Suggested Meaning:the smaller part of a merk-land
First elementScots little ‘small ‘
Second elementScots mark unit of land valued at a mark’
Blaeu Coila (1654):Littilmarck
OS Name Books (1855-57):Littlemark
Location:Ordnance Survey (1892-1960)
Other Early Forms:
Littlemarkacre?, Littilmarck (1645), Little Mark (1759-1836), Littlemark
Littlemark Farm and on the hillside in distance sits the farms of Whitehill and Auchengee (Robert Guthrie)

Littlemark ‘small part of a merkland

1st element: Scots little ‘smaller part of -‘

The place-name element little is found in a number of other place-names in the parish including Little Creoch and Little Garclaugh both of which have neighbouring properties of Meikle Creoch and Meike Garclaugh respectively, signifying the smaller and larger (Scots meikle ‘big’) parts of these lands. However there is no such neighbouring property to Littlemark or is there?

2nd element: Scots mark ‘a unit of land valued at one mark’

The common place-name element Scots mark ‘a piece of land assessed as having an annual rental value of one mark at the time of assessment [1], where a mark was worth 13s. 4d. Scots. Other examples in the parish are Ashmark, Lanemark and Marshallmark all of which have the generic mark qualified by another noun while Littlemark is qualified by an adjective.

The difficulty with the place-name Littlemark, lies in applying the adjective little to a fixed unit of measurement! The ‘Place-Names of the Galloway Glens’ database faced a similar situation with Little Merkland in the parish of Parton and considered the following options [2] .

It is almost six km west of Merkland PAR, so it is unlikely to be a ‘little’ part of that estate. It is perhaps more likely that there was another merkland here in its own right – i.e. a farm valued at one merk for rental purposes – and this was the smaller part of it, in this western part of the parish. Or perhaps it was a merkland in its own right, and was ‘little’ to distinguish it from Merkland PAR in the east, being of the same value but smaller.

Place-names of Kirkcudbrightshire. 2022. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.

Drawing comparisons with Littlemark, the best fitting scenario seems to be that Littlemark may have been ‘a smaller part of another property valued at one merk for rental purposes‘. An overview of the history of lands of Littlemark may help decide.

Littlemark (Robert Guthrie)

The lands of Littlemark

Littlemark appears as Littilmarck in Blaeu Coila Provincia (1654) based on Timothy Pont’s manuscript of Kyle (ca. 1583-1614). It was one of many properties that made up the Barony of Afton in the parish of New Cumnock created on 9th July 1706 for William Gordon of Earlston, 1st Baronet of Afton [3] . He inherited the lands through marriage to Ann Campbell, the heir and daughter of Sir George Campbell, younger of Cessnock, a major heritor or landowner in the parish of New Cumnock. Both the Campbells of Cessnock, Galston, Ayrshire and the Gordons of Earlstoun, Dalry of St. John’s Dalry, Kirkcudbrightshire were strong Covenanting families.

Map 1: Littilmarck (Blaeu 1654) | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

A local Covenanting tradition of the late 17th century associated with ‘Little Mark Lane in the immediate vicinity of Dalegles‘ tells of how the residents, William Good and his wife Ann Campbell, survived a visit from a company of dragoons. With no time to flee William had to hide in the spence, then full of old chests, chairs and pots, while Ann pulled a nearby stone trough across front of the door. In barged the dragoons searching high and low while Ann kept her nerve in their presence [4].

The farm-house of Little Mark Lane underwent a strict and unsparing scrutiny; and barn, stable, and cow-house, were all explored with as much keenness as if the troopers expected to find some great treasure, on the possession of which their future happiness was solely to depend. But though they sought, they found not. The sanctuary in which the master of the house had taken was left inviolate.

Rev. Robert Simpson, Traditions of the Covenanters

The Lane in Little Mark Lane maybe a reference to the nearby Lane Burn? The name William Good appears in the Hearth Tax Roll for the parishes of Old Cumnock and New Cumnock of 1694 [5] , suggesting the gudeman of Little Mark Lane lived through the Covenanting struggle.

Other properties named in the charter of the Barony of Afton included Auchingie and Whitehill of Schang In a later marriage contract and and in Land Tax Rolls they appear as a parcel of of the four properties in the form Whitehill, Auchingee, Little Mark and Chang (or variants of these names).

In 1741 Hugh Campbell of Whitehill, son of William Campbell of Pencloe married Agnes Logan, daughter of Thomas Logan of Knockshinnoch and his second wife Jean Thomson [6].

Four mailings were settled upon her viz. – Changue, Littlemark, Whitehill and Auchengie, which were given up to Hugh by his father for the purpose of being settled on his wife.

The Logans of Knockshinnoch

The same four properties appear clumped together in the Land Tax Tolls of 1759 and 1803 and valued at £128. They were later divided into the pairs of Little Mark & Schang / Chang.

Year ProprietorPropertiesValue
1759Not recordedWhitehill, Auchengea, Little Mark & Schang£128
1803G. Rankine &
Mrs. Stewart
Whitehill, Auchengea, Little Mark & Chang£128
>1836Miss Stewart of AftonLittle Mark & Chang£54
>1836G. RankineWhitehill & Auchingee£74

In 1756 Thomas Gordon 3rd Baronet of Afton had acquired the lands of Stair. He was known thereafter as Gordon of Afton & Stair and the family settled at Stair House. On his death, his grand-daughter Catherine succeeded to the estates of Afton and Stair and soon after she married Colonel, later to be Major-General Alexander Stewart, grandson of the Earl of Galloway. It was following a meeting between Robert Burns and Mrs Stewart as Stair House that his great collection of poems known as the Stair Manuscript (1786) and Afton Manuscript (1791 would emerge, the latter carrying the inscription [3] –

‘To Mrs. General Stewart of Afton. The first person of her sex and rank that patronised his humble lays, this manuscript collection of Poems is presented, with the sincerest emotions of grateful respect, by the Author’

Mrs. Stewart’s properties in the Barony of Afton, in the parish of New Cumnock included Little Mark and Chang which would later pass to her daughter Catherine, Miss Stewart of Afton.

Littlemark Farm

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

A farm house near Dalleagles occupied by Mrs. Stitt. The property of Mrs* Guthrie and others.

*Note the transcription should read Mr. Stitt and Miss Guthrie

Gilbert Stitt, farmer died at Littlemark aged 67 years on the 18th April 1856, presumably soon after the Ordnance Survey Name Book entry had been recorded. A widower his wife Mary Hood some time before him. Their daughter Mary Stitt married James Wilson at Littlemark on 31st December 1838. [Scotland’s People].

Miss Guthrie was Christina Guthrie, daughter and heir of Alexander Guthrie of Mount Kilmarnock and Christina Marshall. Her father managed the Portland Collieries of the Duke of Portland in the parish of Riccarton for over 40 years and passed away in 1852, after which Christina inherited his estates. In August 1853 she had purchased the estate of West Polquhirter in the parish and New Cumnock and then in February 1855 she added the estate of Dalleagles [7].

The following extract from the ‘For Sale The estate of Dalleagles in the County of Ayr’ notice, from the year before makes interesting reading [8].

LANDS and FARM of CHANQUEHILL with the pertinents thereof, together with that PIECE of GROUND called LITTLEMARKACRE, in Dalleaglesholm, being parts and portions of the Lands of the Barony of Afton, all lying within the parish of New Cumnock and shire of Ayr with the Teinds, Parsonage and Vicarage of these last mentioned lands of Chanquehill and Littlemarkacre

Glasgow Herald 13th Nov 1854

Chanquehill: The article appears to use early forms of the place-names from an unspecified date. Certainly,Chanquehill is an early form of modern-day Chang Hill. Chang/ Schang (Chorg in the Map 1: Blaeu) would have been farm of Chanquehill (Chorg in Map 1:Blaeu), however the farm of that name no longer exists.

Map 2: Littlemark and Chang Hill | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Littlemarkacre: The description of Littlemarkacre ‘as a piece of ground in Dalleaglesholm’ describes exactly the location of Littlemark farm.

Map 3: Littlemark and Dalleagles | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

In the aforemenioned Marriage Contract (1741) and Land Tax Rolls (1759, 1803, 1836) above Little Mark and Schang / Chang appear together. However, going further back in time to an Instrument of July 1517 the merk land of Schang appears without Little Mark by its side [9].

185: Instrument narrating that George Craufurd of Lafinoris, freely and with out compulsion, resigned the one-merk land of Dalleglis, the merk land of Quhythill and the merk land of Schang into the hands of James Dunbar of Cumnok, superior of the same, and that in favour of Besseta Wallas (his spouse), which resignation being so made and received, after a due interval of time, the said James D. gave and granted the said lands to George C. and his wife in conjunct fee, their heirs, &c., in terms of a charter to be made thereupon. Done at Lafinoris same date as preceding [ 13 July 1517]. Witnesses, Robert Nisbet and George Ogilvy,

Protocol Book of Gavin Ros 1512-1534 | No. 185

However, perhaps Little Mark was hidden from view as that ‘piece of ground called Littlemarkacre‘ in the merkland of Schang. Only to appear in later years as Little Mark and then Littlemark, ‘the small part of the merk land of Schang‘.


Littlemark on right & Dalleagles Terrace on left (Robert Guthrie)

As noted above Miss Guthrie along with others was recorded as the proprietor of Littlemark in the Ordnance Survey Name Book (1855-57). Although the purchase of the property was confirmed in the newspapers in February 1855 [10 ], the Valuation Rolls of 1855 identified William Allason Cunninghame of Logan as the proprietor of Littlemark. He was the grandson of Mrs Catherine Gordon Stewart now owned the few remaining Gordon of Afton & Stair in the parish of New Cumnock namely Littlemark, Straid, Burnfoot and Brockloch [3].

Meanwhile, Miss Christina Guthrie married Geoffrey Dominick Augustus Frederick Browne Guthrie, 2nd Baron Oranmore & Browne, where as part of the marriage arrangement he took the surname Guthrie. The familly owned Dalleagles, Farden and West Polquhirter for many years [7].


Map 4: Littlemarkhill | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Littlemarkhill was the new name given to the cottage that was originally called Newhouse (see Map 2 above) now taking its name from the hill behind Littlemark farm and Dalleagles Terrace (which sits on Littlemark lands). However, it’s not clear exactly when the name change took place.

Ruins of Newhouse / Littlemarkhill cottage (Robert Guthrie)

Newhouse was originally built to house those that worked at the nearby lead mines on Dalleagles [11]. The 1891 Census Records shows that Littlemarkhill was home to John Hammond, coal miner and his wife Jean Russell along with three other coal-miner sons, two sons of school-age, two gransdons and domestice servant – a total of 11 people! Father and sons probably worked at the nearby Lanemark Coal Company’s pits.

Dalleagles Terrace (left) and Lanemark Farm (right) with the tree-line path up the hill to Littlemarkhill (Robert Guthrie)
[1] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd | mark
[2] Place-names of Kirkcudbrightshire. 2022. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. | Little Merkland
[3] New Cumnock History | Catherine Gordon Stewart
[4] Reverend Robert Simpson, Traditions of the Covenanters
[5] The Hearth Tax for Ayrshire 1691, Ayrshire Records Series Volume 1 , Robert H J Urquhart and Rob Close, editors (1998) ; A List of the hearths of the paroch of Cumnock, Old and New.
[6] The Logans of Knockshinnoch, Private Circulation (1885)
[7] New Cumnock History | Christina Guthrie, Lady Oranmore (in progress)
[8] British Newspaper Archive |Glasgow Herald 13th Nov 1854
[9] Scottish Record Society (1908), Protocol Book of Gavin Ros 1512-1534 | No. 185
[10] British Newspaper Archive |Glasgow Herald 12th Feb 1855
[11] New Cumnock Place-Names | Newhouse (in progress)
Reproduced with the permission of The National Library of Scotland
Used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) licence.
Map 1 | Coila Provincia, [or], The province of Kyle / auct. Timoth. Pont. (1654) |Littilmark
Map 2 | Ordnance Survey, One-inch to the mile maps of Scotland, 2nd Edition – 1885-1900|Littlemark and Chang Hill
Map 3 |Ordnance Survey Maps – 25 inch 1st edition, Scotland, 1855-1882 |Littlemark
Map 4 |Ordnance Survey Maps – Six-inch 2nd and later editions, Scotland, 1892-1960 | Littlemarkhill
Ordnance Survey Name Books and Land Tax Rolls
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49| Littlemark
Land Tax Roll for Ayrshire Volume 4| 1759
Land Tax Roll for Ayrshire Volume 5| 1803
Land Tax Roll for Ayrshire Volume 5 ( Excerpt from the Cess Roll , County of Ayr) ~1836
Scotland’s People
Old Parish Records, Births, Marriages, Deaths, Census Records, Valuations Rolls, Wills & Testaments
Old Parish Records | Census Records