Ayrshire Towns and Parishes

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Kilmaurs view by Kenny Monaghan 


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Google Map of Kilmaurs


Notes on the way through Ayrshire - 100 years ago


South west of Fenwick, west of Kilmarnock. The town of Kilmaurs stands on Carmel Water (called here Kilmaurs Water), two miles north of Kilmarnock. It is a place of historic antiquity; was made a burgh of barony in 1527, by James V.; has a Town Hall, with ornamental spire; a post office, with money order and savings bank departments; two public schools; Established, Free, and United Presbyterian Churches; a few shops, a shoe factory, a smithy, a railway station, and grain mills. Population in 1871, 1145; in 1881, 1203.

A distinguishing feature of Kilmaurs in its early days was the manufacture of cutlery. Having regard to this, an anecdote has come down to us from a time when the ministers of Ayrshire, more than of any other part of Scotland, were at one with the people in stoutly resisting the encroachments of Anglo-Roman Episcopacy, and not only that, but-not much like the ministers of our day-were at one with the people in resisting also the encroachments of the English dialect. On a certain Sabbath, one of those young would-he-English clergymen, whose "English style and gesture fine were a’ clean out o’ season," was permitted to preach the forenoon sermon in the Parish Church, On the afternoon the pulpit was occupied by the honest-hearted parish minister, who thus began his discourse:-

 " My freens, we ha’e had great routh o’ fine English ware amang us the day! but aiblins my Kilmaurs whittle will cut as keen as ony English blade."

A ruined castle close by was the residence of the noble family of Cunningham. Alexander Cunningham, first Earl of Glencairn, was created Baron Kilmaurs in 1450, and afterwards Earl of Glencairn, by James III. He was killed fighting against the English at Sauchieburn, June 11, 1488. James, fourteenth Earl, patron of Burns, was born 1749. He introduced the subject of Burns at a meeting of the gentlemen of the Caledonian Hunt in the winter of 1786, and made a motion, which was carried unanimously, that each gentleman subscribe for one copy of Burns’ Poems and pay a guinea for it. The publisher’s price was only six shillings. To this bold and generous movement of the noble Earl, which was joined by most of the nobility and gentry of Scotland, was mainly due the extraordinary success of the Edinburgh edition, which brought to the empty pockets of the starved national poet the sum of £500. It was during the same year that the Earl sold his estate of Kilmaurs. The gratitude of Burns to his intelligent, sympathetic friend was fairly beyond bounds. Writing to Dr. Moor, he says:-" A kind Providence placed me under one of the noblest of men, the Earl of Glencairn. Oublie moi, grand Dieu, si jamais je l’oublie." And in the concluding stanza of his "Lament for James, Earl of Glencairn," we have the most beautiful and loving tribute ever paid to the memory of a man:-


" The brideqroom may forget the bride Was made his wedded wife yestreen ; 

The monarch nay forget the crown That on his head an hour has been ; 

The mother may forget the child That smiles sae sweetly on her knee ; 

But I’ll remember thee, Glencairn, And a’ that thou hast done for me." 


Died, January 30, 1791, aged 42. He was succeeded by his brother John, fifteenth Earl, who survived him only five years; and, dying without issue, the title became dormant.

CROSSHOUSE, a village two miles south-by-west of Kilmaurs, has a railway station, an Established Church, a public school, and agricultural implement works. Population, 740. Its antiquity is the ruin of Crosby Castle.



ELLERSLIE and FARDELHILL are neighbouring villages, with a joint population of 450. Tour, Thornton, Craig, Carmelbank, and Towerhill are seats.

Gentle heights, adorned with tufts of plantation, vary the level aspect of the country here. The land is finely cultivated. Coals are extensively worked. Length of the parish, south-west, six miles; greatest breadth, nearly three miles. Area, 5900 acres. Population in 1871, 3449; in 1881, 3704.



1791-99 and 1845 Statistical Accounts


Secessionist Churches parish records


1837 Pigot's Directory of Kilmaurs


Map of Kilmaurs 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 Kilmaurs

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.



Kilmaurs Web Sites

Kilmaurs Parish and Church and Village


Kilmaurs Books


Kilmaurs Maps


Pathfinder Map 0444 (NS44/54): Stewarton & Kilmaurs
Ordnance Survey

To Order or More Information

Ayrshire Books


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






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