The House of Wilson of Kilwinnet
In 1981, John George Wilson was recognized by Scotland's Lyon Court as an indeterminate cadet of the historic and honourable House of Wilson of Croglin, a Dumfriesshire landowning family. By tradition, the Croglin family bear the ancient chiefly arms of their name in Scotland, although they have never been officially recognized. John was later granted the territorial designation: 'of Kilwinnet' by Lyon Court in 1993. This followed his successfull purchase of the lands of Kilwinnet in Ayrshire in 1992 and not to be confussed with the family's other Kilwinnet in Campsie Parish, Stirlingshire.
The family of Wilson of Kilwinnet trace their line of descent back to the Ayrshire village of Mauchline. While there, they were initually involved in the trade of weaving for generations, and later, in the production of wooden Victorian souvenirs, known today as Mauchline Ware. Family member Robert Wilson was a partner in the firm of Davidson Wilson and Amphlet, while other family members were imployed in the firm's factory. Various other Wilsons were involved in the management and production of Mauchline Ware in the village's other large manufactury opperated by the brothers, W.& A. Smith.
The Kilwinnet Line of Descent:
- Mr (?John) Wilson, was of Paisley. It is said he presented to the Armour family the shawl worn by their daughter, Jean Armour, on the occasion of her marriage to Scotland's national bard and poet, Robert Burns. Mr Wilson's son Robert Wilson (2 below) was an admirer of Jean, although this feeling was not returned by her. The shawl in question was later returned to the Wilson family. Eventually it was bequeathed to a Mrs Robertson at Stirling in the 1880s, by a Miss Jane Ewing. Miss Ewing was related to the Wilson family, apparently when they were in Paisley. Miss Ewing was a boarder with Mrs Robertson when she died in her house. The shawl was later found on display in an Ayrshire museum by John where it had been on display for many years.
- Robert Wilson the "gallant weaver" by tradition, was said to be a native of Mauchline although he may have been born in Paisley and taken as a baby to Mauchline. His father belonged to Paisley. The Burns tradition tells us that Robert Wilson was a childhood sweetheart of Jean Armour. Robert made an entry in his bible in 1770 which reads: 'Robert Wilson His Bible 1770.' He later wrote: 'Robert Wilson his Bible written at Mauchline 6th Sept. 1771.' In 1786, the gallant weaver was in Paisley working when he was visited there by Jean Armour (now pregnant to Burns the poet). Burns and Armour were later married in 1788 after Jean's return to Mauchline from Paisley. Robert Wilson also returned or moved to Mauchline from Paisley, to marry a Margaret Thomson at Maybole in 1789. Robert had a large family and lived in Loudoun Street, Mauchline, where his widow died in 1855. Robert Wilson and Margaret Thomson are both buried in Mauchline Churchyard.
- William Wilson, born 1809 in Mauchline, was the second youngest son of the gallant weaver. He also worked in the village as a weaver and was married to a Margaret Duncan from the neighbouring parish of Sorn, in 1833. William, like many other members of the Wilson family, was later involved in the making of wooden snuffboxes and souvenirs when hand-loom weaving declined.
- John Wilson, the above William's oldest son, was the last of the family to work as a weaver in Mauchline. He married his second wife in 1862, Agnes Watt, a farmer's daughter from Tarbolton Parish. John eventually gave up weaving for snuffbox making.
- Robert Wilson, second son of the above John, married Marion Maxwell Johnstone* and lived for a time at Strathaven, Lanarkshire, before later moving to farm at the Hole, Campsie Parish, Stirlingshire. His son Johnstone continued to farm at the Hole while his other son George W. Wilson ( John's grandfather) went to farm at neighbouring Kilwinnet.
- George W. Wilson, farmer, Kilwinnet, had three sons.
- John B. Wilson, second son of George W. Wilson, is retired and resides in Glasgow.
- John George Wilson of Kilwinnet [Ayrshire], is the only son of the above and has a son, daughter and grandson.
- Robert Wilson of Kilwinnet, the Younger, lives and works in Ayrshire, as does his married sister Michelle.
Kilwinnet House, Campsie, 1993.
*You can view Marion Johnstone's family at: http://n.rowberry.users.btopenworld.com/johnstone.htm