Old Images of Ochiltree, Scotland

old photos and films with Local History Videos .com

Glimpse history through old images of Ochiltree, in East Ayrshire, Scotland.

For such a tiny village, Ochiltree in Scotland has a surprising number of historical and literary connections.

Michael Ochiltree originated from here, later becoming a close associate of King James I of Scotland.

The famous Scottish poet Robert Burns referred to the local Tennant family, including Charles Tennant, Alexander Tennant and Edward Tennant, 1st Baron Glenconner.

In 1901, George Douglas Brown wrote The House with the Green Shutters about his birthplace, naming the book after one of the stone cottages on Main Street.

Another local resident, born on February 3rd, 1945, became the famous singer, songwriter and record producer, Johnny Cymbal, after relocating to the USA.

Old Photos of Ochiltree

Enjoy a video showcasing old photos of Ochiltree’s streets across a number of decades.

Old Photographs Ochiltree Ayrshire Scotland – tourscotland on YouTube

Memorials of Ochiltree

“Memorials of Ochiltree and neighbourhood. In a letter to a friend”, written by David Rowan, was published in 1879.

The book mostly covers Scottish history, but I have pulled out the following excerpts relating to Ochiltree’s history and people.


Were it not for the continued friendship
which has existed between our respective families for
more than 100 years; for the interest taken in me by
your father when I was but a boy; and for the pleasing
memories I recall of my boyish days about Ochiltree,
and the many fishing expeditions which we had
together-now more than thirty years ago-it is not
likely that this letter (which you requested me to write)
about your forefathers would have been attempted.

Page 21:

The Boswells of Auchinleck have, for the past three
or four generations, been the most popular family in
Ayrshire. He who wrote Johnson’s life will be known
as the writer of the best biography of that celebrated
author yet compiled. He had a cheerful innoceney of
disposition which made him beloved by all.
Sir Alexander was the very type of an active, able,
County gentleman, strong in heart and limb, and fond
of all athletic sports. The manner in which he suc-
ceeded in raising funds for the erection of Burns’
Monument on the banks of the Doon, showed him to
be a man of tact, and as having a considerable know-
ledge of mankind. The good folks of Ochiltree
rejoiced in every success of the late Sir James,
and regretted his premature death.

Page 22:

We shall begin our notice of the Ochiltree families
with the Colvilles. Gilbert de Colville accompanied
William the Conqueror to England. A branch of
the family settled in Scotland in 1135-1154, and
formed the two noble lines of Culross and Ochiltree.
At present Lord Colville of Culross is one of the
representative Peers of Scotland. Eustice, heiress of
Sir William Colville of Ochiltree, along with her two
brothers, Thomas and Adam, swore fealty to Edward,
1296; during the reign of Robert Bruce she granted to
the monks of Melrose the church of Ochiltree with all
its pertinents, which grant was confirmed by Robert
Colville in 1324. Between the Colvilles of Ochiltree
and Auchinleck an old feud existed. The Colvilles were
retainers of the Crown; Auchinleck, of the House of
Douglas (an old relationship first formed during the
time of Wallace and Bruce). When Auchinleck was

Page 23:

on a mission to meet Douglas, Colville, with a body of
retainers, waylaid and slew him, in 1449. Douglas
was not slow in avenging the death of his friend, for
he at once laid siege to the castle of Ochiltree,
which then stood on a rock on the opposite side of
the Lugar from where the castle of Auchinleck stands;
he levelled it with the ground, putting Colville and
the entire garrison to the sword. The remains of the
foundations may yet be pointed out. The event may
have given rise to the legend of the ” Sheep’s Head.”
This daring contempt of the public law was regarded
at Court as an insult to the royal authority, and so
roused the resentment of James II. that Douglas
thought it prudent to withdraw from the country. He
went on a pilgrimage to Rome, with a retinue of six
knights, fourteen gentlemen, and eighty attendants of
inferior rank, in a style of grand, but rude magnificence.
In 1451 Douglas was guilty of a still greater atrocity,
in the killing of young M’Lellan, nephew of Sir Patrick
Gray. James had long wished to lower the power of
the House of Douglas, and many hopes and allurements
were held out to Douglas to visit the king at Stirling
Castle; letters of safe conduct under the great seal
were given, and when at last he was induced to go, he
was foully murdered by James himself-1452.

Robert Colville fell at Flodden. After that most
disastrous battle many violent acts were done in Ayr-
shire, the strong houses of Ochiltree and Cumnock
were both taken possession of by the people, their
owners and retainers having been swept away by that
fatal engagement.
Sir James Colville, the eldest son, in 1527 granted

Page 24

an annual rent of £10 for the support of a chaplain to
officiate at St. Mary’s altar, in the church of Ochiltree,
which grant was confirmed by the King, 1527 and 1528.

This St. Mary’s church was the same which
stood in the churchyard, and served the people of
Ochiltree until the present church was built in the end
of last century. In 1530 Sir James Colville exchanged
the lands of Ochiltree for the Barony of Wemyss and
Lochorshire in Fife, when the Colvilles retired from
Ochiltree, and the title has been dormant since the
death of David in 1782.
Andrew Stuart, who had acquired the Barony of
Ochiltree, was, by the consent of the Estates, created
Lord Stuart of Ochiltree, 15th March, 1543; he
died 1548, and was succeeded by his only son,
Andrew, commonly called the “good Lord Ochiltree.”
He was one of the Lords of the Congregation,
and a principal actor in all the negotiations with
the Queen Regent, Mary of Guise, 1559 and 1560,
and afterwards in all the proceedings of the Reformers,
In the reign of Queen Mary he accompanied Knox to
Holyrood, and was present at the interviews which
the Reformer had with the Queen. He opposed her
marriage with Bothwell, fought against her forces at
Langside near Glasgow, and was wounded by Lord
Herries. He had five sons and two daughters; one of
his daughters, Margaret, was married to Knox at
Ochiltree House, March, 1564. It has always been
averred that Knox was married in the present old
house at Ochiltree, even the very room in which the
marriage took place used to be pointed out. The truth
of this is open to grave doubt, the architecture of the

Page 25:

present house not being so old as the time of Knox. It is
recorded that the house at Ochiltree was burned to the
ground on the second day following that on which
Cameron and his party were massacred at Airds Moss,
which event took place on the 22nd June, 1680, or
116 years after this marriage ceremony; and it is also
recorded that Sir John Cochrane, then in possession,
went and lived in the new house.
There can be little doubt that Knox was married
in the house which was burned down in 1600s,
the ruins of which (much to be regretted) were
but recently removed.
a former marriage; both took degrees at Cam-
bridge; one died shortly thereafter, the other was
appointed to an English church, but he also died in
early life, unmarried. By Margaret Stuart, he had
three daughters; the youngest of them, Elizabeth, was
married to the celebrated John Welch, minister of
Ayr. She died at Ayr, 1625. John Knox’s widow,
Margaret Stuart, was, after his death, married to the
Knight of Fawdonside.
In Knox’s will he leaves his spouse, Margaret
Stuart, the 800 merks which are laid upon the lands
of Pennymore by Andrew, Lord Stuart of Ochiltree,
his father-in-law; failing her, to his three daughters,
and failing them, to the said Andrew, Lord Stuart;
he evidently did not expect that his wife would
marry again. Mrs. Knox’s eldest brother, Andrew,
master of Ochiltree, had two sons and six daughters.
Her second brother was the bold, audacious, and profligate Captain James Stuart, afterwards Earl of
Arran, and Lord High Chancellor of Scotland in the
Knox had two sons by

Page 26:

time of James VI. He caused Regent Morton to be
put to death for being implicated in the murder of
Darnley, the same who pronounced the eulogium over
the grave of Knox, Stuart’s own brother-in-law,
“There lyes he who never feared the face of man.”
He was killed by Douglas of Torthorwald, when on
his way to Ochiltree. Mrs. Knox’s third brother was
killed by the Earl of Bothwell in Blackfriars Wynd,
Edinburgh, in 1588.
Sir James, fourth Lord Ochiltree, was convicted of
raising a false charge against the Marquis of Hamilton
(or lesing, as it is termed), from a hereditary enmity
which he bore against their house, and confined in the
Castle of Blackness for more than 20 years, or from
1631 until delivered by the English after the battle of
Worcester, 1652. The title of Lord Ochiltree has been
dormant since 1675.
Following the Stuarts in possession of Ochiltree,
came the Cochranes, a family of great antiquity. They
came with the old sea rovers and settled in Renfrew-
shire and Ayrshire. William de Coveran made his sub-
mission to Edward I., 1296; his name appears in the
“ Ragman Rolls.” The next of the race that figures
in history was Robert Cochrane, who professed to be an
architect; he became the favourite of James III., and
was raised to the earldom of Mar. He was a man of
great bodily strength, was despised and hated by the
older nobles, and they hanged him over Lauder Bridge
in 1482. It was on this occasion that Archibald, Earl
of Angus, acquired the nickname “Bell the Cat.”
William was created Lord Cochrane of Ochiltree in
December, 1647, and afterwards, on 12th May, 1669,

Page 27:

Earl of Dundonald, under a patent, as follows:-“May
” it please your Majesty, this contains your Majesty’s
“ warrant for a patent to be passed under the great
” seal of Scotland for creating William, Lord Cochrane,
” Earl of Dundonald, Lord Cochrane of Paisley and
“ Ochiltree, with power, &c., &c.
(Signed) ” LAUDERDALE,
This William, first Earl of Dundonald, married
Euphame, daughter of Sir William Scott, of Ardross
in Fife, by whom he had two . sons and three

William, Lord Cochrane, who predeceased his
father, and died 1680. He married Catherine, daughter
of John, Earl of Cassilis, and had sons: John, who
succeeded his grandfather as second Earl of Dun-
donald; William Cochrane of Kilmaronock; also three
daughters-1st, Margaret, married to Alexander, Earl
of Eglinton; 2nd, Helen, married to John, Earl of
Sutherland; and 3rd, Jean, married to John, Viscount
Dundee, and afterwards to William Livingstone of

Sir John Cochrane of Ochiltree ; married Mar-
garet Strickland, and had two sons and one daughter.
William, Sir John’s eldest son, had a family of nine
sons and four daughters. In default of issue in the
elder branch of the family, Thomas, his seventh son,
became eighth Earl of Dundonald. The present family
are thus descended from Sir John Cochrane of Ochil-
tree. Sir John Cochrane, in 1683, joined Baillie of
Jerviswood and others in concocting a scheme of
emigration to the North American Colonies, with the

Page 28:

view of escaping from the tyrannical measures of the
Government of Charles II., and was one of a deputa-
tion sent to London to organise measures for that
purpose. While there they entered into a conspiracy
for a general insurrection, at the head of which were
the Dukes of Monmouth and Shaftesbury, Lord William
Russel, Algernon Sydney, &c. On the discovery of the
Rye House Plot, Sir John and his second son escaped to
Holland. The estates of the latter were forfeited on 9th
April, 1684, he having been in arms at Bothwell Brig,
although then only sixteen years of age. They remained
in Holland till the death of Charles, where Sir John
and his son, along with Hume of Polwarth, Fletcher of
Saltoun, and others, joined the Argyle and Monmouth
rebellion, which commenced in the end of April, 1685.
This rebellion was of short duration, for on the 30th
June Argyle was beheaded.
On the failure of this rebellion, and when Argyle
was apprehended at Inchinnan, Sir John Cochrane had
also crossed the Clyde, eager to make his way into Ayr-
shire, when he encountered a body of the King’s troops
at Muirdyke near Lochwinnoch, from whom he escaped,
but was during the same night betrayed into their
hands and ignominiously conducted by the common
hangman, bound and bare-headed, to the Tolbooth of
Edinburgh. His estates were forfeited, but his life
was spared, not (according to Macaulay) until his
father had given a douceur of £5000 to the priests.
During the time Sir John was a prisoner in Edinburgh, a romantic story is told how his daughter
Grizel played a bold part in her father’s behalf. He
had been condemned to death by the Council in

Page 29:

London, the warrant for his execution had been for-
warded to Edinburgh by the ordinary postman (in
those days a man on horseback), and she conceived
the bold idea of robbing the postman of his bag,
extracting the death warrant, and before another could
be obtained from London, without which the execution
could not take place, she believed that her grand-
father’s influence at Court was so great that he would
succeed in getting a reprieve for her father. Of course
she was successful, at least so says the story.
On the occasion of this rebellion the persecuted Cove-
nanters stood aloof, for in the articles of rebellion no
mention had been made of the Covenants, nor of the
Presbyterian form of worship; and besides, both Argyle
and Cochrane were implicated in the persecuting mea-
sures of the Government, Sir John Cochrane having in
1680 directed Bruce of Earlshall to Airds Moss, where
Cameron and his party were massacred 22nd July of
that year, and Argyle having in 1681 voted for the
death of Mr. Cargill. Sir John Cochrane got 10,000
merks, or £555 sterling, for the information which he
furnished to Bruce. Two days following this massacre
at Airds Moss the house at Ochiltree took fire by
lightning, and was burned to the ground. The good
people of Ochiltree did not entertain a doubt that
the burning of this house was a just judgment on Sir
John Cochrane for the part taken by him in the murder
of Cameron and his party.
The story of your family ought to be given here, as
the burning of that house was the cause of their removal
to Finlayston, in our parish. This would, however,
interfere with the consecutive notices of those families

Page 30:

who successively were in possession of the estate of
Ochiltree. It may be better, therefore, to take up your
family history after disposing of the families referred to.
The estate of Ochiltree was conferred on John,
second son of William, first Earl of Dundonald, by a
Crown charter of date 6th March, 1667; but by his
forfeiture, in consequence of his connection with the
Argyle rebellion in 1685, the estate fell to the Crown,
although it was afterwards restored to his son William
by an Act of James II., in May, 1686.
By this Act a great number of the Scottish knights
and nobles had their forfeitures removed, and were
again put in possession of their estates. It is extremely
interesting to peruse the old doeuments pertaining to
the confiscation, and afterwards the restoration, of the
estates belonging to those knights and nobles who had
incurred the displeasure of the Court. I have before
me a copy of the Act of Annexation to the Crown of
several lands which belonged to such. This Act was
passed in the first Parliament of King James II., on the
16th June, 1685.

The book contains an excerpt of the Act not included here.

Page 32:

The spelling of the names of places seoms to have
puzzled the writers of the above doeument, Ochiltree
being spelled three different ways in the same Act.
John Cochrane married Margaret, daughter of Sir
Thomas Strickland of Bonnyton, in Yorkshire, by whom
he had William, already referred to; John, designed
as of Waterside; and a daughter, Grizel, who married
John Keir of Morriston, in Berwickshire.
Charles Cochrane, Sir John’s grandson, sold the
estate of Ochiltree to Governor Macrae, by a disposi-
tion of date 12th October, 17:39, for the sum of £25,000.
During the first persecution, when Ochiltree was in
possession of the Stuarts, and under the second, when
in possession of the Cochranes, the people of Ochiltree
seem to have been kept from suffering during those
unhappy times. I have never learned of injury being
done to any person about Ochiltree. It was very
different at Kilmarnock, Cumnock, New Cumnock,
and Muirkirk-in short all places seemed to suffer but
Ochiltree. Sir John Cochrane appears to “have been
a person of many résources.” There was an unpopular
tax in force from 1693 to 1696, called the “Poll Tax,”
for the purpose of raising funds to clear off some
arrears due to the officers and to the army, and to
maintain some regiments to keep the Highlanders in
subjection after the massacre of Glencoe. The uplift-
ing of this tax was farmed out and let to the highest
bidder, and was taken advantage of by speculators, a
practice that we have condemned so much in Turkey,
and which has brought so many troubles on that
Sir John was principal tacksman for the shires of

Page 33:

Lanark, Renfrew, Dumbarton, and Bute, including, of
course, the burghs within their limits, and he issued
commissions to local collectors. Every person of what-
ever age or sex, excluding paupers, was liable to the
tax. Those in ordinary circumstances had to pay
six shillings Scots, or 6d. sterling; tradesmen, twelve
shillings Scots, or 1s. sterling; servants, a twentieth
part of their fee; tenants, one merk for every 100
merks of rent; heritors of £50 and under £200, four
pounds Scots, or 6s. 8d. sterling; from £200 to £500,
£9 Scots; knights and barons, £24 Scots; dukes, £100
Scots, or £8 6s., 8d. sterling.

Information about the Dundonal family and others elsewhere in Ayrshire.

Page 38, letter from John Graham to General Dalzell:

” Kilbryde, June 15th, 1684.-May it please your Excellency,-
“I parted on Friday, 13th, at twelve o’clock from Paisley, went
” by Kilmarnock and Mauchline, but could hear nothing of these
” rebels. So, hearing Colonel Buchan was at the old castle of
” Cumnock, I took by Ochiltree, who sent an express to a
” tenant’s house of his”, near Airdmoss, and he brought certain
“ notice that they had been at a meadow near his house the
” night before, to the number of fifty-nine, all armed; upon
” which I sent immediately to the Glenkins to Capt. Strachan,
“ to march to Dalmellington and to the Sorn, and to leave
” Mauchline on the left hand, and Newmilns and Loudon Hill
” on the right, and so to this place, scouring all the suspeeted
” places as he came along. I sent to Dumfries to Earlshall, to
” march by the Sanquhar, by the Muirkirk, the Whitrick, and
” the Ploughlands, and so to Streven. Colonel Buchan, with
” twenty dragoons and thirty foot mounted on horseback,
” marched round Cairntable and by Lisburn and Greenock head
” and so down. My Lord Ross and I, with the horse, came
” through the hills more easterly, leaving Douglas and Lesma-
” hago a mile or two on our right. We have left no den, no
” knowe, no moss, no hill unsearched. There is a great drought,
” so we could go almost through all. We traced them from
“ Boghead near Airdmoss, to the Hakhill, within two miles of
” Cumnock town, and from that to Gap, towards Cairntable, but
” never could hear more of them. They are separated, as most
” believe, and gone towards the hills of Moffat. I am sure there

Page 39:

” is not one man of them within these bounds. Earlshall is not
“ yet come this length, nor Captain Strachan. But they are, I
” am sure, near, for the last was at Cumnock all night. The
troops complain mightily of this march, and I know not what
” further can be done. So I have sent Colonel Buchan with the
” troops to Dalmellington, and the troops of Galloway to their
quarters.-I am, your Excellency’s most humble servant,

The book then has more information about John Graham of Claverhouse, who died at the Battle of Killiecrankie.

Page 40:

More immediately connected with Ayrshire, and
especially with Ochiltree and its neighbourhood, than
John Graham of Claverhouse, was James Macrae.
This person, although of very humble birth, ultimately
rose to occupy an exalted position. His education
must have been of the most elementary character.
His whole career is a singularly conspicuous example
of how circumstances the most adverse can be sur-
mounted, and obstacles removed no matter how great,
when fixity of purpose and decision are the characteristies
of a man. He was the son of Bell Gardner, afterwards
known as “Widow Macrae.” He was born during
the latter part of the reign of Charles II., by some
accounts at Ayr, by others at Ochiltree. His mother
was a washerwoman, he a message boy; his father died
when he was a youth. He went to sea, and was after
a time known as Captain Macrae. He was altogether
absent from Scotland 40 years. On the 18th January,
1725, this man, the son of a poor washerwoman, took
his seat as Governor of the Madras Presidency, and on
the 14th May, 1730, he vacated the chair, and George
Morton Pitt, Esq., was installed into the office.
On the 21st January, 1731, Governor Macrae set sail

Page 41:

for England. At this time his mother had been dead
several years, his cousin, Isabella Gardner, had married
Hugh McGuire, of the humble occupation of a carpenter
or wright, and who was known as a good fiddler.
They had a family of four daughters. During
the declining years of widow Macrae’s life this
family had been her support. Macrae on his return
devoted himself to promoting the education and
advancing the fortunes of his cousin’s family. The
eldest daughter, Elizabeth, married (1744) William,
13th Earl of Glencairn. On the occasion of this mar-
riage the Governor granted to her the Barony of
Ochiltree, and diamonds of the value of £45,000.
The second daughter married Mr James Erskine,
afterwards a Lord of Session, under the title of Lord
Alva, and the youngest daughter married Mr. Charles
Dalrymple, Sheriff-Clerk of Ayr; the other daughter
married Captain Macrae, who was a somewhat dubious
In 1733 the Governor was presented with the
freedom of the town of Ayr, under the name of James
Macrae, late Governor of Madras. In 1734 he pre-
sented the citizens of Glasgow with the equestrian
statue of King William, in bronze, which still adorns
the city. On the 29th July, 1736, he acquired the
estate of Orangefield, near Ayr. One of the last
recorded acts of his life was done in December, 1745,
when he lent £5000 to the community of Glasgow to
meet the sum which had been laid on the city by
Prince Charlie. He spent the later 15 years of his
life at Orangefield, died there 1746, and was buried
in Prestwick Churchyard.

Page 42:

The family of Elizabeth McGuire, Countess of Glen-
cairn, were: 1st, William, Lord Kilmaurs, born at
Finlayston, in Renfrewshire, 29th May, 1748; he was
a Cornet in the 3rd Dragoons, and died unmarried at
Coventry, 3rd February, 1768. 2nd. James, who
became the 14th Earl of Glencairn, born at Finlayston,
1st June, 1749, succeeded to the title 1775, died
unmarried, 1791. He was the friend of Burns. 3rd,
John, the 15th Earl of Glencairn, succeeded to the title
on his brother’s death. He was first an officer in the
army, and latterly took holy orders in the Church of
England. He married, in 1785, Isabella Erskine,
daughter of Henry, 10th Earl of Buchan; had no issue,
and died at Coats, near Edinburgh, 24th September,
1796, aged 47. 4th, Henrietta, married Sir Alexander
Don of Newton-Don, and had issue Alexander, after-
wards Sir Alex. Don, who succeeded to the estate of
Ochiltree on the death of his grandmother, the Countess
of Glencairn, 1801. Lady Harriet Don died at
Newton-Don on Thursday, 12th March, 1801. Two
daughters of this marriage were drowned in the
River Eden along with a daughter of Dr. Wilson
of Kelso; this occurred 7th June, 1795. Alexander,
born 1754, but died young; and Elizabeth,
who died at Coats, 6th August, 1804. Elizabeth,
Countess Dowager of Glencairn, died on Thursday the
25th June, 1801, at Coats, near Edinburgh, in the 77th
year of her age. She seems to have been a superior
lady in every respect. Unceasing efforts were made
by her to secure the prosperity of the folks generally
about Ochiltree, but more especially of the young.
Letters written by her, exhibiting the nobility of her

Page 43:

character, and one lithographed from the original, in
order to show the style of her handwriting, are given
in the Appendix.
The estate of Ochiltree was sold in different lots by
Sir Alexander Don, the son of Henrietta, daughter of
the Countess of Glencairn, in 1813, to the Marquis of
Bute, Sir Alexander Boswell, David Limond, Esq. of
Dalblair, and Mr. Tennant of Creoch. The last of this
race was Sir William Don, who, as well as his lady,
was a theatrical performer. He died a few years ago
while on a theatrical tour in Australia. His widow
performed quite recently. They had no family, and
the race is thus extinct. None of the descendants of
those who were enriched by Governor Macrae are now
known to survive. The village feus, along with
Ochiltree House, were purchased by Captain John-
stone, in 1813, and on the death of Mrs. Johnstone,
by the Dowager, widow of Sir Alexander Boswell,
and recently by the Marquis of Bute,in whose possession
they now remain.
Any notice of Ochiltree and its families would be
incomplete without special reference being made to
John Tennant of Glenconner, not simply on account of
his own merits, but on that also of his numerous family
of sons, the most enterprising of any family ever reared
about Ochiltree. John Tennant of Glenconner was
born it 1726; he died 28th April, 1810, aged 84
years. He was the son of William Tennant, Mains,
Bridgend of Doon, Alloway. He was the witness of the
baptismal register of Robert Burns, assisted Burns to
value and take a lease of the farm of Ellisland, and
continued to be his constant friend through the

Page 44:

short but eventful life of the poet. Elizabeth
McGuire, afterwards Countess of Glencairn, was
brought up at Laigh Corton near Alloway. Mr.
Tennant became factor over her estate of Ochiltree.
They were about the same age. Mr. Tennant was
three times married. An inquisitive friend, on asking
which of his three wives he liked best, got the reply,
” Indeed, if the first one had lived, I would never have
looked for another.” The oldest of this race of able
sons was James, latterly of Ochiltree Mill. When still
at Glenconner, Burns addressed to him his poetical
epistle, in which he takes notice of each member of the
family individually. He sends his regards to Glen-
conner as follows:-
” My heart’s warm love to guid auld Glen,
The ace and wale o’ honest men;
When bending down wi’ auld grey hairs,
Beneath the load of years and cares,
May He who made him, still support him,
And views beyond the grave comfort him.
His worthy fam’ly, far and near,
God bless them a’ wi’ grace and gear.”
On the death of the father of Burns, “guid auld
Gien” sent his son James to assist at the funeral. The
remains were conveyed from Lochlea, parish of Tar-
bolton, to Alloway, by two horses walking tandem,
the Glenconner pony being one of the two. Hearses
were not then in use.
When Burns was about to publish his poems he
went with his manuscript to Glenconner, where he
was a frequent visitor. Having some friends with him,
there was a scarcity of beds. After supper the lassies

Page 45:

went to Barwharrie, then belonging to the Rev. Mr.
Reid, minister of Ochiltree, and spent the night there.
Not, however, in sleep, for before leaving home they
had contrived to get possession of Burns’ manuscript,
over which they spent the whole night, and were back
at Glenconner in the morning before breakfast. They
often spoke of the extraordinary power with which
Burns read his poetry. Old Glen was so affected by
the reading of Burns, that when he promised to send
him any of his verses, Glen begged him not to send
them, but come himself and read them. The miller
was quite a conspicuous person about Ochiltree. Many
anecdotes of his are still repeated. A timid person,
afraid of ghosts, a feeling not uncommon in these days,
was telling him a doleful story of what he had seen,
when the miller said, “I wonder how folk can see
thae things in the dark; I have never been able to see
them in braid daylicht.”
” My auld school-fellow, Preacher Willie,” namely,
the Rev. William Tennant, LLD., went to India.
He afterwards wrote a book in three volumes, entitled
” Indian Recreations,” in which he advocated the intro-
duction of schools in India as what he deemed the best
means to secure the establishment of Christianity
in the country. “Educate the people” was his sound
advice. These opinions, advanced 80 years ago, are
now largely adopted and carried out.
” The manly tar, my Mason Billie,” was Captain
David Tennant. He had the misfortune to get his
right hand shot off during the French wars. He was
offered knighthood by George IV., but declined. On a
subsequent visit to Ochiltree, the miller asked why he

Page 46:

did not let himself be made a Sir, when he said,
“‘Deed, Jamie, I just considered it little better than
a nickname,” quite a characteristic remark from the
friend of the author of “A Man’s a Man for a’ That.”
” And Auchenbay, I wish him joy,
If he’s a parent, lass or boy.”
The above was written of John Tennant, then in
Auchenbay, afterwards in Girvan Mains. Burns, then
resident at Mossgiel, had been in Mauchline, and learned
that a messenger had come in hot haste from
Auchenbay for a midwife. At the time Burns wrote
this epistle he had not learned the result.
” And no forgetting Wabster Charlie,
I’m told he offers very fairly.”
This refers to the late Charles Tennant of St. Rollox,
then a youth of 17 years. Burns’ anticipations were
fully realised. He was the originator of one of our
great and important national industries, to which
reference will be made further on.
” And no forgetting Singing Sannack.” He went
to Cape Colony. One of his descendants is at present
Speaker of their Parliament.
The poor of Ochiltree owed much to the liberality of
the Tennants, and there is no doubt that Burns was
greatly indebted to the influence of his friend, “guid
auld Glen,” for the interest and patronage of James,
Earl of Glencairn, and for which Burns on every occa-
sion showed the fullest gratitude. The concluding
verse of the lament for James, Earl of Glencairn, runs

Page 47:

The bridegroom may forget the bride
Was made his wedded wife yestreen ;
The Monarch may 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, Gleneairn,

And a’ that thou hast done for me.”
I shall now resume your own family history, the
particulars of which I had from your father more than
thirty years ago, in many a chat and story, but which
have in great measure passed from my recollection.
Your forefather, James Duncan, at the time Ochiltree
House was burned, was an important servant with
Sir John Cochrane. He left Sir John’s service at
once, and would not on any account return. James
Duncan was a stout Presbyterian. Sir John seemed
to have so much regard for him that he was, if I
remember aright, first placed for a short time in
Netherton, then in Finlayston, which at the time
embraced Palmerston, South Palmerston, Stamley, and
Barebelly, the rental of the whole being equal to £14
In the little book containing receipts for the rent
of your farm from 1714 to 1784, is to be found the
following. The first receipt runs thus:-
of Palmer-
” Ochiltree, 16th Jany., 1714.-Then received from
“ James Duncan, in Ffynlaystone, compleat payment of
“ his year’s rent, One thousand seven hundred and

fifteen years, and all former payments are allowed
« him.

Page 48:

Charles Cochrane’s last receipt is of date 13th
January, 1736.
Then follows an interregnum of three
years, during
which Mr. Duncan found both a new landlord and a
new factor. The first receipt for rent under the new
landlord runs thus:-
” Received by me, John Gairdner, Wryter in Ayr,
” as factor for Governor Macrae, from James Duncan,
” now and formerly satisfaction for the rent of Fin-
” layston for cropt, Seventeen hundred and thretty-
” eight years, in which the meal laid into the garnel
“ is allowed, with the coals laid into the place of
« Ochiltree. Therefore, I discharge the said year’s
“ rent; as witness my hand, at Ochiltree, the Twenty-
” seventh day of October, Seventeen hundred and
” thretty-nyne

James Duncan seems to have died in 1747, for in
that year, and on to July, 1750, the receipts are made
out in the name of Bessie Scott, relict of James Duncan,
and in November of that year it is made out in the
name of John Duncan. John Gairdner ceases to
be factor in 1756, and is succeeded by Alexander
Forsyth. This person seems to have effected a change
very soon; his first receipt is of date-

” Ayr,11th July, 1758,-Received from John Duncan,
” Thirty-seven pound ten shillings Scots, which, with
” sixty pounds Scots, pd. eighteenth Ffeby. last, and
” four pounds ten shillings paid second June last, and the
“ payment made to Bailie Gairdner, pays the rent of

Page 49:

” Ffinlayston for cropt, Seventeen hundred and fifty-
” six
years, which is discharged by

In 1758 your folks seem to have left Finlayston and
settled in Palmerston and Barebelly. Forsyth’s last
receipt is dated 9th March, 1768. After this Mr.
Duncan is under a new landlord and factor, with whose
names we are familiar. His first receipt under the
new landlord is dated-
“ Ochiltree, Feb. 25th, 1769.-Received from John
” Duncan in Palmerston, Ten pounds fourteen shillings
“ and sixpence stg, which, with eleven shillings stg.
“ of cess, and John Sampson’s receipt for his meal,
” pays his rent of Palmerston and Barebelly cropt,
” Seventeen hundred and sixty-eight, which I, as factor
” for the Earl of Glencairn, hereby discharge.

Mr. Tennant’s last receipt is dated ” Glenconner,
Jany. 21st, 1780.” Following him as factor is William
Crawford. There are, besides, the following dates
recorded in the little book which may be interesting.
and may at the same time show what a long-lived race
you are come of.

“ Bessie Duncan, baptized July 5th,
1721.” This woman lived to near 100 years; you
remember her quite well. The first named James
Duncan died a very old man in 1747. Bessie would
thus be 26 years of age when he died. Your own
father was born in 1777, and was 91 years old when
he died, so that the story, extending over two hundred
years, has been transmitted through a very few.

Page 50:

Then we have the following record of the ordination of
ministers in the parish during the past 154 years, viz.:-
Mr. Reid was ordained 16th June, 1725.
Mr. Grant,
Mr. Thomson,
Mr. Lindsay,
Mr. Boyd,
Mr. Walker,
December, 1786.
12th April, 1792.
5th June, 1818.
18th April, 1833.
15th August, 1844.
There appears to have been a great increase in the
value of land between the time (1714) when James
Duncan possessed the whole subjects at a rental of £14
sterling and the year 1758, when John Duncan relin-
quished all with the exception of your present farm
and Barebelly at a rental of £10 14s. 6d., the meal
being in addition, though undefined in quantity. The
rental of your present farm, with Barebelly, may now
be equal to some £90, while the rental of the whole
subjects held by James Duncan at £14 is now when
I write worth upwards of £320. As regards this
apparently cheap rent paid by your forefather, it is
probable that James Duncan had paid an original
slump sum to Sir John Cochrane, which went to
reduce his annual rent, and that for a lease to con-
tinue during the life of the longest liver-himself or
his wife, Bessie Scott. A sum so paid in advance was
called a “grassum,” defined to be an anticipation of
rent in a gross or slump sum, or in consideration of a
lease for a term of years. The payment of a slump
sum to a needy landlord would of course reduce to a
corresponding degree the fair annual rent, and, in the
case of entailed estates, the successor would thus be

The next few pages talk of the meagre housing and food common in Scotland until very recently, the invention of ploughs and fanners, the umbrella and thrashers. He says rumours that rainfall and snowfall have decreased are not true; he has measured it. He talks of the cost of oats, and railway transportation, and the import of grain from the New World. He describes the low wages and meagre foods of the Campsie parish in the 1700s, and how the tobacco trade made Glasgow merchants rich until the American War of Independence. Then he details the industrialisation of the cotton trade, the appearance of large mills, and other industrialised products.

Page 73, historic letter:

No. 11.
Your letter I received last post. I hope you have
settled, and find your plants before now. A manse in Ochiltree
must, where there is so few Heritors, fall very hard on me. I
wish, therefore, to have it delayed during my time, which pro-
bably can’t be long. With regard to the grounds you wish to
take, I am extremely well pleased, if they in no way interfere
with the plan of the building in the village that’s carrying on.
I don’t see why you should not get what you want on as fully
easy terms as anyone can offer. I don’t see why any of the
repairs of the house you’re in should fall on you, so please in
future let me be charged with what is necessary. I hope, Mr.
Thomson, you’ll settle these matters with Wm. Crawford to your
satisfaction. Please show him this letter to you, if it will tend
to bring things to a quick conclusion between you. I am sorry
the hose did not get sooner to your distribution. Your parish, I
hope, shall long flourish, and by your care be nourished with
spiritual food. I recommend myself and Family to
your prayers,
and am,
Rev. SIR,
Your Humble Servant,
28th March, ’95,

Page 74:

No. 12.
Rev Sır,
I expected, before now, in consequence of our last
conversation, to have got a list of books from you for the benefit
of the poor of Ochiltree that can’t easily buy for themselves, and
I thought you would know what was fittest, and would have the
best effects to nourish piety and increase and strengthen morality.
I send you a few, which you will please to distribute as you
thỉnk will be most serviceable. The other bundle is for the
schoolmaster’s dispersing amongst his scholars, under our late
very heavy calamity. I trust you have with sincere ardour
commended us to mercy at the Throne of Grace; there supplicate
for me and mine, is the earnest request of,
REV. Sir,
Your Humble Servant,
25 Aug., ’95,

Page 75:

I think the grounds about the Town of Ochiltree
should be set yearly, and only for a year at a time, and always
to ye highest bidders. When the minister, Mr. Thomson, offers
equal, always to be preferred and accepted. This is the
desire of
Factor on Ochiltree.

More pages about Scotland

Categorised in