Ruthven - Ruthwell

A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. Originally published by S Lewis, London, 1846.

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Samuel Lewis, 'Ruthven - Ruthwell', in A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland( London, 1846), British History Online [accessed 20 July 2024].

Samuel Lewis, 'Ruthven - Ruthwell', in A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland( London, 1846), British History Online, accessed July 20, 2024,

Samuel Lewis. "Ruthven - Ruthwell". A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. (London, 1846), , British History Online. Web. 20 July 2024.

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RUTHVEN, a parish, in the county of Forfar, 3 miles (N.) from Meigle; containing, with the hamlets of Balbirnie, Barberswells, Bridgend, and Whins, 471 inhabitants. This place was for many generations the seat of the Crichton family, of whose ancient baronial castle, however, there are but few remains: the family becoming extinct in 1742, the lands were purchased by Thomas Ogilvy, Esq., whose descendant, Peter Wedderburn Ogilvy, Esq., was the late proprietor. The parish, which is pleasantly situated on the north side of the vale of Strathmore, near the base of the Grampian hills, is about two miles in length and nearly of equal breadth; and comprises an area of 2034 acres, of which 1336 are arable, 452 woodland and plantations, and the remainder meadow and pasture land. The surface, which has a gentle declivity towards the south, is diversified with some inconsiderable eminences, whereof one is called Gallow hill; and is watered by the river Isla, which, after forming for some distance its northern boundary, intersects the remainder of the parish, and, passing under an ancient and picturesque bridge of two arches on the road from Blairgowrie to Kirriemuir, and falling from some ledges of broken rock, descends into a wide pool which towards the south divides into two streams, inclosing an island of about six acres in extent. This river abounds with small trout and par, and occasionally with salmon. The soil is generally a light loam resting on a substratum of gravel; the crops are, oats, barley, for which the soil is especially adapted, turnips, and potatoes. The system of agriculture is improved; bone-dust and guano are extensively used as manure, and the rotation system of husbandry is prevalent: the lands have been drained and inclosed; the farm-buildings, which are chiefly of modern erection, are substantial and well arranged; and considerable attention is paid to the rearing of cattle, and the feeding of sheep on turnips. The woodlands consist chiefly of oak, of which extensive copses are found on the banks of the Isla; and the plantations are of larch and Scotch fir. The prevailing scenery is of pleasing character, and in some parts beautifully picturesque: the upper lands command fine views of the surrounding country. The substratum is of the old red sandstone formation, with a few pebbles of quartz, and some very slight traces of organic remains; freestone of excellent quality is found, and quarried to a moderate extent. The rateable annual value of the parish is £1457. Ruthven House, the seat of Mrs. Ogilvy, is a handsome modern mansion pleasantly situated on the Isla, near the site of the ancient castle, which, having become ruinous, was taken down many years since.

There is no village properly so called. The spinning of flax was introduced soon after the commencement of the present century, and two extensive mills have been built for that purpose on the banks of the Isla, in which together about 180 persons are employed, in connexion with the linen manufacturers of Dundee: on the same river are mills for meal and corn, two threshing-mills, and a saw-mill. Facility of communication is afforded by convenient roads, of which that from Blairgowrie to Kirriemuir passes through the parish; and by the Dundee and Newtyle railway, on which there is a station within five miles, whence coal and other requisite articles are brought for the supply of the parish, and to which corn and other agricultural produce are conveyed, to be forwarded to Dundee and shipped for the London market. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Meigle and synod of Angus and Mearns. The minister's stipend is £150, of which nearly three-fourths are paid from the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe valued at £25 per annum: patron, the Crown. The church, an ancient structure, is, according to some accounts, supposed to have been erected by an earl of Crawfurd as a chapel for his tenants of the barony of Inverquiech, and subsequently obtained by the proprietors of Ruthven, and appropriated as a parish church for their barony. The parochial school is well conducted; the master has a salary of £30, with a house and garden, and the fees average about £15. On the south-west side of the parish were lately the remains of an intrenchment called Castle-Dykes, probably once a safe retreat in times of danger; the ramparts were of earth, and had been apparently very strong; and part of the fosse by which they were surrounded was traceable. During the wars in the reign of Edward of England, a battle is said to have taken place in the vicinity of the parish; and on the south side of the vale of Strathmore are some remains of a camp occupied by the English, and thence called Ingleston, or English town. Stone coffins containing fragments of human bones have been dug up; and there are several cairns.


RUTHVENFIELD, a village, in the parish of Tibbermore, county of Perth; containing 425 inhabitants. This is one of the only two villages in the parish, which formerly contained several others, now no more. The village of Ruthvenfield is the seat of a considerable printing establishment, occupying one of the waterfalls on the Lead stream: this waterfall, about sixty years ago, was employed in turning an oil-mill, the premises belonging to which were subsequently converted into bleachingworks, and more recently into a printfield. After some time, the works in this last branch of business lay dormant; but in 1830 they were commenced anew by the present proprietors, Messrs. Duncan, from Glasgow; and now nearly 2,000,000 yards are printed here, in every variety of style, for the home and foreign markets, employing about 360 persons, of whom one-half are men and the rest women and children. At Huntingtowerfield, the other village, is a large bleaching establishment.


RUTHWELL, a parish, in the county of Dumfries; containing, with the village of Clarencefield, 1032 inhabitants, of whom 162 are in the village of Ruthwell, 7½ miles (W. by N.) from Annan. This parish was called Ryval in the 14th century, in a charter by Thomas Randolph, Earl of Murray, to his nephew, Sir William Murray; and the appellation is continued in all the charters to Sir William's descendants. Ruthwell, most probably corrupted from Ruthwald, or Rithwald, is a more modern name, and appears to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon Rith, "a rivulet," and Weald or Wald, "a woody place;" terms descriptive of the locality through which a rivulet passes contiguous to the church and village, and in which there are extensive natural woods. Few events of historical importance are recorded; but the parish was formerly remarkable as containing the castle of Comlongan, for many generations the residence of the Murrays, of Cockpool, a family of great eminence in Annandale. Some of them were wardens of the western border; and Cuthbert Murray, of Cockpool, was one of the commanders of the army which defeated the Duke of Albany and the Earl of Douglas, when they invaded Scotland in 1483. John Murray, a younger son of the family, having acquired a large estate, as well in Scotland as in England and Ireland, was created Earl of Annandale by James VI., and afterwards resided in the castle of Comlongan; but the family and title becoming extinct upon the death of his son without issue, in 1658, Lord Stormont succeeded to a considerable part of the property. His descendant, Viscount Stormont, in 1792 became second Earl of Mansfield; and from him the present earl, who is the principal landowner, descended in a right line. At Cockpool, also, was an old castle, situated about half a mile from Comlongan, and where the family frequently resided. It may likewise be observed, as throwing light on the history of the parish, that at a place called Kirkstyle was in ancient times a commandery belonging to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, where they had a place of worship and a burying-ground. The order also possessed property to a great extent in the neighbourhood, which, when the society was abolished, came into the hands of the Murrays. There are still some tombs in the churchyard, on which the insignia and arms of the knights are cut.

The parish is about five and a half miles long and two and a half broad. It contains 8420 acres, and is bounded on the north by Dalton parish; on the south by the Solway Frith and the river Lochar, which stream divides it from Caerlaverock; on the east by Cummertrees; on the west by Caerlaverock; and on the northwest by Mouswald. The surface is in general flat and uninteresting, the highest land not rising more than eighty or ninety feet above the level of the sea. The sea has receded from the shore in late times; so that at low water the tide is almost out of sight, and at high water falls short of a large space which it once covered, and which now consists of extensive tracts of green merse. The beach is low, and formed of clayey sand which runs for several miles into the Frith, and is known in the locality by the name of "sleetch." At the confluence of the Lochar with the sea, some salmon are taken with stake-nets; and cod, skate, and herrings, with very fine flounders, are caught off the coast. The soil varies considerably in different places, consisting sometimes of a shallow sandy mould which requires good manuring and cultivation to render it fertile, and in a large proportion of the parish being a strong gravelly earth. On the low ground near the sea, and on the banks of the Lochar, it partakes of clay mixed with sand, and is the same kind of soil as that upon which the extensive Lochar moss, to the north, rests. Shellmarl also exists in the parish; but the expense of working it has rendered it hitherto unavailable to agricultural purposes. About 5500 acres are either cultivated or occasionally in tillage; 1400 acres are in moss; 520 under wood; and a number of acres, now subject to floodings by the tide, are being converted by embankments into good arable land. All kinds of grain and green crops are grown, and the most improved system of husbandry is followed; the farm buildings and inclosures, however, are in a very indifferent state. The cattle are the black Galloways; the sheep consist of the black-faced, with some Cheviots. Considerable tracts of moss have lately been reclaimed on some of the farms; and large portions of marshy ground, by good draining and judicious cultivation, have been also brought into tillage. Some land, too, has been recovered along the shore of the Frith; but the quantity is inconsiderable in comparison with the extent capable of being added to the productive soil of the parish. The principal rock is coarse limestone, which was once extensively worked; but its use is now superseded by the superior lime obtained from Kelhead, only about four miles distant. The rateable annual value of Ruthwell is £3636.

There are two small villages, Ruthwell and Clarencefield: the former was made a burgh of barony by charter of James VI. to Sir John Murray, of Cockpool, in 1509, with the privilege, now neglected, of holding fairs and markets. Large quantities of salt were formerly made upon the coast by filtration, the parish enjoying exemption from the duty under a grant to them by James VI.; but this manufacture was discontinued when the saltduty was abolished. A few strangers visit Ruthwell for the benefit of the sea air, bathing, and mineral waters. The great turnpike-road from Dumfries to Annan and Carlisle runs through the parish; a coach till lately passed and repassed daily. At the junction of the Lochar with the Frith is a creek into which small vessels enter with coal from the opposite coast of Cumberland. The ecclesiastical affairs are subject to the presbytery of Annan and synod of Dumfries; patron, the Earl of Mansfield. The stipend of the minister is £263, with a manse, about 100 years old, but which has received within the present century some enlargement and repairs: the glebe consists of thirty-six acres, worth thirty or thirty-five shillings per acre. The church, an ancient edifice, was formerly a very indifferent building thatched with heath, but has been greatly altered and improved, and is now in good condition; it contains 420 sittings. The members of the Free Church have no place of worship. There are two parochial schools, in one of which are taught the classics, mathematics, and French, with the usual branches of education; the master has a salary of £34. 4., with a house, and about £45 fees. In the other school only the branches of a plain education are taught; the master has between £8 and £9 salary, £4 fees, and Candlemas gifts. In the parish are also maintained a good parochial library, two friendly societies, and a savings' bank.

The antiquities are very interesting. There are yet to be seen the remains of the old castle at Cockpool, already noticed as a seat of the Murrays; but their chief residence was the castle of Comlongan, a place of great strength before the union of the crowns. It is sixty feet square and ninety feet high, with battlements, and port-holes in the walls, which are of sufficient thickness to admit of small apartments within them. The most celebrated relic of antiquity, however, is an obelisk in the churchyard, which appears to have been eighteen feet high, bearing numerous ornaments of a scriptural character, and Runic and Roman inscriptions. The traditional account of it is, that it was set up at a place called Priestside, near the sea, in very early times, in order to assist the common people, by sensible images, to receive religious instruction; and that it was subsequently removed to the church. Here it remained, and was held in great veneration, till the Reformation, after which it was thrown down as a relic of idolatry. Some time since, in digging a deep grave, an upper portion of the monument was discovered, on which is represented part of the image of the Deity, with an Agnus Dei in his bosom; and on the reverse are two human figures in the act of embracing. The only large fragment of the column which seems to be irretrievably lost, is that which contained the transverse arms of the cross, and which may probably have been much shattered by the fall when the whole was thrown down, or may have been entirely destroyed by the zeal of the agents of the General Assembly. There is a chalybeate spring at Brow, not far from the junction of the Lochar with the Frith; near which is a stone table where it is said that Lord Stormont, father of the celebrated Earl of Mansfield, sat with his son, and drank to his health, when about to quit his native land for the English bar.