The Parish of Balmaclellan.
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A TOPOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF SCOTLAND, by Samuel Lewis. Published in 2 vols, London, 1846.
"BALMACLELLAN, a parish, in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, 1 1/2 mile (N. E.) from New Galloway; containing 1134 inhabitants, of whom 113 are in the village. This place takes its name from its ancient proprietors, a branch of the family of Maclellan of Bombie, lords of Kirkcudbright, who flourished here for many generations. The parish, which is bounded on the west by the river Ken, and on the east by the river Urr, is of an irregularly oblong figure, comprising about 23,737 acres, of which 4000 are arable, 300 wood and plantations, and the remainder, with the exception of some extensive tracts of moorland and moss, meadow and pasture. The surface is varied with hills, of which some rise to a considerable height, and is interspersed with small valleys, of different degrees of fertility, and great variety of aspect ; the lower grounds are watered by the Craig and Crogo rivulets, issuing from a range of hills in opposite directions, and dividing the parish from that of Parton on the south, and from the parishes of Dalry and Glencairn on the north.
Along the banks of the Ken, a range of mounts called Drums, extends for two or three miles into the interior of the parish, beyond which the country assumes a more wild and rugged aspect, consisting of large tracts of moor and peat moss, interspersed with a few detached portions of cultivated land. In the upper parts of the parish, are numerous lakes, of which Loch Brach, Loch Barscole, Loch Skae, and Loch Lowes are the principal ; but the most extensive and beautiful is Loch Ken, on the western border of the parish, into which the river Ken, which frequently overflows its banks, discharges its waters. The several streams and lakes abound with trout, and more especially Loch Brach, in which are yellow trout, equal in quality to those of Lochinvar ; pike are also found in most of them, and in Loch Ken, one was taken which weighed 72lbs. The river, in its course, forms numerous picturesque cascades, of which the most interesting and most romantic is that called the Holy Linn ; the prevailing scenery is, in many parts, richly diversified, and, more particularly around the village, is beautifully picturesque.
The soil is extremely various ; the lands which are under cultivation have been much improved, and towards the east, considerable tracts, hitherto unprofitable, are gradually becoming of value ; but there is still much moor and moss, scarcely susceptible of improvement. The chief crops are, grain of all kinds, with potatoes and turnips ; the farm-buildings on some of the lands are substantial and commodious, but, on others, of very inferior order. The cattle are generally of the Galloway breed, except a few cows of the Ayrshire kind, on one of the dairy-farms ; and the sheep are of the black-faced breed, except on one farm, which is stocked with a cross between the black and the white faced, and a few of the Cheviot; a very considerable number of pigs are reared, and sent to the Dumfries market. The rateable annual value of the parish is £5115. The substratum is almost wholly whinstone, of which the rocks chiefly consist, and of which great quantities are raised, affording excellent materials for the roads ; slate is found, and till lately there were two quarries in operation. The plantations, which are mostly oak, ash, and fir, are distributed throughout the lands, in detached portions of ten or twelve acres each. Holm is a handsome residence in the parish ; and there are also the houses of Craig and Craigmuie. The chief village stands at the intersection of the turnpike-roads leading from Edinburgh to Wigton, and from Glasgow to Kirkcudbright ; the small village of Crogo is a retired hamlet, in the south of the parish, containing about sixty inhabitants, and takes its name from the rivulet on which it is situated. In 1822, a substantial bridge of granite, of five arches, was built over the river Ken, by the floods of which two several bridges had been previously swept away ; the central arch has a span of 100 feet.
The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Kirkcudbright and synod of Gallaway ; the minister's stipend is £226. 19. 8., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £35 per annum ; patron, the Crown. The church is a plain structure, built in 1772, and enlarged and repaired in 1833, and contains 370 sittings ; the churchyard is spacious, and commands a fine view, extending over the whole vale of the Ken. There are two parochial schools, of which the masters have each a salary of £17. 2. 2., with a house and garden, in addition to the fees, which average about £15 per annum. A free school is supported by an endowment of £70 per annum, arising from land purchased with a bequest of £500 by Edward Burdock, Esq., in 1788 ; the school-house was built in 1790, with a dwelling-house for the master, who has a salary of £17. 2. 2., but, in consideration of the endowment, receives no fees from the pupils. Barscobe Castle, anciently a seat of the Maclellans, is little more than a heap of ruins. On Dularran Holm, is an erect stone of great size, without inscription, supposed to mark out the spot where some Danish chief fell in battle ; and on a hill near the village, a large ball of oak, and a set of bowling-pins, all of which, except two, were standing erect, were discovered a few years since, by persons cutting peat, at a depth of about twelve feet below the surface of the ground. "