Is there evidence of a place called Nisbet in Ayrshire, Scotland?

+8 votes

Hello to my fellow Scotland researchers, 

It has been pointed out to me that we there are a few pre-1500 profiles that have a place name of Nisbet in Ayrshire, possibly located in or near the parish of Loudoun. Since I'm Team Leader for Ayrshire, and have done a lot of research there, as well as having a mother-in-law whose surname was Nisbet who came from Loudoun, I have a vested interest in proving or disproving this place. I am fully aware of the historical significance of the surname there. 

I have investigated the history of these profiles, and in all cases the place name originally came from Ancestry Family Trees, which I find suspect.

I have checked ScotlandsPlaces, as well as all the usual online resources and those that I have at hand (a list is below), and find no reference to a place called Nisbet in Ayrshire. I find only references to a small village in Crailing parish, Roxburghshire, and an old mansion in Edrom parish, Berwickshire, both of which were on lands held early by members of the Nisbet family.

I would like to ask if you would all be so kind as to check any resources you might have, especially those that cover historical locations for Ayrshire, such as gazeteers, Loudoun-area reference books, anything that comes to mind, to see if you find this place?

Sources checked:

  • Groome, Ordnance gazetteer of Scotland
  • Johnston, Place-names of Scotland 1892
  • Wood, Scottish Place Names 1989
  • Robertson, Ayrshire, its history and historic families 1908
  • Patterson, History of the county of Ayr : with a genealogical account of the families of Ayrshire
  • Nisbet, A System of Heraldry
  • ScotlandsPlaces

If you're interested in the profiles, here's the list:

Thanks in advance to one and all!



in Genealogy Help by Bobbie Hall G2G6 Pilot (163k points)
edited by Bobbie Hall

It's probably a Farm SW of Greenholm but close to Galston

"The burial place of the  Campbells of Cessnock and their descendants, the Campbells of Mayfield, extends in front of this wall 12 feet by 8 feet.  To perpetuate their remembrance, this plate is put up by  Bruce Campbell of Mayfield, Anno 1809."   On the east wall of the galleries, to the right on entering from the staircase, is a handsome mural monument to the memory of an illustrious native of Galston, Lieut-Col.  Hutchinson; and to the left is another design of the same school, bearing a long record of the births, marriages, and deaths of the ancient, but now extinguished family of Nisbet of Greenholm. Both of the monuments are of marble. That of Colonel Hutchinson has the following inscription: — " In   * Alexander Arbukftl was ornate of Galston in 1651.

It may be, Gregory, but I'm looking for evidence that such a place existed. If it was a farm, it should be recorded and documented somewhere.

5 Answers

+6 votes
Seems to be sound research. I've spent a bit of time with Ayrshire profiles with Porterfield surname and have seen Nisbets but not a place called Nisbet I can recall
by Marty Acks G2G6 Pilot (109k points)
+3 votes
Nisbet, Scottish Borders, Jedburgh, Uk  td8 6tr
by Marion Poole G2G6 Pilot (969k points)
Correct placenames with wrong counties are very common on Wikitree I think
+10 votes
Usually, when there is an unusual place name that can be found in trees all over Ancestry, it means there is an indexed record that is responsible. When you attach a record to a person on Ancestry, the data fields are auto-filled with the details indexed in the record. This data, especially when it comes to place names, is often incorrect.

I hunted down a tree on Ancestry that has one of these individuals with this place name, to see if one has an attached Ancestry source that is responsible. After drilling down many profiles that simply link to each other, I finally found one with an actual record that mentions this place.

Unfortunately, that record is from the Web: Netherlands, GenealogieOnline Trees Index, 1000-2015 database, which is simply another collection of online trees, and this particular tree simply cites another Ancestry tree which no longer exists.

So I'm at a loss. There must have been one original tree on Ancestry, perhaps long since deleted by now, where the researcher has gotten mixed up and manually entered this place name. It doesn't appear that there are any records that mention it.
by James Knighton G2G6 Mach 2 (22.4k points)
My guess is that someone confused the family name with a place name... thinking something like Nesbit farm.  And through successive copying it dropped the farm or estate label and looked like a real place name but never was.  

I have seen in my husband's family some notes that list a location as the Bozzay Farm. Well there were more than one farm and none in a place called Bozzay but the person writing it did not know if it was in Redbud or Catawissa so just wrote down Bozzay farm.  Indicating the place was the family homestead so to speak.

I have to believe something like that is driving this.  

My two cents...
+2 votes
A very interesting resource which you might try is on the National Library of Scotland (NLS) website. If you go to maps and opt for side by side viewing you get a modern map on the right side and all the old maps on the left. You would find Loudoun with your pointer on the right and, another pointer, on the left, points to the same spot in ancient times. You might find Nisbet nearby though I expect it to be a mansion rather than a village.

I am interested to hear how you got on. As well as Crawfords living in Loudoun in my ancestry, I have one of those Crawfords marrying a Nisbet(t).

Thank you, Billy, I'd forgotten about the side by side views!

I used the 25-inch map, and 20 minutes later I can say the results are in, with a fair degree of confidence: in 1892-1914 there was no farm named Nisbet.

It's fascinating to see that so many of the old farms, down to the divisions of the fields, are still the same. In some ways time stands still in Scotland.

This discussion of family vs place names may help explain my situation. My family name is Hemphill and we have good tracing back to approx. 1740 travel to US from Ireland (where there are lots of them). Numerous indications lead back to Scotland where a google map search for “Hemphill, Scotland” pins to a farm, just east of Moscow (Ayrshire). A street view even shows a very old iron sign of the family name. Old maps show it as “Hemphill” as does an old triangulation pillar on the top of the hill.

The question is “what came first, the place or the family?”
This is an interesting topic. I once found myself in an argument with a Texan. I said Houston was named after Houston, Renfrewshire, Scotland. He said Houston was named after Sam Houston. We are, of course, both correct. Sam was, as you are, descended from Scots-Irish, Ulster Scots, who were descended from Lowland Scots who emigrated to Ireland with government assistance in the 17th century. I sometimes watch American Football and a large proportion of the players run around with Lowland Scottish names on their backs. It is not the fact that they have Scottish names that is striking. It is that there are very few Highland names. No Mac's.

From news coverage, I have learned that there is a Crawford in Texas where one of your former presidents hangs out. I have no idea whether or not, that place is named after someone whose surname was Crawford or if someone from the original village in Scotland named it. However, I do know the surname Crawford came before the Scottish village. It came from Normandy with the Norman invasion.

Similarly, you might have some detective work to do with your surname. Obviously, Hemphill is a geographical feature. Hemp is a plant, as I am sure you know. However, your forebears may have come from Hemphill at some point. If you try the 'Scotland's People website you might be lucky. Unfortunately, many parishes do not have adequate records for the 17th century. But, some do. Some go back to the 16th. Good luck.

Good info, Billy. Crawford Texas, according to the Texas State Historical Association, was probably named for Nelson Crawford, who graded the river crossing in the 1850s. (Trivial Pursuit, anyone?)

+1 vote
Hello Bobby,  You probably have seen this but there is a Site called Nesbitt, Nisbet Society (British Isles).

It mentions that the Nisbet's have been living in Ayrshire since 14th Century. It goes on to mention a few famous Nisbet's associated with Scottish History.

Something about catching a Haggis. LoL
by Peter Callaghan G2G1 (1.9k points)

Hello Peter,

Since I've got Ayrshire Nisbets in my husband's tree, I'm very much aware of the group, but that's a good reminder. I did go and check their site for a place called Nisbet in Ayrshire. None found mentioned.

Can you catch a haggis?

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