AVONDALE, a parish, in the Middle ward of the county of Lanark; containing, with the market-town of Strathaven, 6180 inhabitants. The proper name of this parish, which, from its including the market-town, has been called sometimes Strathaven, and, by contraction, Straven, is Avondale, an appellation derived from its situation on the river Avon, by which it is divided into two nearly equal parts. The barony of Avondale was anciently the property of the Baird family, and subsequently belonged to the Earl of Douglas, on whose forfeiture, in 1455, it was granted, by James III., to Andrew Stewart, whom he created Lord Avondale, and who exchanged it for the barony of Ochiltree, with Sir James Hamilton, in whose family it has ever since remained. The place has derived some historical celebrity from the defeat of the troops under General Claverhouse, at Drumclog, by a congregation of Covenanters, who had assembled there for public worship, and, anticipating an attack by the former, who were stationed at Strathaven, had provided themselves with arms for their defence. On the approach of Claverhouse, with his dragoons, the armed part of the congregation went forward to meet him, and, taking post on level ground, having before them a rivulet, over which the general had to pass, and of which the bank was, from its softness, impassable to the cavalry, defeated his forces with considerable loss, the general himself escaping with difficulty. In 1820, the place was disturbed by a few rioters, under the command of James Wilson, who, upon false intelligence that a rebellion against the government had broken out in Glasgow, marched thither to join the insurgents; but they were instantly dispersed, and their leader, who was made prisoner, was brought to the scaffold, and suffered the penalty of his rebellion.
   The parish comprises about 32,000 acres, of which 15,000 are arable, and the remainder, with the exception of some tracts of moss and marsh land, formerly more extensive, is in pasture. The surface is generally level, rising gently from the banks of the river towards the south and west, and partially intersected with ridges and small hills, of which the highest, towards the borders of Ayrshire, scarcely attain an elevation of more than 900 feet above the sea. Of these, the most prominent are, Kype's rigg, and Hawkwood and Dungivel hills, with the picturesque but smaller eminences of Floors hills and Kirkhill. The Avon, which rises on the confines of Ayrshire, in its course through the parish receives numerous tributary streams, of which the chief are, the Cadder and Pomilion on the north, and the Givel, the Lochan, and the Kype, on the south; the waters of the Kype, about a mile to the south of the town, are precipitated from a height of nearly fifty feet, forming an interesting fall, and in all these streams trout is abundant. Salmon were formerly found in the Avon, even at its source; but latterly, their progress upward has been intercepted. The scenery of the parish, though destitute of ornamental wood, is pleasingly varied, and, in many parts, picturesque.
   The soil is generally fertile; the chief crops are, oats and barley, with some wheat; potatoes are also raised in great quantities, and are sold for seed; but, though the soil is extremely favourable for turnips, they are not much cultivated. There are numerous dairy-farms, and the pastures throughout the parish are luxuriant; great numbers of cows, principally of the Ayrshire breed, are pastured here, and there are, at present, not less than 2000 acres of undivided common. Many improvements have been made in draining; and the whole of Strathaven moss, comprising above 200 acres of unprofitable land, has been reclaimed, affording more valuable crops than any other portion of the parish. The rateable annual value of the parish is £24,785. Whinstone abounds, as does also ironstone; and limestone is found in several parts, and burnt for manure; coal is also found in the neighbourhood of the limekilns, in considerable quantity, and of a quality sufficient for burning the lime, but not adapted to household use. The moors abound with grouse and other game, and the Duke of Hamilton has an extensive tract of pasture land for sheep, which is kept for grouse shooting; partridges are also numerous in the lower lands, and plovers and wild ducks are every where abundant. The parish is in the presbytery of Hamilton and synod of Glasgow and Ayr, and in the patronage of the Duke of Hamilton; the minister's stipend is £305. 2. 6., with a manse, and the glebe is valued at £24 per annum. There is also an assistant minister, appointed by his grace, to whom a stipend of 500 marks is paid, according to the will of a late duchess; he visits the sick, and catechises the parishioners. The church, erected in 1772, is a plain edifice, with an unfinished spire, and much too small for the population, being adapted for a congregation only of 800 persons. Under the auspices of the present minister, an additional church has been erected, at an expense of £1400, for 900 persons, to which a district called East Strathaven has been assigned, and which is supplied by a minister appointed by the congregation. There is a place of worship for members of the Associate Seceding Synod, and there are two for members of the Relief Church. The parochial school affords an efficient education; the master's salary is £34. 4. 4., with £36 from the fees, and a good house and garden. There is also a parochial school for East Strathaven. Some remains of a Roman road may be traced on the south side of the river Avon, passing by the farm of Walesley; and on the lands of Gennerhill, small coins and Roman sandals have been discovered. Roman coins have also been recently found on the lands of Torfoot, near Loudoun hill, supposed to have been the line of the Romans, in their route through the Caledonian forest, towards the western coast.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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