- KIRKINNER, a parish, in the county of Wigton; containing, with the hamlets of Marchfarm and Slohabert, 1769 inhabitants, of whom 229 are in the village of Kirkinner, 3 miles (S. by W.) from Wigton. This place, which is of very remote antiquity, derives its name from the virgin saint Kinneir, by whom its ancient church was consecrated, and who suffered martyrdom at Cologne in the year 450. The church was granted by Edward Bruce, Lord of Galloway, to the priory of Whithorn; and on its resignation by the brethren of that establishment to James V., in 1503, in exchange for the church of Kirkandrews, it was attached to the chapel royal of Stirling. Subsequently, it formed the benefice of the sub-dean of the chapel. The original parish included the whole of the district now forming the parish of Kirkowan, after the separation of which, the ancient parish of Longcastle was united to Kirkinner on the decay of its church, which fell into ruins in 1630. The early history of the place is not distinguished by any other events of importance. The old castle of Baldoon, for nearly two centuries the seat of the Dunbar family, and which furnished Sir Walter Scott with incidents for his tale of the Bride of Lammermoor, passed, by marriage with the heiress, to the Hamiltons, and then to the Douglases, with whom it remained till 1793, when the estate was purchased by the Earl of Galloway.The parish is bounded on the east by the bay of Wigton, along which it extends for about three miles, and on the north by the river Bladenoch; and comprises 15,000 acres, of which 13,500 are arable, 300 woodland and plantations, and the remainder hill pasture, moor, and moss. The surface along the shore of the bay is perfectly level, but in most other parts is diversified with gentle undulations, and hills of moderate height, sometimes covered with verdure, or crowned with plantations, which add much to the beauty of the scenery. The bay is here from seven to eight miles in width at high water, but retires, at the ebb of the tide, to a considerable distance from the shore, leaving a level tract of sand more than a mile in breadth. The river Bladenoch has its source near the borders of Ayrshire, and flows in a winding course into Wigton bay; it abounds with salmon, trout, and sperlings, and is navigable for nearly two miles from its mouth. The other streams in the parish are the Malzie and the Mildriggen; the former joins the Bladenoch soon after that river enters the parish, on the west, and the latter flows north-eastward through the grounds of Barnbarroch and Baldoon park, into the Bladenoch near its influx into the bay. At the south-western extremity of the parish is the lake of Dowalton, or Longcastle, a sheet of water about two miles in length and a mile and a half in breadth, of which the larger portion is in the parish of Sorby. Pike and perch are found in this lake; and on the Kirkinner side, at a small distance from the shore, are two small islands, one of which is thirty acres in extent. There are numerous springs of excellent water in various parts of the parish, and also some of which the water is strongly impregnated with iron; the principal of these is on the lands of Barnbarroch, and was formerly much rosorted to by invalids.The most prevailing soil is of a gravelly nature; on the low lands of Baldoon are some large alluvial tracts. In other parts are patches of moss; but the lands generally have been greatly enriched by the use of shellmarl for manure, of which abundant supplies are obtained from the shores of the bay. The crops are, oats, wheat, barley, potatoes, and turnips, with the various grasses; the system of husbandry is in an improved state, and a due rotation of crops is carefully observed. The lands have been drained, and inclosed partly with fences of thorn and partly with dykes of stone; the farm-houses and offices are substantial and well-arranged, and many of them of superior order. The cattle reared are usually of the Galloway breed, and great attention is paid to their improvement; large numbers are annually fattened for the Liverpool market, and shipped at Wigton. Few sheep are bred; but many of the Highland kind, purchased at the Falkirk tryst, are fed on turnips during the winter and spring, and afterwards sent to Whitehaven and Liverpool, where they find a ready sale. The plantations, which are mostly of modern growth, consist of firs, interspersed with various sorts of forest trees, for which the soil is well adapted; they are under careful management, and in a thriving state, especially the beech, ash, plane, and Huntingdon willow, of which many have attained a luxuriant growth. The prevaling rocks are of the transition kind, and boulders of granite are found in some places; but stone of good quality for building is very scarce, and there are not any mines or quarries. The rateable annual value of Kirkinner is £10,997. Barnbarroch House, the seat of the Agnew family, is a stately modern mansion, situated nearly in the centre of the parish, in an extensive and richly-planted demesne. The village is on the road that leads to Wigton; a few of the inhabitants are employed in weaving linen by hand-looms at their own dwellings. A post-office has been established here, and has a daily delivery; and facility of communication is maintained by good roads, which intersect the parish, and by bridges over the various streams, of which that across the river Bladenoch is a substantial structure. At Baldoon is a small harbour, for the accommodation of vessels bringing supplies of coal and other articles required in the district, and for the shipment of grain, cattle, and other agricultural produce.The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Wigton and synod of Galloway. The minister's stipend is £230, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £20 per annum, patrons, the Agnew family. The church, erected in 1828, is a handsome and substantial structure containing 800 sittings, and is situated at a small distance to the east of the village. The parochial school is well conducted, and attended by about 100 children; the master has a salary of £34, with a house and garden, and the fees average £30 per annum. The school-house is a spacious building near the church, and contains a small library for the use of the scholars. At Cairnfield was a Druidical circle, of which the stones have long been removed; and in a cairn near the site, which has also been taken down and the stones used for building fences, were found, inclosed in a coffin of rudely-formed slabs, human bones partly consumed by fire. There are vestiges of two circular camps, of which the history is unknown; and not far from Loch Dowalton are some remains of the ancient church of Longcastle. Numerous ancient coins have been found at different times on the farm of Barness. Of the family of Vaux, formerly proprietors of Barnbarroch, Alexander was consecrated Bishop of Galloway in 1426, and in 1429 was appointed by James I. one of the conservators of peace on the Scottish borders; his cousin, George Vaux, was bishop of Galloway in the reign of James III. Sir Patrick Vaux, the last distinguished member of the family, was made a lord of session by James VI., and was subsequently sent by that monarch as ambassador to the court of Denmark.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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