Ayrshire Towns and Parishes

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Riccarton OPR Baptisms



 Notes on the way through Ayrshire - 100 years ago  


South of Kilmarnock, and within the district of Kyle. The village of Riccarton stands on the north verge of the parish, a bridge over the Irvine connecting it with the burgh of Kilmarnock, of which it forms a part. It contains an Established Church, occupying an elevated site and having a prominent steeple, defining the south end of Kilmarnock; a public school, and a post office. Population, 1889. It is a place of ancient origin, having an affinity with Riccarton Castle - an old tower which stood where the farm steading of Yardside is, and was for generations the property and residence of the paternal ancestors of the national hero, William Wallace. It was made a burgh of barony in 1638. When Wallace’s grandfather died, the property descended to Adam, his eldest son; and Malcolm, his second son, father of the hero, got "Elrisle, Auchinboth, and oyir syndry place." But some of these places may have come to him through his wife, the mother of the hero, who was a daughter of Sir Ranald Crawford, hereditary Sheriff, and probably the largest landowner in the shire. The patriot hero was Malcolm’s second son, and was born in 1276, but at which of the places we have been unable to find out. It is generally believed, however, to have been at Elderslie, Paisley.  Riccarton, or Richardtoun, Castle is supposed to have been built at a very early date by one of the Wallaces whose name had been Riccard or Richard. Regarding the difference of spelling and pronunciation, it would be in accordance with philologic science to say that Riccard represents the original Scotch pronunciation, and the substitusion of the ch for the cc or k sound is a Norman-French innovation. A familiar example is the word church, which is a Norman-French rendering of the Scotch word kirk. Henry the Minstrel describes a perilous encounter Wallace had here with five English soldiers. The heroic youth, having slain an Englishman at Dundee, made his escape with his mother home to Ayrshire, and was staying with his uncle Adam at Riccarton. Early one morning he went out fishing in the Irvine, taking his valet or servant boy with him.

 " In Aperill the thre-and-twenty day, Till Erewyn Wattir fyche to tak he went."

Before ten o’clock, Lord Percy (English Governor of Ayr Castle, which had fallen into his hands) rode by with a company of English soldiers, five of whom, seeing Wallace, fell behind, demanding his fish for their master. Wallace replied in a conciliatory manner, saying it would be uncharitable to take them all, and told his boy to give the soldiers a part of them. But one of the soldiers dismounting with drawn sword to take the trouts by force, the warlike spirit of the young giant rose in a moment. Unfortunately he had come out without his sword, which he took care never to do again. He had only the butt of his fishing rod or a stick for handling his net. Henry says :--

" Wallas with it fast on the cheik him tukl Wyth so gud will, quhill of his feit he schuk.

The suerd flew fra him a fur breid on the land. Wallas was glad, and hynt it sane in hand ;

And with the suerd awkwart he him gave Wndyr the hat, his crage in sondre drawe.

Be that the layff lychtyt about Wallas ; He had no help, only bot Goddis grace.

On athir side full fast on him thai dange ; Gret perell was giff thai had lastyt lang.

Apon the hede in gret ire he strak ane ; The sherand suard glaid to the colar bane.

Ane othir on the arme he hitt so hardely, Quhilk hand and suerd bathe on the feld ean ly.

The tother twa fled to thar hors agayne ; He steckit him was last upon the playne.

Thre slew he thar, twa fled with all thair mycht Aftir thar lord, bot he was out of sycht

Takand the mure, or he and thai couth lwyne. Till him thai raid onon, or thai wad blyne,

And cryit ; Lord, abide ; your men ar martyrit doun Rycht cruelly, her in this fals regioun."

"Are the enemy numerous?" inquired the alarmed General, " We saw only one, my lord," was the demure reply, which set his lordship in a fit of laughter. 

John Templeton, vocalist, was born in Riccarton, 1802. He commenced his first professional tour in Scotland in 1836; sang also in England, France, and America. Sir James Shaw was born at Mosshead, Riccarton, August 26, 1764, and educated at the Grammar School, Kilmarnock. When about 15 years of age he went to America, where he was employed in a commercial house. Afterwards proceeding to London, he was made a partner of the firm there; became Lord Mayor of London, 1805; was M.P. for London from 1806 to 1818; created a Baronet in 1809. Sir James endeared himself to Scotland by the active part which he took in raising money in London for the widow and children of Burns, and by his extraordinary kindness in helping Scotch folk resident in London, as well as the singularity of being the first Scotchman who had become chief magistrate of that great city. Died in 1843. His statue in Kilmarnock is by the artist Fillans- so much admired for his busts of the poets Burns, Scott, Hogg, Motherwell, and Cunningham - and was unvailed August 4, 1848.

The town of HURLFORD stands on the left bank of the Irvine, less than two miles east of Riccarton. It has a railway station; Established, Free, and Roman Catholic Churches; a large endowed public school; a post office, with telegraph, money order, and savings bank departments; and shops. 

The village of CROOKEDHOLM, a suburb of Hurlford, is in Kilmarnock parish. It has a spinning mill and a public school. Population, 657. 

Hurlford has acquired its present size through its Portland Iron-works, extensive coal works, and celebrated brick and tile works. Population in 1871, 3488; in 1881, 4385.

The chief seats in the parish are - Shawhill House; Milrig, in a detached portion of the parish, south of Galston; Dollars House; Belfield, adjoining Riccarton, lately gifted to the town of Kilmarnock, and joined to it by a new footbridge over the Irvine; Treesbank House; and Caprington Castle, in a grand ornamental park, one mile and a half west of Riccarton.

Coal, ironstone, and limestone are got, and the district  is enlivened with the voices of locomotive and pit engines.

The surface of the parish is more level than otherwise but rises on the south verge, between the farmhouse of Muggerslandburn and that of Howcommon, to the considerable height of 446 feet above sea level. arable, and the farming good and beautiful. It is wholly Its length, east and west, is fully seven miles; and its breadth along the Cessnock, not counting the loops, is about three miles. Area, 7550 acres. Population, 7112.



1791-99 and 1845 Statistical Accounts


1837 Pigot's Directory of Riccarton


Dunsmuir - coal miner to Coal Baron in Canada

Robert DUNSMUIR was British Columbia Canada's first millionaire.  He was born in Ayrshire, his death certificate apparently lists Burleith / Riccarton Ayr as his birth place


Map of Riccarton 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 Riccarton

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 current Parish Church was built in 1823, on a piece of land known as "The Seat of Judgement", or moothill. It is a plain, but substantial looking edifice, adorned with a spire. The old churchyard which occupies a site on the other side of the road, is the burial place of the Cuninghames of Caprington, and the Campbells of Treesbanks, descendants of the noble house of Cessnock......>




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