1. GALT FAMILY of Ayrshire: 1683–1768

Parishes of Kilwinning, Kilmaurs, Dreghorn and Beith

by Alan Craig

Robyn’s mother was a descendant of a long line of Galts, a family that originated in Northern Ayrshire, largely in and around the Kilwinning Parish. By 1820, this line had migrated to the melting pot of Glasgow where they began to coalesce with two other main branches of the family: (i) the Barr-McColl line, who originated, respectively, on the Hebridean islands of Islay and Mull; and (ii) the Littlejohn-Steedman families who emanated from Perthshire and Kinross-shire in Scotland’s central east.  The early Galt family was a hybrid that included three other paternal lines: Love, Walker and Cunningham. In 1818, the Howie-Jack family was added to the melange, and it was then that this family headed north to Glasgow.

N.B. — All of Robyn’s direct ancestors are marked in purple. All blue text [inside brackets] represents additional information or corrections, and did not form part of the original documents. Copies of the original birth, death, marriage and census records are held by me and stored in the Cloud, and can be made available to interested parties.

John [1] Galt and Margaret Murchland


The earliest record we have in the Galt line was the baptism of Margaret Murchland in 1683 in the Kilwinning Parish:

1683 SCOTLAND O.P.R. BAPTISMS: Parish of Kilwinning, Ayrshire 1Source: MURCHLAND, Margaret; 1683 Scotland O.P.R. Births; 599/ 10 42; Kilwinning, Ayrshire.

[January 24th] 1683
Mgt Murchland Lall da-
ughter to Archibald Murch-
land & Janet Holmes bap-
tized eodem

In this very old record, the word “eodem” is short for “eadem die”, a latin term that means “on the same day” — the previous records were for “January 24th”, so that applies to Margaret’s baptism. We have found no record for the marriage of  her parents, Archibald Murchland and Janet Holmes, and we know nothing else about them; but, we did find she had at least one sister, called Janet, who was born in 1688, also at Kilwinning.

The village seems to have evolved from a church founded in the early seventh century by a shadowy Saint Winning, who may actually have been the more famous Saint Ninian, a missionary to the Picts. The town was founded on the banks of the River Garnock, North Ayrshire, and an abbey was built there in the 12th century. Interestingly, the town also housed the original Lodge of Freemasonry from about 1600.

When Margaret married in 1699, however, she was living in Kilmaurs Parish, about 10 km (6 miles) south-east of Kilwinning. She married a man from her previous parish, with the banns being recorded in Kilwinning, and the marriage in Kilmaurs:

1699 SCOTLAND O.P.R. BAPTISMS: Parish of Kilwinning, Ayrshire 2Source: GALT, John [1] & MURCHLAND, Margaret; 1699 Scotland O.P.R. Marriages; 599/ 10 348 ; Kilwinning, Ayrshire.

John [1] Galt in ye parish and Margaret
Murchland in Kilmares [Kilmaurs] were booked
October 19th & after orderly proclamation married

1699 SCOTLAND O.P.R. MARRIAGES: Parish of Kilmaurs, Ayrshire 3Source: GALT, John [1] & MURCHLAND, Margaret; 1699 Scotland O.P.R. Marriages; 599/ 10 368; Kilmaurs, Ayrshire.

John [1] Galt and Margaret Murchland were married
upon Thursday the 8 of November 1699

Given her birth date and a marriage date, we can do the maths, and discover that Margaret was not yet 17 when she tied the knot — actually 16 years, 9 months, and 15 days (her sister Janet was just short of 20 when she married James Laughland in 1708). However, our groom,  John [1] Galt, becomes the first recorded person with that surname in our family.

We have only found three baptisms for children of John [1] and Margaret: William (1703); Hugh (1705); and John [2] in 1708; it seems probable there were more, but infant mortality was high in those days. All of these children were born in the town of Kilmaurs, and John [2]’s baptism was recorded in the same entry as another child (greyed out):

1708 SCOTLAND O.P.R. BAPTISMS: Parish of Kilmaurs, Ayrshire 4Source: GALT, John [2]; 1708 Scotland O.P.R. Births; 598/ 10 33; Kilmaurs, Ayrshire.

John [2] Galt son to John [1] Galt & Margaret Murchland in town of Kilmaurs &
John Smith son to Marlow Smith & Marjory Lane yr were baptised
Ferbr. 15 1708

John [2] Galt & Mary Walker


Nearly two years before Margaret Murchland and John [1] Galt were married, another marriage was taking place in Kilmarnock, just 3 km (2 miles) south of Kilmaurs:

1697 SCOTLAND O.P.R. MARRIAGES: Parish of Kilmarnock, Ayrshire 5Source: WAKER [Walker], Thomas & MUCKLE, Katharin; 1697 Scotland O.P.R. Marriages; 597/ 50 22; Kilmarnock, Ayrshire.

Imprimis Thomas Waker Bonnetmaker in Kilmarnock and
Katharin Muckle also inhabitant in this Parish, declared yr
purpose of marriage on friday the 19th, by inrolling yr names to
be publicly proclaimed for the first diet on Sabbath the 21th of
Novbr 1697. Before yr Witnesses James Adam and John Waker, and
fore the more security of yr Banns Matrimonial they consigned
10 Merks of penaltie […] and [retained] for Kirk dues And were
proclaimed for the first diet on the aforesaid Sabbath the 7[?]. And
for the 2d diet on the Sabbath the 28th of Nover 97 and for the 3d
and last diet on Sabbath the 5th of Decer 97 And were married
on Munday the 13th of Decer 1697. In the kirk of Kilmarnock
Mr. Hew Thomson Minr and rector for aforesaid and getting up 8th
Merks of penaltie on Saturnday the fourteenth of January 1699
As witness [for] Receipt of them by the said Thomas Walker day &
place aforesaid Conform to this

Well, that was certainly a mouthful! But, ignoring the 17th-century spelling, the odd error and a few indecipherable words, this entry records marriage banns over three successive Sundays and a marriage for Thomas Walker and Katharin Muckle. He was a ‘bonnet maker’, must have been reasonably prosperous to have such a loquacious entry in the parish records, and having a “penaltie” (fee) of 10 + 8 merks for the marriage was a measure of his standing. A ‘merk’ was a Scottish 17th-century silver coin worth about a shilling in sterling — so 18 merks was £1 sterling.

Over the next nine years, Thomas and Katharine had at least six children, the first dying young: Jean (i) (1699); Jean (ii) (1700); John (1702); Mary (1704); Thomas (1707); and William (1706). All of these were registered in the Kilmarnock Parish records, but the one that concerns us was Mary:

1704 SCOTLAND O.P.R. BAPTISMS: Parish of Kilmarnock, Ayrshire 6Source: WALKER, Mary; 1704 Scotland O.P.R. Births; 597/ 10 292; Kilmarnock, Ayrshire.

Imprimus Thomas Walker Bonnetmaker in Kilmarnock
and Katharin Muckle his lawful married wife had yr
third Daughter brought forth on Thurs-day’s night betwixt ten
and Eleven of the Hour the 2d, and baptised Mary on
Thursday forenoon the 9th of March 1704. In the kirk of Kil-
marnock by Mr. William Wright Colleague and Minr. yr. Witnesses
John Walker and Andrew [Boyle] Bonnetmakers yr.

“Imprimus” just means this was the first entry in the parish register for that date (9 March 1704). Nothing much else is known of this family until about 1730. Around that time, we can assume that Mary Walker was to marry John [2] Galt (above), because they had a ‘lawfull’ child in 1730 at Dreghorn (about 8 km / 5.5 miles west of Kilmarnock). However, no record of that marriage has been found, and Gabriel is the only child of theirs we have discovered:

1740 SCOTLAND O.P.R. BAPTISMS: Parish of Dreghorn, Ayrshire 7Source: GALT, Gabriel [1]; 1730 Scotland O.P.R. Births; 598/ 1 67; Dreghorn, Ayrshire.

Gabriel [1] Galt son lawll to John [2] Galt & Mary Walker
in the Parish of Dreghorn Baptized 23 of August

This ‘Gabriel Galt’ was the first of at least 13 of that name to be found in Robyn’s family tree — and four of them were direct ancestors! No doubt you’ll be completely confused by this as we progress, so to make it easier to follow, I give each of them a number to distinguish one from another. We start here with Gabriel [1] Galt, and can round off his ancestor’s story with the deaths of his grandparents:

1740 SCOTLAND O.P.R. DEATHS: Parish of Kilmarnock, Ayrshire 8Source: WALKER, Thomas; 1740 Scotland O.P.R. Deaths; 597/ 60 419; Kilmarnock, Ayrshire.

January 1740
Thursday | 3 | Thomas Walker Bonnetmaker | disease: Age | 73

1741 SCOTLAND O.P.R. DEATHS: Parish of Kilmarnock, Ayrshire 9Source: WALKER, Katharine [Muckle]; 1741 Scotland O.P.R. Deaths; 597/ 60 423; Kilmarnock, Ayrshire.

March 1741
Sabbath | 22 | Katharine Muckle Relict of Thomas Walker Bonnetmaker | disease: Age | 70

It was rare for deaths to be recorded in those days, so Thomas and Katherine must have been townsfolk of consequence in the village of Kilmarnock, and that is all we know of this family. However, in 1761, Gabriel [1] Galt was to marry into another line, and we have a new branch to investigate.


Further to the north-east of Ayrshire, in the parish of Beith, we can trace back to the birth of Robyn’s 7g-grandmother in 1675:

1675 SCOTLAND O.P.R. BAPTISMS: Parish of Beith, Ayrshire 10Source: ANDERSON, Margaret; 1675 Scotland O.P.R. Births; 581/ 10 33; Beith, Ayrshire.

             Decemb: 26
Margaret lawfull daughter to Wm
Anderson in Netherhouse of Gree
was baptized.

Unusually for Kirk records, the mother’s name is omitted, and no search has revealed any more about William Anderson (8g-grandfather), We only found Margaret’s birth because we could trace back from her only known child:

1692 SCOTLAND O.P.R. BAPTISMS: Parish of Beith, Ayrshire 11Source: LOVE, Gawen [Gavin]; 1692 Scotland O.P.R. Births; 581/ 10 77; Beith, Ayrshire.

              Anno 1692
Gavin Love Lawll son to Robert Love
& Margaret Anderson in Willowyards was born Apr [?]
& bapt. Aprile 27 before the [Parish] Congregation

At least here we had the mother’s name, and we can add another name to the 7g-grandfather’s list: Robert Love — however, no record has been found for his marriage to Margaret Anderson, and no other children of theirs discovered. Willowyard can be found on our north-east Ayrshire map, and is about 5 km (3 miles) north-west of the Netherhouse of Gree. However, Gavin Love had moved south to the town of Kilwinning when he married in 1728:

1728 SCOTLAND O.P.R. MARRIAGES: Parish of Kilwinning, Ayrshire 12Source: LOVE, Gavin & CRAWFORD, Margaret; 1728 Scotland O.P.R. Marriages; 599/ 30 3; Kilwinning, Ayrshire.

The Reverend Mr Alexander Fergusson
MDCCxxviii Anno Domini 1728

Gavin Love and Margaret Crawford both in this
parish gave in their Names on Saturday July 13th. and
after orderly proclamation were Married on Thursday August 15th

We have found nothing more about Margaret Crawford, but this couple had at least seven children between 1729 and 1742: Joseph (i) (1729); Susan (1731); Robert (1743); Jean (1735); Margaret (1737); Mary (1740); and Joseph (ii) (1742).  All of these children were born in the “Town of Kilwinning”, with the first two specifically at “Bridgend”, which is on the opposite side of the River Garnock from the main town centre.

1735 SCOTLAND O.P.R. BAPTISMS: Parish of Kilwinning, Ayrshire 13Source: LOVE, Jean; 1735 Scotland O.P.R. Births; 599/ 20 49; Kilwinning, Ayrshire.

Mr Alexander Fergusson Minister
March 1735

Jean daughter to Gavin Love and Margaret Crawford in Town
of Kilwinning was born on Saturday morning March 1st. and
Baptised on Sabbath March 9th.

And that brings us back to Gabriel [1] Galt:

1761 SCOTLAND O.P.R. MARRIAGES: Parish of Dreghorn, Ayrshire 14Source: GALT, Gaberiall [1] & LOVE, Jean; 1761 Scotland O.P.R. Marriages; 589/ 10 201; Dreghorn, Ayrshire.

Gabereall [1] Galt and Jean Love both in this
parish hath given up their names for pro:
: clamation in order to marriage July 31st. 1761

They certainly mucked up the spelling of ‘Gabriel’ in this record, but that wouldn’t be for the last time. Anyway, Gabriel  [1] and Jean went on to have at least 11 children in the next 22 years: Jean (1762); John (1764); Ninian (1766); Agnes (i) (1768); Gabriel [2] (1769); Margaret (1771); James (1773); Elizabeth (1776); William (1778); Ann (1781); and Agnes (ii) (1783). All of these were recorded as being born at a place called “Park”, “Park House”, or “Parkhouse”, in the Parish of Dreghorn, but I have been unable to locate that on any of the old maps.  

As you will already have worked out, the next in our direct line was Gabriel [2] Galt, and his birth was recorded in two parishes:

1769 SCOTLAND O.P.R. BAPTISMS: Parish of Kilmaurs, Ayrshire 15Source: GALT, Gabriel [2]; 1769 Scotland O.P.R. Births; 598/ 10 167 Kilmaurs, Ayrshire.

May 1769
Gabriel [1] Galt & Jean Love in Park-house in
Dreghorn Parish had a Lawful son born
25th and baptized the 30th of the said month
1769 by the name of – – – – – Gabriel.

1769 SCOTLAND O.P.R. BAPTISMS: Parish of Dreghorn, Ayrshire 16Source: GALT, Gabriel [2]; 1769 Scotland O.P.R. Births; 598/ 10 60; Dreghorn, Ayrshire.

July 1769
Gabriel [1] Galt and Jean Love in Parkhouse had a
Lawful Son baptized at Kilmaurs July 27th 1769
called Gabriel.

Dreghorn and Kilmaurs parishes are adjacent to each other (see the map), but all his siblings only had a Dreghorn baptism, so why two for Gabriel [2] ? However, as usual, the next thing we find out about the family is when he married.

Gabriel [2] Galt & Margaret Cunningham

In 1791, Gabriel [2] hitched himself to a 23-year-old lass from the neighbouring parish of Irvine, and their banns and marriage were recorded in both parishes:

1791 SCOTLAND O.P.R. MARRIAGES: Parish of Kilwinning, Ayrshire 17Source: GALT, Gabriel [2] & CUNNINGHAM, Margaret; 1791 O.P.R. Marriages; 599/ 30 101; Kilwinning, Ayrshire.

      Mr. Thomas Pollock Minister
Gabriel [2] Galt in this parish & Margt. Cunning:
ham in the parish of Irvine gave in their
names on Saturday 1st. Octr. & were Married
on Tuesday 18th. Octr.

1791 SCOTLAND O.P.R. MARRIAGES: Parish of Irvine, Ayrshire 18Source: GALT, Gabriel [2] & CUNNINGHAM, Margaret; 1791 O.P.R. Marriages; 595/ 30 66; Irvine, Ayrshire.

                                  Marriages Anno 1791
Octr. | 18 | Gabriel [2] Galt parish of Kilwinning &
                     and Margaret Cunningham of this parish

Knowing Margaret Cunninghams’s name, we were able to find this birth in the Irvine Parish:

1768 SCOTLAND O.P.R. BAPTISMS: Parish of Irvine, Ayrshire 19Source: CUNINGHAM, Margaret; 1768 Scotland O.P.R. Births; 595/ 10 209; Irvine, Ayrshire.

26 Margaret Daur. to John Cuningham and Margt. Thomp-son

We haven’t found a marriage or reliable baptisms for Margaret’s parents. There are three ‘Margaret Thomson’ baptisms I have found that seem to fit time- and place-wise, but we have no way of validating any of them. However, by searching the old parish records, we did discover that this couple had at least five children: John (1757); Mary (1759); James (1762); William (1764); and our Margaret (1768). This is all we know of the Cunningham-Thompson family, except that some related trees have the son John becoming a Colonel in the British Army, and marrying a Mary Steens in 1785 in Ambore, Madras, India. I will need to investigate this further, but John is said to have died in 1825 at Madras, and his wife in 1834 at Fort William, Bengal. 

Margaret and Gabriel [2], however, were to have at least six children between 1792 and 1808: John (1792, at Irvine); Jean (1793, at Doura); Gabriel [3] (1795, at Doura); Mary “Catherine” (1799, at Fergushill); David (1805, at Doura); and Antony (1808, at Doura). With these children, our story begins to move into the modern age with statutory BDMs and decennial censuses from 1841. So, here’s a quick summery of what we know of those children:

John Galt (1792–1860) — was a master machine maker and blacksmith. He married Helen Frew at Kilwinning in 1812, and they had seven children, the first born at Doura in 1812, and the rest in Glasgow between 1818 and 1830 (of course, one boy was named ‘Gabriel’!). We haven’t been able to find this family in the census records, but Helen died aged 66 in 1858, and John followed in 1860, at 68 — they both died at 95 Water Street, Port Dundas, and both are buried in the Galt family grave at Sighthill Cemetery, Glasgow.

Jean Galt (1793–1857) — married Allan McCrae, a weaver, in 1815 at Newton-on-Ayr, and they had six children (yes, including a ‘Gabriel’!). Little is known of this family, but Jean died at Newton-on-Ayr of apoplexy and pneumonia in 1857, and her husband followed in 1864.

Gabriel [3] Galt (1795–1847) — is Robyn’s 3g-grandfather, and his story is told on a separate page. Briefly, though, he married Margaret Howie in 1818 at Kilwinning, and had nine children (with an obligatory ‘Gabriel ’) between 1818 and 1838.  Just like his brother John (above), his first child was born in Doura, and the remainder in Glasgow. Gabriel [3] died in 1847, leaving Margaret a widow for over 46 years; both are buried in the family plot at Sighthill Cemetery.

Mary “Catherine” Galt (1799–1881) — has a slightly puzzling story. Robyn has two DNA connections to her descendants, but though baptised as “Mary”, seems to have called herself “Catherine” or “Katherine” thereafter. She married John Haddow, a coal miner, at Kilwinning and had six children between 1821 and 1840 (you don’t need to ask, one was a “Gabriel Galt”!).  John died sometime before 1855, and ‘Catherine’ was living at Corsehill, on the outskirts of Kilwinning town, when she died in 1881, aged 81.

David Galt (1805–1888) — never married but lived till he was 82.  He died at Rover Cottage in Kilwinning, and his death certificate notes him as an “engine keeper”. He died of pneumonia, and the informant was his nephew, Gabriel Galt Haddow.

Antony (Anthony) Galt (1808–1875) — had what seems a boys name, and she married John Morton in 1835 at Kilwinning. We only know of three children (but no ‘Gabriel’!), and was living in Troon, Ayrshire, in 1851. It’s not known when they emigrated, but Anthony died in Toronto, Canada, in 1875, aged 67. We have no record of her husband’s demise.

So that takes us to the next chapter in the ‘Galt’ story, where we will explore the Howie-Jack family. 

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1. Galt of Ayrshire: 1683–1768 — 2 Comments

  1. You have in your tree an Ann Galt born 1781. You have her married in 1795 to William Calderwood. This would make her 14years of age at marriage!!!! I have her married in 1803 at 21 years of age with a son with the christian name of Gabriel amongst her family.

    • Hi June.

      Many thanks for that. The Calderwood marriage comes from another researcher in the family some years ago, and I have always doubted it. “Galt” is my wife’s side of the family, and I have been meaning to re-check some of that earlier research. I’ve been doing a good deal on the Galt family lately with new connections in Brazil and South Africa, so now is a good time for me to update that Ann Galt marriage.
      So many of this Galt family passed on the name “Gabriel” (I have 15 in my tree) — and this is, as you infer, a very good clue to identify the correct line. I presume you have her marriage to Robert Dunlop on 15 Apr 1803 at Dreghorn?

      Many thanks,

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