Today, as I delved once more into my family's history, the name 'Old Rome' appeared, much to my surprise. In 1851, John Burgess, a coal miner was living in Old Rome. He was born around 1811 at St. Quivox, just outside of Ayr and he is my 3x great grandfather on the Campbell side of the family; his granddaughter, Sarah (Kilpatrick), married Andrew Campbell, my great Grandfather.
John Burgess was born in St Quivox near Ayr about 1811 although I have not managed to find a birth record to provide evidence of his exact place and date of birth but the 1851 census gives his place of birth as St Quivox. I can find very little trace of John other than the one census entry in 1851. There is a possibility though that the name 'Burgess' appeared in different forms and it is possible that the family name was 'Bird' as a family very similar to John's can be found under this name.
John was married to Mary (Torrance?) b. about 1813 at St Quivox and in 1851 the following children lived at home:
Agnes b. about 1832 (age 19) b. St Quivox 26/06/1831 – possibly under the name Agnes (Ann) Bird
John b. 1837 (age 14) coal miner b. St Quivox
James b. 1840 (age 11) b. St Quivox
William b. about 1845 (age 6) b. St Quivox
Peter (age 4) b. about 1847 – born at Old Rome
Agnes is my direct descendant.
The hamlet of Old Rome is one and a half miles from Crosshouse. . In the 18th and 19th centuries the area was a busy coal-mining district but most of the houses have been demolished. The settlement is situated near the River Irvine.
Old Rome was pronounced 'Aul Rim,' Room' or 'Rome' in Scots means a small rented farm or croft - so no Italian connection after all!
There were miner’s cottages on the east side of the road within the hamlet but only mews cottages can be found today. By 1841 the population was 261, mostly miners, a worker at the distillery, a teacher and even two grocers; the 1851 gives 204 inhabitants with fewer miners and no whisky workers; finally 1881 gives only 31 inhabitants. (Wikipedia)
In the 19th century Coal pits were opened at Fairlie, Peatland, Templeton and Fortacres. The miner's rows were built at Old Rome at this time and a school and schoolhouse was opened, together with a blacksmiths. At first coal was sought where it lay at the surface in the fields, river banks, etc. and only when these were exhausted were bell pits worked. The village of Old Rome existed to provide accommodation for the miners and was abandoned when the coal available by these methods was exhausted. The last coal pits to close were Newfield and Fortacres in 1957.The main pit lay behind the present Old Rome Farm buildings. (Wikipedia)
A coal pit is marked at Old Rome in 1860, behind the Old Rome Farm, with two miners rows and a school. The school buildings survive as two private houses, being the buildings on the left before the junction for Symington. Although some of the coal was sold locally much of it went to Ireland. (Wikipedia)
When the Burgess family lived in Old Rome, Agnes, aged 19, was a muslin seamstress. Muslin is a cotton fabric of plain weave and it is probable that Agnes made or mended clothes.
Agnes married William Kilpatrick on 11th August 1854. The entry in the OPR states,
'William Kilpatrick and Agnes Burgess, both in this parish, gave in their names for proclamation on 21st July, were regularly proclaimed, and were married by the Rev. Alexander Willison, Dundonald, on the eleventh August, Eighteen Hundred and Fifty Four.'
Together they had eight children, with my great grandmother Sarah being the youngest, born in 1870.
Going back to the possible confusion over the family name 'Burgess/Bird' - Agnes gave the middle name of 'Torrance' to two of her children, Elizabeth and Mary. This could be because Torrance may have been her mother's maiden name and a 'Bird' family, John and Mary, can be found in Wallacetown, St. Quivox with children of the correct ages and names in 1841.
As ever, more research to do!