The History of Stirlingshire
Chapter XVII. Killearn and Kilsyth
This district is chiefly known as having been the birth-place of the celebrated George Buchanan, poet and historian. Part of the farmhouse called The Moss, on the banks of the Blane, in which he as born about February, 1506, remained until 1812, when a modern mansion was built on the site. The old house had a thatched roof resting on oak spars; and out of the latter a chair and table were made by the late proprietor as memorials of Buchanans birth. Few eminent scholars of the past have been more misrepresented and misunderstood than this master-wit and satirist. Even by many intelligent Scotchmen of the present day, he is principally regarded as a kings fool and buffoon. His Rerum Scoticorum Historia seems to be as little known, virtually, as his Franciscanus a Juvenalian satire of matchless merit. As a specimen of his genius in epigram, we quote the following lines on Pontiff Pius:-
”Heaven he had sold for money,
Earth he left in death as well;
What remains of Pontiff Pius?
Nothing that I see but hell.•
George was the third son of Thomas Buchanan of Moss, by Agnes, daughter of Heriot of Trabrown in Berwickshire. His great-grandfather, Patrick Buchanan of Buchanan, was the maternal grandson of Murdo, Duke of Albany, by Isabella, daughter and heiress of Duncan, eighth Earl of Levenax. It would therefore appear that, in the historical representation of the marriages of Robert II., which went to set aside the right of the reigning branch of the Stewarts to the crown, Buchanan was not biassed by any attachment to ancestry. With the assistance of a maternal uncle, he spent his boyish years in study at Paris. His father had died early, and left a wife and eight children to struggle with the bitter privations of indigence. Before the end of two years, by the death of his uncle and his own weakly constitution, George was necessitated to quit the French capital. Having in his native air, regained his health and strength, he served in the inglorious expedition against England commanded by Alexander, Duke of Albany, and Regent, and, from the hardships he underwent, had a relapse of sickness. At eighteen, having again recovered, he went to the University of St. Andrews to hear John Mair's lectures, and was matriculated along with his eldest brother Patrick. He obtained the degree of B.A. on the 3rd October, 1525, and, as appears from the register of the Faculty, was an exhibitioner. Returning to France, whither Mair had gone, he became a student in the Scots College. On the 10th October, 1527, he was incorporated a B.A., and next March received the higher degree.
Luther, who had begun to preach his new doctrines in 1512, had by this time gained many converts. Nor was the young Scotchman insensible to the charms of truth. His avowed change of religion, however, was an obstacle to his preferment; and it was not till the end of two years that his talents had got him the petty professorship of the College of St. Barbe. But apparently he had lost his two younger brothers, for in 1531 a lease was granted on the estate of Cardross in Menteith, by the commendator of Inchmahome, to Agnes Heriot, and her sons, Patrick, Alexander of Ibert (father of Thomas, Lord Privy Seal), and George. Gilbert Kennedy, Earl of Cassilis, who resided in the near neighbourhood of St. Barbe's College, became his pupil from 1532 till 1537, when the two proceeded together to Scotland. While staying at the earls country seat, the Lutheran convert, with more zeal than prudence, wrote a poem entitled Somnium, a satire on the Franciscan friars, which made them his enemies. James V. had, meanwhile, appointed him to superintend a natural son of the same name with the celebrated Regent Moray, and in 1537 made commendatory abbot of Melrose and Kelso, whilst the other obtained the priory of St. Andrews.
Buchanan, notwithstanding his known opinions on religious subjects, was noticed by the Archbishop of Glasgow, Gavin Dunbar. Afterwards, with the countenance of James V., he wrote other two satires against the Franciscans Palenodia and Franciscanus in which he exposes their ignorance, irreligion, and immorality.
In 1539 many suspected of Lutheranism were persecuted; and Buchanan, proscribed by the cruel primate and unprotected by the fickle monarch, had maliciously imputed to him, as a crime worthy of death, that he had, with some others, at Winchburgh, eaten the Pascal lamb like a Jew. He was in consequence arrested, and with difficulty escaped through a window in the castle of St. Andrews while his keepers were asleep. Finding his way to London, he was patronized by Sir John Rainsford; but failed in an attempt to attract the notice of Henry VIII., and passed over to Paris. Finding his arch-foe Cardinal Beaton there as Scottish ambassador, he was induced, by the invitation of Andrew Govea, principal of the College of Guienne, in the city of Bourdeaux, to go thither. Here he was appointed one of the professors before December, 1539, and taught Latin. Students then exercised themselves in the representation of Latin dramas, and the new professor furnished four of his own composing Baptistes and Medea, Jephthes and Alcestis, the latter two of which are, by the critics, considered as the more highly finished. The Medea and Alcestis are translations from Euripides, the others are originals, and have been translated into various languages. Some of his minor poems, written during his residence at Bourdeaux, particularly one to Briand de Vallee, savour of that licentiousness which he had formerly stigmatized in others, and, whatever their poetical merit, form a pitiful contrast to his sacred lyrics. He occasionally enjoyed, by travelling to Agen, the society of the elder Scalinger once, like himself, the youthful soldier, but now the literary veteran. Cardinal Beaton tried to have Buchanan arrested at Bourdeaux, but in vain; and the death of James V. put an end to his apprehensions.
Having been three years at Bordeaux, he removed to Paris, and in 1544 was regent in the College of Cardinal le Moine, where, as appears from his poems, he became a victim of gout. He is thought to have continued here till 1547. At any rate, he this year, with Govea, adjourned to the newly-founded University of Coimbra, of which is friend had, by the Portuguese monarch, been appointed principal; Buchanan himself and his brother Patrick, professors. Govea died the following year, and the Portuguese having heard of Buchanans heresy, and that of his associates, prosecuted them, and accused them of imaginary crimes. After being harassed by the Inquisition for a year and a-half, he was confined in a monastery to be instructed by the monks. During the two years he resided here he commenced, as a consolatory exercise, his version of the Psalms.
At length, be obtained his liberty, and was pressed to remain in Portugal, but sailed to England, and went thence, in 1553, to France. He obtained the regency of the College of Boncourt; and, in 1555, was chosen by the Comte de Brissac, domestic preceptor of his son, Timoleon de Cosse, and placed at the council board with the chief officers under the command of that celebrated warrior. During the five years of this connection, he resided alternately in France and Italy. The precise date of his return to Scotland is not known; but he certainly was at the Scottish court in January, 1562, and, in the following April, read, every afternoon, with Queen Mary, then in her twentieth year, a portion of Livy. He inscribed to this accomplished lady his version of the Psalms, which was published about the same period. He had addressed her in a Latin poem on her first nuptials; and celebrated in a similar strain the birth of King James. The queen, in 1564, conferred upon him the temporalities of the abbey of Crosraguel, worth 500 pounds Scots, or 41 pounds, 14s. 4d. sterling, annually. In 1566, the prior of St. Andrews, afterwards Regent Moray, to whom he had two years before inscribed his Franciscanus, appointed Buchanan principal of St. Leonards College. He now lectured on theology; was repeatedly a member of the General Assembly, and, in 1567, moderator. The imposition of hands had not yet been practiced in the reformed church of Scotland; and the difference between a minister, and a professor of divinity and abbot of Crosraguel, could not have appeared very great.
He had published his Fratres Fraterrimi some years before; he, now, at the earnest request of some friends, sent out his Elegioe Silvoe, Hendeca-Syllabi; of which he says, in a prefatory epistle, at the age of sixty-one, ”I was not extremely solicitous to recall them from perdition; for the subjects are generally of a trivial nature, and such as at this period of life are at once calculated to inspire me with disgust and shame.•
Queen Mary had been dethroned, and had fled into England. Queen Elizabeth, on Marys submission, acted as umpire between her and her subjects; and Moray the regent, being required to appear before her by delegates, but finding none to go, went in person, and took with him, amongst others, George Buchanan. The latter, now, composed, in Latin, ”A Detection of Queen Mary's Actions,• which was produced to the commissioners at Westminster, and circulated by the English court. The particular circumstances in which this composition was produced give it very much the appearance of a special pleading. We can hardly conceive, indeed, that any hot-tempered man, in such times, and so situated, should remain uninfected with party spirit. Thuanus, no friend to Mary, says, in a letter to Camden, that Buchanan had perhaps written too harshly. The latter is affirmed, but without sufficient evidence, to have been pensioned by Mary's mortal foe. That Elizabeth had intended to allow him, and twenty-three others in Scotland, 100 pounds a year, appears from an extant list, in the royal archives. On the 23rd January, 1570, the regent was assassinated; and, to his surviving friends, Buchanan addressed, in the Scottish language, a paper entitled, ”Ane admonitioun direct to the trew Lordis Manenaris of the Kingis Graces Authoritie. M. G. B. Imprentit at Striviling be Robert Lekprevick, 1571.• It was about this time that, in the Chamaeleon, written also in Scotch, he exposed the wavering politics of the Secretary Maitland.
He was now called to superintend the education of the young king; when he resigned his principalship. Stirling castle was the theatre of James's education. A very old house opposite Argyll's lodging is said to have been built by Buchanan. He was made Director of Chancery; but soon quitted this office for that of Keeper of the Privy Seal, and the seat in Parliament attached to it. On the 30th April, 1578, for the sake of conveying the reversion, he nominally resigned in favour of his nephew, Thomas, son of Alexander Buchanan, of Ibert, yet continued to act as a legislator. He presided, in Stirling castle, in a committee of learned men, to furnish a Latin grammar for the schools, when he also composed the prosody. It did not, however, continue long in use. In 1593, in consequence of an appointment in Parliament, he acted as a commissioner to visit, and point out the means of reforming, St. Andrews University. It was he who wrote, on that subject, a memorial, which was ratified by Parliament on the 11th November, 1621, but repealed on the 4th August following, and a copy of which, entitled ”George Buchanan's opinion anent the Reformation of the Universitie of St. Andrews, written with his owne hand,• is preserved in Advocates ™ Library. He was also tutor of the heir of Drumikil, the family from which that of Moss was descended; and had, several years before, written his dialogue De Jure Regni apud Scotos. It was printed, by royal authority, at Edinburgh, in 1579. The conversation is supposed to pass between the author and Thomas Maitland, a younger brother of William, satirized in the Chamaeleon. Both were then, or subsequently, brothers-in-law of Buchanan's relation, Heriot of Trabrown. The subject is professedly the Rights of the Scottish Crown; but really a subtle delineation of the general principles of jurisprudence. His admirers, whilst they hold the soundness of his general principles, admit, with becoming candour, that some of his illustrations are not introduced with sufficient caution.
When seventy-four years of age, he, at the earnest entreaty of friends, became autobiographer, and executed the difficult task with a modesty and candour worthy of so exalted a genius. He had occasionally employed himself, during the twenty years he had latterly resided in Scotland, in writing her history. It issued from the press of Alexander Arbuthnot, her Majesty's Printer, in 1582, with the royal privilege, and inscribed to the king. Archbishop Usher is of opinion that no writer had investigated the antiquities of his country with superior diligence. This, however, is an equivocal compliment; for it may be asked what diligence his precursors had exercised. That he should have overlooked some things is not so much to be wondered at, as that he should have noticed so many. He has indulged in a superfluity of warmth at the antiquarian reveries of a contemporary author, Humphrey Lhuyd.
Of the twenty-four books into which his work is distributed, the first three form properly an introductory dissertation, in which, as Sir Robert Gordon of Straloch says, in a letter to David Buchanan, quoted in MS. by Bishop Nicolson, he ”is the railer and not the historian.• These seem the last composed. His narrative begins with the fourth book; and, even here, a fabulous elegance, and a confusion of chronology, are the general characteristics.
He seems thus to have initiated his royal pupil, for whose benefit, in no small degree, he professes to have written, not in the wisdom only, but in much of the folly also of his kingdom. Nor was his irascible example, and his unmanly behaviour, to the Countess of Marr, calculated to subdue James's apparently natural propensity to tyranny and rudeness.
He has, at the outset of his history, copied, with implicit credulity, the fables of that notable impostor, Hector Boeyce, whose elegantly written work, asserting of ”claik geese• that they spring from worms hatched under water, and other fooleries, had been much in vogue at the Scottish court, and, at the command of James V., translated by Bellenden, for the use of such of the nobles as had missed their Latin. Buchanan, indeed, acknowledges that Boeyce is not to be excused. He does not, however, always follow him even in the earlier part, and as might be expected, prefers what Ptolemy and Antonine's itinerary say of Camelodunum. The Peutingerian table, found about this time, in Germany, had, probably, been unknown to him. He has laid down such rules, for the trial and better discovery of genuine and false antiquities, as his history but partially illustrates. One is, that, where modern historians differ from the ancient Roman, in matters transacted under their first emperors, we are not to believe them rashly. He had neither seen any of the inscriptions of Antonine's wall bearing the emperor's name, though he speaks of many stones discovered here, nor was he acquainted with that passage of Capitolinus, in which speaking of Antonine, he says, ”He subdued the Britons by Lollius Urbicus, his lieutenant, and removed the barbarians by drawing another wall of turf across the island.• Had he possessed the adequate information, he would not have called it Severus's, nor attributed to him the original construction. Of the Roman footsteps, and stations beyond the wall, he was not aware. Neither is his account of Bassianus and Carausius less an offence against his own excellent canon. He had repeated that fabulous catalogue of kings which the happier discoveries of less eloquent writers have since exploded. With a writer, who says that in history severe truth is a cardinal requisite, and avers Buchanan's ”soothfastness• regarding events near his time, we wish we could agree; but, of some within two centuries of his mature death, and involving the most serious practical consequences, the historian of Scotland has laid himself open to animadversion in several respects. Mr. Stewart of Torrance, in 1789, procured, from the Vatican, authenticated copies of the dispensations for the marriages of Robert II., and proved, contrary to Buchanan's circumstantial statement, that Elizabeth was the first of his queens. Fordun, who was contemporary, affirms her marriage to have taken place, ”canonically and according to the forms of the church, in 1349;• and of Queen Eupheme he says that ”she died in 1387.• Robertson's Index of Charters, published in 1798, contains notices of one, by Robert II., ”28th February 1388-9, to the kirk of Stirling, of a passage boat on the Forth, with a croft of land, for the soul of our late dearest spouse Eupheme Queen of Scotland.• Of what Archbishop Spotswood had called Buchanan's ”bitterness• in writing of Queen Mary, it has been remarked, by Dr. Irving, that Buchanan ”was not himself an eyewitness of every transaction of his own age, and, amidst the animosities of that outrageous period, he must chiefly have derived his information from the adherents of one party.• A namesake, and not distant relation, David Buchanan, remarks, in MS. notes quoted by Bishop Nicolson, that George did not possess all those little helps for the investigation of obscurities and the refutation of errors, which the labour of learned men had more fully supplied in his own day. Of Buchanan's historic style, a point, no doubt, subordinate to research and veracity, it has been justly said, ”that it betrays no symptoms of the author's old age and infirmities; it is not merely distinguished by its correctness and elegance, it breathes all the fervent animation of youthful genius. . . It is not his chief praise that he writes like a diligent imitator of the ancients, but he writes as if he himself were one of the ancients.•
At Edinburgh, on Friday, 28th September, 1582, departed this life, in his seventy-seventh year, George Buchanan, commendatory abbot of Crosraguel, lord keeper of his Majesty's privy seal, a member ex-officio of the Scottish parliament, principal preceptor to the king, and an author, both in prose and verse, who, notwithstanding many imperfections, has adorned the Latin language, and exalted the Scottish nation. His remains were interred in Greyfriars churchyard. According to Sir Robert Sibbald, who flourished about a century after, his tomb, at an interval of some years, was opened, and a skull, supposed to be his, and so thin as to be transparent, was, by the suggestion of the Principal Adamson, deposited in the University library, where it is still to be seen.
Buchanan was scarcely in his grave, when his memory was assailed, both by private contradiction and public authority. In 1584, the parliament, during the first session after his death, passed an act anent slanderers of the king, his progenitors, estait, and realme, ”Forasmeikle as it is understand, to our sovereign lord, and his three estates assembled in this present parliament, quhat great harme and inconvenient has fallen in this realme, chiefly sen the beginning of the civil troubles, occurred in the time his hienes minoritie, throw the wicked and licentious publick, and private speeches and untrue calumnies of divers his subjects, to the disdaine, contempt, and reproach of his Majesty, his councel, and proceedings, and to the dishonour and prejudice of his hienes, his parents, progenitours, and estate, steering up his hienes subjectes theirby to misliking sedition unquietness, and to cast off their due obedience to his Majestie, to their evident peril, tinsel, and destruction. Attoure because it is understand to his hienes, and to his three estaites, that the buikes of the Chronicle, and De jure Regni, apud Scotos made be umquhile Maister George Buchannane, and imprented sensine, conteinis sundrie offensive matters, worthie to be detecte. It is therefore statute and ordained . . . that the havers bring them to the secretary, within 20 days, under the pain of 200 pounds, that they may be purged, &c.• These works, however, found their way to the continent entire, and there underwent a second edition. The history had gone through seventeen editions. A complete edition of his works, with the exception of the Scottish compositions, and his opinion of the University of St. Andrews, was published by Ruddiman, in 1715. Burman published a complete edition of his Latin works about the same time. The following indecorous passage in Heylin's ”Cosmographie,• shows how greatly political zeal is apt to warp the judgment on general subjects. It is the more remarkable as being published under the Usurpation. Speaking of the learned men of Scotland, the prolix geographer says ”George Buchanan, an ingenious poet, but an unsound statesman, whose historie and dialogue De jure Regni, have wrought more mischief in the world than all of Machiavel's works; not to be remembered here, but because he was paedagogue, to Sixth King James, of most famous memory; whose printed works declare his large abilities in all kinds of learning.• In 1683, the University of Oxford publicly burned the political works of Buchanan, Milton, and several others.
In 1788, more than two hundred years after his death, a number of gentlemen in the neighbourhood of Killearn resolved to erect a monument to the memory of Buchanan. At first, the intention was to have it placed at the head of Buchanan Street, Glasgow; but a spot nearer his birth-place was ultimately selected. It stands in the village here, beautifully situated. Its form is that of a well-proportioned obelisk, of white millstone grit, with a base of 19 feet square, reaches a height of 103 feet. Its cost was 295 pounds. The foundation stone was laid by the Rev. James Graham, minister of the parish, and under the same was deposited a crystal bottle, hermetically sealed, containing a silver medal with the following inscription: -
Poetae et historici celeberrimi
Accolis hujus loci, ultra conferentibus,
Haec columna posita est 1788.
Jacobus Craig, architect, Edinburgen.•
Killearn is evidently compounded of the three Celtic words, Kill-ear-rhin, signifying cell, or church of the west point. Such an etymology, at all events, is descriptive of its situation; while, with consent of the patron, it was erected into a prebend in the cathedral church in 1429, by John Cameron, bishop of Glasgow. Both parish and neighbourhood were, for a considerable time, unhappily exposed to the plundering inroads of large companies of migratory freebooters, who for safety lurked in the borders of the Highlands. These depredators made frequent incursions into the parishes of Buchanan, Balfron, Killearn, Dumbarton, &c., and carried off all the cattle they could find. This infamous practice was continued so late as the year 1743. Long before that, however, some gentlemen near the borders of the Highlands, undertook, for certain sums of money, to protect the property of their neighbours, and to make a full recompense for what was stolen from them. The money paid for this protection was called black mail, and was paid agreeably to a bargain concluded upon by the two contracting parties.
The old church and burial-ground have, lately, been greatly improved by the heritors. A recess, or side-room, that had been erected by one of their number, for his own accommodation and comfort, and which was out of harmony with the original building, has been removed; while a number of decayed trees, several of which had fallen and broken the church-yard wall, have also been cut down, and the roots of the few which remained comparatively fresh lifted â€“ these having become so large and so long, that it was scarcely possible to open graves in their immediate neighbourhood.
Apart from its surroundings, there is little connected with Strathblane of special interest. The hills here rest upon a sandstone running west towards Benlomond, and are capped with masses of trap. Their highest point bears the name of ”The Earl's Seat,• which is 1,400 feet above the level of the sea. Scotch firs, and larch, Huntingdon willows, black poplars, and gnarled oaks are the trees common throughout the district. On the pavement of the parish church a monumental slab is thus inscribed: - ”Here lyes in the same grave with Mary, Countess of Angus, sister of King James I. of Scotland, from whom he is lineally descended, Archibald Edmonstone, Esq. of Duntreath, in this kingdom, and of Redhall, Ireland, who died in the year 1689, aged about 61 years.• Mary Stuart, daughter of Robert III., was thrice married. Her third husband was Sir William Edmonstone of Duntreath, in whose burial-place she was interred. The grave was opened about forty years ago, when the skull of the deceased princess was found entire. She was mother of James Kennedy, and of Patrick Graham, who were successively bishops of St. Andrews.
On the southern side of the valley, eastwards, rises the wooded cliff where Lennox castle is perched. It nestles there as snug and strikingly defensive as castle could do, embowered among hardy trees. The house, which is in the boldest style of the old Norman architecture, from a design by the late David Hamilton of Glasgow, was commenced in 1837, and finished in 1841. We are now in the heart and centre of one of Scotland's loveliest straths. Far out towards the west you can see the blue summits of Highland hills. The mist has just risen from their lofty peaks, and in the clear sunlight their dim heights are vaguely penciled against the sky. Conspicuous among the neighbouring seats are the estates of Craigbarnet, Glorat, and Woodhead.
Campsie was a parish of some note in Catholic times. Its parson was sacristan of the cathedral of Glasgow, where he resided, being one of the canons. Lamberton, Beaton, and W. Erskine, were all of them parsons here, and served the cure by a vicar. The old clachan church stood at the opening of the far-framed ”Kirkton Glen.• From what of its ruins remain, it appears to have had no architectural pretensions. The first Presbyterian minister admitted was Mr. Stoddart, and of the fourteen clergymen who held the living from that year, 1581, till 1825, when the Rev. Dr. Norman Macleod was admitted, two were translated, five deposed, and one, John Collins, murdered by the laird of Belglass, on returning from the presbytery in 1648.
Lennoxtown is a street set down in the centre of the strath for the purpose of accommodating the labourers employed in working the mineral and other manufactures of the surrounding district. The most extensive of the public works is Lennox-mill, which was first established as a calico printing field about 1786. In 1790, it contained twenty printing tables, and six flat presses. At that period, however, a great many women were employed to pencil on colour a method which has been entirely abandoned. About 1805, Messrs. Robert Dalglish, Falconer & Co., became tenants of the mill, which had by that time been considerably enlarged, as it contained fifty tables and eight presses. In 1810, the first surface-painting machine was erected, it being an improvement on the copper-plate press, similar to what the ”surface• was on the ”block.• Here, every fabric of cloth is printed from the finest muslin, or challis, to the coarsest calico. Kincaid field, for the bleaching and printing of cotton fabrics, was started in 1785; Glenmill bleachfield, and Lillyburn printfield, for the printing of linen and calico handkerchiefs, in 1831; the Alum work, in 1806; and a manufactory for the production of muriate of potash, and of soda ash, in 1834. With the introduction of these various industrial establishments, the population of Campsie rose rapidly from about 1785. In 1783, it was 1,627; in 1793, 2,517; in 1831, 5,109; and in 1836, 6,000.
The parish church, which occupies a commanding position near the centre of the village, was erected in 1829. It looks, however, much older, from the soft and inferior quality of the stone with which it has been built. Its style is Gothic. The Rev. Dr. Norman Macleod, previously at the clachan, was the first minister of the church; and, in 1836, was translated from this to a Gaelic charge in Glasgow. His more popular son, of the same name, who, with his Good Words, will be long and affectionately remembered, lies interred in the north-east corner of the high burial-ground; but, as yet, without any memorial. True! he needs it not.
Milton lies two miles further east. It is a hamlet where peace and industry seem united in tolerably equal proportions. Through it the Glazert passes, getting up the appearance of a very respectable stream, as it runs in a brown torrent, speckled with foam, beneath the bridge. At Birdstone, a number of English coins, of the reigns of Elizabeth, James I., and Charles I., have been found, which had probably been hid by some of the inhabitants, when forced to flee from their homes by the depredations of Montros's troops at the battle of Kilsyth.
By a viaduct, 120 feet long, the Kelvin Valley Railway crosses the Campsie and Killearn branch, and also clears the Glazert water. This railway, which was formally opened on 3rd June, 1878, is about twelve miles in length, and extends from near Maryhill, on the North British system, to Kilsyth; placing that town, by means of a loop-line near, in the direct communication with Glasgow. Strange that the directors of the ”old E & G,• carried their line to the barren heights of Croy, instead of coming up the fertile valley of the Kelvin, rich also in mineral resources. But a direct route and a dead level way between the two cities were the objects mainly contemplated.
Kilsyth Kilabhuinusith, ”church of the river of peace,• anciently Monysbrock, or Monasbrugh was founded prior to 1217. So early as 1586, Alexander Livingstone, of the family of Callendar, was parson of the parish; and, in 1599, was succeeded by his son, William, then a considerable heritor here. The first Presbyterian minister admitted was James Hay, who came from Kilmalcolm in December, 1692. The present parish church, which adjoins the old house of Kilsyth, at the west end of the town, was erected in 1816. An excellent bell was, at the same time, placed in the building by the late Sir Charles Edmonstone, but it was unfortunately broken in 1823, from the bellman having lengthened its tongue, to outpeal the neighbouring one at Kirkintilloch. A new bell, however, was ultimately supplied, which has a fine silvery tone. A tombstone, which was placed here, in 1850, by Sir Archibald Edmonstone, Baronet, of Duntreath, commemorates Jean Cochrane, Viscountess of Dundee, wife of the Honourable William Livingstone, of Kilsyth, and their infant son, who were killed, in October, 1605, by the falling in of a turf roof of a house in Holland. In 1795, the vault, over which the church at that time stood, having been accidentally opened, the bodies of Lady Dundee and her son, which had been embalmed, were found in a remarkable state of preservation.
Half a century ago, hand-loom weaving, to the order of the Glasgow manufacturers, was the principal trade of Kilsyth. But now its interests commercially are solely connected with coal and ironstone. The population of the parish in 1811 was 3,250; at present it numbers 6,313, of which 4,895 are in the town.
The antiquities in the district are the ruined walls of Colzium castle, which occupy a fine elevation immediately above the glen; an old house, in the hamlet of Arnbrae, where a room is still shown, in which Cromwell slept; and, on the east side of the romantic glen of Garrel, the Covenanter's Cave, having the date 1669 inscribed on its stone, or arch.
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