An article from

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

Published by A.Fullarton and Co. - 1848

Kilmaurs Parish

KILMAURS, a parish in the district of Cunningham, Ayrshire, stretching north-eastward from Irvine water, which divides it from Dundonald in Kyle, in a belt or stripe between the parish of Kilmarnock on the east, and that of Dreghorn on the west. Its greatest length is 6 miles; its greatest breadth 2¾ miles; and its area about 5,000 acres. The streamlet Gamer is its boundary on the west. Carmel water —here very generally called Kilmaurs water —cuts it lengthways into two nearly equal parts; but makes a debouch to the west, and runs upwards of a mile in that direction, receiving the Garrier in its way, before falling into the Irvine. This stream is of much value for its water-power in driving machinery; yet during a drought or a frost, it becomes almost dry. The Irvine runs on the boundary for nearly 2 miles, contains some salmon, trout, and eel, and offers valuable advantages in its water-power. The surface of the parish is a plain, undulated at various intervals, and in various forms, with knolls and rising grounds. Its little heights are generally tufted with plantation, and give it a pleasant and beautified appearance; and, in many instances, they command delightful prospects of the garden-like ex¬panse of Kyle and Cunningham, —the gorgeous sea-view of the Clyde, —and the fine, and, at intervals, magnificent perspective of far-away hills and mountains on the horizon. About twenty or thirty years before the date of the Old Statistical Account, the parish was naked and unenclosed, utterly destitute of roads, and dotted over with mean, paltry, inconvenient, filthified houses. But so early as the publication of that Account, or several years before the close of last century, all was completely subdivided by ditches and thorn-hedges; and new, regular, and convenient houses, pleasantly situated, and looking snugly out upon a smiling landscape, everywhere gladdened the eye, and suggested ideas of activity, neatness, and wealth. Prime attention —as in most other parts of Cunningham —is here given to the dairy. Coal abounds, and is extensively worked. Craighouse is delightfully situated on the Irvine. Carmelbank stands a mile north-east of the former, on the left bank of the Carmel. Near it is one of those tumuli called Motes, which are believed to have been seats of courts-of-justice. Busby-castle, unroofed and ruinous, stands of a mile north-eastward, on the right bank of the Carmel. The parish is traversed by the Kilmarnock and Irvine turnpike, by turnpikes which diverge from the town of Kilmaurs, and by some other roads. Population, in 1801, 1,288; in 1831, 2,130. Houses 319. Assessed property, in 1815, £11,617. —Kilmaurs is in the presbytery of Irvine, and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. Patroness, Lady M. Montgomery. Stipend £261 1s. 3d.; glebe £10. Unappropriated teinds £699 6s. 10d. The parish-church is said to have been built in 1404, and was repaired and reseated in 1804. Sittings 550. At Gatehead colliery, where there is a population of 167, a home missionary, a licentiate of the Church of Scotland, attends to the religious interests of the parishioners, and preaches in a school-room on the border with Dundonald parish. A United Secession congregation in the town was established in 1738. Their present place of worship was built in 1789. Sittings 450. The minister has a manse and garden The parochial school is attended by a maximum of 85 scholars; and three non- parochial schools by a maximum of 140. Parochial schoolmaster's salary £25 13s., with £33 fees, and £13 other emoluments. The master of one of the other schools —which is situated at Crosshouse —has, besides his fees, £6 from the heritors, and a house and school-house by subscription. —The saint from whom the parish has its name is variously stated to have been the Virgin Mary, or Marie, and a Scottish saint called Maure, who is said to have died in the year 899. The name of the original kirk-hamlet was Cunningham; and this, too, became, from it, the name of the family who held the manor. By the forfeitures of the heir of the Morvilles, the Cunninghams became tenants in capite under Robert I. About the year 1450, they acquired the dignity of Lords Kilmaurs; and in 1488 they rose to be Earls of Glencairn. Their cemetery occupies a place near the church, was erected in 1600 by Earl James, and contains a beautiful but defaced piece of monumental ancient sculpture, to the memory of the 9th Earl, the Lord-high-chancellor of Scotland. The name Kilmaurs superseded the ancient one in the 13th century. The church was given, during the reign of William, by Robert, the son of Wernebald, the progenitor of the Glencairn family, to the monks of Kelso; and was held by them till the Reformation, and served by a vicar. In 1633, when Charles I. erected the bishopric of Edinburgh, he granted to the dean of St. Giles the church of Kihnaurs, with all its tithes and revenues. In 1403 Sir William Cunningham founded at Kilmaurs, and endowed with lands, revenues, and a mill in the vicinity, a collegiate church for a provost, six prebendaries, and two singing boys. After the Reformation the Earl of Glencairn took possession of the property. A chapel, with an appropriate endowment for its chaplain, anciently stood at Busby.  




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