1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cumnock and Holmhead

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CUMNOCK AND HOLMHEAD, a police burgh of Ayrshire, Scotland, on the Lugar, 33¾ m. S. of Glasgow by road, with two stations (Cumnock and Old Cumnock) on the Glasgow & South-Western railway. Pop. (1901) 3088. It lies in the parish of Old Cumnock (pop. 5144), and is a thriving town, with a town hall, cottage hospital, public library and an athenaeum. Coal and ironstone are extensively mined in the neighbourhood, and the manufactures include woollens, tweeds, agricultural implements and pottery. When Alexander Peden (1626–1686), the persecuted Covenanter, died, he was buried in the Boswell aisle of Auchinleck church; but his corpse was borne thence with every indignity by a company of dragoons to the foot of the gallows at Cumnock, where they intended to hang it in chains. This proving to be impracticable they buried it at the gallows-foot. After the Revolution the inhabitants out of respect for the “Prophet’s” memory abandoned their then burying-ground and turned the old place of execution into the present cemetery. Five miles S.E. lies the parish of New Cumnock (pop. 5367) at the confluence of Afton Water and the Nith. It is rich in minerals, iron, coal, limestone and freestone, and has a station on the Glasgow & South-Western railway. Two miles N.W. of Cumnock is Auchinleck (pronounced Affleck), with a station on the Glasgow & South-Western railway. Coal and iron mining and farming are important industries. It is the seat of the Boswell family, three generations of which achieved greatness—Lord Auchinleck, the judge (who dubbed Dr Johnson “Ursa Major”), his son James, the biographer, and his grandson Sir Alexander, the author of “Gude nicht and joy be wi’ you a’,” “Jenny’s Bawbee,” “Jenny dang the weaver,” and other songs and poems, who perished miserably in a duel. Pop. of Auchinleck parish (1901) 6605.