An article from

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

Published by A.Fullarton and Co. - 1848

Parish of Kilmarnock

KILMARNOCK, a parish in the district of Cunningham, Ayrshire; bounded on the north by Fenwick; on the east by Loudoun; on the south by the river Irvine, which divides it from Galston and Riccarton in Kyle; and on the west by Kilmaurs. It measures, in extreme length, about 9 miles; in extreme breadth, about 5 miles; and, in superficial area, about 5,900 Scottish acres. The parish is traversed in its western division by Kilmarnock water. The surface is in general flat, with a very gentle declivity to the south. The soil is deep, strong, and fertile; but runs a little into a kind of moss toward the north-east. All the area, with some trivial exceptions, is arable. Nowhere, perhaps, in Scotland, has agricultural improvement been conducted with more enterprise, or carried out into happier results. Oats, wheat, and bailey, are raised nearly in the proportions to each other of 23, 5 and 1. Five or six large corn-mills are worked by the water-power of the streams of the parish, and prepare large supplies of oat-meal, both from local produce and from Irish importations for the markets of the west of Scotland. But great attention, as in other parts of Ayrshire, is paid to the dairy, — the produce in cheese alone being about equal in value to that in oats, and double the value of produce in wheat. The whole district is remarkably rich in its agricultural aspects, and has been constantly plied with the skilful assiduities of a local agricultural society, which was formed so early as 1792. Plantations occur around the mansion of Craufurdland, and in some places in the east and north-east; but, in the other and aggregately large districts, they are tamely and coldly represented by nothing better than the hedge-enclosure. The climate is very moist, but is far from being unhealthy. Coal is very extensively worked; nearly three times more being exported than what is consumed in the factories and dwellings of the very populous town and parish. A firm and beautiful white sandstone has long been wrought, and furnishes excellent building material. Fire bricks are to some extent made. The principal land-proprietors are the Duke of Portland, the Marquis of Hastings, Craufurd of Craufurdland, Blane of Grougar, Dunlop of Annanhill, and Parker of Assloss. Dean-castle, the residence of the noble but unfortunate family of Kilmarnock, stands about ½ a mile north-east of the town. It is of great but unascertained antiquity. In 1735, it was accidentally reduced to bare walls and ruin by fire; and, since that period, it has been gradually crumbling toward a total fall. The growth of an ash tree on the top of an arch, and in the centre of the dining-room, was regarded by superstitious credulity as the fulfilment of some random or alleged prediction uttered during the period of the last persecution. The ruin, as seen from the south-west, has still a magnificent appearance, and suggests the melancholy idea of fallen grandeur. Soulis' cross, which gives name to a quarter of the town, is a stone pillar 8 or 9 feet high, placed at the south entrance of the High church, and erected in memory of Lord Soulis, an English nobleman, who is said to have been killed on the spot in 1444, by an arrow from one of the family of Kilmarnock. As it was mouldering to pieces in the latter part of last century, the inhabitants re-edified it by subscription, and placed a small vane upon its top with the inscription "L. Soulis, 1444." Rowallan-castle, situated on the north-west verge of the parish, about 2½ miles from the town, consists of a very ancient tower, in which Elizabeth More, the first wife of Robert II., is believed to have been born, and of large and ornamental additions erected about the middle of the 16th century; but, in all its parts, it is hastening to decay. Craufurdland-castle, 1½ mile north-east of Dean-castle, exhibits a tower of high antiquity, and of great thickness of wall, and a central structure of quite modern erection and of fine Gothic architecture. Besides the large town of Kilmarnock, with its numerous inhabitants, the parish has several collier villages and hamlets, containing aggregately a population of about 1,000. From the town roads, which are kept in excellent repair, radiate in every direction, — amongst others the continuation of the great line of turnpike between Glasgow and Dumfries. The Kilmarnock and Troon railway, which runs off westward from the west side of the town, is of great value for the exportation of coal, and the importation of lime, slates, timber, grain, and other commodities. The railway has a double line, each constructed of flat rails resting on blocks of hard stone, and was completed in 1812 at a cost of more than £50,000. The difference of elevation between the depots at Troon and at Kilmarnock is only 80 feet. A discouraging attempt having been made so early as 1816 to place upon it the locomotive engine, horsepower alone continues to be employed. The annual aggregate of portage is about 200,000 tons. — A branch-line to the Glasgow, Paisley, and Ayr railroad, was opened in March 1843. Its terminus is in Langlands-street, immediately behind the George Inn ; and it joins the main line at the end of the 23rd mile from Glasgow; thereby rendering the distance by railroad to the latter city nearly 34 miles; the length of the branch-line being 10½ miles. Population, in 1801, 8,079; in 1831, 18,093. Houses 1,578. Assessed property, in 1815, £20,175.

Kilmarnock is in the presbytery of Irvine, and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. Patron of the quoad civilia parish, or of the Laigh kirk, the Duchess of Portland. There are three places of worship connected with the Establishment, two of them quoad sacra; and there are eight belonging to various bodies of dissenters, — all situated in the town. — The Laigh kirk was built in 1802, and altered and enlarged between 1827 and 1830. Sittings 1,457. The charge is collegiate. Stipend of the first minister, £145 3s. 7d.; glebe £20. Stipend of the second minister £148 7s. 9d.; glebe £11. -St. Marnoch's church was built in 1836, at a cost of about £5,000. Sittings 1,736. "It is intended," says the Commissioners' Report, "to apply to the presbytery to assign a parochial district to it, when an endowment is got for a minister." — The High church was built by subscription in 1732, at a cost of £1,000. Sittings 902. Stipend £150. An assistant minister has a salary of £80. This church has attached to it a quoad sacra urban parish, ¼ of a mile in its greatest length, less than ¼ of a mile in its greatest breadth, and containing, in 1836, according to ecclesiastical survey, a population of 1,677 churchmen, 1,325 dissenters, and 212 no-religionists, —in all 3,214 persons. Deducting these from the population of the entire quoad civilia parish, there remained, in 1836, according to a survey of the ecclesiastical authorities of the Laigh kirk, 8,957 churchmen, 6,119 dissenters, and 174 no-religionists, —in all 15,250 persons; making a grand total in the parish of 18,464. —A regular town-missionary preaches on the forenoon of Sabbath in the free-school, which accommodates about 150 persons; and in the afternoon in another school-room, which accommodates about 200. Salary £55. -A licentiate, very inadequately supported by subscription, preaches in an old chapel in the village of Crookedholm, 1½ mile from the town. -The first United Secession congregation was established in 1771 ; and their place of worship was built in 1772. Sittings 725. Stipend £140, with a house and garden worth upwards of £20, and £7 sacramental expenses. -The second United Secession congregation was established in 1774. Their present place of worship was built in 1807. Sittings 751. Stipend £120, with a house, and at each sacrament and each meeting of synod £5. —The Relief congregation was established in 1814. Their meeting-house was built in 1832, at a cost of £4,047 12s. 7d. Sittings 1,493. Stipend £210, with £21 in lieu of a manse. —The Original Burgher congregation was established in 1772, and was connected with the Associate Synod till 1814, when it joined the Original Burgher synod. Place of worship built in 1818, at an expense of upwards of £1,000. Sittings 813. Stipend £130, with a house and garden. -The Independent congregation was established in 1824. Sittings in their chapel, 600. Stipend not stated, and a house. -The Reformed Presbyterian congregation was established in 1774. Their meetings, house was built in 1824, at a cost of £1,150. Sittings 730. Stipend about £100, with a house and small piece of ground, and also £10 as the rent of a former manse. -Respecting the congregation of Original Seceders, and the Wesleyan congregation, the Commissioners of Religious Instruction obtained no information. -The academy of the town is conducted by 3 teachers, and attended by a maximum of 303 scholars. The classical teacher is the parish schoolmaster, and has £34 4s. 4d. salary, with £94 15s. fees, and a house and garden. The English teacher and the teacher of writing and arithmetic have each £15 salary, with respectively about £140, and from £192 to £200 fees. Twenty-two non-parochial schools are conducted by 28 teachers, and attended by a maximum of 2,150 scholars. -The saint from whom the parish has its name was St. Marnock, said to have been a bishop or confessor in Scotland, and to have died in 322, and probably been interred in this parish. Yet, though he was the patron-saint of several other Scottish parishes, he is known only by vague tradition, and cannot be referred to either in evidence of the very early evangelization of the country, or as a waymark in the path of its ecclesiastical history. The church anciently belonged to the monks of Kilwinning, and was served by a curate. In 1619, the patronage, then held by Archbishop Spottiswood, was transferred to Robert Boyd, the ancestor of the Earls of Kilmarnock; in the 18th century, it passed to the Earl of Glencairn; and about the year 1790, it was purchased from him by Miss Scott, who afterwards became Duchess of Portland. In 1641, the northern division of the old parish was detached, and erected into the separate parish of FENWICK : which see.  

 

 

 

 

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