Place-name:Nethertown, Nethertown Burn
Suggested Meaning:lower-lying farm
(on the lands of Corsencon)
First elementScots nether ‘lower-lying of two or more properties of the same name’
Second elementScots –ton, –town farm,farm-building
Blaeu Coila (1654):N/A
OS Name Books (1855-57):Nethertown
Location:Ordnance Survey (1898)
Earlier References
Nether Corsencon (1810), Netherton (Census 1841), Nethertown (Census 1851), Netherton (Valuation Rolls 1855), Nethertown (OS Name Book 1855), Netherton (Census 1861, Births 1861.1863)


Scots nether ‘lower-lying of two or more properties’ Scots town ‘farm, farm building’

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

A farm house on the boundary of the parish of New Cumnock, about 30 chains east of Corsoncone farm [house] the property of the [Marquis] of Bute.

The ‘AuthorIties for the spelling of the name’ were John Spence, junior in Nethertown and his father John Spence, senior in Corsancone. In the 1855 Valuation Rolls the properties are paired together and described as ‘Corsenconn, Midtown & Netherton’ with ‘J&J. Spence’ as tenants.

It would be understandable to consider these two Corsencon [1] properties as the two properties N. Kobinkon (Nether Corsencon ) and O.Korfinkon (Over Corsencon) shown on Blaeu’s map Coila Provincia. The prefixes nether and over are common place-name elements and are used to distinguish between two properties on the same lands, i.e. Scots nether ‘lower-lying’ [2] and Scots over ‘upper-lying’ [3]. However it appears it was not as straightforward as that!

Map 1: N. KoBinkon and O. Korfinkon (Blaeu 1654) | Reproduced with the Permission of the National Library of Scotland

The Old Parish Records [see Footnote] in the parish of New Cumnock reveal baptisms in the 18th century at two Corsencon properties with the bulk at Corsencon and the other at Hillend of Corsencon [4] . Looking at the east / west positions of these properties it appears Corsencon corresponds to Blaeu’s Over Korfinkon while Hillend of Corsencon corresponds to Nether KoBinkon, despite it being the upper-lying property, probably one reason for dropping the nether and over pre-fixes.

Records of the 19th century reveal another change, with baptisms recorded at no fewer than four Corsencon properties, i.e. Hillend of Corsencon, Corsencon, Midtown of Corsencon and Nether Corsencon. However, these names only represent three Corsencon properties since the birth places of Corsencon and Midtown of Corsencon are references to the same property, as witnessed in the baptism records of the same family of George Spence & Isabel Steel . Here the place of birth interchanges and overlaps between Corsencon (1820-1835) and Midtown of Corsencon (1825-1828).

The pre-fix Midtown of- has been introduced to describe the location of the main Corsencon property as lying midway between between Hillend of Corsencon and Nether Corsencon; indeed the burn that runs nearby is known as Mid Burn [5].

The ‘new’ 19th century Nether Corsencon sits on the east side of the lower slopes ofCorsencon and is the lowest lying of the three Corsencon properties – old habits! In the early 19th century, Abram Wilson and Mary Archibald had two children baptised there Agness (1810) and James (1813), while a son William was born at Corsencon (1815). During the same period Robert Archibald, presumably a relative of Mary, and his wife Nicholas Crosby, had three children baptised at Hillend of Corsencon.

However, by the time of the release of Ordnance Survey Name Books (1855-57) the names had settled down, if not the spelling of Corsencon (Corsincon, Corsancone etc.) .

Hillend of Corsencon, was known simply as Hillend [4] and the property had become part of the lands of Merkland. Midtown of Corsencon was known simply as Corsancone [5]. Nether Corsencon dropped the name Corsencon and was renamed Netherton / Nethertown where Scots -ton, -town ‘farm settlement’ [6].

Map 2: Nethertown (OS 1857) | Reproduced with the Permission of the National Library of Scotland

In the 1841 Census Records, James and Elizabeth Reid and their family are recorded as living at Netherton. Ten years later the Reids are still tenants there, but recorded as living at Nethertown in the census.

John Spence, junior and his wife Margaret Sloan along with their large family moved out of Corsencon, where his father John Spence, senior and his wife Margaret McKnight were tenants, and settled down the hill at Nethertown. In the OS Name Book (1855-57) he was listed one of the ‘Authorities for the spelling’ of the name Nethertown, while it appeared as Netherton in the 1855 Valuation Rolls. In the 1861 Census, John Spence junior is described ‘as a farmer of 30 acres employing one labourer’ at Netherton and the family had expanded to 8 children. A ninth child , Agnes Sloan Spence was born at Netherton, in July 1863 and was seemingly the last person to be born there, since Netherton/Nethertown dissappears from view in the 1865 Valuations Rolls and the 1871 Census.

Map 3: OS Map (1855) Nethertown | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Sadly nothing now remains of Nethertown other than some grass-covered mound perhaps covering some rubble from the buildings.

Nethertown Burn

Place-Name: Nethertown and Scots burn ‘stream’

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

A burn rising on the high lands north of Nethertown, past which it flows southwards into the river Nith

N.B. The same entry is duplicated in the OS Name Book Dumfriesshire Vol. 30 (1848-58).

Map 4: OS Map (1895) Nethertown | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

The burn [7] rises in the parish of Kirkconnel, Dumfriesshire and flows south west towards Nethertown farm and forms part of the county boundary for a time, cutting through a rocky ravine. Just prior to joining the River Nith it diverts slightly from the boundary line into the parish of New Cumnock.

Although the burn rises in Dumfriesshire it takes its name after the Ayrshire property of Nethertown rather than say Knowehead, Dumfriesshire, probably since it flows closer to Nethertown. It may be the case that the burn was unnamed prior to Nethertown being built on its west bank.

[1] New Cumnock Place-Name: Corsencon, Corsencon Hill
[2] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. |nether
[3] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. | over
[4] New Cumnock Place-Name: Hillend (in progress)
[5] New Cumnock Place-Name: Mid Burn (in progress)
[6] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. | -ton, town
[7] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. | burn
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 (1654) | N. KoBinkon, O. Kofsinkon
Map 2: Ordnance Survey Maps – Six-inch 1st edition, Scotland, 1843-1882 (1857) |Nethertown
Map 3: Ordnance Survey Maps – 25 inch 1st edition, Scotland, 1855-1882 (1856) |Nethertown
Map 4: Ordnance Survey Maps – Six-inch 2nd and later editions, Scotland, 1892-1960 (1895) | Nethertown
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49|Nethertown, Nethertown Burn