Kirkoswald Kirk Session Records
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Ann Nicholson has transcribed the following from Kirkoswald Kirk Session Records. Kirkoswald parish is on the border of Maybole parish to the south. Many of those named in the Kirk sessions had close ties to families in Maybole. The Minute Book of the High Court concerns Janet Bryan from Kilwinning who was indicted on 2 Oct 1860 for child murder and mentions family and neighbours names.

Kirkoswald 30th December 1810 - Kirk Session Record

Kirkoswald 20th January 1812 - Kirk Session Record

Kirkoswald 13th March 1813 - Kirk Session Record

Kirkoswald 11th August 1833

10th August 1834 Communicants

Communicant Roll 1835

Kirkoswald 7th August 1836 - Young Communicants

Minute Book of the High Court of Justiciary - South Circuit

These are also available to download in one zip file.

Hugh Rodger. Session Clerk Question regarding his date of death.


Session met and constituted. Took into there consideration the circumstances of the female child left at the door of James Campbell Innkeeper Kirkoswald on Monday 23rd …….? Or sabbath the 22nd. Cust. where child was at present in the house of Hugh Rodger, two of the members of session repported that ……? had in company with several ? parishioners had made enquiry thro the parishes ……and Girvan but could not find out the unatural mother or person that had laid down the child. The session ……? And take the solemon declaration of said James Campbell and his family and accordingly Ages Neil servant to said James Campbell being called compd and declard that on the night. …… ? about 12 O'clock a ? came to the door which was upealed for five ? at little ……………………… ? her master Jas Campbell rose form his bed and coame into the kitchen when the ……………..with his child and ……………….. James Campbell Innkeeper declared that betwixt Sunday night and Monday morning last having gone to bed about 10'clock that he was awaked with a rapping at the door, that at the same time his servant called to him that there was some person at the door, he immediately rose and put on his trousers that he heard another rap at the door upon which he went and called who was there but none answered that this was about a quarter past 12'clock at the same time he heard the foot of one leaving the door and which he thinks went down the road, he then went to the far side and stood a few minutes that he heard the murmers of a child, and said to his servant that it was like the murmers of a child she and he was not satisfied in his mind and would see what was about the house and immediately went upstairs and shut up the window and looked over it being very dark and stormy, and he saw a white thing at the door and at the same time heard the murmors of a child, he immediately shut the window and came to the stair head and called down to his servant that he thought there was a child lying at the door and desired her to go and lift it and bring it in. he then went back to the window and looked over again and saw his servant Agnes Neil take up the child that he saw no other person at the time he called to his servant till she had taken up the child that he remained a few minutes as the window after the child was taken up and the reason why he did not alarm the neighbours that he was afraid that he might be murdered if he went out that upon his return to the kitchen he found his servant with the child on her knee warming its feet at the fire. That is that the child had on a nuglen sark a flenel barell a small piece of flennel at is body a ? of the same and a large piece rolled up in, on its head was two mutches of the same cambreck muslin and a flenel hood, that the saw no money paper of any thing else about the child but a little thyme which he understood was in the boson that he understood that there was two men and a women in his house that night, but as he only saw them raping the house door he could not give an marks of them only he observed one of them had on a jacket and trousers. Further that he has not ground of suspision either who left the child at his door or the mother of it, that the child was a little sore on one cheek as if rubbed with the carrying but from the cleaness of its cloes thinks that it had not been carried far. All which he declares to be the truth signed James Campbell Comp Janet M'Clymont servant with the above Jas Campbell and being examined as to her knowledge of the above child she agreed in every particular with the foresaid declaration and could add no more information….. Com Margt Neilson a widow woman and declared that she had examined the child and that it was a female child and appeared not to be many days old and that it was neatly swaddled up and done by a person if some experience The session in the meantime appoint that the child be taken from Janet Rodger and given to a proper nurse as soon as one can be procured and that all diligent search be made to find out the natural mother and if not soon found that the child be baptised and the members of the session should act as sponsers ses closed with prayer.


David McCubbin Session Clerk produced the session list of the population of Kirkoswald, taken by him adding scholr by order of the sheriff and conform to act of parliament which list was taken on 27th June 1811 and which follows viz.

Inhabited houses in the parish of Kirkoswald 310

Uninhabited houses    14
Houses and buildings    2
No of families in the parish    338
Families employed in agriculture    184
Families employed in trades    79
Families having no fixed employment    75
No of males in the parish    785
No of females in the parish    903
Total Poplulation of the parish    1,688

The session order the above list to be recorded in the book of records of session for preservation in the book of records of the session for preservation conform to act of parliament.



We the under subscribers taking into our consideration that it would be advisable to raise a fund by subscription to be applied for reducing the price of oatmeal to poor householders within this parish. That the Heritors, tenants and other respectable inhabitants should be required to join in the subscription and when the same is closed that the fund be put into the hands of a committee to lay out in the purchase of meal and who should also direct the distribution of it in quantities of not more than two pecks in a fourtnight to any one family till towards the next harvest, when the committee may increase the quantity if they see the funds will admit of it. The committee to consist of the Minister the members of the Kirk Session, and William Fergusson of Littleton, John MCCroll Kirkoswald, William Caldwell in Morriston, John Niven Balochneil, John Rodger Dalwhat, Jean Niven Belchusten?, Alexr Kennedy SMains, David Law Drumbain, Thos Fulton Jameston and David McCubbin Schoolr to be Clerk.

Name of subscribers of meal gratis

Boll Fer p
Revd Mr James Inglis Kirkoswald    1   2   -   pd
James Fergusson of Littleton    1   2   -   pd
William Caldwell in Morriston    1   2   -   pd
John McCroll Kirkoswald    1   -   -   pd
David Law Drumbain    1   -   -   pd
Mr Caddel of Ladybank    1   1   2   pd
David White Turnberry    1   -   -   pd
John Niven Ballochneil    -   1   1   pd
Alexr H--vion ? Howshear    -   1   1   pd

In all  

 1   1   -   Distd by Com
Names of subscribers at 1/- per peck
David Ramsay in Downhill………………………….    1   -   -   Distd by
John Crawford in Airds ……………………………..    -   2   -   ?
George Samson in Glenshalloch ……………………    -   1   -   to poor in
Quinten Fergusson Carrkalloch …………………….  -   -   2   Kirksowald ?
 1   3   2
Names of subscribers of Money  £  s  d
John McKelvie E Drumbain …………………….    - 10 6 pd
Alexr Kennedy S. Mains ………………………..    - 10 6 pd
John Murray Drumurkan? ………………………    - 10 - pd
Robert McFadzean S. Thrave …………………..    - 10 6 pd
John McHutcheion Glentice ……………………    - 10 - pd
John Muir Chapeltown ………………………….    - 10 - pd
John Rodger Dalwhat ……………………………    - 10 - pd
William Fergusson Drumdow …………………..    - 10 - pd
James McNab Glentice ………………………….    - 10 - pd
John Caldwell Ballochneil ………………………    -   5 - pd
John Murray Drumoch …………………………..    -   5 - pd
John Cathcart Dallylung …………………………    -   2 6 pd
Robert Wilson Drumbeg …………………………    -  10 - pd
James Crawford Cairnhill ………………………..    -    4 - pd
John Sloan McQuirton …………………………..    -  10 - pd
Mrs McKinnon Park …………………………….    -  10 - pd
Alexr Kay Village. ………………………………    -   5 - pd
Gilbert McCroll Village …………………………    -   8 - pd
John McQuater Caldwelltown …………………...    -   5 - pd
David Dickie Rollinmop……………………….  - 10 6 pd
William Ramsay Mains ………………………….    -  2 6 pd
John Ross Broadshear ……………………………    -  10 - pd
James Eaglesham Markland …………………….    -  10 - pd
Thomas Fullon Jameston ………………………..    2  - - pd
John McLaw ? ………………………..    1  - - pd
William Gray Bogside ………………………….    1  - - pd
David Bodan Douglaston ……………………….    1  1 - pd
Mrs Hamilton Ballochillie ………………………    1  - - pd
Thomas Wright Stepinds ………………………..    -  2 6 pd
Adam Niven Belchurlen ………………………..    1  1 - pd
Alexr McMaster overseer Cullean ……………..    -  5 - pd
Marion McCrindle Servt Cullean ………………    -  1 - pd
John Limont plowman Cullean …………………    -  2 6 pd
John Newcastle plowman Cullean ……………..    -  3 - pd
John Kennedy wright Cullean ………………….    -  3 - pd
Andrew McKinnon ? Cullean …………………    -  3 - pd
John Lochart ? ………………………………….    -  3 - pd
William Reid Servt Cullean ……………………    -  4 - pd
Richd Wallace Servt Cullean …………………..  -  3 - pd
18 1 -
David Newcastle Tradunock? ………………….    - 5 -
James Fullon Glenlice …………………………..     5 -   


 18 6 - 


Kirkoswald 11th August 1833

Wednesday first was appointed the fast day, and the modr having read over the young communicants names to the session, they approved of them and delivered the toll of them to the clerk to be inserted in the records viz.

Margaret Bodon    Bogside    James Douglas    Village
Jean Blane    Carscallean    Mary Merton    Village
James Blane    Carscallean    Martha McMahon    Belvaird
John Ferguson    Carscallean    Alexr McHutchison    Curvuston
David Ramsay    Howshear    James Paton    Fordencallenn
Jean Stevenson    Murray Village    Elizth Campbell    Village
James Graham    Dalwhat    Janet Tait    Durmmuch
Charles Davidson    Glenhead    William McLaw    Ardlochan
Barbara Thomson    Dunnymuch    Rossana Davidson    Pathhead
Margt McFadzean    Ball?    Jane Bodan    Wearynoak
Ann Caldwell    McCartown    Elizth Campbell    Turnberry
Mary Thomson    Dunnymuch    Richd Stewart    Ballochneil
Agnes Murray    Drumhill    Hanah Davidson    Village
Willm Crawford    Stepind   Ann Mayfield   Village
Agnes Blain    Bone    Helen Hanah    Douglaston
James Muir    Bone    James Davidson    Douglaston
Agnes McClatchy    F. Lote?
Hugh Underwood    Traduncohe?
Mary McClatchy    Dowhill


Kirkoswald 10th August 1834

Session being met. & Constituted present the Revd. James Inlgis Modr, John Dick, Robert McMillan, William Herron and John Davidson Elders. The following persons elected by the session and having been duly served with an Elect on sabbath the 27th July last, and no objections having been offered by the congregation, they were ordained elders and their names are this day ordered to be added to the list of session members, namely John McLachlan esq Blair, John Hardy wright Duppal and David Orr merchant Village …. The session concluded with a prayer.

10th August 1834 Communicants

John Davidson    Glenhead    Sarah Ross    Broadshian
Mary McJannet    Village    James Boyle    Village
Jean Findlay    L. Glensure    Robert McCulloch    Croftengee
Mary Ann Hector    Drumrow    James Gilmore    Belchrister
John Brown    Kirkoswald    Margt Gibson    Auchinblain
Peter Murdoch    Kirkoswald    Mary Kennedy    Village
Marion Hendry    Blainfield    John McCall    Culleen garden
Janet McClure    Littleton    Janet Nichol    Village
Matthew McMaster    Village    William McCormech    Croftengee
John Fuller    Dalzellee Farm Dalry    Mary McJanet    Cullean
Janet Eaglesome    Village    John Hendry    Auchinblain
Agnes McFadgean    Dalzellzer    William Dick    Village
Jean Hector    Mauston    Alexr Leggat    Village
Robert Eaglesome    Broadshian    Janet Paton    Barsloan
Ann Merchant    Muirhead    James Leggat    Woodhead


Communicant Roll 1835

James Fulton    Jameston    Anne McJannet    Cullean Entry
William Ross    Sandhouse    Andw Stevenson    Laffenwyne
John Stewart    Bone    Walter Stevenson    Laffenwyne
Hugh Ross    Sandhouse    John Love    Village
Janet Wright    Orchard Hill    Mary Wright    Glenshalloch
Elizth Smith    Hollowshear    Grace Alexander    Glenlon?
James McMillan    Dowhill fm Balantrae    Hugh McReddie?    Ballochilen
Agnes Ferguson    Middlerig    Alexr Bryce    Glencose
Margt Stewart    Hogston    Helen Bodan    Wearymuuh
Sarah Ross    Belvaird    Allan Boyle    Village
Gilbert Cooper    Orhardhill    Alexr Cook    Village fm Kilmore
Agnes Blackwood    Dowhill    Andrew Bryson    Dalzelzie
James Blackwood    Dowhill    James Bryson    Dalzelzie
Thomas Smith    Kirkoswald  
James Gray    Ardlochan  
Jane Ramsay    H Mains  
Peter Caldwell    N Cawston  
Katherine Ramsay    S Mains  


Kirkoswald 7th August 1836

Sess being met and cond present Mr Inglis Modr. John McLachlan, John Davidson, John Dick, David Orr and Robt McMillan elders. They unanimously agreed that Wednesday first be the fit as a day of fasting and prayer and the same to be intimated to the congregation on that afternoon. Closed with a prayer.

Afternoon, the Modr read over to the session the young communicant roll all which being approved the roll was delivered to D McCubbin Sess Clerk to be inserted in the session records which was as follow.

Young Communicants 1836

1. Agnes Mc McIIwraith Burnfoot 28. Thomas Murray Dunnymurk?
2. Quinten Blair Carshallan 29. William Clark Duppall
3. William Ramsay N. Mains 30. Willm Couperwhaite Lagdarry
4. Elizth Walker Village 31. Isabella Guthrie Turnberry
5. Robert Gray Village 32. Catherine Campbell Ballochillie
6. Mary Davidson Dalziellzee 33. Marion Fulton Glentern
7. Robert Smith Drumbain 34. James McMillan Ballochillie
8. Jean Kennedy Howshear 35. James Orr Turnberry
9. Catherine Smith Drumbain 36. Catherine McIIwraith Village
10. Margt Murray Dunnymuch 37. Ann McMurtie Drumbeg
11. Janet Galloway Thorraston 38. Henry Corrie Cullean Farm
12. Elizth Galloway Thomaston 29. John Hannay Wildholm?
13. James Gemmell Greenwills 30. Elizth Spiers Monkland
14. Margt Gemmell Greenwills 31. Hugh Roy Dunnymuch
15. John Gordon Wearynock 32. David ………? Glenhead
16. Isobell Gordon Wearynock 33. Grace Gray Village
17. Helen Bodan Douglaston 34. James Tweed Rochram
18. William Murray Blackquarter 35. James Currie Ballochneil


Minute Book of the High Court of Justiciary - South Circuit (JC12/51)

2 October 1860 - Janet Bryan indicted for child murder - pleaded guilty. Sentenced to penal sevitude for 10years. To be detained meantime in the prison at Ayr.

Precognition - Janet Bryan - Child Murder and Concealment of Pregnancy (AD14/60/93)

John Allisonan. Farm servant to James Arthur, aged 14

On Friday 18 March, he was at Dykeneugh moss cutting heather. He saw a woman who came along the road leading to the moss from Kilwinning carrying a basket and umbrella. She went to the field at the end of the planting next to him and round the back of it until she was out of his sight. She remained there for ½ to Ύ of an hour. He also saw Mrs Garven and her daughter come to the moss. The woman left 2 or 3 minutes later. When he went for his dinner, the first went to the place where the woman had been, as he thought something was wrong. He saw a good deal of blood on the ground, some butter and a bloody rag. When he got back for his dinner, he told Isabel Arthur what he has seen and she and Mrs Allan went back with him after dinner and he showed them the place. They told him to search the wood for anything like a child, but he found nothing. He had been shown the accused in prison - she was dressed exactly like the woman had been. She wore a red and black striped petticoat, a grey cloak and a red bonnet. He did no know who she was.

Catherine Frew or Garvan. Wife of James Garven, farmer, Newlands, Parish of Kilwinning, aged 42

She had known Janet Bryan to speak to since Martinmas last when she came to live at Bullerholes not far from her house. Janet Bryan's sister and brother-in-law, Andrew Russel lived at Bullerholes. (Note : later this appears as Burrelholes)

Near to one o'clock on the 18 May, she was going to the peat field at the end of the plantation that runs along the side of the wood. At the end of the wood, she saw a basket with 2 lids and a handle and a dark coloured umbrella lying on the grass. Her daughter, Catherine was with her. They saw a woman at the side of the hedge next to the wood wearing a red bonnet and grey cloak. Her gown was up below her cloak, but she saw a red and dark striped petticoat. They went to the peat field, but kept watching the woman. They saw her shake her clothes, lift the basket and umbrella and go along the road. Next morning on their way to the moss, they went to the spot where she had been, but before that they told Isabel Arthur and John Allison what had happened the day before. Isabel Arthur said her aunt had to the spot and was sure a child had been born there. They went together to the spot and noticed the blood and butter and were satisfied that a child had been born. The woman had likely gone into labour before leaving Bullerholes which was 10 minutes away and had taken butter with her to assist her in delivery. She had not seen the woman's face, but had heard that Janet Bryan was in the family way and so went to Bullerholes next day and saw Mrs Watson and asked if she had seen Janet Bryan going away. She said she had and described her clothes. They matched those of the woman she had seen. When she saw her in prison she was wearing the same clothes and she also recognised the basket and umbrella.

30 May 1860 - Catherine Garven. Daughter of James Garven confirmed the above

1 June 1860 - Helen Simpson or Allen. Widow farmer residing at Netherthird, parish of Old Cumnock aged 50

She said that Mrs Arthur, Laigmoor was her sister and she went to stay with her on Thursday the 17 may and stayed till Friday. She reiterated what had happened on the Friday at one o'clock, when John Allison came for his dinner.

30 May 1860 - Sarah Bryan or Russel. Wife of Andrew Russel, residing at Burrelholes (sic) parish of Kilwinning aged 29

She stated that Janet Bryan was her sister and that she had lived with them since Martinmas to about the 10 January when she had gone to Newton Stewart to work in the Galloway Arms Inn. She came back 2 months later and lived with them

On the 18 May, she left home in the forenoon at about 10 or 11 and said she was going to Doura to see Elizabeth Milligan and had on a green dress, grey cloak, red satin bonnet and carried a basket with two lids and a green umbrella. She said if her cousin asked her to stay the night she would. She did not return until Monday forenoon. She said she had come from her uncle's William Milligan at Loans. She did not say that she had given birth to children. She had never told her she was in the family way. She and her cousin had been suspicious about though, as they had noticed a difference in her and that she had not had her natural illness. Janet was apprehended at her house the following Wednesday. When she returned she had looked paler (presumably on Monday, 21 May). She had not noticed any butter missing.

30 May - Andrew Russel aged 26 - he was home ill with the cold when Janet Bryan left, but had nothing more to add

1 June - Janet Hope wife of William Watson, quarrier at Bullerholes aged 60 She thought Janet Bryan was in the family way. She had seen her leaving the house, but did not speak to her. She only noticed her red bonnet, but nothing else.

30 May - Elizabeth Milligan, servant to Robert Blair at Doura, parish of Kilwinning aged 23 She was Janet Bryan's cousin. Janet came to her house on Friday the 18 May at 4. She described how she was dressed. She told her that she had turned unwell on the road and showed her the blood on her drawers and stockings. Elizabeth Milligan offered to wash them for her and did so. She told Janet Bryan jokingly that it looked as if she had "a wee ane", but Janet did not reply yes or no. At 8, Janet said she was going to Loans where Elizabeth Milligan's father lived. She had not known that Janet was in the family way

1 June - Jessie Milligan daughter of William Milligan, quarryman at or near Loans, parish of Dundonald aged 22 She said that Janet Bryan came to their house from Burrelholes. She had called at Doura to see her sister. She stayed till Monday and left to go back to Burrelholes. There appeared to be nothing the matter with her - she was in good spirits

24 May - William Hall Police Constable at Kilwinning aged 24 He had been informed by John Frew, labourer at Burrelholes that Janet Bryan was suspected of giving birth to a child in a field in Dykeneuk Farm. He went to the place and searched, but found no sign of the child. Next day, he went to Burrelholes, but Janet Bryan denied having given birth to a child or concealing it. He ordered her to be examined by a doctor and it was then she admitted giving birth to a child. He took her into custody and on the way to Kilwinning, she admitted that she had given birth to twins - a boy and a girl. She agreed to show him where she had buried them. She said they were dead when they were born. At the roadside on the farm of Goldcraig occupied by James heggie, they went through a gate into the plantation. She took him to a small ditch and there covered with grass he found the children, lying on their backs one next to the other. They were lying in water. She said "godsake not to lift them till it was dark". He then took her to Kilwining and returned with a box and lifted the children and washed them in a small burn. The children were handed to Drs haldane and Montgomerie for post mortems. Janet Bryan told him that she had planned to take them to a lodging house in Kilwinning and get them buried, but that she did not have enough money. He noticed a teaspoon of earth in the mouths of both children. It was not the same earth as that in, which they had been found. It was dark brown, whereas the earth in the ditch was yellowish clay. He had removed the earth from their mouths.

John McColvin, shoemaker, Crossbrae, Kilwinning aged 43 He had accompanied William Allan and corroborated the above as did Thomas Brown constable aged 22

1 June - John Campbell Haldane, surgeon He found earth inside the boy, indicating that he has swallowed it. The female appeared to have died in the same way, although appearances were not as clear.

18 June - John Frew, Labourer at Burrelholes aged 40 He had heard a rumour on the 19 May that a child had been born in the field at Dykeneuk

11 August - William Montgomery. Farm Manager, Dykeneuk age 24 - affirmed that he managed the farm

27 August - James Heggie of Goldcraig aged 40 affirmed that he owned his farm

24 May - Declaration by Janet Bryan She said that she was a native to Kirkinner in Wigtownshire, aged 38, unmarried. She resided with Andrew Russel, labourer at Burrelholes. Previously she has resided at Gatehouse of fleet for 18months. On the Friday at midday, she had given birth to two children, a male and female. The female had been born first, but did not breathe. About 20 minutes to ½ and hour later, the boy was born. He breathed. She rolled him up in a cloth, but he did not breathe again. Neither cried. She planned to go to Kilwinning to bury them, but felt weak and the children were heavy and so she put them in a drain and covered them with dry soil. There had been no water in the drain. She denied drowning them or inflicting any violence on them. She then went to her cousin, Elizabeth Milligan and borrowed 2/- from her and went to Kilwinning Station and took the train to Troon and went to see her uncle. William Milligan at Loans. She stayed there till the Monday. Then the police had come and she had taken them to the drain. She had not told anyone she was pregnant.

23 May - the doctors found that she had given birth. There followed a fairly detailed post mortem report, but they found no evidence of violence to the children.

I have been researching my ancestor Hugh Rodger. I keyed in to Kirkoswald - Ayr and found that Ann Nicholson had inserted some Kirkoswald Kirk Sessions which I found Interesting.

While in Ayr last year I went to the Ayr library and asked if they had any information on Hugh Rodger.

This is an extract from an article written by James Muir in the Burns Chronicle and Club Directory No. XV January 1906 which puts a puzzle on to when exactly did Hugh Rodger die.

One Curious discovery I have made with reference to the date of the death of Rodger, which deserves mention here. The tombstone of the Rodgers in the churchyard records his death as having occurred in May, 1797, at the age of seventy-one. If this date be correct, he must have continued acting as Session Clerk for nearly four years after his death, for the last Minute of the Kirk Session inscribed by him in the Minute Book, is dated 3rd. September 1801! The entry of that date, clearly written by Rodger, closes with this statement:-

"Which day Mr. Rodger declared that now he would no longer keep the office of Session Clerk, according to the Minute of the 31st May last and delivered unto the Session this Session Register, and the old Session Register, with the Register of Marriages, Births, Burials, etc." Whatever, therefore, be the exact year of his death, it certainly was not 1797."

The above according to the extract by James Muir.

If the above is right descendants of Hugh Rodger all have the date of death wrong or another Mr. Rodger was doing the honours at that time?

I hope you may find this of interest.

Cathie Cowing