Galston Kirk


"The ancient parish church of Galston was dedicated to St. Peter, and, in 1252, was granted to the convent of Red Friars at Fail, and continued in their possession till the Reformation. After that time the patronage of the parish passed through several hands, and was ultimately acquired in 1787, by Miss Scott of Scottstarvit, late Duchess of Portland."

"The present church, which was erected in 1808, occupies an elevated site near the centre of the town, and is surrounded by the old burying-ground. In the vestibule of the church, is a mural monument, erected to the memory of Dr. Stirling, one of the ministers of Galston church. This pastor was translated from the Kilmarnock charge in 1824, and had the degree of D.D. conferred upon him by the University of St. Andrew's in 1840. Dr Stirling married, in 1849, the eldest daughter of Mr Wm. Rankine, wine merchant. He was of a mechanical turn of mind, and had an engineer's shop fitted up at the manse. His sons, Patrick and James, have both distinguished themselves as locomotive engineers. The church contains a monumental stone indicating the burial place of the Campbells of Cessnock and their descendants."

"There are also memorial tablets erected to the memory of Rev. George Smith, D.D.; Lieutenant-Colonel Hutchinson, a noted soldier who fell in an engagement in India in 1782; a family named Browne, who hailed from Darvel; and the ancient family of Nisbet of Greenholm. Dr Smith of Galston, from whom the well-known writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, claims descent, was one of the ministers satirised by Burns in the 'Kirk's Alarm'. The poet wished to compliment the good Doctor in two excellent verses in the 'Holy Fair', beginning thus:

"But hark! the tent has changed its voice,
There's peace and rest nae langer."

"The reverend gentleman, however, saw more of the banter than aught else in them, and appears to have resented the compliment. For this reason he is severely handled by the Poet in the 'Kirk's Alarm'.

"Irvine side, Irvine side, wi' your Turkey-cock pride,
Of manhood but sma' is your share;
Ye've the figure, 'tis true, Even your faes will allow,
And your friends they dare grant you nae mair."

"In the churchyard are two monuments erected to the memory of martyred Covenanters. One near the south wall of the church has sculptured on it, in basso relievo, an open Bible, and a soldier in the act of firing a gun at a martyr. On the other side of the stone is represented the Galston Covenanter's flag. This stone is in memory of Andrew Richmond, who was killed by Claverhouse, in June 1679. The other stone is in front of the church, and was erected by public contribution, in memory of John Richmond, younger, of Knowe, executed at Glasgow in 1684; James Smith, East Threepwood, who was shot by Captain Inglis on the banks of the Burnanne; also James Young and George Campbell, who were banished in 1679; and the Rev. Alex. Blair, who suffered imprisonment in 1673."

"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.

Robert Stirling [1790-1878] was the Scottish inventor of the first practicable hot-air engine in 1816. The Stirling engine has a high thermal efficiency and a large number of inherent advantages, such as flexibility in the choice of fuel, that could make it as important as the internal-combustion engine. Stirling was born in Cloag, Perthshire, and attended Glasgow and Edinburgh universities. He was ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1816, responsible for the parish of Galston, Ayrshire between 1824-76. He also designed and made scientific instruments.