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The County Histories of Scotland



DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY



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A HISTORY



OF



DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY



BY

XI vA <b"V <i. C *",

SIR HERBERT MAXWELL,' . Bart., M.P.

AUTHOR OP 'THB TOPOGRAPHY OP GALLOWAY,' ETC



SECOND EDITION



WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS

EDINBURGH AND LONDON

MDCCCC



AU Right* reuroed

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DA
880

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a^cr sfi. ^ 7 7



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THIS VOLUME IS DEDICATED
to

JOHN HAMILTON DALRYMPLE,
TENTH

EARL OF STAIR, K.T., LL.D.,

Lord Lieutenant of Ayrshire and Wigtownshire,
who, by his personal qualities, has added to the
hereditary honours of his house the affectionate
respect of all who know him.



388119

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INTRODUCTION.



So many writers have already dealt with the history of
the district forming the subject of the following chapters,
that some justification must be attempted for going over
the ground again.

One of two different objects, it seems to me, ought to
be kept in view in compiling a summary of the history
of any province. On the one hand, a writer maydevote
himself to collecting and repeating the traditions linger-
ing among the people, and transcribing events from the
narratives of former chroniclers, without making too
searching inquiry into the evidence on which they rest
On the other hand, he may venture to reject such local
lore as will not endure critical analysis, and, working in
the light of the research which during the last two
centuries has been so patiently and fruitfully directed
on the records of the past, apply himself to sift what is
authentic from what rests only on hearsay, and confine
himself to preparing what shall be a concise and trust-
worthy, even though it may be a dry, narrative of such
events as are capable of historic proof.



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Vlll INTRODUCTION.

It is the latter of these objects that I have set before
me. Recent and abler writers have yielded to the fascin-
ation of romantic legend and shadowy tradition, and if,
as is not unlikely, disappointment be encountered by
those who shall search these pages in vain for such
charming incidents as that of Bruce and the Spider,
or such blood-curdling episodes as the execution of
Maclellan of Bomby by the Black Douglas, my excuse
lies in the absence of satisfactory evidence to the alleged
facts. The bias of early historians may be traced in the
contradictory accounts they give of the same incidents,
and the dawn of literature in our land was too feeble
to allow fables, errors, or falsehoods to be "nailed to
the counter" at once. Indeed it is not the nature of
these myths to spring into existence full - feathered.
They are the product of slow incubation and gradual
fledging. The wild stories told by Blind Harry about
Wallace, and by Boece and Buchanan about Bruce,
have no place in the earlier chronicles. Statements in
the chronicles themselves must often be taken with
great reserve ; with how much greater reserve must
those stores be accepted which have passed from lip
to lip of generations, without even the frail check upon
human prejudice and passion which is provided by the
printing-press and editors desk.

But the time is not unfitting for an impartial and
dispassionate review of the course of events and social
change in Dumfriesshire and Galloway, concise enough
to be within reach of those connected with the south-
west, conscientious enough to be relied on as a text-



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INTRODUCTION. IX

book for easy reference, and leaving undisturbed, save
where necessity arises for dispelling fallacy, the accum-
ulations of fable and tradition which have gathered over
the past.

The ballad literature of the south-west is so profuse
and picturesque, and so closely woven into the true
story of our country, that I have found it difficult to
refrain from quoting it at greater length than I have
done. But to have indulged in wide excursions in
the field so thoroughly worked by Allan Cunning-
ham, Sir Walter Scott, and the late Professor Veitch,
would have swelled the present work far beyond its
prescribed scope and size.

The narrative has not been brought beyond the
close of the eighteenth century, because no one re-
quiring information about events since that time need
be at any loss for authoritative records. The changes
during the present century have, indeed, been sweeping
and rapid, but they have not been violent, and to trace
their course would take a great part of the space which
I have thought it better economy to devote to those
centuries where the light is less full and more con-
flicting. But in spite of the alteration brought about
in the outward aspect of the country by improved
agriculture and the development of railways, and in
the social condition of its inhabitants by education
and by a franchise repeatedly extended, the south-
western counties of Scotland have not lost all traces
of earlier ages. Witness to the continuity of its eth-
nology is borne by the prevalence among the popula-



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X INTRODUCTION.

tion of the old Gaelic or Pictish nomenclature, mixed
with a strong leaven of Anglo-Saxon and some traces
of Scandinavian names.

Were I to name all the writers, living and departed,
to whom I have been indebted for much of the infor-
mation presented in these pages, the list would be a
very long one. It must not be supposed that I am
insensible to the advantage derived from their labours
because I have not mentioned all of them by name.
But the labours of three students in particular have
brought to light such a mass of documentary evidence
bearing on the course of events from the thirteenth to
the end of the sixteenth century, that I cannot refrain
from acknowledging the extent to which I have availed
myself of their compilations. These are Sir Francis
Palgrave, whose volume on 'Documents and Records
illustrating the History of Scotland* was published
by the Commissioners of Public Records in 1837; Mr
Joseph Bain, who edited the four volumes of the
'Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland/ 1881-88 ;
and the Rev. Joseph Stevenson, whose two volumes of
'Historical Documents relating to Scotland* appeared
in 1870. 1

Mr J. H. Starke of Troqueer Holm, Dumfries, has
been at the pains to go over the proofs. Much
assistance was rendered by the late Mr Allardyce
in revising the earlier chapters. In his death, which
took place while the work was in the press, we have

1 These works are referred to in the text under the names of Palgrave,
Bain, and Stevenson respectively.



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INTRODUCTION. XI

to lament the loss of one who had acquired an ex-
traordinary store of knowledge of the history of his
country. In compiling the bibliography valuable help
was rendered by Mr Starke, Mr M. M. Harper of
Castle Douglas, and Mr Alexander Waugh of Newton-
Stewart



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-g^



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER I.

FROM THE INVASION OF AGRICOLA, A.D. 79, TO THE BUILDING
OF THE WALL OF ANTON I NE, A.D. I4O .



CHAPTER II.

FROM THE BUILDING OF THE WALL OF ANTONINE, A,D. I4O,

TO THE CLOSE OF THE NORSE DOMINION . . 22

NOTE A. MAGNUM MONASTERIUM . . . .46



CHAPTER III.

FROM THE DEATH OF MALCOLM CANMORE IN IO92 TO THE

INTRODUCTION OF THE FEUDAL SYSTEM IN 1 234 . 47



CHAPTER IV.

FROM THE DEATH OF ALAN OF GALLOWAY IN 1 234 TO THE

CORONATION OF ROBERT DE BRUS IN I306 . 62

NOTE B. THE CASTLE OF DUMFRIES . . IOI

NOTE C THE BRUCE PEDIGREE . . . .102

NOTE D. THE MACDOUALLS . . . I03



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XIV CONTENTS.



CHAPTER V.

FROM THE BATTLE OF BANNOCKBURN IN I3I4 TO THE FALL OF

THE HOUSE OF DOUGLAS IN 1 452 . . I06

NOTE E. THE LOCHMABEN STONE . . • 1 32



CHAPTER VI.

FROM THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF DOUGLAS IN I452 TO THE

BATTLE OF FLODDEN IN 1513 . . . I36



CHAPTER VII.

FROM THE BATTLE OF FLODDEN IN 1513 TO THE TREATY OF

NORHAM IN 1550 . . . . . .158

NOTE F. THE CLANS ON THE WEST MARCHES • 1 83

NOTE G. MONITION OF CURSING AGAINST THE BORDER

CLANS ....... l86



CHAPTER VIII.

FROM THE REFORMATION IN 1560 TO 1 598 . . I90

CHAPTER IX.

FEUD BETWEEN THE MAXWELLS AND THE JOHNSTONES, FROM

1572 TO I620 ....... 204

CHAPTER X.

FROM I598 TO THE BATTLE OF PHILIPHAUGH IN 1 645 . . 227

NOTE H. BLAEU'S GEOGRAPHY .... 253

CHAPTER XI.

FROM THE SURRENDER OF CHARLES I. IN 1 646 TO THE DEATH

OF CHARLES II. IN 1685 . . . . -255

NOTE I. ECCLESIASTICAL DISCIPLINE . . 289



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CONTENTS. XV

CHAPTER XII.

FROM THE REVOLUTION IN l688 TO THE STUART RISING IN 1715 29I

NOTE K. CONDITION OF THE SOUTH-WESTERN COUNTIES

IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY . . • • 3*3

CHAPTER XIII.

FROM THE JACOBITE COLLAPSE IN 1 7 IS TO THE CLOSE OF THE

CENTURY ....... 3*8

- NOTE L. THE JACOBITE RISING OF 1 745 . • 360



LIST OF BOOKS RELATING TO, OR PUBLISHED IN, DUMFRIES-
SHIRE AND GALLOWAY ..... 3 6 3
PRINCIPAL MAPS OF DUMFRIESSHIRE AND GALLOWAY • • 4 00
INDEX ........ 4°3



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LIST OF MAPS.



GALLOVIDIA, vemacuU GALLOWAY. Auct. \ In pocket at begin-
Tim. Pont. ) ning of volume.

From Blaeus Great Atlas, 1654.



ANANDALE, EUSDALE OR ESKDALE, AND LIDDESDALE . p. 320
From Moll's Atlas, 1735.

DUMFRIES OR NITHISDALE p. 324

From Moll's Atlas, 1725.

{In i>ocket at end
f I me
From the Ordnance Survey.



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DUMFRIESSHIRE AND GALLOWAY.



CHAPTER I.

FROM THE INVASION OF AGRICOLA, A.D. 79, TO THE BUILDING
OF THE WALL OF ANTONINE, A.D. I40.

When that excellent soldier Julius Agricola arrived during the
summer of a.d. 78 to take command of the Roman forces in
Great Britain, he found the whole of what are now the south-
ern and midland English counties, as well as South Wales,
included in the Roman province. It is uncertain where the
northern frontier had been drawn, and how far the powerful
tribe of Brigantes had been driven out of their possessions in
Lancashire and Yorkshire. War had been carried on with
the Brigantes, the principal opponents of the Roman advance
in the north, since Publius Ostorius, governor of Britain, first
came in contact with them about a.d. 50. Students of his-
tory have put greatly varying interpretations on the description
given by Tacitus of the operations of Agricola ; but they all
agree that, immediately on his arrival, he marched against
the Ordovices in the west, and conquered North Wales and
Anglesea before going into winter quarters.



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2 THE SELGOViE. [79.

It was probably during the summer of 79 (though here
again interpreters greatly differ) that operations were direc-
ted against the Selgovae, a branch of the Brigantes dwell-
ing on the north shore of the Solway as far as the Nith,
occupying what is now Dumfriesshire ; and beyond them to
the west of that river, which Ptolemy called the Novios,
against the Novantae.

The name Selgovae or Elgovae has been compared with the
Gaelic sealg (shallug), in its aspirated form shealg (hallug), the
chase, suggesting that this tribe was known as " the Hunters."
No more reliance may be placed on this than is due to a
plausible guess. It is possible^ however, that in Ptolemy's
Selgovae exists a form of the name now written Solway,
formerly Sulwe. But the only Gaelic name for this estuary
preserved to us is that found in the Irish Life of Adamnan,
where an account is given of Adamnan's mission to Saxonland
in 687 to recover some Irish captives. "Adamnan went to
demand the prisoners, and put in at Tracht JRomra. The
strand is long, and the flood rapid — so rapid, that if the best
steed in Saxonland, ridden by the best horseman, were to
start from the edge of the tide when it begins to flow, he could
only bring his rider ashore by swimming, so extensive is the
strand and so impetuous is the tide." Tracht is the Gaelic
tragh, a strand, but the meaning of Romra is lost The
Solway corresponds with Ptolemy's Ituna ^stusis, estuary of
the Ituna or Eden(?).

As for the name Novantae, it is evidently formed from
the river Novios, just as Baeda, six centuries later, wrote
of this western tribe as Niduani — people of the Nid or
Nith.

Agricola seems, then, to have subdued the Selgovae and
Novantae, and introduced them to some of the customs of
civilisation, before carrying his arms in the following season of



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8a] AGRICOLA'S CAMPAIGN. 3

80 against a different race; 1 although some historians have
interpreted a passage in Tacitus to mean that the Selgovae and
Novanta were not dealt with until Agricola's fifth season's
campaign. The statement of Tacitus is as follows : " In the
fifth year of Agricola's expeditions, having first embarked on
board ship, he subdued in many successful encounters tribes
unknown before that time, and that part of Britain which looks
towards Ireland." Now this could only refer to one of two
parts of the coast of North Britain — namely, the Rhinns of
Galloway and the promontory of Cantyre — the only parts of
Scotland from which Ireland is plainly visible. When it is con-
sidered that Agricola's operations in his fourth campaign were
chiefly confined to strengthening by a line of forts 2 the north-
ern frontier of the territory annexed to the province in the
campaign of the third summer, a frontier which was drawn
from the Forth near Borrowstounness to Old Kilpatrick on the
Clyde, it is much more likely that, as Skene believed, he crossed
the Firth of Clyde in his fifth summer, and, marching through
Cowal and Cantyre, viewed Ireland from the shores of the
Atlantic, than that he so long delayed the conquest of Gallo-
way. 8 He was far too skilful a master of strategy to have
left the warlike Selgova and Novantae to threaten his line
of communication. Besides, Tacitus uses an expression in
describing the advance in the second summer which im-
plies that it lay along the sea-coast rather than through the
heart of the country, — cestuaria ac silvas ipse prcetentare —
to feel his way in person among the estuaries and forests
—exactly describing progress along the Solway towards the
Irish Sea.

On the whole, therefore, the most probable interpretation

1 " Novas gentes aperuit." — Tacitus.

f " Quod turn pnesidiis firmabatur." — Tacitus.

8 Celtic Scotland, vol. i. p. 47.



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4 THE ABORIGINAL RACE.

of the chronology of Tacitus indicates the subjugation of
Dumfriesshire and Galloway as the work of Agricola's second
season in Britain.

Over the ethnography of Selgovae and Novantae much con-
troversy has taken place. It is probable that on the shores
of Solway, as in the rest of the British Isles, there was at one
time an aboriginal race, small and dark-haired, which early
Greek writers describe as being replaced by the larger-limbed,
fairer-skinned Celts. The early Irish historical legends con-
tain numerous allusions to this people, generally known as
Firbolg. But as it cannot be affirmed that any trace of these
has been identified, either in the traditions or sepulchral
remains of this particular district, further speculation about
them is for the present futile. The fairest inference from the
majority of place-names in Novantia — now Galloway — as well
as from the oldest recorded personal names, is that it was
long inhabited by people of the Goidelic or Gaelic branch
of Celts, speaking the same language, no doubt with some
dialectic variation, as the natives of Ireland and the rest of
what is now Scotland. 4 The Cymric or Welsh speech, which
was afterwards diffused among the Britons of Dumfriesshire
and Strathclyde, did not prevail to dislodge innumerable
place-names in the Goidelic language which still remain
within the territory of the Strathclyde Britons. That the
people who dwelt longest in Galloway spoke neither the
Welsh form of Celtic nor the Pictish dialect of Gaelic, may be
inferred from the absence of any certain traces of either of
these languages among their names of places. Yet, as will be
shown hereafter, they bore the name of Picts long after it had

4 Reginald of Durham, writing in the twelfth century, has preserved one
word of Galloway Pictish. He says that certain clerics of Kirkcudbright
were called scollofthcs in the language of the Picts. This is a rendering of
the Latin seolasticus, differing not greatly from the Erse and Gaelic scolog,
more widely from the Welsh yscolheic.



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THE NIDUARIAN PICTS. 5

fallen into disuse in other parts of Scotland. They were
Picts, yet not the same as northern Picts dwelling beyond the
Mounth, nor as the southern Picts dwelling between the
Mounth and the Forth; Gaels, yet not of one brotherhopd
with other Gaels — a distinction emphasised by the name
given to them of Gallgaidhel or stranger Gaels. This term
became in the Welsh speech Gallwyddel (dd sounds like th
in " this "), whence the name of Galloway, which still denotes
the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright and the shire or county of
Wigtown.

Not much light is thrown on the early ethnography of this
part of Scotland by the geography of Claudius Ptolemaeus,
who surveyed the country at the beginning of the second
century, and probably derived much of his information from
those who served under Agricola and his successors in com-
mand; nevertheless a large proportion of the place-names
given by him are obviously Latinised or Hellenised versions
of Celtic. Thus, of the four towns assigned by Ptolemy to
the Selgovae, Trimontium, corresponding in position to Birrens-
wark, where remains of both native and Roman earthworks
may be traced, has been commonly applied to the Eildon
Hills, from the irresistible suggestion of ires monies^ triple
peak. But the prefix is far more likely to be the common
Gaelic treamh y or Welsh tre or tref> and the name was probably
in Welsh tre mynydd, or in Gaelic treamh monaidh, signifying
"hill village." 6 Uxellon, near the mouth of the Nith, was
probably Wardlaw Hill,® and is a Greek rendering of the
Welsh uchel y high, which remains in such names as Ochiltree, 7

* The same prefix occurs in Troqueer, Traquair, Terregles (formerly
Travereaglis), and many other names in this district

* Wardlaw, the watch-hill : in later years the rallying-place of the
Maxwells, wardens of the Western Marches, whose slogan was " Bide
Wardlaw ! "

7 Uchel tre % high village or farm.



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6 PTOLEMY'S TOPOGRAPHY. [120.

the Ochils, &c. Corda appears to have been Sanquhar, and
to retain as a prefix the same syllable eaer, which the modern
name bears as a suffix. 8 Carbantorigon, assigned by Ptolemy
to a position between the Nith and the Dee, also contains the
syllable caer or cathair (caher), and may possibly be the
notable earthwork now known as the Moat of Urr, or, locally,
as the King's Mount

Unluckily for our knowledge of the ancient topography of
Galloway, the distribution of the tribes bordering on the
Solway, and the situation of the chief strongholds, Ptolemy's
survey was dislocated by an extraordinary blunder, affecting
the south-west of Scotland more severely than any other part
of the British Isles. All that part of the island of Britain lying
north of the Tweed is canted at right angles to the rest towards
the east ; Novantum chersonesus, now the Rhinns of Galloway,
is made to lie towards the north-east instead of south by west,
and the extremity of it, Novantum promontorium^ now the
Mull of Galloway, is made to appear the northernmost point
of Caledonia instead of the southernmost. It is as though
maps of South and North Britain had been drawn on separate
sheets and afterwards pasted together, the sheet of North
Britain being laid sidewise instead of endwise. To put this
right, the geographer has exaggerated the length of the Solway
Firth from 70 to nearly 200 miles. 9

Making due allowance for this derangement of distances
and inversion of the points of the compass, it is still possible
to recognise some of the chief features, natural and artificial.
To the north, as Ptolemy put it, but really to the west, of
Novius or the Nith, is Deva or the Kirkcudbright Dee. Then

8 Sanquhar = Gaelic, sean cathair (caher), old fortress, a name which
indicates its antiquity, even in Gaelic times, as a place of defence.

• See ''Analysis of the Ptolemaic Geography of Scotland," by the late
Captain F. W. L. Thomas, R.N., in the Proceedings of the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland, vols. xi. and xii.



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120.] PTOLEMY'S TOPOGRAPHY: 7

comes Ienae iEstuarium, as it is written in later editions,
corresponding with Wigtown Bay ; but, as Skene has pointed
out, 1 this is rendered Fines ^Estus by the earlier copyists,
and may possibly denote the limit or finis of Agricola's
advance in his second campaign. It is noteworthy that the
river forming this estuary and dividing the county of Wigtown
from the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright is called at this day the
Cree, written Creth in the thirteenth century, a name which
seems to be formed of the Gaelic crioch (creegh), a boundary.
The next river mentioned is named Abravannus, corresponding
with the Luce, flowing into Abravannus Sinus or Luce Bay.
This is obviously a Latinised form of the Gaelic aber amhuinn
(avun), mouth of the river. The last inlet within the con-
fines of Galloway is Rerigonius Sinus, of which name, Rerigon,
a contracted form, survives in Loch Ryan. 2



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