Scotland etc.

McWh*rter   Genealogy

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Scotland, Ireland, England, Australia, New Zealand etc.

Updated 6-Feb-2004


Are you descended from John McWhirter
(b. cir 1750) and
Jean Sloan

of Colmonell, Ayrshire, Scotland?

Check out the 4-generation register report below!

globe1.gif (8431 bytes)   Although much of this web site is about McWh*rter family research in North America the McWh*rter "clan" has spread from Scotland all over the globe.

This section is devoted to information on McWh*rter family research "back" in Scotland as well as research being done on McWh*rter families in Ireland,   England,   Australia,   New Zealand   and elsewhere.

Contributions of information for posting from those researching their families outside of North America is most welcome here.

Information on Scotland is contained on several pages. On the current page  you will find three articles reprinted from the McWh*rter Genealogy Newsletter. Most researchers able to trace their McWh*rter origins back to Scotland find their roots somewhere in Ayrshire!

The McWhirter Family of Blairquhan Castle, Straiton

Journey Back to Colmonell

The Kirkyard at Colmonell (Gravestone Inscriptions)


On the SCOTTISH RECORDS - PAGE 1 you will find birth, death, marriage, and christening records from various parts of Scotland that may help you with your research. Now included:


McWh*rter births/christenings

Dumfrieshire and Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland,
extracted from the parish records by Marcel Safier of Australia
(and reprinted here with his permission).

McWhirter Gravestone Inscriptions
from the
Kirkyard at Barr, Ayrshire, Scotland
(courtesy of Douglas A. McWhirter of Toronto, Canada)

McWhirter Marriages
from the Parishes of Ayrshire, Scotland

including the the parishes of
Auchinleck, Ayr, Ballantrae, Barr by Girvan, Colmonell, Dailly, Dalmellington, Dunlop, Girvan, Irvine, Kilmarnock, Kirkmichael, Kirkoswald, Loudoun, Mauchkine, Maybole, Muirkirk, New Cumnock, Ochiltree, Riccarton, St. Quivox/Newton, Sorn, Stair, Stevenston, Straiton and Tarbolton.


On the SCOTTISH RECORDS - PAGE 2 you will find reprints of articles from the McWh*rter Genealogy Newsletter containing
McWh*rter Birth, Christening & Marriage records
from the Old Parish Registers

from earliest times to 1800.


On the SCOTTISH FAMILIES page you will find register reports and other charts of various McWh*rter families including:

A register report listing four (4) generations of McWhirters
descended from
John McWhirter (b. cir 1750)
and Jean Sloan of Colmonell, Ayrshire, Scotland
John was my great great great great grandfather!

1714map.jpg (28352 bytes)     Scotland

The McWh*rter Database contains information
on over 200 presently unconnected McWh*rter lines in Scotland.
Many, if not most, of these lines are linked,
but I don't presently know the connections.
Several articles on McWh*rter research in Scotland,
first published in the McWh*rter Genealogy Newsletter,
are offered below.

For a map of the counties of Scotland visit
click on the map below!

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The McWhirter Family of Blairquhan Castle



Extract from " Famous Scottish Houses" Published circa 1920"


Reprinted from the McWh*rter Genealogy Newsletter
Volume 4, Issue 4 (November 2000)

The following text was reformatted by John McWhirter, Dundee, Scotland in December 1999 following a visit to Blairquhan Castle, Straiton, Scotland earlier that year. The original text was presented to him by the present laird of Blairquhan Castle, James Hunter-Blair whose generosity is acknowledged.


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STRAITON is only a little, quaint, and quiet village, with that charm which is to be found in out-of-the-way places. It has a church with all the characteristic ugliness of the buildings of the Scottish Reformation, but redeemed from complete condemnation by a pre-Reformation east end. And less than two miles from the village is the delightful house, Blairquhan pronounced ‘Blair’ whon," with the accent on the second syllable, as nearly as spelling will indicate - a real modern castle, with a bit of the ancient castle embodied in it.

Blairquhan is finely situated on the banks of the River Girvan, the house being on the left bank and the river flowing through the grounds. The main frontage faces the south, with the ground rising from the front, and falling from the back of the house to the river, which winds its course for about four miles before it leaves the demesne. The avenue is entered by a handsome bridge and lodge, and is conducted along the river-bank a distance of nearly three miles before it arrives at the house. This gives the visitor a most pleasing impression. As the avenue draws near the house it passes under a row of lime-trees, old and lofty and dark.

The present house was built about the year 1820 by Sir David Hunter-Blair, Baronet, who was Deputy-Lieutenant and Convener of the County of Ayr; and the architect was William Burn, of Edinburgh. The former house was an irregular building of large extent, a great part of it erected in the reign of Mary Queen of Scots, about the year 1570. It was a total ruin at the time when it was taken down to make room for the present edifice, the only part which had withstood the ravages of time being a square tower of great strength and thickness, the "McQuirter Tower." Doubtless it was the original keep, erected for defence, and surviving when the additions which had been made for comfort had crumbled into pieces. The name of the tower was a record that the family of McQuirter had been connected in very early days with Blairquhan.

The front of the present house measures about 160 feet in line. A handsome porch stands out 24 feet in front of the line. At the east end is a series of low buildings surrounding the kitchen courtyard, and containing a part of the old house which was rebuilt. Its most interesting feature is the beautifully arched old gateway, with a finely carved coat-of-arms above it. The inscription on the court gate contains the motto In Domino confido, and the statement, "At this tyme is Jone Kenedy Lard of Blarquhain, and Margret Keith his vyfe in the year of. ……." (probably about 1570).

The main entrance-hall, known as "The Saloon," is about 60 feet in height. A beautiful staircase rises from it, dividing at a half-landing, and continued as two staircases to a gallery from which passages communicate with all parts of the house, and upon which open various rooms.

The billiard-room opens from the left of the saloon; a little further on we come to the drawing-room on the left; and a wide doorway connects billiard-room and drawing-room, the former looking out to the south and the latter to the north and west. On the opposite side of the saloon are the dining-room and the library, running towards the east end of the house, which communicates with the ancient buildings.

As viewed on the south front the building is two storeys in height, but the slope down to the river on the north side gives another storey there. A rustic bridge where the River Girvan presents the appearance of a quiet pool makes a typical sylvan scene.

Of the families which have held Blairquhan, four are well known by name—MacWhirter, Kennedy, Whitefoord, and Hunter-Blair. An interesting tale tells of the passing of the estate from the MacWhirters and is the theme of a poem. Put in ordinary prose, it is written in a paper dated January 20, 1820, which was prepared for Sir David Hunter-Blair of that day.

The document reads: "Regnault Macwhurter, the last of the old race of the Macwhurters of Blairquhan, had twin daughters, one of whom was married to Sir Ulrich Macwhurter, who had been long in the service of the French king, and had been knighted by that prince for some valorous action. The other was joined in wedlock to a son of John, second Lord Kennedy, by his second wife Elizabeth Gordon, daughter of the Earl of Huntly. Upon the death of old Macwhurter these two gentlemen claimed the barony of Blairquhan, each for himself on account, as both said, of his lady having been born first. As this circumstance could not by any means be determined, a bloody foray would in all probability have ensued had not the relations on each side prevailed upon them to submit their claims to the King, James III who, although very young, had the character of being a wise and just prince.

"After much hesitation and many a stipulation they both agreed to do so, and for that purpose proceeded to Edinburgh; but how to decide impartially a question where both parties seemed to have an equal right His Majesty was for some time at a loss to know. At last he came to the resolution that one of them should walk and the other ride from Edinburgh to Blairquhan, and he who should first kindle a fire in the castle should keep possession, not only of it, but likewise of all the land appertaining thereto; and to make the chance equal they were to draw each a straw out of a stack, and he who should pull the longest should ride. This fell to young Kennedy, who was consequently considered by many as having already gained the estate; but others, who knew Sir Ulrich’s great strength and unbending resolution, were of a contrary opinion.

"There being no public road at that time from Edinburgh direct to Blairquhan, each took the route which fancy pointed out as being the straightest. Sir Ulrich was attended by many of the relations of young Kennedy on horseback, who were deputed by the King to see him perform his journey in the manner prescribed. Young Kennedy was not accompanied by any person, as none would undertake to ride as fast as he was likely to do; but he was preceded by His Majesty and a few nobles who wished to be at Blairquhan before either of the sticklers for the estate should arrive, in order that they might act as stewards of the race."

"But just as the King was going to cross the water of Girvan near Straiton, from that circumstance called the King’s Hill to this day, he observed a great smoke suddenly arise from the highest chimney of the castle of Blairquhan, and being certain it could not be Kennedy that had raised it, as he was at that moment still a few yards in the rear of His Majesty’s company, he exclaimed, ‘My kingdom to a bodle that yon reek is raised either by the de’il or by his ain bairn, Ulrich Macwhurter."

This is only about half of the account. Macwhurter obtained the award, but became such a terror to the neighbourhood that in course of time means were taken to get rid of him, and young Kennedy then came into the estate. The story is open to criticism but may be true, although it is known that John Kennedy was in possession in 1444, while James III reigned between 1460 and 1488.

The estate passed to the Whitefoords in 1623, by a legal process which the Kennedys resisted, keeping possession for many years against the law. The Whitefoords held until Sir John was ruined by his connection with the Douglas and Heron Bank, after which the curators of Sir David Hunter-Blair bought the property about the end of the seventeenth century. The present laird is Captain Edward Hunter-Blair, R.N. He retired from the Royal Navy in 1898, but rejoined in 1914 and served at the naval centres of intelligence during the war, at Invergordon, Sheerness, and Greenock. The baronet is his elder brother Sir David Oswald Hunter-Blair, formerly Abbot of the Benedictine Monastery at Fort Augustus. The family is descended from the Hunters of Hunterston and the Blairs of Dunskey, and through the latter family, also from the Kennedys who held Blairquhan long ago. "



The above text was reformatted by John McWhirter, Dundee, Scotland in December 1999 following a visit to Blairquhan Castle, Straiton, Scotland earlier that year. The original text was presented to him by the present laird of Blairquhan Castle, James Hunter-Blair whose generosity is acknowledged.

John McWhirter, Dundee, Scotland


Journey Back to Colmonell

Reprinted from the McWh*rter Genealogy Newsletter
Volume 1, Issue 1 (February 1997)

In the County of Ayrshire, Scotland, about 23 miles south of the City of Ayr and three miles inland from the coast, lies a little village called Colmonell. No relative of mine ever mentioned Colmonell and I had never heard of the village until the day in 1976 when my wife, Barbara, and I used a delayed honeymoon in Scotland to do some genealogy searching.

I located the birth record of my grandfather James McWhirter [db#332] in the coastal town of Girvan located about 17 miles south of Ayr. That record revealed that his parents, Alexander [db#322] and Sarah (ms Hamilton) McWhirter [db#328] had been married by a Duncan Davies, minister of the Free Church of Colmonell. Girvan is found on most maps of Scotland, but only a local map of Ayrshire and the assistance of the Registrar of the Town of Girvan could get me to Colmonell.

77.JPG (89851 bytes)Colmonell nestles in the valley of the Stinchar River behind a range of hills that rise directly from the Irish sea to a height of almost 900 feet.

When we reached the crest of the hills, we felt ourselves being transported back in time hundreds of years. When we stood with the narrow paved road at our back the panorama revealed nothing that identified the landscape as belonging to the 20th century.

No paved roads, telephone lines, smokestacks, industries, automobiles or television antennas were visible as far as our eyes could see. We only saw rolling hills, dotted everywhere with sheep and broken stone dikes (walls), and scattered ruins of ancient towers that resembled lighthouses more than castles.

As we drove, the peace and aura of an earlier time descended upon us much as the mists descended upon two American travelers approaching the village of Brigadoon in the Broadway musical of the same name.

My grandfather had removed with his parents from Girvan to Paisley when just an infant. James trained to become a stonemason like his father . He married Helen Robertson McKellar [db#343] in Paisley, Scotland on 17-Jun-1910 and sailed with her for America a week later. They made the journey from Glasgow to Boston, Massachusetts aboard the S.S. Parisian arriving in America on 3-Jul-1910. It was not until fifty years later, on the occasion of his golden wedding anniversary, that James set foot in Scotland again.

Now here I was, more than a dozen years after his death, entering the village of his parents. The whitewashed cottage walls on the single village lane did not seem to recognize any homecoming. However, since then, the village and the valley of the Stinchar River have become an inseparable part of my being.

62.JPG (56752 bytes)My initial visit to Colmonell was a short one, merely long enough to take a quick look about the village and realize that the name McWhirter was a common one among the gravestones in the village kirkyard. It was the first place I had ever been in my life where McWhirter was a "common" name. Our visit and exploration was cut short by the lateness of the day and the realization that we had a journey back to Paisley ahead of us. But I would have tarried longer had I realized that it would be seventeen years (and two children) later that I would have the chance to explore the graveyard more closely.

It was August of 1993 that Barbara, myself, and our sons Jason and Justin went back to Scotland. At the first opportunity Barbara and I left the kids to their own devices (with second cousins still living in Paisley) and set off for Girvan and Colmonell once again. This time we reached Colmonell by travelling up river from the mouth of the Stinchar at Ballantrae. The journey from Ballantrae covers a distance of five miles along a single lane road that makes passing an oncoming car something of an adventure.

81.JPG (61591 bytes)On this visit Barbara and I undertook a more thorough search of the gravestones about the kirkyard. In particular I was looking for those of Margaret (ms Campbell) McWhirter [db#321] my grandfather’s grandmother, and her infant daughter Margaret [db#5164] who were buried in the kirkyard according to their death certificates which I had located at Register House in Edinburgh. We found no stones commemorating the life of either, suggesting that there are likely more McWhirters buried in the kirkyard than gravestones can recall.

Despite not finding what we came looking for, Barbara and I systematically covered the entire kirkyard recording gravestone inscriptions of all the McWhirters mentioned there. Many of the gravestones were of course quite worn and some inscriptions were indecipherable in places.

Among the oldest of the kirkyard’s gravestones was one which read - "This is the place where lyes the last of William McWhirtor [db#13179] and Janet McGill [db#13180] his spouse who died both in the year 1682 John McWhirtor [db#13181] their son who …[illegible]." On the back of the same gravestone was the following - "Here lyes the corps of Andrew McUirtor [db#13182] who died August 2 1675…[illegible]."

I will raise this issue in a later article, but I strongly believe that the McWh*rter surname originated in the southwest part of Scotland, perhaps within the winding glens of the valley of the Stinchar River.

The surname traveled across the narrow sea to the north of Ireland in the early 1600s when Scot settlers were encouraged by the English crown to displace the native Irish. About a hundred years later many McWh*rters removed from the north of Ireland for the promises of the American frontier. Other McWh*rters removed directly from Scotland to America leaving behind their homes in Colmonell, Ballantrae and Wigton.

In future issues of this newsletter I will report in detail the gravestones that Barbara and I found on our visit to Colmonell as well as those that we found at the town of Ballantrae five miles down river. Perhaps the information recorded there will unlock a secret or two for others.

The Kirkyard at Colmonell

Reprinted from the McWh*rter Genealogy Newsletter
Volume 1, Issue 2 (May 1997)

In the County of Ayrshire, Scotland, five miles up the Stinchar River from the coastal town of Ballantrae, lies the village of Colmonell. The Kirk there is surrounded by gravestones commemorating over 300 years of the inhabitants of Colmonell. Common among the surnames of persons buried there is that of MCWHIRTER.

80.JPG (78226 bytes)The oldest gravestone in the kirkyard which bears the surname is that of Andrew McUirtor [db#13182] whose date of death is recorded as 1675. After more than 320 years the name and the date are still quite visible on the marker. On the opposite side of the marker are recorded the deaths of William McWhirtor [db#13179] and Janet McGill [db#13180] "his wife" who both died in 1682. Immediately next to the gravestone of Andrew, William and Janet is one which indicates "Wm Mc 1758" and also "Here lies the Corps of Gilbert McUirtor". Other gravestones bearing the surname McWhirter continue through to the first half of the twentieth century.

A number of North American McWh*rter families have Colmonell connections. Gravestone inscriptions found at Colmonell bearing the McWh*rter surname are reported here in the hopes that they will prove of value to some McWh*rter researchers and of interest to others.

#1 (front)

"This is the place
where lyes the L
ast of William
McWhirtor and JA
NET McGill His spouse
who died both in
the year 1682 JO
their son who..."

#1 (back)

"Here lyes
the corps of
Andrew McUhir
tor who died
August 2 1675..."


"Wm Mc 1758
Here lies the
Corps of Gilbe
rt McUirtor"


"In Memory of
John McWhirter
who died at Redbun
18th Nov 1840
aged 71
also his wife
Elizabeth McConnachie
who died 13th April
1839 aged 55
their son Thomas
who died Heathgot_
Victoria. Australia
27th Jan 1868
aged 47 years
their dater Mary
died at Re_burr
March 1894
aged 82 years"


"In Memory of
James McWhirter
who died 20th August 1872
aged 63 years
also his daughter Agnes
died 20th October 1873 aged 15 years
also his wife
Agnes Carswell
died 7th Jany 1874 aged 62 years
also James McWhirter
who died at 7 Cochino St.
21st Oct. 1918, aged 43 years
Janet Gray Kerr McWhirter
who died at
7 Cochino St., Clydebank
29th Jan. 1931, aged 85 years"


"In loving memory of
Robert McWhirter
Late Farmer Ballaird
Who died at Craigbrae 11th Jan 1901
Aged 83 years
Also of Margaret Milroy his wife
who died at Craigbrae
25th May, 1903 aged 82 years
Also of Janet McMillan,
beloved wife of John McWhirter,
who died at Glasgow, 25th May 1910
aged 49 years
Also the above John McWhirter
Who died at Ballaird
10th August 1910 aged 54 years"


"Erected by William McWhirter
in memory of his beloved wife
Annie Nelson Shaw who died
12th August 1900 aged 46 years
the above William McWhirter
died 14th July 1909 aged 55 years.
Their children Annie died
17th Nov. 1915 aged 24 years
Robin died 3rd Nov. 191(6)
Aged 28 years"


"Erected by
Jane McWhirter
in loving remembrance
of her dear husband
Thomas Guthrie
Who died at Kirkholm Farm, Ballantrae
13th March 1899 aged 46 years
Also his wife
Jane McWhirter
Died at Glenturk Wigtown
9th March 1937 aged 85 years"


"This is the burial place of
Hugh Galaway in Braidsain
who died 24th May 1802 aged 85
Also, Jeannet McWhirter his Wife
who died 27th July 1777 aged 56,
also Hugh Galaway their son
who died 13th Jan 1801 aged 50 Also
James Galaway their son who died
29th July 1818 aged 70 Also
Elizabeth Grange his wife who
died 10th Oct. 18(3)5 aged 83. and
Hugh Gallaway their son who
died 8th Jun 1853 Aged 68"


"Erected by
Mary McClymont
In Memory of her Father
John McClymont
who died in Feb 18(3)1
Aged (8)1 years
Helen McWhirter, his spouse
who died 12 March 1837
aged 88 years
And of their children
John, Gilbert, Hugh and (Danniel) [or Jannet]
And her husb J......
McClure who died...
Mary McClymont who died ....1861 aged 8(6) years"


"Sacred to the memory of
Gilbert Milroy Late Farmer in
Drumskeogh, who died 18th December
1869 Aged 72 years.
His wife Margaret Doak Died in
And his wife Janet McWhirter
died in 1883
His son Gilbert Farmer, Lochend
Died at Barrhill 31st of Aug 1914
Aged 87 years
his wife Agnes Howan
died 5th Octr 1914
aged 81 years..."


By The Family
in Memory of their Father
Robert Fulton
who died at Stonebridge, Barrhill
On 5th October, 1899, aged 84 years
their Mother
Elizabeth McWhirter
died at Stonebridge, Barrhill, 15th March 1900
aged 89 years
Elizabeth Fulton
their daughter; died aged 1 year
Alexander Paterson
died; aged 39 years
their brother
Robert Fulton
died 7th May 1921, aged 76 years"


Erected in Memory of
David Ferguson
who died at Muirhead ....
10th Feb 1876 Aged 68 years
Also his wife
Ann Kelly
who died 3rd May 1911
Aged 88 years
also their great grandson
Janes Davidson
who was drowned in Stinchar
12th April 1908, aged 3 1/2 years
David McWhirter
husband of Agnes Ferguson
died 21st Jan 1921
aged 72 years
also Agnes Ferguson
wife of David McWhirter
who died 19th Dec. 1924
aged 77 years"

Since the date of the original publication of this article two (2) other "McWhirter" gravestone inscriptions have been reported as being recorded from this kirkyard.
(Thanks to Douglas A. McWhirter of Toronto, Canada)


Erected by John and Andrew McWhirter in memory of their father Andrew McWhirter who died Aug.28, 1758. Also Martha McCluer his spouse who died Aug. 4th, 1794



Erected by James McWhirter in memory of his sister Jane McWhirter who died 3 Oct., 1844 aged 50. Also John McWhirter his son who died 1 May, 1855 aged 14. Archibald D. McWhirter died 10 Jan., 1856 aged 1 year. Also Robert McWhirter died 13 Jan., 1870 aged 32 years. Janet died 28, Feb. 1920 aged 88


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New Zealand

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