Tradition has it that New Cumnock's Killing Day was drawn to a hellish close when the dragoons finally caught up with George Corson and John Hair on the lower slopes of The Knipes in the east of the parish between Waistland and Cairn farms ( the martyrs are
often referred to the Waistland Martyrs) and martyrdom swiftly followed.
The Reverend Simpson describes the scene: 'the dragoons pursued their way over the hills towards the farm of Cairn, beautifully situated on the slope of the range of mountains that lines the sweet
vale of the Nith on the south. At this place they came upon the two men in a hollow among the green and flowery braes, engaged it is supposed , in devotional exercises. The sound of their voices employed in prayer, or in the singing of psalms, probably attracted the notice of the soldiers, and drew them to the spot. The names of the individuals were Hair and Corson. The circumstances in which
they were found were enough to ensure their death and they were without ceremony shot on the spot'.
The Reverend Simpson explains that John Hair was one of five brothers that farmed at Glenquhary in the neighbouring parish of Kirkconnel, a few miles from the where they were apprehended. Why stop so close from home in the knowledge of what had gone before on the heights of Carsgailoch hill? The saintly two had probably realised that their time had come and rather than risk placing the occupants of Glenquhary in danger they took to their
bibles and sang their final psalm. Tombstones to the family of Hair can still be found in the ancient kirkyard of St. Connel close to the modern-day farm of Glenwharry. The surname Hair appears on two occasions (John Hair and John Haire) in 'A List of the hearths of the
paroch of Cumnock, Old & New' (1691) and appears frequently in the early parish records of New Cumnock (beginning 2706). Rev. Simpson records that a lineal descendant of John Hair was resident in the farm of Muirfoot (circa 1867). Less is known of George Corson, but the surname is common in Dumfriesshire and is
said to be of ancient origin since it is often to be found in the form of Acorsane or Ap Corsane strongly suggesting a British or Celtic origin (cf. Owen Ap. Urien).
With this strong association to Dumfriesshire and their place of martyrdom on the upper reaches of the River Nith it is fitting that the names of George Corson and John Hair appear on the wonderful Dalgarnock Cross raised in honour of 'The Nithsdale Martyrs'.
Information supplied with permission from Robert Guthrie of New Cumnock. See more at www.new-cumnock.co.uk