Monkton and Prestwick

   MONKTON and PRESTWICK, a parish, in the district of Kyle, county of AYR, 4 miles (N. N. E.) from Ayr; containing 1933 inhabitants, of whom 1152 are in the ancient burgh of barony of Prestwick. Monkton and Prestwick formerly consisted of one district under the name of Prestwick, which, on the institution of the abbey of Paisley, was granted to that establishment by its founder, Walter, son of Alan, the High Steward of Scotland, in 1163; and the two churches here, of which one was dedicated to St. Nicholas and the other to St. Cuthbert, are in the chartulary of the abbey both styled churches of Prestwick, though subsequently the parishes assigned to each respectively occur under the designations of Prestwick de Burgo and Prestwick Monachorum. The inhabitants of the former had a charter of incorporation at a very early period, conferring all the privileges of a burgh, which were ratified by a charter of James VI. setting forth that Prestwick had been a free burgh of barony for more than 600 years prior to the date of this second charter, which gives the inhabitants power to elect a provost, bailie, and other officers, and to hold a weekly market, and assigns to the freemen a participation of the lands in equal portions. The records of the abbey of Paisley describe the church of Monkton as a rectory, and it continued to be so till the time of the Reformation; that of Prestwick eventually became a chapel. The precise time of the union of the parishes does not appear.
   The parish is about three miles and a half in length and the same in breadth; it is bounded on the west by the Frith of Clyde, and comprises 3052 acres, of which 2270 are arable, sixty-three woodland and plantations, and the remainder pasture. The surface is generally level, with a gentle rise towards the north-east, and the coast is also flat with the exception of occasional sand hills. There are two small streamlets, of which the larger, called the Pow burn, rises in the parish of Craigie, and, flowing through the lands, and turning two mills in its course, falls into the sea near the parish of Dundonald. The scenery is not much varied, and but little enriched with wood. The soil along the coast is light and sandy; in other parts, of richer quality, consisting of deep loam; and in some, a stiff tenacious clay. The crops are, wheat, oats, barley, potatoes, turnips, and beans. The system of husbandry is greatly improved; furrow-draining has been extensively practised, and much unproductive land has been rendered fertile; the farm-buildings are of a very superior order, and all the more recent improvements in agricultural implements have been adopted. Coal, green whinstone, and freestone are the principal substrata. The coal occurs in two seams, the upper of which lies at a depth of about six fathoms from the surface, and, having been wrought for more than thirty years, is now exhausted: the other, at a depth of forty fathoms, has also been worked for more than twenty years; it is of harder and better quality, but the works are at present discontinued. The freestone, which is found both of a white and a red colour, is of excellent quality. The rateable annual value of Monkton and Prestwick is £4942. The seats are, Adamtown, erected in the 13th century by the family of Blair; Orangefield; Fairfield, formerly Monkton-Mains; and Ladykirk. The village of Monkton, anciently Villa Monachorum, is entirely rural; but a few of the inhabitants are employed in hand-loom weaving. The Glasgow railway has a station here. The parish is in the presbytery of Ayr and synod of Glasgow and Ayr; the minister's stipend is £203. 16. 10., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £35 per annum. The two old churches, which are of great antiquity, are still remaining, but are no longer used for the performance of divine service. A new church, in a centrical situation, has been erected at an expense of more than £2500, and completed and opened for public worship in 1837; it is a substantial and handsome edifice in the later English style, and is adapted for a congregation of 825 persons. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school, situated in the village of Monkton, affords education to about 130 scholars; the master has a salary of £34, with £33 fees, and a house and garden. There is a school in the village of Prestwick, which gives instruction to about fifty children; the master has the use of the old town-house for a schoolroom, and receives a gratuity annually, in lieu of a dwelling-house, in addition to the fees. On the lands of Ladykirk are the remains of a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, which in ancient documents is styled the chapel of "Ladykirk in Kyle;" the building was quadrilateral, with angular turrets, of which one is remaining. Between the villages of Prestwick and Prestwick-Toll are the ruins of an old hospital called Kingcase, traditionally said to have been founded by Robert Bruce for lepers, in consequence of his having, when affected with the disease, received considerable benefit from drinking the water of a spring at that place.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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