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Summer at the Lake of Monteith
The M'Lachlans of Auchentroig


The mansion-house of Auchentroig stands in one of the most pleasant situations in the county of Stirling—placed, as it is, on the banks of the pretty little glen of Arnfaichloch, famous in “Border Tales,” watered by the meandering stream that flows around it, and adorned with some of the grandest old trees in the country. The present esteemed proprietor has done much for the improvement of the estate and the benefit of his tenantry. The house and grounds, having been built and laid out under his direction, give ample proof of his taste, and of the deep interest he takes in matters agricultural.

The family of Auchentroig have long been distinguished for their liberal spirit, disinterestedness, and noble hospitality; while they have always taken a deep interest in everything tending to promote the good of the district in which their estate is situated. The family is generally allowed to be one of the very oldest, in a direct line from father to son, in the county of Stirling. I have heard an old friend of mine, long since gathered to his fathers, who was well versed in all the traditions of the family, say that “fourteen Johns succeeded each other in direct succession!” Certain it is, at least, that they have held the property from a very early period.

According to Welsh, the Irish historian, the ancestor of the M£Lachlans was O’Lauchlan, King of the province of Meath, and one of the Milesian stem, or race of the ancient Kings of Ireland, who reigned from the second century till about the time of the English Conquest, when they were among the first to plant Argyleshire. An important branch of the clan held the Auchentroig estate as far back as the twelfth or thirteenth century. The chief of this branch led a company of spearmen from his estate, and swelled the renowned Randolph’s division at the battle of Bannockburn. Charters, granted by King Robert Bruce after the battle, and still preserved among the Auchentroig papers, are proofs that he had rendered to his King and country, on that important day, valuable services. In the year 1394, Duncan, Earl of Lennox, confirms a charter to Celestin M'Lachlan of Auchentroig, granted to one of his ancestors by Eugen M‘Kessan of Garchel.*

The late Captain M‘Lachlan of Auchentroig, the grandfather of the present proprietor, was a gentleman of very many accomplishments. In early life he was allowed to be one of the best swordsmen in the British army, and was endowed with a singularly daring spirit. On one occasion, and when only a subaltern, he commanded a picket party, while, on the opposite side of a ravine, lay a detachment of the enemy. During the early part of the evening, the officer in charge of the enemy’s party cried, “We’ll sort you lousy Scots to-morrow.” “If ye’ll see to-morrow!” whispered the young subaltern. During the night, M‘Lachlan led his men quietly across the glen, and next morning the sun rose on the corpses of the entire party of the enemy. For this exploit he was tried next day by court-martial, and admonished; but on the following day he had the satisfaction of being raised to the rank of Captain. On a subsequent occasion he engaged a French officer single-handed, when the Frenchman kept backing his horse, till its progress was arrested by a wall; “and then,” said the veteran, “I soon laid his head upon' his shoulders.” Another feat is recorded of his taking a French officer from the very front of his regiment, and carrying him a prisoner to the British lines amid the plaudits of the soldiery. At the battle of Minden, he distinguished himself by carrying off the enemy’s colours; but in this gallant act he was unhorsed and severely wounded. On being asked, in afterlife, how he managed to escape after his horse was killed, he replied, “Ah! there were plenty of empty saddles before I left.”

He died at Auchentroig, at a good old age, and was succeeded by his only son, the late Captain M‘Lachlan, one of the most accomplished gentlemen of his time. In early life he gave tokens of possessing poetical talents of a high order, some of his pieces bearing favourable comparison even with those of our great National Bard; but his unfortunate death, in early life, extinguished all the hopes of his friends.

He was succeeded in the estate by his only son, the present Mr. M‘Lachlan of Auchentroig—a gentleman well known in the west of Stirlingshire for his many good qualities, and the deep interest he takes in all that tends to the advancement of his native district.


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