Newton Wamphray
The Dumfriesshire Companion
Haig Gordon

THEMES & PERSONALITIES

Introduction

Some Historical Background

The Border

From Westerkirk to Westminster Abbey -
Thomas Telford


Robert Burns - Doonhamer

The Sage of Ecclefechan - Thomas Carlyle

Hugh MacDiarmid and the Muckle Toon

Other Literary Figures

The Artists

Fame and Fortune

Other Pairs of Eyes

Newton Wamphray

The double name is a kind of portmanteau term for a scattering of rural settlements in the ancient parish of Wamphray with an eighteenth-century 'new toun' added on. Sometimes it is referred to as just Newton and sometimes just Wamphray, and it was formerly known as Newton of Wamphray. And when Newton had a railway station it was called Wamphray!


The remains of a prehistoric stone circle at Kirkhill testify to the antiquity of Wamphray.


By Wamphray Water there is the site of a twelfth-century motte and bailey castle.


Nearby is the parish kirk which was built in 1834 on ground once occupied by a very much older church.


The kirkyard has the burial-enclosure of Dr John Rogerson, the Russian royal physician who made enough money to buy in his native county not only the Wamphray estate but also the Dumcrieff estate near Moffat.


Wamphray's minister from the mid-1650s was the anti-episcopalian agitator Rev John Brown, whose refusal to conform to the religious policies of Charles II led to his arrest and banishment to the Netherlands in 1662. He remained in exile until his death in 1679, authoring a torrent of polemics against any of his countrymen daring to compromise over the Covenanter principles. He took a dislike also to Quakers and just before he died published Quakerisme the Path-Way to Paganisme.


The Wamphray Water powered a mill and in the early 1900s the parish's historian John Paterson wrote sweetly about its juxtaposition with the kirk: 'There is nothing striking in the architecture of the church; it is a neat little edifice and most happily set down on a shelving piece of ground where three knowes meet. Two streamlets pass by it...and meet a few yards past the mill. The church sits on the base, the mill at the apex of the triangle formed by the two streams - two indispensible institutions to human nature as at present constituted, and where else should they be situated but near to each other?'


To the south-east of old Wamphray, the 'new' houses of Newton were built from about 1760 along what used to be the main road between Carlisle and Glasgow (and a Roman road before that). They were part of an improvement scheme for the Wamphray estate, once part of the Johnstones' territory but by then in the hands of the Earl of Hopetoun.

By 1777 there were some eighty people living in 'the new Hopetoun crofts' and bee-keeping was one of their activities: 'When the flowers failed in low grounds the skeps [hives] were carted off up Wamphray glen among the hills, to give the honey a heather-bloom flavour. It sold at a higher price and added a little more to the general fund in those comparatively poor times, when both industry and frugality had to be equally well practised.' [John Paterson, Wamphray (1906)]


In the nineteenth century the tiny parish school of Wamphray had a remarkable record of pupil achievement in the field of religion. Three of its boys who trained for the Church of Scotland ministry went on in turn to become Moderator of the General Assembly, the highest office in the Kirk, and all within a space of just over a decade: Very Rev Archibald Charteris in 1892, Very Rev John Pagan [shame about the name] in 1899, and Very Rev John Gillespie in 1903. The third of them was the long-serving minister at Mouswald.


The area's gang warfare of the sixteenth century inspired the old ballad 'The Lads of Wamphray' (see The Border).

PLACES

Ae
Amisfield
Annan
Auldgirth
Bankend
Beattock
Bentpath
Brydekirk
Canonbie
Carronbridge
Carrurtherstown
Chapelknowe
Clarencefield
Closeburn
Collin
Cummertrees
Dalswinton
Dalton
Dornock
Dumfries
Duncow
Dunscore
Durisdeer
Eaglesfield
Eastriggs
Ecclefechan
Eskdalemuir
Glencaple
Gretna
Hightae
Holywood
Johnstonebridge
Kettleholm
Kirkconnel
Kirkpatrick Fleming
Kirkton
Kirtlebridge
Langholm
Lochmaben
Lockerbie
Middlebie
Moffat
Moniaive
Mouswald
Newton Wamphray
Parkgate
Penpont
Powfoot
Ruthwell
Sanquhar
Templand
Thornhill
Tinwald
Torthorwald
Tynron
Wanlockhead
Waterbeck

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