"Kilmarnock. The principal town of Cunningham." "The name is from the Gaelic 'cill mor cnoc' meaning literally 'the knoll or hillock of the great cairn."

"It is difficult to identify the cairn or tumulus referred to in this placename. The area abounds in prehistoric relics, including mounds, tumuli, cairns, cists, urns, arrow-heads, etc. Smith in his 'Prehistic Man in Ayrshire' states "from the high state to which agriculture has been carried in Kilmarnock district for a long time, perhaps every relic of antiquity that existed in it gas been obliterated. In one of the Kilmarnock streets an urn was found and in it three very beautiful flint arrow-heads of the large type, so rare in Ayrshire, and such as may have belonged to a king." These and other relics are in Kilmarnock Museum. At one time such an urn would almost certainly be in a grave surmounted by a 'king's' or 'great' cairn."

Carrick Gallovidian by J. Kevan McDowall, F.S,A. Scot. Published by Homer McCririck 236 High Street, Ayr, Scotland 1947.



"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.



"Pre-1855 Gravestone Inscriptions in Kilmarnock and Loudoun District" edited by Alistair G. Beattie and Margaret H. Beattie, and published in Edinburgh in 1985 by the Scottish Genealogy Society covers the following Kilmarnock burial grounds: High Church Graveyard, Laigh Kirk Graveyard, Kilmarnock Cemetery and St Abdrew's Churchyard.


Church History

The substantial town of Kilmarnock boasted a number of churches including:

  • The Laigh Kirk, built in 1802, but incorporating the tower of two earlier churches; that of ancient times and the 1750 church whose history is outlined in more at Laigh Kirk.
  • High Church on North Hamilton Street, built in 1732-40.
  • St Marnock's Church, in St Marnock Street, built in 1836.
  • Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, built in 1857 on the site of the Kilmarnock and Troon Railroad, reputedly the first steam passenger railway in the world.
  • Winton Place Church, built in 1860.
  • Howard St Andrew's built in 1970-71.
  • West High Church, built in 1844.
  • Henderson Church, London Road, built in 1907.

Description & Travel

The parish of Kilmarnock includes the town itself, now the largest in the county, together with the villages of Crosshouse, Crookedholm, and Hurlford - all now absorbed into the town.

Kilmarnock, a few miles inland from Irvine, is a busy industrial town once famous for its hose and bonnets. Later it became known for its locomotive works, hydraulic engineering and for the manufacture of carpets, fire-clay goods, boots and shoes and whisky.

An 1837 description of Kilmarnock, Riccarton, and Kilmaurs, including a listing of the key personalities of the towns, is given in this extract from Pigot's Directory for Ayrshire. The transcript was provided by Keith Muirhead from Queensland.

Nazareth House, Kilmarnock, a convent of the Poor Sisters of Nazareth, was established in Kilmarnock in the late 19th century and it opened the Nazareth House for Orphans and Old Folk in 1890.

The town is also of interest to Burns lovers being the place where "Wee Johnny" Wilson had his print-press, by the agency of which the first edition of Burn's poems was printed in 1786.

"Go, Fame and canter like a filly
Through a' the streets and neuks o' Killie."

Robert Burns (1759-96).

The principal place of Burns pilgrimage in Kilmarnock is the Burns Monument in Kay Park, which contains a fine museum with many relics of the poet. From the monument there are splendid views, by far the most striking nature being the peaks of the Isle of Arran (such as Goat Fell), seen to perfection across low land lying between Kilmarnock and the coast.

Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) the bacteriologist and discoverer of penicillin was educated at Darvel, Kilmarnock Academy, the Polytechnic Institute, Regent Street, London and St Mary's Hospital Medical School, London.

Today, Kilmarnock's industries include carpets, agricultural machinery, woollens, lace, footwear, earthenware, and whisky.

Hurlford is located just east of Kilmarnock at the start of the Irvine Valley which runs up into Lanark. In former times, Hurlford boasted two railway stations, with its own engine sheds and a railway repair shop. The village's only current claim to fame is the whisky bonded warehouse.

You can see pictures of Kilmarnock which are provided by:





A map of Kilmarnock, created by John Wood in 1819 and information on modern Kilmarnock was to be found on Lori Bragg's Kilmarnock page - (was at www.dangly.com/kilmarnock/, at April 2005 not available). The 1819 map shows the names of the families that live in most houses and can be enlarged to show more detail by clicking on an area for a larger-scale image. The reproduction map can be purchased from Caledonian Books whose address and telephone number are:

Caledonian Books, Collieston, Ellon, Aberdeenshire AB41 8RT, Scotland, UK; Tel: 01358 751288.

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NS465397 (Lat/Lon: 55.626671, -4.438955), Kilmarnock which are provided by:



The local newspaper - Kilmarnock Standard has on-line local news and information at its website.



Here are some figures showing the parish's population through time: