First attempt at softwood tree forestation was made by Robert Fergusson at Glenapp
In February 1790, a smuggling cutter arrived at Ballantrae with tobacco and spirits from Ostend in the Netherlands. The local fishermen Robert Allan, John Coulter and Hugh Galloway used their boats to land the goods on the beach, where they were unloaded by John Cumming, William Galloway, William McKissock and Hugh Thomson, all living in Ballantrae.
Also in 1790, one of the five hogsheads of tobacco owed to John McWhirter by Hugh Aitken finally arrived at Guernsey. It was repackaged and put on board the Peggy, Robert Kneal master to be landed at Redbay in Ireland and then shipped by small boast to Ballantrae. The Peggy was seized before she reached Ireland. McWhirter started a court case against Aitken et al.
Statistical Account of Scotland reported that Ailsa Craig (spelled Elsay) was uninhabited but that the Earl of Cassillis received £25 Sterling a year in tenant rents, paid for from the feathers of the different sea fowls and the solan geese that breed on it, and the rabbit skins. Population of Ballantrae Parish was 770, of which about 300 lived in the village – all were contented, generally cheerful, and uncommonly healthy. Several mineral springs were found helpful in cases of scurvy, skin conditions and stomach complaints. The annual number of births was 18, averaging six to each marriage. About 12,000 sheep, 3,000 black cattle, a few scores of goats and about 200 horses were kept in the parish. The school had over 50 pupils in winter, dwindling to near half that number in summer. The old castle of Ardstinchar was now the minister's grass glebe. Migrating sailfish appeared in June, measuring 20-30 feet long, which the villagers harpooned for the liver-oil. This oil was sold to tanners and also used for burning instead of candles.
In September 1791, the Hawkins lugger with tobacco on board was being unloaded by six small boats from Ballantrae when she was chased off by a revenue cutter. The local customs officers must identify these boats so that they could be seized by the revenue cutter and taken to Ayr
Robert Ferguson of Finnart was the only parishioner owning a carriage, a luxury for which he had to pay tax
Hugh Kennedy of Bennan was the only parishioner who employed a female servant (likely a housekeeper/cook) not necessary for his livelihood or as a children's nanny over the taxation years 1785-1792
David Rodger, innkeeper, paid tax for two four-wheeled carriages
Innkeepers John McKissock and John Rodger each paid tax for their four-wheeled carriages
For this year only, tax had to be paid for owning clocks and watches. Ballantrae parishioners who were wealthy enough to own these were:
- Hugh Kennedy of Bennan (1 clock, 1 watch)
- David F Kennedy of Finnart (1 watch)
- Mr Donaldson, the minister (1 watch)
- Mrs Allan (1 clock)
- John McKissock, innkeeper (1 clock)
By 1799 the type of smuggling was changing. In July 1799, when Robert Williamson, the Ballantrae riding officer, seized a boat with her cargo of salt, it was rescued by Robert Coulter, his wife, Janet Wilson and their sons, James, Thomas, Robert and John. Williamson was maltreated ‘in a most daring way’.