The Kennedy name in Ayrshire
seems to have evolved from the
family of Fergus, Lord of Galloway
(south of Scotland). The Lords of
Galloway were known formerly as de
Carrick, with a lesser name being
Kennedy (MacKenedi). Fergus could
have had family links to Brian
Boru, King of Ireland (the king
that overthrew the Vikings at the
Battle of Clontarf, Near Dublin, in
A descendant of Fergus was
Duncan de Carrick, who became Earl
of Carrick (a district of southwest
Scotland, south of Ayr).
The Earldom of Carrick passed to
the Bruce's when Robert Bruce
(father of Robert the Bruce)
married the widow Marjorie,
Countess of Carrick, in 1271. Her
husband, Rolan de Carrick was
killed in the Holy War against the
About the time, Duncan de
Carrick gained control land in
South Ayrshire, with one of the de
Carrick's beginning to use the name
Kennedy, so he could become head of
that name in the area.
The very earliest mention of the
name being used in Ayrshire, is
that of Gilbert MacKenedi, who
witnessed a charter of the Doon
Fishings in William the Lion's
The title Earl of Carrick,
seemed to have disappeared after
Robert the Bruce became king of
Scotland. It seems to have been
replaced by the title Earl of
Cassillis some centuries later,
Cassillis being the the main seat
of the Kennedy's at that time.
This began a fierce
confrontation in the late 1500s,
between the Kennedy's of Cassillis,
and the monks of Crossraguel Abbey,
as the Cassillis Kennedy's set
about reclaiming land gifted to the
monks by Duncan de Carrick in the
John Kennedy was one of the first
Kennedy's on record in Ayrshire, being
the owner of Dunure Castle, built in the
late 1200s. Dunure Castle, 6 miles south
of Ayr on the coast, was the
Kennedy’s first seat. John Kennedy
acquired lands at Cassillis (5 miles
southeast of Ayr by the village of
Minishant) in the 1350s. Large Image.
The earliest parts of Cassillis House
were built around that time. Cassillis
then became the main seat of the
Kennedy's. John Kennedy's son, Sir
Gilbert, was one of the hostages
exchanged for the release of King David
II by the English in 1357. Cassillis
Castle is situated about 5 miles south of
Ayr by the village of Minishant. Large Image.
Gilbert’s son James married
Princess Mary, second daughter of King
Robert III. Their son, another Gilbert,
was created Lord Kennedy in about
Hugh Kennedy of Ardstinchar, served as
commander of the Scots mercenary troops
who fought for Joan of Arc at the siege
of Orleans. The arms of the
Kennedy’s of Bargany, have since
contained reference to Joan of Arc.
Sir David, 3rd Lord Kennedy, was
created Earl of Cassillis in 1509. He
died at Flodden in 1513, alongside the
Scottish King James IV (Stuart).
The 2nd Earl was murdered in 1527.
The 3rd Earl, Gilbert, was one of four
Scottish commissioners poisoned at
Dieppe, on their return from the marriage
of Mary Queen of Scots to the Dauphin in
Late 1500s, the 4th Earl earned an
infamous reputation by roasting Alan
Stewart, Commendater of Crossraguel
Abbey, in the black vault of Dunure
Castle in order to obtain abbey land.
That act led to a feud between the
Cassillis and Bargany Kennedy's, as the
young, hot headed Bargany, was the
brother in law of Alan Stewart. The
feuding escalated until the slaying of
Bargany by one of the Cassillis Kennedy's
Bargany's friend and relation, John
Mure, then murdered Sir Thomas Kennedy of
Culzean (uncle of the Earl of Cassillis).
John Mure and his son were later found
guilty of that murder, and beheaded in
1611, this ending the Kennedy feuds.
In the late 1500s, the Kennedy’s
built Baltersan Tower, as seen above,
within one mile of Crossraguel Abbey,
along with Maybole Castle, to serve as
their town house. Large
1603, Greenan Castle south of Ayr was
built for John Kennedy of Baltersan.
The 6th Earl of Cassillis, John, was
Lord Justice General of Scotland from
1649 to 1651. He supported the
Parliamentarians during the Civil
When the 8th Earl died without heirs,
there was a three-year court dispute to
determine his successor. The House of
Lords finally found in favour of Sir
Thomas Kennedy of Culzean.
The 10th Earl, David Kennedy, an
advocate, commissioned the architect
Robert Adam to extend the original tower
house at Culzean into what is now
considered by many as Adam’s finest
work. That work was carried out between
1777 and 1792. Large Image.
Adam also designed a Castle for Thomas
Kennedy of Dalquharran (15 miles
southeast of Ayr) in the 1780s. Thomas
Kennedy was Adam's brother in law.
The castle at Dalquharran was built to
replace the existing castle at
Dalquharran, built in the 1400s.
On the death of the 10th Earl, the
title passed to Captain Archibald Kennedy
who had settled in America. He was an
officer in the Royal Navy, who held
estates in Hoboken/New Jersey, and became
the greatest property owner in New York.
His neutrality during the American War of
Independence, led to him being mistrusted
by both sides. Half of his New York
properties were confiscated as a result,
including number 1 Broadway, that became
the property of George Washington.
The 12th Earl was a close friend of
the Duke of Clarence, who, on his
coronation as William IV, created him
Marques of Ailsa.
The Kennedy’s handed Culzean
over to the National Trust for Scotland
in 1945. They then stayed in the west
wing of the castle for a few years before
moving to Cassillis House. Charles
Kennedy, (19th Earl of Cassillis) sold
Cassillis House and estate in 2009, to
confused.com founder Kate Armstrong.
Maybole Castle has been used recently
as a community council training centre.
It is now also open to the public for
Dunure Castle is a ruin that attracts
many visitors. There is a car park and
kids play area next to the castle.
Baltersan Castle is expected to be
restored in time.
The ruin of Greenan Castle, situated
at the south side of Ayr beach, attracts
many visitors. There is a large car park
close to the castle.
Dalquharran Castle has been sold to a
large hotel chain to be restored. The
castle will serve as a hotel at the
centre of a championship standard golf
course; Old Dalquharran Castle will be
incorporated in the golf course. The
world financial crisis of 2007-2008, has
delayed work on the restoration and golf
course, due to the lack of financial
investment. Jack Nicklaus has been chosen
to design the course, and has visited
Bargany Castles are now almost
unrecognizable as buildings, as there is
so little of them left. Bargany Mansion and scenic
estate, are now owned by the Dalrymple
Hamilton's, thought to be descendants of