the centuries of these three languages on the native Celtic, produced the
rich Ayrshire dialect, the power and beauty of which Robert Burns has
demonstrated to the world.
Earliest Buildings —Parish Church
In the eleventh or twelfth century the first buildings were probably
erected on the site of Maybole. The earliest form of this name is "Meybothel".
This appeared in a charter as follows: —
Duncan, the son of Gilbert di Galiveia, gave to God and St. Mary, of
Maelros (Melrose) a certain piece of land in Carric (Carrick) named
Meybothel, 'for the building of a church'".
Duncan was probably the First Earl of Carrick. "Bothel" means marsh land,
and the word therefore probably means "Mary's marsh land". Although little
trace of the church exists, the churchyard can still be seen, at the foot
Duncan was also responsible for building Crossraguel Abbey. It was founded
for Cluniac Monks, as dependency of Paisley Abbey. It was governed by the
rules of the Cistercian Order. These rules were strict and for centuries
rigidly enforced. The Mother Church of this Order in Scotland was the
Monastry at Melrose. The first of these monks to come into Scotland came
from the Abbey of Rievalle in the North Riding of Yorkshire. This Order
embraced a great community in every country in Europe. It was brought to
this island from France, where the Order had been instituted on the
Benedictine principles. The world renowned, highly aromatized and very
sweet liqueur of this name owes its origin to the Benedictine monks of
Fecamp and is possibly the oldest liqueur in the world.
The Abbey was burned by Percy in 1307,
when he left Turnberry Castle, but was rebuilt again in the finest Gothic
style. It was a combination of baronial keep and church and contained a
considerable amount of land.
it became a regality by virtue of the charter granted to the Abbot by King
Robert III. The Abbot was virtually the King of Carrick, having power over
all the people contained in the land lying between the Doon and Stinchar,
and extending inland as far as Loch Doon. He had authority over the
churches in Kirkoswald, Straiton, Dailly, Girvan and Ballantrae. The Abbot
acted as a judge in cases of murder, fire-raising, rape and robbery.
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the King every day for ever and for the souls of all those mentioned in
the charter, at a particular altar in the monastery.
The Cistercians were not only concerned with religion but also with
education, one of their main tasks being the transcription of books in the
days before the invention of printing. Coal mining was also practised in
the fourteenth century.
Although the Abbey was badly damaged during the Reformation, it escaped
lightly compared to some, and is to-day the most complete example in
Scotland, in spite of the ruins having been treated as a quarry up to
the stones being used to build houses. It was inhabited by monks as late
due no doubt to the friendly protection of the Kennedy Family.
The word "Kennedy" is derived from the Celtic "Ceannadach", meaning
headship. Since the thirteenth century this family has dominated the
Carrick was included in Galloway until 1186,
in which year, Duncan on resigning his claim to the lordship of Galloway
was given the Earldom of Carrick. A descendant of his, Neil, Earl of
Carrick, had only one child, Marjory. On his death, because he had no male
heir, the headship of the clan passed to a male relative, Roland of
Carrick, and from him to John Kennedy of Dunure.
Neil's daughter, Marjory, married Robert Bruce, Lord of Annandale and
Cleveland. One of their children, Robert, inherited the title Earl
of Carrick. He was Robert the Bruce, King of Scots.
There are two conflicting explanations of the meeting of Robert and
Marjory. In one, Marjory is said to have lost her husband at the siege of
Acre in Palestine in
Robert Bruce came back from Palestine to break the ill news. He met her
hawking in the grounds of Turnberry Castle, remaining to marry her in 1271.
In the other, to quote from "The History of Ayrshire and Its
Families" by James Paterson: —
"The marriage, which we give in the words of Tytler, was altogether a
this time (1268)
happened an incident of a romantic nature, with which important
consequences were connected. A Scottish knight of high birth—Robert
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son of Robert de Bruce, Lord of Annandale and Cleveland—was
passing on horseback through the domains of Turnberry, which belonged to
Marjory, Countess of Carrick. The lady happened to be at the moment
pursuing the diversion of the chase, surrounded by a retinue of her
squires and damsels. They encountered Bruce. The young Countess was struck
by his noble figure, and courteously entreated him to remain and take the
recreation of hunting. Bruce, who, in those feudal days, knew the danger
of paying too much attention to a ward of the king, declined the
invitation, when he found himself suddenly surrounded by the attendants;
and the lady riding up, seized his bridle, and led off the knight, by
gentle violence, to her castle of Turnberry. Here, after fifteen days'
residence, the adventure concluded as might have been expected. Bruce
married the Countess without the knowledge of the relations of either
party, and before obtaining the king's consent; upon which Alexander
seized her castle of Turnberry and her whole estate. The intercession of
friends, however, and a heavy fine conciliated the mind of the monarch.
Bruce became, in right of his wife. Lord of Carrick: and the son of this
marriage of romantic love was the great Robert Bruce, the restorer of
Kennedy of Dunure extended the influence of his family by acquiring the
lands of Cassillis. The feudal system, under which tenants were
required to perform certain services for their lords in return for the use
of land had been introduced into Carrick three hundred years before. This
system which operated in much of Western Europe from the eleventh to the
sixteenth century was greatly developed after the accession of Edgar, son
of Malcolm Canmore, to the Scottish throne in
He owed his accession mainly to the help of an Anglo-Norman army, and
having lived in England part of his life, and being married to a Saxon, he
had a partiality for the habits of the South. Noted Saxon families came
north to escape from the Norman invader and were later joined by
disgruntled Normans, and many married Celtic heiresses. David
married an English countess, and both the Stewarts and the Bruces of
Annandale and Carrick were Anglo-Norman. Paterson writes:
the great numbers of foreigners settled in the richest districts of the
country, it would appear that the constant wars between Scots, Picts and
Britons, and their domestic feuds had greatly thinned the inhabitants".
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The Feudal System did not, however, bring peace. It provided a new setting
for internal quarrels, mainly between different branches of the Kennedy
family. The dwellings of the powerful men of the time were made to
withstand attack. A good example is Kilhenzie Castle, a typical Feudal
Keep, which belonged to the Kennedys of Bargany in 1429.
Fighting was, however, governed by certain rules. The code of Chivalry was
followed, due in no small measure to the Legends of King Arthur, which
were told and sung from the fifth to the fifteenth century, when some of
them were embodied in the famous book, "Morte D'Arthur".
Unrest and intrigue developed further after the disaster of Flodden, and
the long minority of James V,
when two great factions arose in Scotland, the French Party and the
Chantry Chapel Later Collegium,
At the same time religion was dividing the country. In
when Sir James Kennedy of Dunure built the Chantry Chapel, which is the
oldest surviving building in Maybole, the country was Roman Catholic. This
Chapel, on 18th May, 1441,
became a Collegium, having a corporation of priests, a daily service like
a cathedral, and was the first of its kind in Scotland. Under the High
Altar the Kings of Carrick were buried. It was last used for worship in
when two hundred Kennedys assembled there to worship God in accordance
with the Roman Catholic faith.
The Debate between John Knox and Quentin Kennedy
This took place just after the Reformation, when the Scottish Parliament
enacted that henceforth Scotland was to be a Protestant country
John Knox, who was a follower of the French theologian, John Calvin, much
of whose work is associated with Switzerland, was the principal
propagandist of his views in Scotland. In
John Knox, who had been appointed by the General Assembly to visit the
churches of Carrick, was challenged by Quentin Kennedy, Abbot of
Crossraguel, and uncle of Earl of Cassillis, to a public conference on the
doctrine of the Mass.
The challenge was originally made in Kirkoswald, and Knox proposed to
speak in the Chapel there. The Abbot, fearing a disturbance made a counter
proposal, which resulted in the debate taking place in the house of the
Provost of the Collegium. This house is in the Back Vennel, now known as
"John Knox Street". The debate lasted for three days, and eighty people
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the small room, while others gathered outside Although the result of the
debate was inconclusive, a famine was caused in the town by the influx of
Roasting of the
As always happens in a time of violence and civil strife, outrages are
committed for private gain. Thus in 1570
the Earl of Cassillis, enticed Allan Stewart, Commendator of Crossraguel
to his castle at Dunure. The Earl's object was to obtain certain lands of
Crossraguel for himself. When the Commendator was not willing to oblige he
was roasted in the Black Vault. He first signed the necessary document,
but afterwards refused to ratify it. He was eventually rescued by his
brother-in-law, the Laird of Bargany. The Earl, who had been summoned by
the Privy Council appeared personally before the Regent and the Secret
Council. He was treated extremely leniently, but the incident was the
cause of great feud between Cassillis and Bargany
A few years later, in 1584,
Baltersan Castle was built on the land near Crossraguel. As Crossraguel
fell into decay, the lands around Baltersan were set out in magnificent
splendour. Until two hundred years ago they were covered with fine
orchards, parks and decorative gardens.
Union of the Crowns
on the death of Queen Elizabeth of England, James
King of Scotland and son of Mary, Queen of Scots, became James I of
England. Thus Scotland and England were united under one crown. To
symbolise this, a new flag combining the banners of St Andrew and St
George was fashioned in 1606.
It was called the Union Jack. A Gold Piece issued by James I and
a "Jacobus" valued at 25/- sterling, bore the Latin inscription “I will
make them one nation".
James, and later Laud, attempted to establish the Episcopal Church in
Scotland. An Episcopal Church is governed by Bishops and is the accepted
form in Latin, Greek and Church of England communions.
This Church was,
and still is,
frequently and erroneously referred to as the "English
Church". It is, of course the Scottish
Episcopal Church which was the Established
Church of Scotland from
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Presbyterians in Scotland, strongly resenting the actions of Laud signed a
document known as the National Covenant The signatories undertook to fight
for their religion with all their power They were known as Covenanters,
and Maybole was one of their strongest centres.
an open-air communion was held on Craigdow, and in the following year the
militant Covenanters of Carrick, destined to fight at Bothwell Bridge,
collected at Muster Lea near Gardenrose. In 1681
Donald Cargill preached to a secret and unauthorised gathering, known as a
Conventicle, in a field near Maybole. To mark this field a Memorial,
containing fragments of the original whin boulder which served as a
pulpit, was erected at the side of the field. On it are inscribed the
names of the six Carrick men who were taken prisoner at Bothwell Bridge,
imprisoned in Greyfriars Churchyard, Edinburgh, and drowned off the Moul
Head of Deer-ness in Orkney.
the Act of Union was passed by both Scottish and English Parliaments The
two countries were combined into a United Kingdom, known as Great Britain,
with the Union Jack devised in the reign of James VI
as the National Flag. Paterson writes: —"Much
as they disliked the Union, the Presbyterians disliked still more the
return of the Stuarts and Popery to the throne.
. . . The people of Ayrshire were particularly zealous in the Hanoverian
cause, and furnished both men and money to support the government"
two Jacobite rebellions were defeated, and in
an Act was passed abolishing the power of the Highland Chiefs over the
clans and forbidding them to carry arms, wear the kilt, or play the
bagpipes. Scots were, however, no longer treated as aliens, having the
same trading rights as English people were. Thus trade increased and
hamlets grew into towns Some turned their attention to the soil and others
joined the British Army, with the result that Scottish Regiments quickly
acquired reputations second to none
Gradually the land was enclosed by fences, and became more productive.
Industries were developed, and the British
Empire expanded, due
in no small measure to the energy and genius
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In the middle of the eighteenth century roads as known today were
non-existent. They were merely mud tracks. To-day they are "Macadamised".
John Loudon Macadam was born in Ayr in
and educated at the parish school of Maybole. He was trained as a merchant
by an uncle who had lived for some time in New York. From about
he lived in Carrick as a country gentleman. Then he was appointed an agent
for victualling the navy, and as a result moved to Falmouth. He spent much
of the remainder of his life in the South of England.
It was while working as a road-trustee in Scotland that, after years of
careful study, he initiated the method of making roads of broken stone. He
first published his method of road making in a report to the House of
Commons in 1811,
thereafter writing a treatise of the subject which filled several volumes
and was translated into many languages. In
he was appointed general surveyor of roads in the Bristol district, and
had therefore the chance of applying his theories in practice on a large
scale. His success was immediate, and his method was applied to roads
throughout Great Britain.
he spent two thousand days in studying the conditions of roads, travelled
thirty thousand miles, and spent
of his own money in research.
Parliament repaid his expenses, gave him a grant of
and offered him a knighthood. At his own request this was conferred upon
one of his sons, Sir James Macadam, who assisted him and succeeded him as
a road engineer. He died at Moffat in Dumfriesshire in 1836.
Sir Gilbert Blane, the Physician
A contemporary of Macadam was born at Blanefield, Maybole, in1749. He
became Sir Gilbert Blane, baronet, fellow of the Royal Societies of
London, Edinburgh, Gottingen; of the Imperial Academy of Sciences of St.
Petersburg; and of the Royal Academy of Sciences of Paris; physician to
the fleet in the West Indies, and North America during the American War;
one of the commissioners of sick and wounded seamen; and physician to
Their Majesties King George IV
and King William
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He devoted his long and distinguished life of eighty-two years to the
welfare of the British seamen, for whom he had the highest regard. He was
the author of a number of books and was among the very first to apply
statistical science to the investigation of medical facts and phenomena.
He was instrumental in finding a preventative for scurvy, and a vaccine
for smallpox. In his 81st year he founded, with the approval of the lords
of the Admiralty, gold medals to be conferred on medical officers of naval
ships "who have evinced the most distinguished proof of skill, diligence
and humanity in the exercise of their professional duty", the awards to be
made once in two years.
Lord Rodney wrote of him as follows:
"The gratitude the nation owes Dr Blane, for his care, attention, and
assiduity in preserving the lives of thousands of the fleet I commanded,
prove that care and attention were only wanting, and a physician of great
abilities, to make that climate (the West Indies) as healthy as the
climate of Europe. Britain owes this proof to Dr Blane; for to his
knowledge and attention it was owing, that the English fleet were,
notwithstanding their excessive fatigue and constant service, in condition
always to attack and defeat the common enemy".
Ten years after the birth of Sir Gilbert Blane, "there was a lad born in
Kyle". In 1786,
this young man, Robert Burns by name, came to Maybole to collect payment
for his poems, they were later translated into nearly every language of
the world. The richness of the language which he heard and read was a
great asset to him. Basically it was English, not Scottish. That is, it
was Anglo-Saxon, not Gaelic. Many of the dialect words, which give it
piquancy are commonly found in districts which were once governed by the
ancient, and powerful kingdom of Northumbria, which for hundreds of years
prior to the Norman Conquest, was a great force in Strathclyde.
On this occasion, as on many others, his form of transport was a hardy,
thrifty, weight-carrying pony of the type bred and admired in Carrick.
His friends, including his Kirkoswald schoolmaster, Hugh Rodger,
entertained him in the King's Arms. This inn, was one of the "stages" in
the regular coach service between Stranraer and Glasgow. Maybole is
exactly half way between these two towns, and it is this fact more than
anything which led to its rapid growth in the nineteenth century.
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Weaving flourished in Northern Ireland, and Maybole became a meeting place
for the sellers from Ireland, and the buyers from Glasgow. This resulted
in the course of time in weavers from Northern Ireland settling in
Maybole. Thus weaving as an industry took root. The population in the
Parish of Maybole in
it had risen to
an increase of nearly
Weaving was then a family task. The typical weaver's house had living
quarters upstairs and an earthen floored weaving shop downstairs.
The wife and children concentrated on spinning the wool yarn on the
spinning wheel upstairs.
The town was practically self-supporting,
except for a few commodities such as coal which were unobtainable locally.
The town contained three hotels, twelve public houses, four bakers, eleven
shoemakers, four blacksmiths, thirteen carpenters, three druggists, two
dyers, five butchers, nine drapers, sixteen milliners, one staymaker, one
wig-maker, six doctors, thirteen general merchants, eleven tailors and
sundry trades such as nail-makers and tin-workers. Two coaches ran twice a
week to Ayr, and one coach ran twice a week to Girvan. The "Royal Mail"
from Portpatrick to Glasgow called at the King's Arms
every night at nine o'clock, and a
coach going to Portpatrick from Glasgow, called every night at half-past
Soon after the beginning of the second half of the nineteenth century
weaving declined, due mainly to the development of the power loom.
Its place, as a means of livelihood was taken by manufacturing
agricultural implements, by the development of the boot and shoe trade,
and the tourist trade.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century the normal stock of implements
on a normal sized farm consisted of a wooden plough, a set of harrows, and
a rather crudely shaped grubber. Messrs Jack and Sons and Mr Thomas Hunter
who became famous, far beyond Carrick, for advanced and sound design,
wrought a revolution in implements.
Mr Alex. Jack, the founder of the business still thriving in Maybole, was
born at Galston in 1810.
When his father took a
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lease of Guiltreehill he came to Carrick. Much against his father's wishes
he went to Ayr to learn the trade of joiner and cabinetmaker. He was
persuaded, having served his apprenticeship, to return to the farm, where
he started in a small way as a wood merchant and agricultural implement
maker, in addition to helping on the farm. In 1840
he acquired the sawmill at Auchendrane, and moved to Minishant. This mill
after some years of idleness is again functioning, and obtains its power
from the same source - the Doon. While working at Auchendrane the railway
from Glasgow to Ayr, and later to Dalmellington, was opened. He eagerly
took advantage of the big demand for railway material. Timber being the
most important raw material for this trade, he moved to Maybole, in order
to be in the centre of the plantations. His project was not, however,
universally popular as it was the first occasion on which anyone had
attempted to put steam power in Maybole, and some proprietors at first
refused to sell him land on the grounds that the erection of a chimney
stalk in the town would interfere with the townfolk's laundry work.
he managed to purchase the land, and in November of that year the factory
Boot and Shoe Trade
Sometime about 1850,
Mr Charles Crawford started shoemaking in St. Cuthbert's. Shortly
afterwards he was joined by his nephew from Dalmellington, Mr Robert
Crawford, and his wife's nephew, Mr James Ramsay. In the early years of
the trade it was usual for the workers, many of whom were former weavers,
to take the shoes home to work on them. One of the earliest factories was
the Ladywell. It came into existence due to an accident. In
an old wife called Sarah Carey was destroying the bugs and lice on her
built-in wooden bedstead by scorching them with a candle flame. She
somewhat overdid the treatment, as she not only burned them and her own
house, but all the other weavers' houses in the row. At a result of this
the property came up for sale and Mr John Gray bought it, and the old mill
which sat across the bottom of Ladywell Lane. The outer wall of the old
weavers' cottage now forms part of the Tannery.
Tourist Trade -
when Mr and Mrs Thomas McCubbin look over the King's Arms, it was a small
country inn. They added an upper storey, built a hall and stables, and
bought adjoining property to