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. V, pages 446–450]

(County of Ayr.)

By the Rev. Mr William Thomson.

Extent, Situation, &c

The parish of Ochiltree is situated in the presbytery of Ayr, and in that district of the county of Ayr, denominated Kyle.  The church and village of Ochiltree lie about 11 miles eastward from the town of Ayr, on the south side of the river Luggar [sic], and on the road that leads from that town to Dumfries.  The extent of the parish is about six miles from north to south, and about five miles from east to west.  The parish of Stair was formerly included in that of Ochiltree, and many of the lands of Stair still continues to pay stipend to the minister of Ochiltree; but they were disjoined about 300 years ago.



The Luggar, running to the north west, bounds the parish for about two miles, and a little farther down forms a conjunction with the river Ayr.  The water of Burnock, rising on the southern extremity of the parish, runs nearly due north, and joins the Luggar, at the village of Ochiltree, and cuts off a stripe of the parish of about half a mile broad to the eastward.  The Coyl, running in nearly the same direction, touches the parish of Ochiltree in some points on the westward.

General Appearance

The face of the parish is pretty level, undulated by gently rising hillocks, but towards the south it swells into higher ridges.  There is a thriving plantation, belonging to the Countess Dowager of Glencairn, which stretches from east to west, almost across the parish, nearly parallel to the Ayr road.  And the neighbouring plantations of Barskimming, Auchinleck, and Dumfries house, afford a fine prospect to a great part of the parish of Ochiltree.

Cultivation, &c

The land is mostly employed in tillage, and feeding black cattle, there being only 3 or 4 sheep farms upon the higher grounds towards the south.  The farmers chiefly cultivate and depend on an oat crop; they sow also a little bear, but no wheat or rye.  The land consists of a strong clay, spouty in some places, but producing good crops.  Black cattle thrive very well, and considerable quantities of butter and cheese are made for sale.


There is only one small coal pit, in the western extremity of the parish, which produces a kind of coal without much smoke, used for drying oats; but there is abundance of coal in the neighbouring parishes of Stair, [448] Cumnock, and Auchinleck.  There is no limestone in the parish, that can be advantageously wrought, but it is brought from the neighbouring parishes.  There is some marle, though not of the best kind.


The parish might be much more improved were there any roads through it; but at present there is not one made road, excepting the turnpike road to Ayr formerly mentioned, and another small portion of road, that crosses a corner of the north west side of the parish.  It would be much for the interest of the proprietors, to attend to the state of the roads, and to the funds allotted for that purpose, there being £60 annually collected, of which £20 goes to the repair of the toll road to Ayr.  The rest is otherwise applied, but unfortunately not to roads within the boundaries of this parish.

Proprietors, Rent, Church, &c

The proprietors are ten in number, but Lady Glencairn is possessed of about three fifths of the whole parish.  On her estate there is an old mansion house, situated at the east end of the village of Ochiltree, which is the present residence of the minister, the manse being entirely in ruins. [1]   The valued rent of the parish is £5213 Scotch.  The real rent at present is about £3000 Sterling and upwards.  There is a good new church built about three years ago.  The present incumbent was settled in April last.  The stipend, on an average, is about £95 Sterling.  The right of patronage is vested in the Countess Dowager of Glencairn.  The school in the [449] village is in a flourishing condition.  The salary, however, is only £8 Sterling.  There is also a private school, or two.


There are a great number of poor in the parish.  About 20 receive regular monthly supplies.  The only funds are the weekly collections, which amount, on average, to about 12s per week, besides the extraordinary collections on sacramental occasions, which, for some years past, have been about £9 Sterling per annum.  These collections are chiefly, if not solely, contributed by the commonalty, there being but one small heritor residing in the parish.


The number of inhabitants, according to a list taken this year (1792), amounts to 1150.  The return to Dr Webster in 1755, was 1210 souls.  The average of births for 5 years preceding 1792 is about 37.  The average of marriages and burials cannot be ascertained, on account of the inaccuracy of the parochial registers.  There are about 220 families in the parish, and 67 of these in the village.  There are about five to a family, taking country and village together, but taking them separately, there are six in the former and four in the latter; a circumstance which strongly proves the superior healthiness of a country life.  There are 30 more females than males.

Miscellaneous Observations

There are about 9 families of Seceders, some of the Burgher, and some of the Antiburgher persuasion.  All the rest attend the parish church, and are regular in their attendance on ordinances.  The inhabitants in general are remarkable for the simplicity, integrity, and purity of their manners.  Except a few shopkeepers, masons, joiners, and weavers, chiefly in the village, they are all farmers, who are not much in the world, [450] and for the most part dwell in solitary houses, at some distance from each other.  The children of the farmers are pretty numerous, four neighbouring farmers having two of them 8, and two of them 9 children a–piece.  The patron on the two last vacancies which happened, gave the people a pastor agreeable to their wishes; and what are called the New Light Doctrines, contrary to our Confession of faith, though prevalent in other parts of Ayrshire, have obtained very little countenance in Ochiltree.


[1]           There is another old ruin on the Luggar, a mile to the north west of Ochiltree, opposite to the old house of Auchinleck, which formerly was the seat of the proprietor of the Ochiltree estate.  And there is an old square tower, in the south part of the parish, named Auchencloigh.





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