Ayrshire Towns and Parishes

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Atomz - Search whole website for Beith    Whatuseek - Search website for Beith

Google Map of Beith


Notes on the way through Ayrshire - 100 years ago  


North-west of Dunlop. 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

Robert Shedden, 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. 

Janet Pollock, mother of Tannahill, the poet, was the daughter of a farmer in Bog Hall, fully half-a-mile east of the town. 

John Witherspoon, 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 Charles,   Witherspoon 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 BURNHOUSE

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. Irving, 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.


Some Old Parish Registers for Beith


1791-99 and 1845 Statistical Accounts


Map of Beith 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 Beith

This Link takes you to the STREET website where you will find a street map of the town 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.



About 1683, the Kirktoun of Beith is said to have consisted of "five dwelling houses, besides the kirk and minister's manse. These buildings are still known as the "five feued houses," and now form the centre, or main street, of the town.....>



Beith Web Sites

Beith on the Web 


All about life and shopping in a small Ayrshire town with historical connections to American Independence


Gordon Robertson's Homepage

History of Beith, My Beith Photos, Old Beith Photos, Garnock Rugby Club, Spiers School, Beith Academy, Beith Furniture, Satellite Images, Aerial Images, McIntosh Family Tree, Robertson Family Tree, HMS Mahratta, Robert McBeath VC


Beith Books and Maps

The Beith Supplement - The Story of Beith’s Newspaper - ISBN 0 9522720 1 6 - By Donald L Reid  

BOOK REVIEW - By Iain D Shaw - Past President of Greenock Burns Club - (Tel. 01505-614506)

Published on 15 October 2000 

Here is a book that will open your eyes up to the rich history of the little Ayrshire town of Beith famous for its cabinet and chairmaking skills. This fascinating book, limited to 1500 numbered copies, traces the history of the Beith Supplement Newspaper from its birth in 1865 until it was incorporated into The Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald in 1965. The newspaper served the town of Beith with a population of less than 7,000 people for 100 years. During that time there were only four owner/editors and the book captures their contribution to the success of the newspaper. Readers will be captivated by the excerpts of news from the newspaper during its 100 year journey including details of Beithites who migrated firth of  Scotland in the early 20th Century; news about cabinet works; curling works; The Beith Volunteers; the intriguing Dr. Mathias; the Cadgers parade and races; the military resident in Beith to tackle the smugglers; Rev. John Witherspoon, Beith minister who signed the American Declaration of Independence; the fight for a clean water supply to combat fever and cholera; the fight for a branch railway in Beith; the much loved Spier’s School; deaths and injuries in the factories of Beith and Barrmill. The many stories in this book give a fascinating insight into Beith over a period of 100 years, evoking memories of bygone times. 

The foreword to the book was written by popular retired GP, Dr Arthur Jamieson FSA Scot. In addition, 110 photographs of Beith and district are included together with 16 lines drawings of people and places supplied by local artists Anne McLean and Elizabeth Nimmo to illustrate text. This book is sure to appeal to anyone who has connections with Ayrshire and Beith, Kilbirnie and Dalry in particular. The book is limited to 1500 numbered copies. Interestingly, Yesterday’s Beith - A Pictorial Guide by Donald L Reid and Isobel F Monahan published in January 1999 sold out completely (1500 books) in 7 weeks. There are no plans to reprint this book. The Beith Supplement book is available from Wilsons, Main Street; Brightsparks, Strand and Val’s Eglinton Street, Beith for £8 or by post at £9-40 only from Beith Open Award Group, c/o Donald Reid, 7 Manuel Avenue, Beith, KA15 1BJ Tel No. 01505-503801 or e-mail: donaldreid@bun.com. Within 5 days of publication the book has already sold almost 500 copies which is a truly remarkable achievement and a measure of the interest in this book.This is a book to be dipped into and enjoyed as you are taken back on the wings of time to a Beith which even surprisingly young people will recall with a glint in the eye and a great sense of pride. 

Author, Donald L Reid, belongs to Dalmellington, but has lived in Beith for the last 15 years. He served as a police officer in the Ayrshire Constabulary and Strathclyde Police for 32 years, the last 7 as a Superintendent. He was in charge of operational policing in Glasgow City Centre for the last 5 years of his service. His first book was Reflections of Beith and district in 1994 and with Isobel Monahan, Yesterday’s Beith – A Pictorial Guide in 1999. His next book entitled Old Beith was published by Stenlake, Ochiltree  (Tel. 01290-423114) on 20 October. All royalties arising from the sale of this book will be donated to Beith Old Folks Welfare Committee and Beith (North Ayrshire) Open Award Group.


Beith Street Map

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Reflections of Beith and District

Donald Lees Reid (Editor)

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Ayrshire Books


Help needed to source interesting articles or the history of Beith. If you would like to help please contact me.







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