History of the County of Ayr, Scotland


The utility of local and genealogical history is so universally acknowledged, that it would be supererogation to enlarge upon it here. It would be equally superfluous to enter into an explanation of the motives which led to our undertaking so arduous a work as a County and Family History.

It originated, we may say, with the publisher; who, finding that there was occasionally inquiries made for copies of Robertson's Ayrshire Families now out of print conceived that some new publication of the kind was called for. Upon consideration, it was found that a mere reprint of Robertson's work would not prove satisfactory. Although entitled to much credit more than some are willing to accord him he was only a partial, and, in not a few instances, a very incorrect gleaner in the genealogical field of the county. We do not attribute this to the want of ability or disposition on the part of the writer to be more general and accurate, but rather to a lack of material, which is only to be procured at great expense and patient research. Robertson's labors, in short, were chiefly confined to Cuninghame, the district in which he himself resided.

It was farther considered that any new work of the kind should embrace the whole of Ayrshire; and it occurred to us that an outline of the General History of the County, together with an account of each Parish, introductory to the History of the Families, would be an acceptable feature.

How we have followed out the plan of the publication, and, so far as we have gone, acquitted ourselves of the onerous task which devolved upon us, the public will be able to judge from this, the first volume, which we have now the pleasure of putting forward to the world. We have, at the same time, to apologize for the length of tune the work has been in hands.

When it was undertaken, we were sensible of the vast labour before us; yet we must say that our calculations have been greatly exceeded in this respect. Under other circumstances, it might, perhaps, have been pushed more rapidly forward; but where the regular calls of a weekly newspaper had to be attended to, this was impossible.

It is not for us to speak of the merits or demerits of the publication. We are fully aware of its short-comings. In fact, no history of the kind has ever been, or ever will be, produced without defects; so wide is the field, and so minute and precise the details, to be explored. He only who makes the nearest approach to fulness and accuracy may consider himself entitled to the guerdon.

We are, at the same time, conscious that it has some claims to a favorable judgment. Much labour has been bestowed upon it, and much that is curious and new in Ayrshire history and genealogy has been brought to light.

Free use, we may mention, has been made of Robertson's labors, in so far as they were deemed accurate; but our chief source of information has been the public records, and the charter chests of the various families to whom we have found it necessary to apply. And here we must tender our hearty thanks for the generally ready manner in which these were thrown open to us.

But our own labors alone would have been unequal to the task, incomplete as it yet is, and imperfectly performed as it may be. We have to acknowledge the very kind and efficient assistance of several gentlemen, who have devoted much time and talent to the elucidation of subjects interesting to the antiquary and genealogist.


Table of Contents


Parish of Ayr
Parish of Newton-Upon Ayr
Parish of Ardrossan
Parish of Auchinleck
Parish of Ballantrae
Parish of Barh
Parish of Colmonell
Parish of Coylton
Parish of Craigie
Parish of Old Cumnock
Parish of New Cumnock
Parish of Dailly
Parish of Dalmellington
Parish of Dalry
Parish of Dalrymple
Parish of Dreghorn


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The County of Ayr, according to Chalmers, obtains its name from the principal town of the district, which owes its designation for there can be little doubt that mountains, lakes, and rivers, had a priority in etymology to the river Ayr, on whose banks it is situated. Various rivers in England, Ireland, France, and other countries, bear a similar appellation possibly from a same- ness of local feature all supposed to be derived from one British or Celtic root. Ar or Adh'ar, in the Gaelic, signifies clear or rapid, also shelving or fordable both of which meanings are equally characteristic of the stream, which flows over a flat, rocky stratum, throughout almost its whole course. In the Itinerary of Richard, compiled as early as the second century, the Vidogara river, which is represented as running through Ayrshire, is conjectured by Chalmers to be the Ayr. The British Gufddawg dropping the g in composition with the addition of ara, would signify the woody-ar.