James Murray Ferguson - Writer and Editor
Preface of Auld Ayr
The Following pages illustrate “Auld Ayr” since the beginning of the present century. They are chiefly complied from fugitive pamphlets issues from various printing offices, and, as gathered here, may assist the future Historian of Ayr in preparing a more complete History of the “guid auld toon.” In the meantime they will serve to illustrate the progress made by Ayr during the present century, and it is hoped may stimulate others ao aid in promoting that progress. The great bulk of the material contained in the volume was intended for publication in the “Ayr Observor” but the “pressure on our spaces by other matters” led to the issue of the supplementary sheets which form the present volume, and the occasional appearance of these sheets, it is hoped will be held as sufficient excuse for the want of continuity sometimes visible in the volume when looked upon as a narrative.
The Editor return his warmest thanks to those who assisted him with the material for this work, their cordial co-operation having contributed much not only to the value of the publication but also to the pleasure he has himself experienced in preparing it for the press. J.M.F.
Reminiscences of Auld Ayr is a collection various articles written by James’ Murray Ferguson, originally for “The Ayr Observer” newspaper under the heading of “the Recreations of a Member of the Press”. In the preface of this book he explains:
“At the request of numerous readers of “The Ayr Observer” it has been arranged to issue these Reminiscences in a more permanent volume form, many considering them to be of more than the passing interest they have attained in their periodical appearance in a newspaper......It has been much more a recreation and a pleasure than a labour or trouble to him to narrate them and in this spirit an attempt has been made to be more gay that grave. It is well to cherish the hope for the future; but it is equally well to look back with a degree of cheerfulness. It is to be hoped that reader will read them in the same spirit.”
With a nod to it being rather immodest and at the request of friends he also included an article from the Glagow ”Bailie” which was about his good self.
James Murray Ferguson - Provost
James Murray Ferguson was also the Provost of Ayr from 1888-1891. John Strawthorn wrote “Liberal ascendancy in the burgh came to an end when James Murray Ferguson became provost in 1888. The son of a tobacconist, he abandoned the trade to become owner of the Observer. He was renowned for “his geniality and his pleasure in the company of his fellows.” He was a Freeman and magistrate of Newton, Sessions clerk of Newton Parish Church, chairman of the Newton Parochial Board for its last twenty years. As a Provost of Ayr he significantly expanded local services. The Ayshire Post commented “that in some respects he was too daring a municipalist. During his provostship (1888-91) an Order was obtained to erect a generating station and provide a supply of electricity; also in 1890 were instituted those proposals which resulted in the opening of the Ayr Carnegie Library i (right) n 1893.”
An impressive gravestone in the "new" Ayr Cemetery serves to mark James Murray Ferguson’s life .
Erected by James Murray Ferguson and Helen Sinclair Malcolm his wife in lovIng memory of their children who died Ayr. Stephen b 4 Mar d 12 Mar 1885, Stewart b 21 Oct 1877 d 6 Jul 1903 Janie b 28 Aug 1892 d 9 Apr 1909 Murray b Aug 1875 d in South Africa 28 Sep 1909 also Jessie Craik or Malcolm beloved mother of above Helen S Malcolm d Ayr 20 Dec 1891 aged 71 also the above James Murray Ferguson b 3 Apr 1837 d 17 Mar 1916 also their daughter Jessie Craik b 20 Aug 1872 d 18 June 1925 and the above Helen Sinclair Malcolm b 5 Mar 1847 d 29 Feb 1932.