Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for Houston

Houston, a village and a parish of central Renfrew shire. The village stands 130 feet above sea-level o Houston Burn, 1¾ mile NNW of Houston or Crosslee station on the Bridge of Weir section of the Glasgow and South-Western, 33/8 miles W by S of Houston station on the Glasgow and Greenock section of the Caledonian, 3 NNW of Johnstone, and 6 WNW of Paisley. An older village, now extinct, stood a little lower down the burn; and the present place, founded on a regular plan in 1781, consists chiefly of two streets on the two sides of the burn, and presents a neat appearance, with slated two-story houses. It has a post office under Johnstone, and a fair on the second Tuesday of May. Pop. (1841) 623, (1861) 858, (1871) 518, (1881)

The parish, containing also the village of Crosslee and part of Bridge of Weir, comprises the ancient parishes of Houston and Killallan, which inconveniently intersected each other, and were united in 1760. It is bounded N and NE by Erskine, SE and S by Kilbarchan, and W by Kilmalcolm. Its utmost length, from E to W, is 51/8 miles; its utmost breadth is 3¼ miles; and its area is 7644 acres, of which 59½ are water. Gryfe Water winds 7½ miles eastward along all the southern and south-western boundary; its affluent, Dargavel Burn, flows 65/8 miles east-south-eastward along all the northern and north-eastern boundary; and the interior is drained to the Gryfe by Houston and Barochan Burns. In the extreme E, at the Dargavel's influx to the Gryfe, the surface declines to 20 feet above sea-level; and the eastern and south-eastern districts are low and almost fat, but the north-western rises gradually, till near West Glen it attains a summit altitude of 623 feet. Carboniferous rocks prevail in the lower districts, eruptive rocks in the higher; and the former include sandstone, limestone, and coal. The soil of the low flat grounds is partly clay and partly loam; of the higher is thin, dry, and in places heathy. Moss to the extent of 300 acres formerly lay dispersed through portions of the eastern district, but has in great degree been reclaimed and brought under the plough, notably in the case of Fulwood Moss (1879-80). Barochan Moss, however, of great depth and considerable extent, is still a marked feature. The barony of Houston, anciently called Kilpeter, from a church on it dedicated to St Peter, in the middle of the 12th century passed from Baldwin of Biggar, sheriff of Lanark, to Hugh of Padvinan, and took from him the name of ' Hugh's-town,' corrupted into ' Houston,' and gave that name to his descendants. They retained the barony till 1740, between which date and 1782 it went by sale or inheritance to five different proprietors, eventually being purchased by Alexander Speirs of Elderslie. Houston House was a large, quadrangular, castellated pile, with a high tower at the NW corner, and with an arched entrance and two turrets on the S front; stood on an eminence surrounded by gardens and woods; and, excepting the E side, was taken down in 1780 to furnish building material for the new village. An ancient cross, supposed to have been erected by the knights of Houston, has a graduated pedestal, an octagonal pillar 9 feet high, and a surmounting dial and globe. Mansions, noticed separately, are Barochan House and Gryfe Castle; and 4 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 4 of between £100 and £500, 4 of from £50 to £100, and 15 of from £20 to £50. Houston is in the presbytery of Paisley and synod of Glasgow and Ayr; the living is worth £400. The parish church was built in 1874-75, at a cost of over £3000, by Mrs Ellice of Invergarry as a memorial to her son, Captain Archibald Alexander Speirs (1840-69), M.P. for Renfrewshire. It is an Early Gothic edifice, with 600 sittings and a square tower 70 feet high; and in 1876 it was adorned with seven stained-glass windows. At its E end a new mortuary has been erected, containing an interesting 15th century monument of the Houston family; and 2 miles to the NW the ruin is still standing of Killallan or St Fillan's church. Other places of worship are Houston Free church and Houston Roman Catholic church, St Fillan's (1841; 300 sittings). Freeland public, North Houston public, South Houston public, and a Roman Catholic school, with respective accommodation for 245, 140, 143, and 103 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 97, 81, 95, and 50, and grants of £90, 7s., £80, 7s. 6d., £76, 13s., and £28, 1s. 7d. Valuation (1860) £12,330, (1883) £15,885, 11s. 10d. Pop. (1801) 1891, (1841) 2818, (1861) 2490, (1871) 2167, (1881) 2191.—Ord. Sur., sh. 30, 1866.

(F.H. Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4); © 2004 Gazetteer for Scotland)

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a village and a parish"   (ADL Feature Type: "populated places")
Administrative units: Houston Burgh       Renfrewshire ScoCnty
Place names: HOUSTON     |     KILPETER
Place: Houston

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