|1843 British Ordnance Survey of the town of East Kilbride; map courtesy|
The earliest evidence of habitation are ancient graves near a local river and Roman coins and footwear have also been found. The town takes its name from St. Bride, an Irish saint, who founded a monastery for nuns and monks in Kildare, Ireland.
In 1836, about 960 people lived in the town and most of them were considered very poor. Rev. Henry Moncrief, one of the contributors to the Statistical Account of Lanarkshire, which was published in 1841, wrote that:
"A considerable portion of the people are very poor. This is particularly the case in the village of Kilbride where there is a number of weavers, but no regular manufactory to keep the people in employment. In the rural parts, the population are generally comfortable, industrious, contented, and influenced by the religious habits of their forefathers. There are many persons in the villages of excellent character, both intellectually, morally, and religiously. Poaching in game, it is to be feared, used to be prevalent, but is not so now."
The average wage for a general laborer was about 10 to 12 shillings a week. Men who worked in East Kilbride's many limestone quarries may have earned a little more. Sixteen pecks of potatoes cost 16 shillings in 1840.
According to Rev. Moncrief, there was a parish library and a subscription library. There were three district parochial schools in the parish and a "very excellent school in Maxwellton, supported by the liberality of Sir William Maxwell. In all the schools, ordinary branches are taught. Some of the modern improvements have been introduced, with great advantage, into Sir William Maxwell's school."
The parish also had a savings' bank, which was connected with the Glasgow National Security Savings Bank. There were 19 inns and public houses, which Rev. Moncrief thought "prejudicial to the morals of the people."
|East Kilbride Old Parish Church; photograph courtesy of the Scottish War Memorials Project|
The original parish church had been built on the site of a pre-Christian well. The current church was built in 1774 near the original site. It was the church in which Robert and Henrietta's children were baptized.