The Muir Kirk


"Long before the village of Muirkirk existed, the kirk itself stood there in lonely solitude among the muirs, so that this parish and town derive their names from the 'Kirk of the Muir', which was built there in 1631. This church has of course been replaced by one of more modern style. The churchyard, like so many others of Ayrshire, has its monuments to the memory of persons who suffered in the sorry days of the Covenant."

"A small upright stone used to mark the grave of John Smith, who was done to death by Colonel Buchan, and the Laird of Lee. Smith had been attending a Conventicle, and on the way home fell sick and sat down to rest, when he was overtaken by a party of soldiers, who, simply because they suspected him to be a Covenanter, had him shot on the spot. In 1887, a martyr's monument was erected in the New Cemetery of Muirkirk, by Charles Howatson, Esq., of Dornal, Glenbuck. It is in the form of an obelisk and about twenty-three feet in height, each of the sides being appropriately inscribed to the memory of the local martyrs. Mr Howatson also erected a tablet in the wall of the new church to commemorate the noble life and heroic death of John Brown, Richard Cameron, and others, who were killed (1680-85) in these martyr districts for faithfulness to the cause of Christ in Church and State."

"Wellwood House, in this parish, was formerly the seat of William Campbell, a supporter of the Reformation, and the Covenanters often found refuge within its walls. The laird was on this account a marked man and was in 1684, cornmitted by Claverhouse to Dunnotar Castle. His brother, John Campbell, was also apprehended and treated with great cruelty. William, the younger brother, died from the effects of his ill-treatment, but the other survived the 'killing times' and became a Captain of Horse in the forces raised to support King William. The banner of his troop is still in existence, and bears the date 1689, with the words 'Moorkirk, God and our Country'."

"Another martyr of this parish was William Adam who was shot by Captain DaIzell. He was in the barn at Middle Wellwood, threshing, when he saw the troopers approaching, and fled, taking refuge among the marshes behind the farm, but was discovered and instantly killed. His memory was embalmed in verse by the late Rev. James Murray of Cumnock. The history of John Brown of Priesthill is well known. He was shot by Claverhouse on the 1st of May 1685. His grave was a good many years ago enclosed and a monument erected over it, the funds for this purpose being collected at a sermon by the Rev. John Milwaine, preached in commemoration of the martyrs on August 28th, 1825."

"At Airsmoss, a tract of bleak moorland lying between Cumnock and Muirkirk, stands Cameron's Stone, a silent witness of the barbarities of the Persecution. This memorial was erected to the memory of Rev. Richard Cameron, Michael Cameron, John Gemmell, John Hamilton, James Gray, Robert Dick, Captain John Fuller, Robert Paterson and Thomas Watson, all of whom were present and took an active part at the battle of Airsmoss."

"Independent of its martyr memories, Muirkirk is not without historical fame, inasmuch as the old burying-ground contains the grave of John Lapraik, the poet, and esteemed correspondent of Burns."

"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.