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Mauchline Kirk, Ayrshire

"The original church of Mauchline stood on the site now occupied by its more pretentious successor, the square tower of which is one of the landmarks of Mauchline, and the first object to arrest the eye of the advancing traveller. The church originally belonged to the monks of Melrose, who are said, by some authorities, to have planted a colony of their own order at Mauchline. In 1165, a grant of the lands of Mauchline, with the right of pasturage on the upper branches of the river Ayr, was conferred on the monks of Melrose by Walter the son of Allan. The monks of Melrose obtained ample jurisdiction over their estates of Mauchline, Kylesmuir, and Barnmuir, which were formed into a regality, with Mauchline as their headquarters. Hew Campbell of Loudoun was in 1521 appointed bailie of this regality."

"The Priory, or 'The Castle', as it is familiarly termed by the inhabitants, was built by the monks of Melrose. It consists of a single tower, the remains of a convent of the Cistercian order, said to have been founded by David I, about the year 1165. The building was dedicated to St. Michael, and one of the wells in the town still bears the same name. This religious institution is doubtless the origin of the village or Kirktoun of Mauchline. The parish of Mauchline was formerly of much larger extent than it now is, Muirkirk parish, and Sorn parish, having been at different periods detached from it. History states that George Wishart, the eminent reformer, was in 1554 induced to preach in the church of Mauchline, but was prevented by the sheriff of Ayr, who had a guard of soldiers placed in the church to keep him out. Being denied the church, Wishart betook himself to Mauchline Muir, where he addressed a large assembly of people who had followed him thither."

"The churchyard is celebrated as the scene of Burns's poem, 'The Holy Fair'. It holds the mortal remains of 'Bonnie Mary Morrison', one of the Mauchline belles who found favour in the poet's eyes. Here also has 'Holy Willie's weel worn clay, Ta'en up its last abode'. And not many yards distant are the graves of 'Nanse Tannock'; John Richmond; Andrew Noble, schoolmaster in Burns's time; 'Racer Jess'; and Jamie Humphrey. The churchyard also contains the burying-place of the Armour family; of Rev. William Auld; and of Gavin Hamilton, all of them intimately associated with Burns."

"The old manse of Mauchline was built in 1730, and is situated in a narrow lane not far from the town's green; as the residence of 'Daddy Auld' it forms an object of curiosity to the visitor. Mauchline is not without her illustrious martyr-names. Besides John Ross, to whom a monument is erected in the Low Church burying-ground at Kilmarnock, five Covenanters were martyred in the parish. A monument is erected to their memory at a green on the outskirts of the town called 'The Loan'. By the inscription on the stone we learn the names of the martyrs to have been Peter Gillies, John Bryce, Thomas Young, William Fiddison and John Bruning. They were apprehended and hanged without trial at Mauchline in 1685. A stone in the churchyard is dedicated to the memory of a martyr named James Smith, who was shot, or wounded, by Captain Inglis at the Bank of Burnanne, and whose memory, along with that of others, is also perpetuated on a stone erected in the old burying-ground at Galston."

"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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