Beith is a market and post town, in the parish of its name and district of Cunningham; 62 miles w by s of Edinburgh, 19½ sw of Glasgow, 11 sw of Paisley, 5 n by e of Dalry, 12 n by e of Saltcoats and 8 s by w of Johnstone. It is situate near the confines of Renfrewshire, on an eminence commanding a fine and extensive view of the beautifully diversified country around, of which the Loch of Kilburnie, at a distance of about a mile, forms a prominent feature.
The town which contains many excellent houses, but is very irregularly built, is of modern date, comprising at the commencement of the last century only a very few humble habitations; it is now a place of respectable trade, and its neighbourhood is the residence of many opulent families. Beith has long been noted for its manufacture of linen thread, of which great quantities are made both for home consumption and exportation. The manufacture of silk goods was formerly extensive, but it has been almost entirely superseded by that of cotton, in which the majority of inhabitants are employed by the manufacturers of Paisley and Glasgow. The principal branches of trade, in addition to those already mentioned, are the manufacture of starch (for which there is a respectable establishment), lime burning and the making of ropes, twine, bricks and tiles.
The whole of the parish of Beith is enclosed and subdivided, and is almost all arable; the farms are small, and the tenants of this and the neighbouring parish of Dunlop may be said universally to make cheese, known by the name "Dunlop cheese" which is held in as high estimation in Scotland as the cheese of Cheshire and Gloucestershire in England. The value of this commodity sent annually to market from this parish has been calculated at upwards of £4,000.
In the town are three branch banks, viz., the Commercial Bank of Scotland, the Glasgow Union Bank and the Paisley Union; and there is an excellent Inn, the "Saracen's Head", in Whang street. In 1807, a very handsome church of the establishment, with a tower, was erected in the most elevated part of the town; its site is 343 feet above the level of the sea. The town-house was built by subscription in 1817, to the erection of which the late W.Wilson of Cumnock was a liberal contributor: the upper part of the building contains a court room and other offices: the lower part consists of shops, the rents of which are applied to purposes of public benefit. The town is lighted with gas. The Ladies Benevolent Society is worthy of particular commendation, and there is an excellent parochial school.
At Giffen, a short distance from the town, is the stately ruined castle of the Montgomeries: there is also another ruin at Hazelhead; and at the top of Cuffs-hill, a considerable eminence, is a druidical remain, known by the name of "Rocking stone".
The neighbourhood of Beith produces coal, and abundance of lime stone. The weekly market of the town is held on Friday; and there are annual fairs on the first Friday in January and February (old style) and the 30th of August.
Main street - Catherine Arnott, post mistress - Letters from Paisley &c arrive every morning at eight, and again (except Edinburgh letters) at seven in the evening, and are despatched every morning at half past seven and at six in the evening. - Letters from Dalry arrive every evening at half past five, and are despatched every morning at half past eight - Letters from Kikbirnie arrive (by penny post) every evening at five, and are despatched every morning at half past eight.
|GENTRY AND CLERGY: (Marked * are Justices of the Peace)|
|Anderson Rev James Head st ||* Brown Hugh Esq of Broadstone|
|Colville Rev George Mains Hill ||Dobie James Esq of Cumnock|
|Dobie Mrs Janet Grange vale ||* Houston Robt Esq Mains Hamilton|
|Love John Esq of Threepwood ||Meikle Rev James Head st|
|* Patrick Robert Esq MD of Trearne ||* Patrick William Esq of Roughwood|
|* Reid Capt. Charles Hope RN Grangehill ||Shedden Alexander Esq of Morris Hill.|
|ACADEMIES & SCHOOLS:|
|Blair, John Gateside ||Fleming, Mrs New st|
|Gillian, David Newton ||Glasgow, Robert School Wynd|
|Harvie, David Bracken hills ||Parochial School, Braehead Jas Reid, master and session cleck|
|Kerr, Bryce Hazelhead ||Miller, John Giffen|
|Reid, Mary Whang st ||Wyllie, Robert Head St.|
|AGENTS TO MANUFACTURERS|
|Craig, Margaret Reform st ||Lymburn, John Cumnock|
|Maitland, James Head st ||Stevenson, Hugh Reform st|
|Stewart, William Newton || |
|Clark, John Gateside ||Kerr, George Braehead|
|Dunlop, Marion Main st ||Gibson, Gavin (and grain dealer) Main st|
|Gillies, Robert Cross ||McKerrow, James Whang st|
|Shedden, Matthew Main st ||Wilson, Andrew Main st|
|Commercial Bank of Scotland (branch of), Braehead,- (Draws on the Commercial Bank of Scotland, Edinburgh, & Jones & Co, London) - Wm King - agent|
|Glasgow Union (branch of), Strand, - (Draws on the Glasgow Union Bank, |
|Edinburgh & Jones, Lloyd & Co, London) - James Dobie - agent|
|Paisley Union (branch of), Whang head, (Draws on Sir William Forbes & Co, Edinburgh and Sir Richard Carr Glyn & Co, London) - Robert Spier - agent|
|Baird, Hugh Green hills ||Holmes, William Burn house|
|Kerr, William New st/ ||Kirkwood, William Whang st|
|Reid, David Gateside ||Waterson, Andrew Whang st|
|Stevenson, Hugh (linen) Threepwood ||Stevenson, John (cotton) Threepwood|
|BOOKSELLERS & STATIONERS:|
|Arnot, Agnes Main st ||Arnot, Catherine Main st|
|Smith, John (and printer, library & church treasurer) Whang st|
|BOOT AND SHOE MAKERS:|
|Anderson, Robert - Newton/ ||Barr, William - Cross|
|Crawford, William - Newton ||Cunningham, William - Whanghead/|
|Edgar, Charles Main st ||Fulton, Robert - Newton|
|Hunter, Andrew - Burn's wynd ||Hunter, David - Braehead|
|Love, Hugh New st ||McCallum, William Main st|
|Mathie, James Main st ||Smith, James Reform st|
|Stevenson, James Head st ||Stewart, William Whang st|
|Thorburn, Thomas Whang st || |
|BRICK & TILE MAKERS:|
|Parker, Hugh - Woodside ||Wilson, William - Thirdpart|
|Dale, James - Whang st ||Love, James - Townhead|
|CARPENTERS AND CARTWRIGHTS:|
|Crawford, James Hall of Caldwell ||Gilmour, Allan Braehead|
|King, James Burn house ||Robertson, John Head st|
|Rodger, Robert Whang st ||Steel, James Whang st|
|Thomson, Henry Newton ||Wilson, John Gateside|
|Findlay, James Easter Highgate ||Wylie, John Highgate|
|Smith, William Caldwell ||Templeton, Thomas Coal burn|
|Barr, John & David Crummock st/ ||McLaughlin, Mark Strand|
|Gilmour, John Head st ||Stewart, Thos ( & Spirit dealer) Main st|
|Stevenson, James Knows || |
|CURRIERS AND TANNERS:|
|Muir & Ramsey (& leather dressers) Reform st and Bath lane|
|FIRE & OFFICE AGENTS:|
|Caledonian, Rbt. Faulds - Braehead ||Edinburgh Friendly Insurance Society, James Dobie - Strand|
|Insurance Company of Scotland, Robert Spiers - Whanghead ||Scottish Union, William King - Braehead|
|Caldwell, Thomas Rose bank ||Crawford, James Barr mill|
|FLESHERS AND SPIRIT DEALERS || |
|Barbour, Robert Main st/ ||Crawford, John Main st|
|Gibson, Andrew Newton/ ||Miller, William Whang st|
|Miller, William jnr Main st || |
|GLASS CHINA & EARTHENWARE DEALERS:|
|McDonald, John Reform st ||White, Matthew New st|
|GROCERS AND SPIRIT DEALERS:|
|Barr, James Main st ||Barr, Robert Main st|
|Gilbraith, James Main st ||Gibson, Andrew New st & Newton|
|Gibson, Andrew Main st ||Gillies, Duncan Main st|
|Kerr, James Strand ||Jamieson, James Whang st|
|Kirkwood, Andrew Whang st ||Millar, James (grocer) Cross|
|Munro, Daniel (grocer) School wynd ||Robertson, William Main st|
|Shedden, Elizabeth Cross ||Smith, John Whang st|
|Stevenson, James Whang st ||Swan, Mary Main st|
|Wilson, John School wynd || |
|Crawford, John Cross ||Wright, John Main st|
|Robertson, John Brownhills ||Stevenson, David Shitterflat|
|Stevenson, Robert Shitterflat || |
|INN AND POSTING HOUSE:|
|Saracen's Head (commercial) Robt Paton, Whang st|
|Muir, John Main st ||White, Matthew Main st/|
|Wilson, Robert Newton ||Wilson, Robert jnr Main st|
|Aitken, Robert New st ||Miller, John Giffin|
|Stewart, John Newton || |
|Craig, Robert Broad stones ||Gibson, John Broad stones|
|LINEN & WOOLLEN DRAPERS:|
|Clark, William & Co Whanghead and at Main st Largs ||Craig, Andrew Main st|
|Crawford, Hugh Whang st/ ||Downie, John Strand|
|Giffin, Adam Cross ||Kirkwood, James Cross|
|Love, Robert (and wool merchant) Whang st || |
|MILLINERS AND DRESS MAKERS:|
|Arnot, Catherine Main st ||Dunlop, Elizabeth Main st|
|Morris, Elizabeth Main st || |
|Rae, John (twine) Townhead ||Wyllie, John Whang st|
|Banks, John Whang st ||Calderwood, John Main st|
|Boyd, William Newton ||Kirkwood, Andrew Whang st|
|Kirkwood, James Cross ||Love, Robert Whang st|
|Stevenson, Robert Main st ||Wardrop, Robert Head st|
|Caldwell, James Clark's bridge || |
|Biggart, David Main st ||Biggart, William Main st|
|STRAW HAT MAKERS:|
|Arnot, Jane Main st ||Craig, Janet Main st|
|Rodger, Martha Whang st ||Stevenson, Janet Main st|
|SURGEONS & DRUGGISTS:|
|Houston, John Whang st/ ||Mathias, Joseph Cross|
|Miller, Thomas New st ||Spiers, Alexander Whang st|
|Hunter, Robert Whang st ||Lees, John Whang st|
|Love, Andrew Main st/ ||Love, Robert Main st|
|McRaith, John Main st ||Stewart, James Whang st|
|Stewart, William Whang st || |
|Barr, Robert Main st ||Galbraith, Thomas Main st|
|TEA DEALERS - WHOLESALE:|
|Crawford & King, Whang st ||Faulds, James & Co Strand|
|Faulds, Robert & Co Braehead ||Kirkwood, Andrew Whang st|
|Wardrop, Robert Main st || |
|Brown, Hugh Head st/ ||Caldwell, Thomas Roebank|
|Crawford & King (and smallware dealers) Strand ||Crawford, Hugh Whang st|
|Crawford, James Whang st ||Crawford, John Whang st|
|Faulds, James & Co (and smallware dealers) Braehead ||Faulds, Robert & Co (and smallware dealers) Braehead|
|Allan, Annabella Main st ||Borland, John (& brewer) New st|
|Boyd, John Gateside ||Crawford, Agnes Gateside|
|Kennedy, James Newton ||Kerr, James Strand|
|Landers, James (and card cutter and flower lasher) New st ||Logan, Robert Burn house|
|Love, James Newton ||Love, Margaret Main st|
|McGregor, Donald (Star Inn) Main st ||Paton, James (& grocer) Whang st|
|Robertson, John Head of New st ||Shaw, Samuel (& grocer) Whang st|
|White, Margaret Cross ||Wilson, David Whang st|
|Wilson, John Gateside ||Wilson, William Burn house|
|Wyllie, Margaret (& grocer) Cross || |
|WATCH & CLOCK MAKERS:|
|Gibson, John New st ||Wilson, David (& jeweller) Whang st|
|WRITERS (i.e. lawyers):|
|Dobie, James (& fiscal) Strand ||Kerr, Daniel Whang st|
|King and Faulds, Braehead/ ||Spier and Love, Whanghead|
|Anderson, John flower lasher Newton ||Barbour, William messenger Main st|
|Barr(?), Robert hat and shoe dealer Strand ||Cowan (?), William painter Main st|
|Crawford, Robert Card cutter New st ||Galbraith, John nail maker Whang st|
|Gas Works, Reform st: James Dobie esq. treasurer and clerk; - David Young, manager|
|Kirkwood, Thos flax dresser Townhead ||Mitchell, John bookbinder New st|
|Rigg, Benjamin turner Old Lea ||Stamp Office, Whanghead - Robert Spier, distributor|
|Thomson, Robert Veterinary surgeon, Whang st ||Warden, James tinsmith Main st|
|Whyte, Mary stationer Whanghead/ ||Wilson,David stone mason Whang st|
Established Church, Rev George Colville.
Relief, Rev James Anderson.
United Associate , Rev James Meikle.
To Glasgow and Paisley: the "Fair Trader" (from Saltcoats), calls at the Saracen's Head Inn, every morning at nine, and an evening coach every night at half past eight.
To Saltcoats: the "Fair Trader" (from Glasgow) calls at the Saracen's Head Inn, every evening at half past six; goes through Dalry, Kilwinning and Stevenson.
To Saltcoats and Ardrossan: a coach (from Glasgow) calls at the Saracen's Head Inn, every morning at eight; goes through Dalry, Kilwinning and Stevenson.
To Glasgow: William Kennedy, from Newton, and James Boyd from School wynd, every Tuesday and Saturday.
To Greenock: Robert Shedden, from Head street, and James Love, from Newton, every Tuesday.
To Kilmarnock and Stewarton: James Love, from Newton, every Friday, and Robert Shedden, from Head street, every Tuesday and Friday.
To Largs: James Lauchland, from Reform street, every Tuesday, and Walter Weir, from Reform Street, every Saturday.
To Paisley: James Howie, from New street, and Robert Thomson, from Commercial square, every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
To Saltcoats: James Wark, from School Wynd, every Tues and Sat.
This transcript was kindly provided by Keith Muirhead from Queensland.