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Duxdoxald, Ayrshire

Historical Description

DUNDONALD, a parish, in the district of Kyle, county of Ayr, 5 miles (S. W.) from Kilmarnock; containing, with the former quoad sacra parishes of Fullarton and Troon, 6716 inhabitants, of whom 345 are in the village of Dundonald. This place derives its name from the situation of its ancient castle on the summit of a hill near the village. Here Robert II., King of Scotland, and the first of the Stuarts, occasionally resided till his decease in 1390, and the castle was frequently the residence also of many of his successors, but was, with the lands attached to it, granted by James V. to a descendant of the Wallace family, by whom it was sold in 1638 to Sir William Cochrane, ancestor of the present Earl of Dundonald. In 1726 the lands passed to the Montgomerie family, who are still proprietors; but the site and the remains of the ancient castle, from which his lordship takes his title, are reserved by the earl. The parish is bounded on the north by the river Irvine, and on the west by the Firth of Clyde. It is about eight miles in length, and from five to six in breadth, comprising 11,000 acres, of which about 2500 are waste, and the greater portion of the rest under cultivation. The surface along the seacoast and the banks of the river is nearly level, with some gentle undulations towards the centre, where it rises into hills of moderate elevation, the highest of which, called the Clavin hills, do not exceed 400 feet in height, commanding, however, from their summits a prospect embracing fourteen different counties. With the exception of the Irvine, there are no rivers of any importance in the parish, but springs of excellent water are found in great profusion.

The soil embraces almost every variety, and the arable lands are under excellent cultivation; the crops include oats, barley, potatoes, and turnips. Wheat, for the growth of which the soil is well adapted, was formerly raised in large quantities; but from the moisture of the climate, and the consequent lateness of the harvest, its cultivation was for some years almost abandoned: of late, however, owing to the improved state of husbandry, its growth has been resumed. Considerable tracts of waste land have been reclaimed by tile-draining, first introduced into the parish by the Duke of Portland. In general the farm-buildings are commodious and substantial; the lands are well inclosed, partly with hedge rows and partly with stone dykes, and the more recent improvements in the construction of agricultural implements have been adopted. Much attention is paid to the management of the dairy-farms, and large quantities of the produce are sent to Ayr and Glasgow; the cattle are all of the Ayrshire breed. The annual value of real property in the parish is £23,496. There are still some remains of natural wood, consisting of birch, hazel, and mountain-ash, but none of the trees are remarkable for size: the plantations, though not extensive, are generally in a thriving state. In this parish the principal substrata are freestone and coal. The freestone is quarried at Craiksland and Collennan: that at the former place, which is of fine texture and durable quality, and may be raised in masses of any size, is sent chiefly to Ireland, and a steam-engine for sawing it into slabs has been erected at the quarry. The coal is wrought for the supply of the neighbourhood, and for exportation, at Shewalton, and also at Old Rome, on the lands of Fairlie. At the former it occurs in two seams, of which the lower, at a depth of thirty-five fathoms, is thirty-four inches, and the upper forty-three inches, thick; and at the latter place are four different seams, varying from two feet eight inches to six feet in thickness. The mansion-houses in the parish are, Auchan House, built by the Earl of Dundonald, and now nearly in ruins, the property of Lady Mary Montgomerie, by whose servants it is chiefly inhabited; and Fullarton, Fairlie, Shewalton, Newfield, Hillhouse, and Curreath, which are all handsome and comparatively modern buildings. The village of Dundonald is beautifully situated near the remains of the ancient castle, and has a pleasingly rural aspect. Letters were formerly delivered here by a runner from the Troon office, who passed daily through the village; but Dundonald has now a post of its own. Facility of communication is afforded by the lines of the Glasgow and Ayrshire railway company, by the turnpike road to Dalmellington, and by several other roads which branch off in various directions. A cattle-show is held in May. The village of Shewalton, on the bank of the river Irvine, contains 219; and that of Old Rome, on the same river, to the east, contains 257 inhabitants.

For ECCLESIASTICAL purposes the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Ayr, synod of Glasgow and Ayr. The minister's stipend is about £260, with a manse and glebe, rated at £40 per annum; patron. Lady Mary Montgomerie. Dundonald church, erected in 1803, is a neat structure situated in the village, and containing 630 sittings. Churches have been erected at Fullarton and Troon; and there are places of worship for members of the Free Church at Dundonald and Troon. The parochial school is attended by about eighty children; the master has a salary of £28. 18. 9., with a house and garden, and the fees average £40. There are schools also at Fullarton and Troon, and various Sabbath schools; and a parochial library, established in 1836, and now containing 150 volumes, is supported by subscription. Dr. James McAdam, a native of the parish, bequeathed £1000, of which he appropriated the interest to be distributed in blankets and coal to the poor; and the Misses Campbell of Curreath left £90, to be distributed annually to six persons not receiving parochial relief. The remains of the ancient castle of Dundonald consist of a quadrangular range of buildings, two stories in height, 113 feet in length and forty feet in breadth, and in a greatly dilapidated condition: on the western wall are the arms of the Stuarts, much obliterated. Previously to the Reformation it contained a chapel dedicated to St. Ninian, of which no vestiges are now to be traced. On the farm of Barassie has been found an urn containing calcined bones, and which appeared to be rather of British than Roman character. Upon the heights above the farm of Harpercroft are two ancient camps, the larger of them defended by a circular embankment of earth and stones, inclosing an area of ten acres, having in the centre a similar inclosure of one acre in extent. The construction of these camps is popularly ascribed to the Romans; but it is not with certainty ascertained by whom they were formed.

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