A local historian`s view

The following extract from Elizabeth Anderson`s "History of Lochwinnoch" adds further to our knowledge of Orr. She resided (1993) at Warlock Gates Farm, Lochwinnoch and then a lady of mature years, she was an acknowledged authority on local history.

" You would perhaps note that Blair is still in the Kerse, and Millar was about Lochhead until very recently. What about Orr ? The Orrs were everywhere, but Andrew Crawford (Cairn) complained bitterly, in 1853, that that ancient family had not taken sufficient care of title deeds and other documents. Orr of the Langyard had lost all documents prior to 1703; the Kaim lost theirs in a fire of 1711; Jaffraystock, then called Jamphraystock, sent theirs to Edinburgh when they sold out to Macdowall, and had not had them returned, when Andrew Crawford was frantically recording Lochwinnoch history before it was lost. He did, however, unearth a great deal of Orr history. One important wedding was that of Robert Orr at Markethill, (a Midhouse Orr), to Janet Orr, daughter of William Orr of Lorabank and Auchinane. Documentation of that wedding is in the possession of Janet Orr Ferguson, a direct descendant. Lorabank was part of the Estate of Langyards, which was in the possession of Orrs for several generations.

Many Orrs emigrated to America. One, John Orr, born in 1724, settled in Richmond, Virginia. His son was the captain of a ship which was caught by the British in the Revolutionary War, and eventually he landed at Largs with no money. He refused help from his Lochwinnoch relatives when they gave advice about the spending of the money. He got home without their help. His brother, William, born 1731, was a surgeon in the American service. Both were loyal to the new country. The infant Congress was held in the Orr household.

Hugh Orr, born in Lochwinnoch in 1717, and reared to be a gunsmith and door-lock filer, went to America in 1737, and settled in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, where he set up the first tilt-hammer in that area, and for several years he was the only edge-tool maker. He was the cause of the spread of tool manufactures in many of the States. He manufactured 500 muskets in 1748, and in the war he was well established as an iron~founder and arms merchant. He also exported flax seed, and was for many years a senator for the county of Plymouth in U.S.A.. He died in 1798, in his 82nd year.

An interesting comment on the prolific Orrs is contained in a history of Lochwinnoch prepared by the Scottish Women`s Rural Institute c1960, kindly copied for me by the Community Museums Officer, Paisley Council, Christopher C Lee. They were so many Orrs that nick names were often used to distinguish one from another, At Annex I is a note on gravestone inscriptions at Auld Simon, the parish church of Locwinnoch.

" Without a doubt, the most common Lochwinnoch name was 'Orr'. Search through the Register of Marriages, and you will find the name 'Orr' again and again. Mr. William Glen has in his possession his family tree', back to 1802, and there the name keeps recurring. Andrew Crawfurd, in his notes on Alexander Wilson, mentions this fact. "Lochwinnoch was the headquarters of the Orre for above 500 years To distinguish the different Orr`s secondary names or even nick-names were resorted to. Wilson's pirn winder was Pirn Peggy (Orr), to distinguish her from Lochside Peggy, Gentle Peggy and Gospel Peggy.

A more recent Orr, related to William Glen, was Robert Orr of Cruicks Farm. He and his cronies William Stevenson of Gateside and Robert Speir of Balgreen, delivered milk to Lochside Station, but instead of going on Sunday, they delivered twice on Saturday. Every Saturday night they raced home with their ponies and traps, very often risking disaster as their wheels came perilously  close. Mr Speir of Balgreen ("The Pamphlet" named after one of his ponies) was extremely reckless. Another caper was to leave the pub after the milk delivery, go like the wind up Calder Street, along Braehead, and down the Craw Road - all with a pony and trap. It makes one's hair rise to think of it. In Johnshill can be found a relic of the days of horses. No 5 Johnshill, the house with the crowstepped gables, has a tethering ring in the wall ."

Orr Name Study Ulster Scots Reference material