William Auld & Ann Walker
William Auld was born in Auchinleck, East Ayrshire, Scotland on 18 May 1817. His father was David Auld, who was a farmer at Knaigshill Farm and his mother was Agnes Baird. Presumably William spent his early years on the farm which is now a Dairy Farm.
Ann Walker was born in Auchinleck, East Ayrshire, Scotland, also in 1817. Her father was Colin Walker, the local Colliery Manager and her mother was Mary Duff. They are recorded as living at 9 Coal Road, Auchinleck.
Knaigshill Farm where William would have spent his childhood is located just to the west of Auchinleck and near Auchinleck House.
Much of the information I have about this family came from the headstone to William Auld’s grave in Auchinleck churchyard. The headstone had been split in two, but East Ayrshire Council kindly sent a cemetery worker to show us the location of the grave, or the ‘lair’ as a grave is known in Scotland, and he kindly lifted the stones, so that we could take a photograph of the inscription.
It was from this information that we obtained the information about William’s father, and also several other members of his family.
Shown circled red on the map is Knaigshill Farm. Auchinleck is to the right of the map.
The wooded area to the top left is Auchinleck House, the home of Sir James Boswell, who wrote “Boswell’s Life of Johnson”.
The wooded area to the bottom right is Dumfries House, owned by King Charles III and currently undergoing extensive renovation.
Headstone of William Auld’s Father
The headstone is now broken into two halves, but the inscription is shown above. It was lifted for us by the kind co-operation of East Ayrshire Council.
The bottom half of the headstone. The full monumental inscription on this stone has been transcribed above.
William Auld and Ann Walker were married at Cumnock on the 18 March 1842. The transcription from the Old Parochial Register reads as follows: “William Auld, of this parish and Ann Walker of the parish of Monkland were married at Cumnock 18th March 1842 by the Rev James Chrystal after having been thrice proclaimed the two sabbaths preceding”.
Rev James Chrystal seems to have been a stalwart of the Parish of Auchinleck. Not only did he marry William Auld and Ann Walker, but he baptized their daughter Janet Auld and also married their daughter Janet to James Brown.
Rev James Chrystal was a remarkable man. He grew up in Glasgow and after qualifying to preach he was presented to the congregation of Auchinleck by Sir James Boswell in 1833. He served as the minister for Auchinleck from 1833 to 1893, some 60 years.
In 1879 he succeeded The Very Reverend John Tulloch as Moderator of the General Assembly the highest position within the Church of Scotland.
The nearby village of Mauchline became a centre for the making of wooden boxes. Initially these would have been snuff boxes, but their reputation grew and they soon started making novelty boxes for the tourist trade which would be adorned with a transfer of a tourist resort and were sold all across the UK. At it’s peak in 1860 the industry employed over 400 people. It is now referred to by the generic name of “Mauchline Ware”
William Auld, who describes his occupation as a snuff box maker, would certainly have been involved in the manufacture of these boxes, presumably working from home as a small cottage industry.
Auchinleck is in the heart of the ancient Kyle district of Scotland. The placename means “field of (flat) stones” in Scottish Gaelic, from achadh (‘field’) and leac (‘slab’). The small locality of Auchincloich has a comparable meaning.
Although record of a community exists from as early as 1239, reliable records can really only be said to date from the arrival of the Boswell family in 1504. The barony of Auchinleck had been forfeited to the crown and was granted by King James IV to his “good and faithful servant” Thomas Boswell.
The Boswells proved to be assiduous in their estate husbandry, and by the early 1700s a viable village community and a thriving estate had begun to emerge from the surrounding barren moorland. The New Statistical Account of 1837 documents early mining and quarrying in the area which was to become the impetus for the region to boom. By 1881 the parish population had blossomed and was 6,681, four times what it had been in 1831.
Death of William Auld
William Auld died of epilepsy at the age of 59 on 17 October 1876. He is buried in the same grave as his wife in Auchinleck churchyard.
Ann lived on for nearly twenty years after the death of her husband. In later census returns her occupation is shown as toll keeper. I presume this to mean that she collected the tolls from traffic travelling on the turnpike between Dumfries and Kilmarnock.
On the 24 July 1895, she died of senile decay and angina pectoris. She is buried in the same grave as her husband.
My aunt, Janet McCann who lived in Glasgow, and who was familiar with the Kilmarnock branch of our family used to tell us that we were ‘related to’ Johnnie Walker of the Kilmarnock Whisky Distillery. Most of the anecdotes she told us have proved to have a basis in fact, but I have struggled to establish the connection between my great great grandmother Ann Walker and the Whisky Magnate, Johnnie Walker.