Chapter 5. The Lady Isle. Page 84
has been on the Lady Isle these days, knows that the surface is made up of boulders, stones and rough ground. But it was not always like that. At one time it was well turfed with plenty of good pasture, and because there was also a spring of fresh water, it was well stocked with sheep. As far back as 1811, Mr. Wm. Allasson of Troon was tenant of the Lady Isle, and was most annoyed at the number of people who landed on the Isle, causing damage to his flock, and stealing his rabbits. Not only were rabbits in great demand for food, but their pelts were used for making top hats.
Both in 1811 and 1813, the Duke's Factor offered rewards of Five Guineas for information leading to the discovery of trespassers on the Isle, which showed that there was a fair value in the let both to the Duke and to the Leasee. After all. Five Guineas in those days was a considerable sum of money. But near disaster struck the Lady Isle in June, 1821. Some person, either accidentally or on purpose, set fire to the "turf and pasture", and so destroyed the island's grazing for all time. The winter gales must have blown the island soil into the sea, and now only rough, coarse grass grows in bits and pieces. In June, 1829, the Isle was let to Mr. Wm. Fullarton of Skeldon, who had been provost of Ayr three times, and so was well known locally. Mr. Fullarton restocked the Isle with rabbits, and to this day, there are rabbits still on the island. Mr. Fullarton built a house or lodge on the Isle. Whether it was made of wood or stone, I have no idea, but it was broken into in April, 1831, and several articles stolen. Rewards of Two Guineas were offered by the County Authorities and another Two Guineas by Mr. Fullarton. However, the thieves were never caught. In January, 1832, the lodge was again broken into, and a reward of Two Guineas was made again. This time, the reward was followed by success, and in April, John Gray, Senr., John Gray, Junr., James Gray and Wm. Gray, all fishers in Troon, were arrested, and taken to Ayr Sheriff Court, where they were "charged with having on the 1st January, last, broken into and entered the locked lodge situate on the Lady Isle, belonging to, or in the lawful possession of Wm. Fullarton of Skeldon, Provost of Ayr, and with breaking several articles of furniture therein, and otherwise injuring and damaging the same. The panels admitted having entered the lodge, and ate some potatoes, but denied having injured the furniture. Two witnesses being examined for the prosecution, the Sheriff Substitute fined each of the panels in 5/- and ordained them to be imprisoned in Air Jail until payment within four days, to be liberated from prison. "The Grays seem to have got off lightly, but it looks as if the prosecution could not prove that the Grays had broken into the lodge, nor could they prove that they had broken the furniture. All that could have been done on some previous occasion by some other person.