Parish of Bothwell

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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1791-99: Bothwell
1834-45: Bothwell

Bothwell, a village and a parish of N Lanarkshire. The village stands in the SW corner of the parish, near the right bank of the Clyde, here spanned by a suspension-bridge leading to Blantyre Works, and by Bothwell Brig, leading to Hamilton; by road it is 2¼ miles NW of the latter town, 8 SE of Glasgow, and 36½ WSW of Edinburgh, having stations on branches of the Caledonian and North British, opened in 1877 and 1878. A pleasant, healthy place, commanding charming vistas of Strathclyde, it mainly consists of plain red sandstone houses, studded with villas and cottages-ornées, the summer resorts of Glasgow citizens; is lighted by gas; and has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, insurance, and telegraph departments, a branch of the Clydesdale Bank, two hotels, and a public library. The parish church here is a fine Gothic edifice built in 1833 at a cost of £4179, and, containing 1150 sittings, uprears a massive square tower to the height of 120 feet; E of which tower is the ruined choir of the old collegiate church, an interesting specimen of Second Pointed architecture, measuring 53½ by 212/3 feet, and retaining a N sacristy (131/3 by 95/6 feet), a piscina, 3 canopied sedilia, and monuments to the two Archibald Douglases, Earls of Forfar, the second of whom was mortally wounded at Sheriffmuir (1715). In this old church, founded in 1398 by Archibald ` the Grim,' Earl of Douglas, for a provost and 8 prebendaries, David, the hapless Duke of Rothesay, wedded the founder's daughter, Marjory, in 1400. One of its early provosts was Thomas Barry, who celebrated the victory of Otterburn in Latin verse; and in the former manse was born the poetess, Joanna Baillie (1762-1851). The Free church, rebuilt in 1861 at a cost of £3500, is another good Second Pointed structure, with 890 sittings and an octagonal spire, 125 feet high; the U.P. church is seated for 360. A public school, with accommodation for 182 children, had (1879) an average attendance of 135, and a grant of £118, 15s. Pop. (1861) 1057, (1871) 1209, (1881) 1535.

The parish contains also the towns of Uddingston (13/8 mile NNW of Bothwell village), Bellshill (2¼ NE), and Holytown (4¼ ENE), with portions of Calderbank (6 NE) and Cleland (7 E), and the villages of Nackerton (2½ N by W), Carnbroe (4 NE), Mossend (2¾ NE), New Stevenston (45/8 E by N), Legbranock (5¾ ENE), Newhouse (6¾ ENE), Chapelhall (63/8 ENE) Carfin (5½ E), and Newarthill (53/8 E by N). Bounded N by Old Monkland, NE and E by Shotts, S by Dalziel and Hamilton, SW by Hamilton and Blantyre, and W by Blantyre, it has a length from E to W of from 61/8 to 7¾ miles, a width from N to S of from 25/8 to 4 miles, and an area of 13,774¾ acres, of which 131 are water. The Shotts Burn flows along all the north-eastern border to the North Calder Water, which traces the northern, as the South Calder does the southern, boundary; and both these streams fall into the Clyde, a majestic river here, from 70 to 120 yards in width, sweeping for 5¾ miles along the Hamilton and Blantyre border, above the Brig through flat rich haughs, below through a steeper, narrower vale, famed for its loveliness three centuries and more. For Verstegan wrote in his Restitution of -Decayed Intelligence (1605): ` So fell it out of late yeers, that an English gentleman trauelling in Palestine, not far from Ierusalem, as hee passed through a country towne, hee heard by chance a woman sitting at her doore dandling her childe, to sing; Bothwel bank thon blumest fayre The gentleman heereat exceedingly wondred, and foorthwith in English saluted the woman, who ioyfully answered him, and told him that she was a Scottish woman,' etc. The surface presents no prominent features, but rises eastward from about 50 feet above sea-level, where the Clyde quits the western boundary, to 213 feet near Woodhead, 235 near Birkenshaw, 240 near Tannochside, 268 at Mossend, 247 near Milnwood House, 395 near Holytown, 388 near Carfin, 480 near Whitecraighead, 507 near Legbranock, 537 near Brownhill, and 577 at Newhouse-the last two close upon the eastern border. The prevailing rocks are Triassic in the W, and elsewhere carboniferous, red sandstone being quarried in the western, white sand stone in the eastern, district; whilst Legbranock ironstone mine and 24 collieries were working in 1879 throughout the parish, in which are the iron-works of Mossend, Carnbroe, and Chapelhall. The soil, for the most part clay or loam, is of great fertility along the Clyde; and the whole area, with trivial exceptions, is arable.

Chief among Bothwell's antiquities and historic scenes are its ruined Castle, 1¼ mile WNW of the parish church; Bothwell Brig, 5½ furlongs SSE; the site of Bothwellhaugh, 1¾ mile ESE, that gave his patronymic * to James Hamilton, Murray's assassin at Linlithgow (1570); and, 3 furlongs E by N of Bothwellhaugh, a narrow, high, unparapeted Roman bridge across the Calder, with a single arch of 20 feet span. Built early in the 14th century, Bothwell Castle still covers a space of 234 by 99 feet, and has walls that in places are 60 feet high and ore than 15 thick; special features being the great courtyard, the two round flanking towers upon the E, the loftier western keep, vestiges of the chapel and the fosse, and a circular dungeon, ` Wallace's Beeftower.' Hither, on 22 Aug. 1803, came Dorothy Wordsworth, with Coleridge and her brother William, and in her Journal (ed. by Princ. Shairp, 1874) she thus described the stately fragment, finest, it may be, of its kind in Scotland:-`We saw the ruined castle embosomed in trees, passed the house, and soon found ourselves on the edge of a steep brow immediately above and overlooking the course of the river Clyde through a deep hollow between woods and green steeps. We had approached at right angles from the main road to the place over a flat, and had seen nothing before us but a nearly level country terminated by distant slopes, the Clyde hiding himself in his deep bed. It was exceedingly delightful to come thus unexpectedly upon such a beautiful region. The castle stands nobly, overlooking the Clyde. When we came up to it, I was hurt to see that flower-borders had taken place of the natural overgrowings of the ruin, the scattered stones and wild plants. It is a large and grand pile of red freestone, harmonising perfectly with the rocks of the river, from which, no doubt, it has been hewn. . . . On the opposite bank, which is finely wooded with elms and other trees, are the remains of Blantyre Priory.' From David de Olifard the lands of Bothwell came about 1242 by marriage to the Murrays, to whom belonged the patriot Sir Andrew, Wallace's stanchest friend, and his son and namesake, the Regent, who in 1337 recovered his castle from the English, and ` levelled it to the ground,' it having been the seat of Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke and governor of Scotland (1306), and having twice received an English king-Edward I. in 1301, Edward III. in 1336. From the Murrays it passed to the Douglases, likewise by marriage, in 1361, and, after their forfeiture (1455), was bestowed by James III. in 1485 on his minion Sir John Ramsay; next, in 1488, on Patrick Hepburn, Lord Hales, who was created Earl of Bothwell (a title extinct since 1624), but who four years later exchanged this castle and its domain for Liddesdale and Hermitage with Archibald Douglas, fifth Earl of Angus. Thus Bothwell reverted to the Douglases, and at present is owned by the Earl of Home, whose countess (d. 1877) was heiress of the fourth and last Lord Douglas (d. 1857). Bothwell Brig was formerly but 12 feet broad, and rose with a steep incline of 20 feet, its crown being guarded by a strong gateway; but this had long disappeared when, in 1826,22 feet were added to its original width, and the whole structure was otherwise modernised. Here, on June 22,1679-20 days after Sharp's murder on Magus Muir, and 11 days after their victory at Drumclog-4000 Covenanters were routed by Charles II.'s forces under the Duke of Monmouth A helpless rabble divided against themselves, they had hardly one man of military experience; but Hackston of Rathillet held the bridge long enough to show how in competent hands it was impregnable. That post once lost, the royalists crossed unopposed, and, slaying 500, chiefly in the pursuit, made twice that number prisoners, who were penned up in Greyfriars Churchyard, Edinburgh, as told in Scott's old Mortality (1816) and W. Aiton's History of the Rencounter at Drumclog and the Battle at Bothwell Bridge (Hamilton, 1821). Two places still remaining to be noticed are a natural cave by Cleland House, once furnished with an iron gate and a fireplace; and New Orbiston, near Bellshill, the scene in 1827 of Robert Owen's short-lived Socialist experiment. ` Babylon '-so it was nicknamed in derision- was designed to embrace 1200 persons, each with 1 acre apiece. The now demolished buildings cost £12,000, and even then were incomplete; their inmates never exceeded 60 adults and 120 children (Booth's -Life of R. Owen, Lond. 1869).

Modern Bothwell Castle, to the E of its ruined predecessor, is a plain Queen Anne edifice, consisting of a centre and two wings; and other mansions are Bothwell Bank and Bothwell Park; Thorniewood and Viewpark near Uddingston; Tannochside, Carnbroe House, Woodhall, and Woodville, up the North Calder; Thankerton, Stevenston, and Lauchope, in the interior; and Cleland House, Jerviston, Carfin House, Carfin Hall, Orbiston, and Douglas Park, down the South Calder. In all, 153 proprietors hold each an annual value of from £20 to £50,101 of from £50 to £100,49 of from £100 to £500, and 22 of £500 and upwards, these last including the Earl of Home (61,943 acres in the shire, valued at £29,486 per annum), the Woodhall Estate Co. (2398 acres, £8634), the Uddingston Oil Co. (13 acres, £1676), the Mossend Iron Co. (3 acres, £2790), Col. W. Hozier of Tannochside (655 acres, £4787), and the trustees of R. Douglas of Orbiston (651 acres, £2351), of W. Jolly of Stevenston (405 acres, £1825), and of J. Meiklam of Carnbroe (1019 acres, £4094).

In the presbytery of Hamilton and synod of Glasgow and Ayr, the civil parish was up to 1871 divided into the quoad sacra parishes of Holytown (pop. 10,099) and Bothwell (pop. 9193; stipend, £572); but the latter has since been subdivided by the erection in 1874 of Uddingston (pop. 2500), and in 1878 of Bellshill (pop. 3000). In 1879 there were 18 schools under a board for the entire parish, which, with total accommodation for 4382 children, had an average attendance of 3603, and grants amounting to £2855. Valuation (1881) £127,942. Pop. of civil parish (1801) 3017, (183 1) 5545, (1841) 11,132, (1851) 15,265, (1861) 17,903, (1871) 19,292, (1881) 25,450; of registration district (1871) 9193, (1881) 15,001.—Ord. Sur., sh. 31,1867.

* For a refutation of the current belief that Bothwellhaugh was owned by Hamilton. and of that tale of Murray's cruelty whereon Scott based his ballad Cadzow Castle, see Hill Burton's History (ed. 1876). vol. v., p. 13, note.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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