|1745 Scotland County map -- Roxburgh is in the bottom right (click on map for larger view)|
Although the name leads one to expect tables of statistics, this is really more of a description of what the parish of Linton was like at the close of the 18th century. Linton did not experience the halving of its population over the past century like Jedburgh did, but in some regards, it seems even more bleak here. There were less than 400 residents in the entire parish. While there were 27 farmers circa 1751-59, there are only twelve 40 years later, and of these 12 residing farmers, only three are married -- and one of these three would presumably be William Hay!
PARISH OF LINTON.
County of Roxburgh.
Situation, Extent, &c. Lintoun, or Linton, in the presbytery of Kelso, and synod of Merse and Teviotdale, is nine miles long and three broad. The clergy, it is well known, when they had power, were not inattentive to their own interest. There is not, perhaps, a more agreeable rural retreat than they have here chosen for their residence. The air, in the opposite extremity of the district, is colder by many degrees, and the ground not above one-third of the value.
Soil. The soil varies greatly. Three hundred acres are bounded on the west by Kail water, and, as they rise only a few inches above it, are much exposed to inundations. In 1781, most of this spacious plain was under water. This beautiful strath, with the surrounding hills, forms a large basin. It reaches into two adjacent parishes, and consists of about 12 or 1500 acres. The 300 acres, mentioned above, consist of a deep strong clay. It raises young cattle, when laid down in grass, or great crops of grain, when the season permits the labour of it. The rent is about one guinea per acre, and all of it is inclosed. The ground, rising out of flood-mark to the east for two miles, produces more certain crops. It is a dry red sand. One-fourth of the arable land is annually alloted to the production of turnips, which, in quality, yield to none in this country.
Hills. There is only one hill, which, in the plains of Babylon, would be an Atlas, but is reduced to a hillock by the adjacent mountains of the Cheviot. The plough has found its way almost to the top of it; but as the use of lime was not known, the increase, it is probable, woud be both scanty and precarious.
Lochs. There are two lochs in this parish. The one is much drained, and so choaked with reeds, as greatly to incommode the angler in his attempts upon the large trout it contains. The other covers a space of more than thirty acres, is of an oblong form, accessible at the verge, and exhibits a beautiful sheet of water. It contains no fish but eels; some of them are of the silver kind. A moss of great extent and depth confines its water to the west; but the peats are of a bad quality. The fuel, therefore, is mostly coal from Northumberland.
Agriculture. Is here conducted with great dexterity. Turnip is reckoned a good fallow. Near one-fourth of the arable land is laid down with the useful root, which has turned winter into summer, not only by keeping the price of meat nearly equal through the year, but also by clothing the fields with a beautiful green in the coldest seadon. Five hundred guineas would scarcely purchase what is here raised annually. Stock of every description is thereby greatly advanced. Wool is seldom sold about the 18s per stone. Perhaps 3000. Being equi-distant from Edinburgh and Morpeth, the fat beasts are some years divided almost equally between these markets. Some inclose their sheep, in the summer nights, with moveable fences, which are occasionally removed, and the place lately occupied is directly ploughed, to preserve the manure in its strength. Much of the sheep pasture has been ploughed, and laid down with sown grass and lime. Thirty ploughs, with two horses each, perform the agricultural work of this parish.
Population. It is often mentioned with regret that there is a considerable decrease of his Majesty's subjects in this parish; 40 years ago it consisted of 27 farmers, the patron, and minister; now there are only 12, three of whom, with the patron, do not reside. Of the residing farmers, only three are married. The number of houses is reduced to 55, containing 283 persons above eight years old; and about 100 children besides, so that the number is supposed to be greatly diminished. In Dr. Wbster's report, however, the population is stated at only 413 souls; the decrease upon the whole, therefore, is not above 16. There have been four marriages, ten births, and six burials, annually, upon an average, for these nine years past. Three young men inlisted into the Train of Artillery last year. More than one third of the people are Seceders. There are no other rectaries(?) in the parish.
Poor. The following authentic extracts from the federunts of heritors meetings, for the last 47 years, will show the state of the poor. The assessment only of every 5th or 6th year since the commencement in 1744 is here stated(?), although the charge and number of poor at every meeting is regularly inserted in the records.
Assessment for the poor of Linton Parish,
4 paupers in 1744, L.S. assessment
4 paupers in 1749, assessment: 12
8 paupers in 1756, assessment: 13
9 paupers in 1761, assessment: 15
12 paupers in 1766, assessment: 16
9 paupers in 1771, assessment: 28
10 paupers in 1777, assessment: 29
11 paupers in 1780, assessment: 29
11 paupers in 1784, assessment: 42
14 paupers in 1789, assessment: 44
14 paupers in 1791, assessment: 46
This assessment, so disproportionate to the present population, is partly owing to two young men of deranged intellects, who are supported at the rate of above L.9 per annum. None of the poor are mendicants, although there are many of this description, chiefly from market towns, as far as Edinburgh,
Church. The glebe is nearly eight Scotch acres, two of which, last season, in wheat, sold for L.20. The stipend is L.80, and three chalder of victual. The manse and office houses are all new-covered with blue slate. The patron is John Pringle Esq of Clifton. More than one half of the parish belongs to him. His house at Park, to the west of the church, is pleasantly situated in the center of a plantation of 30 acres of trees.
Miscellaneous Observations. The rent of the parish is L.2113 Sterling, and the largest farm yields L.400 per annum. In repairing the church lately, there was found a large grave containing 50 skulls, all equally decayed, some of them cut with the stroke of violence, belonging (it is supposed) to persons slain in some border fight, of which there were many in this neighborhood. Over one of the church doors, a man on horseback is cut in stone, killing, with a spear, a fierce animal; it is said to be the last that infested this district, when the woods were cut down. It seems to have been a deed of valour, as the memorial of it, we are told, is preserved on the crest of Lord Sommerville's arms, whose ancestors once possessed a large estate in this parish. It is proper to mention another curiousity in the center of this district; five or six stones form a circle about the size of a cock-pit, called the Tryst: Here the parties that made incursions into Northumberland, used to meet; but when those that came first could not wait for the arrival of the companions, they cut with their swords upon the turf, the initials of their names, the head of the letters pointing to the place whither they were going, that their friends might follow them.
|page 1 -- situation, soil|
|page 2 -- hills, lochs, agriculture|
|page 3 -- population, the poor|
|page 4 -- church, miscellaneous|
|page 5 -- miscelleaneous (cont'd)|
These reports are available on-line through EDINA, a JISC National Data Centre based at the University of Edinburgh. (Website: http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/). From their website:
"The Statistical Accounts of Scotland are essential sources for the study of Scotland's past.
The 'Old' or 'First' Statistical Account of Scotland was undertaken in the 18th century under the direction of Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster (1754-1835), MP for Caithness. Known as 'Agricultural Sir John', he conceived a plan to ask parish ministers of the Church of Scotland all over Scotland to reply to a set of planned questions dealing with subjects such as the geography, climate, natural resources, and social customs of each parish. He defined his aim in 1790 as 'to elucidate the Natural History and Political State of Scotland'. The returns from the parishes were published as they were received back from different parts of Scotland in a series of twenty-one volumes between 1791 and 1799.
The 'New' or 'Second' Statistical Account was suggested to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1832 by the Committee of the Society of the Sons and Daughters of the Clergy. Broadly, the 'New' Statistical Account followed the structure of the 'Old', but it also differed in that it included maps of the counties, and while the parish reports in the 'Old' were mostly prepared by the parish ministers, the 'New' Statistical Account also included contributions from other local figures such as schoolmasters and doctors. It was mostly written in the 1830s and published in fifty-two quarterly parts from 1834, culminating in being issued in 15 vol. in 1845. When it was published, the Committee presented it as 'in great measure, the Statistical Account of a new country'.
Together, the Statistical Accounts provide vitally important reference sources for a critical half century spanning the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions. They are locally created and factually based; the two Accounts allow comparisons to be made parish by parish at a time of rapid and significant change; and they offer a unique reference and research source for the study of local and national life in Scotland in this period."