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Ailsa Place

Also Ailsa Street and Place in Girvan - other Ailsa street names in South Ayrshire relate to the island of Ailsa Craig and Cassillis Street, Cassillis Road and Terrace in Maybole and Kennedy Drive, Dunure.

These names are all associated with the Kennedys of Culzean, who acquired the titles of Earl of Cassillis and Marquess of Ailsa. Sir John Kennedy of Culzean, who succeeded his father in 1710, had married Jean, the daughter of Captain Andrew Douglas, in 1705. By this marriage he acquired Scipio, a slave originally from Guinea in West Africa who had been purchased by Jean's father in the West Indies. Scipio was granted his freedom in 1725 and then entered into paid employment, serving as a butler at Culzean and taking the name of Kennedy. He had been taught to read and write. Living in a house near the castle, he married a local girl, raised a family, wove cotton and linen goods along with his wife, and is buried in Kirkoswald Churchyard. Sir John died in 1744 and was succeeded at Culzean by his brother Sir Thomas Kennedy. In 1759 Sir Thomas's kinsman the 8th Earl of Cassillis died without an heir and he succeeded to the title as the 9th Earl.

Like his father before him, Sir Thomas was secretly involved in the extensive smuggling trade being conducted on his lands. He appears to have had dealings with Robert Kennedy, a merchant based in Liverpool and engaged in smuggling via the Isle of Man. When the British government intervened in the Isle of Man in 1765 to stamp out smuggling activity there, Robert Kennedy turned to shipping slaves across the Atlantic from West Africa.

Between 1767 and 1774, he owned four slave ships all named Lord Cassillis, and when he retired around 1778 he left Liverpool to become a tenant on the Culzean Estate, living at Greenan Castle. While no direct evidence has emerged to connect the 9th Earl of Cassillis with slave trading, it is assumed that he would have invested in Robert Kennedy's voyages. (In 1831 the 12th Earl of Cassillis became the 1st Marquess of Ailsa.)    

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