The Parish of Irongray.
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A TOPOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF SCOTLAND, by Samuel Lewis. Published in 2 vols, London, 1846.
"KIRKPATRICK-IRONGRAY, a parish, in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, 5 miles (W. N. W.) from Dumfries ; containing, with the village of Shawhead, 927 inhabitants. This parish derives the adjunct by which it is distinguished from other parishes of the same name in this part of the country, from the lands on which its ancient church was erected. It is bounded on the north by the river Cluden, which separates it from the county of Dumfries; and is about nine miles in length, and from one mile to four miles in breadth, comprising nearly 14,500 acres, of which 7125 are arable, 2114 woodland and plantations, and the remainder rough pasture and waste. The surface in the eastern portion of the parish is nearly a level plain. Towards the centre the land rises into bold undulations, forming a part of a ridge of hills which intersects the county ; the summits are richly wooded, and the acclivities in the highest state of cultivation. Of these hills, the most conspicuous are the Bishop's Forest and Glenbennan, which have an elevation of 1500 feet above the level of the sea, and command extensive and diversified prospects, embracing portions of Nithsdale and Annandale, the Solway Frith, and the hills of Cumberland. The only river strictly belonging to the parish is the Auld, which has its source on the confines of Kirkpatrick-Durham, and, after flowing for some miles through this parish in an eastern course, curves towards the north, and falls into the Cairn, which, afterwards taking the name of the Cluden, forms a boundary of the parish. The Auld water, near its influx into the Cairn, makes a small but picturesque cascade of two falls, the highest of which is twenty feet; and near the lower fall is a romantic bridge of one arch, which, from the noise of the water, has obtained the appellation of the Routing Bridge. The river abounds with trout and par, and, during the season, with grilse.
The Soil in some parts is of a light and sandy quality, alternated with gravel, and in others a mixture of clay, with tracts of rich alluvial soil near the shores of the rivers; the crops are, oats, barley, and wheat, with potatoes and turnips, and the various grasses. The system of husbandry is improved ; the lands are inclosed, and the fences kept in good order; considerable quantities of waste have been brought under cultivation, and the farm houses and buildings are substantial and commodious. Great attention is paid to the improvement of live stock ; the cattle are principally of the Galloway breed, and, instead of being sold as formerly to drovers, are fattened by the farmers at home for the markets, to which they are forwarded by steam-boats. The sheep are of the native breed, partaking of the Galloway kind ; the horses, of which many are bred, are of the Clydesdale. Large numbers of pigs are kept till one year old, and sent to the market of Dumfries. The substrata of the parish are, whinstone, of which the rocks are generally composed, slate, freestone, and puddingstone : an attempt was made recently to discover coal, but without success.
The rateable annual value of Kirkpatrick-Irongray is £6206. The Grove is a handsome mansion, recently erected, in the castellated style, with a tower rising from the south entrance; Drumpark is also a handsome residence. The village of Shawhead consists chiefly of a few cottages and a small ale-house : facility of communication is afforded by good roads and bridges. The Ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery and synod of Dumfries. The minister's stipend is £231. 6. 2., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £25 per annum ; patron, James Oswald, Esq., of Auchencruive. The church, built in 1803, and situated on the bank of the river Cluden, is a neat structure containing 400 sittings, of which fifty are free. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. There are two parochial schools, one of which is in the village of Shawhead; the masters have each a salary of £25. 13. 7; with a house and garden, and the fees average about £15 each annually. A parochial library has been established, and contains about 200 volumes. The poor have bequests yielding £23 per annum. Helen Walker, whose history is recorded by Walter Scott in his Heart of Mid Lothian, under the name of "Jeanie Deans," was a native of this parish ; and a stone to her memory was erected here by the poet."