Suggested Meaning:rough side (of land)
First elementScots ruch ‘rough’
Second elementStandard Scottish English side ‘side’
Blaeu Coila (1654):N/A
OS Name Books (1855-57):Roughside
Location:Ordnance Survey (1898)
Early Forms
Ruchside (1484), Roughside


Surprisingly, the early form of the name Ruchside is found in the records of a 15th century dispute between the Baron of Cumnock and the Countess of Ross. The first element of the name is simply Scots ruch ‘rough’ [1] and indeed many will still pronounce today’s Roughside as Ruchside.

Roughside with Corsencon hill in the distance (Robert Guthrie 2008)

So why did it come about that the Baron of Cumnock fell out with the Countess of Ross, their homes seemingly separated by over 200 miles?

The baron was in fact Sir James Dunbar of Cumnock & Westfield who had inherited the title of Cumnock through marriage to Euphemia Dunbar (before 1474), the eldest daughter and heir of Patrick Dunbar of Cumnock & Mochrum. He also inherited the title of Westfield from his father Sir Alexander Dunbar of Westfield, Morayshire [2]. Despite holding the positions of Sheriff of Elgin & Forres, Sir James got himself into some financial difficulty and not having the means to pay Elizabeth Livingston, Countess of Ross, she was granted the following lands in his barony of Cumnock [3] –

2 Oct 1484

Jacobus de Dunbar de Cumno owing 700 merks plus 10 merks expenses to Elizabeth Countess of Ross because of decreet of lords auditorum causarum et querelarum, not having enough moveable goods to pay, royal grant to said Elizabeth in lands of Wellis of Gelt, 2 merk lands of Lethanis, merkland of Knokluy, merkland of Ruchside, 2 merk lands of Uvirgarlach, 2 merk lands of Nethirgarclach, 2 merk lands of Nethirgerreve, with free regress to sd lands whenever he, heirs might pay 710 merks within 7 yrs .

Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum, RMS/ii#1602| translation courtesy Stuart Clarkson
Map 1: Lands granted to Countess of Ross ( OS 1900)| Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

The dispute rumbled on and the lords auditors ordained that letters be written to Sir James Dunbar to distrenzie him of his lands and goods for the said sum, i.e Scots distrenzie ‘to seize (goods) by way of enforcing an obligation or payment of debt ‘[4,5]-

The lords auditors decree and deliver that James of Dunbar of Cumnock shall satisfy and pay Elizabeth [Livingstone], countess of Ross, the sum of 700 merks for which he is bound to the said Elizabeth by his obligation of past terms, shown and produced before the lords, and ordain that letters be written to distrenzie him of his lands and goods for the said sum, and the said James was lawfully summoned to this action and often called but not compearing either by himself or through his procurators, and also that letters be written to distrenzie him for 10 merks for the costs of the said countess.

The Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707, 1484/2/57

Unfortunately, Ruchside / Roughside does not appear in any of the early maps, i.e. Blaeu’s Coila Provincia (1654), Roy’s Military Survey (1755-57) or Armstrong’s Map of Ayrshire (1775). It first appears on John Thomson’s Atlas of Scotland (1832)

Map 2 : Roughside (John Thomson 1832) | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

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

A good farm house with offices and an arable farm attached the property of Sir James Stuart Menteith Bart, Mansfield House.

Ownership of the lands had passed hands through the years and by the time of the ordnance survey Roughside was part of the Mansfield estate [Valuation Rolls 1855] owned by Sir James Stuart-Menteith, 2nd Baronet of Closeburn & Mansfield. This also contained the lands Meikle Garclauch, Little Garclaugh and Hall of Mansfield which formed part of the 15th century dispute above as – Uvirgarlach, Nethirgarclach and Nethirgerreve, the -gerrreve property were later renamed Mansfield, after the then landowner’s wife [6]. The other properties on the Mansfield estate were Gatehead, Glen and Clayslaps – the latter soon abandoned and indeed it did not appear on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1857).

One of the Authorities for Spelling of the name was Alexander Sloan, the tenant farmer at Roughside and who previously along with his wife Margaret Dondaldson had been tenants at Clayslaps.

Map 3 : Roughside (OS 1857)| Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Ruchside / Roughside

Scots ruch ‘rough ground’ + Standard Scottish English side ‘side’

There are a number of entries for Scots ruch in the Dictionary of the Scots Language with the one associated with the quality of the ground the most relevant [1] –

Scots ruch ‘rough5. Of ground: Difficult to traverse; broken, uneven; covered with tussocky vegetation or the like; wild.

Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd.

Certainly much of the landscape around Roughside farm, comprising some 280 acres with 180 arable, reflect these characteristics. The place-name element rough is found elsewhere in the parish in Rough Burn, Rough Hill and a trio of Rough Knowes. While it may also be the case that some of the place-names in the parish beginning with Gar- may represent Gaelic garbh ‘rough'[7], including the aforementioned lost names of Garreve.

The common place-name element side is generally associated with a feature and examples in the parish of New Cumnock include in Burnside, Gatelochside, Lochside and Waterside. While Dunside (brown side) falls into the same category as Roughside, i.e. side is preceded with an adjective. This suggest the lands of Roughside may be the rough side of a larger piece of land or estate.

Alexander Sloan continued to farm Roughside with support from his grandson Adam Sloan until his death on 18th May 1881, aged 86 years old. The following extract from his obituary gives some insight to the man and the lands that he farmed [8] –

Born at Craigman, near the head of the Nith , about the year 1794 he began his life as a farmer at Clayslaps, on the estate of Mansfield, and continued there for seven years before moving to the larger farm of Roughside on the same estate when the late Sir Charles Stuart-Menteth.

Mr. Sloan had thus been a farmer for some sixty years on the same estate, and had always been a resident in the parish in which he was born, which he loved so well, and where he gained for himself such universal and well-merited respect . Although Mr. Sloan had a somewhat stubborn soil, an elevated situation, and a cold and stormy climate to contend with, yet he was a skilful and successful farmer.

In his younger days, Mr. Sloan was a skilful, and most enthusiastic, as well as a famed curler in a prish of crack players; and we think we are right in saying that he was the first victor of for the ‘the picture’ , which the late Mr. George Pagan presented for the annual competition to the curlers of the parish, now more than thirty years ago, and to gain which has ever since been the ardent aspiration of every knight of the channel stone and broom.

The Ayr Observer and Galloway Chronicle, May 27, 1881.

Following his death, his son Peter Sloan, farmed Roughside before moving to Knockterra, Old Cumnock, ending this branch of the Sloan family’s association with Roughside.

Trooper William Sloan

Soon after, William Sloan and his wife Jane Harvey from Sorn, along with their four sons , probably another branch of the same Sloan family, settled at Roughside. Through time William moved to Castlemains farm in the parish while his eldest son James farmed Roughside. In 1893 James married Grace Jane Steele the daughter of James Steele, farmer Merkland, New Cumnock and Margaret McMichael.  Together they had six children including eldest son William who was born at Roughside farm on 22nd March 1894.

Young Willie joined the Cumnock troop of the Ayrshire Regiment of the Yeomanry Cavalry Yeomanry. On the outbreak of the First World War, the Regiment was one of the fastest to react to the mobilisation order following which the Regiment joined the Lowland Mounted Brigade and remained in the United Kingdom, on home defence duties, until 1915. The Regiment finally deployed overseas in September of that year, where it took part in the Gallipoli landings, serving as dismounted infantry. Unfortunately, William took seriously ill and died of peritonitis on 15th November 1915. Lieutenant Colonel James Douglas Boswell, proprietor of Garallan (Old Cumnock) and South Boig (New Cumnock) commanded the 1/1st Ayrshire Yeomanry at Gallipoli and personally knew of Trooper Willie Sloan. He sent a letter of condolence to his parents, an extract of which is given below [9] –

It is with the very greatest regret and sympathy that I write you about the death of your son Willie. This took place at the Beach Hospital, Cape Helles, Gallipoli, on Monday evening, 15th November, the cause being peritonitis. The regiment came down from the trenches on Wednesday, 17th, and having got his remains from the hospital we buried him in the little cemetry of the 52nd Lowland Division, just beside our rest camp.  Dr. Ewing, of Grange Church, Edinburgh officiated as minister at the burial. I was present with most of the officers. Trumpet-Major O’Neill and the regimental trumpeters sounded the last post. For my own part I was very much touched by your son’s death, closely associated as I have been with him, and I know all the Yeomanry were, for he was a great favourite and had always done so well. I do not know that I can add mre usefully to this, except to again express my sincere regret and sympathy. — Yours very truly, J.D. Boswell.”

In the 1920s James Sloan and his wife Grace Steel moved to Hurkledale, Cummertrees, Dumfriesshire breaking the Sloan family association with Roughside but both lie together in the Auld Kirkyard alongside their children James and Margaret where the headstone also carries an inscription to Trooper William Sloan.

[1] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. |ruch
[2] James Paterson, History of the Counties of Ayr and Wigton Volume I Kyle, Part two (1871, 2003 Edition) | Dunbars of Mochrum and Cumnock
[3] Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum |RMS/ii#1602
Translation courtesy of Stuart Clarkson, Guelph, Ontario
[4] The Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707, K.M. Brown et al eds (St Andrews, 2007-2022) |1484/2/57
[5] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. |distrenzie
[6] New Cumnock Place-Names |Mansfield
[7] Edward Dwelly Illustrated Gaelic-English Dictionary |garbh
[8] British Newspaper Archive |The Ayr Observer and Galloway Chronicle, May 27, 1881.
[9] New Cumnock Heritage Soldier Trail | William Sloan
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) | Roughside
Map 2: Maps by John Thomson, including John Thomson’s Atlas of Scotland, 1832 , Northern Part of Ayrshire. Southern Part.| Roughside
Map 3: Ordnance Survey Maps – Six-inch 1st edition, Scotland, 1843-1882 (1857) |Roughside
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49|Roughside
Scotland’s People
Old Parish Records, Births, Marriages, Deaths, Census Records, Valuations Rolls, Wills & Testaments