Beith, Ayrshire

Historical Description

BEITH, a parish, chiefly in the district of Cunninghame, county of Ayr, and partly in the Upper ward of the county of Renfrew, 18 miles (W. S. W.) from Glasgow; including the villages of Gateside, Northbar, and Burnhouse, and containing 5795 inhabitants. This place is supposed to have taken its name from a Celtic term signifying "birch ", and many parts of the district are referred to, as still bearing names formed partly with the word icood, such as Roughwood, Woodside, Threepwood, and others. In ancient times the locality consisted of the two great divisions called the barony of Beith, and the lordship of Giffen, the latter being the more extensive, and the two districts being divided from each other by the Powgree, a stream that falls into the Garnock near the south end of Kilbirnie loch. The barony was given in the twelfth century to Kilwinning Abbey by Richard de Moreville, the son and successor of Hugh de Moreville, constable of Scotland, and lord of Cunninghame; and his wife Avicia de Lancaster gave the lands of Beith, Bath, and Threepwood, also to the abbey. This religious establishment erected a chapel here, afterwards the church of Beith, the monks enjoying the tithes and revenues, and finding a curate to do the duty. About the period of the Reformation, the abbot and chapter feued out the lands in the barony for small feu-duties, which, with the other temporalities of the church, passed to Hugh, fifth Earl of Eglinton, who was created lord of erection of the monastery. The lordship of Giffen was given by the family of Moreville to Walter de Mulcaster, the donation comprehending the whole of the lands to the south and west of the Powgree: the ruins of a chapel founded by the monastery of Kilwinning, and dedicated to St. Bridget, are still to be seen on a part of this property.

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