Second Statistical Account of the Parish of Kirkoswald
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Presbytery of Ayr, Synod of Glasgow and Ayr The Rev. James Inglis, Minister

I. - Topography and Natural History

Name.- This parish takes its name from Oswald, a Northumbrian king of the Heptarchy, who built a church on the site of the burying ground beside the village - in gratitude, it is said, for a victory he had there obtained.

Situation, Erection, Extent, &c.- The parish is situate in that district of Ayrshire called Carrick. Prior to 1652, it was of considerably larger extent than at present. At that time, the parish of Barr was disjoined from Girvan, Dailly, and Colmonell. The sea-coast of the parish from north to south is six English miles in extent; the greater part of which is a sandy beach, with a beautiful and rich carpet of grass, to the very sea-mark. From every part of this coast, there is a beautiful prospect of the Firth of Clyde, land-locked, as it were, on all sides, by the coast of Cunningham, island of Bute, island of Arran, Kintyre, the coast of Ireland, and the Ayrshire coast. What adds to the beauty and grandeur of the prospect, is the noble rock of Ailsa, in the middle of the Firth.

Surface, Soil, &c.- The surface is hilly; but the hills, except in two places, called Mochrum and Craigdow, never rise to any considerable height. Near Mochrum, there is a loch which covers twenty-four Scots acres, and a another, apparently as large, near Craigdow. From these lochs, and from numberless springs which rise out of every hill, flow many small streams, which wander through the parish, and afford abundance of pure water. Except the very tops of Mochrum and Craigdow, and several tracts of moss the whole parish is arable.

There is little or no natural wood in the parish. But the want of this is happily supplied by the plantations made by the Earl of Cassillis and Sir Charles Fergusson of Kilkerran.

II - Civil History

Antiquities. - Upon a small promontory on the barony of Turnberry, now the property of the Earl of Cassillis, are the ruins of the famous castle of Turnberry, the seat of the Earls of Carrick. When or by whom it was built is altogether uncertain. Authentic history, however, informs us, that in 1724, Martha, Countess of Carrick, lived in this her castle, and was that year married to Robert Bruce, Earl of Annandale. From this marriage sprung the kings of Scotland, and the race of Stewart. In 1306, Turnberry was held by an English garrison, under Earl Percy; and some years after this, we find that King Robert Bruce stormed the castle, still in possession of the English, routed and expelled the garrison, but at the expense of the destruction of the building. After this, we do not hear of its being inhabited.

The next remarkable old building in the parish, is the Abbey of Crossraguel, founded by Duncan, King of Scotland, in 1260, situated two miles east from the village, It is more entire than any other abbey in the west of Scotland. The side walls of the church and choir still remain to the height of fourteen feet. It has been exceedingly well lighted within. Towards the east remains the niche where the principal altar stood. On the right of this is the vestry, and the Abbot's ecclesiastical court, all entire, and arched very much in the style of the cathedral at Glasgow. There are besides, several vaults and cells, all built of fine hewn-stone. At the east end of the abbey, stand the ruins of the Abbot's first house. On the west end of the abbey, stands the last house the Abbot inhabited. The whole building stands in the middle of eight acres of ground, commonly called the Abbot's yard, or precinct of Crossraguel. This ruin is preserved with great care and attention.

The next old building in the parish, is the house or castle of Thomaston, about half a-mile to the south-east of Culzean. Tradition tells us, that it was built by a nephew of Robert Bruce in the year 1335. It has been exceedingly strong, and of very considerable extent. It was inhabited fifty years ago, and is now the property of the Earl of Cassillis.

Of the more modern buildings in this parish, the most remarkable is Culzean castle, founded by David, late Earl of Cassillis, in the year 1777. This noble edifice is situated upon a rock, projecting a little into the sea, of about 100 feet in height from the surface of the water, and almost perpendicular. The style of the architecture, and the execution of the work, are singularly elegant. At a proper distance from the castle, stand the stables and farm-houses. The castle commands a delightful prospect of the whole Firth of Clyde, with a full view of the rock of Ailsa. On the land side, and immediately below the castle, are the gardens belonging to the old house of Culzean, formed out of rock, at a great expense, into three terraces; upon the walls of which are planted some of the rarest and most delicate shrubs and trees, seldom found growing in the open air. The remainder of the old gardens is formed into pleasure-ground and gravel walks, kept with great care. Round the castle, and adjoining buildings, lies an extensive policy of about 700 acres, interspersed with many thriving plantations.

Near to the castle, and immediately under some of the buildings, are the coves or caves of Culzean. These are six in number. Of the three towards the west, the largest has its entry as low as high-water mark; the roof is about 50 feet high; it extends inwards about 200 feet, and varies in breadth. It communicates with the other two, which are both considerably less, but of much the same irregular form. Towards the east, are the other three coves, which likewise communicate with each other. They are nearly the same height and figure with the former; but their extent has bot been precisely ascertained. (Old Stat. Account)

In the interior of the parish, there are very distinct remains of a Druidical circle. Stone-coffins have been dug up, and found to contain curios ornaments, some of which are in the possession of the minister of the parish. Some years ago, a very curios spear was discovered in a moss. On the shore, there is a vitrified fort, which will reward the curiosity of the visitor.

This parish is a good deal connected with the Life and works of the poet Burns. In the summer of 1788, he attended school in the village of Kirkoswald, where he seems to have been place in consequence of his mother's connection with the parish, she being the daughter of Gilbert Brown, tenant in Craigenton. While residing at Ballochneil, in this neighbourhood of the village, he was not far distant from the farm of Shanter, the occupied by some of the characters whom he afterwards introduced into his tale of Tam o' Shanter. The hero of this tale was Douglas Graham designed on his tombstone in the churchyard beside the village by his fictitious name.

Parochial Registers. - There are registers of births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths, all regularly kept.

Land-owners.- The following is a list of land-owners of the parish, with their respective valuations.

Marquis of Ailsa   1,2816 9 9
Sir Charles Fergusson, Bart   606 10 1
Sir Seymour Blane   124 11 11
G. M. Torrance, Esq. of Threave   112 11 0
Duchesse de Coigny   25 0 0
William Nisbet, Esq. of Ladybank   66 13 4
Dr. Paterson of Littleton   40 0 0
Mr Eaton }      
Dr Nimmo's Heirs } 80 8 0
John M'Lachlan, Esq., of Blair   31 13 11

III - Population

Amount of population in 1801     1679
  1811     1689
  1821     1847
  1831     1951
  1841     2030

In villages at present 344

In country at present 1681

Number of illegitimate births during the last three years 18

IV - Industry

The following table shows the amount of land in the parish in the different states of arable and pasture, and its value:

Name of Tot. ac. Scot. ac. Scot. ac. Scot. ac.   Rental Av. arb.&c   Av. pas. &c
Estates Scots Arable in pas. un wood     per acre   per acre
Culzean 7244 4700 300 2244   L.7125 30s   5s
Kilkerran 1803 1012 119 673   1024 19s 6d 5s
Threave 474 423 46 4   305 13s 10d 5s
Auchenblane 350 350       230 13s 1d  
Blanefield 369 254 56 60   490 27s 6d 5s
Ladybank 240 240       171 14s 3d  
Littleton 275 239   86   160 13s 5d  
Blair 244 214   30   125 11s 2d  
  10999 7432 521 3047   L.9630      

General average of arable land per acre, L.1. 5s 11d

General average of pasture land per acre 5s

Manufacturers. - The only manufacture in this parish is of tiles; for which purpose there are three works, which produce about 1,000,000 yearly, sufficient to drain upwards of 300 Scotch acres annually. Part of the tiles, however, are carried out of the parish.

A few cotton weavers, scattered over the parish, are supplied with webs from Maybole and Girvan and Glasgow; also a number of females are supplied with flowering webs from the same quarters.

Agriculture. - About a fourth less wheat is sown now than was done a few years ago; although along the coast, the quantity is still kept up, and of as good quality as any in the west country. The land is generally very well cultivated. A few beans are grown on two or three farms, well adapted for them, and may occupy about fifty or sixty acres yearly. Oats are grown of first quality all over the parish; little or no bear or barley. There are a great many dairies of first quality, the produce principally made into cheese, and generally sold for the Glasgow market. The produce of the cows is generally estimated at from L. 7 to L.10 each, according to the pasture and management; and in a few p laces it goes considerably beyond the latter sum. The chief markets for the parish are at Ayr and Girvan; and immense quantities of potatoes are annually shipped at the latter port, some of the farmers sending off 200 or 300 tons; as also wheat, oatmeal,&c. &c. Draining is going on with great spirit; it is only five or six years since the first tile-work was began; there are about forty men and boys engaged all summer, five or six horses, and a foreman to manage each; a number of both cattle and sheep are fed on turnips for the Ayr and Glasgow markets.

Coal.- The quantity of coal put out yearly at Dalzellowlie coal-work is about 60,000 creels or 1000 tons of 20cwts. each, the average value of which may be about L.1750. The number of persons employed is generally about thirty. It is understood that, about one hundred years ago, the coal there took fire (by accident); but there has been no appearance of active fire, for the last thirty years; and the working is now going on in the place where the fire was last supposed to be, which proves it to be quite extinguished. The seams of coal are five in number, varying from 5 to 18 feet in thickness. Above 30 fathoms below the surface are working at present. The dip and rise of the coal-field is about a foot in three and a-half.

Fishings.- Fishings of salmon, white-fish, and herrings are carried on in the parish to a considerable extent. Value about L.360 per annum.

V - Parochial Economy

Ecclesiastical State.- The whole population, with the exception of five or six Dissenting families, belongs to the Established Church. The stipend, by a recent augmentation, amounts to 17 chalders; the glebe is 4 3/4 imperial acres in extent. The manse was built in 1771, and is in good habitable condition.

Education.- There are six schools in the parish, including one female school kept in the village of Kirkoswald. Salary of the parochial schoolmaster, L.30; average yearly amount of school fees, L.45. The Kilkerran family has endowed one of the schools with accommodations, and a salary of L.12 per annum to the teacher.

Poor.- The average number of poor is 46; and the average allowance to each 1s. per week. The heritors contribute for their behoof about L.110 per annum; and about L.40 per annum is derived from church collections.

February 1842