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As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Covenanters and Capitalists to Galloway Levellers

This is an essay I wrote back in April 2007. It uses a 'family history' and 'farm ownership history' to give some detailed background to my Galloway Levellers research.

Covenanters and Capitalists in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright 1660 - 1720

When William Cobbett, the great radical enthusiast of rural England, came north in 1830 to inspect Lothian husbandry he was struck by the glaring contrast between life on these ‘factories for making corn and meat carried on principally by means of horses and machinery’ as he called them and life on the farms of the South of England which he knew best: farming in eastern Scotland was often technically more sophisticated ; the plight of the workers was to his eyes even more miserable; and no one, least of all the workers themselves, was making any sustained protest about their lot. He had left the southern English counties in that year smouldering on the edge of social war, with ricks being burnt, new machinery destroyed, men transported and in a few cases executed for their part in the destruction of property…Cobbett came north to find out why the Scots were quiet while the English burnt the ricks.
[Smout: 1969]

Yet, as Smout goes on to explain, a hundred years before the ‘Captain Swing’ rural revolts which broke out across southern England in the summer of 1830( and which Cobbett himself was accused of helping to inspire :Hobsbawm and Rude:1968: 88 ) there had been a similar outbreak of rural violence in Scotland. This was the Galloway Levellers Uprising of 1724.

But why did the Levellers revolt happen , as it were, ‘in the wrong place and at the wrong time’? At the risk of generalising , the economy, agriculture and society of south-east Scotland is usually considered to have been in advance of that of south -west Scotland and to have been so since the 12th century conflicts between David I of Scotland and Fergus of Galloway. [ Oram: 2000, Bartlett: 1993, Marsden: 2000]. In the 17th century, the south-west is most strongly associated with resistance by the latter -day ‘Covenanters’ and Cameronians to the imposition of Episcopalianism. Unfortunately, in the absence of any detailed study of the 17th century society and economy of the region equivalent to Oram’s study of the medieval Lordship of Galloway, this association of the south-west with religious fundamentalism has tended to reinforce the image of the region as ‘under-developed’. Or as Davidson [2003: 216] puts it “The Gallwegian economy was largely geared towards cattle rearing and in that respect was closer to the economy of the Western Highlands than to that of Aberdeenshire or Midlothian”.

As Woodward [1976] suggests, cattle rearing was an important part of the late 17th century Gallwegian economy, but despite Davidson, it was only part of the region’s economy. Had it been ‘largely geared towards cattle rearing’, it is unlikely that the Galloway Levellers Uprising of 1724 would have occurred. However, before this argument can be pursued, it is first necessary to build up a background picture of the Gallwegian society and economy as it was prior to 1724.

[Note: there should be a table here, but had a formatting problem]

Parish :
1 - 4 upland
5 - 11 lowland Area - Square. Miles Estimated 1690 population density per sq. mile:
Hearth Tax Estimated 1755
population density per sq. mile:
Webster 1801 Census
Population density
per. sq. mile
1.Minnigaff 127 9 10 13
2. Carsphairn 88 4 7 6
3. Dalry 75 9 12 11
4. Kells 74 13 11 11

5. Rerrick 34 26 31 34
6. K‘patrick D’ham 27 22 25 37
7. Borgue 25 20 28 33
8. Kirkcudbright 24 56 (+. town) 61 (+ town) 99 (+ town)
9. Urr 23 21 52 75 (+ new town)
10. Kelton 16 26 51 119 (+ new town)
11. Buittle 15 29 60 58
For all 28 parishes 877 18
16 000 total pop. 24
21 205 total pop. 33
29 211 total pop.

The table above shows the difference in population density between the upland and lowland zones of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. Prior to 1450, land ownership in the Stewartry was concentrated in the hands of the Douglas Lordship of Galloway and the Church. In 1456, the Douglas lands were forfeit to the Scottish. During the later 15th century the Crown lands were fued out, fragmenting landownership. In the 16th century, Church lands underwent a similar process of fragmentation of ownership. As a result, the Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court Deeds reveal over 1000 individuals claiming ownership of land (I.e. farms) for the period 1660 to 1700. This fragmentation of landownership is confirmed by McKerlie[1878] in his five volume study of ‘Lands and their Owners in Galloway’. However, as McKerlie frequently complains, establishing who actually owned (rather than claimed to own) a particular farm or estate in the 17th century is difficult due to a combination of wadsets (mortgages) and forfeitures. However, a detailed analyse of landownership based on McKerlie and other local sources such as the Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court Deeds is beyond the scope of this essay. Therefore the following case studies - of a pastoral (cattle and sheep) upland farm, an arable ( oats and barley) lowland farm and of a Galloway ‘capitalist’ with covenanting links - will be used to provide some insight into the local economy and society between 1660 and 1720.

Case Study 1. Drumbuie NX 567 820 Kells parish

This is a farm in the upland zone. The steading is at 170m (560ft) and the farm includes Drumbuie Hill 316m (1043ft) and Rig of Drumbuie 266m (878ft). Both Drumbuie Hill and Rig of Dumbuie are now enclosed by drystane dykes. To the north (Forrest Estate, owned by the Norwegian Olsen family) and south (Galloway Forest Park owned by the Forestry Commission) are extensive areas of forestry, but Drumbuie itself lies in a corridor of open land which runs from Glenlee on the river Ken up to the Rhinns of Kells range which runs from Loch Dee to Loch Doon.

Drumbuie was recorded in 1456 as ’Drumboy’ in the list of land forfeit to the Crown by the 9th Earl of Douglas. McKerlie [1877] refers to Drumbuie as being part of the lands of Barskeoch NX 58 82 Barskeoch was also amongst the lands forfeit in 1456. According to McKerlie, Alexander Gordon , the second son of William Gordon of Lochinvar ‘obtained’ Barskeoch in 1505. However by 1646 there were wadsets (mortgages with a conditional right of redemption) on Barskeoch in favour of John Chalmers in April 1646 and James Chalmers in April 1664. From October 1664 Adam Newall of Nether Barskeoch had sasine (legal possession of a feudal property) of Drumbuie. This followed his marriage to Elizabeth Chalmers, James Chalmers’ sister. The Newall family continued in possession of Barskeoch and Drumbuie until 1787 when the farms were sold to William Forbes of Callendar, Linlithgowshire.

Forbes also bought the neighbouring Gararry land holdings. Altogether Forbes purchased 18 farms in Kells parish and these were still owned by the Forbes family in the 1880s when they owned 40 445 acres (164 km sq) of land in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. [Campbell: 1991: 103] Drumbuie is presently part of the 5000 acre (20 km sq) Garroch Glen estate owned by Nick Roper-Caldbeck.

Turning to the Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court Deeds, there are two tacks for Drumbuie, both granted by Adam Newall of Barskeoch [ Entries 1280i and 1938ii]. The first tack is from December 1678 and the second from May 1686. Of particular interest is a unique condition found in slightly different words in both the 1678 and 1686 tacks - that should any of the said Adam’s cattle pasturing in Staiverran the summer and harvest half of the year come home through the ‘rowme’ (I.e. Drumbuie) the tenants promise not to molest them but put them back to the ‘heft’ again. ‘Staiverran’ is Straverron Hill. It is the western shoulder of Meikle Millyea (746m, 2462 ft) on the Rhinns of Kells range and lies 5 km from Drumbuie. The second tack also requires the tenant to provide ‘a man and sheirs to the cliping off Staveran’ implying that sheep were also stocked for their wool.

Unfortunately, apart from one other tack [ Entry 0604i] from 1665 which requires the tenant to herd and give ‘mark and burne of as many grasseing nolt ‘ as are grazing on the Roundfell [NX 532 723, 402 m 1326 ft ] none of the other 320 KSCD tacks provide evidence of farms specialising in cattle. However, in his discussion of Minnigaff parish, McKerlie mentions that Patrick Herron of Kirroughtrie had cattle on six farms in the parish. Patrick Herron was a business partner of Sir David Dunbar, senior, of Baldoon (died 1686) who played a key role in developing the Galloway cattle trade after imports of Irish cattle to England were banned in 1667.

This absence of farms specialising in cattle is puzzling. Both Whyte [1979] and Woodward [1977] draw attention to an abrupt rise in Dumfries customs records of cattle from Galloway en route to England : from 1273 cattle in 1660-61 to 9053 in 1681-82 and 10 500 in 1682-83. Even if some of these cattle had been illegally imported from Ireland - like the 1300 Irish cattle David Dunbar of Baldoon was fined £330 sterling for importing and selling to England in 1669 [Whyte : 1979] - the majority must have come from Galloway. However, apart from mentions of ‘cattle parks‘ near Dundrennan in 1688 and Borgue in 1692 [Entries 1265ii and 1940ii respectively], the Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court Deeds contain no direct evidence for a shift towards cattle farming in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright.

Case Study 2 Gerranton NX 768 651Crossmichael parish

Gerranton is a farm in the lowland zone (at height of 86 m 284 ft ). It is a dairy farm surrounded by other dairy farms. It is owned and farmed by J and I (father and son) Heuchan. McKerlie found little to say about Gerranton. It belonged to John Brown of Mollance in 1613. “Between 1627 and 1698 there are the usual retours to the Lochinvar (Gordon) family, which as we have stated elsewhere, referred in many instances to the superiority only. In July 1668 Thomas Lidderdale of Gerrantoune had sasine, and again in June 1679, styled of St. Mary’s Isle, he had principle of the five merk land of Gerrantoune.” In 1799, Gerranton was part of the Mollance estate owned by William Copeland of Collieston.

However McDowall [1886], drawing on “The register Buik of the Fewis maid by the College Kirk of Linclouden 1547-64 ”is able to provide more details. For the Barony of Crossmichael, the Charter Buik lists 28 farms and a mill owned by Lincluden, and gives details of the tenants and their rents. The details given for Gerraton (Garrantoune) are:

Five merk land paying yearly 16 bolls of meal, 33 shillings 4 pence mail (cash rent) at Whitsunday and Martimas equally and 5 shillings at Lammas. In addition, 12 hens, 20 creels of peat and 3 bolls ‘multure meal’ (payment for milling) were required. There were four tenants : William Broun, John Garrane, Andrew Mackadze and Ninian Garrane.

Over 100 years later, in March 1674 [ Entry 1712i ] John Broun of Mollance gave Alexander Milligan (then in Mains of Greenlaw, also a former Lincluden farm) tack of half of the five merkland of Gerranton from Whitsunday 1674 for payment of 100 merks ( = 33 shillings 4 pence) and two great loads ( = 4 bolls) of farm meal and two great loads of farm beir, reserving the ‘fowls payable out of the cott crofts’ for himself. One of the witnesses was ‘John Geran in Greinthorne’.

However, in 1658, Tomas Lidderdale of Torrs (Kirkcudbright parish) sold ‘for a certain great sum of money’ 20 bolls bear, counting eight pecks to the boll and 41 loads of corn, counting 16 pecks to the load to James Aikine in Rhonehouse ‘furth of the barn and barnyard of Gerrantone, the grain being the crop of this year, 1658’. The price agreed was £5 12 shillings for each boll of bear and load of corn. [ Entry 0052i].

But in 1662, as part of a ‘Contract of Marriage’, John Broun of Mollance promised to infeft his wife in the sum of 300 merks per year out of the lands of Mollance, Dryburgh and Gerranton. [Entry 0954i]. At this time, Thomas Lidderdale, who witnessed the contract, was described as ‘in Gerranton’, I.e. the tenant. By 1668, Thomas is described as ‘of Geranton’, I.e. owner in a disposition. [Entry 0519ii] . In 1686, Thomas describes himself as ‘heritable proprietor’ of Mollance, Gerranton and Dryburgh, which he ‘dispones’ to his eldest lawful son James. [Entry 1079i], although the same document mentions that Thomas is in dispute with John Broun of Mollance over the ownership of the said lands.

In 1698 the dispute appears to have been settled through a ‘Mutual Discharge’ [ Entry 3110ii] between James Lidderdale and John Broun (elder) of Mollance. In 1699, the Brouns are described as ‘of Mollance’ by William Gordon, Viscount of Kenmure, having stood security for a loan of 1000 merks made by John Irving, provost of Dumfries to ‘defray part of the funeral expenses of the deceased Alexander, Viscount of Kenmure’. [Entry 3265ii].

Although at first confusing, this conflict over the ownership of Gerranton, Dryburgh and Mollance can be understood once the religious and political background of the Brouns and Lidderdales is realised. In 1662, John Broun of Mollance married Margret McClellan, eldest lawful sister of Robert McClellan of Barscobe (Balmaclellan parish). In 1666, Robert McClellan of Barscobe helped begin the ‘Pentland Rising’ in Dalry, fought at the battle of Rullion Green, escaped but was condemned to death and had his lands forfeit. McClellan went into hiding , but returned to fight at Bothwell Bridge in 1679. In 1682 he was captured by Claverhouse. Exhausted by 16 years ‘on the run’, McClellan agreed to sign and swear to the Test Act. He was released, only to be murdered for doing so by one William Grierson in 1683.[ Torrrance: 1993]

As the brother-in-law of such a significant ‘rebel’, John Broun of Mollance would have been viewed with extreme suspicion. Any contact (actual or alleged) between himself or his wife with Robert McClellan would have been sufficient to see John forfeit his lands and risk imprisonment or even death. In contrast, Thomas Lidderdale was a Stuart loyalist, who helped Grierson of Lag and Graham of Claverhouse in their pursuit of such ‘rebels’. [ Morton: 1914]. The 1668 ‘Disposition’ [ Entry 0519ii] mentioned above refers to Thomas acquiring St Mary’s Isle (Kirkcudbright) and evicting Dame Anna Maxwell, widow of John (McClellan) Lord Kirkcudbright and William, their son and their tenants from the said lands for ‘wrongful possession’. John, Lord Kirkcudbright, had bankrupted his family through support for the Covenanters in the 1640s and 1650s. [Torrance: 1993].

In which case, the eventual ‘Mutual Discharge’ between James (son of the deceased Thomas) Lidderdale of St. Mary’s Isle and John Broun (elder) of Mollance regarding the lands of Gerranton of March 1698 - which left John Broun in possession - reflects the post - Revolution Settlement (1688/9) situation. However, the Revolution Settlement was not secure. The fact that William, Viscount of Kenmure, had to borrow 1000 merks to help pay for his father’s funeral [ Entry 3265ii, above] is significant. This implies that the Gordons of Kenmure were experiencing financial difficulties. This may have been a factor in William’s support for the local Jacobite Rebellion in 1715 - for which he was executed in 1716. A Jacobite victory in 1715 would have undone the Revolution Settlement and once more advantage Stuart supporters when disputes over landownership arose.

Case Study 3 - Samuel McClellan of Tanifad and Edinburgh

Along with the Gordons and Maxwells, one of the families which benefited from the break-up of the Lordship of Galloway was the McClellan family. However, rather than the lands acquired being passed on complete, they were divided up - Torrance [1993] lists 140 separate estates and farms owned by various McClellans in the Stewartry. A consequence of this fragmentation of landownership was to encourage the younger sons of large families to find careers outside of farming. The case of Samuel McClellan illustrates this move.

In 1599, William McClellan of Balmangan (Borgue parish) sold the Bordland of Cardoness (Anwoth parish) to his son James. James had six children (4 boys and 2 girls). His third son was Patrick, born before 1606, died before 1656. By 1636, Patrick was minister of Girthon parish (which adjoins Anwoth). Patrick had four children of whom Samuel was the eldest. In 1676, Samuel is recorded as owning Tannifad and Whinniehill in Girthon parish. [Torrance: 1993] These must have been very small farms - most likely crofts - and no longer exist. However at NX 60 59 there is a Tanniefad Burn between the existing farms of High and Low Creoch and Tannifad and Whinniehill are shown on Ainslie’s 1797 map of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright.

By 1679, Samuel was in Edinburgh where he was admitted as a burgess and guild - brother having served his apprenticeship with Robert Douglas. In 1681, the Newmills Cloth Manufactory was established at Haddington near Edinburgh. Samuel paid £100 to become a partner in this enterprise. The importance of the Newmills development is discussed at length by Marshall [1980]. Samuel McClellan still had a £75 share in this business in 1707. Although based in Edinburgh, it is clear that Samuel McClellan was able to use his local contacts to help the Newmills development , for example gaining an order in 1690 from Alexander Gordon, Viscount Kenmure , for ‘647 military red coats ‘ worth £614.13.0 sterling. [Note: Kenmure led a regiment against the Jacobites at the battle of Killiecrankie in 1689, but his son William led the local Jacobites in 1715 and was executed in 1716 as a result].

In 1696 Samuel McClellan also personally invested £500 sterling to the ’Company of Scotland trading to Africa and the Indies’ ( Darien Scheme) and invested £3000 on behalf of the City of Edinburgh. In 1697 he was appointed Stewart and Justiciar for Orkney. In October 1706, Sir Samuel, as he now was, became Lord Provost of Edinburgh. He represented the city in the Royal Convention of Burghs and was a supporter of the proposed Union (Torrance speculates that Sir Samuel had a personal interest in the Union since ‘he had already been found guilty of importing English cloth and, no doubt, had imported much more that had gone undetected’). In May 1708, he was chosen to be Edinburgh’s MP in the United Parliament but only held the position for a year, dying in September 1709.

Although Marshall [1980] does not discuss Samuel McClellan’s role in the Newmills Manufactory individually, he does emphasise the importance of its shareholders in the development of capitalism in Scotland. But at the same time that Samuel was engaged in the founding of the Newmills Manufactory, he remained in contact with the south west and with Robert McClellan of Barmagachan (Borgue parish).

In September 1666 after the death of the Reverend Patrick McLellan, Robert McClellan of Barmagachan was appointed ‘tutor‘, or guardian to Samuel’s three sisters. In November 1666, Robert joined the Dalry (‘Pentland’) Rising and fought at Rullion Green. In 1667, along with Robert McClellan of Barscobe (see Case Study 2, above) his life and lands were forfeit. Robert fled to England where he lived for several years, but in June 1679 he was back in Scotland where he fought as a ‘captain’ at the battle of Drumclog and again at Bothwell Brig after which he once more fled to England, In 1681 once more his life and lands were forfeit. In 1684 he was captured and in 1685 he was banished to the plantations in New Jersey, where the prisoners were granted their freedom. Here he bought his own plantation. In 1689 Robert returned to Scotland, but was captured by the French and did not return to Barmagachan until 1691.[Torrance: 1993, Morton: 1914]

The transfer of ownership of Barmagachan to Samuel McClellan in 1680 was an attempt to evade forfeiture. However in 1685, William Maxwell, earl of Nithsdale was given possession (along with other forfeited lands) which he held until 1689.

Finally, in a career which echoed that of Samuel McClellan, Robert, son of Robert McClellan of Barmagachan also became a merchant. Robert (born about 1678) went with his father to New Jersey and returned with him and may have been the Robert McClellan who matriculated from Glasgow University in 1696. With help of his relative Samuel McClellan, who had become Stewart and Justiciar of Orkney in 1697, Robert was appointed Collector of Supply for Orkney in 1702 and then became Chamberlain and Steward Depute of Orkney in 1706. In addition to this official post, Robert invested in shipping, owning a sixteenth part of the Blessing of Burntisland, a ninth part of the Houston Galley of Glasgow and a third share in the Robert of Alloway. Through his links with America, Robert sold shoes to Virginia and imported tobacco. Robert became a prosperous merchant, dying in Glasgow in 1717.

However, unlike Samuel McClellan, Robert used his wealth to buy up land in Galloway. By 1716, he owned 44 farms and crofts in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. Unfortunately Robert left no heirs and his brother Samuel inherited. Samuel was not such a good businessman as his brother and by the time of his death in 1727 was effectively bankrupt. His creditors then sold off the lands his brother had acquired. [Torrance :1993]


As the Drumbuie case study shows, cattle farming was an important part of the agricultural economy of the Gallwegian upland zone in the 17th century. However, although this upland zone was extensive (see table above), its economy and population were marginal rather than central to the economy and society of the Stewartry. The Drumbuie case study does not support Davidson’s claim [2003:216] that ‘the Gallwegian economy was largely geared up towards cattle rearing‘.

Rather than being dominated by the pastoral economy of upland farms like Drumbuie, the local agricultural economy (reflected in the population statistics -see table above) was in fact focused on lowland arable farming. Thus Gerranton rather than Drumbuie is more representative of the local agricultural economy. The Gerranton case study also shows that although the physical conflicts of the period 1666 to 1688 and the associated conventicles may have taken place in the upland zone, Stuart loyalists like Thomas Lidderdale were able to manipulate the legal process to gain possession of farms in the more fertile (and profitable) lowland zone.

The third case study is perhaps the most interesting, since it shows very direct connections can be made between ‘covenanters and capitalists’. Between ‘proto-capitalist’ merchants and members of the late 17th early 18th century Scottish establishment like Samuel and Robert McClellan of Edinburgh and Glasgow respectively and their Covenanting kin. Even within the region, members of the merchant class were politically influential and used the profits from their trading activities to buy land.

William Craik for example was a Dumfries based merchant. Described as a ’moderate presbyterian’ Craik was chief magistrate of Dumfries between 1674 and 1678, becoming provost in 1679. However his toleration of ‘rebels’ was condemned by Claverhouse and Craik was denied public office until the 27 th December 1688 when he was elected the first post-Revolution provost of Dumfries. Craik bought two estates in the Stewartry - at Arbigland (Kirkbean parish) and at Duchrae (Balmaghie parish).

Craik’s son-in-law, Robert Johnston, was his business partner. Johnston was several times provost of Dumfries between 1693 and 1702, represented the burgh in the ’Union’ parliament and the Convention of Royal Burghs and invested £500 in the Company of Scotland Trading with Africa and the Indies. In 1706 Johnston bought the Kelton (now Threave) estate in the Stewartry from William Maxwell, earl of Nithsdale. Johnston’s dykes at Kelton were not levelled in 1724.

Johnston was able to save his dykes by promising the Levellers that none of his tenants faced eviction. In contrast, the dykes of Lady Kenmure and Sir Basil Hamilton, who had evicted many of their tenants, were levelled. But why did Lady Kenmure and Basil Hamilton need to evict so many (up to sixty families) of their tenants? The immediate factor was that both needed to clear their tenants from arable farms in the lowland zone to make way for large cattle enclosures. Such large cattle enclosures were not an innovation in 1724. Hamilton’s great-grandfather, David Dunbar (senior) of Baldoon had constructed one in the 1670s. However, after Dunbar’s death in 1686, it was his former business partner Patrick Heron (and his son, also Patrick) who became the main regional cattle trader in the later 1680s and 1690s [Woodward: 1977:156].

Lord Basil Hamilton, who inherited the Dunbar estates, had other interests. He invested £3000 (the maximum possible) in the Company of Scotland and played a very active role in its promotion and management. [Watt: 2007]Unfortunately for the family fortunes, he died aged 29 in 1702, leaving his wife to manage an estate burdened with debt. Although established much longer as landowners, the Gordons of Kenmure were even less prosperous (see case study 2 , above). This may explain why both Viscount Kenmure and Sir Basil Hamilton joined the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715. A Jacobite victory would have helped both families financially, giving them access to lands forfeit by supporters of George I (for example, those of Robert Johnston of Kelton who helped raise an anti-Jacobite militia in 1715 and whose feudal superior was William Maxwell, earl of Nithsdale - also a Jacobite in 1715).

The gamble failed. Kenmure was executed and Hamilton only escaped execution through his family connections to the Duke of Hamilton. Their respective estates were forfeit, although Lady Kenmure and Lady Mary Dunbar (Basil’s mother) retained effective ownership. [Morton: 1936, McKennzie: 1844]

As Sir Basil Hamilton was later to complain to the Marquis of Annandale, the Galloway Levellers had many sympathisers in the Stewartry. One may have been Colonel William Maxwell, the magistrate who presided when Hamilton pursued several Levellers for damages in January 1725. Maxwell was the son of a presbyterian minister, joined William of Orange’s army in Holland in 1688, fought against the Jacobites at Killiecrankie and organised the defences of Glasgow and Edinburgh in 1715. He is unlikely to have had much sympathy for a Jacobite like Hamilton.

Further research is needed, but the social, economic and political pattern which is emerging is that of a remarkably resilient region which very quickly recovered from the 1660- 1688 anti-Stuart struggle. The agricultural economy was highly integrated, with arable farms in the lowland zone producing a surplus of grain which allowed pastoral farms in the upland zone to specialise in sheep and cattle farming. The cattle could be fattened in the lowland ‘parks’ before being exported to England. The sheep produced wool which was woven into cloth in the lowland zone, which, along with linen, was then sold by the several ‘merchants trading in England‘, Ireland and even Wales who figure in the Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court Deeds. As well as the 1000 (approximately) ‘owner-occupying’ farmers, the Deeds list 56 different occupations. The law, religion and education - ‘writers and notaries ‘ (118), ministers (79) and schoolmasters ( 61) are the most frequently recorded occupations - reflecting the semi-legal status of the Deeds. However the next most frequently recorded occupations reveal more about the local economy :

Smith - 60
Tailor - 54
Miller - 49
Weaver - 41
Shoemaker - 33
Wright - 30
Dyster - 28
Glover - 20
Sailor - 19
Chapman- 13
Flesher- 13

The remaining 42 recorded occupations, which range from gardener (9) to procurator fiscal (2), have 10 or fewer entries. An occupation which was not recorded in the 17th century was that of clock and watchmaker. John Martin (1710- 1801) was the son of a cottar in Kelton parish. In 1724, he stole his father’s flail and joined the Levellers, later arming himself with a gun - for possession of which he was fined £100 sterling in 1725. Despite this involvement with the Levellers, John Martin successfully made the transition from cottar to skilled mechanic, ending his life as a clock and watch maker in Kirkcudbright.

From covenanters who became capitalists and cottars who became clockmakers, through the 17th and into the 18th the south west was not a reactionary region resisting progress, rather it was a revolutionary society of self- improvers.

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Anonymous Cutty Sarc (Tommy McClellan) said...

I happened upon this while doing some idle family research. Many thanks for the meticulously researched, clear, concise and vivid information bringing alive many aspects of a broad sweep of Gallowegian and Scottish economic and social history.

4:32 pm  

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