'Charters of Crossraguel Abbey'





THE territorial estates of the Abbots of Crosraguel were of the largest extent. The greater part of Carrick, or Ayrshire south of the Doon, owed allegiance to them; and from Elsberry Head to Ballantrae, and inland to the parish church of Straiton and the mountainous district which borders upon Kirkcudbrightshire, were to be found at one time lairds, yeomen, and farmers, subject to the royal power with which the monks were invested. The Regality of Crosraguel extended over eight of the parishes of Carrick—Girvan, Dailly, Straiton, Ballantrae, Kirkoswald, Maybole, Kirkmichael, and Barr— the last being in mediaeval times represented by the Chapel of Kirkdominie or Kirkdanidie. Over the first five of these churches the monks enjoyed exclusive rights.{1} Their property was divided into two separate portions; (1) the temporality, or the revenue derived from lands and other secular sources;{2} (2) the spirituality, consisting of the teinds and other emoluments accruing from the ecclesiastical dues of parish churches.{3} The teinds were again subdivided into the teind sheaves, or the decimce garbales,{4} consisting of the tenth sheaf taken from every harvest field; and the vicarial teinds, or decimce fmni, of which hay was the principal feature, and which was gathered with the yearly tithes of stock, lambs, calves, and other produce. This subdivision of Church property in early times was well exemplified in the case of Crosraguel. Of the five churches belonging to the Abbey, over which they could exercise their right of patronage, the monks appointed a vicar, who enjoyed the lesser teinds, to Girvan,{5} Ballantrae,{6} and Straiton;{7} while they appropriated to themselves all the revenues of Dailly and Kirkoswald, and appointed a chaplain to serve the cure at those churches.{8} The rectorial or greater teinds were in all cases enjoyed by the Abbot as parson impersonee.

The accompanying map will give a fair idea of the extent of the Regality of the Abbey; and the following are among the principal places mentioned in these charters as being included in it. The names will be recognised by those to whom the locality is familiar.

Auchenaicht Dalelong Littlestoun
Auchennaddie Dalquharran Leffynen
Auchentrunnocht Easter Dunmurthy Lady Row's Meadow
Auchinblane Drumbane Lokistoun
Auchtinnaik Drumcaldilthey McCubenstoun
Abbotshill Drumgairloch McCaythriestoun
Ailsa Craig Drumgorlan McGowenstoun
Altichappell Dungrelach McKinuiestoun
Balchristen Drummorchy McMorriestoun
Balserroch Drummunthey McStephastoun
Baltersan Drumrachney Maltmansland
Balkennay Drumfern Easter Maltmanstoun
Broadmeadow Duneyn Wester Maxwellstoun
Brunstoun Duneyn Mochrum Hill
Crosraguel Dumkeynen Mossyde
Caldwellstoun Dunnefyne Quarrelhill
Chalmerstoun Frisselton Riddinrid
Chapel Donnan Glenord Slabraicht
Chlachrybeg Glenlowie Smethistoun
Chlauchries Keyoch Hackethinvach Snade
Clenacketh Karnestoun Straitoun
Clonlicht Kirkdin Southblane
Craigoth Knockgarron Trudonag
Corale Knockbrek Trave
Crosraguel Mains Knockin Yellowlie
Dalchorane Knockranald

These lands all differed in their annual rental, in their mode of cultivation, and in their natural fertility. The most valuable were the farms on the banks of the Girvan and the Doon; the poorest were the moorland hills in the parish of Straiton and round the Chapel of Kirkdamdie. They varied again, from the pennylands of Crosraguel and Southblane to the sixteen-merk lands and the forty-shilling lands of old extent, such as Duneyn, Knockgarron, and Lokistoun. Into the vexed question of the origin and meaning of these valuations we need not enter. Suffice it to say that the best authorities agree that the amount expressed something like 1¼per cent of their real value at the time of the Reformation.{1}

In the absence of the Chartulary or any Rental book we have to glean all the details regarding the management of these vast landed estates from the charters themselves. The monks were excellent farmers and good landlords. Their tenants were free from all military service, and had thus more leisure for agriculture and gentle pursuits than their neighbours, who held of the great barons of Cassillis, Blairquhan, and Culzean, and who, as vassals, were liable at the shortest notice to be summoned to arms. The tenantry of Crosraguel consisted of the cottars,{2} who occupied a croft and paid a small rent for it; and the farmers, who paid it chiefly in grain.{3} A third class of vassals were the yeomen or small lairds of such places as Knockgarron,{4} Pennyglen,{5} Balserroch,{6} or Clonlicht{7} who held land in the regality, and were thus subject to the authority of the Abbot. An incident of their tenure was their annual attendance at the court held by him on the lands of Auchinblane,{8} where they were with the other tenantry to renew every year their allegiance to their feudal superior.

Some of the "feu-duties" or "feu-mails" due to the Abbey from those to whom lands were granted, are worthy of record. Thus, for a ten-merk land of old extent, the reddendo was 36 bolls bere, 2 dozen and 2 capons;1 for a four-merk land, 80 bolls horse corn;2 for the merk land of Straiton, £3:6:8; and 12 capons,{3} or sometimes 12 moor-fowl;{4} for the salmon-fishings at the mouth of the Girvan, 3 dozen salted salmon between the feasts of the Nativity and Purification;{5} for the whole fishing of the river, 180 salmon a year.{6}

The fishings in the Water of Girvan were thus a valuable property. The monks do not appear to have had any right to those on the Doon or the Stinchar; nor had they any fishponds in the immediate proximity of the Abbey itself.

Other sources of large revenue to the monks were the mills, the coalpits, and the woods. Their two mills are the subject of constant allusion in these charters. One stood on the stream which still flows past the gateway;{7} the other at Drumgarloch, about two miles distant, on the sea.{8} To one or other of these mills all the tenants were bound, and we have frequent notices of the multures, or the grain paid the miller;{9} the sucken;{10} and the sequels, or petty dues.{11} The tenants were all termed suckeners, and are spoken of as being thirled to the mills.

The monks were from the earliest times diligent workers of the coalpits at Yellowlee and other places in the neighbourhood;{12} and the "coal-heughes"{13} and "coal-pottis"{14} are numerated in several of the charters. We do not find that they were actually worked before the sixteenth century in Carrick, though in other parts of Scotland coal was a source of wealth so far back as the thirteenth.{1} The wood was another valuable pertinent of the Abbacy. In early times the country round the monasteiy consisted of one large forest, and we have frequent reference to the woods and wood hag,{2} or annual wood cutting, the benefits of which were enjoyed by the monks. They had also "brewlands"{3} and "brewhouses"{4} near the Abbey, and appear to have emulated the legendary example of their brethren of Failfurd in brewing good ale. Over the vassals in their Regality the monks could exercise an almost boundless jurisdiction. From the date of the great charter by Robert the Third in 1404 until the Reformation, the Abbots of Crosraguel were, from the extent of their possessions, the importance of their office, and the almost royal power with which they were invested, the greatest personages in all Ayrshire; and no history of the county could be complete which failed to recognise the civilising and controlling force of the Regality. We have seen how the third Earl of Cassillis was appointed Heritable Bailie of the Abbey by one of the Abbots in 1562.{5} This office, with all its lucrative adjuncts, descended in the Cassillis family until the passing of the Act abolishing heritable jurisdictions in 1747. The Earl of Cassillis of that day claimed £12,100 as compensation for the loss of income from their abolition, including £1000 for the Lordship of the Regality of Crosraguel, and was awarded £1800 by the Parliamentary Commissioners.{1}  


1 Ada Pad, Scot.

 1 Vol. i. pp. 3-12, 37-40, 97, 117, 123, 126, 140, 156. 3 Vol. i. pp. 140-1, 150, 180, 184. 3 Ibid., pp. 140-1, 150, 184. 4 Vol. i. pp. 57, 156, 166; vol. ii. p. 11. 6 Vol. i. pp. 49, 52, 156. 6 Vol. ii. p. V0. 7 Vol. i. pp. 52, 117. s Vol. i. pp. 94, 156.

 1 V. Cosmo Innes's Antiquities, and Mr. Vans Agnew's Life of Sir Patrick Waus. 2 Vol. i. p. 120. s Vol. i. p. 120; vol. ii. pp. 64-5. 4 Vol. i. pp. 48-56, 71-6. • 6 Vol. ii. pp. 43-6. 6 Vol. i. p. 189. 7 Vol. i. p. 178. s Vol. i. pp. 51, 192, 197.

1 Vol. ii. p. 41. - Vol. ii. p. 41. 3 Vol. ii. p. 41. 4 Vol. i. p. 161. 5 Vol. ii. p. 41. ° Vol. i. p. 136. 7 Vol. i. pp. 154, 171 ; vol. ii. p. 18. s Vol. i. pp. 154, 16C, 171. ° Vol. i. pp. 166, 171, 192. 10 Vol. i. p. 171. 11 Vol. i. pp. 166, 192. 12 Vol. i. p. 154. 13 Vol. i. pp. 154, 166, 195. " Vol. i. p. 195.

1 V. Mr. Cochran-Patrick's Records of Mining in Scotland, p. 1. 2 Vol. i. p. 195. 3 Vol. i. p. 195. * Vol. i. p. 195. 5 Vol. i. p. 132. VOL. I. k ============================================




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