John Guthrie Smith.

The parish of Strathblane and its inhabitants from early times : a chapter in Lennox history online

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'45 " much interfered with his commercial pursuits, still he had acquired by his
traffic in the " fragrant weed " enough to redeem the lands of Craigbarnet,
and moreover to acquire for the family lands in Strathblane. Besides the
tobacco business he engaged in other speculations, such as a company called
" The Glasgow Cattle Slaughtering Company," which, however, ended rather
disastrously.^ Whether James Stirling made his money by the Virginia trade
solely, or by it in conjunction with other business, matters little, the pleas-
ing fact remains that in September, 1760,2 he bought the Kirklands of Strath-
blane from James Stirling of Law and Edenbarnet for 30,000 merks Scots =
^1,666 13s. 4d. sterling and twenty-five guineas to Mrs. Stirling, and in 1768,
all debts being paid off, he redeemed by purchase from Archibald Stirling of
Keir, for ^14,500 Scots = ;^ 1,2 08 6s. 8d. sterling, the lands of Craigbarnet,
and thus regained the old family property.^

James Stirling's wife was Catherine, daughter of James Monteith of Auld-
cathy, by whom he had one son, John, who succeeded to Craigbarnet, and
a daughter, Charlotte, who married James Gartshore of Alderston, and had a
large family, of whom one only survived, Alexander, who succeeded to Craig-
barnet after his uncle's death.* James Stirling died in 1774.^

^ The partners in this concern, which started in 1739, were James Stirling of Craigbarnet,
John Graham of Dougalston, Alexander Wotherspoon, writer in Glasgow, and others, but
though cattle were cheap — the first purchase of the Company being fifty cows for ;rf lOO — beef
was cheap also (2d. per Ih. at this time), and the venture did not pay, and proving a complete
failure next year, was wound up to the loss of all parties concerned. — Glasgmv Past and
Present, vol. ii. p. 66.

^ Craigbarnet Writs. ^ Craigbarnet Writs.

^ There is a beautiful spreading old plane tree just at the entrance of the new avenue to
Craigbarnet from the Strathblane side, and under its shade stood a cottage where lived a
worthy pair, one of whose daughters was a pretty girl who was dairymaid at Craigend farm,
just across the public road. " Burrie " used to visit this lass, and by and by in this humble home
a son was born to them who was named James Stirling. James after a time lived in the
"big house," and was treated like a son of the family, but on some occasion he received, or
supposed he had received, an insult about his birth. High-spirited and energetic, he at once
left Craigbarnet, and it was not for some considerable time that it was found he had enlisted as
a private in the 42nd Royal Highlanders. He rose rapidly to the highest grade of non-
commissioned officers in this regiment, and then, at the request of the colonel, his father



John Stirling, twelfth of Craigbarnet and second of Kirklands, succeeded
on his father's death. He married Anne, daughter
of Sir Patrick Murray of Balmanno, but had
no children. The house his ancestor had built
in the bog in 1662 does not seem to have
been a satisfactory one, but nothing could be
better either as to site or comfort than the
house John Stirling built in 1786 in place of
it. The fine public rooms and beautiful ceilings
and general arrangements show that he was a
man of both good sense and taste. He died in
1805, and was succeeded by his nephew, Alexander

Gartshore.^ As registered in the Lyon Office.


purchased him a commission in it. By 1798 he was major in the regiment, by 18 12 colonel of it,
and by 4th January, 1814, major-general in the army. He commanded the left wing of the
42nd at the battle of Alexandria in Egypt, where he captured the colours of the French In-
vincibles. He led his regiment, too, at the battle of Corunna. During the campaign in the
Peninsula he was in command of a brigade (6th division), and was present at the battles of the
Pyrenees and Salamanca. He also served through the American War, 181 3- 14. When he
returned to England in 1813 the Duke of Wellington wrote of him, "I believe it is universally
admitted that there is not anywhere a more gallant soldier than he is," and the memory of
this worthy scion of a brave and loyal Strathblane race is still cherished with pride in the
" Black Watch," a regiment nearly half a century afterwards commanded by his gallant relative,
Major Charles Campbell Graham Stirling, the present laird of Craigbarnet, at the final and
successful assault on Sebastopol in 1855. By his wife, Jean Fisher, General Stirling had a
daughter, Jean, who was born at Craigbarnet, 17th May, 1785, and a son, James, born in
1792, who died at an early age, an officer in the 42nd regiment. Miss Stirling, his daughter,
married Captain John Home, and their family consisted of — ^James Stirling Home, Alexander
Home, Gartshore Stirling Home, Jane Home, and Christina Home. General Stirling died at
Musselburgh, 12th December, 1834, and was buried in Edinburgh, a detachment of the 42nd
firing a military salute over his grave.

^ A short time ago a very interesting addition was made to the family portraits at Craig-
barnet — a picture of the veritable "Burrie." Major Graham Stirling got it in a .very pleasant
way. He had been looking over a number of old Craigbarnet family accounts when he came
upon a receipt from John Medina for payment of a portrait he had painted of James Stirling,
"Old Burrie." There was no such picture at Craigbarnet. As the then Erskine of Cardross
was agent for the Craigbarnet family, it struck Major Graham Stirling that the present Mr.
Erskine of Cardross might know something of the whereabouts of this portrait. He accord-
ingly wrote to him, and was informed in reply that there was a portrait of a "Mr. Stirling of
Craigbarnet " in his possession, evidently of the period named, but how it came into his family
he could not tell. Mr. Erskine added, in the handsomest way, that as the Stirlings of Craig-
barnet and the Erskines of Cardross had lived on the most friendly terms for many generations,
it would afford him pleasure to return the picture to Craigbarnet, where, he trusted, it would
long remain as an heirloom in the family. The portrait, which is a fine one, is that of a
young man. The painter is the younger Medina.

^ The arms of John Stirling of Craigbarnet, as given above — the tinctures not being shown
in the woodcut — are those registered in the Lyon Office, and they are those now in use by
the family. They are, however, wrong. Those on John Stirling's livery button would be correct
had the stag's head been cabossed. Before George Stirling married about 1500, Elizabeth, one
of the co-heiresse.s of William Park of Park, the arms of the Craigbarnet family were a bend



Alexander Gartshore Stirling, thirteenth of Craigbarnet and third of Kirk-
lands, was born in 1773. He was a lieutenant in the navy, where he had seen
service, and the medal which he wore was received for being present at Admiral
Cornwallis' famous defeat of a French fleet, four times superior in force, on the
17th June, 1795. He was then serving on board the Bellerophon under
Captain Lord Cranstoun.^ On succeeding to Craigbarnet Mr. Gartshore as-
sumed the name of Stirling and retired from the navy, and lived to a good
old age a thorough country gentleman, a thorough good sportsman, and a
thorough good friend. He died childless 21st April, 1852. His widow, Anne
Miller, daughter of James Miller of Millerstoun — a charming old lady — died
9th April, 1870, aged 87 years. This laird of Craigbarnet had added, as
already shown, to the family estates, by the purchase in 1846, of certain parts
of the Middletoun of Easter Mugdock. When " Craigbarnet," for he was never
called anything else, died, he was succeeded, in virtue of an entail made in
1799 by John Stirling, twelfth of Craigbarnet, by Major Charles Campbell
Graham, 42nd Royal Highlanders.

Charles Campbell Graham Stirling, fourteenth of Craigbarnet and fourth of
Kirklands, is great-grandson of Mary Stirling, daughter of Mungo Stirling, tenth
of Craigbarnet, and Robert Graham. On succeeding he assumed the name of

charged with a mullet between two buckles, with the Lennox saltire in chief and base and the

Lennox rose in the chief point ; all as shown in the seal of

George Stirling, younger of Craigbarnet, of which a woodcut is

given on page 132. After, however, the marriage to the heiress

of Park it was very natural and proper that the Craigbarnet

family should assume part of the bearings of Park of Park.

The mullet and the two saltires were therefore removed,

and the arms thereafter were the bend engrailed charged with

three buckles between a rose in chief for Lennox and a stag's

head cabossed in base for Park. This stag's head cabossed

has been changed by the Lyon Office, evidently through some

mistake, into a boar's head cabossed, a charge or bearing

quite unknown in Scottish heraldiy. It is very probable this

error arose from the bearings being indistinct or worn off

on some old seal which John Stirling may have sent to the

Lyon Office when he registered his arms. The mistake,

however it was made, is discreditable to the Lyon of the

day. The stag's head on the button is couped not cabossed,

and in Sir David Lindsay's Heraldic Manuscript, page 97, it is so given, but there seems

little doubt that the proper bearing is a stag's head cabossed.— Ste Scottish Arms, R. R.

Stodart, vol. ii. p. 188, and Nisbet's Heraldry, vol. i. p. 335.

^ Account of naval and military banquet held in Glasgow, 2lst June, 1849.

2 James Burden of Feddal was the last male of a very ancient Perthshire family. He had
three daughters — (i) Margaret, who died without issue; (2) Anne, who married Robert Camp-
bell of Torry, a cadet of Dunstaffnage ; and (3) Elizabeth, who married John Campbell.
After James Burden's death his eldest" daughter, Margaret, succeeded to his estate. On her
death in 1772 her niece, Agnes Campbell, her sister Anne's daughter, succeeded. She had




The new Craigbarnet, true to the instincts of the fine race from which he
sprang, had chosen the military profession, and in the trenches before Sebas-
topol, and at the final assault on the great fortress, where he led the gallant
42nd, proved by his actions that the house of Craigbarnet, though old, was not
effete, and that he, like all his ancestors, was well entitled to the proud motto
of the family, " Semper fidelis " — Ever faithful.

Major Graham Stirling married at Ballagan in Strathblane, 2nd December,
1856, Elizabeth Agnes, elder daughter of the late Robert Dunmore Napier of
Ballikinrain ; and has an only child, Caroline Frances, born 1857, and who
married loth January, 1883, George H, Miller, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy,
third son of the late James B. Miller of Muirshiels, Renfrewshire.^

Having thus brought down the history of the Stirlings of Craigbarnet and
the Kirklands of Strathblane to the present day, we now retrace our steps and
give some account of the Stirlings of Glorat, who from the year 15 18 or
thereby, when they came into possession of the Kirklands of Strathblane, till
1681, when they sold them to their relatives, the Stirlings of Law, were a most
distinguished Strathblane family.


William Stirling, first of Glorat in Campsie, and Kirklands in Strathblane,
was second son of Sir John Stirling, third of Craigbarnet, and Margaret
Abernethy, daughter of Lord Abernethy of Saltoun. On the loth October,
1508, he had a charter from Mathew Earl of Lennox of the lands of Glorat,
on the resignation of Sir John, his father.^ The Earl in this deed calls
William Stirling " his beloved servitor," and his father. Sir John, " his beloved
cousin." Ten years afterwards the laird of Glorat was also laird of the Kirk-
lands of Strathblane.^

The Kirklands of Strathblane, as already shown, belonged to the Collegiate
Church of Dumbarton, and in 1461 George Abernethy Avas its provost. He
was, no doubt, a near relative of the Lady of Craigbarnet, for when in 1508

married Robert Graham of Milntown of Strathgartney, son of Robert Graham in Shannoch-
hill — a cadet of the family of Graham of Gartur, who claim to be heirs male of the Earls
of Menteith— by Mary, his wife, daughter of Mungo Stirling of Craigbarnet. On succeeding
to Feddal she assumed the name of Burden. Her second son, John Graham, married Isabella
Campbell, and they were the parents of Major Charles Campbell Graham Stirling, the present
possessor of Craigbarnet.

^ They have a daughter, Elizabeth Georgina Caroline Miller, boi-n at Greenock, 9th
November, 1883.

2 Glorat Writs. Abstract printed in Stirlitigs of Craigbernard and Glorat, p. 82, and in full in
Stirlings of Keir, p. 288.

' Kirkland Writs, in the possession of Stirling of Craigbarnet.


Sir John, her husband, granted a sum of money for masses to be said in
the Church of Campsie, and in a chapel founded in his place of Craigbarnet,
for the souls of himself, his wife, and other persons already dead, George
Abernethy was included. In 1502, in one of the Craigbarnet charters, "magister
Walter Abernethy," Provost of Dumbarton, is among the witnesses, and he was
the "carnal" son of Provost George Abernethy.^ On the 4th March, 1516-17,
William Stirling of Glorat had a gift from my Lord Governor Albany " of all
landis annueUis and gudis mouable vnmouable quhilkis pertenit to vmquhile
Maister Walter Abirnethy, prouest of the College Kirk of Dunbertane, and
now pertening or may pertene to our Souerane lord and to my lord gouernouris
dispositioun be resoun of eschete throw deces of the said Maister Walter quhilk
wes born bastard and deit without lauchfull are of his body gottin." The
reason assigned for this gift was William Stirling's "gude and thankfull seruice
done to our Souerane lord and my lord gouernour." ^ Among the rights that came
into the Glorat family with this grant was the patronage of " twa beidmanschipis
in the burgh of Dumbartane founded be vmquhill ane venerabill man Master
Walter Abernethie then proveist of the Colledge Kirk of the said burgh." ^ It
is possible that one or other of these provosts Abernethy may have made
a grant of the Kirklands to their relative of Glorat, but more probably it
was a direct reward for services rendered, from the Earl of Lennox, who
was patron of the provostry. In 1497 Sir John Stirling of Craigbarnet was
appointed Governor of Dumbarton Castle for nineteen years. Towards the
latter part of this term William of Glorat, his son, acted as deputy for him,
and in 15 10 he handed it over to Lord Erskine, the new keeper. After the
battle of Flodden, in the autumn of 15 13, the country was torn by the
disputes of rival factions, and the possession of Dumbarton Castle was
eagerly sought for by each of them. William Stirling of Glorat, assisted
by a number of the principal gentlemen of the Lennox, attacked it early
in 15 14, and succeeded in placing it in the Earl of Lennox' hands. For this
he had from the grateful Earl, in February, 15 14, a grant appointing him
Captain and Keeper of the fortress for his lifetime, and the Earl also in the
same month came under an obligation to infeft him in the lands of Keppoch
within a year. Whether he did so or not does not appear,* but with-

^ Glorat Writs, printed in full in Stirlings of Keir, p. 23S, and in abstract in Stirlings of
C raigbernard and Glorat, p. 70.

■^ This Deed of Gift is among the Writs of the Burgh nf Dumbarton, and is printed in full
in the appendix.

^ Writs of the Burgh of Dumbarton. The form of presentation to these beadmanships is
curious, and will be found in the appendix.

* He probably kept his word, for George Stirling, William's son and successor, had it in



out doubt by 15 18 William Stirling was in possession of the Kirklands of
Strathblane,^ and very possibly the Earl may have granted them to his gallant
friend either in place of the lands of Keppoch or as an additional reward for
what are termed in the obligation " the labouris, travellis, costis, and expensis "
of "our traist cousyng and familiar servitour Williame Striuelyng of Gloret."^
The Kirklands were soon after this divided, as already shown, the west half of
the lands of Ballagan and the Hill of Dunglass which formed part of them, being
conveyed by William to his brother Walter, who thus became the first Stirling
of Ballagan. The east half of Ballagan was not disjoined from the Kirklands
till 1657. William Stirling was a loyal subject, and we are told that while
being employed by His Majesty (James V.) he "was cruellie slayen coming
from Stirling to Dumbarton be those who wes hounded out for that end,
becaus the said William did take the Castell of Dumbarton from those who
was in possession thereof, and did possess the said John Earl of Lennox
therein." This was in 1534, and the murderers were "Humphry Galbrayth
and his accomplices." Two of the sons of Sir John Colquhoun of Luss, and
Andrew Cunyngham of Drumquhassil, and William Cunyngham of Fenyk,
were also concerned in this affair.^

William Stirling was twice married,* first, to Mariota or Marion Brisbane,
by whom he had George, his heir, and secondly, to Margaret Houstoun,^ by
whom he had Andrew, first of Law; James, John, and Walter, who, like his
father, came to a violent end, being murdered by the Sempills of Fullwood,
3rd March, 1545-46.^

1 Kirklands Writs.

2 Obligation printed in Stirlmgs of Keir, p. 301,

* Pitcairn's Crim. Trials, vol. i. p. 170. Three years before this time William Stirling had
been acting the pai't of a peacemaker, as appears from a contract between Marion Maxwell,
Lady of Bardowy, and Alan Hamilton of Bardowy, her son, on the one part, and John Logan
of Balwee, for his kin and friends, on the other part, whereby they chose Patrick Maxwell of
Newark and William Striueling of Glorat, captain of Dumbarton, neutral persons, as arbiters to
decide regarding all slaughters, hurts, and debates betwixt the contracting parties, their kin, and
friends. John Logan also binds himself to persuade Colin Campbell of Auchinhowie to concur
and agree with Alan Hamilton as to disputes betwixt them ; and if any of the friends, especi-
ally the Laird of Colgrane (Danielstoun) on one side and the Laird of Cowdoun on the other,
will not submit to the arbiters chosen, they shall appoint their own arbiters. Dated at Dum-
barton, 17th June, 1531 — Witnesses, John Striueling of Craigbarnet, Maister James Striueling,
parson of Kilmodene, Walter Striueling in Balagane, Walter Galbraitht of Kerscadden, Maister
John Ker, John Busbae of Mukcrawft, John Lenox, Sir Thomas Jacson, and Thomas Bishop,
notary. — (Keir Writs, Hist. MSS. Commission.)

■* Deed printed in Stirlings of Craigberna7-d and Glorat, p. 86, and in Stirlings of Keir,
P- 313-

* Dumbarton Records, Dennistoun MS., quoted from Stv-lings of Keir, p. 139, and Reg.
Mag. Sig., 23 Jac. V. a.d. 1536.

^ Pitcairn's Crifn. Trials, vol. i. p. 333.


George Stirling, second of Glorat and Kirklands, succeeded his father and
made up his titles in due time, his Strathblane charters being a precept of
clare constat by Robert, Bishop of Orkney, Provost of the Collegiate Church of
the Blessed Virgin Mary of Dumbarton, for infefting him as heir to his father
in the Kirklands of Strathblane, to be held ward, signed at Dumbarton, 12th
August, 1537. The instrument of sasine "ad terras ecclesiasticas de Strablane,"
is dated 22nd August. "Andrew Cunynghame of Blayrquhoise," a neighbouring
Strathblane laird, was Bailie for the purpose, and the witnesses were Walter
Stirling of Ballagan, John Sempill, John Stirling, brother-german to the said
George, John Abernethie, and Andrew Bryce.^

Like his father, George Stirling was Captain of Dumbarton Castle, an office
which was ratified to him by King James V,, 13th April, 1534. The Deed
of Ratification runs thus — "Rex, we having consideration of the thankfuU and
true service done to us and our maist noble father be umquhill William Stirling
of Glorat and his father, and that the said William is crewelly slain the last
Good Friday acting for us direct in our chairge and service, be thir presents
ratifies and approves to George StirUng, his sone and air, the letter of asseda-
tion of the constabulary and keeping of our house and Castle of Dumbarton ; " ^
and on the 21st May, 1534, the King wrote to him thanking him for "good
service done to us att this time whereby ye could have done us nae greater
pleasour,"^ In 1543 Mathew Earl of Lennox returned to Scotland from France,
where he had been serving in the army for some years; and he proceeded
forthwith to attach George Stirling to his cause by granting or ratifying to
him the Captaincy of Dumbarton Castle,^ by granting to him the duties he
paid for the Kirklands,^ by confirming him in possession of the lands of
Keppoch, and generally by treating him with consideration. It is pleasant
to reflect that this ancient parishioner was like the rest of his race, a loyal
servant, and stood by his sovereign, when his friend and patron the Earl of
Lennox was acting as a traitor in 1544 by aiding King Henry VIII., and on
his behalf making a descent on the West Coast of Scotland with troops from
England. On his arrival off Dumbarton, Lennox demanded from George
Stirling the surrender of the Castle, not doubting that as he had obtained
the Captaincy of it from him he would at once render it up. But friend
though he was of Lennox, Stirling refused to be unfaithful to his • country,

1 Kirklands Writs.

^ Glorat Writs. Printed in full in Stirlings cf Keir, p. 352.

^Glorat Writs. Printed in full in Stirlings of Keir, p. 352.

* Stirlings of Craigbernard and Glorat, p. 19, and Stirlings of Keir, p. 140.

'^ See page 128.


and sallying forth drove off the Earl with his English allies.^ The life of
this brave soldier was but a short one, for in 1547 he was slain fighting
for his country against the English at the fatal battle of Pinkiecleuch."^ His
wife was Margaret, daughter of George Buchanan of Buchanan, to whom he
must have been married before 6th August, 1544, for on that date there is
a charter giving the Kirklands of Strathblane to her in liferent, and to the
heirs to be procreat betwixt her and George Stirling in fee.^ They had a son,
John, and the widow married before 1554 Mathew Douglas of Mains. "^

John Stirling, third of Glorat and Kirklands, was duly installed in these
estates^ some time after the death of his father. He was but young when
he succeeded, and he did not marry until some twenty years had passed,
and when he did so he had the good taste to choose a Strathblane lady,
Annabella, fourth daughter of Sir William Edmonstone of Duntreath.^ By her
he had a fine family of sons and daughters. He took part in the old feud
which raged between the Craigbarnet, Glorat, and Ballagan Stirlings and the
Kincaids, and was present at the attack upon the latter in June, 1581, when
Malcolm Kincaid, son of the laird of that ilk, was slain.''' For this he
was " put in ward in the Castell of Blackness," and only released on a

^"a.d. 1544 the Earle of Lennox fleies to England, and befor his departure wold have
delivered vpe Dtinbrittone Castle to the Englishe, quho, for that end, had entered the west,
and had approched neire to Dunbriton, under the conduct of Sr. Pieter Crussey, Sr. Ralphe
Wingfield, and Sr. Johne Winter Knights ; bot by the prudence and walor of Stirlinge the
Capitane and wthers good patriotts that then followed Lennox, zet more than him loved their
country, he to his grate shame and ignominey was disappoynted ; and the Englishe that by his
treachery had for a good number entred, were turned out headlonges." — Balfour's Annals of
Scotland, vol. i. p. 282.

^ Note among the Craigbarnet Papers.

^ Craigbarnet Writs, and Buchanan of Attchinar, p. 34.

* In 1558 James Edmestown of Ballewin raised an action against Margaret Bucquhanane, lady
Gloret, and Mathew Douglas of ye Mainis her spous. The latter by letters of assedatioun "sub-
scrivit by the said Margaret w' hir hand at the pen led be Sir Jhone Crawfurd, vicar pensioner of
Strablane and w* the said Mathows ain hand " set to the pursuer all and haill the lands callit
Kirklands w'in Strablane for the space of five years. The tack was dated about the feast of

Online LibraryJohn Guthrie SmithThe parish of Strathblane and its inhabitants from early times : a chapter in Lennox history → online text (page 18 of 45)