John Guthrie Smith.

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

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substantial building, many of the beams being of oak taken from a man-of-war
which had been broken up at Greenock. Immediately after the death of Robert
Provan his nephew, James Provan, made a settlement under which he left the
third of his whole means and estate to Moses Provan, his first cousin once
removed, whose descent we have already given. James Provan died in 1865.^

Moses Provan on this event succeeded to a third of the old man's estate ;
but to arrange matters properly with the other legatees the landed property
was put up for sale and bought in by him, and thus he became laird of the
Townhead of Auchengillan.

Moses Provan was a very well known man, accomplished, and of fine
literary tastes, and his untimely death was much lamented by his many friends.-
He married in 1871 Elizabeth Grieve, but died childless the same year.

1 Air. Provan was an elder of Strathblane. In days of old it was the custom in ihe
parish to have visitations by the minister and elders in the different districts of it, when all the
inhabitants were collected in one house, and there and then examined in their knowledge of
the Bible and Shorter Catechism, and thereafter suitably admonished and exhorted. The
author remembers well, though he could not have been more than six years old then, one of
these events, and the awe with which he entered Mr. Provan's kitchen, where were assembled,
all sitting solemnly round the room, Coubroughs, Aitkens, Ronalds, M'Indoes, Provans, and
many others of the district, including all his father's family, except the youngest, and all the
farm and house servants in the district. The minister and elders stood at the top of the room.
As far as he remembers things went off well on this occasion. There was, it is true, a good
deal of stumbling over "Effectual calling" and "the reasons annexed" and other "kittle"
questions, especially among the middle-aged ; but Mr. Hamilton Buchanan, the minister, one
of the most amiable of men, was mild and gentle, and no one was painfully put to the blush.
This was probably the last visitation of the kind that took place in the parish.

-Moses Provan was born at Easter Ledlowan, Killearn, 21st September, 1821. He began
life in Glasgow as assistant to Mr. M'Leod, bookseller, but the greater part of his business
career was in the firm of Messrs D. & A. Cuthbertson, accountants, of which in time he became
a partner and eventually the head. He took a warm interest in the education and well-being
of young men, and was one of the founders of what was called the Glasgow Commercial
College, an institution intended to give young men in business the benefit of higher education.
In 1S47 the Athenoeum was formed at Mr. Provan's suggestion and mainly through his efforts,
and the Commercial College was united to it. Mr. Provan is thus well entitled to be regarded
as the founder of the Glasgow Athenreum, and there is no doubt its subsequent success was
very much owing to the intelligent way in which he assisted in forming the library and
arranging the plans of classes and lectures. This he was well fitted to do from his knowledge
of books and his skill in classics, mathematics, and astronomy. In many other ways, too,
Mr. Provan was a most useful citizen of Glasgow, especially in matters relating to education,
science, and art.



James Provan, brother of the last laird, succeeded to Auchengillan, and as
already shown has considerably added to the estate. He takes a very warm
interest in everything connected with the well-being of Strathendrick, and is
one of the leading members of the Glasgow Water of Endrick Society. He
is also Chairman of the Glasgow Athenagmn. Though he is essentially one
of those who have " cam' oot o' the water/' as Killearn folks say of natives
of their parish, he has taken kindly to Strathblane, a parish with which his
ancestors have been so long connected.

Turning now to what we may call by way of distinction —


the half or ten shiUing land of the original Auchengillan, which was feued off
by the Earl of Montrose in 1631 to John Wair, we find it in the beginning
of the eighteenth century in the possession of William Weir, for so the name
was now spelt, a descendant of the original feuar. His lands lay south-west of
Townhead and Mid-Auchengilbn, and extended down to Carbeth. William
Weir married in 1753 Mary, daughter of David Provan, "the milner of the
Miln of Letter," of whom mention has been already made. Part of his lands
he farmed himself, and of parts WiUiam Buchanan and John Maiklom were
tenants. After his death his widow life-rented his lands for many years, and
they were ultimately sold by his heirs ^ early in this century. The purchasers
of Auchengillan were Walter and James Aitken, whose father had long leased
the lands from Mrs. Weir.

Walter Aitken — James was always a bachelor — married in 18 13 Margaret
Taylor, and died in 1855, aged 87. His widow died in 1860.2 Walter and
James Aitken sold a small part of their lands^ to John Guthrie of Carbeth in 181 7,
but with that exception, the son and nephew, James Aitken, succeeded to the
whole. He was an active, energetic man, and one of the best curlers in the

■'1795) "Weir's Heirs"— one half, Widow Weir and Archibald Gilchrist; one quarter, James
Thomson ; one quarter, Walter Aitken. — (Heritors' Minutes.)

- Walter Aitken used to tell numbers of old stories he had heard from his father of the doings
of the Highlanders in Strathblane in the '45 and other events of bygone years, and as Mrs. Aitk^
was very kind and agreeable, and had always a supply of a peculiar kind of biscuit with a very high
edge pn which could be laid such a large quantity of jelly that, in fact, the dainty morsel was jelly
and biscuit rather than biscuit and jelly, the house was a very popular one when the writer was a
child. Mrs. Aitken was born in the old farm-house at Carbeth which used to stand just where the
road leading to Mr. Graham's part of Carbeth leaves the Strathblane and Drymen road.
Walter Aitken was twenty years older than his wife, and remembered the wedding of her father
and mother. They were married at Netherglin Farm, near Kippen, and all the young men at
the wedding-party rode the whole way thence to Carbeth with the bride and bridegroom, and
saw them safely housed.

^ See Carbeth Guthrie.


Carbeth, practically the Strathblane, Curling Club, of which he was for long
the secretary. He died in 1879, and his sisters, Mary and Agnes Aitken,
Lomond Lodge, Killearn, now possess Auchengillan Aitken.

It only now remains to explain the history of the other third part of the
original Auchengillan, which may be called —


This was a five shilling land, and was feued off, as already shown, in 1631 to
Archibald Buchanan. It lay south-east of Aitken's and Provan's Auchengillans,
and it continued in the Buchanans' hands till the beginning of this century, the
last who possessed it being John Buchanan. He had two daughters, co-heiresses,
who married respectively John Ronald and Robert Brock. John Ronald's wife
inherited as her share —


and she lived with her husband in a house which stood just where the road to
Aitken's part of Auchengillan turns off the Drymen Road. It used to be a
picturesque cottage, covered with beautiful ivy ; but after the Ronalds left it, it fell
into decay, and is now a mass of ruins with fine plane trees growing in the middle
of what used to be the kitchen. The Ronalds got into debt to John Douglas of
Barloch, writer in Glasgow, and finally the place was sold in 1842 and 1849 to him
and Robert Rankin Holmes, also writer in Glasgow. On the death of the latter his
daughters succeeded, and, as already shown, it was from them acquired by the late
Moses Provan and James Provan of the Townhead of Auchengillan. The other
half of Auchengillan Buchanan, now called


and consisting of the Laigh or East Park and The Butts, was the share of Robert
Brock's wife. They had a son, Robert, who farmed the place himself after he
succeeded, and kept a public-house in what is now Craigmore offices. This was
one of the many places where the well-known " Wattie Buchanan " and his
passengers in the Drymen coach — the old " Northern Champion" — used to refresh
themselves on their journey from Glasgow, the wearied horses meanwhile resting
for a few minutes after dragging the lumbering vehicle up the steep hill from

Robert Brock died before 1846, and the lands were put up for sale and
bought by Daniel M'Gregor, stationmaster at Paisley. He improved them con-
siderably, and built a house upon them, which he named Craigmore after a


rocky bank covered with hazel and copsewood, on the lands of Carbeth and
within sight of his new house. Mr. M'Gregor sold Craigmore in 1855 to
James Ritchie, manager of the Gas Light Company, Glasgow, and it is now in
possession of his family.

To complete the history of the twenty shilling land of Auchengillan in Strath-
blane we have only to add that a very minute part of it is contained in the
estate of Aucheneden, belonging to John J. Pollock, which lies otherwise in the
parish of Killearn. This part is situated where Aucheneden and Auchengillan
lands join on the Drymen Road, and is part of the Field of Muirland, which
was formerly possessed pro indiviso by the portioners of Auchengillan, but has
for long been united to the estate of Aucheneden. 1


The compact little estate of Carbeth Guthrie was constructed, so to speak,
by John Guthrie, West India proprietor and merchant in Glasgow, between the
years 1808 and 1817. Its whole extent is 286 acres. It lies immediately to
the south of Auchengillan.

The original undivided Carbeth was a two merk land belonging to the
Barony of Mugdock. It was feued in 1631 and 1632 with consent of his
curators by James, Earl of Montrose, to the tenants then upon it, viz., James
Hendrie, John M'Indoe, Gilbert Ware, and James M'Indoe, one fourth each, in
consideration, as the deed of sale says, of " certain great sums of money " paid
by them,2 and the usual "reddendo" in the Mugdock feus.^ A part only of
the original Carbeth is in Carbeth Guthrie ; the Duke of Montrose still holds a
part, James Freeland in Broadgate, as heir of the late John MTndoe of Garvel,
holds another, and Mr. Barns Graham of Craigallian holds the rest.

The greater part of the original fourth belonging to James MTndoe, the
whole of James Hendrie's fourth, and a part of John MTndoe's fourth, which
had become George Ronald's, were all in the bands of James MTndoe, after

^ Nimmo in his History of Stirlingshire gives many interesting etymologies, a number of them,
however, very fanciriil ; and he translates Auchengillan, " The Little Field of the Servant." Mr!
James Provan of Auchengillan thinks, however, it means "The Field of the Servant of God," or
" Priest's Field," and argues that the Druidical meeting-places, of which there are supposed to be
remains in the parish, and notably in the neighbourhood, on the estate of Duntreath, would make
the services of a priest necessary, and Auchengillan was probably his dwelling-place. He also
points out in confirmation of his theoy that the word has some connection with Druidical worship,
the fact that a farm in the neighbourhood of the celebrated Druidical circle near Shiskin, Arran, is
called Auchengallan, which seems to be the same name. It is needless, perhaps, to go so far back
as the Druids, always supposing that any of the standing stones in Strathblane are Druidical, and
not, as the author thinks, monuments of deceased warriors. The Priest of Auchengillan, if priest
there was, may more likely have been some ancient Culdee saint or hermit, a follower of St.
Ninian, St. Mungo, or St. Blane, after the last of whom the parish may possibly be named,

2 Carbeth Guthrie Writs. ^ See Appendix,



many changes^ and subdivisions in the year 1808, and from him John Guthrie
bought them and began his operations and improvements. These lands lay
about the centre of the present Carbeth Guthrie, and the old house upon them
stood near some fine old ash trees about 100 yards west of what used to be
the dog kennel and close beside the present avenue at the spot where the
modern house first comes in sight. In 18 15 Mr. Guthrie bought from James
Norval, or Narwall as the name is spelt in the titles, part of the lands of
Arlehaven.2 This is the most easterly part of Carbeth Guthrie and includes
Allereoch and Blair or Blair's Hill, and in May, 1817, he had an excambion with
Sir Charles Edmonstone by which he acquired, by giving up about 16 acres of
Carbeth, a tongue of land of about 11 acres, part of Arlehaven, in the Barony
of Duntreath, which ran right up to Carbeth Loch and divided the property
very much into two. These arrangements formed the eastern part of the
estate into its present shape.

1 The two merk land of Carbeth was feued out in 1631-32 to the tenants then upon it,
viz. — I, James M'Indoe; 2, James Hendrie ; 3, John M'Indoe ; 4, Gilbert Ware, in equal
parts, 6/8 lands each. What followed was this : —

1. James M'Indoe's fourth of Carbeth, or at least the greater part of it, for a small portion
was acquired by James Colquhoun, descended from father to son — a James and a Walter
alternately — till it arrived at the James M'Indoe who sold it to Mr. Guthrie in 1808.

2. James Hendrie's fourth of Carbeth, after belonging to John and Robert Hendrie his
sons, became the property of Robert's daughters, Grizel and Marion. Grizel married, and had
a son and heir, Robert Leckie, who sold his lands to Patrick Leckie, cooper in Glasgow, who,
in his turn, in 1750 sold them to Robert Provan, mason in Lettermiln in Killearn. On the
26th November, 1753, there was a transaction between Robert Provan and James M'Indoe,
porlioner of Auchengillan, by which Robert Provan became laird of James M'Indoe's fourth of
Auchengillan (see Auchengillan), and James M'Indoe became laird of Robert Provan's fourth
of Carbeth. This James M'Indoe was brother of Waller M'Indoe who possessed, as just shown,
another fourth of Carbeth. He was tenant in Auld Marroch, and in 1757 he sold his land to
his brother Walter, whose descendant, James M'Indoe, sold it along with his other fourth to
Mr. Guthrie in 1808.

3. John M'Indoe's fourth of Carbeth, as mentioned in the account of Garvel or Wester
Carbeth, was early divided between his family and a family of the name of Ronald. The
M'Indoe's eighth part of Carbeth remained in the family, and is now life-rented by the wife
of the last John M'Indoe, but the Ronalds' eighth was again subdivided, part of it becoming
the property of the Duke of Montrose, who still owns it, and part being sold back again in
1756 by George Ronald to John M'Indoe's descendant, who retained it till 1780, when it was
sold to James M'Indoe, from whom it was acquired, along with his own parts of Carbeth,
by Mr. Guthrie in 1808.

4. Gilbert Ware's fourth of Carbeth remained in his family till 1775, when it was sold
by his great-great-grandson, Gilbert Weir, to James Colquhoun afterwards of Craigallian, as
explained in the account of Craigallian.

It is impossible to point out accurately the boundaries of the four divisions -of Carbeth.
James M'Indoe's and James Hendrie's fourths seem to have been to the eastward, Gilbert
Ware's is to be found in Craigallian estate, and John M'Indoe's, afterwards divided between
M'lndoes and Ronalds, lay to the westward — the M'Indoes' holding being the present Garvel,
and the Ronalds' apparently a long narrow strip stretching from beyond Garvel Bridge on
the Drymen Road in a north-easterly direction till it reached the Duntreath lands. The
house belonging to the part now in Carbeth Guthrie stood on the side of the road from
the Drymen Road to Strathblane, just opposite the road that now leads to Craigallian
Carbeth, and the house belonging to the part now the property of the Duke of Montrose
stood near Garvel Bridge.

- Carbeth Guthrie and Arlehaven Writs.



The place where the lodge on the Drymen Road now stands was, however,
still in the hands of John M'Indoe, a descendant of the original feuar of it, and
Mr. Guthrie, in order to have some land to make an excambion with him,
bought in May, 1817, from Walter and James Aitken a portion of the lands of
Sunnybank which formed part of Auchengillan. He gave some acres of this to
John M'Indoe in exchange for sundry pieces of land where the lodge now.
stands. The contract of excambion was finally completed by 6th October,
1817, and Carbeth, for it was not yet named Carbeth Guthrie, was complete
and compact. 1

Mr. Guthrie having thus rounded off his estate to the very great advantage
in many ways not only of himself but of his neighbours, Auchengillan, Garvel,
and Arlehaven, and having built good march dykes all round it, next took the
old roads in hand, and under arrangements with the several neighbouring lairds
and with the sanction of the Sheriff made some alterations and formed the
present road which runs from the Drymen Road to the Cult Brae. It is a little
difficult to describe the old road which this replaced. It left the Drymen Road
just at the present lodge gate and was carried nearly straight up to where the
old house of Carbeth stood, as already described ; it then turned to the south
and passed close to where the present Httle lake lies within the policies; from
that it went northward towards an old farm steading which stood just opposite
to the road which now leads to the Townfoot of Carbeth (Mr. Barns Graham's);
from thence it wandered about, keeping the hardest ground it could find, passing
not very far from Old Allereoch steadings which stood about midway in a direct
line between the present Allereoch House and the west end of Carbeth Loch,
and passing also near the place where New Allereoch is now built, and finally it
reached the top of the Cult Brae through Blair's Hill. The new road Mr. Guthrie
made did not take the course he had wished. He had intended to have taken a
much better line, avoiding the Cult Brae by keeping outside of Carbeth altogether
and below Blair's Hill to the north, and thus reaching Strathblane by a gentle
slope, and this he would have done at his own expense, but the laird of Dyke-
house would not hear of it at all at first, and afterwards made such exorbitant
demands, including a certain number of bunches of grapes every year, that Mr.
Guthrie's patience gave way, and the whole district lost a road which would
have greatly raised the value of all the properties in the neighbourhood. Mr.
Foyer of the Cult also opposed this road.

Mr. Guthrie found a few fine old trees on the place when he bought it,
mostly round the old houses, and he afterwards planted Craigmore, Blair's Hill,
and the other strips and plantations. He laid out the gardens, formed the

1 Carbeth Guthrie Writs.


pretty artificial lake within the grounds, built the porter's lodge, where he used
to live in the summer months when his construction of the estate was going on,
and finally built the mansion house and offices of a very hard whinstone taken
from a place near Auld Marroch Toll, masons being brought from Aberdeen to
work it.

The present farm steading was next built and the old one removed, which
has already been described as standing opposite the road leading to Mr.
Graham's Carbeth. A birch tree and a few large stones beside it mark its site.
Old Allereoch steading, also already described, had previously been removed.
The place where it stood is on the north side of the present road, between an
old tree with some stones beside it, on the east end, and an ash tree that
formerly stood at the end of the byre, and still remains on a mound, on the
west. Before Mr. Guthrie removed this house he built for James Norval, who
lived in it, the house at Braehead at the top of the Cult Brae. This was on a
portion of Arlehaven which Norval retained.

Among his other improvements was the removal of a comparatively new
house which stood just where the present house of Allereoch now stands, and
the building of a very pretty cottage, as an object of view from the drawing-room
windows at Carbeth. This cottage was for long inhabited by the foresters on
Carbeth, Allan Evving and Malcolm M'Coll. A small part of it has escaped
the havoc made by recent proprietors of the estate, and is an "annex" of
New Allereoch.

After Mr. Guthrie's death his heir William Smith added " Guthrie " to the
name of the estate, and ever since 1834 it has been known as " Carbeth

This description of Carbeth Guthrie has been somewhat long and minute,
but there is no other place in the parish except Craigend which has so much
changed its character since it left the hands of its original possessors — the
Grahams. Mr. Guthrie found the greater part of it little better than a peat
hagg, and he left it, as the old Duke of Montrose used to say, "The Diamond
of the Desert."

John Guthrie, the maker, so to speak, of Carbeth, was the eldest son of
Robert Guthrie of Baldernock and Elizabeth Smith, daughter of James Smith
of Craigend, in the immediate neighbourhood. Early in life he went to the
West Indies, and when he came home he joined the firm of Leitch & Smith
of Glasgow, the business of his uncles, John Smith of Craigend, James Smith
of Craighead, and Archibald Smith of Jordanhill.

He took a considerable interest in the affairs of the city of Glasgow, and
was a Magistrate, and in 1814 Dean of Guild. He died unmarried in 1834 at
Mount Edgecumbe Cottage in Devonshire, leaving Carbeth to his first cousin,



William Smith, second son of Archibald Smith of Jordanhill, and grandson
of James Smith of Craigend.^

William Smith, like John Guthrie, was a West Indian proprietor, and like
him, too, took a great interest and pride in Carbeth,
keeping it in capital order, and by his judicious manage-
ment making the plantations on it the best in this part
of the country. From 1834 to 1861, when he reluctantly
sold the place, he was the leading man in the parish,
indefatigable in his attention both to county and parish
business. He was also in his day a prominent and
popular citizen of Glasgow, and was Dean of Guild in
182 1 and Lord Provost in 1822, and an active member
of the corps of Glasgow Sharp-shooters, as Rifle Volun- seal of william smith of


teers were then called.^ The purchaser of Carbeth As differenced from jordanMii

. . /-~.iiii/~.i (jvithin a bordjire juveckted),

Guthrie m 1861 was the Rev. John Caldwell Cochran and registered in Lyon office.
Brown, minister of Ceres. He bought it not as a residence, but as a specu-
lation, and with this object in view he cut down the wood on Craigmore, and as
much more in other places as he thought the estate could spare, and in 1872
sold it at a considerable profit to Robert Hugh Fraser of Glasgow.

During the time Mr. Fraser held Carbeth he built a curious wood and
glass addition of several rooms at the back of the house, removed the old stone
gateway on the Drymen Road, and cut down the beautiful oak wood on Blair's
Hill — one of the ornaments of the parish — and then in 1878 sold the somewhat
mutilated estate to Ebenezer M'Alister, of Singapore.

Mr. M'Alister promptly pulled down Mr. Fraser's addition to the house and
built a more substantial one, and swept away the rustic gateway and built one
of stone ; and it is to be hoped he will soon set himself to the task of re-
planting Blair's Hill, and generally " redding up " his property.

^ Mr. Guthrie was a good-looking man, and the writer has been told by an old neighbour
of his that when she was young many a glance did she and the other lasses in Strathblane
Kirk cast at the " bonnie red cheeks and grand gowd spectacles" of the worthy man as he sat
patiently listening to Dr. Hamilton's somewhat lengthy discourses. His portrait by Raeburn
at Mugdock Castle quite bears out this description of the old gentleman.

2 William Smith died in 1871, aged 85 years. By his first wife, Jane, daughter of Alex-
ander Cuningham, and grand-daughter of Sir William Cuningham of Robertland, Bart., he had
Archibald, late Sheriff-Substitute of Lanarkshire, and Cuningham, merchant in Glasgow,
both of whom had families. By his second wife, Sarah, daughter of Henry Wallis of Marys-

Online LibraryJohn Guthrie SmithThe parish of Strathblane and its inhabitants from early times : a chapter in Lennox history → online text (page 6 of 45)