The Highland and Agriculture Society of Scotland published an article by Thomas Maclelland of Kirkinner, Wigtownshire in 1875 on the state of agriculture in Galloway. Section 5, A sketch of the early state of agriculture in Kirkcudbright and Wigtown, depicts the times from the seventeenth to nineteenth century.
These paragraphs record the effect the Napoleonic conflict had on the region. "The first impetus the agriculture of the two counties received was consequent on the high prices of grain during the French war. Gold or silver had always hitherto been a scarce commodity in Galloway. No transaction of buying or selling was ever settled in cash. Bills or promissory notes were given and taken for the smallest, as well as for the largest amount. Tradesmen's accounts, and even servants' wages, were paid in the same manner. When the excitement of the French war brought prices double of what had ever been heard of, and gold found its way into the district, the farming interest began to flourish. New steadings with thrashing mills were erected, strong and substantial fences were put up, and improvements on all sides became visible. The rent of land received an extraordinary advance, and at the set of the Baldoon estate in 1806, just before purchased by the Earl of Galloway, such was the excitement, and the eagerness to possess land, that the auctioneer had to restrain his bidders with the caution, "Remember, gentlemen, you are not purchasing the land, you are only leasing it". But, alas! the high built hopes that these prices would always remain were suddenly dashed to the ground; for on the cessation of the war in 1815, the low prices which followed drained the farmers' pockets, of most, if not of all their capital, leaving them completely in the power of their landlords, who in some instances, at least, did not push their advantage to the utmost. A period of great depression in agriculture ensued, and for twenty years neither landlords nor tenants were possessed of ability or spirit to prosecute much improvement."
The Union of the crowns in 1603 marked the end of the the reiving times. The reiving times was the conflict that raged between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries on the border between Scotland and England. A book, The Steel Bonnets, provides a history of the reiving times. See also Tom Moss Deadlock and Deliverance
A History of Dumfries and Galloway by Herbert Maxwell provides a history of the region as it relates to Scottish history from A.D. 79 to about 1750. Read some brief excerpts. "...It has been stated above the activity of the Legislature in proceeding against witches was not manifested in Dumfrieshire and Galloway until a latter period than in the rest of Scotland. From 1656 onwards, however, this devilish business was pressed with diligence by some of the church courts....
....The record is not so black in Wigtownshire. There is indeed, no evidence of any witches having been put to death in that county...."
The Covenanters in Arms -- "...The smouldering fires, kindled by the creation of Episcopacy and the imposition of a liturgy, now broke forth. The General Assembly, in defiance of a writ of disolution issued by Hamilton, continued to sit at Glasgow, and on November 21, 1638...
...Preparations for war were begun as soon as the Assembly adjourned. Although the great territorial influences of the Maxwells was on the side of the king and bishops, the mass of the people in the south-west and many of the baronage had signed the Covenant, and were ready to fight for it...."
One of the greatest transportation changes of the nineteenth century, the railroad, came to the county in 1859. There had been a railroad between Glasgow and Dumfries since 1850. The first line that that was opened was the section between Dumfries and CastleDouglas in 1859. Soon after the railroad was extended from CastleDouglas to Portpatrick in Wigtownshire. A branch of the line was opened from CastleDouglas to Kirkcudbright in 1864. Articles appearing in county newspapers of 1909 marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Dumfries-Dalbeattie-Castle Douglas railway. The articles relate accounts of the impact the railway has had, how it was received by the people, and the celebration that took place in 1859.
The site, Museums and Galleries, provides a look at various aspects of Dumfries & Galloway over the centuries. The link, Local economy within the the section History of Dumfries records the following. "Dumfries was, and indeed still is, the most important market town for South-West Scotland and as such has always serviced the surrounding countryside. Cattle have long been an important industry and ancillary industries used to be significant in Dumfries; tanning, leatherworking, shoe making, clogmaking and saddlery to mention a few. The agricultural improvements of the 18th century brought about increased yields from cultivated land and considerable areas were given over to the cultivation of oats, barley and wheat. The ancillary industries for these are brewing, distilling and milling."
"Galloway cattle together with beasts imported from Ireland were driven south to English markets in vast herds, often as many as 30,000 a year. Towns such as Stranraer, New Galloway, Kirkcudbright and Dumfries served as collecting points on the droving routes, which ran the length of Galloway from Portpatrick to Carlisle. One of the favourite crossing points which saved a detour of miles was from Dornock across the Solway and there is a pub on the English side at Monkhill near Burgh by Sands called the Drovers Rest. One of the places on the distance marker affixed to the Midsteeple is Huntingdon, in the last century one of the most important of the English cattle markets. Droving was killed off by development of steam shipping but meat export continued to be important."
Take a look at photographs of churches and churchyards in Dumfries and Galloway many of which are from Kirkcudbrightshire.