Place-name A :Marchaleholme
Suggested Meaning:1. Marshall’s meadow 2. farrier’s meadow
1st element (1):Personal name Marshall
1st element (2):S. marschall ‘farrier’
2nd element S. holm ‘water-meadow’
Place-name B :Marshallmark
Suggested Meaning1. Marshall’s merk-land 2. farrier’s merkland
1st element (1):Personal name Marshall
1st element (2):S. marschall ‘farrier’
2nd elementS. mark ‘merk-land’
Blaeu Coila (1654):Marshalmorck
OS Name Books (1855-57):Marshallmark
Location:Ordnance Survey (1892-1960)
Earlier forms
Marchaleholme (1384/1427), Marsielmark (1426), Marshallmark (1631), Marshalmorck (1654), Marshalmark (1797, Horse Tax Roll), Marshallmerk (1844), Marshalmark (1855, Valuation Rolls)
Dalleagles and Marshallmark | Photo : Robert Guthrie

In 1374 Lord Alan Cathcart inherited the baronies of Sundrum and Dalmellington through his wife Margaret Wallace, sister of Sir Duncan Wallace. Ten years later he entered into a written agreement with Roger Craufurd of Dalelglis in which he renounced the following 10 merk lands in his barony of Dalmellington in return for £46 13s 4d with the intention of paying back the money within an agreed period of time and recovering his lands [1].

At Edinburgh, 31 May (1427).
THE KING confirmed a certain indenture,- [in which Lord Alan of Kethkert knight, lord of the same, pledged and offered the title of pledge (?) and renounced to ROGER of CRAUFURDE lord of Daleglis,-his own 10 merk lands in his barony of Dalmelyntoun, in the sheriffdom of Air, viz. the farthing land of Benbane, the obulatam (?) land of Drumcalder, the farthing land of Lathanis, the farthing land of Molynnach, the farthing land of Dalwar, the farthing land of Rewach, the obulatam land of Knocbyrny, the farthing land of Marchaleholme*,- for Ł46 13s. 4d. sterling; which the said Roger paid to the said Alan as necessary:
See Appendix

Register of the Great Seal, vol. II, #90 (translation):

In the preceding entry in the Register of the Great Seal, the name appears as Marsielmerk

REX confirmavit quasdam literas Johannis de Crawfurd de Drongane, in vulgari ser- mono, — [qua concessit JOHANNI DE SCHAW de Hale et Heredibus ejus, — terras de Marsielmerk, de Knapbyrny, Mulenach, et de Lethanys, in baronia de Dalmelytoun, vie. Are : — Apud Are, Nov. 16, 1406, sub hac forma subsequente :Be it kend til al men thrwch thir present letteris me Jon off Crawfurd, lord off Drongane, til haf gewin and til haf grantit and be thir my present letteris gifis and grantis til Jon of tho Schaw, lord of the Hale, and til hys ayris, in fe and heritage, al and syndry the landis of Marsielmerk, of Knypbyrny, of the Mulenach and of the Lethanys wyth the pertineutis lyand wythin the barony of Dalmelyntoun wythin the schyrrafedome of Are, quhil tha landis fra me or myn ayris be lauchfully racoverit be the ayris of Schyr Alan of Cathkert .

Register of the Great Seal, vol. II, #89:

Evidently these lands were recovered by Cathcart and were later held by a branch of the family known as Cathcart of Waterhead, resident at Waterhead Castle on the upper reaches of the River Nith. In a sasine of 12th May 1631 ‘the merkland of Marshallmark‘ is recorded as one of the properties making up the 9 merk-lands of Waterhead [2].

There is little doubt that the ‘farthing land of Marchaleholme‘ and the ‘merkland of Marshallmark‘ are the same properties with Marshallmark becoming the established name. In the Blaeu map (1654) it appears at Marshalmorck.

Map 1 Blackfarding | Reproduced with the permission of The National Library of Scotland

The Ordnance Survey Name Book (1855-57) entry for Marshallmark is given below; there will be more of the Kerr family later.

A farm house and offices, occupied by the heirs of James Kerr, the property of Sir John Cathcart.

Marchaleholme, Marshallmark

1st element (1) | Personal name Marshall

The entry for Marshall in Black’s ‘The Surnames of Scotland’ [3] reads –

This word means literally ‘horse-servant’ in which sense it is still used in France (marechal, meaning a farrier). Most of the Marshalls in Scotland derive their name from the humbler occupation of horse-servant or groom.

Black does not identify any examples of the surname in Ayrshire. The Old Parish Records of New Cumnock, which only start as late as 1706, have Marshalls in Polquhirter in the east of the parish in the early 18th century. No records have thus far been uncovered to associate the anyone with surname Marshall as proprietors or tenants of Marshallmark.

Nevertheless two other names in the parish, i.e. Dalricket ‘Richard’s holm’ and Dalhanna ‘Hannay’s Holm’, appear to be examples of Gaelic dal ‘holm’ + Personal Name.

1st element (2) | Scots marschall ‘farrier’

The first element in Marchaleholme appears to be variant of Scots marschall ‘farrier’ [4].

The medieval farriers, better known as a marshals, tended horses where their tasks included making horsehoes and nails, activities which could also be undertaken by blacksmiths. The word farrier comes from French ferrier ‘blacksmith’; Latin ferrarius ‘blacksmith’, from ferrum ‘iron’ [5]. Those tending to the well-being of horses were referred to as a ‘hors-marschall’, i.e. a horse doctor [6].

It is perhaps no coincidence that centuries after Roger de Craufurd, lord of Daleglis had temporarily held the lands of Marchaleholme we find Dalleagles Smithy situated adjacent to the former farrier’s abode, later known as Marshallmark.

Map 2 Marshallmark and Dalleagles Smithy | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

George McMichael in his precious ‘Notes on the Way through Ayrshire’ offered a fascinating derivation of the name Marshallmark. He gets a bit carried away after identifying a French connection between Dalleagles ( French church ‘eglise’) and Marshalmark (French Mareschal de France, a French military distinction) [7] –

The hamlet of Dalleagles is pleasantly situated at Dalleagles Burn Bridge. From this name it is believed that a church had been erected here by some French people at a very early date. The name of Marshalmark, a farmhouse near it, leads to the supposition that the eglise was a temporary building for the use of the army sent by Philip of France to assist King John Baliol, Lord of Galloway, or the patriot Sir William Wallace of Black Craig, New Cumnock.

Other place-name references to horses in the parish of New Cumnock are found in the upper reaches of Glen Afton with a rock called Horse Craig on the east side of Craigbraneoch Rig and another, called Horse Craigs, on the opposite west side of the Afton Water. In Blaeu’s map (1654) there is Momes caple while in Roy’s Miltary map (1775) there is Moss Caple, which may or not be the same place. However, the names (or any equivalents) do not appear in modern day maps and may include Gaelic capull ‘mare, horse’.

The Farm Horse Tax Rolls of 1797/98 reveal that 66 people in the parish owned a total of 161 horses.

Marchaleholme, Marshallmark

2nd element (1) | Scots holme ‘river-meadow, haugh’

The second element in Marchaleholme is Scots holm, holme ‘river meadow, haugh’ [8] and is also found in the neighbouring Dalleaglesholm and elsewhere in the parish at Dalhanna Holm and Lochbrowan Holm on the banks of the Afton Water.

However, following the change of name of the property to Marshallmark, it would seem the holm was no longer named, i.e. there is no evidence that the name Marchelholme has survived nor a new name created such as Marshallmark Holm or Marshallmarkholm.

Nevertheless the presence of a holm and a meadow is advertised when a number of farms on the Waterhead Estate, including Marshallmerk, were offered for letting-

MARSHALLMERK, containing 214 Acres, or thereby, Imperial measure, consisting of superior Arable Land including a rich Holm and Meadow.

Ayr Advertiser, Sep 1844 [9]
Marshallmark and its meadow in the foreground ( Photo: Robert Guthrie)
Map 3 Marshallmark and meadow| Reproduced with the permission of the Natonal Library of Scotland

Dalricket, 1.5 miles due north of Marchaleholme on the banks of the River Nith, is an example of a place-name in the parish comprising elements of a Personal name + holm (albeit in a different order), i.e. Britonic dol- or Gaelic dal- ‘meadow, haugh, holm’ + Richard. (see Dalricket) . Similarly Dalhanna on the banks of the Afton Water may be dal- plus surname Hannay.

It is interesting to note that there is a Marshalls Haugh on the banks of River Ayr in the parish of Mauchline. Although there is an entry for Marshalls Haugh in the Ordnance Survey Name Book (1855-57), it was later scored out, nevertheless the name appears throughout the parish Valuation Rolls (1855-1940). Here again marshall could be either Scots marschall ‘farrier’ or the Personal name Marshall. (The surname appears in the Old Parish Records of Mauchline in the 1670s’)

2nd element (2) | Scots mark ‘merkland’

Scots mark is a common place-name element signifying a unit of land-measurement merkland “a piece of land assessed as having an annual rental value of one mark at the time of assessment” [10] where a mark was worth 13s. 4d Scots. Others mark place-names in the parish are Ashmark, Lanemark, Littlemark, Merkland and Mossmark.

Marshallmark (Photograph Robert Guthrie)

Horse stealing at Marshallmark

Although Marchaleholme / Marshallmark may have evolved through the centuries from a farrier’s place of work to a farmstead there is a melancholy horse tale about Marshallmark and the neighbouring farm of Knockburnie, also part of the Waterhead estate related by Helen J. Steven in ‘The Cumnocks, Old and New’ [11].

Marshallmark and Knockburnie (Photo Robert Guthrie)

In the summer of 1811 the benevolent John Kerr of Knockburnie had given supper and shelter to a number of Highland tinkers. Next morning he woke to find the tinkers gone, along with his grey mare! Immediately he set off for Marshallmark to inform his brother William only to learn that one of his horses had also been stolen. The brothers set off on pursuit of the thieves which ended successfully a week later and some 150 miles from home, at Benderloch in Argyll. Both horses were eventually recovered and brought home to New Cumnock and according to Steven the culprit was later hanged at Edinburgh.

However, newspaper reports [12] of the time record that George Watson senior and his son George Watson junior were tried at Ayr Circuit court and found guilty of horse-stealing. George Watson jnr. was committed to jail, awaiting transportation to New South Wales, Australia for a period of 7 years. On the 7th June 1811, George Watson snr. was hanged at Ayr where ‘he met his fate with apparent resignation.’ Soon after, the law was changed and the crime of horse stealing was no longer considered to be a capital offence. George Watson snr. was the last man to steal a horse in Scotland and pay for it with his life.

In recent years the property of Marshallmark was sold off and it now operates as kennels under the new name of Ravensmead Kennels.

Ravensmead Kennels( Photo Robert Guthrie)

Although the name Marshallmark has now been lost it would be interesting if the name Marchaleholme could be resurrected and applied to the meadow land!


At Edinburgh, 31 May (1427).
THE KING confirmed a certain indenture,- [in which Lord Alan of Kethkert knight, lord of the same, pledged and offered the title of pledge (?) and renounced to ROGER of CRAUFURDE lord of Daleglis,-his own 10 merk lands in his barony of Dalmelyntoun, in the sheriffdom of Air, viz. the farthing land of Benbane, the obulatam (?) land of Drumcalder, the farthing land of Lathanis, the farthing land of Molynnach, the farthing land of Dalwar, the farthing land of Rewach?, the obulatam land of Knocbyrny, the farthing land of Marchaleholme,- for Ł46 13s. 4d. sterling; which the said Roger paid to the said Alan as necessary:- to be held by the said Roger and Elisabeth his spouse and the longer living of them and their heirs and assignees from the said Alan, his heirs and assignees, until such time as the said Alan and his heirs or assignees shall have paid Ł46 13s. 4d. upon the high altar in the kirk of St. Conval of Cumnock on one Sunday between the sunrise and setting next following the one festival of the birth of the blessed John the Baptist (ie 24 June):- also the said Alan yielded to the said Roger and Elisabeth and their said all farms and proficua (?profits) of the said lands, having been levied in the meantime, for counsel and aid :- returning to the said Roger and Elisabeth one secta (?vote) at the three head courts annually held at Dalmelyntoun, with an annual return of 2 merks, 1d. :- Moreover if they shall have been expelled from the said lands, Alan obliged himself, his heirs, etc, and all his lands of Cathkert and Sondrum, etc … . At Sundrum Tuesday next after the feast of the birth of the Lord 1384]:- witnessed by John bishop of Glasgow chancellor, John Forstare chamberlain, Robert of Lawedre knight, justiciar; Walter of Ogilby treasurer.

See also New Cumnock Place-Name: Waterhead [15].


[1] Register of the Great Seal, vol. II, #90.
(Thank you to Stuart Clarkson, Guelph, Ontario for the translation)
See also Register of the Great Seal vol. II, #89 – for Marsielmerk
[2] The Scottish Jurist: Containing Reports of Cases Decided in the Supreme Courts of Scotland, Volume 15 , 1843| page 6
[3] George F. Black,The Surnames of Scotland (1946); Birlin (1999)
[4] Dictionary of the Scots Language | marschal(l
[5] Online Etymology Dictionary | farrier
[6] Dictionary of the Scots Language | hors marschall
[7] George McMichael ‘A Journey Through Ayrshire’ (c. 1881/1891)
[8] Dictionary of the Scots Language | hown, holm, holme
[9] British Newspaper Archive |The Ayr Advertiser or West Country Journal, September 19, 1844.
[10] Dictionary of the Scots Language |mark
[12] Helen J. Steven ‘ The Cumnocks, Old and New’ (1899)
[13] British Newspaper Archive |Caledonian Mercury , Aberdeen Press and Journal | May, June 1811
[14] BBC News | Last hanging for horse theft recorded
[15] New Cumnock Place-Name | Waterhead Castle and Waterhead Farm
Reproduced with the Permission of the National Library of Scotland
Map 1 | Blaeu Coila Provincia (1645) | Marshalmorck
Map 2 | Ordnance Survey (1855-1882) |Marshallmark
Map 3 | Ordnance Survey (1892-1960) | Marshallmark
Ordnance Survey (1892-1960) |Horse Craig, Horse Craigs
Blaeu Coila Provincia (1645) | Momes Caple
Roys Military Map (1752-55) | Moss Caple
Ordnance Survey Name Books & Farm Tax Rolls
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49| Marshallmark
Farm Tax Roll 1797-78 Vol. 01 |New Cumnock
Scotland’s People
Old Parish Records, Births, Marriages, Deaths, Census Records, Valuations Rolls, Wills & Testaments