An article from

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

Published by A.Fullarton and Co. - 1848

Girvan Parish

GIRVAN, a parish on the sea-coast of the district of Carrick, Ayrshire. It is bounded on the north by Kirkoswald; on the east by Dailly and Barr; on the south by Colmonell; and on the west by the frith of Clyde. It measures in extreme length, from north to south, 9 miles; in extreme breadth, 6 miles; in minimum breadth 2 miles; and in superficial area, 19,000 acres. A ridge of almost mountainous hills runs, from the sea not far from the southern extremity, north-eastward through the parish, and sends offspurs, or has parallel elevations on its south-east side. The southern district is, in consequence, chiefly pastoral; yet its hills are for the most part covered with verdure, and, even in instances where they are heathy, they have patches and intermixtures of grass. The diagonal hill-range, as seen from the town of Girvan, presents an imposing and almost magnificent aspect, and sends up its summits seldom less than 900 feet above the level of the sea, and, in one instance, 1,200 feet. The northern division has a considerable proportion of flat ground, but is undulated and beautified with elevations, and, on the whole, wears a tumulated appearance ; yet it is finely cultivated, and rich in the properties of agricultural worth. The soil, though very various, is, in general, a dry light mould, on a sandy or gravelly bottom. The coast-line, upwards of 8 miles in length, is over one-third of the distance bold and rocky, and over two-thirds of it flat; and in the latter and larger part, the beach is strewn with large whinstones, and, at the recess of the tide, is extensively carpeted with sea-weed. Several indigenous brooks rise in the central and southern uplands, and flow respectively to Girvan water, and the sea; the most considerable being Lendal-burn, which joins the sea at Carlton-bay. Another somewhat bulky indigenous brook, called the Assel, flows along the eastern margin, to fall into Stinchar water in the conterminous parish of Colmonell. The climate of the parish is much more moist than that of the inland or eastern parts of Scotland, and moister still in the upland division of it than in the plain. Coal, though abundant in the neighbouring parish of Dailly, does not seem to stretch within the limits of Girvan. Limestone is plentiful in the eastern division, and has for a quarter of a century been somewhat extensively worked. Excellent copper-ore has been found, and is supposed to exist in considerable quantity. Puddingstone is the most plentiful mineral, and, in remarkable congeries, stretches for a considerable distance along the beach. Whinstone, both grey and blue, occurs with sufficient frequency to furnish materials for all the local buildings. A small quantity of gypsum and a valuable bed of shell-marl were at one period discovered. Only a small number of acres is under plantation; and nowhere, excepting a few patches of brushwood, is there any natural forest. Vestiges of five camps are traceable, all near the sea, and one of them distinguished by an encincturing of two parallel ditches. The parish is traversed, along the shore, by the mail-road between Glasgow and Portpatrick, and, along its eastern verge, by a road between Old Dailly and Ballantrae; and it has, in addition, four branch or cross-roads. Population, in 1801, 2,260; in 1831, 6,430. Houses 903. Assessed property, in 1815, 9,796. - Girvan is in the presbytery of Ayr, and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. Patron, the Crown. Stipend 269 12s. 2d.; glebe 12. Unappropriated teinds 347 8s. 4d. Four places of worship in the parish, three of them dissenting, are all situated in the town. The parish-church was built about the year 1770, and was extended by the addition of an aisle about 30 years later. Sittings 830. The United Secession congregation was established in 1815; and their place of worship was built in the preceding year. Sittings 549. Stipend 100. The Roman Catholic congregation consists of a fluctuating population, all Irish; and has for its place of meeting, a school-house rented at 6. The minister or priest resides in Ayr, and officiates here from seven to nine Sabbaths in the year. The Wesleyan Methodist congregation had 20 members 24 years ago; and meets in a Sabbath school-house of its own, built in 1823, at a cost of about 120. Sittings about 200. - According to a survey made by the parochial minister and one of his elders in 1836, the population was then 6,500; of whom about 5,000 belonged to the Establishment, about 1,000 belonged to other denominations, and 500 were not known to be connected with any religious body. - The parochial schoolmaster has 34 4s. 4d. of salary, with 80 fees, 28 10s. other emoluments; and is attended by a maximum of 155 scholars, 40 of whom are poor children taught free. Five unendowed schools are attended by a maximum of 295 scholars; and 3 of them afford a wide range of tuition, including practical mathematics and Latin and Greek. - The church of Girvan, like several other churches in Ayrshire, was dedicated to St. Cuthbert, peculiarly a Saxon saint; and seems therefore not to have been older than the end of the 11th century, when Ayrshire, after the change of the Scottish government, was brought completely under the influence of the Anglo-Saxon settlers. The church was granted to the monks of Crossraguel, and remained in their possession till the Reformation; and it was served by a vicar, under the surveillance of the bishop of Glasgow. In the ancient parish of Girvan which was much larger than the present were several chapels. In the south of it, on an eminence overlooking the Stinchar, about 2 miles west-south-west from the present church of Barr, stood the chapel of Kirkdomine, dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The ruins still remain, and commemorate the name; and they serve also to give a rallying-point and a designation to a great annual fair, called Kirkdomine fair, held on the last Saturday of May. In the north of the parish, on the lands of Cragach, near the coast, upward of 1 mile north-north-east of the town of Girvan, stood Chapel-Donan, dedicated to a Scottish saint, called Donan, of the 9th century. Both this chapel and the former one were, like the parish-church, in the hands of the Crossraguel monks. In 1617, the patronage of Girvan, with other property of Crossraguel, was annexed to the see of Dunblane; but, on the abolition of episcopacy in 1689, it was vested in the Crown. In 1653, the south-east part of the ancient parish, lying on the river Stinchar, was detached and made a part of the new parish of Barr; but, at the same date, Girvan received some accessions of territory both on the north and on the south.

 

 

 

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