Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654

Name: Blaeu, Joan, 1596-1673  
Title: Kyle. Cvnninghamia  
Pagination: 54-55
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Translation of text:

and swore in a sacred and solemn ritual to obey him and his successors; from him in an almost continuous line 108 Kings down to Charles, beheaded in 1649 at London in England, have held the Kingdom. On the field of battle a curved trumpet, resembling a horn in shape and extremely melodious, was dug up many years later; it is used by the lairds of Caprington, whose principal seat in that region is called Field of Coil, in the vernacular Coilfield, to summon their tenants and workers. This province to the south is separated from Carrick by the River Doon, flowing out of a loch of the same name. Where the royal road runs from Carrick to Ayr, a bridge of ninety feet with only one arch (and nowhere else in the whole kingdom is such to be seen) has been built over this river. At the northern boundary, the Irvine, which too has a bridge of four arches, divides it from Cunningham. On the west side this region extends twelve miles towards the sea; it has a harbour that is low, flat, and sandy. Where the road stretches between the Doon and the Irvine, it reaches the heads of Galloway and Nithsdale; on the west, the heads of Lesmahagow and Avondale, which are all parts of Clydesdale. On the west, where it faces the sea, it comprises twenty-two miles in length, and ten in width. Towards the east it has only two approaches, and these very narrow; the remainder is taken up with dug clods (called moss by our people) and heather. That which runs by the River Raudon[?] is more open; the other by Parish Holm is narrower, allowing only one person to pass at a time, being crushed between the mountain and the bogs of the Ayr. The River Ayr has its source ; it cuts through the middle of the region, which it divides into two lordships, of which the one, Kyle-Stuart, which faces north, is bounded by the River Irvine, and the other towards the south has as its boundary the River Doon, named King’s Kyle. The Ayr itself, a very lovely river, takes increase from other streams flowing into it, and is very remarkable for the woods and castles, especially Castle Socinus[?] of the famous Earl of Loudoun, the very splendid Chancellor of the Kingdom. It has other fortified defences, Enterkine, Gadgirth, Sundrum[?], the castle of the princelings of Carcarth[?]; also some other lovely buildings, whose lords are the various lairds of the region. At the first defile of the River Ayr a bridge of four arches may be seen. Between Newton-of-Ayr to the north (1), there Craigie-Wallace, a castle at once attractive and well-fortified, is to be seen. In the middle of this market-town there is a useful river, enclosed within walls, from which it comes out and serves the public mills, and is taken into the Ayr. The fields which lie between that town and the sea are most fertile for both crops and pasture.

Towards the south from the location of the bridge is Ayr itself, a market-town famous for its antiquity and royal privileges, called St John on Ayr. But this name is antiquated. This town, founded by Royal charter into the Sheriffdom of Ayr, has 32 miles, looking south and north, under its rule. Now this is the length of the whole province between the speaking stone at the defile of the Clyde; and it comprises three stones erected at Galloway; 64 milestones come under the power of the city (2). In the mouths of the river, which take the place of a very capacious port, very many ships are seen. The city itself is situated on a sandy plain, yet it has extremely fertile fields, and gardens also pleasant in winter and summer alike, at two miles towards the south and north, between the mouth of the Rivers Doon and Ayr. In these fields is the church, extremely ornate. In the city itself survive the ruins of the granaries of Ayr, where the English pitched camp on the night which followed the gross and horrible slaughter of many leaders and Barons, carried out by them in time of peace with dreadful and barbarous treachery and cruelty; as they lay totally crushed by sleep, wine and bloodshed, brave Wallace shut them in and in revenge for the treachery burned them along with the granaries about the year 1300. In this province there are eighteen churches founded and endowed, three in addition annexed, a few monasteries and these small, such as Fail. There is also a chapel not far along the shore on the north side of Ayr, a mile distant from it, called Kingscase, which Robert the Bruce assigned for the care of some lepers, and some neighbouring huts now occupy. The principal names of the gentry of this province are: Stuart, Campbell, Chalmers, Lockhart, Cunningham, Craufurd, Wallace, Dunbar, Crichton. This province is rich in coal and lime, and lacks no necessity for sustaining human life; only white fish does it borrow from Carrick, its closest neighbour to the sea.

FROM CAMDEN (Section Note)

Joined to Kyle on the east and north, Cunningham is so positioned on the same estuary as to crush its width which thus far is stretching out; while its name, if you translate it into Latin, is the same as King’s dwelling, whence you may guess its beauty. It is watered by the Irvine, which also divides it from Kyle; almost at its source is seen Kilmarnock, the dwelling of the Barons Boyd, from whom in the reign of James III the breeze of courtly favour had advanced Thomas (1) to the authority of Regent, and his son Robert to the dignity of Earl of Arran and marriage to the King’s sister. However when the same breeze soon after blew differently, they were judged enemies to their country, Robert’s wife was snatched from him and given to James Hamilton, their goods were forfeited to the treasury, and by some game of fortune they lost everything and died as exiles: however their descendants regained the family honour of Barons and enjoy it today. At the mouth of the River Irvine is positioned the burgh of Irvine with a harbour so enclosed by sandbanks and with so little depth that it can take only smaller ships. Ardrossan, a castle of the Montgomeries, is set on the bay further up: this family is old and extremely famous, which shows Polnoon castle as witness of its virtue in war, constructed from the ransom of Henry Percy nicknamed Hotspur, whom J. Montgomerie took with his own hand at the battle of Otterburn and led away into captivity. Not far from Ardrossan is Largs, reddened with the blood of Norwegians by King Alexander III. From there after a bend in the shore one comes on Eglinton Castle, which was the possession of nobles of the same name; from them it came to the Montgomeries, who took hence the title of Earls of Eglinton. The origin of this surname could not easily be stated, though I know that it came from Normandy to England and there were various families of the same name; but that in Essex, of which was Thomas Montgomery, Knight of the Order of St George in the reign of Edward IV, bore arms little different from these. But this celebrated family is widely spread, and from those of Gevan was that Jacques de Lorges, called Count of Montgomery, prefect of the Scots Guard (which for his own and his successors’ protection Charles V King of France founded in witness of their loyalty and his own benevolence); it was he who in a tournament killed Henry II King of France, whose helmet was by chance open and a piece of the lance (2) pierced his brain through his eye; and who later, during the civil war which broke out in France, while he took the part of those who professed the reformed religion, was captured and executed with the axe.

[This family became extinct in the only daughter of Hugh Montgomerie Earl of Eglinton, born from the son of ..... and the daughter of ....., who married Alexander Seton, brother germane of the Earl of Wintoun, who holds the earldom by right of his wife and has taken the name Montgomerie, and is hereditary Bailie of Cunningham.]

There is in this area a family of Cunninghams, whose head is the Earl of Glencairn, who lives at Kilmaurs; it finds its origin in England and from an Englishman, who with others killed Thomas Archbishop of Canterbury; with what truth I do not know, it may be by a probable guess from the archiepisopal pallium which they bear in the family shield.

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