An article from

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

Published by A.Fullarton and Co. - 1848

Kirkmichael Parish

KIRKMICHAEL, a parish in Carrick, Ayrshire; bounded on the north and north-east by Dalrymple; on the east by Straiton; on the south by Dailly; and on the west by Kirkoswald and Maybole. Its greatest length, from north to south, is 12 miles; its greatest breadth is 5 miles and 6 2/3 furlongs ; and its superficial area is 36 square miles. The river Doon Hows for several miles along the northern boundary; and Girvan water, coming in from the east, and taking its leave at the north, flows windingly through the interior. Both rivers are beautiful in their scenery, and valuable in their water-power. Dyrock water, issuing from Shankston loch, runs 4½ miles south- westward to the Girvan at Kirkmichael village, receiving in its way some large tributary rills. Six lakes, one at Kirkmichael. one a mile north-west of Drummore, three in the north-east corner, and one on the eastern boundarv, cover aggregately about 110 acres. The last and largest is Loch-Spulander, not far from being equal to all the others united. The vale of the Girvan is, in most parts, of considerable breadth ; and though not a plain, has numerous patches of level ground, and undulates with a pleasing diversity of gentle outline. All the district west of it is hillocky and swelling, but has not an upland aspect. A surface now level, and now diversified with heights, lies along the north. The parish, in all these districts, has an arable, enclosed, sheltered, and very cheerful appearance. The whole eastern division is of bolder features, rising as it recedes, till it sends up lofty summits, —one of them upwards of 1,600 feet above the level of the sea; yet it is free from naked rock, nearly free from moss and heath, and carpeted all over with fine green pasture. About one-thirteenth of the entire area of the parish is covered with wood, planted and natural, and disposed not in one great forest, but in such detachments as give out features very pleasingly ornamental. Freestone occurs, and is worked in one quarry. Limestone abounds, and is profusely worked. I Shell-marl has been found in small quantities. One hill is supposed to contain lead. Vain searches have been made for coal. On a romantic site overlooking the Doon, and surrounded by large lawns and a wooded demesne, stands CASSILLIS-CASTLE: which see. — On Girvan-water, a little south-east of Kirkmichael village, stands Cloncaird-castle, the property of Henry Ritchie, Esq., once a baronial mansion with a vast quadrangular tower in the style of the 16th century, but now modernized into one of the most elegant seats in Ayrshire, surrounded with pleasure-grounds, and occupying a picturesque site —Upwards of a mile north-west of it, and on the west side of the village, is the large line mansion of Kirkmichiiel-house, the property of Colonel Shaw Kennedy. A mile and a-half south-east of Cloncaird-castle, on the banks of the Girvan, within the limits of Straiton parish, yet flinging all its attractions, and sending most of its charming pleasure-grounds into Kirkmichael, stands the elegant mansion of Blairquhan, the property of Sir David Hunter Blair, Bart. —The parish has very considerably a manufacturing character. An extensive tile-work, a bone-mill, a large saw-mill, a flax-mill, and several corn-mills, exist in various localities. Manufactures apart from them are connected almost wholly with the villages of Kirkmichael and Crossbill. Fifty years ago, hardly a house of these villages existed. Both are large, neat, and clean, and present so agreeable an appearance to the eye, that a stranger would lie far from suspecting them to be the abode principally of poor half-starved hand-loom weavers. Kirkmichael straggles picturesquely along both sides of the Girvan, between Kirkmichael-house and Cloncaird-castle, 3¼ miles east of Maybole, and 10 miles south of Ayr. Around it are finely variegated rising grounds, and beautiful little expanses of plantation; and interspersed with its houses are trees and little gardens. At its north end, on Dyrock water, stands the parish-church, with its romantic burying-ground, encinctured with large old ash trees. Crossbill is situated 1½ mile to the south-west, and 3 miles from Maybole. Its principal part is a long regular street of one-story houses, commencing at the Girvan, running, over most of its length, at right angles with the stream, and then debouching to the north. This street is winged at a little distance with shorter lines of buildings. A brief way from its north side stands its quoad sacra parish-church, a small, unpretending, but neat edifice. At the further end of the street, after its debouch, is the large school-house of the village. Various carriers, either connected with the parish, or passing through from Girvan and Newton-Stewart, maintain communication between the villages and Ayr ajid Glasgow. Numerous females are employed in Ayrshire needle-work. Other females, as well as most of the men, are hand-loom weavers. Crosshill and Kirkmichael are reported by the hand-loom weavers commission to have had, cumulatively with Maybole, 1,700 hand-looms in 1828, and 1,360 in 1838. The fabrics woven are chiefly mulls and jaconets, pullicates, and imitation thibets. The gross average of a weaver's earnings is six shillings a-week. A dark picture of the weavers, and especially of the manufacturers' agents, is sketched in the report of the commission: see MAYBOLE. The population of Kirkmichael, in 1830, was 570 ; and of Crosshill 989. The roads of the parish are ample, and in excellent condition. Population, in 1801, 1,119; in 1831, 2.758. Houses 414. Assessed property, in 1815, £8,745. —Kirkmichael is in the presbytery of Ayr, and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. Patron, the Crown. Stipend £261 4s.; glebe £17. The church was built in 1787, and is in a very good state of repair. The southern part of the parish, including the larger of the villages, was erected in 1839 into the quoad sacra parish of Crosshill. A preaching-station of the United Secession was commenced at that village in 1836; but has since, in a considerable degree, been discontinued. The population, according to the parish minister's survey in 1836, was then 2,856; of whom 2,567 were churchmen, and 289 were dissenters. Of the latter class, 140 were Seceders connected with the congregation of Maybole. The ancient church was called Kirkmichael of Gemilston, and given to the prior and canons of Whithorn. —Parish schoolmaster's salary £34 4s. 4½d., with about £30 fees, and £4 other emoluments. There are two non-parochial schools, both situated at Crosshill.  





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