Presbytery of Ayr 1581 - 1981

In 1981 the Presbytery of Ayr marked their Quater Centenary with a number of events. A service was held at St John's Tower with Dr Andrew Herron as preacher, an exhibition was mounted in the Carnegie Library – and a history of the Presbytery was written.

The writing of the history was tackled in best Presbyterian tradition - a committee was set up. Four Presbytery members were appointed, under the expert guidance of Alastair Hendry.
The decision was taken not to write a simple chronological account but rather to present the story of the Presbytery and its work topically, under headings such as “Buildings and Stipends”, “ A School in Every Parish”, “Social Conditions”, “The Wider Outlook” and so on. The section on “the Wider Outlook” contains the comments of the Presbytery on events as diverse as the Jacobite Rebellions, the African Slave Trade, Women’s Suffrage, and both World Wars. Among the many topics , considerable space is necessarily given to Ministers, their training and their oversight.

The various topics were shared out among the researchers and their findings were then checked and put together by the full group.
The primary source of information was the Minutes of the Presbytery. The oldest surviving Minute dates back to 1642 and there is a nothing for the years between 1651 and 1687. In other words, there are gaps in the records. And the records themselves presented a few problems. The early Minutes were hand written and, with unfamiliar spelling and grammar and varying calligraphy , they are sometimes very difficult to read .
It’s nice to record that the work was completed on time, a genuine team effort.
The pages reflect the changes that have taken place in the Church and throughout society, the evolving role of the Presbytery, and the underlying hopes and concerns that remain unchanged.

Rev. James Crichton Ma BD MTH
Presbytery Clerk (1990 - 2010)