Redcroft – in High Blantyre land came up for sale in 1863 near the Old Parish Church, called Redcroft. The ad went thus: “To be sold by Public Roup, in the Faculty Hall, Saint George’s Place, Glasgow, on Wednesday, 18 February, 1863, at Two o’clock, afternoon, unless previously disposed of by private bargain. An enclosed FIELD, called the REDCROFT, part of the lands of Priestfield, lying near to the Parish Church, and containing about Two Scotch Acres of excellent Land, pleasantly situated, and well adapted for the Erection of Villas. To insure a sale, the Upset Price will be only £250. For further particulars, apply to Archibald Brownlie, Writer, Barrhead, at No. 5 Dundas Street, Glasgow, who has the Title Deeds and Articles of Roup.”
The name Redcroft is largely forgotten and there are only a handful of historical references to give us a clue as to where this field was. William Scott won a prize in the dairy section of the Cambuslang, Blantyre and Rutherglen Agricultural Show in 1869 and is noted as being at Redcroft Farm High Blantyre. Redcroft Farm, from the description of the advert sounds like it may have been an original name of the Back Priestfield Farm.
Picking apart more clues, “an enclosed field”, suggests it was not open to a roadway, but enclosed by other fields or perhaps enclosed by a wall? “Red” is interesting and suggests iron or ironstone connections, such as Redburn.
The advert in 1863 suggests the field was “lying near the Parish Church”, but that may be a simplified description in the same way Kirkton Cross is “near the Church”. On the subject of that church, at the time of the advert, the construction of the current Old Parish Church must have been underway, the church masonry rising out the ground, some 4 or 5 months before opening. 1865 Valuation Book: Mr. Thomas Scott owned land called Redcroft at High Blantyre (there is no mention of Redcroft in 1855 valuation roll). Mr. William Scott was the occupier (surely faming it?) There is nothing in 1875 valuation roll and beyond it, so it would appear the name Redcroft was short lived. In the Glasgow Herald on 23rd May 1868, William won 1st prize for a bull he put into a competition. On 22nd May 1869, William Scott won 4th prize in a contest for the butter he entered. These mentions of Redcroft are both beside long lists of other farmers and notably their farm names.
With an earliest reference being 1863 and the latest reference being 1869 for farming this land, question has to be what happened after 1870 that caused the name to vanish from future reference? Perhaps it vanished due to the arrival of Dixons (coalmasters)?
Looking at the 1859 map, the closest map to the first mention of the name, there are a few enclosed fields nearby to Priestfield. Another consideration is that location could have been in one of the several little fields between near to Bellsfield.
1871 Census: There is a William Scott in Blantyre in 1871; aged 30 years old with a son William aged 3. In that year, William and his brother Thomas aged 17, lived at Priestfield Farm House with their uncle Thomas Scott, aged 69, the head of the household and farmer of 77 arable acres. Thomas Scott employed 2 men and 2 women. One of the employees was nephew William, who was the ploughman. (Presumably of Redcroft field) With the family were also Thomas Scott’s sisters, Mary 65, Ann 63 and Lillias 50, all spinsters. Thomas Scotts appear not to have married. The census describes their home (where these people all lived together) as the 5 roomed, “Priestfield 1 storey farmhouse”. There is a line drawn under it saying in bold, “End of Kirkton”, the next entries towards Causeystones and Bellsfield.
1881 Census: Reveals more. William is still at Priestfield with his brother. William is now 40 and still a ploughman. Old Thomas Scott is now 79, and incredibly he has 4 sisters, all spinsters living with him, the 3 mentioned above plus Janet aged 81. The sisters were houskeepers and elderly dairymaids. Importantly though, there is a distinction made on the location this time. They all lived at Priestfield Farm. The next entry beside it is for Andrew Hunter, born in Linlithgow who was head of Back Priestfield Farm, noted as closer to Kirkton. (Back Priestfield was the farm beside the later masonic hall) and that the Farm on Main Street (where Priestfield halls are now) was actually Priestfield Farm where the Scotts lived. Of note on the 1881 census, old Thomas Scott owned 75 arable acres, 2 short of his total 10 years earlier, i.e He had sold Redcroft’s 2 acres and we now see the first mention of Back Priestfield.
We are left to conclude here, although not for certain (and rarely for me, speculation in my humble opinion), that Redcroft was a previous and former name for Back Priestfield farm, near Kirkton Cross.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul D Veverka (c)2016
Thank you to Gordon Cook for initially raising the query.
On social media:
Brian Weaver I seem to remember a house across the road from Blantyre Old Parish Church being called Croft something, or something Croft. Could it be that the croft was a small farm which lost most of its land to the building of both the church and the railway and all that remained were 2 acres which were sold off as a house site?