The following 2 articles appeared on the Galloway News on 1st and 15th October 1920.

Life in Old Castle Douglas.


The First Magistrates and Council.

The “Journal of the Town of Carlingwark” is the earliest book which is in the possession of the Town Council of the burgh of Castle Douglas. On the first page appears an abstract from Act 20, Geo.2, Cap.43, which provides among other things that from and after the 25th March, 1748, no heritors of lands in Scotland erected into a barony granted with lower jurisdiction, or their Bailies, shall have any jurisdiction in capital cases or any criminal cause other than assaults or batteries, or smaller crimes for which the punishment shall not exceed a fine of 20s sterling, or sitting in the stocks for three hours in the daytime, which fine shall be recovered by poinding or by imprisonment not exceeding one month. No person shall be committed to prison for custody in order to trial for assaults, batteries, and smaller crimes without a warrant.

Election of Magistrates and Council.  
The minute book continues – Burgh of Castle Douglas, 4th September 1792. The following resident burgesses met to elect three magistrates and Council in terms of the charter and erection dated 13th December last. Mr Samuel Cochrane was elected Bailie, and six councillors – John Douglas, George Cameron, John Mouncie, John Black, John Alexander, and James Hannay. After the appointment of the Councillors to their respective offices, the following standards of weights and measures were adopted:- All groceries to have sixteen ounces to the lb.,  and 16 lbs. to the stone; meal 17½ lbs. to the stone, and 16 stones to the boll; wool, butter and cheese 24oz. to the lb., and 16lbs. to the stone; hay 28oz. to the lb. and 16lbs. to the stone; oats, barley, and other grain to be measured by the Winchester bushel and 11 of these to the boll; meal, seeds and made barley, 17½lbs. to the stone and 16 stones to the boll; flour and salt to be the same as groceries.

The Market Cross &c.

The Bailie and Council fixed the Market Cross of the Burgh to be at the centre of the street opposite to the last corner of the Town Hall where all poindings and publications are to be made. Tuesday weekly was fixed for Bailie Courts, 11 o’clock.

On the 6th August 1793, three public wells were ordered to be erected, “so as the inhabitants may be accommodated with pure water.”

On the 1st September 1795, the burgesses met to the number of 40, when Mr William Crosbie was unanimously elected Bailie, and Mr James Hannay, town clerk. On the 4th September 1798, Mr James Kelvie was elected Bailie. In 1801 the same process was taken when Mr William Crosbie was then elected Bailie. In 1802 Mr James Barbour was elected. At the Council meeting held on 19th January 1805, it was agreed that the town bell be rung at six o’clock in the morning and nine o’clock in the evening, on Sundays at 11 a.m. and 8 in the evening. The burgh officer was also instructed to see that no obstructions were laid opposite joiners shops or houses. Dunghills and other obstructions were also ordered to be removed.

On 12th August 1807, a mad dog had been killed in Kirkcudbright. Other dogs which had been in contact had taken the road to Castle Douglas where a meeting was called by tuck of drum to seize all dogs and lock them up for the safety of the lieges.

On the 4th September 1807, the Burgesses met and elected Mr James Kelvie, bailie and six councillors. The election of a schoolmaster then took place annually.

Jubilee Year of King George III.
On the occasion of the Jubilee (25th October 1809) it was loyally agreed to hold a public dinner in the Town Hall on said day, and this was duly held. The toasts included:- “The Army and Navy,” “Lord Wellington,” “The Memory of Abercromby, Nelson, Moore, and other British heroes who have fallen fighting the cause of Freedom”; “The memory of Sir William Douglas of Castle Douglas, Bart. (died 24th September 1809), and may his successor inherit his virtues”; “The Burgh of Castle Douglas – My the next generation be more enlightened than the present, but as happy.”
The following verses were composed by one of the councillors of the day, and sung by Mr King:

Britain’s sons, brave and free,
In heart-born jubilee,
   Let your halls ring.
Let the full chorus rise,
In grateful strains to the skies,
Each heart the blessing prize
   Good George is King!

Seven times seven years has Heaven
To us indulgent given
   Our Patriarch King.
Long may he bless our Isle,
Oft we the bumper fill,
Oft drain the social bowl,
   To our old King.

O may his setting gleam
Outshine his mid-day beam
   When his reign is o’er.
But why our comforts sour!
Why look so long before?
Enjoy the present hour!
   Great George is King!


The Rise of the Cattle Market.

Various Events

At the meeting of the Burgesses on 4th September 1810, David Clark of Slogarie was unanimously elected bailie, and James Barbour town clerk.

At a meeting on 5th February 1811, a teacher was ordered to be advertised for. The following were the wages:- 5s 3d per quarter for reading and English; 3s 6d for reading and writing; 4s for reading writing and arithmetic; and 5s for the languages. Mr T Clark was elected schoolmaster.

On the 30th May 1812, Bailie Clerk removed from the burgh, and a meeting was called to elect a successor. Mr Samuel Cochrane was appointed, and Mr Young was appointed Councillor in his room. On 4th September 1813, Mr William Young was unanimously elected Bailie. On the 4th September 1816 Mr John Sinclair was unanimously elected Bailie.

On the 30th December 1816, the magistrates received information that provisions were expected to be very high in price, they agreed to borrow £200 repayable at eight months. A charity ball was got up in the Mason’s Lodge, the free proceeds amounting to £18. 14s. which was divided among the poor in Castle Douglas, Rhonehouse, Gelston, and the poor box.

On the 10th November 1817, after arranging to pay the expense, the town clock was set agoing.

On the 17th December 1818, a copy of a portion of the will of Sir Wm, Douglas was sent to the town clerk in which he left £800 to be divided among 4 parishes. It was resolved to build a new school.

Establishment of the Cattle Market.

In February 1819 a great number of famous cattle dealers having expressed a desire to have a proper place prepared in the neighbourhood of Castle Douglas for a cattle market, to be held weekly on Mondays during the season, the Magistrates, along with the committee of management of the Agricultural Society, obtained a grant of a small piece of ground from the proprietor of the estate of Torrs, adjacent to the vacant piece of ground at the head of the town commonly used as a market-place, and the whole was levelled and enclosed. The expense was defrayed by subscription, and the market was advertised for April next.

Mt Walter Stott, of Kelton, presented a bill of suspension and interdict against the proposed cattle market, upon the ground that it would infringe upon his right to hold a market on the same day at Rhonehouse, to which he had right by charter. Answers were given in by the town, and Lord Robertson, Ordinary, passed the bill of suspension in order that the question might be tried, but reserved interdict until further consideration.

The cattle market was held on Monday 26th April, when 40 score of fine Galloway cattle were exposed, and nearly the whole were sold on the ground.


On 1st September 1819, the Bailies and feuars met, and Mr David Hannay was elected bailie. Mr Hannay declined, as he was outside the burgh, and was frequently from home.

On the 21st of the same month Mr John Graham was elected in room of Mr Hannay. It was proposed to impose a fine of £5 on the occurrence of a similar circumstance. Mr Hannay protested.

On the 6th September 1822, Mr Andrew Kirkpatrick, grocer, was elected bailie.

Kenmure Forfeiture Reversed

On the 17th June (1824) the Gentlemen Yeomanry Cavalry assembled at Castle Douglas to exercise for six days. Lieut. James Gordon, jr., of Culvennan was in command. On the regiment being mustered for drill, Colonel Gordon addressed the corps, and stated that he had by last mail received a letter from Viscount Kenmure communicating the intelligence that the bill for restoring to the family of Kenmure their forfeited title had received the Royal assent, he proposed that the regiment, out of respect to the favour conferred on so revered and respected individual as the present Viscount, should give three cheers, which was immediately done, the bystanders joining.

A New Charter and Other Things

On the 7th September 1825, the Town Council resolved to apply for new charter, but, as there were several form to be observed, it was resolved to continue Andrew Kirkpatrick as Bailie till such time as a new election could take place under the new charter. The Councillors were also re-elected.

On the 5th May 1828, the council granted the use of the Town Hall for the meetings of Presbytery.

On 21st May 1828, Mr Andrew Kirkpatrick resigned the office of chief magistrate of the burgh in consequence of leaving the town. Mr John Graham was elected in his place. Mr James Hewetson, brewer, was elected a Councillor in room of Mr Graham.

On the 2nd September 1828, Mr William Young was elected Bailie. The Bailie received the Burgh Seal, which should be used on all necessary occasions, charging not less than 2s 6d, and not more than 10s 6d.

On the 22nd November 1828, the chief magistrate of Castle Douglas was placed on the roll of Justices of the Peace.

On the 15th January 1929, the Council passed a set of bye-laws, which were printed and circulated for the good of the inhabitants. Click here to view.