In November 1740, John MacKenzie's father (John MacKenzie) feued part of Carmyle. He was granted exclusive rights to the water in the bogs adjacent to the property, which had previously been commonly-held. The late MacKenzie then converted part of his lands to a bleachfield, and diverted the rivulet between Carmyle and Kenmuir to his property. After the death of his father, the younger John MacKenzie extended the bleachfield, and built wash-mills and a print-field on the land. He built a reservoir and a dam in the stream that James Corbet claimed diverted "every drop" of the burn-march to his property. In the late 1770s James Corbet brought action against John MacKenzie, declaring that a company in Glasgow had proposed that Corbet establish a bleachfield in Kenmuir, and he now required use of the burn-march. James Corbet argued that John MacKenzie was required to undo his diversions so that the rivulet could be shared with Kenmuir. John MacKenzie answered that his business depended on this diversion, which neither James Corbet nor his father had objected to in the past. He further argued that Kenmuir was not suitable land for a bleachfield owing to its lack of sun. Indeed, MacKenzie contended that Corbet was acting out of malice, and desired the destruction of the Carmyle bleachfield. Numerous local inhabitants acted as deponents in the case.

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