100 Years Ago
(Notes on the way - Through
South of Dalry. The town of Kilwinning
stands on Garnock river, with fine sylvan scenery on its east end
four miles south of Dalry. It is a very ancient place, and presents an
unusually interesting assemblage of
old and new architectural features; is largely a town of shops; has a
Clydesdale Bank and a Commercial Bank; a post office, with telegraph,
money order, and savings bank departments; a public school; Established,
Free, United Presbyterian, Original Secession, and Evangelical Union
Churches; muslin and other textile manufactories, engineering,
ironfounding, blacksmith’s, joiner’s, and builder’s establishments;
a railway station, and the ruins of an old abbey. Population in
1871, 3598; in 1881, 3469.
The building of the Abbey
of Kilwinning was commenced in 1140. During its four centuries
of active existence, down to its abolition at the Reformation, it had
acquired great riches. The last Abbot was Gavin
Hamilton, renowned for the
chivalrous opposition which he made to the Reformation. Having
taken up arms in defence of the unfortunate Queen Mary and the Church of
Rome, he fell in a skirmish at Edinburgh, June 28, 1571. The masonic
lodge of Kilwinning, which is the first or mother lodge of Scotland,
is said to have been founded by the architect and masons who came from the
Continent to build the Abbey. Kilwinning is famous, likewise, for the
perpetuation of ancient Scottish archery, and the fascinating ceremonial
connected with the shootings at the papingo is a little bit of elegant
antiquity well worthy of preservation. James
Glasgow Herald musical critic, and author of a volume of poems, was born
at Kilwinning, 1809. Died, 1863. Principal Robert
Baillie, D.D., known in history as Baillie
of Kilwinning, was born at Jerviston, 1599. After having
taking his degree of M.A. in the University of Glasgow, he received
Episcopal orders, and became parish minister of Kilwinning. At the
commencement of armed hostilities against Episcopacy, in 1637, he joined the
Covenant, and, with sword and Bible, marched with the army to Duns
Law, 1639; bore an able and leading part during the civil war; was
chosen a member of Westminster Assembly of Divines, 1643; Professor of
Divinity, 1651; Principal of Glasgow University, 1661. Baillie’s "
Letters and Journals" lay unprinted for more than a century after his
death, but where utilized to advantage by Woodrow
in history. They were first published at Edinburgh, 1775, in two volumes;
and a more complete edition was published at Edinburgh, 1841, in three
volumes. To students of the stirring periods of Scotch history
(1637-1662), and to lovers of the antique in literature, these volumes
have a strong and curious interest.
Dr. Baillie was great grand-father
to the celebrated Henry Home, Lord
Kaimes. Died July, 1662, aged 63.
village is half-a-mile south of the town. Population, 672.
village, one mile and a half east of the town, has an
Established Church and a public school. Population, 537.
village is not far distant. Population, 318.
village is a mile east of Fergushill. Population, 350. The seat
of Montgreenan, with railway station, is some distance to the north
of these villages. It has a history connected with a branch of the Cunninghams,
sprung from William, fourth , Earl
of Glencairn. Clonbeith Castle
and Monkredding House, in ruins, are a little to the north-west of
The hamlet of
lies one mile and a half up the Dalry Road.
stands one mile and a half south-east, of Kilwinning, on Lugton Water,
in a great park of 1200 .acres, occupying the most southerly part of the
parish and a small portion of Irvine parish. It has been a residence of
the chief family of Montgomery upwards
of five hundred years; was rebuilt in 1798, and makes a large and
elegant specimen of castellated architecture. The ornamental gardens
harmonize in extent and grandeur with the castle and park, and illustrate
beautifully the ,splendid combination of science and art which the modern
gardener has achieved. Hugh, Lord
Montgomery, first Earl of Eglinton,
created 1507. Born 1460. Died at the age of 85, Hugh,
twelfth Earl. Born about 1740.
Entered the army as ensign, 1755; M.P. for Ayrshire, 1784-9, and 1796;
rebuilt Eglinton Castle; representative peer, 1798; peer of the
United Kingdom, with title of Baron
Ardrossan, 1806; began the
construction of Ardrossan harbour, 1806, on which he expended
£100,000; composed Lady Montgomery’s Reel, and other tunes. Died
December 15, 1819, aged 79. Susannah,
Countess of Eglinton, daughter
of Sir Archibald Kennedy of
Culzean. Born 1689. Celebrated for
her beauty and accomplishments; was six feet in height, and described by George
II. as the most beautiful woman in
his dominions; lauded by Allan
Ramsay, who dedicated to her his
"Gentle Shepherd," and by Dr.
Johnson, in his "Tour."
Died at Auchans, Dondonald, 1780, aged 91. Archibald
William, thirteenth Earl. Born
December 29, 1812. August, 1839, gave an entertainment of enormous
magnificence in the grounds of the castle, known as the ‘ Eglinton
Tournament," representing in character the chivalry of past ages.
Jane Georgiana, Duchess of Somerset,
though she had been nine years married, was by general acclamation
selected as the most beautiful woman in the United Kingdom, to represent
the " Queen of Beauty," though we are quite sure she could not
be so bonnie as some of the Ayrshire lassies who milk the Ayrshire cows.
Amongst the brave mailed warriors who entered the lists, as of old, to
compete for her hand was Napoleon I.
As Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
(1852 ,and 1858-9), the Earl acquired great popularity with the Irish,
being perfectly free from the overbearing, distrustful style too
frequently characteristic of English rather than of Scotch officials in
the sister isle. Privy Councillor, 1852; Lord Rector of Glasgow
University, same year: ’ President
of Association for the Vindication of Scottish Rights, 1853; Knight of the
Thistle, 1853; Earl of Winton, 1859. Died October 7, 1861, aged 49. A
beautiful statue of this highly esteemed nobleman has been erected in Ayr.
The principal minerals
which underlie most of the parish are coal, ironstone, fireclay,
limestone, and sand-stone. The coal seams are nine in number, and their
names and dimensions, reckoned from the top downwards, are :-Five-quarter
coal, 2 feet 11 inches; parrot coal, 2 feet’ 4
inches; turf coal, 2 feet 4 inches; wee coal, No. 1,2 feet 2 inches; lady
ha’ coal, 2 feet 2 inches; ell coal, 2 feet 3 inches; stone coal, 2 feet
4 inches; wee coal, No. 2, 2 feet ; main coal, 3 feet. The surface has an
agreeable variation of swells and devexities; nowhere rises to a height of
more than 310 feet above sea level; contains some reclaimable mosses, but
is chiefly in a state of excellent cultivation; and much of it is
beautified and sheltered with green woods. From Penny Burn railway bridge,
north-east to a quarter of a mile beyond Hacks of Auchenmade,
its length is six and a quarter miles; and from Red Burn, in
Eglinton park, to Caaf Water, near Dalry, its widest part is six
miles. Area, 10,989 acres. Population in 1871, 73t5; in 1881, 7137.
Kilwinning is probably the oldest continuous congregation now in
the Free Church, having been formed in 1738 by those who adhered to the
Erskinite Secession of 1733. The controversy over Edward Fisher's Marrow of Modem Divinty had led the Assembly majority to condemn evangelical sentiment in 1720. A campaign of persecution against "Marrowmen" followed which encouraged many in the evangelical party to later secede over the abuse of Patronage. The congregation worshipped at Kilmaurs until 1759 when the present church building was erected at Kilwinning beside the ruined cloisters of the 12th century Abbey. In the subsequent divisions which plagued the Secession the congregation took an
Antiburger stance over the rightfulness of taking the Burgess Oath and supported the
"Auld Licht" view of the Confession of Faith. Years of Union negotiations between the Free Church and the Synod of United Original Seceders floundered in 1932 over the name of the new church and it was not until the Secession disbanded in 1956 that Kilwinning elected to enter the Free Church.