Bank, St. Brydesbank

Place-name:Bank, St. Brydesbank
Bank House, Bank Cottages, Bankglen Inn
Suggested Meaning :St. Brigid’s Bank
First element:dedication to ‘St. Brigid of Kildare’
Second element:Scots bank ‘slope of a hill’
Blaeu Coila (1654):Brydsbanck
OS Name Books (1855-57):Bank House, Bank Cottages, Bankglen Inn
Location: BrydsbankBlaeu Coila Provincia
Location: Bankglen InnOS Six Inch Map 1895
Earlier Forms
Sanctisbridisbank (1536) , Sanct Brydis Bankis (1580), St. Brydsbank (1657), Brydsbanck (1654), Bank (1679).

1st element: Personal Name St. Bride, Brigid

The early forms 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 [1,2] several of which often 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.

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’ [3].

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

One of the earliest references to the name is Sanct Brydis Bankis from a time when William Cunningham of Caprington was the owner of the lands of Cumnock [4] –

8 Feb 1580/1 gift to James Stewart of Bothwalmure of escheat of all dettis, takkis, contractis etc also liferent of toure, fortalice of castle of Cumnok once pert to him of Cumnok, now pert to crown through him at horn 23 Nov 1579 in virtue of letters of four forms raised by William Cunningham of Caprington for non-desisting and ceissing from lands of Cumnock, mill, mill-lands thereof, 18 Jul 1579 in virtue of letters raised by saidd William for not being made assignee in reversionn of lands of Langloss, Sanct Brydis Bankis (bar Cumnock vic Air) .

Stuart Clarkson [RSSRS/viii#62]

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 [5].

Map 1: Brydsbanckand Bryds burn| Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

2nd element: bank ‘bank, slope of the hill’

The second element of the name is Scots bank ‘bank, slope of the hill’ [6] and probably refers to the climb up the hill from the east which in later years would spawn a number of names in the future with St. Bride disappearing from view.

Map 2 Bank, Bankglen| Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
From Saint Brydesbank to Bank

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 Sanctisbridisbank to Bank beginning with the following [7] –

“1633, Oct 1st.- Registration of Renunciation by Margaret Campbell, widow of Patrick Gemmill, sometime in Kirkloche* (probably a misreading of Brokloche) and John Gemmill, son and heir of the said deceased Patrick, in favour of William, Earl of Dumfries, who has paid to them 4000 merks for the redemption of the two merk land of Nether Blackcraig, in the parish of Cumnock, which was wadset to the said Patrick Gemmill and his said spouse and their heirs by Sir William Cunningham of Capringtoun, who assigned his right therein to the said William, Earl of Dumfries, and therefore they renounce the said lands, but this is not to prejudice the right and infeftment made to them of the lands of Nether Blackcraig, St. Brydesbank and Dounshill, on … September 1633 by the said William, Earl of Dumfries. The Renunciation is dated at Cumnock 21st September 1633; witnesses, George Campbell in Tarker (also spelt Carcow), George Crawfurd in Brokloch, William Mure of Allhallowchappell and Andrew Gemmill, servitor to William Gemmill, notary in Cumnock.”

Stuart Clarkson

*Kirkloche is a misreading of Brockloche since the Sasine Register of 1625 records Margaret Campbell as spouse of Patrick Gemmill in Brockloch. In October 1633 Margaret is recorded as ‘relict of Patrick Gemill in Kirkloche’ and then in November of the same year as ‘relict of Patrick Gemmill in Brockloch’ . Also appearing in the register that year were John Gemmill, son of Patrick Gemmill in Kirkcloche and Brockloche, while Jean Gemmill is identified as the spouse of George Craufurd in Brockloche,a witness in the renunciation above [8].

In 1657, John Gemmill is recorded in St. Brydsbank and so too his son Patrick [9] .

During the Covenanting times, a John Gemmill was one of eight Covenanters killed in the battle of Airdsmoss, 22nd July 1680 alongside the Reverend Richard Cameron.

Four years later in October 1684, ministers and parishioners across Ayrshire were called to Ayr where they were interrogated (questioned). In essence the parishioners had to depone (swear under oath) and give names to the authorities of any fellow parishioners that were involved in non-conformist activities such as – failing to attend church, failing to have children baptized at church, attending conventicles. One of the parishioners interrogated was William Craufurd of Brockloch and his testimony reads as follows [10]-

‘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 .

The Register of the Privy Council of Scotland

The interrogation revealed that ‘Joanet McMichall in Bankwas the widow of a Covenanter at large, who was killed at Airs Mosse, known today as Airds Moss, in the parish of Auchinleck. Cameron and his followers had been at large, with a price on their heads, before the defeat at Airs Mosse and there can little that Joanet McMichall in Bank was the widow of Johm Gemmill in St. Brydsbank. There are other references to Bank in the interrogation and it appears that this has been esablished as a shortened version of St. Brydsbank. In Blaeu map of 1654 (see Map 1), the Saint element has already been dropped and it may just be a sign of the times that the dedication to St. Bridget was dropped all together.


In the late 18th century the lands of Bank, Blackcraig and Dunside (which appear regularly as a package of properties in the records) were inherited by the Hyslop family. Although the Nithsdale Iron Company’s attempts to establish an iron works on the lands of Bank failed [11], the Hyslops became a major force in developing the New Cumnock Coalfield beginning in 1860 with the formation of the Bank Coal Company, later the New Bank Coal Company and then New Cumnock Collieries Ltd. before 1947 and the nationalisation of the coal industry.

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

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 also be part of original bank, i.e the topgraphical feature in the name of St. Brydesbank.


[1] Saints in Scottish Place-Names |St. Bride’s Bank
[2] Saints in Scottish Place-Names |Brig, Brigit, Bride place-name distribution
[3] James B. Johnston, Place-Names of Scotland (3rd Edition) | Cumnock, Old and New
[4] Communication with Stuart Clarkson, Guelph, Ontario ,
Registrum secreti sigilli regum Scotorum/viii#62
[5] Place-Name of New Cumnock | Bryds Burn
[6] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. | bank
[7] Communication with Stuart Clarkson, Guelph, Ontario
[8] Register and Records of Scotland Indexes No. 20 , Index to Particular Register of Sasines for Sheriffdom of Ayr and Baillieries of Kyle, Carrick and Cunningham (1617-1634) Vol. I
[9] Register and Records of Scotland Indexes No. 31 , Index to Particular Register of Sasines for Sheriffdom of Ayr and Baillieries of Kyle, Carrick and Cunningham (1635-1660) Vol. II
[10] Henry Paton (Editor), The Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, Third Series, Vol IX, A.D. 1684, P.543-547
[11] New Cumnock Place-Name | Craigbank (In Progress)
Maps Reproduced by Permission of National Library of Scotland
Images used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) licence.
Map 1 |Blaeu, Joan, 1596-1673, Coila Provincia, [or], The province of Kyle / auct. Timoth. Pont.), 1645 |Brydesbanck, Bryds Burn
Map 2|Ordnance Survey Maps – Six-inch 1st edition, Scotland, 1843-1882 (1857)| Bank House
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49|Bank Glen Inn, Bank Cottages
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49 | Bank House
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 17, Coylton St. Bride’s Well