« PreviousContinue »
Making up, as readers are aware, with Carrick and Kyle, the more modern electoral division of North and South Ayrshire, Cunningham itself may be best realised under three geographical divisions. The first or north part bending westward to the Firth on one side, and marching with a large portion of South Renfrewshire on the other; the second lower to the south-east, comprehending the parishes of Stewarton and Dunlop; and the third to the lands on the banks of the Irvine, which separates the northern division from Kyle—lands described by Pont as "fertill and full of profitt," and so populous in his day that “at the ringing of a bell in the night a few houres ther has beine seen conveine 3000 men weill horsed and armed.” Mr. Dobie's work has been so arranged as to do the utmost possible justice to this interesting tract of country. Following an editorial note by the editor, and a brief introduction by the annotator, Pont's notes are given in a continuous form precisely as they appear in the Balfour MS., transcribed by the late Professor Cosmo Innes. These notes are again repeated, followed in each separate instance by such additions, corrections, and explanations as the researches of Mr. James Dobie had brought to light in his day, this new matter making up by far the larger portion of the volume. Regarding many places curtly dismissed by Pont in a word or two new information is presented, at once curious, minute, and interesting. Beith, for example, mentioned by the old topographer simply as “a parochiall church situated neir the laick of Kilburny,” is made to reveal quite a history of Scottish provincial life during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. “Kilburny Castle, a fair bulding weill planted, the heritage of Johne Craufurd, laird thereof,” introduces the reader to. the Garnock family, and, as might be expected from Mr. Dobie, to the desperate claim of succession set up in 1810 by the so-called John Lindsay Craufurd. In connection with the Church of Kilbirnie a lengthy notice is given of that Captain Thomas Crawford concerned in the capture of Dumbarton Castle, 1571, whose monument is still conspicuous among the humbler memorials scattered round the churchyard. Cunninghamhead, “a stronge old dunion seatted on ye brinke of ye River Annock veill planted,” is followed by a history of lairds,
eminent some of them in the cause of the Reformation, and others in the Revolution Settlement. Wodrow gives an anecdote of Sir William of the lastmentioned period. In 1695 he had occasion to obtain an audience of the King and Queen in presence of the favourite Portland:-"The King (writes the minister of Eastwood) cast his eye on Sir William, and said, soe as he heard him, to Portland, I know Sir William is a Scotsman, but, pray, from what part of Scotland is he? Portland answered, Sir, he is a West-country gentleman. The King, looking to him, touched his nose with his finger, and, smiling, said, Sir William, I warrant you, is a great Whig; and went out to his coach. Portland on going out said, Sir William, yon was as much as if the King had called you his sweetheart.” Glengarnock has been identified by some as the residence of that Hardyknute referred to in Lady Wardlaw's famous ballad. Rowallan, “a stronge ancient dwelling belonging to ye surname of Moore, weill neir 400 yeirs. With them K. Rob. 2nd allayed,” opens up the history of a family too proud to claim descent from kings, because kings had come from them, Elizabeth, wife of Robert II., being a daughter of Sir Adam Mure by Joanna, daughter of Sir Hugh Dennistoun of Dennistoun. Nor is Caldwell, with its classic associations, quite forgot, although it happens to be a little beyond the boundary of North Ayrshire. Giffen Castle, a heritage of the almost Royal house of Douglas of Liddisdale, naturally suggests many details concerning the resident branch of Montgomeries to whom the estate fell “in days when good King Robert rang." Francis, one of the representatives for Ayrshire in the Union Parliament, was sufficiently prominent to be obnoxious to the satirists of the day, and is described in certain coarse pasquils which the Jacobites were not ashamed to circulate as "ambling like any paced horse;" another shares with him the unhappy distinction, “For rebellion engrained you may each bear the bell.” The Union was a sore subject in other places besides Cunningham. In his life of Peden, Patrick Walker, “packman of Bristo Port,” mentions that one of the evil consequences of that backsliding step was the mingling of ourselves with a people who, among other abominations indulged in, trained their children to say Papa and Mamma instead of Father and Mother, which custom the author deprecated as one of the causes of God's wrath to Scotland, evidenced in his day by the prevalence of burning fevers and agues previously unknown. With Kilwinning Mr. Dobie appears to have taken special pains, one view being given of the ancient doorway, and another, presented by the Earl of Eglinton, of the somewhat dull, modern church, but introducing effectively the remaining gable of the Abbey south transept. The letterpress presents as fair a history of this important foundation as it is possible to prepare in the absence of the Abbey Cartularly, lost apparently since Pont's time. Records connected with the Lodge of Mother Kilwinning are not known to exist of earlier date than 1642. A French poem somewhat vaguely refers to James Lord Stewart as receiving into his Lodge at Kilwinning the Earls of Gloucester and Ulster. The Abbey was then ruled by Abbot William, who sat in the Parliament held at Brigham in 1289. Ecclesiastical records connected with the Presbytery of Irvine do not exist of older date than 1646, and those of the Regality Court of Kilwinning, now in the General Register House, Edinburgh, commence a few years later.
LEADHILLS AND WANLOCK. Time redresses grievances in its own way, all the fuller in appearance sometimes because redress comes in an unexpected form. Between forty and fifty years since, when the Disruption controversy was embittering the social life of Scotland, few noblemen were held up to greater obloquy than the late Duke of Buccleuch. He not only insisted that the Established Church was the real Church of the people, but refused to recognise the Seceders even to the extent of permitting them to build places of worship on his land. For Thornhill a door of relief was opened by the magnanimity of old Janet Fraser of Virginhall. To Free Church miners in the dreary uplands of Wanlock no tenderness was shown. The land quaintly described in old writings as “God's Treasure House in Scotland” was to them a house of bondage. The gold of that Havilah might be good, yet it was to them mere earthly treasures which thieves might break through and steal, and of small account compared with the spiritual riches dispensed under the most untoward circumstances generally by their own pastor, Mr. Hastings, but occasionally by divines so distinguished as Chalmers, Candlish, and Guthrie. Time has now changed all this. Under the above title an account of this auriserous region, written by the successor of Mr. Hastings, was respectfully dedicated to the same Duke of Buccleuch, as “ The generous patron of Art, Literature, and Agriculture, whose benevolence as a landlord is universally esteemed (even by the men of '43), and who, with the Duke of Argyll, gave a noble example to the proprietors of Scotland in the gift of the patronage of his numerous parishes to the people, without compensation.” City charges like Maitland Street need not, therefore, be looked upon as the only indications going of changes in thought and feeling. The greater part of Mr. Porteous' interesting little volume appeared from time to time in the columns of the “Dumfries Courier;" but, it being deemed advisable to gather the detached papers into a more permanent and accessible form, the opportunity was taken of extending what was mainly an account of the parish of Sanquhar so as to include Crawford, Crawfordjohn, Leadhills, and Wanlockhead, with some notice of the geology and mineralogy of the district, extended information as to the gold, silver, and lead workings, details as to properties, owners, and workmen, and some useful facts connected with the Church history of the district from the Reformation to the present time. The first chapter describes “The House” – its geological formation, pasturage, streams, and temperature. The second commences with “The Treasures," and the men who have wrought in gold, silver, and lead, from Bevis Bulmer, in the sixteenth century, to the exceptionally high-class mining population for which Leadhills is famous in our own day. Of “The Treasure House” itself, or earthen vessel, not much can be said, so far as outside beauty is concerned. After travelling through the district, Dr. John Brown describes Leadhills as a dreary, unexpected little town, but, like all natives of such forlorn, out-of-the-world places, the people cannot understand how any one can be happy anywhere else; and when any of them leaves the wild unlovely place they accompany him with wondering pity to the outskirts of their paradise, and never cease to implore and expect his return for good. They are known to be thoughtful and solid, make good use of an extensive library, gathered mostly by themselves, and are unwearied in their attendance on ordinances. This deep religious feeling has no doubt received a colouring from the memory of many Covenanting struggles floating about the district. Here in an especial manner was the preaching ground of Cargill and Renwick, of Alexander Peden and Richard Cameron. Only a few years since, “Black Joan frae Crichton peel, a carline stoor and grim," celebrated the bi-centenary of the famous Sanquhar Declaration, in terms of which first Cameron and then Renwick denounced and disowned Charles II. as a tyrant and persecutor. Memories of a more pleasant nature are called up by the remembrance that within a year after Renwick had closed the long line of those who in Scotland sealed their testimony with blood, Allan Ramsay, the poet, was
born at Leadhills. His father was manager of the mines, and there did the author of “ The Gentle Shepherd” continue to live till 1701, when he removed to Edinburgh to commence, at the age of fifteen, an apprenticeship to a wig-maker. Another literary memory is associated with Wanlockhead. A few years after Ramsay's death, and while residing with his sister, Mrs. Telfer, in what is now known as the Duke's shooting lodge, Smollett wrote his inimitable “Humphrey. Clinker,” a novel, we regret to say, of which Mr. Porteous thinks but lightly. Tabetha and Lismahago, Matthew Bramble and Jerry Melford, might have excited the humour of even a Free Church divine in the bleak solitudes of Wanlock. Among other names of some distinction associated with the district are James Taylor, John Hutcheson, and William Symington, all concerned in the early experiments of steam navigation undertaken by Patrick Miller of