- ERSKINE, a parish, in the Upper ward of the county of Renfrew, 10 miles (N. N. W.) from Glasgow; containing, with the village of Bishopton, 1407 inhabitants. This place, of which the name is of uncertain origin, is of considerable antiquity: according to most historians, the lands were conferred upon the founder of the Erskine family by Malcolm II., in reward of his valour at the battle of Murthill, in which he slew with his own hand Enrique, one of the Danish generals, whose head he presented to that sovereign after the victory. The parish is beautifully situated on the river Clyde, and extends along its south bank for nearly eight and a half miles, increasing in breadth from the western, where it is less than two miles, to the eastern, extremity, where it is more than three miles broad. It is bounded on the east by the parish of Inchinuan, on the south by that of Houston and Killallan, and on the west by the parish of Kilmalcolm. The surface, though level near the shore, rises rapidly towards the south; and the higher grounds command diversified prospects over the Frith of Clyde and the opposite coast of Dumbartonshire, embracing the castle of Dumbarton; on the west of the parish, appear Port-Glasgow and Greenock, and on the east, the park and pleasure-grounds of Erskine House, the splendid seat of Lord Blantyre. The more distant view of Dumbartonshire abounds with objects of romantic beauty and interesting character; the vale of Leven is interspersed with numerous elegant villas, and further off are seen, in clear weather, the waters of Loch Lomond, and the lofty mountain of Ben-Lomond. The river Clyde, near Erskine House, retains its original character, and its banks are conspicuous for picturesque scenery; it is crossed by two ferries within the limits of the parish. Erskine ferry, which communicates with the village of Old Kilpatrick, is under good management, and has an excellent inn, much frequented by parties of pleasure from Glasgow. The Western ferry, about six miles from the former, connects the parish with Dumbarton: it was lately proposed to place it under the direction of the Glasgow and Greenock Railway Company, and to erect commodious quays, and establish a communication by means of a steam-boat with the opposite coast; but these measures have not been carried into effect, and the ferry still remains in the hands of Lord Blantyre, the former proprietor.The whole number of acres is 7109, of which 5123 are arable, 554 woodland and plantations, 800 meadow and pasture, and the remainder moss and waste. The soil is various, but in general light; in the northeastern portion, a dark grey mould mixed with gravel; and in other places, clay alternated with sand. The crops are, oats, barley, wheat, potatoes, and turnips, with the usual grasses; the rotation system of husbandry is prevalent, and much improvement in agriculture has been effected under the auspices of Lord Blantyre. Tile-draining has been extensively introduced, and works for the making of tiles, for which clay of excellent quality is found, have been established on their respective lands by Lord Blantyre and Mr. Rodger; the farm-houses are generally substantial and commodious, and most of the lands are inclosed either with fences of hawthorn, or with walls of stone. The dairyfarms are well managed: the cows are principally the Ayrshire, with some few of a mixed breed between the Ayrshire and Guernsey; the average number on the several farms is about 350, and 450 young cows and black-cattle are pastured on the hills. Few horses are kept except for agricultural use, and these are usually of the Clydesdale breed. The rateable annual value of the parish is £8182. The plantations are larch, and Scotch, spruce, and silver firs; and the prevailing woods, oak, elm, beech, ash, walnut, sycamore, and horse-chesnut, of which there are some fine trees. The substratum is partly gravel, mixed with clay, and interspersed with large boulders of greywacke and granite; in the southeastern part of the parish, carboniferous rock; and towards the western extremity, the hills are wholly of trap rock of porphyritic quality, containing crystals of felspar, with amygdaloids of calcareous spar. On the West ferry hill, while cutting through it for the formation of the Glasgow and Greenock railway, the workmen discovered some fine basaltic columns; zeolites have been found in the trap rocks; and in the Bishopton ridge is a new mineral, called "Greenockite" in honour of Lord Greenock, who discovered it, and which has, on analysis, proved to be a protosulphate of cadmium. There are two quarries of freestone on the lands of Lord Blantyre, from which were taken materials for the erection of the church, the mansion-house of Erskine, and other buildings; there is a similar quarry on the lands of Mr. Rodger, and in several parts of the parish whinstone is wrought for the roads.Erskine House, beautifully situated on a terrace overlooking the Clyde, was erected by the late Lord Blantyre from a design by Sir Robert Smirke, of London; it is a fine structure in the Elizabethan style of architecture, ornamented with richly-crocketed pinnacles, and forming an imposing and highly interesting feature in the scenery of the coast. The principal building is 185 feet in length, comprising a splendid suite of state apartments, a picture gallery 118 feet in length, and a stately vestibule and hall; the interior is adorned with numerous oriel windows of elegant design, and the internal decorations are costly and magnificent. The demesne is richly wooded, and embellished with flourishing plantations; the pleasure-grounds are tastefully laid out, and contain an obelisk erected by the gentry of Renfrewshire as a tribute of respect to the memory of the late Lord Blantyre, lord lieutenant of the county, and major-general in the British army, who was accidentally shot during the revolution at Brussels in 1830. Drums is a handsome residence, pleasantly situated. Finlaystone is a modern mansion, built on the site of the ancient castle, the seat of the earls of Glencairn, where, for the first time after the Reformation, the sacrament of the Lord's Supper was administered by the celebrated John Knox. The vessels used on that occasion were carefully preserved by the family, and lent to the parish church of Kilmalcolm; they are supposed to have been removed from Finlaystone by the last Lady Glencairn, who took them with her to England. Dargavel is an ancient mansion in that style of French architecture introduced into Scotland by Mary, Queen of Scots; it is a castellated structure, of which the lower story has a groined roof, and it is flanked with towers in which are loop-holes for the discharge of musketry.The population is agricultural; but some of the females are employed in the spinning of fine yarn for the manufacture of thread, first introduced into Scotland by Miss Shaw, of Bargarran, who, by repeated efforts, succeeded in producing an article of superior quality, which, being carried by Lady Blantyre to Bath, was eagerly purchased by the lace manufacturers of that neighbourhood, and, under the name of Bargarran thread, obtained a high price. The making of this thread is carried on extensively in Paisley, and affords employment to numbers of the female population of the district. A post-office has been established at Bishopton, and facility of intercourse with the neighbouring towns is afforded by the road and railway from Glasgow to Greenock, which pass through the parish, and by good roads kept in repair by statute labour: boats, also, from Glasgow to Greenock touch almost every hour at Erskine ferry. There are some fisheries on the Clyde, but they are quite unimportant; the few salmon taken here are generally sent to Glasgow. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Greenock and synod of Glasgow and Ayr; the minister's stipend is £279, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £9. 12. 9. per annum: patron, Lord Blantyre. The church, having become ruinous, was taken down in 1813, and a new church erected near its site, on ground given by Lord Blantyre; it is a neat structure in the Elizabethan style of architecture, containing 500 sittings. There is likewise a place of worship for members of the Free Church. A parochial library, containing about 400 volumes, is supported by subscription. The parochial school, for which a handsome and spacious building has been recently erected, is well attended; the master has a salary of £30, with a good house, and the fees average £30 per annum. There is also a subscription school, lately rebuilt. A friendly society until recently contributed greatly to the diminution of pauperism, and a savings' bank was likewise in operation, in which there were deposits to a moderate amount.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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Erskine — m Scottish, Irish, and English: from the Scottish surname, which derives from the name of a place near Glasgow. The surname has also been taken to Ireland by Scottish settlers, and was first brought to public attention as a given name by the half … First names dictionary
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