Suggested Meaning:‘self-closing gate’
First elementScots liggat ‘self-closing gate’
Blaeu Coila (1654):N/A
OS Name Books (1855-57):Legate
Location:Ordnance Survey (1895)
Earlier Reference
Liggat (1709), Ligget (1721, 1725), Ligate (1841), Liggat (1851), Leggate (1852)


Scots liggat ‘self-closing gate’

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

A row of one Story Cottages on the road from New Cumnock to Dalmellington. Mr Johnstone, Schoolmaster thinks that it is probable there was a Gate at this place leading to the Castle of Black Bog – and that the name is Norman French.

Map 1: Legate OS Map (1850-57)| Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Mr William Johnstone was a well respected schoolmaster in the town. However, he has perhaps overthought the origin of the name Legate. It certainly signifies that there was a gate at this place but not of Norman French origin (surely not Le Gate!) and neither was it a gateway to the Castle of Black Bog, i.e. Cumnock Castle.

The name Legate is a later variant of Scots liggat ‘self-closing gate’ .

The Dictionaries of the Scots Language entries for liggat read as follows –

from up to 1700 [1]

(Liggat,) Ligat, Liggett, -itt, n. A self-closing gate, to prevent cattle from straying.

A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

from 1700 onwards [2]

LIGGAT, n. Also ligget(t), lig(g)ate. A small wooden gate, usu. self-closing, a swing-gate, freq. one shutting off pasture from arable land. Also attrib. and in place-names.

Scottish National Dictionary (1700 – )

There are several examples of the place-name liggat in Galloway and Sir Herbert Maxwell in ‘The Place-Names of Galloway’ draws comparison with Lowland Scots liggat and Anglo Saxon lea geat ‘a field gate’. He also provides this almost poetic quote from John Jamieson, Scots Dictionary [3]

Liggat, a gate so hung that it may shut of itself


On the Ordnance Survey map (1856) below, the small row of cottages appear to be set within an enclosure which was possibly a paddock of grazing land, cordoned off from arable land and, accessed by a liggat.

Map 2: Legate (OS Map 1856) | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
Old Parish Records (Scotland’s People)

The earliest references (found thus far) to the Liggat (or a variant of the name) are to be found in the Old Parish Records of baptisms /birth of the parish of New Cumnock (1706-1855) –

06 Nov 1709 ‘Hugh Son to Andrew Crawford and Jean Howatson, in Liggat’
15 Oct 1721 ‘Elizabeth Daughter to John Jenkin and Margaret Mitchell, in Ligget
23 Dec 1725 ‘James Son to Willam Howat and Agnes Dalzell, in Ligget
Census Records (Scotland’s People)

In the 1841 Census there is still only one abode at Ligate and it was home to –

Ligate: Hugh Wilson, male servant, and Elzabeth Wilson and their children William, Andrew and Anne

By the 1851 Census there are three numbered properties at Liggat, now resembling ‘A row of one Story Cottages‘ referred to in the OS Name Book (1855-57) and on the OS Map (1856) above. The families at that time were –

1. Liggat: David Hutchinson, farm servant, and Janet Hutchinson and their daughter Mary
2. Liggat: Janet Murdock and her children John & Elisabeth and her mother Elizabeth Lapraik
3. Liggat: Andrew Clark, farm servant, and Agnes Clark and their son Andrew

The following year in 1852 it the property appears as Leggate in the map of the ‘turnpike & parish roads’ while its neighbour to the north east is shown as Moss Mack instead of Moss Mark!

Map 3: Legate (Road Map 1852) | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
St. Margaret’s Roman Catholic Church & School

In 1883 the Marquis of Bute had St. Margaret’s Roman Catholic Chapel built at Leggate, adjacent to the original small row of cottages. It also doubled as a Roman Catholic School for a time before Ayr County Council erected St. Margaret’s School a few hundred yards along the road. Neither Chapel or School now remain and indeed neither does the ‘new’ St. Margaret’s School built at Afton Bridgend in the 1970s.

Valuation Rolls (Scotlands People)

The rapid development of the New Cumnock Coalfield in the mid-late 19th century resulted in miners rows’ being erected by the coal companies on the west side of the Connel Burn for the miners and their families. While some time later a number of houses, with their own gardens, were built along the side of the New Cumnock-Dalmellington Road, owned and tenanted by miners and labourers and in the Valuation Rolls of 1895 these were all addressed as Leggate, albeit the OS Map of the same year, only names the small row of cottages as Legate.

Map 4 : Legate (& Leggate 1895) | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

The postcard view below looks back along the road from the white cottage at Connelburn (situated before the junction with the road to Knockshinnoch farm) to the cottages at Leggate.

Looking towards ‘The Leggate’ from Connelburn (the white cottage in the foreground)

The miners rows at Connel Park, Craigbank, Burnside and Burnfoot began to shrink as tenants moved to new houses built at Afton Bridgend and Cairnhill . More privately owned houses were built at the Leggate and what was once a cottage named after a nearby ‘self-closing gate’ had evolved into a street called Leggate and better known locally as ‘The Leggate’.

Map 5: Leggate (street name) | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

‘The Leggate’ continued to grow and today there are 40 or so residences that adorn the address Leggate.


There was once another ligate/legate place-name in the east of parish called Couplalegate – ‘self-closing gate at the Coupla’. The name was often shortened to Couplagate and it survives today as a street name in the form Coupla Gate [4].

[1] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. (A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue )| liggat
[2] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. (Scottish National Dictionary )| liggat
[3] Sir Herbert Maxwell ‘The Place-Names of Galloway’ | Fumart Liggat, Liggatcheek
[4] New Cumnock Place-Names | Couplagate (in progress)
Reproduced with the Permission of National Library of Scotland
Images used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) licence.
Map 1: Ordnance Survey, One-inch to the mile maps of Scotland, 2nd Edition – 1885-1900 (1895) | Legate
se 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 2: Ordnance Survey Maps – 25 inch 1st edition, Scotland, 1855-1882 (1895) Legate
Map 3: James Mc. Derment & SonsMap of the turnpike & parish roads … [for parishes in central Ayrshire] New Cumnock | Leggate
Map 4: Ordnance Survey Maps – 25 inch 2nd and later editions, Scotland, 1892-1949 (1895) | Legate
Map 5: Ordnance Survey National Grid maps, 1944-1971 (1961) | Leggate
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49|Legate
Scotland’s People
Old Parish Records, Births, Marriages, Deaths, Census Records, Valuations Rolls, Wills & Testaments