PARISH OF KILSYTH V - PAROCHIAL ECONOMY 

PRESBYTERY OF GLASGOW, AND SYNOD OF GLASGOW AND AYR. 

THE REV. WILLIAM BURNS, MINISTER. 

This parish may be said to comprise three of a moderate size and population, viz. the town and suburbs, containing 2900, the East Barony and moorlands, nearly 1000; and the West Barony, about 350. The Railway work is said to have added nearly 500; but these are again departing. The census about to be taken will probably show the population to be still about 4300.

The town lies on the most northerly road from Edinburgh to Glasgow, and is nearly equidistant from Glasgow, Stirling, (by the hill road), Falkirk, and Hamilton. It does not seem to be very ancient, yet it has been a post-town ever since the institution of the post establishment. About half a century ago, it was the great thoroughfare betwixt the metropolis and Glasgow. Now, it is rare to see any vehicle on the streets, superior to a cart or the post gig. There is not even one post-chaise, but very comfortable accommodation in the chief inn, for families traveling in their own vehicles.

There are two villages in the East Barony, Banton and Auchinmully, (or Banton Lower,) containing 600 inhabitants, miners, colliers, sickle-makers, &c.

The town of Kilsyth, holding of Sir Archibald Edmonstone, Bart. was erected into a burgh of barony about twelve years ago, having a baillie and four councillors, elected annually, who hold monthly courts for small debts, and petty offences. All the inhabitants and proprietors of houses to the extent of L. 5 rental, who chose to furnish themselves with a burgess-ticket, have a vote in the election.

The trade of Kilsyth is almost entirely hand-loom-weaving, to the order of the Glasgow manufacturers. Two factories have lately been commenced; in the new town of Kilsyth, by Messrs Wilson, and at Quinzie mill, in the West Barony, by Messrs Ross. The latter is a waulking factory; the articles made are whip and lappets, the former used in weaving, the latter for the foreign market. The number of hands at present 23; 16 looms going ; the quantity of cloth thrown off about 160 pieces, ten yards in each piece. The work is now enlarged, and eleven more looms fitted up. For six months past, the company have employed a young man, although there is an excellent school at Chapel Green, to teach the children connected with this work, and a few others who choose to avail themselves of the benefit. They employ about 50 hands in town also. Messrs Wilson's factory employs at present 50 weavers, all working coarse lappets, with the exception of nine who are working umbrella-cloth and checked ginghams. Out-door weavers in the town are working fine lappets; they are 66 in number. There are six out-of-door pollicot weavers, which makes in all 122 in this parish. These two companies, though small compared with those in Glasgow, Airdrie, &c are yet of some importance here; as before their erection, nothing of the kind had been, at least for a long time, attempted, and the community generally were operatives depending on the great houses in Glasgow.

Our tambourers are, upon the whole, in the most depressed condition at present.

At Upper Banton, in the East Barony, there is a small sickle-work; a paper-mill at Townhead, Mr Lusk's; and a brick and tile-work at Currymire; the two latter are of recent origin.

We have no regular weekly market-day; nor are our two annual fairs of any moment ;* yet, almost at all seasons, good butcher-meat can be obtained (with the exception of veal), almost as good as in Glasgow or Falkirk, and somewhat cheaper. In this article there has been a very perceptible improvement, during the last fifteen years.

For several years past, there has been a Farmers' Association in this and the neighbouring parishes; and a large cattle-show, near the chief inn, takes place in the mouth of June, and is encouraged by the chief proprietor and his factor, James Maclaren, Esq. and by other friends to agricultural improvement, when premiums are awarded for the best specimens of horses, cows, &c This show has been attended with perceptible benefit.

*This year the fair has been held on Friday the 9th April, and the change promises to be favourable, as it is a good time for selling milk cows.

Forth and Clyde.-The canal is our principal mode of communication with other parts of the country. We have also cheap coaches, three times a-day to Stirling, in connection with the canal barges. The mail coach was removed from us about ten years ago, and the intercourse with Glasgow and Falkirk is now carried on by a post-gig, carrying one passenger.

Ecclesiastical State.-The present parish church, erected in 1816, is elegant and well-finished. The site of the former church was in the church-yard; but that of the present is at the west end of the town, adjoining the old house of Kilsyth. It is by far too small for the population, holding only 860. The younger part of families, are thus, in a manner, precluded from attending with their parents, and remain at home, or roam through the fields; and there is afforded too ready an apology to many, for neglecting religious ordinances.

Now, however, a very neat church has been erected at Banton on the ground of Ruchill, a little to the north of Kelvinhead, which will accommodate upwards of 40O, and when a gallery is needed, nearly 600. The means of erecting this church were obtained by subscription,* and a grant from the General Assembly's Church Extension Committee. The population adjacent amounts to about 900. A new school and master's house have been erected at the same time. A missionary has been employed since Christmas 1837, who labours during the week among the families of the district. The new church is nearly three miles east from the parish church of Kilsyth, and nearly as far distant from any other place of worship. Yet the population is not such as to afford any reasonable prospect of a sufficient support to a minister. An endowment is, therefore, imperatively called for.

The manse was built in 1786, for Mr John Telfer, the minister. An addition was made to it, in an early part of Dr Rennie's ministry, of one large room, besides other conveniences; and new and excellent offices were added at a later period (1816). Two years ago, the heritors erected two rooms above the large room referred to, put the whole in a pretty good state or repair built a handsome porch of freestone, so that it is now a respectable-looking, and commodious dwelling for a family, although the narrowness of the original construction and the steepness of the staircase could not be corrected. The glebe consists of about 10 acres of the best light land in the parish. A great part of it is a very few inches deep, upon a blue whinstone. Till 1800, the glebe was in parcels amounting together to 14 acres, but not lying contiguous. Excambion has improved the benefice. The only inconvenience is, that there is no perennial spring on the glebe. The well, though good water fails in a sultry season.

The greater part of the teinds was exhausted at the last augmentation in 1822, the stipend was raised to 17 chalders, half meal, half barley, at the highest fiars, with L. 15 Communion elements, being about L. 250 a-year at an average Most of the smaller heritors have surrendered their teinds which frees them of all trouble from any future augmentation.

* Four subscribers of fifty guineas each to the new church of Banton were, Sir A. Edmonstone, Bart.; W. A. Cadell. Esq. of Banton; Daniel Lusk, Esq. of the paper-mill, Townhead; and William Camphell, Esq Glasgow.

Since the above was written, Mr J. Lynn was ordained minister of Banton on the 13th February 1840.

The late Sir Charles Edmonlstone, Bart. presented an excellent bell from London to the church of Kilsyth, which unfortunately was broken in the year 1825, it is supposed, from the bellman having made an undue addition to the tone, with the ambitious design of outpealing the neighbouring bell of Kirkintilloch. he new bell, the production of S. Miller and Co., Glasgow, is a fine silver toned one.

The greater part of the glebe was lately let at L.2, l5s. per acre. The park to the south of the manse is the best, and is still retained as pasture by the minister.

Since the year 1768, when the Relief church was built, there have been a considerable number of Dissenters in this parish, chiefly of the Relief persuasion, and of Original Burghers*, and the United Associate Synod the two last-named going for worship to Cumbernauld. A small body of Methodists have now a chapel; and a small body of Independents occupy the New Mason Lodge. The proportion of Dissenters to those in connection with the church, is nearly a fifth; but there are occasional transitions from the Church to the Relief, and vice versa, from various causes, such as discipline, marriages, seats, &c The Relief church holds about 600; and, as usual, the hearers are from parishes adjacent, as well as from this.

*Since the union or the Original Burgher congregation with the Establishment, the hearers who used to go out of this parish come to the churches of Kilsyth and of Banton.- 1841.

So early as the year 1586 Mr Alexander Livingston, of the family of Callendar, was parson of the original parish of Monaebrugh. He was succeeded, in 1599, by his son, William Livingston,---a considerable heritor in the parish. In 1604, he used all his influence to oppose the restoration of the bishops, for which cause, and for his non-submission to the canons and ceremonies, he was deposed, and, by his Majesty's authority, deprived of his ministry. After this, there seems to have been a vacancy for some years. In the year 1615, Mr Archibald Graham was admitted minister. In the year 1636, he was called before the High Commission Court, for neglecting to practise the canons and constitutions; and for this he was deposed. The following year Mr Gabriel Cunningham was admitted, who conformed to Episcopacy after the Restoration. Till about this period, it would seem that the Lord's Supper had not been administered, for it is recorded, that, in the year 1665, communion table-cloths, cups, and tickets were obtained, and a basin for baptism, but no flagons, nor even a church Bible. The people repeated the creed, said the Lord's Prayer, and sung the doxology after the psalms. In the year 1666, Mr James Gartshore was admitted to the charge. He was translated to Cardross in 1673. Two years after, Mr Walter McGill, the last Episcopal clergyman here, was admitted minister, being translated from Wigton. He was a man of uncommon meekness and moderation, and a great favourite of all ranks and denominations of people in the parish; insomuch, that, when it was declared vacant by the Presbytery, in the year 1690, an uproar ensued. The patron and his lady, with a powerful party in the parish espoused his cause; and; when the Presbytery met at the church, the patron sent down his chamberlain to refuse them admittance, and lock up the doors. The populace even offered violence to the Presbyterian clergyman who was to officiate. A scuffle ensued, in which many were wounded, and one killed. Mr McGill's partizans at last prevailed, and the Presbytery were at a loss what steps next to take; but, in February 1691, Mr McGill formally gave in his demission. A vacancy ensued for some time; during which period, the Presbytery visited, and ordered repairs on the church, manse, and offices to the amount of L.212, 1s. 4d. Scots.

On the 29th December 1692, Mr. James Hay, the first Presbyterian minister, was translated from Kilmalcolm to this parish. During his incumbency, the church received considerable repairs. The roof was renewed, and the north aisle, with the vault or burying-ground under it, was repaired in the year 1697, the parish being assessed L.1266, 13s. 4d. Scots. Mr Hay was fifty-two years of age when he was admitted. In 1710, Mr James Stewart was elected, by unanimous consent of the minister, session, and congregation, to be assistant. In that capacity he officiated till Mr Hay's death, in July following. A vacancy again ensued, the Presbytery for nearly three years supplying the charge once in the fortnight.

The famous Mr S. Robe, son of the Rev. Mr Michael Robe, minister at Cumbernauld, was admitted minister on 24th April 1713.* He received a presentation from the Viscount of Kilsyth, who was so tenacious of his right, that neither he nor his lady would allow a call to be moderated in his favour. The Presbytery, being assured that the presentee was acceptable to the parish, dispensed with the form of a call, and ordained and admitted him. Patronage had been very recently restored by Queen Anne's ministry. It was under Mr Robe's ministry, as already noticed, that the remarkable religious revival took place.

* It is not at all likely that any formal deed or presentation was either offered or accepted; but the fact only is certain, that, after a three years vacancy, Mr Robe, was amicably settled.

On the 21st March 1754, Mr John Telfer was ordained minister; and he continued so till his death, in March 1789. It was during his ministry, that the Relief secession took place. Mr Telfer had given offence to his session, and many of his people, by countenancing, by his presence, the unpopular settlement of a minister at Eaglesham. He was frequently assisted, in his latter days, by Mr William Bow, a probationer in the neighbourhood. In September 1789, Robert Rennie, D. D., a native of the parish, was ordained and admitted minister. He died on the 10th of July 1820. The present incumbent (ordained by the Presbytery of Brechin as minister of Dun, on the 4th December 1800,) was admitted here on the 19th April 1821.

The Crown has been patron since the forfeiture in 1716; and the settlements have always been harmonious.

Eldership.-The parish has long been divided into sixteen parts, over each of which an elder, who is at the same time deacon, presides. Most of the elders are attentive to the spiritual as well as the temporal affairs of their district or quarter, and are often found praying with the afflicted.

Shools.-There are three parochial schools, one in the town; another at Chapel-green, in the West Barony; the third at Banton, in the east. The teacher in the town, considered as properly the parochial schoolmaster, has a salary of L. 30, and acts as session-clerk. The East Barony teacher has L. 12, 6s. 3d.; the west L. 9. This last; commonly called Chapel-green school, has the benefit of a mortification by Mr John Patrick, (a native), merchant in London, whose legacy of L. 60, placed under the management of the session and Presbytery, in the year 1723, having been invested in land, now yields L. 22 per annum to the teacher who is bound to teach poor scholars in the barony.* Few, however, come under that description. There is also a good house and school-room, built by the liberality of the late Sir Charles Edmonstone, Bart. of Duntreath, and some others. Sabbath-schools have been established for a quarter of a century, and have been highly useful. One great deduction from their efficiency, doubtless, is their not being on the local system; the consequence of which is, that many or those children who stand most in need of being instructed, are, not found in attendance. Of late, several pious individuals are using their endeavours to collect neglected children round their own doors, and give them instructions along with their own children, in numbers from eight to twelve each.

*In1745 this sum of L. 60, with part of the money belonging to the session, which had been lent to the laird of Gartshore at five per cent was laid out on the small mealen of Culmuir, being part of the said Gartshore lands; and in the year 1823 a century after the mortification, Culimuir was sold to the present proprietor of said lands, the part belonging to the school having increased in value to L.550, which at present yields L.22 per annum. As to the portion appertaining to the session, it was soon spent for the good of the poor parishioners.

The small collections at the evening exercise, lately begun in the winter season in church, are applied towards furnishing such children with Bibles or Testaments. At Banton the school and school-master's house have been rebuilt by subscription. They are very substantial and commodious. In the immediate vicinity of the town of Kilsyth, a new school and schoolmaster's house have been erected, on a handsome and commodious plan,-Sir Archibald Edmonstone, Bart. having liberally given the ground, and the rest of the heritors paying their proportion of the expense of the building. A good many children are taught gratis, the heritors and session, at the recommendation of the minister and session, paying the teacher a modified payment for a considerable number of children of poor or dissipated parents. Notwithstanding of this liberality, too many are very imperfectly taught; the poverty, or shameful recklessness of the parents tempting them to apprentice the poor children sit the early ages of eight, nine, and ten ? In this case, the children are apt to lose soon the little they have learnt. In some cases, they attend an evening school by way of redeeming time; but this is a very partial remedy, and often not improved.

The intelectual system of mental and moral tuition has been practised here, for eight or ten years past, with considerable spirit and success.

There are usually, in the town, two schools on the teachers' own adventure. One of these, in connection with the Relief, has, for two years, had a kind of endowment from a wealthy member of that body,-the teacher being bound to give schooling to the poor of the Relief persuasion, either gratis, or for a small payment. In the East Barony, there is a female teacher, who has generally about forty scholars, whom she is very assiduous and successful in instructing.

Nearly 500 scholars are in regular course of instruction at the schools of this parish. The week-day evening classes succeed well. In the parochial school in the town, there are 11 Latin scholars, 2 Greek, and 5 French.

Savings Bank -A savings bank was opened in September 1829: and the following statement will show what measure of success has attended it.

, .
Received to 11th August 1830  L. 128 14 10 and disbursed L. 19 1 7 
Do. do. 1831 183 16 8  do. 84 15 8
Do. do. 1832 180 16 8  do. 89 13 0
Do. do. 1833 268 16 5  do. 236 14 4
Do. do. 1834 476 3 10  do. 216 14 7
Do. do 1835 683 4 8  do. 221 18 6
Do. do 1836 665 1 10  do. 371 18 11
Do. do 1837 645 1 5  do. 457 1 1
 

There are, of female depositors in the savings bank, 85 consisting of servants, weavers, and tambourers; and a few who come under no particular designation, &c. There are, of male depositors, 65, consisting of weavers, (about 30), servants, labourers, masons, wrights, and other trades. The remainder is composed of retired and professional men. There are 39 boys and girls.

The number of sums below L4 Sterling is, by the balance sheet of August 1837, 55 ; above L4 and below L.7, 37; and from L.7 to L.10, 96. The stock at 31st January 1838, was L.1621, 11s 3d. Sterling.

Friendly Societies.- Friendly societies have long been known here, and, with the exception of one or two failures from wrong calculation, have done much good. The Benevolent Society was instituted in 1796. The number of members has, for many years, varied from 100 to 130. The highest rate of aliment is 5s. per week; and L. 3 is paid to the widow of a member deceased. The annual contribution is 6s. The funds of the society amount to above L.260. The average sum paid to members for the last eight years, is about L. 40 per annum. Upwards of L.600 have been expended in supporting the members, since its commencement. The Benefit Union has been for nine years in a prosperous state. It was instituted in the year 1828, and its laws brought under the Acts of Parliament in 1834. The number of its members is at present, 200. The funds, L. 170. At the age of twenty-one years, the payment of 5s. annually entitles the members to receive 5s. weekly, when confined to bed; and 3s. weekly, when laid aside from work, but not bedfast. These are valuable societies; and it must be confessed that our people seem to be more fully alive to their utility than to that of the savings bank, which has not realized the amount of good anticipated. There is one society among the miners in Banton, which has not done so well, from the bad custom of the members meeting in a public-house, and indulging in spirituous liquors. This practice, however, has now been corrected.

Libraries. - A reading Society has long been in existence. The Sabbath School Society has a library adapted to the young. In the two Baronies, two years ago, libraries were formed, the Irish Cheap Library, commonly called the Kildare Library, of 79 volumes, forming the nucleus. They are supported by donations and subscriptions of small sums and regular contributions of 3d. per quarter. A considerable collection of excellent books has been lately presented to the parish.

Temperance Societies.-The writer of this article, after much deliberation, saw it to be his duty to form one of these associations in 1829, at the same time with the savings bank, to which it was well fitted to be, and to which it has been, a useful auxiliary. Much good has been done. But the lamentable fact, that there are not fewer than 22 houses or shops licensed to sell ale and spirits, to a population of less than 3000, shows that the vice of intemperance still prevails to a woeful extent The quarriers and colliers, with a few very honourable exceptions, continue fearfully addicted to drinking spirits, especially on pay-nights, and when there is any cessation from working. Females as well as men are much addicted to this ruinous vice.

Poor and Parochial Provision.- Until the year 1811, the interest of a fund of nearly L 300, and the weekly collections and small dues, as mortcloth, &c. were found, in ordinary times, sufficient to supply the necessities of the poor; but since that period, it has been found necessary to combine the system of partial assessment with weekly collections. The landed proprietors meet regularly twice a year with the session, and, after examining the lists of the poor, and correcting the lists as circumstances require, agree to stent themselves for such sum as may be necessary to meet the expenditure of the coming season. The tenants and householders are not assessed, but are encouraged to give their contributions at the church door. Besides this systematic plan of supplying the weekly and occasional poor, private beneficence is exercised, and it is pleasant to notice, that, in cases of extreme and unexpected distress, it is usual for kind neighbours to go round, and to collect for the relief of the sufferers.

The weekly list of poor contains about 60, chiefly aged widows; the occasional poor are about the same number. The heritors very liberally allow surgical aid in certain cases; and this is a regular item of their annual accounts. This parish has been more than usually burdened with cases of poor lunatics, deaf and dumb, and orphans. An accumulation of such cases in 1811, with the low state of trade, caused the introduction of the mode of partial assessment nor does there seem any possibility of avoiding it. Were all the proprietors residing constantly, and attending the ordinances of religion in the Established Church, the assessment could at once be dispensed with; but otherwise, the thing is quite out of the question. Neither do we find that the mode we follow, has the effect of bringing into desuetude private benevolence. Had we no such regular mode of supply, our elders and deacons would have to become beggars general for the poor of their respective quarters. The collection, exclusive of extraordinary days, brings from 12s. to 15s. weekly. The Banton church has a collection every six weeks, for the poor of the district, by consent of the managers, without any order from the heritors.

Collections and subscriptions for religious purposes are made regularly for the schemes of the General Assembly,-besides occasional collections for the Scottish Missionary, the Glasgow Bible Society, &c The average amount of such collections is from L. 4 to L. 5. It is but justice to record, that the contributions to the new church and school of Banton, and the liberal donation of the chief proprietor to the building of the new school in the town, will amount ,in all to nearly L. 1000. In the two former of these works, we have no doubt been indebted to the kindness of various friends at a distance, who also aid us in supporting the minister, who was ordained in 1840, and has a bond for L. 80. The want of an endowment is much felt.

PARISH OF KILSYTH

PRESBYTERY OF GLASGOW, AND SYNOD OF GLASGOW AND AYR.

THE REV. WILLIAM BURNS, MINISTER.

MISCELLANEOUS OBSERVATIONS.

Since the date of the last Account, several of the disadvantages therein referred to have been removed.

1. The principal heritor now generally resides in the parish, though he has been two years absent in England: and the residence of such a landlord is a mighty blessing to the poor.

2. The parish has now, what it had not then, Justices of the Peace,-Sir A. Edmonstone, and his factor; also a baillie and council.

3. The communication with Glasgow, and Falkirk, and Stirling is now very cheap and easy, at all seasons when the canal is open. Ere long, the proposed railway betwixt Glasgow and Edinburgh, may come within one mile of this parish. Gas has been introduced into our shops and places of worship. The church has been heated with stoves. The streets have been very much improved of late by levelling, removal or out-stairs, and nuisances. With such a command of water as we possess, and other advantages, it is rather surprising that we have no great public work of any kind. The consolation here is, that morals might not be improved by such erections and the consequent immigration.

Revised and completed April 1841.

1.       Topography and natural history

II      Civil history

III    Population

IV      Kilsyth Industry