- source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
- source: Family History Library Catalog
Biggar is the furthest east of the parishes of the former county of Lanarkshire. The great part of its area of 11.3 sq. miles (29.5km2) is a town also named Biggar. The parish os situated in the hill range known as the Southern Uplands, close to the upper reaches of the River Clyde, and about 30 miles from Edinburgh along the A702. Biggar serves a wide rural area with the nearest towns being Lanark (12 miles) and Peebles (15 miles). The population of Biggar was around 2,000 in 2001. There has been little change in the population size since 1887.
- the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia
Biggar occupies a key location close to two of Scotland's great rivers, the Clyde flowing to the west, and the Tweed flowing to the east. The area has been occupied since Mesolithic times. The present day A702 follows the route of a Roman road, which linked the Clyde Valley with Musselburgh.
In the 12th century, a motte and bailey castle was constructed by the Normans, and the first permanent crossing of the Biggar Burn was built. It is thought that there has been a church at Biggar since the 6th or 7th century, although the first stone kirk was built in 1164, on the site of the existing kirk.
In the 14th century, the Fleming family were given lands in the area by Robert the Bruce, whose cause they had supported. The Flemings built Boghall Castle, visible as a ruin until the early 20th century, but now only represented by a few mounds. The town continued to grow as an important market town, and in 1451 the town became a burgh. The market place remains the central focus of the town. The kirk was rebuilt as a Collegiate church in 1546 for Malcolm, 3rd Lord Fleming, the last to be established before the Reformation of 1560. The Flemings found themselves on the wrong side in the 16th century, when they supported Mary, Queen of Scots, and their lands were given over to the Elphinstone family.
Biggar Gas Works opened in 1836, producing gas from coal. In 1973, with the introduction of natural gas, the works closed. Biggar had its own railway station between 1860 and 1953.
John Brown the physician and essayist was born in a house in the South Back Road in 1810 which was at that time a manse. He is commemorated with a plaque on the front wall of the municipal hall.
In early 1900 a farmer located in Biggar founded Albion Motors as a small business which eventually grew into the largest truck company in the British Empire. The company still exists as part of the Leyland DAF group. The archives of Albion motors can still be found in Biggar.
In the summer of 1940 several thousands of Polish soldiers were stationed here, having been evacuated after the collapse of France. Later they moved to the east coast of Scotland to defend the coast and to train for their deployment as the 1st Polish Armoured Division in Normandy, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Sources for Old Parish Registers Records, Vital Records and Censuses
- Scotland's People This is a pay website providing vital statistics and census data for all of Scotland with original images. There is a description at Scotland under Genealogical Resources.
Notes for Lanarkshire
- GENUKI has a list of references for Lanarkshire. Some of these may be superseded by more modern material.
- FreeCen index includes the whole of Lanarkshire for 1841 and a substantial section for 1851. The Genealogical Society of Utah sponsored the collection of 1881 census records and these will be found at FamilySearch. A search of all the censuses for Scotland may be done for a fee at Scotland's People
- ’’Lanarkshire Monumental Inscriptions: Pre 1855 Inscriptions and maps from the burial grounds of the Upper (southern) Ward of South Lanarkshire’’. Edited by Sheila A Scott, M.A. Book available through both of the above family history societies or from the original publisher: The Scottish Genealogical Society.
- The Biggar Parish Registers for the Church of Scotland provide information on baptisms (1730-1854), marriages (1806-1810 and 1836-1854) and burials (no records). See the FamilySearch Wiki article on Biggar for other church denominations.
Further Sources of Reference
Please note and respect the copyright warnings on these websites.
- Scottish Places article on the parish of Biggar. The tabs of the right provide more information, and comparative maps.
- The FamilySearch Wiki article on Biggar provides direct reference to FamilySearch holdings on many topics with respect to the parish.
- The National Library of Scotland have a website devoted to maps from the 1600s right up to the present. Comparisons of modern-day and old maps of the same place can be made. From the home page click on "Find by place" and then follow the instructions on the next page. Once you are viewing the place you want, use the slider <----> at the top of the map to compare the layout of roads and the place names of smaller areas, perhaps even farms, with the landscape today. The website takes some getting used to. The One-inch 2nd edition, Scotland, 1898-1904 OS is a series of maps with the parishes delineated. Each of these maps cover an area of 18 x 24 miles and will zoom to comfortable reading size with a couple of mouse clicks on the map itself. Unfortunately, they are not geo-referenced, and it is necessary to go to the OS One Inch 1885-1900 series to locate places by latitude and longitude.
- The Statistical Accounts for Scotland In the 1790s and again in the 1830s, the ministers of the all the parishes of the Church of Scotland were asked to provide a description of their parish to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The original account request included 160 questions to be answered. These accounts are available in print in 20 volumes and are also online where it is freely available to browse. The browsing portal is below the viewing area of most computer screens. Scroll down to "For non-subscribers" and click on "Browse scanned pages". This brings you to another page on which one can enter the name of the parish in which you are interested.
- Excerpts from The Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885 are provided by Scottish Places. Selections from Groome and other gazetteers from the 19th century are also found on GENUKI.