We also know very little about John Clark. We know he was born in Ayr.(1) He married Dorathie Kennedy in Ayr on October 13, 1697.(2) Back then, the first order of business before you were married was to proclaim your intended marriage to the church. This was called a Bann. Banns had a fee attached called a consignation. John paid “two rings” for the consignation to register his marriage to Dorathie. On the record of marriage, the minister would begin the entry on the date that the groom proclaimed his marriage, which in John’s case was on September 25, 1697. He would leave the “were married on” date blank, and then later after the wedding ceremony, he would go back and write in the actual date of marriage. During the time period between the marriage proclamation and the actual ceremony, usually a month or so, Dorathie would be considered his betrothed.
Dorathie Kennedy, daughter of Alex[ander] Kennedy of Cloyntie, a farmstead in the parish of Kirkmichael, was born on April 25, 1669.(3) She had an older sister named Isobell Kennedy(4), also born there in Kirkmichael. At the time of her marriage with John Clark, Dorathie lived in the parish of Maybole, so the Kennedy family had moved about 3 miles down the road from Kirkmichael to Maybole. The Acts of Parliament that were passed in 1587 and 1594 show that the Kennedy Clan ruled over the coastal region on the Clyde of Firth, which includes Ayrshire, so it’s not surprising that John, living in Ayrshire, would marry into the Kennedy Clan. In fact, there’s a saying that goes . . .
‘Twixt Wigtoune and the town of Aire, and laugh down by the Cruves of Cree You shall not get a lodging there except Ye court a Kennedy.
Dorathie gave birth to at least three children, James Clark (1701-?)(5), Robert Clark (1702-?)(6) and Agnes Clark (1703-?)(7). At the time of their children’s births, John’s occupation is listed as a merchant in Ayr. He probably had a shop or pub in the Ayr marketplace. The marketplace was built in 1662, which was much like an open air market you see today. At James’ and Robert’s births, witnesses were James Tannahill, also a merchant in Ayr, and James Kennedy, who was a Late Deacon Convener. For Agnes’ birth, James Tannahill was still a witness, but the other name is listed as John Hutchison, wine merchant, of Underwood. The area of Underwood, where later in 1792 a three-story mansion was built, was owned by a John Kennedy. There were four continuous Earls of Cassilis named John Kennedy, from 1573 to 1759, so it’s possible that John Hutchison lived in one of the out buildings on the property, or he was the sommelier for the Earl of Cassilis. It is highly probable that he was also John’s uncle, or Henry’s brother-in-law, since John’s mother, Janet, was a Hutchison. Are you still with me? Click here for a partial tree that will explain.
An early nineteenth-century view of Ayr looking south over the original New Bridge, with the tollbooth steeple in the centre. The steeple had been rebuilt around 1726, and the main building around 1754.
The tollbooth from the south. There were cellars on the ground floor, and the prison was on the first floor with the council house and court house above it. The steeple held prison cells as well as the ‘dungeon clock’ of Robert Burns’ poem ‘The Brigs of Ayr’.
As a side note, in 1709, the tollbooth prison once owed a tavern bill of two hundred pounds, payable to James Tannahill, merchant, which was eventually paid by the city council. So James Tannahill was a tavern owner. It seems it was a common practice for the prisoners’ friends to feast and drink with them, and then charge the tab to the City of Ayr. That practice flourished for many years, and is a testimony to Ayr’s great economy during that time, albeit a somewhat corrupt practice. Click here for the entire story.
I found a record of death on a John Clark in 1742(8). It states that he was a “stranger at Drumdow.” Stranger was a nickname for a new-comer to an area. If this was our John Clark, then he may have moved about 13 miles from Ayr to Drumdow in Kirkoswald, or was just visiting, right before he died. It doesn’t say how he died or where he’s buried. It's interesting to note that John died the day after Sir John Kennedy of Culzean, 2nd Baronet, died. This Sir John was the great-great grandson of Sir Thomas Kennedy of Culzean, the peacemaker who was murdered by Johnn Muir and his brother. (See Battle over Ayrshire tab)