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A Tale of Two Clocks

The Move to Cander Mains :

My Grandfather’s notes record that John Watson held the lease of Cander Mains Farm for two nineteen year terms until 1910. This sets the commencement date at 1872 when he would have been 24 years of age. This is confirmed from two sources.

Firstly, on the 28th June 1872, the Hamilton Palace Estates Office advertised a number of farms for lease including the Farm of Candermains. 2

“Farms To Let on The Hamilton Estates in Lanarkshire, for nineteen or such number of years as may be agreed upon, with entry to the arable land at Martinmas [11th November] 1872, and to the houses and pasture at Whitsunday [15th May] thereafter.

In the Parish of Dalserf, Candermains contains about 114 acres arable, and 5 acres pasture, presently possessed by Mr William Somerville; is about 6 miles from Hamilton, and 1 mile from Stonehouse.

 Offers to Mr Stewart S. Robertson, Chamberlain, at Hamilton Palace, before the 26th day of July.

 John Watson  gained access to the arable land on the 11th November 1872, and the house and pasture land on the 15th May 1873. Such a ‘staggered’ possession with variations appears to have been common in Scotland. This would have enabled the incoming tenant to prepare land and put in crops for the summer harvest but enabled the outgoing tenant to winter over his stock on their own pasture prior to moving elsewhere or selling up when Spring pasture would be more abundant and thus sale prices for stock possibly higher.

The second confirmation of the commencement of the lease in 1872 is contained in a letter written by William Hamilton of Carlindean Carnwath and posted to John Dougall in Australia in 1873  

“I saw Thomas Watson at Stonehouse Fair. They are all well. They have taken Cander Mains.” [10th January 1873]


My Grandfather, William Dykes, also notes that his sister Mary Watson kept house for him. That would have continued until her marriage to John Cook on the 1st July 1879.

In a letter to his son Thomas dated 1908, John Watson makes mention of the “dear rents” prevailing at the time he originally took over the Cander Mains lease “.

“You refer back to the time I entered Candermains, it is quite a good comparison. Land went up at that time and it has not come back to its normal level yet and those who had the misfortune to take farms at that time are still labouring under the disadvantage of dear rents. How much better do you suppose Candermains is at 24 shillings per acre than Broomfield at 14 shillings per acre. Lochhead is also cheap & James Lohoar wonders how I got it paid. He was not aware it was so dear.”

Cander Mains is located just outside Stonehouse Village but within Dalserf Parish, the house and steading being built on a commanding hill-top overlooking Stonehouse and the Cander Water. At this time a water driven mill operated just down the hill on the road to Stonehouse.

The Estates of Cander had long been in the possession of the Hamilton family, ownership dating at least as far back as the mid 15th century. This appears to have been a family branch of the Dukes of Chatelrault hence the latter ownership of Candermains Farm and surrounding estates by the Dukes of Hamilton.

Robert Naismith in his 1885 work “Stonehouse – Historical and Traditional” makes mention of the Fortalice of Cander which stood “so near the town” and that “The old fortalice commanded an excellent position on the banks of the Cander Water, and seems to have been in decay in 1700.”

The Cartographer Timothy Pont notes “Kand” in this locality on his map for this area of Scotland, dating from the period 1580 – 1600.

This is more accurately detailed in a map by Joan Bleu “Glottiana Praefectura Inferior, cum Baronia Glascuensi, [vulgo], The nether ward of Clyds-dail and Glasco / Auct.” published in Amsterdam in 1654. This series of maps are believed to have drawn on the earlier late 16th century manuscript maps of Pont. The fortalice of “Kand” is specifically identified in exactly the position of the present day ‘Candermains’ on the banks of the Cander Water.

A map by Charles Ross printed in 1773 identified “Cander” some distance south of the present Cander Mains and equidistant to ‘Muirhead’. This map, however, places “Cander” south of the present ‘Burnhead’ farm and more or less in the bog land to the west of ‘Muirhead’. Therefore I believe this is a cartographer’s error. There is nothing placed in the correct geographical position of ‘Cander Mains’.

By 1832 when John Thomson produced his very detailed maps of Scotland, the area is specifically identified as the present day “Cander Mains”.

It can safely be assumed that the old Fortalice most likely dated from at least the mid 15th century but possibly even as far back as the Scottish Wars of Independence in the late 14th century.

The present Cander Mains house is not of the old crofting style as per ‘Muirhead’ but of a distinctly more modern style, perhaps dating from the late 18th or very early early 19th century. While neatly dressed stone is evident in the construction of the house some of the outbuildings (which include brick) are of not of the same standard and may have utilised stones which comprised part of the old Fortalice of Cander. I would even venture to suggest that stones from the Fortalice could have been used in the construction of the nearby Cander Mill (since demolished) as its construction was of rough undressed stone.

In 2011 we made contact with an historian through the Stonehouse On-line website. Unfortunately we cannot throw any further light on the matter. While aware of Pont and later maps as detailing “Kand” or “Kander”  there is no trace of the old Fortalice. The present elevated and commanding site of ‘Cander Mains’, would, to anyone appear to be the obvious position to build a small and reasonably defendable fortalice, at least from the west, being protected by a high banking down to the Cander Water.

Interestingly, our Great Aunt Marion Watson who was born at ‘Cander Mains’ tells of a carved crest built into the top of the entrance to the stone barn which formed part of the Cander Mains steadings. According to her, this crest had come from the old Fortalice. Today it is small and weathered but appears to show an upside down V shape.  

Local historians feel that the crest may have belonged to a branch of the Hamilton family, which would at least fit with the Estates of Cander having been owned by a branch of the Hamilton family since at least the 15th century.

Another Ploughing Match at Stonehouse, 1875
A match took place yesterday on a … belonging to Mr Archd. Shearer. Fewer ploughs …. than was expected, but the workmanship of the …. Excellent. The judges were Messrs Struthers, Broomhall, … Watson, Candermains; and Fleming , Floors….”

Continued - The Clocks and Inventory:

Created before 2012