‘Well re­garded’ phi­lan­thropists

Dumfries & Galloway Standard - - DISTRICT NEWS -

The his­tory of Ter­re­gles es­tate and the Her­ries fam­ily were traced at the first meet­ing of the new year when mem­bers of The Friends of the Archives of Dum­fries and Gal­loway were ad­dressed by Bill Bryd­son.

Mr Bryd­son is a well-known au­thor­ity on the sub­ject hav­ing as­sem­bled an ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of doc­u­ments and arte­facts, the re­sult of a life­time’s re­search into the par­ish and district.

Within the limited time avail­able he was only able to touch upon many top­ics which he il­lus­trated with in­ter­est­ing snip­pets and anec­dotes from his en­cy­clopaedic knowl­edge.

The name Ter­re­gles is per­haps de­rived from the French Terre d’Eglise as it was once the prop­erty of Lin­clu­den Abbey.

The vil­lage was not where it is to­day but was sit­u­ated about a mile east­wards from the church where field marks, the foun­da­tion foot­prints of houses, are clearly seen.

Scat­tered through­out the par­ish are large sub-an­gu­lar boul­ders, rem­nants of a more re­mote past dur­ing the qua­ter­nary ice-age. Th­e­ses glacial events also pro­duced fine qual­ity build­ing sand for which the area is renowned.

The ma­jor landown­ers in the par­ish were the Maxwell fam­ily, whose an­cient ti­tle was for­feited in 1715. To a cer­tain ex­tent, they are re­garded as the res­cuers of the Ro­man Catholic faith in south west Scot­land by sup­port­ing a priest in their pri­vate chapel on the es­tate. They were also ma­jor bene­fac­tors of the Ro­man Church in the wake of the Catholic Eman­ci­pa­tion Act of 1829.

Later in the 1880s Lady Winifred pro­vided a large amount of money to­wards the build­ing of St Bene­dict’s Con­vent for the ed­u­ca­tion of girls at Cor­berry Hill.

Be­cause of such phil­an­thropic ges­tures, the Maxwells were well re­garded by their ten­ant farm­ers and as her­i­tors they took their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties se­ri­ously. Al­though Catholic lairds, they funded the build­ing and main­te­nance of the Protes­tant Par­ish Church among other things.

Af­ter the First World War, the es­tate was in dire straights and de­spite low­er­ing farm rentals the fam­ily was forced to let Ter­re­gles House in or­der to make ends meet.

De­spite be­ing placed on the mar­ket, no of­fers were made and in the end the whole es­tate was bro­ken up and sold pri­vately. In­ter­est­ingly some farms were di­vided to make small­hold­ings as part of the “homes for heroes” scheme.

Bill de­scribed the grind­ing ab­ject poverty of the 1920s and 1930s, when for ex­am­ple chil­dren of­ten went miss­ing from school on Mon­day morn­ings be­cause their fam­i­lies, un­able to af­ford their rents, did a “moon­light flit” over the week­end.

The Maxwells orig­i­nally in­her­ited most of their wealth from the Her­ries Bill Bryd­son spoke on his­tory of Ter­re­gles es­tate

fam­ily when the Her­ries’ male line failed in 1543 and Agnes Her­ries mar­ried Sir John Maxwell.

The Her­ries were thought to have been Nor­man French in ori­gin and came over with David I in the 12th cen­tury.

Over time they ac­cu­mu­lated vast tracts of land in Northum­bria and Eng­land and swore fealty to Ed­ward I.

Their power and sphere of in­flu­ence should not be un­der­es­ti­mated since in the early days they were prob­a­bly re­spon­si­ble for build­ing at least 10 abbeys and re­li­gious foun­da­tions.

Archivist Gra­ham Roberts thanked Mr Bryd­son for his most in­ter­est­ing talk and mem­bers went away, their ap­petite hav­ing been whet­ted, to un­der­take more read­ing and re­search around the sub­ject.

In­ter­est­ing talk

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