Ayrshire Towns and Parishes

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Note there is also a Stair in Cumbria



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Google Map of Stair

Notes on the way through Ayrshire - 100 years ago  


North and west of Ochiltree. The hamlet of Stair, or Stair Bridge, lies in a very pretty place at the north-west border of the parish, where the river Ayr is joined by Trabboch Burn, two and a half miles south of Tarbolton, and one mile from Tarbolton Railway Station. A post office, an Established Church, a public school, a grocerís and a joinerís shop, a smithy, and a few other houses are scattered about. 

Stair House, a little above the bridge, stands on a holm within a beautiful bend of the river, and is a very old and not large mansion, still habitable, but not the residence of the noble family of Dalrymple, who possess the titles of Viscount and Earl of Stair, K.T., and whose seats are Oxenford Castle, Midlothian; Bargany, Girvan; and Lochinch, Wigtownshire. James Dalrymple, first Viscount Stair, was born at Drumurchie, Ayrshire, May, 1619 ; educated at Mauchline Parish School and at Glasgow Mr. Dalrymple joined the Covenant, and in 1638 commanded a company of foot in Glencairnís regiment. In 1641, at the age of 22, he was appointed Professor of Logic in the University of Glasgow; commenced Charles II. home to Scotland; in 1657 was raised to the bench by Cromwell, and in 1664 was created a baronet by Charles II. In 1671 Sir James was appointed President of the Court of Session. In 1681 he and the Earl of Argyll opposed the wretches who passed the cruel Test Act, and in the same year he published his great work, "Institutions of the Law of Scotland." 

The Earl of Argyll, refusing to take the oath - under the Test Act, was accused of treason, tried, and condemned to suffer death. His Lordship, however, made his escape from prison, and fled to Holland. Sir James also refusing, saved his life by escaping to Holland, where he remained six years, and published at Leyden, in 1686, "Physiologia John, also an indomitahle character, who had been counsel for Argyll, was set upon by the enemies of the Presbyterians, twice imprisoned at Edinburgh, and otherwise subjected to great hardships. In 1688 Sir James returned with the Prince of Orange; in 1689 he was re-appointed President of the Court of Session, and in the following year raised to the peerage by the title of Viscount Stair. This very able and thorough Ayrshire Scotchman died November 23, 1695, aged 76.

From Stair Bridge eastward, through finely cultivated undulating farms, to the confluence of the Ayr and Lugar, is about four miles by road; but to follow the grand wooded rocky windings of the river which traces the north Crawford, a relation of Sir William Wallaceís mother - to Drumhowie Burn, where it joins the Coyle - two miles and three-quarters; greatest width, from Old Coylton west to mid-way between the Shield and West Tarelgin, fully two miles. This part also is beautified with woods, and is rich in coal, which has been worked for a long time. Size of the whole parish, 5376 acres. Population in 1871, 734; in 1881, 929.


1791-99 and 1845 Statistical Accounts


1837 Pigot's Directory of Stair


1851 Census for Stair


1872 Some Deaths in Stair


Map of Stair 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 Stair

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 parish of Stair is in the district of Kyle, lying on the south or right bank of the river Ayr, and extending six miles in length, by about two in breadth; it was first erected into an independant parish in 1653, when it was severed from Ochiltree for the accommodation of the noble family of Dalrymple, of Stair. The village of Stair, which comprises but a few dwellings and a neat parish church, is about two miles and a half from Torbolton; its situation is most romantic, and many highly ornamental mansions add to the beauty of the surrounding country.....>




Stair Web Sites


Stair Parish Church Website

Stair Parish Church has produced a web site. Derek Barber an elder at Stair Church recently wrote a history of Stair Parish called "Steps through Stair", a History of Stair and Trabboch.   To-date there have been nearly a 1000 copies sold with all proceeds going to The Erskine Hospital and Quarrier Homes, so far they have sent £3500 between the two charities.

STAIR CHURCH recently put online the Parish Baptismal Register, 1862-1917. There are 1,500 entries (4,000 names). Entries include child's name, father's name, mother's maiden name, father's occupation, address, and date of birth.

 Webmaster Derek Barber



Stair Books

Steps through Stair

By Derek Barber

A history of Stair and Trabboch, has just been reprinted after the first 1000 copies sold out.   The 2nd edition is now available.

This book provides an excellent, concise account of the historic Parish of Stair in the heart of Burns Country. The book will appeal to both those who are new to the area and those who know the area well. Due to its many historical connections - Robert Burns, the massacre of Glencoe, James Dalrymple, Viscount Stair the founder of Scots Law, to name but a few, this book is sure to appeal to a wide range of audience and is well worth the very reasonable price.

To Order or More Information

Ayrshire Books


Help needed to source old pictures, postcards or photographs, interesting articles or the history of Stair. If you would like to help please contact -

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