Old County of Ayrshire

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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1834-45: Ayrshire

Ayrshire, a maritime county of SW Scotland. It is bounded N by Renfrewshire, NE by Renfrew and Lanark shires, E by Lanark and Dumfries shires, SE by Kirkcudbrightshire, S by Wigtownshire, W by the North Channel and the Firth of Clyde. Its outline resembles that of a broad crescent, convex to the E, concave to the W. Its boundaries all round the landward sides are mainly artificial, i.e., though partly formed by watersheds, rivulets, and lakes, are principally capricious or conventional. Its length, from Kelly Burn, on the boundary with Renfrewshire on the N, to Galloway Burn on the boundary with Wigtownshire on the S, is 60 miles in a direct line, but 90 miles by the public road, the difference being chiefly due to the curvature of the coast; its breadth increases from 3½ miles at the northern, and 6 ½ at the southern, extremity to 28 eastward from Head of Ayr; and its area comprises 722,2291/3 acres of land, 60751/3 of foreshore, and 6957 of water-in all 1149 square miles. The rivers Irvine and Doon, the former running westward, the latter north-north-westward, cut the entire area into three sections, Cunninghame in the N, Kyle in the middle, Carrick in the S. These sections, if the entire area be represented as 52, have the proportions of respectively 13,19, and 20. The first and the second are predominantly lowland, while the third is predominantly upland. Cunninghame and Kyle also in a main degree have the form of an amphitheatre, rich in inner beauty, and all looking across to the grand western mountain-screen of the Firth of Clyde; while Carrick, in a considerable degree, is a tumbling assemblage of brae and hill and mountain, with only close views in vale or glen, and outward views from seaboard vantage grounds. Yet the three sections somewhat fuse into one another in landscape character, and have peculiarities of feature each within itself. The north-western section of Cunninghame, lying like a broad wedge between Renfrewshire and the Firth of Clyde, southward to the vicinity of Farland Head, is mainly a mass of lofty hills, with intersecting narrow vales, and has mostly a rocky coast. The rest of Cunninghame is principally a pleasant diversity of hill and dale and undulation, declining to the Bay of Ayr and to the river Irvine; yet rises in the extreme SE into high moors contiguous to those around Drumclog in Lanarkshire, and dominated within its own limits by the conspicuous cone of London Hill (900 feet). The upper part of Kyle, to the average breadth of 9 or 10 miles, all round from the sources of the river Irvine to the source of the river Doon in Loch Doon, is mostly moorish, and contains a large aggregate both of high bleak plateau and of lofty barren mountain. In the N is Distinkhorn (1258 feet), to E and S of which rise Blackside (1342), Dibblon Hill (1412), Middlefield Law (1528), Priesthill Height (1615), etc. Cairn Table, on the boundary with Lanarkshire, 2½ miles SE of Muirkirk, has an altitude of 1944 feet; Wardlaw hill, 2½ miles WSW of Cairn Table, has an altitude of 1630 feet; Blacklorg, on the Dumfriesshire boundary, 6½ miles SSE of New Cumnock, has an altitude of 2231 feet; and Blackcraig Hill, 1½ mile N by W of Blacklorg, has an altitude of 2298 feet. All the section S and SW of New Cumnock, to within 2¾ miles of Dalmellington, also lies within the basin of the river Nith, and is separated by lofty watersheds from the rest of the county. The middle and the western parts of Kyle are traversed through the centre by the river Ayr, dividing them into Kyle -Stewart on the N and King's Kyle on the S; they form, in a general view, to within about 4 miles of the coast, a continuous hanging plain, little diversified except by deep beds of streams, and by swelling knolls and hillocks; they terminate in a flattish fertile seaboard; and, to a large aggregate of their extent, they are richly embellished with culture and with wood. A graphic writer says, respecting all Kyle: ` The hill-country, towards the east, is bleak, marshy, uncultivated, and uninteresting; and on that side, except at one or two places, the district was formerly impervious. In advancing from these heights to the sea, the symptoms of fertility and the beneficial effects of cultivation rapidly multiply; but there is no " sweet interchange of hill and valley, " no sprightliness of transition, no bold and airy touches either to surprise or delight. There is little variety, or even distinctness of outline, except where the vermiculations of the rivers are marked by deep fringes of wood waving over the shelvy banks, or where the multitudinous islands and hills beyond the sea exalt their colossal heads above the waves, and lend an exterior beauty to that heavy continuity of flatness, which, from the higher grounds of Kyle, appears to pervade nearly the whole of its surface. The slope, both here and in Cunninghame, is pitted with numberless shallow depressions, which are surmounted by slender prominences, rarely swelling beyond the magnitude of hillocks or knolls. Over this dull expanse the hand of art has spread some exquisite embellishments, which in a great measure atone for the native insipidity of the scene, but which might be still farther heightened by covering many of these spaces with additional woods, free from the dismal intermixture of Scotch fir. ' Carrick contains several fine long narrow valleys, and numerous strips of low ground; but is mainly occupied by the western parts of the mountain ranges which extend across Scotland from the German Ocean, at the mutual border of Haddington and Berwick shires, through the south-eastern wing of Edinburghshire, Selkirkshire, Peeblesshire, the S of Lanarkshire, the NW of Dumfriesshire, the SE wing of Kyle, and the N of Kirkcudbrightshire, to the Firth of Clyde and the North Channel, along the whole seaboard of Carrick. These mountains are frequently designated the Southern Highlands of Scotland. Many of their summits around the sources of the rivers Tweed, Annan, and Clyde have altitudes of from 2000 to 2764 feet above the level of the sea; and their chief summits within Carrick have altitudes of from 1000 to 2520 feet; the latter being the height of Shalloch on Minnoch in Barr parish, the loftiest summit of Ayrshire. Keirs Hill, 4¼ miles WNW of Dalmellington, is 1005 feet high; Dersalloch Hill, 2 miles S of Keirs Hill, 1179 feet; Strawarren Fell, 6 miles E by S of Ballantrae, 1040 feet; Altimeg Hill, 4 miles SSE of Ballantrae, 1270 feet; and Beneraid, nearly midway between Altimeg Hill and Strawarren Fell, 1435 feet. Most of Carrick is bleak and moorish; but many parts have rich scenery, ranging from the beautiful to the romantic or the wild.

The climate of Ayrshire generally resembles that of the other western parts of Scotland. The winds blow from the SW for more than two-thirds of the year; the rains are often copious, and sometimes of long duration. The principal streams, besides the Irvine, the Ayr, and the Doon, are the Garnock, in W of Cunninghame, receiving the Rye, the Caaf, the Dusk, and the Lugton, and running to the Irvine, at the Irvine's mouth; the Annick, in the E centre of Cunninghame, running to the Irvine, 2½ miles E of Irvine town; the Kilmarnock, in the E of Cunninghame, formed by the confluence of the Fenwick and the Craufurdland, and running to the Irvine at Kilmarnock town; the Cessnock, in the N of Kyle, running to the Irvine 2 miles W of Galston; the Greenock, the Garpel, and the Lugar in the E of Kyle, running to the Ayr; the Nith, in the SE of Kyle, receiving the Afton, and running into Dumfriesshire; the Girvan, in the N of Carrick, running to the Firth of Clyde at Girvan town; and the Stinchar, in the S of Carrick, receiving the Duisk, and running to the Firth of Clyde at Ballantrae. The chief lake is Loch Doon, on the boundary with Kirkcudbrightshire. Other lakes are Kilbirnie, on the northern border of Cunninghame; Dornal, on the boundary with Wigtownshire; several small lakes in the interior of Cunninghame and Kyle; Bogton, on the boundary between Kyle and Carrick, near Dalmellington; and Finlas, Bradan, Lin fern, Riecawr, and Macaterick in the SE of Carrick. Two streams of uncommon magnitude are in Maybole parish, and springs of excellent water, copious and perennial, are in most parts. Mineral springs, some chalybeate, some sulphurous, are in almost every parish; but none of them possesses any special excellence. Erupted rocks, of various kinds, form considerable masses in Carrick, and some lesser masses, together with dykes, in the higher parts of Kyle and Cunninghame. Silurian rocks, often on a basis of clay slate, predominate in Carrick and in the SE of Kyle. Carboniferous rocks, including coal, sandstone, limestone, and in some parts ironstone, underlie the valley of Girvan and great part of the low tracts of all Kyle and Cunninghame. Bituminous coal is mined at Dalry, Kilwinning, Stevenston, Riccarton, Galston, Muirkirk, St Quivox, Coylton, and other places. Blind coal, akin in character to anthracite, is also largely mined. Cannel coal of excellent quality occurs at Bedlarhill, near Kilbirnie, and at Adamton, near Tarbolton. Ayrshire, after Lanarkshire, is the chief mining county of Scotland, its coal-mining alone employing 12,972 persons in June 1881. In 187 8, it had 104 collieries at work, whose total output amounted to 3,184,429 tons. Of these collieries 26 belonged to the Irvine-Kilwinning-Dalry district in the NW, 32 to the Kilmarnock-Galston district in the N, 25 to the Cumnock-Muirkirk district in the E, and 21 to the Ayr Dalmellington-Girvan district in the S. In Muirkirk parish, in the extreme NE, is an iron mine that in 18 7 8 yielded 7567 tons of hæmatite ore; and from the coal measures more ironstone is raised than in any other county of Scotland, -viz., 947,636 tons in 1879, when the Ayrshire output of fireclay was 61,938, of oil shales 12,754 tons. Limestone is largely worked, and sandstone quarried, in many places. Millstones are quarried near Kilbride, and a species of fire-stone near Auchinleck. Clay, of quality suitable for tiles and bricks, is extensively worked. Copper ore and lead ore have been mined; the latter to a considerable extent at Daleagles in New Cumnock. Gold is said to have been dug somewhere in the county, by an Englishman, about the year 1700. Antimony and molybdena have been found in Stair parish. A few specimens of agates, porphyries, and calcareous petrifactions are got in the Carrick hills. The soils may be classified into mossy and moorish, sandy or light, and clayey or argillaceous. Chalmers, assuming the entire acreage to be 665,600, assigns to the mossy and moorish soils 283,530 acres, to the sandy or light soils 120,110 acres, and to the clayey or argillaceous soils 261,960 acres. Aiton, assuming the entire acreage to be 814,600, assigns to the mossy and moorish soils 347,000 acres, to the sandy or light soils 147, 000 acres, and to the clayey or argillaceous soils 320,000 acres. Aiton also assigns 54,000 acres of the mossy and moorish soils, 16,000 of the sandy or light soils, and 135,000 of the clayey or argillaceous soils to Cunninghame; 93,000 of the mossy and moorish soils, 41,000 of the sandy or light soils, and 175,600 of the clayey or argillaceous soils to Kyle; and 200,000 of the mossy and moorish soils, 90,000 of the sandy or light soils, and 10,000 of the clayey or argillaceous soils to Carrick. Much of what is classed as clayey or argillaceous is really loam; and part of that is of alluvial formation on the banks of streams or in the low level parts of valleys; part also is natural clay, worked into loamy condition by the arts of improved agriculture; and much more is naturally light soil, worked into loam by admixtures with it of clay, lime, and various manures. Agriculture, in all departments, has undergone vast improvement. Reclamation of waste lands, particularly of moors and mosses, has been effected to a great extent, so as to bring under the plough, not only a large aggregate of ground which lay waste till the beginning of the present century, but also to affect materially the relative proportions of the different kinds of soils since the time when Chalmers and Aiton wrote. Furrow-draining was begun with the use of merely small stones; but it soon went on so vigorously and extensively as to require the use of many millions of tiles, and it speedily resulted in rendering multitudes of fields productive of double the previous quantities of grain. The rotation of crops, the selecting of manures, the adapting of seed to soil, the adjusting of connection between the arable and the pastoral husbandries, the choice of improved implements, and most of the other arts of effective cultivation, have had corresponding attention, and been correspondingly successful. The improvement, since the middle or even the end of last century, has been wonderful. Agriculture throughout the county, at no very remote date, was in a miserable condition; wheat was seldom seen, beyond the limits of a nobleman's farm, prior to the year 1785; turnips were not introduced till about the middle of last century, and then by the Earls of Eglinton and Loudoun; rye grass, though a native plant, remained unnoticed till about 1760, and did not come into general use till 1775; animal food, till a comparatively late date, was only an occasional luxury of the middle classes, and a thing almost unattainable by the peasantry; and the entire estates of some of the landlords, even into the present century, were so sparsely productive as to be scarcely or not at all sufficient for the maintenance of their own families. But now the county, viewed as a whole, is agriculturally rich, not only for the liberal sustenance of its own population, but also for the purposes of a large export trade. Even so long ago as 1837 a writer in the New Statistical Account could say respecting it-'During the last few years, the farmers have in general devoted much of their attention to the study of agriculture as a practical science; and erroneous processes in the cultivation of the soil, which antiquated prejudice or inveterate custom had long retained, are gradually becoming obsolete; while useful improvements and discoveries are eagerly substituted in their place. Farmers' societies have done much to introduce a more enlightened mode of husbandry than formerly prevailed. This has been greatly aided also by the example of many of the landed proprietors, who themselves farm on a large scale. 'This progress is markedly shown by the tables given in our Introduction. The gardens, orchards, and pleasure grounds, on account of both their extent and their tastefulness, have long challenged general admiration. The planting of trees, throughout the low tracts and in some of the higher grounds, has been sufficiently extensive to give the country both a sheltered and an embellished aspect; yet often has been done in an injudicious way, both by the crowding of trees into narrow belts or choking clumps, and by a too predominant selection of the Scottish pine. About one thirty-third of the entire area is under wood.

Sheep, of various breeds, receive some attention in the lowland districts; and sheep, chiefly of the black-faced breed, are objects of general care on the upland pastures. But cattle, specially dairy cows, throughout most of the county, are so pre-eminently cared for as to occasion comparative neglect of all other kinds of live stock. The Galloway cattle, a well-shaped, hardy, hornless breed, are prevalent in Carrick. The Irish, the Highland, and the Alderney breeds occur in some parts, but are few in number. The Holderness, the wide-horned, the Craven, the Lancashire, and the Leicester breeds have been shown and recommended, but cannot be said to have been introduced. The Ayrshire breed is native to the county, or has come into existence within the county; yet it does not appear to have existed earlier than about the third or fourth decade of last century; and it came into being in some way or under some circumstances which cannot be clearly traced. It is a middle-horn breed, and evidently allied to the North Devon, the Hereford, the Sussex, the Falkland, and the West Highland breeds, or to other descendants of the aboriginal cattle of Great Britain; and it possibly passed slowly into distinctive variety, under the modifying influences of Ayrshire local soil and local climate. It may really, as to nascent distinctive character, have existed long prior to last century; it may have begun to challenge attention only when men began to be agriculturally scientific; and it seems to have acquired development of shape, colour, and other characteristics under crossing with imported individuals of English breeds. Several cows and a bull, thought to have been of the Tees Water breed, or of some other English breed allied to the Tees Water, and all of a high brown and white colour, were brought, in the year 1750, to the Earl of Marchmont's estates in Kyle; and these may have been a source of the colours which now prevail in the Ayrshire breed. But however this breed originated, it was fully formed about the year 1780, and was then adopted, to the exclusion of every other breed, by the opulent farmers of Dunlop and Stewarton parishes; and it afterwards was adopted, as an exclusive breed, throughout most of the lowland farms of all Cunninghame, Kyle, and Carrick. Nor did it spread merely throughout Ayrshire, but also into Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, and large portions of Stirlingshire, Dumbartonshire, and Linlithgowshire- The best cows vary in weight from 20 to 40 stone, according to the quality or quantity of their food; they are esteemed mainly for the abundance of their milk; and they yield so much as from 10 to 13 or even 14 Scotch pints per day. They were long, and generally considered the most lactiferous cows in Great Britain; but, though not in Ayrshire, yet in some other Scottish counties, and especially in England, they are now regarded as inferior to the shorthorns. The Ayrshires, according to the verdict of the best judges based on comprehensive evidence, ought to be retained as milkers only on cottage holdings, moorside farms, and similar situations; and are far less eligible than the short-horns on any middle-sized or large dairy farm- Short-horned cows are much larger than the Ayrshires, yet do not consume more food in proportion to their size; and they produce more valuable calves, yield larger quantities of milk, require less extent of pasture, are less subject to disease, and occasion less care or labour proportionally to their produce. The beef of the Ayrshires is of good quality, and possesses a good admixture of lean and fat, but makes bad returns to the butcher, and is in no great request. The back of a prime specimen is straight and nearly level, yet has one straight depression at the top of the shoulder, and an evident tendency to another over the loin; the ribs are pretty round; the sides are deep, but show a deficiency in the fulness of the buttocks; the breast is comparatively narrow; the upper surface of the body shows far less breadth at the shoulder than at the hocks, and has a kind of wedge-shaped outline; the length of the body is proportionately greater than the height; the legs are comparatively short; the muzzle is fine; the face is broad but rather short; the eye is complacent; the expression of the face is gentle but dull; the horns are short and turned up; the skin is smooth and thin; the touch is good, yet wants the mellowness which accompanies a thick soft skin; and the colours are red and white like those of the short-horns, but not so rich in the, sometimes mixed with black, and always arranged in blotches and patches which are irregular, seldom circular, and never grizzled. The greater portion of the milk throughout Ayrshire is manufactured into cheese. The best of the cheese bears the name of Dunlop, from the parish where the Ayrshire breed was first systematically appreciated for the dairy; and it has long and steadily been in high demand as an article of export. The bull calves are usually fed for veal; and the heifer calves are kept to renew the stock of cows. Attention to cattle and to the dairy appears to have prevailed from a remote period, for Ortelius wrote in 1573 that 'in Carrick are oxen of large size, whose flesh is tender and sweet and juicy,' and the well-known antiquated couplet runs-

'kyie for a man, Carrick for a cow,
Cunninghame for butter and cheese, and Galloway for woo'.'

The manufactures of Ayrshire are various and important. The yearly value of Scotch carpets woven at Kilmarnock rose from £21,000 in 1791 to £150,000 in 1837, but afterwards fell off to about £100,000. The weaving of Brussels carpets was begun at Kilmarnock in 1857, and has been prosperously conducted on a large scale. The weaving of Scotch carpets, and the spinning of yarns for Brussels carpets, were begun at Ayr in 1832, and employ some 500 persons. The making of woollen bonnets at Kilmarnock, Kilmaurs, and Stewarton employs about 4160 men, women, and children, and turns out goods to the annual value of £146,500. The weaving of winceys, flannels, plaidings, blankets, tweeds, tartans, and some other woollen fabrics, employs about 800 persons in Ayr, Kilmarnock, and Dalrymple. The spinning of woollen yarn employs about 60 persons at Crookedholm, and about 350 at Dalry. Linen was manufactured in Ayrshire more extensively in former years than now. So many as 22 lint-mills were in the county in 1772; but only 3 flax-mills, employing 172 persons, were in it in 1838. The chief localities of the linen manufactures have been Kilbirnie and Beith. The cotton manufacture has failed in some places, as Ayr, but has largely succeeded in other places, as Catrine, Kilbirnie, and Patna. The number of cotton mills within the county in 1838 was 4; and these employed 703 persons. Hand-loom cotton-weaving, chiefly for manufacturers in Glasgow, is largely carried on in Fenwick, Saltcoats, Tarbolton, Maybole, Girvan, and some other towns. The embroidering of muslin employed multitudes of women from about the year 1825; was carried on chiefly in connection with manufacturers in Glasgow, and acquired such excellence at the hands of the Ayrshire workers, that the produce of it became generally known, in both the home and the foreign markets as Ayrshire needlework; but sustained a severe check in 1857, and is not now carried on to so much as half its previous extent. In 1879, out of 42 furnaces built in the shire, 27 were in blast, together producing 276,552 tons of pig-iron. The manufacture of ornamental wooden snuff boxes and other small ornamental wooden articles long employed many persons in Cumnock, Mauchline, and Anchinleck; but has very greatly declined. Calico-printing, bleaching, silk-weaving, hat-making, tanning, shoemaking, machine-making, shipbuilding, and other departments of industry, employ a large number of persons.

The roads from Glasgow to Dumfries and Portpatrick, and from Greenock and Paisley to all the Border counties, pass through Ayrshire; and excellent roads connect all the county's own towns with one another, and with every place of consequence beyond. The main line of the Glasgow and South-Western railway enters Ayrshire near Beith; proceeds by way of Dalry, Kilmarnock, Mauchline, Old Cumnock, and New Cumnock; and passes down the valley of the Nith into Dumfriesshire. A great branch of the same system, originally the southern part of the Glasgow and Ayr railway, leaves the main line near Dalry, and proceeds past Irvine and along the coast to Ayr. Local railways, or branches of the Glasgow and South-Western, go from Ayr to Girvan, from Ayr to Dalmellington, from Ayr to Mauchline, from Troon to Kilmarnock, from Irvine to Busby, from Kilwinning to Ardrossan, from Hurlford to Newmilns, and from Auchinleck to Muirkirk, etc.; and, together with the main lines of the Glasgow and South-Western, form a connected system of communication through great part of the county. The Girvan and Portpatrick Junction railway was authorised in 1865, and opened in 1876. The Greenock and Ayrshire railway, authorised in 1865, and amalgamated with the Glasgow and South-Western in 1872, gives direct communication from all the Ayrshire stations of the Glasgow and South-Western system to Greenock, but has its connection with the system, and all its course, within Renfrewshire. The Greenock and Wemyss Bay railway, opened in 1865, has a short run within the Ayrshire border to Wemyss Bay, and may eventually be prolonged to Largs. The Glasgow and Kilmarnock direct railway, authorised in 1865, and com pleted in 1873, starts from the Glasgow and Neilston branch of the Caledonian system at Crofthead on the southern border of Renfrewshire, sends off a branch to Beith, and goes by way of Stewarton to Kilmarnock. (See Wm. M'Ilraith's History of the Glasgow and South-Western Railway, Glas. 1880.)-The head seaports of Ayrshire are Ayr, Troon, and Ardrossan; and the other chief harbours are Ballantrae, Girvan, Irvine, Saltcoats, and Largs.

The royal burghs are Ayr and Irvine; a parliamentary burgh is Kilmarnock; police burghs are Ardrossan, Cumnock, Galston, and Stewarton; other towns are Beith, Catrine, Dalry, Girvan, Hurlford, Kilbirnie, Kilwinning, Largs, Maybole, Muirkirk, Newmilns, Saltcoats, Stevenston, Troon, Annbank, Auchinleck, Bankhead, Dalmellington, Darvel, Eglinton - Works, Kilmaurs, Lugar, Mauchline, Tarbolton, Waterside, and West Kilbride; and the principal villages are Afton-Bridgend, Alnwick-Lodge, Ballantrae, Barrmill, Bensley, Castle, Colmonell, Common-Dyke, Connel Park, Craigbank, Craigmark, Cronberry, Crosshill, Crosshouse, Dailly, Dalrymple, Den, Dernconner, Doura, Drakemuir, Dreghorn, Dunlop, Elderslie, Fardlehill, Fairlie, Fenwick, Fergushill, Gaswater, Gateside, Glenbuck, Glengarnock, Kirkmichael, Kirkoswald, Langbar, Monkton, New Prestwick, Ochiltree, Overton, Pathhead, Patna, Prestwick, Riddens, Skelmorlie, Sorn, Southfield, Symington, Whitletts, New Cumnock, and Straiton- Some of the principal mansions are Culzean Castle, Dumfries House, Fullarton House, Eglinton Castle, Loudoun Castle, Kelburne House, Brisbane House, Auchinleck House, Killochan Castle, Kilkerran, Blairquhan Castle, Dalquharran Castle, Bargany, Berbeth, Enterkine, Barskimming, Sundrum, Auchencruive, Ballochmyle, Craufurdland, Logan House, Fairlie House, Cambusdoon, Shewalton, Lanfine, Craigie, Anchendrane, Rozelle, Pinmore, Glenapp, Sorn Castle, Milrig, Auchans, Caldwell, Blanefield, Corsehill, Auchenames, Knock Castle, Auchenharvie, Treesbank, Gadgirth, Newfield, Cairnhill, Rowallan Castle, Doonholm, Bourtree Hill, Glenmore House, Mansfield House, Knockdolian, and Swinlees. According to Miscellaneous Statistics of the United Kingdom (1879) 721,947 acres, with total gross estimated rental of £1,121,252, were divided among 9376 landowners; one holding 76,015 acres (rental, £35,839), six together 175,774 (£182,405), nine 134,543 (£89,326), seven 52,592 (£27,729), thirty-nine 116,543 (£126,786), forty-seven 68,573 (£205,299), fifty 34,879 (£55,224), two hundred and two 42,921 (£89,322), one hundred and forty-one 9925 (£23,452), two hundred and fifty-two 5818 (£31,084), five hundred and sixty-nine 1916 (£51,748), and eight thousand and fifty 2251 acres (£202,731) The county is governed (1881) by a lord-lieutenant, a vice-lieutenant, 48 deputy-lieutenants, a sheriff, 2 sheriff-substitutes, and 288 magistrates; and is divided, for administration, into the two districts of Ayr and Kilmarnock. The sheriff court for the Ayr district is held at Ayr on every Tuesday and Thursday during session; the commissary court, on every Thursday; the sheriff small debt court, on every Thursday; the justice of peace court, on every Monday; the quarter sessions, on the first Tuesday of March, the fourth Tuesday of May, the first Tuesday of August, and the third Tuesday of November. The sheriff court for the Kilmarnock district is held at Kilmarnock on every Wednesday and Thursday during session; the sheriff small debt court, on every Thursday; the justice of peace court, on every alternate Monday. Sheriff small debt courts are held also at Irvine in every alternate month, at Beith and Cumnock four times a year, and at Girvan three times a year. The police force, in 1880, exclusive of that in Ayr and Kilmarnock, comprised 120 men, and the salary of the chief constable was £400. The number of persons, in 1879, exclusive of those in Ayr and Kilmarnock, tried at the instance of the police, was 1106; convicted, 1048; committed for trial, 31; and charged but not dealt with, 238. The prison is at Ayr, Kilmarnock having been discontinued in 1880. The committals for crime, in the annual average of 1836-40, were 71; of 1841-45,118; of 1846-50, 178; of 1851-55, 125; of 1856-60, 105; of 186165, 100; of 1864-68, 94; of 1869-73, 83; of 1870-74, 76; of 1875-79, 93. The annual value of real property, in 1815, was £409,983; in 1843, £520,828; in 1865, £876,438; in 1881, £1,257,881,14s. 3d., of which £113,819 was for railways. The amount for lands and messuages, in the last of these years, comprised £381,740 in Kyle, £388,150 in Cunninghame, and £176,261 in Carrick. The county, exclusive of its three burghs, sent one member to parliament prior to the Reform Act of 1867; but it was divided by that into two sections, north and south; and it now sends one member from each of the two sections. The constituency in 1881 of the northern section was 3711; of the southern, 3920. Pop- (1801) 84,207, (1811) 103,839, (1821) 127,299, (1831) 145,055, (1841) 164,356, (1851) 189,858, (1861) 198,971, (1871) 200,809, (1881) 217,504, of whom 106,724 were males and 110,780 females. Houses inhabited (1881) 40,789; vacant, 3654; building, 260.

The registration county takes in part of West Kilbride parish from Buteshire, and parts of Beith and Dunlop from Renfrewshire; comprises 46 entire parishes; and had, in 1881, a population of 217,615. Forty-four of the parishes are assessed, and two unassessed, for the poor; and 35 of them, in three combinations of 13,16, and 6, have poorhouses at respectively Ayr, Kilmarnock, and Maybole- The number of the registered poor, in the year ending 14 May 1880, was 4760; of dependants on these, 3682; of casual poor, 2781; of dependants on these, 2905- The receipts for the poor in that year were £50,712,10s.; the expenditure was £47,424, 9s. 2¼d. The number of pauper lunatics was 475; and the expenditure on their account was £8613,15s. 6d. The percentage of illegitimate births was 8 -5 in 1872, 7 -1 in 1878, and 7.7 in 1879.

With the exception of Ballantrae and Glenapp, in the presbytery of Stranraer and synod of Galloway, and Largs, in the presbytery of Greenock, all the parishes of Ayrshire are in the presbyteries of Ayr and Irvine and synod of Glasgow and Ayr- In 1879 the county had 123 public schools (accommodation, 27,789), 32 nonpublic but State-aided schools (7037), 20 other efficient elementary schools (1816), and 2 higher-class public schools (1070)-in all, 177 schools, with accommodation for only 37,712 children, the number of children of school age being estimated (1878) at 38,607.

The territory now forming Ayrshire was in the 2d century a- d- the southern part of the region of the Damnonii, one of whose towns, 'Vandogara,' is placed by Skene 'on the river Irvine, at London Hill, where there are the remains of a Roman camp, afterwards connected with "Coria" or Carstairs by a Roman road" Two battles are said to have been fought, in early times, in the SW of Kyle, the one between some native tribes and the Romans, the other between two confederacies of states of the natives themselves; but both battles, as to at once their date, their scene, the parties engaged, and the results, are so obscure as scarcely to be matters of history. Even the ancient inhabitants, as to who they were, whether descendants of the Damnonii or immigrants from the regions of some other tribes, from the establishing of the Roman domination onward through many centuries, cannot be historically identified. They seem, on the whole, from such evidence as exists, to have been in some way or other, more purely Celtic than the inhabitants of most of the other low countries betweeen the Grampians and the Tweed. Their descendants, too, down to so late a period as the 16th century, appear to have spoken the Gaelic language, or at least to have understood it. The entire territory, after the withdrawal of the Romans, became part of the kingdom of Strathclyde or Cumbria; but, in the 8th century, Kyle and Cunninghame became subject to the kings of Northumbria. The Saxons, under these kings, seem to have taken a firm grasp of the country, to have revolutionised its customs, and to have indoctrinated it with love of Saxon usages; and they have left in it numerous traces of their presence and power. Alpin, King of the Scoto-Irish, invaded the territory in the 9th century, but was defeated and slain in a battle at Dalmellington- Haco, King of Norway, in the course of his contest for the sovereignty of the Hebrides, made descents upon it in 1263, and suffered overwhelming discomfiture in a famous battle at Largs. The forces of Edward I. of England, in the course of the wars of the succession, made considerable figure in it, particularly in Kyle and in the N of Carrick; and suffered humiliating reverses from Wallace and from Bruce at Ayr, at Turnberry, and particularly at Loudon Hill. The career of Wallace began in the vicinity of Irvine; a signal exploit of his occurred at Ayr; the grand coup for wrenching the territory from the English was struck at Loudon; and the first parliament under Bruce was held at Ayr. The county, as a whole, played a vigorous, an honourable, and a persistent part throughout all the struggle which issued in Scottish independence. Nor was it less distinguished in the subsequent, higher, nobler struggle, from the time of Mary till the time of James VII., for achieving religions liberty. Both Wishart and Knox pursued their labours frequently in it; and many of the leaders of the Covenanting movements against the oppressive policy of Charles II. and James VII., either were natives of its soil, rallying around them multitudes of zealous neighbours, or were strangers welcomed and supported by ready, generous local enthusiasm. Much of the history of the later Covenanters, specially what relates to the antecedents of the fights at Drumclog, at Rullion-Green, and at Airdsmoss, reads almost like a local history of Ayrshire. So conspicuously did the Ayrshire men contend for the rights of conscience, that they became the special object of the savage punishment inflicted by the Government, in 1678, in the letting loose of the wild well-known 'Highland Host.' 'We might from these circumstances,' says Chalmers, ` suppose that the people of Ayrshire would concur zealously in the Revolution of 1688- As one of the western shires, Ayrshire sent its full proportion of armed men to Edinburgh to protect the Convention of Estates. On the 6th of April 1689, the forces that had come from the western counties, having received thanks from the Convention for their seasonable service, immediately departed with their arms to their respective homes. They were offered some gratification; but they would receive none, saying that they came to save and serve their country, not to enrich themselves at the nation's expense. It was at the same time ordered " that the inhabitants of the town of Ayr should be kept together till further orders." On the 14th of May arms were ordered to be given to Lord Bargeny, an Ayrshire baronet. On the 25th of May, in answer to a letter from the Earl of Eglinton, the Convention ordered "that the heritors and fencible men in the shire of Ayr be instantly raised and commanded in conformity to the appointment of the Estates." But of such proofs of the revolutionary principles of Ayrshire enough ! The men of Ayr not only approved of the Revolution, but they drew their swords in support of its establishment and principles. On that memorable occasion not only were the governors changed, but new principles were adopted, and better practices were introduced; and the Ayrshire people were gratified by the abolition of Episcopacy and by the substitution of Presbyterianism.'

Antiquities, of various kinds, are numerous. Cairns, stone circles, and suchlike Caledonian remains are at Sorn, Galston, and other places. Vestiges of a Roman road are in the vicinity of Ayr. Traces of Danish camps are at Dundonald and in the neighbourhood of Ardrossan. Mediæval castles, or remains of them, are at Loch Doon, Turnberry, Dundonald, and Sorn. Fine old monastic ruins are at Crossraguel and Kilwinning; and a ruined church, immortalised by Burns, is at Alloway. The most ancient families are the Auchinlecks, the Boswells, the Boyds, the Cathcarts, the Crawfords, the Cunninghams, the Dalrymples, the Dunlops, the Fullartons, the Kennedys, the Lindsays, the Montgomerys, and the Wallaces. The oldest peerage connected with the county is the Earldom of Carrick, which belonged to Bruce, and belongs now to the Prince of Wales. Other pecrage titles are Baron Kilmaurs, created about 1450, united to the Earldom of Glencairn in 1503, and dormant since 1796; Earl of Eglinton, created in 1508, and conjoined with the title of Baron Ardrossan in the peerage of the United Kingdom in 1806; Earl of Cassillis, created in 1511, and conjoined with the title of Marquis of Ailsa in the peerage of the United Kingdom in 1801; Baron Ochiltree, created in 1543, and dormant since 1675; Earl of Loudoun, created in 1633; Viscount of Ayr, created in 1622, and conjoined since 1633 to the Earldom of Dumfries, and since 1796 to the Marquisate of Bute; Viscount Irvine, created in 1611, and extinct since 1778; Earl of Kilmarnock, created in 1661, and attainted in 1716; and Earl of Dundonald, created in 1669, and united then with the title of Baron Cochrane of Paisley and Ochiltree. Distinguished natives of Ayrshire have been very numerous; the greatest of them has almost given it a new name-the 'Land of Burns.' See Jas. Paterson, History of the County of Ayr (2 vols., 1847-52); Arch. Sturrock, ` Report on the Agriculture of Ayrshire ' in Trans. Highl. and Ag. Soc. (1866); and Thos. Farrall ` On the Ayrshire Breed of Cattle,' in same Transaetions (1876).

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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