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Dundonald Family History Project


Dundonald Main Street (postmarked 1904)


Introduction

The County of Ayrshire, immortalised by the poet Robert Burns and situated in the western part of Scotland’s Central Lowlands, was traditionally divided into three parts, with Cunninghame to the north and Carrick to the south; the village of Dundonald, equidistant between Troon and Kilmarnock, is situated in the central portion, Kyle. In terms of present-day local government boundaries, Dundonald lies wholly within the District of South Ayrshire, although the borders with both North and East Ayrshire are close by.

Few locations are so steeped in Scottish history as Dundonald. The castle hill was first the site of a hillfort - Dun - the earliest manifestation of our community, its precise origins are shrouded in the mists of antiquity. Whoever might have told who Donald was has long since passed on but by the same token there is no telling just how many of us are his lineal descendents. Walter Fitzalan, a Norman, was the first High Steward of Scotland and, having received extensive grants of land in what are now Ayrshire and Renfrewshire, established fortifications at Dundonald from around 1160. A more ambitious enclosure castle structure, built for his descendant, Alexander, replaced Walter’s tower a century later but was destroyed during the Wars of Independence, perhaps by the Scots themselves to avoid its capture by the English. The present spectacular 14th century edifice was erected upon its ruins at the behest of Robert II, whose parents were Walter, 6th High Steward, and Majorie, daughter of Robert the Bruce. Robert II succeeded his uncle, David II, to the throne of Scotland in 1371. A favoured royal residence, Robert died there in 1390. Dundonald Castle was thus the cradle of the historic Stewart (a modified form of ‘Steward’) dynasty, which came to hold sway not only over Scotland but the whole of Great Britain, after the Union of the Crowns in 1603.

The castle, which has borne the ravages of time but remains largely intact, has been actively promoted over the past three decades and attracts visitors from near and far. It is served by a dedicated Visitor Centre, located at the foot of the castle hill, for the most part staffed by enthusiastic local volunteers, providing a facility which is the beating heart of the community and the object of much - wholly justified - civic pride. Work on an extension is in its initial stages, reflecting this success.

A second focal point in our village’s history, a historic kirktown, had its origins sometime prior to 518 A.D; the first church building recorded on the present site was already extant in 1229. It successor was completed in stages between 1804 and 1817. The steeple clock, by Breckenridge of Kilmarnock, was added in 1841. Further modifications were carried out in 1904 and 1906. It is a matter of record that William Burns, father of Robert Burns the poet, worshipped here for about a year up until 26th November 1752, whilst employed as a gardener on Fairlie Estate.

At the time of the Great Disruption in 1843, a Free Church was established in Dundonald, overseen by the Rev. Thomas Burns, nephew of the poet, who is himself said to have passed through Dundonald on occasion.

Dundonald Parish at one time extended along the west coast from the River Irvine in the north to the Pow Burn in the south, prior to its eclipse by Troon, in consequence of the establishment of a railway line from Kilmarnock and the rapid development of the natural harbour there as an outlet for the Ayrshire coalmines during the first half of the 19th century; these were the initiatives of the Duke of Portland. John Thomson’s Atlas of Scotland in 1832 depicts Dundonald as bounded by the neighbouring parishes of Irvine, Dreghorn, Kilmaurs, Riccarton, Symington and Monkton.

The Main Street comprises rows of what were originally weavers’ cottages, some of which still possess names, such as Fisher Faulds and Stamford House, which evoke aspects of our community’s past, together with a variety of commercial premises. It remains the backbone of our village, although considerable expansion has taken place over the past century or so.

Another local ruin is Old Auchans, erected by Sir William Cochrane in 1644 and associated also with the Wallace family. There the last permanent resident, Susanna, Dowager Countess of Eglinton - who, in her latter years, if local legend is to be credited, shunned the society of poets and artists in favour of a company of pet rats - was visited by Dr Samuel Johnson and James Boswell during their celebrated tour of Scotland in 1773 and died in 1780. Abandoned since around the turn of the 20th century, the ruin of Auchans is set in a tranquil ancient woodland, which, with the Clavens Hills beyond, are today the popular haunt of ramblers and dog walkers alike.


Dundonald Castle, and the long-demolished farmhouse at
Winehouse Yetts - no Visitor Centre then! (postmarked 1907)


Links

Burnawn Family History Services

Dundonald Castle and Visitor Centre

Friends of Dundonald Castle

Dundonald Parish Church

Ayrshire Archives

Scotland’s People

Troon @ Ayrshire Family History Society

Old Scottish Genealogy & Family History

Family Search

Ayrshire Roots

Genuki

                   


Dundonald Castle & Village (no postmark)



Resources

  • Certificates of Birth, Death & Marriage, 1855 to present
  • Old Parish Registers

  • Births and Baptisms, 1673-1854
    Marriages, 1676 - 1820
    Deaths & Burials, 1763-1854

  • Census Records 1841 - 1911

  • (Night of Monday...)

    1841 - 7th June
    1851 - 31st March
    1861 - 8th April
    1871 - 3rd April
    1881 - 4th April
    1891 - 5th April
    1901 - 1st April
    1911 - 3rd April

In addition to the above, Scotland’s People also holds Valuation Rolls,
legal records, Poor Relief & migration records and Dissolutions.

Among the records held by Ayrshire Archives are baptismal registers
(CH2/104/26 1855-1898, with a gap from 1868-1879, and CH2/104/27 1899-1983),
Kirk Session minute books (CH2/104/28 1883-1975) and communion rolls
(CH2/104/29 1907-1912) for Dundonald St Giles Parish Church, as well as
the Session minute book for Dundonald Free Church, United Free and Church
of Scotland (CH3/803/1 1891-1942).

                                       

Dundonald Castle from West (postmarked 1913)



Publications

Half-a-century on from its original publication, the locus classicus of all things Troon remains Ian M. Mackintosh’s celebrated 1969 study, Old Troon (George Outram & Co. Ltd., Kilmarnock). A brief but useful section dedicated to Dundonald, with a black & white photograph of the castle and two of Old Auchans, extends from pp. 72-75.

Mr Mackintosh’s bibliography lists Dundonald, the Parish and its Setting, by the Rev. J. H. Gillespie, published in two volumes by John Wylie & Co. in 1939. Sadly, this potentially illuminating work is long since out of print; needless to say, the hunt is on for a copy.

A far more recent publication, highly recommended and available for sale at the Dundonald Castle Visitor Centre, is Old Dundonald, by Alex F. Young, 2018, Stenlake Publishing Limited, Catrine. There are rather more vintage photographs than pages, of which there are 49.

A full colour Official Souvenir Guide, under the title of Dundonald Castle, was published by the Friends of Dundonald Castle in 2012.

A trilogy of booklets, rich in local tradition and anecdote, was published in association with Friends of Dundonald Castle:

  • The Kirk Roads - Historical Jottings around Dundonald by Bobby Kirk, edited by Gordon Stewart
  • Old Auchans House - Dundonald - A Brief History by Gordon Stewart
  • Memories of Old Dundonald, a lively memoir by Mary Muir Livingstone (daughter of the above-mentioned Rev. Mr Gillespie), and edited by Gordon Stewart, is unfortunately now out of print but is reproduced here by kind permission of the author’s daughter, Miss Mamie Livingstone.

In addition, two directly relevant publications are available from the Troon @ Ayrshire Family History Society, The Old Parochial Registers of Scotland Volume 590/2 and 590/4 Dundonald Burial Register (a similar volume exists for Crosbie Kirk) and Monumental Inscriptions - Dundonald Parish Church, Incorporating the notes of W. W. Clearie (Revised March 2009).

Venturing into the realms of historical fiction, two novels by Anna Blair, A Tree in the West (William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., Glasgow, 1976) and The Rowan in the Ridge (The Molendinar Press, Glasgow, 1980), present a highly creative and insightful attempt to chart the lives and times of successive generations of the real-life Blair family of Dundonald Parish from about 1580 up until the early years of the 20th century. - REVIEW

Dundonald Main Street (postmarked 1906)



War Memorial

THEY
COUNTED
NOT
THEIR LIVES
DEAR UNTO
THEMSELVES


IN MEMORY OF

THOSE CONNECTED WITH THIS PARISH

WHO FELL IN THE GREAT WAR

CAPT. GEORGE MORTON
PTE. GEORGE CAMPBELL
PTE. JOHN H. GALE
PTE. ANDREW R. GIBB
PTE. GEORGE MUNRO
PTE. THOMAS M. REID
PTE. HUGH FULTON
PTE. CHARLES HUTCHISON
DMR. JOSEPH MITCHELL
PTE. JOHN MUTCH
PTE. WILLIAM A. DEWAR
PTE. PETER M’AUGHTRIE
PTE. ALEXANDER M’KAY
PTE. CHARLES WILSON
H.L.I.
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BL.WCH.(R.H.)
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A.&S.H.
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     P.O. WILLIAM WATSON
SMN. JOHN CAIRNS
CAPT. J. LOGAN MACKIE
CPL. ALEXANDER M’AUGHTRIE
TPR. GEORGE M’CRIRICK
TPR. JOHN M’EWAN
CAPT. HECTOR W. M’JANNET
GNR. WILLIAM RAMSAY
GNR. JOHN WALLACE
DVR. WILLIAM JONES
CPL. GEORGE D. SMILLIE
PNR. BERTIE MITCHELL
PTE. WILLIAM J. CURRIE
PTE. WILLIAM OWEN
R.N.
MER.MAR.
AYR.YEO.
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R.F.A
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R.H.A.
M.G.C.
R.E.
A.I.F.
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CAPT. ARCHIBALD KENNETH
SGT. SYDNEY CLARK
CPL. ARCHIBALD T. ALEXANDER
L.CPL. JAMES GIBSON
L.CPL. PERCY GLUE
L.CPL. DAVID MURRAY
PTE. WILLIAM BRIGGS
PTE. GABRIEL HADDOW
PTE. ANDREW KERR
PTE. ARCHIBALD C. MACKINNON
PTE. WILLIAM MUTCH
PTE. DUNCAN RITCHIE
PTE. THOMAS TURNER
R.S.F.
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     SGT. JOHN ALLAN
PTE. JOHN R. GIBSON
PTE. WILLIAM DEMPSTER
PTE. GEORGE KANE
PTE. THOMAS MURPHY
L.CPL. JOHN L. M’DOUGALL
PTE. ARCHIBALD M’TAVISH
L.CPL. JAMES MAXWELL
PTE. ROBERT D. M’GUFFIE
PTE. WILLIAM MILLER
PTE. GEORGE B. MOUNCE
DVR. WILLIAM COULTER
PTE. ROBERT P. CUTHBERT
S.R.
S.G.
R.S.
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M.M.Q.O.C.H.
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SEA.H.
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K.O.S.B.
R.A.S.C.
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DMR. GEORGE MITCHELL BL.WCH.(R.H.)


Local boys in Main Street, opposite the entrance to the old Manse
- One of them might be your great-grandfather! (no postmark)


Dundonald Family History Project