An article from

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

Published by A.Fullarton and Co. - 1848

Mauchline Village

Mauchline, a village or small town of Ayrshire, the capital of the parish just described, is situated at the intersection of the Glasgow and Dumfries, and the Edinburgh and Ayr turnpikes; 1¼ mile north of the river Ayr; 2 miles from Catrine; 5 from Tarbalton; 6½ from Old Cumnock; 7 from Galston; 10 from Kilmarnock; 12 from Ayr; 30 from Glasgow; and 62 from Edinburgh. Its environs are a delightfully cultivated country, studded with fine mansions. The town is neatly editiced, has a pleasing appearance, and, measured by the bulk of its population, looks prosperous and important. Its charter as a burgh-of-barony having been lost, about 125 years ago, in the conflagration of the Register-office of Edinburgh, it has not re-acquired power to elect its own magistrates. Its peace, however, is well-preserved by a baron-bailie and neighbouring justices of peace. The parish-church, occupying a site in the centre of the town, is highly ornamental to it, and has been pronounced one of the most handsome ecclesiastical edifices in Ayrshire. It is chiefly Gothic, and built of red sandstone; and at the east end it sends up a tower 90 feet in height, and surmounted by turrets. Its predecessor, a lumpish, plain, sombre building, well-known to most Scotchmen, and associated in the minds of many with profane thoughts, as the scene of Burns' 'Holy Fair,' stood for six centuries on the same site, surrounded by the public burying-ground. A lock-up-house, built about 12 years ago, has two cells, but is designed as a place of only brief confinement. The town has a branch-office of the Commercial bank of Scotland; a savings bank; two good inns; far more than enough of ale-houses; a public library; and four schools. Annual fairs, chiefly for cattle, are held on the last Wednesday of January, the 2d Tuesday of May, 17th day of June, the 22d day of July, the last Tuesday of August, the 27th day of October, and the 2d Tuesday of December, all old style; and a horse-race occurs in the end of April. The weaving of cotton goods employs a huge proportion of the inhabitants. In 1828, the town, jointly with Catrine, had 300 hand-looms; and in 1838, it had 175. Mauchline vies with Cumnock and Laurencekirk in the manufacture of wooden snuff-boxes and cigar-cases. The workmen, about 60 in number, are singularly expert in the arts of hingeing, polishing, and painting the boxes, and display a skill which fixes the pleased attention of a stranger. Burns has given great notoriety to Mauchline in his poems, and associated its name, and that of many objects in itself and its vicinity, with some of his most clever, and at the same time most daringly unhallowed pleasantries. The farm of Mossgiel, on which he resided nine years, and which he subleased from Mr. Gavin Hamilton, writer in Mauchline, lies about a mile north-west of the town: see article MOSSGIEL. An old edifice, the relic of the ancient priory, and the residence in Burns' days of Mr. Hamilton, called Mauchline-castle, and situated near the church, was the scene of some of his amours, and contains a room in which he wrote his very profane parody called 'the Calf.' The cottage or change-house of 'Poosie Nancy,' or Agnes Gibson, which was one of his chief resorts in quest of the 'clachan yill,' and the scene of his piece called 'the Jolly Beggars,' stands nearly opposite the churchyard-gate. It was "the favourite resort," says Allan Cunningham, "of lame sailors, maimed soldiers, wandering tinkers, travelling ballad-singers, and all such loose companions as hang about the skirts of society." Separated from the gable of this house, only by the commencement of an intervening lane, stands the public-house kept by John Dow, another great resort of Burns, a thatched plain building of two stories. On a pane on one of its back windows the poet wrote the absurd epitaph on his host, representing Dow's creed to be simply a comparative estimate of the value of his several liquors. The lane which strikes off between these houses is the Cowgate, along which 'Common sense,' or the poet's correspondent Dr. Mackenzie, escaped when a certain minister appeared at the tent. In the churchyard, so painfully associated with the demoralizing images, and in some instances too just satire of our bard's 'Holy Fair,' may be seen the graves of the Rev. Mr.Auld, Nanse Tinnock, and some other persons whom he made the butt of his rhymes. Various scenes of his exquisite lyrics, —pieces in which the effusions of his genius may be enjoyed with less pain and damage to the moral feelings, —occur along the banks of the river Ayr. Population of the town, in 1821, 1,100; in 1831, 1,364.  





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