Dunscore Churchyard

This article was written by Tom Carrick for the Summer 1990 Score magazine
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 Dunscore Churchyard

Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Thomas Gray.

These lines from 'Elegy in a Country Churchyard', often come to mind as I walk through Dunscore Churchyard, close as it is to my home.  Gray's Elegy abounds with quotations - 'Each in his narrow cell for ever laid', - 'Let not ambition mock their useful toil', - 'The paths of glory lead but to the grave', - 'Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife'.  The verse which applies most aptly to Dunscore Churchyard is surely, -

Yet ev'n these bones from insult to protect
Some frail memorial still erected nigh
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.

There are many gravestones with lines of poetry, some very difficult to read.  In the far corner there is a large stone, obviously meant for many family names, but bearing only two, - Andrew and Margaret Coltart, of Stroquhan Lodge.  Andrew died in 1881 aged 75 yrs, his wife having predeceased him in1853, aged only 35.  Their family added these poignant words, -

Our much loved parents resteth here
Laid in this lonely spot
Though far away from loved ones
They shall not be forgot

Near the West Door there is a grave containing much local information,  The first name is that of one, Mary Smith, wife of Benjamin McAllister who died at Lochhill in 1902.  Benjamin died  at Maxwell Terrace in 1909.  Maxwell Terrace is on the skirts of the village, now known as 'Jalee'.  The next name is William Waugh, kinsman to Robert Waugh, Craigeller.  William died at Fernlea in 1934, and his widow, Martha McAllister died at Hillcrest, opposite the church.  The almost illegible verse whih adorns this grave reads as follows:-

We shall part to meet for ever
There shall be a glorious dawn
We shall meet to part, no never
At the Resurrection morn

The old house at Dalgoner Mill is now a total ruin.  Even the pump outside the milk house has gone.  But on 13th November, 1828, Jean Welsh died there, she having been born in 1768.  Her husband, James McKay added these words:_

 The dear immortal took hir flight
From shades of sin to glorious light
No more to mourn an absent God
No more to  fear afflictions' rod
When sickness had reduced her frame
And her last parting moments came
She welcomd death with all her heart
And even longed to depart

The word 'welcomed' is reproduced as sculpted with an x under the m in place of a caret.  Note that even with this correction the e is still omitted.  The mis-spelling of 'her' in the first line is also as it appears on the stone.  Of course, it may have been that the McKay family lived right down beside the river in the old mill at the Linn.  There are evidences, long since buried, that one of the buildings down there had been a dwelling house.

There is a quaint stone near the gate where the inscription is diamond shaped.

In memory of
John        Carson
who  died at  Collies-
toun April 1800 Aged about
100 years.      Also Anne Clark
his spouse,   who died at  Bogrie
July 1781 aged about 64 years
And also Samuel Carson their
son, late schoolmaster at Kil-
winning   who  died at
Bogrie  Sept 1781
aged    22
years

There is a delightful vagueness about the age of the parents!

Set in the South wall of the church is a memorial in white marble to Francis Johnstone Wilson of Coglin and Stroqhan, who died in 1856 aged only 36 years. The verse of scripture reads:-

I know that he shall rise again in the Resurrection at the last day.

This poem follows:-

Write no record of the dead
But that Christ for him has bled
And the thought may solace give
That the dead in Christ shall live

Near the Grierson lair is a nicely decorated stone to John Clark, 15th October 1889,  Aged 56 years.                                                                                                                                            Two lines of poetry follows:-

This humble stone records no titled fame
But beter far = a Christian servant's name
J.P.C.

I wonder if John wrote his own epitaph?

Near the site of Aggie Hyslop's cottage, by the trees planted by the late William Rankine there is a stone bearing one name only, the cross above leaning against the wall.  How great must have been the sorrow of little Stuart Harrison's parents, and how sad that Easter of 1910.

STUART BOLTON HARRISON
WHO PASSED OVER
ON EASTER DAY
27th March 1910
AGED 2 YEARS 1 MONTH

Under this inscription and almost buried :in this poem, full of pathos:-

NO GENIAL SUN NOR BRACING AIR
NOR LOVING MOTHERS TENDER CARE
COULD STAY THAT EBBING LIFE
OR ROB IT OF ANOTHER BIRTH

South of the church there is a stone recording the death of a young Dunscore boy whose career in journalsm was cut short after only a few years.

Sacred to the memory of
SAMUEL DALZIEL
Compositor, Times Office
Dumfries
Second son of Robert Dalziel
Merchant, Dunscorekirk
And who died there 18th January 1841
aged 18 years, 7 months
THE SUN OF HUMAN LIFE HAD NOT ARRIVED
AT ITS FULL BLAZE OF SPLENDOUR IN THE SKY
WHEN THIS YOUNG LIFE WAS OF ITS BLOOM DEPRIV'D
AND LEFT TO FADE TO WITHER AND TO DIE

There is a very ancient stone beside the path with a carving of a man bearing a skull in one hand and a dagger in the other.  The reverse side contains this inscription:-

Here lyes the corps of
John Paton Beyond ye Lane
who died Debr 22 1750
Aged 70

The Grierson grave near the East door of the church has a stone laid into the ground, and appearing to be of slate. It commemorates:-

JOHN GRIERSON
ASSISTANT SURGEON ROYAL NAVY
BORN 16th August 1793
Died at Glenmidge
19th March 1813
ALSO
JANET AGNES ELIZABETH GRIERSON
Born 3rd March 1791
Died at Ardrassan 30 October 1817
Where she was for the benefit of her health
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