Lands of Lainshaw
|Stewarton, East Ayrshire, Scotland
GB grid reference NS255564, 620506
The restored Lainshaw House in 2007, showing the various construction phases.
The Lands of Lainshaw lie in Strathannick and were part of the Lordship of Stewarton. Lainshaw House is a category B listed mansion lying in a prominent position above the Annick Water and its holm in the Parish of Stewarton, Scotland. A much older Lainshaw Castle tower is contained within the several later building phases of the present day building. The names 'Langshaw' or 'Langschaw' were used in historic times. Law Mount near the High and Laigh Castleton farms has been suggested as the site of the original castle granted in the 12th century to Godfrey de Ross by Hugo de Morville.
- 1 The Lands of Lainshaw
- 2 The Murder of the Earl of Eglinton at the Annick Ford
- 3 The Highland host
- 4 The Bloak mineral well and the chalybeate spring
- 5 James Boswell
- 6 Micro-history
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The Lands of Lainshaw
As the original seat of the Stuarts or Stewarts it was considered of much value and was bestowed by the Scottish Kings only as a special mark of favour. Mary Queen of Scots changed the spelling to 'Stuart' during her time in France to ensure that the French pronounced the name correctly. James, High Steward of Scotland inherited Stewarton in 1283. Robert III granted it to
|The name Lainshaw was derived from the Scots words Lang and Shaw. The meaning is a long strip of woodland rather than a large wood or forest.|
Archibald the Grim, Earl of Douglas then took it back to bestow as a dowry on Elizabeth, the Earl's daughter, when she married John Stewart, Earl of Buchan. The lands reverted to the crown many times. Queen Mary presented the lands to Mary Livingstone, one of the famous 'four Marys', upon her marriage to John Sempill, son of Lord Sempill in 1565. John Knox referred to them as "John the Dancer and Marie the Lusty". The Montgomeries obtained the lands shortly after.
One of the earliest references to Lainshaw, Langshaw or Langschaw is the grant of land to Alexander Home of Holme by King James II in 1450. Castleton, Gallowberry, Whitelee, Crennachbrare, Robertland and Magbiehill (Magby Hill in 1775) were also included in the grant. Thomas Home inherited, but he died without issue and it passed to the Eglinton family, namely Sir Neil or Nigel Montgomerie of Langshaw who was the third son of the first Earl of Eglinton. He was killed at Irvine in 1547 through the feud with the Mowats of Busbie and Lord Boyd. His son, John, married Margaret, daughter of Lord Boyd. John Montgomerie died without issue and his brother Neil became the third Laird.
Neil Montgomerie married the heiress of Lord Lyle and had a son, Neil, who died before 1621. The son, Neil, had married Elizabeth, daughter of John Cunningham and had four children, Neil of Lainshaw, William of Bridgend, James of Dunlop, and John of Cockilbie. Neil and his son John sold their estates in 1654 to John of Cockilbie.
In 1745 the Laird of Langshaw died suddenly from drinking bad wine. When the 9th Laird, James, died in 1767 his eldest sister, Elizabeth inherited. She had married Alexander Montgomerie-Cuninghame of Kirktonholme, son of Sir David Cuninghame of Corsehill. Her second husband was J. Beaumont Esq.
The 10th Laird was their son, Sir Walter Montgomerie-Cuninghame, who lost a fortune as result of the American War of Independence. William Cunninghame of Bridgehouse and (afterwards Lainshaw), the 'Tobacco Lord', had made a fortune in America between 1748 and 1762. In 1776 'Linshaw' is shown on road map as occupied by Bowman Esq. In 1779 William Cunninghame purchased Lainshaw from Sir Walter and proceeded to improve the Estate under an agreement whereby the Montgomeries could reclaim the estate only if they could reimburse William for the cost of his improvements.
They were never able to do so. William married three times and had fourteen children. He disinherited his eldest sons Thomas and Alexander and it was his third son, William Cunninghame who inherited the estate in 1799, but did not take up residence until 1804. During his time the house was remodelled extensively. He was a religious eccentric, which led to various court actions and his publishing a wide range of eccentric books, including one against swearing. He never married, having heard his childhood sweetheart utter unacceptably bad language. On his death in 1849, the estate passed to his younger half brother, John Cuninghame of Duchrae, who in turn was succeeded in 1864 by his son John William Herbert, a Captain in the 2nd Life Guards and married in 1867 to Emily, eldest daughter of Major George Graham.
The house and estate
The house remained with the family until it was bought by the Local Authority in 1947 and became a care home for the elderly. Following a period as a ruin it was restored and converted into a number of apartments.
In 1691 the 'place of Longshaw (sic) and office houses' had eleven hearths and associated dwellings of the 'Lands of Longshaw' (sic) numbered over sixty, including Peacockbank.
The whale bone arch at the main lodges was constructed from the bones found at the confluence of the Annick Water and the River Irvine.
The estate map of 1779 shows a band of woodland running around the estate curtilage. This strip had a carriage-way running through its middle and this links with the ha-ha at the chalybeate spring field. Wide wooden bridges with stone abutments close to the Annick Bridge in Stewarton and close to the walled gardens allowed a complete circuit of the estate curtilage to be made. Only the abutments of these bridges remain.
The old driveway to Lainshaw House off the Stewarton to Torranyard road also has a 'ha-ha' on the side facing the home farm before it reaches the woods. The name ha-ha may be derived from the response of ordinary folk on encountering them and that they were, "...then deemed so astonishing, that the common people called them Ha! Ha's! to express their surprise at finding a sudden and unperceived check to their walk." An alternative theory is that it describes the laughter of those who see a walker fall down the unexpected hole. A seat may have been situated by the ha-ha and the woodland view would have been, and indeed still is, very attractive as this area is clearly an ancient woodland remnant. The stone boundary wall stops in line with the ha-ha.
A view of the abutment of the old carriageway bridge over the Annick Water near the Annick Road bridge at Stewarton.
Near the main entrance is marked a building or buildings called 'Castle-salt', the reason for the name is not known, however salt houses were associated with baronial dwellings and these were used for the storage of salted and preserved foods. It could be that the name 'salt' is a corruption of another word, such as 'soiled' or 'soil', as in the 'night soil', i.e, the midden where the night soil was placed before being taken away for use as fertilizer. A document held in the Scottish National Archive mentions a 'Cattle salt' in Stewarton. In the Laigh Kirk graveyard there is a memorial to Robert Cunningham, erected by James Cunningham of Castle-Salt in 1827. A Mrs. Bracket lived at Castle-salt in 1820, the valued rent being £16. The land around Lainshaw Primary school was known as 'Picken's Park' (originally 'Padzean') and its trees were felled circa 1950, the trees being taken to Bickethall Farm for sawing, etc. Picken was a common local name at the time. Robertson records in 1820 that fields had been drained at considerable expense by filling ditches with stones.
In 1779 the estate farms included Gilmill, Kirkmuir, Righead, Parkside, Irvinehill, the Kilbryde Farms, Gouknest, Magbie-hill, Gaimes-hill, Bankend of Bollingshaw, Sandyland of Bollingshaw, Canaan and Clerkland. The rental income from the estate was £1628 per year, a considerable sum (Lainshaw 1779). James Kerr was the 'Baron Officer' at Lainshaw until his death on 4 July 1880. His wife was Barbara Barclay and they were buried at the Laigh Kirk.
The estate wall running from near Freezeland to near the Law Mount was built by unemployed labourers in the early 19th. Century.
James Forrest of Mid Lambroughton recorded the rare Bird's Nest Orchids and the Lesser Wintergreen plants as growing in the estate woodlands in the 1930s. Locally the woodlands, marked as Anderson's Plantation on some maps, are known as the 'Wendy woods' for some forgotten reason.
The Lainshaw Scottish Sundial
A lectern style Scottish sundial was located at Lainshaw, similar to the lectern at Ladyland but with two steps and hemi-cylinders towards the South rather than one; it is now at Hensol House near Castle Douglas. The sundial plinth has the Cuninghame coat of arms and the initials SAC DMS, for Sir Alexander Cuninghame (d. 1685) and his wife, Dame Margaret Stewart (m. 1665) who lived at Corsehill Castle; the dial may have been taken to Lainshaw when the family moved in 1779. The date of construction may have been 1672, when Sir Alexander was created Baronet or in 1673, when he became a freemason.
The Lainshaw Cycle and pedestrian path
The Stewarton Woodland Action Trust have created a network of public access paths, some of which run through the old Lainshaw Estate lands.
The same 'Coach Road' through the policies near the Lainshaw Ha-ha in 2006.
The Murder of the Earl of Eglinton at the Annick Ford
The Baillieship of Cunninghame had long been in the hands of the Cunninghames, Earls of Glencairn, however at around the date of 1448 the Crown conferred the Baillieship on the head of the House of Montgomerie (de Mon' Gubri), Earls of Eglinton. This act inevitably caused resentment and resulted in a bloody feud that ran on for centuries. At one point Kerelaw Castle was burned and the Earl of Glencairn retaliated by burning Eglinton Castle although the Earl of Eglinton had escaped to Ardrossan Castle, an impressive fortress until comparatively recent times when Oliver Cromwell had much of its stonework removed and shipped to Ayr to build his new fort. Edward Cuninghame of Auchenharvie was slain in 1526 and Archibald Cuninghame of Waterstoun in 1528.
On 18 April 1586, Hugh, 4th. Earl of Eglinton, aged twenty-four, was travelling to Stirling to join the court having been commanded to attend by the King, accompanied only by a few domestic servants. He stopped at Lainshaw Castle to dine with his close relative, a Montgomerie, who was Lord of Lainshaw and who's Lady was a Margaret Cunninghame of Aiket Castle, with sisters married to John Cunninghame of Corsehill and David Cunninghame of Robertland. It seems that a plot to kill the Earl as an act of revenge had been organised and the Lady, or some say a servant girl who was also a Cunninghame, climbed to the battlements after the meal to hang out a white table napkin and thereby spring the plot. Thirty Cunninghames attacked the Earl at the Bridgend Ford and cut his servants to pieces with swords and other weapons, the Earl himself being finally dispatched with a single shot from the pistol of John Cunninghame of Clonbeith Castle. His horse carried his dead body along the side of the river, still known as the 'Weeping', 'Mourning' or 'Widows' path. Kerr, with local knowledge, states that the site of the crime was recently (1936) built over by a factory, so the site of the ford in question could not have been at the entrance to the Lainshaw Estate at David Dale Avenue, but at the Bridgend Ford instead.
Upon the death of the 5th Earl the title passed to a cousin, Sir Alexander Seton. The main representation of the Montgomerie line therefore passed to the Lainshaw line and then to the Cockilbie branch.
The murdered Earl was eventually taken to Lainshaw Castle, but in the meantime a wave of bloody revenge swept over Cunninghame and elsewhere. Cunninghame friends, relatives and adherents were killed without restraint.
The Earl of Glencairn showed his lack of involvement by taking no action against the Montgomeries and by leaving his kinsmen to the full weight of the law. Aiket was killed near his home; Robertland and Corsehill escaped to Denmark. Clonbeith was traced to a house in Hamilton, possibly Hamilton Palace and hacked to pieces by Robert Montgomerie and John Pollock of that Ilk. Clonbeith had hid within a chimney Both Robertland and Corsehill were pardoned on the insistence of Queen Anne of Denmark upon her marriage to King James VI of Scotland, despite his earlier vow to bring them to justice. Robertland was employed as one of her Majesty's master stablers. The properties of the guilty parties had been confiscated and given to the Montgomeries, however the estates were eventually returned in ruinous condition.
Lady Margaret Montgomerie was said to have fled to Ireland, however it seems that she remained close by, living with an estate tenant, one Robert Barr and family at Pearce Bank (Peacockbank) farm, now High Peacockbank. She was eventually permitted to return to her husband and home, however she never again left the grounds of Lainshaw Castle and she avoided any contact with the Montgomerie family for the remainder of her days.
Lady Elizabeth Montgomerie's ghost is said to haunt Lainshaw Castle, wandering the corridors wearing a green dress and carrying a candle.
Other versions of the tale
William Robertson relates a very different tale, stating that Cunninghame of Robertland spent two years developing a friendship with Hugh and despite warnings from Hugo, third Earl, eventually Hugh held Robertland in high esteem and close friendship, giving the opportunity for him to be caught off guard and cut down when attacked by sixty Cunninghame horseman. His servants had all left him to his fate. The site of this action is not recorded. Blair gives this version as well, stating that Cunninghame of Robertland was 'a very dear friend' and loved Earl Hugh 'as his own bedfellow'.
Chambers has Cunningham of Robertland as the leading person in the affair, recording that The Cunninghams, being grieved hereat, made presently a vow that they should be avenged upon the fattest of the Montgomeries for that fact.' The perpetrators all escaped unharmed 'beyond sea', but their lands and castles were awarded to the Earl's brother 'either to be demolished or otherwise'. Robertland himself fled to Denmark and was eventually pardoned by the King and returned to Scotland as her majesty's master stabler. The Earl was on no special journey and the Lady of Lainshaw is not mentioned in this version.
George Robertson gives yet another, 'traditional' version, in which Cunninghame of Clonbeith is stated as being at best an accessory, although he is still caught and killed in Hamilton. Here the Earl is on his way to a visit to the laird of Robertland Castle, but stops first for a meal at Lainshaw. The Laird of Lainshaw tries to dissuade him from continuing his journey, but to no avail and on his way back from Robertland he is met and murdered by Cunninghame of Aiket at a place called the Windy-path in Stewarton. He was shot and although dying he was able to stay in the saddle until he reached the Annick Ford where he fell from his horse and expired immediately. The Windy-path has been called the Mourning-path since that day. The date of this event is given as 12-05-1589, a date that does not fit with the 1586 date of the first version given.
Steven states that "The ruins, nearly levelled by the hand of time, of the Castle of Robertland formerly stronghold of the Cuninghames, Baronets of Robertland, are situated behind the modern mansion of Alexander Kerr, esq. of Robertland. this stronghold, it is say, was destroyed by fire in a feud between the Montgomeries of Eglinton and the Cuninghames; in revenge for which, one of the Cuninghames shot the chief of the Eglintons, while riding home, near to Bridgend, at the east end of the town of Stewarton, where a path is still shown, called the " Weeping Path," along which he rode,until he came to the ford of the Annock, at Bridgend, where he fell dead off his horse. This took place on the 12th April 1586. in the person of Hugh, fourth Earl of Eglinton."
MacGachen (1844) gives a confused version in the collection of prose and verse named the 'Ayrshire Wreath'. The action takes place at the 'Bridge of Annock', erroneously located over the Carmel Burn! The Earl's manservant is named as Archie Mucledrouth and Cunningham of Aiket is stated as having fired the fatal shot and as having been hunted down and 'cut to pieces' in Hamilton. Many of the Earl's retainers are said to have been killed, the 'stream' running red with their blood, giving a fisherman, a maiden and some children a nasty shock. Otherwise the story is much the same as the Robertson version.
The authors Reilly and Metcalfe have a very different version and state that the earl was on his way from Polnone (Polnoon near Eaglesham) to tryst at Stirling, having travelled about six miles before being attacked and shot by the lairds of Robertland and Aiket, as well as other Cunnighames; no mention is made of the Montgomerie's of Lainshaw.
Fullarton states that the murder was planned by the Earl of Glencairn and that Hugh was most cruelly, shamefully, and unmercifully murdered and slain by John Cunninghame of Reis (brother to the Earl of Glencairn); Alexander Cunninghame (brother of Cunninghame of Polquharne); John Cunninghame (servant to John Cunninghame); David Cunninghame of Robertland; Andrew Arnot of Lochrig; Robert Cunninghame of Kirkland; Alexander Cunninghame of Aiket; William Cunninghame of Aiket; Patrick Cunninghame of Bordland; Abraham Cunninghame (bastard son of Alexander of Clonbeith); John Reyburn of that Ilk; Patrick Cunninghame of Corsehill; John Cunninghame of Clonbeith; Mungo Mure of Rowallan; Alan Foulis in Fulshaw; David Maxwell of Kilmacolm; John Maxwell of Kilmacolm; John Brown in Gateside; David Fulton in Robertland; John Henry in Little Cutstraw; Robert Dick in Crockford; Robert Henry in Robertland; John Hart (servant to David of Robertland); Hugh White (servant to John of Clonbeith); Gilbert Dunlop (servant of Patrick of Bordland); Alexander Speir in Brome; and John Wylie in Roughside.
The Highland host
To prevent the Covenanters holding 'Conventicles', King Charles II moved highland troops, the 'Highland Host' into the west-land of Ayrshire. "They took free quarters; they robbed people on the high road; they knocked down and wounded those who complained; they stole, and wantonly destroyed, cattle; they subjected people to the torture of fire to discover to them where their money was hidden; they threatened to burn down houses if their demands were not at once complied with; besides free quarters they demanded money every day; they compelled even poor families to buy brandy and tobacco for them; they cut and wounded people from sheer devilment." The cost of all this amounted to £6062 12s 8d in Stewarton parish alone.
The Bloak mineral well and the chalybeate spring
Paterson states that there is a mineral spring near Stewarton, called the Bloak Well. It was discovered through the observation that pigeons from Lainshaw House and the neighbouring parishes were found to flock here to drink. Mr. Cunningham of Lainshaw built a handsome house over the well in 1833 and appointed a keeper to take care of it as the mineral water was of some value owing to healing properties attributed to it. The well was located in the middle of the kitchen.
The Chapel Burn rises near the Anderson Plantation in the fields below Lainshaw Mains and it is marked as a chalybeate or mineral spring on the 1911 6" OS map. Bore holes nearby suggest that the water was put to a more formal use at one time, supplying cattle troughs or possibly even for a stand pipe as mineral water was popular for its supposed curative properties. According to the opinion of the day, it could cure the colic, the melancholy, and the vapours; it made the lean fat, the fat lean; it killed flat worms in the belly, loosened the clammy humours of the body, and dried the over-moist brain. The main spring here has been covered over and the water piped out to the burn.
The chalybeate spring (otherwise known as Siderite, a mineral consisting of iron(II) carbonate, FeCO3 - 48 percent iron) described here is not the only well/spring in the area which is identified as being a mineral spring, for there is still a cottage named Saltwell in what was the hamlet of Bloak. This information is stated by the Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, however Mrs. Florence Miller of Saltwell recollects that this well was never known specifically as the Bloak Well. The present building was purchased from the Cunninghames of Lainshaw in the 1920s, having been built between 1800 and 1850. It is thought that the salt well now lies beneath the floor of the building and various physical features of the building suggest that it is the structure built by the Cunninghames. The well was first discovered by the fact that migrating birds, especially swifts and swallows, flocked to it. It is of unknown composition and is not listed as chalybeate. The cottage was a 'but and ben' and it is a 'handsome' building as described by Paterson. A Redwells Farm is located nearby at Auchentiber, the etymology of tiber itself refers to a well.
David Laing was the closest relative and therefore heir to Lord Lyle of Lainshaw, a judge of the court session. Laing took the surname Montgomerie and married Veronica Boswell, sister of Alexander Boswell, Lord Auchinleck.
James Boswell of Auchinleck House, the famous biographer and friend of Dr. Samuel Johnson was married in 1769 to his cousin, the youngest daughter of David, Margaret Montgomerie in Lainshaw Castle. He had gone to Ireland with Margaret, with the intention of courting another wealthy cousin, however he fell in love with the penniless Margaret and married her instead. The room they were married in was one floor above the room in which the Earl of Eglinton was laid after he was murdered by Cunninghame at the old brig or ford on the Annick Water near the entrance to the castle on the Stewarton road.
Lainshaw was known in the 19th century as the Lainshaw, Kirkwood and Bridgehouse Estate in the Register of Sasines.
In 1920 William Henry Goff purchased Lainshaw from the Cunninghame family.
Dobie states that two pre-reformation chapels existed locally, one at Lainshaw and one at Chapeltoun. In 1616 the Earl of Eglinton transferred the patronage of Lainshaw Chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, to Sir Neil Montgomerie of Lainshaw, but by 1661 it was back with the Earl. After the Reformation the chapel's endowment was appropriated by the patron and the chapel allowed to fall into ruins. No remains of the chapel now exist. Paterson suggests that only one chapel existed and this was at Chapeltoun or Chapel. The church at Stewarton was at one time held by the Cuninghames of Lainshaw.
The name Stewarton is said to derive from Walter, High Steward of Scotland to David I who lived here in the 12th. century. Robert the Steward, a direct descendent, became King Robert II. The town had 1800 inhabitants in 1820. Walter was the son of Alain who had been invited by Henry I to live in England. He returned to Scotland with King David I in 1141.
The Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) is a neo-classical building in Royal Exchange Square in the Glasgow city centre, which was built in 1778 as the townhouse of William Cunninghame of Lainshaw, a wealthy tobacco lord. The building has undergone a series of different uses; It was used by the Royal Bank of Scotland; it then became the Royal Exchange. Reconstruction for this use resulted in many additions to the building, namely the Corinthian pillars to the Queen Street facade, the cupola above and the large hall to the rear of the old house.
Timothy Pont in 1604 - 08 records that so thickly was the district about Stewarton and along the banks of the Irvine populated for a space of three or four miles (6 km) "that well travelled men in divers parts of Europe (affirm) that they have seen walled cities not so well or near planted with houses so near each other as they are here, wherethrough it is so populous that, at the ringing of a bell in the night for a few hours, there have seen convene 3000 able men, well-horsed and armed."
In the 1600s Stuartoune had fairs on the first Thursday of January, the first Monday of May, and the last Wednesday of October. A weekly market on Thursdays is recorded as being not well attended.
In 1820 only six people were qualified to vote as freeholders in Stewarton Parish, being proprietors of Robertland (Hunter Blair), Kirkhill (Col. J. S. Barns), Kennox (McAlester), Lainshaw (Cunninghame), Lochridge (Stewart) and Corsehill (Montgomery-Cunninghame).
The 'Stewarton Sickness' refers to the powerful religious revival that started in 1625 and continued to involve Stewartonians in strong religious attitudes until comparatively recent times.
- Lainshaw Mill
Lainshaw Mill, previously Peacockbank Mill, below the railway viaduct, was famous for the large Rowan Tree growing out of its chimney. The mill ceased grinding corn in the 1930s and was completely demolished in the second half of the 20th. Century after a disastrous fire, the fate of many an old mill. In the 1860 William Eaglesham was the miller, with his wife Helen Wilson. He died aged 70 and is buried in the Laigh Kirk graveyard. The Lainshaw viaduct was opened on August 3. 1868, but did not actually have track and trains running over it until March 1871. Colonel Mure of Caldwell performed the opening ceremony.
In 1797 Magbie Hill above Stewarton has a field called 'Stone Field' which may record a standing stone now long destroyed or possibly moved as the nearby farm has two large boulders in front of it. Coal pits are marked in the vicinity of Magbie (MacBeth) Hill, possibly explaining the name, as 'mag' was a term used for poor quality coal. The nearby 'Water Plantation' was known as 'Magbie-hill Plantation'.
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- Robertson, William (1908). Ayrshire. Its History and Historic Families. Vol.1. Pub. Dunlop & Dreenan. Kilmarnock.
- Search over Lainshaw. Register of Sasines.
- Steven, Rev. Charles Bannatyne (Revised 1842). Parish of Stewarton. Presbytery Of Irvine, Synod of Glasgow and Ayr
- Taylor, G. and Skinner, A. (1776) Survey and maps of the roads of North Britain or Scotland
- Thomson, John (1828). A Map of the Northern Part of Ayrshire.
- Urquhart, Robert H. et al. (1998). The Hearth Tax for Ayrshire 1691. Ayrshire Records Series V.1. Ayr : Ayr Fed Hist Soc ISBN 0-9532055-0-9.
-  The Cunninghams of Aiket and the Murder of the 4th Earl.
-  The Murder of the 4th Earl of Eglinton.
-  General Roy's Military map of Scotland.
-  Details of the De Soulis, De Morville and other Cunninghame families.
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