, a good deal of trout, silver eels,
Roads and Bridges
A turnpike road, from Lanark to Glasgow, runs, from south-east to north-west, through the parish; and upon the west boundary, there is a bridge over the Calder. The turnpike road from Edinburgh, through Hamilton, which crosses this parish from north-east to south-west, enters it by another bridge over the same river. Besides the Roman bridge above mentioned, there is still another bridge over the Calder, upon a less public road.
The air here is pretty dry and clear, fogs of any continuance never being remembered, except in the year 1783: It is mild, compared with that on the higher lands around, and surely very healthy, no disease being prevalent but fevers and the small pox, at distant periods. Agues are not known here. Inoculation for the small pox has not taken place. It is not uncommon to find people arrived at the age of 80 and upwards. There are at present 2 persons of one family, whose ages together make 179; and some years ago, there were 3 more persons of the same family alive; when the ages of the 5 were added, the sum was 387. it is well ascertained, that William Morton, an old servant about the house of Dalziel, who died there within these 16 years, was at least 104.
Large beds of excellent pit coal have been found in the parish, lying at different distances under one another, which are believed to be continued under the greatest part of it; but none of them are wrought at present, as coal is cheap and plenty in the neighbourhood. Free stone quarries, abound here; in one of them there is a stratum which produces good mill stones for making pearl barley, some of which are carried a great distance.
The population of this parish is considerably increased of late, owing to the number of new cottages before mentioned. These are not collected into a village, but stand detached along the road. In two places only there are clusters nearly together, which may be called small villages, there being 15 houses in one, and 12 in the other. The number of inhabited houses, or families in the parish is 78; The number of souls is as follows;
Males above the age of 10, 183
Ditto under 10, 72
Females above the age of 10, 171
Ditto under 10, 52
Total number of souls in the parish 478
The return of Dr Webster in 1755, was 351
Of the above number there are 23 farmers, besides their families, and male and female servants; 30 male adults, cottagers, mostly employed in field labour; 7 masons, 7 joiners and carpenters, 42 weavers of fine and course fabrics, 9 stocking makers, 8 shoemakers, 3 blacksmiths, and 1 retailer of liquors, the keeper of a country inn on the road. All the women were formerly employed in spinning fine yarn, except when employed in the different office of husbandry, which fall to the share of that sex; but of late the young girls belonging to the cottages have learned to flower muslin, in large frames made for the purpose, which they find more profitable. The greatest luxury which prevails among them, is drinking tea and smoking tobacco, in which they all indulge. Their dress id also more showy and expensive than formerly.
The people, in general, are quiet, orderly, and industrious, there being no instance of any of them being convicted of crimes; or even of one inhabitant of the parish having recourse to the degrading practice of begging. Claims on the public charity are not numerous. At present there are greater than common, there being 3 infirm people upon the parish; but these are suported by the collections at the church door,. without any assessment.
© R. Dalziel, 2000. Reproduction of any material on this site is allowed, as long as it is not used for financial gain, and recognition to the origin of the material is included.
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