"Loudoun, par., Ayrshire, on river Irvine, 15,486 ac., pop. 5239; contains part of the town of Galston and part of the town of Newmilns; Loudoun Castle, seat of the Earl of Loudoun, has extensive grounds, the "Loudoun's bonny woods and braes" of Tannahill's song; Loudoun Hill, a conical eminence, 1034 ft. high, was the scene of a victory by Robert Bruce over the English in 1307."
John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887
"The present parish church is situated in Newmilns, near the centre of the town, and was re-erected in 1844. It is well known in history as the first charge to which Norman M'Leod was ordained, and also as the scene of Dr Lawrie's labours-the befriender of Burns. The manse is an old building, occupying an elevated site on the highway between Galston and Newmilns. It was formerly called Saint Margaret's Hill. Within its walls Burns slept one night, about the time when he had resolved to try his fortune abroad. Dr Lawrie was the means of this scheme being abandoned, by giving the poet an introductory letter to an Edinburgh friend, which resulted in a reissue of his poems, and a resolve to remain in his native country."
"Ayrshire Nights Entertainment: A Descriptive Guide to the History, Traditions, Antiquities of the County of Ayr" by John MacIntosh of Galston, Ayrshire, published in 1894, by John Menzies & Co. of Kilmarnock, Dunlop and Drennan.
More details on the history of Loudoun Kirk are here.
Loudon is a relatively small and rural parish in the east of the county,north of Galston. It lies the north side of the upper valley of the River Irvine. In the Middle Ages, the centre of the parish was at Newmilns, but it later shifted to Loudoun. The village of Loudoun amounts to little more than the parish church on the north bank of the river.
To the north of the parish, on the modern A714 road, lies the small village of Moscow beside the Volga Burn. It includes a row of weaver's cottages dating from around 1800.
Newmilns is located in the Irvine Valley, east of Loudoun. Newmilns was once the centre of one of Ayrshire's most prosperous weaving and lacing making industries. There are many interesting buildings in the town, some of which can be easily missed such as the 16th century Newmilns Tower behind the Loudoun Arms. During the American Civil War, the weavers of Newmilns sent a message of support to Abraham Lincoln, who, in turn, sent them a 'Stars and Stripes' flag. The flag was lost over the years, but in 1949, the American Embassy presented the town with a replacement flag which is now located in the Parish Church.
An 1837 description of Newmilns and Darvel, including a listing of the key personalities of the burgh and village, is given in this extract from Pigot's Directory for Ayrshire. The transcript was provided by Keith Muirhead from Queensland.
View photographs of Loudoun and the surrounding area.
View maps of Loudoun.
Loudoun Hill is where Wallace defeated the English, and where in 1307, Robert the Bruce with 600 men gained a striking victory over the Earl of Pembroke and his army of 6,000.
At Drumclog, farther east in Renfrewshire, Claverhouse was defeated by a Covenanting force in 1679.