BURNSTON

Place-names:Burnston, Burnston Burn, Burnston Bog
Suggested Meaning:Brown’s farm steading
First elementPersonal Name : Brown
Second elementScots toun ‘farm steading’
Blaeu Coila (1654):Brunstoun, Brunstoun b.
OS Name Books (1855-57):Burnston, Burnston Burn, Burnston Bog
Location:Ordnance Survey (1895)

Earlier forms
Browanstone (1647), Brunstoun (1654), Brownstoun (OPR 1709-1711), Brunstown (OPR 1730), Burnstown (Roy 1744-47), Bruntstone (Land Tax 1759), Burnston (Armstrong 1775), Brunstone (Land Tax 1803), Burnston (Census 1851/61)

Burnston

The place-name appears in the forms Brunstoun and Brunstoun b. (burn) in Blaeu Coila Provincia (1654) and it is important to take a second look and note the difference in the first element of the name from the current day form Burnston, i.e. bruns– > burns-.

Map 1: Brunstoun (Blaeu 1645)| Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

A few years beforehand, in 1647 the from Browanstone is found in records of the local Montgomerie family [1] –

In 1647, Hugh Montgomerie, heir of John Montgomerie of Bridgend, his father, was retoured “in petiis de lie comoune Craufuirdstone, alias Terringzeane, nuncupatis Knokdone in Browanstone, in parochia de Cumnok“,” &c.

James Paterson , History of the Counties of Ayr & Wigton Volume I, p.358

Knokdone (now Knockdon), a shepherd’s cottage, was situated higher up the hill about 1.5 miles north-west of Browanstone. It appears that Knokdone was situated on the lands Browanstone at that time. In 1650 the parish of Cumnock was divided into the two new parishes of Old Cumnock and New Cumnock, with Knokdone now in the former and Browanstone in the latter.

Land Tax Rolls (Scotland’s Place)

Nevertheless the properties would remain attached as witnessed in the Land Tax Rolls of 1759 under those properties belonging to the Earl of Dumfries, where they are grouped together as Knockdone, Bruntstone and Craigman – the latter property just half a mile or so, south-west of Bruntstone . Although they are recorded as individual properties in the Land Tax Rolls of 1803 (and still owned by the Earl of Dumfries) , they appear consecutively as Knockdone (£33.6.8), Brunstone (£56.13.4) and Craigman (£100.0.0).

Map 2: Burnston, Knockdon & Craigman (OS 1885-1900)| Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Old Parish Records (Scotland’s People)

The early entries of the Old Parish Records of births/ baptisms for the parish of New Cumnock (1706-1855) include the birth of Hugh Brown at Brownstoun –

1709: Brownstoun | John McMath to Hugh McMath* & Jean Ranken
1709: Brownstoun | Hugh Brown to George Brown & Jean McKnight
1711: Brownstoun | Janet McKnight to Hugh McKnight* & Jean Ranken
* McMath or McKnight may have been incorrectly transcribed
1730: Brunston | Agnes McCrone to John McCrone & Agnes ?
Browanstone, Brunstoun, Brownstown, Brunstown, Bruntstone, Brunstone

Personal name: Brown and Scots toun ‘farm steading’

The above early forms discussed thus far exhibit a second element of the form –tone, –toun, –ton indicative of the common place-name element Scots toun ‘farm settlement’ [2] .

In which case the first element take the forms browans, –bruns, –browns and the outlier –brunts (i.e. Bruntstone 1759), with a spurious ‘t‘. These suggest the personar name Brown with the possessive ‘s’. Benston in the parish of New Cumnock may be another example of Personal Name + Scots toun while there are host of examples in the neighbouring parishes including Boyleston, Ryderston, Thomarston and Watston in Old Cumnock.

Who was Brown?

Of course, Brown is a very common surname in Scotland and George F. Black in ‘The Surnames of Scotland’ identifies three origins of the name including Brun -‘a common personal name in Old English charters‘ and explains ‘the name is from an old adjective meaning brown, dark red‘. As far as Ayrshire is considered he noted a ‘Richard Broun, witness in Irvine, 1260‘ [3].

Before progressing to the modern-day name form Burnston it is worth noting that Knockdon as in ‘Knokdone in Browanstone, in parochia de Cumnok‘ is Gaelic cnoc donn ‘brown hill’ [4,5].

The transformation of the first element from bruns- to burns– is observed in Roy’s Military Survey (1744-47) where it appears as Burnstown [Map 3] and then 30 years later as Burnston in Armstrong’s Map of Ayrshire (1775)

Map 4 : Armstrong Map of Ayrshire (1775)| Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

The change of the position of /r/ from Brunston > Burnston may be associated with local pronounciation of the name similar, for example, to the local pronounciation of the nearby village of Catrine, which some call Ca-trin and others Caw-turn.

Despite the form Brunstone (Land Tax 1803) post-dating the Roy and Armstrong maps, Burnston became the established form (at least for a time) and is the form found in William Johnson’s County Map of Ayrshire (1828), [Map 5]. On a lighter note the form Brimston, appears on James Macderment and Sons, map of the turnpike & parish roads (1852), [Map 6].

Burnston

The Ordnance Survey Name Book (1855-57) entry for Burnston reads -.

A farm house a sublet off Dalgig farm, occupied by Robert Turnbull

Map 7: Burnston (OS 1857)| Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

The ‘Authorities for the Spelling’ of the name as Burnston were Robert Turnbull, Burnston; Voters List and the County Map (presumably Johnson’s Map 1828) while the discounted other spelling was Bruntstone from the Estate Map (based on the Land Tax Roll 1803).

Appearing as Brunstoun b. in Blaeu (1645), taking its name from the farm of the same then not unexpectedly it changes its name to match the change of farm name and is Burnston Burn..

Sanquhar born Robert Turnbull, worked as an agricultural labour on the lands of Burnston and the neighbouring Dalgig, tenanted by Ivie Campbell. He married Helen (Nelly) Kerr, the daughter of John Kerr, farmer at Knockburnie and his wife Elizabeth Gemmell. The 1841 Census records Robert and Helen living at Burnston with their 6 children along with 3 other families. The Turnbulls appears in the 1851 and 1861 Census Records of Burnston, by which time Robert is ‘a farmer of 100 acres‘. They later moved to a farm in Kirkmichael, Dumfriesshire.

The place-name continues to change form in written documents. For examples it appears in Valuation Rolls (alongside Dalgig), of 1895 & 1905 as Burnton (which is the name of a farm in the east of the parish) and then as Brunston from 1915-1940. While in 1887, the prizewinners at Dalleagles Public School included Robert Galbraith, Brunston of Standard Class 1 [6].

Sadly the name has since disappeared from the landscape for the lands of Burnston, like several other lands in the upper reaches of the River Nith, were subject to extensive opencast working (surface coal mining) leading to the associated farms being abandoned.

Burnston Burn

Place-Name Burnston + Scots burn ‘stream’ [7]

The Ordnance Survey Name Book (1855-57) entry for Burnston Burn reads –

A small stream passing thro [through] a Ravine immediately north of Bur [Burnston] and flowing south enters the Nith

It appeared as Brunstoun b. on Blaeu’s map (1654) taking its name from the farm of the same name and not unexpectedly it changed its name to reflect later forms of the farm’s name.

Here again Robert Turnbull, Brunston was one of the ‘Authorities for Spelling’ along with Hugh Wyllie, Dalgig. The other ‘Authority’ was the Estate Map in which it appeared as Glen Burn – this is a reference to the ravine it passes through on the way to joining the River Nith. N.B. Scots glen can also apply to smaller burns where the glen is described as a dell or a ravine [8]; see also Auldnaw Glen [9].

Although, that following the completion of the opencast work it had been planned to reinstate the Burnston Burn it cannot be reinstateed, ‘as its course has now been entirely consumed by the final working void‘ [10].

Burnston Bog

Place-Name Burnston + Scots bog ‘bog, mire’ [11]

The Ordnance Survey Name Book (1855-57) entry for Burnston Bog reads –

A small piece of uncultivated ground of a mossy nature on Burnston farm

Map 8: Burnston Bog (OS Map 1894) | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Through time a pond had formed within the confines of the bog. Burnston Bog was removed during the open cast work being carried out on an areas labelled as Burnston Fields.

The photos below date from 2008 at which time Burnston cotage was still habitable but the single-track road onward to Craigman (formerly Marchburn) and Waterhead farms was already blocked off .

References
[1] James Paterson , History of the Counties of Ayr & Wigton Volume I, p.358
[2] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. |toun
[3] George F. Black in ‘The Surnames of Scotland’ . 1946 (Birlinn Edition 1999)
[4] Edward Dwelly, Illustrated Gaelic -English Dictionary (1902-11, Birlinn Ed.2001)| cnoc
[5] Edward Dwelly, Illustrated Gaelic -English Dictionary (1902-11, Birlinn Ed.2001)|donn
[6] British Newspaper Archive | Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald , Friday 08 January 1888
[7] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd.| burn
[8] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd | glen
[9] New Cumnock Place-Name | Auldnaw Burn & Glen
[10] East Ayrshire Council , Planning Committee , Revised Restoration Plan at House of Water Opencast Coal Mine, New Cumnock, 12 Jun 2020.
[11] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. |bog
Maps
By Permission of National Library of Scotland
https://maps.nls.uk/
Images used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) licence.
Map 1: Joan Blaeu, Coila Provincia, [or], The province of Kyle / auct. Timoth. Pont. | Brunstoun
Map 2: Ordnance Survey, One-inch to the mile maps of Scotland, 2nd Edition – 1885-1900 | Burnston.
Use of these digitised maps for non-commercial purposes is permitted under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC-BY-NC-SA) licence.
Map 3: Roy’s Military Survey, Lowlands (1752-55)|Burnstown
Map 4: Andrew Armstrong, A new map of Ayrshire (1775) | Burnston
Map 5: William Johnson, Northern (Southern) part of Ayrshire / compiled from estate plans. (1828) | Burnston
Map 6: James Macderment and Sons, Map of the turnpike & parish roads … [for parishes in central Ayrshire] New Cumnock (1852)|Brimston
Map 7: Ordnance Survey Maps – Six-inch 1st edition, Scotland, 1843-1882 (1857)| Burnston
Map 8: Ordnance Survey Maps – 25 inch 2nd and later editions, Scotland, 1892-1949 (1894) | Burnston Bog
Ordnance Survey Name Books & Land Tax Rolls
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
scotlandsplaces.gov.uk
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49|Burnston
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49|Burnston Burn
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49|Burnston Bog
Scotland’s People
https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk
Old Parish Records, Births, Marriages, Deaths, Census Records, Valuations Rolls, Wills & Testaments