A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain Vol 6. By Rev. Clement Cruttwell. Published in London 1801.

Of Kirkcudbright, my predecessors say, that though the situation is extremely convenient for carrying on a very advantageous commerce, we saw nothing but a harbour without ships, a port without trade, and a fishery without nets.

It is composed of what formerly constituted three distinct parishes, called Dunrod, Galtway, and Kirkcudbright, and the different church-yards yet remain as burial places. It is situated on the river Dee, and the harbour is safe with good anchorage, and sheltered from all winds; but being a tide harbour, is only fit for vessels which can take the ground. At the mouth is a small island called Little Ross; about 200 or 300 yards north-east of this island lies the proper road for vessels to anchor, where they ride in perfect safety; the wind sets in violently from south-west by south to south-south-east. In this road the depth at low water is sixteen feet, and forty at high water.

It is the head borough of the Stewartry, where the courts of justice are held, and the public records kept. It was anciently a burgh of regality, and held of the Douglasses, lords of Galloway, as superiors. . On the forfeiture of the earl of Douglas, last lord of Galloway, in 1455, it was by James II. erected into a royal burgh; and is now governed by a provost, three bailies, and town-council.

There are twenty-eight brigs and sloops belonging to the port and district, employed in foreign trade, as coasters, or in fishing.

In the environs are many traces of ancient camps, British and Roman, and the remains of a battery erected by William III. when his fleet lay wind bound in this bay, as he was going to raise the siege of Londonderry.

Here was an ancient castle belonging to the Dowals, lords of Galloway, when Galloway was a regality independent of the kingdom of Scotland. This easily descended with the other property of the lords of Galloway, to Dervongilda, heiress of Allan, the last lord of that regality, and was afterwards annexed to the crown, till James IV. by a charter, dated at Edinburgh, 26th of February, 1509, granted it, together with the castle mains, to the burgh of Kirkcudbright. The mounts and dikes of this castle are still remaining. By its situation it evidently appears to have been constructed to defend the entrance of the river Dee.

In the town of Kirkcudbright, and probably in this castle, king Edward resided some days, when on his expedition to the siege of Caerlaverock, in the year 1300.

Kirkcudbright castle also afforded a temporary refuge to the unfortunate king Henry VI. after the battle of Towton. King James IV. of Scotland was in Kirkcudbright in March, 1508 : the tradition is, that he was hospitably entertained there, and that the burgh claimed a reward for their services to James II. and to himself, whereupon he, with consent of parliament, granted them the old castle and mains.

Two miles from Kirkcudbright, on Solway Frith, is Dunrennan abbey, founded by Fergus, lord of Galloway, in the year 1142. The monks thereof were of the Cistertian order, brought from Rieval in England. The last abbot hereof was Edward Maxwell, son to John lord Herries, after whose death king James VI. annexed this place to his royal chapel of Sterling. The Chronicle of Melross is thought to have been written by an abbot of this monastery. The first part thereof is certainly penned by an Englishman, and is a continuation of Bede's history; the second part appears to have been written by a Scotsman, familiar and contemporary with our Stuarts.

This monastery, as is evident from its ruins, was once both a beautiful and extensive pile, but is now miserably dilapidated. Hither the unfortunate queen Mary was escorted from Terregles by the lord Herries, and from hence she is said to have set out for England.

Two miles to the south of Kirkcudbright is St. Mary's Isle, the beautiful seat of the earl of Selkirk, on the site of an ancient priory, which was founded in the reign of David I. by Fergus lord of Galloway. No vestiges of the monastery remain.