Parish of Kilmaurs

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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1791-99: Kilmaurs
1834-45: Kilmaurs

Kilmaurs, a small town and a parish in Cunninghame district, Ayrshire. The town stands, 200 feet above sea-level, on the right bank of Carmel Water, and has a station on the Glasgow, Barrhead, and Kilmarnock Joint railway, 2¼ miles NNW of Kilmarnock. It sprang from the ancient hamlet of Cunninghame, which took the name of Kilmaurs in the 13th century from a church dedicated either to the Virgin Mary or to a Scottish saint called Maure, who is said to have died in 899, and it occupies a pleasant site on a gentle northward ascent, and chiefly consists of one main street, with some lanes and houses behind. It adjoins an old mansion, the Place, which, long a seat of the Earls of Glencairn, was inhabited in the latter part of last century by the Countess of Eglinton; and a neighbouring farm, Jock's Thorn, contains vestiges of the original or more ancient residence of the Glencairn family, to whom Kilmaurs gave the title of Baron both while they were Earls of Glencairn and for 53 years earlier. In 1527 it was made a burgh of barony at the instance of Cuthbert, Earl of Glencairn, and his son William, Lord Kilmaurs, enjoyed, under its charter, some peculiar privileges which have gradually dwindled away into insignificance; and in connection therewith long figured as a considerable market town and as an influential seat of population, before Kilmarnock had risen into note. It was also distinguished for the manufacture of cutlery, said to have equalled or surpassed the modern produce of Sheffield and Birmingham, and so famous for keenness of edge as to give rise to a provincial proverb, 'As gleg as a Kilmaurs whittle.' Now its inhabitants are for the most part employed in shoe and bonnet factories and in the neighbouring coal and iron mines; and it has a Post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, 2 inns, gasworks, asmall town hall with a steeple, and fairs on the second Wednesday of June o. s. and 11 Nov. The parish church, originally Collegiate for a provost and 6 prebendaries, is said to have been built in 1404, and contains 500 sittings. The Free church was built soon after the Disruption; and the U.P. church, rebuilt in 1864, contains 400 sittings. The burial aisle of the Earls of Glencairn, adjacent to the parish church, was erected by the seventh Earl in 1600, and contains a beautiful but defaced cenotaph of William, ninth Earl, the Lord High Chancellor of Scotland, who in 1664 was buried in St Giles, Edinburgh. Pop. (1851) 1083, (1861) 1174, (1871) 1145, (1881) 1203.

The parish, containing also the villages of Crosshouse and Gatehead, is bounded W and N by Dreghorn, E and SE by Kilmarnock, and S and SW by Dundonald. Its utmost length, from NE to SW, is 6 miles; its utmost breadth is 2 miles; and its area is 5940 acres, of which 401/3 are water. The river Irvine winds 41/8 miles west north westward along all the Dundonald border; Garrier Burn, running 6¼ miles south west ward, and Carmel Water, running 4½ furlongs westward to the Irvine, trace nearly all the boundary with Dreg horn; and, higher up, Carmel Water, coming in from the NW corner of Kilmarnock parish, and here very often called Kilmaurs Water, flows 5 miles south west ward through the interior, cutting it into two nearly equal parts. Sinking at the south western corner to 45 feet above sea level, the surface thence rises gently north eastward to 208 at Fardalehill, 216 near Busbiehead, and 308 at Newland-vantage rounds that command delightful prospects over Cunninghame and Kyle, and across the Firth of Clyde to the Arran and Argyllshire mountains. The rocks are carboniferous; coal and iron are largely worked; and the soil, for the most part, is deep, strong, and of high fertility. Scarcely an acre of land is unproductive; and the beauty of the parish is greatly enhanced by clumps of wood. Agriculture has undergone vast improvement, and the dairy husbandry is eminently excellent. The chief antiquity is Busbie Castle, on the Carmel's right bank, ½ mile NE of Crosshouse. Mansions are Craig, Knockentiber, Thornton, Tour, and Towerhill; and 8 proprietors hold each an annual value of more, 10 of less, than £500. Since 1882 giving o its western half to the q. s. parish of Crosshouse, Kilmaurs is in the presbytery of Irvine and synod of Glasgow and Ayr; the living is North £480. Two public schools, Crosshouse and Irvine Vennel, with respective accommodation for 450 and 290 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 311 and 215, and grants of £262, 17s. and £93, 9s. Valuation (1860) £17,676, (1883) £22,494, 10s., plus £5211 for railways. Pop. (1801) 1288, (1831) 2130, (1861) 3526, (1871) 3449, (1881) 3704, of whom 1653 are in the ecclesiastical parish.—Ord. Sur., sh. 22, 1865.

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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