LOUDOUN Kirk, Ayrshire

"The old church of Loudoun is situated about a half mile north-west of the town of Galston. Nothing remains of it now excepting a solitary gable and the queir, which contains the burying vaults of the distinguished family of Loudoun. The entrance to the queir is by a low door in the south wall; over the door is a panel bearing the arms of Hew, Lord Loudoun, dated 1622, and with the motto, 'I byd my tyme'. The church of Loudoun belonged to the monastery of Kilwinning, and is said to have been erected as early as 1451. In 1619 the church, with its tithes, manse and glebe, etc., were resigned to the King by John Spottiswoode, who at that time was commendator of Kilwinning. In the following year they were granted by the King to Sir John Campbell of Lawers, so that the patronage of the church continued, until its abolition, in the Loudoun family. An obelisk in memory of Lady Flora Hastings stands near the ruined wall of the old church; and within a few yards of it is the grave of Janet Little, the "Scottish Milkmaid," who was a poetess and published a small volume of poems. She is chiefly remembered as a correspondent of Scotland's greatest poetic genius, Robert Burns. Janet was an very friendly terms with the national bard, and paid him a visit at Ellisland in March 1791. A plain slab, on which is the following inscription, marks the place of her interment:"

"In memory of John Richmond, who died August 10, 1819, aged 78 years,
and Janet Little, his spouse, who died March 15, 1818, aged 54 years,
and five of their children."

"On the back of the stone, four lines of poetry are inscribed, probably a quotation from her own writings. The letters are so decayed, however, that the inscription is entirely illegible. In the churchyard may also be seen a stone erected in memory of Thomas Fleming, a Covenanter, who fell at Drumclog. It bears this inscription:"

"Here lies Thomas Fleming of Loudoun Hill, who,
for appearing in arms in his own defence, and in defence of the Gospel,
according to the obligation of our National Covenant, and agreeably to the Word of God, was shot in an encounter at Drumclog, June 1, 1679, by bloody Graham of Claverhouse."

"Here, in his early church days, Dr M'Leod composed his 'Cracks about the Kirk'. An old resident of Newmilns, who acted as his amanuensis, relates that it was his custom to proceed to the manse as early as five o'clock in the morning, where he was engaged writing to the minister's dictation until nine in the forenoon. On one occasion the worthy minister requested him to come a little earlier than usual, as he intended to set out early in the day for Glasgow, in order to be present at a meeting there. It was his purpose to drive, and a cab was ordered to be in readiness at the manse at ten o'clock prompt. The cabman was in good time enough, but the young author became so engrossed in the subject he had on hand, that, in despite of occasional hints from his amanuensis as to the impropriety of keeping the cab waiting, he continued to pace the floor of his study, dictating as the spirit moved him, until, when the afternoon clock struck five, he seemed all at once to remember his engagement at Glasgow. Hastily throwing an overcoat over his arm, he speedily made his way to the gate, and entering the cab, gave the signal and was soon on his way to the city, reaching it in good time to find the meeting dismissed."

"The manse of Loudoun is also noteworthy as being the birthplace of Dr George Laurie, the author of several poems, one of which, 'Lang, lang syne', is popular all over the country. Another minister of note connected with Loudoun was the Rev. John Nevay, who has found a niche among the 'Scots Worthies'. He was one of four appointed by the General Assembly of 1647, to revise and correct Rouse's versification of the Psalms of David, and he also distinguished himself by executing an elegant Latin paraphrase in verse of the Songs of Solomon. He was one of the ministers who attended a special celebration of the Lord's Supper at Mauchline Muir, in June 1648, which continued for several days, and was at last dispersed by a body of troopers under the Earl of Callendar and Major General Middleton."

"Nevay had also acted as chaplain to David Leslie's army before the Protectorate, and is charged in Sir James Turner's memoirs as having been the chief instigator of the bloody massacre of Dunaverty, in Cantyre, where the whole garrison of 300 men were put to death in cold blood, and whose bones may yet be picked up on the sandbanks and on the beach near the fort."

"The old burying-ground at Newmilns contains two memorial stones, erected in memory of Dr George Lawrie, the patron of Burns, and of his son, Dr Archibald Lawrie, the father of Dr George, the poet already referred to. There are also various monuments to commemorate martyred Covenanters. One of these on the cast wall bears the names of Matthew Paton, who was executed at Glasgow in 1666; David Findlay, shot at Newmilns by order of DaIzell in the same year; James Wood, executed at Magusmuir in 1679; John Nisbet, executed at Kilmarnock in 1683; and James Nisbet, who suffered at Glasgow in 1684. Near this stone is one in memory of John Nisbet of Hard bill, a leading man at Drumclog and Bothwell. He suffered martyrdom at the Grassmarket, Edinburgh, in 1685. Other monuments are to the memory of John Gebbie in Feoch, and John Morton in Broomhill, who both had an active part in the battle of Drumclog."

"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.

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[Last updated 23 Nov 2010 - 11:32 by Mel Lockie]