Sorn is not the only name in the parish of Celtic origin. Dalgain is Celtic also, and means a field of sand; Auchmannoch, the hill field; Auchincloich, the stone-field; Barbioch, comely grove; Blairkip, the field of archers; Glenshamrock, clover-dale; Daldarch, oak field ; Dalldilling, a field that may he overflowed; indeed, most of the place-names are Celtic. The names were doubtless descriptive when they were given, but improved methods of agriculture have done much to redeem the country, and many of them are no longer appropriate. Thus Auchincloich is not particularly stony, nor Daldarch remarkable for its oak trees.
It is interesting to glance at the attitude of some of the county families as regards religion in the Covenanting times. It is a mistake to suppose that the rising was only a movement of peasants. Many men of the highest standing took part in it, and suffered as severely as their poorer brethren. The Campbells of Auchmannoch were directly descended from the Loudoun family, and the many Campbells settled in Sorn and neighbouring parishes, were evidently of one blood, for they all engaged in the most clannish fashion in the same quarrels (which were the principal recreation of the times), and are mentioned in each other's documents. In matters of religion they seem to have been divided, for while Hew and Robert Campbell of Kingencleugh (in Mauchlne parish), and George and Arthur Campbell of Auchmannoch, were ardent Reformers and Presbyterians, their cousin of Loudoun, Sheriff of Ayr, took his place in the opposite camp, and did not spare even his own kinsfolk when it came to a matter of fulfilling the duties of his office. Thus, when Hew Campbell brought the Reformer Wishart to preach in the kirk of Mauchline, the Sheriff of Ayr, at the request of the Prior, sent his soldiers to prevent him, and as the church was filled with hostile soldiery, Wishart, much to Hew Campbell's chagrin, advised that there should be no fighting, and he preached instead on Mauchline Moor. George Campbell of Auchmannoch was active in the support of the Presbyterian Church during the reign of Charles I., and took the field with General Leslie in 1639. His son, Arthur Campbell, who was retoured heir to his father in 1668, was also engaged in the cause of the Covenant. He was fined by Middleton in 1662, and afterwards was imprisoned in Strathaven. His name is among those of many other Ayrshire gentlemen appended to an address regarding grievances in 1701. The crest of the family is rather a striking one- a double-headed eagle issuing from flames, and looking to the sun, and the motto "I byde my tyme."
The Reids of Daldilling were not of the same mind as the Campbells of Auchmannoch, and George Reid was one of those stated by Knox to have held the kirk of Mauchline against Wishart. He was a noted persecutor, and must have been employed by Government, for he was stationed with some troopers in Kingencleugh for a considerable time, as Lauder was in Sorn, to overawe the Presbyterians in the district. Yet it is difficult to account for fines levied both upon Reid of Daldilling and Reid of Ballochmyle, before this date, by the insatiable Middleton. Possibly they were inflicted for some trifling falling away or oversight from the principles which they always seem to have held. Daldilling now forms part of Sorn estate.
The Rankens of Glenlogan are of a very old family and descended from the Sheills of Ochiltree, and in the wild stirring days of fighting and feuds they entered into all the quarrels of the district. "Peter Ranken of Sheill, in 1508, is found banded with Craufords of Kerse, and several others, chiefly Craufords and Cathcarts, His son William is also in the number. Kerse was fined five pounds and the rest forty shillings each for convocation of the lieges, and coming to the court of the bailliery of Carrick on occasion where of the bailie (Hew, Earl of Eglinton) was obliged to resume the brief of the Laird of Kilhenzie, and thus impeding the said bailie from holding his court." A grandson of Peter Ranken, Lawrence Ranken, Laird of Sheill, is represented by Knox as much affected by the preaching of Wishart on Mauchline Moor. At Glenlogan House, on the south-side of the river Ayr, about a mile east from the village, John Knox preached tinder the spreading branches of a great oak-tree, during one of his itinerancies to the West country. Perhaps it was in the year 1566, when Knox visited his friend, Campbell of Kingencleugh, and dispensed the sacrament in the grey old castle.
The Farquhars of Gilmilnscroft are also of a very old family. John Farquhar had a charter from the Commendator of Melrose of the lands of Castle Cavil, in 1445. In 1535 Alexander Farquhar of Gilmilnscroft obtained a charter of Camys and Glenshamroch from the Abbot of Melrose. It is as follows: -
" Be it kent to all men, me, Alexander Farker, to be bonden and oblissit to ane reverend fadder in God, ye Abbot of Melrose and Convent. Not withstanding they have laitten to me in feu heritage and myn airs, the lands of Ower and Nether Camys and Glenshamroch. I nevertheless bin and obliss me and myn airs to the said reverend fadder and convent, that I shall never molest and trubul nor mak requisition to the persons which are at this present time namit and wrytten in the rental of the said abbey, under payn of forfaultin my feu,
(signed) Alex. Farchar, with my own hand."
This document seems to show that the Farquhars of that date were tenants, and not proprietors of the lands mentioned, although they may have had others. The Farquhars were engaged in all the broils of the period, but managed to get better out of them than some of their neighbours.
In 1648 Alexander Pethein was served heir to his grandfather, Alexander Pethein of Auchinlongford. He was one of the many Pedens or Petheins in the district, and to one of them, Alexander Peden, the martyr, belongs, but to which family is a disputed point to this day. It is thought that all the Pedens sprang from the family of Auchinlongford. It was on the banks of the beautiful River Ayr that the persecuted man hid for long, weary years; and from dens and caves of the earth he crept, like some uncanny thing, in the dead of the night, to the friendly shelter of a kinsman's farmhouse where he might snatch a few hours of restful slumber. His weird utterances were looked upon as inspired, by the simple country-folks, and many of his prophetic words really came to pass- not surely a matter to be wondered at, for if any quick-witted person took the trouble to predict the future, some chance utterance would be sure to hit the mark. But we can hardly accuse Peden of such subterfuge. He was an enthusiast- his enemies said a fanatic; but if by fasting and prayer one's spirit attains a higher plane, surely Peden had reached that state, and with clearer vision he may have seen beyond the stumbling-blocks and rocks of offence which obstructed his path, to the dawning of the morning of a better day on the mountain-tops beyond.
A hundred years ago agriculture was in a very imperfect state in the parish, but matters were gradually becoming better, The influence of the Dowager-Countess of Loudoun had been directly for good, and neighbouring proprietors were following in the train of her improvements. Indeed, all over the country at that time there was a marked advance in agricultural matters, and a breaking away from old unintelligent systems and traditions. The parish of Sorn consists of about 19,000 acres, and a century ago there were 3000 acres of moss, 7000 of hills, moor, and other pasture lands, 200 acres of natural wood or plantings, and of the remaining 9000 or so of arable ground, all was not under actual cultivation. Few tenants possessed more than a ploughgate of land, and many of them much less. Those small holdings were a decided disadvantage to the parish, as the farmers could not afford to keep the necessary implements or horses, and so were often dependent for ploughing upon hired labour, or had to wait until someone else could lend them implement or horse, and often they missed their season. They seldom could afford to pay a rent, or paid a very small one when the season was good; and there was not sufficient work on their small holdings to keep them busy all the year through. The proprietors of such small farms, if they farmed their land themselves, simply made a shift to exist and exerted themselves as little as possible. A farm of moderate size was much better kept and more profitable than the very small holdings, and much more provocative of industry. But even the best of farmers was very far behind, as looked at from the standpoint of scientific farming of today. The leases were for eighteen or nineteen years, and a rotation of crops was prescribed, but, through inattention of farmers and absence of landlords, was not strictly enforced. The general rules of rotation were the following: Only one third of a farm to he ploughed at a time, the first two crops to be oats, the third bear and grass seeds, the fourth hay, and the next five years pasture. The farms were not properly subdivided, however, and the farmers were careless of rules made by absent, uninterested landlords. Too often, instead of varying the third and fourth crops, a crop of oats was taken from the ground three or four years in succession, and then, without any kind of seed being sown at all, it grew a rank kind of pasture for the cattle.
Farm-houses were beginning to he rebuilt, a century ago, in a better style than the cot-houses or hovels which formerly were the dwelling-houses, with men and cattle living under the same roof, and often only a narrow passage between the byres and the kitchen. Some of the cot-houses fell into ruins and the pendicles were annexed to the adjacent farms. The cottars went to live in the villages, where they found employment of various kinds, the young people readily getting work in the new mills at Catrine. The rent of the arable farms under the old leases was only about five shillings an acre; but as the leases expired the rents were much raised, and a century ago, ten or twelve shillings an acre was quite common, and near the villages as much as twenty or thirty shillings was asked and obtained. A ploughman received £10 or £12 per annum for wages, a woman-servant £4. A farm-labourer earned 1s 3d a day in winter and 1s 8d in Summer. Tailors went from one farm to another and made the household garments, of good home spun, on the spot. A tailor received one shilling each day, and his food; a mason received is 8d per day. All those prices are quoted as a great advance on what had been until a few years previously. In 1790 a man-servant's wage was £7 or £8; a woman's £3 10s ; a tailor received 8d a day; a labourer 10d in winter and a shilling in summer. There were three corn-mills in the parish and a wauk-mill or bleaching mill, all on the river Ayr, and the farmers were thirled to a particular mill. The farmers reared most of their own horses, some of the old diminutive breed of the country, others middle-sized and hardy and suitable for purposes of agriculture. There were about eighty ploughs in the parish and twice that number of carts. Farmers' gigs were utterly unknown, and the farmer rode to market with his wife seated behind on a pillion. The cattle were almost all black, of a small ancient breed, and were reared for dairy purposes, few, if any, for the market. The making of cheese had just been introduced into the parish by some farmers who had settled there from Dunlop. Before the advent of the cheese-makers, butter, exclusively, was made in the dairies and sold in the neighbouring villages and in Glasgow. The potato was a staple article of diet both for man and beast, for it seems at that time both horses and, cows were partly fed with it, and many of the villagers rented a small piece of ground from the nearest farmers to grow the favourite tuber. For the ground they paid a small rent, at the rate of sixpence a fall, The average produce of an acre was about thirty boIls, and a hundred acres were under such cultivation. Every farmer and cottar grew a small quantity of flax, sufficient for his own domestic, purposes, but little or none for sale. Wheat had been grown experimentally and successfully on some holm-lands, but oats and bear were the principal crops.
There was a lime-stone quarry, a hundred years ago, employing twelve men, and a small colliery near the castle, the seam of coal only eight or nine fathoms deep. Nine men wrought at this pit, and the output on an average per week was two hundred and fifty loads. The price retail per load was sixpence or eightpence. Twenty years previously it had been only fourpence. There were seven loads in a ton. There was a lime-work of eighty years' standing belonging to Mr, Farquhar Gray of Gilmilnscroft, and two other collieries, one belonging to Mr. Gray also, and the other to Mr. Logan of Logan. By a memorandum in the charter-book of the Gilmilnscroft family it seems the standard for the coal-creel was fixed in 1623 at 14 inches wide, 16 inches deep, 30 inches long; and the price 2d sterling. It further adds that the coals had been wrought in the "Burrowlands" since 1497.
Scholastic matters were in a very backward state. There was a school in Sorn and another in Catrine, but the school and dwelling-house of the master in Sorn were described as wretched. The schoolmaster received for salary, besides the fees of the scholars, £8 6s 8d per annum and a small emolument for his services as session-clerk. There were from twenty-five to thirty scholars, The school fees were; For reading, 1s 8d each quarter; for reading and writing, 2s 6d; writing and arithmetic, 3s. From all sources the worthy dominie drew only the meagre salary of £20 per annum. Some families in remoter parts of the parish united in hiring a teacher for their children. The number of poor on the roll was twenty-two, and they received each from 1s 3d to 4s per month from the church funds.
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