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Places of Interest about Girvan
Bargany House


THE ancient lairds of Bargany and Ardstinchar were the Kennedys, relatives and rivals of the Cassillis family who dwelt at Dunure. But the Bargany lairds were lavish of their money, and got latterly so encumbered with debt that their large possessions had to be sold. They were bought about the year 1625 by Sir John Hamilton, natural son of the first Marquis of Hamilton, who afterwards received the title of Lord Bargany. It was the second Lord Bargany who built the present Mansion-House in 1681. He was a staunch Covenanter, and suffered severely in purse thereby. He had a son, John, the Master of Bargany, who died before his father. James, 4th Lord Bargany, died unmarried at Edinburgh, in the 26th year of his age, and was buried in Holyrood Abbey.

A great law-plea now arose for the possession of the estate, which was ultimately decided in the House of Lords in favour of the heirs of Johanna, daughter of the Master of Bargany above mentioned. This lady had married Sir Robert Dalrymple of North Berwick, and her second son accordingly took the name and arms of Hamilton of Bargahy. The most noted of his successors was Sir Hew Dalrymple Hamilton of North Berwick and Bargany, who was elected M.P. for Ayrshire in 1803, and again in 1806. He married Jane, eldest daughter of Admiral Duncan of Camperdown, and had one daughter, who married the Due de Coigny; and their daughter in turn married the Earl of Stair, who is now proprietor.

The house itself, as may be guessed, is somewhat old fashioned, although its beautiful surroundings make up for a good many drawbacks. There are not so many portraits within it as one could have wished to see. The oldest appears to be that of the young Master of Bargany, whose daughter succeeded to the estates. I should have liked better to have seen a portrait of his father, the Covenanter, who built the house, and did something for his country. There are also good portraits of Sir Hew, the M.P., and of Lady Jane, his wife. The latter seems to have been a bit of a character, and is represented as Britannia in a well-known engraving. Her father, the Admiral, flourishes largely also on the walls. But the portrait which pleased me best was a full-length one of the late Duchess de Coigny, which is quiet and sensible-looking, as a lady of her station and responsibility should be. Strange to say, there is no portrait of "the old Duke" at Bargany, whom I remember seeing in Maybole, wrapped in his blue French cloak, acting as one of the pall-bearers at the late Provost Kennedy of Ayr's funeral. The old Castle of the Kennedys stood in front of the present Bargany House, and the last remaining tower of it was removed about the beginning of this century. The present House has, of course, its "haunted room," although its occupant is considerately quiet in these enlightened days.


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