An article from

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

Published by A.Fullarton and Co. - 1848

Maybole Parish

MAYBOLE, a populous and important parish, occupying the north-west corner of the district of Carrick, Ayrshire. It is bounded on the west and north-west by the frith of Clyde; on the north-east by Ayr; on the east by Dalrymple and Kirkmichael; and on the south and south-west by Kirkoswald. Its greatest length, in a straight line, is 9 miles, but by the nearest practicable road is 12; its greatest breadth, in a straight line, is 5 miles, but by the nearest practicable road is 7; and its area is 33¼ square miles. The eastern and south-eastern districts are an undulating plain, very diversified in surface, never subsiding long into a level, nor ever rising into decided upland. The other districts are a sea of heights, partly arable, and partly pastoral, so pleasingly and rapidly diversified in superficial outline as to want nothing but a free interspersion of wood to be delightful rambling-ground to a lover of fine scenery. Along the middle of the hill district, parallel with the frith, and 1½ mile distant from it, stretches a range of summits nearly 2 miles long, attaining an extreme altitude of 924 feet above sea-level, and bearing the name of Brown Carrick hill. This range, though heathy in itself, and rising like a screen to intercept a view of the gorgeous frith and its frame-work from the interior, commands one of the most gay, magnificent, and extensive prospects in Scotland. On the south-east and south stretches the rugged and surgy surface of Carrick, expanding away in alternations of green height and brown bold upland till it becomes lost among the blue and hazy peaks of the southern Highlands of Scotland; on the south-west and west are the broad and brilliant waters of the frith of Clyde, with many a sail like a sea-bird skimming the surface, and the rock of Ailsa riding like an ark on the wave, and with the sublime frame-work of the bold and serrated mountains of Arran veiled in misty exhalations, or festooned and curtained with clouds ot every form and hue; on the north, immediately under his eye, extends the huge sylvan furrow of the Doon, with the monument of Burns glittering like a gem on its edge; and away thence stretches the luxuriant and vast plain of Kyle and Cunningham pressed inward in a long sweeping segment by the frith, gaily spotted and chequered with towns which look like cities in the distance, with a profusion of mansions and demesnes, and with all the adornings of a rich and well-cultivated country, and gliding dimly away in the perspective into the gentle heights of Renfrewshire, overlooked in the far horizon by the blue or clouded summit of Benlomond. The same prospect, in much of its extent and most of its elements, is seen from a thousand vantage-grounds of this arousing and inspiriting land of beauty; but nowhere are its scope so unbroken, its groupings so superb, and its effect upon the mind so exquisitely thrilling. Should any one wonder that Burns grew up on the threshhold of this home of romance, and for many years might have daily gazed on its gorgeous visions, and yet has not made an allusion to it in his writings, he must remember that the bard, though possessing a keen and delighted eye for the beauties of nature, was the painter rather of manners than of landscape, —the type in poetry not of Salvator Rosa, but of Hogarth and the limners of Holland. The river Doon, over 4½ miles in a straight line, but over 7 or 8 along its numerous graceful curvatures, forms the boundary-line on the north-east. But over ¼ of a mile above its embouchure it forsakes its ancient bed, and places a small portion of the parish, a piece of haugh-ground, on its left bank. Along nearly all its connexion with Maybole, it has a deeply-furrowed, dell-like path, profusely and beautifully covered with copsewood and trees. Girvan-water forms the boundary for a short distance on the south-east; and is there a mirthful fine-clad stream. Rannoch-burn, running 2¾ miles westward along an entwisting glen to the sea, traces part of the southern boundary. The interior running waters, owing to the configuration of the surface, are necessarily mere rills: the largest gathers a considerable volume in five or six sources on Brown Carrick hill, and runs in an easterly course of 4 miles to the Doon near Auchendrum. Of four or five tiny lochlets, all lying in the south-east, the only noticeable one is Heart-loch, whose outline is exactly designated by its name, and whose appearance in a wooded hollow, with vegetation coming freely up on the outer surface of its waters, is softly beautiful. Perennial springs of excellent water are numerous, especially on the site and in the vicinity of the town; and one of them, called the Well-trees' Spout, emits a stream powerful enough to drive a mill wheel, or between 160 and 170 imperial gallons per minute. Of various mineral springs, formerly of medicinal repute, but all now neglected, the most remarkable is St. Helen's well, 2¼ miles north of the town on the high road to Ayr, —anciently associated with Popish superstition, and reputed to have the power on Slay-day of healing or invigorating sick or delicate infants. The geological structure of the coast is interesting for its correspondence with the strata of Arran. Nearly 1,000 acres in the parish are planted, about 3,000 are moorland and hill and meadow pasture, and between 10,000 and 17,000 are in tillage. Considerable attention, though by no means so much as in any Cunningham parish, is paid to the dairy. Towers or castles, the ancient residences of brawling feudal chiefs, were numerous, amounting in all to at least 15. -Dunure castle is perched on the brink of a projecting rock, 3 miles south-west of the Heads of Ayr, rises high above the waves, bears evident marks of high antiquity, was formerly surrounded by a ditch and a wall, and presents to the mind a sort of rude and gloomy grandeur Grenand, or Greenan castle, half-way between the mouth of the Doon and the Heads of Ayr, is a tall, gaunt, lanthorn-looking pile, rising nakedly upon the margin of the sea, on a stripe1 of level beach, dunked by a bold bank; and, as seen with the Clyde for its back-ground, it has a haggard aspect, strikingly suggestive of the misery of feudal times. -The castles of Newark, Dunduff, and Kilkenzie, like the two just named, are quite superannuated, yet not strictly ruinous; but, all the others —the castles of Auchendrane, Smithstown, Beoch, Craigskean, Garryhorne, Doonside, Dalduff, Glenayas, Sauchrie, and Brochlock, are much dilapidated, or have left but a few vestiges. -Numerous camps occur, so small and of such rude construction as evidently to have been thrown up by small invading bodies of those Irish who subdued the Romanized British tribes. Tumuli, the burying-places of a field of carnage, are frequent. The whole parish as we shall more fully see in our notice of the town, was, in common with districts around it, fiercely tyrannized over in ancient times by the Kennedies; and exhibits not a few memorials of having been the constant scene of murders, melees, feuds, and crimes of atrocity perpetrated by these despots and their underlings. So vast was the Kennedies' power, and so keen their feudal partisanship, that an old ballad says :—

 " 'Twixt Wigton and the town of Air.

 And laigh doon, by the Cruves o' Cree

You shall not get a lodging there

Except ye court a Kennedy."

Culroy, a clean, rural, little village, stands 3½ miles north of the town on the low road to Ayr. Dunure, the only other village, is small and unprosperous; yet has the character of a sea-port. Its harbour, immediately north of Dunure-castle, is situated on the west side of a small bay, and on a projecting point of land, 7 miles south of the town of Ayr. Round the point of land, the water is from 4 to 20 fathoms deep, with a level, clean, sandy bottom, and good anchorage. From this deep water, a passage is cut 150 feet wide at bottom, through the rock, to a square basin which comprehends from 700 to 1,000 feet of quay. The whole of the basin is completely sheltered by high ground, and screened by lines of buildings forming a square. The access from the sea is easy and safe in almost any wind; and the egress is so facile, that a vessel, as soon as she gets out of the mouth of the harbour, can at any time and at once work to sea. The depth of water in the passage and the basin is 12 feet at ordinary spring tides; but it is capable of being artificially increased to nearly 30 feet. Yet good, and seemingly very valuable as Dunure harbour is —especially on a coast so inhospitable to shipping as that of Ayrshire —it has hitherto, since its construction in 1811, been of small practical use, and has even been allowed to crumble toward ruin. An occasional sloop freighted with lime or bone-dust, and a few fishing-boats, are the only craft which grace it with their presence, or which the inhabitants of the circumjacent country require for their Lilliputian commerce. The parish, besides having some cross-roads, is traversed by three leading lines of road diverging from the town and converging at Ayr, —the coast road wending semicircularly down Rancoch-glen, and along the coast —the high road leading nearly in a straight line, but over very uneven ground, to Ayr, —and the low road running eastward of the former, and used as the thoroughfare of the Glasgow and Port-Patrick mail. Population, in 1801,3,162; in 1831, 6,287. Houses 798. Assessed property, in 1815, £19,716.

Maybole is in the presbytery of Ayr, and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. Patron, the Crown. Stipend £314 6s. 7d.; glebe £30. Unappropriated teinds £70 7s. 2d. The parish-chinch was built in 1808, and altered and improved in 1830. Sittings 1,192. A preaching-station in connexion with the Establishment, and accommodated generally in a barn and occasionally in a school-house, was in 1836, commenced in the district beyond lirown Carrick hill, by the parish schoolmaster, a licentiate of the Established church. Another preaching-station was occasionally maintained by the parish-minister in the village of Culroy. An United Secession congregation was established in the town in 1707; and, in the same year, built a place of worship at the cost of £400. Sittings 555. Stipend £100. A Methodist chapel in the town was, in 1836, occupied once a month as an outpost of the Episcopalian minister of Ayr, but has since been unused by any congregation. Sittings from 150 to 200. The population, according to a survey by the parish-minister and his elders in 1835, consisted then of 5,033 churchmen and 1,329 dissenters, —in all, 6,362 persons. The parish-school, conducted by a master and an assistant, was attended, in 1834, by 156 scholars; and 12 other schools, conducted by 13 teachers, were attended by 605. Parish schoolmaster's salary £34, with from £90 to £100 fees. The present parish comprehends the ancient parishes of Maybole on the south, and Kirkbride on the north. The church of Maybole, anciently dedicated to St. Cuthbert, was given, in the reign of Alexander II. by Duncan of Carrick. son of Gilbert of Galloway, to the Cistertian nuns of North Berwick, whose convent was founded soon after 1216; and continued to belong to them, and to figure ns a vicarage established by the bishop of Glasgow till the Reformation. The entire revenues of the vicarage were estimated in the reign of James V. at only £53 6s. 8d. ; and half of even these was annexed, for some time before the Reformation, to the prebend called Sacrista Major in the collegiate church of Glasgow. At the Restoration, the revenues of the parsonage, the glebe excepted, were held on lease by Thomas Kennedy of Bargany, for the yearly payment of £22, twenty oxen, and twelve cows. In 1451 , a chaplainry was founded in the church by Sir Gilbert Kennedy of Dunure, dedicated to St. Ninian, and endowed with the lands of Lar-genlen and Brochlock. A chapel, subordinate to the parish-church, anciently stood on the lands of Auchendrane: and other chapels, according to a manuscript account of Carrick, by Mr. Abercromby, minister of Maybole at the period, were traceable at the end of the 17th century The church of Kirkbride was given to the same parties as the church of Maybole, and by the same donor, and continued in their possession till the Reformation. The annexation of its parish to Maybole occurred probably in the days of Popery, and certainly before 1597. In that year, the church of Maybole figures as the place of worship for both parishes, and, by an act of parliament, was formally separated from the convent of North Berwick, and established as a rectory. The ruins of the church of Kirkbride, on the shore about half-a-mile north of Dunure castle, are still distinctly observable, surrounded by a burying-ground which continues to be used, and in the vicinity of a field which bears the name of the priest's land or glebe. —In 1371, Sir John Kennedy of Dunure founded, near the parish cemetery of Maybole, a chapel for one clerk and three chaplains; dedicated it to the Virgin Mary, and endowed it with the five mark lands of Barrycloych and Barrelach; the six mark lands of Treuchan, and various other sources of revenue. This collegiate chapel seems to have been the earliest establishment of its class in Scotland ; and afterwards, when similar ones arose, it was called a collegiate church, and its officiates were styled provost and prebendaries. During part of the reigns of James III. and James IV., Sir David Robertson was provost; and, in 1525, Mr. Walter Kennedy, rector of Douglas, canon of Glasgow, and rector of the university of Glasgow, was appointed to the office. The ground on which the town stands, belonged to the collegiate church. Two houses, which were the domiciles of two of its priests, and orchards which belonged to the domiciles of the others, still exist. The church itself is now the burying-place of the Marquis of Ailsa and other parts, whose ancestors arrested the progress of the pile toward ruin; and is surrounded by a planted and neat patch of ground enclosed within a wall.  





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