Ayrshire is a registration county, and former administrative county in south-west Scotland, United Kingdom, located on the shores of the Firth of Clyde. Its principal towns include Ayr, Kilmarnock and Girvan. The population of Ayrshire in 2001 (the last census available) was approximately 366,800.
Ayrshire has many golf courses, two of which, Troon and Turnberry, have hosted the modern Scottish Open Championship many times attracting many visitors for the event. It was the members of Prestwick Golf Club who first created The Open Championship in 1860 with the club hosting the event twenty-four times up until 1925.
Prestwick is also known as an international airport because of its exceptional climate.
History and Current Governmental Organization
Ayrshire, under the name the County of Ayr, is a registration county. The electoral and valuation area named Ayrshire covers the three council areas of South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire and North Ayrshire, therefore including the Isle of Arran, Great Cumbrae and Little Cumbrae. The three islands were part of the County of Bute until 1975 and are not always included when the term Ayrshire is applied to the region. The same area is known as Ayrshire and Arran in other contexts.
Ayrshire is one of the most agriculturally fertile regions of Scotland. Potatoes are grown in fields near the coast, using seaweed-based fertiliser, and in addition the region produces pork products, other root vegetables, cattle (see below) and summer berries such as strawberries are grown abundantly.
Ayrshire shares with Dumfries and Galloway some rugged hill country known as the Galloway Hills. These hill lie to the west of the A713 (Ayr to Castle Douglas road) and they run south from the Loch Doon area almost to the Solway Firth. To the east of this route through the hills lie the Carsphairn and Scaur Hills which lie to the south east of Dalmellington and south of New Cumnock. Glen Afton runs deep into these hills.
The area used to be heavily industrialised, with steel making, coal mining and in Kilmarnock numerous examples of production-line manufacturing, most famously Johnnie Walker whisky. In more recent history, Digital Equipment had a large manufacturing plant near Ayr from about 1976 until the company was taken over by Compaq in 1998. Some supplier companies grew up to service this site and the more distant IBM plant at Greenock in Renfrewshire. Scotland's aviation industry has long been based in and around Prestwick and its international airport, and although aircraft manufacture ceased at the former British Aerospace plant in 1998, a significant number of aviation companies are still based on the Prestwick site. However, unemployment in the region (excluding the more rural South Ayrshire) remains high, above the national average.
Glasgow Prestwick International Airport, serving Glasgow, is located in Ayrshire. It has a niche in rock history as the only place in Britain visited by Elvis Presley, on his way home from Army service in Germany in 1960.
In May 1975 the county council was abolished and its functions transferred to Strathclyde Regional Council. The county area was divided between four new districts within the two-tier Strathclyde region: Cumnock and Doon Valley, Cunninghame, Kilmarnock and Loudoun and Kyle and Carrick. The Cunninghame district included the Isle of Arran, Great Cumbrae and Little Cumbrae, which had until then been administered as part of the County of Bute.
In 1996 the two-tier system of regions and districts was abolished and Ayrshire was divided between the unitary council areas of East Ayrshire (covering the area of the former Kilmarnock & Loudon District and Cumnock & Doon Valley District), North Ayrshire (covering the area of the former Cunninghame District Council) and South Ayrshire (covering the area of the former Kyle and Carrick District).
Sources for Old Parish Registers Records, Vital Records and Censuses
Notes for Ayrshire
Family History Societies covering Ayrshire include:
There is also the Ayrshire Federation of Historical Societies, Dennison House, 11 Chalmers Road, Ayr KA7 2RQ, Scotland.
Transcriptions of Gravestone Inscriptions
Pre-1855 Gravestone Inscriptions; an index for Carrick, Ayrshire edited by Alison Mitchell, and published in Edinburgh in 1988 by the Scottish Genealogy Society. This covers the parishes of Ballantrae, Barr, Colmonell, Barrhill cemetery, Old Dailly, New Dailly, Girvan, Kirkmichael, Kirkoswald, Crossraguel cemetery, Maybole, Straiton, Patna and Alloway (i.e. parts of South and East Ayrshire).
Pre-1855 Gravestone Inscriptions in Kilmarnock and Loudoun District edited by Alistair G. Beattie and Margaret H. Beattie and published in Edinburgh in 1989 (reprint) by the Scottish Genealogy Society. This covers burial grounds in the parishes of Dunlop, Stewarton, Fenwick, Kilmaurs, Kilmarnock, Riccarton, Galston and Loudoun (i.e, central Ayrshire excluding Ayr and its environs).
The Troon & Ayrshire FHS has published the following books of Monumental Inscriptions: Old Alloway, Coylton, Craigie, Crosbie (Troon), Dundonald, Monkton, Newton Green Cemetery (Ayr), Six Kyle graveyards (includes Barnweill, Culzean, Coodham, Fairfield, Newton-on-Ayr and St. Margaret's, John Street, Ayr), The Secessionist Graveyard (King St., Ayr), St. Nicholas (Prestwick), St. Quivox, Symington, Wallacetown Cemetery (Ayr), Ayr Auld Kirk.
Further Sources of Reference
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