This town’s name comes from the church founded by the Celtic monk followers of St Machutius. The latin name for this building being Ecclesia Machuti, it was mangled into the current Lesmahagow over many years. David I established a Tironensian Priory here in 1144, this was sacked in the reign of Edward III by John of Eltham. During this raid a number of items were stolen including a Missal (a collection of texts for church services). This was returned to the National Library in 1950. It is now among their most prized possessions. The remains of the Priory can be seen adjacent to the Abbeygreen Church (1803), they comprise of part of the cloisters, the refectory, and the lay brothers’ quarters. Until the Reformation, the Priory provided sanctuary (useful for Scots during times of English incursion), and accommodation for pensioners. In the square adjacent to Abbeygreen Church is the Commercial Hotel, which was built in 1633; it served as a coaching inn during the following two centuries. Nearby the village is Craighhead Mill, thought to have been founded by the monks of Lesmahagow Priory, the current mill is only 300 years old.
The village today is the product of the 19th Century boom in coal mining, with the attendant miner’s housing.