Historical Sketches - Dalry

For those researching family in the three towns area.
hahaya2004
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Historical Sketches - Dalry

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NO. 1

From the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald 12th May 1855


Few towns are more favourably-situated, and command a finer view of hill and dale and winding stream — those characteristics of Scottish scenery — so agreeable to the eye, as the subject of the present sketch. It is seated on a beautiful round eminence overlooking the river Garnock, and bounded on either side by the Calf[sic] and the Rye. It is conjectured by some that the parish takes its name from the latter streamlet, being, as Pont says, "The hauch, or home, of the river Rye". But the word Dalry is more probably derived from the Gaelic Dail-righ, which signifies, "The King's Valley or Plain". This is all the more likely as the district was anciently under the royal jurisdiction; and a field, on part of which the village is built, still bears the name of Croft-angry—a supposed corruption of Croft-an-righ, or Croft of the King.
Although the town itself is not of very ancient origin, several of the principal families who at one period owned estates in the parish can date their origin as far back as the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and can boast of not a few names who bore an honourable and not inconspicuous part in the history of the times. The principal family—still resident in the parish—Blair of Blair, was at one time the chief of all the Blairs in the south and west country, and Harry, the blind minstrel, has immortalized the patriotism of Sir Bryce Blair, who was put to death by the English in the Barns of Ayr for having joined Wallace in his defence of the liberties of his country.

"Schir Bryss the Blair, next, with his eyme* in past,
On to the ded thei haistyt him full fast;
Be he entrit, hys hed was in the swar
Tytt to the bawk [bauk], hongyt to ded rycht thar."

The Crawfords of Baidland trace their origin to a younger son of a Hugh Crawford who appears in a transaction in 1225, and whose son (Sir Reginald) was that Sheriff of Ayr who was murdered by the English garrison of Ayr, in 1297. The names of the Linns of that Ilk, a family now long extinct, are also found in records of the twelfth century; and one of this family is supposed to be the hero of that fine old ballad, "The Heir of Linn," of which Motherwell gives from tradition the commencement, thus:

"The bonnie Heir, the weelfaur'd Heir,
And the weary Heir of Linn,
Yonder he stands at his father's gate,
And naebody bids him come in."

And the Kers of Kersland, were most ancient and honourable, suffering frequently for the cause of freedom. One of the family, Robert Ker, after many sufferings and long imprisonment, ended his days an exile in Holland, in 1680, leaving his wife and family to the tender mercies of his foes. His estates were confiscated at the time, and were not restored till the Revolution.
The ancient importance of the parish is also attested by the remains of an ancient fortification on the summit of Caerwinning Hill, where it is believed the Scottish army was encamped previous to the battle of Largs; by the ruins of a square fort which stood at one period on the banks of the Rye, on the brink of a precipitous rock called the Atnach Crag, but which are now removed; and by the existence of ancient mounds, stones, tumuli, cairns, urns, old weapons, &c., which have from time to time been discovered. There is no record, however, of any part of the parish ever having been the scene of those civil conflicts which at one period were common in the country, and which throws around particular localities the interest which is ever associated with scenes hallowed by important historical events.
In ancient times, when the belief in a spiritual agency was more popular than it is in the present day, there was one particular place in the parish celebrated as the favourite haunt of those sprites which wandered everywhere over hill and dale, and who

"The globe could compass soon,
Swifter than the wandering moon."

The place is a large grotto or cave in the natural stratta on the banks of the Dusk, still frequently visited, and in olden times called the "Elffe-house." The compiler of the Statistical Account says "It is above forty feet above the bed of the stream, and is covered by about thirty feet of rock and earth. It has two entrances. The western or main entrance is situated below a vast over-hanging rock, thirty feet long by twenty-seven in breadth, the brow of which is covered by the mountain-ash, hazel, and two large plane trees, which give it a picturesque appearance. Its interior resembles gothic arched work. Part of the roof is supported by two massive columns. Its length is about a hundred and eighty-three feet, and breadth from five to twelve. Near the middle it expands into a spacious chamber thirty-five feet long by twelve broad and twelve high. Its internal surface is covered by calcareous incrustations; and numerous crevices branch off from its sides." Visitors can easily procure the services of a guide and lighted lantern, and when the lantern is waved to and fro, the crystallized rock and the water dropping from the roof, sparkle with the brilliancy of tire-flies. It is not surprising that such a spot was believed to be the haunt of Elves. They loved to frequent caves, streams, and fountains; and the Poet has beautifully imagined

"A virtuous well, about whose flowery banks
The nimble-footed fairies dance their rounds
By the pale moonshine, dipping oftentimes
Their stolen children, so to make them free
From dying flesh and dull mortality."

As might be expected, a district possessing such a fairy home would long entertain a belief in their existence; and stories would be in general circulation tending to confirm the popular mind. One of these stories, from the pen of Lieutenant Fullarton of Overton, is worthy of quoting entire, which is given as rehearsed by the individual to whom the circumstance occurred:

WILLIE MACKIE AND THE WARD WITCHES.
I'm no surprised (proceeds Willie,) that you are curious to hear the story of my rencounter with the Ward Witches; to many a one have I told that tale, and though it be now fifty years since, it is as fresh in my memory as if it had happened but yesterday—l was amaist frightened out o' my wits. The farm of Ward is in the Braes of Dalry, and at the time I was living in the Bretcha, a place far up the muirs in Caafglen, in the same quarter. I had a bit errand down at Dairy that night, and was taigled far past my wish. But the night was good—the moon about the full, and we muirland bodies, ye ken, are no that eerie, be it in muir or dale. So I set out. After I left the cart-road, I took straight to the bentheads, and from that struck down on my own house, the Bretcha. But as I crossed a burn, a short way south of the Ward, on a sudden I hears the sound of the bagpipes, and as if a multitude of voices singing the old tune "O'er the hills and far awa." I heard clearly the first two verses of the song:

Our[sic] the hills and far awa
The wind has blawn my plaid awa,
My plaid awa, my plaid awa,
The wind has blawn my plaid awa.

Its no my plaid but its my sheet
That keeps me fray the wind and weet,
Wind and weet, cauld frost and snaw,
The wind hath blawn my plaid awa.

At the time I thought it might be some miller and his men—friends and sucken, gaun through the muir to the Kame hill for a millstone—a thing at that time of the year no uncommon, and that being a near cut to the quarry. But I was cheated. In a moment I was surrounded with hundreds of men and women, all in light short dresses and long white staffs in their hands. They were all on foot, except the piper, who was mounted on a high black horse; and ay as they danced and yelled far about, I thought the earth shook beneath me, with the roaring and bumming of the pipes. The sound of their voices was terrible, as they struck in at the chorus, and its echo rang far and wide through the black hills about us. I now began to guess clearly enough what sort of a company I was among; and suspecting they would play off their infernal cantraps against me, I looked how I might get out of their toils. At times, they seemed to part and gather into bunches, and I tried to get out at the openings which were thus made in their hellish ring. But no. Ever as I made for ony part, back or fore, as fast did they close it up!
And as I ran from place to place, the sweet ran aff me with fear, and my hair almost lifted my bonnet aff my head, whilst at every step it seemed as if I had been up to the knees in a bog! At length I got away from them, at the very place where I first came in. They disappeared all in a moment, so that I could see nothing of how they went; but from the direction they came on me, I thought they were going to the westward. With a great faught I crossed the burn again and got to the Ward farm house, praising God for my deliverance out of the hands of such a legion of devils, whom doubtless, but that they were restrained by his merciful interposition, intended me..............[fold in the paper]. I got the people wakened, and remained all night with them. Next day being the Sabbath, I went down with the family to the kirk, and I can never forget the first man I saw there was one of the Ward gentry standing at the Plate. He hung down his head when he saw me—nae laughing or dancing with him now—he was one of the elders of the parish kirk! Many a one of them I knew, both of my neighbours and others, for twenty miles round, but hundreds there were whom I never saw before nor since. I had another meeting with the piper long after, and did not fail to hint to him the occasion of our former acquaintance. This took place also on my road home from Dairy. Coming up to me, he said he was on his way home to the Largs, and asked to accompany me. I could not well refuse, but determined to keep a strick eye on him, and to let him go foremost for fear of his pranks. Nothing, however, occurred betwixt us; and when I took down the riggs to my own house, the piper remarked, "you'l soon be home by me, who is not half-way yet." I told him, if he had the same horse he had that night I last met him, he would be home before me yet, short as my road was !

"The earth hath bubbles, as the water has,
And these are of them. Whither are they vanished?
Into the air; and what seem'd corporal, melted
As breath into the wind. Would they had staid!
Were such things here as we do speak about?
Or have we eaten of the insane root,
That takes the reason prisoner?"

To be Continued.
________________________________________
* Eyme, Eme, Eim – an uncle by the mother's side.
The most important hour is always the present, the most significant person is the one opposite you right now, and the most necessary deed is always love. - Meister Eckhart (c.1260 - c.1328)
hahaya2004
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Re: Historical Sketches - Dalry

Post by hahaya2004 »

NO. 2

From the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald 19th May 1855


[The words in square brackets are not part of the historical sketch. They are only meant to assist in understanding those parts of it that are written in Old Scots.]

The ecclesiastical history of the Parish furnishes few notes of interest to the gleaner of local history. Till the influx of strangers occasioned by the opening up of its vast mineral wealth, as a parish the inhabitants were ever noted for their zeal in favour of Presbyterianism, and tenacious of those principals for which their forefathers bled. But as the earliest existing parochial register only dates from 1683, as the records of the transactions of the Session only commenced in 1693, and as from 1765 till 1821, these were written on detached slips of paper, and consequently many of them lost, it is impossible from these sources to furnish the reader with any satisfactory information in reference to the religious condition of the parish in the olden time. The church at Dalry was originally a dependency of the monastery of Kilwinning, and previous to the Reformation there were two chapels in the parish. One of them was situated on a rising ground on the side of the Garnock, about a mile from the town of Dalry, and the ruins of which were to be seen about fifty years ago. Another is situated at a greater distance – the ruins of which are still extant. In the reign of James V., the vicarage of Dalry was taxed £6 13s. 4d., being a tenth of the estimate value. At the Reformation the monks received £100 yearly for the rectorial tithes of the church of Dalry, which were levied for the payment of this annual rent. The lands were afterwards acquired by the Earl of Eglinton, and the patronage of the church by the Blair family, with whom it still remains. Judging from a few extracts that have been published of the Session records, the "Heads" of the parish have had the same difficulties to contend against, as those of the present day, and sought by deeds of Session to enforce the better observance of the Sabbath; more exemplary moral conduct, and the suppression of penny weddings. They tried to prevent bookings[1] occurring on a Saturday evening, because it led to tippling and breaking of the Sabbath – there was no Forbes McKenzie then – and no less than £12 was given in the year 1605 to the Presbytery for relief of the slaves in Barbary.
The erection of the Parish Church on the present site was in 1608. It was dedicated to the Scottish Queen, St. Margaret, on whose festival, in the month of July, an annual fair is still held. "For some weeks previous," says the author of the statistical account, "the boys perambulate the parish with large horns soliciting contributions for the purchase of coals for the bonfires. Formerly it was customary to have a piper, and dance a reel round a tannel [bonfire] , but this has fallen into desuetude." The church was re-built in 1771, and greatly improved in 1821. It affords accommodation for about 900 sitters, and the seats are annually let by public roup to the highest bidder. There is now, however, a Chapel of Ease, and places of worship attached to the United Presbyterian, the Free Church, Roman Catholics and other denominations.
We have said that the ecclesiastical history furnished few notes of interest; but there is one circumstance which cannot be overlooked as it is not only interesting in itself, but illustrative of the religious condition of the country in the sixteenth century. We allude to the trial and sentence of "Elizabeth or Bessie Dunlop [2], spouse to Andrew Jak in Lyn[3]", charged with the crime "of the using of sorcerie, witchcraft, and incantationne, with invocatioun of spretis of the devile" [sorcery, witchcraft and incantations with invocation of the spirit of the devil]. The case is given at length in Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, and shows upon what slight evidence those charged with this crime were frequently condemned. In many places her confession is exceedingly graphic, and, beautiful from its simplicity. On her trial she denied having any knowledge or art which enabled her to help sick persons; but when inquired of in reference to these things "sche wald inquire at ane Thome Reid quha deit at Pinkye, as he himselff affirmit; wha wald tell hir, quhen euir sche askit". [she would ask one Thome Reid who died at Pinkie[4], as he himself confirmed; who would tell her, whenever she asked.] Her description of this man is curious. "She being inquired at what kind of man this Thome Reid was? declared he was an honest elderly man, gray headed, and had a gray coat with Lombard sleeves of the old-fashion; a pair of gray breeks and white shanks, gartered above the knee; and black bonnet on his head, close behind and plain before, with silken laces drawn through the lips thereof, and a white wand in his hand". She had frequent interviews with him, and always consulted him when inquiries were made of her by ailing persons, or by those who had been plundered of their goods. The following is an account of a few of his visits:
"Being interrogated how and in what manner of place the said Thome Reid came to her? Answerit, as sche was gangand betuix her ain hous and the yard of Monk-Castle, drivan hir ky to the pasture, and makand hevye sair dule with hirself, greetand very fast for hir kow that was deid, hir husband and chyld that wer lyand seik in the land ill, and sche new rissine out of gissane. The foirsaid Thome mett hir be the way, healsit (hailed) hir, and said, 'Guide day, Bessie', and sche said, 'God speid yow, gudeman'. 'Sancta Marie,' said he, 'Bessie, quhy makis thow sa grit dule and sair greting for ony wardlie thing?' She answerit, 'Allace! haif I nocht grit caus to mak grit dule? ffor our geir is trakit; and my husband is on the point of deid, and ane babie of my awin will nocht leve; and myself at ane waike point; haif I nocht gude caus thane to haif ane sair hart?'

[Being interrogated how and in what manner of place the said Thome Reid came to her? Answer, as she was going between her own house and the yard at Monkcastle, driving her cows to the pasture, and was suffering, constantly crying for her cow that had died, her husband and child sick with the land ill[5], and she herself having just given birth. The aforementioned Thome met her on the road, hailed her, and said 'Good day, Bessie' and she said 'God speed you, good man.' 'Sancta Marie' he said, 'Bessie why are you causing yourself such great sorrow and anguished crying over any worldly thing?' She answered 'Alas! Don't I have great cause for making great sorrow? For our possessions have dwindled away; and my husband is on the point of death, and one of my babies won't live; and I lack strength; do I not have good cause then to have a sore heart?

Thome then promised her that her good man would be restored to health, which made her "somewhat blyther [more cheerful]". This was their first meeting, and shortly afterwards there was a second and a third. The fourth meeting is worth quoting in her own words:

The ferd time he apperit in hir awin hous to hir, about the xij hour of the day, quhair thair was sittand thre tailȝeouris, and hir awin gudeman; and he tuke hir apperoun and led hir to the dure with him, and sche followit, and ȝeid vp with him to the kill-end, quhair he forbaid hir to speik or feir for onye thing sche hard or saw; and quhene thai had gane ane lytle pece fordwerd, sche saw twelf persounes, aucht wemene and four men; The men wer cled in gentilmennis clething, and the wemene had all plaiddis round about thame, and wer verrie semelie lyke to se; and Thome was with thame: And demandit, Gif sche knew ony of thame? Ansuerit Nane, except Thom. Demandit, What thai said to hir? Ansuerit, Thai baid hir sit doun, and said, 'Welcum Bessie, will thow go with ws?' Bot sche ansuerit nocht; becaus Thom had forbidden hir. And forder declarit, That sche knew nocht quhat purpois thai had amangis thaime, onlie sche saw thair lippis move; and within a schort space thai partit all away; and ane hiddeous vglie sowche of wind followit thame: and sche lay seik quhill Thom came agane bak fra thame.
Sche being demandit, Gif sche sperit at Thom quhat persounes thai war? Ansuerit, That thai war the gude wychtis that wynnit in the Court of Elfame; quha come thair to desyre hir to go with thame: And forder, Thom desyrit hir to do the sam; quha ansuerit, 'Sche saw na proffeit to gang thai kynd of gaittis, vnles sche kend quhairfor!" Thom said, 'Seis thow nocht me, baith meit-worth, claith-worth, and gude aneuch lyke in persoun; and (he?) suld make hir far better nor euer sche was?' Sche ansuerit, 'That sche duelt with hir awin husband and bairnis, and culd nocht leif thame.' And swa Thom began to be verrie crabit with hir, and said, Gif swa sche thocht, sche wald get lytill gude of him."

[The fourth time he appeared in her own house to her, about the 12(th) hour of the day, where there sat three tailors, and her own good man; and he took her apron and led her to the door with him, and she followed, and went up with him to the kill-end[6], where he forbade her to speak or be afraid of anything she heard or saw; and when they had gone a little bit forward, she saw twelve persons, eight women and four men: The men were dressed in gentlemen's clothing, and the women all had plaids round about them, and were very similar and attractive in their appearance; and Thome was with them; And inquired, Whether she knew any of them? Answered, None, except Thom. Asked, what they said to her? Answered, they invited her to sit down, and said, Welcome Bessie, will you go with us? But she answered not; because Thom had forbidden her. And in addition declared, That she did not know the subject of their conference, she only saw their lips move; and within a short space they separated; and a hideous repellent gust of wind followed them: and she lay sick at the time Thome returned from them.
Being asked whether she asked Thom what individuals they were? Answer, That they were the good neighbours or brownies who dwelt at the Court of Faery; who come there eager to have her go with them: And besides, Thom was eager for her to do the same; who answered, 'She saw no benefit in taking that type of road unless she knew the reason!' Thom said, '(????), both well supplied with food, well dressed, and a good enough individual; and (he?) shall make her far better than ever she was? She answered, 'That she lived with her own husband and children, and could not abandon them'. And thus Thom began to be very angry with her, and said, If that is what she thought, she will get little good (no benefits) from him'.]


From her subsequent confession it would appear that she employed her powers always to a good end – curing diseases, and assisting in the recovery of stolen property. From the names mentioned, it would seem that she had been consulted by many in the upper circles of society, and that she prospered in her calling until the eyes of the law were drawn upon her, instigated, it is said, by "the clergy and kirk session". Although promised by Thome that if she would seek "ane assyis of hir nychbouris [a judicial inquiry by her fellow-townsmen] that nothing suld aill hir" [she would have nothing to worry about], poor Bessie was found guilty by the jury and condemned to be "wirriet" [strangled] at the stake before being consumed by the flames. Paterson is of opinion that she was a simple woman, the dupe of a priest whom the Reformation compelled to live under a feigned character, and that he assisted her in her cures by his knowledge of the properties of medicine. Be this as it may, she suffered for her credulity, and fell a victim to the prejudices, bigotry, and superstitious notions of the age – notions which were fomented by those who ought to have known better, and been guided by more merciful judgments.

To be Continued
________________________________________
[1] the giving in of names for the proclamation of banns
[2] the trial took place on 08th November 1576
[3] Lyn, Lyne or Linne was a six-merk land, lying in the Barony of Dalry, property of the family of Lord Boyd.
[4] the battle of Pinkie, 10th September 1547
[5] the name was used for famine, the plague, pestilence or some prevailing fatal epidemic
[6] kill - kiln
The most important hour is always the present, the most significant person is the one opposite you right now, and the most necessary deed is always love. - Meister Eckhart (c.1260 - c.1328)
hahaya2004
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Re: Historical Sketches - Dalry

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NO. 3

From the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald 26th May 1855


In former sketches we alluded to the antiquities, and traced the Ecclesiastical history of the Parish. We now come to speak of the town. As already stated, it is pleasantly situated on an eminence on the banks of the Garnock, the Caaf, and the Rye. The scenery around it is beautiful; and there are few country towns, as old as Dalry, that can boast of the same number of fine buildings, and modern-looking places of business.
The town began to spring up about the year 1608; but it made slow progress, for at the beginning of the last century, it did not number above 100 inhabitants. At that period and until the discovery of ironstone in the parish the inhabitants were chiefly engaged in the weaving trade. Even when the village contained 1265 inhabitants, of this number not less than 454 were employed in that occupation; and although the weaving trade was much better at that time as it is now, it was still subject to fluctuations, which had an impoverishing influence upon those engaged in it.
The town of Dalry, however, is now entirely indebted for its prosperity to the mineral wealth of the land around. About 16 years ago ironstone was first discovered on the precipitous banks of the Rye, near to the farm of White-Craigs. Shortly after its discovery a gentleman leased the mineral of the Lands of Blair, and began the erection of three Blast Furnaces; but the expense being so great, and his capital probably limited, he was unable to complete them. They were then purchased by the Ayrshire Iron Company, who not only completed what the previous proprietor had begun, but erected two additional ones. The amount of traffic occasioned by there Iron Works was so great, that Dalry enjoyed an unexampled amount of prosperity, and wages rose to 5s and 6s per diem. This prosperous state of things was, however, for a time, to receive a check. In the beginning of the year 1848, the Company failed with liabilities of nearly £200,000. This cast a gloom over the entire district, and although affairs were finally settled, it was not till recently that the wonted activity began again to prevail. After the works had been for some time in the market they were bought by the Messrs Baird, who now carry them on with great vigour.
Dalry has not alone been indebted to these works. The leasing of the mineral on the estate of the Earl of Glasgow by Messrs Merry and Cuninghame, and the subsequent erection of nine Furnaces by them at Glengarnock, in the parish of Kilbirnie, has also tended materially to assist in swelling the business done here. Of the 3000 hands employed at Glengarnock, about 2000 reside in the parish of Dalry, who as a matter of course expend their earnings in the only town in the parish. It is calculated that there cannot be fewer than 3000 individuals in the parish deriving a livelihood from these Iron Companies; and as the laborious nature of their work entitles them to high wages, they are well paid when the demand in the iron market is anyway brisk. Unhappily, the market is subject to great fluctuations, and when such occur, it is too frequently found that little has been put past by the workmen, to tide them over their temporary difficulties, and the consequence is, that at such times, there is a large amount of misery and destitution. Whilst speaking of the minerals of the parish, we may mention, that all the mineral used at the Eglinton and Ardeer Iron Works, is raised here, with the single exception of a pit situated between Saltcoats and Ardrossan, belonging to the Eglinton Iron Company, whilst in return Dalry is supplied with coal of which there is a deficiency. The country to the north side of town was the first part that was excavated, but it has now been nearly wrought out, and the mining operations are gradually shifting to the south and west end, where there are already three pits in operation, and three in process of sinking. So many pits gives the country around Dalry a strange appearance, and at night the stranger coming from the town would be terrified to observe stretching into obscurity great masses of fire. This is caused by the process of calcining the ironstone, which when taken from the pit is mixed with a small proportion of coal, and then fired. Six weeks are general required in order to char it. Some idea of the great traffic caused by these pits may be gleaned from the fact, that from one of them alone the enormous quantity of 108 carts of char passed through the town every day last year.
Besides the Iron Furnaces, there is a large Woollen and Worsted Mill, belonging to T. Biggart, Esq., which employs on an average 200 hands, and is deservedly famed for the beauty of its machinery and the superior quality of the stuff manufactured.
Independent of the churches, the only building worthy of being noticed is the Town's House. This building was erected by the gentlemen of the neighbourhood for the accommodation of the public at a cost of about £1,000. It stands upon the site once occupied by the old parish school, and is a very handsome structure in the Ionic style of architecture. The under flat is occupied by places of business; upon the second there is a fine hall, with two rooms detached, which with the flat above is leased by the Committee of the Reading Room, at a trifling rental. The hall is ornamented with the portraits of the late lamented Dr Gibson, and the present Baron-bailie, Robert Craig, Esq., of Ryesholm. The building reflects great credit upon the public spirit, and good taste of the gentlemen by whose exertions it was erected.
There are in all 13 Schools in the parish, with an average attendance of about 1000 scholars. The parish school is a new building with accommodation for 200 scholars, and has a fine play ground attached.
The principal Gentlemen's Seats in the neighbourhood, are Blair House, the residence of Captain Blair. It is a very old building, particularly the south wing, in which is the principal entrance, and over the door of which is the date 1203. Swinridge House, the residence of Lieutenant Colonel Neill, who is at present in the East with the Turkish Contingent, in which he holds the rank of Brigadier, it is a modern edifice and presents a fine appearance. Maulside, the seat of Captain Russell R. N.; and Linn, the residence of John K. Crichton, Esq. This latter residence is situated about a quarter of a mile from the famous "Linn Spout", a spot deservedly admired, and a favourite resort of strangers.
There was an old custom which we find alluded to in the account of the parish given in the Statistical Account of Scotland, worth noticing, as the practise has now been discontinued. We allude to the practice of creeling Bridegrooms, which was done in the following manner: "Having procured a creel or wicker basket, they tied it on the back of the young gudeman, and placed a long pole with a broom affixed to the top, over his shoulder. Thus equipped he was forced to run a race, followed by the young gudewife with a knife to cut the cords, and who according to the alacrity with which she endeavoured to unloose the creel, showed her satisfaction at the marriage. After which the parties returned to the house to consume the fragments of the preceding day's feast. About forty or fifty years ago, weddings having become less numerously attended than formerly, the custom underwent considerable alterations, and was deferred to New-Year's Day. Accordingly, on this morning the young men of the village assembled, provided with a wicker hamper or crockery crate, filled with stones, with which they visited the houses of all those people who had entered the bands of matrimony during the preceding year, and compelled each young gudeman to bear the "creel" to his nearest neighbour who may have qualified himself for the honour. Resistance was generally useless, as a number of stout fellows soon compelled the refractory person to submit, with the addition probably of one of their number in the "creel", to reward his obduracy. The "creeling" was generally, however, conducted throughout with the greatest good humour; yet, harmless as the custom was, individuals have been known, who, in order to avoid the ceremony, have regularly for fifteen years absented themselves from home for a fortnight at that season".
We now conclude our notice of Dalry. It is at present in a prosperous condition; and as this prosperity is the result of the favourable locality in which the town is situated, those who are the recipients of such gifts of providence should be careful to make a proper use of them, when they are had in such profusion.
The most important hour is always the present, the most significant person is the one opposite you right now, and the most necessary deed is always love. - Meister Eckhart (c.1260 - c.1328)
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Re: Historical Sketches - Dalry

Post by Hughie »

Thanks for these historical sketches, Irene. :)
Besides the Iron Furnaces, there is a large Woollen and Worsted Mill, belonging to T. Biggart, Esq., which employs on an average 200 hands, and is deservedly famed for the beauty of its machinery and the superior quality of the stuff manufactured.
We believe my great x4 grandfather, Adam Biggart is likely to have come from this same Dalry Biggart family. Adam Biggart married Margaret Thomson at Ardrossan in 1782 and the marriage banns were called in both Ardrossan and Dalry. My connection can be traced from Ardrossan then to Stevenston. See my 2005 post on this. Here
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