We are happy to welcome Heather Upfield, who has shared her experience researching the Five Women of Kilwinning, and her subsequent involvement in the naming of Bessie Grahame Court.
In October 2020, I completed my research into what is known of the Five Women of Kilwinning, who were accused of Witchcraft in 1650 and 1662. Most famous in Kilwinning is Bessie Grahame, who has been the subject of tales and stories going back through the generations, and who was convicted and burnt in October 1650.
Shortly after completion of my booklet, a local Councillor posted on a Kilwinning Facebook page, informing us that a new housing development was being built on the outskirts of Kilwinning, and he was asking for suggestions for names for the new streets. I immediately fired off a response! Who wouldn’t? I suggested Bessie Grahame and gave a short account of her story. Although I am closely associated with Kilwinning Heritage (our local history group), this was me responding purely as a Kilwinning resident. Aside from an acknowledgement from the Councillor, I then put the matter to one side, as Christmas and New Year rolled in, with all that it involves - especially during a hard lock-down!
I was stunned, when in February 2021, I received notification from the Councillor, that after discussion with Kilwinning Community Council and North Ayrshire Council (neither of which I am involved with), the name Bessie Grahame was chosen for one of the streets! I couldn’t have been more pleased.
So now there is going to be a Bessie Grahame Court in Kilwinning, and her name and history will live on in a kinder and more appropriate way (shown with a purple line on the plan above).
To anyone out there who would like to get a street named in their own locality, keep your eyes and ears open for new developments in the pipeline! If you are doing your own research, then my advice would be firstly to get involved with the local history society as they might well have documents and information in their archives. They are also keen to know about amateurs like myself, doing research in the area. They are often represented on Community Councils in some capacity and that is a bonus.
Heather's booklet The Five Women of Kilwinning is available to purchase, via Kilwinning Heritage.