An article from

'The Topographical, Statistical, and Historical Gazetteer of Scotland'

Published by A.Fullarton and Co. - 1848


AUCHINLECK, a parish of Ayrshire ; bounded on the north by the parishes of Mauchline, Sorn, and Muirkirk; on the east by Muirkirk and Crawford-John ; on the south by Kirkconnel, New Cumnock, and Old Cumnock; and on the west by Ochiltree. It is a narrow strip of country, measuring 16 miles in length, while it does not exceed 2 in average breadth. Its area is estimated, in Aiton's 'View,' at 18,000 Scots acres, of which not one-third part is under cultivation. The general appearance of the district is wild and bleak; but the western part of it is more generally cultivated and enclosed. There are some coal-works in this parish which afford employment to about 60 men, and free-stone and limestone quarries. The value of coal and lime annually obtained in this parish is estimated, in the Statistical report of 1838, at £2,990. The rivers Ayr and Lugar skirt the boundaries of the parish,—the former on the east, the latter on the south and west. The principal heritor is Sir James Boswell, Bart., to whose ancestor the barony of Auchinleck was granted by James IV.

 Boswell, the biographer of Dr. Johnson, was of this family ; and carried his illustrious friend hither, while on their tour in Scotland, to visit his father, Lord Auchinleck, one of the lords of session. The Doctor appears to have been pleased with his visit, and it would appear at one time entertained the idea of writing an history of the Boswells of Auchinleck. " Lord Auchinleck," he writes, " is one of the judges of Scotland, and therefore not wholly at leisure for domestic business or pleasure, has yet found time to make improvements in his patrimony. He has built a house of hewn stone, very stately and durable, and has advanced the value of his lands with great tenderness to his tenants. I was, however, less delighted with the elegance of the modern mansion, than with the sullen dignity of the old castle. I clambered with Mr. Boswell among the ruins, which afford striking images of ancient life. It is, like other castles, built upon a point of rock, and was, I believe, anciently surrounded with a moat. There is another rock near it, to which the draw-bridge, when it was let down, is said to have reached. Here, in the ages of tumult and rapine, the laird was surprised and killed by the neighbouring chief, who perhaps might have extinguished the family, had he not in a few days been seized and hanged, together with his sons, by Douglas, who came with his forces to the relief of Auchinleck." Grose has preserved a view of the old castle. Near it is the old house of Auchinleck. In the upper part of the parish are the remains of another old fortalice called Kyle castle. Population, in 1801, 1,214; in 1831, 1,662. Valued rent £3,462 15s. 4d. Scots. Real rent, in 1799, £2,870. The total yearly value of raw produce raised within this parish was estimated, in 1837, at £16,035. Houses, in 1831, 142. The village of Auchinleck is 1½ mile distant from Old Cumnock, and 15 from Ayr. It contains about 600 inhabitants, and is intersected by the Glasgow and Dumfries road. Many of the families here and throughout the parish are engaged in flowering muslin by the needle. A lamb fair is held here on the last Tuesday in August - This parish is in the presbytery of Ayr, and synod of

Glasgow and Ayr. Patron, Sir James Boswell, Bart. Church built in 1838; sittings 800. Stipend £161 1s. 11d., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £10. There is a small Antiburgher chapel in the village. The parochial schoolmaster has the maximum salary of £34 4s. 4½d. There are three other schools in the parish, which are attended by about 130 children — The parish of Auchinleck (generally pronounced Affleck by the country-people) was the birth-place of William M'Gavin of pious memory, the author of 'The Protestant;' and of William Murdoch, whose name is associated with that of James Watt, in his splendid career of scientific discovery and mechanical application.





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