[Vol. VI, pages 98–101.]
(County and Presbytery of Air, Synod of Glasgow and Air.)
By the Rev Mr James Young.
Extent, Soil, and Climate
The name of the parish, and of most places in it, is derived from the Celtic. The form is very much of an oblong square, being 12 miles in length from E to W and somewhat more than 8 in breadth; and the whole square content of it may be above 100 miles, or 50,000 acres. At the church the dale country terminates, and southwards the parish is generally a pasture country for sheep. The soil is generally good and rough, and the hills are covered with green. The air is generally healthful, witness the long lives of many who have died above 90, or near it, and some now in the parish have reached that period/
Springs, Rivers, and Lakes
In such a hilly country as this, there must be several mineral springs, but they are not much used. The river Nith takes its rise in the SW end, and runs through the middle, of the parish. There are 3 lakes  on the north side, which run into the water of Lugar at Cumnock. There are several pikes found in this water; and abundance of trouts in the river Afton, which takes its origin in the south part of the parish, and runs into the Nith near the church. These rivers are not navigable. The Nith, for 3 miles, runs in a straight wide plain with a small declivity; which, in the opinion of some, was formerly a marsh: on both sides of the stream in this plain there are fertile grounds and meadows, but they are sometimes overflowed in speats.
There are various mines of coal and lime, which serve the neighbourhood; though little is consumed, owing to the want of a navigable river; in which case, a greater estate would arise from them than from the surface of the land. There is now a lead mine working in Afton barony, about 3 miles SW from the church, in which a company of Quakers have entered into a contract. Twenty miners are employed, and more are expected according to the apparent success. A wodd mine was lately found on the estate of the Earl of Dumfries.
According to the returns to Dr Webster in 1755, the number of souls was 1497; though, when the present incumbent was settled, abour 1757, the number was little more than 1000. It may now amount to about 1200, two villages having been built near the church, and on Afton–water, where there was but one house in 1757. There may be 40 births, near as many deaths, and about 10 marriages, per annum. There may be 80 farmers and storekeepers, and more cottagers, 200 men–servants, near as many women–servants, about 400 horses, near 1000 milch–cows and their followers. The number of sheep cannot be easily guessed at.  Four or five of the lower kind of heritors reside in the parish, but the principal proprietors, who are General Stewart, Sir Andrew Cathcart, Mr Ross of Kerse, Captain Maxwell, etc. are non–resident. About 12 of the inhabitants are Seceders.
The parish produces chiefly bear and oats. Abundance of potatoes are raised, and mostly used for the support of the inhabitants. Quantities of bear, cheese, and butter, are exported, and with them the farmers make up their rents. The crops are liable to several accidents when the harvest is late, and suffer much by early frosts, mildews, and shaking winds, especially in the marshy and fluid grounds. The harvest in 1790 was just finishing at the date of the minister's report, (9th November.)
Ecclesiastical State, etc.
This district was detached from the parish of Cumnock, and formed into a separate charge about the middle of the last century. The present incumbent was settled in 1757; and his predecessor had the charge no less than 54 years. The Earl of Dumfries is patron. The living is £640 Scotch, including communion elements, one chalder of meal, and another of bear. The glebe is greater than the legal size, but lies open and uninclosed, the high road passing through the middle of it. There is an established school, endowed with a salary of £100 Scotch, consisting sometimes of 30, and sometimes of 40 scholars; but, as it cannot accommodate the one half of the parish, several private schools are kept in distant parts of it. About £26 sterling arising from the collections at the church doors, and the interest of £200 of capital stock, is annually distrubuted among the  poor, who are not very numerous, thought the parish is often incumbered with indigent strangers. Near the church stood an old castle, now entirely demolished, which, for some centuries, was the property of the Dunbars of Mochrum.