MINISHANT VILLAGE
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Minishant stands by the roadside about 3 miles from Maybole, and is one of the neatest little villages to be found in this district. Its trade is blanket-weaving, of the old Scottish kind, for which purpose there are two factories, one driven by water-power, the other by steam. Culroy burn crosses the road at the end of the village, and a short way further stands a remarkably neat church erected by the late Sir Peter Coats in memory of his wife. In the vestibule facing the entrance door, is a striking figure in marble, from a drawing by Sir Noel Paton, representing the risen Christ, with the following inscription beneath : - This church is built to the glory of God, and in memory of Gloriana Mackenzie, the beloved wife of Sir Peter Coats, Auchendrane. She died 21st April, 1877. Psa. 84. 4." The stained-glass window above contains representations of an Anchor and a Stag’s Head, the emblems respectively of the Coats and the Mackenzie families. Internally, the church is exceedingly neat and comfortable, and is furnished with a fine harmonium. Behind, there is a Reading Room and a Library, with the Church-officer’s house below. 

The church is seated for 300 persons, and is well attended, especially in the summer months.. Before the church was built, evening service was held in the small school by the burnside, which is now demolished, and in which the children, to be out of the way, used to squat on the floor, or sit on the window-sills. But all this is altered now, and the Memorial Church has been found to supply a felt need. The site was granted free by Mr Paterson of Monkwood, whose mansion house adjoins; and the services, since the church was built, have been conducted by eight ministers of the various Presbyterian denominations around. Within the grounds of Monkwood, between forty and fifty years ago, there resided one of those retiring geniuses who are a credit to their country, and whose name should in no wise be forgotten. This was Mr James Smith of Monkwood Grove. He corresponded regularly with Sir William Hooker, and furnished him with much valuable information on botanical subjects, which he incorporated into his works. He now lies in the old churchyard of Ayr, where a suitable monument has been erected, bearing the following inscription: "Erected by his friends and admirers in memory of Mr James Smith, Botanist, Monkwood Grove, who died 1st January, 1848, aged 88 years. This simple monument to the Father of Scottish Botany will direct the many students who profited by his kind gratuitous instructions in the science of Botany, where the tear of fond remembrance may mingle with the dust of a dear and true friend." Mr Smith was merely the tenant of an orchard, so far as worldly business went, but intellectually he was a light to all around on the subject of his favourite science, and was resorted to by gentle and simple in quest of information or advice.*

A short way farther on stands, by the banks of the Doon, the handsome modern mansion of Auchendrane (James Coats, Esq.), erected on the site of the old castle of the Mures. The story of this family connects itself with the slaughter of the Laird of Bargany, already narrated. Bargany being slain, and the king (James VI.) refusing to call my lord of Cassillis to account, it was left to some of the Bargany party to take up the avengement for themselves; and the prime mover in this Vendetta was Mure of Auchendrane. To get at the Earl himself might not be so easy a matter; but iii those days of rough justice it was considered quite sufficient if you could get at a relative.

And so it was resolved that means should be taken to make away with the Earl’s uncle—Thomas, the laird of Culzean— who had been personally present at the fight, and who was considered a chief adviser of his lordship. Now it so happened that this Thomas was preparing to go to Edinburgh on some business, and had sent word to the laird of Auchendrane to that effect. The lad who brought the message was a poor student named Dalrymple, and he was bribed to return, saying that the laird was not at home. Auchendrane now gathered some of the Bargany faction, and made known to them this intended journey of poor Culzean. They resolved to lie in wait for him, and so, as he was riding past St. Leonard’s, near where the present race-course stands, they set upon and slew him, in revenge for the death of their kinsman. Auchendrane now sought to keep Dalrymple out of the way. He sent him to Arran, to the Continent, to several places, but he always turned up on their hands; and so, at last, on the plea that "dead men tell no tales," he decoyed him down to Chapel Donan, near Girvan, and there, with the help of James Bannatyne, one of his retainers, murdered him. But Bannatyne now, in turn, became Auchendrane’s terror, and so he tried to make away with him too. But Bannatyne was too quick for him. He went and delivered himself up to justice, and confessed everything. The result was that Auchendrane and his son were both hanged. This gloomy story has been dramatised by Sir Walter Scott, under the title of "Auchendrane, or the Ayrshire Tragedy."

* Mr Smith was exceedingly sympathetic, an amusing instance of which is thus recorded by Hugh Ainslie in his Pilgrimage to the Land of Burns :—" A brown beech, and one who was a chief among his tribe, had at one time thrown his arms so wantonly abroad, as to shadow and injure considerably several others of a different family that grew within his reach. After deliberating upon the extent of these extending injuries, Mr Smith condemned him to the axe. Taking up his instrument of execution, he went forth to finish his award, but when he came to where the noble spoiler stood, waving away in all his brown majesty, he had not power withal to lift his hand. Evil reports, however, thickening against this vegetable invader, he again sallied forth, and again returned as before. At last, he rushed forth at full speed, that his purpose might not cool, shut his eyes when he drew near, groped his way to the offender’s trunk, and, ere he opened them, gave him a few irreparable gashes; then slowly, with a sigh to each stroke, finished the work of justice."

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