McWhirter – Second generation

Gilbert McWhirter

b. 13 Apr 1786, Merkland Farm, Kirkmichael, Ayrshire.,[10] 18 Apr 1786, Colmonell,[11] occupation Sheep farmer/shepherd, m. Anne Logan, b. 28 Feb 1785, (daughter of Gilbert Logan and Jean Richard) d. 15 Jan 1864, Colmonell, Ayrshire. [12]  Gilbert died before 1861.[13]

JGMW writes

Gilbert McWhirter was my great grandfather. He was born on 13-4-1786 in the farm of Merkland between Kirkmichael and Crosshill in Ayrshire. He lived for some time in the parish of Colmonell, Ayrshire and I believe he was in the farm of Knockbreck which now seems to be included in the farm of Glenour on the Water of Tig (a tributary of the River Stinchar). I once visited Knockbreck with my father when I was a boy. The shepherds were working with their sheep in the rees when I was there.  Gilbert McWhirter married Ann Logan (J1) and they had nine children (JGMW p.12)

RWPMW writes

By the time that Father visited Knockbreck Gilbert would be dead. Presumably there was no member of the family living there by that time or father would have mentioned it. Note that Gilbert and all his siblings were Christened at Colmonell so it is possible that their father John was at the farm of Knockbreck before him. (RWPMW 1999May 28)

Merkland is marked on modern OS maps about three quarters of a mile south of Kirkmichael. I see from my grandfather’s sketch map (DOC No. 90) that he has marked a farm called Knockbrake that lies on the burn draining Kirkie Loch into the Water of Tig. It does not appear on the 1:50,000 OS map 76 (1996) although there is a ruin marked at 187830 on the 1:25000 OS pathfinder map 513 which may be all that remains of it. However Glenour is marked as it is on DOC No. 90 as Glenowyr. Both are marked, as Knockbreck and Glenowyr, on the  map of ‘The South part of Carrick’ which is part of Blaeu’s ‘Atlas of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland’ (1645/64) and which I inherited from my father – a photocopy of this is filed as DOC. No. 91.  On this the Kirkie Loch is called Loch Knockbreck. (I found a copy of this map in the Bodelean Library, This Bodelean copy is clearer than the one I have despite it being a photocopy of the original.)  (RWPMW 1999 Jan 11)

One morning Gavin and I set off from Milton for Colmonell with the intention of first looking in to see Fiona Tait who had been so good in helping me with information about Knockbrake and then to head off into the moors to see if we could find the place. One of the most useful things she did was to put me in touch with Mr McCubbin* who knew Knockbrake and described it as sitting on top of a hillock on the side of the stream flowing into the Water if Tig. Fiona and her husband were very welcoming and we sat with them for probably half an hour talking when  we established that she did not have any McWhirter ancestors that she knew of but that she was very willing to be helpful in furthering our own researches. Gavin and I then set off passing Bardrochat and the road end to Auchenclery to find a parking place where the track divides between Reuchal and Kilrenzie. From there we walked to Kilrenzie where we were met by the young woman living there and of whom we had been told by Fiona. She directed us through her property towards the Tig. We skirted round the hill on our left to see infront of us a small hillock with a couple of trees on top which I identified, on the basis of the information I had had from Mr McCubbin, as our objective. To get there was quite a problem as we had to cross a bog into which we sank up our knees (Gavin to his thighs at one point). But we eventually got through and up to the top of the hillock to find a fair number of walls still standing. I made a sketch as best I could in the mist measuring distances by pacing. The grid reference of the place is 187830 on the 1:25,000 Pathfinder map 513 (NX 08/18). It was in a marvellous situation but of course was very much a ruin. It had consisted of a cottage with adjoining buildings for animals. The whole was in a single line running east and west and facing north with enclosed plots, presumably garden, on the south side. The buildings were about 50 metres long from end to end. There were a couple of out buildings one of which was probably the loo. A couple of trees, one an ash,  were growing in the middle of it. We ate our picnic before returning to the car by way of the Drunskeoch road passing the farm of Reuchal on our left. This was much easier than our approach. Before returning to Milton we visited Ballantrae to pay our respects to the graves in the cemetery; my grand parents and my aunt Jenny and her husband. We were home in time for tea at 16:00. (RWPMW 31 Aug 1999/7 Jan 2000).

Once I got home from Scotland I wrote a letter to Billy McCubbin who had been very helpful in our quest for Knockbrake to thank him and tell him of our success. His reply which I got on 7 Jan 2000 reads as follows:

‘I was glad that you found Knockbreck; ‘Knockbrake’ by older locals. The bog which you wemt through was formerly known as Loch Knockbrake. The name Knockbrake means something like the small round hill near the ancient settlement. There is or was an old village about ½mile away on the Glanour hill and also the remains of a stone circle a mile away on the same hill. My feeling is that there was an early fort on the site of the farm before the farm buildings were ever built. In that case the meaning might mean; the small round hill of fortification near the ancient settlement. Further to the south there are the remains of about 6 – 8 summer sheilings where they would take the sheep to in the summertime so it is a very interesting area. I hope this is of some help.’ (RWPMW 7 Jan 2000).


Anne Logan was born on 28 Feb 1785 and married Gilbert McWhirter (JGMW B2/6). She died from pleuro-pneumonia on 15 Jan 1864 at Colmonell at the recorded age of 78 years. (JGMW pp.95 and 96 and DOC.85)


i      Margaret b. circa Nov 1813.

ii     John b. 7 Mar 1819.

iii    Gilbert McWhirter. Gilbert lived in Birmingham and also in Corngreaves in the County of Stafford at the time of his mother’s death on 15 Jan 1864. (JGMW pp.13 and 14).

iv    William McWhirter. William lived in Birmingham.(JGMW p.14).

          v     Martha b. circa 1825.

vi    Jean.

vii   Annie McWhirter b. circa 1830-34,[14] m. ?? Jun 1846, in Ballantrae, Ayrshire., James Agnew, occupation Shpherd.  Annie died 29 Aug 1887.[15]  Annie McWhirter born in 1830, 33 or 34 in Colmonell Parish. She married James Agnew who was a shepherd. They lived at Garleffin a hamlet about a mile south of Ballantrae. JGMW did not know much about them although he occasionally met some of the grandchildren at Garleffin. She died from carcinoma on 29 Aug 1887 at Garleffin (i.e. The Slate Raw), Ballantrae at the recorded age of 57. (JGMW pp.19 and 20).

viii  Mary McWhirter b. circa 1855.[16]  JGMW writes Mary was my father’s Aunt Mary. She came to stay with us in Ballantrae on one occasion. My mother and I went with her to the farm of Garphar where we as a family were frequent visitors – about 2 miles east of Ballantrae. Mr William Murray was the farmer. His sister Miss Murray kept house for him and she was kindness itself. On the occasion of this particular visit Miss Murray was serving tea to Aunt Mary, my mother and me. Something was said about eggs which I apparently misunderstood for nobody was having an egg for tea. But I chirped up with ‘ Well if you are having an egg I’ll have one too’. Consternation!! Aunt Mary thought I was the worst boy possible but what did Miss Murray do? She dashed off to the kitchen and boiled an egg for me. In the McWhirter family I don’t think I have ever lived that one down. Aunt Mary was never married. (JGMW p.20).

ix    Helen McWhirter b. circa 1870,7  d. circa 1875.

Detail on the next (third) generation here.

[10] Birth registered at Girvan, Ayrshire. No.594, Vol.2.

[11] Richard Pettit’s Baptism file

[12] Record 582/2 from JW’s letter of 5 October 1982

[13] This date from Jean Webster’s print out of her database

[14] JGMW p.19

[15] Record 579/14

[16] Jean Webster’s print out DOC.92