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An 18th-Century Inventory of Kilhenzie Castle

Text and transcription, Rob Close 1999.

Kilhenzie Castle, in the parish of Maybole, is one of the least-known of Ayrshire's many castles.  As Davis notes, "this delectable little castle, dating from the 16th or 17th centuries and delightfully restored and altered in the mid-19th century, is little known and deserves greater appreciation".1   The restoration appears to have been carried out in the 1850s for the Fergussons of Kilkerran.  Paterson records that the earliest family associated with the property were the Bairds of Kilhenzie, from whom it seems to have been acquired by Alexander Kennedy of Craigoch, afterwards designated 'of Kilhenzie'.  It remained in the family of Kennedy of Kilhenzie until 1766, when the heiress married John Shaw of Dalton.2   In 1691 7 hearths are recorded "in Kilhinzies oun house".3 
The following inventory, found in the records of the Commissary Court of Glasgow, was made following the death of John Kennedy of Kilhenzie, and given in in March 1750 by his son and heir, Ensign Alexander Kennedy.4   It may be typical of the furnishing of a small Ayrshire laird's house of this period:-

In the kitchen twenty nine plain and ten broth timber trenchers, ten big plates and two ashets all pewter weighing in whole eighty pound at sixpence per pound inde5  twenty four pound Scots
Item, a big silver spoon and ten small ones weighing twenty eight ounces in whole Dutch weight at five shillings sterling per ounce inde eight four pound Scots
Item, a jug and two salts of silver weighing twelve ounces Dutch weight at five shillings sterling per ounce inde thirty-six pound Scots
Item, a shagreen case with twelve knives and forks silver hafted at fourty four pound Scots
Item, six breakfast knives silver hafted at four pound eight shilling Scots
Item, ten table knives & forks bone hafted and six breakfast knives also bone-hafted at two pound eight shilling Scots
Item, one big dish, two ashets and a dozen trenchers, all [leam]6  severall of them being cracked at three pound Scots
Item, a pair [rases], dreeping pan & standard and four spects at five pound Scots
Item, a brander, a frying pan, a saucepan, ane old little brass pan and ane goblet pan of copper at four pound ten shilling Scots
Item, four iron pots wheerof two little and two bigger at six pound Scots
Item, three pair brass candlesticks at three pound Scots
Item, two copper coffee pots, a brass coffee [     ], a brass pistoll and mortar, a timber pistoll and mortar all at ten pounds sixteen shilling Scots
Item, a yealling oven at one pound sixteen shilling Scots
Item, two basons, a flagon being a pint one and a choppin flagon all pewter at four pound Scots
Item, a white iron drawer, a cran, a pair tongs, a fire shovell, a chaffer, a girdle, a chopping knife, a toasting iron, three smoothing irons, a footman7  and [    ]inter, a coal riddle and a [batzie] all at seven pound four shilling Scots
Item, ane old grate, three crooks, one pair pot bowls, five timber cogues, two timber plates, ten horn spoons and a timber ladle at six pound one shilling Scots
Item, a mortar stone for knocking bear, a timber miln and a beatle for beatling cloath at one pound Scots

Item, in the milk house, a timber milk stoup, three basins, two milk crooks, two butter crocks, a milk sieve, a church & [staff], a pistoll dish and three cheese fats also at five pound six shilling Scots
In the pantry, a meall barrel, a grote barrell, a salt barrell, six lead weights weighing two stone fifteen pound and a half and a weigh baulk and two [buckres] for weighing meall alls at six pound four shilling Scots
In the brewhouse a fixed copper and fixed steel both old at sixty pounds Scots
Item, four old hogsheads, a mashing vat, two mashers and a horn, four jugs and two little ones at sevenn pounds twelve shilling Scot
In the cellar ten dozen choppin bottles and six mutchkin bottles at six pound six shilling Scots
Item, three barrells for salts and meall, and two barrells for herrings, ane little old rack, nine twenty pint casks all at seven pound eighteen shilling Scots
In the laigh room, a four stouped bed, a feather bed, bolster and two pillows blue hangings, a bed cloath, ane old iron grate, a pair of tongs, a poker, [     ] & shovell, a little square table, four old chairs all at thirty one pound four shilling Scots
In the laigh dining room, ane old iron grate, a pair of tongs, a poker and fire shovell, a big and little folding table both of plaintree and much worm-eaten, ane old tea-table, ane old easy chair, two old armchairs and six very old chairs, some whereof broken and ane old screen, all at twelve pound ten shilling Scots
In the high dining room, ane iron grate, tongs, shovel and poker, two old folding tables of plaintree, eleven old kane chairs, most of them broken, at eight pound ten shilling Scots
In the Green Room, a striped bed with green hangings, a feather bed, a bolster and two and two8  pillows, green window hangings, a looking glass, a chest of half drawers, a cabinet or scritore, four old chairs, and a little square table in whole at seventy five pound eught shilling Scots
In the Yellow Room, a grate, tongs, poker, a striped bed with yellow hangings, a feather bed, bolster and two pillows, a bed cloath, window hangings, a big looking glass, a little table and old big chair and six other chairs at sixty pound Scots
In the Stripped Room, a bedstead with striped hangings, a feather bed, bolster and one pillow, a grate, tongs, poker and shovell, three rush-bottomed chairs, a little old table, a bed cloath, all at twenty one pound four shilling Scots
In the High Blue Room, a bedstead with blue hangings, a bed cloath with feather bed, bolster and two pillows, a grate, tongs, poker and shovell, three old chairs covered with leather and a little looking glass, all at twenty one pound eighteen shilling Scots
In the High Dining Room press, three glass decanters, three big drinking glasses, three pewter glasses and one glass server, a little frame for holding glasses with oil & mustard, [   ], and a table having five glasses in it at eight pound two shilling Scots
In the Nursery two very old bedcloaths at two pound Scots.
In the Laigh Dining Room press, six china cups and plats, five china coffee cups, five old silver tea spoons, two earthern tew pots and a milk dish, a china sugar box and six drinking glasses all at thirteen pound four shilling Scots.
In the Stable a hock and mager with ane old bedstead for servants at four pound Scots.
Item, sixteen pair half worn blankets and fifteen pair old blankets upon the whole beds and in the house at fourty pound eight shilling Scots
Item, a press within the closet of the Green Room, twelve dozen of napery with nine table cloaths, eight pairs sheets, twenty-nine towells and thwenty-three pillow[bers] all at one hundred and eighty pound five shillings Scots
Item, ten table cloaths. three dozen and nine napkins, one dozen towells, eight [codwares], ten pair old sheets and six pairs old sheets for servants at fourty five pound eighteen shilling Scots
Item, the defunct's body cloaths and ane old silver watch at fourty eight pound Scots
Item, three chamber boxes with three loam water pots and two pewter ones at four pound two shilling Scots
Item, a punch bowll, two loam washing basons both cracked, at one pound ten shilling Scots
Item, a small weight baulk with scales, a four pound brass weight wanting some drops and broken in the hinges at three pound Scots
Item, the defunct's library of which there is a particular inventory lodged in the hands of the clerk of court all at two hundred and sixteen pound Scots
Item, a small microscope, a pair of spectacles, a white iron ink stand dish and about two hundred naills at one pound sixteen shilling Scots
Item, a hand vice, a pair of compasses, a gemlot, three files, a small hand saw, ten old instruments for wrightwork such as furmars chisells, a pair old holster pistolls and ane old plain all at three pound eighteen shilling Scots
Item, ane folding table, and old cloak bag and a pair vallees at two pound sixteen shilling Scots;
Item, two old arks one for meall and another for malt at eight pounds Scots
In the house at Maybole, four iron grates consisting of four cross ribbs in each at three pound Scots
Item, in said house, a striped bed and two tent beds with old hangings and ane old box bed at twenty pounds Scots
Item, in said house, ane old chest of drawers at nine pound Scots.

The inventory also details Kennedy's farm stock and farm implements, as well as money owing to him, mostly rent on the various farms which belonged to the estate, including 'Colhounstoun', now known as Kewnston.

Rob Close


1    Michael Davis, Castles and Mansions of Ayrshire, Ardrishaig, 1991, 297.
2    James Paterson, History of the County of Ayr, vol II, Paisley, 1852, 356-357.
3    Robert H J Urquhart and Rob Close, The Hearth Tax for Ayrshire 1691, Ayr, 1998, 17.
4    National Archives of Scotland, CC9/7/61, folios 13 to 19.
5    Latin, "from there".
6    One meaning of 'lame''leam', &c., is "earthenware, china". [The Concise Scots Dictionary, Mairi Robinson, ed., Aberdeen, 1987 edition, 355]
7    OED records one meaning as "a stand to support a kettle, &c., before the fire", first recorded in 1767.
8    So repeated in the original; presumably a clerical error.


This article was first published in Ayrshire Notes No. 17 (1999).

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