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The History of Auchincruive

Located in the parish of St Quivox, Ayrshire, Auchincruive is part of the ancient seat of the Cathcarts. Richard Oswald, a merchant from London and a commissioner in Paris for peace negotiations with the Americans. bought the estate in 1764. After his death in 1784, his widow (nee Mary Ramsay) remained at Auchincruive. She died in London in 1788 and was buried beside her husband at St Quivox. Auchincruive then passed to their son, Richard Alexander Oswald, a government contractor during the American War.

More recently, Auchincruive is part of an estate gifted to the Secretary of State by John Hannah of Girvan Mains. It became the home of the Scottish Agricultural College and the Hannah Research Institute is named in his honour.

The main building on the estate is Auchincruive House or Oswald Hall. Some of the interiors were designed by Robert Adam. Adam also designed Oswald's Temple in 1778, a summerhouse or folly to the North of the estate.

From the view at the top of the Three Green Knights Trail several other of the estates buildings can be seen including the impressive home farm, Gibbsyard built around 1780. The book Ayrshire and Arran An Illustrated Architectural Guide by Rob Close is a good companion to take with you on your journey as it comments on significant buildings old and new in almost every town and village throughout Ayrshire and Arran.

William Wallace and Auchincruive

William Wallace, the celebrated Scots freedom fighter, may have been born at Ellerslie, Riccarton, near Kilmarnock although there is some debate over the location. As well as the acclaimed battles he was forever getting into skirmishes with the English soldiers.

In April 1292 Wallace was fishing at Irvine Water when some soldiers demanded his catch. A fight ensued during which Wallace disarmed a soldier with his fishing rod and then used the discarded sword to kill the soldier. Four other soldiers then attacked Wallace who fought back killing one and injuring the other soldiers. Wallace's uncle, Sir Richard Wallace of Riccarton, sent Wallace to the safety of another relative, Wallace of Auchincruive, to hide until the situation had settled down. He concealed William Wallace in Leglen Wood.

This site proved a useful hiding place for Wallace as he returned here after several skirmishes with the English. There is a monument to both Wallace and Burns at a spot immediately on the right after crossing Oswald's Bridge heading south. This is where Robert Burns sought inspiration for his tribute "Scots Wha Hae".

Scots, wha hae wi Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to victorie!

To learn more about William Wallace you may want to read up on his life and adventures. There are several good books available including: William Wallace.

Oswald and Burns

Lucy Oswald, the wife of Richard A. Oswald of Auchincruive, was a celebrated beauty. Burns wrote 'O Wat Ye Wha's in Yon Town' for Jean Lorimer, but, with the name 'Jean' changed to 'Lucy', sent it instead to Lucy Oswald, 'that incomparable woman' as he called her, in May 1795.

Lucy Oswald composed the air 'Captain Cork's Death', to which Burns's song 'Thou lingering star with lessening ray' was set.

You can read more about this and other Burns ventures in Ayrshire in the book The Ayrshire Book of Burns Lore.