The village of Chryston is in the North Lanarkshire area of central Scotland. It lies to the north of the main A80 trunk road, midway between Glasgow and Cumbernauld and the Chryston area includes Crowwood, Muirhead, Mount Ellen and Moodiesburn.
From 1535, the name of the village is entered as Chrystinsone, Christinston, Crysterstown, Criston and Crystown. The changes in spelling would be dependent on the rent collector and his limit of education. Obviously the name would appear to be derived from Christ’s Town, and therefore the connection of the area with the activities of the church. Information on the actual development of Chryston in these early days is sparse, but standing as it did on the roads from Glasgow to Falkirk and Stirling and from Kirkintilloch to the south its situation must have appealed to many travellers of the time. A survey map of 1795 shows its line. There are some dwellings marked in “Cryston” but no indication at all of Muirhead.
The larger houses of Bedlay, Gartferry and Garnkirk are shown and also Claudhall and Drumgarel (Drumcavil), in addition to the named farms of today: Davidston (1747), Muckcroft, Peathill and Blacklands.
In 1843, the Chryston Funeral Society was instituted. Its articles, 21 in number (revised and corrected in 1868), defined its boundary as the district of Chryston, and stipulated that any Member residing beyond the boundary must appoint a substitute within the bounds, to answer for his or her payments; each person must be above 15 years and not above 40 years of age in good health and free from any hereditary disease.
By 1861, the population had risen to 617 in 129 occupied houses, which was the highest number reached before the end of the century. By that time, Chryston boasted two churches with large manses set in a substantial acreage of ground, schools adjoining both churches, a ladies’ school, blacksmiths’ forges near to each church, a burial ground provided in 1825 next to the Chapel of Ease, and a new one at Bedlay, in 1861, required because all the lairs in the first ground had been taken up.
Poet Laureate Walter Watson lived and died here (1780-1854). Watson, son of a weaver, had a chequered life. He was principally a weaver but he spent time as a farm hand, a sawyer, three years soldiering, and working in a print work. He was for a time secretary of the local branch of the Weavers’ Union. He married a local farmer’s daughter and had a family of nine to support. He found he had the ability to pen rhymes in a simple manner and on topics known to his listeners. Some of these were later published, and some put to music. He became known as the “Poet Laureate” of Chryston, and his fame spread throughout the parish of Cadder. The granite obelisk which stands in Chryston Parish churchyard marks his birthplace, and his grave can be found in the lee of the church next the dividing wall.