Ayrshire Towns and Parishes

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Google Map of Girvan

Notes on the way through Ayrshire - 100 years ago 


South of Kirkoswald. The town of Girvan stands on the left side of Girvan Water, where it enters the sea, 22 miles south-south-west of Ayr; had some existence so early as the eleventh century, and has increased and decreased much with the industry of handloom weaving. It largely consists of one-story houses, with gardens, and stretches to a great length along a plain on the shore; is a seaport and fishing station, a seat of sheriff-courts, and a burgh of barony, created so by Charles II. in 1668. It has a Town Hall; a head post office, with telegraph, money order, insurance, annuity, and savings bank departments; British Linen Company, Commercial, National, Royal, and Union Banks; numerous shops, two hotels, a mechanics’ institute, three public schools, two Established Churches; Free, United Presbyterian, Reformed Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and Roman Catholic Churches ; two railway stations, and a steamboat quay. Population in 1871, 4791; in 1881, 4505. 

Rev. Peter Hately Waddell, LL.D, born at Balquhatston, Slamannan, May 19, 1816; licensed minister of Established Church, 1841; joined Free Church at the Disruption, 1843; but, disagreeing on some point of government, left it the same year, and founded a church for himself at Girvan, known as Waddell’s Church, where he preached for 19 years; in 1862 removed to Glasgow, and founded Trades’ Hall Congregation, still independent of any other denomination. As chairman at the Burns’ Centenary celebration in the Cottage, Alloway, 1859, he delivered an address that at once raised him to fame as a man of high literary genius. Has published lectures on Burns, Shakespeare, Scott, Knox, and Luther; an edition of Burns, critical and biographical, in which he has restored to the original many alterations made by previous editors; also, "Psalms frao Hebrew intil Scottis," " Isaiah int,il Scottis," " Christ of Rovealation and Reality, " " Behold the Man, a TragcJdy for the Closet," "&an and the Clyde," &c. The degree of LL.D. was conferred upon him by Tusculum College, United States, in 1668. Dr. Waddell was member of Glasgow School Board, 1873-79. His writings on Eurns take rank with the highest on the subject.

The seat of Ardmillan, about three miles from the town, has been rendered famous by James Crawford, Lord Ardmillan, born 1805; educated at Ayr Academy, and studied for the law at Glasgow and Edinburgh; admitted to the faculty of advocates, 1829; Sheriff of Perthshire, 1548; Solicitor-General, 1853; raised to the Bench, 1854; decided the notorious Yelverton case, 1865. Died September 7, 1876, aged 71. The seat of Gleudoune stands about a mile from the town.

Vestiges of five ancient camps are traceable in different parts of the parish. The surface of the parish is chiefly hill pasture, with some fine arable land along the shore, and where it is traversed by the Girvan in the north and by Assel Water, an affluent of the Stinchar, in the east. Its length, north and south, is eight miles; and its widest part, across the middle, is five miles. Area, 14,580 acres. Population in 1871, 5685; in 1881, 5480.

Girvan Water rises among lochs in the south of Straiton parish; flows north-westward first, rather rapidly, through wild moors and a narrow glen to Straiton village, a little above which are the Falls of Girvan; thence through an open vale to near the village of Kirkmichael - about half its length-where it turns and flows south-west through the same vale past Crosshill, and through a great wooded valley between hills past Dailly slowly to the sea, 25 miles. Below Straiton Hills the open vale is finely diversified with dairy farms; glens run into the hills south and east. Farther down, in the parish of Dailly, the valley, densely wooded and bounded with hills, has in some places the character of a rich and grand solitude.



1791-99 and 1845 Statistical Accounts



Proverbially, bad news travels fast, and that same evening, from all parts of the immediately surrounding country, came in persons to gaze upon the corpse. Among them was James Bannatyne, the farmer of Chapeldonnan. When one of his servants had told him that there bad been a dead body cast up on the beach he had become at once intensely agitated. For three or four days previous he had been observed at irregular intervals scanning the sea and the sea beach, as if in expectation of finding something. He had also been morose, fretful, and restless, and had altogether been a changed man. There was nothing known that could account for his altered demeanour. For some weeks there had been residing with him a young man, a relative of his own, William Dalrymple by name. Somewhat suddenly, nigh a week previous to the discovery of the body, he had taken his departure; but nothing was thought of the event. Dalrymple was a native of Ayr, and had friends in different parts of the shire. He had only come to Chapeldonnan farm on a visit; and, his visit being ended, he had, as Bannatyne said, left to join his friends elsewhere.


The Raid of Barbieston Glen

As night was falling, a September night of the year 1530, there was a gathering of the troopers of Carrick in the court-yard of Cloncaird. Sixty Men and more came riding in....


The Rovers Doom on the Carrick Shore

Udolphe Ederic was a Danish pirate, a rover of the days when piracy was, a profession, and when the strong arm of the individual was potent. His hunting-ground was the Scottish coast.


StreetMap of Girvan

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.


Map of Girvan 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.


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.


  Ordnance Survey Town Plan of Girvan 1857

Zoom in on Old Girvan streets.



The old churchyard contains a tombstone to the memory of the Rev. Samuel Stewart, one of the early parish ministers, who ministered in Girvan for 20 years, and died in 1711. The Rev. Peter McMaster, of Girvan, and Mr Thomas McKechnie, the founder of the McKechnie Institute, also are interred in the old burying ground......>




Girvan Web Sites


Stuart McGarragle's Web Site

Page dedicated to Ayr United, Tourism in Girvan and rugby


Our Family Lines

Old photos of Girvan and Maybole families, WWI postcards of Maybole and Hamilton, Ontario. ROBB, ROWAN, MCCALL, MCGHIE and KENNEDY are some of the names included in the database.



Girvan Books


Geological Excursions Around Glasgow and Girvan
J D Lawson (Editor), D S Weedon (Editor)

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Geology of the Country Around Girvan: Explanation for 1:50,00 Geological Sheet 7 (Scotland)
I.B. Cameron, P. Stone, J. Smellie

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Girvan and Portpatrick Junction Railway
C.E.J. Dr. Fryer

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Places of Interest About Girvan
Roderick Lawson

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Girvan Maps


Landranger Map 0076: Girvan, Ballantrae & Barrhill
Ordnance Survey

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Pathfinder Map 0490 (NS10/NX19): Girvan
Ordnance Survey

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Ayrshire Books


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







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