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Genealogy Section







The Annuls of Ayr


When the morning of the Reformation broke upon Scotland, there was no part of the country which welcomed it more heartily than Ayrshire.  The shire had long been noted for its Protestant sympathies.  The Lollards, whose name had been associated with Kyle for several generations, had done much doubtless to leaven the popular mind. In 1545 George Wishart visited Ayr, preached at the Cross and "made so notable a sermon that the very enemies themselves were confounded."  In 1556 John Knox travelled through the district, preaching in the houses of Bar, Kinzeancleuch, Cairnhill, Ochiltree and Gadgirth, and in the town of Ayr. In the spring of 1559 events came to a climax. John Willock, once a Franciscan in the town, but now a Protestant, appeared within the burgh, took possession of pulpit of St. John's Kirk, and preached openly from there the doctrines of the Reformation.

There was at this time in the west country no stouter champion of the ancient church than Quentin Kennedy, the Abbot of Crossraguel.  To him accordingly in this crisis, James Beaton, Archbishop of Glasgow, wrote instructing him to proceed to Ayr and quell the commotion.  The reply of the Abbot is extant, and supplies us with a graphic account of what transpired. "Please your Lordship to witt" (know), he begins, "according to your wrytting, sent to me with the Prior of the Black Friars, I passit on Pasch (Easter) evin till Air, and thair remainit aucht days.  Afoir my cuming Wi1lok had prechit with intolerabill exclamatiouns, cryand out on the mess (mass).   I persaivand the peple abusit in this maner, I was constreinzit (constrained) on my conscience to oppone myself to this wickit lymmaris (villain's) heresie and doctrine, and causit my writings to be maid manifest to all the honest men of the town.  Schortlie thair wes diverse writtingis past amangs us."  But this discussion by correspondence proving unsatisfactory, it was resolved that the two heroes should meet face to face and argue the matter out.

Willock proposed that the conference should be held in St. John's Kirk, "because," said he, "I do teache my doctrine oppinlye before the pepil thair." To this, however, the Abbot objected, and the town-house of the Laird of Cairnhill was chosen instead.  It was agreed also that neither of the disputants should bring with him more than twenty-four friends.  But the conference was not to be.  On the day appointed Kennedy appeared at the named, accompanied by several religious men and others of his party.  Willock had arrived before him, and with him were four or five hundred to fortify him.  Afraid of a tumult, the Abbot was content to withdraw. He declared that Willock had broken the terms of their agreement, declined to confer with him, and took a legal protest against his conduct.



It has been generally supposed that in early times the mouth of the Doon was much nearer Ayr than at present, and it is conjectured that originally the stream found its way into the sea by two channels, the main estuary passing through the grounds about Blackburn House, and the other entering the bay as at present. The lands of Cunning Park, being thus enclosed by water on all sides, were called the Isle of Cunning Park. But although this name was still given them in the period with which we are dealing, the northerly channel of the Doon had disappeared, and the river flowed into the sea as it does now. The southern boundary line of the burgh ran up the Curtecan burn, which must at one time have been a tributary of the Doon, joining it about Belleisle bridge.

Between the Curtecan and the town lay a stretch of moorland, known as the Burrowfield. On its eastern side stood the ruined Chapel of St. Leonards, on the west was the little property of Bridgehouse. On the moor itself there were no houses, and the ground being marshy in many places, part of it was sometimes called " the foul muir." There was no regular road across the common, but only devious tracks. On the side known to-day as the Knowe stood the gallows of the town.

All along the shore, from Blackburn to the harbour mouth, lay a range of sandhills. The injuries suffered by the burgh through the blowing of the sand were very great. The fabric of St. John's Kirk and the walls of the harbour were in constant need of repair, the graves around the Kirk were frequently upturned: and any arable land in the vicinity was rendered unfit for cultivation. The Sandgate was particularly exposed to the fury of the blasts. Half a century ago the traces of a buried house were discovered eight or ten feet beneath the surface of the street. It was not till 1725 that the sandhills were levelled, and this source of annoyance and danger effectually removed.

The town at this period of its history, say in the middle of the seventeenth century, was guarded by four Ports. There was the Carrick Port at the head of the Sandgate; the Sea Port at the western end of the Boat Vennel; the Bridge Port on the northern extremity of the Old Bridge, and the Kyle Port a little above the Wallace Tower.

In attempting to describe the appearance of the town and to give some account of its older buildings, we shall begin on the seaside and travel round to the other.

The Herbery or Harbour is a feature of the town which meets us frequently in the pages of the old Records. In former times there were two quays, both on the south side of the river, the one just below the Ratton hole, and the other lower down. Not till 1677 do we hear of a bulwark on the north side. Large sums were expended on the maintenance of the Harbour. The "auld wrackis of shippis " that lay within it, together with the violence of the storms, were detrimental to the walls.

      The Harbour expenses were mixed up with those of the Bridge, and the impost known as the "Brig Penny" was used to pay them. We give the terms of this levy, as laid down in 1588:

        Every horse and mare,                                                        2d.
        Every ox and cow,                                                             6d.
        Every sheep,                                                                     2d.
        Every lambe,                                                                     1d.
        Every pack of wool,                                                            2s.
        Every horse-pack of skins and claith,                                     2s.
        Every dacker (dozen) of hides,                                             12d.
        Every ship with top, at their incoming within the harbery,          13s 4d.
        Every barque exceeding 20 tons,                                           6s 8d.
        Every boat,                                                                       3s 4d.

And sua forth (so forth), offearand ane equivalent of goods and merchandise that beis brought and passes by the said Bridge, and bought in the said mercat." Above the Harbour, on the site of the Fort Castle, stood the Kirk of St. John. It was built in the form of a cross, and but for the tower the Old Church resembles it closely. The tower which is all that remains of the old building stood at the west end. It was originally crowned with two triangular gables, but these were removed in 1784. The belfry contained two bells, a great and a small. Round about the Kirk was the Kirkyard, which covered about an acre of ground.

When the soldiers of Cromwell had taken possession of St. John's Kirk, they surrounded it with fortifications, The expense incurred was so great that when the account was presented to Cromwell he is said to have asked whether they had been built of gold. The whole area enclosed by the walls measured no less than twelve acres. The form of the buildings was hexagonal with bastions at each of the angles. The two walls, facing the sea and the town respectively, were longer than any of the others. At high tide the base of the sea curtain was washed by the waves. The wall which fronted the town was protected by a deep trench. Within this wall stood the main gate, and in a recess above the gate were sculptured the arms of the Commonwealth.

At the Restoration in 1660 an order for the dismantling of the Citadel was issued by the Privy Council, and the fencible men of the town were called out to demolish the walls. In 1663 it was made over to the then Earl of Eglinton, and by the same charter was created a free burgh of regality, under the name of Montgomerieston. We have seen that in 1687 St. John's Kirk was purchased by John Moore and others, and converted into a Presbyterian place of service. The stones of the Church were afterwards employed in erecting a steeple on the Tolbooth, and when the steeple was taken down they were used in building part of the wall along the Racecourse Road between the road and the Blackburn estate.  


In 1663 an Act of Parliament was passed, calling upon all public officials to abjure the Covenants. This Declaration, as it was styled, eight of the Town Council refused to sign. The second charge was filled in 1664 by the appointment of George Whyte, one of the so-called "curates." The Magistrates were now the patrons, but "wishing to show the inhabitants that they intend to doe all things in love and calmness," they convened a meeting in the Tolbooth.

The people were asked if they had anything to object in Mr. Whyte to which "the maist part said they only wished a farder hearing of him, but several cried out they could not condescend to him nor no other, becaus the place was sufficiently furnished by two ministers, lawfullie established who were yet in lyf." The harshness of Mr. Eccles' deprivation was evidently still fresh in their minds. Mr. Whyte's appointment was unpopular, and he never afterwards appears to have secured the sympathies of the people. The meetings of Session over which he presided were attended by scarcely any of the elders. As a rule there were only himself and the Session Clerk. The minute most commonly occurring begins thus: "Apud Air: presentibus Master George Whyte, minister, and the Clerk." And there is a still quainter proof of the disfavour in which he was held. A later Clerk objected to see him styled "minister" in the minute-book: and wherever "minister and " occurs, as in the extract above quoted, he has changed it with thick strokes of the pen into " togither with!"

In 1665 the struggle between the Covenanters and the Government entered upon a new stage. The Covenanters, goaded beyond endurance, decided to take up arms. In point of numbers they were more than two thousand, but in fighting strength far inferior to the Royal forces. When the two armies met in the Pentlands at Rullion Green, the insurgents were driven from the field. A hundred of them were taken prisoners, and tried in various parts of the country. Ralph Shields, a merchant of Ayr, was hanged in Edinburgh. In Ayr itself, at the close of 1665, a Commission of the Privy Council held a Court of Assize. Twelve of the prisoners were arraigned, and all found guilty. Two were sentenced to be hanged in Irvine, two in Dumfries, and the remaining eight in Ayr. Fearful of a rising, the Government planted in the town a strong detachment of soldiers. John Moore, a leading burgess, of whom we shall hear more anon, protested against this measure in the name of the inhabitants, but without effect. The execution was fixed for December 27th.

But as the day approached an unexpected difficulty arose. The hangman of the burgh was unwilling to officiate, and left the town. The authorities sent for William Sutherland, the hangman of Irvine, to take his place. But this man was a Covenanter himself, and objected to perform the work. He was put in the Tolbooth, and Mr. Whyte, the curate, sent to overcorne his scruples. " Do ye not know," he said, " that thir men are guilty of rebellion? " But argument and entreaty were alike fruitless, for the hangman would not be convinced. At last Mr. Whyte lost patience. " Away with thee," he cried, "the devil is in thee, and thou hast dealing with familiar spirits." The recalcitrant was next brought before the Council, but persisted in his refusal to act.

What followed may be told in his own words. "The Provost of Ayr, when he saw me altogether refusing, he rounded in my lug, "What! are you afraid of the country folk? I shall give you fifty dollars, and you may go to the Highlands or where you please." I answered him, speaking out loud that all might hear, "What! would you have me sell my conscience? Where can I flee from God? Remember Jonas fled from Him, but the Lord found him out and ducked him over the lugs: so shall He me, if I go over the light of my conscience!" Then I was taken away and put in the stocks."

The Council were in a dilemma. But a way out of the difficulty presented itself. They offered to grant any of the prisoners his life who would consent to act as executioner to the rest. One man, Cornelius Anderson, a tailor in Ayr and the only Ayr man among them, was base enough to accept the offer. "On the day appointed," says Wodrow, "his heart was like to fail." But the provost plied him freely with brandy, and thus primed he did the work. Shortly after, we are told, he died in distraction.

The seven martyrs are interred in the Old Churchyard. They were by name James Smith of Old Letham; Alexander M'Millan of Carsphairn; James M'Millan of Mondrogat; John Short of Dalry; George M'Kertney of Blairkenny; John Graham of Midtoun; and James Muirhead of Irongray. In 1814 a stone was erected to their memories by the Incorporated Trades of the town, It bears upon its back these lines, which are perhaps modern, but have all the flavour of the Covenanting age.


   Here lie seven Martyrs to our Covenants,
   A sacred number of triumphant Saints,
   Pontius M'Adam the unjust sentence passed,
   What is his oun the world will know at last:

   And Herod Drummond caused their heads affix,
   Heaven keeps a record of the sixty-six,
   Boots, thumblihis, gibbets, were in fashion then,
   LORD, let us never see such days again.


Who the M'Adam here mentioned was we do not know. The Earl of Rothes was the presiding judge. Drummond was the Lieutenant-General of that name, afterwards Viscount Strathallan. General Dalziel now established himself in Kilmarnock, and various bodies of soldiery were set down throughout the shire. Four hundred and fifty troopers were quartered in Ayr, and the town commanded to make provision for their wants. Newton Castle was chosen as the garrison, and the magistrates resolved " to buy or borrow two furnished fethir beds with bolsteris, cods (pillows), sheits, coverings, blanquets, and curtains." This detachment remained in the town for seven months. In the day-time they scoured the country in search of fugitives: in the evening they returned from their ravages.



The messenger who was sent to bring Mr. Goodman to Ayr was one Richard Bannatyne.  He was John Knox's secretary, and a native of the town; and in all probability had been largely instrumental in directing the current of events.  When Goodman arrived he was received with acclamation by the people.  The liberality of the Town Council knew no bounds.  Curtains were made for his amber. Silver was given him. A "gowning" was ordered for his use, and a new Bible put in the Kirk.  No minister in Ayr, we fancy, has ever since been so lavishly cared for. The following are items of the town's expenditure :-" For blak to be claithes to ye minister-4."  "For ane coatt of French blak to ye minister-3."  "For black silk buttons to ye minister's coat-5s."  "Given to the minister by (buy) him sarks-3." had this state of matters lasted long, Mr. Goodman would probably have been smothered with clothes and kindness.  But in 1560 he received a call to St. Andrews. Thither he "raid" away with Richard Bannatyne, and we hear of him no more.  He had been the first Protestant minister of the town, and he was the first to celebrate the communion in St. John's Kirk, according to the rites of the Reformers.  In the treasurer's accounts for 1559-60, there are discharges for "quheit (wheat) breid," and "wyne to ye communioun."

Between 1560 and 1568 there was no settled ministry in Ayr.  During that period there were few qualified clergy to be had, and the churches throughout the country were chiefly served by a staff of itinerant readers and exhorters. Amongst the readers in Kyle was Richard Bannatyne: while John Willock, now promoted to be superintendent for the west, was another who would doubtless take a lively interest in the welfare of the Kirk of Ayr. In 1562 John Knox visited the shire to cross swords with the Abbot of Crossraguel, and amongst those who subscribed a bond for the maintenance of the reformed religion was " Michael Wallace, provost of Ayr, with fortie more of the honestest burgesses of that town."  It was proposed on this occasion, as in 1559, that the debate between the two divines should take place in St. John's Kirk; but the abbot demurring as before, it was held in Maybole.

In 1567 the Parish of Ayr was erected into a collegiate charge, and in the year following James Dalryrnple was appointed minister.  Since 1560 he had been one of the readers for Kyle, and he entered the parish with a stipend of 100 Scots. At this point it may be proper to indicate what became of the endowments of the ancient church.  Their history is to some extent wrapped in obscurity, but certain facts are known.  In 1565 the lands of the Black Friars, mills, fishings, houses, etc., were set in tack for nineteen years by Queen Mary to Charles Crawfurd, one of her "gentillmen servandis."




The recreations in which the people indulged are another interesting feature of the social life of the times. There were public sports which were encouraged and promoted by the magistrates. These were held for the most part in what we now know as the Low Green. The grass of the common from the Kirkyard (St. John's) dyke to the Blackburne" was let for pasture, but always on the understanding that  "the pastyme of the honest men in gayming" should be reserved according to use and wont. There it was that the wappinschaws or displays of skill in arms were yeaily held. The earliest of such competitions was in archery. Butts stood on ground " besouth of the sandhills " for common practice, and at the annual wappinschaw a papingo was erected. This was a wooden bird, resembling a parrot, which was set on a high pole and shot at by the archers. The papingo was daily bedizened. In 1594 the Magistrates spend 5 on " Taffetic for the beird (beard) of the papingoe." The bow was ultimately superseded by the hagbut or gun. In 1598, at the request of the youth of the burgh, "ane silver hagbut about ane ounce weight or thereby" is presented by the Town Council to be shot for yearly. The good marksman in these days was a useful member of society. It was laid down, however, that rifle-practice should not take place on the streets. There was to be "no shuting and dilashing (discharging) of hagbuts and pistolettis on the foregait."

Another of the pastimes of the people was golf. There is only one reference to the game in the Council Records, but it goes to prove that it was a common recreation. In 1587 Andrew Blackater was "apprehended reid-hand with reseting of ane gad of irn (iron-club) fra David Ingrames buyth dure and certain goff ballis." Other games are incidentally mentioned. There was football and "catching of the ball:" "barley-breaks," which was played among the stacks of a cornyard, and means probably " breaking a parley:" "tig-about," some kind of tig: and " wadds," a game of forfeits.

The administration of the law was in the hands of the Town Council, but they were zealously aided, as we shall see later, by the authorities of the Church. Full power was delegated to the Magistrates to adjudicate on cases of slaughter, mutilation, theft, and other offences committed within the burgh, and the townsmen were exempted from attendance upon any other court.

The Provost and Bailies in these days did not bear the sword in vain. It was a dangerous thing to dispute their authority. In 1662 a riot took place in the town, and the rioters, after having been imprisoned for some time, were ordained " to come from the Tolbuith to the mercat croce upon ane mercat day, bair-foted with ane cord about everie ane of their neks, led be the hand of the hangman with ane paper upon everie ane of their foirheids, beiring this inscription, viz., for john Cauldwell (the ringleader), beiring thir words, "Beholders tak example. Feir God and obey your Lawful Magistrates:" and the rest with this inscription, "For Mutinie and Disobedience to Magistrates."

The lockman or hangman was a very important, but at the same time a very unpopular personage. In 1595 it was enacted "that nane injure the lockman in word or deid." When the Magistrates held an assize, he attended in an official capacity, and after the sentence had been pronounced, he was called upon to repeat it in the court. It was his duty to see that it was duly carried out. His emoluments are given us in a minute of 1674. He had "ten pund of yearly pension, five merks for cleansing of the calsey (causeway), ane long coat, ane pair of breaches, ane pair of hois, ane pair of schoes, ane groat of ilk brewar, with ane hous and ane yeard, twelve shillings quhen any sail be put in the jogs: half ane crown for whipping; and three pund for ilk execution."

We shall deal with the in the minor offences that were common in the town when we come to describe the ecclesiastical life. Of graver crimes the two most frequently occurring were assault and theft. At the beginning of our period cases of the former are numerous, but as time goes on they diminish. The offenders were visited now with fines, now with incarceration, and again with confinement in the stocks. The stocks stood in the Sandgate close to the Tolbooth.  The prevalence of theft gave the Magistrates greater trouble. Thieves, pykers, and cutpurses were constantly in evidence. They became so common at the close of the Sixteenth century that the severest penalties were inflicted. A resetter of stolen goods was banished from the town, and informed that if she returned she would be "drownit to ye deith." In 1589 a man was proved to have stolen " three great pocks full of quheyt (wheat) from a bark, a greit sek (sack) full of quheyt, three peks quheyt mair, and ane hogheid of hering." By a majority of votes he was sentenced "to be hangit to ye deyth." A minority pled for "mercy." They urged that instead of being hanged the man " suld be scurgit, brunt on the cheyk, his lug nalit to ye croce, and baneist ye toun." Truly in these days the quality of mercy was strained.

The sentences passed on thieves became gradually less severe. By the close of the seventeenth century scourging was the penalty commonly inflicted. But this, it should be added was no trifling punishment. In 1690 a thief who had been convicted of stealing "bear" or barley was sentenced to be scourged after this manner. He was "to begin at the Sandgate, there to receave six whips by the lockman, six at the Mercat Cross, six at the Brigend, six at the Meall-mercat, six at the Old Tower, six at the Barnnsgate, and to be returned back to the Bridge Port and there to receave other six." Such were the stringent measures by Which the law was enforced. The transgressor was not released from its clutches till lie had paid the uttermost farthing.  


But about the beginning of the next century the pest again drew near. In 1600, it is said, two pedlars came to one of the Ports and asked permission to enter. John Welsh, who was then assistant minister, chanced to he on the spot, and suspecting them to be tainted, "Baillie," he said, cause these men to put on their packs again and be gone; for if God be in heaven, the plague is in these packs."

The men thus repulsed went on to Cumnock; but they had not been long in that place before the pestilence broke out among its inhabitants, and raged so fiercely that " the living could scarcely bury the dead." Another source of danger lay in the goods which were imported by sea. In 1602 a vessel sailed into the harbour, laden with hides. She had come from Ireland which was then plague stricken.    For some time neither crew nor cargo were admitted into the burgh. They remained in quarantine under the sandhills until the moon had changed. Then having cleansed the hides, and having washed themselves and changed their garments, they were suffered to enter the town.

At length, however, the dreaded catastrophe occurred. In the summer of 1606 the disease broke out in the burgh. A public meeting was held in the Tolbooth, partly for humiliation before the Almighty, who had "plesit to veseit this sinfull toun with the seikness of ye pest, justlie deservit for ye sinnis thereof," and partly to devise remedial measures. That part of the Burrowfield known as "the foul muir " was set apart for those who were actual victims, or who were under suspicion. Booths and lodges were erected for the sufferers, and great caldrons set up for cleansing " the foull geir." Any that left the moor without permission were to be consigned to the stocks, or " brunt with ane bait irn on the chyk." Victuals and coals were sent out to the booths, and what is still more curious and characteristic of the age, the morals of the patients were strictly supervised. The officials who attended to the caldrons were to see that there was no impropriety in speech or behaviour among the sick people "under ye pane of deid."




The little gardens which lay at the back of most of the houses were largely subject to the ravages of stray poultry. In 1690 a protective resolution was passed. Considering the damage done " through coks and hens going upon thack houses and taking and destroying of the thack with their feitt, beiks, and likeways through their going and fleeing into yeards and spoiling and ryving up the ground thereof where seed are now sowen; and likeways the great dammadge they sustine through geese, their poysoning and destroying of the gress that noe uther beasts can eat the same, therefore the Magistrates and Counsell doe hereby discharge the haill inhabitants of this burgh to keep any hens, coks, or  goose in tyme coming, except what they keep within cavies or in other hennies within their house."

Similar precautions, it may be added, were taken with regard to vagrant dogs. Any that were found on the streets after eight o'clock at night were ordered " to be hangit.

The town in these early days was not remarkable for its cleanliness. The authorities were constantly passing enactments that the streets should be kept in better order. " Middings, intrallis of beasts, and fishguts " were thrown indiscriminately upon the causeway. The consequence of this state of matters, which was common everywhere else, was that towards the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century a plague devastated the chief towns of the comity. It was apparently a form of typhus, and very deadly.

About 1585 it broke out in Johnston, and the Ayr Magistrates began hurriedly to set their town in order. The Ports, which had become ruinous were repaired, and the vennels and back-dykes closed tip. No "traveller, cadgear, or creilinan (packman)," was permitted to enter the town. Any who came in otherwise than by the Ports were to be scourged and branded on the cheek, while any suspected as infectious might there and then be " hangit to ye deyth." The town was divided into several quarters, each being under the supervision of a quarter master, and a nightly watch was maintained at the several Ports.

Through the observance of such precautions the plague was warded off for several years. The Magistrates learned thus the value of sanitation, and the conditions of life became somewhat cleanlier. Formerly swine had been permitted to roam over the town, picking up a living from the garbage-heaps. Now they were forbidden to go about at large, and if caught in the act were to be slain. The "middings " on the streets were not permitted to lie longer than forty-eight hours. It was ordained that they should be removed to the hills " for quensing and stainching of the blawing of the sand." In 1590 a regular cleaner was appointed who went round the town with ane strong and substantious quheil-barrow."



The Session "ordayned ane scat to be chosen in ye kirk quhairin James Harper, chirurgeon, shall sitt on Sabbath dayis and uther dayis, convenient that he may be fund easilie quhen any hes adoe with him, without truble ather to ye minister or heareris of the Word." The surgeon acted also as the common barber. In 1608 the Magistrates forbade all others " to schaiff or poill (poll) ony persoun within the burgh but onlie ye said James, he beand ressonable and also gude chaip for his panis (pains)."

The hours of labour and rest were regulated by the Magistrates. The hour of rising was four in the morning, while work was put aside at six at night. The signals were given by two common minstrels, the piper and drummer. These officials were paid to "gang dayly ilk day through the toun, evening and morning, and gif they failzie (fail), they to ressav na meit that day they gang not; sua (so) being that they be not stayed be (by) the intemperatness or the weddir."

Since the time of William the Lion, Saturday had been kept as the market day. But in 1690 it was changed to Friday, Saturday having been found unsuitable because of "peoples aither staying lait in the burgh, or going home unseasonablie and unfit for ye work of the ensewing Sabbath." There were two annual fairs in the town, the one in Midsummer at the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, and the other at Michaelmas. Each lasted for a week, but the former was the more important.

The price and quality of food in these times were regulated by the Magistrates. The "penny laif" it was ordained in 1589, was to contain twelve ounces, "and na uther kind of material but quheit to be used in baking." Shortbread, it was fixed later, was "to be weill and sufficientlie bakin with buttir, to contein fourteen unce, ind to be sauld for 12d., and na dar (dearer). Ilk pek thereof to haif (have) in it ane pund of buttir, and to be bakin of clene flour without ony mixtor of uther cornis."  Cakes of flour and oatmeal were another common article of diet. The hucksters were instructed to " mak the kaik of bread of sufficient clean meill, but (without) dust or seids, to be sauld at threttie pennies the caik, quliilk wilbe ten pennies the fardle."  The fleshers exposed their meat in their various shops, as at present, and one of the Bailies went round the town " serching out of ye blawne flesclie." The common drink of the people was ale, and the best ale was "to be sauld for 12d., and na dar, ye pynt."

Even in the matter of dress the Magistrates had something to say. In 1610 an Act was passed foibidding single women to dress like those who were married. They were " not to were ony kynd of busk or attyre upon their heids, but only curcheyis (kerchiefs) with hingand (hanging) down lappis, sua (so) that thai may be decernit fia maicit woman, under the pain of aucht dayis warding in the Tolbuith." Matrons only, it would appear, were permitted to indulge in a mutch or a bonnet.

How the men were dressed we may gather from this inventory of date 1600. The burgess in question was evidently a person of quality. He had ' ane clok of Loundan (London) broun claith, lynit with taffatie in the breist, with three passments (strips of lace) about: ane doublet of grogram (coarse silk) taffatie, with ane pair of figourit



(embroidered) velvet breiks; ane coat all passmented  thicker; ane pair worsit schankis (stockings) with gartanis;  ane hat and ane string ; ane sark and ane sark neck (collar)  of cainbrage (cambric) with sewit naipkin (cravat), and ane bonnet mutche (night-cap)." Then comes his armour; "ane hagbut (gun), ane sword, ane pair of pistollets, ane jak (short coat of mail), ane steil bonnet, ane sadell, ane brydell, with the stirrep irnes (irons); girthes, curpell  (crupper), and tie; with buitts and sacks (leggings), and spurris.

"In these stirring times weapons were a necessary part of a man's outfit. He seldom went abroad without his sword or his heavy staff. But, as time went on, it was found necessary to suppress this practice. The Magistrates, in 1609, forbade the citizens "to bere or weir ony battoun or gugeon (cudgel) of tymmer for strykin, abusing, or invading therewith of ony nybor."

The furniture of the houses was not elaborate. The kitchen was generally the chief room and contained most of it. Here is the description of the house of a well-to-do burgess in 1596. There is no luxury about it, but it breathes an air of comfort and warmth. " Ane meit armorie (safe), ane court-buird, ane lang setil-bed, ane mekil greit kist, ane irin pott, ane irin chimlay (grate), ane cruik, ane tangis, ane chair, ane spinning-quheil, ane girdill, ane lattoune pekill (brass vessel), ane flesh fat (pot), ane vescheil-buirde (rack) with plaitis and trunchors (trenchers), ane laidill (ladle), ane elne-cruik (instrument for measuring), ane pair of peper cornes (pepper grinders), ane calf (chaff) bed, ane windo cloth (blind), ane feddir bouster (bolster) with twa feddir coddis (pillows), twa sowit codwairis (pillowslips), ane covring (coverlet), ane straik (grain-measurer), ane rowing (rowan) tree, ane pair scheitis." The crook was the iron hook on which the cooking vessels were hung over the fire. The rowan tree was placed above the back door, and was supposed to be a charm against witchcraft.

    The old rhyme ran: 
    Rowan tree and red threid
    Puts the witches to their speid.

Here again are the plenishings of the house of the citizen, whose dress we have already described. It indicates a man in higher social position than the preceding. " Ane furneist feddir bed with sheets, blanketts, codds, bolsteris, and ane caddy (pillowslip), ane basing (bason), ane laver, ane plait, ane trunchor, ane pynt stoup, ane chopene stope, ane mutchkin stop, ane salfer (salver), ane dische, ane saltfat (salt cellar), ane tangis, ane porring-iron (poker), ane ladle, ane cruik, ane spitt, ane nickil pat, ane pan, ane chymnay, ane guis (goose) pan, ane frying pan, ane pestell and mortrar (mortar), ane dozen silver spounes, ane fut hall-buirde, ane compter-buird (desk), ane stand-bed, ane mekil kist and forme, ane lang-settill, ane pair of courtangis (curtains), a coffer, ane meit armorie, ane Bybill, ane steill glass (mirror), ane compass, ane nicht glass, ane astrolaby (telescope), ane windsel-cart (chart), ane cors (cross) staff," The compass and other nautical instruments suggest that their owner had some connection with the sea.


1559 Christopher Goodman Translated to St. Andrews  in 1560.
1568 James Dalrymple. Died in 1580
1580 John Porterfield. Died in 1604

John Welsh, A.M. Came as "aid and helper" to Mr. Porterfield in 1600. Banished 1606

1608 George Dunbar. Deprived and imprisoned in 1611.
1612  William Birnie, A.M. Died in 1619.

George Dunbar (above mentioned). Translated from Second Charge.  Banished in 1624

1625 William Annand, A.M. Deposed in 1638
1639 John Fergushill, A.M. Died in 1644.
1646  William Adair. Translated from Second Charge. Deposed in 1682
1683 Alexander Gregorie, A,M. Ejected in l689.
1692 William Eccles. Translated from Second Charge in 1694.


1613 George Dunbar. Formerly in First Charge. Translated to First Charge in 1619.
1638 Robert Blair, A.M. Translated to St. Andrews same year.
1639  William Adair. Translated to First Charge in l646.
1656 William Eccles. Deprived in 1662
1664 George Whyte. Translated to Maryculter in 1679.
1682  William Waltersone. Ejected in 1689.
1689 William Eccles (above mentioned). Indulged at Paisley in 1672 Returned to Ayr in 1687, and officiated in St John's Kirk. Translated to First Charge in 1692



1560 Michael Wallace of Cunning Park. 1605 David Fergushill of Cunning Park
1561 Michael Wallace of Cunning Park. 1606 David Fergushill of Cunning Park
(No Record.) 1607 David Fergushill of Cunning Park
1568 John Lockhart 1608 Adam Stewart.
1569 John Lockhart 1609 John Lockhart of Bar
(No Record.) 1610 Hew Kennedy

John Lockhart


John Osburne

(No Record.) 1612

John Lockhart of Bar


John Lockhart


Adam Ritchie


Hew Campbell, yr., of Loudoun.


Hew Kennedy

(No Record.) 1615 Adam Ritchie

John Jamesoun

1616 John Osburne

George Jamesoun of Goldring.

1617 Hew Kennedy

Robert Campbell

1618 Adam Ritchie

John Jamesoun

1619 Hew Kennedy

Adam Stewart


John Osburne

1585 Sir William Stewart of Monkton. 1621 Adam Ritchie
1586 Arcbibald Fergushill of Sauchrie. 1622 James Blair of Blairston
1587 Arcbibald Fergushill of Sauchrie. 1623 Adam Ritchie
1588 Arcbibald Fergushill of Sauchrie. 1624 James Blair of Blairston
1589 John Lockhart of Boghall. 1625 Adam Ritchie
1590 George Janiesoun of Goldring 1626 John Osburne
1591 George Janiesoun of Goldring 1627 James Blair of Blairston
1592 Adam Stewart 1628 William Cuningham
1593 George Janiesoun of Goldring 1629 Adam Ritchie

George Janiesoun of Goldring  

1630 John Stewart
1595 David Fergushill of Cunning, Park   1631 Adam Ritchie  
1596 David Fergushill of Cunning, Park   1632 John Stewart  
1597 David Fergushill of Cunning, Park   1633 James Blair of Blairston  
1598 David Fergushill of Cunning, Park   1634 John Osburne  
1599 David Fergushill of Cunning, Park   1635 John Stewart  
1600 David Fergushill of Cunning, Park   1636 John Osburne  
1601 Alexander Lockhart of Boghall   1637 Robert Gordon  
1602 George Jamesoun of Goldring   1638 John Osburne  
1603 David Fergushill of Cunning Park 1639 Robert Gordon
1604 Adam Stewart. 1640   John Osburne  






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