An article from

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

Published by A.Fullarton and Co. - 1848


DUNDONALD,(1) a parish in the north-west of Kyle, on the coast of Ayrshire. It is bounded on the north by Irvine water, which separates it from Irvine, Dreghorn, and Kilmaurs; on the east by Riccarton and Craigie; on the south-east by Symington and Monkton; and on the south-west and west by the frith of Clyde. From a bend in Irvine water, before that stream enters Irvine harbour, the parish extends southward along the coast 7 miles; in its greatest breadth it extends between 6 and 7 miles; and it contains an area of about 17 square miles. It is divided from south to north into two nearly equal parts, by the low range called the Claven hills, and afterwards by Stewalton moss. The upper or eastern section is a rolling surface of gentle eminences, adorned with clumps and belts of plantation; and consists, in general, of a fertile, loamy clay. The lower or western section is nearly a dead flat; immediately on the coast, except around Troon, and in some other spots, it is sandy and barren; and from half-a-mile inland, it has an excellent soil, and is in a state of fine cultivation. The promontory of Troon, protruding 1 mile into the sea, and not mile of average breadth, forms a fine feature in the landscape of the Ayrshire coast, as seen from the eminences south-eastward of Ayr. The Claven hills range south-eastward about 3 miles, and south-westward about 1 mile, and are all either under culture, in pasturage, or covered with plantation. They are so low as not to bear comparison with the other bills of the county, yet have long been distinguished by particular names. One of the largest is called Warley hill, probably a corruption of 'warlike;' and bears on its summits the vestiges of two encampments. The Norwegians who landed near Ayr, and were afterwards defeated at Largs, it is thought, fortified this hill; and they here were not only on a post of great security from the hostile warlike appliances of their period, but enjoyed a delightful and extensive view over the rich amphitheatre of Cunningham and Kyle, and the picturesque attractions of the frith of Clyde. On a rising ground, near the village of Dundonald, stands the ruin of Dundonald castle, described below. Westward of the castle is a very beautiful sylvan bank, nearly a mile in length, and, in most places, upwards of 100 feet in height. In a grand curvature of this bank, and on a gentle eminence, stands the house of Auchans, for a long Period the residence of the Wallaces of Dundonald; afterwards, about 1640, the property of Sir William Cochrane of Loudon, who was created Earl of Dundonald; and subsequently the possession of the Earls of Eglington. At the Auchans are the remains of a small orchard, which was once in high reputation. I the pear, well-known in Scotland by the name of Auchans, derived that name from this place. The tree came originally from France, was planted in this orchard, grew to a great height, and was, not long ago, blown down by a storm. It appears that the Wallaces had preceded the noble family of Dundonald in the possession of this property, as well as that of Auchans: for Douglas mentions John Wallace of Dundonald and Auchans, as having married a daughter of David Stuart of Castlemilk, some time posterior to the year 1570. Both father and son, of the same name, are mentioned as proprietors of Dundonald, a. d. 1572. Plantations, especially around Auchans, are large. Shewalton moss, nearly 4 miles in circumference, affords an inexhaustible supply of peat. Coal abounds, and is worked in large quantities for exportation. The parish is traversed south-westward by the railway from Kilmarnock to Troon, and southward along the coast by the great railway between Glasgow and Ayr; it is intersected, in various directions, by 7 or 8 lines of road, and it has harbours at Troon, Halfway or Irvine. Its villages are Troon [See TROON], Dundonald, Fairlie, Shewalton, Loans, and Halfway. The last is a suburb of Irvine, In 1836, Troon had a population of 1,088; Fairlie and Shewalton, of 505, chiefly colliers; Dundonald and Loans, of 505, consisting principally of handloom weavers and handicraftsmen; and Halfway, 2,571, consisting chiefly of seamen, ship-carpenters, and persons employed about the harbour. Population of the parish, in 1801, 1,240; in 1831, 5,579.(2) Houses 685. Assessed property, in 1815, 14,385.- Dundonald is in the presbytery of Ayr, and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. Patron, the Earl of Eglinton. Stipend 256 2s. 1d.; glebe 8. Unappropriated teinds 647 1s. 5d. - The parish-church was built in 1803, and repaired in 1835; sittings 611. In 1836 an additional church was erected at Troon, having 900 sittings; and another was about to be erected at Halfway, with from 800 to 1,000 sittings. Both were intended to be made parish-churches, quoad sacra. - The United Secession built at Troon a chapel in 1822 or 1823, with 289 sittings; and though they for a time abandoned it, they have recently had their people there recongregated. In 1830. according to the report of the religious instruction commission, there were in the parish persons belonging to the Established church, 3,960; belonging to other denominations, 1,878; not known to belong to any denomination, 29: total, 5,867. Parish scnoolmaster's salary 29 18s. 9d., with about 50 of other emoluments. There are 10 schools not parochial, 3 of them exclusively for females. The parish of Dundonald anciently comprehended, on the east, the chapelry of Riccarton, which was erected into a separate parish long before the Reformation; and, on the south, the chapelry of Crossby, now included in the united parishes of Monkton and Prestwick. The church, along with its two chapels, belonged to the monks of Paisley, and was served by a vicar. Dundonald castle has never made any conspicuous appearance in our national history; but it claims attention as having been the residence of some of our princes of the house of Stuart. It is situated on the coast of the frith of Clyde, in the above parish. This castle gives name to the earldom in the family of Cochrane; but the rising ground on which the castle stands, with 5 roods of land adjoining, is all the property in this parish which now pertains to that family. No authentic record can be produced as to the time when the castle was built, or when it was spoiled of its roof, and rendered desolate. A large pile still remains. The walls are very thick, and built of whinstone, which abounds in the vicinity. The corners are of a freestone superior in quality to any now found in the parish. The Stuart arms are engrossed in different parts of the building, and the whole has much the form of those castles which were raised in many places of Britain during the 12th and 13th centuries. "The manor and parish of Dundonald belonged to Walter, the son of Alan, the first Stewart, who held the whole of the northern half of Kyle, in the beginning of the reign of William the Lion; and it might have been granted to him by David I., or his successor Malcolm IV. Perhaps the castle of Dundonald was built by the first Walter, who had no appropriate house or castle when he settled in Scotland. It seems to have been the only castle which the Stewarts had in their extensive barony of Kyle Stewart; but several of their vassals had small castles in that district." ['Caledonia,' vol. iii. p. 508.] Some writers have asserted although perhaps rather on doubtful authority that Walter, the first of this name, and son of Fleance, received from Malcolm Canmore the baronies of Strathgrief, or Renfrew, and Kyle, in lieu of his pretensions to Lochaber. We do not know that the name of this place occurs before the mention that is made of it in the designation of Walter, the third of this Christian name, who is designed 'of Dundonald.' He was made Justiciary of Scotland by Alexander II., in 1230. It was his son Alexander who behaved so gallantly in the battle of Largs, against the Norwegians. "The castle of Dundonald," says Chalmers, "became the retreat of Robert II., after his retirement from government, upon the death of James, Earl of Douglas, at Otterburn, in 1388." He must, however, before this date, have occasionally made this the place of his residence: for Sir John Kennedy, of Dunure, having endowed a chapel adjoining to the burial-place of the parish-church of Maybole, this grant is confirmed by Robert II. at Dundonald, 4th December, 1371.(3) Robert II., after he ascended the throne, lived much in Dundonald castle, wherein he died in 1390. This event is particularly commemorated by the good prior of St. Serf's Inch in Lochlevin:

The secownd Robert of Scotland Kyng,

As God purwaid, maid endyng

At Downdownald in his cuntre.

Of a schort seknes thare deyd he.


      Wyntoun, B. ix. c. 10, v.3

In the same fortress, his mild, but unfortunate, son and successor, Robert III. occasionally resided.(4) We need scarcely remind the reader, that this prince had been baptized by the name of John; but that this being deemed an unlucky name as exemplified in the history of King John of England, of John Baliol, and of John, king of France it was, at his accession, judged expedient that he should assume that of Robert. Hence, in the language of the vulgar, he was commonly known by the sobriquet of John Fernyeir, equivalent to "John of the last year," or "he who was formerly called John." His first title of honour seems to have been Lord of Kyle; afterwards he was Earl of Carrick; as we learn from Wyntoun :

Syne eftyrwartis all a qwhile

Wyth a gret folk the Lord of Kyle,

That syne was Erle of Karryke,

And alsua Prynce of our kynryk,


Made in Annandirdale a rade,

And sa lang tyme thare-in he bade,

Qwhill all the folk of that cuntre

Consentyt Scottis men to be.


          Cronykil, B. viii. c. 42, r. 197.

It would appear, that the title above referred to was not, like that of Earl of Carrick, connected with the dignity of heir apparent, but had been given to him as a younger son, from the patrimonial inheritance of the Stewarts. This good prince terminated his unhappy reign, April 4th, 1406. According to Pinkerton, this event took place at the castle of Rothsay in Bute. This corresponds with the account given by the continuator of Fordun, and by Skene in his 'Table of all the Kinges of Scotland. 'But Ruddiman, David Macpherson, and others, give the preference to Wyntoun's testimony, who says that he died at Dundonald :

A thousand and foure hundyr yere

To tha tlie sext all reknyt clere,

Robert the thrid, oure Lord the Kyng,

Maid at Dundownald his endyng.


       CRONYKIL, B. ix. c. 26, v. 1.

Not far from this royal seat, the remains of an ancient ecclesiastical foundation are still to be seen, popularly denominated, 'Our Lady Kirk of Kyle: 'but the time of its erection is quite unknown. This chapel was called Capella de la Grace, as appears from a charter of James IV., A.D. 1490. From its vicinity to Dundonald, it seems to have, at least, occasionally received some special tokens of royal favour. For the same prince, we are told, never passed through that part of the country without making an offering at 'Our Lady's Kirk of Kyle.' It appears that belonging to this establishment, there was a very useful minister of the church of Rome, who was commonly known as "Our Lady of Kyle's Pardoner," and who seems, like others of the same order, to have perambulated the country for the purpose of vending her acts of grace.(5)

{1 The name means 'Donald's hill' or fort,' and must have been derived froman eminence within its limits surmounted by a stronghold.}

{2 The vast difference between the population in 1801 and 1831. it not all increase. For since 1821, the villages of Troon, Halfway, and Sherralton, were detached from the parish of Irvine, and annexed to that of Dundonald. 1831, these alone contained 2,516 of the population; and, in the census of 1801, they of course do not appear, or appear only in the parish of Irvine.}

{3 Wood's Doug. Peerage, i. 325. Reg. Mag. Sig. p. 83, No. 282. The orthography appears more correct in Robertson's Index, p.33, No.262, where it is Doundovenald.}

{4 This, it would seem, may be fairly assumed from the supplies provided for the royal family here. As Irvine was the nearest seaport to Dundonald, and only a few miles distant from it, there is extant a Compotum of 1396, in which it is stated, that there was paid to the burgesses of Irvine, in different installments for the use of the house of "our Lord the King." for goods in vessels and other utensils, ordered by the King's letters under his own seal, 13 3s. 4d.; and to the officers of the king's house, for their services for that year, 23 18s 8d [Rotul, Compot. ii. 345.] There is another of the bailies of Irwyn, A.D. 1398, for money paid for the proper use of "our lord the King." From the same source, we learn that herrings had formed no inconsiderable part of the provision made tor the royal family. For a charge is stated "for the purchase of six thousand mayse of herrings for the use of the King," A.D. 1402. This Compotum, however, apparently refers to Perth.}

{5 James IV. being at Edinburgh, December, December 8th, 1511, gave gratuity of three shillings to "Our Lady of Kyle's Pardoner." Various instances of his liberality have a prior date. July 6th, 1497, he gave an offering of 14s. in "Our Lady's Kirk of Kyle;" in September of the same year, when he was at "Our Lady Kirk of Kyle," he, by his treasurer, paid 5 for five trentales of masses to be there said for him. - 'Caledonia,' iii. 497, 498.  





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