An article from

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

Published by A.Fullarton and Co. - 1848


TARBOLTON, a parish in Kyle, Ayrshire; bounded on the north by Craigie; on the east by Mauchline; on the south by Stair and Coylton; on the south-west by St. Quivox; and on the west by Monkton and Symington. Its length is between 7 and 8 miles, and its breadth about 6. It lies about 5 miles from the sea-coast, and has an aggregate elevation above sea-level higher than the medium height of the county. Its ancient condition was rude and wild, bare, heathy, and blotched with marshes. But though naturally churlish, and abounding in inequalities, it has long since received, through the medium of industrious and skilful cultivation, robings of verdure and mellowing grain, and thriving wood, which render it not only pleasant but ornate. The prime department of industry has long been the management of cattle for the uses of the dairy. The river Ayr, trotting along between picturesque and romantic banks, traces the southern boundary. The rivulet Faile flows through the interior to the Ayr, driving mills, and beautifying the landscape. The chief mansions are Coilsfield, Smithstone, Afton-lodge, Drumley, Carngillan, Enterkin, and Privick. Within the beautifully ornamented grounds of Coils-field are a traditional battle-scene, and a rude stone held in veneration as the monument of the seemingly fabulous personage, "Auld King Coyle." In the vicinity of the village is a mount called Hood's-hill, which seems to have been a Danish encampment and fortification. The parish is traversed eastward by the road from Ayr to Edinburgh, and southward by that from Glasgow to Kirkcudbright by way of Dalmellington and the Glenkens. Population, in 1801, 1,766; in 1831, 2,274. Houses 367. Assessed property, in 1815, £12,890. —Tarbolton is in the presbytery of Ayr, and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. Patron, the Earl of Eglinton. Stipend £244 7s. 9d. ; glebe £4 10s. Unappropriated teinds £753 10s. 7d. The church, and also a United Secession meeting-house, are situated in the village of Tarbolton. In 1834, the parish school was attended by 40 scholars; and three private schools by 163. Parish schoolmaster's salary £29 18s. 10½d., with about £16 fees. —Though the ancient church was twice granted to the monks of Faile, it did not remain with them, but continued to be a free rectory; and, in 1429, it was erected into a prebend or canonry of the cathedral of Glasgow. The present parish comprehends the larger part of the ancient parish of Barnwell, and the whole of the ancient parish of Tarbolton. Barnwell was a vicarage under the monks of Faile; and, lying between Tarbolton and Craigie, was, in 1653, annexed, in separate portions, to these parishes. The church stood a little north of the old castle of Barnwell, and, after the suppression of the parish, was allowed to go to ruin; but it is still commemorated in the names of a mansion and one or two farms. At Faile or Feil, in the Tarbolton section of Barnwell, and on the rivulet of the same name, a convent of Red or Trinity Friars, who pretended to be canons-regular, was founded in 1252. A ford across the rivulet at the place was called Faileford, —a name now given to a locality near the rivulet's embouchure; and a lake in the vicinity was called Lochfaile. Spottiswoode, misled by this clustering of cognate names round one locality, exhibits in his catalogue of religious houses, three several establishments, under the designations respectively of Faile, Faileford, and Lochfaile, the first of which he makes a cell of Cluniac monks belonging to the abbey of Paisley, and the second and the third convents of Red Friars. The three supposed establishments, however, were, in reality, only one. The chief of this convent bore the designation of "minister;" and he was provincial or head of the Trinity order in Scotland, and, in that capacity, had a seat in parliament. The convent possessed 5 parish-churches, Barnwell, Galston, and Symington in Kyle, Torthorwald in Annandale, and Inverchaolain in Cowal. In 1562, Robert Cunningham, the minister, gave up as the rental £174 6s. 8d. in money, 15 chalders of meal, 3 chalders of bear, 30 stones of cheese, 10 young sheep, 3 bullocks, and 24 salmon. William Wallace, who was minister during the reign of James VI., died in 1017; and his son William seems to have considered the monastery, and what remained of its property, as his inheritance. In October, 1690, William, Earl of Dundonald, was served heir of his father in the benefice of Faile or Faileford temporaliter et spiritualiter. The ruins of the convent still exist l¼ mile north-north-west of the village of Tarbolton. An old satirical poem says of the friars of Faile, that they "ne'er wanted ale as lang as their neebors' lasted." —On the 15th August, 1581, when Esme Lord D'Aubigny was created Duke of Lennox, one of the titles given him was Lord Tarbolton.

TARBOLTON, a considerable village and a burgh-of-barony, stands near the centre of the cognominal parish, on the right bank of the rivulet Faile, at the intersection of the Ayr and Mauchline, and the Kilmarnock and Dalmellington roads; 4 miles west of Mauchline, 7 north-east of Ayr, 8 south of Kilmarnock, and 12 south-east of Irvine. It extends over a considerable area, and contains a number of neat houses. The parish-church, with an elegant spire and neat in its own structure, is not a little ornamental. Weaving, in various departments of cotton, woollen, and silk, is carried on to such extent as to have employed, in 1828, 122 looms, —a number which continued in 1838, and which were all plain. The village has a subscription library, two mason lodges, several benefit societies, a horse-race in August, and annual fairs in June and October. In 1671, by a charter of Charles II., it was erected into a free burgh-of-barony, with the privilege of holding a weekly market. Population, in 1811, about 750; in 1821, 1,350. Tarbolton, and its immediate vicinity, abound with reminiscences of the poet Burns. On the farm of Lochlea, in the neighbourhood, he resided from his 17th to his 24th year as an inmate of his father's family. In 1780, the village became the scene of a club which he organized. "The Tarbolton-lodge of Free-masons," to which he addressed a well-known "Farewell," inserted among his works, still exists, and derives from his notice of them a notoriety which men of different views will regard as highly flattering, or as deeply the reverse. His extraordinary piece entitled 'Death and Doctor Hornbook,' is said to have been written after attending a meeting of this lodge, and with the view of hurlesqueing a person of the name of Wilson, who united the vocations of parish schoolmaster and a vender of medicines. Coilsfield-house, ¾ of a mile south-east of the village, is the "Montgomery-castle" of Burns, the waters around which he pathetically desiderated might "ne'er be drumlie," and it was at the time when the bard wrote, the residence of Colonel Hugh Montgomery, who, in 1797, became l2th Earl of Eglinton; and Mary Campbell, the dairy-maid or "byres-woman" at Coilsfield, was the personage whom, primely with the aid of one of the most thrilling of the rich melodies of Caledonia, and one borrowed from uses of a previous damsel of the name of Catherine Ogie, he sang into notice under the well-known name of "Highland Mary." —The small village of Faileford stands l¾ mile east-south-east of Tarbolton, at the confluence of the Faile and the Ayr; and, commanding an ample supply of the famous Water-of-Ayr stone, is the seat of a considerable manufactory of razor hones and strops.  





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