Posted by: Jim Bell | March 13, 2011

1642 – Establishing Posts from Carlisle to Portpatrick

1642 – Establishing Posts from Carlisle to Portpatrick

Owing to the sending of forces from Scotland to put down the Irish rebellion, a considerable intercourse had sprung up between the two countries. The Privy Council accordingly found it necessary to establish postages betwixt Port-Patrick and Edinburgh, and betwixt Port-Patrick and Carlisle, for the conveyance of packets of letters. In this movement, England was more concerned than Scotland, and she therefore cordially agreed to bear all the expense that should be required. It is interesting to trace the first steps in a system now so important as the Post-office.

On a resolution being formed by the parliament of England and the Scottish commissioners, to establish a line of posts between Edinburgh and Port-Patrick, and Port-Patrick and Carlisle, the business of making the arrangements was confided to Robert Glencorse, merchant in Dumfries, under a duty of consulting ‘Mr Burlmakie, master of the letter-office.’ Robert was himself ‘established postmaster betwix Annan and Dumfries, twelve mile; and Mark Loch, betwix Carlisle and Annan, twelve mile; Andrew M’Min betwix Dumfries and Steps of Orr, twelve mile; Ninian Mure betwix the Steps of Orr and Gatehouse of Fleet, twelve mile; and George Bell from thence to the Pethhouse, eleven mile; and John Baillie from thence to the Kirk of Glenluce, thirteen mile; and John M’Caig from that to the port, ten mile.’ These persons were considered ‘the only ones fit for that employment, as being innkeepers and of approved honesty in these parts.’ The lords of the Privy Council were (September 27) supplicated to ratify the arrangements, and to ‘allow John M’Caig, postmaster in Port-Patrick, to have a post bark.’ The supplication was at once complied with.

Domestic Annals of Scotland by Robert Chambers, 1858.

This was a long time before any roads were established in Galloway. The posts would be on horseback and follow old trails.

Steps of Orr seem to refer to a crossing of the River Urr. Later roads crossed at Haugh of Urr and Bridge of Urr, but even today there is a ford across the Urr at Netheryett between Haugh of Urr and Dalbeattie. The first OS survey of 1850’s showed it and called it Stepend Ford. Traditionally, the Old Bridge of Urr carried a date 1580 on a heraldic panel but its date of first erection is not known. The current bridge dates from the 18th century.

The place recorded as Pethhouse, eleven miles west of Gatehouse may refer to an area shown on modern OS maps as Heroncroft, at Blackcraig, just east of Calgow Farm, Minnigaff Parish. On the 1st OS map this area has a house called Path House, and behind it Path Hill.

Gatehouse of Fleet would, at that time, be very small. In describing events occurring during Covenanting times, 40 years later, John Nicholson states:-  “In February 1685 Sir Robert Grierson of Lagg, attended by Colonel Douglas in command of detachments of Claverhouse’s troop of horse and Strachan’s dragoons, after having levied heavy contributions in Wigtownshire, left the County-town early on the morning of the 20th of that month to proceed to Dumfries. The party having reached Gatehouse of Fleet, then a lone public-house, in the afternoon , halted to bait their horses and refresh themselves. “

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