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

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Crossmichael parish 1684 and 1557

Crossmichael area from https://maps.nls.uk/atlas/blaeu/browse/114

This is a work in progress. I have found several 'parish lists' in the Register of the Privy Council (Scotland) Third Series Volume 9 compiled in 1684. Thirteen are from the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. A similar set of lists for 1684 covers all of Wigtownshire plus Minnigaff in the Stewartry.

The lists are very useful since they give the information by residence, that is by the farms the people lived on. The format is 'name of farm, names of people living on farm over the age of 12'. For Wigtownshire that is 650 farms. The residents of towns are also included, but there were only three -Wigtown, Whithorn and Stranraer - in Wigtownshire, and one and half -Kirkcudbright and Minigaff village- in the Stewartry.

I have started with Crossmichael parish because there is a list of the farms in the parish compiled in 1557 -a rental roll- for Lincluden Collegiate Church which owned the parish before the Reformation of 1560. In addition, from the Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court Deeds 1623-1700 there is evidence of a dispute over the ownership of one of the farms- Gerranton- which highlights the complexities of the Covenanting period (1660-1688) in Galloway. The Dalry Uprising of 1666 was a probable factor in the dispute, which was not resolved until 1698.

The information here should be useful for two Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership. One is a place names project, the other is a Dalry/ Covenanters project.

Nine of the farms listed contain the Gaelic place name element 'earann' -a share or a portion, as 'iron' or 'erne'. However, this must have been carried over into Scots since there are farms called Blackerne, Halferne and Chapelerne in the parish as well as Ernfillan, Ernminzie and Ernambrie.

There are other 'earann' farms in Balmaclellan and Parton parishes which are also part of the Galloway Glens place name study area, but the cluster in Crossmichael is the largest.

The Covenanter project is focused on Dalry area. The Crossmichael connection might not fit into that project. However, I have included it below anyway.

Grid reference - farm name - number residents - current name ---- 1557 Lincluden Rental Roll name

1 NX 729 677  Airds - 9 - Airds ---- The Ardis

2 NX 728 694 Blarenny - 2 - Blairinnie ---- Blaryuny

3 NX 752 709 Glengappoch - 10 - Glengappock (Glenroan farm) ---- Glengopok

4 NX 759 697 Auchendolly - 7 - Auchendolly farm  ---- Auchyndoly

5 NX 762 692  Trudall - 6 - Trowdale ---- Trodale

6  NX 768 680 Luriniane - 4 - Largneane (now Auchindolly House) ---- Largneane

7 NX 771 672 Chapelerne - 14 - Chapelerne ---- Chapelerne

8 NX 782 666 Muckle Dryburgh - 6 - Dryburgh ----- Mekle Dryburgh (also Little Dryburgh)

9 NX 785 644 Blackerne - 13 - Blackerne ---- Blaikerne

10 NX 768 643  Hilletoune -12 - Hillowton ----  Hillyntoun (Hillows tenants in 1557 and 1684))

11  NX 766 660 Clachbraine - 4 - Clarebrand ---- Clairbrand

12 NX 751  665  Ironamry Murray - 6 - Meikle Ernambrie ----Ernalaury (Murray tenant of half )

13 NX  760 659 Ironamry Wilson - 3 - Little Ernambrie  ----- Ernalaury (Wilson tenant of half )

14 NX 752 656  Ironphillan - 8 - Ernfillan (no farm)  ------- Ernefillane

15 NX  750 637  Kilnotrie - 7 - Kilnotrie ------- Culnotry

16 NX  742 681 Ironcroga - 18 - Ernecrogo ----- Erncrago

17 NX 737 667  Kilgruffe - 13 - Culgruff ----- Culcruffe

18 NX 730 663 Kirkland - 14 - Manse  ---- no entry, pre -Reformation

19 NX  741 660 Crofts - 11- Crofts ------ The Crofftis

20 NX  757 649 Ironminnie - 8 - Erneminzie ------- Ernemyne

21 NX 775 636 Ironaspy - 10 - Ernespie ----- Quesby

22 NX  760 640  Chapmantown - 5 - Chapmanton ------ Chepmantoune

23 NX 757 627 Suffolk - 7 - Fuffock (Kilmichael, house) -Ffuffok

24 NX 740 635 Mains of Greenlaw and Park - 25 - Mains of Greenlaw- The Manis of Greenlaw

25 NX  779 659 Molence- 8 - Mollance ------ Mollance

26 NX 777 651 Gerringtoune - 7 - Gerranton ------ Garrantoune (John and Ninian Garrane tenants)

27 NX 773 668 Ironannatie - 2 - Ernanity (no farm, no surviving place name)  ----- Ernannydy

28 NX  752  659  not recorded 1684 - Blackpark ----------- Blak Park

29  NX 788 659 not recorded 1684 - Dunjarg----------- Drumjarg

30 NX 739 675 not recorded 1684  - Crossmichael mill ----- Myln of Crossmichael

Case Study Gerranton NX 768 651 Crossmichael 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 in his ' History of the Lands and their Owners in Galloway ' found little to say about Gerranton.

McKerlie says 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 in 1557, 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 [Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court Deeds 1623-1674 Entry 1712 ] 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 Scots for each boll of bear and load of corn. [KSCD Entry 0052].

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. [KSCD 1623- 1674 Entry 0954]. 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. [KSCD 1623-1674 Entry 0519] .

In 1668, Thomas describes himself as ‘heritable proprietor’ of Mollance, Gerranton and Dryburgh, which he ‘dispones’ to he is eldest lawful son James. [KSCD 1623-1674 Entry 1079], 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’ [KSCD 1675-1700 Entry 3110] 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’. [KSCD 1675-1700 Entry 3265].

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 Margaret 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’ 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 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.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Galloway gets its Hoard Back

Galloway non-Viking Hoard
I did a lot of briefing and campaigning  on the Galloway Hoard  last year- and wrote several posts here. Now there is good news.

From the Scotsman 8 September 2018

The biggest collection of Viking-age objects ever found in Britain will go on show close to where they were found in Galloway after a deal was struck to share the treasures with Edinburgh.

The Galloway Hoard, which is made up of more than 100 items of gold, silver enamel, glass and silk, was discovered by metal detectorist Derek McLennan on Church of Scotland land in 2014. Disappointment was felt in Galloway after it lost out in the race to buy the treasures, with National Museums Scotland able to raise the £1.98m needed to secure the collection.

Keeping the hoard in area was regarded as a major opportunity to boost tourism and illuminate its rich history. Now, the hoard will go on show at Kirkcudbright Galleries for nine months from December 2020 after a 25-year agreement was signed between NMS and Dumfries and Galloway Council. A long-term display of a number of items has also been secured.

Dr Gordon Rintoul, Director of National Museums Scotland said: “We are delighted to make this joint announcement with Dumfries and Galloway Council of a 25-year Partnership Agreement.

“National Museums Scotland is keen to extend access to the national collections to people from across Scotland an beyond and this agreement helps to achieve that ambition. “We hope that as many people as possible from the local area or visitors to it, will take the opportunity to view the Hoard and enjoy this wonderful collection.”
Kirkcudbright Galleries will now also be used as a venue for touring exhibitions from the national collections

Councillor John Martin, vice chair of Communities Committee at the local authority, said: “The agreement is very significant. I would like to thank National Museums Scotland for working with the Council to broker an arrangemen which provides both organisations with a very satisfactory outcome. “I look forward to seeing the Hoard return home to tell part of the story of our cultural heritage.”

From the Scotsman https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/delight-as-hoard-of-viking-era-treasure-to-return-home-1-4796894

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

From Gaelic to Scots

Full text of William Neill's article

Gaelic in the Galloway News 1983

This the paper I will read on the shift from Gaelic to Scots in Galloway at the 'Galloway: Gaelic's Lost Province?' conference Saturday 8 September 2018.

In 1972, I had the opportunity to learn Gaelic at Castle Douglas High School. The class was taught by William Neill who was a teacher at the school as well as being a Gaelic poet and scholar. Mr Neill, as I still think of him, had been born in Prestwick in 1922. As a teenager he would visit the harbour at Ayr where he was fascinated to hear Gaelic being spoken by fishermen from the Western Isles which inspired him to learn their language.

Although I failed to learn very much Gaelic from William Neill, I recall him telling us that Gaelic was still spoken in Galloway in the time of Mary, Queen of Scots. In article he wrote for the Galloway News in 1983 about Gaelic farm names he said “Before 1560, the whole of the south-west was solidly Gaelic speaking according to modern scholarship.” 1560 is a date associated with the Reformation in Scotland suggesting that William Neill saw the Reformation as bringing about the transition from Gaelic to Scots in Galloway. This afternoon I will argue that the Reformation came towards the end of the transition from Gaelic to Scots in Galloway not its beginning.

The Galloway News article shows Mr Neill standing in front of the sign for Drumskelly, one of several farms with Gaelic names in Crossmichael parish. Before 1560, the farms in Crossmichael parish belonged to Lincluden collegiate church.

A rental roll for Lincluden in 1557 lists the farms owned and their tenants. Among the farms listed are Hillowton and Gerranton, both near Castle Douglas. Michael Hillow was a tenant of Hillowtown and John and Ninane Garrane were tenants in Gerranton. Chapmanton is also listed, but there were no Chapmans living there. Along with Blackpark, these are all Scots farm names which show that in Crossmichael parish at least, the people had ceased to be solidly Gaelic speaking sometime before 1560.

In neighbouring Kelton parish a list of farms compiled in 1456 includes two farms with Scots names- Carlingwark and Whitepark. However, the same list shows that next to Whitepark but in Buittle parish were the farms of Cuil and Corra, both Gaelic farm names. In 1324 king Robert I granted Buittle to James Douglas and the charter describes the boundaries of Buittle. Torrs in Kelton is mentioned but not Whitepark nor Cuil and Corra which were then still part of a large farm now called Breoch. 
One of the farms which is mentioned is the Scots Corbieton which belonged to the Corbett family. Unfortunately there is no certain date for when the Corbetts acquired Corbieton, but it is an early indication of the shift towards the Scots language.

Cuil and Corra were still not included as separate farms in a Buittle rental roll from 1375 so must have been formed and given their Gaelic names sometime between then and 1456. Carlingwark and Whitepark will have been given their Scots names in this same period. They were part of the arable grange lands attached to Threave castle which was constructed for Archibald the Grim after he gained control of eastern Galloway in 1369 and bought western Galloway from Thomas Fleming, earl of Wigtown for £500 in 1372.

Archibald, like his father James Douglas, was a Bruce loyalist. His task was to rein in the Gaelic kindreds of Galloway who had supported Edward Balliol against Robert the Bruce's son king David II. Archibald's success is shown on his seal where two 'wild men of Galloway' support his coat of arms.

Two wild men of Galloway tamed by Archibald the Grim 

What did Douglas rule mean for the leading Gaelic families of Galloway?

For Sir John McCulloch of Mochrum parish it meant losing his lands to a Scot from Midlothian. At Lincluden in September 1414, McCulloch resigned his lands to Archibald, 4th earl of Douglas, lord of Galloway and Annandale and son of Archibald the Grim. In October 1414, Archibald directed Uhtred McDowall, sheriff of Wigtown to transfer McCulloch's lands to William Hay of Locharwart, which is in Midlothian.

But in 1418, Hay complained to Archibald that he 'could nocht gett payt his mailis ' due to the 'etting his lands', which as a result were 'skaithit', that is harmed. Archibald responded by instructing Robert Crichton of Sanquhar and his 'fellow Mcgyewe' , who were his officers on the west side of the Cree to 'distress' those responsible until they fully amended their fault. John McCulloch is the person most likely to be responsible for the etting and so would have been 'distressed' by Archibald's officers.

The Scots language of these and other documents show that the administration of Galloway was conducted in Scots throughout the period of Douglas rule until it ended in 1455. Despite this use of Scots we have evidence that Gaelic survived.

Evidence that Gaelic survived the period of Douglas rule comes from two sources. From 1487 there is a complaint that John Brown, the Scots speaking vicar of Kirkcolm 'does not understand and cannot speak intelligibly the language (that is Gaelic) of the place in which it is situate, to the detriment of souls…'

The second source is research by John Bannerman and others which revealed the existence of at least three generations of clarsach players in Wigtownshire between 1471 and 1513. The last of these was Roland or Lachlann McBratney who played for king James IV and may also have been employed by the prior of Whithorn. In one of the royal treasurer's accounts of payments to Lachlann, he is described as an Irish, that is Gaelic, harper. In another from 1503, he was paid 5 crowns for a journey to 'the isles'.

Significantly, another branch of his family were renowned harpists living on Gigha and Bannerman speculates that Lachlann visited them in 1503. It has even been suggested that the Gigha branch of the family originally came from Galloway via the Priory of Whithorn's lands in south Kintyre. But although Gigha was part of a cultural network which linked Gaelic Scotland and Ireland in the fifteenth century, Galloway under its Scots speaking Douglas lords had not been part of this network. 

As an aside, while researching the McBratneys, I discovered that there are still McBratneys living in Whithorn and was able to pass on my findings to Alexander McBratney from Whithorn who is now professor of soil science at the University of Sydney.

Then, during the later fifteenth century, Galloway became even more Scottish. A major influence on the shift from Gaelic to Scots in Galloway were the burghs of Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, Wigtown and Whithorn. In the far west there was also Innermessan until it was supplanted by Stranraer in the seventeenth century.

Part of the burghs' importance are their locations. Kirkcudbright lies at the southern end of a broad strip of good quality farm land stretching from the Fleet to the Nith at Dumfries. A smaller strip of good quality land lies along the coast between Kirkcudbright and Dumfries.

In 1755, even before the towns of Gatehouse, Castle Douglas and Dalbeattie had been established, 70% of the population of the Stewartry lived in this lowland area which was predominantly an arable farming district.

In 1684 parish lists of all the inhabitants of Wigtownshire and Minnigaff over the age of 12 were compiled. The lists give the number of occupants of over 650 farms as well as the burghs and the village of Minnigaff. Even for the overwhelmingly upland parish of Minnigaff, 54% of the population lived in Minnigaff village and farms on the fertile carse land beside the Cree.

In Wigtownshire, only 10% of the population lived in farms on poorer quality land, spread across the upper parts of Inch, New Luce, Kirkcowan and Penninghame parishes. 40% of the Wigtownshire population lived in the Machars which included the burghs of Wigtown and Whithorn. Although these burghs only accounted for 7% of the total Wigtownshire population, 19% of the population of the Machars lived in them.

The Wigtown Burgh Court books survive for the years 1513 to 1534. They are written in Scots and have been analysed by linguist Joanna Kopakzyk who concluded that the language used was typical of the Scots written and spoken across Lowland Scotland in the sixteenth century. She also noted that ‘the Burgh Court Book has no passages written in Gaelic or translated into or from Gaelic. There is no mention of interpreters needed for trials or for documents, therefore one may infer that Scots was a well established means of communication in the burgh.’

If Scots was already established in Wigtown by 1513, how far did that influence extend? Researching the place names of Wigtowsnhire, John McQueen found that farms recorded in Penninghame parish with the Scots names Meikle and Little Elrik in 1506 were then recorded with the Gaelic names Heilrikmore and Neilrikbeg in 1507. This suggests that Gaelic as well as Scots was spoken in the area at this time.

The farms are 9 miles north west of Wigtown. If Gaelic was still spoken in upper Penninghame in 1507, it must have been in retreat since their Gaelic names were not used again and it is as Meikle and Little Eldrig that the farms became known.

Significantly, a circle with a radius of 9 miles centred on Wigtown takes in most of the Machars as well as the more fertile parts of Penninghame and Kirkcowan. When the burgh of Whithorn and its immediate area is included, then by the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Scots language was well established in the Machars.

On the other hand, we know that Gaelic was still the main language of the Rhinns in 1487. In 1684, the Rhinns accounted for 29% of Wigtownshire's population. Before the creation of Stranraer in 1595 the nearest burgh to the Rhinns was Innermessan in Inch parish. However, Innermesan was a very small burgh so its linguistic influence would have been limitedm slowing the advance of Scots into the Rhinns.

However, an indication that the market economy was expanding into the west of Galloway comes from 1495 when the village of Ballinclach, now Glenluce, became a burgh of barony with a weekly market.

In the Stewartry, the size and importance of Dumfries is likely to have made Scots the dominant language east of the Urr many years before 1500. Much closer in size to Wigtown than Dumfries, Kirkcudbright's Scots footprint would have covered the area between the Fleet and the Urr and stretched up to the edge of the Glenkens. As a consequence of the combined influence of Dumfries and Kirkcudbright, by 1500 70% of the population of the Stewartry were potentially Scots speakers.

If the balance between Gaelic and Scots use had begun to shift in favour of Scots between 1455 and 1500, what happened over the next 60 years? Written evidence for the use of Scots increases since more legal documents and letters survive. For example, in the protocol book of notary Herbert Anderson, dated 23 May 1541, Alexander Gordon of Airds in the Glenkens made a declaration in Scots concerning the disposal of the estate of the deceased Ninian Glendinning of Parton.

Perhaps, as a non-native family, the Gordons of the Glenkens had never been Gaelic speakers, but the family of Thomas McDowall of Glenluce certainly had been. In 1556, Thomas represented his grandmother Janet McDowall at the Baron Court of Glenluce where she was accused of passing on her tenancy of Sinniness farm to another person without permission. The case lasted several days and the record of the proceedings shows it was conducted in Scots.

Although Janet McDowall could have grown up in a Gaelic speaking household, her grandson was a fluent Scots speaker able to hold his own in the baron court and get the case transferred to Edinburgh. Yet as the grandson of a tenant farmer, he was of low social status. Could Thomas McDowall have spoken Gaelic as well as Scots? Unfortunately it is impossible to tell from the evidence available. What we do know is that the Scots language in Galloway was soon to get a powerful ally- the Reformed Church.

Alexander Gordon of Airds is reputed to have pioneered the Reformation Galloway in the 1530s when he secretly read from an English translation of the bible to his family and his tenants in Airds wood. However, this was an essentially private affair, very different from the national Reformation which began in 1560.

The Reformation in Scotland was deeply influenced by Calvinism. Robert Kingdon has described Calvinism as

a serious attempt to control human behaviour in all its variety. It meant that the church had a responsibility not only to present true Christian doctrine but also to shape true Christian behaviour. And this responsibility, Calvinists believed, could not be left to individuals or to governments. It had to be assumed, to as great a degree as possible, by the church… which became a remarkably intrusive institution, penetrating every aspect of life.

In other words, the new Calvinist faith was about much more than simply requiring the faithful to attend church on Sunday. It also sought to extend its influence into the home, to shape and influence family life. Men, women and children were all expected to have an understanding of the Christian faith and to be able to demonstrate that understanding by reciting the key principles of the Reformed religion.

In the Highlands and Islands the Reformers had to translate and adapt their message in order to reach Gaelic speakers. But in Galloway, by 1560 the gradual expansion of Scots outwards from the burghs had made Scots the majority language. Unfortunately, parish records from Galloway for the period 1560 to 1640 have not survived. This is frustrating since it means we don't know if they contained any references to the survival of Gaelic in the upland districts or in the Rhinns.

It is therefore possible that Gaelic may still have been spoken in some parts of Galloway into the seventeenth century. Indeed, we may even have evidence that it was.

Dr Christopher Irvine was an Edinburgh based physician and historiographer to kings Charles II and James VII and II. He was born in 1618 at Enniskillen in Ireland where his Scottish father had been granted lands as part of the Plantation of Ulster. The Irish uprising of 1641 forced the family to take refuge in Scotland, passing through Portpatrick in the Rhinns as they fled Ulster. Although his father and brothers later returned to Ireland, Christopher did not.

In his book 'Historiæ Scoticæ nomenclatura Latino-vernacula' published in 1682, Irvine wrote-

Vetustus Sermo : the old language of our ancestors, the Galick Albanich, the Highland galick, which at this day is spoken in all our Hilly Countries and Isles, and in my time was spoke much in the Rinns of Galloway.

What Irvine seems to be saying is Gaelic was still present in the Rhinns in 1641 when he heard it spoken. However, unlike in the 'hilly countries and isles', by 1682 Gaelic was no longer spoken in the Rhinns.

If Irvine's statement does mean that Gaelic was no longer spoken in the Rhinns by 1682, this accords with Andrew Symson's 'Large Description of Galloway'. Symson was minister of Kirkinner parish in the Machars for over 20 years during which time he acted as secretary to the Synod of Galloway. This gave him a good knowledge of Galloway and makes the Large Description, which began compiling in 1684, a very comprehensive document It includes, for example, a discussion of the Scots dialect spoken by the 'country people'. However, Symson does not make any reference to the survival of Gaelic in the Rhinns- nor anywhere else in Galloway.

Christopher Irvine spent only a short time in the Rhinns, unlike the Reverend John Livingston, who my family claim as an ancestor. Livingston first visited Galloway in 1626 at the invitation of John Gordon of Kenmure, the founder of New Galloway. In 1630 Livingston became minister of Killinchy in County Down before crossing back to Galloway where he became minister of Stranraer parish in 1638. In an account of his life, Livingston says that he chose Stranraer because its proximity to Portpatrick allowed him to keep in touch with his former parishioners. He also mentions the Irish uprising which broke out in the autumn of 1641.

The winter following many came fleeing over to Scotland, sundry to Ayr and Irvine, and other places of the west, by sea; but the greatest number came by Portpatrick and Stranraer, and were generally in a very destitute condition.

In Stranraer, Livingston was a very active minister, leading daily prayer sessions in his church. He had been brought up in Lanarkshire and was not a Gaelic speaker. However, unlike John Brown of Kirkcolm in 1487, Livingston experienced no difficulties communicating with his parishioners nor those of neighbouring parishes when he attended communion.

During my abode in Stranraer, the neighbouring ministers with whom I kept most society, were my brother M‘Clellan at Kirkcudbright, Robert Hamilton at Ballantrae, George Hutchison at Colmonell, Alexander Turnbull at Kirkmaiden in the Rhinns, John Dick at Inch, George Dick at Glenluce,Andrew Lander at Whithorn, and John Park at Mochrum. With all these I have been at their communions, and most of them have been at communions with us at Stranraer.

This creates a problem. If Gaelic was still 'spoke much' in the Rhinns 'in my time' as Irvine claimed, why did Livingston not mention this fact?

A possible answer is that the Gaelic Irvine heard was restricted to the ferry boatmen who crossed between Donaghadee and Portpatrick. The ferry service was established after James Hamilton and Hugh Montgomery began the Scottish plantation of Ulster in 1606. On the Irish side, where there were 16 passage boats by 1617, the crews must have been drawn from the Irish population of County Down since even by 1630 there were only 2000 adult male settlers from Scotland scattered across the county. The Plantation did not remove Irish speakers and there were still 984 Irish speakers living around Donaghadee in 1659.

Remote from the influence of Scots speaking burghs and only 21 miles across the North Channel from Irish speakers, there were probably still Gaelic speakers in the Rhinns before the Plantation in 1606. If the Donaghadee passage boats were crewed by Irish sailors, frequent contact with them could therefore have sparked a minor Gaelic revival in the Rhinns, centred on Portpatrick.

However, this revival is unlikely to have survived Irish uprising of 1641. Although 12 000 Scots and English settlers were killed in the uprising, exaggerated accounts soon circulated claiming that as many as 150 000 Protestant settlers had been massacred by Irish Catholics. Some of the refugees who fled to Scotland were Irish. Six reached Kirkcudbright where they were arrested and sent to England. It was not a good time to be Irish in Scotland.

To protect the Scottish settlers, a Scottish army was despatched to Ulster. John Livingston was with this army as a chaplain in April 1642.

I went with the army to the field, when they took in Newry. A part of the rebels that made some opposition by the way at the entry of a wood were killed. They were so fat, that one might have hid his fingers in the lirks of their breasts.

Only two years earlier, in the summer of 1640, the Army of the Covenant had besieged Caerlaverock castle in Nithsdale and Threave castle in Galloway. The castles were held for Charles I by Robert Maxwell, the Roman Catholic earl of Nithsdale. Most of the defenders were drawn from the local Catholic community which had survived the Reformation under the protection of the Maxwells. Unlike in Ireland, after the castles had been surrendered, their defenders were allowed to depart peacefully rather than being slaughtered.

During 1644-45, the campaign of Montrose supported by Irish Confederate troops led by Alasdair MacColla brought the bitterness of Ulster back to Scotland. Contemporary Covenanter propaganda focussed on the 'Irish rebels' rather than Montrose and when the tide finally turned in the Covenanters favour, any Irish soldiers captured were executed automatically. In July 1645, female Irish camp followers were also rounded up and killed.

Although MacColla led the Irish troops, he was born on Colonsay. However, he was a member of Clan Donald South and cousin to Ranald McDonnell, the Roman Catholic and Gaelic speaking earl of Antrim. Many of the Irish Confederate troops MacColla led were from Antrim. Ironically, James VI and I had intended the Plantation of Ulster to drive a wedge between the Gaelic communities of western Scotland and north-east Ireland and bring an end to the military and cultural connections between these communities.

Scotland and Ulster as mapped circa 1600

If there had been a significant Gaelic speaking population in Galloway in the 1640s, particularly in the Rhinns, they would have figured in the political and military calculations of the time. The Irish would have seen them as potential allies, the Scots as potential enemies. A possible Galloway connection did emerge in 1643 when Ranald McDonnell was captured by the Scottish army in Ulster. Among the letters found on McDonnell was one showing that he had been seeking support from Robert Maxwell, earl of Nithsdale.

However, although a Roman Catholic and a Royalist, neither Maxwell nor
Galloway's Catholic community were Gaelic speakers. They were treated with suspicion and hostility, but even when the Synod of Dumfries took action against 39 named Catholics in 1647, they were excommunicated rather than being executed. As Scots speakers they were not subject to the fear and hatred directed against Gaelic speaking Roman Catholics in Ireland and Scotland.

Thus leads on to a significant point. Despite 250 years of hostility and occasional persecution, what had been an important part of Galloway's medieval culture- its religion- survived into the nineteenth century. In 1704 there were still 418 Roman Catholics in the eastern Stewartry and Webster's Census of 1755 recorded 349 Roman Catholics in the same district.

Religious continuity was preserved through chapels served by Jesuits which were maintained by members of the Maxwell family near New Abbey, near Dumfries and at Munches near Dalbeattie. The chapel at Munches survived until 1811 when it was transferred to Dalbeattie.

But while Galloway's old religion survived, its old language did not. 

The National Covenant was passionately embraced in Galloway. A copy survives from Minnigaff parish where the entire adult male population of 355 signed it. Minnigaff is one of the upland parishes where Gaelic is most likely to have survived, but as hostility to the Irish and their language grew, social pressure would have enforced the hegemony of Scots as the language of the Covenants.

It is possible then that the final stage of the shift from Gaelic to Scots involved a form of collective self-censorship, of a religiously inspired rejection of Galloway's Gaelic past. By the time Andrew Symson began compiling his Large Description of Galloway in 1684 he had been minister of Kirkinner parish in the Machars for 20 years during which time he acted as secretary to the Synod of Galloway. This gave him a good knowledge of Galloway and makes the Large Description, a very comprehensive document. It includes, for example, a discussion of the Scots dialect spoken by the 'country people' as well as some Galloway folk history. But Symson makess no reference to the survival or recent loss of Gaelic and the folk history recorded does not date back further than 1450s.

 Then, a cewntury after Symson, in 1787 Robert Burns' frind Robert  Riddell recorded a tantalising piece of folk history.

The two snowy years of 1671 and 2 ruined the Gallick speaking tenants of the upland farms of the South of Scotland who were then replaced by others speaking only Lowland Scots

James Hogg also passed on shepherds' tales of an extreme winter, which he thought was that of 1620. Weather records don't show the winters of 1671 or 2 as expectionally snowy but they do identify 1674 as the winter when many thousands of sheep died in an area between Peebles, Selkirk and Eskdale during the 'Thirteen Drifty Days of March'. The most detailed account by William Napier in 1822 includes a list of the farms worst affected- Sundhope, Over-Delorian, Phaup and Over-Cassock- in the central Borders but no suggestion that any of the farms affected had Gaelic speaking tenants. An investigation of estate records from the Borders may solve this mystery.

Finally we come to a number of reports of the survival of Gaelic in Galloway and Carrick into the eighteenth and even ninteenth centuries. Investigated by William Lorimer in 1949, these included several 'last speakers of Gaelic' living variously in Glenapp 1750, Maybole 1760, Barr 1762, Minnigaff 1775 and here in the Glenkens 1780.
Of these, the most intruiging is the one from Minnigaff where it is claimed Alexander Murray, the celebrated linguist, learnt Gaelic from his aged father. Murray died in 1813 making him potentially the last native Gaelic speaker in south-west Scotland. Unfortunately, Murray himself said that after first learning Welsh in 1792, he later taught himself Gaelic using William Shaw's 'Analysis of the Gaelic Language' published in 1778, Shaw's 'Gaelic English Dictionary ' published in 1780 and Alexander Stewart's 'Elements of Gaelic Grammar' published in 1801.

Other reports investigated by Lorimer, including the Gaelic schoolmaster recruited for Barr parish school in 1762, turned out to be the product of the fertile imagination of Robert de Bruce Trotter in his 'Galloway Gossip' books. Even the more plausible reports left open the possibility that the 'last speakers' may have learned their Gaelic from Irish or Scottish sources rather than inherited it as part of continuous tradition. As Mark Twain might have put it, rumours of Gaelic surviving into the eigthteenth century are greatly exaggerated.

In conclusion then, I must disagree with William Neill. Even before 1560, the south-west had ceased to be soldily Gaelic speaking. The point of the wedge that was to eventually to divide the land of Galloway from the Gaelic language and the people from their history can still be seen. It is the imposing 80 foot high castle of Threave, built for Archibald the Grim. As lord of Galloway, Archibald achieved what no king of Scotland had managed to do - he tamed its wild men and women the McDowalls, the McCullochs and the other Gaelic kindreds - and made an enduring plantation of Scots speakers among them.

At the same time, the Douglas lordship preserved the territorial integrity of Galloway and conserved a degree of cultural continuity with the kingdom founded by Fergus three centuries before. The deepest link with Galloway's past was the language of its people, which preceded even Fergus' kingdom. Galloway's Gaelic language survived the Douglas lordship, but, as the final assimilation of Galloway by Scotland got underway, by 1500 the Scots language had already advanced from the burghs into the surrounding countryside. Even without the assitance of the Reformation, by 1560 Scots was already so widely spoken that the transition from Gaelic to Scots would probably have been completed within one or two generations.

But tragically, in becoming Scots speakers, the people of Galloway had lost a huge part of their own history. The oldest pieces of folk history Symson recorded concerned 'the Black Douglass' and Threave castle. One described the execution of Patrick McClellan of Bombie at Threave in 1453 and the other that the great iron gun called Mons Meg had been wrought and made there. The survival in folk history of these stories, but none from earlier, illustrates the profound rupture in Galloway's collective memory which the shift from Gaelic to Scots created. 

The totality of the physical erasure of Galloway's past was brought home to me when I began researching the Galloway Levellers and discovered that no traces of the Galloway landscape that they knew have survived. The process of agricultural improvement- the Lowland Clearances- had swept away the medieval fermtouns, the cottars and their crofts - even the fields of rig and furrow that had been cultivated for centuries were obliterated. Researching the transition from Gaelic to Scots in Galloway I have found a similar cultural erasure of Galloway's Gaelic past.

As we have found today , much of Galloway's forgotten Gaelic heritage has been recovered. But sadly, this knowledge has yet to become part of our collective awareness. As a consequence, the people of Galloway still lack consciousness of their own history.

However, rather then end on a downbeat note I will attempt some optimism. There is a campaign to make Galloway a national park. Part of the campaign involves arguing that there is an overlap between the geographical and geological boundaries of Galloway and Carrick and the area's natural heritage. Equal weight is also being given to the historical coherence of the area's cultural heritage.

The Kingdom of Galloway restored

If the the national park proposal suceeds we will no longer be able to describe Galloway as Gaelic's Lost Province. In recognition of the region's cultural heritage the proposed full title of the new park will be 'The Kingdom of Galloway National Park'.

I asked about the inclusion of Kingdom in the title at the National Park Association's recent agm, where I was assured by the Association's Chair Dame Barbara Kelly that it had been been approved by no less an authority than Professor Ted Cowan.

Thanks to the Gaelic (Scotland) Act of 2005, the Park's name will be present in Gaelic as well as English on all its signs and logos. Galloway's first kingdom was a Gaelic speaking kingdom. If Galloway becomes a kingdom once again, then our Gaelic heritage will become very publically part of our future as well as our past.