Today marks the 418th anniversary Prestwick Burgh erected anew as a burgh of barony. It is believed that Prestwick had already received a Burgh of Barony status from at least 1174, but it may have been earlier. Although there is uncertainty to the exact date the town originally received it’s burgh status, we do know that these rights were finally confirmed on 19 June 1600. This was in the form of a charter of novodamus by James VI as administrator, tutor and governor of his son, Henry the Duke of Rothesay confirming all grants by his progenitors to the Burgh of Prestwick and erecting it anew into a free Burgh of Barony (BP/1/1/9). This is an official confirmation of the rights historically granted to the Burgh of Prestwick and is pictured below.
Although Prestwick was formally erected a burgh of barony in favour of the inhabitants, during the 17th century it came under the influence of the Wallaces of Craigie. Prestwick Burgh had an unusual constitution based on the property rights of 36 freemen, known as barons, who held the entire lands of the burgh and re-allocated them periodically among themselves by lot. The freemen eventually gave up their rights to burgh governance with the establishment of the modern burgh in 1903 when it became a Police Burgh, although landholding had been normalised since 1850.
Our catalogue which displays the Prestwick Burgh records held by Ayrshire Archives can be accessed on our website.