Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for Prestwick

Prestwick, a small town in Monkton and Prestwick parish, Kyle district, Ayrshire, within 3 furlongs of the sea-shore, and 2¾ miles N by E of Ayr. Its age, and especially its constitution as a burgh of barony, are remarkable, and strongly resemble those of the curious neighbouring burgh of Newton-upon-Ayr. A charter, confirming and renewing its privileges, was granted by James VI. as administrator-in-law for his eldest son, then a minor, Henry, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Kyle, Carrick, and Cunninghame, Lord of the Isles, and Prince Stewart of Scotland. The charter is dated 19 June 1600, and expressly says that Prestwick was known to have been a free burgh of barony beyond the memory of man, for the space of 617 years before the date of renewal. The burgh has power to elect every two years a provost, 2 bailies, and councillors, to grant franchises for several trades, and to hold a market weekly, and a fair on the feast of St Nicholas, 6 December. The freemen, or barons as they are called, are 36 in number. The burgh lands belonging to them as an incorporation extend in a broad strip along the Pow Burn to a line 1½ mile nearer Ayr, and comprehend about 800 acres. The lands used to be distributed in lots among the freemen, and did not remain in perpetuity, but were drawn for every 19 years. Part of them long existed as a common, on which each of the freemen had a right of pasturing a certain number of sheep and cattle; but this, many years ago, was divided and appropriated in the same way as the rest of the barony. Freemen could not sell their lots or shares, or the baronial rights which belong to them, without the consent of the corporation; and females succeeded equally with males to the inheritance of the freeholds. A freeman might, for an offence, be sent to prison, but not locked up; and, if he came out without being liberated by the judicial sentence of the magistrates, he forfeited all his corporation privileges and property. In 1850, however, all restrictions were abolished, and the land is now held in the same way as other heritable land in Scotland. Within the last few years Prestwick has become the headquarters of golfing in the West of Scotland, and at the same time a favourite watering-place, so that in summer it is crowded with visitors. It has a post office under Ayr, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, a station on the Ayr branch (183840) of the Glasgow and South-Western railway, an ancient market cross, a town-hall, a cemetery, Free and U.P. churches, and a public school. The town-hall, built about 1837, is a handsome edifice, with a Gothic spire. The Free church, built in 1874 at a cost of £1600, contains 450 sittings. The U.P. church was opened in 1884; and the public school, accommodating 320 children, in 1882. Pop. (1793) 260, (1837) 758, (1861) 851, (1871) 750, (1881) 1064, of whom 596 were females. Houses (1881) 231 inhabited, 99 vacant, 13 building.—Ord. Sur., sh. 14, 1863. See Monkton, and John Fullarton's Records of the Burgh of Prestwick from 1470 to 1782 (Glasg., Maitland Club, 1834).

(F.H. Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4); © 2004 Gazetteer for Scotland)

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a small town"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Monkton and Prestwick ScoP       Prestwick Burgh       Ayrshire ScoCnty
Place: Prestwick

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