Biggar - Encyclopedia

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BIGGAR, a police burgh of Lanarkshire, Scotland. Pop. (1901) 1366. It is situated about io m. S.E. of Carstairs Junction (Caledonian railway), where the lines from Edinburgh and Glasgow connect. Lying on Biggar Water and near the Clyde, in a bracing, picturesque, upland country, Biggar enjoys great vogue as a health and holiday resort. It was the birthplace of Dr John Brown, author of Rab and his Friends, whose father was secession minister in the town. It was created a burgh of barony in 1451 and a police burgh in 1863. St Mary's church was founded in 1 545 by Lord Fleming, the head of the ruling family in the district, whose seat, Boghall Castle, however, is now a ruin. John Gledstanes, great-grandfather of W. E. Gladstone, was a burgess of Biggar, and lies in the churchyard.

Easter Gledstanes, the seat of the family from the 13th to the 17th century, and the estate of Arthurshiels, occupied by them for nearly a hundred years more, are situated about 31 m. to the north-west of the burgh. On the top of Quothquan Law (1097 ft.), about 3 m. west is a rock called Wallace's Chair, from the tradition that he held a council there prior to the battle of Biggar in 1297. Lamington, nearly 6 m. south-west, is well situated on the Clyde. It is principally associated with the family of the Baillies, of whom the most notable were Cuthbert Baillie (d. 1514), lord high treasurer of Scotland, William Baillie, Lord Provand (d. 1593), the judge, and William Baillie (fl. 1648), the general whose strategy in opposition to the marquess of Montrose was so diligently stultified by the committee of estates. The ancient church of St Ninian's has a fine Norman doorway. Lamington Tower was reduced to its present fragmentary condition in the time of Edward I., when William Heselrig, the sheriff, laid siege to it. The defenders, Hugh de Bradfute and his son, were slain, and his daughter Marion - the betrothed, or, as some say, the wife of William Wallace - was conveyed to Lanark, where she was barbarously executed because she refused to reveal the whereabouts of her lover. Wallace exacted swift vengeance. He burnt out the English garrison and killed the sheriff.

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