North Ayrshire Heritage Trails
North Ayrshire Heritage Trails

North Ayrshire Heritage Trails

Irvine Cross

North Ayrshire Heritage Trails

North Ayrshire Heritage Trails

Cunninghame House from the Low Green.

North Ayrshire Heritage Trails

North Ayrshire Heritage Trails

Low Green, Irvine, birthplace of George Henry.

Irvine - Explore a medieval New Town

Sisters of Sinai, Middle East Scholars, Agnes Smith 1843 - 1926 and Margaret Smith 1843 - 1920

Twin sisters Agnes and Margaret Smith were born on 11th January 1843. Their father, John Smith, was a lawyer and their mother, Margaret, died unfortunately two weeks after they were born.

The girls had a gift for languages and had mastered French, German, Spanish and Italian at a young age. They attended Irvine Royal Academy and were also tutored by their father on subjects like Greek, Latin and Navigation, which were usually only taught to boys.

They settled in Cambridge and both married to become Agnes Smith Lewis and Margaret Dunlop Gibson but were soon widowed. Working out of Cambridge they travelled throughout Europe and the Middle-East learning new languages. They discovered many ancient manuscripts in monasteries in the East and catalogued collections, and were awarded several honorary doctorates by European universities.

Their upbringing in Irvine had fostered their independent and determined natures, leading them to make discoveries that shook the world of Victorian religion to its core by proving that the Christian Bible was the product of many translations and revisions. The book 'The Sisters of Sinai', by Janet Soskice, is a well-researched, page-turning adventure story for those who wish to find out more.

Useful websites

Agnes working with the reagent on the manuscripts at St Catherine's Monastery. Image reproduced with the permission of Westminster College, Cambridge.
Mrs Margaret Gibson on a camel in the desert, in 1892. Image reproduced with the permission of Westminster College, Cambridge.
Oil portrait of Agnes Smith Lewis. Image reproduced with the permission of Westminster College, Cambridge.
Oil portrait of Margaret Dunlop Gibson. Image reproduced with the permission of Westminster College, Cambridge.

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