Seagate castle, Irvine
Maryborough salt pan houses
weavers' cottages in Crosshill


Culzean coach house
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Old Statistical Account


[Transcribed from the original by David Courtney McClure.]

[Vol. III, pages 103–111.]

(County of Ayr.)

By the Rev. Dr George Lawrie.

Name, Extent, etc

The parish of Loudoun is situated in that part of the shire of Ayr called Cunningham, a Danish word signifying a royal seat.  Its name Loudoun is, probably, derived from a hill in the extremity of the parish, called Loudon, from the old word low, or fire, and don a hill.  Its extent from east to west is nine English miles; its breadth towards Eaglesham is about seven miles; but at the west extremity it is not above three miles broad.  There are four villages in the parish, fist Newmilns an antient borough of barony.  Their charter of erection the inhabitants obtained from James IV.  It contains about 1000 inhabitants.  The other three villages owe their origin and increase to the family of Loudoun.  Derville, or Derval, contains about 400 inhabitants.


The number of souls in the spring 1791, was 2308; June 1765, 1452; increase between these periods is 856.  In Dr Webster's report the number is 1494.

[103] The proportion, at present, of males to females, is nearly equal, owing to the emigration of young weavers to Glasgow and Paisley, and farmers widows resorting to the vilalges with their daughters, were they are employed in assisting the weavers in winding yarn, clipping, etc.

Weavers in Newmilns, males


Weavers in Newmilns, females


Derval, all males


In the other parts of the parish


Weavers in the whole parish



Some girls begin to weave so early as the age of twelve, and some females have taught their husbands after marriage.

Births last two years.















The greatest curiosity in this parish, is the foundation of a Druidical temple, on the top of the highest hill in the parish except Loudon hill.  The foundation is composed of large broad whin stones.  The Archdruid's sanctum sanctorum is ten feet diameter, and more entire than the rest.  There are many tumuli or cairns of stones in this and Galston parish; two of them have been lately dug up, in which burnt human bones were found; and an urn with human bones that had been burnt, was also found.  A stone coffin was likewise found, four feet ten inches long, and about 19 inches broad.  It was full of human bones; the top was free stone, and the sides whin stone.  The urn was about six inches diameter at the mouth, and had no inscription.  The field adjoining is vulgarly called Anchors–Field; but in the old charters, its real name is Acorns–Field; where, probably, was a grove of oaks, held in veneration by the Druids.

The custom still remains amongst the herds and young people to kindle firse in the high grounds, in honour of Beltan.  Beltan, which in Gaelic signifies Baal, or Bel's–fire, was antiently the time of this solemnity.  It is now kept on St Peter's day.

As the Danes were undoubtedly in possession of great part of Cunningham, there are two ruins, still called castles, that resemble Danish forts; the one in the village of Auldton, and the other near Derval, which is more entire, and surrounded by a deep ditch, and a place where there appears to have been a draw–bridge, and opposite to it, a gate that led to the castle.  The Knights Templars had lands in this parish, as the names and charters plainly indicate; as Temple–Hill, Temple–Derval, neither do they hold of any superior, not even of the Crown.  Near Derval is a place called Glenchapel, but there is not the least vestige of a church or chapel.  There are likewise the ruins of an antient castle belonging to the family of Loudoun, which was burnt 300 years ago, by the clan Kennedy, who were headed by the Earl of Cassillis.  There is a very old castle belonging to the same family, in the village of Newmilns, still entire, but very small.  The house of Loudoun is at a little distance in the woods; which was greatly improved by an addition made to it by Chancellor Loudoun, in the year 1622.  In this house there is a library room 90 feet in length.  The library consists chiefly of Greek and Roman classics, and at present contains about 10,000 volumes.  In the inclosures, [106] near the house, is a Druidical ruin.  The late Earl John, in digging his garden, found tne brass cannon quite entire, two feet under the surface; they were about six pounders, of the swivel kind, with the Campbell's arms, and are still used on birth days; but we have no tradition concerning them.

Sectaries and Heritors

There are two Seceding meetings in the parish, one of the sect of Antiburghers, and the other of the old Covenanters.  In this last sect there are not above fifty.  There are about ten or twelve Burgher Seceders.  No family of not has a residence in the parish, except the Countess of Loudoun's, now a minor.  Four fifths of the parish is her property.  The other heritors, and feuers, are numerous, but they all pay feu to the family of Loudoun, except Captain Nisbet of Carfin, near Hamilton.


The church is new and in good repair.  The manse was built in 1768, and is in good order.  The stipend is in meal 76 bolls, bear 12 bolls, at an average £69, in money £21, and £3 16 8 for communion–elements; in all £93 16 8.  The glebe is 12 acres.  The stipend is very ill paid; the bear by more than thirty small feuers, and the meal likewise in small quantities.  The money is paid by ten or twelve tenants; and the stipend has not been augmented for 140 years past.


The school is one of the best in the west country.  It has a slate roof, and a very good accommodation for the schoolmaster above the school–room.  The teaching room is 36 feet long by 16 feet within the walls, and 10 feet high.  The schoolmaster's salary is £100 Scots; he has seldom less than 60 scholars, and often above 80 or 90.  He teaches chiefly English, at 1s 6d per quarter; with the addition of [107] arithmetic and writing, it is 2s 6d per quarter.  He teaches also mensuration and book–keeping; his payments for baptisms, session–clerk, and marriages, a few pounds.  His whole income is not above £30.

Climate, Situation, and Diseases

This parish is situated at the extremity of the fine strath upon the river of Irvine.  It is bounded by very high hills on the north and south.  We have much rain, but very little snow.  The narrow strath from east to west forms a kind of ventilator, which, undoubtedly, contributes greatly to the health of the inhabitants.  Except small–pox and measles, I never knew an epidemic, or what deserved than name.  I never saw an ague, and scarcely ever an infectious fever; a putrid fever never; a purple fever carried off several people about 20 years ago, from improper management, by immediately bleeding, which was found to be very fatal by those of the Faculty who first tried it.  Some years ago, nine children died of a disease called the closing, or croup.  The disease that is most frequent is the consumption.  Scrophula or white swelling is frequent from poor living, and sedentary life, and bad air in weaver's shopes, where they never have a fire.  There are a few remarkable instances of longevity.  Lady Loudoun died at the age of 100 in 1779, and enjoyed all her faculties to the last.  Several people die above 90, and many above 80.  Inoculation is gradually coming into use; and is always successful.


The time of sowing oats, is from the end of March to the end of April; and immediately when the oats are sown, the bear is begun to be sown, which is finished betwixt the middle and end of May.  We sow very little pease, and no beans, or wheat.  Every person, whether in town or country. plants a few potatoes.  Some few farmers sow rye–grass, [108] and a small proportion of red or white clover for hay, or cut grass.  The late John Earl of Loudoun, succeeded his father in the year 1731, and deserves the name of the father of agriculture in this part of the shire.  He had both a great taste, and great quickness of parts.  He prudently began with making roads through the parish, as early as the year 1733; and an excellent bridge was, by his influence, built over Irvine water; and the road from thence, and from his house to Newmilns, was the first made road in the shire of Ayr, which was done by the statute work.  He remembered when there was neither cart nor waggon in the parish, but his father's, Earl Hugh, and his factor's.  Now there are above 250 in the parish, besides waggons for leading grain, peats, etc.  Formerly they carried home their grain in sledges or cars, and their coals on small horses.  At the same period Earl John began to plant and inclose; he is said to have planted above one million of trees.  The trees are mostly ash, elm, oak, and many of them are of a great size.  One crop of hoop–willows from a small inclosure of three roods, sold for £27.  The weeding and thinning the plantations of elm, and ash, etc, yield from two to three hundred pounds annually.  Many ash and elm trees sell at one, two, and sometimes three guineas.  They were all planted from the year 1733, progressively, to the year 1775.  The number of farms planted and inclosed, are about fifty, inclosed and subdivided into small farms, from 20 to 30 acres each; in all about 6000 acres.  Add to this about 1570 acres; the whole of which is inclosed, and amounts to 7570 acres, including 95 acres of natural wood, and 250 acres of planted ground.  About 1000 acres in sheep farms are not yet inclosed.

Lime and Coal

There are, in different parts of the inclosures, [109] all within a mile or half a mile of the mansion–house, five or six lime quarries, some of them nine feet thick, and very near the surface, and not interrupted by water.  The whole ground round the mansion house is full of coal: two seams, one a little below the other, have been worked to great advantage, (especially of late, as the demand has been increased by the lime–works, and the increase of the number and riches of the inhabitants,) yielding annually about £200 of profit.  But, a few years ago, the pits were so rapidly filled with water, that the tutors of the Countess were obliged to cause erect a fire engine, which cost near £1000; but it answered the end, and the coal is of immense benefit to the parish, and to the farmers for burning lime.  There are five draw–kilns, which, when going, would produce 740 bolls of lime in 24 hours.  The lime is sold to the country, at from 5d to 6d per boll, and to the tenants upon the estate of Loudoun, at 4½d per boll, of five Winchester bushels, with one year's credit to the industrious tenant.


There are only four sheep farms in the parish, containing about 60 score.  Nine farms keep sheep, and are partly arable.  In these the number is about 50 score; and in the other farms, not belonging to the estate of Loudoun, about 32 score.  The sheep are all black faced, and have coarse wool, which sells at seven or eight shillings per stone tron weight.

Fuel, Soil, etc

There are nearly 10,000 acres in the parish, and three fourths of the land are arable.  There are extensive mosses.  The inhabitants of Newmilns and Dervall, etc, raise and sell peats at 10d and 1s per small waggon.  But the ready access to coal has diminished the demand for peats.  The soil, in general, is a rich deep loam, and much [110] improved by lime; and a small part is light and gravelly.  The rent of the arable land, about thirty years ago, was from 5s to 10s, it is now from 10s to £1 4 0 per acre; near the villages an an acre gives two, and some acres three pounds.

Prices of Horses, Labour, and Servants Wages

Working horses, twenty years ago, sold from £10 to £16, and now from £16 to £25.  The wages of men servants are now £7 and £8 annually.  Some labourers, that have houses in the villages, or near farmers houses, are occasionally employed.  Their wages in winter are 1s or 8d and their victuals, in summer 1s 2d.  Masons of late receive 1s 8d per day, and house–carpenters 1s 6d besides their victuals.  Women servants receive from £1 5 to £1 15 per half year.  There are about 100 ploughs in the parish, mostly of the old Scots kind, with improvements.  Milk cows sell, near the time of calving, from five to seven or eight guineas.

Produce and Prices of Grain

The parish produces more provisions than serve the inhabitants.  The tenants transport meal, butter, cheese, and veal, to Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Paisley, etc.  The average price of meal is 11¼d per peck, for twenty years past; bear 19s per boll of eight bushels, for the same period.  Butter from 10s to 12s per stone, skimmed milk cheese, when perfectly new, gives 3s 4d and in winter 4s per stone tron weight; sweet milk cheese is from 6s to 8s per stone.  Butcher meat of all kinds never sells high in our little village; whenever it is high, every thing is carried to the great towns.  Lamb, when early, is sold from 10s to 20s; veal brings 8d per pound, etc.  It is a profitable branch to the famer to fatten his early calves; when two or three months old, they bring from £2 to £4 each.



There are no sums of money mortified for the poor.  The heritors, minister, and session, have a joint meeting annually, and appoint the pensions for the poor, generally from 1s to 2s weekly.  In the interval, betwixt the annual meeting, the session, from time to time, takes in new annuitants.  The conduct of the poor is examined at each annual meeting.  The schoolmaster is allowed from the funds, wages for poor scholars.  The whole expence annually amounts to £50.  The funds chiefly arise from the weekly collections, the mort–cloth money, and the seat–rents of the church.  The trustees of Lady Loudoun allow generally £10 annually to the poor's funds.





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