Ayrshire Towns and Parishes

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Notes on the way through Ayrshire - 100 years ago



On the shore, north of Monkton. The village of Dundonald stands three and a-half miles north-east of Troon, one mile and a quarter south of Drybridge Railway Station, in a landscape beautiful with cultivated fields and wooded heights, and, together with the ruin of its old Royal Castle, on the top of a little hill adjacent, it presents a fine primeval picture. It has Established and Free Churches, a public school, and a post office. Population (1871), 277.

Dundonald Castle is in the very old Scottish order of architecture, being a square tower of several stories, each story consisting of only one room, and the walls of a prodigious thickness. The first and second stories are still standing-the second one being remembered traditionally as the Kingís room. Dr. Johnson, on his tour with Boswell, is said to have made the ruin ring with laughter at the idea of a Scottish monarch being contented with such narrow accommodation; and we Scotch, too, may be disposed to laughter, but it is the laughter of loyal love for monarchs who honestly regarded their office as a divine institution for the national good and prosperity, and not one for the mere worship of useless expense like Turkish and other barbarous monarchies. Scottish monarchs of that early period - and they have not yet quite lost their character - it is certain were not to any considerable extent an imitation of vulgar Eastern rulers, but were, in the main, a continuation of the aboriginal clan chief, who was quite above the notion of accumulating property for his own personal use, that he might prove his superiority to his subjects by more expensive living. They possessed large estates, nominally private property ; but the existence of this and other similar towers, in which they were content to live, shows that they did not make a private use of them. Robert II., King of Scotland, First of the Royal House of Stuart, was the only child of Walter Stewart, High Steward of Scotland, by his wife, the Princess Marjory Bruce, daughter of King Robert Bruce, and was born March 2, 1316. It was he who lived at the Castle of Dundonald. At the age of 23, and while he was yet a subject of the Crown, he married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Alexander Mure of Rowallan, Kilmarnock. Fordun, who lived at the same time, says- " He was a comely youth, tall and robust, liberal, gay, and courteous; and for the innate sweetness of his disposition, generally beloved by true-hearted Scotchmen." By this marriage he had four sons and six daughters, and by his second marriage, two sons and four daughters. At his fatherís death he succeeded to the office of High Steward of Scotland ; and, conjointly with the Earl of Moray, was appointed Regent of the Kingdom during the minority of his uncle, David II., son of King Robert Bruce by his second marriage. When David was taken prisoner at the battle of Nevilleís Cross, 1346, the Steward was again appointed Regent; and during the 11 yearsí captivity of the King administered the affairs of the Kingdom with remarkable sagacity. The release of the King was procured in 1357 ; and on his death in 1371, Stewart of Dundonald was proclaimed King by the title of Robert II., in accordance with the destination of the Crown settled by the Scotch Parliament held at Ayr on the 26th of April, 1315. During his reign several hostile movements were made across the Borders by both nations ; and on the 19th of August, 1388, was fought the determined battle of Otterburn, or Chevy Chase, in which the Scotch were the victors. Shortly after this proud event, King Robert, getting old and infirm, retired from public duty, and lived in peaceful seclusion at Dundonald, where he died, April 19th, 1390, in the 75th year of his age and 19th of his reign. It may be explained that the office of Steward or Stewart of Scotland was held by so many generations of the same wise and clever family, that the name of the office came to be regarded also as the family surname. The change in the spelling from Stewart to Stuart was made by Queen Mary, with the object, it would seem, of suiting it to the style of her French tutor.

TROON, the modern chief town of the parish, is a seaport and watering place, and stands on a promontory six miles north of Ayr. The promontory, which is about a quarter of a mile broad, and somewhat rocky, extends fully a mile into the sea, curving to the right, and forming a picturesque natural harbour, improved by extensive works constructed about the beginning of this century. The Kilmarnock and Troon Railway, the first in Scotland, but now reconstructed, runs to the outer end of the promontory, which is occupied with offices and other buildings connected with shipping. The town is built on a plan partly rectangular and partly crescent, suiting the circle of the south sands, and contains a number of handsome streets, with numerous neatly built villas and cottages, garnished with flower and other gardens, and is a healthy resort for sea bathers. It has a post office (with telegraph, money order, insurance, annuity, and savings bank); British Linen Company and Union Banks; a large public school; Established, Free, and United Presbyterian Churches ; railway station, half-a-mile to the east ; and its chief industries are shipbuilding and sailmaking. Population in 1871, 2790; in 1881, 2387.

John Kelso Hunter, artist and litterateur, was born in the parish, December 15th, 1802. In his childhood he herded; in his youth he served his apprenticeship to the shoemaking; and after that, he worked at the shoes and at fine art painting alternately, varying the alternation subsequently with literary work. As a portrait painter he acquired considerable fame ; and late in life he published "Retrospect of an Artistís Life," " Memorials of West Country Men and Manners," and "Life Studies of Character." Mr. Hunter, as an artist and cobbler, worked first in Kilmarnock, and latterly in Glasgow. For a racy account of his life, see his "Retrospect." Died February 3, 1873.

THE VILLAGE OF LOANS is one mile and a-half east of Troon. Fullarton House, Curreath House, Hillhouse, Auchans House, Newfield House, Fairlie House, and Shewalton House, are the chief seats. 

Shewalton has been rendered famous by Patrick Boyle, Lord Shewalton, son of David, first Earl of Glasgow; born 1690 ; raised to the bench by the title of Lord Shewalton, 1746; died 1746. Also, the Right Hon. David Boyle; born July 22, 1771 ; M.P. for Ayrshire, 1793; Lord Justice-General of Scotland, 1841; died February 4, 1853.

FULLARTON stands in a loop of the Irvine, about five miles north of Troon. It now forms part of Irvine Burgh, to which it is linked by two bridges. A post office, public school, and Established and Free Churches are in it. Population, 3990. 

The parish contains coal, sandstone, and also whetstone. The surface rises in the centre to low hills, and, with the exception of a level strip along the shore: is embellished with belts and clumps of plantation, and is properly cultivated. Its length from Irvine River along the shore, south to the Rumbling Burn, is seven and a-half miles; breadth, six miles. Area (including Lady Isle, which lies two and a-half miles south-west of Troon promontory), 12,365 acres. Population, 8086.


  Photographs of Headstones in Dundonald Cemetery

By Kenny Monaghan kennymonaghan@btinternet.com contact him here


1791-99 and 1845 Statistical Accounts


1837 Pigot's Directory of Dundonald


Map of Dundonald 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 Dundonald

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 Place Names

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.



The session records date from 1602, and the first volume, extending over a period of 40 years, contains a great deal of parochial information that is curious and interesting. Among entries of this kind are minutes of the trial of Patrick Lowrie, warlock; and Catherine McTeir, demit of witchcraft. These seem to have been cases of peculiar interest, as the attention of the session was more or less occupied by them for nearly five years............>




Dundonald Web Sites


Royal Dundonald Castle

Visit the Dundonald Castle website for the facts and figures on the castle which stands on a site first occupied well before 2000BC. A hill fort was built between 500 and 200BC. Three noble families are linked to the site - the Stewarts - the Cathcarts  - the Wallaces.


The Stewarts of Dundonald - a family tree


FlAALD - Hereditary steward of the lords of Dol in Brittany

ALAN - Enters service of Henry, son of William the Conqueror

WALTER  1136-1177

ALAN  1177-1204

WALTER  1204-1241

ALEXANDER  1241-1283

JAMES  1283-1309

WALTER  c. 1309-1326

ROBERT  c.  1326-1390

ROBERT III  1390-1405

JAMES I  1406-1437

JAMES II  1437-1460

JAMES III  1460-1488

The Dundonald Estate is sold to the CATHCARTS in 1482


Dundonald Books


Airfield Focus No 35: Dundonald
Phil Jones

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Dundonald 1902

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Troon, Dundonald

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Ayrshire Books

Listing of some good Ayrshire Books for the researcher.


Help needed to source old pictures, postcards or photographs, interesting articles or the history of Dundonald. If you would like to help please contact email address below






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