ROW, a parish, in the county of Dumbarton, 12 miles (W. N. W.) from Dumbarton; containing, with nearly the whole of the late quoad sacra parish of Helensburgh, and the villages of Gareloch-Head and Row, 3717 inhabitants, of whom 226 are in the village of Row. This place is said to have derived its name, in the Gaelic spelled Rhue, and signifying "a point," from a narrow slip or tongue of land which projects from its south-western coast nearly into the centre of the Gareloch, and from the extremity of which is a ferry to Roseneath, on the opposite shore. The lands at an early period formed part of the territories of the earls of Lennox, of whose baronial residence, the castle of Faslane, the foundations may still be partly traced among the copse-wood with which the site has been long overgrown. That part of the parish extending from the shore of the Gareloch to Glenfruin was given by Alwyn, the second earl of Lennox, to his younger son, Amelec, in the 12th century, and regularly descended to his great-grandson, Walter, who became the representative of the family. According to tradition, Wallace, after he had ravaged Dumbarton, and set fire to the castle of Roseneath, being closely pursued by his enemies, leaped into the Gareloch, and, swimming to the opposite shore, was hospitably entertained in the castle of Faslane by Earl Malcolm. From the accession of the Faslane branch of the family to the lordship of Lennox, little of the history of the castle is known; it appears to have been suffered to fall into decay, and the lands attached to it seem to have been gradually granted on lease, in small portions, to several of the vassals. These lands subsequently were occupied by the chiefs of the clans of the Macfarlanes, Macaulays, and Colquhouns; and during the greater part of the 15th and 16th centuries, the district was the scene of continued conflicts between these and the rival clans of the Macgregors, Campbells, Camerons, and others. In 1603, a sanguinary battle took place in Glenfruin, between Alister Macgregor with 400 of his vassals, and Alexander Colquhoun assisted by some of the neighbouring lairds and the citizens of Dumbarton: it terminated in the defeat of the latter, who with much difficulty effected his escape, leaving 140 of his men dead on the field. On this occasion the Macgregors carried off 600 head of cattle, 800 sheep and goats, and 280 horses. The clan was, however, soon afterwards suppressed by the arm of the law, and the whole race proscribed; their children were driven into exile, and their very name extinguished. Nor were these severe penalties relaxed till towards the close of the 18th century. The clans Macfarlane and Macaulay, also, gradually became less powerful, and finally unable to levy contributions on the neighbouring estates; while on the other hand, the Colquhouns, of Luss, who were increasing in influence, obtained possession of all the lands in the parish, which, with the exception only of the Ardincaple estate, are still the property of Sir James Colquhoun, Bart.
   The parish is bounded on the north-west by Loch Long, on the south-west by the Gareloch, and on the south by the Frith of Clyde; and is about sixteen miles in length, and nearly four miles in mean breadth, comprising rather more than 40,000 acres, of which the relative proportions of arable and pasture have not been distinctly ascertained. The surface is hilly and mountainous, rising from the shore of the Frith in two continuous ridges increasing in height towards the north, and between which lies the beautiful vale of Glenfruin. The western ridge, extending along the shores of the Gareloch and Loch Long, is partly cultivated, but chiefly covered with heath interspersed with plantations; and attains at the highest point, the hill of Finnart, an elevation of 2500 feet above the level of the sea. The eastern ridge, which stretches along the border of the adjacent parish of Luss for several miles, terminates in the western range at the head of Glenfruin; its mean elevation is perhaps superior to that of the western ridge, but its acclivities and summit are nevertheless clothed with verdure, affording excellent pasture for sheep and cattle. The strath of Glenfruin, of which the name is supposed to signify "the cold glen" or the "glen of sorrow," is about five miles in length, and varies from one quarter to three-quarters of a mile in breadth. With the exception of a little copse-wood towards the south, and a few spots of plantation, it is destitute of timber; and though the soil in some parts is tolerably fertile, it has been but little cultivated. Still, in all its natural wildness, it displays many features of romantic beauty. There are no rivers in the parish, properly so called; the only stream of importance is a small rivulet which flows through Glenfruin, and, after a course of about seven miles, falls into Loch Lomond, in the parish of Luss. Some brooks, also, descend from the higher grounds, but they are generally dry in summer: and there are numerous springs in the sides of the hills.
   The quantity of land either in cultivation or capable of being cultivated, exclusively of the valley of Glenfruin, is small. The soil is in some parts tolerably fertile, and, from the facility of obtaining lime, the arable lands have been rendered productive; but, with the exception of a little barley which is sent to distant markets, scarcely more grain is raised than what is requisite for the consumption of the inhabitants. The other crops are chiefly turnips and potatoes, of which latter considerable quantities are forwarded to Greenock and Glasgow, to the amount of £1000 annually, and also hay to the average amount of £500. The system of husbandry has been gradually advancing under the auspices of an agricultural association, recently established, and including the parishes of Row, Luss, and Arrochar; the lands have been partly drained and inclosed, and many of the farm-houses have been rendered more substantial and commodious. Great attention is paid to the management of the dairy-farms, on all of which Ayrshire cows have been introduced: of the produce, which is of excellent quality and abundant, the greater portion is consumed within the parish, and the remainder sent to the Greenock and Glasgow markets. The cattle reared are generally of the West Highland breed, and much care is bestowed upon their improvement; the sheep are all of the black-faced breed, with the exception of a few of the Cheviot recently introduced on some of the farms. Considerable numbers of both are sent to distant markets. The plantations have been within the last few years very greatly extended, especially on the lands of Ardincaple; they are regularly thinned, and under careful management. The rocks in the northern part of the parish are chiefly composed of greywacke, clay-slate, and transition limestone; and the principal substrata are, sandstone, limestone, and micaslate. Freestone of a coarse texture is sometimes quarried for ordinary building purposes, and the limestone is occasionally wrought; but from the facility of procuring lime from Ireland at a cheaper cost, the limestone quarries are not in constant operation. Slatequarries have been also opened; though, from its inferior quality, the slate is not much used. Coal, likewise, is supposed to exist in the parish; but although attempts have been made in two different places by boring to the depth of fifty fathoms, none has been yet discovered of sufficient thickness or quality to warrant the sinking of a pit. The rateable annual value of the parish is £15,439.
   Ardenconnel, the property of Sir James Colquhoun, of Luss, is a spacious mansion in the pavilion style of architecture, situated on rising ground to the north of the church, and commanding a fine view of the Gareloch. Ardincaple Castle, the property of the Duke of Argyll, is a handsome castellated mansion beautifully situated to the south-east of Ardenconnel, in a demesne richly embellished with thriving plantations, and containing some strikingly picturesque scenery. Along the shores of the Gareloch are numerous pleasing villas and cottages of modern erection, inhabited by families during the summer months. The town of Helensburgh and the village of Gareloch-Head are separately described. The village of Row is situated on the shore of the Gareloch, about two miles and a half from its entrance, and near the tongue of land already mentioned; the scenery in the immediate vicinity of the village, which has a pleasingly rural aspect, is almost unrivalled for beauty and variety; and the views obtained from it in every direction are extensive, and diversified with features of the most romantic character. A post-office, under that at Helensburgh, has a tolerable delivery; and facility of communication is maintained by the turnpike road from Dumbarton to Arrochar, which passes for nearly sixteen miles through the parish, by the road from Helensburgh to Luss and Balloch ferry, by the Row ferry, and by steamers from the pier at Helensburgh to Glasgow, which ply daily.
   The ecclesiastical affairs of the parish, which was detached from the parishes of Roseneath and Cardross in 1648, are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Dumbarton and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. The minister's stipend is £136, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £20 per annum; patron, the Duke of Argyll. The church, situated in the village of Row, was built in 1763, and repaired in 1835; it is a neat plain structure, and contains about 700 sittings, of which nearly the whole are free. Churches have been erected at Gareloch-Head and Helensburgh; in the latter place are also meeting-houses for Independents, the Free Church, and Baptists; and an episcopal chapel is about to be built. The parochial school is in the village of Row, and is well attended; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with a house, an allowance in lieu of garden, and the fees, averaging about £30 annually. There are several other schools, of which two have an endowment of £10 per annum each, arising from a bequest of land in Glenfruin by Mr. Glen, of Portincaple. The chief remains of antiquity are some faint vestiges of the old castle of Faslane, and part of the walls of a chapel said to have been dedicated to St. Michael, and which is supposed to have been the domestic chapel of the family of Lennox, while resident at the castle. Attached to it is a burial-ground which has almost ceased to be used. Some few traces of a castle are also found on the hill of Shandon: from its name, "the old Dun," it would appear to be of greater antiquity than the castle of Faslane; but nothing of its history has been preserved. There are likewise some relics of ancient chapels in Glenfruin and on the lands of Kirkmichael and Millig. Henry Bell, Esq., civil engineer, and the successful promoter of steam navigation, was for some time a resident of this parish; and his remains are interred in the churchyard.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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