Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     The author of numerous reference books about the Scots and the Scots-Irish, David Dobson has gained a reputation as an authority on their descendants in the New World and in various European countries. Constantly delving into a wide assortment of materials, he continues to extract information that may otherwise remain indefinitely hidden. No wonder genealogists look forward to new additions to his series pertaining to the inhabitants of Scottish towns and cities in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His most recent volume is THE PEOPLE OF THE SCOTTISH BURGHS, A GENEALOGICAL SOURCE BOOK: THE PEOPLE OF AYR, 1600-1799.

     Founded in 1205, Ayr was initially a small village located around a royal castle. By the seventeenth century, it had grown into an important market town and a leading port on the west coast of Scotland. In fact, Ayr had shipping connections to England, Ireland, France, and Spain, as far back as the medieval period, and to the West Indies and the American Thirteen Colonies, from the mid-seventeenth century onward. When substantial numbers of Scots (later known as Scots-Irish) sailed to settle in Ireland, much of the sea traffic left from the port of Ayr.

     Utilizing his usual format, Dobson arranges the names of individuals alphabetically. For every person, he furnishes a date and the source of his information. Supplementary details about each man or woman vary. Facts may range from occupation and date of birth or death to the name of ship on which he or she sailed and the name or names of parents, spouse, and/or children. Many of the men were burgesses—usually merchants or craftsmen who controlled much of the social and economic life of the community.

     Because burgesses were elite members of urban society, more facts can often be found about them. For instance, Gilbert MCCLURE, born in 1736 in Ayr, “was admitted as a burgess and guilds-brother of Ayr in 1763, by right of his wife, Jean, daughter of John BOWIE, a weaver burgess and guilds-brother of Ayr.” Later Gilbert was a merchant in Falmouth, Maine, during the years 1769-1775; a Loyalist in 1776; and a merchant in Ayr, after his return to Scotland.

     Some of the short entries are especially interesting. John WALLACE from Ayr, for example, was “a member of the Scots Charitable Society of Boston in 1700.” In 1599, Janet YOUNG was executed as a witch in Ayr.

     As part of the title implies, this book is designed to serve as an aid for genealogists and local historians. Like Dobson’s earlier publications, the volume does not claim to be exhaustive for the period under study. Instead, it attempts to showcase some of the town’s residents and illustrate the types of records available for the era. Because Ayr was such an important link between Scotland and the settlement of Ulster in the seventeenth century, it also played a prominent background role in the subsequent emigration of the Scots-Irish to the New World in the eighteenth century. Since the work contains the names of between 1,500 and 2,000 inhabitants, THE PEOPLE OF THE SCOTTISH BURGHS, A GENEALOGICAL SOURCE BOOK: THE PEOPLE OF AYR, 1600-1799 will make a valuable addition to genealogical library collections.

     The 104-page publication has soft covers, a brief introduction, an illustration, a list of references and their abbreviations used in the book, a glossary, and samples of documents. To the book's price of $16.95, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.50 for one book and $2.50 for each additional copy; for FedEx ground service, the cost is $7.50 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume (item order 8112) may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211-1953. For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

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