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The History of Fettercairn
Chapter XVI.—Balmain and Fasque (continued)


THE estate of Fasque, including Balfour, was purchased, as already stated, in 1829 by John Gladstones, the eminent Liverpool merchant, who in 1835 obtained Royal license to drop the final "s" of the name, and who in 1846 was created a Baronet, on the spontaneous suggestion of Sir Robert Peel, then Premier, and at a time when such honours were very sparingly conferred.

A writer in the Scottish Review [Miss Florence M. Gladstone, daughter of Dr. John Hall Gladstone, F.R.S. of London. Scottish Revitw, Apr. 1896. See also Genealogist for Jan. 1893.] states that, in the thirteenth century, a tower on a rock near Biggar was occupied by the progenitor of the Gladstones, and that from the appellation of the "Gled's stane" the name became the patronymic of its owners. [The farm occupying the site of the old tower, about four miles north of Biggar, is still called "The Gladstone."] Be that as it may, it is recorded that, in 1296, "Herbert de Gledestan del counte de Lanark " swore fealty to Edward I. of England.

A Sir William de Gledstanes figured in the wars of the fourteenth century, and the "winged lion" (the device on his seal) was possibly the precursor of the griffin rampant of the Gladstone crest. Sir William, in his later years, possessed the lands of Cocklaw or Ormiston, near Hawick, and this place continued for centuries to be the residence of his successors. Sir William's son, of the same name as himself, and also a knight, received from the king in 1365 a grant of lands near Peebles. About the same time there were Gladstones in Forfarshire: for example, Andrew de Gledstane served on an inquest at Brechin in 1364 regarding the holding of the fair there; and at a later date (the commencement of the sixteenth century) Robert Gledstanes was owner of lands at Craigo. He may have been father of Herbert Gledstanes, a prominent lawyer and burgess of Dundee about the middle of the same century. One of his kinsmen was proprietor of Arthurshiel in the upper ward of Lanarkshire. Other notable personages were Herbert Gledstanes in the Scottish brigade of Gustavus Adolphus, and created a Swedish noble with property in that country; Mr George Gledstanes, Archbishop of St. Andrews from 1606 to 1615, Alexander his-son being Dean till 1638; Francis and James Gledstanes,. Covenanters, killed at the battle of Auldearn in 1645; and Captain James Gledstanes, of Fardross in County Tyrone, who raised a body of yeomen and took part in the defence of Londonderry in 1689.

During the eighteenth century the importance of the family may be seen from the valuation rolls of the southern counties of Scotland. Of the Lanarkshire (Arthurshiel) branch, John Gladstones of Toftcombs, near Biggar, had by his wife, Janet Aitken, a son Thomas, a prosperous trader in Leith, who married Helen, daughter of Mr Walter Neilson of Springfield, and died in 1809. Their eldest son was Sir John Gladstone of Fasque and Balfour, born at Leith on 11th December, 1764. Trained to his father's business, he became, at the age of twenty-two, a partner in the house of Corrie and Bradshaw, corn merchants in Liverpool. His business gradually extended to America, the West Indies, China, and Russia. By his enterprise, industry, and business faculty, he amassed a large fortune; and for his munificence in the disposal thereof, especially in the building and endowing of churches, schools, and other institutions, as well as on account of works of patriotism and public charity, it was well said of him by a recent writer, as of the centurion of old, "that he loved our nation and built us a synagogue." He built and endowed two churches in Liverpool, St. Thomas' Church in Leith, and there also a school, and an asylum for females, endowing it to the extent of 300 a year. He contributed largely to Trinity College, Glenalmond, to the fund for the endowment of the bishopric of Brechin, and at his own charge he erected and endowed a church, with a place of sepulture, at Fasque. Along with the Duke of Buccleuch he built the piers of Granton and Burntisland for the improvement of the ferry. One of his many improvements at Fasque was the transformation of the Bogs of Fodra, twenty acres in extent, into a beautiful lake, stocking it with fish and fowl. He erected the graceful spire of the parish church of Fettercairn, being for many years a regular worshipper there. A recent biographer writes: "Sir John was a remarkable man, of unbending will, of inexhaustible energy, and of absolute self-reliance; with a stern, strong, and imperious nature; pre-eminent in all those qualities which overcome obstacles, conquer fortune, and command the respect of the world." His eminent position as a merchant, together with his great talents and experience, gave much weight to his opinions on commercial matters. On mercantile questions he was frequently consulted by the ministers of the day. As a supporter of the protective policy, he contested the representation of Dundee and other places on Conservative principles. He acquired by purchase the estates of Balbegno and Phesdo; the former, as already noted, from the Hon. Donald Ogilvy, and the latter, which lies wholly in the parish of Fordoun from the late Alexander Crombie, Esq. of Thornton. Sir John was twice married: first, on 5th May, 1791, to Jane, daughter of Mr Joseph Hall of Liverpool, who died on 16th April, 1798, without issue; and, secondly, on 29th April, 1800, to Anne, daughter of Mr Andrew Rohertson, Provost of Dingwall. By his second wife, who died on 23rd September, 1835, he had four sons and two daughters. The sons were: Thomas, the second baronet, born in 1804; Robertson of Court Hey, Liverpool, born in 1805; John Neilson of Bowden Park, Wiltshire, captain in the Royal Navy, born in 1807; and the Right Hon. William Ewart, Prime Minister of England, born in 1809. Sir John died on 7th December, 1851.

Sir Thomas was a distinguished student at Eton and Oxford. He took his degree of B.A. in his twenty-third year, and three years later he graduated M.A. In acknowledgment of his abilities, his Alma Mater conferred upon him in 1853 the degree of D.C.L. From 1827 to 1829 he represented the constituency of Queenborough, Kent, in the Conservative interest, a cause which he ever afterwards upheld. From 1832 to 1835 he sat for Portarlington; and from 1835 to 1838 for Leicester. In 1842 he was elected for Ipswich, but shortly thereafter was unseated on petition, although no blame attached to him. At the urgent request of his Conservative friends, in 1865 he contested the county of Kincardine, but without success. He continued, however, to take a warm interest in the affairs of the party to which he was so devoutly attached. As a landed proprietor, Sir Thomas was most honourable in his dealings with his tenantry; and if on some occasions the uprightness of his dealings was mistaken for hardness, there was behind the exaction of the bargain a generous heart. He became, by the purchase of Littlestrath in 1854, of Glendye and Strachan in 1856, and of Balnakettle in 1863, the largest proprietor in the county, in the general business of which he took an active, personal interest; and in 1876 was appointed the Lord-Lieutenant. He largely promoted the volunteer movement, and acted as a lieutenant of the 4th Kincardineshire Volunteers. To encourage industrial occupations, he took a leading part, along with his lady and the Misses Gladstone, in getting up an exhibition of works of industry and art at Fasque in 1880; and a similar exhibition, on a larger scale, open to the whole county, at Stonehaven, in the following year. In the affairs of the Fettercairn Farmers' Club, Sir Thomas took the liveliest interest, by attending its annual meetings and dinners, by contributing liberally to its funds, and taking with his famous breed of polled Aberdeen and Angus cattle a leading place on the prize list. In parish work he took his full share, as a member of the School Board and of the Parochial Board ; the support of the poor being his constant care. Sir Thomas married, in 1835, Louisa, daughter of Robert Fellowes, Esq. of Shotesham Park, Norfolk. Of their grown-up family, the two eldest daughters, Louisa and Anne, whose works of charity and deeds of love were as numerous as they were unostentatious, died in London, a few years ago, within a few days of each other. A younger daughter, Ida, met with a serious accident, and she died at Fasque. With Lady Gladstone there remain Miss Mary and John Robert, who succeeded to the estates and titles, at the death of his father on the 20th of March, 1889. Sir John was born in London on the 26th April, 1852, and this auspicious event was duly celebrated by a festive meeting of the tenantry and others in the Ramsay Arms Hotel. After receiving a liberal education, and attaining his majority in 1873, Sir John entered the Coldstream Guards, and served in the Egyptian campaign of 1882, being present at Tel-el-Kebir, and also in the Soudan expedition of 1885. He was promoted to the rank of captain, but on his succession to the Baronetcy he resigned his commission; and now, residing for the most part at Fasque, he worthily follows in his father's footsteps.


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