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Fenwick, Ayrshire

Historical Description

FENWICK, a parish, in the district of Cunninghame, county of Ayr; including the villages of Kirktown and Upper Fenwick, and containing 2018 inhabitants, of whom 355 are in Upper Fenwick, 4 miles (N. N. E.) from Kilmarnock. This place in ancient times formed part of the parish of Kilmarnock, from which it was separated in the year 1642, and called New Kilmarnock, its present appellation being subsequently derived from Fenwick hill, in the vicinity of the church. The parish is nine miles in length and upwards of six in breadth, and is in figure nearly an oblong. Its surface rises gradually from the south to the north, and reaches an elevation of about 700 feet near the part where the parish joins the Mearns moor. The climate is moist, and rain is very frequent, and the soil to a great extent unproductive, several large tracts consisting of deep moss, which, at many seasons in the year, is impassable without risk of life. The lower division contains most of the population, and the land here produces fair average crops: the higher grounds, bordering on Renfrewshire, are chiefly pastoral, and of excellent quality; the stock grazed upon them is of a good breed, and in superior condition. The process of draining has been for some time attended to, and much land once entirely useless is now under tillage, and affords adequate returns. Limestone is abundant, and is quarried in several places; coal has recently been discovered in much larger quantities than were formerly obtained, and iron has also been found in the same locality in considerable abundance, one bed measuring five feet in thickness. The parish contains several small hamlets; the inhabitants generally dispose of their produce at the markets of Glasgow and Kilmarnock. Coal is procured from the neighbourhood of the latter place, and peat is obtained plentifully from the mosses in the district. An act of parliament was passed in 1847, authorizing the construction of a branch of three miles and a half, to Fenwick, by the Glasgow, Kilmarnock, and Ardrossan railway company. The public road from Glasgow to Kilmarnock and Ayr passes through the parish. The annual value of real property in Fenwick is returned at £9366.

Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Irvine, synod of Glasgow and Ayr, and in the patronage of the Earl of Glasgow. The minister's stipend is £123, of which a part is received from the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe of eight acres, valued at £24 per annum. Fenwick church, seated on the right bank of one of the two streams which intersect the parish, is a plain cruciform structure, built in 1643, and containing between 700 and 800 sittings. There is a place of worship for the United Presbyterian Synod. The parochial school affords instruction in the ordinary branches; the master has a salary of £28, with a good house, built in 1805, a rood of garden, and £20 fees. There is a second school, with an endowment of £10 per annum; and the parish contains a subscription library. The Earl of Glasgow takes the title of Baron Boyle, of Fenwick, from this place.

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