Gartshore House, Residence of Alexander
Is a place of great
antiquity, the family of Gartshore of that Ilk—as they were called—being
in possession of a charter so far back as the reign of Alexander II.
“William Cumin, Count of
Buchan: To all men and his friends who may see or hear this charter,
Greeting. Let them know now and in all time coming that I have given in
Excambion, granted, and by this charter confirmed to John son of Galfred
(in exchange) for a half of and for a toft and croft of ground which is
situated in the town of Donnybenyn, That of the land of Gartshore, with
its proper divisions, boundaries, and with all its just pertinents.
Which of ground Cristin Crumachetts bought. To be holden and had of me,
and my heirs in Feu and heritage freely and quietly. Paying me and my
heirs a half Mary (Mark) of silver at two terms: viz. at Pentecost 40
pence, and at Martinmas 40 pence for all service and exaction: And the
service of the Lord the King. Witnesses: Robert Winiter, Robert of
Limolne, Rodolph Pontiloft, John of St. Clair.”
The charter is not dated,
but is certain to have been granted between 1211 and 1231, during the
reign of Alexander II.
On 21st December, 1553,
James, Lord Fleming, confirmed a charter by which James, Duke of
Chatelherault, Earl of Arran, sold to his eldest daughter, Barbary
Hamilton, the liferent of Easter and Wester Gartshore and others: and
from the Privy Council Register 22nd October, 1579 there is a caution
for John Gartschoir, alias Golfurd, of Gartschoir: and again, on 20th
June, 1594, John Gartscho of that Ilk, becomes surety for certain
burgesses of Kirkintilloch.
About the end of the
reign of King Charles I. the estate was in possession of Captain Patrick
Gartshore of that Ilk, who was reckoned a “gentleman of honour and a
brave soldier.” He is likely to have been the “Laird of Gartshore” who
appears in the records of Parliament as a Commissioner on Loans and
Taxes, 1643; on the Committee of War, 1647-48; and as Member of
Parliament for Dumbartonshire, 1685-86.
When he died without
issue the succession devolved on his immediate younger brother James
Gartshore, D.D., Parson of Cardross. The doctor possessed the estate for
some years, but as it was burdened with a liferent to his brothers
widow, and encumbered with debt contracted by his brother while in the
army; he, for payment of these obligations, assigned the property to his
youngest brother, Alexander Gartshore, who was bred a merchant.
John Hamilton, Writer to
the Signet, was despatched by the Jacobites in Scotland in 1708 to the
Duke of Hamilton, then at Ashton in England, with the intelligence of
the projected invasion by the Pretender. He married a daughter of
Gartshore of Gartshore and had two daughters, of whom the eldest, Helen,
was married to Sir Patrick Murray, fourth Baronet of Ochtertyre.
"Dr. Maxwell Gartshore
was son of the Rev. Dr. James Gartshore, staled to be grandson of James
Gartshore of that Ilk, Dumbartonshire, whose family was nearly ruined
through their loyalty to Charles I. Dr. James Gartshore entered the
Church, and obtained the parish of Anwoth in 1714. In 1721 he was
translated to the parish of Kirkcudbright, which he retained until his
death in 1760. He married the only daughter of the Rev. William Maxwell,
minister of Minigaff, and sister to Colonel William Maxwell of Cardoness.
His son, Dr. Maxwell Gartshore, married secondly in 1795, the widow of
William Murrell, merchant, London, and of Charlton, Kent—she died in
1797. Doctor Maxwell Gartshore died in 1812. We find it recorded that he
was of very high standing as a man of science, etc., and a great
philanthropist. Once a week he received at his house all the literary
and other talent assembled in London. He is stated to have possessed
rare qualities, and was an honour to his country.”
Alexander Gartshore held
the property in 1713, and in 1771 John Gartshore was registered in it as
heir to his grandfather. Miss Marjory Gartshore, his sister German, and
only child of the deceased John Gartshore, merchant in Glasgow,
succeeded in 1806 to the estates. Shfc died 9th January, 1814, and was
succeeded by John Murray, second son of Sir Patrick Murray, sixth
Baronet of Ochtertyre, who assumed the name of Gartshore.
Mr. Murray Gartshore was
born nth October, 1804. He got a commission as ensign in the 72nd
Regiment, and was gazetted 1st August, 1823. He afterwards joined the
42nd Royal Highlanders, and whilst in the army was stationed, among
other places, at Gibraltar, Malta, and Corfu; was appointed Resident at
Paxo in 1835, and promoted to Ithaca in 1836.
At Corfu, 5th August,
1836, he married Mary, fourth daughter of Sir Howard Douglas, Lord High
Commissioner of the Ionian Islands; and in 1840 he sold out of the army
and went to live at Gartshore.
He had three children:
Mary Anne Georgina; Anne, who died in 1847 > a°d John, who died in 1857.
Mrs. Murray Gartshore,
who was well known for her musical talent, died in 1851 at Ropehill,
Lymington, Hants; where they had gone on account of their son's health.
Sheriff Allison wrote of
“About this time we
formed an acquaintance with a most charming person, now, alas! no more,
who was not only herself a very great acquisition to our society in
Lanarkshire, but was the means of introducing us to her father, one of
the many gallant and distinguished officers of the British army. General
Sir Howard Douglas’s fourth daughter, Mary, had married, early in life,
when her father was Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian
Islands,—Captain Murray Gartshore, second son of Sir Patrick Murray of
Ochtertyre, in Perthshire, from whom he inherited a considerable estate,
at no great distance from Glasgow, in Dumbartonshire. He was at that
time in the 42nd Highlanders; and our first acquaintance with him was in
1841, when he was stationed with his regiment in Glasgow. He soon,
however, sold out, and settled with his wife on his estate of Gartshore,
about twelve miles from Possil. A great intimacy sprang up between the
two families, and we found Mrs. Gartshore an invaluable addition to our
society. Gifted by nature with brilliant talents, which had been
improved to the utmost by a liberal education, highly polished in her
manners, and eloquent in conversation, she possessed at the same time
those peculiar powers which, had her sphere in life been different,
would have raised her to the very highest position on the stage. She
once said to me, ‘Nature intended me for a prima donna, but chance made
me a baronet’s daughter, so my life has been rnanquis. That was truly
her feeling, and the words were spoken without either vanity or
affectation, for she felt the ambition to obtain such distinction, and
was conscious of the powers which would have secured her in obtaining
it. She had extraordinary dramatic powers both in singing and acting;
was a superb pianist, and equally capable of representing with the
highest effect the characters or scenes of others, and of imagining
either new pieces for the stage, or fresh melodies for song. She was at
once a first-rate musician, a good composer, and a brilliant actress.
The simplicity of her character enhanced the value of this extraordinary
combination of gifts; but it was impossible that such talents could long
remain buried in obscurity at the foot of the Campsie Hills. Her fame
ere long spread to London, in the very first circles of which she passed
several months during the season for the last years of her life. The
manner in which she was there instead and run after was extraordinary.
All drawing-rooms were thrown open to her, from her godmother’s, the
Duchess of Gloucester, downwards; every one was anxious to secure the
aid of her brilliant powers to throw a radiance over their
assemblies.....During the autumn of 1847, wc had the honour of receiving
at Possil, Prince Waldemar of Prussia with his suite, who remained with
us two days, which were most delightfully spent. We had a charming party
in the house to meet them, among whom was Mr. and Mrs. Murray
Mr. Murray Gartshore
married secondly 29th July, 1852, Augusta Louisa, widow of the Rev.
William Casabon Purdon, of Tinneranna, County Clare, Vicar of Loxley,
Warwickshire; and the only child of the Rev. George F. Tavel (by Lady
Augusta Fitzroy, his wife; daughter of Augustus, third Duke of Grafton).
In 1870 Mr. Murray Gartshore sold the estate of Gartshore to Alexander
Whitelaw, Esq., of Woodhall, and lived in Stirling till 1873, when he
bought the estate of Ravelston from his nephew, Sir Patrick Keith
Murray, and settled there with his family. Mr. Murray Gartshore had a
paralytic shock in August, 1877, from which he never fully recovered,
and on 22nd June, 1884, he peacefully breathed his last.
While resident at
Gartshore he took an active interest in all the public affairs of his
county and parish, and the town of Kirkintilloch, where his appearance
was familiar for many years. He was a Deputy-Lieutenant for
Dumbartonshire, and took a warm interest in the Volunteer movement; the
1st Dumbartonshire Regiment of Rifle Volunteers being raised by him on
1st October, 1859, of which he was commissioned Colonel. He was also
Chairman of the Parochial Board for a good many years, and was
especially interested and active in the movement for establishing
Industrial Schools, which were the means of education being given at a
nominal rate to many who would otherwise have grown up in ignorance.
This was long before the days of compulsory education.
Those who knew the late
Mr. Murray Gartshore will agree with us that his character was a
singularly beautiful one.
Although of ancient
descent, he never seemed to be conscious of it, being by instinct and
feeling a thorough gentleman ; and was at all times accessible to rich
or poor alike; his manners and address being such as made it always a
pleasure to meet him—there was no pretension or self-assertion about
Upright in all his
dealings, he never wittingly swerved from the path of integrity.
He was also a man of warm
sympathies, and an affectionate nature; dear to all his friends, and to
whoever came into close relations with him.
He was really kind—not
obtrusively, but genuinely so— to many, that only a considerate,
benevolent nature would have thought of aiding or befriending, and from
whom he could expect no return.1
He aimed at living a true
Christian life, and if he fell short of the beautiful ideal, it
was*because nothing else is possible for frail human nature.
The following extracts
from a sermon preached after his death by Rev. A. Keay, Stockbridge Free
Church, 29th June, 1884, will show that his career ended in keeping with
what was known of him while at Gartshore.
“His strength both of
body and mind had been considerably shattered by the natural infirmities
of age, and by the inroads of disease before I came amongst you; but I
remember well with what warmth, appreciation, and gratitude many in his
elder’s district spoke to me of his great sympathy and kindness, when I
went my first rounds amongst them; and how they regretted that he was no
longer able to discharge the duties to which he had devoted himself so
faithfully. He was sorely missed by those to whom he had ministered
counsel, comfort, and help. . . . He was a man of genuine kindness of
heart and simplicity of character—a very Nathanael in whom there was no
guile; a true man of God. A man of greater humility I have seldom met
with, and it did not need the testimony of letters found amongst his
papers after death to tell us on what his hopes for eternity rested. In
these letters he stated in the most explicit terms his sense of personal
unworthiness, and his entire dependence as a lost sinner on the precious
blood of Christ. . . . His whole character and conduct was a living
epistle, known and read of all men. There is one thing I would like
specially to mention, because it was among his last thoughts, before he
was laid aside by his very severe illness; and that was his deep
interest in the poor children of Stockbridge. Through me he gave a sum
of money every month in order to provide a free breakfast to a large
number of the poor children. This has been kept up, as you are aware,
during the winter. . . He loved our communion seasons. We liked to see
his venerable form—we shall see it no more. He is not here to-day, but
his Master is here. Let us, brethren, seek to follow him as he followed
Christ. Let us see that every one of us may be found walking in the
lowly footsteps which were characteristic of him in all his ways.”
The ancient mansion-house
of Gartshore, which sheltered so many of that name, was built in, 1630.
The initials above one of the windows, “A. G. & S. B.,” were those of
Alexander Gartshore and Sarah Brand, his wife.”
The house is now a thing
of the past, being taken down by the present proprietor, Alexander
Whitelaw, Esq., and replaced by a magnificent mansion, with new
approaches, and the grounds have been rearranged and laid out with much
Kindness and courtesy
seem to be hereditary in the Murrays and Gartshores. The present Sir
Patrick Murray of Ochtertyre has a beautiful lake on his property, and
not only are his grounds and the lake open to the public, but he keeps
several boats for their use, and also a supply of coals and wood; so
that they may have tea at pleasure. A well-known inhabitant of
Kirkintilloch used to say that “it requires three generations to make a
gentleman,” and it does seem as if he were about right; at all events
what we have recorded is in favour of his theory.
William Muir the
Birdstone poet, has some lines on “Miss Gartshore of Gartshore, who died
at an advanced age, January, 1814.”
Here Miss Gartshore lies,
Entomb’d mid the sighs
Of her mourning parochial poor,
Who oft felt her aid,
With an angel’s soft tread,
Try the latch of the hovel’s dark door.
Ostentation’s pert air
Never, never came there
To blazon the donor's proud name,
But charity mild,
With the looks of a child,
That blush’d as it told why it came.
Also “on John Gartshore,
Esquire of Gartshore, who died 20th December, 1805, universally lamented
for his affability and simplicity of character.”
While he dwelt upon earth,
His ingenuous worth,
Made him rank every man as his brother;
Their merit was not
In the cloth of their coat,
Though some take this rule and no other.
The child in his way,
The old mendicant grey,
Could stop him to hear their discourse,
Their distress or their news,
Would relax his mild brows,
And open by magic his purse.
With him, from the crows,
Their inveterate foes,
They were safe in his woodlands to breed.
Their slow pinion'd flight,
Was his theme of delight,
As they winnow’d the air round his head.
Take him all in all,
Since Adam’s first fall
(When pride and depravity enter’d),
You’ll hardly find one,
Like honest Squire John,
Where wealth and humility centr'd.