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The Origin of the name Baillieston
By Robert Murray of Baillieston History Online
The origin of the name, Baillieston in this locality has been shrouded in mystery and previous attempts, some worthy, others less so, to address the question have failed to convince. None have been supported by facts and though some have been genuine suggestions others have been attempts at a 'neat fit' based on guesswork.
This article is a result of many long hours of research that has to be detailed in order that the reader can understand the overall picture. My conclusion I firmly believe reveals the by far most likely true origin of the name as it is relevant to this district. First, it is necessary to recant the background to the 'mystery and finish with the truth.
It should be noted that the name 'Baillieston' is not a place name unique to this area. There are at least another four 'Bailliestons' around the world, with two of those here in Scotland (the others are in Jamaica and outback Victoria in Australia). The other Scottish ones are both farms in Ayrshire, one near Kilbirnie which dates from at least 1771 and another nearthe village of Craigieto the south east of Kilmarnock. Another quite interesting coincidence with Ayrshire is that there is also lands called Daldowie in the county. I thought at one time that there could be a strong connection with our district due to there being a exact duplication of two important names. A coincidence that couldn't be ignored as chance I thought, and spent much time investigating the possibility that maybe both names 'travelled' to our area in the middle ages when our local Daldowie first surfaced in ecclesiastical registers. I have to say if there is a link, I was unable to find it. The etymologists tell us that Daldowie is a name from the Britons (basically Welsh) and means 'dark field' or although other ones interpret it as an open field, but both are similar anyway so it matters not a jot really. The point is that it is not uncommon in this country to have the same place names in different areas. Scotland is littered with towns and villages of the same name. The Ayrshire Bailliestons will be covered more in the linguistic interpretation of the name.
The following suggestions have been put forward - and in fairness to the authors they were only that and weren't claimed as fact, however as is usually the case with un-researched suggestions they tend to be repeated over the years by some commentators who see such as a convenient way of disposing of an awkward subject.
The first record I found this claim was in the Lanarkshire edition of the Cambridge County Geographies series by Ferederick Mort in 1910 - where Mort states in regard to the origin of the name "Perhaps takes it from the Baillie family, prebendaries of Glasgow Cathedral". 'Perhaps' is a short word that seems to have been stretched to the limit by Mort, an out & out guess based on nothing more than a family name. This guess was also suggested by Leitch &Wotherspoon ( Rise of a Community ) in 1951 and repeated by the Rev. Robert Inglis in his report for the Third Statistical Account of 1960. I investigated this thoroughly in historical and ecclesiastical works by the great and good of Glasgow historians and rejected it for the following reasons.
Baillieston was a considerable distance from the Lands of Provan. "The Prebendrie of Provan contained the following lands, all easily recognised, some as good properties; some as considerable estates;
Even the lands to the north of Baillieston such as Hallhill and Bartibeith were not part of the Provan lands and, neither, surprisingly was the local area of Barlanark and so it is proved that Mort's theory was nothing more than a guess.
The Rev. Inglis also claimed another estate called Baillieston was owned by the above family in the parish of Dalserf. I investigated this and found nothing to support his statement. It is true that the Baillies of Lamington who owned lands in that parish were intermingled with the Baillies of Provand but they never named any estate after themselves. There was however another Baillieston between the present Motherwell and Wishaw in the early part of the 19th.century - and I mention it only as a matter of interest as it does not influence our subject in any way due to the time lapse - which is described in sasine records "as being the lands of Flemington on the south east side of the Carluke turnpike road near Craigneuk & St.Catherines, now called Baillieston, parish of Dalziell". There is five different entries in the records referring to it but it seems to have been either a short lived place or the name was soon changed to something else, whatever else it has evaporated from history with only the aforesaid entries as a trace that it existed at all.
In fact the Baron Baillie who ran the Monklands on behalf of Newbattle Abbey was traditionally a post occupied by a member of the Crawford family of Gartlea [in present Airdrie] I'm afraid this suggestion doesn't hold water as the Baron system - a feudal position whereby a landowner appointed someone to manage his lands and operate the Baron courts, had long disappeared from this area as they had been superseded by Justices of the Peace towards the end of the 17th.century and there was no property called Baillieston (as already stated) in this area at that time (Hearth Tax records, Parish of Old Monkland,1691), however when this system was in place the present Baillieston area was administered under the feudal charter and barony of the Duke of Lennox whose baron court was in Glasgow. It is important to realise that the monks of Newbattle didn't own any lands in the Baillieston area after AD 1268 when they were redeemed by the Bishop of Glasgow, John de Cheyan whom Pope Alexander had appointed in 1259.
Leitch & Wotherspoon also made reference to a couple of local myths - which even they didn't believe as these myths grew after the development of Baillieston village.
It is a field where I had zero knowledge but soon found out you don't really need very much to disect just one name, but any errors noticed are my very own . The gaelic option, surprisingly, wasn't suggested by anyone but it transpires that 'Baile' means a small village or settlement in that beautiful language of the Highlands and I thought that fitted well with the 'ton' or 'toun' part of the name which it seems is anglo-saxon word for 'homestead' - but theres' the rub, gaelic and anglo-saxon together and both meaning more or less the same thing ? I didn't think that made sense. There is apparently a fair mixture of briton and gaelic names in this area near the Clyde with a sprinkling of anglo-saxon too.
So I couldn't accept this linguistic solution, as apart from the above mingling of two languages it would suggest it being ancient and there is no trace of our Baillieston written before the 1730's. How the Ayrshire Bailliestons' got their name I believe may be similar to the conclusion I put up at the end of this article.
The statement was contained in notes attached to the Maxwell/Scott Maxwell family tree that was made available to me in November 2003 by his grandson Doug Scott-Maxwell of Melbourne and was transcribed by his uncle (J.M.'s son), Denis Scott Maxwell in 1985 from Scott Maxwell's original notes written sometime in the 1940's. It said,
"A John Baillie was living at Baillieston in 1732"
Nothing more than that, no source, no supporting clues, nothing. To me it was an excellent clue in itself but even though it was from the horse's mouth so to speak it didn't prove anything in itself without other supporting evidence. It certainly carried weight of course because of who it came from as it would be natural to assume that Scott Maxwell had probably inspected the title deeds and sasines relating to his property and where he would have seen this name and date. However it was insufficient evidence on its own for anyone else with a mind to declare that as the origin of this Baillieston's name. It was what the real historians call a primary source but needed to be supported by another of the same.