Old Parish Records of the parish of New Cumnock
The original parish of Cumnock was sub-divided into the two new parishes of Old Cumnock and New Cumnock in 1650. In 1659 the new church to serve the parish of New Cumnock was erected adjacent to the site of Cumnock Castle. It was a time of national turmoil, the closing year of Cromwell's Commonwealth followed swiftly by the Restoration of Charles II, in 1660. Two years later several hundred ministers were ejected from their churches in Scotland for refusing to conform to Episcopalianism. Included in this number was Hew Crawford, the first minister of the parish of New Cumnock . Like many of his fellow ministers he was soon illegal leading open-air church meetings, known as Conventicles, in the hills and valleys of his new parish. In essence the church continued to function and the outed minsiters continued with their duties including baptisms, weddings and funerals baptisms.
It was during this period that we find the first reference to a baptism record of sorts in the parish of New Cumnock. In 1684, parishioners of Old Cumnock and New Cumnock were subject to interrogation and obliged to declare on oath any knowledge they had of Covenanting activity within the parishes. The names of a number of parishioners were recorded for having 'ane childe unbaptised', i.e. for not having their children baptised within the Episcopalian Church. Intriguingly there are also records of five baptisms that had taken place at a conventicle at Braehead, a few miles to the west of Crawford's abandoned church.
John Grier of Achengee 'a childe baptised at Brehied',
John Slowan 'two children baptised at the conventicle at Braie Head'
John Vallence 'fugative, two children baptised at the conventicle at Braie Head'
The date of the conventicle is not given, it may have been one of Hugh Crawford's last conventicles since he was banished from the kingdom 'for keeping conventicles and for other disorders' on the 1st May 1683. It would be 1688, the year of the Glorious Revolutiom before he could return to the parish. But even then it is unclear of the role of the church at New Cumnock. For in 1667, the Earl of Dumfries, the leading heritor in the parishes of Old Cumnock and New Cumnock had the decision to split the parish of Cumnock into these two parishes annulled. Effectively, the original parish church of Cumnock was reinstated to serve the original parish of Cumnock. The Earl's annullment was overturned in 1691 and the parishes of Old Cumnock and New Cumnock were once again operating independently of one another, and have so ever since. Hugh Crawford died in 1692, having spent less than half of his 40 years of ministry within the walls of the church of New Cumnock.
Five years would pass before James Gilchrist was appointed as the next minister of New Cumnock, and four years later he moved on to Dunscore, Dumfriesshire. In 1706, the Reverend Thomas Hunter filled the vacant post, a post he would hold for an astonishing 51 years. It was during his ministry that the records of baptisms in the parish of New Cumnock began
The first six years of baptism records spanning 1706 - 1711 are tabulated in the following pages.
OLD PARISH RECORDS
© Robert Guthrie
OLD PARISH RECORDS