‹‹‹ prev (1481)

(1483) next ›››

THIS, the. extreme south-western county of Scotland, formed
part of the ancient district of Galloway ; it is extremely irregular
in shape, caused by the indentation of Luce Bay on the south,
an open space of water 13 miles wide by 16 from north to south,
its western head forming the Mull of Galloway, and the eastern
one Burrowhead ; these two headlands are known by the Celtic
name of the Rhinns (Rbyns or Rhynos) of Galloway. On the
eastern boundary of the county Wigtown Bay extends from
Grange of Cree, on. the north to Eggerness, just north of Gar-
lieston Bay, a distance of 8 miles ; and on the north of the
county Loch Ryan indents for a like distance. Its boundaries
are the Irish Channel on the west and south, Wigtown Bay
and Kirkcudbrightshire on the east, and Ayrshire on the north,
its leDgth being 32 miles, and extreme breadth from east to
west 28, and contains 486.9 square miles, or 311,609 acres of
land and 2,796 of water. The population in 1891 was 36,062,
and in 1901 comprised 15,184 males and 17,409 females; total,
32,593; the inhabited houses in 1891 were 7,001, and in 1901,
6,902. Wigtownshire stands seventeenth in point of size and the
twenty-second in population of Scottish counties.
Early History.— When in 79 A.D. the Romans crossed the Sol-
way into North Britain, the ancient British tribes of the
"Novantes" inhabited the' whole of Western Galloway, having
41 Leucophibia " (the modern Whithorn) for their principal town,
and " Rerigonium " (Loch Ryan) for their principal port, and
during the Roman occupation, 397, St. Ninian introduced Chris-
tianity and founded a monastery at Whithorn; after the Romans
had evacuated the kingdom in 410, the Strathclyde Britons gained
the upper hand, but the Anglo-Saxons overran the 'district in the
6th century, and Oswey, the Northumbrian king, settled at Whit-
horn. During the 9th and 10th centuries the county on the
west was inhabited by the Picts from Ireland and the Isle of Man,
and hence the name of Galloway, or *' the country of the Gael,"
was conferred on the territory. About the 12th century Galloway
passed into the hands of the Scottish king, Alexander II. In
the sanguinary conflicts between Bruce and Baliol, the chieftains
of Gallowav long remained attached to the party of the latter,
whose family they sheltered after Edward Bruce had subdued
the whole country. The family of Douglas subsequently became
possessed of the lordship of Galloway; but, on the attainder of
the nobleman of that name in 1455, the title became extinct. It
was revived, however, in 1623, and now bestows an earldom on
the Stewarts, Lord Garlies, but the Maxwells of Nithsdale
received a portion of the estates. The proximity to Ireland and
the Isle of Man caused the country of the Gael to remain for a long
period a separate community from the rest of Scotland, and the
Gaelic dress, manners and language lingered here long after they
fell into desuetude in the rest of the Lowlands. Their chiefs
derived their authority sometimes from the kings of Scotland
and at others from the kings of Northumbria, but neither could
subdue the turbulence and insubordination of the chieftains or
their vassals, who were very troublesome neighbours. The posi-
tion of the shire so much to the west preserved it from many of
the border raids, nor was it associated to any extent in the move-
ments of 1715 and 1745, and Queen Mary's progress from Lang-
side to cross to England led her through Kirkcudbrightshire.
Soil, Climate, Produce &c. — This shire is one of the most
level districts in Scotland; and the hills, of which there are none
of great altitude, are generally pretty free from rocks; the best
lands lie near the shores, the inland division being more elevated,
and largely mixed with heath and moss. The major part of the
soil is of that kind sometimes called a dry loam, though it often
inclines to a gravelly nature. The county presents an exposure
to the south, and its waters mostly descend to the Irish Sea.
The climate is moist, with winds from the south-west, which
prevail during the greater part of the year. In early times
this district of Galloway, like most other sections of the country,
was covered with woods; and in modern days planting has been
pursued most extensively, and the salutary improvements that
have been effected in this county have been ascribed to the efforts
of the Agricultural Society of Dumfries. This district has long
been pre-eminent as being an excellent pastoral one, and for the
superiority of its wool. The chief crops in 1902, as appears from
the "Agricultural Returns for Great Britain," were — oats, 32,678-
acres; barley or bere, 638; wheat, 251; beans, 26€ ; the total
corn crops being 33,864 acres; turnips and swedes, 14,915 acres;
potatoes, 1,418; cabbage &c. 534; total green crops, 17,258-
acres; potatoes, 1,418; cabbage &c. 534; total green crops,
17,258; hay, 9,576 acres; clover, sainfoin and grasses, not for
hay, 56,993; permanent pasture, 36,804. The total area of land
is "311,609 acres, of which 112,895 are mountain and heath land
(used for grazing) and 7,592 woods and plantations. The live stock
in 1902 comprised — horses used solely for agriculture and brood
mares, 4,293; unbroken horses, 1,535; cows and heifers hi
railk or in calf, 24,207; other cattle, 27,930; ewes kept for
breeding, 51,999; other sheep, 80,437; sows kept for breeding,.
639; other pigs, 9,535. The only mineral raised, as shown by
the " Mines and Quarries General Report and Statistics " for
1901, was 2,570 tons of igneous rocks. The shipping trade of Wig-
townshire has felt the impetus of steam navigation, the port*
of Stranraer, Wigtown and Whithorn deriving considerable
benefit. The coasting trade of the county is considerable..
There is considerable activity in the fisheries connected with the-
numerous ports and lochs, and this industry is carried on at
Stranraer and Wigtown, under which places full particulars
will be found. There is an almost entire absence of manufac-
tures in this shire, if we except mills at Kirkcowan and Minni-
gaff, at which blankets, tweeds &c. are made. The great in-
dustry of Wigtownshire is, however, the production of cheese by
the farmers of the Rhinns district of the county, who have-
been for many years the principal prize takers for the cele-
brated Cheddar cheese made by them.
Rivers and Mountains. — This county has no considerable rivers j
the principal are the Cree, the Bladenoch, and the Tarf. with, a
few of smaller size. The Cree, which is a boundary river between)
this county and the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, rises in Carrick,
in Ayrshire; after forming a lake at the head of Wigtownshire,
it flows again as a stream, and, pas-sing Newton 'Stewart on the-
east, falls into a creek at the head of Wigtown Bay. The Blade-
noch also has its source in Carrick, and, after running a course-
of 24 miles, falls into Wigtown Bay. The Tarf issues from a small"
lake in Ayrshire, and, after a course of 21 miles, unites with the-
Bladenoch. The mountains, with their elevations above the level
of the sea, are — Lang, 1,758 feetjMochrum FelL,l,020 feet;Knoc&
of Luce, 1,014 feet and Barhullion, 814 feet. The railway system
belongs to the Glasgow and South-Western and the Portpatrick
and Wigtownshire lines ; the former running south from Ayr
and Girvan enters the county 3 miles north of Glenwhilly station.
and running through New Luce to Dunragit station, where it
joins the Portpatrick and Wigtownshire railway, which is an in-
dependent line leaving Newton Stewart and running westward 1
through Glenluce to Stranraer, from whence it sends a branch to
Portpatrick and also sending a branch from Newton Stewart
southward to Wigtown and Whithorn.
Divisions, Representation &c. — 'Wigtownshire comprehends 17"
civil parishes and 17 complete and parts of three ecclesiastical
parishes and the small islands called The Scares, not attached to>
any parish, and has three royal burghs, namely, Wigtown, Stran-
raer and Whithorn. Prior to the " Redistribution of Seats Act,
1885," these three last-mentioned towns, in conjunction with
New Galloway, returned one member to Parliament ; but on the-
passing of that Bill the representation was merged in the counties.
The county sends one member. The parliamentary constituency
in 1903 numbered 5,368. The burghs of barony in the shire are
Newton Stewart, Garlieston, Kirkcowan, Glenluce and Port-
patrick; it has several thriving villages, and a number of small!
seaports, or natural harbours, and many mansions and seats..
The Right Hon. Sir Herbert Eustace Maxwell bart. P.O., F.S.A.,.
LL.D., D.L., J.P. Monreith, Whauphill, Wigtownshire; 48-
Lennox gardens S W & Carlton club, London S W
Convener, The Earl of Stair K.T
Vice-Convener, James Drew, of Craigencallie
Electoral Divisions with Names & Addresses.
Glasserton, Hugh McMaster
Inch (North), Rt. Hon. Viscount Dalrymple, c/o S. McHarrie,
Inch (South), John McMaster, jun. Culhorn mains, Stranraer
Kirkcolm, John F. Niven, Mahaar, Kirkcolm
Kirkcowan, David Morrison
Kirkinner, James Christison, Barglass, Kirkinner
Kirkmaiden (North), David A. McClew
Kirkmaiden (South), Hon. Hen. H. Dalrymple, c/o S. McHarrie,
Leswalt, John M'Caig, Challoch, Leswalt, Stranraer
Mochrum (North), Peter M'Keand, Airlies
Mochrum (South), Charles M. Routledge, Portwilliam
New Luce, Stair McHarrie, Rephad, Stranraer
Newton Stewart (East), William Renwick
Newton Stewart (West), W. T. Solomon
Old Luce (NortU), George Cowan, Mains of Park, Glenluce
Old Luce (South'), Rt. Hon. the Earl of Stair K.T
Penninghame, William McDonnell, Low. Glasnick, Kirkcowan,
Portpatrick, C. L. Orr-Ewine; M.P
Sorbie, Rt. Hon. the Earl of Galloway K.T
Stoney Kirk (North), William Cochran, Aucheatibbert
Stoney Kirk (South), Peter Spence, Ringuinea, Wigtownshire
Whithorn, John A. M'Connell, Chapelheron, Whithorn
Wigtown, James Drew, of Craigencallie

Images and transcriptions on this page, including medium image downloads, may be used under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence unless otherwise stated. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence