The feeling has frequently been expressed of late years that a history of Sanquhar would prove of no ordinary interest, considering the ancient origin of the town, its standing as one of the old Scottish burghs, its intimate connection through its old Castle and the doughty Crichtons, who ruled there with the most stirring period of our national history, and, at a later period, with the struggles of the Covenanters, and likewise, the antiquarian and topographical features of the district of which it is the centre.
It is true that a small history of the place was published in 1865 by the late Rev. Dr Simpson, but it was defective in various respects, particularly in that no attempt was made to treat of municipal affairs, or of social manners and customs. I waited, however, in the hope that the duty would be undertaken by some one more experienced in literary work, but there being no appearance of that, and as much valuable information to be derived from oral sources was in danger of being lost, I felt constrained to assume the task.
The first difficulty that presented itself was the plan of the book, having to deal as I had with a great mass of heterogeneous materials. No one plan was free from objections, and the present was adopted as involving the least confusion. Another difficulty was the extraordinary fatality that seems to have attached to the ancient records of the town and parish. The Minutes of the Town Council for the first 120 years have all disappeared, and those of the Kirk-Session and other public bodies are likewise defective; in this way, much information that would have been invaluable in the compilation of such a history, has been altogether lost.