Civil History

Blantyre's Ain Website

Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

This is the Statistical Account of the Parish from 1835.


II – Civil History

The barony of Blantyre belonged anciently to the Dunbars of Enteckin. At the time of the Reformation, the Priory of Blantyre, like other religious establishments, was suppressed, and the benefice, which was but small, given by James VI to Walter Stewart, son to the Laird of Minto, one of his servants, and treasurer of Scotland. He was first commendator of the priory, and in 1606 was created Lord Blantyre. The barony itself was purchased by the first Lord Blantyre, and was almost all feued out in small parcels, which still hold of his descendants. The land in this parish is now distributed among forty-six heritors. The rental of the highest is L.300, and of the lowest L.5 per annum.

Eminent Men – The late John Miller Esq., Professor of Law in the University of Glasgow, had his residence at Millheugh in this parish, and is buried in the churchyard at Blantyre.

James Hutton of Calderbank, Thomas McCall of Craighead, and R D Alston of Auchinraith, have also handsome country seats.

Parochial Registers – The parochial register seems to be entire from the year 1667.
Antiquities – The principal antiquity in the parish worthy of notice is the ruins of Blantyre Priory. These are situated on a lofty rock on the banks of the Clyde, exactly opposite the ruins of Bothwell Castle. Both it and the castle are built on a fine-grained redcoloured sandstone rock, like that out of which Cadzow Castle at Hamilton has been constructed. The priory is now almost entirely fallen into decay, only one vault remaining entire, a couple of gables, with a fire-place, and part of the outer walls. It seems however, to have been the occasional residence of Lord Blantyre so late as the time of Hamilton of Wishaw, who wrote his “Description of the Sheriffdom of Lanark” about the beginning of the last century. Little account can now be given of the origin and history of this establishment. It seems to have been a cell of the Abbacy of Jedburgh* (and founded by Alexander II) to which these monks generally retired in the time of war with the English. It appears that Friar Walter of Blantyre
was one of the Scotch commissioners appointed to negotiate the ransom of King David
Bruce, taken prisoner in the battle of Durham 1346. Frere William, Prior of Blantyre, is a subscriber to Ragman’s Roll. Walter Stewart, Commendator of this place, was Lord Privy Seal in the year 1595, and shortly after treasurer, upon the Master of Glammis’ dismission.
This is the same who was afterwards created Lord Blantyre.

It is mentioned in the last Statistical Account of this parish, that urns have been dug up at different times in several parts of the parish; and that some of them were found in a large heap of stones. In the centre of the heap, square stones were place so as to form a kind of chest, and the urns were placed within it. They contained a kind of unctuous earthy substance, and some remains of bones were scattered around them. Strong impressions of fire were also evident on many of the stones. About three years ago, a stone coffin of the above description, with an urn standing in one corner of it was turned up at Shott, near the parish church. A skull almost entire was found in it, and nearly the whole of the teeth are in good preservation. The urn was of baked earth, seemingly only sun-dried, five and a half inches high, and the same across the mouth. It was partially ornamented with rude impressions made on the clay when soft. Fragments of six larger urns, more highly ornamented, and better burned, were found in other parts of the field. This field is now called Arches or Archer’s Croft. Stone coffins have also been found at Lawhill, Greenhall &c. There is a singular conical hill at Calderside, which goes by the name of the Camp Know. It is 600 feet in circumference, and was anciently surrounded by a ditch. Near the same spot, a subterranean structure made of flags like the sole of an over, was lately discovered.
*Spottiswoode says it was a cell of Holyroodhouse. In Bagimont’s Roll it was only taxed L.6 : 13s : 4d. The Archibshiop of Glasgow latterly presented the Prior to his living. III

III – Population

1755 – – – 496
1801 – – – 1751
1811 – – – 2092
1821 – – – 2630
1831 – – – 3000

By a census taken of the landward part of the parish about three years ago, (excluding
Blantyre works), it appears that in the village of Blantyre there were 50 families and 255 individuals. A hundred of these were under fifteen year of age. In Old Place and Hunthill there were 23 families and 112 individuals, of whom 43 were under fifteen years of age.
Barnhill contained 43 families and 213 individuals, of whom 92 were under fifteen. There were 24 families in Auchinraith, and 106 individuals, 52 of whom were under fifteen. In the country part of the parish, there were 593 souls, of whom 285 were males and 308 females; about 260 of these were under fifteen years of age. The whole population of the rural district, including villages, was 1279 souls, of whom 624 were males and 655 females. The proclamations of marriage in 1832 were – 30

The births in 1832 were – 61
in 1833 – 32 in 1833 – 70
in 1834 – 23 in 1834 – 63
Average 28 Average 64

No register of deaths has been kept. The number of proprietors of land of L.50 and upwards is 28. Number of families by last census 514.
Number of families chiefly employed in agriculture 49
employed in trade, manufactures, and handicrafts 326

IV – Industry
Agriculture – The agriculture here is of a mixed sort, partly grain, and partly dairy. The ground is nearly all arable; not more than 500 acres remaining constantly in waste or in pasture. Blantyre moor was anciently a common, but by an agreement between Lord Blantyre and his vassals it was subdivided and greatly improved. The peat on this moor becoming dry and unfit for use, it was exchanged for Edge moss almost fifty years ago, where turf or peat for fuel is cut when required. There are four or five acres of undivided common at Blantyre farm, and a few other small patches scattered in different parts of the parish. The parish in general is richly and tastefully wooded, but no plantations of great extent occur.

Rent of Land – The average rent of land per acre is L.1; but some pieces of land let as high as L.4 or L.5 per acre. The rental of the parish is L.2579.
Husbandry – Very few sheep are kept, and the cows are almost entirely of the Ayrshire breed.
The general duration of leases is nineteen years, but as most of the farmers have long tacks or feus of their lands, they are generally considered as lairds, and few leases of the above description, or to so large an amount, occur. Draining has been practised here to a great extent, and one individual has of late laid down 2500 tons of stones for that purpose. The farm houses in general are superior to those in the neighbouring parishes. About 96 horses are kept in the parish, 450 cows; and 250 pigs.

Produce – Average gross amount of raw produce raised in the parish:
Produce of grain, hay, potatoes &c L.4127
Pasture &c 1350
All other produce 2260
Total L.7737

Manufactures – Blantyre Mills – The first mill at these works was erected in the year 1785, by the late Mr David Dale and his partner, Mr James Monteith, for the spinning of that kind of cotton yarn usually denominated water-twist. In 1791, another mill was erected for the spinning of mule-twist, both of which are driven by water power from the Clyde. The number of workers employed in the spinning mills is 458, and the total number of spindles in the mule and water-twist mills is 30,000. In the year 1813, a weaving factory was built containing 463 looms, 1 which is part driven by water and partly by steam power. At present, an extension of the looms is going forward, which will increase the number to between 500
and 600. The hours for the mill workers, five days in the week, are from six o’clock in the morning, to a quarter from eight in the evening, forty-five minutes being allowed for breakfast and one hour for dinner. On Saturday the workers only remain nine hours in the mill, making in whole sixty-nine working hours in the week.

In addition to spinning and weaving, another branch of business has been carried on at these works for the last forty years, namely, the dyeing of Adrianople or Turkey red upon cotton yarn. It was the second work of the kind erected in Scotland, and the colours have long been celebrated for their richness and permanency.

The total number of males employed at all the works is 362; the number of females 553. The water power is estimated at 150 horse, the steam at 60, total, 210 horse power.
The village for the workers is contiguous to the works, and is pleasantly situated on a rising ground which overlooks the Clyde. The company, Messrs Henry Monteith and Company, erected a chapel seven years ago in connection with the Church of Scotland, sufficient to accommodate 400 sitters. A clergyman was appointed the following year, one-half of whose stipend is paid by the company, the other half by the sitters. The secular affairs of the chapel are conducted by a committee chosen annually, one-half of whom are Dissenters, the other half belonging to the Established church. The chapel is so arranged that during the week it is employed as a school-house. The schoolmaster is appointed by the company with a salary of £20, along with a free houses and garden. The rate of wages is regulated by the company. The average number of day-scholars is 136, and the average number of those at the evening class is 56.
The rapid increase of the population in this parish is entirely owing to the mills.
The people at these works are in general as healthy as their neighbours in other parts of the parish, many of them attaining a great age. This month, one the mechanics died aged ninety-four. There is an overseer at present in the service of the company, seventy-seven years of age, who has been employed forty-eight years within the walls of the mill. There are several others between eighty and ninety who still enjoy good health, and not a few between seventy and eighty, some of whom are following their usual avocations. Many workers are now employed who have been upwards of forty years in the service of the company. As a class, it must be confessed that they are much more healthy than the millworkers in the large towns.
In general, the working people marry young, and in all cases where any degree of care is exercised they live very comfortably. Many of them have brought up large and respectable families. The village is kept clean and neat; to insure which, the company provide both watchmen and scavengers. With regard to the habits of the people they may be said to be cleanly. To encourage this desirable object, the company built a public washing-house several years ago, to which the householders have access in rotation; and a large bleaching green on the banks of the river, with a good exposure, capable of accommodating ten times the amount of the population, has also been provided. The village is supplied by means of force pumps at the works, with both soft and hard water. The ordinary food of the workers is much better than that of the agricultural labourers in the neighbourhood. A considerable quantity of butcher’s meat is consumed every week in the village. There are also several shops or stores from which the people derive the advantage of competition and low prices.
There has been a considerable library established among the workers for several years past and measures have now been taken for extending it considerably. A funeral society was established fourteen year ago. Among other provisions on the death of a member or his wife, the heirs receive £4, and for a member’s child £2, to defray funeral expenses. There is also a poors’ fund for the sick and destitute, to which the company contribute £21 annually. The management is vested in the workers, who elect new managers every six months. The average number obtaining relief is 16. The average sum expended annually is £75. An association for religious purposes was instituted in 1822. The average annual amount that has been voted to sundry societies at the yearly general meetings has been, for the last ten years, upwards of £20. The Blantyre Works Temperance Society was formed in 1830, since which period has had at an average from 60 to 70 members.
The population of the village at present is males – – 743
females – – 1078
Total – 1821
Belonging to the Established Church – – – 1041
Dissenters – – – 592
Episcopalians – – – 39
Roman Catholics – – – 149

Any worker known to be guilty of irregularities of moral conduct is instantly discharged, and poaching game or salmon meets with the same punishment. The general character of the population is moral, and in many instances strictly religious. Fighting or brawls in the village are unknown. It cannot be said they are much given to the discussion of politics, – though several newspapers come to the village. Living in one of the “fairy neuks” of creation, religious and moral, well fed and clothed, and not over-wrought, they seem peculiarly happy, as they ought to be.
1 The number of hand-loom weavers in the parish is 128.
2 The houses are regulated in terms of the late Factory Act.

V – Parochial Economy
The village of Blantyre, where the church and manse stand is beautifully situated in a rich level country overtopped with tall trees, many of them of great age and beauty. It is 3 miles from Hamilton, 4 from Kilbride, 7 from Eaglesham, and 8 miles and 2 furlongs from Glasgow. There are in the parish about 3 miles of turnpike road, and 20 miles of parish roads, which are always kept in excellent repair.

Ecclesiastical State – The church was built in 1793, and is in pretty good repair. It affords accommodation for 360 sitters; but if galleries were erected it could accommodate 200 more.
The chapel at the mills affords accommodation for 400 sitters. The manse was built in
1773, and underwent a thorough repair in 1823. It is now one of the best manses in
Scotland. The glebe consists of about twelve acres, four at the manse and eight acres at
Blantyre moor. The former is worth £2 :10d, and the latter worth £1. per acre. The stipend is £116 : 18s : 7d. in money, 86 bolls, 1 firlot, 1 peck, 1 1/16 lippie of meal, and 10 bolls, 3 firlots, 1 ½ lippie of barley, including communion elements. The average number of communicants is 420, of whom 144 are heads of families. About £10 are usually drawn at the church door at the time of the sacrament, which is distributed in the usual way among the aged and infirm. There is no dissenting chapel in the parish. Exclusive of the population at the Blantyre Works, there are 6 families, including 30 individuals belonging to the Relief, and 2 families, including 7 individuals, belonging to the Roman Catholics. Divine service at the parish church is well attended. Lord Blantyre is patron. The average weekly collection at the church door is 9s.

Education – Besides the parish school in the village, in which all the usual branches of education are taught, there are two English schools, one at Auchinraith, and another at Hunthill, and also a school for females. The number of scholars attending these schools is 123, twenty-five of whom attend the female school. The salary of the schoolmaster is the minimum, being about £26. Amount of parochial schoolmaster’s fees per annum is £20.

All children at the proper age are taught is read, except a few belonging to the Roman
Catholic persuasion at the mills.

Source: St. Andrews Church

Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

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