Reply To: Meikle Ross & Balmangan Map

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John Shields

From Alan James – 13 May 2020

Nothing very obvious comes to mind for ?abie. I think the likeliest might be Mabie as a surname. Although it doesn’t appear in the standard reference works, a less than scholarly ‘ancestors’ website asserts that the surname Mabey ‘is first found in Kirkcudbrightshire’, and the ‘family seat’ was there – obviously Mabie (Hotel, Forest etc.). Actually, the English surname Mabey has various origins, and I’ve not tracked down anyone surnamed Mabie or Mabey in the Stewartry, but it’s at least possible (and, if it isn’t from the place-name, it could, like some cases of Mabey, be a from pet-form of Mab for Mabel etc.)

I overlooked Port Cheek – or rather I didn’t realise it was a field-name rather than an object.

Scots port is a gate, but usually a rather grand town gate (though bee-skeps may have ports).

But there might be a hint of a special sense in this SND definition:

SND Port n1
2  A piece of open ground near a town gate used as the site of a feeing market or hiring fair, esp. for farm workers; hence the feeing-market itself (see 1786 quot. above). Combs. port-day, the day of a hiring-fair, port-wages, the official rate of pay fixed at a hiring fare.

As for cheek, again the meaning is basically the same in Scots as in English,

but I think this Galloway usage is interesting, and may suit the location:

SND supp 1976 Cheek

4: A specially built portion of a dry-stone wall (see quot.). Gall. 1957 F. Rainsford-Hannay Dry Stone Walling 76:

The usual skill is shown when building up a steep slope. “Heads” are built at frequent intervals. In Scotland they would be called “cheeks” or solid pieces of single walling against which the rest of the work can lean.

So just possibly a gate in the long drystane dyke that bounds the north-west of the Balmangan lands, at a point where the was such a ‘cheek’ (and possibly one where labourers came hoping to be hired?)

But all of this is very much in the realm of guesswork!