Notes on the way
through Ayrshire - 100 years ago
The town of Beith stands on a pleasing eminence, about a mile east
of Kilbirnie Loch, 18 miles south-west of Glasgow, and 22 miles
north of Ayr. Was a small village at the beginning of the eighteenth
century; and, having advanced rapidly, has now a great wealth of shops, a
Town Hall; Clydesdale, Commercial, and Union Banks; a post office, with
telegraph, money order, insurance, annuity, and savings bank departments;
two public schools, two United Presbyterian Churches ; Established, Free,
and Evangelical Union
of London, endowed Beith, his native place, with a perpetual
annuity of £50, secured by the lands of Gatend, which he bought in
this parish. He vested the charity in trustees, who are directed to
apportion the same, in annuities of not less than £5 and not more than
£10, to persons of respectable character who have been three years
resident in the parish. Born at Beith, 1741. Died in London,
September 29, 1826.
mother of Tannahill, the poet,
was the daughter of a farmer in Bog Hall, fully half-a-mile east of
D.D., author of " Ecclesiastical Characteristics," " Essays
on Regeneration," and other works, was minister at Beith
during the rebellion of 1745, when he raised a company of
volunteers for the service of King
George II., buckled on his armour,
and gallantly fought at the battle of Falkirk, January 17, 1746.
The King’s forces being on that occasion defeated by those of Prince
was taken prisoner; made his escape;
was for some time minister at Paisley; went to America; became
President of the College of New Jersey, but returned after many years, and
preached once more in his old church at Beith. Dr.
Witherspoon was born at Yester,
Haddingtonshire, February 5, 1722, and was lineally descended
from Elizabeth, daughter of John Knox.
The village of
LANGBAR is on both sides of the border line between Beith and Dairy,
near Kilbirnie station. Population, 750, of whom 233 are in Beith.
BARRMILL, a village
on Dusk Water, two miles south-east of Beith, has a railway station, a
public school, and linen thread manufacturing. Population, 279.
The ruin of Giffen
Castle is half-a-mile farther, and another half mile the hamlet of
The village of
GATESIDE, with endowed public school, is about two miles east of
Beith. Population, 374.
Trearne House is
half-a-mile past it, and half-a-mile past that are the remains of Hazelhead
Castle, the paternal home, it is believed, of Alexander
Montgomery, early Scotch poet, who
was born about 1540, and whose sister, Elizabeth,
was the mother of Sir William Mure,
the poet, of Rowallan, Kilmarnock. Montgomery’s
poems have been edited by the antiquaries, Dr.
Laing and Dr.
who were unable to give much account of his life and family connections.
They comprise "The Flyting between Montgomery and Polwart,"
" The Cherrie and the Slae," "The Mindes Melodie,"
psalms odes, sonnets, and epitaphs. He was pensioned by James
VI. Died about 1614.
The mansion of
Caldwell stands at the east corner of the parish. It is a pretty
place, with fine gardens and wooded grounds, partly in Renfrewshire.
The Mures of Caldwell
are a family known to fame. William
Mure, D.C.L., author of the
celebrated work "A Critical History of the Language and Literature of
Ancient Greece," was born July 9, 1799; M.P. for Renfrewshire,
1846-55; Lord Rector of’ Glasgow University, 1847. Died, April 7, 1860.
Woodside is a
seat about a mile north of Beith.
The parish contains
coal, ironstone, limestone, sand-stone, and basalt. Its surface undulates
gently upwards from the south-west to the moderate heights, on the
Renfrewshire boundary, of 500 and 600 feet above the sea level. Much of it
is beautified with wood, and is mostly well cultivated and stocked with
the pure-bred Ayrshire
It measures fully five
miles by four miles, and comprises 11,222 acres, of which 544 are in a
point of Renfrewshire that lies indented in the parish between North
Highgate and Townend. Population in 1871, 6233; in 1881, 6555.