Excerpts from Dailly: A South Ayrshire Parish

From George Turnbull’s book Dailly: A South Ayrshire Parish.

The page displayed in the eBook closely match the layout of the printed book. However the excerpt below this does not manage to recreate that layout.


Our parish was originally much larger than it is at present. It included the greater part of what is now the Parish of Barr, and there is reason to believe that the district which is now the Parish of Girvan also formed part of it. The situation of our ancient church, about a mile from the western and south-western extremity of the parish, and six miles from its eastern boundary, and the fact that parish churches were generally central for the population, indicate pretty clearly that our parish originally extended much further in a westerly and south-westerly direction. Again, in the books of the Glasgow Commissary Court an entry is found, of date 1639, stating that Girvanmains is “in the parochin of Daillie.” Girvan was a separate parish centuries before that date, but possibly the writer was either not aware of the change, or for some reason preferred to give the name of the original parish. At all events, we have a confirmation here of what on other grounds is extremely probable. Girvan seems to have been detached from Dailly towards the end of the 13th century. The first indication we have of Girvan as a parish is in 1296, when “John, the Vicar of Garvan,” swore fealty to Edward I. of England (Chalmers’ Caledonia). Ailsa Craig should naturally have been included in the new parish, but, probably as it formed part of “the Barony of Knockgerran,” it was allowed to remain in the Parish of Dailly.

In regard to Barr, “Kirkdamdie,” the only chapel in the district having become ruinous, and also being inconveniently situated for the majority of the people worshipping there, a church was built in the village of Barr in 1652, a date cut in a stone in the eastern wall. That church was taken down when a new place of worship was erected. In the year following, viz., 1653, according to Barr Session Records, Barr was disjoined from Dailly and Girvan and constituted a parish.



The ruins of Brounstone Castle, with which we are so familiar, give but a faint idea of its extent and grandeur 300 years ago. At the time of our story the Castle was occupied and the surrounding land possessed by a lady, the aunt of Bargany by the father’s side, and the aunt of the tutor of Cassillis (the then Earl being in his minority), Sir Thomas Kennedy of Culzean by the mother’s side. She was known by the name of Black Bessie Kennedy. She was so called probably from her complexion, but if black she may have been comely. At all events she had attractions of some sort, for she was thrice married, and was now mourning her third husband, William Kennedy, “Baillie of Carrick.” Before his death he had infeft her in his “Six pund land of Brounstone.” There was, however, another claimant for the land. It appears that the Bailie had given the Earl of Cassillis — Gilbert, who roasted the Abbot — a previous infeftment of the same lands. The Earl, before his death in 1576, had infeft Lady Cassillis, Dame Mary Lyon, in these lands, and she being subsequently married to John, first Marquis of Hamilton, his Lordship opposed the claim of Black Bessie, and raised an action against her before the Lords of Session. Thereupon Bessie made over her right to Bargany, considering that he was better able to fight the battle, either on legal grounds or by force of arms, if that should be necessary. In lieu of Brunstone, Bargany gave her the six pound land of Newark, near Ayr. Then followed a “gude gangin’ law plea.” Decreet being at last given in favour of the Marquis, Bargany was turned out of Brunstone. The consequence was a new feud, this time between the two nephews, Bargany and Sir Thomas Kennedy, as to the custody of Black Bessie herself, and especially of her “assignations.” Meantime, Bessie was staying with her nephew at Bargany, but the other nephew persuaded her to leave, and moved her to make him instead of Bargany her assignee, for she had considerable property left her by her first husband independent of Brunstone. Bargany was in a great rage, and an angry correspondence ensued. Two of the letters have been preserved, and they are choice specimens of the “polite” letter writing of the period. This quarrel, more than anything else, was the cause of the deadly feud between the two houses, which for many years kept Carrick in a turmoil. In the above correspondence there is a side light cast upon the amusements of the times. It appears that Bargany played at golf, and that some time before this he had got his nose smashed by a golf ball on “the hills of Ayr,” a disfiguration which Cassillis does not hesitate to cast up to him in reply to a still coarser personality. Golf, so fashionable at present, is a very ancient Scottish game. There are traces of it at a much earlier date. As far back as 1457, there is a Scottish statute prohibiting it, on the ground that it discouraged archery.