By the Water of Girvan
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| By Fergusson, Sir James|
| ISBN 9781845300050|
| Paperback 200 pages|
| Published 15 August 2005|
| UK Price £12.95|
| US Price $19.95|
Sir James Fergusson used to maintain that for anyone lucky enough to live in the Girvan valley the only joy of travel must be the pleasure of coming home. That deep affection, made so plain in the first chapter, written in 1938, was no doubt magnified by five years' absence during the war, and later by his twenty years as Keeper of the Records of Scotland, when he necessarily spent four days and nights of most weeks in Edinburgh.
This anthology, mainly culled from Lowland Lairds, The White Hind and The Man Behind Macbeth, brings together those essays which deal more or less directly with the Girvan valley - the parts of it, at any rate, which demanded an historian's attention or awoke his curiosity. It is in no sense a full story of the valley: the principal estates lying on or near the river, like their people, make their appearance simply as the narratives dictate - Trochrague, Penkill, Killochan, Bargany, Dalquharran, Kilkerran, Kirkbride, Blairquhan.
'Fugitive pieces' include an Ayrshire wine-merchant's letter book, which, like the study of the plague in Ayr, deserves its tenuous place in a book about the valley if only because, to all who lived nearby, wine shipped into the port of Ayr was of as critical interest as the pestilence - at a time when whisky was seldom drunk outside the Highlands and smugglers supplied brandy at overwhelmingly competitive prices.
Sir James Fergusson of Kilkerran 8th Bart, LLD FRSE, 1904-1973, was Keeper of the Records of Scotland 1949-69, Lord Lieutenant of Ayrshire, a member of the Royal Commission on Historic Manuscripts, a trustee of the Scottish National Galleries, Chairman of the Burns Monument Trust, etc etc.