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 Cumbrae Burial Grounds

 

Little Cumbrae



This small island is privately owned and may be visited only after receiving the owner's permission. At its southwest side, on a cliff top near the beach, there is a small graveyard. Measuring about four metres square, it is surrounded by a low stone wall that gives it the appearance of a sheep pen. 

It contains
eight graves, three along the west wall and the rest along the east wall.
The former comprise two graves of members of the Wodrow family who lived on the island during the eighteenth century, and that of Alex Urquhart, a game keeper, who was drowned in 1946 when, on returning to the island, his boat filled with water.

The remaining five graves are of members of the Parker family who prior to the current owner had purchased the island in 1913. The burials date from 1956 to 1972.

The monumental inscriptions on gravestones on both islands may be viewed in the Millport library. This opens only on Tuesday afternoon and evening and on Friday morning and afternoon. As with other North Ayrshire inscriptions they are also available in the Local History Dept. of Ardrossan Library.

 



Great Cumbrae.

 

Photographs of Headstones in Great Cumbrae

By Kenny Monaghan  kenny@monaghan95.freeserve.co.uk



On this larger island there are four graveyards and a modern cemetery. Two of the graveyards are associated with the Cathedral of the Isles situated inland from the Millport seafront. The Cathedral and the associated College buildings, standing on high ground within an extensive walled garden on the east side of College Street, were opened in 1851 and the Cathedral consecrated in 1876 

Close to the west side of the Cathedral building on levelled ground there is a small rectangular graveyard containing
38 engraved stones. These mark the graves of the Episcopal clergy and staff of the Cathedral. Also present is the grave of Hon. George Frederick Boyle, Sixth Earl of Glasgow, Founder and Principal Benefactor of the Cathedral and College.

About two hundred metres further up the east side of College street there is a wooden gate with a footpath beyond leading to a group of gravestones in a small field. This is the burial ground of members of the Cathedral's Episcopal congregation. In 1983 when the monumental inscriptions were recorded it contained
39 gravestones and 10 grave marker posts. Although it is still an active cemetery, it is now in a very poor state. Many of the gravestones lie tumbled and askew in long grass.

There are two burial registers held in the Cathedral for those graveyards, but they do not appear to state in which graveyard and at what point each grave is located. The earliest recorded burial is on 22 September 1851. An examination of the Registers may be arranged by contacting the Priest in Charge, Rev. Tony Burdon (Tel: 01475 530353). A donation towards the Cathedral funds would be appropriate for this service.

The other three burial grounds are communal and lie adjacent to Golf Road on the outskirts of Millport.

The entrance to the first of those (Millport 'Old Cemetery') is on the left side of the road a few hundred metres beyond the junction with Bute Terrace. It lies somewhat incongruously between the buildings of Mid Kirkton Farm and a Caravan Park. Apparently there are records of a church being erected on this site in 1612. However, with an ever-increasing population, it was demolished and replaced by a larger building in 1802. This in turn was demolished and the present Parish Church erected a short distance away in Bute Terrace in 1837. No trace of the early church is evident in the 
Old Cemetery, but a row of small gravestones near its centre with inscriptions dating from early in the Eighteenth Century (the earliest is 1703) may show its approximate position. The vehicular access to this burial ground, now grass covered, is up a short steep slope, while pedestrian access is by a small flight of steps and through the remains of a turnstile.

The cemetery has a roughly rectangular shape and contains
371 stones. It is neatly kept and there are very few fallen stones. On either side of the entrance a number of the monuments have been built into the surrounding stone wall. 

At the far end of the site beside a small mausoleum there is an opening in the wall leading to an extension known locally as the 'Middle Cemetery'. It has a triangular area and contains
207 stones. They are arranged in neat rows, and the earliest inscriptions refer to deaths in 1870. A small number of the stones have collapsed.

A short distance further up the right side of Golf Road lies the island's modern cemetery. 
The site is level and the stones are arranged in neat parallel rows. It appears very well kept. The earliest stones carry dates in 1936. Each grave has a numbered marker that should make very simple the search for a particular one.

Burial Records.

The Cemeteries office is located within the Local Authority Housing Department on the Millport seafront at 49 Stuart Street (Tele: 01475 530471). The burials are recorded in Lair books that act also as Registers. The records for the Old and Middle Cemeteries extend from September 1848 to 1949. There are four such Lair Book/Registers for the modern Cemetery, lairs being purchased as earl as 1933 while burials did not start until 1936.

Cumbraes OPR 552 does not record deaths. 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

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