Church at Kilmaurs, Ayrshire


Mother Church of the Secession in Ayrshire

From "The Kirk at Kilmaurs" by the Rev. Donald Patience, retired minister at Kilmaurs.

[p. 2] Chalmers in his "Caledonia" tells us that the ancient church at Kilmaurs was dedicated to St. Maure, a Scottish saint who is said to have died in 899. This female saint was commemorated on 2nd November. It is argued by others that the name was Mawers, or Mauris, thus making the saint to whom the church is dedicated masculine...the name Kilmaurs is derived from the Gaelic word cille meaning a church, or a cell, and the person to whom it was dedicated, whether Maura or Mauris.

[p. 3] A charter of the monastery at Kelso indicates that the church at Kilmaurs, and its revenues, were in their possession in 1170. In 1245 a charter of the monks at Kelso, confirmed by William, Bishop of Glasgow, conveyed the church to the Prior of Lesmahagow, a vassal of Kelso.

The Cunninghame family had a close connection with Kilmaurs before the end of the 12th c. later in the 15th c. they were responsible for the endowment of the church. The date of the endowment, according to Paterson's "History of Ayrshire..Ayrshire Families", is 13 May 1413. Sir William Cunninghame granted the mortified lands "for celebration in the parish church at Kilmaurs, for the safety of my own soul, and of my parents...etc."

(There is a parallel set of ministers [the non-Secessionists presumably] who headed the Glencairn Church during the incumbancy of the Secessionist ministers listed below. Of note are:


There is a remote possibility that my family ties in with all of these men in one way or another. More research on family ties is required.

Other names of note:

[p. 15] The congregation at Kilmaurs is called St. Maurs-Glencairn, and Glencairn is derived from the Glencairn Church of Scotland. Most of the story of that church, and a fascinating one it is, has been told in a booklet compiled by the Rev. Alexander S. Borrowman and Mr. Robert Richmond, and published at the time of the bicentenary of the church in 1940. The secessionist congregation, which began with the Rev. David Smyton, was the mother-church of the Secession of Ayrshire. As time passed, places in Ayrshire formerly under the jurisdiction of Smyton, set themselves up as independent bodies. The list of disjunctions makes interesting reading: