Amongst the Macfarlane Manuscripts published by the Scottish History Society in 1906 is an interesting glimpse into the parish written around 1725. The notes in brackets are part of the original transcript.

Minnigaff Parish around the year 1725

Description of the Paroch of Minigaff, as it is bounded with its extent and divisions by particular heritors, and how they lye contiguous to one another, with severall seats of those who are resident Heritors the situation of its church, the course of its rivers, brooks and lakes with what fish they produce.

The paroch as its situate, runs in length from S. to N. for near 15 mile, the church being situate within 3 mile of the southermost part of it, upon a pleasant rising ground, which overlooks the country for a good distance at the confluence of the River Cree and water of Polkill. The village of Minygaff being situate at the foot of Polkill in a low ground hard by the church, there being an artificiall moat, which by tradition hath been handed down to posterity, as being at first contrived for sacrificing to Jupiter and the heathen gods, and when Christianity obtained, it was used as a Mercat place for the inhabitants to meet and do business, till such time as villages were erected, and places of entertainment prepared and ale-houses for converse, intertainment and interviews.

The river Cree bounds the west side from its conflux with Polneur water to Loch moan from whence it has its rise (as the ministers description has it, from the furthest extent of this paroch to Lochmoan) which is the boundary on that quarter, the Paroch of Penninghame lying contiguous to it, on the other side of the river, till it is cutt out by the Paroch of Colmonell up the river.

On the Minigaff side, the Barony of Garlies is extended to the forsaid Lake and and gives title to the eldest son of the Honourable family of Galloway and is divided by the water of Minnock, which joyns the river Cree at a gentlemans seat belonging to a cadet of the family. This small river has its spring in the Baloch mountains continuing its course till it comes here, running thro the midle of that Barony, till it is cut out on the east side by the small water of Troul, which is a boundary on the west side to the Barony of the Forrest belonging to John McKye of Palgown in which stands the famous mountain of the Mearock which overlooks all the other mountains for hight, on the east side whereof are the lakes of Lochenoch, Lochnildricken and Lochwachlan and has its boundary on the N. the paroch of Collmonel (B. Cammonel) and Straiton on the E. Carsfairn paroch and the Kells, being a ground wholly fitt for pasturage.

This Barony of the Forrest or Buchan has on the S. the Loch of Troul, where the said Palgown has a seat overlooked by a mountain on the north, betwixt which and the Lake the house is very pleasantly seated, the Lake appearing like a large pond under the house well stocked with pikes, there being a prodigious number of large oak trees, (all lying a cross one another M. D.) lying in its bottom that within the opposite mountains on the other side, one would be astonished (in a clear day M. D) to think where they came from.

The house is surrounded with pretty groves of Scots Pines black cherries, and other kinds of planting, which make a fine umbello to the house and from the front a walk down to the lake which enters upon a little mole prettely planted in devices with seats and a beautifull litle boat lodg'd ther under a shade for taking pleasure in a fine day upon the water.

This Barony produces the best sheep of any part of this paroch and sold in the mercats at very good prices and so inclosed and divided for the orderly improvment of the sheep and black cattle, that the whole farmers of these grounds have considerable advantage therby to the inriching of ther families.
In the remote parts of this great mountain are very large Red Deer & about the top therof that fine bird called the mountain Patridge or by the commonalty the Tarmachan about the size of a Red Cock and its flesh much of the same nature, feeds as that bird doth, on the seeds of the bullrush and makes its protection in the chinks and hollow places of thick stones from the insults of the eagles, which are in plenty both the large gray & the black about that mountain. (This paragr. wanting in M. D.)

On the south side of this Lake joyns the Barony of Garlies, and takes up a long extent of ground, most part mountainous and is confined by Heron of that Ilk. his ground on the N.E. part and then by the water of Polkill which has its spring in these mountains, running 4 or 5 miles till it joyns with Cree river near the church of Minigaff a small ground of Herons (viz. the artificial mote spoke of above) lying betwixt it and the church.

In the Barony of Garlies is a very large extent of ground all very fitt for pasturage, having on the Cree side a very long tract of fine wood growing along the side of the river, where it forms itself into a Lake called the Loch of Cree, at the head of which there is a famous house of a most beautifull situation, occasioned by the Islands in that Lake and garnishing of woods on each side and on the river the Earl has a leap for salmond and a corn milne having no other Heritors estate mixing with it but only ane gentleman of the name of McKie a cadet of the family of Palgown called Doncaird, whose lands ly on the water of Minnock.

On the other side of the Barony of Garlies, lyes the antient seat of the Steuarts of Garlies; They were antiently called Thanes of Dalswinton (M. D. Garlies) before they got this Barony by a gift from the King before the soveraign advanced them to the dignity of nobility. And it is to be remembred at a house called the Caldons that remarkable scuffle hapned between the mountaniers and Coll. Douglas, at which time Captain Orchar, (I think it should be Urquhart) was killed, there was one particular worth the noticing, that when two of these people were attacked, they got behind the stone dyke with their pieces cocked for their defence. Upon their coming up at them marching very unconcernedly, one of their peices went off and killed Captain Orchar dead, the other peice designed against Douglas wou’d not go off nor fire for all the man could do, by which the Coll. afterwards General Douglas escaped the danger.

There were six of the mountaneers killed and no more of the Kings forces but one Dragoon. One of these poor people escaped very wonderfully of the name of Dinn or Dun two of the dragoons pursued him so closely, that he saw no way for escape, but at last flying in towards the Lake, the top of a little hill intercepted the soldiers view he immediatly did drop into the water all under the brae of the lake, but the head, a heath bush covering his head where he got breath, the pursuer cryed out when he could not find him, that the devil had taken him away. That morning Captain Orchar had that expression, that being so angry with the badness of the way, he wished the devil might make his ribs a broiling iron to his soul if he should not be revenged on the Whiggs that day, which was the Sabbath morning he entred the Glen of Troul, and according to his wish, came upon these poor people, as they were worshiping God upon his day with a surprizing crueltie.

The church in this paroch stands most pleasantly on a rising ground where Cree and Polkill meet, commanding a pleasant prospect to the sea along the river, being invironed with Herons land and at the bottom of this rising ground on the E. side of Polkill stands the village of Minnigaff with a handsome now ruinous house overlooking the village near to which stands Herons house, upon a rising ground with a prospect to the sea and overlooks a great part of the adjacent country, his lands extending eastward for two miles and then bounded by the water of Polneur, reaching alongst it, near to three miles, the lands nearest it being all covered with woods, with fine openings of medow grounds and cornfields as ye go along it, the ground next Herons house being all devided and adorned with large thickets of fir and other planting.

At the foot of his avenue is that large and pleasant plain called the Green of Machirmore where that famous battle betwixt the Romans and Picts confederates on one side, and the Scots on the other was fought vide Buchan, in vita Eugenij primi the author of the Manuscript gives the whole.

Mr Heron one day making pitts for a plantation of firs in that plain, was persuaded by a friend standing by him, to open a large mount of earth standing in the midle of the ground, and to take the old earth to put into the pitts to encourage his trees to take and upon the opening of it, found it to be a Roman urn the top of the mount was all covered over with a strong clay half yard deep, under which ther was half a yard deep of gray ashes and under that there was an inch thick of a scurff like mug mettall, brancolour'd, which took a stroak of the pick ax to break it, under which the workmen found a double wall built circularways, about a yard deep, full of red ashes like those of a great furnace when these were taken out, at the bottom there was a large flag stone six foot long and three broad, covering a pitt of a yard deepth and when they hoised up the stone, they observed the bones of a large man lying entire, but when they struck upon the stone to break it, they fell down in ashes, ther was nothing more found in it. There is above a dozen of a great heaps of stones detached over the plain, in which were found several urns, but none so memorable as this : And where the Scots got that finishing stroak at Lochdoon, there is a prodigious cairn erected all of gathered stones to cover the dead.

Half a mile from Herons house eastwards stands the ruins of the old seat of the McKies of Larg, one of the three families of Comloddan founded by K. Rob. Bruce, at the conlusion of his wars, as ye shall hear hereafter, now in Herons possession and has a good salmond fishing on the water of Cree.

Down the river, about a mile from the church, lye the lands belonging to Dunbar of Machermore who has a very agreable seat & a castle standing pleasantly upon the river with a large plott of fine fir planting overlooking a rich ink ground that lyes twixt the castle and the river with a good salmond fishing his estate for the most part lying along the east side of river Cree (which there imitates the windings of the River Forth and the ground that of the Carse of Stirling) for two miles untill it terminates upon the water of Polneur where it unites with Cree and on the N. (& E.) with Herons land.

From the church N.E. lye the lands of Murdoch of Comloddan, beginning at the bridge of Polkill ¼ of a mile above the church, and running along the east side of that water, till it come where Polkill takes its rise and is situate twixt that and Polneur all the way on the west side of the last water, till it comes to Tonotrie a ground of Machirmores in which there is some lead found but in no great quantity. Which house keeps a change (the publick road to Edr. & Glasgow passing that way) with another change house further on that water belonging to Heron called Craigdens, by which there is a beautifull cascade, as is to be seen in the country, being a large fall of water, as it were out of a tunnell 14 foot high into a prodigious large bason, which causeth a murmuring noise at a great distance, and over the cascade is a very high rock covered over with variety of ever greens and other shrubs, all overlooking the cascade, which makes the place very cool and a very desirable amusement to the curious.

This gentleman’s ground is likewise devided by a ground of Heron's called Drighmirn & Polnie by a brook till ye come to Lochdie, which is a place where the water of Die takes its beginning, and on the top of Polnie mountain, there is a famous deep lake, of good extent, well stocked with salmond trouts.

Mr Murdochs seat stands about two mile off the church upon the water of Polkill in a wood with a good house and Orchards with a leap for catching of fish naturally in a rock which goes throw the water, his estate is all good pasture ground. This is the only family that exists, (if it may be said to exist, when the estate is sold and the gentleman bankrupt) of the three brothers, who were honored by K. Rob. Bruce to be proprietors of the thirty pound land of Comloddon, the manner they acquired it was this.

King Robert being by a part of the English army defeat in Carick, fled into the head of Lochdie to a few of his broken partie and lodging in a widows house in Craigencallie, in the morning she observing some of his princely ornaments, suspected him to be a person of eminence and modestly asked him in the morning if he was her Leidge Lord, he told her yes, and was come to pay her a visit, and asked her if she had any sone to serve him in his distress her answer was that she had three sons to three severall husbands : and that if she was confirmed in the truth of his being ther sovereign, they should be at his service he askt her farther if she could give him any thing to eat, her answer was there was litle in the house but Agust meal and goats milk which should be prepared for him, and while it was making ready, her three sons did appear all lusty men, the King ask them if they wou’d chearfully engage in his service which they willingly assented to, and when the King had done eating, he askt them what weapons they had, and if they could use them, they told him they were used to none but bow and arrow ; So as the King went out to see what was become of his followers, all being beat from him but 300 men, who had lodged that night in a neighbouring glen, he askt them if they could make use of their bows. McKie the eldest son let fly an arrow at two ravens parching upon the pinacle of a rock above the house; and shot them thro both their heads, at which the King smiled saying I would not wish he aimed at him : Murdoch the second son let fly at one upon the wing and shot him thro the body, but McLurg the 3d son had not so good success.

In the meantime the English upon the pursuit of K. Robert were incamped in Moss Raploch a great flow on the other side of Die the King observing them, makes the young men understand that his forces were much inferior, upon which they advised the King to a stratagem, that they would gather all the horses wild and tame in the neighbourhood with all the goats that cou'd be found and let them surrounded and keept all in a body by his soldiers in the afternoon of the day which accordingly was done the neighing of the horses with the horns of the goats, made the English at so great a distance apprehend them to be a great army, so durst not venture out of their camp that night, and by the break of day, the King with his small army attacked them with such fury that they fled precipitantly a great number being killed ; and ther is a very big stone in the center of the flow, which is called the Kings stone to this day, to which he leaned his back, till his men gathered up the spoil ; and within these thirty yeares there were broken swords and heads of Picks got in the flow as they were digging out peats.

The three young men followed close to him in all his wars to the English, in which he was succesfull, that at last they were all turn’d out of the kingdom, and marches established twixt the two nations and the soldiers and officers that followed him were put in possession of what lands were in the English hands according to ther merite. The three brothers who had stuck closs to the Kings interest and followed him thro all dangers, being askt by the King what reward they expected. Answered very modestly that they never had a prospect of great things, but if his Majesty would bestow upon them the thirty pound land of the Hassock and Comloddan, they wou'd be very thankfull to which the King chearfully assented, and they kept it long in possession. The line of McLurgs first failing in ane male, matched with one Captain Heron, a second brother of Sir Cuthbert Heron of Chipchase in Northumberland, and was called Comloddan, Heron, McClurg till this day, the McDonals of Fisgaill broke in at last upon a part of the estate, upon which Peter built the Castle of Machermore, it went from him to a cadet of the Dunbars of Entriken.

[M. D. says nothing of Herons marying the heiress of McClurg only that it failed first and went into the hands of the McDonals who kept it a long time, and says the eldest brothers family is now in a great measure extinct, only that branch remaining of the McKies of Palgown, the estate of Larg is now in the possession of Heron of that Ilk]

Murdoch the second brother is the only family that has continued in the name lineally. The eldest assumed for coat of arms, two raven proper upon a chief argent, with an arrow thro both their heads gules the field gules. Murdoch carrys argent on a chief gules a raven volant proper with an arrow thro his body of the second, the farthest extent of this gentlemans estate terminates upon Lochdie, from whence the water of Die runs, being a great lake full of pyks and ane excellent fish called a salmond trout, being red in the fish and the sides all enamuled with red spots.

The lowest part of the paroch is now in possession of David Maxwell son to Coll. William Maxwell of Cardiness and Andrew Heron of Bargally [author of this description but is now dead] that which has its termination upon Girchfron and Kirkmabrieck belongs to M r Maxwell being a small barony called Bardrochwood lying on the water of Polneur, near to whose foot is a bridge of one arch, all garnished with wood for a mile alongst the river and had a little convenient house upon it now in ruines but Mr Maxwell has built at Greddock three miles S. of the church a pretty little house and garden, his land extends to the top of Cairnsmuire mountain all good pasture and some cornland.

Bargally the possession of Mr Heron lyes S. of the church two miles and half, above these lands, closs upon the river for a mile and half most part whereof is garnished with wood, alongst the river, of a considerable value. The land extends to Cairnsmure, whereunto the greatest part of that mountain belongs, where there is good store of Bristol stone of divers colours, very well cutt naturally very large red deer with plenty of Mountain patridges & other Muir fowl having a convenient litle house upon the water side with orchards and other amusements very agreeable to a country gentleman with great variety of excellent fruits of all kinds the climate will produce [dispence it] and a great many evergreens both foreign and exotick [I suppose he means Domestick but the ministers description designed for Mr Maitland & which is a very incorrect copy of Bargallys, has it Exotick]

Our present minister is Mr Thomas Campbell who maried a sister of Murdoch of Comloddan now deceast, he has by her severall sons and daughters.

Thus far Andrew Heron of Bargally Esquire uncle to the present Heron of that Ilk who is now in possession of that estate. What follows is added by the minister to be sent to Mr Maitland.

The paroch of Minigaff lyes in the county of Galloway and Steuartry of Kirkcudbright divided from the shire of Galloway by the river Cree, some of the head of the paroch is bounded by Carrick in Airshire. The catechisable persons are about 900. The King is Patron of the paroch.

The ministers stipend is about - - - merks Scots which is paid mostly by the Heritors the manse was built a few years ago, and the gleeb is both little and bad. The church lately repaired is a long edifice from East to W. and neither in it or the churchyard are there any monuments worth notice, [there are some stones on the two gates of the churchyard with some proper inscriptions from the Psalms and a Dyal in the midle of the churchyard, all done with Bargallys own hand, but by the by, he is not buried here, for he erected a stately tomb in his own garden some years before his death, with his own and Ladys arms and other decorements, where they both are buried]

The greatest part of the paroch is mountainous and so fittest for pasturage, but what cultivate and much more might be cultivate produces very good grain ; but black cattle & sheep are the produce of the country on which they in shire and steuartry live more plentifully than any communality in Scotland having alwise flesh once a day. Their fewall is peats turff and wood.

There are no remarkable harbours, tho ships of 50 or 60 tuns may come up to Machermore.

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