Ayr - Ayton

A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. Originally published by S Lewis, London, 1846.

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Samuel Lewis, 'Ayr - Ayton', in A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, (London, 1846) pp. 84-91. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-dict/scotland/pp84-91 [accessed 23 May 2024].

Samuel Lewis. "Ayr - Ayton", in A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, (London, 1846) 84-91. British History Online, accessed May 23, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-dict/scotland/pp84-91.

Lewis, Samuel. "Ayr - Ayton", A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, (London, 1846). 84-91. British History Online. Web. 23 May 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-dict/scotland/pp84-91.

In this section


AYR, a sea-port, burgh, and market-town, in the district of Kyle, county of Ayr, of which it is the capital, 77 miles (S. W. by W.) from Edinburgh, and 34 (S. S. W.) from Glasgow; containing 8264 inhabitants. This place derives its name from the river on which it is situated, and appears to have attained a considerable degree of note, at a very early period. A castle was erected here by William the Lion, to which reference is made in the charter subsequently granted to the town by that monarch; and from the importance of its situation, it was besieged and taken by Edward I,. during his invasion of Scotland. In 1289, Robert Bruce, on the hostile approach of an English army towards the town, finding himself unable to withstand their progress, set fire to the castle, to prevent its falling into their hands; and at present, there are no vestiges of it remaining. During the usurpation of Cromwell, a very spacious and strongly-fortified citadel was erected here, as a military station for his troops, for the maintenance and security of the town and harbour of Ayr, which, at that time, were of great importance, as enabling him to hold the western and southern parts of the county in subjection; and of this fort, the greater part is still in good preservation.

Seal and Arms.

The town is finely situated on a wide level plain, on the sea-coast, and at the head of the beautiful bay of Ayr, by which it is bounded on the west. The more ancient part consists of houses irregularly built, and of antique appearance; but that which is of more modern origin, contains numerous handsome ranges of buildings, among which may be noticed Wellington-square, and a spacious and well-built street leading from it to the new bridge. Very great improvements have been made in the aspect of the town, which is seen to great advantage from the higher grounds, and more especially on the approach from the south; many agreeable villas have been erected, and most of the modern houses in the vicinity are embellished with shrubs and trees. The principal streets are well paved, and lighted with gas, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water, partly from numerous wells opened in convenient situations, and partly from a softer spring, in Carrick, by pipes laid down for that purpose. The environs are extremely pleasing, abounding with richly-diversified scenery, embracing fine views of the sea, and many interesting features; and there are two bridges over the river Ayr, of which that last erected is a very handsome structure, affording communication with the towns of Newton-upon-Ayr and Wallace-town, which are both of comparatively recent origin. The beach, which is a fine level sand, is much frequented as a promenade, and contributes greatly to render the town desirable as a place of residence. There are two libraries supported by subscription, containing good collections of standard and periodical works, and newsrooms well supplied with journals; and a mechanics' institution was established in 1825, to which is attached a library of more than 3000 volumes, for the increase of which a specific sum is annually appropriated. Races are annually held by the Western Meeting, in the first week in September, on an excellent course in the immediate vicinity of the town, comprising about fifty acres, inclosed with a stone wall; and the members of the Caledonian Hunt hold a meeting here once in five years. Two packs of fox-hounds, and a pack of harriers, are kept in the neighbourhood; and assemblies are held in an elegant and spacious suite of rooms, admirably adapted for that purpose, in the new Buildings, a stately edifice recently erected, and embellished with a spire rising to the height of 226 feet; they contain, in addition to the assembly-rooms, two large newsrooms, rooms for town's meetings, and various apartments for public purposes. In the High-street, is a handsome structure in the early English style, lately erected on the site of an ancient building called Wallace's Tower; it is 115 feet in height, and is adorned, in the front, with a well-sculptured statue of Wallace; it contains a good clock, and forms a conspicuous object in the distant view of the town.

On the summit of the bank of the river Doon, is a stately monument to the honour of the poet Burns, erected at an expense of £2000, raised by subscription, and consisting of a circular building, rising from a triangular basement fifteen feet in height, to an elevation of more than sixty feet. It is surrounded by nine Corinthian pillars with an enriched cornice, supporting a cupola, which is surmounted by a gilt tripod resting upon dolphins; and a window of stained glass gives light to a circular apartment eighteen feet in diameter, in which are, a portrait of the poet, an elegant edition of his works, and various paintings, illustrative of the principal scenes and descriptions in his poems. Opposite to the entrance, is a semicircular recess decorated with columns of the Doric order, intended for the reception of his statue; and in the grounds, comprising an area of about two acres, disposed in gravel-walks and shrubberies, and embellished with plantations of every variety of forest trees, are placed the well-known statues of Tam O'Shanter and Souter Johnny, executed by Thom, and exhibited, previously to their being deposited here, in almost every town of Great Britain. The Ayrshire Horticultural and Agricultural Society was established in 1815, under the auspices and patronage of the late Lord Eglinton, for the distribution of prizes for the best specimens of flowers, fruit, and vegetables, and for improvements in husbandry and agricultural implements; exhibitions are annually held, and attached to the institution is a library. A Medical Association has also been founded by members of that profession resident in the town and neighbourhood, the library of which contains a selection of the most valuable works on medical literature. The Barracks, an extensive range of building near the harbour, and pleasantly situated on a fine level plain, are adapted for the reception of a regiment of infantry, and, during the late war, were fully occupied by the military stationed here; but, since the peace, they have been unoccupied, and it was at one time in contemplation to appropriate them to some other purpose.

Notwithstanding the very advantageous situation of the town, in the midst of a richly-cultivated district abounding in mineral wealth, and commanding extensive means of communication, and facilities of conveyance, both by sea and land, the town has never been much distinguished for its manufactures; the principal manufacture carried on here, is that of shoes, which has, for some years, very much diminished, affording employment, at present, to little more than 200 persons. The working of muslins, in varieties of patterns, for the Glasgow manufacturers, is carried on to a considerable extent, occupying about 300 persons, at their own dwellings. Weaving with the hand-loom, for manufacturers of distant towns, employs about 150 persons; and tanning and currying of leather is carried on, but on a limited scale. A spacious factory for the spinning of wool and the manufacture of carpets, has been recently established by Mr. Templeton, which originated in a small establishment for the spinning of cotton-yarn; since its application to the present use, the building has been enlarged, and supplied with the most improved machinery of every kind, and the concern, at present, affords employment to 200 persons. A mill for carding, spinning, and weaving wool, for plaids and blankets, has been also erected on the bank of the river Doon; the machinery is impelled by water, and about thirty persons are regularly employed in the works. The foreign trade of the port consists almost entirely of the exportation of coal, and the importation of hemp, mats, tallow, tar, iron, pitch, timber, and other commodities; the number of vessels engaged in this trade, is about eighteen. About 300 vessels are employed in the coasting trade, which is carried on to a very considerable extent; the imports are, corn, groceries, hardware, iron, lead, haberdasheries, and other wares, and the exports are, coal, corn, wool, and agricultural produce. In a recent year, 739 vessels, of 62,730 tons aggregate burthen, cleared out from the port, exclusively of steam-boats. 3136 quarters of wheat, 306 cwt. of flour, 11,145 quarters of oats, 5623 cwt. of meal, 318 quarters of barley, 643 quarters of beans, and 51 quarters of peas, were brought into the port in the year; and 60,000 tons of coal, 5571 quarters of wheat, 5586 cwt. of flour, 87 quarters of oats, 3178 cwt. of oatmeal, 84 quarters of barley, and 183 quarters of beans, were shipped coastwise. The port appears to have been distinguished at an early period, and ships are said to have been built here by several of the kings of Scotland; the harbour is capacious, and affords good accommodation for vessels, but the entrance is somewhat obstructed by a bar thrown up by the accumulation of alluvial deposit, for the removal of which considerable sums have been expended, with great effect. A wall was raised, nearly twenty feet in height, tapering from a base of nearly thirty feet in breadth, to about eight feet on the summit, and extending nearly 300 yards into the sea, on the south side; and a similar pier, on the north side, parallel to the former, was likewise erected, at a very great expense. By these means, the harbour has been considerably improved; and to render it still more complete, a breakwater has been partly erected at the mouth of the harbour, stretching still further into the sea, and which it is estimated will be completed at an expense of about £4000. The depth of water is from 14 to 16 feet, at ordinary spring tides; and, within the bar, about eighty sail of ships may lie in perfect safety.

The rivers Ayr and Doon abound with excellent salmon, and considerable quantities are taken, during the season, with drags, and afterwards with stake-nets, and, besides affording an abundant supply for the town and neighbourhood, are sent to the Glasgow, Edinburgh, and London markets; the fishery in the Doon is let for £235, and the other for £45, per annum. The fisheries off the coast are perhaps less extensive than formerly, but more than twenty boats, each managed by four men, are employed in taking cod, ling, haddock, whiting, turbot, skate, flounders, mackerel, and herrings, which last are taken only during the summer months; soles, red gurnet, and large conger eels are found occasionally. The post-office has several deliveries daily, and the utmost facility of intercourse is maintained with the neighbouring towns, and with England and Ireland. The roads are kept in excellent order; and the trade of the place has been much improved by the recent formation of a railroad to Glasgow, noticed in the article on that place, and for which an appropriate station has been erected on the north bank of the river, near the new bridge, having a frontage of eighty-four feet, with every accommodation for goods and passengers. The market-days are Tuesday and Friday; the markets are amply supplied with grain and provisions of every kind, and four annual fairs are held for cattle, horses, sheep, and agricultural produce.

The charter of incorporation was first granted in the year 1202, by William the Lion, who conferred upon the burgesses the whole of the lands of the parish, with many valuable privileges. This charter was confirmed by Alexander II., who added the adjoining parish of Alloway, and extended the jurisdiction of the magistrates over the two parishes; and Robert Bruce, by a subsequent charter, dated at Dunfermline, ratified all the grants of his predecessors, and erected Alloway into a barony, of which the corporation were the lords. Under these charters, the government of the burgh is vested in a provost, two bailies, a dean of guild, a treasurer, and twelve councillors, of which last number ten were formerly of the merchants' guild, and two of the trades'; the provost, bailies, and dean of guild are, ex officio, justices of the peace of the county. The burgh magistrates, were, until lately, elected from the guild brethren, who formed the council, by whom all the officers of the corporation were also appointed; but the magistrates and councillors are now chosen agreeably with the provisions of the Municipal Reform act, by the voters within the limits of the parliamentary burgh. The incorporated trade guilds were nine in number, and were styled the squaremen, hammermen, tailors, skinners, coopers, weavers, shoemakers, dyers, and butchers. The magistrates have jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases, but confine the latter to petty misdemeanours. They hold courts weekly, for civil and criminal causes, but the more important cases are referred to the sheriff's court, held every Tuesday, from May to July, and from October to April; the number of these causes averages 500 in the year, of which very few are removed into the court of session, or supreme court. A sheriff court for the recovery of debts not exceeding £8. 6. 8., is held every Thursday, and a petty court every Monday, confined chiefly to breaches of the peace; a dean of guild court is also holden occasionally. These courts are held in the County Hall, on the north-west side of Wellington-square, a spacious and elegant building, after the model of the Temple of Isis at Rome, erected within the last thirty years, at an expense of more than £30,000. The front is embellished with a portico of massive circular columns, affording an entrance into a lobby, lighted by an ample and stately dome rising to a considerable height above the building, which consists of two stories. The interior, which is highly decorated, consists of the various courts for the burgh and the county, with requisite offices for persons connected with the proceedings, arranged on the ground floor; and the upper story, to which is an ascent by a noble circular staircase, contains two spacious halls, with rooms for the the judges and barristers, and retiring-rooms for the juries and witnesses. Of these halls, one is appropriated to the business of the courts, and the other chiefly used as a banqueting or assembly room; the latter is splendidly fitted up, and is embellished with a portrait of Lord Eglinton, as colonel of the Royal Highland regiment, and of Mr. Hamilton, late convener of the county. The prisons for the burgh and county are spacious and well ventilated, and the arrangement is adapted for the classification of the prisoners, who are regularly employed in various trades, and receive a portion of their earnings on their leaving the prison. Ayr is the head of a district comprising the burghs of Irvine, Campbelltown, Inverary, and Oban, which are associated with it in returning a member to the imperial parliament; the right of election, previously vested in the corporation, is now, by the act of the 3rd and 4th of William IV., extended to the £10 householders; the sheriff is the returning officer, and the present number of voters in the burgh of Ayr is about 470.

The parish, including Alloway, forms part of an extensive and richly-cultivated valley, and comprises about 5000 acres; it is bounded on the north by the river Ayr, which separates it from the parish of St. Quivox; on the south-west, by the river Doon, and on the west, by the sea. The surface, towards the sea, is generally flat for about two miles, beyond which it rises by a gentle ascent to a considerable elevation, forming a range of hills which inclose the vale, and terminate, towards the south-west, in the loftier chain of Brown Carrick, which projects into the sea in some precipitous rocky headlands called the Heads of Ayr. The river Ayr, which has its rise in the eastern extremity of the county, divides the valley in which the parish is situated into two nearly equal parts, and flows between banks richly embellished with plantations and pleasing villas; it is subject to violent floods, and, in its course to the sea, conveys great quantities of alluvial soil, which, accumulating at its mouth, slightly obstruct the entrance of the harbour. The river Doon has its source in a lake of that name, to the south-east, on the confines of the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, and, in its progress, displays many strikingly romantic features. A small stream called Glengaw Burn, flows between the ancient parishes of Ayr and Alloway, and numerous springs are every where found, at a small depth from the surface, affording an abundant supply of water, but not well adapted for domestic use, containing carbonate and sulphate of lime, with some traces of iron in combination. Close to the eastern boundary of the parish, is Loch Fergus, about a mile in circumference, and abounding with pike; near the margin, were formerly the ruins of an ancient building of a castellated form, which have been long since removed, to furnish materials for the erection of farm-buildings, and in the centre of the lake is a small island, the resort of wild ducks and other aquatic fowl.

The scenery is interspersed with numerous pleasing villas and stately residences, among which are, Castle-hill, commanding a fine view of the town and bay; Belmont Cottage, embosomed in trees; Doonholme, with its richly-planted demesne, extending along the banks of the river; Rozelle, a stately mansion, surrounded with trees of venerable growth; Belle-isle, an elegant castellated mansion with turrets, rising above the trees by which it is surrounded; and Mount Charles, with its flourishing plantations crowning the precipitous bank of the river Doon. The beautiful bay of Ayr is unrivalled for striking scenery; to the north, are the islands of Cumbraes, the Bute bills, and the Argyllshire mountains, with the summit of Ben-Lomond in the distance; to the west, is seen the coast of Ireland, and, near the Ayrshire coast, the Craig of Ailsa, rising precipitously from a base of two miles in circumference, to a height of 1000 feet above the level of the sea by which it is surrounded. The island of Arran, with its lofty mountains, behind which is seen the Mull of Cantyre, also forms a conspicuous and interesting feature in the view. The soil varies in different parts of the parish; but, from the progressive improvements in agriculture, and the extensive practice of tile-draining, the lands have been rendered generally fertile, and a considerable quantity of unprofitable land has been made productive. The greater portion is under tillage, and produces abundant crops of grain of all kinds, with turnips and other green crops. Considerable attention is paid to the rearing of live stock; the sheep are chiefly of the Leicestershire and Cheviot breeds, and the cattle, with the exception of a few of the short-horned kind, are of the genuine Ayrshire breed, which has been brought to great perfection. The rateable annual value of the parish is £24,664. The substratum is mostly trap and whinstone, of which the rocks principally consist; coal is prevalent, but the working of it has not been found profitable in this parish, though it has been extensively wrought in the parishes adjoining. Red sandstone and freestone also exist, and the latter was formerly quarried; some beautiful specimens of agate are found upon the shore, and in the bed of the river, occurs a peculiar species of claystone, with small grains of dark felspar and mica, which is frequently used for polishing marble and metals, and as a hone, for giving a fine edge to cutting tools.

The parishes of Ayr and Alloway were united towards the close of the 17th century. The church of Ayr, which had been made collegiate in the reign of Mary, afforded sufficient accommodation for the whole population; and divine service, which, for some time after their union, was performed in the church of Alloway, every third Sunday, was finally restricted to the church of Ayr. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Ayr and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. The stipend of the incumbent of the first charge is £178. 5., including half the interest of a sum of £1000, bequeathed for the equal benefit of both ministers, with a manse, a comfortable modern residence; the second minister has a stipend of £283. 6. 9., including £20 interest money above stated, £82. 15. 8. received from the public exchequer, and £108. 6. 8. paid from the funds of the burgh, with an allowance for manse. The old church was erected about the middle of the 17th century, to supply the place of the church of St. John, which had been desecrated by Cromwell, and converted into an armoury for the fort that he erected around its site; it is a substantial edifice, but greatly inferior to the original church in elegance of design. The new church was erected in 1810, at an expense of nearly £6000, and is a handsome edifice; the two churches together are capable of accommodating from 2000 to 2500 persons. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church and the Relief Synod, Wesleyans, the United Secession, Reformed Congregation, Episcopalians, and Moravians. The parochial schools of the burgh, by a charter in 1798, were incorporated into an institution called the Academy, and a handsome and capacious building was erected, with funds raised by contributions from the heritors, and subscriptions. It is conducted under the superintendence of a committee, by a rector who has a salary of £100 per annum, and three assistant masters with salaries of about £20 each; the course of instruction is comprehensive, and the number of pupils averages about 500. A school in which about 200 children are taught, is supported by the produce of a bequest of £2000 by Captain Smith, under the direction of the parochial ministers and magistrates of the town.

The hospital for the poor, or Poor's House, was erected in 1759, at the expense of the corporation, aided by subscription, for the reception of the infirm and helpless poor; it is conducted by a master and a mistress with a salary of £80. A dispensary was established in 1817, which afforded medicinal assistance to more than 500 patients annually, and a fever hospital, recently built, has been united to it; the subscriptions amount to about £300 per annum. A savings' bank was established in 1815; the present amount of deposits is about £3000, and the number of contributors 700; the gross amount of deposits, since its commencement, exceeds £30,000. Numerous charitable benefactions have been made, of which the principal are, a bequest of Mr. Patterson, of Ayr, to the Glasgow Infirmary, of £500, in consideration of which the parish is privileged to send four patients to that institution; an annual income of £55, derived from a bequest of Mr. Smith, a native of this town, and alderman of Londonderry, in Ireland, distributed among poor persons on a certain day; a bequest of £300 by Mr. James Dick, of which the interest is similarly distributed among the poor; the farm of Sessionfield, consisting of 100 acres, bequeathed by Sir Robert Blackwood, of Edinburgh, a native of this parish, and the produce of which is distributed among poor householders; a bequest of £1000 by Mrs. Crawford, for reduced females; a bequest of £300 by Captain Tennant, to the Poor-house; a bequest of £5 annually to ten females, by Miss Ballantine, of Castle-hill; and a bequest of £1000 to the poor of the parish, by Mr. Ferguson, of Doonholme.

There are remains of the church of St. John, within the area of Cromwell's fort, consisting solely of the tower; and also of the old church of Alloway, of which the walls are entire. The moat of Alloway may be traced, on the approach to Doonholme House; on its summit, according to ancient records, courts of justice were held, for the trial of petty offences. There are evident traces of the old Roman road leading from Galloway into the county of Ayr, and passing within half a mile of the town; and other portions of it are still in tolerable preservation. A tract on the coast called the Battle Fields, is supposed to have been the scene of a fierce conflict between the natives and the Romans. Both Roman and British implements of war, urns of baked clay, and numerous other relics of Roman antiquity, have been found at this place; and coins of Charles II. were discovered under the foundation of the old market-cross, a handsome structure of hexagonal form, removed in 1788. Johannes Scotus, who flourished in the ninth century, eminent for his proficiency in Greek and oriental literature, and who was employed by Alfred the Great, to restore learning at Oxford; and Andrew Michael Ramsay, better known as the Chevalier Ramsay, the friend of Fenelon, Bishop of Cambray, were natives of Ayr. John London McAdam, celebrated for his improvements in the construction of roads, and David Cathcart, Lord Alloway, one of the lords of the high court of justiciary, were also natives; and John Mair, author of a system of book-keeping, and Dr. Thomas Jackson, professor of natural philosophy in the university of St. Andrew's, and author of several valuable works, were teachers in schools here. But the most celebrated name connected with the place, is that of Burns, whose monument has been already noticed, and who was born at Alloway, in the parish, in a cottage which is still remaining. It may here be observed, that on the 6th of August, 1844, the town of Ayr was the scene of great rejoicings, occasioned by a national festival being held in the neighbourhood, on that day, in honour of the memory of Burns, and to greet the three sons and the sister of the bard. At an early hour of the morning, visitors from all parts of Scotland had arrived, to join in, or be spectators of, the proceedings; and a grand procession was shortly formed, which passed from the town, along a road thronged with people, to the more immediate scene of the events of the day, the banks of the Doon. Here, in the vicinity of the poet's birth-place, beside the old kirk of Alloway which his muse has immortalized, and beneath the monument raised by his admiring countrymen, the procession closed; and not long after, a banquet was partaken of by above 2000 persons, including many of distinguished talent, in a pavilion about 120 feet square, that had been specially erected in a field adjoining the monument. Numerous appropriate speeches, some of considerable eloquence, were made upon the occasion; that of Professor Wilson was particularly remarkable, and the whole of the proceedings were characterized by the utmost enthusiasm, and by an universal desire to merge every individual feeling, that the day might be truly consecrated to its own peculiar object.


AYRSHIRE, an extensive county, on the western coast of Scotland, bounded on the north by Renfrewshire, on the east by the counties of Lanark and Dumfries, on the south by the stewartry of Kirkcudbright and Wigtonshire, and on the west by the Frith of Clyde and the Irish Channel. It lies between 54° 40' and 55° 52' (N. lat.), and 4° and 5° (W. long.), and is about sixty miles in length, and nearly thirty in extreme breadth, comprising an area of about 1600 square miles, or 1,024,000 acres, and containing 31,497 houses, of which 30,125 are inhabited; and a population of 164,356, of whom 78,983 are males, and 85,373 females. This county, which includes the three districts of Carrick, Kyle, and Cunninghame, was originally inhabited by the Damnii, with whom, after the departure of the Romans, were mingled a colony of Scots, who emigrated from Ireland, and settled in the peninsula of Cantyre, in the county of Argyll. In the 8th century, the Saxon kings of Northumbria obtained possession of this part of the county; and in the reign of David I., Hugh de Morville, who had emigrated from England, and was made by that monarch constable of Scotland, received a grant of the whole district of Cunninghame, in which he placed many of his English vassals. Previously to their final defeat at the battle of Largs, in 1263, the county was frequently invaded by the Danes; and during the wars with Edward of England, it was the scene of many of the exploits of William Wallace, in favour of Robert Bruce, who was a native of the county, and obtained, by marriage, the earldom of Carrick, which, on his accession to the throne, merged into the property of the crown. The change in the principles of religion which led to the Reformation, appears to have first developed itself in this county; and Kyle is noticed by the reformer, Knox, as having, at a very early period, embraced the reformed doctrine.

Previously to the Reformation, the county was included within the arch-diocese of Glasgow; it is now almost entirely in the synod of Glasgow and Ayr, and comprises several presbyteries, and forty-six parishes. It contains the royal burghs of Ayr, which is the county town, and Irvine; the towns of Largs, Beith, Ardrossan, Saltcoats, Kilwinning, Kilmarnock, Mauchline, Catrine, Old and New Cumnock, Muirkirk, Maybole, and Girvan; and numerous large and populous villages. Under the act of the 2nd of William IV., the county returns one member to the imperial parliament. The surface is varied: in the district of Cunninghame, which includes the northern portion, it is comparatively level; in Kyle, which occupies the central portion, it is hilly and uneven, though containing some large tracts of fertile and well cultivated land; and the district of Carrick, in the south, is wild and mountainous. The principal mountains are, Knockdollian, which has an elevation of 2000 feet above the sea; Cairntable, rising to the height of 1650 feet; Knockdow and Carleton, each 1554 feet high, and Knocknounan, 1540 feet. The chief rivers are, the Ayr, the Doon, the Garnock, the Girvan, and the Stinchar; and the county is intersected by numerous smaller streams, of which the principal are, the Rye water, the Irvine, and the Kilmarnock water. There are also numerous small lakes, especially in the district of Carrick; but the only one of any extent, is Loch Doon, from which issues the river of that name. The coast, especially that of Carrick, is precipitous, rocky, and dangerous, and possesses few good harbours; towards the extremities, it is almost inaccessible, from rocks in the offing, and towards the centre, the beach is sandy, and the water so shallow as generally to preclude the approach of vessels of any considerable burthen.

About one-third of the land is arable, and in cultivation, and the remainder, of which a very large portion is mountain waste, is chiefly meadow and pasture. The soil is, in some parts, light and sandy, and in others a rich clay, and nearly the whole of the district of Cunninghame is a rich and fruitful vale. The dairies are well managed, and their produce is in high repute; the county is also distinguished for its excellent breed of cattle: the moors abound with all kinds of game, and the rivers with salmon and trout. The rateable annual value of the county is £520,828. The minerals are, coal, ironstone, lead and copper ore, black-lead, and gypsum; the coal is abundant, and the working of it, for exportation, is daily increasing, for which purpose railroads have been laid down, and harbours have been constructed; there are also extensive quarries of freestone and marble. The ancient forests of Ayrshire have long since disappeared; and the plantations, which are extensive, are mostly of modern growth. The seats are, Kelburn House, Eglinton Castle, Culzean Castle, Loudon Castle, Fairley Castle, Dalquharran, Blairquhan, Bargeny, Fullerton House, Dumfries House, Stair House, Auchincruive, Auchinleck, and many others. The chief manufactures are the various branches of the woollen, the linen, cotton, and thread manufactures, for which there are extensive works at Kilmarnock and Catrine; the weaving of muslin is also general throughout the county, and the Ayrshire needlework has long been distinguished for elegance. There are likewise tanneries and potteries, iron-foundries, and some very large ironworks, of which those at Muirkirk are among the most celebrated in the country; along the coast are valuable fisheries, and salt-works, and others for kelp and soda. Facility of communication is maintained by excellent roads, and bridges kept in good repair; also by the railway from Ayr to Glasgow, with its different branches. There are numerous remains of antiquity, consisting of the ruins of fortresses and religious houses, in various parts of the county, all of which are described in the articles on the several parishes where they are situated.


AYTON, a post-town and parish, in the county of Berwick, 7½ miles (N. W. by N.) from Berwick-on-Tweed, and 47½ (E. by S.) from the city of Edinburgh; containing about 1700 inhabitants. This place, which takes its name from the water of Eye, on the banks of which it is situated, is intimately connected with important transactions of early times. It was formerly dependent on the monastery of Coldingham, as appears from charters belonging to that establishment, upon the settlement of which, between the years 1098 and 1107, under the auspices of King Edgar, that monarch made them several grants, including "Eytun" and "aliam Eytun," the latter being Nether Ayton, on the opposite side of the river. Ayton then belonged to the parish of Coldingham; and it is considered that its church was founded about that time, as a chapel for the neighbouring priory, to which use it was appropriated till the Reformation, when this district was disjoined from Coldingham, and united to Lamberton on the south-east, a short time after which, it was erected into a parish of itself. The Castle of Ayton, a place of great importance in turbulent times, but long since demolished, is supposed to have been founded by a Norman called De Vescie, whose family afterwards changed their name to that of De Eitun, and of whom the Aytons, of Inchdarney, in Fife, are said to be the lineal descendants; this castle was subjected to a siege by Surrey, the famous general of Henry VII., in 1497, and it appears that the village of Ayton sprang up in its vicinity, for the sake of the protection which it afforded. A truce was signed in the church, between the hostile kingdoms, in 1384; and another in 1497, for seven years, after the capture of the castle in July in the same year. The estate of Prenderguest, a distinct and very ancient portion of the parish, in the reign of David I., partly belonged to Swain, priest of Fishwick, on the banks of the Tweed, who afterwards renounced his claim to it in favour of the Coldingham monks.

The parish, bounded on the east by the sea, is about four miles in length, and the same in breadth, and contains about 7050 acres, of which 6000 are arable, 250 pasture, and 800 plantation. The surface is most elevated in the southern part, which consists of a sloping range of high land, adorned with beautiful copses, and reaching, at its highest elevation, to about 660 feet above the level of the sea; the ground on the northern side is lower, but has some very fine lofty undulations. The sea-coast extends between two and three miles, and is abrupt and steep, one point, known by the name of Blaiky's, rising to a height of 350 feet; there are one or two caves on the shore, accessible only by sea, and which, it is supposed, were formerly used for smuggling, but are now the resort of marine fowls and shell-fish. At the south-eastern point of the boundary, is a rocky bay, approached, from land, by a deep ravine, at the foot of which stand the little fishing village of Burnmouth, and a singular rock called the Maiden Stone, insulated at high water, and which has been separated from the precipice above by the undermining of the sea. At the north-eastern point of the parish, are two or three islets, called the Harker rocks, over which the sea continually rolls, and when driven by strong east winds, exhibits a lofty and extensive field of sweeping foam. The chief rivers are the Eye and the Ale, the former of which rises in the Lammermoor hills, and after flowing for nearly twelve miles, enters the parish, by a right-angled flexure, on its western side, and at length falls into the sea. The scenery of the valley through which it flows, if viewed from Millerton hill, the old western approach to Ayton, is of singular interest and beauty: the nearer prospect consists of the village, manse, and church, Ayton House, with its beautiful plantations, and the new and commanding house and grounds of Peelwalls; numerous mansions and farm-houses rise, in various parts, on the right, skirted by a range of hill country, and the expansive and rolling sea closes the prospect on the north-east. The Ale rises in Coldingham parish, and, after running two or three miles, forms the north-eastern boundary of this parish, separating it from Coldingham and Eyemouth, for about two miles, when it falls into the Eye at a romantic elevation called the Kip-rock.

The soil, in general, is good, consisting, in the southern part, of a fertile loam, and in the northern exhibiting a light earth, with a considerable admixture of gravel in many places; the finest crops, both white and green, are produced, the land being in a high state of cultivation, and every improvement in agriculture has been introduced, among which the most prominent are, a complete system of draining, and the plentiful use of bone-dust, as turnip manure. The rateable annual value of the parish is £12,970. The prevailing rock in the district is the greywacke and greywacke slate, of which formation large supplies of sandstone of good quality are quarried for building. Considerable deposits of coarse alabaster, or gypsum, have been dug up near the hamlet of Burnmouth; and in the vicinity of the Eye are large quantities of coarse gravel, boulders, and rolled blocks under the soil, apparently alluvial, and rounded by the perpetual action of water. The mansion-house of Ayton, which was destroyed by fire a few years since, and is about to be rebuilt by the proprietor, who has just purchased the property for £170,000, was situated on a beautiful acclivity, near the great London road, on the bank of the Eye, and surrounded by extensive grounds. It was a fine ancient edifice, and formed a commanding object of attraction, being the first on the line of road after crossing the border. The house of Prenderguest is a modern building of superior construction; and at Peelwalls, is an elegant residence, lately built of the celebrated stone from the quarries of Killala, in Fifeshire, and situated in grounds which vie with the mansion in beauty and grandeur. Gunsgreen House, standing by the sea-side and harbour of Eyemouth, is a fine mansion, erected by a wealthy smuggler, who caused many concealments to be constructed in the house, and under the grounds, for the purpose of carrying on his contraband traffic. A new and elegant seat was also recently erected on the estate of Netherbyres, with an approach from the north side, by means of a suspension bridge over the Eye, by which, with many other improvements, this ancient and valuable property has been rendered more attractive.

The village of Ayton contains about 700 persons, and the village of Burnmouth a third of that number; at the former, a cattle-market, recently established, takes place monthly, and is well supported, and fairs have long been held twice a year, but, at present, are not of much importance. Numerous buildings have been erected upon the new line of the London road, under leases granted by the proprietor, and have improved the village very considerably. There are several manufactories, of which the principal is a paper-mill, where pasteboards and coloured papers are chiefly prepared, by new and greatly improved machinery, the drying process being effected by the application of the paper round large cylinders heated by steam; about £800 a year are paid to the workmen, and the excise duties amount to upwards of £3000 per annum. A tannery, which is, at present, on a small scale, but progressively increasing, was commenced in the village, a few years since, and produces annually several hundreds of pounds worth of very superior leather; and at Gunsgreen, is a distillery, yielding about 1500 gallons of aqua weekly, chiefly derived from potatoes, 6000 cwt. of which have sometimes been consumed in two months. Kelp, also, has occasionally been manufactured on the shore, at Burnmouth; but the return is too small to induce the inhabitants to prosecute it with vigour. A harbour has been lately constructed at Burnmouth, of sandstone found in the parish, as a security against the violence of the sea, at a cost of £1600, defrayed, three-fourths by the commissioners for fisheries, and one-fourth by the fishermen. Large quantities of white fish and occasionally of red, of very fine quality, are taken in this part, and cod, ling, and herrings are cured for distant markets; lobsters are sometimes sent to London, and periwinkles, with which the rocks abound, are likewise made an article of trade, for the use of those fishmongers who convert them into sauce. There is the greatest facility of communication; the great London road, and the North-British railway, just constructed, intersecting the parish; and there is another road crossing the London nearly at right angles, and leading from Eyemouth into the interior of the county.

The ecclesiastical affairs are subject to the presbytery of Chirnside and synod of Merse and Teviotdale; the patronage is possessed by the Crown, and the minister's stipend is £218, with a glebe valued at £35 per annum, and a manse on the bank of the Eye, erected at the close of the last century. The church, which is conveniently situated about half a mile from the village, in a romantic and sweetly secluded spot, near the Eye, commanding a fine view of Ayton House, consists partly of the walls of the ancient church, built about the 12th century, by the monks of Coldingham, and which was of very considerable dimensions. The old south transept is still entire, shrouded with mantling ivy, and converted into a burying-place for the Ayton family; the gable of the chancel is also remaining, but its side walls have been removed, for the sake of the sandstone material, which appears to have been cut from the quarry at Greystonlees. The present building was repaired and enlarged, twenty years since, and contains 456 sittings. There are two places of worship belonging to the Associate Synod; and also a parochial school, in which are taught the usual branches of education, with the classics, mathematics, and French if required, and the master of which has a salary of £34. 4., and a good house and garden, with fees, &c., to the amount of £84 a year. On the highest point of the southern extremity of the parish, is the round camp of Drumaw, or Habchester, which, before recent mutilations by the plough, was a fine specimen of ancient British encampments. It commands an extensive prospect both by sea and land, and from its situation on the northern side of the hill, and its use for observation and defence, it is thought to have been constructed by South Britons, in order to watch the movements, and repel the attacks, of their northern neighbours. There are remains of other camps in the vicinity, all of which, in process of time, yielded to the more efficient and permanent defence of castles, of which the remains are still visible in many parts. The Castle of Ayton, as well as the British encampment before noticed, was situated near the Roman road which extended from the wall of Severus, and, after crossing the country at Newcastle, terminated at the Roman camp near St. Abbs Head in this district.