- Traced to 14th Century


M'Kerrell of Hillhouse

The M'Kerrells have flourished from a remote period in the shire of Ayr. The name Kiriell appears on the roll of Battle Abbey ; hence the family is presumed to be of Norman descent. Kiriell, Kirel, Kirrel, or Kerrell, (as at various times spelt), is a surname now very rarely to be met with. It is said to exist in Sweden, another proof of Normanic origin in Scotland, where the family of Hillhouse alone bears it.

The first of the name, and the most remote now on Scottish record, Sir John M'Kirel, distinguished himself at the celebrated Battle of Otterburn, 19th August, 1388, by wounding and capturing Rouel de Periné, who held the second command in the English host, and whose brother, the renowned Hotspur, was made prisoner by Sir John Montgomcrie, Í (from whom spring the Earls of Eglinton), in the same sanguinary conflict. That this Sir John M'Kirel was an ancestor of the Hillhouse family, the circumstance of the latter bearing the arms§ which he acquired by his prowess in the celebrated battle ... (click to full story)

Ballad of th Battle of Otterburn

The Hillhouse name was documented in The Lordship & Barony of Kilmarnock in 1547. Hillhouse's in Ayr can trace back generations to Adam Hillhouse who leased 20 acres of land and a house in the village of Failford beside the ruined Monastery of Failford. In the 20th Century a headstone still marked his grave in the Parish cemetery of nearby Tarbolton.

A Hillhouse family was neighbors and close friends of the poet Robert Burns' father near Tarbolton. The Burns family lived at Lochlea farm from 1777 to 1784, and it was here that Burns’ father died.


In rural Ayrshire the name is pronounced "Hillus".

Some family members were thought to have left Scotland for Northern Ireland sometime after 1638 during the disputes of the Presbyterian Covenanters with Charles I and his pressure of conformity.

James Hillhouse (1687-1740) of Ireland returned to Scotland to study theology at the University of Glasgow in the early 1700s and was ordained by the Presbytery of Londonderry, Ireland before moving to America in 1719.

Hillhouse Farm & Cottages -Kilmarnock
The proprietor James Howie bred and made famous a breed of Ayrshire cattle he named Hillhouse

Hillhouse Golf Lodge - Troon