Place:Ayrshire, Scotland

TypeTraditional county
Coordinates55.43°N 4.54°W
Located inScotland     ( - 1975)
See alsoStrathclyde, Scotlandregional authority 1975-1996
East Ayrshire, Scotlandunitary authority replacing part of Strathclyde in 1996
North Ayrshire, Scotlandunitary authority replacing part of Strathclyde in 1996
South Ayrshire, Scotlandunitary authority replacing part of Strathclyde in 1996
Contained Places
Former community
Blair ( - 1975 )
Former district
Cunninghame ( - 1975 )
Pinwherry ( - 1975 )
Wallacetown (Dailly) ( - 1975 )
Historical district
Carrick ( - 1975 )
Kyle ( - 1975 )
Inhabited place
Alloway ( - 1975 )
Annbank ( - 1975 )
Ardrossan ( 1734 - 1975 )
Auchinleck ( 1693 - 1975 )
Barrhill ( - 1975 )
Beith ( 1659 - 1975 )
Colmonell ( 1759 - 1975 )
Connel Park
Dalry (village) ( - 1975 )
Fenwick ( 1644 - 1975 )
Galston ( 1670 - 1975 )
Girvan ( 1733 - 1975 )
Irvine (town)
Kilkerren ( - 1975 )
Kilmarnock (town)
Kilmaurs ( 1688 - 1975 )
Kilwinning (town)
Lugar ( - 1975 )
Prestwick ( - 1975 )
St. Quivox ( 1735 - 1951 )
Straiton ( - 1975 )
Symington ( - 1975 )
West Kilbride ( - 1975 )
Ardrossan ( 1734 - 1975 )
Auchinleck ( 1693 - 1975 )
Ayr ( 700 - 1975 )
Ballantrae ( 1731 - 1975 )
Barr ( 1689 - 1975 )
Beith ( 1659 - 1975 )
Colmonell ( 1759 - 1975 )
Coylton ( 1723 - 1975 )
Craigie ( 1679 - 1975 )
Dailly ( 1691 - 1975 )
Dalmellington ( 1641 - 1975 )
Dalry ( 1679 - 1975 )
Dalrymple ( 1699 - 1975 )
Dreghorn ( 1749 - 1975 )
Dundonald ( 1673 - 1975 )
Dunlop ( 1700 - 1975 )
Fenwick ( 1644 - 1975 )
Galston ( 1670 - 1975 )
Girvan ( 1733 - 1975 )
Irvine ( 1200 - 1975 )
Kilbirnie ( 1688 - 1975 )
Kilmarnock ( 1000 - 1975 )
Kilmaurs ( 1688 - 1975 )
Kilwinning ( 1669 - 1975 )
Kirkmichael ( - 1975 )
Kirkoswald ( 1694 - 1975 )
Monkton and Prestwick
New Cumnock
Newton-on-Ayr ( 1779 - 1975 )
Old Cumnock
St. Quivox ( 1735 - 1951 )
Straiton ( - 1975 )
Symington ( - 1975 )
West Kilbride ( - 1975 )
Hunterston ( - 1975 )
Fullarton ( - 1975 )
Wallacetown (Ayr) ( - 1975 )
source: Family History Library Catalog


the text in this section is partly based on an article in Wikipedia

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.

On the literary front, the town of Alloway is the birthplace of Robert Burns.


History and Current Governmental Organization

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

The area that today forms Ayrshire was part of the area south of the Antonine Wall which was briefly occupied by the Romans during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius (see: Roman Britain#Occupation and retreat from southern Scotland). It was inhabited by the Damnonii, who are presumed to have been Britons. Later, it formed part of the British Kingdom of Strathclyde, which was incorporated into the Kingdom of Scotland during the 11th century. In 1263, the Scots successfully drove off the Norwegian leidang-army in a skirmish known as the Battle of Largs.

A notable historic building in Ayrshire is Turnberry Castle, which dates from the 13th century or earlier, and which may have been the birthplace of Robert the Bruce.

The historic shire or sheriffdom of Ayr was divided into three districts or bailieries which later made up the county of Ayrshire. The three districts were:

  • Carrick in the south. It was situated between the Doon and the wild district of Galloway in the adjoining Stewartries, an area that was little else than a vast tract of hills and mosses.
  • Kyle in the centre, which included the royal burgh of Ayr, occupied the central district between the River Irvine in the north, and the River Doon in the south and south-west, an area that is quite hilly inland. It was subdivided into "Kyle Stewart", (sometimes called "Stewart Kyle"[1] or "Walter's Kyle") and "King's Kyle," the former embracing the country between the Irvine and the River Ayr; and the latter, the triangular portion between the Ayr and the Doon, which is honoured as the birthplace and youthful home of Robert Burns.[1]
  • Cunninghame in the north which included the royal burgh of Irvine was that part of the county which lay north of the Irvine water, and was in an area that is generally level and fertile.[1]

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) is above the national average.

Throughout the 17th century, huge numbers of people from Ayrshire moved to Ulster, the northern province in Ireland, as part of the Plantation of Ulster, many of them with surnames such as Burns, Hamilton, Morrow, Stewart, Flanagan, Kennedy and Cunningham. Today, the Ulster Scots dialect is largely an offshoot of the version of Lowland Scots spoken in Ayrshire. The Ulster Scots dialect is still widely spoken throughout County Antrim and in parts of County Down and County Londonderry, as well as still being widely spoken in West Tyrone and parts of County Donegal (chiefly East Donegal and Inishowen).

Research Tips

  • official civil (from 1855) and parish registers (from when first produced) for births, marriages and deaths for all of Scotland
  • original census images for all years available (1841-1911).
  • collections of wills and testaments and
  • property tax listings
  • an extensive collection of local maps
  • kirk session records for individual parishes (added in 2021 and not yet complete).

This site is extremely easy to use. There are charges for parish register entries, collections of wills, and census listings (the 1881 census is free to view, also on Ancestry and FindMyPast). The charges are reasonable and payable by online transfer. Viewing the kirk session records is free, but a charge will be made for a copy.

  • The National Library of Scotland have an online map collection of historic and modern day maps which can zoom in on a specific farmhouse or street in a town. Their collection also includes London and some counties of southeast England.
  • Gazetteer for Scotland contains an article for each parish from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland by F. H. Groome, (published 1882-4) and short details about each parish today including names of small settlements within a parish.
  • The FamilySearch Wiki explains a great many legal terms only found in Scotland and provides a gazetteer for genealogists for each parish across the county. It reviews the availablility of parish registers.
  • GENUKI Scotland which provides for each Scottish parish (indexed by county), amongst other data, complete quotations from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1851) by Samuel Lewis, John Bartholomew's A Gazetteer of the British Isles (1877), and possibly other gazetteers from individual counties and regions. It is worth reviewing one of its county pages to see what is available online or in print from local archive providers. Each county page has a "Where in ---shire is .... ? section--very helpful in pinpointing the small places below parish level.
  • A list of Burial Grounds in Scotland is now available on the website of the Scottish Association of Family History Societies.
  • The Statistical Accounts of Scotland Online provides access to digitised and fully searchable versions of both the Old Statistical Account (1791-99) and the New Statistical Account (1834-45). These uniquely rich and detailed parish reports, usually written by local Church of Scotland ministers, detail social conditions in Scotland and are an invaluable resource for anyone interested in Scottish history.

Family History Societies covering Ayrshire include:

There is also the Ayrshire Federation of Historical Societies, Dennison House, 11 Chalmers Road, Ayr KA7 2RQ, Scotland.

  • The FreeCen Project has a searchable (not browsable) transcription of the whole of Ayrshire online for the 1841 and 1851 censuses.

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

Please note and respect the copyright warnings on these websites.

  • GENUKI article on Ayrshire. The bibliography for Ayrshire is very good.
  • The Gazetteer for Scotland article on the the county of Ayrshire. The tabs on the right provide more information, and a map of the parish within its surrounding area, with small settlements highlighted and linked to more information.
  • The FamilySearch Wiki article on Ayrshire provides direct reference to FamilySearch holdings on many topics with respect to the county.
  • The National Library of Scotland have a website devoted to maps from the 1600s right up to the present. Comparisons of modern-day and old maps of the same place can be made. From the home page click on "Find by place" and then follow the instructions on the next page. Once you are viewing the place you want, use the slider <----> at the top of the map to compare the layout of roads and the place names of smaller areas, perhaps even farms, with the landscape today. The website takes some getting used to. The One-inch 2nd edition, Scotland, 1898-1904 OS is a series of maps with the parishes delineated. Each of these maps cover an area of 18 x 24 miles and will zoom to comfortable reading size with a couple of mouse clicks on the map itself. Unfortunately, they are not geo-referenced, and it is necessary to go to the OS One Inch 1885-1900 series to locate places by latitude and longitude.
  • The Statistical Accounts for Scotland In the 1790s and again in the 1830s, the ministers of the all the parishes of the Church of Scotland were asked to provide a description of their parish to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The original account request included 160 questions to be answered. These accounts are available in print in 20 volumes and are also online where it is freely available to browse. The browsing portal is below the viewing area of most computer screens. Scroll down to "For non-subscribers" and click on "Browse scanned pages". This brings you to another page on which one can enter the name of the parish in which you are interested.
  • Excerpts from The Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885 are provided by Scottish Places. Selections from Groome and other gazetteers from the 19th century are also found on GENUKI.

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Ayrshire. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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