Old Cumnock


"The burgh stands in a sheltered hollow among the hills at the junction of the Glaisnock and Lugar waters, and is traversed by the public road leading from Kilmarnock to Dumfries. Its name is supposed to have been derived from Cym, meaning a hollow valley; and cnoc, a hill, which was usually pronounced Cumnock."

"The town in general presents a clean and prosperous appearance, principal part of it being the Square, which was in old times a burying ground, and is now used as a market place. The Parish Church stands in the centre of the Square. The three or four principal streets contain good shops in departments. The town was formerly celebrated for the manufacture of wooden snuff-boxes, and small boxes every conceivable kind, decorated with ornamental painting. Except for its martyr graves, and an interesting relic call the Blue Tower, used in Covenanting times as a temporary barrack by the dragoons, the burgh does not afford great scope for the ingenuity of the antiquary."

"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.


Archives & Libraries

Baird Institute History Centre and Museum
Attn: Mrs Anne Geddes, Heritage Librarian
Lugar Street, Cumnock
Ayrshire KA18 1AD, Scotland
Telephone & Fax: (01290) 421701.

There are two microfilm readers, and you can book a half-day session in advance. This location houses the main genealogical sources for the local area, as well as local history collections. No charges. The family history section is very helpful to visiting researchers.

Opening times: Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri: 10am-1pm, 1.30pm- 4.30pm.

The local paper is the:
Cumnock Chronicle
49 Ayr Road, Cumnock,
Ayrshire KA18 1ED, Scotland.
Telephone: (01290) 423 851


Church History

The Old Church, the Square, was built in 1867. Other churches in Cumnock included:

  • St John's Roman Catholic Church, Glaisnock Street, built in 1882.
  • Crichton Church, built in 1899.

Description & Travel

Old Cumnock is a large parish to the east of Ayrshire centred on the small town of Old Cumnock some 14 miles east of Ayr. Old Cumnock was the centre of of one of Ayrshire's largest coal mining areas. The deep coal mines are all closed now and the town and surrounding area have undergone some development. The area surrounding Old Cumnock is mostly given to dairy and sheep farming.

An 1837 description of Cumnock and Auchinleck, including a listing of the key personalities of the towns, is given in this extract from Pigot's Directory for Ayrshire. The transcript was provided by Keith Muirhead from Queensland.

Old Cumnock is noted as the long term home of James Keir Hardie (1856-1915), coal-miner, socialist and labour leader.

Dumfries House is a beautiful house built 1754-59 by the Adams brothers with its associated estate. It is located on the outskirts of Old Cumnock, on the road to Ochiltree. The house belonged to the Marquis of Bute, having been largely the creation of the 3rd Marquess. There are private papers belonging to the estate, including details of staff and employees, but they are still in the hands of the Crichton-Stuart family. The Archivist for the estate may be contacted at: Andrew McLean, Archivist, Mount Stuart House and Gardens, Isle of Bute PA20 9LR, Scotland; Telephone: 01700 503877, Facsimile: 01700-505313.

You can see pictures of Old Cumnock which are provided by:





You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NS591174 (Lat/Lon: 55.430523, -4.228861), Old Cumnock which are provided by:



Here are some figures showing the parish's population through time: