An article from

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

Published by A.Fullarton and Co. - 1848


OCHILTREE, a parish nearly in the centre of Kyle and of Ayrshire; bounded on the north by Stair; on the east by Old Cumnock and Auchinleck on the south by New Cumnock and Dalmellington and on the west by Stair and Coylton. It is 8 miles long, 5 miles broad, and a little upwards of 24 square miles in area. The surface consists of ridges partly pastoral and partly arable, and of intervening dingles of moss, meadow, and arable land. The ridges generally run from east to west, are of various lengths, and toward the south have an altitude of about 1,000 feet. A thriving plantation, of no great breadth, stretches nearly across the parish parallel with the Ayr road; and this, with the plantations of Barskimming, Auchinleck, and Dumfries-house, in the adjacent parishes, relieves the landscape from coldness and moorishness of aspect. Moss of various depths covers a considerable area, both in the uplands and in the low grounds, generally rests on a yellowish clay, and frequently expands into flow moss or wet bog. The soil, for the most part, is a clayey loam, superincumbent on stiff retentive clay, and, without deep and close draining, it resists the processes of improved husbandry; and even where well mixed with alluvium washed down upon it from the heights, it remains exuberant in rushes, sprets, and kindred vegetation. About two-thirds of the whole area is regularly or occasionally in tillage. Coal and ironstone exist, but are not worked; and freestone is abundant. Marl of an inferior quality has been found; but lime requires to be imported'. There are two lochlets, —one covering about 27 acres, and the other less. The Lugar —running north -westward, and not far from its confluence with the Ayr -traces, for about 2 miles, the north-eastern boundary. Burnock-water rises in the southern extremity, and runs northward to the Lugar at the village. The Coyl, or Coila or Kill, running in the same direction, touches the boundary in some points in the west. Faint vestiges exist of two baronial mansions which belonged to the ancient proprietors of the Ochiltree estate. A ruined square tower lifts its gaunt grey form amid the wilds of the most upland region; "but is unstoried by either document or tradition. The turnpike between Ayr and Cumnock runs across the north end of the parish; and subordinate roads, to the amount of about 16 miles, intersect other districts. The landowners are 10 or 12 in number, and nearly all non-resident: the chief are the Marquis of Bute, and Sir James Boswell of Auchinleck. Population, in 1801, 1,308; in 1831, 1,562. Houses 272. Assessed property, in 1815, £8,782. —The village of Ochiltree is pleasantly situated on the left bank of the Lugar, immediately below the confluence with it of the Burnock. It stands on the Cumnock and Ayr road, 4 miles from the former, 11½ from the latter, and 13 from Kilmarnock. It has about 30 handlooms, employed in cotton-weaving; a considerable trade in hand-sewing, conducted chiefly by young women, and fitted to unnerve them for any other employment or class of duties; a manufactory of reaping hooks; a small trade in snuff-box-making; and a share in the various kinds of artificers' work required by a rural and agricultural population. Annual fairs are held on the second Wednesday of May, and the first Tuesday of November. Population 650. —The parish is in the presbytery of Ayr, and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. Patron, the Marquis of Bute. Stipend £246 10s. 1d.; glebe £15. Unappropriated teinds £172 7s. 11d. Schoolmaster's salary £34 4s. 4½d., with £25 fees, and £11 3s. 4d. other emoluments. In 1834 the parish-school was attended by 115 scholars and 2 private schools by 70. The parish, till 1653, comprehended, in addition to its present territory, what now forms the parish of Stair. In the 12th and 13th centuries it was a rectory, under the patronage of the lords of the manor; but, before 1321, it was granted by Eustace, the daughter and heiress of Sir William Colville of Ochiltree, to the monks of Melrose. In 1530, the barony of Ochiltree was exchanged by Sir James Colville with Sir James Hamilton of Finnart, for the barony of East Wemyss in Fife; and, in 1534, it was exchanged by its new possessor with Andrew Stewart, Lord Avondale, for the barony of Avondale in Lanarkshire. In consequence of the latter exchange, Stewart was, in 1542-3, created Lord Stewart of Ochiltree, instead of Lord Stewart of Avondale. Andrew, Lord Ochiltree, the son of the preceding lord, acted a stirring part in the Reformation, and obtained a grant of all the church-lands and property of the parish, which had been held by the monks of Melrose.  





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