bank, st. brydesbank

Place-name:Bank, St. Brydesbank
Suggested Meaning :St. Brigid’s Bank
First element:dedication to ‘St. Brigid of Kildare’
Second element:bank, embankment
Blaeu Coila (1654):Brydsbanck
OS Name Books (1855-57):No Entry
Location:Blaeu Coila Provincia
Earlier Forms
Sanctisbridisbank (1562) [1], Sanct Brydis Bankis (1580), St. Brydsbank (1633,1657), Brydsbanck (1654), Bank (1679)

1st element: Personal Name St. Bride, Brigid

The early form of St. Brydesbank indicates a dedication to St. Bride, better known as St. Brigid of Kildare, one of the patron saints of Ireland. There are many dedications to her throughout Scotland, several of which take the form of Kilbride or Kirkbride. Closer to home is St. Bride’s Church in the neighbouring parish of Sanquhar and St. Bride’s Well in the parish of Coylton.

Bryds Burn

Also shown on the Blaeu Coila Provincia in the parish of New Cumnock is Bryds Burn close to the boundary with the parish of Kirkconnel. This may also be a St. Bride’s dedication and its location at the boundary of the ‘church of St. Connel‘, may be siginificant.

James B. Johnston in his ‘Place-Names of Scotland’ uses the presence of St. Bride’s Bank to support his suggestion that the place-name Cumnock is derived from Gaelic cuman ‘shrine’.

It should be noted that the patron saint of the original parish of Cumnock is St. Conval.

Map 1 Brydsbanck| Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

In following the fortunes (or misfortunes) of a branch of the Gemmill fanily in the 17th century the name St. Brydesbank is observed to undergo the transformation from St. Brydsbanck to Bank.

In 1633 Margaret Campbell, the widow of Patrick Gemmell and their son John Gemmill are in St. Brydesbank. John Gemmill’s name then appears in the Sasine Records of 1657 along with that of his son Patrick. During the late 17th century, Sir George Campbell of Cessnock, a leading Covenanter, owned many lands in the parish of New Cumnock including St. Brydesbank. He would later forfeit these lands (temporarily) for encouraging his tenants, including “John Gemmill in Bank, and Patrick Gemmill” to join the Covenanting rebellion against the Government forces in July 1679 at the Battles of Drumclog and Bothwell Bridge. The following year John Gemmill was killed at the Battle of Airdsmoss and when parishioners of New Cumnock were interrogated in 1684 the following testimony –

‘William Craufurd in Brockloch, present, upon oath, of the age of 40 yeires or therby, maried, depones that he adds onlie to the roll givne up be the minister anent the persones whoe frequents not the ordinances the following persones, viz. Hew McRea in Bank, his wyff and familie, John McRea their and his familie. Depones that the said John and Hew MCreas have ilk ane of them ane child unbaptised; depones he knowes ane Joanet McMichall in Bank, a fugatives relict, whose husband was killed att Airs Mosse; (Signed) Willem Crafourd  

2nd element: bank ‘bank, slope’

The name St. Brydesbank and Brydsbanck dissappear from later records and the shortened name of Bank became established.

In the late 18th century the lands of Bank, Blackcraig and Dunside were inherited by the Hyslop family. Although attempts to establish the New Cumnock Iron Works at Bank in the mid 19th century failed the Bank Coal Company (and its successors), formed in 1860, became a major force in developing the New Cumnock Coalfield through until 1947 when the industry was nationalised. New homes were required to house the ironworkers at Craigbank just to the south west of the Hyslop’s grand Bank House.

Map 2 Bank, Bankglen| Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

The Ordnance Survey Name Books (1855-57) entry from the Bank read –

Craigbank: Six rows of well built cottages erected by the Nithsdale Iron Co. for the accommodation of their work people, they are now chiefly untenanted,owing to the Iron Works being idle.

Bank Glen Inn: A large two Story house, on the road from Cumnock to Dalmellington. It was an Inn at the time the Iron Works were in operation, but still bears the name, although a private dwelling It belongs to the Trustees of Whitfield Watson

Bank Cottages: A row of Cottages on the public road, from New Cumnock to Dalmellington.

Bank House: A good two storey high house the residence of the proprietor John Hyslop Esq.

The community at Bank Glen expanded and the Bank Cottages were soon neighboured by the Bank School and the Bank Free Church. The rise in the road at Bank Glen maybe the original may be the original bank, i.e the topgraphical feature in the name of St. Brydesbank.


[1] Saints in Scottish Place-Names, St. Bride’s Bank, Registrum magni sigilli (1562)
[2] Charter (1633) see Appendix
[3] Sasine Registers
[4] Blaeu Colia Provincia (1654)
[5] Henry Paton (Editor), The Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, Third Series, Vol IX, A.D. 1684, P.543-547
By Permission of National Library of Scotland
Map 1 |Blaeu (1645) |Brydesbanck
Map 2 |Blaeu (1645) | Bryds Burn
Map 3 | OS (1892-1960) | Bank
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49|Craigbank,Bank Glen Inn, Bank Cottages
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49 | Bank House