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Ballantrae Church History

On the restoration of Presbyterianism in 1690 Thomas Kennedy became Minister and it is from his Session that we have our earliest records. Hamilton Kennedy succeeded in 1731. He was Laird of Bennane.

William Donaldson, who came from Blackford in Perthshire, was ordained and inducted in 1771. His family was, for a long time, associated with the Parish. He married Elizabeth, a daughter of John Allan of Kilphin. His son John succeeded to Kilphin and purchased Auchairne from Sir H. D. Hamilton of Bargany and Ardstinchar in 1816. Mr Donaldson wrote the "Old Statistical Account of the Parish" in 1791.He died in 1814. Two silver salvers and a silver goblet, which had been gifted to Mr. Donaldson, were presented to the Minister and Kirk Session by his daughter.

The present Parish Church of Ballantrae was built in 1819, but, strange to relate, no opening ceremony is recorded. It is a dignified building with corbie-stepped gables and steep roof, being the old Scottish type of architecture not uncommon in smaller towns. The clock tower was added in 1891. The inside of the Church has a bright and pleasing appearance a notable feature being the Regency pulpit. It was completely redecorated in 1960. The vestry was enlarged in 1961 and the heating improved in 1962, all gifts of a generous member of the congregation.

On the west wall of the Church there are two stained glass windows in memory of the father and mother of Mr George Oliver, who was proprietor of Laggan.
On the south wall there is another stained glass window in memory of the Reverend Fergus Williamson who was minister of the Parish for 38 years He died in 1913. He was a man of considerable character, and among the older residents in the village he is still remembered with affection, One of the stories about him was that when visiting the sick, he often advocated "a drop of the Old Kirk" which he produced from a bottle in his coat-tails

Some of the Ministers had a remarkably long tenure of office. Thomas Kennedy, appointed in1690 was succeeded 41years later by Hamilton Kennedy and he, after another long interval of 40 years, was succeeded by William Donaldson. The last mentioned was Minister from 1771 until 1814 a long and eventful period of 43 years, during which the United States severed their connection with Britain; the first settlers of our race landed in Australia; Europe was convulsed by the French Revolution and Napoleon, a child two years of age when Mr Donaldson was inducted to Ballantrae, had run his meteoric career and had suffered final defeat at Waterloo in 1815, the year following the last year of Mr Donaldson’s pastorate.

The Kennedy aisle consists of a chamber seventeen feet long and fifteen feet broad; in it there is a monument consisting of a raised stone tablet on which are the recumbent figures of the Laird and his Lady. Overhead is an ornamental stone canopy, supported by pillars and decorated with the Bargany coat of arms and other ornamentation, now much effaced. In various places are carved the initials of the Laird and his Lady, G.K. and J.S. (Gilbert Kennedy and Janet Stewart). Underneath the monument is the family vault, where other members of the Bargany family have been laid to rest.

On the west side of the Bargany aisle is the roofless ruin of a somewhat similar chamber. On the north face of this above a door leading to the interior is an inscription, of which little remains legible except the initials T.F., a coat of arms. H.M and the date 1620.The word "Finnarts" can also be made out. Thomas Fergussone obtained the lands of Finnarts from the Kennedy family shortly after the year 1609, and the name of his wife was Helen Mure. This is evidently their last resting place. The Fergussone family intermarried on several occasions with the Kenredy family and in 1796 the last Fergussone of Finnarts died unmarried, leaving his estate to his nephew David Kennedy of Bennane. He added the name of Fergussone to his own. This family parted with their lands early in the present century, and has since died out. (This Family line probably still exist) Further information can be found at http://www.kennedydna.com/kennedy_one_name_study.htm

Plan of Aisle of Kennedy tomb

On the outside wall of the Kennedy tomb is an inscription with the words "The aisle contains a burial place of the family of Bargany and Ardstinchar, Chief of name of Kennedy, and a monument raised over the remains of Gilbert the 16th Baron, who was slain in a feudal conflict with his cousin the Earl of Cassillis at Maybole in 1601 at the early age of 25. On which occasion, when overpowered by numbers, Bargany displayed the most consummate bravery. The epitaph having been defaced the representative of the family, Hew F Kenedy now of Bennane, mindful of their virtues, has considered if his duty to erect this tablet to the memory of his ancestors."

Before her her death in 1605 Lady Bargany had petitioned the Privy Council to have the new Church recognised as the Parish Church. This was done in 1617, by Act of Parliament, and the name of the Parish was changed from Kirkcudbright - Innertig to Ballantrae . This name is derived from the Gaelic "Baile – na- traigh", the town on the shore.



Ballantrae Charity Number: SC008536 ----------------------- St Colmon Charity Number SC014381