An article from

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

Published by A.Fullarton and Co. - 1848


STAIR, a parish a little west of the centre of Kyle, Ayrshire. It stretches north-eastward and south-westward along the left bank of the river Ayr, and is pent up for some distance, on the south and west, and brought to a tapering point by the Coyle, or Coila, a tributary of the Ayr; and it measures about 6 miles in length by 2 in mean breadth, but is completely cut in two by an intersection of the Ochiltree. The parishes which lie around it are St. Quivox and Tarbolton on the north-west, TarBolton on the north, Mauchline on the north-east, Ochiltree on the east and south, and Coylton on the south-west and west. The whole parish is richly improved, highly cultivated, and of a pleasing and embellished appearance. The Ayr, as it courses along the boundary, is alternately beautiful and picturesque in landscape; and possesses an abundant shading of wood. The grounds of Barskimming in the east, with their elegant mansion, their extensive plantations, their improvements along the river, their bridge spanning the Ayr in a single arch from perpendicular rocks of upwards of 40 feet high, and their numerous elements and groupings of romantic beauty, form a series of minute prospects of unusual and almost profuse opulence. The grounds of Gadgirth-castle, of Stair-house, and of Drongan, and the mansions which superintend them are also pleasingly ornamental. The soil in the small valleys along the rivers is, in general, a stiff clay. The raising of grain and the productions of the dairy are both prime objects of attention. Coal abounds and has long been worked; the well-known Water-of-Ayr stone has been very largely exported; plumbago or black-lead, answering all the purposes of that found in Cumberland, occurs in considerable plenty; and some veins of copper and of antimony exist. The village, or rather hamlet, of Stair, the site of the parish-church, occupies a romantic situation on the Ayr, 2J miles south of Tarbolton, and 5 miles south-west of Mauchline. Two turnpikes traverse the parish, the one south, ward and the other westward. Population, in 1801, 563; in 1831, 737. Houses 98. Assessed property, in 1815, £5,645 Stair is in the presbytery of Ayr, -and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. Patron, the Earl of Stair. Stipend £214 13s. 5d.; glebe £25. Unappropriated teinds £369 17s. 4d. Schoolmaster's salary £30, with about £20 fees, and £2 10s. other emoluments. There is a non-parochial school. —The parish anciently formed part of Ochiltree, and, in 1653, was made a separate erection by the influence and for the accommodation of Dalrymple ot Stair, whose seat was 5 miles distant from Ochiltree church. Of a stipend of six chalders which was settled on the minister, one-half was engaged for by Dalrymple, and the other half was allocated from the old parish of Barnwell, then suppressed and annexed to Tarbolton and Craigie. In 1709 some lands of the original erection were disjoined; but they were compensated by some annexations. The district has given successively the titles of Viscount and Earl to the noble family of Dalrymple; created Viscount Stair and Baron Glenluce and Stranraer in 1690, and Earl of Stair, Viscount Dalrymple, and Baron Newliston in 1703. John William Henry, the 7th Earl, succeeded his cousin John in 1821.  





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