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Ballantrae, Ayrshire

Historical Description

BALLANTRAE, a parish, in the district of Carrick, county of Ayr, 13 miles (S. by W.) from Girvan; containing 1651 inhabitants, of whom 605 are in the village. This place, anciently called Kirkcudbright-Innertig, derived that appellation from the position of its church at the mouth of the river Tig; and, on the removal of the church from the old site to the town of Ballantrae, assumed its present name, which in the Celtic language is descriptive of its situation on the seashore. The parish is bounded on the west by the Irish Sea, and comprises nearly 25,000 acres, of which about 7000 are arable, 400 woodland and plantations, and the remainder rough moorland, affording scanty pasture. Its surface is greatly diversified with hills and dales, and is intersected by a series of four parallel ridges, increasing in elevation as they recede from the shore, and of which the third and highest is distinguished by a hill 1430 feet above the sea, that was selected as one of the stations for carrying on the late trigonometrical survey of this part of the coast. From this point is obtained an extensive and beautiful prospect, embracing the Isle of Man, the north-east coast of Ireland, Cantyre, the isles of Ailsa and Arran, and the Ayrshire coast, terminated by the West Highland mountains in the background; while in another direction appear the Dumfries-shire hills, the Cumberland and Westmorland mountains, and Solway Firth. The coast extends for about ten miles; the shore is bold, and interspersed with rocks, except for about three miles near the village. The principal river is the Stinchar; it rises in the parish of Barr, flows south-west, crosses Colmonell, forms the northern boundary of part of Ballantrae, then runs through it for about three miles, and discharges itself after a course of about thirty miles into the sea. The Tig, rising in the high grounds, after a short course flows into the Stinchar; and the App, a very inconsiderable stream, flows westward, along the picturesque dell of Glen-App, into Loch Ryan. These streams all abound with common and sea trout, par, and occasionally salmon, which last are plentiful in the Stinchar.

The SOIL is chiefly of a light and gravelly quality; near the shore, sandy; and in the level lands, especially near the rivers, a rich and fertile loam. The crops are oats, wheat, bear, potatoes, turnips, and a few acres of beans and peas. Bone-dust has been introduced as manure; the lands have been drained, and other considerable improvements were made under the auspices of the late Stinchar Agricultural Association, which included this parish, where it originated. There are several dairy-farms, all of them well managed, and in the aggregate producing annually about 5000 stone of sweetmilk cheese, under the designation of Dunlop cheese. The annual value of real property in the parish is £7265. The natural woods are very inconsiderable, though, from the number of trees found embedded in the soil, they would appear to have been formerly extensive; they consist mostly of oak, ash, and birch, and on the banks of the Stinchar and the Tig are some valuable trees. The plantations are of comparatively recent formation; they are in a thriving condition, and some which have been laid down in Glen-App, and on the ridge to the north of it, by the Earl of Orkney, promise to become a great ornament in the scenery of the parish.

The VILLAGE, which was once a burgh of barony by charter of James V., is pleasantly situated on the north bank of the river Stinchar, about half a mile from its influx into the sea; a public library is here supported by subscription, and a post-office has been estabhshed. A considerable salmon-fishery is prosecuted at the mouth of the Stinchar: the fish are sent chiefly to the markets of Ayr and Kilmarnock, and the annual produce may be estimated at about £500; the season generally commences in February, and closes in September. The white-fishery is carried on extensively, employing twenty boats, to each of which four men are assigned: the fish are principally cod and turbot, and in some seasons herrings are also taken in abundance; the annual produce may be estimated at about £2000, and the season usually commences in January, and ends in April. A court of petty-session was formerly held in the village every alternate month, at which two of the county magistrates presided. The Glasgow and Stranraer steam-boat calls at this place, and a facility of intercourse is also afforded by excellent roads.

Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Stranraer, synod of Galloway, and in the patronage of the Duchess de Coigny; the minister's stipend is £248. 1. 3., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £15 per annum. The present church, erected in 1819, is a substantial edifice, adapted for a congregation of 600 persons: the former church of Ballantrae, together with a manse, was erected in 1617, at the sole expense of the laird of Bargany. There are still some remains of the original church at Innertig. A place of worship has been erected in connexion with the Free Church. The parochial school is well conducted; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4½., with £16 fees, and a house and garden, and he receives the interest of a bequest of £400 for the instruction of an additional number of poor scholars. The late Mrs. Caddall bequeathed £4500, and fifteen acres of land, for the endowment and erection of a chapel and school in Glen-App, in connexion with the Established Church; the trustees have established the school and selected land for the glebe, and intend to build the chapel, when the funds shall have accumulated sufficiently to provide for the endowment of a minister after defraying the expense of its erection. On a rock near the village, and within the precincts of the parish glebe, are the remains of the ancient castle of Ardstinchar, formerly belonging to the Bargany family.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis