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Kirkintilloch Town and Parish

Gartshore House, Residence of Alexander Whitelaw, Esq.

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 this lady:—

“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 Gartshore.”

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 him.

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 taste.

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.

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