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Dalserf Village

Dalserf is a small village and civil parish in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. It lies on the River Clyde, 2 miles (3 km) east of Larkhall and 7 miles (11 km) south east of Hamilton. As of 2006, the village itself has a population of 52, while the wider parish (which includes Ashgill, Larkhall, Netherburn, Rosebank and Shawsburn) has a population of 17,985. The name of the village comes from the Gaelic dail, meaning field, and Serf, the name of a 6th-century saint who dwelt here. Of old, it was also known as Machan or Machanshire, from the Gaelic Maghan meaning small plain. The village kirk, built in 1655, is dedicated to Saint Serf, and may be built on the site of an early church founded by him. The church dates from the The Killing Time, when the rebel Covenanters were persecuted for their faith, and was a centre of Covenanter activity. John McMillan, reformist preacher and first minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, is buried in the kirkyard. A ferry once operated across the Clyde at Dalserf, although this has long since been superseded by the nearby Garrion Bridge. Dalserf railway station once served the village.

The origins of Dalserf congregation reach back to the early days of Presbyterianism in Scotland, the first minister Andrew Hamilton M.A. being admitted in 1593.The present Dalserf Church building was erected in 1655. These were the days of the "Covenanters". 52 brave men and women from Dalserf are recorded as having suffered in one way or another for this cause, which was basically one of freedom to worship in a Presbyterian as opposed to Episcopalian manner. The most radical changes in the present building took place a little over 100 years ago when owing to the generosity of Dalserf's most illustrious benefactor - The first Lord Newlands of Mauldslie, the accommodation at Dalserf was substantially increased by the addition of the centre area and the galleries.The seating capacity is now almost 400. In the churchyard there are several graves of notable characters such as William Hamilton - "The Persecuting Raploch" one of the most notorious persecutors of the Covenanters in this area.

Another by complete contrast is that of the Rev. John MacMillan “Covenanter of Covenanters" first minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Rorison Church was built in 1889 as a mission church to meet the needs of the upper part of the parish. Son of Lord Newlands, The right Honourable James Hozier MP, who resided at Mauldslie castle, was a member of Dalserf church and a generous benefactor. He donated a substantial sum towards the cost of extensions at Rorison. His wife was related to Clementine Hozier Winston Churchill's wife. Winston Churchill has worshipped at Dalserf Church whilst visiting his in-laws.

A tall obelisk which is situated in the graveyard only about six feet from the North-east corner of the church building itself marks the grave of the Rev. John MacMillan who was the first minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church which arose out of "the United Societies".

John MacMillan was deposed from the church of Scotland in 1703. He had been inducted to the charge of Balmaghie only 2 years before. He was deposed for his unyielding stand on covenanting principles from which the Church of Scotland had moved away by this time. MacMillan however after allowing his predecessor to occupy the Balmaghie pulpit for a year, illegally forced him out of his manse and his pulpit and remained for 20 years in spite of attempts by the authorities to remove him. His success in this respect was due to his popularity in that community which closed ranks around him. He moved to Larkhall (then within the parish of Dalserf) and remained there until his death in 1753. (Courtesy of Dalserf Parish Church)


Ref: DP353

Gallery: Buildings

Dalserf Village


South Lanarkshire.


United Kingdom

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