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Old Statistical Account


[Transcribed from the original by David Courtney McClure.]

[Vol. X, pages 474–500]

(County and Presbytery of Ayr, Synod of Glasgow and Ayr.)

By the Reverend Mr Matthew Biggar, Minister of that Parish. [1]

The common tradition concerning the name of this parish, carries us so far into the dark ages of the Scotch History, that it will not be very interesting to the public.  The tradition, however, which has been handed down for near these 200 years, is as follows: During the heptarchy in England, the King of Northumberland was slain in battle, and his army routed by a neighbouring prince.  Oswald, the king's eldest son, having made his escape from the field of battle, fled to the king of Scots, by whom he was most favourably received, and raised to the command of his armies.  Some time after, Oswald led the Scots army against the Strathcltryde [sic] Britons, with whom the king was at war, and both armies came in sight of each other near this place.  Upon the day before the battle, Oswald made a vow, that if he [475] should obtain the victory, he would build a church upon the field of battle.  Victory having declared in his favour, he performed his vow, and gave his own name to the church.  The vestiges of a small circular camp about half an English mile to the south, and the great number of large whin or muir stones that were lately standing about 200 yards to the east, of this place, in such a form as might give reason to suppose that those who fell in the battle were buried there, are circumstances which seem to confirm the tradition.  Some time after, Oswald got possession of his father's kingdom; and, being zealous for the establishment of Christianity, and very friendly to the clergy, was, after his death, canonized as a saint.  It is well known that, within the antient [sic] kingdom of Northumberland, there is a town called Kirkoswald, after this king.  In this town there is an annual fair upon the fifth day of August; and there has, for time immemorial, been a fair in this place on the same day.  The fact seems also to countenance the above tradition.

Situation, Erection, Extent, and Prospects

The parish is situated in that district of Ayrshire, called Carrick, and in the presbytery of Ayr.  Prior to 1652, the extent of this parish was considerably larger than it is at present.  At that time the parish of Barr was erected from the high and distant parts of the parishes of Girvan, Dailly, and Colmonell.  To make up what was taken from the parishes of Dailly and Girvan, a considerable track of land upon the north–west side of the water of Girvan, amounting to a fourth part of this parish, was annexed to Dailly and Girvan.  The greater part by far of the proprietors lands have been exactly measured; and by taking the mean length and breadth of the whole, there appear to be near 11000 Scots acres.  The sea–coast of the parish from north to south is six English miles; [476] the greater part of which is a sandy beach, with a beautiful and rich carpet of grass, to the very sea–mark.  From every part of this coast there is a beautiful prospect of the Frith of Clyde, land–locked, as it were, on all sides, by the coast of Cunningham, island of Bute, island of Arran, Kintyre, the coast of Ireland, and the coast in the parishes of Kirkum [sic], Ballantrae, Colmonel, and Girvan.  The scene, varied by the different height and appearance of the above coasts, with the many small islands interspersed along them, renders the whole view most delightful.  What adds to the beauty and grandeur of the prospect, is the noble rock of Ailsa, set down in the middle of the Frith.  This coast commands the nearest, most distinct, and regular view of this rock.  In a clear day, it is easy to discern the remains of a castle upon it, with several roads diversified by spots of verdure.  It stands, in a circular form, about 15 English miles from the shore, and belongs to the Earl of Cassillis. [2]

The half of this coast towards the north is very favourable for sea–bathing; partly because the sea gradually deepens for a considerable way, while the bottom is perfectly clear of all rocks and stones; but chiefly because it lies at a considerable distance from any fresh water, being 8 miles south from the river of Doon, and 4 miles north from that of Girvan.  At present the principal inconvenience for bathing, is the want of proper habitations.

Ecclesiastical State

The King is patron of the parish. [3]   [477] The stipend of this parish is in money £33 5s 2d Sterling; for communion elements £3 6s 8d Sterling; in meal 43 bolls 1 firlot; and in bear 20 bolls and 3 firlots: There is also a glebe consisting of 1 acre 3 roods of natural meadow, and 4 acres of arable ground, exclusive of the site of the manse, the offices, and the garden.  The decreet of locality and modification for the above stipends, was given in the year 1650.  About two years ago, a decreet of augmentation was obtained for £25 Sterling additional stipend.  It is uncertain when the old church of Kirkoswald was built.  It seems to have undergone many alterations.  It stands in a very low situation, surrounded by a very large burying place, which is walled in.  In 1777 a new church was built upon a rising ground, a very little to the south of the former, fit to hold 800 hearers, from a plan, and under the direction, of David Earl of Cassillis, who is resident proprietor of above two–thirds of the parish; and it is considered as one of the enatest churches in this country.  This church is 68 feet by 31 within the walls, having a gallery in each end, and an aisle, with a fire room, finished at the expence of the Earl of Cassillis, and which he is obliged to keep up.  The present manse was built in the year 1770, upon a plan by Thomas Earl of Cassillis, and is a very neat and convenient house.  There were never any seceders in this parish till the year 1790, when one family came from Beith, of the burgher persuasion.



There is an established schoolmaster, with a salary of no more than 100 merks Scotch, which is by far too small, as he enjoys no other advantage whatever, except the wages he receives from his scholars, together with the emoluments of session clerk and precentor: He is obliged to rent his dwelling house and garden.  The heritors pay rent for a school–house.  As the most populous parts of the parish are at the distance of four miles, it is very inconvenient for young children to attend the public school.  Private schools are therefore kept in these parts of the parish.


As this article is most important and essential in statistical accounts, it demands peculiar attention.  There has been preserved an old session register, conducted with great exactness, from 1611 to 1661, and from 1694 to the present day.  The following is an extract from Dr Webster's account of the population in 1755: ‘The number of souls in Kirkoswald is 1168, number of fighting men from the age of 18 to 56 is 233.'  From these, and a careful inspection and visitation of the parish in 1791 and 1792, the population of the parish at different periods may be ascertained.  On the ninth of February 1640, the solemn league and covenant was sworn to, and subscribed by the inhabitants of this parish.  The original was deposited in the hands of the minister, Mr John Burne, and a copy inserted in the records of the kirk session.  This copy is still extant.  From it we learn that the parish contained precisely 300 males, who were disposed and qualified to engage in this transaction.  Fifty–eight, including the minister, subscribed their own names; 242, with their hands at the pen, authorised public notaries to subscribe for them.  Supposing the number who subscribed to comprehend only the males above 20, the population at that time must have been little inferior to [479] what it is at present.  But it must be remembered, that the extent of the parish is now diminished one fourth by the above mentioned annexation to Girvan and Dailly; and that probably some males below 20 would, of themselves, be ambitious, or prompted by others, to enroll [sic] their names in so popular a deed: Accordingly, we shall afterwards find reason to conclude, that the inhabitants are now a fifth part more numerous than they were a century and a half ago.  In 1720, at Mr Cupple's ordination, it appears from the register of the parish, that the population amounted nearly to 1168 souls, being exactly the same number as in Dr Webster's account: Consequently the population of the parish, from 1720 to 1755, appears to have been almost stationary.  In the year 1791, the inhabitants were numbered, and it was found, that, during the last 40 years, they had increased 167.  The result of this enumeration may be specified as follows:

Number of males


Num. of souls below 10


Number of females


between 10 and 20


Total number of souls


20 & 50


Married persons


50 & 70


Widows and widowers


70 & 90







There at present no remarkable instances of longevity.  The oldest man in the parish is not above 87.  But during the last ten years, several have died considerably above 90.  The following table exhibits an abstract of the parochial register of marriages, baptisms, and burials, from the commencement of the register of each, to the 1st of January 1791, with the annual average for every ten years, fractions omitted. 


Table of marriages, &c [4]











1694–1701 (1)


























261 (2)



















































Note 1.  From 14th August to 1st January.

Note 2.  From 12th March 1721 to 1st January 1731.


Division and Occupations of the Inhabitants

There are 280 inhabited houses in the parish, each containing from 1 to 17 souls; and at an average almost 5.  Of 8 heritors only 4 are resident.  Of these the Earl of Cassillis, who is proprietor of more than two–thirds of the parish, is the principal.  The bulk of the inhabitants are farmers, who possess at an average about 130 acres of ground.  The leases are all for 19 years.  In the tacks assignees are excluded, and sometimes the power of subletting.  The number of tenants is 76; of subtenants 26.

All personal services from the tenant to the proprietor are entirely abolished, except the leading of coals to the master; and in each tack the particular quantity the tenant is bound to lead is specified.

Servants of every description do not exceed 120.  The females are more numerous than the males.  About 20 of both sexes are employed in domestic services; the rest in managing the dairy and farm.  The bulk of them, being unmarried, eat in their masters houses; and, at an average, the males receive £6, and the females £3 Sterling, per annum.  About 14 male servants are married, and live with their own families.  These, at an average, receive £5 a year, and are allowed, by their masters, a house and yard, 6½ bolls of meal yearly, a milch cow maintained summer and winter, and the growing of a few potatoes; all which renders their state more comfortable, and their continuance in their master's service more certain than those of the unmarried servants. [5]   Cottagers are in number 109, and rent from the farmer a house [482] and yard at £1 per annum, a cow's grass at £1 per annum, and an acre or two of land, for which they pay something more than the principal tack duty.  Some of them are bound to work for their master during the harvest, for which they receive the fee usual in the country; others are bound to work during the winter half year, and receive their meat in the house: During the remainder of the year, they are employed with the other cottagers in ditching and dyke building, and other labours of husbandry.  There is one particular species of labour begun to be practised in this country, called Jobbing.  The farmers let the whole threshing of their crop to these cottagers at 10d per boll, as it measures when cleared of the chaff.  They also let the cutting down of their whole crop from 4s to 5s per acre; and the mowing of their hay at 1s 6d per acre.  Tradesmen and fishermen, who have a permanent abode in the parish, with one grocer, amount altogether to 73, and inhabit 59 houses.

Thus, at the end of July 1792, the division and occupations of the inhabitants of this parish might be stated as follows:


Total inhabited houses



Heritors and families occupy









Servants (not domestics)









Gardeners, with 6 journeymen














[483] 6













Fishermen and seamen









Among the above number are seven licensed retailers of ale and British spirits.  There is one licensed retailer of wine and foreign spirits, who resides in the village.  One post chaise is kept here for hire: A diligence goes three times a week between Ayr and Portpatrick, which changes horses at Kirkoswald.  Forty years ago, there was no communication between this place and Ayr, the head town of the county, but by a riding post on Tuesday, and a foot post on Thursday: No carrier whatever passed by this to Ayr.  Some families in this part of the country, connected with the Courts of Session and Exchequer, gave some business to a carrier from Maybole to Edinburgh once a fortnight.  Now a riding post from Ayr to Girvan passes this place every day.  Two carriers with carts pass once a week from Girvan to Ayr; and one carrier from Girvan to Glasgow once a week.  To all this is to be added, that post horses and chaises are ready at all times at Girvan, Maybole, and this place, together with the above mentioned diligence.

Surface, Soil, &c, &c

The surface is hilly.  The hills, except in two places, called Mochrum and Craigdow, never rise to any considerable height.  Near Mochrum, there is a loch which covers 24 Scots acres, and another, apparently [484] as large, near Craigdow.  These lochs either do not abound in fish, or the fishings are totally neglected.  From them, and from numberless springs which rise out of every hill, flow many small streams, which wander through the parish, and afford abundance of pure water.  Except the very tops of Mochrum and Craigdow, and a few spots of moss, the whole parish is arable.

There is little or no natural wood in the parish.  But the wants of this is happily supplied by the plantations made by the Earl of Cassillis and Sir Adam Fergusson.  The former has, within these few years, planted upon his estate, and especially in his policy, 560 acres; and, notwithstanding their proximity to the Sea [sic], the trees are exceedingly thriving.  Sir Adam Fergusson, on that part of his estate in this parish which lies on the north side of the water of Girvan, and opposite to his seat of Kilkerran, has planted 240 acres, all of which are in the most thriving condition.  The soil of the parish is different.  The difference in the kind of soil is marked nearly by the great post road from Ayr to Girvan, which passes through the whole length of the parish from N to S.  Between this road and the sea–shore, comprehending about 4000 acres of land, the soil is generally a very rich loam, mixed with a considerable quantity of clay.  There are few or no banks of sand, and the land is dry, and favourable for pasture or the plough, even to the sea–mark.  To the south and east of the above post road, the ground rises considerably; the soil is more light, upon a free–stone bottom, intermixed also with some clay; and is upon the whole more wet than the land towards the shore.

State of Agriculture

Notwithstanding the advantages of soil, and other circumstances, this parish was, forty years ago, generally in a wild and uncultivated state.  Indeed, there [485] were several inclosures, and some very fine old trees, about Cullean [sic] Castle.  But the fences were mostly of stone.  Of these inclosures, the most remarkable was than called the Cow Park of Cullean, containing about 50 acres, which had been in pasture for two hundred years, yet there is not, to this day, to be seen in it the smallest spot of fog [sic].  there was also the park of Turnberry, containing about 460 acres, which was inclosed with stone about the beginning of the century, and has been in pasture ever since. [6]   All the rest of the parish was then perfectly open, except the tenants kail yards, which were fenced in a very coarse manner, with land stones and turf, and the greater part without any planting.  The tenants yards on the coast were fenced with an earthen dyke.  On this was planted ader [sic], (or, according to the vulgar name, bountree,) which thrives exceedingly, afford great shelter, and is disliked by all cattle and sheep.  This almost total want of planting and inclosures, gave a dreary look to the whole parish.

The tillage and pasture lands were under equally bad management.  The farms upon the shore, the richest part of the parish, were then of great extent, each containing above 200 acres.  The farm houses, pleasantly situated near the [486] shore, had round them about 30 or 40 acres of croft ground.  The rest of the farms went back to the higher grounds of the parish, and was called out–field.  Their croft land had been immemorially in tillage, without one year's rest.  They commonly manured the third part of it with sea–weed, which they carried upon horse backs (for not one tenant in the parish had a single cart) during the three months of winter.  At candlemas they ploughed it down.  In the beginning of May they gave it another fur [sic], and then sowed bear upon it.  This, by the most intelligent, was followed with only one crop of oats, and then with a crop of pease; and the sea–weed succeeded the pease crop.  Part of their croft ground was also manured with dung, which they sowed with bear, any time between Whitsunday and the end of May.  They were accustomed to manure such parts of their out–field land as they wished to plough, by inclosing their cattle upon it in folds.  From the land thus manured, they generally took four crops of oats.  It was observed that the crop was always strongest on those parts of the field, on which the earth that had composed the fold dyke was spread.  The same mode of culture took place in the higher grounds, to the south of what is now the post road.  In process of time, they began to spread lime, which they brought on horses [sic] backs from the parish of Dailly, upon their folds.  They usually gave about 20 bolls to the acre, reckoning 2 bushels of shells to the boll.  From the ground they manured, they took 5 crops of oats.  They also began to improve their croft land with lime, by sowing with the hands, immediately after they had sown their pease, half a boll of slaked lime to every half peck of pease.

About twenty years ago, the husbandry of this parish underwent a total and happy revolution.  The farms were considerably diminished in extent, the boundaries were properly [487] straighted [sic], and they began to be inclosed and subdivided with ditch and hedge.  Almost, in the course of ten years, the farms in the whole parish, were thus inclosed and divided.  The sheep were entirely banished; and instead of five or six mean looking horses, every farmer got four horses, each of them equal in strength and value to two of their former ones, with a cart horse to each.  Sir Thomas Kennedy, afterwards Earl of Cassillis, took the lead in this improved mode of agriculture.  He enlarged, to a great extent, the farm and policy about Cullean Castle, and placed the direction of the whole under the deceased Mr Foulis, who lived near Elintone.  About the same time, Sir Adam Fergusson brought into this parish some farmers of great skill in husbandry.  Both these proprietors, and all the other heritors, in their new tacks, took the tenants bound to such wise regulations, and such a proper rotation of crops, as have contributed greatly to the improved state of agriculture in this parish.  The tenants first of all laid down their croft lands with rye grass and clover, took one crop of hay, sometimes two, and rested them four years in pasture.  Then they began to their out–field.  The whole system of folding was given up.  They were bound in their tacks not to break up any of their out–field, without lime or dung, to take two crops of oats, and lay down with the third; or to take the third crop in pease, and lay down with the fourth.  Such, in general, were the stipulations in the tack.  But when the tenant had a great quantity of coarse, stiff, out–field land, he was indulged by his master in taking three crops of oats, and in laying down with the fourth.  Some farms have been so situated with respect to their stiff out–field, as to find it necessary to take their fourth crop of pease, and lay down with new dung with the fifth.  In the south part of the parish, by far the most extensive, as containing about 6000 acres of ground, there is some out–field [488] covered with a very strong heath.  In most parts the soil below is a strong deep clay.  This, with the heath roots, renders it incapable of being subdued without a very great expence of lime and labour.  To provide against this, the practice of paring and burning has, with great advantage, been introduced.  The paring, generally, costs about £1 per acre.  So soon as the weather permits, the surface is burnt, and the ashes spread over the field.  The good farmer, during the summer months, adds 40 bolls of lime to the acres.  If, after harvest, the ground is dry, it is plowed [sic].  In the spring it is sown with oats.  Three crops are taken, and it is sown down with rye grass in the fourth.  Some fields, cultivated in this way, have yielded upwards of five boss per acre, the second year, with a prodigious quantity of straw, and at last good pasture, where before an acre would not have fattened a sheep.  In liming the grounds, where the soil is stiff and coarse, they give 100 bolls per acre, where it is less so 80; and in light this soils 60 answer perfectly well.  When they go over their ground a second time, they generally use a compost of earth and lime, allowing one third less of lime than formerly.  This has succeeded exceedingly well.  By attending to this practice, and by taking great care of their hedges, this parish now exhibits a state of improved agriculture, superior to most of the districts of Carrick.

The tenant, however, labours under considerable difficulty in procuring lime.  Almost all of it must be brought from the parish of Dailly, across the most hilly part of this parish to the south.  The medium distance from the lime quarry to the shore part of the parish, is about five English miles.  But the length of the road is not the chief difficulty.  Many parts of the road are so steep and rugged, that the farmer, at the above distance, with horses at £18 price, cannot bring more than seven bushels in a one horse cart, and can load [489] but once a day.  Notwithstanding all this, it appears, by a note from the clerks of the lime works, there were brought into this parish in summer 1791, 48,000 bushels of lime shells.

Several marle [sic] pits have been found, within these three years, in those parts of the parish which lie at the greatest distance from the lime, and within an English mile of the sea.  So easily is the marle wrought, that one farmer with 6 horses, manured 30 acres in summer 1791.  It is put out of the pit, ready to be taken away at 1d per cart, and 80 cart loads are allowed to each acre.  The farms thus manured promise to be soon in a high state of cultivation.

When speaking of the different kinds of manure, one circumstance deserves to be mentioned.  On a farm upon the shore, there have been observed from time immemorial, within 30 yards of the sea–mark, two large hillocks, 10 yards distant from each other, covered with sand and bent.  About 12 years ago, by a violent storm from the sea, the end of one of the hillocks was uncovered, and there appeared something like coal ashes.  This called the farmers attention, who immediately opened up the hillock, and discovered a prodigious quantity.  These ashes were used as manure, first upon ley ground, and afterwards, mixed with lime, on light croft ground, with little or no success; but were found to answer well for garden roots.  Although above 1000 large cart loads have been taken, yet there remain in the two hillocks, at a moderate computation, above 3000 loads more.  Tradition does not inform us whence these ashes came in such quantity.  There is no vestige of any building whatsoever, nearer than the old farm–house, and the place is 4 English miles distant from any coal work.  It has been supposed they are the effects of barbarous superstition in times of idolatery [sic] in this country.

[490] The prevailing crop in this parish is oats, which are of an exceedingly good quality, though not of the early kind.  Some oats have been known to weigh 42 lbs English, per Winchester bushel, and to yield 21 pecks of meal per boll.  As the soil of the parish is generally light, the next prevailing crop is bear, which is of a very fine quality for malt.  Some of the bear in this parish weighs 50 lbs English per bushel.  Barley crops are not so frequent, because, though good in quality, yet the crop fails a fourth part in quantity when compared to bear.  Some pease and beans are also sown, but they are often with difficulty brought safe into the barn–yard.  The farmers plant considerable quantities of potatoes, which they manage with the plough in rows, at 3 feet distance.  Few or no farmers think of less than an acre, producing 40 bolls, chiefly for their family use; the boll nearly 10 Winchester bushels.  The turnip husbandry has been very little practised in this parish, except on Lord Cassill's [sic] farm at Cullean Castle, where it has been very successful.  Most people think the soil of the parish, in general, favourable for turnip, and several farmers have thoughts of trying it.

The great change than has taken place in the corn milns, both in respect of the tenure of the milns, and the manner of performing the work, has much contributed to the encouragement of agriculture in this parish.  Forty years ago, the landlord obliged the tenant in his tack, to go to his own miln, with all his grindable corn above his seed, and to pay to the miller a very heavy multure.  But now many of the gentlemen of property, leave the tenant free to go to any miln upon their land, where he can be best served, paying to the miller nothing more than the mere working of his grain, which is from 4d to 5d per boll of oats grinding into meal; the victual boll exactly eight Winchester bushels.  There were no barley milns in this country forty years ago.  There [491] are now in this parish two barley milns, which make this necessary article to any degree of fineness, at the rate of from 20d to 2s per boll.  This circumstance encourages the farmer to sow barley instead of bear, as there is at all times a ready market for the made barley, among the store farmers in the Highlands of Carrick.. To this may be added, that 40 years ago, every tenant dryed [sic] his oats upon his own kiln, constructed in a very coarse manner.  Now every miln in the parish has a kiln adjoining to it, properly bottomed with tyle [sic], and so constructed as to go with every wind.  These dry grain at the low price of from 1d to 2d per boll.  Indeed the farmers, who have a very great tillage, are now getting kilns of this sort, upon their own farms, at their own expence.  What, however, adds to the charge of the farmer in this article, is the distance from coal proper for the purpose of drying; which cannot be got nearer than 15 miles from this place.

The dairy was in a most neglected state in this parish forty years ago.  Good butter and cheese were scarcely to be found.  Now the milk cows are changed to the better, are put into parks sown down with white and yellow clover, and when they live in the house by night or by day, are fed upon cut red clover.  Every steading of farm houses has an apartment by itself for a milk house, and every conveniency suited to it.  Both butter and cheese are now exported from the parish to the markets of Ayr and Paisley.  Butter in 1791 sold for 8s and a new milk cheese for 4s 8d per English stone.

There is very little lint sown in this parish.  The soil is thought to be in general too light for it.

Many of the farmers now fatten cattle for the market, besides bringing up a number of young cattle every year.  They never have been in the use of rearing their own horses, which would be a great saving.  They are commonly purchased from Ireland.  The numbering of labouring horses in the parish is [492] 300.  The stock of milk and yeild [sic] cattle varies every year according to the tillage and pasture in the several farms.

The principal export from the parish, to the manufacturing towns, is oat–meal and bear.  In the year 1783, there was exported from this parish, of crop 1782, which failed through almost the whole of Scotland, above 1200 bolls of oat–meal.  At present, there are above 1500 bolls of oat–meal exported annually, to the manufacturing towns, besides bear and potatoes.

State of Manufactures

The people are mostly employed in farming operations.  In no one part of the parish, except the village of Kirkoswald, is there any number of houses together.  In the village there are only 17 families.  In these circumstances it cannot be expected, that manufactures can be any way very prevalent.  Within these two years a thread miln, and a carding and spinning machine for wool, have been erected, and are now successfully employed.  It were to be wished that the proprietors of land would give every proper encouragement to undertakings of this kind, in a parish where labour is cheap, and where there is plenty of all kinds of good provisions.  There is one species of manufacture in this parish, which ought not to be omitted; that is, the manufacturing of wool into coarse blanketing and plaiding.  This is chiefly carried on by the farmers, who have a number of daughters or female servants, and by the cottagers and their families.  A number of the farmers import from Argyleshire and Galloway, great quantities of wool; which is spun and woven in this parish, and sold at the markets of Maybole and Ayr.

Upon the coast of this parish, cod, ling, haddock, &c are so plenty, as occasionally to attract different companies of fishermen from Ayr.  Lately a salmon fishery has been [493] begun on this coast, which promises to be very productive.  White fish sell for 1d and salmon from 2d to 5d per lb. [7]


Rent, &c

From the above account of this parish, it may be expected that the present real rent will be very considerable.  [495] The valuation of the parish, according to its present limits, is £3903 18s Scots.  The present rent is about £4000 Sterling yearly.  The shore part of the parish, comprehending above 4000 acres, is rented from 1s to 8s per acre.  Several farms of considerable extend, give the highest of these rents, and many others 15s per acre.  The higher grounds of the parish, to the south of the post road, are rented from 4s to 8s.  Forty years ago, the rent of the parish was exceedingly low.  Farms upon the shore, which now yield 15s per acre, did not give above 5s.  In the higher part of the parish, there is a barony, consisting of above 1100 acres, which was at that time rented at £50 and it now gives [496] £280 Sterling.  A still greater rise has taken place in the eastern part of the parish towards Maybole.  A farm consisting of 200 acres, not above half a mile from the church, was, forty years ago, let for £8 per annum, and in the sixteenth year of the present tack, it is rented at £36 and must rise in proportion at the expiration of this tack.  Such is the state and rental of the grounds in the parish, that if peace and good order, by divine providence, be continued in our country, and the state of manufactures continue to rise, under our present happy constitution, the property of this parish must exceed in value, any in the whole district of Carrick, according to its extend.

One circumstance, however, must not be omitted, which has considerably retarded the improvement of this parish, and that is smuggling or illicit trade, which more or less has, at different times, been carried on in all the coast parishes of the country.  This business was first carried on here from the Isle of Man, and afterwards to a considerable extent from France, Ostend, and Gottenburgh.  It, however, received a full check, by the commutation act, and the greater attention and vigilance of his Majesty's revenue officers.  Little is now done in that way, and it is to be hoped the time is fast coming, when this illicit trade will be at an end.  Though the character and behaviour of those engaged in this business, were, for the most part, in other respects good; yet, without doubt, it produced very bad effects on the industry of the people, and gave them a taste for luxury and finery, that spoiled the simplicity of manners which formerly prevailed in this parish.


Nothing is more wanted in this parish, that a greater quantity of coal.  At present it is supplied from the coal works in the parish of Dailly.  But the roads to these coal [497] works are equally distant and much worse, than those above mentioned to the lime.  Some attempts have been made, of late, to discover coal in the parish, but without success.  There was indeed a coal mine in this parish, but it was set on fire about 45 years ago, and is still burning.  Several methods have been tried to extinguish the fire, but they have proved ineffectual.  It has been the opinion of the best coal miners in the west of Scotland, that if no part of the coal near the fire were to be wrought for a number of years, it would of course be soon extinguished.  This method has accordingly been adopted, and the fire has gradually lessened.  The want of this coal has been a great loss to this parish, as it was a valuable mine, consisting of 5 seams of coal, from 6 to 15 feet thick. [8]



There has been no great influx of strangers to this parish, for these forty years past, till within these five years, when a considerable number of sober and industrious farmers, tempted with the dryness of the soil, and, as they thought, the cheapness of the ground, came from the other parts of the country, and settled here.  The native inhabitants have, from the beginning of the above period, in general, maintained a character of great plainness and simplicity of manners, a strong attachment to the established religion of the country, and an [sic] uniform and decent regard to the ordinances thereof, both at home and in the neighbouring parishes.  No doubt, that refinement in the manner of living and dress, which has taken place throughout the country, prevails also here.  Owing, perhaps, to the prevalence of smuggling, this took place here earlier than in the neighbouring parishes.  Persons engaged in that trade, found it necessary to go abroad, and enter into business with foreign merchants; and by dealing in tea, spirits, and silks, brought home to their families and friends, the means of greater luxury and finery, and at the cheapest rate.  Persons of this description, being also obliged to enter much into society, in their own country, thereby acquired a turn for hospitality and entertainment at home.  The other parts of the parish, from the improved state of their farms, were both desirous and able, in some degree, to follow the example of their neighbours.  But amidst all this, they have preserved the sobriety of manners, and the decency of the Christian character; for during the whole of the above [499] period, there has been only one tried by the justiciary, for violently beating a man in his own house; and such were the alleviating circumstances of the case, that the pannel [sic] was only punished with a few weeks imprisonment.  It may not be improper to compare with this, the state of morals in this parish about 180 years ago.  It appears, from the register formerly mentioned, that from 1610, to 1620, the most flagrant violations of the Sabbath took place.  It was, in frequent instances, proved before the session, that persons were guilty of fishing, and selling their fish openly in Maybole market; that others winnowed their corn, and gave no reason for so doing, but that the wind was favourable; that others openly washed and dryed their cloaths [sic]; and that others were guilty of tuellying [sic], as it is called, or fighting to the effusion of blood, in the church–yard, in the time of divine service.  So frequent at that period was the vice of drunkenness, even on the Sabbath, that we find the session enacting, that no inn–keeper should sell on that day, more than two pints of ale to a company of three persons.  It further appears, from the same register, that the vice of adultery was also very frequent.  It would seem, however, that the morals of the people after the year 1630, improved to a considerable degree, and continued to improve long after 1640, when, as we have mentioned, the solemn league and covenant was signed in this parish.


The number of poor has of late years greatly increased.  Forty years ago, the number of monthly pensioners upon the roll, was only seven.  At present, the number is 21, who receive from 1s 6d to 2s every month.  These distributions are under the management of the minister and kirk–session.  At two other times of the year, immediately after the communion, and at new year's day, the distribute to [500] above 40 persons, to the amount of above £8 Sterling at each time.  These two large distributions, are intended to enable the poor to purchase shoes and coals, and to pay their house rent, which articles are now become much more expensive that they were formerly.  The funds for all this arise almost wholly from the collections at the church door, from collections at private baptisms and marriages, in whatever part of the parish they are celebrated, and also from the private charities of the rich, who, to their praise, do, in times of scarcity, liberally contribute to this humane purpose.  But if the poor of the parish have greatly increased, so these funds have to a proportionable degree also increased.  The session has not, therefore, been yet obliged to make application to non–residing heritors; and it has been, and is the determined purpose of all concerned in the management of the poor, to keep at the utmost distance from legal operation in their supply.  No doubt this can be more easily done in a parish like this, where there are no populous towns or villages, or numbers of manufacturing people.  The voluntary contributions would, however, be much greater, were it not for the great number of Irish vagrants and beggars, who dailly [sic] travel the great post road from Ayr to Port Patrick; near to which, on both sides, stands the greater number of the farmers houses; which are oppressed by the importunate and violent cravings of these beggars.  It were to be wished that the police of the country would remedy this evil.


[1]           It deserves to be recorded, to the honour of this worthy clergyman, that his statistical account was drawn up under all the disadvantages of blindness, which has not however impaired his energy of mind, or damped his zeal, for promoting the good of his country.

[2]           Though it be always stated as belonging to the parish of Dailly, being annexed to a Barony, the property of the Earl of Cassillis, in that parish, yet the tacksmen of it have, from time immemorial, resided in this parish.

[3]           The present incumbent was ordained October 5th 1752.  [477] Mr Cupples, his immediate predecessor, was ordained in 1720, of whom this particular circumstance is recorded, that he was the first minister in Scotland, who, according to the act of Assembly, gave in his letter of acceptance to the presbytery, with the Crown presentation.  His predecessor, Mr Adam, who was the first minister after the re–establishment of presbytery, was ordained in 1694.  The last Episcopal minister, was appointed here in 1670, and retired to Maybole in 1691.

[4]           In the above account of marriages, those are excluded, which probably were not consummated in this parish.  These, during the course of the above period, amount to 191.  Dividing the baptisms by the marriages, exclusive of the above 191, the average of births from each marriage is only from 3 to 4, or fully 7 births for every 2 marriages.  But, as in the table of births, the fruit of thse marriages, which were celebrated in other parishes, and consummated here, is included; it may perhaps be proper, in comparing the marriages and births, to include also those marriages which were celebrated here, and consummated in other parishes.  If, then, this be done, by adding the above 191 to the marriages, the average of births from each marriage will be from 4 to 5.  Subtracting the burials from the baptisms, the total surplus of baptisms is 908, for the last 70 years, which amounts nearly to 13 annually.  As the population has, during that time, only increased 167, the total emigration is 741, and the annual average nearly 10.

[5]           So small a number of labouring servants is not adequate to the half of the labour.  The remainder is performed partly by the farmers themselves and their families, and partly by cottagers.

[6]           About fifty years ago, the late Mr Gilbert Blane of Blanefield, began to inclose by ditch and hedge, and made a considerable extent of fences in that way, most of them double; and in the space between the double fences he planted a great many forest trees.  But such was the general aversion which the country people then had to improvements of that kind, that it was not in his power to preserve them from being pulled out and destroyed; so that few of these inclosures are now useful, and little of the planting remains.

             Mr Blane was likewise the first person in the parish who introduced the improvement of land by lime, and gave an experimental proof that the most barren heath could, by means of that manure, be converted in a very short time into excellent pasture.

[7]           Antient and Modern Buildings.  Upon a small promontory on the barony of Turnberry, now the property of the Earl of Cassillis, are the ruins of the famous castle of Turnberry, the seat of the Earls of Carrick.  When or by whom it was built, is altogether uncertain.  Authentic history, however, informs us, that in 1274, Martha, Countess of Carrick, lived in this her castle, and was that year married to Robert Bruce Earl of Annandale.  From this marriage sprung the Kings of Scotland, of the race of Stewart.  In 1306, Turnberry was held by an English garrison, under Earl Percy; and some years after this we find that King Robert Bruce stormed the castle, still in possession of the English, routed and expelled the garrison, but at the expence of the destruction of the building.  After this we do not hear of its being inhabited.

             The situation of this castle is most delightful, having a full prospect of the whole firth of Clyde, as above described.  Upon the land side, it looks over a rich plain of above 600 acres.  This plain is bounded by the hills, which rise in a beautiful amphitheatre.  Little now is known as to the extent of this antient building.  There still remain the vestige of a ditch, and part of the buttresses of the draw–bridge.  There is a passage, which opens towards the sea, arched above, leading to a large apartment in the castle, which by tradition is said to have been the kitchen.  This castle has been built of whin stone, and is remarkable for the very strong cement that has been used in building it.  The ruins, as they now lie, cover an acre of ground.

             The next remarkable old building in the parish, is the Abbey of Crossregall or Crossreguill, founded by Duncan King of Scotland, in 1160, situated two miles east from the village.  It is more entire than any abbey in the west of Scotland.  The side walls of the church and choir still remain to the height of fourteen feet.  It has been exceedingly well lighted within.  Towards the east remains the nitch, and the Abbot's ecclesiastical court, all entire, and arched very much in the style of the Cathedral at Glasgow.  There are besides, several vaults and cells, all built of fine hewn–stone.  At the east end of the abbey, stand the ruins of the Abbot's first house, with only the outer walls remaining.  On the west end of the abbey, stands the last house which the Abbot inhabited; in this the stair is entire from top to bottom, with several apartments regularly divided, all of [494] free–stone   The whole building stands in the middle of eight acres of ground, commonly called the Abbot's yard, or Precinct, of Crossreguill.  This belongs to the chapel royal, and is let in tack to the family of Kilkerran.  It is subset to one of the tenants of the barony of Baltersan, the property of the family; in the middle of which rich and extensive barony of land this abbey stands.  The above Precinct has been walled in with a very strong stone and lime wall, little of which is now remaining.  This ruin is preserved with great care and attention, the tenants not being allowed to take down and use any stone from the abbey itself.

             The next old building in the parish, is the house or castle of Thomaston, abour half a mile to the south–east of Cullean.  Tradition tells us, that this was built by a nephew of Robert Bruce, in the year 1335.  It has been exceedingly strong, and of considerable extent.  It was inhabited fifty years ago, and is now become the property of the Earl of Cassillis.

             Of the modern buildings in this parish, the most remarkable is Cullean castle, founded by David, late Earl of Cassillis, in the year 1777.  This noble edifice is situated upon a rock, projecting a little into the sea, of about 100 feet in height from the surface of the water, and almost perpendicular.  The plan and design were given by the late Mr Robert Adam; and such is the style of the architecture, such the execution of the work, and the beauty of the stone, that it impresses the mind with delightful ideas of elegance, order, and magnificence, exceeding any thing similar in the country.  At a proper distance from the castle, stand the stables and farm–houses; planned by the same architect, and executed upon the same large scale; all of which, with the bridge of approach to the castle, cover four acres of ground.  The castle commands, from the principal apartments, a delightful prospect of the whole Frith of Clyde, with a full view of the rok [sic] of Ailsa, set down in the middle, the vessels passing to and from Clyde not far from its walls.  On the land side, and immediately below the castle, are the gardens belonging to the old house of Cullean, formed out of rock, at a great expence, into three terraces; upon the walls of which are planted some of the choicest fruit trees.  The remainder of the old gardens is formed into pleasure ground and gravel walks, kept with great care.  Round the castle, and the adjoining buildings, lies an extensive policy of about 700 acres, interspersed with many [495] thriving plantations; the execution of which, together with a new garden and hot–houses, is carrying on with great taste and elegance.  Upon these accounts, this edifice is visited with pleasure by all persons of taste, whether residing in the country or strangers.

             Near to the castle, and immediately under some of the buildings, are the coves or caves of Cullean.  These are six in number.  Of the three towards the west, the largest has its entry as low as high water mark, the roof is about 50 feet high; and has the appearance as if two large rocks had fallen together, forming a Gothic arch, though very irregular; it extends inwards about 200 feet, and varies in breadth.  It communicates with the other two, which are both considerably less, but of much the same irregular form.  Towards the east are the other three coves, which likewise communicate with each other.  They are nearly of the same height and figure with the former, but their extend has not been precisely ascertained.  Whether these coves are natural or artificial, and if artificial, what has been their design, no tradition whatever informs us.  One circumstance, however, cannot be omitted.  To the largest of the three west–most coves, is a door or entry, built of free–stone, with a window three feet above the door, or the same kind of work; above both these, there is an apartment, from which might be sent down whatever could annoy the assailants of the door.  This last circumstance is well known to take place in many of the old castles in the country, and seems to indicate, that at least this part of the coves has been at one period or another, the above of some of the inhabitants of this country.

[8]           The dryness of the soil, the openness of the country, and the proximity of the sea, render the climate pure and salubrious.  For these 40 years past, no putrid fever or flux have appeared in the parish.  During the first 20 years of the above period, a fever prevailed every six or seven years, with a considerable degree of inflammation.  It spread most rapidly, but, by the application of the accustomed remedies of bleeding, and taking great quantities of weak diluting drink, it was not very mortal, notwithstanding its infectious nature.  During the above period, the small pox prevailed at times without inoculation, and, when introduced into the parish, few families escaped.  In some, the disease was exceedingly fatal; but it cannot be ascertained from the register how many died of it annually.  The stopping, or croup, a disease frequent on the sea coast, never once made its appearance here, during the above mentioned period.  The measles and chincough have always been very favourable.  During the last 20 years, the fevers have taken a considerable change.  They are now, generally, of the slow nervous kind, and when introduced into the parish, are by no means very prevalent or mortal.  This, in part, may be owing to the improved habitation of the farmers.  Formerly these were small, and all the sick of the family crowded into one place, and kept so close as to prevent the proper circulation of air.  This change in the fevers may also have been caused, by the great increase of the [498] use of sugar and tea, which are now mostly in every farmers family.  Inoculation has in the same period taken place, and now almost universally prevails.  Though the frosts are not very long or severe, yet it has been observed, that three or four weeks frost have been followed with pleurisies, which have attacked the aged, and have been generally mortal.





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