An article from

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

Published by A.Fullarton and Co. - 1848


RICCARTON, a parish near the middle of the northern verge of Kyle, Ayrshire. It is bounded on the north by the river Irvine, which divides it from Kilmarnock in Cunningham; on the east by Galston; on the south by Craigie and Symington; and on the west by Dundonald. Its length, from east to west, is 6 miles; and its mean breadth is 2 miles. Excepting a moss of about 230 acres, the lands are all arable and well-enclosed; and, in general, are carpeted with a deep clay soil. Limestone abounds; and coal is extensively mined for exportation. Cesnock-water drains the eastern district, partly along tbe boundary and partly in the interior; and, as well as the Irvine, affords good trouting. The only antiquity is a moat, the seat of the judicial executiv in feudal times, situated in the immediate vicinity of the village. The principal landowner is the Duke of Portland. The mansions are Caprington and Skerrington on the Irvine, and Bellfield a little east of the village. The parish is traversed by three roads which diverge southward from Kilmarnock and enjoys all the facilities of communication afforded by its suburban relation to that town. The name of the parish, in its original or uncorrupted state, was Richardstown, or Ricardston, and seems to have been derived from a Richard Wallace, whom tradition declares to have been the uncle of the celebrated Sir William, the patriot, but who probably lived too early to claim the distinguished honour. In the 13th and 14th centuries the lands of Ricardston belonged to a family of the name ot Wallace, or, as the word was anciently written, Waleys. During the reign of Alexander II., and under the second Walter the Steward, Richard Waleys held considerable estates in other parts of Kyle-Stewart, and appears to have been one of the most considerable of the Steward's vassals; and he, very probably, was the ancestor of the Ricardston Wallaces, the first of their property, and the person from whom it derived its manorial and parochial designation. Sir Ronald Crawford, the maternal uncle of Sir William Wallace, had, in this parish, a residence to which his illustrious nephew often resorted, and whence he sallied to perform many of the exploits which fame assigns him in the tales of tradition. The residence is said to have been a tower on the site of the farm-house of Yardsides, immediately west of the village; but it has entirely disappeared, and has left, even in its vicinity, very doubtful memorials. A very ruinous and very humble edifice at the west end of a little row of cottages beside the farm-house is pointed out as the barn which belonged to the tower; and, respectively in the garden and at the entrance to the farm-yard are a pear-tree which Wallace is said to have personally planted, and a very old tree perforated with an iron staple to which he fastened his horse when he visited the tower. —The village of Riccarton is strictly a suburb of Kilmarnock; and, though nominally a mile from it, or really a mile from the centre of the burgh, is almost uninterruptedly connected with it by a long street, and is included within its parliamentary boundaries: see KILMARNOCK. Its site is a rising ground or swell immediately overlooking the Irvine. It is a place of antiquated appearance ; and, since the date of Kilmarnock becoming a seat of manufacture, it has been inhabited chiefly by weavers of woollen fabrics. Its history, as to employment and prosperity, is very nearly a duplicate of that of Kilmarnock, or rather is a subordinate and dependent chapter of the same narrative. In 1638, the village was made a burgh-of-barony. The church of Riccarton crowns the moat at the end of the village; and as it is a modern edifice, and has a fine spire, it contributes a conspicuous and pleasing feature to an extensive field of circumjacent landscape. Population of the parish, in 1801, 1,364; in 1831, 2,499. Houses 356. Assessed property, in 1815, £10,178 Riccarton is in the presbytery of Ayr, and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. Patron, Cunninghame of Caprington. Stipend £241 3s. 9d.; glebe £30. Unappropriated teinds £857 15s. 3d. In 1834, the parochial school was attended by 109 scholars; and two non-parochial schools by 165. Parochial schoolmaster's salary £34 4s. 4d., with £50 fees Riccarton was anciently a chapelry, subordinate to the parish-church of Dundonald; and it followed the fortunes of that church in annexation, from 1229 till 1238, to the short-lived convent ot Dalmulin, and in subsequent annexation to the monastery of Paisley. At some period of the Paisley monks' possession, it was made a parish-church, and treated by them as a vicarage. After the Reformation, it was incorporated with Craigie; but, in 1648, it was disunited from that parish, and honoured with independence.  





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