Kinna History

From the 1841 Scottish census, Kinna families were mainly in Kirkcudbright, may be sixteen or more, with only one or two in Wigtonshire and elsewhere in Scotland. now all have left. I can trace my family back to William[1] and Mary Muir, in about 1750, and it is lightly that William [2] their eldest son, married Jean Wilson. I know little about them, or other members of his family. I have not been able to establish the connections between families but since they were all in such a small area I believe there must be a connection.

William[2] had 4 boys of which only two David[3] and Robert[3] married. David had 8 boys of which only 5 married that I know of, my line stems from David's eldist son William, who is my Great Grandfather. Of David's other boys James's branch has ended. John's branch has also ended, only Robert's branch in Canada, is still growing. Edward changed his name to McKenzie before he married in NewZealand, I have included him as he is a blood relative.

Robert[3] married Jessie McQuie, currently they have about four active or potential new branches through their son Alexander. My line from William[4], split into three, James, William and John, my grandfather. James line has finished with himself as he had no surviving sons. William had one son who in turn had one son, Mackenzie known as Ken, who in his turn had two sons. But at present there no male children to carry on the line.

My grandfather had only one son, Andrew my father. I had two sons, my brother did not marry. So from the beginning in 1745 to now there are 8 or more potential new branches in about nine generations.

The move out of the area started with David[3], and some of his neighbours, who went down to London for several years, and in fact he married there and their first child was born there in 1826. by the time that the second child was born they had returned to Blackcraig. I don't know what they did in London but assume that they were labouring, may be on the Brunel's Thames tunnel, started in 1823 and suspended in 1828 after the flooding. As a miner tunnelling would have been an obvious choice of work.

Advert from Wigtown Free Press January 1883

When William[4] started work, he too was a miner in the Blackcraig mines. By the time William's brother James was 18 he and John went to Liverpool and worked as Drapers. In 1861 Edward is also shown in Liverpool living with brother John. James had returned to Minnigaff and was living with his family in Machermore Cottage, his brother Adam was also living with them. When he returned from Liverpool he had come in to money, and did not have to work [see James 1829 from main menu]. John married and stayed in Liverpool. He lived in 19 Christian Street and had seven girls and ultimately a son. Only the first born Sybella, married, the next three died in 1870. The three remaining girls lived till their seventy's and eighty's. John died age 65, his wife out lived him by 16 years.

Edward left Liverpool and made his way to New Zealand and followed the drapery trade. He was married in 1875. I don't know when he arrived in New Zealand and wether he worked his passage or became a Seaman, but he changed his name to McKenzie. It is said he took the name of the Captain of the Ship that he was on. My father told me that the Kinna name came from Mckenzie and although I have never been able to make that connection may be there is a connection between Edwards name change and my fathers information.

Robert[3] initially worked as a miner until 1888 when he joined his son William and in USA, where he spent the rest of his days, I assume as a farmer .

The move to USA by Robert's sons in about 1879 could have been sparked off be newspaper adverts at the time, offering free land and cheap passages. Where ever they landed, they would have to have travelled to North Dakota, about 1500 miles by train and could have taken 3 or 4 days. There they settled and obtained land grants. When in 1900 when the Canadian Government offered land grants, William and family moved to Estevan just over the border in Canada, although William did not carry on farming but started the lumber business. At some time Reginald John Kinna joined William in Estevan, in 1916 he joined the Canadian Army, but it is not known if he served in France, but he did survive the war, unlike his brother William[6] who was in the 5th Lincolnshire regiment but died and is buried in Flanders

James Green[5] had two sons James Eckerdley and Kenmuir. James Eckerdley joined the the 9th Battalion Royal Scotts at the outbreak of the war. He later transferred to the 16th Battalion Royal Lancs Fusiliers as second lieutenant, and gained the MC. He was then transferred to the 68th Training Division in Etaples on the 17th March 1916.

More information on individuals may be found from the main menu.

In the records of the kirk-session, which commence in 1694, it is indiscriminately Monnygoof, Monogof, Minnigoff, and Minnegoffe. It first appears as Minnigaff in the records of 1737, in which way it is now generally written. The name is evidently derived from the Gaelic monna dhubh, signifying a dark mountainous region, a description peculiarly characteristic of the aspect of the parish.

Minnigaff village reproduced from J G Kinna's book
'History of the Parish of Minnigaff' published in 1904

The parish is upwards of 20 miles in length from north to south, and varies from 8 to 12 miles in breadth from east to west, and contains 127 square miles. Its figure is an irregular oblong. It is bounded on the west by the river Cree, which separates it from Penninghame; on the south and southeast, by the parishes of Kirkmabreck and Girthon; on the east, by the parishes of Kells and Carsphairn, the river Dee being the natural boundary; and on the north and north west (Ayrshire), by the parishes of Straiton, Barr, and Colmonell.

The greater part of the parish being of a mountainous and rugged description, is only adapted for pasturage, there being hardly a twelfth part of it arable. Many of the farms are of great extent. The largest contains 4700 acres. It requires four an a-half acres to graze sheep, and rent does not exceed 6d. an acre. There are several others little inferior in size. On the arable lands, rotation of crops now generally prescribed in leases is 1st, oats; 2d, green crop; 3d, oats or barley; 4th, hay; and two years pasture....

The black-faced is the common breed of sheep kept, though a few of the Leicester breed are reared in the lower parts of the parish... ...The number of sheep at present is kept at 33,500.

The black polled native cattle, usually denominated, Galloways, are the common breed kept. More attention is bestowed on the rearing of cattle than on the produce of the dairy. The number of cattle is about 2000 of all ages.

...The lead mines are distant about two miles from the village of Minnigaff, on the boundary of the Kirouchtree and Machermore estates. The lead was first discovered in 1763, and was shortly afterwards wrought. For many years the mines were very productive, producing many hundred tons of lead annually... ...they abandoned the works in 1839, and the buildings errected for smelting the ore are now in ruins...

There is no market town in the parish, and the nearest is Newton-Stewart, on the opposite bank on the Cree. The post town is Newton-Stewart, and letters are delivered in Minnigaff twice a day. The great road from Portpatrick to Dumfries passes for four miles through the parish. An excellent turnpike road has been formed to New Galloway...

from New Statistical Account, by Rev. Michael Stewart Johnstone 1845


The mineralisation of the rocks around Creetown associated with the granite there has been mined for lead and zinc at various periods from 1760 to the 1880s. The whole area between Gatehouse of Fleet and Newton Stewart has been rich enough for some fairly long-lasting mines to be established, although all are now abandoned or exhausted. Lead sulphide (galena) was the main ore mined, although in later periods zinc sulphide (calamine) was also mined.

The construction of the Military Road in 1763-1764 from Gatehouse to Creetown had uncovered some seams of lead at Blackcraig, which were exploited by the Craigtown Mining Company on land owned by Patrick Heron. It appears that Heron and the Dumfries merchant William Carruthers had been considering mining as early as 1755, founding a company in 1758, but the discovery beside the Military Road gave them the impetus to start operations. Besides Carruthers and Heron, the adventurers included three London and one Edinburgh merchant. Trials may have started in 1764, but plans of 1768 show proposals rather than an actual mine. The height of operations was to be from 1770 - 1790, the mine becoming harder to work from then onwards due to water problems. The end of the Napoleonic Wars saw the re-opening of Spanish mines and a depression in lead prices that lasted until the 1850s.

It is interesting to note the following extract from James Green Kinna's book 'History of the Parish of Minnigaff' published in 1904:

"It is known that the lead mines have been in that locality for several centuries, and I have been told by some of the miners that they had occasionally found very ancient underground workings when searching for ore. These workings, or "old men" as they are. technically called, always run in a horizontal direction, from which it is surmised that the ancient miners had not appliances necessary for sinking a shaft. In the neighbourhood of these old workings are also traces of many houses having formerly existed, but concerning which nothing is now known. These facts induce me to believe that Craigton, as Blackcraig was formerly called, was existing as a mining village in pre-reformation times [Scottish reformation is said to be about 1560]. There were also the ruins of a superior house standing at the hillhead in the earlier part of this century; but I could never gain much information as to its history. I have been told that it was built by a company, who leased the mine in former times, as a dwelling-house for their agent. It may have been put to this use in its later years, but I do not think it was originally built for any such purpose. 'There are people living yet, members of one of four, families which inhabited "Old Windsor," as the house was called, and they assert that it was no common building, but was of a superior style of architecture and finish. Old Windsor was totally wrecked by the great storm which took place on Sunday 6th, and finished on Monday, 7th January, 1839."

Blackcraig was never very profitable, the 1783 accounts illustrating a loss of £150 1 shilling on expenses of £903 14 shillings and 51/2 pence and sales of 761 bars (50 tons) of bar lead at £753 10 shillings and 5 pence. Cost-cutting measures improved the output to 65 tons but the profit was only £150. Part of the problem appears to have been inefficiency in smelting the ore, much ore thus being wasted. This indicates that the furnaces may not have been enclosed designs such as were used at Wanlockhead lead mine. Papers on the mine include a 1792 design for a Smelting Mill that may never have been constructed.

As the ore seam ran into the lands of Machermore, its owner Patrick Dunbar also opened a mine. which also ran into problems as the most accessible seams were exhausted by 1793. For a time, it was exporting 400 tons of ore per year by sea to be smelted in Chester.

From 1853, a revival in lead prices brought about the re-opening of the Blackcraig mines for mining both lead ore and zinc ore. Figures from then until 1880 show bursts in production, with periods of low yield, or even (1861-1865) barely twenty tons of ore in a year. West Blackcraig began with 501 tons of ore (383 tons of lead) in 1853, ending at 37 ore (28 lead) in 1871. East Blackcraig - which may be Machermore - began 1853 with corresponding figures of 137 ore and 106 lead, had its highest output in 1876 with 455 ore and 341 lead, figures ending in 1880 with just 197 ore and 147 lead. However, East Blackcraig also produced 1,000 tons of zinc during the 1870s, which may have justified lead production.

From The Industrial Archaeology of Galloway by Dr Ian Donnachie 1971

Further reading on the mines of Blackcraig

Lead was of importance to the Romans since large lead shot formed an important part of their defensive armament, being used in conjunction with slings. It is an interesting fact that quantities of lead shot were uncovered during excavations of the siege fort at Arriswark, Dumfries. This, of course, is riot conclusive proof of Roman activity. However it is known that small parties radiated out from the fort prospecting for minerals. In AD 74 Romans were using prisoners to mine for lead in other parts of Britain.

By 1780 there were a total of 44 workmen employed. This number included 25 pickmen, 7 smelters , 3 drawers of water. 1 blacksmith and 1 wright.

The Craigton Company were very active during the period 1760-1790, when the treated ore was dispatoried to Chester for smelting. The output of the mine was considered such as to warrant the erection of a smelt mill in 1770. This mill, or furnace. was built opposite Challochcroft on land which was part of Calgow Farm. During this period the Company also constructed a shot tower in Creetown. The field where the furnace stood, according to a map surveyed in 1832. was called Smelt Mill Meadow.

The smelting of lead ore produces large quantities of lead in the furnace flue system. The flue system adopted by the Company resulted in the area around the furnace being heavily contaminated with lead. So heavy was the contamination that domestic animals were being seriously affected, resulting in signs of brain damage, and in some instances death. Domestic fowls were also affected by the pollution. The operation of the furnace was discontinued, and it was dismantled. No trace of this furnace has been found.

To overcome the contamination of the surrounding countryside lengthy flues were constructed, giving time for the effluent from the furnace to cool and so condense out the toxic lead content. In the Midlands, for instance the distance between the furnace and the chimney would be in the order of 3/4 mile, with final chimney being on top of a hill.

An ore washing plant and crushing mill was built on the site previously occupied by the smelt mill, However large quantities of water was required in order to remove the earthy material from-the crushed ore.

Work was therefore commenced to provide this water by building Glen Amour Loch for the Craigton Company. The Bruntis Lochs were also excavated to provide water for the Blackcraig Company. This water was directed to the sites by the construction of lades. The lade from the Glen Amour Loch provided power which was utilised to drive a saw mill for the Kirroughtree estate. The building housing the sawmill can be seen on the side of the road to New Galloway. just opposite the entrance to the present Kirroughtree Hotel. The water was then routed via Calgow Farm, where a meal mill was built then on to the ore washing site.

The water from the Bruntis Lochs was routed down the left-hand side of the Blackcraig to Stronord road, The site of the washing plant can be seen on the right of the road, and is indicated by a large bank of debris devoid of any plant life.

At this period in time neither railway nor the A75 route existed, therefore the lead ore had to be transported to the nearest smelters, which were at Chester, on the River Dee, by boat. This required the provision of some form of jetty in order to facilitate the loading of the boats with ore. A part of the Palnure Burn was widened in order that the boats could be turned around ready to proceed downstream. and eventually into the River Cree.

The evidence of this jetty has completely disappeared. However. as far as I have been able to ascertain. the jetty was sited on the bank of the Palnure Burn immediately downstream of the present A75 bridge. This jetty was also used for the unloading of coal collected by the empty boats returning from Chester. This coal was distributed for domestic purposes throughout the County.

In order to illustrate the importance of cargo weight, the following extract from the Wigtownshire Free Press , dated 21st November 1850, is worthy of note-

"Saturday 16th the sloop 'Fame' of Wigtown, Captain G Dotiriely, loaded with 40 tons of Lead ore at Palnure, belonging to the Blackcraig Mining Company. She proceeded down the Cree on voyage to Flint but opposite the Grange Farm she came against one of the dykes built into the river as an embankment and stuck fast. When the tide had partly left her she heeled over, her cargo shifted and she filled with water. On the Monday a large quantity of empty barrels was got and lashed on to her side when she was lying in six feet of water at ebb tide, however she did not arise as expected with the flood tide. Next day full f rom the great fall of rain, the Cree was much swollen that she and her cargo were completely lost."

A scrutiny of the particulars of this ship reveals. if all the reported facts are correct. a tendency to overload may have been quite common. It was also reported in the Wigtownshire Free Press that the 'Fame' was carrying a tonnage of 40 tons of ore. However the Custom and Excise records list the 'Fame' as normally carrying only 27 tons. Was there then a tendency to exceed the safe loading limit in order to make more money?

With a fair wind it is stated that the journey to Flint took 20-24 hours. It is said that lead ore was considered a very unpopular cargo with the crew, since the density of the ore resulted in great stress being applied to a small area of the boat's structure.

Due to the tortuous nature of the Palnure Burn it must have been necessary for the boat to be towed to the loading jetty, particularly during spells of low water or adverse wind conditions. The crew of these sloops or wherries consisted of the Master and 3 crew members.

Houses for the miners and their families were built by the Company at the top of the Path Hill and were of the traditional Scottish But and Ben design, a substantial foundation and wall structure, with thatched roof and earth floors. Each house had limited areas for the growing of potatoes etc. It was unfortunate, however, to own poultry or a pig or two, due to the toxic condition of the soil.

This contamination of the soil persists to the present day. The Forestry Commission transported tons of the material to their nursery at Kirroughtree. where it was laid down to form paths dividing the nursery into beds, This solved the problem of weed growth.

The initial working of the mine must have been quite an ordeal for the miners. There was very Iittle ventilation and illumination was provided by tallow candles which were af fixed to the miners helmets by means of a lump of clay. Furthermore, gunpowder was used in order to make progress in the shafts and adits. (An adit is a horizontal shaft or tunnel and was used, in conjunction with a miniature railway system, to extract the loose ore. Pits and adits were measured in fathoms and I have been unable to find the reason for this) [1fathom = 1.82 meters or 6 feet]

Tunnelling was carried out at the work face by 2 miners, one holding a cold chisel called a jumper, whilst the other miner applied the blows with a short handled hammer.

The location of the drilled holes was dictated by the explosives expert and had to be in a position which he considered to be most advantageous in the loosening of the most ore. This was essential. since he had to provide his own explosives and fuses. The explosives expert for some considerable time was a Mr Perroni, which is a family name familiar to most residents of Newton Stewart today.

The combination of smoke from the tallow candles and the the exhaust products of the gunpowder explosions made working conditions extremely unhealthy. These combined fumes were called Mine Reek.

A map indicates that at Craigton Mines the maximum depth of the shafts was in the order of 80 fathoms [145m 480ft], and those at the East Blackcraig Mine 100 fathoms.

Miners were paid approximately 2s2d [11p] a day, depending to a degree on the distance tunnelled.

An extract from the Scottish Statistical Account for the year 1851 lists the number of lead miners employed as follows:



reproduced with permission of Stranraer Museum

The photograph illustrates the type of house, with all initially having thatched roofs. Later on the thatch was replace with bitumen sheeting. and much later some of the houses had corrugated sheeting roofs. The street shown was called Silver Strand. Water was obtained from two wells located on the Larg Hill, These, however, have been obliterated by the Forestry Commission planting programme, The water had to be carried in buckets to the houses and was said to be of exceptional purity.

One of the first houses, in fact for some considerable time the only house, was occupied by Mrs Jane Campbell. The house was called The Bungalow, and not surprisingly this lady was always referred to as 'Jane the Bungalow'. As a matter of interest the Feu Duty, as itemised in 'The Estate of Kirroughtree', compiled in 1923, was £15-8-0, paid annually.

A local man, who was born in the mining houses, told me that each night the bedroom end of the house would be searched in case an adder snake,might be in residence.

According to the Statistical Account in 1881 a total of 63 men were employed In the mines. which remained open until 1882. They were closed until 1916 when they were reactivated due to the increased demand for lead during World War I. In fact the price of lead appeared to be controlled by wars:

1) Napoleonic

2) American War of Independence

The price of a ton of lead continued to fall: £32 in 1809, £24 in 1813, £27 in 1818 and £11 in 1859.

A high tariff was in operation against the import of lead. Unfortunately for all local mines this tariff was removed and all mines were subsequently closed for good.

The lead yield was approximately 2 tons of lead for every 3 tons of ore. An attempt to re-open the mines during World War 1 by a company called The Ore Supply Company Ltd of Newton Stewart was doomed to failure and they finally closed in 1920. The company also carried out extensive research in the surrounding area. Prospectors brought their samples to an assay office located in the building in Victoria Street. Newton Stewart, which was later taken over by G McCreath, the ironmongers.

In addition to lead small deposits of copper and zinc were found, but not of a quantity warranting the opening of mines.

Mines were also opened up at Cairnsmore. Dallash and Bargally, but these proved unprofitable and were quickly closed.

In a later stage of mining lamps were issued, either paraffin or acetylene, and as a safty measure these lamps were checked at the termination of each shift. A cottage halfway up the Path Hill now called The Lighthouse, presented somewhat of a problem since its location made it difficult to appreciate its effectiveness as a lighthouse. However a gentleman residing in Cumloden Manor Home, Mr Spiers, solved my problem by stating that as a boy he worked in the mines when the miners had to check in their lamps at this cottage. At that time it was called The Light Hoose.

Unfortunately nothing remains today to indicate the existence of the industry except for the slight evidence of the miners cottages, and Mr Service of Calgow showed me the top part of one of the iron bogies, used on iron rails to extract the ore via the adits. It is now an ornamental flower container. Mr Spiers also informed me that Mrs Service provided many of the families, particularly those with children, with cake and scones etc, carrying baskets of them up the Path Hill. She was a very much thought of lady.

The mining community met frequently at a place called Parliament Knowe in order to exchange information and listen to music provided by their own band. Romany Gypsies annually camped there for short periods, thus adding to the entertainment. The community also formed a football team called The Heather Bells.

At the foot of the Path Hill there existed an ale house. Its exact location is so far unknown. however the complaint notice is evidence of its existance.

Finally, in order to convey the atmosphere and 'conditions in which the miners worked long daily shifts (except on Sundays). I have added the details of a visit underground, undertaken by a gentleman named Alexander Trotter, who lived, it is said at Dalshangan, Carsphairn:

In (or Down) a Galloway Lead Mine (c 1872 or 1873)

...the 132 fathoms between bank and bottom have to be gone through on almost perpendicular ladders the narrow hole, with a ladder poking out of it, presented itself as the one means of communication for everything human with the depths below...

Dimmer and dimmer grows the light as step after step is taken on the perpendicular and ever-darkening ladder; and as twilight is succeeded by gloom, and gloom by a darkness which may be felt, the fact that a false footstep, a rotten rung, or a weakened wrist may precede a hurl into the gulf below, is far from reassuring at the bottom of this, the first of a series of ladders a couple of candles make the surrounding darkness grimly visible. By means of clay, we each stick the dip to the front of our helmet-like caps (some two or three pounds weight these seem by the way) and thus illuminated we renew the toilsome journey downwards. The surroundings seen thus are dismal in the extreme: jagged rocks adown which trickle and drop the ever-present water, slime, and round on every hand props to keep the less solid sides from falling in. On the left is the shaft proper, a yawrnng gulf up and down which comes and goes at intervals a huge jug-like kibble, in which the ore is taken to the top

The left arm rubs meanwhile uneasily against a moving iron rod as we descend, the means of communication between top and bottom. and every now and again the body has to be squeezed through a man-hole, our candle being more than once extinguished in the operation. At certain stages we come upon cranes, planking and other working materials, the lumber legacies of former owners, now only in the way when the mine has been sunk deeper and deeper and newer workings opened out

We stop at the various levels, the 30 fathom, the 60 fathom, the 80 fathom and so on, and candle in hand now pick our way warily over masses of ore and under ragged archways like unto tunnels, summer and winter, time and harvest, it is all the same here, and the perspiration as by this time come out on the forehead like great beads. Above and around us meanwhile gleam the welcome lead, now appearing in clumps and patches and again in streaks running away and losing themselves in the dim distance. Every now and again the lead will disappear entirely and we come upon giant blocks of whinstone and masses of coal-like rock, which latter. crumbles into its original dust in contact with the light and air above.

But down we must go and, with candle oncemore fixed in helmet. we prepare to again hand-and-foot it on the now-familiar ladder. Every now and then we come upon a goblin-like miner, candle-illumined and grimy, prosecuting his work as cheerily as though his workshop were door'd and window'd and opened out upon a street.

Here we are at last at the very bottom, 900 feet from daylight, every inch of which has been gone over hand over hand. foot over foot. It takes, it seems, the workmen twenty minutes tramping to come from top to bottom, while the upward journey occupies fully half-an-hour. They work in shifts, eight hours at a time and are paid either by the piece or hour according to the nature of the work. They generally work in twos and each couple receive weekly three pounds of candles and a supply of gunpowder for blasting purposes...

In the bottom of the shaft a man is busy filling up the kibble from a mass of ore before him, brought here by little wagons from all the galleries by means of ingeniously contrived trapdoors. Round and round we go, east and west, north and south, to the extremity of working, lead and blend glistening in the candle light no the roof, wall, and floor almost everywhere.

Along several chambers or galleries we prowl dodging a rocky headland here, and splashing and wading and jumping there: crawl through various holes and clime innumerable masses of ore on all floors, finally sliding down an inclined plane of wood and drpping upon our level several feet below.

Up now, and a weary, fatiguing task it is, each successive ladder seeming less startdicular and wider apart in the steps than that that which had gone before. About midway up we meet the descending shift, and sitting down on a convenient plank behind the water pipe we listen to the clink clanking of the coming men, to whom the journey comes as easy as to walk along a pavement. As each emerges from the darkness with a candle in his hand and a bunch at his buttonhole and disappears in the depths below, to be succeeded by another in like manner, and another, the effect is as weird-like as it is novel.

from History of East and West Blackcraig Lead Mines
by Mr T R Smith MBE