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The History of Stirlingshire
Chapter XXV. – Eminent Men


Taking the distinguished persons of the county alphabetically, the good and brave Sir Ralph Abercromby, K.B., hero of Aboukir, stands first on the illustrious roll. Son of Mr. George Abercromby, by Mary, daughter of Mr. Ralph Dundas of Manor, he was born at the family seat of Menstrie in October, 1734. After a liberal education, he became cornet in the 3rd regiment of Dragoon Guards. His commission is dated 23rd March, 1756. In February, 1760, he obtained a lieutenancy in the regiment, and soon rose to the rank of lieut.-colonel. He was made a brevet-colonel, November, 1780; and in the following year, colonel of the 103rd, or King’s Irish infantry. He attained the rank of major-general, 29th September, 1787. In the Continental war, 1793, he had the local rank of lieut.-general. He commanded the advanced guards on the heights of Cateau, and was wounded at Nimeguen. His bravery and skill commanded the warmest praise of the commander-in-chief and army. In the unfortunate retreat from Holland, in the winter of 1794, he particularly distinguished himself by his fortitude, patience, and perseverance. He was created knight of the bath, - and, in 1795, appointed to the chief military command in the West Indies; where in the course of two years, he captured several of the enemy's settlements - Grenada, Demerara, Essiquibo, St. Lucia, St. Vincent's, and Trinidad. Having been raised to the permanent rank of lieut.-general, and returning to Europe in 1797, he obtained the command of the 2nd, or North British Dragoons, and was made lieut.-governor of the Isle of Wight. He was then appointed commander-in-chief in Ireland, and there exerted himself to suppress that rebellion which the French emissaries had endeavoured to excite amongst the disaffected and the ignorant in that country. He was, meanwhile, made governor of Forts Augustus and George in Scotland. When, on a principle of expediency, the civil and military command in Ireland had come to be vested in one distinguished person, the late Marquis Cornwallis, Sir Ralph obtained the chief command in Scotland. He afterwards held a principal command under his royal highness the Duke of York in Holland; when the want of success was owing, not to any want of skill in the arrangements made by the British Government, nor of exertions on the part of the British troops, but partly to the Russian allies, and chiefly to the Dutch themselves, deluded by the French. The memorable expedition to Egypt in 1801 afforded him an opportunity of immortalizing the name of Abercromby. The landing of the British army at Aboukir 8th March, in the face of the most formidable opposition by the French, was one of the most gallant acts of heroism on record, and one of the most successful. The French were afterwards foiled in two general attacks on our army at Alexandria; but Sir Ralph had fallen in the second great victory on the 21st. With a mortal wound in the thigh, received during the heat of battle, he continued in the field, giving his orders with that coolness and perspicuity which had ever marked his character, until the enemy had been totally routed, when he fell from his horse through weakness and loss of blood. Being conveyed on board the admiral's ship, he died on the 28th and was interred under the castle of St. Elmo, in La Valetta, in the island of Malta. In private life, Sir Ralph was one of the most amiable of men. His mind was contemplative, and his studies general. It is a somewhat remarkable trait that, when called to the Continent in 1793, he had been daily attending the admirable lectures of Dr. Hardy, regius professor of Church history in the University of Edinburgh. To his memory, the House of Commons unanimously voted a monument in St. Paul's cathedral; and settled 2,000 a year on his family. His wife, Mary Ann, daughter of John Menzies of Farnton, was created Baroness Abercromby of Aboukir and Tullibody, with remainder to her sons by her late husband.

Henry Belfrage, D.D., was a native of Falkirk, and a son of the Rev. John Belfrage, minister of the Associate Congregation, now called the East U.P., or Erskine church. He was ordained successor and colleague to his father in 1794, and died in 1835. He published several volumes of sermons, and other theological works, which had a large local circulation.

Mr. James Bell, the celebrated geographer, who was born at Jedburgh in 1769, spent his last years in the parish of Campsie. In 1777, Mr. Bell removed with his father to Glasgow, where, after receiving a liberal education, he served an apprenticeship to the weaving business, and, in 1790, he commenced business as a manufacturer of cotton goods. In the universal depression, occasioned by the shock of the French Revolution, Mr. Bell having a large stock on hand, in common with many others, lost his all, and for a number of years, was employed as a common warper in the warehouses of different manufacturers. It has been said, while Mr. Bell occupied this situation, he was frequently more intent on the metres of Horace, the delineations of Mela and Strabo, and the glowing narratives of Xenophon and Thucydides, than upon the porters and splits into which his baskets of bobbins were to be adjusted upon the warping-mill, in consequence of which his chains, when they came into the hands of the workmen, were found to be inextricably entangled. About the year 1806, Mr. Bell relinquished this uncongenial occupation, and betook himself to a more laborious mode of earning his subsistence, but one for which he was better qualified, viz. teaching the classics to young men attending the University. This he pursued for some years with diligence and success, being at the same time himself a most indefatigible and arduous student, especially in history, systematic theology, and above all in geography, which he followed out with unwearied enthusiasm. Mr. Bell made his first appearance as an author in 1815, when he was engaged to improve the Glasgow Geography, a work in four volumes, which had been well received by the public, and was now, by the labours of Mr. Bell, extended to five volumes. It formed the basis of his principal work. Some years after this, he again appeared as an author in conjunction with a young gentleman (the late Mr. John Bell of Glasgow), in a small volume of Chinese geography and Oriental philology. This work is now rare, but is said to display a considerable amount of talent. Mr. Bell had long been subject to severe attacks of asthma. These gradually assumed a more alarming character, and compelled him to leave Glasgow for a country residence. The place he selected for his retirement was Lukeston, Campsie, where he spent the last twelve years of his life. While he resided at Lukeston, he published an elegant edition of Rollin’s Ancient History, interspersed with copious and interesting notes. Here he also published his principal work, A System of Popular and Scientific Geography, in six volumes. He was engaged preparing for publication, A General Gazeteer, when death put an end to his labours on the 3rd May, 1833, in the sixty-fourth year of his age.

Lieut.-Colonel John Blackadder, son of a faithful minister, who, during the time of persecution, after the restoration of Charles II., suffered long for his adherence to Presbytery, and endured a distressing imprisonment on the Bass rock, falls here to be mentioned. He was not more distinguished for his personal bravery and military accomplishments than for his private worth and devoted piety. After serving many years on the Continent, under the Duke of Marlborough, in command of the celebrated Cameronian regiment of infantry, he was appointed deputy-governor of Stirling castle, where he died in August, 1729, at the age of sixty-five.

Robert Bruce, of Kinnaird, was born in 1556. He was the second son of Sir Alexander Bruce, of Airth, by Janet, daughter of Alexander, 5th Lord Livingston, and the Lady Agnes Douglas, daughter of John 2nd Earl of Morton. Sir Alexander had embraced the Reformation. Robert, destined for the law, was sent to study at Paris. On his return, he practiced in the Court of Session. Theology, however, was his bent – the grand subject, or, rather let us say, master-passion, what had full possession of his mind; and which, as his manhood ripened, was to keep him ever in heroic action. A man this, evidently, who, once realising his main mission on earth, was resolved that it should be divinely fulfilled at whatever personal sacrifice and cost. The sincerity of that apostolic voice, as it "spoke in thunder to the soul that slept in sin," could not for a moment be questioned. But what an ordeal lay in the future for his faith! And the bitter persecution first emanated from the preacher’s home. His mother, chagrined at the great gulf-leap from the bar to the pulpit, compelled him to resign his pretentions to the estate of Kinnaird, in which, as an appanage of Airth, he had been enfeoffed. Stripping off his scarlet and gold, he put himself under the tuition of a person more properly the father of Presbytery than Knox – Andrew Melville, then professor of Divinity at St. Andrews. In 1587, Bruce debated on the comparative merits of Episcopacy and Presbytery, which, to his auditors, seemed to decide in favour of the existing regime. On the 20th of June, he was presented to the General Assembly by Andrew Melville, as a pupil of great promise; and, in July, ascended the pulpit of John Knox, now dead fifteen years, and of Lawson, recently deceased. He had already dispensed the Lord’s Supper without having received the imposition of hands; a ceremony to which, as not being, in his opinion, essential to the sacred function, he never would submit. In the following February, this voluntary exile from civic and baronial honours, was elected moderator of the supreme ecclesiastical court. In 1589, he was a confidential servant of the king during his Majesty’s voyage to Denmark; and, on the arrival of the royal pair, in their kingdom, acted the part of primate of the church, by placing the crown on the head of Queen Anne. Both in church and state, indeed, such was his influence amongst all classes, that Bruce may be said to have been regent of the kingdom. On the 6th June, 1590, he married Margaret, daughter of James Douglas, Lord Fotherald, senator of the College of Justice. Along with Melville, Bruce was active in obtaining that Act of the civil legislature, by which, in 1592, Presbytery was established as the ecclesiastical government of Scotland. Although Presbytery had banished all parliamentary representation of the functionaries of religion; yet by private meetings, and touches from the pulpit on the times, it possessed, in civil as well as ecclesiastical matters, a control bordering on tyranny. As a counterbalance, James secretly encouraged "the Popish faction." Popish domestics occupied the palace. "The ministers," having remonstrated, were insulted. Melville and Bruce, having waited upon the queen, were told that her Majesty could not see them, being engaged at a dance. The anniversary of the queen’s birth was celebrated with great rejoicings on a day set apart by the church for a solemn fast. The commissioners of the church, having resolved on a grave expostulation with royalty, were, by the royal authority, ordered to quit the city within forty-eight hours. Bruce, from the pulpit, exhorted such as disapproved of the tyrannical mandate, to defend the present religious order of things against all opposers whatsoever; but was obliged, with a brother minister, Balcanqual, to retire into England.

Having in April, 1597, returned to Edinburgh, he obtained the royal pardon; but, not being restored to his charge, confined his instructions to a private circle. He resolutely declined having hands laid on him; and, at length, on the 19th of May, after much discussion, was replaced in his charge without the solemn ceremony. In 1600, Bruce, for refusing to profess his belief in the existence of an alleged conspiracy against his Majesty, by the Earl of Gowrie and brother, who had been suddenly put to death as the actors, was imprisoned in Airth castle, and ordered to quit the kingdom on the 11th November. Embarking at Queensferry on the 5th, he landed, five days after, at Dieppe. Having, by the intercession of Lord Kinloss and the Earl of Marr, been allowed to return to Scotland, he was ordered to remain in ward in his house in Kinnaird. On the 14 January, 1601, he had an audience of the king at Craigmillar; but still withheld his belief of "the Gowrie Conspiracy." On the 25th of February, 1603, the commissioners of the church declared his pulpit vacant. When, in March, James had succeeded to the English crown, Bruce, in person, congratulated his Majesty, but was not restored. He had remained at rest a twelvemonth after the king’s departure, when he was summoned to witness his formal deposition from the office of the ministry, by the General Assembly. In July, the chancellor informed him that the king had prohibited him from preaching. Bruce fell, as was believed from agitation of spirits, into a fever. Construing it into a divine judgment for his having ceased to proclaim the truth, he resolved never more to obey human authority in sacred matters. In August, as the head of a faction which met at Kinnaird, he was ordered, under pain of outlawry, to enter into prison in Inverness. Here he remained a year, preaching to great multitudes twice a week. After eight years spent in the north, he returned, with permission, to Kinnaird, in August, 1613. Here, however, he met with much vexation from the clergy in the presbyteries of Linlithgow and Stirling. He, therefore, with leave asked and given, retired, with his family, to Monkland, one of his country seats. The Archbishop of Glasgow, offended, as was alleged, by the resort of people to Mr. Bruce’s sermons, obliged him to return to Kinnaird. In 1621, he went to Edinburgh without permission, and was committed to the castle, for having transgressed the verge of his confinement. On the 3rd of January, 1622, he received a royal mandate to return to Kinnaird, remain there till April, and then banish himself, during his Majesty’s pleasure, to Inverness. He continued in the north till 1625, when the king died. Charles allowed him to live at Kinnaird. He now preached at home, and even in some of the pulpits around Edinburgh. In 1629, the king wrote to the Privy Council, to confine him within two miles of Kinnaird. He had, at his own expense, repaired the church of Larbert, which had long lain neglected; and held services there regularly, converting, amongst others, Alexander Henderson, minister of Leuchars, about to make a conspicuous figure in the annals of presbytery. That his sentiments possessed not all the moderation which future times have attained, was the fault of the age. Less violent than Melville, more enlightened than Knox, he viewed with a brighter and milder eye the united interests of the church and nation. To the spirit of a baron, descended of the nobles and warriors of his country, he joined the authority of a minister of Jesus Christ. Of his sermons, eleven were printed in his lifetime; and these display a boldness of expression, regularity of style, and force of argument, seldom found in the Scottish writers of the nineteenth century. In one of his sentences he thus applies the verb To fotch, or change one’s situation: - "Look in what maner wee see the shepherds tents flitted and fotched, efter the same maner I see my life to be flitted and fotched."

"Hasten, O car of light!
Roll on from realm to realm,
From shore to farthest shore."

We now come to the intrepid and enterprising traveller who succeeded to the name and estate of Kinnaird through his paternal grandmother. He was, by her, descended of the barons of Clackmannan, representatives till the death of Henry the 13th baron of the family of Bruce of whom the Earl of Elgin is now chief. By his paternal grandfather, James traced his ancestry to the Errol family; which, in the beginning of the fourteenth century, had given birth to the Hays of Lochloy; whence, about the end of the sixteenth, came the Hays of Woodcockdale. In 1687, John Hay of Woodcockdale and Alexander Bruce of Kinnaird concluded a marriage between David Hay, eldest son of the former, and Helen Bruce, eldest daughter and heiress of the latter. It was contracted that their lineal descendant should enjoy the estate of Kinnaird, and bear the name and arms of Bruce. In February, 1729, Mr. Bruce of Kinnaird, son of this marriage, married Marion Graham, daughter of James Graham of Airth, dean of the Faculty of Advocates, and judge of the High Court of Admiralty in Scotland. By her, on the 14th December, 1730, he had a second child James, celebrated Abyssinian traveller - a man of Herculean physique, and more than ordinary strength of mind. James received his school education at Harrow, along with his half-uncle, William Graham of Airth, and his cousin, William Hamilton. Quitting the academy, he began life as a student for the English bar; but, in 1754, he retired from the profession on his marriage with Adriana Allan, the beautiful and amiable daughter of a wealthy London wine merchant; and was, at the same time, taken as an active partner into the father-in-law’s business. The young wife, however, died shortly after the matrimonial union, while on a trip to the south of France for the benefit of declining health. By this sad bereavement Bruce’s attention was directed to the study of foreign languages, with a view to trading, and he soon became an accomplished linguist.

In addition to the ordinary European tongues, he could speak Arabian and Ethiopian with the greatest fluency. Having formed an acquaintance with Pitt (the elder), then at the head of affairs, he proposed to him a scheme of making a descent upon Spain, against which country Britain was expected to declare war. Though this project came to nothing, Lord Halifax, noting his enterprising genius, proposed to him to signalise the beginning of the new reign by making discoveries in Africa; and for this end he was, in 1762, appointed British Consul at Algiers. In an interview with George III., before setting out, his Majesty requested him to take drawings of whatever ancient architecture he might discover in the course of his travels. On his way to Algiers, which he reached in March, 1763, he spent some time in Italy, visiting Rome, Naples, and Florence; thus fitting himself, by surveying the works of ancient art, for the observations he was to make upon kindred subjects in Africa. Here he formed an acquaintance with Luigi Balugani, a native of Bologna, whom he engaged in the capacity of artist, to assist him in his drawings. These were generally finished on the spot in a camera obscura, a hexagon of six feet diameter, and a cone at the top, the contrivance of Mr. Bruce. Disliking his situation at Algiers, he asked and obtained leave of the Dey, in 1765, to travel through the interior provinces. Having made his proposed excursion, he took the opportunity of visiting Balbec and Palmyra. But there was a country still beyond, of which the world was as yet comparatively ignorant, that he meant to explore. That country was Abyssinia. Perilous dangers were undoubtedly to be encountered; but Bruce, like the noble Livingstone, was just the man to face and overcome the obstacles of such a splendid enterprise: his was

"A frame of adamant, a soul of fire;
No dangers fright him, and no labours tire.

Shaping his course to Abyssinia, he carried with him a set of mathematical instruments; and having resolved to personate a physician – a welcome guest in the countries he was about to visit – he obtained medical books and instructions from Dr. Russell at Aleppo. From Cairo, on the 12th of December, 1768, he sailed up the Nile, and on the 17th of February, 1769, joined the caravan to Cosseir on the Red Sea. He crossed to Jidda, and explored part of the Arabian coast. Recrossing to Massowah, the only entrance to Abyssinia in that quarter, encountering many dangers, and going through many strange adventures, he at length, on the 4th of November, 1770, arrived at the object of his ambition. Before departing he received the title of Lord of Geesh. But the difficulty now was to return. How to extricate himself from the natives, who had taken a great liking to him, and were averse to part with him, was the first question. Having obtained leave, he set out from Abyssinia on the 26th of December, 1771. Recollecting the dangers to which he had been exposed at Massowah, he resolved to go by Sennaar. After unparalleled toil and peril, he at length reached Syene. Here he stayed till the 11th of December, when he proceeded to Cairo, where he arrived on the 10th of January, 1773 – four years and twenty-nine days since he had left it. Reaching France, he spent some time in the south for the recovery of his health, now greatly impaired. Here he was much with the celebrated Count de Buffon, who acknowledges his obligations to "M. Bruce" for several important communications in natural history. He visited Bologna and Rome. He returned to Britain in the summer of 1774, and towards the end of ’75 settled on his paternal estate. Like any other later hero of the year, wherever he went he had to speak of what he had seen and suffered in the course of his adventurous wanderings through the "dark continent." He related anecdotes of the Abyssinian and Nubian tribes, and gave descriptions of localities and natural objects which certainly appeared wonderful to a civilised people. "Come, now," said an impertinent intruder into Bruce’s study in the house near Loch Lubnaig, "I want to know about those Abyssinians eating beefsteaks raw." Having heard the facts, he went on, "Come, now, you must eat a beefsteak raw; you must indeed. You say you have; I can’t believe you, you know, unless you prove it." Bruce rang the bell, and ordered up some raw beef, salt, and pepper. His visitor looked on with delight while Bruce slashed the meat and seasoned it. "Now, then," said Bruce, rising and motioning his guest to his seat, "you eat that." "I! Why, I want you to eat it, and I mean you to eat it." "You come here, a stranger, to insult me in my own house, and I must prove my statements in my own way. You shall find that raw beefsteak can be eaten. You see my staircase; if you do not completely empty that plate, I shall fling you from the top to the bottom." No ordinary man could argue physically to his own advantage with the stalwart Bruce, and the skeptical intruder had quietly to obey. His host stood over him, and made him swallow enough to be able to aver that raw beef is eatable, and then turned him out.

Regarded by press and public as an imaginative liar, Bruce in his mind shrunk from the meanness of his fellows. He retired indignant and disappointed to Kinnaird, where for some time he busied himself in rebuilding his house and arranging the concerns of his estate. On 20th May, 1776, he again married – his second wife being Mary, daughter of Mr. Thomas Dundas of Fingask by Lady Janet Maitland, daughter of the Earl of Lauderdale. For nine years Bruce made little progress in the preparation of his journals for the press. They appeared ultimately, however, in 1790, and consisted of five large quarto volumes, with a volume of drawings dedicated to the king. We need scarcely repeat here, the well-known story of his death. After having run the gauntlet with so many hair-breadth escapes in his courageous ramblings as an African explorer, he had his neck broken by taking a false step on the stair outside the drawing-room at Kinnaird. And the gallant Speko – for whom was reserved the still more splendid discovery of the great Lake Nyanza – also meets death, shortly after a return from his heroic and exploratory adventures, by the stone of a dyke he was crossing striking the trigger of his gun, when the contents of the barrel went right through his heart. He had crossed the Continent of Africa from Zanzibar to Cairo, and had travelled between Mtesa’s country and Kamrasi’s vast lake, out of which he had seen the Nile rushing over the Karuma falls, in a land far beyond the ken of civilised man; from thence he had come northward, striking the Nile at its then highest known point, Gondokoro, and returned home to fame and to a disastrous death. Doubtless, if either of those renowned heroes of geographical research had had to choose where and how they should die, they would much rather have fallen by the axe of some savage Zulu tribe on the wild waste of equatorial Africa. It is so unlike the traditional end of the brave and adventurous explorer, the simple yet fatal mishap at Kinnaird; or even to meet

"A cadger-pownie’s daith
At some dyke-back."

We assume that the general reader is familiar with the principal discoveries in the Nile country, from the time of Herodotus down to that of the intrepid Stanley himself, and have only to add that, notwithstanding all that has lately been told us of the outlet of Lake Tanganika, and of Lake Victoria, the grand secret of the great Egyptian river’s sources has not yet been revealed. Bruce made forty observations as to the exact geographical site of its fountain, and found it to be in north latitude 10 degrees 59’ 25", and 36 degrees 55’ 30" east longitude, whilst its position was supposed, from the barometer, to be 2 miles above the level of the sea. But this was the Blue Nile, through whose countries he had, with indomitable courage, wandered all alone away up to Abyssinia. There can be no doubt that the mountains of Lockinga and Bisa on the west, or Killimarjora on the east, give birth to the infant Nile, although it has not yet been determined where those waters actually take their rise.

David Doig, L.L.D., to whom the grammar school of Stirling was originally indebted for much of its fame, was son of a small farmer in Angus. He was born in 1719. His father died while he was an infant, and his mother married a second time. The step-father, however, treated him kindly. From a defect of eye-sight, David did not learn to read till his twelfth year, but such was his quickness and power of application, that, in three years, he was successful in a Latin composition for a bursary at St. Andrews. He studied there with great credit, and became bachelor of arts, and student of theology. But certain scruples regarding the Westminster Confession of Faith, deterred him from the church. He had, for several years, taught, in succession, the parochial schools of Monifieth, Kennoway, and Falkland, when his growing reputation gained for him, from the magistrates of Stirling, the rectorship of the grammar school. This office he held, with great credit, for upwards of forty years, in the course of which period the University of Glasgow had conferred upon him the degree of doctor of laws, and the Royal and Antiquarian Societies of Edinburgh had made him a fellow. He was intimately acquainted with Latin and Greek, and, in addition to a profound treatise on the ancient Hellenes, wrote a work entitled Letters on the Savage State. His articles on "Mythology," "Mysteries," and "Philology," in the Encyclopaedia Britannica show that he had also made a great progress in Oriental literature. He died on the 15th of March, 1800, in his eighty-second year.

A native of Stirling of the name of Edmond, the son of a baker, born, it would appear, towards the end of the sixteenth century, having run away from his parents and enlisted in the service of Maurice, Prince of Orange, so greatly distinguished himself as to rise to the rank of colonel. Having acquired considerable wealth, he returned, as a benefactor, to reside in the place of his birth. A plate, in addition to that which received the usual weekly collections for the poor, was for some time placed at the church door, that such as were able, and willing, might put into it their contributions towards the erection of a manse for the minister. A donation was given by Colonel Edmond so munificent, that it seems to have been equal to, if not greater than all the rest of the amount obtained by this collection. The manse thus built, stood at the junction of Church Street and St. John’s Street, not many yards from the south-east corner of the church, the site being still plainly indicated by the state of the ground. It was taken down in 1824, and contained till that time some books, of which Mr. Guthrie had been the custodier, and his chair, both of which had been carefully preserved by his successors in the first charge. The chair is now in the library of the School of Arts. The following anecdote is told of the colonel. When on the Continent, being on the parade with several brother officers, he was accosted by a stranger, who professed to have newly come from Scotland, and left the colonel’s relations well, enumerating several of high rank. Edmond, turning from him indignantly, informed the circle, that, however this unknown person might flatter his vanity, he must in candour tell them, that he had the honour, of which he should ever be proud, to be the son of an honest baker and freeman of the ancient burgh of Stirling. He then ordered the abashed imposter out of his sight. He would not visit in Stirling, unless his father and mother were invited. The Earl of Marr, son to the regent, and himself lord high treasurer of the kingdom, asked him to dine or sup. Edmond agreed on the forementioned condition, and, thus happily escorted by the aged pair, did the gallant colonel wait upon his illustrious entertainer.

John Erskine, sixth Earl of Mar, was distinguished both as a statesman and warrior. By James V., he was appointed commendator of Cambuskenneth and Inchmahome; while, by Mary, he was invested with the hereditary prefecture, or captainship, of Stirling castle. His name and seal appeared at the deed of Mary’s resignation of the kingdom. On that event, he was entrusted with the keeping of the young prince.

Rev. Ebenezer Erskine, whose name is associated with the rise of the Secession from the Established Church, was for several years minister of the third charge of Stirling. His grandfather, Ralph Erskine, who was a descendant of the family of Marr, had thirty-three children, of whom Ebenezer’s father, Henry, was the youngest.

Rev. Henry Guthrie, author of "Memoirs of Scottish Affairs," from 1627 to the death of Charles I., in 1649, was minister of Stirling about the period to which his work relates. Having conformed to the prelacy, he afterwards became bishop of Dunkeld.

Rev. James Guthrie, the martyr, son of Guthrie of Guthrie, in Forfarshire, was educated at the University of St. Andrews, in which he afterwards, for some time, taught philosophy. As the reputed author of The Causes of God’s Wrath, he was seized, imprisoned, and brought to trial before the Parliament of Edinburgh. He defended himself with such eloquence, knowledge of law, and strength of argument, as utterly astonished his friends and confounded his enemies. But he was found guilty of high treason; and condemned to death. His execution took place at the cross of Edinburgh on 1st June, 1661. In pursuance of the sentence, his head, having been separated from his body, was fixed up at the Nether Bow Port, where it remained a public spectacle for about twenty-seven years.

Sir George Harvey, the famous painter of historical pictures, was born at St. Ninians in 1805. At a very early age he displayed a taste for drawing; but, having been apprenticed to a bookbinder, found few opportunities as a lad to cultivate his talent. In his eighteenth year, however, he entered the school of the Trustees Academy in Edinburgh, where he studied two years with such success as to attract attention. In 1826, when the Scottish artists resolved to establish an academy of their own, framed on the model of the Royal Academy in London, Harvey, though only in his twenty-first year, was invited to become an associate. In 1829, that rank was exchanged for academician. Incidents from the history of the Covenanters supplied the subjects of the pictures by which he first got a name. There were the "Covenanters’ Preaching," the "Battle of Drumelog," and the "Covenanters’ Communion." But he was also great in tableaux de genre. "The Curlers," "The Bowlers," and "The Penny Bank," are only a few of his masterly works in grouping. His paintings, too, have ever a Scotch vigour and fervour. In his faces we have the glow of life and of reality; his style is eloquent; his drawing bold; his light and shade emphatic; and his colour deep and luminous.

Dr. Robert Henry was son of James Henry, farmer in Muirtown, by Jean Galloway, of Burrowmeadow. He was born 18th February, 1718, educated under Mr. John Nicolson, parochial schoolmaster of St. Ninians, and afterwards sent to the grammar school of Stirling. Having completed his academical course at Edinburgh, he became rector of the grammar school at Annan. He was licensed to preach on the 27th March, 1746; and settled minister of a dissenting congregation at Carlisle in 1748. On the 13th August, 1760, he was translated to a meeting-house of the same sort at Berwick-upon-Tweed. In 1763, he married Anne, daughter of Thomas Balderston, surgeon there. He never had any children by his wife; but he out-lived her. In 1768, partly through the friendly intents of Mr. Gilbert Laurie, provost of Edinburgh, he was appointed minister of the New Greyfriars in Edinburgh, and, in November, 1776, became collegiate minister of the old church there. He continued in this charge till his death. In 1770, the University of Edinburgh conferred upon him the degree of doctor of divinity; and, in 1774, being then, for the first time, a member of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, he was chosen moderator. He devised, and carried into effect, a plan for the benefit of the widows and orphans of dissenting ministers in the north of England. This beneficient institution commenced in 1762, soon after he had published his scheme of it; and was superintended by him for several years.

It was in 1763, as is conjectured, that he first conceived the idea of his History of Great Britain, written on a new plan, and which, in every respective period, arranges, under separate chapters, the civil and military history of the country; the history of religion; of our constitution, government, laws, and courts of justice; of learning, learned men, and the chief seminaries of learning; of the arts; of commerce, shipping, money, and the prices of commodities; of manners, virtues, vices, customs, language, dress, diet, amusements. He begins at the invasion of Julius Caesar, and comes down to the accession of Edward VI. As a collection of facts, supported by documents, and conjoining the provinces of historian and antiquary, it is very interesting. At its first publication it was much abused, particularly by one Gilbert Stuart. Its merits, however, attracted Lord Mansfield, at whose suggestion his Majesty, on the 28th May, 1781, granted to Dr. Henry a pension of 100 pounds, to commence from the preceding 5th of April. The 8vo edition of his history, published in 1788, is inscribed to the Earl of Mansfield. Till 1781, he had printed on his own account. He now sold his literary property to Messrs. Caddell and Strachan, and received from them the sum of 1,400 pounds. His profits from the outset amounted, according to his calculation, to 3,300 pounds. He had persevered in his literary labours till the summer of 1790. He died that year, on the 24th of November; and was buried in the churchyard of Polmont. He had had a country house in the parish. A monument to his memory has been erected above his remains.

The first volume of Dr. Henry’s history was published in 1771, the second in 1774, the third in 1777, the fourth in 1781, and the fifth (which terminates with the accession of Henry VII.) in 1785. A few days before his death, he had executed a deed, by which he bequeathed his books to the magistrates, town council and presbytery of Linlithgow, as the foundation of a public library; and laid down certain specified regulations, by means of which a larger library might, as he hoped, be erected, and knowledge diffused.

The celebrated Sir Thomas Hope, Bart., of Craigiehall, king’s advocate, purchased, in 1638, from Sir William Livingston, of Kilsyth, the lands of Kerse, and gave them to his second son, Sir Thomas Hope, Bart., of Kerse, one of the lords of session. Sir Thomas’s great grandfather, John de Hope, by birth a Frenchman, and said to be of the H’oublons of Picardy, settled in Scotland with Magdalene, Queen of James V. Sir Thomas’s father went from Scotland to Holland as a merchant, and married Jacque de Tott, a French lady, Sir Thomas’s mother. Mr. Thomas Hope was an eminent lawyer. He was an able counsel for those of the Presbyterians who, in 1605, were indicted for denying the king’s authority in ecclesiastical matters. He was, towards 1725, appointed king’s advocate. On the breaking out of the war under Charles I., he joined the Covenanters. They had revived the doctrine held by the Church of Scotland before the Reformation, and still maintained by the remains of the Romish church, but subversive of all government, that the ecclesiastical establishment is independent of the civil. A meeting of the estates of parliament at Edinburgh, on the 20th February, 1639, having resolved, according to the language of the times, "to act conscientiously," took the opinion of eminent lawyers and divines "concerning the legality of raising defensive war:" when Sir Thomas Hope, and others, decided in the affirmative. It is, indeed, to be lamented that he abused his great talents, even in his riper years, by assisting in those cabals by which his royal master’s ruin was effected. He had two daughters, Mary, married to Sir Charles Erskine, of Alva; and Anne, the first lady of David second Lord Cardross. To these and to his four sons, Sir Thomas gave fortunes; to his eldest son, Sir John, Craigiehall; to his second, Sir Thomas, Kerse; to his third, Sir Alexander, Grantham; to his fourth, Sir James, Hopeton. The last was ancestor of the Earls of Hopeton. Sir Alexander was cupbearer to Charles I. The rest were senators of the College of Justice; two of them, Sir John and Sir Thomas, during their father’s lifetime. As it was deemed indecorous that the father should, as king’s advocate, plead uncovered before his sons, he was requested to wear his hat. Hence the privilege, though not claimed, which the king’s advocate now enjoys when addressing the Courts of Session and Justiciary. Sir James did not ascend the bench till after his father’s decease. Sir Thomas Hope, of Kerse, was subsequently advanced to the high post of lord justice general. The father’s jurisprudential writings are highly esteemed.

Alexander Hume appears among the early Scottish poets. He was the second son of Patrick Hume, of Polwarth, from whom the noble family of Marchmont derived its lineage, and is supposed to have been born about the year 1560. Appointed minister of Logie in 1598, he remained there until his death on 4th December, 1609. His pieces, though superior to most of the pious effusions of that age, scarcely merit the name of poems. The description he gives of "The Day of Estival" – a composition which may be found in Campbell’s Specimens of the British Poets, is rather equable and pleasing, than vivid or striking; while the same may be said of his "Spanish Armada."

Dr. James Jeffray, professor of anatomy in the old University of Glasgow, and who published a valuable medical work, was born in the parish of Kilsyth. The Rev. Dr. R. Rennie, author of several essays on peat moss, was also a native of that town, and its minister from 1789 to 1820. Sir Archibald Edmonstone, Bart., of Duntreath, chief proprietor in the same district, contributed to literature a well-written and interesting account of his travels in Egypt; while Mr. W. A. Cadell, of Banton, published two very readable volumes, entitled Travels in Italy.

The Rev. Duncan M’Farlane, who was parish minister of Drymen from 1743 to 1791, was a man of great shrewdness and vigour of mind. He was also of a large stature, and of a bold and intrepid character. During the time of his ministrations in Drymen, there were regularly immense gatherings at the annual markets and feeing fairs, when the various classes of the district banded together for party fights, some occasionally of a very serious character, dirks and bludgeons being freely used. The worthy clergyman was often appalled at such disgraceful scenes, and, being a muscular Christian, as well as a persuasive and powerful preacher, he was in the habit of visiting the markets, and by his presence endeavoured to keep matters quiet. His custom was to walk about the parish with a huge stick, which he carried by the middle. When a quarrel seemed imminent, and his persuasive words of no avail, he seized his "rung" by both hands, and laid about him unmercifully; and what his advice failed to do, his strength soon accomplished. On account of this, he was locally called "Duncan Rungs." There are many incidents told of his prowess and courage, but it will be sufficient to note the following: - he was preaching at Chapelarroch, near Gartmore, when the famous Glengyle presented a child for baptism. The clan M’Gregor being under prescription, ministers were debarred from baptizing them in that name. The proud Glengyle, thinking to overawe his reverence, told him to baptize the child M’Gregor. M’Farlane, raising himself to his full height, and striking the desk before him, exclaimed, "Neither Glengyle nor all his clan will make the minister of Drymen break the laws of the land." The child was baptized in the name of Graham. Mr. M’Farlane kept for a long series of years a very correct weather report, which was of considerable interest.

The late Very Rev. Principal M’Farlan, of the Glasgow University, was born at Drymen, where both he and his father were, at one time, ministers.

John Moore, M.D. – a well-known author, as well as physician – was son of the Rev. Charles Moore, one of the ministers of Stirling. Dr. Moore was born in 1730, and educated at Glasgow. In 1747, he was surgeon’s mate in the army in Flanders, and remained there till the general peace. He then studied at London and Paris. In the latter city, he was appointed surgeon to the household of the Earl of Albemarle, the English ambassador. Returning to Scotland, he became partner with Dr. Gordon, an eminent practitioner in Glasgow. In 1773, he went as travelling preceptor to the young Duke of Hamilton. After spending five years abroad, Dr. Moore settled in London, and, in 1779, published part of the fruits of his travels, A View of Society and Manners in France, Switzerland, and Germany. The work was so well received, that, in 1781, he produced two similar volumes on Italy. He published, in 1785, Medical Sketches, which, however, gave offence to the "Faculty," by betraying certain professional secrets. His next literary effort was Zeluco, a Novel, in two volumes. The principal character is represented as a perfect demon, whose atrocities hold her, by the reader, in utter horror; but all that black-painting was intended to demonstrate the natural and deplorable effect of a wicked or careless education; and how a single vicious indulgence brings a hundred others in its train. In 1792, Dr. Moore accompanied the Earl of Lauderdale to Paris; and, having witnessed some of the principal scenes in the French Revolution, applied his masterly pen to a description of them. The result was given to the world in 1795. His novel, Edward, intended as the counterpart of Zeluco, came out in 1796, but did not excite the same heart-rending interest. In 1800, Dr. Moore produced Mordaunt: or Sketches of Life, Characters, and Manners, in various Countries. A nondescript in literature, it contains many amusing and instructive observations. This once popular author died in London in 1802. He was father of the distinguished soldier, Sir John Moore, K.B., who fell at Corunna in January, 1809.

John de Napier, whose family comes now to be spoken of, had, along with several other leading men of his day, engaged to deliver Stirling castle to Edward I., in 1304. His representative in the sixth generation, Sir John Napier of Merchiston, married Elizabeth, younger daughter and co-heiress of Sir Murdoch Menteth of Rusky, and thus acquired, along with Sir John Haldane of Gleneiglis, who had married the sister, a fourth part of the great domain of the ancient Earls of Levenax. The eleventh representative of the family of Napier from the first mentioned, was John of Merchiston, the inventor of logarithms, of whom Hume says that he was "the person to whom the title of great man is more justly due, than to any other whom his country ever produced." He was born in 1550. Local tradition had named Gartness castle, in the parish of Drymen, as his birthplace, when the earl of Buchan shewed, by an inscription on Napier’s portrait, engraved by Cooper from an original painting, that he was born at Edinburgh. That he had begun his arithmetical enquiries in 1593 is proved by a letter of Kepler’s in 1624. This philosopher had so greatly admired Napier’s genius, that, in 1617, he had dedicated to him one of his publications; and five years after, writing one of his correspondents, he says of his Canon Mirificus, "Nothing in my mind, can exceed Napier’s method; though in epistles to Tycho, in 1594, he had expressed a hope of the canon." Mr. Henry Briggs, Gresham, professor of mathematics, availing himself of Napier’s communications, carried on those calculations from which Napier had, in 1617, been called off by death. Briggs’ discoveries were followed, after his demise in 1630, by Mr. Henry Gellibrand, Gresham, professor of astronomy. They were assisted by Kepler, and improved upon by Sherwin, Schulze, Vega, Callet, and Hutton. Napier, who had inherited a fourth part of the estate of the old Earls of Levanax, married, first, Margaret, daughter of Sir James Stirling of Keir, one of the oldest and most respectable families in Scotland. By her he had Sir Archibald, his successor and the first Lord Napier. He married, secondly, Agnes, daughter of Sir James Chisholme, of Dundorn and Cromlix. By her he had five sons, the second of whom was ancestor of the Napiers of Culreuch. The third was ancestor of the Napiers of Ardmore and Craigannet; and the fifth of the Napiers of Blackstone. He was interred in the church of St. Giles, Edinburgh. A stone east of the northern entrance indicates the spot. No public monument, however, has been erected to his memory, but his invention is a monument aere perennius.

The Napiers of Ballikenrain were an ancient family. The late Mr. John Napier of Ballikenrain was the sixteenth of the name and family of Napier, who, in succession, had possessed the estate. The male line is now extinct. The late heiress married Mr. Robert Dunmore, who, though not of the clan, erected the obelisk above-mentioned to the maximus gentilis. His second son, Mr. John Dunmore Napier, inherited his mother’s estate.

Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Napier, K.C.B., & c., was the eldest son of the Hon. Charles Napier of Merchiston Hall, Falkirk, and grandson of Francis, fifth Lord Napier. He was born on the 6th March, 1786, at the above-mentioned house, and entered the Royal Navy in 1790 as a first-class volunteer, on board the ‘Martin’ sloop of war. Sir Charles is renowned for the part he acted in the brilliant affair of St. Jean D’Acre, and for other martial achievements which need not here be particularised. In later life, as an M.P., he occasionally attempted war personally, in the House of Commons, but in that battle-field he invariably forgot to keep his powder dry. At times, too, he fired his small-shot through the columns of the press at certain heads of the government; and the last time we saw the plucky old hero was in an editorial room in Glasgow, where, with his hands locked behind, he stood giving the back part of his body the benefit of a rousing fire.

Professor Richardson of Glasgow, author of Anecdotes of the Russian Empire, and perhaps more particularly known as a tasteful and philosophical critic of Shakespeare’s dramas, was proprietor of Croy-Leckie, where he spent his vacations for above twenty years. He died in November, 1814.

George Ridpath was born in Stirlingshire in 1663. Being at the University of Edinburgh in 1686, when James VII. was attempting to establish Popery, he was chosen by his fellow students as their leader in a pantomine intended to burlesque the Pope. A carver was employed to furnish the figure of a man in wood and hollowed inside. They filled him with gunpowder; dressed him in the papal habit, triple crown, &c., and marched, with his holiness, from the Divinity Hall. They had intended to burn him at the Cross, but found it necessary to adjourn for this purpose to an obscure lane. For this exhibition, unbecoming the character of students, Ridpath was obliged to abscond; but, returning from his hiding place at the Revolution, he was appointed a clerk of session. He translated Sir Thomas Craig’s Treatise on Scotland’s Sovereignty. He died in 1717.

Robert Rollock, son of David Rollo of Powhouse, in the neighbourhood of Bannockburn, born in 1560, had studied at St. Andrews, and, when very young, been elected regent of St. Salvator’s College. He was, in 1583, when only in his twenty-fourth year, appointed principal of Edinburgh College, which had been erected the year before. He was a minister in Edinburgh. He was moderator of the General Assembly in Dundee, 1597. He died in 1601, in his forty-first year. His intense study had brought on premature disease. He published admired commentaries in Latin, on Ephesians, Revelations, St. John’s gospel, and Daniel; besides sermons.

William Symington, of the Wanlockhead mines, and inventor of the first steam-vessel, lived for many years at Falkirk.

The first Earl of Stirling, Sir William Alexander, Bart., of Menstrie, was not only an eminent scholar, but a true poet as well. His first poetical effusions were founded on an unsuccessful passion for an inexorable fair one, whom he fancifully called "Aurora." She had married a much older person; and Alexander, like another Petrarch, continued to address her in lachrymatory sonnets. He, at length, consoled himself by marrying another. Next, as poet, he set himself to write tragedies. They were to hold the mirror up to princes, and are hence called "Monarchie." They had, indeed, another title, "Elegiac Dialogues for the Instruction of the Great." Had he checked the intemperate ambition and cruel rapacity of his noble pupil, armed with royal letters of fire and sword, however a negative benefit might have passed unperceived and unpraised, he had rendered a service to humanity. The point of the "Monarchie Tragedies" is to illustrate the superiority of Merit to Dignity,

"More than a crown true worth should be esteemed.
One Fortune gives, the other is our own;
By which the mind from anguish is redeemed,
When Fortune’s goods are by herself o’erthrown." Croesus.

"Who would the title of true worth were his,
Must vanquish vice, and no base thoughts conceive.
The bravest trophy ever man obtained
Is that which o’er himself himself hath gained." Darius

One of these plays, called the "the Alexandraean," gave rise to an epigram by Arthur Johnson, editor of his "Whole Works."

"Confer Alexandros; Macedo victricibus armis
Magnus erat, Scotus carmine Major uter?"

Sir William likewise wrote what he calls "Paraenesis, or Exhortations to Government," addressed to Prince Henry, a very noble poem, and said to be the poet’s master piece. We quote a specimen.

"O heavenly Knowledge! which the best sort loves,
Life of the soul! reformer of the will!
Clear light! which from the mind each cloud removes,
Pure spring of vertue, physick for each ill!
Which, in prosperity a bridle proves,
And, in adversity, a pillar still.
Of thee the more men get, the more they crave,
And think, the more they get, the lesse they have."

This poem must bear date, of course, before 1612, the year of the prince’s death. He finished his large sacred poem, "Doomsday," in 1614; and his "Supplement" to complete the 3rd part of Sir Philip Sydney’s Arcadia, in 1621. He also wrote "Jonathan," a heroic poem; besides minor productions, some of them in prose, and connected with his transatlantic possessions. Addison said of the "Whole Works" of the poetical peer, "I have read them over with the greatest satisfaction."

John Walker, L.L.D., the distinguished engineer of London, was born and educated in Falkirk. His father was a respectable merchant in the town; and likewise proprietor and occupier of an extensive farm in the neighbourhood.

James Wilson, D.D., who died in 1829, was translated from Mid-Calder to Falkirk in 1794. In 1801, he published a History of Egypt in three volumes; and in 1819, Prayers for Families and Individuals. Besides these works, he was the author of several smaller publications. A son who survived him, became minister of Irvine, and also published various theological books of some note.


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