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Church Life in Dalserf

The Rev. Dr D. Cameron McPherson

Dalserf Parish Church Buildings

Andrew Shaw received spiritual nurture through Dalserf Parish Church during the first thirteen years of his life. In 1892, the year he was born in Ashgillhead, this church was the only religious congregation within the parish of Dalserf. (In Scotland a parish is a defined area designated originally to serve both political and ecclesiastical purposes.) From 1889, however, there were two church buildings. In that year, Rorison Memorial Church, as it came to be known, was built to serve the population of the upper section of the parish. This building was originally called Dalserf Mission Hall or sometimes Rorison Mission Hall or simply Rorison Hall. In 1896, however, it was renamed Dalserf New Church and then, some time after the death on 11 March 1907 of the Reverend Dr William Rorison (see opposite page), formally named Rorison Memorial Church at the suggestion of the Honourable James H. C. Hozier, son of Lord Newlands. In the early 1900s, a hall, kitchen and toilets were added, and also a caretaker’s house. This building complex is not only still in use today but provides accommodation for the majority of the events which take place in the life of the church, the old, much-loved Dalserf Parish Church building being used mainly for Sunday worship and weddings. Rorison church is situated about a mile from the Shaw cottage in Manse Brae, whereas the original Dalserf church building is less than half a mile from it. Dalserf church would therefore have been the most convenient place of worship for the Shaw family to attend, although it is hard to believe that they would never have attended any church event in Rorison.

Two years after Andrew Shaw was born, Dalserf church building underwent the most ­radical alteration in its long history. It had been erected in 1655—in the midst of the Covenanting struggle between a defiant and indignant Presbyterian-minded population and tyrannical and brutal Episcopal-minded monarchs.* It was originally a simple rectangular building. In 1894, the centre transept was added along with three galleries. The cost of these alterations was met by Lord Newlands, whose generosity to Dalserf church has probably made all the difference to the survival of the old Dalserf church building to the present day. It is questionable whether the intention was increased accommodation rather than increased comfort, because it is recorded that ‘520 (exclusive of non-parishioners and strangers) were in the habit of communicating at Dalserf in summer and upwards of 400 in winter.’ That was before the enlargement, but it is hard to envisage more than 380 adults being seated with any degree of comfort in the enlarged building. Perhaps the congregation were spread over two or more services; or perhaps the answer is that there is no comparison in the degree of discomfort which people were willing to tolerate in earlier times with the degree of comfort people demand and expect today. This would be borne out by a comparison of the length of church services today with that of previous generations. Young Andrew Shaw would have sat through church services, and sermons in particular, lasting, I am sure, a good deal longer than is customary today. The building as it is today is basically the same as it was when Andrew emigrated in 1905. He would have had no idea that almost a century later the two largest windows in the church would be dedicated in his honour.

* The Church of Scotland is Presbyterian. In 1638, Scotland and England were under one monarch, King Charles I, who was head of the Church of England. The king tried to force his English religion on Scottish Presbyterians, ordering them to use an Episcopal liturgy in their churches. Enraged, the Scottish Presbyterians wrote—and all levels of the populace signed—a National Covenant, declaring that they would not succumb to the King’s orders. For years afterwards, they were persecuted for following their own religion.

Other Churches

Although, generally speaking, a century ago there was not quite the variety of religious allegiance that there is in Scotland today (much greater of course in the USA!), the situation has fluctuated somewhat. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, there were eight fairly large Protestant denominations, all of which had their origin in Scotland. In addition, there were several ‘imported’ denominations—Baptist, Congregational, Wesleyan Methodist, and Quaker. At the time Andrew Shaw was born, the number of major Presbyterian denominations had been reduced to three—the Church of Scotland, the Free Church, and the United Presbyterian (U.P.) Church. Eight years later, in 1900, the Free and U.P. had united to form the United Free (U.F.) Church. In 1929, the U.F. Church had merged with the Church of Scotland. There was a Free church and a U.P. church in Larkhall, as well as a Church of Scotland congregation—St Machan’s. St Machan’s is Dalserf’s daughter church, which was created to serve the rapidly growing village of Larkhall and given its own parish (called a quoad sacra parish) in 1837, or shortly thereafter. As a result of the developments just described, three other Church of Scotland parishes in addition to Dalserf now occupy the area once covered by the parish of Dalserf alone. There are currently proposals to unite these other three parishes. Dalserf remains the largest of the four in terms of area, but probably the smallest in terms of population, which is not more than about 2,500.

The Statistical Account of 1840 records that no Roman Catholic resided in Dalserf Parish (which then included Larkhall), although in 1841, almost five per cent of the population of Scotland were Roman Catholic. (By 1891 the number had almost doubled.) It was in 1841 that the potato blight occurred in Ireland, which precipitated an enormous acceleration in immigration to Scotland of Irish Roman Catholics, many of whom settled in Lanarkshire. By 1861, a Roman Catholic worshipping community was developing in Larkhall, served at first by clergy from Strathaven. By 1872, St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church was fully established in Larkhall. Unlike some other Lanarkshire communities, the Roman Catholic population was never to grow particularly large in Larkhall, which to this day retains a reputation for being the most strongly ‘orange’ [Protestant] town in Scotland.†

In 1840, no Episcopal church existed in Dalserf Parish. The Statistical Account comments that ‘Episcopalians occasionally residing within our bounds have always been of the higher ranks, and have never failed to conform for the time to the Established Church’ (p. 756). The next year, an officer in the British Army spearheaded a movement for establishing an Episcopal church in Hamilton, the location of the Cameronian barracks. Services began in 1842, and the permanent building for St Mary’s Episcopal Church, Hamilton, opened in 1847. The Reverend Alexander Henderson served as rector as well as chaplain to the troops. His nephew the Reverend Charles Greenhill Henderson followed him in those positions and, in 1881, married Mary Campbell Hamilton of Dalserf, whose family attended St Mary’s church. Changing their names to Henderson-Hamilton, the couple resided in Dalserf House. Their two sons occasionally walked a quarter of a mile to attend Dalserf Parish Church, where they heard their uncle the Reverend Dr William Peebles Rorison deliver the sermons. Another prominent couple, James Hozier of Newlands and Mauldslie and his wife, Catherine, lived in Mauldslie Castle, across the glebe from Dalserf Manse, beginning in 1850. They were original members of St Mary’s Episcopal Church, where James served on the vestry (management) committee. Their son William Wallace Hozier, Lord Newlands, sat in the family pew at Dalserf Parish Church when he was at Mauldslie and, as previously stated, contributed generously to the improvement of the Dalserf church building.

† ‘Orange’ derives from William III, the Protestant Prince of Orange of the Netherlands who, having been invited by the Scots to oppose and replace his father-in-law, the recently crowned Roman Catholic James VII of Scotland (II of England), defeated him in 1689 (the victory being referred to as the Glorious Revolution). This ensured the continuation of Presbyterianism as the established form of religion in Scotland. The name is perpetuated in ‘The Orange Order’, which is particularly strong in Northern Ireland, but also strong in Scotland. ‘Orange’ therefore is synonymous with militant Protestantism.

Church Life

Apart from Sunday worship, church life for young Andrew Shaw for most of his years in Dalserf would have focused on the Sunday school or Sabbath school, as it was more commonly referred to in those days. In the last decade of the nineteenth century, there were around 500 children in Dalserf Sabbath school. They met in a variety of locations—Dalserf, Netherburn, Rosebank, Shawsburn and Swinhill. It is interesting that there is no mention of the New Church [Rorison Memorial Church] as a location for regular meetings of the Sabbath school at this time. (When I first came to Dalserf in June 1982, the Sunday school still met in three locations. Now it is reduced to one.) A highlight of the year for the children was the annual soirée. This was held in two venues—the New Church and Dalserf school—on two separate evenings, a Thursday and a Friday in mid-January. I expect the children from Shawsburn and Swinhill attended the evening in the New Church, and those from Dalserf, Netherburn and Rosebank the evening in Dalserf school, although there may have been some flexibility. Of all 500 children, Andrew possibly had the least distance to travel to the soirée since he lived next door to Dalserf school. What happened at these soirées?

The following excerpts from reports in the Hamilton Advertiser give some idea:

The children were liberally attended to. . . . There was a plentiful ­supply of buns and milk [and] also a fine exhibition of magic lantern slides‡. . . . After tea a limelight exhibition gave great satisfaction. Suitable addresses were delivered by Mr Alex Thomson, Mr McKinnock and Rev. Walter Smith. The Rev. Dr Rorison proposed the usual vote of thanks. A service of fruit followed.

I take it that the last sentence simply means the children were handed a piece of fruit as they left. The idea of having several hundred children listen to three addresses and a vote of thanks at an evening event would scare the living daylights out of most of us who work with children today, but expectations and, consequently, behaviour were evidently different then. Were those indeed the good old days?

‡ The magic lantern slides, projected on a full-sized screen, were suited more to children than to adults. The limelight exhibition, using an optical projector, showed subjects of a more general nature, perhaps travel to foreign countries. The limelight was created when oxygen and hydrogen were squirted on a piece of limestone which turned incandescent once the gases were lit, and produced a light as powerful as that in a modern movie projector.

Up until about the time of Andrew Shaw’s birth, there was a universal preoccupation throughout the Kirk with the disciplining of parishioners guilty of moral laxity. The Church has possibly gone too far in the other direction in the present day, but the extent of the preoccupation in those days is hard to comprehend. For example, I heard recently of one congregation’s Kirk session minutes of 1843, which made no mention whatsoever of the Disruption which took place that year—the greatest event in the history of the Church of Scotland, when thirty-nine per cent of the ministers and a third of the members left to form the Free Church. The only items reported were the inevitable cases of prenuptial intercourse and other disciplinary matters. Dalserf was no exception in those days. After about 1890, however, as far as Dalserf is concerned, a change in priorities and a healthier balance began to be reflected in session minutes.

The motive in handling the type of cases referred to above was without a doubt laudable—the upholding of Christian standards of morality in society. A far better public-relations ­exercise, however, is reflected in the following report from an 1893 copy of the Hamilton ­Advertiser:

The Kirk Session beg to acknowledge with thanks donations for coals from the Duke of Hamilton, Joseph Hutchison Esq., Archibald ­Russell Esq. and Brand & Co. Generous collections were also taken at the church and hall doors. Forty-two carts of coal were distributed amongst the deserving poor and were carted free of expense by Messrs A. J. Frame, Overton; R. Dyer, Sandyholm; Chas. Surgeoner, Netherburn; A. Hamilton, Hill; R. Letham, Over Dalserf; D. Forrest, Auldton; J. Frame, Hills [of Dalserf]; and J. Watson, Candermains, to whom the thanks of the community are specially due.

This report highlights the role of the Church in poor relief before any Welfare State existed. The same was true of education. Here also it was the Church that took the lead.

The last decade of the nineteenth century marked the beginning of a crisis of commitment and belief for the Church from which it has never recovered. One reason given for this by social historians is the Church’s rapidly weakening monopoly on social action and reform during this period. In such matters, the Church was being taken over by Labour activists and left-wing intellectuals who held no intrinsic identification with any religious body. The status hitherto enjoyed by the Church on account of this monopoly was therefore inevitably being eroded. Other factors were equally significant, such as the popularity of Darwinism, and the rise of higher criticism (often these were closely linked). Both influences were seen by many as diminishing the credibility of the Bible, and therefore the teaching of the Church. ‘Rationalised religious doubt was the common currency of the man on the street’ (Brown, p. 186).

The Reverend Dr William Peebles Rorison

Andrew’s minister, the Reverend Dr William Peebles Rorison, was fifty-six years in Dalserf—the longest of a number of long ministries in Dalserf. Dr Rorison’s successor, Dr Alexander Barclay, who died in 1937, was only the seventh minister of Dalserf since 1698—only seven ministers over a period of 239 years! I am the twenty-fourth minister since the Reformation in 1560—an average of over eighteen years for each ministry.

William Rorison was particularly interested in church praise. When he died, he had almost completed for publication a book on the origin of the Scottish Psalter. The original ­manuscript for this can be seen in the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. This work is well-enough known to be referred to on the Internet. A website with the name ‘The Scottish Psalter of 1650’ ( refers to the book Four Centuries of Scottish Psalmody by Patrick Miller, DD, which it says describes ‘the work of a W. P. Rorison, who with incredible patience and particularity, carried out a detailed comparison of the 1650 version with ten others, in order to trace every line, so far as might be possible, to its source’. It then goes on to give Dr Rorison’s table of the various sources that went into the 1650 Scottish Psalter. The comment is added that ‘today we would say he had too much time on his hands,’ which I think is not a little impertinent, knowing the things that have been said about Dr Rorison’s character and industry, and bearing in mind that he was probably in his seventies when he started the work, an age when most people today have long since ‘put their feet up’. Andrew Cunningham writes that ‘It says much for him that he took on much public work, including the chairmanship of the Parochial Board, at a time when he must have found his own work growing at an alarming rate, since his parish was changing from an agricultural area to an important industrial district. In the latter years of his ministry, the parish contained at least three times as many people as it did at the time of his induction’ (p. 38).

William Rorison’s grandfather the Reverend Dr Peebles Rorison, of Newton-on-Ayr, was well known as a popular orator at Mauchline ‘Holy Fair’. In 1788, he published a piece of ­poetry which caused a somewhat more famous poet – Robert Burns, for whatever reason – to vent intense anger towards him.

Dr Rorison is reputed to have had a feeble voice, which was more of a disadvantage to a preacher in the days before public-address systems. It is said that he made up for this failing by his choice of subject, although the more seriously hard-of-hearing might have argued that the content of his sermons, no matter how praiseworthy, was irrelevant to them if they could not hear him. The smaller-than-average size of Dalserf church would minimise this problem. ­Physically, Dr Rorison was tall. Photographs show him towering above the others. He evidently was also a man of great spiritual stature. When he died, the session clerk, William Sim, described him in the following terms in a tribute recorded in the Kirk session minutes:

He was a man of singular sweetness and beauty of character, knightly in presence, genial in manner, and full of kindly consideration for others. It is impossible to estimate his services to the parish, for which he lived, thought and toiled night and day. His spiritual ministrations in the home and in the pulpit were elevating and comforting. He loved the Gospel of the Grace of God and he preached it with a freshness, directness and homeliness of illustration which captivated the hearts of his hearers; his constant shepherding of his flock gave him intimate knowledge of their spiritual needs and enabled him to meet the soul’s difficulties with a rare sagacity (ibid., pp. 41–2).

Andrew Cunningham says of him: ‘By the faithful discharge of his sacred and public duties this genial and kindly gentleman so endeared himself to his parishioners of every sect and belief that he inscribed his name indelibly on their hearts’ (p. 38).

Andrew Shaw’s fine qualities of character would almost certainly have been reinforced by the example of such a man of God. As well as being one of his flock, Andrew had been one of Dr Rorison’s closest neighbours. I am sure he would have wished Andrew well on his voyage to the United States of America, and even more sure that Andrew would have had the blessing of his prayers for the future.

Manse of Dalserf

September 2001

About the Author

David Cameron McPherson, son of the late David Jeffrey McPherson and the late Margaret Busby McPherson (née McLachlan), was born 2 January 1948 in Glasgow. He attended Queen’s Park Secondary School, Glasgow, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Strathclyde, a Bachelor of Divinity degree from the University of Glasgow and a Doctorate in Ministry (D.Min.) from the Reformed Theological Seminary of the USA in partnership with the Highland Theological College of Scotland. He was licensed as a minister of the Church of Scotland in July 1980. After serving a probationary year at Burntisland Parish Church, plus an additional six months as local funds permitted, he received a call to the church and parish of Dalserf, South Lanarkshire, being ordained and inducted to that charge on 2 June 1982, where he has remained. He was national chaplain to the Girls’ Brigade in Scotland, 1994–7.

A Villager Remembers

Janet Murray

Janet Murray was born in Dalserf on 14 March 1899, and lived in the village most of her life. In 2001, her son and daughter-in-law, John and Agnes Murray, interviewed her about what life was like when she was growing up. At the time she was born, my grandfather Andrew Shaw was seven years old. Both children worshipped with their families at Dalserf church. And both attended Dalserf school at the same time—­between August 1904, when Janet Murray began school, and December 1905, when my grandfather left school to immigrate to America.—Ed.

Domestic Life in Dalserf Village, c.1900


I was one of a family of six, four boys and two girls. Each had three sets of clothes: Sunday best, school, and play. Tailors based in Larkhall visited the village and measured the boys and menfolk for suits. These were of very high quality. Sunday suits were very carefully folded and put in

the kist [chest] under the bed along with the washed shirts. These were ironed on Saturday evenings in readiness for church on Sunday; the minimum of work was done on Sundays. Young ladies wore black skirts and white blouses for church. Many of these were home-made on the sewing machine or created by a local dressmaker.

Washings were done weekly. Each family in the village had its separate washday and shared the drying green situated down towards the burn [stream]. There was a wash house with a cast-iron boiler heated by coal.

Sunlight soap was cut up and used in the boiler. There was a huge mangle [pressing machine]. The family helped to turn the handle. It was used for all items, except those with buttons. Sheets and towels were pressed when they were almost dry.

Electricity did not come to Dalserf until the 1930s.

The Heart of the Home

Everything around the village was kept so clean, including the houses—inside and out. The kitchen was the main living area. There was a scrubbed table, kitchen chairs, and a fireplace where all the cooking was done. Large iron pots were used over the open fire. They were suspended on a swee [swivel]. There was an iron kettle of hot water over the fire at all times.
The house I was brought up in had a scullery where all the dishes and pots were kept. There was a large stone shelf for keeping milk and butter cold.

Our family always said grace before meals. We would all be round one table. Eventually, with children growing, there was a separate smaller table where those round it said their own grace.

There was no running water in the village, and all water for drinking and cooking had to be carried from a spring in Smiddy Brae, about a quarter of a mile away. This spring water had its own unique taste as it was not chlorinated.

Water for personal washing was obtained from rainwater barrels. White Windsor soap, which came in a long bar, was cut into sections for personal washing. Sanitation was in the form of dry closets located outside the house. These were regularly cleaned out and waste removed.

The house was cleaned once a week and the wood floors scrubbed. Soft soap was used for scrubbing floors. This was rubbed on the scrubbing brush. The home-made rag rugs were shaken against the graveyard wall to clean them. New rag rugs were made each year in time for the New Year. Eventually, linoleum became available for covering floors.

Our Daily Bread

Fruit and vegetables were grown in people’s own gardens. We grew raspberries, strawberries and gooseberries, as well as onions, leeks, carrots and potatoes—everything we needed. There was also room in these gardens for flowers such as climbing roses and gowans [daisies], and for herbaceous [flowering] borders.

There were no shops in Dalserf. The butcher and the bread man delivered their goods in spotlessly clean horse-drawn vans from Larkhall. Scones and pancakes were made at home. We drank lots of milk from the dairy. Sour milk [buttermilk] for baking, with the fresh butter floating on top, was obtained from the farm. The farmer Mr Fleming sent fresh butter to our family for helping him to right any stooks [bundles of drying grain] which had got scattered on a blowy day.

Newspapers were delivered from Crossford, along with everyone’s favourite, Abernethy biscuits [cookies].

Once a year the bees at the village were transported to the nearest heather moors. The bumps on the road made the bees very angry, and the workers had to be extra well protected when freeing them. When brought to each house, the honey was pressed in a wooden box in a warm atmosphere. Some was kept on the comb.

Earning A Living

The main industries were coal mining, agriculture, fruit growing and some stone quarrying. Scotts of Carluke was the largest of the jam manufacturers and was supplied by local fruit growers. The Fleming family who farmed at Auldton, about a mile up Smiddy Brae, rented the haugh [flat ground] situated alongside the river beyond the church, where they grew wheat and oats.

In the springtime, open brakes [wagons] came from Glasgow bringing people to see the plum, pear and apple blossoms. [The blossoms were so prolific that one writer said the hills appeared to be covered with snow.—Ed.]­­

Coal and Coffins

Coal was used in all fires. My grandfather John Ritchie was a carter who delivered the coal. A Clydesdale horse pulled the cart. He also did flittings [house removals] and delivered beer barrels to the local pubs. In his spare time he was also the gravedigger.

My father, too, drove a horse and cart. In the winter, when the River Clyde froze (to a considerable depth), he drove loads of coal over the ice. Winters a century ago were much colder than they are now.

The village joiner [furniture maker] Hugh Gray, who lived in the Old Mill, made all the coffins for the area. These were carried by two men to the appropriate house. Everyone stood with bowed heads as they passed, even though the coffins were empty. On the day of the funeral, my grandfather and father brought the wreaths to the graveside—usually white flowers with greenery. I helped arrange them in order, the wife’s or husband’s at the head of the coffin and the rest according to the closeness of the relationship. The wreaths were watered daily. I had a little watering can for this.

One of my brothers was a joiner, and one was a blacksmith.



The nearest primary school, which I attended, was Dalserf school, situated about a mile from the village, up the Manse Brae. Schooling began at the age of five and continued there until age twelve. At that time the children transferred to Shawsburn school, situated on the Edinburgh–Ayr road, about a mile and a half from Dalserf. School-leaving age was at fourteen. Children walked to both schools as there was no transport. There were no uniforms, but children had separate school clothes which they changed out of when they arrived home.

Boys and girls went to school together. You were always to do your best. English was very well taught in the schools by clever young men and women. You would bow to your teacher. And it came very naturally to you. We never talked back. Sometimes the boys would do something [improper] and then they would get a strap on the palm of their hand.

At lunchtime, each child ate a piece [snack] brought from home. In the winter, when I was at Shawsburn School, my mother arranged with one of the villagers there to provide me and others of my family with hot soup at lunchtime. Drinking water was provided in a bucket with an iron cup attached. We were given homework, of course. I was always very keen to get it done in order to help my mother: I peeled the potatoes and prepared the vegetables for soup.

Slates were used for school. We had a sponge or cloth for cleaning them.


On rainy days we played in the stable. We climbed up the ladder and looked down at the horses. We would pass bundles of hay down to them. The two horses we kept were called Maggie and Kate. Then my brother Laurence bought Charley for £15 (a lot of money in those days). Charley would refuse to go to the stable until my mother gave him a piece, probably with jam. Once Charley was very poorly after an accident—he kept scraping his hoof on the ground. My mother gave him a piece, plus an apple. He gave a nichter [neigh] and only then went to the stable.

We also played down at the burn [stream], where we would choose our favourites from the lovely stones. These were used to play peevers [hopscotch]. You drew six different squares on the pavement and then kicked the flat stone from one square to another.

We gathered wildflowers from a vast variety and put them in jam jars when we got home. In the autumn, we picked brambles [blackberries] for jam-making.

During Glasgow Fair week (workers were not paid for this holiday), the pit ponies from the coal mine in Woodside were brought out to a field. The children all went to see them.

Skipping ropes was always a favourite, especially at playtime at school. Apart from the usual outdoor games such as hide-and-seek, indoors we had the still-popular board games such as ludo. The girls had dolls, of course. The boys played football [soccer]. There were not many toys. We always had pets—cats or dogs. We had a simple, happy, safe life.

Church Life

In the years between 1816 and 1937, there were only three ministers at Dalserf. At the turn of the century, the minister was the Reverend Dr William Peebles Rorison, who served from 1851 to 1907. He was followed by the Reverend Dr William Barclay, who died in 1937. The services at Dalserf church were held at twelve noon, and this practice has been continued ever since. The Sunday school was held in the Rosebank Hall, which was built by Lord Newlands. The Woman’s Guild was formed in the late nineteenth century.

There was a very good choir in the church. A harmonium provided the accompaniment. Lord Newlands later gave an organ to the church, and the harmonium was given to my grandmother, the caretaker of the church. The organist and precentor [choir director] both came from Stonehouse. They cycled each Sunday and were never late. Choir practice was held once a week.

The silver Communion cups were given to Dalserf church in 1701 by the Duchess of Hamilton [Anne]. Eventually, the Communion vessels became too thin to clean and were replaced. The old ones are still owned by Dalserf church.

My family has been involved with Dalserf church over many generations, my grandfather and father both being beadle [church officer]. The family were responsible for cleaning the church on a weekly basis. Prior to each Communion, the wooden floors were scrubbed, after which all the doors were kept open to allow them to dry out.

The Gentry

Folk always bowed when the minister, or a teacher, or one of the laird’s staff passed by. The staff were treated almost like the gentry themselves.

Dalserf Estate

The owners of Dalserf Estate lived in Dalserf House (now demolished, having been undermined by coal workings). The family was named Campbell Hamilton. In the late nineteenth century, following the death of the laird from pleurisy, in Ireland, the heir to the estate (the laird’s sister) married a curate of the English church in Hamilton by the name of Henderson. He was obliged to take her name, Hamilton, and the family then became Henderson-­Hamilton. The surname reverted to Campbell Hamilton after the death of the curate. There were two sons of this marriage, Charles and James. The former married the sister of the laird of Brownlee (a house situated across the Clyde on the road to Law). Charles and James were commissioned in the First World War and both were killed in action. Charles’s daughter, ­Elspeth Mary Campbell Hamilton, inherited Dalserf Estate on the death of her grandfather.

My mother and grandmother looked after the hens on the estate. There were also some turkeys. I was terrified of one in particular—it hated the colour red. I was wearing a red dress one day and it saw me. The laird’s two sons were nearby, and Master Jim ran and told my ­father that ‘Jetty’ was crying. I was duly rescued. I was about three at this time.

The Isle of Man Dub was low-lying ground between Dalserf House and the River Clyde which became flooded during winter. [Dub is a stagnant pool.] A pipe connecting this area to the Clyde could be opened and closed for flooding. When frozen hard, this area was used for skating and curling. A few women and children skated, but only men participated in curling.

Mauldslie Castle

Lord Newlands (William Wallace Hozier), after whom the suburb of Glasgow known as Newlands was named, lived in Mauldslie Castle, situated on the other side of the Clyde between Dalserf and the adjoining village of Rosebank. This was not really a castle, more a large mansion house. There were coal fires in all the rooms. There were always many guests.

Occasional guests at Mauldslie Castle were Lord Newlands’ brother Colonel Sir Henry Montague Hozier and his family. The colonel’s daughter, Clementine Hozier, later married Winston Churchill. They would attend Dalserf church, sitting in the Mauldslie gallery, which was ­located upstairs facing the pulpit. On one occasion, Churchill left his Bible on the ledge. Word was sent to my mother and we all searched. Actually, it was found in the space under the ledge, as I recall, by me. A footman was sent from Mauldslie with the great man’s sincere thanks.

Lord Newlands’ son, James Henry Cecil Hozier, was the second Lord Newlands. He and his wife, who had no children of their own, gave the prizes for school and Sunday school.

I remember seeing my first car at Mauldslie Castle before the First World War. It was a Rolls-Royce and belonged to Lord Newlands. I was about five or six and I could not ­believe it! The laird of Brownlee also owned cars. Only the families and friends of the gentry came to church in cars.

Once a year there was an ‘Open Day’ at Mauldslie. There was milk from the dairy, games, and swings on the trees. At night there was a band from Carluke. All the maids and gardeners were at the dance. Everyone watched. Lord and Lady Newlands sat waving to people passing by, and all bowed to them. On a wet day, the entertainment took place in the riding school.

There were six housemaids at Mauldslie, as well as table maids and butlers. There were also eight gardeners. The staff were very content and well looked after. Those of the staff who were far from home came often to visit my mother. A Rosebank woman ran a bothy [servants’ quarters] where the gardeners were housed. She did the cleaning, washing and cooking for them. The gardener had his own house.

One of the gardeners at Mauldslie had a serious accident and could no longer work. He had a family of five—three boys and two girls. The mother ran the post office at Rosebank. As well as stamps, they sold cheese, sugar and flour. The eldest son, who was in the Territorial Army and also a gardener at Mauldslie, wanted to find a better job as his mother worked so hard. A job was advertised for Glasgow Green, a public area in the Bridgeton area with playing fields and a bowling green. He applied and got the job. He started on the Monday. War was declared on the following Sunday. He was called up right away and was killed in action.

Mauldslie Castle was demolished between the the First and Second World Wars.

See “Janet Murray” for a biographical sketch.

July 2001

About the Author

John Murray, MA, LL B, who died 24 August 2007, was born in 1929 in Waterloo, near Wishaw, the son of Janet and John Murray, of Dalserf. After his education at Hamilton Academy and the University of Glasgow, he completed his National ­Service. In 1955, he married Agnes Armstrong at Dalserf Parish Church, where they had their first date. Before his retirement, John was secretary to the general trustees of the Church of Scotland and assistant head of personnel at S.S.E.B. (Scottish Power). Agnes was born in Larkhall in 1930. After her schooling, she trained as a secretary and was employed by Philips Electrical Ltd until her marriage. The Murrays lived in Hamilton, where Agnes still resides.

Dalserf in The Gazetteer 1865

Dalserf, a Clydesdale village and parish in the Middle Ward of Lanarkshire. The village, standing on the left bank of the Clyde, 1 mile E of Ayr-Road station, 3 miles ESE of Larkhall, and 7 SE of Hamilton, was formerly a place of some size and importance, but has long been going steadily into decay, and now consists of only a few low-roofed cottages, situated among gardens.

The parish, which also contains the villages of Millheugh and Rosebank, and most of the town of Larkhall, formed anciently the chapelry of Machan under Cadzow or Hamilton, itself being known as Machanshire; and, having passed from the Comyns to the royal Bruces, and from them again to an ancestor of the Duke of Hamilton, was afterwards divided among junior branches of the Hamilton family, and, probably about the era of the Reformation, was constituted a parish, taking name from Dalserf village. It is bounded NW by Hamilton, NE by Cambusnethan and Carluke, SE by Lesmahagow, and SW by Stonehouse. Kite-shaped in outline, it has an utmost length from N by W to S by E of 5 and 3/8 miles, an utmost breadth from E to W of 3 and 1/2 miles, and an area of 7035 and 3/4 acres, of which 79 and 1/2 are water.

The Clyde winds 5 and 3/8 miles north-westward along all the Carluke and Cambusnethan border; Cander Water 2 and 1/4 miles north-north-westward to the Avon along the Stonehouse border; and Avon Water itself 3 3/8 miles, also north-north-westward along the Stonehouse and Hamilton border. Where the Clyde quits the parish, opposite Lower Carbarn, the surface sinks to less than 100 feet above sea-level, thence rising to 345 feet beyond Larkhall, 477 at Strutherhill, 576 at Canderdikehead, and 623 at Cander Moss, in the southern corner of the parish, whose interior forms a sort of plateau between the Clyde and the Avon. The rocks are chiefly of the Carboniferous formation. Coal abounds, and is extensively mined at Ashgill, Broomhill, Canderside, Cornsilloch, Skellyton, etc; ironstone is known to be plentiful; and sandstone, of quality to furnish excellent building blocks, is largely quarried. The soil, along the Clyde, is rich alluvium; on the banks rising steeply from the Clyde, is of various quality; and, on the higher grounds, is mostly strong heavy clay. All the land, except a small patch or two of moss, is either regularly or occasionally cultivated. The tract adjacent to the Clyde lies almost in the heart of the luxuriant range of the Clydesdale orchards, and was famed for its fruit from very early times; but, owing to frequent failure of crops and increasing importation of fruit from England, Ireland, and foreign countries, has ceased to be exclusively devoted to orchard purposes. The dairy, on the other hand, for butter, cheese, and fatted calves, has much attention paid to it.

The Rev. John Macmillan, founder of the Reformed Presbyterians in 1743, lived for some time near Millheugh, and lies in Dalserf churchyard; and the Reverend James Hog, one of the twelve vindicators of the famous Marrow of Modern Divinity (1721), was parish minister. The principal mansions are Broomhill, Dalserf House, and Millburn House; and much of the property is divided between the Hamiltons of Raploch and the Hamiltons of Dalserf, the latter holding 3200 acres in the shire, valued at £4700 per annum. Three other proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 11 of between £100 and £500, 19 of from £50 to £100, and 36 of from £20 to £50. In the presbytery of Hamilton and synod of Glasgow and Ayr, this parish is divided into the quoad sacra parishes of Larkhall and Dalserf, the latter being worth £373. The church, at the village, was built in 1655, and contains 500 sittings. Two public schools, Dalserf and Shawsburn, with respective accommodation for 202 and 300 children, had (1880) an average attendance of 198 and 189, and grants of £191,3s. and £168,3s. Valuation (1860) £19,313, (1882) £34,594,8s. Pop. (1801) 1660, (1831) 2680, (1861) 4876, (1871) 7341, (1881) 9376, of whom 2674 were in Dalserf quoad sacra parish.—Ord. Sur., sh. 23, 1865.

The Hon. James Hozier

The Honourable James Hozier, M.P., was born at Tannochside House, Lanarkshire, on the 4th of April 1851, and is the only son of Lord Newlands of Newlands and Mauldslie Castle, Lanarkshire. Mr Hozier, besides being the Member for South Lanarkshire, is a Deputy Lieutenant and Justice of the Peace for the County of Lanark. He was educated at Eton and at Balliol College, Oxford. In 1880 he married Lady Mary Cecil, daughter of the Third Marquis of Exeter, the head of the elder branch of the Cecil family. As far back as 1874 Mr Hozier obtained, by competitive examination, an appointment in the Foreign Office, and two years later he was appointed Acting Secretary in the Diplomatic Service, and in that capacity ­accompanied the late Marquis of Salisbury, K.G., on his mission to attend the conference at Constantinople in 1876 and 1877. From 1878 to 1880 Mr Hozier was Private Secretary to the late Marquis of Salisbury, when Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and he was again Private ­Secretary to the Marquis of Salisbury when Prime Minister from 1885 to 1886. Mr Hozier first contested South ­Lanarkshire in 1885, when he was defeated by Col. Hamilton of Dalzell, but the following year, in 1886, he turned the tables upon Colonel (subsequently Lord) Hamilton of Dalzell, whom he defeated by eighteen votes. From 1886 onwards Mr Hozier has held his seat for South Lanarkshire, having been victorious by largely increasing majorities in four consecutive Parliamentary contests, and he has thus the honour of being the Senior Member for the County of Lanark. Mr Hozier is one of the Government Members of the Public Works Loan Commission, and he was Grand Master Mason of Scotland from 1899 till 1903. Mr Hozier inherits all the kindly characteristics of his family, and, as Member for the Constituency, treats his political friends and opponents with unvarying courtesy. The request is a most unreasonable and impracticable one to which he does not give a ready response. Indeed, he seems to derive pleasure in affording pleasure in others. Very many of his political opponents, while enjoying a contest in other places, do not contemplate one in South Lanark with any great pleasure.

Mr Hozier is intensely devoted to the interests of his native County, and, although he does not intervene in local affairs to any considerable extent, he follows the course of events most minutely.

Lord Newlands

William Wallace Hozier, Baron Newlands of Newlands and Barrowfield in the County of the City of Glasgow, and of Mauldslie Castle, Lanarkshire, was born in 1825, his father being the late James Hozier, Esq. of Newlands and Mauldslie, while his mother was a daughter of Sir William Feilden, of Feniscowles. On completing his education he joined the Army, and was for a time Lieutenant in the Royal Scots Greys. In 1849 he married Miss Frances Anne O’Hara, daughter of the late John O’Hara, Esq. of Raheen, County Galway. Lord Newlands’ only son is the Hon. James Hozier, the popular M.P. for South Lanarkshire, while his eldest daughter is the wife of Sir W. J. G. Baird, of Saughtonhall, and ­another is the wife of Lord Lamington. In 1890 a baronetcy was conferred on Mr William Hozier by the late Queen Victoria in recognition of his services to the County, and in 1898 Her Majesty was pleased to bestow a further mark of favour by raising him to the peerage as Baron Newlands. It is doubtful if there is ­another man in Lanarkshire so universally esteemed as Lord Newlands. He early interested himself in the ­administration of public affairs, and it was not long till he was elected Convener of the County in succession to his father. Lord Newlands possesses many other qualifications which have endeared him to the people, and among these must be numbered his genial manner, his frank and open nature, and his generous and philanthropic disposition.

Lord Newlands at the present time occupies the positions of President of the London Coaching Club, ­Member of the London Four-in-Hand Club, and President of the Lanarkshire Four-in-Hand Club. His Lordship attends the meetings of the London Clubs with unbroken regularity, and can handle the ribbons with the skill of an accomplished driver. He has in his possession many choice and rare prints of old Metropolitan meets; indeed, not a few of these specimens of old-time engravings are to be found on the walls of Mauldslie Castle. His Lordship himself has at Mauldslie a splendid stud of dark browns, and he enjoys nothing better than to drive along the beautiful valley of the Clyde when the hawthorns are in blossom and the air is laden with their delicious fragrance. Lord Newlands is a loyal Churchman, and he has done much for that historic edifice, Dalserf Parish Church, which is in the immediate vicinity of his residence. While at Mauldslie he is, on the Sabbath, seldom absent from the family pew. To the poor he is a generous benefactor, and his name is held in high regard in the district.