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Houston

Kilpeter [Carta pen. Houston, de eodem, apud Crawford.]—Villa Hugonis—Huston. [Regist. de Passelet.]

The south and south-western portion of the now united parishes of Houston and Kilallan formed the ancient parish of Saint Peter of Houston.

This church does not appear to have been among the churches of Strathgryfe, conferred by Walter Fitz-Alan on the abbey of Paisley. It is not named among those which Florence, bishop elect of Glasgow, confirmed to the monks in the beginning of the 13th century. [Regist. de Passelet, p. 113.] At that time the territory, and probably the church, were the property of others. The Stewarts acquired the superiority of the land soon afterward, and with it probably the property of the church. It had become the property of the monks of Paisley before the confirmation of their churches by Bishop Walter, 1220-32, who confirms the church of Houston by name among the other churches of Strathgryfe [Regist. de Passelet, p. 114.] for the monks’ own use.

The cure was served by a vicar, who, by the settlement of 1227, was to draw the altar dues and offerings, with three chalders of mea1. [ Regist. de Passelet, p. 321.]

The church of Houston still existed in 1791, containing several old monuments of the Houstons. The old village of Houston had grown up in its neighbourhood. The church was dedicated to Saint Peter. Beside it, on the north-west, was Saint Peter’s well, ‘covered with a wall of cut free stone, arched in the roof’. A stream hard by is called Peter’s burn, and one of the village fairs held in the month of July is called Saint Peter’s day.

The rectory of Houston is valued in the Libellus Tax. Reg. Scot. at £20. It was given up in 1561 as yielding to Paisley 2 ch. 2 b. 1 f. meal, and 7 b. 1 f. bear. [Rental of Assumptions.] The vicarage is valued in the Libellus taxationum at £6, 13s. 4d.

Baldwin de Bigre, the ancestor of the noble family of Fleming, possessed the territory of Houston in the beginning of the 12th century. In the reign of Malcolm IV. he is said to have given the lands of Kilpeter to Hugo he Paduinan, who appears as a witness to the foundation charter of Paisley after the middle of the 12th century. His son Reginald, obtained from Robert son of Waldev, son of Baldwin de Bigre, a confirmation of those lands, as granted to his father by Robert’s grandfather, with that land held by his brothers Roderic and Archibald. [Carta pen. Houston, de eodem.] Hugh, the son of Reginald, obtained a charter from Walter Fitz-Alan, the high steward, now become the superior, where it is narrated that his father and grandfather held the lands of the family of Bigre. [Carta pen. Houston, de eodem.] The barony bad now taken its Saxon name from the settlement of the first of these old lords—Huston or villa Hugonis, and the parish church of Saint Peter of Houston came to be called the church of Houston. John Houston of that ilk, who died in 1609, ‘ordained his body to be buried in the queir of Houston with his parents; and his eldest son to be governed by my Lord Duke of Lennox, and to serve hint as his predecessors had ever served the house of Lennox’. [Com. Rec. of Glasgow.]

The mansion house of Houston, mostly demolished in 1780, is said to have been very ancient. It had a high tower on the north-west corner, with a lower house joined to the east end, vaults below, and a very long and wide-paved hall above, and ‘antique windows in the front’. The other parts of the building, completing a quadrangle, seemed modern. There was a grand entrance on the south, with two towers and a portcullis. The building was large, and being built on an elevated situation, it had a lordly appearance, overlooking the whole plain towards Paisley and Glasgow. [O. Statist.]