Parish of Ochiltree

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: Ochiltree
1834-45: Ochiltree

Ochiltree, a village and a parish in Kyle district, Ayrshire. The village stands, 320 feet above sea-level, on the left bank of Lugar Water, at the influx of Burnock rivulet, 1 5/8 mile N of Ochiltree station, 4 miles W of Cumnock, 11½ E of Ayr, and 13 SSE of Kilmarnock. It has lost its former employments of snuffbox-making, cotton-weaving, and the manufacture of reaping-hooks; but it still is a pleasant little place, and has a post office under Cumnock, with money order and savings' bank departments, gasworks, three inns, and a reading-room and library. John Knox here wedded his second wife, a daughter of the ' good Lord Ochiltree '; and here in Nov. 1666, between the rising at Dalry and the battle of Rullion Green, the Covenanters, who had mustered at the Bridge of Doon, were joined by three parties under -Welsh, Guthrie, and Chalmers. At Ochiltree they heard sermon by one of their preachers, marshalled their army, appointed their officers, and held a council of war to examine their condition and prospects, at which they resolved that no further help could be looked for from the south or south-west, but that many adherents would join them in Clydesdale, and that therefore they should straightway march eastward. Pop. (1831) 642, (1861) 709, (1871) 699, (1881) 523. The parish, containing also Sinclairston hamlet, 4¾ miles SW of Ochiltree village, till 1653 included the present parish of Stair. It is bounded NW by Stair, NE by Sorn and Anchinleck, E by Old and New Cumnock, S by Dalmellington, and W by Coylton and Stair (detached). Its utmost length, from N to S, is 8 7/8 miles; its breadth varies between 9 1/3 furlongs and 5 7/8 miles; and its area is 18, 422 acres, of which 94 ¼ are water. Lugar Water winds 4 ¼ miles north-westward along all the north-eastern boundary; the Water of Coyle, at two different points, traces 5 ¼ miles and 9 furlongs of the western boundary; and several rivulets, rising in the interior, run to one or other of these two streams- Belston Loch (2 x 1½ furl.), near Sinclairston, is the largest of four small lakes, two of them artificial. Along the Lugar the surface declines to 280, along the Coyle to 230, feet above sea-level, and thence it rises southward to 497 feet at Killoch, 935 at Auchlin Rig, 1019 at Auchingee Hill, and 1191 at Stannery Knowe. Sandstone is the predominant rock; two coal-pits have been recently opened; and ironstone exists. The soil is mostly a clayey Loam, incumbent on stiff retentive clay; and two-thirds of the entire area are in tillage. a thriving plantation of no great breadth stretches nearly across the parish parallel with the Ayr road; and this, with the plantations of Barskimming, Auchinleck, and Dumfries House, in the adjacent parishes, relieves the landscape from coldness of aspect. Moss of various depths covers a considerable area, both in the uplands and in the low grounds, and frequently expands into flow moss or wet bog. The ancient barony of Ochiltree belonged from the 14th century, or earlier, till the 16th century, to the family of Colville, several of whom figure in history as knights. In 1530 it was exchanged by Sir James Colville with Sir James Hamilton of Finnart, for the barony of East Wemyss in Fife; and in 1534 it was exchanged by its new possessor with Andrew Stewart, third Lord Avondale, for the barony of Avondale in Lanarkshire. In consequence of the latter exchange, Stewart, in 1543, was created Lord Stewart of Ochiltree, a title that became dormant in 1675. The barony, coming into the possession of the first Earl of Dundonald, was granted by him to his second son, Sir John Cochrane; was forfeited by Sir John in 1685, but re-acquired by his son from the Crown in 1686; was purchased from the Cochrane family about 1737 by Governor M'Rae, who left it to Miss Macquire, afterwards Countess of Glencairn; and was re-sold about 1817 in lots to different proprietors. The old castle of Ochiltree stood by the side of the Lugar, on the brow of a high rocky bank, whence arose the name Ochiltree, signifying ' the lofty dwelling-place; ' but nothing of the castle now remains, the whole having been carried away piecemeal for building houses and dykes on the adjoining farms. Another old barony in the parish bears the name of Traboch, signifying ' the dwellingplace of the tribe, ' and is now included in the Auchinleck property. A farm on this estate, called Hoodstone, was tenanted from the 13th till the present century by a family of the name of Hood, descendants, it is said, of the famous English outlaw, Robin Hood. At Auchencloich, in the upland district, are the ruins of an old castle, unknown to either record or tradition. An ancient camp occupied part of the site of the village of Ochiltree; but little or nothing is known respecting it. The Marquis of Bute and the two daughters of the late Lady Boswell of Auchinleck are chief proprietors, 2 others holding each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 7 of between £100 and £500, 3 of from £50 to £100, and 6 of from £20 to £50. Ochiltree is in the presbytery of Ayr and the synod of Glasgow and Ayr; the living is worth £385. The parish church, at the village, was built in 1789, and contains 630 sittings. There is also a Free church; and two public schools, Ochiltree and Sinclairston, with respective accommodation for 177 and 103 children, had (1883) an average attendance of 115 and 59, and grants of £117, 14s. and £66, 6s. Valuation (1860) £11, 949, (1884) £16,343, 2s. 10d., plus £6180 for railway. Pop. (1801) 1308, (1831) 1562, (1861) 1676, (1871) 1656, (1881) 1493.—Ord. Sur., sh. 14, 1863.

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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