An article from

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

Published by A.Fullarton and Co. - 1848

Mauchline Parish

MAUCHLINE,(1) a parish nearly in the centre of the district of Kyle, Ayrshire. It measures about 7½ miles in length from north to south, from 2 to 4 miles in breadth, and about 24 square miles in area; and is bounded on the north by Craigie and Galston; on the east by Sorn; on the south by Auchinleck and Ochiltree; and on the west by Stair and Tarbolton. Mauchline-hill, forming part of what is culled 'the Long-ridge of Kyle,' and attaining a considerable altitude, rises a little north-eastward of the town, runs in a ridge westward about a mile in the parish, and terminates at Schioch hill in Tarbolton. The ridge commands a magnificent view of nearly all Ayrshire and the frith of Clyde, foiled on the south by Cairnsmuir and other alpine summits of Galloway; on the west by the Paps of Jura towering up behind the bold mountains of Arran; and on the north by Benlomond and adjacent sky-scaling heights looking over the undulating hills of Renfrewshire. Excepting in Mauchline-hill the surface of the parish is, in general, flat, with a gentle prevailing declination to the south. About 340 acres of marshy ground and declivities are covered with wood; a patch of the medium size of a field is moss; and all the rest of the area is arable, fully enclosed, excellently cultivated, and cheerful in aspect. A large tract of land, formerly called Mauchline-moor, exhibits no traces of its ancient condition, and vies with many a naturally favoured spot in its culture, its enclosures, and its belts of wood. The soil, in the vicinity of the town, is light and sandy; in a few localities, is a rich loam; and, over the greater part of the parish, is of a clayey nature. Coal, limestone, and ironstone abound, but are so thin in the strata that they have ceased to be worked. White sandstone, much esteemed for its colour, for the fineness of its grain, and for its durability, is quarried at Deaconbank; and excellent red sandstone, from strata of great thickness, is worked in the vicinity of the town. The river Ayr runs across the south end of the parish, between steep red sandstone rocks 40 or 50 feet high, overhung by wood, and both beautiful and romantic. Of several caves cut out of the rocks, resembling those at Auchinleck, noticed by Dr. Johnson, one bears the name of Peden's cave, and is said to have been a frequent hiding-place of the celebrated Alexander Peden during the period of the persecution. Lugar-water joins tbe Ayr, on its left bank, a little above Barskimming. Cessnock-water runs north-westward through the northern part of the parish. Lochbroom, 2¼ miles north-west of the town, is a lake of 60 acres in area, resorted to by wild geese, and wild ducks, and occasionally by swans, and emitting a streamlet which drives two corn-mills and falls into the Cessnock. Respectively 2 miles north-east of the town and 1¼ mile south of it, stand the villages of Auchmillan and Haugh, —the former with about 40, and the latter with nearly 100 inhabitants. At Haugh is a woollen-factory, employing between thirty and forty persons, and engaged chiefly in spinning yarn for the carpet manufacturers of Kilmarnock. On Mauchline-moor, in
1047, a party of the King's troops were defeated by a party of Covenanters; and their military chest, it is said, was found, many years afterwards, hid on the scene of action. Five Covenanters were martyred in the parish under the reign of James VII., and were
commemorated by a tombstone now substituted by
a recently erected monument —at Mauchline town-head, both bearing the inscription:

"Bloody Dumbarton, Douglas, and Dundee,
Moved by the Devil and the Laird of Lee,
Dragged these five men to death with gun and sword,
Not suffering them to pray nor read God's word:
Owning the word of God was all their crime,
The eighty-five was a saint-killing time."

The celebrated reformer and martyr, George Wishart, was invited, in 1544, to preach in the church of Mauchline; and, on his arrival, he found the place guarded by a party of soldiers, posted there to resist him by the sheriff of Ayr, a heated opponent of the Reformation. Some of the country-people proposing to force an entrance, he dissuaded them, saying: "It is the word of peace I preach unto you; the blood of no man shall be shed for it this day. Christ is as mighty in the fields as in the church; and He himself, when he lived in the flesh, preached oftener in the desert and by the sea-side, than in the temple of Jerusalem;" and he then moved away to Mauchline-moor, followed by a multitudinous assembly, and there preached to them upwards of three hours. —The parish is traversed by the post road between Glasgow and Dumfries, by three other turnpikes, and by several subordinate roads; and enjoys means of easy intercourse with every part of the circumjacent country. Of several useful bridges over the Ayr, one at Barskimming, built by the late Sir Thomas Stiller, and consisting of a single span, 100 feet wide and 90 high, is the most elegant erection of its class, and, at the same time, one of the greatest curiosities in the parish. Population, in 1801, 1,746; in 1831, 2,232. Houses 329. Assessed property, in 1815, £8,216. — Mauchline is in the presbytery of Ayr, and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. Patron, the Marquis of Hastings. Stipend £230 19s. 11d.; glebe £20. Unappropriated teinds £33 3s. 5d. The parish-church, situated in the town, was built in 1829. Sittings about 1,100. There is in the town a place of worship belonging to the United Secession. The parish-school was attended, in 1834, by 182 scholars; and four private schools by 134. Parish schoolmaster's salary £34 4s. 4½d., with £40 fees, and £10 other emoluments. This parish was anciently of great extent, comprehending, besides its present area, the far-spreading territory which now constitutes Sorn and Muirkirk; and, in all its expanse, it belonged to the Stewarts, and formed part of their princely domain of Kyle-Stewart. George Chalmers —whose minute and dry but learned and accurate researches have furnished us with antiquarian notices of many a parish —speaks in so interesting a manner respecting ancient Mauchline, that he must be quoted in full detail. "At the commencement of the reign of William, in 1165," says he, "Walter, the son of Alan, granted to the monks of Melrose the lands of Mauchline, with the right of pasturage, in his wide-spreading forest on the upper branches of the Ayr river; extending to the boundaries of Clydesdale: and the Stewart, also, gave the same monks a carrucate of land, to improve, in the places most convenient; all which was confirmed to them by King William, at the request of the donor. The monks of Melrose planted, at Mauchline, a colony of their own order; and this establishment continued a cell of the monastery of Melrose till the Reformation. In the before-mentioned giant of the lands of Mauchline, or in the confirmations thereof, there is no mention of the church of Mauchline. It is, therefore, more than probable that the parish-church of Mauchline was established by the monks of Melrose, after they had become owners of the territory: and it is quite certain that the church belonged to them. It is apparent that the country which formed the extensive parish of Mauchline, was but very little settled when the monks obtained the grant from the first Walter. This fact shows, that during the reign of David I., and even during the reigns of his grandsons and successors, Malcolm IV. and William, Renfrew and Ayr were inhabited chiefly by Scoto-Irish, who did not supply a full population to the country. The monks afterwards acquired great additional property in the district, and contributed greatly to the settlement and cultivation of it. They obtained ample jurisdictions over their extensive estates of Mauchline, Kylesmure, and Barmure, which were formed into a regality, the courts whereof were held at Mauchline. This village was afterwards created a free burgh-of-barony, by the charter of James IV in October, 1510. Before the Reformation there were in this parish two chapels; the one on Greenock-water, in the district which now forms the parish of Muirkirk, and the other on the river Ayr, on the lands that now form the parish of Sorn. This last was dedicated to St. Cuthbert, and stood a little to the eastward of the present village of Catrine, on a field which is still called St. Cuthbertsholm. The church of Mauchline, with its tithes and pertinents continued, at the Reformation, to belong to the monks of Melrose, who also held the extensive barony of Kylesmure and Barmure, in that parish; and the whole was granted, in 1606, to Hugh, Lord Loudoun. An act of parliament was then passed, dissolving from the abbey of Melrose the lands and barony before-mentioned, and the parish-kirk of Mauchline, with its tithes and other property; and erecting the whole into a temporal lordship to Hugh, Lord Loudoun; and creating the town of Mauchline into a free burgh-of-barony, with a weekly-market and two fairs yearly. The great effect of such grants was only to make one ungrateful, and a dozen discontented. The monks had done fifty times more good to the country than the Loudouns ever essayed. In 1631 the large district which forms the parish of Muirkirk was detached from Mauchline, and formed into a separate parish. In 1636 it was settled that the district which is now included in the parish of Sorn should be detached from Mauchline, and formed into a separate parish; and a church was built at Dalgain in that year; but, from the distractions that followed, the establishment of this new parish was not fully completed till 1602. The parish of Mauchline was thus reduced to less than a fifth of its former magnitude."

{1 The name in the Gaelic, Magh-linne, 'the plain with the pool;' and alludes to the site of the town on a plain traversed by a streamlet, in which are three cascades or linns falling into little pools.}





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