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Maybole, Carrick's Capital Facts, Fiction & Folks by James T. Gray, Alloway Publishing, Ayr. First published 1972. Copyright Permission for display on this site granted by David Gray. You may view and download chapters of this book for personal research purposes only. No other distribution of this text is authorized.

The story of this ancient Ayrshire town from its early beginnings in the 12th century through its growth and development until the nineteen sixties. A fascinating record of the history of a town including a wealth of factual information on its outstanding buildings  growth of industry etc., the book also gives an insight into the life of the community and townsfolk themselves.
Table of Contents


Chapter 8

COUNCIL RECORDS

THE old Council Records do not go back beyond 23rd December 1721, (the older records having been lost in the Sheriff Clerk's Office, Ayr in 1745) but there is much of interest in the minutes from then on. They are sometimes very lengthy and sometimes very terse, depending no doubt on the mood of the clerk and his approval or disapproval of the decisions of his magistrates, which is not uncommon even at the present time.

Before the minutes start to be recorded there is given a detail of the Acts and Statutes pertaining to the Burgh which today seem strange but no doubt were of great importance in early times when full power was vested in the Magistrates and Councillors. It was ordained no inhabitant would wash clothes, etc. in the town wells, give lodgings to "idle or infamous persons" or sell meat or drink to them; no person was to buy more provisions than they required for their own use until the other inhabitants were supplied with their needs; no baker could refuse to bake in his ovens the loaves prepared by the householders themselves; that all goods displayed by traders for sale on market days should firstly be inspected by persons appointed by the Magistrates to examine same and if they were found wanting in any way the trader would be fined, and many other interesting facts which give an insight as to how the town was run by a small community in the early eighteenth century. Many of the bye-laws could be brought back today with benefit to the townspeople and the old fathers of the community showed great practical commonsense in dealing with many things which are now a cause for concern to many ratepayers. The "idle and infamous persons" were then given short shrift as there was no psychologist to plead they were maladjusted Citizens and sellers of inferior ware were immediately brought to book before they could foist their goods on the public.

The first minute of 23rd December, 1721 records that Bailies John McFadzean and Hugh Malcolm and fifteen councillors were present when it was reported that, from the list of councillors submitted to him, the Earl of Cassillis had appointed Hugh Malcolm and Alexander Binning of Machriemore to be Bailies until Michaelmas 1722.

In September 1772 the councillors met and decided to stent rate) the inhabitants of the town in the sum of Sixty Pounds Scots (5 stg.) in respect of payment of the Schoolmaster's salary, the upkeep of the town clock and payment to the bell-ringer for ringing the curfew each night throughout the year at 8 p.m. and also the rising bell at 6 a.m.

In October 1772 the councillors rouped the customs in the Burgh and accepted the offer for same of Forty Two Pounds Scots 3.10/- stg.) by John McGully, Innkeeper in Maybole, and at the same meeting they leased the annual grazing on the Balgreen (Town Green) to Alexander Girvan for Three Pounds Scots (5/- stg.). Councillors Thomas Ronald and Robert Alexander were appointed to visit the markets in the town and to apply fines for any misdemeanours by the traders, and the town officer was instructed to attend them on their visits to protect them against disgruntled traders should the occasion arise, whilst another councillor was instructed to examine the town wells and ensure they were kept clean.

In April 1723 the minutes report the anxiety of the councillors with regard to vandalism in the churchyard and it was decided that a voluntary collection be made in the town for the purpose of raising money to fence the cemetery and churchyard. It would seem that vandalism is not a new problem and was as common two hundred years ago as it is today.

On 6th July 1731 the Magistrates and Councillors met to deliberate on the necessary repairs to the High Street, also the avenues and "inlets" to the town and ordained that "the haill inhabitants come out provided with horses, carts, sleds, spades, shovels, picks, mattocks and other implements as shall be required and work on repairing the streets on six days yearly from six in the morning till six in the evening". Such was the way of dealing with road maintenance two hundred years ago, a practical and simple method where all shared in the upkeep anti over-heads were negligible.

In November 1744 the councillors decided that all public proclamations should be made from the steps of the Town Cross in High Street by "tuck of Drum". A new drum was purchased for the town crier and this was in use until May 1774 when it was broken in "an unseemly brawl" and the town crier was given a handbell to ring before making his proclamations throughout the town. The price of the handbell is recorded at 15/- Sterling and this same handbell was known to be in the Town Chambers at the beginning of this century but unfortunately it has now been lost. Another interesting handbell was in use for many years and was known as the "Deid Bell of Maybole". It was late 17th century and measured 51 inches in diameter, was very roughly cast and had no inscription or marks of any kind on it. It was rung in the streets by a bellman or town crier who intimated a townsman had died and gave the time of the burial should anyone wish to attend the funeral. This bell was an exhibit in the Glasgow Exhibition of 1911 and is now preserved in the Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum at Kelvingrove.

In June 1745 the question of maintaining the streets again was the subject of discussion and the councillors confirmed that the townsfolk were to gather stones and sand for the roads on three days in June and three days after harvest and those who owned horses and carts and did not turn out were to be fined Eighteen Shillings Scots (1/6 Stg.) for each day's absence.

In 1747 heritable jurisdiction was abolished throughout the country and the full control of the town's affairs were vested in the Magistrates and councilors. The Earl of Cassillis received 1,800 as compensation for the loss of his superior rights but continued to claim the right to select the Magistrates for many years afterwards.

The first financial statement shown in the town records is for the two years, Michaelmas 1747 to Michaelmas 1749. The total receipts amounted to 635.11. l0d. Scots (about 53 stg.) made up of sterns, custom duty, malt duty and burgesses fees and the highest charges were 40 for two years' salary to David Doig, Schoolmaster, 60 for three years' accounts to William McClymont for keeping the town clock and ringing the curfew, while 3.12.0d. was paid to Mr. Hamilton, Saddler, for a saddle as a prize at the horse race at the Lammas Fair. It is interesting to note the council was paid 1. 13.0d "for revising the accounts". In the two years detailed the town funds were in credit to the sum of 141.16.l0d. Scots (about 12 stg.) which makes one think when the present day town's accounts are published. It is also an interesting sidelight to note that the clockkeeper and bellringer was on a par with the schoolmaster as regards salary.

The townspeople seem to have been worried about mad dogs roaming the streets in 1753 as in July of that year the councillors made an edict that all dogs be "wormed and muzzled" before 5th July and any person owning a dog and not doing so would be fined Three Pounds Scots (5/- stg.) and any dog found unmuzzled after that date would be killed and the person killing it would be paid the sum of One Shilling Sterling. Three years later in December 1756 the dog problem again cropped up following complaints to sheep being worried by "dougs and biches" and the council decided that no one within the burgh should keep a dog without a special license from the Magistrates and should any dog worry sheep the owner of it would pay Twelve Pounds Scots (1 stg.) in damages to the owner of the sheep. In 1763 the question of dogs roaming loose was again raised in council and once again fines were imposed on the owners of such dogs.

On 26th October, 1758 the council met to consider the proposal that a new church be built on the North West side of the Balgreen, on the site of an old meeting house. The councillor agreed to the proposal on condition that the Heritors of the Parish allowed a council loft to be formed at one end of the church and that the Town be freed of any of the expense of building the church. Much discussion must have taken place between the Heritors and the Councillors as on 4th May, 1759 it is reported that the Heritors had decided to rebuild the church on its present site at the foot of the Kirkwynd and that the Council would not be entitled to a loft, or even part of the seating on the floor of the church, unless they contributed towards the cost of the building. The council nominated three members to meet the Heritors and to stress the absolute importance of the Magistrates and Councillors having a loft of their own in the new kirk and also that part of the area below it be reserved for townspeople. The council agreed to pay part of the cost of the building of the new church, commensurate with the area of the council loft and the townspeople's seating area, on condition that the rents from the townspeople's pews be repaid to the council. If the Heritors did not repay the seat rents the council were to have the right to charge the value of them against the town's revenue. By October, 1761 the church had been rebuilt and the council decided to sell the seats in the ground area to provide the money for their share of the rebuilding costs. These were rouped in January, 1762 and brought in a total of 97.17.6d.

Some councillors of the eighteenth century appear to have been remiss in their attendance to their duties as on 9th June, 1760 a meeting was called for 4 p.m. but it was not until 6 p.m. that sufficient members turned up to form a quorum. The magistrates were extremely indignant and immediately passed a resolution that all members must in future attend all meetings punctually, unless they had a reasonable excuse, and any members turning up late or failing to attend would forfeit one shilling sterling for their lateness or absence, the Magistrates being the sole judges as to whether the excuses were valid or not.

In October 1773 traffic on the High Street had increased to such an extent that it was found the Town Cross was causing an obstruction to coaches and carriages and it was decreed that the Cross be removed and the site marked by a "paved freestone cross formed within a stone circle level with the street and neatly paved with small thin pebbles which the Magistrates and Councillors ordain will be the Cross of the Burgh of Maybole in all time thereafter". The shaft and steps of the cross were broken up but the stone forming the head of it was built into the inner gates of the Castle and is still there. This stone has a moondial on one side, a sundial on another side, the date 1707 and a rampant lion on the third side and the coat of arms of the Earl of Cassillis on the fourth side. The site of the old cross is now marked by an iron cross set in the asphalted roadway midway up the High Street.

The Foul Vennal (now Castle Street) had been a constant worry for years because it was unpaved and had an open drain down the centre of it and in January 1775 the owners of the properties in the Vennal paid 7 sterling to the Council for the purpose of causewaying the street. The work was carried out and shortly afterwards the name was changed from Foul Vennal to Post Vennal because the post vans were stabled in it.

On 16th February 1779 the Council appointed John Duncan as Schoolmaster in succession to David Doig and fixed his salary at Twenty Pounds Scots (1.13.4d.) being the same as the salary paid formerly to Mr. Doig. This salary of 20 Scots per annum was the same in 1779 as was recorded in the financial statement of 1747 and there seemed to be no consideration of a rise in pay for the poor Schoolmaster. It must be taken into account however that the teacher had the right to collect fees from his pupils and had many perquisites which increased his income considerably. 

Sanitation would appear to have been a constant subject of discussion in council as complaints were often raised regarding the townspeople dumping their refuse in the "bystreets and town inlets" and on 26th October 1782 the councillors instructed the towncrier to go round and proclaim that all such refuse be removed within eight days and if this was not done all inhabitants owning horses and carts were to be called on to remove all such refuse. Such dictatorial methods by the council seem strange today but they appear to have been effective as no further complaints on this subject are again recorded.

In November, 1790 the records show that the council built a slaughterhouse in the burgh with cattle yards attached and it was ordained that no cattle should be slaughtered unless in the place provided for such a purpose.

The town's finances must have been in a perilous state in 1791 as on 12th February of that year the Treasurer reported there were no funds available to pay the tradesmen employed in building the market house and they were "very clamorous" for their wages. A loan of 30 stg. to meet such expenditure was raised and the Bailies were taken bound to ensure repayment of same.

The riotous behaviour of some of the townspeople was the subject of a meeting held on 13th August 1792 when complaints were heard by the councillors from some of the steadier Minniebolers that "several inhabitants in the town and suburbs (Kirkland Street, Coral Glen and Dailly Road) gave lodging and entertainment to vagrants and randy beggars who go through the streets blaspheming and cursing and swearing to the disturbance of the inhabitants". The Councillors promptly dealt with this matter by clapping a fine of Two Pounds Scots (3/4d. stg.) on any person giving lodging to such "randy beggars", the person informing on the landlord or landlady guilty of such misdemeanour being paid half the fine collected by the Magistrates. Such a practical solution to a problem might well be enforced today with profit to all.

The European crisis at the end of the eighteenth century when Napoleon was at the zenith of his power seems to have reached out to all corners of the country and on 12th February 1797 the "Magistrates and Councillors of the Burgh of Maybole" held a special meeting to "consider the present crisis of public affairs and to express their loyalty to the Sovereign" (George III). It was resolved to offer His Majesty a Corps of Volunteers from "respectable" inhabitants of the burgh and neighbourhood, consisting of one hundred and fourteen men, to be called "The Loyal Carrick Volunteers", and the Earl of Cassillis was to be asked to take command of the troop "as a mark of attachment to his Lordship for his zeal at all times in promoting the public good". The "Carrick Loyal Volunteers" were duly enlisted from the "respectable" inhabitants of the district of whom seventy seven were townsmen, and the regimental roll contained many names common in Maybole to this day. The men were issued with weapons as varied as the Home Guard weapons of the Second World War (swords, pistols, axes, spades, shovels and a few firelocks) and the Earl of Cassillis mustered them for drilling on the Baigreen. Unfortunately there must have been some not so "respectable" members of the corps as it was regrettably recorded that on the third occasion of their drilling on the Town Green their "drunken and riotous behaviour" forced the Earl and the Magistrates to reconsider their scheme to raise a force in defence of their country and the Carrick Loyal Volunteers were disbanded and did not turn out again for drilling. The Councillors no doubt decided to risk a probable invasion by Napoleon to a more than possible disturbance to the lieges by one hundred and fourteen armed men out on a spree. In February 1798 however, the Magistrates again came to the help of the Government "at this critical period when the nation is threatened by the invasion of an Enemy whose aim is the destruction of our Religion, our Laws and our Liberty", and a voluntary subscription was raised by them. to send to help the funds for the war against Napoleon. By January 1798 rumours of war had taken a back seat to more important local business and the councilors were engrossed in raising money to repair the roof, build up the chimney and repair the windows in the "Dancing Room" in the Courthouse and the Earl of Cassillis came to their assistance with a gift of 21 sterling.

In April 1800 it is recorded 100 was paid to the Road Trustees to enable them to form a road from Lyonstone in a direct line to the Town of Maybole. This is what is now Park Terrace and Cassillis Road from the foot of Lovers Lane to Duncanland Toll.

In May 1804 the question of the removal of the Castle kitchens, etc., which then spread across to where the Post Office now stands, was discussed with the Earl of Cassillis and it was finally agreed in April 1805 that these would be taken down and a road formed through the Castle yards to join up with the road formed from Lyonstone to Duncanland Toll in 1800. This was done and the New Yards (or Cassillis Road as it is now called) came into existence at that time.

In April 1805 a petition was submitted by the Wool Merchants of Glasgow that the Maybole Cloth Market be held on a Tuesday instead of a Monday as had been the custom. The Wool Merchants pointed out they had to leave Glasgow on a Sunday to be in time to attend the Monday markets and their leaving their houses and travelling to Maybole on the Sabbath was frowned upon by their ministers. The Magistrates, being godly men, (as Maybole councillors have always been) quite saw the point and decreed that all Cloth Markets in the town be held on Tuesdays, commencing at 6 a.m. on the Beltane and Lammas Fairs and at 8 a.m. on Hallows Fair but the Candlemas Fair was to be held on a Thursday. Bills were posted fixing the dates of the Cloth Fairs as follows:

Beltane Fair-Last Tuesday of April.
Lammas Fair-Las Tuesday of July.
Hallow Fair-Last Tuesday of October.
Candlemas Fair-First Thursday of February.

The Wool Merchants of Glasgow expressed their satisfaction with these arrangements and for nearly half a century thereafter they travelled to the Fairs in Maybole four times a year without fear of lectures from their ministers for breaking the Sabbath. At this period a woollen mill was worked at Welltrees Square by a Gilbert Goudie and a "skinnery" had been started next to it by a Hugh Girvan. Both were councillors and no doubt they lobbied that the request of the Glasgow Wool Merchants be granted as they formed the main customers of Gilbert Goudie and Hugh Girvan who would be anxious to attract the Glasgow traders.

In 1806 the vexed question of a new church again arose and on 20th August a petition was submitted to the council asking the Magistrates to "add their utmost exertions to promote the building of a new church". A committee was formed to join the Heritors in pressing for a new church and the council pledged support for the project with the proviso that their commitment towards the cost would not exceed 300 sterling. On 17th January, 1807, however, after discussion with the Heritors this sum was increased to 450 (a loan of 400 being taken by the council from Hunters Bank in Ayr to meet this expense) and in 1808 the new church was finally built in New Yards, the pews being rouped on 22nd December 1808 for a total sum of 276.10.0d. A stipulation was made at the public roup of the seats that only a burgess, or a widow or a child of a burgess would be allowed to bid for the seats. The names of the successful bidders are listed in the records and many of their descendants still live in Maybole.

In the early part of the nineteenth century the councillors would seem to have been a convivial body of people as in 1806 the principal sums expended from the town's coffers went to pay "Miss Piper, innkeeper in Maybole" (Red Lion Inn) for supplies to the council, and some councillors pointed out the expenditure on refreshments amounted to more than four times the Schoolmaster's annual salary. This was not unusual, however, as on the evening of 6th June, 1797 the sum of 2.9.8d. stg. had been expended by the councillors at a party they held in the Kings Arms Hotel to celebrate the King's Birthday. The "Common Good Fund" of those days must have often been deleted to meet the needs of the good men and true who watched over the affairs of their fellow townsmen.

In March 1807 the council paid 4.1.8d. to acquire the ground at Welltrees where "the water issues from the rock at the spout below the tree" and this ground was later tidied up and a wall built round the well which supplied the townspeople in that "suburb" for nearly another hundred years.

The town authorities decided in October 1808 to install street lighting throughout the town and fourteen oil lamps were purchased and fitted in High Street and Weaver Vennal, the other streets being left for the inhabitants to find their way about in as best they could on dark winter nights. In the accounts for 1810 the sum of 7.19.3d. is shown as having been expended "on oil for the lamps of Maybole". At the same meeting it was decided to engage a town "scaffengere" to sweep and clean the streets and it would seem the councillors were indeed becoming very civic minded in the early 1800s.

In July 1814 Hugh Davidson, Parochial Schoolmaster, petitioned for an increase of salary as he had employed an assistant since Martinmas 1810 and paid him out of his own salary. Mr. Davidson pleaded that his salary and other emoluments afforded but a small amount to defray "the unavoidable expense of having a wife and family" and to pay for an assistant. The councillors (all married men) were sympathetic to the plea and increased the salary by 1.13.4d. per annum.

On Saturday 1st September, 1817 a great part of the ceiling of the grand new church in New Yards fell down and William Niven of Kirkbride was appointed to meet the Heritors and discuss the question of having the repairs carried out. As it had only been built nine years previously it would seem all old tradesmen's work was not so good as it is often said to have been.

The Financial Account for 1817 records that the "Dancing Room" in the Town Hall had been let for various functions throughout the year. A Dick Harper paid 2/- for one night's let for a wedding, a "Company of Strolling Players" 1.4.0d. for a week's let to produce plays and Mr. Ferguson, Dancing Master, paid 1.12.0d. for two months' let of the Hall to hold his dancing classes.

Around 1817 there arose among the townsfolk a popular clamour for Burgh Reform (although there is no reference to it in the minutes of that year) and on August 4th 1820 it was reported that a Process of Declarator had been served in December 1817 by Thomas Bell and others against the Magistrates Councillors, pointing out that by the existing method of election of councillors the burgesses had no voice in the nomination of Bailies or Councillors and demanding that this position be altered to give the Burgesses a say in such matters. The Councillors did not look kindly on such a radical suggestion as election by popular vote and strongly opposed the proposal. As usual the Earl of Cassillis was drawn into the argument but he, by a letter from his Factor, Charles D. Gardner, on 13th April, 1818 ably threw the ball back to the Magistrates and more or less told them to settle their own difficulties but indicated he supported the plea of the townspeople. At the same time the Earl claimed that he, as Superior, had the sole right to nominate the Bailies although he had not exercised this right since 1792. This put another cat in the dovecote at the old Tolbooth and the poor councillors had to battle on two fronts. The matter finally went to the Court of Session where a decision was given in favour of the councillors continuing in the even tenor of their way. In these days the councillors were elected more or less for life and on the death or retiral of a member the remainder chose his successor and also chose the Bailies from their members, and the council was really a closed shop. The Magistrates and Bailies contended that the Charter of 1516 only laid down that the original councillors should be elected by the burgesses and thereafter the councillors would "choose the new" according to a statute made in 1469 in the reign of James IV. Most of the papers relating to the dispute are extant and make interesting reading with arguments ably supported by both the councillors and the reformers but the Maybole burgesses were to wait many years before getting representatives elected by popular vote, a right which is taken as a matter of course nowadays with no thought given to the lengthy battle to obtain this right.

The councillors appear to have been generous victors of the battle as on 21st October, 1820, it is recorded that William Niven the "leader" of the Council proposed that a short list of five members be drawn up and submitted to the Earl of Cassillis for him to nominate two Bailies, this being a "courtesy gesture only because of the long friendship which had subsisted between his Lordship and the Council". The Earl was equally generous however, and, although still claiming his right to nominate the Bailies, left it to the councillors to elect the Bailies. So ended a three year period in the town's history when reform was first mooted and arguments were fierce but the townsfolk seemed to accept the continuance of the old rule with equanimity and settled down again to their "byasse" bowls and "gowf" and the enjoyment of the dances and dramas by the "Strolling Players" in the "Dancing Room" in the old Tolbooth.

It is noted in the Town Records that from this time on William Niven is always referred to as the "Leader" of the council and there is no doubt but that he was a forceful "Leader" and made a "one man council". As he was intensely interested in the town however, his dictatorship does not seem to have been a bad thing and proves that very often the most successful committee consists of one, so long as he is the right one.

By 1834 gas was replacing the old paraffin lamps throughout the country and on 19th March of that year the Maybole Gas Company opened their new Gasworks in Dangartland. This was a great occasion and the townspeople took the opportunity to make it a holiday and flocked to the opening ceremony which must indeed have been a colourful scene. The Magistrates and Councillors, the Freemasons, Shoemakers, Wrights, Tailors and other guilds all marched in procession, in full regalia, with their banners flying and with the local band to keep them in step, from the Town Green to the Gas Works, where, after the usual dreaded speeches, the gas taps were finally turned on and Maybole became lit up. Many of the citizens must have followed Suit as the Secretary of the Local Masonic Lodge complained bitterly about the number of whisky glasses that had been broken by the brethren during the evening's harmony after they had "processed" to the opening ceremony at the Gas Works. These private gas works continued for over a hundred years until they were Nationalized about 30 years ago and in 1969 piped gas was introduced under the gas grid scheme and gas is no longer made in the old works. Few, if any houses are now lit by gas, electricity having been introduced to Maybole in the l920s and nearly all lighting is now by electricity, but many of the housewives still swear by gas for cooking and will not part with their gas stoves.

In 1843 the Magistrates discovered the local sexton was digging up graves after interments in the old cemetery at the foot of Kirkwynd and selling the coffins to local undertakers and he was heavily fined for this grave misdemeanour. It did not deter him however as sometime later he was again fined and discharged from his duties for other misdeeds. Perhaps he needed the money to pay his first fine.

By the middle of the nineteenth century the weaving trade in the town was in a very bad state of depression and on 1st April, 1849 the Council met to consider the question of relief for the unemployed hand loom weavers. It was decided the Council should meet the Heritors and try to take measures with them to provide work for the poor and needy in so far as possible. Later it was decided they should be given work breaking stones for the new roads being made at that time and the unemployed of that period had to work for their "dole" as the councillors "were of the opinion it was not good for a man to be paid for doing nothing."

In June 1848 new dates were fixed for the Town Fairs which had been altered to suit the Glasgow Wool Merchants in 1805.

Tuesday had become the fixed days for markets in Ayr and many trades people attended the county town on these days in preference to trading at the smaller Maybole Fair and the civic fathers altered the Maybole Fair days to Thursdays instead of Tuesdays in the hope of "bringing mair profit" to the townsfolk.

On 29th January, 1849 a petition was submitted to the Magistrates from a large number of the inhabitants of the Burgh objecting to the proposal by the members of the Free Church to use the vacant piece of ground adjacent to the Church as a burial ground as it was "considered unsuitable because of the proximity to St. Cuthberts Well which was one of the chief sources of water for the townspeople". The "Free Kirkers" on 24th June had buried one of their members in this area without making application to the civic heads for right to use the ground for such a purpose and the Magistrates decided to "strenuously object and go further into the matter". After lengthy discussions with the church members it was finally agreed that no further burials would take place in the Kirkyard and the members of the church would have the right of burial in the new private cemetery at Tunnoch when it was opened. (The new cemetery was formally opened in 1851). Many of the Free Church  members were party to the pressure for Burgh Reform in 1817 and would seem to have been "ag'in the Government" in many ways and were indignant that they were not allowed to run their own affairs and bury whom they liked in their own God's Acre. Finally however they succumbed to public opinion and agreed that no further interments would take place "for fear of  pollution to the town well". The person buried was a well 'known local doctor and the inscription on the tombstone reads:

"Sacred to the Memory of William MacFarlane, Surgeon, Maybole, who died on 21st January, 1849, a victim to faithful discharge of professional duty from a poisoned puncture received at a postmortem examination for the public interest". Underneath the inscription is added (evidently at a later date): "The body of the lamented deceased is the lonely occupant of this ground, the Free Church congregation to whom it belongs having relinquished their right of sepulchre therein in consideration of having obtained in perpetuity the fourth part of the Private Cemetery at Tunnoch". So ended another episode when the all powerful council brought to heel those townsfolk who thought they could deal with their own affairs in their own way.

In April, 1853 the question of extending the Ayr-Dalmellington Railway line to Maybole and Girvan was the subject of discussion between the councillors and promoters of the railway. Lengthy meetings were held and finally in October 1853 it was decided the railway line should stop at Maybole and not be continued on to Girvan as originally proposed. The Secretary to the Railway Company reported that from traffic tables he had prepared he estimated shareholders in the company could expect at least 10% return on money invested. The Council agreed to recommend the project to the inhabitants of the town and urge them to give support by taking shares. Many townspeople did this and, as foretold by the Company Secretary, the railway prospered and the shareholders did exceedingly well from their investments. The railway station was first formed at Redbrae and later the line was formed to where the old Coal Lye was sited and where the Carrick Cooperative garages are now built. A little later the railway was taken on to Girvan and the present railway station was built, thus completing the Ayr-Maybole-Girvan railway line first mooted in 1853.

The townspeople were strongly "anti-papist" and the local Orangemen made things rather difficult for the Roman Catholic minority every twelfth of July. On 10th July, 1854 a letter was received by the Magistrates from Sheriff Robinson, Ayr, stating that, as the Orange Lodge members would not give an undertaking not to parade on the twelfth, he proposed to send to Maybole a detachment of the Ayrshire Yeomanry on that date to keep the peace.

The Orangemen however cared not a jot for the "Sour Milk Jocks" and gaily met on the morning of the Twelfth, with banners flying and the Orange Band to lead them and "processed" along Weaver Vennal and out the Crosshill Road to join their Crosshill brethren. The Magistrates tried to stop the procession but wisely retreated when they realised nobody could turn aside the Maybole Orangemen and the Crosshill and Maybole contingents duly joined forces at Ballochbroe. A band of Roman Catholic townsmen bravely challenged them there and the annual Donnybrook started, when the two factions gleefully assaulted each other, and men who were bosom friends for three hundred and sixty four days of the year tried their utmost to crack each other's heads in the full knowledge they would sympathise over each other's wounds the following day. The Magistrates and Sheriff did not appreciate the high spirits of the Minniebolers and the Ayrshire Yeomanry detachment was speedily dispatched to Ballochbroe to quell the disturbers of the peace with a show of force. The Orangemen and Catholics however, although bitter enemies for the time being, were still all true Minniebolen and would brook no interference in their private affairs and they promptly banded together in common cause against the "interlowpers" and made it so hot for the troopers they had to retreat. The two factions then again blythely attacked each other but the Yeomanry, after a brief spell of rest, again interfered and finally broke up the party. The Ayr Advertiser of 13th July, 1854 gave a brief account of the affair and reported "The Orangemen of Maybole and Crosshill processed, despite the Sheriff's proclamation, but were stopped by Sheriff Robinson and local Magistrates at Maybole and by Mr. Dykes and Bailie Muir, Justices of the Peace, at Crosshill, assisted by the Yeomanry Cavalry. The musical instruments and staves were taken from the parties and near Crosshill where the procession stoned the force employed in preserving the peace, one of the ringleaders was apprehended and sent to Ayr prison". Such was the very much watered down report on the "Battle of Ballochbroe", no doubt carefully worded not to demean the powers of the Sheriff and Magistrates, but any Maybole man will stoutly aver that on the 12th July, 1854 the townsmen put to flight the "Sour Milk Jocks" and defied the powers of the Sheriff who had ordered them not to "process". Tradition has it that the young officer in charge of the troop rashly ordered his men to fire over the rioters and some persons were slightly wounded which brought everybody to their senses very quickly indeed. No mention is made of this in any report of the affray but old towns-people who had heard the story from people who were present at it stoutly maintain this was a fact and the "Battle of Ballochbroc" could well have developed into a civil riot if anyone had been seriously wounded.

In 1857 the Town Council, very similar to its present form, came into being and became known as Police Commissioners under an Act introduced "to make more effectual provision for the Policing of Towns and populous places in Scotland and for paving, draining, cleansing, lighting and improving same and permitting twenty one or more householders in any such burgh to petition the Sheriff of the County to define and specify the boundaries of such Burgh". The reformers of 1817 had waited forty years for such a body to govern their town but finally the old ways had passed and the first election of Commissioners was held on 29th May, 1857 when the following twelve Councillors were appointed:

Thomas Dykes, Estate Factor.
William Rennie, Banker.
Peter Sinclair, Grain Merchant.
James Weir, Merchant.
David McClure, Ironmonger.
William Brown, Banker.
James Rennie, Innkeeper.
William Galbraith, Merchant.
John Fergusson, Clothier.
Alexander Jack, Wood Merchant.
Charles Crawford, Shoemaker.
John Rankine, Farmer at Broch.

These were all men of substance with interests in the welfare of the town and the townsfolk were well content to leave the town's affairs in their capable hands. At the first meeting of the Commissioners on 1st June, 1857, Thomas Dykes was appointed Senior Magistrate and William Rennie and William Brown, Junior Magistrates, while William Hainay was engaged as Town Clerk and Thomas Rennie as Treasurer and Collector. Their first duty was to fix the rates for the ensuing year and a rate of 1/- per pound was passed for the year 1857-58. In April 1860 the council met and agreed that the Burgh Police and the County Police Force should merge and Councillor James Murdoch was appointed to represent Maybole on the Police Committee for the County.

In May 1867 the members of the Carrick Instrumental Band were in trouble because they would not turn out to practise, "the younger members being otherwise employed", and it was decided their instruments would be taken from them and given to the Rifle Corp. Probably it was thought the Rifle Corp would make better use of the instruments as, being composed of older and mostly married men, the members would not be "otherwise employed" as their courting days would be mainly past.

In May 1868 the Councillors agreed to accept the estimate of Mr. Lambie, Builder, Maybole to form a new street from My Lords Well at the junction of New Yards and Castle Road to the foot of Kirklands Street at Pat's Corner and when this was done the new street was named St. Cuthberts Road. The following year an ornamental iron pump was erected by public subscription at My Lords Well (so called because it had formerly been the well in the Castle Yard to supply the occupants of the Castle) and this pump was a land mark in the town until it was removed in the 1930s.

The question of a new Town Hall had been mooted for some years and finally on 15th January, 1877 the councillors agreed to obtain plans for a new Hall to be built next to the Court House on ground purchased from Mr. Donald, Kilmarnock for the sum of 120. It was proposed that funds for the project be raised by the townspeople taking 5 shares and later in the year (15th October) this was altered to a resolution to form a Stock Company with shares at 10 each. Five years later (April 1882) Bailie Lambie reported he had approached various parties throughout the town to take shares in the proposed Town Hall Company, but the canny Minniebolers had not looked kindly on the proposal that they should pay for the grand new building they had pressed the Council to erect, and as the shares could not be sold, it was resolved to let the matter rest awhile. In November 1885 it was agreed to make over free of charge, but subject to certain conditions, the ground for the new Town Hall to the Commissioners of Police, and let them get on with the building of it.

In October 1877 it is recorded that the Railway Company intended to improve the station and to remove the bridge which crossed the railway "a little to the south of the present station and not to erect another in its place". This meant that all the traffic (foot and horse) would require to use the road at Gardenrose House (where the present Station Bridge is sited) and the Magistrates would not agree to the Railway Company's proposal unless a new foot bridge was erected by them where the old bridge had been placed near the north end of the Free Church. This was agreed and "Buchty Brig", as it is now known, was erected the following year.

On 19th July, 1878, the Magistrates, Councillors and friends held their annual outing to Croy Shore, being transported by Mr. McCubbin's brakes, and no doubt being ably served in other needs by the said respected owner of the Kings Arms Hotel. No trace of expenses for the day can be found in the accounts and each councillor would probably share in the cost and the lesson of 1806, when the cost of refreshments had been raised, seems to have had effect seventy years later. This practice of the councillors having a day's outing has continued to the present time and formerly the Provost was host for the lunch and the two Bailies for the tea but latterly the outing has been combined with the "Water Trip" and charged against council expenditure.

In 1879 unemployment again was rife in the town, the weaving trade having declined and the boot trade not yet into its stride, and meetings were held to discuss the problems of the poor and needy. The sum of 26.16.8d. was raised by public subscription and the Right Honourable Thomas Kennedy of Dunure gifted one hundred tons of coal for the benefit of the unemployed. It was agreed to use the money raised to meet any loss incurred by the council from engaging the unemployed to break stones for road making and to distribute the coal amongst the most needy.

On 13th October, 1881, the Magistrates agreed to permit Mrs. Law to raise a memorial over the Green Well in the Town Green in memory of her late father Thomas Dykes, who died on 12th June, 1879, and who was for many years Factor to the Marquess of Ailsa and first Senior Magistrate in the town under the Police Commissioners Act and this Peterhead granite monument still stands in the Town Green and is known as the "Dykes Memorial".

On 19th May, 1882, at a joint meeting of the Town Council and the Police Commissioners it was reported there had been a disastrous fire that morning in weavers' houses in Ballony resulting in the death of three women, Mrs. Campbell and Marion and Helen Byron, and the loss of all the possessions of the other cottagers. It was agreed the Council would give a donation of 16.1 0.0d. towards aiding the people who had lost all their possessions and it was later reported that a total of 39.1 9.6d. had been collected for the fund from the townspeople.

The Town Green (formerly the Baigreen) had been a source of annoyance for many years, being unkept and overgrown with weeds when it was not a quagmire after rain, and in February 1892, it was finally decided to have it put into order, sown out in grass, with walks through it and a railing erected round it, at the cost of 300, of which 150 had been collected by public subscription. Two years later the work was completed and on 23rd March, 1894, the Councillors met and marched up the School Vennal to the Green which was formally declared open by Bailie Guthrie and afterwards the councillors had dinner in "Wyllies" Inn (now the Carrick Hotel) to celebrate the occasion. The Town Green had the original railings round it until the Second World War when they were removed to aid the war effort in the collection of scrap iron for ammunition. The trees were planted in 1894 and many are still standing although some have died and been removed.

In September, 1895, the Rev. Roderick Lawson and a few other townsmen offered to supply, free of charge, a new bell for the bell tower in the old Tolbooth and the offer was gratefully accepted. The old bell, (19" in diameter) which had been the curfew bell for two hundred years, was removed and placed on an ornamental oak stand, and now graces the present Council Chambers. An inscription on it states: "This Bell is founded at Maiboll by Albert Daniel Geli, a Frenchman, the 6th November, 1696 by appointment of the Heritors of the Parish, and William Montgomerie and Thomas Kennedy, Magistrates of the Burgh." The new bell,, which still warns the townsfolk it is time for church on Sundays and tolls for past Provosts, etc., weighs 20 cwts., is 49" in diameter, has the note "F", and was cast by Murphy, Bell Founder, Dublin in 1896. The inscription on it reads: "J. Murphy, Founder, Dublin. Presented by a few friends to the Burgh of Maybole. James Ramsay, Provost, Christmas 1895". The curfew bell was rung in the town at 10 o'clock each night until the Second World War when the custom was discontinued much to the regret of many older towns-folk who would be glad to have the old custom revived.

By the end of the nineteenth century the Commissioners gave way to the Provost, Bailies and Councillors as continue to this day and the members of the twentieth century council deal with more modern matters which are mainly common knowledge to all townsfolk. Since the turn of the present century the Council Minutes deal mostly with rating, housing and the usual everyday problems of a small burgh. In the earlier part of the century they record the mourning of the townspeople on the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 and the subsequent rejoicing at the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902. Much the same pattern of sorrowing and rejoicing occurred on his death in 1910 and the crowning of King George V in 1911 and there seems to have been a ritual proceedings for such events, as the council made more or less similar arrangements on each occasion.

Deaths of crowned heads warranted church services and tolling bells and coronations gala days with medals for all the children The second decade of the twentieth century records the towns-people's efforts in the First World War and the usual town's affairs were put in the background until the old Town bell rang its victory peal on 11th November, 1918. During the war reference is made in various minutes to concerts, fetes and collections being made to collect funds to send parcels to the men on service and to entertain them on their return and from the sums collected the townspeople did not fail in their efforts to raise money for these purposes.

After the war the council again resumed their usual business of running the town and started building Council houses at Cassillis Terrace, etc. and many road and street improvements were carried out. Again in 1936 the townspeople mourned on the death of King George V and cheered on the proclamation of the Prince of Wales as King Edward VII but no coronation celebrations were held as he abdicated on 17th December of that year. In May 1937, however, King George VI was crowned and the Council royally entertained the townspeople. A large beflagged arch of green foliage was erected across the High Street at the site of the old Town Cross, the elder generation were entertained with a meal and a concert in the Town Hall and the children once again had their sports gala in the Sheep Park and 989 of them received Coronation Medals. It was in this year that the Council sold the old German gun which had stood in the Town Green as a memento of the First World War and the money received for it (2) was gifted to the funds of the British Legion.

In 1938 the Council discussed the urgent need for a new Police Station and agreed it be built on a site in Ladyland Road. Although the members of the Council had changed throughout the years the methods had not altered much since the days when the civic heads had decided a new Town Hall was required as it was not until 1965 that the new Police Station was built. In the same year (1938) a Council Minute records that complaints had been made that tenants of council houses were drying their washing on their back greens on Sundays and in this instance the councillors of the 1930s emulated their predecessors of the 18th century by issuing a notice forbidding such desecration of the Sabbath under penalty of a fine. It is good to see that the old despotic spirit of the councillors had not been completely submerged by twentieth century democratic rules and regulations. In 1938 it was reported that the population of the town was 4,545 and that the council had built 222 houses since the first housing scheme was commenced in 1919, this being 20% of all houses in the Burgh. It was in this same year that two old Minniebolers, D. & J. Sloan of Glasgow, gifted a Sports Pavilion for the Public Memorial Park and the new Carrick Cinema in Welltrees Street was formally opened on 11th July when the Provost, Bailies and all Councillors attended the opening ceremony and, according to the Minutes, "enjoyed a display of first class films afterwards".

The years 1939 to 1945 again record the horrors of war and the council records deal mainly with air raid precautions, the housing of children from the large cities, the billeting of soldiers, the formation of a prisoner of war camp at Ballony, the ploughing up of part of the Memorial Park and the collection of iron railings from the Town Green and private houses to provide scrap metal. Concerts and dances were again held to raise funds as had been done in the first war and parcels were sent to the troops and money collected to entertain those who returned. One amusing minute in the dreary record of war time was a complaint in July, 1942, that at the Saturday night dances held to raise funds many of the dancers "jitterbugged" and the councillors solemnly passed a rule that only one "jitterbug" dance could be held at any Saturday night dance. Presumably the "jitterbugs" could dance merrily away to their hearts delight on any other night of the week but were solemnly curtailed to one such dance on a Saturday night.

Since the Second World War the minutes of the Council have again reverted to the usual humdrum records of providing sanitation, water supply, street repairs and all the things so necessary to any community. The minutes are now more mundane in so far as they record little of the flashes of genius and practical application to problems dealt with by the old civic heads who held power over all and were the demigods of their day. The power of the Councillors has been greatly curtailed and the constant changing of the composition of its members (unlike the old days when a Councillor was more or less elected for his lifetime) seldom allow any outstanding personality to shine (although there were a few, such as Provost McCubbin and some others) and the couthy and homely feeling of the small town, where its own problems were solved by its own folk, has passed away. The days when "Leader" Niven and Bailie Guthrie could definitely solve a problem on the spot and tell the townsfolk what to do have been forgotten and now nearly every matter arising in the council has to be referred to some Government or County Department. At the present time the "Wheatley" proposal that local councils be cast aside and the country "regionalised" hangs like the sword of Damocles over the councillors' heads but it is to be hoped that the Minniebolers will never lose their age long right to govern their old town's affairs by their ain folk.

It is indeed unfortunate the older records from the sixteenth century until 1721 were lost at the time Bonnie Prince Charlie put the fear of death in the lowland Minniebolers and they sent their minutes for safe keeping to the Sheriff in Ayr who promptly lost them. It would make interesting reading to see what the Councillors of that time thought of John Knox when he visited the town in 1562, the mustering of the Maybole Covenanters to march to Bothwell Brig in 1679, the celebration of Mass in the "Auld College" in May, 1563, the fight at Ladycross when young Bargany was killed in 1601 and the many stirring events which took place in the "auld toon" from the granting of the Charter in 1516 to the time the records are extant. The notes by the Rev. Abercrummie in 1686 are the only written records (apart from some other Charters, etc.) which give an insight on the town in its early days and naturally they are not so complete and pithy as recordings of the council meetings would have been, from the first meeting in 1516 to 1721, and it is indeed unfortunate these minutes were lost by the Sheriff of Ayr.


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