Britannia, by William Camden

Nidisdale.

The River Nid. Big C CLOSE to Annandale on the West, lies Nidisdale, tolerably stock’d with arable and pasture grounds; and so named from the River Nid, by Ptolemy falsely written Nobius, for Nodius or Nidius, of which name there are other Rivers in Britain, * * Vadosi & fœculenti.full of muddy shallows, as this Nid is. ⌈It is encompassed with a ridge of Hills on all sides, and in the bottoms has abundance of Corn. It is divided into the Overward, containing the Parishes in the Presbytery of Penpont; and the Netherward, containing those of Dumfrise Presbytery.⌉

The Nid springs out of the Lake Lough-Cure, upon which stood anciently Corda,Corda. a Town of the Selgovæ. Selgovae It takes its course first by Sauquhar,The Creightons Barons of Sauquhar. a Castle of the Creightons, who were long honoured with the Title of Barons of Sauquhar, ⌈(and advanced by King James the sixth to the dignity of Viscounts of Air, and by King Charles the first to that of Earls of Dumfreis;)⌉ and were also honoured with the authority of hereditary Sheriffs of Nidisdale. Next, it runs by Morton, which † † Ann.1457.hath given the Title of EarlEarls of Morton. to a branch of the family of Douglass; of whom, others are seated at DrumlanrigDrumlanrig. upon the same River, ⌈which gave the title of Viscount to the Laird thereof, by the favour of King Charles the first; and now the eldest son to the Duke of Queensberry hath the title of Drumlanrig; at which place, the late Duke hath built a noble Seat. For, to the said title of Drumlanrig, was added by King Charles the first, the honour of Earl of Queensberry, which was afterwards changed by King Charles the secondSee Dover, in England. into the more honourable titles, first of Marquiss, and then of Duke of Queensberry.⌉

Near the mouth of the river, stands DunfreysDunfreys. between two Hills, the most flourishing Town of this Tract, which still shews its ancient Castle. The Town is famous for its Woollen Manufacture, and remarkable for the murder of John Commin, a person exceeding all others in Interest amongst the Scots; whom Robert Brus, lest he should oppose his coming to the Crown, ran through in the Church, and easily got a pardon of the Pope for a murther committed in a sacred place. ⌈Here, over the Nith, is a stone bridge of nine Arches. The Streets are large, and the Church and Castle very stately: For the convenience of Trade (which is much help’d by the Tide flowing up to the Town, and making an Harbour) they have also an Exchange for Merchants.⌉

Nearer to the mouth of the Nith, Solway, a Village, still retains somewhat of the old name of Selgovæ. Upon the very mouth, is situated Caer-Laverock,Caer-Laverock. Ptolemy’s Carbantorigum, a Fort look’d upon as impregnable, till King Edward the first, accompanied with the flower of the English Nobility, besieged and took it. But * * Ann. 1607.now it is a weak Mansion-House of the Barons Maxwell, who, being of ancient Nobility, were long Wardens of these Western Marches, and were † † Ann. 1607.lately advanced by marriage with a Daughter and Coheir of the Earl of Morton; on which account John Lord Maxwell was declared Earl of Morton; as also with the Daughter and Heir of Hereis Lord Toricles, whom J. a second son, took to wife, and had by her the title of Baron Hereis. Barons Hereis. ⌈Afterwards, the title of Earl of Morton came to the Lairds of Lochleven.⌉ In this Valley also, upon the Lake, lies Glencarn,Glencarn. of which the Cunninghams (to be spoken of under another head) have long born the title of Earl, ⌈being advanced to that honour, in the person of Alexander Lord of Kilmaures, by King James the third, in the year 1488.⌉

This Nidisdale, together with Annandale, breeds a warlike sort of people, but † † So said, ann. 1607.infamous for their depredations. For they dwell upon Solway, a fordable Arm of the Sea, through which they often made excursions into England for booty; and in which the Inhabitants on both sides (a pleasant sight!) hunt SalmonsSalmons. (of which there is great plenty) with spears on horseback, or, if you had rather call it so, fish for them. ⌈From this territory, the Lord Maxwel was created by King James the sixth Earl of Nithsdale; the heirs of whose eldest son failing in the reign of King Charles the second, the Lord Hereis, of the second branch, became Earl of Nithsdale.⌉

Cattle-stealers. What manner of Cattle-stealers they * * Are, C.were that inhabit these Valleys in the Marches of both Kingdoms, John Lesley, a Scotchman himself, and Bishop of Ross, will inform you. They sally out of their own borders in the night, in troops, through unfrequented ways, and many intricate windings. All the day, they refresh themselves and their horses in lurking holes which they had pitch’d upon before, till they arrive, in the dark, at the places they have a design upon. As soon as they have seized the booty, they in like manner return home in the night, through blind ways, and fetch long compasses. The more skilful any Captain is to pass through those wild Desarts, crooked turnings, and deep precipices, in the thickest mist and darkness; his reputation is the greater, and he is looked on as a man of an excellent head. And they are so very cunning, that they seldom have their booty taken from them; unless sometimes, when by the help of Blood-hounds following exactly in the same track, they chance to fall into the hands of their adversaries: When, being taken, they have so much persuasive Eloquence, and so many smooth insinuating words at command, that if they do not move their Judges, nay and even their Adversaries (notwithstanding the greatest severity of nature) to mercy; they at least move them to admiration and compassion.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 13:06