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"SANQUHAR, a parish and royal borough, having separate jurisdiction, but locally situated in the district of Nithsdale, county Dumfries, Scotland. It contains, besides the borough of its own name, the villages of Crawickmill, Crawickbridge, Windyedge, and Wanlockhead. It extends in length about 18 miles from N.E. to S.W., with an extreme breadth of about 9 miles, and is bounded by the parishes of Kirkconnel, Durisdeer, and Penpont, and by the counties of Ayr and Lanark. The surface is of a hilly and rugged nature, especially that lofty tract which is known by the name of the Lowthers, or Lothiers, rising with gradual slope from the S. to the elevation of 3,130 feet, and at Blacklarg Hill to 2,890 feet. These hills, though bleak and barren in the exterior, are rich in mineral wealth, and are pastured by vast flocks of sheep. In a S.W. direction the Vale of Nith crosses the parish, dividing it almost into two equal portions, and is subject to inundations. In other parts the parish is watered by the Euchan, Crawick, and several other trout streams. The land in the river valleys is tolerably early and productive, but along the foot of the hills the soil is partly moss and partly clay, affording only a scanty crop. Sanquhar is the principal coal mart in this part of the country, and large quantities are supplied to Dumfries and other towns. The coalfield, which extends into the adjoining parish of Kirkconnel, is 7 miles in length by 2½ in breadth, and the veins are from 3 to 4 feet 6 inches in thickness. At the eastern extremity of the parish, about 9 miles from the town of Sanquhar, are the lead mines of Wanlockhead. The parish is traversed along the vale of the Nith by the road from Glasgow to Dumfries, as also by the Glasgow and South-Western railway. The town of Sanquhar is about 13 miles NW. of Thornhill, and 56 S.W. of Edinburgh, and is a station on the Glasgow and South-Western railway. It is situated on the river Nith, and was created into a burgh of barony in 1484, and assumed the dignity of a royal burgh by charter from James VI. in 1596. Its government is invested in a provost, three bailies, a dean of guild, treasurer, and eleven councillors, It is contributory to Dumfries in returning one member to parliament. The town consists principally of one long street, irregularly built. The townhall, which stands at the end of the street, has a tower and clock. It was erected at the expense of the last Duke of Queensberry, by whom a considerable sum has been expended on the improvement of the town. There are two banks, one a branch of the British Linen Company, and one of the Western Bank of Scotland; also a savings-bank and a mechanics' institute. It has long been famous for its woollen manufactures, and from the looms in the town 20,000 yards of tartan cloth are produced annually. There are also many persons employed in cotton weaving and in embroidering muslins for the Glasgow manufacturers. In the town is an extensive spade and shovel manufactory; and at the village of Crawickmill, about half a mile N.W. of the town, is an extensive carpet manufactory employing many hands. On a steep declivity overlooking the river Nith, and at a short distance from the town, are the ruins of Sanquhar Castle, once a quadrangular building of immense strength, with towers at the angles. It was formerly surrounded by a moat, over which was a drawbridge, and was occupied by the Bosses and Crichtons, who were heritable sheriffs of Niths-Dale, but was purchased by the Douglases of Drumlanrig in 1630, in which great family the castle and barony still remain, being the property of the Dukes of Queensberry. A moat-hill, with the ruins of a hospital, is to be seen near the castle. The hills, which are partly green, and partly covered with heath, are productive of grouse and other game. The parish is in the presbytery of Penpont and synod of Dumfries. The parish church, which has a square tower, was rebuilt on the site of an ancient structure at the end of the main street. At a remote period Sanquhar was a rectory, and in the 15th century was created a prebend in the cathedral church of Glasgow. There are two United Presbyterian churches, a Free church, Reformed Presbyterian church, and a chapel for the Baptists. At Wanlockhead is a Free church; also a chapel of the Established Church, recently erected, and endowed at the expense of the Duke of Buccleuch. There are a parochial and five other schools. About a mile from the castle is Elliock House, where the Admirable Crichton was born. Fairs are held on the first Mondays in October and November, old style."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]



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