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Annals of Garelochside
Chapter II - Agriculture; Eminent Men; Smollett Family; Dennistouns of Colgrain


A CLEAR idea will be gained of the general state of the parish of Cardross as it was sixty years ago, from a perusal of the short paper which Mr. Dennistoun drew up, at the request of the minister, the Rev. Archibald Wilson, for the new Statistical Account of Scotland. The geological character of the parish is of the secondary formation, the predominating rock being freestone, which is of a red colour, and friable in quality. On the north-west side of Killiter, an eminence at the eastern end of the parish, there is a considerable dyke of jasper, of a coarse, hard quality, interposed between the conglomerate and sandstone, and there are veins of limestone on the Camis Eskan estate, which however is more suitable for building than for fertilising purposes. Near the shores of the Clyde there are extensive banks of blue adhesive clay, covered with sand, intermingled with shingly stones, which are all submerged at high-water, and it might be possible to reclaim some of this surface by judicious embankments. One remarkable feature on the coast is Ardmore, " the great promontory," which is a conspicuous landmark on the estuary of the Clyde. At one time this would be an insular rock, from which, through the gradual recession of the shore, the waters have retired, and it is now united to the mainland by a flat neck of fertile soil. The rock, which is forty feet in height, is of the same formation as part of that on Killiter, half a mile distant, a conglomerate, in which rounded, quartzose pebbles are imbedded. In a sense the broad entrance to the Gareloch, comprising the bay in front of Helensburgh, may be said to extend from Ardmore point to the extremity of the Rosneath peninsula, after which it is suddenly contracted by the remarkable point at Row.

There were several families of considerable eminence, amongst them those of Dennistoun of Dennistoun, Spreull of Dalquhurn, Napier of Kilmahew, Bontine of Ardoch, Noble of Ardardan, and ' Smollett of Bonhill. Later on a few details will be given of some of the members of these houses, and of one or two of the more recent proprietors in the parish. The family of Geils of Geilstoun settled in Cardross in 1798, when General Thomas Geils of the Madras Artillery bought the properties of Ardardan and Ardmore from his brother-in-law, William Noble. The Geils family were a warlike race, and several of them served their country with distinction in the army, and they still own property in this and the neighbouring parish of Old Kilpatrick. A still older family was that of Donald of Lyleston, who acquired the property in the person of James Donald from the Nobles of Ferme in the year 1708. The latter owned it from the year 1537, and they again gained possession of it in 1890, when it was disposed of by the Rev. D. illacalister Donald to Captain Noble, C.B., of the Royal Artillery, who also, about the same time, again acquired the Ardmore estate from the Geils family, after having been out of the possession of the Nobles for about a century. Colgrain, which long was owned by the Dennistoun family, who first came into the district as proprietors in the fourteenth century, was disposed of in 1836 by James Dennistoun, sixteenth in descent from William Dennistoun, first of Colgrain. The purchaser was Colin Campbell, who also bought Camis Eskan, and whose family claim to be descended from Colin Campbell of Glenurchy, ancestor of the Breadalbane house. His grandson, William Middleton Campbell, is the present owner of the Colgrain and Camis Eskan estates, a merchant in London, and Director of the Bank of England. Kilmahew estate, so long the residence of the Napier family, who were territorial lords in the parish for centuries, is now owned by John William Burns, also proprietor of the fine estate of Cumbernauld, whose father, the late James Burns, one of the founders of the famous Cunard Steam-Ship Company, bought the property in 1859. Keppoch estate, now the property of Alexander Crum Ewing, was for a number of years in the possession of Mr. Dunlop, a well-known banker in Greenock, several of whose sons achieved distinction in different walks in Iife. He was a lineal descendant of the celebrated Principal Carstares, [This eminent man had no direct descendants, and the thumbscrews with which he was tortured passed at his death to his favourite sister, Sarah, wife of William Dunlop, Principal of the University of Glasgow. They had been presented by the Privy Council to Carstares upon their public acknowledgment of the baseless charges which had been brought against the latter. He was in the confidence of the leaders of the Presbyterian party, Argyll and others, then exiled in Holland, and was a trusted agent of the Prince of Orange. When subjected to the torture, Sir George Mackenzie, who was one of his persecutors, was constrained afterwards to admit, "All had on that occasion admired Mr. Carstares' fortitude and generosity, who stood more in awe of his love to his friends than of the fear of torture, and hazarded rather to die for Jerviswoode than that Jerviswoode should die by him." The thumbscrews were inherited by the Dunlops, now of Gairbraid, and long remained at Keppoch, and Dr. Story wrote a description of them, which appears in the proceedings of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries on 11th May, 1891. He also had the honour of exhibiting them to the Queen at Balmoral in 1886.] the trusted counsellor of King \Villiam the Third, of glorious Protestant memory, whose life, written by his relative, Dr. Story, Professor of Church History in Glasgow University, contains many stirring vicissitudes of an eventful period in our national history.

Agriculture in the parish, when Mr. Dennistoun drew up his account, was in a somewhat backward condition. A slight change for the better occurred amongst the crofter race, who largely peopled the lands after the rebellion of 1745, but until the end of last century the outlay of the proprietors extended little beyond the mains, or home farm, the small holdings being left alone. During the first forty years of the present century an improved state of matters had prevailed, and a large amount of money had been spent on roads, enclosures, buildings, and agriculture. Considerable tracts of waste lands had been reclaimed, and draining, levelling, and manuring had enhanced the value of the cultivated soil. Cottaries were turned into farms, crofts into convenient fields, and the sea ware which used to manure the land was everywhere being superseded by fertilising stuff from the farm yard, or imported from Greenock. The ancient occupiers of the soil were being converted into day labourers or artisans, and earned a good living, while substantial steadings replaced the dry stone hovels they inhabited. In a few places small holdings and short leases prevailed, but in the enlarged farms new tacks for nineteen years, stipulating for an approved rotation of crops and a fixed money rent, were mostly adopted.

Though much of the parish consisted of moor pasture, it was largely employed in grazing cattle and sheep purchased from the ti\Test Highlands. The low country being well adapted for dairy husbandry, a number of animals of the finest breed had recently been introduced from Ayrshire. Also the race of horses had been improved by a cross with the Clydesdale stock, and cattle of all sorts were rapidly gaining in quality under the auspices of an association recently formed in the county in connection with the Highland Society of Scotland. Though the district is remarkably well adapted for the growth of oak, the extent of natural wood was not great, and yet the evidence of ancient charters proves that in the country west of the Leven were situated the principal forests of the Lennox. On the Dalquhurn, Camis Eskan, and Kilmahew estates there were considerable oak, birch, and fir plantations. The fisheries were of small account, and there were yairs only at Ardmore and Colgrain, but large supplies of salmon were taken by the recently introduced bag-nets in the open Frith near Ardmore.

At that time the state of education was fairly good, and there was a parish school, of which the teacher drew 34 of salary and 24 of school fees, besides 15 as the average value of some grounds. The schoolmaster, in addition, acted as Session Clerk and to Mrs. Moore's Mortification, and this gave him 25 more. In addition there were five private schools, the emoluments derived from fees varying from 15 to 70. At these schools the usual branches were taught, the fees at the parish school being, for English reading 10s., writing 12s., arithmetic 14s., and for Latin 16s. There was also a good general subscription Library at Renton, containing 1000 volumes, and one at Geilston for the landward district with 400 volumes. The poor were well cared for, and the weekly collections from the parish church produced 120 a year, with 15 additional from various other `sources for the support of the 70 paupers on the Session Roll. Mrs. Moore's Mortification produced 228 from the rent of the estate of Ballimenoch, in addition to the interest on 1000 obtained from the sale of the freehold superiority. There were no public charitable institutions, friendly societies, savings banks, prisons or fairs in the parish, and considerable exertions had been made to check the increase of public houses.

The following is the account of the origin of the Moore Mortification as given in the Dennistoun MS.:-

"A servant in the family of \Vhitehill of Keppoch, named Jane Watson, had been in the habit of bestowing on her aged mother, who lived in the neighbourhood, a small piece of beef taken from the barrel, in which every Scotch farmer used to preserve his winter's supply. Making her way to the barrel in the dark one winter morning, Jane, by mistake, took out and wrapped up a fine tongue which had been placed there exclusively for her master's use. As it was cut up and partly used before she was aware of her mistake, no way seemed open to her to avoid detection and disgrace, and she therefore secretly fled from the house, and continued her course eastward till a stop was for a time put to her flight by the swollen burn of Auchenfroe. Sitting down upon the bank, and reflecting, no doubt, upon her past and present position, she is then said to have vowed that if she ever became possessed of the necessary means she would erect a bridge over the burn as a useful token of her penitence. Jane Watson proceeded to Leith, where she married a shipbroker named Moore, who afterwards settled in London, and was so successful in business as to enable his widow to exhibit, in a manner more munificent than she at one time ever expected, her sympathy for the poor of her native parish."

In former years the mosses and uplands of Cardross were covered with birches, pine and oak trees, and in digging in the moors, roots and trunks of trees are often encountered. Thick woods, amidst which roamed the wild animals of the chase, clothed the lands of Darlieth, Auchendennan and Bromley, intermingled with copse woods of hazel, willow and birch. The very name of Darlieth, the "grey oak wood," indicated the prevailing class of wood which was indigenous to the soil, and the name of the river which bounds the eastern portion of the parish, Leven or EIm river, shows that the elm tree once was a feature of the forest. At one period the whole of Scotland was thickly wooded, and the ancient name of those who dwelt to the north of the Forth, Caledonians, men of the Celyddon, or woodland thickets, is proof of this fact. The valley of the Forth from Balloch to Stirling, was once a continuous forest, and the famous Flanders moss, near Aberfoyle, was said to have been formed when the Roman invasion, under Severus, took place, by the vast quantity of timber he caused to be cut down. The highest hill in the parish, the Killiter, or "wood of the wet hillside," indicates that both wood and water were more abundant than now, and near Drumhead may be seen the site of an ancient lake which formerly received the accumulated waters of the uplands of the district.

From the pages of Dr. David Murray's masterly survey of the parish in Old Cardross, are gathered the following particulars regarding the old Tribe Lands, and the conditions under which they were granted according to ancient Celtic tenures. These charters also show evidence of the mode of life, and customs of the people at a byegone era. The lands were the property of the tribe or family, held for beboof of all its members, the arable land being subdivided at intervals of time amongst individuals—reverting to the community after a certain fixed period—and the waste and pasture land being common to all. From this custom arose the merklands, pennylands, and quarter lands, into which the soil was divided, also the baneful system of runrig, which so seriously hindered all improvements in agriculture. The word "tours," "town," or "tun," is frequently found in connection with the old tribe-land distribution of the soil, not to describe a settlement of individuals, but merely a farmsteading, or the centre round which a number of farm tenants dwelt. In the district leases of no very remote date, the town was often mentioned, as the town and lands of Havock, the town and lands of Succoth. In the parish of Old Kilpatrick there are some farms described as the "fourteen towns of Kilpatrick," from which the singular old feu-duty, called the "Watch mail of Kilpatrick" is payable as part of the revenue of the Constabulary of the Castle of Dunbarton.

During the 13th century the great possessions of the Earls of Lennox were becoming sub-divided and alienated, and the lands became gradually concentrated in different families, who continued to hold them in many instances till within recent years. \Vithout attempting to give a complete list of the lands in the parish, it will be of interest to summarise those mentioned by Dr. Murray. Commencing at the north-eastern end of the parish there are the two Dalquhurns, the Cordales, and Pillanflatt, part of which is now enclosed in the public park of Renton, and next Rosrivan and St. Sebastian. Beyond this on the low ground beside the Leven is the Mains of Cardross, and higher up Hill Acre, Greenhill, and the Cottary of Hillhead and Dalreocb, Sinkyholm and Henryshott on the high road leading to Dunbarton, and near the bridge on the Ferrylands of Cardross. Laigh and High Kirkton encircle the Ferrylands close to Cardross point and up to the high ground, on which are Kirkton lands and muir. Easter Hole or Foul Hole and Braehead succeed, with Sandybraes, Castlehill, and Muirhouses fronting them, and beyond are Upper Mains, Barbisland and Whiteleys. Near this we arrive at BlairshaIloch (or Willow Plain) with its castellated tower, and then to the north is Succoth. Nearer to the Leven are High and Laigh Dalmoak, to the west of which are North and South Kipperminshoch and Kipperoch, with Ardochbeg to the south. West of Ardochbeg is Kellochy, and beyond this Hawthornhill, or as it was formerly called Latriehill—the wet hill slope. Looking down upon the estuary of the Clyde is Clerkhill, and below this at the foot of the old sea beach is the Havock with Tartan Perrays to the west. We now arrive at the farm of Clydebank, which at the close of last century was taken out of the surrounding land by Mr. Robert M'Kenzie, who was then factor on the Ardoch estate.

Beyond Clydebank is the Lee, then Burnfoot of Ardoch, and ascending the burn Ardochmore is reached, where formerly the old mansion house of Ardoch stood. Wrester Ardoch, Craigend, and Walton lie beyond, and much of these were included in the old barony of Ardoch, long the property of the Bontine family. Bloom-hill, Bainsfield and Burnfoot of Auchenfroe succeed, and higher up Mildovan and Asker, also formerly a portion of the Bontine estate. Crossing the Auchenfroe burn the estate of Kilmahew is entered, which extends to Geilston burn. For many generations this ancient estate belonged to the Napiers of Kilmahew, one of the oldest branches of the Napier family, who were by marriage connected with the old family of Maxwells of Newark on the opposite side of the Clyde. Between Geilston burn and the Keppoch burn are Geilston, Ballimenach, Ardardan Noble, Ardmore and Lyleston, and to the north is Drumhead, or Blairhennechan, as it was called until the name was changed about the end of the seventeenth century by Archibald Buchanan of Glenmaguire, on his marriage with Isobel Buchanan, the heiress of the property. To the west of Lyleston is Keppoch, and then comes Colgrain, the two Camis Eskans, Little and Meikle, Drumfork and Kirkmichael-Stirling, the latter of which was originally part of the estates of the Stirlings of Cadder, and was obtained from the rival house of Keir by a villainous plot.

The improvements in agriculture and in estate-management which were gradually set on foot about the latter end of the 18th century, were commenced early in Cardross parish. It was only in 1747 that sheep-rearing was introduced into the county by Mr. Campbell of Lagwyne, and yet in 1782, when the Ardoch leases were renewed, the tenants were prohibited from keeping sheep. So unremunerative was this industry that even in 1796 sheep were only raised on three farms in Cardross. The lairds had small rentals, and a number of poor cottars were settled on the lands who mostly paid their rents in kind. Some of the former proprietors increased their wealth from various incidental sources, and in other cases their estates were sold to those who had money at their command. Thus the farm-steadings, roads, enclosures, and fences, were greatly improved, and considerable sums of money circulated in the district, and the tenantry were enabled to co-operate with their landlords in enhancing the value of the soil. Large tracts of waste lands were thus brought into cultivation, while what was formerly tilled was rendered more productive through improved systems of drainage and manuring. In Cardross parish the building of dykes and fences commenced in 1766, when a march dyke was set up between Keppoch and Colgrain, and Geilston and Ballimenach improved similarly by enclosure in 1770. In 1773 and 1774 march dykes were erected in Walton, Kirkton, Drumhead, and Dalreoch. The sheep-park and other home-parks at Ardoch were enclosed about this period, and cross-fences within the farms were constructed, provisions to this effect being inserted in the tacks and leases.

The land of old was held a great deal in runrig, rig and rig about, according to the number of tenants on the farm—one ridge belonging to one tenant, the next to another, and so on. The ridges were unequal, perhaps forty feet in breadth, and the crown of the ridge above could be ploughed, and commons and common property were numerous. As far back as 1569, the Common of Ardardan was divided between the proprietors of Ballimenach, Drumhead, and Geilston, though even after the division the lands were dovetailed into one another, and the lands of Geilston are still conveyed with the pasturing and grazing of six cows and one mare with a foal in the commonty of the 12 merk land of Ardardan—Macaulay. In 1783 Mr. Robert M'Kenzie, for many years factor on Ardoch estate, took a lease of two small parks where Dennystown of Dunbarton now stands, for the purpose of experimental improvements. At that time they were soft and boggy, but Mr. M'Kenzie got them drained, cleared of stones, and, after ploughing the fields, succeeded in raising good crops of oats and wheat. In 1789 he formed the holding of Clydebank farm, although it seemed unfavourable for agricultural operations, being open and unenclosed, full of brushwood, stones, and water. After draining, levelling, and ploughing the ground, putting in good supplies of lime and manure, it was brought into a full and profitable state of cultivation. Similarly, in 1773, the lands of Ardardan, under the energetic and skilful treatment of Mr. Walter Brock, were reclaimed from a waste condition to produce abundant crops. Colgrain estate, then and long owned by the Dennistouns of Dennistoun, was not reclaimed until the end of the last century, its public-spirited owner being presented in 1801 with a medal on account of his improvements. Part of Ballimenach in 1784 was a mass of stones, and Blartimore was of such poor soil that the tenant could dig peats close to the dwelling-house, and on the high lands of nearly all the farms in the parish were great tracts of waste, scrubby, and uncultivated ground. Kirkton and Drumsaddoch were, not much over fifty years ago, covered with whins, heather, bracken, and wood, with stretches of marshy soil and bogs, while now they present all the appearance of prosperous farms.

Rents of farms in the parish were very low in former days as compared with what are now drawn for the same holdings, and much of them was paid in meal, poultry, and eggs, while the tenants also were subject to "bondage," or services of various kinds which they had to render to their landlords. The rent of Hawthornhill, of fifty-two acres in extent, was, in the reign of Alexander III., 20s. per annum. In 1629 the whole value of the land would be about 60, or 5 sterling, and in 1657 its annual value under Oliver Cromwell's Act was 45 Scots, equivalent to 3 15s. sterling money. In 1806 the rent was 40 sterling, and the present tenant pays nearly as much per acre as was given in 1657 for the farm. The annual value of the two holdings of Kipperminshochs in 1367 was 16s.; in the reign of James V. it was 10 13s. 4d. Scots and twelve poultries, which afterwards became a feu-duty payable to the Crown. In 1550 the whole estimated capital value of the entire farm might be assumed to be about 33 5s. sterling; in 1657 the valued rent was 7 Is. 8d. sterling, and in 1880 the rent paid was 455. Ballimenach was purchased in 1708 by the Trustees of Mrs. Moore's Mortification for 11,500 merks Scots, or in sterling money about 639, the capital value of which is probably twenty times the original cost.

Keppoch, a compact and finely situated property in 1676 produced 144 Scots, or 12 in sterling money, and one hundred years later it was let on a 19 year's lease at 450 merks Scots or about 25 sterling. In 1820 Mr. Dunlop, a well-known banker in Greenock, who effected great improvements in the estate, purchased it for 12,820 sterling, and its annual value at the present time, is about 350, excluding the mansion house. Gilbert Graham of Knockdolian sold Ardochmore and Wallacetown about the year 1531 to Walter Colquhoun, the third son of the laird of Luss, for 278 merks Scots; and in 1625 Ardochbeg, Hoill and Dalreoch were apprised from Thomas Fallasdaill for a debt of 1100 merks Scots and interest, and were not redeemed.

In 1721 the estate of Kilmahew proper—consisting of the two Auchensails, Kirkton, Kilmahew Mill, and Mill Lands of Kilmahew, Drumsaddoch, the Barrs, Auchenfroe, and the Spittal of Auchenfroe, was adjudged from George Napier by Sir James Smollett for two debts of 12,896 1s. 4d. Scots and 1295 12s. Scots. In order to redeem his ancestral domain, George Napier sold in 1735 to James, eldest son of Sir James Smollett, the Auchensails, Barrs, and Drumsaddoch, with Wallacetown and Walton at the price of 33,152 Scots or 2762 sterling, being about 28 years' purchase of the then rental of 1200 Scots.

Alexander Chalmers, who was the tenant of Succoth farm, died bankrupt in 1735, when, owing to the need of realising the stock for the benefit of the landlord, it was disposed of by public roup, with the following result:—

The farmer of Succoth, John Leckie; a former tenant, died bankrupt in July 1661, leaving an estate worth 158 Scots.

The foregoing most interesting information from Old Cardross gives a good idea of the condition of agriculture in the parish during the past century. In the same work will be found many curious illustrations of the style of houses in which both the lairds and the farmers lived, the food of the farm servants, and the very small wages for which they gave their services. The cottages were just built of dry stone, cemented with mud or clay, a door so low that you needed to stoop before entering, windows with no glass, the fire on the floor, and the smoke found its way outside through a hole in the roof. The ordinary fuel was peat, sticks, and whins, and in summer the servants rose at four in the morning and toiled on to nine or ten o'clock at night. While the servants lived in such a condition of drudgery, the owners of the soil evidently had but a small share of worldly goods and chattels, and money was a scarce commodity. Even such a laird as William Dennistoun of Colgrain when he purchased, in 1683, ten bolls of here from MacAulay of Laggarie, at the price of eight merks a boll, was obliged to grant a bond for the same of 4 8s. 10d. sterling. In 1676 John Semple of Fulwood, granted his bond to William M'Farlane of Drumfad for 1620 Scots, or 135 sterling, having as cautioners William Dennistoun of Colgrain, Thomas Fleming of Dalquhurn, William Semple of Dalmoak, and John Bontein, fiar of Geilston. In spite of all these securities the lender of the money had to go to the process of horning and poinding before he could get repayment. On 5th February, 1732, George Napier of Kilmahew granted to George Mitchell of Glasgow a bill for 6 5s. 31d. sterling, payable on 1st June at Mr. Shiells' coffee-house, and the bill being dishonoured legal proceedings had to be instituted for its recovery. Another illustration of the slender resources of the Cardross lairds is thus recorded: "In a scheme of the income and expenditure of Captain James Smollett of Bonhill, in 1735, the sum of 400 merks, or 22 4s. 5d., is set aside for the support of his brother Archibald's two younger children, one of whom was the celebrated Tobias Smollett, 'until they are twelve years old.' Small though this sum may appear, the provision made at the same time for the widow of Sir James Smollett—Old Lady Bonhill, as she is termed in the scheme—stepmother of the novelist, was but twice the amount, 44 8s. 10d."

The old mansion of Dalquhurn at Renton, where the Smolletts of Bonhill long resided, and in which the novelist was born, is described by Mr. Macleod in his volume on the Leven district as follows :"The site of the old house Dalquhurn, in which Tobias Smollett was born in 1721, is embraced within the bounds of a field at the south end of the village, over-looking the Leven. Dalquhurn House was a three storey, gaunt, prosaic building, of a severely plain style of architecture. Its northern front showed unadorned walls, pierced with three oblong windows in each flat. It had a one-storey wing at its west end, the whole being surrounded by a low wall. The old mansion house stood on a commanding knoll, which dominated the river at one of its most beauteous links. Its northern windows commanded a fine view of the Leven valley, and from its southern ones prospects of the castle and town of Dunbarton, and their beautifully diversified surroundings, could be obtained, so that while the `auld hoose' was itself unlovely, its position was most attractive." At that period the scenery of the Vale of Leven was rich and pastoral, the verdant meads laved by the clear waters of the rapidly,fiowing stream, and its uplands diversified by a blending together of arable lands, woods, and great stretches of heather. As yet there were none of the great Turkey-red works which have been such a source of wealth to the Vale of Leven, and the landscape presented a scene of Arcadian peacefulness and beauty which is alluded to in Smollett's fine Ode to Leven later.

"Pure stream, in whose translucent wave
My youthful Iimbs I wont to lave;
No torrents stain thy limpid source,
No rocks impede thy dimpling course,
That sweetly warbles o'er its bed,
With white, round, polished pebbles spread
While, lightly poised, the scaly brood
In myriads cleave the crystal flood."

The Smolletts of Bonhill, who long resided at Dalquhurn, and owned much of the land in the parish, are an old family who still possess the estate, and some of whose members achieved distinction. John Smollett, the first of the family, occupied a good position in the burgh of Dunbarton as a merchant and bailie about the year 1504. His son John was one of the commissioners appointed to negotiate with the burgh of Renfrew regarding the navigation of the Clyde. Tobias Smollett who was designated as of Over Kirkton, was bailie of Dunbar-ton, and was slain at the battle of Glenfruin in 1603. Another John Smollett was bailie depute of the Regality of Lennox, and provost of Dunbarton for a number of years, and died about 1680. Sir James Smollett his son was the first proprietor of Bonhill, which he purchased in 1684 from the Lindsays. He was educated at the University of Glasgow, and in 1665 was apprenticed to a Writer to the Signet in Edinburgh, but after his marriage to Jane Macaulay of Ardencaple, he commenced business on his own account as a writer in Dunbarton. In 1685 he was chosen as commissioner from the burgh to the Parliament, and this appointment was continued during twelve successive Parliaments. About the time of the Revolution of 1688 he came under the suspicion of the Jacobite party as one who favoured conventicles, and he felt it necessary to remove with his family to Edinburgh. In 1698 he was made a Judge of the Commissary Court of Edinburgh, and was knighted by King William III. Sir James was nominated as one of the commissioners who were empowered to treat regarding the Union between England and Scotland, a measure which he warmly supported, though his Dunbarton constituents were averse to its being passed. By a Minute of Council dated 4th October 1706, it was resolved that their representative "declare their dislike of and dissent from the articles of Union, as in their judgment inconsistent with and subversive of the fundamental laws and liberty of the nation," and a petition was also forwarded from the Burgh of Dumbarton to the same effect. Sir James, however, resolved to continue his support of the Union, as conducive to the best interests of the kingdom, and showed his constituents that their action interfered with his independence. He was created a Deputy-Lieutenant of the county in 1715, whets he received a letter from the Duke of Argyll, who wrote, "I am very sensible of the good affection of your shyre for his Majestie's person and government, and I don't at all doubt but you will exert yourselves upon this occasion, for supporting me in reducing the rebells now in arms against their Protestant King, in favour of a Popish Pretender." Besides being elected as ruling elder to represent the burgh in the General Assembly of the Church, Sir James was nominated one of the Commissioners appointed to visit and report upon the Universities and Schools in Scotland. He died in 1731, and was succeeded by his grandson James, a lieutenant in Captain Paget's regiment, who largely increased the family estates by the purchase of Kilmahew from George Napier in 1735, and other properties. Upon his death in 1738 he was succeeded by his cousin James, who was Commissary of Edinburgh and Sheriff-Depute of Dunbartonshire. He was a man of enlightened views, and of a very charitable disposition. He purchased the beautiful estate of Cameron, where the Smollett family now live, in 1763, and he and his successors have since resided at this finely situated house on the banks of Loch Lomond. Here he entertained Dr. Johnson and James Boswell on their return from the adventurous journey in the Highlands. []From Boswell's Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides the following is extracted: "Mr. Smollett was a man of considerable learning, with abundance of animal spirits, so that he was a very good companion for Dr. Johnson, who said to me, ' We have had more solid talk here than at any place where we have been.' I remember Dr. Johnson gave us this evening an able and eloquent discourse on the `origin of evil,' and on the consistency of moral evil with the power and goodness of God. He showed us how it arose from our free agency, an extinction of which would be a still greater evil than any we experience. I know not that he said anything absolutely new, but he said a great deal wonderfully well; and perceiving us to be delighted and satisfied, he concluded his harangue with an air of benevolent triumph over an objection which has distressed many worthy minds, `This then is the answer to the question "Hoften ro Kaeov."' Mrs. Smollett whispered me that it was the best sermon she had ever heard. Much do I upbraid myself for having neglected to preserve it."

With James Smollett, the Commissary, the direct male line of Sir James's descendants ended, as he had no issue. The estate reverted to the heirs of Archibald Smollett, the fourth son of Sir James, who had married Barbara Cuningham of Gilbertfield, and had two sons and one daughter. One of the sons was the novelist and historian, Tobias Smollett, who was born in 1721, and died at Leghorn, in Italy, in 1771, in the 51st year of his age. He was apprenticed to a surgeon in Glasgow, Gordon by name, and then went to London in 1739, and soon after entered the Royal Navy as surgeon's mate, but after a short experience retired from the service. About the year 1746 he returned to London, and tried to practice as a physician, in which he had but small success. From henceforth he devoted himself to literature, and wrote several novels which brought him fame and money, and his most important work, the continuation of Hume's History of England. His cousin, James Smollett of Bonhill, who did little to assist the impecunious author during his life, erected an elegant column of Tuscan architecture to his memory, which may be seen in the village of Renton, beside the public road. The long Latin inscription upoii the pedestal, written chiefly by Dr. Stuart, Professor of Humanity in Edinburgh University, records the claims of Smollett to literary distinction. On the death of James Smollett without issue, the estate of Bonhill devolved upon his cousin Jane, who married Alexander Telfer of Scotston, and assumed the name of Smollett, and was succeeded by her son, Alexander Telfer Smollett, who married Cecilia Renton, one of the beauties of Edinburgh, after whom the village of Renton, built upon the Smollett property, was named. Alexander Smollett died in 1799, and had issue, Alexander, a colonel in the army, and member for the county of Dunbarton, who was killed at the battle of Alkmaer in Holland. His brother John succeeded, and married first Louisa, daughter of William Rouet of Auchendennan, and secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of the Honourable Patrick Boyle of Shewalton, Lord Presindent of the Court of Session.

Admiral John Rouet Smollett, who succeeded to Bonhill, was a type of the naval officer of the last century, plain of speech and somewhat eccentric in dress, but of a kindly disposition. He died in 1842, in the 75th year of his age, and was succeeded in the family estates by his son, Alexander Smollett, who was born in 1801. The new laird of Bonhill was, in every respect, a true representative of a Scottish proprietor who continually resided on his estate, and whose earnest desire was to add to the happiness and prosperity of every one with whom he was brought in contact. He shewed great judgment in the management of his extensive property, and in 1866 rebuilt the family mansion at Cameron, which now presents a fine baronial aspect on the beautifully wooded banks of Lochlomond. The town of Alexandria may be said to owe its existence to AIexander Smollett, and at all county meetings his sound advice and intimate knowledge of public business made him a trusted counsellor. From 1841 to 1859 he represented Dunbartonshire in Parliament, in the Conservative interest, and he was a devoted adherent of the Church of Scotland, to whose schemes he was a liberal benefactor.

On Alexander Smollet's death in 1881, lamented and esteemed by all who knew him, his brother, the late Patrick Boyle Smollett of Bonhill, succeeded to the estate. Having, early in the present century, left his country to seek a career in India, it was only late in life that Patrick Smollett was much known in BonhilI. He was educated at the old High School of Edinburgh, where one of his schoolfellows was the eldest son of Sir Walter Scott, and another the late William Forbes of Medwyn. Young Smollett boarded with a clergyman who lived in Brown Square, and opposite was the house of Lord Glenlee, one of the judges, and he used to watch the old judge dressing in his robes in the morning, and marching with his cocked hat on across the Cowgate to the Parliament House. In his father's house in Queen Street, while attending the University, he often met Sir Walter Scott, and he remembered the sensation caused when Sir Alexander Boswell of Auchenleck was shot in a duel by Stuart of Dunearn. He- used to see Sir Walter also at Ross Priory, on Loch Lomond, the seat of Mr. Macdonald Buchanan, and Sir Adam Ferguson used to visit his father at Cameron House. After leaving the University of Edinburgh, young Smollett went to the East India Company's College at Haileybury, where, among his instructors, were Sir James Mackintosh and the famous Malthus. About the year 1824, when he was twenty years old, Patrick Smollett got an appointment in the Board of Revenue, Madras, and was afterwards made Secretary to the Board. After a time the Governor of Madras, Lord Elphinstone, offered him the post of Agent to Government at Vizagapatam in 1843, where he had great powers, both judicial and revenue, and here he remained till 1857, when he quitted the service upon a moderate pension. On his retirement Mr. Smollett carried with him the respect and regard of the native gentry, and of the whole native agricultural community.

Returning to London, Patrick Smollett began to employ his active mind in political affairs, and in 1859 when his brother Alexander retired from the representation of Dunbartonshire, he was invited to contest the county, and was successful. He continued to represent the county till 1868 when he resigned, rather than face an expensive contest. Once more again he entered Parliament in 1874, this time for Cambridge, and sat for the burgh till the year 1880. His speeches in the House of Commons were vigorous and racy, and sheaved an intimate acquaintance with Indian affairs, and he mercilessly exposed any extravagance or abuses in the Indian Civil Service, while his absolute independence made him dreaded by the officials, whose ill-will he lightly esteemed. On several occasions he crossed swords with Mr. Gladstone, and the House greatly enjoyed the quaint and peculiar humour of the descendant of Tobias Smollett. In 1881, on the death of his brother Alexander, Mr. Smollett succeeded to Bonhill, where he constantly resided, and discharged his various duties of Convener of the county, and chairman of different local boards with exemplary fidelity. Recognising his self-denying labours his friends and neighbours presented him, in September 1893, with his portrait, and a copy was placed in the county buildings at Dunbarton, beside that of his brother Alexander. In spite of his great age Mr. Smollett was regularly found on the moors every 12th of August, till within two years of his death, and to the very last he retained his tenacious memory, and great mental activity, shewing an intimate acquaintance with passing events. Like his brother, Patrick Smollett was never married, and peacefully passed away from this earth on 11th February 1895, the last scion of that branch of the Smolletts of Bonhill. A very large concourse of mourning friends and neighbours followed in the funeral procession to the cemetery at Alexandria, the chief mourner being his cousin Captain James Drummond Telfer, of Glenview Hall, Hereford, who has succeeded to the estates of Cameron and Bonhill.

Thus died, in the 92nd year of his age, one who possessed mental gifts of no common order, and a politician who, although holding pronounced Conservative views, yet fully recognised the need of admitting all the respectable classes of the community to share in the electoral franchise. Having had the opportunity of hearing from Mr. Smollett, reminiscences of his early days at Cameron, and in Edinburgh, the author is able to give some details of that period. His father, the Admiral, was a regular old sailor, who went about shabbily dressed, and one day coming out of his avenue gate was accosted by - a beggar, with the question, "did ye get onything there?" His mother was a kindly old lady, who regularly gave the deserving poor from the neighbouring villages a supply of meal and other articles, and they were allowed to warm themselves by the kitchen fire on these fortnightly visits. The village of Renton in those days was only a row of cottages, called the "Red Row" for the workers at Dalquburn dye-works. What is now the flourishing town of Alexandria, was then only a cluster of thatched cottages, known locally as "the Grocery," from a shop kept by John Campbell for supplying such goods. A butcher, a shoemaker, and two public-houses ministered to the necessities of the neighbourhood, and the carrier went up to Glasgow on Monday, returning on Wednesday with the requisite goods. All the way from Renton to Alexandria, where now is a continuous row of houses and public works, in these days were green fields in which young Smollett used to shoot rabbits and hares. The old family mansion of the Smolletts, in Dunbarton, was then in existence on the south side of the High Street, but in a dilapidated condition, and was three storeys high, with an old-fashioned crow-stepped gable projecting on to the street. One or two of the stones of the mansion, which was built in 1661 by Margaret Smollett, may yet be seen, though the house itself no longer exists. In those days the old Elephant Inn was the great hostelry in Dunbarton, which was kept by Mrs. M'Nicol, and there was always a large number of post-horses for the use of the county families when they drove to Glasgow or Edinburgh. Patrick Smollett used to post with his father to Edinburgh, but afterwards he made the voyage in Henry Bell's small steamer, the Comet, from Dunbarton to Glasgow. He remembered how she sometimes went aground when off the mouth of the Cart, and the passengers would run rapidly from side to side with the view of moving the vessel.

Cameron House was built about 1790, and was a modest, old-fashioned building, but was enlarged in 1812 by Admiral Smollett, and only a small portion of the first house remains in the present mansion. His father brought the most of the estate into cultivation when Patrick Smollett was a boy, and spent a great deal in draining and building suitable farm-steadings. He used to shoot on the moor, which came down to the high road near Cameron, and got abundance of grouse, black game, and woodcocks, while there were various birds, not now to be seen which frequented the shores of the loch, such as owls, hawks, herons, kingfishers, etc. Capercailzies were encountered occasionally, but most of the winged game has well nigh disappeared, with the exception of pheasants. In those days only the Duke of Montrose and Sir James Colquhoun kept gamekeepers, and the modern system of battue shooting was unknown. The farmers came to Cameron house to pay their rents to the steward, and some of them brought live poultry with them as part of the rent. They were a primitive set, and Mr. Smollett remembered one old farmer, who had lived for sixty years on Auchensail, telling him that during that time he had only once been at Dunbarton. Smuggling was a great institution, and was openly pursued, and once he remembered seeing a party of twenty smugglers passing along the road near Cameron, with a piper at their head, taking a large supply of whisky to Dunbarton for sale. He knew where four illicit stills were at work on Cameron moor, and could see the smoke of five others rising from the grounds of Balloch and Boturich on the opposite side of Loeb Lomond, and the gaugers were set at defiance by those engaged in the contraband trade. Some of the Highland proprietors who were in the way of dealing in cattle and sheep, used to stay at Cameron on their way to the well-known Carman market, held on the moor above Dunbarton, regular visitors being Ai llNeill of Colon-say, and his brother of Oronsay. Their cattle and sheep were pastured in the fields, and many dealers came all the way from Norfolk and Suffolk to purchase stock. Much kelp also was sold by the M`Neills to the Dixons of Levengrove for their glass works, and after a fortnight's stay in the hospitable house of Cameron, the brothers would wend their way back to their island homes by way of Glencroe. The Dunbartonshire lairds then were glad to increase their means from sundry incidental sources, but several of them were obliged to alienate their cherished family acres. Towards the close of last century the farm-steadings, roads, enclosures, and fences, were much improved, more money circulated in the district, and the tenants were able to co-operate with the landlords in enhancing the value of the soil. Considerable tracts of waste lands were thus brought under cultivation, and what was tilled was rendered more productive through improved systems of drainage.

A still older family, whose representatives long possessed extensive lands in Cardross, is that of Dennistoun of Colgrain, the proud boast of one of them being, "Kings have come of us, not we of kings." Sir William Denzelstoun, the first of Colgrain, third son of Sir John Denzelstoun of that ilk, is designed in a deed in favour of the church of Glasgow, in 1377, as "Dominus de Colgrane et do Cambesescan," and was one of the household of the unfortunate Prince David, and received a pension of 20 merks out of the great customs of the burgh of Dunbar. In 1455 Charles Denzelstoun of Colgrain is mentioned as witness to a deed, and in 1481 died, seized in the lands of Col-grain, two Camiseskans, Auchendennan, and Cameron. Passing by several of the family, we come to Robert Denzelstoun, who seems to have been concerned along with the Earl of Glencairn in treasonable correspondence with Henry VIII. of England. He also sought to protect his property from the lawless invasion of some of the Highland clans, and had a commission from the tenants and occupiers of his lands to recover the goods spuilzied from them by John Colquhoun of Luss, Duncan Macfarlane of Arrochar, and others. In 1638 the family is represented by John Dennistoun of Colgrain, a strong supporter of the royal cause, his many services being at last crowned with the sacrifice of his life. The Earl of Glencairn having been appointed by Charles II., in 1653, Commander-in-Chief of the Royalist troops in Scotland, granted commissions to Dennistoun in November and December of that year. Monk, Couper, Argyll, and other Parliamentary leaders, came to Dunbarton in 1654 "advising on a hard and sorrowful work, what houses and what corn to burn." Very soon they apprehended John Dennistoun as one of the most active Royalists in that part of the country. He subsequently died, after lingering for many months, of a wound he received in the Highland expedition in 1655. He left three daughters, failing whom the property was to go to William Dennistoune of Dalcluhurne, the son of Archibald Dennistoune, minister of Campsie, who now came into the direct Iine of succession to the estate. William Dennistoune being unable to maintain his rights against various interested parties, was obliged to live in retirement, although he was a strong supporter of the Tory party. He was nominated as Commissioner for the County of Dunbarton in the Acts of Supply for the years 1678-1685 and for 1704. He was succeeded by his son John, who, during his occupancy, cleared the estate of debt, and left it to his son much enhanced in value, and also was a warm supporter of the Jacobite cause. James Dennistoun in 1752 had a resignation from his father of the family estates, reserving to the latter his life-rent of the mansion-house. He would have joined Prince Charles Edward in 1745 had it not been for his father, and ultimately took the more prudent and profitable course of devoting himself to commercial pursuits. He gave up the estate to his eldest son, and resided in Glasgow, becoming one of the leading Virginian merchants in the city. His son James, who succeeded in 1796, on the other hand, preferred a country life, though very successful in mercantile pursuits, and was chosen Convener of the county, holding this office till his death. lie was an enthusiastic supporter of the Militia and Volunteer forces, and long commanded the regiment of Dunbartonshire local Militia. Another James Dennistoun, son of the preceding, succeeded to the family honours in 1816, and in 1825 he acquired from Sir James Colquhoun of Luss the lands of Drumfork in excambion for those of Auchenvennal Mouling. He also established his right to the designation of Dennistoun of Dennistoun.

In 1834 there succeeded to the estate the man whose intellectual and literary acquirements shed lustre upon the name—James Dennistoun of Dennistoun. He was born in 1803 and lived a considerable part of his life at Scotstoun with his grandfather, Mr. Oswald. After having studied at Glasgow University, where he gave great promise of future scholarly eminence, he passed advocate in 1824, and very soon turned his attention to literary matters. He became a member and contributor to both the Bannatyne and Maitland Clubs, which had been started with the laudable intention of aiding archeological researches, and elucidating and tabulating recondite and abstruse subjects in connection with our Scottish history. Mr. Dennistoun presented to the Bannatyne Club an edition, drawn up by himself of Moysie's Memoirs of the Affairs of Scotland from 1577 to 1603, in addition to which he edited for the Club The Cartularium Comitatus de Levenax, The Coltness Collection, and The Cochrane Correspondence. He also contributed to the Miscellany of the Maitland Club "Letters from Henry II. King of France to his cousin, Mary, Queen Dowager of Scotland," and other valuable papers. In 1825 he made a long tour on the Continent, and met at Rome his future wife, Miss Wolfe Murray, daughter of Lord Cringletie, one of the Lords of Session, whom he married in 1835. Next year he was reluctantly obliged to sell the fine old family estate of Colgrain, and afterwards purchased Dennistoun Mains in Renfrewshire, the property from whence his family designation was derived. From this time his studies seemed directed more towards artistic subjects; while family genealogies and local topography appeared to be left in abeyance, and he contributed elaborate and scholarly articles to the Edinburgh and Quarterly Reviews. Released from his duties as a resident county gentleman and magistrate, Mr. Dennistoun devoted a considerable portion of his time to Continental travel, and he was thus enabled to pursue his researches into the fascinating field of foreign art. His elegant work, published in 1852, the Memoirs of the Duke of Urbino, was a proof of his zeal in art investigation, and it received ample approval from those thoroughly qualified to treat the higher branches of artistic criticism. The suggestions which Mr. Dennistoun threw out in the course of his examination in 1853 before the Select Committee to inquire into the constitution of the National Gallery, proved to be most practical and valuable. The last work which came from his refined and fastidious pen was the Memoirs of Sir Robert Strange, Engraver, and his Brother-in-law, Andrew Lumsden, the finished copy of which, sad to say, was only delivered at his house on the day of its author's lamented death in 1855.

The works which, above all others, testify to Mr. Dennistoun's archaeological skill, critical culture, and powers of intricate and laborious research, are the eleven manuscript volumes which, by his trust deed, he left to his friend, the late Mark Napier, Advocate, himself an author of some repute, though his writings are disfigured by one-sided and very extreme views. After careful examination and selection, and being accurately catalogued and indexed, Mr. Napier, in accordance with his friend's bequest, presented the volumes to the Advocates' Library in Edinburgh. On this occasion the learned Faculty adopted a minute in which they record their gratification "on becoming the possessors of these collections, which cannot fail to be of great interest and importance, as being the work of one whose eminent qualifications for researches of that kind were so well known and universally acknowledged." While these manuscripts are rich in antiquarian and topographical information touching upon many Scottish families and places, the notes and chapters specially bearing upon a projected history of Dunbartonshire constitute a mass of details, elaborate and accurate, which have been of incalculable value to all who seek to investigate the county history. Mr. Dennistoun was an eminent agriculturist, who did much to develope the capabilities of his estate, and was a capable and judicious man of business, holding several prominent positions in connection with industrial enterprise, and his advice was eagerly sought as a trusted counsellor. By his express desire he was not buried in the family vault at Cardross, but in that of a former Sir Robert Dennistoun of Mountjoy, in the Greyfriars Churchyard at Edinburgh, so full of hallowed and pathetic historic associations. The epitaph on his tomb truthfully tells of Mr. Dennistoun as "Distinguished in literature, of cultivated mind, sound judgment and refined taste ; his Christian character, moral worth, and courteous manners, endeared him to many friends." The present representative of the ancient Colgrain family is James Dennistoun's nephew, James Wallis Dennistoun, formerly a lieutenant in the Royal Navy.


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