Ayrshire Towns and Parishes

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  Ardrossan view by Tom McGrattan

Google Map of Ardrossan


 Google Map of Ardrossan

There is also an Ardrossan in South Australia, and an Ardrossan in Strathcona County, Alberta, Canada.



 Notes on the way - Through Ayrshire - 100 Years Ago   

Ardrossan Parish

Ardrossan signifying castle on the small promontory  

ON the sea shore, north-west of Stevenston. The town of Ardrossan is well situated for trade and pleasure, at the sea side, about 20 miles by road and rail and 14 miles by sea north-north-west of Ayr, and 31 miles south-west of Glasgow. It stands partly on a promontory, somewhat rocky and rugged of outline, that extends south-west into the sea half-a-mile, by an irregular wideness of one-fourth of a mile, flanked by two beautiful sandy bays, called the North Bay and the South Bay. The portion of the town next to the north Bay is edificed with regular straight streets, and that next to the South Bay is partly a beautiful crescent. There are many ornate cottages and handsome detached villas, including the Earl of Eglinton, Baron Ardrossan’s, seaside residence, The Pavilion. It is a police burgh; has a Town Hall; a post office, with telegraph, money order, insurance, annuity, and savings bank departments; branches of the Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank; two public schools; Established, Free, United Presbyterian, Evangelical Union, and Episcopal Churches; two or three hotels, well stocked shops in abundance, two railway stations; and an excellent harbour, constructed at great expense, with the view of drawing a large amount of shipping from Lanarkshire, as the sea passage from Glasgow to the North Channel is 50 miles shorter by Ardrossan than it is by the Clyde. The exports of coal and iron are large; and timber trade, shipbuilding, ironfounding, and rope and sail making are carried on. Two newspapers are published weekly-The Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald and The Ayrshire Weekly News, the former being the first penny paper established in the county, dowering this brilliant little town with a distinctive honour as a county instructor. Population in 1871, 3845; in 1881, 4036.

Though the modern town of Ardrossan has been built mostly within the present century, it has a connection with remote antiquity as a village attached to Ardrossan Castle, and was in existence at the time of Wallace, who, by way of strategy, set fire to a house, and when the English soldiers, whom he wished to dislodge from the castle, let down the drawbridge and marched out to extinguish the flames, he put them to the sword, slew them every one, and threw their bodies into a vault at the bottom of the castle, which from that day to this bears the name of Wallace’s Larder. Ardrossan Castle (Ardrossan signifying castle on the small promontory) stands on rocks called the Castle Craigs, and its base is loved by the sea waves. It has been a ruin ever since it was demolished by Oliver Cromwell and his Scotch friends to prevent its occupation by the party of Charles II., and looks very old. The  earliest known possessors of the Castle, and the barony of Ardrossan (which comprised the whole parish), were Barclays, whose names appear in charters from the twelfth century. The last of the Barclays was Sir Fergus de Ardrossan, who had horses so fleet as to be like no other horses, and their unearthly speed, it was said by his baffled competitors, was owing to a bridle which he possessed that was enchanted by the devil. His family consisted of two promising youths, a son and a daughter. This precious son and heir to hand down the family name and barony, like any other athletic youth, conceived an excessive inclination to put the bridle on one of the horses and have a gallop, which the father would never allow. One day, as Sir Fergus was going from home, he charged Lady Ardrossan to take care that the son did not back any of the horses; but the ambitious youth watched his chance, bridled and mounted a high-spirited one, and away he sped like fury, and was killed. When Sir Fergus returned he was so enraged that he killed the mother of his son, left Ardrossan, left his motherless daughter, horses and all, and took up his abode, with a single male attendant, in the solitary tower of Kildonan, on the lonely shore of the island of Arran. Long years after, on the day before his death, he gave his servant order to sew his dead body in a bullock’s hide and place it on the sea sands when the tide was out. The waves returned, carried it out to sea, and, strange to say, washed it ashore at Ardrossan, where it was taken up with the serecloth and interred in the adjoining chapel. The daughter got married, and her Ardrossan passed to the house of Eglinton.

The surface of Ardrossan parish is of moderate elevation and levelness in the south and east, marked here and there and yonder with small plantation clumps and heights, and is nicely cultivated.  Knockewart Hills, in the north-west, have summits 757 and 794 feet above sea level. A romantic scene this, with an ancient cairn on one apex, an ancient fort on another, and a loch and woods between. It is one of the best points of view in the county. From Ardrossan promontory, north-east to three-quarters of a mile from Dalry, the length of the parish is fully five and a half miles; and, across the middle, its widest part is fully three and a half miles. Area, 6668 acres.  Population in 1871, 7221; in 1881, 7754.

Ardrossan view By Kenny Monaghan


Ardrossan Barony - The 1815 Eglinton Estate's Rent Book

This is the complete Rent Book for that year. It contains details of the various properties rented out, to whom rented, the extent, the valuation, the rent etc.


Landmarks in the History of Ardrossan

Timeline of the main happenings in Ardrossan over the centuries.


1691 Hearth Tax Roll for Ardrossan Parish

Probably the earliest roll of the inhabitants of Ardrossan


Some Ardrossan OPR Birth Records 1742 - 1758

Not a full listing but many of the surnames being researched in the early years of the Ardrossan Parish Register.


Extracts from Ardrossan Valuation Roll 1899-1900

Just a sample of what information is available from these useful records.


Ardrossan Valuation Roll - Shops  1929

Complete listing of the main shopping area of Ardrossan with details of the shops, shopkeepers etc.


Some Ardrossan Monumental  Inscriptions 

A few M.I.s transcribed from Ardrossan FH Library and Carnagie Library.


1851 Census for Ardrossan (2% of total survey only)

The 2 per cent extract of the 1851 census was done by taking every 50th enumeration book, and transcribing that entire book; NOT every 50th page. As a result, you get full data for all those persons in those books which were taken (Not randomly selected - just every 50th book in the sequence throughout the UK was transcribed). The result is that you might find all the household of interest to you, but the odds are 50 to 1 against!


The Earl of Eglinton's Encounter near Ardrossan

In the fall of the year 1768 an excise officer named Mungo Campbell was trespassing in pursuit of game on the lands of Eglinton. Campbell was an excise officer at Saltcoats He was well connected in the county. His father was, Provost of Ayr, and his great-grandfather was Hugh Campbell of Netherplace..............


  The Bunker Port

For many years, Ardrossan was advertised in the shipping publication Lloyd’s List as “Ardrossan, the bunker port”. But when the harbour was first built bunkering (taking on fuel) was still a thing of the future, as ships were all driven by sail.


Photographs of Headstones In Ardrossan Cemetery

Pictures taken by Kenny Monaghan Kenny  kennymonaghan@btinternet.com  contact him here.


1791-99 and 1845 Statistical Accounts


  Google Map of Ardrossan

This Link takes you to the GOOGLE MAP SITE where you will find a map of the town and the surrounding area as it is today. You can zoom in and out and move around in all directions.



Map of  Ardrossan today

This Link takes you to the MULTIMAP website where you will find a map of the town and the surrounding area as it is today. You can zoom in and out and move around in all directions.


Streetmap of Ardrossan

This Link takes you to the STREETMAP website where you will find a map of the town and the surrounding area as it is today. You can zoom in and out and move around in all directions.


Old Maps of Ayrshire Towns

This link goes directly to the OLD MAPS website for an Ayrshire Index to detailed old maps of most Ayrshire Towns around 1860. You can explore out to all sides by using the arrows at the top of the page. These maps are ideal for finding the locations of areas such as farms.  



The parish of Ardrossan is a small area running north-east from the town of Ardrossan, a small seaport and watering place on the Firth of Clyde. The town was extensively rebuilt in the early 19th century, on a grid pattern under the sponsorship of the 12th and 13th Earls of Eglinton. The Earls also began development of the harbour and began a short-lived project to construct a canal to Glasgow.....>



Ardrossan view by Tom McGrattan


Ardrossan Web Sites


Ardrossan Academy

The website contains information about subject departments, pupils and teachers. It includes a popular 'former pupils' section. It is updated every weekend.


Barony St John's Church

The site for the church in the photograph at the head of this webpage.


  The Wino's Guide to Ardrossan

Check out their 'Get Here on A Giro' Guide to arriving at sherry nirvana. Whether by hotwired Hyundai, banana boat or hiding in the lavvie on the train - we'll get you here drunker


  Ardrossan Photographs

Photographs of the streets of Ardrossan

  St Andrew's and St Peter's Scottish Episcopal Church

The web site for the Churches of St. Andrew's and St. Peter's the Episcopal Church in Ardrossan, Irvine and Dalry.



Ardrossan Books


Ardrossan - The Key to the Clyde
William Kenefick, Judith E Davenport (Editor)

To Order or More Information


Ardrossan Harbour, 1805-1970
Catriona Levy

To Order or More Information


Ardrossan Shipyards
Catriona Levy

To Order or More Information


Old Ardrossan
R. McSherry, M. McSherry

 For More Information


The Parishes of Ardrossan and Stevenson
Roy Laughlan

To Order or More Information


Ayrshire Books


Ardrossan - Arran Ferry








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