Wayfarer Column- The Kennedy family knew how to keep on top

In many of the Wayfarer articles, mention has been made of the Kennedy family who ruled this part of Scotland by the ruthless use of the sword that kept many under their control. However in those times you always had to strike first with as much force as you could muster otherwise you would be crushed under by those wishing the power for themselves.

The Kennedy family was very adept at keeping themselves on top and ruled Ayrshire for many years, even though many of the fights they had were with other members of the same Clan. One very early tale of their ruthlessness is that of Loudoun Castle apparently known then as Achruglen, home of the Loudoun family. The Kennedys had a feud with this family for many years, there were very few families in the area that they did not have a feud with, and once when the Loudoun knight and his men were absent on some ploy or other the Kennedys rode in to take the castle. One of the Kennedy’s knew of a secret entrance by which they entered and called upon Lady Loudoun to surrender. This she refused to do and taking her nine children went into one of the upper chambers of the tower and refused to come down even when her aggressors had set fire to the tower. In their defense the Kennedy men did implore her to come down or at least send her children down, but to no avail and by then it was too late.

However all was not doom and gloom with this powerful family as James Kennedy founded the College of St. Salvator, St Andrews in 1456 and was also Lord High Chancellor of Scotland entrusted with the education of James lll. Walter Kennedy, born at Cassillis in 1478 took a degree at Glasgow University ultimately becoming its Rector. Another Walter Kennedy is ranked as one of the early Scots poets, so you can see that unless they were threatened they could turn to other less aggressive exploits and prove their worth to Scotland

However they liked a good fight and a Kennedy is known to have fought with Joan of Arc in France, another Kennedy, infamous for roasting the Commendator of Crossraguel in Dunure Castle, nobly stood by Mary, Queen of Scots at Langside and other members of the Kennedy Clan acquitted themselves well at Bannockburn and Flodden. . The following rhyme proclaims the power they held ‘Twixt Wigtown and the town of Ayr, Portpatrick and the Cruives of Cree, Nae man to think for to bide there, Unless he court a Kennedie.’ See you next week.